Young Blood Brings Old Rivalry to Life

Oftentimes, it is said you don’t truly appreciate something until it’s gone. Well, in the case of the Red Sox and Yankees rivalry the past couple years, it’s hard not to appreciate if you’re a fan of either team.

The games between the two are second to none in baseball. The crowd cheers a little louder. A strikeout in the first inning that may seem meaningless in other games could send the crowd into a frenzy. Spectacular catches, big hits and home runs are almost expected, yet no less exciting. As much as chants such as “Yankees suck” and “Boston sucks” are uttered, deep down the crowds know the other team is actually very good.

Though it had been relatively dormant since the days of the 2004 ALCS, the competition between the two has been revitalized with young talent on both sides. Names like Betts, Benintendi, and Devers for the Sox and Judge, Severino, and Sanchez for the Yankees have replaced the likes of Big Papi and Manny, Arod and Jeter.

While baseball may not be as popular as it used to be, that doesn’t make the division races of this year and last year any less fascinating to the avid fans of both sides. To give an idea of just how special the two teams are this year, here are some quick facts:

  • Both teams have had 17-1 stretches at some point this year, something no other team in the MLB has done thus far and something both teams hadn’t done in the same year until now.
  • The teams are numbers 1 (Red Sox) and 3 (Yankees) in the league in runs scored, numbers 2 (Red Sox) and 3 (Yankees) in run differential, and numbers 1 (Red Sox) and 2 (Yankees) in winning percentage. The list could go on in regards to those league wide stats.
  • Since May 1, the Red Sox and Yankees have been separated by 2.5 games or less (the Red Sox are currently 2.5 games ahead of the Yankees but only one loss separates the two).
  • The Red Sox were the first team to get to 25 wins this year, with the Yankees right behind them two days later (May 6 and May 8 respectively). The last time the two were the first to 25 wins was 1994.
  • The season series, currently 5-4 Yankees, is as close as it can get.
  • They are doing all this with first year managers

As you can see, there are some pretty compelling stats between the two teams. An avid baseball fan or not, it is easy to see just how good both teams are with even just a cursory look at any stats.

With the Sox having won the division in both 2016 and 2017, they have proven they are a real threat to the Yankees if they want to get to and win the World Series. It is fun to know that they are keeping an eye out for what the other is doing each night or day as they play their own games (unless it is one of the 19 times they play each other).

There is almost an assumption by both that the other is going to go out there and win, so the levels of play by both teams are elevated. As I watched the Red Sox last night, I heard Sox player Brock Holt explain how if the teams were in another division, they most likely would have it wrapped up by now. That is not the case, however, with them both being in the same division playing at a level only the Houston Astros are matching.

All stats and numbers aside, both teams are very fun to watch. Yes, I do admit I enjoy watching the Yankees play. Players like Aaron Judge and Didi Gregorious are likeable guys, not only because of how they look like they are just out there having fun on the field, but because they do things like comedy skits surprising fans around the city. Having been to both ballparks numerous times (Fenway much more, of course), the atmospheres of both have special feels to them. For the first time in a long time, both fanbases are legitimately excited about their teams knowing they have a real shot at winning it all.

With the All Star break, the unofficial halfway mark of the MLB season, around the corner, the Red Sox and Yankees sit 2 and 3 with 16 and 14 percent chances respectively to win the World Series according to Five Thirty Eight. The only team with a better chance is the defending champion Houston Astros.

While some Red Sox fans may feel differently, I have to admit I am in some ways glad the Yankees have as good a team as they do. It certainly has piqued my interest more than  recent years and brought back memories of old. With the two teams playing 3 games at Fenway to end the year, it really could come down to the wire, and there is a real possibility the two could meet in the playoffs for the first time in 14 years. Even the most nervous of nervous nelly fans wouldn’t have a problem with that.

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Life: A Balancing Act

Sitting here at the Boston Public Library, it’s been a month and a half since my last blog post. Having been without a laptop, it hasn’t been as easy to write. However, since I just got a library card, I may be updating it more frequently.

I could make a recap of living in Boston for the past month and a half, but I’ve decided not to do that. Well, in some ways, I am. I wanted to go back to the idea of balance I posted on Facebook a couple of weeks ago.

