Alcatraz Bricks

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “(Extra)ordinary.”

I love looking at things differently.  This is brickwork from the original military barracks on Alcatraz Island — before it became a prison.  I’ve always been fascinated by things like this…how something so ordinary can look so cool.  Cheers.

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Trying to find a balance — keeping an even keel

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “On the Edge.”

My life, like most lives out there, is pretty hectic and crazy.  Adulting is hard y’all, and it certainly can take a toll on how I interact with those around me (and how I interact with myself, to be honest).  Staying centered is hugely important to me, especially because i am expected to set the example and be the voice of reason for my children and the junior people at work.

So how do I do it?  Music and alone time.  Seriously…it’s that simple.  I have certain bands that I know will always help loosen the tension I feel, regardless of what the cause of it is.  Mostly, if it’s been a helluva day at work, it’s Stevie Ray Vaughan.  I’ll turn on his slow blues, played on his signature ’62 Fender Strat with heavy gauge strings and just let my mind float away.  Any troubles I had are instantly lost in the smooth, sweet guitar played by such a virtuoso.  I can feel the stress melting away as Little Wing flows through my speakers.  When I finally get to Lenny it’s like I am floating through nothingness…and it’s a great feeling.  Trust me.

If it’s people, sometimes I’ll turn to a different kind of music.  Sometimes, it’s John Mayer’s more introspective songs, from Whiskey Whiskey Whiskey to Quiet, and others I turn to things like Eric Church’s Darkside and A Man Who Was Gonna Die Young.  Whichever way I turn, the songs are always mellow and (often times) deal with a man finding his way to a better place.  I crank the music, close my eyes, and am transported to a different place or a different time.

The best part?  It’s nearly free.  And at the end of listening to good music, there’s no headache, heartache, or hangover to deal with.  It’s only as expensive as the time I take to listen.  For me, it’s better than a trained psychologist or a friendly bartender.  It’s a gift, recorded some time ago by some who are still with us and by others who have long left this world.  The message in their music, however, is as relevant today as it was when it was written.  And I hear it…I feel it…and it soothes my soul.

Music to me is magic.  It makes me feel things my conscious mind had long forgotten; it can bring me back from the brink when nothing in my world is going right.  It just moves me…in ways that little else in this world can.

And I wouldn’t have to see you every night…

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Can’t Drive 55.”

Amneisa – Josh Abbott Band

Wow.  This is one lyric — indeed the entire song — that nearly anyone who’s ever loved can just feel  It conjures images of my first love, of those I’ve loved and lost, and those I’ve always admired but never had a relationship with.  It’s a song that talks easily of those universally understood feelings:  longing, loss, and love.

I think of two people in particular when I hear this song.  (Neither will be named here…I’ve got to keep some sense of dignity after all.)  One is a previous relationship, and one is a relationship that never was.  Both were in my life for a good amount of time and changed me in ways I still cannot truly understand; they made me be a better man.

So why would I think of them to a song titled Amnesia?  Well, because nostalgia is a bear.  And as I’ve said before, I’m quietly emotional, which means sometimes the way song lyrics are written puts images in my head.  Hell, if I actually understood it, I might make some money, right?

I am happy I heard this song though.  It’s one that reminds me that all people have these moments and that we all deal with them in our own way.

Musical Taste — How and Why?

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Papa Loves Mambo.”

Music is such a part of my life that I don’t think there are many times that pass without its presence somewhere.  I turn on the radio as soon as I wake up…find songs to listen to while at work…jam out on the way home.  Music is central to nearly everything I do, and it started at home.

Growing up, my dad listened to mostly classic rock and mom listened to mostly 80s pop music.  Through the years, their tastes ebbed and flowed; mom got further into the music of the 70s and country music.  Dad decided classic rock and blues were his go-to.  But, no matter the year or the musical phase, I can’t think of a day that went by without music in some form being played in my house…pretty much nonstop.

I began my musical journey in earnest in 5th grade when I tried out for the band.  My intention was to play saxophone (it’s a sexy instrument after all, and this was the height of the Kenny G craze).  However, the teacher noticed something (to this day, I’m still not sure what that ‘something’ was) and decided I should try clarinet.  I actually enjoyed it and stuck with it after we moved to Tennessee.  I continued with music or choir in some form until the day I left highschool.  But enough about that…let’s talk about home…

Games.  My dad played games with songs.  “Who sang this one?” was a common question anytime we were in the car.  A more common answer was “I don’t know, who?” followed by “no…Who sang it!”  (It was always a song done by The Who…and he loved to mess with us.)  This would go on for hours, but it got me to start paying attention to the people behind the music.  Of all the things I learned (or didn’t learn, as it were) from my father, musical appreciation is the absolute best.  It’s his fault I pay such close attention to song lyrics and the artists behind them.  It’s his fault I know every word to nearly every popular classic rock song in existence from 1963 and onward.

As I grew, I developed my own ear for music, but in reality it tended to stay pretty close to center (at least, in between what mom and dad both liked).  I liked the Beastie Boys and Red Hot Chili Peppers.  I liked Garth Brooks and George Strait.  I heard Nirvana for the first time and dreamed I’d one day play a guitar in a great band like them.

I no longer look for music of a particular genre; I’ve decided that there are two kinds of music and I should just embrace it.  There’s good and bad music…good music makes you really *feel* what they’re saying and own it.  Bad music can be catchy, but it lacks substance…and I just can’t get behind it.  No way, no how.

Today, I’m a huge fan of the blues and of acoustic music in general.  I listen to nearly anything I can get my hands on, but I still have a special place in my heard for the blues and for jazz records.  When you want to get onto me for liking so much music…remember to just thank my parents.

Mirror Mirror — What It Says About Me

I often look into the mirror and wonder what others see.  Do they see confidence?  Pride?  Conceit?  Maybe they see a man of principle who is unmoved by the temptations we come across every day.  I know I can’t say for sure what others see, but I know what is really there.  And honestly, it’s not what most would think.

Questioning.  Self-doubt.  Love.  Emotion.  If I had to describe myself, I’d say quietly emotional.  Observant.  Empathetic.  I’m the kind of person that will hug you and then kick the living shit out of the one who hurt you — with words most times, but I’m not above dishing out an old-fashioned ass whipping when it’s needed.  I’m loyal to those who are loyal to me.  And yes, it can be to a fault.

One thing I’ve realized as I’ve been doing the writing thing, both here and in my journal, is that there are only a few people out there who know the real me — and that’s ok.  I realized that every time I let someone in, I lose a piece of myself to them.  It’s not a piece of myself I can get back either.  But you know what?  I get a piece of them in return…and it makes me a better person (most days).

It’s why I’m careful about who I choose to surround myself with, because I know that each person will change me.  And honestly, that’s ok.  That’s life, and I love the growing that I’ve done over the few years I’ve been around.

Short post today, but I don’t know what else I can say.  I’m trying to be the man I want to be…and sometimes I need to remember that my reflection and what I see isn’t always the truth.