October 6, 2011

Chip Off The Old Rocker (repost)

My birthday was a few weeks ago. My dad died around that time in 2006, and in fact, his funeral was on my birthday that year. So, of course, he's been on my mind some. A friend of mine recently lost their father as well, so I decided to share this once again.




When I'm getting to know someone, one of the first questions I ask or perhaps one of the first things I check out on an internet profile concerns music. Quickest way to turn me off? Tell me, "oh, I listen to everything." Really? Do you? You listen to gospel, classical, New Wave, grindcore and country and hip hop and sludge metal? The confused look on the person’s face tells me that individual has no idea what I'm talking about. I usually attempt to ask if he or she has any favorites...favorite band or singer or song or album or anything. The response isn't usually too encouraging and typically involves a statement about how tough it is to make such a choice. To me, all that means the person probably haven't vested that much interest in music and might as well be dead.

Music is life.

I learned that whole deal at an early age thanks to my dad. He wasn't the easiest person to live with...certainly to be raised by. He was a mean drunk who couldn’t go a day without drinking, and he had quite a drug habit. All in all, his temper was wickedly short to put it mildly. I don't think he was really cut out for fatherhood.

He died several years ago. Cancer. We weren't close, but it was still a big loss. It’s always tough to watch someone you love suffer as much as he did in the last few months of his life, but I think it was even harder for me because I held a lot of resentment towards him for me not really having a childhood. I mean, going to court at 3 because your daddy was arrested for distribution of cocaine isn't exactly keeping up a stable environment conducive to child raising. And, the violence he was often prone to didn’t make things any better. After I found out he was sick and even more after he died, I had the desire to let all that go. Why hold on to it? It certainly wasn't doing me any good.

I just really had no idea how the fuck I was going to do that.

Gradually, it happened on its own without any effort from me. I think the harder I tried at it, the more I failed. So, I let go. I had other aspects of my self-exploration to deal with. I've changed a good bit in the last 5 years or so since my dad died... a lot had to do with a musical evolution that started with a suggestion to listen to Baroness. Music—music I like anyway--is my Xanax, Prosac, Zoloft. It elevates my moods. Harmonizes my emotions. Frees my spirit. It makes me more social, gives me goosebumps, and  clears my mind of all the clutter of the day. Somewhere along my evolutionary road, I began to realize that Dad taught me all that. I can picture him clearly singing along to Don Henley's (from The Eagles) The Heart of the Matter. "I've been trying to get down to the heart of the matter. But my will gets weak and my thoughts seem to scatter. But I think it's about forgiveness. Forgiveness. Even if, even if you don't love me anymore." He'd turn it up on that part when he'd have company over and tell them to listen to that shit closely. It's a decent sad-old-bastard song. I can still sing along to most of it even now. And of course, Eric Clapton's "Cocaine" could get him laughing and fist pumping like a champ...crazy old fuck.

He introduced me to some greats. Janis, Jimi, the Allman Brothers, the Stones, Zeppelin, Cream, Bread, Foghat, the Eagles--Hotel California still gets my hips moving, like it or not. The Doobie Brothers, Charlie Daniels, Hank Williams, Waylon Jennings and more, more, more. Dad knew his shit, and it makes me smile to think back to him laughing, smiling, even tearing up over songs. I got my love of sharing music from him, too. I don't remember much about growing up....side effect of a fucked up childhood...but I do remember him making people listen to the different songs he loved and keying them in on the best parts while they had their drinks and whatever else may have been on the menu that day. 

The realization that Dad taught me how to love music and really open myself up to it led me further. I got a lot from the old man; I’d just never been able to see it before. He gave me my openness, quick intelligence (he was a human calculator, no lie), my ability to speak my mind without fear, and my rebellious, non-conformist attitude—you should see pics of him in the 70s. All in all, so much of what I love about myself came from the person who also put me through hell growing up. Eventually, I just saw the balance in things. He wouldn’t win a Father of the Year award, but he helped shaped me into the person I am today.

