One score and seventeen years ago, I burst upon the world in Carthage, Mo. After nearly a decade of over-achievement, I was loaded onto a plane and the first leg of a long and complicated journey began.
1987-88: Costa Rica. Language school for parents, regular school for me. This was not my best year – earthquakes (ask me why I hate the song “God Is So Good”), life-threatening allergies (to green mangoes, of all things), the saddening discovery that sports are not for me (at least not participatorily speaking), and a basic inability to communicate with the people around me. This is the year I learned that by U.S. standards, I was not cool. Now, I consider it a strength, but then…NOT COOL! I think this is where my lifelong obsession with food began – of all the things I experienced in Costa Rica, the food still receives a standing ovation in my head…
1988-91: Argentina. Córdoba. Two sets of schools, public (an exceptional experience) and the Calvert home-school program (don’t get me started), simultaneously. Learned that I can’t fight (at least not physically) but I DO have a temper. Float like a butterfly, RUN like a banshee fool. Oh, yes – and don’t kneel on an Atari. Turns out they’re quite sharp…
1991-92: Grand Prairie, Tx. 8th grade. Orchestra. Still not cool. Three words: Acrylic Jogging Suit. Judging by my yearbook, that’s all I wore, all year long.
1992-96: Argentina. Misiones. Home-school high school. By Argentine standards, very cool. But, then, so was everybody else. Best friend Mauro; first girlfriend Cristina. I discover I’m a bad seed, at least insofar as sticking to a curfew is concerned. Pop culture captures my attention and holds it. I become a child of the 80s in the 90s, thanks to the transmission lag between North and South. Duran Duran still popular in 1995…
1996-2004: Butler/Springfield/St. Louis, Mo. Theater performance and tech student at Southwest Missouri State University, 1997-99. Can’t act; can (could) design. Learned to hang from catwalks in the middle of live shows, hoping not to tumble into the audience (different kind of show, that). One season (1999) working as a stagehand for Stages-St. Louis (favorite job ever). Famous player-piano fire starter. Graduated from Southwest Baptist University (2003) with a BA in Christian Ministries. Three years as youth minister at First Baptist Church, Drexel, Mo. Rude awakenings. Married Tammy Herrell in 2002.
2004-Present: Waco, Tx. Year and a half as an aide with the McLennan County Challenge Academy (think public school meets Caged Heat). Five years as pastor of SonRise Baptist in Robinson, Tx. MA in Church-State Studies from Baylor University, 2009. Since then, Special Collections cataloger in the Baylor library system. Bought first house in November 2009. Wished I hadn’t bought first house in August 2010. Believe I’ll rent from here on out. But I’m a whiz with caulk (which is the duct tape of my home repair philosophy).
What’s changed? As for the background in church work, I’ve pretty much left that behind. Call it a philosophical altercation with myself. I am sure that there is a bigger picture out there to be found – I’m just not sure anymore who or what it is/looks like.
My first (hopefully) book was published in March 2013: Around Butler, a photographic history of my home county and town in Missouri. I neither have nor plan on having children, but as experiences go, that was pretty close…
Favorite author: Charles Dickens
Favorite book: Lord of the Rings trilogy
Favorite band: U2
Favorite movie: What About Bob?
Movie I say is my favorite when asked: Dances with Wolves
Favorite TV show: The West Wing
Political views: Left-leaning moderate (although my family will tell you I’m a “crazy-eyed liberal”)
Religious persuasion: Human being.