22. Checkpoint.

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Last week, I officially reached the age of 22 and reached a dreaded point of no return. (If you think that’s dramatic, just wait until you read the next couple of lines.)

A couple years back, with my best friend, we set a time limit for our goals/dreams, stating that by the time we reached 22, we should be at least x% there (with x not being 100, because that would have been unrealistic). More like a “best before” date where, if our goals were not met, our ability to achieve said dreams would just expire and we would simply die. Yes, die. Implode. Explode. Cease to exist, somehow. I know, a bit dramatic… But we were desperate for something to look forward to and the idea that in such a very near future we would be somewhat closer to our dreams, it was just that and more!

Now, it was a very reasonable goal that I set: to, at least, have the start of something on the way and at best, already be a little bit further. Rather vague, I’ll give you that, but that’s just how my plan-making works! Ha ha Anyways. Although it was reachable goals, providing us with a specific point in time to look at and work hard towards, it still had this ominous undertone basically implying that life would end if we didn’t even get to those mediocre levels before then. So, now that I think of it, that was probably responsible for a percentage of the pressure on my shoulders as I desperately tried to build up skills and make reality shift my way.

As I am typing this, you can tell that I am alive and have, indeed, reached the goal. In fact, I have exceeded my expectations! Which is quite a fucking relief because, if you know me, you know how deeply and intensely I care about things and especially the life thing, and I cannot imagine (i.e. I can exactly imagine) what would have happened had I not fallen into the place I am right now.

Looking back, you know, it’s always been a rollercoaster. There’s some v low lows, some lesser lows and some higher lows, yet through it all, I’ve always been going up, even as I spiraled down. And with this past year being what it was, my birthday felt like a checkpoint. Not just a new chapter, leaving the rest behind that thin new page, but a completely new book waiting to be filled. Now, I don’t know how many books have previously been put on the shelf, I can’t look, the amount of dust would make my asthma go ballistic. Right now, all I’m overwhelmed with is all the blank pages, all the fresh spaces and all the possibilities. The past is still here, realer than ever, but it’s old news.

My last four birthdays had each been a different shade of blue which left me feeling very apprehensive for this one and also, the bar wasn’t very high. I was hoping for the simplest of days possible. I wished for it to be just a regular Friday where I would do stuff in the morning, practice in the afternoon and go to the open mics in the evening. And, I’m happy to say it was just that: not extra but not fucking dark either. People were nice to me, I got cake, heard my mom’s voice and all went well. Unbelievable! Ha ha

I think I did cry at some point but I don’t remember now. I was, in fact, rather miserable all day long but that’s actually just the way it is. I turn into Eeyore on my birthday, each year. Don’t ask why, I’d just shrug and say I don’t know, although I do know (but the list is so long already and it keeps growing). But, yeah, despite the heaviness of it all, it was a decent birthday and the best I’ve had in a while (oh boy). And it’s nice now that the bar is so low because it can only mean that all the next ones will be better!

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To come back to the whole time limit drama, I think 18 year-old me would have been proud, to be honest. Back then, I couldn’t hold a tune, play a scale, write a song, travel alone for the sake of me, had never sang on a stage and was, to put it simply, a disastrous trainwreck with none of my issues under “control” (if acknowledged at all). All I had was a dream and hopes dangerously tied to a blinding despair.

Somehow, I survived all of these years through the storm and even the darkest of days where I had almost completely given up all. I guess I must have been sinking upwards, because the deeper I get, the brighter it keeps getting. *confused frown*

Point is, I have achieved so much in all of this short time!

Sure, the first three years and nine months showed rather slow progress, loads of regression actually, and painful growth.. It was a slow motion journey, dragging my weary bones all the way to where I am now. But the last three months of this journey were packed with progress, light, love, hope, confidence and my reborn fire. I swear, during these four years (could these be the content of the book I was mentioning earlier? would make sense!), the most progress I made was in July, August and September this year, all the way to today when I am writing this in my cosy bedroom.

I am not very sure how, but I managed to cram all the hard work that should have been slowly spread out over those years in three months. It was crazy how it all happened. But I’m glad it did now because I didn’t die. And I am living my best days, blooming a little more every minute into the person that I was made to be and connecting with all types of beautiful souls.

