Tag Archives: Work

Almost The End

Yesterday was a good day. It was 70 degrees outside and sunny. I had half meant to do some homework yesterday, but it was too nice out, so I didn’t. I had gone for a walk and talked to the neighbors for a while since they were out, and I cut through their yard to get back to my house. Then I went inside to work on a song, but was drawn back outside by the weather and a need to void my bladder (I had to find my dad to help me with the restroom). When we were back inside he told me that he heard one of the neighbors playing an electric guitar. He didn’t know who it was, but I decided that I needed to be louder than them.

I brought my Les Paul out to the driveway and plugged into the wall in the garage with an extension chord. Then I cranked the amp and played all the loud songs I know. Admittedly there aren’t many. I write and play mostly mellow songs, and it’s hard to make them less mellow even with a noisy electric guitar. Eventually Ben came over to see if it was in fact me who was making all the noise. Ben is around 10 or 11, and he and I are the only people in the neighborhood who play guitar. Our families live about 3 houses apart. When he came over my dad and I had him play something on my guitar. He’s getting pretty good. I think he takes lessons at the studio I record at.

I also finished learning “Guess I’m Doing Fine” by Beck yesterday. I had to change the key because Beck sings too low, which involved more effort than I was hoping, but I have it down pretty well now. I also started learning “Lay My Burden Down” by Alison Krauss yesterday. Normally I wouldn’t think of covering it just because it’s not my personal style, but my songwriting partner and I agreed on it because there isn’t a whole lot of music that we both know and like. Her musical background is Christian Pop and Country, whereas my background is more Alternative Rock and Folk. We’ve finished writing a song together, so I think our stylistic differences work well together.

Last night a friend of mine and her parents came over and I showed them all a demo of my album. We had dinner, hung out for a while by a campfire my dad made and then we watched Star Wars VI. Alycia hadn’t seen the series before, so I showed her IV and V a few weeks ago. It’s my mission to get all my friends and family obsessed with Star Wars. I’m really looking forward to the release of the new one, but I’m apprehensive about Disney working on it. As long as they don’t try and make it kid friendly I’ll be happy.

I’m almost done with my Junior year of college, and I’m really ready to be done. I’m really tired of doing homework, and I need time to get planning my CD release party, promotion, etc. I have a lot of ideas bouncing around in my head, and I need to sort out the bad ones. I’d also like to start performing more, but I’m having trouble finding time because of school and because I’ve been trying to get in a few hours of studio time every week.

The past few days I’ve just been in a slump. I just haven’t wanted to do anything despite the fact that I have too much to do; possibly because of this. I just want a few days to goof off, play some video games and then get to work without anything getting in my way. It’s very annoying having papers due and reading to get through and whatever else. It’s always towards the end of the semester, where I have trouble caring about this stuff. I’m definitely not meant to be an academic. I hate doing research, and I like thinking about art and philosophy and whatever else on my own terms.

Anyway, I’ll stop complaining now. I’ve developed a pretty bad procrastination problem in the past few weeks, but I only have a few weeks of school left. I can do this!

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

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The Bystander Effect

Yesterday in my philosophy class we talked about the bystander effect. We talked about how a group of people will stand and watch a child drown purely because there are other people there. People seem to have a mentality of “no one else is helping, why should I?” It’s why the genocide of the Jews in Germany was even possible.

It’s also why there are millions of starving children in the wold. We talked about how it seems that a person who is able to help should be morally obligated to from an egalitarian viewpoint. We talked about how people act based on social norms and an innate sense of self preservation and how this does not  seem to correlate with egalitarianism or a common sense of compassion.

It disturbed me a little in class, but we have talked about this kind of thing numerous times before in other classes mainly on a theoretical level. It sunk in however when I read an add in the school bulletin that gets sent out once a day via email. A girl was asking for help with a public speaking project she had coming up and I almost replied, but then I thought, “Well, she probably already has several other people offering to help her and I’m busy.” It is midterms. What if everyone else was “too busy” as well? I most likely have a few hours to spare some time this week. Am I morally obligated to help that girl?

Something else struck me today. I remembered that Jesus said, “The poor will always be with you.” Why? Is it because people aren’t helping? Is it because of economic or social structures, as some would argue? Do they bring poverty upon themselves? Is it forced upon them? What bothers me most is that word always. Is there nothing we can do to stop it? Is poverty an undying force that can’t be stopped?

