MR. BRAY

Studios, LLC

503-334-7521

       MR BRAY

A boutique design & animation shop that dissolves the line between studio and agency.

The Clueless Poet

It was 1997 and I was a self appointed beatnik. I had a pony tail, wore a beret and went to poetry readings. At 15yrs old I most definitely marched to the beat of a different drummer. I thought the Bible and Socrates had the keys to understand everything of meaning. I played bass guitar in a Christian rock band called Pre-Resurrection and we thought we were deep.


If you're feeling a silly urge to slap this kid you're not alone. But even more than my coffee drinking, bass playing, 90's Christian Rock vibe. I thought I was a poet. I thought from the Odyssey to Dante that the great artists understood lyrically the world around them. Sure I was grasping for any ounce of maturity I could find and this was definitely a proto nerdy incarnation I was going through. But I dug it man. I did. To me being in touch with my soul, talking about Jesus and both things non permanent and the permanent was where it's at.


It all felt like a second skin to me until I began writing poetry for girls I liked. This is where I started taking notes from Walt Whitman and T.S. Eliot. These authors knew sadness. And sadness spoken in flowery language from my 15yr old brain ๐Ÿง  expressed to the opposite sex that you were interesting.


Well so I thought. Now there was a cute girl in my youth group that I had a huge crush on. She made me feel out of breath and a pain in my chest. Her name was Rhea. She had blue eyes and fair skin. Each time I tried to connect with her I felt like I was just stumbling over my words. It was as if my very mouth and brain were betraying me.


Well this is were my genius came to play! I would write her a poem! Yes this would win her over, my wordsmith studies would not be in vain! So I remember staying up all night crafting the most delicate poem. Describing how I felt about her and all expounding on all her many many qualities from her eyes to personality and beyond. I then placed this poem in the mail and sent it away.


Unfortunately she was on a mission trip so she didn't receive it for over a week. The next time I bumped into her she was visibly uncomfortable. Rushing ahead I recited a few lines from the poem and even handed her a necklace which I had purchased for her. I remember it was sterling silver and had blue gems ๐Ÿ’Ž in it, this was the first piece of jewelry I ever purchased for a girl. She looked at the necklace and pocketed it. Then she decide to talk on about how she read my poem. Looking at her eyes I began to apologize to her and she began to spout on about her boyfriend and how great and cute and wonderful he is!


I was shocked and embarrassed. She had already had a boyfriend? When did this happen? Was this real? I later talked to a friend of hers at the youth group and it was legit she had a boyfriend but she just never talked about it. Why? I really have no idea! We weren't friends I just liked her and she was just clearly not interested in me. But infatuation can give you blinders. You can humiliate yourself in front of someone you have feelings for and it can reveal how clueless you are.


That weekend after my embarrassment I was at my fathers parents place and I spoke with my cowboy ๐Ÿค  grandfather Don about what happened. We barely spoke about really anything if I'm being honest. He was a pretty closed off guy and hardly showed any emotion that wasn't serious or laughter. Grandpa Don was for the most part emotionally unavailable, much like my own father.


My Grandpa Don begins to tell me an array of what I still consider bad advice about how it's foolish to tell a girl how you feel and never to write anything down because it'll just embarrass you. But I never saw it that way. Sure I was mistaken that somehow magically my poetry would make this girl have feelings for me but poetry did it for me! Poems made me feel good. And sure it was embarrassing, heck it's a little embarrassing now retelling this but I don't regret it for a second! I was and am in touch with my emotions. I think it's important to know how to express them. Yes you need discretion to know who's the appropriate person to share them with. However I'll never be ashamed for expressing them. Emotions are personal truths welled up inside us.


And it's this unabashed romantic inside me that kept me open when I discovered my wife and best friend, Katie. Sure I was a "Clueless Poet" and a total dork. But I'm cool with that. Yes the beret, pony tail, and Christian rocker personas have all melted away but I'm still a lover of a good lyric and a lover of poetry.


Thanks so much again for reading ๐Ÿ“–

-Jesse

19 & Homeless

It was 2001 when I was 19yrs old and ended up homeless. I had enlisted in the military because I wanted to go to college and that was the only door available to me at the time. Then 9/11 happened and my recruiter pushed out my departure date. So I had to wait another two months to leave for my military training. Well being a kid of 19 I hadn't saved much money beyond my date that I was to leave. So my father said I could do some grunt work at his company, to pay for rent while they let me stay at his house for the two months they pushed out my military date.


However, about a month into working for my father I ended up slipping off a ladder and breaking my arm. That day my father fired me to avoid having me file a workerโ€™s comp claim, then he booted me from his house since I couldn't work to pay rent. The military getting news of my broken arm un-enlisted me. So having nowhere else to go I had to live in my van.


So here I was homeless, with a broken arm and I had to live in my van. By now it was entering early winter time and it was getting below freezing at night. Since I had no money and I couldn't get any work until my arm healed up I was living off animal crackers and dry top ramen. I soon got pneumonia and a chronic cough - even to the point where I was coughing blood. Eventually my arm healed but I was still very sick and it wasn't until I received my tax return that I had money to purchase some antibiotics.


This was one of the saddest times of my life. While this is an uncomfortable story to write. For a time it was my reality. This is where even though stories like this happen all the time. Stories are at the cornerstone of who we are as people. Stories have meaning!     


Stories can give us the power to relate and relay strength, change,heart ache, loss, joy and a plethora of other personal truths. Stories are so much more than a way for us to be entertained and escape reality. We are not alone. Sometimes we need to get real!


