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This Is Me Being Uncomfortable: October 2021

This is me being uncomfortable. This is me thinking out loud. This is me sending out my internal monologue into the ether that is the universe. These are my daily observations on life, death, and everything in between. Hello, is anyone out there?


What you are about to read

For the month of October, this post will be one gigantic blog post (a daily journal really). This Is Me Being Uncomfortable will be updated daily or almost every day. Almost because I have kids, so I’m trying to be realistic here. However, you will not receive an email every day when it’s updated. This is the one and only email you will get until November. In other words, you’ll need to bookmark this page to continue reading each day. Alternately, you can go to my blog and click on the link “This Is Me Being Uncomfortable.”

I hope you enjoy this format as much as I think I’ll enjoy writing it.

Now that that’s out of the way.


October 1, 2021

I have a birthday coming up this month. One of the things most bothersome about getting older, at least for guys, is the growth rate of your ear and nose hair. Some mornings I wake up and it’s like Rapunzel let down her hair for me to climb up into my own nostril.

I first became conscious of this about four years ago when I was at Hair Cuttery. After trimming the hair around my ears, the hairstylist sneakily zapped off some hair growing on the side of my ear. It was akin to a “your fly is wide open” type of moment. I would say awkward silence but there was an electric clipper still buzzing.

“Some ear hair,” she said, looking at me in the mirror.

“Let us not speak of this again,” I said, but only in my head and not aloud.

I’m a little embarrassed to say what age I’ll be. Why? Because I still write a blog at the age I’ll be turning. As a matter of fact, I’ve been blogging since before the term blogging was coined (1999). I began in 1997 using Geocities. That’s the year the phrase “web-log” got its roots.

Evolution of blogging

web-log → weblog → blog

I tried Angelfire once early on for a second web-log then hung it out to dry within a month. Geocities, I realized, was my jam. Long story short: I am one of the earliest bloggers the Internet has known who is still blogging today. That’s what I tell myself at least.

Perhaps most of the early adopters of the web-log were on to something when they jumped ship and moved on to the new thing: social media, YouTube, podcast.

Most do all three together now and are far more successful at the Internet than I ever will be; but man, that’s a lot of upkeep and updating.

Me, I like blogging and only blogging. I’m able to reach people all over the world with this little space I’ve carved out in InternetLand. I’ve started, stopped, started again, paused, considered pulling the plug. Yet, all these years later, twenty four to be exact, I’m still here plugging along. Lucky you.

My only regret in terms of blogging all this time is that I didn’t get and stick with a single domain from the jump.

Plans for the day not related to work

  • Run
  • Walk
  • Meditate
  • Sweep
  • Vacuum
  • Dishes

This is my routine most every day now. It’s a bit of a snowball effect in that if I do one, I’m sure to do the next; and if I don’t do one, I’m almost guaranteed not to do the next. It’s how I keep momentum going.

I don’t run, every day, however. Close to it though — usually five days a week.

How many deer will I see on my run today: three, six, or more? It’s like a wildlife preserve where I live. It’s hard to see life as it’s often portrayed in the media as this nasty, volatile place when you start your morning jogging past two fawns with their mother, particularly when they don’t dart away from you.

They just stare at me from a few feet away while I run past greeting them:

Good morning, deer.

The answer I learned is six. I spotted six deer on my run today. There were at least two more camouflaged in the woods because it was their young I saw grazing nearing the end of my jaunt; however, because I didn’t see them with my own eyes, I will not count them in my answer.

A boisterous car alarm sounded in a black Escalade about twenty five yards away while I ran through a residential area. Nearing it, I moved to the other side of the road. My brain said:

“Jeff.”

“Yes, Jeff.”

“Let’s not be on a police report for someone thinking you were carjacking their Escalade. Move to the other side of the road, please.”

“Understood.”

Police report: Yes, the suspect is a male, roughly 6’4” tall, with a beard. At the time of his fleeing the scene, he was wearing a dark gray hoodie and a black cap. Some may say he’s a handsome devil. Others find him a bit too long and gangly for their liking.

Being that I saw no one around the Escalade, my assumption is simply that someone sat on their car keys inside the house and sounded the alarm inadvertently. But I have anxiety, so my anxiety only comes to that conclusion after first suspecting a carjacking.


October 2, 2021

I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.

Flannery O’Connor

I have this quote taped on my wall. It sits under my window and above the back edge of my desk. It’s impossible not to see it when I sit down in front of my computer each morning. It’s a reminder, really.

If I let my thoughts swirl around inside my head without externalizing them into written form, I will be left unable to grasp what all is being said up there. There’s that, of course.

There is also this: we think of our thoughts as true. But that’s not what they are. They are just thoughts. Thoughts like clouds which pass by.

It’s if and how we judge these thoughts that gives it meaning. Our perception becomes our reality.

