love

New Year’s Eve

So here I am, approaching a new year chowing down cough drops and reading a book.  Not that I have any complaints, I outgrew the “let’s begin the new year shitfaced” a few years ago, but it’s low-brow enough to be a high-brow thing going on here.
I spent the last two days of my Christmas vacation sick at my mother’s and the first hour of my return home silently crying in the backseat of a car, wishing I could be sick at mama’s house again.
Not often do we get to have our mother’s take care of us and pity us when we’re sick once we’re grown and moved out, so I sort of basked in it… I have to admit.
I bought a new journal during my trip home which is always exciting for me.  It’s like a fresh start, however, it always ends up filled with the same crap at the end of it’s lifespan.
At some point, even our pleasures become cycles – dull patterns of our life that we get stuck turning in.  Not to sound pessimistic, I’m certainly not viewing it all that way, but there is a sad truth to it that can’t be ignored.  I’m not really the free-spirit type, more of a silent, creative-type that moves along in the background and freezes up when any of the last shines close.  I shy away from any recognizable credit but still beg for it.  I’m still not entirely sure if that’s an insecurity or just a personality trait.

I don’t even really know what I’m talking about, I picked up a computer to write and crap came out.  It happens.  I just figure writing is the important part.

Lou Reed

On October 27th at 11:46 AM, I opened a text that said “Lou Reed died”.  After reading it, I immediately felt a plunge in my chest and realized I was actually crying.  I knew I loved Lou Reed but I had no idea how much he meant to my life until I read that text message.  The only other artists I’ve ever cried for are Etta James and Elliott Smith.  Elliott Smith’s death hit me like a sledgehammer; I opened the newspaper and saw a picture of him in his white suit on the upper corner of the front page.  In excitement, I turned to the article and was completely blindsided in the middle of my High School Economics class as I read he’d stabbed himself in the heart twice.  Amid all of the dates I can’t remember, I have never forgotten Elliott Smith died on October 21, 2003.

My interests swim all over the place.  I pick up a hobby, hang out with it for a while and then drop it and move on.  I’ve always been this way, just bouncing around trying to learn a little about everything because I’m interested in more than I can squish in to this life.  Music is one of the very few things in my life that I’ve stuck with since the moment I realized how much I truly needed it and never has there been a moment when it wasn’t entirely significant to my well-being.  It took me a while to summon the proper words for Lou Reed because he has been a major part of my growth as a person and as a music lover, and I still don’t know where to start.

When you live the most vulnerable part of your life with your emotions on the front line infantry, you’re inevitably going to have some internal scarring.  Thus far in my emotional journey, I can count on one hand, the bands/artists that have truly nurtured the wounds suffered on that battlefield and The Velvet Underground is one of them.
During a miserable bout of a “what does it all mean” crisis in my late teens/early twenties (before you could just downloaded music from home), I came across a copy of The Velvet Underground’s Loaded Fully Loaded Edition at a local record store.  Since that day, I have never once considered removing them from my Top 5.   For days, maybe even a couple of weeks, I listened the Ride in to the Sun and Sad Song demos and felt my entire life fold into and around itself.

Unfortunately, while I do enjoy Reed’s solo work (who couldn’t love Transformer and Berlin), my love lies in the late 60’s and early 70’s VU albums.  Candy Says, Stephanie Says, Louise, Pale Blue Eyes, I Found a Reason, I’m Set Free, Who Loves the Sun, Sunday Morning… the list just goes on an on.  These are songs I have worn out, made terrible life decisions to and redeemed myself to.  I feel like the Velvet Underground has been playing in the background of my life since I first let them into my weird little world.
Lou Reed made sense in the fog of drugs and liquor, in the loneliness and depression of solitude and introversion and in moments of absolute joy and bliss.  His music is like an emotional chameleon that promises comfort and understanding because his pain is your pain and his words are your life.   And I still feel this way.  There isn’t a single emotion that can’t be emphasized by listening to the poetry of his own experiences.

