Friday, October 1, 2010

the adventure of the great Westfalia Part II

Ah...the joys of owning a car nearly ten years older than I am. My Volkswagen Westfalia, dubbed the Lady Wendy, has been sitting in my driveway not running for nearly 10 months now. Originally, I took it to Jim's VW out in Leeds where he fixed the fuel injection but it was still only running on 3 cylinders. He offered to "patch" it for $1200 but I graciously declined. I got the lady towed back to my house where it sat in the driveway from January until a few days ago. I talked to many people about the possibility of coming by the house and taking a look over the bus to see what sort of undertaking I had ahead of me. I was never able to get a single person to come lend me a hand until the end of July. Through some miracle, a man in Alabaster posted his info on and I e-mailed him a brief story of my situation. Within an hour, he called me back on my cell phone and we talked for the better part of an hour going over what I could do in my driveway, the story of the bus, and learning what he could do for me. I called him several times and got an answer each time with the good advice to go along with it.

A week ago, I sold my Camry that I've had since 2004 and finally had the money to put an overhaul on the engine. I called up my new go-to guy and gave him a run-down. I caught him just in time too, as he is taking a full time job at a Honda repair shop and would not be working on VW's in his driveway anymore. He offered to come up to my house after the weekend and take a good look at my bus to see if he could fix the problem in my driveway. When he got here, the first thing we did was test the battery, which was nearly dead. We drive to the auto parts store and buy a replacement battery (about $100). He hooks up the battery and I hop in the front to fire her up. Voila! She's alive!!! Still running poorly though...I shut her off. We take a look over the engine again, checking all the connections and parts and find one thing unplugged to the fuel injectors. Plug it in. Start the bus. Perfection.

If there was ever a happy camper, it is me and the Lady Wendy. I've been driving her daily since Monday and I am proud to say she is running beautifully. It's time to hit the road, folks.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


I believe the best feeling is the big sigh I take at the end of the day knowing that I've filled it with everything I can to make myself happy. Today is definitely one of those days I will take that sigh. I've actually been having a lot of those days lately.

The festival is moving along rather smoothly. This past week Matt and I went up to Guntersville to get a perspective on what we need to do to raise the money to put it on and talk to the people involved in the planning and whatnot. As we drove around Guntersville doing the footwork to talk to all the necessary people, it was beautiful to see some of their faces light up when we told them what we were doing. The best face we saw all day though was the lady at Mountain Valley Arts Council, to whom we are donating the money. We walked into her office early in the morning, sat down, and told her what we were doing. Her first question was "who are you?" We both laughed and told her if she could keep a secret, we are two kids who just wanted to do it. But really, how hard is that to believe?

I feel more and more like a little kid every day. I feel like I'm shaving the years off of my life every day when I open my eyes and begin a new day. Maybe this is the secret to the fountain of youth...

Saturday, September 4, 2010

learn something new every week...

One lesson that I feel I should add to the list below is to learn something new every week. It's more difficult than it seems when you get stuck in the routine of life. You wake up and go to the same job every day, cook the same things every week, hang out with the same people all the time, and drain your brain with television to help you sleep at night. I've even caught myself making the excuse "when would I have time to learn?" Sometimes the little things are those you learn and you won't catch them until you are looking. I learn new things about myself every day and the lesson I learned today is that I can get up at 6:30am to drive 3 hours to Atlanta, shoot a whole wedding, drive back, and still have the energy to do the things I would like to do tonight. I feel that's pretty substantial for how much energy I've put into the last week of my life. I should be exhausted by now but instead I am energized by the passions I have. Good thing to know.

To the more concrete things, I picked up a banjo this week. I've always wanted to learn how to play but have put it off due to excuses (I can't afford a banjo...I'm not musically inclined...What would I do if I did learn...) and honestly, I'm not that bad. Okay, so I've got a lot of work to do but it's nothing I can't handle especially since I'm planning a music festival, working towards touring next summer, and I have two jobs. If life wasn't so good, it'd be hard.

