Feel Every Yard (BIG Announcement!)

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Before I get to the post today, I promised you a couple things from Wednesday. Sorry if it was a tad bit misleading, I wasn’t about to shout out some cool stuff if I wasn’t sure it was happening, but here we are.

So, first of all, I’ve been releasing a few shirts over on Teespring for Random Acts Creations. Year One through Year Four shirts/hoodies/v-necks are available now + I don’t plan on pulling the stock ever. I’m working behind the scenes to release a spring line towards the middle of April this year. It will be full of rad stuff like hoodies, T-shirts, and phone cases. (There is more but Imma keep some of it a secret!)

Second, I’ll be releasing a compilation of poetry from the blog itself (edited and updated, I promise.) Some of em were pretty rough around the edges but They’re shaping up nicely + you’ll be hearing more about them towards the third quarter of the year.

Third, I’ll be putting out another blog compilation this November, Year Five is going to come with a lil bonus though, I don’t want to give you too much about it, but I’ll tell ya you might want to keep some space available on your wall. 😉

All of that being said, if you’ve made it this far, you can check out my website, freshly updated and looking super fly to see my release schedule every single month. I’ll have days scheduled for blogs, poetry, YouTube videos + anything else I’m doing. Don’t think I’ve been forgetting about some of the older stuff you all loved. Over on the S+I Facebook page i’ll be bringing more happiness and inspiration than ever before. Snapchat will be live with some new tutorials just for kicks and I have SO much more. 2018 is just getting started and your favorite hippy is swinging harder than ever.

Best believe that.

It’s funny how they say time is money when we are so reluctant to spend time but we will freely throw away our time. Before I get into this week, I hope that you spend much more time this week than you do money, it is so much more valuable and so much more appreciated.

Last week I was having a conversation getting to know a new coworker and discovering their interests when they told me something I have said to others. We were talking about his passions and his dreams and he told me that he wanted to travel, he was going to set up a motorhome and just drive around the country in the next three years. That his dream was to see every state in the US and then he continued by saying something I have said countless times before.

“I know it seems stupid…”

Right before he launched into the description of his dream since he was a child, he wanted to touch every piece of dirt in the USA and he looked away from me in shame as he told me that.

It rang a bell inside of me that has been softly ringing since the day I picked up a pen.

I remember when I was that kid, unsure of my future with lofty goals and dreams, this grand desire to be all that I am working to become, an author, a YouTuber, a poet, a musician, a business owner, a chef, a friend and a blogger among so many other things. I remember being in that exact same place, telling others that my dreams sound stupid.

That was before I found The Buried Life, I’ve written about the show before + in case you’re new around here and have been hiding under a rock, they set out with this idea to cross off items from a collective bucket list and along the way help others cross one item off of theirs. The show + corresponding book inspired me so much that I decided to do the same.

It’s funny how these things that cross over into my head overlap so often. It is a still small reminder that my purpose is clearly defined and I cannot stop building for it, fighting for it and praying for guidance along the way.

I lost my job and began to panic about making money, how I could support myself still, how I could keep moving forward and what I could do to pay my bills, when I was provided for as if by magic I silently prayed a thanks and kept moving, without realizing that I had begun orienting my time beneath making money. The time I spent with friends decreased, the time I spent working increased and I began to trip up a lot, wondering if I was worth it or whatever.

Well that’s some shit if I’ve ever heard it.

Talking to my friend I was reminded of the madness that my life has become and how I enjoy every last second, every last wasted cent, every last smile and tight embrace between myself and those that I love.

This life is so much more than we always think it is. In the midst of darkness, for you or me, there is always light. You have your purpose and I hope that you consider it if you feel lost today. You have dreams and goals somewhere within you, you have a calling and there is no greater sin than wasting you valuable time.

Spend it instead, searching for the next step and moving forward. If you want to become an author, start writing. Streaming on Twitch? Download the app and go. There is no back tracking as long as you are aware that you are accomplishing goals and dreams with every new step you take. So don’t stop stepping.

