401. Operation Yuletide

Operation YuletideWhat in the heck is Operation Yuletide?

Operation Yuletide is a Christmas charity fundraiser sponsored by this blog.

Another charity fundraiser? Didn’t you do one last Christmas?

Yes. Yes, we did.

Why are you doing another one?

Short answer: People need help.

Slightly-longer-but-still-pretty-short answer: A number of years ago, I heard about the Advent Conspiracy: a movement in which people raise donations for charities instead of asking for Christmas gifts. In other words, the Advent Conspiracy takes some of the money that goes toward holiday shopping and puts it toward helping people.

Helping people how?

The Advent Conspiracy benefits all kinds of charities. TMTF’s fundraiser, Operation Yuletide, is raising money through a Christian organization called Living Water International to provide clean water to people in impoverished areas.

PrintWater? Why water?!

Clean water is one of the world’s most valuable and desperately-needed resources. Safe access to clean water prevents disease, saves lives, enables better education, transforms communities, and brings hope to poverty-stricken areas.

Besides, fresh water is necessary for making coffee. Everybody deserves a cup of coffee, especially at Christmas!

Can’t you discuss anything without mentioning coffee? You have a problem.

I do not have a problem. I get up, I drink coffee, I feel better—no problem.

So this fundraiser, Operation Yuletide, is raising money to provide clean water to poverty-stricken people.

Yup. I named it Operation Yuletide because it’s giving clean water for Christmas. Get it? Yuletide, tide, water. It’s a pun!

I hate you.

We have a mascot and everything. Meet Oswald Grimm.

Oswald Grimm

That’s your mascot? Yeesh.

Oswald is one of Santa’s elves. Well, at any rate, he was. He’s between jobs. Look, Oswald Grimm is all I could afford, okay? This blog doesn’t exactly have a high budget.

Speaking of your blog, where does TMTF fit into all this?

We’re sponsoring the fundraiser, and providing rewards for people who donate.

What kind of rewards?

Well, um, pretty much all the same ones as last year. Donor rewards are divided into tiers. Here they are!

Give $1 or more: Droplet Tier!

Receive a public thank-you on this blog, and bask in the satisfaction of making the world a better place!

Give $5 or more: Trickle Tier!

Receive a personalized thank-you message, sent to the email address of your choice! How nice! All previous rewards are included.

Give $10 or more: Splash Tier!

Receive a personalized thank-you card, sent to the mailing address of your choice! A welcome change from bills and junk mail! All previous rewards are included.

Give $20 or more: Wave Tier!

Receive a brief video in which I thank you personally! Catch a rare glimpse of this blog’s introverted writer and his bespectacled face! The video will be sent as an email attachment or web link to the email address of your choice. All previous rewards are included.

Give $30 or more: Cascade Tier!

Receive an original blog post, or an original poem, on any subject you choose! Receive a guest post for your blog or satisfy your poetic fancy! You may feature this blog post or poem anywhere (or nowhere) on the Internet. All previous rewards are included.

Give $50 or more: Tsunami Tier!

Receive an original short story written to your personal specifications! You choose anything and everything: characters, setting, theme, plot, etc. Enjoy an original story, or bring your wildest, fan fiction-est ideas to life! You may feature this story anywhere (or nowhere) on the Internet. All previous rewards are included.

I can’t guarantee the donation page will track donor information, so send me a message via this blog’s Contact page after donating to make sure you get your rewards!

Let me get this straight. You’re bribing people to throw money at you.

Not at all. I’m thanking people for donating money to give clean water. All donations go to clean water projects sponsored by Living Water International. We at TMTF shan’t receive a penny! This is our little contribution to the Advent Conspiracy. We enjoy being conspiratorial.

Advent ConspiracyIf I donate, when can I expect to get my rewards?

You’ll get ’em as soon as I can finish ’em. I’m afraid I can’t offer any estimated delivery dates.

Does your fundraiser have a definite goal?

The goal is $700 USD.

