Back in the Summer of 1992 I was working my one, and only, renaissance festival. What is amusing about this is that the show was not, in fact, the one I had grown up around. Despite being closely tied to the Bay Area Renaissance Festival for many years, the only gig I’ve ever actually been an official cast member at was Scarborough Faire in Waxahachie, Texas.
Like many folks who traveled and worked with the renaissance festival circuit, I set up a tent in the woods back behind the festival grounds to live in during the time I was employed at the show. The small section I “lived” in during that time was populated by myself, my friends Holly and Donnie, and a Rainbow Hippie.
One year I asked my Mom to get me a dog for Christmas.
I don’t remember how old I was at the time, but I must have been fairly young. Young enough that the memory of that particular Christmas is the only crisp one I have of that particular time in my life. You know how there are certain memories you have that are so bright and vivid that the minute you think of them you feel like you are there in the moment all over again?
2010 is drawing to an end, and in only a few days we’ll be hosting our last (and biggest) party of the year with our annual Nightmare Before Christmas party. As I sort through the various Christmas Cards (none of which will be reciprocated this year – sorry folks), I stumble across the occasional Holiday Letter. This is kind of a tradition on the Andres side of my family. I have quite a few of the ones that my Grandmother sent out, and every year my Mother and Uncles do their own versions that they include with their Christmas Cards. I even did a few myself, but with my immersion into the world of blogging it seemed like most of the people who I would send out that letter to would already know what was going on. When you consider the fact that I kind of suck at getting out cards to begin with, putting the additional pressure of writing a letter to include with them on myself seemed kinda pointless.
I had a thought this morning. I wanted to write something, but I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to write about. I did some work on other things for a few hours, figuring that perhaps at some point during that time period I would have an idea and I could subsequently transform that idea into words.
It didn’t happen.
So, I thought, I’ll dig through the photos on my computer until I find a picture that I haven’t posted before that inspires me to write about it. I did some digging, and I came up with the image above. Technically speaking I have posted this image in the past, but it was on my old web site that has now been completely retired so for many of you this is “new.”
In the grand scheme of things, Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. It is, however, also a holiday that often makes me feel very awkward when it comes to actually participating in the traditional method of celebrating it.
Recently a friend of mine posted in her blog about some of her first loves. Reading that got me to thinking about my first girlfriend, Lynnetta Boehle.
We dated for a few weeks when we were in the 8th grade. Then she moved. I have suspected on more than one occasion that the only reason she agreed to date me in the first place is because we were friends and she knew that it would only last a short time before she was in another state. The reason I suspect this is because after she moved she never returned any of my letters to her.
What I recall of our brief relationship was pretty awesome, though. She was a great kisser, and she didn’t seem to shy away from the fact that I called her my Black Cat (and I was, of course, her Spider-Man…yes, that’s right…my pet names for us were based on my favorite comic book).
I found out that our relationship was over when she sent a letter to one of our mutual friends talking about her new boyfriend and wondering how she was going to tell me. Considering the fact that she hadn’t said word one to me since she moved I’m not sure exactly why that was a concern, but hey…we were young. I’m pretty sure that she knew I’d find out from said mutual friend.
Lynnetta moved back to the area a few years later and ended up at my high school. In an effort to re-kindle our relationship I took the bold step of “borrowing” my Mom’s car while she was out of town on vacation, picking her up at her bus stop, and taking her back to my place to skip school for the day. In an utterly awesome romantic mood I threw a movie into the VCR to get her to relax and have a good time.
You know what movie it was?
Transformers : The Movie.
In High School. 10th grade, I think. My idea of “woo” was to show the girl I liked a cartoon about giant fucking robots.
I sometimes wonder how I ever managed to actually breed.
Several of these choices have taken me some time to decide on, but this one was a given from the moment I saw the title.
My Father and I didn’t have a whole heck of a lot in common. He was raised on a farm and wore cowboy boots even if he had shorts on. He spent his entire life working with his hands. He served in the military. His favorite author was Louis Lamour. He was a good old boy in every sense of the word.
Obviously, this is not me.
Given all that, it’s probably pretty obvious that he was a big fan of Country music. I, for the record, am not. There are artists from that genre who I admire a great deal though, and one artist who I shared a love with my Father for was Johnny Cash.
I first heard this song several years after my Father passed away, and the minute I did it instantly became “his” song in my mind. As a Nine Inch Nails fan, it seemed to perfectly bridge the gap between our two worlds. Not only that, but the message of the song itself strongly resonates with the demons my Father dealt with in his life (He was an alcoholic and only sobered up for real in his last few years).
Most of the time when I hear this song I am overcome by sadness as I remember my Father and wish he were still here. He never got to see me perform on stage, and my son hardly remembers him. He was, despite his many flaws, a good man. A decent man who made a lot of mistakes but really made an effort to try and make up for them.
I have a good life, and I don’t want to ever give the impression that I do not. I have a wonderful son, a wonderful other half, a home, and a good job. I act on a fairly regular basis, and I’m moderately active in social networking circles. I’ve got it pretty good.
