Summer: Sylvia

Summer: Sylvia

This is the story of how I got my car.

On Friday, May 6th, 2016. I was in a wreck. My car was hit on the driver’s side while I was crossing an intersection. That car ended up being totaled, and I was on the search for something new. The month of June came, a few leads popping up here and there. Finally, after almost two whole months, two whole months filled with borrowing cars and getting lots of rides, we found something.

I believe it was the last week in June when we visited Integrity Motors, which was located very near our house on the access road. A few cars caught my dad’s eye, two in particular: a white car who’s manufacturer and make hasn’t stuck with me, and a black Nissan Sentra. The Sentra was being looked at by some prospective buyers when we first visited. Therefore, the bulk of our attention was diverted to the white car; yet, there was this intuitive thing going on in our peripherals, something about that Sentra.

We might have test driven the white car; we probably did. If memory serves me correctly, we gave the Sentra a test drive as well. My dad really took to it. We went around the block and drained out some of the paltry amount of gas that was in the car. That afternoon, my dad researched the Sentra, adding to his admiration for it and desire that we could pursue buying it. There was a problem though: the individuals who were nosing around the Sentra when we arrived had staked a claim to it, and were visiting their bank. It seemed that the car was out of our reach.

However, we quickly found out that our competitor’s loan was denied, and that we could move forwards on getting the Sentra for ourselves if we wanted. We were soon back up at Integrity, looking to make an offer on the car. After some deep deliberation about if we wanted to finance through a 2nd party that the dealership offered, my dad and I finally decided to go talk to our own bank. We went and saw The Shallows in the meantime. There were a few technical difficulties during this screening, the picture going out now and again, but we saw the majority of the film. I was still so in love with this film. My dad liked it too.

Finally, we went to the bank that Tuesday morning, July 5th, to talk about a loan. I had gotten a car loan before up there, when I got my Kia. This time, the price was higher. I was nervous, worried that I may not get it. By this point, I was really starting to like the Sentra. I hoped it would be mine.

As my family and I ate at Calico County that day, my dad got the call. He stepped out to the front of the store to talk to the bank. I waited in nervous agitation. Finally, he returned with the news: we were approved for the loan. The Sentra was mine.

I said a sincere and profoundly thankful prayer to Christ for this gift. I was amazed.

I named her Sylvia in honor of Plath. Many adventures lay ahead.

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Repeater: Part 4

Repeater: Part 4

So what is Turnover about, anyway? I’ve seen maybe a couple of suggestions online from critics giving their take on the opening Repeater track. Seems like these couple of attempts were very conscious of the inherent ambiguity or esotericism that the song possessed. Honestly, when I first approached the song, the lyrics were not immediately important to me, in the sense of intelligibility or semantics. The forcefulness of Guy’s delivery was enough, enough to convey exactly what it needed to convey. Stop. Turnover. Though these words initially conjured up images of the Pillsbury cherry turnovers that my father would routinely make at our house, I would brush those images aside with a chuckle to embrace what was really going on here.

Those four opening notes had rolled out the carpet, had smoothed out the ground on which to start building this structure. Construct it with insight, with acute observation, with an intelligence I only dreamed of having, with the courage to say things with the timbre that I imagined I could attain. If I were this band, these people, then my art would be taken seriously. People would listen to me, even if they couldn’t understand me. It’s one thing to be heard, it’s quite another to be listened to. One takes attentiveness and intuitive focus. Fugazi had already mastered this captivating attentiveness on their first album. This song was political, it was social, it was internal, all at once. I saw footage of them playing this one in front of the white house, in protest of the Gulf War. It was January, 1991, the 12th. 17 days later, I would enter into the world, an 8 pound, 4 ounce child, no knowledge of war, of the twisted ways of government, of human nature. No knowledge yet of how punk rock would open my eyes to a way of life that was by my own rules. But this band over in Washington was carrying the torch. I would inherit it at 16.

Stop. Turnover. It’s a passing on. We carry the light. Injustice cannot drown us out.

Guitars had never taken on this quality before. Were they even playing chords? Or was this a new way to be music? My conceptions of designation in the band lineup would soon be tossed out the window as I entered further into the mind light that is Repeater.

Stop. Turnover.

Summer: Independence Day

Summer: Independence Day

Okay, so let’s talk the 4th of July during my super summer. July had been going pretty great so far. Following Ransom’s party, I’m not super clear on what happened over the weekend. I think that I hung out with John and Angie on Sunday night. We made plans to meet up the following day. I remember coming home that night and laying on the couch, very relaxed and full of creative ideas and energy. I was working through some potential stuff both for my supernatural teen drama and my adolescent superhero show.

