Monday, December 27, 2010

Traveling South. The Culture of Tradition

As I recall, in my younger years birthdays were a big deal. They usually had some type of theme based on whatever cartoon I was obsessed with at the time and a cake decorated with anthropomorphic reptiles or masked heroes. Looking back I still get a strong sense that my family tried very hard to make those days totally about me. Most parents don't wake up on their kids birthday and think, "I can't wait to have 15 screaming second graders in my house sticking tacks in my wall on through a cardboard donkey!" Nope, as a kid birthdays were all about me; the things I liked, the presents I wanted, the people I wanted around me.

Ironic that in the over indulgence of celebrating myself I would find my frustration with commercialized retail spectacle this generation has come to know as Christmas. Disenfranchised by the subjugating nature of holiday tradition I felt like it was time to hit the reset button and re-calibrate the ideology I associate with Christmas. Be it selfishness or an inward fear of being disingenuous I felt a deviation from the norm was necessary.

PART 1 - The Road Trip Begins
I got a call from my friend Mark about a week before Christmas, "Hey man, I'm in Memphis you wanna hang out?" It's about a three hour drive from my house to Memphis and I really did want to go however, I had just thrown out my back a few days before and was right in the middle of a series of chiropractic and message therapy treatments. I also had a few meetings I really couldn't get out of. I declined his invitation regretfully. The next day I received a call from a close friend of mine who lives in Dallas. She informed me that she would be meeting Mark in Louisiana later in the week. This timing was much better, the only problem was getting to Texas. As it happens my roommate was leaving the next day for Mt. Pleasant which just a couple hours east of Dallas. I worked out the rest of the details as best I could, packed a bag and headed west.

PART 2 - Natchitoches
Mark asked Lore and I to meet him in Natchitoches La. A small town a few hours North of New Orleans. Initially we were under the impression that Natchitoches was just a town chosen with utilitarian motives as a central meeting point. A good part of the day was simply spent attempting to figure out how to say Natchitoches, each of the locals had their own interpretation it seemed. It's a place known for many things including meat pies, racism, the set location for Steel Magnolias and an it's "World Famous Festival of Lights". Which as it turns out was the reason for our trip there. Mark is a photo journalist and works for a number of major publications in New York. He was working on a story there. The light show was a mix of religious iconography, Santa centric imagery and athletic axioms like "Who Dat!" and "Go Saints". And I that's what the Holidays are about right? Raindeer landing on the roof of the manger where baby Jesus is met by the three line men. "Who dat kid be in that krib? Who Dat? Who Dat?

PART 3 - Camping
Mark and I parted ways with Lore and headed for the state park. It was a perfect evening for camping. At least it was for mark. With his sleeping bag and bed mat and optional tent in case of a early morning rain. I had not really planned on camping and thus my plush pillow and down blanket were supplemented by a small tarp and extra cover that happened to be in the car. We built a fire. I played some music for a bit trying to finish a song I had been working on. Mark and I caught up and drank beer. Remember those back problems I'd been having? I admit sleeping on the ground wasn't the greatest exertion of wisdom I'd had of late but it worked as well as it could. We woke up early covered in due like a lawn in spring, packed up, and headed for New Orleans.

To be continued....
Photos Courtesy of Mark

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Hello Dig

Check out the TRAILER for our smoking aces EP

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Finishing Strong. A great season comes to a close.

Thirteen months ago, I sat at a coffee shop with a lady who had better options.
Options of stability, timelyness, comfort and so on. And, as was expected though our
interaction was pleasant she chose the more practical solution.

God had a different plan in mind. The woman was Becky Hicks and ten days later
Becky called me and said, "J. I know this will sound crazy, but I didn't feel comfortable with
that family living in my house, I really feel like your supposed to be the one who lives there."

And so in July of last year I moved in to 222 5th Ave. S. I told Becky I had heart to love people
and help out those in need. She told me she loved the idea of her grandmother's house being
used in that way. She has been gracious every step of the way. Flexible with payments, time,
and always stuck to her guns that she felt I was supposed to be there.

Thanks largely to her heart for me, 222 housed numerous missionaries, pastors, bands, homeless,
broken, depressed, hungry, and amazing people. It wasn't always perfect, we didn't always all live in
complete harmony and unison; but overall it was an amazing season.

In late july we got word that through a chain of events the city did some investigation into our ministry.
They infomed us that what we were doing was breaking a city ordinance and we weren't zoned properly.
We were given until the end of the month of August to clear the house and cease operations.

And so this chapter has quickly come to a close. It was good. It was right. And now I want to finish strong.
There are some expenses that have built up over the last 13 months that I have been paying off bit by bit.
Including, some final utility expenses, and some rent payments from early on, with some of our early guests
took advantage of the situation in a negative way.

I would really like to bless Becky for taking a chance on me, and this ministry. I would like to show her that
it's worth it to trust people, and believe in them. The total ammount remaining in my debt to her is $966.
If there is any way you could come along side me in this last push to finish strong, I would greatly appreciate it.
Anything over the remaining balance will go as a gift for her. Becky's had to pay for a lot of damage that came after
the flooding we had in nashville, and she spent a month out of work earlier in the year with an injury.

Any donations can be made out to conduit mission
and mailed to:
J. Morris C/O John Ross
524 OverView Lane
Franklin TN, 37064

Thank you all for being with me this year.
Your love has gone farther than you can imagine.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

I got stuff. You got stuff. Now What?

It used to be the only thing I worried about when attending a wedding was if my mom ironed my shirt and if my game boy had fresh batteries. I didn't have much vested interest in the actual marriage. They were my parents friends or my aunts and as long as I got some pigs in a blanket and a few cups of punch I considered the whole thing a great success.

Twenty years later I'm not sure my success standards are much higher. I'd prefer chicken marsalla to mini hot dogs and a glass of wine to punch. That being said, my connection to those getting married has increased substantialy. Now they're my friends, people I've shared life with in some form or another.

Even more odd is when these married couples come and ask my advice on something. Everything is so clear when your single. Or it seems to be. I have often thought things like, "why can't they see how they speak to eachother?" and "dude your not listening to her!" I nievly wonder how it could be so hard for married couples to just talk through things and come to logical reasonable solutions.

The truth is I know better. I've read a dozen or so books that tell me things like, mens ears are blue, and womens brains are like spaghetti, and they're both from different planets. Logical solutions don't really work though, not usually. We like the idea of a formula but when the equation is altered by sex, emotion, baggage, and hormones it gets pretty difficult to "solve" anything.

I was talking to an older married couple once about their "sucess" and how they achieved it. The man told me ,"you want to have a good marriage, get the first two out of the way." We laughed for a minute and then he leaned foward in his worn recliner and said, "If you always put the other person first you can't lose".

This sentiment has stuck with me for most of my adult life. I wonder if maybe it could be that simple. This idea of selflessness, or atleast an attempt to go in that direction. Two people putting eachother first, one day at a time. Because we all have baggage right? I got stuff. You got stuff. Now What?