Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Reality of New Years...

Well, it’s here folks. It’s 2011 and, according to the Mayans, we’ve got slightly less that two years before the planet comes to a violent and abrupt end. Don’t worry; I’m not going to launch into the now familiar satire poking fun at the Mayan calendar. I don’t know when the world will end any better than you do so for all I know, the Mayans got it right. Regardless, this blog isn’t about Doomsday prophecies. This blog is about the New Year.

I suppose one could argue that the New Year is nothing to celebrate. In the grand scheme of things, this insignificant grain of sand making yet another rotation around a flaming ball of gas is a testament to the power of gravity, not the endurance of humanity. Yet, despite being an arbitrary point plucked from an outdated calendar, I still have a twinge of depression when that large crystal ball drops in Times Square on New Years Eve. In years gone by, I’ve blamed that depression solely on the fact that I didn’t have a woman with whom to properly ring in the New Year. While I still bemoan the absence of my passionate annual kiss, the depression I feel around this time of year merits a closer look.

Granted, this blog entry could take a depressing turn into despair unimaginable if I let it, but my goal isn’t to launch into a pity me scenario. Whether or not this time of year holds any significance to you personally is irrelevant. To me it has become a time of reflection. I reflect on the past year and all its ups and downs, either out of tradition or habit I’m unsure which. But I’ve come to realize that my depression doesn’t stem from a singular cause but rather a subconscious realization that I’m not where I want to be.

While my hopelessly romantic inner self wants desperately to feel the flame of passion round out the old year and begin the new, I must understand that its merely a piece of the puzzle that makes up my inner turmoil. I’m not in, nor have I begun, my journey into higher education. I’m not a professional writer nor on my way towards that goal. I’m not even working in the MAILROOM of a newspaper. My romantic life is all but nonexistent. My financial stability suggests that I have the mind of an 18 year old, not the experience and discipline of a man in his early twenties. The New Year has steadily become a reminder that I’m not only not living up to the world’s expectations of me, I’m not even living up to the expectations of myself.

So this year my resolution is not to spend money wisely. I won’t resolve to lose weight or write more often. My resolution is to do SOMETHING that will make me proud. Something I can look back on with pride on December 31st, 2011. A dream vacation taken, an article published, a debt repaid or even 10 lbs lost. I want literary notoriety, I long fervently for a healthy romantic attachment and I wish daily that I really DID act a full 5 years older than I am. But, in reality, all I want is the chance to look back on SOMETHING I did and be HAPPY. My new year’s resolution is to live up to something expected of me. Regardless of whether or not I expect it of myself, or the world expects it of me, it’d be nice to be PROUD of something I did.
I only hope my family and friends can help me to reach those goals, or if not, help me see what I DID accomplish for what it really is, not my pessimistic view of it.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Judge Not...

On September 22nd, 2010 Tyler Clementi, an 18 year old Rutgers University Freshman, jumped off of the George Washington Bridge into the Hudson river. He committed suicide after his roommate Dharun Ravi and another student Molly Wei ALLEGEDLY (I firmly believe in 'Innocent until proven guilty') taped Tyler kissing (and possibly more) another man in Tyler and Dharun's shared dorm. Not only did Ravi and Wei ALLEGEDLY tape these images, but also BROADCAST them to anyone willing to watch online.

A few online reports of the incident show that Tyler was made aware of this broadcast and, while furious, opted NOT to seek revenge. An act I personally believe to be a quality that not only puts one on the path to TRUE manhood (sexual orientation irrelevant) but many historians, philosophers, poets and other writers see as one of the many ideals that determine the make up of a true HERO. Unfortunately Tyler convinced himself that he could not live with the torment he believed he would receive as a result of this ALLEGED act. So he threw himself into the waters of the Hudson River and ended his life.

Before I go into my own thoughts on the ALLEGED actions of Ravi and Wei, Jane's Addiction band mate Dave Navarro posted this letter entitled 'An Open Letter To Gay, Bi & Transgender Teens'. I feel the need to repost it here...

"Ok everybody, here is the deal. I cannot imagine what it’s like growing up in a close minded environment and being gay, bi or tans-gender. I don’t think any of us who aren’t can possibly imagine. The strength and character it must take to stay true to yourself in such an unforgiving microcosm are qualities that a major portion of the world lacks… Sad, but true. It’s just how it is at the moment. However, it’s that very strength and character that gives the world hope for a new way of thinking and acceptance in the future and when one of our children gives in and gives up, it is not only a tragedy but a victory for those who fear diversity. DO NOT LET THEM WIN! I know how overwhelming the feelings can get and how small the reality can feel, but the bottom line is that this is but a drop in the bucket in terms of the magnitude of life. You can get through this. High school is full of plenty of bullies and fear based hate, as is the world. With any group of people comes a percentage of people who just don’t get it and probably will never get it. That’s OK. We all deal with this to an extent. The truth is that in High School, you are kind of stuck in the group you are a part of until graduation, but trust me… You can pick and choose who you associate with and there are plenty of like-minded people in the world that are understanding, accepting and loving. Sometimes, we just have to stick it out to meet them. The hard cold reality is that once you have chosen suicide, that’s it. No going back. Sure, there is a public outcry and MAYBE the bullies feel remorse for a while, but it all dies down, life goes on, the bullies let the memory fade and get on with their lives. They learn to laugh, love, reach their goals and in many cases go on to have a full and productive life. Who loses? You do! Your family! Your friends! Other teens who need support in this area! Oh yeah… We all Lose! Now the world has one less mind that is open and different and unique and sensitive. Instead, we inherit the bullies, the fear, the set back… Our world has one less soul to help it evolve with a new level of clarity. Personally, I have seen a lot of darkness and tragedy that has felt insurmountable. The murder of my mother, my battle with drug addiction, the loss of friends and family. Utter depression and despair. Of course the thought of suicide has crossed my mind a time or two. Let me share this. THANK GOD I never took that action. The friends I have made, the experiences I have had, the laughter I have shared would have all been missed. In hindsight, some of my darkest moments now seem so small and insignificant that I am amazed I gave them so much power at the time. I am even able to laugh about it now. When I think back to the times I have considered ending it all I end up saying to myself, “What was I thinking?” To those of you contemplating such a course, please do us a favor. Seek counseling first. Find a network of people who have gone through what you are going through. Help others in even more turmoil than you. I am certain that you can find peace. As you know, our society and political climate is SO divided right now. We need your voice. The world at large needs your sheer existence in order to come to terms with itself and where we are going as a planet and species."

