Dasani Sparkling Water Flavors, Ranked

I have a not particularly surprising confession to make. I like sparkling water. I blame a trip to my old job’s Boston office, where I grabbed a bottle of sparkling water from the cafeteria on accident, thinking I had grabbed lime flavored flat water. In the time since then, I’ve made somewhat of an effort to try to replace some of my pop consumption with sparkling water.

I’m not terribly picky about sparkling water brands. I’ll buy whatever’s on sale typically. Most brands do have one flavor that they do better than other brands. For example, La Croix does grapefruit/pamplemousse (and cherry-lime) better than anyone else, Schweppes makes great black cherry water, and Simply Balanced1Yes. Target’s generic brand of all things. has an awesome lime flavor. That said, if nothing’s on sale, I will buy Dasani over other brands. It’s not really a brand loyalty thing — when it comes to pop, I buy pretty much everything but Coke products — I just think that Dasani does enough flavors well that I get some variety to my beverage choices. Plus La Croix lists have been done to death. Seriously. Even writers in the city with the worst food in the world feel the need to talk about how superior La Croix is to everything else.

So…how do I rank the 142As of July 1, 2018. flavors of sparkling water that Dasani offers? My list from 12 through 1 is below. There are two flavors — tropical pineapple and strawberry guava — I’ve yet to try. If I do try either of those at some point in the near future3Read: before Dasani adds a new flavor that I’m made aware of., I’ll add them to this list. If only Dasani had a cherry-lime flavor…

Also, this post isn’t sponsored by Dasani, the Coca-Cola company, or any other brand in any way. That said, if someone wants to throw money at me to drink their sparkling water, I’m listening.

12. Watermelon
As a fruit, watermelon is an enjoyable, if not iconic part of the summertime experience in most of the United States. It’s a sweet, mouthwatering fruit that pairs well as a dessert with so many of the hottest part of the year’s best cookout foods. As an artificial flavoring though, watermelon is genuinely the worst thing you could possible make. It’s not just that watermelon flavoring is bad — it’s that it’s such a disappointment in comparison to real watermelon. Don’t even bother with this flavor.

11. Original
If I wanted flavorless water, I’d buy actual Dasani. Herein lies what baffles me so much about Dasani sparkling water. Their bottled water isn’t good. It has a weird plasticy aftertaste that no other bottled water has. I bought it from time to time in high school, but that was only because our school’s water fountains pumped out a chalky off-white fluid that could barely legally claim to be water. Even Dasani was an improvement over that. But for a brand that makes bottle water that is subpar, Dasani does a really good job with their sparkling water.

10. White Peach
Meh. Peach suffers from the same problems as watermelon (both in terms of this sparkling water and as a fruit). The only reason peach gets the nod here over watermelon is because it isn’t quite as much of a punch you in the mouth flavor as watermelon is.

9. Pear Kiwi
I’d love to hear the conversations in the flavor mixing room when pear kiwi was decided on. Kiwi is one of my favorite fruits. It goes good with so many things. Of course, the most iconic fruit to mix kiwi with is strawberry. It’s a great mix of sweet and tart. That said, it’s clearly not the only option — you could do raspberry kiwi, kiwi lime, kiwi kumquat4I really just wanted to work kumquat into this post somehow., even banana kiwi5Best yogurt and fruit combo I’ve had recently? Vanilla yogurt (not greek) with banana, kiwi, blueberry, and brown sugar. From a turnpike gas station, no less!. And yet you decide kiwi goes best with…pear? The shortbread cookie of the fruit world? I mean, yeah, it’s a flavor, but it’s not a particularly pleasing one. Of the bad flavors of Dasani — and there’s not that many — this one is the best. It’s the Joe Thomas on the 2017 Cleveland Browns of bad Dasani flavors.

8. Raspberry Lemonade
I’m a big fan of lemonade in general, particularly flavored lemonades. The rise of brands like Simply Lemonade have made flavored lemonades more easily accessible, much to my delight. That said, part of the appeal to drinking lemonade — or most fruit juices like lemonade, orange juice, or limeade — is that you get both the strong flavor of the fruit(s) in question, as well as the pulp of the fruit6My wife and I have strongly opposed opinions on this. It’s one of the very few areas where I’m right.. The raspberry lemonade Dasani tastes like essence of raspberry lemonade. As sparkling water should. But when it comes to lemonade flavor, the essence of the flavor is a disappointment. It’s raspberry lemonade, so it’s still good…but not as good as it could be.

7. Meyer Lemon
For those unfamiliar with the meyer lemon, it’s basically the traditional lemon’s smaller, sweeter cousin. As someone who regularly puts lemon in my water at restaurants, I will say this is flavor does not taste like that. At all. It’s still a good flavor though, if for no other reason than the sweetness is a nice departure from the many bitter sparkling water flavors on the market. It’s not as overpoweringly sweet as Sparkling Ice,7If Sparkling Ice didn’t leave me feeling like I just ingested a pound of Splenda with every bottle, I’d drink them over everyone else. Their cherry limeade and black raspberry flavors are great, but I can only drink a bottle every few weeks or so, because it tastes like it’s terrible for me. but it’s still sweeter than you’d expect.

