Comrades

A couple of weeks ago I was invited out to a benefit concert that was being held at one of the local venues downtown. The proceeds of the concert went towards the victims of the Orlando shooting that took place not to long ago.

Live music, a good cause, what’s not to love? Admittedly, I was a little hesitant to jump on board.

You see, I hadn’t been to this place before, nor have a I seen this particular band before. In fact I haven’t been to most venues in my local area. “But Mark” I hear you say “You’re a musician, how have you not been to at least a few of the music venues?”

To be honest, live music is kinda intimidating to me.

Why? It’s was because it sort of felt like a risk to me. It meant rubber meeting the road as far as this whole music thing. Actually going out there, even some what regularly to shows, meet new people, connect with musicians was kinda scary. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t totally live under a rock. I’ve gone to a few concerts before. I just didn’t feel very confident as an artist yet. The idea of mingling with people who actually had an idea of what they were doing, well, I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to keep up.

My natural inclination was to crawl back under my rock where I knew it was safe. Where others couldn’t judge me. It’s easier that way. Which is something I really considered.

It was then I had to have hard talk with myself.

‘Ok, so concert coming up. What’s the plan?’

Umm… Ice cream and Netflix?

‘…What?’

You know. The easy way? The not dangerous way? Isn’t this the obvious solution?

‘Ok, here’s the thing. You like music right?’

Yes

‘You do still want to do it as a career?’

Fuck yea!

‘Do you see, you know, maybe a problem with wanted to do these things, and…you know… not going to  them ever?’

…But…It’s scary and different.

‘Most things worth doing are.’

I broke down and gave into the little voice in my head and put the ice cream back in the fridge to be binged upon another day.

I ended up arriving a bit earlier then I had planed on to the concert. So early, in fact, I was the first one there, but it allowed me a good look at the place. It was a part of old downtown, so red brick and long panes of glass greeted me on the front. I followed a narrow corridor to the music hall proper which was thankfully much larger. Same redbrick as the front but parts the walls adjacent to the stage were lined with black concrete and a black floor. Giving it a very earthly tone.

Opposite to the stage was the bar where I claimed a stool and ordered a draft. I looked around and spotted a small group of people at the other end of the bar. They were talking, laughing and being generally merry .

I moved closer and introduced myself. They practically greeted me with open arms. Talking to them I found that they were one of the bands that were going to be preforming tonight. They told me how excited they were to be there, that they were actually originally from Philadelphia and were touring. Heard this was going on and what the cause was for and they were more than happy to help out.

As time rolled by more people showed up, including the other performers. One of them came up to the bar to get some water from the bartender. While he was there I struck up a conversation with him. Finding out that we actually already knew each other. That I had worked with him before.I had actually run the soundboard at one of his prior events.

A few more people walked up and the same sort of thing happened. Talked, found some sort of connection and just instantly clicked. I eventually had a whole circle of people around me. All of us swapping stories and jokes, just like we were old friends despite just meeting.

Even when the show finally started we stuck together jamming out and drinking beer. It wasn’t quite like anything I had experienced before. For the first time in a while I didn’t feel like the odd one out. I did’t feel the compulsion to apologize for being who I was or looking the way I did. I looked and acted perfectly normal amongst this crowd.

In a way I felt at home. Like I was lost and had finally found my tribe. There was no judgement here. No conflict of interest. It was a safe place. Just a group of people who wanted to just listen to some music.

***

So much of the time I feel like I am fighting this up hill battle against the world. Having to shake off judgments and justify why I do what I do. It’s easy to feel alone. Even though the very opposite is true. There are many of us out there. Probably all feeling the same way. That is why moments like that are so precious. To find your clan and build each other up. Because we have enough going against us as artists. Like soldiers standing shoulder to shoulder. In victory or in defeat, we need to get the others backs if we are going to survive this crazy world.

(image credit: wikipedia)

Welcome to my Garden

Hey internet,

Sorry I haven’t written in a while. It’s been a… busy year thus far. Loooots of drama has ensued that past six months, and it has been incredibly difficult to bring myself to write again. For a while there I wasn’t sure if it was even worth it to me do it again.

