Rye Meetings

Music

I burned myself a few weeks back. The burn was on my forearm. It was small and linear, because I met the side of a cookie sheet. I was making cookies. Not homemade cookies, just some pre-made dough you pull out of the fridge.

Usually, I don’t think twice about burns. I only noticed it when I realized a nearby scar from my senior year had just about faded into my regular complexion.

Scars take a while to fade on my skin, but I don’t really care about marks on my body. I tried to cut my wrists when I was younger — being a suicidal teenager and all. But I could never do it. I’d start, and then I’d get freaked out about the sensation. At that point in my life, I didn’t want help. I wanted people to know I hated myself with a passion. I wanted people to know I felt repulsive. And I still feel the same way now, repulsive. Medication dulls that feeling, though. Medication enables me to feel a lot more than just hate (or at least make it easier to feel something, anything positive), even if hate is an underlying emotion.

The mark from my senior year is the one time I successfully did mark myself for people to see. In short, I felt stupid, numb, and worthless. So I took the end of a wooden pencil where the eraser gone — only the metal ring was left on the end. I took that end of the pencil and started scraping the skin on my forearm. It wasn’t until my friend noticed and grabbed my hands that I stopped. By then I had already scraped off enough skin to show the pink of my flesh.

It could’ve been a larger mark — it only took up a couple of centimeters. And it might’ve been a larger mark, but I didn’t really care about that then. I only noticed the size of the scar now because my burn was half that size and in the opposite direction.

Years later, part of me still wants to burn and mark myself on purpose. Part of me always wants a distinguished scar or scab there on my forearm. But doing that now, no attention will come of it. Adults generally keep to themselves. I’m no teenager under the microscope with teachers watching my every move, making note of success and social deviance.

I guess it’s enough now to know and accept that that feeling will always reside within me. The majority of my being sees little point in marking myself like that.

That’s progress.

. . .

''...How do I look?''

— Faded by Homeshake

#ContentWarning #Personal #Music #Monologue

It's one thing to enjoy a song, and then it's another to hear that same song again and have everything click.

It's an odd serendipitous feeling of being exposed and recognized by a higher something — to be called out by a voice (you quite often) don't know personally.

It's never a slow realization.

It's always a faint tap on my shoulder. And as I turn around to see who or what tapped my shoulder, I get punched by the spiteful being that got my attention.

And it growls,                   “Don't you dare look back.”

And, at that moment, I understand that if I look back, I'll get punched again.

Sometimes I listen to them, let the music sink in, and stay in the moment. But sometimes I run toward what got me to turn around in the first place. Haphazardly staggering to connect the dots of my past into a story that so happens to parallel what I'm listening to.

I want to know — how did they know that this was the right time to get my attention?

But before I get too close to this creature, they vanish. And their laugh echoes all around.

I looked back.

Part of me is satisfied to connect dots in my life, even if for a second. But there is another part of me that is left uncomfortable and gnawed at.

Why can't I look back?

The only possible reason I've come to is this: There is a horrible, cruel, spiteful part of me is self-aware of my entire life's story, every possible outcome, choice. And that part just wants to see me struggle and suffer in trying to make sense of its sudden attention.

Because why entertain the idiot?

#Music #Personal #Monologue

I first heard this song while I was working one weekend.

This is one of those droning songs you can bob your head to and bounce your sole to. A good bassline in sync with drums always makes me smile a little too. I tried listening to more of their work, but I wasn't really intrigued. I imagine though I'll come back to their music in a few years' time and enjoy the majority of it — or at least come to appreciate it.

I can't say much else besides I love the fact that it's buoyant while being vacant in delivery. That's a feeling I'm well-acquainted with.

“I'm no longer alone I don't sit on my own Still there's the echo of laughter”

#Music #SongFeature

This doesn't really mean anything nowadays, but this song was a part of the first album I bought with my own money from my first job. I always heard my mom, and other adult people in my life talk about the first DVD they bought, the first cassette they bought, the first PlayStation game they bought, etc. And how they associated certain feelings and memories with said firsts.

The way they talked about these firsts reminded me of how I thought my first kiss or my first time would be like. Since I really couldn't control the timing of either of those, needing another human and being an awkward teenager and all, I knew I was able to control my first album. And I decided it was going to be special. I wanted to support an artist or artists I believed in and loved whole-heartedly. I didn't want my first album to be a random pop artist who I'd forget about 10, 20 years later and only remember when they came on the “Oldies” station. I wanted it to be an artist that meant something to me, or at least their music meant something to me. So that's what I did.

