From Springsteen to Turisas – the weirdest concert weekend in VA and NC ever, and more!

The concert(s) trip, an overview

More than 3 months ago, my good friend Andrew told me about a metal concert in April, Paganfest 2014 in Baltimore.  He got tickets and we planned THAT early to go forth and be metalheads with some other friends as well.

the routes involved

the routes involved

So, when my friend Veronica mentioned to me, out of the blue, “want to go see Bruce Springsteen in Raleigh North Carolina” the night before I was going to depart for DC anyways, I realized: I couldn’t NOT see these two concerts in the same weekend, the range of music was too good to pass up.

The rest stops along 95 are sometimes quite pretty, it turns out

The rest stops along 95 are sometimes quite pretty, it turns out

Springsteen & visiting Amber, in Raleigh NC

Williamsburg, VA

So the first part of the trip was adventuring down to Williamsburg to pick up my friend Vero and her friend Alex, but I began with a quick refresher tour of the colonial encampment (having been there back in high school):

Almost as fast as the MFALCON!

Almost as fast as the MFALCON!

It was a lovely day, and after SO much driving (though just an appetizer of the SO MUCH DRIVING to come, this past weekend ), it was quite nice to be out and about on foot.

Cannons are still used to defend Williamsburg to this very day. Just In Case.

Cannons are still used to defend Williamsburg to this very day.
Just In Case.

Additionally, some of you may remember a prior post on this blog about wanting to buy land in Virginia after school.  Even walking around people in petticoats and tourists, the setting and blazing sun suitable to solar power my way to free utilities forever was VERY tempting anew….

It seems the British STILL don't know when to quit on this country of ours...

It seems the British STILL don’t know when to quit on this country of ours…

Nice to stretch, but back into the car we went, in order to drive down to our hotel as to attend the…

Bruce Springsteen concert @ Raleigh, NC

Our arrival was around 5pm or so, and thus we had time to 1) check into our hotel; 2) drive over and park at the PNC Arena; 3) a scrumptious dinner (in my case, shrimp and cheddar + jalapeno grits, BBQ baked beans, and a clam chowder, all out of this world!) at the Backyard Bistro across the street from the Arena; and then 4) jaywalking/jayrunning back to the parking lot and then into the stadium for the concert:

PNC Arena in the background, with a veritable sea of tailgating BRUUUUUUCEEEE fans in between

PNC Arena in the background, with a veritable sea of tailgating BRUUUUUUCEEEE fans in between

The concert venue was so huge and the lighting fluctuated so much that 1) no camera phone photo of the interior was worth a damn, and 2) my DSLR was disallowed to be brought inside, so I have no photos of the actual event.

But.

Bruce was quite the entertaining performer, with his E Street Band – for a 64 year old guy, he was RUNNING around all over  the place, and generally having a great time.  The people in the crowd definitely got their money’s worth, as people were dancing and clapping and screaming the whole  time – and he was soaking it up.

Astonishingly, Bruce performed from 7:30pm until 11pm or so, without an intermission… I myself departed at 9:45 or so, to go visit my good friend and former housemate Amber.  Between her having worked all day and my having driven a shitzillion miles, we were both exhausted, but we shared some wine and caught up at a local bar in Raleigh prior to calling it a night.  Back to the hotel I went, as another long day of driving was ahead of me.

On the trip back to Williamsburg, from Raleigh

On the trip back to Williamsburg, from Raleigh, with Alex and Vero

All told, even though I am not the biggest Springsteen fan (as in, I enjoy his music but he is not a go-to for me, typically), it was the biggest concert I have ever been to and a fun experience.

METAL and (very) old friends, from Yorktown VA to Baltimore MD

The remainder of the weekend, though, was pretty goddamned metal \m/

After dropping Vero and Alex back to their places in Williamsburg, I then departed for…

Yorktown, both historic and Tonyish

My friend Tony was at a lecture, so I actually visited one of the few major colonial sites I had not yet encountered: the Yorktown battlefield.

The battlefield at Yorktown

The battlefield at Yorktown

An American flag flies here after both Revolutionary and Civil wars... but there was no guarantee of this.

