Fun Size

The Fall season is here and is in full swing! Not only is autumn unquestionably the best season, but it is also home to my favorite holiday!

That’s right! The nasty summer heat has been traded for nice cool breezes and changing leaves. What is there not to love about October? Not to mention Halloween! The day you are actually allowed, and even encouraged, to dress up like a weirdo and throw candy in your face. I know many people make the argument that Halloween is a holiday more for kids and not a real holiday, but I call total crap on that. Honestly it has only gotten better as I have gotten older. Now I can go buy my own candy! Screw going door to door and working for it!

One thing that has always confused me, even as a kid going ‘trick or treating’, were the little bite size candies, or ‘fun’ size candies. Such as the little milky-ways or snickers. My little Hungarian brain was immediately insulted by such tiny candies. I came from a land were you made things in bulk! Don’t waste my time with your petite chocolate covered shavings! Where were the candy bars?

Of course I never made a big deal about it because, tiny or not, free candy is free candy. The thing that really confused me was that everyone else didn’t seem to share my frustration. Don’t get me wrong, it was an event when someone actually got a full sized candy bar. An event that we all celebrated by trying to steal it when the owner wasn’t looking, but other wise everyone was pretty contented with the size bars they did have.

This still confuses me even years later. If anything this strange contentment has even turned to celebration! I remember seeing in high school people even wearing ‘fun-size’ hoodies during that fall. What is this madness? “Why are we celebrating getting ripped off?” I thought.

“Maybe they are just settling. They knew that they will never get that full sized bar and they are just embracing circumstance.” I decided. Which was totally it, but it did make thing of something recently.

It reminded me of back when we were all kids on Halloween night. Getting dressed up in the costume you have been looking forward to wearing in public for the past four weeks. (Even though you had been wearing the costume just about every day at home up till that point, but this time your parents are letting you wear it outside! In front of the neighbors!) All the while salivating over the candy you will earn tonight with your friends. You knew what houses to hit and what ones to avoid. You had this down to a science.

Above it all, you were just flat out excited about it being the greatest day of the year, Halloween. Sure you wanted to make maximum profits in the candy department, but if anything you were just jazzed that you got to do, what you got to do. It was just the fact that you got to hang out with your friends late at night and eat a bunch of sugar, despite it’s pathetic size.

It was the little things that made it awesome.

I feel like we could learn something from our young selves here. As adults we feel we always have to be so concerned about the big picture, we often forget about all the little things around us at any moment. The people you and I interact with everyday.

For those of you who may not know, I am not a kick-ass rock star all around the clock. During the day I am a delivery driver for a deli, and like everyone else in the world who has to has to hold down a minimum – wage job to support themselves, I hate it. It is certainly not the worst job I have had, by far, but it is still a crappy minimum – wage job.

Because of this, I had to come to terms with something. That this is just my lot in life right now. This, hopefully, won’t always be my reality, but it is what I have to work with right now. So I made a decision. I will make the best of this situation as I can.

One of the goals that I have set for myself in life is to leave this world a little bit better. To help and inspire others through my art and my experiences. So, in relation with the deli, I asked myself, why wait till I am a rock-star to change lives? Why not start now, with what I have?

So everyday I try to bring my best attitude to my job and believe me, I am not saying this to brag. I have my bad days. Days I may, or may not, have told my manager he is an idiot, but that is besides the point. It’s not like I am a unique case. No one else wants willingly wants to work at some cruddy chain deli. So why not try to make our time there a little better by just being nice to each other, even in small ways?

When I went into work the other day, I found my direct supervisor slouched over a computer monitor. I said hi to her and she turned around. Her eyes were blood shot and baggy. I asked her if she was alright and she responded with a “not really”.

I asked what was wrong and she told me that her friend had gotten in a serious car wreck the prior night and was unresponsive in the hospital. My supervisor was at her bed side all night and wasn’t able to get any sleep.

I asked if there was anything I could do to help. She shook her head and responded “Just don’t fuck up today”. You know, that’s fair enough.

I was then sent out on my first delivery and a different manager requested that I went by the store afterwords to pick up some produce. My first thought was why didn’t we make a proper stock list the prior day, but that is besides the point.

After the delivery I went to the store as asked, and picked up the damn, super special, ‘organic’ avocados we use. On the way to the check out though, I spotted some dark chocolate on sale and thought of my supervisor. ‘Well, I mean chocolate always makes me feel better’ I thought and took a bar to check out.

When I got back to the store I took a piece of receipt paper and wrote her name it. Followed by that it was from her ‘favorite’ driver. Then placed the chocolate next to her register while she was away. Only to be immediately afterwords whisked away to prep for another delivery.

At this point I was on the other side of the store filling up an empty plastic gallon with iced tea (Because it doesn’t matter if it is getting cold, we are in the south damn it, and we need our cold tea!) and my mind was else where. All of a sudden I see my supervisor in the corner of my eye. I turned around to face her and saw tears in her eyes. I immediately expected something tragic, that maybe her friend had made a turn for the worst, but that wasn’t it at all. She thanked me and gave me a big bear hug. She said that, that chocolate was one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for her.

I didn’t think it when I bought it, but this cheap chocolate that I just thought would be a nice surprise, ended up meaning the world to her.

Even I was shown a similar kindness this week, on a delivery no less!

This particular day had been a busy one to say the least, and one of the many tickets we had that day belong to a group of office employees who had all ordered individual sandwiches. This particular order fell into my charge to deliver. Normally I try to make a point to look through the delivery bag to double check the packers job, but in this case I had to just get rolling due to the delivery already being half an hour late.

You can see where this is going can’t ya?

I got to the delivery location and, thankfully, was able to find the suite number without to much problem. I enter the room and found a group of middle aged women sat around a large table setting, seemingly in a conference. I attempted to be desecrate so that I wouldn’t disturb them, but that went right out the window when one of them yelled “Lunch is here!”

About that discretion thing.

