I have been told by people deep in members of three different congregations that there isn’t a wrong way to pray. I just wanted to take a second to share a little thing that I do when I pray. When I pray I don’t put my palms together. Instead I open my hands to show God that God is welcome to join me. This way my hands are open to God and inviting God. Sometimes I even move my fingers as if say please come join me. I guess I figure if I am praying to God, I better be welcoming.
I have been going back and forth on updating this site consistently. I have been using this site to redirect talk that wasn’t related to cards from my AngryCardCollector.com site; and to direct employers so they can find sample writing from me. Now that I have released a book, I see that having this site is worthwhile; especially because I plan to release more under the ‘My Life is Fiction’ umbrella. For the most part, I am going to consciously use the same writing style as what can be found in it. I have no plans to write about my day for the sake of writing about my day; I will write when I have a story to tell or information to share. My depression and doesn’t define me, cards don’t define me, my life that feels like fiction defines me.
We all have bands that are our favorites. Bands that mean a ton to us for various reasons. I have always had a great relationship with music. It has kept me sane over the years.
Those of you that know me or of me, know that I own a successful music website in the past. Before bloggers killed the internet, I was basically a music blogger in high school; the site didn’t just have that dirty ‘b word’ attached to it. The site did well for itself and my passion paid off. Heck it had 10,000 hits a day at one point. I was booking concerts to see my favorite bands play, getting free cds to review by the dozens in the mail, and going to a few concerts every week. As far as I am concerned, this was the time of my life. Why wouldn’t it be? But then life happened. I turned 18, graduated high school and faced a ton of demons. Offspring’s ‘Gotta Get Away’ sums up my depression the best:
I’m getting edgy all the time
There’s someone around me just a step behind
It’s kinda scary the , the shape I’m in
The walls are shakin’and they’ re closing in
Too fast or a bit too slow
I’m paranoid of people and it’s starting to show
There’ s one guy that I can’t shake
As you will be reminded about later, Offspring have been one of my favorite bands ever. I liked their music before I read their lyrics.
So going back to this story, let me take you to 2003 where I am running my site and dealing with bands consistently. What follows is a timeline of how Much the Same became one of my favorite bands of all time.
2001 to 2003 ish – I download a random song from AF Records. The song is Quitters Never Win by Much the Same. I did this numerous times with other bands and labels so it was just me keeping track of the punk scene that I was highly involved in at the time. I was running my site at the time so there is nothing special about this.
– I actually like the song. Now realize the volume of music that I am listening to and dealing with at the time. There is tons of junk that I skip through and/or delete. I was listening to a ton of music but as someone trying to get a job right now, I will be the first to tell you that breaking through is probably the biggest battle of the war.
– I decide to buy Much the Same’s album. For the average person this is not a milestone, is not even a milestone for me on other occasions. I only remember it because at this time, actually paying for an album was insane. The only albums that I buy at this point are for bands I really like; bands like Offspring and a few others. I have no point in buying CDs at this time.
May/June 2003 – I listen to the CD; not a ton but it is in the last month of me being in high school so I listen to it walking home from school. At this point, they are still just another band for me. Quitters Never Win is a good album and one of the rare ones that I can listen to all the way through. Decent accomplishment but looking back, there are a few albums that I listened to like this that don’t hold up for me.
2003 to 2004 – I graduate high school in summer of 2003. I am not going to air all my demons here but I was forced to confront a lot of family issues, and faced way too much pressure because some of the demands, and the way they were being dealt with was way too intense. My head broke and my depression began to be destructive. I didn’t do anything that will break the law like drug addiction; instead I internalized my problem and shuddered myself. I really didn’t want to be on this planet. Now I will be the first to tell you, this was my issues and my depression caused me to make some awful choices about friendships and life influences. I am talking like this was all a bad thing but the depression actually forced me to tackle some relationships that were dysfunctional on both ends.
I was also going through puberty at this time, hey this was age 17/18, so I can only imagine what the hormones did to my depression. Hormones are hard enough but my depression has been prevalent all my life, it was just better at hiding during some periods. My depression was never so bad that I wanted to end my life like it was at this point. It should also be noted that during this time, I severely injure my back. My depression causes me to damage every friendship and family dynamic that I had. I purposely sabotaged numerous relationships at the time. If anyone reading this was a friend with me at this time: I am genuinely sorry for 99.9% of my actions.
It should be noted, at this time, I go through an event that would later lead to a PTSD diagnosis.
– Because of my depression and demons, I am so close to suicide that it’s not even funny.
