My day started out at 7 in the m--*buzz!!*
My day started out at 8 in the morning, my alarms finally waking me from sleeping. After dreerily pulling myself together, throwing on a shirt with an overshirt I thought would look nice, and made sure I didn't smell like a goat, I grabbed a breakfast McGriddle that Dad had been kind enough to surprisingly get me, and I was out.
...but first stopping on a deserted road along the way, picking up a nice flower, in case I met a pretty girl while up there! ^_^
Traffic on 30 out towards there was heavier than I had anticipated, and I didn't reach Bourbonais until about 10...followed by a half-hour of going around town, eventually and eventually getting closer to the Shine.FM broadcasting studio. Thanks to the directions of a kind older lady, I jogged to the place, which then wasn't far off. The building was a lot different than I had imagined, though--I didn't even think it was going to have a building entirely to itself! It was a plain white building with something of a big parking lot, sitting anonymously next to the road. You wouldn't know it was a radio station if somebody hadn't told you! It actually used to be a Hardee's...but, obviously, now it wasn't.
I went inside, being immediately greeted by the secretary, her desk being right across from the entrance. "Hi, is Johnny Rock in?"
"No, I'm sorry, he had to leave early."
That line...made me start to fret. DJ Johnny Rock had been integral to my day's plans! I was supposed to meet up with him, since he didn't respond to my e-mails, though at the time I didn't know why, and from there plans were to be made for me to meet up with Sanctus Real, maybe show them the video and get to hang out, and, if possible, even get to go eat sushi with them (they had a contest over there, and winner would get to go out for sushi with Sanctus Real--I was curious, though, if maybe they might squeeze me in too! :D). But unfortunately...Johnny Rock wasn't there, and had left for the day, and was unreachable. This...was bad. I explained to the kind secretary (her name was Diane!) about my music video, and how I was supposed to see Sanctus Real and share it with them. As she listened, she became very, very sympathetic.
"You mean you drove all the way out here...and planned to spend the day out here with them?"
I don't know how long it's been since a live, physical, flesh-and-blood stranger had shown kindness to me...but the altruism of Diane was something that really surprised me! She showed me about the studio, showing me the different rooms, offices, stations for students, and even a classroom-in-the-making! She then led me to a glass door with a card lock, slid her pass through, then showed me the studios. One was quaint...it was used for recording...but the other one was where the meat happened! It was a room...and a very big room at that! There was a lot of empty space...but you didn't much notice. The wall facing the road was just about completely windows. These were those kinds of windows that went up and sloped, letting you see the sky above you. In the corner was the DJ's desk, with CD's in back of his chair. And around the desk were chairs for guests...but these things were cool! They were...hands! Colored hands! Big, colored hands, positioned just so that somebody could sit and lounge in them! And all over them were writing. "When the artists come in, we have them autograph the chairs. Then we give them away later on as prizes," Diane explained. She quietly let me look in awe at the place. I'm not a fanboy...but Chicago-land radio station 89.7, Shine.fm is, and from what I can see, will always be my favorite radio station. And...I got to see where famous artists have been, where it's broadcasted 24/7, and everything that makes it Shine.FM.
On the way out, Diane asked me if I wanted a frisbee. During the summer, there was something of a roadtrip done in conjuntion with the radio station, and these were handed out. Now...they had a lot left over! I'm not one to turn down free stuff...ever...so I happily obliged. I gave her the back-up CD I had originally planned to give to Sanctus Real, telling her she could have it, since I wasn't going to see the folks anyways. She in turn told me where I could go to hang out and entertain myself until the concert...like the mall downtown! "It's by Barnes & Nobles."
"All right!! Now I can finish reading that Chobits manga!!" I gleefully thought to myself.
This was not to be, though, as I started to drive in what I thought was the right direction. As buildings become sparser and sparser, giving way to forests, wide, wide open farmlands, rural homes, and power lines...I figured I went the wrong way. My confusion was assuaged away as I saw a sign saying, "Rock Creek Park ---> This Way". Who am I to not enjoy the wildlife while I'm out here anyways?
