My Thoughts Are Pollution

Coming-of-age ramblings that don't mean much in the long run

Category: Memories

Mostly Moving On

So, it’s not the most awesome thing in the world to have to say this, but it’s probably been pretty obvious over the last year or so.

I don’t have any passion for this blog anymore.

It’s not that I’ve lost my passion for writing, I just don’t get a whole lot out of telling these anecdotes about my life or venting these days. I have plenty I could vent about; I’m pretty unhappy with, like, politics right now, and I’m kind of in a situation where I am surrounded by people who feel the opposite. I’ve also been overwhelmed by my studies, even though that’s not really a concern at this exact moment. I’ve had numerous awkward social situations that I could describe in excruciating detail.

I just… I don’t really want to. I’m channeling my experiences into my music. I’m holding on to them to continue developing my perspective, hoping to maybe enlighten someone someday. I’m dealing with life as it comes at me, instead of waiting until after it hits me to try to deal with it.

I don’t really need this blog right now. And who knows; maybe someday that will change. Maybe I’ll need a safe space to vent and complain and worry and act superior. Not that that’s… like… exclusively what this blog was, but it’s hard to look back at things that my younger self did -and this applies to everything in my life- without a little shame. I’ve changed so wildly every few months of my life, it feels like. It’s hard to own some of this stuff.

And I am proud of some of the work I’ve done on this blog. I’ve written about mental health, posted plenty of songs of varying quality, and occasionally even moved people. I’m just ready to move on. I’m ready to move on to a different kind of writing.

You see, I started a new blog a couple of months ago, this one with an entirely different purpose from this one. I’m using it as a platform to express my thoughts on games, movies, television, books, music, and whatever other media I happen to interact with. It’s a different approach to writing that requires some amount of actual thought to be put into it before I just vomit words onto a page. And my writing style is the same, generally. I write like this. I just have to organize my thoughts a little bit better over there for anything I post to be readable. It’s fun. It engages me in a way that this stuff hadn’t been for a while.

So yeah. I’m moving on. Feel free to check out my writing at my new, similarly-named home. And I might pop over here from time to time, if I have a new song to share or something. So yeah. Still writing. Just… I’ve got a new focus for the time being.

Anyways. Thanks a ton for all the time you’ve given to me over the years. Those of you who did make the effort to comment, I really appreciate you. You made me feel like my writing was worth the effort, and kept me doing it. And that’s important to me.

Check out Noise Pollution’s new entertainment blog, Thought Pollution, right here.

Baggage

I think I love you so

Let’s go
Let’s go anywhere but here
Can you drive?
I won’t bring anything this time
No baggage
And no pills for peace of mind
And we won’t
Get high
Get high
Get high
For once in my
Short life
Too long
Get high
I just have to get away sometimes

On Empathy (A Story of Unrequited Love)

 

adore this song. To me, it is near-perfect; it is exactly what I wish I could write. When trying to figure out why I love the song so much, I thought that maybe it’s because it’s a song that begets empathy. It takes a situation that we are all familiar with, at least on a surface level, and expresses a perspective on that situation in a clear, clean way. It’s a song about unrequited love. Well, it’s actually a bit more specific than that. It’s a song about a very specific type of unrequited love. It’s about the type of relationship where one party only returns any affection shown when it’s convenient for them.

It’s about two people being very selfish.

Normally this type of situation is presented as very one-sided. It’s presented as a shitty guy pining after a woman who doesn’t want to get involved with him romantically. Usually it is that. It is, in fact, quite shitty to force your romantic advances onto someone who doesn’t want it. Don’t do it.

Where that narrative rubs me the wrong way, however, is when that’s where the story ends. “That guy was a dick.” Boom. Cut it, print it, send it out to the presses. But, you know, was that guy once, years ago. Do I regret my behavior? Absolutely. But I don’t just regret my behavior because I was an asshole (which I was;) I regret it because I got hurt, too.

There are, in fact, delicate ways in which to handle this situation. Or, maybe delicate isn’t the right word. Attempting to be delicate is what ends up causing pain in the end. What I mean to say is that there is a way to handle this situation where casualties of the heart can be minimized. Be honest. Tell the person no, period. Don’t be wishy-washy. Don’t tell them it’s because you’re seeing somebody else, don’t tell them it’s because you don’t feel like being in a relationship right now. Tell them, straight-out, that you are not interested in them, and you never will be. If the problem persists after that, then it’s out of your hands. “That guy was a dick” is the narrative and you’re absolutely justified in ending that story there.

It’s just… That’s not how it happened. That’s not what happened to me. I became “Best Friend” material. Cool. I like being close to people! And clearly I liked her, or else I wouldn’t have had these confusing romantic feelings for her! So being “Best Friends” is cool! I get to be close to someone who I think is cool!

