Disclaimer: Most of my posts are supposed to be funny and are meant to entertain. This is not one of those posts. Feel free to skip it. If you want a fun post to check out, this one is a good place to start.
It’s time to admit a little secret I’ve been keeping from everyone: I’m struggling. If my relationship with God is best understood as a walk, right now I’m in the middle of an arduous hike. Trudging up the steep mountainside, I can’t even see the top, obscured by the treeline and the twisting path. My muscles burn and more than once I am forced to stop and catch my breath. Looking over my shoulder, I consider how much easier it would be to just give up, turn around, and go back. Going downhill is always easier.
There are a number of reasons for this feeling, but the biggest one is that I feel my life means nothing. Paul told the church at Ephasus that “we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” I’m never happier than when I am serving others. I love volunteering with various nonprofit organizations and with my church. The problem is I’m so overworked at the job I hate that I have little time or energy for anything else. I’m exhausted, mentally, physically, and spiritually. A while back, I decided to make a change. If I’m really to live for God in the spirit of serving others, I want to do everything to that end. That means my job as well. So I began my quest to leave my job for a career in the nonprofit sector, applying to and interviewing with several great groups.
A few of the jobs seemed perfect. They were writing jobs for which I was more than qualified, with my Creative Writing degree and professional writing background. “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (1 Peter 4:10). I was excied, figuring I finally learned why God have given me the gifts of creativity and writing talent. There was even a job I went for that was a support-based position, meaning I would have to raise my own salary. As scary as that sounded, I decided to go for it. Despite that, I keep getting rejection after rejection. Getting turned down for a job is certainly not uncommon, especially in this economy. Still, it stings a little worse in this case. These are jobs I went after thoroughly convinced that they were ways to serve God. Being told the employer doesn’t want me almost sounds like “God doesn’t want you.”
I’m not so self-absorbed to think I’m the only one with problems. I realize I am more blessed than many. I realize that following God doesn’t mean your life will be easy (in fact, the Bible repeatedly says the opposite). But just as Job, one of the Bible’s most righteous characters, comes to curse the day of his birth, I too wonder why I am here if I am continuously denied the chance to do what I believe I’m here to do.
I accepted an opportunity to help on a volunteer basis for one of the nonprofits that turned me down for a job. I don’t think I will be able to serve often, though, because of my work schedule. Instead of helping spread the Gospel or help starving children, I continue to clock in at the law firm, where I serve that other master: money. At a personal injury law firm, I work in one of the few professions that sides with Pilate when he asked “what is truth?” Truth is however you present it. Facts are ignored, suppressed, or vigorously challenged if they are not consistent with our representation of the “truth.” And it’s all in the name of money.
I’m writing this not to complain or to get sympathy, but to come clean. I go about each day as if everything is fine, smiling at the right times and joking around as usual. Even when friends from my church group ask how I’m doing, I lie, smile and say I’m fine. And then I go home, get on my knees, and beg God to draw nearer to me, to show me guidance, to comfort me. My only response is the echo of my cries off the bare walls. I’m writing this to be honest. Next time you ask me in person, I’ll say I’m fine. But I’m not fine. I’m struggling. And it was time I admitted it.
Some of you know that I do some freelance work as a music critic for Glide Magazine. It’s a fun job, even though it only pays in free music and concerts. Anyway, my editor has asked me to write a short bio for the site. While that sounds simple, it’s hard to decide what I want to tell readers about me in a few short sentences. Since I can’t choose, I’m going to share some of my ideas. Vote for your favorite:
- Jeremy has been reviewing music for Glide for the last 7 years, but still can’t figure out what’s so great about Kid A.
- Jeremy earned a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing from UCF, just to make sure he would always be safely located in the lower tax bracket.
- Jeremy has critiqued virtually every genre of music for Glide since 2006, but lately there has been an overabundance of banjos. When did hipsters start playing banjos, anyway?
- Jeremy has critiqued virtually every genre of music for Glide since 2006, but is still most partial to raw rock & roll. His dog prefers anything with lots of bleeps and bloops. Even his dog thinks Bon Iver is boring, though.
- Jeremy is a little old-school. He still prefers CDs to MP3s, because you can’t exactly cut your cocaine with a digital booklet, can you?*
- When not reviewing music, Jeremy uses his writing skills to work on his first novel and occasional suicide notes. Only when the Celexa wears off, though.