What is balance? Yes, we know the dictionary definition (or definitions) of it . There is balancing on a tightrope, something hanging in the balance, or a bank balance, to name a few. The balance I’m talking about, however, is having balance in (hopefully) every aspect of life.

Having balance in life in every aspect is a near impossible task. Well, perfect balance is. A friend and I were talking about the very topic of balance a couple of weeks ago after I made the post. He estimated that being aware you need balance in life is only around 35 percent of the battle. The rest is actually taking steps towards balance or having that balance.

Lately, I’ve found how important balance is while living in a city like Boston, especially in the financial sense. I’m someone who loves to go to sporting events, concerts, you name it. As much as it can be a good thing to go to those events, I would price myself right out of the city if I took advantage of its offerings too much. I still have yet to go to a single Bruins game due to the expensive tickets. It’s a blessing and a curse they’re playing so well.

Another area of balance I am conscious of is the balance between working and having time to relax. Since I am only scheduled for 32 hours, I would like to pick up at least 1 or more shifts a week. There is, however, a point of going overboard. I don’t feel I have yet, but I have to keep it in mind.

When it comes to groceries and food, another juggling act takes place. Making sure my stomach and wallet work in harmony is not an easy task. What I mean by that is spending enough so I don’t go hungry, but not going overboard to the point of spending more than I should. Again, the idea of taking advantage of the culinary offerings of the city, while at the same time not living beyond my means, comes into play.

With the balance of my hour of time on the computer winding down, I am afraid this post must come to a close. I need to  find a balance going forward between handling work and other responsibilities and making time for this blog since it is something I love to do. Until next time. I wish all who read this a semblance of balance on this day and all days forward.

I Won’t Forget the Good Times

In this town since I was five

I grew so much and learned to drive

I’ve run through every major street

To leave them all is bittersweet

The hills I know them all too well

Sometimes they’re heaven and sometimes hell

In this house for 18 years

I’ve had moments of joy and shed some tears

Vinatieri’s kick sailed through the uprights

It was a moment of pure delight

I was in this house when the curse was reversed

I had a date which was my first

Playing baseball at the end of the street

Those forever summers sure were a treat

But the time has come to move to the city

Should I cry or sing a ditty?

EL will always be there when I come back

I’ll think about the good times as I get ready and pack

 Write Your Own Story

Last night, when Tom Brady was being interviewed after winning yet another AFC Championship game, he said something that struck me. When asked about how he did it, Tom talked about how Belichick preached this specific team writing their own story. He knows each team is different and said this individual team had to find a way to get it done.

Now, Brady could have talked about how great he is or how many championships they’ve won. Yet, he stayed in the moment and talked about how the sole focus was on this game and this team. In the movie “Creed”, Sylvester Stallone tells Apollo Creed’s son while training him to take it “one step, one punch, one round at a time.” It seems like all the greats are able to do that. Focusing on the present challenge rather than thinking of how much they have accomplished is the best way to do it.

Recently, I wrote a post about the joys of running and how it mirrored life. In an ironic twist, I was sidelined for around a month right after that with a foot injury. I thought was a stress fracture, but after doctor visits and testing, I found out it wasn’t. The problem, I learned, was a lack of stretching and foam rolling, especially after the runs.

I have recently gone on a couple very short and slow run/walks. After the first one last week, I felt like Rocky celebrating at the top of the steps. It may seem silly, as the run was neither long nor fast, but I felt like I had accomplished something great. I enjoyed the act of running greatly by simply focusing on that run and not trying to do too much. I stayed in the moment and was happy to be running at all after taking time off.

The process of going to the doctor and getting x-rays and bone scans, coupled with not running, seemed like forever. However, I stuck with it and the foot pain has now gotten better. I have realized as you get older, you have to be more careful with stretching before and after running. When I was younger, I would take it for granted and not always stretch after or warm up too much. I didn’t have any issues really. Now, when I had the foot issue, it made me think twice and I have treated things a little differently.

Bill Belichick seemed happier than ever celebrating the Patriots’ win last night. A usually stoic figure who shows little to no emotion even in the happiest of times for the team, Belichick was seen hugging coaches, smiling, clapping wildly, and raising his fists in the air. A truly rare sight.

He was genuinely happy in the moment for this team and the way they played, mounting a 4th quarter comeback by rallying together on both sides of the ball. As Brady said, he preached writing their own story. It wasn’t about “let’s get this win so we can have a chance to get a 6th Super Bowl victory.” The real message was about staying in just that game and playing the best they could. The true happiness came from enjoying just that moment and how the team was able to come together to write their own story.

