“I Am Haunted” - Indians (03:24) from “I Am Haunted” (2012)
I am trying so damn hard. This autumn has been a test of endurance, a faithful commitment to the art of optimism. By nature, I’m just so haunted by time’s ghosts, lurking upon me all clouded, claws drawn. I yield them off with a steadfast sword, silencing the same moments that have kept my dreams at bay, kept me silent and sheltered, so appeased and frightfully stagnant. But the new chapter has no face for complacency. I must learn to stitch my wounds, carry on with whatever ammunition remains. In all attempts, I feel myself growing stronger with each bite of this new raw appraisal. I stow these tragedies in a carry-all, only to remind my healthier self of the pains that kept me uninspired and unwilling to chase these skies before me. I am born.
"Ordinary People" - John Legend (04:42) from Get Lifted (2004)
I haven’t been in love for over four years. I say I love you every day to the people who matter the most to me, but each of those people are in love with someone else, or something else, or multiple people, or themselves. Loving, in love, to love, to be loved: technicalities so intertwined in depths and sincerity.
Things used to be different. I was engaged once. Engaged to somebody who is now engaged to somebody else. I tell myself that I’m not bothered by this. I tell myself a lot of things.
Things have become increasingly strange lately. I feel like an alien, partially because I’m alienated. And all the people I love are so busy with the people they love. A lonely lone alien in a sea of love that surrounds me but repels. I am ready now. I was born ready.
If I could, I would throw my dreams and desires away for the opportunity of being truly happy and in love. I know because I tried it once. The whole ‘eggs in one basket’ is a risky game that beat me. But I would do it again in a minute.
I have a date on Sunday that I’m nervous about. Nervous because each shot feels like my last. I never seem to get younger despite telling myself to.
"My Funk" - Brite Futures (03:10) from Glistening Pleasure 2.0 (2010)
Sometimes I feel like nobody in the whole fucking entire world actually gives a shit that I exist. And I spend an entire day without hearing from the people who are supposed to care. And people at work ask me the most inane questions. And people say the most fucking rude and idiotic shit like, “Oh wow, you’ve gained weight, huh?” And I get upset about this. And then eat the world’s shittiest-for-me food. And I am so god damned unproductive, comparing myself to everyone and everything in the world, feeling completely useless.
I hate days like this, where I feel like I have absolutely nobody I can talk to about my problems. Days where I seem to be completely nonexistent. The fact that I am basically isolated from my whole social circle because of one fucking bitch of a person who can’t get her head out of her fucking ass.
I want better things for myself. A better body. Better friends. Better opportunities. Better things around me.
Sometimes I just want to get the fuck out of here.
“You can say what you want ‘bout me But I’mma knock you in the front teeth”
“Slow Show” - The National (04:10) from Boxer (2007)
Tonight I had a conversation about which song you can’t listen to without crying. Without a doubt, this is mine. I will never forget sitting alone at The Malkin Bowl in the pouring rain, sitting on the grass with a newspaper ‘umbrella’ sobbing while they played this.
“Our Deal” - Best Coast (02:08) from Crazy For You (2010)
Certain songs are so imbedded with memories, that the mere idea of separating them never even seems to cross my mind. It wasn’t until last night that I realized I’d stopped listening to certain songs because of the things they reminded me of. But when you’re watching a band live, you have no control over what they’ll play, and it should only be expected that they’ll play their biggest hits.
I’ll never forget that flight. How you weren’t there when I arrived because you had to work, so we had to drive to the store and see you. And there you were, for the first time ever. Svelte, tall, your company-supplied v-neck hugging at your hollow ribcage. It was only hours later I’d find myself in your bed, our wrapped up like ribbons and bows, so happy to touch each other for the first time. The awkward hand-holding in the back of Brandon’s car. The walks into town in the sun, and home in the snow. Taking photos of each other that we promised nobody else would ever see. How I left you my favourite book and a cardigan, and ‘accidentally’ left with one of your shirts in my possession.
The week I came home, Best Coast played at The Biltmore in Vancouver, and I was far from processing my feelings.I sat with her in the merch booth crying, while she told me to go chase you, to go get what I was looking for. I don’t know why I couldn’t, why I didn’t. I thought I already tried, I figured I already lost.
Months passed, cards were sent, I possessively crept your online persona. It feels so long ago.
