Hey, my name is Eddie
and in the veryyy beginning...
i grew up in dallas, tx
w my super (as in awesome & unstoppable!) filipina-chinese mom & stoic/cool long-haired gringo dad.
when my kid-sis nikki & i were really little, our family car was a motorcycle (my dad's kawasaki ninja!), papa pumped gas at grandma's gas station (he later finished college & became a self-made oil man), and mom taught special ed classes by day & went to school at night (she has like 3 advanced degrees & runs a company - our company - now. but that's a different story!).
i spent a lot of my childhood doing martial arts (my parents used the local dojo like a daycare center. thanks, mom! :D ), eating spam (which i thought was pretty normal until just recently), going to (ultra-privileged) well-heeled all-boys schools, traveling (more on that in a sec!), and making fantastic stories about my life.
speaking of which, i read somewhere recently
that the activities we're drawn to as kids - like, the stuff we're REALLYYY drawn to - are strong indicators of the stuff that we're drawn to as adults (mind-blowing, right?!), and in my case, anyway, it seems to be true: growing up, i spent a lot of my time writing, illustrating, & (most importantly!) starring in short meta-epics about battling monsters in far-off places.
today, a few decades later, i still spend a lot of my time writing, illustrating (although sometimes i sub this part out! :D ), & starring in short meta-epics about battling monsters (inner-demons, mostly) in far-off places (like southwest texas & new mexico; i call it 'west texico'. :) ).
of course, some of the stuff i write today eventually gets put to music, too, bringing me to...
which i've loved - & hated - since i was eleven (i'm 34 now).
both my parents are musicians, and for a long time the guitar was something (along w smoking cigarettes, drinking beer, having long hair, & playing Risk) i equated with adulthood (piano was 4 kids!).
i was 11 years old when my best friend (& later longtime-bandmate) Ted got a fender stratocaster & convinced me to "start a band" - the first of many! - w him.
papa agreed to teach me some chords, mom lent me her (mythical!) gibson b-25, and really that was that: i had myself a new writing partner-in-crime.
MUSIC SAVED ME (BUT IT'S COMPLICATED) PART I
for most intents & purposes, music was "what i did" for most of the decade that followed. ted & i played in bands as teens throughout the 90s, some of which were pretty successful, and all of which were fun & rewarding creatively.
i considered myself a writer first (i was mostly into poetry then), but bands like the smashing pumpkins, the flaming lips, and eventually radiohead (RADIOHEADDD!) turned me on to the possibilities of music in a way that i couldn't deny, and i eventually internalized it as an acceptable complement to poetry & prose.
i never really came to terms w the 'musician' or (worse!) 'guitarist' labels - even if they were better than the alternatives i heard at school! life was too big to focus on harmonies & melodies...
oh whoops! i almost forgot to tell u
something really important in the context of my life. something pretty vital in any attempt to understand me/myself.
in addition to being an educator & parent, my mom (she of the 3 advanced degrees & unstoppable spirit) is a life-long, self-proclaimed "traveler". not in a pretentious, post-LP slackpacker way (that's me); she just loved - & prioritized - traveling in a way that a lot of people (& most parents) don't. her mom (who i also called "mom") was the same way.
in my mom's case, i attribute it to the epic journey that her family made to the U.S. from the philippines when she was 12. (its an amazing story but i won't tell it here! just know that it involved a dozen adults, a dozen kids, planes, trains, buses, bandits, the US army, living in saigon during the vietnam war, and a fruit stand in queens, ny. if you're really curious, email me! :) )
regardless of where her free-wheeling ways originate, ive always felt like the experience of her immigration allowed her the audacity to travel on a dime & without the burden of plans.
oh, and with kids.
which is to say that nikki (kid-sis) & i got to travel. a lot. :)
our summers off together became trips to asia, europe, the caribbean, central america, and around the US, canada, etc..
we went to china when it was communist & honk kong when it was british. i crossed western europe (twice!) & went to costa rica for the first time (in '96! i got there before u did. & by 'u' i mean milennials :D ).
my earliest memories are in aruba (of all places; i was 3), and the first book i ever read cover to cover was a frommer's guide to japan ("for under $50 a day"! :D ) while we were in shibuya.
and then there were the mini-van trips w her humongous (& hilarious) filipino family on spur-of-the-moment 24-hour roadtrips to vegas (they go to choktaw now).
