Had a pretty interesting (and tiring) week. I don’t know if I can do a proper rundown of events, but here goes nothing…

Sunday – September 27, 2015
Reese Lansangan Recording Session

I got a surprise message from Reese Lansangan that afternoon if was free to once again document that night’s recording session. I can’t really say that it came out of nowhere. No, not really. I read a tweet from Reese to one of the Reese Interns, Mica, that she PMed her on Facebook. I thought nothing of it at the time, until I got Reese’s message.

I said that I could go and shoot. I asked Ling if he was going so I could hitch a ride. He said that he wasn’t sure yet. I thought of just going alone. I’d brave the Sunday EDSA traffic. I’d brave that feeling of being out of place. I’d brave the possible awkwardness caused by my oh-so dreary disposition. I’d brave the woozy, medicated state I was in. I’d brave the nicotine withdrawals my body was going through (I ended up smoking to suppress it.) I’d brave it all. See, the day before, my trigger finger was itching to photograph music. And here comes the opportunity to do that? Oh, I’m game. I’m definitely game.

I messaged Reese on both FB and text and asked her for the details, when and where. No replies. I figured she was busy. I scoured Twitter for possible answers and there was a conversation between her and Ling. Only one answer to my two questions was provided, 7:30pm. I had to assume that it’s in the same studio. It was a safe assumption anyway as that’s where the first recording session I documented was in.

I left the house about an hour and a half before the time given. Ran into a bit of traffic, but nothing I can’t shrug off. Besides, it was raining and I love solitary drives in the rain. I also needed the drive. I needed the time to think. I needed the time to prepare myself. I was going into unfamiliar territory and I needed to prep myself mentally and emotionally.

The first time I documented Reese’s recording session, I was with Ling and he was the driver. I’d like to commend myself for successfully not relying on Google Maps and not getting lost, but that would be a commendation that’s underserved. I had to take a piss break at a gas station that I faultily assumed was at the corner of the main street leading towards the studio. If I didn’t take that piss break, if I decided to hold it in until the studio, I may have gotten lost. After I peed the coffee away, I had this nagging voice at the back of my head that said “dude, this isn’t the right corner.” I listened to said nagging voice and consulted Google Maps. I’m glad I did.

I got to the studio a bit early, around 7:00 pm. I had time to kill so I went to a supermarket nearby to buy a couple bottles of water to help with the wooziness. After killing more time by reading and rereading Tweets and trivial Facebook status updates, Reese finally got to reply to my Facebook message. She stated that she’d be late. That she pushed back the recording time to around 9-9:30pm because she got caught up at a workshop she was in.

I replied that I was already there. She was apologetic. I was a bit annoyed, but the annoyance didn’t really last long. An inhale/exhale after and it was gone. Things happen. I was already there. I can wait in the car some more. No use fussing over things I have no control over.

The rain poured heavily just before 9:00pm. It was a downpour. Kept myself distracted by being paranoid that the rain might cause a flood and my car would be entrenched in rainwater, drowning myself in the process. Kept myself distracted by watching cars pass by hoping it was them. Didn’t spot them. When the rain stopped at around 9:30, I exited the car and went in cos I had to pee again. Afterwards, I checked to see if someone was up in the studio already. I saw Kai in the stairs. Wasn’t sure if it was her at first, but she called my attention and said that they were there already.

I didn’t see them come in. The rain hindered my usually hawk-like eyes from seeing what I was supposed to see. It was upsetting. More upsetting that anything that night.

I climbed up the narrow staircase and opened the door to the studio where Josh and April/TheSunManager (!!!) were already settled in. Reese was inside the studio laying down guitar tracks for “Grammar Nazi.” I sat down to catch my breath, still wondering how the fuck I missed them go in. After a while, I unbagged my camera and started shooting. Reese spotted me through the studio’s heavily glassed window and mouthed “I’m sorry” and was genuinely apologetic for the delay. Whatever frustrations I had was replaced by a sense of relief that I was already there to do what I had to do. That I had another incredible opportunity, and the remarkable honor, to document the inner workings of the album production process of one of my favorite artists. That I get to watch other artists that I admire pitch in ideas and their opinions on the song that was being recorded.

