Tag Archives: music

i keep swinging my hand through a swarm of bees ’cause i want honey on my table

Thrice “Black Honey” To Be Everywhere is To Be Nowhere

A fan of Los Angeles, my brother is not.  So, it’s kind of a big deal that he braved the city of traffic to “celebrate” my birthday with me last year.  I use the term celebrate loosely.  I sure know how to throw a party!

The trip concluded with a Thrice show, a year ago today, that would bring us right to when I would be dropping my guests off at the airport.  Always a fan of special edition vinyl, my brother promised to pick up a copy of the tour only pressing of their latest album at a future show he’d be attending, since the time crunch didn’t quite allow for merchandise purchasing.

Unfortunately, at subsequent show, the special edition vinyl was no longer available.  I eventually invested in the standard and moved on.

A year later, timing displaying a strange synchronicity, he happens to catch a special, flash repressing of the album.  He still gets me.

The older you get, the less people wish you “Happy Birthday!” on Facebook.

I know I’m the last person that should be allowed an opinion on the matter.  Preferring to send a direct text, phone call, or most ideally actually delivering the well wishes in person, it’s rare that I leave my mark via social media.  If I have no way outside of social media with which to contact you, let me go ahead and apologize for all the years  you went without hearing from me.  (Something tells me, you’re sleeping just fine.)

I don’t know if it’s the exposure of it, the anxiety that there’s no way I can keep up with them all and who am I to prioritize, but I’ve never been good at it.  Much like I’ve never been good at Christmas cards.  (Thank you cards on the other hand, kind of my thing!)

So, I guess I point all this out, not to sound, “whoa is me” about the situation, but rather to actually express gratitude.  Whether you’re nailing the birthday gift game, providing a much needed oasis of unconditional love, or a notification reminded you of my existence for even a split second, I genuinely appreciate the well wishes.

Without getting overdramatic, it never hurts to know you’re not alone attempting to figure out this crazy concept of existence.

 

“the world you love” jimmy eat world – futures

“I’ve got a story it’s almost finished, now all I need is someone to tell it to.  Maybe that’s you.”

#jimmyaday

So… what was that?  Amirite?

I had officially passed the year mark since I made that bold leap – taking an indefinite break from Visual Effects, the industry I uprooted my life to join, to attempt a stereotypical artist’s life of passion. It was over a year since I took that important step one, but I had failed to progress to step two.  I had nothing to show for it.

One of the biggest reasons I couldn’t achieve my goals concurrently with a VFX career was the lack of remaining time and energy it afforded.  I had managed to secure the necessary survival jobs to keep a roof over my head, at once distracting myself with four at a time, but I hadn’t done any of the things I set out to do once I secured those jobs.  I had essentially created the same problem to replace the original problem – and the original problem paid better!

I was stuck.

I justified overcommitting to my survival jobs as “working out a solution”, which is not entirely false, but I would come to realize that another reason was to literally give me something to show up for – something someone else relied on me for.  Someone who I didn’t want to burden as a result of my current state.   (Using my guilt to my advantage – verdict’s still out on if it was a particularly healthy strategy.)

I couldn’t show up for myself, so I created a solution to show up for anything.  Otherwise, I was going to find it harder to resist wallowing in this low.

I was misdirecting my efforts.  I was failing.  Even worse, I was actively failing with my inactivity.  I spiraled further – all this begging the question, did I actually make that leap over a year ago, or did I just give up?  Did I really want this or did I want to want to do this?  Did I even care, anymore?

“I’m in love with the ordinary.”

I’d like to think it was entirely synchronicitous that their music has become meaningful to me at the exact moment I needed to hear it (similar to my eventual appreciation for 30 Rock long after it was off the air), but truthfully I’m probably just making up for lost times when my indie cred wouldn’t allow me to fully embrace something with the commercial edge of Bleed American.

(That so-called indie cred in jeopardy, of course, being enforced by no one other than myself.  Why did I care so much?  Absolutely no reason.  Flash forward to The OC’s Seth Cohen existing and ruining this for me entirely.  Yes, musicians, please don’t reach wider audiences with your art for me personally, because I need to feel… cool?  … or something?  Oh, the unnecessary drama of youth!)

