I talked to my dad today. I don't talk that guy nearly as much as I should; but every time I do talk to him, I always wonder why I don't call him more often. He's a good man, my father. He's a great man. Probably the best man I've ever known (and I'm saying that as objectively as I can). I really can't think of another man who holds a candle next to my father, save for maybe Pastor Tom. He's honest, funny, kind, insightful, industrious, loves God... He's the man I hope to be. The man I hope I'm becoming.

Whenever I need help or advice, he's always the first person I go to. Always. And, usually, he's the last person I go to because after talking to him and hearing what he has to say about whatever situation I find myself in, I don't need to hear what anyone else has to say. Today was no exception.

I love that he doesn't think I'm crazy like a lot of other people probably do. Lately that's been my biggest concern—making sure people don't think I'm completely insane. It's not that I have an image to maintain or anything, it's just that if people start thinking I'm crazy, I'll start thinking I'm crazy too. Sometimes it feels like I am.

I told him all about the bizarre circumstances that have been surrounding my life lately and he was very understanding of it all. I was mostly concerned about the demon-in-the-house issue, but the first thing he said was, "Well, this is all familiar territory for you." As upset as that made me (because it's true), it was very comforting and validating. He acknowledged that this is something that I've been struggling with my whole life and he offered me some solid advice: "You need to get the hell out of there!" So true. He also thinks I should figure out a way to move to Chicago.

I found one opportunity up there at a coffee shop called Peets Coffee and Tea. Knowing my luck, I probably won't even get a call back; but like Dad said, what's the hurt in trying? And, of course, as soon as I found out about that position, I learned of an opening here in Bourbonnais that's full-time and pays $13/hr. Dad advised I should go for that one too. Again, "it never hurts to try." In the event that I got both positions offered to me, he said, "Well. Then do whatever the hell you want."

Solid advice.

I'm really glad I don't have to live up to my dad's expectations of me, like other people I've known. He just wants me to succeed—not wildly, but so much that I'm not homeless. My mother, on the other hand... If I don't end up a millionaire, she's sure to resent me.

I just want to be happy.



It's been two days since I last heard from Megan. Oddly enough, I'm kind of okay with that. Even after months of no contact of any kind, we have fallen into the familiar place of arguing about our relationship all the time. I'm wondering if our personalities were just made to clash? It's a shame to say because it seems so defeatist, but... I just can't do her version of a relationship; I can't do the long silences, the never talking on the phone, the never seeing each other, I can't deal with her infamous disappearing act. I just can't. Maybe it'd be different if I thought it would change anytime soon, but I really don't see that ever happening. She is just pleased as punch to keep me at arm's length, it seems. I'm tired of it though. Maybe I needed to invite her back into my life to fully be able to move on?

I was having an impossible time getting over her. My heart was so full of regret for the way things ended and my guilt was preventing me from fully moving on. Now that I've made my amends and we've made our peace with each other, and now that we're right back where we used to be—fighting all the time—I'm finding myself excited about eventually meeting someone else. Like Rod Stewart sang: "Someone like you makes it hard to live without somebody else."

I must confess that working in a coffee shop makes it very difficult not to notice attractive members of the opposite sex. Right now, for instance, there's a very beautiful woman sitting at a table next to the window, doing work on her laptop, and bobbing her dangling foot in rhythm to the music I'm playing and I can't help but wonder if I should talk to her.

Why do I fall in love with every woman I meet?

I haven't talked to Duggy much lately. I legitimately miss our talks. And I legitimately miss the way she talks. That Irish accent is deadly...

Mr. Raschka just learned that he needs to be in Chicago a bit earlier than he though; rather than Friday, he needs to be there Wednesday. I'm going to miss that kid a lot. I'm hoping that maybe I'll be able to find some sort of gainful employment up there so I can go with him.

Much like DeKalb, I can't stand living in Bradley. This town is eating me alive, destroying The Drew.

This is becoming a theme in my life unfortunately, but I need to escape. I've got to break free. In fact, I should probably start job hunting up there. I've been at work for almost five hours now, and we haven't had a customer in about three hours. It's really pathetic. I've just been sitting around, listening to the music and re-cleaning the same tables over and over. I'm bored out of my mind. Maybe if I had a job in the city, things wouldn't be this way. Maybe I'd be constantly busy, and making lots of money, and beating off women with a stick.

The grass is always greener, I suppose.

I'd be lying if I said I didn't want this journal to be exactly like The Diary of Anais Nin. I should start reading her journals again, for inspiration.

It's just that whenever I write, my mind always blanks and I can't think of anything to write about. I think so little of myself that I find it hard to write about myself. I find my thoughts and emotions so uninteresting, that it bores me to write about them too.