For me, while running, it shouldn’t be about thinking how I ran a certain amount of miles in the past or ran this or that time. It’s easy to get caught up in that, but it really is about writing the story for that specific run. Whether it is one mile or 16 miles, whether I run fast or slow, the message is the same. That way, you can truly enjoy every run. Every run has its own story and challenge. The weather may not be great one day. You may feel more tired one day than you did yesterday. Yet, writing the story for that one run is all you can do.

This message doesn’t have to just apply to running. It’s one anyone can learn from and apply to their daily life. Don’t think about what has happened in the past and compare and don’t think about what may happen in the future. Simply write the best story you can for today and you’re unlikely to go wrong.

Fast Car

Dissecting the lyrics of a song or poem and looking for meaning in it that I can relate to has always been enjoyable for me.  I’ve always loved the song Fast Car by Tracy Chapman and heard it recently while at work, so I decided to do something a little different and talk about the song and what it means to me.

It may seem simple on the surface, but it has a well thought out and relatable story. This story really is the heart of the song and what makes it so popular in my opinion.

Nowadays, you see a big focus on electronic music production and crazy vocal runs. Don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of today’s pop music. However, I think the most beautiful and touching songs I’ve heard are acoustic versions that are stripped down to just vocals and a piano or guitar.

First off, at the beginning, there is a subtle little cymbal sound you hear which in a way foreshadows the soft tone of the song. It has the same guitar loop throughout the song. This guitar gives me a feeling of nostalgia, a bit of sadness, yet is soothing as well. Maybe it’s because it sounds similar to the song Return to Pooh Corner by Kenny Loggins which brings me back to my childhood where I read/ watched Winnie the Pooh frequently. The nostalgia also comes from her reflecting on seemingly better times during the chorus.

Going along with the theme of simplicity, the vocals are soothing, yet not too complex. You don’t hear any attempts on Tracy’s part to do too much when she is singing. She is able to convey the same feelings of nostalgia and sadness the guitar does without “wowing” you with her vocals.

I am a big fan of songs that are able to have a narrative which evolves throughout. Fast Car does that really well. Woven into the song are tales of failed or strained relationships. A relationship between the narrator and someone who they are apparently dating is the central focus.

It begins with the narrator yearning for more out of life, something that everyone has experienced at some point.

“You got a fast car. I want a ticket to anywhere.”

When I hear those opening lyrics, I imagine a bright-eyed young kid who wants to get out of town. To the narrator of the song (the bright-eyed young kid), this fast car which is owned by someone they apparently are dating is a way to escape; the freedom they’re looking for.

It talks about driving in a fast car in the chorus and “speed so fast I felt like I was drunk.” A feeling of pure joy and bliss. Here, the narrator feels they could do anything and talks about feeling like they could be someone.

There is a struggle at the beginning where the narrator is trying to scrape together money for a better life essentially and hopes their partner will be able to pull their weight and get a job too. In the midst of that is a sad tale of her father having a drinking problem, her mom leaving him, and this main character having to take care of him.

The pre-chorus, which again is a foreshadowing of what’s to come, sings, “You got a fast car. Is it fast enough so we can fly away? We gotta make a decision. Leave tonight or live and die this way.” Here, the narrator realizes they can’t keep going the way they’re going; things have to change.

Throughout the song, the narrator seems to evolve, while the partner stays stagnant. Towards the end, they say how they have a job to pay the bills, while the partner is staying out late at the bars and getting drunk and neglecting their kids.

“I’d always hoped for better. Thought maybe together you and me would find it.”

It seems to me this fast car was a false sense of hope the narrator had placed in the owner of the fast car. Being in that car, driving with them and feeling like they could be someone tricked them into thinking they could build a life with this person. In some way, they associated the feeling they got from riding in the car with the person, when in reality, it was just the car. In other words, the car was just for show and the partner/ owner of the car apparently didn’t have much more to offer.

I like the subtle shift in the lyrics at the end. Instead of saying “we gotta make a decision” and “Is it fast enough so we can fly away?” like it did earlier, Chapman writes, “You gotta make a decision” and “Is it fast enough so you can fly away?” This is the narrator’s way of telling their partner it’s no longer about them being a team unless they’re able to hold up their end of the bargain.

