Monthly Archives: November 2012

Angry Hobo Rant

Being homeless isn’t so bad for me.

I’ve been able to stay with family in a basement. I’m still trying to figure out what I’m going to do long term.

I’m very tired. I made a song about it. It’s called Tired. Nice.

I feel like I’m at the end of a rope with no glove. I don’t want to believe that God would leave me here though. A question I struggle with (and have struggled with for some time now) is how much of my life is up to me and how much is up to God?

Am I thinking about wrong? There doesn’t seem to be a concrete answer. That’s hard to live through when you’re existential like me.

I’ve had a bit more time to think, lately, a bit more clearly about some things that rest deeply in my heart. The forthmost of those things is the idea that I’ve been programmed incorrectly by those people I consented to lead me in my life. Pastors. Family members. Pastors and church people, mainly.

That makes me angry. I’m still working through that. What I was taught wasn’t all bad, but a lot of ideas I was taught along the years are starting to not make sense. A big one is this: emotions don’t matter that much. I don’t know that anyone has said this explicitly, but it is very much taught. I was taught to never make emotional decisions. I then learned that some decisions ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO BE EMOTIONAL. I bet a billion dollars that you can’t find one person who advocates for anything, anyone, any idea who isn.t emotionally driven to do what they do.

Go ahead and look.

That idea alone has very much damaged me. I’m not irreparable. I’m just deeply disappointed. I’m still working through that. After all, who says threvnotions I have now hold any water?

I saw a quote a little earlier:

“Be humble. You could be wrong.”

That’s all for now.

An Old Western Bathroom Remodeling Adventure

Today was an interesting day. This should be entertaining, get you favorite snack ready! (As long as it’s not a danger to your health, in which case you should call poison control)<——–whaaaaaattttt?!?!??!?

Well, lemme go back to last night first.

I got kicked out of my house, rrreeeaaaaallllyyyy embarrassing. But ’tis what ’tis.

Ok, now that that’s out-of-the-way, on to the interesting part!

I was working on a construction job with my cousin. My cousin is quite the craftsmen. He has honed his skills in the areas of plumbing and sheet rock amongst other things. He’s really good at it, too. In just jobs I’ve done with him, we’ve replaced toilets, repaired toilets, replaced a floor, cleared out a clogged water line, re-joisted a ceiling stripped walls and today we replaced an entire sink/cabinet in a bathroom. I like working with me cousin because:

1. He’s very skilled at almost anything he takes the time to figure out construction-wise

and

2. We have unbelievable chemistry.

We’ve been doing things together since I was a kid; he’d take me under his wing with whatever pre-teen/teenage adventure he’d embark on a given day. He was one of very few shining spots in my childhood, now that I am very intently thinking about it. He was my first big brother figure.

As I’ve grown older our relationship has changed very drastically, but we always remained close. He’s a very loyal man, the type of person you could center a family around really. He’s also very rough on the edges, due to his upbringing, which, if I had the liberty to, I’d share with you. (That was a lot of commas). Inside though, he has such a big heart, almost child-like at times and it shows the most when he’s being creative. We used to combine our imaginations to think up really cool games, altered realities and jokes all the time as kids. You know what….we still kinda do that when we get together now. Today, we’re gonna get a very awesome glimpse of that. His name is Barry, and you’re about to fall in love with this guy. Or at least like him a lot.

Barry: *sweeping up debris, abruptly stops what he’s doing and pops up*

“You know what? I wish we were living in an old Western!”

Me: “What!? Okay, cool!”

B: “I’d probably be in a bar, drinking, surrounded by chicks…you know….”*makes the drinking-surrounded-by-chicks-face*

Me: “I’d probably be the piano dude, you know, with a huge, dirty tip glass….just playin’ some old tunes.”

From there, he proceeded to describe a scene where a few outlaws come into the bar we’re in and threaten me, asking if I know where his character is. One problem, we didn’t have names yet!

Barry: “Your name is Minister Pistols!” (which alludes to my devout Christian-ness) “You know you gotta KILL people, right? HAHAHAHAHA!”

Me: “I guess I would have to, it is the old West! HA! I’d have matching .357’s with gold handles and diamond encrusted crosses! You know what your name is gonna be?”

B: “What.”

Me:”Blackjack!”

B:”What? Haahahaha, why?”

Me: “Because all of your gunfights are over in exactly 21 shots! And you always shoot last!”

