Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Austin City Limits 2010

The Wait.

After nearly 6 months of anticipation, painfully watching the calendar, sorting through the line-up, and then the schedule, and then the map, feeling similar to a kid on Christmas Eve, it was finally here: Austin City Limits Music Festival 2010. Now to say I was excited about this would be accurate. To say I was giddy as a school girl would be closer to the actual truth. This would not just be my first ACL, but my first multi-day outdoor music festival ever. So I was definitely curious to see just how well I'd do. Most people who know me know that I do tend to go to a lot of shows, so the idea of doing it for 10 hours a day, 3 days in a row definitely seemed right down my alley. With that as my only justification for spending 185 dollars 6 months before the festival (and 3 months before the line-up), I pulled the trigger. Now it was finally here.

The Eve.

Part of my excitement and anticipation also came from the fact that the Friday of the festival would be my first day off from work since I started there March 8th. Having already seen Phantogram at Mohawk earlier during the week, I was more than pumped and prepared to get the festival underway. So me and some friends decided to go check out an official ACL pre-show Thursday night at La Zona Rosa. Neon Indian was playing with Prefuse 73, and tickets were easy to get thanks to 5 or 6 other big name acts doing pre-shows that night (who am I kidding, I got my ticket like a month in advance... but mainly because the Black Keys sold out in 10 minutes). Prefuse 73 was a surprisingly good show with a lot of percussion and a decent light show, and Neon Indian was even more impressive. A shot or two of Jameson and a few beers during the show led to an appropriately drunken night of a lot more shots of Jameson on dirty 6th. A late, but very successful ACL Eve.

The Beginning

Naturally being that excited, I was up by 8:30 even with the late bedtime. Nursing only a slight hang over, and knowing we had a long day ahead of us, we loaded up on some Magnolia's brunch. A few shots back at the apartment and off we were in cabs headed to Zilker. It took everything in me not to break out in a sprint to the gates when we got out of the taxi (I probably would have if I knew where the hell I was going). A few long lines at the bag check (which was surprisingly and thankfully pretty lenient), and to get my wristband and we were finally in. The weather was a perfect 86 degrees sunny and breezy, and we walked around a bit till we found a nice spot at the AMD stage for Blues Traveler. Seeing John Popper do a killer Radiohead cover of "Creep" was definitely the highlight of that set. We stayed near to make sure we had good seats for the next band but did get to catch some Miike Snow playing next door at the Honda stage. Next up came one of the bands I was most excited to see on the line-up, The Black Keys. They of course killed it, and I managed to down about 50 dollars worth of beer between 2 and 5 in the refreshingly warm sun. This was the absolute perfect state of mind to be in to walk back next door to see Beach House. I daydreamed and danced to Victoria and considered the day a success... except that it was only 6 when she silenced her angelic voice. I vaguely remember moving through a sea of people with traces of Spoon, Slightly Stupid, and Sonic Youth playing in the background. We then managed to catch an outside spot for Vampire Weekend, which for the time brought back a tiny spark of energy. It was now 8, and I was done (very literally). This just happened to be when I saw a utopia that was the food court, and the long trail of trailers full of treasures at the end of my double rainbow. With so many decisions in front of me and the ability to eat a small horse and/or child, I panicked and pulled a rookie mistake. I managed to spend $20 in under 10 minutes on a personal pizza, Torchy's taco, and some good ole fashioned cheese fries. I was officially the happiest person in Zilker park, and had a permanent smile on my eyes half-opened sunburned face. I fell asleep on my backpack peacefully as I watched from a distance the light show provided by Phish. I don't know many people who would fall asleep during Phish, but after a day like that I found it totally justifiable. A quite sleepy walk and car-ride back to a couch, and I was passed out by 11:30. This turned out to be a good thing for the long weekend I still had in store.

The Rally.

