“For neuroscientists, emotions are rather frustrating. They are hard to define and measure, and they are inextricably intertwined with the biggest mystery of all: consciousness. Nevertheless, compared to other emotions, we are considerably less ignorant about the neuroscience of fear. This my be because fear is such a primitive emotion — perhaps the primordial emotion. Fear seems to rely heavily on evolutionarily older brain structures and, as opposed to more veiled emotions such as love and hate, animals express a well-defined repertoire of fear-related behaviors and autonomic responses.”


Do It


I think that everyone should experience this at some point. There is something about rocking, as well as rolling, that is perfect. It’s one of those things that completely wipes your mind. All of those issues that you had walking in the door are blown away when the first note bounces off the walls of the room. The crowd lights up – a machine switched on. The excitement rises to the ceiling. It’s pure. The world slips away.

The small annoyances of shows started building for me as I got older. It was years before I started wearing earplugs to shows. Even though it made the music more clear, it wasn’t punk rock enough for a 16 year old me. The ringing in your ears was a souvenir. The scratchiness of your voice was as well. And maybe a bruise or a sore arm or neck from when some jumped on your head while your attention was elsewhere. Or a crowd surfer sneaked up on you from behind. The next day, you’d talk about the asshole who seemed to be trying to kick people when he was passed up to the stage and so you, or your friend, stole his shoe and threw it across the room.

Eventually, I started drifting back. Being the closest, or in the action, was no longer important to me. I wanted to watch the band. Watch how the singer worked the crowd, or how the guitarists balanced showmanship and accuracy. Which was most important to who. Or the drummer, my favorite, my instrument, almost all on his own back there. Feeling everyone else but usually driving them forward himself (or herself). The simple drummers who kept the beat, provided the spine. Could enjoy themselves and throw in an occasional flourish to differentiate the live show from the record. And the chaotic drummers. The speed. The near constant fills. Never coming up for air. Finding the perfect mix. The ones who could play a beat you didn’t understand at first. Almost sounding simple, but incredibly difficult to replicate at home. The ones who could play with timing but always come back on 1. Didn’t stray too far to lose the song. Not too busy. It’s harder than it sounds. And a joy to watch.

I still enjoy a show from time to time, but just can’t muster the same enthusiasm I had. Things change, as they should, and it’s no longer my scene. Whether I’m simply getting too old to look passed the kicks and bumps, the sweat and lost voice, or if things really did change isn’t actually all that important. Either way, it’s not my favorite place to be anymore, but those are some of my favorite memories.

From my first time seeing Saves the Day, to driving way too far to see Catch 22. The time we drove over 7 hours for one show. The time I had no one to go with so my dad said he’d see Cursive with me (I was 16). It was the moment I was completely lost inside the music. It was beautiful. It was chaos. It was being young and trying to understand what it meant to grow up. It was acknowledging how unsure you were and being comforted that there were others standing next to you, singing the words with the same passion as you. Almost an extension of yourself. And at the same time, being able to make everyone else disappear so it was just you and the abstract sound. Each note filled you. Shook you. Reverberated inside your body. The sound was a physical sensation that matched the emotional one you felt when you put on the record. But live, every noted sounded new. The first and only time anyone would every hear this specific sound this specific way. And not just any sound. Not the wind blowing against the dumpster outside. Or a car rushing by in the middle of the night. But a sound you spent hours with. That helped you define, or name, what was happening inside of you. The moment belonged to you and a small group around you. And when it went right, it would stay with you for a long time.

I never studied music. I can’t describe it with the right words. I can’t break down a song and name each part or the notes. I can’t always tell you if a guitar is tuned perfectly. I’m not dismissing that ability. I’m sure it can add to the enjoyment of music. Deeper understanding tends to deepen your appreciation. But in the case of a rock show in a shitty bar with a hundred or so kids, none of that matters.

Again, there is much more to say about this topic. Is it the same for all the kids who never listened to anything close to punk (or rock or etc)? Do kids who like pop music ever feel music in this way? This personal? What about rap? Certainly the experiences are different, is one better? (I think so, but I wouldn’t be able to explain why without showing you. Without knowing you. Without connecting with you.)

Maybe you have some thoughts on this, or some experiences of of your own, and I’d love to hear them. If anyone gets this far. Thanks for reading, and please share.

Note: The band in the picture is I Am The Avalanche. I didn’t take the picture and don’t know where it came from. Credit to whoever took it.