So if I can find the time to learn, so can you. Think about the things you always wanted to do but put off due to excuses. Change your mind and the circumstances will follow.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Taking it all in then letting it all out..

Sometimes I feel like I'm standing on the precipice of greatness. The feeling reminds me a lot of some things I picked up from What The Bleep Do We Know?. In the book, there is a reference to the question "what is reality?" and one thing discussed is how we wake up every morning and just assume that when we get out of bed and stand on the floor, there will be a floor there and not the edge of some cliff. We know this because every day we wake up and reorient ourselves with our surroundings and the floor is there and solid (can be detected by all our senses). But what happens when you wake up your life? Is there going to be a floor to stand on? I think this is where I am. I've woken myself up but each step I take is nearly a blind one. Instead of using sight, touch, smell, etc to make my way, I have to rely on intuition and experience. I've already stumbled before and it wasn't pretty. I'm not trying to prevent that again but it's scary to not know when you might dive off into that cliff. All I can do is go confidently and hope my choices will lead me in the right direction.

One thing that I am taking on and finally moving forward with is my dream of hosting a festival. My friend, Matt planted the bug and since then I have sorta run with it. I'm beginning to realize how much work goes into it but also how much I enjoy the work that it is. It's a test run for me. A trial. If I love it and get out of it what I put in, then there's always room for more. It's scary to think that two people with out a whole lot of experience putting together something like this are going for it. The good news is I've already been talking to a lot of people about it and every one who I've talked to has been enthusiastic about helping or the idea in general. Oh and while you're here, check out the fancy facebook link on the left.

In short, I'm so ready to make my dreams a reality.

Monday, August 9, 2010

a few lessons

So as most of you know, or could read from my blog, the past few months of my life have been some of the most difficult times I have seen yet. The work is not done and more obstacles lie ahead. I feel have gained more clarity about what I seek in my life and the feeling is one of rebirth. There are a few lessons that I have learned that I would like to share.

The first is of greatest importance to me and what I live my life by. It is the mantra that I repeat to myself nearly every day. This is to have fun. Regardless of the situation or how low you may feel in your life, seek the positive. I don't have to pull myself out of bed every day because I know that each day brings with it new opportunities.

Another great lesson that I have learned is to seek what is important in my life. After living with great financial hardship, I know that the material world around me is less and less important and that the intangible things that most take for granted are those that are irreplaceable. I hold my relationships with others in highest esteem. I am slowly learning to take my health at great importance too, but this is certainly one that is harder for me since I have developed so many bad habits. I am discovering new blessings in my life every day that I have been ignorant of for so long. Sometimes, I just need to keep my eyes open.

I have also learned that I cannot sit back and wait for my dreams to come to me. There are things that tend to just walk up to my doorstep but I cannot rely on this. To achieve the dreams that I have, I must work hard and bring with me all the good that I have. Although I am taking the small steps every day to bring me closer, the hardest part for me is to learn patience. For so long I have taken the attitude that I want it all and I want it all right now. I need to learn to listen to my inner voice and wait for the right moment to begin.

The last lesson that I would like to share is one of love. We've all heard it before..."love conquers all"..."love is the gateway to great things"...and blah blah blah. I believe in the power of love but it is more than just the romantic bullshit most people make it out to be. The most important thing I have learned is to know myself and then to love myself. Without this, you cannot even begin to love anything outside or yourself. Start with small things. Love the way you sleep funky at night and wake up with bed head. Love the freckles that appear on your face when you spend too much time in the sun. Love the air you breathe in, the way you spend your time, the books you've read, and the small things that make up who you are. Only then can you begin to look at those around you and love the little things that make them who they are. Think of how different the world would be if only we would hate a little less and love a little more.