Rested. Refreshed. Energized. I knew day 2 was going to be good the second I woke up on the couch and my friend was playing LCD Soundsystem's "Dance Yrself Clean." Thanks to a handy little chatroom-like text inbox that ACL provided access to, we all managed to keep in contact throughout the festival, and organized a quick recovery/pre-game meal at Kerbey Lane. A walk down to the liquor store to get supplies to bring with us as we were going to be and were much more prepared, and we were ready to rage. Our bank accounts and stomachs were done with expensive festival beer. Another cab ride down to Zilker and we managed to get down to the Budweiser stage to catch Gaslight Anthem. We saw some of the Black Lips set over at Zync and then headed down to see one of my personal favorites, Broken Bells. A good performance with an interesting Black Keys cover of "Everlasting Light" as we walked back across the park to catch The XX. I managed to get separated from the group during that trip thanks to an abundance of whiskey in my bladder that could not be put on hold, especially with the valuable and rare porta potties so near in sight. So I ended up being pretty far back from the what looked like an already kind of dull XX performance, so I strolled on down a little further to claim a good spot for LCD Soundsystem. I wasn't alone for long thanks to my red and white umbrella landmark, and me and the ladies danced to a very awesome show. I jetted from there over to meet up with another friend and caught the show that in my mind will be the most talked about of the weekend, Deadmau5. His light show dominated the black sky, and the whiskey had me feeling warm as could be on a beautiful cool Austin night. I ended up in towards the back for that night's headliner Muse, but that was okay because their light show was equally as entertaining as Deadmau5, and having the Austin skyline as the backdrop was a perfect touch. I left early from this to meet up with the gang and head over to Antone's for an official aftershow I managed to win free tickets to. After impatiently maneuvering through some hellatious traffic, we saw Girls play a great show and it was fun to go from half a mile away in the back of Muse to front row at Girls less than 2 hours later. That was definitely the apex of the evening, because after that things went downhill fast. Feeling great after a 5 hour energy shot, and not wanting to leave downtown yet, I walked down to dirty 6th to see if I could find some of my friends down there. This was extremely difficult to do thanks to the large crowd of people, and the lack of a cell phone which had died earlier in the day. The only successful thing I managed to do in this time frame was scarf down some Ropollos pizza. Also hard to do in Austin on a Saturday night during ACL weekend... hailing a cab. Trust me, the walk from Beauty Bar on 7th near the interstate to Kerbey Lane on Guadalupe is not fun to do alone at 2 in the morning. I did manage to run into some old friends in front of the Omni, and watched a girl get softly bumped by a moving car in the street. So at least I managed some quality entertainment. But all is well that ends well, and I ended up with a shower and then in a comfy bed, so the walk did not end in vain.

The Finale.

Still in my clothes from the night before, I managed a ride back to my friends apartment down near Zilker. I put the clothes I wore Saturday back on (as my other bags were at my friends duplex down south that I never made it back to the night before) and began the walk down to the festival. It was 11am on the last day of my first ACL, and I intended to make it count. I stopped by the gas station for some essentials (5 hour energy, Gatorade, toilet paper) and by a little market on Barton Springs for the best breakfast taco I've ever had and some hippie all natural deodorant, and marched into my last day alone. I caught a little bit of Ruby Jane's performance, who I had seen shred the stage with Blues Traveler on a fiddle on Friday all at the age of 15. She was very impressive. I then found the lifesaver that was the phone charging tent. I left my Blackberry to regain some life and went to catch a show I had been looking forward to all weekend, Warpaint. I had heard so many good things about them, they were the reason I was already seeing my second show of the day and it wasn't even noon yet. They lived up to the hype, and I was on cloud 9 for the day. I finally met up with my friends again, and we leisurely caught some of White Rabbits and then the Foals. They stopped off at Blind Pilot but I kept moving to assure a good spot for another show I had immediately circled when the line-up came out. Portugal, the Man exceeded my expectations and put on one of the best performances musically of the festival (I'm also fairly sure I saw Kate Hudson standing in the VIP balcony). After this I tried the appropriately named Love Burger and went to claim my spot for Yeasayer, another show that I knew I had to see. Their performance was good, but a tough one to get through. Standing with the sun beating down on us, sleep deprived, dehydrated, hung over, and exhausted from the mini marathon I had done the night before all definitely took a toll on me. But I managed not to pass out, and I popped a squat after the show to sit and wait on the reason why I never once contemplated selling my 3-day pass no matter how desperate I may have been for money at any point since I had purchased it. I had a prime spot for The Flaming Lips, and I intended to keep it. Best decision I ever made. Wayne put on the performance of the festival, and I was close enough to snap some amazing pictures. A compilation of exhaustion from the weekend, the culmination of some of the best shows I had ever seen, and the fact that it was the Flaming Lips closing my ACL experience with "Do You Realize..." I definitely teared up during the finale (I had something in both my eyes, okay). My back could officially take no more after that, and I old man hobbled out of the festival early to miss the Eagles (sorry dad) and catch some bands from my hometown (Mass Rituals and Knifight) play a show downtown at Emo's. It was a fitting way to end such a memorable weekend, watching and supporting local music, the way its done in Austin.

It was without a doubt one of the best weekends of my life, and I wrote this to help me remember and look back on in a few years when future festivals I attend will most likely have led me to some slight memory loss. To everyone reading this who was a part of this amazing weekend, I say thanks. Its memories like these that I will cherish for the rest of my life, and my first ACL will forever be something I will look back upon with a smile on my face.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Is This Real Life?

Haven't written anything in way too long, so I thought I'd recap some of the things I've been up to lately, as well as what I have in store for me over the next month.

Fall brings a sense of change. The leaves, and temperature, start to drop. The colors outside slide from a growing green to a slowing orange that almost gives the illusion that time is slowing down for a moment, maybe so we can stop and enjoy one of the few times of the year when living isn't Texas isn't unbearably hot (or humid). This year fall has seemed to mean "concert season" here in south Texas.