6. Pink Grapefruit
Grapefruit is a terribly underrated flavor for fruit flavored items. From pop8Squirt. to Torani syrup to sparkling water, grapefruit flavored foodstuffs are a safe bet for a delicious time. This is true even if you’re turned off by the extremely sour flavor of the fruit itself. There’s two main problems with Dasani’s pink grapefruit flavor. The first is that I love actual grapefruit, and their sparkling water doesn’t taste all that strongly of grapefruit. The second is that grapefruit and coconut are the two flavors that La Croix truly seems to have the market cornered on in terms of flavor. In comparison to other grapefruit options out there, it’s a let down. In comparison to some of Dasani’s other flavors, it’s fine, but you could better.

5. Black Cherry
Cherry is the safest flavor to buy for any liquid drink. It doesn’t matter what. 7Up. Pepsi. Dr. Pepper. Robitussin. Everything is better as a cherry flavor. Dasani’s black cherry flavor makes the top five solely based on that fact and that fact alone. Of the flavors I can readily find in my local grocery store, this is one of the ones I usually buy. The only downside is that there’s just so many other cherry flavored things that taste better than black cherry sparkling water9Literally everything I listed at the start of this paragraph other than the cough syrup.. It’s good. And when I want sparkling water, black cherry is one of the best flavor options available, thanks in large part to its availability. There’s still a few flavors that out class it though.

4. Berry
While the cherry is the safest flavor to buy for most liquids, berry flavors tend to be the safest flavors to buy for water. I don’t understand how it works. It’s just science10Your science mileage may vary.. Based on the can design for the berry flavor, I think it’s technically supposed to be a raspberry and blackberry mix. Why they couldn’t call it that, I’m not sure. Is it because raspberry lemonade is already a flavor? Are people concerned about blackberries? Is there secretly blackcurrant in it11Sadly, no. I’d buy a blackcurrent water so fast.? No lingonberries? It really doesn’t matter. It’s good regardless of what kind of berry is in it.

3. Lime
One of the two flavors in the top four of this list that made it here in part because of how close to the real fruit they smell, I love me some lime sparkling water. It’s the lone flavor that seems to be available as a stand alone flavor for nearly every sparkling water brand12Except for Sparkling Ice. Because, once again, we can’t have nice things., which works great for me as limes are my favorite fruit. Dasani and Simply Balanced are in a dead heat for my favorite brand of lime sparkling water. The fact that lime is only #3 on my list of Dasani flavors is more a testament to the strength of the two flavors above it than anything else. This is a great flavor.

2. Blood Orange
Why aren’t more things blood orange flavored? It’s such a good flavor. Mike’s Hard Lemonade used to make a blood orange flavor that showed up around Christmas time. It was great. This water is great. The biggest issue is that I can never find the packs of it at my local grocery store. When I do run into the packs, I tend to get two or three of them because of how uncommon they are. Seriously though…if blood orange becomes the next fad food flavor, I will be overjoyed. Yes, this isn’t the top flavor on the list, but that’s only because the blood orange Dasani must be drank cold. I have to wait for it to cool down which, I know, is a first world problem. But the top flavor from this list doesn’t suffer from this problem.

1. Pomegranate Blueberry
A friend of mine in college made me a fan of pomegranate. Since then, I’ll buy pomegranate arils13The seeds are called arils. Full pomegranates are kind of a bitch to take apart. when I see them in a container that doesn’t leak all over the place — looking at you Pom. On top of that, blueberries are my favorite berry. When I was a kid, one of my favorite breakfasts to eat during the summer was a small handful of frozen blueberries, covered in a spoon of white sugar and skim milk. The way the milk and sugar froze around the blueberries was a really interesting texture that I’ve yet to replicate with any other berry. This flavor is good warm, cold, room temperature, or over ice. Just try it. You’ll be thankful you did.

Sparkling water fans — what your favorite brand and flavor of sparkling water? Sound off in the comments.

Five Short Graybles From a Bachelor Party (and Other Times)

The following post contains a series of true short stories, also known as graybles in the Adventure Time universe, that occurred over the past twelve years. All of these stories, either in part or in full, were discussed or happened during a bachelor party I attended back in June. Congrats to my best friend, Mike. I hope you enjoy marriage.

I have to begin with a story that happened rather recently — at your bachelor party, in fact. You, our fishy friend who I’ll talk about more in a coming story, and I were sitting at the bar at a local establishment that you (and Fish) had frequented numerous times in college. It was, however, my first time being there, as my college experience was largely devoted to trying to graduate early while working multiple jobs. The three of us were chatting about whatever happened to come up, be that the fact that Johnny Manziel’s CFL team was on TV, the fact that everyone thought the bartender looked suspiciously like one of my ex-girlfriends14It wasn’t. Had it just been me, I would have blamed it on my face blindness and a faulty memory., or where else we needed to go that evening before turning in for the night.

