Saturday, September 24, 2011

Day one at Camp Awesome

So. It is break for semester 2, and I am out with the family camping.
It's been too long since we braved the elements. Well, last night we certainly did.
Lots of rain. Lots of wind. Lots of storm.
At one point Eve pokes me and says 'We just lost the gazebo.'

I had been slightly preoccupied at this point with not accidentally coughing my lungs up. But the morning after, predawn light woke me at something-to-six and I ventured outside.

Yes, we did lose the gazebo.

There it sat, crumpled as though the aluminium frame and canvas were nothing more than wet cardboard. I admired its state of pathos until Dad told me to get back in the tent so the gremlin residing in my lungs couldn't spasm so much.

The world resurfaced about forty minutes later, and I watched my brother start the morning's fire.

This is actually where the purpose of the blog post starts.

My brother and I have very different methods of starting fires. I mean, they both work (...kinda) but they have different layouts, different tricks and use different amounts of cardboard.

I watched him start it, and wander away when the wood had begun to catch. My sister, father and I then proceeded to move the base of the fire lower into the brazier so that it could last longer than twenty minutes.

I quite like fire.

And many of the concepts that come with it:

Colour, elemental value, shape, heat; the things it can be alluded to.

I frankly stink at communicating with people, but give me some dry wood and a few matches and I'll be a happy camper.

Anyway, me and fire are mates.

So, this morning, I watched the pile of crackling twigs and pondered the layouts that Jack and I use and what I could blog about them.

Since I'm kinda involved in headspace involving relatory concepts (and I very nearly told off my brother for building a short-term fire), I'll compare firebending with...relatory concepts.

Because when you look at it like this, a fire built like this,
will catch where all the branches intersect at the top. It burns for a while, and then collapses and moves outward. It is built tall, so this morning the rest of the team had to move the base of the fire into the bottom of the brazier so that it wouldn't be blown out by the wind.

At this point I need to add some kind of disclaimer.
I'm not saying that my brother sucks at making fires (because he can make one), and I can't really determine whether he is a long or short-term relationship guy (because he tends to be fairly non-broadcasty when it comes to girls). But I will say that he tends to use a lot of cardboard when starting a fire.

Maybe this is the bit where we stick with the metaphor?

So, your cardboard and accelerant and paper is all the little fluffy bits of relatory. It's the sweet nothings murmured, the little notes, the sweet bits and pieces that, while they might make things flashy, can't constitute the basis of a relationship. In the same way, fires don't work if you pile a whole lot of paper together and then set a lit match to it.

I know this because Bec wanted to creatively remove a whole heap of scrunched-up paper I was throwing out. We took it into the street and she set it on fire. It burned big. Burned hella bright too. But the first gust of wind that came past blew it out and around, and suddenly we were kicking bits of ash, making sure we didn't accidentally set fire to someone's front lawn.

That's the other thing too - paper and cardboard, in spite of their bright-burning properties, boil down into ash - white flakes of nothing.

The other fire type I wanted to bring up was this one.

It looks like a jenga stack. I tend to build something like this.
This is where we look specifically at the build types and my flawed metaphor.

This build uses more wood from the start. It uses less cardboard. And the bigger pieces of fuel are used to shelter the small fire from the wind. But it gets going, and stays going. It's easier to build up, and as it burns, collapses in towards itself, creating something that lasts longer.

This next bit is totally up to you, but I'm going to stick with five years of trying to figure people and six years before that of having my Girl Guide leaders teach me how to build a fire. Personally? I want something that will burn for a long long time.

I guess I actually want to close with an extended part of the fire = relationship metaphor.
People like standing upwind of a fire in the same way that they enjoy hanging out with a couple that is edifying to the group as individuals and as an entity.
People enjoy standing downwind of a fire in the same way that they enjoy watching a couple (consisting of friends) make out in public.
(I'm not sure what your tastes are, but I find it a little....overbearing.)
And, like, eeew.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Well, this is odd.

Dear readers, I've got about three or four potential posts sitting on the backburner, but haven't finished any of them. And this afternoon, a complete inspiration popped into my head. So I'm going to tell you about one of the weird things I believe in.

I'll create a tangent first by telling you how the idea arrived.

Today had been kinda busy but not - it wasn't as though I'd been physically exerted. Been a while since my brain's tried juggling china cups and chainsaws though.
I did however manage to get sunburnt. Driver's Arm is forseeable this season, I can safely say.

So, this arvo when I got home, I pulled out a picture I'm working on for Paint/Draw. It's a panoramic landscape sunset thingie, done up in oilstick and turpentine. Usually I work with headphones in, so in they went and away the work went.

The closest-to-complete bit.