Just get out there, climb in your motorhome and hit the road. We have a long list of items to work through, it is going to take a minute…

…and every minute will be worth it.

Thank you so much for reading.

The Knot That Breaks (Noose Ends)

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I usually save this post for the end of October, but as I woke up from a nap this afternoon I decided I needed to say it now.

Keep holding on friends, Life is not Meant to be Awful.

I was laying on my bed this afternoon napping lazily through my day, I woke up at 7, played guitar, sang songs, watched Friends, wrote poetry and spent time admiring all of the beauty that God placed into my life.

I realized in all of this that I haven’t actually published a blog post in weeks.

Oops.

There is a part of me that wishes I could come to you with some story like, “oh, I’ve been so stressed and out of it, but this is how I got over it.”

But that isn’t the case. I’m much happier to come here and say I’ve forgotten to post my blog posts this month because I have been so happy just living and being around and writing. Enjoying my time on the Earth while I still have it.

I started Noose Ends in the darkest place I think I’ve ever been in. The whole world was on the verge of swallowing me. Sure, I had just published Mean Shadows, I was working through poetry, starting YouTube, working on music, my job was great, my friends and I were great, my roommates were great and so much about that time was great but I refused to just shut up and watch the magic of my world unfold.

I basked in the darkness, I let it surround me. Reveling in heartbreak and the unsure moments I feasted on like oozing fruit in a brass bowl, I sunk my fingers into the darkness and told the world that biting through it would make the rest of the world light.

Stop me, if you’ve heard this before. I know I’ve said it.

Mod Sun recently has been working on some new music and I’ve kept an eye on it, being as I am and connecting my own life to music, Movie, his last project sat with me in a deep and heavily emotional way. I poured over lyrics and concepts he mentioned and glued it to my life (As I clearly have a problem doing with my musical inspirations.)

Still, he’s been previewing this new song and one of the lines is…

“Grow through what you go through.”

I thought it pretty ironic that it came up after this year. So much has changed, friends are moving, more of us are settling down, things are moving sometimes too fast to keep a handle on. We are building our lives and we are still going through all the mud and the dirt, we are swinging from the rafters hand over hand like a jungle gym.

I started this year in darkness, lost, hoping that I could be some kind of light to you and that I would reflect whatever I cast out so that it would shine back on to me. So much has changed. So much has gotten better.

I was sitting outside of my apartment the other night looking at the sky, there were these huge tunderheads above me and rain was threatening to pour from space and cover the city. Later that day, when it did, I was thinking about the people I’ve met and the people I have had the chance to grow with. I was with someone and I was talking about painting sunsets, cleaning up the rings in the ocean and more. All of these things my mom and I had talked about Heaven.

I think, what is most beautiful about this year is that I have struggled to find a place, I have struggled to fight off the demons in my heart and my head. I have struggled to get my feet back on the ground. I have struggled to stop myself from choking.

Yet, here I am. The noose I tied, made out of the people in the city, the feelings that were returned to me broken, the shortcomings of my own creativity and goals, rejection letters and denied applications, poems that failed, a world that seemed out to get me slowly faded away as the snow melted this year.

I spent the whole summer thinking about what I need to get better.

I just didn’t see that it was right in front of me.

If you are where I was, hell, where I am, I’m not out of the darkness yet. I doubt I ever will be, but damn, if you feel these things, take a nap, watch some friends, eat some peanut butter cups and think about this.

The sky at sunset.

The way the moon shines red behind smoke like a big ruby.

The way your friends and loved ones laugh.

The way you’re still here.

There is beauty in that.

There is beauty in all of this.

We just have to stop looking at all the rotten fruit and appreciate the beautiful bowl it is sitting in, then we can remind ourselves to pluck it out and replace it with the good.

It is never too late. I promise you that.

Keep swinging, keep struggling, and keep focusing on the end goal. It is coming. I promise you that.

