Matt's blog

The story of me, an American in Edinburgh, Scotland finding my place as a musician, a husband, a father and a Christian.

I'm the Stalion, but She's the Alpha Mare

This is a post about sexism. I’ve been thinking about it for a while and I figure now’s the time to throw some thoughts out there for feedback. My first thought is this:

If you are a non-sexist male, you are blind to sexism and in your world sexism doesn’t exist. Now, don’t jump down my throat for claiming that anyone could be completely free of sexism in a sexist culture. I’m not claiming that and in fact I’ll touch on that subject in a little bit. The kind of male I’m describing here is one who legitimately respects women, doesn’t discriminate against women and is capable of understanding that men and women are different without judging one sex better than the other. I’m describing a male for whom traditional gender roles have little or no meaning. I’m trying to describe myself and I hope those who know me would agree with my assessment. Ok, the statement once more: If you are a non-sexist male (someone like myself), you are blind to sexism and in your world sexism doesn’t exist. Here’s a case study to illustrate my point.

Jeni, Andrew and I used to work at the same establishment. At that time I was a few years out of high school. Everyone else who worked there was either in high school or, like Jeni, had just graduated. The manager of the establishment was male and only a few years older than me. It became clear in just a few weeks that Andrew and I got treated better than anyone else at the store. We got paid more, got better shifts, and were treated with respect by the manager. The high school employees, including Jeni, got the exact opposite of what we did. Drew and I were aware of the discrepancy, but to be honest, most of the high school aged employees weren’t really doing their best to earn the manager’s respect and some of them had no business working there at all. If there was any discrimination it was age discrimination. There was weird sex related stuff going on too, but at the time none of it seemed like discrimination, it just seemed creepy. Being only a few miles from Chatsworth, we had some regulars in the adult entertainment industry and made no attempt to disguise that fact. We also had a male assistant manager who used to be a stripper and would ask the aforementioned customers if they could get him parts in movies, and we had a female assistant manager who did such nasty, suggestive stuff with our manager that it made me want to shower as soon as I got off shift. This sort of nasty, quasi sexual flirtation would also go on between the manager and the high school girls to a lesser degree. I didn’t see sexism in this. I saw a bunch of sexually messed up people interacting with each other in the only way they knew how. I assumed that if Andrew and I could stay out of all that stuff, Jeni could, too. Jeni left that job because of sexual harassment.

Ok, so here’s the deal. I’ve always viewed Jeni as an equal and a good match for me in terms of talent, strength, and personality even long before we were dating. I assumed that since I could avoid being a part of all the weird sexual stuff going on at this job that she could too. Of course, there is a difference between Jeni and me. If I don’t go after someone with lewd comments or wandering hands, no one comes after me. And if they do, I tell them to stop and it’s over. I see now that even though I view Jeni as an equal in ability and strength with me, because of where her gender places her in society she can’t act in the same way I do. I was blinded to sexism, and in many ways I still am. Jeni went out looking for a job the past few weeks and came back with stories of interactions with business owners and managers that I know would never have happened to me. I’ve decided to edit out some of my personal reactions that I had typed here which I will summarize as not being in the business owners’ favor.

If you are a non-sexist male, you are blind to sexism and in your world sexism doesn’t exist. If you aren’t acting in a sexist way towards anyone, no one will act in a sexist way towards you. When you witness sexism, you’ll attribute it to something else. You’ll tell yourself that reason a particular girl’s being treated poorly is not because she’s female, but is because she’s not a very good worker or not a very nice person, both of which may be true. If a girl and a guy are getting nasty with each other in a way that looks like it would be harassment if only both of them weren’t willing participants, you convince yourself that it’s just two people consensually choosing to act that way with each other. You don’t stop to think that this event will reinforce with both of them that that is how you treat the opposite sex. And if you’re me you think just because you can tell the nasty girl to stop when she tries to get nasty with you, that your female friends will be able to do the same thing when the nasty guy comes for them. And you’re blind.

P.S. I don’t want to make myself come off as someone with no sexual bias. Next post I’ll discuss my own sexism which takes a remarkably different form than that of my previous employer.

By the way, if you know anything about equine herd dynamics you'll know that the title of this post is not a sexist statement.


One of the hidden struggles for me is the struggle against my sense of entitlement. Materialistically, the struggle is hidden because I don’t really like to spend money, and I often don’t have money to spend anyway. When I do spend money, on things like a new car or a handmade guitar, I spend a long time making the decision to do so and convince myself that these are things I actually need and that I’m not being excessive and therefore I’m not being materialistic. I still don’t know what I think about all that so I won’t get into it right now.

