Category Archives: Uncategorized

Seeing Other People

It’s not you, it’s me. I’m sorry, but I’ve been cheating on you, personal blog. I met someone else, and her name is That Fecund Feeling. Take a look…ain’t she purty?

Fecund

 

http://www.ThatFecundFeeling.com

Yes, this is where I’ll be writing from here on out. Please, please, don’t cry. I’ll still see you in my dreams. Forever and ever amen.

 

Goodbye.

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Spoiler Alert: Teenagers Get Sad

When I was 19, I would put band-aids on my wrists. Three or four on each. I’d stack them up, giving the illusion that something expansive and horrific was lurking underneath. But there were no cuts, no bloody wounds. I was fine. With my sleeves rolled up ever-so-subtly, I’d go out with my friends, waiting for the moment for someone to go, “Oh my god, what happened?” Only for me to respond, “Oh, don’t worry about it.” This was the most obvious cry for help in the history of woe-is-me behavior. I could have worn a shirt emblazoned with “I’M SAD, PLEASE TALK TO ME ABOUT MY SADNESS,” and spared myself the cost of boxes of padded latex.

What’s perhaps more pitiful is that nobody ever asked about them. I received one sarcastic, “…and Leathers over here is cutting himself,” and that was the end of it. No one was going to take the bait, so I stopped, having convinced myself that I was just being whiny. Given that I had already earned the nickname “Whinyberg,” this was an easy conclusion to reach. But looking back on it, that was most definitely a mistake. This was fucked up behavior. I don’t believe I would have seriously hurt myself – mostly because I’m an enormous coward – but the ideas had a way of seeping into my head.

That’s all they were, though: ideas. Thoughts a lonely person has. Thoughts that lead to things like spending your birthday crying in an Applebee’s bathroom, upset over your friends’ lack of decorum in the finest of dining establishments.

Things like driving around neighborhoods late at night, jumping train tracks at unsafe speeds. Stopping to slash a tire on a random car, for no reason other than it felt completely justified. These people, in their two-story model homes, had found success. They had earned their luxury cars. And then there was me. A quasi-privileged white guy who had freshly earned the standing of academic suspension, being unceremoniously kicked out of college. They needed to feel loss — it was only healthy for their emotional growth. Obviously.

This was the tipping point for what kind of man I would become. I could talk to somebody, begin to understand why I was unhappy, why I was acting like a complete dipshit; or, I could submit to the idea that I was forever insufferable and live a life of unrealized potential.

I chose the latter.

At the time, I was unaware there was a choice, or that one had been made. In fact, I was under the impression that life would cure itself. Getting back into school was a thing that would magically happen; the girl I was dating would be there no matter how poorly I treated her; and my parents would support me until I qualified for social security (roughly, 2045). This was an inoperable case of naivety.

I spent the next several years floating through my days. Life was what you could call, “asi asi,” which is the only thing I remember from 6 years of spanish classes, further proving how little effort I ever put forth. I was, however, no longer putting on a vaudevillian show of sadsackery. No more bandages, no more crying in public. I suppose it was enough to be in school (community college) and have a handful of friends who seemed to appreciate my presence. Besides, I had that safety net made of loving girlfriends and moneybag parents that would never disappear.

My twenties, on the other hand, dissipated before I had a chance to say, “Hey, where do you think you’re going? Oh, into the history books at the Bag of Shit Hall of Fame? Sounds about right.”  To give myself some credit, and not just polish my plaque at that mythical hall of infame,  I did eventually finish college, even earning a graduate degree in the process. Aaaaand to immediately snatch away that credit, by the time my flawless academic career was over, I found myself at 29, making minimum wage behind a cash register. Unrealized potential, indeed.

Here’s where this story, that has no doubt made you want to take a nap, begins to serve a purpose. My point is not to publish my diary for all to read (actually, my LiveJournal from 2003 is already there, if anybody feels like killing me). I don’t want you to feel sorry for my past, because I certainly don’t. Everything I went through – the nights alone, the feelings of isolation – happened to lead me to this point, to how I’m feeling right now. And how am I feeling, you probably said out loud just now? Well, again, I’ve found myself crying. But this time, I’ve never felt more loved, more worthwhile, more proud to be who I am.

I’m 32-years old. 13 years removed from that December night where I mocked the genuinely suicidal.  13 years removed from a time when accomplishing anything besides watching a Jim Carrey movie 25 times felt like an impossibility. I’m 32-years old, and for possibly the first time, I feel like I’m someone to be admired.