I mean, it’s not a particularly big site and its not like I have the most followers in the world. I could totally get away with just dropping off the face of the earth and none’s the wiser. Then I got to thinking, Why did I start doing this in the first place?

To make a statement?

To stick it to the man in my own little corner of the internet?

I figured out that it’s kinda a mixed bag for me. However, there was one thing I did end up remembering. The reason I started doing this in the first place. Just like every single person who has walked on this earth, I have a dream. That dream is to be a rockstar.

When I first realized my dream, I was ecstatic. I was gifted with new sense of purpose that took the form of this tiny, fragile, seed. This seed held within it my dreams, my hope and passion. I wasn’t sure what to do with this new little life that I held so delicately within my palm. So I look around, hoping to gain some guidance from others by observing what they had done with their seeds.

Everywhere I looked it seemed like a majority of people had taken their seeds and shoved them deep into their pockets or locked them far away in a safe somewhere. Others I had even seen take a hammer and crush their seed till nothing was even left of the poor thing. Sometimes I even saw people robbed of their seed by others who had lost their own at one point or another.

Then I was approached and was told that I should do the same before something bad happens to me. That the seed was dangerous. I followed as I was told and tucked it away in a corner somewhere. Pilled papers and junk on top of the little seed. In hopes of never seeing it again.

Until I saw someone do something different.

One day someone new walked up to me. They greeted me with a big smile and grabbed me by the arm. Pulling me close, they whispering excitedly into my ear “I need to show you something!” and lead me to a garden. A garden that was filled with plants and flowers I had never seen before! All filled with colors as far as the that stretched as far as the mind could imagine. I was overwhelmed with the warmth of this place. “You think that’s cool?” She continued to lead me till we reached the center of the garden where we were greeted by a colossal tree.

It was the biggest tree I had ever seen. It’s massive trunk was followed up by strong, think branches. Branches that held the most unique and captivating creatures I had ever seen. Some with beaks, some with tails, some with scales. All of them unique. At the end of the branches were but only the most vividly colored leaves. Not just green, but purple, yellow, pink, orange. All flowing seamlessly together.

“Is this yours? How did you do this?” I uttered in amazement

She simply smiled and responded “I planted the seed”

I ran home pealed back layers upon layers of debris from a corner of my room and found a tiny, dusty, seed. I plucked it from it’s tomb and gazed upon it. Brushing the dust off it I found it had become weathered and dirty, but I could still see the distinct spark it had from when I first discovered it.

She came up behind me and told me “Careful. It’s more then just planting a seed. You have to commit to it. You have to water it. Protect it from hungry birds. Sometimes even from other people.”

I looked to her, seed in hand “Will it be hard?”

She nodded “Yes, and it requires patience. Sometimes it feels like you may go through all the effort of caring for it with not a thing to show. However, little do you know that, inside, something powerful grows. And when you see that first little glimmer of green sticking out of the ground, it will all feel so worth it.”

I studded the little miracle of life and observed it’s little crevices. In each one of them I saw beauty and joy. Color and change. Most of all, I saw hope.

I dug a little hole in the dirt and placed the precious cargo into it’s newly created bed.

***

I do this because I have a dream and I know you do too. And it feels so easy to fall into the mind set of living in shame of dreams and passions. To keep to the grindstone and forget the rest. The thing is, where would we be as a culture if no one ever pursued their crazy dreams? What if we all just did what we were told and kept our nose clean? Probably all living in a cave somewhere afraid of the sunlight. Living in fear.

Personally, I have had enough of living in fear.

My name is Mark, and I am no different from you reader. I am just some guy sitting at a computer writing. I am not special. I am not particularly gifted. I am in no way better than you or anyone.

The only thing I have done is that I have decided to plant my seed and am working hard to have a garden some day. I say all this because I don’t want to hide anymore, and I want to show you it’s possible. The garden may not end up the exact way you would like. It may have some hills. It may grow next to a lake that is home to a group of hungry geese that you have to fend off regularly. But it’s your garden. Yours to create and shape. It all starts with a decision. Are you going to stow away your seed and ignore it’s existence, or see what magic you can make happen?