I was not “Best Friend” material when she had a boyfriend. I may as well have not been in her life. But as soon as she broke up with someone, we were really close again.

Do you know what kind of message that sends to a person? A really,really conflicting one! Top that off with the fact that rather than tell me she wasn’t interested in me, she told me she had a crush on me at one point but I just asked her too late; I asked her after she had fallen for someone else. The information I had to go on was A: She’d want to date me if she wasn’t in another relationship and B: When she’s not in a relationship, we get really, really close.

I felt like shit, all of the time throughout this. Throughout this, I bahaved rather shittilly as well. When I found myself some other girl, I cut off ties with her. Not actively, I just, you know, didn’t go out of my way to talk to her. I felt pretty justified, but me being shitty back to her was not really the right thing to do. We also got in some pretty bad fights about… about stuff, and I said some venomous things. Things you can’t take back. There was poison in my words, and I fully meant to infect her with negativity. I was not fighting to win, I was fighting so she would lose.

Some bad shit happened! I was pretty terrible. But I do remember the way that it felt to be on my end of that situation, and it was an unfathomably terrible feeling. Every day, waking up was a nightmare. I was watching someone who I thought I loved treat her relationship with me so flippantly; it was excruciating. I was obsessing over what was wrong with her; what was wrong with me. There was nothing else. It consumed me. And yes, the mature thing to do would have been to put it behind me, and eventually I did. But back then? I was fifteen. I didn’t know anything else. This was the only thing at the time. This was my reality.

My reality was that the one person I really, truly cared about saw me as an afterthought. And then… whenever it was convenient for her, I was the center of her universe. Then I’d become an afterthought again.

Break your neck
and I will love you
like a bird that cannot fly.
You will be fine.
She said,
Break your neck
and I will love you
every night.
You will be mine.

Jim Bogart is song that tells people how I felt at that time. I was in a situation where I was the bad guy. But… I wasn’t being the bad guy because I wanted to be. I was awful because I was hurting, and there was a person doing the hurting. There was a person telling me that if I was just a little better, if I just cared a little more… There was someone telling me to break my neck for them. They were telling me that I had to earn their affection, and I had to earn it through pain. And there wasn’t a light at the end of that tunnel. No matter how broken I was, no matter how many promises I kept, what I gave was never returned. And, in retrospect, I had no right to expect that from her. She had no responsibility to give it to me. If she didn’t feel that way about me, there was no changing that. But I felt like there was a carrot being dangled in front of me.

I was being used. She allowed me to think that a romance between us was possible because my affection was an injection of heroin for her ego. She was wanted it both ways. She wanted me shower her with all the praises of a fresh romance, and didn’t want to do any of the things that would normally entitle a person to that kind of treatment. I’d say that putting her on a pedestal was a shitty thing to do, but in this particular case, she revelled in it. I wish she had told me to stop. I wish she had told me there was no hope for us. I wish I had a reason to hit the brakes before crashing the car. I wish that I had an opportunity to step away from the situation before become attached to it.

One of the things that makes us human is empathy. In fact, I’d say it is the number one thing that separates us from animals, more so than intelligence, more so than being bipedal, more so than having thumbs, or any of that other shit. I’m a pretty firm atheist, so the way that I define my personal moral code is not through a set of arbitrary rules written thousands of years ago. I define it by examining how my actions would make another person feel. Empathy is the thing that holds society together, more than anything else, in my opinion. And I want people to examine every scenario with that in mind. I think the world would be a better place if we took moments out of our day to stop and consider other perspectives.

Fumbling My Way Through Life Episode 4

Lately I’ve been watching a lot of music videos and covers on Youtube.

Everybody is too perfect.

Watching the ease at which talented musicians perform is not inspiring for someone like me; it’s disheartening. When I see the way their fingers move along a fretboard… It looks so natural; it looks like they belong there. When I put my hands on my guitar, it is a struggle to hit every single note. And I’m not an amature as far as time spent playing goes, not by any stretch of the imagination. Nor am I lacking in the practice department. When I initially started playing, I would go until my fingers bled and then some. My band and I would spend countless hours playing in dire heat or numbing cold, fall-down drunk or stone-cold sober. I still play every single day.

But it doesn’t feel as natural to me as it looks when I see other people play. When I watch other people play, I see a wall that cannot be climbed. These people look like they were born to play the guitar. I look like I’m about to break a goddamn sweat just from thinking too hard.

