I kind it kind of cheesy to list the things I’m thankful for, and to be honest, it feels a little bit like a humble-brag. But fuck it, I want to do it. Thanksgiving is a ridiculous holiday in a lot of ways but I think it is important to think about the things we are thankful for, to kind of take stock of the good things in life.

So, here are some of the things I’m thankful for, in no particular order. Some are things that I have little to no control over, and some are the result of my own actions.

  • My partner, Anna, continues to be the most influential person in my life. She is my partner in crime, adventure, and love. She loves me for me and encourages me to pursue what I am passionate about. Our life so far together has been amazing and I am thankful for the millions of random occurrences that brought her into my life.
  • My dog is the best. He is an asshole sometimes and has no self control when it comes to food, but he is my fur-baby and I love him.
  • I have some amazing fucking friends. People who take me in, provide me with support, and challenge me in every possible way. We try new things together and intellectually stimulate each other, I’ve long had a tribe and having it grow and evolve is exciting
  • I can’t help but be grateful for my biological family and my upbringing. There have been rough days in the past but things are looking better and we are creating new, adult relationships. My upbringing was stable and loving, more than many people have.
  • Living in the age we live in is absolutely amazing. We can pursue free education via the internet and have access to more information than would be imaginable two generations ago. I really believe that we have the potential to live forever (if politicians and governments don’t fuck it up), but even if I do die I am glad to live in a world of such dynamic change.
  • It took years and lots of sacrifices but I ended up with a job that allows me the freedom I need. I can be a minimalist by working only a few hours a week but still have more joy, happiness, and adventures than I would have imagined as a kid.
  • I am healthy. Part of that is my decisions to change my diet and my lifestyle (I am thankful that I made that decision early in life instead of waiting until my 40’s to take care of my body), and part of it is simply genetics. I don’t have a sweet tooth, my oral health is good, I am rarely sick, and my body responds quickly to exercise.
  • I’ve had a life filled with new adventures and a lot of potential for more. There are many options for new drugs, sexual experiences, travel, and accomplishments. I can pursue all of those without much risk.
  • I’m thankful for my military brothers. We have a bond that is beyond what many people can relate to. We certainly don’t share the same views on many things but we all know that we can call on each other in a time of need. I’ll always be a Blue Devil.
  • This last one came from reviewing my list… part of me doesn’t have a very “property oriented” (for lack of a better phrase) happiness response. I own basically nothing and have no desire to own anything more. I just don’t have that drive, and I am thankful for that.

My Death

It seems possible that I will die someday. I put the odds at 50/50. Because of that (and because I just finished Season 3 of “Six Feet Under”… goddamnit Lisa) I’ve been thinking a lot about what I would like to happen if I die. This probably isn’t legally binding, but I wish it was.

  1. My partner gets to make all the decisions. I’ve talked to her at length about this and she knows me best.
  2. If there is any money available (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA etc), I want that to be divided in half. The first half goes to Anna. The second half is divided again evenly among the children of the following people: Jordan Neiger, Sean Neiger, Kevin Neiger, Kayla Neiger, Colton Neiger, Kim Anderson Dean, Josh McIntyre, John Sleeman, Adam Cuppy, Blayne Bennett, and Megan Roberts. Most of them haven’t had children yet, but if they do I would want my finances to support them. I guess if they have kids after I die they are SOL… better start pumping out babies if you want a share of my wealth (again, HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA etc)
  3. I don’t really care what happens to my remains. I’ll be dead and the odds are pretty good I won’t care. Even if there is a life of some sort after this it probably doesn’t involve fretting over the condition of my remains. Do what you need to do to be happy.
  4. But, if you would be happy by doing something with my body that I want done with it then these are my thoughts… First, donate whatever you can to those in need. Second, don’t cremate my body or pump it full of chemicals. Third, take it out to nature somewhere and just let nature do it’s things. I’ve always loved the desert and forests, but any place will do. Let the animals and bugs eat me, let my chemicals breakdown and return to nature. From my body will be other life, and that is kind of badass.
  5. As far as a funeral, it is for you so do what you want to heal and be happy. But, it’d be pretty cool if beer was available and someone played some Kesha (I’d recommend her acoustic album). Again, this is for you so do what you need to be happy and move on.

