Saturday, December 19, 2009

All the Women Are Strong

"And that's the news from Lake Wobegon. Where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average." That's the signature sign off of the legendary Garrison Keillor. He's an American story-teller, radio show host, writer, and author who has inspired me, whether I realized it or not, throughout my life.

As a child I would fall asleep listening to his stories from the fictional town of Lake Wobegon, Minnesota, where present-day life felt more like life in a rural 1950s town. At least, that's how it always sounded to me. A town full of Lutherans and modesty, Lake Wobegon had plenty of characters. Farmers, townies, rebellious teens, drunks, and many other characters that I remember as if they're old friends. The best way to describe the majority of the LW population was said by Garrison in a story where he talked about the hottest days of summer when people would be awake in the middle of the night because they saw air conditioning as a luxury (or it meant someone was sick in the house) and they were all so modest that they couldn't sleep without a blanket on. If they kicked the blanket off in the middle of the night unconsciously, the immodesty would wake them and they'd put the blanket back on. (Ha!)

Even during my high school years I would still listen to the different stories as I fell asleep and when I got to college I stopped listening to it for a couple years, then about a year and a half ago I started listening to the radio show on NPR he hosts called A Prarie Home Companion. I try to listen to it every week, and the way he speaks...his pauses and emphases...I love it.

My sister gave my father a book Garrison had written a year ago and I read it in just a few days, when normally it takes me over a month to finish a book. After that, I got one of his audiobooks and spent the next few days listening to that nonstop.

So as I was listening to the broadcast of A Prarie Home Companion last week, I called my dad and asked him if he wanted to take a trip with me to see a live broadcast of APHC. He told me I needed to focus on getting back in college first, but he'd think about it. So this week I looked up dates and Mr. Keillor will be doing broadcasts of Lake Wobegon this year! You'd better believe I'm going.

And I'm going to send him a letter every week. I'm going to be persistent in insisting that I get to meet him. It would mean so much to me and I want to let him know the influence he has had in my life. In my own story telling, and especially in my writing, even though I couldn't get close to the intricacy of the stories he tells and the humor.

One day it would be nice to visit a place like Lake Wobegon. A place of simpler life. Where casseroles are a part of a balanced diet and even the lone bar in town (the SideTrack Tap) stays closed on a Sunday. A place where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

L Is For the Look

The more I live, the more I realize that "I love you." isn't something you say, it's something you do.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Passion Lost

At 14 I picked up a guitar and sat down to play for the first time with vigor. Over the next few months the blood on the strings from hours of playing wasn't the only proof I had found my niche, I was getting good fast. For a beginner, I picked it up quick and thus began my love affair with music.

As I learned more songs I began to write my own. Looking back on it, they were some of the worst songs ever written, but to me they were legendary. Over the years I've written and recorded many songs, learned to play many instruments, played countless shows with a few bands, and played for fun for hours on end.

But in the past year and a half I've fallen away from the thing I once loved more than anything in the world. I don't play my guitar anymore. I haven't touched a piano in months. I have a lot inside me that I want to put to song, but when I sit to try and play...nothing comes out. I feel as if I've lost all I worked for.

So now what? I suppose I have to start at square one. I have to re-learn the basics. I want to be the musician I always hoped to be. Not in order to play in front of people. Not to be loved. To gain a better understanding of my life...of those around me.

So tomorrow, I'm getting new strings put on my guitar. I'm looking into buying a cheap piano (my old roommate got one for a dollar). I'm going to return to the world I belong to.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


On the one day a year we, as Americans, give thanks for the blessings around us I normally spend it being upset with my family's tradition. My dad, as a pastor of a small church in a small town, holds a Thanksgiving feast at the church every year.

I hate it. I get there half an hour late on purpose. Most years I eat alone, and I go home to take a nap. And I don't keep it bottled inside. My family has always known that Thanksgiving has been my least favorite holiday since we started having a feast at the church.

Although...this year was different. My sister and her boyfriend (of whom I approve) were there along with a few other people I felt comfortable around, and we sat at a table and shot the shit while eating food. Afterwards, I talked with some more people, helped to tear down the tables, and went home to take a nap. My nap this year wasn't because I was pissed off though. It was because I actually ate and spent time with people.

Then I woke up around 5 and we went to my sister's boyfriend's parents' house. I was uncertain of what to expect because I knew that he's 10 years older than I am and figured his siblings would be as well...leaving me to read my book aloof. However, once I got there, we were immediately greeted and his whole family was very pleasant. Matt (Jordan's boyfriend) is a great guy, and he's the first guy she's dated that I liked to hang out with. Also, he had a friend he teaches with there, so it made it that much easier.

