My five-day concert streak started out last Thursday, when I went with my roommate Julie to see Third Eye Blind play in San Jose as part of their “Scion Music in the Park” series (think Thursday at the Square). We took the Caltrain down after work and walked from there to the park, where we were met with the sight of… a lot of preteens. I guess I can’t blame them; I mean, what else are you going to do when you can’t get into bars and you don’t want to be in the house with your parents? They were playing “Never Let You Go” when we got there, and then they played “Motorcycle Drive By,” “Jumper” (with a long speech in the middle about how “We are all one” before they came back in with the guitar part), and “Semi-Charmed Life” as well as a few songs from their new album that nobody knew yet. It was a pretty short set but it was fun anyway—although I have to admit that the post-midnight nineties music sing-along I had with the downstairs neighbors when we got back was probably more fun.
On Sunday, four of us trekked out to Golden Gate Park at 10:30 in the morning to make it there early for the “Alice@97.3 Summerthing” concert that started at noon. We staked out a spot about 20 feet from the stage, spread out our blanket and waited, popping bubbles from the bubble machines. It was a sunny 70 degrees out and I was kind of shocked that park weather could be so agreeable (it’s usually chilly there since it’s closer to the ocean). The first act was a band called Parachute, and when they came out all I could think of to say was “Aww, they’re so little!” Wikipedia claims that they graduated college the same year I did, but I don’t buy it—they looked about 19. Sugar Ray played next. He is pretty old now but it was kind of hilarious and a lot of fun—Teresa and I danced around on our blanket. He also led us in a rousing chorus of “Don’t Stop Believing.” When Matt Nathanson came on, Julie and I went up to the stage with the screaming teenagers—we ended up 2-3 rows away. He didn’t play any of my favorites but he did play a bunch of songs that he said were about “getting naked with someone very close to you—or maybe someone you just met. Maybe you just don’t want the commitment.” (You have to hand it to him, he’s pretty good at writing songs about getting naked.) Julie and I joke that we’re becoming groupies—we already went to see him in April and we might go again in July when he plays in San Jose.
So, in case you haven’t noticed, the concerts are getting progressively better. The third one was Tuesday night, when I went to see Carbon Leaf play at The Independent. They’ve been one of my favorite bands for about two years and this was my first time seeing them live. I always stay late at work on Tuesday night for Clinic, so when I got there, the opener was already playing. His name was Trevor Hall and he kind of reminded me of John Butler and Xavier Rudd: groovy and mellow and reggae-like. I dug it. When he finished I managed to get all the way up against the stage, so that when Carbon Leaf came on I was right under Barry Privett the whole time. During “Another Man’s Woman,” he actually pointed right at me when he sang “Nothing rhymes with woman.” I’ve never had a spot that good before. They played a lot of songs off Indian Summer and Love Loss Hope Repeat, as well as some songs off the new album and a couple from Echo Echo. At one point Barry announced that they were “going to do this Grand Ole Opry-style,” and they played “Block of Wood” and “Seven Brides for Seven Sinners” all around one microphone—that was pretty cool. They played three encores at the end: an acoustic version of “Under the Wire,” followed by “Raise the Roof” and “Let Your Troubles Roll By.” I was basically thrilled since the last two were two of my favorite songs. After the show ended around 11:30 they stuck around to meet the crowd and sign autographs, and I asked for a hug instead. So, in summary, Carbon Leaf + hugs + making it home without getting harassed once by random people on the street = a pretty amazing night.
