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Life on Standby

July 2009



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Jul. 3rd, 2009

Life on Standby


As I sit on my couch, awake at 6:37 in the morning... all I can do is contemplate life, and life changes and progressions. Right now I feel like I'm in sort of a staging phase (not theatrical staging, but more like staging before drag races where the cars have to line up on the start line). I feel like I'm about to take off from the starting line, and begin what will probably be the most important race of my life.

For those of you that don't know, I was recently fired from my job, which sucked. However, I somehow had the foresight to not freak out, and instead gamble with my emotions and trust that it would prove to be a blessing in disguise. Let me elaborate; starting about an hour after my termination from Easy Street (I had to process the initial shock first), I started contemplating going back to school. Of course, this would be a difficult venture if I wanted to a)find another job, b)continue to pay my bills and support myself and c)continue to live my daily life with little to no interruption.

So, I decided to put school on the back burner (YET again) while I searched for another job. I figured that I HAD to have a constant source of income if I wanted to be considered for ANY sort of financial aid, right? I couldn't have been more wrong. I got fired on June 18th, and today is July 3rd. It's been a full two weeks for me scouring the local food service scene. What do I have to show for my efforts? Bagel. No job. So, Emily's dad has asked me, in the meantime to help out with his general contracting business. I'm no stranger to hard labor, so I don't mind.

Meanwhile, a couple of days ago, I got a phone call from a pre-screening service for one of the Craigslist positions that I applied for online. At the end of the screening, the nice woman on the other end of the line said that she would recommend me for the position, but also asked if I had recently considered finishing my schooling (we talked about it during the screening). I told her that I had, and she referred me to a free educational help service. After determining my collegiate needs, they then paired me with Kaplan University, a school that offers 100% online study. I began talking with an adviser there, Andrew Warshaw (as luck would have it, probably the best adviser there), and he helped me with my FAFSA, where, it turned out, I could apply for federal grants and loans that were need-based, not credit based. So, after doing this, I was awarded a 3000-dollar per year Federal Pell Grant, and student loans from Sallie Mae to cover the difference. The student loans don't even require you to start payment until 6 months after you graduate. So, all that was left was enrolling. AND Kaplan's Academic Readiness Assessment. It had been awhile since my mind was required to be sharp, so, understandingly, I was a bit nervous.

Wednesday, I took the assessment, and ended up scoring at around 93%.

A VERY excited Andrew called me yesterday morning congratulating me and telling me that he too had to take Kaplan's ARA for his entrance into graduate school there, and that I had scored higher than HIM. Apparently I'm the first of his students to do this... which is nice. So, he sent me over to enrollments, and I got enrolled into my first term, starting July 29th.

I have two classes my first term, Academic Strategies for Business, and Intro To Business. So, I'm officially enrolled, and on July 29th, I'll be IN CLASS and officially on my way to my B.S. in Business Administration.

Meanwhile, the aforementioned staging is KILLING me. I'm anxious as all hell.

Also, today, I have a painting job with Larry (Emily's dad), and immediately after, I have a job fair to attend. I was invited by Chris Thompson, who is a hiring manager for Verizon, and he's considering me for a Full-Time sales Position. Again with the staging. I'm usually pretty money in interviews, but it's been so long... I'm actually kind of nervous (which, for those of you who know me, is EXTREMELY rare).

So many monumental things happening in such a short time has led me here, on my couch, thinking about the changes in life. Working for the Owners I previously worked for made me realize that I don't really like working for people all that much; especially people like them. Eventually I'd like to own my own company and be my own boss. Whether or not I make a career being a musician, I'd like to be involved in music for the rest of my life... whether its owning and operating a venue, or starting a record label, its in my blood, and I'll always be a part of it. I don't want to be a server/bartender forever. Now I'm just working to equip myself with the tools to make that happen.

It's about damn time.

Jun. 28th, 2009

Life on Standby

(no subject)

Looking for some information? You're not going to find it here. Seriously, get over yourself. Weaksauce.

