Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Home Sweat Home

My palace in the heart of darkness.  I have not one, but two porches.  Sweet.


As I was walking to school the other morning, passing by the random orange lizard things as they chased down the random gray lizard things (those sneaky bastards), listening to the ponderous creaking of the vertiginous patches of bamboo that are strewn all over the place, I realized something: this place feels like home to me.

Which got me thinking, in that thinky way I have, about homes I've had.  I've lived in many places over the years but I would call very few of them home, as in a place I have that sense of belonging with, a place I would feel comfortable dropping elbows and randomly flexing at the sunrise, Lion King style.  I would say, when I look back, I have had four places I would actually call home: my Grandma's and Aunt Chrissy's houses (those cozy bastards), St. John's College (that saucy bastard), Myanmar (that greasy bastard) and now, here in Kinshasa (Goddamn it's hot out here.)

The reasons why I would think of these as homes would be far too long and self aggrandizing for this type of drunken blog, and only interesting to those people who are working feverishly on my autobiography (hopefully titled A Man and His Guns: Lippart, a Life Lived).  I will say, however, that the stories I can tell about life in those places run the gamut from terrifying to heartbreaking to uplifting to incredibly awesome.  In other words, I basically rip off the plot from Toy Story 3.  With a bit of The Muppet Movie thrown in for extra spice.  But most of us, I would guess, have stories like that; maybe that's what having a home means.  Either that, or digital cable.

So what's the point of this rant?  I guess just this, dear singular reader:  if you have a home now, I hope you realize how awesome that is.  And, if you are looking for a place to call your own, a place where powerslides (or whatever it is you do instead) are not frowned upon, good luck, and feel free to swing by during your search and have some beers.  You can have a free random gray lizard thing as a welcome gift.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Reflections, Refractions.

This picture has nothing to do with the blog entry.  But man, good times.

So, I am sitting here, sans pants, getting ready for our big "Let There Be Light" rager down here in the heart of darkness, and am in a reflective mood, perhaps due to the fact that my St. John's homecoming was last week.  Or, maybe more logically, because I have been drinking greasy Sangria for the past 45 minutes, which is like one step removed from Swish, itself a minimal improvement on fish liquor.

Either way, the point is this:  Ten years ago I was graduating from college (my third college, man I'm fickle), and wondering where life would take me, how would I survive, and what sort of pants would people wear in the future.  I am here to say that life has taken me to both the farthest corners of the earth and the strangest cubbyholes around those corners (mostly containing illicit footwear and weird bangly things).  I have survived quite well, and in the future they still haven't moved into star trek style onesies.  Hopefully soon.

How did I get here?  How did I get to a point in my life where, at 34, I am living in the DRC, drinking greasy Sangria, and getting sexually aroused by the sound of my generator kicking in?  

The answer may surprise you, dear reader.  It was because of one man- John Balkcom, the former president at St. John's.  He had given us a speech a few months before graduation where he said that if we needed any help, come to him.  Three weeks after that, with my Peace Corps service fallen through, I had no idea what I would be doing when the day came to leave that delicious nest.  After the Valentines Rager I had approached him and asked drunkenly for help finding a job.  I thought nothing of it until he called me on the following Monday.  I came to his office and sitting on his desk were two applications.  They were spaced about a foot apart, like flat, typeset crossroads extending into the very distant (hopefully) future.

He looked up at me and in that sexy bass voice said "Okay, Matt.  I made some calls, and I am pretty confident I can get you into either of these programs.  What would you rather do?"

One was an enrollment application for a teacher certification course through UNM, and the other was a job working at the Coppola Wineries (yeah, the Godfather dude).  I had never thought about teaching before, but have always enjoyed basking in the reflective glow of vague celebrity associations (as my Gene Hackman feud and award winning elbow throwing performance in "Chasing Amy" attest).  Conversely, though, I knew nothing about wine.  So I pondered.  After I was all pondered out, I asked him what he thought.  Here is the reply I will never forget, the reply that set me on my life long journey into madness and random shirt tearing:

"Well, Matt, you have a lot of charisma and seem to be a very thoughtful, diligent person.  I believe a career in teaching would be well suited for you.  And I haven't been here long, but I think that if you worked the winery, you might end up drinking too much."

He laughed.  So did I.

And so here I am.  The world is a strange place sometimes.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Jersey Girls and Bloody Curls- The Reality Deathmatch Part 1


(note- If anyone out there has any pics from this event, I'd love to put them up- I will exchange photos for beer!)
I was leaning against the wall, hidden safely behind a tarp by the bell tower. Brian Vail, that villainous son of a bitch, was giving a promo to the Reality Weekend crowd. He was mid way through his speech, a tirade involving swatting me as if I were a fly, invoking the wrath of the churlish, drunken crowd, when it hit me like a chair to the head.

Goddamn I love this place.

I looked around at my Jersey Posse. Noah smiled while holding a door in his hand. Neoma, Araminta, and Lauren, wearing identical bikinis made out of duct tape (that was a fun fitting session, I'm sure) were standing close by, either nervous, excited, or drunk as fuck, I was never sure. My hands tightened around my barbed wire baseball bat (as seen in the omnibus Hackman anthology, click here to rock it) as "Edgecrusher" by Fear Factory started to blast through the speakers. We walked through the building and made our way to the ad hoc ring/stage as a combination of my nerves and the hot Santa Fe sun cast everything in stark relief.

The audience (my first reaction- so many! Damn. My second reaction- you drunk bastards.) broke into applause, catcalls, and random incoherent screams as we took our place up front. Lauren waved at everyone while perched atop Noah's shoulders (nice touch by the way, guys). I hugged the Jersey Girls for Jersey luck, stood in front of the crowd, and flexed my arms Hogan style. Cheers washed over me as the pounding drum beat vibrated through the ground.

Goddamn I love this place.

The acclaim was cut short when dastardly Vail hit me with a lighting tube (those long sumbitches that turn every office into a stygian hell), shattering it over my back and spraying glass into the mass of onlookers. I turned around and took a garbage can to the head three times before falling to the concrete, clutching my rapidly bruising forehead. As he reached down to pull me up, only one thought went through my mind:

Goddamn I love this place.

Most of the match was a blur for me, especially when the pure evil but wicked handsome Krishnan Venkatesh, Greek teacher, martial arts guru, and impartial referee, turned on me. He smashed my skull with a frying pan, chokeslammed me through a pile of light tubes, and smashed a VCR over my head.

The second attack caused nerve damage I still feel to this day, the third created a 10 minute gap in my memory that I have never recovered, but the first one broke my heart.

Venkatesh, you magnificent bastard.

In the end, after trials and tribulations that would have made Aeneas give up and buy a motor home instead, my arm was raised in triumph. My enemies slunk away to lick their wounds in the darkness, like Sarah Palin post interview. Blood poured out of the wound in my back, mingling with the blood covering my chest, hair, and sexy wrestling pants. Araminta came over and grabbed my biceps flirtatiously while whispering sweet nothings in my ear: "We have to get you to a hospital. Now."

Edgecrusher was playing, the audience was cheering, and I fell to my knees, fighting the urge to throw up. I looked up and saw the Dean of St. John's College in the audience.

Goddamn I love this place.