We forget this. Take, for example, if you place all the ingredients for an apple pie on your counter. Is it yet a pie if the ingredients are just sitting there? Is a clay pot even a pot if you have yet to mold the structure with your hands?

We know the answer to this. Our thoughts are no different. It is only when we take action (judge them, let them pass by, choose to write about them) when they turn into something more.


October 3, 2021

He looked as if he was suffocating. At first, I thought he was choking on something as he grabbed at his throat coming into the front door.

I reached for his inhaler from his soccer bag.

“He can’t breathe,” my daughter said, who had been with him at the time of the attack.

He can’t breathe.

“Breathe in,” my wife told our son Henry.

He sucked in the albuterol from the chamber and snapped partially into a normal breath, then he started burping for a solid fifteen seconds.

“Sit down,” I said to Henry. “Sit up straight so you can get a normal breath in.”

This had never happened before. Not like this.

Years ago, when my son was around two years old, he was diagnosed as “pre-asthmatic.” There were times late into the night when he would wake up having trouble breathing. The trigger seemed to be seasonal allergies.

We met with the doctor and he was prescribed an inhaler for emergency use only. But that was years ago and he had never had an issue. So, when my son was around six, the doctor said he had likely outgrown it.

Earlier this year, after a break from soccer due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we signed the kids back up again. During his first game, he came running over my way wheezing. I sat him down next to me and worked with him on his breath.

The wheezing was mild; but still, it was concerning.

“I want to go back in,” he said.

“Buddy, I can’t let you go back in just yet,” I told him. He was visibly upset.

I called my wife who was across town with our daughter at her game and told her what happened.

“We need to have him seen by the doctor and see if he needs a new prescription,” I said to her as my son and I packed up after the game and headed out.

I’ve long suspected my son had COVID back at the end of January and beginning of February 2020 before it was “officially” here in the U.S.

“Just a mystery virus,” we were told. He had a fever of 103, down to 99, back up to 103 for a solid two weeks; his food “tasted funny,” he said; he had a dry cough which persisted for weeks and that I also developed a milder version of (my wife and daughter I believe were asymptomatic); he missed two weeks of school.

He developed this mystery virus shortly after, as a family, we found ourselves at the emergency room at UVA Hospital for an accident my daughter had been in.

“Stop touching stuff,” I told my son in the waiting room. It was the height of flu season and being that we were in the ER, I wasn’t trying to find ourselves picking up some crud to bring back home.

Two days later, my son came down with a nasty virus. I took him to the doctor where he tested negative for flu and strep. A few days later, we were at the hospital having x-rays to rule out pneumonia. All the while, the newscast is blaring what’s going on in China. Nothing, supposedly, was here yet.

They know better now. Hospital reports across the U.S. show an increase in respiratory infections and lung-related hospitalizations as early as December 2019.

Following his visit to the doctor this June, he was again prescribed a rescue inhaler.

We’d never had to use it. The wheezing ceased. But we told him, if ever feels a shortness of breath, we need to know immediately.

Then yesterday afternoon, an asthma attack.

An actual full-on asthma attack.

I’d never seen one in person.

It was terrifying to say the least. It was easily one of the scariest moments I’ve ever experienced as a parent.

There your child is right in front of you and there is zero air coming into his lungs. He’s starting to discolor and looks like he is suffocating. He is suffocating.

Thank God we had a new prescription for albuterol and it was sitting right there, quite literally, at the front door when he came into the house.


October 4, 2021

The crows and hawks were raising a ruckus this morning. My initial assumption was that the crows were teaming up to mob the hawk and drive him out of the area. This activity is not an unusual occurrence. The hawk let out a screech and flew across the sky. He called out again as he perched atop a large oak. A set of blue jays sent out an alarm of their own as they darted close to the ground.

It was then I realized the crows and hawks weren’t bickering at all. Something else must be stirring. It’s doubtful to be a cat though the squirrels and Carolina wrens had now joined in on the chorus of calls alerting feathered and furred friend alike of a predator in their midst. Hawks show no fear of cats that I’ve ever witnessed. I’ve seen a hawk snatch a house cat from the woods here.

I walked to the end of my driveway to get a better look at the commotion. In doing so, I spotted a fox sneaking its way up the street. The crow followed cawing loudly, drifting downward in a dive-bombing maneuver. The fox then slunk its body down into the storm drain opening at the edge of the road.


October 5, 2021

Waking at 3:30 AM has become a common occurrence.

Just me and the house centipedes hunting.

There’s a peace that comes with waking this early. A level of comfort in the quiet. Is this the default state of existence for those with a more quiet mind when the sun comes up?

Is this peacefulness I feel how someone without anxiety feels most all the time?

Running through the woods, I hear the call of a rooster.