The next morning, I took my dad’s car down to Canyon, a little late to the parade. I had to find a place to park. This proved pretty difficult, as the immediate blocks spreading out from where the parade was taking place were packed. I finally found somewhere about six or seven blocks away. Not quite ready to get out and face the large crowds, I sat in my dad’s car and watched a retrospective review on Dante’s Peak by one of my favorite YouTube channels. Finally, I figured it was time to go out and find John and Angie, join in on the fun. I made my way towards 4th street, finally winding up by the Happy State Bank, where I soon found Angie and John. I was quickly informed that there had been a whole float decorated with confederate flags that had recently passed by. I’m glad I didn’t see it. There had been several worldwide tragedies this summer, and any symbol of prejudice was certainly evil in my eyes. This is what I thought of the confederate flag then, and what I still think now, especially in light of the attitudes of those who parade them proudly upon their vehicles as they ride through the redneck infested west Texas.

Near the end of the parade, I spotted the pastor of the college ministry that I had decided to leave back in June. Though I was separating myself, I still considered him a close and treasured friend. After the parade had passed, I greeted him briefly before John and I made our way to town square. Angie headed back to their house for a quick pit-stop. On the way downtown, John and I discussed more of our album, which was still in production at the time. We had, at that point, finished all of the guitar and drum tracks, and I think a couple of vocal takes had even been attempted and saved. The bass was pending. I had wanted to start doing it immediately after we finished the other instrumentation, but at this point, the plan was to still feature Nathan on bass. He had been increasingly hard to reach as time had gone on. Our indie film project was at a standstill, and though I had heard an affirmative from him about tracking the bass, there was no indication as to when we could make it work. John and I decided, on our way to the square, that we should give Nathan a kind ultimatum, set a date, and let him know that if he was not able to make that deadline, I would take care of the bass duties instead. I thought it was a respectful way to handle the situation, both towards Nathan and to myself and my ambition for this album.

The square was alive with community, people everywhere, vendors set up around the center of the square, food vendors stacked on the side of Palace. It was nearly perfect, except that a giant tarp stretched across the entirety of the square would have been wonderful. The sun was beating down pretty mightily. We finally settled on a food stand that was serving a variety of fair-style greasy goodness. As I stood in line, I spied several familiar faces about. Tyler eventually found me and we struck up a short conversation. It was tinged with a bit of awkwardness. We hadn’t really talked since the Oklahoma trip. I was still confused as to the level of closeness I wanted in our friendship. I’m pretty sure he knew something was up. I made the best of what I could as we stood in line. After Tyler had left, John and I talked a little about my ideas to approach the subject of our friendship. It’s always a hard thing to address. I was putting it off.

Putting that aside for  the time being, John and I got some corn dogs that were eerily reminiscent of the fair’s variety. We headed inside Palace and out of the heat. After procuring some Topo Chico and reuniting with Angie, we sat down and had a relaxing semi-lunch. The place was nearly filled. John and I decided to take a walk around the square and check out some of the vendors. On the way out, I thought I spied a familiar face from facebook. Turns out it was someone who would soon share in a highlight adventure of sorts from this summer. But that doesn’t come until August.

The jaunt around the square was fun. Some friends were running their own booths. We ran into some friends along the way. Eventually we made our way into the brand new bar/restaurant that had a pending official opening but was set up as a sort of sampling environment to generate early interest. I sampled some of their beers, which were pretty good; refreshing on a hot summer day. John, Angie, and myself made our way outside and sat down on the sidewalk near the buildings. We reunited with Angie’s family, and took in all the bustle around us. Sadly, the communal warmth of the day was a bit diminished by a few disgusting Trump campaign signs, things I consider a blatant endorsement of imbecility and ineptitude.

Eventually, John and I made for my dad’s car. It was a long and hot walk. We discussed the person who I thought I had identified back at Palace. John knew who she was. I talked about how I was attracted to her and was thinking of asking her for coffee.

We drove back to the square and picked up Angie and her mother. We made our way a few blocks over back to their house and proceeded to decompress from the morning’s frivolities. John and I sat out on the porch for a bit and took in the afternoon in simplicity. Angie, John, and I went to Braum’s for some late lunch. I got a cookies n cream milkshake, which was amazing. Eventually, I decided to head home for a bit. We planned to reconvene that evening at Buffalo Stadium for the fireworks.

When I got back down to Canyon, John informed me that Angie wasn’t feeling well and would be staying home. We soon both arrived at the mutual decision that we wanted to stay in ourselves. It had been a busy morning, and I think we were both longing for some quiet grace. We sat in the living room and ended up watching The Twilight Zone fest on SyFy.  They aired the pilot and about three classic episodes afterwards. John brought out the rum near the end while we watched The Howling Man. I decided to head home after that. Sitting there in that living room, watching Twilight Zone with my best friend… I’d take that over fireworks any day.

This was my 4th of July in my celebrated summer. It was pure, it was uplifting, it was filled with love and light. I would later learn that Fatty wasn’t doing well on this day, that the tumor she had was really doing some serious damage. I’ll touch on this later.

For now, I’ll have this 4th, this glorious 4th, Thank You, Lord Jesus, for this time.