Flipping heck, that’s a lot of cash—not to mention a weirdly specific number.

I wanted to aim for more than $500, but $1,000 seemed overoptimistic, so I settled on $700. I don’t know if we can reach it, but we can try!

How long will the fundraiser last?

Operation Yuletide will end shortly after Christmas. We’ve got one month to make the world a better, wetter place!

Didn’t you support two charities with last year’s fundraiser? Besides the clean water one, wasn’t there a charity for kids? Why aren’t you supporting it this time? Do you hate kids? You monster!

Hardly anyone donated to the kids’ charity last year, and its website wasn’t very user-friendly. Besides, it was a headache to manage two separate charities in a single fundraiser on top of the usual December craziness.

Fine. How can I support Operation Yuletide?

TMTF now has a button (or widget if you want to be technical) on the top right-hand side of the homepage that will take you to Operation Yuletide’s donation page.

Are you done rambling, or do you have any final thoughts?

Clean water saves lives. I can’t stress this enough. I believe that we, together, can do something to bring life and hope to people in desperate need this holiday season.

Please consider giving clean water this month, and spread the word! A murry Christmess merry Christmas to you all!


374. Feeling Bad for Feeling Bad

Well. If it isn’t the slouchiest blogger I know.

Get out, you miserable git.

I’m wounded, Adam. You’re a lot of awful things, but rude isn’t usually one of them. Insecure, yes; selfish, sure; useless, absolutely; but not rude. Not on a daily basis, anyway.

I’m not in the mood for you right now.

Are you ever?

No, but that doesn’t ever seem to stop you.

You shouldn’t slouch in your desk chair, Adam. It’s bad for your back. I care for your well-being, you know. That’s why I visit occasionally. Because I care.

If you had a face, I would punch it.

Oh, I have a face. And you’re welcome to punch it, but that seems just a bit self-destructive. Anyway, before you get violent, we need to talk about something.

Oh, joy.

You’re depressed, and you need to stop it.

Of course! Why didn’t I ever think of that? I’ll just stop being depressed. Problem solved. Anti-Adam, you’re a flipping genius. What would I ever do without you?

Adam, just shut up. Shut up your face. You know exactly what I mean. Don’t pretend you don’t.

Yes, I know what you mean.

You, Adam, are one of the most ridiculously fortunate people in the universe. You have a loving family. You had a happy childhood. Your cozy little life is full of blessings and creature comforts. Your health is perfect—

Except for chronic depression.

Shut up. Your health is perfect. You have no trauma in your life, no toxic relationships, no awful tragedies. Your old job kinda sucked, sure, but the new one is easy by comparison. Everything about your life is awesome… and here you are, slouching at your desk, whining about how depressed you feel. What is wrong with you?

I don’t feel depressed—I am depressed. There’s a world of difference.

Has it ever occurred to you that maybe the thing you call depression is what everyone else in the world calls being alive? Life can be hard, and that’s a fact. Everyone has bad days. You blame it on depression, and wallow in it.

I do not.

You sure don’t do anything useful, that’s for sure. You just sit around being depressed. And then you feel guilty for wasting your time and potential, moping when you could be writing novels, building a career, or doing something useful with your life.

Are you done?

I could go on, and on, and on, but that’s enough for one day.

Good. Go away.

You’re not going to argue? Fine. I accept your silence as tacit acknowledgment that I’m right.

I wasn’t arguing because—in case you haven’t been listening—I am seriously flipping depressed right now. Do you have any idea how hard it is to function when you’re depressed?

Stop making excuses.

You don’t want excuses? Fine. Have some facts. Depression is a mood disorder, not an emotion. Depression is not a choice. I can choose whether to treat depression, but I can’t choose whether to have it. My life circumstances, good and bad, affect my depression, but they can’t prevent it.

How do you know you have chronic depression? Have you been diagnosed by a doctor?


So you’re guessing.