I started off my concert season at a neutral site in Rockdale, Texas... Yeah, I wasn't real sure where that was either, for the appropriately named "Nocturnal Festival." Headliners for me were Lotus, Pretty Lights, and KID CUDI (yes, I am also on the Pursuit of Happiness). Although the details from this night may forever be a bit hazy to me, I can say with full confidence that it was one of the most fun nights I have ever had. We had a great group of people with us, and every detail throughout the night seemed to happen perfectly and without a hitch. I almost feel guilty for how great this night was, and to all who missed it I apologize sincerely. The apex of the night for me came after Kid Cudi's set was finished and fireworks were going off overhead. I laid back on the grass, looked up, and couldn't help but smile, and be thankful to what a great past 9 months it has been since I moved to the ATX, and feel that strong sense of excitement at the upcoming weeks ahead.


Next came an away game in Dallas at Superpages.com center with a familiar team, Dave Matthews. The typical tail-gating ensued while trying to avoid the pastel-colored polo wearing fraternity brothers as best we could. Granted, once inside the venue, everyone is too wasted to care and it is a lot of fun to see 20,000 white people (none of which can dance) all move their bodies like they were having seizures, hopefully none were. All in all, a very successful road trip.


After this, I needed a show where I wouldn't feel left out not wearing a fishing shirt, so the obvious solution was Ratatat. Over the past 9 months, I'd say Stubbs is where I have seen the most shows (see also "Ben Folds, Passion Pit, Bassnectar, etc) so I knew this was going to feel like home. The show was exactly what I expected, a giant dance party with a great light show and even better music. I was pleased, and lets just say I lived that Monday night to the fullest. Being 45 minutes late to work the following morning was completely worth it.


Next up, and most recently, came Bassnectar (round 2). This show took place in Dallas during Texas/OU Red River weekend. Naturally, me and the boys went up to Dallas Friday night, and met up with some friends at a bar. We got to enjoy an awkward "magic show" performed by some traveling group of gypsies that included throwing darts to pop balloons taped to a man's back, cutting melons using a man as a cutting board, and a girl squeezing herself through an unstrung tennis racket about 10 times, all while a masked man played the themes to Superman and Star Wars on a miniature accordion. For the big (and ultimately depressing) game, we grilled out and ate like kings, and drank accordingly. Chance and I had feverishly been anticipating round 2 of Bassnectar ever since the aforementioned show we saw at Stubbs back in May for Chance's birthday. The moment had finally come, and after some pregaming in the parking lot, we stumbled inside Palladium for what I will forever remember as one of the most intense shows I have ever been to. Bassnectar waited till 11 to come on because Sara bareilles was playing next door, and he wanted to be at maximum volume to sufficiently melt our faces off, which he in turn did. By the time we got out of there at 1:15am and got our Whataburger and crawled into bed at our La Quinta (which of course means "next to Denny's" in Spanish), we all passed out with smiles on our faces.


On a side note, the typically great weekend was capped off with a great movie. The Social Network was both informative and entertaining, and was obviously a topic I could easily relate to. It'll be fun to watch again in a few years and see how much things have changed even since now, and to remember that I was a freshman in college the year Facebook blew up.

Next on the list is Phantogram at Mohawk on 10/05, followed by Neon Indian at La Zona Rosa on 10/07, which in turn kicks off my first ever ACL experience on Friday 10/08. I cannot express nor contain my excitement to finally be attending a large music festival, especially one so notorious and with such a good line-up as Austin City Limits. I most look forward to seeing The Flaming Lips for the first time, along with the Black Keys, Beach House, The XX, Deadmau5, Yeasayer, and a long list of others that I hope to squeeze in throughout the weekend.

Sufjan Stevens will be in town on the 19th and I will most likely cry during the concert, and in no way is that depressing. I'll see Ghostland Observatory for the third time on the 28th in Cedar Park which is all of about 10 minutes from my North Austin apartment, so obviously I couldn't pass up that opportunity. 2 days later, I'll see STS9 for the first time for their "Halloween show," once again at my home venue of Stubbs. As you can see, October is chalked full of fun and potentially amazing experiences, which I intend to take full advantage of. So that is the update from the 512 and life and times of Jordan Cooper. I hope to see you at one of the shows, or out on the town afterwards. Maybe in November I'll slow down, catch up on sleep and working out, start drinking less and eating better, but for now I'm going to live life full of nights I remember more from the pictures I scan through the morning after, and I'm not going to apologize to anyone for that.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Forever Young

Hadn't updated this in awhile because I have been pretty busy. This past weekend was the first time in over 2 months I didn't have someone staying with me, the first time in over 6 weeks I didn't go downtown, and the first time in a over month I didn't float the river. Other than grocery shopping I accomplished very little except for some pool time and some serious R&R.

Sometimes I have trouble turning my brain off and truly being able to let myself relax and enjoy where I'm at. I see people all around me taking very different life paths then the one I am currently traveling. I have friends getting married, having children, others off traveling the world, starting their careers, buying houses. It amazes me sometimes to think that I really am 23, really on my own making it in the "real world," and really have gotten to this place in my life.