How these sort of individual deliveries typically work is that the individuals order is bagged with their name written on it. That bag is then placed inside a larger bag with the other orders for my carrying convince. So what ended up happening, was that I went through my delivery bag and call the name that I would see on the individual bags. When I called the name, the person would come up to claim their meal. All of them ended up being fine, except for the last two orders I ended up handing out. One was missing a desert and the other was completely crushed under the weight of all the other items in the bag.

Not only did this mean that I had to go back to the store to replace the missing or damaged items, but it also meant a refund. Which means after all the effort, no tip for me. I was trying not to get to distressed about it, but it was defiantly irritating to say the least. Thankfully the women were fairly understanding, and were willing to wait for me to return with new food.

After going back to a restaurant full of irritated people who were stressed over how late this order has been, I return back to the delivery location. I am exhausted by this point because I had been driving for nearly eight hours straight and had not had a thing to eat all day. I didn’t care about the money at this point. I just wanted to be done with the day.

I relocate the suite location and once again, try to discreetly enter, only to once again, to have to spot light shown on me. “He’s back!” The same woman shouted.

I forced a smile on my face and after handing out the replacement food and genuinely apologized for everything. Their delivery was over an hour late by this point after all. That’s not cool.

They told me it was fine and informed me that management had informed them of their refund. They then asked another question as I got my bags together. “Are you still being compensated for all of this?” I replied with a no, and informed them that because of the refund, I lose my tip as well.

Then the most amazing things happened.

The same woman replied “Well that’s not right!” and she dug through her purse and, before I could even say anything, stuffed a few bills in my hand. Then another woman did the same and another. Eventually there formed a line of people handing me cash. I didn’t know what to say.

I eventually gathered my wits about me and thanked them repeatedly. One replied “It’s not your fault things happen. You worked hared, you deserve the tip.”

All of this to say one thing. I know we all strive for big things in life, as we should, but the thing is though, sometimes we need regain perspective. I want to go change the world in my own way. I want to someday preform my music in front of tens, of thousands of people. I want to reach out to the people all over the world and give them hope. Someday I hope and pray I can, but it doesn’t start there.

First we need to start smaller. Be that giving your hurting co-worker some sympathy or tipping your delivery boy. Sometimes, the most important things, or even the things we need the most, come in bite-size packages. Packages that conveniently only have the grams of sugar per serving on the bag and not the candy.

(Photo credit: flickr.com)

Through the Fire and the Flames

What is fire?

According to dictionary.com it’s “A state, process, or instance of combustion in which fuel or other material is ignited and combined with oxygen, giving off light, heat, and flame.”

Well at least in a literal sense, sure. What about a more . . . metaphorical meaning. What does it mean to us?

Fire is something that is neither good nor evil. It has no agenda or alignment, and because of this it can mean many things. It can be a curse or even a gift.

Though often we may associate fire with negative things. I think the most common association with fire may be when it burns down a building. When it comes and takes everything away from you that you have ever possessed and worked on because someone didn’t put out their cigarette.

This of course is a terrible tragedy, but it is not fire’s fault. The fire did not intended to take everything away from you. Though it’s not even capable of thought, yet fire does so much. Not only to harm us, but to help us. To build us up.

For centuries fire has been a great tool for man. From lighting, to cooking, to keeping warm on a cold night, fire has been our friend. It is even safe to say without fire, there would be no mankind. Many times though, fire doesn’t always feel like such an ally.

Sometimes, fire can take the form of a challenge.

As my journey in the life of a musician has continued, my daily challenges and struggles have only increased. This is happening because I am pursuing something that is most defiantly not the norm, and because of that I am always meeting a lot of resistance. I have found whenever you are chasing after something worth doing, there will always be complications. Sometimes these complications come bearing at you like a freight train.

Any time we try to do something good and creative, or even something new, there never fails to be a difficulty standing in the path. I am not even referring to the things that you can see coming a million miles away. No, I am talking about the stuff that goes wrong at the very last second.

One example could be, if you are a just starting to make your own podcast over something you are incredibly passionate about. You are super jazzed about it and are ready to go! You boot up the program to record on your computer and are about to start talking into your brand new microphone, but you notice something. The little record light on the mike isn’t glowing even though it’s plugged in. After fiddling around,  you come to the realization that your new expensive piece of equipment is faulty and you need to get a replacement. Thus delaying your new project by that much longer.

Or if you are a mechanic and you have just assembled your next car. After months of work and research you finally stick the keys in the ignition to start her up. You may have even tried this five times before to no avail, but this time it has to work. You have after all, put so much work into it. You turn the key . . . and not a sound.

These are the flames from the fire, and they are something we all have to deal with at some point. Much like fire, these are things that you can’t always predict or control. Not to mention they will always be there. Something will always be something going wrong, no matter what you do or say.

So what do you do?

The hard cold truth of it is, there isn’t anything you can really do to prevent it. You will be hurt at some point, even devastated. Not everything you do will be a success and there probably will be many things that will go wrong on your next project. It is inevitable and you can’t prevent it no mater how hard you try.

What you can do though, is don’t let the fire defeat you.

Don’t let it get to you and bring you down. Believe it or not, these flames are not here to necessarily hurt you. Like fire, it is only natural and will always be there. What it is doing, however, is making you stronger.

When a blacksmith is working with a fresh piece of iron they first have to make it malleable and soft. To do so they have to place the metal into a burning hot furnace. Into the flames. Then pull it back out to shape the piece of earth, and then put it back in again to repeat the process. This is called forging and right now, we are in the iron in the flames.

We will be forged and once again put back into the fire to be forged more. It’s not the most comfortable process, but it is one that will allow us to withstand anything. Soon we will be shaped into something beautiful.

Until then, don’t let the flames get to you. Remember, they are only little flames, and they will only make you strong.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Little Green Monster

As I have been growing as an artist, so is my desire to be around others like me. Because of this I am always looking for local venues that I may be interested in frequenting in my area. Eventually I stumbled upon an open mike night at a bar and thought, why not?

