Abigail Foster's Photosynthesis Machine, Family, Fidelia Hall, Libraries, Life, Music, Titusville, PA

Change The World With Creativity

Between 2009 and 2015 I was not very active creatively. This is OK. The family that Haley and I started began to grow, and now that we were both out of school it was time to put some energy into our work. For me it was libraries and in a way my work in libraries took the place of the act of creativity. Looking back I see that my work in libraries was very creative as a result of this shift. I think I did some really neat library related things during that time period. Despite enjoying this work, I still felt a lack of creativity in my life.

My creativity comes out best in the form of songs, and even more specifically songs that are arranged in the sequence of an album. In the days of digital singles and rush releases, I understand that I am way beyond the times and I’m fine with that. One of the things that I have learned about creativity is that you need to open your mind and your heart to it and accept it in any form that it comes. Is it rushing at your faster than you can write it all down? Is the trickle as slow as a leaky faucet? What I have realized is that creativity comes in many forms and with many speeds. You have to accept that in your mind and in your heart and be ready for whatever comes. You also have to accept that your creativity may take different forms. As I said above, for me that form is a set of songs arranged as an album. My wife Haley, who just happens to be one of most creative people I know, excels at making clothes for herself as well as other fabric arts and oddities which have an amazing energy and charm to them.

And that’s what I want to talk about: the energy that your individual creativity puts out into the world. Every creative act that a human being does starts somewhere. I believe they start in a positive part of our mind and our heart. We then interpret these creative urges into a form. We do not need to talk about the form here. The form is what you want it to be. The form that feels most honest and real to you is the form for you. Embrace that form, think about your creative urge, and make that creative urge a reality. Birth your idea and let your idea out into the world.

DO NOT fall into the belief that “no one will listen to or read or look at” your creative act. Instead, think two things about your creative act:

  1. Your creative act puts out a positive energy into the world, and acts of positive energy are like ripples in a pond. The effects will be felt somewhere along the line.
  2. Your creative act will be listened to or read or looked at. Someone at some point in time will interact with it and it will have an impact on their life. There are too many people in the world for your creative act to not be seen by at least one person. And one person is more than zero.

My latest creative act is a 10 song album titled SMALL TOWN. I would like to end this post by talking about that creative act. I believe that not only should we share our creative acts but we should also talk about how they came to be and why they came to be. This helps us understand each other, and when we better understand each other we can work together to create a more positive world.

SMALL TOWN begins the album. I wanted to write a song that was just one big loop. I experimented with a 4 chord sequence in 4/4 time. Garageband helped me make the loops, program the drums and bass, and put more onto the song at the end. This is the introduction to a frame of mind I had while writing the album. This is what it can feel like in a small town.

GIVE ME THE ATOM BOMB was started in mid 2017 and went through many different versions until I came to this arrangement. I did not know if I wanted it to be a slow dirge, a synthpop extravaganza, or just a straight ahead song. Jeff Lynne and his use of the acoustic guitar as a rhythm instrument inspired this version. The message is simple: “I AM EVERYTHING, THERE’S NOBODY ELSE AROUND”. Contrasting the feeling of being woke with the feeling of being isolated.

THIS TOWN WILL DESTROY ITSELF was the lingering feeling that everything I moved my family to in 2015 was crumbling. Homes falling apart, buildings falling down, and a rot that set in years ago and continued to fester. I want to go, but I also want to stay. I can’t be fooled by my feelings.

FROZEN PIPES is the tale of Fidelia Hall, student loan debt, and the struggle of this generation in America. I’ve written about how my home is physically falling apart before…frozen pipes, leaking walls, mold, ceilings falling down, falling through the floor, and heating systems failing. Why can’t you just fix it Justin? Well, it’s tough when you have $100K of student loan debt between you and your wife and you only make $35K per year. You just can’t fix things in the moment and you have to plan. You promised that an education would lead to great things and while it has helped expand my mind, it has crippled the expanded mind with a debt that will never cease. The boomers and their complaints. Their lack of vision and understanding. This is the story of a generation. I could write about this for ages but I won’t.

LET’S GO BACK TO SLEEP started in 2001 as an instrumental. I loved the simple melody. I loved the 50’s style chord sequence. The more I thought about this album the more I came to the conclusion that it should not be a 10 song tome on small towns. It had to be more. LET’S GO BACK TO SLEEP starts the dream sequence and the hunt for a new place to live and a possible new job, all of which ties nicely into this blog series I wrote about my job search, A NEW CAREER IN A NEW TOWN

LITTLE PARADISE is a song that has been complete since 2001 but I was never happy with the recording I had. It felt too…..beachy. The song was written around the time where all that I wanted to do was to leave college and travel and live in different places every three months. That was the dream. The song was a nice fit for this album because it dealt with leaving your home to explore and go on an adventure. I am very proud of the bridge.

