Break the Cycle

As I mentioned a few posts back, I’m working on becoming more disciplined. I have been posting on here regularly, shooting for a goal of at least one post every two-days. I was doing well at the beginning, then Thanksgiving weekend hit.

I don’t do well when it comes to blogging whilst travelling. Finding the time, motivation, and will to write up a post somewhere other than home is difficult for me. I am working on this, and I’m going to overcome that stupid issue when I leave for my next trip over the holidays.

Missing a few days wouldn’t have been too bad, but it’s now been over a week since my last post. I let myself fall back into the cycle of not writing. The inertia of not doing something is difficult to overcome vs. the inertia of actually doing something. In other words, it’s way easier to continue not doing something than it is to continue doing something. The key is to recognize when you’re falling off track, and correct it as soon as possible. The further you drift away from the path, the harder it is to get back.

I’m back on track, and I will continue posting regularly. I appreciate your patience and understanding over the short break. Look for another post here next week.

In the meantime, feel free to post in the comments any tips or stories you have about getting back on track after a setback. What do you do when you feel yourself slipping away from your goals? I look forward to reading your comments.

-Will

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Thoughts on Emo & Pop Punk (Six Years Later)

During the twentyeleven days, I listened to a lot of emo and pop punk music. I listened to a lot of other music as well (my taste in music is eclectic), and my friends in high school introduced me to a variety of indie artists as well. But I still listened to a lot of pop punk, and it was the primary source for most of the mix CDs/playlists I made at the time (ex. this playlist I posted on twentyeleven).

Even then I knew that pop punk and emo music was fraught with exaggerated emotional lyrics, and that the scenes and situations described were ridiculous at best. The relationships described in the lyrics of most songs in these genres are pretty toxic, and overly saturated in twisted idealism. The formula for these songs is fairly simple:  The “hero” in the song was dumped on his ass, and now his former lover is seeing someone else, and that sucks because the “hero” was a nice guy who really loved her (ex. “Miserable at Best” by Mayday Parade). If you’re a jaded dude who thinks girls are mean because they won’t date you, this kind of shit is gold. If you just got dumped on your ass, this kind of music will make your feelings of betrayal and injustice (because your ex had the audacity to move on) seem valid*.

One of the things I’ve noticed as I’ve grown in years is that folks of a certain maturity level don’t continue to listen to these genres– at least not on a regular basis, anyway. (Perhaps that’s just the isolated bubble of people I’ve surrounded myself with, but I wouldn’t be surprised it was true for people outside my social circle as well.) I think the reason people abandon listening to this music is that it lacks authenticity. Sure, the artist in the song probably is feeling those emotions of betrayal, sadness, and grief– but are they justified? Are they justified enough to base an entire album around those feelings? Where is the other person’s perspective to this love gone wrong song?

The lack of depth, lack of female presence within the genre, and lack of realism kills the basis for the emotions that saturate the lyrics of this genre. Emotions are strong and powerful, and clearly a key part of music lyrics, but they have to be authentic. Why should we respond to what these emotional lyrics represent if they aren’t real? Listeners want music that makes them feel something; the lyrics that pervade most of these songs just feel shallow.

Part of growing up is recognizing that the things you used to love aren’t nearly as perfect as they once seemed. The world is a problematic place. People are flawed, and the art they produce is also flawed. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s just something we have to acknowledge, recognize, and think about as we continue to navigate the weird journey that is life.

This weekend is going to be super busy for me, but I will have another new post up here on Monday. I hope you guys have a wonderful weekend. Feel free to let me know your thoughts about my post in the comment section. See you soon!

-Will


* There’s nothing inherently wrong with listening to this kind of music after a breakup if it helps you move on (though I would firmly contain listening to it within the “denial” portion of your stages of grief).

Shaking Off the Rust

TWO MONTHS LATER…

Blogging regularly on here (or elsewhere) is like taking a cooking class; it always sounds like a good idea, but I never seem to get around to it. Judging by the lack of recent posts on this blog, I assume that I’m not alone in this struggle. At least we’re all failing together (hurrah for collective failure!).

I’ve been working on becoming more disciplined lately. I’ve focused on basic things like making my bed daily, keeping up on laundry, washing dishes immediately following a meal, etc. These are all small things, but they add up over time (particularly if one doesn’t keep up with those menial chores). Listening to podcasts like the Jocko Podcast (particularly the episode with Jordan Peterson’s interview) have helped fuel my desire to stay disciplined. And while I’ve been able to keep up with those basic tasks, I haven’t yet moved on to the work I actually want to do regularly: writing.

In addition to not writing on this blog, I haven’t been writing much elsewhere. The energy to write regularly has been gone for months now. This is partly caused by working at a highly repetitive job that leeches my soul away every weekday; it’s also partially caused by me being totally “out of shape” with writing. I haven’t written regularly in years. Going to college and working full-time stripped away a lot of free time and energy that I used to have in abundance. Now, I have to make time to write. Creativity follows no schedule though, and it’s exceedingly rare to find a time where I can write and I feel like writing.

I think the key to getting over this variety of writer’s block is to simply keep writing regularly. I gotta shake the rust off and get back to the base level of writing fitness I had back during the twentyeleven days.

Please forgive me in advance for some less than stellar posts that might come out at the beginning of this endeavor (including this one). I promise that they’ll eventually get better, but it will take time. Your patience is greatly appreciated.

