Hey peeps! Just updated my LWYT playlist on Soundcloud with a bunch of rough mp3s available for streaming and download. Something to hold you over while I work on my new solo album! Let me know what you think or if any song in particular resonates with you!
DISCLAIMER: I share my writing on this platform since there is a high probability it will never find its way into a book. You are here because you clicked on a link. I am not forcing you to read these excerpts from my life as I remember them. I understand there are multiple versions of any shared experience, and this is just one version. I change names where possible to protect identities and request that you do not try to "reveal" them. I am not out to hurt anyone, but I do love me some sarcastic humor and creative license...hope the difference comes across. If you are offended by or don't agree with something in my writing that you chose to read, I 100% decline to care and 25% suggest you start your own blog. Sometimes I swear or talk about things that might make you uncomfortable, like religion and my vagina. If that last sentence made you slightly uncomfortable, this is probably a great stopping point for you. However, if you choose to continue reading, please do so respectfully so this site can continue to be a safe space.
The Ugly… (Continued from Part 2: The Bad - Click to read)
Mom: I am able to take my religious experiences with a grain of salt. It was what it was. I am who I am in part to its influence, good or bad. But I can not forgive religion for destroying my relationship with my mother beyond repair. You’ll hear a lot more about Mom as you turn the pages of this book (or scroll down the screen - whatever the kids are doing these days). But I feel it’s worthwhile to give you the starter package before we upgrade to the pro version:
With the best intentions, my mom set out to build a wall-o-Christianity around her children. She had been through enough shit in her life to know the world was a cruel, mean place and the only place she felt safe was inside this wall. This was a place where disappointment and unhappiness could be justified with patience and sacrifice. This was a place where questions would be quieted with scripture and fear would be rewarded with love. This place was as good as any when I was little. I was fed, clothed, and sheltered. I felt safe, I felt loved, I behaved. But there came a time when I realized I belonged to myself, not my mother. And I wanted the FUCK.OUT. I was a born creator and performer; my mind asked question after question, my eyes looked for new colors, my ears ached for more notes. There was no way I could stay in that cocoon and be happy with my life. As I got older, I had to make a decision: sneak back and forth over the God wall when and only when Mom wasn’t looking, or tell her I didn’t want to be there in the first place. I eventually chose the latter (ladder) and climbed over that wall for good. This was viewed by Mom as an ultimate act of betrayal. She took it personally. She demanded explanations and when those explanations weren’t good enough she demanded more explanations. It came to a point where we couldn’t, and didn’t, communicate at all. How can you communicate with someone who refuses to acknowledge that a different belief system is just as valid as their own? You can’t. So you don’t. And the tragedy of it all is this: if I had “turned out” the way my mom wanted - she would have been the best mother. So proud of me. So warm. So loving. We would have sent each other letters in the mail, full of scriptures and interesting tidbits from that month’s Focus on the Family newsletter. But I didn’t turn out. I entered adulthood feeling like a burnt batch of cookies. Damaged goods. As a result, “unconditional love” was too much to ask. Sure, she used the phrase a lot in emails and letters and conversations. I knew she loved me just as much as I knew I still loved her. Neither one of us could feel it though. Why? Because of that damn wall. It became the condition - the barrier that refused to let love travel through it. And that, my friends, is why I can’t get on board with any religion that looks more like a fort than a welcome mat.
Keeping it Real: Look, believe what you want. I’m not here to tell you what to do. But could you at least have some manners about it? And maybe find a way to acknowledge the someone else’s current reality even if goes against your beliefs? My fellow Christian Americans - please tell me how you can sing along to Elton John (I know you have), watch Ellen (I know you do), be nice to your gay neighbors at the grocery store (You might have actually been flirting), and then turn around and ignore or shame your gay relatives to the point of suicide. After I told my mom I was engaged, she decided to refer to my fiancee as my friend because she couldn't handle the fact (yes, fact) that I am engaged to a woman. My lady has it worse; her parents refuse to acknowledge my existence at all. If you’re trying to make a loved one feel unloved, you’re knocking it out of the park with this behavior. But if you’re trying to be a loving man or woman of God, there is some disconnect here. I can’t figure out why some Christians think acknowledging reality suddenly makes them a PFLAG ambassador. It doesn’t. And guess what? Sacrificing reality for a delusional dreamland where everyone around you suffers just so you can earn your martyr card doesn’t make you a Jesus ambassador, either. It just makes you rude. I’m talking to you, Kim Davis.
