I’m Back

I just wrote a 1,000 word post and accidentally deleted the whole thing. I took a bit of a hiatus from writing, I wanted to share my experiences over the past month but that post is now lost. I intend to return to my scheduled posting. If I can avoid future setbacks, I will likely have something up by the end of the week. There is a lot on my mind at the moment, so prepare yourselves for a deluge of half-baked ideas and general rants.

Recalibrating

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Yesterday I got my first guitar lesson from an experienced tutor. He showed me some finger exercises, major and minor scales, and taught an introductory lesson into music theory. Up until this point, I have learned everything that I know about music from informal experiences. A friend was showing me a chord here and there, the occasional YouTube tutorial, and whatever I picked up from learning new songs. I underestimated the importance of learning music theory because it seemed like such a daunting task. First, learning the vocabulary that is necessary to communicate, that jargon can become overwhelming. Next, determining the underlying mathematics and science. It was incredible to watch my tutor break down the scales that we had just played into this calculus of seven letters. Lastly, the timing of it all, tapping my foot to the click of a metronome while playing along rhythmically. After the lesson, I felt like an impostor.

I have so much to learn…

I am fortunate enough to be learning from a real musician. Someone who understands the intricacies of music and the underlying science. Someone who has been educated in theory and applied it to songwriting. Someone who is offering me free lessons because he wants to see me improve. I would be foolish to turn the opportunity down, so I offered to make dinner in exchange for the lesson. This is the kind of bartering that I can get behind, reciprocity at its finest. I can’t overstate how meaningful it is to learn music the right way. Learning the building blocks that create a foundation for songwriting and comprehension. I’m incredibly grateful to have this opportunity.

Every shortcut in music leads to a dead end.

I feel energized at the prospect of expanding my musical knowledge. Pushing past the plateau of mediocrity into the tier of professionalism. This will be an arduous task, but a journey that I am excited to embark on. I will continue to resume my lessons and practice throughout the week. I am stretching myself thin with all my projects, but I feel compelled to learn more, grow more, to experience more. Suffice to say, I have more to give.

You can always be doing more…

These lessons shouldn’t detract from my current goals. I still intend to purchase and learn some video editing software so that I can begin making short documentaries. I’m estimating that I should be able to make the purchase in December. I’m eager to see where that will take me and how I can apply my developing musical skills to the process. I have a long break coming up from work, and I cannot afford to squander that time. I need to remain focused on my goals, I need to document the steps that I am taking so that I can monitor my progress. I can only hope that one day I will reflect on these years and recall my efforts and ambitions. I never want to lose this spark, the thing that keeps my lofty hopes alive.

Failure would still taste sweeter than bitter regret.

I think that I’m hitting a groove at work, I have learned the routines and the deadlines, I have made efforts to stay ahead and on time. My outlook on the job is improving, and I am feeling more comfortable with my students and coworkers. I had been struggling with imposter syndrome for months. The significance of the job is still burdensome, but I am adapting to carrying that heavy load. I’m feeling emotionally stronger and more resilient. I am anticipating a productive fall and winter break. I’m looking forward to spending time with family, writing more, and learning more. Self-improvement is a difficult undertaking. It leaves you vulnerable to reflection and directs you to question your own motives. It is a process that takes time and effort. It is invigorating and exhausting. 

There are no shortcuts because they all lead to dead ends. 

-Nobody

INFP-Dreamer

A glimpse into the behavioral psychology of a dreamer.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

To me, the 16 personality types always seemed like a contemporary horoscope. The science behind analyzing the 16 personality types seems inexact, some conflation of intuition, and cold reading. I have always been skeptical of these personality designations; I remember first taking the test early in college and finding the result of Mediator to seem insignificant and negligible. Last night, however, I found myself taking the personality test on a whim, out of some spontaneous curiosity about my own behavior. I was looking for insight into myself, and I think that I may have manifested it. Surprisingly, my results were the same as they were years before. I was the Mediator, INFP, (Introversion, Intuition, Feeling, Perception) . Not really knowing what to do with that acronym, I spent a few hours reading and doing research on this personality type and found it to be eerily similar to my own.