- A music critic since 2006, Jeremy grew up spending his days in his room, singing at the top of his lungs with liner notes in hand. Despite this, he still isn’t sure if there are any actual words in “Yellow Ledbetter.”
- A fan of the 90s grunge scene, it should be noted that Pearl Jam seems to have two songs named after Jeremy: “Jeremy” and “Lukin.” Theories for the misspelling of his last name include a desire to make the song meaning cryptic, Eddie Vedder’s purported illiteracy, and that Jeremy doesn’t actually know anyone in the band.
- Jeremy is a graduate of UCF, where he studied Creative Writing. He uses his writing skills primarily to critique music, blog, compose short fiction, fill out online dating profiles, and send emails to the dating websites to inform them that they must have been hacked, because he’s not receiving any messages.
- A writer by trade, Jeremy lives in beautiful Orlando, Florida, the former home of the Orlando Magic.
*Just kidding. Jeremy does not use or endorse the use of drugs.
Well, I just got an email saying I paid to auto-renew my domain name (which is important, because “stealing pesos out of my brain” is huge in SEO searches). Since I’m paying for this website, I might as well use it. Hopefully this post goes over better than my last one, which I think accidentally offended some friends. To play it safe, I’ll do something that will offend no one but Canadians: make fun of hockey.
Over the last few months, I’ve been to several hockey games, because Orlando has a minor league team for some reason. I don’t really know much about hockey, since I’m from Florida, so it’s been a learning experience. I’m used to knowing all of the rules and strategy for sports, but for hockey it’s all arbitrary. It’s totally cool to purposely slam a guy into the wall, but you can’t punch him. You can knock a guy down, but you can’t trip him or pull him down. Breakaways are a great way to score a goal, but you’re penalized if one of your teammates tried to help you out by skating ahead of you. Basically hockey is a less retarded version of soccer.
In fact, most people don’t know this, but hockey was invented by a drunken Canadian vacationing in Mexico. “So they’re just running around chasing a ball and occasionally someone takes a shot, eh? The only way you can make this watchable is to put it on ice and let them hit each other.” And thus hockey was born.
So I’m not exactly a hockey fan – I mean, why do you need two halftimes, anyway? – but I’ve been talked into going to some games. The first two times were because they were special games to benefit breast cancer charities. Hey, I can support that. Breast cancer sucks, and I can fight it buy watching a game? Even if it’s hockey, I’ll do that every time. That would be like if someone said “Hey, would you like this delicious slice of cheesecake? By eating it, you’ll be helping cure AIDS.”
Though I’m far from a converted hockey fan, I’ve come to appreciate one aspect of the game: the shame. Hockey is a game where they love to shame people who make mistakes. During face offs, which is what they do because apparently a jump ball on ice would be dangerous, if you take a swipe at the puck too early, you have to leave. “No, sir. I’m sorry. You had your chance. Go stand over there and let your friend try to do it right.”
The same goes for the penalties. If you commit a penalty, you have to leave the ice and go sit by yourself. “You know you’re not allowed to trip, yet you did it anyway. You need a time out. Go have a seat for a few minutes and think about what you’ve done.”
I still think a lot of hockey doesn’t make sense. If you didn’t take two halftimes, you might not have to save time by substituting while the puck is in play. Who do you think you’re fooling? I’m aware that I just spent 10 minutes watching kids try to skate on the ice while I stood in line for a $9 hot dog that tastes worse than those that spend 3 days on a warmer at 7-Eleven. (Of course, that’s still more interesting than soccer.) I guess I might as well embrace hockey, though. Though Orlando is supposed to be a basketball town, I guess it’s better to watch a team with players whose names you can’t pronounce rather than a team that traded away every good player to free up cap space.
“Great news! By trading our best center, power forward, and shooting guard, who have a ton of cap room to sign free agents this offseason!”
“Good thing, because we need to find ourselves a good center, power forward, and shooting guard.”
We live in a generally accepting culture, where we understand that everyone is different and we all have our own opinions and preferences. We don’t refuse to associate with someone just because they wear flannel shirts, listen to Maroon 5 or hang their toilet paper backwards. We tolerate their different tastes. Well, usually.
There are two areas where people refuse to accept difference: drinking and dancing. I don’t drink alcohol anymore. Every time I’m out and order a nonalcoholic drink, though, I have to explain why, because saying “I don’t drink” is seen as bizarre as saying “I knit my own clothes from dead kittens.” I can’t simply say I don’t drink like I can say “I don’t like reggae.” It needs further explaining.