Death is something that most people don’t like to think about. I don’t particularly like thinking about it, but it doesn’t frighten me. Death may come for us all. With our likely limited lives we should spend our time and energy on loving each other and living in the moment. Try new things, take changes, get the heart rate up, and use what time we have wisely. Take care of your body, but just enough so that it works well. Tell people you love them in whatever way you can… words are hard for some, so maybe hug them or give them a gift or look them in the eye. If there is something you want to do (bungee jumping, get a tattoo, have a foursome, etc) but are afraid I think you should do them sooner rather than later. Hell, do it this weekend if doing so won’t leave you homeless or unable to afford another meal. If you end up on a death bed your memories will be on those experiences, how they made you grow and challenged your sense of being, and not on the day-to-day monotony. And most of all, just love.

My Emotionally Abusive Relationship

A couple of days ago I shared an article on Facebook about abusive relationships (see: here) and I received a lot of comments and support. The article really spoke to me and I shared a bit about my own experience in this area, which caused several people to share their stories with me as well. Because of the response I’ve decided to elaborate on my experience a bit in hopes it might help someone else. Abusive relationships are a part of us until the day we die, but healing does come slowly and it is something we can thrive after. Breaking up with her was the second most difficult break-up I’ve ever had. The most difficult break up with a very different situation, the two of us were okay together but not long-term compatible. We didn’t see eye-to-eye on the long-term future but neither of us had a catalyst to break up, we just kind of drifted along for longer than we should have because everything was fine. We knew we shouldn’t be together but there was no good reason NOT to be together… but that is a story for another time I think.

Anyway, on to the story.

My first real, adult relationship was with Lyla*. We met when I was in the Army and we hit it off pretty quickly. She was a southern girl, very athletic, and a lot of fun to be around. In the beginning things were great, we lived a couple of hours apart but we made it work pretty well. She was my first sexual partner, and because of this I figured we would be together forever. In fact, I felt that God required it. My upbringing taught me that sex was only between married couples. Because Lyla and I had sex we had to get married, and if we got married God would bless our relationship and everything would work out perfectly. It turns out the fairy-tale I was taught was wrong.

The real problems didn’t start to develop until Lyla and I moved in with each other. When we lived apart she was cheating on me, but I didn’t know it. Ignorance was bliss. But when we started to live together it became harder and harder for her to cover her tracks. I could tell early on that something wasn’t right, but I buried my head in the sand for a long time. I made excuses for her and held her up on a pedestal. “She would never do that to me, she loves me!” I would tell myself.

As time went on she began to accuse me of cheating and began to control my life more and more. It started with small things, like telling me that a female classmate made her a little uncomfortable. She would ask me not to hang out with that person one-on-one… which seemed fine, she was only a classmate, afterall. She never had a real reason for her feelings, and she didn’t expressly forbid me from doing it, but I thought it was the right thing to do to make her more comfortable. Soon, those little requests evolved into more and more controlling behavior.

Her request that I not hang out with a specific woman turned into not talking to any female classmates via email or online at all. She would look over my shoulder while I was at the computer or snoop through my messages. “It isn’t that I don’t trust you, it is that I don’t trust them!” she would say. That wasn’t the truth though, she didn’t trust me. She knew she had no reason not to trust me, but she didn’t. I think she was projecting her own cheating on to me.

Eventually, she had me cut off from all my female friends. It happened so slowly and her reasoning seemed so valid that I didn’t see it for the controlling behavior that it was. After all, we were a couple and couples should really only do things together or with other couples, right? It even got to the point where strangers became arguments. I specifically remember one incident where I was driving our car while she was in the passenger seat. I looked left to check for traffic and there happened to be a woman in the car to our left, Lyla started yelling at me for “checking out” the woman next to us. I hadn’t checked her out, but just looking in the direction of another woman was enough to set her off and create a fight. It became easier to just keep my eyes down when with Lyla. I took the blame for anything other’s did as well… a classmate emails me class she missed and it was my fault, a stranger asks me for directions (happens all the time in a tourist town) and it is my fault, Lyla sees a girl looking at me and it is my fault.

