Wednesday, October 10, 2012

What's New? (Part 3 of 3)

Checking out Christy's place in China, just before her flight.
Yesterday's post included 7 of 14 verbal snapshots for Dani and me over the last twelve months. In vague chronological order, here are the other 7... :)

7. In January my friend Toby asked if I'd ever come back to Campus Target. I was too shocked to answer seriously but I shook my head and mumbled, "You’re kidding, right?"

6. From January to April I lost almost 40 pounds, and from April to October I gained almost 15. My net loss is around 25 but I'm trying to trend back down before the holidays.

5. From February to June I completed a Life Coaching course, generated half a dozen business ideas, and pestered Dani with incessant brainstorms about my personal mission, vision, and values.

4. On April 1st we moved to downtown Rochester to become cool city folk, and to be closer to U of R for Dani’s school. We immediately sampled every Vietnamese noodle shop in a five mile radius. Done and done.

3. In June, after several powerful conversations with Dani, I asked Toby if Campus Target would ever take me back. We both cried a little. He said we could start working toward my return, and asked if I would help plan the Ethnos Conference in the meantime.

2. I worked my last day of construction on July 31st and immediately began helping with Ethnos. During August I met one-on-one with the 21 CT workers who were there when I hit the wall in 2010. It was a special chance for me to apologize and for them to talk with me individually. I thought it’d be painful, but they overwhelmed me with love and excitement.

1. On September 5, 2012 Dani sported a cute new outfit and zipped over to her first day at the U of R. That same morning, I slipped into my green “Young, Single, Available” shirt and drove, staring at the clouds and fighting back tears, to my first day back with Campus Target. I got a desk and a giant Welcome Back card; Dani got a TON of homework.

Crazy story, right?!

Next week I'll post a few letters written specifically to two different audiences: Those who enjoyed my blogs in 2010 and 2011, and those who did not enjoy my blogs in 2010 and 2011. If you fall into one of those categories, the letters might answer a few questions. Also, feel free to send me an email, Facebook message, or comment below! :)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

What's New? (Part 2 of 3)

Last month the Wilmots threw a going away party for Dani!
To catch you up on our adventures, I promised some rapid-fire stories of the last twelve months. Here's a reverse countdown of "verbal snapshots" of Dani and me over the last year... enjoy! :)

14. I dropped my Anatomy course in October 2011, abandoning my short-lived dream of a nursing career.

13. Dani got an A+ in that course and every other pre-req she took, was accepted into an elite, accelerated nursing program at the University of Rochester, and started classes three weeks ago. (She’s currently swamped!)

12. I wrote four chapters of a novel before deciding I didn't understand my topic well enough to write insightfully, and temporarily abandoned the project

11. Dani and I enjoyed the happiest holiday season of our marriage. We played an epic Thanksgiving football game where she did NOT break any bones, and on Christmas Eve she took her brother to watch the Bills trounce Tim Tebow.

10. Dani-the-Nanny visited the Florida Keys three times between December and April with her favorite kids! Last month she trained her sisters to take over so she could focus on nursing, but she still drops in to visit.

9. In January we went on a cruise to the Bahamas with two of our favorite friends, Greg and Lucy. We rented mopeds in Nassau and zipped around the island at breakneck speeds. Later we learned that most Americans who do this literally break their necks.

8. In January I wrote a blog, planning to get back into it, but I wasn’t ready. I decided to spend my evenings hanging out with Dani instead. Best plan ever! We must have tripled our fun quotient, and quadrupled our Dream-About-the-Future-Together quotient.

Stay tuned, tomorrow I'll post the top 7! :)


~ Matt

PS - In case you're curious, I'm posting here - a blog which I haven't used for more than two years - because my old blog died of a virus (and my subsequent failure to renew it's contract).

Monday, October 8, 2012

What's New? (Part 1 of 3)

Night out with Tom and Bee! August 2012
I wanna talk to you in real life! With eye contact and vocal cord vibrations; the good stuff, ya know?

You’ve been my friend. 
You've thought of me and Dani as we've tumbled through these last few years. You've even read my stuff and written back.

You've sent text messages, Facebook messages, and voicemail messages. You've said prayers, bought books, and mailed Red Lobster gift cards! You've invited us to picnics, parties, and small groups. You've written to us, cried with us, and laughed for us when we forgot how.

In short, you refused to let us sink.

It's no secret that the last few years have been challenging for Dani and me. I've documented my various problems quite publicly, so there's a good chance you have an impression - good or bad.

But about 13 months ago I stopped blogging regularly and kinda fell off the grid. I was changing in ways I didn’t understand, and I wasn’t sure what that meant for my blog. I only knew I wasn’t angry anymore.

A lot has changed - both internally and externally - since then. I’ve settled my major questions, I’ve let go of my major resentments, I’ve identified a personal sense of  life purpose, and I’ve started action stepping in that direction.

