Comfort Zones

Christmas is near! Strangely, I can actually kind of feel the Christmas spirit this year. For the past two years, our family hasn’t been celebrating it mainly because we’re too lazy to care. Don’t get me wrong, we’re still pretty lazy this year to set up the decorations and deal with the additional pile of dust on the Christmas tree. It’s just that we’re actually playing a bit of Christmas music in the car and we’ve bought the most items this month (since everything is sale online). December hasn’t even ended but we’ve shopped so much online already. My Dad is even buying a new car. I know Christmas isn’t just supposed to be about the music and being materialistic, but that’s what made it feel like Christmas to me XD

Since it is Christmas season, the Christmas parties happened and I don’t even know how to start this…

Okay, our youth band was invited for the International Carol Service. It’s the time of the year when people from other countries come together just to listen to Christmas songs in someone else’s language. Honestly, I don’t even know why we were invited for the International Carol Service when we had a gig the next day. We didn’t have time to perfect ourselves for two events since we only had 2 hours to practice five songs, two of which we were going to play the same day of practice. It’s just not enough time considering how we have a blurry understanding of each others’ styles since the the band members always changed every week. We didn’t even have time to rehearse on stage—something that I think is so crucial to do before every performance. Through rehearsals, I can quickly evaluate how well we’d do as a band because we’ll go through the chords one last time to make sure we’re all going to be on the same page, and if there were audio problems, it would already be resolved when the performance comes. If we really weren’t going to do that, I was certain we would all screw ourselves some point that night.

And so, after practice, we went down to watch the carol service as we waited for our turn. At first I was chill like that night was like any other gig. Because I thought, if I already played in Illuminate, this wouldn’t be a problem, right? However, I think I became more anxious by having Christelle beside me. She was so nervous the whole time because she felt like she wasn’t going to get the right key. Eventually, I started worrying about my own instrument, too. What if my bass doesn’t get loud enough for me to hear myself properly? What if it doesn’t go through the speakers at all? What if I go on stage out of tune? Should I just go on stage and borrow the bass already set up?

Our fears got worse when Sebastian’s family played a song he personally wrote with his sister. I could tell that Sebastian has a great talent in writing songs since he has sung songs that he wrote a few times in our youth group. I was also very impressed by his little sister since it was clear and nice and it would someday grow to be a gorgeous voice, but it was hard to focus on all that when Sebastian’s guitar was clearly out of tune and/or he was on the wrong key. It sounded so horrible that I felt bad for him and his family. It was so cringe worthy and embarrassing that Christelle and I couldn’t keep calm on our seats. Little did we know that was also going to be our fate later….

The fact that the Chinese group’s speaker was shaking made me feel a little less nervous, though. I felt if someone was more nervous than we were, things wouldn’t go as bad, right?

However, the moment we dreaded came. I went on stage, the church’s bassist plugged in my bass for me, and I waited for Sebastian to introduce us.

Sebastian, the kid who’s such a goody-goody-Christian leader spirit wanted to play a song that he translated from Spanish to English. When we jammed to it the first time, I found the chords quickly, and since I liked the blues style of the song, I became quite excited to play it. So I decided to play with him since I found no harm…

But with one strum, my head exploded in embarrassment for his guitar was out of tune—as in puke worthy, out of tune. It seems like he didn’t fix his guitar tuning when everyone else played after them. But what’s even worse is that I myself sounded out of tune. Either I couldn’t hear myself, or I was really out of tune, or both.

Gosh, it was horrible. I remember turning to Edwin, the keyboardist, hoping he would somehow carry the song and fix this mess, but even he sounded out of tune or out of key (probably because we were out of tune). Oh it’s so painful just recalling it now. I planned to do so many things and add so many grooves, but at that moment I just did the most basic things and turned my bass’s audio so low that I wished it wouldn’t go through the speakers.