The musicians he influenced and the music he has inspired are endless lists of amazing talent.  To think that without Lou Reed there would be no David Bowie (another top fiver), I can’t even imagine what sort of turmoil my emotions would be in.  But still, in spite of all of his glory and his inspiration, one of greatest things about Lou Reed is that he somehow always manged to hold on to that “cool guy” persona that he greeted the music world with.
He remained ageless with the greats that died young like Hendrix and Joplin.  The name Lou Reed never drew to a mind a picture of an aged musician struggling to be hip.  Just sunglasses and a black jacket.  Lou Reed was a rare bird that glided gracefully across the generations and his significance remains untouched by time just like Johnny Cash and Hunter S. Thompson.  He was a pillar of the music world and the hole left by his death is as significant as the torch lit by his life.

The generation of music that truly changed music is slowly beginning to crumble and break apart and it’s incredibly painful to watch and experience. But like great literature, there will be those that refuse to be forgotten and Lou Reed lives among them.

Random Childhood Memories #1 (of about 10,000)

My Uncle Willie was the best storyteller I’ve ever known.  He was nothing more than an alcoholic country boy with Jesus in his back pocket, but when he  started in on his stories, there was no tearing yourself away.   The best memories of growing up are of the summers spent at the lake house with my uncle and my grandmother in the little town of Cisco, TX.
I was the “caboose” of all the grandchildren (as my grandmother always called me), and wherever my uncle and grandma were, I could be found. I have no doubt some would look those summers and shake their heads at the things I was exposed to, but the bonds of love and family were never stronger than those days at the lake house.
Perhaps it was the magnitude of their personalities, but even in my earliest memories, I recall preferring the company of my grandmother and her siblings over kids my own age, even to my cousins.

I owe any sense of adventure I have to my Uncle.  Not because he was particularly adventurous or even a daring sort of man, but because he always had a story to tell and no matter how dull it might have been in real life, he added just the right amount of garnish and you could visualize every moment in a sort of glittery shimmer.

His best known tale was the story of “The Old Man”, a sort-of swamp creature with one, big, yellow eye above his nose that lived at the bottom of the lake and ate raw fish and only talked to Uncle Willie. Any fish or animal bones found near the shore were just the remains of the Old Man’s meals. Nights when the coyotes were silent were nights you stayed inside because the silence meant he was roaming around looking for something to eat.
If you did go outside, you didn’t dare go without Uncle Willie because the Old Man wasn’t only ugly, he was mean and wouldn’t hesitate to make a meal out of you.

In the mornings, my uncle and grandmother would sit on the screened-in porch drinking their coffee and smoking cigarettes until everyone else woke up.  I was usually the first awake and I’d sit with them at the table and listen to whatever memories they were suddenly struck by.
Nearly every morning at the lake house, my uncle would tell me I fell asleep right before the Old Man came to visit him.
He’d brief me on their conversation and said he’d told the Old Man I was back (or still) in town. He always said he’d introduce me to the him one day and thought the Old Man might like me, but he probably wouldn’t like anyone else.  So, every night I’d sit up waiting to meet him with my uncle and grandma on the porch, listening to them talk until I eventually fell asleep.

Somewhere in the early 90’s Uncle Cliff married in the family through my aunt (my mom’s sister).  Cliff is 6’7 and 400 pounds of stupid but also 400 pounds of heart.  The first 10 or so years, my grandmother wasn’t very fond of him (she preferred my aunt’s ex-husband) and being blood, that meant Uncle Willie didn’t much care for him either.
Cliff was extremely gullible which made him the butt-end of countless jokes when he dared go to the lake house with the rest of the family.  Maybe he was too stupid to realize they were picking on him, but either way, he was always good sport about it.
Even in my single-digit years, I had my doubts about the existence of the Old Man but at 35, it wasn’t hard to make Cliff scared of the water.  I’m not sure he actually believed Uncle Willie, but he was still uncomfortable being out alone in the dark, nonetheless.

