Once again John, thank you for the honor of adding my name in your book. That really had me going, still do J.
- We all have a story to tell, some, like me, do not like to talk about my experiences. I find it difficult and sometimes even heartbreaking to talk about it, so I avoid the subject about me wherever I can. What prompted you in doing this and being so open about it?
I think the openness happened over the course of the last 25 years while I was writing songs. I learned to be as genuine as possible with my lyrics and music, and the genuineness had a snowball effect. The more genuine I was, the more I learned about myself through writing. Then I really got deep down to what was really going on inside, and the deep down stuff turned out to be fairly universal.
I was watching a documentary yesterday called “Mister Rogers and Me.” In that documentary, Fred Rogers tells Benjamin Wagner: “Deep and simple is far more essential than shallow and complex.” In my experience, the deeper down you go, the more you see the sameness in people. So I have come to think, why not be open?
Obviously, one answer is because of the inevitable harsh criticism, which I have certainly been subjected to, but I don’t expect everyone to understand or relate to this story. Those people who don’t and are vocal about it will naturally be harsh. Understanding and empathizing are difficult. Criticizing is easy. Just because someone criticizes, it doesn’t mean my story isn’t helpful to someone else. And that will be true of all our stories.
- Are you still friends with Emily, the lady that introduced you to Cindi and also helped you in many ways? If so, what does her friendship mean to you?
I haven’t talked to Emily since 2001. She was the one woman who I thought had it all together and had so many characteristics I longed for in a girlfriend/wife. What I learned, and I probably won’t get to this in the rest of the series, was that she didn’t have everything. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I ended up finding girls who were even closer to what I needed/wanted than she was. I do miss her positivity once in a while, and I imagine we will run into each other again, but I haven’t actively perused a reunion.
- In the beginning of the book, you said, you realized that Cindi was trouble and you thought, at the tender age of 25, that you could help her. Why did you think you could?
Helping is in my nature, and I thought she was worth my trying to help. I did see many good signs at first. She had been in Green Peace and was quite idealistic in many ways. I thought that was really cool. The only problem was she actually felt that things like Green Peace or being an organ donor were big mistakes. I thought, “Here’s this really genuinely good person who puts other people first,” and the whole time she was regretting doing those things. She got talked into that stuff and resented the people who talked her into everything I admired about her.
- The young boy that acted foolishly with Maggie, is he still alive or did he become a grown-up, all serious and wise? Giggles
I’m not as much of an idiot as I was! (My wife would argue that point, by the way.) I absolutely still goof around with my kids, though. We can get on Mamma’s nerves if we horse around for too long, so I do eventually have to go back to grown up mode or find another place to live. J
- Throughout the book, you mentioned signs. Signs that were posted throughout your life, warning you but you never did see them for what they were, and when you did, it seemed to have backfired in any case. How do you feel about signs now?
I think we all see signs. They are lessons that need to be learned. There’s no way to understand them until we go through the experience.
- Has it become a way of life now and do you teach your children about their importance as well?
I have told Charles, my son with my ex, that he is meant to learn something from all this. I don’t know what it is, because it’s something that is specifically for him to learn. Still, I tell him he will have an opportunity to help others with it once it is learned.
- Your tenacity to stick around and endure, which in itself, is not a bad thing to do. It shows you are dependable as a person, husband and father. Is it still evident in your life today, or did you learn to let go, as your father taught you…you know to walk away, choosing your fights?
There are those for whom you should not stick around. Those who will use every opportunity to take advantage of you. With Cindi, it’s always money. Still. I try to be as fair as possible with her and Charles, but you will read in later books how far she will go and how awful she can make life for me. So I stick around with those who are worth sticking around for. I keep Cindi at arm’s length. Also, after Cindi, I had a very tough decision to stick around with my current wife, but that’s in the next book.
- When you were 25 you had a specific idea about paternal instincts, do you still feel the same, now that you are older?
I had no idea about paternal instinct at 25 except for feeling it from my dad, grandpas, and a few teachers and coworkers. When I thought about it over time, I realized it was another version of what I got from my mom and grandmas and friends’ moms. But it wasn’t maternal like I saw in the moms. It was paternal. It was genuine caring but in a dad kind of way. Men and women can both be very caring, and we all have to remember that we all have the ability in us…and to use it!
