Graduated high school. Kissed someone. Collected something really stupid. Smoked a cigarette. Got so drunk you passed out. Rode every ride at an amusement park. Gone to a rock concert. Helped someone. Gone fishing. Watched four movies in one night. Gone long periods of time without sleep. Lied to someone. Snorted cocaine. Failed a class. Smoked weed. Dealt drugs. Been in a car accident. Been in a tornado. Been to a funeral. Burned yourself. Ran a marathon. Cried yourself to sleep. Spent over $200 in one day. Flown on a plane. Cheated on someone. Been cheated on.
Written a 10 page letter. Gone skiing. & snowboarding Been sailing. Had a best friend. Lost someone you loved. Shoplifted something. Been to jail. Dangerously close to being in jail. Skipped school. Had detention. Got in trouble for something you didn’t do. Stolen books from the library. Gone to a different country. Dropped out of school. Watched the “Harry Potter” movies. Had an online diary. Had a yard sale. Had a lemonade stand. Actually made money at the lemonade stand. Been in a school play. Been fired from a job. Swam with dolphins. Taken a lie detector test. Gone to sea world. Voted for someone on a reality TV show. Written poetry. Read more than 20 books a year. Gone to Europe. Loved someone you shouldn’t have. Used a coloring book over age 12. Had surgery. Had stitches. Taken a taxi. Seen the Washington Monument. Had more than 5 IM’s/online conversations going at once. Overdosed. Had a drug or alcohol problem. Been in a fist fight. Suffered any form of abuse. Gone surfing in California. Had a hamster/guinea pig. Pet a wild animal. Used a credit card. Did “spirit day” at school. Dyed your hair. Got a tattoo. Got straight A’s. Been on the Honor Roll. Know someone with HIV or AIDS. Made-out with someone. Played on a sports team. Snuck out of the house. Swore at a teacher. Gone laser tagging. Had a boyfriend/girlfriend. Been on the TV. French braided. Skinny-dipped. Driven a car. Performed in front of an audience. Been in love. Been on a train. Seen a ghost. Gone bungee-jumping. Been to Mexico. Crashed a car. Sky dived. Been kissed in the rain. Made an 11:11 wish. Drank alcohol. Forwarded a chain letter. Made a mistake.
"The most important thing you have to remember is that those people, those guys and girls who you think are so cool, who’re making you think you gotta do all those things, those incredibly self-damaging things that you will spend the rest of your life trying to get rid of, to be as cool as them - I want you to understand that maybe 1 in 30 of them is doing it because they want to, and the other 29 have convinced themselves likewise but are really doing it because they want to be like that guy. Do you understand? They’re normal people who want to be interesting. They’re boring people who think that they’re not interesting as they are now.
You, you’re different. You started interesting. You came from nothing, went through hell and back, did all this kind of crap that people like them have never even begun to think about. You lived in the places their parents told them to avoid. You defied expectations, you told all the people who thought you’d never make it beyond a small blip of accomplishment where to stick it and went beyond their wildest dreams. You had the willpower, the context, the perspective, the knowledge that this was not it, this was not all that there was. You KNOW that you ARE interesting and all you want to be is normal.
Do you understand? You were ALREADY interesting. YOU are one of those people they want to be. I want you to remember, every time you think you’re boring, that you’ve done things, lived things, BECOME things that they’re too scared to even think about, that trips them right the hell out, that they can’t even begin to fathom attempting, and that’s why they’re doing all the stupid shit you’re seeing them do right now because their lives are empty otherwise.
Relax. Your glass is full to overflowing. Theirs is empty, and so they have to keep filling it up with crap.”
- a letter I plan on sending someone in the very near future
Like being thrown off a cliff and being expected to learn how to fly
I would normally use the swimming pool metaphor, but with swimming, at least you have the buoyancy of the water to save you just in case things start going bad for you. Just take one big breath, stop thrashing, and let your body’s fat content do its thing. Flying off a cliff would be a different story entirely, and I think it’s the more appropriate image.
It recently occurred to me that somewhere in between 18 and, well, now, I became an “adult.” Up to and following my 23rd birthday a few weeks ago, a whole slew of things happened to me that made me realize, with both incredible fear and giddiness, that I was no longer the guy with idiotic youth as an excuse for my behaviour, and on occasions, the lack of it.