those trips w her became beautiful lifelong memories, and they still give me the most amazing pleasure to think back on. but more importantly (for this site), they gave me the audacity to really travel.
just having a travel-loving mom would have been one thing, but it turns out i got lucky - and the travel bug! - from both sides.
my dad didn't love traveling (not like THAT, anyway), but his dad did, and as i was his only grandson (and namesake!), he had big dreams for me, too.
in addition to helping fund a lot of my (prep-)schooling growing up, he took my dad & i traveling (& fishing, of all things) to a bunch of places around the world, too.
we went to mexico (for marlin), far nothern alberta (for pike & walleye), the carolinas (for crab? i don't even remember), western europe (again!), & a few other, less exotic places.
basically, i spent a lot of my youth traveling overseas, performing around north texas in experimental space rock-type bands, & (barely!) getting by at well-heeled all-boys prep schools.
THE DARK CHAPTER
a week after i turned 16, i went to western europe (again!) w some kids from my (privileged all-boys prep) school & some other kids from an all-boys prep school in alabama. it was a ton of fun, but more importantly (for me), it was also a colossal loss of innocence.
i hate to short-change stories like this, but i will here for time's sake. during the first 24 hours of that trip (in amsterdam), i smoked my first cigarette (2 packs of those baby blue camel lights), drank my first beer (maybe half a dozen heinkens. yuck), smoked weed for the first time (throughout the 24 hours. i was annihilated), and had my first sexual experience (on stage at a sex show. i won't spoil that one! ;D ).
its hard to overstate the fallout from that trip (er... day), but what i can tell u is that i basically went from "playing w make-believe swords in the park" to "selling drugs in the park" in about 6 months.
my grades suffered, and i was "lucky" to make it through the last 3 years of that school.
it all culminated when i was 18, i had a really bad acid trip (the kind u hear about in urban myths) during a "band retreat" in east texas & thought i died, changing my life (via changing my mind) forever.
literally unable to make sense of the world around me, i became increasingly reclusive, neurotic, and unstable. it was horribly clear to me every single day that i had no firm ground to stand on mentally or emotionally, and it had all seemed to occur so suddenly.
i felt like i had reached the bottom of some pit - or worse yet, that i was (literally) stuck in some sort of purgatory.
making matters worse (somehow) was the fact that i was going through it all on my family's dime. i'd chosen to attend college out of a sense of obligation (that's what kids that went to the schools i went to were supposed to do) & to keep my band (of 3 years) together - reasons that wouldn't have been enough for me to cut it at that level anyway, but in my new psychological condition, i didn't stand much of a chance.
i failed out of one super-expensive school, left the band (which consequently broke up), and failed out of another school in pretty quick succession. i also went to the U.S. - Mexico border a lot to 'touch the end of the universe'.
i still wrote most days, and, looking back, the writing had become pretty interesting in its (despondent) tone. my guitar-playing became pretty obscure.
i tried to explain things to my parents, but i'm not sure i did a good job, and my situation was understandably difficult to empathize (or sympathize) with.
concerned & unable to see a future, my dad suggested that i join the marines, and i considered. i'd be able to write, he said, and the experience could help me in ways i didn't yet understand.
in my state of desperation, it didn't seem like the worst idea, and anything was better than another failed semester, which i felt doomed for. i wasn't sure i was trainable, but i loved the idea of traveling overseas & growing in ways that i couldn't foresee.
the suggestion reminded me that there was something in the world i still loved, that i had forgotten about.
my mom didn't want me to go the marines, and agreed to send me to costa rica (where she had taken my sister & i a few years back) instead. i applied to universities there but was denied because of grades. the deal was that i would learn spanish.
the bad news is... i failed!
the good news is that traveling again - even that little bit! - gave me hope.
and (this is where im gonna start skipping major stuff!) ended up spending most of the next 4 years living, traveling, bumming, & working my way across latin america.
the experience marked me in ways that are - and probably always will be - difficult to articulate. i keep trying, though.
i'll always b a traveler first.
i did a lot of "crazy" stuff in a lot of different places over the next 5-6 years. i spent hundreds of nights sleeping in airports, bus stops, hotel lobbies, train stations, under overpasses & bridges, on park benches. i learned how to surf. i got really muscular. i started to cuss like a sailor. i went to jail in bolivia (4 starting a soccer riot), tried male modeling. kidnapped a drug dealer. some of it was more criminal than others
by the time i was 21 years old, i'd lived, worked, and/or traveled to 39 countries on 4 continents.