In a sad yet clever way, the end of the song mirrors what the narrator’s mom went through. The narrator seems poised to leave their partner due to problems they have with alcohol and not working, just like their dad.

At the same time, I enjoy how the ending is a “cliffhanger”, one that is open to speculation. It may not seem like things will turn out too well in this relationship, but to the optimist, there is some lingering hope.

Just be Willing

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about the term willingness and its importance in life. I didn’t really have a topic for this blog today for a while, but then decided I just had to be willing to sit down and write. This topic of willingness popped into my head not too long thereafter.

I’ve been watching a podcast called Hashtag Positivity where they do a word association game each episode, saying what a certain word means to them in their own words, not the dictionary definition. So, to me, willingness is a catalyst. A catalyst for getting a job. A catalyst for making positive changes in your life; whatever you want to think of it as a catalyst for.

Lately, I have found myself more willing to take positive steps in my life. I have been more willing to reach out to people if I am experiencing difficulties. I have been more willing to take steps to correct issues, such as calling the doctor recently to set up an appointment regarding a possible stress fracture in my foot. That, in turn, forces me to be more willing to try other forms of exercise such as swimming or going back to my rowing days and erging (using the rowing machine).

Without willingness, nothing would really be accomplished. It may seem simple, but if you aren’t willing to take the first step towards something, you aren’t really going to get very far. Going back to running (which I unfortunately probably won’t be able to do for a number of weeks now), each run starts with an attitude of willingness to take that first step and get out the door, whether you feel like it or not.

You’d be surprised at how well things can go. I have had some of the best runs or experiences when I didn’t think they would go well, yet I was still willing to try. For a long time, I wasn’t willing to start this blog. Almost a year after the first post, it’s been viewed over 1,000 times total and been read in 27 different countries.

Now, those numbers are not going to set any records, but it is still satisfying to remember how back before I started writing, I thought I wouldn’t come up with anything interesting enough, or nobody would read it, or that I would stop soon after starting.

If I wasn’t willing to push through that self-doubt and fear, I wouldn’t be coming up on one year of the blog and wouldn’t have been able to see how great and therapeutic writing can be. I am glad I’ve been able to find a place where I can be pretty open and honest about my feelings and what I go through. It’s also great to have the freedom to write about lighter topics, such as going to the Red Sox or concerts.

The first time I went to New York City by myself, I had some self-doubt and fear as well. That day, I went to the Yankees game by day and saw Halsey by night. I remember being nervous about navigating the city by myself. It turned out to be a great day, one I look back on fondly still. NYC became, as I referenced earlier, somewhat of a home away from home; a place where I would go to get away and experience an exciting, bustling place. One that is much different from good old East Longmeadow. It wouldn’t have become that, however, if I let the fear and doubt that crept up into my mind take over.

I am excited to see where my willingness will take me next. Whenever self-doubt or fear creeps in, I can now remind myself to just be willing. Looking back at my life, this willingness isn’t really newfound after all. It’s something that’s been there all along, yet has manifested itself more lately. Part of that has to do with me starting to see more positive benefits of being on medications for over a year now. Part of it has to do with trying to come to terms more with my mom’s death. Whatever it is, I am glad to have more of a positive outlook on things now.

So, the next time you’re unsure about something, whether it is starting a blog, learning a musical instrument, or asking that person on a date, remind yourself to just be willing. You never really know where it may take you.

Running Mirrors Life

As I have been getting back into running in the last couple months, I’ve begun to think about the parallels between it and life. When you stop and ponder, there are a lot of lessons to be learned from running, just as in life.

I started running when I was around 12 or 13. At first, it was a struggle. I barely even made it a mile or much more than that. I eventually got to the point where I could do a 2.4 mile race in Springfield at Van Horn Park called the Child’s race for kids 15 and under.

Soon, I progressed to running cross country at East Longmeadow High School, eventually building up to being able to run as much as 16 miles at one point. It took a long time to get there (around 4 or 5 years after I started running), but it was well worth it. I did longer runs of 10 or more miles every Sunday during cross country and the summers in my junior and senior years of high school.

The long runs became a time of peace for me. A time when I didn’t have to think about anything but running. Sometimes, they seemed to drag on during hot days or days that were bitterly cold. However, there were times where everything just flowed perfectly and it seemed like I could run forever.

