YEARS OF HIATUS

I noticed that there was a thing going around this week asking people to list the Top Ten Albums that helped shape their teen years. Immediately, I thought to post something snarky about it but found something much better than I could have written. So instead, I sat there and tried to think about the music I was listening to from age thirteen to eighteen. Doing this kind of thinking willingly at the age of thirty-one will inevitably send you down a rabbit hole of existential dread. A few clicks on the calculator and suddenly the room felt so much smaller. It’s been thirteen years since I was eighteen. Worse, I was thirteen in 1997, the same year that OK Computer was released. It’s unfair that an album like that should be released when someone is busy being a stupid sixth grader.

People will remind you, of course, that being in your thirties does not in fact mean you are old. People’s definition of old ranges from being gray and fragile to not having your looks anymore. Sometimes it means you are too old for something, which I usually dismiss. It’s all subjective. Under my definition, I’ve been old since I was sixteen. It’s not being old that bothers me. Doing the math just brought back into mind what I consider my years of hiatus.

I re-shared my first post in a thread yesterday to help circulate this blog (I’m fine calling it a blog now). In this post I referenced “the day I stood on a small wood bridge in the middle of nowhere and decided I wanted to be a professional writer.” I had already been out of high school a few years and was wondering if I still wanted to illustrate professionally some day. During a road trip with friends, I carried a nagging feeling across several state lines. We had set up our tent in a public campground and I stood on a small wooden step-bridge watching the sun set. That feeling was the urge to write. To write what I was thinking, what I was feeling. To write anything, everything. That was my epiphany moment.

That’s all well and good if this was the intro to a How To Write book being used in a creative writing class. Instead of being a new beginning this moment is where I consider my hiatus to have begun. It’s been almost ten years and what is missing is the work. I knew what I wanted to do but never bothered taking more than the first steps before standing still. There are more things I felt that I put on hold but this is really not the place for that.

My attitude toward what you are supposed to do with your life probably differs greatly from the next person. Still, it’s difficult not thinking about where I am for thirty-one and I were I would like to be. The years of hiatus were still filled with wonderful and meaningful moments. You can’t put your life on pause, it continues on even if you are not paying attention. It’s just a shame to look back at the amount of time you weren’t doing what you wanted to do be doing. It’ll do you a whole lot of good if you decide to finally stop looking back and just look forward. “You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep rereading the last one,” I read on some Pinterest inspiration board.

“It’s never too late to begin if you don’t plan to die soon.”

I don’t know if I read that somewhere but it popped in my head. Put that one on a Pinterest inspiration board.

So anyway, the Top Ten Albums of my teen years were a mix of punk, emo and indie bands. Some stood the test of time, others didn’t. Some of my favorite albums from my teen years were actually from the eighties. I listened to The Queen is Dead during the summer before senior year. It came out in 1986, but I didn’t know about it. I was too busy being a stupid two-year old.

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CUBES IN THE SKY

Today I decided to write offline but I still wanted to share something.

It appears that this site is magic. I wrote about Slowdive six days ago and today, the band released their first new song in twenty-two years. Of course I have nothing to do with that but I’ll accept your thanks anyway. The track is great. Where I spoke about their sleepiness, “Star Roving” is very much awake. It’s still moving around in the dark but there is so much light shining through.  It puts me in a good, optimistic mood. Also, is there a way to turn their new video into a screen saver? Fitting the theme I subscribed them to, it features a transparent cube spinning and shifting endlessly in space. I’ve been playing it on my secondary monitor at work all day.

This site is two weeks old now. I’m already getting a feel for posting regularly but want to allow myself to just write what’s on my mind at the moment and not necessarily “blog” the events of the day. Things may get even more random than they already are. Another important thing that needs to start happening is longer reads. Maybe I’ll give in to that voice in my head and start a weekly column. We’ll see.

