Friday, January 8, 2016

16.8 - New Circle, Old Template

Prompt:  "What new circles have you formed?  Any new ones?  Did you start a book club or hang out in a tea yurt?  Maybe you re-upped with existing friends.  Explore your kumbaya moment of 2015."


Last year, I formed a new circle with an old template.

Craigslist is not always the sad, cynicism-inducing shit-hole it often appears to be.  In addition to its utility, it can lead you to good people who, like you, are searching for something.  I posted on the site last January in search of bandmates, and found two guys who were not only genuinely good people but also talented guitarists with similar tastes in music.  What are the odds?  You should take a look and then tell me what you think.  This was my third or fourth attempt at finding people to play music with via the internet.  My conclusion: I'm pretty damn lucky.

We aquatinted ourselves by playing songs for a project I had started with friends four years ago back in Chicago and decided to continue on that path.  Thus, Alar Wave was reborn, and I couldn't be happier about it.  We have since found a drummer, added six songs to the band catalogue, and are currently working on a full length album (I have a blog for that as well that one can follow here).  It's not a literal kumbaya moment, but it's pretty close.


This post is a part of Think Kit by SmallBox



Thursday, January 7, 2016

16.7 - Motion

Prompt:  "We're all writing the story of our lives as we go.  How can you make your story interesting in 2016?  And if you can't see around the bend, it's okay to dream.  Let's make 2016 one of riveting parts of our tale, shall we?"


As obvious as it sounds, I've found that intrigue comes about through motion, by doing.  There is, of course, value in the solitude of introspection and the personal consumption of art, but my most interesting and meaningful experiences have more often than not come about in the company of others or in a moment of action; saying yes to an invite when I could have said no, making conversation when I could have stayed quiet, going out when I could have stayed at home, hitting record and playing when I could have sat and kept thinking, spending money when I could have saved it, staying awake when I could have slept.

It's tough to choose motion, though.  In the moment, I almost always want to remain steady, to choose the path of least resistance.  Is this desire to stay at rest some sort of primal reminder to conserve energy?  Either way, I know I possess the means to move be it natural (will power) or artificial (caffein, etc.), and I know there is deeper desire within me to seek what is new, different, interesting.

So cheers to a new year!  May it be one of constant discovery.

On a somewhat related note, I had an epiphany last year that January is terrible time of year to make resolutions, especially if you live in the midwest.  It's the coldest, bleakest, most outwardly dismal time of year, and yet, we decide that it is the time to put new goals into action.  Would we be more successful if we made this attempt in the spring?  I believe that we should instead use the winter time to lay our old projects to rest (hopefully at completion), and then start anew in tandem with nature.   It would, at the very least, be more poetic.  And I'm all about that.


This post is a part of Think Kit by SmallBox  

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

16.6 - Sound Catalogue

Prompt:  "Do you hear what I hear?  Tell us about a sound.  What do you hear in your house or at work?"


To the best of my ability, here is a list of every sound I heard on Wednesday, January 6, 2016 between 10:20am - 10:28am in order of perceived decibel level (highest to lowest):

-the fan of my electric space heater
-the whine of my MacBook Pro ejecting a CD
-the clicking of my fingers typing on my MacBook Pro
-the ticking of my clock
-the hum of air moving through my apartment's vents
-the creaking of my chair
-the unidentified thud from somewhere in the distance
-the passing of a car
-the wet crackle of my jaw
-the ticking of my teeth coming together

It's a slow, calm morning here...  But after spending most of the early morning with a large group of shouting children, I'm more than fine with it.


This post is a part of Think Kit by SmallBox

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

16.5 - Plastic Packaging Induced Nostalgia

Prompt:  "Scents have the power to take us all kinds of places.  What smell takes you somewhere else?  Where'd you go?"


I hardly have any "scent-experience" memories catalogued in an easy to access way.  The best example I have is a story from two years ago.

My girlfriend Lily had ordered a bathing suit online and for reasons that are presently unclear, the packaging was shoved in my face (playfully, I assure you).  Instantly, I was taken somewhere, somewhere far back in my youth.  The smell triggered something in my brain and wisps of some of my earliest memories began to take shape.

We paused whatever game or banter we were engaged in so I could think.  The smell of the plastic wrapping was plastic-like, quite obviously, but also metallic, sterile, faintly medicinal.  Then came the eureka moment.  My brain paired the smell to the corresponding memory, and I became a preschooler again in my parents' room in their old Chicago apartment and my mother was helping me with my asthma inhaler.  The smell of the plastic packaging matched the taste of my asthma medicine.

I hated taking my asthma medicine.  But I love taking hits of nostalgia.  


This post is a part of Think Kit by SmallBox   

Monday, January 4, 2016

16.4 - Fourth of July

Prompt: "Share a photo or paint us a picture with words.  Show us something from your year through your eyes.  Did you see something that took your breath away?  Or maybe you just couldn't look away?"