If you've read the Hobbit there's a powerful illustration of this villainous dragon named Smaug that ruined a whole city just for the dragon's greedy pleasures. Now there are dragons in our lives sometimes. And even though it's beyond us to imagine how we're going to deal with this impossible monster, that creature is laying on top of an incomprehensible treasure. So let's slay these dragons together and enjoy the treasures of being truly who we are!


Thank you all so very much for reading and I hope this particular post letโ€™s you know you're not alone, and to take courage and care. And if you feel led to reach out to me via email (jesse@mrbray.com) - perhaps you'd like to share a piece of your pain or story I'd be honored to listen. Even more so I highly recommend to please also consider seeking assistance from a certified mental health counselor. They can guide you step by step through your pain like I have. Thank you so much again. ๐Ÿ“–


-Jesse

What's For Dessert?๐Ÿง

My grandfather, Papa Neil ๐Ÿ‘ด was the king ๐Ÿ‘‘ of breakfast foods, especially pancakes. He would make such elaborate pancakes - some with multiple colors and shapes. He'd often  make ninja turtle ๐Ÿข pancakes or even spell out the first letter of your name in your favorite color pancakes ๐Ÿฅž. 

 

It's such a treasured memory that I've even started perfecting my own flapjack flipping skills for my wife and nieces. My Papa Neil's recipe was a bit usual but at the same time classic. He always used Bisquick and seltzer water for his batter and lots of real butter on the grill. He used to tell me "the secret to a perfect pancake is to watch for the bubbles. Once the bubbles are mostly all gone it's time to flip. Then you remember to let the other side cook for approximately the same time it took for all the bubbles to pop." And it works like a charm. Perfectly golden brown pancakes every time!

 

While my Papa was the king of breakfast on occasion he'd take us out to breakfast - usually after church โ›ช๏ธ. One of my fondest memories is when my Papa took my baby brother, Ian and I out to a pancake house. I got pigs in a blanket and my little brother got chocolate pancakes with chocolate syrup, strawberries ๐Ÿ“ and whipped cream piled on top. My little brother, Ian about three years old at the time, smiling ear to ear and face completely covered in chocolate ๐Ÿซ exclaimed right after finishing the last bite "Ok Papa, what's for dessert?!"  

 

We all laughed, though I'm sure Ian wasn't joking he could of gone for dessert haha. 

 

Food is a wonderful way we can connect with our loved ones. Be that pancakes or dessert it's this reminder that food can be the most basic thing to make someone or yourself feel loved. 

 

So today I encourage you to look for a bit of dessert in your day - be that to reminisce on a fond memory or make a new moment.

 

 

thanks for reading ๐Ÿ“–   

-Jesse

My First Crush โค๏ธ

When I was 11yrs old I experience my first real crush. Now I had liked other girls beforehand but it wasnโ€™t until I was 11yrs old that I experienced the sorta puppy crush that consumes your thoughts. Like you know what I mean, you canโ€™t get the person out of your head. You dream about them, you obsess about them and all you want to do is climb to the top of a mountain and profess your undying love for them.


Well herein lies the problem. She didnโ€™t know my name. Worse yet she in fact would never ever know my name. Why? Because she wasnโ€™t real. She was none other than Rogue from the 90โ€™s x-men animated series. Thatโ€™s right my first crush was with a fictitious woman. This super babe, and member of the x-men, Rogue was the love of my life! Well as far as I understood it.


Here I was having awkward dreams of my super powered girlfriend flying me around the globe like a sack of groceries. If this is painful to read to just imagine how painful this is to write haha.


However, this is where the story gets really painful. At this point in my life we were living in this dilapidated house in Rocklin, California. Our home was a stones throw away from the railroad tracks. So frequently used were these railroad tracks that I couldnโ€™t roll over and fall asleep until I heard the sound of a train whaling its cacophonous lullaby.

 

To add more necessary details to this story my room was in the corner of the attic - the house had suffered a fire so I was able to the see the stars at night without any sheetrock, shingle or physical roof to hinder my view. My bed was a sleeping bag on a single particle board that connected between two beams.


So on this one particularly starry night I gazed into the gigantic moon thinking of my lovely mutant crush, Rogue, as the nightly train soared across the tracks. So like a trained animal I fell asleep. Unfortunately I had forgotten to zip up the sleeping bag which kept me anchored in my bed, the safe piece of flat ground between the ceiling beams. So nestled in another romantic dream of Rogue and I flying around like I was Jasmine on Aladdinโ€™s carpet, we started to come crashing to the earth. BOOM! I had rolled off the particle board into the ceiling and away from my sleeping bag. I came crashing through the sheetrock into my sisters room hitting my shoulder on their bedpost tumbling to the floor. Talk about a rude awakening!


So as the annual romantic date night approaches us let's try not to crash to hard from our crushes. Happy Valentines Day! โค๏ธ



Thanks for reading ๐Ÿ“–


-Jesse

For The Love Of Tacos ๐ŸŒฎ

The following is a story that took place while I was working at an orphanage in a border town in Mexico.


Life at the orphanage was relaxed. Day in day out things were pretty chill. Weโ€™d get up early in the morning and take care of the kids, feed them, bath them then go about our day doing odd tasks around to keep the place running.


On one particular day we had a visitor that came to the orphanage that swore he had found the greatest thing ever! He called it โ€œSqueezy-Toesโ€ (most likely a Spanish transliteration of exquisite) they weโ€™re bacon wrapped hot dogs. And he had promised that he would gladly trek anyone of us away from the orphanage for a visit to this allusive and delicious hot dog truck some 40miles away. Well it was fair to say I was more than a little intrigued, being myself at the time a professed bacon-addict!