An American flag flies here after both Revolutionary and Civil wars… but there was no guarantee of this.

Departing the battlefields, I went to my friend Tony’s house, a little down the street, and we got to hang out and catch up with our mutual friend David for a few hours before going up to Arlington.

Tony's family has an awesome set of raised bed gardens, I am quite jealous

Tony’s family has an awesome set of raised bed gardens, I am quite jealous

Tony showed us his family’s home, which they planned and built significant portions of themselves (which made my DIY heart sing with joy).  My favorite parts were the gazebo in the back (seen below) which Tony put in himself, the huge raised bed gardens, and their theater room (something I hope to emulate in some way when I have my own home).

David, Tony, and I, under the outstanding gazebo and patio tony put in several months ago

David, Tony, and I, under the outstanding gazebo and patio tony put in several months ago

We talked and realized the following:
1) David and I had met playing DotA on the internet, back when we were 15 or 16
2) David thought I was funny, so wanted to get me in on playing with Andrew and Tony
2b) the first several games with them, I did *awful* but they thought I was a nice and funny guy, so we stayed friends
3) David and I ended up both going to American University and in fact met in person serendipitously at an orientation event
4) I ended up meeting and hanging out with Andrew and Tony many times thereafter

It is crazy that some of my best friends for more than a decade all originated from a random matchmaking queue for a computer game, and I was glad to remember those details after so long.

Tony's mom makes the best food in general, but this baklava was outstanding.  The sort of outstanding where "honey is too overpowering a taste, we make our own syrup with rosewater to keep the treat light"

Tony’s mom makes the best food in general, but this baklava was outstanding. The sort of outstanding where “honey is too overpowering a taste, we make our own syrup with rosewater to keep the treat light”

After huge helpings of Tony’s mom’s delicious foodstuffs, we departed for Arlington through some SERIOUS rainstorms.

Helping buddies in Arlington

Arriving at Andrew’s old house, we did some packing and moving of his things to his new place, because that is what buddies are for/it was his birthday week/his sedan don’t hold so much.

MFALCON, cargo hauler, and Tony

MFALCON, cargo hauler, and Tony

We had some DELICIOUS Korean fried chicken, from a restaurant called Bonchon, and it was absurdly delicious. After that, it was time to coma our way into restfulness for the next day’s activities.

Tony's 4Runner and I, filled with furniture

Tony’s 4Runner and I, filled with furniture

As it WAS Andrew’s birthday weekend, Tony’s mom had made him a DotA-themed cake, and I managed to get a photo both of his genuinely joyful reaction (very rare, for him), and the cake itself:

Infamous Drow cake

Infamous Drow cake

He glad, he glad

He glad, he glad

All told, it was a pleasure to help Andrew move into his new place and hang out with those guys – not least of all because his overpriced Arlingtonian apartment building was quite nice on the eyes:

The view from Andrew's apartment, not half bad

The view from Andrew’s apartment, not half bad

The concert in Baltimore

The main event, then, and the core reason for this whole trip, was to go to Paganfest 2014 – a heavy metal concert with mostly folk and Viking themed bands, which was quite enjoyable.   The venue in Baltimore was the Ottobar, which wasn’t the biggest or nicest establishment ever… but the bands made up for it.  We got to see Ohio’s Winterhymn, Germany’s Varg (with songs where the lead singer introduced it as “this next one is about mercilessly killing your worst enemy on the battlefield), Taiwan’s Chthonic; (my favorite) Finland’s Turisas; and Finland’s Korpiklaani.

From the local band whose drummer WAS Jesus:

Jesus, take the reins

Jesus, take the reins

To the unending goofiness of folk bands in general:

lololol

lololol

To the fun and lively performances:

Korpiklaani, on stage and drunk while performing songs like "VODKA"

Korpiklaani, on stage and drunk while performing songs like “VODKA”

The concert was a lot of fun – and the people at metal concerts are always fun(ny) in their own ways – from guys with longer and better-kept hair than their girlfriends; to people wearing tunics and carrying drinking horns, to the shirts from all sorts of other metal concerts, definitely a grand time.

