Posts Tagged ‘vacation’

This day is going to go down in my book of life as one of the top most memorable experiences of 2011.

The night that I got to see SIX MINUTE CENTURY perform at the BFE Club in Houston, Texas. Something I have been hoping and dreaming of doing ever since I first heard the song, “Zero Hour” which ultimately became my absolute favorite song from the band’s first album, “Time Capsules”. Which was probably about two years ago, maybe even longer. But no matter, it was most certainly a dream that absolutely came true.

If you read my last post, you already know that I went to Houston for a bit of a little vacation of sorts. And you already know what wonderful experiences I had from the beginning. Also, warning: a lot of this post is going to be repeated material from that earlier post.

The evening before, I was taken into the recording studio by bassist, Michael Millsap and his fiancee, Lori. I had never been inside a recording studio before, so I am sure that I looked like a character from “Willy Wonka” who just found the last golden ticket and had entered the factory gates. Being able to hear the new material that the band is working on for their next album far before anyone else in the general public, I couldn’t help but feel so honored to have been there. A little later, I got to meet lead guitarist, Don LaFon.

I don’t know if he was surprised to have seen me there. I knew that the whole entire purpose was to surprise the band that I came all that way so that I could see them perform live!! I hope someone from the band was. If they weren’t, then I think that all the secret planning would be wasted because it was getting very difficult to keep my excitement toned down, especially during the last week before I went.

I sat there in awe of Don. If I am understanding correctly, SIX MINUTE CENTURY is a project that he started. Being in the recording studio with this totally awesome guitarist was truly something I thought was so cool. There I was sitting in this control room with the lead guitarist and the bassist. Right off the bat, I got to meet half of the band. Awesome!

And then of course came the big night at BFE Club. Several bands were on the bill before SIX MINUTE CENTURY was to be on the stage, including a really awesome band from Brazil called “MindFlow”. Others included “Decimation Theory” and “Silenced Within”. Yep, if you haven’t figured it out by now… it was a heavy metal show.

It was a bit scary to have these metal acts doing their thing, and then they looked down right at me. Especially, Decimation Theory!! That guy screamed his lungs out, sweat pouring down his face, and then he looked straight at me. CREEEPYYY!!!!

MindFlow did the same thing. Sang a bit, came to the edge of the stage and looked me right in the eyes while singing.

What was really exciting for me was all of the introductions that were made amongst other fans and friends of the bands. I surely got to meet a lot of great people. It was wild to be walking around in the club and instead of waving to acknowledge the person, all they did was throw the Devil Horns in the air.

I was quite honored that lead singer, Chuck Williams made an effort to come and talk with me just before he went on stage. He kneeled down to talk to me at my level and just talked to me like I was a person. Not as if he was the star and I was the adoring fan that must worship him. No, it was “man to man”. He thanked me for being such a great big fan of the band and he said he was happy that I could make it to a show there in Houston. I would find out later that most of the band was quite happy and thankful to hear that I had made it all that way just for the show.

Chuck asked me if I had heard any of the new material and if I enjoyed it. Of course…

I told him that my favorite song was “Zero Hour”, and then he replied with: “Well, good because we’ll be doing that song tonight.”

Okay, a little confession. I had already known that. And yes, I was totally stoked to hear it. So then he shook my hand and said that we would talk later after the set. Its just too bad it didn’t work out that way. I was just very happy that he treated me so kindly. To be honest, the entire band and their family and friends did. As if they had welcomed me into their family.

So during the major bands, I was right up at the stage. Speakers and amplifiers and fillers galore in my face. What I did not realize was that there was one underneath the stage. I wondered why I kept feeling like I was getting punched in the chest and face each time the bass kicked. But as they say, if it isn’t loud- it isn’t rock and roll. And it isn’t metal if it isn’t louder.

By the end of the night, I couldn’t even feel the hair on my arms. My hearing was shot, my voice sore. Yep, that’s the way to do it!

