Thanksgiving is a Time to Superficially Reflect

I’m thankful for luck.

Nothing controls life more than random occurrences,

Where we go,

Who we become,

Success,

Failure,

The desire to try again.

I was born in a relatively free country,

To relatively well-off parents,

In a relatively remarkable time for progress in:

Lifespan,

Technology,

Science,

Secular society,

Human rights.

 

I won a genetic lottery to be here,

And male.

And relatively functional.

And straight.

Though not quite fully there,

And not white,

And perhaps kinkier than many.

None of that has anything to do with anything I’ve done,

And it’s entirely unfair.

It would be even worse if I weren’t thankful for it all.

Thanksgiving is a Time to Superficially Reflect

In the Spirit of the Holiday

I have a slightly more pessimistic (depending on your perspective) post in the pipeline, but who wants to be a downer, or a realist, or a skeptic, or whatever, 365 days a year? Well, I sort of want to be that skeptic, but that still leaves me with a quarter of a day for a break each year, and a full day off every 4 years. Let’s consider right now to be part of that time.

Alright, so Thanksgiving is in… *checks clock*… an hour ago, and however you feel about the history of the United States of America, it’s a nice break from normal responsibilities. So much so that, whatever our diets, we stuff our faces and spend money. (And there’s another conversation to be had over the pros and cons of consumerism, but I’ll hold off on commenting. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments and I’ll be more than happy to respond.) Anyway, to get in the mood of family, friends and food, why not listen to some music.

One of my favorite bands since I was 14 is Saves the Day. They’re a weird band to describe. Some people have lost interest and criticized their more recent releases, and have moved on from their earlier ones. I still love almost every song they’ve ever released. I fully realize that my perception of their music is biased to favor it, whatever it sounds like, and I accept that. But to my hears, Saves the Day is amazing. One of my favorite albums of theirs came out 12 years ago, and it’s still one of my favorites. Their first full length came out in 1998. It’s still rad.

Here’s a brief overview of their musical lives.

You Vandal (1999). I was a wee little kid when I first heard this song and album. I instantly fell in love with it. It was people like me – weird, lonely kids – making music that was fun to dance to and angst-y and angry and longing. That was me. I loved the lyrics, the straight forward rock/punk/pop made with no budget just because they loved music. Sign me up.

In Reverie (2003). Fast-forward four years. Emo has hit a bit of a boon. Blink 182 and New Found Glory start the pop-punk craze in earnest (thanks in part to Green Day years before), then come Dashboard Confessional, Bright Eyes, Yellowcard, and the like. Saves the Day gets a bit of attention from their 2001 album, Stay What You Are (a genius album). So they follow it up with a ridiculous departure from that sound. Chris completely changes his vocal delivery. It doesn’t sell very well, but I loved it. Still do. The years have changed the consensus on this album. When it first came out, the emo/rock/indie/whatever scene did not like this album. I remember reading an interview in which Chris specifies that Saves the Day wrote and recorded the entire album before it was picked up by Dreamworks, because people thought Saves the Day sold out and tried to write a commercial rock record (which is ridiculous if you listen to the album. Nothing that sells well sounds much of anything like In Reverie.)

Z (2011). After a fear year break between albums during which band members came and went, Daybreak came out. I fucking loved Daybreak. (The vocal delivery changed yet again.) The first track is 10 minutes long, with five separate parts sampling all sorts of sounds from their past and experimenting with new styles. The whole album is a bit of a departure again. Their previous two albums experimented a little but were much angrier and faster. (they’re good albums in their own right but I’m already writing way too much about a single band and I know almost no one will get this far as is. If you do get this far, congrats. You get a prize. I don’t know what the prize is but if you have any suggestions, feel free. I’m open.)

Stand in the Stars (2013). This is one of my favorite Saves the Day songs ever. That statement is remarkable to me when this band has been together for almost 20 years. Few bands stay around this long, and few put out good music for close to this long. I love so much about this song, but technically, I think it’s just a perfectly put together song. Its structure is perfect. The music is relatively simple but amazingly catchy and enduring. There is almost no break in the singing, which is strange. There’s little room to breathe in that respect but the repetitive, but sweet, music provides a nice backdrop to consume the relentless singing. It’s about 2 minutes into the song before the singing takes a break and the guitar comes in with a charming solo. The cadence of the singing is so fun that it’s difficult not to hum along.

 

 

One things I’ve grown to appreciate more as I’ve gotten older is song writing. I used to love music but didn’t pay much attention to how it was constructed. I knew I didn’t like overly repetitive choruses or music, but beyond that, I didn’t care. What Saves the Day and Tim Kasher (and especially the Beatles if you want possibly the best example) got better and better at is writing fundamentally strong songs. Listening to The Game of Monogamy by Tim Kasher, almost every song is perfectly made. There’s enough creativity and exploration to keep songs interesting and new, but a great understanding in how to build a song. How long to hold an idea and how to keep one going while changing the delivery throughout the song.

Anyway…. Almost a thousand words on a band.

I bet I’m going to get upwards of 2000 likes on this post. haha

If you made it to the end, I owe you something.

In the Spirit of the Holiday

My Distaste for Other People Is Relatively Shallow

I have memories I never took part in creating,

They remain tied to a past that is nothing more than a synopsis.

I take moments from everywhere and superimpose myself,

Until the events that make up me dissolve into fiction.

I’m short and behind everyone else,

Watching but never taking part,

Or maybe it was me.

The clothes,

The hair,

The face,

The length of time.

