Recap (WARNING: extremely long and incredibly verbose)

Oh, hi! I didn’t see you there. How serendipitous of you to stumble upon this veritable vichyssoise of verbiage! It’s been 3 years (and 1 day!) since I last wrote a formal blog post so pardon the unoriginality as I rediscover my muse. Before I delve into the clutter shaking around inside my brain, I figured I should take this time to review the major moments of my life from June 2009 up to now. …and go!

“Holy crap, that’s Raine Maida and he’s 20 feet in front of me.”

On July 3rd 2009 I saw Our Lady Peace in Lockport, New York. It was a free show and I showed up 5 hours early. Seems a bit early doesn’t it? It was, but my hyper-punctuality was rewarded with a soundcheck performance to a crowd of maybe twenty. Afteward, Jeremy Taggart and Duncan Coutts wandered over to the side of the stage to chat with fans. I was lucky enough to be among them and I got a charming photo with Duncan.

Duncan Coutts and a guy who looks kinda like me if I had long hair.

Lovely! Being an easily starstruck guy, I was shaking with excitement from then until the end of the show; I was so brimming with adrenaline (or whatever) that the next two hours of standing on the edge of the stage waiting for the show to start seemed to take forever. There were two opening acts; the first was utterly unremarkable, but the second took me completely by surprise. It was a band called Inward Eye and they’re a trio of brothers from Winnipeg.

Inward Eye

They put on a hell of a live show, and if you’re into rock in the style of (The) Ramones or The Clash, I highly recommend checking them out. Another short break and finally, Our Lady Peace came on and it was incredible. Unfortunately my head was already ringing with tinnitus but the sheer thrill of seeing one of my favorite bands perform mere 10 minutes in front of my face quickly abated my physical ills. By that point, and I took a picture of it, there were probably 1000 people behind me. I never noticed when they came, being transfixed on the stage, but it was packed out there in that…parking lot. The best parts of the concert happened at the end though:

Through the distortion on my cell phone camera, you can vaguely see Raine Maida demonstrating “off-stage presence”

1) Raine Maida jumped off the stage in front of me, ran over to a van from 103.3 THE EDGE and proceeded to climb on top, serenading the crowd the whole time (Starseed, I think). He then ran back across in front of me and climbed up against the crowd barrier just to my right.

After a few seconds, the grunts at event security pulled him off and assisted in getting him back up on stage. At this point my camera battery was long dead, but I grabbed some crappy pics on my cell phone. And of course,

Our Lady Peace

2) Steve Mazur threw me a guitar pick. Yeah, he looked straight in my eyes and tossed it over to me. As luck would have it, it didn’t make it to me. But, and there’s a happy ending, the security guy picked it up off the ground and shoved it into my outstretched hand narrowly beating out the less enticing hand of dude to my left. Sucker.

And then the show was over, I escaped into the crowd to get back to my car, and drove out before wild traffic appeared. And then I went to Mighty Taco and spent the dollar I had in my pocket on a taco. Sweet success.

On October 20th, 2009, my intramural hockey team won the league championship.

Hey, it’s me!

I don’t think I’ve had a greater sports victory in my life and the memory of (most of) that night remains as fresh in my head as a fish packed within the last 48 hours at Pike Place Market in Seattle. We were the team to beat, and they were the underdogs. Like any good underdog story, they scored first. And did they ever: 11 seconds in and I was made to look like an idiot.

Now, I had a history of trying to over-perform in these situations; the last two seasons saw my team making it to the championship game only to lose both times to, stat-wise, clearly inferior teams. Both of those games I scored my team’s only goals (not completely sure, but definitely the only 2 of the first loss). That’s good.

I also tried to do everything when it seemed like my teammates weren’t able to contribute. That’s bad. So flash-forward to Fall 2009 and we’re down early in our third straight championship game. I know what you’re thinking: you’re thinking “hey, why not go for three straight losses and be like the St. Louis Blues!” Okay, you weren’t thinking that, and neither was I actually, but I digress. It looked like our third straight championship loss was at hand and we hadn’t even played a full minute yet!