When I was at the pool by myself on Saturday I saw a little boy not any older than 5 playing by the pool. I saw the sheer joy in his eyes when his dad started playing catch with him. And I could honestly remember what it felt like to be that kid. To not have a care in the world, to have absolutely no idea what I was suppose to be when I grew up, and not caring. To not have every moment of my life scripted out for me, but to be able to just enjoy being alive and doing care free things, like playing catch with my dad.

I find myself watching the slideshow of pictures I have on my computer as my screen saver. Maybe I'm vane, but I find myself constantly thinking as the pictures scroll by just how lucky I am. I've had an absolutely amazing life. I've seen some incredible things, been to some awesome places, and have met some of the most interesting people I can think of. But at the end of the day, the thing I'm most thankful for are the people in my life who have helped me get to this place where I am today.

I'm thankful I saw that little kid playing, and that I was able to have a weekend alone to stop, take a breath, and remember the things that have made me such a happy person almost my entire life. Sure I've had a lot of hardships I had to overcome, but for every sad or negative situation that has happened to me, I can think of a 100more happy positive ones that trump those. Nothing in life is perfect, no one is perfect, and you can't enjoy the sweet without the sour, so I'm as thankful for the bad times as I am the good.

I think what I'm trying to say is sometimes when life seems like its flying by, sometimes its best to just stop; remove yourself from the fast lane for awhile; and just remember to enjoy the little things. I'm a 5 year old trapped in a 23 year old body, and I hope that never changes. I have my responsibilities, I take care of my business, but at the end of the day I hope to always be young at heart. Life is too short to take seriously all the time, and if you don't stop and smell the roses every once in awhile, you'll wake up one day old, sad, alone, and wondering where your life went. As for me, I'm here, I'm today, and I'm happy. And it is my sincere hope that you can say the same.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

I've Landed

I look around and see the tall buildings and beautiful lights of downtown Austin. A cool breeze kisses my face. The melodies of a piano hit my ears sweetly, and the words to one of my favorite songs perfectly describe the feeling I have about where I'm at in my life... that I've finally "landed." I'm at Stubb's in Austin, peacefully and contently watching Ben Folds perform, and very simply loving life.

Sometimes you have to lose yourself in order to find yourself. The last year I spent in Tyler, that's exactly what happened. I lost myself. I became someone I wasn't. I tried to transform myself to meet what I thought other people wanted me to be. When really the people who knew me best saw that I in fact was the most unhappy I had ever been, despite being close to graduating and suppose to be in the most exciting time of my life. When it finally all caved in on me, I realized that I had done exactly what I had always promised myself I wouldn't. I conformed. I put my own beliefs and dreams to the side and let others take over my own life.

Standing there listening to Ben sing the words, it never felt more clear that I am finally where, what, and who I want to be. I am comfortable in my own skin again. I have people in my life that like me for who I am. I don't hide under labels or try to fit anyone elses agendas. I'm finally myself... I'm finally home... I've finally landed.

"If you wrote me off
I'd understand it
'Cause I've been on
Some other planet
So come pick me up
I've landed...

And you will be so
Happy to know
I've come alone
It's over

And I opened my eyes and walked out the door
And the clouds came tumbling down
And it's bye-bye goodbye I tried
Down comes the reign of the telephone czar
It's okay to call
And I will answer for myself
Come pick me up... I've landed."

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Moving Forward

As a recent college graduate, I notice how a lot of people my age put stock into the fact that they feel like they need to have a step by step plan to their life, an organized detailed description about what they want to achieve and how they are going to achieve it. Now as most people who know me already understand, I am a very organized person. I make lists all the time, I constantly over-analyze almost every situation, I like trips and events to be thought-out and planned, so I understand that feeling of needing to know exactly what is going to happen, how, when, and why. But the older I get, the more I realize that no matter how much you plan, prepare, and worry, nothing is going to help you predict the future. Life isn't going to go exactly how you wanted it to, and people need to stop trying to prepare for what they are hoping for and start learning how to deal with the unplanned situations life is giving them.

9 years ago I came to Austin and knew after one UT football game and then later that year a week at SXSW that I wanted to live here someday. I had other goals, barriers, mistakes, successes, and so much more things I had to accomplish before I could get here. I watched my parents go through a divorce, I graduated from high school, passed up an opportunity to go to UT Austin to take a full scholarship to TJC and save my parents (and myself) money. I broke girls hearts. I had mine broken. I graduated from college. I took a job in Austin that I ended up hating and I quit. I was almost completely broke with bills stacking up. But through all that I managed to achieve everything I set out to and ended up exactly where I wanted to be: Living and working in Austin doing a job I don't dread coming to, making enough to support myself on my own, and being an independent, hard-working college graduate with my whole life in front of me.