'Exura' the keyboardist of Winterhymn

With ‘Exura’ the keyboardist of Winterhymn

At trip’s end

After sleeping very soundly from a long day with buddies, our time had run out, and we were forced to head off towards our respective responsibilities.  At the end of a delicious Lebanese lunch, we departed from Arlington – a quick photo of all of us at once, as evidence, and we were off!

Myself, Tony, Andrew, and David - friends again reunited after far too long

Myself, Tony, Andrew, and David – friends again reunited after far too long

All told, a whirlwind of driving and visiting, but an excellent long weekend away from New Haven.  I am very thankful to have such great and gracious friends.

The weeks ahead

So by way of general updates, consider the following:

1) I am working again at my old Yale Law School job, and will be for this week and next week.

The old office still stands

The old office still stands

2) I purchased a trailer from HarborFreight, with the Easter sale coupon they told me I could use after the fact, and will be building it to help with the move down to Maryland for the summer – and I am super excited about this!! More on this once I build the damned thing.

Harbor Freight trailer kit, in the car

Harbor Freight trailer kit, in the car

3) The housemate whose name shall go unmentioned, the one who plays violin at 2 and 3am, and lets his guinea pigs make a mess in communal areas and never cleans it up, and so much more… was legally evicted mid-April.  Sadly, the law is on his side so he has to be gone by or before May 17, a full 30 days later.  But there shall be MUCH rejoicing when his disrespectful, unhygienic ways are no longer on the premises.

Between that guy; the “oh a stray pit bull followed me home and I am going to keep it” guy; the 40 year old law degree’d girl who decided against getting a job and then took out her depression on me via passive-aggressive bullshit 6 miles high; and others, I have definitely had more than my fair share of INSANETRAIN housemates.  I am thankful for those other housemates, who were amongst my best friends in 3 years here… but overall have learned I will need to live by myself or with people I know and trust from the outset, because INSANETRAIN housemate roulette is shit.

In many ways, I still *am* mad

In many ways, I still *am* mad

4) I am so, so very excited to be entering the professional realm in a few short months – so keep an eye out for posted updates about job opportunities I am applying for!  Also, the projects to come, once I have an income, will include things like this fantastic converted Range Rover into a pickup truck spotted in Baltimore over the weekend:

I need to make one.  Or two.

I need to make one. Or two.

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“I bring good news, of great soy” – visiting my summer internship site in southern Maryland, from farm to house to church and more!

The roadtrip

After installing the summer Borbet wheels (which were both thrown in for free by the previous owner, which is a crazy good deal for me; AND which were given a great deal on new Hankook Ventus 2 tires and so forth thanks to my wallet-destroying friend, Tom) on the street in front of my house… and being lucky enough that the trucker’s warning triangles I once bought cheaply from Craigslist were sufficient enough to keep cars away, I packed the car BATTLEWAGON and was ready to go!

Summer tires in place, ready to rock (but mostly roll)

Summer tires in place, ready to rock (but mostly roll)

With my good friend and fellow student Nathan, who will be living and working alongside me in this house over the summer, we departed YDS at 4pm or thereabout.

Nathan and I in the Yale Divinity parking lot, excited to depart!

Nathan and I in the Yale Divinity parking lot, excited to depart!

I cannot fully believe it myself, but 3 long and not always fun years in New Haven and at Yale can consider their days numbered – this trip was the harbinger of an escape less than two months away.  Even less credible, but also true: we hit a total of 27 minutes of traffic, on I-95 south in NYC, before the George Washington Bridge, and otherwise had smooth sailing all the way.  Fantastic, hard to believe, and a good start to a great weekend.  We arrived at Nathan’s parents’ home in MD, and quickly passed out after a long day.

The visitation of DC and VA friends

I set aside Friday to go down and make a pilgrimage to places where I knew old friends still exist, and also to visit my prior institution, American University.

Amurka!

Amurka!