When SIX MINUTE CENTURY hit the stage and got things going, I got right back into place right up front near a monitor and slammed the brakes on my wheelchair. There was no way that I was going to be removed from being right up front at that point.

Nobody.. and I mean absolutely NOBODY was going to knock me from the top of the mountain!! Do it and die.

Thankfully, Lori stood right behind me during the show. I felt so guarded and protected from the scores of people that were there.

I had no idea, but apparently when SIX MINUTE CENTURY comes out to play a show, people come crawling out of the woodworks in Houston. The first few bands didn’t have a lot of people there, but SIX MINUTE CENTURY had tons of people!! I found myself amazed that after they got off the stage, there wasn’t a lot left. I was told that SIX MINUTE CENTURY doesn’t play too often, so if a fan misses a show, they are out of luck for a while until the next show comes up. I believe the last show before this one was back in late January of this year. When I had missed that one, I knew that I was going to work very hard at getting to the show on 22 April.

But back to my original point, with someone behind me it was what I needed to know that nobody was ever going to mess with me while the band was playing. I could just be care free and totally enjoy myself. So I am thankful to her for that.

Then “Zero Hour” was about to be performed. Hearing the helicopter at the beginning of the song, I knew it was coming.

Suddenly, Chuck walked over towards the front of the stage where I was and shouted out, “This is for you, buddy!”. He pointed right at me. Then I reached out towards him. He grabbed me by the hand and then I gave him the love sign, to which he returned with the Devil’s Horns.

At that point, I probably could’ve used a new pair of pants. I totally was getting into it. Slamming my hands onto the stage, singing as out as I could, and just enjoying the song. And yes, I did feel like the song was performed just for me. I allowed myself a moment for once in life.

When it was finished, I felt like I had truly accomplished something great. Of course, I enjoyed the rest of the show. They played some of the new material that is on the upcoming album.

I have to laugh because I remember having a conversation with Don a few days previously over lyrics of one of the newer songs. We couldn’t figure it out. Eventually, the mystery was solved and so when they were playing it, Don was looking from the stage in my general direction and he saw me singing those lines in which I had previously had been questioning him about.

The man SMILED!!

I don’t think he smiles a lot. I could be wrong. In fact, he can appear scary. But you know, that’s just part of the draw. There’s just no “happy happy, joy joy” in heavy metal. Its more of an attitude of “I’m about to eat your face off.” But he smiled. I thought that was cool. I should’ve been quicker with the camera to capture it on film and have evidence of it. Oh well.

When the set was over, Don walked over to me and I thought he was going to just shake my hand. He instead was trying to give me something. His guitar pick!! I loved it. That was totally cool!!! It rests here today in front of my computer until I can find a good place to make my own SIX MINUTE CENTURY shrine. I will have to make room to add it to my other shrines that I have.

When I find something that I totally enjoy, I don’t do it half way– I go to the extreme edge and carry it further. My dedication knows absolutely zero bounds. Whether its music, or people that I enjoy. I’ll do whatever I can to have the best and keep them close to my heart. Defending my position of admiration.

I should be fair though and add that the drummer from MindFlow came up and gave me one of his drumsticks that he just used. Its pretty chewed up, but its a wonderful momento of their performance. I bought their newest CD, a t-shirt, and a shot glass from MindFlow.

I wonder what other kinds of memorabilia that SIX MINUTE CENTURY can come up with? Maybe I should e-mail Don and ask what his thoughts are??

And I cannot forget getting introduced to the lead singer of Silenced Within. You just gotta love female metal singers. Besides, she’s really cute!!!

Then later on, I got the set list from both Don AND Michael, and I thought that was cool. I remembered that I had my copy of “Time Capsules” with me and I got Don and Michael to sign it. After the show, Chuck and Darren (the drummer) just disappeared. What a bummer that I didn’t get to meet Darren at all.

I really wanted to have a picture taken of me and the entire band. Plus gain autographs from everyone. Whether it be a t-shirt, a CD, a flyer, or anything that had their names on it. I hope that I will be able to return to Houston and get that done. It must be done- it is my mission as the absolute avid fan.