However it came about, one night he was dared to sleep on the fishing dock alone.  He talked big, but somehow my aunt ended up with sleeping bags on the dock with him.
At some point in the middle of the night, Cliff came bounding up to the house from the dock soaking wet, swearing the old man was after him.  To this day, no one is sure who scared him, but his delinquent stepsons weren’t his biggest fans.
Family legend has it that he couldn’t shut his eyes at all that night and heard branches cracking and something moving in the water.  In attempting to try to wake my aunt up, he swore someone grabbed his arm which scared him absolutely shitless, causing him to roll over and fall off of the dock and into the lake.  My aunt laughed at him that night and she still laughs at him this day.
Cliff has been dubbed the “titty-baby” of the family since that night.

Even when I was older and saw less and less of Uncle Willie, when I did see him, he’d always ask if I’d seen the Old Man lately.  For whatever reason, I always envisioned sitting at a picnic table under a tree by the lake house (even though there was no picnic table) and eating burgers with him and my uncle in the dark.  I remember thinking I wouldn’t act like I was afraid of him even if I was, espeically if Uncle Willie was with me.
Every time I watch To Kill a Mockingbird and Scout sees Boo Radley behind the door, I always think of the Old Man.  He is my Boo Radley, I just never stayed up late enough to meet him.  Uncle Willie died about 10 years ago and as I’ve gotten older and feel the sting of things I can never have again, I think the largest hole is reserved for summers spent in that shitty shack of a lake house in Cisco.

To Be vs. Not To Be

It’s interesting how people’s morals differ or rather, the things that cause one person to experience guilt while another doesn’t bat an eye.  Of course, this is far from something new, you’d have to be a total idiot not to recognize that people are different, but it’s truly amazing how morals one person can value so deeply can quickly be discarded by another.
As most of you well know by now, I take the bus to and from work and tote my bicycle along.  It’s a glorious life, I know.  Each bus has a total of 3 racks for bicycles (on rare occasions, two) and if all of the racks are in use, you’re shit out of luck.
I find that people in Arizona are generally rude and a lot of them seem to lack basic manners, so it’s up to my non-existent assertiveness to get my bike on the rack when there is one available spot and another person with a bike is also waiting.  I guess part of me still expects more from people, but I’m so incredibly cynical that I experience miserable anxiety when I see another person approaching my bus stop with a bicycle because a lot of people are total assholes and quite honestly, the majority of bus patrons have displayed more low societal standards than even the most pessimistic person could imagine.

Just as recent as last Friday, I literally had knots in my stomach after watching bus passengers crawl over each other to glimpse a motorcycle accident.  I swear on everything I love that I was the only one who remained in my seat out of about 8 people on the bus.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not at all denying the presence of my own curiosity but even in my general dislike for most people, I still feel that even the slightest form of respect is necessary when it comes to situations such as that.
Imagine, the whole of 5’oclock traffic stretching their necks so far that their mouths gaped open, all hoping to catch a glimpse of some gory accident and possibly a handful of those people had enough respect to place their manners before their urges.  I felt so nauseous and sick afterwards, that it wasn’t until after getting home and taking a shower before I felt any relief.

However, I’m a little of track here.  The whole point of even bringing up contrasting morals was to sort-of confess my own wrong-doings.  You see, in order to avoid the miserable plight of anxiety and the fear of full bike racks, when someone with a bike is headed for my bus stop, I hop on mine and ride to the stop ahead of whichever one I’m at.
This act alone makes me question more about the changes I’ve made in my life than a lot of the things I’ve experienced the past couple of years.   It’s awful and I feel damn guilty doing it, but I have lived my entire life putting everyone else before myself and you know where it’s gotten me?  Nowhere.  I’ve taken shit from just about everyone and the second someone realizes that I’m kind and considerate, they take advantage of me quicker than a starving lion approaching an injured animal.

