That’s Me in the Corner

let it shine, this light of mine...burn it down...what?!?

let it shine, this light of mine…burn it down…what?!?

“Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.” –Napoleon Bonaparte

I haven’t been here in a while. I’m sure my absence has not gone unnoticed. My hands can feel the lack of intimacy they once enjoyed with my laptop. They are fumbling and clumsy and my brain struggles with both recalling ideas and monitoring my two left, thumb-heavy, hands. Some topics are harder to live with than others. Every time I come to the thought of this post, I find something far more satisfying to think about. This is my rationalization, in a paragraph or less.

I’ve given you a summation of my faith as it was influenced in my youth. This post is about my own journey into Christianity.

Like all worthwhile things in which a young male can find himself entangled, my Christian faith began with a girl. More to the point: a girlfriend. Her sister–who was ten, or so, years her senior had taken her to a church service. When she returned home she called me in an excited state. She was raised Catholic-ish and this church was an entirely different experience from that. She had enjoyed her time at Family Worship Center.
Family Worship Center was an Evangelical, Fundamentalist, Bible-Preaching, Pentecostal-Leaning group of people who were, and still are (as far as I know), being manipulated by a portly, affable, charismatic man, and his family. I wouldn’t learn that for a few years. When my girlfriend called me she invited me to a meeting. Looking back, it seems to me that, given her excitement, a young me might’ve had a hard time turning down such an invitation. At that time in my life I sought any excuse to leave my parent’s house and hang out with my girlfriend. I had little trouble. The conversation ended in what could be best described as an adolescent tiff. Read: deeply unsatisfying.

After the phone conversation, my girlfriend and her sister prayed for me. This was revealed to me after I had reconsidered my initial reaction to her invitation called her back and accepted. My young mind had a hard time contextualizing this fact. Once I had given my life to God and asked Jesus into my heart, I put my girlfriend’s prayer in the “miracle” category. It was the first sliver of evidence that God had any interest in me. As I age I’ve come to realize that my reconsidering an irrational reaction to an invitation does not require divine intervention. I react irrationally then reconsider said reaction all. the. time…it’s how I roll, to use the parlance of the youth of a decade ago…

Boring. I started this post 6, or so, months ago. It felt like a good idea. I felt an obligation to explain something about myself. That obligation was made up…it was manufactured in my 41 year-old child’s brain, not to say I have a 41 year-old child. I, at the age of 41 (and into 42), have a child’s brain. Not to say that I extracted the brain of a living, healthy, and happy child and put it in a jar and added that jar to my collection of jar-bound treasures. I mean my brain is child-like.

I’m reading a book about writing a good memoir…I know it sounds like a circle-jerk, but it is a tad more satisfying, trust me. The author writes that the secret to recalling a memory is to hear the screen-door slamming. I agree with her: sound, or certain smells, or the mental image of the glimmer in a friend’s eyes are very reliable place-holders for memories. This is why I spent most of my twenties and the bulk of my thirties trying to forget most of those things. I hate letting all that hard work go to waste.

It’s like a detox…why would I want to detox? I spent a lot of money on those toxins. What kinda scam you runnin’ here, doc?

I regard my childhood memories like a street-person who has a vibe that can only reliably be described as: unhinged. I don’t want to be disrespectful, and as such, I want to acknowledge their presence. But I don’t want to lock in. I do not want to be the Hanoi landing-pad for their cerebral refugees.

My memories are like a distant cousin who went off his meds, against the wishes of everyone, save the voices in his head. In this scenario, I am me–nursing my third Ranger IPA because we are at a family reunion and I’m starting to catch a buzz and I need to keep my shit together (those of you who know me get that joke). The fresh beers are across the room–behind me, and I’m headed to the bathroom with one half of one warm IPA. My un-medicated cousin is standing on line for the same bathroom which originated my trip from being cold beer-adjacent to being loony cousin-adjacent. Then, he turns around and starts explaining the minutia of President Obama’s birth-certificate. And some things he’s been reading about Operation Jade Helm 15 on the web. So I’m stuck drinking a shitty beer and listening to things that I don’t believe or care about.

My childhood is like 9/11: of course I have questions. But I don’t want any fucking answers. You need to have your larger can in place before you start opening cans of worms like some kinda asshole–it’s just common sense.

So I’m not writing that post. Not now, maybe never…because I don’t have to. I went to Kaua’i to help build a Christian church community and during that time I realized: “I don’t give a fuck if anyone believes in the saving power of Jesus’ sacrifice”, because I don’t believe in it. It was just something someone told me and I believed it (and I mean, really believed it) for a couple of decades because it was a great distraction from life. At least it was for me.

I’ve gone into every situation thinking that it’ll work itself out. That is my resting face, life-choices speaking. That idea was never more challenged than when I went to Kaua’i as a church-planter and came home as a Deity-indifferent alcoholic. That shit did not work itself out. What the fuck, life? But life knows that I play the role of bully and victim seamlessly. I come by both honestly, and I’ve no predilection to apologize for either.

