I'm not very old, but I was immersed in the 'glory' days of the scene. I had a band in middle school called "Heroes With Helmets" and we rocked our little hearts out playing punk rawk music. I remember going to see MxPx, The Ataris, Further Seems Forever, Good Charlotte before they got big, Blink-182, The Drive-Thru bands... the list goes on.
The highlight of my life as a musician was when we played an event sponsored by my school and got to open for Locale Am. Many people on this site would recognize that the singer in Facing New York was in this band too. They were the class of the East Bay local pop-punk scene. Their first "hit" song was a scrappy pop-punk song about the bearclaw, where they played their first show. My god those were good times. Playing that show, even as the second band in a six band set, was the coolest thing I ever got to do in music.
Anyway, they came up randomly on itunes and I did a quick search for them online and found this video. Enjoy the brilliance and simplicity of the good times.
I'm using my REAL headphones to listen to Jimmy Eat World's Clarity Live right now. This album is incredible and really takes me back.
I didn't get this album when it came out 10 years ago. In all honesty, I got Bleed American and then bought Static Prevails and Clarity shortly after because I loved the band so much. I did that with a lot of bands because I always love to review all of a band's work. But that's not the point. This album brings me back to a much simpler time that wasn't really much simpler in retrospect. Every song on this album means something special to me. This is one of those few albums that I can enjoy every minute of. I know people jump on it because it is their masterpiece and it's become the popular go-to album, but I wouldn't care if everyone hated it... it means that much to me.
I remember when I flew into Arizona for the first time and said "Goodbye Sky Harbor", or a dark night the day before Xmas Eve listening to "12 23 95". I remember on New Years Eve when I would "Just Watch the Fireworks" or 5 months ago when I finally found "Clarity". Point is, this album has stayed with me for years. I can't begin to say how grateful I am for that kind of connection to music.
Listening to it tonight makes me feel calm. Things haven't been easier, I've been unable to control my emotions well lately. I'm at the same place I have been the last two years and I'm looking for some clarity of my own. I can't rinse and repeat again this year. One way or another, I have to find my new place and my new purpose. Whether that is Washington or Oregon or someone else... it just doesn't seem to be here anymore. The last two years I've had something to stay for. But all my friends are gone now, they are moving on. My family is moving on. I can't go to this school anymore now that I'm getting two degrees. I'm going nowhere at work until I get a Bachelor's Degree. It's just time for some progress.
You know, with all the reaction to the FOB tour, it got me thinking to when tours were actually good. Back when a big band would take a small band on tour to help them get noticed. Back when bands would go on tour just cause they wanted to, and not because they wanted to be part of a super-label that pumps out all the best pop bands. I remember when lineups like Thrice and TREOS or NFG, Blink, Fenix Tx, or The Ataris, Further Seems Forever, Juliana Theory, and Yellowcard (opener) existed.
I remember the local Bay Area scene. Kids used to care. They used to show up to a show when they said they would. Everyone supported the local bands. Everyone bought the merch, went to the shows, bought the albums. I remember being a mini-celebrity just because I was in a band in the local scene. I remember the respect we all had for each other. We all played shows at any community center we good. The method of getting your shit out was DIY. We didn't really have the internet. We handed out demos at shows.
I remember how enjoyable shows were. Back before paramore fangirls would elbow me in the chest just cause I was trying to move up in the crowd in anticipation for Jimmy Eat World, only to find that half the crowd dispersed when they came on because most of them had to get home for bedtime. Shit, most of the people there didn't know who the hell JEW was except for "The Middle." I tried to tell them all that Paramore was inspired by JEW, but no one cared. No, I remember a time when people in the crowd lifted me up so that I could play on stage with Kris Roe. I remember guys protecting girls getting smothered. I remember mosh pits and kids having fun and dancing and no one being a bitch about it. I remember a time when you could push up against people in a crowd and get to the front without some bitch screaming in your ear some childish lyrics or shoving you because you got in her space and messed up her makeup that looks just like the lead singer she's crazy about.
But thats all gone. Not only has the scene died musically, but the heart of it is gone. And no one says it better than Joe (anamericangod)
So I'm at work on New Year's Eve. Just like last year. Something is different though. At this point last year I was a wreck. I had lost many things that were dear to me.
I was less than a month away from moving out. I had just ended a three-year relationship. I had just lost a person who was very integral in my growth as a person. My plans had failed. My expectations had fallen. I was alone. I was anxious and downtrodden.
I was pathetic.
So I started writing again. Self-reflective stories and blogs. I revived one of my greatest passions after inexplicably ignoring it for a few years.
This lack of enthusiasm, care, eagerness, what have you, would plague the many months that followed in my 19th year.
2006 was my year of change. I graduated high school, moved to Arizona, met new people and did new things. I was a man... or so I thought.
2007 everything fell apart. I truly became a man that year, not because I became self-sufficient or anything, but because I paid for my mistakes. Because I finally had to own up to my actions. Once I had returned from Arizona, I had found that everything I left behind was weaker than before. My support system was falling.
Later that month, my spirit and my mettle were tested when an old teacher, a mentor, and a friend of mine died. I received the news in the worst way, while I was with my girlfriend of the time on a nice date. He was the kind of mentor that made you hate him and pulled every one of your strings until you were completely unraveled. He pushed you to the edge of a cliff and he dared you to jump. He shook your spirit and put it back together just before it would completely disappear. He taught me theatre, and I don't love theatre and I don't want to pursue it as a life goal, but his lessons were transparent and golden. I didn't need to be in theatre to cherish them.