This continued until I had a song pop up on the list - called 'Falling Slowly' (by the Frames)

Take this sinking boat and point it home - we've still got time.
Raise your hopeful voice - you have a choice - you've made it now.

For some reason the word 'choice' stuck out. Not as a Kiwi buzzword, but in terms of the idea itself.
About two or three music tracks later I heard 'The Unwinding Cable Car' (by Anberlin)

Emotive unstable, you're like an unwinding cable car.
Listening for voices, but it's the choices that make us who we are.

Taking it as more than coincidence, I proceeded to drop my iPod onto the slightly turpentine-y surface of my work and began to think about making the concept into a blog post.

Choice has always been a big thing for me.
Well, maybe not always, but it certainly became more important after year 11 English where we looked at Determination versus Determinism. And there are also the countless times I've tuned in to sermons concerning Predestination.
Do we get to choose where we go or not?

As far as that goes, I at least think I know what I'm talking about.
It goes something like, It'll only matter if you let it matter.

What I mean to say is that, we don't know what will happen in the future. So, if things are fated, then that means I was destined to eat porridge this morning. If I get to pick what happens, then that means that I decided against having oatsghurt this morning because I didn't want to eat all of the yoghurt.
Either way, I had porridge.

Still with me?

So, it's like, since I can't see the future, I should still try choosing. If the choice is fated, then that's okay, because I trust the Guy who is writing my fate. It's better than sitting in the kitchen all morning, trying to figure out if I can beat fate by eating tandoori chicken for breakfast (which we don't have, by the way), because then nothing would get done.

At this point, I'd embed a quote from a movie, but finding the exact one is...rather difficult.

There's a part later in the movie where another character (a young boy) tells it to someone else (a fifty-foot tall iron giant) and that's actually the one I wanted.
It's a kids movie, but it's also totally worth watching. It's called The Iron Giant. Go rent it and watch it.

So, as much as I'm choosing, I'm also trusting the one who knows my choices before I do, and trying to choose things that will in turn show what I believe in.

Am I being cryptic?
I'm a Christian. Just sticking the fact out there. Plain and simple. And I believe that God has an awesome plan in store for life.

I guess that having a life directed by this changes things a little.

I get motivated to choose. To decide what I want to be and what I want to do. Where to go.

All the while knowing that if I let God direct my choices, things will work out so much better. But that's never encouraged me to sit still. Because then nothing will change.

So I choose to glorify God. I choose to follow him. I choose to love him.

I choose to love others too.
At this point in time, I think it's safe to say (or incredibly bigheaded) that choosing to love is better than basing it on some fleeting emotion. We've gone and attached pink hearts and chocolate to something that is better coloured blood red - love isn't just sunsets, music or a hand to hold.

" You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
Romans 5:6-8

Anyone who reckons it is easy to love the people who are willfully causing you mortal harm, speak now. 

"Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends."
John 15:13

As much as I liked the corny side of love when I had it, this seems like a far greater purpose and calling. Something that would be hard to do, but so much more worth it if you could.

So a little bit at a time, I try to choose to love. It means having to hold on even when it hurts, but I think it means a lot more than the sugary, watered down idea that the media has fed us for so long.

Remember who you are.
Remember what this is. Find it, take hold of it in a deathgrip that refuses to release its hold.

This is now. This is who I choose to be. This is what I've got, and this is what I'm going to do with it.

And I think that just maybe, if I choose to do things that put God first, then everything else will fall into place.

Friday, September 2, 2011

An evening with Anberlin

Initially I was going to call this post 'The second-best day of my life', but the more I thought about it, the more I realised that the title of the event was perfectly adequate in describing the event, the evening and how I felt about all of it. But it was also probably the second-best day of my life.

The Best day of my life happened about nine years ago in November. It was a stinking hot day and I'd done a walk-thru the Old Testament seminar and post-seminar, asked God to direct my life. I don't have any photos from that day. I cannot actually remember what date it was either. But it was in November, and I highly doubt that anything else I will experience in life will surpass the importance of that day.

Currently, I shall divulge to you the events of last night.

Also, I apologise in advance to those who don't understand my language. I revert back to Brookespeak when heavily fatigued.

The concept started about two weeks ago, after returning from a weekend away with my bible study group. My mind had been wandering, and suddenly ratcheted onto my most-favoured band. This was partly because it was the time of year when they had released albums for the previous three years. I had been thinking, "I wonder if Anberlin will be putting out a new album soon?"

So when we arrived home, I hopped onto their website to check.

I didn't find information on a new album release. But I did find information on a tour.
This prospect was exciting. I had never seen them play live before.
I clicked madly around the site, collecting the data that would tell me whether I could make it or not. An idea formed, and after mulling over it for a couple of days, was sent out to a couple of friends.

