Friday, December 30, 2011


"whose blog is often of confessional and purple prose, must not throw stones at another."
-me, from Proofs Of My Circumspection
I quite like Anne Lamott. She's funny. She's religious in that reverently-irreverent/irreverently-reverent sorta way. She goes to church. She loves. She doubts. She fights injustice/unfairness/prejudice/bias. She fights with herself. She sins. She keeps coming back to God. She writes it all down. She's the urbane, artistic Christian (but, ya know, not one of those Christians) exemplar.  Her writings are often poetic, conjuring profound meaning out of the most mundane of things quotidian.

Unfortunately, for myself,  for my friends, and for my peers, confessional writing without her byline so often seems to me as, well, ersatz Anne Lamott.

It's not courageous. It's not difficult. It's the translation of emotions into words. It's masturbation with a keyboard and you're the only one getting off.  

Friday, December 2, 2011

sunday morning

Sundays are good days for me. I usually sleep in until 10:00 a.m. For the next hour or so I play my music much too loudly as I get ready for church. I wet shave (something I do just once a week) then shower. Extra care is taken when applying the anti-sun lotions that leave me the butt of so many uncouth observations popular with children and the homeless. "Speaking of butts, the last time I saw skin that color..." Teeth are brushed with more than perfunctory vigor and I leave the house smelling of just the appropriate hint of AXE bodyspray. Also, I get to wear real-people clothes--not the black slacks/dress shirt ensemble that shrouds my body 5-6 days a week. (I also like to schedule hanging-out these days because, well, I'm already put together). And then church, where I'm greeted with smiles, handshakes, and hugs--and the jewels in the crown: familiarity and love.

Well, life's finally feeling like a Sunday morning again. I enrolled in a couple psychology courses next semester (didn't exactly walk around the aspirations tracks too long before hopping on a new train). I had a good, honest talk with my brother, a couple encouraging talks with old friends and, hopefully, I made a a new friend too.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

so-called chaos

art is the language of the heart.

and I'm not trying to be fucking cute. when you feel, express yourself in and thru art. feel thru the art.

get off the prose, son.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Friday, November 25, 2011

losing it

I haven't lost my sense of humor, maybe just my sense of perspective.

During lunch with a friend, the room started to spin and I had to focus on a single point as if it were a mooring. During another conversation, I teared up like a wide-eyed orphan. Speaking of kids, I was sitting at a red light one recent Sunday morning when the sight a young boy on a bike shattered my composure and I started to sob when it hit me that I may never have a son.

I once wrote that getting broken up with is like being pushed into another world, one with a new future. Well, that's where I am at now: contemplating a new future. And, like with many a relationship, the break came when it was time to make a greater commitment (I got a mission placement, but declined). It was like Life Dominoes: when Mission Corps fell, seminary followed--and so went the life I had planned for the next 4-5 years. I suppose now I can just say, solemnly, that I'm not cut out for the life I planned.

I'm still smiling (in that aesthetics-of-pain sorta way).  Everything is both sudden and a long-time coming. My commitments to truth and my ideas about authenticity and identity are in flux. Life, without seminary, will be different. It will be more self-directed, less circumscribed by dogma or ecclesial community.

Though, it's not as if I lost myself, woke up as a new person, and changed my creed to "to thyself, be true." As Ibsen points out in Peer Gynt, that's merely another way of saying, "to thyself, be enough." But I'm not enough. I want my church. My friends. My family. My ideals. I want God, too and I know that, for the Christian, freedom and liberation apart from God are delusions, dead-ends. Alas, I can't help but see all of this as (among other things, of course) a lack of faith. I don't want only God, or, rather, I can't live for only him. I like culture; it nourishes and envelops me. And the very studies I launched myself into because my will had failed me have handicapped any faculty for childlike, obedient faith. So I lurch toward syncretism (in life and career).

Other, emotional currents are in the fore (though I am trying to think as hard as I'm feeling) and this dogmatist (albeit of the California liberal variety)--is flirting with be-yourself-ism. I'm getting swept away--floodwaters from without and erupting within.
See the rock that you hold onto
Is it gonna save you
When the earth begins to crumble?
Why d'you feel you have to hold on?

Imagine if you let go
Let's hope there's a life ring.

