Take Me Back to 2001…

In 2001, I was fifteen years old.  Where every mistake, rejection, and rude comment made you feel like it was the end of the world.  Getting lost in a lyric, a story in a book, a film, my favorite television show, or in the dance studio was my way of dealing with it.  The entertainment industry was my escape, and still is to this day.

Los Angeles is a big high school.  A sea of people craving approval from society.  Hoping that one day they will be accepted into the inner circle.  Every criticism is exactly what Simple Plan fought.  They rejected the normal and craved for people to understand the outcast.  On Saturday night, I got to see one of my favorite bands, Simple Plan, play at the Wiltern in Los Angeles.  It has been 15 years since their first album came out.  It brought me back to a more carefree time.  Remembering how one band or one song can have a such a huge impact on your life.  As I stood in the venue, I looked around at the crowd.  People of all ages from teenagers to adults in their thirties and forties; all affected by the band that was about to take the stage.  To this day, their message hasn’t changed and it still affects everyone that has ever felt like the outsider.

Before Simple Plan took the stage there were two opening acts – Seaway and Set It Off.  Both bands killed it!  Going to concerts like this brings music alive again with strong guitars, energetic drums, and lyrics that fight to give the quiet kid a voice.  It’s not like rap or pop music.  There seems to be more meaning behind rock music that gives it an edge.  It can connect on another level of the developed musical phrasing, the piecing together of the different instruments into a cohesive sound, and the lyrical versing that can help you get lost.  Seaway was the first to step out on stage.  They seem like they are still working on finding their live voice, and how to bring energy to an audience who doesn’t know who they are.  There was a song that really stood out to me and that was “Best Mistake” off of their “Colour Blind” album.  Maybe why it struck a chord was it was the epitome of 90s rock where it sounds like one loud mix of multiple instruments fighting for the lead with an overlay of screaming the lyrics over the guitars.  It brought me back to the night of staying up too late in college where my friends and I were wandering around the streets of a small town singing random songs that we barely knew the words to as we attempted to do piggyback races down the street.  Why I say it was my best mistake?  Well, the night ended with a bloody face (because someone got dropped), a hand being slammed in a car door, and a crying girlfriend, but it was still one of those nights that was the best because it was simple.  We were just a bunch of 21-year-olds having fun on a Saturday night.

Set It Off had so much energy.  If Fall Out Boy and The Summer Set had a baby I’m pretty sure it would have been this band.  The lead singer Cody Carson has the powerhouse voice and talking fast talents of Patrick Stump and the rasp of Brian Dales.  Can we talk about heaven, because that is Cody’s voice.  Set It Off started as a band back in 2008 and even though some members have changed out over the years they have had a solid crew since 2010 which includes, Cody Carson, Maxx Danziger, Dan Clermont, and Zach DeWall.  One of the best things about going to a live concert is you get to experience new bands that you may have never heard before.  Set It Off was one of those bands for me and their song “Something New” really brought me out of a funk I was feeling that day.  I have been getting lost in my own head lately.  Worrying about never truly being happy.  Never finding that career that I seem to be looking for constantly.  Worrying that those people that love and support me will somehow disappear.  Feeling frustrated that others are moving faster towards a future with that one person that totally understands them.  At least isn’t that how it always feels because of the images that projected all over social media?  The lyrics go:

“I think it, I say it, I write it, erase it,
And break my back so I don’t let you down,
I’m restless and twisted, strung out, addicted
To chasing after picture perfect sound.

And if there’s one thing in my life,
That I’ve been fighting day and night,
Well, it’s my fear of flying standby,
I feel I’ve opened up my eyes,
I shook the nightmare from my mind,
I checked the clock and now it’s my time.

So lemme show you something new,
I need a little revolution,
This could be like a revelation,
Make you see oh that a change is overdue,
Lemme show you something new”

It was like listening to a song that was saying exactly what I was thinking at that time.  Worried about standing still, the need of something new, and being so twisted and strung out from all the thinking that you just want to scream and throw every responsibility out the window.  That excitement to try something that scares every fiber of your being but you do it anyway.  It is time for that push to jump off the cliff.  Is it weird that I thrive on change, but crave the comfort of the people that have known me forever?  It’s almost like wanting to try different things, but know that a safety net is going to catch you if you fall flat on your face.  After hearing “Something New” I had to watch the music video and that thought process of wanting your friends by your side that you trust indefinitely while doing something scary, it doesn’t seem so scary anymore to do something new.