I am, however, acutely aware of the missed opportunities in my life. Two things, in particular. I am aware of how much damage I did to my body by not making the conscious choice to be healthy until my late twenties, and of how I pissed away the opportunity to actually go to college full time. More so than my weight, the fact that I did not take my education seriously until it was far too late for me to devote all of my energy to it is a constant source of shame and sadness for me.
I had a taste of what is described in this song. One small, fleeting moment in my life that I can still remember vividly to this day. Six months that I absolutely pissed away and which I describe as being miserably lonely, and yet I can recall countless moments from that time period that still make me smile to this day.
The first day of orientation and how excited and nervous I was. Sitting in the Student Hall surrounded by other students like myself and feeling all of that energy in the room.
Sharing a cigarette with my English professor on the steps of the building our class was in and realizing that we were sitting right next to the spot where George Wallace protested the integration of the University of Alabama.
The first time I went to the gamers meeting and realizing that I wasn’t the only geek on campus.
Seeing comedian Henry Cho at the campus nightclub, and how he was having so much fun just telling us stories about his college days that he went about an hour over when he was supposed to finish.
Spending my Sundays with old family friends at their home outside of Tuscaloosa watching the Buccaneers play.
The absolute stunning beauty of the campus at the University of Alabama.
The parade of honking cars that snaked all over campus the night we beat the Auburn.
Hanging out with my Hall Monitor and thinking that the math he was studying was something I’d never even come close to comprehending.
Watching Twin Peaks in the basement of Mann Hall, the residence hall on campus that didn’t have monitors because you basically had to be a MENSA member to get in. As a result it was the place where you could score the best drugs and there was ALWAYS some kind of party going on.
I could go on, but I need to get ready to go to work and as much as I am enjoying this trip down memory lane there’s nothing I can do to get these experiences back. That’s why this song makes me sad. If I had simply done the bare minimum…just put out SOME kind of effort…I could have had four or more years to build these kind of memories. I am, alas, stuck with a mere six months.
More than some people get for sure, but not nearly enough by far.
The post that follows is not intended as an attack on any individuals religious beliefs, nor is it intended to offend. It is an honest account of my personal feelings on a very sensitive subject. If you read on, please understand that this is how I feel about the subject and respect that. I will do the same for you.
I did a search on the old blog here and have discovered that, much to my surprise, I do not seem to have ever chronicled the story behind what prompted me to turn my back on God. I’ve told the story many times in the past, but for some reason I don’t seem to have ever jotted it down here.
As some of you are aware I was recently in a church production called “The Case For Christ” in which I actually played Jesus. I did this as a favor for a former teacher of mine from middle school who was a key player in my early development as an actor and who I will, as a result, always owe a debt of gratitude to. Beyond that, I consider her a friend. One of my super close inner circle? No, perhaps not. But she was one of those people who actually treated me like a human being back when I wasn’t even sure I was one, and during those transitional years when you are crossing from childhood to being a young adult it’s important who have people that treat you like you didn’t just step out of diapers the day before. She did that, and she’s awesome for it.
The play in and of itself was written and being performed by members of her church. This was not something that was intended to be a piece of high art. It was intended to tell part of the story of Jesus and to, perhaps, convince some people to accept him into their lives. It was, for all intents and purposes, a sermon in theatrical format.
I won’t go into too much more detail about the play itself, as it will one day be an episode in my podcast about the theater. Suffice it to say that before I agreed to do the show I warned her that I was an agnostic and that I didn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable if they found that out. She assured me that it was ok, and as a favor to her I agreed to do the show.
In the aftermath she sent me an email to ask about my beliefs. I thought I’d be able to take the easy way out and point her to a post here. When I realized that I could not do so, I decided I’d go ahead and correct that oversight.
Alex approached me as I was getting ready for bed last night to tell me that his blood glucose level was low. This was, quite honestly, a bit of a shocker considering how much food we had eaten over at our friend Kari’s house during the course of the day. I realized, though, that I’d had him take his evening shot of insulin when we got home and that he hadn’t eaten anything since so it made sense. It was just weird. In any case I told him that he could go ahead and make himself something to eat because I was about to literally pass out in my chair and I was not in the mood to stay up and cook something for him.
“Oooh!,” he says to me, “I’ll fry up some fish!”
Alex got a deep fryer for Christmas. He didn’t get it from me, and when I saw it on the list of things that he wanted for Christmas that he passed on to his Grandmother I specifically told her that she did not have to go out of her way to get it for him. She did, though, and now he’s the proud owner of a Sensio 13401 Bella Cucina 3-1/2-Liter Stainless-Steel Deep Fryer. While I must admit that having a deep fryer is pretty much the height of awesome if you’re a teenager and you like to cook, this item concerns me for a number of reasons. The obvious one is, of course, the fact that I’m overweight and have had two strokes and fried foods are really not good for me. On top of that, though, I have that whole parent fear of him burning himself while using it or burning down our house (or both). This is an irrational fear, and I am aware of it, but that doesn’t stop me from having it. Like me, the boy is silly and can be highly irresponsible, but as a general rule he takes himself pretty seriously when he’s cooking and he’s never given me a reason to think that he’d do something stupid that would result in injury to person or property.