Baby Driver and my insatiable need for noise…

If you haven’t seen the recent movie Baby Driver (Starring Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, Lily James, Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm, and Jon Bernthal) I’ll wait right here while you go watch it. Oh, you’re back already? Oh, you didn’t have time to watch it and need a brief synopsis for background of this blog post? I mean, I can do that, but do yourself a favor and watch it sometime (I realize it will NEVER live up to my incomparable description and synopsis, but you really should give the artists their due since they worked SO hard, LOL).  That being said, I guess for this post to continue, I’m going to have to give you a synopsis, huh?  Well, I guess I’ll give the obligatory:

*MILD SPOILER ALERT*

Still here? You’re SURE you’re okay with some minor spoilers? Okay then, I warned you.  Baby Driver is the story of  a getaway car driver named Baby.  Yep, that’s his name.  Well, that’s what everyone calls him anyways.  As a child, Baby was in a car accident that killed his mother that damaged his hearing in a tremendous way (he didn’t get any superpowers, that’s that Daredevil guy and that involved some radioactive materials).  After his accident (which killed his mother and put him on the path toward crime) he found that he had Tinnitus.  Tinnitus is a condition by which sufferers hear a constant high-pitched ringing in their ear ALL THE TIME.  To offset his Tinnitus, he constantly has earbuds from an iPod in his ears playing music, much like his own internal soundtrack.  Let me give you an example with the following video:

Exciting huh?  Kinda funny at the same time?  Well, Kelly and I loved it.  The whole movie is filled with phenomenal choices of music (the tagline of the movie is:  “All you need is one killer track.” – see what they did there?  Track?  Goes for both a race track AND a music track.  Clever, clever indeed).  The director of the movie, Edgar Wright, said that he has always wanted to do a movie where the music dictated what happened.  The music often was the centerpiece and it often felt like an action/musical. It was definitely a mission accomplished.  The movie was high-energy and even contained a love story.

Now that you’re familiar with Baby and his world, that allows me to tell you how it relates to mine.  You see, I have Tinnitus (listen to that in your head like Darth Vader telling Luke he’s his father – Friends, I have Tinnitus – you did it in your head didn’t you?).  Mine is NOWHERE near as bad as Baby’s is in the movie.  Mine is a low-grade, constant, high-pitch.  Some people report that theirs is a crackling, others like a constant crumpling of paper.  Here’s an example of what mine sounds like:

Interestingly, I didn’t even know I had it.  Kelly and I were at home one evening and the subject of silence somehow came up.  During that conversation I said something to the effect of, “You know, when it’s completely quiet and all you can hear is that really high-pitch noise?”  With a quick look at her face, I knew very quickly that we both had very different views of what silence was.  You know the look, the one your wife gives you when you know you’ve said something that’s not right (I get that look all the time, because let’s face it, I say stupid stuff all the time).  She immediately said something to the effect of “Babe, that’s not how it should be.”  And we began to talk about how I didn’t know that wasn’t normal. At her encouragement, I had hearing tests, which was when I found out that I had Tinnitus.

As far back as I can remember, that has been my version of silence.  That high-pitched sound always permeated silence for me.  I can’t remember a time in my life that it wasn’t there.  I just thought it was normal.  I always thought that silence was a strange word for it when there was still noise involved.  Worst thing about it?  I have NO idea what caused it.  Could be genetic.  Could be over exposure to loud noise (but having remembered it all my life, I doubt that one).  The only thing I really know is, I always knew I didn’t like it.  For those of you that do know me well, you know I have never liked silence.  I ALWAYS have something on.  Some kind of input of sound that is flowing around me.  I always have something on like a TV, or movie playing in the background, but most often, it’s music.  I have an obsession with music.  When I work, I typically have movie scores playing (the collected works of John Williams is phenomenal – from Jaws to Star Wars to Harry Potter, that dude has a firm grip on the greatest movie scores of all time).  These things have always helped me to focus and I didn’t know they were offsetting my condition.  I didn’t realize that I was unconsciously mitigating the sound that is always in my ears.  I found a great description of it from Dr. LaGuinn Sherlock, a clinical audiologist currently researching the effects of tinnitus on concentration, who works with the American Tinnitus Association (ATA). She compares dealing with tinnitus to a candle: “Picture a dark room, if you add one candle to the room, you’ll notice it immediately. If we light a candle in a room full of light, we don’t really notice it.” In essence, tinnitus is a sense of noise that fills a missing gap, even when there’s nothing there to cause it.