You Gotta Serve Somebody: I spend a lot of time wondering where I stand on the topic of religion and spirituality. The truth is, I don’t stand anywhere. I float. I don’t appreciate the fact that, as an extension of my estrangement with my mother, so many people who know me might describe me as godless. Once, a person on Facebook asked me what I believe in. I answered “not nothing.” I believe evolution and creation and God and universe and love are all interchangeable words. I believe love is the absence of walls. I believe prayer and positive energy are the same thing. I believe that souls move through space with the “soul” purpose of evolving. I believe we have only scratched the surface of understanding anything about everything, and that is how it is supposed to be. I am fascinated by time because I feel absolutely constricted by it but simultaneously suspect that it’s a completely imagined concept. I believe in the power of ambiguity and the necessity of opposites. I believe in order and chaos. I believe I am a piece of God, representative of God, and vehicle for God. I believe that being vulnerable to yourself, to others, and to the present moment are all equally valid ways to become closer to God. I believe that one can demonstrate godliness via gratitude and giving and self-reflection and self-care and writing and art and music and forgiveness and compassion and acceptance and letting go. I am God. And so are you. But I'll never try to force you to believe that.
Okay, so no one asked me to write a review on Kaaboo’s inaugural weekend at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, but I done did it anyway. This festival came at a weird time for me. On the eve of Day 1, I found myself in my hometown of Corcoran, CA blubbering my way through “I’ll Fly Away” in front of a packed church during my grandfather’s funeral. It was the third time in three weeks I’d made the drive home during his failing health, traveling back and forth to San Diego to catch up on work and fulfill music gigs. I hadn’t slept in what felt like months, I hadn’t spent time with my fiancee Audrie in what felt like years, and the only smiling I can recall in what felt like a lifetime was during a delirious moment in my father’s kitchen where my sister and I were having separate but simultaneous conversations with ourselves. If you ever wondered what a hot mess looks like, it’s this:
I contemplated staying in this position for the rest of the weekend despite the fact that two 3-day Kaaboo general admission passes were burning a hole in my pocket. Seriously, I think they burnt an actual hole in my pocket because there is absolutely no money there now that it’s all over. Even more than the horrifying thought of losing money I’d already spent, here’s what made me wake up at the dawn’s early light, peel my grief-stricken ass up off the ground, and drive 6 hours to opening day at Kaaboo: It was time to have a good time. And I had a great fucking time.
No Doubt: This show was a long time coming for me. A looooooong time coming. When I was a freshman in high school, No Doubt rolled through Fresno. I can still remember what the Tragic Kingdom jewel case felt like in my hands, and I can still remember what sheer anguish felt like in my heart when mom wouldn’t allow me to tag along to the show with my older sister. Finally, redemption. And it was well worth the wait!
Acts that Weren’t No Doubt: They were all good. Really stinkin’ good. Even if it was a style of music I didn’t love, I couldn’t help but admire and appreciate the level of musicianship and the caliber of performance. Bonus points for awesome comedians!
Free Water Stations: People behave so much better when they’re hydrated. Thank you on behalf of me, as well as the drunk girl I overheard in the bathroom telling her friends with perfect Kardashian vocal fry: “I’ll be fine after I drink some water, bitches.”
Restrooms: Hey Kaaboo, there must be some sort of mistake. Are you sure that fancy, air-conditioned, immaculate pack of portable restroom trailers weren’t supposed to be delivered to the VIP section? Did some truck driver lose his job over this?
Credit Cards Accepted: I loathe the phrase “cash only” because we are living in the year 2015. Thank you for letting me pay for my 12 Redbull-vodkas with plastic like a dignified human being. It’s easier to part with cash I can’t see.
