I overheard a conversation between two men yesterday that sparked a lot of discussion in my own brain, & almost as soon as it happened I knew it would end up being a blog post. I cannot share many details of the conversation for a variety of reasons but I’m going to sum it up as best as I can below.
Man #1. “So this 16 year old boy is making racist statements towards me & also regaling everyone with tales of his sexual escapades from years ago.”
Man #2: “From years ago? And he’s only 16 now?”
Man #1: “Yep.”
Man #2: “Well, good for him!”
Being the person I am I couldn’t help but butt into the conversation to say “Just imagine if the genders were reversed. You would NOT be saying that.” Neither man acknowledged my remark in the least, which is fine. I wasn’t really part of the conversation but because of our physical proximity at the time I couldn’t help but overhear it. But I do think it’s interesting that neither of them so much as looked at me to acknowledge my remark. Not sure if that means they immediately dismissed it as irrelevant or if they realized I’d actually made a good point! Whatever. I’m certainly not going to report either man for having the conversation because they didn’t offend me. They didn’t intimidate me. And they certainly didn’t harass me. But I do think the second man’s remark is indicative of some greater problems within our society. Let me explain further.
Now let me preface this by saying that I do not consider myself a modern feminist. I did not march on Washington wearing a vagina hat- & I’m never going to. You won’t find me screaming about abortion rights or a gender pay gap. I do not identify with those sorts of women. As a friend of mine recently said to me, unfortunately modern feminism has largely been taken over by people who are in reality misandrists. They aren’t calling for equal rights for women so much as they hate men & are trying to tear them down. I hate that this has happened because they have turned feminism into a dirty word when it absolutely should not be.
Having said all that, I am bothered by the conversation above for several reasons. First, the second man’s comment implies that sex is by default good for males. I can almost guarantee that he would not have made the same comment if they’d been discussing a teenage girl who’d already been having sex for years. No way! (And that’s why I couldn’t resist saying what I did.) So the implication here is that sex is good for males but bad for females. Now I’m not an idiot- I am not in denial of biology. Obviously sex is inherently more dangerous for women because of the chance of pregnancy. Furthermore, some STIs can be more dangerous for women (or at least have more damaging long-term effects). Not to mention rape of course. So yes, I understand & acknowledge all of that. But danger (or the potential for danger) does not have to equal bad or wrong.
Second, I do not think that sex is healthy for young teenagers, regardless of gender. Neither teen boys nor girls are emotionally mature enough to handle the potential emotional consequences of sex, much less pregnancy or STIs. Therefore it is not a healthy thing for our society to joke about teenage boys having sex like they’re winning at life. You see & hear these same types of comments whenever a female teacher is on the news for having sex with a student. There are always men coming out of the woodwork saying “Oh man, I wish the teachers had been like that when I was in school” or “Good for him.” Have I laughed at such comments myself at times? Sure. But in the end I realize they’re really very unhealthy. No one says those things when a male teacher is caught having sex with a female student. In both cases, quite often the student was more than willing. But that isn’t the point! The point is that regardless of gender, an adult- much less a teacher or someone in authority over a teenager- should never be exploiting an underage person because teenagers just do not possess the capability of making such decisions.
A case of a female teacher having sex with an underage male student was in our local news a month or two ago. And it did not receive nearly the same attention it probably would have if the genders were reversed. People just do not view female sex offenders as dangerous in the same way they do male sex offenders. In a way I understand this because biology dictates that a woman grabbing a random man off the street & raping him is nigh impossible. But that does not necessarily make female sex offenders any less dangerous. Considering that the average teenage boy is itching to lose his virginity to just about anyone, an adult woman who exploits that, particularly a teacher or someone in a position of authority, is just as disgusting as a man who does the same thing with a teenage girl. Why does our society act like boys cannot be emotionally scarred or damaged by sex that happens in bad situations just as much as girls can be? Of course they can’t get pregnant, but that isn’t the only issue at hand here. It’s like we’ve forgotten- or are in denial- that sex is an emotional experience for men just as it is for women. (And any man who argues otherwise is clearly having bad sex.)
Here are a couple of metaphors for the “sex is good for men but bad for women” trope. Imagine a couple won the Olympic gold medal for pairs figure skating but only the man was actually awarded. Or suppose a football team won the Superbowl but only the offense was considered the winners & only they got the rings. Sure, the offense has the more glamorous job that usually results in scoring all (or most) of the points (don’t men love saying they “scored” with a woman?), but they still can’t do their job without the defense. It takes a team to win (or lose) a game. And when it comes to sex, it takes two to tango, as the proverbial saying goes. So it’s just plain inconsistent & illogical to say that sex is good for one person & bad for another when they are quite literally doing the same thing.
Feel free to comment with your own thoughts on this matter. It’s always possible I’m just overreacting. But I think it’s very important that we consider the underlying messages we send to our society as a whole by even our most “off hand” comments. One could argue such comments reveal our true, underlying values, even if we aren’t fully cognizant of them.
Moral of the story: watch what you say around me. You might end up in a blog post!
It’s time for my annual album hall of fame post! This year I’m hopeful I’ll get this published much earlier in the year. Last year it was JUNE before I finally got my 2019 post done. Oops! While all three of my highly anticipated concerts for 2020 got corona-canned, the upside is there were still some really amazing albums released last year. These are in no particular order, other than the first two which I consider to be my favorites for the year.
Please keep in my mind that I am in no way a professional music reviewer. I’m just a 30 something mom, wife, & nurse who happens to really enjoy music- & writing about it & sharing it with others. But I in no way have access to hear all the new music that was released last year, even within my favorite genres. This is not meant to be an all encompassing list by any means- it’s really just my personal favorites for the year.
F8 by Five Finger Death Punch: Is the title “F 8” because this is FFDP’s eighth album, or is it just an abbreviation for the word fate? Or both? Anyway, this is the first FFDP album written with vocalist Ivan Moody completely sober, & it is every bit as amazing as you’d expect. Per the usual, lyrically there are some very dark themes here but they are addressed in a way that is much less angry than one usually sees from Ivan- at least some of them are. And yet the band has definitely not gone soft! I’m not sure I could pick a favorite track on this monumental album but one of my favorites is definitely Living the Dream (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eOkkWIOkWl8)- & yes, I loved it even more after the band released such an epic music video to go with it. Musically the most surprising song on the album is probably A Little Bit Off (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ve3fcInpKj0) which incidentally also has a neat music video- filmed at the height of quarantine in a ghost town Las Vegas. In case this song has you worried that the band has indeed gone soft, the last line of the song followed by the next song, the hard-hitting Bottom of the Top (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0q9aRCQvplE), proves they most definitely have not. However, two of the most touching songs on the album are the hauntingly beautiful rock ballads Brighter Side of Grey (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6JLv8FTO_R8) & Darkness Settles In (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pglKybM4yl0). I for one cannot wait to see what the futures holds for this band now that Ivan has truly addressed his inner demons & achieved sobriety, something that, to be honest, I never thought would actually happen. I am so glad he proved me wrong! Anyway, I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention Full Circle (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xm_T_4Bp_aM), another favorite of mine. By the way, if you’re thinking this album was inspired by Covid & the associated lockdowns, it wasn’t. It was actually released before all that even happened, but it’s amazing how relevant some of the lyrics are to the worldwide situation that unfolded so shortly after its release.