There’s such a magnificent difference in the way we play that I feel as though I’m doing something fundamentally wrong. I feel like I’m looking at the instrument the wrong way; holding it upside-down or something. Like there’s some mistake I’m making that could be easily corrected were I not mostly self-taught. But I know that’s not it. Maybe I just wasn’t cut out for this. Maybe I learned how to play the guitar against all fucking odds, whe  genetics keep trying to tell me know

I guess I can just tell that it’s always going to be a struggle for me. I’m never going to be able to play a song without thinking. I’m always going to be worried about that next note, and unsure as to whether or not I’m even going to successfully hit it. But I love playing. I love singing. I love writing music. I won’t ever put this instrument down, no matter how insignificant everyone else on earth makes me feel. Because they do do that. They do make me feel small and worthless. Perhaps not intentionally. Maybe they aren’t trying to show off. Maybe they aren’t trying to taunt me; maybe they aren’t laughing at me from that ledge I will never be able to climb. It’s so hard not to see it that way. And it’s so hard not to be spiteful. But I love the music, and I love it enough to take the unintended insults and accept the feeling of inferiority for the rest of my life. It’s just not something I’m willing to lose.

I Am Enthralled By This Sort Of Thing

It’s odd that in spite of my current state of sobriety, I find recreational drugs to be such an absolutely fascinating topic. From the scientific aspect of them, such as how the drugs actually interact with your brain, to the cultural aspect of them, like a good drug story, everything about them is just so goddamn interesting.

Perhaps due to my past abuse of it, one of the drugs I am most intrigued by is found in cough syrup.

(Please excuse these disclaimers, but they’re really important. If you have no intention of ever attempting to use recreational drugs, then feel free to skip them. Otherwise, please, please, please give them a read before moving on the the rest of my write-up.)

[Disclaimer: Legally, I need to tell you not to abuse this stuff. Also, as a friend, I need to tell you not to abuse this stuff. It’s really bad for your body, and the only reason I ever enjoyed using it so much is because of the fucked-up place I was mentally when I was using it. Don’t do it, it’s not even an enjoyable experience for most people. Seriously, most people I did it with fucking hated the experience. Don’t do it.]

[And holy shit, by the way: UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD YOU EVER ABUSE THIS DRUG WHILE TAKING ANTIDEPRESSANTS. Taking too much over the recommended dose of  any product containing the drug I mention in this write-up WILL ABSOLUTELY KILL YOU. EVERY TIME. IT IS A FATAL COMBINATION. SSRI‘s and DXM are lethal when taken together. Every fucking time. I cannot stress this enough. And if you aren’t sure if what you take is an SSRI, don’t risk it. This is lethal, and the death is slow and painful. Again, COMBINING ANTIDEPRESSANTS, EVEN IF YOU’VE BEEN OFF OF THEM FOR A FEW DAYS, EVEN WEEKS, IS FATAL WHEN COMBINED WITH RECREATIONAL DOSES OF COUGH MEDICINE.]

[Third disclaimer: If the fact that I had to write up three fucking disclaimers of progressively longer and longer length about the use of this drug isn’t enough to persuade you not to attempt to use it, I don’t know what is. But if you aren’t going to be reasonable, than at least heed this last warning. DO NOT TAKE RECREATIONAL DOSES OF MEDICINES THAT CONTAIN ACETAMINOPHEN. That one in particular is important, as the drugs that contain both the “fun” drug and acetaminophen together will always kill you when taken in a high enough dose to get high. And an acetaminophen overdose is not pleasant. It involves bleeding from your fucking eyes. You should always read the other ingredients in your medicines, study them, and make sure you’re not going to die. Seriously, if you insist on trying this drug, do your research and do it thoroughly because this is an extremely dangerous drug to abuse, if you’re stupid about it. If you’re smart it’s actually… relatively safe, as long as you don’t leave the house.]

Okay. Here’s what I actually came here to say.

Did you know that the way that most cough medicine prevents you from coughing is by blocking certain messages from going from one place in your brain to the other? The natural impulse to cough is stopped because the part of your brain that says, “Hey, something’s up with my throat,” never gets a chance to talk to the part of the brain that says, “Hey, if something’s up with my throat, just let me know and I’ll try to violently solve that problem.” The specific drug that does this is called dextromethorphan, and it’s in a lot of over-the-counter medicines.

The thing is, at low doses, it keeps your brain from knowing it needs to cough. That’s fine. At much higher doses, a number of different parts of the brain fail to communicate with each other, and this leads to some pretty… drastic effects. At a higher dose than you would ever take for a cough, but still a relatively low dose (which for the sake of the scale I’m going to use, will just be called a low dose from this point on) the effect is similar to mild drunkenness.

Bo-ring.

That state of mild drunkenness was the point at which most people found the drug fun to use. Anything past that was a no go for a lot of them, but for my closest friends and I, that wasn’t enough. We were already way past thinking mild drunkenness was fun. We were taking pills in volumes that would normally kill people, and half the time we weren’t even aware of what they were. Someone would just come by with some prescription they got, sell it to us, and we’d be like, “We can probably take, like, eight of these each, right?” and would proceed to get fucked up. We weren’t at heroin levels of desperation, but we were all at least pretty close to the point where we wouldn’t have turned it down if someone offered.