Take these lessons for what they are. They are not rules, they are not wisdom. They are simply what I have learned from my experiences.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

it's a's an opportunity

I try so hard not to forget how blessed I truly am. Each day there are little reminders. Today my reminder was some leftovers a friend brought me from the restaurant she works at. It became lunch. Someone once told me "Accept food when you can. You never know where your next meal will come from." Wise words. A couchsurfer's words.

All my hard work in looking for a job has finally paid off. I have learned, though, that a job does not define who you are and it certainly does not define what I do. My job description is often pretty fluid. Lately, it's been mostly "artist". I am finally inspired and devoted to becoming what I have always believed I wanted to be when I grow up. Now as for what's making the money at the moment, I am so blessed to have joined a little pizzeria in Liberty Park as their newest server. It is nice to walk into a job and instantly feel like you are home. I am a little out of my element but I am excited to accept the new challenges that come with it.

My friends have helped me out tremendously during the past few months and I am slowly working towards showing them my appreciation. I may never be able to do what they have done for me but I will at least try to give back some of what has been given to me. Some of it may be paid forward, some of it may be small, and some of it may be all. I am excited about this coming month as I slowly began my ascension again and hope there will be others to join me in this great journey I call life. It is always much more amazing to share the road with those you love than to try and go it alone. I have dreams, I have goals, and I want for all my friends better than what they may have now. If you know me at all, I am not talking in the material sense. I am trying on a day to day basis to help all those around me enjoy and love their life as much as I do. This is why, no matter what the occasion, I always tell people to "have fun." It's a mantra. It's a philosophy.

Monday, July 19, 2010

still here

It's amazing what you realize you can live without, what you can pare down in your life. There are a few things I found I absolutely cannot live without.

1. Art. There is no way I could ever quit making art. I could be left with nothing but a pen and an old shabby notebook and still attempt at making something beautiful.

2. Food. Yes, and I do list this second.

3. Books. It's a good thing that most books are passed around freely and willing to be shared.

4. My friends and family. Last but not least, they are my heart and soul. I would be lost without them.

I have learned that the little money I do have should go to those things that are not necessary for me to live but rather to mobilize myself (gas in the car) or get food when it is unavailable to me. In the last few months of my life, I have been living by a very spare amount of money and it's nearly amazing what you learn about yourself when you are poor. As miserable as some moments have been this summer, I would not trade the knowledge gained about myself and the world around me for anything.

Now is the time that I stop digging the hole and start to pull myself out. I have come to terms that it will not be easy and I will still have to live sparingly in order to do it but I am fully prepared to accept this in order to achieve my dreams. I think before this summer that I would not have gained the determination that I have now. I am thankful for all the blessings my life has given me although the road to this appreciation was wrought with pain and difficulty. I am still here. I am still alive. I am still totally in love with my life.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

the magnitude of kindness

People never cease to amaze me. Maybe that's why I like them so much. I had yet another astounding couchsurfer experience this past Thursday night which keeps me blogging! When someone says they are driving nearly 10 hours to your town to see some band you've never heard of, go hang out with them. I had three wonderful people drive all the way from Florida to go see Kay Kay and the Weathered Underground at Bottletree then crash at my house. The night started off normal enough--I went to Bottletree to meet up with them before the show started. I did not intend on sticking around to see the band play because of several reasons (money, didn't know who they were, and I had some things I needed to do). Well, my plans changed quickly when a few members of the band came over to our table and started talking with us. Before we knew it, we were being added to the guest list and after talking with the drummer, I was really curious about what the music was like. From taking pulls of very warm but very good scotch in the parking lot to taking the entire band and my friends from Florida to Al's after the show, I was floored by how different from my expectations the night turned out to be. The band even gave me a copy of their single released on vinyl with some wicked artwork on the cover. I hope to eventually do some artwork of my own for them since they loved my psychedelic style.
Speaking of art, I'm so glad I've pulled myself out of the post-graduation rut that I have been in for nearly two years. How could I have let myself deny my art for so long? Having my photography up on the walls at Bottletree last weekend really inspired me to go forward with my artistic endeavors and so far it is paying off. I sat down this past week and hashed out the two posters that I plan on selling at the Phish concerts next weekend. I still can't believe they look as fantastic as they do. I just hope the fans like them as much as I do. A friend of mine also offered to build some nice frames for the pieces that I did for the Bottletree show. I'm calling it a collaboration of talent because Kevin is amazing at carpentry. He's been wanting to build furniture too but doesn't quite have the design knack so I may start drawing up some ideas for that soon. I guess that's the one thing I love so much about art--the people and the talent involved is so great that everyone's willing to help each other out.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

banana pancakes for the artist

When I gain clarity, I'll let you know.