Tickets to My Downfall by Machine Gun Kelly: A lot of people were surprised to hear MGK go pop-punk but if you listened to his last album, especially the final track with Yunglud, you probably sensed that this was coming. And what a glorious thing it is! MGK had an excellent response to those who accused him of switching genres. As he told Howard Stern: “I make a pop-rock record…. and everyone’s like, ‘you switched genres!’ To me, I just added on to the multiple things I’ve already done anyway, but sure, what a narrow-minded way to look at things.” (see https://www.billboard.com/articles/news/9454468/machine-gun-kelly-interview-howard-stern-eminem). Everything about this album is very intentional & well designed, including the insightful title which was inspired by the way Hollywood, the media, & celebrity culture in general build people up when they are rising stars but are just as swift to throw them away & celebrate their downfall, often only a short time later. The first song, cheekily entitled Title Track, (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BUBQ0_0Q7j0) is all about that concept. Now I could easily write about every song on this album but I’ll try to condense this to my favorites. Check out Bloody Valentine (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSdT-SArM2Q) & the accompanying music video which features his real life girlfriend Megan Fox- although they were not yet officially dating at the time, it is pretty obvious they had a real connection beyond just the theatrics of the video. Another fun song with another fun video, both of which feature Halsey, is Forget Me Too (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0tn6nWYNK3Q). One of the most poignant songs on the album is Lonely (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4AJ6EI3uda4) which includes a recording of MGK’s dad talking about his son near the end of his life. (Background: MGK’s mom left him & his dad when MGK was just a child & thus he has no relationship with her at all. His relationship with his dad was fractured for many years but was restored somewhat before his father died last year.) On a more upbeat note, Concert for Aliens is a very catchy song that is very reminiscent of 2000s punk that also comes with another fun video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dANJlolAYyA). The album ends with the heartfelt tearjerker Play This When I’m Gone (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0kQJOSVwqwc). I could write so much more about this album but let me just sum it up by saying that I sincerely hope MGK & Travis Barker will continue working together because together they are magic.
Weird by Yungblud: If you are offended by bisexual men who have an affinity for pink socks & occasionally wear dresses on stage, then Yunglud isn’t for you, which is a shame because his music is truly wonderful. One thing I love about this album is that, like all of his work, the songs are nearly impossible to categorize. Is Yungblud a pop star or a rock star? Or both? Whatever he is, he’s a brilliant musician. The album starts with the slow-burning Teresa (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5mz9j3Bg3o), a song that I fall more in love with every time I hear it. Other favorites include the heart-wrenching Love Song (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FzKJ9-3MQBc) in which he croons about having trouble loving others because he wasn’t taught to love himself, & the inspirational God Save Me But Don’t Drown Me Out (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OSwiHeoYL34) in which he states “I won’t let my insecurities define who I am.” A similar message of reveling in your own weirdness is found in the final track The Freak Show (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXaZdp5byE8) which gives me slight Manson vibes & has quickly become a favorite of mine. One of the most powerful songs on the album is the title track (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NIWALAgvz2U) which was actually written before quarantine but was such a light for me & so many others during the height of the lockdowns last Spring. It truly is the perfect quarantine song. I also feel compelled to mention that I love the fact that Yungblud’s Yorkshire accent is often audible in his music, whereas so many other British musicians aren’t even noticeably British when they sing.
Who I Am by Cory Marks: I first came across Cory Marks because he featured Ivan Moody from FFDP on the standout track Outlaws & Outsiders (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PsHtLXIAEh0) from this album. The curious mix of country & rock immediately intrigued me, so naturally I dug further. Then I found the gorgeous duet Out in the Rain (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=awyPddDLzFc) featuring Lzzy Hale, & of course after that I had to have the whole album. Other standout tracks include Another Night in Jail (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZ-o_oS3ysg) which was definitely written about a literal night in jail but can also be taken to mean the jail of one’s own mind, which I find very clever, & She’s Hollywood (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2gjB_EsU2lg). Take note, this is not your grand-dad’s country! This is country by a Canadian man covered in tattoos who basically looks like a somewhat countrified version of Jax Teller from Sons of Anarchy. Ladies (or gents), do a quick Google search & you can thank me afterward. The point is, there are a few swear words & a lot more rock & roll sounding guitars than what most folks are used to in country music. But that’s at least part of what makes it so much fun!
We Are Chaos by Marilyn Manson: After the accusations that have come out against Manson the past few days, I suppose it would be the “right” thing to do to delete this album from my list. But good music is good music & I stand by that, even if it was created by a very flawed man. Besides I still believe in innocent until proven guilty, though clearly much of our society does not. Anyway, Manson’s new work with Shooter Jennings is definitely a mature new version of this always talented & ever evolving musician. The title track on this album immediately reeled me in with its gritty darkness that is somehow still uplifting (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQJFP1INGxs). Other stand out tracks include Red, White, & Blue (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yKn_PxGKq7M), Perfume (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yKn_PxGKq7M), & Solve Caligula (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yTEW762-Ci0). The last lines of Solve Caligula are “I’m not special, I’m just broken, & I don’t wanna be fixed.” As much as I love Manson’s music I sincerely hope that isn’t a reference to being an abuser… I must say I find it suspicious that he & Johnny Depp are such good friends (they even have matching tattoos) & of course Johnny was recently painted as an abuser by his ex wife only for the truth to come out to be quite the opposite. Obviously I’m biased because I love Manson’s music, but it just makes me wonder. I know society today says always believe the victim & as much as my heart bleeds for abuse victims, I still think evidence is important & everyone should get a chance to tell their side of the story before “canceling” someone. Anyway, no matter what comes out, I still stand by this as an excellent album. After all, society still worships plenty of music by other less than perfect individuals…
Hunter Gatherer by Avatar: I first discovered Avatar when I saw them open for Trivium a few years ago. It was love at first listen, so naturally I was very excited for this album. While I enjoyed their previous two albums, I was glad to find that this one is a return to a darker, heavier sound, more akin to Hail the Apocalypse. Be sure to check out the creepy but fascinating video for the stellar track Colossus (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mLMCsFjawNU). First single Silence in the Age of the Apes (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBlb8TTO0c8) is also fantastic, as is God of Sick Dreams (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tHlijWX21s). Lastly, don’t miss A Secret Door (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKqVB_e8u5w) which features an interesting cameo from the aforementioned Corey Taylor- trust me, it’s not what you’d expect. This is yet another album that was written prior to Covid & yet is so fitting for the current state of the world.
I have to start this post by thanking Bad Wolves’s frontman Tommy Vext (not that he’s likely to read this) for posting about this subject on his Instagram story yesterday. Otherwise I might have missed this very interesting tib-dit of news. What’s the news, you ask? Oh, just that NPR named Cardi B’s WAP the #1 song of 2020. If, like me up until this morning, you’ve never actually heard the song, trust me when I say you haven’t missed much, both musically & lyrically. However, as soon as I googled the news to confirm that Tommy’s post was in fact real & not satire, I decided that this subject is actually extremely complex & very worthy of its own blog post, despite the fact that as a general rule I cannot stand Cardi B, both as a person & as a “musician.”
