November 30, 2015
One of the questions I get asked most is “why do you still buy comic books?” They tell me they either “trade wait” or they have abandoned the medium altogether. I won’t lie I have often considered just getting “trades” or the graphic novel reprints of the comic book stories. After all the comic books themselves can take up a lot of room. The graphic novels look better on the bookshelves and I get to digest the whole story arc at once instead of doing so over a six to eight month period. So why then?!
I suppose my answer comes down to three things. Number one I enjoy the storytelling. I think that comic books provide the most creative form of episodic storytelling. Each month I get a new “episode” that is told through the creative synergy of writer, artist, colorist, and inker. Through the use of color and art the creative team can convey ideas and emotions in a way that TV,movies and novels can’t express. Don’t get me wrong you can do a lot with special effects, actors and prose. I don’t want to disparage those mediums. It’s just that for me comics and art in general is just better at setting a mood.
Number two like most of you I am a busy guy. The “floppy” as it is called gives me a nice easily digested episode that I can enjoy in twenty minutes. Sometimes it is good to have a short break from reality to blow off some steam. I have found that comics are a good way to sort of clear your mind.
Number three is that it gives me something to look forward to every month. I suppose that makes me a sad man in a way! The truth in this case doesn’t hurt me at all. I enjoy going up to my local comic shop and picking up my new comics. It is just an enjoyable part of my life. There is nothing deep or philosophical about it.
In closing i’ll agree that all of my points could be applied to other hobbies that people are passionate about.(With the exception of the once a month point) Growing up I was always around art and that might also have something to do with it. My father, mother, one brother and one of my dad’s ex-wives are fantastic artists. This probably contributed to me loving the the drawn page more then the movie, tv show or prose novel.
Finally I will say that I try not to judge other people’s hobbies or past time passions. Life is a difficult journey and I think it is wonderful if you can find something that brings you a small amount of happiness in this crazy world we live in.
September 1, 2015
I would like to think that I have learned a lot about life. I have lived it 38 years and like the energizer bunny I keep moving forward to the beat of my own drum. A co worker and I had a brief conversation the other day about how young people don’t know what is coming. They think that their dreams are going to come true and any naysayers can just shut the hell up. The reality is some of your dreams come true and some of them don’t. Sometimes dreams become nightmares and milestones become chained to your legs preventing you from any forward momentum.
How can I say such things? I was in my late teens and early twenties once upon a time. I have lived it. I once believed that my life had a divine purpose. That I had a destiny. That I was on an exciting journey and the sky was the limit.
I am no longer convinced that my life serves any major purpose and I am ok with that. In truth at this point all I want to do is make a living and provide for my children.
If I am honest I have accomplished some of what I dreamed about. I fathered a son and daughter. I worked a job I dreamed of for a good seven years. I fell in love and was married. Unfortunately a lot of that was ripped away from me. My marriage ended in divorce. My ex took my kids and moved 500 miles away. The dream job ended and I was left with nothing to show for it career wise. Was it a waste of time? I still don’t have the answer to that question.
When I was young and in Christian youth group they hammered into our heads that God had a great plan for our lives. I often wonder if youth ministers were overly afraid that we were going to commit suicide. I wonder if they really believed what they preached. “You can be the next Billy Graham” they would say. In the end all of that rhetoric betrayed my heart. What if our only great purpose is to survive? To keep pushing on and do the best we can until our battery goes out and we slip into the peace of death?
There are two things I am grateful for today.One is that I have an amazingly supportive family. My brothers and my parents have been there for me through the hard times. Two is that I have been blessed with some amazing friends over the years who have also helped me through the hard times. They are all still there for me today as I keep pushing on. Trying to find something to make a career so that I can provide for myself and my kids again.
So what now? I survive and battle on. I Work towards small goals that I hope to reach one day.
May 20, 2015
It is crazy to think that I have had this blog for six years. My life has changed so much in 6 years as has my vision for this blog. Originally I was just going to post my thoughts on comic books and geek culture here. Yet as I look back I see that this small part of the internet has become a place for me to get things off of my chest. I can discuss what is going on in my head here. If I am brave enough. I have been wanting to reflect on where I am in writing for a while now. A friend of mine wrote a blog that was the impetus for me writing this one. Her blog is http://thesoutherngypsysoul.blogspot.com/.