It's one thing to disagree with homosexuality for personal or religious reasons, but to openly attack and intimidate them is so over the line it LITERALLY pisses me off. I've changed alot in certain areas over the years. One of the areas I've changed in is my outlook on those who's sexuality is different than mine. I used to merely 'tolerate' them. Now I don't give a damn. If you're gay, props to you. Live ...your life the way you want. It is NOT my place to judge you or even to believe I have the RIGHT (in ANY way shape or form) to interpret the Bible as an excuse to condemn you to hell. The Bible has no chart for the severity of humanity's sins. If it's a sin for you to be gay, it is also equally a sin for me to lie to someone. A sin on equal ground. I am on no better or worse ground than you are.

Attacking someone who's sexuality is different from yours is INEXCUSABLE. You want to feel like a big man? Put your fists up and FIGHT. Stand up against someone abusing a woman. Stand up for a friend who feels lost. Kneel down and help lift a family member out of the muck of their life, but don't judge. THAT'S what makes a REAL man. Not degrading others just because you can. I've got a few homosexual friends and you know what? It has not, in ANY way shape or form, colored my view of them. In fact, knowing them has made me MORE aware of just how intolerant and hurtful I once was. I may not have made fun of them or done anything harmful, but judging someone for their lifestyle, TINTING my view of someone just because of my own misguided ego, can be EQUALLY as harmful sometimes.

So you want to be BIG and MACHO and degrade someone else for their chosen lifestyle? Take a LONG, HARD HONEST look at who YOU are first. Then BRING. IT. ON.

I wish I could say that Dave Navarro's letter will CHANGE something about the way this world deals with those who are 'different'. It won't. Neither will my blog. Neither will the multiple news stories that cover this ALLEGED act. Somewhere down the line, another person will be attacked for their sexuality, race or religious views.

It's not right. It shouldn't happen. But it will.

What CAN change is how WE react to those who decide to insult and degrade someone just because they are different. We can stand up. We can either watch from the sidelines as someone gets hurt emotionally or physically, or we can take a chance and stand by their side. Stand by what's RIGHT.

I'm a heterosexual, but I'll be DAMNED if I'm going to stand and watch as someones life is destroyed just because YOU can't seem to deal with their life's path. You want a fight? You've got one.

Because no matter HOW many battles ignorance and evil win, JUSTICE and GOOD will ALWAYS prevail. And you know what? I don't care how cheesy or self righteous that sounds to you.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

What Constituents?

Politics is a realm where one can never be right. At least not completely right. Political parties exist, therefore it automatically means that one can never be wholly correct on any given subject. I suppose the same logic could be applied to our everyday decisions and opinions because a difference of opinion exists in the first place. But for now our collective focus shall rest on the twisted despair inherent in the political system.

You may be assuming that I will launch into a tirade concerning the US political system and it's inherent faults. You may also assume that I will side with one party or another. Some of you may even be so bold as to think that, since I am a Christian, I must be siding with the Republicans. You'd be wrong on all three counts. What I intend to do is address the overall failure of the governments of the world to act in the best interests of the people. When it comes to the United States of America, I will not choose party sides as my seat in the congress of my mind rests firmly in the isle. And for those of you who assume that all Christians are Republicans, a change in thinking is in order.

As a matter of fact, that makes a nice segway. A change of thinking is in order for the entire system. World governments have failed their people. North and South Korea are still at odds, the Middle East is still stuck in senseless bloodshed, Asian governments still lay restrictions on their citizens. What bothers me about the governments of the world is that we cannot seem to reach an agreement on anything. Deep within the soul of mankind, do we not all share a belief that taking the life of another is wrong? Do we not all long for starvation and malnutrition to end? Do we not collectively agree that each person, regardless of age, race, sex or creed, deserves access to the medical breakthroughs that could save their lives? Or do you look at each of the points above and become first concerned with the money it would cost? If I may, how much is a human life? Does the price go up or down according to age? If they were 73 and had a history of heart issues, does that decrease their overall value? Logically, of course. Now, assume this 73-year-old man was your father. The one who taught you everything you know, who raised you after your mother died giving birth to you and who worked two jobs at 70 hours a week just to insure that you had the access to a better life he never did. Does that increase the value of this man's life to you? Should we be so selfish as to pick and choose who is granted access and who is not? Do you deserve the power to decide who lives and who dies? For that matter, does anyone? Slave or master? Day laborer or business man? Immigrant or celebrity? Citizen or politician?