I also struggle with a spiritual sense of entitlement. I’m on God’s side and I want the payoff now. I don’t want to struggle and I don’t want to be tempted. I don’t want to look at friends who have turned their backs on God and who seem happier and more satisfied than me even though I claim to be a Christian.

Hebrews 11 talks about a bunch of Old Testament people like Abel, Noah, Abraham and Sarah, Moses, Rahab, David and more. The end says this: vs.39“These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised.” I guess I should get over this sense of entitlement.

Hebrews 11:13-16:
All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

Here’s hoping I can learn to live and speak in a way that God is not ashamed to be called my God, even though I won’t see the payoff.

I Love Political Correctness

I just spotted a review of a Cadillac CTS-V referring to it as "a low maintenance alternative to a trophy spouse." Well. I'm sure glad we decided to correct the overly offensive phrase 'trophy wife.' I'm glad to see that society had decided that it was more important to allow both men and women to be viewed as objects rather than eliminate the idea that a human being can be reduced to a status symbol. And can be replaced by a $70,000 phallus extension. But don't worry, I'll never sink low enough to replace Jeni with a Cadillac. I'll definitely go with a BMW.

A Post!

Well, for those of you who may be wondering, the last several weeks have not been easy for me for some reason. I'm experiencing wild swings into deep depression unlike anything I've felt since high school. I have no clue why this is. After my Dad died I noticed that that experience was by far the hardest and most painful one I had ever gone through, but somehow the emotions weren't as overwhelming and ones I had experienced before. Now, after my Dad died the emotions were stronger and more real and the situation far worse than anything in high school, but I didn't get swept up in them. In the last few weeks, even though nothing extraordinary is happening in my life, I'm suffering recurrent bouts of serious depression and entertaining some thoughts which I considered in years, along with some new ones. Oddly enough, as I write this right now, I'm not feeling that way. More on that in a moment. When I wrote the last post I was feeling that way. I don't really know who reads this blog, but due to the lack of comments I'd say it's safe to say that none of my readers are people who can sympathize (please be aware of my sarcasm and let me know if I'm wrong).

If someone could invent alcoholic Henry Weinhard's Root Beer for me I'll give you $20. And don't just tell me to pour vodka in, I've done it before but every time I touch our bottle of Stoli my hand smells like sour, rotten garlic for a week. No really, it's true, ask Jeni. That's one of the main reasons I stick to gin. I do miss my White Russians, though.

Plato said you can find out the true nature of the universe and existence by just shooting the breeze with a few other people. Aristotle said you'd figure it out through empirical inquiry, i.e. by our senses using science. A long time later a guy named Hume agreed that we could only know what we perceive through our senses, but he said that our senses give us no reason to believe that our senses are reliable. We have the idea of causality, that one billiard ball causes another to move when they collide, but we've never actually seen a cause. We just see one ball move, then the other move and assume one caused the other. We have no real reason to believe in things we've observed like cause and effect or gravity, 'cause we never actually really observed them. It's all just superstition, thinking that things will happen once again the same way that they happened before. Still, he admitted that the idea of causality has some usefulness in daily life and to humor the idea of gravity he would leave through the door instead of the window. Ok, why'd I type all that.

I guess in a recent stretch of life marked by skepticism, doubt, and general existential angst (I know Hume wasn't an existentialist, I'm simply expanding on a theme now) I had a "leave through the door" kind of day yesterday. Yesterday Jeni and I went out and got here WA driver's license and our WA plates for our car. This took a few hours of waiting in the D.O.L. (Department of Licensing) and the auto registration place (two different places). Now, believe it or not, sometimes I just love doing this kind of stuff. When life it at its lowest, it's the most menial tasks which take on the greatest meaning. When you don't know why you go on living from day to day, you know it's a cold hard fact that you need to renew your registration to keep driving. Suddenly, out of nowhere, in at least one small microcosm of life: meaning. Suddenly, going to the D.O.L. is the purpose of my life, and in going to the D.O.L. I find true fulfillment.

Whoa, there. Don't pick up the phone to call the heresy police just yet. I know that you can't find true fulfillment in menial, human invented, tasks. All I'm saying is that sometimes you can humor the illusion and the outcome is much the same in the short run.

More coming tomorrow, maybe. I may write about some adventures in various kinds of social activity with various degrees of success. Tune in next time, same Matt-time (sometime), same Matt-channel (

It's Almost One o'clock

Suicide has never been a real option. There was a point in high school where some people were pretty scared that I might kill myself, but that never really panned out. Nope, no suicide. Just got to tough it out.

