Wednesday, December 24, 2014

An Open Letter To My Hale Center Family

Well.  The time has come.  I'll be honest, I don't know what to say exactly, or how to proceed.  I've been trying to write this letter for a couple of weeks and I feel like I can't quite convey all of my thoughts and feelings accurately.  If at all.
Let's be honest, everything that I have as far as experience is concerned I owe to you.  Before I showed up at the hale, I was focused on working in studios; I had little to no interest in theater.  Kelly mentioned to me that there would be an opening and *poof*, I appeared.  But I didn't think it would be anything long term or that it would change my life in the way that it did.  I thought that I would be there, gain some experience, enjoy my time and that I would be moving on.

It's quite fair to say that the Hale has changed my life.  I discovered a love and passion for theater and live acting that hitherto the Hale, I had no idea existed. I was immediately charmed by Dave Smith and his portrayal of Bobby in Crazy For You.  I couldn't believe the talent that was on the stage.  From Taylor Eliason and his beautiful (BEAUTIFUL) voice to Debra Weed and her electric presence, I was suddenly smitten.  I loved the ups and downs, the problem solving, but most importantly, the people.

At first, it was the talent on the stage that was most impressive to me.  But as time wore on, I really came to realize how much work went into costuming, set design, light design and hair.  Even the officers (seriously.  You guys are so much kinder than I will ever be under some pretty tough circumstances.) are so impressive in their professionalism and know-how.  The talents of the production crew (Cody S, Jana, Maryann, Meagan, etc.) are so synced; so limitless, it really is amazing to me.

I don't know what I'm saying, really.  I'm just babbling. The last few weeks have been a roller coaster of tears, confusion, sadness and happiness.  I guess in the end, I just want you all to know that I love you.  That without you, I would be in a studio somewhere, realizing that tracking isn't what I want to do with my life.   That you're important to me and the memories we have are some of the best in my life. 

You're my family and I'll love you forever.

Andrew James Keele

Friday, November 14, 2014

Why I Stopped Going to Church

This is a first and only draft.  It might be shallow or disjointed or whatever.

Here's how I feel:

I just finished running five miles.  The last two times I've gone to the gym to run, sesame street has been on and I watch it.  It's nice.

I am writing this for a few reasons:
1) When I posted the "going back to church" post on facebook a little bit ago, I had a few people talk to me about church and ask why I had even left in the first place.  I thought I'd centralize the whole thing and make it a little easier.
2) I feel inspired to do so.  This is for anyone who has ever felt the same as I did.

Throughout my whole life, I have struggled with church.  I'm a little rough around the edges, you know?  I'm a little wily and the absolute "sin = eternal damnation" thing just... it just doesn't sit well with me.  It doesn't jive in my heart and I can't believe that a God who loves us would base so much of our eternity on a timed test where we can't remember the answers or how we even got to the test in the first place.  You know what I'm saying?  All I'm saying is that I have always, always, always struggled with the idea of eternal damnation.

But I overcame that; after some rough-and-tumble teenage/young adult years, I over came my doubts and obstacles and I got myself on a mission.  The mission was wonderful.  I worked hard for two years, I baptized a ton of people and I was happy.  I read my journal entries of that time period and I remember how happy I was in that time.  There really is something about serving the Lord on a 24 hour basis that can light a fire inside you. 

As I prepared to come home from my mission, i was stoked.  I was ready to come home, get a job, go to college and get married.  Isn't that what all missionaries want?  Those three things are on every missionaries mind.  "Who will she be?" and "I wonder where I will work and if I will make a lot of money?".  Getting ready to come home is an exciting time, but that's not what I came home to.  I came home to getting dumped on, over and over and over and over.  I'll spare you the details, but I can tell you this much: I've lost more faith in and tolerated more hurt from people I trust most than I am even capable of expressing.  Every time I would stand back up, something else would come and knock me down.  Over and over and over and over and over and over. Since 2007(That's 7 years for all those that aren't fantastic with math).

