An Open Letter To Female Lady-Fellas

Following suit of fellow (far more successful) blogger Ally Spotts (VERY worth reading), I am writing this as an open letter to women from a man's perspective. Have no fear, you cuddly, adorably uptight equal opportunity extremists, I'll write my piece to men too. This has simply been on my mind for a while and recent events have simply pushed them into the realm of "need to be developed." Sitting for 2 and half hours fighting madness in Cultural Anthropology doesn't hurt the desperation for something to ponder. These are simply the words of an admittedly somewhat jaded boy who is tired of what he sees on both sides of the spectrum. So without further ado, you may read my first of two letters here: Dear Ladies, I am going to speak purposefully in a rather extreme, generalizing way about the issues on my mind with a specific rhetorical stance meant only to enforce my points and encourage thought. I will be writing in mass with the inescapable knowledge that I have close female friends who represent everything that is right not just with women but with people in general. I am extraordinarily aware of and embrace the fact that just about every rule has exceptions. The generalizations I am about to say are surely among those things with exceptions.

1. Never let someone tell you that you can't do something just because you're a girl. Not where you thought I would start is it? Of course not. You ladies are the crowning achievement in God's creation. He stopped with you because it simply couldn't get better. You got the beauty. You got the parts to complete your male counterparts. You were not created as subordinate or as superior, but from Adam's rib: his side. Under his arm, like two classmates posing for a picture on the playground. Totally different but completely equally favored. This being said, listen up. I told you there's nothing you can't do, and I completely back that, as long as you understand what I mean by nothing. There are logical limits to that kind of a statement. You can't fly. You can't survive without water. There needs to be a line drawn between can't and shouldn't. I have a lot of readers of this blog who do not subscribe to the same system of beliefs as I do, and so you will find fault with this next part: the Bible (my basis for how we should live) lays out groundwork for the specific things men and women should do. God sets it in motion in Genesis with the differing punishments given to men and women. Paul speaks of them in his letters to Timothy. This is not a post about what your roles are, nor is it a commentary about how fair or unfair I think they are, but it is rather an exhortation to women who are of like mind that there are Scriptural examples of the expectations God has for you. In no way is God limiting the things you CAN do, He simply says, like He says to every person alive "lay down what you think of yourself and instead do what I would have you do."

2. No matter the reason you do this (which I may never understand), leggings are never an acceptable alternative for pants. I don't know the names of all your short little skirt things or those shirts that attempt to shove in our faces the degree to which the fat content of your chests is disproportionate to that of your male counterparts, but I'll let you in on the deep, inner-workings of the male brain: we notice. The more willing you are to show it, the more willing boys are to be slapped for looking at it. The more willing you are to show it, the easier boys think it is to get you out of it. The more you show us, the less we think you are capable of intellectually. Yes, it is vulgar. Yes, it is unfair. Yes, I hate that it is true, and no, I am not exaggerating. I think that if women knew what flit through mens' brains based solely on what you are wearing (NOT on body size or type or preconceived notions or heresay), this country would be dressed differently. You might clean out your closets. If you hold it in front of a hungry animal, you cannot get mad at it for eating. Sure, men are pigs, but you do not have to be the slop they consume.

3. (this is the longest and last point in this letter)Please, for the love of all that is holy, acquire your validation from some source that is not a man. *I speak more about the concept of Identity here, if you want to read* Men are horrid, superficial, two-faced creatures who, if you look for acceptance from them, will give it to you for the right price. I am sick of reading blog posts and articles and bad poetry about how to find the right man for you, because it insinuates a one-track mind. It focuses attention, calls importance to, deems necessary, the almighty relationship. Not like, friendship relationship, you know, the boyfriend/girlfriend, hold hands down the street, whisper sweet nothings and make it official on Facebook and Twitter and Myspace relationship.

We, as a society, are obsessed with it. It sells so well! Even in the most manly of movies, the perfect girl ends up with the rugged hero (I'm sure I'll talk about this sometime later) because that is what is expected of us. What are every one of Taylor Swift's songs about? Why do women worship Nicholas Sparks and Rom-Coms and write to Abby about relationship problems and drown their faces in makeup and assume that innocuous, amicable friendships should become "more" just because somebody is "cute together"? (Not that it is just women who are responsible for these things, but it is generally associated with you. Remember I am speaking in generalities) Because in many ways, we live in a society that assures us that unless we are in a relationship, we aren't doing something right.

Today in the UC I was eating my lunch in peace at a table in the corner and I was listening to a girl giving Biblical advice to another girl. It was wonderful and refreshing to hear Scripture spoken boldly and eloquently, but they soon got on the topic of this boy. She began giving the advice I've heard a thousand times: pray that you can be made into the woman for the right man and pray for that man that he may do the same. As if we expect God to drop a man/woman into our lives because that's what we want. Why are we not praying more that we become who God wants us to be, with single/married not even an issue? We should ask to be conformed to the image of God not to be partnered with somebody else who wants the same, but because we want to be conformed to the image of God. It's that simple. It is a disease even within the church, this addiction to relationships.

I have read articles about cheating and sex outside of marriage and love and entries from Christian blogs about how to find the perfect Christian guy all with the expectation of finding a guy. Ladies, please hear me out: I am not at all slamming Godly relationships - I am merely asking that it not be the priority of your life. It is a sad thing when, even within the church, we stress more about our relationships with boys than we do with our relationships with the Creator of the boys.

This letter is very long and rambley. To be honest, it was very hard to write, because men and women are such fascinating and complex creatures that have such enormous potential that it was hard to synthesize my thoughts about the way they should interact. Here is what my notebook looked like before even editing:

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And it went onto the back too.

I just HAD to capture how much you rock, how much potential you have, how much you are treasured, and how specially you fit into God's vision. But I also wanted to highlight some areas that can use improving (and have no fear, the boys are next, because we are far worse off). It is not an extensive list (I figured 1500 words was plenty). I am more than open to discussion, further exploration, etc.

I just wanted to make sure that the jewels of creation realized it, took it to heart, and found it within themselves to pursue a relationship with their Creator before anything else, because He is jealous for your hearts more than a boy ever could be.