I do not regret going to that beautiful island-county, don’t get me wrong. I learned one very important life-lesson. I have no real sense of who I am. I don’t never know if I ever did. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t doing an impression of the person that the people around me wanted me to be. And I don’t know why that is. I know the blame falls on me. The onus rests on the individual to be said individual. That is true. But, why would I do the foot-work for a therapist who is destined to relieve me of a hard-earned buck or two? Or, mayhaps, I’ll die and it’ll still be a mystery. Either way, I’m no fan of spoilers. Let me enjoy the movie.

I am not a Christian. Nor am I a materialist. I’m comfortable with a reality that transcends my understanding. But, I’m not gonna try and figure it out. I figure that if that transcendent entity has an interest in me, it knows where to find me. If that happens, I suspect it’ll have some questions for me…I will have some questions too. You see: I’m a lover, not a fighter…but I’m a passionate lover. So, pack a lunch. Either way it goes down, calories will be burned.

One other thing, to nobody in particular, don’t give a person self-awareness and then demand that they deny themselves…that’s a dick move, bro…(or sis, ladies?)


Shaking Anemia

airport restaurant

airport restaurant

waiting in an airport restaurant…where fearful men use their hair to hide their foreheads…

it’s a stasis…a womb from which the melee can be observed…it appears even more frenzied than it felt when I was in “the shit” (to borrow the nomenclature of: The Kids)…

now I enjoy an Italian Sweet Sausage from a woman named Jodi…it is just the fix to steel my courage and suppress my shakiness…

inspired, I dive into my messenger bag for my pad of paper and feverishly scribble down some words…

no matter, most will be discarded once reason is restored and sugars are balanced…

the sausage comforts me as I contemplate the possibility that I’ve made the biggest mistake of my life (this is no small feat; though many things change, the “Biggest Mistake of My Life” competition remains contentious week in and week out)…

it is the perfect salve…

though there is no dignified way to eat it, my dignity becomes less and less relevant in the embrace of an L.A. local IPA…

Beer Commercials Are Easy

Everything You Know About Beer is a Lie

Everything You Know About Beer is a Lie

“Give a man a beer, waste an hour. Teach a man to brew, and waste a lifetime!” –Bill Owens

The other day I wrote a little script of sorts for a beer commercial.  It cracks me up.  One day I really want to shoot it and put it up on Subversive Brewing’s Tumblr.  Subversive Brewing is a nano-brewery that my friend Mark and I are working on.  Anyhow, here you go:

Hi, I’m Tommy from Subversive Brewing…Are you tired of all the boring beers out there?  Well then you, sir or ma’am, are a loser–and a liar.  You have no idea about all of the beers out there.  And you clearly don’t take your research seriously.  If you had tried even a fraction of the beers available to mankind at this moment to a degree from which you could develop an informed opinion, you’d be dead from cirrhosis of the liver.  Instead you sit there in your pajamas in the basement of your step-brother’s mother’s house…a woman with whom you are too uncomfortable to call step-mom because she married and divorced your dead father well into your second act of life which catastrophically imploded at the county fair last summer.

But no worries…you’re just the person we at Subversive Brewing have in mind while we make our amazing beer.  You sitting there alone…drinking.  You see we don’t want you to be suicidal, but we don’t want you to super-model-pool-party happy either.  Those people don’t drink, at least not enough to coast our progeny through college.  We’ll leave those folks to the macro-brew industry.  Why do they cater to those people?  Because they’re idiots…Idiots who make crappy beer.  Just.  Like.  Everybody.  Else.

We at Subversive Brewing make fantastic beer.  Is it the best beer known to mankind?  (Chuckle) Well, we’re content to let history be the judge of that.  But we’re about as confident as a person can be, sans the ability of time-travel, that history thinks we’re pretty great.  And don’t worry we have our brewers working on that too.  (Peaks in through a doorway)  How we doing fellas?  (Cheers)  (The Brewers look up from the computer around which they’re gathered all wearing white lab-coats) “We’re one step closer…we won the auction.”  Yes!  We got the DeLorean!  If we have achieved time travel I’m sure my future self will interrupt me mid-sentence and tell me that history has decided we’re the best.  (Pauses for future self)  Well, maybe tomorrow.

So you’ve pre-maturely passed judgment on all of the other beers in the world.  Well that’s okay, we at Subversive Brewing aren’t going to tell you to go fuck yourself, but we’re not inviting you to our pool-party either.  Because you’re disgusting.  And that’s okay.  At least it will be after you’ve had a couple of these.  (Holds up a bottle)  Drink up buttercup, your options ain’t getting any more promising…

Announcer:  Subversive Brewing…everything you know about beer is a lie.