Well, a bunch of stuff happened and sometime in the middle of the period, this guy on our team “Steve,” which isn’t actually his name decided he was sick of being behind so he took the puck, skated around a bunch of people, and roofed a shot in off the post. Hooray, tie game! My memory fails me now, but the other team came back to score again, blah blah blah skip ahead and it’s 1 minute left in the game. TIME OUT, we said. SCORE A GOAL, we said. So, in true douche-tastic fashion we put our five best skaters out on the ice for the remainder of the game. Being one of them, I took the spot at center. Faceoff in their zone, drawn back to the point. I move to the goalmouth like a center-man does and watch as my point-men blast shot after shot toward the goal. Most end up being cleared back to them. Then one stuck. It sat there in the crease just in front of the goalie’s leg pad. With a swift snap of the blade, I determinedly jammed that stupid disk of rubber into the goal. Holy crap; 22 seconds left, it’s tied. Back to the bench to celebrate.

“Steve” and me, preparing for ooooOOOOOOoooovertime.

This was not over yet though. The five of us stayed out, and there we would stay for the rest of the game. We let the clock run down, but not before blasting their net with a few decent shots. No luck. Overtime had come. This was unfamiliar territory for us; OT occurs only in the playoffs in intramurals and we had never been tied in a playoff game before. 5 minutes of skating, then a shootout if necessary. So much pressure. So it began, and we came out limp. The puck entered our zone and didn’t leave for what seemed like 10 minutes. Then it happened, a puck sliding up the corner boards toward our blue line. And Steve grabbed it. He sails through the pointman like he’s an apparition and I join him on the rush. Once again my memory fails me; I don’t recall if there was a defender there or not, but in any case it was an odd-man rush. Steve was busting down the right wing and I was skating up the middle. In that moment, there was no pressure, no sound, no thoughts. He was going to pass to me, and I would make no mistake. The goaltender frozen to his left post, there was nothing but net to shoot at. The puck was as large as a beach ball. The pass was perfect, the connection was perfect, the shot was…weak, but effective. Immediately, I turn to my left to curl back around to our bench, which is overflowing with red jerseys, spilling over the boards toward me. I leap for joy and they tackle me down to the ice. It’s amazing what breaking a championship drought feels like. Now you might be thinking “but you’re playing intramural hockey, it didn’t mean anything.”

Fall 2009, D-League Ice Hockey Champions

And that’s true, but for a team that was put together with misfits and eager college freshmen, who struggled to break .500 in its first two seasons, this was the best thing that could ever happen to us as a hockey team. And it was glorious.

As I get closer to present day, more than just a few great moments are popping into my head, so I’ll spend less time painting vivid pictures of those in favor of fitting in more stuff that I can think of! (Plus, holy crap I’m already up to 1400 words.)

The long and frozen and then later thawed road.

In January of 2010, my dad and I hiked the Grand Canyon. Six miles one way, from snowy and cold Northern Arizona, to sunny and warm Northern Arizona. I don’t recall the numbers but it had to be something like 3000 ft elevation Chang. I have about a million pictures from that hike (and some of them are shockingly featured next to these paragraphs!) It was a little surreal being bundled up in heavy clothing walking on snow and frozen mud down slowly thawing trail to a warm grove of trees stuck in perpetual autumn.

Colorado River, way down in the hole.

At the end of the trail is a sheer drop down into the Colorado River. Not being one for unsafe heights, I kept my distance from the edge, but the view was outstanding. Surprisingly, the view of the canyon above was not too spectacular; it just seemed like I was in a flat desert with some buttes around me. Maybe my memory’s been distorted, but I thought it was odd. Anyway, being winter we only had a few hours of daylight to get back up to the rim. Of course, uphill is much harder than downhill and we couldn’t walk. My hips wouldn’t work. I might have tried pushing my legs up using my arms… it was rough. Long story short, I couldn’t walk for 4 days. Woohoo!

For the next six months I dated a girl. I was superficially happy; hell I was even genuinely happy at least once or twice, but eventually my insides started to rot. Oh well, live and learn.

That’s right, it’s called “Mid-Hudson River Power Utility Corp!”

Starting in May of 2010, I was an intern for a small electric utility in southern Upstate New York. I forget the name, but it was located in the central Hudson valley, and did I mention it was a gas & electric utility? It is a lovely place to work with a surprisingly young workforce of employees who will seemingly do anything to welcome you and make you feel at home at your job. My bosses were especially awesome: on more than one occasion we went out for lunch during work and we even went on a field trip to the nearby waste-to-energy power plant (which included a stop for ice cream! The field trip, not the garbage plant. Gross.) I spent every workday plotting giant maps of the power distribution system, coloring in the lines based on the number of AC phases, and driving around looking at the lines in person.

