Tag Archives: Guitar

When I Think About Heaven

I think about Heaven a lot. The fact of the matter is, I am obsessed with getting there. I think it would be accurate to say that more than anything, I want to just be with Jesus. It’s also a simple fact that I like to think about the things I will do in Heaven, and the people I would like to meet. In particular, I like to think about what I call The Library of Everything. I am almost painfully curious, and if I had infinite time and money, I would go back to school and just learn about stuff.

Jesus said to inherit the Kingdom of Heaven, I have to be like a child. I think I’ve got that partly figured out in that the questions “Why” and “How” are on rapid fire in my head. I won’t spend all my eternity in the Library of Everything, but I will spend a lot of it there. Obviously I won’t be alone in there. I imagine the Library of Everything is enormous. It’s easy to find what one wants in there, and there’s a cafe where one can sit, drink coffee, and read. I imagine wandering around looking for things that sound interesting, and talking to saints who are interested in the same things, or who will help me find what I’m looking for. Probably, I’ll end up talking to the saints more than reading.

I’m a songwriter. I play guitar, but I’m not the best at it, and I sing, and I’m good, but there are certainly people in the universe who are better singers than me. I want to play the drums. I want to spend a lot of eternity in the Library of Everything, and I want to join a worship band, and bang on the drums like I’m crazy. I find myself in restaurants or at home or wherever tapping out 4/4 or 6/8 time because I have to wait, or because the song that happens to be playing is catchy, or for no reason at all. I imagine Heaven, or at least parts of it are LOUD. I imagine there’s always music playing somewhere. Angels are always singing; someone is always wailing on a guitar or banging on the drums; someone is always making beautiful melodies and harmonies on a piano or violin. When someone gets tired, someone else takes up their sticks, or pick, or whatever.

There’s a third place I like to think about when I think about Heaven. It’s an empty field with trees off in the distance. It’s a hill, and I like to think of myself and Jesus lying on the hill, and sometimes we talk, and sometimes we don’t. At the bottom of the hill there’s a lake, and sometimes we just lay there and listen to the water. Sometimes I like to read, and I imagine us there, and I imagine that I’m reading to Him; usually Lord of the Rings since I’ve just started Return of the King. I especially like to think about this place.

The funny thing is that I have absolutely no idea what to expect when I get Home. Maybe there won’t be a library. Maybe I won’t be a drummer. I do know that whatever there is when I get there, it will be better than anything I can imagine, and I have a darn good imagination.

Free Will, God’s Plan, Faith And Unbelief

I read something interesting for class the other day. A guy named Gerald Sittser said–not a direct quote–that if we seek God’s kingdom first, then our choices become his will for us. I’m not sure how I feel about that. It feels too simple to me. I tend to think that God is really complicated. Maybe complicated isn’t the right way to describe him. In some ways he’s no more complicated than any average person. Maybe it’s more that what he does and controls is complicated. In fact, he’s more one-track-minded than most people. He’s not emotionally volatile for one thing, and he never sways from his plan for the Universe.

People tend to fall off the wagon. A lot of us have no idea what we want to do with our lives or what we’re supposed to be doing. It seems to me that if God has a grand, master plan, and if we’re part of that plan, then wouldn’t it follow that he would want us to do certain things? A lot of people talk about God’s calling; what God calls them to do. How does that relate to free choice? Obviously people can ignore God’s calling, but I think it tends not to end well–at least not as well as it otherwise would. This is coming from personal experience.

Is there a best way to go? Sittser used the analogy of a road trip. He and a friend had a set destination and a date they had to get there. They planned their road trip around these. They decided not to follow any highways if possible, and instead, meandered along seemingly random back roads. Is this like how we choose what to do with our lives? He said that we can see how God had a plan for us in what we chose if we look at it in retrospect. Is this just conjecture, or is this God’s way of showing someone how they’ve progressed towards their destination?

