In Memoriam.

Three years ago on this day, a light was abruptly diminished from this world.

That light was my beautiful cousin and she was gone without preparation or warning from this earth. I’ll never forget that day because it was so unexpected.

I felt many things; extreme sadness that she was gone, grief for her immediate family who loved her so dearly and for all the time that I could never make up in getting to know her better.

She was a few years older than I and we grew up in different states. She was a brilliant artist/graphic designer who had a love for the arts and a passion for music that I often thought might even exceed my own.

A number of years back, and I don’t quite remember how it happened, we started and on-again-off-again email correspondence in which we shared film soundtrack suggestions with each other. She would send me suggestions and I would investigate them and I would do the same in kind to her. It was fun to see what we already had in common and to learn about new things from each other. Sadly, I did not keep up as well as I should have and the emails gradually died off between us.

Somewhat randomly, though I believe it was God, a little bit before she passed we started to chat briefly about soundtracks again on Facebook Messenger. I really should dive backwards into my messages and see what brought it about. But I will never forget that the final soundtrack I shared with her, just months before her passing… It was the soundtrack to the movie “Beautiful Creatures”. I love it for many reasons but the main one was it doesn’t conform to the typical sound of other film music. It’s a little indie pop, a little orchestral and a lot of awesome… and something inside me knew that my cousin would appreciate it too.

I still think of her often and find myself wishing that a younger me hadn’t put off keeping those conversations alive. Part of me will likely always regret that. But the other part of me is thankful for the time we did have. She was an amazing, talented, smart and incredibly witty person. The world deserved to know her better. But I’m thankful that the heavens do; I know she’s up there watching down…and likely painting on the canvas of the stars. That brings a much needed smile.

I’m ending this post with the song I wrote in her honor when she passed. Words absolutely failed and I often find music will speak for me when I cannot find the words.

All my love, C. May your light continue to shine brightly down on us, somewhere beyond the stars. ❤

– d.l.k.

Music Composition.

So, despite my work in the theatre world (which I absolutely love), at one time I envisioned my career to be something a little different. I wanted to be a film composer.

Now, that dream hasn’t died and I’m only 30 years along in my life so it could still happen! But for now, it still remains a dream. My ability to compose, however, is not a dream and is a skill I’ve been working on for around 16 years now.

I grew up around music. My parents always had music playing; whether it was the radio, cassette or CD player: music was a big part of our lives. We also watched a lot of films that were musicals, whether in whole or in part. From old Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movies like “The Gay Divorcee” and “Top Hat”, “Singin’ In The Rain” with Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds, all the way up to the latest Disney Musicals (at the time things like “Pocahontas” and “Lion King” were still brand new…hah!): I loved all of them! But there was something about the magic of the Disney scores/orchestrations always caught my ear.

Embarrassing childhood story alert….

When I was probably 7 or 8, Disney’s “Aladdin” was still new(ish) and I loved the movie. Jafar was my favorite character but I LOVED singing “Friend Like Me”…but that’s another story for another time. My dad taped a performance of The Boston Pops, featuring James Taylor (why HE was watching it) but it also featured an orchestral suite of the music from “Aladdin” (which is why I wanted to watch it). I was fascinated at the time particularly by some of the percussion instruments. The one that caught my eye/ear the most for some reason was the bell tree, not that I had any clue what it was at that time! (For those wondering, this is what a bell tree is: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bell_tree)

I wanted to play along and create a similar sound. My mom, ever encouraging of my endeavors (no matter how bizarre), helped me to pull out the metal racks from the oven as well as the pots and pans and I proceeded to play these things with a metal spoon, especially running it down the rack to recreate the bell tree sound, LOL! I made a lot of colossal noise and completely wore out that VHS tape the concert was recorded on.
(Fun fact: the conductor of the pops at that time was John Williams. I had no idea who he was but I would figure it out later on…if you don’t know me, I’m more than a little [read: CRAZY] geeky when it comes to Mr. Williams compositional abilities)

As I got older, I continued to listen to more and more Disney scores, and learned to play most of my favorites on piano. But it was in 1996 that things changed drastically with the release of Disney’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”.

Something about that score hit me in a way that no other had. And one day, while I was obsessively listening to the opening song of the film, something in my hearing changed. Instead of hearing the orchestra as a whole, I suddenly heard the breakdown: oboes, clarinets, horns, violins, etc. They all came to life in a way that I couldn’t explain. Suddenly I was able to hear the intricacies in the scores that I hadn’t noticed before. To this day, I’ll often ask someone if they noticed [insert a random instrument line here] within a song and often times I get a very strange look, because not everyone hears music that way….or so I learned when I was younger.

From that point on, I began to grow an interest in composing music. My dad, who is a technology nerd (for which I am VERY thankful!) made sure I had what I needed to begin that journey. It started with very basic midi software where I would try and recreate orchestrations I heard by playing them in, one part at a time, into a computer. Then it turned into wanting to put the notes on a page.

Around the time I turned 14, there was a guy at my parents church who lead music for one of the youth groups I think. My memory is a little fuzzy on the details but suffice it to say: he had studied composition at Stetson University and put us in touch with the head of the composition department there. Against most odds, this head of the department agreed to teach me privately. And so, I began to study composition once a week.