I visited Rock Creek, finding myself an icky-but-useable rain-saturated walking stick, which I needed later on. I went through the park, surprised at the lack of mosquitos for the most part, going through the trail, greenery on all sides of me when I was in the open air, and surrounded by beautiful trees bathed in light shining through the leaves while in the forest. Eventually the trail turned onto what appeared an abandoned, asphalt road. I travelled this road, stopping, seeing a branching trail from that. Robert Frost I think was the person who said, "...and I, I took the path less travelled...and that's what made all the difference."
It was a steep path, with steps made only from dirt held into place by tree roots, making a very awkward stairs. The walking stick helped me to keep my balance on the way down. I wouldn't have gone through the trouble of checking this path out if not for the fact that, at the bottom, was what looked like a small trickling stream coming from the rocks, pouring its very, very small current into the larger river right next to it. I made my way down, finally coming to a small ledge. I got the walking stick into a groove, trying to make my way safely down...when it cracked. I fell as the stick broke, the upper end jabbing right into my armpit, as I fell hard, barely catching myself at the bottom.
I sat there for a few moments, recollecting myself, when I looked down, my worst fears coming to life. Just letting you folks know, it's never a good idea to get yourself dirty when you're 2 hours from home without a change of clothes!! My shirts were dirty...and I was saddened. I couldn't meet Sanctus Real like this! I then thought in my mind I needed to find a Salvation Army, or some place, before the concert. Even if I wasn't going to get to meet Sanctus Real, I at least wanted to look nice! I meet even get the off-chance to meet up with them after the concert!
I sighed, taking off my shirts, sitting next to the river, the air feeling nice against my skin. I was there by the riverside for about an hour. It was...beautiful there. I could hear a soft, low mutter of traffic in the distance, which was accompanied by the sounds of the wildlife, with the birds singing, the leaves in the treetop canopies rustling with the wind, and the bubbling of the quickly flowing river as it passed by. There was a heavy, heavy rain the night before, and on the back roads there were still some puddles...and here in the park it was very apparent. In the river, I noticed disturbances in the current, showing there were things underneath it. From the disturbance, it looked like it was a big log or branch.
I finally returned to my car, and once again attempted to find the mall...with much failure. I kept running into areas and intersections I know that I had been there before, then, after about two hours...I returned to the campus, and wandered around honestly pretty aimlessly for about five hours, sometimes finding a free computer station, and quickly going on the internet to check my e-mail in hopes of a letter from Johnny Rock. No such e-mail was to come, though. As I wandered, honestly disappointed, I couldn't help but feel lonely. It wasn't the first time I'd been forgotten, left behind, or pushed into the background to be ignored. I wasn't sure why, but these situations with people happened to me a lot. I even ate lunch with the college students, going to the end of one lone lunch table, since I wasn't sure how to meet or talk to people there. A group of students eventually sat there, and greeted me cordially, at first wanting to get to know me. I wasn't sure how to join into the conversation, though, and was soon ignored. I felt very alone there....
Finally over at the concert hall, I noticed the buses starting to come in. Jeremy Camp and Seven Places arrived, but Sanctus Real arrived only later. I wandered around more aimlessly as time went on, at times checking into the hall. I chose the exact right time at one point, thoug.... Sanctus Real had arrived, and there they were, doing a soundcheck on stage. I sat quietly at the back of the spacious, empty hall, as they flung into one of their songs, "Say It Loud", I believe it was. The lead singer was away, so they played it lyricless. Meanwhile, I sat where I was, smiling, quietly humming the words to myself. I actually had forgotten about that until writing it just now...
