Page 1

the worst, coolest, most amazing, terrible idea of my life!

Okay, folks. This post is a bit of a whirlwind, because my life has been a bit of a whirlwind of late. The time for drastic measures to be taken is overdue. I am thus making a huge decision, along with Emily, while officially stepping into pursuing: The worst, coolest, most amazing, terrible idea of my life!!

So, where to begin?

I had the job at Java Bean, and it was one of the most toxic environments I’ve ever had the misfortune to operate in. After a few short months, I quit, to find work elsewhere. The plan was that I would spend the time it took to find new work writing full-time. Instead, before having a chance to catch my breath, I got called to interview for a job I never even officially applied for, working 8-5 every day at the UW School of Dentistry. Emily and I both knew that it would be a risky move to accept that job, because my insomnia-ridden, depressed mind probably couldn’t handle working those sorts of hours at a job I didn’t like. However, upon getting offered the job I accepted, because it just seemed like too good an opportunity to pass up.

Big mistake. Word from the experienced: if you are an insomniac diagnosed with ‘Major Depression’ of a chronic nature, don’t accept a job sitting in a depressing, windowless room for 9 hours a day moving charts around a dental clinic and telling people who call in that they owe you 32 bucks for access to their own dental records. Bad idea. Even though I really like the ladies I worked with, I hated the job and that caught up with me, contributing to the end of Cymbalta’s limited effectiveness in my body and destroying my ability to function.

It really was a blessing in disguise that I got fired, because I really did desperately hate that job so much. However, even though Emily kept telling me I should leave, I couldn’t bring myself to admit defeat, because I couldn’t bear willingly failing at two jobs in a row. It was too much for me. It made me feel like I was going to fail at everything, failing out of two jobs in such a short period of time. Well, I still failed out of two jobs, but the whole thing was taken out of my hands altogether because my boss’s boss was a dick and fired me without giving me a fair chance to explain what was going on.

The day that I got fired I texted my friend Eric to see if he could help me get a job at his coffee shop, because they are opening a new location here in Ballard. It looked like things were falling together for that to be my new job, less than a week after getting fired from UW. But, then I had the insane interview that I wrote about the other day, and I was left at square one.

All this time, I kept having this nagging thought in my head that maybe I should stop talking about writing as a pipe dream, and make a really stupid commitment to live off of savings for six months so that I could write full time, trying to finish a novel and build up other writing experience so that I actually have a portfolio to speak of.

This nagging idea moved back to the forefront of my mind again when I had the terrible interview, so I finally decided to bring it up with Emily to see what her thoughts were. A big part of me assumed that she would offer some perspective as to why that was a really stupid idea, but maybe also offer a compromise where we could do something similar but a lot less insane. Instead, her response when I shared my idea was, “Yeah, I’ve been thinking about that a lot, too.”

Well, things came together pretty quickly after that. We talked to the moms. We did our best to talk each other out of it. And, at the end of that process, we’re doing it. For the next six to nine months, I am going to dedicate all of my time and energy to writing.

The various writing I am going to try to do are:

1. I’m writing a novel. It’s called The Last Guardian. I have a general outline for the story, my three main characters, and a prologue that has come a long way in the last two weeks, going from mediocre, to becoming something over the last few days that I am actually really getting excited about.

2. I’ll be trying to blog much more often, with actual writing as opposed to just posting random videos and stuff. I’ll still be posting random videos and stuff, but I want to be writing more in the really informal setting I enjoy here at RtM. This will also include trying to pump some essays out to send to various online publications that will at least get my name out there.

3. I have several avenues I am pursuing through friends, where I will offer my writing services for free, or close to free, so that I can get some more legitimate writing projects under my belt. That way, by the time this is all over, hopefully I can apply for a writing job and actually get it, while also building relationships with people who can help me keep work coming in steadily. I’ll also probably try and take a grant writing class so that I can officially pursue that avenue of employment as well.

Anyway, there you have it. The worst, coolest, most amazing, terrible idea of my life. I’m getting over being really sick the last few days, but I’m still really excited about this! I hope some of you will come along for the ride!


awesome bartenders and baristas. [things i’m thankful for #25]

Well, it’s been a rough few days. Or, as I like to call it, my worst month ever. I’ve had my meds bottom out, leaving me mired in overwhelming despair. I’ve been fired for the first time in my life. And I had an interview yesterday that was one of the weirdest, and worst, interactions I’ve ever had with a person I wasn’t related to.

