The Misery Playlist

When I am feeling angsty, I enjoy making myself feel worse with sad music. I don’t know why. I think most normal people would choose upbeat music to bring them out of their funk.  But not me.  “I MUST LISTEN TO MUSIC THAT WILL MAKE ME MORE SAD.  DAVID BOWIE.  JEFF BUCKLEY.  RADIOHEAD.  LET THEM BE THE SOUNDTRACK TO MY TEARS.”

(Has Radiohead ever written a happy song? I’m pretty sure the answer is no.)

Back in the days of crushing (very unsuccessfully) over men, I had two playlists.  The first one was rather large in scope and included a decent assortment of both girl power and wallowing music.  Then there was a special playlist, which I dubbed the “Misery Playlist.”  It is what I would play whenever I was rejected and wanted to reinforce to myself that I would never find love, ever.

I’m kind of embarrassed of the Misery Playlist, just because it was so emo.  I’m pretty sure the Carpenters’ “I Say Goodbye to Love” was on it.  I wouldn’t put it past me to have Eric Carmen’s “All By Myself” on there, either.  I made the mistake of telling my brother of its existence, which meant that, naturally, he had to bring it up in front of Boyfriend, who was NOT SUPPOSED TO KNOW THAT THE MISERY PLAYLIST WAS EVER A THING.

I can’t quite say why, but it’s almost like I enjoyed my self-imposed suffering…that I was really FEELING and these songs SPOKE TO ME because THEY ARE ALL ALONE and I AM TOO.

One day I listened to Jeff Buckley all morning, and had his cover of the Smith’s “I Know It’s Over” on repeat. If you haven’t heard it, he somehow manages to make it even more depressing than the Smith’s version, which is quite an achievement (“How Soon is Now?” is another song that I would play to myself when I wanted to feel like I would be Forever Alone.)  I had been rejected by someone I had really, really liked, and I thought he’d liked me too.

When my mother called me that day during lunch, I started blubbering to her.  Listening to three or four hours straight of Jeff Buckley will put you in that mood.

My mother told me, in the kindest and most loving way that mothers know how, that I needed to woman up and not let a man make me break down like I was.

The pep talk worked.  I felt more energized, and when I went back inside to my cube, I picked more cheerful music.

Sometimes, picking a pensive song to match your mood is all you need to let the negative emotions out of your system.  And sometimes, you have to shake yourself, put Jeff Buckley on pause, and listen to something like this* instead:


*A permanent fixture on the hypothetical “Makes Me Instantly Happy” playlist


Something to Live By

Woosh. This morning started off rough.

As I got into work, I opened the tea I drink daily with my breakfast that my doctor told me not to drink anymore because it has too much sugar.  Each tea bottle has a little saying inside the cap, and I felt like this morning’s saying was a direct message from the universe:

What a humbling reminder.

Tuesday Night

I have not made a secret of the fact that my transition to this city was difficult.  I was lonely, isolated, and couldn’t ever see myself ever being happy.  This song (which is perfection, as far as I’m concerned) comforted me during some unhappy moments.  There’s the nostalgia element associated with it – my dad loves this song.  But more than that, the lyrics always made me think, especially, “Another year and then you’ll be happy, just one more year and then you’ll be happy.  But you’re crying, you’re crying now.”

That particular line always resonated with me.  I would be so happy if X happened, I told myself.  I had a list of things that I wanted to happen in my life.  And as I started crossing items off that list, I would always add another item to it.

As I listened to this song today, I thought, when will that end?  When will I stop thinking in the future?  Why can’t I enjoy the present instead of constantly thinking of new milestones that I must check off my list?  The things making me sad this morning are ephemeral. My puppy will sleep through the night and get potty-trained. I won’t always have to do field work.  I won’t always be separated from my friends and family.

My mood improved dramatically. I talked to my loved ones and felt bolstered by their support.  I went home at lunch to see my pup.  We cuddled, went for a walk, and played fetch.  We spent a lot of time together this evening.  He is a very good puppy and is adjusting much better today than he was yesterday (perhaps not having to get shots from the vet today has helped!) He is in his crate right now and (knocking heavily on wood) he is not crying right now, where at this time last night, he was.  He is still not completely fond of his crate, but his attitude towards it is improving every day.  I put a ticking clock on top of it so that it will soothe him to sleep.

I can’t live in the future. All I can do is appreciate the present, and be the best person I can be to the people who love me.

I should probably sleep, considering I didn’t get much of it last night.


You Gotta Be

March was kind of heavy.  That’s life, you know?

I know, I defied your expectations by posting something that wasn’t Foo Fighters/Beatles/Jeff Buckley.

I first heard this song when I was ten years old.  My parents were driving me to the school spelling bee – this had to be February or March 1995.  As I listened to the song and stared out the window, I had high expectations for myself. I imagined myself winning the spelling bee and then advancing to the city competitions.  I would be so smart.  Everyone would love me.

