Archive for May, 2014

First single!

Posted: May 31, 2014 in Uncategorized

Ladies and gentlemen, for your listening pleasure, I give you the first single off the new album Never Cease to Praise. The song is called “Sustain” and it is one of the many songs on the album that was co-written with Mr. Aaron Bucy, currently of Liverpool, England. I hope you enjoy the tune. Look forward to more to come with this song in the coming weeks. And be sure to check out the link to the album release party on June 29. Thanks for listening!

 

https://www.facebook.com/events/237518713115545/?ref_dashboard_filter=upcoming

Symbolic Gestures

Posted: May 17, 2014 in Uncategorized

With school coming to an end, there is a lot of “wrapping up” going on around my school building. It’s kind of tough for me to get into all it, what with my knowing that I’m not coming back and that not being common knowledge beyond a few of my co-workers, so I am sort of sitting back and trying to partake while not overdoing it.

Today we had a pep rally to wrap up the week and celebrate all the accomplishments of the sports teams from the last few months. It was fun seeing all the kids cheer and be recognized for their efforts. There was also a crab-walk relay, so there was lots of fun to be had. But then at the end, our principal asked all the teachers to come to the center of the gym. I was confused. I had no idea what this was about since we hadn’t been told, or at least I hadn’t. Then one of the other teachers looked at me and said, “You’re probably not going to like this part very much.” Now I was really confused.

As it turned out, our principal then invited all the 8th graders to come down and say thank you to their teachers as they were getting ready to leave middle school and head off to the high school in just a few weeks. I honestly didn’t know what to do. I was soon engulfed by a bunch of students I didn’t know, so I started to back away, allowing them to slip in and slap fives, give hugs and say their thank yous, trying not to look as awkward and unsure as I felt. It wasn’t too long before the crowd dissipated and all the students began to move toward the exits to head home for the weekend. Then I had a thought, which isn’t always the best thing, but there it went.

I started to wonder if I was ever going to get to see this. To watch a class actually complete a series of grades, watch them come in and then go off into their next foray. To be honest, it’s one of the reasons I got into education: I want to see the students grow up and change. But I keep finding myself ousted from schools before I get the chance to do that. I get that these places aren’t where I’m supposed to be in the long term, and that’s why I keep getting moved on, why I keep finding myself in new schools, but it does get a little tiring. I think it is doubled because I honestly haven’t felt like I’ve been in the right place for me yet, so I keep moving onto somewhere else that once again isn’t the right place. The cycle feels endless.

Now I know what you might be thinking: I’ve been teaching for 3 1/2 years, how can the cycle already feel “endless” after such a short time? There’s something to that. But I fully believe that work can be endlessly exhausting if it’s not the right fit, and try as I might I don’t think I’ve found the fit yet. It is frustrating, especially as I see other people getting where they want to be, not just professionally but in all areas of their lives. I know they don’t have it altogether, even if it seems like it sometimes.

I suppose the lesson is here that my time will come. I’m impatient, I know this. I’ve never been good at waiting. But at this point in my life, I’m starting to learn that if I have to wait, I might as well make the best of it. And trust. That’s key, too. Trusting that God has my life in His hands, and if I’m trying too hard I’m only going to make it harder on myself.

 

God bless,

Robert

I survived. I woke up like I normally do. I showered, got dressed, etc, and went to work. My students, having no idea it was my birthday, were their normal selves. It was, for all intents and purposes, a normal day in Robert Land.

And honestly, that was okay.

I’m not sad about 30. In fact, I’m rather glad that I didn’t overreact or go crazy about it. I think the fact that I’m so okay means that somewhere in the last few years or months or weeks, I came to grips with the inevitability of aging and getting older. I’m good with it. Actually, I think I might be looking forward to seeing what being 30 is like. I still don’t feel like I’ve been alive that long. It still feels like it’s so far away, even though it’s here and nearly a day into itself. Everyone kept telling me that it would be okay. I think maybe they were right.

Many thanks to all the people who wished me a happy birthday today. Thanks for being there for me all year round. It’s good to know that I have such a solid support base around me. You keep me sane in those times where I feel like I’m going to get worked up. And even if I don’t, you’re still there. I love you all.

