Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Love Hurts

It was a Friday night in September during my senior year of high school. Everyone else was going about doing what everyone should be doing on a very nice, Fall evening: enjoying some good ol' Texas high school football. It was warm, the sky was turning the pink, purple, blue shades like those Texas sunsets do. In the haze of concession stand smoke, the flourescent stadium lightbulbs were blurring into one huge glare that could be seen for miles. Everyone was doing what everyone should be doing, except me. I, on the other hand, was actually a little chilly. The flourescent lights above me hadn't been maintenanced in a while, so they were flickering on and off. My solid orange attire was actually quite thin and didn't help much against drafts swirling around cold tile floors. And frankly, the handcuffs around my wrist and ankles were straight up ice cold. I was in jail. I had one phone call to make, and it was to my mother. I took a deep breath and raised the glossy black earpiece to my ear and began to dial home very, very slowly. After about 2 rings, my mom answered almost as if she knew it was me. 

"Mom, hey it's me. I love you and I'm okay, but I was coming home and got pulled over. I was drinking and they...found drugs. I'm in jail. Can you please come get me?"

The pause between my words and my mom's were indescribably uncomfortable. 

"I'm sorry, son. I love you, too, but I'm not coming to get you. You can stay in jail." Then she hung up.

My mother hung up on me. 

Humiliated, I accepted the consequences of my actions and softly hung up the phone and awaited what would be a long weekend in jail. 

Ok, pause. Let's rewind about two years prior when my mom first discovered I had started using drugs. It didn't go well for me. My poor mom. I honestly can't imagine what it's like for a parent to find drugs in their 16 year old son's room. At the time, my mom and dad suspected I was maybe drinking beer and tried a few cigarettes, at best. They assumed I was a good kid with good friends who made good decisions and stayed away from "those kids" in the party scene. Trying beer was just something kids did. But when they found a 2 foot high, double-chamber water bong in my closet that I had made from two 2L Sprite bottles, duct tape, and some straws, I'm sure they experienced something equivalent to what one feels when you get the news that, say, blood tests have revealed some unfortunate results. I'm sure finding a half smoked joint would've raised fewer questions, but finding a bong that I had hand-made, had obviously used quite a bit, and had kept hidden in my closet for some time, likely introduced a watershed of questions that were not easy for my parents to answer. I was clearly much farther along than they had feared. What else is he into? How long has this been going on? Where is this coming from? Are his friends doing this, too? Which ones? What are we going to do now? Our son is doing drugs, and we had no idea. Where did we go wrong?

It would've been excruciating for my parents to know that by the time they found the bong I had tried almost every available drug on more than one occasion: cocaine, speed, acid, shrooms, weed, and a few creative combinations of each. Though to this day I have never smoked crack, shot heroine, popped Molly or X, it really matters little. The point is, I was deep in. Though my stomach dropped when my bong was boldly placed on the kitchen table for me to find when I came home later that evening, I had no intention of pumping the brakes. I gave my parents some BS answer like, "It's not mine, I'm holding on to it for a friend but I'll throw it away," and then immediately began scouting more clever hiding spots. 

I know for a fact this broke my mother's heart. Deeply. I can't even imagine. I know this because of how hard she tried to help me, but when you're 16 your parents are just clueless, over protective, and strict. They won't let you live. My mom's desperate attempts at taking me to counseling, to church, to other family members who loved me, to police officers who tried to talk sense into me, and her own loving attempts to plead with me to stop, all had a counterproductive affect. She even showed up at a few parties and knocked on the door. I literally ran from her on foot. I was THAT determined to live my own life. Nothing would kill my vibe. In fact, it got worse. I stole money from my parents. When they would ground me, I would sneak out and meet up with friends to drink and do drugs, only to return to find my parents knowing the whole time. I screamed at my mom countless times. I told her I hated her. I walked out of the house on a few occasions during lectures about how I was going to end up dead or in jail, and went and did drugs. I would leave on Fridays and return on Sunday nights with no phone calls or indications that I was okay. My parents just had to wait for me to get home to know I was alive and/or not in jail. I can't imagine the parental misery. 

This went on for two years with no sign of slowing. Until my mom prayed a prayer. 

Now, fast forward two years to around 15 hours prior to my arrest that Friday night. My mom's story is essentially this: She had tried everything. She'd emptied the playbook of ideas to get my attention. A few months prior she started talking with my youth minister at church who she also began to pray with for something--anything--to change. The Thursday night before my arrest my mom said she was laying wide awake and prayed, "Lord, I've done everything I know how. I've reached my limit. He's yours. He's always been yours. I give him to you. I let go. I can't do anything else. In Jesus name, amen."

I was arrested the very next day and the words, "I'm sorry, son. I love you, too, but I'm not coming to get you. You can stay in jail," rocked my world. Please realize my mother didn't do this out of anger or resentment towards me. My mother had just prayed a prayer that had just been answered in huge fashion. This was a statement of peace. She was no longer trying to control. She trusted what was happening.

Now, for the record, I didn't change that weekend. I was actually arrested AGAIN for the exact same thing two months later, but this time on school property. Yikes! Thus, I spent my senior year at an alternative campus in a cubicle doing self-paced workbooks to graduate. But, my mother continued to pray, and in due time I was drug and alcohol free, doing community service to get my misdemeanors dropped, and had been amazingly accepted to college for the Fall. I reconciled with my mom. One night it was just her and I up late, and before she went to bed I apologized for everything. I told her I loved her and how I was amazed and thankful that during those 2 years of hell I put her through she was still loving enough to make me breakfast every morning. She loved me. She still loves me. And no words can express how undeserving I am of that or how amazed I am at her heart of gold.

The story isn't over quite yet. 

So, there I sat after graduating high school in my local church for the annual Senior Recognition ceremony where a senior from the youth group would receive a $500 scholarship to college. I obviously won because everyone knew I was gonna go pro in every sport, but as I accepted my cash money my mom also had a gift for me and everyone else in the room. She wrote a poem. Here's the thing: my mom doesn't write poetry. She said one night, similar to before, she was laying in bed wide awake, only this time not as a result of despair but of joy. This time words of peace came from her heart instead of a prayer of desperation. This is what she wrote:

I Had To Let Him Go

"When our child was just a little boy, off to preschool he did go
To learn the things that children learn--I had to let him go.
Then to kindergarten and through junior high, his mischief began to grow.
It was off to the office many times--I had to let him go.
Then came those teenage years and everything was, "So."
In all of his rebellion--I had to let him go.
There were many years of tough love, we battled to and fro
Through the best and worst of times--I had to let him go.
During one of the bad times, I began to whisper real low.
I prayed for God to take him, but then--I had to let him go.
Good took him with open arms; He loved him first, you know.
Thank you, God, for showing me--I had to let him go."

And then she fell asleep.  

The entire place erupted and my mom got a standing ovation, which totally killed my vibe. 