She made excuses why the same rules didn’t apply to her. She was free to hang out with her ex-boyfriends because they were old friends. If I questioned this or expressed discomfort she would ridicule me, call me crazy, or paranoid. And I believed her. I thought I was being paranoid. Everything she said and did made sense to me, and my discomfort with it was my own fault.

During this time I was finishing up my Associate’s Degree and looking at four-year universities to transfer to. My top choices were Duke and Pepperdine, I knew they were tough to get into but I wanted to try. Lyla didn’t want me to try, so I didn’t. She didn’t want to leave the area we lived in and told me that I wasn’t allowed to either. She wanted to be close to her friends and family, the places she was comfortable with, even if that meant I worked as a security guard for the rest of my life. The only reason I was able to go to a four-year college at all was because I got my application in to College of Charleston during one of our break ups.

At this time I was really interested in politics and was doing a lot of reading and research on current events. She would become insanely jealous or angry if I would watch the news or read books that weren’t necessary for class. Everything was a challenge to her primacy in my life and she expected me to neglect my interests for her.

Our sex life continued to get more and more unhealthy. She would shame me for my sexual interests and my sex drive. I was working a lot, in school, and stressed out so my sex drive plummeted. She didn’t want much sex either from me, but my lowered libido was proof something was wrong with me. She often said that she thought I was “a faggot”. My reaction to that type of comment would be different today, but as a young Christian from a conservative background (but knowing my sexuality was more fluid than straight) that was a devastating comment and blow to my psyche. It didn’t help that I enjoyed (and still enjoy) sex doggie-style, which she also saw as “faggy”.

The few times when I openly expressed some of my sexual fantasies or interests she told me I was perverted and a freak. And I felt like I was, I felt alone and sure that she was the only person that would love me or put up with me. I now know that my fantasies and interests were fine and pretty vanilla, but I had no sexual role-models and I had no idea where to get real information. All I had was Christian books like “I Kissed Dating Good Bye” which made me feel like a dirty, failing sinner who deserved hell (and would get hell if I didn’t hurry up and get married).

We weren’t making much money at this time. We both had part-time jobs and I had GI Bill money coming in, but our finances were a mess. She kept all of her paycheck for spending money (because  she earned it) but all my income went to rent, bills, food, and other expenses. I rarely had any money for little things like a quick meal or a beer, much less money for books and tuition. I took out loans for school (despite the GI Bill) because the one time I asked her if we could divide the finances more evenly she freaked out and told me to sleep on the couch. She locked me out of our bedroom. This was a common tactic anytime I would bring up a concern of mine… any fight was my fault and I had to sleep on the couch. None of my concerns were ever addressed, I was simply the bad guy for bringing them up.

Over several months we would break up and get back together. I would find proof she was cheating and end things. Then, she would call me crying and I would take her back. We would have some really amazing sex and I would think “this time we will get things right”. This went on for months. I wish I could say I was eventually strong enough to keep things separated, but I wasn’t. I was weak and gave in to her body or emotions every time.

Eventually, she started dating someone else and had no reason to come back to me anymore. Time went on and I turned my heart off for a while. I got cold inside, I did all I could to stop emotions. I embraced logic above all else, read a bunch of Ayn Rand, and studied economics. I don’t regret studying economics, I love economics, but I wonder if I would have gone into that field if I wasn’t introduced to it during this dark time. I spent about five years in this darkness, I contemplated suicide many times, and my “relationships” were almost entirely sexual. But, eventually it passed. Sun began to enter my heart again and I started to feel love for others. I saw beauty in the world and others. Things got better.

The scars are still there, but they are small now. Occasionally, the damage done by Lyla sneaks up on me but I can easily see it for what it is and brush it aside. Even to this day it is hard for me to be mad at her, I love my current life so damn much and I wouldn’t be here right now if I hadn’t gone through that experience with Lyla. That isn’t to excuse her behavior, but I do recognize that in the end I am in a good place with a wonderful partner on an amazing adventure and I can’t imagine being happier.

If you are dealing with an abusive relationship of some sort and need help please feel free to reach out to me. I know they take different forms, and experiences get much worse than mine. I don’t know where to draw the line on what counts as abusive, but if your partner snoops on your phone or computer, isolates you from friends based on gender or prevents you from having new friends, blames you for other’s actions, finds excuses for why you can’t pursue the life you want, is unwilling to communicate or makes you feel like your concerns are never valid, shames you for your sexual interests, sexual orientation, or relationship orientation, or ever, ever physically harms you, then that is abuse. Love does not control, belittle, or harm.