Did I enjoy the show?? YOU BET I DID!!

I’ve been working really hard for all of this to happen. Three months, countless secret e-mail exchanges, lots of saved money, and many hours to just get down to Houston. Meeting totally beautiful people, making new friends, and feeling accepted. I definitely believe this to be one of the best experiences I have had. The VIP treatment, presented by SIX MINUTE CENTURY is something a person will never forget. I never would have imagined all the kindness that came from everyone, all of their sacrifices to help make this short trip so memorable.

I am waiting excitedly for the new album to come out. Don told me that once its out there, they’ll consider coming to Austin for a show. And that would be cool beyond words at this point. I will do whatever I can to make sure it happens.

But until it does, I will look forward to their next show. And I hope with every fiber of my body that I can do whatever I need to do in order to make that return trip back to Houston to be there. Right in the same place near the stage.

That night, I went out with Michael and Lori for a little bit of breakfast which included a few other people in the party. I think there was about twelve of us. Some of them, had to sober up.

And then when the night was all finished, I crawled back into my hotel room at 5:01 AM, laid down on the bed and thought to myself, “Hell yeah!!”.

Tired. Sore. Deaf. Numb.

From all the hard work that went into making it happen for me. Absolutely worth it.

I came up with a slogan for fans of SIX MINUTE CENTURY. I think that the band likes it. I’ve been saying it ever since:

I AM A SIX MINUTE CENTURION!!!

I think I know now why they call them, “dream vacations”. I just spent the weekend in Houston, Texas. No, not the ocean like I said I would be at. There are reasons for that deception. I’ll get to that in a moment. But now that it is over, it felt so much like a dream.

I would have to say that it was quite difficult for me to keep things under wraps, so to speak. The whole intention of the so-called weekend getaway was to surprise a few people who live in the Houston area.

I had other things going on, but I won’t be so boring getting into them. Besides, who wants to talk “business” when its supposed to be a vacation?? So I’m just going to focus on solely, the “personal”.

During that time though, I got to do what I had only been dreaming of doing for many years now. For one, getting to a SIX MINUTE CENTURY show. But I will blog about all of those experiences in another post. Their lead singer, Chuck Williams was celebrating his birthday and they had a show. My entire plan was to surprise the whole band by traveling the 200 miles to be there. The other, was to finally meet in person, romance author Jessica Trapp.

To be honest, I never would’ve thought in a million years that these dreams would  come true. But they did. I am so grateful for those dreams to turn into a reality. I am above Cloud Nine at this point.

I had never been to Houston before. I had gone through it on the way to Galveston twice in my life and I thought that Houston was scary! Maybe it was just the traffic. So I knew this was going to be quite the experience for me. Nervous, excited, and totally stoked to go. I showed up far too early at the bus depot that it was just totally unnecessary and inhumane to be there that early. The excitement got the best of me for sure.

Three hours on the bus and I was met by one of my dearest friends, Lori. I had known her for about two years and now I was face to face with her. Then later meeting up with her fiancee, Michael. The bassist to SIX MINUTE CENTURY.

I had only been there for about five hours and I remember thinking to myself, that this was a great idea and I was excited for the next day to meet everyone that I had been in communication with over the Internet for so long. All of my worries were carried away. I was able to just chill out and relax and enjoy those who were hosting me for the weekend. Great and awesome people! I knew that the excitement would build.

Its so surreal when you are in non-verbal communication for so long and then you are directly in their face. There’s no turning back. There’s no delete button. No backspace key. It becomes whatever you make it and that’s the way it is.

I have no complaints though. I didn’t have any problems at all with anyone. And I was glad for it.

That same night, I was taken to a recording studio where SIX MINUTE CENTURY is hard at work recording their second album. So thrilling for me because I had never been in one before. I got to meet lead guitarist, Don LaFon later that evening. (See guys? I spelled it right!)