A question that plenty of people deal with all the time is; why, if God is good does he allow suffering? I don’t have an answer to that. Everyone suffers in one way or another. It’s because we live in an imperfect world. What I really don’t get is why some people suffer WAY more than others. What’s more is that often times, the more people suffer, the stronger their faith is. In fact, many people bring suffering upon themselves to strengthen their spiritual life. The thing about our God is that he suffered for us, and he suffers with us. I know that, but I don’t entirely know what it means. God is with us and he is with us in our suffering, but what does it mean that he suffers too? I think if I could figure that out I would understand a lot of other things as well.

Last semester in my creative nonfiction writing class I read a short piece called “Being Christ to the Traveler.” In short it was about a guy who offers to hold a drunk guy’s flowers while he pees out the door of a train (the guy had evidently just broken up with his girlfriend). We can help anyone by doing little things like that, but it takes so much more to help the poor or the people dying of AIDS over in Africa.

The thing is, I basically don’t have anything saved. If it weren’t for my parents I’d be dead on the street somewhere, but as it stands I live in an awesome house in a nice, safe neighborhood, I go to a super nice college and took guitar lessons for five years. I personally am very poor. I have a part time job, but because of school and music I don’t work much and I make peanuts; actually less than peanuts.

All the money I’ve saved or that I make goes to recording my first album, and that’s where I’m conflicted. My plan/hope is to be able to live off of music and have a little extra to send to charities, etc. What we talked about in my philosophy class was this; is it more morally right to take the money one spends on college/recording/whatever and just give that to charity, or should one wait, go through college/recording/gigging/whatever and ultimately be able to do much more and help many more people? I don’t know.

I guess a good compromise is to help who you can when you can, how you can, but I don’t think it’s quite as satisfying as being able to say you got a kid out of poverty. I guess we’re not supposed to look for satisfaction out of helping people. Again, I’m probably thinking about this too much.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

The Hipster Strikes Again!

I am a self proclaimed hipster. I refuse to wear brand name clothes purely for the fact that they are brand name– that and they’re pointlessly expensive. I avoid shopping like the plague– unless it happens to be guitar shopping. I listen to music no one has ever heard of and only old people and fellow hipsters recognize the songs I cover. The only jewelry I wear is a little cross that my parents got me for my confirmation a few years ago and a pin that I bought from a friend (it’s currently on my favorite hat). I don’t wear nail polish. I collect odd but stylish hats. I suck at using technology– I’m always at least one or two generations behind the current “thing.” I kept my little purple iPod up until my parents got me an iPhone 5, even though I had a smart phone already. For the longest time I refused to use the internet with my smart phone.

I mention all of this because I’ve never cared a whole lot about what people thought of me– at least not the way I look. I still have arguments with my mother about shaving my legs. I think I’ve basically lost though because I think she’s probably right about image being a significant part of performance. I can honestly say that I almost never notice what bands or artists are wearing, but I’m not particularly observant sometimes– a lot of times, actually. I do care deeply about what people think of me personality wise though. I want people to know that I’m caring and sensitive and even naive. I really am still a kid in a lot of ways.

The truth is that I can be selfish and judgmental, and I hate that about myself. I try very hard not to be, but it’s like it was just put into my head without me knowing and it seeps through sometimes. I think a lot of things have made me skeptical and cynical over the years. I think it was a combination of the crap my friends and I dealt with in high school and all the terrible things I see on TV. Sometimes the things that make me laugh simultaneously make me feel guilty. I know I think too much, and that’s part of it. As I’ve said many times before, it has helped me a lot to be able to say “I don’t know,” when it comes to big, scary questions. When a “yes” or “no” answer could create waves or just freak me out, I satisfy myself and try to satisfy others with not knowing.

I am afraid of over simplifying or over complicating things. Neither usually has good results. I’m especially afraid of doing this when it comes to my faith. There are things that I vehemently believe, and I will defend my beliefs, but there are questions I just don’t know the answers to– most people don’t, and sometimes I think taking a stand one way or another can cause more harm than good. There are things that I think humans just can’t know. If we could know everything I think it would make God seem less significant. I want to need God. It seems weird to want to rely on someone because I’m a very independent person in a lot of ways. I don’t know how to explain it. I guess needing him keeps me humble. Knowing he’s with me all the time makes me want to be a better person. I honestly do think that a lot of bad things happen because people don’t love and don’t fear God. I don’t want to sound preachy, but it logically just makes sense. If people believe that there is an ultimate judge watching over them, they will try to be the best people they can be. Of course this is what would ideally happen since people have always and probably always will twist scripture and put God into a mold that suits them best.

