stories of a failed holy man


on crying and stuff easier to keep inside

it’s always been easier for me to cry in front of people than to cry in front of the one/ones. what i mean by ‘the one/ones’ is those people that mean the most to you. it can be a friend, family member, the montreal canadiens. i’ll never let Pacioretty see me cry, no matter how much it hurts when someone slanders Carey Price.

but if i’m in a crowd, it’s easy to let my guard down. there’s something about being vulnerable on your own terms that makes it manageable; when speaking in church or addressing my youth crew. but when someone else tries to set it on their terms…screw that. that’s when things get tough.

when i was a kid, crying only happened on other people’s terms. when i was in trouble. when people made fun of me. which happened more than i care to admit. i remember hating it with a passion. i remember feeling weak and vulnerable. like when Troy kicked me in the chest. im so tired of crying on others terms, that i fight the instinct telling me to let it out. no matter the situation, it seems that i try my hardest to keep it all in in front of my loved ones, even when it’s reasonable to let it out. it’s as if my reflex has become to do the opposite of what my heart tells me to do.

lately, this has changed. my protective instincts are gone and i am wide open and vulnerable as if i’m a child again. i feel like crying all the time. luckily, the Canadiens are still in the playoffs, or I’d be a mess. like i said, Carey Price completes me (my wife and i have an understanding). everything is as good as it should be, but nothing feels good as it could be. so the tears come even as i fight to hold them back.

wrestling with depression has kicked me into the gutter. it’s subtle and sneaks up on me. the over reactions to minutiae; so small, it doesn’t warrant a notice, let alone a full fledged man cry. a new job and an early 30’s faith crisis have taken me to the brink of what i can handle.

i’m tired of holding it in. but i know me, and i will continue doing so until i break. learning to be comfortable in my own skin is something new to me. much of my life has been spent trying to be someone i’m not. faking my toughness so my man-card can get punched (yes, ladies. that is a thing). putting on a smiley face and pretending my faith is in check so i can be a good pastor and not freak out the children (even though i know that’s the opposite of what Jesus wants from me). pretending i know what i’m doing, even as I run like wile coyote off the edge of the cliff, unaware of my imminent demise and fall.

i keep telling myself, “trust in Jesus. have more faith. just pray.” and those are all true things that i should strive for. but no matter how hard i seem to try or how much truth is in those statements…it doesn’t take away the intense pressure chasing me down that says i’ll never measure up to God, who is so very, very disappointed in me. and so i feel like crying, knowing deep down this isn’t how i was meant to live, knowing that it isn’t even the truth. but feeling more entrenched than ever.

that got dark fast. get back to the love affair with Carey Price jokes, already.

i know i’ll be okay. my God and my family have too tight a grip on me to let the depression win. i started writing again to be honest. to share not only my stupid stories and terrible jokes with the world, but my heart and soul as well.

so there it is. not crying is overrated. time to start listening to my instincts and kick depression in the ass. write more. love more. open myself up more. pray more. play more. play with my kids more. play tennis more. date my wife more.

and give less attention to the lies…more. just felt like i had to add ‘more’ one last time.



the awkward hush
April 23, 2011, 7:50 am
Filed under: Stuff | Tags: ,

a hush falls over the room. that’s what happens when politics are brought into the discussion. that awkward hush where no one is really sure how much of their views to share for fear of being rejected, ridiculed, misunderstood. the awkward hush. it’s always followed by something bigger, though. an idealist would say mutual respect and understanding. you believe what you believe and i’ll believe what i believe, and we can still be friends. but the idealist in me has long gone the way of the buffalo. and idealists are just young adults who haven’t been corrupted yet. not morally bankrupt 27 year olds like me. more often than not, the awkward hush is followed with condescension, shouting, head shaking, eye rolling, and irritable bowel syndrome. maybe that last one is just me.