At dinner, we all talked and it felt like a Desmarais family Christmas transformed. When we went around saying what we were thankful for, I said I was thankful for this Thanksgiving...and that my life is finally achieving what I've been looking for for so long.

For once, I know what it's like to have a Thanksgiving that gives you warm fuzzies. This year, I'm thankful for a family that loves me, friends that are there for me, and a life with promise.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tension continues.

No number of hot showers can relieve the pain my lower back. And apparently no amount of rubbing can get rid of the knot just above my right shoulder blade. That's because I'm stressed and the only way I can relieve my back pain is to relieve my stress...and that's the path my life is taking me down right now. Where to start when there's so much to do?

First, my car. I got a 1997 VW Golf when I was 17. I've loved the little 5-speed VW ever since, but it's been nothing but a problem. The speedometer doesn't work most of the time, meaning the odometer doesn't work either. I just replaced the starter 2 weeks ago (and twice before since buying the car) and the starter went bad the next day. I replaced the starter today and it went bad within a few hours. I replaced the battery and alternator 2 weeks ago. Last year, the entire back wheel, brake, everything fell off while I was going 70 on the highway. The list goes on, but I'm just trying to get the car to South Bend so I can sell it. But I can't even do that right now. I had to get it towed today.

Second, school. I've had quite a rocky college career, but I'm attempting to be rid of all distractions by this next semester so I can work toward getting done with a degree and maybe getting a job worth working. But I have to jump through hoops because distractions in the past have led me to put school last on my list of priorities, leaving me with poor grades. Meetings with my advisor later, I've handed in my appeal to the Financial Aide office and I await their decision to grant me aid or not.

Third, money. I'm working a normal amount right now...not too much, but I can't seem to catch up financially. As soon as I have a tiny surplus of money something comes up that causes me to be back in the poor boat. I've taken more hours for the holiday season to save money for my trip to Germany in late December, but I'm afraid I'll just end up being even more stress since I work on my bicycle and it's about to get real cold.

Last, personal relationships. This last one is a kind of catch-22. The amount of stress I have in my life is affecting my friendships. This is what happened, among other things, when I broke up with Allison. My best friend, who is also my roommate, and I hardly talk because I become irritated when we you can only imagine how I feel when I talk with coworkers and other friends. I'm always frustrated.

So what's a guy to do? I suppose there are a few things.

1. My car is in the shop. It should be taken care of by tomorrow morning, when I'll pack my things for the Thanksgiving holiday and head to South Bend and be RID OF THAT CAR FOREVER. Then I'll be able to take my sister's old car back with me. No more car problems. And if I do have least it's not a German scheiƟhaufen (pile of shit).

2. I just have to wait for school. Once I get the results of my appeal, I can register for classes and be fine until the first day of class. That I can do nothing about right now.

3. Maybe things will be better monetarily once I have my school loan and don't have to worry about working so much. Having a car I don't have to spend 1000 dollars on a month will help. I should see if there's anything I can do for some quick money. Something legit?

4. I'm trying to weed out the bad friends anyway...maybe this is my chance. I need to just leave some friends behind and spend more time with the ones I care about.

I need to start playing music again. That always helped me through things.

All this will help, but my attitude needs to change. I'm an unhappy and judgmental person right now. I've always been a firm believer that you can change your attitude just by saying it's different, but in the past couple years I haven't been able to do so. I'm trying but it's hard to do alone.

So God, if you read this, check your voicemail, I've been calling for years.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Peter Pan Leaves Neverland

Change in my life has been seemingly constant for the past 3 years. I moved from a small community of roughly 5,000 people in the Fall of 2006 to Indianapolis, which is closer to 800,000. I had always felt like a big fish in a little pond and I was ready to stretch my fins. I dove into dorm life and school head first, taking part in different activities than I normally had at home and within a few months and joined a band.

After the school year was over I spent the summer working a minimum wage retail job about 10 hours a week...the rest of my time was spent with music. I traveled around Indiana and Illinois with 3 guys I cared a lot about. I played in front of a lot of people and had a lot of awesome experiences. During all this I also moved twice, once from the dorm to an apartment, then into a basement apartment with the band's singer.

I transferred schools from University of Indianapolis to IUPUI to save money on school and have more time for the band. After about November, though it had started to turn into something I didn't love doing anymore. They had turned it into more of a job. Also, my girlfriend and I had called it quits, leaving me feeling a bit lonely. So I decided to leave where I was and move back home. I enrolled in classes at IUSB with intentions of regrouping and moving back to Indy when I was ready. Within a month of living back home I had started dating a girl from Elkhart, and was going to see her quite often, taking my focus off school.

