07 May 2013

The Return Of Saturn

I'm not one to hold much stake in astrology, nor do I think of life as a cosmic circumstance on a daily basis. There is, however, a "phenomenon" known as the return of Saturn that, coincidentally, has altered my life without my even knowing it.

The theory behind this idea is that, upon reaching the age of twenty-seven, Saturn is aligned in the sky in the exact same position as it was when you were born, for the first time SINCE you were born. This, in essence, is your total being coming full-circle, allowing change and growth. A do-over from the universe. A few months before I was even conscious of this theory, and only a month or so before my twenty-seventh birthday, I began noticing several changes within myself.

I began shedding old skin, molting away past memories and ideals. I became more hard-lined toward old interests, casting aside superfluous baggage and all the while aligning myself with new ideas, concepts and lifestyle choices.

Music has always been an incredibly big part in my life. It was when I began relinquishing certain bands and musicians into the folds of time past that I was able to make room for bands that were older than I was, yet still new to me. Upon this realization, this liberation of myself from weighted songs and albums, I began feeling more like myself than I ever have before. It was almost a high that I seemed to chase. I sold most of the records that reminded me of a past I'd like to forget. They no longer held the magic of friendship and camaraderie. They just reminded me of desperately scraping by, an anxious madness fueled by expectations that were never met.

With this new found freedom from the drudgery of the past, I began assimilating myself into a new music subcultures. I began hearing things differently. It was as if I had a new set of ears, observing ancient sounds for the first time. The walls of sound created by guitars full of feedback and distortion became the aural equivalent of safety for me. These were bands and songs that should have been part of my canon all along, but for some reason were simply stones left unturned until recently. These new discoveries have been incredibly rewarding.

My musical preferences haven't been the only thing to undergo a drastic change over the last few months. The need for a healthier lifestyle has also fueled my day-to-day in the most positive of ways. Without even being conscious of it, my body began craving different things on a daily basis. Where once I'd eat a couple of bagels for lunch, I began making spinach wraps and eating fresh fruit. Just as filling and just as inexpensive, I began feeling healthier, leaner. After testing this theory for a week or so, I already noticed a change in my body. I began slimming down without even trying.

Looking into the past, the portions of food that I would prepare for Robin and myself were sickening. We didn't eat said portions out of necessity, it was simply something we had no grasp on. Consciously changing how much we were eating and how often has made a huge difference. We eat better than we ever did in the past and are just as satisfied with meals. I crave fresh produce on a daily basis and hardly ever touch cheese-loaded pasta. Rather than eating junk food candy, I am far more satisfied with fresh fruit or juices. I limit my intake of carbohydrates, dairy and meat and feel a lot better for the wear.

I've also stopped drinking as much beer as I have in the past. Rather, I opt for whiskey or vodka as a nightcap. A few beers a night doesn't seem like much, but when it's every night for months on end, you began noticing a lethargy that wasn't there before. Your gut grows, yet you feel bloated and empty. It's a contradiction in and of itself. If I choose to drink several beers in a particular night, I'll have a lighter dinner. Rather than having the distended, rotten feeling in my stomach that was so often a part of Midwestern life in the past, I feel more clear-headed, less off-balance.

With these alterations of diet and music, another change of ideals has grown ever present in my life. Upon realizing my tax exemptions on my forms at work were not what they were supposed to be and, getting screwed out of a tax return, I've taken a pay cut that I'm still adjusting to. Money has become tighter and going out into the city is a luxury anymore.

Rather than spending a night on the town with friends, Robin and I opt for cheap, healthy meals at home with store-bought booze. We've become a lot more social while becoming increasingly hermetic. It is a balance that we have struck that is far more rewarding than habits of the past. Instead of large meals at our favorite restaurants, we save our money for seeing bands. Our nights on the town more often than not are focused around live music with friends, seeing the music that influences all of our lives in the most positive of ways. In the depths of self-deprecation, when I've felt that I haven't been passionate about things in a long while, I am reminded from random conversations with coworkers that I am indeed incredibly passionate about live music. Living in Portland, I've become spoiled. Going to shows is no longer a luxury, but a way of life. I am thankful for that. I love that my hard-earned money can be spent supporting the bands that genuinely care about.

Our weekends fill up before they even arrive, and I steel myself for a sleep-deprived two or three days. Come Sunday night, I'm bedraggled. Worn out from working twenty-four hours and only sleeping for six, Sunday nights are an earned reward. This is the one night of the week where Robin are guaranteed to delve into our incredibly nerdy lifestyle, which is yet another change I've noticed within myself. Sci-fi and fantasy television shows, fueled by iced tea, coffee and cigarettes have become a new dynamic for us. Couple those things with more than a healthy amount of video games, we are experts at shutting ourselves off from the world. We burn brightly in the afternoons of dusty sunlight and air-conditioning. Misanthropy fueling our marathon gaming sessions is a dynamic we not only thrive in, but shamelessly love.

It is with this new head on my shoulders that I can charge bravely into the future. While ambition to create has been at an all-time low, I am ready to get back into expressing myself through different mediums. I've been entertaining the ideas of writing projects, photography lessons from Robin as well as other outputs, such as helping with a couple friends' budding record label. Almost six months off the blogging grid has not only been incredibly frustrating but, oddly enough, rewarding. I've been able to realign ideals and focus on life rather than attempting to document every minute detail to the point of over saturation. I've leaned up my body and I'd like to believe I've done the same to my brain in the past months.

