It's been a while. What can I say? Life's been busy. I've been slowly but surely climbing the ranks at work; and I still enjoy it as much as I used to. I've been dating a lovely lady for nearly seven months at this point with nary a squabble over something that doesn't involve listening to a Shins album from start to finish or running late to dinner. I've even been doing less damage to my liver via alcohol.
That being said? Here's some musical recommendations (read: brief reviews of albums I've been digging as of late). I've been listening to more new music as of late, thanks to that Spotify thing--and a growing disinterest in a few of the podcasts that have been stealing my time slowly but surely over the past year or so.
Direct Hit! - DOMESPLITTER
This band sounds like Dillinger Four and Andrew W.K. playing Plants Vs. Zombies together while listening to early Green Day. Their new record DOMESPLITTER should gets fists in the air and all sorts of "HEY! HEY! HEY!" chants going in a live setting. Check it out at the band's Bandcamp page.
Aficionado - Aficionado
Warning: The subsequent description won't do this album justice. Currently, this is a strong contender for Album of the Year. Guitars weave between a sharp crunch and noodly, the rhythm section is tight, and the male-female vocal duo keeps things interesting. And the lyrics seem to focus directly on honesty, sincerity, etc. in a way that points fingers as much at the band themselves as the audience. Others have beat me to the Cursive and Piebald comparisons, and these are definitely apt but I'd also put it out there that fans of Brand New, Manchester Orchestra, Say Anything, and/or Weatherbox would do well to look into these guys. I fuckin' love this record.
The Copyrights - North Sentinel Island
Telling you the Copyrights sound like early Green Day, Off With Their Heads, the Dopamines, Dear Landlord, Teenage Bottlerocket, etc. would be a fair assessment, but it would also do the band some injustice. They aren't quite as gritty as Off With Their Heads or Dear Landlord and they're far from the saccharin sweetness of Teenage Bottlerocket. They land squarely in the middle. And with North Sentinel Island, they manage to throw in plenty of big hooks coupled with slick production and interesting song structures to stand out from the pack.
Bomb the Music Industry! - Vacation
One look at the Vacation lyrics sheet will tell you that BTMI! mastermind, Jeff Rosenstock is happier. Maybe not happy, but happier. And that positive attitude permeates the album--music and lyrics. Subtle hints of Weezer, Beach Boys, and Elvis Costello abound. No ska. Just well orchestrated, punk rock influenced power-pop for those who would rather smirk when they feel good instead of smiling.
Every time I start to get ahead in the blog writing department something gets in the way. This time? Three weeks on the road, the start of a lovely new relationship, and more work than I can shake a stick at.
I have these lists. Things I want to do. Half-started projects that will most likely go unfinished. Ideas for podcast episodes. Introductory paragraphs to short stories. Reviews to be written, bands to recommend, and dream tour line-ups to piece together. I still have the imagination, I just don't have the time. I'm content, but I'm exhausted. I love what I do for a living, but it consumes me. I adore the new girl, but she takes up all sorts of time, and when we're in the car she always wants to listen to Cage the Elephant and Mumford & Sons.
Things are great. I just wish I had the piece of mind to tell everyone around me I need a few seconds for myself, to let my own "demons" out. To make a mix C.D. for myself, to write my own jokes, and tell my own stories. And get some sleep. I swear. It's been a solid two weeks since I've been able to get more than five hours of sleep at a time. I know, I know. Tough life? Hardly. I make my own decisions. But still...
Thank god for headphones and caffeine. I actually got some writing done tonight. Maybe I'll share it with you, eventually. In the meantime? You're stuck listening to a great pop band from the nineties covering Bruce Springsteen...
Now. Off to bed. And in the morning? I'll wash, rinse, repeat, and post Facebook statuses along the lines of this one: "When the world knocks you down, get up and answer the door. It may very well be opportunity knocking! And if you find sentences like these inspiring? You probably need better friends." Yup. You can make the kid happy, but you can't make him happy with everything around him.
Listen to the Smoking Popes. They rule. I promise.
"Your total is $125 for this stack right here, and these are the ones we can't take back. Pretty good, though. And by the way? That's a really great record collection you've got. I had a few flashbacks going through there. Good stuff!" Not verbatim, but close enough to what she said. And then she smiled. Brown eyes, brown hair tied back back in a pony tail, pretty face. Plaid top, three buttons unbuttoned, busty. And she smiled at me. While complimenting my record collection.