So off we went on our culinary adventure! These hot dogs were amazing! So I decided on that day whenever I could break away from the orphanage to go on a foodie quest I was gonna headset with this visitor. The next time he arrived he now talked of the greatest tacos he had ever had! I didnโ€™t need convincing! โ€œLetโ€™s go bro!โ€ And like promised these were the greatest tacos Iโ€™ve ever had in my life! Honestly still the greatest Iโ€™ve ever had in my life! However, this story didnโ€™t have a happy ending. While they weโ€™re the most delicious tacos I had ever had they were also the worst gastrointestinal experience of my life. I had caught Montezuma's revenge - basically to spare you the gory details my body was a two way volcano. It was a waking nightmare! I seriously prayed for death! It was just awful. But then a little time had passed. And despite almost dying the memory of those life changing and life threatening tacos crept back in. I started dreaming about them both asleep and awake. The tacos weโ€™re like a tune stuck in your head that you just couldnโ€™t shake. They were calling to meโ€ฆ Jesse we love you! I WANTED THOSE TACOS! Looking back as a grown man I have no idea why I was possessed over those tacos. Iโ€™ve never before or since ever had this level of lust for Mexican food.


So the next time the visitor arrived I demand him take me to those tacos! And like before in my mouth they were heaven wrapped in corn tortillas but in my stomach it was time to pray to my maker to save me from exploding.

 

Yes tacos from a questionable vendor in Mexico might not be wise. But this is a story were as silly as my love for tacos was that I draw strength from. Why? Because it taught me to laugh at the little bit of crazy we do when weโ€™re in love. And in a strange way I feel like a badge of pride as I channeled my culinary hero ๐Ÿฆธโ€โ™‚๏ธ Andrew Zimmern - a man famous for his love of food. Almost dying for authentically delicious food...there's worst was to go I'm sure haha!


Thanks for reading ๐Ÿ“–

-Jesse

Wolverine Was My 4th Grade Tutor


It was the spring of 93โ€™ and I was failing the 4th grade. From the parade of F minuses on my incomplete homework assignments and failed quizzes It was pretty clear I was going be held back a year. However this was no surprise when you looked closer at my life.


My parents got divorced when I was 6yrs old which interrupted my schooling quite drastically. Divorce is messy for those that have dealt with it in any capacity. Adding to that my mother moved us around a lot. Her being a fledgling actress and model our lives were in a constant flux. My 1st grade year I missed six of the total nine months of that school year. From 1st-4th grade I switched back and forth to eight different elementary schools. If it wasnโ€™t for my Uncle giving me a spider-man comic, which I mentioned in a previous story I donโ€™t think I ever would of got over my fear of reading with my dyslexia. So here I was clearly marching towards having to repeat the 4th grade.


Then in stepped my Grandmother. Iโ€™m not sure why it was this was particular time she put her foot down and got involved - guess Iโ€™ll never know, yet I am forever grateful. My Grandmother was a retired school teacher and she taught me the basics of doing my homework before drawing or playing. But more so than that My Grandmother paid attention enough to know how to reach me. She saw how hooked I was on the X-men cartoon and how much I loved Wolverine. She would take me out after school twice a week to an ice cream shop that sold her favorite diabetic candies while she helped me do my homework. Furthermore she said if I got good grades she would send give me a Wolverine comic every week.  One particular time she gave me a Wolverine action figure with retractable claws. The enthusiasm it gave me was the lightning in a bottle! This was a turning point in my educational career. I saw an immediate reward for my efforts which out weighed the boredom of school work. And then soon I fell in love with libraries! It wasnโ€™t enough to just read comics I wanted to learned more and more!


I especially loved reading Encyclopedias since they contained snippets of myths and other interesting stories I wanted to learn without having to read an entire book. The library became my Xavierโ€™s school for gifted children and where I would continually find inspiration for my art and personal comics. In less than two months time I went from an F student clearly looking to repeat the 4th grade to a straight A student winning awards in the Odyssey of the Mind club. It is here where I gained my official nerd status! I loved learning! And while it was the hands of my Grandmother that taught me to buckle down and do my school work it was the claws of Wolverine that hooked me on knowledge and I was never going back!


We all have defining defining moments yet I wouldn't of realized how pivot it was until decades later. This love of libraries and study habits would be my salvation in the years ahead of poverty and trials.


We all have origins of the good and bad things in our life and today it's my heart to reflect on the powerful positive experiences.



Thanks for reading ๐Ÿ“–


-Jesse

Warnings โš ๏ธ & Declarations

As those who are aware this blog lives on my company website - Mrbray.com. So while these posts live on my website they are the opinions and experiences of myself Jesse Bray. The owner of Mr. Bray Studios. 

My company isn't some publicly traded company with stock options or fancy offices. Mr. Bray Studios is just the legal name for my brand. While currently I talk about my team or team dynamics it's truthfully myself that makes up most of my company. Yes I have a "team" of goto artists that I call upon when the projects are right or require the additional help. However, I'm just a small fish in an ocean of all other studios trying their best to stay competitive and a float. If this confession turns you away from my studio I'm at peace with that. Honestly I'm more at peace that I'm expressing my limits. If you think I have the resources of a large studio or that I have command over an army of creatives you're sorely mistaken. I'm just one man that has some great friends, creative partners and some wonderful connections to help you possibly with your design or animation projects. 