So, now, here I am. The undeserving recipient of love that hurt like hell to give. And that's the point. The kind of love that we are most undeserving of, the kind of love that at times feels wrong to give, the kind of love that makes us breakfast in the morning after we've had a rebellious and debaucherous night out, the kind of love that hurts like hell to give, is the love from Heaven that we are secure to lay our heads on at night. Love that hurts is often the love that lasts. And that my friends is why the accompaniment of pain with love in some cases might be a symptom that it's the right kind of love. 

Unconditional, beautiful, motherly love. I know others do not have the same privilage as me. Some may not even know their mothers, or even be on good terms. Some mother's may have already passed away. But, if you have a mother who is still with us and y'all are on good terms, she loves you so much it hurts. I betcha. Give her a hug for me.

Happy February.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Helluva 2015

2015 is gone. It's over. Literally done.

Like you, I'm like, stunned at how it seems that as I get older the years seem to fly by faster and faster, and how in a matter of blinks I will be writing this same line about 2016. Nuts.

Well, with that said, I never like to leave a year unreflected upon. I've managed to avoid death for another 52 weeks straight, so that calls for some voiced gratitude and shout-outs to the things that molded me the most in 2015. In no particular order, here's a glimpse of what didn't kill me over the past year:

1) Job change. 
In April of this past year I took a position as a bar manager at 8UP Elevated Drinkery & Kitchen. It's a rooftop bar located on top of the Hilton Garden Inn and smack dab in the heart of downtown Louisville. Before I took a position here I had frequented this spot knowing it was going to be one of the most popular spots in town. It indeed became just that as it was voted Best New Restaurant in Louisville. Currently, the ol' 'Ville does not have another rooftop bar, so 8UP was filling that longing for apparently everyone. From the patio bar, one can enjoy an amazing dinner under a red/purple/pink sunset and soft glow of the skyline resting only blocks away. Add the amber lighting from our firepit tables with a soft breeze and you have yourself a patio full of complete strangers getting engaged. No seriously. It's basically perfect for proposals and photo shoots and music videos and bands and reality tv shows and movies and everything else that tried to use our space for its aesthetic gold. The most common response from our guests was (and still is), "This place transports you and makes Louisville feel like New York or Chicago or L.A." Yep. I said the same as a patron myself before I came on board as a manager, and I still do. I'm essentially the bar's floor/service manager who ensures guests have a quality experience. I'm in charge of leading, developing, and equipping our team to embody hospitality that is coupled with an appreciation for all things craft--cocktails, beer, food, wine, etc. It's fun. I love it. I work with a management team who I'm constantly sharpened by and I'm in a role within a very successful hospitality company (Concentrics Hospitality) that is itself expanding into all regions of the country. Hospitality, it appears, is my thing. I feel like I've become good at it. You know you've maybe found your niche when you find yourself buying books in a certain genre faster than you can read them. All in all, my role at 8UP is likely the first major milestone for me in my career in the restaurant/hospitality industry. My other management roles seem to have made me ready for this. Everything fits. I have that driven sense that I'm not good enough, but in a motivating way. I've found something that makes me competitive. I want to be the best at this. I want to be better than you as a manager. I will be better than you. :) Better get on those books. This job change was crucial to my year in 2015.

2) Tattoos.
Yeah, I did some more ink. Sorry mum. This time I added to the yellow roses I got stitched on my inner bicep in 2014. I plan on doing an entire post on my tatt once it's completed sometime early next year. In short, I'm going for a half-sleeve of vividly colored Texas and Kentucky wildflowers that are growing together in . The Bluebonnets (TX state flower), Indian blankets, Indian Paint Brushes, Blue Bells, and Black-Eyed Susans grow in wild fashion next to Goldenrods (KY state flower), asters (September flower, which is my birth month but also grow plentiful in KY), blue grass, and grains for whiskey (corn, rye, barely, and wheat). I'm scheduled next week to add more Texasy stuff like cactus and sage flowers. Then, at some point a few months later, color. My arm is going to look amazing! I can't wait. Well, I can actually because it hurts like hell...icopters crashing on your arm with their sharp tattooy blades. But, I'll post a more full "What Does Your Tattoo Mean?" That explains and showcases everything. But, yes, 2015 involved permanent markers. The kind that make you cry. And bleed. But the kind that leave a story to tell about who you are as a person. I'm from Texas and that means a lot, but much of who I am has been also shaped by the good ol' Bluegrass State. I'm thankful to have called these two great states home, so I bought them both a permanent bouquet of flowers. To be continued...

3) Lost love.
Yes, I took another swing at love and struck out. Not sure why I can't get my shit together, but being yet again the common denominator in my relationship failures makes for quite an exhausted heart. We were both good people with good hearts, but after almost a year and a half of off-and-on, it just didn't work out. I learned a great deal about my tendencies in relationships regarding jealousy, passive-aggressive control, how social media can easily become a huge source of ridiculous, even deal-breaking conflict (mostly by inflaming jealousy and how it redefines flirtation), and why comparing your relationship to other relationships is utterly toxic. It's hard to not drift into cynicism, especially in this Tinder woven hook-up shithole we now call modern-dating. It's easy to think all "love" is relative to your situation and that relationships are ultimately a waste of time. The struggle is real when it comes to believing the only reason you're currently with someone in a relationship is 1) because your partner couldn't land who they really wanted to be with before you, whether an ex, a fling that fizzled out, or a previous crush--which is also made evident by their seemingly unquenchable desire to flirt or spend intimate time with them; 2) they are using you to get over someone else and/or still longing for the one that got away; 3) your partner hasn't yet realized via discontentment they can do better (whether true or not); and 4) it's just a matter of time before love becomes conditional, usually due to conflict or mundaneness, and the dark, selfish clouds of, "I don't deserve this," begin to conceal an otherwise beautiful blue sky of, "I don't deserve the gift of you," unconditional love. Happily ever after cannot be your goal. Sacrificial, unconditional love for another person despite their flaws is what makes a relationship truly fulfilling--but it's hard af to do that! Yet, you grow closest to those you work through conflict with, right? It's true, actually. 

Side note: compatibility also is an important thing, but it can be overplayed as an excuse to get in or out of a relationship. Rarely do folks think of compatibility as something that you selflessly build within a relationship as you set your own preferences aside; rather, the more common (and ultimately flawed) approach is simply expecting your person to naturally love all the things you do and toying with the idea of finding someone more compatible if discovered otherwise. 