This past weekend, I ran a half-marathon. 13.1 miles. “Big deal,” says every athlete ever. To that I would respond, “Yes, you have lovely abs and admirable buttocks, but please let me have this one thing.” This one thing, this two hours on a Saturday in Baltimore, feels like a do-over on that tipping point in 1999.

As short as four months ago, it seemed insane that I could find the dedication to finish a race of that distance. Running for more than five minutes at a time was comparable to seeing your great aunt Lucy naked. I, personally, don’t have a great aunt Lucy, but I bet all the great aunts Lucy in this world are ghastly sans clothes. Whether it was lightly jogging for 300 seconds, or walking in on an octogenarian in the tub, I was going to end up puking.

I set a goal that appeared insurmountable, and in the end, I made it seem downright easy. Instead of saying, “That’s out of my reach,” I actually moved forward until I was choking that goal until it tapped out. What I’m trying to say is I’m basically an MMA fighter. Basically.

All those years ago, I refused to understand why I was unhappy. It was just par for the course; whatever will be, will continue to be. Today, I understand that a part of me will always be cynical, easy to give up if given the chance. Once you recognize that part of your personality, you understand how to shove it down back into the hole. It’s my zombie self: it’ll never die, but I can bash it in the face with a shovel until it stops moving for a bit.

And I think that is my awkward advice for all the glum chums out there: just keep swinging away with that shovel. Take your shots and get to running. Get some distance between you and that rotting corpse. And, perhaps more importantly, you don’t have to do it alone. You never have to do it alone. Without the amazing support system that rah-rah’d me from training through the finish line, I could have quit months ago. These are people I did not want to let down. They believed in me, even when I didn’t. Find your support group. Whether it’s a running team or a licensed therapist, just find it. I had to silently suffer for years until I felt some form of victory. Today, I find myself living in New York City. I have an amazing job. I’m surrounded by people that understand my faults and care for me anyway. And I just ran 13.1 miles. 19-year old me is smiling.

And if I hear that any of you spent your birthday crying greasy tears at a Fudruckers, dabbing your eyes with a potato skin-soaked napkin, I’m going to be furious. Don’t make me hit you in the head with a shovel.

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Flight Attending My Own Funeral

When you’re unemployed for a lengthy chunk of time – let’s say, over six months – your brain starts to wander as far as your “career goals” are concerned. No longer are you waiting on that perfect writing job – instead, you’ve started to look into the eyes of the bodega cashier with a jealous intensity. How’d they get that cushy gig? Who’s their father? Nepotism has taken over the Fifth Avenue Stop n’ Shop.

During the heart of the recession in 2009, I was one of those people, resorting to calling the Better Business Bureau on places that wouldn’t take my resume. I wasn’t completely desperate, as I never took a job that required a hair net, but I was applying for gigs that wouldn’t have crossed my mind a few months before. Five a day, that was my rule. I had to apply to at least five jobs or the day was wasted. Security guard, mailroom clerk, dental dam tester, puppet dry-cleaner, human yoga mat: done, call it a day.

But my favorite job posting that eventually rejected me, out of what had to be hundreds, was for a flight attendant position at Southwest Airlines. I will always remember applying to this, because I audibly said, “This is how my life will end,” without a drip of irony. Not that I could never see myself flying the not-so-friendly skies, handing out double scotches to business-types, but working for a company that herds customers like alpacas with head injuries? No, thanks.

Shockingly, I never heard back from the always-reliable folks at Southwest. This was actually manna from heaven, because I would have taken that job and slowly turned into a self-loathing lesbian in a vest and high-rise chinos. I mean no offense to all you nice Vesties out there, but it just wasn’t my destiny.

But what this story presupposes is, maybe it was (h/t, Eli Cash). What if I was supposed to become that high-flier with a bleached updo? My life’s course was headed down its intended path, but something went awry. Maybe a recruiter with a severe nut allergy got caught in the crossfire of an impromptu bag o’ peanuts fight at the office, which we know happens almost daily at all major airline headquarters. My resume was at the top of her pile, only to be discarded when she never recovered (R.I.P. Lady I Just Made Up).

Let’s just say, for the sake of this flimsy premise, that she called in sick that day, or hadn’t run out of EpiPens. How would I have blended into that world? Would it have been an easy transition? Would I have lasted more than a month? What’s that? We can find out right now with a poorly thought-out scene? How lucky!