His Name is Victory

His Name is Victory

Tonight, I’m sharing a story that’s pretty recent. This one is a memory I look back on often when I’m feeling anxious or upset, especially in the evening as I’m trying to wind down. This memory is precious to me as it represents a turning point in my life and also another wonderful example of God meeting me in my anxiety and giving me His peace that surpasses all understanding. So let’s go back six weeks…

Monday, July 24th started out with a little turbulence. I had recently had a rough panic attack within the last ten days, and I had been changing up my sleep pattern and diet to start being proactive about gaining more peace. Things had been going wonderfully, but on that previous Sunday night, I was feeling pretty off. I’m not sure why, but I was jittery and anxious. About ten or eleven, I began trying to go to sleep. I wasn’t having much success. I put on some YouTube videos, which usually helps relax me. But it didn’t work this time. I was restless, I was anxious, I wasn’t tired. I might have dozed a little bit here and there, but there was no REM sleep happening. I tossed and turned, kept trying to focus in on the YouTube videos I was watching. Around 1, I got up and turned on some lights along with the TV. I figured that I would be productive if I wasn’t able to sleep yet. I got out my laptop and began working on a summer series post. My anxiety started to abate around this time, but I still felt restless and uneasy. I was frustrated that I was having trouble getting to sleep. Finally around 4:00, my mom came in the living room to sleep in her recliner. I tried sleeping again, but I was still a little rattled and getting to sleep was rough. I tried listening to YouTube again, this time a little more peacefully. But I still wasn’t getting to sleep like I wanted to .I would doze off occasionally, but it wasn’t sound sleep and it usually wasn’t for long. At some point, I moved my bed down to the den and attempted to catch some more rest, hopefully a little bit of proper sleep. I honestly don’t remember if I even dozed off down there. All in all, I estimated that I only slept about two hours combined.

My brother came over around 7 and I opened the door to let him in. I couldn’t get tired again, so I eventually joined my brother and mom outside in the backyard for coffee. I wasn’t anxious anymore, and in fact, I was feeling in pretty good spirits, though I had barely slept. For a long time, I have been overly concerned about how much sleep I get. As I rallied my hopes that morning, I flashbacked to two conversations I had had/heard that summer from friends of mine who had relayed nights of restless sleep they had had, each only sleeping about two hours on these occasions. Knowing that I wasn’t alone was a huge help for me. I decided that early morning that I would make the best of the situation. I would make the best of this day. I drank coffee on that cool July morning with resolve.

I went into work at 8, a change for me, and went about being productive. At some point, I went and grabbed a decaf coffee from the vending machine and took a walk around campus to clear my head. I called my mom and we talked a bit about what was going on. She helped me put perspective to everything and to calm down and not be hard on myself for my anxiety and restlessness. I was feeling pretty good around this time, slightly worried that I wouldn’t be able to sleep again when I tried, and dreading the fatigue I might get later.

After I got off work, I went home and immediately tried to catch some zzzs, or at least lie down and get into that sweet sleep-ish zone. My dread and worry was kicking up around this time. I wasn’t exactly hungry yet either. But sleep still wasn’t coming. I was able to lie down and get kinda sorta peaceful. I finally resolved to get up and commit myself to the activities of the afternoon. My mood was alright, but I could tell that I was starting to feel a bit tired, mostly in my emotions.

I hung out with my brother on his lunch break, during which I felt okay. There was this nervous sense that I would soon crash and start feeling either extremely anxious or depressed or terrible in some sense. But none of that was with me on my brother’s break. I actually even enjoyed most of our time together, choosing to focus on the moment and soaking up the sunlight.

After his break, my mom called to inform me that her and her friend Karen, who was a relative of ours through my grandfather, were going to my great uncles’ house, which Karen had been renovating. The house is in Wolflin, and was built almost a century ago. It’s quite a beautiful place. I was invited to go see what Karen had been up to. We spent nearly two hours walking about the place. My mom had been in that house as a little girl, and she was greatly moved as she walked throughout the place. As I walked from room to room, I was getting inspiration for my TV series; the place had a wonderful aura of love and legacy to it, something haunting and beautiful, mysterious and replete with potential in my imagination. I was in pretty high spirits around this time; I had forgotten what it feels like to be anxious at all. There was still dread in me that I would crash later. But for now, I was doing good.

When I got home, things started to turn south. My parents went and got some dinner. I was starting to feel uneasy. Fortunately, a friend soon reached out to me and helped me take my mind off of my worry. I also did some reaching out to other friends (some who were open about their struggles with anxiety) and told them about my night and asked for advice on combating anxiety.

During dinner, my anxiety really came to the forefront. I was feeling cold and shaky. I stepped outside to get some air and expose myself to the warm summer. It was then that an idea hit me; it was an epiphany of sorts, something that I knew would help me feel better, both emotionally and physically. I needed a haircut It may sound simple and kind of stupid, but as I had been sweating all the time at work and it there was still plenty of late summer to go, I reasoned that a haircut would help me feel cooler and also that it would serve as some sort of symbol,  a sign of renewal somehow. I asked my dad if he would do the honors; I didn’t wanna wait to make an appointment. My dad graciously agreed and we were off. He proceeded to give me a wonderful haircut. By the end, I was feeling very relaxed, even though I was still tired. I told my dad stories of previous times in my life when I had slept for short periods at night, and how the following days I was fine and very productive. In doing this, I was helping myself to realize that mindset had so very much to do with the whole thing. Hearing myself relay these stories, relay these times that I had not let lack of sleep destroy my spirit, these all served to remind me that I didn’t have to be afraid of this.

