Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Ancient Warlocks

My significant other is a musician. A prolonged battle with ringworm forced him off the mats (he was a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu instructor at the time) and in to quarantine. Stuck in his house, unable to participate in the most central activity of his life, he pulled out an old electric guitar his brother had given him and learned to play. This was close to three years ago. He now practices every day in the living room, and twice a week with his bandmates.

It didn't take him long to start coming up with material of his own. Soon enough, a friend of his from the local rock scene (also a guitarist) noticed that he was getting pretty good. They jammed and after a few sessions, Ancient Warlocks was born.

Initially, the name was a joke. But it stuck. And two years later, they're doing pretty well here in Seattle with one 7" record already produced, and several more in the works.

I get to hear Darren play guitar all the time. When we first got together, I would sit on the couch and watch him play through each and every song, each and every riff. I'd sit there til he put the guitar down and switched off his amp. Over time, I started doing other things while he was playing, but I still listen. It's always a good time to hear him come up with new riffs, work on old ones, experiment, and just practice the established ones. But it's an entirely different experience to hear all the pieces come together.

From time to time, I'll end up at one of their group practices. There, the whole orchestra assembles; Aaron on lead guitar and vocals, Darren on rhythm guitar, Steve on drums, and Ony on bass. I get so used to hearing Darren's guitar all by itself, just one singular part of a much greater whole, that I begin to think of the songs as flat and simply 'interesting' instead of what they really are. As soon as they strike the first chord on that first song, I remember. A complex body of personality, fine tuned sound, the 'right' equipment, and the spirit of each player produces a wall of sound that always makes me move. Because every part of the musical experience is personalized, no two bands are ever the same. There is no right answer when it comes to tuning, brands of gear, how to play, how many players a band has, etc. Each instrument and component thereof is unique to it as well, so there is no limit to just how one-off a band can be.

I was sitting on the couch on the other side of the big glass window at their practice space, bobbing my head and tapping my feet as they played their newest songs for several hours. Steve always stresses the importance of 'groove', and it is something they most definitely have.

If you have a little time, have a listen.

Ancient Warlocks

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Internet

The internet is a strange place. It gives us all the opportunity to be anyone we want - absolute anonymity unless we choose otherwise. I'm sure most of us would like to think we're pretty true to self even when we're posting in forums on the internet, but that's not always the case. I know I'm guilty of trying on different faces in different communities all over the web. But no matter how true we try to be, to a certain degree everyone's internet persona differs just a little bit from their 'real world' self. Some people differ quite a lot, though...those are the people who really need to get off the internet and get a life.

I've recently discovered this food blog written by a Seattle woman named Shauna. Her posts are wonderful -- each one consists of a story and a recipe, always beautifully written and a pleasure to read. By weaving together her story and her food, what would normally be just a tasty plate of homemade food becomes soul food. The kind that has had love and joy poured into it and somehow turns out better than anything you've ever made. I loved her blog right away. She fills each post with photographs of her wonderful family and the food they make together. It's a wonderful experience for anyone who loves joyful cooking.

But in her most recent post, she discussed a side of life that she doesn't mention much in her blog. The darker side. Her posts are normally full of cheer and positivity, and with good reason...there is too much hate and misery in the world these days. There is no reason to perpetuate it, and so she simply chooses not to.
Shauna's post discussed something I hadn't even thought about: people all over the world hate her. They hate her blog, her family, her cooking, her weight, her parenting skills. They've come at her from every angle for no good reason. It's as if they can see how completely happy she is, and they want to bring her down into their misery as well. I guess it's an age-old adage for a reason: misery loves company.

After struggling since childhood with her appearance and being comfortable in her own skin, she has finally, in the time since she has started writing this blog, discovered how to get over the heaps of crap people all over the internet are spewing at her and still come out smiling on the other side.

Read this post. It is beautifully written and contains a very important message. You will undoubtedly know what it is by the end of the post. Take five minutes out of you day and read it. (Not to mention you'll also get a kickass recipe at the end).

Warm Brown Rice and Grilled Vegetable Salad


Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Response to Josh K.

On my last post you asked me a few questions:

Some other questions?

Do you do the things that you are asking of others?
Do you take the time to fInd out how those around you are doing?
Do you set the tone of the conversation, or do they?
Do you care about those around you?

