“My NaNoDrawMo has been a fun failure. I only made it three fifths of the way to 50. I shall carry on my little autobiography project to completion. However, I’m going to have to take a little break for some Christmas work. Before I do, there’s just one more thing…”—
Okay, now that I’ve had a few minutes to be angry and sad, it’s time for this: I got £50 for my birthday. Judging by the fact that the biggest problem I had today was a blown speaker in my iPhone headphones, I think the money could be better used somewhere that isn’t buying stuff for me.
The question is: where?
I could send it to that hospital in Afghanistan. I could send it to my cousins who have children’s homes in the Philippines and are heavily involved in helping with the typhoon recovery. I could give it to the foodbank that my friends started this autumn. Or I could give it to a thousand other very worthy projects.
Instead — and this might be pure selfishness — I would rather invest it in something local, something that can grow from £50 into something that lasts, something that I can do with my family so my kids see a different way of living, something that leads to a genuine lifestyle of connecting meaningfully with and serving the people around me, especially people that society says I shouldn’t be connecting with.
I guess what I’m saying is that I want to spend £50 on becoming a better person by creating something useful and rule-breaking and full of life.
Geez, that looks like it’s been written by a big faffy prat, but I am writing it down because tomorrow I will most likely be trying to think of funny tweets, and I will need a reminder.
I don’t know what that is yet. Do any of you have ideas?
I took a few minutes to catch up on my RSS feeds. The first one was was about a guy’s visit to help out in a hospital in Afghanistan that gives free medical care to helpless women and children. That meant that I had to read the second one about the branding of a Tiffany & Co. sponsored outdoor ice rink through eyes full of tears.
It’s a weird world. It’s a really f***ed up world.
I like this illustration, but it doesn’t really capture my experience of growing up in church. My feet aren’t anywhere near that big. And I had freckles.
Yes, church is restrictive, but so is anything that people take seriously. And in the Gill family, we took it seriously. The church I grew up in was one of the churches that my parents helped start in 1970. My dad became the pastor when I was quite young. I was a pastor’s kid, but I never managed the angsty hate. I was having too much fun. For me it was less like a box and more like a really great neighbourhood. My best friends were there. All the grown-ups looked out for all the kids.
I have four younger sisters — five, seven, thirteen and twenty-one years younger than me. If you are going to have four sisters, make sure they all younger. They will still have a tremendous effect on you. They will still probably all grow up to be superb and make you feel distinctly average (but in a way that makes you proud too), but they won’t be able to curl your hair and put you in a dress and make-up whenever the fancy strikes them. The two older ones did it to me once. My mother helped. I cooperated. My father probably went somewhere and wept.
Those of you who know anything about me, may be thinking: this explains a lot.
At age seven, despite all my protests, I joined a team in the American Youth Soccer Organization. Soccer was the future, and it didn’t matter that the kids didn’t know how to play and neither did the coaches; the youth of America were catching up with the rest of the world and embracing the Beautiful Game. Also, it would help me be less shy.
I played for six years and loved it. The best I ever achieved was the low end of good. When I was 11 that was enough to get me on the All Star team and into the OPI (Old Pueblo Invitational or, as one of my teammates called it, Optical Penis Incorporated) tournament.
My kind and generous parents offered to host two members of a team from California. The night before the tournament, as I lay in my bed, trying with all my might to appear asleep lest I was discovered to have heard, the two teenage boys we were hosting gave me an intense and vivid education on the propensity of teenage boys to tell lies about their sexual conquests. In the morning I rose with an exhausted body and an invigourated vocabulary.
Today I still love soccer. Even though I’m not a true supporter, standing in Old Trafford listening to 60,000 drunk and sweaty fans singing profanities at the visiting team and watching 22 rich boy-men do amazing things with a ball gives me a thrill like nothing else.
Step 3: be abandoned to fend for yourself among the hippies
I was a horribly shy child. I was afraid of all the bad things that anyone I didn’t know would do to me — kill me, probably. When I was five-ish my parents decided to save me from this fear by forcing me outside Alone to play in our front yard for every day for 30 minutes, even though our neighbour was a Homicidal Maniac disguised as a friendly hippy with an afro. It was obvious to me that anyone with hair like that was Not Good and most likely had an implement of violence for use on vulnerable children hidden about his person.
Somehow I survived.
Thanks to my parents — even though I still think people are probably going to kill me — I can play in my front garden without panicking, and I actually enjoy meeting new people when I force myself to do it.
Step 2: grow up somewhere full of diversity and passion
Tucson, Arizona is diverse and passionate. The thing Tucson is passionate about is apathy. The city grew up as a stopover for people on their way to California during the gold rush. That pretty much explained the feel of the city while I was growing up. Don’t like something? Don’t get too bothered. It will leave in a while.
An example: Billy Graham filled stadiums all over the world. When some people in Tucson wanted an evangelistic crusade, they got one of Billy Graham’s second string evangelists and the convention center ended up about half full. Pick any type of event. That’s the way we do it in Tucson. You can’t impress us. We are very passionate about our apathy.
The picture is a white guy doing a Mexican siesta thing badly. It’s symbolic of diversity and apathy and stuff. I couldn’t really be bothered to work it all out.
Step 1: get a couple radical Jesus People for parents
In 1970 my future, pre-married parents and a bunch of other people in their late teens and early twenties piled into a clapped out school bus with no seats — they had cushions and rugs and love — and set off to change the world — sort of a magical mystery tour for God. They started a bunch of churches across the Southwestern United States. I grew up hearing stories about their trip, how one time when they ran out of money they washed the peanut butter off the paper plates and hung them up to dry for the next meal, how my dad dropped a tiny and essential carburettor screw in gravel then prayed then looked down and saw the screw through a hole in the bumper.
My parents never taught me much about how to live safely.
In between saving the world and hoping half my family doesn’t die of swine flu I’ve been squeezing in lots of jealousy towards the people doing NaNoWriMo. I’ve got no story, not a 50,000 word one. The best I do is make up a new Muriel the Cow story for my six year-old daughter once or twice a month.
But today — joy of all joys, singing angel choirs, etc. — I stumbled across NaNoDrawMo. Hooray! I’m so in. I even have a theme. My theme is:
How To Become A Home-Schooled Religious Wingnut In Fifty (50) Easy Steps
It’s going to be kind of autobiographical — Wait! Don’t unfollow yet — I hope to make up for it by doing interesting drawings. Here are a few other things you can expect, probably.
I will be honest
It could get awkward (see theme above)
I won’t be proselytising, so if you are hoping for a chance to pray The Prayer at drawing 49, you will be disappointed
I will actually finish in December (of some year)
My pictures are not worth anywhere near a thousand words, so I will throw in some words to top up
I will avoid jargon. Unfortunately, this is not your big chance to see me getting Sanctified or Washed In The Blood