Dad,

I would be much less of a woman if it weren't for you teaching me how much music could mean...how much it could move you and connect you to others. Thank you. It is about forgiveness, isn't it? I love you, you crazy sonofabitch.

always,

j


October 2, 2011

Why You Can't Give Up On Love

No woman will ever satisfy me. I know that now, and I would never try to deny it. But this is actually okay, because I will never satisfy a woman, either.

This line is from an essay in Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman. It’s something people almost instantaneously disagree with whenever I bring it up in conversation, but it’s also something so inherently true that it reverberates in my mind each and every time I attempt to dwell on the ideas of love and relationships. Invariably, talking about love leads to talking about marriage and the belief in finding that one person out there for you—you’re other half, soul mate, the yin to your yang.

I can’t help noticing the absurdity of this.

With life-long, monogamous relationships, people believe there is one person in the world who satisfies all their needs, that no one else will ever do, and that in turn, they will satisfy all their partner’s needs. Despite the fact that people grow and change, people believe they will grow and change in complimentary ways which never puts their union at odds. You will continually support each other’s endeavors even when you’re not in agreement with those endeavors. You will be an anchor for your partner even when that partner is being a selfish baby and even when they are too busy to be there for you. There’s no marriage clause about picking up your dirty underwear, not picking your nose in the sanctity of your bed, brushing your teeth EVERY single day at the very least, or blowing loads of cash on useless toys. And, even if there were, people would violate them left and right because marriage is wholly unreasonable. That’s why adultery is so commonplace. Vows mean nothing in the long run.

I know a lot of people are ready to argue with me here; it wouldn’t be the first time. I have friends who do it all the time. So, to back up my argument, I decided to conduct a little social experiment. I opened profiles on 2 dating sites just to see how many married men would contact me in a month’s time. What I hoped to show was just how callously people treated their vows even if they truly love their spouses. It seems to be a fairly common occurrence, and people tend to argue that it only happens with weaker minded individuals. I think it’s the impossible task of finding every ounce of satisfaction through just one person that eventually crumbles a person’s resolve, but maybe that’s just me.

Or not.

In just 1 month, I was contacted by 15 admittedly married men. That’s nearly 4 adulterers actively seeking an affair per week. And these were regular dating sites not the kind which caters strictly to affairs like Ashley Madison. On these sites, I filled out my profiles completely, and the messages poured in on their own. I never looked for anyone to contact myself. I never sent the initial message—never reached out to anyone. Obviously, I didn’t have to…those men were ready, willing, and able to find someone.

Even more telling, though, were the men who weren’t married but were absolutely unconcerned about what I want. I state numerous times in my profiles that I am not looking for any type of relationship and that I don’t believe the commitments, boundaries, and expectations that go along with relationships actually work to make and keep people content. Still, I received messages in droves from men who stated they were clearly looking for long-term relationships. Even when I pointed out the discrepancies to these would-be-suitors, I was told it didn’t matter. It doesn’t matter? What I think and want is so vastly different from what you want, but that doesn’t matter….

I think I’ve found a big part of the problem without intending it.

People (generally speaking of course) are very much self-absorbed. That’s the whole idea behind capitalism and the very principle this country demands. Each person worries about his or her self and when it comes to other, the attitude remands to “survival of the fittest.” In essence, what another person needs or wants is of no concern when it comes to your own happiness. We let others suffer so we can succeed. It’s the American way. Relationships haven’t seemed to escape that selfishness even though the idea is to form a union with your other half. The actions of partners are completely contradictory to the very fundamentals of the union they so readily joined. This self-absorption leads to fighting. Fighting leads to unhappiness. Communication breaks down. Boredom sets in, and then you find yourself surfing Plenty of Fish for the next available easy lay who won’t (maybe) get you in trouble with your spouse if you manage to sneak away long enough to get in a good screw.

Either that or you screw your spouse’s good friend.

