By the way, sign up now if you want easy updates to Fallen and Flawed.
Hi, my name is Demian Farnworth and my very first memories involve a window well, shaving cream and the loo.
The window well is where I threw my Life cereal. The Life cereal I told dad I ate. The cereal he found. The cereal I cleaned up.
The shaving cream was on my dad’s face. It seems like my dad was always in the bathroom and was always shaving. Thus, shaving cream on his face.
And I was on the loo when I asked my dad “How do blind people wipe?” Dad, who was at the sink shaving, looked down at me and behind the thick, white lather on his face smiled.
All that happened in Collinsville, IL, where I no longer live.
My sister and I were pretty normal growing up. We rolled down hills in dog kennels, threw rocks at kids, toured whiskey distilleries and walked very quietly through our Nashville apartment when dad was home.
When we got grounded, dad would send us to our room–the room we shared. I’m not sure what she did, but I would lay on my bed and read the encyclopedia.
Inevitably I would fall asleep, and then wake up with my arm around that encyclopedia. This was the start of a life of reading, and, I believe, the start to an indifference to television.
When we got sent to bed early for some bit of naughtiness, my sister and I would sit on the stairs and peek through the banisters to watch television. Our parents watched some pretty bizzare stuff.
For instance, a show about Jews being starved to death and then massacared. It was about the battle of Masada. Of course I didn’t know that at the time. I just knew that some very extreme Jews refused to surrender, so they slaughtered themselves except a woman and five children.
The next day at breakfast, still stunned at what I saw, I blurted, “What was up with that show last night?!”
It was a long time after that I was allowed to watch television again. But it didn’t matter, I no longer trusted the boob tube.
It’s worth noting at this point that my memory, like the television, is not to be trusted. No worries. Yours sucks just about as bad as mine does.
The Catholic School
When we were in junior high my sister and I did a stint at a Catholic school, which fascinated me to no end.
I liked the novelty of wearing green pants and a white polo. The robes, the wood closets where you kept the robes, the incense, the long rods used in processions, the long, narrow coat closets at the back of each classroom, the nuns who served as teachers, the linoleum floor that covered every walkable surface, the books on religion and the soaring gymnasium I was convinced would collapse at any moment.
It all fascinated me to no end. My sister, however, could not get over the plaid skirts.
It was with my friends at this school where I got into my first fist fight. I lost, walking back to our apartment with a bloody nose. Fortunately, my Star Wars AT-ST had arrived early that afternoon, giving me the perfect comfort in my time of need.
Ah, Catholic school.
In high school I managed to fail German, read the Old Man and the Sea, drink heavily most nights, ace building trades, destroy three cars and work at my grandfather’s liquor store. It was really an ideal education, which is why they handed me a diploma on some hot May afternoon in 1990.
College beckoned, and since work seemed like a bad way to spend one’s life, I went to the local college. To my surprise, they loaned me money to attend, which I faithfully spent.
As I mentioned above, because the high school I attended didn’t use a standard curriculum, I was forced to take remedial English, Math, History and Science and hang out with losers. (Yes, indeed, I do see the irony in that.)
About the only class that I really enjoyed and actually did quite well in at that point was Geometry. Enboldened by my success, I decided I was going to be a civil engineer. Civil engineers built bridges, and I liked the idea that one just might be named after me.
Unfortunately, nobody told me that the field to be in if you wanted a bridge named after you was politics–not civil engineering. But by that time, I had had enough. Never mind that was just two weeks after I took a brutal beating during a five week course in Trigonometry. Ten school days in and I was through. Off to find something new to do with my life!
With college behind me, the thing I found in which I could pour my energy into was Colt 45. Three dollars for two bottles and I was a one-man Cirque du Soleil. I was also prone to drinking urine [the bottles were perfect for relieving one’s self in], and waking up in strange trailer homes or hanging from my step-father’s beard at 3 in the morning.
Let’s explore that last one a bit.
I hung from my step-father’s beard because that was about the only thing I could do when we got into a fight. Well, when I tried to fight him. Bless his heart, at 6’4″ and 280, he never fought back, although he had plenty words for me.
Words that I deserved.
