Scientific Reclassification

Feelings are an assignment of blame or honor to chemicals.
Emotion is a name given to electrical pulses of energy marking time or torment.
Deconstruction of trauma is a math function. Word problem. Brain exercise.
Subtraction of pain.
Addition of love.
Multiply goodness.
Equals a whole person.
Powers to an astronomical degree.
Science is beautiful. Humans are sums.
Peace is knowable. Pain is a number. God is infinite.

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Pray for Heaven

Too many memes
To cover our screams.
Tell us to pray
And wish it all away.

Pray for Vegas

Our thoughts and prayers
Fall on dead ears.
Those victims are gone.
That gun has been drawn.

Pray for Orlando

Cut through the night
With muzzle flash light.
When will I succumb
To Madman overcome?

Pray for Dallas

Hunker down now.
Kneel and bow.
Live in fear.
My rights are clear.

Pray for Newtown

How many deaths
Are required for checks?
How many guns
Are required for one?

Pray for Columbine, Denver, San Bernardino, Virginia, Paris, London…

ETC.

Pray for the whole fucked-up world.


This isn’t about protecting your home. This isn’t about one pistol or rifle for sport. This is about limiting Goddamn military hardware for crazies. It shouldn’t be your right (and it isn’t BTW) to collect an arsenal. Well-regulated, I believe it says! And we’re not.

I’m tired of thinking and praying because the men in power who can control our safety aren’t listening. Gun manufacturers profit from the death of innocents.

Pray for Heaven to have Its way. This isn’t heaven.
This is hell and the NRA is the red one with the automatic rifle, horns, hooves and pointy tail.

Tell Me About Chris Churchill

I love interviewing people. I just wish I knew more awesome, famous people. 🙂 But I know at least one and he’s super awesome and almost famous. To me anyway. He’s brilliant, creative, fascinating, funny, talented, accomplished and so, so friendly. Embracing. Welcoming. Decent, kind, inspiring. He’s my friend, Chris Churchill.

He so kindly agreed to let me interview him. He has quite a few things out right now. Book, songs, documentary. Thanks for reading and checking out my friend, Chris. He’s the coolest. Thanks, Man! for letting me probe your brain.


Background about Chris:

I’m an artist of many types of art. Writing, visual art, music, comedy, film-making. But, of course, not many make a living doing these things. So, I give tours and have recently started teaching.
Where did you start performing?

Started performing in high school. School plays, etc. Also tried, here and there, to play in bands. Wrote a lot of stories and little plays. In retrospect, any shiny artistic object, pulled me away from the previous one. I saw a good friend in an improv show in 1992 or ’93. I thought, “That’s really funny. And I’ll bet I could do that.” So, I auditioned for Lighten Up Improvisation Company and got in. This is where I met your husband (Guy Maggio).

How did you get to Chicago? What led you there? Anything you miss about KC?

I miss everything about KC. Home is always home. When I come home, the wind is the right kind of wind. The birds and insects are the right kind. The sky is the right sky. The Chiefs. The Royals. And all the people of course. My whole family is
still there.

I got to Chicago because I met Adam McKay and David Koechner at an improv fest in Austin, TX (I was performing with your husband and others). They were teaching an improv workshop which I took twice when I was there. Once as a participant. The second time, I just sat in the back and watched. I had never had a conversation with a famous person before. And Koechner had this amazing, positive, “you can do it” energy. He told a group of us that if we were serious about this, we had to move to Chicago. Eventually, I did.

What’s the best thing about following your love of and talent in music? Improv?

The best thing is that you can go to a place on your heart that needs massaging, when it needs massaging and massage it. Flood yourself with serotonin when you need it. The finished product has never really gotten me too far. The process makes me happy, though.

What inspired you to come up with “Abraham Lincoln: The College Years”? What is just improv or something you thought about?
When I was recovering from a psych issue I’d had a few years ago, I finally got to the point where I could artistically express myself again and it helped me get back to “normal”. At this point, I just made up the worst ideas for television pilot episodes and wrote 12 of them. For fun. Because I was crazy.
Later, I decided to have staged readings at Second City for four of them. Well, obviously, they’d need theme songs. So, I made up these silly theme songs and recorded them. Originally, I thought I’d just play them at the live show but, since I already had an audiobook on Mint 400 Records, I asked them if they’d put out my “Doomed Pilots” soundtrack. As far as the Lincoln song goes, I started with the lyrics, searched within the lyrics for the rhythm and recorded that. I added the simplest of bass-lines so that when I sang the lyrics I’d be on key. Or at least I’d know where the key was. Then, from within that framework, I improvised the recording or the rest. The guitars, the backing vocals were improvised because I don’t like planning too much when I’m in creation mode. I think it worked out. It’s one of my favorite things I’ve ever recorded.
How did the project “Tell Me About My Mother” start? (check out the video here)

My siblings and I constantly find ourselves telling these old family stories over and over again about how crazy our mom was/is. After I’d had an internship at a video company and had begun to make more of my own independent stuff, my sister Deb said, “This should be your next project.” And she was right. It turned out really well. It’s been getting a lot of emotional responses from people.