Mountains of Love, Hamilton

Hamilton Barber

The subject of this page is an introverted writer/musician/lunatic from Chattanooga, TN who dabbles in lexical dexterity, unorthodox thoughts on prosperity, and being overwhelmingly undeserving of the privilege of waking up every day. He hopes that everybody who reads these words takes them to heart and leaps higher than he ever could. He reads, thinks, and speaks too much; he listens, works, and loves too little; and he says “I” entirely too often. The words on these pages are not his: they are the words that were given to him.

BioShock and Harry Potter in the Same Breath

Since apparently I've been on this "how is it you can't see what I see" kick, we'll keep going with it. It is disgusting how much of a sucker I am for good writing. When I read or see or hear something that just drips with lexical fluidity or a fresh voice or an appropriately complex story made to sound as simple as a front-porch fish tale, there's a small nerve inside my heart that gets caressed and rubbed back to life. People are unknowingly drawn to these sources of deep emotional warmth without realizing why, and can easily pick "good" writing out from "bad" simply because something makes it stand out from the abyss of modern culture.

There's a touch of something Real to it.

Obligatory Header Number One: Contrasting Examples In my line of thinking, good writing (and good guitar tone... but that's a different story altogether haha) reflects God, whether it means to or not. I drafted something like twenty sentences before settling on that one, because I figured there had to be a more eloquent way to put it... but I don't know that there is, and I think that the point of this post is to explain why.

I recently read the entire Harry Potter series over the course of like two months, and it only took me that long because I had a thousand other things that I should have been doing. Also because I drug out the last few chapters simply because I didn't want it to end (a technique I learned from my Grandmother). Because I'm a man, I don't cry at stupid things like dumb books </burly voice> but if I did, it wouldn't be because of any particular character that JK Rowling crafted or any exotic location she dreamed up, it would be because of the grace she employed in using "ordinary" circumstances to tackle heavy subject matter. It was the ease with which she dipped you into her imagination and the clarity that drenched her language. It was the fact that I disliked Harry's character, which I think was deliberate on her part, but found myself still rooting for his cause and touched by the loyalty of his friends despite their disapproval of his methods because they rooted for the same cause. It was the way that she had the entire series planned before publishing the first book.

It was the way that she demonstrated excellence at her craft.

For the complete opposite side of the coin and the source I will use as my second example, I recently played through, for the first time, the game BioShock. I started it out of curiosity because I had read a review online and I could get it straight from the Mac App store. What I found was a terrifying vision of a very possible future completely consumed with image-making, genetic alteration, and obsession with physical perfection. Where aesthetic is god. And this story captivated me.

Because my readers are less likely to be familiar with this than with Harry Potter, I'll side-chain briefly to give you the lowdown on what this game is about and why it is interesting. Hang on, because it gets kind of sci-fi. Years and years ago, Andrew Ryan, the embodiment of Ayn Rand's idealistic philosophy called Objectivism, built a city at the bottom of the sea where creation and self-perfection could be uninhibited by moral and social boundaries. He harvested stem cells from sea slugs that could be used to genetically modify specific parts of whoever ingested them. People gained the ability to produce electricity, fire, ice, etc. from their hands. They developed telekinesis. They thickened their skin, sped up their legs, strengthened their minds. But, like the businessman that he was, Ryan, completely controlled the supply of these gene "drugs". The rich could afford them and the poor became junkies for the stuff and like that a class war was waged. The city fell to the overwhelming amount of people fiening for more, called "splicers", and, in the alternate, dystopian, steampunked history of 1960, the story of BioShock begins.

Unbeknownst to the majority of those who play it, it is a story drenched in the terror of a Godless society. The imagery is abundant: the genetic modifiers are called Adam. The tonic you need to use more of the Adam is Eve. The city is appropriately called Rapture, and the welcome banner to the fallen Rapture reads: "No gods or kings, only men". The consequences are clear and the horror is palatable.

How Gamers and Nerds Got it (Partially) Right

Both of these stories, completely opposite of each other, can be used to illustrate what I'm talking about. I think about the intricacies of these creations, neither of which was written by people who claim to know the same Savior that I do, and, without meaning to, they both demonstrate qualities reminiscent of my God. Rowling and Ken Levine accomplished something most Christians pathetically overlook - excellence and intricacy. By pouring themselves into their creations, the final results were beautiful. By laboring over minute details which are simply packed into the Potter series, Rowling accomplished a masterpiece. By telling "simple" stories soaked to their roots with passion, they related the mundane to the supernatural. The story of persisting for good in the face of unspeakable (literally... they couldn't say his name) evil and the futility of playing God were told with fresh voices and beauty.

I am not going to turn this into another criticism of "God-culture" because 1) with the exception of a few areas, the content being produced has improved dramatically and 2) we are not here to create culture. What I am going to do is claim "popular culture" as yet another place we can see shadows of the face of God.

Go to the art museum downtown and get lost inside the level of achievement by the most diverse collection of men and women possible and tell me that you aren't overwhelmed with the presence of the Creator who gave those artists their brushes. Read Keats' Great Odes and simply try not to realize that when he is talking about the Spirit of Poetry (or the Nightingale or The Grecian Urn -- "Beauty is Truth"), he's getting at the very nature of God, and then feel sad that he never realized it himself. Surround yourself with city hippies and bands who just love playing music and tell me that the constant amid all of the chaos isn't the Source of music itself.

What I am going to do is claim that you don't have to be in a "Christian" environment to praise Christ. What I am saying is quit trying so hard to act like a Christian and instead act like someone grateful for an infinite gift they have been given.

While there is one very specific, narrow way to actually get to God, what I am saying is that today's age of agnosticism is unfounded, needlessly stubborn, and perpetuated by the blind. Unfortunately, I think that the same thing can be said about today's obsession with mediocrity.