it doesn’t start as shouting but it escalates. from short, measured questions. “what do you think on this issue or of this person?” after fumbling around, some brave soul steps forward and offers themselves as the sacrifice on the altar of the party line. and it all goes downhill from there. the shouting/raised voices are counter intuitive because everyone wants to have the last word. my view beats your view. and whomever shouts the loudest in politics these days seems to be the winner, or at least the one that scares the most people, which is basically the same thing.

kids are disillusioned. i talked to a young friend the other day and knowing them, i know exactly which party would make sense for them to vote for. but they are so fed up with what they see on TV and attack ads in the middle of jersey shore reruns that they just don’t give a crap anymore. they see us fighting, calling each other lesser patriots, lawn signs, billboards, door knocking, flyers, promises mostly broken. and can we blame them? really? there was a time when i thought politics was life. when george bush was bombing the world and phones were being wire tapped and the earth was collapsing on itself, it felt like everything to me. and it still does a little, but not as much. when obama brushed into power with a wave of ‘yes we can’-ism, my heart filled with hope. and it still is a little, but not as much. somewhere along the line, the passion has been killed a little bit inside of me because all i see are promises, lies, fear mongering, and that’s just before breakfast.

and i realize that my soul is being stolen from under me. or inside me. or wherever your soul resides. because politics are not everything. politicians make mistakes. and someone will always follow the awkward hush with a confident shout of defiance. usually it’s me. but when my happiness is being taken away from me because someone else sees the world differently than i do, it’s time to look in a mirror and snap out of it. it’s good to be passionate about what you believe in. it’s good and important to call politicians on their crap. it’s good to challenge people who are toeing the party line, even though this perpetuates the awkward hush/loud noises syndrome. but when it’s stealing my joy and hurting relationships…is politics really everything? no. it matters little. one party will do damage here. another party will do damage there. one party will do good here, another party good there. and the cycle will repeat itself. and i should still love my neighbor through all of that.

don’t get me wrong. i will still vote. i find it irresponsible not to vote. but i will vote with my heart. and i will stop trying to convince others i’m right. at least i’ll try. because we’re all wrong. and we’re all right. sometimes. so lets just shut up and be friends. vote with your heart. and vote with the best outcome of the people in mind. what’s most important to you and your community? is it guns? freedom of speech? social programs? the economy? trustworthiness? study the parties. meet the candidates. don’t listen to stupid sound bites on the news. don’t listen to the 30 second commercial propaganda. don’t even listen to my NDP lawn sign i’m trying to sway you with, as if a piece of cardboard will make you say, ‘hey, that makes sense.’ listen to your heart and vote. and do your best to be a good citizen. respect people who see things differently. i fail miserably at this. maybe i am a disillusioned 20 something. maybe this isn’t the best sales pitch for a new generation of voters. but something needs to change. and if it means me shutting up for once, so be it. if nothing else, lets me more self aware of our tendencies and show some respect. the politicians don’t have any respect for us, so we might as well have some for each other.

This message was sponsored by the Bloc Quebecois.

PS-when i wake up in the morning, it is very likely i will take this all back and hate everyone who thinks differently than me. better to call myself on my hypocrisy now than let you do it. beat you to the punch. at least politics taught me something.



i li-i-i-ike my bi-i-i-ike
January 26, 2010, 8:34 pm
Filed under: Stuff | Tags: , , ,

it’s not like other other bikes. ghotihook reference for all you old school punk rockers out there.