Oh, so are you a raging alcoholic? Did you pass out in an alley and wake up in a bathtub of ice with your liver removed?
I don’t drink because I used to make a lot of bad decisions while drinking. I was also never good about drinking responsibly so I decided that if I can’t be responsible, I won’t drink. It’s simply weighing risk-reward. That was over 3 ½ years ago and I haven’t had any alcohol since, until last night.
Last night I was at a wedding. It was a wonderful event and the ceremony and reception were both flawless. But then I was caught being different. I was sitting in my chair even though the MC very specifically told people to hit the dance floor, and we all know you must obey the MC! I tried to explain it by simply saying “I don’t dance,” but that wasn’t good enough. People don’t allow it. People will allow you to not drive, to not have children, to not vote, or to not watch TV, but they can’t let you not dance. It’s not seen as a decision so much as a bad habit they must help you break.
There’s always that one person who considers it their duty to get me dancing against my wishes. You’d never do that with anything else. Hey, I know you said you’re allergic to shellfish but that’s because you’ve never had my lobster ravioli. Here, eat up! This time it was the job of my friend Lori, who I couldn’t be mad at because she’s probably the kindest person in the world. Her main coaxing technique was pointing out what a great time I would have dancing with a specific person out on the floor.
“Come on. (Name redacted) is out there. You should dance with her!”
Of course, that would be a horrible idea. If I’m interested in (name redacted), which I never actually admitted, the last thing I can afford is for her to see me dance. You see, I don’t avoid dancing because I’m some asshole that wants to ruin your wedding. I avoid it because I am terrible at it. If I like her, I want her to see me in ways where I look good, and dancing does the opposite of that. Again, it’s risk-reward. The reward of having fun dancing with her is outweighed by the risk of having her see me as a bumbling, rhythmless embarrassment.
The only person who understood was my Evil Boss. “I totally get it,” he told me. “I got the White Man’s Disease, too, and the last thing we want is to look like that guy.” He pointed to some guy in his 20s who I assume was dancing but looked more like he was having a mild seizure. They say you should dance like no one is watching, which he definitely was. The problem is, people were watching. And judging. And I’m pretty confident he didn’t get any phone numbers that night.
I’m not saying I never dance. I have before, but no coaxing, prodding or guilt trips can get me to do it. There is only one thing that can get me to dance, and that’s booze.
“So go take some shots and get out there,” my Evil Boss said.
“I can’t,” I reminded him. “I don’t drink.”
“You don’t? Why not? What the hell is wrong with you?”
Eventually, I had to make a decision: Either break both of my rules or continue to watch other people dance while I sit in my chair. So I reacquainted myself with beer. I thought, having gone without a drop of alcohol for 3 ½ years, hard liquor was a bad idea, so I kept going to the bar for new bottles of beer. I was running out of time, though, so I had to drink fast.
After I downed enough drinks to where I was actually ready to dance, I went outside with my friends for some fresh air. When we went back inside a slow song was playing — perfect! Slow dancing is one thing I can do and as long as I don’t step on her feet I should be good! Well, it would have been perfect, that is, if that song wasn’t called “The Last Dance” and it if hadn’t been almost over.
After listening to awful songs by Usher and PSY, the first slow song of the night was the last song, and I missed it. I was finally drunk enough to dance and it was too late. I looked over at (name redacted) to see if she’d like a 30-second slow dance, but she was getting ready to leave. Folks reading at home, if you take nothing else from this, remember the moral of the story: that DJ sucked.
(For never before seen footage of me dancing, click here).
It’s time to make a New Year’s Resolution. At least, that’s what I’m told. I’ve never actually made one. I’ve always skipped that tradition thus far because I know me, so I know I will never keep any resolution that I make. I’ve been on Chapter 2 of my novel all year long, it took me 6 years to get a bachelor’s degree because I kept dropping out and then deciding to go back, and I’ve never had a relationship last longer than 2 years, so I’m not exactly known for sticking with things.
This year I thought I was off the hook, but it seems you can’t count on those Mayans for anything. With the fresh start that accompanies the world not ending, I decided I want to make my first New Year’s Resolution. The problem is, because I have no experience, I don’t know what to resolve. So I decided to use this blog to brainstorm for resolution ideas.
