To Revive A Past Love

I am a man of faith, and this morning during a short time of prayer and meditation I received a message, a though that passed through my mind:

Ian, you will find someone to fall in love with and marry one day.

Now, I don’t know where that came from, since this was after reading 1 John 5:15, which is about getting what we ask for. Not something where love is the first thing that I ask about, but maybe yeah, it’s on the list.

Regardless I was soon done praying with that thought in mind and I got ready for my ASL 1 class. I walk into the room and there’s a girl that I’ve, well, noticed. She’s a really cool girl who always has like really cool clothes. Not like “Oh my gosh, your dress is so pretty.” No, like “Whoa! Those black tights with large white skulls at the knees that I can only see because you’re wearing jeans that are completely torn at the knee are like super sick!”

Anyway, this typically blonde haired girl came into class with bright orange hair. Now, I wanted to sign to her, “I like your hair. Why orange?” But I didn’t for three reasons.

  1. Other people were already grabbing her attention about it.
  2. I have like a ting about commenting on people’s hair that made me stop.
  3. I have lost like all ability to flirt with women due to a two year strive for singleness.

So yeah, that’s… that. I guess.

Anyway, I actually do get a chat to talk with her in a group setting outside of class on our break and she tells us, “Ugh, I hate that I came in a traffic cone today.”

The girls then all start talking about how it looks cute and ask what happened.

“Well, I got red hair dye because I wanted to have a coral color, but I added a little orange so that it wouldn’t be this like flaming hot pink color. I’ve washed it like three times and this is what I get. I’m thinking about asking my mom to take me to a professional stylist to get this fixed.”

Here is my golden opportunity to insert myself and say, “Hey, my mom is a stylist,” and like score some brownie points with like maybe a reduced price job, whether it’s color correction or just stripping it down so she can have another attempt.

However, that’s when another girl chimes in with, “Oh, I do hair color for a living.”

And there went that chance.

We go back inside and we go to our desks across from each other. Our teacher signs to us that we are going to be starting our last unit, signs about family. And then she immediately points at me and motions for me to come up to the front of the class. I point at myself questioningly, but comply.

I will translate the signs into their best English equivalence since ASL and English are two separate languages.

She signs, “Okay, we are going to build a family. You are a man. Go fishing for a girl.”

I look around the room, and I get a feeling deep within my gut.

“Should I? Should I really?”

I look around the room for a bit and then motion towards my orange haired pick for a wife. She smiles, perhaps somewhat embarrassed, but complies. I sign “Sorry,” to her, but I don’t think she saw.

“Who is he to you?” our teacher asks in sign.

“My boyfriend,” she responds.

“What? Already? You two are just friends. But then you meet again, and again, and again, and then you become sweethearts. Who is he?”

“He is my boyfriend.”

“And now, who is she?”

“My girlfriend,” I sign back.

There was nothing more embarrassingly satisfying I had felt in a long time.

Our teacher continued. “Time passes, and you two get married. Now who is he?”

“My husband.”

“Who is she?”

“My wife.”

Okay, at that point this went a little less wonderful in my mind, just in complete honesty. I am not terrified of commitment, but I am like “Ehh… I don’t plan on signing that sentence again for a few years.”

Our teacher wasn’t finished.

“Okay. Now a year passes. Two years. Three years. And oh, your stomach is growing. One month, two months, three months, four months, five months, six months, seven months, eight months, nine months, and a baby is born. Do you want this to be a baby boy or a baby girl?”

“Do you want a girl?” my imaginary wife signs.

“Yes, a girl!”

Okay, so while I may have like been a little less into the whole marriage thing, I was super into the getting her pregnant and having a baby girl part. That is hilariously horrifying, especially when considering the fact that I attended my biological grandparent’s wedding and remember the affair, and my mother, who has two children, has never been married. I apparently just want to keep the family legacy alive. “No marriage until grandkids.”

“What is her name?” our teacher signs.

Ugh… I freeze. I want a baby girl but have zero names prepared. My wife signs a name that I don’t process right away and I agree. I realize then she named her after one of our classmates.

Oh yeah! She’s going to join us on stage!

Except she doesn’t…

Moving along. The story continues.

“Now, the girl grows older, and oh, pregnant again.”

My wife shoots me the most genuine look of, “Really?” as if to say, “I love you, but I hate what you’ve done to me.”

Dang, I mean, I’m secretly like super happy, but relax, it’s just pretend.

We go through the months thing and we decide to have a baby boy. When the name question came up again, I was like, “Don’t worry, I got this,” but mentally. I don’t know how to sign that yet. But I do know how to sign the name of the guy that sits next to me, who is always chatting with the girl we named our daughter after. He was laughingly mouthing “No!” the entire time.

The next part I was not prepared for.

“Pick your parents.”

I was supper confused. I don’t get actual kids but I have to pick out my parents. Okay. I look around for a while. Now, my first desire to fulfill my own secret desires was done. Now my secondary desire to mess with people came to the forefront of my mind.

I picked a Hispanic girl and my Black friend.

Yep. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, my parents. I am one of the whitest looking dudes in that room, second place trophy at best, and this is where I came from.

A close contender to that warm feeling from earlier was definitely this one.

“Who is he?’ our teacher signed to my father.


“He is your son.”

“My son?”

I look at him and smile and get all close and friendly like for the father son moment we are having. It was gloriously funny to me and everyone enjoyed it.

We learned the rest of the signs we needed and then my parents get to sit down.

But my wife and I stay up.

The story continues.

“The children grow up, they leave home. Now you have no more children. The two of you then separate. You then eventually get a divorce. You may now go sit back down.”

Ugh. Well that was a downer.

We review the vocabulary and then get out of class early. I wanted to talk to my now ex-wife after class, but I don’t wait around unnecessarily. I begin to leave and my buddy from class walks along side me and we have our typical after class discussion on our walks home.

“Man, who would have though today you would endure a turbulent marriage and get divorced?”

I laughed.

“You know, it’s funny. I received a message today that I would find love and get married, but I didn’t think it was going to be that quick or that crazy.”

We laughed and talked for a while, but I couldn’t help but think about that crazy imaginary scenario. It seemed like people got really hung up on the divorce part, like that was the takeaway. However, I was so much more excited about and focused on the beauty of that situation. I was focused on the fact that I played this character who fell for someone he was interested in and got to raise two children, create new lives that could never have existed without us. I was especially glad about the baby girl part. All of that wondrous implications about life were just so beautiful to me.