i’ve had a conflicted relationship with my bikes over the years. you might wonder how one would have a conflicted relationship with 2 wheel and a frame, but it’s true. i simultaneously love and hate bikes. the film “RAD” had played non-stop on our television for weeks. a movie made in 1986 about BMX racing, and i was obsessed. i don’t remember much, except for him doing jumps in a lumber yard. and his name was ‘Cru Jones’. how tough is that? heads up, Cru Jones coming through. that, combined with the intense 80’s inspirational rock tunes, was enough to get me hooked. i asked mom and dad if i could change my name to ‘Cru Jones’, but they said no for some reason. so i settled for a BMX. someone in our church gave my parents one for us, and i fell in love. it was too tall for me, and i rode it awkwardly up and down the street again and again, nearly falling off because i was a small chap. i was sure i would be the next movie star because of my sweet BMX skills. i’m not sure what they were at the time, but i knew that i had them. a BMX god. i remember racing my brother peter through the neighborhood. i turned around to see how much i was beating him by, but didn’t see him. i was ticked, because i thought he had chickened out and left me along. i rode home thinking of the nasty things i would say to him, but got there to find out he had wiped out behind me and hit his head on the pavement. a nice gentleman gave him a ride home. i felt bad, but still insisted i had won the race, and he couldn’t use a concussion and stitches as an excuse. but then we had to move, and my parents had to sell it for $5 at our moving sale because there was no room to take it with us. i remember looking out my bedroom window at my dad in the driveway, talking to a father who was there with his kid, not much older than me. i saw them wheel the bike away, and felt as if my life had ended. and it was no small feet for me to like bikes. because before i had that one, my first experience with a bike was wiping out and spraining my ankle. i hadn’t rode a bike very much, and my oldest brother, mark, had a brilliant idea to sit on the handlebars while i pedaled. never mind the fact that i couldn’t reach the pedals. never mind the fact that i couldn’t see around his body. never mind the fact we were heading down hill, and had to make a left turn into a gravel driveway going the opposite direction. it seemed like a good idea at the time. but i wept in the driveway, and i remember my dad running outside in his underwear, trying to get my leg untangled from the spokes. ah, the memories. i recovered from that first brush with death and loved my BMX. but now it was gone.

we moved and i got another BMX, but it wasn’t quite as good. i still loved it, though. i rode to school every day and would leave it locked up in the bike rack until the final bell would sound. but one day i got sick, and mom came and picked me up. the next day, when i went to school, my bike was gone. i searched frantically, but only found the destroyed lock. a few days later, my cousin jeff was delivering papers, and he had seen my bike in the front porch of someone on his route. it was a bullies house. i remember because i was too scared to go and get it back. so i called my mom, and she took me. i was proud to be my mom’s son that day. i always am, but she tore a strip out of them. they said they just found it, but i knew they were lying. the seat had been taken off for some reason, and they insisted they didn’t have it. so i had a bike back, but no seat. my grandpa called me and said to come over, that he had an extra bike seat i could use. the problem was that it was a bike seat from an old man bicycle. the kind that i would ride now if i still rode a bicycle. in all honesty, it was way more comfortable, but it was huge, dark green, and did not suit the BMX style at all. kids made fun of me. i didn’t like my bike as much then. and one day it got stolen. i found it years later at the police station where they kept old stolen bikes. i wasn’t looking for it, but went there with a friend who had had his bike stolen as well. it just happened to be there. but it was destroyed. looked like it had been thrown off a cliff. i told them they could keep it. i didn’t care about my bike anymore.

in my first year of college, my dad got this crazy idea to do the MS bike ride. he wanted me to go, and i told him he was crazy, and he said “i know, remember that time i ran out to help you in my underwear?” but i wanted to go for my dad. i hadn’t set foot on a bike in 7 years, and i didn’t train at all. i just raised a few bucks for the MS Society and pedaled away with about 100 other people. i thought i would be fine. we were biking 67 km’s, so i don’t know what possessed me to think i would be okay. because i definitely wasn’t. i think i tore every leg muscle i had those two days, going there and back. i came back and tried to play soccer, but there would be none of that. i had fun with my dad, but i would never set foot or bum on another bike as long as i lived if i could help it.

about a year ago, i remembered my love affair i had with my BMX when i was a kid. so i went and got a new one. it lasted about a day. i rode around for 20 minutes, and took it back to the store. i couldn’t re-create the passion i had once had. the hatred was burned deep in my soul from the stolen bike, the ugly green seat and my torn quadriceps. i still look fondly at others who ride bikes and wish i had the passion. but i’m too lazy. plus, it’s winter. why am i writing about riding bikes? i’m going to go watch RAD now.



