Greetings once again, Earthlings, and Happy Blessed Easter!
The purpose of this blog today is to give you a bit of background on myself, as well as how I came to know and love my favorite band, Poets of the Fall. This is based on a blog post I made about a year ago, but I wanted to re-post it so those who don't know have some idea of where I come from, where I stand, and how I think
scary, I know.
efore I do anything, however, I do wish to express my deepest condolences to the family of Thomas Kinkade, the Painter of Light, who tragically died today at the young age of 54.
Yes, I think 54 is young.)
***********************************************************************************Written Feb. 11th, 2011:
So the one job I've held onto the longest is as a security guard. Lately, I've been wondering more and more why I've kept it so long. The pay is usually quite low, we're almost always the bottom of the totem pole in authority (read: unarmed) and most gigs we have are temporary, one-night events. Since I have such a lack of stability, I can never get the medical coverage I want. So why have I kept it for so long? Well, tonight I think I was reminded. Or perhaps, I was reminded of something I didn't know I'd lost.
I decided to become a guard way back in 2006 as a way to see that, if I was good, if I'd like taking the next step and being a prison guard. I admit, it's a crazy idea but it seemed to make sense at the time. It was a very unstable time for me. I'd just given up all hope of graduating college with my second Associate degree in Graphic Design because a car accident in 2004 forced me to work full time. I had grown to hate Graphic Design, and thus hate art, and therefore it felt like I was feeding myself poison. I had also grown to really hate my job, which was as a call center operator. I was a troubleshooter for a fairly respectable product, and I worked with nice people-fellow geeks, mostly. It was the job itself I came to loathe. Basically, people called to yell at me all day. It got to where I was physically sick every morning, I dreaded it so much. One day I walked in, sat down, and realized I was unable to put on my headset anymore. I walked out and felt nothing but relief. Jobless, yes. No more formal education, yes. Yet I was free.
When I saw the ad for a security guard and realized I could work nights, I remembered what I loved best about being a CNA (Certified Nurses' Aide.) I loved the (mostly) quiet evenings where I could just sit and think. I hadn't done that in a long time, and when I was hired, it was like a breath of fresh air. I could read, I could draw (and not have to worry about homework) and I could start making sense of the chaos that is my daily life. I also rekindled my interest in a band I'd fallen in love with back in 2004 called Poets of the Fall (www.poetsofthefall.com). I originally discovered them, as most American fans had, by playing a game called Max Payne II-The Fall of Max Payne. As their hit single, Late Goodbye, played in full during the closing credits, I remember getting up and almost hitting the buttons to see if it would skip over it.
And then...for no particular reason, I sat down.I listened.
I don't remember thinking about anything specific. I never thought, "EUREKA!" or "Hallelujah!" When the song was over, I played it again. And again. There was something about that song that was nudging me, and as an artist, writer, and poet, I had long ago learned to pay attention to the nudges I was sent. Oprah's pet name for this is the "A-ha Moment." Someone or something was telling me to sit up and pay attention, because this little something is special. I didn't know why, I didn't know for what, but Lord only knows what would have happened had I missed it. I watched for the name of the song's creator, and the name also nudged me. You have to admit the name Poets of the Fall is just plain cool.
So I went to the site, and I fell in love with music in a way I hadn't ever before. And I sing, people. I've sung all my life and I do it pretty well. My voice is what helped get my first college degree; that's how I know. It was on the Poets' website I began writing (and occasionally critiquing) poetry that was far more illustrious, and more serious than anything I had ever done before. I was writing stories. I was drawing for myself again. I was chipping away at a wall I hadn't known was there. Or perhaps I had, but had long ago given up trying to knock it down.
When I heard the Poets' next song, Lift, the wall, or the dam, broke. Well, a better word is disintegrated. Like a phoenix screaming back to life, suddenly my creative spirit was free. I could paraphrase a line from a song by another favorite band of mine, Skillet, and say I was awake and I was alive. The geyser of happiness I felt was so overwhelming, I was actually a little frightened. To me, misery was normal. Happiness, joy, and simple satisfaction of a job well done in what I loved-all that was utterly foreign to me. But I was awake. My newborn awareness made me realize I never wanted to go back to that again. Ever.
Returning to the year 2006, of course old habits die a slow, agonizing death, and I was almost back to where I started. I hadn't purchased the Poets' music because I had been deathly paranoid about ordering online. Back then, it was still rather new and novel. Therefore, my interest had waned.
However, I had found a new love, which was auctions. I loved going to auctions with my father and just seeing the hodge-podge of stuff, and the skirmishes and battles to buy them for a good price. It was almost like gambling, and so when I got curious about eBay, also sort of new, I investigated and found it pretty reliable. (I know some of you will groan, but to this day I can only count on one hand how many problems I've had so far.) So, as I took stock and settled into my new job, with my birthday looming with the big number 3-0, I decided to get myself a really nice present, and bought The Poets' first album, Signs of Life.
I listened, and that same dam was destroyed beyond repair, never to close up my heart again, though not for lack of trying. My awareness however, has since taken a sledgehammer and used it accordingly from time to time.
What is it about these guys? Somehow they have found the perfect blend. They know what makes a good song, and they know how to make it work. They have beautiful, visual lyrics, a soulful, very talented lead singer whose range alone is just shy of miraculous, skillfully played melodies and harmonies full of emotive power, and they put the entire package together all by themselves, without any big music company kahunas telling them what to do and how to do it.
