I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy… By: Charles Westerman

January & February have offered a lot of opportunities to build character– breakups, lost wallets (finally found after a week and a half!), flat tires, seasonal depression, dainty paychecks, running out of gas because the gage broke, quitting smoking (again), hellacious colds, watching Colin Kaepernick make the Packers defense look like devouring a creme puff, our cheap vacuum breaking…

Needless to say, I’ve been thinking about Job a lot lately. But at 22 you don’t have time for pity parties. You’ve got an identity to find, a career doing something you love to make happen, muscles to build at the gym, and a healthy relationship with Christ to maintain.

Luckily I’ve got an amazing sister-in-law who challenges me to rise to the occasion. Thank you Tara for helping me remember the importance of stocking a heart full of thankfulness.

Below is the 101-things-I’m-thankful-for list. Written by a school bus driver living in Portland who bums around coffee shops in between routes trying to write his first book.

1- When parents go out of there way to stop and let me make my turn leaving the school.

2- The names in my “favorites” on my phone.

3- That moment when I drop my kids off and crank up Colin Cowherd.

4- Having a best friendship like Turk & JD.

5- Spotify. Spotify. Spotify.

6- Living four blocks from a cheap seat/indie movie theater (2-for-1 Tuesdays: tickets $2/piece).

7- How I never get sick of bananas or homemade sandwiches.

8- The “Right Away, Great Captain!” Trilogy– where literature meets musical form.

9- The loyalty of the Westerman-brotherhood.

10- Spending twenty hours a week doing what I love.

11- Eavesdropping on conversations in coffee shops.

12- Driving by the Rose City Skyline every morning before the sun comes up. Donald Miller described it as, “the Willamette River wears the skyline like a queen wearing a beautifully jeweled crown” or something to that effect. The imagery is amazing.

13- Imagery.

14- That moment once a month when all I want is a can of coka-cola.

15- Reading a book that makes you forget to look at the page numbers when you turn them.

16- The first day you wake up and realize your cold is gone.

17- The steam room at my gym… Or as I like to call it, “the think tank.”

18- Gas in the tank.

19- How every time I walk out of a good action movie I can feel my testosterone pumping and my confidence boosted.

20- Daniel Craig: my favorite James Bond.

21- The only piece of clothing I’ve bought since I moved to Portland– my golden-brown corduroy Levi’s.

22- True moments of wit.

23- Flirting with cute baristas.

24- The moment you realize you’re going to be able to pay your bills for the month.

25- How putting on cologne makes your posture better.

26- Old men talking about old music with a youthful gaze.

27- The lack of boring people in Portland.

28- Working to master the perfect School Bus Driver wave.

29- Great art on album-covers.

30- Swanky Christmas sweaters (with elbow pads) from Aunt Katie.

31- When my kids get my jokes.

32- Watching the ways people display their love for each other in a school bus yard.

33- My new friend Manny.

34- My super warm brown hoodie I’ve had since junior year of high school.

35- The comically looking naked fairy-lady riding a bike on a pack of playing cards (I mean… Who came up with that?)

36- Similes and metaphors.

37- Stories in the Bible that involve prostitutes.

38- Deep breaths.

39- My $15 queen sized fleece blanket from Target.

40- When people ask me what my tattoo on my wrist means.

41- My super functional $20 pair of big headphones.

42- Hour-plus phone calls with TJ.

43- People who genuinely want to listen to me play a song I wrote.

44- Capturing your mood with the perfect pizza toppings.

45- New pictures of Beck on Facebook.

46- When old people talk about my generation optimistically.

47- A hot shower in the dark of Winter.

48- When Brendon calls me out for being a lame human being.

49- Sally– our grandmother in Portland. Every time I walk away from an interaction with her I feel better about myself and life. I hope I have that effect on people when I’m old and wise.

50- Tossing the pigskin with Trav and Bren in the big empty parking lot next to our house and mastering the back shoulder throw.

51- The moment in the morning when the heaters finally get warm on my bus.

52- Places where you can see for miles.

53- Ted Talks.

54- Waking up everyday knowing my mom’s already covered me with the blood of Christ.