I raise my empty mug of coffee to you, readers. Thanks for reading. Without an audience, I would have given up blogging permanently I'm sure. Here's to the future.

30 January 2013

Earn Your Sleep: The Beginning And The End

I've been mulling over writing projects in my head lately. There have been transient moments of inspiration, immediately followed by long stretches of inactivity. I yearn to put words to paper, but I've been far too critical of myself to do so. Perhaps I'm holding too high a standard for my output. Regardless, a conversation with Robin the other night fueled new motives for the both of us.

It is our belief that we both have the ability to being writing fiction. Thus far, our main focus has been on first-person stories directly taken from our personal lives. With little to no embellishment, our respective zines have told similar stories about growing up, leaving town and creating new adventures for ourself. There is beauty to be found in the simple realities we lived through. We can use our seasoned knowledge of the human condition as the framework for fictional characters. Hell, most of our favorite authors have done just that. Translating real-world experiences into fictional-world conflicts and solutions.

Writing fiction, theoretically, can be a lot less stigmatized than writing a perzine. The avenues of short stories, novellas and even full-length novels become thoroughfares in which our ideas, opinions and creativity can travel. I am not trying to get too far ahead of myself, but the mere thought of these new opportunities is exciting. This brings me to my next topic of discussion.

My zine, EARN YOUR SLEEP, is on its way out. What began as a desperate, financially irresponsible endeavor has transformed into a symbol of laziness and self-doubt. The title of the zine is a term I coined myself, based upon the lifestyle I was living at the time of its inception. Although the title is still a relevant ideology I hold to be true, the dynamics of the entire zine have changed. I am not working two jobs, living in the Midwest or battling the harshness of Winter (although I do yearn for the latter two). These circumstances fueled my writing and the same writing rationalized the incredibly grueling pace of life into something I was happy with.

My very first run of issue one was about 75-100 copies. Upon exiting Office Depot, with a box literally spilling over with copies of my zine, I was more content than I could ever remember being. I had finally crossed into new territory and I had no intention of stopping. Several more copies were printed and circulated. I even sold some copies to Powell's Books here in Portland and those were bought my the supportive townsfolk.

Issue two, has been finished for almost two years now. I've only printed up a handful. Why I've been so inactive about getting it out there is beyond me. Compared to my first issue, I am extremely proud of it. I challenged myself while writing it, forcing myself to sit and write for several hours at a time. Subsisting on nothing but coffee and cigarettes while doing so, they became the gasoline and the pen was my match. I felt like I was on fire. The story of Robin and I falling in love needed to be told. For whatever reason, upon completion of the issue, it began collecting dust. The only separating these issues from the rest of the world was my own sloth. So, new game plan.

Today I will be printing up several more copies of issue number two. I will get them circulated like I've always dreamed of doing and move forward with the finale of EARN YOUR SLEEP: the epic road-trip story of Robin and I driving out to Portland to begin a new life together. Not many people have had (or ever get) the opportunity to travel the way we did, and I feel strongly that it is yet another story that needs to be told. It will also serve as conclusion to the saga created with issue one. I am going to start issue three from scratch for a couple of reasons. Although a lot of it has already been put on paper, I feel that not only my outlook on life has changed, but my style of writing as well. Where issue one (and even parts of issue two) are quite verbose, I feel that my technique for not only revising and editing my own words has improved, but so has the content of my output. I've leaned up my style and look forward to telling the story clearly and succinctly.

So, readers, keep following this blog for updates on EARN YOUR SLEEP, details about a new zine that is not yet in the works and other future projects from the Dean Omite camp.

24 January 2013

Rock And Roll Weekend #1

Robin and I have created a pseudo-tradition over the last several months. Lazy Sundays. Now, this may be quite common for office drones and others that actually work Monday through Friday, but it's a different set of circumstances for the two of us.

My weekend is in the middle of the week. Robin goes to school four days a week. So, by the end of my days off, most everybody else I hang around with is just beginning their weekend. This sets the stage for debauchery, sleep-deprivation and time spent with loved ones. I'm out late on Fridays and Saturday nights, punching the clock at 6am the respective morning afters.

By the time I'm off work on Sunday, I'm running on fumes. Mathematically speaking, I the hours I work are about two or three times more than the amount of sleep I get. Having to work early doesn't ever prevent me from seeing the people I care about, but I am always looking forward to the Sundays spent holed up with Robin, mending my wounds from the alcohol and workdays.

This past summer, we attended our first SMMR BMMR festival at Plan B here in Portland. It was a two-day party full of bands, friends, food and alcohol. There was a huge line-up, some locals and some out-of-towners. Both nights we were guaranteed to see at least a couple of bands that we really enjoyed but had never had the opportunity to see live.

That Friday, while I was at work, Robin met up with some other friends and began day-drinking. After a quick change of clothes, I barreled down the highway, excited to see everyone. When I showed up, I was greeted by glazed eyes, slurred words and wobbly legs. Mike and Robin were completely shitfaced. I found it pretty humorous and made an effort to at least catch up halfway. We wiled away hours with cigarettes and beer, shit-talking and music by generic bands.

