Anniversary

*because a good, good friend of mine requested that this be put out in all blogs that I have currently, present and future. and because I’m an idiot and keep putting off stuff, I’m posting this almost 3 months late ;) It isn’t a long stretch to say I’m neglecting this blog, and all other social media outlets under my jurisdiction. But that’s another story (and blog entry) in itself ;) *

Last June marked my one year anniversary of entering young adult life. That is to say that I finally got off my lazy behind and got a job to pay my bills at home (as nice as my parents are to me, they weren’t about to fund my various guitar projects with their own money). I wasn’t alone: Facebook was bursting with status updates, pictures and hashtags (yes, apparently Facebook now does hashtags) from my other workmates as we celebrated, albeit online, the fact that we had all managed to together survive the ups and downs of being gainfully employed.

I’m sure that all the tears, laughs and temper tantrums that had been shared between all of us had made us better people. It’d be a crying shame if it didn’t. I have a deeply respected mentor who was often chagrined when people began celebrating anniversaries. It wasn’t the making merry and having fun that got on his nerves; it was when these became the only reason for celebrating anniversaries. Anniversaries, he often said, were times for looking back, distilling whatever we could from looking back, and moving on. Otherwise, we’d be stuck in a cycle of “eating the same sweet-style spaghetti and singing the same sappy songs” year in and year out.

I get where he’s coming from, and can certainly see the necessity for “looking over your shoulder”. Anniversaries are great, celebrating with friends is great, and laughing over what transpired during the year is great. But to fail to ask what the year taught us in passing? That’s kind of overlooking the entire point of the anniversary, isn’t it? If a company celebrates its 50th anniversary, the huge commemoration of the event should go hand in hand with a sobering note that hard work, blood, sweat and tears were given out for this company to keep on existing. Dumb luck won’t keep anyone’s business afloat for that long. If a couple celebrates their silver wedding anniversary, they need to look back and remember that to keep the marriage going until death does them part, they need to commit to loving each other, even when there are times that’s not so simple to do.

To my workmates who are reading this (and even to those who aren’t), it’s great that we’ve been on the company’s payroll for a year already. Let’s not forget the implicit lesson that, being tenured workers, much more will be expected from us. Let’s not shy away from the challenges, even when they seem insurmountable. What doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger.

As for me, I spent anniversary night writing this article and editing another one for my sideline work. Go figure, the year has taught me what my priorities are (and hopefully I don’t need to hashtag anything on Facebook to emphasize my point).

 

Yep.

Introducing the newest member of the family…

…..and by family I mean my guitar’s pedalboard :D

3Can you guys tell I was just a liiiiittle bit excited?

2

1

And with his/her fellow brothers/sisters on the board:

4

After all these photos, and the endless fawning over this pedal before it actually arrived, the only thing left to do now is to actually test drive it. Which is probably the most important part of getting a new pedal ;) Forgetful me ;)

In Other News….

….this post will have nothing to do with basketball, guitars, or guitars playing basketball. Neither is this about updating my guitar gear. Now that that’s out of the way, I present to everyone:rockJust to clear the air, we’re not talking about the model guitar. We’re talking about the rock. Which happens to be a pet rock that a good friend gave to me. A pet rock that I have decided to name “The Rock Now Currently Known As Dwayne Johnson”, or, The Rock for short.

I’m not entirely sure which is stranger, the fact that most of my friends are crazy enough to do this, or the fact that I’m crazy enough to do the same things to them. It’s probably a little bit of both. Sometimes, it can get World-War-3 frustrating with those guys. Most of the time, however, I’m glad they’re my friends ;)

A friend is someone who will bail you out of jail. A best friend is the one sitting next to you saying “boy was that fun”.

*and to my friend, whoever that may be: I got The Rock a guitar. a life-sized rock-guitar. Be proud of me.

Just because I’m not allowed to end an entire post about The Rock and forget this quote.