For me to have that opportunity as a fan to get to hear the new material was just so cool! I definitely felt like I was receiving the VIP treatment!! I’m probably one of the band’s biggest fans.

When I begin to like something and feel passionate about it, I go full force. The dedication stays with me until death!

That first day, I was awake for 21 hours before I was able to crash at the hotel. I literally sat there all alone in the hotel room, overwhelmed with positive energy, happiness, and full of emotion that I cried myself to sleep. Getting to see the entire band was going to be so awesome.

The 22nd of April was the big day. The reality was slowly creeping in that at long last I would be in the presence of great colleagues and get to see the band that I admire so much play live.

In the afternoon, I met up with author Jessica Trapp and her son, had lunch and spent the afternoon walking around in the mall and the surrounding shopping centers. 

I was totally nervous. I had so much trouble with being so scared that I would sound like an idiot. After all, she is a writer and it would stand to reason that her vocabulary would be more advanced than mine. I just hoped that I sounded like a decent human being when I engaged in conversation. To me, that was a lot of pressure.

Even with my nervous driving me insane, I still found a way to become relaxed and  comfortable. Even though the first impressions are always the ones that become impressed on the mind and opinions of others.

The world seemed to have stood still. Nothing else mattered. Yet time still melted away and I parted ways from Jessica in the late afternoon. It was a real fun time. I enjoyed her company. And as always, I was appreciative that she took me to lunch, and took the time to come out to see me. Even though I was probably quite a drive from her.

The night of the concert I will be saving for the next post. Yet it was another 19 hours of being awake and crawling into the hotel room at 5:00 AM? Yeah, all I can really say about it is, “that’s rock and roll for you!”. I’d do the entire day all over again and again and again and again if I could.

Saturday was a day of trying to recover. I think I kind of failed. Such the headache and fatigue crept over me like a blanket and I just was fumbling around so much like a goofball. But I was happy about it!

It literally took two days to get over it. But that second day was the day I was to return home on the bus.

I needed to get back to my own life and I needed to let others return to their routine of daily life as well. Not having my own mode of transportation and having to rely on others to get me where I needed to go, does become burdensome. I’m just so glad that I have wonderful friends who didn’t mind so much. I did exactly what I needed to do in order to gain some of the good mental health back into my life and stop worrying about the bullshit drama that actually surrounds me at home every single day.

There was a discussion about the possibility of me returning to Houston for the band’s next show and when that could be. It looks like near the end of the summer. It was also discussed about whether or not things could be done to make it happen on both sides with my wonderful hosts and myself. I think there’s a chance. I discussed my feeling that I would like to have a bit of a longer stay but I knew that it would mean a lot more. And besides, things worked out great this past weekend, having it being Easter. Those around me having the day off and all. If I were to go, I’d probably have a lot more free time on my hands all by myself until people are out of work and able to connect with me.

There was really not a lot of negative stuff happening around me. I lost my cd player in the process, and a favorite writing pen walked off somewhere in the city of Houston. But I have plenty of pens at home, and I was able to replace my cd player while I was there.

I was supposed to depart at 12:30, but things got fouled up when I heard that the 12:30 bus did not have a wheelchair lift. Instead, I had to wait until 3:30 to take the next one that did have a lift. I wasn’t sure what happened. I did what I was supposed to do on my end. So my hosts got to hang out with me at the bus depot.

And then Jessica Trapp came back for one more visit, bringing her entire family with her, on their way through town to celebrate Easter with someone else. She brought a bag full of goodies. Brought a few books that I did not have that she wrote and autographed them. It was a really nice surprise. (I actually came home with A LOT of stuff that was just given to me. I am thankful for everything and everyone.)

After the short visit by her, my hosts departed to be on their way as well to celebrate Easter with family. More pictures were taken. Hugs given. Loving sentiments traded. I just needed to let everyone know how much I appreciated them, and how much they meant to me. Their sacrifices that they made to make this all become a successful trip. Totally overwhelming for me.

And then, wouldn’t you know it? Drama has to set in while sitting outside in the sunshine.