 

God bless,

Robert

The technology specialist at my school said his goodbye to me today by reminding me that I only had one more day of having a 2 at the front of my age. To which I responded that I didn’t have days but hours left, and then I smiled and turned away, got in my car and drove home. Now that the moment is here, I am caught up in a strange mixture of things. For one, I’m focused heavily on tonight’s comedy show, trying to make sure that all the premises for the jokes are in my head, that I’ve got the phrasings and timings right. Having been a performer for most of my life, I know that this is the time to start to relax, though, and that working through it a little more at this juncture has limited positive impact. So instead I’m making dinner, listening to a Saves the Day record and just allowing myself a moment to breathe.

30 freaking years old. It’s going to take me a while to get used to it, just like every other birthday. This one is obviously different, as it’s been 10 years since the front number changed. I still don’t love it, but I also know that it is inevitable at this point. Giving up isn’t something I’d ever be interested in doing, so I must press on. I find myself mulling over all the things that people have said about 30 over the last years, months, weeks and days, and I come to one conclusion: there is no one way to respond, and that’s okay. I’m me and I’m going to respond to this in a way that is exactly me: with a strange combination of uncertainty and bravado. It’s sort of my way. I slide in and out of an unusual mixture of self-deprecation and vomit-inducing cockiness, one weighing out the other rather nicely, most of the time. And that, my friends, is how I’m going to handle turning 30. It took me 30 days, but that’s what I’ve come up with. Nothing terribly moving or thought provoking, but it is what makes sense in my head. It’s how I keep the sanity.

Tonight I’m going to laugh my way straight into tomorrow. And tomorrow I’ll have to deal with a bunch of 7th graders who won’t know it’s my birthday and wouldn’t care anyway, at a job I won’t have anymore once June 13 comes along. Tomorrow will pass and then it’ll be Wednesday and I’ll have to go on with year #31. Then 32, 33, and so on.

And then we’ll do this all over again at 39. Maybe by then I’ll be dictating my blog through a chip in my brain. Or maybe by then I’ll have a little something more figured out. I don’t expect to, though. That just wouldn’t be my style.

 

God bless,

Robert

I was actually born in Mother’s Day 1984. My mother likes to joke that I ruined her first Mother’s Day, although I like to respond that without me–her firstborn child–she would not have enjoyed Mother’s Day from the motherly point of view, but would have, instead, been having brunch or something with her mother. Because of this, though, Mother’s Day is always easy for me to remember; it also means that sometimes my mom and I get to share the day.

It’s happened just a few times since the year of my birth–1990, 2001, 2007 and 2012–but it’s always a pretty special thing to share that with my mother. The dates won’t match up again until 2018 when I turn 34, so it’ll be a while, but it’s cool nonetheless. My mother and I are a lot alike, you see. While I am the spitting image of my dad, my mom and I connect on a different level. Like her, I’m more reserved in my ways and would prefer the company of a few close friends than a bunch of people I don’t know any day, unless there’s a stage and then I have what my dad referred to as extroverted introversion. My dad and sister are the high energy pair, to the point that it exhausts my mom a little when it is just the three of them. When it’s all four of us, at least we have each other to bounce the crazy off of. For this reason, my mom and I have a special connection, even if we’re not always communicative about it.

It has certainly been a trying last few years for my mother, and to honest it’s weighed on me more than I might have let on. It’s the introversion in me that doesn’t allow me to really talk about it, but I do try to make sure that both my parents–especially my mother–understand how important they are to me. I still look to them for direction and advice, and they are extremely aware of the things that drive me. They have always supported my dreams and goals, and for this I am eternally grateful. There aren’t enough words.

If you didn’t get a chance to tell your mother how much you appreciate her today, you should do that as soon as you can. It’s really something we should be doing regularly, but it is very easy to get bogged down in life and forget. I know I get caught up in that a lot myself. It’s not because I don’t want to remember, just that my mind tends to wander and get wrapped up in the anxieties of life.

The great thing is that my mom is always there, no matter if I forget these things some times.

 

God bless,

Robert

Here’s an admission: I dread making platonic friends more than I do meeting women who I might find attractive and/or am interested in dating. This is true. It’s the introvert in me, I think. And the fact that while I am loyal to a fault, it also takes a little while before I can trust someone to the point that I can call them a friend. Once I feel that, I find it hard to let go, but it does take time. Sadly, I cannot remember a time where I actively pursued a friendship with another guy on my own without some sort of force pushing us together. My friend Ryan, who just graduated today from film school at UNCSA, we met because he was at the church I began attending when I moved down the Carolinas. My roommate and I met because he got a job at the school I was teaching at. My oldest friend, Josh, lived down the street from me when we were in middle school and I probably would have never allowed him to get very close to me except that he was remarkably stubborn in his resolve to be friends that he eventually broke me down and we are still friends to this day.

