I’ve been feeling really bad about myself lately. All of my blogger buddies are getting into anthologies or winning awards and I have a bunch of worthless, unfunny posts drafted. And the one post I’m willing to publish is just me whining to my few readers about my craptastic writing. Probably the stupidest route to take.

Did he just write ‘craptastic?’

Yeah. He totally did.

Holy shit. He’s right. He sucks. I’m out of here.

Where you going? You’re my ride!

We’re imaginary and I didn’t drive.

I still need a ride.

It gets worse when I consider my life outside of writing. I come from a family where men are men and men build shit. They fix shit. They make shit. I can take a shit, but I only make two things: coffee and mistakes. If I didn’t resemble my brother so closely, I swear I’d believe there was a switch-up at the kennel where my mom said she rescued me.

On top of all my personal malaise: Winter’s refusal to cede control of the Office of Weather to Spring has completely drained what little fight I had left.

But recently, just as things got unbearably dark, something unexpected happened. There I was, sitting in the gloom. Communing with the gloom. Being stalked by Death. And some survival part of my brain inexplicably powered on. Some fail-safe engaged, producing  a weak, yet panicked, thought.

You may be a useless idiot, but you’ve never burned a house down. 

And there it was: my emotional life preserver. And the me part of me clung to it. I thought You know what? That’s pretty damn good! Not everyone can say that! I have something to offer the world!

I sensed some incredulous subconscious relief He bought it!  But I ignored that and moved forward with my new energy. Jeff takes what he can get.

Did he just refer to himself in the third person?

Moving forward.

I’ve never burned a house down. Well, there was that one time I fell sleep gazing at the gently dancing flame of a candle and woke up to my father smashing handfuls of flames through the screen in my bedroom window. But the house didn’t burn down, and that’s a good a place as any to start rebuilding my self-worth.

So here is a list of five steps you can take right now to ensure that your house will not burn down:

  1. DO NOT fall asleep watching a candle. As tempting as it is, don’t lay in bed staring at that single dancing flame while listening to The Crow soundtrack or maybe The Cure’s All Mixed Up. Yeah, that’s even better! That would be awesome! It would look like the fire is swaying with the opening bass riff on Fascination Street. Then, when the keyboards kick in, you’ll be all set. If it’s summer, leave the window open a crack. Breathe that fresh air and go with the flow of flame and music. Holy shit, if you don’t have good dreams with THAT send-off, maybe you need to do a shot of Fireball or something. Maybe keep the bottle there on the nightstand next to the burning candle so you won’t have to get up.
  2. DO NOT own a space heater. Space heaters will burn your goddamn house the fuck down. I don’t know why they make them. They’re always in the news during the winter. You’ll hear a news anchor say “space heater” while firefighters are hosing at a fire in the news footage. The firefighters might look bored, but they’re really just tired of your space heater bullshit.
  3. Try not to spontaneously combust. I gotta say this seems to affect only a small number of people.  They’ll completely incinerate, out of nowhere, leaving nothing but one leg with a shoe on and ashes everywhere else. These victims are usually old women. So try not to be an old woman who wears shoes? But if you are, drink lots of water all day. And maybe stay outside just in case. That way, if you burn up, at least your house won’t. You might lose a chair though.
  4. There’s something you should look into about dryer vents. I have a friend who owns an HVAC business and he was a fireman for a while. He’s always going on and on about goddamn dryer vents. I don’t remember exactly what I’m supposed to do with the fucking dryer vent to keep my house unburned-down. But obviously I’m doing it because my house is still standing. Is yours? Just Google “dryer vents house fire” or “dryer vent fire safety” or some shit like that. I’m sure you’ll find something.
  5. DO NOT burn your house down. Do not seize the opportunity when the rest of your family is away to finally do something about the shithole you live in. Do not pour gasoline all over your belongings as you sob out “Fuck this mess!” Do not make sure that everything you ever wrote–along with the piece of shit asshole laptop you wrote all that dreck on–is in the center of the living room where you poured most of the gas. Do not reflect on a decade of misery and failure as you toss the match on the trail of accelerant that leads directly to the joke of a life you’ve tried to construct. Do not laugh-cry as you watch the flames erase your mistakes, as the heat from your redemption makes the skin on your forehead feel tight and a little uncomfortable, causing you to back up a few steps. DO not tell the first responders that you’ve “made it all better now. Allllll better now.”

This is pretty much the extent of my lifestyle expertise. I have written a series of DIY posts about clutter and defrosting the freezer and home security and lawn maintenance, so you can check those out too.

Also, if this post goes over well, I’ll continue with more life hacks. Like the key to finding a job. I’ll tell you right now what that is: don’t shoot a killer whale in the face. I’ve never shot a killer whale in the face and I have a job. Even though those fucking orcas are just ASKING for it. Don’t.

When is spring?


  1. Dude, you also managed to not die while writing this. Don’t sell yourself short. You are a brilliant writer and a great not dying guy.

    • jeffandjill

      03/30/2015 at 1:56 pm

      Thanks Andy. I appreciate the support. This post is really an exercise in burning my bad feelings down. Yeah, that’s it! I’ve symbolically burned all my doubts and the flames are giving me new energy. I’m just going to go with that.

  2. Jeff, you are fantastic! I’m now in a position to not burn my house down thanks to your blog, though, with the amount of rain we’re getting, I probably couldn’t if I tried.
    Please, please let Spring get here soon.

