Day 5: Love Your Theme

I changed my theme today. I really didn’t wanna do it at first, but I did. I was using Retro-fitted for 8 months so I guess it was time for a change…but I don’t like change. I’m not sure if anyone truly does, but sometimes we just have to bite the bullet and do it. Sometimes it can feel good! It did today.

The assignment for Day 5 was to try out 3 different themes, even if it was different from what you’d normally choose. I ended up choosing Matala (as you can see). I love the color and the beautiful imperfection of it all. It looks like someone was painting over an old wall. (Shoutout to Matt Mullenweg for creating this!) That strip of paper as the navigation bar is cool too. I like that. I feel like it represents who I am in a way – Organized, yet slightly scattered and partially flawed…but still enduring…still in progress. I guess I could customize it more if I wanted to, but after a freak lentil incident (I dropped cooked lentils all over my kitchen floor and dining room carpet. You can call me Miz Butterfingers) I am pressed for time and still have a lot I want to get done before the day’s out! Maybe another day I’ll get to adding my own personal flair you know, when I have more time and patience and all that.

The other themes I did try but didn’t like were Chunk and Sight. Sight was nice but wasn’t really the look I was going for. I felt it was devoid of personality and color. I also didn’t like how small the tagline was and how it wasn’t under the title. I did like how it looked on tablets and smartphones though; It has what’s called a responsive layout. (You learn something new everyday!) Chunk was okay, but I didn’t like how the navigation bar was backwards from what it’s always been; “Home” was the last button and “Twenty-Four / Seven” was the first. The Matala structure is more along the lines of Retro-fitted but definitely shows a lot more personality and creativity (IMO). It was worth scrapping the responsive layout to have something more expressive.

That’s all for today, folks! I’ll be back tomorrow 🙂

Day 4: Explore The Neighborhood

Roe_brook

Today I spent a leisurely Sunday afternoon grabbing iced coffees with one of my dearest friends and because of the warmer weather we had today, I suggested we stroll over to the park. She snapped this picturesque photo of me (and my behind). Look at that sky! So many people were out today with their kids and dogs, taking in what they could of the fresh air before we are plummeted back into the freezing temperatures typical to a northeast winter.

Though I did literally (yet unintentionally) “explore the neighborhood” today, I wanted a post to go along with my challenge even though it wasn’t required I do one. I had to follow five new topics and begin to find blogs/bloggers I like.

Well, I definitely followed more than five topics (I followed 11) and the readers I ended up following appeared when I connected my Facebook/Twitter/Gmail accounts. As to following other readers, we’ll have to wait and see; I’ll have to take some time to explore the blog landscape and see what I like and who I feel inclined to follow. What I will do now though is go through the topics I followed and list why I did (in case you were curious) ;).

Zerotohero – It’s the name of this 30 day challenge and the tag that brings all us participants together to view each other’s work. The post suggested I follow it in order to easily connect with others. Can’t hurt!

Joseph Campbell – I’ve gone on about Campbell before in some of my musings and I’ve read many of his books. If you don’t know about him, the abridged version is he was one of the greatest American thinkers of the 20th century. His written works and lectures span comparative religion and mythology as he found a common thread between all world religions and myths linking it to the world at large, our inner individual psychology, and how we relate to it. He has transformed my thinking so much and although it’s only been two years since I got into him, I will go as far as to say I would be lost in life without his guidance. He died before I was born, but I really wish I had a chance to meet him. He discusses really great stuff and I would suggest him to anyone seeking purpose or direction in life. Reading his words you will come across small epiphanies in every paragraph, and it is a wonderful and enlightening thing. I love connecting with other Campbell-ites, so I definitely want to stay in the loop at all times!

Bill Moyers -Bill Moyers has been and is still (IMO) one of the most cutting edge journalists/TV Hosts of our time. He broke Joseph Campbell into the mainstream media by interviewing him and releasing those interviews through a program on PBS titled, “The Power of Myth“. Campbell unfortunately passed away before their release, so he did not get to witness the impact his had on millions of viewers. This six-part interview is also a great introduction to Campbell’s work; I got into Campbell through this series and his biography, A Fire In The Mind. But aside from that, Moyers is still active today with his show, “Moyers & Company” on PBS where he discusses current events and issues plaguing our nation and interviews great intellectuals, writers, scientists, and thinkers. I’ve recently seen episodes where he interviews astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, author Richard Slotkin, environmentalist Bill McKibben, and David Simon who created the hit show, “The Wire” alongside his other journalistic/creative writing endeavors. Really fascinating stuff. I always appreciate hearing Moyers’ insight and input. He has an open, intelligent mind mind and tries his best to understand whoever is sitting across the table from him.