My point is, yes it is important to have goals, to try to achieve things, to better yourself. But while doing those don't ignore the path it takes to get there, and understand that it isn't going to go how you planned it, but that doesn't mean you still can't end up exactly where you set out to be. And maybe along the way you may realize that how it happened may not have been perfect or the way you had dreamed it would be, doesn't mean it didn't happen even better than you had planned it, and helped form and mold you into the person you are today... versus the one you had thought you'd be a decade ago. And in my case, I think that's a really good thing.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Live Like You're Dying

An exert from a piece by Chuck Palahniuk done for Men's Health Magazine:

Make Life Worth Living
Live Like You're Dying

Any man will tell you that it's not the big disasters that finish you. No, given an invasion by hostile space aliens or an attack of flesh-eating zombies, most guys will grab their coats and hats and run out to join the fray. Even a run-of-the-mill earthquake or forest fire constitutes a nice change of pace. Instead, what grinds us down are the parking tickets. The spoiled food in the back of the fridge. The dirty clothes at the bottom of the hamper that haven't seen daylight since 1995. Once you allow a critical mass of these petty annoyances to collect, you're sunk.

Regarding Culling, my point is: If you can shave, you can live.

The third C stands for Connect. This means contacting everyone you've known and saying something nice. No matter how much you hate them, let go of that bitterness. Identify some aspect of each person, something you've secretly admired or envied or coveted, and praise that something. Say how jealous you were of his career or happy marriage or a particular merino wool mock-turtleneck sweater.

Yes, this process feels like a huge humiliation, but what do you have to lose? Forget your self-pity. Forget your anger and defensiveness. Forgive everybody and forgive yourself. In another week they'll be gazing down into your casket, feeling just awful. So for now, throw them a bone. Give them a break.

Beyond that, fully imagine your death: the cozy warmth, the pleasant wooziness. The sound of your favorite film or music playing in the background. Envision your sparkling bathroom and empty filing cabinets. Then imagine the world without you. The same traffic jams and famines. The same political crap fights and your team never making the playoffs. People will forget you. Everyone will forget you. You're no Kurt Cobain, so just light your barbecue and toast a marshmallow. . . .

But if you've completed the Three C's, chances are good that you won't bother. Because by then you'll be surrounded by friends who now recognize you as a valuable, sensitive guy. Your oven will be clean, your car vacuumed. In the same way you procrastinated on your taxes, you can procrastinate on your death. And, at least for the moment, your hair looks . . . really great.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Atlas Shrugged

My favorite page from Ayn Rand's novel so far, page 127:

"Man? What is man? He's just a collection of chemicals with delusions of grandeur," said Dr. Pritchett to a group of guests across the room.
"Man's metaphysical pretensions," he said, "are preposterous. A miserable bit of protoplasm, full of ugly little concepts and mean little emotions--and it imagines itself important! Really, you know, that is the root of all the troubles in the world."
"But which concepts are not ugly or mean, Professor?" asked an earnest matron whose husband owned an automobile factory.
"None," said Dr. Pritchett, "None within the range of man's capacity."
A young man asked hesitantly, "But if we haven't any good concepts how do we know that the ones we've got are ugly? I mean, by what standard?"
"There aren't any standards."
This silenced his audience.
"The philosophers of the past were superficial," Dr. Pritchett went on. "It remained for our century to redefine the purpose of philosophy. The purpose of philosophy is not to help men find the meaning of life, but to prove to them that there isn't any."
An attractive young woman whose father owned a coal mine, asked indignantly, "Who can tell us that?"
"I am trying to," said Dr. Pritchett. For the last three years, he had been head of the Department of Philosophy at the Patrick Henry University.
Lillian Rearden approached, her jewels glittering under the lights. The expression on her face was held to the soft hint of a smile, set and faintly suggested, like the waves of her hair.
"It is this insistence of man upon meaning that makes him so difficult," said Dr. Pritchett, "Once he realizes that he is of no importance whatever in the vast scheme of the universe, that no possible significance can be attached to his activities, that is does not matter whether he lives or dies, he will become much more . . . tractable."
He shrugged and reached for another canape. A businessman said uneasily, "What i asked you about, Professor, was what you thought about the Equalization of Opportunity Bill."
"Oh, that?" said Dr. Pritchett, "But I believe I made it clear that I am in favor of it, because I am in favor of a free economy. A free economy cannot exist without competition. Therefore, men must be forced to compete. Therefore, we must control men in order to force them to be free."
"But, look . . . isn't that sort of a contradiction?"
"Not in the higher philosophical sense. You must learn to see beyond the static definitions of old-fashioned thinking. Nothing is static in the universe. Everything is fluid."
"But it stands to reason that if--"
"Reason, my dear fellow, is the most naive of all superstitions. That, at least, has been generally conceded in our age."
"But I don't quite understand how we can--"
"You suffer from the popular delusion of believing things can be understood. You do not grasp the fact that the universe is a solid contradiction."
"A contradiction of what?" asked the matron.
"Of itself."
"How ... how's that?"
"My dear madam, the duty of thinkers is not to explain, but to demonstrate that nothing can be explained."
"Yes, of course . . . only . . ."
"The purpose of philosophy is not to seek knowledge, but to prove that knowledge is impossible to man."
"But when we prove it, asked the young woman, what's going to be left?"
"Instinct," said Dr. Pritchett reverently.

