On Ritual

I see a lot of potential in the morning. When I am awake, I try to be. Living with someone who isn’t quite as into mornings as I am, I’m starting to understand that not everyone feels the same way about it as I do. That time between waking and working is my most productive for a number of reasons, the least of which is the quiet. When I started my new job, I began waking an hour earlier to solidify some new habits in my day to day. I get up and out of bed, take too long a shower, check Reddit to see if the president has been impeached while I was sleeping, groom myself, brush my teeth, get dressed, and then I walk to the subway, careful to lock the door behind me so that no one breaks into my apartment while my girl sleeps. This is her fear, but I respect her enough to trust it.

Using public transportation gives me a closer look at people in this early stage of the day. It is a time of silence for most. The occasional cell phone or lack of self-awareness will break the quiet, splintering the illusion that we are all collectively still asleep. Sometimes the trains make emergency stops in the tunnels for one reason or another. Perhaps someone is on the tracks again. It happens sometimes. One person will start to freak out a little. In my experience, this is usually an overweight woman, who says ‘Lord’ a lot. Just an observation; it’s happened three times to me now.

When the trip goes off without a hitch, I arrive at 34th street with my supplies for the day: a good pen with plenty of ink, several notebooks, and my computer. I make my way to Friedman’s for coffee, which is a new habit. The waiters are starting to recognize me now—by face not name just yet. This is fine, because they are always cordial and not in the way waiters have to be cordial. They flash genuine grins and say things like ‘welcome back, man’. I like it a lot. It’s probably because for an hour or so, my time feels like it has some meaning. We’re all together. They’re doing a job for someone that’s grateful to receive it, and I think they’re a little grateful, too.

I don’t think any of them want to be waiting tables that early in the morning, but they have to in order to support themselves in this city of high expense and exorbitant costs. A.J. says hello and asks me how I’m doing this morning. He wants to be a writer. He writes reviews because that’s what pays, but he’d rather write plays. He’s already written a few. One about “dog parties”—a party for instagram famous dogs—and one about his friend’s suicide. It’s a one man show, he says. Instead of answering his question, I ask him how he’s doing. I don’t know why. That’s just how it came out. He tells me he’s doing well but that he needs another cup of coffee. I say something like that makes two of us. He smiles. I smile. It feels good. He pours me some coffee. I’m waiting for the day I walk in and someone says black coffee, right? That’s right. Thank you so much. I mean it.

I sit down at the counter in the same place I always sit. It’s beginning to feel like ritual, and I need ritual in my life. I don’t know why. The seat at the end of the counter is part of the ceremony. If I’m not there, where am I? Once I ordered an omelet, which they made with onions and mustard. It tasted like the cheeseburgers you can get at Country Boys Hamburgers back home. If it wasn’t $20 I would get it every morning, but unfortunately the food is a little expensive. The coffee is reasonable though, and I don’t mind paying a little extra in tips for the good service.

Stacking my notebooks on the table, first I check my calendar to prepare myself for the oncoming day, making sure nothing sneaks up on me. I have an hour before I have to be anywhere, and if something were to come up, I’d have a little bit of cushion. Exercise has become a regular part of my day as well, and when I’m looking at my schedule I start to wonder if I should exchange this time for a run instead of a writing session. Nah. This is good.

Pen to paper, I get some journaling in to warm me up before I go to town on whatever fiction I’m working on. I’m a terrible fiction writer. I’ve just now started to admit it to myself. I have no direction. As much as I want to be William Faulkner/John Steinbeck, I’m beginning to think it might not happen. My characters always end up sitting at some coffee shop—sometimes in Brooklyn, other times Nashville—writing things down and mulling things over. Fuck. Not again. Start over with something else. Two guys sitting in a diner talking things out. That’s the same thing, you dumbass, except now there’s two of you. Goddamit.