Don’t worry. I’ll get the dry cleaning bill

You guys ever been to six flags? Or an amusement park in general? Well for the five of you out there who haven’t, there are these things called roller coasters. They are basically trains with teeth. You sit in a cart that is just a smidge to small. Typically sharing it’s occupancy with some big, sweaty, fat guy who clearly has never even heard of this mythical invention called ‘deodorant’. So you and, we will call him Boris, are sitting there forcing small talk until all the other sweaty people hop on board the tiny train. Once everyone is aboard you start your journey on a thin little track. It’s all pretty straight forward at first. Just going straight and up.

Eventually great anticipation starts to settle in and you start to ask a few questions. ‘I wonder what’s going to be around that bend once I reach the top? A fall downward? A corkscrew? Loop-de-loop?’. After what feels like a an eternity, you reach the top and you can see the entire park. You are the freaking king of the world for half a second. Then the pace picks up and you are hurtling back toward the earth at breakneck speeds. Only to be broken out of your crazed decent by and even crazier bend that leads to another accent. This one not nearly as controlled as the first. Immediately afterward you are hit by a reverse corkscrew then a followed by another sudden drop. This decent into madness continues until you are slowed down and hit the end of the track. ‘But there is no platform. Why did we stop? This can’t be the end of the ride.’ You think to yourself, until you realize that you are starting to move again. This time in the opposite direction. Doing the whole thing again… in reverse. One hell of a thrill ride but not for the faint of heart. Like your cart buddy Boris, whom at the end of all this has gotten sick on your shoes.

It’s easy to make fun of Boris. The large flabby man who couldn’t keep down his corn-dog after one loop-de-loop. The truth is though, we have all been in Boris’s shoes. We think we can take the ride despite the fact that we just had a nutritious meal of hot-dogs, fries, and a nice cold 52oz coke. I can feel for Boris. I’ve been Boris for the past few months, and I’ve just gotten off the ride, and I just barfed on your shoes… and I’m sorry.

A lot has happened since I last wrote you my beautiful people. There is much to fill you guys in on. Things I couldn’t possibly even attempt to cram in one blog post. Some, I’m not quite ready to share yet. What I can tell you guys now is that I’m back. You could say it’s been one hell of journey. If by ‘journey’ you meant feeling like you’ve been kicked in the nads repeatedly by a seasoned Brazilian soccer player with steel cleats than yes, ‘journey’. Regardless, life goes on, wounds will heal, and the Punk Musical will once again live.

So, I invite you guys, once again, to join me on my travels as I assent the stairs to rockstardom. One clumsy step at a time.

NOTW: Looking Ahead

I’ve picked up a bad habit in food service. I have a tendency to look at the ground when walking. Not so much because I am trying to avoid eye contact with people or that I have a low self esteem. No, I developed this habit because I had to spot any floor hazards when walking around in a restaurant. Floor hazards like spatulas, knives, feet, children, anything that could trip me up during rush hour. There is a certain sort of dance that has to be preformed when working in a restaurant, and any miss step could spell disaster.

The thing is, my habit of floor watching didn’t stop at work. I found myself applying it in everyday life. Which I was aware of, but didn’t particularly find a problem in. When I did it, I could see everything I needed to know to get from one place to the next safely. Besides, it’s not like my head was fixed towards the ground or anything, just my eyes.

Recently I went on a walk in the park. It was a beautiful day and autumn was in full swing. Shades of yellow and red coated the trail from the trickling trees over head. I took my time taking it all in, watching the leaves as they gracefully fluttered in the wind.

I felt a sort of wonder in it all, and as time went on, almost care free. Before I knew it, I was at the end of the trail. ‘Wait, what? But I didn’t pass the large crack in the trail at the second mile mark yet, or the pot hole that recently got repaved.’ I thought. Then I realized something, I had been so fascinated by the scenery, I hadn’t even noticed were I was going.