As I sit here now and write this, I realize this probably won’t be posted for a bit of time, but at the next class I really want to approach this girl and tell her:

“Wow, it’s so strange to see you again since the divorce. But hey, listen, I’m willing to put all that behind me. Maybe we can go out to dinner sometime and revive what we once had.”

Grace Got Talent

I am a performer.  Oh, you thought I only told stories via text? No, I am a performer as well. And I am a professional performer now because I have now been paid to perform. And today, as I’m writing this, I deposited that in that $300 check into my nearly empty savings account.

In order to earn this check, it was a bit of a journey. What I was paid for was being the MC of my church’s first ever talent show. What this started off as was me approaching them and asking if I could have my own show. I wanted to raise money so that I could follow through with AMTC stuff I had pledged to do. The idea I put forward was that I would do a variety show, I’d make money off of whatever ticket sales there were, and I would even be willing to negotiate allowing them to keep a cut for missions. When I actually sat down with the head pastor, he said that he would get back to me about this sometime soon and brought up the possibility that I would just become their Funny Fiesta act.

Now, for those who probably don’t know what this is, Funny Fiesta is the pinnacle of their I Love My Church Weekend. They hire a professional Christian performer, typically a comedian, to come in and perform for the congregation after we’ve all eaten Mexican food. I went last year and we all were amazed as a comedic Christian magician entertained us. And all of a sudden, there was a huge possibility I would be the act. That is exciting. Like, I wasn’t going to be all gung ho and only do standup beforehand, but now to be the comedian being considered for the job, it made watching Blue Collar Comedy Tour DVDs every night as I fell asleep worth it.

But of course, nothing was set in stone, and without my control this thing morphed into a talent show. I mean, I’m proud to have gotten the ball rolling, but I can’t say I was like overjoyed that my vision for this got funneled.

But I was being paid to perform! I hadn’t been this happy since I got paid for my L.A. Affairs column, or when I got a play I was writing to be performed by my high school. This was big stuff.

The show happened, and I survived. Everyone who spoke with me said that they thought it was good, that they enjoyed themselves. And me, being a performer and a perfectionist, wanted to not believe them. Like, I don’t think that they hated the whole thing, or heck, even disliked everything that I did on stage, but I have a seriously tough time believing that on my first attempt to do anything like this was so unbelievably good.

… but I bring all of this up to ask one big question.

Do I want to continue to be a Christian comedian?

And my answer to that, surprisingly, is no. I do not. Not because of the comedian part, but because of the Christian part.

Now I know anyone who loves the Lord will have an aversion to this kind of statement. It’s the kind that makes you lean back in shock and declare, “Do you renounce your faith and turn your back on the Most High?”

And no. I’m not giving up religion or converting to a new faith. I love my G-D and I do not plan to give up my calling in life. But I do not think that it can go on this way.

Let me explain.

During my rehearsal for this show they had me go over some of my filler bits between acts. At one point, towards the end, I go into my personal story.

“Yeah, I just have to say that I love this church, and I really do consider it my family at this point. I grew up going to church with my grandmother at Valley Baptist, but then when she moved away after the fifth grade my mother and I began to attend Valley Bible. At some point when I was at my junior year in high school we just stopped going to church. And as someone who was given nicknames like The Bibleman or The Pastor, this was hard, because I impressed people with how much I knew in comparison with people my age and I needed to get spiritually challenged. I went two years without having a stable church group. Two years! I was so thirsty for spiritual knowledge that when the Mormons knocked on my door I was like, ‘Oh, thank you!’

But oh boy, was my grandmother not happy when she found out about this. She lived in Florida and she found out about this. She called me about it. She was like, ‘Really Ian?’

‘What? What am I supposed to do! I got nothing!’

‘There is a church right down the street from you. Just go there. I know you pass it everyday.’

So that Sunday I went in and there was a guy leading worship that morning named Ed. And he played so well and at one point between songs he said something to us he was so moved by that he came to tears as he said it. And I though to myself: Wow, what a beautiful, once in a lifetime moment that I just witnessed.; surely this is a sign I was called to be here.

… I didn’t know at the time, however, that Ed crying was a common occurrence, but, oh well, it got me here didn’t it? Alright everyone, let’s give a round of applause for our next act….”

Okay, you get the point. And I was really proud of this bit, and the other ones I did as well.

Until two separate people approached me and asked me, “Hey Ian, just wondering, but are you going to tell jokes at the actual show? Because you really should tell some jokes at the actual show.”

I was a little lost the first time, and a little miffed the second time.

“But I was telling jokes…”

At that point, they felt a little sad for even asking the question.

“Well, it’s just, we’re all old. You got to make these things a little more obvious.”

And that was all the direction I was given. Which sucks, because now I’ve got to sit down and consciously restructure how I said something. With that bit above I decided that I wanted to add more to my story. I wanted to go into how every girl I dated ended up being a pagan. I wanted to go into how my best friend was an atheist. I wanted to go into how I developed this sort of Christian Hinduism worldview that I lived by because I had no one who challenged me on a spiritual level. I wanted to make this just a real look at my life, for people to laugh at things that I once felt were painful and for all of us to grow in a sense that night, to remind everyone there that their agreement to come together on a weekly basis wasn’t in vain.

But then, the night of the show comes around. Mind you, this is two days later since the rehearsal. I am pumped and excited and ready to shine. Despite having a slight headache that I apparently was able to hide the entire show, even when it was at “Kill Me” levels. But just before we start the show, I get approached.

“Hey Ian. You ready for tonight?”

“Yeah, I think so!”

“Okay, Ian, well I just have a couple things that we think you should know. First of all, you cannot mention the names of other churches.”

Now, that wasn’t too hard. I could always just describe the church instead or just sort of gloss over that and focus more on the journey itself.

“And,” she continued, “you cannot mention or heckle Mormons.”

After a slight pause I looked this sweet woman right in the eyes and I told her, “So you don’t want me to do this bit at all?”

“No, you can do it, you just have to remove all that stuff.”

“You know, first, it’s a little rough to hear this not when I said that bit but like five minutes before we open the doors and let people in. But second, did you not listen to the story? It kind of hinges on the stuff you’re telling me. Otherwise it’s a short blip about how I didn’t go to church for two years, then a man cried and I decided to stick around. No journey. No comedy.”

