Monthly Archives: July 2017

on happiness

The words “happy,” “happiness,” and “joy” often make people think of goofy, wide grins. These words make people think of celebrations, of people jumping up and down, of pumped fists for a job well done. Happiness and similar words often bring up images of emotional extremes like the ones I’ve mentioned.

However, happiness does not necessarily have to be the active kind of happiness we often see in the media or the Internet. Happiness could be mere contentment and peace, such as when you are in the same room with your SO, doing things together but separately. It could be the way living suddenly stops being a chore, and you see yourself actually look forward to getting things done. It could be a certain liberation from unnecessary burdens that you’ve been carrying for a year or so. It could be a liberation through an unspoken forgiveness.

The world today is full of sadness and despair. How, then, can we live better lives? Well, we should learn to actively seek happiness and actively claim that happiness for ourselves. Seeing that happiness does not always manifest itself as emotional extremes, it is now easier to see that happiness be found in the little things. Happiness can come from the fulfillment of one’s daily tasks. It can come from a newfound appreciation of nature or a hobby. It can come from a better relationship with oneself, friends, and the divine.

Happiness may come from unexpected gifts and surprises. At the same time, it becomes important that we learn to create and seek our own happiness. After all, the world can only do so much. So, do whatever you know will make you happy today. Eat something nice. Chat up that friend you’ve been wanting to talk to for ages. Take a nice stroll down the neighborhood. Forgive someone or make amends. Say thank you for every good thing that has happened, is happening, and will be happening.

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Picks

My first pick was a thin metal pick from a sports-slash-music store, the ones you often find in large malls. It was a birthday gift from my dad, since I didn’t have any at the time (or maybe I lost Dad’s). I used it on our classical guitar, a guitar which for some reason is strung with metal strings. I still believe that the salesman, wanting to make a commission, went to the backroom of Lyric, removed the nylon strings, and slapped on metal ones. Maybe that’s the reason the action was so high and the guitar quite unplayable as a result.

I got another metal pick from a friend as a Christmas gift.

The metal pick gave me a really bright tone. It was metal hitting metal after all. Soon enough, I found that it wasn’t just metal hitting metal. After months of use, I noticed that my strumming has worn off the art on the guitar’s pickguard (which also made me realize why a pickguard was called a pickguard – it stopped the pick from ruining the wood). Oh, this is why most guitarists prefer using plastic picks. I get it now. I quit using the picks and kept them in my wallet for sentimental reasons.

I eventually bought an acoustic guitar, one that was way better than what I had (I still use it now). The guitar came with a few free picks which allowed me to experiment with picks of different thicknesses. I particularly grew fond of one Alice pick that was .3mm thick. It did not hinder my strumming as much as other picks used to do, since it bent as I moved my hand across the strings. The other picks were alright, and saw semi-regular use when I wanted to try something else.

Months later, if my memory is to be trusted, I bought a yellow .78mm Tortex pick and a red Jazz III. This purchase was supported by hours of online research about the best picks… and impulse. I had the money, and I was itching to spend a few bucks, so I said goodbye to a hundred pesos and hello to two new picks. Yay.

At first, the Tortex, which was much thicker than the picks I had, seemed too stiff. It used to mess up my strumming. The Jazz III was the smallest (and thickest pick) I had. I was afraid that it would fall off whenever I’d play.

These were temporary, however. I got used to both picks and would use both on a regular basis, the Tortex for strumming and the Jazz III for lead work. I eventually gravitated to the Jazz III for all-around use once I got the hang of using it for strumming. The Tortex saw use during choir practice and Mass services.

Eventually, I would lose the Tortex after lending it to a friend, who was nice enough to replace it with a translucent Ultex pick and a thicker black Tortex pick. I took a liking to the Ultex, and the Tortex now serves as a back-up pick in my bedroom.

I also lost the original Jazz III during practice, I think, but several have replaced it. I bought red and black ones (apparently, there’s a subtle difference between the two). I bought what I think are bootleg copies in Cubao. There’s something about the shape and the size that makes it ideal for lead and rhythm guitar. It does not bend too much, allowing me to play faster passages. Pinch harmonics are easier with the thumb closer to the strings (though admittedly I haven’t nailed the technique down).

I have five or more picks in my wallet at any given time, though I only use one or two picks (the bootleg Jazz III and the Ultex). I’ll probably be buying more and trying out different shapes, sizes, and thicknesses. There’s always room for more.

shifting gears

these days people say i’m moving forward, that i’m good, that i’ve been making good progress. they haven’t seen all the opportunities i’ve passed up on. they haven’t seen all the people that i’ve had to leave behind. they don’t see you, the one that left, the one that got away, the one that didn’t have to leave had this train wreck that is my life didn’t mess things up a year or so ago. they don’t see that, really, i’m moving too fast and i can’t slow down enough.

is it possible to go back? life has no reverse gears. you can only go back by going forward and around, hoping that she’ll be waiting, hoping that maybe she’ll actually meet you halfway. you can only hope that she hasn’t gotten tired of waiting. you can only hope that your memories were enough for her to stay.

