Category : Books-Non-Fiction
Sub Category : Biography
High School 2001-2005
After years of being scared, timid, and not knowing who or where I was among my peers, I had found an identity I felt comfortable wearing. It, at least, matched my growing, thick hair. I had always kept my dark hair as long as my parents would let it grow, which wasn’t all that long. By my sophomore year, acting out the persona given by my friends, my hair was nearly touching my shoulders.
I wasn’t yet aware of my “all or nothing” personality, with my mind being too focused on trying to forget what others were thinking or feeling. I never saw how clear it was that I had worn someone else’s heart on my sleeve when I truly believed it was my own.
Amongst my close friends something placed me as the “typically weak, quiet, not quick-to-the-punch, but has a big heart” guy. My reserved, untalkative self may have had put me in this position, I’m not sure…
...it had everything to do with it.
Nevertheless, if my friends and others would know me as the “burnout hippies,” I would be the biggest, stereotypical epitome of what that meant. I saw it being all about the music, the twenty-minute-long, improvised, mostly instrumental jams, they called music. After listening to several bands, I discovered something I truly liked about it. Being a musician, I respected the musicianship and how most of the stuff I was listening to had been made-up on the spot. But something more incognito had hooked my unconsciously addicted self—something I believe only musicians, or having a musical background, can pick up. It’s the same thing I found in every music genre that entered my now naked ears.
A song was good if it had the pop-sounding, melodic, but divergent notes harmonizing with each other; like when a guitar picks the same few notes repeatedly while the bass guitar sticks with the chord progression, or when the guitar plays ascending notes, while the bass guitar descends. Its beautiful. I can feel it in my heart as it leaves a mass of goosebumps on my arms.
Today, after taking ecstasy during the numerous times I’d seen these bands, I can recognize it since both feelings are quite similar. Along with the warmth in my heart and goosebumps along my arms, I get a tingling sensation in the back of my neck every time I hear a particular part in these songs. If it lasted longer than the two seconds I feel it, I would think someone had laced me with ecstasy or MDMA.
It was during the summer of my junior year when I grew tired of the “jam band-hippie” phase. Inside, there was still a need to hear the fast-paced, heavy and loud music I had identified with and believed spoke to me during the nightmare that was the middle school. I recognized what I had liked about the jam bands was the nostalgia, which reminded me of the many times my dad and I had driven into town “running errands.” He would leave the radio on one station that played nothing but “oldies” rock—Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Steely Dan, etc. Throughout my life, there’s always been an older person who asks, “How do you know this music?”
I still give them the same answer, “I was born in the wrong decade.” It gets a laugh most of the time.
The dramatic change in character wound up being one of the best decisions a high school student like me could me; however controversial it looked. I wore the hippie, jam band-look as if it were forever going out of style, like the “emo-vampire-look” should. In school, I had a backpack made of hemp; I wore a tan t-shirt with a pot leaf in the middle. Basically, I had stolen the look from “Slater,” a character played by Rory Cochrane in Richard Linklater’s “Dazed and Confused,” they also filmed in Austin, Texas—Watch this movie and pay attention to this character. That was who I was, and I played it to a tea.
I was also in a “jam band.” Before the pop-punk band I played drums in had stopped getting together, two of my friends who had taken up instruments and I played a diverse mix of covers from bands like The Beatles, Incubus, Zeppelin. I played guitar with them until the day another guitarist—let’s call him Fred—had come over to jam. I then switched over to my drum set. This was when I had received the most shit, being a “hippie” playing in a punk band. But it was all in fun since we were all friends.
If you didn’t figure it out, the music I was listening to at the time had always determined my identity. Today, it still has this control. I can change my mood in an instant by listening to a particular song. If I’m angry at someone and want to keep that anger, I’ll throw on some metal, if I want to get rid of the anger I listen to the opposite, something that puts in me in a calm, understanding mood. My favorite had always been holding onto my sadness, which is easy to do with my music. Eventually, my depression became too much. I hated it, for it wouldn’t leave me alone. I still deal with it today, but in a much healthier way. I believe I’ll always be, what Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins sings, “I’m in love with… My Sadness!”
After the punk band broke up at the end of our sophomore year, I had made a life-changing decision. I was dating an older girl whom I had met in art class—and had made all the moves with my insecure ass—when I grew tired of my long, girly hair. On my sixteenth birthday, it had it all chopped off.
People could now see my whole face; I actually looked like a “guy.” I had worn a hat almost every day, which I thought made it hard to notice. But it was almost immediately, I noticed other girls looking at me and whispering. I kept thinking something must be on my face. That wasn’t it though.
I had become the drummer in a band known throughout, not just our school, but throughout Austin, with our many gigs downtown, and a “cutie” among the ladies of our school. I even had a fucking “fan club.” This group of underclass girls would follow me around, whispering, giggling, and blushing whenever I looked at them. It surprised me, not only that things like this were real, but that it was happening to me!
I had become popular nearly overnight. But, there had still existed a problem I had forgotten. Even though I had been dating someone, my brain still lacked any knowledge being a social person. I couldn’t converse with anyone I didn’t already know, especially with the other sex whom had just realized my existence.
In my junior year of high school, I discovered an answer to this problem. But it ended up being another temporary fix and the start of a nightmare that would last for years.
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