I knew that if they were uncomfortable with me even mentioning Mormons, they were definitely not going to be okay with me mentioning any other religious experience I endured, even the funny stories about interacting with Catholics or Pentecostals… I’ll save those for a future occasion, but you get the point.

She tries to say something but I beat her to it.

“Don’t worry, I’ll figure out something. I am a trained improviser.”

Luckily I never did have to figure something else out, because we started so late that we texted each other backstage and agreed that we would cut that bit to save some time.

But let’s get back to the question. Why did this make me want to stop pursuing Christian comedy?

I do not think I could sustain a living and a career on this level of censorship.

Think about it. Unless I am horribly misguided, I don’t think that I said anything offensive. I have learned that there is a time and place for everything, and in the church and in front of families is not the time to talk about sexual experiences in graphic detail, even if I could spin them hilariously. It’s also not the place to make fun of murder, rape, abortion, suicide, disease, or any other taboo subject. I get it. I am not Dave Chappelle or Lewis C.K.  People did not come to see me and it’s on them if they get offended. I have a performer filter that is set to family friendly mode.

At least for when the context demands it. I’m pretty sure I’ve typed swear words here somewhere and that I’ve spoken about STDs with my close friends over ice cream. But I do not think I actually crosses some line of taboo topics but just being real. If anything, this is me giving my testimony, my story of how I came to the place where I was with my faith. But because I was in the role of a comedian and host of a Christian show, all of that was taken off the table.

Think about it. When the Christian label gets applied to something, it alters the way we view it. When we hear that this performer is a Christian artist, we instantly apply our expectations to it. It has to be about Jesus and love and that He saves and insert other clichés here. If a Christian artist ever made a song about how he used to do cocaine before he got saved, no Christian radio would ever play that song. That would be for the hardcore fans. I remember when certain songs were played on Christian radio that didn’t explicitly say anything about Jesus or G-D, like “Fireflies” by Owl City or “Cinderella” by Steven Curtis Chapmen, there is a bit of weirdness that no one can place as to why this song is playing. The artists is a Christian, sure, but can this really be considered a “Christian song?”

But, okay, that’s music. There are plenty of Christian comedian. And besides, that thing about music isn’t that bad.

Okay. Despite the fact that people avoid Christian music like the plague because they say that its sappy and sucky, let’s dive into Christian comedians. These guys are funny. I cannot deny that. But they are limited in their art. They cannot push past certain boundaries. Their comedy is expected to be clean and family friendly and tied in some way to the faith to be allowed to keep the label. Some guys can do a great job with it. I think that Tim Hawkins is the best example of a Christian comedian because he is a man of faith who mocks church stereotypes and just draws people in with his extreme weirdness and, to boot, he also does musical comedy. I love this guy. But not every guy is like that. So we are left with other Christian comedians who are not him trying to fill the other niches. I can recall a series called “Thou Shalt Laugh,” were they assembled an entire night’s worth of Christian comedians to perform. They made five of these things. I love the first two. The third one is the one that got me to stop watching. Not only were many of the acts not funny, but a lot of them actually talked about sexual content. However, they had to dress it up and dance around the issue in a scriptural way.

One just talked about being “procreation.”

One addressed sexual acts as “Never Never Land” and “speaking in tongues.”

One spoke about the look in her husband’s eyes and how, as a sacrifice for her children’s good day, she said she would only take one leg out of her pantyhose.

These made it a really uncomfortable movie night with my grandmother. I still cringe when I try to watch that show again. However, just today I finally watched that Dave Chappelle double feature on Netflix and enjoyed the entire thing. Why is it that when the Christian comedian and the vulgar comedian talk about the same thing, I found one hilarious and the other uncomfortable. Because one is a comedian. The others were Christian comedians. And they have an expectation.

I think I finally understood why so many of my friends said that anything that was Christian in art was garbage when I got my hands on a piece of Christian literature called The Truth Twisters. The thing was so awful I didn’t come anywhere close to finishing it. Everything was awful. It was a book that interrupted it’s own story for the author to explain the plot, and it seriously instructed readers, “Don’t skip these parts, or you might not understand the plot or the message we’re trying to tell you!” Then why did you even write a fictional story in the first place? Christian authors have taught children morals without being insulting. I would totally give my future kids a Wally McDoogal book, despite it being a little childish, because they taught the lesson well and creatively. But also, this was a book for teenagers. Why would you think a teenager couldn’t get this concept that the author was trying to get across? They even went so childish that they created these caricatureish demons that don’t follow a single piece of actual doctrine. Truth Twisters was garbage, even if the moral was something that was extremely important.

However, I think what broke me was that it brought up concepts and it was refusing to commit. The main character is a teenage girl with a boyfriend. Now, the author describes how this main girl feels somewhat guilty, that she is going too far in her relationship with her boyfriend. However, the author makes no attempt to clarify with narration, dialogue, or action what this “going too far” means. This book, that thought it needed to hold your hand to understand the moral and made the enemy such cartoonishly evil and ugly decided that the best course of action when addressing something that young people actually struggle with was to keep it as vague as possible. What is going too far? Are they banging? Is she going down on him? Did like their covered up nipples brush during a make out session? Is kissing considered too far? I would ask if they were implying holding hands was going too far, but that would imply that the author was a hypocrite because that’s all he does to his readers.

But, as you see, he couldn’t dare to talk about sex. This was a Christian novel, not erotica. And that is a huge problem. Because mentioning sex at all removes the label when it is a part of something.

As a writer, I look out for writing opportunities and many Christian publishers come up in my search. I am usually disappointed in what I find, because what they accept tends to be extremely narrow. Typically your characters have to already be Christian. No conversion stories, no testimonies. No character who is of a different faith can be portrayed as a good guy, but if you make them the bad guy they also won’t accept you because that’s considered hateful. So really, no one who isn’t a Christian can be in the story. And you can’t mention sex, unless it’s by making the lovers an already married couple, but you still can’t mention it. You have to play coy and not say anything about that.

Now, I am not advocating for some hardcore Christian erotica to be published ASAP, I doubt I would even want to read it, but at this point you have to see that the Christian Bookstore industry would not accept any part of my story that does not fall into their already pure and blameless section, aka, the entire story.

