The Country Life

11 02 2017

Two years ago I moved home after living an entire life in Phoenix Arizona.  For the most part moving home has been on a historically short list of my good ideas.  Edging out trading my 89 Upper Deck Griffey Jr and buying a home two years prior to the largest real estate collapse in modern history.

Living back home, in the country, and more or less across the street from my dad means having to “adjust” to certain situations. The next couple paragraphs will document one such situation.

Just this past week I was sitting at the table on a Saturday.  I had some music playing, I was properly medicated and working on my writing.  When all the sudden in barges my dad, out of breath, dogs are barking going nuts “Quick, grab the .243 there’s a cougar in the lower field!”

To more accurately set the stage, if we all put our 8th grade history caps on for a moment, it was on par with Paul Revere.  The original one if by land two if by sea guy letting me know the Red Coats were coming, not the much loved Beastie Boys jam.

That said, I’m not really what you would consider a “Call to arms” type guy for every situation.  “Come quick somebody’s life is in danger” and I’m on it.   Cougar in the lower field while I come unannounced and completely destroy the relaxed vibe with large adorable cat murder.  Mehh.. That sounds like more of a you problem while I hopelessly spend ten minutes looking for my other flip flop.

 





A Prison Without Walls

8 07 2014

alone-in-the-island

I can’t imagine a long-term punishment, from a psychological or mental standpoint, harsher than feeling like your own happiness is going to betray your family and your religious beliefs.  A punishment based on no crime other than being born.

Normally when writing a piece I have some research or data to go off of.  However, this is posed as a question to provoke thought.  The only real basis are several years of observations via Facebook.

So here we go… How difficult is it to be gay in an ultra religious conservative family?

From what I’ve observed it has to be absolutely brutal. How? When everyone else knows you’re gay.. except you.. it’s a problem.   I’m not going out of my way to paint religion in a bad light. However, I think we can all agree for a true believer there’s a much lower threshold for feeling  guilt. That associated guilt then attaches itself to the sin in question. If you’re raised to believe all sin is bad, and being gay is a sin, then etc etc, you see where I’m going with this.

On a personal note, I had the guilt card played on me at a very young age.  I was told that relatives could see me from heaven and would look in on me from time to time. Yikes, if all my deceased loved ones can really see everything I do, I’m sure for them, my death won’t come quick enough.  I can just hear my grandma now.. “Oh hear we go, he’s in the shower again.. and out-of-wedlock.” Luckily I don’t subscribe to this theory and subsequently live a fairly guilt free life.

For the person left dangling in the wind, struggling to understand why God has forsaken them, struggling to understand why all of there friends are married and starting families..There’s no amount of travel, no amount or reading, no Netflix movie marathons, no workaholism (made up word that I love), no endless amount of Spartan Races that are ever going to fill the mysterious void (pun intended) in their life.

As a mother or father how are you content to let your son or daughter meander through life wondering what’s wrong?  Wondering why they can’t seem to find happiness, even when and if they should attempt to participate in a loveless marriage.  How long before you step in and do your job as a parent and provide some tangible guidance? Denial is only creating a stigma of undeserving shame and simply praying on it isn’t going to work.

It’s not God’s responsibility to be a parent, it’s yours.  Time to step in and say, “Listen sweetie, you’re gay and we still love you.”





2012 in review

30 12 2012

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,600 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 4 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.





Fear & Loathing In The Desert

16 12 2012

Awhile back I went on something called a “Moonlight Hike”.  The premise is fairly simple, you go out into the desert and hike at night using the light from the moon.  The full moon unobstructed in the desert is a decent light source… Unless it’s cloudy.

I was invited by a friend who I work with and actually do a lot of hiking with.  The rest of the party consisted of a 50 year old Hippy, a Mormon couple, a female survivalist, some dude who thought he was Davy Crockett, and another co-worker, fresh out of college, with a bottle of Sutter Home in his backpack, and me..