I’m paying attention. I have most of the symptoms of depression: low mood, abysmal self-esteem, lethargy, inability to find pleasure in things I normally enjoy, lack of focus, inability to function—

All right, yeesh, sorry I asked. If you really think you’re so broken, why don’t you take medications or get counseling?

Who needs counseling when I have you?

Shut up. Seriously, though, if you’re going to insist on having depression, shouldn’t you insist on needing help?

My depression isn’t that bad, thank God. Not anymore. I think I’m doing all right. My depression comes and goes. It doesn’t stay. I won’t worry about my depression unless it lasts more than a couple of weeks at a time. Besides, meds and counseling are expensive.

So that’s it. You insist your depression is authentic, and you’re just accepting it.

Yup. I won’t feel guilty for being depressed, no more than I’ll feel guilty for having a cold or headache. I won’t let you blame me. I won’t feel bad for feeling bad. At least, I’ll try not to feel bad for feeling bad. When my mood and self-esteem are low, it’s an uphill battle.

You’re a fool. And you should stop slouching.

It’s nice to know you care.

227. The Return of the Anti-Adam

Hello, Adam. It’s nice to see you. Wait, did I say nice? I meant nauseating. It’s nauseating to see you.

You again? If someone has to annoy me while I’m trying to write blog posts, can’t it be the other guy?

If you’re talking about the Pro-Adam, he couldn’t make it. Don’t act surprised. You know I visit you much more often than he does.

I know, but I hoped for some variety. His empty praise is a refreshing change from your undeserved insults. What is it this time?

There are a few things, actually. May I sit?


I’ll take the armchair, thank you. First of all, I think some congratulations are in order. You’ve finally given up trying to write novels. Well done! It’s about time you took my advice and stopped embarrassing yourself.

I don’t think I’m a bad writer, and I haven’t given up on The Eliot Papers. I’ve just put the project on hold indefinitely. I believe my circumstances made it necessary.

When you say “my circumstances,” I presume you’re referring to your lack of ambition and talent as a writer. I understand completely. Well, at least you have your blog.

Yes. Yes I do.

Sure, I can understand giving up your lifelong dream of being an author, and instead writing blog posts about exploding tomatoes and video game mustaches and girly cartoons with ponies and rainbows. It’s not as though you could actually be writing thoughtful posts about meaningful things.

do write about meaningful things… occasionally.

When you’re not busy being a frivolous idiot, that is.

I’m allowed to be frivolous! Heck, life would be awful if we had to be serious all the time. It’s the little things that make life livable, and the little blessings that help us appreciate the great ones.

Great blessings? Like grace? You write a lot about grace, expressing the same ideas again and again, like a lunatic muttering to himself. It’s almost as though you were trying to convince yourself of something you don’t really believe.

Belief is hard. “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief.”

And you quote somebody! It was only a matter of time. Do you have even one original idea rattling around in your head, or just a lot of quotes?

I have ideas, really. Quoting people helps me express them.

Your memory stinks. How do you keep track of so many quotes?

I have no idea.

I suppose I can’t blame you for having a bad memory. Fortunately, I can still blame you for lots of other things. Like working a menial job.

It may not pay well, but there are worse jobs than serving persons with disabilities.

And doing absolutely nothing with your college degree.

I plan to use my teaching degree sooner or later—I just renewed my educator’s license, after all!

And being antisocial.

Being introverted and being antisocial aren’t the same thing.

And being afraid of life.

Life is scary!

And making the same stupid mistakes again and again and again.

Well, I’m a human being. We all make mistakes.

Excuses, excuses. You sound awfully confident for someone who spends a lot of his time being depressed.

You’re not going to blame me for that, are you? Lots of great people have suffered from depression. Abraham Lincoln, for example, and also my dear old dad. And have you counted how many good people in the Bible showed symptoms of depression?

You’re glorifying your depression by comparing yourself to great people. That’s classy.

I’m not saying we’re alike because we’re great. I’m saying we’re alike because we’ve suffered from depression. Depression does not a great person make, but it certainly doesn’t make a person any less important or valuable.

