Saturday, November 22, 2014

Anberlin

Last week was one of the most anticipated weeks of the year for me. Several months ago, Anberlin announced that their (at the time) soon-to-be-released album "Lowborn" would be their last disc, and that they would embark on a final tour later this year. I was shocked and saddened, especially since their most recent release at the time, "Vital" was an amazing and explosive comeback after what I felt was a slightly lacking 2010 disc in "Dark is The Way, Light is a Place". Anberlin has been a staple in my life ever since I downloaded "Blueprints for the Black Market" album in 2002 and fell in love with the song "Foreign Language". It saddened me to think that one of my all-time favorite bands was going to call it quits, especially after only kicking around for 12 years.

I suppose it's better than flaming out and struggling to make things right at the end of your tenure as a band. AC\DC and The Rolling Stones have been performing for 50+ years and still sell out major venues, while iconic bands like Nirvana, The Clash and The Beatles barely made it 10 years together (if not less). I told myself (at the time) that I should be grateful for the 12 great years I got from Anberlin, and the amazing discs they released. For my money, "Never Take Friendship Personal" will always be one of my all-time favorites, and it's follow-up "Cities" was just as incredible. But enough about the past and the retrospect. Let's talk about what happened on what I must call "Anberlin Weekend".

Immediately when I saw that Columbus was on the list of cities that got a final taste of Anberlin, I texted my dear friend Tessa (in Alabama) and told her she was coming to that show if she could get the time off. Except for Atlanta, we were practically the closest show to her and I insisted on getting her a ticket to get her to come. We eventually coaxed her sister Janna (also a close friend) to come, and then it was time to wait. The months passed and suddenly it was November. I took a few vacation days to cover their time up here and spent Saturday and Sunday going over the seven albums that had shaped my life over the past twelve years. And suddenly.... they were here.



 I had been to Alabama a few years prior to this to see them and Janna had came up here on part of a Thanksgiving road trip she was on, but it was different to have both of them. We went to World of Beer to hang out with Joel on Sunday, and decided to go to Blacklick and out for lunch on Saturday before meeting up with Kelly before the show. Note her pre-show excitement...


We showed up early to get a good spot in line, and it ended up being a very good decision when we looked at what was behind us just before being entered. The people in front of us in the line ended up being really cool people, and I chatted with them a little inside the show as well. As for the Newport, it was as wonderful as ever, and for this particular show it was Anberlin only. That meant a longer set-list, and in looking at previous shows we had a fairly good idea what songs we were going to hear. And after another hour-plus of waiting and being squished into the pit area, it was time.


I had already seen Anberlin at the Newport a few years back, and they were solid that night as well. Interestingly, it was 2 years and 1 day prior to the date of the final show (11/10/2014). But this time, for one final time, I got 24 (!!!) songs. They started with Never Take Friendship Personal and kicked on to We Owe This To Ourselves and Paperthin Hymn. It was kicking hard and we got jolted around the crowd, being only 5 rows back at the start of the show. From there they played Self-Starter, Readyfuels (the only "Blueprints" era song), We Are Destroyer (the only from "Lowborn"), Someone Anyone, and Other Side. They mellowed down with Symphony of Blasé, Take Me As You Found Me, Unwinding Cable Car, and Inevitable. Then they announced they were going to play a song that they rarely played, but that they were going to play because it was a longer set. I thought it might be Dance Dance, but it ended up being The Haunting, from their b-side disc "Lost Songs". It was a song that I initially would skip over when listening to them, but after hearing it live I found a new love for it.  Christian announced that it was the last time they'd be playing it live.