I should have known this was going to be an irritating disaster as soon as I looked up and saw the massive overcast blocking out the light, which was supposed to be provided by the moon…

9:20 P.M.  We started walking from the road to reach the trail head, almost a mile since the trail was closed.  Awesome, big fan of having to hike to the hike.

9:30 P.M.  The survivalist power couple give advice to the Mormons to flip off their headlamps and conserve energy as the moon makes a brief appearance.  Apparently a brand new 9 volt Lithium Ion battery only lasts 20-30 minutes when powering LED lights… I have my first of many eye rolls.

9:40 P.M.  Certified female survivalist punts a Jumping Cholla with her foot while walking.  Apparently is survivalist school they recommend hiking at night with open toes sandals.  I offer up my Leatherman pliers to help pull the needles out, but she opt to go by hand.  Second eye roll ensues… (Jumping Cholla is a nasty barbed cactus)

9:46 P.M. In an effort to salvage her credibility, Survivalist throws this gem out to the group. “Just pay attention to the city lights and you can’t get lost.”  You guessed it.. Eye roll.

9:50 P.M.  Davy Crockett has decided to set some sort of new Alpine record pace to the top.  In addition he’s doing a really annoying “Apache War Cry”  in the dark so we know his location… At this point all I can think about is punching this condescending doucher in the face.

9:55 P.M.  Just out of college guy pops the cork on the Sutter Home as if to give a big F-U to the rest of the group… In this act of defiance, he immediately becomes my favorite person on this hike.  The rest of the hikers are in shock and concern that someone walking at just over 2 mph at night can drink wine and walk at the same time. “Uhh hello??? how do you think homeless get around”   There concern is so great they sprint out in front by a good 10 minutes.

9:56 P.M.  In the silence of the night desert, derogatory comments can be heard as everyone sprints ahead, except for the wino and myself.  Apparently at this point I’m guilty by association and could really care less.

10:15 P.M.  I hear the distinct sound of a mosquito buzzing by my ear… Not happy.  I was not prepared for this, its always been my experience that mosquitoes hang out around areas of stagnant water, not the dry desert.

10:20 P.M.  The trail starts to get vertical, and I realize that you can’t stop or you get swarmed by mosquitoes.  Awesome… It’s like hiking with a gun to my head.

10:55 P.M.  We reach the rest of the group who is discussing making some sort of a run at the top… Couple problems here, One we’re on the wrong trail to attack the summit and two, everyone has depth perception retardation due to it being dark.  The top is easily another 2-3 hours away.   To tired to roll my eyes, so I do it in my mind.

At this point 24 year old wine boy and I decided regardless of what everybody else is doing we’re heading back.  As it turns out we both had grown up navigating through forests as young kids, hiking , paying attention to land marks, and just using common sense.  You can’t teach a lifetime of tracking, camping, hiking and hunting in a class…

I’ll  sum this up by saying we finished at least 15 minutes in front of the “experts” with no flashlights, no cactus barbs in us, and without the use of the Apache War Cry…





Who’s Right, Who’s Wrong, Who Cares?

10 12 2012

Why do we care so much about what others think?  At the end of the day isn’t being religious just a belief system?   The way a person decides how they want to live their life.  I’m sure that’s a gross over simplification, but I don’t have the time or energy to dig any deeper for my opening paragraph.

If I practiced a religion it would be humor, I’m a zealot to comedy.  I guess you could say Richard Pryor is my Black Jesus.  I tend to write about what I find funny, knowing it’s not for everybody.  Just recently someone referred to me as “self aware”, which is something I took as a compliment.  My comfort level comes from knowing how I got to where I’m at and who I am.

The chubby kid whose parents divorced when he’s just a wee lad.  Moved around a lot when he was growing up, bouncing him from school to school. The end result was someone who deflects with humor, looks for short cuts and was overly concerned about pleasing those around him.