I showered up, feeling wonderful and refreshed in my new haircut. I made my way to the water windmill and filled up my water jug, messaging some friends who were offering wonderful advice about getting peace. One friend in particular sent me several messages about her struggles with anxiety and how she handles it. Knowing again that I wasn’t alone was a huge, huge boost to my spirits. God was speaking through these wonderful souls; I am not isolated. I will not be defeated by this fear.

Eventually, I came home and settled down. The anxiety that had once covered me had been stripped away by God’s loving hand. My mom made me some chamomile tea and I lay down with the TV on, sometime around 9. My mom had the brilliant idea to play some worship music as I settled down, hopefully to finally get some sound sleep. She chose a song that we had sang the previous day at church. The lyric goes, “Your Name, Your Name, is Victory”. In those words, I knew that my God is Victory. Christ is Victorious over all my fear and anxiety, always and forever. He has called me loved, He has called me wanted. Lack of sleep doesn’t separate me from any of His love. His Victory on this night was my rest. I drifted off into peace. I didn’t even finish my tea. I had entered into the courts of The King. That night, I slept soundly and deeply, and woke up the next morning in rays of light and victory. Thank You, Jesus. Thank You for Peace.

Throwback Post: To a Time of Peace and Promise

Throwback Post: To a Time of Peace and Promise

When I was 10, my family moved into a new house. It was the springtime of 2001, and on a day in mid-April, we left behind the house that I loved so dearly on Leland and headed off to settle on Memory Lane. It would take some adjusting. I plan on posting more about the house on Leland and some of my most cherished memories there. But this post is about something magical from the first months in the house on Memory.

Fear has always been a struggle in my life. From some of my earliest memories, I have done battle with worry and anxiety. Though it has impacted my life in certain ways, I have always overcome my fear, thanks be to God. When we moved to the house on Memory, my fear soon became pretty significant. A friend of mine spent an afternoon telling me some urban legends that shook me to the core and got me terrified of stepping into a bathroom at night (Candyman folks; really? Is that movie even scary?). Nighttime during the following months was a time that caused me great perturbation. Moving to a new environment, my friends tales of Candyman and Bloody Mary, all of this had served to generate much fear in me, fear that would surface nightly and bother me significantly in the middle of the night, when I would often wake up. As time went on, I got braver. Through the amazing help of God and my parents, I learned to not give in to terror when I was alone in my room in the middle of the night. A couple who were friends of my parents made the incredibly kind gesture of letting me borrow a night light figurine of Jesus that I could keep in my room at night. I loved that blue glow, the reminder of my Savior who was indeed my protector in every way. I also was getting into Bionicle at the time (yay early 2000s Legos), and I believe that a contract was made between me and my mother that involved me getting a Bionicle character if I stayed in my own room throughout the night for a certain number of days.

All this leading up to the main focus of this post. At some point, I have these memories of waking up in the middle of the night in those earliest days of living at the house on Memory, and hearing a bird singing outside my window. I don’t remember exactly how many nights this occurred, but I certainly remember it; I remember the waves of peace that washed over me as I heard that bird singing outside. It’s the peace that comes from Christ, the peace that surpasses all understanding Something about that bird’s song, something about hearing it singing while the dark was still out… it was straight from God’s loving hands to my soul. It was a sign, a promise, a simple reminder that I was never alone. Out there in the night, in the dark which I was terrified of, a bird sang a sweet and simple tune, unafraid of the night, unfettered by the darkness. That bird somehow ushered in one of the greatest moments of peace I have ever known, and it happened more than once. That song meant to me that Love endured the night, Love knew no fear, Love cast out all fear, Love was courageous and so proud and confident that it sang loudly and happily in the midst of night I would drift easily back into sleep upon hearing this bird’s song. The bird would keep watch over me while I rested. I felt so safe in that song. I know now that God used this bird to remind me of His promise to me that He will never abandon me, never forsake me, never judge me, never leave me alone, never let fear have me.

The promise of peace endures. This summer, I have woken a few times at night to hear a bird singing outside. Out there in the dark, the promise shines forth, conquering all fear, and singing victory in joyous melody. Amen and amen. Come Lord Jesus, come.

Summer: Ransom’s Party

Summer: Ransom’s Party

On the inaugural day of the great month of July, I attended a get together at my buddy Ransom’s place. He was in town for a bit, on break from UT, and there was a cookout scheduled for a bunch of friends, people I had met over the last couple of years at the 806 mostly. As I walked in the door and made my way to the backyard where the grill was firing up, I was greeted by familiar and loving faces. To this day, I still feel like the Matthew McConaughey, Dazed and Confused sort of friend to this particular group, albeit way less self-assured or creepy. I say this because out of the majority of the friends in this group, I think I’m the oldest. Most everyone is about two to three years younger than I am, and all far beyond me in most every area of life. I look up to many of them and am inspired by their dreams and drive. But I digress once again.