With the broken pieces of abandoned aspirations at my feet, I'm trying to imagine a new future and sincerely hoping that when I look back one day, this isn't what apostasy looked like.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

pick up line I've come up with

cross-sexed flirting:

person one, with puppy dog eyes starving for love: "I'm gay so I'm just curious. No pressure. *re-assuring head shake/hand swat gesture* But would you date me?"

person two, caught off guard but wants to be polite and affirming: "Oh, yea. I mean you're, uh, cute and you seem like a nice guy/girl."

person one, pleased with the affirmative response: "I'm kidding. I'm not gay. What are you doing Friday?"

Saturday, November 5, 2011

oh c'mon

mlm sales-pitches should be reserved for enemies, not friends and acquaintances. don't do it.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

ten years on

“We are not afraid of death,” the suicide bombers say to show their superiority to ordinary people. But they are afraid of life, constantly trampling on it, slandering it, destroying it, and training children still in their cradles for martyrdom. Observers have noted that the photos of terrorists taken a few hours before they made their attacks show people who are serene and at peace. They have eliminated doubt: they know. It is the paradox of open societies that they seem to be disordered, unjust, threatened by crime, loneliness, and drugs because they display their indignity before the whole world, never ceasing to admit their defects, whereas other, more oppressive societies seem harmonious because the press and the opposition are muzzled. “Where there are no visible conflicts, there is no freedom,” Montesquieu said. Democracies are by nature uneasy, they never realize their ideal; they necessarily disappoint us, creating a gap between the hope they elicit and the realities they construct. They repeat the slanders proffered by their enemies, according them the right to hate them in all sincerity. From the imperfection of our governments, their fundamental perversity is deduced. But we should maintain the reverse: to publicly exhibit our faults is to be conscious of our vices, whereas the real fault is being ignorant of what ails us.
-Pascal Bruckner

Saturday, July 16, 2011

give 'em the ol' (blog-y) razzle dazzle

let me help you write a "profound" or "courageous" blog:

1. choose a point of liberal or humanitarian or christian dogma that you want to restate by metaphor. (if you can think of no moral to communicate, just fall back on "appreciate the little things in life.")

2. pick something mundane or someone insignificant or something from nature like a tree branch that you want rhapsodize, perhaps lift to the heavens. a cup of coffee, the woman who empties your trash at work, some acorns, for example. but don't lose focus; it's not about the object. the narrator is the most important thing in this story. remember, this a neo-transcendentalist exercise and your aim is to demonstrate how sensitive and perceptive you are.

3. you should probably swear. this makes you gritty, makes you real. if you are a christian, your swear-y shibboleth will let others know that, while a christian, you are not one of those christians. the same can be accomplished with gratuitous talk of sex or drinking. 

4. if at all possible, you should narrow your audience to the young--for it is usually the young who are likely to appreciate description for description's sake and who, when it comes to radical or transgressive morality, are still impressed that the wider world is broader and more dynamic than the world of their childhoods and who still desire flattery for their newfound broadmindedness.

5. stay away from ideas; this is about feelings. pay lip service to insight, but remember to focus your efforts on narcissistic self-exposure. may your audience reflect back to you your exaggerated self-image. let the comments field be a cast net and may the encouragements of your friends feed you for a few more days.

(written to myself, as much as anyone else)

Friday, June 24, 2011

am I dead yet?

today a co-worker asked, "you have any kids, matt?"

a few days before father's day a woman wished me a, "happy father's day, if you're a father."

what? babies having babies?!

another customer guessed my age correctly.

the benefits of late-onset puberty were so short-lived

Thursday, June 23, 2011

not the hippest

trying to explain what a hipster was to my mom, I told her that when I saw one next I'd point him out. days later I spot one and tell her. she asked, "how do you know he's a hip surgeon?"

Saturday, June 4, 2011

what I said at my grandmother's funeral

german class, marathon, speech at grandma's funeral--all things that have hung over my head since the beginning of the year. two down, one to go, as of today. all three done by 10:00 a.m. tomorrow. the following I started at work two days before I was to read it, then worked on for about an hour more at home and in hotels, finishing it on an iPad on the drive to the the church and mere seconds before walking into the church. expectations lowered yet?

reaction: nice comments, no raves, but I hope and trust that it communicated, at least in tone, what I had hoped it would. the eulogy as delivered:
I'd like to share with everyone here today some of my memories of my grandmother. I figured that this would be the most natural thing, as sharing memories of my grandmother is something I imagine doing with my family for the rest of my life.

