’til you.

This may be my anthem.

I’ve realized I’ve been spinning my own wheels, filling the time with people and things that are merely illusory and filler. I can’t deny the desire for something deeper. I am holding out for the man that delivers it.

I do believe that my timeline is completely out of my hands and when I least suspect love, it will smack me in the face and wake me up from this slumber.

In the meantime, I challenge myself to make space for love within myself. Within my life. Within my own mind and heart.

There’s a part of me that feels ready and yet unprepared for Him. And I’m not talking about God, as in the religious usage of capitalizing Him. Him is this amorphous, undefined man who I will be with.

There were too many times where I said, “Ohh…Alright…” and felt nothingness. I felt empty. I was quite literally going through motions. And feeling nothing.

As I knew I would, I hit that wall and realized that I can’t just be with people for the sake of being with people so I’m not alone. I felt like I was not only forcing people into a bad situation where I expected too much, I was forcing myself to move on and be in a constant state of perpetual motion when it came to men.

I’m ready to slow down. I’m ready to get back to that place of being happy with or without. And while I haven’t really left that space, it’s been more backburner as of late. I’ve been spinning plates in the air again.

It’s time for a bit of a break. And this time my actions need to reflect that intent. I need to just stand still. And soak in the goodness of everything and everyone else without trying.

This song resonates because it came at a point where I had started to believe that meeting a man and settling into a long-term relationship was never going to happen. Perhaps I was just going to be single and have a career that I enjoyed, rather than a satisfying relationship. And it’s not terrible if that’s how my life plays out.

But I obviously want Him in my life.

And the song gives me hope. That I will be spinning my wheels. That I will kiss a lot of frogs before I find my prince. That patience is everything. That focusing less on today and just being aware of myself in the grander scheme will give me a better perspective of how receptive I am to someone walking into my life. I acknowledge how distant I can be and that’s my lesson for today. Stop staring at the ground, stop putting a scowl on my face. Take my headphones out more often. Be open. Be present. Listen and observe. Don’t go into isolation mode. Dwell in the communal.

And to know that I never know when He’s going to enter from stage right (or stage left).

There’s a certain magic to that uknowingness too.

 

Nugget of wisdom on relationships.

Oh, Alanis. Despite your last album being so-so (although the bonus tracks? STELLAR), you still impart so much wisdom upon me wherever I’m at in my life. And this resonated loudly this rainy, Sunday morning.

Trauma happens in relationships, so it can only be healed in relationships. Art can’t provide healing. It can be cathartic and therapeutic but a relationship is a three-part journey. First there’s infatuation, then there’s conflict – the part where most people jump ship. The third part is becoming an active participant in your partner’s feelings, and that’s the method to the madness.

I guess the point is that I can’t avoid relationships to try to heal from relationships. It’s so much to navigate and try to figure out what is the best methodology for me to go about setting the bone and letting the wound breath.

Also a reminder that sitting and stewing and writing blog posts or drawing with charcoals or reading books about spiritual growth will never substitute the desire and need to be loved and to love.

So there’s that. “Namaste,” as some might say.

‘Havoc’ falls short, not nearly as bright

“Alanis,” I usually respond. I find that I seem to ask the question a lot on first dates, “Which artist or band do you first remember actually paying attention to the lyrics and discovering that music could mean something?” I know, heady first date material. Of course, I get great answers. So when asked in rebuttal, my response is, as mentioned, “Alanis.”

There’s always been something about the lyrical quality of Alanis Morissette’s writing that has felt invasive, permeating my strongly built walls of protection in saying things that I felt, but didn’t have the guts to say or own even internally. But the emotional hooks were put in place and as she began to write about these moments of self-awareness through the lens of her relationships with people, I, too, felt a sense of ownership of not only my feelings, but the reactionary nature of them.

Alanis has been sort of a guidepost for me in terms of life changes. Being a few years older, each album has served as a benchmark of my own evolution, whether it be in terms of relationships (intimate or not), self-care, self-discipline or just awareness of the world outside me. And because this knowledge came as a secondary lesson from the actual story within the songs themselves, they’re completely relatable – whether you got the lesson at the time or not.