The next hour or so was spent catching up with friends, some that I hadn’t seen in a while, some who’d I’d probably seen earlier in the week. There was food in the kitchen, I’m not quite certain what it was at the moment, but I seem to recall it being quite wonderful.

More and more friends showed up throughout the night. I was introduced to Ransom’s girlfriend, who I found immediately intelligent, warm, and interesting. I got to catch up with Zane and Majesta, a couple who I have known for several years and who I treasure immensely. After we ate, a large group of us made our way into the living room. I believe that Cards Against Humanity was the game chosen for the group. I respectfully declined, having something of a philosophical commitment against playing that game. But it was genuinely entertaining at times listening to the madness that everyone came up with as the night progressed. That’s such an aptly named game. Only these wonderful friends could make something so inherently vile somehow semi-good. But I still refuse to play it to this day.

People were starting to get sleepy/drunk, and eventually little groups started up in various parts of the house and the backyard. I found my way from group to group. At some point, I went out on the back porch. A small group was gathered around a single guitar. I listened intently for a moment to what was being played before I lost interest and drifted on to a new conversation. A little bit later, I would take up a turn on the guitar and play some original renditions, eliciting something of a sing along and an accompanying bass presence courtesy of Zane, who had produced an acoustic bass. I ended up playing quite a few songs, going into covers at some point as the cleanup started around the grill. Zane and I eventually played some more songs together. People were starting to leave. Soon, there were only a few of us left, sitting outside in an intimate space afforded by deep love and kindness.

Eventually, a bit fatigued and very calm, we all rose from our seats. It was probably sometime around 1:00 in the morning. I drove home in a quiet calm. What a great start to July.

This was the last time I’ve seen Ransom, Zane, Majesta, and a few others up to the present as I write this post. Hopefully, I will be graced by their presences again soon. Nights like these, friends like these, they make life so wonderful and sweet. And the celebrated summer continues…

4th of July post coming soon!!!

June 30th: Perfect Peace

June 30th: Perfect  Peace

This may be a short post. There’s not a lot of detail. The event in focus wasn’t anything multi-layered or action-packed. But brevity is not an indicator of insignificance. Rather, some of the most profound and wonderful parts of our lives can sometimes be totally ineffable or best served in modesty. And I’m thinking that will apply to this post. Because sometimes the best is found in the simplest.

It was a Thursday night. The previous three nights had been spent with friends. This night, I was at home. I don’t remember the specifics of the daytime. I probably watched some Twin Peaks, John and I might have practiced, seeing as it was a Thursday and that was an unspoken summer ritual. Regardless, that evening, I ended up in my mom’s personal room, sitting in her thoughtful chair watching YouTube and reading through some comments on my friend Sy’s blog.

My mother had offered to let me hang out in her room for a bit (a place that was reserved almost exclusively for her). I accepted the offer and plugged in my computer charger before sitting down with my open laptop in front of me. The couple of hours that came next were a delight. They were quiet, peaceful, simple. Any restlessness I might have had prior on this day was soon washed away. I even left a comment on Sy’s new post and he got back with me quite quickly.

That’s about it. There’s not a whole lot to this day. It was not an action filled event or a party bustling with people. Rather, it was a joyous and relaxing evening, a time to decompress and be still. I look back on this night often, the memory of it very vivid in my mind, full of grace and truth. It was a direct gift from Christ, a reminder of His Peace for me. I treasure it, and I look to it for reminders of God’s faithfulness.

Here’s hoping for much more of that June 30th Peace in my life.

Amen.

Throwback Post: Kind Night

Throwback Post: Kind Night

This one goes back to a very special memory of some very wonderful friends.

Back in 2014, sometime in the fall/early winter, I was at a friends’ apartment playing Cards Against Humanity (an aptly named “game” that I have since grown to despise). I was having some social trouble in that I was feeling awkward and inferior. Not to mention that I was hopelessly trying to flirt with a girl who was seated next to me. Everything seemed to be going wrong, and I probably attributed this to my assumed intrinsic inferiority. Though there were definite moments of brightness here, the party was becoming less and less enjoyable, and I was feeling more and more down.

Sometime when I was over at the snack table, I reached out to my friend Bryson. He was with Broderick and Topher at Broderick’s place. They had been hanging out for a bit and seemed to be having a far greater time than I was. Bryson sent me an extraordinarily kind message inviting me over and informing me that I was wanted and treasured in their environment. I left the party and made my way to Canyon.

At Broderick’s place, I had one of the greatest nights of my life. It was a simple time. We all talked for a bit, made a small pizza, rattled off some top ten lists. Topher retired first, and soon I lay down on a makeshift bed between Broderick and Bryson as we all started winding down for sleep. Bryson drifted off first. Broderick and I stayed up for a little while talking about confidence and such. It was incredibly encouraging and enlightening. I soon fell into a deep and peaceful sleep.

