An Open Letter From My Introverted Self To The World At Large

Good day my friend,

 

If you are reading this, you most likely know me in some way. I appreciate your company and continued existence in my life and to those around you. I’m sure you’re a great person in your own right, as is everyone else, but there is something I have to tell you that had always bugged me.

You see, you keep disturbing me. And it’s not during the times that I am in front of my computer working, on my car working or doing something that I would deem as the activities of a productive member of society. Rather, you disturb me during the rare moments of peace that I want to enjoy.

I know you see me with a smile quite a lot of the time, and that we’re chummy and chatty while we’re at it. I know you see me a loud and cheerful, bursting with life and ideas.

But you see, I also need peace and space.

There are times that I feel like I should not be disturbed, that I should be left alone with my thoughts and my music. I know you see me constantly with my headphones, and I am certain you realize that most of the time, I distance myself from large groups whenever those things are on my ears. It’s not that I dislike you, but at least for those moments, I feel like I do not need to share my mind with you.

Before you paint me as a prude and a snob, I would like you to know that I am not. As I mentioned previously and I will always say this, I appreciate your company and you being a part of the world I move around in. I would love to listen to you and your stories, but only at certain times of my choosing. And it’s not because I only find it convenient during those times, but it’s because I want some moments of peace for myself. You see, I need it to recover from the constant pressures of life or the demands of whatever it is I am working on at any given moment. I am deathly afraid of not being able to pay close attention to your stories, or reciprocate your enthusiasm for oral communication and I am equally afraid that I would turn you away if I am not able to respond to you properly.

I greatly respect you, and again I appreciate whatever it is you have to share. But whenever I feel that I want to be left alone, I would appreciate it if I you would allow me to be so. It won’t make that great of a difference if we don’t talk together all the time, but it will make a big difference to me if I lose touch with the inner sense of peace I crave every once in a while.

If you see me with my headphones on, please don’t intrude into my voyage into silence. If you see me looking out in the distance, I would love it if you would not launch into your stories without making sure I am ready to listen and return your appreciation for that moment. If you see me with a book, looking through my phone, writing, playing on my guitar or any sort of activity that I am concentrated on, please do not inundate me with how your day is going. We can always talk at a later time when I am ready to interact and it just happened to be that at the moment you see me, I am not in any sort of mood to interact with the world around me.

Let me be alone with my thoughts, even for a few fleeting moments. The world already has us at its whims, at least allow me to get lost with the flow. I’ll definitely come out of it, but also at the time of my choosing.

 

Please my friend, leave me alone. I need it as badly as our innate need to breathe.

 

Your friend and mine,
Jo

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A Much Needed Breather…

Just over the past week, we made yet another trip to my wife’s home in San Antonio, Zambales. We have a bunch of reasons on why we wanted to make the trip – for one, our kid turned two the past month and we thought it was a good reason to see the grandparents. Another is that we just seriously need a vacation – the initial plan was to see the Montales folk every quarter or so, but seeing as how I was very busy the past few months, I could not make the time.

In any event, we pushed through this time around and we got to enjoy a few days of being almost off the grid – almost because in as much as there is no cable tv and the place is far removed from Imperial Manila, they have a much faster internet connection there.

We left Thursday morning at Jojo’s Hour (0300) because it was going to be Aska’s coding day and that would’ve killed off almost a day worth of peace and quiet if I stayed in Manila. I really love traveling during those wee hours of the morning, and while it is dark and fairly “dangerous” with many drivers becoming sleepy at the wheel, drunk or both, I see the lessened vehicle volume to be all the advantage I could ever need. Driving at night also seems to lend well to me seeing as how I stay awake on most nights due to work.

This time around, we were traveling with my sister-in-law and she elected to sit out back beside our kid, while my wife rode shotgun. That was the plan – in practice, all three are peacefully asleep, leaving me and Aska mentally alone to enjoy the peace and serenity of the open road.

For some odd reason though, I chose to pass through San Fernando, Pampanga going to Zambales. Our normal route always made use of the SCTEX, but I thought that it would be early morning anyways and I wanted to shave off an estimated 30 kilometers off the trip distance and save some gas whilst maintaining my average speed.

Or so I thought.