I’m not suggesting that a personality test will relay the complexities of the spectrum of human emotion. However, this designation seems congruent with who I know myself to be. Some favorable aspects of this personality include unrelenting ambitions, resilience to criticism, and a heightened capacity for empathy. Negative traits include being overly self-reflective, disorganized, disconnected, and having a low tolerance for overexposure to draining social engagements. While I was learning about the personality type, I found myself reflecting on my previous posts, especially the ones that I have published on this blog. You see, INFP’s are also known as the dreamers. We are the kind of people that are content with spending hours within our own imagination, daydreaming and fantasizing about an ideal future. Productivity often falls behind creativity in terms of significance for INFP’s. We subsist on our individual principals and lofty dreams. Regularly spending time drifting in and out of reality.

If I’m being honest with myself, this describes me all too well. Family members and friends have grown frustrated in the past with my lackadaisical attachment to reality. Often commenting that I live in a fantasy world, far too concerned with idealism, rather than a pragmatic approach to reality. This criticism has resurfaced repetitively throughout my relationships with others. I often hear this about myself and concur to some degree. For me, the outlandish possibilities provide me with a sense of purpose. Dream fulfillment seems to be my only long-term goal that I have given enough attention to justify thorough planning.

Frequent career changes are also a personality trait of INFP individuals. In my young adult life, I worked over 10 different jobs with varying degrees of required engagement and knowledge. The following is a list of part-time jobs or careers that I have attempted or mastered in the past:

  • Kitchen Cook
  • Bus Boy
  • Server
  • Bartender
  • Barista
  • Shift Manager
  • Garden Center Vendor
  • Emergency Medical Technician
  • Tutor
  • Courier
  • Student (yes, it is a job)
  • Teacher

I am still struggling to determine what career path to take in the future. Teaching is fulfilling and rewarding, but I am prone to fantasize about what careers would be most suitable for my personality and creative endeavors. Expressing my philosophy is of the utmost importance to me. The following is a list of occupations that I would love to experience and master in the future:

  • Copy Writer
  • Journalist
  • Adjunct Professor
  • Musician
  • Author
  • Politician
  • Critic
  • Podcaster
  • Content Producer
  • Multimedia Analyst
  • Documentary Producer
  • Museum Curator 
  • Librarian
  • Biographer
  • Actor/Comedian

It is safe to say that some of these jobs are inaccessible without a considerable amount of dedication and education. Even with my degree, some of these job requirements just seem unachievable within the context of my short life. However, some of these jobs are only a few years away from being actualized. It is essential for me to find time to dedicate to these passions, they may be the only path forward to a fulfilling career and life. There is no way that I could possibly achieve all these dreams, but I sure as hell can try. I think the overarching theme of my aspirations is that I need room for creativity in my work. I used to joke with my mother that I never wanted to end up in a cubicle. My practical father would laugh it off, saying that I should just look for stability, even if that came with 4 short walls and a desk. My mother would actively encourage my ambitious outlook and support even my wildest dreams. This balance would tilt the scales back and forth but leave me with enough wiggle room to think creatively about my future.

I’d think that this assessment of myself sounds like I’ve drunk the proverbial Kool-Aid of behavioral psychology. I am fascinated by it, but still skeptical. However, I am willing to embrace this personality designation because it is suitable for me. I don’t intend to become a behavioral psychologist, but I have always been interested in human interactions. I remember purchasing a book on body-language so that I could read a room better. Looking for clusters of subtle behavior that may indicate confidence, reluctance, deception, or authenticity. The book didn’t change my life, but it did offer some unique perspectives when analyzing social and unconscious behavior. The utility of understanding these interactions has proven useful in several careers. Trusting my intuition and expanding my knowledge of human behavior will continue to shape my interactions with others in the world and promote better communication and understanding.