This has been the very thing that has made me as cynical as I am because it is so much harder to be a nice person than it is to be an asshole and the pressure has finally broken me.  Some people would just say I’ve grown up, but no, that’s far from the truth.  I know because of the guilt I feel when I do something unkind.  It’s miserable and it haunts me.  I’ve dug out a pit the size of a landfill to hide all of my emotions in and I don’t know what’s more terrifying:  turning in to the cold-hearted bitch I try to pretend I am or the breaking point.
I’ll always be cynical, I’ve given up that battle because it grew out of necessity from being extremely naive and vulnerable.   However, I refuse to become some bitter, old lady like Vera Donovan from Deloris Claiborne.

My life has changed so drastically in this 27th year that I fear some of the changes are irreversible.  Yet, I still feel a loving warmth that is ever present in my life.   I’ve simply grown a thicker coat in order to survive and the need to survive (both emotionally and physically) seems to outweigh all moral obligations at this point in life.  You can call it cruel or weak, but I will fight the argument until I can no longer breathe.

What amazes me about myself, that I have mentioned countless times, is that despite what I have experienced, I still believe in all the things that have disappointed me.  Despite everything horrible, I believe enough in myself and  my dreams, that nothing can break that confidence.
I truly do believe in the inherent good in people, regardless of what I’ve seen.  I don’t know why or how, but I know that it’s there.
I still believe in love and romance, even though the past couple of years have shattered my hopes and dreams of both.
I still believe I am a good person even though I do things that stretch the boundaries of the morals I was raised to uphold.

In all of the miserable and wonderful things I have experienced even in the past year alone; I’ve realized that while actions speak much louder than words, sometimes the circumstances are greater than the person.
As long as the cruel realization of reality doesn’t burn out the light inside of you – there is always hope that you can overcome even the worst of yourself.

Top 5 (Personal) Song Choices January 2013

For any music lover, music is a constant in life.  If you don’t have the right music, you can’t stay in the right frame of mind.   Like music itself, there are different “genres” of music lovers.
First, there’s the content listener who rotates a library of a few hundred artists and can sit in a car with anyone and not get an itch to change the station no matter what’s on.  Then, you have the music intermediate.  The music intermediate has a preference but is generally flexible with other’s choices.  While they don’t seek out particular music, they will always welcome recommendations.  Next there’s the music seeker.  This person is best friends with internet radio stations, shizzam and anything that can offer them more musical routes.   No matter how much music they discover, their hunger can never be satisfied.
Finally, we have the music snob.  The music snob always started out as the music seeker, but after time sharpened their senses, they realized that there was so much crap music, you had to dig for the good shit.  Band history, bio’s, record labels, all of these things become significant and necessary when a band or artist makes it through all the hoops.
To most people, I probably seem like a music snob, but to those who know what I’m on about, I’m still transitioning from seeker to snob.  I credit music for making my life what it is and I know what I’m listening for when I listen to music.   I’ve researched genres, hunted down songs, read biographies/autobiographies and checked facts until words and names and genres all ran together, but I still don’t meet my own expectations.  So, until then (and even after then), I have to make lists of my musical whereabouts.
The following tracks are what carried me from January to February and kept my head above water.

 

1. Smog – Cold Blooded Old Times from Knock Knock
While the rest of the song may be irrelevant to any experiences in my life, “The type of memories that turn your bones to glass” are chameleon lyrics that need no specific scenario to be relevant.   Smog has never really made it to any memorable band list of mine, but there is something about Cold Blooded Old Times that you just can’t deny is worthy of mentioning.  Plus, the song is seriously catchy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Stevie Wonder – I Believe (When I Fall In Love With You It Will Be Forever) from Talking Book
The first time I heard this song (in all it’s cheesy glory) was on the High Fidelity OST and every since, I have adored it.  Even though the rest of the album isn’t my favorite of Stevie’s, this song has always given me a wonderful place to imagine love and romance and all of those things we secretly desire.  It’s one of those you can crawl to when things aren’t what you want them to be and realize that there is still a sort of sentimental hope.  For me personally, it’s an up-beat alternative to withering in self-pity listening to Billie Holiday and Bobby Bland.

