About TMZ

The name's Thomas Mark Zuniga, though I usually just go by TMZ or Tom or Traveling Golden Trout. I'm a twenty-something tutor, writer, and restless wanderer. I blog about traveling and trials, faith and frivolity, strength and struggle. Currently residing in Orange County, California, but journeying onward before too long. It's lonely out there; won't you wander with me?

We Are a Fairy Tale and We Have a Happy Ending

Once Upon a Time fairy tale characters

Once Upon a Time is one of my favorite shows. It’s a show about fairy tale characters come to life, but it is also a show about more than this. Every episode is just so rich, so deep. Themes of good versus evil, and hope versus despair. The classic fairy tale characters we all know have intricate complicating layers, and I resonate with them on many eerie levels. I am Snow White, the good person with a good heart who cannot catch a break sometimes. I am Grumpy, formerly “Dreamy,” a dwarf with a sunny disposition turned sour by the cold realities of this fallen world. I am Emma Swan, the hero who doesn’t believe in herself. I connect with the “good guys,” sure. But when I … Continue reading…

Inhaling Grace: Reacting to Fred Phelps’ Death

Fred Phelps sign

According to a recent USA Today article, Westboro Baptist Church’s Fred Phelps is “on the edge of death.” In another article, Fred Phelps’ estranged son further reports that his father had been recently excommunicated from the very church/cult he founded. A man rejected by his own hate group, now facing death’s doorway mere months later? The whole thing is just bizarre. While many will undoubtedly cheer the death of a man who singlehandedly made GOD HATES FAGS an infamous “thing,” I find myself standing at a crossroads. The complicating-but-not-really crossroads of justice and grace. In a strange sort of way, Fred Phelps’ impending passing reminds me of Osama bin Laden’s death. While the immediate reaction included shouts of acclimation for the death of a man who spurred … Continue reading…

On Homosexuality: Let Us Only Handle Love

About TMZ footer

Today, I’m honored to be guest posting over at my friend Adam’s blog. I’m writing about homosexuality and how we can respond with love, not anger. Check out this post’s excerpt, and be sure to click over for the continuation! When my blogging friend, Adam (or as I’ve long regarded him, “That Monkey Guy”), asked me to contribute a post on homosexuality to his blog, I knew I wanted to write something. I just didn’t know where to start. Homosexuality is, after all, a Pandora’s Box of an issue lined with nettles and littered with landmines. I really latched onto something Adam wrote recently. He talked about how his convictions and sympathies often seem to oppose each other. Oddly enough, I often find myself in … Continue reading…

Get My Book Free on NoiseTrade!

"Struggle Central" by Thomas Mark Zuniga

Many of y’all might already be aware, but for those who aren’t, I just wanted to pop in for a quick post today. My book, Struggle Central, is now available for free download on the new NoiseTrade Books! Several people have downloaded my book in the last week, and I’ve even heard back from a couple who have finished reading already. I’m excited to get my book even further distributed! So, if you missed out on my free book giveaway last year, and you’ve yet to read it, check out Struggle Central on NoiseTrade today. I hope you enjoy my story.

I Have a Son

Having a Son

I don’t usually remember my dreams. I awake often remembering general emotions, but details are either fuzzy or completely forgotten. When I do remember my dreams, I tend to analyze them. Perhaps too much. As an unabashed “story guy,” I love reading significant things into the seemingly insignificant. I went to bed the night of December 31, 2013 pushing 3am. After attending a week-long conference inundated with hope and healing and culminating in a New Year’s Eve worship celebration, my first night’s sleep into 2014 would produce one of the most vivid dreams of my life. Months later, I still can’t get over it. / / / I stand in a white hospital room wearing blue scrubs. My hair is longer than I usually keep … Continue reading…

Wandering Wednesday #16 – Newport Beach, CA

Thomas Mark Zuniga: Wandering Wednesday in Newport Beach, CA

Gosh, I’ve missed wandering with y’all. But guess what?? IT’S WANDERING WEDNESDAY TODAY. ALL. DAY. I’m going to try and make my video wanderings a more regular routine again. Hold me accountable, guys! I’ve honestly missed the intentionality of wandering to new places, and I’ve missed communicating with y’all beyond merely digitized words. Today’s wandering is pretty awesome. One of my favorites. I ventured to the coast of Newport Beach and literally walked out as far as I could! You’ll just have to watch to see. Oh, and a super special surprise guest makes an appearance midway through my wandering. You WON’T want to miss that. So without further ado, take it away Me! What I’m wondering on Wandering Wednesday: What’s the furthest north/south/east/west you’ve ever … Continue reading…

Why I Used the F-Word in My First Book

The F Word

I’ve been wanting to write this pestersome post for almost a year now. But I’ve also really wanted to avoid it. I’ve wanted to pretend like “the issue” didn’t exist or matter and, like, whatever. Avoid, avoid, avoid. Avoidance works for a while. Sometimes, avoidance works for a long while. After a long while, though, avoidance hurts more than action. It distracts, it obsesses, and it cripples. And so, I think it’s finally time to write this pestersome post. I want to explain why I used the f-word in my first book. (For the faint of sight or heart, be warned that the f-word makes an appearance in this post.) Truthfully, I was as shocked as some of you were. When I first started writing … Continue reading…

The Weekend WOW: 100 Year Old BFFs Edition

Weekend WOW trout

Throughout any given week, I strive to share mind-blowing, hilarious, phenomenal, new, touching things on my Twitter and Facebook. At the end of the week, I condense the very best of Internetdom into a WOW-tastic blog post I call The Weekend WOW. And what a wonderful WOW-tastic week on the World Wide Web it was. + WOW what a mind-blowing revelation: “Toy Story: The True Identity of Andy’s Mom Makes the Movie More Epic” by Jon Negroni at moviepilot.com. The title speaks for itself. I’m still reeling from the revelation. I believe this theory 100%. The evidence is all there; it has to be true. It makes me love Toy Story and Pixar even more. + WOW what a hilarious tweet: Messy Jordan sums up veganism … Continue reading…

BLESS THIS MESS

Bless This Mess

Sometimes I fire up my blog and deposit 1,000 words about my messy life or the messy world or my messy life in this messy world. Other times, though, a picture speaks more fitting words than I could ever express. Today is one of those latter times. I encountered this graffiti in Chattanooga, Tennessee a few months ago. It speaks to me. I hope it speaks to you, too. I’m praying it a lot these days. Dear God: bless this mess. Every last messy mucky miry thing in this world. In me.

Donald Miller Hates Going to Church and I Do Too

Going to Church

I have few influences greater than Donald Miller, both inside my “real life” and out. His works have certainly impacted me as a writer; you could’ve played a drinking game with all my Donald Miller references in Struggle Central (drinking milk, of course). Beyond the mere sphere of writing, though, Donald Miller has impacted my very life. I owe much of my California journey to Through Painted Deserts, and meeting him at Storyline last fall was such a thrill. Donald Miller is not new to controversy, and lately his blogs have taken some heat. The snowball started when he said he doesn’t connect with God through singing, further confessing that he doesn’t even attend church regularly. Connects with God and others elsewhere. Needless to say, evangelical America pounced on … Continue reading…