It was a nice enough place. It defiantly had the ‘neighborhood bar’ feel to it. Between the loose floor boards and crusty old guys, I couldn’t help but to feel kinda at home. I took a seat at in a booth and was greeted by a lovely waitress, whom I had the pleasure to share a few words with, and ordered a good ol’ amurican burger.

This was all well and good, but I was more excited to experience some of the local talent. See what my city had to offer for it’s music. Eventually nine rolled around and the open mike had officially begun. First was the guy who was actually coordinating the event. He walked onto the throw carpet and took a seat on the dusty wooden stool. He was a skinny, older man. You could tell that though he had been doing this a while, he still just as excited to be doing this today as he as twenty years ago. After he plugged in and gave the acoustic a few strums, he proceeded to play a couple of songs he had written years ago. Just getting to see the joy on this old, weary, mans face as he sang his song, I couldn’t help but to share his excitement.

After he played a couple of songs to warm up the crowd, the crowd being myself and maybe seven others, he handed it off to a much younger guy. He appeared to be about my age and had a cool sort of confidence about him. I wasn’t expecting to much from this new guy, but I was quickly shown otherwise. He was fully aware of every second, of every beat, of his songs. His hands moved effortlessly across the fret board and struck every note with laser precision.

I was thoroughly impressed! Then that excitement faded into disappointment and then envy. I caught myself feeling this way and I wondered why. I should be excited to see a musician my age kicking so much ass! Showing these older guys that we can keep up with them! I couldn’t help it though. I fell into the same pit fall that I often do. Comparing myself to someone else, and not liking the results.

My ability with my guitar often feels like how I measure my self worth. This may be one of my biggest struggles on my personal journey as a musician. The gritty reason behind it is that, I want to be able to keep up and maybe even show up other musicians. It’s terrible and trust me, it’s not something that I always like about myself. So when I see someone else, seemingly in a similar circumstance, play so much better then myself, I feel like some sort of failure.

This of course is not true. Who knows how long this guy has been playing and how much he experience he has. Personally I have been playing on and off for about four years. That is just the thing though, ‘I have been playing on and off for about four years’. Until about three months ago I didn’t take this whole music thing nearly as seriously as I do now. Of course I don’t have the same sort of experience and expertise as this guy. As far as I know he has been playing since he was three and toured with Aerosmith twice!

I know all of this in my head, but it is still a massive struggle for me personally to not compare myself to others. I feel like this is true for all of us in many ways.

For example if you are a tech person, you are probably always looking into the latest gear and upgrades that you can financially manage. If you have the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the S6 just came out. . . If you are honest with yourself you don’t really need the fancy new curved screen that has a total of two useful features, but it’s cool looking! Besides if you don’t spring for it, you will be (dun, dun, duuuunnnn) behind!

Or you may be a carpenter and you just finished building your first boat. You put months of effort and planing into it, not to mention smashing your thumb twice with a hammer. It may be a little rough around the edges, but you are proud of it none-the-less. Once you launch your creation at your local lake though, you find that carpenter Jim also just finished his boat but it has sweet cup holders! Not to mention a built in fridge and a hot tub!

Point being we always want to have the edge or the latest greatest thing. When we don’t, the little green envy monster comes out to wreck your shit.

I nearly let the envy I feel for this one guy ruin my nice evening out. The evening that I looked forward to because I wanted to be among my fellow musicians! The truth behind it is that there will always be someone better then you. You can work on something day in and day out and there will still be someone better then you. Someone who would have done it twice as well with half the effort.

The thing is though, you can’t let it get to you. Envy is a terrible little thing that can so easily tear apart relationships and possible friendships faster then anything else can. We, need to remember that everyone starts somewhere. Everyone starts out not knowing how to use a toilet, or knowing how to walk, how to hold down a chord on a guitar, how to upload a video, how to start a blog, how to drive, how to build a computer, how to make a stitch when knitting.

It’s ok because we all start off stupid! Everyone had to learn from something or someone else. Typically the person who you feel envy towards, isn’t intending that reaction. They are also people who have worked hard at what they do and want to show that off. Nothing wrong with that.

What is important is to remember is that you also shouldn’t confine yourself to one thing either. We are all to complicated to do that. While it is true that I identify myself as a musician I am also a cook, a writer(ish), a brother, a friend, a son, a lover of video games, a lover of nature, and so much more. When we realize this, then the whole “he’s better then me at that one thing, the one time” doesn’t seem as dire.

If you love something then you should still strive to be the best you can be, but remember to cut yourself some slack. Everyone is always learning all the time, and there is no such thing as a ‘master’ of something. Even though it is tempting, don’t let envy take over either. Just because someone is better at something then you doesn’t mean that you can’t have a friendship with them. Chances are they are just as thrilled about the subject as you are and would love to discuss it!

The in the Meantime

Alright, so you have finally come to the point were you have a goal. A dream that you want to fulfill. This is a huge step! This is a point that many people don’t even get too. So take a second and embrace that.

The thing is about that first step, is that it is the ‘first’ step. The first step of many, many more to come. The steps that I am referring too are the steps that are between you first committing to your goal and then achieving that goal. The time in which you are working your ass off to reach your dream. I have begun referring to this time as the ‘in the meantime’. If you are in the ‘meantime’, you are in good company, because many people, including myself, are right there with you.

What is the ‘meantime’ exactly? Well it’s something different for everyone. At the root of it, it is you building yourself to become that ‘you’, you want to be.

If you wanted to be a doctor, it’s that time in med-school. When you know you want to help people and save lives, but you are still learning how to. Maybe you want to be a game designer. Working your way through school and you have to hold down a side job at the dollar general to pay the bills. You have a burning passion to be a ballerina, but you still can’t quite perfect your pirouette, but practice everyday at it.

If you are doing something worth doing, you will eventually experience the ‘in the meantime’.