My next show is Coldplay on July 13. I don’t know how I’m going to survive 2½ weeks without concerts…
The past few days, I’ve actually been getting into the swing of this whole “enjoying life” thing. I still have plenty of moments of frustration and stress, but in between I’ve been able to sink into a pleasant sort of calm—a “drinking tea and watching a candle flame” sort of calm, I would say. I’ve just been relishing simple things… existence itself, the people around me, the space I occupy and the air I breathe, sunshine and wind and music. On Saturday, Damon borrowed a huge pickup truck from his agency, and four of us drove down to Big Basin Redwoods State Park to see the redwood trees. You know those pictures of people standing in the hollowed-out bottoms of giant trees? That was us. We got slightly lost on the way back and Damon ended up steering said massive pickup truck down a one-lane, two-way road that twisted around and around the mountains for miles. While trying my best to fend off the motion sickness, I trailed my hand out the window and looked out over valleys overflowing with treetops and beautiful remote boarded-up houses, and this song by David Gray came on the radio. I’d heard it on Pandora before, but I’d never paid that much attention.
“And if you want it,
come and get it,
for cryin’ out loud
The love that I was
giving you was
never in doubt
Let go your heart,
let go your head,
and feel it now
Let go your heart,
let go your head,
and feel it now—
I’ve had it running through my head ever since. Something about the chorus just feels so full of hope. Like—hey, things are pretty simple when you get down to it. There’s beauty all around you. All you have to do is open your eyes. I start to think about how lucky I am, to be myself and to be alive in this moment on earth. I’m the only person who ever gets to be me, in all of history. How fucking awesome is that? This is my one chance to live my own story. It’s exhilarating and terrifying, all at once. And none of it will last. It never does. You just have to take the fleeting moments of beauty life brings you as they come. Life ends, and you never know when—that’s the nature of it all. What can you do but love the hell out of whatever’s here in front of you?
Cliché? Probably. For me, at least, that doesn’t make it any less difficult to live up to.
Hello there. I am giving you a lame update because I have a few minutes to kill before I leave for Seattle for the weekend. I don’t really have a ton of new and exciting stuff to report, aside from the Seattle thing, which is pretty exciting. I finished filing my TAP application yesterday and accepted my federal loans (eek), and I’m planning on being back in good ol’ NYS around August 9. I was originally planning on sticking around here an extra week or so, but I realized that all my roommates were planning on leaving sooner, and what would I do for a week by myself? Besides, I could use the extra time to get my life organized in New York. Sara and I need to find an apartment before I get back, and then I’ll need to move all my stuff to Buffalo and buy a car within the 2-3 weeks before classes start. Maybe find some furniture. Furniture is good.
So basically we have two months left now. I know it’ll go by fast—Seattle, then a couple of concerts, then Florida/Mexico with my family, then a couple more concerts, then Disorientation (yes, that is the official name of our final retreat, ridiculous though it sounds), then home. The past week or so, I’ve been really looking forward to going back. I miss trees and grass and rain and seasons. Maybe that sounds stupid, but one thing I’ve realized about myself while living in a big city is that I really, really, really like nature. And of course I miss having friends around… that’s been one of the hardest things about this year, the not-having-friends-aside-from-my-roommates aspect. I know that isn’t the case for everyone in JVC. I’m probably not particularly adept at making friends in new situations. But I know this is a fairly common thing that people face after college—it’s hard to establish a social life for yourself after you’ve been completely uprooted. But yeah. Friends = good. (Like furniture. You know.)
Two months left. That isn’t much time. This year has gone by so much faster than any year before it—I don’t know if it’s the lack of major paper deadlines, or just that I’m getting old (I found another grey hair last night!). The weeks slip by like nothing, the days blend into each other, and I’m madly treading water just to keep from drowning in the monotony. That’s a gross exaggeration, although it seems that way sometimes, to me. My life is actually pretty good. I make sure I do at least one interesting/productive thing per day aside from work; I’m living somewhere cool for the year; I have good friends here and good friends at home; my job is enjoyable and worth my time; I’m more or less young and free. What more do I want from life? A lot, I think. But I’m not sure what. What is the word for that—ennui? I’m not sure it’s that I want more from my life, so much as that I want to cultivate a greater appreciation for what’s in front of me. If I don’t know what I want, then being content with what I have does not constitute settling for less than I should—right? It’s all about the process anyway.