During the time, I am still listening to music. I am trying to run my site but failing. Ultimately I am really only listening to music that I want to listen to, and not music that I feel obligated to listen to. I find myself repeating the song “Quitters Never Win” by Much the Same. In case you are confused, ‘Quitters Never Win’ is the name of the song that got me through tough times and the album title. This is a long post and I could write 10 whole pages dissecting the lyrics to the song. I am not going to do that. Here are the lyrics from http://www.metrolyrics.com/quitters-never-win-lyrics-much-the-same.html:
I’ve waited long enough and I’ve been putting it all off
It’s time I got myself going again
I’ve made enough excuses to last ’til the end of time
I’ve got to move forward with my plans
I tell myself that I am not cut out for this
I don’t like anything that’s happening now
But when I think of losing everything I’ve done so far
I know I’ve got to make it work somehow
What good is a friend if you can’t look him in the eye?
What good is honesty if it feels like a lie?
What good is a dream if you never even try?
I thought that I was free and that I left that guy behind
I wanted to believe that someday I’d reach the sky
And if I don’t press on then I’ll watch the new me die
And the sadder self survive
This isn’t as easy as they make it look on TV
I’d never have guessed it was so hard
And maybe you can hear it in the strain of my voice
The perils of it caught me off guard
But when you know that burning deep inside of you
Is not something so easily ignored
You get back on that horse no matter how many times you fall
‘Cause it’s better than everything you’ve done before
My life is chronicled in lapses of writer’s block
Opening a window to let my feelings be mocked
You ask me why I put myself through this, to you I say
If you’ve ever chased a dream you know I can have it no other way
This is me today
During this period when I felt very alone, it felt like the songwriter could relate to me. I have to be honest, I knew people had found solace in lyrics and I did too but I never understood when people said that a certain band did so much for them. Well, now I empathized a lot. This was even before a moment that you will learn about in a few seconds.
Depression is a time when you feel very alone. I didn’t think that anyone understood what I was going through. I felt like I didn’t have any allies. Now here magically is a ray of light when life is so dark.
At this time, I am trying to run my site, but life is too much. I still listen to a ton of music and CDs at the time. I used to go about 2 concerts a week. Now I stay inside and never leave. I only go if a band plays the local venue near me. I still see some great touring bands this way but I am not going to Hollywood like I used too – by the way family and family of my friends at the time, thank you. I don’t know how I did this without driving but looking back, I appreciate the effort from people driving me.
For the most part, I have the song QNW on repeat but that is to cope. It’s in a small rotation of music I listen to. I listen to the album a few times a week. QNW (the song and not the album of the same name) is still on my computer so I listen to that everyday. Not excessively but it’s just the mood I am in.
I basically turn into an internet troll at this time. My depression is dark and like a troll I live in a cave that is my dark room that I never leave. It’s how I cope with my demons. I find that the album is real. Here is a band that plays songs about life, and not a bunch of boyfriend/girlfriend relationships. Sure those are prevalent but ‘Quitters Never Win’ is the first album that resonates me where I actually understand what they are saying. It’s even got a song about being destructive in a friendship, how perfect is that for what I was going through?
– I had one specific dark moment where I had a blade to my wrist and the song came on. There is no question in my mind that song subconsciously talked me out of it. For the record, I was strong enough and gave my mom the blade and asked her to the hide the knives. Sorry Mom, but thank you.
– I want to take a second to talk about the beauty of the cover art of “Quitters Never Win.” It is a man standing on a ledge of a tall building facing a city. In short, he can jump and end it or go back and tackle the big city. In short, I felt like the man on the ledge in the cover.
Late 2005 to 2008 – Now I am at the tail end of my huge depression cycle. Life is getting better and I am picking up the shattered pieces. I move on to the next stage of my life. Music isn’t my life. I am not sure of the dates in the band’s life but I do have confidence that I can put them in order, with my life commentary, so here it goes:
– Much the Same sign with Nitro Records for their next album. Now this in itself is amazing and big news to me. Offspring own this label. I hate to say so and so band is my favorite because there are so many good bands and I probably have about 5 all time favorites while loving a good 50 bands. Offspring though have always been in my top 3. They were my first concert and my gateway into the beauty of the punk music scene and punk ethics. So with this news I am giddy. I am thinking “Holy crap, Offspring know how special Much the Same are. That’s the best news that I have heard all year.” Now I know at this point the band barely ran the label but they still had an amazing catalog and one of the few labels whose catalogs that I enjoyed. I can genuinely say it you take Offspring out of the equation on Nitro Records that I would feel this way, as Nitro Records was a great label. My feelings of liking this special band are validated by the signing; and validated by a labels opinion that I care about.
I just checked the Nitro Records and am reminded that signing Much the Same was actually the second time they justified me liking me a band. I was a huge Rufio fan before they signed to Nitro Records. Seriously going through the roster, there is so many great bands: Bodyjar, The Start, No Trigger, all of the early AFI records, and Don’t Look Down.