Consistently Inconsistent

(As much as the title can also be referring to my blog and/or exercise habits, no. But I have been pretty terrible at both of those as of late ;) )

- So after the NBA concludes it’s 2012-2013 season (and despite the fact that my bet, the Houston Rockets, were eliminated from contention almost two months prior to that), my nights are suddenly empty. No more huddling over after dinner to watch the highlights from the games for the day, at least, not until around November. This should leave me with more time to write and promote this blog. Right? Right?

- Just to lay it out while everything’s still fresh: I like basketball. I like LeBron James and the Miami Heat. As much as I wanted them to not be champs this year, they were. Props to them for that. What I don’t like are rabid fans that take everything too personally. Fellas, it’s a perfect time to be watching TV and slapping high fives with total strangers (which is what my brother and I did  watching the 2006 playoffs at a grillhouse in Hong Kong) and you’re threatening to wipe out each other’s families over trash-talk? There’s hardly enough time in a day to get our stuff done, let’s not waste it hating each other for comments that won’t matter in a week or two.

So am I saying we group hug and make up? Maybe. Yeah, somewhere in the realm of  ” maybe definitely not”.

- Played last Sunday service with a very minimalistic approach. And humbuckers.  Loads of tones and textures to be found by playing around with the volume knob, a wah pedal and amp overdrive. World of difference between single coils and humbuckers. As much as single coil pickups on guitars can sing at certain settings, there’s something about the thickness of the sound of humbucking pickups that “spoke” to me that particular week. At least, I’m hoping it spoke to me well enough that I wasn’t a distraction on stage last Sunday :D

- Despite me going all “fanboy” for humbucking pickups, there’s no way I’m trading in my old faithful (which I’ve blogged about before). I’m putting this as a disclaimer before my Strat gets all emotional and refuses to let me play it for a month ;).

- Recently our church’s direction had been to include more hymns into our Sunday worship services. It’s been a terrifying experience for me, to say the least. Not terrifying in a sense that we have to think of new ways to rearrange these hymns; that part has been pretty fun so far ( where, for me,  rearranging hymns = playing it like U2 would. uhuh. yes. very original). The terrifying part starts when I’m singing these songs and noticing how, many times, it seems like my words have become consistently inconsistent with my walk. Is it possible to sing “Holy, Holy, Holy” with closed eyes, loud voices and raised hands and then proceed to use “holy” in conjuction with a word that rhymes with “spit” the next instant? It very well may be; I’ve done the same thing more times than I can count. It’s those situations where, to paraphrase A.W Tozer, we first declare how we are nothing before God  and then next proceed to give snide remarks to that server who can’t seem to get our lunch orders right.  Is God’s grace more than enough to cover for these slip-ups that happen? Of course. But we (meaning me, myself and I) could put up more of an effort to closely match our walk and talk. The book of John talks about people knowing us as Christ-followers for our love and compassion for one another, and it disappoints me to think of how many people have known me to be a Christ-follower based on how condescending and holier-than-thou I was (just like “all other” Christ-followers had been).

Not that I wanted this post to end on a heavy note, but it’s been something that I’ve been running through my head for quite some time now. I know that something exciting will come up and I’ll probably forget about all my self-examination after that, but really, I’d rather not. I’d like to think I’m mature enough to know that true worship is not when I’m onstage, amps blaring and guitar swinging wildly in the air, but in times when no one is watching and I think I can compromise a little, but don’t. It’s time those moment became more consistent with my “resumé”, so to speak. And over and above anything, God’s grace is larger and deeper than anyone can comprehend. There’s a perfect reason, as one of my pastor’s put it, that the song was entitled “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” and not “Great Is MY Faithfulness”. It puts a level of comfort that, despite my efforts falling short most of the time, greater still is grace that pushes me to keep trying and trying until I get it right.

But since a new toy of mine is arriving within this week, I’ll probably forget everything I just posted up there ;)

As shiny and sleek as that looks? No. Not forgetting. I think.