I actually remember waiting for it to come out and then buying it as soon as my paycheck hit that week. It feels surreal to think about it now, years later.

After it finished downloading on my phone, I remember taking a long deep breath. I needed to prepare myself for possible disappointment before I hit play. I laid down on my bed closed my eyes. Having run out of weird spur-of-the-moment rituals to complete, I hit play. I heard the opening notes to “And That, Too” on my three-dollar earbuds, and I don't think I've ever experienced anything so achingly perfect in my life since then.

#Music

I had a balls-to-the-wall stressful day at work today.

But my day started nicely, and now it's ending nicely as well.

It started out with good music, which is always awesome.

The music system for our store had just booted up. My co-worker was getting the store set up, and I walked up to the counter to grab things for the day. We usually shoot the shit while we get the store ready, but the original version of this song came on.

My co-worker, who's close to 9 to 10 years older than me, started humming the lyrics. I joined in as soon as I recognized the lyrics. Her eyes had that flicker of “Oh?” when she saw me hum with her — Then we started singing together and dancing. And then my other co-worker walked up and joined in too. We all had a fun few minutes of dancing, shaking our asses, and just being free.

She was surprised I even knew the song after.

“You must've been a baby kindergartener when this song was out! I was in middle school.”

“I probably was. I actually first heard this song through a bluegrass cover, when I was younger.”

“Ohhh, okay. I see.”

My other co-worker chirped in to affirm that she's heard of the cover I was talking about.

I have almost always gotten along with kids and people older than me. I say kids now, but honestly, I just mean any late-20-something, which is a millennial. And I usually blend in with this generation until historic moments are brought up like Y2K, 9/11, etc. With shit like that I mention, I was seven months, two years old, and so on, and the game is over. I'm singled out as an outside baby amongst these big bag oldies. And it remains that way until the conversation's reset.

(The only time I really get a chuckle out of poking fun at me and a friend's age difference is when Smells Like Teen Spirit comes on, and I let them know I was -8 years old when that came out. Their eyes widening and seeing me as not even a li'l embryo during that time — That's fucking hilarious.)

It felt nice to know that we shared that bit of culture together, even if through a slightly different messenger. It's nice pleasantly surprising people that you share something with them.

I loved starting my day with that.

#Personal #Music #SongFeature

Dimlite – Sun-Sized Twinkles

During my freshman and sophomore years of high school, one of my favorite ways to digest music was to listen to BBC's Radio 1 Essential Mixes. I'd find an artist that sounded interesting, or who I vaguely knew of, and listened to their two-hour set. I'd be doing my schoolwork, going on a walk, staring at the wall, and these would play in the background.

I remembered these mixes this weekend while I was cleaning, and was curious if they'd still strike the same chord with me as it did then. I put on Flying Lotus' mix. I actually didn't finish the mix, because I remembered how much I love this song.

This song touches the part of my soul that always has a raincloud over it. This song is sad, dark, and lonely. But the loneliness it evokes is also very peaceful at times, in a sort of reductive, insular way. It makes me understand that I'm not so much trapped in life as I am someone that tests the bounds of what living is. I can be trapped in my illness, in this vessel that was forced on me or I can make the most of this mass of particles that is “me” since there is nothing else I can truly claim or control.

I'm not really one for strictly categorizing music by genre, but I think this would be considered part of the noise genre? I've never been able to get into noise music from everything I've heard, but music that toes the line of noise? I'm all about that — Extracting beauty out of chaos, but still honoring its chaotic nature.

I've looked nearly everywhere I could think of for lyrics to this song. I'm able to understand a little bit of what's sung. I like knowing the lyrics to the songs I listen to on repeat because it helps me understand the emotion behind it and frame it in the context of my life better. I don't like guessing the lyrics, it almost feels like guessing the meaning to a poem — even though that's what makes music and poetry fun sometimes.

Since no other place I've found has the lyrics for this song, I'm going to post what I am able to decipher, as I decipher it here. Hopefully, this provides some clarity to those looking for it. Over time, if I realize I heard something wrong or understand what was sung better, I'll edit these lyrics below.

Anyways, this is what I've always been able to decipher. And without the name of the song I doubt I would've figured it out:

Blinded by twinkles, the size of the sun They're smiling-sized twinkles, my soul's on the run

#Music #SongFeature #Monologue

“Daddy, I have a cool idea for a story.”

“What is it?”

“So you know how people live in shacks and it's just one room?”

“Yeah.”

