Thursday, May 24, 2012

Circle of Trust

It’s early morning hours at work and I am here, my brain still sleepy waiting for the caffeine to kick in so I can attack my day full-force.  Carpe Diem and all that shite!   

I find my mind wandering and thinking back on a conversation I had yesterday with a colleague about the concept of the “Circle of Trust”: having a sufficient comfort level with the folks in your immediate circle to know that what you say or do within that circle stays there.  In my dayjob, the Circle of Trust is paramount to my work, as I have been given charge of some highly sensitive data.  It almost goes without saying (though people still do – ALL THE TIME), that what is discussed within the confines of a closed room must stay there. 

In my other life, it’s a little trickier.  I encounter people of varying degrees of professionalism and maturity, much of which depends on age and lifestyle.  I know that with my immediate colleagues, my trust level is high as they have an understanding of what can happen when certain bits of information filter out to the masses.  However there are others whom I work with directly or indirectly who still take the approach that some stories are just fodder for idle gossip even though it would be obvious to most others they shouldn’t be spread about.  I was recently burned by this very mindset: someone whom I thought I could trust flapped his gums about an incident involving myself and another person, and before I knew it the story was all over town and coming back to me in the most awkward way possible – via the other party. 

Not cool. 

But still…I gave pause and pondered the situation for what it was: the offending gossiper is young and inexperienced with a holdover schoolboy mentality where he speaks before he thinks.  So I gave him the benefit of the doubt and told him that he can say what he wants, but in the future he needs to be mindful of where his words go.  My only hope is that he will think twice the next time he wants to tell stories about people he knows.   Just like I now think twice about saying anything to him that has any remote chance of coming back to bite me in the arse.  At the end of the day, it was a win-win: valuable lessons learned all around!

The music community is small.  People know each other or at least have heard of each other.  There is a false sense of security in a business where the person next to you will step right over you to get to that next rung in the ladder.  But the higher you go, the further you fall and you might need a soft landing at some point.   Best not to piss anyone off in the process.  My .02.

Monday, May 21, 2012


This blog post is going to get a little personal. I’ve been struggling with it the past few I dare expose myself to this extent, and at what cost? Writing is supposed to be a cathartic and expressive process that allows the author to get what they are feeling down on paper and to leverage life experience for the sake of creativity. Much like a songwriter uses music and lyrics to express themselves and to cleanse themselves of pain, a writer uses words. It is for this reason that I made the decision to share this with you – my few, yet honored readers.

I recently had a conversation with a kind-hearted gentleman – a man of the Church, one who instantly puts strangers at ease with his delicate candor and jovial nature. I’m not exactly a stranger to this man as I’m friendly with his children, but even so – he doesn’t really know me from Eve. Yet somehow I found myself engaged in a conversation with him on a random Friday night about broken people: people who have a hard time figuring out where their place in the world is because they have been hurt and abused by life. I found myself admitting to this man that I didn’t think I would ever find the one to marry. He said to me (and I’m paraphrasing here) “Elizabeth, in a way everyone is broken. When you meet the right one, you will know and God will make it happen.”

Everyone is broken.

Now - I freely admit that I am broken. My heart shattered into a trillion pieces time and again, only to fuse itself back together, but weakened over the course of much heartache and disappointment. I could sit here and tick off the number of people who have wronged me over the years yet somehow that seems counterproductive. And I know there are other people out there who are just as broken, and even more broken than I am. I never once suffered at the hands of an abuser, nor has my life been anything less than blessed and fortunate. I know that my past experiences have – in a way – made me stronger and wiser and I really shouldn’t feel too sorry for myself. But it still isn’t easy. It’s downright difficult sometimes to get out of bed with a smile, to be optimistic and hope that one day I will meet that person who will not only love me for me, but who will appreciate and respect me as well. And someone who can make me stop looking over my shoulder to see who else is coming up from behind because my needs are not being met. So far, that person has eluded me. I thought I found him once, but that wasn’t meant to be and now he is gone forever.

True confession: I have feelings for someone. I won’t say who that someone is and he may never realize who he is for I’m too scared to tell him, nor do I think those feelings would ever be reciprocated. That’s what happens when you are broken: you don’t trust your own heart as it has betrayed you so often. You don’t trust your instincts. You become jaded and pessimistic. My only hope is that one day, I will meet someone that will enable me to overcome those fears, and heal my heart to wholeness again. I may be jaded, but I’m still a hopeless romantic.