55- Not having homework.

56- Driving bus in neighborhoods that look like The Shire meets Beverly Hills.

57- That Jesus told us not to worry about tomorrow.

58- Breakfast sandwiches.

59- Well-made documentaries.

60- The dictionary app on my phone.

61- Wordplay.

62- Still being able to get a good men’s haircut for $9 (thank you Jenny the super noble/humble Asian lady).

63- Putting on a thermal shirt at 6 a.m. on a winter morning.

64- For reasons that would take too long to explain, my parking stall at the bus garage.

65- Days when my mood is copacetic with the typical gray winter day in Portland.

66- Blowing my nose.

67- Rooms with lots of windows.

68- A good bouncy ball.

69- How Travis can’t help but sing in a country twang.

70- Writing songs with my two best friends and how that’s a healthy way we can bond with each other.

71- Days where it’s clear enough to see Mt. Hood.

72- Moms Valentine’s Day cards with ridiculously long, genuine notes written in them about how much she loves me.

73- Everything you learn at 22.

74- The sound of myself typing.

75- Getting kissed on the neck.

76- The grumpy old man at the bus garage with the glorious, bushy Gandoff-white eyebrows.

77- Being reunited with my Mr. Rodgers cardigan after two years.

78- When they FINALLY call your number at the DMV.

79- Alkai Beach.

80- That “Fun.” won two Grammies this year.

81- Getting to be one of the only people in the world who witnessed Trav eat Indian food for the first time.

82- Extra crispy hash browns.

83- Having a spare tire.

84- Getting together with old friends from college.

85- Having a nice big room to pace around in while I talk on the phone.

86- A well written hit pop song (rare, but beautiful when it happens).

87- Taking the perfect dump.

88- Charles Woodson’s time in a Packers uniform.

89- Lebrons hot streak.

90- Pacific Northwest Architecture.

91- Three day weekends.

92- One on one chats with Max over video games.

93- Taking the Wandering Summer Road Trip and being blessed with the financial resources to make it happen.

94- Lunch meat.

95- Shooting pool.

96- The $25 Chipotle gift card Jonah’s parents gave me for Valentine’s Day.

97- Arthur’s Automotive and their $22 oil change services four blocks from our house.

98- Getting a free donut at Starbucks today

99- The way Brian Regan pronounces the word “volcano”.

100- Crushing an open mike night.

101- Faux blue roses.

Fire Escape. A song. Written & performed by Charles Westerman

So this is by no means very polished, but I’ve wanted to shoot and post one of my songs for awhile now (thanks to Brendon for doing a good job shooting it in one take). Songwriting is a hobby I picked up when I got to college, and as far as hobbies go– it’s one of my favorites. By now I’ve been doing it for about five years. I consider myself way more of a songwriter than a musician, so though the guitar playing is very average and simplistic, if one was going to try and appreciate the song, they’d listen more for the lyrics and my attempts to layer unique, more complex melodic deliveries over the top of simple four-chord progressions. In other words, try and listen to how the song was written and created rather than listening to the song.

This is a love song, written for no particular girl, but rather its more of a tribute to all the best nights I’ve had with some pretty amazing girls it didn’t end up working out with. It’s an attempt to accept that old annoying saying about how its better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all. Anyway, it’s called Fire Escape. I hope you enjoy it. And Happy Valentine’s Day!

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/59632424″>Fire Escape</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user10547437″>mOUNTbRENDON</a&gt; on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Fire Escape Lyrics–

(Verse)

i sat with my lips pressed against the ink script on your back

everything i read is just fine

your big curls cover my eyes like some chocolate colored house blinds

everything i see is just fine

(Bridge 1)

and i rise with your sun dress

and i melt into your hot mess

as we spill over the edge of the earth

we drop like flaming arrows

yeah we fall like special sparrows

singing providence will make us work

and we don’t fear the end

because we don’t know when it is

for now we can finally fly (2x)