Sep. 14th, 2008

Life on Standby

Too Bright To See Too Loud To Hear

So, Verona is the winner. That is the name of my personal music project. For the last couple of days, I've been working on the MySpace page, and I've finally finished. With the help of Gibson, I present to you, Verona. Look for songs later this month (on or just after 9.22.08).

I need another way to present this project to everyone (because, lets face it, not too many people read this thing). So, basically, I'm going to MySpace a bagillion people, my whole friends list, plus RLS's whole friends list. That's going to take a while.

SO stoked for this.

Sep. 11th, 2008

Life on Standby

We Began With Concluding Remarks...

I must say, that I really like the story concept behind Emery's album The Question., The proverbial "question" is, "Where were you when I was...", and each song title consists of a specific ending phrase for the first part of that question. For example, song titles such as "So Cold I Could See My Breath", "Studying Politics", or "The Weakest", are all the ends to different questions, each with the same beginning; "Where were you when I was so cold I could see my breath?", "Where were you when I was studying politics?, or "Where were you when I was the weakest?". Brilliant concept.

So, I talked to Evan today,and we nailed down the date for the initial recording. Get ready, because Monday, September 22nd is the day that I begin my dream. However, Evan fears for the life of his current computer at the heart of his Pro Tools rig, and we made the decision to shorten the length of my project to just be a three-song demo. Which means, I have to a) Pick the right three songs out of the entire vault collection, and b) Further perfect them. Instead of looking at this as a negative, I've decided to focus on getting three songs absolutely meticulously perfect, and produce the crap out of them. I want nothing to be out of place, and I want it to sound like a recording that costs ten grand, instead of just the time it takes two buddies to make and mix it.

On to the names. No big changes from last time. The frontrunners are still Verona, and Flying on Faded Wings. Although, I do think that the former has taken the lead. A number of people have the opinion that the word "Wings" in a band name is a bit cliche, and to a degree, I concur. I think Verona may end up being the winner, here.

Also, I got a BlackBerry Curve, as a gift to myself. Gotta treat yourself every once in a while.

Aug. 24th, 2008

Life on Standby

The Only Survivor was Miraculously Unharmed

First off, Underoath put up another song from the forthcoming album, "Lost In The Sound of Separation", entitled, "The Only Survivor was Miraculously Unharmed", and boy is it hard. Holy Jesus.

On another note, Emily is all moved in. It's actually been pretty smooth so far, although its still the first week. Our room actually looks really good. She still has some clothes and things in boxes against the wall, but I'm off on Mondays, so tomorrow, Ill get all that stuff put into the dresser drawers tomorrow, but otherwise, it was a pretty smooth move. Although our lease is up at the end of December, so I'm already scouting out new places, but more on that later.

In other news, Em and I were worried all last night and all day today up until about an hour ago, because until then, I was pretty sure that My roommates brother stabbed someone at a party last night, when it was in fact the opposite, my roommate got jumped and apparently spent the night in MCV and came back to the house tonight with a screwed up face and a cast on his left arm. Anyway, I'm glad that that has all settled down, because I don't want Emily to feel unsafe in our own home. She says she's okay, and she seems to be okay, so that's good. Last night was just a weird night. When we heard that there was someone on the ground bleeding at that party I woke Emily up and told her to get dressed and that we were going out for a while. I didn't want to be around the house in case anything came back there. Turns out, my roommate was the one on the ground bleeding. Special thanks to my buddy Justin for hanging with us and offering for us to stay at his place if we needed to.

Anyway, I still haven't gotten a chance to get that first song recorded with Evan yet, and actually I've already started working on the guitars for the second. The first song I plan on recording with Evan is a simple, screamo-style song, with alot of melancholy undertones; Its working title is "Love is a Handgun". Its influence was partly all of the breakups I had from when I was 19-21, and party just the first time Emily and I broke up. The second song I plan on recording is the brand new one I mentioned before. Although I have about 5 or 6 more songs in the vault, I was chording around in Drop D the other day, and came up with a pretty dark sounding rhythm progression, reminiscent of "Great Line" Underoath, mixed with a little of my own flair, and I decided that I liked where that song was going, and that I want to record it as well. I have pretty good lyrics to be paired with it, and the working title on the lyrics is "Which Gates...". Its about the struggle of a Christian person to live life the right way, but not being sure about whether you're destined for heaven or hell, and It's very personal. I wrote that set of lyrics during a very dark point in my life in which I was struggling with my faith for an awful long time. When I wrote this initial music for the song the other day, it just seemed to fit really well with those lyrics. And Also as I've been writing this entry, a simple, new idea to put music to a set of lyrics I wrote called "Drowning in Your Shame" has been floating through my head, so watch out for that one too. Jesus, I may have like 10 solid songs before this thing is all over with. Just call me Dave Grohl Jr.