I have a powerful desire to be a rock-star some day. The thought of being up on stage and just playing my heart out on an instrument excites me to no end! Every time I even strum my acoustic I get chills! Which is fantastic! I have made the first step, but, as I said earlier, that’s not where the buck stops. Now that I have my goal, I need to work to achieve it. That means hours of practice on scales and songs. Taking that time to build up my confidence on my instrument and making it something worth listening too. During which time I still need a place to live in, so holding down a job on the side is a must. Building a business, building up my music, and holding down a job that makes me want to stab my eyes out with a spork. That’s what the ‘meantime’ is about right? Working your ass off till you make it. Not entirely.

I recently attended on online class titled “Turn your pain into art” with Ariel from Icon for Hire. It was an interactive experience where I got too, along with about five others, learn from Ariel about doing just that, turning one’s pain into art. It was an incredible experience to be able to interact with this person that, I admire so much, over a subject that I am so passionate about in real time! After the session I was able to exchange a few emails with Ariel. During these interactions she gave me a much needed reality check.

In one of our exchanged email I described my struggles in my particular ‘in the meantime’ and asked for some advice on just how to it handle all. The stresses of loving music and people so much, and wanting so badly to be a full time artist. My struggle of trying to take every moment, of everyday, to progress this dream forward. In her reply she mentioned she knew exactly how I felt. That she was the exact same way. She had such a powerful passion for music that she just wanted to devote every minute of her life to making her dream a reality. She eventually realized that just because she was doing that, didn’t mean that anyone was going to care for what she was doing. Just because she worked day in and day out for it, didn’t mean anyone owed her a look or two.

She said that you first need to chill out, working yourself to death isn’t going to help anyone. Second it’s not that you shouldn’t work hard, anything worth achieving you need to work hard for, but you need to re-evaluate why you are doing what you are doing.

During the lesson she shared her experiences on tour and one of her interactions with another band off stage. This was Icon for Hire’s first year on tour so she introduced herself to one of the other bands. Being very polite, she introduced herself and mentioned how excited she was to be there. The band member stated he name and brushed her off. She was, understandably, kinda offended and mentioned the incident to a friend. The friend replied that he doesn’t really interact with anyone. When he’s not on stage, he mostly just sits in his tour bus and plays on his phone. Ariel felt that this was an example of a man, who, may have fought his way, tooth and nail, to get were he is. Now that he is there, he don’t know what to do with himself. He may have become so fixated on making it, he burned away all his passion and love for his music in the process and is now left as a shell.

She finished by saying, you need to do this thing because it makes you happy, because it feels good and right to do. Don’t do it so that label can notice you, or that you can get a big following. You may make it big, but you will find that the nice label and money will ring hallow when you don’t have your passion anymore. If you are doing what you love, you may never make it big, but at least you will be happy.

The ‘meantime’ is difficult and is often the time people stop perusing their passions because it gets so rough. Ultimately the ‘meantime’ is about balance I feel. It’s an amazing tool to have such a powerful motivator as passion or a love for something, but you need to make it work for you. Remember, don’t let it use you and let it run you into the ground.

If you are like me and are so desperate to achieve your dream, may also struggle with wanting to devote every bit of free time toward it to achieve it. Something that has starting helping me is trying to schedule some time to be away from it.

What I have started doing is I made a list on a white board that I refer to every morning, titled “Things to do to make today a success”. Pretty specific right? I write one to four things that I want to have done by that day, and I plan these things out at the beginning of the week. For example practicing guitar for and hour might be one, second thing might be to upload a video for the channel, another on is to record something. Then when I finish these list of things  for the day, I am done. I allow myself to relax because I have done what I set out to do for the day. I even sometimes make one of the things on the list to relax!

It’s an amazing thing to have discovered that passion and to chase after it. It’s like no feeling I have ever felt before!  Remember, though, your happiness is the most important thing. I know the feeling of just wanting to achieve your dream so bad that you can taste it, but the in the ‘in the meantime’ is a part of the journey. Embrace the ‘meantime’, it’s a chapter in your story, and its a very important part. Don’t wish it away because when you do eventually make it, it will be that much more worth it.

We will get there some day. It may not be in the way we think, but if we do what makes us happy who cares? Don’t worry so much about the future. Embrace the in the ‘meantime’, and live in the moment a bit more.

The Dark Before The Dawn

(I just wanted to give fair warning that this weeks post is going to be dealing with some heavier stuff. Mostly pertaining to depression and suicide. If this makes you uncomfortable you may want to skip this one and I will have something a little more uplifting next week.)

I am going to start off by saying that I am no expert. I don’t have a degree in psychology and hardly know the first thing about the human mind. However, I am a person who has struggled with depression and suicide.

A few months ago I started following a YouTube personality by the name of Markiplier. For thous who may not be familiar with him, he is video game commentator and sketch comedian. A couple of years ago he started an unofficial partnership with a group of other online entertainers that go by the name Cyndago which seemed very beneficial to them both. They worked closely with each other and became fast friends. Not to mention how many more people they were able to effect through this partnership.

A little over a week ago, one of the co-founders of Cyndago, Daniel Kyre, died after an attempted suicide. This seemingly came out of no where and hit everyone involved very hard. Understandably they have all needed to step back from work to grieve over the loss. The group Cyndago has recently come to the decision that it would be best to disband as a group and go their separate ways after the loss.

Suicide and self harm is something that far to many people suffer with these days, including myself.

I grew up in an abusive household. My Dad was a very controlling a manipulative man who was great at making you feeling horrible if you didn’t do what he wanted you too. Because of his disposition to this, he and my Mom fought constantly. The only way I knew how to cope with it as a kid was self harm. I didn’t understand what I was doing at the time when I hit myself, but I knew was that I wanted to redirect the pain that I felt inside to something more tangible like a bruise or a cut. When I was about thirteen I was diagnosed with depression. This wasn’t surprising considering it ran in the family. My older sister and Father were both effected by the illness. Like them I had to take daily medications for it. The medication helped but it never really went away.