I’m sure it was difficult reliving the past, was it healing or just messy?

It was definitely healing. My mom needed validation for a lot of what she went through. It was nice to hear my dad’s side. Even though some might say he doesn’t come off smelling like a rose in this movie. And my siblings, as usual, served as comic relief when necessary. Some of these stories are pretty intense.

Do you think that your past/childhood set you up for how you live your life now in terms of music, improv, life goals, career choice, or creativity in general? Do you think it propelled you? Or do you think it was a detriment?

My childhood gave me both the artistic tools for survival as well as the need to use those tools to keep my sanity (most of the time). The problem and the solution are wrapped up in the same thing. My upbringing was alternately exciting and fun and sad and lonely. In terms of being able to make any money, it’s never really happened for long stretches. That is probably just a case of not having the right backing, connections, luck and also, let’s face it, I’m not making mainstream anything. I don’t know how to do that because I don’t feel the same way most people do.

What are you working on now or hope to be hearing about in the near future? What’s coming up for you?

Always working on something. Thinking about raising money so I can edit the rest of the story of me and my family and release the whole thing on DVD. Mixing an album for the label. Writing for an online magazine called Literate Ape. Teaching one college course and still giving tours of Chicago.

Thanks, Chris! You’re amazing. ❤

Vol. 2 (More)

This is more of unpublished Vol. 2. The next 3 chapters deal with my attempted suicide at the age of 15. It wasn’t a question of “if I would try to kill myself,” but “when?” I am not suicidal at this point in my life. I have put that demon down. Teens are the most susceptible demographic IMO, but you know, they don’t have a fully developed brain either.
Depression is rage turned inward. Suicide is an expression of that rage against self. Or can be. It’s also a hopelessness. Hopeless that anything will ever be better or different.

I can verify; it does get better. Get help at any cost.


The Day I Decide to Kill Myself


I am wandering around the basketball court. It’s gym class and I am lost. A girl is dribbling the ball up and down the court, complaining that no one is trying. No one is paying attention to her as she plays by herself, weaving in and out of reluctant, zombified teammates and opponents. No one even tries to defend the goal. I would call this forcible sport. No one gives a shit. This isn’t real basketball. This isn’t a game for points that leads you to a championship. This is gym. Required by the state.
The girl is abusive. She is hateful and accusatory. I was randomly selected to be on her team and she is disappointed by my performance so far. She tells me that I’m worthless. You’re not even trying. You’re lazy.
These are all things that my father says. We would all rather not have to change into shorts and tennis shoes in the middle of the day to sweat and mangle our makeup and hair. We would all rather not have to look at each other naked or shower together. We would all rather be somewhere else living life and not playing basketball. Except for this girl.
And what does it matter anyway? What does it matter if I play basketball in gym class? It doesn’t matter because I will never play on a team. I will never be this girl’s friend. An afternoon class of basketball will never change anything. It won’t earn me money. It won’t make me lose weight. It won’t make a boy fall in love with me. What is the point?
If I had any courage or care, I would say:
Bitch, pass the ball and maybe somebody could have a fucking chance.
But nice girls don’t say things like that. Nice girls don’t say anything at all. Nice girls let people walk all over them. I’m not really nice though.
I’m supposed to be nice. Being nice is what separates me from my father.
I’m just scared. I’m not scared of this girl. I’m scared of not being able to stop once I let go of all mannered society and beat this girl until she’s bloodied and unconscious. I am afraid to become what terrorizes me at home. I’m afraid that if I mess up then I will lose
my mother’s acceptance. My mother never taught me to stand up for myself, even when it was necessary. She taught me to take it. She taught me to keep it inside. She taught me through her own silence and inaction.
If I behaved like my father then no one would love me, not even my own mother. I can’t take any more abuse; in school, at home, in life, from this girl.
And I cannot be unloved by my mother.
I cannot go unloved one more day; by this girl, by my father, by the boys I want, by the world in general. I am completely alone and I want to die. There is no other option. I will kill myself today. When I get home, I’m taking the aspirin.

Algebraic Expressions (Basic Algebra Made Me Want to Kill Myself)


I am sitting in algebra class. I am completely uninterested in basic algebra and the teacher makes the material even more pathetic with his ridiculously poor presentation skills.
He’s actually a football coach who has to teach to have a job. No one pays
attention to this man. We all talk freely in his class. Also, we pass notes openly, seldom
listening to his demonstrations. He is a sad man who doesn’t require any of us to actually respect him. I am brazenly resting my head on my small desk as I listen to the conversations around me.
A girl behind me is whispering about taking an entire bottle of aspirin.
It makes your stomach bleed. That’s one way to kill yourself.
Why are they talking about suicide? Would it really work? How many aspirin though? A whole bottle of how many? Fifty? Five hundred?
That could really kill you? I asked as I slightly turned in my chair.
Yeah.
Hm.