Isn’t that how life works, too? There are days where you feel like you can’t go anymore. Days that seem to drag on forever and nothing is going right. Much like running, where certain runs felt like I couldn’t settle into a good pace at all; I was constantly struggling to get into any rhythm.

Then there are days in life where everything seems to go perfectly. You go to a concert of your favorite artist and they play all the right songs. You go to the Red Sox and Jon Lester throws a no-hitter. Without those bad days, you wouldn’t be able to appreciate the good ones. Just like you can’t appreciate those great runs without having some mediocre or bad ones mixed in.

To quote the famous running book Once a Runner (which I unfortunately haven’t actually read), “You don’t become a runner by winning a morning workout. The only true way is to marshal the ferocity of your ambition over the course of many day, weeks, months, and (if you could finally come to accept it) years. The Trial of Miles; Miles of Trials.”

The gist of this quote was that everyone wanted to know the secret of this runner who was quite good. Was there a certain workout he did that nobody knew about? Was there some special way he trained? The answer, they came to find out from running with him, was that there was no real secret. He simply put in the work every day; he literally pounded the pavement more than most were willing to. It wasn’t about the pace or workouts as much as it was just being consistent.

Looking back to high school, this quote could definitely be applied to my training. After a reasonably good freshman year of cross country, I took things for granted going into my sophomore year and didn’t train all that much during the summer. I quickly paid for it.

Running isn’t all that forgiving. You will be surprised at how quickly you can lose everything you had trained for in a relatively short amount of time when you stop running. Just like in life, when if you’re not consistent with something, you won’t be all that successful.

My times weren’t necessarily worse my sophomore year, yet they weren’t all that much better. Runners who I was close with or would beat my freshman year who trained more consistently than I did left me in the dust in all the races, no matter how much I tried to hang on.

Finally, I’d had enough and realized the only way to get better was to train more. A lot more. I had a fire lit under me due to failure. There was no magic secret. I simply went out there most days and ran, whether I felt like it or not. Gradually, I got better. My junior year, my times dropped a lot and I got the most improved runner award. By my senior year, I was the number 7 runner on the team, getting into the last spot for the Western Mass. Championship. It had been my goal since freshman year. As I was never the fastest runner on sheer talent alone, it was all because of consistency that I was able to improve so much.

During college on the rowing team at UNH, I ran less, but was still in pretty good shape and could still do longer runs/run at a reasonable pace when I did run. However, after college, I began to run and exercise less. Suddenly, after 8 years of running in high school and rowing in college, I had nothing to train for. There was no team to push me anymore. No workouts were given to me, and there was no upcoming race to train for. I still did run some or workout, but it didn’t really feel the same.

Although I have begun running more (only around 2 or 3 days a week right now compared to the 6 or 7 I used to do), it still doesn’t feel quite the same. I certainly can’t run as fast as I used to right now, but that doesn’t seem to bother me as much. It doesn’t really seem to bother me as much, either, that I’m not running as far as I used to. What I am happy about is that I’m running at all.

You see, going with the flow is really the best thing you can do in both running and life. When you force things to happen in life, forcing that relationship you really want to happen or really obsessing over getting a certain time or pace when you’re running, it doesn’t seem to work out too well. Lately, I have been trying to just run. To just enjoy the time and distance I am running, no matter how slow or short it may be. The best runs, I have found, are the ones where you just let things flow. Those long runs that seem like you could keep going forever, or those faster runs where it feels like you’re flying and will never come back down.

Although I have gone through a lot of struggles in life already which I have referenced in previous blog posts, I have begun to take a new attitude towards it due to the lessons running has taught me. You can’t expect to go out there and run 10 miles right away, nor can you expect to run 10 miles after not running in a while. At least not in my case. I have to tell myself, too, that I can’t expect things to happen like moving to New York or somewhere else like I want to without being consistent at saving money, at trying to find a job I like that pays reasonably well, at doing all the little things.

The Trial of Miles; Miles of Trials.