Another side note: For three relationships in a row, I've watched "friendships" that my girlfriends had blossom into post-break up relationships. Can anyone explain this without using the term "jealousy?" In case any of you readers know my exes, I'm not seeking to throw them under any kind of bus. I will not use their names. They are all great women who are incredibly gifted, thoughtful, fun, and I learned some wonderful things from being with them. I will not shy away from the fact that I hurt these women by being a jerk, which more times than not, led them to hurt me in response. Women will hurt you, no doubt. But, it's usually because as a man you've failed to care, lead, or pursue in the right ways. So, with that said, know that I've been known to be a jealous boyfriend, whatever that means. Essentially, in all three of my last relationships there have been guy friendships that my girlfriends at the time had or initiated that seemed, well, a little too friendly. One girl had a ex boyfriend that she was super close to. Bad news, all day. She would literally light up when he came in the room. In a room of crowded people I would always find them together talking, laughing, and appearing a little too connected still. When I voiced a, "So, your friendship with your ex makes me uncomfortable," it was met with, "Why don't you trust me?" I would end up apologizing and labeling myself as jealous. I believed her when she said he was just a friend and that they were done. They weren't done. Two weeks after we broke up they started dating again and eventually...married each other. Yet, I was "jealous" of their friendship and what seemed like a cultivation of more than just a friendship. It's easy to spot two people who have feelings for or interest in one another, but if you don't play your cards right you'll get labeled as controlling. Your best bet is to sit back and "trust" that their flirtation doesn't accomplish what flirtation is designed to accomplish. Another example included someone who I allowed to lead me on. We had actually broken up, but she continued post-break up to communicate feelings and express her desire to be with me. I assumed the best and my feelings convinced me to be patient and wait on her to figure out how to finally be in a place to move forward. We spent a meaningful, affectionate evening together on a snowy December night and it appeared resolution was right around the corner. Everything was perfect, except a new guy she met that mysteriously had her number and was texting on the reg. I played my cards safe only to have communication shut down all of a sudden. Within two weeks guess who's in a relationship. In about 3 months, guess who's engaged. (Update as of July 2016: they're married now). Before they were official, I saw them out in public together and it was pretty obvious that he was more than just a friend. Once again, I become "jealous" and voice concern only to be met with, "He's just a guy I met." Gotcha. Finally, one girl befriended a guy in class. In this instance he had a girlfriend, so surely it's safe, right? To my amazement I got the, "He's just my classmate. He's like a brother, " as if I'll just believe anything. Like a brother, huh? You've got to be kidding. Oh I'm sure he'd LYLAS if y'all were ever alone together. She lit up every time she saw him, and I could hear interest in her voice when she would talk about him in class. But he had a girlfriend, yet again, I'm just jealous. Welp, we broke up for two weeks, and guess what, her "brotherly" classmate ends up breaking things off with his girlfriend only to go home with my ex. Then, once their fling runs its course, he gets back with his girlfriend. Comedy. Guess what I was labeled: jealous. So, all this to say, I think the term "perceptive" is more appropriate than "jealous." No one likes to be naive. No one likes to be played. But it becomes quite obvious that you weren't really jealous during your relationship when all it takes is a break up and two weeks before that flirty friendship is revealed as having substance. It's the worst feeling ever. 

I know that was super Debbie Downer of me, but coming from someone who has been on the receiving end of divorce, I fight hard against believing that this side of Heaven relationships begin simply to end. It seems like so many (including me at times) are infected with the tragic notion that the end goal is the actual wedding day, not the marriage life. Engagement pics and the accomplanying "likes" along with finding a clever wedding hashtag will not sustain two people who, say, going into their second or third year of marriage realize they both married a selfish child--but none of that matters as long as the relationship is photogenic and likeable enough on social media to look like everything is great. With us (myself included) being so fickle in this life, relationships are filled with games, unrealistic/idealistic expectations, and the shallow end-of-the-rainbow search for a soul-mate riding on a unicorn...that also has sick tatts. But, real talk. Love is hard. It's imperfect. Which means for love to work it takes two humble people moving past the shallow & believing whole heartedly that they themselves are the self-centered one. The biggest challenge in any relationship is a daily willingness to recognize, acknowledge, own, and ask for forgiveness for being a jerk even in the smallest ways. A quick, genuine, no-strings attached, "I'm really sorry for treating you that way. I fully own it and I hate hurting you. I'm so sorry," is everything. Instead, a lot of times when people get hurt the walls go up and the games begin; and don't even think for a second it's natural (or pleasant) for anyone during a conflict to consider maybe how they have contributed, even in the slightest way. It always takes two to tango, and for any conflict resolution to occur it requires each tangoer having the maturity to own where their steps were off, even in an instance where one has "worse" steps than the other. If that doesn't happen, distance sets in, even if it's for a day. Then comparisons of, "Well, so-in-so couple doesn't fight this way or have this problem. I wish I had what they have."  Blah, blah, blah... I've ranted long enough abou this. You can probably tell 2015 was a year that love affected me, both for good and ill. My belief in lasting relationships is still in tact, but my walls are higher and thicker than ever at this point, which is largely my own fault. Still, I have very little time for the flightly games and anything that doesn't involve good communication from the get go. I now have the harsh tendency to immediately write off anyone who I think is playing games, even in the slightest. Zero tolerance. Let's not waste each other's time. If I perceive I'm being flaked on, I'm completely done with you. No second chances. Sorry, but not really. Whoa, I should stop. I basically became Adele for a second, and for that you're welcome.

4) New York. 
I made NY happen to celebrate my birthday. It was on my bucket list last year, but 2015 was the year. My roommate and I left at 3am Friday morning and arrived in the concrete jungle (yes, blaring Alicia Keys and Jay-Z on repeat) at 3pm. The drive sucked, but once we got there we managed to fit a week's worth of eating, drinking, and Citi-biking into four days. Since it was my first time, we did the typical touristy stuff: topped the Empire State Building, "donated" way too much to explore the MoMa, hit Times Square, almost saw Beyoncé at Central Park, did Rockefeller Plaza, took an intense stroll through the 9/11 Memorial, and straight crushed an entire dozen Magnolia cupcakes like it was a Lazy Sunday. Beyond that we hit up some of the world's most amazing bars. Death and Co. was by far my favorite, followed closely by Employees Only. In total, our first night we hit six bars and about half way they, you know, hit us like a stack of New York Times chucked by a smudgy faced paperboy. But we were on a roll, or not, actually. I still have lots of stories to tell from that extravagant weekend. We decided to go on the weekend the Pope and President Obama were in town, so the city was additionally un-sleepy. We saw David Duchovny (X-Files; Californication) walk right in front of us. I was intimidated and inspired by The Big Apple. It sure is just that: big. Yet, it's a really sophisticated place. Like my boi Jay-Z says, "If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere." I can see that. There's literally something big happening at all hours of the day and night in NY, from celebrity appearances to block-wide street festivals to Beyoncé being drunk in love. I think I'd have a hard time living there unless I had a really, really solid reason for doing so, but I will certainly return with a whole new exploration list as the butcher slicing my pastrami at Katz deli predicted, "First time in the City? You'll be back. They always come back." A special shout-out goes to Citi-bike. Baby girl, you muh ride or in I pedaled your chains all weekend almost to the point of death. 