I recently got a new job - my very first non-contract, actual benefits holy-crap-I-actually-get-to-meaningfully-interact-with-people job in Canada. I do retail for a sporting goods store. Pay isn’t terribly much, but after the organ grinder that was working factory jobs before that, I have to say that I’m loving this a heck of a lot more.
I also got a new responsibility - a community centre, where I placed a volunteer application nearly a whole year ago, picked me up to do a little research work for them. I was told that I would be more or less in charge of how the project was supposed to happen, and I had full (reasonable) leeway in how it was supposed to be done.
What I discovered, in these two things happening to me, was that when you get these sorts of responsibilities (especially with retail at my age), you stop being the student/child and you become the teacher/expert. In the project, I had to interview a couple of people and ask them a few questions about how their program ran, what’s been working, what hasn’t, and all the usual stuff. I was absolutely terrified - would they catch on that this was the first time I did this sort of thing without the watchful caring eye of a professor? Were they perceiving me as unprofessional? Did I look like a lazy jackass? During the entire time, we all sat and talked to each other with flat, expressionless, down-to-business faces.
I asked my questions, got my answers, and answered the questions they had for me, dutifully writing down all the necessary information. After I told them that everything was concluded, one of them breathed a sigh of relief - part jokingly, but also part honestly. And that’s when I realized that there were worried about how they were coming across to ME. I wasn’t being perceived as one of the youth that they were in charge of in their program. I was being treated and communicated with as an actual adult with all the concerns and decorum that came with it.
I was an adult, treating other adults like equal adults, and being treated likewise.
It utterly blew my mind. For the past 22 years of my life, I had operated on some variant of the student-teacher paradigm. I was the student, they were the teacher, I was always learning from them and I had little to offer back except my respect. Now, I was the adult, talking to adults, and having an equal exchange of information in that context. How THEY came across to me was just as important as how I was coming across to them.
It wasn’t just the research project. At my retail job, I was hired for a very specific section of their store (their Golf department). Customers who wandered into my section would come to me for information regarding certain products, promotions, and practices at the store. As I helped out each customer in the capacity they needed, I realized throughout my workday that they were taking the advice I was giving them (more or less) seriously. Whether or not they bought something or decided to use something frequently quite literally hinged on what I thought they should know about it. I wasn’t just the “knowledgeable golf guy” that they knew, I was now “the golf expert and the person to trust with your buying decisions.” My words now had WEIGHT, and whether or not they had a good experience was on me.
These two experiences finally underlined for me what I had such an incredibly tough time understanding in high school (and for the first few years of university) - maturity and adulthood were not necessarily what you DID but what you were entrusted to TAKE CARE OF.
In the case of the research project, I was being expected to take care of their trust that I was a knowledgeable and responsible researcher who was taking all of their information and conversation seriously. In the case of retail, I was being expected to give the best possible advice given the buying concerns of the customers who came into my section. This had never happened before in quite literally anything else I had done - I was expected to do things but I was never entrusted.
I really do honestly hope that, although I was late to the party in finding this out, that I am able to keep remembering this and letting it influence my actions. I can’t afford to be the child, the passive consumer, the one-way learner. At some point, I’m going to be entrusted to use that knowledge, that expertise, to be for others what they were for me - sources of trust.
I would like to apologize for the general absence and neglect of this blog, and would like to use this post to (hopefully) explain what has happened to me since then, and to have it - on both your honour and mine - the promised duty update this more frequently. To whoever’s reading, be you one of my friends/family or anon - this post is my contract to you for content.
The notion of power levels in the DragonBall Z universe was always compelling and interesting for me. Although Akira Toriyama dropped the concept quickly following the exit of the Freeza saga (and just so, as the power levels were easily in the tens of millions at that point!), it gave nerds like me something to chew over, and, accurately or inaccurately, a measuring stick for what constituted survival in the DragonBall Z universe. That being said, let’s break down DBZ’s power level system!
(All values used are courtesy of research by “Duo” from the website MyFavoriteGames.com, link here: http://www.myfavoritegames.com/dbz/power-levels(new).htm)
What has always remained in my mind after the entireties of the Saiyan (and later the Freeza sagas) was determining how the various levels described dictated your survival with other entities. Could winning only occur via equally matched power levels, levels of significant greatness over another, or was tactical intelligence being factored in by the Scouters?
Let’s assume, for example, that the last statement is a given. It’s alien technology, after all, there’s no reason to believe that they somehow figured out how to calculate someone’s cunning in coming up with a power level value.