DEATH OF A STEWARD
A ONE-ACT PLAY BY MATTHEW LEATHERS

INT. BOEING 737 – DAY

We’re on a cross-country flight to Las Vegas. The cabin is completely full, bursting with people ready for a weekend of fun, sun, and buns (i.e., butts). Matthew the Steward is preparing the drink cart when a passenger calls out.

DRUNK GUY:
Hey, stewardess!

Matthew hears, but ignores.

DRUNK GUY:
Stewwwwwwwwardess!

Ignores further, growing annoyed.

DRUNK GUY:
I seeee you, Stewardess. Bring those tight slacks over here.

Matthew turns around.

DRUNK GUY:
Stewie, stewie, steweeeehoolly shit! She’s a dude!

DRUNK GUY’S FRIEND:
Still want to hit that, bro?

Drunk Guy pauses, notices Matthew’s dainty physique, pauses again.

DRUNK GUY:
..Hell, no, bro! I like tits. LADY tits.

DRUNK GUY’S FRIEND:
I also love tits!

They high-five, letting their fingertips linger for a second.

DRUNK GUY:
Com’ere, stewardess bro.

Matthew walks over, teeth clinched in a dead smile.

MATTHEW:
How can I help you, sir?

DRUNK GUY:

I see you working the booze cart there. Not that I was checkin’ you out or nothin’, because I love tits – LADY tits – but could you do us a solid real quick?

MATTHEW:
(hesitant)
What would you like, sir?

DRUNK GUY:
You see those two broads at the front? The ones with the bangin’ backends?

MATTHEW:
You’ll have to be more specific.

DRUNK GUY:
Jesus, bro! You blind? The ones with the asses that satisfy the masses!
(turns to his friend)
This guy’s balls ain’t dropped.

The friend shakes his head sadly, staring at Matthew’s crotch, as if to say, “et tu, brute?”

MATTHEW:
Oh, THOSE two women. The ones with the butts you like.

DRUNK GUY:
Yeah, go give them a shot of Jäger, tell ’em it’s from the Poon Patrol back in row 18.

MATTHEW:
Sorry, but we don’t have any Jägermeister. Anything else? Glass of wine, maybe?

DRUNK GUY:

NO JÄGER?!? You hearin’ this, bro? This shitbox airline ain’t got no Jäger!

DRUNK GUY’S FRIEND:
(shaking head)
It’s Obama’s America. We’re just livin’ in it.

(30 seconds of silence)

DRUNK GUY:
(sighing under his breath)
Obama’s America.

Matthew turns to leave, thinking the conversation is over.

DRUNK GUY:
Whooa, buddy, these gals still need to get filled up with panty dropper juice. You gotta any Jäger Bombs?

MATTHEW:
Sir, there’s still no Jägermeister on board this aircraft.

DRUNK GUY:
I heard ya, buddy. I asked for a Jäger BOMB. Your brain on the fritz? That’s a whole different drink   from the Red Bull Corporational Institute.

MATTHEW:
Sir, please don’t yell “bomb” while on the aircraft, and we still don’t have any products of any kind with “Jäger” in the title.

DRUNK GUY:
(grows angry)
Hey, watch yer mouth, Peggy Pantsuit. What do I look like to you….a turban-eating terrorist?

MATTHEW:
No, no, I meant nothing of the sort, although I don’t think terrorists eat turbans. I apologize. Let me get some Pinot for the ladies at the front.

Matthew goes back to the front to pour the drinks. He turns around to find the man standing in front of him.

DRUNK GUY:
Gimme them drinks, Sally Strap-On. I don’t trust you to get the party started. I bet you never even been to Cabo Wabo and partied with Sammy Hagar. While I HAVE, and it was AWESOME. The Red Rocker even said hello to me, said, “You’re standing on my foot.” It. Was. Epic. You look more like half-a-gal that couldn’t crush a shot of ‘quila without yakking in yer purse.

MATTHEW:
You’re probably right, sir. Have fun serving five-to-ten for sexual assault.

DRUNK GUY:
Dang right, I’m right. I’m always rig….what’d you say?!

MATTHEW:
I said, “Have fun in Vegas, I hope you win five-to-ten grand.”

DRUNK GUY:
Ahhh, yeah man, dang right I’ll break the bank. I saw that documentary “Rain Man” last night. Dude could count cards like nobody’s business! I’m just as smart as that bro, for sure.

MATTHEW:
I could tell right away, sir. Have a good trip.

The plane lands. Matthew goes to his hotel and jumps off the balcony, screaming “DEAR GOD, MAKE ME A BIRD, SO I COULD FLY FAR, FAR AWAY FROM HERE.” He dies.