It is the heart of the issues we (all world governments) choose to ignore on a day to day basis. We allow grudges, mistakes, anger, loyalties, fear and money to rule our decisions and our lives. And as such no one steps up to make the decisions that will literally change the world. I am not alone in my recognition of the issues, nor am I alone in the desire for change. The themes are widespread. It is why a movie like 'Avatar' can sell out for weeks as some cry over a fictional tree being destroyed. It is why charity TV commercials know to project to you the images of sad and sickened children. It is why a movie like 'War of the Worlds' states that, "only at the precipice do we find the will to change." The knowledge exists. The hunger for radical change, both local and global, is pulsating within the wills of us all. But somewhere along the way, our wills have become brittle or broken.

As I am only privy to the way in which the government in the US functions, I can only realistically apply my opinions to the system in which I operate. First, let me state that I am fully aware that where humans are involved, so must be an allowance for human error. A political system made up of imperfect people can only hope to be imperfect. Knowing this, allow me to continue.

I have attained a very fatalistic view of our current political system. Parties on both sides of the isle have destroyed whatever was left of our once proud nation. In the face of fear, we have thrown away our freedoms little by little for a false sense of security. And for what? The system is more corrupt than ever. In fact, we joke about the corruption of Washington while simultaneously venting our dissatisfaction with corrupt politicians. We have become so complacent and detached from the idea that we can change the system, that we resort to making jokes about the way things are to mask our despair. I no longer laugh at political jokes.

Two paragraphs ago, I stated that, "our wills have become brittle or broken." Why? It is because we have allowed the notion that a lone individual cannot effect change to creep it's way into our minds. That is a lie, especially in this country. This country was once the envy of the world, not because of our wealth, but because we had a system which allowed a people dissatisfied with the government, to change that government. We boasted a government "by the people, for the people." We have allowed fear and pessimism to beat down our will to change the way this country functions.

The news media covers the current administrations actions, both positive and negative, with blatant fatalism. While the media must remain impartial to one side or another to survive, the tone in their voices echo's that of the rest of Americans. We are dissatisfied with the way things are, no matter who is in the White House.

In the 1960's a large section American citizens, mostly youth, rose up and decided to 'fight the man'. This generation of hippie's desired change for not only the progress of America, but for the betterment of mankind as a whole. They strove for change through protests, petitions, demonstrations, rallies and music. And change began. John F. Kennedy was elected to the White House and the will of the people began to take shape. Martin Luther King Jr. led the civil rights movement, intent on the equal treatment of ALL, regardless of their race. Both revolutionaries were taken down in front of our very eyes before any lasting change could take hold. Granted, given enough time in office, Kennedy too could have succumbed to the corruption of Washington. Given enough time, Dr. King could have began jumping at shadows of racism that weren't there to begin with, thereby discrediting his cause. But regardless of the outcomes of could-have-beens, these two individuals inspired a hope in the people that had been missing from the American political system since the revolutionary war. And when they were taken in front of the people, the spirit of change they instilled broke. Civil rights activists became angry and hippies dissolved into nothing more than spaced out drug addicts. Granted the civil rights movement effected the goal Dr. King set out to accomplish, but only through those who did not allow the world to break down what they stood for. Something poorly lacking in today's society.

The other day, while listening to the radio, I heard a 42 year old man call in and express his frustration with the way the government functions. This individual then stated that his frustration was the reason he never once voted in any election. In essence, this man hopes the system will mend itself together as others stand up as one and act, but he himself has done nothing to contribute. To quote a comic book I recently read, "Hope is nothing without willpower."

My non-involvement in the political process (except for the occasional voting) has jumped from flippant disregard, to utter despair. What hope does my generation have for significant, lasting change, when our parent's before us failed? The hippies massed together a movement that spanned the country from coast to coast, and now that they're grown up, the system remains broken still. The hippie generation accomplished many things, but in the face of fear (or perhaps exhaustion) they stalled. It has therefore fallen to our generation to effect the change the generations before us could not. And it starts here at home.

We cannot allow OUR children to face the same broken system. A system with zero accountability. A system that enters into wars we do not wish to fight. A system that bails out businesses with OUR money. A system that only jumps into action, when election day is edging closer. As trivial as it sounds, we must start our own, more effective 'hippie' movement. We start by listening to the opinions from both sides of the argument. We start by finding the facts. We make our OWN minds up and either run for office (be it small town school board or the White House) or vote for those who really do hold our beliefs as their own. We start small and vote big. It's time to make a lasting change in the way things work in our country.

Then the era of political ideologies focused on self interest and power can begin to revert back to a government "by the people, for the people."

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Dear Friends and Family,

It's time to be more honest than I've ever been. This blog is coming purely out of necessity, not (hopefully) from the dark shadows of pride and greed lurking within my heart. It's time to get real, as they say.

Much of what say won't make sense. Some wording and grammar may come across as muddled or repetitive. My ideas and inner monologues will be flaky and irresponsible. This blog isn't about feeding my oversized ego or flexing my creative muscle. This blog is about the reality of my life. And this blog begins now.

I'm sitting in the living-room of an apartment I share with my girlfriend Jennifer. It's newly vacuumed and organized and usually this lends enough comfort to allow me to write coherently. But I can't focus. The blank white page glaring up at me from my laptop is taunting me now more than ever. My pride is begging me to write something epic and seemingly selfless. As much as I've given into these demands of my personal demons, I cannot now. What I have to say is too important to allow the fiends of my subconscious mastery over my focus.

I mentioned that I shared this monument to my own independence with my girlfriend. The time has come for this two year relationship to end. I've been whining and complaining about her and all the things she does or does not do for weeks, even months. I toss in meaningless lines like, “I mean, I know I'm not perfect either, far from it actually.” and “Shes a great person and all but..”. I've been so busy searching for reasons within her to end this relationship that I've neglected to search MYSELF. While there exist many reasons and flaws within her that I could easily call to your attention, I cannot and will not. The time for anger and excuses has past.