As for the future, I need to stay focused on my long-term goals. Getting trapped in an unhappy career is one of my greatest fears. Developing an exit plan and acquiring all of the necessary components to advance is a top priority for me. Conventional retirement is not something that I see happening in my lifetime. I do appreciate the concept of maturing through a career to earn recognition and some sort of fixed income. However, I cannot ever see myself sticking with one job, working for one company for long enough to ever meet the ever-increasing term requirements for a pension. I will likely work for the rest of my adult life, and I am okay with that. As long as the work that I’m doing is fulfilling and compelling, I will be content. Acquiring the discipline to shift from one career to another will take a great deal of dedication and practice, but fulfilling my dreams is my prerogative, and must remain a priority.

-Nobody

Cynical Certainty

The repetitious death of childhood dreams.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

I want to take a moment to thank anyone who may stumble upon this blog and give it a read. I’m not focusing on promoting myself as a blogger, I don’t format my site, and I rarely offer up a simple image. I keep reading these cranked out articles by people desperately trying to build a following and profit from their writing. Comparatively, this is not a competition for me. I am genuinely enjoying the cathartic release of jotting my thoughts down onto a screen and sending them off somewhere into the ether. I’m saying this because, if you do happen to find this and read it, you should know what my intentions are.

-Thank You

I watched the ending of the 1992 film rendition of “Of Mice and Men” five times today. I thought that It would be more excruciating than it was. I was taking notes on some of the differences between the film and the book, and I crafted the idea that the entire novella is some convoluted metaphor for the inevitable death of childish dreams. Perhaps this thought belongs in some pretentious book club, but I genuinely believe that this was the cynical takeaway that Steinbeck had constructed. If you’re willing to treat Lennie as a personification of simple childlike aspirations, you will see that George embodies the harsh inescapable reality of responsibility and the limitations of an individual with cumbrous responsibilities, who dares to dream.

I’m convinced that this was written as some cautionary tale. A coming-of-age milestone for young adults who learn that not all stories have happy endings. I am looking forward to putting this reading unit behind me because the central theme is a total bummer. Not only do I frequently see Steinbeck’s cynical outlook manifest, I believe that it serves no other purpose than to put people in their places. I fundamentally disagree with the notion that high aspirations are childish. Maybe my inner child is so defensive of these dreams that it is refusing to let go and it is clinging on desperately. Either way, Steinbeck’s cautionary tale reverberates through every 9th-grade hall, breaking the spirit of enthusiastic youth and reminding exhausted teachers of why it’s dangerous to dream.

Reflecting on these thoughts makes me sound defeated, but I genuinely believe that it is better to stumble and fall, than it is to wait for an opportune moment to advance. Finding success in your adult life comes from a series of mistakes and corrections. Modifying your behavior and expectations until you can achieve something beyond them. I am lucky enough not to have endured many significant setbacks during my personal development. There were undoubtedly some hindrances that restrained my growth, but I never had to take on the monumental task of parenting or being married. I respect anyone who has had to change their life for the betterment of someone else’s. I recognize the luxury of my independence and freedom.

Is it wrong that I don’t necessarily want to do these things?

Without those restraints in my life, I am free to make mistakes frequently, with few severe repercussions. I’d like to think that this will lead to some wisdom that I may acquire through trial and error. It’s not necessarily the best way to learn things, but it will suffice. I am also in a position where I can take much more significant risks. After all, failing will only hurt me, not destroy a family. I can’t begin to explain how terrifying the thought of someone else, depending on me is. Not depending on me for some minor obligation but relying on me to play an essential role in their life. Maybe those fears will prevent me from ever experiencing the joy of fulfilling those roles, but they will also prevent me from ever having to bear the burden of shooting my childish dreams, execution-style with a Luger, five times a day.

-Nobody

Cautious Optimism

Preserving my spirit for darker days ahead.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

I’ve been debating on whether or not to write tonight; I figured since I am ahead of my work, I might as well. I’ve noticed a shift in my general disposition about the future as of late. I was cautiously optimistic about making something more out of myself. I want to think that I was grounded and being realistic, but lately, I’ve found myself lost in delusions of grandeur. It’s like the barrier that has blocked my highest ambitions has eroded. Now I am dreaming larger than I ever have before. Perhaps this is a set up for my inevitable crash back to earth, but as of now, I am soaring.