But who has ever lived a life completely devoid of anything that I’ve talked about? Who has ever lived their life where they only knew the name of one church? Who has lived a life where they only were experienced to one worldview? Who lived a life where sex and death never were discussed or prompted curiosity? Who lived a life where swear words never existed? Who has lived a life completely devoid of what makes truly tragic art? If such a person exists, I feel sorry for that person, because he or she will not know what it is like to truly believe what they believe by choice, but by only having one option and being stagnant. Of course, I don’t want these things to happen, but they do and we need to express these things and understand them better.

I am not saying I don’t want to be a Christian comedian because I want to swear and talk about sex and make fun of people of different groups. No, I’m saying that I want to be a comedian, but who is a Christian rather than labeled as one. I want to stand before crowds and let them see the most vulnerable parts of me and allow them to laugh and learn. I don’t want to address my past experiences with death, sex, or other beliefs because I want to corrupt people, but because these things are a part of my story. They are my story. And to strip these things away means you really don’t want the view of what G-D did in my life, but an after image and me pretending that that’s how things always were.

I do not blame or attack my church for their desire to censor things at a family event, but I think that I’m going to want to try my next comical setting in a much more acceptingly raw environment.

McDonalds Money

McDonalds is the prime example as to why raising the minimum wage does not work.

Maybe I’m coming on a little too strong, but let’s start at the two basic theories of minimum wages.


The economy that we have now is constantly changing. We live in a world where people have families and they struggle at the poverty line because of a lack of easy access jobs and education. It’s no longer a world where kids in high school trying to make a few extra bucks to take so and so out on a date. These minimum wage jobs are now being fulfilled by older people, people with bills and families and the minimum wages at hand are not doing enough to help. Not only do they not cover the basics of living, but the standard of living itself has changed. No longer does a person need to just have a place to live with utilities and enough food to eat, but also a car for transportation, a cell phone for communication, and an internet connection to even apply to a job in the first place. And on top of all of that, even inflation plays a key because even though wages are higher they might actually be worth lower than wages of the past. A person should be able to support his or herself with the job they have, and a minimum wage needs to reflect that. Otherwise, you have people suffering in a job that takes advantage of them to support the company above them. Many liberal states, such as my home state of California, have a higher minimum wage than the federally set minimum wage. In California specifically, it’s currently at $10.50, but it’s going to be rising higher and higher until it hits that $15 minimum wage that was desired by fast food workers (more on that later). The thought is that with a high enough minimum wage, we can finally allow for everyone to be able to support themselves no matter what the job is and everything will be fine.


Now, how could anyone be against the idea that we’re helping people help themselves? Well, there is a pretty hefty counterargument. A minimum wage is what’s called a floor, a price for something that cannot go below a certain value. These help limit the economy along with ceilings, a cap on how high the price for something can go. Why have you never heard of a ceiling? Because nobody likes them. They cause products to be more affordable, but providers will make less money and be less inclined to even sell. Think about it. Why is there no maximum wage? Workers would be furious if they couldn’t get a raise or if currency inflated and they were trapped. We are fine with getting more money. However, floors are typically just as bad. No one would want to buy apples if the minimum price was $5 per apple. Even if there were an abundance of apples, they wouldn’t sell. Minimum wages make it so that despite there being an abundance of people looking to sell their skills, companies cannot afford them. Or at least not as many of them. But corporations have so much money and… wait, corporations aren’t the only businesses that exist? Yes, small businesses do exist. In the town I live in I associate with many business owners who struggle because after a minimum wage increase they are forced to decide: do I fire people and give the few more hours or do I let everyone keep their job but make them all take a cut in their hours? Some even hold to the idea of trickle down economics, that those at the top who are acquiring money will be spending money that will then reenter the economy and every industry will benefit.


Fast food workers in California have won. We have a $15 minimum wage law passed and it will slowly implement itself in the future. Many liberals would say that this would make companies like McDonalds more worth working at, while many conservatives might sneer because McDonalds will have to hire more employees now to make up for the people who lost their jobs at local restaurants. However, as it turns out, walking into any McDonalds right now should shatter any hopeful illusions either side has about the economy. Every time I walk inside one, whether on the richest or poorest side of town, they now have the main counter, manned by people at cash registers for generations, but they now also have person sized computers with touch screens that allow people to customize their order personally. Businesses’ main concerns are about the bottom dollar, not about the people, and it is getting to the point where it is much cheaper to invest in robots and computers that can do jobs now and hire a maintenance crew than to employ an entire team of people, and McDonalds is teasing that possibility. And you would think that people on both sides, who claim to care about insuring that everyone has a job, would take the moral high ground and approach the counter to ensure that the corporate powers at be would see the necessity of their friendly faced workers. However, every time I go inside, I never see anyone at the counter making an order. I, like everyone else, approach the machine, because I don’t want to deal with people and I want to make sure they do not mess up my order. These fast food workers are unnecessary, and by wanting a high minimum wage so badly they are working themselves out of a job.

Now, is this is? Have we doomed ourselves to a bleak future? Are corporations going to choke out smaller business? Are we going to create a worthless currency? Are we going to replace ourselves with robots? Is this the way things have to be? No. No, there is still hope. But there needs to be some work done in order for any of this to turn out alright. And so I look to my last topic of discussion.


Step 1: Let’s All Do The Math On An Appropriate Wage

Even though I personally do not believe in raising the minimum wage as a solution to economic problems, I cannot ignore it’s importance. We had to institute it because of the fact that we once had an economy that gave someone a dollar a day to risk his life without any safety precautions and if the guy died or got scared, there were many other desperate souls out there. Stuff like this helped keep companies in check. But, like many other necessary institutions, it’s beginning to backfire. So let’s evaluate what a proper minimum wage should actually look like. More money always looks good to us, as I’d love to make more money, but we struggle between what a person is actually worth and what will help keep the company afloat. However, we do have to calculate and compare with past minimum wages. A dollar from decades ago is worth more than a dollar today, so we have to be able to look at what a fair minimum wage would look like in equivalence. Also, who is being paid a minimum wage does look different. Decades ago it was teens, today it’s much older individuals. The defense makes sense, in that older people have more time to work and have more experience and are better employees. That’s why I never had a job in high school except with a local photography company on some freelance jobs, and I understand that. However, who in their right mind would think that it’s fair to give the lowest possible amount of money legally allowed to the better workers. Aren’t they actually worth more money? Yeah, give a young guy with no experience that minimum wage, but people who have more experience should be worth and paid more.