I believe that I was destined to be a Christian and maybe I was destined to be a musician, but for a long time I chose not to be. For a long time when I was younger I decided that while I believed in God, I didn’t believe in Christianity, partly because I didn’t understand it. However, I believe that God made me so that I would need him, emotionally, among other reasons.

I do think that people are a product of their environment, upbringing, etc, but I also believe that God makes people in specific ways, and I think he makes people for other people. I also think that people can choose to be whoever they want to be. This is just an idea I have, but I think God presents us with choices throughout our lives and I think he probably wants us to choose certain things, but he also gives us the option not to. Furthermore, I think there are certain choices we make that God probably doesn’t care much about either way–like if we want chocolate or coffee flavored ice cream.

I was thinking about my friends last night. Many of them don’t believe in God partly because they don’t see any reason to; they haven’t seen any evidence that he even exists. I wonder if they think I’m crazy. I think I always believed in God; at least I’ve always believed that he exists. I’m not sure why. I guess because I was able to imagine it. For a while it didn’t really matter that much. He was just there. I guess it might have something to do with the fact that prayer saved my life when I was a baby… Which is a long story for another time.

The point is, I’ve always felt like he’s just been around. I can’t even understand not having that feeling. I know I choose to believe because I think I have good reason to. Can someone choose to believe without thinking they have good reason to? Isn’t that kind of the point of faith? If someone doesn’t have faith in God, what do they have faith in? Not believing in God sounds as crazy to me as believing probably sounds to my friends.

A large part of the reason I believe in free will is because some people don’t believe in God, but many people change. I don’t think God would intentionally create people who don’t believe in him. I’ll say it here because very few people I actually know read my blog, but I’m closeted universalist. I believe that Jesus died to redeem everyone. My belief is that at the second coming, everyone will be rejoined in the same place and we will all finally be on the same page. I don’t like talking about hell, but I do think that nonbelievers and really terrible people spend different amounts of time there for different reasons. This is why I desperately want my friends to be saved.

Would I give up free will to make this happen? Not a chance. That doesn’t make much sense, does it? I think God gave us free will for that reason, though. I think he wants us choose to believe in him. Are some of us destined to? I don’t know. Maybe. I think actually, some of us are made in such a way that it’s easier for us to believe. God gave me a crazy imagination, which made believing easier.

What about when it comes to music? Was I destined to be a musician? I’ve always loved it. There’s always been music in my life. When I was 14 I came to the realization that my friends were all good at something, and I was okay at writing poetry, but I didn’t think that counted. I told my dad that I wanted to learn to play guitar, but I didn’t think I could because of my disability (I can’t turn my hands over). He told me not to worry about it and took me to guitar center. It turns out I can play guitar upside down. Now I want music to be my career, partly because it’s wicked fun, and partly because I can use it for God’s glory. Was this all part of the plan? When I first started playing guitar I wasn’t Christian, and I intended to play in a punk-rock band. When I became Christian I was conveniently getting good at songwriting.

Something we talked about in one of my classes is that maybe God has an overall plan for humanity but not necessarily for every individual. At first I kind of liked the idea, but now I don’t think I do. I think God definitely had a plan for people like Martin Luther King Jr. or Nelson Mandela. The only way I can see free will and God’s plan working together is that he gives us the option not to operate according to plan. It’s sounds sort of weird to me, but then I think I know what God’s plan is for me, and I like it.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Faith, Doubt, Patience And Getting Famous

I wonder what it’s like to be the friends and family of U2 or Pearl Jam or Paul McCartney. I wonder what it was like growing up with them, having no idea they would become huge, international rock stars. I wonder if there were doubters. I wonder how their parents felt about the fact that they spent hours on end writing songs and playing guitar in their basements instead of doing homework. I wonder how they feel now.

