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Alesana’s Shawn Milke Says, “Destination: Farewell”

Today is: Sunday July 13th, 2010
Where I am: Mansfield, Massachusetts - Day Seventeen of the Vans Warped Tour
Where I am actually: the couch in the front lounge of my bus next to a sleeping Alex
Time of day: 2:39 p.m.
What I am listening to: the (A)fternoon EP by Mae

Hello, all. Is it Wednesday already? My, oh my, how time does fly. Thank you for the incredible amount of responses to the question at the conclusion of last week’s blog. It is a pretty awesome feeling to see how many of you take the time to read my writing and actually take steps to become actively involved. So again, thank you.

This was definitely a week of ups and downs. Then again, I guess the same can be said about life in general; a collection of ups and downs, highs and lows. The key, for me at least, is not allowing the lows to get me too far down and never letting the highs to escape unnoticed. Sometimes it is the memory of the high that keeps the low in check. There is a film I love called The Story of Us, starring Bruce Willis and Michelle Pfeiffer. Ostensibly, the film is about a couple and their journey from friendship and courtship to marriage and parenthood. However, if you dig deeper you will find that the story is actually much more about the push and pull, the give and take of everyday life. There is one particular scene in the movie that hooked me during my first watch. The family is sitting around the dinner table when the father, played by Willis, asks everyone for their “high/low” of the day. They then takes turns sharing their high moment and low moment of the day. Clearly, the scene is generated to showcase the health of communication and the tight bond that the family shares with one another. But I walked away from the film with a new outlook on life. This touching, little romantic comedy from Rob Reiner (the director of Spinal Tap, by the way. Um? Awesome?) managed to genuinely change me. To this day, I write down my high and my low each night before bed. OK. I lied. Maybe not every single night. But I do it quite frequently. The point I am making is that this exercise has helped me to more greatly appreciate the good things in life while simultaneously helping me to realize that there is no need to be scared of the lows. They will happen. That is life. It is how we react to the lows, and whether or not we allow them to dictate our decisions and our adventures, that truly defines us as individuals. The low is the challenge; the high is the reward.

If I may, I would like to share with you several experiences I had this week. They may be highs, they may be lows, but in the end it does not matter. All I know for sure is they were experiences, which means another small piece of me has been molded.

1. Crackhead

I cracked a rib in Saint Louis. Ouch. And when I say ouch, I truly mean it. It is awful. It hurts to laugh, cough, sneeze, walk, sleep, breathe. You name it, and it hurts to do it. So I am sure you can imagine how badly it hurts to perform thirty minutes on stage. In Montreal I actually had to play with a rib-wrap, which essentially is just medical gauze wrapped around my rib cage. It felt very awkward and in the end I am not quite sure if it made matters better or worse. Either way, the show must go on. After performing, I walked around the festival and ran into a fan of ours. He was wearing an Alesana shirt from a tour that traveled several years ago, which always makes me smile. I love seeing old shirts and meeting fans who have been around for the long haul with us. After 10 minutes of conversation he elected to tell me the story of how he ended up in a wheelchair. It is not my place to reveal the details of his pain, that would be for him to decide. What I can say is that standing there listening to him bravely share personal details of his life made me realize how silly I had been for complaining during the days following my rib injury. This man’s life had been completely flipped upside down in the blink of an eye and still he held onto his strength and courage to face life head on. I decided to ask him his high/low for the day. After explaining to him what I meant he proceeded to tell me that his high was definitely seeing all of his favorite bands play at Warped Tour. His low? “I don’t have a low today, man,” he said. “How could I ever feel low on a great day like this?” And I was moping over a broken rib. I guess we sometimes lose track of the sun when there are clouds in the sky.

2. Please Secure All Loose Articles

Yesterday, I rode roller coasters! We were selected to take part in an event at Six Flags in New England. We did a signing for fans, had our song and music video played throughout the park, and in return we were given free entry into the park and this little contraption that allowed us to skip all of the lines. Wait a minute. Did I just say in return? We were rewarded for doing something that I already consider awesome. People lined up in the blazing sun just to meet us because they like our music. If anyone in a band ever considers meeting their fans at an amusement park work then they are pretentious and completely out of their minds. I drank a beer in my bathing suit and laughed at Dennis as they turned down his ID because he was out of state and under 25, which, by the way, is one of the most ridiculous rules I have ever encountered. It did not stop me from teasing him the rest of the day, though. I rode the lazy river, swam in a wave pool, and tumbled down water slides. I rode the Six Flags–proclaimed “World’s Greatest Steel Roller Coaster in the World” called Bizarro. Insane. The second time around I was the odd man out in our group and was stuck riding alone, until a fan who happened to be waiting in line offered to ride with me. She claimed to be more excited than me, but then again I don’t think she realized how scared I was to ride alone. Well, not scared. I just did not want to ride alone. Or maybe I’m just telling myself that. You and I may never know. The guys then suggested we ride Blizzard River and, of course, I was the only one who got soaked head to toe. Don’t worry, I had just changed into my jeans. I spent the rest of the evening in a medium t-shirt, and for those of you who have never met me in person, use your imagination of what a guy who fits into a girl’s large t-shirt would look like wearing a medium. After the park closed, we returned to the bus and watched low-budget horror films, headlined by Slaughter High. Yesterday was a good day. A very good day. I fell asleep laughing at the image of myself in that giant t-shirt and wet jeans because if you do not laugh at yourself then you are missing out on some of life’s best jokes.

3. This Time Is the Last Time

Of all of the highs and lows of my week there is one that definitely stands out the most. Mae announced that they will be doing a farewell tour this fall: the “Goodbye, Goodnight” tour. A band that has shaped my mind and my life in too many ways to count will soon be no more. I am not ashamed to admit that I cried a little when I read the email from their official site. My puppy is named Mae. I have lyrics from the song that they named the farewell tour after on the back of my left arm. The Alesana song “Goodbye, Goodnight, for Good” was named to pay homage to their inspiration in my music. I feel like a little piece of me has died. But, as I woke up the morning after hearing the news, I realized that I could not stay upset. Mae has given so much and asked for absolutely nothing in return. They created music that has altered my life in unimaginable ways and, what’s more, is they never seemed to stray off the path that they paved for themselves. Mae believed in every song they wrote, in every album they constructed. They even spent an entire year releasing music solely to raise money to help people in need. Mae truly are angels among men and thank you simply does not do justice for what I want to say to them. You will be missed by many. I wish you well in everything you do from this point on in life. Goodbye, Goodnight.

Oh, I almost forgot. I am going to start a song quote of the week. This week it feels fitting to use the Mae lyric that I have tattooed on my arm. As I said earlier, it comes from the song “Goodbye, Goodnight”.

“This force is driving me to test the speed of light.” —Mae

This week’s question?

What was your high/low for the week?

Until next time loyal readers, and to those new to the family: Stay safe, stay healthy, and always remember to tell your parents that you love them.

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