Costumes

Halloween is awesome.

I love the candy.  I love stalking party photos on Facebook.  I love the costumes.

I really love the homemade costumes.  I’ll be rocking a do-it-yourself costume this Saturday night, just like I’ve always done in the past.  In “recent” years, I’ve been…

A Warbler from “Glee” (2012)

Costumes

An Etch-a-Sketch (2011)

Costumes2

The Washington Monument (2009)

Costumes3

A tornado (2005)

Costumes4

I think I paid a combined $10 for those four costumes.  I also think I spent a combined 10 minutes of work making those four costumes.  That is probably obvious.

Although Halloween comes around only once a year, I wear a costume every single day:

There is a huge difference between the real me and the me the world sees.

The me the world sees is always happy, always positive, and always hopeful.  In recent years, the real me has struggled with my parents’ divorce, my brother’s incarceration, and my own marriage failures.

The me the world sees is outgoing and personable.  The real me would rather spend most nights taking naps, eating cereal for dinner, and playing video games.

The me the world sees is bold and confident.  The real me is fearful of criticism, constantly struggles with insecurity, and is haunted by regret.

That’s my costume.

It is normal for there to be a gap between the public and private versions of ourselves, but mine is probably too large.  This blog helps.  A lot.  I’ve also been dedicating more time to hanging out one-on-one with some of my friends.  It’s easy to wear a happy-go-lucky costume at big parties and social events.  It’s harder to hide behind a public persona when you’re sitting face-to-face with a friend for an hour.

That’s my costume.  It’s time for it to come off.

Satisfication

Amanda and I went to Memphis a few weeks ago.  We had a great time experiencing rock and roll history, eating lots of barbecue, and waking up without an alarm clock.  I’m convinced the latter is one of life’s greatest, and rarest, joys.

Satisfaction

There’s the baby bump making its debut at Graceland! 

Our Memphis trip also served as an important reminder:

(1)  there is no such thing as too much BBQ;

(2)  a city full of awesome all-night rock and roll bars and clubs is a great place to visit with your friends, but maybe not with your pregnant wife (“Oh, it’s already 9:30pm. I’m sleepy.”); and

(3)  the things we often strive for the most will usually leave us feeling empty.

Elvis is everywhere in Memphis.  The dude is probably the most famous person of the 20th Century.  He was loved by hundreds of millions, if not billions, of fans.  He was a baller and had more money than one could imagine.  Elvis had his own racquetball court and the walls, floor, and ceiling of his living room were covered in green shag carpet.  Despite all those wonderful things, his story ended tragically.  He was divorced, he was addicted to drugs, and he died a premature death.

Those sobering facts made me think a lot about the types of things that can bring true satisfication.  These are the things that won’t:

1.  Money: I think it’s silly when people say that money can’t buy happiness. Oh, money can definitely buy my happiness.  Temporarily.  Burritos make me happy.  A speedboat makes me happy.  A Sodastream would make me very happy (FYI – Christmas is coming soon).  All those things require money (or generous friends).  However, I don’t think any of the things money can buy will ever truly satisfy you. They are only temporary.

2.  Clothes: I love clothes. A lot.  Yes, you might feel fly when rocking some new Jordans or hot pink pants, but those feelings will eventually fade.  Your shoes will get scuffed and your slim-fit pants will eventually become no-fit pants.

3.  Popularity: Whether you’re thirsty for Facebook “likes” or the admiration of your peers, it’s not going to bring you any long-term happiness or satisfaction.  A photo of your dog got 1,000 likes on Facebook?  Cool.  Now what?  You were prom king in high school?  No one cares.

4.  Legos:  Little plastic blocks will never . . . .  wait, nevermind.  Legos will definitely bring you infinite satisfication.  (Again, Christmas is just around the corner.)

5.  Sports:  I would do anything to see the Nationals win the World Series, UVA’s hoops team win March Madness, or UVA’s football team win any bloody game.  That would be thrilling, remarkable, and would easily crack my “Top Ten Moments of My Life” list.  But then what happens the next day?  Yes, I’ll order a championship hoodie, but then life will go on as normal.

All of those things are amazing, but none of them will ever truly satisfy you.

So what will?

I’m not sure, but it probably has something to do with working hard, serving others, travel, faith, Chihuahuas, and family.

Oh, and Legos.