After about a month and a half I decided to stop living with my parents and moved into a house with 5 guys in South Bend. I got a job at a restaurant as a server and spent my free time with my friends. I took my focus off school and worked too much. Then I decided I would go back to Indianapolis.

An hour after my last final at IUSB, I was on the road back to Indianapolis. I moved into an apartment with an old friend in Greenwood, a suburb south of Indy. I started a job as a server at another friend's restaurant. Allison's parents owned a restaurant called Pipers in Indy and it was a great place for me to work while transitioning back to "big city livin'." Allison and I started dating after much persistence on my part.

I spent the summer working two jobs, as a server and also as an Automotive Glass Technician. I was spending the week working 10 hour days on top of Semi trucks in warm clothes for shit pay. My weekends were at Pipers and with Allison. She and I had been getting along so was the easiest relationship I had ever been in. Toward August of 2008 everything had begun to wear on me. I hated my job as an auto glass technician and by the middle of October I was laid off. Also, my relationship with Allison was taking a hit. We broke up in late November (the same time I had left Indy a year before) and I kept working at her parents' restaurant.

I had taken the semester off that fall, but Spring of 2009 I went back to IUPUI. Allison and I were still broken up and I was still working at Pipers. I had taken up cycling (fixed gear) which was lucky because my car had broken down. I was riding to class every day from my apartment in Greenwood, to the mall bus stop where I'd take the bus downtown and ride to -25 degree weather. After a while I needed a break from serving and got a job downtown doing maintenance at a banquet hall for which Pipers often catered. I also got a job working delivery on my bike at Pita Pit. So now I was working 2 jobs, going to school, riding my bike everywhere, and attempting to get back together with Allison. It was a busy few months.

At the end of March my lease was up and I moved in with a family from my church, very close friends of mine. Allison liked this because I was closer than downtown and with friends of both of ours. My car still didn't work and after the semester was over I was working at Jimmy John's doing delivery as well. So now 3 jobs.

I quit the banquet place and stayed at JJ's and PP. Then I moved downtown with a girl I had met once and lived in an old school building. My bed was in the living room, which was my domain. The girl was a nutbag...and it only lasted about a month and a half until I got my own house with my best friend Charlie and an old friend, Jordan.

About a week after I moved in, Allison and I broke up again. Everything had been going fine, but it was reaching that time again...Fall. At the end of every summer and during fall I become someone I'm not. I burn bridges. I become very selfish. I broke up with Allison and it was foolish.

I don't know why I do this, and it keeps me up at night. I'm conscious of it, yet I still do it. I don't want to. So now, 3 months and 3 days after we broke up, I'm sitting and writing this. I've been attempting to mend things with Allison. I've been someone I don't want to be and she has always been there for me. Only two things have been constant in my life since I graduated high school: change and Allison.

So now, I'm proposing to myself a new challenge. I'm attempting to achieve some normality. I have a lot to prove to Allison, but I will. She has been my best friend for so long. Someone I don't have to try with because we think the same. Someone who all other women will never live up to (except my mother, of course). Someone who belongs at my side, and I at hers.

So it's time for another change. A change to becoming the man I will be, not the boy I used to be. It's time for normality. It's time to grow up.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Monster Mash & more

Monster Mash is coming up! I'm so pumped for this "race". I got off work for it and the after party is going to be sick. Ahhhh so excited!

In other news, I got asked yesterday if I would like to teach a spin class on weekday mornings. That would be such an awesome job. I'm sure it would help my speed on my bike tremendously. And I'd get a free gym membership which means I would get free massages!

Hmm hope I can do it.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

My Next Tattoo

I decided today what my next tattoo will be.

Since my family moved to Northern Indiana when I was 6, we would make trips to Maine frequently to visit family. We'd take our '88 Chevy Suburban and my sister and I would always get our own seat in the back to lay down and nap, read, snack, and listen to our Walkmans. Mostly...I would sleep. But Mom would wake me up after we made it through Portsmouth, New Hampshire on I-95 so I could see the Piscataqua River Bridge. As a kid, I thought the bridge was just awesome, so I would always get excited.

To this day my parents will wake me up on the trip so I can see the "big green bridge" (it was the best nickname for Piscataqua I could come up with as a kid). When I was in high school it started to lose its luster in my mind. But now, when we pass through it brings back those memories and I miss it. Mom still lets me know every time she's passing over the bridge when she goes to Maine.