5) Faith.
Religion as of late. 2015 marked the year when I officially started sucking at going to church. I've lived in Louisville for a little over 9 years and have been actively involved in my home church, Sojourn Community, for 8 of those years. From hosting small groups to service projects, I was up to something weekly--until April-ish when I started working at 8UP. I'm not one to take missing church lightly. True confession, I've been known for harboring a tinge of brotherly judgment towards other Christians who make weak excuses for not attending church regularly. I never bought the "too busy" approach because people will always make time for what's most important to them, whether sleep, partying, love, or corporate worship. Then I took a new job that pretty much ruled me out for regular attendance at Sojourn. To be honest, it's a mixture of being exhausted on Sunday morning to working every Sunday night to taking sleep seriously (I've learned I definitely need 8-9 hours, at least, to prevent migraines.). I now resonate a little better with those who are like, "Yeah, my job really keeps me out of regular attendance." I get it now. However, I'm mindful of every Sunday I miss. Every Sunday. It's not out of guilt either. I'm not sleeping through my alarm on Sunday mornings thinking, "God is really about to punish me for missing church." No, the fact that missing corporate worship weighs heavy on my heart is because I legitimately love Christ and I miss the fellowship of His people. Plain and simple. As contradictory as my currently lifestyle might seem, I hate missing church because I hate the idea of drifting away from intimacy with the Lord, which I unquestionably have. To be fair, again, people will do what is most important to them. If I really wanted to attend church regularly I would. I'm not one to shy away from the reality that I also might be in a "season" (I've grown to hate that word) where I'm wondering what is next for me overall in life. I know church is not about attendance. I realize one doesn't get bored with church, but bored with God. Though I woudn't say I've reached that silly stage of "I love Jesus but hate the church," but there does come a point where one does wonder about the fruitfulness of one's participation within the Body. I realize that statement, too, can be a smoke-screen to cover up a "life of sin" I want to live, but I don't think it's that simple. I've served in every possible way in my church without being raised up as a pastor--service projects, served communion, travelled on international trips, led morning hospitality, led small groups, hosted small groups, attended counseling, led community outreach, and have simply made myself available for anything really. I do not think of my past service as a check-list for merit, but as a offering to the body for growth and edification. At this point, I'm simply wondering what's next. I know the Lord is faithful, even when I'm faithless. I can only rest in His grace and trust that He'll provide what's next when it's time. Those of you reading this can shoot up a prayer for ya boi in the meantime. Soli Deo Gloria.

6) In Conclusion:
The rapture didn't happen. The dress was unquestionably blue. Kendrick is still my go-to. Kim Davis poorly represented those who have a different Christian approach to the issue of same sex marriage. Amy Poehler's Yes Please was my fav read this year. I still have yet to bump into Jennifer Lawrence in Louisville. And my beautiful mother is still alive. I love that woman and hope she has many more 20teens to come.

That's it. Fingers tired. Let's get that bubbly ready for 2016.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

New Toys That Pair with Coffee.

I chalk* my lack of blogging up to the weak excuse of not having a reliable, trusty, or at least non-virus laden laptop on which to opine useless things. Well, with the help of really cool toys like iPads and Magic Keyboards, voilà! I bought both simply because it was time to do so...and because as an only child I'm irreparably selfish, so, borrowing is out of the question. 

I'm breaking the blogging fast with this milestone announcement of my acquisition of these new toys, but also bc I miss writing. I have found my mind to be a step slower when I'm not actively reading or writing; digging and displaying; showing and telling, if you will. 

At any rate, here's a new post on an old blog and it's really good to say that.

Talk soon.

*What does "chalk" things "up to" even mean? Am I even saying that right? What if it's like I've sung the lyrics to a song wrong the whole time, like people do. For those of you old enough to remember the M.C. Hammer club banger "Too Legit To Quit," I had a friend who once understood the chorus as "Do The Jet To Quit." The jet. How does one even do a jet-like dance? In a club? In a way that successfully attracts the opposite sex? Does it involve some take-off move, then a predictable extension of the arms for wings, then a screeching halt landing on an air-craft carrier (or friend who also misunderstands the lyric) maybe? For our entertainment purposes, we left her unaware of her error, which likely has likely kept her single and seen in clubs or at weddings doing "the jet." I "chalk" this up to our youthful cruelty, if I'm even saying it right. If I'm not, you'd tell me, right? I'm too lazy to look it up. Cheers! :)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

That Time I Suffocated, Then Resuscitated My Parent's Cat

Not me in 5th grade. Not General E.

Listen to me very carefully. You need this story.

In the past, most people don't believe that this happened. So, just so you know I'm writing this with my Bible app open to signify the integrity and accuracy of these events. They are as I can best recall them. 

The names are real. The events are real. And there were no animals, well, permanently damaged in the wake of this incident. They all eventually died natural deaths.

So, here we go.

First, you must know two things about my childhood: One, I was (and basically still am) an only child. I had no siblings. No one to play with. No one to get into trouble with. No one to wrestle with or be rambunctious alongside. It was just me and the heaping mounds of naked Ninja Turtle toys that I made into pellet gun targets. The second formative energy pressing on my youthful flourishing was growing up in the country. This means two things. First, I had no close neighborhood youths around to have as an outlet for exertions of young boyhood adventures, reinforcing my only-childness. Second, and most relevant to our purposes today, living in the country meant we had animals. Lots of them. We had goats, chickens, cows, dogs, cats, rabbits, and the stereotypical raccoon we failed at taming--all of which at some point fell victim to being some sort of sibling substitute that I would try to bully. Yep. I was mean to those poor creatures to the extent that they fled upon the mere scent of me. God definitely hated me. True story.

Now, when it came to being mean to animals, cats were the preferred victim of choice. I mean, as a young boy who has a 16th indian surging through his veins, cats are fun to...hunt. They present a challenge. They're thinkers. They're sneaky. They eat their food in stealth. They have secrets. They like to hide, and thus one  must stalk them. You must instinctively outwit them. They're not smarter. And since they allow for such a trilling chase, once you get your hands on one, you mustn't waste such a prized moment by simply petting the thing. You must make that moment a good one.

That I did.

When I was around the 5th grade, my parents were particularly attached to their gray bob-tail tomcat named General E. He was sleek, shiny, muscly with blue eyes, and a prize catch, especially since he would only come to them. I took particular offense to this in addition to already being possessive of the title "General E." Given that my name is spelled Eron, I was the only General E of the household, damn it. Not him. Congratulations mom and dad. You've created the perfect recipe for sibling rivalry, with a cat.

I had my eye on General E for some time. My parents would get really angry when I would chase him and order me to, "Leave him alone!" I would retreat, though thinking to myself, "My time will come, precious mother. My time will come."

And that it did.

One day my mom was gone to town and my dad had left the house to go feed the farm animals. It was just me in the house, and I knew the General was around somewhere. I knew I had about 20 minutes to hunt, so I looked in the most obvious place I knew: my parents bedroom. There he was. All posted up, blue eyes closed on my parents bed. Sleeping, or was he? I slowly tip-toed up to the edge of the bed, quietly extended my reach, heartbeat drumming, and, "Gotcha!!" I knew I needed to keep my eye on my dad's return, so I went into the living room and sat on the couch with my prize.