The low-medium dose of the drug was my personal sweet spot, though I didn’t mind edging into the medium dose on most occasions, and did indulge in a high dose a few times. The difference between a low-medium dose and a low dose was pretty huge in terms of effect, though. You see, the hallucinatory/dissociative effects of dextromethorphan (or DXM for short) are often described as having certain “plateaus”. There are generally considered to be four plateaus to the high, though I’ve read tales of a fifth that seems incredibly difficult to achieve without dying and sounds altogether unpleasant. But anyway, they’re referred to as such because while taking more of the drug does gradually increase the effects, there are certain thresholds where the effect of the drug takes kind of a different shape.

Let me break it down for you in a non-illegal way. We’re going to use a twenty-point scale so that I don’t have to actually tell you the dosages we would use, so that you don’t use them yourselves. [Responsible, that’s what I am.] Keep in mind that this is not actually 100% to scale, so don’t try to convert these vague numbers into milligrams; that won’t work. Say that one or two points is what you take when you have  a cough. two is a bit excessive for that, but if it’s Nyquil and you really need to sleep or you’re just a bigger person, it’s fine. No one’s judging you. Three is still not really getting anywhere. It’s like taking four or five Tylenol. Maybe not a good idea for your liver, but it’s not like you’re going to feel any adverse effects from it. Around four you feel something, but you’re still, like, good to drive. No one will notice a difference in your behavior but you, and even then, it’s not significant. Five is about where it’s at. Five matters. You shouldn’t drive. It’s not crazy, but you’re somewhere. I’d say once you get up to six, that’s when you’re really there. You feel a switch flip somewhere in your head; you are pretty plastered. That’s the first plateau. Everything before that affected you, sure, but you would have gone to bed that night thinking that the drug was weak shit.

So, the next time you take it, you think, “That was badass, I’d like to get that way, but, you know, more!” You go to seven, eight. Basically the same thing. Slightly more intense, but it really didn’t change things that much. The next time you do this, you try to hit the number nine, not thinking much of it. You notice something different about this one, but you aren’t quite sure what to make of it. It was a lot harder to move, and you found yourself confused more often than not. Time passes slowly. Weird, right? You’re still basically just drunk, but you feel as though you’re on the precipice of something else. So the next time, out of curiosity, you try to hit ten. Everything is fucking different this time. You definitely don’t feel drunk. This is something entirely new.

We’ll continue our point-scale breakdown a little later. I just wanted to show how the plateau thing worked. You can take more than you did the time previous, but unless you hit a certain threshold, it’s generally going to be the same experience. Until you take a certain amount, the drunkenness of the first plateau is never going to hit you. And until you take a certain amount more than that, the drunkenness is all you’ll get.

That low-medium does I said I preferred earlier? That’s the point when you hit the second plateau. I was so bored of the drunkenness. I would indulge occasionally, but ultimately, I was in this for something more. And holy fuck, did I find it. At the low end of a medium dose, your vision becomes… different. It becomes hard to process what exactly it is you’re seeing. Navigating through menus on a television becomes nearly impossible, because reading becomes nearly impossible. Words look like they’re written in other languages; you see all the letters, but you don’t know what they mean all mashed together. Lights leave behind long traces when you move your eyes. It becomes very difficult to walk. It’s actually impossible to walk normally. You tend to take large strides, and your torso dips and sways around as though it were a ball-in-socket joint. We came to refer to this phenomenon as “spiderwalking”, as the long strides (which would often come with steps taken on all fours) reminded us of the long legs of a spider. Your body has an urge to stretch and contort in weird ways. It’s not uncommon to find yourself sitting in positions that look like if yoga was invented by crack addict. I tend to weave my arms through my legs, or wrap them backwards around my head, or both. Logic breaks down. Once you hit the second plateau, you can’t follow the plot of a movie. Your conversations with your friends become limited, though that doesn’t take away from the feeling of comradery that comes with being in this state together.  Your imagination runs wild; you can live out entire stories inside of your head. When you close your eyes, you hallucinate. My friends and I found that sticking our heads into dark places, like a closet or a laundry basket, causes extremely intense effects. It feels like staring into infinity. Music means more than it ever did. Time goes on forever. What is already a long trip (about twelve to fourteen hours) feels about three times as long due to the effects of the drug.