And in February, 2014, after a handful of failed relationships and lost money and blah blah blah, I quit.  I decided that God wasn't there.  He wasn't there for three reasons:  1) Because he wasn't answering my prayers (knock and it shall be given?  more like "knock and I'll make sure everything you love is taken away. but you can keep your bartending job."); 2) he wasn't there because I didn't feel anything; 3) he wasn't there because it didn't logically make sense for him to be.
And if he was there, he must hate me.  Or, I was going to get up to heaven and he would have tears in his eyes from laughing because my entire existence had been a practical joke.

Anyway, I stopped going to church and made it a point to play video games instead.  For a time, I was fine with it.  I thought things like "if God really does exist, he is going to have to make peace with me, because I'm not going back."  and other crazy prideful things like that.

It's weird, because summer is like, my time.  It's my favorite time and nothing can get between me and happiness and the sun. But as time wore on, I found myself in a deeper and deeper hole. A kind of despair that I did not attribute at all to church, whatsoever. 

All I know is this:  The way I was thinking and feeling when I gave up the church was very self centered. To say "I pray and I ask for things and you tell me no so I'm not even going to talk to you anymore" is a very ego-centric, bratty, and childish way to act. (oxford comma)
Even in the way that I have been treating people and friends.  I don't go out, I don't maintain friendships; if we are friends it's because you have made an effort to stay in my life.  Not the other way around and that's unacceptable.  (full disclosure: I just tried to spell 'unacceptable' as 'unexceptable'.  Eat your heart out, Julie Wilding). Getting down and feeling lonely is a very easy thing when you are only concerned with yourself and not thinking of anyone else.  In fact, it lends itself to loneliness.
What's more, how can I expect to feel ANYTHING, when I'm so busy wallowing in my own self pity?  How can prayers be answered through the spirit if I'm too busy being sad about something trivial or stupid in my life?  I don't know and I don't believe that they can.

I don't know how religion or God works, I don't need to understand how it works.  It doesn't matter how it all works. I can't tell you why my car starts when I turn the key, why should I expect to be able to explain religion or God? (thank you Andrew Robertson). 
I know that without God in my life, I become an egotistical, self-centered asshole who only cares about himself and his xbox 1.  And whether or not that's a cause or an effect, I don't know.  But I believe that they are linked.

 I also believe that God exists.  I believe Jesus Christ is our savior.  I believe that we are a lot better off and that forgiveness is a lot more easily acquired than we tell ourselves.  I believe that through living the teachings of the gospel, our lives here can be better.  Like, A LOT better.
I believe that regardless of our circumstances here on earth, if we open up and become a servant for others and try to do good, we can and will find happiness. 

Starting today, I'm going to be better guys.  I feel alive and ready for more. I love you all. Thanks for reading.