I’m running into a lot of creative blocks lately. My voice has been caked up for days, and I can’t seem to find new lines for songs. Everything sounds the same, and I’m frustrated. But these mornings remind me that it’s work. I have to be my own midwife, giving birth to whatever it is that has to be pushed out. That’s a stupid and romantic way to think about it, but an important part of that process is just showing up. Some days are fruitful and others are stoppered. Some days I question whether or not any of it matters and quit so that I can make more time to play Grand Theft Auto.

I don’t have any answers, but it helps to reflect on the questions that tend to crop up. Maybe my rituals will become part of someone else’s. It’s funny to think of yourself in a supporting role, but for everyone else, that’s exactly the part you play. Often my advice to myself is to try to pay attention as much as possible, because running on autopilot is time wasted. We’ve had all eternity before we were born and we’ll have all eternity after we’re dead to be unconscious of this world.

The top of the hour approaches, and I look down at my watch. 10 ’til 9. I ask for the bill, and A.J. goes and gets it. Another guy behind the counter asks if I want my coffee to go and then asks if I’d like for him to go ahead and top off the to-go cup. I tell him I do and he does it. Here you go. Thanks, man. I usually write something about how good the service was on the receipt. Maybe no one reads that. It’d be okay if no one did. I feel like I’m giving them something back, a little gift for later in addition to the tip.

Gathering my things, I set the notebooks in my tote one at a time, slipping the pen in my breast pocket for when I arrive at my desk upstairs. The morning ritual is over, but it’s fine because I’ll get to do it again tomorrow. I’ve managed to start the day off slow, and I’m almost always in a good mood when I walk out the door to go to work. There’s something about that kind of thing, the repetition of procedural step-taking. The day might end differently than it did the day before. I might have plans with a friend or a television show to catch up on with Marisa after dinner. But the fact that I’ve begun each day with intention helps me set the pace for the rest of it. It gives me time to decide what kind of person I’m going to be. These are the things I’m going to do every day. This is an appointment I must keep.

 

On “The Nashville Statement”

I am and will always be steeped in and stained with the blood of Jesus Christ. There will never be a time when I don’t think about what life would’ve been like for me had I followed through with my plans to head off to the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY upon graduating college. Maybe I would still go to church. Perhaps I’d live in a Southern town as opposed to a Northern city. It is entirely possible that I might have become one of these brave modern-day crusaders that seek—in a time of racism, political polarization, open Nazism, and hate—to take a stand against the “threat” of the LGBTQ community to the value of families and all civility, but I really hope not.

I want to believe there is still much wisdom in the Christian tradition. Many passages of the bible come to my mind as I live in and around the people of my immediate social environment. For example, the beatitudes and Jesus’ sermon on the  mount have been a constant reminder for me to be humble and treat others with respect—you know, the way I want to be treated. There are so many people I know personally who follow the teachings of Jesus and are the very pinnacle of good and decent human beings. Many are my friends and my family, and I love them, dearly. We have differences, and we respect each other and discuss those differences with open minds and good intentions. The ones that think differently from me have come to their conclusions based on their experiences. I cannot deny them those conclusions, and I would never try…

…unless they promoted inequality, violence, and discrimination against others I know and love that have come to separate conclusions.

Let me begin with a little background.

I grew up a Southern Baptist, and it is a fact that I learned how to become a person through the lens of Evangelical Christianity. In the same way that people are not entirely good or entirely evil, there are things about my upbringing specific to evangelicalism that have been both beneficial and detrimental. Usually I can categorize them with efficiency. Sometimes the water gets a little muddy, and I have trouble deciding.

The community of faith in which I grew up taught me how to love other people selflessly and to make sacrifices for the good of all people, showing me that love was more important than wealth or fame or power and that I couldn’t live life—at least a good life—outside of a community. If asked where they learned to live like this, they would likely respond that they grew up reading about Jesus and doing their best to emulate how he is represented in the gospels. Maybe that’s true. It could also be the people around them who taught them to live that way. Interpretations of Jesus’ message vary greatly and change drastically from place to place, person to person, and time to time.

In any case, during difficult times in my own life, many of these same wonderful people have reached out to me, giving me encouragement and support, because they know me and love me.

