Tag Archives: life

FEED THE MACHINE: aka, The Concert That I Desperately Needed

Howdy, Vikans!

So, this post may get a little emotional, but I feel I need to let this out, at least at the beginning.

So, last night, Sissy (my little sister) and I went to Virginia Beach for the Feed The Machine tour. This included Shaman’s Harvest as the opening act, followed by Daughtry and then Nickelback. We bucked out early to avoid traffic, because we had a long drive home anyway. I have to say this though. I HAD THE TIME OF MY LIFE!!

I started a bit bumpy though. We decided that we wanted to get to the area early, so we could walk along the beach for a bit. It took us about 30-45 mins just to find a parking spot, which we paid $40 to use a lot for a little over an hour. Guess they gotta make money somehow, huh? And, to add on to that, it was drizzling the whole time. about 15-20 mins after hitting the beach, thunder sounded, and everyone had to clear the water. A little more time later, and the rain got a bit heavier. By the time Sissy and I got back to the car, we were pretty wet. We sat in the car for twenty mins before heading toward the venue for the concert.

We stood in line for merchandise before the concert, and while there, Shaman’s Harvest started opening the show. Sissy and I actually thought they were pretty good, so I’ll be looking up their music soon and see how studio version sounds compared to live.

When Daughtry came on, Sissy and I were rocking! Standing up every couple of songs and belting the lyrics. I knew more of the songs than her, but I’m also a slightly bigger Daughtry fan than her. During songs we both knew, we’d occasionally look at each other as we were singing and broke into wide, laughing smiles.

However, Daughtry hit my emotions hard. Just barely into their set, they played “Waiting For Superman” and “Life After You“. If you can’t tell by some of these pictures I’ve already posted::

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… I took JV Jr with me. A year or so ago, I was talking to the real JV about the last Nickelback tour that I’d wanted to take my Mom to. Unfortunately, the lead singer had to get throat surgery, and they cancelled the remainder of their North American tour. Lucky for me, because I hadn’t purchased tickets yet. Also, my Mom told me she probably couldn’t have done it mid-work week anyway. When I was mentioning it to JV, she told me that she’d LOVE to come if work schedule would allow. It broke my heart, because this tour was announced two or three days after she passed, and when I heard the news, I broke down again. Well, I was breaking down every 20 minutes back then anyway, but still.

So, in some way, she did get to come with me, in the form of JV Jr. The thing is, during those two songs I mentioned earlier, and when they closed with “September“, I was a bawling mess. Those songs just triggered something in me, and the dam broke. However, during “September“, I looked down at JV Jr for a moment. I knew JV would whack me for crying during any songs. The truth is, hearing that song live had me remember the good times we had during her too short life. Then I was crying for a whole ‘nother reason.

It took the stage crew over 45 mins or more to prep for Nickelback to come up on stage. During that time, the man sitting next to Sissy asked randomly, “Hey, who are you guys here to see? Nickelback or Daughtry?” Sissy replied honestly, “Both Daughtry and Nickelback.” The guy gave her a fist bump and said, “Awesome, you guys rock. I came for Daughtry but have never listened to Nickelback. After Daughtry’s performance, I hope they can follow up just as good.” Let me note that he was dancing and hollering to their songs, and also screaming answers and comments to Chad’s between-song banter while laughing.

Right before they started, I told myself, “You know you want to stay for two particular songs. Then you can leave.” As stated earlier, we had to drive back home afterward, and Sissy and I had experience with concert parking lots when seeing Danielle Bradbury, Thomas Rhett, and Brett Eldridge in Salem, VA during their Suits ‘N’ Boots tour in October 2015. If anyone one of you have been to a concert, you’ll know: THEY. ARE. THE. WORST.

Nickelback’s opening was AMAZING! They had the machine on stage that reflected their “Feed The Machine” Music video AND Lyric video, and opened with that song too. Shortly after, they played “Photograph“. That song is one of a couple dozen Kryptonites for me, so of course I was crying, for multiple reasons. During the rock songs, Sissy and I were belting the lyrics again, along with the rest of the crowd. Chad, the lead singer of Nickelback (If you didn’t know that already), was hilarious between songs, having me and Sissy cracking up. Some songs I didn’t actually know, as most of my Nickelback listening only stretches back to 2005, but now I have songs to look up that I want to know the lyrics too.