“Well, I want to write a story about a homeless girl who can't find a place to stay, so she finds an empty garbage can, cleans it, and makes a home out of it with electricity and everything! She has friends, and she goes to see them but each time she sees them she's a little bit different and that's 'cause the garbage can is eating her soul, and she's transforming into garbage.”

“That's... very dark, sweetie.”

“Dark?”

“It's very... macabre.”

“Maca... what?”

“Y'know, like relating to death.”

“Oh...”

I stopped walking with him and looked at my feet. Thinking about what was wrong with what I said. I looked up and around and saw a few other people near us eyeing me through their peripheral. I was 10 or so and lost sense of my “inside voice” when I was excited. I guess I couldn't talk about my stories in the grocery store anymore.

Not too long after this, he gave me my first MP3 player and a pair of earphones. It was an all-black ZEN X-Fi Style. I used that thing every day and night until it broke.

I have a wide array of artists that I've come to listen to since my MP3 days, but I rarely really listen to the whole gamut of genres I like within a short period. Rather, I go through cycles with each genre or artists, spending days to months listening to songs and albums on repeat and discovering new ones. I've circled back to the Pixies recently. I was listening to Ed Is Dead, actually. Earlier today, it clicked in my head that their songs have a tendency to be pretty morbid or wild. I've always understood that about them, but I had never thought about this in the context of my transition into adolescence.

I'd like to think my father was conscious in steering me toward the Pixies. Even though I wouldn't understand some lyrics and themes in their music until I was much older, I'd like to think he nudged me toward them in hopes I'd identify with their storytelling and morbid imagery.

I'd like to give my dad the benefit of the doubt too because I often think back to when I told him I was suicidal for the first time. It had to be at least the third mental breakdown of my sophomore year. I missed the bus home because I fell apart not being able to complete all of an assignment on time because for a reason I can't recall. Because of this, he had to pick me up and leave work early. I know he'd be upset because he didn't like us interrupting his workday. He was a single dad with four kids and a dog to support. I was scared he'd be angry.

I sat talking out all my feelings with my school's high school counselor in her office. I did my late work while she called my dad to pick me up. She wanted to talk with him about my frequent breakdowns. I was not part of their talk.

The walk to his car was quiet, and it was quiet for most of the ride home.

“Dad, I want to die,” I whispered. My head was against the window, but in my peripheral, I could see him turn his head slightly toward me.

“Sweetie, what you're feeling — all teenagers go through this. You'll be okay.”

I wanted to say, “But dad...” and tell him I'd felt this way for a long time since I was little little and playing with dolls. But no parent wants to hear that. But maybe he was right. I was 14. Maybe all this would go away, eventually.

The optimist in me wants to believe that every suicidal person gets to a point eventually of, “Suicide is not an option.” But that's not how people work.

I'd like to think he consciously raised me to seek solace in music. But even if he didn't, who knows where I'd be without the Pixies. I can't say that I've ever listened to any of their songs while I was on the brink of trying to decide my fate, but they are featured one way or another throughout the soundtrack of my life. They are the unmoving pillar of my music foundation.

I remember talking with someone a few years back. I think it might've been a co-worker or a regular customer; I don't remember exactly. We were talking music. I'm not one of those people that's huge into music history and culture, seeing as how I never really fit into any group or culture anyway.

We were talking about alt-rock bands in 80s and 90s. I mentioned my love for the Pixies. The person I was talking with didn't really care for them. I wasn't offended, but me being curious, I asked why.

“I just don't. They're weird.” “Everyone's weird.” “Yeah, but they're weird.”

I remember raising and scrunching my eyebrows, trying to understand what they really meant. I shrugged it off, and we started talking about something else. I still tried to pin down what they thought was weird in my head.

Suffice to say, I get it now. . . .

“Cease to resist, giving my goodbye Drive my car into the ocean You think I'm dead, but I sail away On a wave of mutilation”

#Monologue #Personal #Music

Gábor Szabó – Galatea's Guitar

Listened to this whole album for the first time tonight. This is honestly just what I needed.

I think I've heard other songs by him before. I listen to jazz periodically. It's one of my favorite genres, if not my favorite genre. I'd love to have a wider selection of favorite jazz artists and albums, but too much of it at times is sensory overload for me. My mind is always going. So when my mind's in a dark place or getting to that if I can focus mentally on something else then that's ideal. I get exhausted trying to keep up though sometimes. It's like juggling. I can nearly always make sense of the orderly chaos, but I do get disoriented discovering new forms and interpretations of chaos and order.

I'm not exhausted now though — far from it.