The first mention of a power level is the poor farmer that Raditz meets after his ship lands on Earth. He is rated at a 5, which appears to be the basic fitness level of an adult. Supplementary material rates Raditz himself at a titanic 1,220. After making short work of the farmer, he uses his scouter to seek the nearest strongest power in the area, leading him to meet Piccolo.
Piccolo, who was demonstrated to us in the first DragonBall series as being quite the powerful antagonist, is rated by Raditz’s scouter at a seemingly measly 322. Piccolo’s own energy blast is shrugged off with indifference by Raditz, a fact that genuinely puts chills down Piccolo’s back. After locating Goku, he flies off to meet up with him, and well, you know the rest - theft of Gohan ensues, followed by epic battle between the two mortal enemies-become-unlikely allies of Goku and Piccolo to defeat Raditz via Goku’s heroic sacrifice.
In this arc, a few things are revealed to us:
*Goku and Piccolo are still the strongest possible beings on Earth at the beginning of DragonBall Z, and, assuming no big battles since then, more or less the same people (albeit slightly stronger) they were at the conclusion of the first DragonBall.
*Raditz is capable of easily leveling entire mountain ranges with minimal effort. In the previous DragonBall series, Piccolo was shown to be able to do this only through an incredible amount of effort on his part to summon up the necessary energy. It stands to reason that Goku requires the same effort on his end as well.
*Piccolo and Goku’s values as rated on the scouter are 322 and 334 respectively. We soon learn that these are their “at rest” values, and are capable of ramping up their energy to their full potential (Goku’s Kamehameha can be unleashed at 1080, and Piccolo’s Special Beam Cannon (Makankosappo, if you’re a stickler to details) is downright lethal and at least 220 units over Raditz’s own level at 1440 (1330 at the first missed shot)).
*Goku’s Kamehameha forces Raditz to actively defend himself, and Piccolo’s Special Beam Cannon drills straight through, impaling Raditz AND Goku at the same time.
*Gohan’s anger-charged headbutt is rated at 1307, which genuinely surprises/scares Raditz, and, when he connects, damages Raditz enough that Goku is able to successfully hold him in a full nelson.
From these observations, I infer the following “rules” and “constants” are in play:
*A power level of at least 900-1000 is needed to cause significant countryside/city damage. Goku and Piccolo were at this level at the conclusion of the original DragonBall.
*As Raditz himself is unaware of suppressing/increasing one’s energy and controlling it throughout battle, he is more or less continuously at his level of 1220, and remains so throughout the fight until he is damaged/killed.
*Power levels that are about 60-70% of his are not of particular threat to him: even after Goku and Piccolo both remove their weighted clothing and armour, he still kicks them around easily. It is only after they start revving up their high-energy desperation attacks that Raditz is forced to concentrate and actively defend himself.
*Fighters (or attacks) that are close to (within 200 or so units) his own power level becoming significantly damaging, and once they start going beyond his own level, become serious/lethal.
Do these assumptions hold up for later in the series? Let’s find out with the arrival of Nappa and Vegeta. In supplementary material, Nappa is rated at 4000 and later going as high at 8000, while Vegeta (as revealed on Namek by Cui) is seemingly godlike at 18,000, easily the strongest known Saiyan period (discounting Broly and Paragus).
In this arc, the following is revealed to us:
*Nappa annihilates a city via an unexplained energy attack that is somehow able to erupt from underground. He barely shows any effort for this.
*When he takes on the Z fighters, he makes extremely quick work of them. Tenshinhan is dispatched rather viciously despite making some extremely impressive attacks (his Kikoho, rated at an extremely high (for humans) 2500, merely scratches Nappa), Gohan’s Masenko is punched away (though Nappa admits that it stings), and Chiaotzu’s self-destruct attack does little more than damage Nappa’s armour.
*Krillin’s Destructo Disk (Ki-en-zan for the sticklers), however, seems to actually pose a risk to Nappa, as Vegeta orders the latter to dodge it lest his head get cut off. Krillin himself in supplementary material is rated at 1083 in this fight.
*Piccolo’s highest power level reached is around 2000, and to protect Gohan from Nappa’s attack, takes the full brunt of it and, while not being blown to bits, seems to sustain incredible internal damage.
*When Goku appears (and begins charging up, leading Vegeta and Nappa to say their most famous lines), Vegeta angrily notes that Goku is hovering around 8000 (9000 in the dubs), which freaks Nappa out.
