GREAT Weekend, etc…I talk about what happened last year…so on…

You know how sometimes you just don’t want to leave a place? That’s how I felt this weekend. As avid reader(s) of my blog know, I went to Indiana this weekend to visit my friends in the Puckett (and Crouse) family. It was a good weekend. Played about a half-hour set for the church they’re at (Dover Christian Church) and spent a lot of time catching up with them.

In case you’re wondering, here’s the set list I did:
1. Fall Apart (from “Grounds”)
2. Stranger (from “Grounds”)
3. Remember Me (Unreleased)
4. I Was Born (from “Things I Meant to Say”)
5. Being There (from “Things I Meant to Say”)
6. Please (Unreleased)
7. I Go (by Blue Tattoo, appearing on our “Logan County EP,” in production)
8. A Turning (Unreleased)

Now that we’ve taken care of that…

I loved this weekend. The gig was the minimal thing to me. Don’t get me wrong, I liked it a lot. They listened politely (a BIG change from the bar-gigs I’ve been playing lately), applauded at the right times, and I even managed to move a couple of CDs (always a relief). Really good crowd, and I met some really nice people afterward (looks like a great church). Still, the important thing was to see my friends.

I arrived there and was greeted by John at the church. We chatted about this and that as I moved my gear in and set up a bit. Then we drove over to his house and I was greeted by everyone else. I met Beth Ann’s daughters for the first time. Actually, to be fair, I met Kate when she was very, very little. Beth Ann had stopped by my house briefly and introduced me to Kate when she was just a baby. But that only kind of counts, now that she’s walking, talking, and doing all the other stuff kids do. Plus, there are two more girls as well—and none of them are babies. Jayla (the youngest) is still little, but I wouldn’t use the word “baby.” Also, I kind of forgot how funny Beth Ann’s husband Ben can be. I’ve spent a decent amount of time around Ben in the past—enough to know she didn’t marry a loser, anyway—but somehow it only just sunk in this weekend that they’re very, very good for each other, and how well they seem to fit together.

The Pucketts, I think, have the GIFT of hospitality. I ended up not leaving their house until around 6:00 (Eastern Time) the next day. That was probably longer than any of us (myself included) really expected me to stay…but I didn’t really WANT to leave. They mentioned that a house next door to them just got put up on the market, and part of me wanted to make a bid. Then the part of me that realized I don’t have the money or credit to do that kicked in…but still…

Particularly enjoyed talking to Shara Lyn again. We both find roughly the same level of absurdity funny. You don’t find that a lot. Pity she lives in Indiana, really…but there’s always e-mail and whatnot. Plus, she makes a mean cup of coffee, as I found out when we went to the Starbucks at which she works.

You’re supposed to say things like, “I didn’t realize how much I missed them until I saw them again” after weekends like that, aren’t you? Well…I can’t say that. I knew exactly how much I’ve missed them. It’s been the same level for the past few years, and it’s just as deep now. I miss them. A lot. I love those folks.

There’s something incredibly significant about the timing of this, I think. It was one year ago on May 23 that I submitted my resignation to the elders of Ferguson Christian Church (I’d thought it was the 26th, for some reason, but I just checked). Then, just barely over one year from the date I left my ministry, I spent the weekend with the people who essentially got me into ministry in the first place. There’s something to that. I’m just not sure what yet.

For the record, I didn’t want to leave Ferguson, either, at the time. I mostly wanted to leave two specific people. They know who they are, and at least one of them probably still reads my blog, as that’s kind of what he tried to manipulate to his advantage in the first place. I’m sure he’s still trying to justify his conscience. So, I won’t say their names. Anyone who was there knows what happened, and who it involved. I said when I left that I would not seek to publicly discredit or bash the church. And I won’t. However, I don’t think it’s breaking my promise, if I just tell some of the truth. I left because of two people. I could have dealt with pretty much anything except for the continued manipulation, insults, and lies of those two people, who were going unrebuked and unrepentant. Sometimes the abuse of the few outweighs the love of the many.

I miss the “many” a lot. I still think about a lot of them, and I regret not being able to better say goodbye. It’s awkward now when I bump into people. My fault? Maybe. I’m really not sure. But I won’t forget the people I cared for—and I especially won’t forget those who went out of their way to remain as my friends. I think a lot of people knew that the situation was difficult—that it was unfair. I just hope a few of them at least realize that they are still thought of fondly. And I hope they think of me that way, too. I guess that’s why I haven’t really found a new church-home. You can’t fall in love again when your heart’s still broken.