WANDER

A few days of rains and you can really forget how much people have been praying for it the last few years. It would appear that California is back to the winters I remember as a kid but a quick look at any scientific data would make you laugh at that statement. Still, I’ve welcomed the rain back and even got caught walking when it started to rain for the first time in, god only knows how long. I’ve started taking walks up the hill during lunch again. There is a path through a very small forest area. The trees are very tall and today it appears they had to cut some down for fear of them falling over due to the wind. I hate seeing trees cut down which is funny for a writer. Fire wood doesn’t bother me because it’s so broken down that I don’t think of it as part of a tree, as if wood came from anywhere else.

As I walked that forest path, I played Jay Som’s album, Turn Into, through my headphones. I just discovered the album today which is another good reason I never posted a Best Albums of 2016 list; there was so much I still hadn’t listened to. It’s a great album with melodies that make you want to slowly bob your head with your eyes closed. Gray days are made for echoing guitars. Days like this always remind me of the December I first got really into The Cure.

As I’ve said, music is something I will talk about at great lengths. My brother and I have had the same conversation a thousand times about how incredible love songs were in the 80s (and how ridiculous 80s culture was). There were hooks in some pop/new wave songs that you just would not hear these days. And somehow, all these skinny, awkward nerds all had at least one soul-altering song in them.  Some of the best songs I’ve ever heard would just be written off as “80s music” these days. “Don’t Dream It’s Over” or “True” were the songs they would play at the prom while streamers hung high above the glossy gymnasium floors but they are fantastic. Even when songs were not particularly well sung, like these two, the melodies would be so damn good that it didn’t really matter. Then on the other end of the spectrum, there was The Smiths, who are my favorite band of all time (It took me three decades to decide that and it’d take me too long to explain how I finally came to the conclusion).

I had no idea what to write about today as you can tell. My mind wanders when I hear guitars echoing or chiming.


 

FLOATING IN SPACE

I listen to Slowdive’s Souvlaki album to help me sleep. That is meant as a very sincere compliment. I’ve never been someone who could fall asleep just because it was time to. Most nights I browse something on my phone, read or listen to a podcast until I start to power down. Sometimes, the sleep catches me off guard and I’ll fall asleep on the couch with the TV on. Then there are the times when I make the decision to not entertain any more thoughts or be the audience to anything for the rest of the night. This is when I will play Souvlaki on my headphones. Maybe it’s some sort of extreme Pavlovian Conditioning at this point, but if I’m in bed, the opening chords of “Alison” will immediately cause my mind to let go and dissipate into a dark cloud. If I somehow make it through “Machine Gun,” then I will definitely be out before “40 days” is over.

I suggest you try drifting off to it sometime. It’s a wonderful shoegazer album that’s great to listen to at any time but I love the fact that there is no other album that has filled my head while I’ve been asleep as much as this one. My subconscious knows this album better than my waking self.

Before I started using the Headspace app for guided meditation, I would listen to Radiohead’s “Treefingers” on repeat. This Kid A track can barely be considered a song as it’s nothing but ethereal droning and humming. Bells and chimes sparsely twinkle in the background. It sounds like floating in space even though it’s title is probably a reference to branches. There were many times where I would concentrate on my breath as this track just existed around me. Fifteen minutes or so later, I’d open my eyes realizing I was still on the ground. Now after listening to a guided meditation session on Headspace, I’ll listen to the “Interspace” interlude on STRFKR’s Being No One, Going Nowhere. This track sounds like it’s landing on the planet that “Treefingers” was orbiting. Broadcasting over the beeps and boops, Alan Watts delivers a version of his famous quote, “You are that vast thing you see far off, far off with great telescopes.”

Sometimes after having an anxiety attack, I’ll listening to the opening track of Ladies and Gentlemen, We are Floating in Space on repeat. There is something so beautiful and yet so sad about that track. I’m not even a big fan of the rest of the album. You never know why certain songs will mean as much to you as they do.

I used to think that there was a clear theme in what I found peaceful. The idea of floating in space, completely detached and inseparably connected to everything at once. One of the songs on that Slowdive album is  called “Souvlaki Space Station.” I thought that maybe the album was named after the plans of some Russian space station that never made it into orbit during The Great Space Race.

It wasn’t. Souvlaki is a Greek meat skewer.

Screenshot. Night Sky 4 app.