I used to think those kinds of things only happened on soap operas, but my own friends have proven me wrong. If there’s less than 50,000 people in a tri-county area where I live, and I can count several instances of observing this occurrence within this area, then it must be a fairly common occurrence overall.

So, did we learn about love and the drama it entails from films and t.v. or did the film and t.v. pick up on common themes based on realistic events?

Tricky question, no?

Let’s look at some of my favorites. First, High Fidelity. Guy falls for girl. Guy and girl fight and grow bored. Guy cheats on girl while girl is pregnant. Girl ultimately leaves guy moves in with a pony-tailed, patchouli-scented asshole. Girl and guy reunite because they have nothing better to do.

Weird Science. Guys make woman in a garage like 2 little perverted Mary Shelley characters. Guys then ignore woman in favor of 2 bitchy girls from their school.

Almost Famous. Married guy in semi-famous band sleeps with underage girl. Girl falls in love. Guy ignores girl around his wife. Girl attempts suicide. Guy finds out wife is sleeping with his bandmate/friend. Guy attempts to make up with underage, suicidal girl.

Tommy: The Pinball Wizard. Man goes to war and is taken prisoner. Woman believes man is dead; remarries. Man returns home. Woman and new husband kill man. Witnessing child becomes deaf, blind, and dumb and is transformed into a pinball god. (They must have been seriously stoned).

That 70s show. Bossy, chatty girl dates moron. Moron cheats on her all the time. Bossy girl then dates scientologist, moron’s friend. Scientologist cheats but chatty girl takes him back then later cheats on him with moron. Chatty girl eventually dates creepy foreign kid who is also friends with moron and scientologist.

Music isn’t even safe from this theme. Take the lyrics to Old Man Markley’s song Do You Like You Do—a song featuring male and female vocals. She asks why he treats her like he does. He asks why she loves him like she does then explains, “I stay out all night ‘cause I know I can. Believe me when I say I’m not that loving kind of man.” Her reply? “Oh baby, I just can’t stay true. I got another boyfriend, too.” Now, I fully love this song, but the message is pretty clear just as it is with movies and television shows alike (and we didn’t even delve into the black pits of daytime soaps, reality television, and Beverly Hills, 90210).

In the end, I think it’s a little of both. I think media played on and intensified dramatic life events. People go from enemies to lovers before 2 hours have passed. People in the strangest circumstances fall in love and live happily ever after until one of them becomes sick with cancer and dies. But at some point, people love intensely and set our expectations for what love could (should) be at a high level. Real life can never compete. With capitalist ideals, we feel we each have an opportunity to be successful. We’ve grown to desire our lives to be meaningful; we feel life has no purpose unless it’s spontaneous, dramatic, and meaningful. Yet, most people fall into daily routines and ruts which vastly contrasts the type of life they crave. Media feeds into that. We want the kind of life we see play out before us on screen, and that is why monogamy and marriage fail more often than not. One or both of them will realize they’ve been living on auto-pilot with no concern for finding meaning or purpose other than being married and raising children (which can still be rewarding, but in this case, meaning delves deeper. The picture is larger). For those that actually don’t end in divorce, I think those people must give up on the big picture.

We’ve killed what love can be by putting boundaries and expectations on it. The media constantly reminds us of the love we’ll never really have, and every failed marriage just strengthens our resolve to find it. That’s why no one I know can sit down in a conversation and agree with the points I’ve made. Their eyes often betray the truth, but to admit it out loud would mean the end of their search for the one thing which can make them whole and finally bring them true happiness. And, it’s so much easier to find that happiness in someone else than to do some self-exploration and find it within themselves.

about me. not really.

dear you,

i don't talk about my child or being a mom. i don't talk about my garden. i won't mention my craftiness (often) or how much i save each week with coupons. if you're looking for that sort of thing, you're in the wrong place.

instead, let's abandon the tethers of domestication for a moment and remember what it's like to laugh at vulgarity and the world at large.

xo,

j

talk amongst ourselves


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