Anyway…didn’t really mean to start talking about that…this weekend was great. And I bought a new guitar. It’s made by a company that, by coincidence, bears the name of the church at which John Puckett was preaching when I was saved. It’s a Parkwood. Too big a coincidence not to own it…and the kicker is that it might be the nicest guitar I have! Played it for the gig on Sunday.

Some things just come together like that.

Weird Conversation…

I’ve been re-doing a couple of rooms in my house that have looked exactly the same for about 15-20 years. (For those who don’t know, I live in the house I was raised in as a kid…and right now is the “remodeling” stage, which will hopefully make it look less like my parents’ place, and more like MINE.) I’ve been tearing out wallpaper and carpeting this weekend. It’s been a lot of work, but it’s starting to come together. (And if the garbage company was at ALL cooperative, it’d be going much more quickly.) I’ve been having an ongoing conversation with my mother as I’ve been doing this work. That’s weird. She’s been dead for about 14 years.

If it’s any consolation, I’m not hearing her replies to the things I’ve been saying. I’m not nuts–at least I don’t think I am. It’s just that I’m tearing up the design-scheme she’d created. My dad probably thinks he had some input into it…but he didn’t really. I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t have chosen the flowery wallpaper or the southwestern theme. In fact, I’m pretty sure mom did a lot of that type of work when he was out of town–if memory serves. I’m sure he knew she was doing SOMETHING, but I doubt that he had any idea of what it would look like. Mom just did that stuff–enlisting my brother and I as unwitting help, of course (as well as my Grandma, on occasion).

My conversation with my mother over the past few days hasn’t been the teary-eyed crap you’re supposed to say…nothing like that. There’s been no “Sorry I’m ripping out your wallpaper, Mom.” No, “I know you always liked this picture, Mom…I’ll keep it safe for you.” None of that stuff… Mostly, it’s been stuff like this:

“Ugh…why’d you do THAT, Mom?!?”

“Really? Pink that just WON’T cover-over with a single primer-coat? Thanks a lot for THAT, Mom!”

“Seriously…did you even READ the instructions on hanging the wallpaper, Mom?”

“These are the worst freaking blinds I’ve ever seen, I don’t know what you were thinking.”

“Hey Mom, I found that vase we broke.”

…stuff like that…

Being that I like to remember the dead as they were (and not the idealized version they become at the wake), I’d like to think she’s yelling at me from beyond the grave, telling me I’m moving too slowly, and that I should be more careful not to get paint on the ceiling. I’d like to think she’s pissed about the vase and that she hates that I’ve gone with the colour of brown I’m using in the dining room–that she thinks it’s depressing or something. …and I’d like to think she’s said one of her all-time best criticisms of my housekeeping once or twice… “If the health department came by right now, this place would be condemned!” (She said that to me once…I think it was about my room.)

Anything less and I’ve failed.

Where’s that (Metaphorical) Box of Matches?

Those of you who know me know that I don’t mind burning bridges. That being said…

Notice to St. Louis area musicians:

“Pirate’s Cove” in Florissant maintains poor business practices. Among their offenses:

  1. They make bands pay for their drinks–full price (though this can be acceptable in some settings, read on for why this got under my skin).
  2. Their drinks are at least $1.00 more than they would be at any other establishment.
  3. They have no “built in” audience and depend on the bands to bring in their friends…
  4. Worst of all, if they didn’t make “enough” money for the evening, they will not give the band the full amount they agreed (in advance) to pay. That’s right. They’ll actually TAKE MONEY out of YOUR pocket–never mind that you gave up your Saturday, broke your back moving in gear, played to loud, rude drunks for four hours, and spent money on gas in this economy…but they’ll be sure to get their $15 out of YOU for the three drinks you had, then also not pay you what they agreed. Class. Genuine class. I almost started stealing things, just to make up the difference…but frankly, I couldn’t find anything in there WORTH $15.

So…don’t play there, or patronize their “establishment.” Okay? Any of the first three, even ALL of the first three would be acceptable, but irritating. The fourth, as far as I’m concerned, is breech of contract. Bands beware. Pirate’s Cove WILL cheat you. They didn’t even apologize to us after screwing us tonight. They offered a bunch of excuses…but there was nothing even RESEMBLING, “Man, I’m sorry…is there any way we can mail you a check?” That would have at least been polite–and honestly, I’d have even said, “No problem, just give us what you can and forget the rest.” But no. No apology, just bulls**t.

Plus…their name is stupid.