When that song finished, I tried tuning my bass for bass, but even after doing that, it still didn’t sound right. We had not much time, everyone was watching us, and we had to play the next song.

We as a whole band planned on playing O Come O Ye Faithful and this is when I knew shit will go down for me. Since most traditional Christmas songs have way too many chord changes and are a pain in the ass to play, I practiced the songs that I felt like I could do. The dreadful thing is I didn’t practice O Come O Ye Faithful out of all the songs since it was the most annoying one. I know it was a grave mistake on my part not practicing it at home, but even if I wanted to play it, I didn’t have time. I couldn’t even have time to practice the other songs before practice since I was studying that damned Chemistry PACE thinking I could do the test on the same day (which by the way did not happen.) So I practiced the song over and over again after practice since we still had an hour to kill before we go down to play. But even when I did that, it was no use. I did know what to play, but my bass sounded awful. I just had to act like I knew what I was doing even though I wanted to kill myself at that very moment.

When it was finally done, I felt this huge relief like I just pooped out the worst stomach ache ever. Then a part of me just laughed at the whole situation. But I can’t deny that somewhere deep in the pits of my stomach, I didn’t want anyone to see me after that. I went through the back door, met my parents at the second hall, stayed there ‘til the event was over, and left before the first hall spewed everyone out.

That night, I dreamed of something (I don’t remember anymore) and Christelle and Caitlin were there. Obviously I had been a little traumatized that evening because the thought of them still followed me in my dreams. But what the dream was about is not exactly what’s important… It’s just that because of that dream, when I woke up, I just felt like International Carol service was a part of it. It felt like it was all just a bad dream as if it did not happen. It felt even more like a distant memory when I got a haircut in the morning. I guess last night’s horrible moments went along with the hair that was cut off of me. At least the church’s congregation won’t be able to recognize me until I go up on stage again with my bass for youth service next year…

 The gig on the youth’s Christmas party was another dumb story.

During practice, we had quite a fun and funky rendition of Angels We Have Heard On High as suggested by me and Jonathan. I even planned on doing a slap-bass technique for the first time, so I was so excited. I anticipated it even more since we had such a crappy night–I just wanted to do a good song for once. But then at the day of the Christmas party, we didn’t rehearse anything at all since the set up took longer than expected. Since we didn’t rehearse, that glorious and groovy tune went way over Chris D’s head and it became such a boring song. I kept on looking at Jonathan and we both had this telepathic conversation of questioning why the hell the song had turned so dull when we clearly practiced it to be so lively. I haven’t played with Jonathan for a long time and I really looked forward to grooving with him and I’m sure he anticipated it too, but oh well… maybe next time.

Even on the other songs, Edwin started the song, but our leader Chris D started way too late so we had to deal with such an emo What Child Is This piano intro, making it such a drag.

I just hate that they would all plan to schedule the set-up and rehearsals around so early but they’re not even going to stick to it. I freaking arrived there at the right time but out of all the band members, only John was there (and he was the latest yesterday arriving after we finished practicing, so he wasn’t even part of the band). Too many minutes were wasted since I was the only one helping John bringing the equipment down until Jonathan arrived like 10 minutes later. It was irritating. I hate dealing with tardy people. I get that they have lives to attend to but sheesh, we dealt with this kind of schedule on the same time every week last year and everything went fine.

And I guess I am so upset that this year’s Christmas gig was so bad because last year’s Christmas party was the best. Seriously, last year, everyone was actually having fun singing along even if we made a few little mistakes. This year’s set was just so dead.

I’m pretty sure it’s because Jonathan and I kind of carried the band last year and Mickey greatly went along with whatever we wanted. And even if Mickey did plan something, we knew his style already. Besides, the band for that Christmas party was easier to manage since it was only the three of us on the instruments. We’ve been used to each other because it’s always us every week, but this year, there are just too many members that people take breaks whenever they feel like it so we always have to switch up with those who are available.