This was until an older man walked up to the bar and sat down beside me. His flannel overshirt covered a tattered Mark Martin t-shirt from his Valvoline sponsorship days, though the overshirt seemed out-of-place on a 90 degree day. He flagged down both bartenders and ordered a piece of pizza. The male bartender ran off to grab the pizza while the female bartender attempted to collect payment.

“That’ll be $2,” she said.

“One dollar?” the bar patron asked in a confused tone.

The female bartender shook her head at him as the male bartender sat the pizza down and ran off to help other customers.

“Nope,” she replied, “that’s just on Thursdays. It’s two dollars.”

It was at this point that I notice that the man was fiddling with three quarters in his hand, running them through his fingers. How he was planning to pay for $1 worth of food with $0.75 is beyond me, but I didn’t have much time to think about it, as he put the quarters in his pocket, removed his wallet, and pulled out a credit card.

“Just put it on my tab,” he said.

The bartender took his card at this point, but nearly instantly after she took his card, the man reached out his hand to stop her.

“Wait! No!” he pleaded. “Can I run to the bank?”

“Sure,” she responded. “I’ll keep your pizza warm.”

The older man started digging through his pockets looking for something. He was struggling to stay on his bar stool in the process, leading the bartender to shoot our group some judgmental looks. After 10-15 seconds of searching, the man sat up rigidly straight.

“Actually, put it on my tab and get me a Coors Light. Draft.”

The bartender turned and walked to the register with his card. Meanwhile, the man powerwalked to the back of the bar, presumably to the restroom. We stayed another 15-20 minutes, but we didn’t see him again.

I was only in town for a little less than 24 hours. Yet, despite the short amount of time there, we saw that strange interaction. It’s not like seeing weird things from people who had been drinking was a recurring theme of the time we spent together in college or anything.

Our first year at college was interesting, if for no other reason than the first semester at college was not particularly indicative of what we would end up being either at the end of college or later in life. While I was mostly a shut-in, wallowing in self-pity over the ending of a five year relationship15We’ll come back to this a bit later, as it was the impetus for another story., you were off making friends and (briefly) trying to join a fraternity. Yet, despite those differences from our future trajectories, that first semester produced a handful of entertaining stories, including this one.

One of the things that our RA during our first year was very vocal about encouraging was the act of keeping your dorm room door propped open if you weren’t sleeping/studying/changing/etc. He had this grand idea of being an entire floor community between his residents and those of the other two RAs on the floor. It worked for all of half of a semester. During that half semester though, we had people floating in and out of our room at all hours of the day and night. One of these people was a guy who we’ll call Ricky. If Ricky was in our room, Ricky was drunk. Usually significantly so. Ricky also liked to ask us for our food or drinks when he came in the room empty-handed, which was more common in retrospect than I think we realized at the time.

There was an evening when the two of us had decided to play either Rock Band or Guitar Hero prior to you going out drinking and me needing to go to bed to go to work16I tended to work from either midnight or 4am until 8am 3-4 days a week. I’d pick up the occasional shift at other times of the day, but it usually meant I slept through the day when I wasn’t in class. If I was fortunate enough to have a 4am shift, I’d sleep 11pm-350am or something obnoxious like that since we lived in the same building that I worked in.. We had ordered wings from our favorite chicken wing place in Bowling Green, Mister Spots. After being back in town recently and going there, I’m reminded how well their food holds up. They’re damn good wings17Please sponsor me.. My favorite kind of their wings to get is a wing sauce known as the wiseguy wings. I adore spicy food — the spicier, the better — and these wings make me sweat profusely every time I eat them. They’re not just hot, as they really do taste amazing. But they’re a kick in the face, even when you know what you’re getting yourself into.

Ricky didn’t know what he was getting himself into.

Around 10pm, Ricky stumbled into our room, reeking of cheap beer and vodka. He was stumbling everywhere, slurring his words as he repeatedly asked us for food. He was very intent on wanting one of my chicken wings specifically. I kept telling him that it was a bad idea and that he didn’t want to do that. Ricky was persistent though, so I gave in and handed him a wing. Ricky took a big bite, chewed for five or ten seconds, and produced a thousand yard stare that I’ve never seen before or since. The chicken wing dropped to the ground. In a perfectly understandable, non-slurring voice, Ricky spoke.

“I have made a mistake.”

Ricky shambled off to the bathroom where (we’re told) he had his head under the faucet of the sink for the next 20 to 30 minutes. Ricky never asked us for food again.

For all the weirdness that happened throughout college — and I assure you there was a lot of it, in spite of the fact that I was only there two and a half years — one of the most enduring memories of college was running a radio show with you and Fish. If memory serves, you didn’t join our “staff” until midway through our first semester on air. Even then you were our “researcher” as you weren’t allowed on air unless you became part of the radio organization we were in. You eventually became our third talking head in the spring of that first year, though your primary gimmick was hating Penn State and playing World of Warcraft instead of actually fact checking for us.  In spite of that gimmick, you were an integral part of our show, as you helped us to come up with some of the show’s weirdest ideas, including the live wing tasting contest we held on air18I know that sounds like it wouldn’t work, but it surprisingly did really well..