By this point, my appreciation for Jimmy Eat World had grown well beyond Futures.  I had even given into the can be seen as trite, but only because it’s true, positivity anthem that is The Middle. (Everything, everything WILL be alright, alright!) 

And it’s only because I finally seem to be coming out of it, I can admit that during this darker time, in anticipation for their newest album (wait, they’re still a band?!!) and the show I’d be seeing on the album’s tour, their discography was all I could listen to.  Their music was the only think sparking anything in me.  I don’t say this to claim I was experiencing some sort of deep, spiritual connection with it, not that I don’t believe that can’t exist, but more so to make apparent just how low I was feeling.  The effort to play a song of theirs became the jump start to many a morning (Okay, okay.  Sometimes it was afternoon/evening) – a literal reason to get out of bed.

In the midst of all my current failure, it seemed all too appropriate that their music would be the heartbeat of what was to come next.

“It might seem like a dream but it’s real to me.”

I had to still care.  If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be hanging on to all these ideas – ideas I had been swimming in, but living solely as ideas they were becoming overwhelming.  I needed to DO something.  Anything.

The concept was simple.  It was harmless.  And maybe most importantly, it was achievable, even in my current state.  I wasn’t going to make a big deal of it.  I wasn’t going to announce it.  I wasn’t going to put pressure on it to mean anything or try to define it.

Going back to my roots of blog post catalysts and perfectly crafted away messages, I was going to post lyrics to a different Jimmy Eat World song each day coinciding with a 23 day countdown to the show.  (You see what I did there with the 23?  I know I said it didn’t have to mean anything, but I can’t deny me some silly symbolism to make the experience a little more meaningful.)  What song I’d feature and how many lyrics I’d choose to post would be determined by what I was feeling that that particular day.

Like I said, simple.  As long as I posted at least one lyric from a new song each day, I would have accomplished what I had set out to do.  At least on the surface.  And I made a vow to myself that doing this alone was all that was necessary write this off as a win.

Below the surface, of course, I was hoping for more, though.  It wasn’t that ridiculous of an expectation.  When I was younger I could exhaust a song, listening to it on repeat for weeks straight, meditating on it, if something about it seemed to speak to me.  Maybe surrounding myself with the creativity of others would inspire some creativity of my own.  It’s worked before, it could work again.

And if nothing else, you just quoted a bunch of song lyrics.  Big deal.

“It doesn’t seem there’s hope for me, I let you down.  But I won’t give in now, not for any amount.”

It’s no wonder the “project” (does quoting song lyrics qualify as a project?) was a success, but it might be surprising to know there were times it looked like I might fail.  It was met with opposition by more than one party (I swear, not just me taking myself too seriously), all completely unrelated.  I realized we are quick to try to label something we don’t understand and when we can’t, it’s hard to accept that it can be a “good thing.”  (Does it have to be anything?)

More than doable already, knowing the impressiveness by which I’m able to fail while in one of these lows (hindsight doesn’t allow denial), I even set myself up for success.  Anticipating my apathy, I created a pool of lyrics I could pull from if something didn’t inspire me that day or some outside source had me debating giving up – a lifeline I did admittedly defaulted to more than once. (Really, Angella?  You can get THAT lazy?  Why yes, depression. Yes, I can.)

I have a hard time admitting it, still do, but the reason the opposition bothered me was because it made me aware of what my actions “looked like.”  A cry for help (maybe, sometimes it was), giving into my cheesiness (The Middle was appropriately featured on the hump day of the endeavor), they’re not your words (Who really cares?  You’re not pretending they are and why abandon the potential that they could inspire some of your own?) – excuses.

I’m not hating on these seemingly negative outcomes.  We’re all entitled to our opinions, and the fact that the opinions of others had any factor on me following through on something so easy, is actually even more ridiculous for me to admit.  With some self reflection, I’ve realized what bothered me about the unanticipated backlash, however, is that it mirrors my own self judgement in my creative endeavors.  If I don’t have a clear direction, it’s not ready.  I have an incredibly annoying tendency to sit in the comfort of fear masquerading as my ideas, my voice, my artistry, my authenticity, myself not being “good enough.”