Six years ago my life was much different. I was married with one baby boy and a tiny little infant girl. I had a house and solid job doing audio production for a Christian organization. My dreams were coming true. Unfortunately sometimes dreams become nightmares. My now ex wife left me on Valentines day of 2010. She took the kids and moved back home. She informed me she wanted a divorce two weeks after my birthday. It was the worst day in my life. I had never felt that kind of a emotional anguish in my life. All I could do was weep and moan. So me in a desperate attempt to win her back left the solid job I had to pursue something that paid better. I had hoped we would reconcile and be able to come back together. After all part of our problems seemed to stem from financial difficulties. She would hear nothing of it and five days later the better paying job let me go. My kids were gone. My marriage was over and I was unemployed. I moved back home to live with my mom. Yep. Every 30 somethings nightmare come true. I was so emotionally and spiritually broken that looking back it was a good thing that I was able to move back home.
My career took a nose dive as well. It seemed that a lot of Christian ministries didn’t want a divorced guy working for them. So between that cold fact and my lack of demo I decided to let it go. I worked several odd jobs. I even helped out at a station in a college town for a few months. (War Eagle!) In the end none of it panned out.
So where am I today? I still live with my mother. I am employed by a bookstore. I enjoy the work. Although I do look to the day when I can make good money again and live on my own. My kids come for visits and I have one thing I didn’t have for a long time:hope.
Over the past five years my heart has been healing. The emotional cut is a scar at this point. Perhaps one day it will be gone. I have let go of a lot of the resentment and anger that I held onto. I have forgiven. My ex is getting remarried and truth be told I hope she has a great life.
For a long time I believed that I was finished. I couldn’t understand why I was still alive. I still haven’t had any great epiphany other then that I know my children,family and friends need me. I still trust that God has a plan for my life. I have no idea what that is or where to go. I don’t have to figure it out all at once. I am content going day by day and seeing where my feet land. I have some ideas of where I can go career wise.
So I said all of that to say that sometimes it is a long road out of hell. Sometimes you don’t get the miracle fix you were praying and hoping for. Sometimes you just have to push through the trials and let the healing take its course.
I see myself as a phoenix ready to be reborn into the next phase of my life. I couldn’t say that 5 years ago. I can say it now.
December 3, 2014
It goes without saying that everyone goes through hard times in their lives. Personally I have dealt with a lot of disappointment and frustration this past year. In the midst of all of the questioning and tears there have been a few things that have brought me some measure of comfort during the tough times.
One of the great loves of my life are good stories. I enjoy the story and I enjoy the synergy between writer and artist that the comic book medium provides. It takes me around 10 minutes to read a comic book. It always cheers me up and more importantly it gives me a moment to step back and catch my breath. It helps me calm my brain for a few moments while I read about how Batman or Spider-Man save the city or let my skin crawl as I watch the demons emerge from the forest in the horror comic Wytches. I also appreciate the different art techniques used by the many different artists in comics today. That is what happens when one of your parents is an art teacher.
Another form of art that has helped me get through the year is music. I have always loved music. There is something special about that melodious noise. It is like someone plucked an emotion out of the air and stuck it in a jar. When you open the jar you can take out the emotion and either wrap it around you like a blanket or drive it into your heart like a blade. Music gives us the ability to express emotions and relieve the tension they can cause. One particular album that came out this year that has helped me a lot is “Extremist” by the band Demon Hunter. I love metal and I love the brutal honesty that it can convey. Demon Hunter is made up of a group of guys that were pastor’s kids or grew up in church. Their lyrics and the way they approach life and religion in them connects with me. Their latest album “Extremist” has some songs on it that inspire me to keep moving forward. “I will Fail You” , “Artificial Light” and “Cross to Bear” are my favorite songs on that album.