I have come to realize through the course of this relationship many things about myself. And to be quite honest, I JUST learned this lesson not 20 minutes ago while cleaning aforementioned living-room. As I write this it is Wednesday May 12th 2010 at 7:01 pm. Not an hour ago I was standing in my little sisters apartment talking to her boyfriend about Jennifer. I used the same lines I mentioned above and while I said nothing damning or even rude about Jennifer, my intentions were still of pride and ignorance.

For awhile now I've been struggling not with the existence of God, but with my relationship with him. How do I relate to him? How do I speak with him? How do I know when to hear him speaking to me? And so on and so forth. Today I got my answer, to a degree. For so long I've been blaming Jennifer for nearly everything. For oftentimes being the root of my anger. For being lazy. For being selfish. For being rude. For being isolated. I have fallen into this well rehearsed dialogue with others regarding her, that I twist their perceptions with astounding ease to sympathize with me rather than her. In reality, the blame should be on both of us. And to be honest, and not self deprecating for the sake of being self deprecating, the blame rests largely on my own shoulders.

My anger stems not from her. My yelling and language aren't the result of her eye-rolls or scoffing. It's not deep seeded from my relationship with my mother or my sister. It's not from observing my father in the early years of my rebellion. It stems from within me and me alone. It is my own fault for flying off the handle. It's my own fault for making her afraid of me. It's my own fault for allowing someone else to master the hair trigger of my emotions.

I need to be bigger than this. I need to grow up. I need to take responsibility for what I've become.

I feel the need to mention that I HAVE NOT physically harmed Jennifer in any way, shape, or form. But having a 275 lb, 6'1” man yelling at you is not conducive to a healthy respect of one another. Let alone building a sense of safety.

My cursing, both in high emotional situations and relaxed environments, is not something I should be proud of or neglect as an issue. One of many issues I have regarding myself is my cleverly hidden pride. I'm so prideful, I'm even proud that I've hidden it so well for so long. One of the many things I pride myself on is the fact that I'm a deep, philosophical, open-minded individual. My direct overuse of foul language directly contradicts those beliefs. The way I operate my whole life has been illuminated to me as one large contradiction. I wish I could say that I will begin working on my language. I know I will not. At least not now. It's a habit that is destructive to the mind and as such, very hard to destroy itself.

Another issue I face is my selfishness. Looking back on my conversations about Jennifer to others, I never once mentioned doing the things she wanted to do without having a motive behind mentioning it. In other words, the only time I DID talk about it, was to build myself up in the other persons eyes. I would always talk about the things she didn't do or wouldn't say. I would focus solely on the issues that directly or indirectly affected how I lived comfortably within my own life. I unrealistically expected her to mold to fit me and never once considered that we should BLEND into one rather than ADAPT. I was, AM selfish. My focus on this issue needs to overtake any other goals I may have. Goals that are selfish in and of themselves need to be obliterated. The selfishness itself needs to be near the pinnacle of my focus.

Yet another issue I'm coming to grips with is my greed. I realized that I would go the comic book store or to the grocery store and buy anything and everything I wanted when I had money, but when Jennifer asked me to buy the milk, I would cringe. I may have not said anything, or maybe I did, but its MILK. I have a cart of $120 worth of grocery's just for me (half or more of which are unnecessary) and I take issue with buying a $3.50 gallon of MILK?

Or if I did not have money, as a direct result of the above mentioned greed, I would guilt her into buying things for me. Sometimes I did it intentionally, other times I allowed her to think buying me something would make me happy. There were times during our relationship that I would be moody or upset either for legitimate reasons or selfish ones. During these times Jennifer would suggest that we go somewhere and I would agree (if for no other reason than to get out of the house). Oftentimes we would visit Half Price Books or one of the 3 comic shops I frequent. Jennifer consistently would suggest I pick out a few things and she would buy them with the intention of making me happy again. And I would let her, all the while struggling to ignore the demonic little laugh of greedy satisfaction in my own head, knowing full well that my mood would switch right back to where it was within ten minutes.

Jennifer would buy me my favorite things, things she KNEW I enjoyed and made me happy, just to make me smile again. And I LET HER, knowing that it wasn't going to do a thing and gladly accepting a new, free addition to my collection.

People, I'm selfish, angry, greedy, rude and prideful. In the coming weeks, months or even years; I might allow myself to slip into dismantling the image of Jennifer in my mind and yours. Do not allow me to. Today God as answered my question.

What do I do Lord? Do I stay in this relationship or do I leave?

The answer was never about her. It was about me. My dad told me very recently that every relationship (romantic or otherwise) is either Love or a Lesson. Jennifer has nothing but love for me. Granted, she has her own issues to resolve within herself and in her own time-frame, but regarding me, there is nothing but love. I was too self absorbed to see it and have ruined a relationship beyond the point of fixing the damage I myself caused.

And THAT is MY lesson.

I once thought that I was the ideal man for a woman. Labeling myself constantly as the perfect guy based on the quality that I THOUGHT I understood women and how to relate to them better than any other man. I thought that because I once was a shoulder to cry on for so many women in high school, that I must be someone they inherently felt they could trust. And perhaps the impulse to trust me was a real quality I possessed. I told Jennifer these things. That I was a nice guy, the perfect guy, that I would always be there and would never hurt her. Being a writer I made a convincing argument. I even believed myself.

I lied.