Last night, more than two years later, she seemed to remember it all. “We played here a few years ago, and a fight broke out in the middle of our set. We’re not really a fighting band.” It’s not the fights I remember, just the sadness I felt that night. But it all came back with one listen. Remembering how you’d just play those songs on a loop while we sat there under those green and blue covers, asking each other where we thought we’d be a few years from now.
"I feel crazy ‘cause I didn’t say anything I wish you would tell me how you really feel But you’ll never tell me 'Cause that's not our deal”
“Clean” - Louise Burns (03:43) from Mellow Drama (2011)
Some friends are here for a reason, some for a season, and some for a lifetime. I guess it doesn’t always pan out how you think it’s going to. The funny part is that I’m way more okay with things than I thought I would be. It doesn’t hurt anymore. I’ve learned that I deserve a lot more than what you were giving me, and that the love, care, and respect of my true allies runs thick. I will always care about you and wish the best things for you in your life, but the path has split off, and, as you said “I’m on my journey.”
"I told the truth With never needing to stop In my youth The inescapable thought”
"Roll Up" - Wiz Khalifa (03:48) from Rolling Papers (2011)
Sometimes a song’s original intention might get completely skewed in the process of what it means to someone. For example, I am completely convinced that Wiz Khalifa’s original thoughts behind “Roll Up” were about courting a girl from a different class status (whatever that may mean these days, particularly to a pot-focused rapper). I will admit, this is not a song I would have seen myself getting into, but as I get older, I am exposing myself to, and enjoying, a lot more variety of music than I previously gave myself a chance to.
Today I am going to tell you a story. A story that is very close to my heart and very important to who I am and how I look at things.
In the spring of 2006, I applied to go back to school after dropping out the year prior. I decided a new campus would be a good idea, giving me a fresh start. My first class on my first day back was a Creative Writing class, that I had no clue would be so vital to my social and personal life for years to come. When I walked in, I surveyed the people in the room, and went to sit next to two people who looked the ‘coolest’. I sat down right beside them, all keen and overexcited, and introduced myself to them. The bespectacled young woman and the surly looking guy both looked at me as if I had a third eye growing out of my teeth and didn’t offer me much of a greeting. Not the response I had hoped for. Based on that greeting, did I have any idea that this thin, angst-seeming young man would go on to become my best friend? If you told me that at the time, I wouldn’t have believed you.
Within months, I learned that this classmate, Giles, had a very smart funny penchant for humorous Star Trek fan fiction hidden behind his once shy demeanor. As we were paired together in an assignment, I got to understand that the cold glare I was faced with the first day of classes was merely a facade, a roll, a mask hiding one of the greatest people I have ever known. In the five years following that initial greeting, I have found someone that I am able to share every aspect of my life with, someone who redefines the word friend, and gives reassurance to me in the face of not being very trusting in my fellow human beings. Giles has saved my ass, made me laugh, given me opportunities, slapped me in the face with harsh truths, made me second-think my own stupidities, and forced me to challenge myself to keep moving in the darkest days when I’ve wanted to just retire completely.
When I was a very young person, my grandfather told me something that I will probably never forget. He told me that in my life I would meet a lot of people, and many of them would prove to be not who I thought they were. But he told me that if I was a very lucky person, and played my cards right, when I die even if I had one friend who I could trust completely, then I was a very lucky man indeed. When I think of my friendship with Giles, I think of this advice, and I really believe it is true. I know that I am not the easiest person to get along with, I am frustrating beyond belief, and that many other people I’ve met don’t click with me for these reasons. But I also know that Giles and I are able to crush all of the bullshit and the things in our way, because I have found a friend I share a mutual love with, and when I am really focusing on the positive things in my life now, I am so fucking thankful and lucky for him.
So maybe “Roll Up” doesn’t exactly mean the same thing to Wiz or to anyone else but me. But when I hear the song, I can’t help but think of my best friend, my bandmate, my confidante, my one-time co-worker and boss. And finding the personal connections in songs that might not otherwise be there for other people is what make it a really great song indeed.
"Whenever you need me Whenever you want me You know you can call me I’ll be there shortly
Don’t care what your friends say 'Cause they don't know me I could be your best friend And you be my homie.”
"Relief" - Chris Garneau from Music For Tourists (2007)
What is the definition of a friend? Surely it is different for everyone. I suppose the context and the proximity and the correlation of specific things would all come into play. There isn’t one specific answer.