My confusion was quickly over come with concern. ‘What all have I been missing?’ I wondered

‘With being so caught on efficiency, what did I miss along the way?’

Though my technique worked, and I always knew where I was going, I was missing everything note worthy along the way. The sights, colors, and people were all lost on me because I was so fixated on getting from point A to B as efficiently as possible.

This week, I encourage you guys to being more open to your surroundings. Really opening your eyes and living in the now, instead of just where you want to be. There is, after all, a whole world out there.

Thank you guys for joining me in this week’s NOTW (Notes on the Wall). What’s something that has been inspiring you or even getting you through this week? Feel free to share in the comments or hit me up on twitter (@PunkMusical)!

(Photo Credit: pixabay.com)

New Year’s Resolution – Not what you may think

Happy 2016 everyone! If last year was a suck fest, now you don’t have to worry about it any more! Because 2016 is a new year, a new opportunity, and a new resolution to fulfill.

A New Years Resolution is the best way to bring in a new year. Making new goals to accomplish, in order to become a better you by next years resolution. But to make our new goal, we need to look at the bigger picture. For example if you are writer, you may be attempting to write your first novel in this new year, or if you are over weight, attempting to reclaim your health by going to the gym regularly.

The big picture is what some people need right now, maybe even most people. I know the big picture is what I needed seven months ago when I lost my corporate job. Its good to have a sense of direction and purpose.

Myself, I feel like if I go anymore big picture, my mind will actuality explode. For you see, I never really left planning the big picture from seven months ago. At almost every opportunity, I am organizing and planning in an attempt to achieve my end goal. Rockstar-dom.

Here is the funny thing about constantly planning for the end goal, you burn yourself out before you even get any where near it.

Guys, this is how bad I get. This past year I had the privilege of exchanging a few messages with a hero of mine, Ariel from the band Icon for Hire. In this exchange I was telling her about my various plans to achieve rockstar-dom and if she had any advice. I will never forget what she told me. “Remy, let me tell you from someone who has been there, you need to chillout. Because when you are so fixated on the end goal, you miss out on all the little moments along the way.”

Just like with everything, there needs to be a balance. We need to have a goal to motivate us, but we need to remember to live in the moment too.

So that is why this year one of my own resolutions is to remember to live in the moment a bit more. If you are a perfectionist like I am, you may know how difficult of an undertaking this can be. However I have already discovered a few tricks that have been helping me out. One of which is to be still.

Literally, don’t do anything. Don’t think about yourself or what you ‘should’ be doing. Instead just think about your surroundings. For example, the strange woven texture on your bedside lamp shade that you never noticed before, or why you think that tree in the distance grew slightly sideways.

Another tip I have discovered is that repetitive motion helps to process thoughts and emotions. It’s one of the reasons I love running. One foot, then the other, then the other, so on and so forth. If running is not your thing, then walking. Especially night walking. The serenity of the night, breathing in the fresh, cool air, and just walking for no real allotted amount of time. Allowing yourself to not stick to a clock for a while so you can have room to just process.

The last one is breathing. I mean past that whole, ‘needing it to live thing’. Taking a moment to physically stop, draw in a deep breath through the nose, and out through mouth a few times can be a huge attitude changer.

New Years can be a great opportunity to create some new goals and maybe even make some huge changes in our lives. Changes big and small. However for me, I am going to take a step back from planing and learn how to chillout.

(Photo Credit: Flickr.com)

…Fuck It

Six months ago I worked in a restaurant as a manager

Six months ago I was on the steady track to ‘success’

Six months ago I had a plan

Six months ago I was miserable

These past few months in my life have been some of the most incredible and growth filled of my life, and to think It all started out with my ‘awesome management’ job being taken away from me for reasons out of my control. Then deciding to follow this crazy, irrational, dream of mine to become a rock star. Since then, I have met a guitar master, whom I’ve gotten to study under, bought a website, met all kinds of colorful, inspiring, loving people, met my personal hero and since have had several exchanges with her, and most of all, discovered myself.

