My Son, My Music, My Future

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Things have been so crazy lately that it’s been exceedingly difficult (sometimes simply impossible) to formulate a thought on anything other than what’s right in front of my face. I haven’t sang in weeks. I bought a new bass guitar (Warwick Thumb) that’s the best feeling and sounding bass I’ve ever played; yet I haven’t even plugged it in now that it’s here in my new studio. Speaking of the new studio, it’s in a similar state to that of a brand new muscle car which was purchased spanking fresh from the lot, driven home, parked in a garage, covered with a drape, and that’s where the grains of sand froze in suspension. It rests.

 

I’ve felt less than creative, musically. Over the past month and a half I’ve really been backed into my cave, maybe even longer. Small things have been done here and there in the Stenosis corner, but for the most part the coals have come to near cold. The Stenosis SlogCast was approved and put on Stitcher, iTunes and Google Play; so that’s nice. Of course, I haven’t done a SlogCast in a while. But regardless, when I do them from now on, they’ll all go out to those platforms for people to listen to. They’ll evolve too. I’ve slowly learned how to do everything I do all by myself over the years and with that comes the inevitable result of things not being “stellar” in the beginning. The more audio I upload to my site, the slower my site will be. So I’ve been researching hosting platforms, but haven’t settled on one yet since very few people listen to the SlogCast currently. It just wouldn’t make sense to spend more money on something that isn’t, at minimum, replacing those funds to exist.

 

I’m on my 3rd cup of coffee already today.

 

Some of you have kindly asked about my son and how he’s doing. First off, thank you. Sincerely and from the deepest part of my heart, thank you. For those of you who are unaware, I posted a picture on Instagram and the Facebook Page about my son. There’s so much that I keep from you all and it often comes at the cost of being burned at the stake because people don’t understand what’s going on in my personal life. “Your YouTube videos suck now” “Why aren’t your other albums like Scream Therapy?” “Why don’t you post more videos?” “Why are you not doing singing videos?” and so on and so forth. There are tons of questions, numerous fingers pointed at my shortcomings, fan expressing their frustration with my content not meeting or exceeding the standards they have formulated to expect in some way. It’s not their fault, they (or you) haven’t been shown the pages of the book, as it were. So my focus on keeping Stenosis anonymous and pointed strictly towards “the mask behind the face” or whatever has ultimately been the Achilles Heal of everything I’ve “created”. So it’s difficult to quantify when people get “up in arms” asking why I’m not creating what they want to see; when trying to hold some fragment of myself together after weekly or biweekly appointments at the Children’s Hospital hearing that my son won’t survive. I can’t explain that. It’s simply not possible. There is no way that anyone can understand what that’s like. With my eyes I read the “this is what you need/should do to satisfy my consumption” comments. With my ears I hear the Doctors tell me they cannot ensure my son would survive birth, or if he did they couldn’t say for how long he’d live before suffocating from an inability to maintain his breathing. With my head I hear myself saying I’ve failed. Failed at creating the musical career I’ve dreamed of since I was old enough to formulate thoughts. Failed at giving my son the life he deserves to live. Failed at being able to ensure my son with life at all. You will never know the true feeling of failure until those two situations are placed upon you left, right, and center.

 

My son is alive. He survived birth and is truly the ember in my internal fire that nobody can put out. He is named after my brother who passed away (the reason behind my grey tie). That’s not to say everything is free of worry or stress, as he still has continuous visits to the Children’s Hospital to see specialists. Before he was born, it was projected that he had a condition call Osteogenesis Imperfecta (more commonly known as OI or “Brittle Bone Disease”). Though after being born and after the initial genetic testing, the hospital determined that he does not have OI. That was great news! After months and months of being told your baby more than likely has a fatal condition that will yield a very short, if any, lifespan, it was cautiously wonderful to learn that diagnosis was retracted. Then, of course, began the journey of “Pandora’s Box” to determine was he DOES have. It’s a question that is still unknown. He was born with bilateral clubbed feet so he has to go through sequential castings to correct that over time. He was casted about a month ago and spent a week in the worst pain I imagine an infant can be in. After a week of constant Hell for him, the Orthopedist said he’d have to wait 6 more weeks to be casted again to see if my son tolerated it better then. Personally, I hate the appointments. Absolutely hate them. The only good one out of the past year that has gone by was the one my son had to go to which was a couple days ago. It was his cardiology appointment to check on a couple conditions my son was born with, one being a PDA (basically where the two chambers of the heart have a hole between them). My son passed his EKG wonderfully and the Cardiologist said his heart was great. So that was a wonderful flash of light in an often very dark and dismal tunnel full of “Dr. Dooms”. I would rather the doctors just leave my son alone now and allow him to live the life they all said he wouldn’t have. But then again, that wouldn’t take away the conditions he needs and deserves treatment for.