This might be a good place to mention the vomiting. Oh god. This is where the rubber hits the road; this is what separates the men from the boys. This is why people fucking hate using this drug. But my closest friends and, we had no fucks to give about this. Even though it was truly horrible. The DXM vomiting could easily fall into the top ten most terrifying moments of my life and I did it repeatedly. I’m not sure if it happens to everybody, but the pills we took when we first started abusing DXM contained another substance in them, a substance that caused vomiting it high doses. High doses in this case meaning, like, one pill more than the recommended dose. We were a millennia past that, so you can imagine the horrors that followed. Because of that initial experience, our bodies kind of have an almost Pavlovian response to taking cough medicine. We puke even if it doesn’t have the other substance in it. So these horrific fits of nightmare puke happened frequently, even after our switch to a better pill. If it was just puking, well… that wouldn’t be so bad. But it was violent. My stomach was rejecting the substance with everything it had. It was ready to kill me if that’s what it took. Looking into the toilet bowl while having the DXM vomits was like looking into the eyes of death. Every time, I thought, “This is it; this is the time I overdose. I’m about to die. There’s no way I could possibly be experiencing anything this painful and horrifying if I wasn’t going to die from it.” It was truly a nightmare. And it didn’t ever just happen once. It would happen once, about ten or twenty minutes before it really kicked in. The  it would happen over and fucking over at various points in the night. And it’s so much more terrifying when you’re so high that you can’t even remember your own name.

Oh, and once you hit the second plateau, you can’t sleep. It’s just not going to happen. You’ll be lucky if it happens the next night eve, because the hangover can last about three days, and no matter how fucking tired you are, it keeps you awake.

A medium dose was just a more extreme version of the low-medium dose. It was harder to move at all, and harder to keep your eyes open. The reason I prefer the low-medium dose to the regular one is because the regular-medium dose is a much more solitary experience than the low-medium one. The world going on around you matters a whole lot less, and it can be hard to communicate, and even if it weren’t difficult, it still feels mentally taxing to do so, and once my friends or I hit that point, we’d often forego speech altogether and attempt to communicate solely through body language, which isn’t very effective when your vision is fucked up.

The medium-high dose takes you over the edge of the third plateau. This is an altogether different experience. DXM, being a dissociative, takes a large facet of your personality from you at this point. You feel very distant from yourself; it is as though your body is just a shell and you are controlling it from elsewhere. I couldn’t connect faces to names or memories. There was no past or future, there was only the right then, and even then, it felt as though the right then was barely there at all. Full-blown hallucinations that are difficult to distinguish from reality happen at this point. Talking is almost impossible. Walking can be done with assistance from a less-afflicted friend. Keep a bucket nearby. You won’t be able to get to the bathroom if the vomit comes knocking. This is a very contemplative high, and is no longer “fun”. When you hit the third plateau, it’s because you’re doing some hippie shit and want to explore your own consciousness. Or… you know, you’re doing it as a form of escapism. Like I was. Nothing felt more like an escape from reality than this, an actual, literal escape from reality. I did it pretty frequently, though not as frequently as my second plateau experience. This was also a very solitary trip, and I really enjoyed using drugs as a means to connect to my friends.

The high dose is the fourth plateau. I’ve never been there. I came fairly close once, and I shit my pants and “slept” outside on the grass near an office building that night, occasionally popping my head up to scream in terror at nothing. The fourth plateau is not an easy thing to deal with, and even coming close was kind of too much for me. My friend may or may not have been there. I’m not sure. I know that the effects of this stage involve not being to move at all, and not opening your eyes. To anyone watching, you look dead. You are full-blown hallucinating the entire time. Many people who have experienced this claim to have seen God, or aliens. It seems that this plateau has a tendency to make one believe that they’ve connected to higher plane of existence. I know that’s all bullshit, and that it’s all inside their heads and that it’s all a bunch of druggie nonsense, but it still sounds pretty crazy and intense.

My friend might have hit it. I don’t know. We carved things into each other’s backs that night. It was kind of a “becoming blood brothers” sort of thing, though we never actually mixed our blood with each others’. We were actually fairly sober during the carving. We had a bunch of medical supplies that a friend had stolen, along with a pack of clean, never-been-used X-Acto knives. We were smart about our stupidity, like we always were after we started taking DXM. (We started doing research on pills before taking them after we got hooked on this drug. Maybe DXM saved our lives. Funny, that.)

I remember hearing the sound of the blade cutting through my skin seconds before actually feeling it. I have a pretty noticeable scar now, though that was kind of the point of this whole operation. I’m not ashamed of that one. I’m proud. It still does symbolize my friendship with those guys. And I’m still friends with all but one of them. They’re really important to me.

But that night was the night before they had to take my friend to mental hospital. What he saw that night, he either doesn’t remember or doesn’t talk about it.

Anyways, that was a bit of a tangent. I guess I should finish up that twenty point scale thing now.

