Monday, September 20, 2010


i am in love with a girl who i'm pretty sure would could not careless if i called her tomorrow and said something like "i don't ever want to see you again". i'm pretty sure she would respond to that with "i'm sorry you feel that way, i'll see you around", get off the phone, and not have any second thoughts.

my reality is that i don't think this girl will ever love me, because i am simply not good enough for her.

my reality is that i feel this giant fear growing inside me that i will always be alone. that love is not for me. that i will never meet a girl who i am in love with, and who thinks that i am good enough for her love.

my reality is i would feel overjoyed if i could just stop right here. if this girl could be my last first kiss. but i doubt that's going to happen. i don't know why i'm still in the situation i'm in. i don't know why she keeps letting me love her, while she likes me. i can't help but wonder sometimes if in the back of her mind she is constantly trying to figure out the day to tell me she doesn't want to be a part of this anymore, and breaks my heart.

i think there is irony in that the girl that treated me the best, hands down, so far in my life, was the girl i dated throughout high school. the girl who i was an awful boyfriend to. all i did was take and take and take but i had not the slightest clue what it was just give, and to have joy in giving. but she did.

now i am stuck wondering if all of this is because i never gave back to her when i was in highschool. now i am stuck wondering what it is about me that makes a someone being in love with me next to impossible.

in my 21 years of living, i have had one consistent thought: how amazing it will be to be in (mutual) love with a girl, ask her to marry me, start a family with her, grow old and happy together.

now i am stuck wondering if God is somehow punishing me or not letting me have that because He knows how much I've valued that my whole life. maybe if i just did not care, i would find my dream. but how do i stop caring about something i have cared about and thought about and valued for so long?

why can't the girl i am in love with feel it in her heart that i am good enough for her, and love me back?

i have learned through this relationship that it does not matter how good you are to someone, how much love you give to them, how much you care about will never change the fact that they think you're just not good enough for them.

one of my greatest fears is to die unloved, unmarried, without a handsome son or beautiful daughter. i am terrified that my greatest fear is slowly coming true day by day by day.

Friday, September 17, 2010

"And my only hope is for their daughters to be loved"

I was talking with my friend "Amy" today at work about all sorts of things in life. One conversation led to another which led to another and all the sudden we were talking about "daddy issues". Namely, girls with "daddy issues".

(For future reference, please know that when I say "daddy issues" it is not a sarcastic thing or disrespectful or anything like that. I simply do not know a better way to put it)

There are few things that have broken my heart more than hearing stories of men being terrible fathers. Some, to the point of calling them "a dad" would be doing a disservice to all the other good and present fathers out there. I have met way too many girls in my life, that still suffer from their parents divorce--or rather, an absent father.

My friend "Amy" said that from her experiences with her life (she also had an absent father/man), and meeting other girls that have been in situations like her own, she had come to the conclusion that having a really crappy dad can result in two main traits.

1. The girl becomes clingy. She just wants to be loved, is looking for something to fill the void that her father left--wether she acknowledges this or not. She may tend to give too many guys too many chances.

2. The girl becomes jaded. She does not trust men, and is terrified to put her whole heart into a relationship. She is very skeptical to let herself be satisfied with someone in a relationship.

This was at about 4pm that we had this conversation, it is now midnight and I have been thinking about this nonstop since then. And, to a certain degree, from the girls I have met in my life that have been affected by crap fathers...I think "Amy" is right. We are talking about girls with a mostly absent father here, not all girls that come from divorced homes or anything like that. We're talking about girls without fathers that play an active role in their life.

It breaks my heart more than words can describe to have personally seen some of the scars that have been left on girls's hearts who's father is not active in their life. It kills me that men can be so freaking selfish to leave their beautiful daughters out in the cold, and not give a seconds thought to what might happen to their mentality because of their leaving and their absence.

But I believe that there is healing that can occur, by God, if you let it.

I do not mean to speak out of turn here, but I can imagine that having a father that is not in your life, that left your mother and you and your family, that barely ever calls you, that is basically nonexistent...would be one of the most devastating things that could ever happen to a person. In this case, a girl. Personalities change, grudges are built, wounds are open, nothing is good because nothing ever changes. Nothing gets better in this state of just leaving it all alone and trying to forget it exists.