Do you want to come and see Anberlin live with me?

Sadly, all requests came back negative. I had previously run the plan past my mother, who had lived and breathed Sydney in her uni days. She said that the Enmore Theatre was small, and that if I wanted to go, I'd have to get a wriggle on.

Eventually I made a snap-decision. I'd done London for six weeks, flaneuring, by myself . Sydney should be no problem. Bookings were made, memberships were entered and I studiously checked the train timetables. I was going and I was going to enjoy it, by jove.

So, with much anticipation, the day drew near. Finally Thursday arrived, and, after dropping in on the classes and errands I needed to run, I headed for the train station and began the trek to Syd's knees.

<<Wow. It is getting late.>>

Arriving at Central, I dropped in long enough to deposit my stuff and meet my roommates. There were two girls from Norway and an American girl who was looking for work. I met one of the Norweigan girls and spoke to her, and the other one I probably woke up when I arrived back from the show. But I'll get to that.

Slightly befuddled by traffic and my shoddy sense of direction, I followed the black-shirted youths that travelled in groups and were murmuring things about live shows, all the time thinking to myself, "Should have brought some water. So thirsty"

Which is of course completely unrelated unless you happened to know that I had been a stupidhead earlier that day and forgotten to take water to drink. Thus, dehydration was getting kind-of, well, bad. This problem was rectified and the blog post moved forward in time and space.

Suddenly, I had finished making my way down Enmore lane and was standing in the line outside the door, clutching a piece of yellow card with my name on it and inwardly cursing the fact that I hadn't strapped my ankle up fully before leaving the backpackers.

Oh, that's right. I'd failed to mention that. My ankles have a tendency to pack it in with minimal provocation. Performing a minor stunt in the car park after church the Sunday before I went had been provocation enough. I'd spent the week with my foot in a pressure bandage.

However, this was not to get in the way of what was ahead. The doorman took part of the ticket and in our line poured. Some people gawped, some walked straight to the stage; some headed to the merchandise stall. I went down to the floor level to observe the surroundings, thinking, "Mum was right. This place is tiny." The size of the venue did not detract in any way from the ten-metre-tall stack of speakers I observed to my right. This was going to be a lot of fun.

It is important to mention at this stage that, after having an inner-turmoil battle-of-the-percieved-stocks-of-merch-table, I went up and purchased a T-shirt and poster. Then I went back down to the D-floor and tried to think of what I could do with them. For once, I'd not taken a bag and instead taken my jacket with 11 pockets. The jacket required some rearranging, but eventually the T-shirt found a pocket. It was only after the line-up band finished that I figured out what to do with the poster.

In the interim before that though, I was stuck with the poster in one hand, thinking, "What kind of idiot goes and buys a poster and then takes it into a mosh pit?"
The idiot in this case was obviously myself.
Holding the poster became less of a problem once it had been tied inside my jacket.

Eventually, the lights went down and that sent up some kind of signal, because a lot of people started making a lot of noise. Then the opening band came on - they were called 'Tonight Alive', and while I'd never heard of them before, they reminded me a lot of Paramore. Well, Paramore back when the Farro brothers still played: Five Man Band, with a female lead. The songs felt rather similar too. Well, the lyrics of which I could make out.

The sounds were...loud. Really, really loud. Make-your-ribcage-buzz-when-they-hit-the-bass-drum-loud. But exciting too. There were fists pumping and headbobbing and minor mosh activity.

And then Anberlin came on.

This roar went up from the crowd, and I looked on, slightly dumbstruck, as the band members took up their positions.
I got to know, got to hear of Anberlin about four years ago - when Cities was released. I had known that they'd changed their 'look' for the band since the Tooth and Nail years but was still very much used to their faces from 'The Unwinding Cable Car'. (I used it as an inspiration source for a uni assessment on 'Identity' and deconstructed the music video into storyboards.)
Anyway, they looked different. But they still sounded very much the same.
The crowd had already been revved up by the opening act, so with much gusto the band launched into Dismantle.Repair. The audience followed, singing, roaring. We moshed like....Masai warriors. Sung along like the words were battlecries for the soul (Some of them were, mind you). Danced like mad things and fist pumped like we were in an Anberlin concert.

Funny that.

I wish....I wish I was still there. I wish they had a live album recording. I wish I'd taken some initiative and given at least one of them a hug after the concert. More about that later.