I am no longer convinced that I am the perfect guy. If I did possess the ability to have people trust me, I have abused it and am not ready or worthy to hold the mantle I once bestowed upon myself. I am not even sure any longer if I can even be labeled as a good guy. I have become painfully aware of more character flaws than I ever thought possible. There is a lot of work to be done, and I cannot rightfully call myself a man until I take them on one at a time, let alone call myself a good boyfriend, husband or even father.

I don't want your praise on these realizations about myself. While appreciated, they'll only feed the ego I need to destroy and the more its fed, the harder it becomes to destroy it. I don't want your sympathies on my personal journey or on the end of my relationship. My selfishness will only cloud your intentions into twisted versions of themselves.

I only ask for your support.

My selfishness is deep rooted. My greed knows no limits. My ego is ever inflated and will take more than a needle to deflate. My anger rests on a hair trigger and I need to find a way to dispose of the gun. I cannot continue to allow myself the comforts of blaming others for my flaws. It has already ruined a relationship that in reality began with so much more potential than you could ever be made aware of. I cannot allow it to ruin any more relationships. Romantic, family, friendship or otherwise.

I know I promised some of you the chance to lash out at Jennifer for the things I've spoken to you about. I must break this promise. Jennifer is off limits. TO ANYONE. Though the breakup may go bad, though my anger rage or my depression haze my better judgment, I stand by this. The things I have said about Jennifer's habits may be true, but they are nothing more than excuses masking what I've done.

I need you all to understand this. I need your help to become a better man. I need the wonderful women I know (Ashley, Tracy, Amanda P., Amberlyn F., Carol B. and so many others) to teach me the REAL way to relate to and treat a woman. I need the good men in my life (Mark T., Jason G., Mark B., Jamie C., Jamie B. and more) to instruct me on how to become a responsible man. I need my family to not let me become lost in my flaws and to point me to the things I SHOULD be proud of. I need the prayer warriors (Rosemary M., Amberlyn F., Mark T., Jamie B., Mark B. and my bible study group) to not let me hide behind the excuse that I'm not important enough to pray for, that to pray for myself is selfish.

Make no mistake. I alone am to blame for the things wrong in this relationship. Though fault may rest with us both, I did nothing to stop the deterioration of this relationship and though the outcome may lead to something better for us both, it is something that I should not have done to another person, let alone one I promised I'd never hurt.

To my friends, my family and most importantly Jennifer; I am sorry. I should have known better. I should have been better. I should have lived up to the ideals I claimed to hold firmly to. I should have done many things that I did not.

And for this, I am sorry.

There is nothing more I can say.

Monday, April 12, 2010


So apparently I can't comment on my own blog, so I guess I'll have to do it here. I promise not to make posting my replies to your comments as 'blogs' a habit. However this time, the situation merited it. Below is a comment I received on the blog preceding this one. Rebuttal

Original Comment by 'Connor'

wow chad,
that was an incredibly interesting article. I must agree with what Jason said above about you having talent and that this article is very transparent. Unfortunately I cannot make him see the error of the rest of what he said, however I will try to show you. You did a FANTASTIC job naming this article, which in my narrow understanding of journalism is, from what I can tell, a good chunk of the battle. Ones eyes are drawn to it and I literally dropped what i was doing out of interest of what you might have to say, but i misjudged the topic a bit. Still, i was curious. I'm afraid to say I was a bit disappointed. Your talent begs far more than this and I am saying that both because I am someone who doesn't really believe in being polite when it is counterproductive and also because you openly invited feedback. This article is not at all what I think you wanted it to be, But rather a deliciously indicative example of not only where your motives lie in writing, but also the pathetic state of some prevailing ideologies. You site Christianity in your article, you even quote Matthew and explain how it relates to your life, which might seem noble when taken at face value, however upon deeper inspection it is painfully clear that you are merely a preacher who has recently found his soapbox. thats one of the draws of Christianity, it gives the senseless finger wagger some method to his/her madness, it justifies the most self righteous bigot, the most outspoken hater of life is granted a license to fear monger. your a very articulate and well read individual and clearly you feel a passion for writing, but it is a fatal mistake among writers to set pen to page when it there is not a clear idea or passion about what there is to write. Apropos Christianity, where nothing you say can be negated without divine retribution and ridiculous self indulgence and gushing can easily masquerade as a selfless attempt to serve the greater good. Not only have you clearly chosen this topic "more to fill the blog out then actually parody my own flaws" but you've also managed to succinctly demonstrate the most irritating of christian traits: shameless egocentricity. God had his son whacked just so YOU could keep sinning, god devises the complex and often meretricious plots just for YOU, god spends much of his time dealing out specific talents and traits, a combination of which was created just for YOU,god is standing by for prayers from YOU and YOU may petition his plan as YOU please. When i heard you make reference to an earlier blog of yours, for a second there, I got the feeling that this whole article was in jest, that you couldn't possibly be ignorant of the irony that NOW and HERE you would reference that article. Perhaps thats what you are doing with this, in which case i'll ask you to please disregard this whole comment if that is the case. But if thats not the case, I ask you to please wait until you have something to write next time before you pick up the pen, lest you further pollute cyberspace with regurgitations and perversions of the imbecilities of christianity.

My Reply:

I WELCOME any and all comments to my style, content or lifestyle. I have a high tolerance for critique and insult, so I feel I've found my ideal creative genre. That being said, I find no fault in what you have to say. Being a FIRM believer in freedom of speech and press, I welcome you to continue commenting on my blogs as you see fit.