Fancy Food: So many choices from wonderfully cool and classy joints. Even though we spent three straight days eating about a thousand delicious tacos from Puesto, it was so nice to know we had options.
Smart Art: A full art exhibit in a massive air-conditioned room. Gigantic completed murals and in-the-works displays that doubled as decor and entertainment. The beautiful art featured at Kaaboo was not an afterthought of this event. It shared the stage and the spotlight.
On Time Every Time: You guys ran a tight ship, and mama likes a tight ship! Every act I saw took to the stage on schedule and left the stage with time to spare. No one likes to watch an event fall behind and try to catch up to itself. You took a page right out of the ol’ Cathryn Beeks book and somehow convinced hundreds of musicians to do the same. Cheers to keeping an eye on that clock!
Stuff & Things: Having a background in event management, I typically steer clear of anything resembling a trade show booth or promo people. Cool logo’d highlighters and bite-sized Snickers bars are not worth a 30 minute demo of whatever you’re trying to sell me! I’ve been fooled before! That was my mentality for day one, but by day two, I figured fuck it, let’s milk this cow for all it’s worth. The results were surprisingly fun and unobtrusive. I sampled Vuka’s energy drink flavors while charging my phone at their cute garden-themed station. I scored some perfume, makeup, and a screen-printed tote bag from the folks at Nordstrom. Bright orange sunnies from GigTown. Chips. Hats. Sunscreen. Granola Bars. Chapstick. Some students from Paul Mitchell even DID MY HAIR and gave me fancy shampoo and a coupon for a free haircut. Looks like Supercuts won’t be seeing me again til around 2017. It all culminated in Nordstrom’s bitchin’ gif photobooth. Gifs. So hot right now.
While I scampered about, Audrie mostly did this:
Location: Get out of here, Del Mar, with your sprawling fairgrounds and your majestic coastline and your golden sunsets. Just kidding, you can stay.
Safety: Except for the guy that startled me with an unexpected bear hug attempt, I felt relatively safe all weekend. That’s saying something considering I average about one panic attack per week. I typically shy away from large crowds because I watch too much Dateline and know that danger lurks around every corner. For the most part, attendees seemed to grasp the concept of personal space, and I appreciated that because I accidentally left my Xanax in the car. I encountered only a handful people who I affectionately refer to as shit shows: A woman on crutches who appeared to be trippin’ hard on BTD (big time drugs), a drunk woman who walked all the way back to her car in cursive, and another inebriated lady who thought it’d be cool to hop up on stage with Iliza Shlesinger to give her own version of a Shark Tank presentation. Security!
The HIGHEST HIGH
Local Music: Nothing made my heart sing more than watching local musicians get the opportunity to play at this event. Was I bummed that it wasn’t The Lovebirds? Sure. I am a completely insecure egomaniac musician, after all. But was I THRILLED to jam out to The Midnight Pine, The Silent Comedy, and Tolan Shaw? Yes, yes, and yes! They all knocked it out of the park and made me proud to be part of the local music community. On that note, make sure you check out GigTown - they are working hard to connect San Diegans to their hometown musicians...you don't have to wait for big festivals to hear amazing original music right in your own back yard! Seriously, we will all play in your back yard if you invite us.
There are bound to be some kinks in the hose with any event. Shit, I can’t complete a trip to Target without wishing I’d made 10 better decisions, so I’m definitely not trying to judge. But I did notice just a few things that could potentially be revisited for next year:
Parking Signage: This wasn’t a huge deal, especially since parking is only confusing on the first day, but I did feel sorry for the staff who had to redirect car after car after car into the correct lot. I think their lives could have been made easier with a few large directional signs posted out on the street. I’ve been a human arrow many times, and I stand in solidarity:
Palate: This space featured cool cooking demos, upscale local food options, and fancy wine/spirits tastings. It would have been one of the highlights had it not been for a lack of ventilation. Also, probably not the best idea to put a loud rock band in a concrete hall. I like to crank the volume, but the combination of stale air and loud noise was too much to handle at times, and I again felt sorry for the staff who had to endure lengthy shifts here. (I just got in, got my tacos, and got out.) Maybe next year they can provide a local singer-songwriter stage here (see what I did there?) and somehow find a way to get that air moving, similar to the air conditioned art exhibit.