Go to the gym every day. My gym attendance slacked off considerably over the last few months, so I’d like to get back to being consistent. I could resolve to go every day. Well, not every day. You need rest days. So every other day. Except for those days when I’m too tired from work. And holidays don’t count, of course.
Finish my novel. I was hoping to complete the first draft this year, but it turns out actually sitting down and writing is an integral part of the process. Not that I didn’t write during the year, but it was mostly blogs, stuff for work, letters to Russian brides, and the like. The problem is after a long day at work, I don’t feel like writing; I feel like
hanging myself sleeping. I could try writing the novel in my sleep. It would have to still be better than that E.L. James book.
Read the Bible daily. This year was the first time that I have read the entire Bible, every page, every verse, every word – even words like Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz. I should keep that going this year to make sure I read every day and complete the whole book again. Well, not the whole thing. Since I’ve already read it, I can skip things like all of the “begats” and the census stuff, right? I mean, surely I don’t need to know how many people were in the tribe of Issachar, right?
Give my dog more exercise. I love my puppy, but she’s so demanding, insisting that she be allowed to do things other than sit around the house all day. Sorry, but I have to work during the day. Don’t you think I’d rather lie around, take naps, and chew on shoes? When I get home from the office, I don’t feel like taking my dog for a run; I feel like
hanging myself sleeping. I used to take her to the local dog park, but then I realized that, contrary to what I had hoped, it is not the local hangout spot for all of the area’s hot girls. I have gotten to know a lot of nice old ladies, though, so it’s not a total loss. I could use their help because it’s cold right now and I don’t know how to knit a sweater.
Be a more productive worker. I know my boss would like me to be more efficient. The problem is I spend a lot of my time in the office thinking about
hanging myself sleeping. I should stop that and learn to appreciate having a job so I can do it to the best of my ability. To that end, I should definitely leave the law firm and get a job somewhere else. So add “spend more time on Monster.com” to my resolution list.
Have more sex. I’d like to have more sex in 2013. Preferably on a regular basis with the same person. And preferably for more than just 2013. Okay, that might sound like I’m looking for a long-term relationship. But that’s totally not what I mean, because that doesn’t sound like a cool, manly New Year’s Resolution, does it?
Waste less time. In 2012, I occasionally used my time to do something good. In fact, I never enjoyed myself more than when doing volunteer work, whether for my church or a local charity. Unfortunately, doing something productive with my time takes time away from watching TV, reading about whomever Lindsay Lohan hit with her car lately, watching random people do whatever dance is the current viral video, and finding out how many different things Katy Perry has worn on her boobs. It’s hard to use my time wisely as long as I have cable. In fact, right now as I have something I should be doing for work. But let’s face it, if I didn’t like wasting my time, would I have a blog?
By now, you should realize that keeping any of these resolutions is hopeless, especially the one about finishing my novel. Why, I’m not even going to bother finishing this post.
Though many people love Halloween, I’m not sure how I feel about it. It is definitely not the same as when I was a kid. When you’re a kid, Halloween is all about dressing up as your favorite character and getting as much candy as you can. You then do your best to trigger early diabetes by eating enough candy while watching the Simpsons Tree House of Horror to put you into a coma.
When you’re a teenager, it’s about pretending you’re too cool to dress up and ask for candy, but doing it anyway while claiming that you’re just casing the neighborhood while deciding whose house to egg. How do you know whose house to egg? It’s that guy who asked “aren’t you a little old to be trick-or-treating?” You also watch lots of horror movies and probably get drunk at a Halloween party (oops, forget that part, since you’re underage and drinking would have been illegal!).
My favorite Halloween experiences as a teen were working at a haunted house. A friend spent months building a haunted house on his property and he was so good that, aside from Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights, he might have had the best in the state. I then spent the night scaring people, which is fun, except for middle school boys. As a rule, every boy who is middle-school aged is a douchebag. They are all required to a) show that they’re not scared, b) ruin every scare for everyone else, and c) be annoying enough that you want to hit them. So what did I do about that? I hit them.
You see, Universal Studios may not let their frighteners lay hands on customers out of fear of a lawsuit, but my friend didn’t feel that way. I roughed up any d-bag kid who was causing problems in the haunted house. Some got an elbow, some got tripped, but they were all punished. To be honest, it was kind of fun.
As an adult, it’s different. Halloween as an adult is all about dressing slutty and getting drunk. I have nothing against dressing slutty (more on that later), but I don’t really drink anymore (long story). So I’m not really sure what I’m supposed to do on October 31.