New Beginnings, In A Sense

As one whose name is writ in water, I thank you for the time you give to reading these thoughts: the somewhat monotone ramblings of a kid working his way through the exact same stuff you are. It is not the writer that makes a point hit home, but rather the reader and his ability to comprehend, interpret, and apply it to himself. "In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty." Although a blog (and particularly MY blog) is by no means a work of genius, what Mr. Emerson has to say about it is valid in every situation, and is not just limited to what he calls "genius". Just because you didn't write something doesn't mean you were incapable of doing so. There is nothing somebody can tell you that you haven't, in some fashion, thought about before. By reading, you validate the writer, making YOU the important party. I am here solely because I love words and I love using them to figure things out. Without you, I speak to a void. Let's do this together.

I know I have a slight propensity to wax philosophical, become preachy, wordy, unintelligible, or meander you through the river of my mind as though you cared, but it's all in love. If you have questions, I'd like you to ask. If you're struggling through something, odds are I am too and I'd love to exchange thoughts on the matter. I don't have answers to everything, nor will I find them, but at the very least we can learn something along the way.

In other words, I'll keep doing my thing and you keep doing yours - because it's my job to write a dumb blog on the internet and it's your job to change the world.

Hamilton Barber

The subject of this page is an introverted writer/musician/lunatic from Chattanooga, TN who dabbles in lexical dexterity, unorthodox thoughts on prosperity, and being overwhelmingly undeserving of the privilege of waking up every day. He hopes that everybody who reads these words takes them to heart and leaps higher than he ever could. He reads, thinks, and speaks too much; he listens, works, and loves too little; and he says “I” entirely too often. The words on these pages are not his: they are the words that were given to him.

>My Goodness, What a While it Has Been

>I don't know why I feel so snarky this morning.

I have been, like the majority of America, consumed by the season (though perhaps in different ways). This is the only explanation I shall offer for the unfortunately long time between posts.

Although I am now falling into a twist of the cliche, I took, for a few days, great pride in being perhaps the only blogger in the expanse of the bloggerverse who has yet to mention "Christmas" (although there I mentioned it... forgive me) or to offer my opinion on the true nature of the season or to say that it is about the birth of our Savior and not the birth of the spirit of capitalism or to deliver moving recreations of Christmas classics or to say how awesome "A Christmas Story" is.

I didn't even watch "A Christmas Story" this year.

Besides wanting to remind people (myself, mostly) that I am still here and demonstrating classic inevitable narcissistic web logger syndrome, I wanted to squeeze a few words in about this "New Year" notion, because that seems to be all the rage nowadays. I've gotta keep up with you silly kids.

First, I want to say that I think that it is silly to try to reinvent yourself one time a year, because that never works. Don't say that come January 1 you will lose that 50 pounds you need to or that you will start being nicer to your mother-in-law or that you will finally get around to asking that girl out simply because it is a new year. One-time-resolutions will never work, because once you come down from the high of the very rhetorically interesting "rebirth" that accompanies having to write "2011" instead of "2010" the goals you set seem either unreachable or silly or you'll get to them tomorrow.

Next, in very sharp contradiction to what I just said, I wanted to offer, briefly, some things that I would like to focus on (although clearly in no way are they related to the new year, any sort of Resolution, or anything of the sort). Perhaps you would like to focus on them with me. Perhaps you'll send people over here to laugh at my list or maybe you'll write me and say that it's a great one. You might even get what Andrew calls the "tinglies" which replace the solitary man-tear following something inspirational.

1. Read a book by an author you have ragged on extensively, passionately, vehemently, in the year prior, even if it was just for a second. I just read the first Harry Potter book and I will be the first person in the room to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed it and plan on reading the rest. I also offer appy-polly-loggies to any Potterheads I have offended before. I was in the wrong.

2. Learn a new word every day. Discover that the English language is not as limited as people like to say, rather people have forgotten how to use it. Subscribe to one of the many word a day email lists or ask somebody smarter than you to text you a new word each morning or buy a dictionary, I don't care. Learn a word each morning, how to spell it, what it means, use it three times by the time the sun sets, and the word is yours. You will be amazed at how more fluently you will be able to voice your thoughts.

My favorite word I have learned in the past day (you may start here and steal it from me if you so desire):  dysania - the state of finding it hard to get out of bed in the morning. (see? It's fun!)

3. Buy a moleskine notebook from Barnes and Noble. Make sure that it doesn't have lines, because this will do several things: offer you a completely blank slate to record whatever you want. It will teach you to write in straight lines. You can draw just as easily as you can write, even if you are like me and you cannot draw at all.

Anything that can be expressed with ink needs to be inside of this notebook, and you do not show any of it to a single soul. It is not for other people, it is purely for you in a time when NOTHING is secret.

4. Keep lists. Of everything. If it comes to mind, write it down, because you will forget it later. Keep a list of books you want to read or people you need to write or formulas you need to remember or groceries you need to buy or items of clothing to give away or websites you need to tell your brother about or songs you need to cover at a coffeeshop.

5. Listen to The Rescues. Trust me on this.

6. Take pictures of anything you see. Even if it means buying a bunch of $5 disposable cameras.

7. Keep a journal.

8. Recognize beauty when you see it, and then realize that beauty is everywhere. See it in nature, see it in Creation, see it in writing and in math and in an empty cup of coffee, but most importantly see it in each other.

9. Be curious, even about things of which you are sure. Never stop learning, never stop questioning. You must develop the things that you believe so that they are not shattered when a storm comes around.

10. Be passionate about something - anything. I don't care what it is, just find the thing that you absolutely love and follow it until you perfect it (I'll give you a hint: you never will). Don't back down from the things you love, no matter who tries to rip you away from them. If it's Pokemon, awesome. When somebody calls you a geek, you know that you're on the right track.

Hamilton Barber

The subject of this page is an introverted writer/musician/lunatic from Chattanooga, TN who dabbles in lexical dexterity, unorthodox thoughts on prosperity, and being overwhelmingly undeserving of the privilege of waking up every day. He hopes that everybody who reads these words takes them to heart and leaps higher than he ever could. He reads, thinks, and speaks too much; he listens, works, and loves too little; and he says “I” entirely too often. The words on these pages are not his: they are the words that were given to him.

>I Would Call This "I Guess This Is Growing Up" But You Might Mistake It For Lyrics From A Blink-182 Song.