At one point during a break for the band to get some water, Sissy looked at me and asked if we should go while they take this weirdly long break. The stage was a bit dark, but we spotted the crew bringing out a small piano or keyboard. I had a feeling I knew what they were going to play next, and I told her, “Let’s wait until after ‘Lullaby‘.”

Sure enough, that’s what they played. It was AMAZING live. I was belting out lyrics while choking on tears. “Lullaby” is a song that has been a motivator and comfort for me ever since it came out. It talks about anxiety and depression and reminds people that struggle with inner demons like that that life gets better, and hurting yourself isn’t the answer. Whenever I’ve had friends in the past that were struggling with depression or hard times, I’d play them this song, and it helped a lot of them, to the point where they are downloading that song themselves.

However, during that song, I felt a chill. Now, this was an outdoor, covered ampetheatre, and it was a humid VA day, so chill would be out of place, right? That’s when I knew.

JV was there with me.

Once that song was over, Sissy looked at me and asked if I was ready to go. However, Chad was talking and leading up to their next song, and before he even said the next song title, I told her, “One last one. This is the last one I need to hear.” She nodded, knowing what would be next::

This song is another one of my weaknesses. Every time I hear it, I always think of JV. Her life was cut too short, but she lived her life just like the song says::

“Against the grain should be a way of life,
What’s worth the prize is always worth the fight,
Every second counts ’cause there’s no second try,
So live like you’ll never live it twice”

She lived like every day wasn’t promised. She was genuinely nice to everyone, never felt animosity, and always looked out for those she cared about. She was the best friend I could ask for, so halfway through the live performance, which was so well played live I couldn’t believe it, I cringed, tears streaming down my cheeks.

Then, I got that chill again. And I knew she stood there in the open spot to my left, hand on my shoulder, telling me, “It’s okay. I’m okay. So no more tears.”

After that song, Sissy and I left. I dozed off halfway home.

So, in a nutshell, it was the best concert of my life. Crossed Daughtry and Nickelback off my bucket list (Two in one night! WOW!), and had a blast with my Sister, who I don’t spend nearly enough time with.

It’s hard to believe it’s been over five months since I last heard her voice and laughter. I miss JV every day, every hour, every minute. But, thanks to that concert, I know she’ll always be looking out for me. Always.

Hug your loved ones. You never know what your future holds. Make every minute count. And live life like JV did, as If Today Was Your Last Day.

Keep Faith, Vikans.

Affirmation #2.5 (Interlude): To Pace or Not To Pace?

Recently, I’ve been thinking.

“A dangerous pastime-”

“I know.” #DisneyReference

Unlike Gaston, we are NOT idiots, and know the values of thinking about things.

And BOY, have I been thinking!

Being positive has become a part of my life. I’m not Miss Super-Peppy, Captain Positivity, but sometimes I wonder if that’s a good thing… 😉

That being said, I know I’ve got a long way to go. Depression and negativity are a struggle to get over, especially when they’ve pulled the strings my entire life. To me, taking things one step at a time isn’t cutting it. Slow and steady isn’t a viable option. One foot in front of the other needs to be a sprint rather than a  casual stroll.

You are probably rolling your eyes and thinking, “Now you’re gonna say taking your time to ensure perfection is a bad thing.”

Well, yes and no.

 

I see I’ve got a few mouths dropping open. Alrighty then, explanation time.

Yes, in some cases, taking the time to make sure every piece is in place is essential to success. In those instances, details pile up, and need to be double-checked to make sure not a hair is out of place. Even the slightest deviation or slip-up could result in catastrophe, Armageddon, or the apocalypse (whichever you prefer), and nobody wants that. For those plans, yes, take your time.

For other times, when details are fuzzy, duration to goal is indeterminable, and the want to succeed is only overshadowed by the obstacles in your way, DON’T SLOW DOWN. If you go full press toward your goals, you won’t have time to look back, or second guess. Distractions will lessen or vanish out of conscious thought completely.

Consider this idea from a story-telling POV. I’m going to give you two similar stories. Both involve same characters, setting, plot. The difference is in the story I am telling. Read on:

**

Narrative A:

Before leaving her room, Sariah grabbed her sheath and her cloak, throwing the latter over her shoulders and yanking up the hood. She dashed down the halls of the palace, making sure to peek around corners to avoid guards. Then, she reached the servant’s entrance near the kitchen. Once inside the large tunnel, she met the eyes of her best friend from the outside, Korbin.

