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sick day lookalikes.

I spent most of today sick in bed, felt better for a while, and now I’m nosediving back into feeling sick again. One thing I did while wasting the day was watch Roman Polanski’s Cul-De-Sac.

I spent the whole movie partly distracted by how much Terry Francona looks like Donald Pleasance.



kickin’ it with the ‘squatch: thursday.

Time for the inevitable raving about Sasquatch that any readers of this humble blog knew would come once I’d returned from the promised land. I suppose to do this right, I’m going to have a to a few posts, much like I would have done at the festival if I actually had internet access and a laptop, which I didn’t have. I’m sure my recollection will suffer as a result. Then again, this is all probably purely for my own benefit anyway.

Also, I’m really sick with a head cold and mono symptoms. [For any readers who don’t actually know me personally, I get really intense mono symptoms whenever I go too long without sleep or rest. As an insomniac trying to sleep in a tent at a crazy four-day music festival, plus a fairly sleepless night the day before we left, I ended up going six days without sleep or rest… on with the sickness! Worth it.]  Anyway, who knows what sorts of odd typos and incoherence you may find if you read this.

For those who want the abridged version, here are the festival stats:
Days away from home: 6
Attendance: 25,000
People making terrible life choices: 19,485
People making terrible clothing choices: 24,463
Memos we missed: Thigh tattoos, face and body paint, groups dressed according to theme (Where’s Waldo, America: Fuck Yeah!, Animal Costumes), tutus, spending hundreds of dollars on shitty beer in order to be too drunk to remember the festival you spent $315 just to get into, wearing flags.
Bands we saw live, at least in part: 33
Cost of a frozen margarita: $14
Cost of a 24oz PBR: $11
Bands We Saw In Entirety, Good Enough To Be Worth Mentioning:
The Good: Of Monsters and Men, Santigold, Charles Bradley, Blitzen Trapper, Childish Gambino, Tune-Yards, St. Vincent, Gardens & Villa, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!, The Joy Formidable, Feist, SBTRKT, Beck
The Amazing: Allen Stone, Girl Talk, M. Ward, The Head & The Heart
The Mind-Shattering: The Civil Wars, The Roots, Bon Iver
Most atrocious schedule related casualties: The Shins, Jack White, Little Dragon, Shearwater
Most atrocious visa related casualties: Mogwai

Now, for those who want the full version… Aaawaaaay we go!

Thursday: Traveling to Sasquatch

It’s been a year and a half since we’ve had a vacation just for the sake of having a vacation. Thus, we were excited to get out of town and head out on the open road. Thursday, we picked up our rental car. It wasn’t the car we had reserved, because rental car “reservations” are just jokes rental car companies play on their unfortunate customers. We reserved a midsize car, we ended up with a Yaris that had no power to its cigarette lighter (because why would we want to charge our phones on the road?) and a trunk that consistently took three tries to close. This was for a car we had the presence of mind to reserve three months ago. Fuck you, Hertz!

We took the long way, Route 2-East through Stevens Pass, instead of taking I-90, because we wanted a longer, prettier road trip. We had one road trip non-negotiable: Blizzards from DQ on the way there and back. We don’t have a car, and there are no local DQ’s within convenient bussing distance, so Blizzards are a luxury these days. Go ahead, hipsters, roll your eyes… I’m not apologizing, Blizzards are the fucking shit!

So, we hit Target in Northgate, hopped up to Shoreline, grabbed DQ west in Woodinville, and began our trip in earnest across the great state of Washington. As anyone who has driven from one side of Washington to the other knows, it is a state that doesn’t disappoint in the scenery department, especially through Stevens Pass. Our road trip was beautiful, so beautiful that we took the same route back to Seattle after the festival. It’s an awe-inspiring trip: from the beautiful winding mountain highway, into the kitschy Bavarian wonderland of Leavenworth, and on to the high plateaus, wineries and orchards of Quincy and George, where the beauty is accentuated by the breathtaking view at the Gorge.

We’d heard horror stories about people staying at the main Sasquatch camp, where the weekend is a non-stop drunken, oversexed, drug-induced, garbage covered party where no one even attempts to sleep. We knew I was going to leave Sasquatch sick enough as it was, so that was out. Emily looked into Premium Sasquatch camping, which would have been $170 total added onto the cost of our tickets, and with a little internet research it became clear that in recent years “premium camping” has devolved into the exact same conditions as the basic camping.

That’s when Emily discovered Wildhorse Campground. Best find ever! A mile from the amphitheater, with shuttles running constantly all day until the last camper is picked up in the early morning hours. It was only $120 bucks total for all  five nights. It included near-complete quiet at night, had food made to order until 2something in the morning, and had hot showers (no matter how long the line for showers was, they were always hot!).

Oh yeah, and since we didn’t take 90, we missed all of the traffic. Within 30 minutes we were checked in, had our campsite prepped, and our borrowed tent assembled. We were eating a Wild Burger and a Turkey Wrap at the campsite’s kitchen while we charged the phones we weren’t able to keep charged on the road (again, fuck you, Hertz!). Then we got to sit and watch the long line of cars, stretching as far as the eye could see, of folks waiting to check into the regular Sasquatch camping.

Long story short, Emily and Wildhorse FTW!

We relaxed for the evening, turned in early (which was futile on my part, but a nice try all the same), and spent the night snug in our bed with visions of hipsters and awesome music dancing in our heads.

Next: Friday, Day One!


a lovingly open letter to anne lamott.