I believe that, that is where God could intervene if a person were to let Him. With years, I'm sure these once surface wounds of the heart erode into chasms of the soul. Chasms that might make a girl quick to fill the void of her heart with temporary relationships, or chasms that might render a girl so cynical and doubtful of love that she is never satisfied to be with someone. I believe that God can heal these terrible things that those men did to their beautiful daughters.

I believe that letting God's love, grace, and mercy drown the wounds that their fathers left them, they can be made well again. They can learn to fill their void with grace, and peace, instead of relationships. They can learn to forgive, and have grace on their fathers, and begin to be able to simply give love a give it a chance to put your whole heart into something, and not too be scared to be satisfied with it.

Wounds like this are not something that can just sit unmended and you just wait for it to heal. A gunshot wound to the heart does not just stop bleeding, or close up by itself. It will bleed until there is no blood left.

Find grace. Find peace. Find forgiveness.

Because this is not the way it was supposed to be.

Friday, September 10, 2010

"or the first time I saw a cactus in Arizona--it was a religious experience"- Bradley Hathaway

Last night was one of the most insane nights of my life.

My (now former) band The Kaleidoscope, Brighter got to play at an outdoor show, with a really, REALLY nice dude named Shawn McDonald. The forecast said it was supposed to clear up, as it was raining cats and dogs earlier in the day when we were exploring the town. Needless to say, it did not. And someone, in their infinite wisdom decided we were going to trust the weather people who said it was supposed to clear up by the time the show started. It sort of did...but it was still doing some pretty heavy misting, and the ground was soaked. My TOMS were soaked. My feet were freezing.

As would be the history of our band, wires got crossed, and the sound guy (who seemed like he was having a really, really super awful day) did not realize that we weren't the "typical" rock band and that we needed a lot more than what he thought we did. That was sort of stressful, to have the sound guy...who is basically in charge of you sounding good to the crowd, not really liking you. I digress however.

My mind was filled with a lot of negative thought before we got on stage. Just super burdened, super weighed down. I knew that this isn't good for me to feel like this when I play on stage. Not that I play poorly, but just that I am entirely unable to have that joyful release that I usually do when I played with TKB.

I could sort of see the crowd from behind the stage, as we were waiting to go up, while the local radio station was doing what they do. It seemed like an alright size of people. Then I heard them announce our name and the next thing I knew I was walking up the super slippery wood stairs to the stage. I grabbed my guitar, did a quick tune, and jumped into our first song. About a minute into the first song I finally took a minute to pay attention to the crowd. I was aghast. This is going to sound so, so silly, but I felt like I was playing Warped Tour. There were far too many people out there for me to count. I would hear afterwards that it was easily over 300 people, and quite possibly over 400. This was insane to me.

I knew I had to put on a good show for them, so I attempted to channel the frustration going on in my head through my guitar/my playing. I hated that. I hated that while on stage I could not actually enjoy playing in front of soo many people. I hated that my mind was so bogged down with things that weren't even about the show, and that I was so distracted from it all. It was the worst feeling in the world. I turned to Brian, our drummer, and mouthed several times what kept popping into my head: "I need a religious experience". Any other time I would've told you that playing in front of so many people could've and would've, but tonight it was just noise to me.

I got off stage and was complimented for my energy and how "You were having so much fun!", "You looked so happy", etcetc. That made me feel even worse. That was easily the most dissengenuine performance of my entire life, and people thought I was having all this fun and I was so happy. When really I was channeling super, SUPER negative energy and felt absolutely terrible.

The rest of the night was pretty downhill from there for me. I took off to walk around campus, to not let my negative energy rub off on anyone else. Then I found this little circle, concrete a foot or so off the ground, with a place to sit that circled it. I took a seat on the cold and completely drenched concrete and just stared into the sky. I thought to God, "Give me a religious experience. I feel like hell right now. Give me a religious experience. If you know me, than show me. GIVE ME A RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE."

So I sat. I sat in the rain and then mist and then rain for over an hour on that concrete circle. I had no idea what to except. I doubted anything was going to happen. I was born a doubter I think. After an hour had past, I was like "Screw this. Nothing is going to happen, I'm freezing my butt off. I want to go and eat and go home and try and sleep. I want to leave here." I didn't leave though. I just kept sitting. I had no reason to. I knew that nothing was going to happen. I KNEW nothing could happen.

Next thing I know I here someone say "Hi! Do you want an umbrella?" I look up and these two girls were standing outside the circle looking at me.