Eventually my parents split and a few years later my Mom got remarried to man who was just as abusive but more direct about it. He hated me and I hated him and it was no secret. He never hit me, but he was never above pointing out my flaws and name calling. He didn’t understand me nor did he want me in his house, so one day I obliged him and walked out the door.

There was a family who was kind enough to take me in and help me through the rest of high school, but thous where some of the darkest months of my life. I felt so alone and scared during that time and I didn’t know what to do. The family that I was staying with meant well, but they weren’t home. They wanted to help but didn’t understand what I was going through. That I had lost everything I was familiar with and knew, and was scared. So I went back to the one method that I was familiar with to cope, self harm. I broke the blade off of a razor and started cutting. It provided temporary relief to manifest the pain physically that I felt inside, but in the long term it was just perpetuating the problem. Somewhere I knew this and was trying to build up the courage to a more permanent solution, suicide.

I kept telling myself that I might do it that night or the next night. Then one night I thought of just ripping of the ‘band-aid’ and doing it. Then a thought raced across my mind. What would happen to my sisters if I did this?  How would they feel about this? How would they cope? What example would I be setting for my seven year old sister? How would the family I am staying with deal with it? Or my Mother and Dad? My Grandparents? My aunts and uncles, my friends, my co-workers, my peers, my neighbors? How would they cope with someone they know and love killing them self?

Then another thought chased through my mind. What would have happened to me? I love music, if I did this I would never hear another note of a beautiful piano melody or the strum of a guitar ever again. I would never get to find out the ending of my own story, were all of this would end up. I may escape the pain, but what would I be giving up?

After this revelation I sat on my bed and just cried. I mean balled. The next day I got help. I started going to a counselor and being more open about my feeling with thous around me.

If you are out there right now, reading this, and are struggling with suicide or depression or self harm, know that I am so sorry. I am sorry for the demons that you are facing. I am so sorry that right now, every day you are finding it hard to wake up, just to deal with all of it again. It is hard and it feels like it will never end. It feels like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. That is a valid feeling. It is ok to feel that way. Life is hard and some days it feels like it will find every way to screw you over.

Know that it will pass. You will get through this. You are stronger than it. There are people who love you, friends, family, and neighbors. They want to help, but they need to know what is going on. This monster that you are battling right now is going to lie to you and tell you that no one cares. That no one will miss you. It’s full of shit. I know it’s hard, but don’t listen to it. If you really need it confirmed to you if your friend would miss you, ask them. I guarantee they would. A year after my decision to keep my life, the topic of suicide happened to get brought up with my older sister. I had mentioned the choice I faced and she started crying. I was little confused because I had thought she knew about my struggle, but I had never told her about that night. She was horrified that was something that I even faced.

You don’t know how many people who you would effect and how if you were to make that choice. You have every right to make your own choice about your own life, but know that suicide will not only effect you, but everyone around you. There are many people you effect everyday.

If I may answer one question you may be asking “What’s the point?”. The point is, your a life. You are a sentient being. Not a tree or a blade of grass but a human life. You are blessed with higher thinking, and story to tell. A story of great highs and great lows, of victories and defeats, of love and of success. Right now you may be at a low point or a defeat, but a victory will be just around the corner. A success will come. An opportunity will arise. I won’t lie to you, until then it will be hard as shit. You will have to make that daily decision to keep going, but it will be so worth it. You will arrive one day. You will make it to the top of this treacherous mountain. In the mean time take the small victories, like just getting up for another day, and look for support in thous around you because you can’t do this by yourself. You need the help of others, of loved ones, and they want to help you. They believe in you, and I believe in you.

It is ok to be afraid. Its ok to frustrated and angry with circumstance. You are human and you are ment to feel emotion, but it doesn’t need to control you. If you feel that you just need to cry then find a safe place to do so and cry it out. If you need to yell and punch things, find your sister’s favorite pillow and beat the shit out of it. The point is don’t suppress your emotion, get it out. Let your body have the time to get out all of its worry and anger. Then when it is done you can move on.

Please remember that you will get through this. This season will end. There will be something better after this. In the mean time please, please communicate your feelings to loved ones. They want to help. If you may be having thoughts of suicide right now and need to imminently talk to someone please call 1 (800) 273-8255. They will connect you to a trained counselor who is not trying to sell you anything, they just want to help. Suicide doesn’t need to be the final option anymore. You are worth so much more, and you have a story to tell that many people want to hear, including me.

Musicians are the Worst Employees

Every time I have the pleasure of speaking to another musician, artist, or entertainer, I have come across a common theme. Food service. I know that this is not true for every case, but if anything it is consistent. I have always thought that it was odd, but as I gave it some thought, it makes perfect sense.

Being a person has been far more intimate with the industry then I care to admit, so many creative people being former food service is kinda nice. If anything at least I am in good company. The reason I feel that if you ask any musician about their resume, that they will probably mention food service at some point is because, musicians are terrible employees. There are always positions in food service, partly because other musicians got fed up with thouse positions!

There are many reasons for that, but the biggest one I feel is that we don’t give a fuck!

Not giving a fuck about a cruddy food service position? Revolutionary Remy! How did you come to that conclusion?!

Look, I know that no one goes into a lower tier food service position or retail position, because they love it. You do it because you have to pay the bills. That is completely understandable, considering that is exactly what I am doing right now. The thing is though I was taught growing up to put my best towards everything I do, especially work. Which is exactly what I did and it got me to running a restaurant. Not to blow my own horn but I was a fantastic employee. I did everything I was supposed to do and then some. I never talked back to the boss, I always made sure everything was spotless, and I had some of the best ticket times in comparison to other Gymland locations.

Then, lets call it the “awakening”, happened. The “awakening” being when I was suspended from work for a ridiculous reason, and rediscovered my life’s purpose to be a musician. When I had this realization I had something new, a goal. This changed my life in many ways. One of them being when I got back to my position of power after the suspension, you better believe I didn’t give a damn about Gymalnd anymore.