However, I WILL say this. Your grasp on the teachings of Christianity seems piloted NOT by your own unbiased immersion into the lifestyle, but more like you have a singular hatred of all things Christian. Either you blindly grasp at the majority opinion on Christianity simply because it's the majority, or you yourself have had a negative firsthand experience with the Christian faith. My reasoning for making such a statement is as follows. You generalise about Christianity. Riddled throughout your comment are ideas such as, "it gives the senseless finger wagger some method to his/her madness", "where nothing you say can be negated without divine retribution and ridiculous self indulgence and gushing can easily masquerade as a selfless attempt to serve the greater good" & "the most irritating of christian traits: shameless egocentricity". To anyone else (and myself) it reads as if you have an axe to grind regarding the Christian faith. Which is all well and good. While I find some of your comments to be slightly insulting, I personally take no offense in your right to say what you think. Also, NOWHERE in your comment do you make such bold statements regarding religion in general, your singular focus for your attack is Christianity. As if no other religion on earth is (and has been) capable of such great affronts to humanity before the 'advent' of Christianity.

I don't wish to get into a senseless debate on the fatal errors of Christianity. I'm searching for answers and think I can find them within God. You seem to have firmly made up your mind. It would be 'counterproductive' to have an open minded discussion regarding the Christian faith with someone who has locked the door to their own mind (or had it bolted shut by some outside experience). The ONLY reason I believe you have a closed mind regarding Christianity (if not in general) is your very last sentence, " I ask you to please wait until you have something to write next time before you pick up the pen, lest you further pollute cyberspace with regurgitations and perversions of the imbecilities of Christianity." Seeing as how I enjoy picking apart what people say to reveal the true motive behind saying it in the first place, here is what you JUST said to me. "Don't write anymore until you can get past that idiotic Christian belief system." Do I not have a right to say what I feel, believe or think? Do I not have the same rights as you?

I wish to say two things more. The first being, I wrote this blog over a week long period during the slower points at my job. I literally read and re-read what I had typed, over and over and over in hopes to gain the momentum I had early on. Besides which, I DID say, "I need to write about a couple of things and these next few blogs could come crashing bitterly down in style for the sake of the insatiable need to focus on the topic at hand." The second point I need to make here is that I STRONGLY suggest you stay tuned for my next blog. While there might well be some Christian undertones in the upcoming blog, it will approach the instability of my current personality and lifestyle in great detail. For a sliver of a preview, be sure to read the "about me" section on the side of my blog.

I will finish up with this, "On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand." I may be left standing on a rock without a clue as to where I go from there. But I've got a piece of the puzzle to my life in my hand. I won't let it fade away because the world doesn't agree with me.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed” -Gandhi-

I’ve been searching my brain trying to find a way to write about this in a way which will both interest you and inform you. In most of my writings, I usually take a step back from the desire to write and focus on the purpose of writing to begin with. This time is slightly different. I need to write about a couple of things and these next few blogs could come crashing bitterly down in style for the sake of the insatiable need to focus on the topic at hand. So I hope you bear with me as I try and hash out a few delimmas I struggle with.

The first in this small line of character flaws is my greed. I have this thirst for more. It’s actually alarming when I think about the repercussions it could have both now and in the future. But to get where I need to go here, I first have to go backwards in time. I need to tell you why I write to begin with.

I can’t remember when my school English papers took the leap from comments like, “poor” & ”needs improvement” to “excellent!” & “Wonderful!” but I do remember why. For a long time, I considered English essays to be a cumulative assignment. What I mean by that is that the teachers merely gave them out so you could regurgitate those things they got paid to cram down your throat. Another system of grading your individual grasp on the concepts taught day after day. As such, there was always a “right” and “wrong” answer. You knew what the school system was looking for, and if you wanted to pass, you better kiss their collective asses to make the grade.

At least that’s what I believed in the beginning. Perhaps that actually is the purpose of elementary and middle school essays, but in high school (under the condition of a good teacher) they were looking for something more. I thought I had the system figured out just enough to pass. But to my educational detriment, I was wrong. My English teachers wanted me to not just learn, but apply and think. There was no reality in what I had to say. No personal application or still lingering doubts. Just the facts as I was told them. So my essays were often unsatisfactory in the eyes of my teachers. It wasn’t until I learned the fine art of pity that I understood the real reason behind a good grade. I began inserting tidbits from my life into my essays to convey the fact that I understood the why behind what I was writing about. Some were true, others false. My style hadn’t changed an iota, only my adjustment to the grading system had diverted.

Then my life began to unravel (at least in my hormone confused teenage mind). I wasn’t popular. I was over weight. I had acne. I didn’t have a girlfriend. I was picked on. I was awkward. I thought I wasn’t good enough. I made bad grades. Etc.

You see, in high school I became the go to guy to talk to about your issues. I was the guy who somehow got every girl to open up about their problems. They’d come cry and talk about it with me and feel better and disappeared until they needed a listening ear again. As a result, I became the introvert and allowed everyone else to dump on me. I thought I had no one to talk to. And I felt my verbal skills weren’t up for the task of explaining everything inside of me. But I was asked to write an essay, I forget what topic, and all of the sudden my pity stories disappeared. I began connecting with the concepts. I understood what the writers felt and more importantly I understood what it meant to me on a personal level. I became excited about the idea that I wasn’t alone and not only was I not alone, the individuals we consider to be the greatest writers of our time identified with me. So I began making the connections and inserting my enthusiasm and ideology into my writing. My vocabulary improved, my grades improved and so did my love of a subject I once thought “too irrelevant”. I joined Journalism 1 and later Newspaper for this reason. I wanted to soak it all in. I still do.

And believe it or not, it’s all thanks to the English teachers who failed me. Who pushed me to see past the low number in red ink resting on the page. Who pushed me to understand that it wasn’t about parroting them, it was about becoming me.

