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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Vulnerability & free pints

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I wrote two songs on Wednesday and boy, am I proud of them. They really managed to bring out some deep feelings/fears/hopes, and I think that’s mostly because they’ve been sitting drafts for six months now. I hope to be able to share them with you in the near future 😉

Sometimes, certain ideas/thoughts need to marinate before they can bloom into anything shareable, I must let them steep in flavors before I can cook them. And there’s just no other way, I can try and push them, but it won’t happen unless their heart is ready to beat.

These two did their time and even though I knew I would finish them this week, I was still surprised when it happened.

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Last week, I could hear them call out to me. Like ghosts, haunting me, in every corner of my mind, I’d hear their echoes, I’d see their colors, I’d feel them taking shape under my skin, boiling in my blood. And so when I sat down on Wednesday, they simply poured right out of me. I was overwhelmed as I looked at the small crumpled piece of paper that barely managed to hold these two freshly reopened wounds. But above everything, I was beyond excited to share them.

So, on Friday night, I was eager to play them live for the first time to a small crowd at the Haven open mic. Although my throat was very dry (despite my religiously drinking my mandarin peel infusion, but I’ll blame it on my nervousness) and breath support was barely happening, my performance was fine. Exceptionally emotional. My voice was struggling to get out there and stay on track, but I had these emotions coming pouring out of me that I almost cried on the second song. And it hit me that the wounds had never closed.

That second song I performed is called A different ending and is about dreadful separations, losing friends, love… But it’s not just hopelessness, there’s also a painful hopefulness deeply tied to the despair.

It took all these months for the song to tell me what it was aching for me to sing. At first I thought it was going to be simple, but then, when I was finishing it, writing those last lines, I found out that it was actually a song about my lost friend(s). And so much more. But, when I recorded it raw to give my close friends a listen, I was fine. So I did not expect me to break down while performing it. And boy, was that foolish of me.

There were sparks as I sang it but I guess I didn’t get it yet. When I performed it that night, I almost choked on my own heart as it was imploding with emotions. And as I was holding back the tears and keeping on singing, I realized I wasn’t over it. I mean, me, getting over something? Ha, ha! I knew I wasn’t but I thought, maybe, just maybe the pain had left, at least… And, as I have always preached, sharing the art is what truly gives life to it. A different ending came to life in the Haven, left the room silent and made the cracks on my heart glow again.

Anyways. I don’t really want to linger on and on on this. What I really wanted to write about is this vulnerability that I’ve been feeling very intensely lately! Which, I’d like to emphasize, is not a bad thing at all.

It’s no surprise if I tell you that going up on a stage, to do anything at all, can be a nerve-wracking experience. Although, usually, once you start, it gets better as you realize instant death under the audience’s gaze was only a spooky pipe dream. And even if you’re not super comfortable you realize you can survive it and if you’ve been blessed with bad eyesight (like the me) you might not even see the people in the room, and maybe for a split second you’ll tell yourself you could definitely do that again. It ain’t that bad. You might not like it, but at least you’ll know that it’ll take more than a room full of blurry people to take you down.

The real vulnerability I’m pointing my finger at right now though, is the one that comes with climbing on that stage with all your guts exposed and a screen on your chest. With my many (lolzor) years of theater in high-school/university, I’ve met people for whom a show is just that, a show, you know a persona, it’s all pretend. But I’ve never been that way. I like things to feel real, to be real and so I’ve always made a point to be honest in all I do. Well, at least in my art.

The closest experience I’ve ever had to what happened on Friday was during my last year of high school, when I played Ophelia from Hamlet, and went full-blown tragedy. That shit was intense when I played it for my final exam, I could feel all the feelings burning right through me. And all of it was real. We were the same person every time I would get up on a stage to play my scene and with time, we grew closer and closer. And the thing is that, with songs, it’s even worse..

Being on a stage already puts you in a vulnerable position, we got that. However, when you bring with you your very own songs, which you wrote with whatever came out first, tears, blood or whatever fueled your riffs, it’s even greater than simple vulnerability could describe it. Because these songs are made of you, it’s not just your vision of something else, it’s literally you (& more). And having to play these, especially when they reach as deep as A Different Ending and Find Me do, is…. Something else.

It is some type of bittersweet terror, I’d say. I put my all in these songs, not just energy and time, but also heart and I’m pretty sure parts of my soul end up in everything I make as well. They reached really deep into me (and I am learning, wishing, to go even deeper). And as much as I was dying to share them so I could breathe life into them and feel them fully, there was also this fear.

The last time I had to play a freshly written song live was with This Isn’t Me back in summer. But I didn’t apprehend it as much because this song, although being made of raw feelings of then, was not as deep. This time, though, I knew it would be different because these two new songs are actually me plucking my heart’s strings and the sounds it makes are hauntingly sincere. And, I swear, standing up in front of eight or twenty people, pouring your very heart out, takes more strength than you could imagine.

I would very much like to keep going because I still have loads of thoughts to share, but I have to cut this “short” now since I’d like to spend some time on my guitar (and theory books aaaaah) and if time allows it, maybe paint a thing or two. So, I will just add one more thing and then I will release your eyes.

All of Friday evening, apart from the emerging sadness after my performance, I was thinking about the reason why. Because I’ve felt many different things these past few weeks and sometimes I got discouraged and sincerely asked myself, what on earth is the point of all of this? And as I sat down and listened to these beautiful souls sharing their songs, I looked around me and within, and I just knew. That’s what we do.