Basically, hitting ten was hitting the second plateau. Eleven, twelve and thirteen don’t change much, but thirteen is that high end of the second plateau I was talking about earlier. Fourteen is where things change again, and things won’t change past that until seventeen. Sixteen is where it gets scary, but seventeen is theoretically where you’re kind of never the same again. And eighteen is dangerous. Nineteen is either hospital or brain damage. Twenty is dead.

Not that it was easy to hit that. Hitting the fourth plateau puts you about three-fourths of the way to a lethal dose, so you’d have to take what you were already taking plus a third of that same amount to die. But I can’t imagine pushing it that far would be… y’know. Worthwhile. It just sounds harrowing. I’d rather try heroin. And I don’t want to ever do heroin.

After this is all said and done, you get the hangover. No sleep. It’s not going to happen. A shower is so much sensory input that it actually makes you feel sick. You probably should avoid driving. You won’t want to eat or drink anything, but you should. But you won’t be able to eat anything too dry and anything moist is just going to be sickening, so good luck. Even after forcing it all down, you might throw it up.This hangover is fucked up and can last, like, three days. Not recommended.

I don’t have much in the way of a conclusion, though I can totally see myself going deep on another substance in the future. Not as in using it, but discussing it. Duh. I just find the subject absolutely enthralling.

A Person, Not A Picture Of One

I’ve written and posted a few songs about the way my ex would see me; how she generally saw me as whatever the hell it was that she wished that I was and not who I actually was. For a time, that was enjoyable. I mean, the first couple of months… maybe weeks, actually, I got to feel like a goddamn rock star. That’s what she thought I was back then. Eventually she would go on to be disillusioned about that, but the fact that there was an illusion to dissolve in the first place was pretty frustrating. Had she not decided that I was this cool fucking hipster punk-rock whatever-the-hell, she wouldn’t have ever been disappointed to find out that I wasn’t, and maybe she would have sucked away my joy and happiness and humanity for a little longer than she did.

But that’s not the only way she stole my identity from me. I never really realized why back then, but hindsight is 20/20 and I can see a lot of the reasons why I was so goddamned depressed when I was with her now, years later.

And yeah. It has been years, and yeah, I’m still talking about it. She was my “big” ex. Everybody has one, I think. The one that never really gets out of your psyche; the one who ruins all of your subsequent relationships just by being there as a memory. I am so goddamn afraid to get close to people nowadays. I barely even let myself feel affection for people anymore because of how that relationship ended. But I’m digressing again.

This particular ex never let me have my fucking music. I’m not actually talking about the music that I write; aside from just being a part of my life experience, she had very little impact on that aspect of me. I was even comfortable writing negative songs about her and posting them, partially because I valued my art more than her and partially because she was so goddamn dense that she never realized what they were about. What I’m talking about is the music I liked. I couldn’t like a band, or even love one, without her becoming obsessed with it. If I liked some new song, she had to like it ten times as much as I did and dig deep and find out when the band was touring and buy a shirt and holy fucking shit I said I LIKED ONE FUCKING SONG BY THEM AND YOU’RE ALREADY DOING THIS SHIT GODDAMMIT STOP.

She couldn’t just like the stuff I liked, she had to possess it. When I discovered and fell in love with The Front Bottoms for the first time, she had to own them. They were her favorite band. No one else liked them as much as she did, as far as she was concerned.

And she didn’t even fucking get it. I love their self-titled album because it describes the burned-out post-highschool doldrums I was stuck in at the time. She was going to college; she had shit to do. My friends and I, we were just wasting time. We were wasting it on purpose, because it was the only thing that felt right, but we weren’t trying to move forward. We were just trying to move away from the rest of the world. We were doing drugs and drinking and picking up smoking habits because there was nothing else to fucking do, and finding something truly productive to fill our time with felt like such a mockery of what we stood for in high school that we couldn’t bear to do it. And The Front Bottoms’ self-titled album describes that perfectly in both sound and lyric. And she wasn’t a fucking part of that. When I asked her what it was about them that she liked, I never got an answer like that. It was always about the catchiness of a chorus, or Brian’s voice, or she’s say something vague about them being “deep.” She fell in love with them because she had a chance to like an indie band , and that was “cool.” I fell in love with them because the vibration of their sound was perfectly in sync with every molecule in my body.

But, you know, she had fourteen of their shirts after knowing about them for a week.

And look, I’m painting her like a total psychopath because I’m leaving out the good stuff. There was good stuff. She bought me a good amount of memorabilia from bands I liked, and tickets to their shows. She drove me places because I hate driving. We had, you know, sex and stuff and it was bad sex but it’s not like I was any good at it so I can’t really blame her for it and sex is still pretty awesome no matter what especially when you’re nineteen. And we didn’t fight until the end came. Maybe once or twice. But fighting was not a part of our relationship, for three whole years.