Am I catching an updraft with lead wings?

I’m looking at the world through a new lens; I now see potential and opportunity in things that I have brazenly overlooked in the past. I can envision myself exceeding my expectations, which was something that I have struggled with for most of my life. Despite the anxiety associated with this mental shift, I can finally see potential in myself. I neglected to give myself credit for my achievements, always thinking that I should have done more. The more that I think about it, I realize that I have laid a foundation for a fulfilling life. Not only is my current job gratifying, but I am now applying the diverse skills that I have acquired over the last decade. I have been practicing music with an actual band, not just toiling in my room alone, trying to learn songs that some girl I’d been pining after would recognize. I’ve finally started writing again, and that has promoted positivity in the way that I process my thoughts. I feel like I have been gathering materials for ten years, and I’m finally ready to start building my future.

I am the architect of my life; let’s build this damn thing.

 I feel like my depression has been less prominent over the last few months, and I’m not sure what to make of it. My obvious concern is that I am in a perpetual manic state that will eventually descend into a depressive episode. At this point, I can’t help but wonder if I am released from the neurodivergent confines of my chemical imbalance. Either way, I have developed healthy ways to cope, when or if my depression resurfaces. I now recognize the unwavering support of friends and family members that have propped up my fragile ego. I used to fixate on what I didn’t have, which led to disappointment and a sense of inadequacy. I am now learning to appreciate the network of people who’ve been supporting me all along. Maybe this emotional overload is a symptom of some deluge of serotonin that had been dammed up somewhere in my skull. Perhaps this is just supposed to happen when you’re approaching 30. Either way, I hope that I can channel this energy into something productive.

It seems like wishful thinking, but what’s wrong with that?

I still intend to enjoy my old fall routine, as I have learned to do over the years. Watching depressing movies and reading in my comfortable sheets. I am looking forward to the early sunsets and cold nights. Somewhere along the way, I learned to see the beauty in some of the dreariest moments. I revel in those cold winter walks with barren trees and overcast skies. The aesthetic of a dormant city, waiting to spring back to life when sunny days return. I am particularly fond of the warm and inviting atmosphere of an artificially heated home. People gathered indoors to celebrate cheerful occasions, illuminating the rigid darkness outside through chilled glass windows. The enticing smell of baked goods, wafting through the gloomy, frigid air. The weight of my heavy coat as I plunge my arms into the padded, insulated sleeves. Just thinking about it now makes my heart swell. 

Does seasonal affective disorder apply to brutal summers?

I wonder how I will experience fall and winter through my new rose-colored lenses. I find it funny that we use that colloquialism because when you wear rose-colored glasses, your eyes adapt to them, and your vision resembles what it did before putting them on, but with more vibrancy and clarity. When you remove rose-colored lenses after your eyes have adapted, the world looks much bluer and more somber. Isn’t it strange that we encourage optimism and hopefulness, but we reserve this phrase to put down anyone who escapes the confines of our relentlessly restrictive reality? I would rather help people to see the good in things than to see how dark and twisted this world can get.

If you have rose-colored lenses on, keep them on.

Nobody

Imagination Contemplation

What is responsible for the gap in imagination?

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Well, it’s been an eventful week. I conducted a wedding ceremony over the weekend, it was my first time doing something like that and the stakes were high. I was marrying off two of my oldest friends and I couldn’t have been more delighted in the experience. I intended to write another blog post over the weekend, but celebrations and reunions took precedent. Now I am experiencing true exhaustion. The ceremony required a lot of mental focus and the reception drained all of my social energy. Drudging my way back into school reminded me that I need to maintain that focus and energy for the rest of the week. I feel like a 4-year-old phone battery.


I found myself in a discussion about imagination and contemplated the thought that the most boring and tedious moments of my life fostered an active imagination. I expressed that a large portion of students I encounter have difficulty imaging things. Maybe it was those moments I had running around in the woods unsupervised as a child that cultivated creativity. Maybe it was the offensively uninteresting moments that I sat staring at blank walls or desks, completely in my head. Somewhere within that catalog of desk-drooling and textbook staring, I learned how to envision things and immerse myself in different worlds. I must have looked strange as a student.