Anyway, obviously, I'm really excited about that, but still bummed about the almost surely imminent indefinite hiatus of Red Light Syndrome. The more I think about it, the more I think it will be for the better. There are bunches of creative differences there, Pez wants to do a 90's alt-rock cover band, I think Tyler is trying to do more of a JamBand type thing, I want to make a permanent switch to guitar, so I think it will be okay. Grant just wants to sing. Wherever, whenever, so I'm sure he'll find something. Although I think we had definite potential, it just wasn't in the cards. So, now, I'm really throwing myself into the new musical opportunities.

Oh, and the names. I've been thinking about it alot, and "Verona" Is really flying up on my list. Its gotten positive responses from nearly everyone I mentioned it to. So now, I'm thinking that I may name the band Verona, and name the EP "Flying on Faded Wings". Let me know how that sounds. I'm really bouncing alot of ideas here.

So, Will is gone from Popkin Tavern. For good. As it turns out, he was stealing money from the restaurant. I liked Will alot, but that's just cowardly. How do you explain to his six year old kid that he may be going to prison for years? There's a certain point in your life where the decisions you make don't just affect you. To not think of those other people is both selfish and screwed up, and I lost a whole lot of respect for him through this whole ordeal. At least I should be serving more now.

So, everything is calming down for now. And I'm happy. Like, really happy. I'm happy with work, I'm happy with Emily, and I'm happy about music. Can't wait to get up with Evan and do this thing.

Aug. 18th, 2008

Life on Standby

(no subject)

So recently, I've been on somewhat of an emotional rollercoaster. Emily is moving in with me this week, and I'm actually quite excited about it. I mean, I'm a bit apprehensive, but this whole thing was my idea. And after being on and off for the better part of three years, it's getting close to "shit-or-get-off-the-pot" time. It's time for us to either get serious about long-term plans, or... well, you know. Ha, as many times as I've written about painful breakups in here, I can barely even stand the concept anymore. So, that's an exciting endeavor. Alot of her stuff is already here. We just have to move her bed, dresser and desk. Last week, we painted my room (soon to be "our" room) a nice dark champagne/taupe-like color. We also got some Murphy's Oil and cleaned the hardwood. We bought a new TV stand for the TV that I put together, we took out Oscar's fishtank, and just did a general cleaning/remodeling of the room. It looks very "Contemporary Home" now. Much better than before. And I must say, the Schecter and the SG look mighty nice hanging from the wall.

Work has been a bit weird lately. It seems like in the last couple of months, there's been a crazy turnaround there. People working there for a week and then quitting or not showing up. It seems like there's kind of an "Old Guard" and a "New Clique" there now. Weird. Still doesn't change the fact that not very many people there care too much for me, hahahaha! I guess it helps that I can entertain myself for most of the time that I'm there. Man, if I even remotely gave a fuck about what people at work thought of me, I probably would have quit last year. Although I guess I don't think Will hates me as much anymore, as evidenced by the schedule. I'm not the only busser on weekends anymore, nor am I bussing at all. Which is nice. On the other hand, Im scheduled for section 6 (upstairs mezzanine...shittiest section in the restaurant) both days, which is kind of fucking lame. Maybe he still hates me just a tiny little bit. But oh, well, its a start. I've kind of had the idea that Will had it in for me as soon as I started working there, but its getting better. I have my theories as to why, but I don't want to get into it here. For now, I'm staying put at Popkin. Although it was a close call.