I smiled back. "Thanks! It pretty much breaks my heart to give up some of those. I mean, I own about half of that on vinyl now so they're just wasted space, but it's a sentimental thing for me. I'm kind of a dork when it comes to my record collection so uh, I hope they all find really great second homes!" That's what I meant to say. Instead? I stared awkwardly at the floor, and essentially blacked out while muttering something along the lines of "Thanks, yeah, totally." I walked out of the store with my roommate and made a few self-deprecating remarks to my roommate about the situation, obsessed about it for a few minutes, and moved on. I still have more music to go through and sell back, after all. Another day, another chance.
That happened last night. And don't think I'm trying to get off easy here: 2010 was the year I started to re-build myself. Dropping the sarcasm, upping the positivity, decreasing the drink. Was it a total success? Hardly. But somehow, I've managed to get back to being the awkward, silly kid I was before--only, y'know, an improved version of that.
The fact that I'm back to the "five-minute crush" is a positive sign. Trust me on that. It means I can start to fall asleep without her on my mind. 2011 is my year. I'm in position, ready to go.
Now, if only I had time to write up that year end list I didn't do last year and fully meant to do this year for 2010. Fuck.
The neighborhood is quiet and I can't sleep. I'm thinking too much. Again.
So I'm holed up in my bedroom, listening to music and sorting through my vinyl collection searching for duplicates between my plastic and wax. I'll be selling off a slew of compact discs tomorrow, I'm sure.
I remember being 16 years old and worrying that I'd outgrow the feelings that led me to punk rock in the first place. Perpetually feeling like an outsider, being heinously awkward around the opposite sex, questioning the world. Now I'm 26 and it's still the only thing that makes sense.
The only thing that's changed? I wish to hell it didn't. I don't really mean that. But you know what I mean...
Friend: How many times a day do you ask yourself: What the fuck? Me: Erm, uh...More than I'd like to admit? Friend: No. Seriously. Me: (Awkward silence) Friend: There's no way that's good for the soul. It must be exhausting. Lighten up, man. You're passionate, you give a shit, and that's why we all love you. But you need to take that energy and put it somewhere positive. Me: (Awkward silence and a smirk) Friend: I know, I know. I sound like a hippy douchebag. But hear me out here...
And it wasn't out of frustration, anger, or judgement. Just concern. That's the worst. I've always had a hard time accepting platonic concern. My brief, flighty relationships have tended to be my source for that sort of thing throughout my "adult" life. But now, finally free of that for the first time in a while -- I've started to let people in, letting their opinions matter.
Which is a good thing. But it's a hard pill for me to swallow when interventions go down. Having people give a shit is a good problem to have. I'm one lucky asshole. And I've earned it. I just need to admit that to myself. And start acting as positively as I think. It's one thing to want to change, it's another to understand where it's coming from. That's the real problem, right?
So. For Christmas? I'm getting myself a gym membership and a therapist. And maybe a personal trainer.
It's like that Fireworks' song ("Detroit") -- "Being too angry at the age of 16 turned your early twenties into one of those dreams where you can't find what you're looking for. Time to let myself find that. Given recent conversation, I think "lightening up" is what I need to do for myself after all...
2AM is the new 1AM. I used to blame her for keeping me awake at night. Jokingly, of course. But there was some truth to that. When that was going down, though, at least there were some benefits. The late-night talks, the moral support, and the "I hope things get better" vibe that seemed sincere. The kind of sincerity that's hard to find. The kind of sincerity that's hard to replace. She gave a shit.
Why? Fucked if I know. I don't understand it, and I never did. But that's probably why I did what I did when I did it. Not that I did anything wrong. Not inherently, anyway. I made a mistake. An honest one. And now, here I am. Wide awake when I should be sleeping, listening to melancholy acoustic songs from a few of my favorite singers. It's inspiring, really. But it's temporary. And as comforting as the voices of Brian Fallon, Dave Hause, and Frank Turner may be? "The Boxer" isn't a replacement for a human connection gone sour. However beautiful it may be in it's acoustic form. And "I Still Believe" sounds far less convincing when you want to curl up into a ball.