I should acknowledge that, as a grandchild, my memories are limited by time; my memories were of a woman who was, to me, always "grandma." And she was a good one.

As a grandmother, she was forever proud of her grandchildren and our accomplishments, however minor. She was forever attentive with the reports and recaps of our lives, however mundane. And she was forever insistent that we take seconds at the dinner table, however we resisted.

She was also someone very obviously from that foreign country that is the past, with its peculiar customs impenetrable to citizens of the modern age. There were many instances of things just not quite translating from one generation to the other. And I’m not speaking only of her tastes in the selection of gifts for us. There was enduring, nonplussed head-shaking (and sometimes a little pride) in her display of that greatest generation’s austere "Great Depression Mindset" that persisted long past the time of any necessity. She would trek to the military commissary at Camp Pendleton, a large military base in San Diego, passing over the grocery store less than a mile from her home. She would root out deals at J.C. Penny and store her leftovers in empty cool whip tubs instead of using Tupperware.

But, more than object of our good-natured ribbing, she was a living connection to a past that I could never know. It was fascinating to listen to her share details of her life, of growing up during the depression, of marrying a serviceman and the attendant sacrifices of life on the home front and of raising a young daughter while my grandfather was deployed. I used to like picking a historical event from her lifetime, from the multiple reelections of FDR to the moon landing to the Vietnam war, and asking her about her memories and reflections.

She hailed from a time of manners, of New England propriety, and of entertaining (and she was the consummate entertainer). It was inspiring to witness her commitment to friends and family, to creating a warm environment for all us to gather and share in one another's lives.

And now please, if you’ll bear with me a moment, permit me the reading of a memories list.

crudités platters, tortilla chips and onion dip
cranberry squares on lettuce
Christmas morning coffee and Entenmann’s cake
making food ahead of time and freezing it
crossword puzzles
white zinfandel
the Lawrence Welk Show
the navy league
“you don’t know what’s good”
the children's book, "are you my mother?"
blowing bubbles in the backward
feeding the ducks
trekking to the pool

To some of you, the preceding list was merely disparate references, with little particular meaning related to my grandmother, Gretta. I hope some points on the list brought a smile of knowing familiarity to some faces. But, I know that to me, to my siblings and perhaps to the rest of my family, any point on the above list could send us into mirthful reminiscence of things, now, sadly in the past.

Recalling the memories of my grandmother also led me to a small meditation on what a family is, what makes a family, a family. Memories are so important for providing the context of our familiarity. They are the warp and woof of the family, constituting the framework thru which we meet and atop which we build new memories. And, in a lot of ways, these shared experiences and recollections constitute us as a family, transforming us from individuals to relatives, to members of a family--something that’s greater than the sum of its parts.

Stories and details like the ones I and others have shared, and will share today, and innumerable others, are the stories that will be shared and retold when the family gathers and they are the stories that will be passed down like keepsakes to our children, to our cousins' children, to our nieces and nephews, and to our grand-kids. And so much of that corpus of received family history has come from and thru my grandmother and because of that she will remain in my thoughts and I will remain forever thankful.

Monday, May 9, 2011


One pill makes you large
One pill makes you small
One pill makes you an absolute know it all

Her words are made of glitter
She’s a bullshitter
So they’ll try to bait her

But of all the powers that I could possess
To make you love me for me that would be the best
But before I become that earnest
I would throw myself into the fiery furnace

Did she just say what I think she did
(oh oh)
Did she say she’s the Cocknbullkid
How are we to believe a word she says
(oh oh oh oh)
She’s from the depths of Hades
Is it comedy or tragedy
That we’re never to believe a word she says
(oh oh oh oh)

Please help me before I hurt myself
Are these imaginings of somebody else
She’s a narcissist
She’s a self loather
Don’t lose control of her

Cos of all the powers that I could possess
To make you love me for me that would be the best
But before I become that honest
I would throw myself into the fiery furnace

Did she just say what I think she did
(oh oh)
Did she say she’s the Cocknbullkid
How are we to believe a word she says
(oh oh oh oh)
Sounds like a boy but she’s a lady
Is it comedy or tragedy
That we’re never to believe a word she says
(oh oh oh oh)

The mouth is a trap
whatever I say I can’t take back
Can’t take back
The mouth is a trap
The mouth is a trap
The mouth is a trap

Sunday, May 8, 2011

hold on to your misery

misery never sounded so sweet. what a gem.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