I promise you that.

www.linmtba.com

Gemstones (Year Three – 2016.2.5)

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So, I’ve spoken about some of my mentors in the music scene before, specifically Mod Sun who has been one of the people I’ve looked up to for a few years because of the happy and positive lifestyle that he leads. Not long after publishing my blog post “Make a Mod Sun” I started to notice changes in his demeanor and his music, and I foolishly let it affect me. This, coupled with the realization that my journey isn’t over and that I am still actively struggling with a lot of things myself led to a pretty terrible state of mind.

I lived in this half in, half out sort of way for a few months. I was openly preaching about happiness and love and all the stuff I regularly preach about, and yet I wasn’t living my life in the same way. It was frustrating, and I felt as if I was letting myself down, and at the same time I was letting down everyone who I had lifted up over the course of my journey. That being said, the fastest way to solve a problem within yourself is to detect it.

I watched my actions as I would reflexively snap at people simply because I was angry or upset that day. I would grow near tantrum throwing like a child when things didn’t go my way, and I began to realize that I am a control freak. This realization, at first, negatively affected my everyday life. I saw that I was acting like a child, which frustrated me even more, so I continued acting like a child. Which frustrated me even more, so on and so forth.

I had gotten fed up with who I was turning into (or rather, regressing back to being) and decided that I had finally had enough. I was done taking a back seat while my attitude and my mood declined with each passing day. Every time I woke up it felt as if I was pushing back all of the hard work I have put forth to become the man that I want to be, regardless of the outside helps I’ve had. It was something that I had built. That I had done.

The power to make it or break it all rested on my shoulders.

This realization came heavily, as I sat down after a particularly bad day at work where I endured a lot of bad-mouthing from customers, and people whining over things I had no control over. I returned to my house after my shift had ended, confused because I had been used to that only a month or so prior. Where did that resilience go?

Well, the answer, I wasn’t looking at things in my life the same way anymore. I took to talking shit about people instead of praising their good qualities. I saw the bad, not the good. I stopped looking up for a while. I know I promised that I would move on from this topic a few posts ago, but I needed to touch on it once more.

The best way, I’ve found, to get out of a funk of anger and sadness is to purposefully do something good for someone else. Whether you want to or not. (Usually, you won’t want to. Especially if you’re being a grump.) So earlier this week when I was asked by a friend to come help her set up a catering because they were short-handed…

I said yes. Don’t misunderstand me. I really wanted to say no. I wanted to take the time today to sleep in and wake up in the afternoon with another 12 hour night under my belt. I wanted to stay away from anything I didn’t have to do.

That’s the problem.

So when she texted me, before I allowed myself time to think about it or to come up with excuses, I said yes. I would be there, of course I would. She is my friend. Friends support one another, and if I can’t support her, I shouldn’t boast about being her friend.

So here I am. It’s 8 something in the morning on the day of, and I feel so much better. Simply by offering to help someone else instead of wallow in self-pity and bad thoughts, I’ve managed to flip around my mentality once more. The greatest thing about people asking me how I got to the mentality that I did is that no one understands how simple it is.

I’ve learned a lot over this last year, and 2016 is going to the biggest year yet. So I want to keep sharing all of the things I’ve learned. I’ve been asked a lot, as if I’ve finished my journey or something, how I got to the positive state of mind I’ve found myself in. I’ve gotten messages from people I love telling me that I’ve inspired them and that I’ve helped them through dark times.

It honors me every time I receive them, because I never expected my words to be capable of doing so. I always wanted them to, but for years I was certain that I would have no impact…

Until I decided to assure my impact. I decided that it was time to assure a positive one.

When life starts weighing me down (because I certainly am not finished walking this long road) I look back to the posts that helped other people going, I look back and read them as if I wasn’t the one who wrote them. When I’ve been feeling sad, I look to my other friends making art and jokes and laughing and smiling and it gives me the energy to keep going.

I’ve said it before, this blog was started so that I could remind myself why life is an incredible adventure that I am meant to enjoy, but when I look back on all these little gemstones. Reading messages of inspiration from people I love and talking to them about all the delicate intricacies of life… They inspire me. They remind me that, even though I started this business for myself it has grown to be so much more important than that.

I don’t do this for me anymore. I do this for all of us.