I guess what is more clear is when someone moves from being a good friend to the other side of the street. When someone intentionally starts putting you out of their head. When you can be consciously witness to a shift in behaviour and priority: as a human being who is even the least bit savvy in keeping your eyes wide open. When someone is capable of marking their skin with you, but incapable of sharing an intimate side of their self later on, creating a divide and a clear line where you are no longer entitled to stand. It’s a sad, sad thing. And it’s been eating me alive for the last while.
Getting perspective on a situation is always best from the people without a personal knowledge of the characters on your journey. And the ones I’ve spoken to about this situation have told me how unsafe it is to walk one way on a two way street. It’s all over my face, and it’s not good: I’m unable to hide the way it affects me, and I don’t want to have to play pretend, really.
When something’s dead, then that’s just it. When beating around the bush just no longer seems manageable, do you go down behind the shed and put it down?
"Don’t you miss your chance, The pain will all grow out. I didn’t go to see the city, I went to see it around you.”
In an attempt to make my life a bit more interesting, I’ve decided to attempt to do new things lately. I’m looking into dance classes, and I’ve started to book some blocks off from work during which I can travel and create things. I kind of came to the realization that it isn’t worth it for me to work when I am not really giving myself the payoff of doing things I want to do with the money I’m earning there.
Last week, I auditioned to be the new vocalist for a local band who recently canned their pre-existing singer. It was by far one of the most nerve wracking things I’ve done in quite a while. I trained as a vocalist in my youth, but never kept it up, and in my current state, I wouldn’t say I’m particularly talented, though I’d say I have enough character and charisma to pull off most singing types. They ‘jammed’ for about 20 minutes and asked me to “jump in” with lyrics on the spot. Let me tell you, it’s not the easiest thing to do, in the company of three people, who have been playing together for a few years, and known each other even longer. I’d never met a single one of them before, and there I am belting out on-the-fly lyrics about my work day, shitty boys, and friend drama. [Yeah, it was that kind of a day, so at least I had good fodder.]
They also had me run through three of their pre-finished songs, giving me a quick primer on the lyrics, and throwing me right into it. One of the songs I really enjoyed, though later I realized sounded like it could be a B-side on a Gorillaz album. It was about being at a teen weekend party and not identifying with your age. The lyrics and the tune were actually quite clever. Anyway, it’s been in my head ever since, and since I don’t have access to it, here’s one of my favourite Gorillaz tracks that I’ve also been thinking of lately since that experience.
I doubt I got in the band. There were definitely some shifty eyes and the awkward “…We’ll call you” as I was leaving. But the important thing is that I stepped out of the routine of my every day to do something different.
"You’ve got to press it on you You just, think it, that’s what you do That’s what you do, baby Hold it down, DARE”
"Like Eating Glass" - Bloc Party from Silent Alarm (2005)
Strange things have been happening lately, and I’ve started to wonder if patterns and themes are things that we seek out, or if they’re actually so evident that we can’t help but pay attention.
Things around me have been breaking as of late. Literally. In the past week alone, I’ve broken four dishes in three separate occasions. I’ve had to get my phone replace three times in weeks. It seems every time I pull something out my bag, it’s a ripped up book, a crushed photograph, or a shattered pen leaving a massive ink spot everywhere. Perhaps I just need to be a lot more careful. But I can’t help but think of “This is why we can’t have nice things.” Who knows?
Did I chaotically create a pattern within myself after the first shatter? Have I waited for myself to become so clumsy that I am instinctively fumbling along, and after each roadmark on this minute journey, hyperbolizing the cause to the extreme? Maybe this chain reaction is entirely internal, in that I’m sitting and waiting for destruction now, and in turn created a grandiose spectacle looking for a meaning in what could just be a coincidence of human behavior.
People obsess about many things, but over the past few weeks I’ve watched a love one fearfully ponder of the meaning of seeing the number 222 everywhere she goes. I’ve told her that she notices it because she is now looking for it, and after researching it online, she’s certain that it’s an omen of something to come. I’ve tried explaining that online, speculators are going to be nit-picking possible reasons for anything you could possibly think of, and it’s a dangerous path to start to walk down. Letting other people’s ideologies and ‘meanings’ for things is ridiculous, in my opinion. When I mentioned this to her, she said “I thought you were a lot more spiritual than this.” Now, that could be a whole separate entry, but I fail to see how me not buying in to this concept makes me un-spiritual. Is it too much to ask to make our own minds up about things?