"No thanks," I said "I'm waiting for a religious experience."

"Oh, we're sorry! We didn't mean to bother you. You thought you might've been praying, but you looked wet so we wanted to see if you needed an umbrella."

"It's cool, I'm fine! And it's no problem at all, who knows, you guys might be part of the religious experience that I'm waiting for."

"What's your name?" one of the girls asked.

I got off my circle and went to where the were, sitting indian style on the concrete still a little elevated from where they were standing outside of the other circle that surrounded the circle I was sitting. We started talking, they started talking to me about "love languages", a concept which I first hear of from my friend Eric. I think it might be a Bible College thing. We kept talking, and they started to address everything that was weighing me down. They didn't know me, they did not have a damn clue what was on my heart, what was going on in my life. Nothing. But they kept bringing up these things that I was thinking. It was insane. Insane. Then we both went our separate ways. Them not having a clue what just happened, me still trying to wrap my head around it.

I thought I just had a religious experience. I thought about this hours and hours and hours. I got very little sleep because of the conversation that took part, and what they said about what was on my heart (mind you, they had no idea what was on my heart...they honestly just kept talking, and I just kept listening). Then I realized I was missing the big picture. The conversation was not the most important part of what happened. The conversation was just an excuse for the event to occur.

What happened was a religious experience. What happened was I told God that I needed a religious experience. And He did. I believe that He used those two girls to talk about what was on mind and heart, to show that He knew what I was thinking and how I felt...that He is not deaf. He let me know that despite all my doubting, He is real, and He showed me.

I could've already gone back to the green room, I could've stayed with the band, I could've stopped elsewhere on campus, I could've just not played the show, these two girls could've not come out of wherever they did for whatever reason they did, these two girls could've talked about the movie they saw last week and how sweet it was, the show could've been moved inside to avoid the rain in which case I would've been elsewhere entirely.
The point is, a million different things could've happened to stop this experience from happening. But they didn't. I believe that God used those two girls, that conversation which was somehow about exactly what was weighing me down, to show me that He loves me and that He is listening.

Everything that was used was like a vessel. The two girls, what was weighing on my heart, the conversation about what was on my heart that they didn't even know about, the weather, "fate", were all vessels to give me what I asked for: a religious experience.

God knew that I was at my wits end. He knew how much I was doubting everything, He knew that I would at times wonder if He even existed. Then God answered that question.

That's not to say that my whole life has been changed, that I now believe everything that all my friends who abandoned me because of my doubts believe, that I have all the answers to all my questions, that me myself have changed...

All I know is that one of my questions was answered before I slipped too far into the dark. All I know is that I asked and was given. I knocked and the door was opened for me. I gave up and was helped. For the first time in my life, I surrendered what I knew and what I thought I knew, all my doubt and cynicism and waited for an answer, and was given one.

And that is all I know.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Anberlin - Dark Is the Way, Light Is a Place (Review)

I have been a fan of Anberlin ever since I was introduced to them either by my friend Eric or Spencer freshman year in high school. I was attracted to the bands honesty, and refreshing musical perspective, from their debut record Blue Prints for the Black Market, to Never Take Friendship Personal, and to Cities. Then came their major label debut New Surrender. I cannot put my disappointment for this record into words. At first, I was disgusted that they recorded “Feel Good Drag”, a song that was two records old, because they “thought it didn’t receive enough attention”. I thought it did! I did not even think it was in the top 5 songs on that record (NTFP). I bought the album off of iTUNES the midnight it came out, after 5 solid listens to the record the following days, I still thought it sucked. Not a little bit, but like…a LOT of suck. Mounds and mounds of suck. I thought the first 4 songs on the record were pretty solid, but then it just sort of crashed from there. Songs like “Breathe”, “Soft Skeletons”, and “Younglife” almost made me want to cry and ask iTUNES for a refund and then some. This was not my beloved Anberlin that had crafted songs like “Godspeed”, “Dance, Dance Christa Paffgen”, “Glass to the Arson”, and a bunch of other really killer tracks. After New Surrender I had basically given up on Anberlin. I wrote them off as a major label casualty, just like what had happened with some of my other favorite bands (namely The Juliana Theory and Relient K).

