I began my career in wildland fire on the Mendocino National Forest way back in May of 2016. At the time I didn’t know anything about fighting fire, and I was unfamiliar with poison oak, God’s devil plant. Working in California, overall, has been a damn pleasure. I’ve learned skills I never would have acquired on my own, met some good people, and worked harder than I have at any other job (not every day, but the tough days were always the most rewarding). The MNF also gave me the opportunity to detail on a helicopter in Twin Falls, ID, which turned out to be my favorite fire season thus far.
Now it’s time to drive east to begin a new job at the Huron-Manistee National Forest. I’m excited to check out a new region, even if it means I’m going to miss the California mountains I love. I’m also going to be much closer to my future wife, which is something I’m extremely thankful for. Cheers to new beginnings in the state of Michigan.
It’s been two years since sexual misconduct allegations against Brand New frontman Jesse Lacey became widely known. The news came as a shock to some, while others pointed out that the accusations weren’t new, people were just finally listening. I’d long considered Brand New to be my favorite band, and for all I knew about them, I was stunned by thestories. Jesse had written dark lyrics before, but I never would have suspected him of grooming children for sexual gratification.
People loved Brand New and still do. For those outside the club, it’s difficult to describe the relationship people of my age group have with the band. Jesse spoke to us and for us. His lyrics became a soundtrack for so much of our young lives, from high school pop punk fun to college frustration and adult retrospection. Jesse helped us feel like a part of something. We were in it together with Brand New.
I hadn’t been following Brand New closely in late 2017 (their newer music didn’t appeal to me as much as their earlier stuff), so reading the horror stories about Jesse was like finding out something terrible about a good friend you had lost touch with. After that the question for fans became: what do we do now? Burn all our Brand New memorabilia? Scrub our memories clean of the band? Like I said, the music is so intertwined with my coming-of-age that it’s a part of me like other pieces of pop culture aren’t. I didn’t want to stop listening to the band, but reading about a woman getting “physically sick” listening to the songs is tough to square.
I haven’t deleted Brand New’s music from my computer. I don’t tell people to stop playing Brand New if I’m in the room. Rather, I’m drawn to the music. I still love it. But I don’t listen to the band much at all anymore. And I know I’m lucky. I once hung out with Brand New on their tour bus after winning a street team contest. My buddies and I had driven four hours to see them open for Dashboard Confessional. We didn’t care much about Dashboard, but we thought Brand New’s abbreviated setlist was worth the drive. It’s a cherished experience. Two girls were there because they’d won the same contest. And I can’t help but wonder if they had the same positive experience we did.
People ask me why I’ve chosen to live a life without roots. Why keep changing jobs? Why keep moving? Don’t you like a town/city/state enough to stay in it?
I spent years living in Texas, and though I love the state, it’s such a small part of a wider world. Moving to the Outer Banks in North Carolina gave me a chance to see the Atlantic Ocean for the first time. I swam in the blue and didn’t even get nudged by a shark (thankfully).
Now I’m in Nuevo Mexico, the land of green chile. I was finishing up work on a particularly cold day when snow began drifting down from the overcast sky. On the walk to my car I opened my mouth like a little boy to catch a flake or two on my tongue. As I drove home, closer to the Sandia Mountains and higher in elevation, I saw something that gave me a big goofy grin. Inside a schoolyard kids were rolling up a snowman. A snowman! I’ve never seen anything like it.
That’s why I’m living this life. Sure, I’ll settle down and grow roots eventually. But for now I have this, and along the way I’m becoming more of the person I want to be.
“Like a river that don’t know where it’s flowin’ / I took a wrong turn and I just kept goin’.” – Springsteen
Hey, it’s been a while. I haven’t been writing much lately (because I suck), but it’s time to step up to the plate once again and start swingin’. That’s maybe the first baseball metaphor I’ve ever used while writing.
I’ll probably repost some old album reviews and whatnot, just so I have all my goods here in one place.
Did you know Brand New is in the studio? If they can finally get back to work, so can I.