The next morning, I awakened with Bryson’s beard a few inches from my face. It was only mildly alarming. I was in the presence of true and wonderful friends, and I thanked God for these wonderful souls and the joy of being among them. We stood outside for a bit and gained our senses in the morning light. My mom called me and I explained what had happened and where I was. I eventually headed home with a full and joyous heart.

As I write this post, I am reminded that I truly have had some wonderful friends and wonderful times in my life, and that God has time and again graced me with these profound and beautiful experiences. No matter how bad things get, how anxious I may get, how isolated I may feel at times, I am never alone. I am never defeated. My friends have helped me see this, and Jesus, my best and closest friend, constantly helps me see this and moves me on towards the best me.

Thank you to Broderick, Topher, and Bryson. May Love surround you always.

 

Summer: Tribal Face Paint, June Jazz, and Movie Parties

Summer: Tribal Face Paint, June Jazz, and Movie Parties

The last week of June was sheer bliss. I’ve probably used that phrase before sometime during the course of these summer posts, and surely the word bliss. I know I might be exhausting the word by now, but as I seem bankrupt of a worthy synonym at present, and as I’m trying to go through these memories rather intuitively rather than turn the series into a cold intellectual encyclopedic exercise, I’ll go with it for now, knowing full well what unique meaning the word takes each time I apply it. Ah, words.

But back to the summer. I don’t remember much of playing that Sunday morning at church, probably due to the fact that I was super drowsy from moving furniture and staying up so late the day and night before. But I imagine it went well. I genuinely enjoyed my time of playing worship out at Hillside North. As I had come to the revelation that I would be taking leave of playing at Trinity, I had yet to decide about playing at Hillside. Was this something that I wanted to continue? I enjoyed the crew that I played with; they were all very kind and intelligent. I enjoyed the songs we played and I genuinely enjoyed the services. However, as it was summertime, I was frequently staying up late into the early mornings, certainly when I would go to shows or play shows. This resurgent habit of staying up late and sleeping late made it quite difficult for my internal clock to roust myself awake by 7:00 A.M. But I still felt a sense of loyalty to the team out at the north campus, and they weren’t asking me to play every single week. I figured that I could keep committing to Sundays for the foreseeable future.

June 27th was a significant day for me, mostly due to the wonderful spontaneity of summertime and late night hangouts. There was a show scheduled that night at 806. Mount Ivy was the opening band; the headliners were the oft lauded Little Tybee. Shortly after meeting Juan, I was informed of Tybee’s greatness; it was an ethereal kind of description, a transcendent musicianship and identity imparted to me more by Juan’s intuitive energy than the semantics. I was intrigued. If they were anything like Glyphs (kind of the next stage, according to Juan), then I knew they were truly great. They had been to town at least once per year since I had started hanging out with the music people, and I had yet to see them. This was my chance.

John and I were at 806 early on, I think. I seem to remember sitting outside on the porch reading a new blog post by my favorite thinker in the science/faith dialogue. Ivy showed up and started to load in. I’m sure that I conversed liberally with Broderick, Topher, Juan, and company. These were the glory days of thick communal love. I truly felt like an equal player in this scene, albeit less revered and acknowledged. But still, I was a part. People knew who I was and who my band was and what we were up to. And I had the greatest drummer in the land, who I was thankful to call my best friend.

I don’t remember much of Ivy’s set. I’m pretty sure that I was there in the crowd for it, probably seated at a table. It was warm and inviting, cerebral and spiritual all at once. After they finished, I wandered out to the patio area. Earlier in the evening, I had spied my friend Cacy, who I hadn’t spent any face to face time with since the fall of 2014. I wanted to connect with her in some way this night. She had always emanated a fascinating allure. I had kept up with her via social media, but we hadn’t really hung out since a house party we went to those two years before. This night, she was out on the patio surrounded by familiar faces. I felt safe enough to approach her, even in my candid awkwardness. Eventually, we got to talking, and as her face and the face of her then interested party (a friend of mine as well) were both adorned with some unspecified tribal-ish paint, I asked if she would do me the same honor. She did, and we proceeded to catch up. We even made plans to hang out soon as I offered to help her move.

My friend Ann showed up around this time, and we got to talking (I think maybe before the face-painting). I had met Ann the previous year, and we had taken an instant liking to one another. Our times of hanging out together were few and far between, but each time was pretty magical as friendships and dialogue go. I always felt enlightened and unencumbered after hanging out with her. She was spiritually attuned, complex, and ambitious, and thoughtful, all to high degrees. It was a joy just to be around her. We had been in correspondence the past few days and were planning to hang out the coming Wednesday. It was happenstance meeting on this Monday night, one that I was very thankful for.

I missed the whole of Tybee’s show. I heard the peripherals of the set, but I didn’t take it in properly. Juan would be upset. My face freshly painted, I interacted with more friends out on the patio, really soaking up the magnificence of the night. It was great to be around such wonderful people. I eventually made my way out to where Ann and her friends were. We caught up a little bit and I eventually made plans to go hang out with her and her friends at Fast Eddie’s. I bid farewell to everyone and soon rode with Ann over to Fast Eddie’s. I had frequented the place for a short time back when I worked at United, but had only been there on rare occasions since. This was my second time going this year. I had gone on May 12th with the group that comprised John’s bachelor party.