After that, they rocked out Impossible, Breaking and A Day Late. I was actually surprised at how many songs from NTFP they ended up playing, but I wasn't complaining. Up next was A Whisper and A Clamor and Dismantle.Repair, which when I saw them in 2012 was the first encore song that Stephen was to perform alone with his keyboard. The keyboard ended up not playing, so he walked out into the crowd and sang a cappella. Well, this time it was full instrumentation and it was equally solid. They finished off with The Resistance, Godspeed (with Debut intro) and The Feel Good Drag. We knew from the previous set-lists that the final song would probably be (*Fin), but as they came out for the encore, the opening music was actually the opening 30 seconds of Harbinger. But after those 30 seconds passed, it was right into (*Fin), which was then subsequently stuck in my head non-stop for several days. It was beautiful and amazing, and after the "Patron Saints" part, they started singing the final line of Harbinger, "We'll live forever, forever, forever".



Needless to say, it was a PHENOMENAL show. Well worth the hype and the years of memories leading up to it.  And even though I was accidentally punched in the face (knocking my glasses off) and bashed around by the pit that formed in my immediate standing area, I have to say that it was one of the greatest shows I have attended. As for Tuesday, the four of us went to Jolly Pirate for breakfast and spent the day at Easton, visiting many stores before finishing the day with dinner at BD's and Star Trek back at my house. Wednesday was the day of departure for the girls, so we went and got coffee in the Short North and visited a fair trade store before sending them on their way. I was sad to see them go, but my life was greatly enriched by their visit. The unfortunate thing is that there simply cannot be a bigger occasion to lure them back to Ohio with! Hahaha...


From left - Tessa, myself, Janna.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Written in the stars

As a man with a million thoughts constantly reverberating in my mind, I usually find myself writing pieces of blogs when I am going through my daily paces. When I was younger it would often be songs, but these days it's just little bits of fluff that I want to excise from my mind. Unfortunately, I am rarely in a position where I can write these things out, so they stay bottled up or get pushed away into an unknown depth, only to be raised days later. Well, today is one of those days. Except that I've spent so many days brewing on my thoughts that I'm not sure if they're in a spot where they need to be blasted out into cyberspace.

Conundrum, thy name is Jester.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

E is for alonE

sometimes, the only way i know to fight loneliness is to embrace it and accept the inevitable.

but is it inevitable? or do i simply enjoy the pain?

or, am i just always alone?

Saturday, November 8, 2014

I feel like I don't have enough time left in my life to worry. I don't know how much time I have left, but I'd like to be able to control that emotional response.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Trifecta

Today was a pretty cool day. In fact, it was downright cold. But that didn't dampen my spirit, for today was the completion of the Columbus playoff trifecta!

That's right. It all started when I went to games 3 and 4 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals between the Blue Jackets and Penguins. No matter what else happens this year, the highlight of 2014 will be watching the game 4 victory with Gerg. Later in the summer, we (Gerg, Tollie and Julia) got together to see the Clippers playoff game, in which the team played solid for 8 before blowing the lead and losing. Finally, today I made it out to a Crew playoff match, and even though the team was downright atrocious for almost the entire match, it was still a wonderful experience.

While the Clippers and Crew have made the playoffs several times before, the Blue Jackets were only in their second contest. They first made the playoffs in 2009, a year where the Crew won the Supporters Shield before falling in the 1st round to the eventual champion, Real Salt Lake. Interestingly, the CBJ fell to the eventual runner up in the Detroit Red Wings. The Clippers, who would go on to win consecutive IL and AAA crowns in 2010 and '11, finished 2009 a paltry 57-85, dead last in their division that year.

So 2014 is the first true calender year where all 3 teams made the playoffs, and I have been to all 3 in a six month span. I'm feeling pretty good about it. Except for seeing the Crew get blown out today and all, but it was still a momentous day.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

What I feel (2) - when I am alone

I would never categorize myself as a sad person. My life is filled with all these wonderful things that make me happy. In fact, it seems that the one defining sad thing in my life is loneliness. The unfortunate side effect is that loneliness is such an overpowering emotion that it drains all happiness from me and pushes me down any time I try to fight back. Loneliness is such a strong emotion that it actually makes the happy things in my life feel artificial. As if all the things in life that make me happy are not even real.