There are so many things I want to say about both the song itself as well as NPR’s decision to name it the #1 song of the year. I’ll begin with the latter since that’s less complex. Let me start by saying that I’m honestly not surprised that NPR gave it such an honor seeing as it is almost certainly the most controversial song of the year. Controversy is always newsworthy so that alone is worth something. Add to that the fact that the song is by two black women & professes to be about female sexual empowerment… Well, let’s just say that in today’s world of virtue signaling, extreme feminism, victim points, & cancel culture, NPR might be afraid to choose anything BUT this song. And if they chose it based on pure popularity, well, as much as it pains me to admit it, I have no doubt that it WAS one of the most popular songs of the year.
Honestly, I don’t care too much what NPR chooses as their song of the year. I don’t listen to NPR anyway & their opinion isn’t one I particularly value. But as someone who lives & breathes music, it does pain me to think of all the truly amazing music that was created this year that was overlooked in favor of WAP. But honestly that’s enough about that. In reality maybe I should thank NPR for choosing this song because it gave me a pretext for writing this post. This is a post I’ve been composing in my head off & on for months now, ever since I first read about this song. But life being as busy as it is, when I’ve had the time to blog I’ve found other more pressing issues to discuss. Now, however, I’ve got a pretext that just cannot be ignored any longer.
So, let’s dig in. I’ll admit my initial response when I read about Cardi B’s WAP was revulsion. I read the lyrics & never made it any further. In fact I’d never actually heard the song or seen the video until this morning. After all I don’t listen to the radio or follow rap as a genre. But I forced myself to listen to the song this morning & watch the accompanying video because I knew it wouldn’t be fair to write this post without doing so. Anyway, as I always try to do whenever something immediately repulses me, I took a step back & asked myself why. Why does this song repulse me? Why are so many women just as, or more, offended by it than men? Music about sex is nothing new. Not even remotely. What’s so different about this song?
A couple things come to mind. (Remember, this is all my opinion & I’ve never implied that my opinions are gospel.) First, the lyrics are not exactly eloquent, to be put it mildly. But it IS Cardi B & from what little I know of her other “music,” that’s pretty standard for her. Regardless, as someone who values grammar & eloquence, I can’t help but be annoyed by that.
Second, as much as I love sex, I’ll be the first to admit that I have no interest in a song about a big ass dick. Or a hard ass dick. Or whatever. Just, no- no thanks, I’ll pass. And I think the majority of women (& men) would agree with me on that. As much as I am not particularly bothered or grossed out by human anatomy- I am a nurse after all so I’ve seen A LOT of naked people as it’s just part of the job- I just don’t find songs about body parts all that interesting. I don’t necessarily find them GROSS like a lot of people do, but I don’t find them interesting either. I think a huge portion of society feels the same way & that in no way makes us prudes.
My third problem with this song is what is probably the most famous line from it: “I don’t cook, I don’t clean, But let me tell you how I got this ring.” Now, I realize this song was not aimed at little girls, but I cannot help but be troubled by this line, even as an adult. I certainly don’t think women should be chosen as wives (or men as husbands) based solely on their ability to cook or clean (those are life skills that frankly everyone should have anyway), but it shouldn’t be based just on sex either. What kind of message is that sending? I thought we as women had been fighting for millennia now to be seen as something more than sexual objects & I can’t help but see this line as placing us squarely back into that box. And I for one am not ok with that!
I’ll also be the first to admit that rap is my least favorite style of music, so I am perhaps a bit biased against the song from the very beginning. It just isn’t something that really speaks to me. I like a few rap songs here & there, mostly by MGK but also a few others, but in general it just isn’t my thing. Yet as much as I’ve heard that this song is so catchy, I have to admit when listening to it today I didn’t find it catchy or musically interesting at all. I’m also bothered by the constant refrain “There’s some whores in this house.” I’ve read that that line is a reference to an older rap song but if so, the reference is lost on me since I’m not a rap fan, & regardless I just find the line disturbing. But I’ll also admit that it could be Cardi B’s way of reclaiming the word, like women do with “bitch” or black men do with “n*****.” I might be giving her too much credit here, seeing as she was actually a stripper & has apparently bragged about stealing things from men- you read those things & it’s easy to dismiss anything she has to say- but the fact of the matter is she may be smarter than I’m inclined to give her credit for being.
Just in case you think I only criticize black women for sexually charged music, let me confess that I am not a fan of Halestorm’s Do Not Disturb. As some of you know, Halestorm is one of my all time favorite bands, but I just found that song musically & lyrically lackluster. (If you aren’t familiar with the song, it’s about a threesome.) Furthermore I am equally disturbed, perhaps moreso actually, by some other sexually explicit songs such as Bad Girlfriend by Theory of a Deadman, Blurred Lines by Pharrell Williams, Get Low by Lil John, & Candy Shop by 50 Cent. The latter two were extremely popular when I was in high school & it puzzles me that some people who loved those songs then are now bothered by WAP. I for one find “all you bitches crawl” & many of the other lines in Get Low far more disgusting.
And just in case you think I’m a prude & hate all music that is sexual in nature, here’s a list of songs that I love that are sexually charged, some more explicit than others, but all decidedly more eloquently written than WAP.
Para-noir by Marilyn Manson https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6c_PtrV80GU (A very incisive look at the many reasons why people have sex- which I do not take as Manson condoning all of those reasons. I actually take it as him highlighting how ridiculous some of these things are.)
Now, here’s where it gets tricky. I’m sure a lot of people reading this have been nodding along this whole time so far. Some of you are probably about to stop nodding along- & that’s ok!
One of the most disturbing things I’ve encountered with this song is how so many women (& men) are so “grossed out” by it. Maybe it’s just because I’m a nurse & tend to view the world through a very scientific lens, but I really have to ask myself why so many people find their own bodies so gross. As I said before, I love sex but I am not interested in a graphic song that worships the phallus. But that being said, if such a song were suddenly topping the charts, I can guarantee you the average man would NOT be saying “Oh, that’s so gross!” It goes back to the fact that women are socialized to be ashamed of their bodies. In a world before birth control, I am much more sympathetic about the fact that this happened. You’re just ignoring the most basic biology if you don’t admit that sex is inherently more dangerous for women. [There are three main reasons for that: pregnancy, rape, & STIs (these are often more dangerous for women if untreated because of their negative impacts on fertility.)] In light of that, it’s really not hard to understand that society has always felt the need to control women’s sexuality more than men’s. It doesn’t make it right or fair- I never said that- but it’s not as illogical as some claim. Of course at the end of the day it takes two to tango, but that’s another blog post for another day.