What that means is you're hiring me! The "Mr. Bray" - not someone that hangs out under an umbrella of core values or underlings that sorta align with my values. You're hiring the person that wears all the hats at Mr. Bray Studios. And yes if the project is large and wide and requires the "team" I make that happen for you. But I'm your goto contact. What that also means is that if there's a glaring oversight or mistake on the blog or this website it's my fault. I'm just one person. My overhead is lower than a large studio but I'm hungrier than they are!

 

What that also means is while I share opinions and life experiences here in my blog they reflect me not a group of other people's views. They're my values. I'm not hiding behind a brand to pretend like I'm not without my own very personal thoughts on money, or politics or faith. I'm not afraid of a social media disaster - I'm not concerned or "significant" of a figure for that to matter. What that means is if you read something that resonates with you that's genuine and if something rubs you the wrong way understand it's just one persons personal point of view. 

I'm giving these "Warnings & Declarations" because I believe that anyone interested in working with me deserves to know what I stand for and what I don't. I believe that in order for me to expect you to be brave enough to trust me with your creative babies I must prove this first by being open, honest, and bravely vulnerable too!

I also believe that if we're honest with ourselves and recognize we all have dirty laundry ๐Ÿงบ we won't feel so ashamed about our need for help. I'm just a regular guy with an extraordinary story but that's in the end just a regular guy. 

 

Thanks for reading ๐Ÿ“–  

 -Jesse

The Scorpion ๐Ÿฆ‚ & The Frog ๐Ÿธ

There once was a great flood that was taking place and all the creatures nearby the river were fleeing for higher grounds. All except a lone frog ๐Ÿธ. The frog was just enjoying the rising currents in the river and watching creatures scurry. Until the frog heard the cries of a scorpion ๐Ÿฆ‚.


The scorpion ๐Ÿฆ‚ cried out "please, please save me, save me!" Tiring of hearing the scorpion's cry the frog replied. "Why should I do that? You'll obviously sting me and we'll both drown!" Nonetheless the scorpion continued to cry out for help. Until the frog replied once more saying "I'm not going to save you! You're a scorpion and you'll for sure sting me and we'll both drown!" This time the scorpion replied I swear I won't sting you I swear it!" The frog worn down and now convinced let the scorpion hop upon the frog's shoulders. As the frog was half way across the river the scorpion stung him. The frog in agony looked at the scorpion and said "you swore you wouldn't sting me! Now you've killed us both!" The scorpion replied "you knew my nature when you let me upon your shoulders". Then they both drowned beneath the waters.


Often times the moral of this story is that it's foolish to trust a person you know to have a cruel nature. Or another phrase that " a tiger can no longer change its stripes than for a person to change their nature." However I have an alternative thought to this story. You see the frog was unlike all the other creatures that fled from the rising floodwaters. My take is that those who relish in drama will invite tragedy. The frog was a tourists while the scorpion was a karmic suicide assassin. Perhaps the nature of the scorpion was to great to resist the urge to sting the frog even at the risk of its own life. Yet the frog deliberately placed itself in danger.


I blame the frog and the scorpion. Avoid drama or the game of drama and you'll avoid being roped into an unwanted tragedy. Yes avoid people that have proved to be scorpions but avoid floods in general and you'll save yourself a greater risk.


This is just my take on a classic fable. Thank you so much for reading ๐Ÿ“–.


-Jesse

Why I Retired My Podcast? ๐ŸŽ™

Fair warning โš ๏ธ this is a super heavy post.

 

For those new to this blog I used to have a podcast called "Go Forth & Nerd ๐Ÿค“". While I enjoyed the podcast for almost two and a half years I felt it's time had ended. Why?

 

Well I can partial give a stock answer that it ran its course or I grew tired of it. Sure that was most likely a small contributing factor. However the greatest reason is that I wanted to dive deeper and deeper into my personal life experiences that the premise of the podcast lost its light hearted rudder. I wanted to talk about trauma and events that formed who I am. I eventually told some stories that exposed some devastating relational rifts. Primarily with my biological father. His responsibility for me being homeless, me almost dying while living in my van, and his absolute glib attitude about it (a story I intend on retelling in a later post) ended our relationship. I had for many years overlooked the toxic relationship. Therapy can help you remove some really dirty lenses.

So plainly put there was family drama. In the life of the podcast my Grandfather and Mother died and the realization that my father was a monster. My repressed memories and unhealthy acceptance of his behavior just pushed me to not be able to continue my podcast. Which was an important and positive thing for me to do.  

Why am I taking the effort to share this? Well a large part of my renewed mental health is removing the decades old muzzle I've had and finally sharing my stories. We all have pain and that pain is going to be uncomfortable to share. However if we're brave we can learn to love ourselves. And sometimes what might start out as a creative expression can be a personal growth you never knew was possible!

 

I encourage you out there to create and as you're creating don't be surprised if it changes you in the process. 

 

Thanks so much for reading ๐Ÿ“–  

 

-Jesse

Footloose & Fancy Seats ๐Ÿ’บ

 

(Another story from my Papa Neil)


My Papa Neil used to travel often for work in the 80's. And occasionally on a particularly long flight or if he was able to afford it he'd spring for a first class ticket. Now back in those days they'd still provide you a meal on your flight but the meals he said they had in 1st class were excellent. Filet mignon, steamed vegetables, lobster ๐Ÿฆž you name it, it was top shelf stuff. It was a gourmet experience. I'd like to assume it's still this way for those springing for the finer things, I've only ever flown coach.


So back to my Papa Neil treating himself to an equivalence of a spa day in the sky. Suddenly a slim bearded ๐Ÿง” young man sat next to him. They got to chatting like my Papa always liked to do, he really was a people person and quite gabby(which I totally get from him).