It's something that reminds me of a lot. Different trips for different reasons. Family Christmases, trips to the beach, funerals, and more. Like a bridge to a different world (because my extended family really is from a different planet).

For these reasons and more than I could tell...I decided that I'm going to get a tattoo of the green bridge on my ribs. I have yet to decide what will be on each side and the background, but I'm excited to have my friend draw it up.

This is what the bridge looks like:

The second picture is the view from the car. Love it.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

When I ride
I become
the world.

Instead of just...
a part of it.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Show Up Classic Pt. II

So this weekend was sprints and a hill climb in Bloomington.

I didn't do well. I don't want to talk about it. I feel fat haha.

But here's everyone that showed:

And then it happened:

Mom, I know you're proud.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Bike Race, Chicago, Movie and Swayze

Last Friday Indianpolis had our first Alley Cat race of 2009! It was roughly 20 miles and had 20-25 participants. I finished in the front of the pack at 8th place. 4th through 9th place all showed up at the same time and it was a dead sprint once we ran up the stairs to get on our bikes and to the finish line. It was amazing. Even though I got hit by a car, fell down twice, and got a cramp in my side after the red bull chug. Here's the flyer:

I know, it says was a typo.

Tuesday my friend Eric Boes and I decided to drive from Indy to Chicago to ride our bikes around the city on St. Patrick's Day. We parked on 21st street near his friend's house and rode downtown, about a 5 mile ride. Then we rode down the lake shore and back downtown and back to Lincoln Park and then back downtown. Then back to Pilsen (21st st) and then took the El to Wicker Park. We stayed at a friend's there and had to ride all the way from Wicker Park to Pilsen at 7 AM...probably about a 12-13 mile ride. So I'd say it was about 50 miles all together. It was a good day but I was happy to get back to Indy and sleep!

Last night Allison and I went to see The Last House On The Left. It was a GREAT movie, but not for the faint of heart. If you like to get your heart pumping, go see it. If graphic movies aren't your thing, stay away.

My mom drove from Bremen to Carmel today and I met her at Goodwill so she could pick Swayze up. Sucks, but it'll be good not to have to worry about Swayze for a while. Plus, my sister is going to be happy about having a dog around that is SOOOOO awesome.

Here's swayze:

She's fully grown, too! How perfect.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Escalators, School, and a New Job

First of all, I'd like to say to everyone that stands on escalators...MOVE! Man, I'm always trying to get up the escalator to the 4th floor of the student center at IUPUI and have to stand behind people as I passive aggressively sigh behind them. Sometimes I even clear my throat. DON'T THEY GET THE HINT? I'm just saying...don't stand on the moving sideWALK and don't stand on escalators...and don't fart in the elevator (unless it could get solid if you don't). is getting a little rougher. But don't worry mom! I'm paying attention and doing my best to stay studious. Tonight I had to interview someone about how they feel about personal space. I did the interview 2 inches away from his face.

In other news, I got a job at Pita Pit downtown! I'll be a deliverer. Which means that I'll be able to learn the streets of the city better and maybe work up my endurance. Either that or I'll get hit by a car. Speaking of which, my mother insists I get a helmet for when I ride so does anyone have any idea of what kind of helmet I should get? I want something round, like a mountain bike helmet...not so into the road bike helmets. Maybe I'll just get a time trial helmet and look shweet.

link of the entry:

Oh, and doesn't this look like fun? (That's me in the gray hoodie)

Sunday, March 1, 2009


Oh my. Where do I even begin? This weekend has left me almost speechless. I suppose I'll to a little background and get into the pictures.

This weekend was the NAHBS (North American Handmade Bike Show). People from all over the country (and world) came to Indianapolis' convention center to show off their handmade bikes, frames, apparel, etc. So of course, a lot of friends were in town and I met too many people to even begin to name.

So I'll start at the beginning and do my best to briefly explain.

That's Joe. He owns Joe's Bicycles in Fountain Square. And that's the back of his shop.

Shawn decided to ride his clown bike to critical mass, which was awesome. Critical Mass is where people who live around Indianapolis that ride bikes meet downtown and ride around to show people that we're here and we have as much right to the roads as they do.

That's about a quarter of the people who went to critical mass...if that. There were 100+ people there.

This is Gold Sprints. Those bikes are hooked up to rollers and the rollers have gauges on them that measure how many rotations the roller has made. So the riders raced to see who got to a certain number of rotations first. It was a long night of madness.

This is the group of people crammed into the room to watch Gold Sprints. The screen on the wall showed who was in the lead during the whole race, so you knew what the race was like.