AEOTEOROA has roots in a cassette demo tape I made in 11th grade during my music class. It was a simple midi piano and not much else with the title JUPITER. It sounded good and it needed more. AEOTEOROA was a place that I had a very big interest in and a place that I could see me and my family living in, so it became the focus…the ultimate adventure…the goal. Everyone’s so neat there. Everything’s so green there. Why don’t we plant roots and soar into the sun?

MUCH TOO LATE also has origins from years ago but it was an idea that sat aside without any development. Striking out on the idea of a move to Aeoteoroa, I wondered to myself if it was much too late to make a new step in our lives. Time is always ticking. Also I just love a good key change into a huge chorus.

ATOM BOMB, as I stated above, had so many different versions and ideas. I couldn’t let go of the idea of the song being constructed with synths and with dirgey instrumentation. This is why we have a reprise! I couldn’t let this vibe go unheard.

Ending an album is difficult. I always want to sum everything up and get the listener to think about their life. I noticed that the phrase “another day” popped up in another song and it reminded me that I had this short idea of a song from years ago. It felt like a good way to end.

 

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Life, Things

I STAY UNDER GLASS

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There is snow on the ground.
It will be there for the next few months.
Put on your slippers and sit on the couch.
Play a video game or watch a movie.
Netflix is pretty awesome.
Get a cozy blanket and snuggle up.

https://twitter.com/jhodestroyer/status/690279919390167040

Think about all of the awesome things you can do with your life if you stop worrying about what modern society will think of you. They’ve got it all wrong. When they say you’re a weirdo what they actually mean is “wow, you’ve managed to truly find yourself and discover that modern life is just a facade.” They just haven’t figured out how to liberate their own hearts, minds, and souls.

I am a passenger
I stay under glass
I look through my window so bright
I see the stars come out tonight
I see the bright and hollow sky
Over the city’s ripped-back sky
And everything looks good tonight

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It’s all ok.

 

Family, Life

I Am Not Part of Your World (aka Things I Have Learned Being an Adult Child in an Adult World)

I am a 35 year old adult child. I am a-ok with this. I like to go on random spur of the moment adventures with my family. I like to sit around in my pajamas all day and play video games. I also like to do my best at my job, pay the bills, and make sure that my family and I are all well fed and taken care of.  You know, adult stuff. I am an adult child.

I know there are a lot of people out there just like me. Heck, I would argue that a majority of my generation falls into this adult child category. I know I’m not alone in the world. I used to think that I was and I was wrong. I’m glad I’ve grown past that point.

I do not feel like I am part of “your world” or whatever that means. If women are from Venus and men are from Mars I am probably from Europa (one of the amazing moons of Jupiter). And I am very happy and proud to be from Europa.

I like to share what I’ve learned so here goes:

  • Nobody has it all figured out. Everyone you see around you and everyone you look up to is just making it up as they go along.
  • We’re all in this together. Yes, we all have our differences in opinion and those differences make us want to yell and scream and possibly punch each other. But in the end, we’re all in this together and if we fail to understand that we may all be screwed.
  • Follow your heart. Michael Stephens taught me this and there is not one day that I am alive where I do not think about this. Be yourself and be proud. Follow those dreams.
  • You are not your parents. I love my parents. They are thoughtful, kind, and in my opinion, the best damn parents in the world. But I am not my parents and you are not your parents. We share the same biological makeup. We also share a lot of the same habits and tendencies. But when it all comes down to it, we are our own person. We have a choice in who we are and who we want to be. We can fully become our parents if we want to and that is ok, or we can also choose to not be our parents. We can see who they are and learn from that.
  • Money is nice. But money is not as important as we make it seem. Money is not the be-all-end-all of who we are. It is nice to have money so that you can eat, purchase clothes to wear, pay your bills, and exist with little to no hassle. Everyone should have enough money to do that.
  • Education matters a lot, says the boy who did not like school and only went to college because his parents did not and he wanted to be different than them. Education impacts who we are and where we get to in our lives. We need to focus more on providing education to all ages. We need to make sure that this education is free and accessible to everyone. We need to embrace lifelong learning in our world. We may be “out of school” but we should never really be out of school.
  • Love everyone at all times even though we have our differences. An open heart and an open mind lead to a better life.