You also put up with a lot of bullshit from me and (and occasionally Fish) just to go on air with us once a week. There was the time I thought it would be a good idea to trudge across campus during a snowstorm that dropped nearly two feet of snow and closed campus for two days. On the plus side, the closure announcement went out while we were on air, so we got to share the news. There was also a time where you had to run a show by yourself for half of its run time because I was busy taking Fish to the emergency room. Such was life. As a reminder, fish can swim, but they don’t do well on ice.

I was really proud of the work we did with our show. It won our radio organization’s show of the year award in its first year on the air. I’d like to think it was partly because we were funny, partly because we were entertaining, and partly because we weren’t afraid to discuss hard issues. We talked about the Virginia Tech shootings on air just days after they occurred. We called out (and then subsequently got a sternly worded email from the then-President of) the University of Delaware for their repeated ducking of in-state institution (and historically black college) Delaware State. We brought to light concerns with concussions and brain health.

The show had its flaws for sure. We got pulled off air for a week for not clearing our interviews. We had a terribly sexist and cringeworthy hottest college athlete bracket that we managed to drag a then-Sports Illustrated writer onto air to talk with us about19In the event I ever meet Mallory Rubin in person, I feel like I’m just going to spend the entire time apologizing to her for putting her through that.. But ultimately, the show was a ton of fun. It’s not like there’s a reason we sort of revived it for a podcast or anything20Following your wedding, I find it important to point out that not only did your grandma listen to your show, but that the main thing she remembers from our show was a throwaway ad we created where one of our friends made fun of people eating Cheetos naked. This ad was read in a super sultry voice. Because reasons..

For the next to last story, I want to recount to my readers the single most memorable story to come out of our time together in college. I use the word memorable loosely, as this story has been pieced together from my memory, fragments that other folks on campus shared with us, and the few bits and pieces I was able to pull from your mind the morning after.

As I mentioned earlier in this post, I worked a lot of weird hours during college and you drank just a bit in an effort to join a fraternity. One early October day was the crown jewel of those two scenarios coming together. You went out to a party on Friday evening, while I worked at the dorm from around 7pm until midnight. You swung by the front desk and chatted for a few minutes when you left for your party at around 930, while my evening went largely quietly at work. After someone unexpectedly called off, I stayed at the front desk until around 2am to help them out before going back up to our room to head to bed. It didn’t take me long to get ready to sleep and with the few weeks I was having, I desperately just wanted to sleep.

I had just finished curling up under my blanket when I heard keys fumbling outside of our door. I leaned up to look and make sure it was you coming in, as after a few failed attempts to stick a key in the lock, I was starting to grow a bit concerned. But after a few tries, you succeeded, only to notice me sitting up in my bunked bed, wide awake.

“Shit,” you said. “Did I wake you, man?”

“No,” I replied. “I just got to bed.”

“That’s good.”

It was at this point, you took a step forward. Said step was subsequently followed by you crashing to the ground face first. You did your best to lift yourself up off the ground, however our university’s insistence of using rocking chairs for the in-dorm desk chairs was not aiding your battle with gravity at this juncture. After a few, struggled filled attempts, you managed to climb into your chair and sit quietly.

The next few minutes brought little excitement. We were still relative strangers at this point, so you asked to borrow a cup so you could get water from the fountain down the hall. How you managed to get the cup, fill it, and make it back without spilling it on the tile hallway was beyond me, particularly considering your fall moments prior. That said, you managed to avoid harming yourself in the process. You drank some of the water and then asked if you could play Guitar Hero, as you weren’t tired.

For those reading who weren’t there themselves, I want to take a moment to explain the layout of the dorm room that Mike and I shared. The room was small — maybe 10 foot deep by 8 foot wide — with a window on the opposite side of a centered door. If you stood in the doorway, my closet and desk would be immediately to your right and Mike’s to the left. Beyond those desks were our beds, both bunked four and a half feet or so in the air, mine again on the right and his on the left. A futon ran perpendicularly below the head of both beds, while a TV was under the foot of my bed and a mini fridge and pantry were under the foot of Mike’s bed. I give this description to help the next two sequences of the story make sense.

Anyway…so after you (Mike) decided you wanted to play Guitar Hero, I rolled over and faced the wall in an effort to not be bothered by the light of the TV. I heard the game go through its loading screens, but before it even got to the start menu, I heard you get up and shut off both your Xbox and the television.

“I’m going to bed!” you announced triumphantly. “Good night.”

You changed clothes and climbed into bed. Within minutes, you were asleep. I curled up more under my blankets and tried to fall asleep, though I couldn’t sleep. I kept feeling like I was forgetting to do something. I had no idea what it could be for a few minutes, but then it hit me. I owed someone — though I have no idea who anymore21I’m 90% sure it was someone I was working on a group project with. That’s the version of the story we’ve always retold. It’s just been so long that I’m not completely sure. — an email. So I got out of bed, opened my laptop and began writing an email.

