Thursday, January 19, 2012

I Hope U Have a Greht Life!

Why is it that when you grow up you stop leaving people drawings of encouragement? All I know is, I can't let this awesome kid down. I am indeed going to have a great life! (And continue to be the best)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

What is Flour Anyway?

A step in the grief process is doubt. In grieving our ability to make a simple tortilla, DeShawn and I began to doubt everything from the composition of flour, the history of baking powder, and the effectiveness of our frying pan.

Once we progressed to the step of acceptance, and came to terms with the fact that our ability to make tortillas was just not there, a resurrection took place in the form of a decently pliable piece of dough. Miraculous tiny bubbles appeared as the redeeming disk hit the heat of the pan.

A tortilla was made. Alongside it’s misfit sides of novice cooked beans and rice it was a small achievement, but an achievement nonetheless.

Next time with the proper pan, flour, and a brief science lesson of baking powder I am confident that the skill of tortilla making will be conquered.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

"My Gift is my Song and This One's for You"

A melody, a lyric, a rhythm, or a voice can be a powerful thing when it's frequency seems to be completely synced to your emotion. Music can give you comfort, strength, joy, validation, and freedom.

Like an art enthusiast might visit galleries or collect paintings, I have spent a good amount of time going to live performances and listening to a copious amount of music. Once and a while I'll have what feels like a musical déjà vu. The words will sink into my memory and I'll get the strangest vibe that I've felt this feeling before.

Writing the soundtrack to my life, I reached into that memory bank more so than the contents of my iPod. Thinking about how my perspective on life has evolved over the last 21 years, the music began to subtly fade in as a proper soundtrack should, impeccably accompanying the images in my head.

1. The Beatles – All You Need Is Love
“There’s nothing you can know that isn’t known.
Nothing you can see that isn’t shown.
At The Beatles' Love, 2009
Nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be.
It’s easy. All you need is love”

"All You Need is Love" is simple and amazing. For me, it is the perfect representation of what my childhood felt like. Everything happened for a reason, and there wasn't anywhere I could be that wasn't where I was meant to be.

2. Simple Plan – Grow Up
“This is who I am. And this is what I like.
GC, Sum and Blink and MxPx rockin’ my room.
If you’re looking for me. I’ll be at the show.
I could never find a better place to go.
Until the day I die. I promise I won’t change.
So you better give up”.

Lead Singer of Simple Plan, 2003
Goofy as it may be, Simple Plan was my favorite pop punk band when I was in middle school. I developed a fascination for things like the X games, studded belts, and started saying "dude" a lot. Like your average middle schooler I thought I was really cool with my music and my band Ts style, and was adverse to change.

3. The Head And The Heart – Rivers and Roads
“been talking ‘bout the way things change.
and my family lives in a different state.
and if you don’t know what to make of this. then we will not relate”.

I moved to Nevada in 2005, and heard this song in 2011. I had almost forgotten how much of a struggle it was to realize that no matter how adverse you are to change, things still continue forward; and that it is up to you to move forward as well.

Modest Mouse, Anaheim 2010
4. Modest Mouse – Bukowski
“If God controls the land and disease.
Keeps a watchful eye on me.
If he’s really so damn mighty.
My problem is I can’t see.
Well who’d want to be. Who’d want to be such a control freak?”

Between the age of 13 and 19 I had an internal struggle with religion. In a typical coming-of-age moment I had to put aside what I learned in church and private Christian school, and choose to think for myself.

5. Bob Dylan – It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)
“Advertising signs that con you.
Into thinking you’re the one.

Bob Dylan, 2011
That can do what’s never been done.
That can win what’s never been won.
Meantime life outside goes on. All around you”.

As I began to shed the ideas that I no longer believed, I initially approached it in the wrong way. I couldn't understand why everyone else couldn't see what was going on in front of them in the way that I had. Everything was a lie, and everyone were fools. But in reality, life wasn't that simple. No matter what type of box I wanted to force the world into, whether it be cross shaped or not, it was in the end still going to continue to just be life.

Bright Eyes, 2011
6. Bright Eyes – Arc Of Time (Time Code)
“To the deepest part of the human heart .
The fear of death expands.
Until we crack the code we have always known .
But could never understand.
On a circuit board we will soon be born again”.

My struggle with religion came to an end when I decided that it was okay not to have an answer. Like Thomas Paine Said in his book, The Age of Reason, "My mind is my own church".

7. Kid Cudi – Pursuit of Happiness
“Imma do just what I want, lookin’ ahead no turnin’ back.
If I fall, if I die, know I lived it to the fullest.
If I fall, if I die, know I lived and missed some bullets.
I’m on the pursuit of happiness and I know everything that shine ain’t always gonna be gold, hey.
I’ll be fine once I get it, I’ll be good”.