When Simple Plan stepped on stage the crowd went crazy.  It was like the fire was finally ignited and the audience was ready to get lost in a song that they knew.  The band played their entire first album cover to cover including the song that really skyrocketed their career  “I’m just a Kid.”  It was a song that was really ingrained in my high school years like Green Day’s “American Idiot” album.  The years 1998-2006 were the years of the rock and punk bands.  It was like guitar exploded on the radio – Simple Plan, Green Day, Fall Out Boy, All American Rejects, Fountains of Wayne, Bowling for Soup, Offspring, Blink 182…etc.  It was the years of thought-provoking lyrics, music that you felt understood your angst as a teenager, and those fun tunes that you would sing randomly with your best friends when you locked yourself in your bedroom as you danced around jumping your bed as your parents yelled at you to turn down the noise.

Living in Los Angeles has been an adventure the last few years.  Unlike going to other concerts on the east coast where you talk to those strangers that you don’t know because you have the same favorite song, and make new friends with those people standing next to you all night, where everyone has a tendency to stick to their own group that they came with at the event.  It’s like sticking to the status quo and if you talk to that person next to you then you might not be the coolest one the in the room anymore.  Simple Plan played a few songs that were off their second album – “Crazy” and “Welcome To My Life.”  Both were popular back in 2003 and are still an anthem for every emo kid to ever exist.  When they began to play the song “Crazy” it got me thinking about life in LA.  The conversations that you overhear about money, dating, and lifestyle.  I haven’t met very many real people out here.  It seems like the whole city is masked which makes it difficult to make friends because you don’t know if someone wants to become friends with you because of what you do or where you work, or if it is because they actually like you as a person.  The city is very materialistic.  It is more important about the car you drive, what you wear, and what you look like than about who you are as a person.  I think when Simple Plan played that song “Crazy” it really went above everyone’s head in the venue.  Did anyone in the audience really understand it?  That it is about people, and caring about people and the person that we are as individuals.  Maybe someday LA will open up their eyes, but for now, I leave you with “Crazy.”

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The Story of Another Us

Opening Scene to The Man In The High Castle Series

Opening Scene to The Man In The High Castle Series

Currently, I am obsessed with the show Man In The High Castle.  Just in case you have missed this epic piece of awesomeness, the whole basis of the show centers around Germany and Japan winning World War II.  In this alternate reality, Japan occupies the west side of the United States and Germany placed their home base on the east side.  Throughout each episode, the characters make choices that in turn affect not only their lives but everyone around them.  Whether it is in an alternate reality or real life each action has a reaction.  It could be good or bad, but it makes you question what would you do?

We all put ourselves into these scenarios thinking that we would do the “right thing” if the roles were reversed but it is human nature to react in self-preservation verse protection.  Of course, there are exceptions to that rule – a parent and a child or siblings, but if you think about it that is family.  If you had a choice to stop your family from getting shot versus 20 children who are strangers who are you going to choose?

The United States is throwing around hate left and right thinking that it is going to fix the issues we have as a country.  Is an egotistical and hateful man president – yes.  Did he get voted into office based on fear, hate, and hope for change – yes.  Now before you jump down my throat, I said hope for change, not hope for good change.  The majority of society doesn’t understand what real struggle is like and no I’m not talking about not having the latest iPhone.  I’m talking about not having enough food for your family even after working 12 hours a day week after week.  We go back to what I said at the beginning which is the majority of people do things for their own self-preservation, not for the greater good of society.  So, here is my political message – the sooner you understand others reasons for their choices and decisions, the better you can arm yourself with a defense to get them to see a different side that could be better for them.

We question the what if – What if the trade centers were never hit by terrorists would US soldiers be fighting in the Middle East?  If Hillary Clinton was president we think things would be different because she cares more about the people than about business?  We put hope into people making selfless acts, but 80% of people are not like that.  Living in Los Angeles I see it every day from the way most LA drivers put everyone at risk with their recklessness because they are late, to a young person not giving up their seat on the train for an older handicap adult who is fitting to stand up.  Don’t get me wrong I do the same thing when I see homeless people begging on the street.  LA numbs you to certain things as you see some people who really need help and others that are playing the system.  Plus, the first thing I think is I work hard for my money why would I give it to some random person I don’t know.  Society isn’t selfless.  In my entire 30 years of life, I have met one man who was selfless and that was my grandfather.  Someone who I’ve never known to act in his own self-interest but in everyone else’s.  We think about stories the way that they could be like it is a story of another us.  An image of hope.  The thought that an alternate reality could be better, but it could be worse in other ways.  The song by 5 Seconds of Summer (The Story of Another Us) goes:

“One last stitch and new beginnings
So take this heart, put yourself in it
The surprise ending I’m depending on
Could be the story of another us”

Be the change you want to see in others.  Be the inspiration to create hope for someone else.  Just like in physics for every action, there is a reaction.  Your choice could change the course of one person’s life which could change the whole world.  “…bet on people.  No matter what the world said, who they were, who they should be…One selfless act of love and hope.  That is what I put my money on.” – The Man In The High Castle