Money: That was one expensive weekend. Expensive ticket, expensive parking, expensive food, expensive merch, all which were no surprise to me. I realize it was marketed to a higher-earning adult demographic, so I knew my fate upon arrival. That said, I don’t necessarily fit into that category, so now it’s time to pay the piper. American Express is going to have me by the balls for the rest of the year. Whatevs, it will help my credit score, right? The only time the price tag really irked me was when I walked by this sign right after paying $14 for two lemonades and $90 for two t-shirts. That feels just a little bit like gold-hoarding to me. Tolkien wrote a lot of inspiring shit. All I’m saying is maybe pick a different quote.
Very Important Person: This is not a dig on Kaaboo as much at is a commentary about the general sense of ick I feel when observing the flaunting of wealth and class. There’s something about nightclubs, airplanes, sporting events, and music festivals that force the lower-income-bracket-dwellers to exist at an arm’s length from all the shit they want but can’t have. I know selling VIP perks to rich people helps keep the whole ship afloat, and I’m incredibly aware of my own privilege for even being able to attend this event. I get that people who can afford enhanced options just want an enhanced experience, and I can’t be mad about that. But it’s a little vomit-inducing to witness people get off on their own wealth. I overheard one d-bag bragging to an Elite security guard about how much he paid for his VIP this and VIP that. Yuck! If I had a cookie I didn’t want to share (which is always the case when I have a cookie), I wouldn’t want to gobble it down front of a hungry person. At least they close the curtains in first class. To be fair to Kaaboo, I will note here that organizers did commit to donating a portion of their proceeds to charitable community organizations. That’s pretty cool, and it more than makes up for Braggy McBraggerton.
The Lowest Low
Indecision: Why you gotta make a lesbian choose between Brandi Carlile and Grace Potter? WHYYYYYYYYY?! I haven’t felt that conflicted since the time I had to choose between two different chocolate desserts during San Diego Restaurant Week.
AN ADULT ESCAPE
All in all, I’m so glad that I sacked up and attended Kaaboo. It’s like a few healing rays of sunshine dove into a dark cloud, found me, wiped my tears, sang me some songs, gave me some tacos, drew me some pictures, and told me some jokes. I needed all of those things, and I’m so glad I got to experience them with my lady love. The event was marketed as an “adult escape,” and I can attest that’s exactly what I experienced. Kudos, Kaaboo! Hope to see you next year…backstage. Winky-smiley-face emoji.
A song I wrote for my songwriting book club, inspired by The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer. Also inspired by how much I love my little dollface Audrie. Just so happened to earn Honorable Mention in American Songwriter Magazine's Lyric Contest for this ditty.
