Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Every End is a Beginning

It's been over a week since I've had the chance to sit down and complete the story of my trip with Aneirin. I just want to finish telling the tale.

My Aunt Sarah who lives right outside of Charlotte graciously allowed us to spend the night in her home. She stayed up until 3 AM waiting for us to arrive and had blankets set out across the twenty-foot sofa near the fireplace. Dalton and I crashed in another room. Corey slept in my cousin Luke's room. Luke had selflessly offered his bed to him. The minute our heads hit pillows, we were out.

Sleep was not fulfilling, although it was appreciated. By 8:30 we were sitting around the breakfast table with my aunt and uncle and their six kids. Aunt Sarah provided some of the best french toast I've ever had, along with delicious sausage and bacon and the freshest fruit I've eaten in quite some time. This healthy and delicious meal kept us in her home until 9:15, and because of the change in diet, we all suffered from explosive diarrhea that night (3 times for myself, and it was miserable). When we arrive in Winchester, VA where our show was, the building was very cold and large and sterile. The sound was great though, but the promoters put Aneirin as the headlining band, so we were to perform at 9 PM instead of the anticipated 5 PM. This means we were not able to catch any of the Super Bowl. It also means that I lost a lot of sleep. The show was quite long, so during it I walked around town. There were some excellent sites, though it wasn't busy at all for Super Bowl Sunday. Most places were closed, except for a Thai restaurant and some gas stations. Winchester has an old, historical feel, although it seems geared toward small businesses in the downtown district. I got to see a historical landmark, a cannon shot by George Washington, but really it was just a sad reason to give "tourists" a reason to linger around the business area. My walk was peaceful.

That entire day, my voice was gone from trying to promote Aneirin's merchandise at the venue the night before where smoking was allowed. I was definitely sick as well, perhaps from loss of sleep. I was very glad to leave town when we finally did. I made it to Dalton's house after 1 AM, and on the drive back to Pennsylvania, a cop car pulled behind me and followed me for ten minutes. The reason he finally turned around is probably because I crossed the border. I do understand that policemen have nothing better to do in rural areas at 2 AM. After I got home, dad drove me to campus, and after making my bed, I got to sleep just before 4 AM. At 7:50 AM, I woke up, put on shoes, and headed straight to class, not having showered for quite some time. My classes from 8 AM to 3 PM were wonderful, despite my unconscience state.

This semester will be great, with classes like World Religions and Theology of God and Humanity. I even have a guitar class. I enjoy them all so far, even with the heavy amounts of reading. I will learn a lot.

Tuesdays and Thursdays I have no classes. That has blessed me very much.

I recently heard someone mention a spot in the mountains of Colorado where you can see the curve of the earth. If anyone knows where that is, please let me know, because I would love to hitchhike there this summer.

End part 2 of this blog series.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Big Steps

I woke up in Taylor's home around 11:30 AM after everyone else in the home had been up for awhile. Grabbing a box of Raison Bran, I realized how tired I still was. After a few hours of rolling around the house, the boys decided to go to Zaxby's and Corey told me I had to come, so I got my video camera and we took the van into town. They say you learn something new every day. What I learned today is that I should never accept leftover buffalo chicken even from a nice guy like Johnny. I more than fulfilled my quota of daily acquired knowledge because I also learned that Zaxby's automatic toilets only flush once, so when you stand up after taking a number two, you better wipe yourself efficiently within four seconds or you may clog the toilet. Maybe I'm stereotyping Zaxby's.

We went back to Taylor's home and hung out for another hour or two and then hit the road for the show. We were supposed to follow Flynn but those goofballs took off and left us in the dust so we got very lost and ended up taking much longer than we expected.

The venue was called Ground Zero and naked ladies and profanities were graffitied all over the outside. We walked inside where we saw tour posters of bands that had played there with titles such as "Sex Slaves" and "Cuntree." Needless to say, it had a bar and middle-aged women with fishnet stockings and other aspects associated with described culture.

I set up Aneirin's merchandise next to Flynn's table and chilled there for the majority of the first two bands. The singer of the first band, which was a fairly sweet straight edge group with a My Children My Bride meets Acacia Strain sound, said that he didn't mind playing with all these Christian bands, but his problem was that Christians often proclaim their faith but act hypocritically by going outside afterward and lighting up their joints. During the first band, a friend asked me to pray over him because there was a guy he didn't like in the pit and he felt that he wanted to fight the guy so as we prayed for peace and a humble heart of Christ, I realized that the hardcore scene is where I belong, because that is where spiritual warfare is most relevant in my life. That is where my faith and the faith of my friends are put to the test.

Aneirin took the stage with power and a full, glorious sound. Right from the start, you could tell that Dan already found his niche as front man by the second show. It was my favorite Aneirin set ever out of the dozens I have seen. Dan explained how it was awesome that the guy in the first band said what some people needed to hear. One enjoyable part of the show was the fact that I crowd surfed much longer than normal before I got dropped.