The roads from San Fernando going to Dinalupihan are at times so bad that even the WRC will never have their cars pass through there. Some parts have been dug up and some are in the process of being dug up. Some of the more “exciting” parts had asphalt still remaining but had big patches missing from the road. I thought it would be a cool idea to keep the speed high and avoid the holes as much as I could. The yellow foglamps certainly helped picked out the bad parts from a distance, but on the most, I lost precious trip time going to Dinalupihan. From there, I took the SCTEX again because I was thinking that I would lose even more time going through the Olongapo – Bugallon Road.

SBMA is of course a breeze, but the roads outside of Olongapo and into Subic itself presented yet another challenge. A long stretch of road was being dug up and left only one lane of traffic on each side to traverse the muddy and bumpy way for a good kilometer or so. Past that point, it was smooth sailing going to San Antonio.

I didn’t get to do very much while at the house, and that was exactly the point! I was able to sleep at will, eat, and just laze around the place. Of course, I did take some photos, occasionally went online to check on things and continue my progress on Real Racing 3.

When evening fell on the quiet town, I stumbled upon a food stand that sold fairly passable Shawarma. It was good enough for me to keep coming back almost every evening and it gave me an opportunity to marvel at the fact that the town was so sleepy that past seven pm on any given night, the main plaza is almost devoid of people. I really like that kind of feel that you can walk outside, bump into almost no one and yet feel safe.

I also made good on a self made promise to get Aska some new clip on mirrors. The mirrors on her were already shaking pretty bad and close to just giving out on me. I had a spare set that I got from a friend of mine, but I’m keeping those as mementos since that friend is already deceased. The auto supply store, Rex’s, lies the next town over and that particular errand gave me time to drive out and relax some more while behind the wheel. Surprisingly, the mirrors were sold to me for about half the price since I last inquired about them back in March. Even then, the mirrors were still cheaper than can be had in Imperial Manila. It doesn’t help that many sellers have jacked up prices to almost ridiculous levels, saying that they’re the only ones selling the stuff and therefore giving them an unassailable excuse to mark up.

I plan on coming back to get more parts that I want, and check other places that may have other pieces of interest. I’d since put the mirrors on because I couldn’t wait to get back to Manila to do the job. One of the mirror base plates though was not angled correctly, but there was nothing some hammering could not fix. I’m glad to report that the mirrors are now very stable and do not shake with the wind while traveling at speed.

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The cool evening breeze also allowed me to indulge with a flask of Johnny Walker Black, which as a friend of mine once told me, is noob level shit. But it’s my kind of shit and with some dark chocolate, it really is my shit. I was planning to get some pork to cook up a steak but laziness got the better of me. I also shared this relatively newfound thing with my sister-in-law, who thought it was weird but ok. I guess that’s really how it goes, and is an acquired taste given the Filipino context of drinking. I capped off each night with whiskey and listening to some jazz fusion.

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I “rediscovered” this gem while on vacation. I first heard of this album as a young kid back in the last 90’s from my friend’s step-dad, who many years later would be my godfather in marriage. Great guy and I actually thought of him while I eased

Of course, I took the opportunity to hone my motorcycle skills by riding around some. I was supposed to get radiator coolant and went through a couple of stores within the towns closest to where we were. Not surprisingly, no one sold coolant there because everyone thought water by itself is great. Many people there and elsewhere in the Philippines don’t believe in using radiator coolant – maybe I can cover that on a future entry. I also had a funny run-in with some lawmen manning a checkpoint but they let me off easy after they found out I was too much of a klutz with a bike to do anything dangerous with it.

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One thing I really regret on this trip was the fact that I left my D40 at home. See, this time around, I thought I’d travel light and wanted to depend on my Xperia XA1 Plus to do all the image capturing. It did its job really well, except it could not handle one thing – the night sky. On the third night, the sky cleared up so much that I saw the band of the Milky Way. No shit, I am not and cannot make it up. Of course, to the naked eye, it appears like nothing in photos you’d see. I very easily could’ve taken such images had I the camera with me. Next time, I won’t be so lazy as to actually leave a good camera behind. I marveled at the night sky as much as I could, or as I figured, until my neck hurt.