B: ” I respect that. You being a minister and all, you probably only get in my gunfights, you know, because you’re family.”

Me: “Naturally! You know I’m not really about that gun-slinging life! I’m just at work and you happen to be there starting trouble! Hahahahah!”

After a few more gunfights and caulk fill-ins, we decided that we had to come up with epic deaths. I decided that I would die preaching, duh! Years later, I started a church in Houston (the town that we had run in our younger years) and was converting my former enemies and their families to Christ. One fateful Sunday, the son of my first gun victim burst into a service and shot me dead, at the end of a sermon saying, “To live is Christ, to die is gain!”

Barry’s character, Blackjack, was already on the way to defend me, because he got word of my attacker long before word got to me, On his way to me, he got stopped 3 towns out by our rival gang, The Wasteland Scorpions! There were seven of them and one of him. The battle ensued, guns blazing (1,2,3,4,5) dust flying from boot spurs (6,7,8,9) obscenities spat (10,11)….the scene cuts to his father giving him shooting advice as a youngster…”squeeze the trigger, don’t pull it! (12,13,14,15)….”steady aim, son, hold your breath!”…(16,17)….Blackjack’s son, Little Deuce, was hiding behind an old, broken wagon, fiddling with bullets to put in his 2-shot .22 caliber pistol (18!) Blackjack surveys the area quickly and sees 4 men down. “QUICK, TO THE LEFT BOY! Don’t miss!”…echoes of his father’s voice….one bullet goes through two men! (19!) A stray shot whizzes past his ear ZZZZZZurm! (20!)

He returns fire with pinpoint accuracy, whispering his trademark….”Blackjack…”

The bullet explodes from the barrel of his rusty Colt .45 and enters the last Scorpion, dead between the eyes!

(21)………

…….(22!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Blackjack feels a burning sensation in his heart, like a punch from a titan, it spun him halfway and brought him to one knee……he spotted the shooter, nestled on a roof with a measly hunter’s rifle….

“Bust.”

There was still one bullet in Blackjack’s gun. With his last bit of strength, he squeezes the trigger and hits the scrawny bastard in the gut….and then falls….to his death…..the screen fades….but Blackjack arm rises right before a fade to black…..

To be continued….

So, basically my point is my family is really creative. We seem to all have really amazing imaginations….I didn’t even tell you half of what we came up with!

P.S. we’re gonna write up a pilot and send it to every major network in the galaxy! (Seriously, though, so don’t steal it or we will fight in court…..with rusty pistols!)

Vincent and his Technicolor Dream-Guitar

Last night I hung out with two good friends of mine, one of which I haven’t hung out with in a very long time. After all of the updating and whatnot, we got to talking about how miraculous Muslim-to-Christian conversions have been happening in the Middle East. There were some remarkable stories that she shared with me.

“I belong to YOU?! Really, White Jesus? Oh wait, this is a stock photo, not a dream.”

One dude had a dream that Jesus came to him and touched him on his head and on his heart and said to him, “You belong to me.” He was a devout Muslim his whole life up until that point, and after that point he followed Christ, going the first two years with no bible, no church and no one to preach the Gospel to him. That is the most remarkable story of conversion I have ever heard, not to mention the details about him being a drunk and an abusive husband and father before then, at which point he moved away to an Islamic monastery type place, worked full time and sent money home to his wife – just so he wouldn’t beat her and the kids. Amazing. Jesus led him right back to his wife and children after the dream. Upon telling his wife what had happened to him, she then said that she would follow Christ if that’s what he was doing.

Yup. Same dude that was punching her face in. Amazing-er.

That was just one of the stories she shared with us last night. Even more amazing.

Both of these friends, like most of my friends, are musically gifted people. One is a signed recording artist, singer/songwriter. The other is a phenomenal pianist, with a very finely tuned musical mind, but he’d never admit that to you. Naturally the conversation found it’s way to the arts, more specifically singing. My songwriter friend shared some new material she was working on with us and it was solid stuff. Really creative and original sound. I’m used to her making good stuff, but this was even above what I was used to. Now that I’m thinking of it, she’d one of the best studio singers I know. She went on to tell us about some frustrations she was having with her label and what she planned on doing to rectify things. That’s when I spotted the guitar nestled in the corner.

I asked, politely, if I could check it out. She said yea, so I went for it.

She was still talking about her label as I tuned the last few strings. I started strumming some arbitrary chords and my pianist friend noticed.

“That’s a nice chord,” he said.