In other news, I'm slightly more connected to the world then I was just a few days ago. I finally bought a radio for the apartment. If you know my family at all (knew my family at all, I guess) then you know that the radio (always tuned to KCRW) had a pretty strong presence in our household. Well, since I've been away at college, I have not had a radio. My social interaction level also went way down when I came to college. Without an established social network, even the meager one I had back home, I didn't have the guts to stick my head out of my dormroom and into an unknown world. So, with no social life and no radio, I spent a lot of time sitting alone in silence. Drives a lot of people nuts. A lot of people can't stand silence. I'm not one of them. I used to joke that I had ASD, Attention Surplus Disorder. Stick me in an empty room and I could stare at a blank wall for hours.

Anyway, I know have a radio, but don't expect it to do much good. All I listen to is news, classical music (not because classical is better music, but because all other music on the radio just plain sucks) and the random folk and bluegrass shows that the public radio station plays on the weekends. Oh yeah, I'm plugged into the mainstream now.

But don't expect me to break the silence habit too quickly. I still find myself spending long periods of time just sitting with nothing going on. A couple people have said to me that it's a good thing I have music to occupy or console myself with after the generally troublesome recent events in my life. If all else fails, I can just get lost in my music, they say. Well, that's not true. Music has no real soothing power, no comforting effect. Sure, performing is a rush, and I love going out in front of an audience and really throwing down, but to get to that point is just hard work. It's like working on a paper or doing research or shooting hoops over and over, only it's not enough to occupy my mind. It gets old fast. It's no greater power, just another distraction.

Sometimes when I'm practicing I get in the zone and hours will fly by without my noticing. Sometimes I get caught up in a single faulty stroke that grows and grows until not only my playing is out of whack, but my whole mindset and mood. Frustration and anger anger anger can build up out of nowhere. I hate myself for my shortcomings and I think about the world without me in it. I know I'm one of the best guitarists my age in this part of the country, but I sit behind my instrument in silence knowing that the world isn't much different whether I make music or stay silent.

Music is so stupid. Sometimes I hate myself for investing in something so meaningless, shallow and selfish. What kind of life have I chosen? I should take the radio back to the store and trade it for a big screen TV and plant myself in front of it until I've forgotten this horrible silence.

Ok, I Think I'm Done

Well, I this may be the final version of the Granny template. I've been playing with it for a few days now, but I think with the addition of the leaves background I'll call it quits. Hey, this means you'll get real posts again soon!

Of course, I'm always open for Granny quips suggestions.

Too Much Computer!!!

One of the reasons I decided to pursue music in education and ultimately my career was so I could get away from computers. For a while when I was younger I seriously considered entering some sort of computer based career, but I think that's something I grew out of. But alas, this past week has found me sitting at the computer once again redesigning this blog and now Jeni's as well. Go take a look at her page. I honestly think her's looks a lot better than mine. Hey, at least I've got Granny.

Just in Case You're Wondering

Yes, the hours I spent figuring out this new template and the talking Granny both fall into the category of meaningless distraction. Speaking of meaningless distraction, Jeni and I saw Star Wars again tonight and agreed it's definitely better the first time (ouch for Star Wars!).

However, upcoming distractions that should be worthwhile:

No. 1: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe coming up in December which we saw a preview for tonight and which looks pretty good. Jeni just finished re-reading Chronicles of Narnia, something which I might do as well to pass the time before...

No. 2: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince which is released 34 days from now I believe. I was quite sick a few weeks ago and in the course of three days read all 5 installments in the Hogwarts saga after Jeni has been bugging me to for years. (Literally, years!) I'd recommend them to anyone. Not the best I've ever read, but no where near the worst. Very engaging with good characters all around. Oh, yeah, my Half Blood Prince prediction: I'm hoping it will be Viktor Krum, I liked his character a lot and want to see him return. But even if he's not in book 6, for sure he'll be in...

No. 3: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire movie coming in November. Ok, sorry about all the Harry Potter stuff out of nowhere, but I've really got the bug. Movie #3, Prisoner of Azkaban, was really good, blew the first two out of the water, so here's hoping #4 can keep up the pace. Now all I need is a Giffindor house tie...

No. 4: Sleep!!! It's late! Goodnight!

Granny Speaks!

Hey, you can't never say that I don't do what needs to be dones to please the peoples. Ask for Granny with a shotgun, recieve granny with a shotgun. You may also notice that Granny has a few different quips she cycles through at random. Have something you want the whole world to know? Need an anouncement to reach an audience of at least three (3) people? Well, email me or leave a comment to put your words in Granny's mouth.

By the way, sorry about the pop up as you load the site now, it's a side-effect of Granny's new found abilities. I've emailed the people at where I got the code to see if we can get rid of the pop up, but just click through it for now. Just think of it as Good Shot Mike's own bouncer that keeps the riff-raff out but for some reason let you all in.

Good Shot!!!!