*In Vegeta and Goku’s fight, Goku’s Kaioken technique allows him to boost all the way up to 16,000, then to 24,000. During Kaiokenx3, Vegeta begins sustaining damage that forces him to defend himself, first with more focus and then with increasing rage and frustration as it is revealed to him that Goku is actually a match for the Prince of Saiyans.
*In frustration, Vegeta launches his Galick Gun, which ramps his own power level to 41,000, and threatens (in his words) to destroy Earth in one shot. Goku is forced to respond with a Kamehameha, amplifying it with a Kaiokenx4, going up to 48,000, overpowering the Galick Gun’s blast and sending Vegeta into the stratosphere.
*Vegeta, however, doesn’t sustain any disintegrating damage from the blast and somehow rides it until he is able to pull himself off the beam, which continues up into the sky.
*In frustration, he transforms into his ape form and proceeds to thrash Goku. He precedes it by noting that even for him, this form is of particularly formidable power. Supplementary material says that this form is around 100,000.
The arc ends with Vegeta gradually being worn down by the combined efforts of Yajirobe, Gohan’s own ape form, and the Spirit Bomb, forcing him to retreat.
From this we can infer:
*Fighting while being less than half of an opposing power level is basically a deathwish; even one’s strongest efforts will do little unless one is able to focus their energy towards sharpness/cutting as opposed to blunt force energy blasts.
*Power levels very near or equal to one’s own power are a consistent concern for one’s own survival. However, one can still survive combat against higher power levels, albeit with continuously decreasing chances of victory as the difference becomes greater.
*Energy attacks appear to keep going long after the wielder has ended the technique on their end (no “firehose” effect). Prior to Nappa and Vegeta’s arrival, Piccolo destroys the moon via energy blast to prevent Gohan from morphing into his giant ape form. Considering that the moon is around 356,000 to 406,000 km from Earth and about 1,738km thick (to its core, assuming that somehow destroying the core destroys the planet in the DBZ universe), this means that somewhere just past 1200, someone is capable of destroying a moon, and between 1200 and 41,000, one has the ability to physically tear apart a planet. It should be noted, however, that it could be Vegeta’s hyperbole talking…(*note)
We also discover:
*Nappa and Vegeta have variable power levels of their own - an enraged Vegeta’s Galick Gun pumps up all the way to 41000, for example - but they don’t realise this is the case, or they do but don’t consider it a viable part of their tactics since doing so requires being sitting ducks as they charge up (Nappa has to take time to go up to full power, and it’s implied that Vegeta used the full force of his energy for his Galick Gun)
A few days ago, standing in the aisles at a Chapters bookstore, reading random books, I realised with a start that I was doing so while tightly bundled up in a peacoat and scarf, reading things that were not comic books or music magazines. With a start, I realised that I had become - or at least looked like - the very kind of person 15-18 year old me absolutely despised.
It got me to thinking about how much my life has changed since I was in high school, and how my beliefs, priorities, and pleasures - the things I really enjoyed doing - had changed so much since then. In August of 2011, SPIN Magazine ran a special on the influence of Nevermind, the album that broke Nirvana into the mainstream and profoundly changed 90’s pop culture, and in the magazine was a series of blurbs from various famous people who had grown up with or significantly interacted with the album. All the inteviewees had varying reactions back at the time when they first listened to it, but by and large (or out of respect of the memory of Kurt Cobain), they had since warmed up to it, or were respectful of the influence that it had on their own music/work.
It made me ponder for a bit, reading all of those interviews, because I began to realise that I, too, had a profound experience of a sort with Nevermind, many of the songs from the album being the music that got me into rock and heavy metal in the first place. But as opposed to what Nirvana had inspired, I ended up running towards what, at the time, they were trying to get away from, and in the process, discovered many things about myself and my relationship with music.
I had first got into Nirvana on a more concrete level when I was 15-16. I had asked a friend in my guitar class in high school if he knew any “good” rock music. The modern pop music at the time was finally starting to fall out of favour with me, with many of the mainstream hip-hop/RnB acts becoming more and more beholden to the trappings of their successes, and I was starting to lose any sort of relation with it. With a derisive snort, he said he’d burn me a CD of what he considered was good rock n’ roll, and me in naivete could only wait with baited breath. He came back a few days later with a CD full of mp3s: a bunch of Aerosmith, a bunch of Velvet Revolver, some Steve Vai, and a LOT of Dokken. Tucked neatly in the thick of it was a bunch of Nirvana songs, many of which were on Nevermind. With a bit of apprehension, I loaded them up on my CD player (a neat benefit of my CD player at the time was that it could directly play mp3s instead of requiring them to be CD tracks), hit play, and waited to see what would happen.