>So quickly we lose sight of things. It takes no time at all to lose everything you have worked for; it takes no time at all to forget the motivation which burned our hearts with passion what seems like years ago though may be mere minutes, hours, days. Goals turn into dreams, dreams turn into reaches, reaches turn into former flames, the ex-girlfriends of ideas (if you will). Passion falls by the wayside for "getting by."

Appeasing people replaces pleasing people.
Somebody sparking conversation over coffee turns into just something else to blog about.
I watched a video of a man speaking at a conference on how education saps creativity because we have been instilled from the time we could speak with an ingrained sense of hatred for failure, and what he said has begun a similar thought process for me. Learn math or you're a failure. Pass physics or you're a failure. Successfully read and comprehend King Lear by yourself for the final exam or you're a failure. Just about every moment, with the exception of a few breaks here and there, from the time we are 4 to the time we are 22 or 23 is spent chasing a very expensive piece of paper that has BS (read into it what you will) or BA on the top of it and puts us one step closer to getting a job at a desk with an impressive selection of neckties hanging in our closets and a weekly prescription to keep that stress-induced acid reflux at bay. A modern student of English will look at that previous sentence and note that it could be a run on, and not realize that I employ Middle English syntactical devices in my writing when I get on a roll because that's how our language was invented.
We spend all that time and money to become the people we swore as kids we would never become.
Picasso said "All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up." We take the pens out of the hands of kids when the ink on the paper becomes unintelligible and we arrest people drawing social statements in spray paint on abandoned buildings and we allow music to be degraded to literally the most embarrassing quality in the long history of the art and call it popular. Uniformity is not just encouraged but enforced with art school dress codes and religious dogma and this ridiculous necessity to have a pretty house with a nice table and sleek curtains and vacuumed rugs and a place for everything in our ever-expanding freezers. We even have the phrase "social norm." With this compulsion to be "normal," as it is, clearly, the ultimate aim for anybody wishing to fit into the society, we see the "abnormal" as a problem to be solved. A kid in class won't pay attention to the lecture presented to him and instead doodles on his desk, so we prescribe him Concerta rather than find him an art teacher.
I once had this overflow of ideas and words and expression... this music constantly dancing in my head and through my fingers and onto a page or a track or into the void of space, existing simply to exist... but it is dwindling. I now compile lyrics or make chord charts or request checks or pack up my boss's office when I could be locked in a reverberating room with a guitar and a notepad and a Bible to produce original music for an exponentially expanding church. I scroll past the 7 finished tracks out of 13 for a rather innovative concept album on my way to the music I listen to to focus myself to attempt to learn statistics. Meetings take precedent over motion and I find that the day is not long enough to get the things I need to do done, launching myself into an unflinching struggle to stay on top of things (which I have never been good at in the first place)...
All I can think of is how God created everything in its place for a reason. He gave birds a sense of awareness for the physical principals of drag when flying in a flock. He installed echolocation for bats and dolphins, alike. He created humans to think and to be creative and to exist in His image... which is an image of creativity. Look at your life and tell me that you are not squandering it.

Hamilton Barber

The subject of this page is an introverted writer/musician/lunatic from Chattanooga, TN who dabbles in lexical dexterity, unorthodox thoughts on prosperity, and being overwhelmingly undeserving of the privilege of waking up every day. He hopes that everybody who reads these words takes them to heart and leaps higher than he ever could. He reads, thinks, and speaks too much; he listens, works, and loves too little; and he says “I” entirely too often. The words on these pages are not his: they are the words that were given to him.

>Oh, Rants.

>Before anybody decides to read half of this and then become irate, I figured I should offer a warning to the majority of the people who read this thing and tell them that if they disagree with what I'm saying, I am more than happy to talk about it. You might even change my mind! Also, everything I say I include myself in. When I say "we" I truly mean myself as well. These statements can be pretty broad and all-inclusive, but they all stem from conversations I've had with real people in real situations (at real Waffle Houses) who use the term "Christian" with similar, negative, broad connotations.

I am completely fed up with "Christian" culture. About a month ago while working the desk, somebody walked up to me and handed me some sort of Christian periodical "Fish Magazine" or something of the sort. It was late, I had forgotten my laptop charger at the house and I was searching for things to occupy my time as I waited for the buzz indicating the end of a wash cycle on a load of towels, so I started reading it. Now, I believe that addressing the content of something like this is a moot point, because as it is an independently published work, it has the right to talk about literally anything that it wants to. So, even though the things the publishers chose to include didn't even catch my attention (which is slightly troubling, considering my beliefs fit right in with the people they are trying to reach), I cannot judge them because of what they think is important. I can say the same things about other reaches of our little Christian bubble, be it radio or music or movies or Godtube, because I firmly believe that they are doing things which could be really great. They are trying to provide a balance to the despicable deluge of just... crap that infiltrates every reach of society, so that when people get sick of being exposed to those things they have a positive alternative.

I just wish that Christian media WAS a positive alternative. As I skimmed the front page of Fish, I immediately felt like I was peer-editing a rough draft of a paper for a fellow student who was writing in a field that was out of his area of expertise. Sentences were poorly constructed, spelling and grammar trampled on the floor, stories delivered with the lackluster and droning tone of Thomas Gradgrind from Dickens' Hard Times... I don't care what they're writing about, all I want is a little bit of passion behind it. Show some professionalism, please, because I can't help but think that anything that slaps the "God" label on it to hide an appalling lack of quality is an insult.
I understand that many of these facets of Christian media (film, television, video broadcasting websites, music, print) operate on extremely low budgets, and that is something I can completely relate to as a college kid who tries to be a musician living in a duplex in Hixson, TN. However, what I just don't understand is how some of these people can be ok with themselves tossing out sub-par material and slapping God's name on it to garner a fanbase. In fact, I find it rather insulting.