“Sare, you ready?”

She nodded. “Ready as I’ll ever be.”

The two checked outside to ensure the coast was clear before dashing out of the entrance toward the crowded streets of the city. Right before she got to the safety of the travelling citizens, a hand grabbed her wrist. A sharp gasp shot from her lips as she was jerked back. Her body slammed into the chest of another, and a cool blade was placed to her neck. She met Korbin’s wide eyes at her capture, but the boy did nothing but clench his fists at his side and grind his teeth in worry and fear. Huffing an annoyed breath, Sariah somehow had the guts to ask, “What do you want?”

*

Narrative B:

While she was excited to sneak out, Sariah worried it might not go off without a hitch. For protection, she took her dagger off the dresser. In order to hide from her guards, she tied her cloak around her neck and pulled the hood over the top of her head in the hopes they wouldn’t recognize her. Right as she dashed out of the room, she skidded to a halt. She realized that her door being open and unlocked without her in it might set off some bells. She quietly shut the door and locked it with her key. With a confident smile, she made her way quickly down the hall. At each corner, she slid to a halt, looking down each crossing hallway to ensure no guard’s awareness of her escape. Occasionally, she saw a single guard or two, but waited until they turned away before dashing across. She took note of the noise of her sandals against the palace tile, and tried to minimize it as much as possible. Her hood kept sliding down too, which annoyed her slightly. Finally, she made it to the servant’s side of the large, ornate, pristine palace. Ducking into the entrance tunnel, she saw her best friend Korbin standing there, waiting on her patiently. As she approached him, she readjusted her hood and checked to make sure her dagger was still on her belt.

“Sare, you ready?”

“Ready as I’ll ever be.”

They hid in the shadows of the doorway for a few moments, making sure no one of importance was watching. Then, they bolted for the city streets. Sariah felt her adrenaline pumping with every step she took. Before she got to the safety of the bustling streets, a hand wrapped around her wrist. She jerked to a stop, and then was tugged backward into the chest of another. Her eyes met Korbin’s worried but angry ones as the cool feel of metal touched her throat. She huffed, clearly annoyed with this turn of events. Blowing hair out of her face with a quick breath, she snapped, “What do you want?”

**

Both decently-told stories, right? Same scene, same characters, same plot.

“What’s the difference, and what’s your point?”

The difference is in the pacing. Narrative A was written to be a quicker, suspenseful scene, telling just enough detail to entice the reader, but keeping the ball rolling. Narrative B took its time, giving more details than are necessary to the main actions of the scene.

I’m not saying one is better than the other. Not saying that in the slightest. The point I’m making is the difference in reading style here. If you want the action to go by at, what I like to call, a “Patterson-esque” pace, then Narrative A is your ticket. You want to reach that goal with no distractions, with the confidence that you’ll eventually reach a huge plot twist or exploding conclusion. If you want to know every miniscule point on your journey toward your goal and ensure the details of your story are accurately told and nitpicky to a fault, Narrative B is more your cup of tea.

Like I said, neither is better than the other. It just depends on the kind of story you are trying to tell.

So, here’s wishing good luck to me, as I switch from soda to water and attempt an exercise regimen, in the hopes of looking semi-presentable.

Who knew I could go to the bathroom so much?

Until my next real Affirmation, Keep Faith, everyone!

New Years – A Reflection on Life

New Year, new start, right? At the start of every year, all of us look forward to another year where nothing is impossible. Lose that twenty pounds, get that promotion, write that book you’ve been putting off for years, or go on that cross-country trip you’ve always dreamed of. There are a bunch of people I know (me included) that had a big change in their life in 2015. Babies entered some friends’ lives. Some people married their soulmates. Others started new jobs (example, me), big moves, new houses, new cars (example, me [again]), etc, etc.

No matter what did or didn’t happen in 2015, the biggest thing you can say is: I survived 2015. Lots of people can’t say that. Death got personal for me last year, with one of my grandfathers passing away from cancer (as I’ve heard my mentor say a bunch of times, “F–k Cancer”).  He was an amazing guy, and he went out the way he would have wanted, and that’s all that matters to me.