I started out being nice. I wanted this to go well. I began by petting the General, and after a few minutes of him refusing to purr as with my parents, there was only one thing that made sense: a wrestling match. On to the couch we went. Me on top of him. Him on top of me. He was choking me. Then a headlock, which I skillfully maneuvered out of. It was a scrum indeed! I managed to secure a pin of my foe with my head pressed into his chest and his cat arms lifted above his head. This was it. It was about to be over. Then some foul-ass play happened. He managed to loosen one arm from my expert pin, and clawed the living caca out of my face. He also celebrated this little score by a hearty hiss which suggested, "What, you meowed, bruh?"

Oh, hell naw.

I snapped, and immediately said, "Oh, we can do that then," then lifted the couch cushion and introduced the ol' Gen-Gen to his new hiding spot. I sat with all of my weight on the cushion and waited until he learned that clawing faces is mistreatment of humans. It took about 30 seconds before he "learned" and I stopped feeling him fight beneath me. It was over.

Now, before you hate me, listen! You need this.

I immediately freaked! I remember thinking something like, "Oh. My. God. What have I done? My parents are going to KILL me! What have I become?! This is how serial killers are supposed to start, right?"

I panicked, and did the only thing that made sense in the moment. I reached under the cushion and grabbed the lifeless General. His blue eyes were sealed shut and he was limp in my grasp. I had once seen my mom give mouth-to-mouth to a kid goat that had suffocated during the birth process. Gross. But, it was all I had.

I laid General E on his back. I took my index finger and covered his pink little nose. I took my other index finger and slightly propped open his mouth. And right there on the couch, I gave that ruthless, face-clawing feline mouth-to-mouth. And it was working! After a few "cycles" (I mean, what do you call the sets of feline CPR?) I noticed his mouth move. He swallowed. I kept going. He started breathing!!!! What kind of world is this?! I'm a HERO! Wait, no, I am a textbook psychopath! Eventually his blue eyes squinted open. I turned him over and put him on the floor. A bit woozy he was. I waited on his cat consciousness to return and helped him walk, slowly at first. I began petting him softly saying, "Hey, bud. You're okay. Hey, shhhhh, It's okay."

Then, once he was back to being a cat again and before I released him back to his newly gifted life, I tenderly whispered, "Now who's the real General E, huh?" I think he knew at that point. Off he fled. Then my dad walked in and found me as if nothing ever happened. Incredible.

Yep. That definitely happened. General e (lowercase on purpose) and I were good after that, and I then began my slow ascent to being nicer to animals.

Happy Flashback Friday.

Friday, April 25, 2014

What Does Your Tatt Mean?

So, I got a tattoo. Like, a real one. You know, the permanent kind that people sometimes get. The kind that make moms angry. The kind that friggin hurt. However, this wasn't technically my first one. Back in college I impulsively went under the pen and received a tribal-sun thing on my ankle that's about as significant as an overgrown mole that permanently reminds me that I shouldn't be trusted with my own thoughts. (watch this vid) The truth is, I currently have about 5 different meanings for the arrows on my guns that range from sarcastic to truthful and deeply spiritual, and I'll rattle off a few of them depending on the situation. If we're standing in line for the bathroom, for example, you're probably going to get the least serious answer. If we're on a plane, well, you might as well put your tray back in its upright position and get ready for a heart-to-heart over a complimentary V8. It all really depends.

So, for those of you who may be wondering, here are the five current meanings I have given to my new tattoo:

(beginning with the least serious)

5) Legolas and Katniss Everdeen. These two are in a tie for my all-time favorite archer. Legolas is just...a badass. He's a frickin' elf from Rivendale who lives in trees, can live forever, is magical, and can walk atop snow leaving no footprint. I mean, do you remember the scene from The Two Towers when he skateboards on an orc's shield down the steps at Helms Deep just spittin' arrows & and droppin' Uruk Hai like whoa? Of course you do. Also, remember that insane moment when Legolas mounts his galloping horse with a single hand. How could you forget? But, Katniss is in a tie with Legolas for the simple reason that her character in Hunger Games is played by Jennifer Lawrence, who aside from her radiance is also from Louisville, KY. That instantly makes her Legolas' female equivalent. Literally neck-and-neck. Overall, archery and bow-hunting are sick, and these two movie legends do it well. So, that's one reason I have arrows soaring up my arm.

4) Leonidas' death at the end of 300. So, if you've not seen 300, there's a spoiler alert that I'm not going to warn you about because your failure to see this movie is about as epic as, well, Leonidas' death. Yep, he DIES in the end. But, the manner of his death is like, pretty much the ultimate way to go if you are as much of a boss as Leonidas: a dark, cumulonimbus cloud of racing arrows. The only hope of killing someone as untouchable as Leonidas is to shoot an innumerable amount of arrows at him from all directions and all at once. It's an awesome, epic, and appropriate death. Down goes Leonidas, and down goes five arrows on my right bicep as a lifetime reminder to likewise be a badass alpha-male to the very end.

3) I'm a 16th-part Indian...which basically means nothing. But, really. Of what tribe? I don't know. The kind that hunted with arrows. I said I was a 16th, not a friggin' chief. I don't even get a tuition break. It just means my biological mom is an 8th, my grandmother is half, and my great-grandparents ate buffalo and danced with wolves. That's it. But, there are indeed a few red-blood cells in my veins that wear headdresses, enjoy casinos, and look with suspicion at the "white devil" blood-cells, and that clearly means I need arrows tattooed on my arm.

2) Arrows must be pulled backwards before they go forwards. This is a bit more of a cliche, inspirational take, but it certainly applies. Like most, I've experienced some deep frustration with relationships, jobs, school, passions, and realizing my overall identity as life consistently proves itself to be quite unpredictable. Yet, success is often possible only through much failure. As long as I stay humble, teachable, and remain grateful for the good that is undeniably present even in the darkest of seasons, before you know it persistence and patience will start to pay off as opportunity blossoms. I've learned to not take myself all that seriously, ditch my ego, lose a sense of entitlement, to laugh when I'm an idiot, and to accept my limitations as an occasion to accumulate mentors. Cliche, I know. But, it's true. You will suffer more in this life if you expect to suffer less. Proper expectations are key, and failure only makes our success all that more significant. Am I right? Heard that, but moving on...