So, yeah… I am 22 now. Things are indeed on the way (and even maybe a little bit further than that). I am alive and well. Fire is burning real hard, I have all the fear and light to fuel it. My progress has been saved and from this point on, it’s only hmmm…. Sideways! It’s only sideways we go! (screw “up”)

This post is nothing like I wanted it to be, but you know what? I don’t give a asdfghjkl because, as it turns out, I am more focused on working hard right now and welcoming all that’s to come to care about what was and has been. Like I said, checkpoint has been passed, progress has been saved, my past isn’t going anywhere. As a matter of fact, it’s not going anywhere without me and, like my trustworthy sidekick it’ll always be right over my shoulder when I look back. So, no worries, you know I will be writing letters to my past again. can’tletgo

Nothing like a checkpoint to give you just enough confidence and fearlessness to run through the rest of a level like the mad man that you are.

Until next post, keep running! ❤

P.S.: I almost forgot, but last Thursday was Nostrum’s birthday! Our first year together!!! 🙂

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New pedals(aka my saviors); new me!

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Last Tuesday, I finally received my pedals! I had been eyeing them for a couple months now, carefully researching if they were indeed the best for me and which ones would be the best to kickstart my heart. So after having saved enough, I ordered them this month and in spite of a little delay caused by them running out of stock of the chorus pedal, I received them pretty quickly!

For around 201€ (including shipping), I got four pedals! Distortion, chorus, reverb and tremolo. AND, with Andertons Music Co. if you order two pedals, you get a free power supply as well as one of those little snakes that allows you to power up to five pedals at once! This is very practical since the Tone City pedals are very small and cannot be battery powered! And so I got not one but TWO sets of those free goodies!

Getting those pedals obviously took all my money! But I was very desperate and, it was all worth it!! I’ve been trying to save money this summer, but this wasn’t an opportunity I could pass! And also, since I met Maria and we’ve been going on adventures so that ‘s taken some money as well! But as soon as school starts I’ll start saving again! Hopefully!

I am not qualified enough to provide you with proper reviews of the pedals. But what I can assure you is that they are really good! They’re really pretty as well! The trem pedal, Tremble, has this nice little sparly-ish red color and it’s the most beautiful pedal I ever held in my hands! They’re perfect for me. I’d encourage you to take a look at the videos on Anderton’s YouTube channel to get a nice idea of them.

I don’t know much about anything but I can assure you that I’m in love!

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So, remember the break I took last week? Well, it’s all in the past now. Last Monday I jumped back in the open mic life and went to sing at the pub. And well, it was horrible…

I guess I was very rusty! Which made my already sensitive state worse. I just couldn’t handle anything to be honest! haha I got upset by every teeny mistake as well as the audience that night just not paying attention. And I know these are things I should play through and get used to. Usually I do. But I guess after a full week of not doing anything, I was a little too fragile!

Last Friday though, I went and sung at a new venue! And it went okay! I had a bit of a dry throat as I got onto the stage and my voice just didn’t have any power to it, I was struggling so bad to keep it up. But as I came off stage all my friends were telling me how good I was and how this was actually my best performance so far! Ha ha

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Now, the truth about that break is that is was far from being an actual break! Sure I didn’t do anything music related at all, really taking all the pressure off. But it was such an emotional roller-coaster!

One thing that I don’t I mentioned in my previous post is that one of the main reason I was so overwhelmed was for having played right-handed for all these weeks! That was draining me! And once again, my anxiety was actually just trying to warn me that I was doing something that I did not love!

Why keep playing the host guitar then instead of bringing good ol’ Nostrum with ye? Well, let me tell you why.

At my second open mic, all the way back in July, I had indeed brought Nostrum with me and played What are you without me? + What you are without me. But the sound was terrible. It being an open mic, you know, you can’t be too fussy about the set up. So, as much as you could hear everything alright, my guitar was coming out soulless. And I hated it because my favorite songs couldn’t shine bright!

Which has us circling back to the pedals: they were my only hope. I sat down on my bed that night and I was like, we can’t keep that up! The only solution I could see was to get some pedals so that, even if it’s still not an optimal sound, my guitar will at least give out some soul when I’m up there pouring out my heart! And so, I saved, then ordered, and you know the story.