Long winded and rambling, it's genetic haha!


This guy starts to tell my Papa some clues that he's a musician and whatnot. Well my Papa was too so they exchanged lots of banter back and forth. My Papa before he became an electrician used to play with the jazz musician Vido Musso. Then as the plane had landed he wished him luck in his music career and off he went.


Not much later my Papa caught a video playing on tv and he saw the same musician he had so recently enjoyed a nice chat with. And it was Kenny Loggin's the famous artist that wrote classic tunes like "Danger Zone" and you guessed in from the title "Footloose".


My Papa always had a flair for treating everyone the same. No ceremony he was just pleased to have someone to chat with. At the same time at the end of the day Kenny Loggin's was just a normal dude. Sure he was pampering himself with a fancy seat ๐Ÿ’บ maybe because he could afford the extra comfort, let's be honest flights will never be as comfortable as a car or a train ride in my opinion, nonetheless every day is an opportunity to make a friend even if for a captive moment.


This story is a reminder to me that even when I'm treating myself there's always a way to include others in some way. Plus it validates my love of chatting with approachable people for the shear joy of it.


Thanks for reading ๐Ÿ“–


-Jesse

Toe Shoes ๐Ÿ‘ž

Now for a lighter story.


Years ago I read an incredibly inspiring book called "Born To Run" ๐Ÿƒ. It stirred a desire to take my the hobby of running to the next level. Running was at that time really the only exercise I enjoyed. I liked the mechanics of it - put your head down and place one foot in front of the other. Seemed straightforward enough.


Well after reading this book ๐Ÿ“š that basic understanding was challenged. I was constantly falling off the wagon of my exercise routine because of injuries. So with my new found knowledge I decided to spring for some alternative foot wear - trail gloves or as I call them "Toe Shoes".


They're quite unusual looking if I'm being honest. And having your toes separated by fabric just felt a bit weird. However aside from my calf muscles working like they've never worked before, my other runner related aches and pains had all but disappeared. So I decided to wear them in a more public setting. I started wearing them on the bus.


Now this one time I walked up to the bus there was a character waiting at the same stop. I say character because this particular guy most definitely marched to beat of his own drummer. He wore a paper Burger King crown ๐Ÿ‘‘, his headphones ๐ŸŽง with ears pointed outwards blasting his rap music, all the while singing ๐ŸŽค along word by word in a very loud and public karaoke like display.


Let's call him the "Paper Burger King"๐Ÿ‘‘. Now the Paper Burger King always kept to himself, even though drawing a lot of attention by his behavior. He wouldn't make eye contact with you or even return a morning hello. Everyone and everything was dead to the world to this guy. He was clearly eccentric. Until the day I wore my Toe Shoes ๐Ÿ‘ž to the bus stop. Something in his brain ๐Ÿง  seemed to struggle with my attire. He couldn't stop starring at them. Then occasionally glancing daggers ๐Ÿ—ก back at me. Even when I multiple times tried to make eye contact with him and a friendly smile he seemed visibly upset by my shoes.


Now I started to feel self conscious. I slowly started to feel embarrassed by my tastes in footwear. I was getting shade for wearing something that made me feel comfortable. I wasn't hurting anyone and I was just being proactive about something I took interest in. Sure it might of been an odd looking piece of fashion. But it was my choice. I slowly started to feel lower and lower during the bus ride.


Finally that evening I took off the shoes feeling like a dummy. Then it struck me. This whole time I was allowing myself to be passively belittled by the Paper Burger King! This guy didn't know me. He wore a paper Burger King hat in public and he was clearly an adult. Why was I letting someone rob me of this thing I enjoyed?!


I've recently been going back to therapy for dealing with some repressed experiences. Some of which stories have and might continue to bubble up in this blog. But the one thing I discovered about a good therapist. Is the non judgmental approach. My therapist is so open and affirming that it has spoken to me in such an amazingly profound way! It's silly to allow others to choose how we feel. And the harm we do to ourselves by giving them permission to be cruel is a down right travesty.


So today if you're feeling the itch for  flair that makes you feel you go for it! And don't let the Paper Burger Kings bring you down!



Thanks for reading ๐Ÿ“–


-Jesse

Breakfast For Dinner ๐Ÿฅž

At four years old and hungry I went to go find my daddy. He was in the bathroom but I had to let him know that my sisters and I wanted happy meals for dinner. As I walked in on him I saw that he was sniffing a strange powder and rubbing his nose. I got sidetracked for a moment then said "daddy can we have McDonald's for dinner ?"


My daddy perked up in an usual excited tone. Smacking his lips and pinching his nose. "You guys want McDonald's! Cool yeah I'll get you guys McDonald's!" As I scurried out of the bathroom in glee I ran to tell my sisters the good news. My dad then left without us noticing. The Night seemed long but uneventful. The three of us kids, my older sister six years old, myself four years old and my younger sister a little over two years old, were left alone all evening.


We all feel asleep in the living room, my sisters on the couch and myself on the floor. Our dad never returned that night.


The next morning I was awakened from sleeping on the floor to my sister chatting and eating breakfast. It was cold McDonald's breakfast and my dad was passed out on the couch.


Looking back I have very few early memories of my father. My parents were separated most of the time, then they finally got divorced when I was six years old. So having any memories where we were alone with my father was exceptionally rare.


The interesting thing about time is how the older you get a memory that seemed etched in your mind but without reason can slowly come to make more and more sense. My father was doing cocaine in the bathroom and ready to dump his kids with the eldest of us, my six year old sister. He never returned because he was out partying. And it's an important note that McDonald's in the 80's didn't serve breakfast all day like they do now.