 

In short, my son is doing great. He’s amazing and I want to give him the very best life I possibly can until he buries me and NOT the other way around. Thank you to everyone who asked about him and left heartwarming comments on my post. I apologize for not responding to every comment, as expressing my genuine appreciation on every comment would certainly present it in a watered-down manner that simply would not do it justice. Also, my son absolutely loves Gigglebellies… They make me want to headbutt the wall sometimes, but they keep his attention and allow me to drink my coffee (somewhat) so it’s a fair trade.

 

So what is the future of Stenosis? Is there a future? Is Stenosis done? The best answer would be to say that the questions alone just confuse me. I’ve spent so much time trying to do things I thought fans would like that I’ve completely ignored what it is that I like. It’s become too complicated in my own mind, needlessly. When making a video for YouTube, for example, I’ve first asked if I think people will enjoy it and then I secondarily and faintly ask if I enjoy it. Through the process I’ve learned that the vast majority of the “relationships” people have with Stenosis are consumerism and not personal; backwards of what I imagined. So that makes it to where you can’t win. For a while now I’ve just retracted and tried to separate myself from that stress. My son has, and always will be, more important than trying to figure out why people are disliking my videos.

 

I will say this: the mask is going away. Also, I’m going to change my YouTube channel from something that I thought was a business and into something personal. I’m going to do actual vlogs. Not because everybody else does, but simply because I want to. I think it’ll be a better way for me to tell my story, as it were. The music will still be there and I’ll still do cover videos and whatnot. I always wanted to be that musician on stage, singing to the crowd, riding around in a steel horse (tour bus). Maybe one day that’ll come, but for now it’s not here and I just want to do what I want to do with my channel and my content. If you don’t want to see that kind of content, that’s OK. I have reached a point where I will create my content, not someone else’s content. If people connect with what I do, I am forever grateful. If the don’t, that’s OK. For those who feel vlogging is stupid and nobody should vlog anymore because Casey Neistat did it; that’s the same as saying Will Smith or Jim Carrey shouldn’t have tried acting because John Wayne already did it. If you want to do something somebody else has already done, do it. Just because someone else has done it doesn’t mean you have. Nobody can be you, which means nobody has done or can do what you want to do. For me, that’s returning to the mental space and internal energy I felt when writing “Scream Therapy”. I enjoyed it more. I was drawn to the studio more. It felt more like a heartbeat and there was no deadline to keep attention.

 

I’m typing this on the Stenosis website because I know those who care will read it. Those who don’t care, won’t. This saves time in both directions.  Everything ebbs and flows, peaks and valleys, sways to and fro. I am no different.

 

I will make a video where I step out from behind the Wizard of Oz curtain. Soon I will become The Face Behind The Mask… I hope you’re there.

 

Thank you.

 

(click the picture to see the post)

5 comments

  1. I will support you in this endeavor because you doing what you truly love is why I started supporting you and will be why I keep supporting you. I may not know what you feel or even how ut feels when your child is ill since I don’t even have a child, but I know how i feel and felt when a loved one has been ill and in hospital, the worry and everything, I can only imagine how you feel, having both that and people judging your content, that must take a toll on you, but I, and the rest of your core audience, will remain here and keep supporting you. I truly wish you and your son the best and I am very interested to see what’s next, mask or not, I am here for YOU and your personality and that is why I support you, it’s the least I can do since your music and your videos and given me so much joy and so much emotional support. Take care and happy new year.

  2. I’m a fan of everything you’ve done so far and that will never change. I don’t care whether you do anything I like in the future; I am still in support of YOU regardless. (If you happen to do something I like, great! If not, whatever.) If anything, I appreciate that you’re one of those people still finding your way… you may even be “still finding your way” your entire life, but IMO that’s a feature, not a bug.

    I wish the best for you and your son. Uncertainty can be even more difficult to deal with than something that’s bad but known. You know, I saw a speaker at a hospital few years ago, a woman who had cystic fibrosis. In the not-so-distant past the prognosis was very poor, but she’d had a successful double lung transplant and was doing well in her 20s. She talked about her experience thinking she was going to die soon. But then she got the opportunity for the transplant, another lease on life. She was actually upset at first, because she had prepared to die. She’d made her peace. But she hadn’t prepared to live. And there was still the possibility the surgery would not go well and she would die anyway. She didn’t know how to feel. It was like she was going to go on a trip, but it might be a trip to Hawaii or to Alaska. Should she bring clothes for warm weather? Or bring clothes for cold weather??

    When she talked to someone about it, they told her that what she needed to do was to pack for BOTH.

    That anecdote really stayed with me. There is so much unknown in life, *especially* when it comes to health. I am glad to hear things are going well for your son! Your future may not be clear, but I have no doubt you will find the path forward. Do what’s right for you. I know it’s a bit of a cliche, but that’s just because it’s true.

    Here’s to a happy 2018!