Flynn played a very good set as well, and then an incredible band local to the area called Divide the Sea took the stage. I won't explain their sound or performance. All I will say is that Dan and I spotted the most beautiful female dressed in everyday clothes absolutely tearing up the pit. One must understand that I am not a man that will confidently speak to attractive females. I think there is so much misunderstanding when a guy with a genuine heart (no ego intended) flirts with a female. Anyway, after such a spiritually driven show, I decided it was time that I grow a pair and be vulnerable and when the band stopped playing I jumped off of the amp I was sitting on and went right up to this girl and told her she was the most beautiful girl I had seen in my entire life and we looked at each other and she was grateful but I forget what she said and then I told her thank you and now I'm creating such a fantastic run-on sentence about it. Corey says I have balls of steel for doing what I did. For real, I don't know if I'll ever see another female like this one that throws down with such joy and compassion in her smile, but when I do I will definitely feel more confident approaching her. So yeah, my big break-through moment. Feels good.

A Plea For Purging was heavy as anything I've ever heard. Dozer's "Christian talk" was about how we shouldn't go be Christians because he's on stage and he is a Christian, but we should go home and seriously question what we believe and why we believe it.

I'm also the best merch guy in the universe, ego aside. I burned like two dozen copies of Aneirin's CD and convinced people to purchase them for a few bucks. I got rid of all of them, but I also gave a few away free to select people as gifts: the bartender who got the water for me to give to Aneirin while they played their set, the club owner who gave Aneirin $120 off of the door charge anyway, and the guy from the first band that spoke that thing to challenge Christians. I also sold a significant number of shirts (we only have youth larges and adult larges left). Financially speaking, Aneirin has been making out incredibly these past few days. What kind of independent band makes several hundred dollars traveling hundreds of miles over a three-day weekend? I told Dalton he should consider doing something with the money to benefit people that are dying.

After stopping at a Steak n' Shake, we went to my Aunt Sarah's home in Concord, NC for the night. We showed up after 3 AM and crashed in the house for four hours. I woke up after 8 to the best food of this entire mini-tour: French toast, bacon, sausage, and many fresh fruit options. Everything was so delicious and my extended family was so hospitable. It was great to see my cousins running around in the morning and my Aunt and Uncle welcoming and blessing us. They even gave us muffins, which should hold me over for the rest of the day, reassuring me that I really don't need money to travel. I still haven't spent any. God is good.

Now we are traveling in the van to Winchester, VA - a five hour drive. Here we will play third and leave immediately after our set to go to Johnny's house to watch the super bowl. I have my first classes of the semester at 8 AM, so considering that I will leave Dalton's home in Thurmont at midnight, it could be 3 AM when I get back to school. I am already sleep deprived, so I will now take this opportunity to rest in the van (like the three guys on the bed in the back), but before I do that, I encourage you to read something that I documented yesterday. Just keep in mind that this is before I saw Miss Beautiful in the pit, and don't judge me:

"This could be one of the most important documented realizations of my entire life. It is 10:18 PM, January 31, 2009. I am sitting behind Aneirin's merchandise table, listening to the friend band Flynn play the second-to-last song of their set. The current guitar riff is do-dah-dahhhh - dah-do-dahhhh and now Justin is scream "Jesus Christ" at the top of his lungs. Across from me is A Plea for Purging's merchandise display and fans are gathered around to purchase shirts and CDs. Two females in their lower 20s just walked by in short dresses, single file, lifting their alcoholic beverages to their lips in unison. A horny male puts his hand on the second female's arm as if to gently escort her outside. It is in this moment that I realize I can get anything I could possibly want.

I could be here, handing beers to teenage girls, making small talk, and for that simple labor, I can get laid. It's even simpler than a formula. I can get laid right now. I can have drugs right now. I can mess myself up and get wasted right now. And right now, I want all of these things. How easy it is to do anything I want. It's in an arm's reach, and more and more I feel reason to take it."

Friday, January 30, 2009

Experiencing Aneirin

So last night we stayed at Abby's house in Lynchburg, VA right off of Liberty University's campus. I got to see Lee (music friends for four years) and Jesse (Massachusetts bro from Purple Door several years ago). I realized yesterday that I didn't bring a sleeping bag, and within a few hours of this mini-tour, I lost my pillow. Dalton said that there would be extra sleeping bags in the trailor, but he was wrong. Nevertheless, he is still a good friend and just because I don't have a sleeping bag doesn't mean I don't love him.

Emmy graciously offered a blanket to me last night as I slept on Abby's floor. But between that and my sweet Russian coat that can double as a blanket, I couldn't get comfy enough to get more than four hours of sleep. That's ok though because Abby made delicious potato fries and eggs and bacon for us. We ate it over an intense conversation concerning Corey's approach to the typical western church.

We then drove four hours to Lincolnton, NC to Macedonia Baptist church or something like that. There were only two bands (Aneirin and Flynn) and I was the merch guy and stuff. I run this band. They're nothing without me. Aneirin needs me because I'm awesome and make incredible decisions to benefit them.

So basically the show went well and I did my job as a musical capitalist and went around asking people if they'd buy a CD or a shirt and I made them lots of money because I'm the most important and successful member of this band.