Furthermore, I read an interview with Megan Thee Stallion, the other rapper featured on WAP, in which she stated that a lot of men find this song threatening because it’s all about female sexual empowerment. Now you can certainly argue that making yourself out to be a sexual object is anything but empowering- & certainly not original or unique- (I’m inclined to agree), BUT Megan does have a valid point. I’d like to think that the majority of men in the modern world appreciate, I daresay even WANT, a woman who is sexually assertive, not just some passive receptacle for their desires. But I do think there are plenty of men out there who still feel like they own sex & the ability to talk about it openly. Certainly I imagine there are plenty of male rappers or other entertainers out there who do not appreciate female rappers barging in on what they view as “their territory,” much less with a song like this. Additionally, in light of the sexually graphic nature of much of rap music, most of which seems to care little for what a woman wants (sexually or otherwise), maybe Cardi B’s WAP is reactionary- her way to try to flip the situation around so to speak. I’m not sure it rings true from someone with her history, but I cannot deny that it’s a valid concept.
Having said all that, there are far more eloquent ways one can express & even celebrate female desire than a song such as WAP. Just because some men have stooped to the level of writing incredibly graphic songs about their anatomy doesn’t mean women should be encouraged to do the same. Nor should men encouraged to keep doing it! Ella Fitzgerald, also a black woman, actually sung a very eloquent song about female sexual desire over sixty years ago (though I’ll admit she did not write it). Thanks to one of my closest friends for turning me on to this song because it’s perfect for this post (pun NOT intended!). You can check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1fzZ4l2H5-w.
At the end of the day, whether she intended to or not, Cardi B has certainly stirred up a lot of intriguing conversations about a decidedly complex & controversial topic with this song. And that alone is newsworthy. Would I choose it as the #1 song of the year? Absolutely not. But I cannot write it off as 100% trash either, as much as part of me wants to do exactly that. After all, I’ve often said that the best art is the kind that makes us ask deep questions about life & challenges us to broaden our horizons. And whether we like it or not, she has done exactly that…
Also, if anyone wants to continue the WAP trend, may I suggest the following?:
Big Ass Dick (BAD)
Hard Ass Dick (HAD)
Big Ass Titties (BAT)
I’ll stop before anyone takes these suggestions seriously.
This post isn’t aimed at any person in particular. Rather it is aimed at our society as a whole & the ridiculous self righteousness I’m constantly seeing these days. It happens every year but it’s always the worst during election years. Throw in coronavirus & of course that makes things even more intense (read: crazy) this year!
As a Libertarian, I have written many times about how I frequently feel isolated in this world, ever an outsider surrounded by many who seem to fit so neatly into the various political & religious boxes that society draws for us. In reality of course I know that many folks who do fit in those boxes are probably full of doubts & questions but just aren’t open or honest about them for fear of being rejected or losing social stigma. Particularly for my friends in small town America I fully understand that dilemma. But that’s a post for another day. (To be clear, even among Libertarians I am often a bit of an outsider because of some of my views.)
In any case, what’s really griping me lately is the smug sense of self righteousness & moral superiority that I see all over the media & social media these days. It comes from both sides, though probably a bit worse from the Left since they have such a massive influence on both the media & social media, but really it does go both ways. I am just sick of seeing folks virtue signaling & calling out anyone who disagrees with them as evil, stupid, ignorant, bigoted, sexist, racist, homophobic, heathen, or generally morally inferior.
I’ve got news for you, folks. Regardless of your political or religious beliefs, you haven’t cornered the market on compassion. You don’t have a monopoly on ministering to others. Your beliefs or political affiliations do not make you a better person- they just don’t! Like it or not, y’all, it’s just not that simple.
To those on the Left, have you ever considered that those of us who aren’t socialists & don’t support a massive welfare state feel that way because we truly don’t feel those things are serving the greater good? I’m sure there are some people on the Right who only care about their own pockets but most conservative people I know aren’t like that at all. Many of us truly believe that smaller government leads to greater freedom, prosperity, opportunity, & happiness for all. Many of us sincerely believe in equality of opportunity rather than equality of outcome.
And to those on the Right, have you ever considered that not everyone who supports keeping abortion legal is truly a baby-killer who wants to see infants murdered? Have you considered that many only want abortion kept legal because of cases of rape & incest or other such horrific conditions? Have you considered that this is indeed a much more complex issue than “Well, they should have just waited for marriage”? Furthermore, have you considered that abortion in some format has existed (& does exist) in every society in the world? While that does not make it good, it does mean that it’s never going to completely disappear.
I just wish that people would stop making so many assumptions about others. Stop assuming I watch Fox News because I diss CNN. (In reality I don’t have cable TV & wouldn’t watch either even if I did!) Stop assuming that your neighbor who’s a Republican hates black people or all immigrants. Stop assuming that your friend who’s a Democrat wants to kill all babies or rip apart every nuclear family. Just stop assuming you know all there is to know about a person! I see so many people claiming they are choosing a particular candidate because they care about others. That’s fantastic- but don’t assume that everyone who chooses differently than you automatically doesn’t care about others! Perhaps their interpretation of what is actually helping others is different than yours- & that is ok!
In reality I know lots of really wonderful people on all sides of the political spectrum, but I am just so tired of seeing folks on all sides make all kinds of negative assumptions & generalizations about those who disagree with them. Trust me, I know why it happens. We’re all guilty of it at times, if we’re being truly honest. We do it because it makes us feel better about our own beliefs; furthermore it makes us feel less guilty about any doubts we may have about those beliefs. It makes it easier to push away any conflicted feelings we have about issues that rip at our very consciences. And frankly I think it’s just human nature to paint the world in a very “us vs them” picture. But the truth is we are all losing when we do that. It’s only in recognizing the humanity in each of us that we can begin to see true progress in society.
As cliche as it may seem I will conclude this post with a quote that I think is a good starting place any time we feel the need to rip others apart & denigrate them as morally inferior to ourselves simply because they disagree with us. Namaste- the divine in me honors the divine in you.
This post might be a little all over the place but I’m going to try to knock it out the best I can while Rachel is doing her afternoon “quiet time” (since she no longer naps). I’ve recently been reminded over & over again, because of the whole Covid situation as well as the upcoming election, among other things, of how incredibly frustrating it is to me that so many folks are frankly so one-dimensional. As I told one of my best friends recently, I am continually disappointed in how completely predictable so many people are. When I find those rare jewels of people whose opinions I cannot accurately predict on most every subject, I smile & retain at least a little hope for humanity. I’m not asking for everyone to agree with me on everything. What a boring world that would be! I just wish that more people weren’t so damn predictable!
I am often reminded of the Walt Whitman quote “Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.” I love that quote because to me it encapsulates the complexity of the human experience & how we are all at times hypocrites because we all contain so many complex emotions & ideals that often contradict each other. And that is ok- that is what makes us alive- & interesting!
I just wish more people realized that we don’t have to fit into the neat little boxes in which society tries to place us. And even if we do choose to align ourselves with certain groups, we aren’t obliged to always agree with those groups on every single issue. We can be individuals- we don’t have to have a herd mentality!
You can ascribe to most aspects of “gentle parenting” even if you don’t co-sleep, breastfeed for extended periods, baby-wear constantly, home-school, or partake in a vegetarian/vegan diet.
