The Memorial Day America Will Never Celebrate

V e t P o l i t i c s

By Jay Kirell

Memorial Day 2014.

Another year, another start to the summer vacation season where America takes a day off to remember those who died in war.

Flags will be flown.  Words will be spoken.  The dead will be honored.

Being one of the many who served overseas that didn’t die in war, (but came reeeeally close) I have a unique view of death and how we, as a nation honor it.

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The Art of Dating Discrimination

Must Be This Tall To Ride

Image courtesy of Image courtesy of

I’ve only had three girlfriends ever make it past the get-to-know-you phase.

It’s because both my mom and dad had gone through divorce, and both preached “playing the field” and to not be in a hurry to get married.

Spend time with lots of different girls, they said. Figure out what you like. Figure out why.

Not every girl approved of my way of thinking, but I didn’t particularly care. The thinking was: As soon as you know there’s no chance of this ending in marriage, why be in a committed relationship with one another?

I didn’t believe in having a girlfriend simply for the sake of having one.

That was an easy choice to make back then. I was young. With a hard stomach. And constantly surrounded by young, single women.

I’m sure I wasn’t as honest as I should have been. But I also…

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Bruce Wayne lotto tour

Here’s what I’d do if I won a $1 billion lotto:

  1. Create a Batsuit (Dark Knight Rises version) and buy the Bat-pod motorcycle.  Then, every Halloween, I’d ride around the streets of Los Angeles giving people bat-shaped shuriken.  
  2. Travel to Japan, Venice, and Eastern Europe. 
  3. Train to compete in archery in the next Olympics.
  4. Record an album of original songs with my musician friends.  
  5. Go through survival training and learn to be deadly with a knife so I can be like Benecio del Torro in The Hunted (minus the post-traumatic stress disorder).
  6. Pay off that bitch Sallie Mae.
  7. Pay off my parents’ mortgage so they don’t have worry anymore and they can retire.  They’re the hardest working people I know.
  8. Take a tour of where they make Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.
  9. Build my dream analog audio system (turn table, tube integrated amp, tower speakers, etc)
  10. Buy an Eric Johnson Signature Fender Stratocaster and Swart AST amp.

I think that’s it.  Maybe.

Failure to Launch

On December 13 (Friday), I was laid off from my job at a title insurance company.  My job was, basically, to insure that Chase had first dibs to screw a borrower over when they defaulted on their loans.  Chase wanted to get to the borrowers first before the Department of Making Dead Beat Dads and/or the IRS got a chance to suck ’em dry.  It was a job that paid the bills and allowed me to buy and do some fun things this past year:

  • Went to Portland and Seattle and all the cool places in between with my good friend Janna
  • Bought a turn table system and a bunch of cool vinyl records (my favorites so far have been the new albums from Tedeschi Trucks Band, Lissie, White Denim, and John Mayer.  I also got some great classic albums from John Coltrane, Kenny Burrell, Ry Cooder, and The Gza)

To be honest, I was more relieved and then devastated after being laid off.  No more dreading the morning traffic to spend eight hours at a soul-destroying job that contributed nothing to society.  I met some fun people at work who made the day bearable:

  • N, who was so funny with his sarcastic one-liners during our pointless meetings with our supervisors.
  • S, a vivacious Latina who was funny and kind.
  • St, who was mysterious and quirky.  How did she have sparkles of grey in those brown eyes?
  • M, a gregarious guy who could get everyone to laugh.  He also had a heart of gold.
  • Ma, a tiny little thing with the great voice (I have a thing for voices), caramel eyes, and fury that was buried by our mutually-shared mediocrity.  It would sting me every time she brought up her boyfriend.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do.  I don’t even know if I still want to be a therapist – even though I now owe that bitch Sallie Mae over $180K.  I am trained to help alcoholics and drug addicts get their lives back together but I can’t even keep a job for more than two years.  I think there’s something wrong with that.  I can’t say that I’ve totally lost hope in starting my therapy career because maybe I’m moving this hope to something else.  Although, I slowly understanding that I don’t have to have my shit together to have some kind of meaningful impact on other people.  But for now, I’ve been watching a ton of movies (The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was a revelation, Pain and Gain sucked like no other), taking long walks and eating soup.  