But as I was waiting for them, I had to keep playing the right-handed host guitar. And, as much as I could handle it — I even got really good at the acoustic now with all that practice! — it was killing me, slowly, oh ever so slowly. It was like sugarcoated torture! I still enjoyed it but it felt wrong.

I knew that each night that I would play right-handed will take away some of my left-handed abilities as I would practice less with Nostrum… And so it did. And everytime I would pick my guitar up again, I’d be so bad at it. So, I was like shit now I have to work even harder! Which I guess only added to the pressure, which led to the anxiety fits. It was a nightmare!

On top of that, it just weakened my spirit so badly! I felt like I couldn’t be me fully not only because I cannot play all the songs I know as a right-handed, just a couple! But just because this isn’t me! Yet, everynight, I would get up on the stage and do it because I know that I need to be there a lot, to make connections and gain experience. But that was literally just killing me to have to be that weird mirror version of me with everything backwards. (By the way, I wrote a song about it! Which I haven’t posted anywhere just yet but I will, eventually!)

But it’s all over now! I’ve got the pedals and I’m feeling so much better already! I can breathe again thinking of the next open mics where I’ll get to be me, fully, again and sound somewhat okay! And it’s a big relief. These pedals are lifesavers and I will cherish them.

Now though, I have to work really hard to get my voice back on top and guitar-wise as well, I’m very far behind! I have to build up so much power, endurance, control and energy! But I’ll get there! School is back pretty soon which means I’ll get more practice time and I cannot wait!

This summer has presented me with so many challenges and boy did life slap me in the face!! I’ve learnt a lot! I’ve fallen quite a couple times as well. But I’m standing now, once more. And although I do feel very fragile, I am ready for all that’s to come! A little scared and tired, to be honest, but bring it on, anyways! I’ve got hopes, plans, and a little fire waiting to be fueled!

Until next post, remember that you got this! ❤

My first open mic experience!

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On Friday evening, I went to the Haven café in Cork to be a part of their weekly open mic night.

I remember when I woke up that morning, I was so excited and I just couldn’t wait for it! But waiting was all I would get to do on this fateful day. I mean, it was on at 8, so basically, ten hours after my breakfast, but there was more to it than I had bargained for. Once more, my patience & resolution were put to the test.

So, at around 7PM, this bright, hopeful cookie was at the door, with my host mom’s acoustic guitar (right-handed 😥 !), heading to the bus stop. I got there and was fifteen minutes early for my bus, so feeling pretty confident about making it on time (my intention to get there at least fifteen minutes early so I could cool down from the walking). That was all until I got caught up in a crowd of teenagers. I swear there were at least 40 of them. There were too many for me to be comfortable. And I was convinced there would be no room for me in the bus. Also, they were rude & pretty stupid. They were making fun of me, little did they know that I speak French and can sometimes understand some Spanish. *frowny face*

This eventually lead me to give up on my bus and walk down to Douglas to catch another bus. The buses down there get to the city much faster anyways, so I figured I’d be fine even though it was already quarter to by the time I got down there.

I had some time before the bus so I went to the bathroom. I was already so sweaty and tired. And I’m not gonna lie, this had already killed my spirit a little bit, but I had to keep going! So I got on the bus, and there, lovely surprise, the card machine was broken, therefore I didn’t have to pay for the bus! I sat down, quite satisfied of this small victory, and tried my best to breathe, calm down. In five minutes I would be in the city now. Except, no..

The bus had to make a little detour to the bus house thingy where all the buses go to sleep after their shift. What for? Well, to get a new card machine… That took us at least three minutes and I swear at this point, I was losing it. And when we eventually left, we had to stop again as the bus was making this high-pitched noise. Two more minutes. I was dying. Then, finally, we made it to the city.

Once again, I was walking so fast as if my life depended on it. I was three to four minutes away from the café, which was all the way to the other side of the quay. Now, you have to remember that there was no rush, had decided that there should be one. You know how it is once I set my mind on an idea… I really wanted to be there early, and since I wasn’t, my brain was on the “I’m late” mode. It was 8:03… Drama queen, I know!

