In 2001 I was applying for a scholarship. The last short essay on the application was a bit of a 'wild card' to let the reader get a more rounded picture of me. 'What additional personal information do you wish to share with the Truman Scholarship Foundation?' This was my essay: Junior year of high school: In the dark and dank basement I sit, crouched over an old Gibson steel string guitar, strumming chords. The guitar belonged to my mother's brother Bob, who died before I was born. I play folk songs from my mother's old copies of "Reprints from Sing Out!" and "The Bob Dylan Song Book." I also experiment with writing my own music-chord progressions and lyrical sketches. The next year I fall madly in love with a girl and write her an unfinished song. I have the melody, the chords and the chorus, but am unable to come up with lyrics. I do not play it for her. I write out the melody on score paper, make a crude tape recording, and enter it in the PTA Reflections Contest of student art. To my surprise I win first place in the music category. I complete my first song, lyrics and all, called "Alone." In college I take formal lessons from John Doan, a master guitarist. I mostly study classical guitar, and spend much more time practicing. I continue writing songs, most of them mediocre. I play at my first Open Mic in the campus Bistro: "Song of the Deportees" (Woody Guthrie), "Where Have all the Flowers Gone?" (Pete Seeger) and my one decent song from the year, "Log in Your Eye." I'm nervous and I mess up a lot. During my second year at Willamette I finally finish the love song I began two years before, "A Snowball's Chance in Hell." I begin playing regularly at Open Mic. I make people laugh. I continue writing songs; I continue taking lessons. I record a 28-minute demo CD with eight original songs. I am in love with another girl and write her a song. This time I play it for her. Fighting a bad cold, I perform a set at Wulapaluza, Willamette's music festival, with many loyal fans in attendance. I take my Martin Backpacker with me as I study abroad in Ecuador fall semester of my junior year. I give concerts aboard our ship in the Galapagos Islands. I begin to learn Latin American music. I write ten new songs, including one in Spanish. I have no idea where all this will take me, only that playing and writing songs is something I must do. I find in the guitar an excellent medium to explore the medley of conflicted emotions running through me. Without it I am not complete.