There have been plenty of times where I don’t connect with what the song is saying or about and five years later I return to know exactly what the intention was and the place it came from. Again, just a road map of places you’ve been or places you know to watch out for in the future.

However, it seems that perhaps Alanis has taken a turn on the course of life that I am either unable to relate to at the moment or has become more concerned with the lesson giving than the revelation of the lesson itself.

Her new album Havoc and Bright Lights feels like a step backward musically and a fumbled attempt lyrically.

As a new wife and mother, her life has changed in many capacities that I – as a gay man – can no longer relate to. But again, it doesn’t prevent me from trying to lift the lesson out of it.

But perhaps the problem is that it all feels too self-help. And being Alanis, I know going in that it’s going to be heavy on the Debbie Ford psycho babble, which I can abide by up to a certain degree. But the problem with this album is that it’s musically not interesting enough to lift the lyrical components up and it all feels a bit empty as a result.

The moments you can discern Guy Sigsworth’s brilliance are delicious. But then there’s the glossy production of ‘live band’ laid atop Sigsworth’s sonic creations that leaves the songs feeling inconsistent and never truly strong enough to stand on their own for repeat listens.

“Guardian,” the first single, leaves no lasting impression and doesn’t sound new in the catalog of Morissette thus far. “Woman Down,” while more catchy, again feels like something from Feast On Scraps.

“Til You” is one of the few songs I found endearing and fresh. While the sweeping, sonic ballad is nothing new for her, when Alanis does them right – they’re pretty superb.

Then comes “Celebrity,” which is a disjointed affair that attempts to blend too many sounds and flavors in one song. It’s a mashup basically of “Moratorium” and “Would Not Come,” without reaching the level of either.

If it’s not evident that this album is all self-help, the song titles themselves should give it away. Like with “Empathy,” which is a bumbling lyrical mess. This could be a throwaway album track on a Natalie Merchant track from 1999. So it’s not terrible, but it’s not what I expect of Alanis.

“Lens” is probably the most Jagged Little Pill-esque track and has a chorus that is catchy enough to be put on repeat. It’s just another track – like most – that feels like it’s been done before on a previous effort and probably with greater success. The entire album does come across as the pt. 2 of So Called Chaos. For better or worse.

“Spiral” is a non-descript 90s female empowerment type of song that bears no more commentary. “Numb” at least counters it with a more interesting production.

Then there’s the terrible “Havoc,” which any Alanis fan will remember as a song called, “Not All Me,” a melody not that terribly great to begin with.

“Win and win” is another eastern-tinged track that promises something but doesn’t quite rev up enough to deliver. It’s a lilting affair at best, but not one of the worst tracks on the album. “Receive” is another track where I ask myself, “Was I supposed to by an accompanying self-help book in order to relate to this?”

The only other standout track for me on the album is the closing number, “Edge of Evolution,” which clearly has Sigsworth all over it. But it’s also something we’ve never really heard from Alanis before, with this melodic pattern and stuttering drums. Finally we get a slow-build and a chorus that delivers. Many seems to loathe this track and perhaps my attachment to it is because of my love for Flavors of Entanglement, with this track being the closest evolution – so to speak – of that cosmic sound working well with the live band production. My only complaint is that the vocals feel so background to the track itself, as though there isn’t a strong enough lead vocal.

Maybe the lesson here is that my own story is no longer going to mirror any of the storytellers of my youth. That my own narrative is going to be uniquely my own and that the lessons are no longer coming from this faucet. But the ride thus far has been good and perhaps it’s just a matter of time for me to have to come back to have a better appreciation for this sound and the lyrical content.

But until then, I’ll return to one of my favorite tracks that is totally rooted in self-help but somehow blends it into a song that I find completely relatable. And a reminder that it’s always about the journey toward total self-acceptance and being whole:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6kLbDHu0yc

You oughta know.

Yeah, this sums up the kiss-off and the honesty that I finally copped to that you can’t lay waste to someone and then just keep waltzing back in without a care in the world, without any pretense of actually making amends or being aware of the mess you created.