Anyways, so I got there, really glad to see my friend Kart again! And Pete, a fellow singer-songwriter. (He is really good at playing the guitar, and plays the harmonica at the same time!) So, at last, amongst familiar faces, I could sit and enjoy the rest of the host’s performance. Kart then introduced me to everyone and then the magical night could begin…

The venue was a very cosy one. The stage was literally the back of the room, which made you level with everyone, which I guess contributed to the whole atmosphere. Everyone was friendly and supportive! It was definitely one of the best choices for a first time!!

I was third to perform! Which could I’ve freaked me out, but it didn’t! I remember that morning I kept having flashbacks to my theater performances from high school and university. I’ve actually always been quite fine with talking publicly and usually, being on a stage enhances my abilities! I remember when we used to rehearse our scenes in the classroom, I was “okay”, but every end of the year, when we would perform them on the stag, I would magically blow everyone away. But, guess I was a bit rusty…. It’s been more than three years since I’ve hit the stage after all…

Talking was fine. Although I did say “Hi!” AND “Hello!”. Like, what? These were exactly the two words I had forbidden myself to say as I was rehearsing that morning because I can never say them properly. I know it sounds stupid, but I can’t ever say a simple hi or hello, it always has to be weird. But it was okay nonetheless. I introduced myself and the song, and after that, I’m not sure what happened.

My voice was a little shaky but I tried as well as I could to keep it somewhat on track. Thing is, I was exhausted from all the running I did before, and my throat was as well, as I pushed a little too much during rehearsal that morning. So, I wasn’t breathing, projecting or even putting any emotion in it. It’s almost as if I wasn’t there. I was doing it, barely trying. I definitely did not give it all I had.

There was barely any energy. Breathing almost non existent. Therefore my vocals weren’t on point. Yet, somehow, it wasn’t so bad. And you know what? I picked two songs I know really well, which I would therefore not mess up too much, if at all, right? And, I forgot some of the lyrics in the Brandi song?? And then almost messed up a word in my own song???!!

What I am proud of though is that I kept going after the mess ups! Which is exactly what you should do, right?! Don’t let them know, show must go on! So, I guess that even though my vocals weren’t exactly my best and didn’t display a nice percentage of my abilities, I still handled the situation okayly. Considering the nerves and exhaustion!

But that it just my side of the story!

Everyone else actually enjoyed it. Which, I guess is what should matter in this situation! I mean, the point of a performance is to share, right? So, as much as you should enjoy it; what truly matters is if the audience enjoys it!

I got some nice clapping, which was quite confusing because I did not consider myself that good. So I figured they were just being polite.. But then, at the end of the night, when we were all packing to go home, I had many of the musicians come to me and tell me they really enjoyed my original song. And I was really surprised! Sadly, I was definitely getting sleepy by then and wasn’t exactly the most social being, all I could say was “thanks, thanks, haha, sure, yeah”.

I also had a little chat with the sound guy(??i think??), he was telling me how it was a nice song, and how it’s great to be able to tell a story. AND, he told me about a recording session thingy that they do in the café every Thursday evenings and that I should definitely drop by one time, to maybe record one of my songs. So, I’ll probably check it out this week and you will definitely hear about it if I do(which I will)!

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The Haven Café, Friday 13th, July 2018

So, that was it for my first ever musical performance, guys! It wasn’t as magical as I had imagined, it was in fact, pretty normal. But I enjoyed every bit of it!

I loved the supportive atmosphere and the diversity of the performances! Watching others play was both, entertaining, and educating. There is loads to learn from just watching people with more experience! Which reminds me of this quote from Frank Iero: “The best way to become a better player is to play with someone better than you“.

Everyone was so talented! And watching them share their personal songs like this was just, wow! And I remember the last one especially, he blew me away with his guitar skills. My eyes were struggling to keep open, but I swear I didn’t dream it! I don’t really remember people’s name, but I will learn them eventually! I’m definitely going back next Friday anyway, so I’ll probably see all of them again!

The venue was really nice and definitely the best for a first time! I’m so glad that Kart recommended it to me! She is such a good person! So nice to me and always introducing me to everyone and taking pictures! Bless her soul!!