“We’re only just as happy as everyone else seems to think we are.”

Despite this and other internal obstacles, however, I did successfully complete my objective.  And as I hoped, it did get some gears turning.  Just as music has inspired before, it inspired again.  I quoted at least one lyric for 23 different songs, each day leading up to the first of now three shows I have since attended. (I’ll admit, it’s starting to borderline on a bit of an obsession, but it continues to yield results, so I’m not about to argue with the method.)  A victory, though seemingly insignificant, but in actually Project (sure, we’ll count it) #jimmyaday was an even bigger success than I could have anticipated.

It served as a definitive beginning to some overdue first, second, hundredth steps – including ideas sparked during this reflection.  (Oh yes, the selections were absolutely revisited during this experience.)

It identified projects I could tackle now and those that need a little more experience under the belt to best fulfill their potential.  It helped me see other ideas from different perspectives, helping me recognizing that reworking a concept, doesn’t discredit the original idea to begin with or categorize it as a failure.

It took an idea that has only been living in my head and started to make it tangible – if done right, it could be my personal crowning achievement of 2017.  It helped me develop a game plan to a larger story of mine that I think is finally itching to be told and, if all goes well, will be in 2018.

The actual order of the songs, the frequency with which I’d post in a day, the particular lyrics I found myself drawn to (not always coinciding with ones I thought I would be), also proved telling to my mental state during the process.

Maybe most importantly, though, #jimmyaday reintroduced the importance of follow through.  Simple in theory, a little harder to actually carry out.  Because sometimes these things take us out of our comfort levels, sometimes they’re silly – they have you feeling self conscious.  But in doing them, by following through on them, you’re following through on yourself,  you’re choosing you.  That alone is significant and makes the experience worthwhile.

I am once again finding joy in the essential “work” component of a work-in-progress, and while I can’t guarantee this feeling will last forever and this strategy to get out of creative rut will work every time, for now I am grateful to have found some semblance in that feeling when it had been seemingly absent.  And hey, I got a pretty fun playlist as a souvenir.

What are some of your power songs?  Share in the comments.  I’m always listening out for musical muses!

“the melting point of wax” thrice – the artist in the ambulance

"I've waited for this moment all my life and more."

“Something’s started.  I’m not entirely sure what.  Maybe it’s always been in progress.  But, something’s happening.  Something significant.”

I love that you can listen to a song a million times.  You know it so well, you sing every word without even realizing.  But, then something different resonates with you on that million and oneth (million and first?) listen.  And you see that musical composition in a whole new light, as if hearing it for the first time all over again.

My trusty co-pilot was recharging in the passenger seat, resting up so he could take on the next leg of the trip.  I don’t know that the original plan was ever to drive straight, but the onslaught unsolicited doubtful opinions had us figuring it was a good enough challenge as any.

I had decided to go the “shuffle of the entire library” route, where you vow to resist the urge to skip a track, taking a break from the selected tracks people suggested in a book designated for well wishes at my going away shindig.  –  The far too literal poetic narration of “I’m still driving away…” in Jimmy Eat World’s 23, a little to real for me to handle at the moment.  –  And while I might not have realized it at the time, foreshadowed the eventual importance of the entirety of the Futures album, a gift that I wasn’t yet ready to receive when the album debuted.

But, as a random number generator determined what song in my entire digital library would accompany my next stretch, a collection that had grown quite impressive and incredibly varying over the years, I couldn’t shake the fact that I was alone with my thoughts.

I was alone, and I was afraid.

"A leap of faith."

It had only been a mere couple of hours in the long run.

My father and brother doing the final check ups on the VW Jetta, relatively confident it should get me to where I was going in one piece.

Like so many family vacations that punctuated my childhood, my father skillfully packed all my necessary possessions like Tetris pieces, ensuring us that the last few moments could be spent enjoying each other’s company rather than scrambling to tie up loose ends.

I forced my dog, one last time before the ever looming departure, to sleep in the bedroom of my youth rather than his preferred, almost designated spot among the rest of the pack when at my parents.