Soon the t-shirt and apparel vendors had set up shop. The lone t-shirt I wore, while cleaner than it was at the park, still had a slight blemish upon it. To cover it up, I bought a shirt from the Sanctus Real vendor, displaying the band's name on the chest of the t-shirt, done in the style of Nascar's official logo. I love that shirt.... ^_^
Shine.FM set up shop there. DJ Tower stood outside, broadcasting live as the lines to get tickets formed. I got in the line for those who free tickets coming to them.... I looked at the guy in back of me. "Hey, how'd you get your tickets?" "Oh, I heard them last night and tried calling them. Heh heh, it turned out I won!" When asked the same, he was a little bit surprised to see that it was because of a music video that I was there. The kind secretary from that morning, Diane, was actually at the tickets table. She recognized me immediately, though I was brandishing my ID. "Mikey! Hey!" It made me smile getting to hear her.
As I walked back outside with my ticket, I saw a familiar face. There, talking to a lady who I later learned was "Jess from the morning show" was...the guy who started all this in the first place: Johnny Rock. I walked up to him, giving a welcoming smile. He looked at me, and surprisingly, "Heyyy! You made it! I'm glad you're here! I e-mailed you a couple times, but I didn't get anything back. If you did, my e-mail inbox was crammed full of junk e-mail. You all right? Did you get your tickets? Your name is on that list!" he spouted out, quite suddenly. I smiled and nodded, showing him my ticket, and talking with him a little bit. "Yeah, I'm so sorry all that happened that way.... You know, I might've even been able to squeeze you in with them for that sushi thing if I had enough time...!" D'oh!!
He then asked me to come along, and after a brief introduction, he handed me over to Tower, who then flipped a switch on his microphone after briefly talking to me. "Shine.FM, music for Generation Now." I looked at him in horror for a moment. "We are broadcasting live here from the soon-to-be Jeremy Camp, Seven Places, and Sanctus Real concert, and...I'm standing here with a guy who did an anime tribute to Sanctus Real! Are you pumped?"
"I'm pumped!" I enthusiastically replied.
"Okay, and is there some place you can get this on the internet?"
"You need an account over at animemusicvideos.org", I replied.
"Shine," he finished, as the song started up.
From there, things brightened up. I filled out a small survey and got some free merchandise, including an "In the Name of Love" sticker, a free promotional CD, and a car antennae ball advertising a CD. In the hall, I found a seat as close to the front as I was allowed (I didn't have the "special" sort of ticket that could net met a front-ish row seat. As I sat there, Diane came by with a brown-haired lady. "Hey Mikey, this's my friend Roxanne. I also showed her your video," she explained.
"That was amazing!" Roxanne replied. "You go to school for this?"
I felt a little uneasy about the praise, and just explained it was only a hobby I had. It wasn't anything spectacular, and there were people out there better than me...but I tried to do my best.
The ladies left, but then not too long after I heard behind me, "Hey!! Excuse me...! Didn't you used to work at Wendy's?!"
...oh...dear...sweet, for the love of...!!
Behind me with her sister and friends, I'm guessing, was a blonde girl with glasses. I have a horrible memory, I really do...but why do I remember customers from Wendy's?! I remember she had come in a lot, though whether it was while I was working at that first or second Wendy's in Valparaiso, I'm not entirely sure. I looked at her in horror for a moment, before slowly responding, "What are...you doing here...?!"
They apparently went to school there at Olivet Nazarene University, and were interested in seeing Jeremy Camp. I made small talk, talking about what they were doing, how they liked it at the university, etc., briefly said some things about what was going on in my life...then lied as the conversation lulled, saying I would be right back. I got up and walked away, not sure if I honestly would return or not. I'm not one for conversation...I'm a pretty quiet and shy fellow usually when it comes to people...and I honestly had no idea what to talk about with her. As a last resort, I always could've gone to talking about Junior Bacon Cheeseburgers, because everybody who ever talks to me about Wendy's always brings up those 99-cent Junior Bacon Cheeseburgers. ...but in all honesty, I just had no idea what to say to the girl.
Later when I returned, I saw my seat was taken, but a seat right next to the blonde girl was open. While that could have been nice to watch the concert at...I couldn't see myself sitting next to her the whole time. I instead grabbed myself a seat in the back...which, not until the concert started...I realized was the guy I had eaten lunch earlier that day next to. The blonde girl with glasses and this guy were friendly...likely really awesome people, very friendly...but I had no idea how to talk to them. I didn't know what to say.