Everyday Heroes – Alex the Real Rockstar

For better or for worse, most of you know about my unyielding love for terrible pop music.  However, it may come as a surprise to you that I also love classic rock.  A lot.  I adore the Rolling Stones, am convinced that AC/DC’s “Shook Me All Night Long” is the greatest song ever written (other than Britney’s “Email My Heart”), and I may or may not pray for a Guns N’ Roses reunion tour.  What I love most about those old rock anthems is that you know from the very first strum of the guitar that it’s time to party.

That’s exactly how I felt when I first met Alex G.

Real Superheroes - Alex. G

(FYI – That’s just a really good Photoshop and not a real photograph.)

Like the opening guitar salvo in “Paradise City,” I instantly knew this dude rocked the second I met him.  His beard was fly, his smile was infectious, and you could immediately tell he was a cool cat.  His confidence was strong, but not in a “Real Housewives” or Kardashian kind of way.  (No offense, Kim. Call me.)

The thing I appreciate the most about Alex is that he’s authentic.  Whether it is non-hoopsters like me who wear Jordans, the carefully-crafted lives we post about on social media, or the scary chemicals we drink each day, our world is full of fakeness.  Not Alex.  This guy oozes authenticity and realness.  It’s amazingly refreshing.

alex, xabi, and adam

I met Alex at Capital City Church a year ago.  I think he started volunteering as a greeter the next Sunday.  Ever since, he’s been leading a group of college rockstars to bigger and better things and helping out wherever there is a need.  He also shares a home state with Tom Brady, so that automatically makes him a cool dude.  Last, but certainly not least, Alex has recently started rocking skinny jeans.

Mission.  Accomplished.

Alex is going to do huge things in this world. I hope he runs for Congress one day.  We need leaders like him.  Desperately.  I’m not the only one who feels that way.  Here’s what a few others had to say about Alex:

Adam – “Alex is a great guy and a strong leader. He’s classy, well-mannered, and respectful.  He’s organized and intentional, always investing himself in things that matter.  He’s always positive.  When he gets overwhelmed, he doesn’t shut down – he laughs and keeps going.  He cares about people and is a good friend.”

Xabi – “I think Alex is a rockstar because of his love for God.  His attitude is contagious (his new look is too). I appreciate just spending time with my brosky because I learn a lot when we have those deep talks.”

Liz H.- “I love Alex because he is so passionately focused on serving God and blessing the people around him.  Also, his sense of humor and willingness to be goofy whenever you need encouragement brightens even the rainiest of days . . . (continues on weird rant about soup).”

Tyler – “Alex is truly a servant.  He genuinely cares about people and is a true leader in the way he serves those around him.  Whether that’s cleaning the kitchen as a roommate or leading the college ministry for church, he always devotes time and effort to those around him.”

In short, Alex, everyone around you respects, admires, and adores you.  It’s time for the rest of the world (i.e. – my mom, wife, and the two other people who read this blog) to meet you.

selfie

Our world is full of depressing news.  I want to start using this blog to highlight the everyday heroes among us, like Alex, who are doing great things and making a difference.  For better or for worse, these posts will pretty much be a surprise to the heroes I’m writing about.  (That’s your warning to take down any embarrassing Facebook photos.)

If you’re not following Alex on Instagram, you should.  @bruingarcia. 

How to be a Man

Although I’m infinitely excited to be a dad, I’m also terrified.  I’ve never been a parent before (I think), I feel awkward around babies, and I’m a pretty immature dude.  Thus, it’s a little intimidating to think that I’ll be responsible for two little humans (and a Chihuahua) in just a few months.

Thankfully, I spend two hours a day on a bicycle, which I use to think and pray about this sort of stuff (while repeatedly listening to Miley Cyrus and Florida Georgia Line).  I often think about what sort of advice I’ll give my kids.  I’m pretty sure it will be the same regardless of whether we’re having two girls, two boys, or a mix of the two.  However, because I don’t know much about being a woman, I’ve been thinking a lot about the advice I’ll give to my potential son(s) about being a man.

How to Be a Man

Of course, this list is nonnegotiable:

(1) You will love sports.
(2) You will love rock and roll.
(3) You will lift weights.
(4) You will not listen to any sissy boy band music.
(5) You will vote Republican.
(6) You will always…

Wait, nevermind.

None of that nonsense is true.

Here’s the real list:

(1)  Be yourself.

(2)  Respect everyone else.

The.  End

Awkward White Guy Rap (IX) – DMX

If I had to choose one song that defined my childhood, it probably wouldn’t be the “Ruff Ryders’ Anthem” by DMX.  However, I love this song and once I even used it as a “cheerleading” chant at a student council leadership workshop (after a few lyrical edits, of course).