The bad experience was an “interview” at a cafe here in Seattle. The meeting was with the owner of the shop I was applying to work for, and the first interview I had was fantastic. Said first interview had been with the manager of the particular location I would have been working, and it was clear quickly that we got along swimmingly. The way we understood coffee, people, and the place of the cafe in Ballard fit together so well. I was excited about the opportunity to pour my energy into working alongside her in making this cafe an indispensable part of the Ballard neighborhood.

Then, I had a second interview with the owner. It wasn’t an interview. It was an ambush. He literally spent the entire interview berating me for having the audacity to apply to work for him when in my heart I really wanted to be a writer. He said he wasn’t going to “finance [my] writing by paying [me] to be a barista” for him. He said there was no place for me at the cafe unless I could make my first and only priority coffee. He complained about a friend of mine who works at the cafe, saying, “We’ve had problems with [him] putting [his wife] and school ahead of the cafe.” He really fucking said that to me! First, he talked negatively about one of his employees to a random person who was interviewing at his cafe. Second, he complained that someone was putting his wife ahead of his hourly barista job. WTF?!?

The guy also used Million Dollar Baby as his example of how much I would need to care about coffee to work at the coffee shop. He said everyone who works for him would be able to say they had no regrets about working in the cafe, even if the job somehow paralyzed them for life. I’m not exaggerating, there is no hyperbole there, he really said that to me. It was the most wearying experience I’ve had in some time, just trying to keep from freaking out and walking out on him. In hindsight, I guess I probably should have just freaked out on him and left, instead of listening to him go on about how I wasn’t a good fit for over an hour! 

I left pretty heavy, and since I forgot my phone at home I was stranded in downtown Seattle with no way to contact my ride. It wasn’t a big deal, just one of those insult to injury things.

Anyway, things have been pretty heavy lately. However, there has been so much support from friends, family, and, oddly enough, local baristas and bartenders. I prefer to frequent places where I can get to know the people behind the bar. And those people I’ve gotten to know have been kind to me when I’ve really needed it over the last few days. I’ve been given two and a half free cocktails, three shots of whiskey, a beer, and two free coffee drinks, just because. One bartender friend bought me a shot and a beer out of her own pocket because she wasn’t even working when she heard about my terrible interview, she just asked the bartender to give us each a shot, and said “his beer is on me, too.”

I can’t wait until I have an income of some kind so I can return all this wonderful kindness that I’ve received.



caffe fiore, ballard. [things i’m thankful for #24]

Well friends, much has happened in my short absence. For those who don’t already know, I got fired the other day. My meds (Cymbalta for the curious) bottomed out, and I was leveled. That being the case, I missed a few days of work, and without warning they fired me. It was my boss’s boss who did the firing, and the deciding. He didn’t care why I was out, or what the story was, he just fired me. “Released” is the word he used, I guess that sounds nicer than “Fired.”

I knew I was in for some trouble. Earlier in the day my boss told me that I had a meeting with her boss at 4. They only schedule meetings that late in the day for bad reasons. She also made an odd comment when she told me about the meeting, she said “I tried to advocate for you.” When I asked if I was being fired or warned, she said she didn’t know, but I did, deep down I knew she was trying to hide the fact that I was fired.

I was hoping to get an ultimatum. Some sort of, “Look, your attendance has been unacceptable, if you miss another day of work, you’re fired.” Alas, that wasn’t forthcoming. My coworker, the woman who has been training me, was shocked. At first she thought I was joking, just because it seems so absurd.

There are upsides though. For one, as long as I have a few bucks lying around, I can come to Fiore again! Something that was sorely missed when I was working from 8-5 every day. This little caffe is like my second home. It’s one of the few places I can spend a whole day and not feel awkward, as long as I am making purchases and not just taking up space.

I’m so happy to be back!! Hopefully the writing will be coming with greater frequency for a while.



my sasquatch playlist. [things i’m thankful for – #13]

I know, I know. Lots of Sasquatch stuff lately. I’m excited, sue me. I’ve been listening to a playlist of all the music I own of bands lined up for Sasquatch. I keep downloading more, and I already discovered some great stuff I would have taken a while to get around to otherwise.

