I am uncouth. I am unrefined. I know OF refinement, but it is not required in the ‘hood where I was raised. I am a bit vulgar and at times melodramatic. I definitely have a dark sense of humor and may laugh at inappropriate times. Live with a pediatric intensive care nurse for 15 years and that’s what happens!
I believe in honesty and have at times upset people because of it. I learned as a young man lies are too hard to keep straight! (and life is too short.) So forgive me if I offend, but we are living in offensive times. Corrupt Hypocrisy practiced by elected officials cause the death of our fellow citizens. Families seeking the CHANCE to live here are SEPARATED and IMPRISONED. So, in this balance I weigh my deeds. And in this I find the answer.
I am the only son of a divorced, middle class family. When I was in preschool, up until 2nd grade I lived with my mom and spent vacations and summers with my dad. And from 2nd grade on, I would see mom on vacations. I was a rare exception. My father was granted custody and my mother was allowed visitation.
A young boy growing up in a bachelor pad makes for some interesting stories! I took it all in stride. Pizza as a ‘food group’ and the ability to disassemble the carburetor on my motorcycle in the kitchen (… because it was December outside!) is every 9 year old’s dream!
After my dad remarried I didn’t see my mom as often. The arguments that stem from money are the surest way to tear a family apart. I’ve seen it happen in my family twice- first over child support, and second when my grandma, dad’s mom, died. You’d never suspect money could destroy the relationship between siblings, but let me tell you…
Both my father and my mother drank and used drugs. They both have criminal records. My father was always one of my best friends growing up, and as I came of age, family traditions were easy to learn.
My greatest achievements go unnoticed to many people. I am an Eagle Scout. I am a proud father of two smart young boys and I am the husband of a nurse. By the time I graduated from Olathe North High School in 1998, I was the principle double bassist in the orchestra (lettered senior year) principle tubist in marching band and Concert Band, and the bassist in the Jazz Band. My passion for music and teaching was leading me to a promising future as a Band Director or performing in a symphonic setting after college. I hoped to follow the former Director of Bands at ONHS, Charles Menghini, to VanderCook College of Music in Chicago when I graduated…
But I got “bit” by the Rock n Roll bug. I received a mailer for Berklee College of Music in Boston, and realized what I wanted to do- Compose!
After graduation, I continued working as an assistant manager at Little Caesar’s Pizza in Olathe. I worked hard on an audition tape and got accepted. Having gained as much as I could in Olathe, I moved to Minnesota to live with my mom and stepdad to prepare for college life in Boston. My father had never been to college. He ran a printing press. He printed sheet music on a four color press for a music company named Wingert-Jones Music in KCMO. He knew nothing about the paperwork and processes involved with college.
I spent a summer with my mom getting my ducks in a row. My stepdad landed me a job in the kitchen of the country club where he was the Executive Chef, and I saved as much as I could. I packed my bass guitar , my 15″ amp, and all my stuff into my 1972 Ford Maverick, and drove to Boston.
side note- For a kid from Kansas, Boston was amazing! Oceanside, beach, seafood… 45 minute drive and I could walk in the mountains! The SMELL of the ocean… I did not know how beautiful it was until I returned home for Thanksgiving. The smell of Kansas is DIRT. Soil. Dusty plains… The contrast was striking!
I went through orientation at Berklee. Got my instructions, learned where classes would generally be, practice rooms, etc. Then, the Sunday before classes were to start, I visited the Bursar’s office and they asked “How would you like to pay?” My mother and I had worked on securing grants and loans for college and anticipated having it all completed by semester’s end. “Berklee is a private school,” they said.
They required payment up front.
My mom went to 2 years of community college. My dad went to vocational school to learn how to operate a printing press. NONE of us had the knowledge necessary to get me into college. We just didn’t know it until that Sunday before classes started.
I found a job at the Holiday Inn in Government Center. Lived in Everett, MA, off the Orange Line. Lived like a Bostonian with the hope of trying again in a few months… but it’s a hard life in the city. Literally, I was fresh off the farm. And I gave in to my fears and moved back to KC just six months later. I thought by living at home with my dad I could save money faster than I could living in Boston. But the devil is always in the details, and living in a bachelor pad in your early twenties is not the best move for someone trying to save money for college.
I worked for Mars Music, selling Band and Orchestra instruments until they went under. Then I worked for Wingert-Jones for a a couple years, all the while attempting to gain a foothold as an original artist in a town full of cover bands. I wanted to write and preform original music, everyone wanted to hear “Free Bird”.
When I moved away from Boston, I moved away from the city that I needed to be in to make that happen.
No matter what, I failed because I was a 19 year old kid who had never been out of Kansas. Alone in a city without a base of knowledge. Without proper support and guidance. Without an example to follow. Had I known what I needed for success, I believe I would have been successful.
Before I got married in 2003, drugs and alcohol were my way of life. That and music, writing, and going to shows. Over time, those two worlds blended together. Slowly, music and creativity played second chair to the drugs and altered states of reality. Addiction changes a mind, both in thought and chemical substance. It alters your list of priorities, making a party appear where one is not, and places your needs higher than anyone else’s. By the time my first son was born in 2005, I had been arrested for suspected DUI. But it did not stop me from continuing to drink.