The drive home was fairly uneventful and with a heavy heart, we had to leave early Sunday morning. This time, I went through my normal route through SCTEX. Never mind the fact that it took an extra 30 kilometers to get home, but all of it was spent at speed so it wasn’t like I was losing time anyway. We are now stopping twice along NLEX because the kid has to eat, and we thought getting out to stretch would be nice. Previously, I had my wife and kid sleep and not stop because I wanted to spend as less time on the road as possible.

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No overheating problems, but I routinely pop the hood open during stops to help cool down the fluids faster. The only bad thing about this was people saw how filthy my engine bay was err still is.

In all, Aska performed admirably during the trip. I didn’t spend much time beyond the speed limit though because the front wheel bearings now seem to need replacing. Since I replaced the bearings in the back, there was much less noise back there and I could now hear the whine of the front bearings. I knew I should’ve taken care of those previously, but I guess I’ll just do them sometime on at home since those don’t need special tools to take out and install.

 

Until the next trip then!

 

 

 

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On Borrowing Music Gear

About two weeks ago, I loaned out Sara (my PG-20CE) to a friend of mine for a gig he had coming up. A good part of my evening was spent re-oiling the fretboard because it’s still super dry, re-positioning the nut, cleaning up the strings, tuning it back up, making sure it has a fresh 9V to power the Isys+ pickup and wiped the hardcase clean.

I like working maintenance on my guitars and if I could, I would do it more frequently. While I find it relaxing and in a sense therapeutic, that only goes as far as preparing the guitar. In most cases, I am quite averse having to loan out or have people borrow my gear.

 

Tonight, I want to talk about this and what I think should be good etiquette when it comes to gear.

 

Nowadays, there’s a lot of people who’re into borrowing gear. Be it for a gig, for practice – almost every imaginable reason that you can think of, it had been laid down in the name of borrowing gear. While this isn’t exactly a bad thing every time, there are times that it gets too annoying to hear. The guy who borrowed my acoustic tonight had been constantly borrowing it for his gigs. Now of course, he’s a good friend, an even better guitar player and since he is more pro than me (in the sense that he’s paid to do this and I’m not) I’d always felt that I should lend a hand whenever I am able. But this becomes too cumbersome at times, both for him and for myself.

I think this is now fairly common with musicians as far as borrowing goes. Sometimes, our gear breaks down in the middle of a gig and we’re forced to borrow from someone. That happens to everyone, although thankfully it hasn’t happened to me – yet. In the few times that technical difficulties arise, I am fortunate enough to have my wits with my friends and cooperative techs helping me while I am onstage. It’s not like I can get off the stage mid song just because I have to fix something.

No, sir.

Of course I dread the day that a piece of my gear (like a pedal or more horrifyingly, my power supply) gets busted mid set that I have to borrow from someone. Although I have done my fair share of borrowing – I think I’d gone on a gig that I’d left a cable and had to ask a favor from someone to borrow theirs. During my younger years, I borrowed stuff like effects pedals and other things. One thing I never really borrow is the actual instrument, although I have gone that route as well.

 

But friends, this shouldn’t always be so. While I believe that many people are kind and generous, and should always be so towards others, I also believe we have to put some of the work in as well. In my part, I should’ve been more responsible in checking my gear and making sure everything is packed in the car before I even left the house. However, it had become a fairly pervasive attitude to just depend on others to borrow stuff.

 

I’d gone on numerous gigs wherein band members (mostly the ones we do not know personally) would show up at a venue and then someone – usually a bassist or a guitarist, would come up to random people to borrow cables, effects, straps and in some cases, the guitar itself. These bands are usually kids, I think in highschool (when highschool was actually a thing here) or college or something. Fairly understandable given that instruments can’t quite be had on a fixed allowance. However…

 

I think this is unacceptable as a long term habit.

 

How the hell can one be a musician, be in a band, playing gigs and not have their own gear? I just don’t understand it.

 

I place part of the blame with local rehearsal studios that loan out various pieces of gear for those who do not have their own. It’s a good business model in a sense so that anyone who wants to walk in can tinker and play some, albeit with mostly crappy rental gear. I think these kids (they mostly are, and I’ll cover that in a bit) simply came together to learn a few songs while not having their own stuff, secure in the knowledge that the rehearsal space will lend them the gear they need. They are following Dave Grohl’s famous advice to go out and play and suck and all that.