Fin.

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A Letter to the 7 Eleven Employee Who Gave Me Extra Potato Wedges

Dear Night Manager Greg,

I understand that you felt that you were doing me a favor when you “gave me a few extra” potato wedges with my order. You certainly didn’t have to be considerate. If I were in the employ of a convenience store, I would go the extra mile to not create smiles on the faces of strangers. You are the bigger man. And here therein lies the problem: you’re trying to make me your bigger man apprentice. Literally and figuratively.

I had already shamed my family — generations of pale, thin-framed Anglos — by deciding to get dinner from your store. I live in Brooklyn, where one could literally find anything to eat if they were willing to put in the effort. You want Ethiopian? No problem. Vegan tacos? Definitely. Freshly maimed alpaca? Yessiryoubetcha. It’s all around, the world is your oyster, a freshly shucked bucket of them. So it takes a certain type of asshole to walk into a 7 Eleven and get genuinely excited to see fried foodstuffs mildly toasting under a red lamp.

“2 for $2? Is it my birthday? I’ll take twelve, good sir!” I squealed with delight.

I suppose you could sense my enthusiasm, not that it wasn’t bursting at the seams, like so much pants. You proceeded to pluck the finest of Corn Dog Rollers© with the delicacy of an obstetrician extracting a newborn from a mother’s netherest of regions.

You selected the MVP of Buffalo Chicken Go-Go Taquitos©, giving a quick wink in my direction, which I gladly accepted and etched onto the tablet of my heart.

Then came the potato wedges. Oh, the potato wedges. They were the Arc de Triomphe of my order, the Starry Starry Night of my appetite, there to satisfy in ways only God Himself could understand. There’s a reason why you’re in charge of this corner store, obviously, because when you saw me light up like a hot-air balloon when you reached for the potato tongs, a knowing smile graced your lips.

You thought to yourself, “This guy works hard, with his pressed slacks and slouched shoulders. He deserves your kindness, Greg. Pay it forward.”

I watched eagerly, like a puppy peering at a bowl being filled on a countertop, as you continued to pile wedges into a tiny box.

“Is that one going to fit? Oh, I hope it does,” I thought, knowing full well you’d make the room.

One-by-one you placed those bountiful spuds upon their brethren, going on for what felt like hours. And as you closed the lid, I felt an odd sense of relief, like there was just too much beauty surrounding this infinite world for one man to handle.

You clicked it shut, looked deep within my shaken eyes, and said, “I gave you a few extra,” like I wasn’t already keenly aware of your good grace.

It was at this moment that I felt loss, a deep sense of longing that had never before entered my soul. What else had I been missing all this time? Why did it take 31 years for me to witness an act of authentic compassion? Did I deserve what was just given to me? So many times have I passed those on the street that very blatantly needed my help: homeless families, lost dogs, ladies with brand-new haircuts yet to be complimented, babies in need of cheek pinchings, etc.

With these questions buzzing around my feeble mind, I could not enjoy my expertly prepared meal. Every bite felt greedy, full of the tears of the less-thans. Not to mention the grease that was burning the roof of my mouth. That didn’t help.

I spent an hour trying to choke down the last of those wedges, dabbing the moisture from my eyes, and the oily substance congealing on the corner of my mouth. It was a humbling experience. The kind that leads men to madness or monasteries. If I wasn’t a sex addict, the latter would have found me.

So explains the reason for this correspondence. You need to know that your actions have consequences, good intentions or no. I don’t want this information to lay heavy in your mind; this was not my goal. Simply, the next time a simple-minded sort walks into your store, maybe skimp them a little. They’ll be subdued by these actions, maybe even respect you for them. Also, you’ll delay their heart attack/diabetes by a few days. Their children will thank you.

You’re great at your job, Greg. Possibly the best to ever do the work. I’ll speak of you to future generations, making you immortal.

With respect and heartburn,
Matthew

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Deadbeat

There’s no excuse for the lack of attention given to this blog.

But I’m going to give you several anyway.

1. My online presence is off the charts, son! Between Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and my extremely active Ashley Madison account (Life is short. Have an affair.™), I just haven’t felt the need to express myself in long-form, unless that long form belonged to a married woman.

2. I got a new job in the Fall that has me racking my head trying to fill a Word document 8 hours a day. When I get home during the week, and all throughout the weekend, the last thing I want to do is stare at a blinking cursor as I attempt (read: fail) to spill out some more thought garbage.