Stretching down as low as possible,

Taking in what other people have to give,

Consuming them.

Marking the body with my version of art,

Leaving a legacy everywhere I’ve been,

And coming to the conclusion, which never takes very long,

That you’ve been educated.

I have a job to do,

That was once a work of love,

But has become rote.

I follow the steps I’ve seen a million times.

That’s me.

Complexity reduced to a role I play.

My Distaste for Other People Is Relatively Shallow

Am I Recognizable

Has wonder turned to angst then back to subjective wonder from an objective distance?

The inclusion of subjective and objective value has only recently been an area of interest and it is tough to swallow. The possibility that I may be living life wrong is a challenging idea. But it should be, shouldn’t it? It should be important to figure out if you’re doing this thing right or wasting your time. And you can define those terms however you like, but upon reflection, I think it’s important to be capable of justifying our lives to ourselves from an objective point of view.

How much do I resemble that kid who used to play in the backyard?

I can see all the things I used to do. I can almost feel them. But I can’t inhabit the brain of that kid. This same brain is completely different. I can’t take his position anymore. Walking home, kicking a rock, thinking of nothing but friends and that rock. How good can I become at kicking this rock?

I’m kicking different rocks.

Who was that kid? Is he still me?

I feel as though my consciousness is continuous. That my life is not too dissimilar to a story. It flows from one moment to the next, the story makes sense most of the time and I have access to all those moments. But if I pause and take this version of me and compare him to the version that existed 15 years ago, I don’t know how similar we are.

Am I Recognizable

But what about when you’re 86?

I always want to talk people but ask them invasive, personal questions. I’m really bad at that filler stuff, and not in the “I suck at it but do my best and it’s passable” sort of way. I overhear conversations all the time, perhaps I’m nosey, and marvel at how often people can force words out of their mouth without really saying much of anything. It’s annoying in an envious sort of way. I usually choose a side and pretend I’m in the conversation. Each response beyond hi, is baffling to me. My go to example was when a friend and I were out to lunch and an old friend of his saw us. She walked up and said hi. They did the whole “what have you been up to?” thing and she said something about hairdressing. Now, immediately, I was 100% out of the conversation. I don’t have anything against hairdressers, but that isn’t an interest and nothing about it is for me. My friend feels the same exact way – I know because he told me so after – but he talked about hairdressing for a good 15 minutes, asked all sorts of questions, and seemed genuinely interested to the point where I thought he might be hanging up the guitar and enrolling in hair school. I literally just stared, the entire time.

What would I have said if I could have said anything? I would have asked if cutting hair gives this person’s life meaning. Or if it’s a means to some other end that will lead to meaning and fulfillment.

I’m not entirely sure why one of my first thoughts is, if you were your own grandchild, would you give a shit about the story of your life? It’s not so much about legacy, it’s about the fact that I want the people I care about to think i did something worthwhile because I value their judgment.

One reason I think I wonder is because I’m looking for different roads to take to meaning. I’m on this one in which philosophers and scientists and artists talk about meaning all over the place, but the average person walking down the street, cutting hair, styling hair, coloring hair and whatever else you can do to hair, I don’t know what those people think about meaning. If they care, though I bet they do, and how they approach fulfillment. If it’s borne out through material objects or spiritual beliefs or worthy activities. Family, friends, goals, activities, ideas, beliefs. I’d like to know how many ways there are to get to the good life.

But what about when you’re 86?

Who I Am When I’m Not Myself

I wrote a sort of flurry of questions yesterday. Almost unconnected thoughts one after another and almost the same thought in different words, wasting everyone’s time with tedious repetition. I wanted to look a bit deeper at some of the things I said, just to see if they make any sense at all, because it’s reassuring to know my thoughts aren’t a complete waste of energy. (At least I’m burning some calories.)

I started by talking about how boring my dreams tend to be and how I don’t understand why people read so much into dreams. It’s like reading an empty book and putting whatever words you want to read, then claiming the blank pages is telling you what to think or how to act. It’s not. You’re doing that. Would some dream interpreter want to analyze my dreams? Responding to emails and going shopping? Does it mean I’m bored with my life? Could be, but what does that mean? I was directionless and hopeless when things were less boring. Couldn’t it be our understanding of boredom is flawed? That simply being content is threatening? “You don’t know how lucky you are, that your life is so characterless.” That would be an oversimplification of most lives, but it doesn’t make it any less true. Calm has become synonymous with boring. But how good is a nice cup of a coffee and a blanket on a cold night?

 

Have I changed completely?

This was the second idea in my previous blog. It’s a pretty big one, to me. In defining glory days, I don’t know where to begin. How should life be analyzed? Because it’s undeniably true that fucking around all day was a blast, and that those days are very few and far between now. I’m simultaneously upset and thrilled about that. It might be that I’m not yet old enough to fully appreciate the stillness in life. This moment is pretty nice to live in, but it would make a terrible movie.

Is the excitement that made up my life different to the point of being unrecognizable?

Sure, I feel excitement still but is it even the same sort? Can we really classify both feelings under the same name?
Does the fire of first love and the nights spent at punk shows bear enough of a resemblance to the more “adult” companionate love and a good book? I can intellectually value companionate love more, but how fun was it running through streets as if you could traverse the entire world in a night? Like each step was a new world, that could be explored and understood!

When so much of life is unrecognizable to who you were, are you the same person? Is there a core self holding the present version and the previous version together? Or are we so different that it doesn’t make sense to call both versions the same person?

Who I Am When I’m Not Myself