Decades of Embarrassment

Back in that blog I blogged yesterday, I had occasion to remember seeing Kanye West at Temple university in 2005. Great show. Kanye had a big running list of snippets of negative criticism blasted on the jumbo-tron behind him during “Bring me Down;” Ed and I got these paper hand fans from Power 99 and spent the rest of the night screaming “I WORK FOR POWER 99” and putting them in each other’s faces. Excellent time to be 19 and an idiot, great show, great company.

HOWEVER, in recalling this memory, I was also forced to recall my sophomore year of college, which … yeesh. A lot of low-level dirt bag embarrassment happening in my life that year. I got up to about 315 lbs by year’s end, I ordered three strombolis for my birthday, I free-styled rapped a lot, I wet the bed [redacted] times. Outside that Kanye West concert, not really a banner year.

AND SO, because my mind has been broken by a career in internet publishing and music website-reading, are the years of my life, ranked by how embarrassed of them I am today. I’ve decided to exclude the first eight years of my life, because what the fuck do I have to be embarrassed about when I was 10? I wet my pants once in kindergarten; I got in trouble for saying “ass” in catholic school; I voted to watch The Little Mermaid instead of Robin Hood and because our class was evenly matched boys-to-girls, and because all girls voted for The Little Mermaid and all boys except me voted for Robin Hood I got made fun of for a while. Whatever, forget all that noise. If only I knew how much worse it would get. Years ranked least-to-most embarrassing.


2021 – Had my second daughter, celebrated 1 year at a new job, completed my first year of grad school, y’all can’t tell me nothing. I’m 35, try and hurt me.

2020 – Got laid off, but also got a new job, got off my ass and finally got back into grad school, read a bunch of George Saunders. Nothing to sneeze at here. Also, GLOBAL PANDEMIC.

2018 – First daughter was born, and some other stuff happened. Not a year I can look back on with a clear mind, but nothing that I would take back.

2016 – Beyond some, ah, unpleasantness, great year. Got married, Jared walked into a lake for money, no regrets.

2013 to 2015 – Some cherry years here. I’m tempted to run these years together, because I kind of kicked ass here. Worked consistently, had enough money to save and have fun, deepened my relationship with my now-wife, got engaged, moved in with her, saw a lot of shows, wrote a lot of music and played a lot of concerts. Probably as close as I’ve ever been with my brothers at this point, still very much deepening the relationship between my cousins and I. This was some good shit.

1997 – Wasn’t very good at football, but that was about it.

2003 – Good year. Had a good set of friends, had a girlfriend, probably in the best shape of my life. Saw Less Than Jake in concert a lot. No problems here.


2002 – A buddy of mine made fun of my girlfriend without knowing she was my girlfriend, but otherwise not too bad. I’ll tell you, man, I’m sure I hated high school a lot more than this, but I’m so damn old I can’t remember any one year from any other at this point. That Baz Luhrmann song was right.

2019 – I don’t think this year happened.

2000 – I was SO worried about Y2K.

2011 – I liked living in Conshohocken, but I was not happy.

2007 – Found my tribe in college, lost the weight, tried to start a magazine, blogged a ton, overheard my roommate and his then-girlfriend do some of the most reprehensible pillow talk imaginable, watched A Knight’s Tale on the couch hung over a lot. Fun one.


1998 – Oh man, this was the year I got mad at my older brother for printing out a copy of my AOL profile and reading it out loud. I wanted to throw him into a cement truck for that. Also, I had an online girlfriend. This was a bad one.

2001 – Wasn’t very good at basketball. Also, get this: there was a party at a dude’s house and one of the girls in my freshman class ended up hooking up with someone publicly, so much so that it was a rumor in school the next day, and I accidentally dimed out where the party was despite not being there. Not very cool of me. Embarrassing as hell, but I bear it no ill will now. I hope everyone who went to that party is happy and health.

2017 – Had to stop reading the news and listening to Relatives in Descent by Protomartyr because it was affecting my daily life. Seems like I should have been a little more mentally tough than that, no? Ran my second half-marathon though, and that was sweet.

1999 – Used to call my cousin Meghan and talk to her on the phone about my feelings. Used to show my cousins my poetry. Did a poetry reading in 8th grade that included the line “I’m losing my grip.” I am pleased that each day I grow more distant from this point in time, but it’s ultimately harmless.


2004 – I remember most of this year being convinced that my high school girlfriend and I would be together forever, then being a nightmare to everyone everywhere when a) we broke up and b) I started drinking. You can see how this lead to 2005.

2008 – Sneaky embarrassing. A lot of fun (graduating college, living at the beach), but I was rude to an Obama pollster once, I was rude to three separate women I was romantically involved in, and I spent a lot of time moping and feeling like my life was over. On the bright side, think I saw Titus Andronicus live this year, and participated in the invention of “wrecking house.” This one is more sour than sweet, sadly.


2005 – See above, please talk to no one about it and ask for no photos.

2010 – This was the year I blacked out, got robbed, was woken up by a police office sleeping on my neighbor’s porch, and had to break into my house to find the phone my new job had just sent me to call my parents and ask them to send me some money. Remarkably, things got better from there. I struggled a lot this year but struggled honestly.

2012 – Big breakup that I look back on with tremendous shame, but a good Lollapalooza year.


2009 – I would like very much to not remember this year, please.

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