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3. Bob Dylan – You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go from Blood on the Tracks
I have a love/hate sort of thing with Bob Dylan.  His early work awes me with his evident passion for music and his ability to tell stories.  However, post 1976 Dylan, for me, is a tad overrated and he’s always struck me as the sort to purposely press against the grain rather than to naturally flow in a direction.  That being said, Blood on the Tracks is one of the last of Dylan’s somewhat earlier albums that I can emotionally connect with, and You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go seems to make it’s way in to the rough patches of all of my relationships.  There is something about Bob Dylan and a difficult relationship that seems to have a sort of peanut butter and jelly affect.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Ty Segall – Imaginary Person from Melted
In the world of fuzzy garage rock, Ty Segall has made a bit of a name for himself.  He doesn’t quite hold a torch to Nobunny or Smith Westerns but he gets the job done and he does it well.  Lyrically, Imaginary Person is more like random cargo you might find useful in an emergency but musically, it’s spot on when you need to channel your aggression in to something a little healthier than anger but equally as satisfying.

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5. The Pixies – Brick is Red  from Surfer Rosa
MacGyver wouldn’t be able to find a lyrical connection to this song, but then again, The Pixies aren’t really known for their lyrical content which is exactly why their driving force is their staunch love for noisy harmony – thus is the way of life.   Quite honestly, I think Frank Black is a fuckin’ weirdo, but I have never been able to turn away from a Pixies song, even if it’s not one I particularly like.  Since the first time I heard this song as an awkward teenager, it has always re-entered my life with the same burst it came in to it with.

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What I’m Listening To Today

Music is my glue to this world, without it, I would have given up ages ago.  I have decorated my life with the pain of songwriters, musicians and composers and have kept my sanity because of them.   Today, these 5 albums have made my mental suffering a much more tolerable happening:

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All of these albums have been given plenty of love, and each one was greeted with a different form of excitement the first time the needle dropped on them.    I was fortunate enough to grow up in a family that understands music to the depth that I do and I’m often surprised with hand-me-downs around spring cleaning time.
When my grandmother passed last year, she willed me her record collection, which will be coming home with me to Arizona when I fly back from Christmas.  I have a very strong feeling that they will sit “neglected” due to the amount of pain listening to them will bring, but nonetheless, her collection is full of memories from my childhood and the excitement upon seeing them again is something I can’t describe.
That being said, this is my music station where the colors of my life happen.

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I can’t believe I’m almost 27

Sometimes I feel so broken beneath my life that I have to sit and tell myself “This isn’t my life, this isn’t my life.”   I have never felt so broken, ever.  I don’t know what I let happen to myself.  Why am I with a person who has no genuine interest in me?  We’re silhouettes; we’re two people leading lives that do not belong to our desires — playing roles we were unwillingly cast in to, hoping to walk away with some profit.
I’m too young to fear that my life is melting.

Going Solo

I’ve read plenty of books and blogs and quotes and poems.  Every writer will mention a calm that takes place/took place at some point in their life.  Today, I knew exactly what they meant.  Every previous form of calmness was blinded by the ora of pure, white kindness I felt today.  It bleached out everything that has been troubling my mind and I can truly think of no word to describe it, because I’ve never experienced anything like it before.
I felt it at 5:45 this morning.  I was waiting on my bus and asked myself:

Why are you so calm right now?  Your truck is gone, you take the bus to work, your relationship is hanging on by a thread, you’re in debt and you haven’t bettered your education in any way.  You’ll be 27 in a month and you haven’t worked in any way towards the career you really want.  You’re best friend won’t talk to you, you moved away from all of the others and no one in your immediate presence appreciates you or values your company the way the friends you left did [this does not include you, Cassie, if you read this].  But you’re still smiling and hopeful.  Most people would have quit at this point.  Why are waiting for this bus right now?  What is the purpose of continuing this?

