We call them fools who have to dance within the flame

Music is something so powerful in my life. It provides a soundtrack for the years I’ve lived. It envelopes memories and brings them back to life with that very first note. It gives voice to emotions I can’t find another way to express. I’ve never been a musician – I just don’t have the talent – but I’ve always loved music with a passion. It’s one constant friend, always there to depend on.

While recorded music is deeply entwined in my life – the power of a live performance is even more intense. You’re there while the chords are being played, the notes and words are sung; you’re there as the tapestry of sound is being woven and brought to life. The connection is stronger and can touch you deeper in your soul.

Last week’s Garth concert was the 17th time I’ve seen him perform, and close to my 400th concert overall. I was enjoying the show: getting lost in the crowd, in the chills created by roughly 21,000 singing along at the top of their lungs. My camera battery died on me half way through the show, my back-up battery was MIA – but that was alright. There are a few songs I wish I’d been able to get on video, but not having to worry about the camera just let me get lost in the music that much more.

While my body wasn’t happy with the demands of standing for that long; my spirit felt truly alive for the first time in years, soaring with the music. In the midst of “Standing Outside The Fire”, it truly hit me how much life has changed over the last 17 years since I last saw him perform – and not for the better.

Back then – when I was constantly going to concerts – that song fit me fairly well. For me, it was “not enough just to stand outside the fire”. I was full of passion and life and energy. If I had a chance to travel halfway across the country for a concert on a whim – I took it. I remember more than once getting up at 4am to drive back to Dallas and go straight to work after a concert, or even earlier to catch a flight back home before going to the office. There were times I would work all day, hit the road for a show as soon as work was over, then get home at 5:30am, and sleep for about 45 minutes before I had to get up and go right back to work. I might have been tired those days – but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Then life got in the way. More accurately, one of the most screwed up relationships I’ve ever had messed me up beyond belief. It’s easiest to just refer to them as “the ex”, as attempting to explain the convoluted relationship is extremely difficult. Basically, though, it boils down to mental and emotional abuse, effectively breaking my spirit. When I discovered the lies and betrayal and that whole… disaster of a relationship imploded, it left me untrusting, scared, and paranoid. It threw my depression into overdrive, and also amplified my Avoidant Personality Disorder. It’s been … roughly 12 years since I got out of that situation and people still scare me. I am always second guessing people’s motives, retreating deeper into my shell if they seem to show too much interest in me. Social situations are a nightmare to me, leaving me uncomfortable and making me want to bolt.

Back to the Garth show – I got close to tears at one point during “Standing Outside The Fire”. Reflecting on what was then and where I am now made me miss the past. I might have been burned, but now I want to be healed, to dance in the flames again. I want that life back. I want to feel that fire. I want to take chances. I want to live.

“There is this love that is burning deep in my soul
Constantly yearning to get out of control
Wanting to fly, higher and higher
I can’t abide, standing outside the fire

Standing outside the fire
Standing outside the fire
Life is not tried; it is merely survived
If you’re standing outside the fire”

Oh what can it mean to a daydream believer…

Back when I was a kid, MTV used to air The Monkees, and my brother and I absolutely loved the show. I always had the HUGEST crush on Davy – he was just too fricken adorable for words.

Then, in 1986 (I forget the exact date), mom & dad took my brother and I to our very first concert: The Monkees. I believe it was their first reunion tour, and the concert was after a Texas Rangers game, back at the (long-since demolished) Arlington Stadium. The Grass Roots, Gary Puckett & The Union Gap, and Herman’s Hermits opened for them. That was an absolutely amazing show, and got me hooked on concerts – I’ve since attended well over 300 concerts.

July 4, 1996 was my second Monkees concert, at Six Flags over Texas, with Tara Hammond. We had third row seats on the side, but the way the rows angled, it was pretty much front row. During one song, we were dancing, and Davy spotted us, pointed, and then started imitating us. That’s one of those moments that will forever be in my memory.

RIP Davy. You are missed.

Smile a little more than I used to and I like it that way

I’ve been bad at posting for quite a while now. So, this might end up being kind of long.

