And now for something completely different…

I’m going to be off for a while.  Apparently Wrath James White can talk me into just about anything, because I’m off to Austin, Texas to audition for a reality show, Focus Rally America, with him.

You can follow along on my Twitter feed.

Speaking of Wrath, he’s re-releasing his collection, Book of A Thousand Sins.  Here’s my review of it from the first go around as well as an interview I did with him, part I and part II.

Sometimes A Cigar Means Quit Eating Leftover Pizza at 3 in the Morning

I had the most whacked out dream last night.  Actually woke up in a sweat and struggling to breathe.*  I was back in my old neighborhood in Franklin, Indiana.** I had just left my cousin’s house and was walking toward my grandparents home.  I had stopped at their next door neighbor’s house to talk to the old man tending his garden, when a lone came walking down the center of King Street.  He had a gun and a rifle and was walking along just randomly shooting people.

I take off running.  I hear the shot that takes out the old guy was just talking to.  I run down the alley which separated my grandparents’ house from the schoolyard park.  We used to play hide and seek through this neighborhood.  This alley was my standard route of escape.

(cue the harps for flashback montage of memories)

-when me and my buddies used to throw rocks at passing cars and on the rare occasions actually hit one, which would cause the driver to stop and chase us

-when the local bullies would wait for me at the bus stop (the bus dropped us off in front of my grandmother’s house which was on one end of the alley and I had to make it to my house which was on the other end).  Now that I think about it, I have an unpublished story written about this.

-whenever it was time for me to cut my own switch (read:  time to flee grandma’s house)

-even the one time I thought I could out-pedal (I was on my Big Wheel) my friend’s older sister after we had pulled some prank on her while she was talking to a boy.  She clocked me in the back of my head with her shoe.

(end montage on that image …)

So I tore down the alley, the echoes of gunfire in my ear.  I watch as several of my friends fall on the basketball court.  I cut across my aunt’s yard, dodge her German shepherd, and scurry down the basement steps to the old church next door.  I’m pressed up against the wall of the mildewed stones, the door to the basement locked, of course.  This was always our favorite hiding place when playing hide and seek.  Then it fully hits me that it was our favorite spot to hide when playing hide and seek.  And the shadowed form of my friend’s head looms over the steps.  Then I wake up.

It’s funny how dreams can seem so terrifying when you’re having them, but seeing them on the page robs them of their existential terror.  I’m sure there’s a lesson in there somewhere.  Rather than search for one, I will direct you to the SF Signal podcast wherein—starting at the 18 minute mark—Jerry Gordon and I are interviewed regarding Dark Faith, King Maker, and WARN YOU OF THE IMPENDING THREAT TO HUMANITY!!!***

(and here’s where Chesya Burke reminds me that I’m supposed to be writing.  Fiction.  She wields the Mighty Reminder Stick of Impending Deadlines!)

.

*This may speak more to me being so out of shape that even the dream of me running made me out of breath.

**One, for all of those upset about me setting the legend of King Arthur in Indianapolis, be glad I didn’t set it in Franklin.  You REALLY wouldn’t have been able to find it on a map.  Two, yes, when we first moved from London, England, we first settled in Franklin.  Absolutely no culture shock there at all.

***No, there’s no threat.  Not really.  Though I did start drinking a Shiraz (not Riesling for a change) at 8:30 pm thinking that the interview would begin at 9.  The interview began at 10.  So hilarity ensues.  Somehow they managed to edit my hour’s worth of antics down to something manageable.  My favorite memory is watching Jerry remain professional and on point while I’m doing my level best to distract him.  He’s unflappable … like a palace guard to my obnoxious tourist routine.

It’s in the Genes

When I was in junior high school, I was a one man Triangle trade.  My mother gave me a dollar a day for lunch money which to my pre-teen mind didn’t get me very far.  So, creative thinker that I was, I got up early to school, stopped at Kroger, and used my lunch money to buy candy.  I took that to school and sold it by the piece, then used that money to buy whatever lunch I wanted and then after school to buy comic books.  In turn, my comic book collection grew so large I was like the godfather:  any comic book trade in the school had to go through me for approval.

Yes, it was ridiculous.  On the plus side, this is what helped keep me out of selling drugs:  I had a huge profit margin, limited risk, and limited violence.  On the downside, I eventually expanded my interests into a scheme involving school lunch cards.  Turns out what I was doing was a Federal offense and led to my suspension.  [Yet another reason I opted to not become a business major in college as my natural bent toward money schemes tended to bring out the worst in me, i.e., picture me in a boiler room, so I pursued writing instead.]