(Chorus)

and we blew up on your fire escape

in pieces of you and little bits of me

we were shooting up the night

and i finally got the feeling that i got the best of time

for once it was on my side and

i tangoed with the clock with it’s hands locked into mine

and we grew up this way

with a little bit of give and whole lot of take

(Bridge 2)

yeah lets just take

lets just take time to make time

we can’t stop it, but we can slow dance to the rhythm of the night

feet not to the left, but dressed just right, i’d say we’re at our best tonight

(Chorus)

and we blew up on your fire escape

in pieces of you and little bits of me

we were shooting up the night

and i finally got the feeling that i got the best of time

for once it was on my side and

i tangoed with the clock with it’s hands locked into mine

we grew up this way

with a little bit of give and whole lot of take

(Bridge 2b/Outro)

yeah lets just take

lets just take time to make time

we can’t stop it, but we can slow dance to the rhythm of the night

feet not to the left and dressed just right, i’d say we’re at our best tonight

well i sat with my lips pressed against the ink script on your back

everything i read is just fine

your big curls cover my eyes like some chocolate colored house blinds

everything i see is just fine

I’m Fickle. Deal with it. – mOUNTbRENDON

Fickle:

1. Likely to change, especially due to caprice, irresolution, or instability; casually changeable: fickleweather.
2. Not constant or loyal in affections: a fickle lover.
Here are some conclusions I’ve reached about myself:
I’m finding I am a very fickle person. Sometimes it’s difficult growing up and realizing you’re not exactly the person you’ve always perceived, but a much more flawed and frustrating version of that person.
I’ve also looked up the definition of bipolar disorder frequently and took a self test earlier today. Turns out I have “moderate to severe” symptoms. But who can trust such online quizes anyway? Because when you look up such a quiz, you probably suspect you have it and probably unconsciously exaggerate your answers a bit.
I’m glad I wasn’t a psychology major.
We all hide parts of ourselves, the trick is to uncover as much as we can – which is a very slow and grueling process, especially if you’re an introvert.
As Charlie Westerman says, “Open people open people.”
I enjoy being mysterious.
And throwing people off balance. (Figuratively of course)
I do not enjoy calling people and the less I text, the happier I am. I apologize to those of you who that may effect, and obviously I do enjoy both of those things sometimes and find them useful, but I’m starting to consider my cell phone as more of a landline that I use and answer only when I’m good and ready. Is that selfish? I doubt it. I want to start writing more letters though, so how’s that sound?
Sometimes I am extremely optimistic, other times I am equally pessimistic if not more so.
The simplest decisions overwhelm me. I think that’s why I am at times ridiculously passive and willing to let others make my decisions for me, or attach myself to others and follow the crowd, and why I would be a terrible leader or business man, or anything like that.
It’s also why I hate going into grocery stores. There are too many effing choices.
And if I’m shopping for something and the person trying to sell me whatever it is I’m trying to buy, the more options they give and the more explanations they give of those options, the more I want to bury my head in the dirt.
It often takes me half a day to process a simple question I’ve been asked. Or at least until after the conversation has ended.
Occasionally I still listen to bands like Underoath and Maylene and the Sons of Disaster.
About four or five months after my Senior Seminar midterm, I thought of a really good essay to write about.
Typically, I didn’t talk unless I was called on in my college classes.
I’ve gotten really good at pretending I know what people are saying, when really I often only catch about half the conversation.
I’m kind of a coward. That’s probably why I’m a writer and not an activist.
I don’t know shit about cars.
There are a lot of times I make stupid jokes that don’t sound like jokes, so people don’t take them as jokes, and I never let them know they are in fact jokes.
Sometimes talking at all seems like a chore.
Writing this post has caused me to burst out in laughter several times.
I sympathize most with crazy people.
But, don’t worry, my mission in life is to find hope and I will never quit. You know why? Because I believe there is a God. Sue me.

Yes. I’m going to make it awkward. — By: Charles Westerman

I want to freak people out more. I want to make it awkward.

Seriously. I drive a school bus filled with Junior Highers everyday, and you’d be surprised at the lack of differences between their attempts to look cool compared to the attempts of people my age.