When it was time for me to spell, my word was “sentry” but I misspelled it as “centry.”  I was out in the very first round.

My dad came up to comfort me after I was dismissed from the spelling bee.  As I cried into his jacket, I thought of the song and how it perfectly represented my feelings of sadness and disappointment.  This is what it must feel like to be a woman.

Not really, ten-year-old self.

But even to this day, I still love this song because it recognizes that while life is good, there will be times when something brings you down. How you respond to these moments is entirely up to you.  You can face them with defeat or rise up to the challenge and meet them with a headstrong and optimistic attitude.

And no matter what, as long as you have the core group of people you love the most in your life, you’ll be okay.

Rock and Roll

On Saturday night, my friend had an open-mic night themed party. We had been anticipating it for weeks.  Of course, the only people who really performed were the core group who always performs, including me.  We performed so many songs I love -“Rainbow in the Dark,” “Cowboys From Hell,” fucking Led Zeppelin –

I felt so alive when I started doing the drum solo at the end.  I improv’d it; it was nowhere near as impressive as Bonham’s.  There are few times when I feel like a real drummer; but after that song, as I looked to my guitarist for a cue to hit the final crash beat, I did.  Someone commented that we all had an energy that they hadn’t seen in  performances at past parties, and I believe it.  Looking at your fellow performers and realizing they comprise a set of people you love the most in this world is an incredible feeling, and to say any more than that would cheapen the experience.

I will say that seeing partygoers mosh to “Cowboys From Hell” was fucking amazing.

I also busted the same knuckle twice as I flailed around the kit, so droplets of blood spilled all over my white stockings.  It felt pretty rock and roll.

It’s amazing how such a simple night can end up being one of the best in your life.

Four Years

January 14 will mark my four year anniversary of living in this city.

I really enjoy marking this anniversary because once upon a time, I was ready to leave it.  I think I’ve alluded here before that things were different then.  To be succinct without getting too personal,  I was incredibly lonely and was floating aimlessly. I didn’t know who I was or what I wanted out of life. I nearly gave up and returned to my hometown, which would have been the biggest mistake I could have ever made.

I stuck it out; I decided that in order to be happy, I needed a life and to do things that made me proud of myself.  I ran. I wrote. I went to concerts.  I played music.  Along the way, I picked up an amazing set of pals, pushed away the boundaries of my self-imposed comfort zone, made a lot of mistakes, had a number of embarrassing but mostly-hilarious misadventures, explored, lived.

This city changed my life.

I really started writing this entry because this new year has already witnessed many changes.  My brother, like me, decided to make this incredible city his home.  He is living with me until he gets on his feet, which means that he will be here anywhere from a couple of months to lord knows when.  It’s funny how quickly your reality changes; I went from coming home to a quiet apartment after my evening runs to Jimi Hendrix documentaries, guitar solos, and trashy reality shows.

When I moved here four years ago, the loneliness was so acute that I constantly daydreamed about what I wanted my life to be like.  Four years later, I look around my apartment and see my brother fast asleep on the couch.  Music posters adorn my walls, as well as pictures I’ve collected from my brief but amazing travels.  Musical instruments collect in the corner.  The running shoes that helped me run my first marathon sit on the floor.  I think of my plans for the weekend, involving family, meeting with friends, and something so lovely.

My intent is not a self-congratulatory post.  My life isn’t perfect. I still have so much to learn.  I am a woman but I still have so much growing to do.

But if I had a chance to talk to my lonely 23-year-old self, I’d tell her – keep daydreaming.  One day, it can become your reality.  You just have to try a little.

Saying Goodbye to 2011

First things first – after nine years of blogging, I have finally purchased my own domain.  You are now reading (yes, I just linked myself. Shut up).

Anyway, at the risk of sounding like an old lady, this year has flown by, has it not? 2010 and 2011 were years that I started living outside of my comfort zone, so I will always look back on these years with much fondness and happiness.  Without getting too personal, 2011, like any year, had its share of ups and a few downs.  It was a full year, and I can say with certainty that I lived it. The personal accomplishments I am most proud of are getting published and finishing a marathon, which were childhood dreams of mine.

I would say the biggest lesson of 2011 is embracing the messiness and chaos of life.  I can be overtly analytical and cerebral in the way I approach life, where each decision becomes like a science project.  I liked keeping every emotion and situation neatly in its place.  But I’ve learned that being spontaneous, going with my heart, and embracing the inherent messy glory of life is really living.

I do have goals for the new year (I refuse to call them resolutions) but am a little hesitant about posting them here. Maybe I will post a couple of them later.  Most of them are personal and rather boring, and others are just creative projects that I’d like to accomplish.

I have a feeling that new experiences are in store for 2012, and I cannot wait to see what will happen next.

Thank you for keeping me company on my adventures (and misadventures) this year.  I hope you all have a safe and happy New Year.  Please, please, please be careful and do not drive intoxicated.