As a music fan, I do consider myself lucky that I get to document Reese’s recording process. Not a lot of people can say that they were there to photograph it, much less witness it.

As far as the photographic documentation went, the colored post process kicked my ass again. I wanted to process more photos in color because I do get the feeling that the subject wants colored photos. Truth be told, I wasn’t really satisfied with the outcome of those photos. The lighting in the studio was also an issue. Maybe it’s just me.

Tuesday – September 29, 2015
Elements Campers Night at Route 196

I’d heard about the gig the week before. I wanted to go, but Route 196 isn’t exactly a stone’s throw away from where I live. You need a long range ballistic missile to propel the stone. The gig had an amazing lineup of mostly singer/songwriters and one band that I love. Bullet Dumas. Reese Lansangan. Clara Benin. Mic Llave. Oh Flamingo.
I posted a status update on my Facebook wall plugging the event. I posted that it’s a can’t miss gig and people from up North should go. I also said that I wanted to go but can’t because Route is far away from me.

I got a message from a high school friend of mine, one that I haven’t seen in years (since high school, I think?) that we should go. I was cautiously hesitant at first. I don’t really do well with people I’m not familiar with anymore. I said yes, anyway, upon further prodding. I’m glad I did. We bonded about life and life’s complications. We had things in common, a shared darkness. Talking to her was almost therapeutic.

Anyway, it was my first time at Route 196 and I had F-U-N. Legitimate fun. The company was instrumental in that. Didn’t feel like I was alone in a crowded place. I got anxiety attacks, but they were minuscule. Saw a lot of familiar faces. Faces that I’ve met and have become friends with in the indie music scene. Met a couple of music photographers I looked up to, as well. One of the bands that I love called me over and hired me to shoot at their EP launch on November. It was a good night.

There were a couple of glitches that night, however. I was just the right amount of drunk so my stuttering was manageable. I was feeling good. I was feeling confident. And I attempted to talk to a crush of mine and…it was embarrassing. I found myself stuttering. I was incoherent, I think. That was glitch number one.

Glitch number two: earlier that day, I read on the gig’s event page that there would be an open mic after the performers. I sent a private message to the gig organizer indicating that I wanted to perform. So it was good and well. I really wanted to sing because I hadn’t sung in quite some time. I needed to sing for myself. I was psyched up already. I didn’t have my usual hesitations and stage anxieties. I was a hundred percent into it. If I haven’t mentioned yet that crush was there, I’m mentioning it now. If I have, I’m mentioning it again.

As it turns out, the open mic was only for Elements Campers. That bummed the shit out of me because A. I was really looking forward to it. And B. it felt like another rejection from Elements (I applied last year, said “fuck you” to all my demons and all. Didn’t get in.) There was a miscommunication from the organizers, of which Bullet Dumas was part of. The two, Bullet and Miguel, were apologetic.

Those two glitches aside, I did have a fun night. I didn’t feel as worse as my usual episodes. I felt like myself. The beer and the company helped a lot. Came home with a smile on my face. It was a victorious night, regardless of the incidents.

Wednesday – September 30, 2015
Acoustic Night at Checkpoint. Open mic after.

I was still buzzed and sleepy from the night before when I saw on the Checkpoint page that there would be another Acoustic Night w/ an Open Mic afterwards. I was definitely there. I figured “performing last night wasn’t in the docket, but today, it is.” The universe was kind to me. Or so I thought.

It was a spectacular failure. That’s how I consider it, at least.

I didn’t have a setlist. Didn’t think I needed it since it was an open mic. Ended up playing five songs. The first three were originals: Instead, Relapse, and a song that I’ve never played in front of anyone before, Night Terrors. The last two were covers: Damien Rice’s “9 Crimes” and Ryan Adams’ “Come Pick Me Up,” complete with harmonica.

