Monday, January 23, 2012

Berlin Gallery Part Deux

Having spent Thursday night up until almost 2 in the morning trying to put together art pieces with Amanda I left her house wondering how we were going to get everything ready for our gallery on Friday night. At one point on Friday I said to myself; "I'm lacking sleep, I haven't eaten much, and it's going to take a miracle to get these art projects done and ready for our gallery> It's just like Berlin."

And just like in Berlin, God gave us favor and every piece of art was done and on the walls. Every one remembered the parts to their songs and for a third time Team Berlin put on their art gallery. A ton of people showed up, a lot more than anyone on the team was expecting to be there, and we were able to show people what our missions trip had been about.

If you came to the gallery, thank you so much for your support! It was great to share our pieces and experience with everyone!

Monday, January 9, 2012

2012 Game Changers - The French Press

I like coffee. Ok... I love coffee. I drink a lot of it. I don't always need more coffee but I'll drink more. If you know me (and I imagine if you're reading this, you do) you already know this fact. Nothing new being revealed here.

But I had never had French Pressed coffee before. Seriously. This little fact I admitted to Amanda, who couldn't believe it. She was so shocked that for Christmas she bought me a French Press. (Have I mentioned how awesome she is?)

I know there is good coffee and bad coffee. The coffee I had in Berlin was amazing. The coffee at Starbucks... Well it's pretty terrible in my opinion. But seriously, how much of a difference was a French Press going to make?

The answer is a lot. The French Press makes a seriously killer cup of coffee. Why did I not I know about this until now?

The French Press is a game changer for sure!

Friday, January 6, 2012

About a Girl

So before Thanksgiving I wrote about letting go of the good thing and going after the God thing. While general good advice, this was an answer to a specific prayer for me and looking back it was probably a double sided answer. But naturally I didn't see it as such so I kept praying. An out of the blue conversation with a friend of mine should've been the confirmation and green light I needed. It wasn't. A second conversation pushing me should have been what got me going. But it too was not enough. And I was still praying about what to do. Finally God, as he almost always has to do, yells at me.

*Note - Actual yelling did not occur.

So while praying asking God what I should do, I hear "Bryan, you know what you want." I imagine the conversation with God could've gone something like this after that revelation.

Me - Alright, I got it God. I should go for it.
God - Well I'd freaking hope so after all the hints I've dropped!

**Note - I imagine the casualness of that exchange with God might upset some people. I apologize. That's how I roll though.

***Note - If the title of this blog didn't give it away, yes this is about a girl. The tone of this post is going to change drastically for some of you.

So I think it took at least 3 or 4 tries before I actually let the call to Amanda go through. Sitting outside Frozen Yo, nervous as hell, not sure at all what to expect. She answers and the conversation went something like this:

Me - I was wondering if you'd like to go out some time?
A - Sure. When?
Me - Well I know your schedule is crazy. When are you free?
A - ::Rattles of a week full of activities with absolutely no free time::
Me - Ok...
A - Well let's play it by ear and we can work it out when something is available.
Me - Sounds good.

That's right, I asked her out and didn't get a hard date set in stone. Not a great confidence booster. She had an out. We hadn't confirmed anything. She could just never talk to me again. I suppressed panic as I had other things I needed to focus my attention on. All the while thinking in the back of my mind that this was never going to actually happen and it would just be a moment in our friendship that we never talked about.

But the next day she texted me with a Tuesday availability. So we went out. And it was nice. Texted her the next day and said I had a great time and would like to go out again sometime. She didn't text back... Well she said she had a good time but didn't respond to text number two. Instead an e-mail invite was sent to me, asking if I'd like to join her at her office party. Of course my answer was yes. Here was the small issue... I had to wear a suit.

If you're shocked that this is an issue, we probably aren't good friends then. I didn't own a suit. I didn't know how to tie a tie. I had no need for any of these things. That's how awesome my life is (or lame for some of you). Tried to use one of my brothers’ but it was a no go there. So I bought a suit. Yes, I bought a suit to go out with her! It's crazy and a pretty big investment for a girl that you have no idea what she's thinking or feeling but I bought it nonetheless. As I've explained to my younger brother, guys will do crazy things for the women they want to impress. And I bought a suit!

So I still didn't have a read on her. Like... She seemed to have a good time but I still wasn't getting any real positive this-is-moving-forward type vibes. That was until date number three was initiated by her. We went ice skating. And even while we were out I wasn't super sure what she was thinking. But I was having a great time.

But something changed that night. I don't think either of us has really been able to say what exactly that was, but something changed.

Anyways, I think I've been pretty detailed so far so I'll just leave the story there.