My point is simply that my extreme introversion and fear of rejection in some ways extends to other people besides just pretty girls. I have a lot of people I’d consider pretty solid acquaintances. But I only have a few people that I’d consider very good friends who I can talk about life with. Experience the world with. And the older I get, the harder it gets to establish those relationships. I’m fine with it to a certain extent because it forces those relationships to have some substance, and as an introvert the establishment of stability within the relationships I do enter in to is vital. On the other hand, if I’m let on my own because the world changes, then I’m stuck.

I say all this because I’m starting to realize that those changes are on the horizon. My roommate is all my engaged at this point. It’s an inevitability at this point that doesn’t even require speaking of–suffice it to say, I will be back on my own as far as the living arrangement situation is concerned within a 12-month time span or less. Ryan is on his way to Wilmington, NC, and while this is still within driving distance, as he has been for the last 4 years, there’s something more final about this move. He’s not going to school and coming back on long weekends or for the summer. This is a move made with extreme purpose, and the 4-hour one-way car ride is enough to make the trip a less than regular thing.

I do not say all these things to make anyone feel guilty about choices or to convince anyone to stay where they are and stop allowing life to happen. If it were me, I’d be making the same decisions they are, so I cannot fault them for it. I say this because I think we often overlook the importance of platonic friendships for men simply because we assume that they don’t mean that much. I’ll say that this is for sure an incorrect assertion, and that especially at this time in my life, where I’m dating anyone and with no realistic possibilities of that happening any time soon, my friends play a bigger role than they might otherwise. Life happens, things change, I get this. And it’s not as though I want the change to stop, or that I can’t deal with the ups and downs, the ebbs and flows. It’s just the anxiety of knowing that I might have to start over, even just a little bit, is a little much to take sometimes.

In my quieter moments, I’m aware that everything is going to be okay. That I will survive this change. That certain people will always be there for me no matter what. It’s just that sometimes those voices in my head are far too strong. And sometimes I wish I had a mute button for them.

 

God bless,

Robert

I did not see The Secret Life of Walter Mitty when it came out in theaters. The combination of very little time, a lot of films coming out around the Christmas season and some less than stellar reviews led me to having never seen it. But I came up to Winston-Salem to hang out with my buddy Ryan (who happens to be graduating from film school tomorrow, too…congrats, buddy!), and so he put on the movie as we were having some pizza and relaxing at his place. Having seen the film, I am both upset that I didn’t get to catch it on the big screen and slightly perturbed at film critics. Oh well. At least I got the opportunity to see it at all.

For those who haven’t seen it, the story revolves around Walter Mitty, a kind of shy guy who works at Life magazine in the photo negative department and loses a negative that is supposed to serve as the cover for the final issue of the magazine. Walter is the type of guy who doesn’t take risks in all aspects of his life, which is why he’s held the same job for 16 years and why he has trouble talking to Cheryl, a woman he works with, on whom he dotes but can’t/won’t take action in that regard. But when a clue leads Walter to discover the location of the photographer, he takes it upon himself to hunt the man down in order to find the negative. He embarks upon a fantastic adventure to Greenland, Iceland and beyond. 

I found myself connecting with Walter in a few ways, mostly regarding how he interacts with the people around him. I get the introversion and the inability to connect with people without a great deal of effort. I’m not good at that either. But it isn’t really the specifics of the story that I really connected with, but more with the themes the movie conveys. It’s all about taking chances, getting outside of your head and doing rather than just thinking about doing. I think I said this before, but I struggle a great deal with over thinking and underdoing, if you will. In many ways, I really feel like this is the reason that I’m in the places in my life I am now. Rather than taking opportunities as they come, I back off and look for safety, for familiar. 

Maybe that’s the wrong way to go, too. Maybe I need to push past the regular and take some chances. It all comes back to the way that Cheryl describes “Major Tom” in the movie: “That song is about courage and going into the unknown,” she tells Walter, “It’s a cool song.” Maybe it’s time to be courageous every once in a while.

To go into the unknown.

 

God bless,

Robert