All the Dokken was quite too much for me. The music was from way too different an era, and it would be quite a while before I could listen to much of them without all the hangups that came from associating it with a silly decade when poofy hair and spandex was considered “metal.” I gelled much more easily to Aerosmith - their tunes had a really strong groove, and had a strong guitar emphasis that I thought was getting heavily downplayed in the nu-metal of the mainstream. I loved the general sense of wild abandon that they had. In contrast, Velvet Revolver were darker, edgier, and a bit too bladed for me at the time, what with the growling drop-D tunings and hazier, ominous atmospheres in their songs. I would eventually grow to like them as well, but they were primarily more fascinating than genuinely interesting to me at the time.
Nirvana were another story completely. I had definitely heard of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” before, but I had never listened to it constructively and critically before, isolating myself so that it was just me and music. What I heard started a reaction in me, changing forever how I interpreted and received rock music.
It was loud, yes. It was stupid, yes. It was simple, yes. It was not terribly challenging to play, yes.
But it was dynamic. It was powerful, the simplicity of it all adding to the song as opposed to subtracting from it. And most of all, it was familiar, echoing my own frustrations at a mainstream culture that I already had a tough time understanding as an inherent outsider (being a Filipino-Canadian in America). It was caustically derisive and iconoclastic - it didn’t contain the braggadocio and posturing of mainstream rap, nor the seemingly hollow and ultimately shallow vexations of the alternative/nu-metal that was populating the rock stations on the radio. It was pissed and the raw emotion was coming from a genuine dissatisfaction within.
Intrigued, I began listening to all the other songs. I kept getting blown away by the depth within them. Here, I thought, here was what I was looking for! This was what I actually felt! I would put the Nirvana tracks on repeat, frequently skipping through everything else, just absorbing it all in. Pounding drums, big bass, crunchy, almost crackingly oozing guitar, Kurt’s echoing wail they all served as a soundtrack through the whirlwind of emotions that was adolescence. I was a convert, never to even so much as gaze at what I used to be. (Or so I had thought, but that would be much later.)
I was still a guitarist throughout all this time, and so I began trying to learn how to play everything. There was a bit of mystique involved, knowing that what I was playing was the same kind of music the man himself had played, that I was looking at the same view he had when he looked down on his guitar neck (albeit right-handed instead of left-handed). Crunchy power chords became my bread and butter, and the tone that rang the loudest for me, during all that time, was the tone of “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
To me, it was gargantuan. It was loud, powerful, and more importantly, heavy as all hell. That was the sound that shut everybody up, that finally got everyone’s attention and made them look at you. I wanted that feeling so bad. I would chug the chords after school in the music room, pretty much pissing off everyone who had been a Nirvana fan before me (and likely lost interest after having to hear me play the same damn thing over and over again), entranced by the power. Over time, it started to grow into an obsession.
The notion of enjoying a heavy guitar tone was quite new to me. I had listened to and enjoyed examples of it before in the nu-metal I listened, but never in the context that Nirvana (and various other bands I would eventually discover) did. In one part of my mind, enjoying that kind of sound was what made you strange, one of those weird people who actually like metal and hard rock. For me, it was a mental rubicon of sorts, that if I admitted that I genuinely liked that sound, then I was no longer going to be one of the “normals.” There was no going back. You couldn’t “sort-of-like” it. You either did or you didn’t.
And so, I did. Somewhere in the space of my sophomore and junior year of high school, I concluded that I would never be one of the “normals.” Rock became a new spirituality of sorts. I began to expand beyond Nirvana. I sat down with the Velvet Revolver tracks and threw myself into them with abandon, letting the aggressive, growling, eerie, and ultimately dissociative, screw-you-this-is-what-I-feel-like sounds bind and meld within me. I found new heroes like Slash and Tom Morello, getting introduced to Rage Against the Machine during an out of state summer program. When I got introduced to Led Zeppelin, my mind was absolutely blown apart. True, ballsy, aggressive, almost sexual rock and roll - Jimmy Page became a minor god in my mental pantheon. Rock and guitar were becoming as integral to me as my own skin. I found myself in the company of people who were in agreement with me, even if I didn’t share the same “extracurriculars” they did (not going to explain - you can probably guess for yourself). I was part of one big rock and roll family. In the process, Nirvana itself began to feel weaker and weaker, hollow parodies of what I began to be defining as “real” rock and roll. Nirvana’s music started sounding laughably simple and irritatingly angsty. Liking “Smells Like Teen Spirit” became a shibboleth in rock circles in my school - those who actually liked it were noobs, people who didn’t really understand true rock and roll. In time, Nirvana lost all credence with me, and they fell out of rotation on my playlists.