I read a blog post last night talking about how people will always pick and choose what they like from scripture. It’s impossible not to. I think it is possible to objectively look at it and pick out the big, overarching message. Most of scripture can be boiled down to “God is awesome,” “Do the right thing” and “Don’t be a jerk.” Most religions and philosophies have a moral code that can be broken down into these three things. Christians often call other Christians brothers and sisters, but the family extends beyond just believers in Christ. Everyone is included: Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, gay, straight, crazies, nerds, hippies, actors, artists; everyone from the dudes who pick up our trash to the CEOs of huge international companies. We are all equal in the eyes of our Father and we should all love each other as family.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Album Cover Part 7: The Decision & General Update

Well guys, I posted the version of my latest album cover idea with the larger circle in the middle on Facebook  and a bunch of people gave me some super positive feedback, so I think I’m going to go with it. Ladies and gentlemen,  Replace My Empty Spaces has an official cover.

School has kept me absurdly busy, but I sent another message to the Sad Cafe because they were looking for people to play this summer. Hopefully I’ll hear back on that soon. I’m finally getting back to the studio on the 17th to work on “Missing You” (song #7 out of 10). My dad’s been working with Kue, my old voice teacher so he can sing harmony on “Nostalgia.” My friend Nate should be home from college soon and I’m going to see if he can play strings or piano on a few things.

I still have to talk to Ken’s friend about getting a date for the CD release party but in the mean time I’m hoping to hit up a few open mics. I’ve written one new song that isn’t going to go on this album and I started another today. The first is about how I’m kind of crazy about not being cliche. I don’t quite know what my new one is about yet. I’ll probably have to leave it alone until school is over with.

So that’s that. It’s going slow, but I’m making progress. Things should go a little faster this summer.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly! 🙂

Snow Day

It’s snowing! We’re supposed to get a good dumping (I think 1 1/2 to 2 feet). I usually only have 1 class on Friday, but classes were canceled today. I would have got up early to do homework this morning, but I slept in since I didn’t have class. It was glorious. It doesn’t seem to be snowing too hard now, but I guess it will get bad later this afternoon and tonight. It will be really nice with the wood stove cranking. I think a good nerdy movie like Star Wars or something is in order. Some people have man caves in their basements. We have a nerd cave. I’m just about done with my cup of coffee. I might grab a second and some food and get some non-school-related work done before I tackle the homework.

I don’t know if any of you guys who read are from New England, but if so, good luck with the snow! Enjoy it! 🙂

2013 Scatterbrained Update

I wrote a post about a month ago explaining my plans for the semester and the rest of the year, so I though I’d do an update.

School is good. Music is not at all what I expected, but I still like it. It’s very much history and philosophy based. I was a bit worried about Romanticism, but so far I’m liking it (although Emerson kind of pisses me off). The things we read in American Lit are pretty cool, but I don’t really like the prof. He basically told us that his interpretation is the right one and if we disagree, we’re wrong. I just got my first essay back from Creative Writing and I did really well. The final version is due later today.

My teacher gave me the “ok” to start working on a lesson plan for a songwriting class. We’re going to run it for a week and see how it goes once I finish it (hopefully this week). I will get paid, and if it goes well we will probably do more of a once a week thing. He ran an idea by me that I at least think is a good one; he’s going to sell membership cards so that you get free admission to events with the card and you have to just pay cash without one. That way he could run more and better events.

Unfortunately my novel has pretty much taken a back seat for a few reasons, the big ones being time constraint and other projects. School and music are once again the only things I really have time for. I’m also realizing that I may not have the attention span or the creative power to do the whole fantasy thing. I really enjoy writing shorter pieces (anywhere from 3 to 20 pages depending on what I’m writing), and of course I love blogging. I am working on a few things that I would like to try to get published in a journal or something.

My CD is about half way done. We just have to mix my 5th song and then I’ll put it up on Soundcloud. I’m auditioning to play one of the coffee houses my school has throughout the semester. I’m hoping I get in one of the later ones and that they might let me sell copies of my CD. I would probably have to give some of the proceeds to the school or something, but I’m cool with that. I know they let people sell CDs at one of the places I do open mics, so hopefully I’ll have it finished by spring break. Otherwise I will probably have to wait until May to do an open mic. At this point I’m willing to just work like a psycho to get it done. Some of the songs I have left to do should go quick because I’m thinking they should be simpler.

