Man this has been a long time coming. It’s been several years since what seemed like my entire world came crashing down around me. Now I’m back on my feet again; stronger and hopefully wiser! This is for all of you that contributed to the initial success I saw with the old MattShamblin.com and for all the people I once knew that I lost contact with for years and have wondered what happened to me. I feel like I’m writing an episode of “Where Are They Now” maybe you’ll learn something from it as opposed to having to learn it the way I did; with pain and sorrow.

Wha Happen?

The Readers Digest version I always give when I’m asked that question is this “My own arrogance got the best of me!”

When I moved to California, I saw the world through a colored stone and everything appeared much different than it truly was. I thought that it was my god given right to accomplish my goals my way and no one elses. Before I made the decision to leave, I prayed to my god and heard him say “Go to the place that I have shown you and I will bless you”. Once I heard that I packed up my things and ventured forth across the country. I couldn’t wait to get there! Yet I know I wouldn’t see the mountains I came from for some time and said goodbye to them in that last sunrise I would see. For the first time I saw how beautiful they were as the clouds rose to meet them with the sun shining in hues of red and gold. I remember it vividly.

I passed the time by watching movies as I drove (hey safety is in the top 10. I’ve never said it was number 1). I got there and started to settle in temporarily with Paul Kim an associate of a man I owe a great debt to Jake Chang (I’ll tell you more about Jake later) & my old friend Jeremy Ruth. I was so happy to be there and excited about all the opportunities I could exploit. I had no real plan, as I would define it today, and I didn’t have a fucking clue of the waking nightmare and utter living hell my life was about to become.

Paul was kind enough to let us stay whit him in Gardenia for a modest rental but our personalities did not good bed fellows make. Eventually Jeremy and I found a 2 bedroom apartment in Fullerton. 3160 Yorba Linda Boulevard Apartment D25 a decent place for me, him and his wife. Rent was $1,800 a month not including utilities since it would be split three ways we found it a good deal. At the time I had a good sized bank roll yet as time always proves; gold flees the man unwise in its handling (more on that in a bit).

Many opportunities came to me while I was there and I dutifully consulted my god (on most of them) and always listened to what I heard. Several times people associated with some of the big clubs on the strip (Sunset Strip in Hollywood for those of you who don’t know) contacted me wanting me to play there and I, like an idiot, respectfully declined. Jake brought me several opportunities and once again I declined. There are times I wish I had the words of Arkad (the wise rich man of Babylon) floating around in my head then. I can hear it now “Opportunity is a haughty goddess who wastes no time on those who are unprepared.”

The bank roll which once was fat had started to dwindle down to the point I was getting edgy. I was an unwise spender and foolish buyer and had no stream to fill it back up again. I eventually got a job at Mervyns but I only stuck with it a couple of months. I hated it so badly I just stopped going. I started applying everywhere that I saw had openings. Every one that I applied for I was told I was over qualified. Over qualified? How the fuck can you be over qualified to lease apartments? I’m desperate here!! I went back to Jake and asked if those opportunities he brought me were still there and much to my chagrin but no surprise they had fled from me.

It seemed like every thing I tried ended in epic failure. The bank roll was gone! I maxed out every credit card I had to pay for rent, utilities and food. I was starving and depressed. As for the debt I owe Jake it is this: when I was starving he gave me his very best when he and his girlfriend Grace (his wife now) scraped together what extra money the could and brought me a large bag full of TV Dinners. You can have no idea how much that means to a man that is starving that can only afford to have a little rice and salsa as his only food. Tears came to my eyes much as they do now just thinking about it. I hugged them both and thanked them from the bottom of my heart. It means more than I can express in mere words. You have to be that low to really understand it. Starving and picking up cigarette butts off the streets and hoping your lighter still worked , like I was. I remember thinking many times “What can I do, without hurting anyone, to go to jail so I can have 3 hots and a cot”.

I was very depressed. Thoughts of suicide were my constant companion. I remember just being in my room for days on end curled up in the fetal position, lying on my bed crying because I saw no way to fix this hell on earth. I didn’t want to leave because the words “Give up” are just not in my vocabulary and for me failure is not an option. Yet I couldn’t stay either because I would either 1 die or 2 do something unthinkable so I could have a roof over my head and a hot meal. I eventually said enough is enough and got my mom to deposit some money in my bank account so I could return but it wasn’t enough. Come to find out the bank had outstanding charges on my account for non sufficient funds (surprise, surprise) and I ran out of money in Tucomcary New Mexico. Luckily for me the bank didn’t close my account until I got back to West Virginia.

When I returned the food in the house I was staying in was so old I would have died from food poisoning had I eaten it. Still being destitute I couldn’t go out any buy food and I’m thinking “This is fan-fucking-tastic! Different scenery, same goddamn story!” I got a hold of an old acquaintance Robert Egich (who has since become one of my closest friends). I can’t remember why I called Rob… maybe it was to see if he knew where I could find a job or it could have been to just let him know I was back in town. Here’s a man that has been where I have been. He learned of my plight and offered me a hand up not a hand out. There was no food in that house but he made me a welcomed guest at his table. This time it wasn’t TV Dinners it was big fat ribeyes with all the trimmings. He also offered me opportunities and this time I took it. He helped me get back on my feet and helped me remember who I was before my waking nightmare.

Now I’m strong again! I remember my failures, and learned from them. I’m back but with more wisdom, compassion and perhaps a little less arrogance 😉 There are more stories to tell of my adventures but I will leave them for another time.

To Jake & Rob: I just want to tell you that if you ever read this; that I love you both. I owe you both a great debt that I will one day repay…. In the days to come I swear that my sons and my sons sons and their sons after them will remember your names that they may know what it is to be a true man that will help those that are weak to become strong and in this way you both will live forever in their hearts and minds…. On this I give you both my word!! You know my stand as it has always been “Death before dishonor!”

October 9th 2010

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