Now Don’t Look Down are a funny story. That was the name of Much the Same before they changed their name and I actually listened to Much the Same thinking they were the NJ Don’t Look Down before Much the Same were on my radar.
– Much the Same’s next album is titles ‘Survive.’ This is way too fitting. It is another great album. It doesn’t have a song like QNW to me but it is full of great songs about life. I am writing this over ten years later and I must say that I listen to Survive a lot more than QNW now.
I see the band twice during this time period. Both times are in Orange County which is quite a drive for me. In one case, my car breaks down on the way to a concert and I am stranded on the Sepulveda hill, that parallels the 101. It’s a miracle that it didn’t happen on the freeway. I see them 2 days later.
2007 – Much the Same break up.
– I move on with my life. I still listen to them and they are one of the bands who I will always listen to. I still make a point to keep tabs on them. Bands break up. I was just glad that I made a point to see them at a point when I didn’t go to many concerts.
A bit later, another parallel happens. Through social media I am able to keep tabs on the band and what they are up too. I see the singer is active in a church. I don’t think much of it but then in 2011 I go through a major life event, a cancer scare, and find God after pretending that I was an atheist all my life. On Facebook you are able to follow people and see their public posts. I probably do that with the singer. I see his struggle with with faith and punk values. Around 2015/2016, I get serious about religion and understand his struggle because it is a struggle I go through when these posts appear in my feed – they barely ever appear but when they do I think it is relatable: our punk ethics versus the religious establishment. I just think it’s funny because it adds another wrinkle to me appreciating the band. As I type this I am a Deacon at a church.
2015 to now – Much the Same get back together but are very real about their intentions. They are basically a local Chicago band now who take advantage of great band opportunities.
I make a mental note to go to Chicago to see them. Ya right, I am not going to Chicago anytime soon.
Last night – By some miracle, Much the Same play Southern California. My car probably won’t make the show because it is too far so I borrow a car and make the hour and half drive to Orange County – traffic dictated that it was over 2 hours. I live further from there than I did the past 2 times that I saw them. I had the time of my life.
I am about to get real with you. Like with Mauro Ranello situation, I can relate even more to Chester Bennington’s death. I can’t speak for him but I can speak about the situation and want to kill some misconceptions about people who are close to suicide. Now this post will probably be career suicide but I am not going to hold back at all.
For the past 15 years, at least, every day of my life I have thought about committing suicide. I am 31 years old, that is half of my life and professionals think that I have had depression since before I entered Kindergarten.
Every day, even my best days. This is not an exaggeration. This is a fact of my life that I have learned to deal with. No matter what medications I am on, no matter who I talk to, no matter what I am doing in life, the feeling is always there to varying levels. I am not someone in love with death either, in fact death scares me. That is probably the reason why I am still here to type this.
I can’t blame it on drugs either. If I die tomorrow, you can’t blame it on drugs. This is a common misconception that I am hearing with people. He was fine yesterday, he must be on drugs since he died. Now with most of the celebrities, they probably were, but if you are battling suicide drugs are not always a reason. My guess is that in most of the cases, drugs were being used to mask the feeling of wanting to commit suicide. The person taking them, possibly abusing them, probably had these feelings anyway. I am not going to defend drugs and drug abusers but if you want to blame drugs that is like blaming the car when the driver was the one steering it. Sure the airbags and safety systems in the car could have helped save the person, but it was the person driving who needed to be stopped.
Speaking for myself, my best days bring the worst of this feeling in me. I am hanging out with my best friends, having a great time and then boom in the car ride I think that I don’t deserve this. I convince myself that I said a million irrational thoughts telling myself that I did something to push these people away during our interaction. Then a magical thing happens because they are my friends and normal people, these people come back or text me saying that we had a good time and we don’t hang out enough after the interaction. Even with that, it is still a struggle and fight with myself.
Saying that you are there for the person only does so much. I have gone through so many stages of this so I will cover them base by base.
– Some times I would take the person up on the advice and they would not be able to handle what I poured on them. I have lost numerous people in my life this way. These people probably meant well but they had their own problems and they couldn’t handle mine so they created a situation where I felt worse about myself when they reacted to me. In some cases, these people told everyone about my problems and reinforced the stigma that people with mental health issues face. In defense of some of these people, they genuinely don’t understand mental health issues, and react with brisk coldness. Mental health issues needs to be educated.
I will admit this. I have been on this side of the fence before. I have offered others help thinking that I could help them because I went through some similar things. Well mental health issues vary. When I encountered their issues, I found myself shunning them and using my situation as a comparable when it wasn’t. I would say to others “you think that I am crazy, what until you hear what ______________ said. I am normal right?”