This conversation sparked a chain of thoughts. It seems too easy to blame technology for this unimaginative generation. To be fair, these children were born with I-Phones and YouTube. They have had more access to information than any previous generation on this earth. They are constantly bombarded with stimulation from every facet of life. They hold a device that connects them to everyone and everything in the world. These kids are utterly plugged in.


I can’t definitively say that the boom of technology is responsible for this anomaly, but it is certainly a factor. I thought about daydreams. Daydreams are where I spent most of the mundane moments of my childhood. I would imagine full conversations, relationships, and entire lives. If I wasn’t engaging with somebody or something in the outside world, I was actively engaging with myself in my head. I wonder how long the human brain can sustain that level of exertion. Daydreams were pleasant, I could escape from a boring lecture and disappear into my mind. I’m curious to see how many of these students can also retreat into their own worlds. I can’t define the barrier, but I’m searching for a key to open these students up to their imaginations.

Is clinically induced boredom a thing?


I suppose that these children need exposure to all forms of creativity to unlock that imagination that they assuredly have. We call it differentiation, but really, it is just bird-shot. Sometimes we hit our target and inspire young minds and sometimes we whiff. I intend to open the robotic minds of this portion of the youth and install new hardware. Without the foundation of imagination, critical thinking is far out of reach.

Is it even possible to teach someone to daydream?

Would that be the biggest mistake of my career?

I don’t have answers to these questions. I can only hedge my bets that I can find some way to connect to these goblins and clear a path to creativity.


I spent my commute silently contemplating these thoughts. Having the same conversation in my head, that I’m typing up now. Perhaps you do the same thing, imagine conversations in your head, stare off into space, fantasize about a life you could never live, drool on your desk; Keep daydreaming.


-Nobody

Conventional Conversations

Promoting active listening to a world that doesn’t hear me.

I often find myself drifting in and out of conversations. Sometimes I’m probing my mind for how I should respond. Other times, I find myself getting sidetracked and totally immersed in my own head. Occasionally, I will catch myself in one of these drifts. I will acknowledge that my hearing has shifted, I’m no longer listening to the person speaking but I have a conversation internally. I try to correct myself when my mind wanders off, but I have let this happen far to often. I don’t really know if that makes me a bad listener. I’m trying to be a better listener all together, but conversations tend to be fickle.

I read about active listening. Genuinely focusing on a conversation and quieting down that part of your brain that pulls your attention away.  I’ve always been open to holistic remedies for social problems. Meditation for better sleep and to relieve anxiety, deep breathing in stressful situations, and now, active listening. One of my goals for the next year is to improve the ways that I interact with people. I want to engage in conversations that are an equal exchange of information.

Speaking is never the issue for me. When a thought manifests in my head, it quickly travels down to my mouth where I have learned to hold it in my chest as if I were walking through a foul-smelling bathroom. I repeat the thought ceremoniously, breaking it down into chunks, shifting it around, rearranging it until they turn into something new. I wonder if everyone else does the same thing.

Conversations encourage these thoughts to flourish. I get so caught up toying with them, that I lose track of where the conversation was going. Sometimes I veer far from the beaten path into some strange directions. Other times, I can hold it together and offer some focused and relatable feedback. Identifying when you are being a bad listener is probably the best way to correct it. I must be mindful of my thoughts, not letting them pull me away from someone else’s. That tug-o-war doesn’t always need to happen. Sometimes, I should just drop the rope.

Being a mindful, active listener is something that takes practice. I often reflect on interactions that I just wasn’t committed to and find myself feeling guilty. There’s no purpose to punish myself for failing at this, simply recognizing where I can improve will help me accomplish my goal. Perhaps this blog will give me a place to spill my internal thoughts, so that they stop interrupting my conversations. A repository for those thoughts that I held in my chest like I was walking into a shitty restroom. I guess we’ll see.

Nobody- Signing off.