I’ve had enough of your prattle for one day. Don’t forget what I’ve told you, Adam. I’ll be back.

Of course you will. Something tells me you’ll never be far away. It’s a good thing you’re not the only one. “The Lord is my shepherd,” and all that.

I’m leaving.

Good. On your way out, would you mind getting me a sandwich?

176. Another Conversation with Myself

This post is the sequel to a previous conversation with myself. I just can’t seem to catch a break, can I? On a brighter note, check out this opportunity to win a free copy of my novel!

Hey, Adam!

For once, can I write a blog post without being interrupted? Is that too much to ask?

Sorry, I didn’t know you were busy. Blog post, eh? It must be for your amazing typewriter monkey blog.

Go away.

Your blog is great, and I love your novel. How many people are published authors? Not many. You’re really something special, dude. And your sideburns are fantastic. Way better than the Tenth Doctor’s.

Blasphemy! Nobody has better sideburns than the Tenth Doctor.

Except for you, Adam. You’re a good-looking guy, you know. And you’ve got a great sense of humor.

Thank you. Now would you kindly shut up and go away?

There’s no need to be so huffy, dude. I was just trying to be nice.

Really? I assumed you were trying to be a pest.

I’ve never tried to be a pest.

Well, I must say you’re doing dashed well for a beginner.

Ha! That was a brilliant comeback. You clever guy, you!

I was plagiarizing P.G. Wodehouse and you know it. Stop being a shameless sycophant.

Dude, I’m just trying to let you know you’re awesome. Totally awesome.

I’m also annoyed. Totally annoyed. Go away!

What’s the problem? You’re so down on yourself, and that other guy is always tearing you apart. He’s like an evil version of you—the Anti-Adam. I just want to build you up. Call me the Pro-Adam.

There’s a difference between building up someone’s confidence and puffing up someone’s ego. The Anti-Adam exaggerates my faults, but you exaggerate my virtues. You’re just as bad.

The Anti-Adam makes fun of you, dude! At least I’m trying to help.

You and the Anti-Adam have different stories, but you’re equally wrong. If you drive a car off the road and crash, it doesn’t matter much whether you’ve gone too far to the right or too far to the lefta wreck is still a wreck.

The Anti-Adam is wrong, but I’m totally legit. Seriously, you’re a great guy.

I don’t want to hear it. “A man who flatters his neighbor spreads a net for his feet.”

Quoting the Bible. That’s classy. I love how you quote people all the time, dude. You’re really smart.

Nah, I’m just really good at faking it.

There you go putting yourself down again! Listen, dude, you can’t deny you’ve got some mad skills. Like playing Mario Kart. Nobody beats you at Mario Kart.

I concede that.

And you’re generous with your money. And you spend forty freaking hours every week serving mentally handicapped men. That’s a tough job. And you’re good at it. You’re really patient—I’ve hardly ever seen you lose your temper. I could go on and on.

Leaving out all the unpleasant bits, of course. You haven’t mentioned that I’m selfish and insecure and sometimes kind of a jerk.

Everyone is, dude. It’s called being human. On the whole, I think you’re a really good person. Don’t pretend you’re not a good writer or a patient guy.

Do you think I should be congratulated for being a decent writer or having a patient temperament? These talents aren’t mine. They’re God’s. At the moment, they’re on loan.

You learned to be a good writer! You learned to be patient! Give yourself some credit!

My gifts and skills and things are like seeds. I didn’t make them grow. All I did was water them. God made them growand he was the one who planted them in the first place.

What about your virtues? You’re kind and respectful and honest.

Only because I’ve been conditioned to be. If I came from a background of abuse or neglect or poverty, I’d be a mess. That’s not what happened. I come from a background of kindness and faith and love, so that’s who I am. I’ve spent my life with good people. They’ve rubbed off on me.

You’re not just naturally a good person, dude. You’ve had to work at it.

I’ve built up some good things, sure, but the foundation was already there.

You’re being modest.