“Hey! Check out my new ironic Captain Planet tattoo… It’s ironic right? I just want to be like, so ironic so people will think I’m smart and interesting and hip. Um, yeah… can I get a gluten free scone please? And the most pretentious wheat beer you’ve got.”

Ugh.

How about being a real, authentic, original person instead?

Ever since my freshman year of college I’ve felt like I’m sweating buckets wearing a jacket of cool to cover up the heart that’s on the sleeve of my weird t-shirt. In the name of transparency and soul odor, consider the following list of everything that’s not cool about me, the shedding of a layer.

1)   I still pick my nose. And not just every once in awhile. All. The. Time.

2)   I fuss with my hair in the mirror. A lot.

3)   I’m a virgin.

4)   I’m a hopeful romantic.

5)   I like songs about death.

6)   There’s a lot of woman who can bench press more than me.

7)   Sometimes I just wear dirty underwear for a few days instead of doing my laundry.

8)   A good fart still makes me giggle.

9)   I prefer Target, but shopping at Wal-Mart doesn’t make my skin crawl.

10) I think my favorite song right now is the new Taylor-Swift-goes-Britney one.

11) It wasn’t a mutual breakup. She dumped me.

12) I honestly don’t know what “tumblr” is.

13) I haven’t heard of 95% of the authors people tell me are “must-reads.”

14) The inside of my car is pretty disgusting.

15) I have no idea how to do my taxes.

16) Sometimes I just open up a jar of peanut butter and go to town with my finger.

17) I really don’t hate chick-flicks.

18) I’m still very self-conscious.

19) I LOVED Dashboard Confessional in high school. Still do.

20) Sometimes I give my brother’s beagle’s wiener a little tickle.

21) I’ve never seen Casa Blanca.

22) Yes. I’m almost twenty-three and it wouldn’t be a stretch for me to pass for seventeen.

23) In the last month I’ve googled “bi-polar disorder” twice.

24) I cry at least once a week.

25) For a single guy in his early twenties, I sure think about my wife and kids a lot.

Taking A Shot– By: Charles Westerman

I wrote this essay a couple weeks ago and thought maybe it would be a nice update on my life for anyone whose curious on where it’s at. Enjoy. 

I’ve been living in Portland for a little over a month now. The summer has uncharacteristically stuck around for a few weeks longer than it usually does, and believe it or not, this is the first day it’s rained since I moved here.

I should be writing on my other projects I’ve been working on, but I’m tired of writing about things where I have to think and structure and debate the moral integrity of my words. I just want to sit and drink my coffee in my blue chaise lounger and write words blindly. I want to wax philosophic and poetic and talk about things I’m still coming to grips with.

Once or twice a week, my roommate and best friend who I moved to Portland with – Brendon is his name – have these nights where we remember why we moved to the city to be writers. We talk like young men who are scratching and clawing excitedly to uncover their concrete purpose in the universe.

Such a night was last night. We met up for a drink with my friend Andrea who I know from working at my college newspaper. She works at the main newspaper in Portland, The Oregonian, and brought her friend Katherine who also works there. Both of them are the kind of people you want to sit down for a drink with.

We met them at this little hole in the wall bar called the Vintage Cocktail Lounge on the Stark street strip four blocks from our duplex on 78th avenue and Burnside. It’s already become our usual place. We’ve lived in the Montavilla neighborhood for about two weeks and have already been there three times.

They have a special called, “The Local” which consists of a single-shot of wells whiskey and a cheap tallboy for five bucks. If we’re feeling classier, they make great Old-Fashioned’s—garnishing them with both an orange wedge and real cherries, which they crush in the bottom of the cup before they do anything else.