Carl Jung – Jung was really instrumental in shaping Campbell’s writings and since reading Campbell, I’ve been really turned on to him. I had the opportunity of reading the autobiography of the famous Swiss psychologist (Memories, Dreams, Reflections) this summer and, wow. What a trip! It requires some dedication to understand Jung’s perspectives and reasonings, but when you do everything just clicks. He was the one who coined the phrase, “collective unconscious” and realized the power of dream as a means of communication by the unconscious to the conscious self; It is a way to inform the conscious of what is happening within and without. Coincidentally, I ended up reading his autobiography after having a dream about him (I’ll have to blog about that one later. I think I’ve written it down somewhere). I figured it was a sign to explore his thinking and further enlighten myself. Hopefully by following Carl Jung topic posts, the enlightenment can continue!

Neil Postman – Postman is yet another inspiring thinker and author. I read his Amusing Ourselves To Death and though original published in the early 80s, the book has never been more spot on. He discusses the decline of the printed word and the increase of images as means of informing our culture. (Hello? Vine and Instagram, anyone?) He also discusses how technology but most specifically how and why television is a detrimental medium for learning and informing a society. In his opinion it increases passivity, indifference, and apathetic moods. He dissects television news and why it must not be viewed as news but as entertainment. (Frantic theme music, a new story within a span of 20 seconds, jumping from morbid events to a heartwarming story, etc) I actually just reblogged a video of a PBS interview he did. I found by clicking on the tag, if you care to watch.

Dairy-free – I’ve been lactose-intolerant for almost 3 years so any time I can get some dairy-free cooking into my life, I’ll take it! I drink almond milk, use Daiya cheese, eat soy and almond yogurt, and buy coconut milk ice cream in the summer.

Gluten Free Beer – I don’t have Celiac’s but contrary to my doctor’s belief, I do have a gluten sensitivity. Like my mom I get intense (and annoying) muscle spasms and inflammation around my rib cage area, particularly my upper ribcage and sides when I eat bread, pasta, flour, etc. I don’t like chancing pain so I’ve been pretty strict with myself when it comes to ingesting gluten, no matter what form. I don’t have a lactase pill to fall back on like if I were to accidentally eat dairy. This began less than a year ago and although my blood results came back negative to gluten sensitivity, all I know is when I don’t eat (or drink) gluten I feel fine – but I love beer! So I figured I’d follow to Gluten Free Beer tag and get the word on what’s good. I like Bard’s, Redbridge, Woodchuck Cider, Angry Orchard, and Dogfish Head makes a nice GF beer too. But I can’t stand New Planet Ale though. BLEH. I’m looking to become more informed and see what kind of GF beers are out there. I don’t frequent the liquor store often but when I do, I like to know what I’m buying beforehand.

Job Hunting – I’m still just as unemployed than when I started this blog about 9 months ago. Well, I guess that’s not entirely true. I do have an internship now (unpaid). But still. The search never seems to end. I plan on retouching my résumé and LinkedIn and refocusing my job prospects. It’s hard out there for a non-business graduate. Feels like the world doesn’t want you sometimes – and the bastard child feeling gets old real quick.

Saves The Day – How can I not keep up on posts about my favorite band in the world? 🙂

Music Industry – As a MI grad, it’s probably necessary for me to keep up on what’s going on within my respective field. Despite all the music industry related people/companies/organizations I follow on Twitter, it’s good to check in on another social network medium.

Album Review – I chose to follow this topic because it’s something I want to get better at. I don’t think I was ever taught on how to write a legit album review. Based on the many I’ve read I think there’s a certain way to go about it, including what kind of words to use and how to describe certain sounds and genres. In any case, I just want to read how other people are doing it so I have more of a foundation how to do it myself.

Day 3: What’s On Your Mind?

I should’ve done this post yesterday, but after an eventful day in the city and a visit from my uncle who recently moved to Florida I was quite exhausted at the end of the day. Needless to say, I’m making up for it now.

What’s On Your Mind? – Write the post that was on your mind when you first started a blog OR draft a post you’ve been holding back.