3. Life is kind of boring. I rely on crazy happenings for ideas, and, frankly, things have been kind of Paul Walker around here. Nobody has pushed me down a flight of stairs, nor have I pushed someone down a flight of stairs. This is the longest stair-incident drought of my life; it’s unprecedented.

4. So what, who cares?

Take all these excuses, mash ’em up and turn ’em into a stew, because they’re chock full of meaty nonsense. I should have been writing more; end of story. But excuse #3 still has a smidge of validity — wanting to write doesn’t mean ideas will immediately present themselves. So I took the coward’s way out, using a page out of excuse #1’s handbook, and requested ideas through Facebook. Thankfully, I have a lot of friends that are always willing to help out. Unthankfully, I have a lot of friends that apparantly hate me. A large chunk of their suggestions could only have manifested in their unadulturated loathing of my existence. I thought we were cool; I apologized for that thing I did that one time, right? That’s what I get for giving power to the people. I should have Gaddafi’d this thing instead. I look great all robed out. 

But I knew what I was getting myself into — and this I promised you — so I’m going to go through these suggestions in the order they came in, and, hopefully, they won’t be so terrible that you print out a copy just to spit on it. Don’t do that, guys. If anything, you’re just wasting paper.

So look for Part 1 of my “Screw You Guys and Your Ideas” series in the coming days. That name I came up with all by myself, thank you very much.

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Two Sentence Review: Terminator Salvation

My debut film was by Spielberg and twenty years later I'm hanging out with a guy named McG? Wow.

My debut film was by Spielberg and twenty years later I'm hanging out with a guy named McG? Wow

YOU’RE A NICE GUY, CHRISTIAN, YOU’RE A NICE GUY! OHHHHH, GOOD FOR YOOUUUUUU, BUT YOU AND ME, MAN, WE ARE DONE PROFESSIONALLY!

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Two Sentence Review: “Sunshine Cleaning”

If Amy Adams should ever happen to need a montage of scenes with her in her delicates, then she should probably just pop in this DVD and call it a night. Also, the push up bra: great invention, or, greatest invention?

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Review: Crossroads Community Church 11/23/08

I’ve spent the last five years of my life studying religion. To be more specific, I’ve spent the last five years trying to figure out why people are religious. Why is religion important to one person and not the next? Why is religion constant throughout the centuries? What am I missing out on if I don’t adhere to a particular faith? Eventually, I narrowed down my research to interfaith communications, on the idea that, dag gone it, people need to get along. They don’t necessarily need to like each other — none of that kumbaya nonsense — but simply agree to disagree. I mean, I get it, you (religious guy) want them (other religious guys) to follow your faith, perhaps because of their eternal souls and achieving salvation and all that, yadda, yadda, yadda. You’re just looking out for the rest of humanity. It’s positive stuff. I like missionaries, just not the pushy kind.

Then there are those that think the non-believers are out to defame their faith, and will do anything, and I mean anything,to defend it. These are the people I most want to reach out to with that olive branch of peace. I take pride in the fact that I can see through almost any lens and understand why that point of view is how it is. Wait, that was worded strangely, let me start over: I can usually understand why people think the way they think. If you believe God is a mermaid that shoots laser beams through Her bosoms, then okay, that’s what you believe. Through the years, you eventually came to this decision, and I respect that. I don’t necessarily agree with it, but I’m okay with it. I don’t agree with racism, but I can understand how a person came to be racist. Maybe it’s because of their parents, their childhood, events in their life, etc. It’s not an outcome I approve of, but I can see how it happened. Capiche?

It’s because of this that I personally will probably never settle on a clear set of doctrine or specific religious mindset. There’s just too much out there. Too many ideas swirling around the old noggin. But more significantly, I’ll never narrow myself down, because I’m too busy finding conflicts with my point of view. Should I become a Buddhist? Love the eightfold path and the idea of achieving Nibbana, but reincarnation? Can’t have it, Siddhartha. Sorry. Should I become a Christian? Big fan of the beatitudes and that Jesus guy, but the works of St. Paul and Revelation? Not buying it. Too negative and too contradictory of that guy you’re supposed to be following. What about Hinduism? Don’t get me started, it’s all just too complicated. It’s hard enough following one god. Mormonism? Sadly, my views are quite antagonistic with every facet of this faith. Can’t be helped. The list goes on and on.