Step 2: Let’s Reevaluate This Standard Of Living

People who are working need to be able to do basic things that are expected of them in daily life. That’s sort of the main motivation to work in the first place. But as more and more technology is implemented the standard of living changes. From the beginning of time we needed food, water, clothing, and shelter. But now we need to travel further distances due to transportation innovations, like the car and plane, and we also need to communicate effectively over long distances with innovations like phones and the internet. Our society has deemed them needs and it is hard to live without any of them. My job is a thirty minute drive away, and without a car that is hard to do. If I’m sick, I need to use my phone to call my boss. If I’m taking a class, most things are now online. These things are important… but there is a problem with raising a wage higher just to afford those things. One, I make more than minimum wage and I still cannot afford a car. Shopping for a car is not like buying food. I have to go to a dealership or to a dude’s house and haggle for a good price. Laws set in place make it impossible for a person to set up a car store, where people can walk in, get exactly what they want at the price the market dictates. Phones also have problems. With any other piece of technology, once I buy it, it’s mine, and I can do what I want with it. With phones, I can buy whatever phone I want, but I have to pay one of a few companies to allow me to use their service so that my phone works, otherwise you just bought an expensive doorstop. The worst, however, are internet providers, which are phone and cable companies, oligarchies. These are pseudo-monopolies in a market, meaning that while technically there are multiple companies, there isn’t really any competition in a market. They decide behind closed doors who will offer where and what their prices will be. And when a wage increase takes place, guess who industries become more expensive? If people really want to fix the problem of the standard of living, we either need to remove these industries from being necessary or we need to restructure laws to make them more in tune with the markets and be competitively priced.

Step 3: Let’s Figure Out How To Save Extra Money

While the above necessities are controlled by the people who profit off of others, there are many other industries that are more in tune with the markets, and their prices increase as well. Food costs more. Clothing costs more. Commercial products in general begin to rise. Why? Well, the simple answer is supply and demand. When people have more money, what are they more inclined to do? Keep living the exact same life as before, or start celebrating newfound wealth? Most people tend to fall into the latter. Now that I have more money, I can buy more groceries, or buy more clothes, or buy that game I wanted, or… etc. Suddenly all those unfulfilled needs and wants can be addressed. That means that the demand for everything goes up. When demand goes up, that lowers supply. That means that there is now less of something available. Those who are selling don’t want to run out nor do they want to lose money, so they increase the price. Those who still find it worth it and have the money will pay, while those who don’t will go back to their previous budget wondering when the next wage increase is going to fix everything. This will hurt the poor more than anyone, because the rich have enough extra money and their own influx of wealth is probably larger now too. And the wealthy aren’t causing inflation. The wealthy buy the exact same amount of necessities as the poor. A rich person doesn’t eat more or wear more clothing than a poor person. The rich buy more luxurious things than the poor, but that doesn’t exactly tip the economy in either direction. What I, and many others, need to do is learn how to save instead of spend. If the government wants to be involved, they can create a savings program.

Step 4: Let’s Allow People To Gain Better Education

Do you want to both make more money and have job security? Learn a trade of some sort. Become an expert in a field. Get educated. If someone really thinks they can be in fast food or wait staff or field working as a lifelong career and support their family, they are delusional. I make above minimum wage in a purchasing department because I have an job certificate in Industrial Drawing and I’m about to graduate with an Associates in Science in Industrial Technology. After that I may very well get a promotion and work my way up, possibly even getting picked up by a larger company that can pay me more. I’m worth more than $10.50 because I increased my human capital over time. And so because I don’t want everyone being left in the dust, I propose three possibilities. One, we could pressure employers to be more accepting of an education. I once went in to a job interview for a drafting position, but when I said I wanted to continue my education and that I’d be willing to help work something out, they told me to focus on school and turned me down because they wanted someone who could be there full time. How could I support myself in college if I didn’t have a job? How could I get better at my job if I didn’t go to college? We need to have a culture where it is okay to be in both areas once again, maybe even going so far as to hire more high school students once again. Two, we could open up college to more people. One of the platforms that Democrats like Bernie Sanders believed in is the idea that community college should be free to everyone, and that’s something I can get behind. Would that mean that we would have to cut military spending or raise taxes? Probably. But if we have a population where the average person is able to get an Associates degree, and in some schools a Bachelors, wouldn’t we have a more productive economy? Wouldn’t these people be able to make more money or help the military more effectively? These are the things that are important and this option could help, but there is one more option. Three, we could reform high school education to be less abstract and more concrete. In high school I learned about physics, but I couldn’t go out and get a job as a physicist. In a job interview for a company, I couldn’t exactly use my Math Analysis and Statistics classes to impress my employers. High school helped me in no way to get a job. But, what if all schools had some sort of trade program? In Arvin High School, there is an auto mechanic lab for students to learn how to work on cars. In Bakersfield High School there is an Industrial Technology building where people learn how to use machine tools as well as the Harvey Auditorium, which offers students technical training in the performing arts. Other than that, I can’t think of another school near me that offers anything like that. It’s expensive and falls outside of the set curriculum. But these jobs are so important and having people trained in them is crucial. Who will be the next generation of welders or mechanics or draftsmen? The people who can afford to go to college and get a degree? That’s such a small piece of the total population, and these jobs are well paying. If more and more schools offered these sorts of programs, there would be less people who need to support themselves on minimum wage jobs to begin with.



The stranger’s voice hummed throughout the chilly air of Victor’s cabin. Victor held his eldest daughter, Jenny, close to him and covered her mouth to make sure that no breathing could be heard. He held his own breath with power that he hadn’t had to exert since the last time he held that rifle in his hands.

Steady… steady… steady…

Those words gave Victor strength even though he no longer held that rifle.

The humming continued, as did the heavy clunking of boots on wood throughout the home. And they continued to sit there, frozen, staring at a shut door, waiting for the Hum to pass. As the humming grew closer the mind grew foggier, unable to access thoughts from the other half, or even send a silent plea for help. The only words were the ones that he forced upon himself.

Steady… steady… steady…

Victor’s gaze locked with the door, and meanwhile used his free left hand to reach down to the wooden board right underneath the bed, parallel and closest to the edge against the wall to which he pinned himself. With his fingernails, he could wiggle the board free and, after digging through the straw, pull out a pistol with a silencer already attached.