I guarantee lots of you lost loved ones this past year. My heart goes out to all of you, as I have felt that pang a few times in my life, and each time brought me to tears for months to years. It’s hard, looking to the new year without those wonderful people in our lives. Every passing moment stabs our hearts, and it literally hurts.

Here’s a little secret though. Come closer.

Closer…

*whispers* It gets better.

Yep, it does. Does that mean it will get to a point where you will feel nothing? No, unfortunately, the human race has not developed the technology to put your memory into an unfeeling, superhuman automaton with wifi in the head and a feeling suppressor where your heart should be. Sorry, I don’t think that’s going to happen anytime soon. Or, ever, if we’re lucky.

Feeling sadness or depression can be seen as a bad thing, and, to be honest, it is. As someone who’s suffered depression in the past, it’s hard. You shrink away from people, trying to hide the sadness and anxiety in your heart. Wanting someone to listen but not willing to talk about it. Biting back tears when looking at your bank account, your sick sibling/parent, or even just a simple picture.

But, the fact of the matter is, YOU’RE FEELING. Being able to feel is an amazing gift. It allows you to express what you like/don’t like about a situation, and to let others know what you think about something. Feeling is just feeling; there’s no other way to describe it, really. But, it’s amazing when you think about it. It’s something we take for granted.

For instance, I’m worried about an upcoming project of mine (more news in the distant future). That alerts me to plan things out, and have a backup plan should things not turn out right. It also tells me to keep going, so I can prove to myself that I was worried about nothing.

I’m scared of change. This informs me that when change happens, I need to fight back against the fear and take every hit, because, usually, it’ll be worth it in the end.

I’m happy I have a loving family, and a caring, awesome group of close friends. Without them, I wouldn’t have gotten this far in my work career, my writing career, or life in general. Feeling that happiness makes me feel warm and fuzzy and lets me know that not everything sucks.

And I’m upset about death. However, it’s a fact of life. We all will die in the end. If you need advice on how to handle death and your impending demise, consult the Adam Ruins Everything finale. Just a warning, the end is depressing (if you couldn’t guess that already by the topic).

But that doesn’t mean that everything about death is horrible. You have to look at it a different way. Sure, the physical body of the person you love is buried in the ground, but now you have a guardian angel looking out for you. Sure, they can’t affect anything on this plane of being anymore, but the things they did do in our existence left a mark on the lives of so many other people on this Earth. They can’t verbally speak to you anymore, but they live on inside you, in your memories, in your words, in your actions. We choose to focus on their death, because it’s seems easiest to do. But, that hurts you in the end. Don’t focus on their death; focus on their LIFE. The bonds they created that even death cannot break. The changes they made in their own life that affected others in a positive way. The lives they altered, simply by existing and interacting with the world. Their childhood, their schooling, their careers, their family, their friends. At some point in our lives, we made a mark on someone else’s existence, and that’s what we should focus on.

To tell the truth, I would not be on this blog, writing this post right now, if someone in my life hadn’t died. In fact, I wouldn’t be a writer at all. My uncle, while only an active part of my childhood for a year of my elementary school journey, passed away. I was eleven. He was forty.

He was supposed to die at eighteen.197952_1002567381076_3062_n

He was blind, but a genius. He worked as an engineer as an adult, even without being able to see. He had a loving family, who he chose to spend the last year of his life with. He didn’t let his illness or incapacities stop him from achieving his dreams. When he died, I took on that mantra. The night of his death, I wrote my first poem that wasn’t a school assignment. My mother read it – all three pages – and told me I should be a writer.

Almost twelve years later, I have published a novel – dedicated to him, as you’ll see if you picked it up on Amazon -, finished almost ten manuscripts, graduated college a semester early, got an amazing job three months after graduating, and have big plans for the next several years in the career that his death inspired me to take on. I learned to look at the life he had on this earth, not the fact he was gone. Because, I guess, he’s living on inside of me, pushing me to keep going when things get tough.

So, to 2016, I am going to keep pushing forward. No matter what you might throw at me, I will look at my book, my manuscripts, or that poem I wrote twelve years ago – which my mother has made hundreds of copies of throughout the years – and remember why I’m doing this.

Twenty-sixteen:

Bring.

It.

On.