Sasquatch, the gift that keeps on giving.

Here is one band I am liking so far, courtesy of the wonderful little festival at the Gorge.


sasquatch tickets!! [things i’m thankful for – #11]

The site was down for a while. Did anyone notice? But we’re back up, and this time, with Sasquatch tickets!!!!

We got an email from LiveNation with a presale code, and Emily got online at 10am yesterday when the presale began and snagged two tickets to ensure that we will be sweating, dancing, and concerting the hell out of Memorial Day Weekend.

Here are the bands I already know for sure I want to see, which is why there will be some agonizing decisions to make when the schedule is released this spring.

Jack White, Beck, Bon Iver, Pretty Lights, Tenacious D, The Shins, Beirut, Girl Talk, The Roots, The Head & The Heart, Portlandia, Feist, Metric, Explosions In The Sky, Mogwai, M. Ward, Childish Gambino, St. Vincent, The Civil Wars, Little Dragon, The Walkmen, Blitzen Trapper, The Cave Singers, Shabazz Palaces, Sbtrkt, Shearwater, Gardens & Villa, Fresh Espresso, Nick Kroll

And that’s before starting to listen to the other bands who will be there to familiarize myself with the upcoming awesomeness.


rookies of the year. [the many lists of 2011]

2011 saw some stupendous debut albums, with rookies that have us drooling for what comes next.


1. Fitz and the Tantrums – Pickin’ Up the Pieces

Scott: There is some confusion as to when this album actually came out. I’m pretty sure the actual release date is August of 2010, instead of January of 2011, but we missed it last year, so we are throwing it up on this year’s lists. It’s kind of cheating, but I’m ok with that.

Fitz and the Tantrums, aside from having an awesome name, are also a rookie band that is certain to be in the Hall if they can keep up the good work. Retro is so in right now. As this list makes clear, bands are looking backward with quite a lot of energy; whether bands are hearkening back to 1960/70’s folk, 1950’s pop, or in The Tantrums’ case: sexy, sexy soul music. Fitz and the Tantrums make music that is fun and infectious. They probably win the award this year for music that gets stuck in my head the most. It’s a normal event in the Small household for Emily or me to be dancing around, absentmindedly singing / don’t come back, any time / i’ve already had your kind / this is your payback / moneygrabber / I hope this is a group of people who will be making music, dressing to the nines, and inspiring me to shake my ass for a long, long time.

Brian: This album is fun and soulful. It will put you in a good mood. The songs take notes from and have elements that hearken back to classic R & B and soul music from the 1960s. The album was purposely made without guitars. In an interview, leader singer Michael Fitzpatrick stated that he wanted “to try and make a big sounding record without guitars … For me, I just feel like in any music that has a band, the guitar is always there, it’s always featured, it’s always prevalent. I’m just sick of hearing it.” Leaving the guitars out, the album is keyboard and synth heavy, and much like the soul of the 60s, relies heavily on a tight and talented rhythm section. I have only heard good things about their live shows, and after being called one of the hardest working bands in the industry, the future is big and bright for Fitz and the Tantrums.


2. The Head and the Heart – The Head and the Heart

Scott: The children of a proud Seattle, The Head and the Heart have had quite the year. They’ve launched out of local fame into moderate national fame with no end to their ascent in sight. Among other honors, they’re #21 on Amazon’s best 100 albums of the year, and #5 on Paste’s best new artists list.  With music and vocals that are sweet and honest, it’s easy to see why The Head and the Heart continue to endear themselves to those who hear them, and Seattle will continue to look on with love as TH&TH’s audience continues to grow.

I love them with my head and my heart.

Brian: Another Seattle band. Another BRILLIANT Seattle band. Sunny, folky goodness. They have drawn obvious comparisons to Mumford & Sons because of the way both bands feature tight, vocal harmonies. Being compared to Mumford is not at all a bad thing. When it really comes down to it, the bands are not as similar as Pitchfork would have you believe. Those bastards. The album is musical sunshine. The band has put together an album of songs that begs to be sung along with.