You can ascribe to a lot of moral ideas without actually being religious.
You can 100% support the concept of black lives matter without supporting the actual organization of the same name.
You can have tattoos &/or piercings &/or “crazy hair” & still have a professional job & be just as great at it as someone who looks more traditional.
You can love rock/metal music & not have any tattoos or piercings or dress in all black & that doesn’t make you any less of a “real” fan.
You can abhor gun violence but still staunchly support the 2nd Amendment.
Caring about the poor does not have to equate to being a socialist (or communist).
You can abhor drugs but still believe they should be legal.
Just because you don’t support a ton of government welfare programs does not mean that you don’t care about the poor or believe in helping them. (Government, after all, isn’t the only means for helping people. It’s often the least efficient method, but that’s a post for another day.)
Being a Democrat does not automatically make you anti-racist & being a Republican or Libertarian does not automatically make you racist.
Believing in the importance of the nuclear family does not mean you do not support other less “traditional” family structures.
You can believe that men & women are equal while acknowledging our differences & not seeking to tear down the opposite gender.
You can support the legalization of prostitution (for adults only, obviously!) while still believing that sex is best in the context of a committed, loving relationship.
You can support free speech & the right for women to say or do anything they please but still find Cardi B’s WAP to be straight trash. (Guess her WAP wasn’t so great after all, seeing as she is getting divorced due to her husband’s infidelity… Yep, I’m probably a bad person for laughing about that…)
How do I know all of these things are possible? Well, for the most part, I just described myself…
On a seemingly unrelated note, I have recently rediscovered my love for country music artist Gary Allan. I guess I never truly forgot about him but I haven’t listened to country radio in YEARS so he’d just kind of fallen off my radar since the only country singer I religiously follow is Eric Church. In any case, YouTube recommended Gary’s new song Waste of a Whiskey Drink a week or two ago & I’ve been hooked ever since. You could quite fairly call the song cynical & I’m sure there are some angry hard core feminists out there decrying it as the epitome of sexism, but I don’t care because I think you could reverse the genders in the song & it would be equally accurate.
Anyhow, that song led me to listen to a bunch of Gary Allan’s older songs, some of which I’ve known & loved for years like Watching Airplanes & his cover of Best I Ever Had. But I also came across a lot of others that I either never knew or had forgotten. May I just say that this man’s gravelly voice is perfectly suited to that particular brand of melancholy that only country songs can elicit? Off the top of my head three excellent examples of this are Today, Smoke Rings in the Dark, & It Ain’t the Whiskey.
Of course this post isn’t about country music or even my love for Gary Allan, though I could certainly do an entire post about him someday. But for some reason I felt compelled to explain the wormhole that led me to rediscover his song Get Off on the Pain & how that song seems to perfectly encapsulate what I’m trying to explain here today. Now superficially the song probably doesn’t seem to relate to my life very much- I’m not a man, a traveling musician, or someone who’s been in a bunch of bad relationships- but if you think about the broader meaning of the song I can relate to it in so many ways.
Because I am the “crazy Libertarian” that I am, I find myself constantly being told that I’m wrong, crazy, heathen, don’t care about others, & a lot of other things that I generally don’t believe are true. I frequently long to have a greater sense of belonging but any organized group I’ve ever belonged to has left me dissatisfied sooner or later. The truth of the matter is, like the song says, I think I get off on the pain. As much as I sometimes long to be more content with life, to not question things so much, to be more accepted by society, at the end of the day I don’t think I’d be happy that way. I’ve always been a bit of an outsider & that’s the way I think I’ll always be. It isn’t always an easy road to take but it’s the only one I’ve ever really known & it’s the one I’m going to keep on walking as long as I can.
P.S. I apologize for not including the YouTube links to the songs mentioned in this post like I normally do but WordPress has changed its blogging format & I’m still trying to figure out how to add links to posts. I never said I was tech savvy…
P.S.S. If this post seems to have lost steam half way through it’s because Rachel left her room & has been interrupting me constantly… #momlife
This is going to be brain vomit because I’m working with a limited window of time here but I feel like I need to write SOMETHING for my own sanity. I don’t know about you but this pandemic, this whole year, has been absolute HELL for my anxiety. The older I’ve gotten the more I’ve realized that I have a baseline anxiety that really is a double-edged sword. It’s a big part of what makes me so driven & hard-working but it’s also the main reason why I struggle like hell to relax. Oh yeah, if curse words bother you, this might not be the post for you. Now that I’m in my thirties I’ve realized life is far too short to censor myself just because some people are “sensitive” over something as silly as four letter words. Please- be offended by poverty, by war, by child abuse, by systemic racism, by famine. If a WORD offends you, I kindly ask you to GROW UP.
Ok, sorry, that was an unexpected rant but ANYWAY, I guess I am just tired. I’m tired of coronavirus. I’m tired of masks. I’m tired of social distancing. I’m tired of society being so damn polarized about everything. No matter what the issue is, it seems that most people cannot find any middle ground. Or at least that is how the news media & social media paint things. In real life, I think many people are far more reasonable but social media & the news bring out the worst in us & seek to divide us further. I’ve about had it with all of it. As a Libertarian I am so tired of being told I’m too conservative for the liberals & too liberal for the conservatives. On almost every issue I find myself at odds with a huge portion of my “friends” & many of them are quick to tell me how terrible I am because I don’t agree with them. To those of you who can have rational conversations, thank you. You give me hope. I just wish there were more of you because I am becoming more & more cynical by the day & I know it isn’t healthy for me.
There isn’t any real point to this post other than to say I wish coronavirus were gone. I wish there weren’t an election this year. I wish I could wake up & know that I could hug my friends again without igniting fear. I wish the world weren’t so divided & so busy calling each other racists & sexists & fascists that no one can have an actual conversation of substance. I wish I could just have faith that everything will be ok & that normal life will someday, in the not too distant future, resume. But frankly I don’t have that faith right now. I see this going on for a very long time. I fear that my daughter will never have a normal school experience because of this virus. I fear that my anxiety will continue spiraling when just a few months ago, before all this started, I had it under better control than I had in YEARS.
I don’t miss being a kid. Or a teenager. Not at all. Let’s be real: my anxiety was already an issue back then so it wasn’t like I was the stereotypical carefree kid. Ha! Nope, not me. But right now I’m kind of tired of being an adult too. My anxiety isn’t even the “normal” kind that involves dreaming up every worst case scenario for everything. When it comes to a lot of stuff, I’m surprisingly chill. My anxiety has more to do with never being able to truly RELAX. My brain is just always going, going, going, like the damn Energizer Bunny. One of the reasons my husband & I connected so many years ago as teenagers is because we bonded over the realization that we both had this same “chattering squirrel” inside our heads that never shuts up or lets us fully relax. It sucks- plain & simple, it just sucks. It’s why we are so successful in so many areas of life but it’s also why we aren’t much good at enjoying that success.
This has been a very rambling post & I apologize that it is probably poorly written & may not offer much hope. I sincerely try not to pour negative energy into the world because there is way too damn much of that as it is. But I’m just not feeling a lot of positive energy these days so it’s hard to give that off. But I will share some songs that are serving as a lifeline for me these days. They give me hope & allow me to let off steam when nothing else seems to work. If you too are struggling, I hope they’ll do the same for you.