My apartment is freezing. And the person I would typically turn to when I can't sleep wants nothing to do with me. I want to apologize, I want to make it right. But how does one do that when you don't really believe you did anything wrong? She was immature, she reacted irrationally. She yelled, she cursed, she said "Fuck you." I remained calm, cool, and collective. And proceeded to break things things off with the girl who caused the whole shit-storm from the start. Why? She wasn't worth the effort. Go figure.
Which begs the question: Is anybody really worth the effort to me? Probably not. Not until I can fix myself. That's the problem. Maybe that's how I can apologize to her. Fixing myself and moving on appropriately.
...I just wish I could put this all on pause. It would be nice to enjoy all of the great things I've got going on. Christmas specials, my father's birthday dinner, raspberry tea, a new apartment on the 15th, a massive record collection, the ability to purchase a new iMac in a few months, potential for a raise, the first snow that just started outside my window...
Okay. Maybe things on the outside aren't so bad. The inside is fucked, but hey--we all need to start somewhere. But starting gets old when you've been doing it for 26 years.
"Just tap your feet along with your heartbeat. And don't say a word to anyone, anyone. The television is waiting to save you. It would be nice to have a conversation. Just tap your feet to your heartbeat."
I can't wait to sing along tomorrow night. If I skip out on that Fake Problems show because of work, anybody reading this has my full permission to digitally wallop me in the face. I've earned a bit of positivity, if I don't say so myself.
The food's been digested, I've long since sobered up, and I've spent the past 112 minutes watching Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World with my parents. And while they both seemed to enjoy it, it was apparent that it hit us in different ways. They were entertained, I was moved the same way I was the first time I saw it. It makes me want to fall in love, it makes me want to feel, and it makes me want to fight. Y'know, that good kind of fighting. Fighting for what you believe in, fighting to make yourself a better person. And all that good stuff.
This is my first time coming home for the holidays. And it was a good one. I spent the day with family, drinking and eating, conversing, cracking jokes. And now? My brothers are out on the town, visiting with friends from high school, drinking heavily. And I'm sitting alone in my childhood bedroom, now a "guest" room. I have no desire to be in this town, no desire to reconnect with people I never connected with in the first place.
But I do love my family. And since that movie put me into a funk? I'm hiding in my bedroom listening to Say Anything. This will be followed by the Wonder Years. And probably some Jawbreaker. Oh, and Piebald. The Lawrence Arms? I don't know. The last time I was living in this bedroom I was sad, I was depressed, and I was trying to make things better.
Well. I'm not sad anymore. Just discontent. One step at a time, right? "Love. I shall not love. But I'll still sing about it." Or write about it. Whatever. Tomorrow's another day. Two more, then I'll be back home in Boston, preparing for yet another move, a new neighborhood. I can't wait. But every time I move, I have myself convinced that it's going to change me. I have to change myself.
And I can do that. Thanks to them, I have the ability. I have the strength. I always have.
I would like two, please. Is it sad that ZooBorns is one of the few things that can really make me smile, these days?
When I'm not working, I'm hunting for apartments. This isn't exactly what I had in mind when Mr. Ambition reared his head and decided it was time to set my head straight. The uncertainty is making me wince, the lack of sleep is making work difficult, and I can't stop watching "Buffy: The Vampire Slayer."
Life is stressful. But it could be worse. I could be Xander and Cordelia in season three. Homeboy fucked up. Also?
This album has been keeping me sane throughout the work week. Pick it up if you're into that whole "mid-tempo, rough around the edges punk rock from Canada" vibe. Specifically, I'd say it's for fans of: Jawbreaker, the Lawrence Arms, Smoke Or Fire, the Menzingers, Hot Water Music, et cetra.
Lots to say, lots to think, lots to sort through. And I've finally decided that all the podcasts, vinyl records, late-night conversations with friends, sex, running, caffeine, auto-biographies written by comedians, push-ups, essays, alcohol, and blog entries in the world are going to help.
I'm tired of the anxiety, the fear, and a seeming inability to move on with things. And I'm not just talking relationships. Life. Work. Friends. The past. I've always been resentful of change. Not because I "just don't like it," but because the future scares me.
Here's what I'm hoping to "get over" and "go for." And a few things I need to learn. In no particular order:
- Not having her available all day, every day to talk to. I need to learn to be alone with my own thoughts. Three years have passed since you met. People interact differently, you're 26 -- not 23.