1) Job 6:4. So, this is the most meaningful significance of my tattoo. Job 6:4 reads, "For the arrows of the Almighty are in me; my spirit drinks their poison; the terrors of God are arrayed against me." Though many are vaguely familiar with Job as an Old Testament figure who lost everything and then argued with God about it, Job's overall story is one that imparts much wisdom, gratitude, and stability during difficult seasons that make absolutely no sense. Though my probs are characteristically 1st-World, and there are certainly countless people who have experienced much greater loss and confusion than I, the past few years of my life have presented the hardest trials I have ever encountered. On a very, very small but similar level as Job, I was basically forced to start from scratch on some key identity markers such as marriage, career, and school. On top of that, I've recently continued to hurt people, lose relationships, ruin friendships, earn a bad name, and encounter things that seem to drive the arrows even deeper. Stripped and confused, I sojourned along wondering what in the hell the Lord was--and is--up to. There were (and still are) moments where I felt like the Lord had shot a cumulonimbus cloud of arrows in my direction. Wounded from my sin and the sins of others, His arrows lodged deep, and as sleepless nights were accompanied with tears of anger, I began to understand a little how Job could exclaim, "The terrors of God are arrayed against me." Yet, as we know from the rest of the book, Job is a steadfast worshiper of the Lord. He doesn't waver. When all his possessions, even his health, were taken, his arm was still faithfully raised in worship as he cried out, "The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord" (Job 1:21), and, "Though He slay me, I will hope in Him..." (13:15) This doesn't mean Job didn't have an issue with God. He most certainly did! He cursed his own birth and demanded an answer to the question, "Why, God?!?!" Yet, at the end of the day, New Testament writers looked back on the story of Job and praised his faithfulness during trial saying, "You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord's dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful" (James 4:11). Although Job's pain was truly unfathomable as is demonstrated in his lamentations that adorn this tome, the Lord skillfully showed Job incredible kindness and patience as He, of all things, took Job to the zoo and explained that the same wisdom displayed in the design of some of the Earth's most amazing and majestic animals is the same brilliance that guides and sustains his life. Job covered his mouth, humbled himself under the mighty hand of God, and was exalted in due time...just as Scripture encourages believers to do today (1 Pet 5:6). Come full-circle, "
And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before" (Job 42:10). My arrows remind me that the Lord doesn't need to consult me before writing my story, because if He did my life would certainly be without much of the drama that has so skillfully fashioned my character and driven me to know Him better. He gets me, and He knows the trials future me needs to go through today so future me can have godly character that is "complete, lacking nothing" (James 1:4). God is always up to something genius, even when everything inside and outside me scream otherwise.

Truth dat.

Though the arrows of the Almighty had indeed pierced Job, his hand was still raised in worship and the Lord, in His perfect timing, proved faithful. The arrows on my bicep are positioned to aim directly at my heart, but they only do so when my arm is raised in worship. My life is still a big mess, but in the meantime I'll hit up the zoo and be reminded that in Christ, the Lord is good and is using my pain to build in me wisdom and true, lasting godly character. So, Lord, though I know I'll probably regret saying this later, take aim and fire away.

That's what my tatt means...and I love Jennifer Lawrence. 


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

10 Reasons Why You're 10 Steps Away From 10 Ways to Know the 10 Things 10-Point Article Writers Won't Tell You About the 10 Signs That You Are Reading Way Too Many 10-Point Articles

You've seen them in your multiple feeds. You thoroughly skim them. You share them eagerly. You have many of them bookmarked, and maybe even one open in a tab at this exact moment. They're everywhere! You know what I'm speaking of. You guessed it, my friends, I'm speaking of the infamous 10-Point Article (10PA)

"10 Reasons Why" this. "10 Things" that. "10 Secrets of" etcetera. They cover all the bases. From finding love to being a better boss; from warning signs that your spouse is cheating, to things doctors won't tell you about saying "Aaaaaghhh." All of life's questions about any subject can be answered in exactly 10 points.

It's perfect...a perfect 10, that is. Nvm.

Why the obsession though? I read these pretty impulsively, like you. I see links to them on Twitter, Facebook, and in text messages from my friends. Life coaching is only a touch of an iPhone screen away, and touch away I do. But, am I consuming these little self-help nuggets in excess? Am I spending too much time reading, saving, and sharing "10 Steps To Overcome Being an Introverted Extrovert?" I just wish there was a way to... Waaaaaaaait a minute...

Let me take it upon myself to serve our planet with my very own first 10PA. Without further ado, here are:

10 Signs That You are Reading Way Too Many 10-Point Articles

  1. You have 6-8 tabs open and all of them are 10PAs.
Wait. There's a deeper question. It shouldn't be overlooked that the authors of these articles don't know me, nor I them. How can I be certain that the author of "10 Ways to Find True, Lasting Heartbreak" truly want what is good for me and my peeps? Are their expertise legit? I'm sometimes suspicious that they're just amateur writers posing as professors and CEOs and love doctors. You know, I get the hunch that I'm not being told something when I'm scrolling from point to point. You know, I bet there are ways to know... waaaaaaaait a minute...

Without further ado, here are:

10 Things 10-Point Article Writers Won't Tell You About the 10 Signs That You Are Reading Way Too Many 10-Point Articles

People keep secrets these days. Even when trying to help someone discern if they are reading way too many 10PAs, there are always things that are not said. You may take every point of "10 Secrets to Being a Better Secret Keeper" to heart and feel grateful for such surfacey platitudes, but there's always an agenda. You've taken the bait. 10PA writers are always eying the next move, and every point you internalize is moving them closer to their desired outcome. Sad, I know. Here's what they won't tell you: 
  1. These authors want you to read their stuff, so they won't include they dropped out of journalism and need followers to regain lost dreams...
Hold up. I believe we are getting ahead of ourselves here. We're still a ways away from being ready to pull back the curtain on these jokers who are likely using the cash from "10 Things Your Pet Won't Tell You About Not Being Able to Talk" to buy bath salts. Because the truth sometimes hurts, you need to be mentally and emotionally prepared to have that kind of bomb dropped. Consider this next section the manufacturer who installs the air-bags into your car to better your chances of surviving a head-on with reality. You're 10 steps away from being ready...

10 Reasons Why You're 10 Steps Away from 10 Ways to Know the 10 Things 10-Point Article Writers Won't Tell You About the 10 Signs That You Are Reading Way Too Many 10-Point Articles

We're 10 steps away from knowing the truth about what people won't tell us about the signs that you are reading way too many 10PAs. We're 10 steps away because the truth hurts, and we need adequate preparation. But, hey, the truth is, we read too many 10PAs as it is, so you can go ahead and close this tab...but wait. What I won't tell you is that my agenda for writing this is to get us all to laugh at ourselves next time we find ourselves (or our friends) sharing yet another 10PA. At the end of the day, one of the best "self-help" strategies is to take a good ol' look at life and just laugh at our silly mistakes trust that our circumstances that are working to better us as peeps. Read on about 10 Ways to Find the Perfect Man/Woman, or 10 Reasons to Let Go of the Past, or 10 Reasons Why Dating a Bartender is Awesome. Just know that if you can't laugh at yourself you're DEFINITELY gonna be a prime suspect for one who reads way to many 10PAs.

Anticlimactic, probably. Whatev. Hope you enjoyed.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

That Time Santa Brought Me a Dog Bite for Xmas

Thanks, Yeller.
When you're in 5th grade you tend to trust adults. They know best. They've lived life. They get it. So, when they confidently assure you a dog, as foamy of a bark as is he/she may have, won't bite, you get on board hoping they're right.

I'm now an adult, and trust me, sometimes adults are idiots.