maybe it’s too late to pick up those that i’ve left behind or left me. maybe there’s too much space filled with baggage that you won’t find staying to be bearable for long. maybe you’re in someone else’s car, and they’re playing your favorite songs. maybe their songs are now your favorite songs, merely because those songs remind you of that new person in your life.

my friends have their own friends to keep them busy, entertained, loved. i feel that my circle is shrinking, slowly but almost surely. i’m losing them to jobs, studies, and time itself. i sometimes think that nothing i do makes sense because rarely anyone stays. no one wants to ride shotgun (long-term, that is) and change the songs to fit the mood and basically make me feel less alone.

i won’t stop hoping and trying though.

please wait for me, all of you.

i’ll come back to pick you up.

thank you.

 

Loopers and Looping: An Article That Ends Where It Began

Recently, I sold my former loop pedal, a single-button Mooer Micro Looper, and bought a larger Zoom G1Xon. The G1Xon is a multi-effects unit which has a hundred different preset sounds, all of which can be edited. It can also function as a looper, with thirty seconds of recording time (which is plenty for regular use). The on-board sounds can be used simultaneously with the looping function of the unit.

While the Micro Looper required two quick taps to stop the looped phrase, the G1Xon has a dedicated Stop switch. There’s no longer any need to worry that I have spaced my stomps too far apart, initiating the pedal’s Overdub mode. Having two switches makes my looping a whole lot clearer and easier.

The G1Xon, while a lot better in this regard, unfortunately does not have an Undo feature. I enjoyed being able to record rhythm parts, take them out temporarily using the Undo feature for verses, and bring them back during the chorus. The Undo feature also came in handy whenever I’d mess up a note or fail to play in time. Having no Undo feature in my  new pedal meant I had to play everything perfectly. Any mistake would mean having to start over.

It’s not all so bad, however.

One of the G1Xon’s advantages over the Micro Looper is its many rhythm tracks, covering different styles and genres. The tempo could be set by adjusting the BPM value of the track through the display (Tip: It is possible to find out a song’s BPM through Google. Input whatever value is shown into the G1Xon, and play along to the song’s original tempo.). It is possible to include these in my loops by starting the loop while a rhythm track is playing. This initiates a one-bar countdown, after which the pedal begins recording. Having a drum track to play along with makes it much easier and fun to practice playing in time.

The loop could be stopped independently of the rhythm track. This means that I’m no longer stuck to looping songs that have only one chord progression.  I can now loop a certain progression, solo over it, and stop it to play a different progression. Personally, I think that Sheeran’s “How Would You Feel (Paean)” is a good song to practice on this looper, but whatever works for you. It just requires a bit of anticipation to be able to start and stop the loops at the right moment.

Looping has been really great for my playing. Gone are the days when I’d have to heavily rely on online backing tracks – looping has allowed me to string together my own chord progressions. I’ve been able to practice licks and experiment with different effects and techniques over these chords. Loop pedals also heavily penalize you for bad rhythm, and eventually necessity has forced me to improve my internal metronome. Other inconsistencies and errors are also repeated ad nauseam, and eventually you feel compelled to learn how to fix these errors. Otherwise, you condemn yourself to hearing the same mistakes, over,

and over,

and over.

I guess I’ll have to stop here before it becomes the bad kind of repetitive. I also need to catch up on some sleep; I’ve been staying up a lot recently.

 

Reset

It’s been many months since I last logged in and posted anything on this blog. It feels refreshing to see my posts, emotionally-charged poetry and write-ups, with fresh eyes. Some of them still feel fresh and raw, taking me back to days of happiness, anxiety, and loneliness. Some of the pieces, however, already feel like they’ve been written by someone else.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve forgotten how to write the way I used to. I cannot write in certain styles that I’ve used ad nauseam three or four years ago. Much of my writing has been limited to hundred-and-forty-character tweets, and if I feel industrious enough, a long post about something, usually about love or how the government should be doing a better job. A lot has happened during the past year – heartaches, heartbreaks, and a lot of contemplation.

I’ve tried keeping everything and turning everything around in my head, but I found out that that doesn’t really work for me. Everything seems temporary and fleeting. I’d come to conclusions and scrap everything after a few minutes. I find myself revisiting the same ideas at nighttime. Writing on paper doesn’t work for me, either. I have a bad habit of not getting everything write the first time. At the same time, I hate erasures and the way my hands cannot keep up with my thoughts. Thus, this whole typing thing here (or on Word).

In addition to whatever poems I’ll post, I’ll also be posting my reflections and experiences. I mean a blog about a state of ambivalence should also explain the context, shouldn’t it? I’ll also post how I understand this confusing world. Some posts may appear to be rehashes of certain concepts or ideas, and they may well be. How I understand something may be different from how another person understands it.

So yeah, I’m sorta resetting this blog so that it becomes more less of a poetry collection and more of an accurate depiction of this so-called state of ambivalence. Hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoy writing.