Though with that you could make the argument that I was just fed up with Gymland and didn’t want to be there anymore. You’d be right! There is more to it though. Even in my new position, which is entirely different from what I was doing before. I am now a delivery driver and am hardly even in the restaurant. I still can’t say I care even the slightest.

The reason being is now I have a higher goal. Something outside of work to pursue. A dream to chase. After that there ain’t much room left for customer service ideals. Like I said earlier no one goes into the lower positions because they want to. It’s to make money, but it’s a slippery slope. You go there to make money, and then eventually you may get a pay raise, or a promotion. Then you have that much more intensive to stay. Because you put in the effort and invested your time into this position you are starting to establish yourself in that company. You have no reason to go anywhere else. Then time starts to slip by and you have been there fifteen years. You may try to get another job but all your experience is in that one area.  It is at that point you realize, they got ya.

I am not saying this is the end of the world, and some people do just want to work for a company and make a living that way. Which is fine! I couldn’t do it, but that just means its not for me.

For my fellow musicians, we have different priorities. If we could just live off playing music we would, but for most of us that is not possible. We need to pay our bills somehow, but that doesn’t mean we are going to put much energy towards a particular pleb position.

So if you are an employer out there, you have been warned. If you higher a musician or artist for a low paying job, expect them to be out the door in a couple of months.

The Grass is Always Greener

So the day has finally come! Yesterday I finished my final day at Gymland. I look forward to putting that painful chapter of my life behind me. Admittedly though, I have mixed feelings about it. Don’t get me wrong, I am over the freakin moon to be done with that particular cesspit, but it was the cesspit I knew and understood. I knew what I was getting into when I clocked in at the beginning of the day. Who to avoid eye contact with in order to avoid being given more paper work to do. What times I could sneak in a break between rushes at the restaurant. I became familiar with it and how it acts.

That is sort of what food service in general has become to me as well. I have been taking orders from customers and making food for about six years at this point. Over the course of those six years I made it my own. I have learned the terminology, the people and personas that come with them, and all the right things to say to customers. I have become the ideal employee for any restaurant in any environment. The problem is this is not where my heart is. I have met people who love the food industry and don’t mind working for a corporation. I have even seen people prosper in such environments, but I am simply not one of them.

In honesty, some days I wish I was. It would certainly be much easier for me, considering my extensive training in the area. I have even been told by a boss that if I wanted too, I could probably make it to being a General Manager of a facility in just a couple of years. If I got lucky and went back to college, I could probably make it as a district manager within five years. That’s an enticing offer that I have certainly considered. The problem with all of that is I just can’t put myself behind the job like I can being a musician.

I have always struggled with my desires to play music professionally. Such creativity was never fully encouraged in my household. ‘Playing music and writing is all well and good, as a hobby, but you better make sure you figure out an actual profession to pay the bills.’ This was the general consensus in my home regarding such passions. It was never completely discouraged, you just need to be “real” about it. To always have your “back-up” ready, a.k.a. your “real” job to pay the bills.

This is a real defeatist attitude. That the only “real” professions are ones that can be measured out and written down. The ones that you go to college for x amount of years or joining in a corporation are the only “real” professions that can be depended on. Admittedly some of that is true. You can be given an estimate on how much you will earn if you stay with a company for so many years. You could also be told how much you can earn with a certain type of degree after you graduate. The question is, where did those nice, predictable jobs come from? From other nice an’ measurable job positions? Did two ideal positions get together one night, and after nine months, make a nice little corporate house hold? No. It came from someone, or a group of people, taking a risk. That there was either a need or a dream that needed to be fulfilled, and they did it. I am not going to sit here and pretend that I understand the complexity there is behind corporations and business as a whole, but what I do know is that it all started with a dream. Even the almighty Gymland started with a handful of fat guys wanting to curl something other than a twinky.

I can say all of this now. I can say that I have got corporate and business all figured out and convince myself that I am just trying to give you all the truth behind it all. But in truth, I have no idea what I am doing. Not to mention I am scared out of my mind. With leaving my old position, means leaving all that I know behind. I am leaving it all behind for something that I keep telling myself will be better. That it will be all okay now that I am following my dreams and telling the haters to suck it. But doubt does still regularly try to creep in and consume me. Making me feel like I am making the biggest mistake of my life by putting all my effort into my passions.

There is a story in the bible that talks about how the Israelite’s were once, long ago, slaves to the Egyptians for hundreds of years. That everyday the Israelite’s were enslaved they would cry out to God to save them. Eventually he sent a guy named Moses to free them and lead them away from their bondage to a land of ‘milk and honey’, Jerusalem. He was successful in liberating them, but before they could reach Jerusalem they had to cross a massive dessert.  During that long journey, you could imagine they started having doubts that this whole things was actually going to happen. Some even started begging Moses to let them go back Egypt to be slaves. Enslavement was the only thing they knew and they wanted something that they were at least familiar with. Land of milk and honey is great wish but when it involves long days of walking in blistering heat and long sleepless nights, it turns into a risk that not all of them wanted to take. All they heard were promises but saw nothing but sand. After about forty years of grueling work, the Israelite’s finally made it to the promised land.

Whether you believe this actually happened, or if God is real, is irrelevant. This is still a great example of how that whenever we undergo a big change that is still under progress, we start to doubt. When we start letting doubt take control, we start to look at how things were and reconsider how bad it may have really been.

Was working food service really that bad? At least I had a steady paycheck. Even if felt like I was living a lie.

Was being unhealthy really that bad? At least I was comfortable. Even if the doctor said I may develop Diabetes.

Was working sixty hour weeks really that bad? At least I had my mind occupied. Even if I never got to see my family.

Was living with an abusive girlfriend really that bad? At least I wasn’t alone. Even if she hit me.

Was being a slave really that bad? At least it was predictable. Even if I had no free will.

Yes, yes it was.