My Journal

I have been writing in my journal much lately, a sort of feeble attempt to record my daily life. That is the reason I have not been posting on my blog at all. So, to keep my readership up to speed, I have decided that I am going to copy my journal entries here.

Now, reader be warned -- these are my personal journal entries. They are unedited, unrevised, and uninhibited. They are uncomfortable at times, overzealous at times, and completely ambiguous at times. But they are me.

So I'm going to start at the beginning, which only takes us back a few weeks:

It has been a full seven months since my last entry. I'm really no good at maintaining a personal journal. It's embarrassing, really. How difficult can it possibly be just to do a wee bit of writing everyday? I think I'm just too lazy. That needs to change.

An awful lot has changed since January... Let's recap:
  • I am now living with Joshua Riley in Bradley, Illinois. That move came in June
  • I broke up with Megan in March. That decision led to three months of heartache and regret, until I emailed her in July to apologize
  • I conquered a 17 year old goal and went on holiday to Ireland in July. I fell in even deeper love with the place and have been homesick for it ever since
  • I was hired in July at a local coffee shop called Higher Grounds as an event coordinator and barista. As usual, I love the job but can't stand the management. Maybe I just have a problem with authority
  • My love life is... All over the place. Right now I've got four women interested in me, but only two of them are possibilities for me—Megan, and a girl from Ireland named Sarah Duggan. Now that I'm working at a coffee shop and dealing with attractive women on a daily basis, I don't know if Megan or Sarah are the right ones to pursue
  • I have a new best friend. His name is Aaron and I love this guy dearly. Unfortunately, for me anyway, almost as soon as I met him, he moved off to Chicago to enroll in seminary. However, we're such good friends already that he told me he'd like me to move in with him. Now it's a matter of finding a job there so I can move
  • There is a demon living in my new house and it is trying to kill me
Now, obviously, these are all topics that need fleshing out, but I'd rather keep this entry purely re-introductory, just until I get back in the swing of writing everyday.

That's my main objective with this entry.


A Song of Repentance

I have your letter and it's memorized
from reading it over a million times
And I have your picture pressed between pages
of a journal composed of my crooked rhymes

And I have your smile burned in my memory
I've been haunted by ghosts of laughter and love
Because all this while, I've wanted you by me
as close as the rain and the Holy Dove

You were my woman and I was your man
and we had our moments, but we had our plans
Oh dreamer, dreamer; a dreamer am I
for just one more chance to drink in your champagne eyes

There are three things that my heart recalls
an altar, a ring, and a wedding gown
We painted our dreams upon the walls
and then scene by scene, I tore them down

I never meant to cause you no pain
and I never meant to cause you no shame
and I never meant to leave you out in the rain
I never meant to break your heart
no, I never meant to tear it apart
I shouldn't have ever let things get that far
I imagined you bawling when I saw the rain
and I thought about calling but was stopped by my shame
and all I could do was whisper out your name
And I never meant to put me before you
when I couldn't imagine me without you
when I couldn't imagine loving nobody but you
And I never meant to break all my promises
I never imagined three doubting Thomases
all lining up to press their hands into your side
No, I saw the scars and the stone rolled away
and I saw you victorious over your grave
and I couldn't stop myself from putting you back in your place
Now I'm praying to God to raise you back up again
and I'm praying that maybe one day you will understand
that I never meant to throw THIS all away...

Irish Tales of Woe and Wonder, Part 3

The plan today was to wake up bright and early and set out for Cork City, stopping in Blarney along the way. This, however, is not what actually happened.

Rather than following the itinerary I ever so diligently planned out, my mother decided that she wanted to instead drive down to Kilkenny to see Kilkenny Castle. I have to admit, I was a little put off by this—it's not that I minded going to Kilkenny; I didn't mind it at all. What irritated me about it was that I had asked my mother several times over the weeks preceding the trip what she wanted to see while we were there (since I was the one planning the trip, I wanted to be as democratic as possible, allowing everyone to see what they wanted to see). Every time I talked to her about the trip, she would tell me, "Andrew, this is YOUR dream vacation. Morgan and I are just going along for the ride. Plan the trip however you want to, and we'll be happy just to be there."

So I planned the trip the way I wanted to. And Kilkenny Castle was not part of my plan.

The other thing that irritated me about my mother changing my plans was that I had a set itinerary to see the touristy things that I really wanted to see (which, really, wasn't that much because I loathe acting like a tourist when I'm on vacation). The plan for Tuesday was to see the Blarney Stone. This, in my opinion, is the penultimate tourist attraction in Ireland—everyone traveling there should kiss the Blarney Stone. Everyone living there should kiss the Blarney Stone. It's just one of those things. It's kinda like how you can't go to Chicago and not take a picture of your reflection in The Bean in Millennium Park. It's just something you have to do at least once in your life. Going to Kilkenny, going pretty far off our route, to see this castle would pretty much disable us from seeing Blarney Castle. We'd have to see it the next day, putting us a half day behind schedule, which meant something else that I wanted to do would have to be taken off the trip. But we'll come back to that in a future post.