International Pool Tour World 8-Ball Championship

The “Anthem” was DMX’s first big hit.  Although he’s largely been left out of the pantheon of rap legends, he filled a huge void in the rap game after the deaths of Biggie and Tupac.  He also helped pass the torch from those icons to guys like Eminem, Kanye, and Jay-Z in the 21st Century.  So, DMX, wherever you are (jail, I think), thanks, dude.  We miss you.

So here’s the newest edition of “Awkard White Guy Raps.”  I would have normally done a few more takes to find one that was less awful, but Amanda made this cut pretty memorable.  Enjoy!

Stop Yelling

There are a lot of interesting things in DC:

Stop Yelling

Stop Yelling - 3

Stop Yelling - 2

Unfortunately, our nation’s capital is also full of angry people.  I’m not talking about bitter Redskins fans still stuck in 1991, but people on street corners causing all sorts of shenanigans.

I often see some guys driving around the Mall in a trippy van decorated with intense Bible verses and proclamations about hell.  They are usually rocking a megaphone and yelling at people for lots of different reasons.  Just a few blocks away, there are always some intense dudes at the Chinatown Metro station angrily yelling about Israel and/or white people.  Ease up, bros, I just want some froyo.

Sadly, the examples don’t end there.  TV, Congress, and our Facebook NewsFeeds are full of people screaming about something or berating those who think differently, especially if there is an election around the corner (or a Cowboys/Redskins game).  Although it’s good to live a life full of passion, here are five reasons we should ease up on the yelling:

1.  I don’t have a degree in marketing and I didn’t stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but I’m confident that you will never convince someone to change their beliefs by yelling at them.

2.  Discussing and debating religion, politics, and/or your favorite Miley song over a Bud Light Lime and nachos is a lot more enjoyable than screaming at someone.  And more productive too.  (P.S. – The answer is “Wrecking Ball.”  You are the BIGGEST IDIOT IN THE WORLD if you think differently.)

3.  Anger, stress, and screaming are bad for your health.  I can’t cite scientific evidence to support that hypothesis, but the two times I thought I was going to black out were both at UVA football games.  No, not because I had been drinking too much whiskey.  Rather, I was losing my mind screaming about a stupid playcall and/or a mistake a ref made.  That would have been a dumb way to die.

4.  Diamonds are forever.  So is the internet.  Don’t blow your reputation and legacy by launching a tirade that eventually ends up on BuzzFeed.

5.  Screaming discredits you.  You might have some brilliant ideas, but if you unveil them to the world through fiery, heated, and disrespectful exchanges, no one will actually listen to what you have to say.

Bye.  TGIF!

The Gift of Giving

I was up until 1:00am “tonight” doing work.  I’m now writing this at 2:00am even though I should probably be sleeping or watching late night P90X informericals to inspire me to lose some weight.  Because it’s way too late and my mind is kind of a mess, I’m going to try to keep this post short, just like my BFF Phil.

In addition to our love for junk food, weekend mornings without alarm clocks, and Taco Bell, we all have something in common:

We really enjoy getting gifts.

The Gift of Giving

Even my dog loves getting gifts.

The Gift of Giving - Napoleon

But do you know what’s BETTER than getting gifts?

Lady Gaga.

gaga

Wait, although true, that’s not what I’m going for right now.

GIVING GIFTS!

It’s really easy to hate on humanity.  All the other drivers on the road suck and everyone else on the Metro smells like an armpit (except for you and me).  If we still read newspapers, we’d see horrifying news on the cover each day.  Worst of all, people use the wrong form of your/you’re way too often.

Despite our flaws, there’s a positive spark in all of us.  A spark that can radically impact our world.  It might be buried under layers of insecurity, resentment, and years of calloused pain, but it’s there.

Let it out.

Yo.

My goal over the next few days is to think of something I’m good at, which shouldn’t be too hard because the list is pretty short, and then use that gift to bless someone else.  I used to write funny poems for people in high school, so yea, maybe it’s time for those to come back.

If you’re a great encourager, hit up one of your friends on the telephone just to chat.  With your ears and mouth, not thumbs.  If you are an artist, paint someone a picture.  If you have righteous baking skills, make me some cookies.  If you love pop music, do a surprise song-and-dance routine at a friend’s birthday party.

The Gift of Giving - 3

YOU all have amazing gifts and talents.  Use them.

(Seriously, make me some cookies.)