Well, I think I already wrote the former as I broke down my crisis in Post-Grad Psychotherapy. I started blogging a month after graduation and really just needed a place to spill my guts, a place that didn’t have to stay secret in my notebook so people could read and connect with my words. Since then I’ve written about other things, but I still keep a keen eye observing everything and everyone around me, trying to figure out how to live in the world, how to get started, how to make my mark.

I wouldn’t say I’ve been “holding back” a post, but I would like to recount and reflect on my first Saves The Day concert. It’s a story I don’t think I’ve fully told before.

***********

My first Saves The Day concert was Friday, October 24th, 2008 at Highline Ballroom in New York. I had just turned 18-years-old 20 days before and I was not a constant show-goer so this was a big deal for me. I would even go as far as to say it was probably my first concert in New York. (If any friends wish to correct me, please do!)

I had really gotten into Saves The Day about a year prior. It was probably around the peak of Frostwire, Limewire, Mediafire, and all other means of illegal downloading. I had a method every time I was searching for new music and back then I did it all the time. My iPod couldn’t even hold all the songs I had in my iTunes, and I eventally had so many songs I went as far as deleting applications off my computer so I could hold on to them all because I was always on the brink of running out of memory. But anyway, my method went a little like this: If I knew the name of a band but wasn’t familiar with their music, or if a festival’s lineup was announced regardless whether I was going to it or not I would go through the list, rack my brains for that name I had heard, and download everything I could find. (For the record, I don’t do this anymore. I stream now. Downloaded music is a thing in the past to me.) Saves The Day was one of these bands, but I discovered 100s of new bands this way and ended up seeing quite a few of them in concert, which led me to buying merch, tickets, and music legally. (The upsides to illegal downloading IMO, the record companies just don’t seem to see it that way. I may blog about this conundrum in the future.)

After downloading these songs, I’d put my iPod on shuffle and wait for one to grab me. (This method worked really great, by the way.) In 2007, I had downloaded a bunch of Saves The Day songs and was listening to my iPod on shuffle when suddenly one of them did grab me. That song was “Anywhere With You“. Little did I know that song was the first track off Saves’ arguably most controversial album, ‘In Reverie‘; Compared to their last three albums IR was awash with a kind of dream-pop feel, chord complexities, multi-part harmonies, and exquisite melody lines previously unheard in their punk/pop-punk/emo releases. Frontman Chris Conley’s voice had changed and his songwriting had reached a new level entirely – and it was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard. From that one song I became ravenous, searching for their albums, making sure no audio file went unturned so I could complete my collection. I became aware of my friends who were listening to them, and I asked a million questions about their fluctuating lineup, voice changes, and their discography in general. Who was this band? When were they touring? Where could I find their guitar tabs so I can play their songs?

So in 2008 I found their tour schedule, begged a friend to come with me, begged my parents to go by ourselves, and embarked on my first of many Saves The Day shows. I drove us to the bus stop and we took the bus into Port Authority. We had dinner in Times Square and took a cab to Highline. I still remember the line out the door and the dark, dingy look of the buildings within the Meatpacking District. I would later learn not only was the show a part of a CMJ Showcase, but it was in fact sold out. We shuffled inside as the opening band, Moneen started to play. I remember striking up an awkward conversation with the merch guy. I think I asked him how long he’d been selling merch for or something really weird like that and proceeded to tell him I was thinking about studying the music business in college. He politely conversed with me before I put him out of his misery and bought a Saves The Day shirt and went inside. I remember feeling incredibly young and out of place in a 20-something crowd. Everyone was drinking beer in bottles and I tried to act tough, saying to my friend I’d pay someone to buy me one if I didn’t have the ACTs the next day. Oh yes, I felt like a total badass because I had be up at 8 AM the next day to take a silly standardized test and here I am in the city seeing my favorite band without a care in the world.

The crowd started to fill in as Kevin Devine took the stage. This show was a real treat because this was the first time I saw Kevin and he knocked my socks off, not knowning it was the first step in making me a fan for life. I distinctly remember him screaming his lungs out to “Brother’s Blood” and just staring transfixed at his outpouring emotion. All I remember of Saves The Day that night was a happy blur. Just being so excited and in disbelief that there they were right in front of me and Chris was singing right in front of me. Half-aware that the crowd had grown to a sea of people shouting lyrics back and forth as we swayed to the natural ebb and flow of the push and pull, typical of a Saves The Day crowd. I didn’t take any pictures or video but just watched, as I do today. I’d only been a fan for about a year and had only memorized the words to a handful of songs but my eyes were wide just taking in the lights and music. What I do specifically remember is Chris introducing a new song, which I realized later was “Daybreak“, no one knowing that song and album would not be released until about 3 years later due to frequent lineup changes. My friend and I might’ve left a little early to take our bus back. I don’t remember exactly. But it was a wonderful night that I will remember forever. I would not see them again until May 2010 at the Bamboozle Festival 2 years later, miraculously getting into meet and greet line without a pass before I saw their incredible set.