As with many things in life, change happens.  You grow up, you get married, you have kids.  Having a family just has a way of making everything else come second.  Basically you quit caring about what people think, there are other more important issues to focus on,  and I’ll be real honest, it’s amazing when you get there.   That being said, the core personality we grew up with stays with us, even if it’s buried deep under a layer of  lame oxford shirts, ties, and khaki pants.

Case and point on not caring: I was voted “best dressed” in my Senior Class.  For four years I laid clothes out the night before I went to school.  So obsessed about looking my best and caring about the image I portrayed to people I would hardly ever see again after school.  Yesterday I went to the grocery store to but pop-tarts in grey cotton gym shorts and a yellow spandex workout shirt.  I looked like I just won a stage of the Tour de France… If they held one for past their prime, middle aged, guys in flip flops.

Lately I’ve noticed quite a bit of chatter on Facebook about religion.  Believer vs. Non-Believer to me is as relevant and compelling as Team Jacob vs. Team Edward.  But that’s just my opinion.  To some middle aged housewives Jacob vs Edward is some serious shit and you better have your facts straight and bring your “A” game if you want to try and argue your case.

I feel like I’m in a grey area of hypocrisy for even writing about something that I supposedly don’t care about.  For the sake of argument, lets just pretend that I’m a third party observer with no agenda other than a few cheap laughs.

I mean I get it.  On one side you have the person who needs answers, needs proof.  On the other side you have the person who only needs faith.Proof is obviously irritated by Faith’s overwhelming consensus  that Proof will be sent to a hell that doesn’t exist.

Faith is irritated that Proof is challenging the belief system which they run their life by, usually in a condescending “holier than thou” manner.  And we all know nobody is holier than the born again Christian.

Why is it so important to be right?  I mean aside from the whole eternal damnation thing.  If either side found out tomorrow they were 100% correct, would their life be any different or would it be a bunch of self high fives and Tebowing? (sorry for the dated Tebow reference, I started writing this last year)

One of the hardest things for me to distinguish is the difference between someone posting bible verses and someone posting the latest scientific findings.  To me it’s the same, you’re both preaching from the pulpit.

I’m reminded of an episode of South Park called “Go God Go”: In the year 2546, the entire world is atheistic and dedicated to rationality and science. Atheism is divided into several denominations. These factions are at war with each other over who has the right answer to the Great Question. Cartman is told that their inspiring leader from the past, Richard Dawkins, showed them the way, but it was his “beautiful wife”, Mrs. Garrison, who showed how one must be a dick to people they don’t agree with.

Humans have a desire to be heard, we want others to agree with us and tell us we’re right.  We’re vane, ego driven and love to be pandered to.

What we don’t like, is to be told that we’re wrong or that we’re not as smart as someone else based on what we believe.  Whether it’s directly by saying, “You’re so wrong you’re embarrassing yourself.” or indirectly by simply rolling your eyes.

For me it’s understanding everyone has a different sense of humor.  I don’t expect everybody to laugh at what I say, I don’t criticize or look down upon people who think farts are as funny as a well crafted joke.

Well ok, that’s not exactly true.  I do look down upon them, it’s the lowest form of humor that requires zero talent.  But I keep it to myself.  Anyone who has spent three minutes setting up a joke only to have some jobber fart and get a bigger laugh feels my pain.

If atheism were a comedian it would be Dennis Miller.  So desperate for everyone to know how smart he is, that most of his jokes alienate the general public.  The fact that nobody gets the Dennis Miller reference proves my point.

If religion were a comedian it would be Jeff Foxworthy.  It was good the first time I heard it and simplistic, but if I have to hear one more forced “you might be a redneck” joke with canned laughter, I’m looking for the nearest rafter, some rope and a foot stool.

Which gets us back to my original question.  Why do we care what people think?  To which I don’t think there’s a cookie cutter answer that works for everyone.  I think each of us deals with our own issues, those issues which have defined us and molded the person we are today.  Which may be the root of why we do or don’t care.  We may never have a agreeable answer on whether or not a God exists.  Maybe the better question is, “Why do I care so much if someone believes he does or doesn’t?”