But the real highlight besides my genius business work and administrational duties was the fact that this show was Dan Garcia's first show as Aneirin's front man. He was awesome and did all of the posi frontman moves that I love (super-punching, chest beats, jogging in place while gripping the air, etc).

The brotherhood around me has been so intense and when the guys try to convince me to drop out of college (like Dan did) to tour full-time, I almost consider it. But then I don't.

This has been one of my favorite traveling vehicles. Makes me wonder why my family ever sold our old conversion van.

Road conversations have been so intense and so good in so many ways: theologically, emotionally, even physically.

I haven't spent any money on food. I'm trying to keep that up. I also told myself I wouldn't ask anyone to buy me or give me any food. I've been snacking off of doughnuts (that Kate and I got) and muffins (leftover from my family's house). Also, I took leftover fruit from the venue and Corey unexpectedly bought me a McChicken sandwich for which I am thankful.

We drove to Spartanburg, South Carolina tonight where we are staying in Taylor's house. The members from Flynn and Aneirin are all here, including some other friends. This trip south has been much more about meeting people and having conversation then it has been about traveling. In fact, I haven't really looked outside at much at all.

This is where my relationship with Christ became deep. The hardcore scene is where I belong.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Kate

Kate Wolfkill is a wonderful person and I like to be around her because she's absolutely transparent, and I think if we all were like her in that way, earth would be a far "better place" as they say.


I went to chapel and then waited around campus until Kate was back from her final snowboarding class. Then we left and ate steaks at my family's home. Delicious. The highlight was Dunkin Donuts though because we got like 50 free doughnuts on account of closing time.

We got a few hours of sleep (I slept on the sofa because my brother was in my bed haha), and then we departed for Baltimore, where we parked and caught a train to DC. Train stations are sweet because you see many kinds of people all doing the same thing together. You see so many stories being lived and so many pasts having an effect on the present.

I told Kate I would teach her guitar if she taught me how to nap more efficiently, but despite her wonderful advice, I was relatively unsuccessful and when we arrived at the station to switch to the Metro, I was still pretty exhausted.

I won't give my thoughts on the Holocaust Museum, because you should really see it for yourself. For one, it is free. Also, it's just grand and effective. In fact, genocide today is more relevant than ever before.

We ate Knishes which was a great experience.

Kate's twin/triplet brother who goes to George Washington took us to a local burger joint which was an early dinner. Then we got on the college's bus and got to see both parts of the campus.

My Krislund friend Biz who teaches middle school English picked us up in Alexandria, VA to see her home and eat delicious food in a local Mexican restaurant. I like the food Mexicans create because you can put it all together and that's when it tastes good. For OCD people like myself, it doesn't really matter if the different foods get combined with each other and stuff like that.

We took the Metro and the Marc Train and my station wagon back to Kate's home. Her parents graciously stayed up to welcome me and Kate showed me around and I slept in a big comfy bed. Then I got twelve hours of sleep and Kate woke me up violently with pillows and made me very wonderful scrambled eggs and put my day off to a good start. In fact, we saw the reservoir and we visited her dad's work/business and I met her friend Emma which were all fantastic experiences.

So then I drove home, quickly packed the station wagon, and drove to Dalton's. Then he drove to Wise and exchanged his change for cash ($14). Now I'm typing this and listening to Aneirin practice. So tonight we will leave around 9 PM and arrive in Lynchburg, VA after a four hour trip. From there, we'll drive another 3 hours to Lincolnton, NC for a show Aneirin has.

I noticed many of my depression symptoms arise in the past 24 hours and I'm trying to limit the relapses. It's been awhile (a month and a half) since I've taken my pills and I kinda wish I had brought them back from Messiah. Maybe all of this testosterone around me will help.

Thank you Kate/Wolfkill family. Thank you mom for letting me borrow the Subaru (I parked it in Thurmont, and it's all locked up). Thank you Dan Garcia for joining Aneirin and doing politically incorrect things with your life.

Maybe I'll get some reading done in the van tonight, but more likely I will spend time catching up with old friends, who are all priceless.

To Messiah friends: I miss you.

Monday, January 26, 2009

New Beginnings

New beginnings are lies. We are shaped and formed by past experiences, with or without our own will.

My return to Pennsylvania did not leave me without gratitude. But if my belief that the human heart yearns for adventure (a belief that in my life has not been disproved) is true, I might as well not stop simply because I've returned "home."

Mostly, I just miss journalism.

Again, I am bound to agenda. But although I am not a free man, I will still be content with and appreciative of opportunity. Here's what's goin down:

Jan 28: DC, Holocaust Museum, Kate's home
Jan 29: to be announced, just how I like it: open and unplanned (arrive at Dalton's house to depart for Aneirin tour in evening - spend night in Richmond, VA)
Jan 30: Lincolnton, NC
Jan 31: Spartanburg, SC
Feb 1: Winchester, VA
Feb 2: Classes begin (and maybe I'll start a new blog at that point)

I don't know if I'm going to publicize this blog to my friends or family yet, but either way, I will mostly write for the sake of documenting my experiences. It's fun to go back and read stuff I've done in the past.