3. Gardens & Villa – Gardens & Villa

Brian: Funky and sometimes shoegazey, Gardens and Villas hail from Santa Barbara (Brahbrah?), CA. Their music is fun and eclectic, drawing from a wide array of influences. This is album is … I mean, did I mention it was eclectic? I listen and I hear shades of Beach House (“Chemtrails”), the Beatles (“Sunday Morning”), and even Ennio Morricone (“Carrizo Plain”)! Yet, for all it’s variety (I haven’t even mentioned the flute, yet), Gardens and Villa’s sound is surprisingly consistent, held together by the amazing vocals of Chris Lynch (he plays live shows with a quiver of flutes slung over his shoulder!) and the presence of spacey and funky synths. Having read what I’ve just written about this album, it sounds like it wouldn’t work, but, let me tell you … it does. Very much so. I liked this album way more with every listen.

Scott: It’s funny that Brian would make a Flight of the Conchords reference above (can you find it?). The reason it’s funny is because I discovered this band because of my Kiwi friend Gabrielle, whose interview with the band can be read here.

In line with what Brian was saying above, so much comes together in this album that it would be easy for it to become muddled and fall apart. Instead, it all comes together and makes for an album that I, like Brian, fall more in love with every time I hear it. I guess I’m a sucker for synthesizers and falsetto harmonies.

I love them with my gardens and my villa.


4. Cults – Cults

Scott: This band converged on my summer and sunk its claws deep into my heart. It was everywhere. Playing on KEXP, performing at The Capitol Hill Block Party, and finally taking over my iTunes. Old school pop music that somehow really works, They also seem like sweet kids from my brief experience watching them live this year.

I’m really excited to hear what comes next, because, like Phantogram last year, this was an album meant more to be a demo which took off faster than anticipated. Will all of their albums be cult themed? If it is, with Jim Jones out of the way, my hope is that next up is Waco. Or, better yet, those people who thought the spaceship was going to come take them to heaven.

If this is what Cults are like, consider me initiated.

Brian: This album feels familiar. Not the “This sounds like everything else out there” or “Nothing new” familiar, but the melodies feel like a warm bed. The trend these days, as far as bands go, seems to be the boy/girl duo, so as these types of bands increase, it is going to take more talent for separation from the rest. Cults have made a statement with this debut album. Every song is like a warm bed you don’t want to leave. The melodies are like that old baseball glove that is so perfectly broken in. Infectious and catchy from the first to the last song, Cults should have no problem standing above water in a sea of boy/girl duos.


5. The Civil Wars

Scott: If either Joy Williams or John Paul White had released this album as a solo release, it still would have been one of the best albums of the year. Instead, it’s the result of the duo joining forces, creating an album of vocal harmonies that are breathtaking. I’m sure glad these two eventually found each other, because this collaboration makes it sound like they were born to sing together. The songwriting is also deeply moving. The perfect creative storm.

Brian: There are very few voices out there that mix more perfectly than the voices of Joy WIlliams and John Paul White. This album deserved all the acclaim and attention it received. This duo has made an album that is so rich melodically and in harmony. There are songs that burst forth joyfully from mouths and guitars, and there are songs that seep melancholy out of every pore. It is this balance that makes this album so real and true to life. To make music that perfectly captures the rapture and the rupture that is joy and sorrow. You’d be hard pressed to find an album to equal the cover to cover beauty of The Civil Wars’ Barton Hollow.


future hall of famers. [the many lists of 2011.]

This is a music list, not a baseball list. Still, it is what we at RtM are calling the Prince Fielder list, formerly the Ryan Braun list.

For those who don’t know, Prince is a hefty man, and an amazing baseball player.

The young, soon to be former Milwaukee Brewer, hits homers like it’s easy. If he keeps up playing the way he’s started out, his place in Cooperstown is assured. However, if he suddenly started hitting .200 next season, we’d all wonder what the hell happened, and he’d never be in the Hall of Fame. Derek Jeter could retire tomorrow and be a first ballot HoFer. Prince Fielder is too early in his career for that.

The mere fact that this list was originally named for Ryan Braun, who is now suspect after having a positive PED test, only shows how precarious a young person’s potential can be.

These bands are like Prince Fielder. They’re amazing, and if they keep it up they’ll be in the Hall within another few albums. However, if they start teaming up with Nickelback and lil’ Wayne, and making shit music tomorrow, we’d all talk about how great these bands were in the past. They just don’t have the number of albums necessary for the Hall to be a lock.

See who made it after the jump Continue Reading →