Yeah, yeah, I know it’s halfway through June- almost halfway through the year, & here I am JUST NOW getting around to writing my annual best albums post for the previous year. But hey, that’s life with a very spirited, challenging 3 year old. (Then again what 3 year old isn’t spirited & demanding?)
Anyway, aside from my # 1 choice, these are really in no particular order.
P.S. It should probably go without saying but many of these albums are not for delicate ears/sensibilities. Many come with an explicit label- or would if they were actually sold in mainstream stores like Wal-Mart. Listen at your own discretion.
Disguise by Motionless in White: I loved MIW’s third album Reincarnate so much that I honestly thought there was no way they’d ever top that one, for me anyway. But then came Disguise. Woah, just woah! Both lyrically & musically MIW really blew it out of the water on this one, but especially lyrically. Lead vocalist & principle songwriter Chris Motionless has stated that he really focused more on the lyrics on this album & it absolutely shows. It’s very hard for me to choose a favorite on this one but if I had to choose one, it would be Another Life. The words are hauntingly beautiful while the melody is truly infectious, making the perfect combination for a song that is sure to be stuck in your head for a long time. Other highlights include the title track, hard-hitting Thoughts & Prayers, & Undead Ahead 2 which is based off of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow & is also a follow up to a song on their debut album. Also don’t miss the sarcastic & witty Brand New Numb. But truly there isn’t a bad song on this album, not a single song that isn’t well written in every aspect. And that is why it’s my choice for #1 album of the year.
Untitled by Rammstein: Confession: this is actually my first Rammstein album. I knew a handful of their songs before this album but never liked any of them enough to actually buy a full album. But then I heard Deutschland on satellite radio & instantly I was blown away by just how raw & powerful it was. The music video, as usual, was controversial but in my opinion is a fantastic portrayal of Germany’s history. The piano part that ends the video (not the actual song on the album) is also hauntingly beautiful & I believe it actually comes from one of their earlier albums. Then there is the almost dance-like Radio which is infectiously catchy & will most definitely get stuck in your head. Other stand-out tracks include Auslander & the surprising ballad Diamant. I understand no more than maybe five words of German but this album is proof that music is universal. You don’t have to understand the lyrics to feel the power of the music & the emotions behind it.
Gereg by The Hu: While we’re on the subject of international music in languages other than English, let’s discuss the break-out debut album from this Mongolian band. When it comes to most unique sound, this album definitely takes the cake. Mongolian throat singing combined with traditional Mongolian instruments & fused with rock & roll- you got it! If you think that sounds bizarre & unlikely to please the ears, you couldn’t be more wrong. Well, maybe it IS bizarre- but that only makes it all the more interesting. I first came across a remix version of Wolf Totem featuring Jacoby Shaddix of Papa Roach while listening to something else on YouTube while at the gym one day. That lead me to check out the original version & I was immediately in awe- & in love. Also be sure to check out Shoog Shoog & Yuve Yuve Yu.
What You See Is What You Get by Luke Combs: After the first three you might not have been expecting to see a country album on this list but Luke Combs is way too good not to mention. This album is chock full of great songs- 17 of them to be specific! From start to finish Luke’s second album is full of brutally honest lyrics & story telling that definitely channel the spirit of his idol & fellow North Carolinian Eric Church (who just so happens to be my favorite country singer). In fact there is even a song featuring guest vocals from Church. It’s very hard to pick favorites but be sure to check out the upbeat Beer Never Broke My Heart & Angels Working Overtime as well as the more somber Dear Today. All Over Again is another great one that gets stuck in my head all the time. There is something so truly “every man” about Luke Combs that you just cannot help but like the guy even if country music isn’t your normal taste.
Who Do You Trust? by PapaRoach: The follow up to 2017’s Crooked Teeth is a real blend of the different variations this band has explored over the past two decades. The best testament to the strength of this album is that I heard three of the songs for the first time live & immediately fell in love with all of them- so much so in fact that I ordered the album from my phone right there during the concert! Those three songs, in case you’re wondering, are still some of my favorites off the album: Feel Like Home, Renegade Music, & Come Around. The title track is also incredibly relevant for our world today, perhaps even more so now than when it was released last year. Though it’s less than 1.5 minutes long, the very punk rock track I Suffer Well is a fun addition to the album, particularly in contrast to the more hip hop influenced songs like Elevate. While this album could perhaps be accused of being a bit disjointed & not “flowing” super well, it’s still a fantastic addition to the Papa Roach catalog. P.S. If you haven’t seen Papa Roach live, as soon as we’re allowed to have concerts again, DO IT. Nevermind that these guys are in their 40s now- they have more energy & intensity than many bands half their age.
Hotel Diabloby Machine Gun Kelly: Ok, so you probably weren’t expecting a rap album on this list either but here it is. To be honest I wasn’t expecting a rap album to ever make one of my annual best albums lists, but then I discovered this jewel by MGK. Truthfully I’ve forgotten quite how I got into this album but I’m pretty sure it involved going down a YouTube wormhole which probably led me to the last song on the album which is actually not a rap song at all. That song, I Think I’m Okay, is still my favorite from this disc. Other great tracks include Hollywood Whore, El Diablo, & Death in My Pocket. Rap will never be my favorite genre by a long shot but there is a rawness, honesty, & cleverness to MGK’s lyrics that I can’t help but love. It probably helps that he actually plays guitar & clearly has an appreciation for rock. In fact he’s actually just made a pop/rock/punk album entitled Tickets to My Downfall & I for one can’t wait for its release next month.
21st Century Liability by Yungblud: I discovered this album as a direct result of the previous one on this list. MGK’s I think I’m Okay features Yunglud & after watching the music video for that song I was immediately intrigued by this obviously unique young man. By the way, it turns out MGK & Yungblud have actually become great friends & are absolutely hilarious together (search YouTube for some great videos of them). If you’re offended by outspoken British dudes in pink socks who occasionally wear dresses, then Yungblud definitely isn’t for you. But it’d be a real shame to miss out on the wit & charm that is Yungblud. Standout tracks on this quirky record include Die For the Hype, Polygraph Eyes, & the title track.
N.A.T.I.O.N. by Bad Wolves: The second album by Bad Wolves comes across as an even more polished version of this clearly talented group of men. Outspoken lead singer Tommy Vext has quickly become one of my favorite rock stars, largely because he is so impossible to pigeon hole. He is truly a man who thinks for himself & says whatever he wants, regardless of what anyone else may think. But back to the album: there are plenty of great heavier tracks like No Messiah & I’ll Be There but I think my favorite is the deeply personal & more somber track Sober. Vext’s soulful voice really shines on songs like this where the emotions are so strong they’re almost palpable.