Monday, July 14, 2014

No Bad Days

So I keep a little black book with me.  I write and I write and I write.  Most of the time, inspiration is drawn from people that I see while I'm at lunch or something.  Sometimes it's about me and sometimes it's completely fictitious, made up from my head. Sometimes it gets mopey. They are all really short.  Most don't have any development plot wise, they are just snapshots in my brain.  They are like songs that don't rhyme. Anyway, I've decided to start publishing some of the stuff I write.  I'll take any criticisms or thoughts, just be gentle; these are first and only drafts.  Without further ado:
He was a consummate optimist.  Of course he was religious; he was filled with so much hope, how could he not be?  He wanted there to be an after life; he prayed there was an after life and he would be damned before he ever allowed himself to not be saved. 
He had a catchphrase throughout his whole life; a motto, if you will.  He saw it on the back of a Rav 4 and liked it so much, he didn't let it go.
"No Bad Days" it read, with an hibiscus beneath.
He carried the slogan with him through the majority of his life.  Even when his mother passed away, as he laid her favorite flowers on her closed casket, you could hear him mumbling it. Sometimes he believed it, sometimes he used it to reassure himself, other times he was only trying to convince himself.  He wrote it at the beginning of his journal, in high school would photoshop memes on his computer and later in life, tattooed it onto the back of his left shoulder.
But today, on the day that his work had let him go home early, he walked into his familiar home, which was found suddenly unfamiliar.
First, there were men's dress shoes at the entry way, followed by a long sleeve, button up shirt on the arm of the sofa.  Then, on the second step of the stair case, contrasting with mundane brown carpet, a bright pink bra on the floor, seductively enticing.  He didn't move from the entryway, how could he?  He suddenly questioned whether or not he was in the right house.  He checked and saw that the flat screen was the same; could be coincidence.  He checked for the photo of her and him and found it right where it should be.  This was his house.
There was a sudden thud from the floor immediately above him: his room.  Her room.  Their room.  Followed by laughter, it was hers, light and soft and familiar followed by a groan. The groan was a man's, amber and young.  The groan turned to soft laughter followed by another thud and now they were both laughing.
He was in the living room now.  His shoes were off from the force of habit.  She cared so much about the carpets, they had established the rule to not wear shoes in the house. He had struggled early on with the rule; she would come home and yell as he cooked dinner with his shoes on.
"Jerry!" she would cry from the entryway.  "You're going to ruin the carpets!"
Jerry would smile, remove his shoes and apologize. 
Another thud, more laughter.
"Is it against the law to kill someone if they are in your bed with your wife?" he wondered.
Jerry surprised himself as he began to whistle.  He was even more surprised to find a sudden peace come over him.  He walked into the kitchen and took a seat by the window.  It was sunny and there was a bird perched on the power line on the other side of the street.
"I wonder what birds did before there were power lines and billboards?" he said aloud.
A blue car passed by.
The laughter had stopped and was not replaced with a soft, rhythmic thud.
Jerry rose from his seat and walked back into the living room, down the hallway and into the garage. He grabbed his two five gallon gas cans and went back into the house.
Up the stairs, he found a pair of Banana Republic slacks, a quarter and two dimes.  The door was partly open, rays of sunlight pouring through.  His wife moaned and he moved closer.
He kept a good distance from the door, but poured one fourth of the first five gallons of gasoline onto the carpet.  He doused the stairs, the slacks, the bra, the shirt and the shoes.  But mainly the carpet.

She hated that he smoked.  She constantly complained that he tasted bad and wouldn't allow him to do it in the house or in the car or near the house or at work.  She wouldn't allow him to do it at all, really. 
He reached into his pocket and pulled out his last cigarette.  He lit it and took a long drag.  He took one last glance around what was surely his home, laughed softly and dropped the cigarette on an especially damp part of his carpet.
On his way out the front door, he smiled and said "No Bad Days."

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

We Are All Villains

So I keep a little black book with me.  I write and I write and I write.  Most of the time, inspiration is drawn from people that I see while I'm at lunch or something.  Sometimes it's about me and sometimes it's completely fictitious, made up from my head. Sometimes it gets mopey. They are all really short.  Most don't have any development plot wise, they are just snapshots in my brain.  They are like songs that don't rhyme. Anyway, I've decided to start publishing some of the stuff I write.  I'll take any criticisms or thoughts, just be gentle; these are first and only drafts.  Without further ado:

You don’t understand; nobody understands, really. 
Everyone wants to talk about motives:  “Why did he do it?” or “What was there to gain?”.  Even in the damn court of law, criminals can be acquitted if the prosecutor is unable to find a motive for the crime.  Criminals don’t need motives; you don’t need motives; I don’t need motives; villains don’t need motives.
Villains need an affinity for wrong-doing. Evil-- even in a limited, moderate fashion-- is an enticing thing to villains.  There isn’t a motive and there’s no need for such; person ‘a’ has something something, person ‘b’ wants it and then takes it.
I honestly don’t believe it can be much simpler than that.  Don’t muck it up with psychological analysis mumbo jumbo. Accept that villains have a desire for wrong and be done with it.
I suppose you’re thinking to yourself “Well, by that definition, we are all villains,” and you’re right, you twit. We are all villains.  That’s why I don’t understand the shock or the amazement when someone does something evil or wrong.  How many times have you taken advantage of somebody when they made a poor decision?  How often do you keep that extra money that someone left behind?
Don’t come to me with your wide-eyed, bushy tailed sob story about how Blaze destroyed your apartment building with a massive fireball. Wasn’t it you that spent your son’s lunch money at the casino last week?  Blaze was indulging his affinity for evil just like you, so I don’t want to hear it.  The bystanders are villains, the cops are villains, the city councilmen are all villains, the heroes are villains and the villains are villains.

And I am a villain.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

I'm fine

So I keep a little black book with me.  I write and I write and I write.  Most of the time, inspiration is drawn from people that I see while I'm at lunch or something.  Sometimes it's about me and sometimes it's completely fictitious, made up from my head. Sometimes it gets mopey. They are all really short.  Most don't have any development plot wise, they are just snapshots in my brain.  They are like songs that don't rhyme. Anyway, I've decided to start publishing some of the stuff I write.  I'll take any criticisms or thoughts, just be gentle; these are first and only drafts.  Without further ado:

People can't hurt you when they're little tiny dots.  You can say or do anything; you can be anyone.  Your lights can shine bright-- as bright as you would like them; strobe them, if you please.  High above them or miles away, the faceless being's arrows can't touch you.  It's when they say 'hi' or crazy things like 'i'm sorry' or 'i miss you' that it starts to hurt. That gnawing, twisted feeling that bring to mind mistakes and alienation. No.
No. No.
 They must remain faceless and they must remain on the horizon.  Arms length is too close.
By now you're calling me a cynic: sad and alone. "Obviously dealing with feelings in the most unhealthy way possible," you'll say. And maybe it's true, you're probably right.  But you are all walking around together; together and miserable.  Meanwhile, I just sit up here, looking at all of you.
And look at you.
Funny little beings, perpetuating your existence until it's finally out of your control.  You're so far away and your problems look so small from here.  You're all dots and that's fine.
I'm fine.

I'm fine.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Love is watching someone die

Just listen to this song right here:
I'm going to get right to it:  My cousin died suddenly today.  I spent a meager 2 1/2 hours (my aunt spent 72 hours) at the hospital, supporting my family.  I won't go into details on exactly what happened, but I want to express my initial and prolonged reactions.
Kenslee was a wife and a mother of four.  She was smart, righteous and wonderful.  I will be the first to admit that Kenslee and I were not close.  The closest memory I have was of her babysitting my sister and I back when we lived in California.  But, those are fond memories and I cherish them; perhaps more now than I ever have.
When I found out she was in trouble, my first instinct was to apologize;  to apologize to her husband and to her kids. "I'm sorry I haven't come around.  I'm sorry I wasted time," and in a way, her death became a reason to recognize my own shortcomings "I'm sorry I'm not living as fully or as righteously as I should.", " I'm sorry I don't say 'I love you every chance I get'" and "I'm sorry I ever got mad or acted prideful.  I'm sorry for wasting time."  Any justification I had for coming up short at all in my potential was immediately dispelled in the wake of Kenslee's sudden death. 

Why would someone so good as Kenslee be taken away while someone as reckless as I am left?

From the apologies, my mind sort of transitioned into my shortcomings.  I started thinking about things like charity and forgiveness; love and faith; peace and life.  Suddenly, it's all relevant and it's not just buzzing around your head or in your peripherals; it's focused pressure in your stomach and chest that is pushing so hard that you're finding it hard to breathe.  I was suddenly aware of all of my short comings and that lead me right back into apologizing. 
I realized how fragile our lives are.  It's a flame on a candle stick that is so quickly and easily distinguished, why wouldn't we choose to live life more fully?  Why wouldn't I choose to forgive?  Why wouldn't I choose to love?  Why wouldn't I choose to play with my little nephews or give a ride to my little sister?  If tomorrow, I could be in the hospital, why wouldn't I choose to maximize my life through the small things? Is my day to day so important that those things can wait?  How long is too long for those things to wait? 

