Song of the Day – 17/07/2017

Land of Talk is a band whose sound spoke to me at a personal level. From the grimier throwback rock of their early work to the more assured work on later albums, it was all put together on an underpinning of brooding emotional turmoil that threatened to come to the forefront at any moment. And the trajectory of their career, with tragedy lurking behind every triumph, was what every depressed person needs to assure themselves that it’s not worth the effort in the first place. Continue reading

Song (and Story) of the Day – 15/09/2016

I have always avoided silence more than the dark. The spaces I grew up in were safe enough, stable enough, that I knew with the certainty of consistency that nothing lurked in the shadows. There was no fear of the unknown keeping me up at night. The things in my head did that. Consequences of being an introvert, I suppose.

The silence was a void, an endless distance without the friction of distraction to slow my thoughts down, without fences to keep them from escaping. In the silence, my thoughts were not under my control, and they seemed to know it. Unchained, they picked up momentum until they were crashing around my head like a physical force, building and building toward a disorienting crescendo that left me reeling and dizzy.

So I knew what waited for me in the silence, and I looked for a way to keep it away. Continue reading

Song (and Story) of the Day – 12/06/2016

The last few weeks have not been fun.

(Inspired by my writing group’s current topic, “Loneliness.”)

Some days I wake up unable to move, and I can see him out of the corner of my eye, standing there. A shadow, a shape I can’t focus on. I can feel him as well, a warm spot in the room, his heartbeats like muted solar flares burning my skin. But I know it’s not him, not really. He isn’t here anymore.

In those waking nightmares, sometimes we can talk. And I know that’s not real, either. My mouth doesn’t move. I utter no words. But I can still hear his voice like a stinging salve. He tries to explain that it’s entropy. “If it’s not getting better, then it’s getting worse.” Life doesn’t stop, not for stubbed toes, not for scraped knees, not for death, and not for a broken heart.

And because it’s not real, because he’s not there, when I finally gasp and twitch, limbs my own again, I have to turn away and squeeze the tears out through closed eyes.

When I can open my eyes again, I see my copy of Hamlet hanging from the edge of the shelf on my wall. Propped there, held in place under the mass of the other books, it has been that way for months. But it won’t always be, can’t be, no matter how comfortable that spot feels. Eventually, it will fall, its peace betrayed by the endless vibrations of the world as it passes.

“When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions.”

I want to tell him, even his apparition, what it feels like. He was the one who listened, the one who would hear me now, when everyone else is gone. But he is gone, too. And on another soft-focus morning, milky light leaking through the cracks in the blinds, all I can think about is that I’ve never had an original thought in my life. Today I have lost another friend, had her disappear over the horizon of real life, and I hurt in ways that should exist outside of cliches. Something so personal, you should be able to describe it in your own words.

This pain is not the sudden, stabbing impact I felt when I heard the news about him, about the friend who haunts me, nor is it the blunted pull I felt when I read the note he left for me. Nothing so dramatic, so obvious a target to rail against. This was something softer, something more insidious. A sense of loss as the steady drain from a cut that will not scab over, will not heal.

And it’s somehow worse to consider that I might eventually get used to that, as well. Time doesn’t always heal the wound, but only masks it with more pain.

He told me once, in a rare playful mood, that Aristotle described time as the measure of motion, and of being moved. That memory created a fantasy in me, an imagined solution to an impossible problem, an answer that could only exist in a dream. “Nobody moves, nobody gets hurt.” Repeat the words as a mantra. A universe frozen in place from a collective decision to stop hurting. After that, the night terrors come with an extra sting, the split-second impression that maybe it could be true, it could work. If I lay still and try not to open my eyes, then it cannot get any worse.

“I understand why you did it,” I say to the phantom. The phantom who watches, arms dripping with regret. I understand, but I still hold onto my hope, clutching it as an anchor while it pulls me down. For whatever reason, it’s not in me to let go.

And one day the book falls, waking me from that dream of numbing stasis. And he’s not there anymore. The first and last to go, leaving me to live alone in my quiet world. I stare at the ceiling with the sound of the blood rushing in my ears and think about what might come next.



Song (and Story) of the Day – 11/05/2016

My grandmother had a mole like a brown barnacle clinging to the side of her chin, and from it grew a hair so long and wiry that any hug came with the serious risk of an eye injury. As long as I’d known her–which was just about my entire life then–this thing was a part of her face’s topography, as intrinsic a feature as the Rocky Mountains. And as a kid, I didn’t know what to make of it.

It didn’t help that she played it up. Once, she caught me sneaking a still-hot macaroon from her counter, and told me she’d known to walk in then because her feeler had sensed my mischievous intent. She also swore up and down that she could pick up the local AM station if she lay on her back and tilted her head at the right angle. I didn’t listen to the radio, so what could I do to dispute that?

My grandfather wasn’t much better, claiming the black tufts of hair crawling out his nostrils were able to sense oncoming storms. Though at the time I did find that a bit much coming from a man who never left the house without an umbrella.

Still, I’d been willing to believe in them the same way I wanted to believe in the Easter Bunny, or summer vacations that were fun and stress free from start to finish for everyone involved. When grandma lost her mole hair, and all the rest of the hair on her head, during chemo, when grandpa wandered into the street without his umbrella, or his shoes, or the memory of where he lived, reality tried to be exactly what the cynics had said it was.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t tell those stories to my own children. Or that I object when my father takes off his shoes and says he can tell how much snow we’ll get that winter by cracking the joints in his toes. He knows, just like I discovered, that we’re all making it up as we go.

Besides, now that I’ve lost all my own hair–as is the will of nature–I can claim I’ve become solar powered, and the kids don’t bother me while I nap in my chair by the window.

I should be listening to more music that is just happy. This entire album is wonderful, and mostly fits that description, but this has always been my favourite Miracle Fortress song. Simple and direct, because happiness isn’t complicated. Nor should it be.