The funny thing about mid-2000s laptop computers is that when you booted them up, their screens were so bright that several small planets could conceivably consider them to be suns. I should have saved my email for the next morning. I really should have. But when my Dell White Dwarf 2005 came on, you groggily rubbed your eyes and mumbled at me.

“What time is it?” you asked.

“2:25. Sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you.”

“What time is it?” you asked again, confused.

“2:25. You’re late for class.”

Several years after this event, we both know full well that the other is sarcastic more often than not. We also know that I enjoy messing with my friends. I’m unsure if this was an understood fact at this point in time or if you were just too drunk to realize what was going on. But what happened next set off a chain of events that perplex both of us to this day.

“Oh shit!” you yelled.

With a deftness and agility I’ve not seen you move with at any other point in your life, you bounded out of bed and dove to the floor, landing as you did a half-tuck roll towards your closet. You threw on pants and a shirt, slipped on your shoes, and grabbed your backpack, all before I could realize what was going on. You threw open the door and sprinted out into the hallway, running headfirst into the cinder block wall across from our door. Not stopping your momentum, you barrel rolled hard to the right, taking off down the hallway toward the stairs.

It was at that moment I realized what was going on. Not even bothering to pause and put on my own shoes, I ran down the hall after you, but you were long gone. I made my way down to the front desk and asked one of my co-workers if they had seen you. They had, but you had taken off outside at a dead sprint. I looked out the front door, but you were no where to be seen. So I did the only thing I thought was rational at that point in time — I went upstairs and went to bed. Surely you were fucking with me and would be back in a few minutes.

I went back upstairs and laid down. I expected to see you in a few minutes, but instead, I fell asleep. Around 4:30 in the morning, the door flew open. You were standing in the middle of the door way, water POURING off of your clothes. You stared up toward my bed and spoke with deadpanned seriousness.

“I fucking hate you.”

You crawled into bed — wet clothes, shoes, and backpack all still on — and went to sleep.

The next morning, I woke up relatively early and went to take a shower. When I came back in the room, you were wide awake, your backpack sitting on the futon, but you fully dressed otherwise. I expected you to be furious with me, but instead, you asked me to help you retrace your steps from the night before.

Between me recounting the above story, as well as the eyewitness accounts of a handful of drunken students from the night before, we were able to determine that you did, in fact, run off to one of your afternoon classes. Reports differ as to whether or not you got in the building, however you were for sure sighted near the Thinker statue (below) on campus trying to open a nearby door, presumably for sake of attending class.

As to why you were wet, we’re not 100% sure whatever happened there. The university did have a habit of running the sprinkler system during the wee hours of the morning. There’s no way you would have had water running off of you solely from that though. There is also a lake on campus near the music building. Considering its proximity to our dorm, this makes the most sense, however most other reports of your whereabouts had you on the opposite end of campus. Perhaps it was a combination of the two.

Despite diving into the deepest, darkest reaches of your mind, you’ve never been able to reconstruct any of that night for yourself. It’s a shame, as it was definitely one of the funniest experiences of my entire time knowing you. So why not end with it? There’s a more important grayble to tell.

The final story I want to tell isn’t a particularly funny or long story, but it is a critical one to helping to understand why I’ve devoted a 4100+ word blog post that nearly no one will read the whole way through to the fact that you’re getting married.

My first semester of college was rough to say the least. A lot of that was self-inflicted. It was during that semester that I decided I was going to try to graduate a four-year program in two and a half years. I picked up the aforementioned job with odd hours and started the aforementioned radio show from scratch that semester. It was also the semester that my high school girlfriend and I finally broke up for good.

We’d been in a relationship on life support for the better part of six months when we got to college, but being at college ended up doing us in. We weren’t in the same place in life, as evidenced by the fact that I was a far less mature person than she was at the time. In early October of that year (just one week before the previous story), she and I split up. I spent the better part of that windy afternoon wandering around campus. A friend of mine from high school came up and stayed with us for the weekend because she was concerned for my mental health22She was right to be at that point.. That weekend was the second drunkest I’d seen you, as said friend changed clothes in front of you and you were too inebriated to notice. That’s not the point of this story, but it does amuse me, so I thought I’d bring it up.

My relationship with my high school girlfriend was off at that point, but we stayed lukewarm towards each other over the course of the next few weeks. On a Friday night in mid-November, she called me and we spent the evening sitting in chairs in her dorm’s common area talking. By midnight, we had decided that we were going to get back together. I fell asleep on the futon beneath her dorm bed (as I was sick and didn’t want to get her sick) incredibly happy about how things had changed for the positive — on the day before my birthday no less.

The next morning, she woke me up at six in the morning. She told me that our discussion from the night before was a mistake and that we should stay split up. I was devastated all over again. Beyond that, a bunch of our friends from high school were coming down to visit from Eastern Michigan University. We decided in that moment that it was better that I not be there so that things wouldn’t be awkward and that my cold would be the excuse.