- No more retail therapy. I don't need every single pressing of every single Gaslight Anthem release. It's simply unnecessary. And realistically, won't be fulfilling.
- Running will always be helpful, but it's a temporary solution and involves no actual human interactions.
- Working 12-hours every day for an entire work week is going to crush me. Physically and emotionally.
- Coffee after 6pm is a terrible idea.
- Dinner after 10pm is an equally terrible idea.
- Nobody is going to look at you like an idiot if you ask questions about grad school applications
- The "fuck 'em" attitude toward people who don't quite get your sense of humor just won't cut it. Lighten up, asshole.
- Much like running, writing is cathartic and helpful. But it's a temporary solution.
- Sex. See "running" and "writing."
- Stop comparing new people to old friends and ex-girlfriends. You can't replace them, but you can try to top them. Again: You're 26. You aren't 16, you aren't 18, you aren't 21, and you aren't 23. You're 26. And halfway to 27.
You only have so much time. Smarten the fuck up and take a look at what you have on your plate. That's too much to wade through alone.
Instead of typing up a review of the awesomeness that I experienced this weekend, I'm cleaning house. I burned a bridge two weeks back. Fully. And as such, it's time to box a few things up and start to move on. I can't look at the little things anymore. It was one thing when I was still holding on for hope, and another thing completely when we were "just friends."
But now that things are done for good? I should probably trash them. But that period of my life was way too important to end up in the trash. It was also more important to end things the way I did. But I was ready to push ahead with something new. Roles were reversed and she was the one holding onto the old.
Do I blame her? Not for holding on. But for holding back. And letting it all out when push came to shove led us both to say some regrettable things. I was dating somebody, I decided it was time to let her know. I had no idea her reaction would be so negative.
And now? That's ending. And I've lost a friend. There's a huge gap. But I was able to ignore it until tonight. Life was busy. Working 12-hour days, spending the weekend in 80-degree weather surrounded by music at all waking hours...Now I'm alone in my apartment, packing things up, dusting, and feeling the hole that should have been there all along.
This is it. Moving on. For real. Fuck, I'm redundant. But whatever. Most are lucky to go through "real" heartbreak early on. It's taken me a solid year and a half to get over my first "real" relationship. Three years. Late 22 to mid-26. I never said "I love you," but I did at one point. She was my best friend, a confidant, and one of my biggest believers.
But over the past year or so, it's been impossible for me to commit to another person fully. Even though I wanted to. I was concerned for her feelings, didn't want to lose the friendship. Classic mistake. Eventually, though, things came to a head and I was forced to face the facts. And her reaction was immature, yet expected. And my reaction to her reaction was stubborn. But it was levelheaded and honest.
I never lied to her. And I never would. People get hurt, people heal, and I'm sitting here crying. Not because I lost her, not because the relationship ended, but because there's a huge blank spot in my life that needs to be filled.
And because that was one chapter I never wanted to end. But now that it has? Maybe she can fall in love with somebody else. And maybe I can do the same. We both deserve it. It's hard to do that with the elephant sitting at the dinner table.
So, to anyone whose ever had to let something go? Do what's best. If it's right for you, you owe it to them to talk it out. They might not like it. And you might lose a friend. But everyone deserves to move on. Give them that chance. And just sit and wait, hoping that they cared enough in the first place to let you in again when they're ready.
I really hope she finds happiness. Lord knows she wasn't finding it with me hanging around. And it wasn't because I made her sad, but because we were both holding onto each other for dear life without really moving forward with our own, separate lives.
I meant for this to have more continuity and structure. Fuck it. "Post Blog Entry." Enough with the false starts.
There's a tropical storm on the way. I've begun collecting little tid-bits of writing over the past week. Material. I should throw something together. The anxiety was killing me today, I was all sorts of snarky with some people and downright harsh with others.
Why? I wrote it all out. But then I realized it sounded embarrassingly angst-ridden and made far more sense in my head. Summation? Being fully employed is a lovely, lucky thing to have. It pays the bills, it stimulates my brain, and it provides me with the occasional open bar event.
But it's not my life. It consumes a solid portion of it at five days/week, roughly 8-10 hours per day. But it's not my life. What is my life? Drinking at home, scribbling down notes in a notebook when a marginally funny thought crosses my mind, pounding the pavement until my legs feel weak, mail-ordered records, podcasts, and a slew of books to be read.