Love and devotion all the way, you know?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A little dose of doubt before bed


Just got in from watching three of Seattle’s finest bands perform in one of the city’s best music venues. I knew half the people in that room tonight. I see them out at shows, at mixers, on Facebook. Together, we are working toward a common goal – that is to bring forth a change to the local music scene and put Seattle on the map as a true “City of Music”.

Sometimes it’s overwhelming. The people, the sounds, the egos. Times like now, where I come in late at night tired in body but alive in mind; I can’t settle in for my brain won’t let me until I get down what I am feeling. I feel like my universe is shifting somewhat. I’m moving away from a dreary corporate life, where I am simply a drone among many, to an existence that demands far greater emotional fortitude and wherewithal than I’ve ever been prepared to offer in the past.

Can I do this?

I suppose everyone has those moments where you wonder if you made the right decision…wonder if by raising your hand to volunteer for the mission was your best laid plan. Doubt is a natural emotion after all and there is no shame in feeling doubtful. Having said all that, I do suppose I am ready for this; I am ready to tackle the world and call it my own.

Yes, I can do this.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Building a More Perfect Union

In my line of work, I hear A LOT of music.  Sometimes I have to step back and give myself a break from it as it tends to all run together and sound the same.  Having recently come off a self-imposed hiatus from listening to new music, one of the first places I turned was a band called Ben Union.  Led by a cat called Ben this band first came onto my radar about a year and a half ago when the teenage daughter of a friend of mine visiting from Alaska mentioned she wanted to see this show up on the Hill by a band I had never heard of before.   She waxed on with “OMG! Ben is such a hottie!”  I smiled appreciatively and said if she needed anyone to take her, I would be happy to as I clearly remember a time *not so long ago* when I wanted to go to shows as a teenager and my Pop-eschewing parents wouldn’t take me.
(Remember the NKOTB incident, Mother??)
Anyway, during the ensuing year I heard noise here and there about the band, but didn’t pay it much attention as I was still trying to absorb what was happening around me, attempting to learn what I could about the whole Scene by osmosis.  A chance meeting with Ben a couple weeks ago prompted me to download the band’s album, titled This Blessed Union, Volume 1.   I had been told by a mutual friend that it seemed Ben had run the gamut of life’s difficulties just by the tone set in his lyrics.  At the time I thought “what songwriter hasn’t portrayed that in his music?”  Now that I have heard the album in its entirety several times over, I see what she means.  The lyrics are honest and hard-hitting, giving the listener a peek into the complicated soul of their writer.  Poignantly expressive, Ben is just an honest person.  Having spent a little bit of time with him the past month I know him to be a spiritual man with a deep respect for his faith and beliefs; outgoing and friendly, he has a calm about him that can belie the energetic passion expressed in his work.   I’ve not seen Ben Union perform live, but I understand they are all brilliant showmen who leave the audience in a sticky tizzy. 
My only cause for hesitation after listening to the album was the lyrics might be little too deep to appeal to the commercial masses.  What works in the Northwest, may not fly at the Mall of America.  There is a reason the Katy Perrys and Justin Biebers of the world are so successful…the songs are about as deep as the shallow candy dish in which they are presented to their audience.   These are troubled times and people are looking for escape.  It’s a fine line to walk as a pop songwriter….how far to the edge do you go before you fall off?  Even so, the musicianship is clearly present on all the tracks and provides a catchy, arse-shaking platform for the words. 
I hear that Volume 2 is in the works.  With a resourceful and brilliant management team behind the band, fortifying a talent and tenacity that comes so naturally I’m looking forward to hearing and seeing what is coming Ben Union’s way in the not-so-distant future.   

Side bar - if you are interested in seeing Ben Union live and in person, there's a show this Saturday at the High Dive.  Prepare to get sweaty.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Battle of the Sexes

Whoever said Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus was a bit too optimistic when it comes to the distance dividing the two genders.  This comes to mind as I just had a brief exchange yesterday regarding a female friend who was recently in an "engagement" with another female involving their mutual male friend.  Said male friend summarily dismissed the argument as "you women are so competitive with each other".   In this case, the man in question held his ground on that point and continued to wash his hands of the matter, even after the other party tried to pull him into the tussle.   Eventually the matter resolved itself and neither women talk to each other anymore.  But the guy...well, maybe he would have been better served to mediate the situation rather than stick his head in the sand as he is ultimately the one who now has to dance back and forth between his two friends. 