During that time I wore wife beaters, suspenders and bagging pants. I’d dyed my hair pink and wandered the neighborhood streets lined with decrepitate one-stories, dirt lawns and overgrown underbrush when I was bored.
At one point, a good friend of mine invited me to live with him in Boston. I promised him I would come. And then I unpromised him.
I simply didn’t have the guts. I was a coward who had a problem with authority, thus my bristling at my step-father’s suggestion that I not drive his Rabbit while drinking Colt 45.
How dare he tell me what to do.
However, the fights with step-dad reached a tipping point in which my real father, who was in between assignments (he was in the army) offered to move me down to North Carolina.
To make a long story short, I went. And then, after a year-and-a-half, I crawled back. Hard living had raked me through the coals, and I needed a breather.
Back with mom, step-dad hovering over me, I started to write.
I started writing a story about a man who was stuck in a small dining room with people he hated. It didn’t take me long to realize the stupidity of what I wrote, so I was happy to abandon it when offered a job as a waiter.
(I also used the excuse that I’d actually finished the story in one go, and that it was perfect in form and structure, and there was nothing more I could do with it. Thus, time to wait tables.)
The waiter thing put money in my pocket, but not very much since I wasn’t very good at it. See, I couldn’t stand people, and it annoyed me ever so much to have to take their order. To add insult to injury, I was then obligated to bring them their food. It was humiliating, so I quit and became a bus boy.
That suited me just fine, and didn’t bother me one bit that I was 21 years old and making less money than I did when I was 16. Usually as people got older they made more money.
I could let the real pros make the tips, I’d clean their tables in record time and then they would split the tips with me.
If you’re thinking, “When is he going to quit that job?” your answer is about a year or so later. Absolutely exhausted, I walked out during one of the busiest nights of the year. And never went back.
That’s when I hit rock bottom.
The Rock Bottom
You never know when you start falling. Maybe it’s 16. Or 13. Hell, it could be 8, 3 or the day you were born.
It doesn’t matter. At some point you start falling.
And then crash.
I woke up in the room of the basement of a good friend. It was a nice set up. A kitchen (everything painted stark white), bathroom, living room and bedroom. I’d been living there for several months, sleeping on a cedar futon I built myself. And for several months I’d been waking up in it.
This day I woke up and knew that it was my last. I had no job. No money. And no girlfriend. I would indulge the fantasy I’d been entertaining for years, and finally kill myself.
There is a certain peace that comes over you when you make a resolution like that. That’s why I was able to sit calmly on the couch and surf the television channels, buying time and evaluating options.
How would I do it? Shoot myself? I don’t have a gun. Poison myself? But I don’t have poison. OD? I don’t have any drugs. I didn’t have the courage to drown or throw myself in front of a bus.
As fate would have it, as I channel surfed, I landed on the show of a local television evangelist, set down the remote and listened.
Her sermon was about the ant and the sluggard, the contrast between diligent hard work to prepare for winter versus the sloth and his poverty.
I hardly think that was the message I needed to hear, but the consequence of watching that woman preach was nothing short of saving my life.
Perhaps I really didn’t have the courage to kill myself, but I ended up in my aunt’s bedroom, gushing, begging not to die. She, my aunt, evangelical as all get out, led me to the Lord.
I stopped drinking and smoking and started reading a Bible. I started going to church, praying and bouncing through the halls. I moved back in with my mother and even got my step-dad to read the Bible with me.
For a rabid reader of soldier of fortune novels, that was nothing short of a miracle.
I got real chummy with him at that point and he eventually taught me how to rock climb. He introduced me to his fantastic, rock star climbing buddies, two of whom I started working for.
Around this time I met my wife. She stumbled into the rock climbing gym where I worked, tagged along when my step-dad and I went climbing outside and cooked me some to-die-for dinners.
I liked her because she had her act together. She had a job, a car and common sense. That would prove indispensable.
After just five or six months of dating her, she became my longest-standing relationship. That also meant she endured some of the most bone-headed stupidity any man should be allowed by law to put a woman through.
I almost lost her. And I think she and I both knew it. We were in the middle of a two week climbing trip, it was the middle of the summer and we were physically exhausted. Nobody thought the relationship was going to last.
The picture of that trip that best describes the condition of our relationship is this: in the desert highlands of Wyoming, me inside the tent reading The Brothers Karamazov and my wife sitting outside of the tent with her head between her knees.