I studied with this teacher until the age of 18. I began to look into the idea of attending Stetson (which I did, only for one semester….long story for another time); however, about halfway through my senior year of high school, my composition teacher informed me that he was transferring to another school. [He did and has now been the head of composition at Berklee College of Music in Boston ever since. Pretty fucking cool, if you ask me!]

I did study composition that one semester at Stetson but that was the end of my private training. As the years have gone by, I continue to compose here and there and my love for it has never gone away. Last year, I completed the original orchestrations in addition to some arrangements for a brand-new musical called “Sherlock (Holmes) in Love” which I also music directed in it’s world premiere in Central Florida. Before that, I composed incidental music for two separate plays at the same theatre, composer the score for a handful of no-budget short films and even (years ago now) won first place in a composition competition for a concert band piece I wrote. [Yes, I really am THAT nerd.]

So, as I sit here at 4:34AM in the morning with nine (yes, 9) John Williams related YouTube videos open in my browser’s tabs, I can confidently say I still dream of writing music for the big screen one day. The art of creating a score that helps tell a story is something I have such passion for and I think I always will. (And don’t worry… there will be an entire post devoted to explaining my absolute love [read: obsession] for John Williams’ brilliant compositional talents. But that’s for another time.)

To wrap this up, I’m sharing a clip from one of the short films I scored…well, technically this was from a three-part, web-short series. Ultimately, these cues didn’t end up in the final cut (a long, twisted story that doesn’t need to be told) but I’m happy with the work I did and so I’m happy to share it with you! The desired style of the score as described to me by the director of the project was something along the lines of the television show “24”; the web series was edgy and needed a score to match. The following clip is from the 2nd part of the ‘series’.

I’m extremely thankful that my parents chose to make music such an important part of our lives. If not for them, Disney, my composition teacher and (yes, I’m gonna say his name again) JOHN FREAKIN’ WILLIAMS: The above composition might never have come into being. And since I don’t have to imagine that alternate universe: I’m not going to!

Cheers for now,

d.l.k.

My Failed Marriage.

Here’s the thing: something can look great on the outside but be completely messed up on the inside. This is true of people and relationships alike. And in my case: both were true of myself and my marriage of the last nearly 5 years.

[I will say this right now: I’m not looking for sympathy. That’s not why I’m penning this. I am penning this because for too long I have made excuses, softened the details and manipulated situations so I wouldn’t have to face my own reality and just how messed up I was. I also did this because I didn’t want people to see me that way; I don’t think anyone ever wants to be seen for their addictions, hang ups and problems but truthfully that’s the only way to get better.]

Around the age of 8 years old, I first discovered pornography. I discovered it in two ways: playing in the woods with my friends, we discovered some Playboy magazines that had been hidden in the leaves by some older kids in the neighborhood and I also discovered it on the Worldwide Web. Unfortunately for me and my parents, I was always the living definition of “curiosity killed the cat”….so when puberty hit early, I had a lot of questions that they weren’t ready to answer. And so, being the curious kid I was: I went in search of my own answers.

Now, I was 8. I knew right from wrong; and when I discovered porn (both times), I knew it was something I shouldn’t be seeing. But, like with any other addiction, once you’ve done it once: you want to do it a lot more.

And I did. It’s a weird combination of wanting to quit but wanting to continue that I cannot put into words, but where I went wrong was: I never really allowed myself to ask for the help I so desperately needed. I would try to walk away for a bit but then, when I thought I was doing a good job, I would let my guard down and fall in deeper than the time before. By my late high school/early college years and up through more recent times: it wasn’t unheard of for me to watch 5-6 hours of porn straight in one sitting, when the time was available to me. Am I ashamed to say this? Absolutely. It’s unbelievably disgusting and horrifying to think that I could not only do that to myself but to those who loved and cared about me, from my parents to my spouse.

Needless to say, I carried this addiction into my marriage and over the years, it completely destroyed any semblance of trust that was there. Because it isn’t just that I was cheating with my eyes; there were lies told to try and cover my shame, manipulations in order to buy myself more time to watch porn, etc etc etc. That my wife stayed with me, stuck up for me and loved me through all of that alone is beyond my powers of comprehension. She is likely the strongest person I know and it will always be my biggest regret that I didn’t fight harder for her. She certainly deserved it.

In addition to, and really spurred on by, the porn: I had three minor affairs with real life people. Meaning, two of them I flirted with on a regular basis (in addition to the thoughts left only in my head) and the third was an indecent encounter, though I don’t think this person ever knew I saw anything. These people never knew and never will know because that isn’t their burden to carry. But I had a crush and I allowed it to grow and take up space in my mind that should have only been reserved for my wife and my wife alone.

Beyond that, I learned somethings about myself that I think I always knew deep in my subconscious but had never wanted to admit to myself.