Kilkenny was actually a pretty cool place. It's one of the bigger cities in Ireland, though nothing like Dublin,

Galway, Limerick, and Cork; however, despite its big-city environment, it maintains a small-town feel. It's fairly bustling with a lot of corporate business and retail, and at this town's cultural center lays Kilkenny Castle—a beautiful, decadent (by Irish standards anyway) 17th century castle. After seeing it, I tried hustling the three of us out of the city to get to Blarney, thinking we just might have enough time to see the highlights of Blarney, but my traveling companions were taking their sweet time, visiting every single gift shop on the way back to the car. This would prove to be the detriment of the trip—in every town, my itinerary kept getting pushed further and further back because my mother and sister were wasting a really good portion of time that should have been spent driving on visiting every single gift shop. I kept protesting, "Guys, they sell the same stuff in every shop! This shop has nothing different than the one before it!" but my protests fell on deaf ears. So while they'd do that, I spent my time like a local, stopping in pubs to watch the World Cup and drink Guinness, then heading back outside into the rain, and ducking into alleys to smoke my Dunhills.

Since we didn't have enough time to see Blarney Castle after all the time wasted on postcards and souvenir t-shirts, I decided, "Let's just see Blarney tomorrow, and head to the Rock of Cashel today since we're out here anyway."  And that's what we did. I made good of a bad situation. Because I'm an improviser. Fortunately, the Rock of Cashel proved itself to be one of the highlights of the trip. I fell in love with the town, and the history surrounding it—such an utterly fascinating history. If you want to learn more about it, do some research! I'm sure you'll find your reading just as intriguing as I found it.

We rolled into Cork City, where our bed and breakfast was, pretty late that night (because, once again, my mother and sister wasted a solid hour in Cashel's gift shops). What also didn't help any was that this bed and breakfast was nearly impossible to find! In our travel voucher, all the directions we had to get to some of these B&B's was "Take the N17 and we're just off the main road." While driving around Cork City, the second-largest city in the Republic, those directions didn't help a whole lot. So we drove around the city for a little over an hour, just trying to figure out the road signs (which, I will get more into in future posts, are damn near impossible to follow). We stopped at an extremely American restaurant on the outskirts of the city for dinner (it was almost like a Steak 'n' Shake—really tacky), and asked for directions from the waitress but she had no idea where this B&B was based on the directions we were provided (coincidentally, our waitress had just moved to Cork City a few months ago from Naperville, IL, a town that I used to live in—small world).

She pointed us in the direction of a hotel where we could get more exact directions, which, considering the amount of difficulty we were having with this B&B, we found pretty easily. Again, the receptionist didn't know where the B&B was based on the directions we were provided, but could fortunately tell us how to get to the road indicated in the directions. She pointed us in the right direction and after an extended period of trial and error, I managed to find the B&B on my own—we finally got checked in around 10 at night.

We were all exhausted by the time we got there, but I couldn't fall asleep because I was so restless. So I walked around the neighborhood, smoking Dunhills and praying for the country and churches that I walked past along the way. I came back home after an hour or so and, still unable to fall asleep, played cards in the guestroom with the proprietor of the B&B. The gentleman was an older man, probably in his late 60's, named Oliver. We spent the evening talking about his life and his family and the country he loves so much; we talked about America and the city I love so much, Chicago, and how different the two cultures are even though we're both in the Western World and even though both cultures have had a tremendous amount of influence on each other. He was very familiar with America from his holidays here and the Americans that stay at his house, so we has able to speak fairly authoritatively on his view of American life. He spoke at great length about how Americans are so focused on rushing and hustling and bustling about and striving to be better than the Joneses, if you will. He didn't understand why Americans couldn't just sit still (he said this with a sigh of exasperation, as if he felt sorry for us—I believe he did feel that way, and it shamed me).

I had to listen very intently to understand what he was saying through his incredibly thick Cork accent, but after a couple hours of listening, I can tell you this about Oliver—he is a man that is passionate about life, about living life and experiencing as much as one can in the time God has allowed him. I learned a lot from him in the couple of hours we spent together, and I went to bed wishing even more that I could just stay there forever. After listening to Oliver talk about how much he was enjoying life by just living it, I dreaded my return to the States, where it's so easy to lose focus on just living life.

I think this is the lesson of the day that God was teaching me: don't get so wrapped up in doing, just be.