I fucked up on the third song. I forgot the lyrics. To my own fucking song. I’ll admit, playing “Night Terrors” was a risky move. One, as I’ve said, I haven’t played it live before. Two, I often struggle with singing that song cos it leaves me short of breath. Anyway, the pauses I had to take trying to remember the words were too fucking awkward. Had to do my best to fill the gap. It was upsettingly funny because I forgot the lyrics twice. In both times, I forgot the last line of the two verses.

It all went downhill from there. After that, I didn’t know what to sing next. Settled with 9 Crimes as I’ve already played it before. But by then, I was already out of it. I was already not “there.” My heart wasn’t in it anymore. I failed myself. Despite what the voices in my head were telling me to do, “just stop the misery! “Just get off the stage! “You’re embarrassing yourself!” I still pushed through. I still played.

A part of me wanted to get off the stage after Night Terrors. But I rarely play anymore and I knew that I needed to do it. I should’ve just listened to the voices. Should’ve just ended with Night Terrors.

I was struggling with myself while I was on stage. My mind was preoccupied with wanting to abruptly end it and walk off and head to the restroom to punch the walls and cry. But I still kept at it. I was in autopilot. I knew the words and the chords to 9 Crimes and Come Pick Me Up, and I was in autopilot. I wasn’t feeling it. The emotions weren’t there.

After the set, I wanted to smash my Guild on the wall. I curled up in the corner where I usually stay at when I’m shooting there and threw a pity party for one. I ordered my fifth photographer’s comp beer and drank and drank and drank. That was supposed to be my last beer for the night. I didn’t want to risk having the last one in case I go off the rails again, but one of the bartenders offered. Insisted. She knew I needed it. God bless her.

I drove back home with a heavy heart. Again. That was supposed to be the night where I’d get be that one version of myself that truly made me happy.

I knew I needed to talk to someone. Messaged a bunch of people who knows of my situation if they were still awake. Gladys replied, but the connection was sloppy. Ended up talking to the ex. She did her best to make me feel better, but I was too consumed by my failure to hear anything. Until she mentioned the word “pizza.”

Oh fucking God. That suddenly set bells off in my head. PIZZA.

I was already in front of the house expecting another meltdown and upon hearing that one glorious word, I drove back out to Yellow Cab to order pizza. I’d hung up the phone on the drive there and I only had one thought in mind: PIZZA. I told myself, “if this doesn’t work…fuck you Universe.”

Funny thing, while I waiting for my PIZZA at Yellow Cab, I read a comment on one of my Facebook status updates from crush. (I seriously have to think of a codename for her)

I was smiling like an idiot there. I suddenly forgot the colossal failure up on stage an hour before. The stormy weather my head was at disappeared.
It’s really all about the tiny things, huh? No matter how stupid they might seem, how shallow. If it works, it works.

The pizza tasted so damn good.

Friday – October 2, 2015
Foundation Day at Checkpoint

That night, hands down, was the best Checkpoint gig I’ve ever been to. I was shooting. I was drunk. I was drunk shooting. I was sociable. I was unusually talking to people – artists – that my personal and emotional hang ups would usually not permit me to. My constant dread in meeting new people wasn’t there. I shook hands. I introduced myself. I was friendly. I felt that part of myself that have always wanted to come out of hiding and converse with people take over. It felt good.

The bands were good. The music was good. My trigger finger was shooting too much. There were music people from up North who was there.

There were minor attacks. That won’t ever go away, I think. But it wasn’t much of a bother. Except for one incident. One paranoia. It was a situation – a gesture – that I misread. It’s all squared now, I think. I’m just having a difficult time adjusting to my new environment, to my new life.

Can’t really do a play by playoff that night because I was in a drunken haze (and my mind’s crashing from the Americano) but the bottom line is: it was a good night. I could use more of those.

Sunday – October 4, 2015
Rest day.

Struggling. Again. But I’m trying my damn best to focus on the victories from the past week. I’m fighting.

I’m surviving.


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