Why am I telling you this story? Well truthfully I could of easily titled this "The Origin Of My Daddy Issues".  It is here where it all began.  My desire to have a father. It wasn't until I realized later that the closest thing I would end up having to a father growing up was actually my grandfather, Papa Neil. Papa Neil was amazingly kind and loving to me. He listened to me and made me feel valued and important.


You see we're all hungry for love, acceptance and affection. We're hungry for "dinner". But it's a cruel and negligent parent that gives you "cold breakfast for dinner" so to speak. While we all need heroes and guidance at least the worst of us can serve as bad examples. Knowing this in itself can help us understand what we truly need in life. So I encourage you today to ask yourself what it is you're in need of and don't settle for "breakfast for dinner".


Thank you so much for reading ๐Ÿ“–


-Jesse

My Inner Kingdom ๐Ÿ‘‘

My bedroom was in the attic in our Rocklin California home. I was ten years old and I loved staring at the moon through the burnt slats and large missing portion of the ceiling. My bed was a sleeping bag and pillow on a particleboard between two beams. The only way up or down was by a ladder that my stepfather would remove at night when it was time for me to goto bed. I had to be careful slipping into my sleeping bag because most of the attic was exposed or unfinished. If I rolled even slightly I could easily fall through the ceiling onto my sisters bedroom, which happened once, or even worse I could fall straight onto the concrete kitchen floor.


We were squatting in a house that had sustained a large amount of fire damage, primarily the roof top which was where my attic sleeping area was. Luckily it hardly ever rained. But I remember fondly a summer breeze that would rush across my face, the moon as bright as day and the soft sound of the crickets outside. We were also less than a stones throw from the railroad tracks. My grandfather had instilled in me early on a love for trains. Though I know now he wouldn't ever allowed us to squat in this dilapidated house if he had a clue. Nonetheless late in the evening the low rumble, the teeth chattering sound of massive engines and steel gears would tear through the night air. And each night it was the most soothing lullaby. It even got to the point to where no matter how tired I was I just couldn't fall asleep until I heard an evening train cut through the nearby tracks.


This of course is a bittersweet memory in many ways. I was exceptionally poor and had little to myself. Yet it was these evenings looking into the moon, the scent of train tracks and the summer breeze that gave me the greatest waking zen I had at this time. For once I had fallen asleep I was no longer the pauper kid in a charred attic but a king of worlds. It is here were I discovered my greatest super power. The power to escape through my fantasies. And the most wonderful thing about this inner kingdom was that no cruel force could take this away from me. This peace was always just another nights rest away.



Our dreams can be our sanctuary. They can offer a salvation for waking nightmares or a sweet escape to a better present. My dreams saved me and have for many years. As a grown man I now see that dreams while wonderful can often dilute the importance of being tethered to the happiness around you. Yet this particular time I vividly remember finding my peace by discovering my inner kingdom.



Thank you all for reading this very intimate and personal story ๐Ÿ“–


-Jesse

Music Is Like Faith ๐ŸŽถ

On February 10th 2018 my mother lost her battle with cancer. She was only 59 years old and she died in a Canadian hospital. I never got a chance to see or speak to her before she passed but I did get a chance right before the end to send her a goodbye audio message. It was a heart wrenching and soul crushing time for me, beyond just losing my mother. My mother and I were estranged. While the discovery of her cancer in November on 2017 was news to me I knew my mother was unwell for many many years prior. My mother was mentally ill. And her mental illness was the greatest component to why we were not on speaking terms.

Itโ€™s difficult for me to write this however as I approach her one year death anniversary I need to share the things Iโ€™ve been processing. If by chance youโ€™re the kind of person that finds faith, belief in God or an afterlife offensive, if you choose to continue to keep reading please keep in mind this is about my experiences and what I personally believe. I believe in God and I believe in the afterlife. Iโ€™m a Christian albeit with Iโ€™m sure a great many contradictions in my beliefs both personal and political. I could say Iโ€™m probably more liberal than most and maybe more conservative than some. Yet to me faith is such a beautiful thing. I liken faith to music. Music isnโ€™t just about parties or good times. Music is a comfort to the highs and the lows. Music can help you feel less alone, be your friend, or even be that depressing little companion when youโ€™re feeling down. Music can understand you better than a lover or intoxicate you into a roller coaster of emotions. Music much like faith can be intellectually stimulating or shallow and very surface. The correlation to life events are often marked with both music and faith. We celebrate our weddings and solemnly conduct our funerals. Music and faith are even crossed over into each other as they both can express a depth or thirst deep deep within our dry and parched souls.

It is this comfort and solace I take in music that Iโ€™ve had profound revelations and wept the most deeply. It is also the place where Iโ€™ve experience Godโ€™s love and a universe of pain. The day my mother died was a Saturday. I had received the news that my mother was approaching the end and was no longer speaking. I drove my car to a park overlooking some water and saw a group of Canadian geese. I had my journal, my bible open and a song on repeat. The song was โ€œPsalm 36โ€ written by King David and performed by the band Third Day. The song was inspired when King David was fleeing for his life from supposed loved ones that were trying to kill him. David also a musician eventually turned the verses that despite all the hardships around him the creator of the universe still loves him and all creatures. For me I found great comfort in this song. It makes me feel connected. Connected to the pain of one of the greatest Kingโ€™s in history and connected with the pain we all experience. And itโ€™s this pain that leads me to finally be comforted. I believe my mother is with her maker and that while my heart is broken Iโ€™m free to begin to heal. If you are hurting know you're not alone and thereโ€™s a song that understands.