Some bum came up to me and asked me for change and/or a cigarette. I told the guy that I had nothing. So he moved on to the next person standing about four feet away, puffing away on a cigarette.

He asked him for a smoke, and the guy told him to get bent because it was his last one. Just about that time I adjusted myself in my wheelchair and shifted my weight. Right when I did that, all this change came pouring out of my pocket and spilling onto the sidewalk.

That bum heard it, and came running after it. I freaked out. I mean, I had my stick with me. And we all know by now the history of the stick. But it was buried at the bottom of my bag. It would’ve taken me a very long time to dig through to find it, and possibly use it if I needed. I just wouldn’t have had enough time to do that and protect myself. This guy came running so quickly that I started yelling.

So lucky that Houston police was right there when it happened. They yelled at the guy and he tried running away, but the police officer did one of those running tackles from behind. Something that I’ve only seen on “COPS”. He was arrested and hauled away. Not sure what charges were given.

I saw that, and I got to witness a woman getting arrested for shoplifting at the mall on Friday morning. Such sad people. But I was okay. I wasn’t hurt.

I finally boarded the bus around 3:00 and was under the impression that we would be leaving at 3:30. But we pulled away from the bus depot at 3:15. Then being told over the intercom that we would be arriving at 6:45, I thought that the ride home was going to be miserable. It was bad enough that I didn’t want to go in the first place. Lucky for me, we arrived just three hours later. I think I finally entered my apartment at 7:00 on the dot.

So my personal thanks goes out to Michael and Lori, and Jessica… and of course, SIX MINUTE CENTURY. It was worth every ounce of energy planning this for so long, and worth every penny spent to get down there. I hope to have an even better time if I make it down there again in a few months. Now that I know the ropes of riding on the bus to and from Houston. It will get easier and be better each time I do it.

I met so many people and made new friends. It was definitely a wonderful time. I can say it over and over again. Hard to believe that I saw all these wonderful, beautiful people just YESTERDAY!

So I believe its called a dream vacation, because I had such a wonderful time and didn’t want to come home at all. Please Houston, if it was only a dream… NEVER wake me.

Note: SIX MINUTE CENTURY’s MySpace and Facebook pages, along with Jessica Trapp’s new website, “Getting Trapped In A Book”, can be found in the links in the blog roll. I highly suggest you check them all out.

Oh! I just cannot stand it. “I’m so excited, and I just can’t hide it!”.

I’m at the point where I do not know whether to scream or puke.

These plans are a very long time coming. I’m going to be leaving out of town for a few days and I am just so pumped out about. I made these plans back in February and now it is so close that I can definitely smell something. Maybe that’s just my own body though.

At this point in time, I’m left with just under 36 hours before I leave home and beginning my travel.

The main purpose of my travel, is supposed to be a surprise. So there will be no fine detail of where I am going and what I am doing. Only that I am excited to do the things that I plan on doing, and even more thrilled, excited, and stoked to finally meet the people that I am scheduled to meet. Thus, probably the desire to puke. Hopefully, not on them though! First impressions and all. It is true what they say about them.

I really am looking forward to taking this as an opportunity to do a little self-examination and reflection as well. Even though I am considering this trip “my mini-vaca”, I cannot think of the last time I took time for myself, all by myself. Probably not since I moved back from New England, which was in 2008. Even before that, my only travel was probably in 2007.

I just believe that there’s a lot of crap that I have in life. Stuff that I should fully get rid. Being away from home, will help me do that. I think it is the perfect chance!

I fully intend on having as much fun as possible. I have no expectations of this trip. Not of where I will end up, and not of those whom I will be around. The perfect example to avoid any disappointments. If one does not create expectations, then there is less chance of any disappointment. I truly believe in that.

So as I am gone, I will let come what will. And when I return, I should’ve had experienced a wonderful time. And I am sure to write a post about it in some way.

My only problem is the excitement is just bursting out of me!! I wished I was leaving NOW! I’m sure that many of you reading this can understand my feeling.