I, The Mask by In Flames: Confession: I knew almost nothing about legendary Swedish metalers In Flames until I started hearing I Am Above on Octane & Liquid Metal last year. After that I was instantly hooked, bought the album, & even saw them live when they came to Raleigh. There isn’t a bad song on this album but some of my other favorites include the slow burning Stay With Me which starts off soft & gentle but builds into a real powerhouse by the end & Follow Me which follows a similar pattern. Call My Name is also excellent.
Southern Hostility by Upon a Burning Body: UABB will always be among my top choices for underrated bands. These Texans deserve so much more attention than they get. This entire album makes for a great work-out soundtrack. I for one can’t wait to get back to jamming to this at the gym someday . . . Anyway, vocalist Danny Leal’s screams are in top form on this album. Be sure to check out Reinventing Hatred, King of Diamonds, & From Darkness.
Well, you don’t exactly have to be a scholar to know that the world is in a bit of a tumult right now. Maybe more than a little bit, to be honest. With the news of the death of George Floyd at the hands of some obviously corrupt & evil police officers last week, Coronavirus has finally taken a backseat. I’m writing about this today for a variety of reasons & I hope I can be at least somewhat eloquent as I rush to finish this while my daughter is napping. Here goes . . .
First off I want to apologize to the black community for any hand I, as a white person, may have had in racism over the years. I’ll be the first to admit that I have not always been as sensitive as maybe I should be. Furthermore I’ll be the first to admit that there have been times when I was more vocal about my anger over rioting & looting than I was about my anger over police brutality or other injustices wrought against African Americans.
I’ll also freely admit that I’ve always had mixed feelings about Colin Kaepernick & the kneeling protest he started. On the one hand I’ve always felt like it was their first amendment right to free speech & that the matter they were protesting had merit. Yet on the other hand I was always taught to respect the national anthem & the military & since so many people saw the kneeling as disrespectful towards them- though in my heart of hearts I’ll admit I’ve never been sure WHY- I confess it left a bad taste in my mouth, so to speak. But the more I’ve thought about it the more I’ve realized the REAL reason why it left a bad taste in my mouth. The real reason is that I didn’t want to face the inconvenient truth that our nation is still struggling with systemic racism, particularly in the police force. I was always taught to respect LEOs but the cold hard truth is that there are some seriously corrupt & evil folks hiding behind a badge, & it’s our responsibility to stand against the injustices wrought by them. If we don’t- & if good LEOs don’t- we are complicit with the problem.
I want to sincerely apologize for all of this because I realize now how insensitive & wrong I was. I realize that so much of the time we don’t want to admit that maybe we aren’t as “color blind” as we like to think we are. As white people, it’s very easy to think “Well, I don’t hate black people, I’ve never been overtly racist, so I’m ok.” But the truth is that if we don’t examine our own internal prejudices & speak up against police brutality & other racial issues, these injustices will never go away. And the rioting that follows won’t go away either. There is a reason people are rioting- it’s because THEY AREN’T BEING HEARD!
Secondly, I’d like to say that I don’t think rioting & looting is the answer- especially when it’s directed at random people or businesses that have nothing to do with the police. But let’s be real- most people don’t. We don’t all need to constantly talk about how appalling this is. I think most of us can agree on that, regardless of race. Violence begets violence- it breeds a vicious cycle that never ends & rarely- if ever- causes people to be sympathetic with the “other” side. But truthfully I think most of us get that. We just aren’t the ones on the news getting all the attention right now.
Thirdly- & this is really my most important point- what’s more appalling to me than rioting is that so many white people seem more upset by the rioting & looting than they are by the murder of George Floyd. Or Ahmaud Arbery. Or Breonna Taylor. And the list goes on . . . They are more upset by black people stealing a TV than they are by the fact that police have been caught dispersing tear gas on PEACEFUL protesters. There have even been white people caught inciting violence & rioting so that black people can then be blamed for it. Y’all, something is seriously wrong with this entire picture! Yes, everyone has a right to be upset by the violence that has erupted over the weekend. But if you’re bothered by that kind of violence, shouldn’t you also be bothered by the unnecessary violence that was wrought against Mr. Floyd & so many other black Americans? The answer is unequivocally yes. If you suddenly think that the case against police brutality is completely invalid because of the way SOME people are reacting, then frankly you need to examine yourself.
So before you post about how terrible the riots are, please stop & think about how that comes across to your black friends & neighbors, especially if that’s the ONLY thing you’re posting about in regards to this whole situation. Please stop & think about WHY people are angry. Please stop & think about the fact that no matter how black people protest- even something as simple & peaceful as taking a knee- they are always told they’re wrong. Yes, it’s inconvenient. Yes, it’s difficult. Yes, it means admitting that maybe your parents & grandparents were wrong about some things. And, yes, that is HARD. But the truth of the matter is there is still systemic racism in our society today- perhaps most notably in the police force- & if we as white people don’t admit that & work on it, the violence & injustice from all “sides” will never end.
I hope that this has come across as compassionately as I intended it. I hope that anyone who reads this can see that my heart is bleeding for all of those who are hurting right now for so many different reasons. Most importantly I hope that we’ll all take a moment to react with love, compassion, & empathy rather than with judgment, hate, or anger.
Well, it’s safe to say I haven’t blogged in so long that I honestly don’t even KNOW the last time I blogged or what it was even about. Pretty sure it’s been long enough that I can confidently say this is my first blog post of 2020… Shameful compared to how I used to be but hey, that’s life with a three year old. Anyway, since we are truly living in historic times right now I figured what better time to break out the old blog?
I don’t know about y’all but my anxiety has definitely taken a turn for the worse the past few months. Initially I was actually scared of the virus, not so much of getting sick myself but of bringing it home to Rachel. Additionally I was terrified that going to work was going to become the war zone it did in Italy & Spain (& to a certain extent in NYC too). To be brutally honest I’ve never been so glad that I left hospital nursing after Rachel was born. But if things do get really bad here it is possible I could be sent to the hospital to help. However, I am grateful (for many reasons) that that scenario is continuing to become more & more unlikely.
Anyway, as time has passed & it’s become clear that this virus isn’t nearly as fatal across the board as initially feared, my anxiety has become more about being terrified of being indefinitely quarantined. Plus I’ve been losing hours at work which means more days at home with a very spirited three year old. In some ways I’ve loved this extra time with her. But let me just tell you, when you can’t even take a three year old- one who LOVES the outdoors, by the way- to a playground, that is ROUGH. Yes, we’ve taken lots of walks & played in the yard, but this kid misses going to the park. She also misses going to the gym & playing in the kids’ room & even just going to WalMart & Aldi. Probably more than anything she misses my parents. I am so grateful for video chats because those have a been a lifesaver for us. Even so, being on quarantine with a three year old is NOT easy.