First, though, some randomness. You’re apparently supposed to be able to have LJ post a mini news story on your Facebook when you post a public entry. I turned that on before my last post, but… it didn’t work? I never got the “toast” they mentioned to ask if I wanted to cross-post. And. I’m not exactly sure how they know what your facebook is, since they don’t ask for info. I’m guessing it must be tied into your email address? I dunno. Oh well.

I went on vacation in August for my birthday. My best friend (Emily), and I went to Vancouver for a week, and we had a blast. We spent time on the mainland as well as on the island. I an desperate to go back again, there was so much we wanted to do but we ran out of time. I have pictures from the trip on my gallery.

Speaking of vacation, American Airlines is being evil and taunting me. I could get wonderful airfares to Toronto on Halloween weekend. That would be beyond wonderful since I’d get to visit Emily. But… yeah. I can’t. I can’t miss school (and I’d have to miss at least 1 day to get the cheap fare) and I really can’t afford it, thanks to the lack of a job. Ugh. Stupid evil teasing airline!!

Over the weekend, I saw New Kids on the Block in concert. OMG. That was an amazing show. I saw them perform 7 times as a teen (5 during the height of their fame, and 2 after Jon left the group). Seeing them on Sunday … wow. Laugh all you want, but they still can put on one helluva show. I would love to be able to see more shows on this tour, but alas… that previously mentioned pesky money issue prevents it. Oh well. At least I had a chance to go back in time and relive my youth for an evening, and have it turn out better than I could’ve hoped. 😀

School is going pretty well. I had a 4.0 for a very long time. I’m still getting all A’s, and -as of right this second- the lowest grade I’ve gotten in class thus far is a 90. But, that’s was on a quiz, and the average of all 3 quizzes for the module only counts for 30% of my grade. As long as I do well on the final on Friday… I should be able to keep my grade a high A. 😀 As I said, I have my final for module 2 on Friday. (We have “modules” instead of “classes”, but it’s the same thing.) We start Module 3 on Monday, and our final for that class is on November 24th. Then we have 1 last module, but that one is only 3 days long. So, I should graduate on December 3rd. 😀

Since I started school, I’ve been the best student in my class. (I don’t say that to brag – it’s actually leading somewhere.) The first module we had was Computer Basics — which covered Excel and Word. It’s a required prerequisite, and is supposed to help provide a basic knowledge of the two programs since they are so widely used. Well — I’ve been using both programs for years, so I knew about 99% of the material before we started. That meant, of course, that I moved through the material pretty quickly, as opposed to most of my classmates who were just marginally familiar with the programs. So, while James (my teacher) might be helping one of the other students with something, I was able to help out another one. That, of course, set a pattern for the rest of the classes. Thanks to my AR background at CompUSA, I pick up on most of the material pretty quickly. (I’m the only one in my class who isn’t changing fields, I’m just trying to get a “proper” education in accounting, as opposed to the minimal on-the-job training I’d had.) So, since I “get it” quickly, my classmates frequently turn to me for help when they’re struggling with something.

Out of my 5 original classmates (we started out with 5 people, but 2 finished at the end of August), I’ve had 4 of them tell me I should be teaching. On Monday, my teacher even asked if I’ve ever thought about teaching. The classmates who’ve said that to me have all said that I have an ability to explain the material in such a way that it finally triggers that light-bulb moment for them. And I do not mean that in a way that implies James is a bad teacher — he is an excellent teacher and we all enjoy him. But sometimes when you’re struggling with something, it’s hearing it phrased a new way or by a different person that helps it click. There have been times that Debra & Sylvia have been able to help me with something I’m struggling with in the same way, too. I really don’t think I’m teacher material, but it’s flattering that they think so, and that they turn to me for help.

Quick aside before I go further with teaching-related talk — one thing I’ve learned in class is that I do know Excel very well. There were even times that I was able to share something with our teacher that he didn’t know about Excel. So, I’ve decided that I’m going to attempt to get my Specialist Certification in Excel. I’m hoping to take an online course at the community college at the beginning of next year to pick up the stuff I don’t know on Excel that I’ll need to get my certification. The best part – the course also includes an attempt at the certification exam. So I’ll get a couple of credits, some more Excel knowledge, AND my certification all in one shot! Yay! 😀

Okay. But enough about Excel. Back to the talk of teaching. Time to get introspective, so that calls for a cut-tag