The birth of Matt forced me to realize I needed to grow up! I could not continue to pursue music as a profession, because that path was not one a family should walk. Late nights at bars and nightclubs, only to cover the bar tab, would not pay the bills at home. It would take two more years and the birth of my second son, Garrett, to fully understand my drinking was a problem.
I was raised in an environment where drugs and alcohol were Normal. Everyday activities. The term “self medication” is used sometimes, and the family histories of both of my parents explains why they used. Being their child, I understand, because I am as they were, and many of us all are today-
The product of imperfect people, carrying around damage caused by other damaged, imperfect people.
I have become successful in being a part of a happy family. I hesitate to say successful, only because of money. As would many Americans in my position. My wife works hard and provides for our family. I work hard raising two boys, but also since we purchased our home, I have been the physical laborer. We have worked to remodel our home, making it as energy efficient and self-sustainable as possible. We wanted to make it how we wanted it, believing that someday, after we paid off the mortgage, it would be worth more that what we originally borrowed. Through our labor and improvements and also the overall increase in value of the real estate in Kansas City, KS.
Then the financial disaster of 2008 took that hope away.
And in 2016, I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. My body had betrayed me, and the physical abilities I once relied on are now greatly reduce. Now, I have half finished projects that, when first envisioned and planned, required a much stronger man than the one that currently resides in this skin!
For example, in 2011, I remodeled the exterior of our home. I replaced the thin vinyl siding with with granite stone. Over the course of nine months I learned the trade of stone masonry and measured, cut, and placed 30,000 pounds of Chineese granite. Our home is much cooler in the summer, and our gas bill is less than $20 a month.
For the same price as local materials, I found a deal on a unique stone with excellent conductive properties. It is an ideal substance for a home exterior, and I would have never been able to purchase the services needed to have someone else do the labor! THAT is where I was a valuable asset for our family, in an economic sense.
Now, I get winded carrying in groceries from the van. I sweat if my blood sugar is high. I sweat if my blood sugar is low. The auto-immune reaction that took my ability to produce insulin also gave me a sensitivity to nightshade plants and a skin irritation to polyester. Two things that are in every single aspect of human life in modern society…
My body is no longer compatible with life on this planet.
So what am I supposed to do? Wait for death? Mourn the loss? I cannot do that. My brain would never let me do that! Even IF I could accept defeat in my heart, my mind would continue to pick at it, and process it, and push me to get up again… It is what I call “The Raccoon In My Head”. If you toss it something shiny it will play with it for HOURS! When I was a kid it was an enemy. I was the class clown. I was smart, but I would not complete assignments on time, or I would turn them in incomplete. As I got older and began self medicating, the problem got worse.
In our family, we would only see a doctor when it was necessary, either due to illness or for a physical. Dentists…? That was out of pocket and for emergencies only. And psychologists… What? Are you crazy?!! THIS is the setup that leads to a life of dependency, relationship issues, and lack of education… THEN it’s passed along to the NEXT generation… The CORE of our societal ills.
When I sought treatment for my alcoholism, I was finally able to see a counselor and a psychologist who diagnosed me as ADHD. My life hasn’t been the same since! Now that I have a healthy, stable life, and mental clarity, my mind is no longer my enemy. My random thoughts and endless mental rabbit chasing has given way to FOCUS. I gave the raccoon something shiny to play with, now I can get on with my day!
All this, as brief as it is, and as gut wrenchingly difficult as it is for me to write ALL of this… I feel as if I am floating in a sensory deprivation tank. (That’s a lie, I’ve never been in one, but I imagine it would FEEL, like an empty garage SOUNDS.) I am trying to do something that is, by all accounts, impossible. And, frankly, unbelievable. Sure! I understand… It’s new to me, too! But I believe it CAN BE DONE, so long as I am Open, Honest, and Transparent.*
(*IDK. There IS a conspiracy ongoing to overthrow the government of the United States by a foreign adversary… so some questions I might want to refer to legal counsel…? Seriously, this is unknown territory for EVERYONE, except a handful of very high ranking officials… I assume!? Hooray for our Constitution!!)
What IS the President? WHO should the President BE? EVERY AMERICAN CITIZEN, whether we STAND for the National Anthem, or TAKE A KNEE in RESPECT FOR the Rights that flag represents, knows WHAT A PRESIDENT IS and IS NOT. If we desire to see a day when we can, once again, elect Leadership that EXCEEDS the National Expectation… then we must start NOW.
I come bearing TRUTH, as told and delivered by the MIDDLE CLASS of MIDDLE AMERICA. The Majority of the Electorate. The reason we STAND today! The GOLD STANDARD that we base our global economic system upon… The BLOOD, SWEAT, AND TEARS of hard working families.
NOT because I am gaming the system, attempting to gain votes, but because THAT is who I am. I cannot lie, and pretend I am anything but… average.
It is my desire to Amend The Constitution and End the Electoral College, to remove corrupt money from our elections, and SECURE our Constitutional Right to Vote for ALL citizens. So that one day, we CAN elect someone who is MUCH more suited, for a job as important as President, than I could ever be…
with great respect and humility.