At any rate, I’m going to conclude with thinking that both of these coincidences are just that, nothing more or less. When we’ve created an obsession within our own mind, no matter the scale or specificity, we are bound to keep it going in whatever ways possible. Perhaps while my mind is on the topic, I will keep subconsciously causing myself to be careless and damaging to things around me. If I were more organized and more systematic, maybe I wouldn’t be writing this at all. I do know that I have had a long-term obsession and fear with things breaking, falling apart, and deconstructing, going back to childhood nightmares in which my teeth would shatter on any glass surface. Even a few years ago when I worked in retail, I would avoid the massive glass display units in fear of slipping and cracking my jaw into them.
I do know that last week when I bit into my oatmeal and a tiny chard of glass remained from the last broken dish, it all came rushing back to me. Maybe I should just stick to plastic.
"We’ve got crosses on our eyes Been walking into the walls again We’ve got crosses on our eyes Been walking into the furniture”
"Take Care" - Beach House (05:48) from Teen Dream (2010)
As a very sentimental and nostalgic person, I’m naturally drawn to the memories I’ve personally attached to certain songs. I’ve discovered that not everybody does this, despite my naive mindset that surely everyone must bury their deepest secrets and milestones within musical tracks. Hearing a song with an emotional commitment can have a strong reaction, particularly if it hits you when you least expect it.
Certain songs connect me to various places, time periods, moments, or experiences. Some songs, like this one, are connected to a very specific person, and a tiny minute fraction of time that somehow manage to transcend the ‘big picture.’ I’ve listened to this song on repeat, often a couple dozen times in a row, and wondered what it is about it that just rips my heart out every time. For me, it really represents the inability to have what my heart really wants/wanted, and the realization that sometimes we really do just have to give something up based on logistics, no matter how strong or intense every piece of your being wants to continue forth.
A small tiny fraction of my existence is magnified in a larger than life way every time I hear this song. it always tears me up, makes me question everything, reconsider my choices, and regret things that haven’t even happened yet. Is it worth it to put myself through such turmoil? I can’t help but listen, though. Perhaps because the only chard left of something that was momentarily magical is buried deep in the bars of this song. The hopefulness of a promising dream lies beneath, despite the unfortunate fact that the dream is nothing but a charade.
What is worth fighting for? When do we give up, and why? I guess for me, in this case it was about a two way street that I was walking alone. Even if the heart wants what the heart wants, sometimes the heart has to die a little bit. As a self-admitted romantic, I’ll just say that it damn well sucks. The heart should always get what it wants.
"Stand beside it, we can’t hide the way it makes us glow It’s no good unless it grows, feel this burning love of mine”
"Judas" - Lady Gaga (04:10) from Born This Way (2011)
Happy Easter, everyone. Whatever it means to you, that is. Personally, I’m not religious in any respect, and I see the holiday as more of an excuse to gorge on immeasurable amounts of Cadbury Mini Eggs, but to each their own, really. I did attend a Catholic elementary school back when, paid for by my grandparents as an opportunity to escape the underwhelming public education system in my small town. I will say that I enjoyed my time there. But I definitely found my niche pretty early in that school. I comfortably played to both ‘teacher’s pet’ (did I trade home-recorded cassette tapes of Celine Dion albums with the French teacher? Yep.) and ‘rebellious badass’ like the majority of my classmates. Don’t let the ‘Catholic school’ moniker fool you, we made the rounds: getting teachers fired, locking classroom doors over lunch break to avoid exams, breaking the heads off of religious statues (accidentally) and pasting the head back on using a Uhu Stic, stealing basically everything under the sun from the school’s art supply room. Oops. I guess it’s the general outcome when you are trying to force good nature and values upon a group of young people: they rebel in the worst ways possible. That said, I was one of only three students in my class who wasn’t Catholic, which meant on my weekends, I got to revert to regular life while the rest of my peers were being rounded off to Mass.