I want to break free

But still, it was not the desire to ‘write’ that was his real motive. To get out of the money-world — that was what he wanted. --Said of the "artistic" Gordon Comstock, the quixotic/puerile Marxist protagonist of Orwell's Keep the Aspidistra Flying
I don't do well in the money world. Like Gordon, I have hypocritical/half-hearted affiliations (ones enabling responsibility-shirking it turns out) with a money- and status- effacing ideology and community. It flatters me to believe that my ideologies/my community determine who I am--with meaningless work a malign alien in my life, a millstone. Silly, of course: life is made up of but two things: work and leisure (it goes without saying which one precedes and permits the other). But after a shitty week at work, I'm itching to get out of this place, sheltering myself in and taking up the armor of artistic expositions of Romantic notions like freedom, of self-expression and summer days.

"How'd I get here?," I've wondered over the last couple of days. First, I blame the culture, under the tutelage of which, I spent my childhood internalizing the pep talk mantras of "follow your dreams" and "do what your passionate about." Once the privilege of the elite, such idealization has been everywhere promulgated by our schools and the mass media.

Think your grandfather's happiness ever rested on his capacity for and success in his own creative self-expression? Well, of course not, but we live in a different age, in the age of Adler and Maslow, in the age of the white-collared working class of the service and information economies.

Of course, base vices (selfishness and laziness, e.g.) are the warp and woof of our being and opportunistically take up the cloaks of lofty principles when they operate--in one's self-righteous consciousness and in one's unsolicited apologias declaimed to hapless co-workers, friends, and family, recourse is always made to virtues, disguising their

Danny Noonan: I planned to go to law school after I graduated, but it looks like my folks won't have enough money to put me through college.
Judge Smails: Well, the world needs ditch diggers, too. --From Caddyschack

Though it will never happen, I want out of the money world.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

i need friends

I did a lot in 2010, huh?

But that tack of self-inquiry really began with, "What more do you want?" asked in needling, mock exasperation. Another voice, this one more solemn, answered, "love."

I try to keep my perspective grounded and fair--and,  in my equanimous moments, I rationally acknowledge my blessings (both circumstantial and the ones for which I've worked). Still, in my day-to-day goings-on, I'm haven't been satisfied with, or proud of, my life since graduation.

I wish I could say that it comes down to unfulfilling work, but, mostly, it's just plain loneliness. I'm definitely one of those people who gets down for no good reason, which happens just about anytime I have time to myself, which is often. For all that I did in 2010, what I really want in my life in 2011 are friends and time with friends--for the initial and very selfish reason that I don't want to be down so much. I also have an inkling that life's joys, at least for interpersonally-inclined me, will be found in my relationships and not in my accomplishments. One (most of all, me) hardly looks back wistfully at a day spent watching DVDs or studying for that German test as one would when reminiscing about times spent with friends. Working through new ideas and other practices at life-mastery became goals of mine because they were the alternative, the things that one's left with aside from hobbies and hanging out.  I've sustained them because I want to be an interesting person, fair and equanimous to all of my friends and acquaintances.  But I can't say any of my competencies in the humanities have ever won me a single friend...

I know that I'm not incapable of making close friends. I've made them and I have them, but they live hundreds, even thousands of miles away. They even tell me that I'm not repulsive and mostly normal, if a little eccentric and sarcastic. But I still get jealous when I see groups of friends or others with full social schedules and I wonder how I've bungled my life up to this point that I'm alone and bored yet another Saturday night. 

I feel like a silly chimera: outwardly aloof/deliberate/calculated/sly but inwardly playful, like a labrador puppy running at you. I've had to cope, but time's dragged on since graduation and things haven't improved and my circumstances aren't likely to. So it's up to me? Well, that's disheartening--I've been largely alienated from my peers my whole life and I can count on one hand the friends with whom I can just be. (There's something so great about just sitting on a friend's couch sans all personae. But there's no couch like that in San Diego for me.) Every interaction with a new person is so calculated, so far removed from my spontaneous energies that it becomes a game, a theatrical production where I'm just playing a role.  I've been so concerned with coming across in a certain way--of making sure an idealized image of myself (as smart, funny, complicated) was realized in the perceptions of strangers--that I've lost myself chasing a illusion.  Well, this is ridiculous.

Action point, then: obviously, I can throw myself at life: at travel, at church, at hiking or marathons, at studying German, etc. Well...I'm thinking I might start to throw myself at people. Better a fool than a loner.