I’m also certain that Chris D leading had a huge impact on how our set sucked this year. He seems like an awesome musician since he played piano, cahon, and guitar this year and sounded fine. I expected him to comfortable lead well and have great ideas for this set because he’s as chill as Mickey and as handsome as PewDiePie, but you can never really know until it happens. Maybe it’s because he just never led the band before. He had always been a member that went with the flow, but when he had to create the flow on his own, it just wasn’t the best for everyone, or he didn’t get his ideas across clearly to everyone. He was just the same as Mickey when Mickey was new, or maybe he was even worse. I guess I could follow Chris better than Mickey, but the energy was much better with Mickey. Chris was just too mellow that it made everything sound such a drag. It didn’t sound youthful at all.

Anyway, rewind to a few weeks back, let’s look at my friendship with Christelle. Just when I thought 2016 couldn’t get any better, she comes in my life. I’ve known her name and face ever since she was in Sparkies back in AWANA, and she became a band member just last year, but I got to know her just this year. I remember the first times we actually talked to each other. It was last year after practice and she asked me if she could ride with me and my dad to Lebanese Flower. There was another time when her cousin was with her and they rode with us to get to their home. Who knew God was teasing me that night about how our friendship would actually go?

Early this year, we started jamming to songs after Wildfire with Nina Mets. We loved doing it so much that one week, Christelle planned for us to jam on someone’s house. I offered to invite them in my home since I saw no harm in inviting just the two of them to play music. However, that day, Nina wasn’t able to come so it was just me and Christelle. I was a little nervous just having the two of us since I’ve been more comfortable with Nina Mets. But some friendships gotta officially start somewhere, right? The taxi ride on the way home was a little awkward for we didn’t know each other that well. I could tell she was still quite conscious around me, especially when there’s no one to fill the silence. Despite that, we got comfortable through music and even though it was just the two of us, it was a fun day. After that day, we always rode home together since her house was actually somewhat near the area.

We jammed after every Wildfire and got closer and closer, and we opened up to each other during taxi rides. She asks me for advice music and we’d rant about our band members’ imperfections. She’d confess to me her feelings about how she thinks this one girl hates or criticizes her in youth group (which I think is amusing because I don’t think that girl hates her at all). And in events, she would actually beg me to come as if I’m the only friend she knew that had to be there. Since she opens up to me that much, it made me open up to her a lot, too. I haven’t done that to anyone in ages.

I don’t have much too share, though… At first I did have a lot to say, but she basically knew almost everything that I do in just a few weeks and she got used to my usual reply to the question “So what do you do after this?”

One time I asked her to take the personality test since there were times when I just couldn’t wrap my head around some of her thoughts and actions. It’s funny because I was so sure she was some type of introvert but she was actually an extrovert. She’s just so awkward and shy sometimes that I can’t help but guess that she’s an introvert, but I realized how true the test was since she really likes the company of people and can be quite loud in certain times. I guess that’s why she likes me a lot since she can comfortably talk all she want and I would have a good reaction to whatever she says and I don’t make her feel awkward. The only problem I’ve had with her being an extrovert is that when we were supposed to go home early after the Christmas party, she wanted to stay more and play. I was already exhausted when we had to hang out at the Refuge room, but she wasn’t, so I waited there for an hour trying to drown out everyone’s noise. I guess it wasn’t much of a problem now that I think about it… If she had fun, then I’m happy.

It’s been a long time since I’ve felt that I have a friend that made me feel so close and truly wanted. It’s been a long time since I’ve had one-on-one talks where I could actually say something and she would listen instead of it always being the other way around. I didn’t realize how close we were for the past few weeks since there were still some times when I had to refrain from saying something. I’m pretty sure our friendship was quite normal until the Christmas carol happened. Her anxiousness drove her crazy that night that she squeezed my thigh multiple times out of nervousness and cringe. I also showed her some photos in my phone and at one point she smirked at something and said “dat booty tho” and I just lost it because seriously, where did that come from???