Musically, I'm preparing to begin recording my personal Rock/Alternative/Screamo project being produced/recorded by Evan Bateman, a BRILLIANT recording engineer that I work with at Popkin. Now I finally have a chance to get out a bunch of those songs from the vault, pair them with lyrics from the vault, and produce some songs, and record every vocal (screaming AND clean), and play every instrument, and finally manufacture songs MY way. I still have not picked a name for the project yet, and I'm thinking I may wait to finalize something until after I finish recording. I'm not sure yet, but here are some of the frontrunners.

Flying on Faded Wings
The Silence Screams
Where Valor Rests
My Dying Day
The November Promise
My Fading Heart
Days Till Jersey

Like I said, I think I may wait until I get material recorded, and then feel the overall tone of the music, but the clear leader right now is "Flying on Faded Wings". Can't wait to get in the studio with even and bang this thing out.

Also, I'm looking forward to new opportunities musically, because I'm pretty sure Red Light Syndrome is breaking up soon, or at least going on hiatus. We have a show at Alley Katz on october 13th at 7pm, and it may very well be our last show. I have a few opportunities in the works, some talks with people about starting up some sort of a hardcore/screamo project. Id really like to do something pretty gritty, with a little bit of a Southern Rock/Metal feel to it. So, many cool things may be happening there soon. And who knows, maybe I'll pull an Aaron Gillespie and recruit people to play music Ive already written and make my personal project more real. Either way, Life's about to get pretty exciting for me.

"It's got that swagger, son."

Jul. 5th, 2008

Life on Standby

New Band Name Idea

Where Valor Rests

Inspired by National Geographic's Book of Photos of the Arlington National Cemetary.

Jul. 2nd, 2008

Life on Standby

Never Take Friendship Personal.

Today before work, I got on an old Anberlin kick and decided to learn two of their songs (two of my favorites of all time), "A Day Late", and "Paperthin Hymn". The latter was written by guitarist Joseph Milligan after his younger sister was diagnosed with a terminal illness. Very Powerful song, as well as an example of Milligan's songwriting prowess. I've learned both songs, but haven't gotten Paperthin Hymn flawless yet. A Day Late is just about to the point where I can play it in my sleep. I think what helped was that I tried to learn that song back when I was a REALLY shitty guitar player. And now that I'm only SLIGHTLY shitty, I picked up on the whole thing in less than ten minutes. Its extremely simple.

On another note, I've gotten back into a bit of a Pop Punk kick as well. Learning stuff like We The Kings, Paramore, etc. Easy stuff that lets me know that I'm good at playing in a bunch of different styles and genres. I dont want to just be able to play metal, or just be able to play blues, I want to be proficient and well versed in many different styles. In the same day I learned Thrice, Paramore, Anberlin, and Killswitch Engage. Its awesome.

As Always; Rock and Roll, Children.

Jun. 29th, 2008

Life on Standby

(no subject)

I got into it with Chef Mike again the other day. Every so often, we have a pretty nice-sized falling out. This one was over my second (or as he swears, fourth) duck breast I'd had sent back (since we started serving it.... not even 2 months). The thing is, the first one was sent back about 2 weeks ago, and it WAS my fault. I didn't tell the table that the duck was prepared medium rare, and it got sent back. And Mike, in his usual manner of being a not-as-funny-as-he-thinks-he-is smartass tells me that I should alert any table of this when selling that particular entree. That time, I humbly apologized and told him that I would no longer sell the duck breast without communicating to the table. Yes, he was a giant douche about it, but a) He was right, b) I'm used to him being a giant douche, and c) I don't like to make mistakes, especially not ones that big.

So, a couple of days ago, I was serving a table, and the guy orders the duck breast, to which I respond with a remark about how we always cook the duck medium rare, and that we didn't guarantee the quality of anything past that. Of course, he says, "Oh, that's fine". And, like clockwork, when it was sent out, it was too rare for his tastes, and thus got sent back to the kitchen.