The first rooster to crow at dawn is the highest ranking.

When we moved into our home eleven years ago, nothing gave me the heebie jeebies more than waking up that first morning and seeing all the giant house centipedes crawling around in the bathroom.

I realized swiftly how we were far from the only inhabitants in our home.

How things change with time. Now when I see the creepy, crawling house centipede, I bid them a good morning. I’ll even give them a little one fingered wave as I do.

“Hey, little buddy,” I say to them.

Hey, little buddy.

I let them be to hunt and I no longer kill them.

On rare occasion, say when they are on the ceiling above my bed, do I catch one in a clear container and place it outside. I’m careful not to injure one of its many (15) legs.

The thought of that beneficial but still rather gnarly bug dropping down onto my lap while my eyes are closed is still a bit much to bear.

The diet of a house centipede

  • roaches
  • flies
  • moths
  • silverfish
  • termites

They lasso their prey with their two front legs and inject venom into its side, then it’s chow time.


October 6, 2021

“The lover of nature is he whose inward and outward senses are still truly adjusted to each other; who has retained the spirit of infancy even into the era of manhood. His intercourse with heaven and earth, becomes part of his daily food. In the presence of nature, a wild delight runs through the man, in spite of real sorrows.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature and Walking

October 7, 2021

Two things I dislike about blogging

  1. The process of creating individual blog posts every time I sit down to write.
  2. Knowing that an automated email goes out in turn for every single one of those posts.

This experiment solves for both: there’s one continual post for the month and one email that goes out (went out) on Day 1.

It means a decline in readership because unless you do the email update bit people just don’t return in the same numbers. But that’s okay. I’m happier writing in this way.

Otherwise, I feel like I’m bugging people. It’s an old school maneuver. If you want to read what is here, you just swing back by whenever you’d like — unprompted — and you can read what’s new.

Throughout the first seven days of writing This Is Me Being Uncomfortable, I’ve come to the conclusion that quite a few bloggers would write far more if they switched to this habit.

Just write every day of your life. Then see what happens.

Ray Bradbury, American novelist

October 8, 2021

In the name of God, stop a moment, cease your work, [and] look around you.

Leo Tolstoy

Perhaps the book which has made the single biggest impact on me in the past twelve months is A Book of Simple Living from acclaimed writer Ruskin Bond. From the back cover:

‘Mist fills the Himalayan valleys, and monsoon rain sweeps across the hills. Sometimes, during the day, a bird visits me-a deep purple whistling thrush. She perches on the window sill, and looks out with me at the rain.’

This personal diary records the many small moments that constitute a life of harmony-with the self, the natural world, and friends, family and passersby. In these pages, we watch a wild plum blossom and the moon come up between two deodar trees; we hear a redstart whistle and the rain drum on a tin roof; we recognize the aftermath of loss and the consolation of old companions. ‘A Book of Simple Living’ is a gift of beauty and wisdom from India’s most loved, and most understated, writer.

Ruskin Bond, A Book of Simple Living

If you purchase A Book of Simple Living, I may earn an affiliate commission (at no cost to you), which helps pay for the operating costs of this blog.

A Book of Simple Living is a book where nothing happens and yet everything (life) does. It’s a personal diary — not a novel, not a memoir. There’s no real drama of man; instead, daily observations on a life lived in harmony with nature.

You read about a cat basking in the sun, the resilience of a marigold, a lonely fox in the moonlight. I tend to gravitate toward books such as this. The self-made problems of man in terms of our individual and collective relationships and dilemmas have, I’ve found as each year progresses in my life, become more off-putting than not.

“Meanwhile, I’ll continue being an eight year old,” writes Ruskin Bond, who is now 87 years old. “I was feeling a bit low, so I played marbles with the children. They won all the marbles, but I felt better.”

In a way, A Book of Simple Living is what inspired me to keep this daily journal. The writing here is far less beautiful than Bond’s. Regardless, I find a camaraderie in the way he lives his life. It’s so easy to get caught up in the world and yet be so far removed from it at the same time.

What do I mean by this? It’s like I wrote about earlier this month that it’s hard to view the world as this nasty place when a deer and its fawns greet you before 7 AM. I make it a point to have an occurrence with nature like this every day — throughout the day, really.

It’s still dark out but I can already hear the crows cawing about, checking in on each other to ensure their loved ones made it through another night. I hear the sharp chirps of the cardinal. The constant hum of the crickets.

These sounds, save for the crow perhaps, will be erased and crowded out as soon as man awakes and the light enters the sky and our vehicles beat down the roads and our industries remove dirt and soil in the name of progress.

But the sounds and sights of nature are still there. You just have to tune the ear and focus the eye.


October 9, 2021

My son randomly started talking about Ghostbusters today. It reminded me of this clip I recorded of him from five years ago around the same time (October):

“But there’s no Ghostbusters in Charlottesville.”