How, you may ask, does this apply to my greed? Well, for a long time, I remained focused on the reason for the popularity of my writing. I kept churning out truths about myself, however bitter they were, and hoping to keep the small amount of fans I had crowding around me. I wrote one blog in particular where I put it all on the line. This particular blog, hindsight being 20-20, was full of an inflated ego and all but said that I wrote for the attention. I listed all of my character flaws using their scientific names and thought it to be a humorus take on those things I should have been working on rather than writing about. I briefly touched on my excessive greed at one point:

"PLUTOMANIAC / HYLOMANIAC (obsessed with money/posessions)

Thats right. I'm greedy as hell. I agree with the phrase, "There is NOTHING money can't buy." (eccept love, regardless of whether or not I believe in the emotion or not) If I wanted to sleep with a hot girl who'd never give me a second chance, all I'd have to do is name the right price. It could be a nice car, a shot at stardom, chemo for their mother...It doesnt matter, almost all mortals would sell their soul for certain things. All I have to do is offer her what she wants more than anything and shes mine.

And on another note, I am obsessed also with jewels. I'm currently purchasing many loose jewels from various sites. Emeralds, rubies, sapphires, diamonds and more are currently on their way (or will be in the near future) to my waiting hands. I have a minor obsession with gold, gems and riches. I'd be one pimped out king I can tell you that. Heavens streets lined with gold sounds just alright to me.

I also can't stop spending money. CD's, DVDs, random crap. I buy it all like a fucking rat. I don't know, theres a certian satisfaction to saying, "I want it." and then two seconds later its yours. (but mind you this particualr spending spree is temporary...I'm just in my indulging-in-my-first-paychecks phase.

Looking back, I can see it was more to fill the blog out then actually parody my own flaws. But perhaps the more disturbing thing about that infantile tidbit is that, at the time, it was totally true. I believed it. Money was the almighty, all powerful tool to use in virtually every task. What occurs to me to be even sadder, is the fact that it's still true for a lot of people today. But there was a lie in that personal definition, it wasn't just temporary. I knew when I wrote it that I wasn't going to change. And once more it was to my own detriment.

You see, at the time I lived at home with my parents (both pre and post divorce) and even though my mother was charging me a meager rent and nothing more, somehow I was still living paycheck to paycheck. I had NOTHING in my savings account. So when the time came to make costly repairs on my truck, I had to get a loan and have my dad co-sign. $3000 in debt to the bank later, I had the repairs on my truck finished and used the left-over money to pay back the loan. However, after the extra money went back, I was on my own with the payments, and still spending without consequence. In fact, my truck was on the verge of breaking down once more and I had -$300 something in my Wells Fargo account.

So one night as I was driving my girlfriend home, God decided it was time to quite literally kick me in my ass. Nearing 1 a.m. on an October night, my truck was struck by a drunk driver. The front end was totaled and my girlfriend was scared to death. As I pulled her out of the truck and walked her to the side of the road, I noticed that the only injuries she had was a bloody nose from the airbag. I was shaking and my glasses were gone, but I too was fine. After the authorities took care of the driver and the mess and I made my way home, I worried that my financial situation had just literally taken a huge hit.

A few days later, I found out that the other drivers insurance company was going to claim responsibility and pay me nearly $6000 (almost $1000 more than the truck originally cost me). I took the money, cashed it and paid back my bank loan (for repairs on a truck I no longer had) in full. The remaining money went towards a down payment on a car (yet again with my father as a co-signer) and the sense that I was quite apparently given a blessing in disguise.

But somehow all that I had endured still hadn't shaken me deep enough. I saved enough money and moved out of my mothers house in July of 2009 into an apartment with my girlfriend. I began spending my money more like an adult, I paid my share of the bills and spread out the due dates enough to manage. However, once the bills were paid, I immediately went and spent the rest of the money on whatever I wanted. So I kept aquireing comics, DVD's, music and books. I would go out to eat rather than eat at home. And just like that, I was back to living paycheck to paycheck.

So it came as no suprise that when I lost my job at Garden Ridge in early January of 2010, I had no backup money to keep my half of the financial resposibilities accounted for. As I struggled to figure out what I was going to do, I got a call from my dad. He told me that when he cashed my savings bonds to pay for the classes I took before at the local community college, there was always some extra left over due to interest. He had been saving that extra cash and was going to let me use it to maintain my bills while I found another job. Almost immediately afterwards my mother called and told me there were openings back at the place where I used to work, Spansion. After a month of waiting for the job to offically start, I found that I had a new job and still managed to keep everything from falling apart, despite my fears.

During my time between jobs, my girlfriend had to pitch in and pay my half of the bills at one point. Before I lost my job, my dad helped me get a new laptop provided I keep up with the payments. After a month at my new job, I went out and applied for a loan under my own name to cover those personal debts. I was approved (at a rate of 16.9%) for a personal loan of $1600 and paid both my father and my girlfriend back in full. I felt it to be a responsible act, moving all of my personal debt squarely on my own shoulders and no one elses. But I was still left with not alot of money as it would take a few weeks to acrue enough money to feel secure. And the worrying began anew.

You may find yourself asking, "What part of this story do you find significant enough to write about it?" I changed. Not during the cash-in-hand transactions. Not when God slapped me in the face, twice. But between jobs. How so? I changed because I talked to my couisn Jamie on facebook. You see, Jamie was sent to jail when he was younger for robbery and following his release became a preacher in College Station, TX. Now, to most people, (even myself at one point, I’m ashamed to admit) a jailhouse convert to Christianity sounds like every other similar scenario. We all seem to assume that their conversion lasts only a few months outside of jail then dissipates when they reassimilate back into culture. But not my cousin. He's got something I’ve never heard before in a Christian leader, conviction. I BELIEVE every word he says. Honestly? I wish he preached here more often, I’d actually contemplate going back to church on a regular basis. But I digress.