Professional Nobody

Saturday, September 21, 2019:

It all started with a dream, as so many things do…

Introductions don’t seem necessary here. After all, I am Nobody. Most of my life I have been content with being Nobody. Of course, I have people who I interact with in my life that see some semblance of importance in me, whether that be professionally, socially, or familial, but being Nobody feels comfortable and easy. That is irrelevant to the purpose of this blog. The purpose of this blog is to establish a connection with a community of like-minded people who fictitiously exist somewhere within the ether of the socially connected world. The people who I dreamt supported me and wove my life together like silk.


I never bought into social media. My Myspace profile was the height of my creativity when it came to projecting an outward appearance into the world. Effectively lost somewhere in catacombs of Google or the old Yahoo email account that I can’t remember the password for. Sure, I’ve had a Facebook page, a Twitter account, an Instagram, and a few hastily deleted dating app profiles. However, I never invested my time or energy into engaging with these social media platforms, despite having a degree in public relations and mass communications. Perhaps I thought I was above it, commonly dismissing them as superficial and trite, or maybe I couldn’t face the fact that I’m just not all that interesting. Regardless, here I am, at 29-years-old, embarking on my odyssey to attain cultural relevance.

 I sit here on the precipice of something meaningful, delusionally dreaming of being recognized as a creator of sorts. Don’t get me wrong, I am under no impression that I will become a household name, or even achieve my goal of connecting with others. In the words of my favorite musicians, Ben Folds, “do it anyway.”

A recent obsession with memoirs has sent me spiraling down a path plagued with overtly vivid dreams and harsh realities. I have over 200 contacts in my phone… I maybe speak to 10 of them a week, mostly to hash out obligations or establish plans. My dormant Facebook profile is a living testament to the fact that I have given up. I may only have 3 to 4 meaningful conversations a week. Despite this having little effect on my daily life, I can’t help but feel despondent and isolated. Either way, something must change. I am no longer immune to the cold reality that I need affection and attention. I brushed these off as social crutches, something that “a lesser man” would desire. No more. I have neglected this aspect of my life for so long that I am now feeling the unpredictable repercussions.

I have become very emotional over the last few weeks. It’s not the depression which I have so handily self-medicated for over the years. It’s not the crushing weight of loneliness. It is a sensitivity to beauty and purpose. A colorful sunset or a heartfelt lyric may make my eyes swell and my face hot with emotion. I have fits of crying followed by laughter in some of the most inopportune times, presenting me as a fucking lunatic. Seeing a child smiling and laughing while jumping through a sprinkler hits me with waves of nostalgia and tempered memories. Some chemistry has changed in my brain and I am working out how to adjust to it.

Maybe this blog will help me exercise my emotional muscles. Express what I have kept contained for so long. Maybe this is the creative spark that I have been searching for. Igniting a tinder house or repressed emotions, guilt, and shame. Maybe this will be a path forward, a synthetic digital-therapy of sorts. Maybe this is all just a pipe-dream and will fall away like the leaves in autumn. But whatever this is, it begins. My quest for relevance, my journey to culture, my life in words. I have plenty to share, a lifetime full of failed relationships, bad decisions, and monumental fuck-ups. But there is ample of time for those stories, and I have a wedding ceremony to plan.

This has been nobody- signing off

Reflections of a Reflection

A memory is like a still-frame portrait… with wet paint.

Memoirs, 130 memoirs… I’m a new English teacher at a local high school and the last four weeks were spent reading and writing memoirs. At first, I shrugged at the idea, maybe I hadn’t been exposed to any relatable pieces. Maybe I was so terrified of these 130 greasy faced little humans that I didn’t have time to reflect on the true purpose of writing in such a way. But either way, I missed the mark. I had an opportunity to teach an impactful, relatable lesson, to children who are just developing the mental capacity for empathy and self-reflection. What I wound up doing was teaching a lofty unit of incomprehensible instructions and irrelevant information. That’s not to say that there wasn’t any learning taking place, but I knew after reading every single one of those little mutants’ memoirs that I had deprived them of an opportunity to learn how others think and feel.