That was, until I heard their single for the new record “We Owe This to Ourselves”. It very much reminded of Anberlin’s Cities days…which was awesome to me, as that was my favorite record by them. I breathed a breath of hope. I thought maybe they weren’t too far gone, and that Stephen Christian still had some good lyrics left in him, and that the band was still capable of writing a solid song. After listening to their latest record Dark is the Way, Light is a Place, I am proud to announce that the Anberlin people like myself have grown up knowing and loving has returned…sort of.

Musically, the whole record is pretty killer. The song structures are super solid, and also a bit refreshing, which to me, was super surprising after the loads of disappointment that was New Surrender. Lyrically however, I feel like Stephen is still trying to get a grasp on the whole…honestly, I don’t even know. At some places the lyrics are just plain bad and elementary—things that you would’ve expected to be on their very first record BPFTBM, in particular the songs “To the Wolves” and “Art of War”. (To be honest, I called that “Art of War” was going to be a lame song when I saw the track listing…solely based off of the super lame title, which was also a mildly lame movie.) It almost astounds me that a guy that has written soo many killer lyrics on both Anberlin’s stuff, and his solo stuff, can think that some of those lyrics are good. Like “Who needs enemies when we’ve got friends like you”, “Because of you I’ll never write another love song”, are just some of the super trite verses that exist on the record.

Similar too their previous effort, Dark is the Way, Light is a Place is good to a certain point. I would say that point is starting at the lyrics “Art of War” (the music is REALLY good on that song, ironically) the album sort of downslides. So if you’re wondering why there are only ten songs on this record, I think you should do less wondering and more being thankful that there are only ten songs. Six of which are super, super solid. I would have to say that for me, “Pray Tell” and “Impossible” are the highlights to this record. Thankfully they don’t come even close to writing a song as bad as some of them were on NS, but I am starting to think that this band is now entirely incapable of writing a record that will ever live up to Cities, which is super unfortunate.

Either way, I encourage you to give Dark is the Way, Light is a Place a solid listen and decide for yourself, because there definitely are some killer tracks on it. So if anything, this record is a huge comeback from their debut major label release, but the band still has a far way to go to find the passion of their Tooth and Nail Record days.

Vocals: 8/10

Musicianship: 6.7/10

Lyrics: 6/10

Production: 8/10

Creativity: 6.8/10

Lasting Value: 7/10

Final Verdict: 71%

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

"Lively Rogues (Demo)"

riyl: stars, metric, strays don't sleep, mates of state

This song started off as 2 acoustic guitar parts that I've had in my head since the middle of July. Finally one day I just got sick of trying to write it as a folky song, which is what I had originally envisioned it. I went to my computer and recorded the the parts, basically making what was a verse-chorus-verse-chorus of the song. I put it on my iPOD and would drive around listening to it, trying to think of a good melody. Again though, nothing came to mind. I was stuck in a huge rut it would've appeared, so I continued working on the song on my laptop. A few weeks later I had this instrumental piece that I was pretty stoked on. Just like a chill piece, and I also added some ambient noise to it via a part of the Paul Newman movie "Cool Hand Luke", and the Al Pacino film "The Devil's Advocate".

I still did not feel satisfied with where the song was at. I thought it still had potential, so I continued to work on it--my next step being to send it to my band's singer Abby Wood to see if she liked it enough to write a vocal part for it. A few days later she emailed me the track back with a SWEET melody that she had written, and I finally knew the direction of where the rest of the song would go. As lame as I feel to say this, this was recorded, produced, and mixed all in GarageBand. I was super impressed the potential that GB had once I really started to dig into it. I wanted to use LogicExpress9 for it, but I want the proper equipment before I start learning and recording with that (i.e. interface and midi keyboard).

Abby: Chad told me about this song he’d been working on with his beloved new Macbook Pro, and asked if I could come up with a melody to go along with it. It was different than the type of stuff I usually do, but I really dug it. It’s the kind of song you can just chill out to while driving in your car.

My initial lyrical inspiration behind it was a bit strange I guess. I had watched this documentary about a chick who goes back, finds all of her old loves and tries to find out what went wrong, and why in her mid 30’s they think she’s still single. It was uncanny, uncomfortable, and I loved every second of it. Every fairytale kids are ever told have the prince and princess going off into the sunset, and that’s it. The credits roll. But what happens if the story ends? I guess the song is about finding the strength to believe that love exists, and good things can happen anyway.