Sadly, we didn’t get any videos of the night. Which at first I thought was a bummer, but then, on the bus back home, I realized it wasn’t so much of a bad thing not to have a physical trace of this first time. It wasn’t so bad, but I’d rather not have physical proof of it, you know what I mean? I’ll always have a nice memory of it and that is more than enough!! He he

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So, what I gathered from this first performance is that I need to work thrice as hard and twice as fast! I was definitely not satisfied with my performance so you can be sure that this hardworking cookie is going to get even more serious about things from now on!

Next time, I will actually give it my best and maybe get a video! 😉 And, I will get better, and better, and better, and better, and better, and better!

Here’s to more performances!!

I will be going to a different open mic on Monday night! And then once again to that one on Friday! Then the same one next Monday. And then probably going to fancy Gallagher’s on the Wednesday after that! And hopefully, that will keep going for the rest of the summer holidays?

We’ll see how it goes, and of course, I will keep updates on my journey as regular as they come on my precious, precious little blog!

 

Stressed out fire that can’t focus on sh*t

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There’s a fire in my bones, fire in my heart that guides me through the dark.

With one of the kids being off school earlier than usual today, my morning free time was halved. It wasn’t a surprise or anything, in fact, I was already prepared mentally for the struggle of it all. However, I feel like I didn’t make the most out of it… And, although I did do the work I had planned, I was left rather disappointed and frustrated by the end of it.

The truth is that, with the kids’ holidays last week, I hadn’t sung/played the guitar for more than nine days, and it left me rusty. And it’s always a hard pill to swallow when I come back from such a long break to find my voice all flat and powerless. I tried to power through it this morning, though. But I was so out of shape and the energy wasn’t there so it all came out wrong. And even though I did work, I felt like I hadn’t.

I can’t hide that it bothers me oh so very much not to be able to work quite as hard as I’d like lately, especially after this long break where it feels like it’s necessary to grind even harder! But I’m still trying to find comfort in the actions and reassure myself that, although I’m not doing as much as I’d like, I’m still doing something and that’s good. Even just a little bit everyday makes a huge difference in the end!

I’m flying for my official holidays this Friday and I’ve just been really focused on the idea of practicing as much as I can before I leave. I know I will still be able to work on my voice once I’m there, but it won’t be the same, as I won’t have all the theory books and my guitar and all my stuff…

But it’s just been so hard for me these past few weeks to get anything done at all! I blame it on the sun and the heat, which, even in very low doses, can render me pretty much useless. I don’t think it’s just that. There’s probably a lot of stress hiding in the shades also. About traveling a long way on my own, Esther leaving, all that’s to come after, etc.

And, I think that’s gotta be the main thing really that might make my body and mind so restless that they can’t focus on those things they enjoy so much! It’s all that I know will be coming after the holidays, when I come back and start setting the first stones to build this empire of mine. I am scared. I am excited. And I certainly am worried in ways I don’t think I’ve ever been before.

I’ve been trying to get down a rough esquisse of a plan to reassure myself, but so far, it’s proven harder than I thought it would. Because, as much as I’m all about “Fuck plans!”, I know that having kind of the big lines of the start of this big thing written down before my eyes would help me cope better with the idea of dreams becoming reality! And I think I’ll only be able to do that once I am back home, as the distance will give me a better view of the bigger picture!

And anyways, you know me, I’ll keep trying through the frustration and despondency. Even if that means I have to fail everyday. Because there’s nothing else I’d rather do and there’s nothing else worth getting tired & bruised over. I only have three days left, and I will try to fit as much theory and practice as I can into what’s left of free time until then. Tomorrow is theory day so we’ll see how that goes for me!!

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Even if that means I have to fail everyday, I’ll keep trying.

I hope that these three days get to be filled with as much vocal practice and theory (and Italian) as my dream-filled mind can allow in this very blurry moment of my life!

And same for you, reader! I hope that the rest of your week is filled with whatever it is you need/wish it to be. And I wish you to feel very content with the way it went as you take off your shoes on Friday night, ready to enjoy the weekend. I hope you shine really bright and that your days are sprinkled with many lovely little details to make you feel complete. ❤