Call me crazy, but I feel like we should be the ones pushing the boundaries in all of these areas of creativity, rather than giving in to the cookie-cutter formulas presented before us by both our contemporaries and the world around us. The world should look at what we're accomplishing and begin to question how in the world we can be so inspired, that there might actually be something to this God that many preach but few follow... because right now we are embarrassing. Our television broadcasts are shot with shoddy equipment and antiquated techniques, our writers use third grade devices and cheap hooks with punchlines rather than points, our thinkers are dedicated more to not offending people than to speaking the truth. We recently organized an outreach night at a weeklong secular music festival that took place on... faith and family night. Waiters dread the family that prays before their meal because it generally means they will be tipped 10 percent or a gospel tract after a long meal full of demands and disappointments (and it is so unfortunately true). We are known for rallying against Abortion clinics and Homosexual unions rather than loving the people involved. We'll sooner preach at the pregnant 16 year old about the sin in her life than hold her hand and help her cry through the daunting realization that the rest of her life is changed.

The argument I hear over and over is that we are not to be of the world, and I believe that a lot of Christians have done quite the great job at this, for we are definitely separate from the world. But honestly, if I were an "outsider" looking "in," I would see nothing appealing about the way that we live. In the words of the band Norma Jean, "Mediocrity is the killer." I don't know how God could look at His children and see the mediocrity that we have become and smile. We need to realize that before we are not to be "of the world," we must first be in it.

Hamilton Barber

The subject of this page is an introverted writer/musician/lunatic from Chattanooga, TN who dabbles in lexical dexterity, unorthodox thoughts on prosperity, and being overwhelmingly undeserving of the privilege of waking up every day. He hopes that everybody who reads these words takes them to heart and leaps higher than he ever could. He reads, thinks, and speaks too much; he listens, works, and loves too little; and he says “I” entirely too often. The words on these pages are not his: they are the words that were given to him.

>If At First You Don't Succeed?

>I tried sleeping, but I couldn't.

I laid down at 10:30 and shut my eyes as tightly as I could after watching about 30 minutes of a Ken Burns documentary (one of my new little pleasures), I did the readjust the pillows thing, pulled the blanket snug against my neck, turned to the other side to see if my left cheek was my ticket to the sleep train, got up and checked every deadbolt in the house, closed what doors were open to closets, bathrooms, bedrooms and whatnot, put a dish in the dishwasher, and returned to my bed, thinking maybe this would have settled whatever restlessness was nipping at my skull... but it didn't.
I did some successful staring at the ceiling and tried music and tweeted something about being tired of all of my friends getting married and then attempted to figure out what in the world was on my mind. I then realized that I didn't know what was on my mind.
I tried talking to God about it and although I know He was listening, I felt like the words were bouncing off of the walls and getting back to me with a singsong mockery that caused me to again shift my position in bed from the discomfort. I rotated 180 and put my head in the corner, surrounded by walls, and tried to wedge myself into a comfortable little nook to increase snugness and I tried hugging a pillow and I tried drinking a glass of water and I tried pacing and I tried lighting a candle, but it was burnt down enough that I only succeeded in burning the end of my finger.
So now I'm sitting on my back porch with the slightly chilly Hixson summer air wicking at my skin in my boxers in a little white chair that has a crack in the back of it that doesn't let me recline. I've tried for at least a week to write another blog with some sort of substance, but I can't seem to get past the first couple of sentences. I have under the "edit posts" tab a collection of drafts that started with such promise but ran out of steam far too soon to be considered worthy of public consumption.
I secretly wished I could retreat back to high school with somebody to text me until I fell asleep. I secretly felt the urge to fall asleep with an N64 controller in my hand and the Ocarina of Time still up and running when I woke up, only to find Link walking in circles because of the position I left my thumb in for the past 6 hours. I wanted a heavy downpour to begin and pound upon my window with only the rhythm God could dream up to lull me into a secure cocoon of dry and warm comfort.
I would have even taken some last minute inspiration to scribble into a bedside notebook only to feel the texture of the page underneath the end of my pen which was slowly and calculatedly leaking ink into shapes that represented whatever ideas were swimming beneath my complicated subconscious.
I tried writing some more of this screenplay, but I couldn't.
I tried writing a song but I couldn't.
I tried reading but I couldn't.
I tried sleeping... but I couldn't.

Hamilton Barber

The subject of this page is an introverted writer/musician/lunatic from Chattanooga, TN who dabbles in lexical dexterity, unorthodox thoughts on prosperity, and being overwhelmingly undeserving of the privilege of waking up every day. He hopes that everybody who reads these words takes them to heart and leaps higher than he ever could. He reads, thinks, and speaks too much; he listens, works, and loves too little; and he says “I” entirely too often. The words on these pages are not his: they are the words that were given to him.

>The "Click"

>I think that there is a moment in every person's life where the inevitable "click" will occur. It is a subtle moment, more of a whisper than that shoot-out-of-a-dream resolve that wakes you from a nightmare, that leads to the changing of how you operate. You will see the functions of your mind smoothing out, despite the piling of even more lists and rules and expectations and responsibilities, and you will begin to understand how to deal with it. Unfortunately, I don't think that this moment comes from constant drilling and attempts to instill values (unless it is to a dog) but rather an instant of clarity that each individual will force himself to remember when the high wears off.

I believe some call it "growing up." I choose to call it "de-juvenilization."

It is in this moment that you begin to assume your role as the functioning member of society worthy of contributing and having your opinions respected. The opinions of a juvenile in today's society are all but respected (unfortunately, because some of them are extremely valid), and so it takes growing out of this phase to truly assume who you are called to be. I have found my walk with God growing stronger not because I'm looking for fire insurance or attempting to appear more righteous than those around me, but because I have recognized the daunting truth that I literally cannot do things by myself. I have moved past the arrogance of your average mall-walker towards this position of humility not for humility's sake, but because I have begun to understand that I really am not all that, and my way usually isn't right. I have noticed that when I begin thinking about humanity as a whole, I understand that we are all here, suspended in this existence between birth and eternity and everybody is trying all of the most ridiculous things to feel valid... I see that people are people no matter how calloused they seem or how daunting their status and that they probably feel just as I do, which is insignificant sometimes and at other times kings of the world. It helps me respect people for who they are because we're all in the same boat, and perhaps it is my love that will help them to see the love of my Savior.