I’m being honest. Whatever goodness I have is borrowed. That’s really all there is to it. Now go away and let me work on my blog. It’s too late to write a new post… but that might not be a problem.

I love your blog, but, um, don’t post this conversation.

Why not? Now then, if you really want to be help, go heat up some water. I don’t know about you, but I could use a cup of tea.

161. A Conversation with Myself

Hello, Adam.

Go away. Trying to write a blog post here.

Ah, yes. A post for your typewriter monkey blog—the one that’s read by tens of people. Some of them may even be mildly interested in what you have to say.

I happen to like my blog, thank you very much.

Of course. I suppose you must. I mean, who else will?

Seriously, go away.

Why don’t you take a break from your blog and work on your novel? Oh, that’s right. You’re still stuck on that chapter. The one you started six months ago.

Hey! The past six months have been crazy and busy and stressful. Survival comes before creative writing. To quote Louisa May Alcott, “First live, then write.”

Ah, it was only a matter of time before you quoted somebody. You really, really enjoy quoting people, don’t you? You think it makes you seem smart and bookish. I think it makes you sound like a pretentious twit.

Yes, I like quoting people. So what? I haven’t given up on my novel, by the way. This is the year I finish the deuced thing.

We don’t use words like deuced in America, son.

I like dated British idioms.

I know, and I think it’s really cute that you use them. Wait, did I say cute? I meant annoying.

Do you know what? I kind of hate you.

That’s funny, Adam, because you and I happen to be the same person. Therefore, if you dislike me, who is it you really dislike?

I wouldn’t mind so much if you were… you know… cooler. A shadow version of me with glowing red eyes, maybe. The Shadow Adam. The Anti-Adam. My evil doppelganger. But you’re not any of these things. You’re just annoying.

The truth is sometimes annoying, but that doesn’t make it any less true. I’m here to give you healthy doses of realism when you get drunk on excitement and optimism. I’m here, Adam, because I care.

You’re twisting the truth and you know it. You’re exaggerating the nasty facts and hiding the good ones and generally making things seem much worse than they are.

Just listen to you! I know you like big words, so here’s one for you to chew on: pontificating. More to the point, stop pontificating!

Would you kindly go away? I need to finish this blog post.

You’ll never be Jon Acuff, you know.

Go away.

You’ll certainly never be C.S. Lewis.

Go away!

You won’t make a difference.

That’s it. Listen here! I will make a difference. It may not be a big difference. It may be a very small difference, but even a small difference can cause a whole lot of good.

Why do I get the feeling I’m about to hear another one of your fancy quotes?

Well, you are. “Sometimes you can feel like what you have to offer is too little to make a difference, but today I learned that every pony’s contribution is important, no matter how small.”

Wait. Wait. Are you quoting that stupid cartoon about rainbow ponies? That’s pathetic, Adam.

Hey! You can’t blame me for being pretentious, and then fault me for being childish.

I can, because you’ve somehow managed to be both. Congratulations.

Dash it, at least I’m trying to do something worthwhile!

Yes, yes you are. Trying and failing.

“Next to trying and winning, the best thing is trying and failing.”

Ah! Do you never stop quoting people?

Shut up and listen. In the vast scheme of things, I might not have much to offer. Individually, few people can change the world. But what if everybody tries? What then?

What if everybody fails?

God used a little boy’s lunch to feed thousands of people. What might he do with a person who tries to be useful?

Fine. Keep trying. See how little difference you make.

I will. Now tell me something. What are you doing to make a difference?

That’s a stupid question.

You don’t have an answer, do you? That’s what I thought. Now go away. It’s too late for me to finish this blog post, so I guess I’ll have to improvise… or maybe not.

You’re going to post this conversation on your blog, aren’t you?


Your readers will think it’s an awkward confession or a plea for attention or something. Besides, this has been a really lame conversation.

Hey! That’s as much your fault as mine! I have to post something today. This conversation is better than nothing. Who knows? Maybe it’ll encourage someone to make a difference—or at least to try. Now go make us some coffee, will you?