The first band of the night we were really looking forward to was Portland's own Guantanamo Baywatch. On vinyl, they're a bit too muddled and lo-fi for my liking, but I was told that they were incredible in a live setting. Upon the first few surf-chords, the crowd became enraptured in the dark and somber, yet somehow sunny and bright, music of the band. The whole lot of us danced our asses off to the rhythm of the jangly surf/doo-wop blaring out of the soundsystem. Beer was spilled, empty cans flew like missiles and sweat hung in the air. After the performance, I felt invigorate. The night stretched out further into the future.

After Gitmo's performance, Big Eyes was due next. I had been excited to see them play ever since my first listen of 'Hard Life'. I love their punk-meets-big-riff sound and I am always stoked on bands that are fronted by females who can give several guys a run for their money. It takes guts to front a band, and punk is stigmatized as being a boys' club. Big Eyes goes to show how incorrect that assumption is.

A few songs in, it was blatantly obvious they had stolen the show from every other band that played that night. People were dancing and fist-pumping, raising their drinks as a sign of solidarity. Songs like "Back From The Moon" were fleshed out with the aid of stringed-lights surrounding the outdoor stage. Night had fallen and the instruments had taken on an ominous yet triumphant sound. They were playing this show like it was their last. The crowd knew it wasn't, though, which fueled smiles from deep within the souls of the fans.

By the end of the evening, our excesses had caught up with us. The beer that had an energizing effect on me earlier quickly began having the opposite effect. I was destined for about four hours of sleep that night. We said our goodbyes and left, happy in the fact we would be up to the same antics the following night.

Fast forward to Saturday night. After a bleary-eyed day at work, I was back in action with Robin and my other friends. I had already steeled myself for another night winding far into the evening. Although the sets from the night before were still fresh in my brain, I was far more excited for the night's headlining performance: Kepi Ghoulie with Mean Jeans PLAYING AS THE GROOVIE GHOULIES.

Groovie Ghoulies has been a favorite band of mine for quite a while. But, alas, they had broken up before I even got into them. I never dreamed of the day when I would get to see a full Ghoulies set, yet here we were. In contrast to Friday night, the band played inside. Kepi was bursting at the seams with energy and any trained eye could tell how honored the Jeans were to be playing with a pop-punk legend.

Everyone packed into the bar was there for the same reason. We all recognized the gravity of the performance. Fans older than myself transformed into the wide-eyed teenagers they had been upon first hearing the Ghoulies. The show had the innocence of an all-ages show. There was no bad blood to be found anywhere in the crowd that night. Dancers in the moshpit slipped and slided on spilled beer. I was singing so loudly and smiling so hard my face hurt. They played all my favorite songs with just the right amount of humorous banter.

Four hours of sleep later, I was back at work and punching the clock. Happy as I was from the past couple of nights, I yearned for a lazy afternoon segueing into a quiet night free of obligations. Sunday night, however, was the pinnacle of our first rock and roll weekend. Dear Landlord was playing one of our favorite venues and it would be the first time for every single one of us. There was another perk, too. I had Monday off (as per my request) so as to have the freedom to stay out even later, drink even more and not be a wreck in the morning. Our lazy Sunday would have to wait for just one more day.

Dear Landlord played to a small yet dedicated crowd. We all knew all the words, we screamed at the top of our lungs. The amount of alcohol coursing through my body lifted my heart towards the sky. I was with my favorite friends, shoulder to shoulder with Robin and all the time in the world. I wanted the band to play for ever. I wished my friends back in the Midwest had been there with me.

I can vaguely remember talking to the Landlord dudes after the show, drunkenly slurring my speech and trying to tell them how thankful I was. After practically demanding a hug from one of the band members, the night came to a quiet close. I was safely driven home by a sober friend and the echoes of "Landlocked" and "High Fives" were like a drunken lullaby for my haggard body and brain.

14 January 2013

This Diagnosis Is Self-Designed

A couple of months off of the blogging grid has reached breaking point. While falling victim to the throes of modern technology, battling with the demons of medical problems and trying to keep other wolves at bay, I wound up retreating so far into myself that important events and goings on weren't even a blip on my radar. Friends of mine are buying houses, getting engaged and/or married and I can't even get off the couch.

My over-analytical nature has been a constant internal engine for as long as I can remember. I am conscious of my hyperbole. I am conscious of letting days and weeks and months go by without any sort of productivity. Combine that overheated engine with a nasty dose of self-diagnosis and you've got yourself a mechanical problem that only be fixed by the vehicle itself.

Within reading the first few pages of Todd Taylor's 'Shirley Wins' novel tonight, I felt the fire of inspiration scorching the ceiling of my self-induced depression. It began burning an exit, a release from a room I've spent far too long in. The gravity of the words, the weight of the context, the inherent struggle of human characters brought me back to a place I left behind on accident. It snapped me back into the place I need to be: reading, writing and burning away the hatred of humanity with my vices. Rather than being so self-absorbed, I need to get my head back in the clouds, chronicling not only the conversations that not only Robin and I have had, but the scrappy, hardscrabble and ultimately human lives I interact with on a daily basis.