I quickly found, however, that my path, while similar to those others, was not quite the same, and eventually the cracks began to show in my experience with the music. Many people were into rock for a variety of reasons, and not very many of them were as idealistic as me. Some had got into it for far simpler reasons than I (“It sounds good”), for different focuses (“I like the vocals/bass/drums”), or for general teenage discontent (“Fuck rules, man”). This, I thought, was not true enjoyment of such an awesome art form! My passion for the guitar guided my principles. If it didn’t sound heavy enough, skilled enough, dynamic enough, or at any point inauthentic enough, it wasn’t the “real” rock and roll. As my explorations grew, going farther and farther and crossing over ultimately into metal (by 18, I had become a genuine Metallica and thrash metal fan in general), the artists that I used to listen to seemed to become cheap, hollow imitations of rock. Slash and Tom Morello were good, yes, but they weren’t really rock and roll (which for me, had really meant “metal”).
Metallica soon took over, becoming my new rock gods. Everything about them was fascinating - the unapologetically fast, violent guitars, the solos which were an amazing blend of technical and passionate, the frenetic drums and bass, and the intense, almost shrieking vocals. I felt rejuvenated, that I had found people who understood the core of rock and roll, the sheer fury and intensity of it all, unlike all the other artists that I used to listen to, who I began to become increasingly disillusioned with. But, for the first time, instead of just listening to their music, I read up on their history, which proved to become just as compelling and interesting as their work.
James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich were polar opposites of friends who shared the same general distaste of modern American music at the time. They had sought solace in the music across the oceans in Europe, enamoured with Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Diamond Head, all of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. Scrounging together a band with guitarist Dave Mustaine and bassist Ron McGovney, they recorded a few songs that took bits and pieces of the music they liked, blending the frenetic pace of punk with the tight rhythms and technicality of the NWOBHM, and started off the wave that would become thrash metal. They would soon replace Mustaine and McGovney with Kirk Hammett and Cliff Burton, and the band that would become Metallica was born.
Metallica’s roots and history resonated surprisingly strongly within me. Like them, I had grown disillusioned with what people were calling rock and roll, angry that I was being told that this kind of music represented me. Rock, just like the mainstream, had become a competition for “cool,” where how you looked and what kind of music you played were the key towards moving upwards in social circles. I had had enough of that - wasn’t breaking away from this the point of why I got into rock and roll? I had tried to ply my trade as a guitarist in school, at first playing many of the acoustic pop songs that everyone liked, and later many traditional and modern rock songs. However, I couldn’t sing, and I didn’t look good, and so the one thing that I thought people would be paying attention to - my musical skill - became secondary to what they were actually paying attention to - what music I listened to/knew how to play and whether or not I looked good doing it. Metallica’s music was the perfect outlet to my frustration.
Fine, I thought. I won’t ever be cool playing music?Then fuck that shit. From this point on, I will listen to whatever I damn well feel like. I’m not going to care about missing the boat to ‘cool and popular’ if I never gave a shit about it in the first place.
What I didn’t know at the time, however, was that I had removed a mental block on myself that I had inadvertently created - instead of listening to music for myself, like I had used to when I first got into rock and roll, I had begun listening to it as a means to an end (improving my social standing) as opposed to an end in itself (exploring music in general). In committing myself to listening to Metallica and no longer giving a damn what people thought of me, other rock and metal fans included (this part is important!), I let myself finally appreciate music for what it was, not letting the context of a song overwrite all of its other characteristics. Nirvana, Velvet Revolver, Led Zeppelin, Guns N’ Roses, RATM - I could listen to everything by them, and not care about what that made me look like. I liked rock music in general, dammit, and these bands (and all other related group) were in some form or another, just as rock and roll as Metallica, even if their own personal definitions didn’t really overlap with each other. I lost a lot of my hangups with music in the succeeding years following my interest in Metallica, and it would eventually manifest itself in one of my newest and dearest loves - classical music.