Ann and I sat in her car for a few minutes before going in; I imagine we were waiting on everyone else to show up. We had a really good talk about a serious issue going on in my life at the time. Ann’s support and wisdom were so amazing. Fast Eddie’s was pretty fun, a very relaxing time overall. Ann and company played pool. I hung out not far away at a table on my own, smoking a leftover Black & Mild I had from the 806. Ann would occasionally come over and talk to me, as well as the super-cool server we had. I was in a great state of thankful relaxation, sitting there in my own little puffs of cheap cigar smoke. It was a special hour.

I was invited to go to Waffle House with the gang afterwards, but I declined. I was ready to turn in. Ann took me back to my car and I headed home. We bid farewell until Wednesday night. Monday’s adventures were over.

Tuesday night brought the last June Jazz at Amarillo College. I had missed the previous 3 dates, but made a point to attend this one. I joined Angie and John near the pit by the music building and sat down on the warm summer grass to take in some jazzy eudemonia. Honestly, I don’t recall much of the band, though I’m certain that every one of them was a very talented musician. They served as background music to the array of soul light that I was to experience that night. Everyone in attendance (a very large gathering, in fact) seemed to be radiant with high spirits and that special hope that graces the soul in summertime. I’ve known it several times in my own life. It has helped me grow and learn to love The Lord in new and more intimate ways every season. A gentleman sitting near John and I offered us some kind of premium Wisconsin cheese that came in a nifty little bag. I was hesitant to accept cheese from a stranger, but it ended up being pretty good, if memory serves me correctly.

I saw some familiar faces, shook some new hands, graced the place with a genuine smile. After the set, our friend Beau caught up with us and got to talking about films, delving quickly into the obscure and surreal genres. I remember going out to the parking lot with Angie and John. I’m not sure if they gave me a ride home or if I had taken one of my parent’s cars. Sometimes, I’ve gotta let this minutia go. Whatever the case, that final June Jazz was a delight.

Wednesday night came, and Ann and I decided to watch a movie. She invited me over to her apartment and ordered a pizza for us. I arrived with a small selection of films, and after a short spell of wandering, I found the correct apartment. Ann introduced me to her and her roommate’s dogs; they were both adorable and awesome. We had dinner, complete with wonderful conversation that included our feminist ideologies and desires for the church. I probably elucidated why I wasn’t going to be playing worship at North anymore, if I hadn’t talked about it already on Monday night. After dinner, we got ready to watch a movie. We settled on John Carpenter’s The Thing. Ann had never seen it. To this day, it’s still one of my favorite thriller/horror films. I think she liked it; a first-time viewing of The Thing is always a unique and often terrifying experience. It’s kind of hard to gauge whether the viewer actually likes the film, I think. The wild and grotesque cinema experience before us notwithstanding, it was actually a really chilled and warming night. Ann is the kind of friend you dream of having. Every time I got to hang out with her was a gift.

I left after the movie and drove home with a full heart. This had been a week full of friendship and love, and it was only Wednesday. More was on the way.

Love and Peace to all, and may true and lasting friendships be formed among us everyday.

June 25th: Moving Day, Bobo Teas, and Late Night Private Jams

June 25th: Moving Day, Bobo Teas, and Late Night Private Jams

I’m not sure exactly what time I got back over to Angie and John’s house the next morning. This was still a little over a week before I got my new car, so I probably took my dad’s over to the house or was dropped off. Whatever the case, we started getting things ready to load up. John had managed to procure the Palace Coffee van from Patrick to assist in the move and to save us from renting a U-Haul. It wasn’t giant by any means, but it could fit the essentials. John’s parents showed up eventually and we started putting assorted possessions in their van as well. It was hard for me to keep going into the house and taking things out. My fondness for this place was overflowing, and with each piece I took out and loaded into the van (John and I had to work together on some stuff; the two worst choices for moving furniture). It was becoming more of a house and less of a home with every bit we removed. My slice of Heaven was getting bare.

More helpers showed up throughout the morning. Angie had gotten John and I some Taco Bell for breakfast. It was so nice having them back in town and back in my life. Maybe wherever they moved, we would continue these wonderful times; maybe it would be an extension of the magic of 1319.

Eventually, we got just about all we needed. John’s father gave me a really inspiring pep talk on how to approach the industry with my art while we were in the kitchen. It sparked something inside my soul, both for my music and screenplays. That inspiration fresh in me, John and I rode down to Canyon in the Palace Van. I don’t remember what we talked about. That van was sleek, reminded me weirdly of the Ninja Turtles van (the real Turtles, none of that Michael Bay nonsense).