Final Blowout


I am at home now. No one else around. I am scrambling through the cabinet above the refrigerator for the aspirin. There. A whole bottle. There are some missing, but the bottle says 500 tablets. Probably at least 400 left. Maybe 300. Surely that will kill me. I gobble them down. All at once. Chewing, swallowing, crying. Then I wait. I only wait for a few minutes before I panic. I don’t want to die.
I am laying in a hospital bed. I am drinking Ipecac (which is the sound you make after taking it) and liquid charcoal. I have an IV attached to my right hand. I have a pan on my stomach. 2 nurses, 1 doctor and my mother are staring at me, waiting for me to vomit. Everyone’s being nice to me.
My mother is stroking my hair and the nurses are showing me sympathy. The doctor is highly interested in my stomach contents and is excitedly anticipating their arrival.
Drinking the charcoal is better than having your stomach pumped, the nurse reassures me.
They have to stick a tube down your throat and then pump the same liquid down the tube.
Well, at least I wouldn’t have to taste it. That might be better. This ain’t no chocolate shake, bitch. I think this, but I just give a wincing smile while I chug-a-lug. The doctor keeps checking the pan.
Nothing yet?
I shake my head no. I don’t feel nauseous at all. I begin to wonder what the charcoal is doing. Does it just absorb all the bad stuff? Does aspirin really do anything to you?
Am I supposed to throw up? I don’t ask a lot of questions because I’m embarrassed to
speak.
A nurse asks me if I need to be admitted. My mother is there and I shake my head no. She asks me if I still feel like harming myself. I don’t.
No. I made a mistake.
My mother makes it clear that I will be safe in her care. She doesn’t think that I need to stay. They release me. I haven’t vomited yet, but they say it’s only a matter of time and if I don’t get rid of everything soon, I should return.
I stand up and walk to the nurses station, ready to leave. I should go to the bathroom before we leave.
I am sitting down. Without warning, I have to vomit. No time to pull up my pants, only enough time to stand, turn and bend. My throat tightens, my temples vein, my eyes tear and my stomach, back and chest spasm until the black is gone.
It’s like a horror movie. I vomit black liquid all over the toilet, the wall, the floor. I begin to clean the charcoal from all the surfaces and then it comes again. More black. Now I wait just a few minutes before I start to clean again. It takes several paper towels
to wipe most of it away. I’m not able to remove all of it. I’m ashamed to tell the nurse.
She is thankful. She is not at all disturbed by the condition of the bathroom.
I ask for my hospital admittance bracelet that they cut and trashed. We head home.
I realize that I was so desperate for affection that I was willing to go to great lengths to get attention of any kind. I am dying on the inside to be held, kissed and loved. I just want to be seen. I don’t want to die. I just want to be loved. At any cost, by anyone.

EAT!

“Write hard and clear about what hurts.”
Said the man who blew his brains out.
Sorry if that seems coarse,
But Hemingway would understand.

Write?
Yes.
Hard and clear?
Yes.
What hurts?
Everything.

Isn’t that why you became a writer in the first place
Instead of blowing your brains out?

I’m far too sensitive to my environment to be a normal person.
I am:
Someone vulnerable to suicide.
Someone who writes and thinks about sunsets, and waves, and injustice.
Someone who wonders how the world was created.
Or why the world was created. Or who created the world.

I have to taste life twice because I can’t believe how rich it is.
I want to savor
The full-bodied flavor
Of life in its burgeoning flourish.

The blossoming zest and delicious zing.
The sour punch of even a sting.

To gorge on the layered palate/palette of artistry that is our living, breathing world,
Even bitterness,
Is a meal too sumptuous to refuse.
But I can understand why Ernest would want to push away from the table.

Growing Doubt

If you’re going to plant something, make it your:
Feet.
Humility.
Kindness.
Reliance on God.

Don’t plant doubt. Doubt is a weed.
Grows fast and takes over everything.
No fruit or flowers can grow
With doubt around.

Doubt will have your well-maintained yard of confidence
Looking like:
A Jungle. Chaos. Hell.
In no time.

Who’s the:
Constant Gardener?
Lily-tender?
Bird-feeder?
Weed-killer?

God
Jesus
Holy Spirit

Doubt is like poison ivy:
Invasive.
Creeping.
Starts an itch that can’t be satisfied.

Once doubt takes over, I can’t stop it.
I’d have to burn my whole house down
To the ground
To beat it.

Scorched earth.
Have no worth.
I steal my mirth
With a Confidence dearth.

I can’t keep this yard on my own. Ask for help.
I’m an inexperienced novice with no skills.
No one ever taught me how to be awesome.
Everyone only reminded me of fear and failure.

God’s been doing this since the beginning of time.
OG-Original Gardener.
So pay attention.
Leave intention.

Oh, Petal. Doubt has no place
In a garden of self-esteem and worth.
Stop tearing up this dirt, sweating over the hurt.
Stop watering negativity with tears, bitterness, and concern.

We were made to blossom and thrive, Buttercup.
Don’t worry, Late-Bloomer.
Every plant has its cycle. Be patient.
Sometimes, the most rare flowers take the longest.

My value and worth aren’t earned.
Or learned.
They. Are. Inherited.
Passed down from my Father.

Genetic. Kinetic. Poetic. Prophetic.

No one can take it away.
No one. Not even myself.
Unless I give permission.
So how can I doubt that, Tulip?