While it's nice to have all of this at my disposal? It would be nice to not drink alone, to have the balls to hit an open mic night with that one awkward story about the first time a girl touched my penis, to have a friend curious enough about music to spin a mix I make for him/her, and so on and so forth.
The running can stay. That's the one thing I feel as though I'm doing right. It's the one area the anxiety--and the real world, really--can't ever touch. And that's why I love to run.
It's mine. And nobody else's. I have full control. But that's an isolated thing. I'm a lone wolf, always have been. But fuck it. This wolf needs a haircut.
Wait, sorry. That's a Tracy Morgan line from SNL...You know what I meant to say. I really should edit this. What up, stream o' consciousness?
The inspiration I last wrote about? It's still here. But it's currently being stifled by the life around me. Things aren't bad, things are simply blah. Financial stress, long days at the office, "the ex" announcing a presumably "triumphant" return to Boston, awkward social situations, my sorry ass getting mugged on Sunday. The list goes on.
Nothing earth-shattering, nothing awful. But still: It's an uphill battle against the boredom. My weapons? Music and booze. It would be nice to have a tag-team match every now and again, y'know? Kinda like Sonic The Hedgehog 2. You be Tails, I'll be Sonic.
When the highlight of your day is a satellite radio, that's probably not a good sign.
This was a bummer. Sue me. I'm in a mood. Tomorrow will be better. I think I'm just tired. But who knows.
Inspired. Ready to fall in love again. That's how I feel right now. The real trick is capturing the way one feels after a live show from an artist who moves you with their voice, their guitar. And not just their words.
If anyone knows how to bottle that, please be so kind as to let me know. I'd be pretty grateful. In the mean time? Back to spinning those records ad nauseum in an effort to push this life forward.
I've been thinking over it
I think too much
It hinders my spirit
When there's never enough
Shell-game sleight of hand
To wish for something more
Honest husbands, cheating wives
Generous buyers, greedy stores
"I'll get through it, I'll get through it"
I'll say it ten times over: "I'll get through it, I'll get through it"
"I'm better than this"
That's what anchors me (I mean it weighs me down)
Can't give thanks to fear, can't say no to crowds
Guess I'll just play dumb (shouldn't be too hard)
Peaceful people, violent guns
Sober drivers, drunken cars
I'm better than nothing and nothing is better than this
I wound up writing quite a bit last night. Nothing major, really. A few notes on a short story I'll probably never finish, a proofreading of that Warped Tour write-up I keep talking about. Why am I so self-conscious about my work? I really need to learn how to let things go. Until you do that, they're just ideas, really. You can write and re-write and so on and so forth. But until you put it out there? It's not a finished product.
Perfection won't ever be found. Especially when it comes to writing.
Anyway. Tonight wasn't anywhere near as productive. I meant to get things done, I really did. But then? I wound up dicking around in the punk thread and listening to Stephen Lynch and Off With Their Heads instead. Ah well. The weekend starts tomorrow. I'll be spending it in dingy rock clubs checking out stand-up comedy.
Taking vacation has always been difficult for me. Not so much the physical act of taking time off from work, but the act of relaxing never ceases to be tricky. I have the week off from work and felt it necessary to fill up my days completely. Granted, these days are filled with two stop of the Van's Warped Tour, a date with some broad, a few days spent over Martha's Vineyard, Aziz Ansari...
Bottom line? I have a hard time standing still. I don't mind it. It's the motives that worry me, though. Standing still means thinking. Perpetual movement means ignoring reality. But hey. I've earned it, right?
When the week's over, there's going to be plenty of time to think about what I'm missing. An extra week off after this one to collect my thoughts and work on my personal life would be nice but...In the mean time? I have notes to jot down about Sunday's Warped Tour stop and a few hours of sleep to catch before jetting down to the southern part of Massachusetts for round two.
Hopefully I can catch the Bouncing Souls again. It's been a while since I've smiled that wide as I did when I sang a line or two from "True Believers" into Greg's microphone while Matt Skiba air-drummed on-stage. There were a few tears of happiness.
Who says Warped Tour is for the young? Shit. This was more haphazard than anticipated. When next I wrote, I'll hopefully have my thoughts collected enough to write about the show in detail.