- Are you by nature a patient man?
Absolutely not. I am still learning patience. My wife is my teacher.
- The question what is right and what is wrong (what is right for the one is maybe wrong for the next person, as we could clearly see in your marriage with her), guilt, telling the white lie, responsibility, accountability, pressure to perform as a human being, we all struggle with these emotions and feelings from time to time. In your case it seems to have backfired majorly in your life with Cindi, does it still plague you or do you handle the situations differently?
I’m a people pleaser, so I still struggle with pleasing everyone, which, of course, isn’t possible. I want everyone to be happy and pleased, but in real life, there’s always someone who is going to have a problem with something. So if something I do backfires, that’s just the way it is. I feel bad, but I have to stop beating myself up while continuing to do positive things. Unfortunately, what is positive for one person may be negative for another, so I try to make sure I am not coercing or tricking someone into doing something my way in the name of a positive outcome.
- Now looking back, what would you have done differently?
Nothing. I couldn’t expect that of myself. I did the best I could.
- Are you still this honest as you were with Kim, telling her about your problems so that she knew what she was getting involved with? On the other hand, do you hold back your feelings, thoughts and struggles?
Depends who I’m talking to. Like probably a lot of people, I have people who I can really talk to and they know my real feelings about things despite the importance of conformity in certain situations. I’m honest with everyone until he or she proves he or she can’t handle my honesty. Then I just try to be silent around such a person. For example, I have been perfectly honest with my boss and his boss in the warehouse where I work. My boss can handle it, and we have a great friendship. His boss can’t handle my honesty. I don’t fit the model in the management classes he took. I mean, they really didn’t cover someone like me. So I just stay away from him. If he wants my opinion, I’ll give it, but he never likes it. Our relationship is what Martin Buber would call I-it. He sees me as an ‘it.’ The relationship my boss and I have is I-you. We see each other as equal humans and can talk more deeply because it is natural for us. I-you interaction is paramount to understanding each other.
- To isolate yourself is a protective meganism that many people have, I know I talk of personal experience, it automatically kicks in when you are not in a good place, how did this benefit you in the long run?
Isolation didn’t work very well for me. I need time to meditate on my own to understand my life, but I need my family and friends to understand myself. Both are necessary.
- Complete the sentence: To exist without living…
I don’t know. You have to jump in and live. Otherwise you are sheltered from everything in life and learn nothing.
- To turn back is like a dog that returns to its own vomit, very crude I know but you returned to Cindi, still thinking that you could help, be the father, be the husband but matters worsened, now looking back what is your thoughts about that?
That is what I was taught to do. “For better or worse.” However, what works in one situation does not always work in another. What was right for one person cannot become a mandate for another. You have to learn to trust yourself and practice following your own heart. Practicing that means you will make mistakes. Returning was my mistake, but I learned from it and can’t say it wasn’t helpful. Now I can turn around and share what I learned from bad decisions like that.
- How do the lessons you have learned benefit you in your relationship with your wife and children now?
I have learned to trust my wife, and that wasn’t easy. I had some serious trauma because of my first marriage, and my older children had to live through some of the effects of my recovery, as did my current wife. I hope they have at least learned that marriage takes work and is never perfect but can turn out well when both partners are committed to one another. My younger ones missed a lot of that turmoil and have had a more secure childhood. I hope that benefits them.
- Music played a huge part during this time and at one stage, you had to let it go to save whatever was left of your marriage. Do you still find solace in the writing process, performing and making music?
I do, although I am so obsessive about completing my projects, that it makes me hard to live with. I have cut back quite a bit in terms of performing, writing, and recording. I’m in my life and I have to live it.
- Are you still fearful that people will not come to a show?
I don’t care about numbers anymore. The people who matter to me are the ones who interact positively with me. Quality over quantity.
- It seems to me that music gives you the voice to speak what is dear to your heart, please elaborate on that.