I seriously go back and forth on whether I want to do music or writing for a living even though I think writing is probably more lucrative. Music is just so ridiculously fun any way you slice it.

I do have another idea about how to make a little money by blogging. This blog is of course very personal and random, but I’m thinking about doing a different blog about hats and possibly style/fashion in general. Weirdly enough, I think that would be fun.

Well I actually do have a deadline to meet, so I have to get to work.

Writing A Road: To Somewhere Great Or A Dead End Job

I hadn’t looked at my friend’s Facebook in a while, but I looked there just a little while ago, and something she had posted two hours before made me feel a little worried about her. I miss her a lot and I just hope she’s doing ok (she’s away at college this year). She suffers from depression, and sometimes she gets into funks. I hate to see her like that. I’m in a bit of a weird situation right now because I care about her and I miss her and I’ve been praying for her, and I’m not actually sure how she’d feel about that. I know from experience that it can sound phony to nonbelievers when Christians say that they’ll pray for so-and-so. I don’t know if it’s better to tell people or not, but I went ahead and told her. I just hope she knows that I mean it seriously and that she can at least sort of appreciate it. I just wish that she could know God because it really does make everything so much easier.

I’ve been having a bit of a stressful weekend. A different friend of mine slept over my house last night because we were having a party with family and friends. We ate a lot of food and stayed up late, which was great except I had to get up early to sing in church this morning. I was going to get a bunch of homework done on Friday except I had a minor seizure (I’ve had epilepsy since I was small but it’s been controlled by medication up until this point), so I felt crappy and then angry all day. Before the party yesterday I went to the doctor and had some blood work done. They should know what’s wrong fairly soon. In the meantime I’ll take a little extra dose and that will hopefully keep it under control. That’s most likely what they’ll have me do anyway. The point is that I have a lot of stuff due next week, and I only have a few days left to do it.

The friend who slept over last night is also an English major. Today before she went back to school, we were talking about how neither of us really knows what we want to do with our lives. I know without a doubt that I want to write. The trouble is that I really don’t know what I want to write about. I love writing my blog because I get to do some experimenting here, but I don’t know what kind of subject matter I would like to write about to make a living. I also don’t know what kinds of writing jobs pay a lot and what ones don’t. Quite frankly, I’d like to make a decent amount of money. I’d like to be able to at least live comfortably, and I would like to have some extra money because I would like to be able to help people, and I think I can say without a doubt that you need some money to be able to do that. I don’t know that I’ve given up on the idea of being a pastor, but I must admit that recently, the idea has lost a bit of luster. I’m not sure why. I want to write… but I would like to somehow glorify God and spread His message in what I do. Oddly enough, I haven’t been able to figure out a good, solid way to do that.

The thing I don’t want to do is become just another writer or just another pastor or what have you. I don’t want what I have to say to be lost in the wind; to blend into the sea of what every other writer, pastor, beatnik, etc is saying. I know this is the fear of every person who thinks they have something important to say, and what scares me more is that I don’t know how to deal with it. So I suppose the problem isn’t exactly that I don’t know what I want to do; it’s more that I don’t know how to do it.

I think another part of the problem is simply that I love art. Information and art can serve largely the same purpose. The difference is that information is passive and art is active. I want to be active in getting my point across. I want to be the obvious spot of red on the black and white photograph.  I’m also not sure I would be able to accomplish what I want to if I end up working for someone. If someone is telling me what to write, I’m not sure I would even be writing about what I’m interested in. Yet another problem is that I have no idea how to get anything published. I wrote a few children’s stories last year and I spent over 12 hours trying to figure out how to get them published, and I reached no conclusion. I found that many publishing companies were scammers and many of the ones that weren’t wanted ludicrous amounts of money to publish material. I’m currently working on recording an album of original music, and I’m dreading looking into getting that published, but I want to because my songs definitely get my point across (at least I think so).

Well, I’ve got to get back to the grind. I might sleep and get up early…. Alas, the plight of a college student….. If anyone has some advice and/or information that they could share, please leave a comment. That would be very helpful and I would really appreciate it.

Thanks in advance.