That, is a great reason to keep going. Thank you for your inspiration in good times. Thank you for your support in bad times. I hope that you can look back on these posts as gemstones too, to be reminded that no matter how deep we are in it…

Life isn’t meant to be awful.

If you liked this blog post + would like to learn how to fight dragons, you can check out the Year Three compilation on my website or over on Amazon!

I’ve also started a Ko-fi account, if you would like to pick your polar bear boy up a cuppa joe I would be honored. Thank you for continuing to follow me. (even when I forget to upload videos for like six days.)

Living Suite

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I like music, do you?

Holy shit, The Darling Bones has been out for almost two full months now, you can pick it up on Amazon or at my website, the links are at the bottom of the page! 🙂

I’ve been a musician for almost as long as I’ve been an author. My passion for melody and verse is only conquered by my love of words. When I create new writings they are always, always accompanied by some kind of music. Spotify has become a staple in my life, as I use it to build writing playlists for every piece I create. The Darling Bones, Gold Rush and Coward all have one. As well as my current WIP Inkworks. (Check out the links if you want to see what inspired the writings.)

One of my favorite musical concepts is the suite. A suite is simply a group of short songs that are meant to play in succession. One after another, one of my favorites that has come out recently is on California based rapper Watsky’s latest album x Infinity, its called The Lovely Thing Suite. It details so many beautiful concepts and ideas with his signature wit and lyricism and every listen I consider my own life a bit more. The thing is, the suite isn’t one whole song. It also isn’t a group of separate songs. It is a whole piece that is separate and distinct but meant to come together and form one idea or concept or evoke a feeling as a unit.

I think our lives are like that, obviously, we can’t see into the future but you can see that wherever you are right now you might be feeling the lows. The blue and melancholy of a loss of life, I know a few people who are struggling with that now. Maybe you are feeling the green envy of someone else’s love life or relationship. I know some of those too. Maybe you’re bright red and angry. Maybe you’re purple and in love, yellow and happy. You’re feeling all of these things in this moment and it’s impossible for us to see ahead. We don’t get to skip tracks in our life, as much as it can be desired some days. We must listen to each piece through and through.

That comes with the highs, the beautiful crescendo of falling in love. The nails against a chalkboard sound that we hear when a friendship ends. The raging cacophony of drum blasts when we lose a job, or are forced to relocate. The nearly silent whisper of loneliness. Each of these things will play in our album and we have no way of knowing what is next. Today, I’m feeling heavy drums and bass as I bounce my head on the way to work. My job is good, my friends are good, my family is good, my God is good and I am happy today. Perhaps in two weeks something will happen, my track will end and I will move on to the next motion of the piece but that is such a joy to me. No matter how dark my future is, or yours is, we are still here singing with one another.

We are still here tying our nooses only to slip them around us and slice the threads.

Today, remember that not everyone will make it out of theirs. Some of us feel those beats and beatings more than others. Some of us don’t know how to dim the music, they don’t know when the song will end and that scares them.

It isn’t romantic, no. It breaks my heart.

For every morose melody you’ve heard this year, think of all the bright ones. The songs that played when you were out with your girlfriend or boyfriend. Or the songs that played when you took pride home with your paycheck. Think of the way the stars danced while you sat out with your friends smoking and drinking and listening to the music your lives create, one suite meeting another and creating a harmony that spilled new tunes into the milky sky.

Your song isn’t over yet, don’t let it end prematurely. Keep listening. Keep hearing the lyrics. Keep fighting for the next few minutes. Songs are much shorter than our lives will be, Our lives are much longer than the ropes that we can tie ourselves.

Don’t give up.

Keep singing.

The Darling Bones (Salt and Iron Productions)

The Darling Bones (Amazon)

One Among the Fence

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I’ve written about musicians and artists that have inspired me and pushed me to create in the past, Mod Sun, Watsky, G-Eazy before he was a total knob, He is Legend + a handful of others but none of them stand out or have been more influential than Coheed & Cambria. They have propelled my creativity since I first found them back in the early 2000’s. I remember the day clearly. Back in 2003 I was ambling around my house cleaning or playing video games or something and I had a playlist running on YouTube, where I heard this crazy band that was doing shit I couldn’t comprehend musically. Their guitars felt out of sync with the vocals and it was all so technical and intricate. I fell in love immediately. They had fed me something that I would crave for the rest of my life.