Kid Cudi's album The Man on the Moon was my confidence for 2009. It was the year of the impossible. I juggled more and accomplished beyond what I could have ever dreamed. I overcame fears, and gained the momentum that would set up everything that came after.

8. Cat Stevens – If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out
“You can do what you want.
the opportunities are.
And if you find a new way, you can do it today.
You can make it all true . And you can make it undo”.

In 2011, I created the O One One Project, a list that kept me accountable for making what I wanted for my life happen. There were no limitations for how serious, frivolous, easy, or impossible the task were, the only rule was that I had to continue to try. This project turned out to be the saving grace of my year.

9. Modest Mouse – Guilty Cocker Spaniels
“Before I could spit it out.
I guess the words had burnt my mouth, what can I say?
There’s the thought I laid it down.
So you could take it out of context either way.
We said all along we deserve every bit.
And mostly we knew that the supply would quit.
But we got going, going just away with it.
Until everybody lost their mind.
Directly behind me and ahead of the time.
But don’t you worry he’ll fall right in line.
Yep, everything just might fly by.
No one’s getting blamed this time”.

From 2008 to 2010 I was flying high. Accomplishments were frequent, I was got multiple promotions, scholarships, and felt like I was on top of the world. But I got the feeling somehow that I was entitled to my successes and because of that nothing could go wrong. In about a 10th of the time that it took me to build, all that I had earned suddenly began to crumble. The castle was made out of sand, and 2011 was unseasonably rainy.

10. The Avett Brothers – Head Full Of Doubt/Road Full Of Promise
When nothing is owed, deserved or expected.
And your life doesn’t change by the man that’s elected.
If you’re loved by someone you’re never rejected.
Decide what to be and go be it”.
There was a dream.
One day I could see it.
Like a bird in a cage I broke in and demanded that somebody free it.
And there was a kid, with a head full of doubt.
So I scream til I die or the last of those bad thoughts are finally out”.

I move forward a humbled person. I no longer assume that things are going to go my way. Instead I've learned to roll with the punches and to ask myself "what's next". I continue to work on what I envision for myself and to do things for me with the understanding that sometimes a change or two may be needed along the way.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

"Live life & Be happy"

I have to be honest with the fact that my anonymous letter wasn’t really to “anyone”. I was targeting a very specific person when I wrote:

“You are capable of amazing things
Always remember it is you that has the power to make it happen
-Live life and be happy”.

The kids that I supervise at my recreation center are amazing. Their lives are not easy, and in the year that I have known them, I have watched them get through some tough times. I never want them to forget that they have the power to be better than their circumstance, and to be successful at whatever they put their minds to.
This note was left in a recreation center vending machine for them.

In the case that some other thirsty patron found my note as they went to retrieve their Coke, I hope it serves the same purpose and empowers them to live life and be happy.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

"You should see the toast. I couldn't even get it through the door"

Uncle Buck doesn’t fit the mold of what I typically expect a John Hughes movie to be. The perspective is mostly from an adult rather than a teenager as done in Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller, or Weird Science. Additionally, the teenager in the movie isn’t particularly likable or easy to relate to.

Mostly I don’t want to admit that I relate to the character,Tia, because she is downright haggish. But I’ve admittedly had my Tia moments, and was probably more like her, at the age of 15 than I would like to admit. Like her I moved when I was 15 and spent a lot of time being angry and placing blame. Big difference is, I would never lay down a line like,
"If my whole family moved away from me, I'd have a heart attack too".
Instead I was insensitive about my grandma being ill, because like Tia, I was unsure how to deal with it in the new environment.

But I’d like to believe the true reason that I relate to Uncle Buck is that I am known to make a mean giant pancake. Enormous pad of butter and all.

Monday, January 2, 2012

"This is an incredibly romantic moment, and you're ruining it for me!"

Everything I know about the 80’s came from a John Hughes movie. For me, nothing else comes close to capturing twentieth century adolescence like The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and Sixteen Candles. The dialogue, the costume design, and the soundtracks capture the excitement, the awkwardness, and the struggle of youth- emotions that are timelessly relatable.

Though I love John Hughes I have yet to see all of his movies. So I decided to make an effort to sit down with every single film that he as written. I started the year with Pretty in Pink.

Pretty in Pink is a classic. Themes of relationships, social class, love, and letting go, separate it from your typical romantic comedy.

But I admittedly will always have a problem with this movie. No matter how many times I watch it, Andie will choose Blaine over Duckie. The popular guy over the lovable underdog. And every time I watch it, I loose a little bit more respect for Andie.

“If I hate him because he’s got money,that’s the same thing as them hating us because we don’t. Understand?”

...Yeah, sure. I understand. But you’d have to be a crazy not to choose the guy who gets down to Otis Redding.

Next on the movie list is Uncle Buck, because who doesn't love a man that uses a snow shovel as a pancake spatula.