I realize I'm rambling again, as this blog is less than organized thought-wise, but perhaps the open-endedness will cause you, the faithful reader, to think about whatever application I intended and formulate your own opinions on anything I'm talking about. Hey, maybe somebody will comment on one of these things and start up a discussion.

Hamilton Barber

The subject of this page is an introverted writer/musician/lunatic from Chattanooga, TN who dabbles in lexical dexterity, unorthodox thoughts on prosperity, and being overwhelmingly undeserving of the privilege of waking up every day. He hopes that everybody who reads these words takes them to heart and leaps higher than he ever could. He reads, thinks, and speaks too much; he listens, works, and loves too little; and he says “I” entirely too often. The words on these pages are not his: they are the words that were given to him.

>How Does One Classify This?

>It blows my mind how drained I get during the school year. I have lost that spark of creativity, although I can feel it peeking out from around the corner, waiting for the smoke to clear from the decimation of my brain by papers, exams, drama, and stagnancy. I don't believe that it has completely gone away, but rather that it simply can't stand all the nonsense it has to put up with throughout all of the formulaic essays and encroaching deadlines that are (unfortunately) synonymous with life. I can feel my knowledge growing and my wisdom expanding and my general thirst for enlightenment becoming more and more unquenchable each day but I have noticed a simultaneous decline in outlets for it. I funnel all of the erudite energy into four papers due within a week of each other and I find it completely sapped. I understand why Thoreau had to disappear into a cabin that he "built with is own hands" to create his musings at Walden, why Kant found excuse to shut himself in his room for weeks at a time as an excuse for his physical deformities, why Poe resorted to maddening fits of drug-induced hysteria to draft some semblance of a cohesive story or poem or whatever he was writing.

On the upside, I had a series of conversations over the past week over vats of coffee and abundant shivering in the recently onset cold of Chattanooga that gave me hope for the reinstatement of the drive I had not three months ago for this album in production. I also am in talks with the roommate for creating in the first week or so of Christmas break the perfect work environment for writing the most epic masterpiece of our century, filled with sticky notes and devoid of personal hygiene, regular sleep patterns, and inhibitions of creativity. Perhaps I'll journal through that experience and share it, but for the most part I feel kinda bad about leaving you guys in the dark as of late, but I shall validate it in my mind with the assurance that you are all as busy as I am.

And I am open to suggestions about new formats for this thing, instead of a clump of words. Should I express these things in iambic pentameter to allow for ease of reading and comprehension? Haiku? Sonnet? Should I record audio versions and speak them over a background of soothing harpsichord melodies? Should I take up photography?

Should I become the leader of the Free World?

Hamilton Barber

The subject of this page is an introverted writer/musician/lunatic from Chattanooga, TN who dabbles in lexical dexterity, unorthodox thoughts on prosperity, and being overwhelmingly undeserving of the privilege of waking up every day. He hopes that everybody who reads these words takes them to heart and leaps higher than he ever could. He reads, thinks, and speaks too much; he listens, works, and loves too little; and he says “I” entirely too often. The words on these pages are not his: they are the words that were given to him.

>Those Who Can Count and Those Who Can't

>I've decided that there are two categories broad and sweeping enough to fit any human, whether they are aware of the reality of their situation or not. Look into the soul of anybody within eyeshot and you begin to understand precisely what I'm talking about when I shed light on the rather obvious dichotomy presented before us every day of our lives...

The two options are, in layman's terms, the Respecter and the Moocher.

The Respecter does not necessarily like everybody, or even anybody, around him. He doesn't have to have a lot of friends to put himself in this category; it doesn't matter how he dresses or what major he is or where he works or what kind of movie makes him cry, but rather how he approaches human interactions. People don't always understand the true blessing of having Respecters in their lives, but this does not stop him from being who he was made to be in the first place. The Respecter understands (superficially) that what you have is yours, and you have the option of doing what you please with it.

He has probably known what it feels like to have to earn things that you accumulate and therefore approaches interactions with friends and strangers alike with a reserved sense of self-awareness. He gets that you have personal space because he might have issues with that himself; he understands that when people yell when they talk it makes even the most docile of person feel a twinge of hostility running down their cool spine, so he controls the volume of his voice; he knows the feeling of being drowned by a deluge of meaningless words being spewn from one's mouth so he knows that there are times when it is appropriate not to speak. When he asks for a favor, he gives the easier task to the volunteer , while bearing the majority of the load himself, because he knows that effort, as well as time, are things that people prize, and are therefore aspects he must respect. None of these things are a chore for him because it only comes natural. He may not be a people pleaser, but he is a people understander and that makes him a tolerable person to be around.

The Moocher, however, is a completely different story. Unlike the Respecter, he has no concept of the people around him because they all seem superfluous compared to himself, the all-important center of the universe. The Moocher is the one that calls you and instead of greeting you and thanking you for being gracious to pick up the phone yells in your ear "I'm bored, let's do something." Be wary of making Moochers your friends, because they assume that with your friendship comes an open invitation to enter your house, wear your clothes, and eat your food with or without your permission. They will probably do something extreme to get your attention for a while, like undergo a drastic change in dress or undertake a new life-consuming hobby or decide to move on a whim, and then assume that while they were doing the other thing they were doing other than being your shadow you missed them greatly *(but were too scared to call or text or ask somebody where they were, even once)* and will promptly begin back at square one.

The Moocher saps not just money but energy, time, effort, and relationships with people that are not them. Also, if they feel like you are catching onto their game, they will go out of their way to try to feel appreciated, perhaps by saying something like "ok well then I guess I just won't see you for a while" or feigning a momentary crossover into the Respecter category by buying you something innocuous but heartfelt or calling and asking how your day was. Beware of the Moocher's cunning tricks, because they do not make the choice to be a Moocher, they are simply either too lazy or self absorbed to do anything about it.

The Moocher will never recognize his/her position as a Moocher, however. It is for this reason that you must be all the more vigilant in spotting their type and not falling prey to their tactics. The best way to avoiding having all of your life overrun by the likes of the Moocher is simply to live your life as normal when they are around and knowing how to say "no." When they insist on you spending your time on them, tell them that you had other plans. When they insist on you spending your money on them, tell them that you don't have the money to spend right now and when they whine about it, know they'll get over it. Don't leave things laying around you don't want them breaking open. They will understand after a while not having an invitation means they are not invited, and if they wish to receive an invitation they will have to change their ways.