An answer to your question maybe, and that is;

Maybe you're not a people person.
Maybe, just because others feel the need to always have companionship or people around them, all the time, doesn't meen there's something wrong with you.

Go with the flow. Just be.......

Just, my 2 cents,

My purpose in answering these questions is twofold. Mainly, it is my belief that nothing can be truly understood until it is broken into smaller pieces and digested one bit at a time. By answering your questions, I am hoping to break the greater issue into smaller chunks in order to isolate the root(s) of the problem. Secondarily, since you asked the questions at all, I assume you might take some interest in their answers.

Q: Do you do the things that you are asking of others?

A: What am I asking of others? I do not necessarily think that I am asking much. I am not asking anyone to take an interest who is not genuinely interested. That is not something that I have any control over. Essentially, I figure it must be something that I am or am not doing that makes me less appealing than other people. If I were more interesting or whatever it might be, then they would take more of an interest in me.
For the majority of my life, I have not had to look for friends. They just came to me. I did nothing, and people walked up and made friends with me. Thinking back, there are certainly explanations for it. It has nothing to do with how interesting or uninteresting I was, but the fact that every last one of us at the time was part of a captive audience. In the school system, people who otherwise would not interact with one another are forced to congregate in a space where it is impossible not to meet someone. And because I was and still am a very agreeable person, people seemed to have no problem spending time in captivity with me. In being stuck together, some people got to know me and liked who I was.
Outside of that world people have complete control over who they interact with. Now, I do not even know where to begin. I have no idea how to go about building a relationship because every friend I ever had spoke to me first.
I have thought about what it takes to make a relationship quite a lot in the last couple of years and what it seems to come down to is reciprocation. No one likes to be the one who is always planning things to do, or the one who always calls everyone else. There needs to be effort from both sides. Unfortunately, insecurity sometimes comes across as lack of interest and when I never called anyone to get together, it was not because I did not want to, it was because I did not think that anyone actually cared enough to want me around.
Finally, I have managed to get a little better at that, and people seem to enjoy that neither one of us is doing all the work.
Suffice to say, I feel like I am doing a pretty good job of trying to reciprocate. I care deeply about the people around me and I really do want to get to know them better...but my insecurities make me wonder if anyone really wants me around as much as I want them around.

Q: Do you take the time to find out how those around you are doing?

A: I work in customer service. My last three jobs have been jobs in which I stand on the opposite side of a counter and help every last person who walks through the doors. In some ways working these jobs has helped me to understand how hopelessly flawed we all are. Because no one is perfect, no one is too scary to talk to. But at the same time, I see so many people in a day that it is hard to feel genuine as the one-hundredth "Hello, how are you today?" is coming out of my mouth. Of the people who I see outside my job, I really do try and find out how they are, but as they rightfully should be towards someone whom they do not intimately know, they do not feel the need to spill their guts to me. Again, the age difference paves the way for an immediately parental relationship in which I am no longer on equal intellectual ground.
I honestly want to know people. When I ask how someone's day is going, I genuinely want to hear that story and listen to everything they have to say. It has often been my biggest disappointment that no one is as fascinated by my stories as I am by theirs.

Q: Do you set the tone of the conversation, or do they?

A: When I am at work, it is usually me who starts and maintains the conversation. Outside of work, it is usually other people. I do not have a lot to tell. Other people have a lot to say. I do not mind listening and contributing, but they can talk about whatever they want with me.

Q: Do you care about those around you?

A: Yes. If there is one thing I believe I do too much, it is care for other people. Which is also why it is painfully difficult for me to feel so disconnected from everyone here. If I did not care about the people around me, I would not necessarily need to know them at all because it would make no difference to me. But because I care, I am lonely.

Friday, August 19, 2011

One is the Lonliest Number

I do not immediately want to address the fact that this is to be my first post since March.