For a while, I just looked at it as the day I get to fill up on candy corn all day long. I usually didn’t even dress up and go to Halloween parties because, well, I don’t like dressing up. It’s not that I’m opposed to wearing a costume, it’s just that I don’t like paying for a costume, and I don’t have the skills to make my own.
As an adult, girls take advantage of Halloween to dress as slutty as possible because it is the one day where it is perfectly acceptable to look like a stripper:
“So how do I look?”
“That costume is barely covering you. If you move too abruptly, there’s a good chance of a nip slip.”
“Perfect, I’ll take it!”
I totally support this feminist expression of liberation; in fact, I don’t see why dressing as a slutty princess or superheroine can’t be done every day. The problem is that for guys, the costumes suck. Why can’t I have a slutty Halloween costume to wear? I mean, is it too much to ask for sexy costume that shows off my ass?
Instead, I go the opposite direction and put as little effort into my costume as possible. Two years ago, my costume was Facebook, which was literally writing the word “book” on my face (a nod to The Office). The year before that I went as a street musician and sat outside my office, dressed like a bum, playing songs on the guitar. The most effort I’ve ever put into a concert was last year when I went as a hipster Occupy Wall Street protester. The thing I took away from that experience is I have no idea how those guys can wear skinny jeans regularly. This year I have no clue what I’m going to be for Halloween, but I know it won’t be anything exciting.
Maybe it doesn’t matter. I’ll have whatever random thing has been made into pumpkin flavor – whether it be donuts, bagels, Hershey’s Kisses, or brownies. I’ll watch some movie scary enough to give me nightmares – possibly Deuce Bigalow. And I’ll get to see what me female friends would be like if they were total sluts. I guess you really can’t expect more from a holiday than that.
Halloween is coming up and one of the great tropes of the holiday is the haunted house. It is one that is particularly appealing to me right now because I recently bought a house after months of house hunting. As I explored various houses, I turned them down for many reasons, but never because I heard a creepy voice or because dishes flew across the kitchen while I was touring the room. Honestly, I think haunted houses get a bad rap because people focus on the negative.
People just focus on the ugly side of haunted houses: the murders, the terror, the creepy stuff that happens in Paranormal Activity. There can be benefits of a haunted house, though. Consider the TV show American Horror Story. The “evil” haunted house took care of a kid that was bullying the girl, a guy in a gimp suit had sex with the wife, and a ridiculously hot maid constantly teased the husband. Granted, in context those things are bad. The bully was terrified and almost killed, the wife thought she was having sex with her own husband, and the husband is a former adulterer who is constantly tempted to cheat on his wife. Still, in a different context a ghost that protects you, a ghost that has sex with you, and a hot ghost that teases you can be a good thing, right?
I would like to think that the spirits occupying a haunted house can be reasoned with. As soon as people realize a house is haunted, they freak out and try to get rid of the spirits. Well, wouldn’t that piss you off? After all, the ghosts were there first!
“Can you believe this new family? You flicker a few lights and open a few creaky doors and suddenly they want to evict us?”
“I know! And what’s worse, they have terrible taste! Can you believe the color they painted the kitchen?”
What if instead the family embraces the guests and simply asks them to pay rent? You can even get the supernatural displays to work for you. Does the ghost like moving dishes around? Get it to help you clean the kitchen. Does the ghost like levitating the bed? That can come in handy when you are vacuuming. Does the ghost like to rattle chains, moan and make other scary noises? That can be a good way to get Jehovah’s Witnesses to stop knocking on your door. The key is to learn the interests of your ghost and figure out a way that the spirit can channel those interests in a constructive way.
On Halloween, people love to create fake “haunted houses.” Universal Studios makes tons of money by creating spooky houses. I wonder what the ghosts that really haunt houses think of that. I mean, people dislike them so much that they refuse to live with the real ghosts, yet in October they will pay to go in a fake recreation of a haunted house. That’s probably quite offensive.
I imagine there are some hipster ghosts that ironically haunt on Halloween, though. The family puts in spooky music and jumps out at the kids in bad costumes as a way of scaring them in the “haunted house.” Meanwhile, the real ghosts appear as humans dressed as ghosts and do a terrible job of trying to scare kids, all as an ironic statement on the concept of the haunted house. Then they sit around drinking PBR and laughing about the stereotypes.
“Dude, when have you ever met a ghost who actually rattles chains?”
“I know, man. That’s such a cliché.”