But I’m only mentioning that stuff to be fair to her, and to paint a slightly fuller picture of her. She wasn’t a picture book villain or anything, she was just kind of a narcissist and did everything she could to convince you that she wasn’t.

But god, the way she took these bands away was legitimately hurtful. I ache about it even now. Music is such a huge part of my identity; to claim it as her own was really… I don’t know the word for it. The word I want to say is “controlling”, because it felt very much like a part of me was under her thumb.

But it does make it so much more satisfying when I hear something now that I know she isn’t listening to. Especially when it’s as good as what I’m about to mention.

Ben Folds has a new(ish) album out called “So There”, and it’s fucking fantastic. And if the song Not a Fan is from his heart, then Ben Folds fucking hates my ex-girlfriend. And it’s so goddamn satisfying to listen to a song I love, know that it’s a legitimately great song by a fantastic artist, and know that she isn’t sitting somewhere obsessing over it.

The album is fucking beautiful, and if you haven’t listened to it yet, DO THAT. This song is my favorite. It kind of describes exactly what I was just bitching about, and does so eloquently and over one of the prettiest piano parts I’ve heard in a while. And the very last line Folds says just ties it all together. Listen to the whole thing.

Get High

I’m so afraid to be
me

Push it into my arm
and let me love you
let me love you for who you are
and not what I want us to be
I want to be you
I want you to be me

No, you don’t understand
The skeletal remains of me
were all part of the plan
I’d hoped to become
just a little more numb
to whatever it is that I was

Don’t you want to get high?
I just want to get high
to get high, get high
get high. get high.
A new meaning of life
to get high, to get high
A reason to survive
to get high, get high.

These cuts on my wrist
You’ll take five, I’ll take six
And they’ll fade into scars
and you’ll fade into stars
And I’ll know for real
how exactly I feel
The world is just pathetic
I won’t let it
consume me

Don’t you want to get high?

get high, get high.

Thank You, Mr. Wilson.

The man who got me started playing guitar passed away from his cancer just the other day. He died young, too. He was the music teacher at my high school, but that’s not giving him enough credit. He was so much more than just the music teacher there. He was the reason people were passionate about music at my school. He had huge classes, but always found time to help every individual who was struggling. He was much more concerned with the students than he was with having some perfect curriculum, or whatever.

He was also the most talented musician I have ever met in my life. He could have done anything with his talent. He could have made money as a studio musician with ease, if you want to argue that achieving fame is too reliant on luck. But he used all of that talent to teach instead. And he taught so many people. I knew so many people who played guitar because he taught them. He brought music to my world, and to hundreds, if not thousands of others. He was a fantastic teacher, and all you had to do was be willing to learn.

There’s a lot more I could say about him, I just haven’t had much time to process all of this. This is… this is the first death in my life that actually brought tears to my eyes. I’ve never felt a real connection to anyone else who has died in my periphery, but Mr. Wilson taught me the one thing I have that really sets me apart from other people. He’s the reason I can do something that not everyone in the world can do. Sure, I’m not the greatest in the world at guitar, but if I didn’t have this skill at all, I might have killed myself out of sheer lack of confidence before now. I don’t know that for sure, I guess, so I’m not going to say that I’m alive because of him. But I do feel more alive because of him. And I know he brought that feeling to so many other people.

I wrote a bit of a song about it. My feelings about it are very jumbled up right now, and I’ve always had a difficult time writing about death. But this is what I got, and it’s dedicated to Mr. Wilson. Thanks for everything.


There’s no such thing as ghosts
But my room felt so damn warm
when it should’ve felt cold
There’s nowhere that we go
And I know that you were trying
God, I’m so afraid of dying

I wish the world was where I was
For those years that you knew us
But the world will never know
what I know

But I
know
You’re fine
now

I am where I am
I have what I have
It’s the one thing in my life
that I’ve worked for
and I have what I have
and I am who I am
This is the one thing in my life
that I have worked for

And I
can
do anything
now

From my first C chord
to right now

And I
know
You’re fine
now.

Our Virtual Reality Future Is Vaguely Depressing, But I Want It Anyway

Look at this trailer.

LOOK AT THIS FUCKING TRAILER.

Okay. Maybe that didn’t move you as much as it did me. Maybe you’re not a part of my exact generation. Maybe you weren’t born within a four-year span of me and Pokemon is just a thing you look at from the outside. Maybe you were into it once, but aren’t anymore.