Finally Brian Welch the guitarist for Korn and his side band Love and Death wrote a book called “Stronger: Forty Days of Metal and Spirituality” where he shares in short chapters the struggles of his life and how he has worked to overcome them. Once again his honesty is what I enjoy most in the book. His points aren’t all that deep. Don’t expect anything on the level of Kierkegaard or Lewis. Just expect the story of how a guy that loses his temper and does some selfish things finds his way to a measure of peace and learns some life lessons on the journey.
So what works inspire you? What are some escapes that help you relax and decompress?
April 21, 2014
Today is Easter! It is the time of year when Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I thought that given the holiday I would blog about a simple yet complex topic: Jesus and me.
I typically don’t like to talk “religion” with people. I would prefer to write or talk about enjoyable things in life. If you talk about Jesus with people then walls go up and people assume you are trying to get their money, or worse convince them to vote for a Tea party candidate. I don’t want your money or your vote. I don’t even want you to have my theology or see things my way. I don’t want to convince you to come to my church or that I am some kind of awesome Christian man. In truth I am a terrible Christian. If you look to me as an example of evangelical Christianity you will be sorely disappointed. I enjoy beer and philosophy. I love hanging out with people from all backgrounds, sexual orientations, and religious beliefs. Worst of all I enjoy playing Dungeons and Dragons and I loved the Harry Potter movies and books. The typical guilt trip for evangelicals is that someone will look at your life and go to hell because you didn’t live it the way the preacher thought you should. I don’t buy that at all. We all have our own journey to go through and decisions to make. At the same time I don’t want to come across as another progressive leaning blogger that is going to talk about his bad experiences with church. I suppose I have been blessed because my wonderful experiences with church outweigh the bad ones.
So with that mini rant out of the way I want to talk about Jesus Christ and me. Why do I believe in him? Who is he to me? Where did I first meet Jesus? I was raised Roman Catholic. We went to church every Sunday. Even when my parents divorced and we were avoided by people at the church we still went to Mass. Eventually my mom started dating a guy that went to a local Assemblies of God church. She invited me to it and got me to go by telling me they had a live band playing in the church. As a music lover this was something I had to see. In Mass there is no band rocking for the Rock. So I went and I enjoyed the music and more importantly for the first time in my life I felt the presence of Jesus. It was a divine love that penetrated my soul and warmed my heart. I went forward and was lead through the sinner’s prayer by a youth leader. That was the easy part of the whole experience. That was when I was 17 years old. This year I will have been a professing Christian for 20 years. My journey has not been the neat one that Charismatic Christianity tries to sell you on. Every day has most certainly not been a Friday. The biggest challenge that hit me was when my wife of six years left me at 33. Shortly after that I lost a well-paying job that I had moved closer to home for. Those experiences destroyed me. They tore down my worldview and my heart was in pieces. For a time I didn’t believe in God anymore. I had worked hard in ministry for 7 years. I had gone to a Christian college. I had saved myself for marriage. I hadn’t “sinned” like other people I knew. So why was this happening?!
I reached the point in my journey where it was Jesus and me. As much as I didn’t want to believe in Him I still felt his arms around me. I still saw his hand on my life. I still felt that divine unexplainable love penetrate my heart. So I decided to just rebuild myself. I have rethought everything. I realized that Jesus made me the way I am and that most importantly he died on the cross so that I could be with Him forever. I don’t have to be perfect or give up X,Y and Z to keep his favor. I know that a lot of my beliefs don’t fit in well with the dogmas of modern Christianity. That is fine with me. I am different. I am my own man and I have my friend and my God Jesus Christ. I still have doubt and I still have days where I think my life is going nowhere. At the end of it though I know that Jesus is there. I don’t know how to explain it.
I don’t have any desire to be a “good” Christian anymore. I don’t even know what that means. I am not out to save the world or thump the Bible at anyone. I am just a broken hearted man with my Jesus. In the end it is just about Jesus and me. The one who endured a hellish execution so that he could redeem me. So that I could have a relationship with almighty God. So that when I was all alone. When my ex told me she wanted a divorce and I was crying so hard that my tears dried up and all I could do was wail. I could look to Him for comfort.
