I worried about permanent nerve damage for the first time today.

I worried about permanent nerve damage for the first time today.

On Monday I underwent sleep apnea surgery. I wasn’t afraid. I trusted my surgeon.

I had my first post-op visit today. I’m healing a half-week ahead of schedule. My surgeon removed most of the rubber bands holding my jaw closed. He said my muscles were still too weak to hold my jaw in place. He showed me how to replace bands that snapped.

Two hours later, I moved a band to make my right and left sides symmetrical. My maxilla, lower lip, and parts of my chin went numb. I had recently regained feeling in these parts, having lost it after surgery. Losing it again concerned me. My speech deteriorated. I sweat in fear.

I sent a message to my surgeon. Those can take days to return. I called his office. They close at 5. I called a doctor I knew. She said permanent nerve damage can’t be done overnight.

I believe her. I still feel panicked. Each sensation in the chin prompts terror. Sure, they remind me I have sensation there, but they also feel like a stretched nerve. Worse, I still feel pain from the surgery and can’t separate the normal surgery pain from any pain I might have caused. My mind spins:

  • Will a stretched nerve always regain sensation over time, just as happened in the days post-surgery?
  • If properly-placed bands are holding my teeth in the right position, will I definitely be all right?
  • How much leeway do I have in the band placement? (I.e. I am pulling my jaw forward slightly more than when I left the doctor’s office. Is that safe?)
  • Did I cause myself permanent nerve damage?

I’ve never dealt with questions like this before. They terrify me.

I hereby complete 45 days.

Since this year began, I have written and published each day. (Some “days” were completed 2 am the next morning, but I pre-determined that to be okay.)

I only once spewed a first draft, tabbed to publish a different writing, and forgot to polish the original spewing. A technical success, but not within the spirit of the law (nor something I’d like to repeat).

Since May 2017, I’ve written every day. (In addition to that half-time, I’ve only forgotten once, wherein I wrote twice the next to compensate). I’ll continue this habit, probably for the next eight years. That would make ten. Hell, I could do this for life.

If I die Monday, may my tombstone read,“Died doing what he loves.”

On Monday I go in for Jaw Surgery. If I die, I want my tombstone to read, “Died doing what he loves.[1]

I’ve never seen a footnote on a tombstone. Nor ellipses. I’m updating the medium. The joke makes it more palatable.

I joke because I’m afraid. I’m afraid because it’s frightening. I’ve never been closer to death than I will be on Monday.

I’ve always mused on death. I wrote my first auto-obituary at 13. The same way some people use the largesse of space to decrease their anxiety; I use death to accept depression. When I wake up late enough that I feel grumpy, the phrase “death and taxes” echoes in my mind. It reminds me of two crucial elements – timeliness and humor. One makes today matter and the other makes life worth living.

I’m spending tomorrow and Sunday advising a local high school youth group, and Saturday with my dad. If I die, let it be known I went out doing what I loved.


[1] Self improvement.

Okay, cocaine.

What if my dating profile were just a list of my values?

What if my dating profile were just a list of my values? After all, that’s what I’m searching for.

My values, 9 Feb 2019

(In the order they came to me)

  1. Clarity
  2. Positive impact
  3. Humor
  4. The human species
  5. Art
  6. Animals
  7. Honesty of impact, not necessarily of speech
  8. Freedom
  9. Writing
  10. Exploration
  11. Freedom
  12. Games
  13. Family
  14. Word choice
  15. Sex
  16. Touch
  17. Personal optimization
  18. [Censored for privacy]
  19. Privacy
  20. Sleep
  21. Personal improvement
  22. The youth group I advise
  23. [Censored for privacy]
  24. My long-form creative projects (especially my novel. Soon to be my TV show as well)
Previous values that no longer carry such great strength:
  1. Habits
  2. Winning
  3. Poker
  4. Board games (comes back out when I’m with old friends/family)
  5. [Censored for privacy]


Why do I consistently wait until the last minute to complete work? (I recently completed my largest project of all time. I had over a month to complete what amounted to 44 hours of work, yet I still crunched through 38 hours in the final two days, staying up until 5:30 am and evolving into a giddy, manic machine).