Starting over is like playing Grand Theft Auto V and having the power go out without getting to save.  Oh yeah, and you didn’t have the auto-save option on.  I’ve had to do it before after failed relationships and failed attempts to get a job after finishing grad school.  I think it’s different this time.  My parents seem to be more intentional in showing me support, especially my mom.  She didn’t seem to be worried that I have no plan right now.  She didn’t even get upset when I told her that I don’t want to find a job right away.  I think we’re beginning to understand each other.  I’m helping her buy a tablet.  What is going on in the world?

I watched The Lifeguard shortly after being let go.  It’s such a relevant film.  Kristen Bell’s character goes home to her parents’ home after the end of an affair (she was involved with Dr. Suresh from Heroes) and quitting a dead-end job.  She went back home, wreaked some havoc, smoked weed, and then started to believe in something better than what she had.  I hope that a similar destination of self-discovery is in store for me.  I’ll try to be less lazy, less passive, and sign up for archery lessons.  

Chop it up

I like to learn things by breaking them down into sections and then repeating them.

When I first started learning “Reconsider” from Eric Clapton’s From The Cradle album, I started by chopping up the intricate licks into sections. There’s a section in the intro part that comes from Chuck Berry and his prophetic style of playing. I pracriced this part until my fingers were raw and had the callouses of a person who deserved to be called a guitar player. My hand had gotten used to the neck and my fingers accustomed to the strain. Then, it became like second nature. I gained so much confidence just through learning that small part.

It helps to chew things up until they become digestable. Then it becomes a part of you.

Tabula Rasa

This is a punch in the gut.

Sips of Jen and Tonic

quote, fear, success, failure, starting over, self-improvement, carl bard, inspirationalHave you ever felt like something (a thought, an idea, a situation) kept popping up all around you? I believe in the power of The Universe. I believe it’s always trying to guide us, and I believe in its infinite wisdom.

Recently I’ve been confronted with a series of situations and conversations centered around the idea of being undeserving. With one person it was being undeserving of success, with a few others it was being undeserving of happiness.

Tabula Rasa is a Latin phrase roughly translating to “blank slate.” It is the philosophical idea that humans are born with empty minds, and it is only through perception and experience that they gain knowledge. Basically, we’re all empty canvases when we’re born, and that canvas gets scribbled on throughout our lives.

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I first heard of Anderson Paak (formerly known as Breezy Lovejoy) from a friend who used to hang out a place in Long Beach called The Cellar.  He invited me to see a show where Breezy was playing.  I was surprised to see him get on the drums and lead the band with vocals while never missing a beat.  He blew me away with his versatile playing, urgent vocals, and his influences as an artist.  Breezy and band did a fierce cover of Coldplay’s “Trouble.”  They were giving out free copies of his EP called Cold Tapes (Coldplay covers).  That was the only show I’ve been to but I’ve been a fan ever since.

Fast forward about 4 years and his own album of original work, and Anderson Paak has a new EP of covers (called Cover Art)from a pretty eclectic group of artists:

  1. Maps by the Yeah Yeah Yeas
  2. Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes
  3. Such Great Heights by The Postal Service
  4. Blackbird by The Beatles
  5. Hold The Line by Toto

You should probably buy it. Now.

The End

Everything that has a beginning has an end. – The Oracle

I wonder what I will be like when I inevitably end this blog.  How many songs will I write?  How many times will I laugh uncontrollably? How many poems about pizza will I write? How many more LPs will I buy at Amoeba?

It’s good to think about the end of a thing when you start it.  There is a chance that in doing so, a paradox will occur in which this thing escapes finality and you unknowingly perpetuate this thing which ended for you when you started it.