The Desperate Moment You Must Choose Your Direction…

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100s of Dog tags of men who lost their lives in the Pacific

There comes a time in every life where you must decide what is right.  Is it right to disregard others opinions?  Is it right to not hear another’s view?  Will you fight for what is right?  Or will you let others tell you what is right?  Will you embrace everything that is in your heart?  Or will you turn a blind eye in protest and use only words instead of action?  Each day you chose whether to move forward or to ignore what is right in front of you.  When you visit the National Cemetery in Washington DC or the Pacific National Cemetery in Honolulu look at the death dates.  Walking up and down aisle after aisle you see hundreds of men who lost their lives before it even began.  Freedom has a cost, and I believe that much of society has forgotten what that cost is today.

Currently, the United States of America is divided.  Relationships of families, friends, and colleagues are in disarray and instead of taking action we protest.  Protesting is a great tool to garner attention from the media, especially when it comes to the large masses.  One of the things I never understood about protesting is what happens after the march and the gathering has conclude?  Well, in the 21st century we then take to social media to spread our opinions.  We yell and argue with the people that we claim to care about instead of having discussions, and we shut off our ears to everyone else that doesn’t agree with our own views.  The saying goes “Evil triumphs only when good men do nothing,” but the real saying should be, Evil triumphs only when good people don’t take action.

Reading can be a great power in an administration that you don’t agree with their actions, their history, or their plans for the future of America.  Education Security nominee, Betsy DeVos is not someone I want in charge of our youth or education and it is more than just Trump nominating her.  She is a billionaire that inherited everything from Daddy, has no concept of the working man’s dollar and has had a privileged life, never struggling to pay off a student loan or worried that she is living in the right county for her children to get the best public education.  Of course, the majority of the government is filled with people just like her.   Living in their warped little bubble.  The biggest issue I have is she wants to privatize all public education and in turn will make education just like health care in this country.  Costs being astronomical, companies not making the best educational decisions or the needs of students when their bottom line is more important, and finally, for-profit charters that weed out the low performing and at-risk children to highlight only the gifted (Alan Singer, Huffington Post).

Society fears what Trump is going to do, but as Marie Curer said, “Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood.  Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”  Personally, Vice-President Mike Pence‘s views are even worse than Trump’s.  Pence once said publicly “I long for the day that Roe v. Wade is sent to the ash heap of history.”  He is the epitome of an uncompassionate man who lacks the understanding, grace or knowledge to make an informed decision about women, LGBTs, or children.  His ideas on education, women’s rights or human decency is that of someone from the 1940s in a totalitarian government.  His views are the only right ones in his mind and everyone else is wrong.  Mr. Pence, for someone who has two daughters I question everything you stand for, and unlike you, I look deep into why a person does what they do, and I know your argument is going to be based on religion.  Well here is a little religious lesson for you, John 7.24 – “Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.”  Can you say you have experience anything a woman has gone through in her life?   Can you understand why thousands of women were protesting over the last week?  What if it was your daughter who needed an abortion because having the baby could kill her?  What if it was your daughter who was raped and was impregnated with a baby of the man that disregarded her as an object instead of a person?  The worst regret in life we can have is not the wrong things we did, but the “right” things we did for the wrong people.  Mr. Pence, you need to start looking in the mirror and question why you believe what you believe.

First thing I would like to state is no I did not vote for Trump and no I did not vote for Hilary.  Now, before you tell me that I wasted my vote and that it was protest vote not worth anything let me tell you that everyone’s vote in a democracy is worth something.  I took action in what I believed in and it was neither in favor of the democratic or republican candidates that were put in front of me (side note: Bernie Sanders all the way).  That is what makes us a democracy.  That is what makes us a free nation.  The freedom of choice.  People have died for us to have that choice.  Eleanor Roosevelt once said “Do what you feel in your heart to be right- for you’ll be criticized anyway.  You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.”  Action is what matters.  Don’t just protest or post on social media what you feel is wrong.  Get involved by taking action.  Volunteer at an abusive woman’s shelter, donate to an arts program, raise funds by doing a 5K for endangered animals, or become a big brother/ sister to an underprivileged child.  Make a difference in more than just words.  Start to really listen to each other.  John Lennon said it best,

“You say you’ve got a real solution
Well, you know
We’d all love to see the plan”

A Voice With An Old Soul

In light of recent events, it can be difficult to have faith in our government, other people in society, and our health care system.  This past week the United States has experienced the largest mass-shooting casualties in this country at a night club in Orlando, Florida where 49 are dead and 53 are in the hospital for gun-shot wounds.  When did society get like this?  It feels like reading about a mass shooting has become a daily routine; fearing for family and friends on a daily basis.  We need to take back this country.  There needs to be stronger security at the doors of night clubs, concerts, public events where the only thing that you are allowed to bring is anything that is in a clear plastic bag.  Sporting events have metal detectors and regulations on bags so why isn’t it enforced in other areas of entertainment?  History is always doomed to repeat itself unless we learn from it.  We live in a different world now, one where mental illness is ignored, extremists are a huge threat, and where getting a gun seems to be like getting candy at a convenient store.