I'll just say it's been a pretty incredible month with an amazing girl who I feel blessed to have. I mean... I'm kind of a giant dork and the fact that she wants to be around me is pretty cool. She's beautiful and encouraging and just extremely amazing! I'm super thankful for her! God was super cool in blessing me with such an amazing girl. I look forward to many more adventures with her!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Let It Go

One of my all time favorite tv shows in VH1's Behind the Music. Great show. The greatest moment on the show ever is also one of the saddest things you'll ever watch. Behind the Music: Leif Garrett had a moment where Leif and one time friend Roland Winkler were reunited. The two hadn't seen each other really since a car accident in 79 that left Winkler paralyzed (the show aired in 99). In the most touching Behind the Music moment ever, Garrett issues a heartfelt apology, talking about how the guilt has eaten away at him for years and this accident has affected his entire life. On the flip side of all this is Winkler who accepts Garrett's apology and admits that he forgave Leif years ago and has moved on with his life and is really happy and that there's no reason why Leif should still be so guilt ridden over this incident that happened 20 years ago.

As I was reflecting and praying on Pastor Hall's New Year's Eve message yesterday afternoon this moment came to mind. It's always been a scene that was really sad to me. Leif Garrett carried around this guilt for 20 years. It ate away at him and tore is life up for 20 years while the person he had hurt and who's life he had damaged was able to move on and have a happy life.

And as sad as the moment is that's how so many live. We are unwilling to let go of our past mistakes and failures and we carry them around with us and let them affect parts of our lives they shouldn't have any control over.

I don't know if I can one of my favorite Markisms (because I'm a fan of them all) but I love "Your best days are ahead of you." I think it's a positive attitude to keep in mind. But in order for your best days to be ahead of you, you can't let past failures and mistakes control you. Our past mistakes and failures are things to learn from. The consequences are still there from our choices and there can be pain and lingering affects that we will carry with us forever.

Without a doubt my favorite song by Relient K from a lyrical standpoint is Who I Am Hates Who I've Been. I love the bridge.

"Who I am hates who I've been
And who I am will take the second chance you gave me
Who I am hates who I've been
'Cause who I've been only ever made me"

Our pasts, full of heartache, disappointments, failures, rejection, mistakes, and more are what help us to become who we are. But only if we're willing to learn from our past and continue to move forward.

God has great things in store for us this year! Don't hold on to that which he's already forgiven you for. Let go, seek forgiveness, learn from the past, and continue to move forward.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Out With the Old - An Ode to 2011

This is a long one. Read at your own risk. You've been warned.

Another year done and a new one ready to start. Don Miller has said he loves new mornings, new days, new weeks, and new years because they mark a starting over. I like that. The Bible says God's mercies are new every morning, which is awesome. I like to look at new years as new starts. January 1st is a good time to refocus and move forward. This year it's a time to build off all the good that has happened in the last 6 months.

In reflecting 2011 it's sad that other then seeing Godspeed You Black Emperor at 930 Club I don't really remember anything that happened before I went to Disney World. Which means the first 5 months of 2011 were pretty boring. How sad.

So I went to Disney World. Disney World is awesome! If you don't think Disney World is awesome than you need awesome lessons. Disney was fun. New Toy Story ride is slick! Toy Story Rides at the Disney Theme Parks is sweet, even if I do suck at interactive shooting games (and they both are). Here is my beef with Disney World...

Some people, like myself, might be overgrown children and collect toys (just saying). I was looking forward to grabbing some action figures of some of my favorite Disney and Pixar films. But alas there were no such toys at Disney World. There were these, kind of, neat collectable figures that they were selling and I picked up a couple but I had brought a nice chunk of cash to blow on toys (Yes, I understand how old I am). I did get a killer, and large, coffee cup and new Winnie The Pooh but the lack of action figures forced me to spend my afternoons on Ebay.

Can we talk about some firsts? Of course we can! It's my blog and we can talk about whatever my little heart desires!

So I've lived in the DC area my whole life. This isn't news. But there are things that one would just assume that I have experienced in my life because I've been here. But that's not the way it works. So Fourth of July.... Kind of hate July the 4th. It's not because I don't appreciate my freedom and it's not because I'm anti-American, I just think it's an over hyped holiday. It's hot as nuts outside and fireworks aren't that great. And yet I'm expected the sit out in the heat, sweat, and watch fireworks for 20 minutes? No spank you! I will stay inside my air-conditioned house, enjoy a cold beer from fridge, and watch a movie about blowing stuff up (because what's more American than that?).

So obviously, given the nature of my rant, you've probably figured out that in my life I have never been downtown to the Mall to watch the fireworks. It's never happened. Ok... It might have happened when I was super young but I don't think that really counts. One of my goals for 2011 was to be more social. No seriously, it was. Stop laughing. All done now? Ok. Like I said... Be more social. So some friends of mine met across the river in Virginia to watch the fireworks. And I went. It was hot, I was sweaty, and it was awesome! The fireworks were actually pretty damn spectacular. Met a lot of awesome people and just had a fun time. This will be happening again for sure!