It’s Not Always Rainbows and Butterflies…

Upon graduating from college, I was nervous about my future. Like most graduates, I didn’t know what it would hold. I didn’t have a job lined up, or really a solid idea of what I wanted to do for a career. Nonetheless, I expected things would work out relatively quickly. I expected I would move to some big city, hopefully Boston, and have a great job. I expected I’d likely find some great romantic relationship within a reasonable amount of time as well. I didn’t necessarily imagine my life would be perfect. However, I didn’t forecast I’d living at home 3 and a half years later, without a clear career path in sight.

I guess I didn’t really plan for the unexpected. I didn’t expect my mom would die from cancer as soon as she did. I didn’t expect I would be diagnosed with bipolar and face many challenges to go along with it. I didn’t really expect it would be as difficult a transition as it has been to go from being surrounded by friends and teammates on the rowing team at UNH to living at home where most friends from before college have either moved away or I’ve lost touch with them.

Recently, I’ve had this thought in my head that it feels as if I haven’t really started any new chapter after college. Up until now, there was the chapter of growing up, then high school, then college, and then, well, there is now. I don’t really know what to call it, though. I haven’t established a career, haven’t moved out of the house to “make it on my own” and haven’t really built any new friendships or relationships for the most part. I feel like I’ve been caught in this weird no man’s land, in between college and making it into the “real world.”

Up until recently, I had a lot of nostalgia for college, and maybe that is a part of why I haven’t fully moved on and started a new life yet. I had in my head a wish I could go back to those days. That things were simpler and easier back then. I didn’t have as much worries, I would think to myself.

The funny thing now, though, is that desire to go back isn’t really there anymore. I now see even though there were a lot of great times, it wasn’t all roses. Romanticizing some part of your life is an easy thing to do. It’s much harder to analyze it objectively and think maybe it wasn’t all you once thought it was cracked up to be. Now, I’m not saying it wasn’t a great time and that I didn’t have a lot of great experiences, but I am saying I have realized more and more there is no sense dwelling in the past.

I will be the first person to admit a big reason I am still living at home is my money spending habits. I have always been a relatively impulsive person, manic or not, which has caused me to be a not so thrifty spender. Oftentimes, I have bought concert or sports tickets last-minute, usually pretty impulsively. The last impulsive purchase, which I mentioned in a Facebook post Saturday, was the meet and greet for Demi Lovato this coming March. Now, it’s not like I didn’t know about it leading up. I knew the day it was going on sale in advance, but didn’t know the price. It was, however, impulsive in that I saw the price, knew it was more than I should spend, yet immediately bought it anyways knowing it would sell out fast. After an initial surge of excitement, I knew I had made a financial blunder. Not that I am not looking forward to meeting her, but I spent money well beyond my means.

You see, even when you think things may be looking up, when you may think you have everything under control, there’s a fine line between being positive and being overly optimistic. When I started taking medications for bipolar a year ago, I thought, “Great! Now everything is fixed and my life will take off!” Obviously, that hasn’t really been the case. When things didn’t happen quickly, I became a bit depressed for a period of time. I wrote in an earlier post how I had fixed my spending habits; I’d learned the value of saving money. Well, that hasn’t exactly been the case up until now.

I’m certainly not saying I haven’t had a lot of great experiences over the last few years. I definitely have, and am grateful. However, there has to come a point where I realize I can’t keep shelling out money for things I really can’t afford. I have made that statement before in the past, but the importance of this matter has reached a fever pitch, if you will. Unless I want to live at home forever, which I’m sure nobody wants to be the case, I have to start realizing what is really important when it comes to spending money.

As much as there have been unexpected/ negative things happen in my life, the point of this post isn’t to dwell on them or say how sorry I feel for myself. There are still a lot of positives I can identify, even though my life hasn’t exactly been a smooth ride since graduating from college.

For one, I still have a chance at life. As simple as it may seem, I have to be grateful I was able to get through my mom’s death. I have to be grateful I was able to get through the worst of my bipolar when it was untreated, along with coming to terms with being diagnosed with it. I have started to run again slowly after not being very active for a period of time, which is something I can be positive about and build on.

As frustrating as it may be to not have a career path right now, it is somewhat exciting. The possibilities are still wide open. Before my dad got his current job as a paraprofessional, I told him it only takes one interview or company to like you to get a job. It turns out he only had to go on one interview in order to get hired. I have to remind myself of that, as it is easy sometimes to dish out advice and not really take it to heart in your own life.