Until I heard Poets of the Fall, I had never given the technical side of music any real thought. Not once did I ever wonder how a good song is put together. All my life I was given sheet music and or a tape/CD and told to perform, which I did dutifully. Of course, I enjoyed it too, but it was just something fun, one thing I could be proud of when everything else in my life seemed to fall painfully short of my expectations. Nobody could quite understand, neither in school nor my family, why I never pursued music or voice further. At the time I thought, if I wanted to sing pro, it would have to be my own songs, otherwise it felt like I was cheating. I could write poems, but I couldn't write songs. I didn't know how, and I never felt a nudge to learn, and so I thought I wasn't supposed to. I thought that was never going to be part of my lot in life. (I have since grown to treat the words "supposed to" with great suspicion, and often with contempt.)
So, to end this tangent, the Poets have forever changed my point-of-view of many things, and helped me at a time where I was reinventing myself and finding new answers to old questions. I grew up in a world where the answer "No" was so common, it stopped occurring to me that "Yes" was even possible. I was learning to say Yes to myself.
Fast forward a few more years, and I'm finding that being a guard has its perks, but not for someone who has the big 3-5 looming on the horizon. I tried. I really tried but I find myself falling into old habits of self-sabotage, of which I am an unfortunate master. It's almost a knee-jerk reflex. The dark wall has never given up trying, and neither have I, but I admit that I am tired. It's time for another change. I'm starting to wonder if my lot in life is to be a transient chameleon. I've adapted to so many careers and tried on so many different hats, is there really just one job, one path for me? At this point I'm willing to try just about anything, which is how I found my current second job, a Sensory Panelist, which is another name for Professional Taste Tester. I discovered that I really enjoy this because I get to speak with an interesting, eclectic panel that consists of people who are almost as eccentric as I am and perhaps more.
However, my other job as a guard interferes with my enjoyment of this other job, because of my strange, often unpredictable hours. Over the past 2 years I've gotten sick more often than I have for most of my life. (The only other time was when I was a CNA. If one resident got sick, we all got it one way or another.) It's been a difficult tug-of-war, but I have felt that familiar feeling I got as a call operator closing in on me, and that scares the living daylights out of me because I do not want to repeat walking out again. This security company has been very good to me, and has always found me work, even though it rarely finds anything permanent, which isn't really their fault. When I leave, and I think it might be soon (a possible nudge told me) I want to leave on good terms.
Still, earlier this evening, I was reminded why I became a guard. I was stationed at the Memorial Student Union in Madison until it closed at midnight. I had never been there before, and my role was just as a visual reminder to behave, pretty much. The only thing I didn't like was that I had to feed the parking meter, but that's downtown Madison. The building alone was gorgeous! This was a grand old structure, with marbled columns and giant ballrooms with a stage, an art gallery, movie theaters, plenty of kitschy food areas and a giant sitting room with actual working fireplaces. The students, which were a good blend of all ages, behaved themselves quite well, and everyone I made solid eye contact with nodded at me with a smile. The uniform probably helped, but a thought suddenly struck me.
I realized I was surrounded by fellow geeks, which is something I haven't had in ages. This building housed everything I love: art, music, theater, and even dance! There was something called a Contra Dance class that I ended up watching for a good chunk of my shift. It's type of folk dance that is a near cousin to square-dancing. Men and women of all ages, shapes, sizes and abilities were having a great time without being rowdy. As I walked up and down the halls I studied the various art pieces that graced the walls on every floor, and could just barely hear a performance of The Virgin Monologues.
Oh, I was so filled with an unbelievable longing. I ached for the things I forgot I did enjoy when I was studying Graphic Design. The camaraderie, the challenge a new assignment gave me, etc. I felt so at home in this environment that I was sorry to leave. I had a hard time remembering the last time I felt that at work! I can't wait to go back there again. What corporate exec gets to do stuff like this?! I got to people watch all night! (Okay, that sounded creepy...oh well.)
So, was this another awakening? I think so. At least I think it was another nudge. For what, I don't know, but I'm listening.
Fast forward to present day, and I now have a third part-time job, in retail at Family Christian, which is like a Hallmark's, only with a Christian theme. I truly do enjoy it there, as we do more than just sell books and trinkets. We send a message. We work with The James Fund, a charity that helps widows and orphans. We help lots of children all over the world get sponsored through World Vision (look them up!) I get to listen to some really awesome music all day, like Newsboys and Casting Crowns.
What a whirlwind of a year so far. Lots of highs and lows. I start with news that one of my job assignments is ending, start taking a correspondence course for cartooning, then find out the car I just got needs more work than my old one that I just sold. I get the news about the musical review, decide to make it into a vlog, and in the same day I hear my friend has to go to the hospital and that it's pretty serious. (Note: she's going to be okay.) I finally start getting somewhere again with the story I want to create, I get a raise, and within a week find out that position will be ending in a few months.
As if living in Tornado Alley wasn't dizzying enough! Well, if variety is the spice of life, and I've often said I want my life to be very spicy, then this year is shaping up to be quite a jalapeño! I guess I'll just have to see what happens next, keep an open mind and open eyes for those little nudges that have helped me along. In any case, I welcome the journey, and I hope you will, too.