But it all comes around.

Watching my sons is like watching an episode of the Flintstones with their nearly daily money-making schemes.  We’ve watched them launch a massage business (don’t ask – that got busted up pretty quick), an art dealership (of their drawings), a snack stand, a restaurant (charging people at our Tuesday night gatherings for them to serve them), a toy store (recycling their Christmas toys they lost interest in), a cleaning service (trying to find a way to profit from doing chores), and a lemonade stand.

So the other day I busted my oldest running his variation of a ponzi scheme/con at school.  He had purchased a “ruby” at the dollar story.  He was running around school selling and re-selling his “ruby”.  He was quite literally on the verge of pulling in three figures worth of income when I stumbled across his paperwork (stumbled as in he was having me double check his “homework” to make sure his figures were correct).  This led to several conversations* and returning of funds he had collected because, as my wife reminded me, this would have been one of those parent-teacher-pissed off parents conferences that I’d have to attend.  Alone.**

*One of which was a reminder that he should perhaps wait until he gets his MBA before he sets out to defraud the public.

**In a conversation where the boys went from being “our children” to “your children”.

Lemonade Day Vote

So May 2nd was Lemonade Day in Indianapolis.  Kids around the city set up lemonade stands, including our own.  It was a pretty rainy day, but our kids were undeterred as they had a captive crown of potential customers as it was also the last day of Mo*Con.

Apparently there is a contest going on and my wife is hijacking my blog in order to make the following announcement:

Lemonade day stand contest is up and going, please vote for my son’s stand – Reese B. (do it once a day for 1 week) Please, please, please!! Just find his name and hit vote, it’s just that simple, no logging in or password, just vote. Thank you!!!  Go to

http://thinkforwardfoundation.org/indexindy.php

So come on, interwebz.  Do it for the children.

Best Voice Mail Message EVAH!

“You’ve reached the voice mail of ____ _____.  I should tell you that I’m making a lot of changes in my life.  Please leave a message, but if I don’t call you back, you’re one of those changes.”

Luckily he called me back.

Ten Years Ago …

Sally and I got married.

Honestly, I’m as shocked as anyone that we made it. Yet through God’s provision, and through a continuing testimony of love and forgiveness, here we are.

I know that we also wouldn’t have made it without the love and support of our friends and family. And for that, we thank you.

[And it’s also Maunday Thursday]

The Thin Yellow Line

So BFF Jon and my co-editor, Jerry Gordon, were over for dinner. My boys, ever eager students of male bonding conversations, were in rapt attention as we discussed the simple rules to going to the bathroom (we’re talking “away games”). Ultimately, this left them more confused than when I tried explaining race relations in this country. Plus, I’m not sure I knew all of the rules. Apparently there is as much ritual to this as a Japanese tea ceremony. Anyway, to wit…

The two most important rules:
1) No talking. There’s nothing you need to talk about in there. This is a sacrosanct moment, filled with doubt about your shortcomings and subtle homophobia.
2) Maintain the pee line. This means keep your eyes straight ahead, never dropping down. You know where your equipment is. Just reach down and handle it.

Keep those rules in mind at all times. However, there is a protocol one must maintain. Upon entering and facing the row of urinals, one must go to the furthest empty stall. When the next person comes in, they must go to the opposite end of the row. Should a third person come in, they should go to the middle. However, this is where things get a little tricky. That third person has to figure out if there IS a middle urinal. It’s important to leave space enough to leave the every other urinal space between men. Therefore, you know if a man has designed the bathroom, because there are an odd number of urinals.

The only acceptable time to go to a stall (other than to poo) is when there are no available urinals. Similarly, you’re not supposed to use the kid urinals unless there are no others available (but you still need to maintain proper spacing). Use your best judgment when it comes to these.

And now, troughs. This is a lowest common denominator pee event. It’s nothing less than a free for all/Lord of the Penises, er, Flies. Simply space yourself out as best as you can. If you know you will be facing a trough situation, remember, no open-toed shoes, flip flops (especially at the Indianapolis 500 track – if your choice is that trough, it’s better to stand outside and piss where everyone can see you).

There should be no handshakes or celebratory gestures of any kind while in the bathroom.

Do NOT cross streams. Under ANY circumstances.

There was some question about stalls and how to handling a no toilet paper situation. This is easily enough avoided if you simply check your stall first, but sometimes you just have to go and don’t think to do your due diligence. In the event of no toilet paper, you have a few options: 1) if the bathroom is not busy, you run to another stall or make a break for paper towels (pulling up your underwear is optional); 2) if you’re a man’s man or in a crowded bathroom, you sacrifice your underwear to wipe with and then go commando for the rest of your evening.