Only problem was, shortly after this in a turn of events you’d think I would write into a novel, our computer powered down and I panicked because I thought it was my fault. When I finally got it up and running again I couldn’t remember the name of the band, or the song that was playing. I could only remember portions of the lyrics and a chanting sequence at the end of the song that was stuck in my head for months, I don’t actually think it ever left..

“Man your battlestations. We’ll have you dead pretty soon.”

I googled them over and over for the next couple of years, trying desperately to find the band again. It wasn’t until one year, 2005 I believe, that I found them once more and all of my dreams had come about. That first taste of Coheed had actually made me the music encyclopedia that I am today, because I ripped through hundreds of thousands of songs in an attempt to find them but was just never quite in the right place. Still, I found a ton of bands along the way that I still love to this day.

Then my parents gave me a PSP one year, it came with a couple demo games and a multimedia disk with music videos and clips from television shows on it. There was something by Nelly, a song that had Beyoncé in it, a damn good Nickelback jam and “Blood Red Summer” by Coheed and Cambria. I listened through the videos until I got to them and thought to myself.

“Damn, that is a cool name for a band.”

As soon as it started playing I was suddenly two years in the past jamming out to the song on my computer again. It had the same vibe as before, the same feelings and the vocalist was so unique he couldn’t be mistaken for someone else. I scrambled to tell my mom and dad and they just nodded at me. They might have understood my love of music and my passion, but they didn’t understand what Coheed & Cambria was doing to me. I didn’t even understand the feeling myself. I listened to that song on repeat until I drained the battery in my PSP.

It was a few months later that we were wandering around in Salt Lake City that we stopped into a Best Buy, I was thumbing around the albums and found the first piece of their music I had ever purchased. “In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3” I ran up to my mom begging her to get it for me. Pleading with her, promising any manner of chores or work or repayment so that she would gift me the album. She agreed and there it was. I watched the clerk pick it up from my hands and he looked at me.

“Coheed and Cambria? I’ve never heard of them.”

I looked up at him and nodded, opening my mouth to speak, to enlighten him.

“They are everything. They are the best band in the world. Their music hits me in a way I can’t explain to anyone. They will change your life.”

But I didn’t say anything. No one yet had understood what that band had meant to me. Why would this random college kid care? He was just trying to make a paycheck.

So I walked out with my parents, my fingers twitching, begging to wrap themselves around the case and dig open the plastic. To feel the CD and read the lyric booklet.

Once we got on the road home I finally had the chance to do just that. I jammed the CD into my Walkman and closed my eyes listening to it on the drive home.

It was… incredible.

I was taken to a world I couldn’t describe as I listened. Within my mind stories and dreams were playing out because of the lyrics, all set to the sounds of the band. It was one of the times in my life I recognized immediately as pure, unbridled joy. I could not have been happier. Their music felt like coming home after a long day, before I even knew what leaving home in the first place would be like.

Years passed and I picked up all of their albums as they released. By the time I graduated high school I had all of their albums and memorized the lyrics to every one up to date, and had still never gone to one of their concerts despite how much I loved the band.

“Good Apollo I’m Burning Star IV Volume One, From Fear Through The Eyes of Madness” Was a gift from my parents one year for Christmas.

“Good Apollo I’m Burning Star IV Volume Two, No World For Tomorrow” was given to me by a friend’s girlfriend for Christmas.

“Year of the Black Rainbow” I had pre-ordered and waited for expectantly. When the album started with “One” I shivered. I can still feel the way my spine tingled in anticipation. When Claudio started singing “The Broken” I teared up.

“Second Stage Turbine Blade” was the final one I purchased, shortly after YotBR came out. Which was their first album. I had been a fan for so long and didn’t listen to their roots, not to mention Shabutie (save for the accent over the u cause lazy.) Which was a trip in and of itself.