Between juggling attempted visits with professors and old friends, my initial stop by AU in the morning was just good for grabbing photos of a couple of these iconic views it was (surprisingly) good to see, again.

The lovely new School of International Service, which was done in time for my graduation day but not my usage

The lovely new School of International Service, which was done in time for my graduation day but not my usage

That said, I stopped by the school later in the afternoon after a lengthy lunch with friends, and visited with both a former roommate who know works in the AU public safety department; and one of my favorite professors of computer science, who showed me his newest craze – quadcopters.  A lot of fun was had, and I look forward to further visitations with those folks and others over the lengthy summer!

AU, don't you ever change, as a place where wearing your heart on your sleeve isn't enough... you need multiple shirts for your multiple hearts!

AU, don’t you ever change, as a place where wearing your heart on your sleeve isn’t enough… you need multiple shirts for your multiple hearts!

The lunchtime hour(s) was spent catching up with my good friends Deb and Kim, whom I met and toiled alongside at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, in January 2013 – we were all prospective diaconal ministers, and in the midst of a grueling schedule, we got to become great friends.  As one might imagine, and in spite of possible height differentials making direct conversation difficult (as per below), we had a fantastic time and a delicious meal at Silverado.

Finally reunited with my fellow diaconal-inclined Lutheran friends, Deb and Kim!

Finally reunited with my fellow diaconal-inclined Lutheran friends, Deb and Kim!

I drove something like 75 miles within DC and northern VA in a single day, and that was enough for me – after a good 12 or 13 hours away from Nathan’s folks’ house, I drove back and again fell into a blissful, deep sleep.  As my time at home in Ohio a few weeks ago, for spring break, made clear to me: the benefits for mood, outlook, disposition, and body tension levels that I find from being away from negative settings (for instance, the latest disrespectful toxic housemate I am stuck with; the gang shootings around my house in New Haven, and the academic setting at YDS in general).  Even as a stanger in the strange land of Laurel, MD, I slept like the dead and it was great.  I fully suspect this sort of healthy, non-tense and indeed edifying experience of passing living in southern Maryland versus CT will continue for the whole summer, and I cannot overstate my thankfulness for and excitement about that.

The farm, the house, the joy

Nathan and I amidst the college's community garden and the new plot we will work and make flourish

Nathan and I amidst the college’s community garden and the new plot we will work and make flourish

Saturday was The Main Event: first driving the 2 hours further south, to Saint Mary’s City MD – the historical landing site for the Catholic colonists who petitioned for a patch of land in the New World where they could worship (as Catholics were disallowed from worshipping in England at the time), in 1634.  As the original state capital, it was a place which would remain small and agricultural up until and then after the point when the capital was moved to Annapolis – and this trend continues today.  One of the peculiar aspects of living in “the county” (which is how everyone I met referred to the area), one will encounter a wide swathe of people whose family has owned the very expensive land they own since the 1640s… but who have no liquidity.  It is our hope, through directly donating crops grown and also teaching how easy/cheap/healthy it is to grow one’s own food in the plentiful soil of the area, to help directly improve the lives of the surprising number of hungry in the area.

 

Beauty and joy abound, around our summer home

Beauty and joy abound, around our summer home

Historic Saint Mary's City has frame 'buildings' on the sites where the original colonists built their lives on the shores of this New World

Historic Saint Mary’s City has frame ‘buildings’ on the sites where the original colonists built their lives on the shores of this New World.  Somewhat haunting, as neighbors go I suppose.

As you see in the two photos above, the setting around the house is extremely rural and empty (this is a siren song to my ears, tired as they and I are of the urban shitshow of New Haven).  Below you can see the house from front and back, prior to the lead paint on the outside being scraped and replaced for our arrival at the end of May:

Front of the house and the MFALCON, both looking lovely

Front of the house and the MFALCON, both looking lovely

The back of the being-renovated home

The back of the being-renovated home

My bedroom is a lighter shade of green than my current New Haven home, and is a mere 120 by 144 inches, which is not a large space – but honestly, a part of my attempting to learn and grow this summer is in the key of “don’t bring too much, do too much, or worry too much” – so besides Ike and his house, my clothes, computer, and camping gear, I will not be bringing anything more.  Such a small space ought to be entirely sufficient!