The songs continued on, and so did we. I moshed until a giant cramp in my side advised against further activity, and eventually the songs plateaued into some of the quieter ones. It was really very awesome to hear all of these other people singing along - so loud was the music and the people that I could barely hear my own straining voice along with the multitude. For a long time, the only other people I knew who were into Anberlin were those who had introduced me to it. The Old Guard (those who were the last generation of youth group) back at my hometown church all listened to them in varying degrees, and I am fairly certain we all were stuck on Cities.

My point?
For a long time the only people I knew who even knew who Anberlin were I could count on my fingers. And then I met my (now)ex's cousin, who had Paperthin Hymn and two years later, went to see them at Soundwave and made me rather jealous. So, there weren't a lot of people who knew about them. And suddenly I was in a room with people who knew every lyric from every song, and Stephen Christian and Joseph Milligan and Christian McAlhaney and Deon Rexroat and Nate Young are there and we're just...just...

<<brain short-circuits.>>

It was amazing. I really, really enjoyed it.

At this stage, I'll give a brief overview of what happened next and then tell you a little bit more about a couple of the songs they performed and what I thought of them.

Fast-forward to the end of the night, where we, after thronging inside the theatre, began to throng on our way out past the table where the band members were sitting and signing things. I saw a couple of guys walking over clutching drumsticks that Nate had thrown out into the audience, and bit by bit made my way over to the table, fiddling with the poster that had somehow remained intact for the duration of everything.

In the end, I didn't get to say much. There was a 'thank you', a 'you played excellently' and an 'I really enjoyed listening to you'. But I got to look Stephen Christian in the eye. And in hindsight, I wish I'd been able to say something. Shake hands. Tell a joke to. Buy a beer for. I'd scribbled a note mentioning some part of the amount that I wished I'd expressed and had it in my hands. It was given to Deon, who was at the end of the line, along with the words "Have a thing."

I'm so eloquent.

And thus, the theatre was exited. Oporto was the next stop, where a much-overdue dinner was sought out at the time of 11:40pm. It would be considered a late dinner if I was in Europe, where they eat late anyway. NZ dinners FTW.
Walking up the street, it was easy to spot the fellow concert-people. Many were carrying white rolled-up posters, much the same as my own. Eventually the night bus came, and, at the end of it all, I arrived back at the Backpackers at about half-past Friday.
Mum got a message to say that I wasn't dead, and I proceeded to consume my dinner, which had all the connotations of being 'a slab of fried gold'.
It certainly tasted like one, all the way up until I got Oporto sauce down my shirt. I don't know how. It just happened.

As silently as I could muster, the bed was crawled into and I closed my eyes at 1am, wondering when the ringing in my ears would die down. It had been a long day. But it had been marvelous and I was very thankful for all of it. Except maybe for getting Oporto sauce on the pants that I'd have to wear the next day. But that kind of paled into insignificance next to everything else, so that was okay.

<<Now I think I'll tell you about some of the songs. Expect ranting.>>

Pray Tell.
This song is probably my favourite off 'Dark is a Way, Light is a Place.'
Despite the fact that there are already some videos from last night on YouTube, there isn't one for this. But that is okay.
Before going, I was being busy getting wound up over actually getting to go. Then I listened to this song and went, I really, REALLY hope they play this!
It's like the track was made to be played live. The drumbeat is unreal. And one minute we're standing in the crowd, and the next I can hear the start of the drumbeat and I know that the next three minutes is going to be freaking awesome.

The Art of War.
Another from 'Dark is a Way, Light is a Place.'
I don't know if it's ironic or what. This album was given to me by the only person I want to sing this song to right now. Listening to it being played live, I hoped and hoped that maybe they'd hear it. Maybe they'd know. But while singing along, my whole heart was in it.
<<Maybe Brooke would stop going third-person on the rest of the readers.>>

Finally, I know how to pronounce this one! Stephen Christian mentioned before starting it that this song was the one 'that got the most tattoos'. I'd never heard it played acoustic before. So worth it.

This is from 'Cities.'
They'd just finished, and left the stage. There was the roaring of the crowd, and in a relatively short period of time, a distinguishable chant could be heard:
One more song! One more song! One more song!
There was a moment of uncertainty, and then the most excellent and probably completely exhausted gentlemen made their way back to the stage, finishing the night with (in my opinion) the greatest song they've ever made.
What was really cool was that the audience pretty much formed the choir part that occurs in the song.
What was also insane was that Stephen finished the performance by dropping the mike onto the stage.

Now that I sit back and think about it, he was probably completely drained. I do not blame him in the slightest.


I can't think of how to finish this post.
I may stick up more videos as they trickle onto YouTube.
Or I may just go and try to draw out the humungous knot that has formed in my leg from excessive moshing.
Whichever way the cards fall, It's late and I am really, really tired. So bed it is. Bed, sleep, and dreaming of the cause of justifiable hearing loss.