Look for another post from me on here by Tuesday.

-Will

Home sick, time to scheme, make it your own, etc. 

Hey, guys.

I’ve come down with something ominously representing influenza, so in the sanctity of my lonely apartment, I have opened the windows, turned on some chill beats, and I have time to plan. This is the first time in my whole life that I’ve had a bedroom entirely my own to design, and it’s so disappointingly barren.

Now, some of you don’t know me that well, some of you know me TOO well. I need things in my life. I need a cluttered space. Anything too tidy distracts me and keeps me from being able to function. Anything too messy or “full” overwhelms me and causes a near panic attack.

I’ve recently come to embrace the side of me that loves herself. She loves wearing a lot of makeup, looking as pretty as she can, she loves dressing up in fancy clothes and *gasp from former me* wearing high heels. She reads anything she can get her hands on, she cooks for herself and others because she can and she’s damn good at it, she does nice things for strangers because she lives to put smiles on faces. She isn’t sure of her place in the world, but that doesn’t scare her anymore. She knows life is about the journey. She plans to start donating time to others, she dreams of a life away from home, she hopes for everything she’s ever wanted. Because she knows she can have it.

When I was 13, I went to summer camp for the first time. I was gone for 5 days. I had just finished painting my bedroom a shade called “bubbly lavender”. I remember the shade because I picked it out and tortured my mom with many a shrill “please!” before she finally caved and let me have anything but white in my room. She also let me get some yellow bedding, covered in different colored roses. The reverse side of the comforter was purple with green damask stripes. So cool. I had a 1970s brown wicker lamp hanging over a corner of my room with nothing at all under it. I got home from summer camp, had a sandwich and some strawberries, and went downstairs to my room to unpack and figure out which camp best friend to call first. I walked in, and gasped. My mom had painted a desk for me. Yellow to match my comforter, with multicolored rose appliqués under the knobs and on the desktop. This desk, I later learned, belonged to my great-grandma who was the nicest lady I’ve ever known. All I have of her are photos of her smiling down at us so big it looks like her face might split in half, and this desk. It was one of the only surviving members of a pretty devastating flood that I don’t have a lot of other history on yet. It’s old as shit, guys. That’s what I’m getting at. I  was able to borrow shop space from a buddy and get him to help me sand it down and prime it, and this week I’ll be painting it, applying a fun glittery finish, installing agate knobs and a custom glass top and putting it in my room, with a matching mirror above it. It will be something I look at every day and remember how much I am loved. It will be with me and my family for as long as it stands. It will be where I do my makeup and silently remind myself each day that I can do anything I put my mind to, no matter how daunting the task. That’s something I never used to put much faith towards. I have always relied on the reassurance of others that I am enough. Now I feel that from within. I am more than enough and I am here for a reason.

Gosh, these get long quickly, don’t they? Time for another fever nap.

Love, Kelci.

Six Years Later…

It’s been awhile since we last spoke, but I think we can skip the awkward small talk.

My life has gone in a vastly different direction than I assumed it would back in 2011. Looking back at this post, I can’t help but laugh– I was so naive. I was so convinced back then that biochemistry was the major for me. After nearly failing my first chemistry exam, I soon realized that I didn’t love chemistry as much as I thought I did. College in itself was a different experience than I assumed it would be back then. I thought that MSU would finally present an opportunity to explore the topics I loved, with challenges that went beyond boring busywork. College, I thought, would finally eliminate the things I loathed about academics from past experiences.

College turned out to be a completely different beast than I anticipated.

Writing the first draft of this post lead to the most depressing catalog of events that happened since 2011. I don’t want to sugarcoat the past and pretend everything has gone according to plan (because it really didn’t), but the last six-years haven’t been entirely terrible either. Great things happened. Awful things happened. Life happened! Focusing too much on either the highlights or the pitfalls would be disingenuous.

Distilling the past six years of life into a single post is nearly impossible though. To keep things brief, I’ll hit some of the important details here:

  • I’m currently living in Bozeman. I work for Gibson Acoustic. (If you would have told me six years ago that I would be making guitars, I wouldn’t have believed you.)
  • I’m dating my best friend, Kelci. (Another thing I probably wouldn’t have seen coming back in 2011.)
  • I totaled the old Focus back in 2013 (RIP in pieces). 2013 was a shitty year (for numerous reasons that I might dive into in a later post).
  • I have not graduated from MSU (yet). Changing majors multiple times, taking time off to avoid student loan debt, and other reasons have led to this delay. It’s something that really bugs me, but I do plan to finish my degree soon.
  • I finally got a motorcycle last year. Motorcycling has become one of my favorite hobbies. The mental clarity and presence you get on a bike is difficult to find anywhere else.
  • I’m an uncle! My nephew, David, is four-years old. He’s the best. (I don’t feel old enough to be an uncle, but it’s a pretty cool experience.)

Many other things happened since 2011, but I’ll leave some of those details for later posts. For now, I’m happy to be back with you all. This reunion of the twentyeleven crew was a total surprise. I want to thank Kelci for making this happen, as well as all of you who’ve come back and written a post on here. You guys rock.

I’ll write on here again soon. Until next time,

-Will

P.S. For a delightfully incomplete record of some of the things that happened since the twentyeleven project ended, you can check out my personal blog, The Final Summer.