It was Christmas. December 23rd to be exact. I was in the 5th grade. I was making straight-A's to be exact. In accordance with family tradition, my folks and I were visiting our friends who lived across town for some good ol' Christmas fun. This particular year, however, our friends had moved to the country to live closer to their aging grandparents. Living in the country means a family comes fully equipped with a protective dog that can stir up a good bit of commotion in the event of a burglar, pesky coon, rattler, or anything that seems out of place. This family was about as country as it got, so they had a dog. An old Golden Retriever creatively named, you guessed it, Yeller. I'm sure at one point, this old, patchy-haired beast was pretty fun for the kids in its earlier days. I'm sure he used to be great at fetch. I'm sure he did some hilarious twists in the summer grass after playing in the sprinkler. The only thing now was that Yeller had gone slightly batshit crazy. He was in the barking-at-your-own-shadow stage, had that infamous crazy blue eye, was partially deaf, and probably had various species of worms--but more on that shortly.

Well, up walks my family to this new country address with presents, sugar cookies, and sausage balls in hand and wearing the most atrocious Christmas attire you could imagine. The house was sort of a cottage with a wrap around yard encompassed by a chain-link fence. I led the way to the gate with arms full of presents when from around the house runs an incoherent Yeller barking, foaming, and doing this push the fence/back away/push the fence move. Now, dogs were usually scared of me. I was a mean 5th grader. This time, however, I was a little hesitant to enter. Yeller, to his credit, had a pretty loud, echoing bark I felt in my chest. Yet, out comes our friends saying in a thick Texas drawl, "Aw, Yeller, get on. C'mown, y'all. He aint gon' bytcha." Still a little hesitant, I enter with a cute Texan, "Mmowkay." Sure enough, a growling and frustrated Yeller retreated 'round back, and the festivities commenced.

Eron's Christmas - 1; Yeller - 0.

Later that night, bellies full of sausage balls, sugar cookies, and punch, my friend and I decide to go outside. This was Christmas in Texas, mind you. So we ventured into the yard in shorts and with a football. Hyper on sugary punch, we were pretty wound up, and were throwing the football really hard at each others' faces. In an effort to kill my friend, I threw a rocket spiral. Unfortunately, it actually missed his face and soared overhead and landed, you guessed it, 'round back.

You ever seen Sandlot?

I had awaken the dragon. I heard the growling and barking begin from behind the house. In the shadows I saw Yeller's silhouette run and inspect the intruding object. And, apparently after picking up my scent and "smelling" my fear (as trustworthy adults say dogs can do), he darted from the shadows. It was Yeller's hour.

It all happened in slow motion. I saw Yeller dash across the yard, leap a good inch into the air, and as I protected my face, latch onto my right wrist. I lowered my arm (with Yeller still attatched) and side-kicked him off, yanking my arm from his clutches. I saw Yeller back off and trot off to the side. I hadn't yet seen my arm.

Now, I had been bitten pretty hard by dogs before. Again, I was mean to animals as a young boy. I figured this was just another bite that hurt, but wasn't a big deal. Then I looked down. That bastard Yeller, with his top-right canine, opened the top of my wrist, and with his bottom-right canine, made a deep hole in the side of my wrist.

Eron's Christmas - 1; Yeller - 10,000+.

I ran inside screaming, holding my wrist to a crowd of confused (and now untrustworthy) adults. Blood was running down my arm and hand, and my faithful buddy next to me was faithfully...begging to see it. I was rushed to the hospital where it was discovered that ol' Yeller had gift-wrapped me a chipped wrist bone that required surgery.

I spent Christmas in the hospital that year. Yeller spent Christmas in heaven that year.

So, the takeaway?

You better not pout, you better not cry,
You better watch out, I'm telling you why.
Santa Clause will give you a dog bite.

Happy Throwback Thursday.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

10 Status Updates/Tweets That I Never Posted But Maybe Wanted To

So, I've never really been one to wear my heart/faith/political views/frustrations/relationships/etc. on my [Facebook/Twitter] sleeve. Although I may have deep convictions and values and pains about a ton of issues, for some reason I have never been moved to share them publicly in a status. To each his own, but status updates for me are at best trivial and many times my own narcissistic attempt to get a self-esteem boost by how many "likes" I get. Again, that's just me. So, I rarely status anything serious. Instead, I write blogs when I really want to get my heart across...and then let you discover them here. :) 

With that said, I've had some sincere statuses on my heart that I really want to get out there in a succinct way, but don't want to post on Facebook or Twitter. So, I've blogged some statuses. I've done this once before, but it's been a while. Now, without further ado, here are 10 status updates/tweets that I never posted but maybe wanted to.

(These are not in order of importance)

1) "I truly love Jesus Christ more than anything in the world, but my actions and thoughts quite often reveal that I think He's pathetic."

2) "I want to be that sweet and strong godly man who is the answered prayer(s) of the young woman who has consistently dated assholes, but I seem to always end up the asshole that makes the girl pray for a sweet and strong godly man."

3) "Man of Steel kind of turned into Star Trek about half way through."

4) "Bruno gets it: 'All you young, wild girls, you make a mess of me/will be the death of me/I'll always come back to you.'"

5) "I wish I never made anyone cry ever again."

6) "I suck at politics. That's right, I have 0 effs left to give. (see what I did there?)"

7) "Thank you Brian Eichelberger for writing Satisfied in You! 'Let my losses truly show that all I really have is You. Thank you."

8) "Being misunderstood is the worst thing ever, probably."

9) "I don't want to learn from my mistakes with you so I'll be "more wise" with someone else. I want to be wiser for you."

10) "I don't understand what it means to "start loving Jesus more." My understanding is that I need to understand that He loves me regardless of my lack of understanding."

Not that any of that mattered or made sense to you, but I feel better. Maybe more to come...?


Friday, April 05, 2013

Beautiful Strangers.

Real quick story.

On Thursday I was spending some time with this real sweet girl that I wanted to show a good time. On our walk to Garage Bar, I discovered she had never been to Louisville's Harvest restaurant, which was only a few doors down. Yeah, change of plans.

She didn't see it coming. I didn't see it coming. The next thing we know, we're posturing at the bar in one of my favorite foodie spots being handed seasonal menus of the freshest locally-sourced grub in the city. If you haven't been to Harvest, do so immediately.

Oh, do I see Hoptimus Prime on tap? Is that a peach Old Fashioned on the menu? Wait, did you say your Thursday burger special for the night was a chorizo omelet burger served on a pretzel bun with a side of pulled pork fries? Done and done and friggin' done. Took all of 5 minutes.

As my sweet company and I made ourselves comfy, we introduced ourselves to our surrounding neighbors. To our right sat a nice looking middle-aged couple who were eagerly awaiting their meal as they enjoyed some drinks. Now, one reason I love eating at the bar at a restaurant as opposed to floor seating is because of the freedom to meet interesting people. The mystery factor. Table seating is more formal and is certainly appropriate for certain occasions. Bar seating, on the other hand, is less constrained. You're there on your own time without a server and you can do your own thing at your own pace. You're there in close proximity to others with the same agenda for a more "fluid" evening of fun. Folks at the bar love rubbing elbows with strangers and are eager to get into great convo, solve the world's problems, and even buy a round of drinks for their new founded friend who they may never see again. Some of the greatest things happen over good drinks and a good meal and a good laugh with strangers.