Every so often when I am alone I remember that once upon a time, I used to write nearly every day. I look at my blog and see that with each successive year, I wrote less...and less...and less. This cannot possibly be the source of my problems, but it was undoubtedly detrimental. Writing was something of a sacred ritual for me and I considered it my only reliable catharsis. Now I only write on occasion, an ocean of excuses ready to drown the slightest urge to put pen to paper.
Lately, I have been looking a little closer at the people around me, trying to figure out what it is they are doing that I am not. Most people have a passion...something they are particularly good at and devoted to. These are the people who seem to have a circle of friends and acquaintances constantly buzzing around them, whether in person, through the telephone, or over the internet. There are always people seeking them out.
It seems that in order for people to be wanted, they must possess some quality or skill that draws others to them.

Whatever it is that allows people to make meaningful connections with one another, I do not think I have it.

Next month, I will have been in Seattle for 2 years. 2 years, and not a single person I would call "friend". My significant other is the only person who I really know here, and he has introduced me to most of the people I now know. But, his friends are exactly that...his friends. They say hello, and some joke with me, but the interactions are always surface level. Some of these people I have now known for nearly 2 years, and still...nothing more than a shallow conversation. Of course, there is a massive age difference between me and many of the people I am most frequently around, so it undoubtedly presents some mental obstacles.

After awhile, when no one calls you on the phone to ask you how you are, when no sends you emails asking you what you are up to, when no one except your co-workers, your parents, and your significant other tries to contact you, it gets a little old.
And naturally, I have to start wondering what it is about me that makes me so inaccessible. Do I just not care about any one thing enough to get in with the people who care so deeply about any one subject? Am I not genuine enough? Am I impersonal? Do I converse incorrectly? I just can't understand it, and though I know life continues on and things aren't really so terrible...it would be nice to have a few friends. People who check up on me from time to time and ask me how I am, or invite me to go do something...

What is it?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Is it sad that I am so drained by my visit that I don't even have the energy to read? I am sitting...just sitting on the airplane looking out the window, unable to bring myself up from this incredibly deflated state. I know it will pass in time, but it shocks me how completely wasted I am after only three full days. It wasn't all bad...but there is such an air of overwhelming stress in that household alone and it wears on a person.

Shame on me for dwelling on the stressful parts of the week, though. Along with the unfortunate state of my family's affairs, you will also soon be seeing some of the good memories I took away from Nebraska this time aroud. Let's just say it has something to do with cigars and high powered rifles.
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Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Tomorrow we're headed home, my brother and I. We will part ways, he to North Carolina and I back to Seattle. We came together from the farthest opposing sides of this country to meet right in the middle;not only in the heart of the country, but also in the heart of our family, its history, and its utterly saddening complexity.
This was meant to be a vacation, a break from the stress and a chance to review my life. I knew when I bought the tickets out here it was going to be anything but, but I suppose I'd hoped I could deal with it better. No such luck.
As I prepare for tomorrow, the only thing I feel is sadness. That feeling arises for so many reasons. Tonight I felt the need simply to write something, anything to ease my newly troubled mind.
I know no one else needs to hear about it, but a break down of this trip is sure to come soon...
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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Quick 'un

Just a short one tonight. I figure its better to get something done than nothing at all.

I wonder if there will ever be another time in my life when I am not constantly going somewhere. Things that never used to bother me are suddenly less pleasant than they once were, and it seems mostly due to the fact that I am on my way to do something.
For example, as I was walking home from the bus stop this evening, it was raining. As I walked, the rain fell harder...and harder...and harder. And every time it picked up the tempo, I found myself getting a little more frustrated.
I find that I am constantly engaged in the battle to not be stressed out. Not because its difficult for me to relax, but because I hardly see a need to be stressed out and so I do my best to avoid it. Unfortunately, I get caught up in the myriad of things I have to do, and sometimes find myself being a little more serious than I'd like. And usually I can tell when I need to simmer down when I start getting pissed off by stuff like rain.
I like the rain. Its part of the reason I moved to Seattle. And I like the clouds that it falls out of, those big dark monsters that always look so full of life. So, when I was on my home from work, and the rain landing on my already disheveled hair started to make my brow furrow, I paused my thought process for just a moment and asked myself why on earth the rain would upset me. I was planning on taking a shower anyway. And its not like I had anywhere special to go. So instead, I enjoyed the rest of my walk getting slightly wet and being shoved by the occasional playful gust of February wind.
Things are nice when you take a step back and remember that life is not all seriousness all the time. In fact, it should rarely be serious. Everything is enjoyable if you let it be.