But anyways, enough talk about them, because now, the concert had started!! Seven Places went onstage first. Yey!
Next was Sanctus Real!!
As the stagelights lit up as their music cranked up and started jamming, my fist went into the air, shouting. It's not that I wasn't into the other bands and their music...I honestly think they have awesome music that I jam my head to in the car...but Sanctus Real has yet to disappoint me with any of their songs, whether music-wise or the lyrical content. Every song is like a gem!
All the bands did something that night, though--they talked about Christianity. Each one gave a different respective viewpoint. They told of how it isn't about following rules, blindly going after some "big guy" in the sky, living with your tail between your legs afraid if you're going to do the wrong thing and go to hell. but rather it's about a relationship with Jesus, and he loved you so much to take your sin and pay the penalty for it on the cross, and that's what gets you to Heaven. When they were talking, the entire audience was quiet. It was such a powerful moment...and it was then I wished I had somebody to have gone along with me.
Jeremy Camp, the main and final act, eventually came on stage, and after talking to Johnny Rock a little bit, I realized the disk I brought along with their music video...was locked up in the studio. While at first my brain registered defeat...the McGyver in me took over. I asked where the computer lab was, then rushed over to there, thankfully finding it open. I went to the lab operator's small office, peaking my head in, asking if I might be able to buy a writeable CD from him...when, on his computer screen, I saw him downloading from animemusicvideos.org!
"Ahhhh!" I pointed at the screen. "That's where I need to go!!"
He allowed me to get on the comp, where I started the download of the video, explaining to him about the video and needing to get it to Sanctus Real before they left. I asked him about the animes he liked, to which he replied mostly "Inuyasha". ...er...not much common ground there, so I asked him about Cowboy Bebop. "Yeah!!"
Five minutes into my download, though, he remembered something interesting. "Oh.... This computer doesn't have a writeable CD-Rom...." Twenty minutes, another writeable CD, and two computers later, I finally had the video...but before I left, I asked him if he left opinions on videos.
I gave him a dollar, and asked him to leave one for me. And it worked, too! ^_^
I ran back to the concert hall, tripping on the stairs and hurting my knee on the way up. Jeremy Camp had finished up, and the bands were by their booths, signing autographs. I stood in line, then finally during my turn, I shook the lead singer's hand, explaining who I was and about my hobby, and what I'd made for them. He brightened up at the mention of "a video with 'Beautiful Day'", and thankfully took the CD, telling me thank you, and asking my name.
So I walked back to my car, getting out my cell phone and text-messaging those out there who might've cared. As I reached my car, I sat down, the remnants of what was collected and dirtied throughout the day piled on the seat next to me. That's when a thought hit me....
As quickly as I was able, I hopped into my car and drove as close to the concert hall as possible, parking space now much freed up. I grabbed the frisbee Diane had given me earlier and a Sharpie, which, for some odd reason, was there in the car. I slammed the door and took off running, feet pumping to the hall. Sanctus Real, plus the other bands, had left their posts--everything was already being taken down. I walked outside by the buses, happening to see Sanctus Real's lead singer run by me. "Hey!" I called out.
He stopped, exchanging a brief couple words...when I quietly asked, "...if it's not any trouble...I was wondering if I could get an autograph?" He perked up a moment, walking over to me and smiling. "Sure!" He wrote on the Shine.FM frisbee, then turned around, going back into his jog. "See you, Mikey!"
I couldn't help but smile he called me that....
I then started walking back to my car, smiling broadly, looking at my frisbee. It was his name, plus a Scripture: 1Timothy...something. It was the verse about not letting people look down on your youth, but rather to be an example to those older than you. As I walked and continued to look at the frisbee, that culmination and proof that everything that day did indeed happen...something that still puzzles me.
What is his name?! I can't read that hand-writing!!