He motioned with his head towards the bed and let go of Jenny. With fluid silence he quickly slithered over the bed and crept stealthily towards the door. A quick glance back to make sure she was under the bed, and then eyes back on the door, but ears even more attentive. One hand slowly clasped the doorknob as the humming got closer.

Closer… closer… closer…

His breath was back but still slow, wanting to avoid allowing a loud gasp for air to escape. His breath became deeper with each clunk of a step. But as they drew more distant, the more and more he turned the handle, silently.


The door flew open and the gun was drawn, and within seconds the humming had stopped with a massive thud.

“Jenny get a couple towels. We don’t want the blood to stain the wood.”

Victor quickly marched over to the lifeless corpse while his daughter rushed and did what she was told. She handed one towel to her father and began to dab up the blood with the other. Victor used his towel to wrap up the head and began to drag the body towards the back door.

Once outside he laid the body down and removed the blood soaked towel. He rolled the body over to get a better look at him. He had short brown hair on his head and in his barely entering beard. The broken nose was distinctive, however.

“Christ, it was Merly.”

“Dad,” Jenny appeared in the back doorway. “All the blood is cleaned up… Was it someone we knew?”

“You remember Merly, right?”

“Oh gah, no!”

“Yes. Merly. Heh, I still remember when I gave him that broken nose. Deserved it, but I wouldn’t have wished this on him. No one deserves this… the boy was only three years older than you.”

A long silence.

“Dad… am I going to become a Hum one day?”

More silence.

“I don’t know. Unless the GS figures out how to fix this bug or you… as long as your other half dies first you will become a Hum.”

“You’ll have to kill me, won’t you?”

“Yes, Jen. You’d hurt someone otherwise. It’s the program’s survival instinct.”

“Do you think you could?”

A nervous laugh. “It’s not like I haven’t killed someone before. After all, I did use to do it for a living before all this.”

More silence.

“Wanna make a bet as to who lasts longer like this?”

“You and your other?”

“Nah, you and me.”

Victor walked over to his daughter with a smile. “A man doesn’t make a bet he can’t win.”

“You’re right. Except I’m not a man. You seem rather confident you’ll outlast me out here.”

“Yeah. But that’s because now both me and my other half have my training under my belt, so it’s pretty unlikely either of us will die soon.”

“Never say never. I’m just glad you were able to pick up their ability to cook. Now you don’t have to act like they never fed you in the glory days.”

“Able to cook a slab of venison without burning it in exchange for the possibility that I could become one of those things at any moment? Definitely worth the tradeoff.”

A giggle. “Gah Dad, you’re so morbid.”

“Yeah… I guess I am,” he said, just before ruffling up her hair.

“Ugh, cut it out.”

“Aw come on, the only boys out here right now are me and Merly over there… We should probably give him a proper burial before sundown.”

“Good idea Dad. I’ll get the shovel if you make dinner.”

A relieved smile.



She lays on her couch in the dimly lit living room, singing songs to herself as she skims social media on her phone to pass the time. It says 8:08 at the top.

“Eyes as brown as chocolate, with a mouth that tastes of sin, cause when you maintain eye contact the whole process begins, and all that stupid heartache that you got from other guys will fade away to nothing as long as you believe the lies.”

She was home alone. Her roommate was gone, working a late-night shift at CinnaBurger.

“Bitch I’m hungry” she texts Roomie<3

“Eat me.”

“Not into you like that”

“Lol ok fine. What you want?”

“Number 4”

“Have cash when I get home.”

“No promises!”


“K fine.”

“LOve you!”

“U tooooo!”

The light goes out for a split second.

“Strange,” she whispers to herself. “Even my phone went black.”

She sits fully up and says, “Wait, where’d the TV go?”

She stares at the spot where it once sat on the entertainment system, now completely missing. She motions for her phone about to call Roomie<3 when she notices the time. It’s 9:20.

“It was there… I passed out… Slept… but was someone in here while I was asleep?”

She stares in stillness, but calls Roomie<3.

“Hey, Stell, did you come home for your lunch break or something?… Okay, you didn’t break the TV or something before you left did you… Look, I’m sorry, it’s just…”

Footsteps. The sound of footsteps echoes from underneath where she sits. She looks around.

“Did you hear that?… I think there’s someone,” blackout, “here but I don’t know where!”

All lights return. She looks back at her phone. It’s 10:55. She’s had five missed calls from Roomie<3. Panic begins to set in. She runs to escape but ends up flinging herself at empty wall.

“What the fuck! Where the fuck are the doors?”

She circles around. She rushes to each wall of the small living space, no doors, no escape. She starts crying. She starts shouting inaudibly. She backs into a corner and pulls out her phone again.

“Stell…” she can barely get it out, “I know I missed you messages… Please get back to me when you can… call the police I can’t get out…” footsteps return, heading towards her. “Please… Stell please help.”

The blackness returns. The only thing she can hear are her tears. When then light returns to her eyes she reflexively moves and stares at an empty hand. She’s speechless with fear and confusion. She looks around, feels every pocket, as she slides down to the ground. She wraps her arms around her legs and begins to softly weep. She begins to hear creaks and bumps in the walls around her. Subtle cacophony. Then the world goes black again, and I whisper in her ear:

“Eyes as brown as chocolate, with a mouth that tastes of sin, cause when you maintain eye contact the whole process begins, and all that stupid heartache that you got from other guys will fade away to nothing as long as you believe the lies.”

Then all songs stopped altogether.

I Don’t Quite Get It

There’s a song by Tyler the Creator entitled, “Yonkers,” and the very first line of this rap is, “I’m a fuckin’ walkin’ paradox.”

That’s how I’m beginning to feel too.

Let me put my social life into a quick perspective. I am a 21, almost 22, year old college student. I live with an old friend and coworker. I have maybe six good friends, three of which I know through a college group I attend and three that aren’t really in the midst of anything in my personal life. I have other friends, of course, but no one I actively hang out with. The problem is that I don’t really actively hang out with my good friends that often either. After all, we are all adults ranging from the ages of 18 to 25; we have stuff to do with our lives. And there’s nothing wrong with that at all.

I also have not experienced anything intimate in over two years. Yes, no kissing or dating or anything. Over two years. Most people I talk to about that and get all wide eyed and tell me, “Whoa, I couldn’t do that. You’re a better person than I am.” I assume that I receive this type of reaction now and not when I was younger is because I’m at least somewhat attractive now. And I do have a bit of an issue with that, in that the assumption is that I am in some sort of commitment, that I have made a stance and declared from a mountaintop down to the people below that I, Ian Tash, will never enjoy the pleasures of the flesh ever again.