I am grateful for the support I have received from friends and family members. There are a lot of people who really do care, even though I can tend to trick myself into sometimes thinking I am not all that loved at all. Without people caring about me and noticing when things were amiss, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Things would be far worse. I may not have the same chance at life I mentioned earlier.

The point of my post, as the title says, is life isn’t always perfect or what you expect it to be. Although things haven’t happened at the speed I initially thought they would, I still have faith the things I expected upon graduating college will come sooner or later. I have faith things work out how they’re supposed to, even if you don’t see why when you’re in the thick of things. All I can do really today is try to learn from the mistakes I have made in the past, along with being as positive as I can about the future.

 

 

Meeting Halsey

Saturday night, I had the pleasure of meeting the singer Halsey, aka Ashley Frangipane, at the Prudential Center in New Jersey. I will tell the tale of the meeting, but I thought it would be good to give some background about how I became a fan and why I wanted to get the VIP.

As most reading this probably know, I have bipolar. Halsey has bipolar as well, and has been pretty open about it. She’s also done a great job of advocating for mental health. For this reason, aside from her artistry, I feel she is a person I can identify with and gain inspiration from.

My passion for her as an artist all started when I saw a girl do a cover of Halsey’s song “Colors” on YouTube in September of 2015. A song about a complicated love story that is filled with passion and heartache, it immediately caught my ear. I looked up the song and fell in love with the way Halsey sang it. Her voice was so beautiful and filled with emotion. I began to look up her other songs and became a fan pretty quickly.

Fast forward to October 2015, when it was announced Halsey would be playing at Madison Square Garden as part of her Badlands album tour in August 2016. Since I had loved Badlands, her debut album that came out August of that year, it was a no brainer for me to want to go. The day the tickets went on sale, I hopped on Ticketmaster and got a good seat. It was quite a thrilling feeling, as the show sold out rather fast.

The night of the show, as I detailed in another blog post, was one I was very depressed, and had been for quite some time. Without going into too many details of the concert, it really lifted me up and made me feel alive again. I think my connection with Halsey as a fan definitely grew stronger that night, as I was captivated by how she connected with the audience and gave different speeches throughout the show, one being about how she got her name Halsey during a train ride home from MSG after seeing the Halsey train stop. I was so impressed with her energy and the feeling she gave the crowd. I could tell not only that all the fans there loved her very much, but that she loved all of them back and fed off their energy.

Back on May 8 of this year, the VIP tickets went on sale for Halsey’s current Hopeless Fountain Kingdom tour. I really wanted to meet her and get the VIP, but they went on sale at 10 AM on a Monday. Knowing I would be at work, I was a little nervous. However, I was able to take my morning break at that time. When I got onto the Ticketmaster site, I saw there was a VIP ticket left, which may have been the last one.

My heart pounded rapidly as I clicked on it. It was a little bit of a gamble to buy the VIP because Hopeless Fountain Kingdom wouldn’t be coming out until June, but deep down I knew it would be a great album. Knowing it was not cheap at all yet thinking I had to seize the moment, I went through and paid for it. It was sort of a surreal feeling knowing I was going to meet her. Not only that, but the VIP tickets actually included a viewing platform on the stage itself.

Months passed and I gave some thought to meeting her from time to time, but it never really hit me until two days before the concert when I got an e-mail regarding the VIP check in instructions. Suddenly, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of excitement, as if I was watching a Red Sox playoff game. That is saying a lot, as I am a pretty passionate sports fan. Driving home from work that night, I could only think about that.

The day finally arrived and I hopped on the bus to NYC where I would then catch the train to Newark. I was excited, yet had a good amount of nerves too. What would I say to her? Will I make a fool of myself?

At last, the time to check in arrived. After being checked in and brought upstairs, the clock was ticking as I waited in line to meet her and get the pictures. I again had a surreal feeling, half-joking to myself that maybe she wasn’t really there and it was all a joke. I did talk with others who were going to meet her a bit, and luckily I wasn’t the only one who was nervous or unsure of what to do for the pictures. One by one, the fans who had met her ahead of me came out, each with looks of pure joy upon having just met her.

It eventually got to the point where I saw her tour manager Sheppard standing right outside the photo booth and there was only one person left before me. After he was done, Sheppard gave me the signal to go into the booth. I almost hesitated for a moment, somewhat not believing he was actually gesturing for me to go in and meet her.