Props to Morgan Jamison for forcing me to read this, I'm only about 150 pages in but so far this book is one of the most well written novels I have ever read. It is amazingly applicable to today's current society and economical situations, which is ironic since it was written in 1957. It is quite lengthy, but I would encourage anyone feeling up to the task to try and read this giant.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

27 Reasons I Love Spring

27 because I ran out of good reasons around 20:

1. It's not February.
2. Christmas is far away and Valentine's is in the past.
3. Spring weather.
4. St. Patrick's Day.
5. Definition of multi-tasking at work becomes: the ability to balance researching for your fantasy baseball draft and filling out your brackets.
6. My birthday.
7. 12's over 5's
8. Hiking, campining, running, biking.
9. Frisbee, grilling, golfing, sand volleyball. (basically any excuse to be outside)
10. SXSW
11. College Football's Spring Practice .
12. Spring Break. Oh wait, I don't get one of those anymore. Damnit.
13. The person leading your bracket pool is a girl. No wait a minute, that sucks. Bad.
14. Collectively hating Duke. Wait, I love Duke. F you guys!
15. Trying to guess where the play-in game schools are located and missing by a mere 1,000 miles.
16. Seeing everyone you haven't seen in a year at church on Easter.
17. Beautifully executed back door passes.
18. Watching the offense torch the defense in Spring Practice and thinking that's a very good sign.
19. Eating and drinking outside.
20. Your national championship team losing in the Second Round. You hate it, but really it's more fun to enjoy March with your bracket torn up.
21. Deciding that St. Patrick's Day is technically St. Patrick's Week.
22. The BCS has nothing to do with deciding national championships.
23. Crying when Duke, Texas, and whatever random low seeded team I picked to go far all lose early.
24. A tradition like no other... The Masters on CBS
25. April 5, 2010: MLB opening day.
26. Knowing that no matter how ridiculous it is, that whoever is down 3 with 4 seconds left is going to make a 3-pointer to send it to OT. Happens everytime.
27. MARCH MADNESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, March 5, 2010

My Bucket List

This is a list of things I want to do before I die. Some of these things I've already accomplished (in bold), others, I plan to in the very near future, and still others may take me a lifetime to achieve. Granted this is a work in progess, so other things will be added, as I'm sure some things I will lose interest in doing and take off at some point. Anyways, here you go... my bucket list:

See a World Cup Final in person
See UT win a National Championship in person
Graduate college
Move out of Tyler
Live in Austin
Fire a pistol
Learn to surf
Live outside of Texas for at least a year
Run a marathon
Smoke with someone famous
Live outside of America for at least a year
Write a novel
Learn sign language
Learn Spanish
Relearn Tae Kwon Do
Learn to play an instrument (piano, drums, and/or guitar)
Take dance lessons (Hip hop, ballroom, salsa)
Dive in a submarine
Tour the Coliseum in Rome
Ride a gondola in Venice
See the Acropolis and Athens, Greece
Watch a soccer game in London, England / See Stonehenge, United Kingdom
Scuba dive the Great Barrier Reef and see the Sydney Opera House, Australia
Party at Oktober Fest in Germany / drive a car on the autobahn
See the Louvre & Eifel Tower in Paris, France / see the Tour de France in person
Visit Amsterdam, Holland
Walk on The Great Wall of China
Tour the Pyramids of Giza, Egypt
Do a canopy zip line tour in the Amazon rainforest
Go to a beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
See St. Peter's Basilica and the Vatican, Rome
See the Kremlin in Russia
See Spain
Visit the Taj Mahal, India
Hike around the Statues of Easter Island, Chile
Visit Las Vegas
Camp at the Grand Canyon, watch a sunrise there
See the monuments in Washington DC (again)
Visit Portland, Oregon (again)
Participate in Mardi Gras in New Orleans
See a Red Sox game at Fenway in Boston
Visit Los Angeles
Take a train trip to Chicago, see the Great Lakes
See the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Empire State Building, Ice Skate at Rockefeller center, spend NYE, climb the Statue of Liberty, see US Open (tennis) in New York City
See Niagara Falls
See a Duke game at Cameron Indoor
Visit Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal
See Alaska (dog-sled or fly-fish depending on season)
Visit San Diego
See the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, CA
Go to the Pike Place Market in Seattle, WA
See Mount Rushmore
Ride a helicopter in Hawaii
Camp in Redwood, Yellowstone, and Joshua Tree National Parks
Go to the College World Series in Omaha
See a PGA Major (Masters, US Open, PGA)
See a Final Four
Eat BBQ and listen to blues on Beale Street in Memphis
Visit SeaWorld
Go to the horse races
Go rock climbing
Go jet skiing in the ocean
Witness a solar eclipse
Go canoeing or kayaking
Learn to water ski
Try fencing

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Back to the Basics

"A motion picture, or music, or television, they have to maintain a certain decorum in order to be broadcast to a vast audience. Other forms of mass media cost too much to produce a risk reaching only a limited audience. Only one person. But a book. . . A book is cheap to print and bind. A book is as private and consensual as sex. A book takes time and effort to consume - something that gives a reader every chance to walk away. Actually, so few people make the effort to read that it's difficult to call books a "mass medium." No one really gives a damn about books. No one has bothered to ban a book in decades."