    • jeffandjill

      03/30/2015 at 2:26 pm

      No kidding. Though I will say, I’d much rather be looking forward to the spring than back on summer. So many good days ahead!

  3. I’m finding these guidelines very restrictive. I mean, if I can’t spontaneously combust in my own home, then where CAN I spontaneously combust?

    • jeffandjill

      03/30/2015 at 2:38 pm

      This is America! Of course you can combust in the privacy of your own home. It’s just if you don’t want that home to burn down, you might want to plan your spontaneous combustion for an outside patio or something. I might have to write a follow-up post titled, “Planning your Spontaneous Combustion: Where, when, and how to go up in flames.” Obviously we need clearer guidelines.

  4. Staring into a candle seems oddly soothing, but this post bumped me from 50/50 to a solid 86.3% sure it’s a bad idea. WELL DONE YOU.

  5. Well, it seems I’m a complete failure. I’m one of the few people who can’t say they haven’t burned a house down. But does it count as a complete failure if it wasn’t my house? Here’s another helpful hint for you readers: Do not, under any circumstances, break the base of your best friend’s ocelating table fan and then duck tape it back together. There’s a good chance she’ll leave on while she goes out to dinner at Ruby Tuesday’s in the mall with her family. While she’s eating her grilled chicken sandwich, the base of her ocelating table fan just might fall apart causing it to fall into the basket of clean laundry her mother placed under her nightstand. A sock could get tangled in the fan blades, and the blades might get stuck. If the blades get stuck the little motor will definitely overheat and burst into flame. And no matter how many 911’s you send to you best friends pager (you raced on over as soon as your ex kind-of-boyfriend randomly called your teen line to tell you your best friends house is on fire), she won’t return your call, because she’s having mandatory family time. She will return from Ruby Tuesdays, siblings and parents in tow, to find you, you other best friend, and all her neighbors crowded outside your house watching the volunteer fire fighters drenching it with hoses and cutting holes in it with chainsaws. So, yeah, ocelating fans with plastic bases are definitely bad news…

    • jeffandjill

      03/31/2015 at 2:50 pm

      OUCH. But the good news is that you are raising awareness and preventing a very specific kind of disaster. I love that you’ve offered that tip here. Now all we need are readers. Hilarious story (for everyone whose house wasn’t burned down. Sorry.)

  6. Today I was complaining – okay, I was wailing – to my husband about my general lack of awesomeness. And you know what he said to me?

    He said, “I can’t fly without wings. Am I sad about that? Yeah, a little.”


    I have no fucking idea.

    • jeffandjill

      03/31/2015 at 2:46 pm

      Sorry to laugh. But that is hilarious. It’s almost a non sequitur. You could have said ANYTHING back to him and it would have made total sense. “Mayonnaise was my gang name.”

      • I kept making him repeat it all night, because every time I would just die laughing. He was totally serious though. Like, counseling me.

        • jeffandjill

          04/01/2015 at 9:19 am

          You need to get him wings. Either the little pin that airlines used to hand out to kids or fairy wings from a little girl’s Halloween costume or a bowl of chicken wings. After you give him his wings, open a window and declare “You’re free now! Go! Fly! Be fulfilled!”

  7. #5 is always a big risk for me. I fantasize about losing it all (the stuff, not the people) and getting to start over with nothing. I would buy way less stuff next time.

    p.s. I’m not in any anthologies or winning awards or anything either. Solidarity!

    • jeffandjill

      04/02/2015 at 9:56 am

      I once traveled with the family to a resort for the weekend–actually it was for a homeschooling conference. And I fantasized about returning to a pile of smoldering relief.

      Sorry that you’re in the same boat. But weren’t you picked up by Erma Bombeck Writer’s Something or Other? That was good! And I’m sure you guys will find much more success. Well-deserved success.

      In the meantime: There are two largely thankless endeavors: Parenthood and Blogging.

  8. See? Even when you’re having a bad day (or seven) you are still looking out for other people to make sure they don’t have an even worse day due to sudden combustion (I’m 40 this year, so I figure I have another 15-20 years of wearing shoes without risk) AND making them piss themselves laughing because even on a craptastic day you are still not crap at all. And if you made them piss themselves laughing DURING spontaneous combustion causing them to self extinguish well then you probably just saved their goddamn life to boot.

    • jeffandjill

      04/03/2015 at 12:44 pm

      Well, thank you! And I’m sure you’ll be safe from combusting. Combusting isn’t a word. If it were a word, I bet it would mean to interrupt communication. “Quit combusting me! I’m trying to talk.”

      I bet that behind every woman who spontaneously goes up in flames is an asshole man who enraged her.

  9. I read this post just in time! Whew! However I did garrote a killer whale. Does that count? He was trying to burn my house down at the time.

    • jeffandjill

      04/03/2015 at 12:42 pm

      HAHHAHAHAHA! That’s hilarious and not at all surprising. Those bastards pretend to be sharks but they breathe air.I bet they could walk too. And I bet they’ve committed horrible crimes and then jumped right back in the water and swam away.

  10. I don’t see anything on your list about not running a meth lab from your basement, so I guess I’m safe! Thanks for the tips!

    • jeffandjill

      04/04/2015 at 9:28 am

      That’s not on there because meth labs are completely safe and stable. Basement meth labs are the safest of all. I’m tired of the anti-meth lobby and their propaganda. Death to BIG PHARMA. It’s a conspiracy and so on . . .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.