Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Most of today was spent working on the enclosed cabin part of the structure. This is the place where I predict the boys will go when they're mad at us. I expect those walls will be witness to many a hatched plan, conspired conspiracy, and gathering of small people. I wonder how long until one of them decides to snag some extra fabric from Mom's sewing room to hang in the windows so's nobody can see what they're up to.
Anyway, while I was sitting four feet off the ground in the cabin, Henry kept looking up at me and asking if he could climb up with me. I kept telling him that he couldn't come up until I had it all built, but then it occurred to me, aw crap, once thing thing is all put together, he'll be climbing all over it. I wonder how long before the first good fall? I gotta shred me up some tires before somebody breaks an arm.
So while I was screwing in the billion-odd wooden slats that make up the house's walls, I had rap lyrics running through my head, one of which was Talib Kweli saying "It's a small wonder like Vicki/that I'm picky..." and I don't remember what comes after that, but I got stuck on that part because my internal singer--you know, the little person inside your head that sings when you don't feel like singing out for all the world to hear? Well that little guy started singing the theme song to "Small Wonder." And before I knew it, he'd sung the whole goddamn song. I let my drill hang at my side and took my finger off of its trigger while I let that little fact sink in: Holmes, you know the entire theme song to "Small Wonder." Sometimes when I remember old shows like that, I'm not certain if I should trust my memory. Like "Parker Lewis Can't Lose" or "Square Pegs." I ask myself, were these shows really on T.V. at one point? Or do I just have some false memory of them? Could it be that perhaps I was the only person in the world watching them?
I was pondering all of this later on while I was rocking Simon to sleep. It occurred to me that I could've tweeted about knowing the "Small Wonder" theme, but the moment was passed. Ah well, I can live with a bit of tweetgret.
Tweetgret: noun. The feeling of regret that one experiences upon realizing that an opportunity to tweet has passed.
I shouldn't have been surprised that I knew that song. My brain is a magnet for lyrics that I don't want to remember. Like the other day, I was being silly and I started singing the chorus to a Tori Amos song, thinking that I would only sing a line or two, but then I realized that I knew the whole fucking thing. And yes, I sang it out. You might say I belted it. I'm not what you'd call a Tori Amos fan, more like an antifan. But somehow, every woman that I've ever dated, married, or otherwise had cause to exchange fluids with over the course of a significant span of time has been a Tori devotee. Which is why if you put on Little Earthquakes, I could probably sing along with 80 - 99% of it. And I'd do it too, just out of spite. Spite for who or what? Can't say, my friends. I just can't say.
Maybe I'll post about the holidays at some point.
Monday, December 29, 2008
On another hot summer weekend, an entire horde of us descended upon the Guadalupe River to tube its cool waters. Near the end of the course, you fell out of your tube, which isn't really surprising considering the amount of beer we brought with us. You would have been fine except that you somehow managed to rack yourself on a piece of tree stump hidden just below the surface of the water. To add injury to injury, when your sack came into contact with the stump, you screamed, which might have been okay except that your head was underwater at the time, so your voice was completely destroyed for about a week. Your sack didn't end up healing quite so quickly. You ended up having to go to the hospital where they found that one of your nuts was completely ruptured. The poor guy had to be removed, but in order to keep things in balance, you received a titanium replacement. Not long after your surgery, you went to a party and some hot chick sat on your lap. You ended up literally busting a stitch.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
So I don't really know if this is "ha ha" funny or "oh hey what a surprise" funny or "I think I'll go be a super villain now" funny. But in whatever sense, it's funny. To me anyway. So to recap, I'm in my third semester at seminary, the goal of which is to move into the counseling field. I chose the seminary for several really good reasons:
- I fully believe that the spiritual side of the self is of great importance to many people's mental health and well-being, and so I wanted to be able to at least talk about it when and if it ever comes up. Not that everyone in the world is Christian, but rather that Christianity is one vehicle, a language, a symbology, through which to try and make sense of the divine. And it's a vehicle whose language I am somewhat familiar with. So it's a place to start.
- The decision to move into this field had a lot to do with something of a spiritual renewal of my own, though it was one that was fraught with questions. Thus, I wanted to put myself in an environment where I could grapple with these questions. I wasn't looking to be spoonfed easy answers - I just wanted a place where I could struggle with the questions, hopefully with other strugglers.
- It's cheaper than UT or St. Ed's.
So that was sort of unexpected.
I have made one decision though: I'm not going to run from this.
And with that, I stopped writing and the post sat idle. What follows picks up where it left off.
The questions are big, and not easily answered, perhaps not even answerable at all. Which then begs the question, do they even matter? Which, of course, is just yet another goddamn question. But I don't feel as if just walking off in disgust is quite the way for me to go. It's not as if the questions will just go away. I don't think humans are wired that way. And to stick with the metaphor, I have to wonder if much of the discomfort and unease that I feel is a result of the process of tearing out some of my old faulty wiring and looking for new ways to hook things up, a process that's been going on for a number of years now, and will probably continue for years to come, perhaps even until the day I die. Maybe that's life. Maybe that's the journey. Maybe it never makes sense, and we simply make peace with the fact that we just don't know, and that any one of us is just as likely to be as full of shit as the next person. To me, this inspires a sense of humility. Why doesn't it do that for everybody? Argh, more questions!