During my time between jobs and into my first week on my new one, he sent me, free of charge, a few CD’s of different sermons he gave. One in particular, had me feeling really convicted. During his sermon entitled ‘Jurisdiction’ he mentioned the parable of the talents told by Jesus in the book of Matthew:

"Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money. After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.' His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!' The man with the two talents also came. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.' His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'

Then the man who had received the one talent came. 'Master,' he said, 'I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.' His master replied, 'You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'

When I heard his explanation of that passage, I got the message loud and clear. From time to time I would put it out there that I was having a hard time finacially, but hardly anyone ever gave me any money. It all clicked when I heard Jamie's sermon. God gives to each of us according to our ability. It's only when we prove ourselves faithful over what he gave us, does he grant us more. I hadn't been a good steward or a 'faithful servant' over ANYTHING. How on earth could I expect God, let alone anyone else, to reach out and help me? Wasn't I just going to go get a tank of gas and spend the rest on frivolous items? Of course I was, I knew I was.

So I changed my tune. When I needed money for gas and had none, I did what I had never justified doing before, I sold my stuff. I sold the movies I no longer watched, the video games I no longer played, the collectables that just sat in a dark corner and the childhood collection I now couldn't care about. I sold over 20 DVD's, 12 supernintendo games, the silver dollars my father gave to me and the baseball card collection I was so proud of as a child. For all of that I got almost $75 and made it through. I bought my tank of gas and went to the grocery store and bought sandwich materials for the upcoming work week's lunches. It hurt, but I was doing it.

And do you know what happened on Friday April 9th? After I picked up my weekly paycheck and depositied it and the money I had been saving (a combined $600) into my bank account, I headed home. I had just deposited $600 and covered a negative balance of $25 and wasn't going to touch it until I was sure I needed it. So as I pulled into my parking space, I got out and walked over to the mailbox to see what was in there. Bank statement, bill, junkmail and a check from Garden Ridge (my previous empolyer) for $525 and change. The letter included with the check stated that between the months of Feburary and July of 2009, they didn't pay me correctly and were correcting their error. All of the sudden I had a new job with decent pay and over $1000 in the bank in a matter of weeks. I guess I was faithful with a little.

You see, my greed is an all encompassing disease. Even though I've witnessed so much in regards to my ability to overcome it, it still is something I struggle with day in and day out. I want it all. It could be mine at the swipe of a card, the push of a button or at the tap of the 'enter' button on a keyboard. I slip up still, as a matter of fact, I slipped up today. But the thing I have to realise is that I DO have it in me to keep this positive trend going. All I have to do is be faithful with a little.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Philosophical truths in the most unlikely places...

Apologies for not posting sooner. Recently I have been out of work and received a call that I start my new job soon. While this is good news, I have been stressing about getting all the things I wanted to do during my "time-off" and have been trying to find the time to do it all. But enough about my oh-so-intriguing social life, you're here to have your brain poked in those places you don't often use. To have the film peeled back off your eyes and see things in a new light, however brief the experience. You've came to the right place my friend.

Last blog I mentioned going on a hike around Zilker Park here in Austin, TX. The specific point of this hike (and all others with this group) is to allow nature to inspire you in your various forms of creativity. The first creative stop was at an overlook of Austin. I sat on the ledge and pondered the skyline of Austin. Accompanying this glimpse of depth was the creative work of another individual, Darren, who snapped a picture of me as I was writing. I thank him for this contribution. In THIS posting we're in the same setting, on the same hike. A little further along we have our last creative stop in a creek/ravine that was fairly dry from the lack of recent rain. I snapped this photo (above) of the stopping area with my camera phone.

This time I couldn't find anything that inspired me right of the bat, so I wandered further back. (back and to the right in the picture) There I found tons of things, any one of which could have inspired pages. But, having only45 minutes at my disposal, I had to focus fast. So I wandered around snapping various pictures with my phone and sat down at an abandoned cement picnic table to write. This is what I came up with...

I'm sitting here at a forgotten picnic table, 100 yards from MoPac on Superbowl Sunday. Like before, I suppose I could allow the busy freeway to my right and the lime green drainage pipe placed attractively in front of rusted fencing to could my view of what I personally believe is PROOF of God. But I'd rather rail against the cynicism clouding my mind, if only for the moment.

The first thing I notice is the green of the grass all around me. Hell, even the moss clinging to stones and the pointed cacti look appealing. The trees seem dead, but to me they simply conceal the beauty underneath. They cover the vibrant ground below them and those "health nuts" flying by are too distraught by the gray tree tops to bother themselves with peering below them. So they continue on their way to concrete gyms. (Funny how they flee from gray to grey)

Green is pure, and I notice no matter how overcast the skies, green lives. In some of the comics I read, green is the color of will. I suppose the green here is willing to thrive in spite of ... you fill in the blank. A little ways off I can see what looks like a group of mushrooms with bright reddish tops. Upon closer inspection I see they're nothing more than young saplings cut to the ground and marked with spray paint. *sigh* A little further off I see a gigantic like oak tree and notice beneath my feet that only a stones throw from MoPac and humanity, there are still deer tracks in this place. People often refer to deer as "stupid". Do you know what I'm thinking? Here in this spot, alone in the moment on a cold gray day? Perhaps deer refuse to let the fading colors around them and the penetration of mankind stifle their enjoyment of what is left. In this moment I realise something ... I think deer may be smarter than me.

Hope you enjoyed it!