It was sad.
In fact, it took the death of my step-dad to snap me to attention, an event that occurred during this rock climbing trip.
We were in the Grand Tetons, climbing a cliff face called Symmetry Spire. It started to rain, we decided to bail (which meant rappell down the cliff) and one of the rope anchors did not hold my step father.
He fell 200 feet to his death.
Soon after that, I proposed to my girlfriend, and we were married six months later.
The Domesticated Man
I went back to college, got my degree in English Literature and, interestingly enough, started working for the preacher I saw on television. I stayed there for almost two years, went to work for a good friend who then introduced me to the magic known as sales copywriting.
That broke me of ever wanting to write poetry again (did I mention I’ve written some very bad poetry…and even had some of it published! Shame on me!) and I then devoted my life to learning this trade.
My wife gave birth to two children, we went to a small church and I participated whole-heartedly at. I was pretty certain I was a Christian.
We had a small, but quaint house on a busy street. The back yard was big, where trees over 40 feet tall towered, occassionally dropping widow makers to the earth. We did not play in the back yard on windy days.
At one point I got bit by the fiction writing bug. I joined a local writing club, swung through some dives to read and wrote short stories about clorox bottles and fuzzy puzzles.
To say I was obssessed would be an understatement. I was driven. And pretty much lived for one thing only: writing.
That devotion led to a tremendous dive in my relationship with my wife. So much so that I strayed and found myself in an emotional relationship with someone else. My wife innocently discovered this and confronted me. Though she swears she never said it, I was certain she spoke the “d” word.
That put a white hot fear in me. Anything. Anything. I would do anything to protect my marriage.
Drop my obsession with writing.
Pick up my Bible.
Eliminate unhealthy relationships.
I even started hobnobbing with some chums from church who introduced me to the gospel. The real gospel. The gospel that says I was a sinner in need of redemption.
Strange, I thought I was saved.
I found out the truth, however, that although I went through the motions, my heart was woefully rebellious. I’d never truly surrendered and never truly loved God.
I hated my brother. Hated the thought of Jesus’ return. Loved my sin. And loved my self more than anything in this whole earth.
Yes, I was a bona fide hypocrite. A fraud. And the gospel exposed all that.
That threw me into limbo. Lying awake in the early morning I did not know who I was. I just knew I needed to pursue God.
I decided to wait a year to start a blog, and that blog was Fallen and Flawed. I treated it like a MA, pulling down a list of books to read from a local syllabus…and then blogging about those books.
But eighteen months later and over 300 articles in the archives, I stopped blogging. For the next three or six months I lumbered on, head down, but generally ignoring the world of blogging.
And then I let the domain expire.
I thought that would be okay with me. But I eventually reached a point where I knew I probably shouldn’t have let the domain expire. That was the least of my worries at that time.
Well, in 2011 I quit my full time job and decided to go to seminary. I would work as a freelance writer to support my family. To give them the shelter, the clothes and the food they needed.
Two-and-a-half weeks into a wicked hard 5-week course on Biblical Greek, however, I realized that I did not have the stamina to do both. So I dropped out of school, killing one of my life long dreams, and poured all my effort into working.
God generously and graciously blessed that work. Within six months I was making more than I did as a paid employee. Even then, the freelance perks are not without their downsides.
For the next four months I worked hard. Really, really hard. And fell into some bad habits. I eventually ran myself into the ground, and within a week’s time suffered two minor breakdowns.
Something had to change. But what? I looked at working for non-profits. Going back to school. Entering a writing contest. Giving up altogether.
Nothing seemed attractive.
It was from the persistent urging of my wife that I finally decided to resurrect Fallen and Flawed.
Unfortunately, when I went to hunt down fallenandflawed.com, somebody already had it. Yeah, I’m not interested in buying it from him. So, here I am, once again behind the wheel, with a new domain.
I’ve uploaded most of the old blog posts, re-arranged the Must Read page, created a page devoted to guides and will try to post two to three days a week.
Why am I doing this again? I like to write. I like to tell stories. I like to entertain. Most importantly, however, I like to preach the gospel.
Or, better yet, subscribe to the blog. Please.