And as I told my sons after this informative and instructional seminar, “now today, you are a man. Or at least you will be once you’ve mastered the art of crop dusting a room.”

BFF Jon and Co-editor Jerry are available for school lectures and Boy Scout meetings if you need them.

Transitions

It’s been fully acknowledged that 2009 was a rough year. It was a year of major shifts, having shed or been shed of a destructive relationship, a church, and my job of twenty years. It also finally feels like I’m coming out of a near year long depression.

It’s easy to become risk averse. Life and responsibilities need to be met, and can make us afraid to take the risks necessary to do what you need or want to do. You can end up in a comfortable situation, make enough money to get by, and be dogged by the feeling that you aren’t where you want to be or doing what you’re supposed to be doing. I know that I had a position that allowed me a flexible schedule, and thus the time to do the stuff that really mattered to me. It became more readily apparent that my job no longer mattered to me, which is sort of the point: work became numbing and could be done on muscle memory. Until I couldn’t. It wasn’t fulfilling, wasn’t where I wanted to be, wasn’t what I wanted to do and it showed.

There’s a tension that we live in. Work is hard and it’s supposed to be. It doesn’t mean you have to hate it. It’s a matter of matching your passion to your need. I could never be a mechanic. We’ll ignore the fact that I couldn’t pick a wrench out of a line up and am not known for my ability to do physical labor. It’s just nothing that holds any interest for me. However, I have a friend who is a mechanic. You get him under the hood of a car, and it’s like watching poetry. Working with cars is his passion, he loves it, and he’s doing kingdom work. He donates his time fixing up cars for folks, helping out ministries when he can. His passion is infectious … though I still won’t be picking up a wrench anytime soon.

So I’m seeing this time as God’s permission to dream … within reason. Our safety net has been removed and we have to trust in our good Father for provision. As I try to move from occupation to vocation, having been freed to pursue who I am supposed to be and figure out where I’m supposed to be—as well as use my gifts and passions—I don’t want to be irresponsible either. It’s a lot easier to take risks when you are single and without kids. My wife, however, has apparently become accustomed to little things like insurance. And food. Now is a time for dreaming. Right now, I’m exploring the life of a freelance writer and what it means to use my gifts and passions in a missional sense.

If you could do anything you wanted, what would you do?

Are You there, God? It’s Me, Maurice

This year has sucked.

It’s been filled with a seeming unending list of disappointment and unanswered prayer. There have been marriage issues and employment issues which has often left me pissed at You (OF COURSE we reserve the right to complain: because we value our free will until our choices make a mess then we’re all “why didn’t You do something?”). This year has seen the drama and trauma of us switching churches, has been a relational nightmare as circles of friendships broke and realigned. It has seen my parents and more than a few friends and family get divorced. My mom alone provided a roller coaster ride between her retirement, divorce, cancer scare, surgery, engagement and move back to Jamaica.

During the dark times, I felt alone and abandoned with the silence making me think of You as grandpa asleep on the couch while chaos was breaking out all over.

So needless to say, it’s been a little hard to hear You.

Hard to see and difficult to hear are different from absent, however. Sometimes faith requires its own CSI crew to look for evidence of your presence. Though, honestly, I don’t have to look too hard. You held my marriage together which was a miracle unto itself. Counselors had no words, friends were at a loss, WE didn’t know which way to turn, yet You held us in your embrace. You strengthened our community and friendships, showing me that Your church isn’t one lone body, but a worldwide one. You opened doors for my writing and helped me to not only find myself but revealed what I’m called to be. And You’ve walked me through the dark times, to the point where it’s like the pain was so overwhelming at times, I blacked out, and yet found I had been carried along without my realizing.

I’ll be honest, I can’t wait for 2009 to be over with. I’m trusting You for 2010 and looking forward to what You have in store for us. As ever, You are an artist in my life. Thank You, not only for the storms but for them passing and carrying us through them.

Merry Christmas from the Broaddus Family


(And yes, this is the actual Broaddus family creche scene, complete with black Joseph, white Mary, and a mixed baby Jesus). May God bless you with the very best gift during this Christmas season … Himself.

Of the Father’s love begotten,
Ere the worlds began to be,
He is Alpha and Omega,
He the source, the ending He,
Of the things that are, that have been,
And that future years shall see,
Evermore and evermore!