We are who we are… (literal short)

23 11 2012

Forward:  Most of you who follow my writing know me as a somewhat negative and pragmatic person.  Those of you who have known me in real life, for any length of time, know that I’m not really that same person.  Negative yes, but in more of an upbeat manner and not quite as pragmatic.  Imagine if the Odd Couple were just one person, that would be me.  My writing is Oscar Madison and in person I’m more Felix Unger

Yesterday was like any other Sunday around our house, lazy.  I spent the entire afternoon throwing the football to a neighborhood full of future NFL receivers.  Once I go across the street to the park with my two boys, Conner (7) and TJ (9), kids seem to come out of the woodwork.  The end result for me is a good nights rest, and a really sore shoulder the next morning.

Added to the fray yesterday were two new kids I’d never seen before, Caleb (10) and Chris (12).  After spending some time talking to them, I found out they were new to the neighborhood, brothers from northern California.  They were polite and respectful, two things that are a rarity with most of the kids I come into contact with in the neighborhood.

After an entire afternoon of throwing the football around, it was time to head back across the street and home.  Walking home I noticed one of the kids bmx bike didn’t have a seat on it.  Seriously, how in the blue hell do you peddle a bike around with just a pointed chrome bar pointing at the family jewels?  This had complete disaster written all over it.  I mean you may as well find a WWI German helmet with the spike on it, and weld it to the frame.

So I had to ask, “Hey whose bike is this?”

The new boy Caleb owned up to it in a very sheepish manner, “mine.”

I could tell he was embarrassed and didn’t want to draw attention to it in front of all the other kids.  Just then, in a split second, 3rd through 6th grade came flooding back to me in an flash.  I remembered the freedom and importance of the BMX bike.  I also remembered how having a cool bike meant something, and how having a clunker, aka 4th generation hand-me-down Huffy, was a badge of shame.  Then somewhere four levels below that, in bmx hell, was having a bike with no seat.

Not on my watch.  I could just see it, this kid goes off a sidewalk or small jump and he spends the rest of his life thinking about how nice it would have been to have kids.  I waited for the other boys to clear out and asked him about the bike.

“So where’s the seat?”

“I don’t have one.”

“I.. see that.., so you just ride everywhere standing?”

“Yeah, my legs get pretty tired”

Then he proceeded to tell me it was free from his church.  I knew better than to ask why his parents hadn’t bought a new seat for him.  These are tough times and from the way the boys were dressed, it was obvious the family was on a pretty tight budget.  As luck would have it I just so happen to have a bike that a family who moved out left in the street.  TJ carried it home with designs on my renovating it… It’s sat along side the house for 6 months.  I’ve been busy.

“Caleb, this is your lucky day, wheel that thing over to our driveway.”

What started out as simply adding a seat, turned into adjusting and tightening his handlebars, which actually came off the bike in my hands.  We tightened and oiled the chain, which kept coming off as well.   Then added about ten pounds of air to each tire.  It may not have been the Hollywood ending of the brand new looking bike, but at least it was now serviceable.

To be honest, it was no more than fifteen minutes out of my day and some spare parts, but to this kid it was as if a miracle had just happened.  He spent five minutes testing the new ride, smiling from ear to ear, finally stopping back in front of me with a pretty nice power-slide.

“I forgot what it’s like to sit… I don’t know how to thank you or how to repay you.”

“I’ll make you a deal, next time you have the opportunity to help someone out, do it, and we’re even.”

“Deal!”

He shook my hand and headed down the street with his brother, sitting while he peddled.  Ordinarily I’d say that most kids would just blow my idea off.  But I have a feeling this kid will live up to his end of the bargain, and help someone else out.  Which does someone like me good.

