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)

The Time Machine

So, I’ve been into this whole ‘going healthy’ thing for a while now. You could maybe blame that on me once being approximately eighty pounds over weight, or the fact that I used to work at a gym, either way I’ve drunk the kool-aid and am in deep.

As time went on since my ‘large and in charge days’, I fell in love with running. Weird right? The fat kid falling in love with running. The same fat kid who swore that he would only run if there was a zombie chasing after them. Regardless, it has turned into my favorite times of the week. It clears my head and works up a good ‘honest’ sweat.

Like most people who work out, I also listen to music. If anything to keep me going and stay in the rhythm of things. Not to mention, If you couldn’t tell by this point, I kinda have a huge crush on music. Don’t tell her.

Just before I went for my last run, I was flipping through the music on my phone to see what sounded appealing. As I did, I came across a name in my artists that I hadn’t heard in a long time, Flyleaf. Thought ‘why not’ and started jamming.

Listening to these old songs, some of which I hadn’t listened to since high school, certainly brought a smile to my face. Like visiting an old friend that you haven’t seen in years, flipping through an old photo book together.

Nostalgia washed over me, then as songs progressed and changed, so did my emotions. Going from joy, to reluctance, happy, to sad and the pattern continued till I found myself sitting on the side of the road weeping. “What the hell?” I found myself asking. “Its only a few songs, why am I feeling this way?”.

It then it dawned on me. The last time I had even heard some of these old songs was during one of the hardest times of my life.

When I was about sixteen, my mom had gotten re-married. Re-married to a man who I didn’t care much for, nor did he for me. A few days after the marriage ceremony we all moved to his house in the country, thus starting a years’ worth of disputes and anger.

During my stay there, he and I were always in some sort of argument or disagreement, and with every passing day it got worse. Till eventually one day, on way walk home from school, I just froze in place. I couldn’t even bring myself to take another step forward. To take another step forward felt like taking another step towards death.

I took a deep breath and decided to, instead, take a detour. Specifically to the small lake that was on the property, where I often went to clear my head. On my way there thoughts of ‘why‘ started washing over me. I tried to turn up the music in my headphones to drown out the voices, but I couldn’t help but hearing:

Why was this my reality? What did I do to deserve this? Why do I have to face this hell everyday?

I hardly even made it to the lake side before shear anger and frustration washed over me. My thoughts turned into yelling. Which then gave way to blind rage. I shed the backpack I was carrying and chucked it half way across the lake side. In the process screaming at the top of my lungs:

“Why am I condemned to face this hell everyday? What would you have me do God?”

Then the music, that I had up till that point been ignoring, sounded over the kayos and said:

I want you to Arise

It was at that moment I collapsed under my own weight and shed tears like I had never before. Just like I was on the side of the road the other day. Despite years of difference, experience, and growth, I had been taken back to that exact moment in time. I felt like a vulnerable, angry, and confused teenager once again.

It’s funny how that happens isn’t it? Music, or anything really, can act as this sort of trigger that just takes you back years, decades even. To a you that, if you met today, would feel like a total stranger. This isn’t by any means a bad thing either. Some times its exactly what we need.

Of course most memories are not always so dramatic, and the trigger can be in the shape of anything. A book that your mom may have read to you as a kid, the smell of baking bread, or even the sound of a bird chirping. Anything can magically take you back in time.

Though I had a wave of emotions wash over me during that run, that was all they were, just emotions. It was something that had taken me back to a difficult time my life, but made me look at how far I have come. How far I had ‘arisen’.

That day by the lake stopped me were I stood to tell me something, to arise, and that run stopped me in the same way, to tell me to keep going.

It’s one of the reasons I am so madly in love with music. Sometimes it forces you out of your routine, tackles you if necessary, to deliver an important message. A message that is forever book marked in your brain. Every time I have since listened to that song, I may initially get sad, but the sorrow turns to joy when I realize that I have arisen and I continue to.

(Picture 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!

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.

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