It’s unfortunate that I usually have to dwell on the negatives, but with their presence, I’ll never be able to consider myself a religious person. Every church I attend, I’ll eventually find a reason to never go back. I’m much more adapt at observing, trying to learn what makes people tick. So when I find myself at a new church, I know it’ll probably be a one, perhaps two, time deal; paying attention is pivotal to truly understanding the environment. I’m there to take notes, to focus on the actions of the congregation, on the words of the speakers, on the style of the music and worship. All of this is vital to coming to a specific conclusion.

On this particular occasion, I found myself at Crossroads Community Church. My good friend Lauren usually goes by herself (also the quiet, note taking type), so I asked if I could tag along, see what all the hubbub was about. For the uninformed, Crossroads is your local mega-church, but with a pinch of youthful hipness thrown in. The Harvard Institute for Religion Research (google search, y’alls) lists their weekly attendance at around eight thousand. This seems about right, because traffic was a little bit of what we in the business call a “clusterf$$k.” Standstill traffic kind of ruins any spiritual awakening you may have discovered inside the building. Especially when other parishioners are cutting you off and staring you down like you just called their mother a hobo.

But, honestly, this was the only major negative I found on that brisk Sunday morning, and with a church this size, there really isn’t much they can do to better the situation. And while we’re being honest, I should say that my opinion of the “mega-church” has never been a nice one. I’m of the spiritual mindset that intimacy is key, as is a personal relationship with the congregation. If one wants to connect with God on a deep level, they must connect with people on a deep level. The issue here is can this be accomplished when you’re in a room the size of a basketball arena and you have never met 90% of your fellow worshippers, nonetheless the pastor.

Crossroads began to win me over before I even stepped foot in the building. At their website, under the “Is This Really a Church?” page, I found the following:

We believe a building is just a building and that the true church can be just as small as a few people in a living room or as big as all-the-people-across-the-world-through-all-time-that-have-a-relationship-with-Jesus. But one thing we hold fast is Church = People.

And boom goes the dynamite! That’s exactly what I’m talking about. Part of me doesn’t want to get past the fact that, well, you say Church = People, but does that equation still hold up when Church = 8000 People? This is the cynic in me. The church grew to this size on purpose, not by accident. If they wanted to remain a close-knit group, then they would have. But the humanist in me is screaming, “A gathering of people that communes for a positive reason cannot be wrong, no matter how large the size!” This is what stands out for me. A church can be 3 people, or it can be 3 million, the definition still stands. By a technicality, you might be strangers with most of the crowd, simply because you’ve never met face to face, but you’re still connected by one common thread: a devotion to togetherness and ekklesia. This is highly evident in the simple fact that “community” is part of the title, and not “Christian.” Perhaps “Crossroads Christian Church” didn’t sound inclusive enough; who knows but the think tank that chose the name. But what is apparent is this is a place built by strong connections. If you don’t believe in God, then so be it. Just stop on by and make some new friends anyway. Interesting.

As for the actual service, it was, in a word, serviceable. Nothing out of the ordinary, as far as contemporary non-denominational churches go.

  • Theme: Since it was the Sunday before Thanksgiving, the topic up for discussion was……..being thankful! Be grateful for what you have, not angry about what you don’t have. Wash, rinse, repeat. (Side note: the pastor probably should not have said he was thankful for the poor economy, because it allowed him to buy a truck at a low cost. Whoops.)
  • Music: Here was another contemporary service with a five-piece rock band as sing-a-long leader. Nothing out of the ordinary there. Speaking of ordinary, I’ve been to a lot of different churches over the last half-decade, and no matter where I am, the same damned two songs are played: “Enough” and “God of Wonders,” by some guy named Chris Tomlin. I hate Chris Tomlin. I want him to stop. There HAS to be more out there that praise and worship groups can play. Give me five minutes, and I’ll write you a new jam. Now give me my royalties. But to be fair, the band was actually pretty good. They put some personal twists on those songs, which were good enough to keep me from jumping off the balcony, John Wilkes Booth style.
  • Speaker: Going along with the relaxed atmosphere, the pastor looked like your cool uncle. You know, sweater from Banana Republic, relaxed jeans, boots, cracking jokes left and right. He fit in with the crowd, who were, by the way, also young and hip. It looked like a beard and scarf convention in that place. So, minus the beard (hormone disorder!), I actually felt like I fit in a little bit with my jeans, Urban Outfitters scarf, and biting witticisms. He spoke effortlessly, never stumbled over his words, and managed to connect with the hundreds in the crowd. He managed to include every last person by having them repeat a mantra of gratitude. This begins to prove wrong my theory that a face-to-face relationship is necessary for a strong spiritual connection. Touche, sir. You win this round. One bit of advice, you are allowed to leave the stage when the band plays. Watching you rock out while sitting on a stool was somewhat distracting.
  • Christianity?: Oh, Christianity. The 800 lb. gorilla in the room. Some of you by this point (1500 words in) might be wondering, “What does any of this have to do with Jesus?” And you know what, I left that enormous complex not even sure if He had anything to do with anything. There were a few bible verses thrown out here and there, one or two prayers that had the word “Jesus” in them, but did it feel like a praise and worship service focused on Jesus Christ? Not really.