I made it to the hospital today.  As I approached, it dawned on me: Hospitals are big, beautiful buildings that are filled with our most horrific life events. Tall, sprawling structures filled with sadness and bitterness and apologies.  Once I entered the waiting room and saw my family, red eyed and despaired, I became incredibly aware of myself.  How do I stand?  Who do I look at?  What do I look at?  What can I even say?  What is there to say?  I hug my relatives who are all crying. I begin crying, too.
"I don't know what to say" comes out the most.  I don't say it to be cliche or funny; I say it because it's the truth.  Comfort seems so arbitrary.  What wise words can I say to comfort my ailing family?  "don't worry, I'm here"? "if you need anything, let me know"?  Almost every embrace was ended with an "i'm sorry". 
And I think that the point I'm trying to get to is this: I want to live my life in such a way that I don't feel the desire to apologize when someone like Kenslee passes on.  I think we all should.  Kenslee was a bright light that shined; an example for us to follow.  I want to love sweeter and care deeper.  I want everyone to know that I care and how much I care.

I love you all so much.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Dr. Pepper

Muzak (thanks to Jon Campbell for the gem): 

It's been a while since I've posted.  I feel a lot of different things tonight.  I feel accomplished and lazy; happy and incomplete; anxious and calm.  I'm serious.  All 6 of those emotions all at once.  Like a raging sea of paradox.
Tonight, for dinner, I had a can of Dr. Pepper, a plate of buttered corn and a bowl of campbell's soup (you know, the chunky kind? The expensive kind?). 
On monday, on a complete and utter whim, I bought a motorcycle.  A honda Shadow Phantom.  The thing is sick, man.  I love love love it so much.  It's fast and sexy (just how I like my women, eh?  eh...?); it's a great bike and potentially a huge mistake.  Here is a picture of me on the day I bought it:
It's a lot more fast and powerful than my old bike (don't worry, I still drive safe).  I will say that the seat is not as comfortable as my old bike but in every other facet of performance, the Phantom is better.
Today, I sold my very first motorcycle.  The one that I fell in love with and learned to ride on.  As the guy handed me money and I handed him the keys, I felt my heart beating heavy.  I began to feel a lack of breath even though I hadn't done any real work at all.  I haven't ever had an anxiety attack, I don't have anxiety, but I think tonight as I watched my bike drive away, I suffered a mild anxiety attack.  I paced around uncontrollably; I kept coming back to the window to see if the bike was still there or not.  I felt so antsy and crazy.  CRAZY I SAY.
I cut my pinky fingernail too short today and now, anytime I hit 'q', 'a', 'z' or 'shift', it sends a sharp spike of pain up my nerve endings.  Needless to say, that last sentence was a pretty painful one.

So I bought a new bike and got rid of my old one.  I sold the old bike because I wanted to get out of debt.  I didn't want anymore credit card payments and the motorcycle plus my savings account would be enough to pay off my credit cards.  To celebrate my suddenly debt-free life, I bought a new motorcycle.  ha ha ha.  But the motorcycle was bought on an auto loan, not on a credit card.  There is a difference.
Here it is, my last picture of my motorcycle:
 Urinetown is showing at the Hale right now.  Man, I love that show.  It is so funny and witty; the cast is great and directing is perfect.  It's a genius production(I do a little bit of singing in it, myself.).  Come see it!  Support your local theater! Support me for heavens sake! Support my job!
I felt like I had a lot more to say, but that's kind of the end of all of it. 


I'm sad to see my motorcycle go.  I'm happy I got a new one, but things aren't ever quite like the first time, are they? 

I don't know, I feel weird. 
I'm out!  Goodnight everybody!