Donuts Boi! This is my favorite “heart surgery era” photo of me. My wife took it about two-and-a-half weeks after the surgery when she drove me to Hurts Donuts to celebrate the fact that I was still alive.

For those who do not know, a year ago today I underwent the Ross Procedure to fix a congenital heart defect an emergency room doctor discovered in me in May of 2020. This, naturally, was after I had suffered some serious health issues for the first five months of that year. And.. I suppose… after I had spent nearly 44 years with the defect slowly and meticulously killing me.

Yes. It was indeed a year.

Anyway, during the Ross Procedure, the surgeons cracked my sternum right down the middle and opened it. Can you hear the sound effects? I can…

Something for the kids.

Meditation: Chill. Just write.

“The Meditation” is a subgenre of the modern personal essay. It is typically 500–1000 words. Below you will see explanations and examples of three different types.

  1. Question & Answer: A question is posed and then answered in the form of an essay. Topics can include but are not limited to: What is my reason for being alive? Is there a God? If so, what does God do? What’s the deal with guns in America? How is racism developed and perpetuated? Etc.
  2. Idea/Emotion & Its Symbols: An examination of an idea or an emotion that uses objects…

Monster: Yes, open heart surgery is scary.

After you have major surgery in which you are “under the knife” for several hours and attached to a bypass machine, you are left with several side-effects. Many of these side-effects are immediate and obvious. You’re weaker, you have trouble breathing, you’re on a regiment of medicines that each offer their own unique side-effects, and you’re bloated with extra fluids…. The list goes on and on. But, at the end of the day, it is a small price to pay to ensure that you keep on living.

However, there are some… strange side-effects… that no one really discusses with you…

Teaching. It’s basically just, like, apples, books, pencils, and blocks. Everybody knows that.

Over the last few months there has been a series of conservative political pundits and politicians claiming critical race theory is destroying the United States, in much the same way their forebears claimed communism, television, socialism, Eastern religions, rock & roll, video games, comic books, rap music, LGBTQ+, the internet, social media, etc, etc, etc. would.

They are wrong on so many levels… and always have been. If the fact that the United States still exists isn’t proof enough, I do not know what is….

But anyway, I wrote a letter to Dr. Matthew Blomstedt, the Nebraska Commissioner of Education…

Space: The final frontier… OF SOUND! BOOM!

Music has had a significant impact on my life. It has helped me through difficult times. It has helped me realize things about the world and myself that I didn’t know. And, in many ways, it has kept me alive. So today’s post is all about some of the most significant albums I’ve ever listened to.

How did this start?

Some of my friends scattered across the country and I do a Zoom call every couple of weeks — which has also helped keep me alive during a pandemic and open heart surgery. Occasionally, we have a predetermined topic of…

Classics. They serve their purpose.

Recently, a student journalist at the school where I teach wrote an opinion piece for the school newspaper titled “Books with racial slurs should not be a part of the curriculum.” In it, she explains why books that use the n-word should not be taught, even when those books use it to illustrate how terrible racism is. She mentions Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, and Lorraine Hansberry’s play A Raisin in the Sun.

I know, white English teachers, you are probably thinking the same thing I thought when I first read it: “Come…

Good Morning. So. Much. Medicine.

Oh, you thought I was done, did you? You thought the struggle was over because I came to terms with the fact that life is short, that we all die alone, and that we are responsible for finding our own meaning not some celestial messiah with a big beard and deep, penetrating eyes?

Wait. You didn’t get that from all of my “Recovery Chronicles” posts? Read between the lines, folks.


This will be my last post for awhile as I have several fish in the fryer, much on my plate, and miles to go before I sleep.

I will…

Scary Ghost Stories. And tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago.

Every year I reread Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. It is the one holiday tradition that I consider mine and mine alone. The rest of them, obviously, I share with family and friends. Though I enjoy all of my traditions, I am leery of holding any sacred. What I have seen of sacred traditions makes them more frightening than inviting. This one, however, is sacred to me. Even during a pandemic while I recover from open heart surgery, I find time to read what is absolutely my favorite Christmas story — maybe even my favorite story — of them all.

Heart. This is my pillow. This pillow is mine.

I’ve spent the last twelve weeks recounting what life has been like for me since my open heart surgery. I like to think that at times what I have written has been heartwarming, other times scary, and maybe even occasionally funny. I hope I’ve taught my readers a few things and I hope I’ve entertained. At the end of the day, that’s all any writer really wants. Now, I thought it might be time for a few photos to really illustrate my experience. They are either ill-thought out selfies I took or photos of me that my wife took. And…

AE Stueve

AE Stueve teaches and writes in Omaha, NE. Check out all of his available work at

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