Kevin Spacey’s character in the movie describes Baby’s condition as a “hum in the drum”  and that is a very accurate depiction of it for me.  The worst part of finding out about my condition though, is now, I notice it.  It’s great knowing what that sound is when things are silent, but it’s also a curse knowing that it’s not normal.  Now when silence settles in for me, it’s not silence.  I hear IT.  It causes me to have some mild hearing difficulties, like at a ball game, even sitting beside you, I’ll have trouble hearing you.  In a crowded room with lots of noise or conversations, I’ll have difficulties hearing you (and I’m sorry if I just nod my head because there’s times I don’t want to constantly say “What?” or “I can’t hear you.”)  I know that I definitely have it much better than some people that have this condition.  For some people, it’s louder, much louder.  As mentioned before, for some people it’s a constant crackle or static like a radio station you can’t pick up.  Suicide rates are higher among people that suffer from Tinnitus.  Divorce rates are higher.  Crime Rates are higher.  When you can’t concentrate, it generally makes life more difficult.

I realize that there’s a whole lot more going on in life that is much worse than what I deal with in this area.  What I would say is, forgive me in advance if I annoy you with my insatiable need for noise.  It helps me to focus on life.  I don’t mean to annoy you with my constant talk of albums (I’m a collector of vinyl records for the uninitiated and will have another blog post about that soon), speaking with gusto about my latest find, or if I have headphones in, it’s not to shut you out, but rather to help me concentrate on the task at hand.  The noise keeps me going, and that’s okay.

Still interested or interested in knowing more?  Let me know and I can direct you to some great articles.

Hockey Masks and Working Out in New York City

Earlier this year I was given the opportunity to travel to New York City for my job.  It’s funny, I honestly had never had the desire to travel to New York.  Never.  I never had dreams of walking down Broadway, looking up at the vast buildings or exploring the various places around town.  Really, not one desire.  Ask Kelly.  She knows the deal.  She had repeatedly told me that she wanted to take me to New York (she had been when she was younger) and show me around and experience it with me.  Again, I scoffed at the idea.  There was nothing appealing to me about it.

When I was younger, I thought, “How do people live like that?”  “How do people live on top of each other like that?” “Man, all crime happens in New York.” “Somebody dies on every corner of New York, daily.” “Lenny from Law and Order is insanely busy, he solves a murder every week.”  Seriously.  EVERYBODY.DIES.ALL.THE.TIME.  In retrospect, that’s obviously a very dark look at a city.  It is how it’s often portrayed though.  I mean, you can’t watch a TV Show, movie (here’s looking at you Avengers), or listen to a rap song that doesn’t depict violence in NYC.  So, you grow up with a bias about a thing you’ve never experienced.  I did anyways.  Odd how that works isn’t it?  Whether it’s life, a place or people, bias grows without you knowing it.  It can be through direct influence, stereotypes, or nurture, but bias happens to us all.

So, you grow up with a bias about a thing you’ve never experienced.  I did anyways.  Odd how that works isn’t it?  Whether it’s life, a place or people, bias grows without you knowing it.  It can be through direct influence, stereotypes, or nurture, but bias happens to us all. 

I couldn’t imagine big city life until I was in college.  I moved from a small town in Eastern Kentucky and when you come from a small town, your skepticism of big cities is strong.  I honestly spent my first semester of college trying my hardest to confine myself to campus or only getting rides with people to and from places.  It was only through a persistent roommate (Thanks Blaine!) that I got out and started to explore the city I had chosen: Nashville, TN.  “But wait Barry, this is a story about New York and you promised hockey masks, it says so in the title.  This better not be click-bait.”  I promise it’s not, but as one of our local sayings goes, “Sometimes you gotta go ’round your elbow to get to your knee.”