So why the return to the subject of Nirvana now? Well, like I pointed out in the beginning, I realised a few days ago that 15-18 year old me would have despised the current me - properly fitting pants and shirts, peacoats and scarves (to be fair, it IS really cold in Toronto), unabashedly listening to all forms of music not “true” rock and roll, even liking *gasp* some pop music! What happened to sloppy, baggy clothes and rock/metal till you died?
Well, 15-18 year old self, it’s still there. It’s now just one part of something much greater. It’s no longer rock and metal till I die.
Leaving Evanston and heading out to Cheyenne proved to be an interesting experience. Like Nevada, apart from the huge fields where cattle occasionally grazed, it was full of rock formations and gigantic stretches of wilderness. Unlike Nevada, however, said formations were uniformly flatter, like someone had applied compressor to the tallest peaks in the vicinity. It was mostly uneventful, save for some really nice views that eventually gave way to what appeared to be a cold front creating some rainy weather in Cheyenne. We took shelter that night in our motel just outside the main city.
The next day, after checking out, we decided to take a tour of Cheyenne, as part of a motor trolley tour. Along the way, we learned many things about Cheyenne, such as its distinction as the first state that gave women the right to vote, and the famous Frontier Days rodeo event. Unfortunately, as it was raining (and again, we couldn’t stay too long on account of our journey) we didn’t get to take too many pictures/see many sights, but we enjoyed it all the same.
Day 3: Elko, NV - Salt Lake City, UT - Evanston, WY, pt. 2
The other big draw of Salt Lake City was, of course, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or more popularly known, the church of the Mormons! We spent the day touring around Temple Square, the center of the Mormon life in Salt Lake City. The Square was staffed with many members of the church, all of whom were extremely helpful and polite!
A monument honoring Brigham Young and the pioneers of the Utah Territory
The front of the Salt Lake Temple. As the temple itself is sacred, used primarily for rites, no tours/visiting were permitted.
Next to the South visitor’s entrance
The interior of the Tabernacle, where the famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir rehearses and performs. The sound inside is AMAZING.
Tabernacle exterior, with Mom
Temple Square, south entrance
Sadly, as we had to keep going along on our little migration, we couldn’t stay long enough to take in all the sights and resolved to come back another day. After Salt Lake City, we continued on through Utah, eventually reaching the first town on 80 that we found - Evanston, in Wyoming, where we finally crashed after an exceptionally long day of driving.
Day 3: Elko, NV - Salt Lake City, UT - Evanston, WY, pt. 1
The departure from Elko, NV wasn’t nearly as eventful as Reno…up until we realized we had to weave through mountains again. As I’ve mentioned before, driving through mountains is usually fun for me, were it not for the very heavy trailer that our poor car was towing at the same time. After what seemed like almost forever, we finally broke through the mountains, drove through Wendover…
…and finally entered Utah! Unfortunately, no photos of the amazing white…salt beds? I think they were salt beds. But a few photos leading into the main city!
From a rest area on the way
Some things never change, no matter where you go. Sinclair gas, selling you fluid compressed dinosaurs!
The Great Salt Lake! What little we could see of it, anyway.
"It’s 16 minutes away from here walking! Let’s go!"
*An hour and a half and 16 miles later* “Mistakes were made…”
Due to a snag in our Sunday plans, we ended up staying in Reno just a little bit longer than we thought we would. We ended up spending part of the day to take a few pictures of the “biggest little city in the world.”
A motorcycle parade in remembrance of 9/11
Another shot of the same
In front of the big sign!
We spent lunch at Circus Circus’ buffet, which, at about $11, was an AMAZING deal! I also tried one of the slot machines and busted out in 30 seconds…guess you need to put in more than a dollar to have any real fun.
When we finally left Reno and headed out towards Elko, we set out towards (initially) sunny skies with a few clouds in between. Then, this happens:
Departing from Reno, NV: Well, this doesn’t look too bad.
80 miles out: OH GOD STORM OUT OF NOWHERE
5 miles after said storm: It’s sunny again what
18ish miles after: STORM OUT OF NOWHERE AGAIN WHAT
And you repeat the last three all the way to Elko, where apparently half the town is still under renovation. At least the bed and its pillows were fluffy!
(Due to intermittent internet access, the posts will not be updated in real time, but simply in order of occurrence.)