1) I am an incredibly manipulative person. This is the exception to the above statement because I knew this about myself and, in business situations, had even prided myself on it. What I didn’t want to admit to myself was that I was just as manipulative in my relationships, and in particular my marriage, as I was in the business world. I don’t honestly know why I allowed myself to be that way in regard to the people I love. I can only assume it’s an ego and a pride thing and also a desperate need to be right and get my way. And yes, I realize how disgusting I sound right now. But the only way this gets better is if I fully admit that I did these things and that I know how awful they really were/are.

2) I am an emotionally abusive person. This one I cannot explain. My genuine desire is to be a good person and to love those I’m close to. But somehow, in the middle of all the other shit: I began behaving in ways that were emotionally abusive. Figuring this out about myself and then seeing it in action was probably one of the worst moments of my life.

3) I am incredibly selfish and narcissistic. It’s true, and it hurts to admit. If it isn’t something that directly affects me, makes me happy or in some way fulfills me: I generally find myself drifting off from it. Whether it’s in conversation, at a theme park, whatever. And it’s one of the many things I’m desperately trying to correct because I do NOT want to be that person. But I have been for years and, yet again: it played an integral role in the destruction of my marriage.

4) In the midst of all of the above, I also found myself becoming quite a good liar. It goes hand in hand with addiction and manipulation and I got very good at it. I am not happy to say that this one I was aware of and I didn’t allow it to scare me as much as I should have. But, I am also happy to say that it is one of the areas I am getting better at quickly. It’s not fun to have to admit when you made a mistake or something is your fault but it’s better than being a liar. Believe me.

5) I was a complete control freak. Not in my life so much as in my marriage. The money, what she was doing, who she was talking to, the whole nine yards. I genuinely don’t know why I was that way, but I was. And the scariest part was that I didn’t see it for a LONG time. And she deserved so much more than having to put up with that, or with any of this for that matter!

So, where is all of this coming from? Well, my previous posting was really a disaster for many reasons. The intention behind it was pure and, though I knew it would hurt people in my life, I really felt like I wanted to post it. I won’t pretend that there’s not a small chance some of the reasons deep down were self-serving; I don’t know in the midst of everything exactly where I am with my shortcomings. But I truly believed that I was doing the right thing and tried to be as careful about it as I could.

I’ve made mistakes, which ended up causing a lot of pain and hurt beyond what I ever could have imagined. The first was that I wrote it very late at night and made the decision to allow it to stay posted on the blog. Originally, I hadn’t intended for it to publish but since I hadn’t really blogged all that much, I was going about it wrong and it was published. I told myself it wasn’t a big deal because it wasn’t on Facebook and therefore not likely to be seen by anyone my wife or our families know.

The second mistake was that when my wife pointed out it had been published, I didn’t delete it until she had time to give the okay. I showed her first because I knew it was a hurtful subject and ultimately wanted her permission to post; but all the while I continued to leave it public.

The third mistake was after I published it on Facebook, I met with some heavy criticism from a family member. I did not defend that family member when some of my friends attacked them (out of love or not, the defenses were fairly pointed) and when my wife chimed in to point out that I hadn’t been truthful when I said she’d given permission: I panicked and deleted the post. I will not lie and say it wasn’t from a selfish point of view; but I can also tell you that the other part of the truth is: I didn’t want people to take her (my wife’s) anger out of context and attack her next. This isn’t justification for the other mistakes, it’s simply part of the narrative and part of the truth.

So, here I am. My wife is incredibly hurt, her family is incredibly hurt and I am here to say publicly that I am very much a messed up human being. I have made some horrible mistakes, terrible choices and caused a lot of hurt and heartache to many people over the last 8+ years. Frankly, it doesn’t matter if that’s “not what I meant to do” because the damage was done either way.

I apologize sincerely to my wife for all of the hurt and heartache, the lies, the manipulations, the cheating (in real life or online), the emotional abuse and for not standing up for her when she needed it most. Nothing I can say or do will take these things back.

I apologize to my parents for any hurt and heartache I have caused them throughout this ordeal and most especially if they feel that I, in any way, threw them under the bus with my previous post.

I apologize to my wife’s family for the residual hurt and heartache you have suffered from me not being there for your daughter/sister as I promised to on our wedding day. I also apologize for the times when I have not defended you like I should have. You all were my family and I should have given you that courtesy just as you have me over the years. You all deserved better from me as well, and I’m sorry I didn’t give you that.

And I apologize to everyone else for painting a picture of myself that misrepresented me. I may have the best intentions in my head and heart but I often fall very, very short and I never want anyone to try and paint a picture of me that isn’t accurate and doesn’t include the fact that I’ve done some seriously messed up shit.

To all of you: I am not taking this lightly anymore. This public admission comes because I am done trying to hide myself from you and from me. I have already begun to make serious changes in my life and I will continue to do so and all I ask is that you bear with me as I do. I promise I will seriously fuck shit up along the way, but I will also own it and rise above it to be the person I know I should and CAN be.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. My only request is that you refrain from commenting. Feel free to private message me with any comments, concerns or beefs you may have. I will do my best to field all of them.

Oh, and if you’re a friend to my wife: please let her know that she’s loved. Let her know that someone cares and that it will get better. Because she deserves that happy ending that I couldn’t give to her.

Cheers for now,

d.l.k