Last month someone asked if I was still working toward nursing school. I'm not. Yesterday someone asked if I was still working construction. I'm not! And today someone asked if I still weighed 210 pounds. I don't!

Ok, nobody asked about my weight, but still... :)
Anyway, in case you're interested, tomorrow I'll post a rapid-fire run-through of 7 the top 14 moments of the last 12 months.

How has life been for you since October 2011?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Starting Starting Over Over

I'm coming back to blogging! Yay!

But it's different now. I'm not looking for pity and I'm not wallowing in self loathing. Sure, I still hate myself sometimes, but who doesn't? And I still hate being personable sometimes, but so do you. So there. The point is, I'm back.

Why did I leave? I had to. I was asked to stop blogging by someone that I trust and am submitted to.

I'm not going to lie, I hated it at the time. But it was good for me. It helped me evaluate my motives. I'm the first to admit that I'm a bundle of contradictions and dysfunctions. The hiatus helped me sort out improper motivations like: pity, shock, repressed anger, adrenaline, etc...

It also helped me identify healthy motivations like: creativity, thoughtfulness, connecting, and adventure. For me the work has been to deal with the unhealthy issues while fighting for the potential to develop something that I genuinely love and feel gifted in.

Now, I'm thrilled to announce that I'm starting fresh with the provisional approval of the wise man I mentioned earlier. I've got one month to demonstrate that I can write for the right reasons.

So I'm starting with a total makeover. New approach. New title. New website. New goals. It's not just about me and my journey anymore. Sure I'll share lots of personal stories - I can't help it, I'm just that self centered. But I want to be more about exploring questions that nobody's asking. Digging in to angst that we all feel, but rarely admit.

Rather than making this a private journal that everyone can read, I want an interactive debate. I want people to challenge me. To disagree with one another. To offer wisdom.

We'll have fun. We'll be funny, irreverent, occasionally offensive, but certainly sincere. I have two goals:

1. I'd like to offer an engaging forum where we can explore life's questions, challenge our own paradigms, and revel in the fact that there is no such thing as a tidy answer.

2. I'd like to take a crack at becoming a full time blogger. If I could make a living writing I'd be pretty much the happiest guy in NY. Obviously that will take time, hard work, a little luck, and a LOT of help from my friends. People tell me blogging success comes down to a core of dedicated followers who regularly chime in, retweet, spread the word, and all that crazy social networking stuff.

So, without further ado, I want to introduce you to my new blog:

Frequently Unasked Questions!

Tell me what you think! :)

Friday, July 16, 2010


I'm taking a break from public blogging. I'm not entirely sure how long it will last. There are currently some questions about its impact on me and others that need to be resolved. Thanks for reading, and I'll let you know when I come back. :)

Until next time...

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Preaching, Surfing, and Organized Crime

When I see leaders on stage I immediately esteem them. Not everybody does that, but I do. Always have. The way I see it, if pew passengers want you to tell them how to live differently, then you obviously have your junk together. At least most of it.

Maybe that's why I aspired to be one of those guys. My problem is that I'm not that good at life. I get overwhelmed by everything. Ask me to do laundry while I'm already washing dishes and you'll blow my motherboard. Real life for me is sort of... real.

But the guys on stage look so perfect. Bright lights shimmer off their wrinkle-free clothing; subtle symbolism for their wrinkle-free lives. They've never lost their cool. Always react to emotionally charged situations like professionals. They remind me that I too can aspire to a sparkly, wrinkle-free life.

Actually, they never said that. They told me about trials and character. I simply misunderstood because of how easy they made it look. Like those darn surfers. How do they glide on a tsunami like it's a moving walkway? Life never looks difficult for preachers and surfers. They seem to sail along, just in front of the waves. Nothing unmanageable enough to wrinkle pants or cause a splash.

But I wonder about unintended consequences. Like how Prohibition was supposed to suppress the alcohol trade, but essentially funded organized crime. Can that effect happen in church? I wonder if an unintended consequence of polished leadership is hypocrisy/legalism. It's easy to mistake a well-spoken man with ideals for a spiritual specimen. Why not presume he lives life in perfect adherence to his principles? It's easy to imagine him smiling through a house fire. He's perfect.

We rarely see an example of sincere imperfection on public display. But if you're near enough to the leaders, it's often beautiful. In my experience the closer I've gotten to the men on stage the more I've seen their authenticity. It's great to hear them belch after dinner. It's relieving to witness an occasional bad attitude. And it's inspiring to see real character in action.

But guess what I'm learning? They're not going to light farts on stage. They're not going to stub their toe and let a cuss word slip. And they definitely aren't going to stay up till 3am on Saturday night watching Lethal Weapon reruns. They're speaking the next day, for goodness sake!

Maybe that's how it's supposed to be. We want people worth following. We don't need them to expose their issues. Then we couldn't see past their carnality to let them help us with ours. It sucks when a pastor tries to connect with people by painting himself as a jerk. We lose respect for him. Even Jesus didn't let it all hang out. He had different levels of disclosure. John got his breast. The twelve got the rest. And the crowds got blessed. I'm cool with that.