My mother awoke early to prepare the delayed for this moment, traditional New Year’s Eve artichoke, and we ate as a family before sending me and my travel companion, my default and chosen best friend, my brother off on the journey ahead.

The goodbyes were tearful as my parents hugged me a little longer and a little tighter than usual.  I could still feel them.  My brother had to remind me at varying points that the sadness I was feeling was normal considering the undertaking, but assuring me I’d be okay.  No one was assuring me, right now.

I should turn around.  I’m not the girl who gets away.  I’m not the one who takes risks.  I don’t do this.  I have a lot here to be grateful for, I have a loving support system, an education that should, in theory, provide a stable enough future.  What is it that I think I need?

What am I doing?

“There’s no promise of safety with these secondhand wings.  But I’m willing to find out what impossible means.”

And suddenly, I was okay.  I couldn’t explain it, I didn’t fully understand it.  The sadness was still there, but that was okay, too.  This was where I was supposed to be.  This is what I am supposed to do.

I kept driving forward.

"How will I know limits from lies if I never try?"

Cause a Ruckus isn’t something new for me.  Given up sometime in college, though not necessarily missed by any, I thought I was supposed to be practical.

This new direction created a need to relaunch my old website, but in what capacity?  For what purpose?

When I started Cause a Ruckus, I didn’t do it to prove anything, necessarily.  It was simply an active result of something I was curious about.  Where did that curiosity go?

It was in getting back in touch with its reason to begin with – a multimedia avenue of expression – it’s redefined purpose, while still not entirely revealed has become more clear.  I had been waiting for something worthy of its second debut, neglecting to see that the documentation of the worthy things to come, the behind the scenes actions it takes to get these things there, is the purpose of Cause a Ruckus.

It’s the catalyst, the accountability.  It’s follow through with action over just talking about things.  It’s making art and connecting to humanity, lifting the entire way.  It’s a portfolio.  It’s facing the things that frighten, and living to tell the tale.  It’s just the beginning.

And in staying true to the Cause a Ruckus origins (and in everything I do, really…), it is once again proving to be an homage to the meaningful relationship I’ve always had with music.  The constant role it’s had in my life.  The soundtracks my various writings both required and for fun, the homework/study sessions it drove, the movies it sucked me into and video games it inspired me to play, the PRs achieved with its help in marathons, the accomplishments in my own musical ability, the times its quite literally saved my life.

That last bit sounds a tad overdramatic.  I assure you it’s not.

 

"I will touch the sun or I will die trying."

Six years ago, today, this particular Thrice song struck a chord in me.  Six years ago, I, along with the help of my brother, my most necessary of my possessions, and as I recall a broken toe, made the thirty-six hour journey from Michigan to California, home to Los Angeles – a city that has chewed me up and spit me out on multiple occasions in that time, but somehow hasn’t completely defeated me.  (Yet?)

And now, six years later, the same song exhibits the same phenomena. A simple replacement of “there’s no promise of safety, with…” with “Fly on…” and an omission of the “But I’m…” before “…willing to find out…” and the song takes on a call to action I can’t avoid.

The time is now or never, I realize as I consolidate notes and come across even more false starts than I’d care to admit.

"Fly on these secondhand wings, willing to find out what impossible means."

I’m never going to be “ready.”  As much as I’d like this to be, I know this is an impossible expectation.  So, ready or not (…and I’m going with “not”), Cause a Ruckus is back.  Whatever it is, this time around.  Whatever it has the potential to be.  Whatever it is meant to become.

Some pieces still revealing themselves, some remain a mystery, but that’s all part of it.  It’s part what of what needs to be documented, because it’s part of the process.

What I have been doing (i.e. a whole lot of planning, a whole lot studying, a whole lot of thinking about it), hasn’t been working.  Why not stop trying to define it, and instead give it space to develop and evolve into what it’s supposed to be.

And if nothing else, maybe the fact that I can cross “Srsly, relaunch Cause a Ruckus already!” off multiple lists is enough for now.  Action over words.

“Climb to the heavens on feathers and dreams. ‘Cause the melting point of wax means nothing to me.”