  1. Being in time-crunch is thrilling and I enjoy a good rush.
  2. It makes work take less time, and I don’t like work. (Since I don’t have time to lollygag or double-back, I don’t lollygag or double back).
  3. “That’s a problem for future-Julian, and what has that guy ever done for me?”
  4. I’m a lazy fuck… who does what he promises. (I would never do it, but that’s not an option so I come as close as possible.)
  5. The system works so I have no incentive to change it.
  6. You never know when the teacher will change the assignment last minute. Did I say “teacher”? I meant “customer”. They’re shockingly similar.

Why “Always Better”?

Why do I call my blog “Always Better”? Four reasons:

  1. It should be strictly better than some other activities. Eating popcorn or browsing Reddit, for example: this blog should Always be a Better use of time.
  2. I Always want to be a Better writer. Better than who? Better than I was yesterday. Better than I was this morning. Better than I’ve ever been.
  3. It’s a pun for what I wanted to be when I started the blog: Better in All Ways. [1]
  4. They say creative lives are a gamble.  That makes this blog is a bet, which means I’m Always Betting.[2]

[1]  I no longer want that. Instead, I’ve turned off improvement in some areas to focus more on the few I care strongly about.

[2] I haven’t fount my creative life particularly gamble-y, but that’s a topic for another time.

I hope he realizes he’s a Little Shit

“Fuck you!” yells the boy-child biking past. He pauses a moment, then adds, “And your mom!”

His comment fills me with Righteous Joy in these final moments completing my cycle home. See, I was once a Little Shit too:

  • In 4th grade, I fist-fought over a chair.
  • In 6th, I bit a 3rd grader. I did, however, apologize to him! (… this year.)
  • The summer after 9th, I realized my loneliness wasn’t the world’s fault. I lacked friends due to that aforementioned Shittiness. (That same summer, I discovered women. Coincidence? I think not.)

As a reformed Shit, I now carry the mantle of informing Shits when they’re being Shitty.

In advising a youth group, I once explained to a high school senior the reasons it’s inadvisable to urinate in a public school trashcan. To get through to him, I employed the phrase “sex offender registry.”

I yell “Yo!” when it becomes first apparent this boy-child biker is being Shitty. He hurtles down the two-lane path at a rapid pace, clearly intent on swerving around the woman-with-dog and into my lane of the tight, dark tunnel. Upon hearing my yell, he slows, so I relax… but then the Shit passes her anyway! At the same moment as me! Dangerous? Yes! And also stupid as fuck! Maybe wait for half-a-second, Dumbass?

After passing into safety, I holler, “Don’t do that!” (admittedly as a schoolmarm would chide a child), so he delivers the epithet invoking my mum.

I was a Little Shit once, but now recognize my Shitness. One day, I hope this Little Shit does too. ‘Til then, fuck him! And his mom!

Paul Simon

We don’t see musical legends to hear music; we come to view the divine. Headphones are better for music. I saw Paul so I could think, “That’s the closest to God I’ve ever seen.”

He opened with America, which stabs my chest with recollections of love for someone who disappears for months at a time. Then came hit after hit that even your kids would know.

He didn’t sing Bridge over Troubled Water or Mrs. Robinson – both #1s. “Maybe he doesn’t want to sing them without Garfunkel.” But he sang The Sound of Silence, and that was a Garfunkel song. (And anyway, it’s not about the music).

His solo pieces strip the man down to emotional expression. His body drops away and Paul becomes a voice, guitar, and poetry.

Can we substitute in a bad rendition of those two #1s instead of the string-backed songs he played that no one knew? Does he care about my opinion? Should he?

There goes a man who achieved his purpose. He lived a satisfying, accomplished life. What more is there?