I am terrified right now. There are days when I wake up in the middle of the night, in a cold sweat wondering how I am going to pull it off. I am cutting my paycheck in half and going full tilt into becoming an artist. I have no idea what I am doing. I am not even that great of a musician or a writer. All I can do is learn and hope. Learn my craft to the best of my ability, and hope that people will find this somewhere and someday join me in my fight. Until then I will keep honing my skills as a musician and writer. When I reach the other side of this journey, I will look back and see their grass wasn’t so green after all.

When in Reality…

I have had quite a few things and people influence me to become who I am today. Which, of course, is true for all of us! Humans are curious creatures that are always looking to the world around them for inspiration, and rarely are we ever are just influenced by one thing. Take for example when you are a child, your greatest influence is probably your parents. They are your gate keepers to the world of right and wrong and you are not about to question them. Not to mention that they shape and mold who you become. Example being if you are raised in a Circus, chances are you are going to be a lion juggler (you know, if it’s any circus worth their merit).

Of course as we get older and we start our journey in this world, we discover other people and media to identify with and attach too outside of our home. This is what really starts to form who you are and who you will become.

I know for me my biggest influences came from friends and music. Alot of these were positive influences, and some not so much. For example, friends in high school asking me if I want to get in on selling cigarettes on campus, probably not the best influences ever!

Just like how some negative influences can suck you dry, positive stay with you and invigorate you. Like I mentioned before, my first real exposure to music was Nirvana, and because of that they greatly influenced my taste. I will always remember the first time I heard ‘Smell’s like Teen Spirit’ on tv after Law and Order (Did I mention I was a weird kid?). The excited feeling of something new, and the desire for more like it, and the gradual rise to my decision to become a musician.

When we finally find that thing or person that inspires us, it is the greatest feeling in the world. Because you have finally found your muse. Something to aim for and to be, but because of this we have a habit of placing them on a pedestal. Often forgetting that they are human too. They sometimes feel insecure about things, feel worry, sometimes don’t sleep well at night. Most of all get burnt out because fans and the world demand so much from them.

A few years ago I discovered a band that quickly became my greatest influence. They had the charisma, the musical skill, and label to make them complete bad-asses in my eyes. As time goes on, though, drama is sure to follow. This band announced, seemingly out of no where, that they have had enough of their label and broke their contract to go independent. Which is great! More creative freedom and independence! Little did they mention probably how hard that was for them. They lost their safety net and were on their own in a world that is known for being merciless, and as time went on cracks started to show. One particular member started to feel that he just had to keep pumping out something otherwise they would disappoint the fans. Even getting to a certain point to think of quitting.

When I found this out I was heart broken. I realized that I was among thous fans who were demanding so much from them, giving nothing in return. I had forgotten they were too, human. Just like I was. That they were fighting to keep afloat in this world, just like I was.

We fans love to receive and often forget to give back. The being said, there is nothing wrong with enjoying music or media that someone has made. It is a job that they love have chosen to take up for you enjoy the fruits of their labor! It’s a seemingly win win situation, but we do forget sometimes they they are human too. Humans that need breaks and coffee just like we do. Though we like to pretend our influences are gods, the exact opposite is true. They make mistakes and are learning just as much as you and I are.

Bringing your idol back down to your level actually isn’t such a bad thing either. It’s a reminder that they have the same struggles that you and I do. Just remember, like how you and I need some loved heaped on us to get through a day, so do they.

It’s Nice Outside

Life seems to be a constant struggle to maintain balance on some imaginary tight-rope. Not only trying to maintain balance but juggling different objects, on a unicycle, that’s on fire. Fun to see at the circus but a bitch to do in real life.  Job, kids, family, money, and trying to throw some free time into that mix some where. Though through practice we some how manage to make it work everyday. We have even become pretty good at the act at this point. Which is not necessarily a good or a bad thing, it is just how our world is these days.

Especially with how small it has become through media and social media. We are always connected and always communicating. Which is an amazing thing! It’s because of it that things such as blogs can exist! You also can’t help but for it to get a little draining too. While technology is a huge blessing, it can also quickly become our greatest downfall.

I have always been a person that has had a hard time sitting still for a long period of time. I have always felt that if I am not constantly doing something productive or trying to overcome a new challenge, that I am wasting time. Because of this I have been feeling pretty overwhelmed with all that has been going on. From trying to maintain sanity at work, to building a YouTube channel, and building my skills as a musician, it can turn into a serious plateful. Especially for someone like me that has a hard time letting a challenge sit unattended.

Today I had a good reminder. To just take a second to catch your breath and relax. To unplug from the world for a bit and just do what recharges you. It doesn’t mean that you are thankful for a new job or new opportunities and it doesn’t mean that you are lazy. It simply means you are human and need to recharge. For me that often involves the outdoors and being with nature for a bit. So I stopped what I was doing and looked outside and said “It’s nice out today”. I put on some shoes and went for a brief walk. Then after about half an hour went back to what I was doing.

Going on a walk may not be the answer for everyone. Maybe listening to some music, reading a good book, or just simply being still may do it. It’t not that you need to do it all day long either. Just taking a step back even for just half an hour or so can be enough put things back into perspective. The important thing to remember is that though we may work with technology all day long, but we ourselves are not machines and need a break. There is nothing wrong with that.

So I encourage every one who is reading this to maybe take some time today to look outside, and realize that it’s a nice day outside.

No one ever said it would be easy

The past couple of weeks have been an entertaining to say the least. Filled with just enough drama to remind ya of the good old days of high school. You know, the good old days! The good old days of when you just finished that project that you spent days slaving over, knowing that it will be worth it because its going to allow you to ace that class (especially because you put all of those big quotes from famous dead people in your power-point). However when you wake up the next morning, a bead of cold sweat falls on your brow when you realize that you completely forgot your English four book report on ‘The wrathful Fahrenheit of 1984’ That is due that very morning! Its ok though because Mrs. Burnsteen is cool and will probably give you till tomorrow morning to turn it in. Which is all well and good except that you have a party tonight with Megan and she will be so pissed if your not there! Ah yes . . . who couldn’t miss those days? Not only the drama but also how you felt that it would all be worth it in the end because you are going to go to college and get that great job.