Then it all fell apart. The last thing I had to hold onto, which sadly was my faulty three-year relationship, finally gave way.
And then I got blindsighted. And my three-year relationship was over. On the day the new campaign began at work. Just when the future was looking up. And this blow knocked me out for months. The holidays were empty and meaningless. I didn't eat for weeks after the breakup so my favorite holiday (Thanksgiving) was ruined. Christmas was stressful as usual and I just didn't have the love in my heart to get through it. I hated my families for making me travel so much to see them all. I hated the tug of war for everyone to see me when I don't matter during the rest of the year. But I still bought my parents awesome gifts and my siblings as well. I still drove three different places in three days.
I think that explains why I had a predetermined hatred toward the holidays.
February was awful, I went to a strip club on Valentine's Day. I sought comfort from a stripper. I was pathetic. I was useless and worthless and etc etc etc.
It was at that point that I realized how far I had fallen. I had no desire, I had lost myself. I thought I was bipolar. I was all over the place, desperate and fake and outside of who I really was.
And so now, on this night before my 19th year ends. I'm nearly finished with my classes, on the brink of another big campaign for work, and close to a summer in which I need to make some big decisions, take a few epic trips, and keep things in perspective
This is where I began to turn it around. But even then when I thought I had, everything fell apart once more. I moved to San Diego and was ready to go to a 4-year college again. I was on track to get my Bachelor's degree in 2010 and I was stoked.
But uhh... money?
I woke up this morning expecting to work another day at my new job in San Diego, then look at a few places where I could rent a room.
I ended the day back in my apartment in Folsom (near Sacramento).
So at this point I'm sitting in my car in the parking lot. I have negative money, a maxed out credit card, no job, no place, no way to attend school. I start thinking about the month I've had and how it was so great and how it taught me so much about myself. I persevered as long as I could... to the very bitter end. I literally tried and tried until I was absolutely knocked out. And the funny part is that I almost made it. I would have had a rough few weeks, but had that job worked out I would have made it.
But, another one of those 'almost' moments in my life wasn't enough for me at that time.
There it was. In retrospect, it was the best thing that could've happened to me. But at that time...
I guess I'm just sick of the failure. I'm sick of the cards never falling right. I'm sick of the disappointment. I can only stay honest and motivated and pure for so long.
And something about this place makes me feel so alone.
So I sucked it up and moved back to my apartment in Folsom. I signed up for classes at the same damn Community College. I went to work for the same damn company in a different department. But in the midst of all that I found some time to myself. I cut back on the social life and took time to explore my creative outlets. I wrote poetry, read, watched movies, just took time to myself while I waited for my new job to begin and for school to start.
Have I lost the motivation and drive I used to have? Absolutely not. Have I chilled out and slowed down a bit? Yes.
I've gotten to the point where I will be driving and a smile will come to my face naturally. That is unbelievable. I don't have a girlfriend, I don't hang out with people every day, I'm not out saving the world or anything... but I'm still happy.
For the first time in my life, I'm just happy with who I am and what I do. I don't worry about what people are thinking about me or if they are going to call me back, I just let it roll and enjoy whatever is going on.
Now this is bliss.
I think this is where things began to turn for me. I regained a lot of confidence. I went into the semester and my new job with a whole new outlook, completely recharged. I had my goals set once again and I was finally ready to date again, but only if the right girl came along.
During my actual summer vacation, I took time to myself to write, watch movies, relax, exercise, play video games, read, and whatever else I felt like. But I also partied, visited many parts of CA, laughed, done crazy things, and just had an amazing time with my best friends.
I topped all of that off with an amazing last week of summer full of good times, good laughs, and good friends.
So I get home tonight and I feel motivated again. I feel like this year isn't going to be about heartache or depression or disappointment, but instead strength, happiness, and success.
I realize who I am. And I love who I am. This is somewhere I haven't been often. So now I find that I have a lot to do. I'm not scared and I'm not overwhelmed. But you are damn right if you think I'm being a perfectionist about what I want to do with the next year of my life. I feel a tiny bit unsettled right now because I have a lot I want to do.
See how motivated I got? Isn't that great? A couple more bumps along the way though. My roommate situation didn't go as smoothly as I thought, but eventually it settled. I thought I found the right girl for me, but it turns out it was the NEXT girl that was the one who was right for me.
Life is just moving too fast. For the first time I'm feeling a bit resistant to growing up. I'm scared because my actions mean more and more everyday. This isn't high school anymore, I can't just say something stupid and get away with it. People rely on me. People listen to me and care about what I have to say. People are affected by my actions. It's all a bit daunting.
But that all got figured out (you can read in my story The Defining Phrase) and I had a few more cool moments.
Just voted for the first time. Feels great. I won't tell you who and how I voted, but I'm pretty sure I picked the right guy ;)
Then everything came together all at once... it was a beautiful moment.
I've been searching a long time for you clarity...
It's nice to have you.
So I'm sitting here at work, happier than I've been in years. I have amazing friends who are loyal and fun. I have a girl who fits me perfectly, who is everything I've always wanted. I have a good family and have gotten closer to all of them. I have a good job, two degrees on the way, a guaranteed transfer to UCSD or UCLA, a promising situation with my career and life in general, and a nice place with nice stuff.
I can't complain.
2006 - year of change.
2007 - yaer of fallout.
2008 - year of rebuilding.
2009 - year of dividend.
I know there will be more bumps in the road, but for the first time in 3 years I feel like I have it together, at least a little bit. Instead of last year when I was desperate for a new year just so I could get a fresh start. This time I'm just ready, waiting, willing to keep going. Happy about the direction I'm heading.