The truth is, I didn’t really have a good answer.  But, somehow, I know that without a doubt, I’ll be just fine.  Not because I’m special or talented in any specific way but because the changes that have taken place recently, the inner-struggles that I have fought my entire life — they are all, suddenly, becoming clear.   I’m no longer troubled by the person I’m not, but inspired by the person I’m capable of becoming.  I have something to work towards.  And it’s not that I expect it to be easy, I know it’s going to be quite the opposite.  I know I will find myself on the floor curled up plenty of more times in my life.

But I’m not going to be that person any more than I’m going to be the person that inspires me.  I will probably always balance between the two.  I am a perfect whole.  And with everything I’ve lost and the miles and miles that stretch ahead of me; I’m seeing it for the first time, very clearly, as a clean slate. We can take nothing with us forever in life any more than we can take the things we cherish in to death.  I’ve spent my entire life clinging to my friendships and my relationships because I thought they were all I had.  It’s wonderful to value your friends and family —  to be there for them and to go to them when you need them most.  But it’s entirely different when you define yourself through your friendships and your relationships.  And that’s all I’ve ever done.  I’ve always tapped my foot to my own rhythm but I’ve never attempted to do it solo.  I’ve always needed the backing vocals and other instruments to harmonize with.
For the first time in my 26 years, I have no reflective surfaces in my life.  No one to mirror myself against and say: You’re a good person, look at the wonderful friends you have and all they do for you.  No one to reassure me (aside from my mother) or remind me of the wonderful things I am (aside from my mother).

And while I thought it meant I’d be a shitty person if I lost any of the people who comforted me in that fashion, it didn’t happen that way.  I was simply flooded with the reality that that’s life sometimes.   I could win the lottery and give it all to charity but that doesn’t mean there aren’t others still suffering.   In actuality, my dependency on the friendships I’ve lost cheapened the value of every kind gesture I made.  This doesn’t make me feel like a bad person though, the only person I feel like is the one growing in to someone that can handle the pains and still keep their head up.  The person that sees the changes they need to make and works towards changing them.  The person who’s had their heartbroken more than once but still believes in romance and love.   The person who can take a shitty situation and pull something positive from it.  The person, who despite every setback, still believes they are capable of wonderful things.

This isn’t an easy person to be, and knowing that comforts me because of all the things that are wrong in my life, I must have done something right if I still have this much confidence in my character.

I Saw The Light, And It Was Good

My entire life is about to change.  I’ve made plenty of decisions in my adult life, but this is the first time I’ve ever put myself before love.  It’s a miserable and liberating feeling. It’s terrifying and comforting.  It’s an opportunity to change, to grow and to shake the childhood notions of growing up to the ground.  I’ve waited long enough.  I’m an embarrassment to myself but that’s okay.  It’s not permanent and I’m not too old to start a different life.  At first I feared I’d be hardened and damaged but, no, that’s not the case.  In fact, I’m stepping away from everything with a better idea of how things should be and I know exactly what I’m looking for in love and in life.

Sure, right now I feel the cushion beneath me, but it will be a long road to recovery and I fear I’ve just lost my best friend and that’s okay too.  It’s not but it’s part of life sometimes and it goes on.  The more I begin to accept this all, the lighter it will become.  Some days will be easier than others.  And I have no doubt I’ll grow in to someone better from all of the pain I’m going to endure.  I’m not ready and I am.  My life is about to become a bunch of playlists of really, horribly sad music.  But misery enjoys company and I’m no exception.

While I may be losing someone very important to my life, I’m also gaining something, a sort of self-respect and confidence that I’ve never known.  And my journal has been flooded with beautiful words that I haven’t seen in years.  And it feels right and good and positive.  I am documenting my life to remind myself that yes, this is the right decision.  No matter how painful it is and how much I don’t want to fill pages and pages with miserable words; they’re wonderful fragments of something I’ll never have to suffer through again and the pain is written beautifully (nothing like the garbage I write on here).

If only I could always feel this positive, but life is not that simple and it never will be.  There will always be ups and downs and decisions to be made.  However, this, I know is the right decision and I know they won’t always be so easy to decipher.
Today, I am thankful for having a positive attitude about a terribly shitty situation.
Cheers to good friends :]