Watching the US Men's soccer team play in Nashville over the Fourth of July weekend was one of the more visually compelling experiences I had this year.  I wrote an email to the hosts of Men In Blazers (a soccer podcast) detailing my experience.  Here's a snippet of that email:

"I'm writing to share a bit of my experience cheering on the USMNT in Nashville this past weekend.  I don't know how often you get to go out and experience home USA matches and the festivities that prelude them, so I thought I'd give you something cheery to think about.

"It was a wet, grey, dreary day, an English day so to speak, but probably a lot warmer.  Still, the American Outlaws' parking lot was packed.  In one corner, country music blasted from a car stereo; in another, popular indie.  On the east side of the lot, a Nashville F.C. tent marked center of the revelry.  Men and women in red, white, and blue (as well as the occasional founding fathers get up) chanted pro-USA songs while others stood in line for the free food graciously provided by the local AO chapter.  Just beyond the tent, fans of all ages took part in a game of pick up soccer on the slippery pavement.  All told, there were several hundred fans in the lot.  And at 4:30pm, we all marched toward the stadium together, chanting the whole way.  Local traffic be damned.

"At the grounds, there was a palpable energy.  Despite the rain and relative insignificance of the match, 45,000 fans showed up (mostly for the USA) and nearly filled the stadium.  Most notably, I saw fans of all genders, ages, and ethnicities wearing USMNT jerseys and USWNT jerseys, unifying the federation in a way that I had only read before as marketing but had never actually seen.  

"We continued to chant and sing through the warm ups.  When the teams took the field and the national anthem began to play, the guilt and cynicism that so often clouds my sense of national pride melted away, and in that moment, I was so deeply happy to see the progress of the soccer subculture in the USA and I was truly proud to be an American."

I also captured some of what I saw on video:


This post is a part of Think Kit by SmallBox

Sunday, January 3, 2016

16.3 - High five!

Prompt:  "No screens, no technology - what did you do with you hands this year."


Before I begin answering the prompt, let's argue about semantics for a minute.  Other than scratch myself, I did very little with "no technology" this year.  At some point in time, hammers, axes, spoons, forks, guitars, drumsticks, bicycles, etc. were all considered "technology."  I understand, however, that the prompt is most likely referring to electronic technology, and I will, therefore, answer it under that assumption.

I played drums in a Yeah Yeah Yeah's cover band,

I played guitar while my friend Alayna walked down the aisle at her wedding,

I made a strap out of a shoelace to carry my umbrella while walking/biking in Nashville,

I helped make a bunch of confetti for an end of camp rave,

I made this bag mask thing for Lily,

I crafted this mustache to distract from my makeshift suit,

and I helped make a bench out of a fallen tree.


This post is a part of Think Kit by SmallBox

16.2 - 2015 Monthly Highlight/Lowlight Reel

Prompt: "Your 2015, reviewed.  Give us the 30,000 foot view.  Or, hone in on a few highlights.  Let's bring last year to life before moving on to what's ahead."


A month by month review of my 2015 courtesy of Facebook, iPhoto, and my memory.

Highlight:  I met Danny and Randall via Craigslist and reformed my band, Alar Wave.
Lowlight:  My grandfather passed away.

Highlight:  I started getting into peak karaoke form.
Lowlight:  Karaoke was the month's highlight.

Highlight:  I bought a new bass AND played the first show with a reformed Alar Wave.
Lowlight:  "Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act"

Highlight:  I performed at Boxcar Books' "Rock'n'Roll Prom."
Lowlight:  I left my car window open during a rainstorm.

Highlight:  I partook in Taylor and Alayna's wedding (and Taylor's bachelor party).
Lowlight:  Liverpool finished 6th in the Premier League.

Highlight:  The Friday when the US Women's soccer team won their world cup game and the Supreme Court ruled in favor of gay marriage.
Lowlight:  Work probs.

Highlight:  My trip to Nashville with Lily which included going to the US Men's soccer team match versus Guatemala (they won!) and watching the US Women's soccer team win the World Cup.
Lowlight:  Turing 26 felt weird.

Highlight:  The weekend when I visited St. Louis with friends and the new Premier League season began.
Lowlight:  Watching the first Republican Party debate.

Highlight:  Lily moved back to Bloomington.
Lowlight:  I forgot to bring my suit when traveling home for a wedding.

Highlight:  I played 4 shows in two weeks with Alar Wave.
Lowlight:  I lost my voice for a few days after a sloppy but energetic set as Pixies. 

Highlight:  Visiting St. Louis twice in one month to watch Lily run her first half-marathon and the US Men's soccer team match versus St. Vincent and the Grenadines (they won!).
Lowlight:  Learning of the attacks on Paris while at the US Men's soccer team match.

Highlight:  I visited Oklahoma to watch my sister graduate from college and see the life she's built for herself there.
Lowlight:  I had the flu on Christmas.


This Post is a part of Think Kit by SmallBox