Music is spiritual. You hear someone’s spirit coming through music, no matter what kind of music it is. I learned early to allow my spirit to take over for my ‘ego’ and let the music happen. I was much happier when I learned to do that, and now I do it in all aspects of my life. I allow myself to be genuine.
- Do you still lose yourself in the music so that you forget your obligations?
Absolutely. There is a feeling I get, and if it is strong enough, I have to follow it. I think you see that a lot in people who make things. Something pulls you and makes you do it.
- What are you working on now?
Your interview. There is always a project, and sometimes that drives my wife crazy. In terms of books, I have From the Abyss I-III ready for editing (most of II is edited already by Sarah Wallace), and I am about a quarter of the way through a first draft of IV which will be the last one for a while. My wife and I are also collaborating on a kids’ book. Also, I am in talks with a somewhat well-known music group to help me record the album for book 1. All the music I wrote at the time the events of book 1 were happening will be recorded in a very cool way. I’m excited to start on that later this year. I have a “Best Of” out there and a few others coming out with a couple groups with whom I used to work. I’m lining up a few radio spots for the music stuff as well as the book stuff, so there is a lot going on. I never stop. Whatever I am supposed to do, when I feel it, I do it.
- How do you define creativity?
Creativity is what happens when we ask, “What if?” There is nothing more important than starting there. Everything starts with that question.
- What is next, will you continue with the autobiography/non-fiction or will you try something new, maybe fiction?
I can’t write fiction per se. I have this need to be truthful and authentic in everything, and I just can’t do that with fiction. I will do whatever I am supposed to do. I have no idea what it will be next.
- What is your favorite genre to read?
I don’t know about genre, but I have books that I constantly read. I read a book called Words from a Man of No Words by Shree Rajneesh. I also read I and Thou by Martin Buber quite often. I am going to go back and read Thoughts Are Things by Prentice Mulford again. I want to read Bo Lozoff’s Deep and Simple.
- Favorite author?
My curve-ball answer is Brian Wilson.
- Describe your writing process.
I need to have someone who I know is paying attention. Then I can start. In terms of songwriting, I always have had one undying fan, and that was a guy with whom I sometimes gigged and recorded named Pete. When I recorded something, I could think at least Pete would be interested in hearing it. But every project is different. There’s no one process. There’s probably a feeling that starts it, something I am compelled to do regardless of anything else. Then I do it and people usually get mad at me for spending the time, but if I know there is someone who will at least objectively look at what I did, then I feel justified.
27. How did/do you teach yourself to write?
By listening. I listen to people say things, colloquialisms, sounds of peoples’ voices, rhythms, tones. I listen to a lot of music, and I used to model my lyrics after people I listened to. Paul Simon and Van Dyke Parks were the two big ones. Eventually I developed a style of my own, and that’s how I write the books…like lyrics. Everything has a rhythm in my books.
28. What aspect of the craft do you think is most difficult to learn?
To be patient and wait for life experience. I wrote a book after college and realized I had not lived long enough to make an impactful ending. That was when I was 25. It took 12 more years before I realized I had lived long enough to amass some life experience to share.
29. What has been the most encouraging comment someone has made about your writing?
Whenever someone tells me he or she thinks my book will help someone.
30. What is the best and/ or worst part of being a writer?
I would say being called a writer is a negative for me. I hate to be cornered like that. Just because I was writing, I hate to then be defined by that action. We have to package people up like that because we need to categorize in order to explain our world, but it makes me very uncomfortable. I want to just be doing and forget what I have already done or how I will be perceived by categorists.
The positive side I think is simply doing. The best part of anything you do is the doing. I think people don’t realize that always.
31. Any advice for struggling writers?
Follow your heart.
32. Do you have a favorite spot to read and write?
I guess I don’t have any favorite spots. Wherever I am has to do. I write mostly in the warehouse where I work while waiting for trucks to come in.
1. You are an avid advocate for the Native American people, tell us more about that.
I’ve had a close association with two Lakota elders who call themselves Rainbow Warriors. There is a Lakota prophecy that says once all of us mess up the planet bad enough, there will be warriors of all colors and kinds who unite to make things right. However, if this doesn’t happen, we’ll be in trouble in terms of water and other essential resources. That’s where the rainbow warriors come in, and I have decided to be one because anyone can (and everyone should). I’m trying to tackle my part of it which is turning out to be understanding and discussing abuse and relationships.