So would Jesus have a problem with my blog? I wonder if He'd think my disclosure could hurt others. Or be concerned that people won't respect me years from now. He didn't bare his soul for the multitudes, why should I? People could easily judge me, and some probably already have. They could decide that because I was a wounded goofball in 2010 that I'm not to be trusted in 2012, or... ever.

Multitudes are finicky I guess. Just look at what happened with LeBron James. With one act of immaturity (publicly leaving his team), he went from being the most lovable NBA star to the most hate-able. And you better believe that 20 years from now people will still be talking bitterly about 'The Decision'. Isn't that crazy? Lifelong bitterness towards a kid for being insensitive? Mark my words, it will happen. Crowds cannot be trusted.

On the one hand, maybe we could use a little more transparency so we don't presume perfection. But on the other, full disclosure seems to create disrespect even more quickly than a good image engenders hypocrisy. And where's the balance for me? I can't go back to pretending I'm wrinkle-free. That facade messed me up. It paved the way for organized crime. I have to slowly iron out my wrinkles. Practice on my surf board in the shallow water. But I may want to reconsider my self-sabotaging strategy. I'm not looking to make the entire city of Cleveland openly root for my destruction. Or all of Christendom. Who knows what the future holds...

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Academy

Late in the summer of 1992 I enrolled in an elite college prep school. An eager Jr. High candidate, I was blissfully unaware of the humiliation that awaited me, or the repercussions it would have on the rest of my life.

The sun had begun it's descent when our aging vehicle rumbled to a stop in the parking lot. We stared up at the solemn brick building. Shadows from the nearby forest already extended into the well manicured lawn. Nestled among rolling Western New York hills there would be a spectacular display of fall foliage in a few short weeks. Mom parked the wood-paneled minivan next to a BMW and pretended our clunker was it's equal. We belonged here, mom reminded me.

Having been home-schooled most of my elementary years, enrollment at The Academy was a departure from the norm. I was leaving the shelter of a country community and commuting an hour each day to attend a boarding school with international and inner city kids. Today, in the Dean's office, I would sign off on my first heavy dose of the real world.

Perhaps the most shocking Jr. High surprise was that the girls magically became women between their sixth and seventh grade summer. Sharing the halls with dazzlingly beautiful females was hardly a confidence booster. Especially because I was eye level with their navels.

Unfortunately I had more than just height and innocence working against me. I had a wardrobe specifically designed by Steve Urkle to help draw a maximum amount of negative attention. As if it wasn't enough to wear my pants at my nipples and my golden geek-bar glasses, I also employed a perm as part of my acceptance strategy. One of several poor choices.

Another poor choice was the note I passed to Joanna in History class. She didn't even bother to check the 'NO' box. She simply simply shook her head emphatically, her eyes wide with terror behind over-sized, eye-magnifying lenses. Jasmine, the class feminist/vegetarian, sized me up like a bad piece of meat each agonizing march to my locker. And Marcea's flirty smile evaporated each time I looked in her general direction. But Elizabeth destroyed me more than them all. She was everything at once. She was taller in 7th grade than I am today. Smarter in 7th grade than I am today. And in my little mind, more untouchable in 7th grade than any human alive.

Sweet adolescent girls, without any malice and without any words, unwittingly wrote the template for a recording that plays in my head every day. It goes something like this: You're worthless. You're ugly. You're unlovable. And you don't fit in.

For years I struggled under the weight of my lot as a hopeless loser. But inside I burned with indignation and resentment. "I'm better than you," I whispered through clenched teeth in their general direction. "Someday you'll see." Long after we moved away I fantasized about a future where I would become famous and those same girls would chase after me, clamoring for my attention.

I was 16 before a teenage girl noticed me. By the time I realized she'd already moved along. I felt empowered anyway, but I was bitter. "I'll show those girls," I thought, "I'll tease them. I'll make them like me, but they can never have me. I'm too good for them." It was a decade of payback.

Through high school, college, and graduate school I sought to validate myself and silence the merciless recordings about my worthlessness. I honed my flirting skills, developed scary intuition, and became every woman's emotional dream guy. I didn't realize my motivations at the time were so twisted, I just knew that I loved feeling validated.

Now that I'm married and my plans to change the world have ground to an abrupt halt, I'm faced with some ugly realizations about my actual motivation. Could it be that my desire to change the world is an unquenchable thirst for my classmate's approval? Could it be that some of my brokenness is tied to unforgiveness toward those young ladies? Sadly, I say yes.

And with strange serenity I offer the weirdest apology, and the most unrequested forgiveness of my lifetime. I'm sorry Jr. High girls for being bitter and angry all these years. I was wrong. And I forgive you for hurting me. It really hurt bad, but you probably didn't know. And even if you did, you might have been just as insecure as me. I'm so sorry. I hope your lives are everything you dreamed they would be back when we shared the halls of The Academy.