But then again, I’ve never been gay, trans, or queer and have never aggressively challenged their belief system. I’ve never been told that I can’t get married because I’m gay. I have only ever been a white heterosexual male, and my experience is the only one I have. I’m not saying that they would’ve treated me differently; I know many wouldn’t have. But I think about this.

It is with great shame that I once held the discriminatory and bigoted beliefs laid out in the Nashville Statement put out by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood this week. I could say that I didn’t know any better, but the truth is that I didn’t stop to ask myself important questions before deciding on answers. I didn’t think critically or have any open minded conversations with people who might think differently than I. And lastly, I failed to consult the very people I deemed “sinful” because I blindly trusted the interpretations of an ancient text written in the context of an ancient civilization full of inequality, sexism, superstition, and ignorance over that of any modern day human experience or scientific evidence.

I am ashamed of this. It is one of the deeper shames of my life, but I am thankful that I was finally able to see past this with help from friends and family.

My criticisms of Christianity go well beyond the stances taken on the LGBTQ community and its relationship with the church. I’ve searched my experiences comparing them to what I know about Jesus and the teachings of the bible, and as of now, I don’t see the world the same way I did when I was a believer. A few years back, I would’ve said of someone like me that they didn’t want to believe the way I did because they didn’t want to live the way I did. And there’s some truth to that I think.

Given the nature of this personal opinion piece as a response, I felt it necessary to explain where I’m coming from and where I am in terms of my own worldview. If you’re curious and want to delve into that further, shoot me an email, give me a call, or let’s grab a beer or coffee if you don’t drink.

The real reason I wrote this article is because I am appalled that the people that I once called my brothers and sisters chose at this time in our history—when literal Nazis take to the streets chanting “Blood and Soil”—to publish what they call “The Nashville Statement“. If you’d prefer to read it in entirety, I’ve enclosed a link to the statement above. To summarize, the document is a belief statement made up of a series of articles that dictate what the signers do and do not believe about human sexuality and marriage. The consensus is much of the same: marriage should only exist between a man and a woman; sex should only be enjoyed by the married; men and women are ‘created’ inherently different; and these differences do not make them unequal.

Statements like this from the Southern Baptist Convention are nothing new. It is a tired trope of stagnation many in the Christian community, I am proud to say, have made the decision to stand against. I’m sad to say, the contents of the Nashville Statement did not surprise me, but I was initially confused by why the drafters named it “The Nashville Statement” instead of something, anything else. After some research, I discovered the real reason for the name “Nashville Statement” is because the signers met there to discuss and sign the document in person. This naming convention is nothing new, and many historical documents are named for the location of their signing. Nashville Mayor, Megan Barry, made sure to publicly reject that this document has anything to do the social climate of the city of Nashville on Twitter after the statement was released.

What confuses me at this point is why now is the time for such a statement.

Marriage equality isn’t really what’s dominating the headlines at the moment. That isn’t to say that there isn’t still a long way to go for the civil rights of the LGBTQ community.

Men and women toting swastika-embroidered flags next to confederate banners have taken to the streets to protest the removal of confederate monuments all over these United States. The tension between those that would prefer to keep the statues and monuments where they are and those that would seek to see them removed came to a head several weeks ago in the city of Charlottesville, NC where a young woman named Heather Heyer was murdered by a Neo-Nazi who drove his vehicle into a crowd of anti-protesters standing against bigotry and racism, violence and hate.

Our current president came under heavy fire because he did not immediately denounce these violent acts for what they were: domestic terrorism. And instead of immediately speaking out against these racist/hate groups across America that praised the actions of the young man who murdered Heather, he issued a statement days later against racism only to reiterate his initial statement the following day from the lobby of Trump Tower in Manhattan, NY.

I suspect his reasoning is because those protesting the removal of confederate monuments—“very fine people” marching alongside Nazis and white supremacists—make up his base of supporters, and saying anything that would lose that base could cost political points and support.

You know it. I know it. Everybody knows it.

And so, at this point in our nation’s history, the Southern Baptist Convention decides to issue a statement about biblical sexuality? Again?