So, let's take things one thing at a time.

It began innocently enough. Against Me! was playing Portland for the second time since we moved here. It was the first appearance of the strong-willed and the increasingly beautiful Laura Jane Grace. Only five months before we were able to witness the second to last performance ever of Tom Gabel. Safe to say, this show was a huge deal to the lot of us.

Before the show, Robin and I met up with my close friend Mike. We spent the afternoon drinking beers and hand-stamping CD-R sleeves for his band Faster Housecat. Being the merch guy for the band, I was happy to oblige with some hands-on, merch production. I knocked back beers with ink-stained hands while the thought of seeing Against Me! in full force that night kept my heart racing. We accomplished a lot in the couple hours we sat around bullshitting and watching crappy television.

Robin and I made our way to the venue. Due to the fact that AM!'s show was part of MFNW, advance tickets weren't available. We knew we were going to be waiting in line for quite a while and we steeled ourselves at the prospect. We wiled away two hours on the sidewalks outside the venue, smoking cigarettes, talking shit and basking in the golden afternoon of the city. Other friends met us in line and they joined in our nicotine revelries.

We got into the show without a problem and beelined for the bar. Beers were in order and we had already wasted our earlier buzz by waiting in line. I knocked back beers by the fistful, calibrating my racing heart and mind with copious amounts of alcohol.

The band came out roaring. Beginning to end, it was a no-frills, no-bullshit set. There was no bantering. There were no self-indulgent interludes. It was a fucking show. We were in the crowd the entire time, sweating and dancing and flailing like maniacs. When all was said and done, it felt like no time had passed at all. I have never been drenched in more sweat than that night.

Upon leaving the venue, the fresh air had quite the sobering effect, leveling everything out. My sweaty clothes clung to me like in a disgusting manner, while my lungs reached for the sky. They tasted freedom and I breathed in deep. Amidst the scrabble of our group of friends parting ways, clarity came in waves and crests. My ears were ringing in a way totally unprecedented.

I thought nothing of it for the next couple of days, self-diagnosing myself with some sort of ear damage. When, after a few weeks, the ringing didn't go subside, I began noticing that my hearing felt more sensitive. Normal volumes had become harsher, everyday noises became grating. The ringing was constant and I steeled myself for the worst.

I became so wrapped up in the noise I became obsessed. I let certain defeatist traits overcome me. I thought I was going deaf. The thought of an actual medical diagnosis that would deem I was, in fact, losing my hearing scared the living shit out of me. So, in its stead, I toughed it out, one day at a time. I figured if I didn't go to the doctor, I wouldn't get the bad news.

My expensive surgery earlier last year had a silver lining. The expenses accrued put my account at "Maximum Out-Of-Pocket-Reached" (or whatever the insurance lingo is). That granted me a free ride for ANY medical expense from there on out. I used it to my advantage for other visits, but it ultimately led me to the end of the road. It became halfway through December and I was still dealing with the ringing the metallic reverb. I had to see a doctor while it was free because, come January 1st, any visit and/or surgery and/or any other self-diagnosed problem would put me further into debt. This was it. I made a phone call and had an appointment four days before the end of the year.

Going into the appointment, I was a nervous wreck. I was sleep-deprived from the last week and had been at work since five that morning. Getting gridlocked in traffic didn't help my mental storm. I was on the cusp of either the best or worst diagnosis thusfar. I rationalized it as far as I could. I was doom and gloom as I walked through the door.

After the regular check-in bullshit, and after dealing with the having-to-get-a-key-to-take-a-piss bullshit, I sat there in the waiting room. Waiting. Ragged and tired with boots covered in blood and guts. I faced the abyss.

After the obligatory weigh-in, I was back in another room. Waiting. The same pre-op room, the same post-op room. Everything came full-circle. I was in limbo between the old and new. This would either be the best or worst news. I was out of options to rationalize it in a clever way.

The hearing test with a specialist was an anxiety-ridden gauntlet of despair. I had no way of knowing whether or not I was completely fucking up or excelling at the test. Every lapse in time and space was spent in agony. Was I hearing too much, or was I hearing too little?

Afterwards, I spent more time waiting for my actual doctor. The same doctor that performed the surgeries on my face and had been a shining light in a world of desolation. He came in the door, barely remembered me and we talked.

Immediately, he took a look in my ears. "Well, they're completely jammed with wax", he tells me, "Let's get that out of there". A couple pin-prick sensations in the ears later and I felt a thousand times better. Chronic build-up in my ears was the first medical problem I willingly went to the doctor for. It was the first instance that I realized I wasn't inhuman, that I wasn't invincible. It fueled quite a bit of writing back then. Said realization fuels my writing now.

After a brief discussion, I was told that my hearing was totally fine. Build-up of earwax had been the main culprit in the problems I was having. The ringing in my ears would eventually heal itself. It was a diagnosis I had not expected. Immediately, the ringing in my ears became nothing more than an minor annoyance, a hiccup in the great scheme of things. My ears FELT better, and everything sounded crisper, cleaner. I left the doctor's office, blasting the Strait A's with new ears open.