Dear Anne,

I hope you don’t mind if I call you Anne, being as I’ve never met you, and probably never will. The version of you that your writing has created in my head doesn’t mind, she quite likes being called Anne by complete strangers. However, in my experience, there can be quite a gap between the version I have of people in my head, and the version that really exists out there in the world. Anyway, if it does bother you for me to call you Anne, I suppose the offense has already been made, and all I can do is offer my sincere and perplexed apology.

The reason I am writing to you is because, in my opinion, when someone gives you a gift, you ought to thank them for it. Thus, I am writing to thank you for the gift that you have given me.

Let me explain.

For some time, my spirit has been in a woefully dry and barren place. I’ve lost the ability to feel God’s presence in my life, or even to want to feel God’s presence in my life, or even to want to want to feel God’s presence in my life. I actually get a little queasy even writing the phrase “God’s presence in my life.”

I’m not entirely sure how this happened. I know parts of the story. I know about the pain I’ve experienced seeing people I love abused by the church. I know of the weariness I feel being unfairly associated with the pettiness and rage of small-minded bigots. I know the anger and disillusionment I feel because of the fact that I grew up without a protector, which makes it hard to believe in God when I’m honest with myself. Then there is the crippling depression and insomnia I’ve dealt with throughout my life, which seems to have reached a fever-pitch over the last 18 months.

Yet, those realities are nothing new, and I used to know how to reconcile them to the thoughtful and honest pursuit of that oddly compelling and winsome nature of Jesus. After finding myself fed up with the church time and again, I still couldn’t quite get myself to walk away from Jesus. Even if most of the people who use his name so often are fucking angry, hurtful crazies. I found a home here in Seattle at a seminary called The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology (We used to be called Mars Hill Graduate School, but couldn’t stand the continual mistaken association with a Mars Hill Church here in Seattle. A church pastored by an angry little bully who is terrified of gays, strong women, and anything resembling humility or weakness. It makes it tough for him, since that last bit means he has to throw out just about everything Jesus ever said. But, I digress.)

My time at the Seattle School surrounded me with professors and classmates who were beautifully broken and earnest in their pursuit of truth and story, of community and goodness, of Jesus. I remember, in a class preparing us for pastoral ministry of some kind or another, when I read Graham Greene’s The Power and the Glory. I was overwhelmed by the realization that my weakness and brokenness were the greatest gifts I had to offer the people I loved and served in the world, regardless of what role I was loving and serving in: husband, friend, enemy, or maybe even pastor. It had been the first time in years I’d allowed myself to consider ever taking on the role of pastor, albeit in some remarkably untraditional sense of the word. I was finding something deeper than I’d ever known before.

I remember those times, they weren’t that long ago. Yet, I’ve been in a place for some time where I can’t begin to embrace those ideas. The darkness has just grown too dark, and the darkness begets darkness, and the light comes to seem like it was merely a figment of my imagination, just a dream I’d had and convinced myself was true.

And then, because I simply wasn’t ready to give up yet, I decided to read one of your books. Traveling Mercies. I flew through that one, barely pausing to catch my breath, before ordering Plan B and deciding that instead of flying through that one I would read a new chapter each day. It’s a few daily minutes of goodness in what has still been a pretty dark time.

Anne, you’re lovely. You’re honest and angry and imperfect and funny and strong and depressed and confused and wildly intelligent and, most of all, you believe. You believe in spite of everything life has thrown at you. I suppose in some ways you might believe because of everything life has thrown at you. I want to believe again. I want to believe that for all the world’s darkness, there is still light to be found. That, like Chesterton said, this massive shipwreck we call life also means there is treasure to be found that points to something beautiful that we cannot quite remember.

The worst thing I could have read would have been another Christian author who pretends that everything is fine, and all is well if we just believe hard enough, and pray fervently enough. Instead, I found you. A woman who has been kicked in the stomach by death, and knows the horrible toll it takes, but who still believes in resurrection.

When you write about forgiveness, and reconciliation, and faith, and prayer, and peace, I believe you. I understand you.

I’m not saying some magic switch flipped and my life went from 0-95mph in a heartbeat. I’m not implying that I’ve been saved and it’s onto smooth sailing from here on out. Just a few hours before writing this letter I had a crippling panic attack at the foot of my bed, overwhelmed by my own crushing failure and irrelevance, certain that I’ll never make it as a writer, or even as a person. That’s not going anywhere, regardless what my faith looks like. I suspect that no matter what, my life will always be three parts of shadow for every shot of light.

What I am saying is that your essays have cracked open the windows to my soul again. Where it was stagnant and stale, there is a breeze of fresh air again. There is at least the slim hope in me that my belief in beauty and magic and goodness and God can be resuscitated, that I can follow the scent of fresh air and find my way back towards home.

So, for opening your heart to the world in such a way that some fresh air snuck its way into my soul before it suffocated, I thank you. It may just help save my life.

Grace and Peace,




how had i never heard this before?

“Love is Blindness” is one of my favorite U2 songs. It’s one of their more underrated offerings in my opinion. Thus, it saddens me that I had somehow never heard Jack White’s cover of the song until I saw the trailer for The Great Gatsby (which I shared yesterday).

Better late than never I suppose. [It’s part of an entire album of bands covering Achtung Baby, which I pathetically missed. I’ll be downloading the entire thing today, I assure you.]

Emily was right earlier today when she said that the rage and desperation White offers in the song feels really appropriate. I think it is a nice counterpoint to the bluesy melancholy of the original. It fits my life right now. I may or may not be listening to it on repeat right now.

Thanks to Bono, Jack, and Baz.