One of the most memorable experiences was a three-day stretch leading up to Easter weekend in Grade Five when my teacher forced us to watch the entirety of Ben-Hur in installments, replacing our regular Religion class. I probably got more out of that viewing than I did the entire rest of the year’s bible verse rehash-ery. The iconography in that film, and in Christianity in general, is very interesting to me. I’m naturally drawn to Christian art and ideals, though not actually a follower of the religion myself. But I think like anything, we can get something out of it, no matter what it is. Ben-Hur, to me, was a cinematic masterpiece that had everything. The fact that I can remember it so vividly fifteen years later without seeing it since must say something. I summed it up the other day as “leprosy and chariots”, but it really is so much more. Dealing with themes of betrayal, conviction and redemption, the story leads up to the crucifixion of Christ.
I like to take that story, like any other Bible Story (not to sound sacrilegious, but hey, this is my own version) as a parable. I see it as a story book, one that I am drawn to nostalgically, like old Disney movies or Grimm’s Fairy Tales. I fail to see how a man walked on water, or healed a child dying of pre-AIDS AIDS with his bare hand. But sure, I’m sure there was a guy who went around thinking he was the son of God, inspiring those around him. And sure, I’m not surprised he was killed for it, when people thought he was a nutjob, no matter how many people he likely helped along the way. It’s actually sad when you think of it in that way: a realistic, pared down version, scraped of any ‘magical’ fruition.
"Judas" as a song, is interesting in that it brings back old conventions and old story elements and throws them back into pop culture when Christianity is not really as dominant of a force socially as it once was. I think Lady Gaga is, in a roundabout way, way ahead of the game in re-introducing the modern public to these icons and concepts through a pop song. Nobody else is really doing it, but I’m sure they will be very soon, and we’ll all hate her for it. Ironically, back in 2008 when a really toxic ex-boyfriend ‘betrayed me three times’, I dedicated a full two-page spread in my sketch book to his evils via art and poetry, called "Personal Judas." How very Depeche Mode of me, indeed.
"I couldn’t love a man so purely Even darkness forgave his crooked way I’ve learned love is like a brick, you can Build a house or sink a dead body I’ll bring him down, bring him down, down A king with no crown, king with no crown.”
“Marijuana” - Kid Cudi (04:20) from Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager (2010)
Let me tell you about two things I never gave a damn about until a few years ago: pot and rap. As a young boy, my dad was always ripped out of his mind, and when he wasn’t, he was a very angry person. When he passed away, I was 16. The Coroner’s Report listed “heavy smoke intake” as one of the causes of death. Even though I lived in a small town and, subsequently, most of my friends were constantly ripped out of their minds, I would have none of it. I wasn’t only against it on a personal level, I felt the need to be holier than everyone who decided to partake. Let’s face it, I’m a lot less of a tight-wad than I used to be. In 2009, I tried pot for the first time and immediately went on to ‘host’ an ‘episode of MTV’s Cribs’ as ‘Chyna’, and immediately passed out. I try not to take myself so seriously.
As far as hip-hop, I was the type to really enjoy an easily digestible track (see Salt-N-Pepa, Skee-Lo, or anything else from the nineties and with a dash in it), but not legitimately interested in anything legitimately hip-hop. That said, I understand that Kid Cudi is a lot more accessible than a lot of his peers, but I’m fine with that. My co-worker recently described my taste as “art rap”: Kanye, Jay-Z, Nicki Minaj. I think this could also be taken as “gay rap.” Hmm maybe that means I’ll enjoy Lil B’s newest album.
This song is barely rap, true. But I just like it for some reason. It’s also hilarious that it clocks in at 4:20. For the record, I’ll never be one of those people who pays for drugs or smokes them on the regular. Keep it casual. Keep it free. Oh god… Whatever.
"They tell me all good things must end, well those muthafuckas ain’t have this friend."
"Guns and Horses" - Ellie Goulding (03:35) from Lights (2010)
I saw Ellie perform this track last week at Venue in Vancouver, and she knocked it out of the ballpark. Outfitted in a sparkled skeleton ribcage top, short-shorts and floral stockings, Ellie declared “I don’t know why I dressed like this tonight. I usually look much different,” and launched into a heart-shredding rendition of this song. After the set, she signed merchandise, and we talked about bad boyfriends, pink lipstick, and why breakup songs matter. Her whole album hits home to me, but this track in particular gave me chills in the live setting. I think that’s how you know a song has done its job.
"If I could erase the pain, maybe you’d feel the same. I’d do it all for you, I would, I would, I would, I would."