I know there are doubters among my friends and family and acquaintances. I won’t say who they are. It’s annoying to me that people ask, “well, do you know what you would do if music doesn’t work out?” It’s just their way of saying, “You’re destined to fail. You need a backup plan.” Maybe I’m crazy, but there isn’t a doubt in my mind that I’ll make it. I don’t care about being famous. I just don’t want to have a day job. More importantly, though, I want to dedicate my life to music because it’s my most meaningful way of dedicating my life to God. I know I’m a good songwriter, and I know that talent came from him. I can’t do anything else because I feel like I would be wasting that talent.

Furthermore, I’ve already put so much time, money, effort and prayer into this dream of mine. I feel that, as a Christian songwriter, I have an obligation to spread a message. A week ago I was thinking; why did God make us in the first place? It’s not a thought that had ever really struck me. It had crossed my mind before, but I had never really thought about it. The conclusion that I came to after some reading and thinking was that God made us because he loves us. Before we were made we were loved. Furthermore, God is good, so we are good and the world is good because he made all that exists. I feel obligated to share that message LOUDLY.

Admittedly, I do want music to work out for selfish reasons. I don’t want to sit behind a computer for several hours a day researching or editing articles or whatever it is most English majors end up doing. I don’t want to teach either. I definitely don’t want to teach. All of it sounds boring, tedious and unfulfilling. I get so much joy and fulfillment from performing and writing songs, partly because it’s fun, and partly because I know people are hearing what I really want them to hear.

Sometimes trying to get gigs and only getting to play two songs at church open mics or tiny restaurants is frustrating, but I know it really is all worth it because it’s better than nothing, and will amount to something eventually. I do believe that God will open doors for me, like he already has, and this project will go somewhere. I have found that I get in my own way sometimes. It’s easy to forget that it’s all for his glory and not mine. I get a giant ego trip from applause and compliments after my sets, and I have to be careful of that. I’m not too worried, though. Doubters can be frustrating, but I know this is going in the right direction. I just have to be patient. That’s something I have trouble with sometimes. I’ll get to where I need to be eventually. I’m just a passenger on this crazy road trip anyway.

The Latest Version of “Passenger”

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Learn To Fly (Demo)

Hello all you readers of the Flying Guinea Pig! 🙂

I thought I’d share a new tune with you guys. It’s probably a few weeks old at this point, but I’ve just got it up on the internet. I recorded it on my phone yesterday. It’s not going on my new album, so I thought I’d make a demo to share. I’ll probably make a demo of “Shadow” today as well. Believe it or not, the quality isn’t that bad.

It’s a bit hard to hear, so here are the lyrics. They’re also posted right on my Sound Cloud.

I will follow the setting sun
‘Cause it might just lead me to you
I don’t know your name and I’ve never seen your face
But I believe that we’re bound to collide
We’re going ’round in circles chasing the stars
And star crossed lovers always meet some time
You might be far away, and this could take a while
But we got time and love never forgets

There is someone smiling at the center of my sun
And there will be a day when the 2 of us are 1
And if there’s something worth waiting for it’s worth waiting for love
I would learn to fly for you

I sing like a bird in my childish way
But no one seems to mind so I sing louder
And late at night it’s just me and my guitar
And I’m waiting for someone to sing the harmony
When I go to sleep I’ll dream of crazy things
I’ll dream it’s the end of the world
But maybe the end could be a new beginning
And the picture will be brighter than before

chorus

I’m am waiting, waiting for you
‘Cause when we find the right time and place
We’ll prove that love is true
But I’m not waiting, waiting for you
‘Cause life goes on without us
If we’re not going too

Chorus

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly! 🙂

Fear Of Failure

Failure is a very scary thing– not just failing in itself, but the prospect of it; the possibility that in fact, I can fail. I keep telling myself over and over that I can make it as a musician or I can make it as a writer, but I know that there is a very large possibility that I won’t. I think it’s this fear, however that stops me from getting ahead. I played at the Sad Cafe the other night and a guy who was playing after me came over while I was getting coffee to say that he really liked my set. I thanked him and said that whenever I play somewhere I feel like there are at least a few people who are infinitely more talented. He said he had the same problem.