2. Do you have a bucket/ to-do list and would you share at least two things on it?
My and my wife’s goal is to get an RV once our kids get bigger and more self-sufficient (we have a 13, a 12, and two sixes at the moment), and drive across country singing and playing at so-called rest homes or “old folks’ homes.” When my grandpa was in hospice, I looked around and thought, “These people really need music.” So that’s my one and only bucket item.
3. Most daring thing or experience you have done you would like to share.
I am a daredevil. There is no “most.” When everyone else opts out, I’ll do it. I’m also a ham, so you put daredevil and ham together and watch out. Once it’s done, though, it’s not daring anymore. The most daring thing I want to do is speak to groups about abuse, relationships, and understanding oneself through the writing process. I hope to move into that kind of venue eventually. That, to me, is daring at this moment.
This or that questions:
· Coffee or Tea – I like both, though I drink far more coffee…black.
· Sweet or savory – Sweet.
· Homemade meal or takeout – Anything my wife makes, even if I think I am not going to like it.
· Winter or summer – Autumn.
· Night-owl or Early-Bird – Early
· Telephone or visits – Neither.
· Which social network do you prefer? Facebook
· Blogger or website? Website, though I have sporadic blog entries.
· What does your family say about your career? Supportive or Clueless
Most are clueless, and I get mixed reactions from those who know about it. I think most people think I waste a lot of time and energy on all my projects.
Moto/wisdom in life you live by.
Listen to Brian Wilson’s “Love and Mercy.” That’s what I live by.
Contact details and buy links of the newest books you would like the readers to know.
24-year-old John Augustine is looking for a lasting, loving relationship and finds one hidden where he least expects it. Knowing that no relationship is perfect, he walks in with eyes wide open but is unable to see the future swirling with hell and heartache. Amidst the struggles of a new marriage, John begins to realize his wife is far different than the woman he thought he married. Her mental illness soon drags the new family past the point of no return. As a man, John struggles to be strong and tackle their problems single-handedly, though the marital foundation is eroding before his eyes. But once his wife files for divorce, he finds himself in a free-fall. Out of options, he accepts emotional support from an unexpected, beautiful girl. The new relationship leads to trouble, however, before the divorce can be finalized. Swallowed by conflicting pressures, John finds himself at the bottom of an abyss from which reemergence seems more and more unlikely. Will he make it back from the abyss?
John Emil Augustine grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota and toured in his twenties and early thirties with local and national acts; writing, arranging, and performing with notable jazz, blues, gospel, reggae, post funk, prog rock, and folk groups. John has also been a landscaper, mail carrier, English professor, and forklift operator. He currently lives in
Minneapolis with his wife
and four boys.
5 Star Review
I received this book from the author for and honest review.
I have read the original copy ‘Love seen from Hell’ in early 2012. It was one of my very first reviews in an official capacity. Back then, I was impressed with author John Emil Augustine’s openness and directness as he gave us a glimpse into his life, still am impressed with it.
An autobiography that touches the very heart of many failed marriages. Many men just do not talk about this subject, suffering in silence because they believe that nobody would believe them. That people would think they are failures just because they turn the other cheek, you know, not men. John, who has become a dear friend over the past year, destroys this myth, that men must be strong and endure…you know, man-up.
His frankness touches the heart, as he discusses openly his own failures, the abuse he suffered, his reasons for leaving his wife, and in the event also his son. Becoming a stronger man, husband, father and friend, which I have the greatest respect for.
Now the book is back under a new name and with the Publisher House, MasterKoda, and a very dear group to my own heart.
It is a story of honesty, compassion, love, romance, loss, failure and victory. Questioning believes, coming to the root of all, as he went on this road of self-discovery. Telling his life-story with in an easy writing style, for all to understand. The words flowed easily, making it effortless to understand and he is very direct in his message. He does not hide certain things to make him look better or gain sympathy, but gives all the gory detail, which lent to the authenticity of the book.