So, all of the above being said, I really never wanted to go to New York.  Then, a few things happened over time.  I had watched some documentaries (does that make me interesting or just old?) that talked a lot about New York.  I was beginning to get fascinated with the buildings and history of the city.  As a person who loves and has spent a lot of time taking photographs, I was also interested in the architecture and angles of everything there.  Then came Casey Neistat.  As a person who has participated in photography and videography, Kelly and I were hooked on his VLOG from the get-go.  We were introduced to him through this video which really drew us in to not only his personality, but how he portrayed the personality of the city in which he lived.  He LOVES New York.  Seriously, dude absolutely loves it.  Like, if he wasn’t married to Candice (seriously, we know way too much about this dude) I think he would try and marry his city (which would be awkward, but seriously, dude loves it there).

What fascinated me most was his portrayal of how the city functioned and moved and how much I began to learn about it through him.  Then, I got a call from one of our vendors asking if I would like to go on a trip to New York to meet with another vendor that we use on a regular basis, HP (for reference, if you haven’t read any of my other blogs, I’m in IT).  At first, I wasn’t feeling it.  Then, I found myself wanting to go.  I was actually looking forward to it.  I had already experienced the city through someone else’s eyes, but I really kind of secretly wanted to see it for myself.  So, I OK’d it with my boss, and we were off and rolling.

We flew out of Georgetown, KY and I was filled with trepidation.  Seriously.  Like, almost a sickening level of trepidation.  It was a new experience and I was heading out with a group of 5 other guys, only one of which I knew, on a very small plane to a very large city that I wasn’t overly prepared for.  Then, there was the fact that I wasn’t able to take Kelly with me.  Kelly had always wanted to be the one that took me to New York and now I was heading out without her.  I really wasn’t crazy about that part at all.  She’d wanted to help me experience something that she’d had good memories of and now I was leaving her behind.  I know what you’re thinking, “Not cool Bro, not cool.”  Kelly was beyond excited for me though.  Truly.  I knew she was and that was beyond awesome.  She encouraged me, looked at my itinerary with me (I flew out one day early, end flew back late that next evening.  It was beyond quick.) and helped me think through my packing, what we would be doing and what I would have the chance to see.  Again, awesome.

So, we left.  As you can tell in the pictures below, I got to go to some really cool places.  I stayed in The Maritime Hotel (a maritime themed hotel with portholes for windows) and I was blown away with the attention to detail, the woodwork and the general aesthetic of the place.  We walked through Chelsea Market (The home of Food Network) and saw some truly beautiful restaurants and cool people (as in, they looked cool, I mean they may not have been, but it was like a stationary troupe of fashion forward people).  Then we went to another hotel and went to the roof that overlooked the city (The Standard Hotel, which I later learned was a location for a Met Gala After Party for Katy Perry) and was right above Chelsea Pier.  The views were amazing.  Seriously, I’ve never experienced anything like it.  Then we went back to our hotel and got ready to meet the gentleman from HP at the Gramercy Tavern.  At the Gramercy, I had my first “Tasting” and we were there from seven until ten.  Seriously, that was almost all eating time.  The place itself felt like it was straight out of the Godfather.  It was phenomenal.  As we were leaving, I noticed that people were just coming in to the restaurant to eat.  It’s at that time that I began to notice that it really is the city that never sleeps.

One of the other gentleman and I had neither one been to New York before, so from the Gramercy, we went to Times Square via The Chrysler Building.  I was beyond amazed at the number of people out and about at that time.  In our little town of Prestonsburg, the roads have been rolled up at that point and NOBODY is out on a Tuesday Night.  That’s a School Night ya’ll!  The Chrysler Building was beautiful at night and they had it lit up in a purple.  From there, it was a short cab ride to Times Square.  Man, the lights, the people, the input from so many places was insane to me.  NOW WE’RE getting to the title of the blog:

When we stepped out of the cab, and walked into Times Square, we were confronted by the lights, the sounds and the people from all around.  One guy in particular stuck out to us.  He was a shirtless African American guy with no shirt on.  He was in phenomenal shape.  His pants were sagging below where most people sag their pants to (I’m just trying to paint a picture here folks).  He had an Under Armor backpack slung over his shoulder and he walked up to the side of a building that happened to have a mirror on the side, slung his backpack down, opened it up and pulled some fitness bands from it while facing the mirror.  It was at that point, I looked up at his face and noticed, HE WAS WEARING A BLACK HOCKEY MASK.  I’m not joking.  Not even a little.  My friend and I stood there, awestruck, both fighting the urge to take a picture, but I think both coming to the conclusion that this was EXACTLY the type of person I had feared was in New York.  At that moment, he slung the fitness band under his feet, grabbed the handles, and began ripping off curls like there was someone behind him threatening his life if he didn’t get all his reps in.  It was unnerving.  Seriously.  Picture it in your mind.  Guy working out in front of a mirror, in Times Square, no shirt, extreme sagging pants, ripping off curls like there was no tomorrow, in a HOCKEY MASK.  A hockey mask.  I still can’t get that picture out of my head.  He was fit though.  Maybe he was just incredibly dedicated to working out and was hiding out from an old girlfriend until he was ready to show off the new bod.  Maybe he was hiding from the mob and getting ready to attack them Taken-style.  Maybe he was the new partner of the Ninja Turtles a la Casey Jones.  I have no idea, but what I do know, is that we walked on, not saying a word until we got past him.  A ways past him.

Then we went on around Times Square taking in all the sights, sounds, and lights that were in front of us.  We popped into Hard Rock Cafe’s Souvenir Shop for me to get some enamel pins from there and as we came out of the store, we were confronted with two very scantily-clad, painted ladies that were dressed as Lady Liberty.  We quickly moved on, grabbed an Uber, and headed back to the hotel wide-eyed and having shared experiences that we will NEVER have with anyone else and went to bed, looking forward to what the next day had to offer.

The next day was not nearly as eventful as the first, but it was enjoyable nonetheless.  We went to HP, reviewing some new tech and opportunities that they had to share with us (seriously, some very cool stuff, but VERY nerdy and I won’t bore you in an already excessively long blog post), and we moved on to the airport and made our way home.  Looking back, it was exceedingly quick, but was an experience I’ll never get to have again like that.  It definitely stretched me and my comfort level and allowed me to make some friends I would not have otherwise.  Best of all, I can’t wait to go back again.  There, I said it.  I can’t wait to go back and experience as much of that city as I can, with Kelly.  I can’t wait to go back with her and experience as much of it as possible with her.

So, to the guys who took me, “Thanks again.”  You helped me overcome some biases and fears that I had and helped me to stretch myself in a positive way.  To my boss, thanks for letting me go and learning to go headlong into the void.  And to Kelly, thanks for planning to go back with me and doing it all over again, I can’t wait to experience it with you!  And to Casey Neistat, keep making those VLOGs, maybe we’ll catch you there and make it onto YouTube!

 

So, a few things have changed. Well, maybe a lot. For sure a lot. Well, some things are a whole lot, others, maybe not so much.

So, when I wrote my original blog post back in to 2013, I put a few things out here so you could get to know me better.  Some of these things have changed, some have not. It’s weird to see the things I discussed at that time in my life and know how much has changed and how much has not.  I have a new position at work since then.  We’ve purchased a car.  We’ve been out West twice thanks to family.  It’s amazing how quickly time can pass and what changes and what doesn’t.  Sometimes that change is intentional, sometimes it’s not.  Sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s not.  Change shapes us and molds us, often without our knowing or consent.  Something during this time frame that I have had to be purposeful about is knowing that I can only worry about what I control, not what I can’t.  Now, understand, that’s easier said than done 9 times out of 10, but it’s something I’m really working on.  REGULARLY.  With that aside, here are some things that have changed for me, and a few that haven’t.

1. Favorite Movie: Still the Shawshank Redemption.  I will still stop what I’m doing anytime it’s on TV, or anywhere for that matter and watch like I’ve never watched before.  This movie is always so much more than the sum of its parts to me.  Depending on how you view it, it’s a story about revenge.  It’s a story about friendship. It’s a story about injustice.  It’s a story about freedom.  What it is not, is a typical Stephen King story.  That much is for sure.

Shawshank-Redemption_-The

2. Favorite Movie Series:  The Godfather.  The Godfather still resonates with me.  I recently watched a supercut of the first two movies with a friend of mine that was the entire first two movies cut in chronological order and with all the deleted scenes.  It clocked in at an astonishing 434 minutes.  Seriously.  Over seven hours of Marlon Brando mumbling, having people killed and protecting “The Family.”  It was epic and I would sit down again and watch it all over.  I’m sorry to say that this one is hard to find, however.  Our friend caught it on HBO and DVR’d it and we watched it in two sittings.  Still a favorite of mine.