(Just so you know, I was STILL listening to my songwriter friend. Those that know me know I suck at multitasking. But recently I discovered something: I can be engaged in a full on conversation while playing guitar. I haven’t tried other instruments yet, but I can imagine it works with piano and bass too. Drums, ehh not so much…I’m still trying to get a solid coordination down)

I asked if they had heard my latest material and they hadn’t. I figured I’d share a couple songs I’d been working on. I braced myself mentally for the well-meaning red ink that I would be receiving in a few minutes, as these were musically astute folks I was dealing with.

I played the first song. It’s called Hurricane. It has nothing to do with Hurricane Sandy. (Shout out to those who suffered losses and are STILL recovering….keep holding on!) I’ll share some lyrics for context:

Lord, take the reins of my mind

steer me into the eye of this hurricane

where the winds are just calm enough

for me to see.


They were really impressed with the song. I forget exact words but they expressed to me that they really liked it and that is a lot from them. Needless to say I was pleased with this. It boosted me a bit. I went on to share the next song with them, a song called Empty, which you can check out here.

Dead silence.

“You need to be signed!”

“You could perform that at a secular gig…and they would listen.”

“I’m not saying that you should not sing gospel music, but that’s better than what the secular artists are doing.”

I took in what they said and began to think about what it is about my music that was so great to them. Then I stopped thinking about that, and started feeling an intense urge to get up and do something about it. I still don’t know where to begin.

Sign up for some open mics….and not just Christian ones!”

I really want to push this artistry.

Hit up (music engineer we all know), go get your stuff recorded!”

Somehow, still, there are reservations. I don’t think that on the surface my music has that “life changing” aspect to it yet, and I don’t know what to do to get it either. But then, as I was writing this entry today, it dawned on me:

If Jesus can convert a Muslim to a Christian with something like a dream….and then have that Muslim follow him for two years based on one dream, no church, no leadership, no bible, no nothing but that man….then most definitely he could use my music to touch people’s hearts and bring them closer to Him. Of course He can do that.

I believe that wholeheartedly. Maybe – just maybe – I’m someone’s dream to be had.

Free Beat…(ing) (myself)…..(up)

I made a beat today!

It was a Chaka Khan sample, A Night in Tunisia, one of my favorite songs all time. I made it on a demo of this music program called Fruity Loops Studio. I first used Fruity Loops when I was in high school in Chester, PA, maybe 9th or 10th grade. It was a bit perplexing at first (maybe the first 5 minutes) but, once I figured it out, I was like a runny nose with no tissue….disgusting!

(random side note: black people seem to always use negative terms to describe positive things in our slang and colloquialisms. That’s what makes that last line so funny. If you didn’t think it was funny then keep reading, it gets better……please?)

I think between the years of 2001 and 2005 I made something like 200 beats. I had found a new passion in music production, a space where all of the music floating in my head had SOME kind of outlet. It wasn’t enough to execute all I wanted to, though, so I started to get into instruments like piano…..well piano was it for a while. I picked up more stuff in college.

So the beat I made today is awesome. I really like it. I’d play it for you but I haven’t given WordPress.com any money yet. So instead, I will put it on my Facebook page and let you listen to it here. HA! Take that, WordPress! There are some other songs on there if you want to check them out, but the name of the beat I made is Forties [Instrumental].

Okay, sorry WordPress, I shouldn’t treat you that way, you’re very kind in letting me use your space. I apologize.

Where was I? Oh, yea music production. I’m talking about it today because it is something that I think I’m good at and I wonder what I could do in that field that would be fun, lucrative, career launching, I don’t know. Many of my musical friends like my material, but I’ve never sold any of my stuff. Very early in my artistic development, I had resolved that all of my music would be free because I wanted as many people to hear it as possible so that their lives could be changed, free of charge. I wonder if I said that out of fear that my material wouldn’t be “buy-worthy”. Probably so. I was a very existential, self-deprecating and depressed teenager, so it makes sense.

I still have some of those fears left over in my adult life. I really want to be a full-time artist. It is where I am comfortable. It is where I am good. It is where I believe I will be most effective. But of course, I could be wrong.

I don’t know why, but when I think of me going out and being an artist, I feel selfish. Maybe I’ve been conditioned by my theology to be more giving than anything and, consequently, anything resembling personal pleasure gives me pause. Yeah, I think that’s pretty true. I’m a recovering extremist, so be patient with me. To be honest I’m not always recovering. Sometimes, I’m all guns blazing when a situation really just calls for a handshake. Ask anyone I knew/have known since I was a teen.

