Thursday, April 24, 2008

Swell Season

Last night I went to what is probably the best concert I have ever been to, Swell Season, at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Phoenix. The Swell Season consists of Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, the stars of the Oscar winning film Once. I am a huge fan of the film, and had high hopes for the concert which featured music performed and written by the actors from the film. Needless to say, I was not let down.

The concert started unlike any I had seen. Glen walked to the edge of the stage by himself, holding his guitar. He waited for the hundreds of people inside to quiet down, and began to play a song, entirely unplugged, to delight of the utterly silent crowd. I was in the last row in the balcony, as far back as you can get in what is a big theatre, and due to the amazing acoustics I could hear every word and guitar string resonating perfectly. The rest of the concert was wonderful, and I can only liken the beauty of the music (featuring a guitar, piano, violin, mandolin and perfect harmonies) to what amounted to nothing short of a spiritual experience for me. After the show, my girlfriend, my friend Jared and I sat still in our seats as everyone around us left. It was almost as if we didn't want to speak for fear of detracting from the profundity of what had just transpired. As if we were playing back the last moments and notes of the night, praying that the melodies and harmonies would remain fresh in our minds and knowing that mere rhetoric could never encapsulate something that can only be expressed and understood through experience.

Anyway, after the show I performed my classic "kelley ambush" and was able to talk with both Glen and Marketa after the show. They are both really nice people, and after going to the Czech Republic (Marketa's home) I actually found something substantive to talk to her about. So it was the perfect end to a profound night, and if you have not seen the movie Once, get out and see it, or at least buy the Swell Season CD, its awesome.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Goodbye College, Hello Symphony of Change

Ahhhhhhh. It is with a sigh and a smile that I write this. What you see to your left is what I have been working towards for four and a half years, thats right, a Bachelors degree. Thanks to ASU my "official" graduation was delayed a bit, but, after repeatedly calling the administration office, I got them to correct their error and place a big "GRADUATED" stamp on my transcript...or whatever it is they do. Let me tell you, my mind cannot take in the scope of what college has meant to me, what I have done, what I have seen, what this time gone by means. I can remember vividly that first day of college at NAU, the fear, the excitement, the anticipation. Wow, what an era. So much changed, so much of my worldview was rocked, I feel so different than when I started, yet, oddly I still feel the same.

Oh, see the map to the left? I'm going there. Living there, in fact. About a week ago, as I was sitting in a property rights class visiting Pepperdine Law, I received an email stating that I has been awarded a Fulbright scholarship. Wow, right? Yeah, it rocked my world completely. I suppose it is in some ways fitting, the end of one era and the beginning of the next. I was just talking with my girlfriend the other day, saying that there is so little that is really holding me here. So little that I am tied down to. Other than my close family and her, I have no real reason to stick around. So, on July 7th, 2008, I will begin the 12 and a half month adventure that will take me across the world and back, eventually. A few specifics: I get two months off, from the end of December until the end of February. I am only allowed to spend two weeks during that time in the U.S., so the rest of the time I will be traveling. Daunting? Yes. Exciting? Absolutely. I will be teaching English to elementary school kids in a city outside of Seoul 20 hours a week, and the rest of the time I will be writing and enjoying other scholarly pursuits, such as beginning a Masters Degree. Exciting, changing times are on the horizon.

Pray for me, if you would, that I would emulate the tax collector who beat upon his chest, saying, "God have mercy on me, the sinner."