Then finally I met up with the kids (16 of them) from Nashville that came into town. Pictured is Jimmy...he's awesome.

All of the Nashville kids and I stayed the night at Bryan's house. It was amazing. But that many guys and that many bikes make for cramped quarters. Luckily I staked my spot out early in Bryan's room.

Bryan decided to DJ until 5 a.m...amazing.

The next morning we rode (across the street...long ride ha) to Acapulco Joe's for food and coffee.

Nate, Bryan, and Tyler. Bryan is a good friend and lives here in Indianapolis. The other two were from Nashville. This was taken on the way to Joe's while we stopped at a convenience store.

These were all the bikes already locked up in the convention center downtown! All of the spots were taken so we all had to just lock up outside! Holy cow!

They had some AMAZING handmade bikes there...but these were my favorite.

This was only about a quarter of the people that showed up for the MACAFRAMA premiere. Macaframa is of sorts about cyclists in San Francisco. If you're interested search youtube for macaframa.

After Macaframa we headed to PanAm plaza to trick around before heading to Front Page to party with DJ Metrognome.

And there's me and Dano at Front Page.

And that was my weekend! I may tell more about it later...but I need to leave (no internet at home).

Keep checking back!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

It's More Than A Bike

Recently I purchased a bicycle. Little did I know that my car would break down only a few days later, leaving my to ride my bike everywhere. I couldn't have asked for a better present. In the past 3 weeks of not having a vehicle I've learned to be much more independent. 

I wake up every morning at 6:45, put on my thermal underwear and layers of gloves and such, and make my way to the bus stop. At 7:20 I make it to the bus stop and take the half hour bus ride to downtown Indianapolis, where I get off and ride my bike to IUPUI's campus for class. Then after class most days I head to work across downtown. After work I ride to the bus, take it back to Greenwood, then sprint the 4 miles to my house on my bike.

Sounds kind of gruesome, but really, it isn't. I'm in really good shape and I feel better all the time. My energy has gone through the roof, and my group of friends that rides bikes is getting closer and more important to me.

As I write this I'm in a one-bedroom apartment with 20 of my friends that drove up from Nashville, TN for this weekend's bike show and festivities downtown. I'll post pictures of this weekend when I have real time to post.

For now, here's a picture of me and my bike, lovingly named "Moto Moto" (because it's a Motobecane and also because of Will I. Am's character in Madagascar 2).

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

What's in a name?

The versatile DLN
(Multifaceted, sensitive, mentally quick, procrastinating, restless, indiscreet)


When the dominant, durable, dignified letter D teams up with the letter of love, life, liberty, libido, lyrical and learning, the resulting combination generates the benign and devoted tones found in the words: delightment, delirious, delicate, docile, idol, fondle, and kindly. But in as much as the letter N is associated with all things negative (no, never not, nix, nada, naught), these names also imply an individual beset by bouts of pessimism and self-doubt. Consequently, while DLNs might make great engineers, teachers and doctors, they're really better suited as artists, writers and political and environmental activists.

DLNs feel a great sense of responsibility for their fellow huyman beings, and whether or not they choose religion as their spiritual compass, they live by a strict personal code that puts compassion and empathy over vengence and retribution. This belief system comes from a thinking mind and not from any bleeding heart, and you can depend on a DLN to put friendships over money every time. 

And yet there's a bit of a dark streak to these people, for DLNs have an unusual fascination for strangeness, mystery, and even violent behavior. Not that they would participate in this world mind you; they're simply responding to some deep voyeuristic urge. So if you're dating a DLN, you might want to choose the movies you rent lest you be subjected to every Friday the 13th movie ever made. On the bright side, many DLNs channel their dark sides into their creative endeavors as artists and writers.

DLN's native caution is especially evident in their intimate relationships, where it's rare for them to enter into serious relationships until they've matured. But DLNs have plenty to occupy their time, for as students of life, they're always reading, traveling or watching the History Channel's gladiator specials to broaden their horizons. Where family is concerned, DLNs are loyal to a fault. This doesn't mean you'll receive unbridled affection fromt hese sometimes-taciturn people, who tend to be miserly in matters of love and dole out affection as if it were in limited supply, but you will be able to count on them to stand up for you, even if they know you're in the wrong.

In relationships, DLNs make for steady and charming mates, willing to endure routine (like putting the kids to bed) in order to get the fun stuff (like putting their partners to bed). But as relaxed and carefree as DLN mates can be, they tend to flip into single-minded stress mode when things aren't going well financially. Children seem to mitigate these tensions in their lives, and DLNs are superbly equipped to raise them with understanding and intelligent discretion.