AFI – “Affliction”

When: December 2006
Where: San Gabriel Boulevard
Who: Alone
Weather: Cool, breathtakingly clear

One day, not long before winter break, I went home sick. I don’t think I was sick, but when I got on the bus home, I was awestruck. I was alone on the bus, the driver was the same guy who usually went the other way in the mornings, and as the bus went over the top of the hill I saw the clearest view of the San Gabriel Valley I had ever seen. And this was a song I had not previously listened to on my CD. Little did I know it would be the last CD I ever listened to.

My 17th birthday came during finals. I got an iPod, much to my surprise, and a copy of A Walk in the Woods. I was really into Bill Bryson; even now he’s my biggest influence, and there was plenty more of his work to read.

It was an uncommonly mild winter. During finals and before christmas, it was cool and clear. James Brown, Saddam Hussein, and Gerald Ford all died. And I was Time Magazine’s man of the year. And having written my longest screenplay ever at 60 pages, I was feeling warm in the winter breeze.

It did rain torrentially between Christmas and New Years,’ but that was about it. I went to school with an iPod full of This American Life audiobooks. One of them would change everything.

In Catholic School, you take religious classes, and this time it was Stroup’s Social Justice class. It was cool, because it was a small class, lots of videos, and the teacher actually worked with gangsters, giving him a considerable edge over the other teachers. It was at the end of the day, and a lot of the time we didn’t actually do any work, leaving me to listen to my iPod. One story in particular took me. Alez Zharov, a person the same age as me, stranded on a desert island…in Brooklyn. And he wants nothing more than to go back, and be done by dinnertime, and then find something new and different, never knowing where he would end up.

It was at that moment that I decided to live an interesting life. As it turned out, finding adventure would not be as difficult as I thought.

Next: 2007 begins in earnest, and the adventure takes off.

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AFI – “Miss Murder”

When: 11 March 2006
Where: Santa Fe Recreation Center (Renaissance Faire)
Who: My mother, and several art school girls
Weather: Moderate, sunny

I remember this song being a lot more awesome than it seems now. Such are the diminishing returns of AFI.

Next: Rediscovering Weezer

AFI – “Girl’s Not Grey”

When: May 2003
Where: Barnhart Middle School
Who: Several people
Weather: Foggy

In 2003, the word “emo” was thrown around a lot. Emo music, as far as we could tell, was terrible, and while I understand why someone could label AFI as emo, it wasn’t right. But I was still self-conscious about that label, as I worried my ambivalence towards my fellow students might be detected and mistaken for a lifestyle choice.

This song came on as the car pulled into the school parking lot, and keeping all of this in mind I carefully lowered the volume. Not all the way down, as that would make my mother suspicious, but down enough that nobody within six feet or so would hear it.

Next: The dangers of the Renaissance Fair