A deep thinking theologian, unlike myself, would have been driven crazy by every bullet point listed above, especially the last one. You will not find a church entrenched in liturgy, or complex doctrine, or deep contemplative thought. Well, this isn’t your Great Aunt Margaret’s First Baptist Church. There will be no rising up with snakes. It’s definitely not for everyone. As someone interested in humanist issues, it’s more so geared toward people like me. The endless amount of free coffee helped, too. I’m not going to take that leap and say this is a borderline Christian church. That would be insulting to the church and its attendees. If you are of the ilk that thinks “liturgy or biblical study = Christian church,” then that’s your bag. Take it and run with it. There just happens to be another set of Christians that follow the “community of Jesus lovers = Christian church.” I can appreciate this point of view. It’s to be admired. Especially since you won’t find anything hateful or exclusive in that building.

Admiration aside, would I go back? Certainly, if I were invited. Again, I’ll never fully dedicate myself to a church, or even a religious faith, so regular attendance is a no-go. Don’t take this as a slight on the church and its followers. Take it as one man’s refusal to make a decision.

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An Exclusive Interview – Joe the Plumber

The star of last night’s last presidential debate was not someone you would have expected. The name on the lips of every American this morning is neither Obama nor McCain. No, the celebrity of the moment is from Toledo, OH, and it’s not due to vehicular manslaughter or any similar reason a Ohioan might make national news. Due to the consistent dropping of his name during the ninety minute verbal slugfest, one Joe the Plumber is now the most famous pipe-slinger since Mario and Luigi.

Luckily, we are also located in the great* state of Ohio, giving a personal connection to Mr. The Plumber. When phone contact was made, we introduced ourselves with a hearty “HOLY TOLEDO,” mixed in with an “EFF MICHIGAN,” and we were suddenly best buds with Joe, the apparent down home, open book, blue collar worker, who’s mad as hell, and he’s not going to take it anymore. The following is a transcript of our conversation:

Mindless Comfort: Hey, Joe, how’s it swingin’ these days?

Joe the Plumber: To and fro, you know how it is.

MC: Boy, do I!! There’s a little less swing in my coin purse due to a lack of weight, if you catch my drift. This darn economy.

JtP: Exactly. It’s hard out there for a guy like me these days. That’s why I had to take it to Barack at the rally last week.

MC: I understand. You’ve worked hard over the years, barely scrapping by on a worker’s wage, and now this new-fangled Chicago politician wants to take away what you’ve earned.

JtP: I haven’t put my hands in places rats don’t dare to tread for nothin’. What’s mine is mine.

MC: I don’t blame you, honestly. If the opportunity to confront the man who may have the ability to take away a chunk of your change, then you take that opportunity. Have your voice heard.

JtP: Exactly. I went down to that rally and spoke my mind. My question for him was simple, “Why do you want to take away my Mercedes, my bottles of Cristal?”

MC: Wait, what?

JtP: I looked him square in his beady, “There’s no way you’re not an Arab,” little eyes, and I said, “You ain’t taking away my winter home in Telluride. Not on my watch.”

MC: Hold on a secon….

JtP: …and most importantly, how are my kids supposed to eat if President Obama takes away their kobe beef? What are they going to live on, deli meats? Screw that, and screw him. I’d rather ’em eat off the slaughterhouse floor.

MC: Seriously, slow it down. What the hell are you talking about? A battle-state everyman can’t afford any of those things.

JtP: Everyman? More like Owns Everything, Man. Let me show you what I mean: You see that lake in the distance? I just bought it. Just now. Your first born? Mine. Transaction went through a second ago on eTrade. I own 51% stock in your first child.

MC: But…..how…….what?

JtP: Obama wants to “spread the wealth?” Biden thinks it’s “patriotic” to pay taxes? You want to know what I think about that? I think it’s patriotic to spread my wealth all over several Swiss bank accounts. If things get any worse around here, I’m’a take my monies someplace else, somewhere they’re appreciated.

MC: Take your ball and go home.