Life is not neat. It doesn’t fit into nice little religious boxes that can easily be explained. I take comfort in knowing that neither did Jesus.
March 16, 2014
What do you do when you reach that point where everything you believed in has seemingly failed you? When you feel as though you are trapped at the bottom of an abyss with no way to climb up. Though you try and struggle to climb you end up falling down again. All you have to show for your efforts are blood soaked hands where you cut yourself trying to grasp at something, at anything that will hold you secure.
That is where I find myself these days. I have heard it all:
“Believe in yourself”,
“Do these steps and you will go far kid…”
“Jesus Christ will help you if you do this…”
All of these platitudes seem as vanity to me. Perhaps I am being a spoiled brat. I should be grateful to just be alive. Well excuse me if I still desire and hope for more. When I was 17 I accepted Jesus into my heart. At 33 I watched it fall apart and God did nothing. I went from having a career to pushing boxes of books around an office. I went from being married with my own home to living with my mom again. A victim of ruin that follows most men after a divorce.
Despite all of this a part of me still hopes. I raise my scarred hands to grasp at the blood soaked rocks of destiny. My broken spirit still tries to soar to the heights of success. My cold and shattered heart still looks for the warm comfort of love.
This is my existence. Indeed I find myself wondering if life is more about the struggle then the goal. Perhaps suffering is what we are here for? Is emotional suffering what I am here for?
I don’t know any of the answers. All I know is that I will keep on trying until the peaceful embrace of death takes me. As a wise vampire with a soul once uttered “If nothing we do matters then all that matters is what we do.”
September 15, 2010
This past weekend I had an interesting experience. I attended not one but two church services at a “Mormon” church. Those that know me will probably be shocked by that confession.
It all started with me visiting my father and his wife this past weekend. My dad “converted” about two years ago. When he first told me about his new religion I was shocked. You see my father is an educated man. I have known him my entire life and he always struck me as being the ultimate skeptic when it came to religion. I had always been taught in mainline evangelical churches that Mormons were these scary shock troopers that had the uncanny ability to brainwash people into believing in the book of Mormon. I knew that my dad was not one to be brainwashed by anyone. At first I figured that maybe he had converted in order to make peace with his new wife. I couldn’t have been more wrong about that. His life changed for the better. I as his son will be the first to say that something worked in his heart and made him a better person. He is still my dad but he is different. He wakes up and reads his scriptures every morning. Not only that but he prays before every meal and he regularly goes to church. Not only does he go but he likes it. He’s even a leader in his church now. If you had told me three years ago that my father was going to be a leader in his church I would have laughed at you.
When I arrived at my dad’s house on Friday he informed me that he had church on Saturday and Sunday this weekend. I decided to go along with him so that I could experience this Mormon thing first hand.
Given all of the horror stories that I had heard about The Latter Day Saints I expected to see someone like this leading the service:
There were no signs of dark priests or demonic rituals. In fact the services were very uplifting. They were having a “Stake” conference which is a lot like other denominations’ district conferences. They sang hymns and three to four people spoke on different subjects. A teenager even got up and shared with the congregation at one point. I never got to do that when I was a teenager. All I was offered the chance to do is to be in horribly choreographed “dramas” called “human videos”. Yeah…no thanks.
As I looked around the room I noticed that no one had glazed over eyes. In fact the people attending the church were much like any other church I had ever attended. Some were paying attention to what was being said. Others were attending to their children while one lady I saw was balancing her check book during the service. They didn’t offer me any funny looking kool-aid or anything like that. Most of them shook my hand and talked to my father. The only other difference between that service and a traditional baptist service was of course the fact that they used scriptures from two books:
Overall i’d say that checking out the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was a positive experience. I was glad that I got to experience first hand something that has impacted my father’s life in such a deep and profound way. When it comes to religion people can argue doctrine all day. What they can’t argue with is a changed life.
The next time Mormon missionaries come around I won’t try and avoid them. I’ll shake their hands and talk with them.
Do I agree with everything that they believe? Based on what little I know about them the answer is “no”. However that doesn’t mean that I can’t treat them like people and learn more about them. Ignorance is not bliss.