It’s not that the memoirs were bad, 13-year-olds don’t have much interest in self-reflection and contemplating the thoughts of others. Some, in fact, were quite good. Very advanced young writers sharing the intimate details of profound memories, while others were vapid, poorly composed snapshots of a good Fortnite game. I did see growth in their writing abilities, and with some solid samples, I know what I need to work on to improve overall understanding. But, such is life for a first-year teacher.

I wound up going to a concert that week. It was the Ben Folds and Cake tour that I had purchased tickets for several months ago. It’s nice to buy yourself gifts in advance, you spend the money, then forget about it until, one day, BOOM! You have a show to get to. I arrived alone, nobody else I knew had tickets for the event and the ones I had purchased were quite expensive. 30 feet away, I stood from one of my musical heroes, huddled into a mass of strangers. There were some nice people next to me, who engaged in a brief conversation. Overall, I was Nobody in this crowd, but I was connected to the music in an intimate way, so who cares?

When the music started playing, the crowd got denser. I could hear the subtle hum of die-hard fans singing along with every lyric. Folds put on a rousing performance, he engaged with the 3,000 people like they were all sitting in a small room together. As he continued to play, the swell of those voices began to rise. I could feel the weight of the people singing behind me pressing me forward into the wall of sound coming from the stage. By the last song, there wasn’t a quiet voice in the audience. We were all connected by this cacophony of sound. Each person’s sentimental attachment to this song. Each tied to a memory with hitch knots, weaving a tapestry of connectivity among strangers.

Ben received a standing ovation. He jumped on top of his piano, his shirt dripping with sweat to where you could see his olive skin gleaming through the opacity of the cloth. He bowed to his adoring fans, each one of them connected to him through his personal expression of his memories. Then he conducted the audience like an orchestra. Arranging the bass, altos, and tenors to harmonize. He toyed with his power on the stage, crafting an impromptu game of Simon Says. He left the stage with a red face full of emotion and tears streaming down his cheeks. No doubt, this concert had meant something special to him too.

During the intermission, the audience had grown cold. Frat boys had ample time to slug down their beers and the crowd became rowdy with anticipation for the headliner. With the performance I had just witnessed, I couldn’t imagine what would happen with the Cake show. Unfortunately, due to some factors that had worked against the band, the show to turned south quickly. They opened with a cold set. No major label hits, they started with one of my favorite songs, “Frank Sinatra,” but proceeded to try and plug their latest album. Hecklers begin to shout out requests with blatant disregard for others. When John McCrea (the lead singer,) attempted to engage with the audience, he was drowned out by the shouting of belligerent assholes and the sharp toothy whistle of some deplorable mouth breather. The band reacted poorly to the interruptions and the performance suffered.

I left about half-way through the Cake show. I found myself getting increasingly frustrated with the 10 or 11 loud-mouthed idiots who wore their social insecurities on their sleeve like a swastika armband. As I was walking away, I could hear McCrea still pleading with the audience.

I stopped at the merch-tent on the way out, (another advantage to prepurchasing tickets.) The vendors were sold-out of most of the shirts that I would consider buying. I wanted to leave with some memento, so I shopped over the stickers until something caught my eye; it was a book. “A Dream About Lighting Bugs” by Ben Folds. I made the transaction and walked away thinking that I had purchased a signed copy. About 100 yards from the tent, I flipped through the pages and saw that the signature wasn’t there. I stopped still and considered if I really wanted to walk back there and exchange it for a signed copy that would likely cost significantly more. Something pulled me back, my feet shifted around and I found myself marching towards the tent. I left that vendor with a signed copy of the book and a neat little tote bag with some merchandised magnets.

When I got home, my ears still buzzing from the self-inflicted cochlear damage, I went to my room and collapsed onto the half of my bed that wasn’t covered in unfolded laundry. I smiled as I looked at the signature, I relaxed my brow and began to read the first chapter. A brief 3 pages. It was a book of memoirs… divinely crafted into a story about his life. I read 30 pages before falling asleep. The next day, I read that first memoir to every class that I had, sharing my experience with the students and solidifying their understanding of what it means to reflect on a memory.

Professional Nobody- Signing off.

Ben Folds playing “Rocking the Suburbs.” Video by: Daniel Banton