My Voice: Two Point Oh…

Brewing beer=good timesBrewing contention=bad times

Brewing beer=good times
Brewing contention=bad times

I know what you’re thinking…it’s a figure of speech…an arrogant one; let me start again.  I was thinking: man it’s been awhile since I’ve written on my blog.  I think it’s been about three years.  I guess I could go back and look so I could be more precise about the length of time since last I wrote, but that sounds boring.  Let’s just agree it’s been longer than a month.  I tried to think back and do the math on the exact time, but in the midst of all that the numbers turned into red and blue monkeys and used the symbols of operations as weapons to beat one another, when last I checked the red monkeys were winning.  I couldn’t watch for long; I struggle with monkey on monkey violence, regardless their color.

I had an idea to write about Sandy Hook a few weeks back, I resisted that urge and I’m glad that I did.  It seems to be a topic mainly commented on by the mentally unstable who would use a tragedy to showcase their delusion.  I’m happy to be left out of the fray.  Call it a stroke of luck.  Instead I thought I’d share my reasons (Read: Excuses) for not writing for some undeterminable length of time.

I started to brew beer at a real working brewery with my friend Andy.  I had no idea how much fun I would have with that.  But it came at a price, my hours for writing were in direct conflict with the schedule of a brewer…this conflict showcased my inability to change my habits.  The solution was simple enough: write at a different time.  Trust me, I find no flaw in your logic, and really when you get right down to it, it’s probably the thing I like least about you: your flawless logic.  Anyway, that got more confrontational than necessary and I feel partially responsible; I’m sorry.  Let’s move on.  Andy and I brewed about 100 batches of beer (I’m almost positive that’s an exaggeration)  and like I said it was a lot of fun.  But there was more than just beer brewing in the brew-house, trouble was also at a rolling boil. (I know.)  My friends Andy and Jessica were only part owners of the brewery in which I worked.  Their working relationship with their partners had soured over the preceding year and, before long, talks of a buy-out were bandied back and forth between lawyers.  Eventually, my friends were bought out and I was dismissed along with them. It was a regime change and there was no room for an assistant brewer connected with the old-school.  I wouldn’t have wanted to work there anyhow, but really that sounds petty at this point.  I’m sure you’ll forgive me that indulgence.  About the same timeish I started another artistic endeavor, that of the podcaster.

Podcasting is nothing if not a stronghold of terminally self-involved despots with insatiable appetites for the siren-sound of their own voice.  So naturally, it was a perfect fit for me.  I’ve been in love with radio since before I can remember (completely impossible to prove, I know) and podcasting is the democratization of radio, and the audible evidence of democracy’s Achilles heel.  The great thing about podcasting is you get to sit down, either by yourself or with some friends, (I chose the friends route) and say whatever is on your mind.  The horrible thing about podcasting is that you sit down and say whatever’s on your mind.  This becomes a problem if you’ve nothing compelling to say.  It became clear to me I had little to say.  I wanted to make a show that was poignant, honest, and not afraid to go for the obvious dick joke here and there.  By not afraid I mean to say: not encumbered by one’s opinion of my intellect or ethos because I find dick jokes funny.  The show I made was definitely not afraid of dick jokes…but it lacked the other components, and that became glaringly obvious to me.  What wasn’t so obvious was the reason why, but I felt it prudent to forgo the recording of my thoughts in that format until such a time came that I could make the show that is in my mind.  That time is nowhere in sight but I will come back to podcasting one day.  It was just too much fun to stay away forever.  For those of you who heard that podcast, I apologize, it wasn’t the show I’d imagined it to be.  But my imagination, like me, is a shitty communicator.  There is a chance that that fact alone should disqualify me from the pursuit of podcasting all together.  I try not to think about that too much.

So here we are.  Those were the reasons I stopped writing.  There is the small detail about why the gap between those things ending and my picking up writing again was so wide.  Most of that can be explained by laziness.  The rest is a bit tricky.  Those of you who know me know that my brain is sometimes, some might say oft-times, controlled by an icy-veined cynic.  This cynic is a personality I’ve spent a large portion of my life trying to ignore, but alas, some of his thoughts escape my mouth and for every ten of those there are untold thousands that run around on a loop in the warm gray cul-de-sac that is my brain.  This means that whenever inspiration strikes, the process of getting said inspiration in writing is held up in committee as my cynic debates my mind about the validity of said inspiration.  On top of that I gave my cynic two fantastic failures (Brewing and Podcasting) with which to filibuster brain on the topic of inspiration.  So that took a couple of weeks to push through.  Last year I published around fifty-thousand words on this blog all in the interest of discovering my voice.  My voice is still an allusive thing after which I diligently chase, and having no evidence that I’m any closer to its discovery and having taken a break from its pursuit, I find myself every bit as afraid to stare at a blank screen as I was when I wrote my first post.  So it’s 2013 and I’m taking another shot at it…maybe it’ll be aptly described as futile as Dr. Thompson’s search for the American Dream.  I am left with the conviction that, unlike the American Dream and Bigfoot, my voice exists.  Also, I think Bigfoot exists.  I know that was confusing to you, but it was much more so to Bigfoot.