It will be our McClaren’s Pub—our Central Perk. It’s long and thin and has crimson painted walls and artsy posters that were probably bought at Hobby Lobby. It’s not original or great art, but its pleasant to look at and goes with the vibe. The bartenders are social and want to remember your name and have you become regulars. The bar is two-thirds the length of the room and is a generous width. The shelves holding the liquor go from a foot above the floor to a foot above your head. Behind the shelves the wall is fitted with tin-tiles that are all imprinted with the same, thoughtful design. The beautiful aesthetic of the shelves communicates the honor the owners feel to the bottles of liquids that keep this place afloat

We sat at this bar with Andrea and Katherine and talked about the two-choices we had for President. They told us what it was like working in the trenches of a big-city newspaper. We told them what school-bus training was like in the basement with our instructor Gail and our fellow students. There’s Eddiemike, whose first name really is Eddiemike. He grew up in a big Italian family and has lived in Portland his whole life, yet has an almost country-boy friendliness to him. There’s Felice, who is the most pleasant and worrisome woman you’ll ever meet. Always asking Brendon and me if we’re nervous about driving a school bus, because she sure as hell is.  Then there’s Kevin, who has the most sultry-looking face you’ve ever seen, and even though he’s never done me anything to me, I don’t like him. Gail herself is overweight, smells like a basement, and is one of the best school bus trainers in the country. She understands her humble, but important role in the world and strives for excellence in that role and for that I respect her immensely.

Andrea and Katherine listened fervently to the little world we had become an unlikely part of. They thought it was funny we were becoming bus drivers, but not in a condescending way. Not in a “you went to college to become a school bus driver?” way. They seemed to take us seriously when we told them we were going to drive a school bus so we could pay the bills while we got ourselves established as writers. That it was a sensible part-time job because we had to wake up in the morning and do our route, but then had the middle of the day to write until we had to go pick our kids up in the afternoon.

And we would have to write, because we were going to be driving our bus in Lake Oswego fifteen miles away from our home in Montavilla. Fighting traffic to go back home in between routes wasn’t going to be an enticing option, so we might as well post up at a coffee shop and gut some words out while we wait.

We talked like this for a couple hours. About real things and funny things and things people our age in the place we are in talk about. Then we said goodbye and that we should meet like this again because it really had been a great evening filled with great conversation. And all four of us really did mean what we were saying—that we wanted to get together again. It wasn’t a pleasantry and that was refreshing.

Brendon and I walked the four blocks home with energy. Glad that we had met up with the girls, but glad now that we were alone and could talk about what had just happened and what was happening in a larger sense. We got back to our house and he stayed outside with me while I chain-smoked the cigarettes I’m not supposed to be chain-smoking because I said I was going to quit. I laid down on my back and puffed away and looked at the night-sky—it looked like the night-sky usually does in Portland—one all encompassing cloud blanketing the city and shyly reflecting its soft-glow. It’s sullen and peaceful and causes you to reflect on where you are.

We talked about finding security in the insecure life-choices we had made. A couple of small-town kids from Wyoming moving to a city with no jobs lined up and no place to live and enough money to pay our bills for maybe two months. With no choice but to write for our lives and trust that God was going to bless our decision to trust in his provision.

There’s a sense of calm you feel when you take a shot at greatness. When you jump off the cliffs of your future instead of making the slow, sure climb down. There’s a trust that somehow, you’ll fall up into that big-blanket of cloud. That you won’t look back at your life when you’re forty and regret that you never chased your dreams when had the chance, but merely obeyed what you thought was your reality.

 

 

“Cyclops” – a short story by: mOUNTbRENDON

There is a variety of people gathered, sitting around a somewhat long, maybe medium-sized wooden table. The room is your average room; one with pasty white walls and a few paintings hanging, well spaced seemingly at random. Everyone sitting around the table is nicely dressed. Some of the men in suits, some in just well ironed slacks and a nicely patterned tie. All of them have very fancy hair styles and only two are wearing glasses, one rather business like, the other with very wide frames that are striped with brown and black. Are you bored yet?

The women are all very good looking, depending on your definition of good or not and if you are in to making that sort of distinction. The point is, all of the women are wearing their cute business-like skirts and their best jewelry. Because that is what makes a woman good looking. Just kidding, they are all attractive in their very own unique way; a way that is making me think how this story would be better told from a woman’s point of view, but you are stuck with me as your narrator. A man.