And which ‘biblical sexuality’ are we talking about here? Prostitution? Polygamy? Incest? Patriarchy? Grabbing ’em by the pussy? Which one?

Historically, the signers of the Nashville Statement can universally agree on their stance against homosexuality based on two passages in the bible (Leviticus 20:13 and Romans 1:26-28) but have trouble when it comes to racism, white nationalism, and Nazism. They recently put out a statement against white nationalism and the alternative right movement but only after coming under fire for not doing so sooner (not unlike our current president). It wasn’t too long ago that they couldn’t agree on segregation, and the Southern Baptists were initially founded because of a disagreement in 1845 about whether or not slave holding persons should be missionaries.

I now want to bring your attention to Article X from the Nashville Statement. The following is a direct quote:

“We affirm that it is sinful to approve of homosexual immorality or transgenderism and that such approval constitutes an essential departure from Christian faithfulness and witness. We deny that the approval of homosexual immorality or transgenderism is a matter of moral indifference about which otherwise faithful Christians should agree to disagree.”

The wording here is quite interesting. I’m not positing that the Nashville Statement is entirely political, as these are views that have been long held by the Southern Baptist Convention and other denominations within the Christian faith, but at the same time it’s interesting that transgenderism is included.

The only reasoning I can think of for issuing such a statement at this time is to justify the recent call from our president to ban transgender persons from military service. Where else has this topic surfaced recently aside from public restroom use?

Religion has played an enormous part in the politics of our nation, and evangelicals have traditionally been on the side of conservative parties. In recent news, Russell Moore, director of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, was almost ousted from the Southern Baptist convention for being hypercritical of then-presidential candidate, Donald Trump. Moore’s criticisms of religion in politics and more specifically the Southern Baptist Convention’s open support for the Republican party have cost him support from within the evangelical community, and he is quoted to have said that Donald Trump has “serious moral problems”.

Moore’s name is fourth on the list of signers of the Nashville Statement, made up of 185 men and 13 women.

Does the Nashville Statement have a political agenda? Absolutely. The question is whether or not it has political ties to the Trump administration. I don’t know, but I think it’s worth asking. My gut tells me yes, but we all know what happens when you assume.

While I no longer consider myself part of the Christian faith, I ask that my friends and family who are openly denounce this statement of bigotry and hate and hold their religious leaders responsible. We should also ask ourselves the tough questions and do our best to fight for the rights and equality of everyone around us, regardless of their race, sexual orientation, or creed, even if we disagree. I find it difficult to think that Jesus, who is written to have spent time with thieves, beggars, prostitutes, lepers, and “the least of these”, would stand with such documentation.

The Nashville Statement flies in the face of everything that Jesus stood for, casting stones at those the Center for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and the signers of this document would seek to condemn to hell fire.

Thanks for reading,

Michial Miller

8-31-2017

 

 

 

 

On New England

I am starting to grow fond of New England, its land and its people. It is different from the South, where I grew up, but it has similarities. Their food is regional and specific while the people are kind but guarded. It has history and haunting beauty in its scenery and culture that reminds me of my own family and heritage.

In the heart of Rhode Island, I am reminded of those old Southern roads where the weeds crawl up from the ditches on either side, soaking up the pavement, although there is far less kudzu and no roadkill to be seen. The coasts are breathtaking. Never in my life have I seen so many sailboats. They make me think of E.B. White who sailed small boats off the coast of Maine. At sunset when the blue turns to an orange and purple afterglow, Narragansett Bay is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. It makes perfect sense to me that tycoons like the Vanderbilt’s built their mansions on those Newport cliffs that overlook the chilly Atlantic waters of Sheep Point Cove.

I was lucky enough to get to spend the entire weekend on one such property. The estate was beautiful, peering out over the rocks onto Sachuest Bay and Second Beach, where beach-goers lounged and tossed footballs in the sand. The water was calm, and the majority of surfers and their boards were washed up on shore. I’d like to say I got in the water, but truthfully, it was too cold for my taste, being used to the sun kissed waters of the Florida coastline. I managed to nurse a can of Founders while reading Stephen King short stories on my beach towel, Brooklyn Nets cap pulled down to shade my eyes.