Changing (My Guitar Strings)

(Once upon a time, I had a blog. and I used to post on it. Now, I have resumed posting. Intermittently. And whenever the time allows me ;) but I still post on it ;) )

In my striving to be a better guitar player, I’ve hit a few peaks and valleys in my 8 year quest to be the next Jimi Hendrix. Last month happened to be one of those down moments where I couldn’t tell the difference between a B major chord and a bumblebee (cue groans and eye rolling at bad joke). Then, in one groundbreaking move, I was able to snap myself out of my funk: I changed my guitar’s strings.

 

For the past month or so, I had been playing strings one gauge too high for my liking in the hopes that my fingers would adjust to the new challenge (to simplify, it’s like lifting 10-15 pounds of extra weight in the gym because you want to push yourself). Long story short, my fingers never did, and I’d end up with shredded fingertips after every two days of playing. Of course, my pride would not allow me to “downgrade” because bigger strings (supposedly) sounded much better, and real guitarists (supposedly) never backed down from the challenge of “fighting” their strings. In the end, I swallowed a big heaping portion of my pride, grudgingly accepted that gigantic strings simply didn’t fit my play style and made the switch. The weekly bout of sore hands and shredded fingertips wasn’t worth the machismo.

 

Massive string bends. It hurts sooo gooood.

In a lot of other things, over and above changing guitar strings, trying to be something “outside your play style” can be tiring. This is not to say we never attempt to change for the better. Changing oneself is good, especially when it means taking some perceived weakness or character flaw and correcting it. But for a die-hard bookworm to attempt to be part of the soccer team’s starting lineup for nothing else but “increased personal worth”? That’s as absurd as telling a bird to learn to swim for it to be liked by the fish community. And it gets tiring. Fighting against ourselves does that. Pretending to be someone we’re not does that, because it takes twice the effort to act un-natural and reassure people that we’re perfectly fine doing it.

 

It’s all about learning to be comfortable in our own skin. What comes out is not necessarily more polished (it’ll probably be more random than anything else), but we’d be surprised to know how people welcome raw honesty and randomness. And to top it all off, it will be easier on us, since we’re essentially working with (and not brawling in a WWE-type Battle Royale) our natural selves.

 

I know I’d be okay with a little bit more ease in my life. Playing’s been a lot simpler and free-flowing since “downgrading” my strings. The Hallelujah chorus ringing in the background happens to be my two hands agreeing with me.

Swamped

Not exactly a word you’d associate with a summer outing.

Having just wrapped up our first “major concert” as a band, it was high time for us to be grabbing some rest after almost a week of non-stop practice. It was too good to be true, I thought to myself. As it turns out, it was.

I’m a firm believer of seasons in life. As much as it is important to have downtime to reflect and synthesize all that’s going on around, too much rest makes you, well, a bum, in short. Sometimes, the season calls for putting one’s foot on the gas pedal and not letting up. Sometimes the season calls for rolling one’s sleeves up and getting to work. As such, being swamped by a to-do list of things stretching a bit longer than my usual liking is not necessarily a bad thing; in fact, it may be a challenge to push myself harder and forget about slacking off. 400729_4573001198375_1980357599_n

Best compliment of the night: “Dude. nice tone. very punchy without losing articulation”

Strangest compliment of the night: “Uh. you were playing with them, right?” Yeah. Uh. I was holding my guitar for a reason I think?

Without much ado, I’d like to air my to-do list for the general public to see. Not for anyone to go “oh man, that’s a lot of things to do”, but mainly for me to get myself giddy reading about how my social life will end for the next month or so (which is not a bad thing, in actuality):

Played for our company’s summer outing -  As mentioned above, done. In the books. Finis. The ice cream’s in the freezer and it’s freezing like ice cream does. Two grueling weeks (and one all-nighter before the big day) of practice later, and Centrifugal Motion (our band’s unofficial name) can now resume daily life as office-dwelling yuppies.