It may seem absurd, but I go to bed every night alone. And regardless of what I do, I am constantly reminded of that. It's not even a conscious thought; it simply is. I don't want to think it, and I most certainly don't want to feel it, but I do all the same. It is a constant betrayal of the mind, and by my 29th year of existence you'd think it was something I could overcome.

Not so fast, my friend. I still make bad decisions. I still send texts, make calls, and post things online that I should probably avoid. Last night, I learned that regardless of how calm and composed I am with my loneliness, it still has adverse effects on the ones that I love. As much as I appreciate the care of my loved ones, I still find myself baffled by their lack of understanding. Surely, I am not the only one gripped with these problems? Surely there is another amongst my circle of friends who could talk and listen about these things without making it a completely one-sided discussion.

The unfortunate thing is that most who do feel as emotionally as I do only want to focus on their own emotions. And quite frankly, I spend so much time listening and assisting with other people's problems that some times I need to focus on my own. I don't think it makes me selfish to be strong for 15 hours and falter on the 16th. But at the same time, when I need someone to be there, I need someone to be there. I cannot win this war alone, despite my perseverance.

Back on track though - last night I quipped to my fiancee that I was sad that we hadn't gotten to talk over the past week. She generally works nights and usually can be bothered for a few kinds words of reassurance when I am down, but over the past two weeks her correspondence has been few and far between. I know she's busy, and I know I'm busy to the point that I can't really hold text conversations for the entirety of an 8 hour shift (whereas at my old store I was able to do so). Either way you spin it, I am accustomed to receiving some sort of response during the day/night from her when I do have the time to converse.

The sad thing is that I know it has been a long time coming. Where once we used to speak often, we rarely do any more. To her, it seems that a text is only a text and a call is only a call. She can be perfectly happy and content knowing simply that she has me, and leaving it at that. I knew she wasn't a super social creature when I met her, but I felt that over the past 4 years of being together that she had broken through those walls and opened up, even if only for me. But, as is usually the case, I am wrong. I have told her many times that all I truly want from her during busy days is a good morning and a good night. But even those are too much to ask for as times.

And so the loneliness stabs me with it's evil prongs. I am left feeling exposed and helpless as I sit waiting for something that is never coming. To a person who is not hungry, a simple cracker may seem like nothing. But to someone who is starving, that cracker is the difference between life and death most days. It may seem bleak or absurd, but that is the best analogy I can put to my situation. I ask for such small things to cure me, and yet I am always repelled. And so I am alone. Alone and fighting on my own. Even with an army around me, I am still fighting for a cause all to myself.

I feel as though it is not worth my time to fight this any more. Eventually there will be some sort of reward for my perseverance, but I am not sure if I still have enough strength to continue. I've poured all I have into the past 5 years, and as far as I can tell I am in the same situation I was sitting on the couch that night watching my heart be ripped out and shredded for (what I said was to be) the last time.



I could just give up.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Confliktual

I have a hard time falling asleep. I can turn off all of my electronics and lie in bed and toss and turn for hours. I don't drink coffee and I rarely drink soda. I only take naps when I am truly exhausted (which usually happens after 3 or 4 consecutive days with less than 5 hours of sleep), so what gives? Sometimes I find myself lying in bed with absolutely no reason to be awake, yet entirely unable to pass out.

I was thinking about it during my waking hours yesterday, and I came across the startling discovery. Obviously, the idea is to fall asleep, but I seem to spend most of my nights convincing myself to go on. Not to stay away, but to stay alive. Convincing myself to persevere. The odd thing is that fighting with myself to keep on going is exhausting, but yet not enough to knock me out.

But..... if I give in to the monsters inside of me, I will be equally unable to sleep. While I was on summer vacation, I found myself impaled with depressing thoughts from the past, and ended up staying awake til 5 or 6 am. It was brutal. I was having a wonderful time without a second thought, but a conversation we had had earlier that evening just crept into my brain and beat the crap out of me.

It seems as though I am at an impasse in these regards. No matter what I do, I am inevitably exhausted. And it is exhaustion that brings on these dark thoughts. A vicious circle, indeed.

I am so tired.