King often puts me in the right mood for New England. Yes, his stories take place in Maine, for the most part, but the setting is not so different. Characters (especially pre-AA King characters) drink “Gansett” beer and speak fondly of Sox baseball, as they do on Aquidneck Island. King could’ve just as easily been walking down an old road in South Kingstown when he got hit by that infamous van in North Lovell. I’m probably showing some ignorance here, and I apologize if I offend any Mainers or Rhode Islanders when I draw the comparison. There is simply an air of old world strangeness akin to those old King tales I grew up reading that I can’t seem to shake when I’m in the Northeast part of the country. It’s electric with the unseen and a sense of foreignness that excites and intrigues me. I am falling in love again.

Sitting on Second Beach, I made the decision to put down my book and climb to the top of the dunes behind where we collected as a group of beach-goers. I set to walking up the steep bank, patched with grass like sophomore facial hair, and when I reached the top, I gazed out over the entirety of the beach, taking in the great rocks where children perched like Fraggles, lean bodies toasting in the sun. Behind us, away from the shoreline was a large, grassy marsh that turned into a dark pond almost out of sight. A green hill sloped up from it’s bank on which stood a cottage with deep brown clapboard siding, in the old New England style. In that moment, I wanted to live in that house, waking up every morning to pour myself a cup of steaming hot coffee, the Boston Herald lazing beneath the Newport Daily on my table, bitching about Trump and supplying fishing reports. I’d finish my cup, collect myself on the seat of an old bicycle, and pedal to the dock to cast out for striped bass and fluke after doing a healthy amount of writing in my study, of course, where paintings of local lighthouses don the walls.

It’s fairly idealistic, and I’ll admit that I’m the first to fantasize about where I’m going to live next, even if I just moved to a place. The prospects have included Nashville, New York City, Buenos Aires, Chattanooga, Denver, Memphis, and countless other places, some of which I’ve actually lived and others that remain potential homes where I’ll raise my future family with my future wife. I have always been a restless person, and I’ve quit trying to quit. It’s in my nature; I’ve accepted it.

The trip back to the city was more or less eventful. I95 in Connecticut is something the devil concocted, stretched out with bumper to bumper traffic of some of the biggest, gaping assholes you ever did see. Sharing the road with those morons, I admit I lost my temper once or twice and had to be talked down from the precipice, as I put my entire weight on the horn for a solid minute and a half, furious at the lime green Boxter in front of us that cut us off and then kept stopping abruptly with a license place that read “GoKaaart” just begging to be destroyed. Marisa and Kate, I apologize. Again. Turns out I’m one of the assholes too.

Leaving Rhode Island for Brooklyn felt strange, like leaving for Nashville from Mississippi before I called it home. Coming to a halt in Stanford, I let myself have that fantasy again, the one where I get home from work and walk across the street to sit with Jud Crandall from Pet Sematary and drink a few too many ‘Gansetts’ and talk about politics or the latest sports gossip—that is, before any horrifying events unfold and I bury my wife and child in an ancient MicMac burial ground. And in that moment, I was happy. I was satisfied just sitting there with him on the front porch in my mind, listening to folksy wisdom in his coarse New England accent and talking about Mississippi and how the two places really aren’t so different.

Maybe it will happen. Maybe I’ll pack my things in a few years and get the hell away from everyone and everybody. Who knows. Shit happens and things change in an instant, but for now, I’ll sit tight. Brooklyn is home, and it will be for the foreseeable future. New York City still holds some magic for me of which I’ve yet to shake or grow tired, but the more I think about New England, its old roads with fading white houses at the end, the more that old feeling starts again and I start to look at maps to see how far I can go before I’m too far away.