i could really (truly!) talk about those years all day, but i think the long & short of it
is that traveling put things in focus for me & helped me become a better person, a harder worker, a more independent thinker, and a more thoughtful writer. i feel like it also nursed me back to health somehow (even while i did everything possible to destroy my body!).
i also became a wayyy worse guitar player - mainly cause i didn't play once for like 6 years. (i felt like melody was inhibiting my writing. its a long story & i was probably neurotic)
i feel like i owe so much of who i am today - as both an artist & a person - to that period of my life, when all i had for miles & miles was myself...
i could really (truly!) talk about those years all day, but i think the long & short of it is that traveling put things in focus for me & helped me become a better person, a harder worker, a more independent thinker, and a more thoughtful writer. i feel like it also nursed me back to health somehow (even while i did everything possible to destroy my body!). i also became a (wayyy) wors guitar player.
i feel like i owe so much of who i am today - as both an artist & a person - to that period of my life, when all i had for miles & miles was myself...
townes van zandt (and this one night at the boathouse) changed my life
as best as i describe it, living so far from home at the age that i was (late teens & early-mid-twenties) and in the way that i did (mostly alone & without many resources) changed me so fundamentally that, when i did finally come back to texas in 2006, everything seemed new to me again - as if I'd never really lived here at all...
i hit the road (the state highway, this time!) as soon as i could & ended up in far southwest Texas, where a strange & fateful twist of events (involving some epic hitch-hiking!) landed me in terlingua ghost town. i listened in awe to a young desperado-type in a low-slung cowboy hat play townes van zandt at the boathouse & my world changed in an instant.
i drove back to dallas, borrowed a guitar from my dad, and have been more or less been playing & writing music again ever since.
music was like medicine.
looking back, the period of my life from 2007 - 2013 is a bit blurry. a lot happened: i got a job, (finally!) graduated from school, got another job (and another job), got married (to an amazing Brazilian girl named Paola! :D ), started a company (which i could almost literally write forever about), began attending an outdoor survival school, had 2 amazing babies (sons, Luca & Tiago), moved around (6 times in 6 years, 11 times in 10!), and did a bunch of other momentous & exhausting "real life" things along those lines.
in retrospect, music was kind of like my reprieve during those years - i wrote to reconcile my thoughts & make sense of all the stuff happening so quickly in my life.
i wrote dozens & dozens of songs (mostly about "getting outta here"), started a band (& another band & another band), began performing regularly again for the first time in a decade, played a couple of big shows (Erykah Badu, the Wallflowers), won some music-related awards that i really took to heart (notably, a best song nod from the dallas songwriter association), had my first radio airplay & live-in-studio performances, and, most importantly, came to terms with how much making music meant to my life.
the crescendo of that chapter came to a climax in 2013, when i received 2 small, but meaningful (for me) peer-awarded honors that, together, presented a very distinct "fork in the road" of my life for the first time since i'd graduated & chosen to stay in dallas to start the company.
all in all, it was an epically busy & productive time for me. but something about it didn't feel right...
blame it on my wild soul: the record. + the (PiNCHE!!) industry
in 2013, i received 2 peer-awarded honors that changed my life. the first was an entrepreneur of the year award i received from my friends & peers in the north texas green industry for the work i'd been doing (basically, recycling for businesses + educating people about zero waste) w recycle revolution. i'm not a big network-type, and i'd refused to participate in the social media-driven polling that took place prior to the ceremony, so it truly came as a big surprise (i was pretty hammered when they called my name. the wine was free!)
2014, after some much needed soul-searching (& epic beach-creeching) in brazil, i decided that i wanted to start over again in life in some pretty important ways. u could say i felt like i had missed my path.
i left my company, disbanded my band, launched a successful kickstarter, & really began giving myself to music - as in, the music industry. at the same time, my wife & kids & i moved to the suburbs (ugh! jk they're kind of cool. the one im in anyway. i also translated a book at this time. u can find it here! :D ). it's been a cathartic period, to say the least.
for the first time in so, so long i began to really identify as an artist. and i realized how much outside perspective influenced my own perception of myself. i also realized that i didnt really have a specific goal; just a path. but u know what? the path felt better. :)