Had the day’s disappointments stopped there, it would have been a shitty birthday, but not the worst imaginable23Or even the worst I’d had to that point…hooray having to choose which parent to live with at age 8.. The notable thing about this birthday was that it happened to coincide with the Ohio State-Michigan football game. While I detest Ohio State and generally don’t care about Michigan, the Ohio State-Michigan game made the rivalry unavoidable, as all of my friends and family took sides for the game, most of them VERY vocally.

During this specific year, Ohio State and Michigan were the top two teams in the country, meaning their game got moved to prime time for television audiences. This led to everyone I came in contact with all day talking about the game and nothing else. I didn’t hear from a single friend or family member the entire day about anything other than OSU-Michigan. The only birthday wish I got from anyone was from my now-ex-girlfriend, just as I was walking out the door from us breaking up.

You were off somewhere that Friday and didn’t get back until late Saturday evening, so I didn’t see you all day. Just before kickoff, you came back to our dorm room where I was working on a group project for one of my classes with two people who also didn’t care about football. Neither of said people knew it was my birthday, but you did. It was at that point you made the group of four of us24Me, you, and the two girls from my class. get up and we walked to the student union and got dinner from Wendy’s for my birthday. We sat at these tall tables over the entrance to the building and marveled at the fact that on any other Saturday night, people would be migrating across campus to go to parties, but that tonight they were too distracted by a sports matchup involving two colleges that they didn’t go to for this to be a thing.

After dinner, we left the union, all walked to the combination Tim Horton’s and Cold Stone to get coffee and ice cream. You left and went off somewhere — I think a party — while I finished the group project. That moment stuck with me. It was the moment I realized that I had found my new best friend. I’ve always been grateful to you for that moment. Thank you.

This story, of course, has a pair of happy endings. You’ve found your new best friend. My hope is that she gives you the happiness you deserve. The other happy ending? Ohio State got humiliated in the national title game that year.

Help Me Earn Money For Writing

Hey all!

About a month ago, I mentioned that in the near future you could support me and my work on Patreon. Well, today is the near future.


Yes, they’re all caps. Yes, they’re giant. I really would like your support. You can also click the button below, which will start appearing in other locations on my site throughout the week.

Become a Patron!

If you’re still here — and by here, I mean my blog (as this is going on Patreon too) — I bet you’re all wondering what perks you can get for pledging to support me. Here’s some information on the perks, along with some frequently asked questions.


At launch, there will be four support tiers. These are as follows. Note that if you support at a higher tier, you’ll automatically get the lower tiers (so if you support with $3/month, you’ll get both the $1 and $3 rewards).

  • $1/month – You can submit questions to a Q&A that I’ll either post as a Patreon post or as a podcast. Said podcast Q&A will be done quarterly, however you’ll be able to submit questions each month. More information on this perk is in the FAQ section.
  • $3/month – I’ll be digitally signing pictures that aren’t me or aren’t of me. Some of these will be signed with my name. Some will not. It’s a new surprise picture every month. I promise terrible signatures and things that make no sense.
  • $5/month – You’ll get access to a once a month patron-only blog post. More information on exactly how this will work is in the FAQ section below.
  • $10/month – You’ll get access to a once a month patron-only podcast that I’ll be doing. More information on exactly how this will work is in the FAQ section below.

Additionally, there will be patron count goals. The first two of these goals are as follows.

  • 25 patrons – Once my account has 25 patrons, I’ll do a Q&A separate from the quarterly Q&A mentioned above. My goal is to do this Q&A within a week or two of hitting 25 patrons, though we’ll play it by ear depending on how quickly I get 25 patrons.
  • 100 patrons – In the extremely unlikely event I ever get 100 patrons, I’ll add a new tier of rewards. I’m thinking this will be related to whatever work in progress book I have at that time, but we’ll see if this ever happens.


We’re giving you money…and yeah…we get perks…but what are you going to do with it?

The three goals I have with my Patreon are, in order of how likely they are to happen, as follows.

  1. Pay for my blog’s monthly hosting expenses. As my site is growing, these are likely going to go up in the next 2-3 months.
  2. Pay for someone to redesign my blog/website and make it a more professional portfolio style site.
  3. Make enough money to allow me to devote significantly more time to writing fiction/publishing books/researching for my writing/podcasting/etc.

If #1 happens, I’ll be overjoyed. If #2 happens, I’ll be ecstatic. If #3 happens, we’re clearly living in an alternate timeline, as there’s no way in hell that’s going to happen.

Why now?

Because I want my writing to be taken seriously. I’ve been writing in some capacity for 10 years now, not to mention fiddling around with blogging for closer to 15. It’s about time I took this seriously in terms of having some level of compensation for the amount of time I devote to it.

Why should I support you?

Because I’m awesome. Because you’re awesome. Because reasons. Pick one.

Really though…I feel pretty strongly that there needs to be more support for writers of all kinds, be they bloggers, novelists, journalists, or whatever. Whether that support it sharing someone’s work, supporting them financially, or subscribing to their paper, it’s a great and necessary thing. This is doubly true for independent creators like me.