Now, I understand that the right to bear arms is apart of the constitution and that people hunt, but did you know that 36 people die daily from gunshot wounds and that guns are rarely used in a self defense situation?  We need to reconnect with humanity.  We need to show that love, support, and peace overcomes violence, hatred, and power.  This is not just a one time incident that is going to go away.  We see powerful figures like Donald Trump spout hatred on a daily basis in his presidential campaign yet still a large percentage of American society supports him and we expect to protect ourselves through war, brute force, and more violence?  Violence only causes more violence and to stop it we need to take a look at the deeper issue that is causing all of it.

You know that saying, “That person has an old soul.”  I heard that a lot throughout my youth and I think I am now starting to understand it’s true meaning.  People who have old souls connect with difficult situations on an emotional level that indescribable.  We understand situations well beyond our years.  We hurt for people we don’t know.  Every time I read about a mass-shooting, a killing of a young adult’s life destroyed by a senseless act of violence (Christina Grimme), or a shooting of yet another parent who’s children now have to grow up without their father/ mother (UCLA Shooting) breaks my heart and I cry every time I hear about them.  In a world where the threat is no longer overseas and is beckoning at our front doors, we need to find the hope to believe that most people are truly good.  We need to learn to find closure when none can be found, when an action can’t be explained.

Close your eyes and turn on the voices of Billie Holiday, Amy Winehouse, Frank Sinatra, Angelina Jordan, or Grace VanderWaal.  These voices can take you to another world full of empathy, heart, and compassion that people have difficulty expressing.  Why is it so hard to tell someone you love them or cry in front of a person that cares about you.  Society has this thought that crying or showing emotion is a sign of weakness, but I think it is a sign of strength; it shows vulnerability and humility.  Something that we can all use a lesson in.  In the words of Jimi Hendrix, “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”

I’m Breaking Free and Introducing Me…

This past weekend was a flashback to my childhood as Disney Channel had a whole weekend full of Disney Channel Original Movies in celebration of the 100th movie premiere. It is always the nostalgia that makes us wish for simpler times where memories flood back like a waterfall and you wished every day you could break into song for no reason without someone giving you side-eye.

The storylines don’t change much – finding yourself, learning that people are more important than things, and understanding that having integrity can lead to success. These popular television movies have catchy tunes that tie each story together, whether it is a full-blown musical or a theme song, it bring the soul alive and revives a little child in all of us.

Watching all these movies made realize that two songs really stand-out from the crowd for me which are “Breaking Free” from High School Musical and “Introducing Me” from Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam; both were written by the same person – Jamie Houston. Lyrically, these songs have a vulnerability to them. The ability to show someone your true self. In a world full of judgements and status quo, people constantly trying to put you in a box that formulates to their own images of who they think you are can make you feel like the walls are always closing in, but “Breaking Free” is a duet that creates a bubble that negative opinions can’t penetrate.

“You know the world can see us
In a way that’s different than who we are
Creating space between us
‘Til we’re separate hearts
But your faith it gives me strength
Strength to believe
We’re breakin’ free”

As an adult, have you ever notice that the first thing we ask people when meeting them is what do you do for work? In college, you ask someone where they are from? In high school, you ask someone what activities they are into, but in elementary school it simple. You ask someone if they want to play. When we meet people, we try anyway to connect with someone, but when you are young there are no walls up. You are an open book, honest and truthfully. Your heart is on your sleeve and telling someone your most intimate secrete isn’t terrifying.

“If you wanna know, here it goes.
Gonna tell you there’s a part of me that shows,
If we’re close, gonna let you see everything,
But remember that you asked for it.
I’ll try to do my best to impress,
But it’s easier to let you take a guess, at the rest,
But you wanna hear what lives in my brain, my heart,
Well, you asked for it
For your perusing,
At times confusing,
Possibly amusing…
Introducing me!”

Find something to hold on to. Beauty, art, and music are important, it gives people hope. So, in hopes that the rest of you let that wall down a little and really tell us who you are; here is a little about me:

Reading is my favorite past time
And I get truly excited when lyrics rhyme
Listening to violins brings me peace of mind
And when you smile I know it is all going to be just fine
So remember that I’m right here
No judgement from me should you fear
And in time that wall will come down
In hopes that laughter and imagination will always be around

For music click here!