How to Love: #Disneyormusicvideo (Day 2)

In the beginning of my Day 1 blog, I explained the phrase, “Screw the shoot – let’s go to Disneyland,” shared by Dave and I, and definitely desired by all three of us. It’s the type of thing you joke about doing (putting aside what you actually have to do and indulging in an irrational decision) and play out in your head how much fun it’d be to attempt, but don’t actually try because you’re a realistic and rational human being. We’ll come back to that later.

The day began with meeting the incredibly helpful Daniel for some Chick-Fil-A breakfast (you have to start off a full day right) and going over camera details and instructions on how we should get footage to him. Daniel ended up being the nicest guy and had no ulterior motive to helping us out, other than just being a friend to some strangers from out of town with the same passions. We were blessed to have the opportunity to meet him and become friends with him.

Driving was the name of the game for Day 2. A lot of the film called for driving scenes, so we drove around Los Angeles for several hours, trying to get B-Roll of the city as well as shots with the city in the backdrop of myself or Jessica and myself in the car. If you are familiar with Los Angeles, you know how much driving plays a part in life over there, so you can imagine how much I was over driving by the end of our stay. We collected some solid film and turned the car around toward Glendora, gearing up for the evening’s group scene.

After Jessica was dropped off, we went to In-N-Out to talk out the film plan (that being our second time at In-N-Out in two days). The plan was laid out as the following: everyone was going to rendezvous with us at the bottom of the mountain at 5:45, leaving there closer to 6:00, and beginning our short jaunt from the parking spots to the location. That would leave us at least thirty minutes before sunset (at 7:08), and we could get some great footage at the golden hour. That was the plan.

Andreos, Dave, and I waited at the rendezvous spot for 15 minutes before discovering that traffic had waylaid a few extras. That’s okay, we thought – we built in that buffer of time for things like that. So the three of us headed up and sent our location to the rest of the folks so they would know where to park.

After leaving thirty minutes passed the projected departure time, Jessica and the crew finally made it up the mountain, reaching more questions than points on a map. After numerous calls and confused u-turns, they finally made it to the turnoff, and the sun was almost completely behind the hills. We had to adapt quickly, and transformed the vision of a scene at dusk to that of moonlight. Portable lights we packed along for the trip were well worth lugging around at this point.

Originally I had envisioned a group of people partying near an overlook of the city, playing around a fire for this scene. The overlook was incredible – the lights of the city shone like their own electric stars beneath the sky. Being in Southern California presented other complications when it came to the fire we wanted to create. There was a drought at this time, so we had to be inventive around the construction of the fire for this scene. In order to keep my government record unmarred, you’ll have to see the video for more details.

After a lot of stress, work, and my terrible acting, we finished the scene and called it a wrap. The shots didn’t go quite the way we had planned, but we were pleased with what we were able to accomplish and climbed down the hill with starlit smiles on our faces.

Driving down Glendora hills, we ran into Foothill Boulevard, and a rush of nostalgia washed over me with the sweet aroma of donuts. I lived just south of Glendora for two years during college, and facing Foothill head-on brought to mind my youthful indulgence: Donut Man.

Dave, Andreos and I rushed over to the tiny hut that holds the sweetest of treats, and jumped into the line that consumed the parking lot. While in line, Dave – being himself – struck up a conversation with the students in front of us, discovering that one of them was an employee at Disneyland. Dave and I both gave a sidelong look at each other and returned to the conversation. By the time we had retrieved our heavenly pastries, we began to part ways and the Disney employee, Nick, told us, “Hey, this is random, but you guys are really cool, and I know you’re only in town for a few days, but if you have time and want to come to Disneyland for free, you’re welcome to use my guest passes.”

Did you just read that? Because when I heard that sentence from Nick, I had to ask him to repeat it. I shook my head in disbelief and started laughing with Dave, as we both remembered one of our first conversations on the trip: “Screw the video – let’s just go to Disneyland!” That idea had never been realistic until this moment. We couldn’t believe it, and both set our donuts aside so we could properly laugh at the irony of the moment.

The day was a success: the three of us were full of sweets and heading back to Northridge for the night. The next day held Oceanside, and, potentially, a day at Disney.


Catching Up in Portland

Life doesn’t seem to care how old you are – it throws twists, turns, challenges, and joys whether you are 25, 45, or 65.

While in Portland, I had the pleasure of speaking with a good friend of mine who toured with a band for fifteen or twenty years, stopped for a bit to raise a family, and is now a book buyer at Powell’s in Beaverton. Greg has lived in a music-filled world his whole live, moving years ago from California to a small town in Oregon to focus on family and get into songwriting, then relocating to Portland when his kids outgrew their parents’ home and he could pursue his guitar craft in a new way. Embarking on an educational journey, Greg dove into higher education a few years ago, aiming at a music degree, while honing his guitar playing with dreams of another small ensemble to be created at some point. I got to have an incredible conversation with Greg about life and its unexpected turns and surprises.

Greg and I talked a lot about Nashville, how my experience has been, and how much I miss Portland. He has been to Nashville multiple times on tour in the years with his band, and knows of the immense country scene (which I try to ignore as much as possible) and the calibre of players in the city. The thing that struck me most were his thoughts on enjoying life, and choosing not to strive in vain. There is a difference between selfishly focused striving, which brings little long-term fulfillment, and striving toward a goal without losing sight of those around you. The community I’ve found myself in is incredibly unique, unlike any I’ve experienced. My reliability on this community gleans both challenges and solutions. It’s an incredible feeling to belong to a group of people that is diverse and unbreakable. Having friends you can go to at any time with any need or celebration is a security that is very rare. That security piece also creates a comfort that sometimes keeps me from working as hard as I should. I am comfortable and satisfied in the context of this community, so the need for something more wanes, and it becomes even more paramount to stay focused on what I want to accomplish in life, which is where the striving comes in.

Greg also spoke about his goal reorientation. The last five years or so, he’s focused on becoming the best guitar player he can be, in hopes to find a few others with those chops under their belts and create an ensemble with them. In his progress towards this goal, Greg has discovered that he won’t reach the level he’s aiming at for a long time, which, at his age, he’s deemed is a potentially unworthy use of his time. In our discussion, Greg uncovered a somewhat recent realization, which is a return to what comes naturally for him: songwriting. He worked very diligently at the singer/songwriter route while raising his kids, without much return. Despite his goals ultimately being unmet, songwriting fulfilled him and was an outlet that made sense and came innately. It reminded me how important it is to utilize the strengths we have and try to stay centered around what we do best. When we reach outside of what we’re built to do, it aids us in improving character, but drains us and leaves us wanting. Balance is key.

“Are you enjoying it down there?” Greg ultimately asked me. And isn’t that the important thing? 

Life is challenging now, working full-time at my day job, writing at night, emailing, networking, developing my website on my days off…it’s a grind. But the striving is worth the moments of joy, the small successes, and the progress toward my musical goals. Greg also understands the balance of enjoying life and taking time to acknowledge the blessings we have, while trying to answer that other side of the brain that asks, “Is there more to life? What do I do with these feelings, thoughts, and creativity?” Life is good, and it’s a huge blessing to learn from someone who has experienced more life than I have, but is still wrestling with the essential questions of life. I guess we are all doing the same in one way or another.

1️⃣📷 Salt & Straw // Division
2️⃣📷 Evers House // Summertime