For the first time in my entire life I feel alive. Before now, every new year filled me with dread, because it just felt like having to do the same year all over again just with a new digit slapped on it. Not any more. For the first time I feel excited to simply be doing what am doing, and seeing where it takes me. For the first time, I feel hopeful.

And none of this happened because I had a plan.

I’ve been making this shit up every step of the way. Don’t get me wrong I certainly try to have a plan. In fact, I was even under the impression that I had one. To keep my head down and keep plugging away at my music till I became some sort of master…

NOPE

I have recently been given a new job in a music store that has, seemingly, been the answer to a lot of prayers. A music store where I can work closely with music and musicians, and get discounts on much needed equipment.

Not only that, but I have met someone. Someone who has been changeling me and making me face some old demons.

All of these are beautiful, amazing things. All of which I needed and all of which weren’t according to plan.

We can make all the plans we want, but ultimately, life is going to take you wherever the fuck it feels like. Our entire lives we are standing in an open field coated in fog. Most of the time we find ourselves just standing there, in the one spot, trying to plan our first move. All the while lying to ourselves. Telling ourselves that conditions will get clearer and then we can move, but the fog will never lift and the conditions will never clear.

Eventually we just need to say “fuck it” and take a step forward. Even though we may not even be able to see the ground in front of us. It’s a risk and it’s scary. That first step may land you in a lake or a tree but it will be a step worth it all the same. I know my first step was off a cliff. No job, no money, seemingly no future, and totally worth it.

Today I am just making by

Today I face demons

Today I have no plan

Today I am finally alive

(Photo Credit: Ian Furst)

Peace in Pain

Every Saturday I usually swing by the bank to drop off my cash tips, that I’ve received from my delivery job, for that week. If any of you guys have ever worked a commission based job before, you know that you can never really plan around what you may get. Some days you may make near a couple of hundred, and some days, nothing. It’s a gamble, but I have found a good medium to shoot for and, typically, manage to hit it.

This month, though, I’ve been running short on cash due to holiday expenditures. So I was hoping, praying, that maybe I could do a little above average this week. To catch up on some bills. After counting through my weeks wages once, twice, four times, I found I didn’t make enough… in fact I didn’t even manage to break anywhere near even.

The short answer being, unless in the few remaining work days I have left this month I manage to make out like a freaking bandit, or I have a wealthy uncle in Peru, that I didn’t know about, who would love to send me a million dollars, I won’t be able to afford rent this month.

Needless to say, worry has been eating me inside out this morning.

“I don’t understand, I took extra shifts, I tried to take good deliveries, I stayed longer at the restaurant. I even applied to other jobs just to get no response!”

“Why this time of year? Why did I have to get hit with this shit now? During Christmas? The time of year when there is supposed to be peace on earth or some shit?!”

I meditated on this thought for a while. ‘Why would this be happening now? How am I supposed to be happy when I am experiencing so much pain and worry?’

Then I discovered something. This is what Christmas and the holiday season is about. Finding peace in pain. Joy in adversity, love in death.

To realize this, I really had to think about why the holidays are when they are. In the winter. The season that, for most of human history, has been associated with death.

Think about it. Winter is a depressing season. In winter, crops die, the trees are barren, and everything tucks away into a hole to seek shelter from the harsh weather. Before more modern days, If you didn’t prepare for the winter during the rest of the year, you were straight up dead come January.

So what do you do when faced with such extreme adversity as when the very elements turn against you? You find a reason to celebrate, to be thankful. This is one of the reasons why we as a species we decided to hold our biggest festivals at the end of the year, during the most depressing season. To find joy in the midst of pain. Because this time will pass, winter will end and the flowers will bloom again.

We just need that reminder. That, just because there may be death around use, doesn’t mean we have to be. If we live in life, live in joy, then adversity will lose some of it’s sting. Time still passes and another season is just around the corner.

***

I hope all of you guys out there have a fantastic Holiday season, and thank you so much for joining me! It has been an incredible year full of change and growth, and 2016 is just going to be better! Until then, enjoy some eggnog and a little Irving Berlin.

With all the love,

Remy

P.S. Keep kicking ass

(Photo Credit: pixabay.com)