What is Shiny Jimi? Why, it’s the name of the protective sleeve for this month’s issue of Guitar World!! It’s to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the release of Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland. I’m gonna read it when I’m done posting.
I had my 90-day evaluation today and good news everyone: I didn’t get fired!! Yay.
In other news, I tried to look for a music store in Wapak and couldn’t find it. I’m gonna try again later when I have some moAr money for gas.
Man, this post is short! I’ll try to make it up to you guys by ending it with an amazing solo by my No. 2 favorite guitarist, Paul Gilbert! Enjoy!
Good morning, it’s TheAndySan hurr feelin’ sleep-deprieved due to allergies.
A week ago, I read a post on Xanga by my friend Jimmy that I thought was quite exceptional. Here’s a link to it, but I’ll show the post here just in case it gets moved or whatever:
It was a rainy Thursday, October 26th, 2006. I remember that. I was bored and had nothing to do, so I had a friend come over so we can discuss songs we can do for our school’s “air-band” competition later in the year. These were the kinds of things my friends and I would normally do. If we aren’t sitting around talking about starting a band or our next idea for an independent film, we are trying to get ready for something else that could be fun later. Joel (my friend whom I was collaborating with) and I thought of some pretty good songs for air-band. Nothing was set in stone yet, but we were still discussing what we could do.
Then my dorm phone rang. When that phone would ring, I knew that it was one of two people: my dad or my girlfriend at that time. Well, my then-girlfriend was practicing a dance with her friend, so I knew it couldn’t have been her so theoretically, chances were, my dad was calling. I answered the phone, and sure enough, it was him. Along with his call, he brought along the worst news I have ever heard up to that date. Dad said, “Jimmy, you aren’t going to want to hear this, but your friend, Austin killed himself a couple days ago.” I was deeply saddened and heartbroken, but I didn’t cry. I had Joel in the room, and I had to be a man about this… because obviously… men don’t cry .
My dad went on to tell me exactly what had happened. Or what he had heard anyway. “He walked into a cemetery, sat under a tree, put a few plastic bags around his head, and ducttapped them so that they would be airtight, thus, suffocating himself. He had a note with him too saying that he didn’t do this to get anyone upset and that he wasn’t depressed. He said that he has been all over the world and tried different religions and different lifestyles. He just couldn’t find what he was looking for in this life, so he wanted to see what was waiting for him in the next life. It’s so bizarre.”
When I got off the phone with my dad, I told Joel, who knew something was wrong, what happened. I told him that I needed to be alone for a little bit, so he left. Then I sat in my chair and I thought… I thought, “How could somebody so smart be so stupid? I can’t believe how selfish that was! How can somebody do that to themselves? How can he do that to me?” Just then, I got up because I knew I had to talk about it. I ran in the pouring rain to track down Tesia (my then-girlfriend) because she was the only person I could talk to about it. I interrupted her dance practice with her friend. I said, “I need to talk to you for a minute.” She said, “Ok” and walked over. We went into a piano practice room and I shut the door. I said, “Austin…” and before I could say the rest, my eyes filled with tears and a lump formed in my throat. “…killed himself” I finished. She comforted me and made me feel better, but I couldn’t help but feel partly responsible for his death.
I first met Austin our freshman year of high school. I didn’t really talk to him at first. He was the weird kid from Michigan who had extremely thin hair which he kept about chin length, even though he was prematurely balding, he had maybe 10 good teeth, and an unusually thick beard for a 14 year old. I didn’t really have a desire to get to know him… plus everybody picked on him, so to actually talk with the kid would be social suicide.
One day, I got back home from school and my ex-step mom, Renee, asked if I knew an Austin Harris. I told her that I knew of him, but I never really talked to him. She then told me that she and his mom are really good friends and that Austin and I should get to know each other. I reluctantly agreed with her, but since I was a nice guy, I decided I would give it a shot.
The next day, after school, I saw Austin walking home with his head down, his hands in his pocket’s, headphones in his ears, a backpack over one shoulder and his sweatshirt’s hood up over his head. I called out, “Austin!” and I ran over to him. I asked him, “Does your mom have a friend named Renee?” He said, “Yeah. I haven’t seen her since before I moved to Michigan, but my mom knows a Renee. Why?” I then told Austin that Renee was my step mom. From then on, we walked back from school together just about every day. He and I would get into some pretty deep conversations and I kept most of my viewpoints to myself until one day when he was talking about how he and his dad believe that they were vikings in their past lives. Then he started talking about our animal instincts and the need to take what we find and claim it as ours. He said that this is our evolutionary inheritance. I told him right there, “Austin, you know, I am a Christian and I don’t really believe in past lives or evolution.” The guy looked at me like I was nuts. “How can you not believe in evolution?” he asked. “The proof is there. It’s what we base all our science off of…” and he rambled on and on about this, and I found a way to shut him up. I said, “Austin, science can’t prove everything. And I believe that one day people will look back on the idea of evolution and laugh just like we laugh at the world being flat today.” He looked at me, smiled, and said, “Jimmy, your religion makes no sense.”
From then on, Austin and I would get into arguments and heavy debates about really stupid things. It was really stupid of me. He would normally school me big time, but I would carry on as if I had won the debate. Austin had a really high IQ. He was actually a genius. He knew everything about everything. But I had one thing he didn’t have. That is street smarts. I knew things too… but in a different way. I felt them. He just knew them.