BUT NOW….I’m at the point where I am….starting not to….care about………GAAHHHH I do care! I CARE ABOUT HOW I WILL COME OFF. I CARE ABOUT SEEMING SELFISH TO PEOPLE BY PURSUING MUSIC. I CARE ABOUT SEEMING SELFISH TO GOD…….whoa…..snaps.

I care about seeming selfish to God.

What does that say about how I view God and my faith (Christianity)? I must think, at least partially, that God doesn’t care about my happiness. Or if He does, He only wants me to be happy doing what He wants me to do. That feels true, but I think I may be looking at it the wrong way. It comes off controlling to me, but I know God isn’t a control freak, He wouldn’t have given us free will if that was the case.

This kind of makes it hard to pursue a career as an artist with a clear conscience. This simultaneously makes the dirt very appealing…..I gotta resist that though or the blog will be over.

Do me a favor would you? Check out my music. Tell me if it does anything for you. Even if it doesn’t, I’m just as happy to share it with you, free of charge.

for now.

Good Morning, Bad Afternoon

I woke up really late today. Later than I care to share with you (4:37pm). I went to bed pretty late though, something like 2:30am. I’m usually fine, but today that was not the case.

That made me feel like such a loser this morning, to be honest (well, not this morning…

Wake the *bleep* up

Samuel L. Jackson, do you have to yell?

I could argue that the morning was actually good. I woke up this afternoon). I feel like I’ve squandered a day I could’ve used being a winner. As invalid as that is, it feels very valid in me right now. I mean, this blog is about achieving stuff (I think) and I can’t even get up early enough to see the sun. Gosh I wish I fought against temptation the way I fight against myself.

So remember that tutoring gig I told you about? I haven’t actually started it yet, reason being I have to get a certain set of clearances submitted in order to get paid and I don’t have them all rounded up yet. I need a copy of my high school diploma and a copy of my FBI background check. There are two roadblocks in the way of me obtaining those things, but I’m not worried about it. I’ve made some pretty good progress up until this point and I’m sure that will work out soon.

Once I get that going, I’ll be able to start tutoring and getting paid. It’s not a whole lot of money but it’s more than I made the last 2 years when I was unemployed. I’m hoping to use the money that I do get from this job and invest it into cosmetology school, pending I have enough financial aid left (because I used up 5 years of financial aid in college). It cost about $18,000 for an 8 month program, at the end of which I can take a state exam and be a licensed barber and cosmetologist. I think this is a viable option for me because I can cut hair and still have time and more resources to make music like I really want to. Barbers make decent money.

At the moment though, I still feel like a loser. Yeah, I have a plan and all, but I’m not doing anything NOW. I’m just writing a blog in a basement. Logically it doesn’t make any sense for me to feel this way, so unbecoming, unworthy and oppressed. I often wonder if I am depressed again or if I never stopped being depressed. My last bout with depression led to me attempting suicide. I felt so useless then. I lost my ability to pay for school because of poor grades. I was addicted to sex and pornography. I’d lost the one thing I thought I had going for me, school. And I was very tired. Tired in my soul really. I’ve been through my share of tough times. So I wanted to quit. I wanted to quit on life because I found myself always screwing it up and making it harder for myself.

I’m kinda scared of that now. There’s added pressure, whether it’s irrational or not, because of the fact that I am older now and should know better so I feel like if I screw up, there won’t be any solace, no “it’s okay try again”, just judgement and pitiless criticism. I feel like that voice has been loudest in my life for some reason.

There are a lot of deep-rooted things that  kinda make this process hard, but then there is this little piece of hope I have. I attribute it to my spirituality. Given the way I see my circumstance, there’s no reason to ever get out of bed. But I do get out of bed, no matter how late in the evening it is.

Dawn at (almost) Noon

Current mood: craptastic

So, I have this job. I’m a tutor, reading and math. Part-time gig. I’m really grateful for this gig. I love kids and teaching is something I’m good at. I used to call teaching a passion, but I think I only said that because I wanted to sound like I was doing more with my life to other people. My true passion is singing, songwriting and all things music. If given a choice between singing and teaching, I’d pick teaching because I care about what people think, but I’d really want to pick singing.

Something just dawned on me. I’ve spent some of my silver on a lie. I think I believe that being a musician is a loser lifestyle. Wow.

It’s noon somewhere, right?