I continued this way, listening to Coheed became one of my favorite things to do. I played through “The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess” to the tune of “No World For Tomorrow” and when I see either of them today, I think about the other and those memories of that winter in high school. Coheed & Cambria does something magical to me, I still can barely describe it. Their music inspires me in a way that no other can. It pushes my mind and gets me thinking. It is somehow horrifying, awe inspiring and hopeful all at the same time. A decade after I first heard them, they released the second part of their dual album “The Afterman” titled “Descension” which was the mood music for much of my first edition of The Darling Bones.

Coheed and Cambria had crafted so much of the way my creative mind thinks. They have been my number one inspiration for fourteen years now. I have a profound love for that band and those men that I cannot articulate to you in the way I feel that I need to. It is a strange love too, apparently, as all through my life I have met exactly one person out of the hundreds I know who can understand and appreciate Coheed on the same level that I do. (Not trying to gatekeep here, I’m just saying that I sort of live and die by this band and if you don’t that’s cool but they’re better than whatever lame shit you listen to.) (Just kidding. I hope you know that.)

So there I was, in January or something of 2017 + I was checking my email out of desperation because I was tired of having a notification for 2,437 emails on my phone and I came across a Coheed fan message announcing their Neverender tour for GAIBSIV Vol. One.

I promptly shit my pants.

Then, before cleaning that up I ordered tickets.

There was no way I was going to miss this show. It was my favorite band who I had never gotten to see because of dumb shit. No matter the scenario, I told myself, I WILL go see Coheed in 2017. Especially that tour in specific. I was so bitter about missing the Neverender for IKSSE:3 because I was sick that I promised nothing would stop me. If I broke both my legs on the way, I was still going to go and I was just going to grind the joints to dust in the crowd because that band helped shape me in so many ways.

Luckily, I did not break my legs and I did go see Coheed live for the first time since I found them so many years ago.

A lot of fans of artists like to give the “I’ve seen them XX times, if you haven’t you aren’t a real fan” talk, and that’s never been how I felt about music, but when it comes to Coheed, after seeing their show this year, I promise if it is within a day’s drive I will never miss another show of theirs again.

I cried. I actually cried.

I had been listening to them and following and supporting them for so long that Coheed had become as much a part of me as any of my personal inspirations.

I had come to the realization as they played their encore that the title track from “In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3” was the song I had heard over a decade ago that I searched frantically for. Something about the show and how they ended their set clicked with me and I was ripped back to 2003, sitting in my living room with my jaw hanging open just listening to the computer play this crazy amazing band that inspired me so much.

Years later, in The Complex in SLC I looked at the people around me and saw that in some small way, many of them likely felt the same way that I did. Maybe not.

But either way, I screamed even louder than before.

I screamed along with them until I was sure that Heaven’s Fence could feel the vibrations.

I hope that one day, I can create something like what Coheed has, where people like myself are willing to dedicate their lives in support of it.

Coheed is the greatest band in the world, to me. But when it’s my world, that’s fine.

I am happy to be one among the fence.

Thank you, Coheed & Cambria. Your music and story inspired me to do so many things and here I am, doing them today. I blame you for that. I would not be writing if it weren’t for your influence. I wouldn’t have learned music. My life would not be the same today if not for you.

The Laughing Children

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I was planning on doing this blog post like the rest of them from this month, as a median between storytelling and talking to you all but as I sat down to write it I changed my mind, see I just read back through a few of my previous blog posts from the first two years of GME and I’m feeling reminiscent.

I entered into this world with a wide eyed glassy sensibility and I would easily crumble at the slightest stress that was placed upon me. I grew bitter and frustrated as the years passed and I seemed to only grow increasingly lost and confused. I didn’t know my place, I didn’t know my purpose and I sure as shit didn’t know what would happen next.

