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Washed by Blood
Lessons from My Time with Korn and My Journey to Christ
In the beginning
I grew up in a southern California town called Bakers-ﬁeld, about an hour and a half from Los Angeles. In the past few years, the place has grown a ton, but when I was younger, it was still pretty small. There are two important things you should know about Bakersﬁeld when I was younger:
It was hot (we pretty much baked in the heat every summer, so we started calling it Bako).
There wasn't much to do.
My childhood there was pretty typical. Like a lot of kids in Bako, I grew up in a nice enough house with nice enough parents. We were pretty much a typical middle-class family of the 1980s, living at the end of a cul-de-sac in a one-story house with a basement. The basement was everyone's favorite room. We had a home theater system down there (well, as good as home theaters got back then), huge couches, a huge pool table, a big Asteroids game (just like they had at the arcade), and some workout equipment. Even my dad liked hanging out down there, since that's where he had his wet bar and a little bathroom he used every morning to get ready for work.
Because both of my parents worked a lot in order to provide for me and my older brother, Geoff, there wasn't a lot of time for hugs in the house. While I knew we all loved each other, it wasn't the kind of place where everyone said it or showed it all the time. We didn't talk about feelings and we didn't go out of our way to comfort each other. For the most part, my dad was a pretty cool guy. He coached my soccer team as well as my brother's,took us motorcycle riding, and when he was in a good mood, he made us laugh a lot.
But every now and then, he'd have these moments when he'd get kind of crazy. I don't want to sound like I grew up with some abusive father or anything, because he wasn't; when he was nice, he was really nice. But when he got angry, he got scary. Part of it had to do with his drinking; his dad was an alcoholic, and my dad drank a bit too.
While my dad usually got happy when he was drunk, he definitely had his moments when his temper would flare up—even over little things. I remember a few times when my brother or I would spill a glass of milk at dinner, and he'd change into a totally different person, yelling at us with a voice full of anger, a voice that made us feel like we were going to get beatings, though he never followed through with those. A few minutes after his anger fits ended, he was usually back to normal. They were scary moments, but then they would pass.
Mostly, though, my dad drank to escape things. His mother died when I was in high school, and his drinking got much worse after that. I remember one time I came home in the middle of the day and saw that my dad had stopped by to pick up some papers. When I came into the kitchen, he was sitting there with a glass of water in front of him. I was about to take a swig when I realized what it really was: vodka. Drinking became how he dealt with things, and it didn't do much to stop his outbursts of anger.
My mom didn't have the same problem with drinking and, for the most part, she was pretty cool and laid back—more or less your standard mom. She was a good cook, made dinner every night, helped get us ready for school in the mornings, kept the house really clean, basically your typical mom stuff. A lot of the time, it seemed like she had it more together than anyone else in our house, but she had her issues too—just like everyone else in the world. Growing up, I felt the most love from my mom, probably because she didn't have the unpredictable emotions that my dad did.
My brother Geoff is two years older than I am, and, like all brothers, he and I fought a lot when we were kids. A couple of times it was brutal, but it wasn't always that way. We also used to play games together for hours and make each other laugh. As we got older and became teenagers, we began pushing each other away in a more serious manner. In general, it wasn't personal; it was mostly that we were just into different stuff.
For example, I was into heavy metal (think: AC/DC), but he was into new wave music (think: Duran Duran). Back then the rockers didn't get along with the new wave crowd. Geoff used to pin his jeans real tight at the bottom, and his hair was long on one side of his face—down past his eye—while on the other side, it was cut short; it was the classic new wave hairdo. I would constantly make fun of him for it and for being new wave in general.
One time we were arguing in our basement about something stupid, and I picked up a pool cue and whacked him with it as hard as I could. Got him good too. I knew he was going to kill me for that, so I ran to my mom and hid behind her until he calmed down. Even though he didn't get me that time, he usually got me back. When he was sixteen, he had this yellow Volkswagen bug that was slammed to the ground with matching yellow rims. One day I took the bus a half hour across town to go hang out at the mall all day with one of my friends, and at the end of the day, I was tired and seriously not looking forward to another half hour bus ride home. We saw my brother in his bug, and I asked him for a lift.Washed by Blood
Lessons from My Time with Korn and My Journey to Christ. Copyright © by Zondervan. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.