Loading everything into Angie’s mother’s place wasn’t too difficult. We were pretty efficient in moving everything in. However, as we neared the end of the move, someone had the bright idea of moving a piano out of the house and into the shed/garage. Since so many of us were there to move things in the first place, it made sense to seize the opportunity. However, I would have liked if it would have been seized another day. But in all honesty, it was actually kind of fun moving that piano. It seemed an impossible task at first, but as we got it through the living room and out the front door, I realized that we could actually do this. Angie got some wonderful video of us moving the thing off the front porch and into the yard via a ramp. It was a hilarious feat to be sure. I don’t think any of us were bodybuilders or athletes. But we put our collective strengths together and finally rigged a path to the shed and managed to get that piano inside. I’m still amazed that we were able to pull that off. I guess there’s some lesson there about perseverance and teamwork and such. Maybe someday it’ll come to me.

Eventually, we were all wrapped up. It was time for lunch. Taco Bell breakfast had worn down a while ago (so much for egg, sausage, and tortillas…hot sauce? What is Taco Bell breakfast, anyway?). We all ended up at Sayakomarn’s, a legendary Thai food place there in Canyon that I had never actually been to. Most of our crew referred to it as Soccer Mom’s (a pervasive inside joke there in Canyon, I think). We arrived mildly exhausted and sun-dazed. But we sat down in high spirits and settled in a well-earned summer afternoon meal.

Someone mentioned Bobo tea. I had no idea what it was but after taking a look on the menu, I figured I’d try one out. If you’ve never had a bobo tea before, you’re really missing out. Do yourself a favor, stop reading this blog post right away, go get a bobo tea (if you’re local, go to Soccer Mom’s) and then come back and enjoy every bit of it as you finish up this post. I’ll wait…

I was feeling quite ambitious, so I went with a Cookies and Cream flavor. I think almost everyone at the table got a bobo tea. When they brought me mine, I consumed it with unparalleled celerity. It was wonderful. Every bit of that thing was a delight. I’ve been craving one ever since (over a year now). I probably ate chicken-fried rice for dinner, my usual go-to at Thai food places. It was a lovely meal with some big laughs and warm smiles. The day was sublime. Even moving that piano was a joy. Though I was still so sad that we were bidding farewell to the house on Bellaire, this friendship here was proof that the best of what I had experienced at that place would live on.

John’s parents paid for everyone’s meal in an act of great kindness. We were all getting pretty tired now. But John and I had to get back to Amarillo and pick up a few more things from the house before returning the Palace van to Patrick. If memory serves me correctly, Angie, John, and I returned to the house and shared a few moments of quiet, pensive relaxation before John and I got into the van and headed to Patrick’s. I don’t think much was said. I’m not sure what they were feeling. I knew that I would miss this place. I wish that I would have taken a good last look around the place while inside, just to have some sort of proper impressive sendoff. It was the last time that I was in that house.

After we dropped off Patrick’s van, John took me back to my house. I was warm and worn out, languid in the summer afternoon.

I’m not certain what transpired in the immediate hours. I bet that I hung out with the family for a bit and yammered on about bobo teas. But that night, John and I had made plans. He had filled me in on a secret little jam session/concert that he was playing drums for. Andy Roller, a guitarist and singer who was close with the local business owners in town, was coming in to play a secret little show at Evocation’s roastery site. I had been a faithful regular at Evo for a few months, yet I never knew about this place. It was tucked away in a storage center not far from where I had grown up. The space was pretty sparse, but it was perfect for this little show, affording plenty of space for Andy, John, and the gentlemen playing bass whose name currently escapes me. We showed up around 10 or 11 I think. John and I sat out in his car outside the space waiting for Andy, listening to Bikini Kill and relishing every bit of Kathleen Hannah’s brilliance. Andy finally showed up, and the band set up and got rolling. It was a set comprised entirely of covers, I believe, rock hits with extensive smooth solos plucked out on Andy’s strat. Andy’s wife and I sat around listening, sipping on some alcohol that was brought. I spent some time reading up on Fugazi’s discography, mostly Steady Diet of Nothing, which I had not yet listened to at this point. I was only up to Repeater by the end of June. The door to the storage space was left open, the warm jams flowing out into the summer night. Eventually, the employees of a local brewery came by to watch the show. They had been working at wherever their space was out there and popped in when properly sauced. By the last hour, I was getting really drained. We had spent a good 3 to 5 hours moving that day, capped off with moving a piano, mind you. And it was getting near like 1:00 in the morning. I was scheduled to play guitar at Hillside Christian Church, North Grand Campus in the morning. Rehearsal was at 7 or 8. With every minute that transpired after midnight, it dawned on me that I was going to have a really short sleep shift this night. I wandered into the darker part of the storage space, where a small office was adorned with a little bathroom that I had already frequented over the last few hours. I sat down in an office chair and attempted to drift off into an appetizer-type snooze, whatever I could catch before going home and getting the good stuff.

Finally, the set ended. We bid farewells, and John took me home. The day had come to a close. Bittersweet bon voyages to the old house, and to the memories contained within it. There would be more ahead. For now, I needed a little rest. It was June 26th now, and the summer had much more adventure to come.