Don is the name of one of the men. He is in his mid to late twenties and is the one with the large framed glasses. Wait, no. He is the one sitting next to the guy with the long framed glasses. But that guy is not important for now. For now, it is Don who is of the importance. Don is listening to the guy at the end of the table, the only one standing. At least that is what everyone else thinks, and anyone who would be discretely watching who has nothing to do with narrating this story. I know better, because I am your narrator and I have the specially unfortunate privilege of peering into Don’s head, which is currently thinking about how badly he needs to fart. And I know what you’re thinking, reader. “Awh, this is going to just be a stupid story about farts. That’s why he (the narrator, aka me) made it such a big deal about him being of the male sex.” Well, reader, I am happy to inform you that this story is not at all about farts, though it contains one small, fart-based instance.

Don sits, paying attention with only his face to the bald, standing boss man, but in his mind, Don is thinking about his stomach and how it is pushing some sort of natural methane based gassy substance through his bowls and to the gates of his butt crack. It is beginning to send a physical pain to Don’s stomach, so he leans forward, as if he is suddenly experiencing a sharp spike in interest to what his boss is saying. He has absolutely no idea what his boss is saying, and his change in posture only worsens the gassy pain.

A loud, rubbery noise begins to whisper through the room. No one acknowledges it, but most certainly everyone hears it. The noise, however, then grows and is no longer rubbery and no longer a whisper. It is now a shout resounding that of a yelling goat, and everyone sitting around the table, even the guy with wide brimmed glasses is now looking directly at Don, who suddenly feels a thick liquid leak into his underwear. He can feel the red in his face and looks around the table at everyone, stopping to make eye contact with his boss. Completely and utterly ashamed.

“May I please be excused,” Don growls politely, possibly the only time in history someone has successfully achieved such a polite growl.

BUT, Don never actually farted. That part was all a part of his own imagination. He was able to contain his need to fart and then, realizing the absurdity of the situation his mind has just taken him, he lets slip a slight grin that no one seems to notice except for Shayla, who is sitting directly across the table from Don.

Shayla quickly looks back to the head of the table, frustrated that, yet again, she has accidentally made eye contact with Don, who she only knows to refer to as Don because of his name tag that says, “HELLO, MY NAME IS don.” It’s not like she has been staring at Don this entire time, which she is sure he thinks by now, it’s just a matter of sitting directly across from Don. He could be anyone and this same thing would probably happen, thanks to the simple matter of chance. She is not looking into Don’s eyes, she is repeatedly looking ahead of her at nothing in particular only to eventually realize that her eyes are aimed in the direction of Don’s own eyes. And now he’s going to want to come up and talk to Shayla after this meeting, which she has already missed the point of and has given up attempting to piece together.

She looks over at Don and his smirk is no longer there. He is looking ahead at the boss, who she can’t remember the name of. Don is now giving the occasional nod. But, she knows that the nodding is only an act. She looks at him, quickly examining him, his style, his face, his hair and realizes that if she were the kind of girl to intentionally flirt during a business meeting, she would find Don a very welcoming target. And so she imitates Don for the rest of the meeting, occasionally fake head nodding as if to really be getting some good information out of the rest of the meeting. Once, it finally ends, which she knows only due to her boss’ back now being turned and various people scooting their chairs back to stand up, she makes it a point to intentionally make some clearly-not-an-accident eye contact with Don, who is now fully standing up and stretching his hands above his head as if just waking up from a nap. Shayla finds this act very cute. He puts his hands back down and looks around the room, as if wondering what to do next. Boom. He makes eye contact with Shayla and she holds it, making sure not to be the first to look away, or even say something.

“Exciting meeting, huh,” Don says with a sudden sense of confidence. She knows that she and her not-so-subtle-but-still-slightly-subtle eye contact is the source of said confidence.

“I learned absolutely nothing,” she says softly and smiles. “It was about world poverty, right?” she jokes.

“If by poverty you mean boredom, then yes,” he says. He’s not terribly witty, she thinks, but she can tell he has a good heart. It’s his mannerisms and the tone of his voice. His joke was still enough to get a soft chuckle out of her, and the way he holds the door open for her as they continue their conversation to-go means that he is considerate. She’s been with plenty inconsiderate men. A change is needed.

They walk down the street and he eventually walks her all the way home.

“Well, this is me,” she says and motions up the steps.