my deepest condolences
June 2, 2009, 11:45 pm
Filed under: Stuff | Tags: , , , , , , ,

i’ve been thinking a lot about death lately.

someone i am not close to, but knew from way back, lost their 3 year old son to cancer a few days ago. i cannot comprehend what that would feel like. some people can, but i can’t. my wife lost her younger brother when she was 8 years old. he was 5. 5 years old. 3 years old. in these moments there are no answers. a young child. so innocent. so naive. so beautiful. and life is gone. there is nothing you can say. nothing you can do. no right way to feel. no possible way to move forward. in all that happens in this crazy messed up world, there is not much that shakes me as much as the death of a child. it is one of the few moments where i really wonder, “where are you, God?” 

i went home after finding out about this and found my wife and daughters had gone for a walk. i knew where they would be, so i hopped in my car and made the short drive down to the park, where they go every day the weather will allow. most days, i would go home and sit in the quiet, maybe read or play online poker until they got back, but today i needed to see them. my heart lit up at the sight of my daughter running back and forth from the bottom of the slide to the top. before i even got out of the car, i could hear her laughing. i made the short walk over and as our eyes met, she yelled ‘DADDY! i’m so glad to see you.’ and there was nothing she could have said that would have sounded better than that. i kissed my wife and knelt down to see my other daughter asleep in the stroller, her deep and heavy breath fighting through the summer heat. she was at peace, and as i felt that breath as i leaned down to kiss her, i was so thankful. images-2makena had never flown a kite before, and so i drove home to get her kite as the wind had picked up. i knew she would love it. she is always so adventurous, so excited to try new things. flying that kite was easy as anything that day, as the wind would pick it right up off the ground and take it wherever it wanted. any other day, i would have held the string tightly as makena held the handle, to ensure it didn’t blow away. and i did for a minute, but gave up soon as i realized it stopped me from being able to watch her. and so i let go and watched. i watched her run with the wind blowing her hair into her mouth and the kite going higher and higher. i knew she wouldn’t be able to hold on if the string got out too far, but it didn’t matter. because she was so happy. so alive. and i needed alive in that moment. because death is terrifying. and a 3 year old boy had died that day. and i was wondering where God was. and i needed to see life. sure enough, she let go and the kite went soaring across the field and into an old ladies house. the string was tangled in her tree, and she was annoyed, but i didn’t care. i know that makes me a rude neighbor, but my daughter was so happy in that moment, i didn’t care. i needed to see her alive. and i hope i don’t sound heartless, speaking of a moment with my daughters that will forever remain with me while someone else has lost someone so dear to them. because it breaks my heart to know the pain they are going through. i just so badly needed to see some beauty in that moment of feeling totally broken and helpless. because if that did happen to my daughters…i would be lost. i wouldn’t know what to do. 

life isn’t fair. and someone can be alive one moment. and they might be gone the next. and we feel powerless. we feel hopeless to control the steady march towards death. most days we manage to ignore it. we push it beneath the surface and pretend we are invincible. we pretend time will never catch up with us. and then a 3 year old dies. and time stops. and we wonder, “where are you, God?” and that’s okay. it’s okay to ask those questions. i have to believe that God is okay with that. if i really wanted to be cliche, i could tell you the story of the footprints on the beach. or i could call up this distant acquaintance who just lost their 3 year old, and tell them, ‘he’s in a better place, now.’ that might be true, but i think those christian cliches mean little in the face of tragedy. but i do believe God is with us in the midst of that pain, stupid footprints story or not. and so if, God forbid, i ever lose someone the way these people have, please don’t hit me with christian cliches. because i might punch you. right in the mouth. because i am wondering today where God is in the death of a 3 year old, and i don’t have an answer. and neither do you. i can’t see him. i can’t understand why he let’s this happen. and i’m angry. and trivial words spoken with positive intentions can’t stop the pain of those who have lose someone. but i believe God can. and i believe he is there in the wreckage of life. and as people on this broken earth, we can’t offer much.

but we can sit. and wade through the pain alongside them in silence.