At least I thought that I had a plan and knew all of what to do. That if I study this for this long, and take these classes in this order, that it will all just click into place like some sort of massive jigsaw puzzle. Of course that is not true. There is nothing that you can really do in school to be prepared for the actual world. You can have the highest honors in college and get straight A’s in all your industrial design classes, made the best projects, aced every test, but once you leave that campus there is no telling where you will end up. There are no guarantees that you will get that great job that you have been studding for since high school. Honestly it seems that most people don’t, at least right out the gate. The great ‘American Dream’ of going from high school on to college, onto that great job, onto starting that ideal family with a wife and 2.5 kids is flawed. I think a lot of us know this at this point, but if we do why do we keep comparing ourselves to it?

I suppose the point I am trying to make here is that I was kinda hopping that things would just fall into place. I had the plan that I would work and save money. Then use said money to support myself and my study of music. After studying music for a while and ‘mastering’ it, I could start teaching it. That way I could still work with music, which of course is my passion, and get paid for it. Maybe play a few gigs on the side and maybe even get discovered.

This was my thought process at least. Simple, straight forward, easy, stupid proof right? Of course not.

As everyone on this little blue marble we call Earth knows, there is no such thing as simple, straight forward, or stupid proof. The best plans and even the best intentions get warped one way or another whether you like it or not.

As I have stated in the prior post to this one, my goal for this blog is to journal about my experience to peruse my dream to become a musician and an artist. There are of course questions that bubble to the surface. Many of them are fairly easy to spot out the gate. Such as music doesn’t pay a lot, how am I going to pay the bills? What will others think? What will my Mom think? How am I going to get the experience I need? Where do I even start? Most of these questions I don’t have answers to yet and that creates difficulty. Not to mention anxiety that would need to be over come due to completely shifting my focus away from what I have been doing for years. It doesn’t make it any easier but at least these are things that are expected to be encountered. The expected can be planned and maneuvered around. Take the ideal ‘American Dream’ that I was referring to earlier. You take these classes at this time and gather this amount of credits by this time you can graduate. Then get the good job that will set you up, because you worked hard through school and deserve it. You meet a challenge, form a plan, and over come. Life being the challenge, the plan being the ‘Dream’, and the overcome is succeeding at life. However what is life without a little kayos right?

What I am essentially doing is turning a new leaf, and in doing so it is often the beginning that is the hardest part. It starts with taking a long look in the mirror and discovering that you need to change. The hardest part is then acting on that. One needs to face their past before they can hope for a brighter future. There is no plan one can make for that.

For about two and a half weeks I was suspended from my full time job. The reason for my suspension is that I had an employee that was convinced that I was out to ‘get’ him and complained about me to the higher ups. My bosses were forced to do an investigation on me due to the complaint. Of course the investigation turned up with nothing because I am of course not out to ‘get’ this individual, when in reality I don’t think about him much at all. I was ultimately allowed to return to my position. Which is fantastic, but now I went two weeks with no pay and no compensation for the bogus suspension.

‘Well that sucks, but you have some money saved to keep you afloat right?’ You may be asking. Well . . . no. I was not wise in my savings in the slightest. I had to pay off people for the money I borrowed and proceeded to get things that in reality I didn’t really need at the time. The pay wasn’t much to began with and my spending wasn’t helping. Now the floor fell out from beneath me and I have no safety net. I can’t blame anyone else for that but myself in honesty. Now I have to leave my two room mates to pick up the pieces as far as the bills for the month and I am left feeling awful. It is a good lesson and certainly one I won’t forget soon but it does lead to strain at home.

As if on cue I then find out that I am going to have to get my wisdom teeth pulled out as soon as possible otherwise I could develop a terrible bacterial infection that would destroy my molars. Truthfully I should have had them removed when I was a teenager but there just never seemed to be the money or time to do so. Well here are the repercussions of that particular decision. Thankfully I have decent insurance but it still won’t cover the entire procedure and I would still have to pay some money up front on the day of the surgery. Money that I don’t have. Thankfully though I have some friends that were willing to throw some money in the ‘Remy doesn’t want to lose all of his teeth’ fund.

I have good friends to help me through these difficult situations but stress and anxiety can’t be helped but to creep in to cause doubt and fear. Being a victim of depression, anxiety has been something that I have always wrestled with. Sometimes it feels like a loosing battle and when everything is up in the air the way it is, It just makes it worse.

The thing is with this profession that I have fallen in love with is that there is no set template to follow. I can’t go to college for X amount of years to obtain X degree and get a great job afterwords to obtain lots of money and proceed to just generally win at life because of it. Even for those that do have a ‘template’ it is not easy either. To pursue anything that is worth fighting for there is going to be sweat and tears shed for it (Hopefully not blood, if so I would ask you to possibly re-evaluate your life’s calling). Its also going to take time. More than likely months and years worth of hard work before it probably turns into much of anything.

Also life is going to throw everything at you. The world doesn’t owe anyone anything and it will not pull any punches, and there is no way to plan around it. All it does, though, is it make it that much more worth it in the end. It will just make the victory that much more sweet when it is achieved. I am saying this as someone who is going through it right now. It sucks. Its hard. Sometimes it is difficult to sleep at night because I worry about how to pay for everything and how I am going to accomplish this seemingly impossible goal.

I KNOW one thing though, it will be worth it. The wounds will heal and the tears will dry and I will, we will, be on the top of this mountain some day, looking down at the long winding trail that we traveled. The trail that was full of jagged rocks that cut us and dangerous animals that sought us harm, and smile when we remember that it is all behind us.

Until that day, I fight. I stumble. I learn. I grow. I get stronger. I will succeed