20 November 2012

11.20.12

When it comes to certain preferences, I can be picky. Very picky. This leads to quite the double-standard amongst my friends. I seemingly hate everything while pioneering what I believe in. The problem is is that I pioneer things too late (like the Ramones) or for too long (does anybody still actually pay attention to Calvin and Hobbes?). There's also another aspect of said passion that lives in between the lines of who I am and what I support. It is a very fine, neurotic line. Perhaps this particular entry can shed some light on this part of my psyche.

I have the tendency to allow stupid stigmas to dictate my ideals at certain times. It is recognizing that these stigmas exist that I feel like a shithead. It is in recognizing that I feel like a shithead that these stigmas either gain momentum or cease to exist. At the end of the day, it's all up to me and my stupid brain as how to interpret them.

It was after I privately discovered MXPX, bought my first Blink-182 CD and found a new home in the "independent punk" scene that I felt like I had finally found a home that I had been searching for my whole life. This was my own thing, a refuge amidst the prepubescent storm. It was my savior. I carry those initial feelings with me to this day. It might be a naive, self-perpetuating myth of a lifestyle, but it's mine and it always has been. The bravado of adolescence, the wish-washness of allegiances has always been what I thrived on.

I bought Jimmy Eat World's 'Bleed American' the literal day it came out. It was 2001, I was fifteen years old. The album was one of the first to honestly change my life. It was the backbeat for nights spent holed up in my room writing shitty high-school poetry. It was winter and summer, pure happiness and complete misery. The album itself is incredibly dynamic. It reminds me of my hometown city streets, the hopelessness and melodrama of growing up in the Midwest. It was my winter coat, my summer freedom. I fell asleep to that album for weeks on end.

I kept the band by my side for years. For some reason, the idea of them got muddled in the mess of life and I eventually abandoned the solace of their songs. They had become far bigger as a band than what I was used to. It felt like it was't my own anymore. I blatantly ignored the message, the feeling. I felt like I had grown out of it. I was wrong.

I remember back when Robin and I had became a pair, we were fierce. We were also completely smitten for each other. The summer had passed in its own way and Winter had reared its ugly head again. That had turned the hard-lined lifestyles we both led into "Crush". And, as with the seasons, I came back around to Jimmy Eat World's music. It was what I had always understood as Midwestern. It, again, became part of our Winter Canon.

The two of us fell in love, ran ourselves ragged and got the fuck out of town. I eventually wound up tossing the Jimmy Eat World CD's for no reason at all other than a moment of weakness, of misinterpretation. Then, when Winter rolled around again. Their songs became relevant again, a nostalgic feeling of understanding and the drudgery of another long season.

Then, New Year's Eve 2011 happened. What was originally planned as a low-key night with a few drinks wound up being motherfucking marathon of imbibing alcohol and sleep-deprivation. What had kick-started our night? The jukebox blaring Jimmy Eat World's songs chased with an ear-to-ear smile on my face. I brought back all the feelings that I had always had about the band, no matter how anachronistic they were.

That fire had been kept alive for a few months and became quickly forgotten. Then, random hangover mornings at work when their songs would play, I found myself with the same shit-eating grin for them that I had always had. I always walked away from the work-day tired, weary and legitimately excited to come home and let their music shake my walls.

A couple nights ago, Robin and I went to a housewarming party for some of our best friends. They had just got a new place in the Northeast and we were there to drink and christen the house. In the middle of the party, a random Jimmy Eat World song came on over the stereo. Me and a buddy of mine began waxing earnest on the topic of the band. I still, ten years later, felt the same way about the band as I always had. We talked shamelessly about our undying love for them. It reignited (yet again) my love, not only for the band but for the people I surround myself with.

So, thank you to both. And sorry, Jimmy Eat World, for ever doubting you. It will not go unnoticed ever again.

14 November 2012

Clarity Always Comes When You Hit The Ground

It is in the depths of self-induced struggles that one begins to scramble in an animalistic sort of way, a thrashing and knee-jerk reaction to the status quos that one has set for themselves. These kicks and punches are important for one simple reason. It means you haven't lost the fuel that kept you thrashing in the first place.

As of late, motivation and ambition has been lost in the white noise of financial strains and physical exhaustion. I concoct lofty plans of schooling, film-making and being a full-fledged independent writer. Then, when the day-to-day takes its toll, I am left bedraggled and weary, too tired to run on fumes. I continue on overdrive, my heart soaring to the sky with big plans. All the while, I am networking with people in a way that cannot be undone. I consistently make plans with friends only to break them and, in the meantime, book a band that I really dig to play shows here in Portland.

It's an awkward sort of balance that, if I'm not careful, can be quite the slippery slope. My intentions are never self-absorbed. I just have the tendency to be completely wish-washy. I've got to put my head where my heart is. And the only way to do that is in a full-force sort of way. I've come to the realization over the last couple of weeks that I still have the power to change the things I am unhappy about (to an extent).

I've neglected books for a long while now. In their stead, I've chosen television and music. For whatever reason, keeping the library copy of Celine's "Death On The Installment Plan" underneath my coffee table for the last five months has brought me a great deal of comfort. I've began reading it and delved into it at least five times. Once you lose the cadence of his writing, you lose the entire point of the novel. This has been my struggle since finishing "Journey To The End Of The Night" and beginning the sequel. So, underneath my table it has remained. I am going to tear into this book the first chance I get this time around.