We feel things intensely. We see things differently. And we morph them into bridges from reality to surreality or mirrors in which each can find their own truths and never be wrong. We turn ramblings of our souls into songs and nothing can compare to the cries of your heart echoing in someone else’s and feeling a whole room breathe to the beat of your pain & joy.

I refuse to let anyone, not even myself, ever try to convince me that art is pointless and life is meaningless. Because art fuels souls and the light each of us tiny stars emit keeps the Universe alive. And if it wasn’t for all of these passionate specks of dust, then there would be nothing.  You try and imagine a world without music, without colors or love. It’s everywhere and cannot be erased.

And that is why we were all in that room on Friday night. And that is why I kept on singing when I doubted. And it is why I won’t ever stop. 

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At the Brù on Monday

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! ❤

Running Gag (original song)

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This is about never giving up, even when life gets you down and pain&fear grips your throat tighter than skinny jeans.

Words:

I keep turning the pages of this book that makes no damn sense

And it’s hard to keep my head in the game when my heart’s in pieces

I don’t know where I’m going to

But I gotta keep running

I’m terrified of all that’s to come

But I can’t stay down and dream this life away

There’s pain and lies and blood and fights

But there’s still light and love for me to find

So I gotta keep running

I don’t want to let bad experiences and fear hold me back.

It’s easy to just sit back and refrain from trying. You can build a nice little empire in your head without ever having to struggle and suffer; a dream world. But I refuse. And I know that there’s Light and Love everywhere.

Gotta keep running through the pain and fear and remember that this is all perfect and beautiful, only not in a fairytale way.

Remember, fear is fuel to your fire. Eat it. Don’t let it eat you.

Until next post, keep running! ❤

Dry Mouth (Original Song)

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Here’s a song I wrote a couple of weeks ago about not being able to write songs:

My voice had some trouble coming out (you should have heard me warming up… a disaster! hehe) and my fingers had forgotten how to dance, but in my opinion, this is still pretty decent. Especially with the huge lack of practice + unhealthy amount of caffeine in my body!

I will be recording a better video next week, but for now that’ll be it! I’ve just been dying to share it, and after those long four days of break, I was bursting to share it.

The ending still needs some work. Which, of course, you can’t really tell since I mess it up in this video, haha! But overall, I think this is a really good song. I love the melody and how the chorus picks up.

I think it accurately describes my frustration and this longing… I just want to create but, sometimes it just won’t happen, and it kills me because this is how I breathe. And like I have mentioned, I do have loads of song ideas, drafts and things to say; but it won’t come out.

And I think it is funny how this song literally dropped out of my mouth while I was crying about not being able to finish the others. It’s almost the exact same story as when I wrote Dead Pen a couple of years back!

Round in circles…

Anyways, I don’t have time to chat right now! I must work on my Italian now and then finish working on special presents for E!

Here are the words that did come out:

It’s not that I don’t have anything to say
It’s just that my words have left me
It’s not that my heart isn’t broken
It’s just that my mouth is dry

I’ve been waiting for so long
For the words to fall right out
But my guts refuse to bleed
So I’ll just have to wait here

I hear my voice but I don’t know who she is
I write down words but they mean nothing to me
I stab my own heart but the blood it won’t come out
It’s just like my soul is dry

I’ve been waiting for so long
For my hands to dance freely
My fingers refuse to bleed
So I’ll just have to wait…

I’ll wait forever if I have to
It’s nothing without me, I’m nothing without this
I’ll wait…
I just don’t wanna fade..

I’ve been waiting for so long
For my voice to burst right out
But my heart it just won’t show
So I’ll just have to wait.

In the Mourning by Paramore||cover

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I posted a cover of a Paramore song on my YouTube channel today, and it’s not perfect.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it is terrible. I know it’s okay and that I am actually good at the things I love doing. But that doesn’t make me any less aware of my mistakes and when there’s room for improvement.

What I am saying is that I am simply not ready to actually perform this, not even just to my host family. Ha ha But I’m getting there!!

There were mistakes that could’ve been avoided and I could’ve simply tried again for a better take. Then why did I post it? Because I wanted to. Ha!

Although I know I could’ve done better, I’m still happy with what I did. And posting it online just helped me realize that I have indeed been working. I had a really slow morning where I felt like I wasted most of my time and I was beating myself up over it. But after I posted this on my channel, it showed me that I was actually doing work and trying hard and that I needed to chill my horses.

That’s why I keep posting clips on Instagram and sometimes unpolished videos on YouTube, because it comes with instant feel-goodness. There’s a faint feeling of fulfillment whenever I post it, no matter how much room for improvement there is. I’m like, “yes, I did a thing” and what better thing for an artist to make a thing?

Also, I need to keep track of and document my progress as I go. Not only because I’m lacking storage space on my phone. (hehe) And honestly, I think I am responsible for than half of the views on my own videos/posts because I’m always going back to see where I come from and how much I’ve improved!

Like Philip Toledano put it, “there are two requirements to be an artist: to be narcissistic and to be delusional. Can’t lie; I’m guilty of both to some extent. Let’s not forget a pinch of self-doubt and an exaggerated amount of perfectionism? Alright, I’ll work on my definition…

Anyways. I’m over waiting for it to be perfect to put it out there! People need to be aware that things don’t happen overnight, that the road is long and also that humans are only humans. Just put it out there. You’ll get better, and that way, it’ll show.

Until next post, don’t be so hard on yourself! ❤