Three-phase Optimus Prime!

I spent probably 50% of my summer on the road in a stupid periwinkle Chevy Lumina with the other intern in my department either driving or looking up at the power lines. We had air conditioning and WRRV plays some decent, albeit repetitive, music so life was pretty swell. I did however live in a dorm condo at a nearby college. This slice of real estate featured four bedrooms, a kitchen, a “living area,” two bathrooms, and EIGHT people. Yeah, if you know me, you must know that I went crazy living there. I spent every weekend away somewhere else. Some of the people I lived with were pretty shitty people too. Drama queens and people with severe insecurities. Half of the time it was hell; the other half was spent playing Kan-Jam. Luckily, my brain filtered out all of the crap and I can look back on my time there with fond memories, but I fear my experience was tainted.

Did I mention I dated a girl during that time? Long-distance? Yeah, that went so well. Being in California now, a two-hour drive doesn’t seem so bad anymore.

Barefooth Truth (and Harry, the guy in the middle)

Skipping back, in April of 2010 I met one of my favorite bands ever, Barefoot Truth. They were doing a charity show at RPI (how the hell that came about, I still don’t know) but, being a relatively unknown band, they didn’t exactly draw. I am a fan of small shows though, so win for me! They did an interview at WRPI, the campus radio station, on the morning of their show. When I heard they were doing that, I marked it on my Google Calendar in sharpie. I sat in the studio watching these five guys play their stuff live on the radio. It was awesome.

Funny thing, this CD features only two of the current band members.

I brought one of my CDs down for them to sign and I chatted with each for a little bit. They’re all chill guys from New England, and wicked talented at their chosen instruments. The show that night was fun, and they played a certain song that I politely requested at our earlier meeting, so I was quite a happy camper. Jump ahead to January 2011 and they’re back in town! I go to see them in Albany and they put on another hell of a show. Afterward I go back to chat with a couple of the guys again and to my surprise they actually remembered me. That’s cool. Maybe they were just being nice, I don’t know, but the keyboardist referenced some stuff we talked about earlier. Hooray basic social interaction skills! So…what was I talking about?

Playing around at WRPI.

Oh yeah, Barefoot Truth. I’ve seen them twice, met them twice, I own two signed CDs and a signed setlist… and they’re kind of awesome people. If you’re into indie-folk-rock-jam-roots (Dispatch, Jack Johnson, Dave Matthews to a lesser extent), definitely check them out.

On May 28th 2011, I graduated from college. On my 22nd birthday. Not that I keep track or anything, but it’s in my top 2 for best days ever. It’s probably actually #1 but my nostalgia-coloured lenses are obfuscating and possibly overvaluing my probable #2 (July 4, 2008 if you’re wondering. Maybe I’ll write why later [I know what you’re thinking, sicko. No, that day was genuinely wholesomely awesome]).

What is this, a graduation for ants!?

I spent the day with the most awesome people in my life and for most of them, that was the last time through to this very moment that I’ve seen them. Leaving college the next day was the hardest thing I’ve had to do, emotionally. I moved across the country and that was not even close to as hard. That weekend was completely sweetbitter. Yes, sweetbitter. Bittersweet is backwards and doesn’t make any sense in this context. Thank the seven gods for modern technology though. Without Facebook and Twitter, I would never have gotten through the next week. It’s nice to know that even when I’m hundreds (or later, thousands) of miles away, I can still talk to anyone as if they’re right there next to me.

Nice segue. In August of 2011, I moved to California from New York. I received a job offer in July and spent the next four weeks planning how it would all happen.

My life, as it was, in a nutshell.

I soaked up my fill of Western New York, packed up all of my crap into a tiny trailer, got into a car and drove. Okay, it’s a little less dramatic than that. I went with my mom and she drove the whole first day. I’m such a good son. We did however split the driving fairly equally over the span of the journey so it’s all good. In fact, I think there’s a lot to talk about here so I’ll expand on this in another post later.

So I currently live in California. I spend my days working and my nights being tired from work. I’m happy with where I am at the moment and you can see some of the highlights of the journey that brought me from where I was in my sophomore year of college to here. No doubt I’ll have more to say on any number of these things as well as some random crap.

If you’re down here you’ve suffered through 2800 words of probably utter schlock and inane babble. If you’re still here, dear reader, you’re a trooper and I salute you. Thanks for reading! 🙂

You’re doin’ great, kid.

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