I've got a few friends that live just down the street that I feel like I've neglected due to my cobwebby, exhausted mental state. They're moving across town in a day or two and the thought of it bums me out for a couple of reasons. One, the fact that, in hindsight, I've taken their proximity for granted. Two, said proximity won't even be a factor anymore. It's a change of circumstance that can only be dealt with by making an effort to continue to see them by taking the necessary measures to make the trek across town through the congested traffic and exit signs.

I booked my first show ever a while back. Since then, I talked with people through email and internet that I have never met in person. By circumstances alone, we are friends, comrades. New relationships have been reignited by means of live music. Without the utmost dedication, this show could be a complete bust. The show is a week and a half away. I will attempt to begin some hardcore flyering for the show tomorrow, hangover or not. I am remaining humble, however. I don't expect the show to be a huge success but, at the same time, I don't want it to be a complete bomb.

The ideals behind these motivations are honest. The ambition to follow them through a lot of the time can be quite taxing. Combining the two makes a vicious cocktail of self-induced hardship. While I'm spending my days with my head in the clouds and dreaming of realities that haven't happened yet, Robin is working her ass off to create her own realities. It is an ever-inspiring source for me.

The thing I've come to realize, though, is that ultimately I need to change my train of thought. The days spent dreaming of lazy nights segue into lazy nights spent trying to stay awake. At the end of the day, the time and effort spent seems completely pointless. In the morning, tired and lean, I feel the most inspired. The nights planned days in advance always hold more weight. I know I've gotta stay on my feet. It gives me more ferocity. I know that when I finally call it a night, I'll get less sleep than if I had opted for a lazy night in. Reeling from the lack of sleep the next day, it's a momentum that I feel like I can keep.

This is not a list of New Year's resolutions. This is a game-plan for the rest of the year.

13 November 2012

Drunken Poetry Dispatch #1

[this poem (for lack of a better word) was written a while ago. i feel that it still holds true to everything that is still going on, still percolating if you will. i've recently found myself inspired in a different way at the end of the work week. drunkish, tired and for some reason still sleep-deprived. let's just say it's a new way of thinking. like playing crossword puzzles on my smartphone.]

---

always seething, always roiling beneath the surface is inspiration.

inspiration found in long nights and even longer days.

cigarette ash burning away the blues.

inspiration from the one sleeping on the couch next to me.

this beauty, this monument.

it is through the perspective of someone else sharing your situation that you can get the greatest inspiration.

that's why people read, write, create.

that's why bands can rip off the ramones and still carry the torch dutifully.

perhaps lack of productivity isn't a lacking of any sort.

perhaps its a way to catalog the little idiosyncrasies that make up the fiber of who we are.

the days spent apart, the manic pace of a grocery run.

hating everybody while being completely in love with each other.

this is what we thrive on.

the ferocity of misanthropy, the bravado of living for something or someone else.

we are a combination of both. the irony can be crippling.

31 October 2012

The S-Bridge Is Not A Bar

The 'Redefining Home' segments of this blog reflect the trip back home that Robin and I took over the summer. These entries are important by their own merit for the sake of a story. However, what some of you may or may not know, the emphasis of these stories is the fact that said journey was when we became (re)aware of the idea of home.

For almost the entirety of our time spent in Portland thus far, our idea of home was lost in the shuffle. Monuments that had been created no longer existed. Comforts of past memories were saved for evenings of discussions and drinking. Tongues became swords pointed at the throats of the ones we thought we knew. Although poison still drips from the same tongues, we've reevaluated and reassessed our ideals. The two of us have recreated the fuel that was intrinsic all along.

Keeping this in mind, our idea of home is different than it was even a year ago. We know where we come from, we know who we are. We know where we stand with the people that we care about. We know that the Midwest is ours and will always will be, because we did our time and we earned it.

During this journey, in between the hangovers and lack of sleep, our friend Sonia gave us one of the best gifts we could have ever received. It was a much needed breath of fresh air, even if only for a few moments. It put everything into perspective. It was infinite.

Robin and I had spend that Sunday at her mom's house drinking wine and talking while catching up on our favorite television shows. To anyone that lives in Fort Wayne, getting drunk on a Sunday is a special occasion. It's a different dynamic, a different feeling. It's got the comfort of a regular drinking-night, but with the transience of a fleeting glory. To some of us, it can be illegal (like going to Ohio for booze). To others, some can look like gods because there's a fully-stocked fridge on a Sunday night.

Regardless, we passed the hours away with discussions and wine and food. Sleepily, we awaited the arrival of Sonia. We were under the impression that she was taking us to a shitty dive bar in the middle of nowhere. After a bottle of wine each, it sounded like a great idea. There's no rest for the weary and we were all for it. Sonia knocked at the door and that was our cue to leave.

Saying our goodbyes and grabbing our things, Robin and I piled into the car with Sonia, our friend Amber in tow with Sonia's boyfriend. Sonia was driving us to a place called The S-Bridge. A couple minutes into the ride, Sonia's boyfriend chimed into the conversations with a question.

"So, what's this bar like?", he asked Sonia. This entire trip was masterminded by her, therefore making her the authority.

"...What bar?" Sonia, in complete seriousness, responded.