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Thanks Dave! For telling us that it’s ok to suck.

They go to find gigs and sign up without a single piece of gear on them (thankfully, the good lot are able to at least shell out a pick) and go “bahala na” (come what may) and borrow from random strangers. Usually, these kids would hound you after a set going “good job!” or “nice set!” and then lay out their predicament (this is getting scarce nowadays since etiquette had become a rarity) and borrow. Some are courteous even if turned away, yet some have the gall of getting mad if not allowed with their request.

 

But children, listen to me – how can you be a musician without an instrument? Effects, I can kind of understand because they’re expensive. Cables and straps, sure you could be careless enough to leave them at home. But a goddamn guitar? A goddamn set of cymbals or even frickin sticks?

 

Get real.

 

You can never be a musician without your own instrument. Of course you can learn by borrowing an instrument, which is a very common practice among those starting out. As time goes on though, it is but natural that one acquires his / her own gear to work with and improve on. There’s simply no going around it since technical and mechanical skill in music requires a lot of time invested in terms of learning and actual practice.

You could have the requisite skills, you could have the chops to outshred everyone. But if you don’t have your own guitar to shred with, you may as well be playing air guitar solos while the crown looks on.

 

So children, invest in your gear. If you don’t have your own gear, don’t go out getting gigs. You don’t have a place in that venue, and as a performer if you don’t have anything to perform with and you’d best be in your bedroom not getting in the way of anyone. People may say that this sounds all harsh and hard but it’s the damn truth.

 

On a more personal note, I very rarely borrow stuff. When I was younger and had no income, yeah I was into borrowing but only to try things out. I remember clearly the times that I borrowed a good friend’s Korg AX1500G (when it was still new so you guess when this was) just so I can experience it, and record a song with it. I only borrowed it for a night and after I was done with it, I made sure to clean it up and brought it right back to the guy. It just happened to be the case that that friend of mine is sort of well to do and his folks give him the stuff he needs. Sure, not everyone (myself included) is not that lucky. However, I was lucky enough in the sense that my old man owned an electric guitar and bass that I was able to learn with. After some years of working with his stuff, I was finally able to get my own stuff with my own money and the rest is history.

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If you’re borrowing stuff, take good care of it and make sure to return it promptly. One of the reasons I do not readily allow people to borrow my gear (unless I very personally know them) is because I’m afraid my gear will come back and either be damaged or have some issues that were not present when I loaned it out. See, I’m very particular in that manner – I like my gear to be in tiptop shape and be in as good a condition, aesthetically, as possible. I mean yeah, I get the rage with relic stuff and I’m currently having my Kramer Striker go that route, but for most other pieces of gear, I want them spic and span.

The other reason I don’t like having people borrow my stuff is that as a musician, I feel like my instrument is a very personal piece of property. Not a lot of people think it to be so, especially for the casual musicians. But for those who’re more seriously into it, instruments are almost like family.

 

Keep all this in mind the next time you want to borrow an instrument or a piece of gear from someone.

 

 

 

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A Word From The Author…Make That A Few Words…

I’d been checking my stats these past few days and I found that while I have been fairly silent here, views are quite booming along.

For some odd reason though, I’m getting a bunch of hits from the Philippines, which while I don’t mind, is not something I am used to seeing. Actually, this had been the trend for quite a while now and I have no idea who takes the time to visit this godforsaken corner of the internet.

In case some of you regular readers are wondering why I am not very active nowadays, it’s a mix of many things. My kid is growing up fast and most of my waking hours are spent chasing his ass around the house. I spend maybe two to three hours asleep either in the mornings or afternoon and it kinda takes away from my creative juices.

I’d been dealing with a few things and I’m still in the middle of either trying to find solutions to a bunch of life issues and questions, or just sitting back and letting time do its thing. I’ve 37 drafts that I’ve started and stopped on because I keep getting distracted from finishing them. It’s like I have so many things I want to write about in one moment then run out of juice in the next moment.

If any of you would be interested to know, I am now more active on IG than FB. I’ve been fairly successful at avoiding the dolts that are on my FB feed and I am on my way to weening myself off it. Follow me there my dear readers!

In any event, thank you anonymous viewers and readers .

 

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