One day, Austin and I were in an argument about euthanasia. He was for it. He told me how he watched his grandfather suffer and die from cancer and he couldn’t imagine himself going through all that pain. And then he went on to say that he DID think that suicide is wrong unless you know you are going to die painfully. “I would never actually kill myself.” he added. Of course, I thought it was dumb. I didn’t agree with it, but I couldn’t exactly tell him why it is wrong because I trusted my feelings. He trusted stats. I could never get him to see it from a Christian worldview because he wasn’t a Christian.
One day, I heard our Church youth group’s winter retreat was coming up. I knew that I needed to invite Austin. I told him about it and he agreed to come. During the retreat, he heard a sermon that touched his heart. He gave his life to Jesus that night. Or so I thought. He said the little prayer thing with the speaker, and I was really happy. I praised God for letting Austin “see the light.” When he was done praying, I walked over to him and I told him, “Congrats Austin. But this is a huge step. It’s a big commitment.” He looked at me and said, “Jimmy, this doesn’t mean anything changes.” I didn’t say anything. I just smiled because I knew that it would be the Holy Spirit that would get him now.
After that retreat, I almost stopped talking with Austin. Not on purpose. It just sort of happened that way. But he did come up to me one day with a picture he made in one of his computer art classes. It was the Pink Panther nailed to a cross. He was telling me about it. I told him that I found it offensive. He said, “Jimmy, Jesus wasn’t the only person to die on a cross… and, this is just funny. But the bitch teacher gave me a C on it.” Now, I did agree with him that it deserved better than a C. It was actually done well. I just found it incredibly offensive.
That was when I really lost track of Austin. The last thing I had heard was that he was a buddhist, bisexual pothead and he was going to school at the United World College in Wales, England. I received a couple e-mails from him telling me how awesome swedish chicks are and how he was enjoying Wales. But I don’t know if I ever responded. One day, at the end of the summer, I was ready to start College at Wright State University. I had a great girlfriend, and a job, and everything was going well for me. Then I got a knock on the door. I opened it, and it was Austin. He had shaved his head and shaved off his beard. We talked for a long time about a lot of things. Then we both lit up a bowl and went for a walk. We got high and I was telling him that I don’t agree with smoking pot but I was in the mood to celebrate… after all, it wasn’t my first time smoking pot. He said, “Jimmy, you need to be yourself. You are a Christian with good morals. You don’t need to be doing this.” I was stoned. He said a word that I thought was funny and I laughed about it… and then we both laughed about it for the rest of that night. That was in the late summer of 2004.
Again though, I lost track of Austin until about June 2006. My cousin had her graduation party and Austin was there. Once again we caught up on old times. We had conversations about God. Austin was then, more of an agnostic. He told me, “I know there is a god. But what that god is, I really don’t know.” Well, at the time, I was helping out with a college-aged, Tuesday night biblestudy we called Gen-Y for generation Y. I invited him to come. He said he would think about it. Then, Tuesday night rolled around and much to my surprise, Austin walked in. He really enjoyed the talk and the music. Our bible study leader, Tod, made plans to go to a David Crowder concert in Dayton in July. I asked Austin if he wanted to go. He said he really wanted to. So July came and we went to the concert. David Crowder puts on amazing shows. It was nice and God was totally there. Tesia and I even got to meet David Crowder. But we had a problem. We had to park about a mile away from the stage and we had to carry our lawn chairs there and back in the burning hot sun.
After the concert, Austin disappeared. We couldn’t find him. We assumed he started walking back to the van earlier. As we were walking back in the heat, we saw Austin next to a river. We called him over and told him we were heading back. He ran over to us. “Where were you?” I asked. “Oh, I got hot, so I went to the river for a quiet reflection and to cool down.” he said. “Yeah, that must have been great. I should have thought of that too. It is so hot and on top of that, we need to carry these chairs all the way back to the van.” I said. “Jimmy, why are you complaining? Do you realize how many Christians I heard complaining on the way back to their cars? Too many. You guys witnessed something great in the name of God and all you can do is complain about the heat and the long walk? That’s shallow. You should be ashamed. You should be happy that you got to worship God outside in ‘his creation’.”
Austin was absolutely right. I should have been happy. And then I realized that sometimes it takes a nonbeliever set a Christian back on track. From then on though, I didn’t see Austin at Gen-Y anymore. And he hadn’t been going to church with me like he told me he would. I tried calling him to tell him to come back… he would always say, “yeah, I’ll make it there. I’m just busy.” Eventually, I just stopped calling and I lost track of him again. That is, until my dad called telling me that he had killed himself.
I know that his suicide was not my fault. But maybe I could have done a little more. Maybe there is a lesson here. Austin was so close to realizing who God actually was. And then he saw some Christians who didn’t seem to be grateful to have such a good God. Now who wants to be a part of a religion where they can’t show a little gratitude to their own god? Or to the gift of life that our God has given us. Why do we worry about the little things like long walks in the heat? Isn’t God still a good God? Hasn’t he given us the shade and the waters to help cool us off and to quench our thirst? I learned something from all of this and it has been on my mind a lot lately. That is, we need to humble ourselves and be grateful for what we have, including life, itself because even though things seem rough, God has given us ways to make it a little easier on us. Like shade on a hot day. Or people to help you when you are down. And don’t take advantage of friendships and times to reach out. It could make all the difference in the world to someone.
Austin was my friend. I didn’t always treat him like a Christian should, but I learned a lot from him. He learned a lot from me too. But what will always be there, in my memory of Austin, are the marks from a seal that was almost put on his life by the Holy Spirit.
I meant to show Jimmy’s post a bit earlier, but I didn’t get around to it because I had wayyy too much on my mind last week.
Well, I’m gonna end this post by sharing some YouTube Gold that I found. His name is Speedy Halworth and he’s awesome!! Enjoy!