“Oh, right,” he says caught off guard, but then he quickly regathers his composure. “I didn’t even realize I was walking you home,” he jokes.  “I had no intentions to walk over to this neighborhood, but I’m sure glad I did. It was really great talking to you.”

She smiles, more brightly than she has since she was a little girl blowing dandelions.

BUT none of this actually happened outside of Shayla’s own head. Don has remained motionless and has hardly even noticed the numerous accidental eye contacts between him and Shayla. She lets out a quiet sigh and turns back to the bald, standing boss at the head of the table.

The bald, standing boss is talking about the corporation that Shayla and Don have just recently been hired on to. The company is not important, but it’s a large corporation so feel free to boo out loud. Go ahead, it’ll start an interesting, not at all hostile conversation with your neighbor. Are you on a subway? A bus? A park bench? A library? Any of those should be a great place for such a conversation.

The bald, standing boss finishes his talk, knowing that only two, maybe three but probably more along the lines of two and a half people listened to any of the words that have been coming out of his mouth for the last half hour. In fact, he didn’t even get to the conclusion that he had written out before hand, because it was completely unnecessary. He probably could have just turned around and walked  out of the room mid sentence and no one would have known any difference. This is completely true and did not just happen in his head (in the contents of the story anyway. So it is just as true as his existence as a fictional character in a fictional story. That clear things up? You’re welcome.) The bald, now walking boss man makes his way to his office where he sits down and stares at the picture of his wife and two little girls on the shelf beside him. They depend on the success of this branch. In many ways, they depend on the success of the meeting he just had, which he knows was a complete failure. He leans back in his chair and thinks about the bottle of scotch he has hidden in the trunk of his car.

Let me just interrupt this story here. I didn’t want this to be a politically charged story about corporate America, but it’s really turning out that way thanks to the damn unnamed bald, now sitting, boss. I would really rather not write a depressing story. Not this time. So let us just either end the story here and save you, the reader, the time it will take to get to the predictable tragic ending, or we can interrupt the story entirely and I will narrate a hypothetical situation in which a fictional character, much different from Don, Shayla, wide brimmed glasses guy, and bald, standing boss, has a strange run in with an actual cyclops, only the cyclops turns out only to be a very tall man who lost his eye at a young age when he fell on a rusty nail.

“Woah,” Jerry thinks as he rounds the corner of the nature trail located in the heart of Seattle, Washington. There is a tall man walking towards him who is wearing a brown shirt that is slightly frayed at the shoulders. The man, as he grows closer is not a man at all, but rather a cyclops.

“Hello,” the cyclops says in a deep, friendly growl – okay, that’s enough paradoxical growls for one narrator. And no one, I’m sure wants to read this story, so I will just end it here. Good night.

The Wandering Summer: Pt. 1– Austin, Texas

I’ve yet to chronicle any of my Great American Road Trip because I’ve been too darn busy meeting people from all walks of life and hanging out with my ugly — I mean older — brother Mick. I promise to do posts on each leg of the trip so far in the next few days while I have some alone time moseying across the Gulf of Mexico. I’ll start with the first leg of the trip right now.

After picking up Mick at Denver International Airport on July 23rd at 9 am, we drove down to Austin to stay with his friends Zac Caputo and Cody Mitchell, who he met in Greece on his backpacking trip last spring.

Highlights included a late night swim in Barton Springs (where I finally learned how to dive), free live music at Blues on the Green, a self-guided tour of the Texas State Capitol, Zac and Mick getting tattoos to commemorate their trip, copious amounts of authentic Texas gourmet fast food (What-a-Burger, Mighty Fine, P.Terry’s, Torchy’s Tacos), a day at Cody’s ranch in Wimberly (complete with a game of creek football), A night on 6th street, an incredible conversation about faith with Zac’s dad Tony in the UT student union, falling in love with Mckayla Maroney at Zac’s friend’s Ian’s amazing house (complete with pool and diving board), A tour of Waldorf high school, and last but not least… being hosted by the Caputo family at their super functional Tejas hacienda (thanks so much Zac, Tony, Vivian and Camille).