* fake name

Higgins (Higgles, Higgs-Boson, Professor Higgins, et al)

We’ve been in Southern California for the last week and we were not able to take our dog with us. I miss his fucking face. LOOK AT HIS FACE!!!!! I get to see him in about six hours and I can’t wait. He is better than people and he loves me. He is our furbaby. We won’t be having human babies, but we have him and he will get all our love.


Tragedy + Time

I don’t have any words right now, my mind and spirit are a clusterfuck of emotions. Beauty and horror fill our world, but in the end we will all be okay. I’ll let Rise Against speak for me.

And the bravest of faces are the ones where we fake it
And the roles that we play

Nothing matters when the pain is all but gone
When you are finally awake
Despite the overwhelming odds, tomorrow came
And when they see you crack a smile
And you decide to stay a while
You’ll be ready then, to laugh again


All the edges of the sharpest knives
In the middle of the darkest nights
Always knew that I would find you here
In the bottom of the gravest tears
I’ve seen enough to see it’s lonely where you are

Above the cloud
Been tangling by the rooftop
She wait from ledges for advice to talk her down

Nothing matters but the pain, you’re all alone
The never ending night when you’re awake
When you’re playing out tomorrow, it’s OK
There will be the time to crack another smile
Maybe not today or for a while
But we’re holding on you won’t forget some day
You can’t forget some day

All that matters is the time we had
Doesn’t matter how it all went bad
Never wonder what it might be like
Shut the door, say goodbye
When things grew tragically
We come alive or come undone

So don’t look back
Let it shape you like a notion
Even the deepest scars in time will fade

Nothing matters but the pain, you’re all alone
The never ending night when you’re awake
When you’re playing out tomorrow it’s OK
There will be the time to crack another smile
Maybe not today or for a while
But we’re holding on you won’t forget some day
You can’t forget some day

And sometimes you have to go back
To know just where you were then
But we’re old enough to know that
What has been, will be again and again

And the bravest of faces are the ones where we fake it
And the roles that we play

Nothing matters when the pain is all but gone
When you are finally awake
Despite the overwhelming odds, tomorrow came
And when they see you crack a smile
And you decide to stay a while
You’ll be ready then, to laugh again

Nothing matters but the pain
(We are tragedy, yeah, we are sympathy)
Nothing matters but the pain
You see what you want to see

Nothing matters but the pain
(We are misery, a distant memory)
Nothing matters but the pain
We all learned to laugh again
Yeah, we all learned to laugh again
We all learned to laugh again


My partner and I have been in Southern California for the last few days, which is why I’ve missed blogging the last few days. Between going out, catching up with friends, and recovering from drug-fueled nude parties that raged all night (mostly kidding) I haven’t made the time to blog. It was a conscious decision and I don’t feel bad about it.

Visiting LA regularly is pretty important for my partner and I. As much as we love cycling and travelling we need to visit our tribe regularly, and many of them live in Southern California. As much as we didn’t fit in with the culture in this area there are wonderful people here who make our lives complete, in many ways they make life worth living. Having people you can talk with about anything, cuddle on the couch with and do nothing, or know you won’t be judged for your looks, thoughts, or deeds. People you can be naked around, physically and mentally. True love exists in friendship, and I am forever grateful for the friends I have here.

Our time here is always too short. A week goes by so quickly when the nights are filled with laughter and the days filled comfort. I wish we could stay with our tribe longer than just a few days at a time. We daydream about a time in the future when we all live in the same town, though realistically that won’t happen. Despite our common interests and love for each other our lives are heading so many directions. We have different passions and different cities we want to live in… though it would still be the tits if we could all just live on a farm together hanging out around the bonfire and showering outdoors.

That day won’t ever come, but that’s okay, we live in a world with many options. No matter where we live a Facebook message or a quick flight can reconnect us. My tribe is spread like a spiderweb around the world, some of the wires are strong and some weaker, but they all connect me to my friends. LA may be a focal point but it is made stronger by the connections to Dallas, Portland, DC, Charleston, South Africa, and beyond.