We all glared at each other, trying to telepathically figure out what the fuck Sonia was thinking. The three of us that weren't Sonia chimed in seemingly all at once. "..The bar that you're taking us to...?"

"We're not going to a bar...", Sonia replied. "It's just something I've gotta show you."

Resigned to the fact that we weren't going to wile away the hours drinking at a bar, we became quiet, trying to keep the conversation going. It is in these desperate nights when one can feel most alive. The rubber on the road, the dim dashboard lights burning like beacons, the wind and smoke coursing through the car. These are what one lives for while spending time on the road. I then realized that I had a flask of gin in my bookbag and pulled it out. The bottle was passed around the car as we coursed through the night.

After double-checking the route, we wound our way through the nowhere country of Indiana. Far from city lights and strip malls, we found ourselves twisting and turning in the moonlit night through the fields of Avilla. None of us, with the exception of Sonia, knew what to expect.

Driving over a steel bridge, we pulled into a gravel parking spot on the side of the road. "We're here!", Sonia exclaimed.

We stepped out of the car into the darkness of the night. Searching our surroundings, none of us had any idea as to what was in store. We followed Sonia down the road we had drove in on and found ourselves on the steel-beam bridge. "Just wait," Sonia said, "You'll see."

Within a few minutes, we heard the holler of the train and saw a blinding light down the track. We then realized that we were on a bridge that perpendicularly spanned a train track. The lot of us jerked our heads towards Sonia with fire in our eyes. My heart swelled. We all followed Sonia's direction and sat down on the bridge, our legs dangling over the edge, feet rested on an I-beam.

Only a couple seconds had passed between the horn of the train and its rushing beneath our feet. We were choked by diesel smoke and immediately clung to the bars of the bridge for dear life. The train passed underneath, rocking and swaying us as it bore down the track. The ferocity of it was frightening and thrilling. My legs twitched with the fear that they would be removed by the train. The soles of my shoes were a foot from the top of the train. I felt like I had been lifted to the stars. Not one thing mattered in those few moments. Everything was forgotten. I became infinite.

After the last car barreled underneath the bridge, I came back to earth. The breath returned to my lungs. I was back where I belonged.

"...Holy FUCK, Sonia!!", I shouted, crawling to my feet. "How did you pull that one off??".

She flashed a smile and pulled out a bottle of Jameson she had brought for the occasion. I pulled out what was left of the gin. The four of us passed around the bottles, the glass clinks and liquid gulps spilled out into the empty night. Sonia's boyfriend and I killed what was left of the gin and the Jameson went safely back into a padded purse as a second train came fuming down the track.

We did it all over again. This time around, however, we knew what to expect. It didn't make it any less thrilling. If anything, we had more courage than before. It brought the experience full circle.

Afterwards, reeling from the gin and the excitement of witnessing trains at full bore from a foot above, I was ready to call it a night. I got back into the car, not caring when or how I got home. With Sonia at the wheel and Robin by my side, I knew I was in good hands.

18 October 2012

Sexism Is A Two Way Street


I saw this posted earlier today. I was immediately infuriated for a couple reasons. It is an incredibly sexist statement and people have the tendency to forget that sexism is a two-way street. Also, the fact that this ideology is actually held by people makes me sick to my stomach.

Latterman, a band that I have tattooed on the back of my leg for a reason, has a song on one of their albums entitled "Dear Boys". It is a mostly instrumental piece with music and static as the backbeat to a speech about how men need to align themselves with women's struggles. In the liner notes of the album, they further emphasize the importance of this. Since the following text was no where to be found on the internet, I decided to spend the time typing it out for everyone to read.

There is quite a bit of truth in what the four-piece band is saying and it's something that everyone, whether male or female, needs to consider. Although this diatribe doesn't directly tie into the image, it was the "dear boys" that inspired me to pass this wisdom along.

[Credit for this prose goes to LATTERMAN]

"dear boys, patriarchy - a set of institutions that reproduces male control over women's labor, sexuality and childbearing capacity (i.e. religion, government, school, relationships). misogyny - hatred of women and what they symbolize, commonly displayed through abuse or disgust brought about by fear. sexism exists in all communities, punk rock being no exception. because we all grew up in a patriarchal society, these fucked up ideas have been socialized and ingrained in us. refusing to admit or believe they exist do nothing but perpetuate the problem. if we as boys are serious about dealing with sexism, misogyny and sexual violence, we must challenge ourselves, our friends and confront the patriarchal systems that perpetuate this oppressive behavior. the socialized idea that men must be dominating, violent and emotionally detached must be rejected and then redefined. oppressive language that we often hear being used is inherent in our society, rarely questioned and ultimately reinforces a culture of violence against women. more importantly, it is imperative that we go beyond language and fully confront sexism and misogyny in our daily lives and experiences, acted out through coercion, manipulation, fear and intimidation. relationships that we have seen and experienced firsthand revolve around the needs of men, rather than the mutual needs of both partners. punk rock shows have so often and continue to be male-dominated spaces; essentially dudes watching other dudes yell about their own dude problems. in acknowledging this problem, we must work with, and in support of, our women friends in order to make these spaces inclusive and safe, while adequately addressing the sexist behaviors that permit and facilitate the very oppression we should be fighting against. we understand how difficult it can be to admit that you or your friends have fucked up or are still fucking up. as men, we have been working to create community-based responses along with groups to actively confront issues of patriarchy and male-dominance. in trying to deal with this, we ourselves have been confronted with criticisms and concerns from women within our scene. though we can't personally relate to their experiences, it is of utmost importance that we offer unconditional support and continue to help create dialogue, while working cooperatively to smash the cycles of violence and patriarchy that are inherent in our own lives. it's important to find support from other men in our communities and seek out information from outside resources. ask your women friends about their viewpoints and experiences and FUCKING LISTEN! remember...it's not women's job to educate us, we must educate ourselves. we have to extend ourselves past our comfort levels to address our actions and places within the structure of power...and the four of us are no exception. by not openly confronting and challenging these issues, we are perpetuating the cycles of abuse. we need to recognize our male privilege and continue to find ways to reject our own shitty behavior. let's help build something better..."