Basically, the point of this whole thing is that we have to learn how to deal with each other. If you recognize yourself as one of these two categories, know that it's not too late to become whichever you see as more appealing, and if reading this makes you think of one or two people in particular, you can understand where they're coming from and start learning how to treat them better. Wow, that was a cheesy ending.

Hamilton Barber

The subject of this page is an introverted writer/musician/lunatic from Chattanooga, TN who dabbles in lexical dexterity, unorthodox thoughts on prosperity, and being overwhelmingly undeserving of the privilege of waking up every day. He hopes that everybody who reads these words takes them to heart and leaps higher than he ever could. He reads, thinks, and speaks too much; he listens, works, and loves too little; and he says “I” entirely too often. The words on these pages are not his: they are the words that were given to him.

>After a Long Hiatus

>I had a few free moments on this glorious Friday and had an uplifted spirit after the outcome of certain events being in my favor, so I decided during the break in the action I would forgo schoolwork for the moment and blow some time developing the idea for a story I'm writing purely for pleasure and not in any way motivated for school. I had about ten minutes of good, productive development before the inevitable and always ill-timed creative block occurred, so I decided it would be for the best to sit in the midst of the not-yet-busy University Center and kill time updating myself on the happenings of people I know purely for our connection to my church or Lee University or UTC. I noticed on Twitter some buzz that I generally try to ignore about some political hurly-burly (sorry, I've been reading Shakespeare like a CHAMP these past few weeks) pertaining to Obama. I really really am trying to approach him and his Presidency with an open and more sympathetic mind (which is extraordinarily difficult for me), because I have not just an obligation but a mandate to respect those in authority and to "give to caesar that what is ceasar's." But, I noticed something that caught my attention in the Twitter update of somebody whose opinion I admittedly do not value more than that of the nearest bleating, Chris Tomlin-worshipping, "I need to constantly inform the public (who, of course, adores my opinion) about the relief work I do aiding starving children in Africa", "My politcal and religious views are both 'Lee University'" sheep.

I am slightly ashamed that it took this to break me of my long blogging hiatus, the cause of which is either that I have a life now or that I don't have time to have a life, which will only be decided based on the the definition and interpretation of "having a life," but I noticed the recent dolling out of the Nobel Peace Prize to Barak Obama. Now, I type this with trembling hands for a few reasons:
1) I am running slightly (and by "slightly" I mean "purely") off of caffeine and a sugar rush that has yet to be calmed by the intake of food into my system because the food court has not been opened
2) Trepidation, for I know that any of the people (whose ethnicity shall not be named) behind me wearing pants that start where most of these girls' shorts end and one of which has an oversized, glittery Tshirt that literally says "Obama for Messiah," could be reading over my honkey shoulder and follow through on the threats I just heard him speak to one of his friends except to me, not Maurice, or whoever he just said, and
3) I'm actually, physically enraged at the topic about which I am about to rant.

It was said by the chairman of the Nobel Prize Committee about Obama's win, "Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future." A man whose opinion we greatly respect and whose actions this nation as a whole generally approves of, former President Jimmy Carter said of Obama's win that it is a "bold statement of international support for his vision and commitment."

Now, perhaps if some of Obama's plans had worked out like he said they would, this would not be as big of a deal as it is. He does have some plans for peace (albiet in my personal opnion misguided and poorly thought out) that could have sparked the decision to throw his name in the basket. But it's important to note that the deadline for the Nominations was February 1... a lengthy 12 days after the man was president. I think that an important quality for the Nobelc Prize recipient to have is integrity, as this word can be associated with so many of the past prize winners... Elie Wiesel, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Jr, etc. and I just can't say that the man who promised to have Americans out of Iraq in 100 days or that the closing of Guantanimo would be at the top of his lengthy Presidential checklist, and then produced absolutely no results but a 5-month search for the dog to buy his kids, a million dollar frisbee golf course and an endeavour to launch unmanned craft to the moon for the sole purpose of smashing into its surface, would be a man who I would label as one with "integrity."

But with this nomination, I also question the validity of said committee. I don't see how the outcome of what used to be a prestigious honor can be determined by what a group of men think a man will do in the future....

Actually, I'm tired of talking about this already. I don't see this prize as being a valid honor anymore because apparently all you have to do is make a documentary based on conjecture rather than fact (Al Gore) or organize enough communities to gain some recognition then say some stuff you don't mean to carry out to get into office and get nominated for a joke of a prize, killing two one-time honors with one stone (Josef Stalin I mean Chavez I mean what?). For those that put up with me this far, I say thank you. I'll see what I can do to update some more in the future, now that I'm starting to get this school schedule locked down.

As for production of the album, it is coming slowly but surely. Expect results in the near future!

Hamilton Barber

The subject of this page is an introverted writer/musician/lunatic from Chattanooga, TN who dabbles in lexical dexterity, unorthodox thoughts on prosperity, and being overwhelmingly undeserving of the privilege of waking up every day. He hopes that everybody who reads these words takes them to heart and leaps higher than he ever could. He reads, thinks, and speaks too much; he listens, works, and loves too little; and he says “I” entirely too often. The words on these pages are not his: they are the words that were given to him.

>A Short Recap

>In these past two weeks, I've seen things that words cannot do justice. I've seen a group of Jamaican people being nothing short of shining lights in a culture that does not accept the message that they are trying to preach. I've seen a youth group who spent months working day and night to earn enough money to take a trip, but donate every penny to their church's building fund instead, without being prompted. I've seen firsthand the power of satan and his attempts to interfere with anything God is trying to do, and I've seen God send angels to battle on His behalf and shoot down all of the devil's evil work. I've seen older kids befriending younger ones and raising the up to their level and including them in the group, despite how unpopular it may be.