There was a time when keeping in touch would be impossible, but now technology has allowed for me to stay connected to those I love. This isn’t an excuse for neglect though. As Baz Luhrmann states in the greatest song ever “Everybody is Free to Wear Sunscreen” (see below), “Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle. The older you get the more you will need the people that knew you when you were young.”

Some of my tribe did know me when I was “young”, though that is a relative term. I guess some of my “newer” friends will be my old friends when I am in my 50’s. My best friend, who lives here, has known me since 4th grade, nearly 25 years now, but we have many dear friends here who feel nearly as close to us and I can tell they will be with us in the decades to come. There is a certain bond that grows stronger each year, as long as we work to stay connected and grow with each other. Technology is magical, but it can also feed complacency. When something is easy to do any day it becomes easy to push off until tomorrow, and the next thing you know a year has passed.

So, as this trip gets closer to the end my mind is on my tribe. The chosen family who made me who I am and put up with my nonsense. I love them and often miss them, the moments I’ve shared with them have made my life the amazing experience that has been so far.

My Musical Evolution

Music is magical. There is something about it that can transport me anywhere. I takes just a moment for me to get lost in the past, present, or future.  If the soul exists, music is the purest form of communication between different souls. Listening to music (sadly, I have yet to find any musical talent within myself) has always been important to me throughout my life, though the genres that I listened to have varied widely.

Growing up I was only allowed to listen to Christian and Country music. I guess this was to prevent me from being dirtied by the secular world. In a way this makes sense, my home was “god and country”, Christian music reinforced the religious foundation and Country is very American nationalism. I didn’t mind country but I was more in tune with rock during my teenage years. My cassette tapes were mostly Audio Adrenaline, Newsboys, Petra, and dc Talk. I proudly wore their t-shirts to high school which, in retrospect, probably didn’t help my decidedly unpopular and nerdy persona.

Aside from occasionally listening to the radio (KNRK Portland – The New Rock Alternative!) I didn’t have a lot of secular variety in my music until I discovered MxPx. MxPx is a punk band that was (is?) also Christian. Their music had some religious aspects but they weren’t in your face about it. God may be mentioned but the focus was on being a teenager and surviving the world. The lyrics spoke to me at a time in my life when I was trying to figure things out as a Christian teen. By listing their influences on the back of their CD cases MxPx also introduced me to non-Christian punk bands like NOFX, The Ramones, and Misfits. I started to realize you can be influenced by artists who have different political and religious views than you. At this point I was no longer young enough for my parents to control my music.

When I joined the Army I had shifted pretty strongly into punk, pop-punk, and emo. Again, I think this is a reflection of the lyrics. The words always came first to me, regardless of musical genre. Bands like Fallout Boy, Tsunami Bomb, Blink-182, Green Day, and The Ataris filled my harddrive (thanks Napster!). While I was still pretty conservative at the time these musical influences were decidedly not. Around this time there was a lot of anti-war sentiment within music, particularly when Bush sent troops into Iraq. My only interaction with non-Conservative thought at that time was within music. It was a strange time, I would be listening to American Idiot by Green Day while reading a book by Sean Hannity.

Punk was my primary influence for most of college until I was introduced to EDM. EDM was more than just music, it was a community. Being at a rave with tens of thousands of other people dancing and enjoying life was a surreal experience. It was pure, beautiful anarchy. I particularly love artists like Krewella who mix lyrics I can relate to with music I can dance to (Dance, much like playing an instrument, is an art that is traditionally lost on me). I have come to believe that EDM is the newest example of music reflecting the newest generation of a culture. It is often hated by “old” people who see it as noise instead of music. There is always a view that music “used to be good”, but really it is all good for the people involved in it. Music is how youth show their independence and create something unique. It adapts new technology, criticizes old institutions, and is an outlet for frustrations and love. It is how we connect and create a new world.

At this point in my life I love EDM and Kesha and music that inspires revolution (Rise Against, Flobots, et al). I love female voices and lyrics I can relate to. I love being in the crowd, feeling the sweat and tears of a thousand friends, and making eye contact with strangers that express pure love. I love when music allows my soul to talk to another soul. I’m sure my musical tastes will continue to change and evolve with the times (at least I hope so), and I’m excited to see what new generations create.