There’s a line in a Bright Eyes song that says “I could have been a famous singer if I had someone else’s voice.” I definitely feel like that sometimes. I often feel that although my music matches my lyrics and my voice very well, and although people really seem to like it, I feel that I could be a lot better at both. This summer I decided I’m going to teach myself “Resolution” by Andy Timmons (see “Sneaky-Sneaky”) to at least get better at the guitar part of it. There’s not much I can do about my voice.

Today I’m just going to fight down my fear, bite the bullet and do some research. I know of a couple places I can pester already, and I’m going to look for a few more. I’ll let you all know how it goes.

P.S. Please “Like” my facebook page https://www.facebook.com/KatieRoseCurtisMusic?fref=ts

Thanks! ❤

Today And Tonight

This morning I went to the studio to work on “Missing You.” I played djembe on this one, which was pretty cool. As of right now it has acoustic and lead guitar and percussion (djembe and shaker) on it. Next time we might actually finish it up depending on how long bass takes. I don’t think vocals will take too long unless I decide I want harmony.

Earlier this afternoon Ken’s friend called me to ask some questions about how long a set I could play, etc. He said he was going to shoot me an email with some more specific questions. I gave him the link to my blog and my soundcloud, so I guess he’s going to check that stuff out first and get back to me. I told him I could comfortably play an hour to an hour and a half set. That might actually be pushing it, but I can get a few more songs written between now and the date of the show. 🙂

Tonight is The Sad Cafe shindig. I’m planning on playing around 5 songs; 3 electric and 2 acoustic. It’s going to end on a super mellow note. All 5 are already recorded and are just waiting for their baby brothers and sisters to be done!

Here’s my set:

You Answered
Stuck In My Head
Nostalgia
Understand
Passenger

Learning A Lesson

This is a story I wrote for my Creative Writing class. I got an A- on it, so I thought I’d share. Enjoy! 🙂