Chef Mike and Tim (GM) were both back there whilst I was explaining what had happened with the entree, and in the middle of my explanation, Mike breaks into a soliloquy about how alot of the servers don't communicate the entree temps with their tables, ESPECIALLY me, and that this was the 4th instance in which a duck breast I had sold was sent back (both points are incorrect). This is only the 2nd duck entree of mine that had ever been sent back, AND I HAD communicated to this table about the temps, and the customer just happened to be douchey about it. So I snap back at mike saying that hes incorrect about the number of duck entrees I had sent back, and he's like "Im talking to Tim now", and I respond with "Well, don't fucking lie about my shit"... and it only went downhill from there. He asked me to leave the kitchen four or five times, and each time I responded with "Don't fucking lie on me".

As an aside: Also, when Mike looked behind the line to Fernandez to ask him how many duck breast I'd personally had sent back, to which he responded with "We actually probably get about 30% of all the duck we cook sent back" (because they actually cook it closer to rare than mid-rare)

I think I took this instance so personally, because I had previously given him my word that I would from then on alert all of my tables about temps. And he was so quick to assume that I'd failed at this again so soon after we had the first talk. I guess he honestly thinks that I don't try my best to make things easy on the line staff... which is entirely untrue. EVEN though those guys give me the 4th circle of hell day after day, for no apparent reason, I still try to make it as easy as I can for them.

Just another day.

Cant wait for the Independence Day trip with Emily... Should be fun visiting Adam. I havent seen him since we went to Tennessee to visit Ryan.

Jun. 14th, 2008

Life on Standby

(no subject)

If I'm going to do this, I figure I'd better do it right. I was all set to write a Facebook note, when I stopped and decided to come back here, if not only for nostalgia's sake, because I find myself yearning for past times, during which I was actually happy. I don't even know what happiness means anymore, sometimes. I find that at times, I'm extremely "happy" and during others, I'm particularly depressed. This is one of those lower times, and I couldn't tell you why. I think it revolves around the feeling I always get around my birthday.

This past Thursday, I turned 23. Another year has gone by where I've failed to make anything monumental of myself. Actually, it feels like I've taken steps backwards, even though I know that isn't true. I'm back with Emily now. It feels like the best decision for now, but as always, I don't know if it's going to work out in the long run. We both certainly have our flaws, but if we both grow together, I honestly think that we can make something long-lasting out of what we have. But ours is one of those relationships that can only end in polar opposites. Either we get married and have a slew of babies and are happy forever, or we have a giant breakup and never speak to each other for as long as we live. Yup; one of those.

Anyway, back to the birthday thing. In order to get friends to come out and celebrate with me, I did what any normal 23 year-old would do: I created a Facebook event. of the 62 people I invited, 16 confirmed, and of those 16, only 7 showed up (Eric H, Devin, Amanda P, Kimie, RJ, Morgan K, and of course Emily) showed up (some brought their own friends, which was perfectly okay, because it was turning out to be a pretty miserable affair) And, actually, I really enjoyed myself with the people that came; I hadn't seen a few of them in years (RJ, Kimie, Devin) and it was really good catching up. However, seeing that so many of my "close friends" committed to showing up and then didn't, it spawned this year's version of the event that I hold at least once annually, which is what I call the "Friend Performance Evaluation".

The FPE is a system that I use to determine which friends and acquaintances I will keep around and in good contact with, and which ones I will either a)let fall by the wayside in whatsoever natural way it happens to unfold, or b)make a concerted effort to mentally establish a wall between myself and said ex-friend, in short, a complete cut-out. It seems, in the aftermath of my 23rd birthday, the time has come for this year's FPE. Ive been doing this, so to speak, every year of my life, since I came home from Morehouse, so for about four years. The thing is, every year I end up losing someone I really care about, and usually, if I come across that person in the future, and even make amends with them its still never the same as it once was. First there was the Gavan/Allyson fiasco, then Melissa, then Jeff (that was pretty crushing), and then came Devin, and then Tommy when he got big into drugs, and the most recent, Adam. Basically, over the years, I've systematically eliminated the people who I felt didn't deserve to be a part of my life, based on their words, actions, or general behavior. Only two of these have I mended almost to the point of where things were before (Tommy, Adam), but the rest have just turned into memories of once-good friends, and some good times, but also the bad ones which, in turn led to the demise of that particular relationship.