How can my writing impact as many lives as his did, and still provide the high of thousands making pilgrimage en masse to realize I’m not God?

I don’t believe in “Character Alignment.”

After five years of wanting, I played my first D&D game today. Upon creating my character—Pimbleton the Great and Powerful and Mighty and Strong, a three-foot-tall gnome who rode into the world on a lightning bolt thrown by Zeus and spent twenty years enslaved by a cereal company who forced him to be their mascot before rising to monarch of a race of undersea people—I was asked what his “alignment” is. This refers to a 3×3 grid, with axes of “Lawful vs Chaotic?” and “Good vs Evil?”

  • Is he lawful-good, like Superman?
  • Chaotic-good, like Robin Hood?
  • Lawful-evil, like Senator Joseph McCarthy?
  • Chaotic-evil, like The Joker?


I disliked this question. It feels wrong-directional. We can describe an action as one of these, but they don’t describe the whole person.

  • What about a lawful-good character whose father was killed by an orc and therefore has developed deep-seated racism against them? If she’s lawful-good in every other instance, must she also be lawful-good toward orcs?
  • Or a chaotic-evil character with a soft spot for small, furry animals? Must he suffocate every bunny he meets, simply because he beheads every human in his way?

Actions should come from who someone is, not the easiest way to classify them. There’s no such thing as acting “out of alignment.” There’s only acting in character or not.

I feel the urge to text my exes, “Marry me?”

I feel the urge to text my exes, “Marry me?”

It’s not a serious question. I’m not a serious person. I’d text them for the same reason I took the side running path this evening to follow a guy wandering down it to pee. I wanted to see his reaction as I approached, catching him with his pants down. ‘Twas a sweet and savory surprise and amazement with impressively little (I saw no) fear. I wanted him to doubt for a moment the reality of the world around him.  I didn’t stop beside him or start up a conversation—that would make him feel unduly uncomfortable—but continued running as though our meeting were happenstance.

As long as I can remember, I’ve considered myself the Jester. Not the king or ingénue but the comic relief. The one who enthralls the world by showing people a side of themselves they forget exists. The side that compulsively touches every street sign and picks up a tree branch to smash it in half. The side that caws at women squatting across the creek and still, at 25, enjoys high-pitched “ting” sounds. The side we all share that’s exhilarated by destruction.

I’ve had this notion—text “Marriage?”—more than once. I’ve never done it, because it would hurt a person and ruin a relationship.

My relationships with exes have recently lost their importance. What if I picked a small one—one of my many lesbians, like the woman who wanted my babies at eighteen and has now been married to another woman for the past three years? What if I tried it–just a little, you know, to see how it feels? It’s mean, yes, but also I’m curious. Great art often ruffles the comfortable and comforts the ruffled, and I’m clearly quite ruffled in this here mood. Some people simply want to fluff the world. 

I pranked a friend last year, setting him up for a surprise lunch with Mormon missionaries. I thought he’d enjoy it. I never lied to either party, but also didn’t tell each who was coming. My friend was minorly annoyed that I’d wasted his time and majorly peeved I’d been rude to the Mormons—as he put it, “by using them in a prank.” I’m sure the Mormons were fine—we remain friends to this day. They received a free lunch and a warmer lead than their typical method of knocking on random doors. Still, I miscalculated. The friend didn’t appreciate it. I miss my former image of that friendship. I miss the friendship I thought we had. I miss feeling less alone, less one-of, less off.

In college, a friend turned my room into its mirror image. He moved every item to its exact opposite location. Clever prank. Great friend. I had to move each item back. Every prank comes with a cost. I wish I had more friends who played pranks on me.

When life feels like today, I’d even take an engaging negative: the loss of a beloved pet or someone breaking my heart. But those take investment—devoting enough love to something that losing it hurts. I’ve had trouble doing that since my most recent breakup. I’ve claimed it’s because I haven’t found a new someone. It’s really because I haven’t been looking.