There. How’s that for a run-on sentence? Alright, onto the good stuff: Pictures. I apologize if some are a little grainy… It doesn’t look that way when I edit them on my phone.

Texas State Capitol architecture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And people think George W. is an idiot… my travel companion for Texas and New Orleans. He also likes to take frequent cat naps (that’s an SNL reference for those of you who live in caves).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Rotunda.

Mick and Zac cruisin’ down 6th street with fresh tats.

The most intriguing marching band I’ve ever seen (6th street).

Mighty Fine burgers. The name explains itself.

Blues on the Green with the Austin skyline as the backdrop… and oh yeah, check it out, it’s true that in Texas they think they’re their own country.

The Westerman brothers with gentleman and scholar, Zac Caputo. No those aren’t bunny ears… they’re longhorns.

 

 

 

Introducing: The Wandering Summer

Hopefully over the next 40 days, this blog will be a lot sexier than it has the past 100. Yes, my friends, this is me officially announcing that my grand road trip through the states is officially happening. This trip is the meat and potatoes of what I like to call “The Wandering Summer.”

My brother and I will be going through Texas to the coast and then to New Orleans over the course of the next two weeks. After that he’s flying out and I’m going across the Gulf of Mexico to see my some friends in Tallahassee (with stops along the way in any or all of Mobile, Gulf Shores, Pensacola and Panama City).

My friend Matt is meeting me in Tallahassee (fingers crossed) and then we’re driving up to the Carolinas for stays with friends there (including Myrtle Beach, again, fingers crossed).

Next I’m driving up to DC to stay with one of my best friends from college, TJ. After that it’s a little less planned out. Hopefully I can catch the Yankees v. Red Sox game in NY on the 18th of August. Hopefully I can catch a Brewers game on the way back home with my Uncle, his Girlfriend and her Daughters… you get the idea.

Anyway, I’m announcing this because I’m going to try and do a 200-700 word post on each day, so hopefully, in a sense, anyone who wants to can take the trip with me. There might be days where internet access is hard to get, or I’m just too wiped to do one, but damnit I’m going to try my hardest to make this happen. I’d appreciate your prayers as I will be traveling a lot of miles in some pretty hot weather (I’m thinking a breakdown in Mobile in August could get a little chaotic).

An Explanation for A Man Without a Human Head – mOUNTbRENDON

A madman is one who believes himself to be perfectly normal, according to the philosophy of G.K. Chesterton. I have recognized that I am not normal and in the past, this made me feel as if it was me that is mad. But Chesterton disagrees.

A Man Without a Human Head is a journey where I begin to open up my imagination. It is my recognition that we, as a culture are relying far too much on our logic and not near enough on our imagination. We see ourselves as normal, but really we are strange, we are mad, and frankly, we are fucked up. People, are replacing their human heads all around.

“A man who thinks himself as a chicken,” Chesterton wrote in his book Orthodoxy, “is to himself as ordinary as a chicken. A man who thinks he is a bit of glass is to himself as dull as a bit of glass. It is the homogeneity of his mind which makes him dull, and which makes him mad.”

I am not in any way excluded from this. Though I have come to realize the absurdity of it all, as an artist I believe it is my job to experience this all myself. I cannot understand people unless I get inside people’s minds and I am not at all doing it for my own benefit, but for yours and for God’s. This is not a record made for money, for notoriety, or anything of the sort. This is a sacrifice.

Therefore, I too must think myself as a chicken (and often I do unintentionally), as a man without a human head in order to understand and communicate this. A small circle is as infinite as a large circle, it just has the appearance as smaller. So, no matter how large you think your circle is, know that it is as infinite as any other circle, size aside.

A Man Without a Human Head is my attempt to expose all of this, and the absurdity of how we are all living. We must open up our imaginations and allow the fairy tales to once again forgive our logic, and to embrace that which simply does not make sense, rather than strain to make it make some sense.

“And if great reasoners are often maniacal, it is equally true that maniacs are commonly great reasoners.”

“If the chain of causation can be broken for a madman, it can be broken for a man.”

- G.K. Chesterton