The Amazing Power of Music

I read an article recently about the psychological effects of music, and how it affects your mood, and it occured to me how important music really is.

I listen to a lot of really, really depressing music, and I think that it’s starting to affect how I think. Part of me, deep down, loves it. I love sitting in my room listening to “u” and drinking whiskey in the dark. Now, seeing that written down, it seems kind of fucked up.

Maybe if I listen to “Happy” a million times a day, or start my mornings with “The Dreamer”, eventually I won’t be so angry at the world. I’m going to try that; only listening to upbeat, positive music for a month or two, and see if it does anything for me.

I don’t know why sad people love sad music so much. On paper, it doesn’t sound like it should help, but it does. I’m sure there’s some music psychologist who can show me case studies and peer-reviewed papers, but I’m not a scientist, I don’t know if I’d understand all that technical jargon and obscure psychology terms.

“Music is the new religion.” I read that in a Pitchfork interview, and it makes me think. I’ve definitely learned more about being a decent, well-rounded person from music than I have from church. Jay-Z taught me that financial freedom is our only hope, and that a loss ain’t a loss, it’s a lesson. Kendrick Lamar taught me that it’s okay to be afraid, it’s okay to think you don’t deserve what you’ve been given. Mac Miller taught me that it’s okay to feel things, and it’s okay to need help. What’s Jesus taught me?

The Circles EP: 3 Stages of a Bender

I’ve written before about how much I love Mac Miller, but I don’t see enough love for the 3-song EP he released right before “Swimming” came out, and that’s a damn shame. DJBooth has an incredible article about it, but I’d like to share my own thoughts on the individual songs. I’ve had my issues with drinking and the like, and one night, after a couple of glasses of Irish whiskey, I came to the conclusion that this EP feels like a bender: one of those nights where you say “fuck it” and get lost in the sauce, and  additionally, dealing with the consequences of overindulging.

Programs

 

Off to see the wizard, lead the picture
Me and liquor, evil mixture, demons clitter
Clean the whiskers, seeking Mr. Fisherman
Back on my shit again, doin’ my own dance

This is the point in the night where you say to people “I’m fine, go away, let me have fun, I’m feeling myself.” Right before you throw up on yourself. This is the part of the night where you know you’ve gone too far, where your vision is blurry, your thoughts are scattered, you’re not thinking clearly, but you still think you’re on top of the world. This is the point where you know you’ve had enough, but that little voice in your head says “You’re fine, let’s see how far we can go.” I’ve been there too many times, and it’s never a good thing, but in that brief moment of time before you pass out, you feel happy, and that’s scary. ‘Programs” is also the only song on the EP that I could see being played at a party, it’s a trap-flavored banger that goes super hard, if you’re too fucked up to listen to the lyrics.

Buttons

 

There’s a world going crazy outside
But let’s pretend that it’s alright
We keep pretending that it’s alright

“I’m hungover and tired and I regret everything, so I’m going to ignore everyone and recover.” This is when reality comes knocking. You wake up in pain, both physically and mentally. You think about all the stupid shit you did last night, and you get worried, thinking to yourself “What the fuck did I do last night? How did I get home? Why is there a full Domino’s pizza and a stuffed tiger in my bed?” Whenever I overindulge, I just want to disappear and ignore everyone, because I’m embarrassed that I let things get out of hand. This is the kind of soft, gentle piano music that I usually put on when I’m hungover, it’s quiet, it’s peaceful, it won’t cause my head to explode in agony, and that’s just what the doctor ordered after a night of poisoning my liver.

Small Worlds

Yeah, nine times out of ten I get it wrong
That’s why I wrote this song, told myself to hold on
I can feel my fingers slippin’, in a motherfuckin’ instant I’ll be gone
Do you want it all if it’s all mediocre?

I’m glad that this is the song that made the album, it’s about the moment when you stop hating yourself and get back to business, which is an essential theme in “Swimming” There was a time in my life when I routinely drank myself stupid, like “Snooki from The Jersey Shore” stupid, and I always hated myself after, but as I’ve grown up, I’ve cut back a bit, but there are still times where I overdo it, but now I think to myself “I’ve got to pull myself together and get back to work. I’ve done some stupid shit, but I’ll learn from it and grow.” As my body recuperates, I start to look for more upbeat, cheerful music to inspire me to actually be productive, and those John Mayer guitar licks are exactly what I need to go from “slacker on the couch” to “productive member of society”

In Search of Isolation

I don’t like people. I used to, but years of customer service have ruined whatever interest I had in meeting new people, and that’s a problem.

Maybe it’s just me, but I think people are getting worse. Maybe I’m biased, but I’ve dealt with way too many assholes lately for it to be a coincidence. Either that, or I’m slowly dying inside.

Whenever the world gets to be too much for me, I like to sit in my room and listen to my records. I know that being by yourself all the time isn’t the best for your mental health, but it’s much better for me than going outside.

I don’t know if my love of isolation will come back to bite me, I’m sure that it’s definitely strained my relationship with my friends and family, and it’s not exactly great for my dating life, but it’s something I desperately need to keep functioning.