Following a tearful goodbye, me and Mom finally set off on our weeklong (hopefully!) road trip to Toronto. As we left rather late, our first stop for the night was going to be in Reno, NV. With a 4pm departure time, we were going to have to step on it if we were going to make it to our motel before 9pm.
Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done when you’re towing a trailer that’s clearly overloaded with almost all of your clothes stuffed in the back of the car! To save the life of our transmission, we grudgingly scaled all the way back to 55 mph. It’s not fun having every other car pass you on the freeway. By the time we finally got onto the main section of I-80, we were effectively the slowest moving vehicle on the road, to the point where big rigs were easily passing us.
The first two hours weren’t too bad - other than the standard fare of nothing but trees and road, there wasn’t anything particularly exciting. That is, until night fell.
At almost the exact same time that night fell, we entered the hillier section of California that leads into Nevada. Normally this isn’t a terrible problem for me, since reduced visibility doesn’t bother me that much. However, the reality of towing a very heavy trailer manifested itself almost immediately - your control over your vehicle just goes to all hell, because when you’re towing, the tail is wagging the dog and most certainly not the reverse.
Further compounding the problem was the almost endless stretches of construction, at several points compressing the road into just one lane…at night…with several daredevils behind you pressuring you into stepping up your speed while going downhill, with a gigantic ravine on your right with construction dividers on your left. I have never been happier to pull off and pull into a motel that’s almost exactly just off the main road. Reno looked amazing at night! Unfortunately, there’s no pictures of that, since I was way too tired to even consider getting out and enjoying the view.
The big day’s finally here! More than a few of you will notice that it is not September 1st, as I’ve previously said before. Due to some difficulties, not the least of which involved an enormous amount of cleaning and packing that we didn’t notice we still had to do, we ultimately had to push forward the big day of the move all the way to Saturday in order to be able to have everything all together. As it turns out, you can’t just simply compress the sorting and packing of 11 years of life in America into the space of one week and hope to still be in one piece in the end!
But first, let me apologize and explain for my lack of information for the past few weeks. As some of you know, I’m actually a Canadian citizen, and not an American citizen or even a permanent resident (but I am here legally!) I came to the US here in 2000 as part of the Philippine Consulate General, where its members are in the country they’re posted to for a term of six years, upon which they’re typically recalled back to their home country. Me and my mom came under a special diplomatic visa which granted us status in America for the duration of my mom’s term.
Normally, this would have meant that I would have gone back to the Philippines in 2006. However, we’d decided that we’d liked the opportunities we got in America, enough for me to commit to the idea of pursuing higher education in California. As college would involve four years more than the term allowed, we ultimately decided to file for permanent residency and move off of the visa we were here on.
For those of you who’ve experienced the American Immigration Process, you’ll already know how long it takes for the requisite agencies to come to a decision, much less actually grant you status. About two years into the waiting process, we decided to explore other options just in case America didn’t pan out. After much work, we decided on Canada.
Canada’s immigration process, while no less strict and regimented as America’s, was very streamlined. However, this would be another waiting game, a process that would take another two years. Just this year, about early into Spring Quarter, we received the notification that we were free to migrate to Canada.
However, we wouldn’t know precisely when we would be told to migrate until well into late into the quarter, so for the longest time, I didn’t know when exactly we were going to go, throwing a lot of my plans out the window. By the time I did know, it was early into summer, and I ended up spending almost all the time prepping, planning, and packing for what would eventually becoming September 10.
It really pains me that I do have to leave, but as many people have told me, I have a lot to look forward to as well! Toronto’s a great city with a lot of history behind it, and we’ll be taking a scenic route going out of America, so I’ll have a lot of memories I’ll get to make. I really do wish that I could get to stay and continue to explore America with all of you - as someone who moves around a lot, I don’t get to see my family very often, and I don’t make very many friends often either, so I’m so happy that in my 11 years in America, I’ve met so many wonderful people, and I’m not going to say you’re like family, because, you are my family. I hope I get to stay in touch with all of you regardless of where I go in life.
I’ll be primarily be using this Tumblr to update where I am and what I’ve been doing, so stay in touch!
Hi, and welcome to my Tumblr! I’m a 22 year old Psychology graduate and a closet vocal bass, who’s currently in the process of migrating from the United States to Canada. With this Tumblr, I hope to be able to chronicle the process of driving across the United States as I migrate (the irony, I know, for some of you who know me personally), and to chronicle the process of my new life in a new country. Let’s do this!