My bedroom for the coming year shall again be green, and it has a gorgeous view of both foliage and field

My bedroom for the coming year shall again be green, and it has a gorgeous view of both foliage and field

If memory serves, this little brown house is over 110 years old, and various portions of it are in different stages of being renovated for us; one of the finished areas is the kitchen, which looks lovely:

The brand new, gorgeous kitchen I will be getting to use with Nathan, to cook for ourselves and guests all summer long

The brand new, gorgeous kitchen I will be getting to use with Nathan, to cook for ourselves and guests all summer long

Nathan looking uncharacteristically worried, regarding the fan in one of our common rooms

Nathan looking uncharacteristically worried, regarding the fan in one of our common rooms

The members of the parish have already indicated a certain kind of excitement in helping us to furnish this building and make it a home and a house of hospitality and prayer; all told, then the housing angle of this summer couldn’t be any more wonderful!

Trinity Episcopal Church and Saint Mary College

Beyond the farming portion of the summer, I will be working with and learning from Pastor John Ball of Trinity Episcopal church, and that will involve several additional responsibilities.  One of them will be preaching to both of the congregations in the parish (there is the main church building, seen below, and then a small chapel down the road with a commited, small set of older folks who live near and worship there).

Trinity Episcopal, a lovely little building

Trinity Episcopal, a lovely little building

 

The view from the pulpit

The view from the pulpit

"Trinity: since 1638" is very cool to me

“Trinity: since 1638” is very cool to me

Another project I know of from the very beginning will be helping manage, fundraise, and generally effect the cause of saving Church Point: a sandy small peninsula into the river off from where the church and the college is located, it has lost several yards of sand and sediment to the water since 1950 or so.  The below photo shows the cross on the sand again, only because a big tractor was brought down to drag it 50 or so feet onto the now-shrunk shore.  It will be like my Eagle Scout project days again, in many ways – but now with a certain kind of authority as “oh, that seminary intern guy”!

Church Point, eroding away - and working to galvanize support and fundraise to restore it

Church Point, eroding away – and working to galvanize support and fundraise to restore it

The College's marina, right down the hill from the church, free for our summer use.  Yesssssssssssssss

The College’s marina, right down the hill from the church, free for our summer use. Yesssssssssssssss

The full replica of the Dove, which originally got settlers to these shores in the 1600s

The full replica of the Dove, which originally got settlers to these shores in the 1600s

There will be many other projects ahead, but now all I can think about is my excitement to getting down there and settled into a healthy set of routines in a great little house with my good friend and classmate Nathan.

Excited beyond belief for this coming summer?

Yup.

The sun also sets

The sun also sets

From delicious views and weather, to delightful locals and lands, I cannot think of anything about this summer which doesn’t have the capacity to be outstanding right out of the gate.  Just in terms of measuring “average number of weekly gang violence within 2-3 blocks of my house”, I can already guarantee that this will be a more peaceful, wholesome, and edifying experience than New Haven.  The nature of living with non-students, and outside of the bubble of seminary (it is not, to be fair, just YDS that has this – seminaries in general tend to become bubbles in so many ways), I rejoice at the chance to make lasting friendships with “real people” so to speak, people with mortgages, and debt, and jobs, and families… and people who DON’T babble about theory and minutia without any real life experience to back up their pontificating.  (For reference, the preceding sentences of critique of my Yale/New Haven setting were GREATLY edited down, in terms of lengths and crass vulgarities).

In short, then: my summer internship in Saint Mary’s City, Maryland, is going to be a peaceful, edifying, educational, and positive experience to finish the last requirement to get my degree from Yale.  I will be doing a blog specific to the summer, and I greatly encourage you to take a look once it is posted and running, later in May.

For now, back to the grind to finish this semester.

This summer is going to be so beautiful to see and soak in, I nearly can't stand it

This summer is going to be so beautiful to see and soak in, I nearly can’t stand it