Upon entering the booth, my nerves went away when I was greeted with the smiling face of Halsey with her arms outstretched for a hug. It was such a great and comforting feeling. She then said she liked my shirt and asked what poses I wanted to do. I didn’t come up with the final four until moments before, but I told her the ones I had in mind. She was so great and cheerful throughout. She then asked if I had come alone and told me not to worry, as I would make friends anyways. The security wanted to make each meet and greet pretty quick as there were a decent amount of people in line, but she gave me another hug as we parted and said “bye sweetie.”

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One of the VIP pictures

I heard many others saying how kind and thoughtful she was with them as well. She really seemed to appreciate the fans for showing her support and making their way to the concert.

The concert went great, as I was literally close enough to touch the stage with about fifteen other people in the standing room VIP viewing area. Seeing Charli XCX, another singer I also like, open for her was a great experience, although her set was quite short. I’d seen Halsey before, but up close was a whole different experience. She came right up to the VIP section several times.

At one point, Halsey talked about going from playing a show of a little over a thousand people to selling out Madison Square Garden in just 9 months. “I didn’t do this, you guys did. You need to get fans like mine and then you can do it too,” she told the crowd.

As an aside, in my opinion, being a fan of an artist is a more personal and individualized experience than being a sports fan. I just think it’s interesting to discuss a little since I was really a fan of sports first growing up. Rather than liking a sports team because of geography in most cases, you like a musical artist because you feel you can relate to their music in some way. Therefore, you probably have more in common with other fans because it says more about who you are as a person.

During a concert, the artist gets a chance to thank the fans or give a speech or do whatever they want to do, which you don’t see during a game. It’s also unique in the fact that they rely more on fans to get them to where they are. Without fan interest and streams and concert ticket sales, the artist wouldn’t be able to make a sustainable career. Athletes obviously need fans, yes, but they’re more reliant on teams and scouts and coaches to get drafted or get to the pros. For those reasons, I think being a fan of a musician is different and more special than anything else, but that is really another topic.

I could talk about the concert for another whole post really, but basically it was a special one because it was her “hometown” show as she had grown up in New Jersey. A highlight of the show came when she talked about growing up in NJ, stating that she has a deep and special connection with it.

With all the emotions I experienced in the last couple days, I feel somewhat tired still as I write this. However, I am very glad and grateful to have had the experience. It’s not every day you get to meet an artist you really love. Also not every day that I find a singer who I truly enjoy as much as Halsey. The meet and greet/ concert experience only made me more of a fan, and I am excited to see where she goes with her music next.

World Mental Health Day Poem

 

Depression and mania, how do you do?

For a while, I was well acquainted with you

My mind it raced all night long

I stood on the deck and belted a song

I’ll write a movie, I’ll write a book

The consequences got but one look

I could do anything, or so it seemed

I’ll be on The Voice, so I dreamed

Family and friends expressed concern

Anger and confusion began to burn

I thought I was fine, I thought I was great

Yet little did I know, I wasn’t thinking straight

I traveled to places near and far

Going by plane, train, bus, or car

Sleeping little, sometimes not a wink

I gave no thought to what others would think

But then as if a switch was flipped

Lower and lower, my mood it dipped

I sat at home and ignored phone calls

Higher and higher I built my walls

Sadness and despair engulfed my being

I could not believe what I was seeing

I had no hope, my dreams were gone

Scarcely venturing past the front lawn

The spunk, the pep, it disappeared

What will become of me? To myself I feared

Yet the switch came on again with no warning

It was a welcomed change, I tackled every morning

The confidence, the travel, it all came back

Hope and ambition, no longer would I lack

I reached out to people like there was no tomorrow

Eager to share the departure of my sorrow

Instead of being happy for my new state

They began to worry and contemplate

How did this happen so rapid, so quick?

There was no sign, not even a lick

Dumbfounded again at their concern

I had bipolar, I soon would learn

At first with fright and hesitation

I was ready to take on the nation

I fought and fought with all my might

Slowly realizing they may be right

The chemical imbalance in my brain

Doesn’t mean I am insane

Soon I began to take medication

That didn’t come without complication

A new combination proved fruitful

On taking them each day, I remained dutiful

My life’s not perfect to this day

But if you struggle with mental illness, let me say

You’re not alone, not isolated

Many go through this fight

It need not be so complicated

If the treatment is just right