I think this scenario just serves to further demonstrate how most women will approach these tete-a-tete interactions on an immediate emotional level, always reacting based on how the other party is making them feel.  Likewise, when women see their friends being "attacked" by a third party, they will always react from an emotional angle and immediately come to the defense of their friend.   In reverse, most men tend to evaluate a situation and wait it out, rather than reacting from an emotional place.   Which is the better way?  I really don't know.  There is a saying that "Cooler Heads Always Prevail", but is that truly the case?  I think there is something to be said for instinct and intuition; your initial reaction will almost always be correct.  In my experience, if something (or someone) doesn't pass the sniff test, it's likely there is something rotten at the core.   

Maybe neither side is right.  Chinese philosophy touts the existence of ying/yang: the two fundamental principles definining the balance and behavior of the feminine (yin) and masculine (yang) in people and in nature.  These differences keep life interesting and unpredictable.    It could very well be this is the driving force behind the continuing survival of the human race... this constant "battle" fuels the fire within us and compels us towards each other.  We get off on the challenge of overcoming obstacles and striving towards successful relationships - not just intimate relationships as not all couples are male/female, but how we relate to everyone in every  type of situation we encounter in our day-to-day lives. 

At the end of the day, maybe we just weren't meant to understand each other, but rather to just accept our differences and learn to coexist with each other. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Rock the Ages

"Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter."
- Mark Twain 

Upon entering my fourth decade a year and a quarter ago, I thought back on a time when I was a teenager and 40 just seemed me.  Back then I thought for sure by the time I was 40 I'd be married, with a couple kids, living in New Hampshire a stone's throw away from my aged parents.   Now at 41, I'm single, childless and living 3000 miles away from parents who really aren't that aged. Clearly, God has another plan for me.

I hung out for the first time with a new friend yesterday.  He is a dapper, young, up-and-coming musician with a bright smile and charming disposition.  After a brief meeting the previous Saturday, we decided to get together for a getting-to-know-you beer and game of pool.  Animated chitchat ensued and the subject eventually came around to age.  After trying to laughingly divert him, I admitted I was 41.  He nearly fell down in shock.  You see, good genes and a lifelong obsession with moisturizing & SPF 50 have served me well.  I don't look my age, nor do I act my age.  When I ask people how old they think I am, I get guesses anywhere from 27-34.   

It's ironic that when I was younger I used to loathe my baby face.  I wanted to look as mature as my more sophisticated classmates.  My mother used to tell me "Honey, don't worry.  Someday you will appreciate that beautiful baby face!"  Naturally, I thought she was crazy because moms have to say that stuff,  but alas...Mother was right.  Again.

(Side bar - I laugh now when I think back on an incident that happened with my mom in Target a few years ago.  We were walking through the store joking about something, and I made a snarky comment that prompted a nearby woman to turn to my mother and say "I have a teenager myself at home, so I know what you are going through!".  I was 35 at the time...)

In any event, my new friend shared with me he was feeling a little uncomfortable about turning 26.  I mulled that over for a couple seconds and replied that I recalled that time in my 20s when I felt the same time was slipping away from me and getting older was just a scary proposition. However, with each passing year I am more accepting of my age.  I don't believe that I need to lie about the fact that I am 41, even if I don't look the part, just because of the perception that 40+ is "old".

And I certainly don't feel 41, which in itself can be a bit of a struggle.  Speaking to my boss a couple years ago when I was still 30-something, he told me that things happen when you turn 40; people start taking you more seriously and have greater expectations of you.  I have to say he was right.  Particularly in my corporate life, I feel a certain amount of pressure to conform to how others think I should be acting and doing.  It's certainly put me in a different place than I was just a few short years ago.  That's not to say I am not up for the task, but it requires an adjustment in thinking, and how I approach my work.  That being said, I absolutely refuse to cave completely to what I view as unrealistic expectations rooted in outdated societal standards.

At the end of the day, age really is nothing but a number.  More importantly, how you choose to live your life is what really matters.  Think young, be young.  That's how it goes.