One lesson picked up over our “after party” of McRonald fries, burgers and drinks was how I’ve overlooked small talk and simple laughs with friends. Last I checked, Christ himself was willing to look stupid in the eyes of the world by associating with people most “holy” folks would never care to be in the same room with. Not that I’m saying that my friends are mass murderers, swindlers or anything (at least, not to my knowledge). Far from it.  But if I am to show them a good example of how a Christ-follower lives his life, I’d be better off genuinely caring for them as people for a start instead of burying them under a litany of Scripture.

Second important lesson: All nighter’s don’t feel like all-nighters once you’re playing through one of these. Or two. Two would be better.

Accepted a new writing assignment for a magazine – Still in progress. Scary to think how my mentor is trusting me to interview some of the featured guests by myself and finish the articles by the first week of May. But she’s my mentor, and she probably sees something in me I don’t. Challenge willingly and ably accepted.

Stuff in the summer that have everything to do with kids, recital pieces and 80’s Hair Metal – In progress, but slowly approaching. Having given my “uhuh, yeah, sure” to my friend, I am now partially in charge of some kids and their upcoming music school recital somewhere in the middle of May. If we’re doing song hits across the 1960’s-2000’s, I’m calling the 80’s. Because, it’s the 80’s.

And no, it is not above me to go dressed as one of these guys.

My twice-a-month “journalistic” responsibility – In progress indefinitely. Wracking my brain for topics to write about (and subjecting my seatmates to hearing me argue with myself) bi-weekly has been a normalcy that I’ve welcomed. I’m challenged by it, but have always savored the challenge. To paraphrase the Parable of the Talents, I’m embracing my Christian responsibility to multiply my one “gosh I think I’m good at this” God-given gift and do my very best to bless others with it.

Major Mid-Year Matter –  One challenge that a group of friends and I took to do our part marketing this project over and above our scope of influence. For now, that is all I can say. Watch out for updates sooner rather than later.

Rest? Now? Too swamped for that. Maybe when one of my arms fall off, or when I start slurring my speech.

Game on.

Post-Easter Post (see what I did there?)

After almost a month of resting from playing (does that happen? resting from having fun? is that possible? you tell me), I recently got back into the act of  “Bingo” Sunday playing (which is a joke we use sometimes in the team for playing all three Sunday services).  Fitting, I guess that we just so happened to be playing on Easter Sunday, which is the Christian equivalent of God powerbombing Death and Sin through a table).

If ever I was remotely corny with my illustration, this video dispels all notion of that.

- After what seemed like a million years, we played Mighty to Save. I can’t remember why I liked the song: was it the guitar parts (which gives me all the excuses in the world to use my Wah Pedal) or the message that the song was conveying. I’m scared to death that thought even crossed my mind.

- Fortunately the sermon for that week reminded me how much God loved me enough to powerbomb Death and Sin through a table despite my obsession with my Wah pedal.

- Finished playing the last set simply grateful for the opportunity to be making music and giving my talents back and not caring if I’d never make a cent doing so. And before you think that means I played flawlessly, no. For All You’ve Done is in the Key of E. I played in F#. Major. Cool fact of the day: There is no F# Major in the key of E. Ouch.

- Lest anyone think this is all Easter Sunday related, no. I’ve begun to grow to love my job. And workmates. It’s not where I want to be 10 years into the future, and I’ve got a lot of things on my to-do list before I even come close to achieving my dream. But for now? I’m blessed to be where I am. Straight up.

- Interestingly enough, this week starts a series of “occupied” weeks where it’s play, work, play and more play-at-work without much downtime. Still blessed.

I hope everyone had a blessed Easter. That God chose to die for us, and rose again to make sure we have hope? Overwhelming. Like powerbombing sin….

I guess that’s enough wrestling illustrations for now. And these are the Dudley Boyz, by the way. Bubba Ray and D-Von. The best tag team to ever use tables. Now I shall keep quiet.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 108 other followers