I'm going to jump ahead several months since we're talking about firsts. I had never been ice-skating outdoors. This mostly happened because of my ignorance that such a thing could be done in DC. Not ok. But a couple weeks ago with put that on the done and done list. Went to the Sculpture Garden, strapped on a pair of skates and went around in circles for two hours. One of my favorites nights of the year (but more on that at a later time).

I guess I can't talk about 2011 without talking about the end of an era, the end of a solid couple years run, the end of a relationship that I struggled with for it's final fleeting months as the end was forced upon me. I of course am talking about my relationship with hair gel (What did you think I was talking about?). The fine folks at Garnier decided that the audience of one that was buying the hair gel that I used religiously was not enough to keep the product on the shelves. Naturally, I did what any self-respecting person would do. I went to every store in the area and bought every bottle of hair gel I could find. And then the day came... No more gel on the shelves... No more gel at home. How was I going to maintain the rock star chic (yep) hairstyle I had perfected and worn for years? One can't just change gels like that. But there was time for the 12 stages of grief as I had to head off to Berlin. So I packed and took what the Hair Cuttery recommended as the best alternative (uh, negative) and used that until I had run dry. My bitterness towards Garnier would not last long as I made the switch to a pomade that they make. Pomade is more rock and roll anyway. Right?

I bought a suit and learned how to tie a tie. Yep.

In the done and done category we can add drove across the country. It wasn't the extensive road trip I would've liked it to be but I still did it. California to Maryland in 3 days. I did get to see my buddy Wil which, although way to short, was AWESOME! There's still a ton of things I need to see and another road trip across the country is for sure in order at some point but I'm glad I can say that I did this. Although spending 3 days driving by yourself will make one go a little crazy. I'm 100% convinced this was the catalyst to the end of my introverted self.

I went dancing. A lot. At one point it was up to 7 weeks in a row. Sad when that awesome streak ended. Looking forward to more dancing in 2012. And there's sure to be more of it!

I did go through a break-up this year. Hindsight is everything but even after it had happened I could see that the relationship needed to end so God could start something awesome in me and move into the places He wanted. Life has been better and God has been doing a lot of awesome things in my life. It's been exciting and if things needed to end with her so God could get me where I am now, than thank God that they ended. I know that sounds harsh... But I couldn't be where I am now without things happening the way they did.

This summer's God Anthology series at church was one of the greatest sermon series I've ever heard. Challenging each and every week. A 9 part series that brought my world crashing down every week as God was working and revealing Himself in new ways to me. Each week was a different challenge and the processing of what God was revealing was different each and every week. I chronicled my thoughts through that series pretty well already so you'll just have to go trawling through past posts if you want my insights on that series.

The ending of that series with the God Anthology live album recording concert was amazing. Great time of worship that was super needed in my life. As someone who plays at church every week, those moments when I get to just worship are nice. One of the highlights of the year for sure.

One of the dreams I've had for many years is to have sort of arts based community thing... That's about as detailed as I can ever get. I've had the name Something Beautiful for years but never really got anything going. The dream has burned strong at moments in my life and has been pretty dead and missing at other points. After a conversation with a girl who was struggling with finding acceptance as an artist I decided it was time to stop dreaming and start acting. So I put on an arts and music gallery. It was small, poorly organized (shocker), and not completely what I had envisioned. It was also a huge success! Everything has to start somewhere and actually, finally, doing something instead of talking about it felt good. Everyone involved had a great time and most importantly it was a step taken.

I run this music blog. No big deal. I'm a music nerd. It's a lifelong obsession. So review records and have a podcast. It's something I started... Well because I wanted to. So I've run this jimmy jam for 2 and half years now. But this year my traffic started to increase. This first half of the year I was getting a ton of hits. While the hits have leveled off, it's still more people hitting my blog up than I thought would ever happen. Plus I got to interview Hands (who released my favorite album of the year), was asked my The Make to help promote their brand new single, and have started working with Blood and Ink Records doing reviews for them. That's pretty freaking cool if you ask me. Nerd Win!

Berlin was the highlight of my year. A couple weeks after my cross-country drive; I got on a plane with a dozen of my new best friends. I think I went into the trip expecting it to be awesome and things to change in my life but I don't think I really expected to build such great relationships that have carried over. Group hugs (that may or may not weird other people out), lots of dancing, and general uncomfortable conversations have been a staple in my life since Berlin, and I wouldn't trade it for anything! I love the people I went with. It was an awesome trip (also well chronicled on this blog).

Was that it? Did I cover everything? I'm not sure. I feel like something is missing... Oh well. I think you get the idea. 2011 was kind of awesome! So 2012... Bring It! Let's Rock!