Why is that? Why do I feel out of place, floating from one place to another like an errant cloud? Is there something wrong with me, and I just can’t see it? I used to love meeting new people and experiencing new things, but now it’s just a pain in the ass, and I’d rather spin up Malibu and write articles about nothing.

This post is getting heavy, so here’s a baby giraffe.

Dumbasses at Dunkin: Part Two

In today’s issue of Dumbasses at Dunkin, I’d like to share with you one of the interesting customers who makes my day a little less shitty, by being a piece of shit themselves.

First thing’s first, I should give a little context. Our bathroom’s been acting up lately, and since it’s the only one in the store, we’ve had some unhappy customers complain. Usually, they understand that the absence of a bathroom is not a big deal for the 5 minutes they spend in out store. Not this man.

This gentleman comes into the store, and immediately demands a bathroom. When I informed him of the bathroom situation, he became quite enraged, insisting that it is illegal to keep him from the out-of-order bathroom, ( spoiler alert: it’s not) and insisted I provide him access. Now, usually people understand that our bathroom is broken because they know how terribly the general public treats bathrooms they don’t have to clean, but this man was different.

After 5 minutes of trying to communicate to the gentleman that the only bathroom in the store was out of order, he exploded. He proceeded to go on a racially-charged rant about how the owner of the gas station was discriminating against him because he was Pakastani, which has probably happened before, so I tried to stay composed. After another round of arguement, the man told me that he would be calling the State House, and that we’d be shut down. Lovely.

He called them up, and I could slowly see his face fall as they presumably told him not only was this the wrong place to call, but that he didn’t have a case. As he hung up the phone, he turned to me and called me “Another one of those racist Brazilians” which is a fucking ridiculous sentance, since I’m about as white as you can be, and I don’t speak Portuguese. As Mr. Grumpypants left, he shouted that he would “Shut this place down, and sue the shit out of you! Just you wait!” Well, tick tock, I don’t have all day.

Mental Quicksand

Fear is quick sand. It’s a pair of cement shoes weighing you down. It pulls you down and envelopes you until there is no light, no escape, and no forward progress. You can fight as much as you want, but it will only drown you quicker. You see the world pass you by as you suffer in silence. You wish you could do something, but no matter what you do, no matter how close you get to the surface, you still drown. The only way to escape it is to accept it and let it take you.

There’s a Pixar movie called “Inside Out” that really made me think. Essentially, your emotions are anthropomorphized beings who work in your head, effecting how you perceive the world, with one emotion holding the wheel. Ever since I saw that movie, I’ve wondered which emotion of mine holds the proverbial wheel, is it anger, fear, sadness, joy? I’m torn between anger and fear. I’m angry because I have ridiculously high expectations of myself and everyone around me, and get upset when they don’t live up to my expectations. I’m angry because I’m an emotional punching bag for hundreds of assholes at my bullshit minimum-wage job. I’m angry because I could’ve been better and achieved everything I wanted. But I’m also scared of everything, which is probably why I’m miserable.

It shouldn’t be this hard. Why can’t I overcome my fear when so many others can? Do you think that a Russian Infantryman in Stalingrad wasn’t terrified? No, but he muscled through his fear and achieved his goal, or died trying. What the fuck is my excuse? I want to be better, but there is this mental brick wall that I keep running into preventing me from advancing, and nothing I do can penetrate it. I wonder what the future holds, if this is just a temporary setback, or if it’s the battle of a lifetime.

Persistence Is Key

“You don’t start out writing good stuff, you start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistance” Octavia E Butler

I ran into this quote recently, and it got me thinking. I don’t think my writing is good, I edit and re-edit, and completely erase parts I don’t like, only to wish I hadn’t minutes later. I’ve been in a bit of a creative rutt lately, I’ve still got ideas, but executing them has been harder than usual lately. Maybe I need to go outside more, maybe I need to switch up my routine, maybe I’ll bounce back in a couple weeks, I really don’t know. What I do know is that I’ll probably still make terrible blog posts, until I don’t. I’ve found that the posts I work really hard on don’t do as well as the posts I shotgun out in 20 minutes, so maybe I don’t know what “good” looks like.

I think about all the things I’ve quit at; soccer, baseball, my pre-law major, my philosophy major, my journalism minor, and I can’t help but wonder what life would’ve been like had I persevered. That Octavia Butler quote makes me think about the inevitable day that I quit writing, since I know that some day I’ll get a real job that keeps me busy enough that I won’t have time to write blog posts on my phone at work. I hope that I still have the time to write, it’s weirdly cathartic to bitch about things you don’t like on the internet for people you’ll never meet to read.

I’ve definitely improved my writing skills since I’ve started blogging, I don’t know if it’s been by much, but I can clearly see an improvement over even my first couple posts. Reading some of my early posts makes me want to go back and edit them and make them semi-decent, but part of me wants to keep them the way they are as a sort of time capsule of where I was at that point in my life, even though it was only a couple months ago.