Do It


I’ve been thinking about women of late, maybe always. In my teens I was surrounded by punk kids (yay The Descendents), indie kids (yay, Cursive!), emo kids (yay, Mineral!), hardcore kids (yay, Converge), post-hardcore kids (umm… Saosin?), ska kids (weee, Catch 22!), and so on and so forth. That doesn’t always mean the kids are liberal, or hippie-esque (while disliking the comparison, for some reason), but in my case, they all were. Everyone was a feminist.

I was surrounded by girls who didn’t want to have limitations based on what other people thought it meant to be female, and I loved it. I adopted feminism immediately, and still shake my head in disappointment when people reject the term because they have a terrible understanding of it.

Nearly constantly, I’m reminded of just how truly difficult it can be to be a woman in the world. From the real threat of assault and rape to every day demeaning and offensive catcalls and stares. The odd and infuriating mindset men have that girls and women exist for sex. Exist to please them/us. The assumption that every female in the world is there for us to try to sleep with and so we reduce them to such a small existence in our heads. I am sometimes asked to pretend to be a friend’s boyfriend so someone will stop hitting on her (and that doesn’t always work). I talk to my female friends and most don’t even mention it anymore. It’s so common, they don’t even bother to say “some guys whistled at me and yelled some shit as they drove by in their car.” They don’t mention when walking down the hall that some guy slapped them on the ass as he passed. It’s difficult to grasp how frequently stuff like that happens and how women are either forced to accept it as the way it is, or to be upset quite a bit of the time.

It’s also incredibly difficult, for even the most caring of guys, to take a woman’s perspective. For the most part, guys are rarely harassed and not remotely to the extent women can be. So it’s hard to put myself in her shoes. Besides, a guy’s desires are different from a woman’s anyway (in general). It makes the reality of life as a female so hard to imagine sometimes.

And it’s been made an issue by the guy who made the videos about women before killing 6 too many people in Santa Barbara. It’s good that it’s come into the spotlight even though that kid was mentally disturbed and it was more about that than women (though I won’t guess what percentage).

This is the kind of subject that when you talk to rational, decent human beings, they sarcastically say something like, “who are you trying to impress, no one here disagrees with you.” But I hardly realize I’m ranting. I do know I’m rehashing the same ideas and same anger plenty of other people have spout out before I was born. I’ve just always hated inequalities. And all of them piss me off to no end. I get hung up on them and can never let them go.

Anyway, I started this post to talk about my personal issues. I love women. I’m attracted to women. And when I see a woman walking downtown, I can’t help what my mind does. And normally I think it’s harmless fantasizing. Maybe it is, but it’s upsetting all the same. I don’t want to see women that way. And though I can take solace in the fact that I don’t treat women as objects and I don’t interact with women in hopes of sleeping with them, having those thoughts is still disappointing to me. I wish I didn’t hold my look that extra second when a girl walks by. I wish I could stop those thoughts from forming in my mind. I catch myself doing it and have to actively resist. My default is to look. To lust after a woman I know absolutely nothing about. That bothers me. And it’s something that I’ve had to learn to deal with. It’s a thought that originates underneath my conscious mind and rises to my awareness long after having been formed. It’s when I become aware that I must resist the thought. I don’t want it to shape the interaction. I want to like or hate this person as a person and not because of any other reason. I may not be completely capable of this. I’ve studied the brain enough to know how it operates underneath consciousness and the many influences we aren’t aware of. So, I don’t fool myself into thinking I’m capable of defeating how my brain works, but I do hope that by spending an extra moment to think about that desire, I can make it less powerful.

There are a million more aspects to this conversation, like the balance between embracing sexuality and openness while respecting other people’s boundaries and not being rude, but I’m afraid 1:30 in the morning is not the ideal time for contemplating them all.

I don’t suspect I’m making any difference by posting this. I don’t even suppose that I’m saying anything new. I hope I don’t come off as if I think I know anything more than other people. I was simply reflecting on my behavior.





In case the picture is too small and to get the part I cut out of the picture.

“For those readers now

sick at heart

believing that I’m a contented

man –

please have some

cheer: agony sometimes changes



it never ceases for




Where do you stand on such a sentiment? I feel like I’m constantly being told to be happy. Maybe it’s just not for some people. And maybe that’s alright, too. But goodness is happiness pushed like a drug. And goodness are drugs for happiness pushed like… other sorts of drugs primarily used for escaping.

An escape doesn’t sound all that bad, sometimes. But hey, we all get tired.

How should we deal with it?

lets just go on adventures. Let’s explore and enjoy. Let’s suffer. Let’s experience it all. And let’s never be ready to die.