1. my thumb is one indecisive prick
don’t show him your swatches cause he’ll never pick
he’s got all these rules and sticks out when he’s sore
but he cradles the neck of his taylor guitar
he likes the road and the road likes him too
but he’s always hitching the first ride back to you
2. index is on deck, he directs and selects
he’s got brilliant ideas for what should come next
the grandiose one in the air for the win
blessed with hearing the soul and steering the pen
like God to Adam in Michaelangelo’s hue
he’s making a point to create a life with you
always done what i could with the hand i was dealt
raised it and shook it, wrote down what I felt
never won with a straight, just a face here and there
kept hoping for two of a kind for a pair
i’m down on one knee so you know where I stand
would have folded by now if it weren’t for your hand
3. the third’s like a bird, so careless and wild
a chip on her shoulder, the mad middle child
she’s mastered the art of the cold hard goodbye
when she turns her back proud with her head held up high
but index the peacemaker always steps in
if you ever see her, my love, you’ll also see him
4. the ring finger’s all heart, she’s made it her mission
to cry at commercials and value tradition
she won’t claim religion but her finger’s right on it
her prayers take the shape of rumi’s love sonnets
she’ll stand in a crowd and happily swear
to wear any ring you place there
5. Last but not least, small but not weak
everyone stops to hear him when he speaks
his reach may surprise you, for it’s far and long
he’s got a tiny physique but he’s character-strong
not a word out of place, not a letter untrue
he’s pinky promising all his love to you
lately ive been thinking bout your skin
sweet and soft and brown just like cinnamondaily daydream for night to come and stay
i wanna feel your body take my breath away
i’m painting pictures of you in my head dame
i hang those pictures of you in my bed frame
the moon looks so good on you, i’ll never see it the same
the only thing you’d wear better is my last name
the only thing you’d wear better is my last name
i love to hear you say your m’s and o’s
i love the way i feel you in my toes
your loving’s like a well, bottomless and deep
always touching even when we sleep
i must have done something right
in my last life
to get to lay by your side
1. a little girl whose crush finally kissed her on the cheek
a gambling man in Vegas on a winning streak
even charlie in the chocolate factory
none of these people are luckier than me
2. a baby crazy pregnant lady when they tell her it's a litter
the fans of a comedian who finally joins twitter
the winner of the california lottery
none of these people are luckier than me
let the angels sing, let the chicken's cluck
i'm riding this love like a souped up truck
you're my rabbit's foot and my habit's arm
i'm thanking my stars, you're my lucky charm
3. the buzzer beater shooter from half-court range
a pardon from the warden for the guy they're gonna hang
sandra bullock in that really shitty movie gravity
none of these people are luckier than me
4. a boy thleeping thoundly with his teeth under his pillow
someone falling from a building n' rescued by a superhero
a knock at your door from ed mcmahon
none of these people are as lucky as i am
when i thought i had nothing left
when i thought i had died
you waited with bated breath
yeah you waiiiiiiited
sure is not a shrug
or an ambivalent guess
it's a capital underlined yes
in my mind's eye i see your smile
and your heart beats in the heart of my heart
your beauty is a beggar for description
no words could ever play that part
the course of true love
never did run smooth
but you brought your oars
to my waves and i'm sure of one thing
and that's you
spent the last few years trying to brace myself
now it’s hard to wake up and face myself
never thought I’d never need to retrace myself
there’s nothing I can do to erase myself
from the feeling of your light after settling for settling for dim
from the feeling of our flight after struggling to swim
from the taste of wanting you and the rush of giving in
from the forces of nature that demand I touch your skin
you can’t put out a fire when your intention is to stoke it
certain pain in every flame the moment that we spoke it
but we greet the heat each time we meet
like a favorite record on repeat
a bond so beautiful, we broke it
sent pieces flying everywhere
it takes a break to make repair
you play for keeps, I don’t know how to share
I dove deep, you pulled me up for air
and I’m breathing like I’ve just been born
lungs so full and heart so torn
the smell of the flower is worth every thorn
I celebrate you – sound the horns!
shout quietly from rooftops in my mind
I’ve found the one I’ve been trying to find!
her eyes, I swear, they stop all time
her existence proves the theory of the Divine.
there she is. there is a God. see?
there she is. my sweet, sweet Audrie.
This must be.
This must be what.
This must be what it feels like.
For a soul to move between two bodies.
For a soul to die tragically and be born beautifully at the same time.
For a soul to decide where to live.
I will not pick you like a flower.
I will plant you like a seed.
I will place in the window where the best light falls.
And wait for you.
And wait for this to grow.
i asked how much do you love me, like new lovers do
you said it's hard to quantify
i said the universe is expanding, isn't that cool?
you said my darling i know why:
did you ever wonder what the universe is expanding into?
it's trying to catch up it's trying to keep up with my love for you
it's an ongoing chase, surpassing time and space - it can never be undone
my love for you will outrun the universe
i asked how long will you wait there, cause i need time
you said i been waiting my whole life and i don't mind
i said that time's unkind it has not been on my side
you said you were and erased the finish line
This is where a bunch of my writing lives.