JtP: You’re damn right.

MC: Honestly, how much money do you make as a plumber?

JtP: Hold up there, son. Who said I was a plumber? I make seven figures a year shipping nuclear waste to the Sudan. That’s just a nickname. You know, like Jack the Ripper. They call me The Plumber for a different reason.

MC: Dare I ask why?

JtP: Cuz I lay pipe all over town….hiiiii-yo!!!! That’s some innuendos.

MC: But you said you put your hands in places rats wouldn’t even go. You didn’t mean toilets?

JtP: Hell to the no. That was more innuendos. High five!

MC: Really. So you’re not an actual plumber. You’re not a small town Ohio boy, barely putting food on the table. I get it now, you’re part of the 5% that will have higher taxes under his economic plan. No wonder you’re pissed.

JtP: You’re gall durn right I’m pissed. I’m talking “Just found a homeless man in my crawlspace” pissed. I’ve had 8 solid years of kickbutt taxes, and now, some point guard lookin’ dude wants to jack that up? Not cool at all. Not. Cool.

MC: So when John McCain was talking directly to you during the debate, letting you know that he had your back, what did you think about that?

JtP: I was like, “Yeahhhh, boyyyyy,” Flavor Flav. McCain feels my pain. That should be his slogan, “John McCain Feels Your McPain.” He’d win by thirty points. Dude owns like 10 cars, something like 25 houses. If anyone understands what it’s like to roll this deep, it’s him.

MC: Then you’re definitely voting for McCain.

JtP: Oh no. I’m not even registered to vote. I just like to bitch for bitching’s sake.

MC: I hate you.

JtP: Most people do. *silent sobbing*

MC: I’m going to hang up now.

JtP: Okay. Wait, do you want to take my jet to Amsterdam? Get loaded on pills and whores?

MC: No.

JtP: Sigh. Ok.

MC: …..

JtP: I’m so lonely.

hangs up phone

*still unconfirmed

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Respect to the Grandma

To make amends for previously talking about a woman’s “personal business,” I will list the reasons why I love my grandmother:

  • In my pre-teen years, she would take me to any movie I wanted. For example, I saw Buffy the Vampire Slayer AND Don’t Tell Mom, The Babysitter’s Dead with her. She took a nap in the back row while I sat in the front. Thank God, because who knows what would have happened if she actually watched the movies. I may have been shipped off to military school. Or a psychiatrist.
  • A widow at 74, she had herself a boy-toy by 76. Sure, he’s almost 90, but when you have to get that paper like Anna Nicole, you get that paper like Anna Nicole. You go, girl.
  • Every Christmas, she gives every member of the immediate family a jar full of quarters. Fifty dollars a piece. That’s like 6 months worth of laundry, if not 20 trips to Taco Bell. Christmas is a year-round deal with those quarters.
  • She bought me a Barbie when I was 8 and didn’t ask questions. My guess is she knew better. That doll never fully recovered. Some scars are just too deep.
  • She’s adorably racist. Awww, you still say “colored.” That’s just precious.
  • She always lets me know that I’m the second grandson by referring to me as Andy-Matt. As in, “Andy, I mean, Matt, would you open this jar for me?” I need to know where I stand on the importance totem pole, you know?
  • When me or my brother go out with her, she’ll let everyone we come in contact with know that we’re her grandsons. Over the years, I’ve had many a waitress smile and say “Good for youuuuuu.” I kind of like being somebody’s walking trophy. It boosts the ol’ morale.
  • She’s been taking us to Value City for twenty years. When the store in her neighborhood went out of business this past Christmas, she took us one last time, gave us a hundred dollars and said “Go nuts.” I picked up a brown valour sports coat, and a copy of The Majestic, a highly underrated little Frank Darabont movie. She was more interested in the coat. I’ve picked up more garbage in that store over the years than Emilio Estevez ever could have in Men at Work. In fact, I think I bought an Emilio Estevez there one time, but had to return him due to unremovable stains.
  • She still gives me birthday cards with race cars on them, despite the fact that I’ve never liked race cars. 10-year old Matthew didn’t like race cars, and 28-year old Matthew still doesn’t like race cars. But, hey, thanks for thinking of me. The card could just be a picture of a decapitated puppy, but at least it says “Happy Birthday, Love Grandma” on the inside.
  • And most importantly, she tells me she loves me, “even though I know you won’t say it back.” She understands my inability to show emotion. She gets me.

And there you go, ten backhanded compliments for my grandmother. This accomplished nothing.

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