I read this quote the other day (Chuck Palahniuk, of course) and it not only made me laugh but got me to thinking just how accurate it is. I'm even guilty of it myself, as in today's society movies, TV, and music have completely taken over the media medium and books have fallen by the wayside. Since I've moved to Austin, I've had trouble sleeping and found myself being a lot more high strung then I was in Tyler. People have told me this is typical for a transition period, living in a new place, going through the number of changes I have been. So with my free time I've been trying to figure out ways to cure this problem.

Well after I read this it occurred to me what I use to enjoy doing (even though we were more or less force to do it growing up, anyone remember AR points?) which was reading. Having to write multiple 40+ page papers, give multiple 30 minute+ presentations, and take all those tests we had to in college, I hadn't had the time or the desire to read just for my own personal enjoyment. So I picked up my signed copy of Chuck Palahniuk's "Snuff" and have been reading it ever since. I'm almost done, and plan on starting Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" afterwards. It's amazing how much more vivid reading a book can be then seeing a movie in 3D or watching the newest episode of "Lost" or "American Idol" (which for the record I do not watch either, just using them as an example). Reading a well written, thoroughly researched, insightful or entertaining book feels so much more accomplishing then tivo-ing Desperate Housewives.

Now if you don't have the time to read merely for pleasure because you are too busy reading page after page of dribble for your freshman English class or junior biology exam then I completely understand, but I highly recommend that if you get the chance to pick up a book in the near future, that you do it. It's refreshing, enjoyable, and rewarding. It also helps enlarge your vocabulary, which I can say for a lot of people has continually lessened throughout the years. So here is a list of a few of my favorite books, new and old, in case you aren't sure what you want to read once given the opportunity. Some of these you may have been required to read in school at some point, otheres you may have never heard of, but all I highly recommend for one reason or another. Also, a lot of these have been made into movies, and I must say I've yet to ever see a movie that was as good as the book was, just personal opinion.

Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Chronicles of Narnia - C.S. Lewis
To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn/Tom Sawyer - Mark Twain
Island of the Blue Dolphin - Scott O'Dell
Journey to the Centre of the Earth - Jules Verne
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea - Jules Verne

Of course the list of books I've read from my favorite author:

1.) Survivor - Chuck Palahniuk
2.) Choke - Chuck Palahniuk
3.) Fight Club - Chuck Palahniuk
4.) Lullaby - Chuck Palahniuk
5.) Diary - Chuck Palahniuk

(Currently reading Snuff, and so far really enjoying it)

And here is my list of books I plan on reading in the near future (opinions welcome):

Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand
Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - Ken Kesey
A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess
Into the Wild - Jon Krakauer
The Autobiography of Malcom X - Anna Haley & Malcom X
Slaughterhouse Five - Kurt Vonnegut
The Lord of the Rings Triology - J.R.R. Tolkien
The Space Trilogy - C.S. Lewis
Invisible Monsters - Chuck Palahniuk
Rant - Chuck Palahniuk
Stranger Than Fiction - Chuck Palahniuk
Haunted - Chuck Palahniuk
Pygmy - Chuck Palahniuk
Fugitives and Refugees - Chuck Palahniuk

Monday, February 15, 2010

I am, who I am, who I am, well... who am I?

As I enter this time in life between college and a career, between leaving an old home and making a new one, a place where stereotypically a lot of 20-somethings experience a quarter-life crisis, a lack of an identity, or a forceful and sometimes failing attempt at trying to make a new one, I value certain aspects of my own personality and characteristics of just who I am that define me as a person.

I'm self-aware, self-righteous, self-deprecating, self-indulgent, self-disciplined, self-reliant, and self-absorbed. I'm obsessive compulsive; I make my bed every morning, label my play lists perfectly, color and style coordinate my closet, never leave trash in my car, organize and re-organize my DVDs; most people are surprised I don't have weird breathing exercises or count things multiple times before I can use them. I'm a neat-freak, I take at least two showers a day, wash my hands too much, and brush my teeth just as often. I'm admitably a metro-sexual, which I thank my always fashionable older sister for. I grew up a complete and total mama's boy, and consider my dad my best friend. I have a freakishly good memory, I know the words to probably over 75% of the 3500 songs on my iTunes. I graduated from Tyler Junior College in May of 2007 with an Associates of the Arts degree in Behavioral Science and from The University of Texas at Tyler with a Bachelor in Human Resource Development in December of 2009 with a 3.4, and can honestly say I did both having never studied a day in my life. I consider myself and try continuously to be well informed on political issues, yet I have never voted. I've broken hearts, and had mine broken, and know that both are likely to happen again before it's all said and done. I have no idea what I believe in religiously, and I don't think that makes me a bad person. I'd rather be honest and open than lie to myself or anyone else and be a hypocrite.I love meeting new people, but most of my best friends have been so since I was in grade school. My idols are Lance Armstrong, Michael Jordan, Chuck Palahniuk, Pete Sampras, and yes, Justin Timberlake. I don't like Christmas. I'm not the Grinch or Scrooge (or Satan) and try to ruin anyone else's, I've just never enjoyed the holiday for personal reasons and that's okay. I also hate Valentines Day. I'm an Aries, and I have no idea what that means. I'm an Organ Donor. Not sure that I have any organs anyone will want by the time it's all said and done, but if they want them then by all means take them. I've lost many people close to me too soon, and I realize that life is a precious gift. I try to live everyday to the fullest, and encourage everyone else to do the same.