Maybe my problem is my perspective. I see a question, I feel the need to find its answer. If the answer is not forthcoming, then harumph and argh and well fuckall, etc. Sometimes, that is. Other times, I'm perfectly laid back enough to accept whatever. It could be, however, that the shift I'm making is larger and in a different direction than I expected. I definitely didn't plan to somehow become "more Christian." In a lot of ways, I haven't really felt Christian for quite a while, and that's only become more solidified over the past few months. But I've never before seriously considered that maybe, just maybe, This Is All There Is. But now I am. I'm not making that as a declaration. In fact, I'm running pretty short on anything much that I can declare. Instead, it's a new question, another one to toss in the old thought grinder for some mulling over for the next few...however long. Just another thing I just don't know.
In talking to a friend of mine about all this, she suggested an exercise to try to get at the heart of it, and it goes something like this: Ignoring external influences as much as possible, including other people's opinions, political leanings, religious background, etc, write down the things that you truly, deep down in your core, believe to be true. It'll probably only be a few things. Maybe even just one. You don't have to prove it, just state it. So here's mine, in no particular order:
- Everyone who has ever lived and ever will live is capable of great good, unthinkable evil, and everything in between.
- We are not the sole architects of our lives. We are born into situations with people and certain inheritances, and given certain advantages and disadvantages. Still, we encounter choices that are ours and ours alone to make.
- Our lives and our decisions affect other people. Ignoring this fact causes harm.
- The human race has discovered so much in its time, yet there is still so much we do not know and cannot presently explain. This fact should humble us each enough to treat others with respect.
And with that, I'm off to live life some more.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
For this night, however, I'd spent not a dime. Austin Hip-hop Scene had held a contest, the prize being two tickets to see Ice Cube. So I dropped my name in the hat, and then forgot about it until one morning I went to work and checked my email, only to find out that my name was going on that guest list. Gotta say that was a good day.
At least, my name was supposed to go on the list. As we neared the door, I started wondering what the hell I was going to do if my name wasn't there. Sure enough, Clipboard And Stamp Guy flips through his various lists and can't find my name anywhere.
"Who was supposed to put you on the list?"
I told him.
"It's not here."
"Well, it's supposed to be."
We looked at each other for a second. Then he says, "Fuck it." He stamps my hand. He stamps Shayne's hand. Whether I was ever on that list or not, we were in for nada dolla. Gangsta, gangsta.
The opening act was an idiot named Trick Trick. I'd never heard of him before, but from the sound of some of his lyrics, he's got a bit of a homophobia issue. This is an ugly aspect of hip-hop that doesn't seem to get addressed much. For years, there's been a lot of talk about the gratuitous violence and the degrading portrayal of women in hip-hop lyrics, but homophobia doesn't seem to have been talked about nearly as much. One of the major exceptions, of course, was the hype that surrounded Eminem a few years back. For my part, I have less of an issue with the violence aspect than I do with the other two. I think the point has been made plenty of times that gangster rap is a close cousin of punk rock. They're raw, scary, maybe a bit mean. And both are intent on portraying the reality of worlds that are too ugly and too close to home to be comfortable enough for prime time.
Of course, both have been somewhat commodified, and have given birth to a number of artists that have become almost caricatures of the music they are supposed to be about. I mean, when you've got artists trying to portray their pasts as being more gangster than they really were, that's just sad. Still that doesn't take anything away from the impact that this music had when it first hit.
Wait, I was talking about homophobia, right? Yeah, the ugly treatment of women and homosexuals in a lot (read: NOT ALL) of hip-hop music makes me sick. I'm thankful that the music's gone in different directions over the years, with lots of artists taking the basic building blocks of beats and rhymes, and innovating them to create something new. It's as if more rappers seem comfortable being who they are rather than trying to portray themselves as some kind of ultra-violent gangster poet. Some artists have even spoken out against disrespecting women and gay people. And just as I think the tide will turn against bullshit like Proposition 8, I think it will turn against attitudes like these in hip-hop music. Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if a gay rapper rose to prominence using his or her rhymes against homophobia. Homophobia may not be wiped out completely in our lifetime (I mean Christ, we still have fucking racism), but you just can't win against the power of an idea whose time has come. Still, seeing Trick Trick was a pretty blunt reminder that this problem is still with us in a big way. And the fact that he has him on his tour tells me that Ice Cube, who I've respected for years, must condone his attitudes at least to some extent.