What’s the plan with the $1/month quarterly podcast?

I wanted to do a quarterly reward, but Patreon doesn’t offer that. This was the next best way to handle it. Basically, if you donate $1/month in any of the months of the 3rd quarter of 2018, you’ll be able to ask questions for the 4th quarter Q&A. I’ll announce when you can submit questions and what not on the Patreon.

Tell me more about the $5/month tier patron-only post.

Let’s say you donate $5 in the month of July. In early August, I’ll put up a poll where you can vote on the topic that I write the patron-only post about. The winning topic at the end of the polling period (3-5 days?) will get a post written. Said post should go up in mid-August in this example.

Tell me more about the $10/month tier patron-only podcast.

Initially I didn’t have this tier. Yet there were enough of you that I shared my beta rewards plan with that said I needed this as a reward that I wanted to try it. Like the $5 reward, let’s say you donate $10 in July. In August (likely mid-August), you’ll get a recorded podcast featuring one of the blog posts I published in the previous month. This will be via a RSS available only to patrons. Some months I’ll pick the post I record. Some months I’ll hold a vote. I’ll announce more on this each month, presuming people actually are crazy enough to give me this sum of money.

Does donating to your Patreon give me free/discounted access to your professional editing/writing services?

No. That may change in the future, but it will not at this time.

Will the Patreon-only posts and what not go up on this site?

Maybe. The Q&A posts/podcasts likely will, though only Patreon supporters will get to submit questions. As for the other posts, if they go up on this blog, it won’t be until a few months have passed for sure.

Any other final words?

If you do choose to support me, thank you. That’s really all.

Liebster Award

Recently, I received a nomination for the Liebster Award. If you’re not familiar with the Liebster Award, it’s the blogging equivalent of chain email, though with fewer ads for Viagra25Though it does depend on the questions., less politically driven fear-baiting, and (generally) better spelling. That said, it’s been several years since I’ve done one of these. On top of that, one of the writers/bloggers that I respect the most in the world happened to be the one who nominated me, so I’m going to take the time to answer the questions.

First, let’s take a look at the rules of this game.

  1. Acknowledge the blog who nominated you.
  2. Answer the 11 questions your nominator asked.
  3. Nominate 11 other bloggers.
  4. Ask them 11 questions.
  5. Tell 10 random facts or things about yourself.
  6. Let them know you have nominated them.

I won’t be following rules 3, 4, and 6, mostly because I don’t have 11 blogs I still follow at this point. With that said, if you are a blogger and wish to partake in this exercise, feel free to do so and link back here. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the 11 questions from Esoterica.

What is you philosophy on life? Do you adhere to religious texts, philosophical teachings or a personal code of ethics?

My philosophy is loosely based on a combination of three ideas.

This philosophy is a relatively recent development (in the last 3 years or so), so it’s something I’m still working on actively living out. That said, I feel like adopting these ideas have helped me to be a better person.

What is an unusual habit or an absurd thing that you love?

I recognize that it’s absurd and odd, but I really love the combination of childhood imaginative games and Formula 1 style commentary that’s found in the sand marble rally races on Jelle’s Marble Runs. Their Marblympics are good too26Go Limers!, but the marble racing is much more entertaining to me.

If you were to combine two of your top interests to create a brand new career, what would that job be?

Wait. I get to be a professional video game fiction writer? Isn’t that just fan fiction for profit?

If you were one of the planets in our solar system, which one would you be and why?

Neptune. I feel like it’s an often forgotten planet, particularly since the two planets27I recognize Pluto isn’t a planet, but just finish reading the sentence. surrounding it are so notable, what with Pluto’s demotion from planet status and Uranus being Uranus. That said, Neptune is one of the few outer planets that we can observe semblances of weather on, which is really amazing considering how far away it is. It’s also a terribly cold place, and while I clearly wouldn’t be able to survive temperatures of 55K28Around -218 C or -361 F. like are present on Neptune, I do enjoy the colder places on Earth. Due to all that, I think I’d be Neptune.

What is the most bizarre or unusual food you’ve ever tried? What did you think of it?

I feel like this is a tie between two things. The first was the squid ink pasta I had while I was in the Philippines a few years back. It was fine tasting, though I got sick nearly immediately after, so I don’t exactly put it high on my list of foods I’d like to eat. The other thing that fits this bill was the time I had hamburger with peanut butter on it. I feel like most people wouldn’t find this all that bizarre, but the protein overload was surprisingly good.

In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?

This video by John Green on personhood genuinely changed the way I view humanity on so many levels. Just watch it. Humans, no matter who they are, are complex individuals.

What is your favorite blog post that you’ve written?