I'll be 23 in a few weeks, which amazes me, but I have had an amazing life. I've traveled all over the country, met some amazing and interesting people, had some of the best friends anyone could ever ask for, gone through ups and downs, been let down by just about everyone I've ever trusted, but I'm still happy to have the people I do in my life, and to have gotten to do the things I have. I have no idea who I'll be in a year, a decade, another quarter-life, but I do know that I've been incredibly blessed, and that no matter what I'm going to have a positive attitude and be happy with the person I am. Because I always have been, and always will be, true to myself. And at the end of the day, that's really the only thing you can control.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

New Beginnings

Just over a week ago, and for the past 22 years, I was a resident of the Tyler, Texas area. I had a very good life there, amazing friends, a routine, I was comfortable. I knew where everything was, what I could expect everywhere I went, what my day to day would consist of. I now, since last Saturday, live in Austin, Texas. The first time I've not only not lived in or around Tyler, but the first time I've lived completely on my own and by myself. It's an interesting transition to go through. Everyday since I've been here I've done things completely foreign to me. I explore new places everytime I get in the car. I've given change to homeless people, had my first house guests, even had my car towed. This is the most exciting new time in my life. I will always be thankful for the people and memories I left behind in Tyler, and I will never forget them. But I am so thankful to be where I am, living out my dream of moving to a place where it doesn't matter how much your parents make, or what church you go to, or what you do or don't believe in general about religion, politics, life. It makes me realize that there are so many amazing people in Tyler who aren't living to their fullest potential being stuck in a close-minded place that doesn't allow them to grow and experiment and test their own ideals and ideas on what all there is out there to see and do and experience and enjoy. And no, I'm not saying that everyone from Tyler is close-minded, because I know so many people there who aren't (like me), I'm just speaking in generalities about what most people from that area already know and most likely agree with me on, that it's not always an easy place to be when you don't naturally conform to the so-called "norm" and/or majority. So my advice to anyone who cares to hear it is don't be afraid to take risks, sometimes it's not about where you land in the end but the journey you took to get there. I have no idea what I'll be doing in 6 months, 6 days, 6 hours, but I know that I'm making the best of it with what I have. Life is too short to be anything but happy. Don't be afraid to be yourself, who you really want to be, not what you think people want you to be. Anyways, thats enough of me projecting my own thoughts onto other people. Take them for what you want. Just know that this thing we have called life is a gift and an amazing one at that, so don't waste it.

Monday, January 18, 2010

So this is the new year, and I don't feel any different

Wow. I just entered my 4th decade (born in the 80's, child of the 90's, graduated high school and college this past decade, and entering the "real world" now). I turn 23 this year. I'm a college graduate. And like most people at this quarter-life crisis point in our lives, I have no idea where I want to go, what I want to do, or who I want to do it with. But the incredible thing is, after almost 23 years, after ups and downs, after a parents divorce, after broken relationships and friendships, after everything I've been through that has brought me to where I am today, I am happy with who I am. Yes, I've made mistakes. So many I couldn't dare to list them all. But those mistakes have taught me so much about who I am, who I want to be, and who I don't want to be. So to all the people who have made this life what it is today, I thank you. Rather you helped me get here by supporting me, loving me, being there for me, or hurting me, leaving me, abandoning me, quitting on me, either way, I say thanks. I am blessed to have the life that I have, and I wouldn't trade it for the world.

I just spent a week in Colorado in the mountains and the snow, and sometimes the solitude of skiing down a mountain 15,000 feet in the air and seeing nothing around you but more mountains makes you realize that no matter how many people you have in your life, sometimes the only way to truly find contentment is through being alone. As I enter this new chapter in my life, I know that I will be bringing some people with me that have been there for almost all 23 years, and also some people that I just recently met, and I will also be leaving some people behind that truly impacted my life forever, and sure I'll miss them, but I know that everything in my life has happened for a reason, and sooner rather than later I'll be seeing just exactly what that reason is.

We only have one shot at this life, so I'm here to make the best of it. Look out world, here I come.