It gives me hope that not everyone in this world is a selfish, thankless, self absorbed jerk.  For the next few days I’ll be a little less negative and a little less pragmatic.  I’ll try to remember that although few and far between there are still plenty of good people.  In simple terms, I’ll try not to be realistic and instead think there’s still good in this world and there’s hope for the future.

Oops, Sounds like the feel-good dust is already starting to wear off.  Oh well it was one hell of a 24 hours!





The Absurdness of Sports Rivalries

29 04 2012

Today I decided to get away from it all and go for a hike.  My love affair with hiking is something I stumbled upon recently in my quest to lose weight and get back into what I would classify as “respectable” shape.  Its been a great fit, and so far the only expense associated with this new-found hobby has been a backpack.

Arizona is fantastic for hiking, there are plenty of hills and mountains.  But the real benefit is once you get a little ways in the air, you can see unobstructed for a long ways.  I’ve also found it to be quite relaxing in my own way.  I’m around people all week at work, all night when I get home, so the ability to throw some lunch in a backpack, hike to a rock somewhere and be in limited contact with other people is somewhat appealing.  That is unless you run into a Yankee fan.

On most days my “lid” or hat of choice is one of three Boston Red Sox hats.  And I have to say more often than not it elicits some sort of conversation, sometimes good, sometimes bad.

At one of the view points on the trail today I was taking some pictures when out of nowhere, “How about that finish to the game last night?”  Now yes I am a fan of the Red Sox, but I don’t watch every single game.  In a season with 162 of them, there’s going to be periods when I miss a few.  But somehow I always feel like I’m letting a complete stranger down if I don’t at least engage them is Sox talk for a couple of minutes.  Luckily I heard about an amazing play the shortstop made from his knees a couple of nights before.  “No, I missed the game but what about the play Pedroia made from his knees the other night!”

Red Sox nation is like any other brotherhood, the only thing missing is a secret handshake.  That being said, for every ying there must be a yang or in this case a Yank.  Fans of the Red Sox and Yankees are predisposed to not really liking each other, even at the casual fan level.  For every engaging comment I get, there is a “Boo Red Sox, go Yankees” comment.

Towards the mid way point of the hike I somehow got on a similar rest schedule with two Yankee fans, which lead to the first “Boo Red Sox” comment of the day.  After several friendly yet derogatory exchanges I decided to play nice and hold a somewhat forced, normal conversation.  However, without the common bond of disdain between these two teams, there really isn’t much to talk about.

The trail I was on was not a loop, so basically you hike to the end turn around and hike back.  At the turnaround Yankee fan got about a five-minute head start on me as I finished up a granola bar and some Powerade.  As he walked by I wished him well and said, “Enjoy the rest of your day, don’t let me catch you, I know how you Yankees like to fade going down the stretch.”

After a forced uncomfortable laugh in the 92 degree Arizona sun, he knew it was on.  We were no longer hiking for our own well-being.  We were hiking as representatives of the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox.

I kept pace with him almost the whole way back, constantly staying 3-5 minutes behind.  Like vintage Lance Armstrong in the alps, I was just waiting for the mountain portion of the trail to make my move.  I overheard him mention a calve problem which I knew would be problematic in the vertical climb.

Sure enough, half way up the mountain I caught up with him resting in the shade.  At that moment I caught my third or maybe fourth wind and put the hammer down on the throttle.  Heat stroke and nausea be damned.  I felt like the driver who decides to pass on the final pit stop at the Indy 500, bald tires and next to no gas, it’s ride or die time!

Of course it ended up being a blowout.  I think I finished like ten minutes in front.  There was no fanfare, no recognition and no yellow jersey, just personal pride.  As I sat at a shaded picnic table dumping water over my head, I saw him finishing, clearly favoring the bad calve.  We made eye contact and both acted as though nothing was on the line, but secretly knowing otherwise.

My name is Thomas Colvin and today I dominated a 70-year-old Yankee fan in the name of Red Sox Nation.

“Lets Go Red Sox!”