10 October 2012

At The Dawn Of The Night

After the storms rage and the waters cease to swell, I'm left in the wake of a calm. A quiet and inspiring landscape that is deep, green, beautiful and leveling. The sun sets as the moon rises and, long after the sun has gone down, I'm just as wide-eyed as I was nineteen hours beforehand.

Stars in the sky at 6 a.m. are far more important than those at the dawn of the night. The pathways carved in the daylight are tedious, monotonous, extraneous. Those cut out of weary mornings with breath hanging in the air are more familiar, closer to reality than the manic pace of the afternoon. It is in between these two lines that some semblance of my livelihood can be drawn.

Far too often, it seems, I am left to my own devices. I have the tendency to spend too much time in my head rather in the clouds where it belongs. I grit my teeth, dreaming of the sky. A couple of hours can feel like an entire day given my mood. The in-betweens are what I exist in, the bad decisions and the best ones. The balance is what is important.

Within that balance is another dynamic. It is the dynamic in which I tend to compare the old to the new. It is a self-defeating habit that serves no purpose. However, it serves to keep me in check and in tune with my ideals.

Over the last couple of years, I developed health problems that I thought were the be-all, end-all. I romanticized these afflictions as something noble, something I would carry as a scar of a shitty battle. All the while, I was furious for one simple reason: I swore to protect, support and love Robin with all my being. How could I do those things with failing health? I almost immediately began rationalizing these things into the past. I remembered the fierceness, the veracity at which me and those closest to me lived life. We ran on fumes most of the time, only caring about campfires and each other. Music, booze and keeping ourselves fed at all costs. Even if it meant stealing.

I kept coming back to when Robin and I got together. The almost fable-like history we created for ourselves. We became folklore heroes among our friends. Our stories didn't seem real, but we actually had lived them. Even to this day, telling people said stories, I feel superhuman, weathered enough to outlast the seasons.

I clung to these ideals as a talisman, thinking all the while that something was wrong. I felt like I was at war all of the time, holding onto these ideals as my world burned around me. I saw no light at the end of the tunnel. When I finally opted for health insurance at the beginning of this year, I hoped against hope that I was on my way to recovery.

It began with a primary care doctor and wound up with surgery that set me back almost three grand that I didn't have. When, six months later, certain problems hadn't been fixed, a different specialist was recommended. I expected the worst. I went under a gamut of eye and vision tests. It was some of the most painful prodding and poking I've ever experienced. When I was told that I would need to come back for one more test, I figured I was in the clear. I figured if I was in bad shape, the last test wouldn't do a damn thing to change that.

During this process, the looming dread of massive medical bills kept other ideals at bay for a while. The cost of surgery, healthcare and so forth really kept me rooted in my place. I had no where to go if I was in no condition to go. More or less, things were alright. I had enough of a credit line to cover everything at once, even if it meant I maxed out one of my two.

One of my best friends is getting married. This weekend. I had to shirk my responsibilities to attend the wedding because of the pending cost of medical treatment. Responsibly, I could not tap into money that I did not have for the wedding. This bums me out for a lot of reasons. The biggest one being that I love him and his fiance is one of the most amazing girls I have ever met in my life. Oh, and I'm the reason they're still together. Ask either of them and they'll tell you.

Fast forward to the present. I had the last vision test yesterday. Turns out there's nothing wrong. According to my eye doctor, I've over analyzed completely normal phenomena to the point where it was detrimental to my mental health. I'm fine (short of the ringing in my ear because of Against Me!). That puts me on a different plane of existence now. I am in the clear of paying any more medical bills, but I cannot undo the past. I am unable to make the wedding.

Earlier tonight, I saw my same friend's band's video on youtube. They were playing live in the Midwest, two hours from where we all grew up. Seeing him on stage with his guitar and black-rimmed glasses and guitar sent a wave of emotion through me that I could not help but regret and also revel in. He is someone that has always been there. In the late nights and the desperate barfights, he was always a constant. Staying up until dawn, when the beer had all been drank, was how he got his nickname "Campfire Kid". He taught me the importance of coffee at all hours of the day. I can depend on him to play any song on any instrument at my request.

You don't find many people like him ever. And Stacy is a fucking awesome girl. I'm going to keep them around even if at the present moment I am two thousand mies away. I love you, guys. That is all.
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