Learning A Lesson

I have always loved music. When I was a little kid I listened to what my dad listened to, which was everything from Dizzy Gillespie to The Beatles, and when I was very young I took piano lessons. The only thing I remember about my teacher was that she chose what I would learn and I wasn’t allowed to play anything else. I quit when I was five. As I got older I would fantasize about playing in a rock band on stage and being famous. I thought about it a lot from the time was eight years old or so. I never really thought I would be able to make my dream a reality though, for a few reasons.
I was born with Muscular Dystrophy, which makes my muscles weaker than normal and prevents me from fully extending my arms and legs or turning my hands over. I knew that the proper way to play the guitar was to hold it under the neck and I simply would not be able to do that. A few years passed and I continued to fantasize about playing guitar, but I never brought it up to my parents. When I was ten I started listening to my own music. One of the first bands I ever listened to that my father had not introduced to me was Green Day. It was songs like “Haha You’re Dead” that got my friend Julia and me through middle school.
Freshman year finally rolled around and in December of 2007 my parents bought me Guitar Hero 3 for Christmas. Julia and I got completely hooked. I discovered that I could play the game guitar over the neck by resting my hand on top instead of pressing the buttons from below as one normally would. After that I questioned, “Could I do this with a real guitar?” I wanted to find out, so in April my parents bought me a black and white beginner’s guitar for my birthday and called Ken, who was Julia’s teacher at the time to set up lessons. I had to wait a few weeks to begin, so in the mean time I had Julia teach me to play “Brain Stew” by Green Day. I figured out how to play the power chords “overhand” and I practiced that song like my life depended on it.
On May 5th, 2008 I got out of school and nervously anticipated my first lesson. I seriously hoped this would not be like piano lessons had been. At four o’clock my mom and I arrived at the studio, which was behind Wendy’s in one of those buildings that have several business in them. It was comprised of a small waiting room and two other rooms that were used by Ken and Jamie for teaching.
A few minutes before a tall, muscular, young-looking man with short blond hair and blue eyes came out of the room on the right, accompanied by a boy who looked to be around my age; fourteen or fifteen.
“Boooo! See ya later, buddy!” said the man as the boy was leaving. He then introduced himself as Ken and after we shook hands and my mom signed some paperwork, officially became my teacher.
We went into the room on the left as it was bigger and easier to move around in and Ken got a blue, plastic folding chair from the corner and placed it a short distance across from me. The room was large but cluttered. There were music stands and guitars and amps as well as one or two drum sets in various places, lining the walls. It looked messy and musical and exciting and it made me feel at home, in some strange way.
“So, do you know anything about playing guitar,” asked Ken.
Without thinking I said, “Yes! I know how to play ‘Brain Stew’ by Green Day!”
“Great! I’ll get on the drums and let’s jam it!”
I was nervous, but I had obsessively been practicing the song, so I knew I could play it. Ken sat down at the drums, which were facing the wall and instructed me to play the chord progression a few times on my own before he jumped in with the drums. It was the actual drum part from the song! How cool was that! We played for perhaps two or three minutes then Ken said that this would be the last time around. I finished the progression and came out at exactly the right time.
“That was great,” he said encouragingly. “Can I see how you were doing it?”
I had been somewhat dreading that question. What would he say when he saw that I was playing upside down? Would he still be willing to teach me?
I started playing again and after a moment he said, “Wait. Is there any particular reason that you’re playing like that?” It was not the response I was expecting, but I explained that I could not turn my hands over and I just figured that I could learn to play “overhand” since it worked for Guitar Hero and for the Green Day song.
“Well, just humor me for a sec,” he said patiently. “Just try and if we can’t figure something out I’ll just teach you your way.”
I tried holding the guitar at various angles, but it either made it impossible to reach the end of the neck or to play without the guitar slipping, so finally we gave up and Ken agreed to teach me “my way.” In the time remaining he taught me to play a G, D, A and E chord and gave me a chart so I could practice at home. He had almost immediately adapted to playing “overhand.” I memorized the chord shapes quickly, but I could not switch between them quickly enough to play a progression. I vowed that I would be able to by the next lesson, but for now we were out of time.

Playing God

As a writer, I’m basically playing God. Spoiler Alert! My story starts out by me basically abusing one of my main characters. While I was writing about it, I felt awfully bad. I said to myself, “Self, this has to happen for the rest of the story to work out.” I wonder if this is how God feels when He lets bad things happen.

I’m a weirdo, so I read a bunch of stuff about the Biblical apocalypse online last night. People make it sound awfully scary. I guess it is sort of scary. I’ve had this weird interest in the end of the world lately. I guess it’s like being part of a story and wanting to know the end. Maybe knowing the end of a story before it happens isn’t such a good thing–unless you’re writing it, that is. Maybe knowing that you or your friend are going to die ahead of time isn’t such a good thing.

If you could know the time, place and cause of your death, would you want to? What if you spent the rest of your days trying to avoid it and in doing so, you made it happen? I don’t think I would want to know. At the same time though, if you knew, maybe you could bring yourself to peace with it and it wouldn’t be as bad or scary when it actually happened.

I’m a very present-oriented person. The past irritates me and the future scares me a little. I like to have a routine and I like my stuff the way it is. I don’t like change. When my mom said she was going to buy me an iPhone 5, I was thoroughly annoyed with her. I already had a working phone! I’ve since got used to it, though.

I do like learning new things, which is why I find photography fun. I need to get better at it though. Some of my pictures are blurry. I’ve been teaching myself a few new covers on guitar. I have a set list that’s comfortably 40 minutes long. If I practice a bunch I can probably play for 2 hours or so. I want to go work in the studio some more, but my friend has been ignoring his phone! I actually need to update the set list a bit. I’m going to do that now and then I’m going to write!