I've seen mountains so grand they disappear into the clouds above and I've seen expanses so white it stings the eyes, broken up only by the peaks of rolling hills. I've seen the vastness of cornfields across the midwest and realized that somebody has to work all of that ground by the sweat of their brow to provide things we can get in a five minute trip to the store. I've seen skies turn purple behind Chicago high rises with the sounds of slide guitar soothing the ears of over 70,000 people. I've felt the scorching heat of the northern sun and the cooling breeze refreshing the land coming off of Lake Michigan. I've seen a group of people giving away thousands of gallons of water to thirsty crowds when they could have been selling it at 2 dollars a bottle, and I've seen fire trucks hosing the masses to prevent heat exhaustion. I've heard a multitude screaming the same melody as a man with a microphone with fists in the air or their hands clasped tight around a lover's. I've felt the rush of sharing a common unforgettable experience with complete strangers and the connection that any peron from around the world can feel with music and those listening. I've compared the cheap buzz of beer in the hands of irresponsible youth hiding in a corner to the bone-chilling cries of passionate lyrics driven by drums and guitars and amps and the hard work of people who will never get recognized for it.

I've felt the heaviness of the distance between two hearts that are connected by longing and the palpable excitement that accompanies coming home. I've tasted on my tongue the joy of getting excited about something that is, to some, petty, but others, sublime. I"ve felt time rush by in a blurr of jumbled experienes and images and emotions, and I've felt it crawl across the barren interstates in Kentucky.

And I've looked at all of this, the majority of which cannot be documented with anything but firsthand experiene, and been perplexed that someone could believe that it all just happened.

Hamilton Barber

The subject of this page is an introverted writer/musician/lunatic from Chattanooga, TN who dabbles in lexical dexterity, unorthodox thoughts on prosperity, and being overwhelmingly undeserving of the privilege of waking up every day. He hopes that everybody who reads these words takes them to heart and leaps higher than he ever could. He reads, thinks, and speaks too much; he listens, works, and loves too little; and he says “I” entirely too often. The words on these pages are not his: they are the words that were given to him.

>All-night Nights in All-night Diners

>Let's you and I stay up all night long, watch as patterns emerge on the walls and whet our appetites for good conversation over coffee and talks in parking lots. Let's be as comfortable talking about nothing as we are talking about something, and let's be comfortable enough saying nothing to justify thoughtful breaks in the streams of words that are separated by sips from our scalding hot beverages. Let's discuss the incomers and outgoers and speculate as to why they are up at this absurd hour of the day and possibly wonder if they think the same about us. Let's get to know the woman behind the counter who has stopped asking if we want refills and gives them to us anyway, and ask her why she has a sad look in her eyes and ask if there's anything we can pray with her about. Let's be prepared to be slapped in the face and shot down and spat upon and insulted and turned on and let's be ready to back up what we asked and bow our heads or comfort or celebrate or be blessed by her words, because asking somebody such a powerful question can only elicit powerful answers.

Let's get in the car and drive to nowhere at all, knowing that we'll not be surprised when we drive up on an epiphany. Let's burn a mixed cd that suits our moody whimsies of the journey and can be enjoyed at full volume as much as simply background music to the words we speak. Let's be comfortable enough that if the other wants to drive for a while there are no questions asked and nothing done begrudgingly, but let the passenger become comfortable with letting somebody other than themselves take the reigns. Let's talk about how this idea relates back to God and have a moment of silence that is filled with the sound of our brains attempting to wrap themselves around the fact that the One that created all of the stars we see above us wants nothing more than who you are at that moment in time, and each successive moment after that that much more. Let's discuss love and hate and destiny and fate and why smiling is so much easier than frowning and if bees have lungs and if they don't have lungs why they don't just fly out into everlasting solitude and silence and peace in the depths of space rather than buzzing around here and getting swatted at.
Let's you and I stay up all night long and long for the next time we can.

Hamilton Barber

The subject of this page is an introverted writer/musician/lunatic from Chattanooga, TN who dabbles in lexical dexterity, unorthodox thoughts on prosperity, and being overwhelmingly undeserving of the privilege of waking up every day. He hopes that everybody who reads these words takes them to heart and leaps higher than he ever could. He reads, thinks, and speaks too much; he listens, works, and loves too little; and he says “I” entirely too often. The words on these pages are not his: they are the words that were given to him.

>The Addendum To An Already Complex Set Of Contrasting Genres

>Sometimes it takes sitting in the dark of my room listening to my playlist on iTunes that I have spent a tremendous amount of sweat and effort making perfect called "Oh! So Epic" and indulging in great conversation with new friends to realize just how good I have it. I'm listening to everything from A Day To Remember to Emery to The Classic Crime to David Crowder to freaking Yellowcard to Django Reinhardt to Dogwood to The Early November to Edison Glass...even some Fall Out Boy thrown in for good measure. ahh.

I'm moving in with Matt and Ryan very soon to what will soon be the sweetest duplex that has ever happened. The creative energy that will be contained within the walls, if bottled, could provide Coca-Cola with enough material to advertise every new product they come out with or revitalize between now and when soft drinks are replaced by holographic representations of delicious thirst quenchers.

I'm also going back and forth between iTunes and this new track that's happening, the third track in the sequence of 12 that are going on the new record. This one is called "Swine," and takes place at a very specific moment in the main character's life. I am straight up jazzed about this track, because it is taking very drastic turns and is pushing me musically and creatively, not to mention stretching my boundaries at mixing and part writing.

Sometimes, it takes the most innocent and routine things to bring about incredible change. Today, it was the rain interrupting the heat that has been scorching our land for the past week. It has put people's minds at ease, it has quenched the thirst of the ground beneath our feet, it has moistened our dry spirits. It's very true: there is nothing quite like a summer rain.

Hamilton Barber

The subject of this page is an introverted writer/musician/lunatic from Chattanooga, TN who dabbles in lexical dexterity, unorthodox thoughts on prosperity, and being overwhelmingly undeserving of the privilege of waking up every day. He hopes that everybody who reads these words takes them to heart and leaps higher than he ever could. He reads, thinks, and speaks too much; he listens, works, and loves too little; and he says “I” entirely too often. The words on these pages are not his: they are the words that were given to him.