A new look and a new name! It might change a bit over the next few days, I want to get a picture up on the page somwhere right when you load it so it's not so bland. Let me know about the colors, I've already figured out that they don't look the same on all screens, but let me know if they're bearable so I can change them if they're not. You'll also notice two spots for comments. I'm going to switch over to blogger comments which are above the post, while old haloscan comments will be below the post for a week or so untill I phase them out completely. That's it for tonight. Give me suggestions on what sort of picture you'd like to see in the top of the tool bar on the right.

Smoky Bar Part 2 (kind of)

I think the issue I have with the drinking, smoking, and pointless banter is that it seems to me just an attempt to distract from the meaningless of life. Of course, before I let my hypocrisy get the better of me, let me admit that there are many other things which I recognize as mere distractions which I do not have as big a problem with. Anyway, I'm convinced that my life on my own, just me, is completely empty and devoid of meaning. I think if I hook up with someone else to try to create some meaning that way then 0+0=0 and we're both left without meaning. There's nothing magical about relationships, music, art or anything else which makes life better. It all = 0.

And yet, I spend hours every day playing the guitar. I still cultivate relationships even if I do lean to the anti-social side of things. Why? What am I doing? Am I grasping at straws? Am I reaching out to take hold of the shadow of something more substantial? Well, yes. I believe all these things which in their current state=0, can be so much more if they can be grasped in the right way.

What I believe: Satisfaction comes only from God. True satisfaction found in God redeems the meaninglessness of the mundane. Relationships become a thousand more colors than they were before. Music becomes tangible in a way that the loudest soundsystem and biggest subwoofers could never make it. I don't mean that to sound flippant, I think that in the absence of real satisfaction we try to compensate with sensory overload. Surround sound and HDTV and 300hp compact cars all testify to our desire to feel. And yet, it doesn't matter without God. He says knock and He'll answer, seek and we'll find. But I'm worried that my feeble tapping can't be anywhere near the resounding knocking required by a Great God and my half hearted seeking, which won't turn over a rock for fear of what might skitter out, will never discover the Hidden God.

"Knock, answer. Seek, find. What could be easier Matt? You're an idiot." Well, maybe I am, but here's a case study in miniature. A few weeks ago down at the church we were juggling musicians with people going home from school or coming down sick. I found myself behind the drumset. A member of the church who had been involved in music before I was around stepped in as the guitar player and song leader. This guitar player proceeded to pull his guitar out of the back of a closet in the church. It was obvious that it hadn't been played in a long time and the strings were dead to the point where they wouldn't stay in tune. The guitar player initially blamed this on "the guitar warning up" but soon it became evident that the strings on the guitar were shot. He needed new strings before Sunday. I knew this, he knew this, and not in an unspoken agreement way. It was spoken and understood that he needed new strings for Sunday or else the guitar would be unplayable. Sunday comes. The guitar has the same dead strings on it as it had three days ago. Sure enough, After I struggle with it to get it in tune before the service, the guitar makes it through a song and a half before going so horribly out of tune that it can no longer be played.

Here I'll part with Plato and insist the to know the good is not to do the good. Knock, answer. Seek, find. Put on new strings, don't suck. I know true satisfaction lies in God, but I haven't gone after it. I'm stuck in a place where I know the things of the world are not fulfilling, but I am not yet finding fulfillment in God. Someday perhaps I'll be a good bit more mature and sitting down in a smoky, meaningless bar won't bring me down so much since I'll have brought meaning along with me.

Out of Touch

So I went to a bar last night to hang out with some people, which doesn't seem that extraordinary until you realize that this is only the second or third time I've done this in my life. I'm not really down with social interaction it turns out (and aside from this blog I'm not really down with the internet either, so I'm pretty much screwed). Anyway, I don't spend a lot of time hanging out with people in typical "hanging-out" settings: bars, parties, etc. In fact, I've always really hated these kinds of situations. But hey, I figured, it's been a while, I might as well try it again.

The problems with my plan soon became evident. I love alcohol, but I can't stand it when people drink too much. I hate cigarettes. I hate small talk. I can put up with all of this for the sake of getting out of the house and interacting with some real people, but when the conversation turns to, "Dude, I totally got it on with a girl who poses naked on the internet" or "Damn, the tits in that tube top..." I can put up with it no longer.

I'd rather hang on to my existential angst then go looking for meaning in this. It seems so worthless.

Well, I've hit a brick wall. That's the end of today's post. Comment to help prod my thoughts along, I've got plenty more to say on this subject, but I can't put it all together right now. It's something about how disconnected I am from the culture I live in, no radio, no TV, no video games, and how I'm supposed think about evangelizing to a world that makes me sick.

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