Soma, one of the short stories that eventually made its way into my book, An Epilogue to Innocence, was originally a blog post and is probably the best single sitting post I’ve ever written. My favorite non-short story post I’ve written is my thoughts on Pokemon Go and how nerd culture is — and isn’t29Oddly enough, I had an interaction the other day where I was looked down upon because I play Pokemon Go. — being accepted as part of mainstream culture. That said, I think my favorite post I’ve ever written is a short story I wrote early last year called Awaiting Assessment. It was a story that got submitted to multiple different contests and wasn’t accepted. That said, I really like how it turned out in spite of that.

When you think of the word successful, who is the first person that comes to mind and why?

Jen Glantz comes to mind. I remember when we traded guest posts on our blogs 5-6 years ago. She’s gone on to have A TON of success.

If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it, what would it say and why?

“University education deserves to be a basic human right. Everywhere.”

I understand that college is not for everyone. I get that not everyone has a great experience with college. I’m fully aware that the United States has a massive student loan debt crisis that is crippling the country’s economy and is particularly harming the millennial generation and younger. With all that said, if it were not for my university education, I would not be the person I am today on so many levels. I would not have the same level of financial or career success that I currently do. I would not be as caring and open-minded toward others as I am. I routinely hear people say something to the effect of “why even bother going to college when you can learn so much online?”. And yes, learning is critical. But a university education provides so much more than just book smarts. I cannot recommend it highly enough. And the best way to provide that opportunity to everyone is to treat it like a basic human right.

What is your all-time favorite book?

For the longest time, this was “1984” by George Orwell. That said, over the past couple of years, I’ve watched Orwellian realities become more and more common, making this book hit a little too close to home. It’s still one of my favorite books, and I can objectively say that “1984” is objectively one of the best books ever written. I think that “Feed” by M.T. Anderson has supplanted it on the top of my list.

What is something everyone else seems to love, but you can’t stand?

Ranch dressing. I grew up with countless people who poured ranch on their pizza like it was milk on cereal. But it’s disgusting. Sour cream and mayonnaise provide a similarly visceral reaction on my part, however other people’s love for those two items was never quite as in my face30My mom has a huge love for sour cream and was quite vocal about it in my childhood. But she’s the only person I know like that. as ranch dressing was from middle school through college.

I Would Like Your Support, Please

If you follow me on social media, you might have noticed garbage cryptic images like this one going up over the last couple of weeks.

So, fun fact. I’m absolutely terrible at marketing. And graphic design. And social media. And really any of the logical things that a blogger, writer, or author needs to succeed within the modern landscape. And even though I’ve been fortunate enough to make a little money31And I do mean a little. Even when taking into account the money the book has made that has gone to charity, I believe I’m under $100 gross profits still. off of my book, I’d like to be able to do more with my creative work than I’m currently doing.

It’s not like I’m doing nothing creatively either. I have this blog. I have my book. I have a second book I’m working on32Said second book still has a ways to go. I’m hoping to have the first draft done by Q4 of this year in an effort for beta readers to look at it in early 2019. We’ll see though.. I have a sports podcast33And am still trying to work out an idea I have for a second podcast (non-sports).. I even have an editing service that is, at least recently, getting a lot more traction than I would have expected.

That said, I do all of this aside from the editing service for free. Doing all of that work, creative or otherwise, for free, only leads to that work being looked at as a hobby and nothing more. That’s not what I want. I want to be successful in the creative work I do, whatever that may be. I love the creative work I’ve been able to put together over time. The act of putting that work together is far more enjoyable than any job I’ve ever had. That said, because it doesn’t make me much money, it’s hard for me to eschew my normal, adult responsibilities in favor of doing something I love.

I would like you, dear reader, to help me to start the process of changing that.

On July 2, 2018, I will be launching a personal Patreon to help fund my writing and other projects. For those of you unfamiliar with the service, Patreon allows individuals to give money to support artists and creators they love. Like me. I’m lovable. Like a kitten with tiny, sharp kitten claws. You can pledge money each month to support those creators and then, if the creator so chooses, you can get rewards from them. The video below from Patron explains how what they do works a little more.

I’ll have a more formal announcement about rewards and specifics around those tiers when the July 2nd launch happens. That said, here’s some of the rewards I’m planning on.

  • A quarterly Q&A where patrons can submit questions
  • Another special Q&A once I hit a certain number of patrons
  • Signed digital pictures of not me34I swear I’ll explain this more once the page launches.
  • A monthly Patreon-exclusive blog post
  • A monthly Patreon-exclusive podcast35This will likely be a short podcast.

While I’ll reveal the tiers and what not at the time of launch, know that all of the launch rewards will be for pledges of $10 a month or less. That’s right. For less than the cost of a Chipotle burrito, chips and salsa, and a non-water drink, you can help me to be able to put more time, energy, and creativity into the work I love to do. I’m not making the pledge amounts very high each month because I don’t think it’s fair to ask a lot of people. That said, I promise every little bit will help.

There’ll be a post going up on July 2nd where I’ll recap all the specifics of the rewards and be all like “Hey! You! Support me!”. That said, until then, if you’d be so kind as to spread the word and (hopefully) get people interested in supporting me, that would be lovely. Also, if you have ideas for future rewards, I’d love to hear them in the comments.