That is not true.

I just got really, really sick of the garbage people hand me in interpersonal interactions and so I became much more focused on tasks once again. I’m about to graduate with an Associates in Science, get a promotion at my job, start living on my own, and advance my reputation as a performer and as a writer. That has been absolutely wonderful.

However, human beings are social creatures by nature. Whether by adaptation or design, human beings have a strong need to be around other people, both so that they can acquire goods necessary for survival and also to pass on their genes through sex. It makes perfect sense. And I make no sense because I’m doing fine and still feel horrible. After all, I don’t have to worry about food, or water, or entertainment, or shelter, or hygiene, or any other need, as I can provide those for myself. I just can’t make babies by myself, and trust me, I do not want or need that in my life right now. Yet despite all of that over time I start to feel miserable and alone. I see people everyday and yet I have this feeling that makes no logical sense.

The logical answer to these feelings, however, is to spend time with people. After all, if my problem is an absence of people, so the solution should be an addition of people. However, I have a short list of friends. And we are all busy. In any given day I have six shots and if they all miss I’m screwed.

“I’m exhausted from work and I need get ready for tomorrow.”

“I have work tonight at the hospital and I need my sleep.”

“I have a date and so it’s for the best I focus on that today.”

“I had an episode and I don’t have the energy today.”

“My family is making me handle errands and I don’t have time.”

“I’ve got band practice until 10 tonight.”

I’ve missed them.

But hey, the easy solution is to make new friends, right? Yeah, like that’s an easy task. In my world, a friend is someone who you desire to spend time with, and I’m a little cautious due to past friendships. Even though I might meet someone who is passionate about Batman and I like Batman and we have a class in common, it doesn’t mean I’ll put up with any emotional abuse they could send my way. I’m cautious like that. Besides, I live in a rural town where its not like we have any big scenes I could meet people. The best place for that is church, and they tend to be either so big you get lost and cling to people you already know or so small that you meet everyone and, again, you are less likely to hit a target.

Okay, well then how about dating? Online dating exists, right? Yes, it does, but being online makes people super flaky; I’ll see someone is interested in me and I’ll send them a message, and no response. What was even the point of reaching out to someone if you had no interest in communicating back? Or if you do talk to or meet someone, another small pool, it is easy to run out of ability to care. This girl can’t hold a conversation to save her life, while this girl has the most scattered brain in the world. How could she not carry an ID with her on our trip together! (That’s a story for another day.)

I’ve danced around a little too much with this topic, because let’s face it, occasionally I do get to fulfill this need for companionship. Sometimes I get to meet up with one of my friends and we play a game together, or we get ice cream together, or we watch a movie together, and we have a conversation and that is so nice. But as soon as I walk through the door of my apartment I begin to feel loathing for myself and my misery becomes even worse than it was before.

That is something I cannot understand.

I have to ask myself, “Can I ever be happy?”

Of course I’ve felt happy. But, why is it that after every happy moment  of my life I swallow it and feel nothing but despair.

I’m a fuckin’ walkin’ paradox.

But I wish that I could meet a person, any one, who could make me feel and remain happy, and that any negativity from them is actually because we are figuring out an issue, not because of the darkness within my own mind.

Kamijo Toma

There’s a phrase that I’ve heard spoken about many men, “Women want him, and men want to be him.” While that phrase just aches of the archaic, since we now live in a world where human beings, which do include women, can not have any sexual desire, men can sexually desire other men, and men and women are considered binary terms and we are reevaluating what those words even mean. But that is a blog post for another day. Today I want to discuss a man who actually does embody that cliché: Kamijo Toma.

Now, who is this man? Well, to be fair, he’s actually a fictional character, not even from this hemisphere. He hails from the land of Japan, the protagonist in the manga and anime franchise A Certain Magical Index. My friend introduced me to the show as late Christmas present in early 2016, which I began to devour and was disappointed when I reached the end and did not have the second season, the film, or either of the seasons of A Certain Scientific Railgun, of which he is also a character. It wasn’t until recently that I got a Funimation Now account and started streaming everything to catch up.

The basic premise of this show is that Kamijo is a boy who lives in a place known as Academy City, the city of schools and the desire to teach people to become Espers (get is? ESPers? They’re psychic but in like a scientific way?). He is what is classified as a level 0, someone who has not yet unlocked any of the known abilities, which range from temperature manipulation to teleporting to producing electricity and the list goes on. He’s not exactly powerless, however, as his right arm has the power to nullify anything he touches as long as he touches it. His adventure’s center around his crusade to shatter all illusions and become the hero to those who need help, especially in the world of magic his companion, the nun Index, and the realm of science with his “friend,” the level 5 Railgun.

Now, back to the clichéd phrase from earlier. Why do I say that applies to him? After all, he’s not exactly an enviable person on the surface. He’s a level 0, meaning that he doesn’t really have any standing in the community. He’s not treated as well as someone like Railgun might be, who sits in the highest level of Esper rankings even if she isn’t the top dog of her level. In fact, this guy, because of his ranking, is deemed to be stupid and shoved into the lowest level classes and even given extra work compared to others. In a society where power and status are everything, it makes sense that many level 0s like him resort to unsavory tactics to try and get a leg up in the world.

But what about his arm? Well, his arm is a powerful weapon, being able to nullify attacks from Espers and magicians alike, but it’s not a foolproof tool. It’s like being given a bulletproof vest for your hand and being told to neutralize a sniper. To survive you are either dodging or you have a very small window of blocking power, and it doesn’t provide any firepower more than a traditional punch. And besides, this arm is the source of some of his problems. He can’t develop an Esper ability because his hand would counteract the effect, and he also has extremely horrible luck because it actually prevents G-D from being able to bless him. This power that may help him in very particular circumstances is a disability in everyday life.

And yet, I still stand by my claim. Women want him, and men want to be him.

Let’s break this down.


A majority of his adventures are a little telling in how Japan views gender differences: a man steps in to solve a woman’s problem, and succeeds, even if the said woman was actually more powerful and capable of a person than him. However, I will say that every woman who wants him was once a woman who wanted to kill him until he beat them in combat. So yeah, guys, don’t worry! If your girlfriend is all mad at you, just deliver a swift punch to the face and she’ll be all over you in the future.