Now there is a stage in between here that I have seen many do. They would know that others couldn’t handle their issues so they tell them everything in an effort to break the person and scare them away. It is almost a form of taking control of a situation that you know will be bad so you might as well control the crash.
– For a while, this caused me to resent anyone who everyone who offered help. I felt like “Ya, you don’t mean it. You are saying this so others can hear what you are saying but don’t mean it. Go fuck yourself.” I still feel this with some people but truthfully it is mainly in a work environment, where I don’t feel one should wear their heart on their sleeve. Now this is hard sometimes but if you lived with it long enough, you learn to manage.
Back to the people who offer help. To so many people suffering this feels like an empty gesture. It is good old American politeness at work. You mean well but do you mean what you said?
– Now I am at the stage where I leave bits and pieces to feel people out; if I feel them out at all. I am talking 95% don’t even make it to the feeling out stage on purpose. This is just maturity in the battle of someone battling mental health issues. Those that do, it is only because I will probably hang around with them more than once. Sometimes though, I just can’t hide it. I can’t pretend to carry myself like I am happy because I never am. It is a miracle that I can carry myself at all, even though I wish that I could happy all the time.
Some bits can be huge like this one; this is 1/4 of my story and way more than I share. In fact only a few people close to me know how often I think about suicide. I worry that I wouldn’t be able to do things that I love and do things that enable me to not think about what is going on in my head. You know things like coaching, working a full-time job, having a social life, being around people.
– Now I am at the point where I only talk about my issues with a select few. In my mind, it is a miracle that they have stayed around. These are the true friends though.
So you can post the suicide help line. You can say that you will be there for people suffering. That is a nice gesture but it is a selfish and usually meaningless gesture to someone suffering. What you probably should do is shake the person suffering and say let me hear you. Say “I know you want me to think that you are okay, but I know you are not. It is okay to talk to me.” Even then it might take a while for it to sink in with the person. I know thst I gsve a lot of what you shouldn’t dp but here is the best thing that you can do is be a good person. Say what you mean to the person suffering. The people suffering have been strong, and carry the weight of the world everyday. Don’t think any less of them when they break. That is the worst thing that you can do.
Dear Uncle Rick,
Your fans know you as Rich, your wife as Richard, my mom as Rick or pain in the ass. I know that we weren’t close but I was closer to you than I was any of my many aunts and uncles. Perhaps it is because we are both six and a half feet. Perhaps it is because we are critical thinkers. Who am I kidding? It is because my mom thought the world of you and only said good things about you. We had a lot more in common that you realized. In reality we were closer than either of us gave credit for. Like a true Buckler, you were humble. You probably didn’t think our email exchanges meant that much to me, and I probably didn’t think our email exchanges meant much to you. We both know the truth and I am sure that we each held each other closer to our hearts than we realized.
I was proud that you were my Uncle. I love my family but it is not easy to be open about it. It’s not like it comes up in conversation how one’s mom or uncle is cool. Comics gave me that opening to brag about family when I wish I could talk about them constantly. “Oh you liked the Fantastic Four movie, did you read the comic? Oh by the way, my Uncle worked on it.” You came up in conversation at least once a week. I am sure people around me are sick of me bragging about my Uncle Rick.
You had a hand in so many great comics that it is crazy. I don’t even need to go to your Wikipedia page to rattle them off and I have never been a comic person. Off the top of my head, Fantastic Four, Black Panther, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Eerie/Creepy with my dad, and everyone’s favorite: Deathlok. That is just what I can rattle off the top of my head without checking. You worked with the greats: Ditko, Sinnot, and you were mentored by Jack Kirby. Your peers were all times greats because you were an all time great. My personal favorite thing about you is that your art was turned into a stamp by the United States Postal Service. It is so easy to get 15 minutes of fame this day and age but your 15 minutes are an infinity because your legacy cannot be ignored.
My favorite memories with anyone, were going to San Diego Comic Con when you were there and we would hang out together. I know how much you were suffering the past few months and it pained me. Every time the phone would ring from New York, my heart would drop because it never got better. You said that you had good days but I know how strong you tried to stay for your family. I know that you didn’t want to be sick and would rather be drawing or at a convention than in bed. You are a fighter and while cancer may have won, I know that it rued the day that it ever messed with you because you gave it the fight of your life.
Even taking away all of your comic achievements I would still think the world of you. Your comic achievements just make it easier to bring up how awesome my family is.
You were the reason why my parents met for crying out loud.
We come from a great family full of great people. You were no exception. I mean you were the reason that my parents met.
Have fun in heaven Uncle Rick and buy Jack Kirby and my father a beer for me while you are up there. Meanwhile, here is to you: my great Uncle Rick.
Your favorite nephew