#Music #SongFeature

Kali Uchis – Ridin' Round

(Content warning: Explicit lyrics, drugs mentioned)

Ah, Kali Uchis. I've followed her for a while, since her Por Vida album. I found her through Tyler, The Creator, in my initial listen of Cherry Bomb. I heard her voice on Find Your Wings and that was all I needed to be.

There are two versions of this song. One is more Latin-influenced, and then there's this one which I can only describe as a bubblegum lollipop song with sass. This is the version I heard first and played during my junior + senior year, so I'm attached to this one.

Songs that say, “Screw you. I'm a woman and I'm proud. I don't need you for my self-worth,” ignite a fire within me. I don't have an ex I hate — I've just lived most of my life chasing things to please others, never really to please myself.

This is one of those songs I'll bob, sway, and sing to when I'm alone. I love to flip my hair and play with it to this song. I imagine this being a fun song to play and dance to with your friends.

I love most, if not all, of her discography. I'd say she's one of my top female artists.

This song makes me feel like a badass independent bitch who's happy in her skin out to conquer the world with her friends. Listening to this, I automatically don't give a damn about what strangers think of me.

“I know it sounds strange, but I used to count change On the counter at the grocery store, the bags I would arrange Now his face is looking kinda flustered He didn't know that I was my own hustler”

#Music #SongFeature

Sweet Honey in the Rock – Wanting Memories

I first heard this song at a closing ceremony. It was a closing ceremony for what I will call here, this summer school for fun. Our choral group sang this. This version is the closest to what I heard in that auditorium.

This was the summer before my senior year in high school. It was and still is the best summer and time of my life. I’ve rattled on about how I’m an inquisitive person, and that was to my detriment socially. I say this though because I know being inquisitive is not something to be ashamed of, like I believed it was. At this summer school, everyone was inquisitive. And they were all my age. I’d never been in such an environment before.

There is nothing like feeling you belong.

For context, I was 17 and I was a veritable hot mess. In my junior year, I had a few mental breakdowns, but nothing that took away from my near-valedictorian grades. However, in my senior year, I had several breakdowns, which resulted in me almost flunking out of school. These breakdowns also resulted in my admission to a children’s psychiatric ward.

My senior year is the year my obsessive-compulsive disorder took center stage. And I had absolutely no understanding of it. I was convinced to the core that this meant I was schizophrenic like my grandmother.

Imagine a voice yelling through a megaphone horribly degrading, lewd thoughts. All this while you’re trying to think the instinctual thoughts to live and function in this world.

Among them these thoughts: “You’re a piece of shit.” “You should pick that up.” “Why even try? Just give in and kill yourself.”

These were never physical voices, and I never had hallucinations, so no psychiatrist diagnosed me with schizophrenia. These were all internal voices in my head — these voices weren’t me and they weren’t auditory. With that I also had small routines that then I was sure would keep me sane. With all this I was diagnosed with severe OCD.

This song is that the summer before my path in life became unmistakeably foggy. This song is the summer before I understood that my future would not be yet in my hands until almost two years later simply because my mental illness was an impediment to my family. This song is the summer where I felt comfortable approaching the world at my fingertips like a child at a globe. Now I look at that globe, years later, and thumb over it lovingly. There was a moment in time where I couldn’t approach the world without cowering in fear of my OCD and the opinions of my family.

This is one of the few songs that bring me to tears. In fact, I believe it is the only song that does that.

I remember being surrounded by people who never doubted me, what it was like to be encouraged to be yourself, even encouraged.

I guess I’m trying to search for that quietly wherever I find myself.

Right now that perfect summer is a memory. I understand it is a memory that is always with me and defines who I am as a person. It is a memory that gives me courage that maybe one day I’ll find another place, another person, another thing that embraces me the same. It is a memory that isn’t poisoned by my mental illness, where I was truly happy.

If I don’t ever come across this elusive environment, I have the peace that I experienced it all the same.

I can’t say that I was immediately confident in myself after attending this summer school for fun, but it started an irreversible snowball effect of me believing in myself. Without this summer school, I’m not sure there’d be any chance in me believing in myself now. I’m not sure there’d be any chance of me living past seventeen years.

I doubt I’ll ever feel a loving push like that again. But it is a goal in my life to come back and teach for this institution. At the very least, be a resident advisor for a hall. There are others out there who need this experience. It would be an honor for me to guide them through their journey. If I can get just one kid to understand they are not alone, ever, I could die happy.


“I think on the things that made me feel so wonderful when I was young. I think on the things that made me laugh, made me dance, made me sing. I think on the things that made me grow into a being full of pride. I think on these things, for they are true.”

#Music #Personal #SongFeature