Early years (1989-2004)

I'm the second of five kids, and I was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico to a ministry family in 1989. I remember fire ants crawling up my pants. I remember chasing tumbleweeds out onto the road. I remember our friendly dog Matt, and our jerk dog Buster who got hit by a car. I remember the smell of the rain in the desert, and that scent still creates an emotion in me like I can't describe. I've never had a hometown for long, so maybe it's something to do with being homesick for where I was born. My dad would leave caps on our dresser in the mornings. We'd wake up, stick'em in our cap guns and go scare the birds out of the trees. We had cats too, and I guess I liked the kittens so much I tried to give them a bath in a bucket of cold water. We left there when I was four and gave our dog Matt to a man named Guy. He owned a junkyard.

We moved to Ohio for a few years. My parents made a bed in the back of a station wagon for when us kids needed to sleep and we made the drive from New Mexico to Ohio. It was dark when we got there and I remember looking up at the stars as I laid in the back of the car. We lived in an apartment in a town called Rosedale for a year. I learned to ride bike there and I saw some stuff I shouldn't have seen, but it was just kids being kids. Then we moved to a small village called Hartville two hours north where my dad finished up his bachelor's degree. I attended  the same college in 2007. I loved sleeping in so my parents sent me to the afternoon class for kindergarten when I was five. My mom held my hand on my first day and the next spring my teacher held me upside down in front of the whole class on my birthday. They tried to make me repeat kindergarten because I was social but not very academic. My dad didn't give a rip and said I'd be fine. He was right. 

My dad is the reason I play music. He gave me a guitar when I was five. He bestowed a violin on my older brother. I'm not sure what made him decide to do that and why he gave the guitar to me. But it changed my life forever. He taught me a few chords but I think my fingers weren't strong enough to start rocking out for real until I was seven. 

My dad was pretty creative himself. He played guitar and sang duets with my mom at church. He could build just about anything too. One time he took garage door openers and put them inside two toy rifles. Then he made bear and deer cutouts from wood, painted them, and made it so they'd fall down when you pointed the guns at them and pulled the trigger. The garage door opener inside the gun triggered the sensor he built into the boxes that supported the deer and bear. Before he gave them to me and my brother for Christmas he sealed the rifles back up in the packages so carefully you’d never know they were opened. I’ll try to find a picture  

I can't skip over first grade without saying I got sent to the principal when I said the word “sucks.” 

Some kid said, “Recess was short today.”

I said, “Yeah, that sucks.”

We moved to a suburb of Detroit called Dearborn the summer of 1996 for just a few months while my parents spent time learning more about Middle Eastern culture. It was my first experience eating pita bread cooked in a stone fire oven. A bunch of ladies thought my dad looked like Bill Clinton. I learned to ride my bike without my hands and this crazy dog spooked me while I was riding around the block. I fell off and bumped my head so hard I was apparently out for an hour or so. The owner of the dog was about to take me into her house when my parents came out looking for me. I woke up and didn't remember a thing for a while. While we were there I heard the neighbors having a party and listening to rock and roll. I knew we weren't supposed to listen to that stuff so I took a radio up in the top room, closed the door and tried to listen to it myself for a while. 

In the fall of 1996 we moved to Turkey. We lived there for eight years.