So, we meet Elsa and Bill. Elsa is a pediatrician who was enjoying a dirty martini. Bill never disclosed his occupation, but the fact that he was enjoying a canned beer means he was surely into something manly, like cage fighting. We exchanged names, where we were from, where we worked, favorite foodie spots, what brought us to Louisville, how long my date and I had been dating, and your typical get to know you banter. Their food arrived first, which happened to be exactly what we ordered. They offered us their fries as we waited. I offered them a taste of my peach Old Fashioned. Conversations and questions evolved into deeper matters of life, and I began to explain that I moved here to get a Master of Divinity in Christian ministry, but now work at a bar and didn't go the ministry route. That always makes for a fun excursion. But, with the right people I'm happy to unpack my whereabouts. The interaction was very pleasant. Bill and Elsa were very sweet, even though Elsa at one point offered her wedding ring so I could propose to my date. I blame that on the alcohol.

Our food arrived and my date and I straight crushed our burger. We ate and drank and continued to get to know these folks who turned out to be quite fantastic and funny.

As the evening wrapped up, we expressed our gratitude for having met such a great couple. As they gathered their things, Bill, in a fit of grace and greatness, said,

"And put theirs on ours." 

I put my hand on Bill's arm and insisted, "No, seriously, you do not have to do that."
"No, no, it's okay." He looked back at the bartender who I was waving down, "Yes, go ahead. We got theirs."

No way. I continued to negotiate and try to at least buy them a final round of drinks. Nope. Bill and Elsa bought our drinks, appetizer, and chorizo-omelet burger, which turned out to be a decent bill. "Have a great night. Great meeting you," they said as they left with a smile.

Maggie and I looked at each other. They just bought our meal. I just shook my head and was like, "What just happened?!"

She didn't see it coming. I didn't see it coming. Not sure if we'll ever see them again, which is okay because I've been wanting to meet someone(s) I can always label as that "beautiful stranger." I think Elsa and Bill qualify.

See ya.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Pee Gee

There have been two times in my life when I've strategically relieved myself on myself. This is the account of the first time. Now, by "relieved myself" I mean I generously distributed the majority, if not the totality, of the liquid content in my bladder on to my outer garments, skin cells, and nearby objects. "Strategically" as in a dignified, fully awake, not drunk, not frightened, untickled, calculated, confident, "the-rewards-outweigh-the-consequences," effort to accomplish the goals I had in mind at the time.

I was in first grade, and our elementary school was hosting an annual Career Week. At the end of each day, someone from the town would come to our class and lie to us about how much they loved their job and try to steer us away from drugs and homelessness. If we were lucky, some of them brought gadgets like a gun or an owl or candy. Some of them were super helpful, like the summer camp director who brought a buzzard that bit him on the nose and drew blood. Others were a little more forgettable, such as the garbage man (who likely did drugs and at least looked homeless) and girls basketball coach. But, it was the last day of Career Week that we truly looked forward to. That Friday was career dress-up day! Yep. We could come to school wearing the outfit of our future career! Kids care about that stuff, and my elementary school cared about kids.

To the best of my recollection, my colleagues came to school that day wearing all kinds of things. From ballerinas to doctors to Ninja Turtles to fire-fighting princesses, our grade was decked out. Of course, yours truly had high aspirations. I knew I wanted to be where the action was. I wanted to be the man. I also wanted to avoid get bullied the rest of my life. So, I went to school dressed as a Tae Kwon Do instructor. Boom. I figured out from an early age that flying sidekicks were the quickest way to make huge bank.

Now, being a young first grader, I often needed help with things like getting dressed, and that day I wore my martial arts gee. Let's just say, a gee has to be secure. I mean, you can't exactly throw someone through a window when your clothes be fallin' off. So, in addition to your belt, you have to tie about six different knots within the shirt and pants that functionally make the entire getup one piece. Still tracking? It's basically a straight-jacket minus the folded arms. Now, being a young first grader, my mom wanted to make sure my gee didn't some how come loose as I chopped my fellow students' jugulars. Being the overprotective type, she made damn sure to tie every single knot into a double-knot. Yep. You know where this is going.

Off to school I went, dressed as an aspiring double-knot. Long story short, because of how tight my mother tied those knots, bathroom breaks were not really an option on Career Day. But, martial artists are known for white-knuckle discipline, which most certainly includes discipline of their bladders, right? Challenge accepted. All day I went without a single bathroom break as any good martial artist would. I went the whole entire day!! I mean, this was going to be my career. I had to play the part. I confidently took a few gulps of water at recess. No issues. I went ahead and ate lunch as normal. Not even phased. Afternoon nap time water and bathroom break. Pshhhh, I got this. I'm focused.

Then, later that day the unthinkable happened.

So, being a young first grader, you get into trouble. Sometimes when trouble strikes, the entire class gets punished. It's just the system. I don't recall the exact offense, but I remember that somehow the entire class ended up with the lights out, our heads down, and silent as the teacher paced the room for the last 15 min of class. Not a bad punishment, necessarily. But when you got a bladder the size of a basketball, it's torture. 

There I sat. On the front row. Trembling. My greatest challenge yet, um, in life. I explicitly remember my thought process:

"Ok, I have 20 minutes to go. But then I have at least another 20-30 min bus ride home before I can use the bathroom. I can stay focused and wait. Or, I can go, right here, right now. Hmm. Ok, I've wet the bed before and sometimes it dries before I wake up. No one really notices. It's usually just damp. If I go, I have 20 minutes for it to dry. No one will notice. I got this."


So, I gladly abandoned my career aspirations and went with option two. Sorry, guys, but Daniel Son has left the building. Listen, I emptied the entire contents of my bladder on Burnet Elemetary's world. It was tantamount to someone running over a fire hydrant. It felt absolutely amazing. I cannot even begin to describe the relief, and I likely lost a few pounds in the process.

Now, the plan was simple. Stay still. Let it dry. Change the subject if anyone asks.

About 2 minutes into this brilliant idea, I heard the teacher stop in the back of our class. Again, I was on the front row.

"Eron, is this yours?"

I lifted my head, looked down, then looked at my teacher. The chair was dripping streams, I had advanced from white belt to yellow belt in a matter of seconds, and there was a golden river ever widening down the aisle towards the back of the room.

I had to think quick. As a martial artist, I tried to distance myself from the conflict. I looked at the girl sitting behind me and asked, "What did you do?" It didn't work. I was directed to the office where I called my dad to come pick me up.

My plan had failed, and I pissed away any future in martial arts. My outfit came to be known as the infamous "pee gee." And I hate double-knots.

Thank you for your time. Have a great day.