Well, for context, Pokemon is kind of a touchstone of my generation. I was either four or five when I played my first Pokemon game, and it took me away from here. I was a Pokemon trainer. I was catching and training up my team and getting ready to face the Elite Four, the ultimate challenge for trainers. Eventually I scraped through, and found that my bastard rival had made it there before I did. He was the champion, not me. I had to beat him to win the title from him…. but he trounced me. I didn’t even stand a chance. He always did seem to have an advantage over me: from the day he was born he was the grandson of one of the most famous Pokemon researchers in the entire world. He always knew a little more than I did. And when I finally got a Pokemon of my own, he deliberately picked one with a type advantage over mine. Trying to get out from under his shadow has never been easy, and now here he is, towering over the entire world. I had to defeat him. I had to prove my worth. I trained for days. My Pokemon and I, we were fully synched. We were ready. We handily defeated the Elite Four and found our way to the champion’s room yet again. And he was still there, waiting for me. This time, things were different. I was ready.

We fought, alone in that room. Maybe the world was watching on some television network, maybe not. To me, it was just the two of us and our Pokemon. If it was destiny that I was going to go down here; if Blue truly was born to be the very best, here and now was where we would find out. But I worked hard for this. I never had anyone there to guide me through; all I had was him, laughing at me as I carried my wounded Pokemon away from the scene of his instigations.

But in the end, I took him down. I earned his respect, and the respect of the entire world. Now all that was left to do… was to catch them all!

And that’s why this new Pokemon Go thing has me excited. It’s not everything I want… Obviously. What I want is for everything in my imagination to be real; I want to step outside into a world handcrafted to be fun for me. And this isn’t that. This is a tiny step in that direction. This will let me go on walks and stumble upon a new friend while I’m out there. I’ll encounter all kinds of Pokemon out there, and it’ll make the world feel just a little bit more like a video game.

And maybe what I really want is coming. Virtual reality is on its way, and while it’s probably not going to be a part of our daily lives for a good, long while, there’s a tiny chance that it’ll become routine in my lifetime. And if it does, maybe there will be a place in that world where I can pretend to be a kid again, catching Pokemon and training to be the very best. Maybe I’ll be tired, hungry, and old, but I’ll be able to pretend that everything is okay by slipping into a place that doesn’t really exist… it’s maybe not the most thrilling idea of our future; millions of people plugged into other realities because our actual reality isn’t good enough for us, but there’s this longing deep inside of me… A longing to go somewhere else, and if these technologies can bring me there, then I don’t care what happens to me anymore.

Abuse

When I was a young child, a man whose name I can no longer remember, who used to be married to my mother, would punish me for wrongdoings by holding my face up to a showerhead and turning it on at full blast. I don’t remember if the water was all the way hot or all the way cold. It felt like I was drowning, but I wasn’t.

This was because my mom wouldn’t let him hit me. She let him hit her, though.

I don’t remember his name because we don’t speak it in our home. It’s not something I’m supposed to have coherent memories of, I think. I do, though. I can still remember.

I’m the only one in my house who remembers this besides my mother. I’m the only one in my house who even knows this happened besides my mother and probably my stepdad. It makes me feel a little distant from my siblings, sometimes. They cower and worry when my mother and stepdad are fighting, but I have a hard time having a conversation with them about it. I have a hard time empathizing with them. No amount of our parents yelling at each other really equals the thing I remember from before.

At the same time, it’s not their fault they didn’t experience that… And it is frightening, seeing adults yell at each other when you’re young. It’s just hard. When something relatively crazy happens at my house, such as my autism-spectrum brother losing control and throwing a very loud and aggressive tantrum, my sister will sometimes leave the house. When she comes back, I can see her looking for a sympathetic ear. I can see her saying, “Man, our house. Things sure are crazy here. What I wouldn’t give for us to be normal.” I can see it on her face, but she doesn’t say it. I’m kind of glad she doesn’t, because I wouldn’t know how to respond. This is all so tame compared to what it could be, and even my experiences are tame compared to the abuse my mother went through as a child. I would probably just tell her, “You don’t know the half of it,” and that would be the end of the conversation. Our family has been so much crazier in the past.

I wish I could be a bit more of a shoulder for my siblings to lean on. I just don’t feel qualified. I can’t… I can’t give their worries the proper attention. None of it seems real to me. Everything in my house, it all seems so calm and peaceful an normal compared to what it used to be. And yet we still have me, a severely depressed adult living with his parents, my brother, a severely depressed young adult on a religious mission, my other brother, a severely depressed teen on the autism spectrum who is dealing with some other issues I don’t feel at liberty to discuss, and my sister who… who completely alludes me. I can’t tell if she’s happy or not. She’s very different from the rest of us, and she’s probably seen the least amount of shit, relatively speaking. But I know my family, and I know there’s got to be something. I mean, fuck, for all I know, her finding out about my drug history has traumatized her. I don’t know. I do know that there’s a distance between us, and I worry it’s because I lack empathy towards her.