She even said “shit” after our performance was all over. It’s not easy to say all that when you’re in church with Christian friends, so the fact that she was comfortable with showing that side of her to me made me realize that we’re actually pretty close. XD

Even though she is three years younger than me, somehow I feel like we’re just the same age. Even now I’m still wondering if she’s really fourteen or fifteen since I just can’t wrap my mind at how young she actually is or how I’m already 17.

Back at the Christmas afterparty in the Refuge room, as I said, I had to wait for Christelle and her parents for more than an hour even though I wanted to go home. I had a lot of time to waste and I took some photos here and there, packed my bag with some sweets, and then sat down on the couch. I wanted Jessica and Nina Mets to include me in their conversation since I’m already sitting with them, but eh, they were talking about some private things so I didn’t even bother to care. Oh, but there was a time when I saw Jessica with a letter and I remembered how I gave her a letter during Christmas back in AWANA. She remembered it, too, and she told me she still has it. I’m pretty sure some cheesy words were written in that old letter but I somehow don’t find it that embarrassing. Whatever I wrote for her at that time probably felt like a huge thing for me to say, but I just find it amusing now. Even Jessica finds it amusing, too. I guess I’m really at a point where I’m finally getting over all of my past shenanigans.

When my social bar reached its peak during the hangout, I just put my hoodie up. At some point when Jessica went home, I laid my head on Nina Mets nap since I felt really tired. I could never do that with any friend back then so to comfortably do this made me really happy.

Another thing that I found was really amusing was when Nina Mets left and Jonathan sat beside me. At that time, a lot of people already left and Christelle and I were just sitting on the couch waiting for her parents. Since I was really tired, I was at this point when I just wanted to hug whoever I wanted. I was already clinging so much to Christelle, but oh man did I get excited when Jonathan sat beside me. Just to get this clear, I don’t have any feelings for him and we’re not even close (unless music is involved) but I really wanted to hug his arm. His body was already pressed so close to me and his body was really warm that I just kept thinking that it wouldn’t do any harm just to cling to him for a while. Besides, I was already clinging to Christelle who was on my left, so doing the same for the person on my right wouldn’t feel as awkward and scandalous as it might look.

Image result for minho taeyeonSo I just casually went for it and man was it more satisfying than Christelle’s small arms. His arms were bigger than my dad’s too and it made me feel so comfy… and so straight. It made me think that having a boyfriend who I could just casually link arms with like that would be nice someday. Seriously, I felt like I could sleep just leaning on someone as warm as him. There was a point when Christelle kept on leaning forward so I couldn’t keep clinging to her and that left me with only Jonathan’s arm. Gosh we would be teased and shipped if someone like Nina Mets saw us like that together (who by the way at the same day imagined Christelle’s wedding with a bunch of guys in youth group, Jonathan included lol). I mean Jonathan and I unintentionally both wore red hoodies (no one else wore something like that) and we both have box-like glasses. And while our arms were linked together, we took some blurry selfies together and he thought of me when he knew there was a dope bass line coming up on a song playing, so I really felt like we were a couple of some sort.

But anyway, maybe it’s because it’s my first time doing something intimate with a guy who isn’t my dad. I didn’t feel weird about it one bit, though. If anything, I just found myself amusing because I never actually observed myself in this area before. I discovered knew things about myself and tried to remember all of my thoughts and feelings while it lasted because we all know where those thoughts are really going to go —> writing material!

Overall I just want to say that I’m so glad to have friends that I’m comfortable with. I don’t feel lonely at all anymore and I’m just so thankful. It’s all that I’ve ever dreamed of for a long time. Although the Christmas events were chaotic and the amount of sweets from the party gave me a bit of a sore throat, I got the best gift ever. Last year, God gave me notebooks for my Christmas gift, but this year, he gave me friends. No one could ever beat Him in this game. I wonder what He’ll surprise me with next year?


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