 

 

 

 

On Delusions There Are

I bought my guitar at Corner Music on 12th Ave. in Nashville, TN the day after my ex-wife and I split our joint bank account into two, very separate bank accounts. Having no piano in my new apartment, I needed something to play, something to control with my hands and bring some good into my world again. What I got was a lot of anger and a lot of grieving, a fight between playing hymns or playing Bright Eyes. I settled for both. It’s crazy what you turn to, you know? After work, I would pick up my guitar and play, attempting to sort things out with impressions and sounds just to see what might come out of my mouth. Thankfully, I had some experience with the guitar, and so I wasn’t starting from scratch (my now calloused fingers would like a word with me on that one). I didn’t really want to talk to god. I didn’t really want to talk to anyone. I only wanted to talk to myself.

Where was I between June 7th, 2013 and July 7th, 2015? This and other questions permeated my thought process. My prayers, Hail Mary’s to the heavens, became poems to music at my bedside every night. Three other guys, to whom I feel I literally owe my life (They gave me a room to myself but wouldn’t leave me alone in it), occupied the same space as I, and so I tried my best to keep practice hours to a minimum when they were around. I was juggling some heavy shit, and I suck at juggling.

Everyday

I can’t tell you how uncomfortable I was, waiting for things to be finalized. When someone very close to you does something seemingly irrational and unanticipated, it stands that the person isn’t to be trusted (at least for a while) to do what you expect or to act in your self-interest. And so I waited for the wrong to go wronger, never kidding myself for a minute that the situation was as bad as it could’ve been. I had no sense of humor about that shit. So I sang.

Everyday was the result. I like that song. It’s desperate and honest and a moment captured in time just like I was. I wanted, needed, to speed up and move me like a river to somewhere else, anywhere else, where I could finally feel truly known and loved without so much conflict in my life. I am literally begging for peace that I’m not sure will ever settle on me. I’m writing this now and thinking that song is like a time machine in more ways than one. Not only did it give me what I needed to move forward but here and now it has the ability to transport me back to Rosemary and those uncertainties I felt then. I’ll sing that song to my kids, and then one day, I’ll tell them what it’s about. Maybe it’ll be of some use to them. Maybe not.

Finally

There’s a guy in my mind that, upon hearing a “happy song”, simply dismisses it as bullshit that isn’t real. Happiness. What does that even mean? Well, it isn’t some end-goal. I don’t think you can stake that elusive sumbitch to the ground, although there are a lot of people who try. I mistrust him about as much as I mistrust that an eight-year Trump presidency will go just peachy (winky face).

But Holy Hot Tomale, Batman, I met a goofy girl when I moved to New York that actually made me feel good about things again, and I thought, maybe this time it will be different. Maybe this time, I’ll feel like I belong to something I can really lean into. And so I did what every newcomer to the guitar does: I stole a Mayer chord and wrote a musically catchy but lyrically sub-par song around it.

Finally, in a lot of ways, is the opposite number to Everyday, a song about waiting around for an end that might never come. Reaching out for just a scrap of hope and expecting none stopped when I met Marisa. Finally, I had a reason to dance and someone willing to dance with me. That’s enough, sometimes. It’s enough to push you past thinking about the grand scheme of things and what’s real and what isn’t, who’s wrong and who’s right, even if it’s just for that tiny moment. You’re just doing your damnedest not to step on your partner’s toes.

Window

There isn’t a person who’s read David Foster Wallace that doesn’t have an opinion on him, even if that opinion is that he can be a bit longwinded at times. He was a tragically brilliant savant with incredible articulation and an ability to dissect a feeling and show you what’s inside of it. He also wrote that brick of a novel, Infinite Jest, in which I couldn’t get further than 200 pages. In 2008, DFW hung himself from the rafters of his patio. He’d suffered from an alleged 20 year battle with depression that he could no longer fight. In an interview a several years before his death, Wallace discussed suicide as such:

“The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don’t!’ and ‘Hang on!’ can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.”

It’s a fucking brilliant quote, right? Anyone who knows the realities of clinical depression can tell you what a godddamned devil it is. You burn. You burn all the time, and although there are flashes of beauty and brilliance, when the stars align and the music carries you up and over the enormity of the black, you can still feel those flames, licking up from behind you, reminding you that they will still be there when you come down. And you will come down.