It was time that you knew. And it’s time that you stop being so cavalier with the mess that was left.

However, I’m utterly thankful for the gifts I’ve lifted out of all of this, the phoenix that rose from the ash. I had to be broken in order to be set straight for others. But while I carry that gratitude, I also carry the heaviness of the knowledge you’ll forever affect me. And that’s why I ask for complete disconnection. Because you’re so unaware of how it all affects me and it’s my fault for not saying this sooner.

As I’ve said before, we all play the hero and villain from time to time. It just depends on who gets to tell the story.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7EPLb4KYpck

The weirdest and yet best compliment.

A friend said the funniest thing to me:

“That…exchange was like reading the extra verses of ‘Unsent.’

It’s funny (and sad) because it’s true. It’s funny to watch this and consider how I’ve played nearly all the parts and those I haven’t, how one day I inevitably will.

The fact of the matter is that there are less parts of myself that I feel overprotective of and less shameful in sharing with others. Daring and bold vulnerability is beautiful to me and what I seek in another and the bar to which I hold myself to jump over.

As a good friend said, “The amount of awkwardness and mild sexual tension.” It’s how I’d sum up my entire (dating) life and what I may engrave on my headstone.

I’m proud of myself for actually SAYING more when I speak and being more clear and direct in how I deal with what can be uncomfortable conversations. Therapy has helped me see the crystal clear precision in truth and how its application does nothing but free you from doubt, worry, and self-loathing.

It’s about trust.

God love Ellen. For being sane as equally crazy as me and understanding each moment that I call her up about for dissection and understanding. It’s such a testament that true, real friends are a gift and that they need to be treasured because it’s rare you’ll stumble upon someone who completely gets you, can disagree with you, want to shake you until you make sense and still be by your side regardless of all the dumb shit you do or say that may even hurt them.

I met Ellen in the fall of 2006 and it’s like we’ve known each other an entire lifetime. It’s been almost six years. I know as she reads this (or doesn’t – because chasing a daughter around the house is very time consuming and it’s delightful to even say that), she’s going, “WHAT!? 6 years!?”

Continue reading It’s about trust.

at that particular time

Weird when some songs just return to you when you need them. There hasn’t been a day that’s gone by where I don’t think about him. Miss him. Want to call him. Want to send a letter.

But I know that this space is crucial for everyone. If it’s meant to be, it’ll be. And if it’s not, then I’m still thrilled for the opportunity to feel the way I felt.

Check out more amazing photography by Robby Cavanaugh.

How about not equating death with stopping?

Alanis inspires my next train outfit on the CTA

In 1998, I was a sophomore in high school, meaning I was 15 or so at the time. By that point I was on board the Alanis bandwagon, not merely because of the enormity of her popularity, but I think she was one of the first people I really went, “I feel what you are writing/saying/singing is printed on my skin.” Since that first album, I’ve pretty much followed her career stalwartly through the hits and the flops and everything that didn’t even warrant being put into either of those categories.

Continue reading How about not equating death with stopping?

This is a story about control…

So I’ve started reading this book and I would say even in the last couple of days, it’s been pretty helpful. However, I had to laugh at the part when it said that most people deal with their anxiety in secret and it asked me to make a list of close friends or relatives who do not know about my panic attacks. Well, guess what – if you read this blog or I talk to you in any capacity, you know that I have panic attacks and that I am in the process of overcoming my anxiety.

Another interesting tidbit about all this is that your symptoms can change and evolve over time so you may never have the same symptoms, but the same cycle is happening to you. My first appointment is next Tuesday and I’m looking forward to discussing my specific anxiety qualms, which mostly stems from hypochondria and the feeling that I have some terminal illness or that I’m going to die or that I’m going crazy (all of which are terribly popular thoughts apparently amongst folks who deal with anxiety and panic attacks). When they started, I had more neck pain, then I moved on to tingling sensation in my arms and chest pain, now I’ve noticed I have more headaches and tightness in my jaw which is a sign that I’m constricting muscles.

Continue reading This is a story about control…