I miss you mommy,

your son

- Jesse

The Broken G-String ๐ŸŽป

The stage was packed, the tent โ›บ๏ธ mostly empty and the crowd was killing time between a better act. Yet the seven of us were playing our hearts out.


It was a sweltering summer day at this Pacific North West punk and indie festival. What a folk band had any business there I'll have no idea. I was the bass player and there to do a gig. We had rehearsed enough times to where I was if I'm being honest a bit bored with my parts, but enthusiastic nonetheless.


Then in the middle of the set something that that had never happened to me before. I broke my G-String.


For those not familiar with the anatomy of a bass guitar ๐ŸŽธ - typically you have four strings: E,A,D, & G. The E being the largest and the lowest sounding string and and the G being the thinnest and lightest sounding string.


So here I was in the middle of the set and I broke my G-string. Not an uncommon thing if you're a guitar player. When you're wailing on a guitar especially if you play a lot of events you might need to replace your strings once every other show. But Bass strings are different, they're durable and far more expensive. So to break one during a mild and mellow folk performance is practically unheard of. 


So I quickly improvised - since I knew the songs backwards and forwards it was easy to adjust my  bass lines. Then while we were still playing the same tune another string broke, my A-string. This was more complicated now that I needed to adjusts my notes to skip the missing string and play entirely on the E & D string.


Not thinking ahead I didn't bring any additional bass strings so I figured I could handle the rest of the set now that I had adjusted my frame of mind. Then the D-string broke. Here is when I started to sweat. I had to finish this entire concert with just one string.


We wrapped up the show, enjoyed a few claps and began to pack up our stuff. All the while I had never played a more intense and heartfelt performance! No grand applause and no after performance accolades. We were just filler at a musically stuffed event. No one would remember our show and I eventually left that band.


Yet sometimes life is like that. You can pour your heart and soul into a thing in front of you. And barely anyone is watching. You can work your part so well that if even under unforeseen changes you can still make it work. Yet it can amount to not much more than a story. Why am I sharing this experience?


Well you see even with a packed stage and a crowd most likely bored I had an absolute blast playing that show. Of the close to a hundred shows I had played with that group ranging from some smaller and some significantly larger audiences - none of the shows combined were as fun as that performance!


Life isn't about praise it's about playing your heart out until the music stops. I haven't forgotten that show because it stretched me. It still stretches me. When I'm caught up on approval I stop approving the very things that make me happy.


So perhaps today if you're feeling a bit blue because your work isn't finding momentum. Remember it's important to stay tethered to the joy of performing.



Thanks so much again for reading ๐Ÿ“–


-Jesse

The Diver ๐ŸŒŠ

My Granda Neil used to tell this story about when he was in the Navy...


Living out at sea on a naval destroyer it was easy to feel bored and even more so little privacy. So perhaps it was a combination; his fellow crew mates on the ship ๐Ÿšข would often tell these elaborate stories of special talents they possessed without ever having the opportunity to prove it. One guy said he was an incredible craftsman, another that he could beautiful play the piano ๐ŸŽน and so on and so forth. Each sailor boasting a skill they never had to show. Now Neil came up with a lie that I'm itself wasn't very bright - he said "I'm an amazing diver".


Fortunately for him he spent most of his time below in the sonar room. There seemed hardly a time despite being surrounded by the ocean that he would ever have to live up to his alleged diving skills. Until one day his ship the U.S.S. Loftberg was in port and the crew had some time to kill. They looked over at Neil and said "Hey Neil why don't you show us your diving skills". Neil stuck between facing his lie and the tower cliff of the destroyer he opted to just dive in.


He leaped over the edge and plunged into the waters. His body rushed through the depths until his head sunk shoulders deep into the sand. Floating back up to the surface his ears ringing, eyes bloodshot, blood coming out of his ears and nose - his crew mates surrounded Neil in cheers saying  "wow Neil you are an amazing diver!"  Learning his lesson Neil smiled and decided he'd never dive again.



Thanks for reading ๐Ÿ“– 

-Jesse

โ€‹The Everlasting Jawbreaker ๐Ÿญ

When I was a kid circa summer late 1980's there was a specific candy craze (among the many) going on regarding these giant novelty jawbreakers. Every kid my age seemed to be sporting a softball ๐ŸฅŽ sized white Jawbreaker. Every kid except me.


Looking back at this fad I remember feeling so left out by not participating in the Jawbreaker consumption. Until I finally scrounged together the cash ๐Ÿ’ฐ to purchase my own novelty giant Jawbreaker.


The first thing I noticed when I tasted this Jawbreaker was how chalky and undesirable the actual flavor was. In kid terms it tasted like sugary envelope glue. Not only did it taste bad it seemed impossible to make any progress on this Jawbreaker. Every kid I knew had trouble consuming this candy down to the rumored rainbow ๐ŸŒˆ core. Other kids had heard stories that the center of the Jawbreaker was the best flavor you could imagine. Yet none of us could make a real dent in it. We had heard of a kid that tried to use a hammer to crack the Jawbreaker but when we tried it ourselves the Jawbreaker just bounced away with barely a chip.


The weekend after I had purchased this Jawbreaker I was invited to a pool party. To the utter disgust of every grown up I knew I had brought along my Jawbreaker. I had been working every waking minute trying to lick this Jawbreaker down like a gentle chisel. Still by the weekend I had left only a slight groove.