I expressed that through my writing and was made fun of a great deal in high school for being a poet. I wrote this one poem when I was a Sophomore about Christianity and the crucifixion and how it related to me. In the poem I spoke about Christ as a friend to me. It didn’t take long for this kid who sat behind me to snag the notebook and read it aloud, asking me how I felt about my “friend Jesus” and I hung my head, ignoring him and the mass laughter that came from the other kids in the class that though poetry was silly.

I was so embarrassed and ashamed that I stopped writing after that.

It wasn’t worth it to me, to share my work in class because it all came from a deeply personal place and I was horrified of the possibility that I would be chastised or made fun of because of it. Another time, when I was much younger, I was tasked with writing an essay about “your perfect teacher” in fourth grade. While the majority of my class simply wrote that our fourth grade teacher was their idea of the perfect teacher, I took it an alternate route. I remember vividly because of the embarrassment it caused. I described this perfect teacher physically, noting down scars and figure, and left much of the personality aspect out of the piece. The kids didn’t necessarily laugh at me that time. Most of them were so weirded out by it that they didn’t speak to me for years.

I get it, I was a weird kid. I didn’t understand the question and I had a crush on our student teacher.

@ me.

The following year, because I was so horrified of my own writing and I think because of my own imagination, when the class was offered a choice in assignment I spoke out against it. We were offered to write a 5 page essay on a political topic we had been studying in the quarter, or create a presentation for it. I stood up with my friends and looked at Travis, who I told aloud that “There is no way I would write the essay.” My teacher plucked me from the group and told me that I no longer had a choice. I was going to write the essay or take a failing grade. A while later in that class after the essay had been finished and I turned it in with a sheepish look about me, we were tasked to create a story. Travis wrote this enlightening piece about animals who were injected with this molecule that made them hyper destructive fighting machines, like ninja turtles except way more badass. I liked the idea, so I took it and ran in a different direction. (I say that, but I plagiarized the shit out of him.) I had written and illustrated this story in all of the graphic detail it contained. This snake man who was the cause of all of the problems faced off against the heroes, a wolf, a tiger and a lion on a mountaintop laboratory. Seeing that they could not end the dispute peacefully, they coiled the snake upon the spire and impaled him as his blood drained down the summit of the mountain. I showed this to my parents and they told me immediately that I “couldn’t show that to anyone.” I was confused. I had been brought up all my life to be creative and to explore the parts of my mind so many people keep hidden. I had been taught by my mother every day to write and work and create something that no one else has before and then when I did (well, I didn’t, not really, not the point.) they told me to change the ending. It was my first and last experience to date with a true editor. I remember taking the last panel of the book up to my bedroom and tearing it to tiny pieces after I had spent so much time creating it. I didn’t want to feel that way again. I hated destroying my work, but my parents were right. I couldn’t show that to someone. They would think I’m crazy. If destroying my work was like death, the laughter of my classmates and the insults I would hear afterwards would have been eternal damnation. I would never feel that way, I couldn’t bear to.

Then I entered high school. I wrote and sketched every day. I began to blossom into a creative machine who could not be stopped. Until I wrote that poem my sophomore year and I once again felt that laughter that burned my heart. I couldn’t bear the insults and the jokes made at my expense so I stopped writing for a long time. I turned to music because it was the “cooler” creative hobby. Of course, what no one tells you is that it’s only “cooler” if you’re making money or are attractive while doing it. I was neither of those things. Playing guitar only gave me relief in that I was good at it and I used it as a tool to overcome stress from my day to day life. I had finally found a place to fit in. I was playing guitar and working with two of my best friends every day sharpening my abilities and I even joined choir. Music really did save me, but before I get into that chain of events, I had to feel the blistering pain of failing at that too once before I could understand what I was really on this earth for. It was my junior or senior year and I had been practicing for a New Year’s Eve talent show at my church, I was going to play “Dear God” by Avenged Sevenfold for these people who loved me and supported me for years. Hours every day I had spent practicing and before I knew it the night had arrived. My parents and I showed up to the church and I sat down to tinker with my guitar before the show started. I was feeling confident and capable, nothing could stop me. Then, as you have probably guessed by now, something shook me to my nerves. There was this kid that I went to high school with who absolutely hated me. I had no idea why, I still don’t. He was the kind of kid who was cool in high school because he didn’t care about anything, not really. He skirted classes and dates and treated his girlfriends like shit, you know the type of guy I’m talking about. I saw him come in and suddenly my nerves broke. I began sweating and shaking and on the verge of tears I stumbled up to the front of the church at the provocation of my parents and a family friend. I sat down to play the song and made it through the first verse well enough, but I couldn’t get my fingers to land where they needed to land. I couldn’t get my mouth to make the right noises and my lungs couldn’t hit the notes like they needed to. I let my fear get the better of me and stumbled through the rest of the song like an idiot, rather than giving up in the middle of the performance and stepping down I was determined to keep going so I took a break and started again, finishing out a 6 minute song in 9 minutes and doing it more poorly than when I had first begun to learn the song.