My friends, the thought occurs to me and I contemplate the jump. I think the thing that’s walked me back time and time again has been the memory of hugging the mother of someone who has just left the window, holding her in her confusion, destitution, and strange nonsense. The ones that are left behind feel no relief. They feel no peace. They break and then enter a different kind of burning that sets their minds afire with an unwavering madness.

They are never the same.

Window isn’t just about that, but it’s a huge part. I wrote the first lines of the last verse initially. They were the ones that don’t really settle down. Everything else is pretty self-explanatory, but I needed people to know “I could not stand beside the challenge of a different man who chose a window over the fires behind.” Then again, the heat never stops, not completely.

Hosanna

What is happiness? I asked that question earlier, and I still don’t trust it or know what it is. But I know what I’d like it to be. Paradise and the idea of a utopia sometimes brings to mind huge blimps over a sprawling retro-futuristic metropolis, one of classic Orwellian scrutiny. When I think of Paradise, I think about Jayber Crow, and living in one place your whole life, watching it grow from behind your barber chair and sipping whiskey from your front porch at the end of a day worthy of your name. “Riches, I need not nor man’s empty praise,” but I’d be content with the security of enough. That’s where I want to go.

But I don’t think Hosanna is a particularly happy song. Jesus arrived in Jerusalem to palm leaves and praises only to be betrayed, beaten, and broken. Jerusalem wasn’t his home, either. I wonder if he trusted that his arrival would bring peace. It hasn’t. I don’t know that it can. All of the things I list off in that song are things that I want so bad I can feel them brushing just beyond my fingertips. They are right there, which is the worst kind of prison. Batman taught me that.

Delusions There Are Ep

This EP, Delusions There Are, isn’t just a couple songs to me. I put some of my soul on display, and I am damned proud of the way it turned out. It isn’t perfect, but for someone with minimal recording experience, at best, I felt I did alright. It wasn’t about the quality, anyway. For me, this was about sharing part of the story and maybe giving others something they could lean on and trust. They are just songs, but songs have moved me and lifted me up and out of the ditch in some of the hardest times of my life. I only wanted to do the same thing for someone else.

And I’m now starting to work on the album, which will be coming out probably next summer. It won’t be as stripped down or all acoustic. I’m hoping to add some electronics and more layers to the sound; that’s not to say I won’t have a few raw tracks there. It all depends on what works and what doesn’t.

There are so many people to thank. Marisa has been nothing but an absolute delight in every single way. She pushed me to do this, revamped my shitty website, created the album artwork, and kept encouraging me until the work was done. I could’ve done it without her, but it likely would’ve been crap.

Paul Lowder told me to buy a Yeti Microphone, which was a dope suggestion.

Mary Alice Truitt and Jess Vieira listened to my shit to make sure it didn’t suck as much as I thought it might. Outside opinions, checks and balances, are key. You can’t create amazing things in a vacuum. Franz Kafka did, but he was a goddam genius. I’m just a human person.

Melinda Petty gave me my first seed money to record some songs and put them on CD when I was in high school. She believed in me even then enough to hand me over a pretty huge donation for a kid in high school that had no cash, whatsoever. She also cut my hair from when I was a baby to when I was 18.

I know these songs and the things I write sometimes make my parents feel pretty conflicted. Sometimes the truth is hard to hear; I know that, and I’m thankful you still love me. We disagree on a lot these days, but I still owe you everything.

This is literally a shameless plug. I want people to listen as long as there is something to say. Everyone deserves to be heard.

I still haven’t built the box in which I put everything I have, but maybe one day I’ll be able to look back and say, “There’s still room.”

Michial

Delusions There Are EP can be downloaded here.

On Mastering the Mundane

My room is quiet.

You wouldn’t think so, living in the city, but it’s true. With the exception of the occasional rumble of the local train, coursing the rails from Harlem to Downtown Manhattan, every dust particle floating through the air hangs on the absence of sound (can you hear Simon and Garfunkel playing softly in the recesses of your mind right now, because I surely cannot). There are tombs noisier than this.
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