Knowing that I was heading to a pool party I brought along a plastic bag to wrap my Jawbreaker in between dives into the water. I didn't want my candy to touch the chlorine. After diving then retreats to lick ๐Ÿ‘… the Jawbreaker, rewrapping it up in the plastic bag then repeating the same action at the pool party another kid looked at me and said "what's wrong with your tongue?" I ran inside to find a mirror. My tongue was white. What I hadn't realized is all the while I was attempting to erode this colossal Jawbreaker with my tongue the Jawbreaker had in turn wore my tastebuds raw and turned my tongue white. It was there that I threw away my Jawbreaker - it had won and I was officially over this candy. ๐Ÿญ


It took me a few days for my tongue to heal and begin to be able to taste regular food. Eventually a classmate showed me that they were able to dissolve their giant Jawbreaker in a warm bowl of water to reach the rumored candy core. However by this time I was disinterested.


My greatest take away from this story is had I been honest with myself I knew from the very first taste. This everlasting Jawbreaker with an awful flavor became my obsession. I'd like to say it was a lesson in endurance yet it was more a lesson that if at the first experience you're not enjoying something put it down and move on. There's no need to torture yourself with something that doesn't fit your tastes.



Thanks so much for reading ๐Ÿ“–


-Jesse

๐Ÿ•ท A Spider Eat Spider World ๐ŸŒŽ 

This one time while I was sitting taking care of nature's business ๐Ÿšฝ at a coffee shop restroom a large spider ๐Ÿ•ท began to crawl towards me. I wasn't exactly interested in it making its way towards me in my predicament.

As this large determined looking spider was within an arms reach from me suddenly an even larger more terrifying spider leaped from out of the shadows and made a quick meal of the spider that was headed towards me. As the monster spider finished consuming the other spider it then hurriedly slipped under the door frame and out of my life.

It was a sort of spectator cinema that was both fascinating and horrendous. Yet nature's drama is right beside us all the time. All around us creatures and humans alike are toiling - determined and often unaware. To quote my favorite Shakespearean line "All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts..." Theres a bit of theatre in ever corner of the world. I find this strangely comforting - somewhere thereโ€™s a spider eating another spider all while someone is just trying to use the restroom. Haha

Until next time thanks for reading ๐Ÿ“– 


-Jesse

Nurse Elvis ๐Ÿ•บ๐Ÿผ

My grandfather used to tell a story about a nurse that strikingly looked like Elvis, or perhaps wished he was Elvis that took care of his father when he was under bed rest.


It was around the 1970's and this Nurse Elvis ๐Ÿ•บ๐Ÿผ would blast his rockabilly tunes over the radio ๐Ÿ“ป despite the desires of his patient, my great grandfather and my grandfather fathers dislikes.


Furthermore Nurse Elvis ๐Ÿ•บ๐Ÿผ was often late to work, would leave early and often left his general caretaker responsibilities to fall by the wayside. It was frustrating to say the least. My grandfather ๐Ÿ‘ด said that he wasn't sure what to do since he wanted to fire him but there just wasn't as many options back then via caretakers that we're affordable and would come to your home. Plain and simple Nurse Elvis was a spacey lazy caretaker. He would often raid the refrigerator without a request and if there was any sort of food stuff or beverage within his reach he'd have at it.


This became especially annoying for my grandfather as he was watching his father slowly fade away. Now my grandmother had always been a collector of vintage things and one particular collection she had was of original Coca Cola bottles that dated back to the 1800's. So far back indeed to where Coca Cola still used to use cocaine in their recipe.


Now no would in there right mind would of ever considered drinking this ancient brown liquid. No one except Nurse Elvis ๐Ÿ•บ๐Ÿผ. He cracked opened a couple bottles and downed them like he was a fish drinking water. My grandfather was both enraged and curious since Nurse Elvis had consumed this seventy plus year old soda. What would happen? Well Nurse Elvis ๐Ÿ•บ๐Ÿผ put in the best day's work of his life! My grandfather said as his anger subsided seeing "Nurse Elvis ๐Ÿ•บ๐Ÿผ wired-up from the vintage Coca Cola made him wish he had more to give him." Nurse Elvis not only finished all his work, stayed late for the first time, he also cleaned ๐Ÿงน๐Ÿงผ๐Ÿงฝ the place spotless floor to ceiling.


I love this story because it reminds me of how perhaps not the best way to accomplish the work we do we could all use a bit of a pep in our step. Maybe we're all just an energy drink away from our most productive day ever! Haha


Thanks for reading ๐Ÿ“–



-Jesse

The Lion ๐Ÿฆ & The Man ๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿป

(Retelling of an Aesop Fable)


This one time The Lion ๐Ÿฆ and The Man ๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿป were in a heated argument. Each one claiming to be greater than the other. The Man said to the Lion "I can prove that man is greater than Lion, follow me!" The man proceeded to lead the Lion to a statute of Hercules that depicted him killing a Lion with his bare hands.


The Lion replied "that proves nothing! For you see this statute was clearly made by human hands!"


The moral of the story is - truth is in the eye of the storyteller.



This fable is such a healthy reminder that as storytellers we control the lenses in which the viewers see the world.

It has become clearer and clearer these days as snippets of media make headline news or opinion pieces front as journalists research that we keep our integrity intact when relating our personal narrative.

No one is without bias and there's always more than one side to a story. In someways this fable shows the power of breaking our own fourth walls so as not to purposefully deluded the consumers of our stories.

I personally believe this makes journalism a higher calling yet it's unfortunate that what sells news isn't values but sensational statements. Perhaps this is just some food for thought when we see or hear a story that our gut is having trouble believing.



Thanks for reading ๐Ÿ“–


-Jesse