I left the New Years Celebration shortly after he stepped up to play a song and wooed the crowd. His voice was beautiful, even if he was rotten to me I can’t deny him that. He was a fantastic guitarist, still is as a matter of fact, I see him every once and a while playing a show at the Rodeo or in one of the bars.

I couldn’t bear the laughter and the stifled laughter that I had heard like viscious echoes all through my life every time I put myself out there and then immediately failed. I have grown paranoid of it. I still have nightmares to this day, that I will release a book and the kid in my Sophomore English class will rip it out of my hands and ask if I really think Chaim is real. Or I will be at a book meeting and the kid from the NYE Talent show will step out and begin playing guitar while lying naked across my signing table so everyone stops paying attention to me. I’m horrified that these things will still happen but this sad and embarrassing truth comes hand in hand to you with another;

Just like high school doesn’t last forever, neither will your uncertainty.

I have put out so much content over the last four years that I barely know what to do with myself. I have over 400 blog posts in total that I have been writing since 2013. That’s nuts, isn’t it? I have (as of now) five published books, with a sixth coming out later this year. I work every day to better myself and make something more important and more powerful because I learned a long time ago in the middle of the night, as I listened to the echoes of the other children laughing at me…

I was a child too. Each child is given a purpose. More often than not we must fight to carve that purpose out for ourselves and we cannot give up. I have done my best carving during those late nights, wondering why people don’t understand my mind and feeling like I am viewing a party from the outside. “I think so differently” I would tell myself. “Why can’t I be more like them?” On the nights when the laughter was increasingly hard to hear, I would put my headphones on and write something for them. Something I will never show another living being as long as I live and something that will hopefully be lost before I pass away. I would turn the music up when I was done and I would cry myself to sleep. I withdrew into a shell and wouldn’t let anyone have that kind of power again. I wouldn’t let anyone destroy me with their jokes about my art or my music or my writing. I couldn’t stand it. In the throes of those endlessly painful and harrowing nights I was given two things, one that I had to claw away from the deepest parts of me, wrapped in bad memories and calcified tears, it was that I had always been different. I had been created to be different. I see things in a way that not many others do. I take things from a new perspective, like so many artists before me, but I use words as the catalyst for change and dissection. I found this through the muddy water inside of me as I ran each night from the voices of the other children laughing at me. I learned quickly that the fastest way to tune them our was with music, mind or otherwise, so I would strap headphones to my skull and turn the music up as loud as possible as the voices tried to distract me. After years of doing this, I found that I have developed a minor case of tinnitus.

It’s okay, however. The ringing in my ears only serves one purpose. It is quiet still, but just loud enough to drown out the voices of the children still echoing around in my skull. When I go to submit a manuscript or propose an idea to my friends and family, I am blessed by the eternal ringing within my ears. Because it keeps the laughter at bay so I can remember…

I have a purpose, and it is this.

I will never give in to the laughter. I am not a child, and even when I was they never controlled me.

The laughing children don’t control you either, so keep writing, keep fighting and pushing and painting your future. Embrace your differences and rejoice within them. We are all designed with our strengths and weaknesses, don’t let them take yours away.

Thank you for reading, remember that life is not meant to be awful.

www.linmtba.com