The Godfather

3. Favorite Sci-Fi Series:  Star Wars.  No film series has shaped my life nearly as much as Star Wars.  I have rallied around friends because of it.  We have had themed parties around it (at a college small group we were leading, Blue Bantha Milk and all).  I have t-shirts, which I wear very few of depicting it.  My wife has t-shirts related to it.  Our favorite character is Boba Fett and dude only has three lines across two movies (Not counting the prequels) and we still love the background about him.  I’ve read books, watched shows, watched documentaries, watched parodies, watched Youtube videos, waited in line for tickets for, snuck out of Bible College to see showings, and even made trips to track down vinyl albums of the score.  Needless to say, we are Star Wars enthusiasts.  At our core, we’re geeks, but cool ones.

Star Wars

4. Guilty Pleasure Movie:  Gone in 60 Seconds.  Still a guilty pleasure.  One of the reasons I haven’t purchased this movie yet is because it is a guilty pleasure and I can still come across it on TV on occasion.  That somehow makes it okay in my mind that I enjoy it so much.  Seriously, Nic Cage is a terrible actor.  Terrible.  This movie though, for me, he hits on all cylinders (see what I did there?).  This movie, seriously, is the one movie that I felt like all of his idiosyncrasies are perfect for the part.  Anybody see Ghost Rider?  Same character.  Anybody see The Rock?  Same character.  Anybody see Con Air?  Same character with a TERRIBLE Southern Accent.  In Gone in 60 Seconds though, it just fits for me.  His persona, his swagger, and his poor attempts a humor and sarcasm.  Did I mention that Nic Cage is a terrible actor?

Gone in 60 seconds

5. I am a shameless Apple Enthusiast.  Well, this one has changed the most, by FAR.  Over the last few years since Steve Jobs passing, Apple seems to have lost their way in some respects.  Sure they still make great phones.  Sure they still make great computers.  Sure other products of theirs have been mediocre at best.  Wait, what? Yep, I said it, Apple has made some products over the last few years that have been mediocre at best.  Heck, some of them have been terrible.  It feels very much like they are putting out some products to fill the masses needs to get a new device every year and only add mediocre, incremental feature changes at best.  Its pretty rough when the first new, great device is a $159 pair of wireless headphones.  We will definitely be talking more about Apple in upcoming blog posts.

6. I LOVE the Green Bay Packers.  This will not change.  Kelly and I are owners and I won’t get into the current NFL Protests, National Anthem, etc. debate.  We love the Packers and are unashamed of that.  We like the game of football and the spectacle has gotten out of hand, but that has not changed our enthusiasm for rooting for our favorite team, yelling at the TV, or eating copious amounts of food in celebration of a Super Bowl (which hopefully involves the Packers!).

7. I still love Photography. but….  Over the years photography became more of burden than something I enjoyed.  I took a purposeful sabbatical from photography.  I went so far as to sell my camera and equipment.  I have found over the last bit that I am beginning to find my love for it and videography again.  That’s something that I will begin exploring again soon.

8. Favorite Book:  Still Screwtape, see previous Blog Post for a reference: Getting to know me.

9. I love trucks. I still love trucks to no end.  I still want a truck to no end.  In my last blog relating to this subject, I said unequivocally that my next vehicle would be a truck.  Well, I was wrong (and therefore learned a lesson about stating things unequivocally).  Our current vehicle is a midsize SUV.  We got in a situation with one of our vehicles that it had to be replaced quicker than we would have liked and that caused us to reevaluate our current vehicle situation.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the new ride, but man, it’s not a truck.  Not at all.  Not even a little bit like a yuppie-truck.

10.  Finally to close,  I still love tech.  There, I said it again.  I still read tech blogs.  I still make it my business to learn as much as I can about trends and the next new thing.  I often find myself looking up information on new innovations, still reading tech blogs, watching (and forcing Kelly to watch until she says, “I’m done”) YouTube Videos, and just learning about and teaching it in general.  I have loved it so much that I ended up being able to switch into a career that puts me in close proximity to tech all the time and allows me to learn about it….AND GET PAID FOR IT!  I mean seriously, how cool is that?!

I’ll be adding more in upcoming blog posts about things I have explored, experiences I have been able to have and new things I’m into.  I look forward to sharing with you!