What’s so interesting about the whole ACT bit is that the score I ended up getting (24) ended up being two points shy of getting into my first choice school – Drexel University. I was refused acceptance to Drexel because of this sole reason. Ramapo College was my second choice and therefore bumped up to first to my then-dismay. I begrudgingly agreed to go to Ramapo and enroll in their Music Industry and Production programs. A year later, Saves The Day was announced as our fall concert and I somehow managed to be assigned Assistant Stage Manager with a friend of mine. (If you care to read my “fangirl” recollection written a day or two after the show, you may do so here…Don’t judge…) That night, that show, and that day went down in Roe history as I not only got some one-on-one time with the band but also got a birthday shoutout. Thinking life could not possibly get better, I later went on to be awarded a scholarship after writing about Chris Conley and how he was one of my main musical influences and why. A year later, I would play and sing “Here, There And Everywhere” with Chris in the Starland Ballroom parking lot after a show in December, the day before Christmas Eve. Two years after that, I would make a daydream come true by accompanying Chris and playing “The Way His Collar Falls” at a secret show at the Warehouse Motor Club in Middlesex, NJ bringing the B-Side song out of retirement from the usual Saves The Day setlist.

One could argue Saves The Day was the reason I got a 24 on my ACTs, the reason why I didn’t get into Drexel. But had I got in, would I be telling you the same story now? That Ramapo show was a springboard that led to so many wonderful things in my life. Saves The Day is the reason I am who I am today. Since 2008, I have seen Saves The Day 14 times and have no plans to stop. Each show is a transcendent experience that I cherish and can be equated with nothing else I know to be of this world. There is a magic that goes on in the crowd and on stage, energy and emotions always at peak levels. Saves The Day has been the soundtrack to my life for 7 years…and I couldn’t have asked for more fitting accompaniment. 

Day 2: What’s Your Name?

♫”Oh, na-na -“♫

Just kidding, Rihanna fans.

Today’s challenge is, What’s Your Name?. The assignment: To edit the title and tagline of my blog and make a text widget summarizing what my blog is all about.

Well I didn’t want to change the title. I like “Roe Knows Best” a lot. It just has a nice ring to it. Since I’m kind of floundering about my daily life with my indifferent expectations and unknown future ahead, I guess that’s the kicker – What exactly do I know? The darker part of my psyche says, “Nothing! You know absolutely nothing! What are you doing? Get back into bed and bask in sublime unconsciousness forever”. But another voice, no louder than the whisper of wings, tugs back and replies, “You are figuring it out. This is the beginning of your journey. The longer you keep at it, the more will be revealed to you. All in good time”. And maybe that’s my goal: To eventually have the answers to my many questions, blogging about my experiences and realizations so it becomes knowledge others can utilize when they find themselves in the same boat as me. I like connecting and sharing stories. One of the many joys I get out of performing live is having the few listeners approach me afterwards expressing their exuberance that I sang about something they’ve known too well, something they’ve been going through too! “This is what happened to me. I can’t believe it happened to you too!” Connections. It feels good when that happens. I feel like I’ve successfully contributed to something; I’ve made contact somehow.

I did ponder the tagline though: “23-year-old college grad in a constant state of curiosity and (self)discovery”. I feel like I’ve evolved since this past June when I began the blog. Not to say I’m not still in those constant states, but now that I’ve written a few posts I wanted to redefine the scope and rephrase what I’m all about. So I changed it to,”23-year-old college grad surfing the tidal wave of Life”. Now, I don’t surf. Never have. Maybe one day I will, but I cling to that surfing metaphor; I feel its accuracy is profound. Because isn’t that all what it is? Us trying to keep our balance through our respective thrills and terrors, trying not to wipe out and fall off the board?

I added the text widget, as you can probably see on your upper right. I may change the words around, but I figured that was the best way I could summarize the blog. Like a piece of dough being flattened by a rolling pin, I am still working myself out and trying to figure what I’m all about. It’s a process, but writing helps me put things into perspective.

And I thank you most graciously for reading 🙂