This year, I've got a ton of "new" friends (new since I stopped writing in my LJ, years ago), and some old ones. The following are my "close friends", and a short description of the nature of our friendship and/or how we met, etc.

Emily- My girlfriend from 2006-2007, and now again my current girlfriend
Ryan- One of my better friends from High School, and now probably my best friend. He just moved to Tennessee recently, so that blows.
Tommy- An old friend from High School. Great and charming guy, but has a history of depression, anxiety, coupled with substance abuse.
Tyler- A newish friend and hangout/drinking buddy, also, guitarist in my band, Red Light Syndrome
Alex, or Pez- Also a newish friend, often coupled with Tyler, and Drummer of Red Light Syndrome
Grant- A younger guy but a good guy nonetheless. The last of the "Roanoke Three" (Tyler, Pez, Grant) I became good friends with, but now probably the most trustworthy and closest to me of the three. Lead Singer in Red Light Syndrome.
Chris Another friend from Clover Hill HS. Insanely good rhythm guitarist and good friend, though we have had our fallings-out. Always good to discuss anything music with.
Ashley Another new friend, very sweet and loyal, and also a fellow musician and alternative music lover. Chris's current fiance. Chris, Ashley, Pez, Tyler, and Grant all live in the same house.
Kylin- My closest friend and confidant at my job, Popkin Tavern. An excellent listener and very loyal. Also extremely gay, and proud.
RJ- A good friend I met through Tommy a couple of years back. Moved to Blacksburg last year. Excellent drummer, also shares my tastes in music.
Frank The best guitarist I know. RJ's best friend and roommate in B-Burg.
Adam One of my best friends, a bit of an eccentric personality, but a good fit as one of my inner-circle. Moved to Chesapeake last year after we had a HUGE falling out, which we've since gotten past.
Aaron- Met through Tyler. My newest friend and jam buddy. He has more of a classic rock/grunge influence, but we both know plenty of Foo Fighters songs and tend to gravitate towards those while jamming on guitar.
Kyle An old friend from CHHS. An extremely dominant personality, but someone I still consider a close friend nonetheless. Lived with Pez Tyler and Ryan in the house that Tyler and Pez still live in. His old room is now occupied by Chris and Ashley, while Ryan's old room is now occupied by Grant. Kyle is also known to be musically inclined.
Allison, or Nandez Probably my closes female friend besides Emily these days. Nandez and I are prone to late-night talks about life and love, that usually end up helping one or both of us in weird ways later on. An awesome person and much fun to be around.

Now, those are my closest friends these days, and the time has come to seriously evaluate whom I feel enriches my life by being a major presence and force there. Now, I fear this year's FPE will be the toughest one yet. In fact, Im starting to get so attached to these people that I seem to not even want to mitigate my relationships with the people who may not be the kinds of friends I would prefer.

For instance, I would prefer (With special exception to the people who have moved away) that my friends celebrate birthdays with me, especially after saying they would. Especially since nearly every person on that list has had a birthday or birthday festivities in which I've participated in, including some which weren't the most convenient. These also include some as recent as in the last month. Although I shouldn't have been surprised when some people didn't show up, I still was, thinking that they would remember the effort I made to celebrate their birthdays with them, and make EXTRA sure that they returned the favor. But no such thing occurred.

I guess in the grand scheme of things, its not an extremely big deal, after all, all they missed was me getting piss ass drunk at Penny Lane and puking on their floor (again) and having to be carried out and home (again) and being so hung over and puke-y the next day that I couldn't go to work thus resulting in 2 (two) write-ups and the loss of a shift leading to a Saturday night of chilling in my room and writing in this very journal. But still it just reminded me that perhaps I've settled too comfortably into a set of relationships, whether general, professional, or musical, that maybe I should have taken a better look at before throwing myself into.

One thing is for sure. Whether drastic or minimal, this year's set of decisions has extremely large implications. It seems that every year the changes get more and more drastic and the general an long-term implications are larger and longer.

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