October 10, 2021

It’s Joshua Holt’s birthday today. I won’t say how old he is but he is one year and nine days older than me. His birthday is pretty much the only friend’s actual date of birth I can ever remember. Perhaps it’s because my dog Pepper died on his birthday when we were in 9th grade.

All of my other friends, save for Jeremiah (born May 8), I can only ever remember the rough vicinity of their birthday.

For example, I texted Dwayne a few weeks ago and said, “Happy (early or belated) 40th, dude.”

I know Andy was born in May, but I never can remember the day. I know Robbie and Rick were born the same day (June 22 if I remember correctly), but I always forget to wish them a happy birthday on their actual birthday.

Somehow, after all these years, I still remember Josh’s; and so I call him every year and sing to him or something of that nature.

This is what Josh looked like 22 years ago (left). Scott’s in the background. Dwayne is out of the photo. I’m singing. I actually hated those pants I’m wearing. I must not have had my shredded jeans handy or they stunk to high heaven.

We were all once in a legendary band together known as Anti-Lou, the greatest cow pasture rock ‘n roll band to ever exist.

If you were not able to experience this epic time period, it truly is a loss in your life.


October 11, 2021

Walking through the woods
I came upon a box turtle.
It did not retreat into its shell;
it lay there,
a mess of itself,
eating a wild mushroom
for breakfast.


October 12, 2021

The blue jays have spotted the water dish.

Someone let their dog do its business next to my trash can parked at the curb.

Dear headache,
please go away.

Comedians doing stand-up for an hour are funny; comedians hosting daily podcasts just sound cynical and angry about everything — a constant search within the fleeting elements of pop culture for a punchline that doesn’t exist, or is, at best, amiss and strangled by too many said aloud observations, instead of a contemplated parsing.

Yet here I am. The irony. But I’m not a comedian and this isn’t a podcast. But still.

Remember when you were a kid and no one gave a single thought to a politician? Ah, the good old days.

So much talent in the NBA, yet every day the talking heads:
— Kyrie!
— Ben Simmons!

Time for my nightly glass of milk. I drink two large glasses of milk every night before I go to sleep. I drink it from a Ball jar. The type of jar you would can string beans in.

I was never the little boy obsessed with superheroes — Wolverine, perhaps, the exception.

Speaking of Wolverine: Wolverines! I should re-watch Red Dawn, the original. A true classic.

Someone please hide the chocolate a little better in this house.


October 13, 2021

Pink ribbons lace the blue sky
as the night yawns, awakening
from a deep slumber.


October 14, 2021

deer in driveway

Deer diary

In a way, this has become a bit of a Deer Diary and less of a Dear Diary. Here, upon my return from a morning run, a group of deer graze in my front yard by my driveway.


October 15, 2021

The fog shrouds the carcass at the edge of the road; a forest dweller — young, still. A dried patch of blood like a smattering of acrylic paint on her light brown coat. A busted headlamp somewhere, at best. Goodbye my morning friend.


October 16, 2021

If I had the chance to go back in time and change one aspect of my writing habit, it would be keeping a daily journal. My perspective on daily life has changed pretty dramatically over the past seventeen days since I started writing this: what you are reading right now.

It may not seem as if something so simple could bring about such a drastic shift in one’s frame of mind, but it has. I’d recommend it to anyone and everyone, particularly those with:

It’d be interesting to know what percentage of the population actually has one or more of the above — or, for the lucky few, every single one of those.

The common theme for the conditions above, in my opinion, has one little thread running through them all that is often overlooked because it may not be pooling at its surface; and that is, a suppression of creativity and the inability to fully express or externalize the active imagination.


October 17, 2021

Live with cause and leave results to the great law of the universe. Pass each day in peaceful contemplation.

Zangetsu, Chinese zen priest during the Tang Dynasty

By Jeffrey Pillow

Jeffrey Pillow is an American short story writer, memoirist, and poet. He is the author of The Lady Next Door. His writing has been published in Urge Magazine, The Nervous Breakdown, 16 Blocks, USA Today, Sports Illustrated, TheBody.com, New York Times, Washington Post, and Richmond Times-Dispatch.

He grew up in the small town of Phenix, Virginia, population: 200, and now lives in Charlottesville with his wife, two kids, and a dog named Mozzarella Cheese. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia where he was a Rainey Scholar. This is his blog.

4 replies on “This Is Me Being Uncomfortable: October 2021”

I had to laugh! Nose hair, ear hair, (chin hair for women…say WHAT!!),and not to fail to mention…ears and nose NEVER stop growing! I guess my Nasorhinoseptaplasty will fail me eventually! Haha!

Love this blog, but your dear mama has never know how to bookmark OR if I’ve figured it out, how to find it and open it!

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