    1. Your reference of the CF survivor is eye-opening. Having had multiple surgeries, myself (though none remotely relative to CF), the thought of the now gives me immense anxiety. I remember my first surgery, not counting getting my tonsils out at age 5, which was to rebuild my left shoulder at age 16. I wasn’t nervous, scared, anxious, or any of the like. Rather, I brought the hospital back the Valium they gave me to take prior to surgery, telling them that I didn’t need it. The nurses were shocked and told me they’d never seen someone go into a reconstructive surgery without the slightest worry. I simply remember replying, “well, I know it’s gotta be done and it’ll fix the problem”. Today I have a vastly different mindset towards surgeries. Not because of something specific that happened during one of my other surgeries, but just a gradual fear that developed over time, worsening after each new operation. I think it could be related to a strong depression that came over me after having felt like I spend/t more time down in some way shape or form rather than being able to do what I wanted. Like a mythical chain which kept wrapping around my feet with every new step I tried to take.

      I know whole-heartedly that there are many, many, many more who are worse off than I. To know that there was someone who faced death and was instead given life after surgery is sobering. Thank you for your continued support and helpful words. I truly appreciate it all.

  3. This is going to be a long comment, but I’ve been wanting to say all of this for a while. I’ve been listening to your music ever since the day I found out about you, and there’s no exaggeration within that. Just like a lot of other people, I found out about you through Justin. At the time, you only had all the songs from “Scream Therapy” uploaded. I guess this is a pretty common thing, but “The Epic Way of Dying” was the first song I listened to; I listened to it all the way through, and I was amazed. I’m honestly not to sure why I picked to listen to that one first, but I did. I’ve listened to all of your SlogCasts all the way through, and they really intrigue me and help me wind down. However, it was your latest SlogCast that really made me want to say some of this. You talked about how everyone gravitated towards “The Epic Way of Dying” more than anything else, and I noticed that for a long time. You also said that people really only ever payed attention to that song, and not “Dust” or any of the others. I noticed that too, and I really never understood why either. The next song I listened to was “Losing Control,” and then “Dust,” and so on. I was heavily mesmerized by all of your music, and I was and still am so happy that I finally found the perfect music in my mind. The entirety of “Scream Therapy” is literally almost the only piece I listened to until “Rot” got released, and that continued all the up until “Probably Another Irrelevant Notion” came out. I listen to your music everyday, and I usually listen to your three full albums all the way through instead of just a song or two. I’ve just connected so much with your music, and you too after listening to your SlogCasts. I’ve never gotten tired of your music, and I can never decide which album is my favorite. When I get home from school (I hate school), I listen to your music, and it helps me more than I can express. I’ve been listening to you since I was in 8th grade. Now, I’m half way through 10th. I may be the youngest listener you have, I don’t know, but I’ve followed you ever since you started posting content, and I’ve watched it all. I enjoy your humor, covers, unboxings, SlogCasts, but most of all, your own music. Listening through all of your songs time and time again, I payed closer and closer attention to your lyrics. Although I only know what “Scream Therapy’s” songs mean due to the explanation videos, I still love them all. After your absence, I had a feeling you were attending to your child, and it wasn’t confirmed that you had one at the time, but I just knew you did. Soon after, the news came out, which confirmed what I was thinking. I was really happy to see that picture of you and your son, and then I read the caption on it. Reading what you’ve been through and all you had to do for your son really made me realize how amazing of a person you are, and how great of a father you already are. I recently left a comment on that post, so I don’t want to re-say what I said in order to not sound like I’m repeating myself, but I meant everything I said. I wish I could’ve seen that post sooner, but I’m glad I saw it when I did. Personal life comes before anything else, especially when it’s your child. I will respect and support whatever future content you produce, but please never feel rushed despite what anyone says. You have to do what makes you happy, like revealing your real identity. I honestly love the mask because it’s the visual part of what you built “Stenosis” around. It’ll be interesting and intriguing to see what you really look like. I’m excited for that video. However, in my opinion, I would at least keep the mask in the background of all of your videos; I wouldn’t just completely abandon it all around, because like I said, that is the visual that “Stenosis” is built on, and people recognize that as “Stenosis.” That’s just my opinion. Regardless, I love what you do, and you have my full respect and support. I wore that tie for a reason. I know it was just to a high school homecoming, but I still wanted to represent you and what I enjoyed in some manner. Every time I walk in my closet, I look at that tie, and I appreciate the immense positivity that you’ve brought into my life. From “Scream Therapy” to “Rot,” to “Probably Another Irrelevant Notion,” my love for your music has only increased, and I thank you so much for all that you’ve done. Your son is a miracle, and he will live to see the day where you become famous on stage. He’ll be so proud of you, and that’s the main reason why you should always follow your passion no matter how difficult it can be. Do it for you and your son. You can let the people that listen to you influence you, but never fully abide by what they say, because that’s not what true happiness is. Thank you, again, for all that you’ve done for me.

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