Please don’t actually do this.

But seriously, there are some exceptions to this rule, but there are a lot of women he’s had to fight. And most women in this show actually do have the hots for Kamijo. Index is his live in partner, who get’s jealous whenever another woman seems to even show a hint of possible competition for his attention. Railgun encounters him over and over and get’s embarrassingly flustered, and even performs stunts to make them go on dates. Fukiyose gives him a tough time but becomes flustered by him and even opens up how she just wants to do what’s best for people, even like him. Himegami is blunt and shy but actually does consider trying to get Toma to take her to a firework’s show. This is the short list of people and the list goes on and on.

Even if the guy isn’t getting laid (despite the fact that he actually lives with a girl) it is indisputable that women want him. The only woman that so far doesn’t actively want him was Shirai, a young, lesbian, obsessed middle school student who works in law enforcement, which doesn’t detract from the previous claim. After all, do we allow every outlier to derail an entire experiment’s results? But enough about harping on this. Let’s move on.


Now, for anyone who has seen this show I cannot accept this as a true statement. Sure, some men display jealous qualities about particular elements of his life, but I don’t think a single one of these guys would actually desire to walk a day in the life of Kamijo Toma,

Rather, my statement should really be “Women want him, and men should want to be like him.”

The most toxic notion out there is that all of any one group are a certain way. In this particular instance, I’ll address the concept that all men want sex and all women don’t place sexual emphasis on a man’s looks. Some women want nothing more than physical appearance and lusty satisfaction. I remember the girls who would ogle abs and be extremely shallow, just like I remember the girls who were hurt by horrible guys and wanted someone who actually cares about them. Men are the same way, with some being boob and butt watchers all day and others looking for something that works.

Kamijo is the most asexual man that seems to have ever existed.

As a man who was mistakenly referred to as asexual in my early high school years, I applaud that.

He gets embarrassed when people are naked before him and he actively attempts to avoid sexual contact with people.

Should men want to be like that? Eh. Not necessarily. I couldn’t imagine being married and still acting like this with my spouse everyday. Sex would be on the table. And also would be an option for our daily life.


Really disappointed in myself for accidentally starting and committing to that one.

However, in comparison to many, hopefully unintentionally, sexually harassing types of guys, this is a better alternative. I would rather in a situation where I disappointed a girl by not being forceful enough than be a guy who intimidated a girl who was not either interested or ready into compliance. One of those situations can get you prosecuted. So I can understand why some girls might definitely be into that and that’s something guys should be able to pick up.

However, there is one more trait that I think makes him attractive that men can start picking up: heroism.

Let me just start by saying that there are three different categories of heroism, and the first is the occupational hero. This guy is doing his job. Is it heroic for a firefighter to rush into a burning building, or a police officer to chase down an armed thug? Sure thing. But why do these things at all? Well, a paycheck is nice. But before I get slammed for thinking that I don’t think anyone who does their job can be a hero, let me expound upon this line of thought. A drowning person will consider whoever saved them to be their hero, whether they be a lifeguard or a person who just happened to be nearby. A lifeguard is who is expected to save them. If they fail, there is disappointment. They didn’t do their job. The cops are not the heroes in a Batman comic because they ultimately cannot do their jobs, stopping criminals, as well as Batman can. If Batman were to disappear there would still be police who cannot stop criminals. Meanwhile, if I saw a drowning person or a fire or a robbery and I did nothing, there would be a chance that no one looks down on me; it wasn’t my job, and me trying to intervene can be seen as stupid or dangerous. If I start to drown, burn, or get assaulted, that’s one more person the professionals are going to have to help. But there is a different level of expectation and motives that are at play with the occupational hero, as they are necessary and ultimately needed in society.

The second type are the people who are playing heroes. I’m confident you see exactly where I’m going. These are the people who are wanting to be seen as heroes, so they butt into situations where they have no business being. This is where motivation gets really messy. An occupational hero always has a good motive. Whether they want to make the world better or they want a paycheck, neither of these are evil deeds. Hero players, however, want nothing more than attention. Attention isn’t the worst motivation, but it definitely isn’t the best. Motivation is important to whether something is good or bad. If I tell a rabbi that a Jew extinguishes a fire on the Sabbath, he could be either approving or disappointed. If he did it because he wanted less light or heat in his home, that’s a sin, but if he saved a person’s life, it’s a righteous responsibility. “I killed a man” is another example. If I killed a man because he was trying to kill someone else, that’s acceptable, but if I kill him because he was sleeping with my partner, or perhaps I just get off on killing people, that would be immoral. Even someone giving money can be a moral question, because did they give to help the cause or to make themselves look good in front of other people? Many would claim that the latter makes the act immoral, even if a good deed is done. Those who play hero only want recognition of being a hero, and there are plenty of stories about hubris to prove that this isn’t a good lifestyle strategy.

Lastly, the final hero type are simply heroes. True heroes. Truly heroic. Now hey, am I saying that if these three types did the exact same thing only one of them should be praised? No, not at all, but one definitely deserves a lot more, and its this category that Toma slides into. He is not in a heroic position. He’s not in one of the task forces of his universe. He doesn’t get any compensation for helping people. And he also doesn’t care about recognition. After a mall was bombed by an esper, he protected everyone by standing in front of everyone and neutralizing the blast. However, no one but Railgun knew about that. They all thought she did it instead. She actually confronts him over the issue, trying to push his buttons over the fact that he didn’t get any recognition for his heroism. However, he doesn’t even change his expression. He simply tells her that he doesn’t care about that; to him, regardless of who people think did it, everyone still made it out okay, and that’s all that matters. Can a person still make a paycheck and still have this attitude? Absolutely, and I’d prefer if everyone who had these kinds of jobs had this attitude. My point here is that Kamijo Toma displays an attitude consistently throughout the series that cares for people over praise or pay, and that he is willing to do anything to make sure he can save as many people as possible, and he doesn’t even demand anything for it. This is something that I have not seen in many people, but it’s something I’d like to see in more people, including myself.

Now, will every woman be into someone just because they aren’t sexually aggressive and because they are heroic? No, not necessarily. But hey, if you’re a guy like me, someone who wants to become involved with a good woman, maybe, just maybe, this is the type of example we should look to, you know, as opposed to someone like Little Wayne who made a song where the hook was “My Bitches Love Me.”


I need a shower.