Otherwise, I'm still putting one foot in front of the other working slowly toward a goal that seems infinitely far away. Leaving Birmingham? Did I really want to be here in the first place? I think it's been a good stepping stone for figuring out where I want to make my mark in this world. I have learned so much from the people around me and the few that have passed through. Couchsurfers have a good way of giving me a reality check. My last one, after we both had a few beers, gave me one of the best reality checks I have in a good while. The conversation went as thus:

Dan: "So how are you going to eat this weekend?"
Me: "I don't know--I'll figure something out."
Dan: "No, really. how are you going to eat this weekend?"
Me: "Well tomorrow morning I'll wake up and eat the rest of the biscuits that I made earlier today and then I'll head over to the Bottletree to help put up the art show and I think there will be food there. My mom's coming to the art show and she'll probably buy me dinner. On Sunday I'm going to an expo and generally they have free samples there and after that I have dinner plans with a friend who's paying."
Dan: "So you have plan?"
Me: "Always. I know how to survive."
Dan: "Can I take you out to breakfast tomorrow morning?"

The good news is with a dollar in my pocket all weekend, I ate pretty well. Breakfast with Dan at the Pancake House was delicious...we both had banana pancakes with blueberry topping.

The reality check gave me two things:
I am a starving artist.
The kindness of people never ceases to amaze me.

It's the little things that get me by and keep a smile on my face. I will never quit loving my life and I will never quit loving those that are there to enjoy it with me.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

becoming an adult

Of all the adventures I think growing up might be the hardest. The real world seems to take no prisoners when it comes to kicking you while you are already down. I count my blessings everyday though. I have amazing friends that help me when things are going my way and I intend to fully repay them for their kindness. Recently, I lost my job at J.Clyde and once again had to join the many many people that are searching for jobs right now. I was lucky and within a week of my last day at J.Clyde I already had two jobs that looked promising. So the good news is I'm now working as an agent at SelectMySpace which is a free apartment locating service in Birmingham. The hours suit me better as I can make my own schedule and don't have to work until the god-forsaken hours in the A.M. I already knew I was a morning person and my mood seems way better when I wake up early and go to bed (fairly) early. I enjoy the work, too. I love that it's a people-based industry where I get to show clients apartments and help them make a difficult decision. The people that work in my office are pretty stunning too. Despite some fierce competition, we tend to joke around and generally have a good time while working. It's rare that anyone is in a "fml" mood.

I'm also trying to play as hard as I can despite some financial woes. A few months ago I started dating one of my old friends from Camp McDowell, Mark Drake. He got me started on my new addiction of playing disc golf (Check out for more information). I joined the league here in Birmingham and have already played several courses in Alabama. It's relatively inexpensive to begin playing with most discs costing under $10 plus there are no course fees. Mark and I also share a love of camping and have gone to Sipsey Wilderness several times. As if I was having enough fun, I've been going to nearly every concert or festival that I can. That list includes: Umphrey's McGee, Yonder Mountain String Band, RJD2, Trey Anastasio Band, Wanee Festival (with Widespread Panic, The Allman Brothers Band, Derek Trucks, and tons more). Tonight I am going to see Lotus play at WorkPlay and already have plans to see three nights of Phish in July with Mark.

I may be in a funk right now and possibly having one of the worst weeks of my life but the only things I can say is that I'll keep on truckin. It's all I can do. :)