All the same, Ice Cube's performance was incredible. He played some new shit, he played some old shit, he even played some N.W.A. It's one thing to be all Office Space about it and sing along with the tracks in the car, it's quite another to sing along with the dude that wrote it. At one point, I turned to Shayne and said "that's Ice Cube! He's right there!" That's one more "gotta-see" show I can mark off the list.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
This is the first Christmas where Henry has been the one to bring up Santa Claus. For the last couple of weeks, he's been talking about wanting to go see Santa, a feat we've never attempted before because, well, see above. Still, he insisted he wanted to go so that he could tell Santa what he wants for Christmas. And do you know what he wants, what he has said over and over and over he wants to find when he wakes up Christmas morning? No, not a Red Ryder beebee gun. No, even better: cookies! Like, the kind you eat! Score, yo. I'll swing by the grocery store on the way home. It'll be the best Christmas ever.
As you can see, Simon is, as usual, unfazed.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Monday morning, the boys discovered the tree. Our nearly one-year-old is plenty mobile and plenty curious, so we left the bottom foot or so of the tree undecorated. It’s like the tree is dressed in a short skirt. Just showing off a little leg, ya know? Hey, a tree’s got needs. So I watched as the nearly one-year-old, my little New Year’s Eve baby, eyed the lowest hanging ornament, a shiny silver bell with colorful stripes all the way around. From his sitting up position it was well out of his reach. He raised his hand towards it and attempted to stand. His legs wobbled for a moment, then he thunked back down on his little baby butt. He tried again, same results. I watched him try this maneuver again and again, never taking his eyes off of that bell. Finally, he stood up and held his stance firmly, long enough to reach out and pluck the ornament off of the tree. I have you now, pretty shing thing. With it safely in his grasp, he sat back down and inspected his find more closely. The bell remained stoic.
I suppose if all the good tasting fruit grew out of the ground, humankind would still be crawling.
Monday, December 08, 2008
Friday, December 05, 2008
One night, I was awakened by the impact of my head with the concrete floor. I had rolled out of the bed and landed right on my noggin. You heard me crying somewhere in the darkness of the cabin. You found me, picked me up, and carried me to the health lodge on your shoulders in the middle of the night. Betcha got a headache, huh?
Thursday, December 04, 2008
So it came time to do a reading of these scripts, and Brandon says "Hey, my friend Matt could probably come help us out if we need some actors to read." It was only when I showed up for the reading and met you for the first time that I found out you were black, and it was only then that I stopped to think about how a scene like this might be taken by somebody who A) doesn't know me, and B) isn't white. Sure, I know it's meant to be dark and satirical and offensive, and people who know me would know it too, but what of everybody else? What would this look like through their eyes? Should I, as a writer, even worry about it? It's easy to brush questions like that off in a vacuum, but not when faced with an actual human being.
Thankfully you didn't get upset. I don't think you liked the scene very much, but you recognized it for what it was. Later on, I even got to direct you in another play. And those offensive scenes? Never saw the light of the stage. That's probably for the best. But don't tell self-righteous 23 year old me that I said that.
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
A few weeks later, I was a full-blown member, just like you. It sounds crazy, but I basically let myself get brainwashed. I was actually convinced that this little church, with its little outposts here and there throughout the globe, whose Austin branch met in the ballroom of a downtown hotel, was what it claimed to be: the one and true church. Everyone else? Going to hell. I actually believed that. Yes I did. I went from lapsed semi-maybe-agnosticish person with a Christian background to hardcore believer. Yes I did. It boggles my mind that I let that happen, that there was a time in my life I could have been duped like that, but there it is.
Throughout my time with this church, you were my best friend, and the person to whom I was supposed to go when I needed to discuss spiritual matters. In fact, I was supposed to, oh my God, I can't believe this, I was supposed to confess my sins to you. How ridiculous is that? How ludicrous? How manipulative and conniving? Though I can't say it was your fault. It was the system, and you and I were both willing players in it.
The truth is, we really were friends, even outside the structure of the church that said we were all "friends." We hung out every day. We talked about heavy metal. You brought your bass over to my house sometimes so we could rock out. We were buds.
People who left the church, and there were many, were said to have "fallen away." Not only were they on their way to hell like the rest of the world, but their punishment would be particularly harsh because they had known the truth and chosen to turn their back on it. It was hard to find a group photo of people in the church without at least one or two people in it who had "fallen away." I bring this up because when I left six months later, I hated the thought that you would be thinking I was one of these "fall-aways." I knew you would blame yourself, that it would eat you up inside, and that the leaders would go on and let you stew in that guilt. But there was no sticking around for me, not after I learned what a complete and total lie I had given myself over to, what a sham this organization was, how theologically ridiculous their premises were, how manipulative and downright evil many of their practices were, and how much damage they had done to people's lives all over the world. I hated to leave, and I hated to leave you behind. I felt like I was making a jailbreak and there was no way to bring you along with me.
I haven't spoken to you since then, but I swear that was you I saw in the Ikea parking lot a few months ago. You were with a woman, presumably your wife. We made eye contact briefly, and I think that was a smile of recognition. That is, assuming it was you and not some friendly stranger who resembled you. Last I heard, the church had crumbled, so who knows what happened to you and everybody else after that. I can only hope you found your own way to freedom.