Furthermore, as a Libertarian this whole situation has been incredibly challenging for me. Obviously as a healthcare professional I want our decisions to be based on science. But the more I’ve read & learned about this virus, the more I fear that many decisions are being made based out of fear & to achieve political goals. Even though I know it’s probably “better to be safe than sorry,” there is a part of me that just cannot help but be very uncomfortable with the idea of this indefinite quarantine for all. It seems like far too good of a way for certain groups to usher in socialist/communist policies as the “only solution.” But that’s a whole other blog post for another day…
What I’m really trying to say today is that all of the craziness in the world right now has made me, perhaps for the first time in my life, truly nostalgic for what was ostensibly an easier time in my life. For better or worse I have never been someone who spends too much time thinking about the past. It’s just not something that appeals to me. On the other hand I probably spend too MUCH time thinking about the future. I’m well aware that I would be a much happier person if I could live “in the moment” a lot more. But it’s just something I really struggle with & probably always will. However, here lately I keep finding myself thinking back on college & missing it in a way that is honestly a little painful. I guess one reason I’ve never dwelt on the past very much is I’ve always felt that was a sign that you aren’t happy with your current situation. And it’s always seemed really sad to me to constantly look back on the past & say “Oh, man, I wish I could go back. Those were the best days of my life.” I mean, how depressing is that? If any time in the past was the best time of my life, then what do I have to look forward to? You see what I mean?
Yet here lately I cannot help myself from having random memories from college cross my mind, things & people I haven’t thought about in ages. I’ve also been listening to a lot of music from that time in my life, even some stuff I hadn’t listened to in years & had frankly forgotten about. I think it’s probably just a sign of how difficult life is right now that I am naturally drawn to a time in my life that was simpler, or at least SEEMS simpler in retrospect. Because, you see, that’s the thing: nostalgia is always looking at the past with rose-colored glasses, seeing things as easier than they really were at the time because comparatively speaking your current challenges seem so much harder than your past ones- & maybe they ARE. But what we tend to forget is that just because something seems easy now doesn’t mean it was easy when we were facing it.
For example, I could easily look back on grade school & think “Man, I didn’t have a care in the world back then.” But I know that couldn’t be further from the truth. I was never a very happy go lucky child, truth be told. The kids who made fun of me & all the fears I had about never being accepted at school were SO BIG to me at that time. Those things might not have had great consequence on my life as a whole, but at the time they were MASSIVE. So yeah, objectively the challenges I face as an adult, particularly as a parent of a toddler during a worldwide pandemic, are probably harder. But wishing I could go back to childhood isn’t really a solution because the challenges I faced then felt just as overwhelming at that time- even if maybe they “shouldn’t” have.
I guess the beautiful thing about college (& the reason I find myself so nostalgic for it sometimes), especially the first two years before the chaos of nursing school set in, was that it was the first time in my life that I was truly free to explore the world on my own: any ideas, any music, basically anything I wanted. That kind of freedom was something I’d been longing for my whole life. And it was intoxicating, more intoxicating than any alcohol or drug could ever be– perhaps that’s why I’ve never been much of a drinker or had any interest in drugs. Just having that freedom to explore the world- I don’t mean so much travel as just exploring ideas & ways of viewing the world- that was enough for me. It was also the first time in my life I overcame my natural introverted tendencies enough to reach out & make new friends & build a true group of friends. It was the first time I felt truly accepted by a group of people for being nothing more than myself. It was the first time I didn’t feel like I had to underplay how smart I was or be fake in any way to try to fit in with a group. And the truth of the matter is I’ve never been able to recreate that kind of friend group since college. I am incredibly grateful for the few really close friends I have, one of which predates college, even high school, partly because I now realize how rare it is to find someone who you can stick close to despite the challenges & distance that adult life brings. But I still miss that feeling of being part of a group. Maybe that’s why I fell in love with Friends last year…
Anyway, all of this thinking about college of course makes me realize how “fake” it all was in some ways. That wasn’t the real world. It wasn’t a place I could stay forever. Part of me can’t help but be sad about realizing that too. Furthermore, the fact that I’ve lost touch with some of those friends- who at the time I thought I’d be friends with forever- is a bit heart-breaking at times. I know it’s just real life, & logically I know it doesn’t diminish the connection we had at the time. I guess what it all comes down to is something I’ve had to realize a lot over the past few months, particularly with reducing my hours at one job in favor of taking another one. The truth is that just because something is great doesn’t mean it has to last forever & just because something doesn’t last forever doesn’t mean it wasn’t great while it lasted. I keep coming back to this truth over & over again the past few months but I’m not entirely sure it’s getting easier to accept. Maybe it is. It’s something that I feel like is so simple, & yet it’s also so incredibly hard to accept. I’m not sure why. Maybe for some people it isn’t. But for me it is. Maybe it’s just the way I was raised. Maybe it’s just the fact that I’m married to the first man I ever dated. I don’t know.
I guess I’m just saying I miss the newness of everything in college. I miss some of the (cautious) optimism I had about the world. I’ll be the first to admit that almost a decade of nursing has made me a bit cynical, though to be honest I’m not sure that has as much to do with being a nurse as it does with just being an adult in general. And I’ll admit that sometimes maybe I let that cynicism get the best of me. Perhaps that is particularly true now that we’re facing a true worldwide crisis.
I guess I hate being nostalgic because it forces me to admit that I’m not totally happy with my current situation. Or at least I’ve always assumed that’s what being nostalgic HAS to mean. But maybe that isn’t true. Maybe it’s ok to be nostalgic sometimes, especially during a time of crisis. (Frankly at this point I’m just nostalgic for being able to take my kid to the grocery store!) Perhaps it’s ok to look back on the past sometimes & miss it. Maybe it doesn’t have to mean we aren’t happy where we are now. Maybe it just means we were lucky enough to experience something good enough to miss.
In my thirty years of life, I’ve come to realize that there are basically two types of people in the world: those who take charge of life, grab it by the horns, & create their own “destiny,” & those who sit back & allow life to happen to them, acting as passive passengers on this ride of life.
I like what British rock star Yungblud said about labeling people or putting them in boxes: “Boxes are for cereal. Labels are for clothes. We are human & the need for division is becoming less relevant every day.” Even so, I think it’s just human nature that we try to label people or put them in boxes to try to make sense of the world. Perhaps even more so in today’s world of constant information overload, I think we feel like we have to find some way to organize & process all the information that is thrown at us on a daily basis. At the end of the day I think we probably NEED some kinds of labels or boxes to help us make sense of the world- BUT we also need to have the presence of mind to know that not everyone will- or should- fit these boxes or labels, & furthermore that everyone has the capability of transcending whatever box or label they’ve been given- or have willingly claimed.
Anyway, when I say that there are these two kinds of people in the world I’m not trying to cause division or hatred or to make you, the reader, feel like you have to choose between these two types. It’s just something I’ve observed along this road of life & I’ll be the first to admit I could be totally wrong.
I realized a few weeks ago that I hadn’t taken any PTO in months- most likely since January when my daughter had her tonsils removed- so that wasn’t exactly a vacation! But I did take off work yesterday since I was in a wedding on Sunday & wanted a day to travel back home & generally recover from a busy weekend. As it turned out I got sick last night so that day off turned into two days off. As you can probably guess I’m struggling with guilt over being “lazy,” even though logically I know I need to rest & recover so I can get back to my normal routine.
As you’ve probably guessed from reading this far (or if you know me in real life), I am definitely the first type of person I described at the beginning of this post, & while I think there are great advantages to being this way, I have to admit I occasionally wonder what it would be like to be different. To not feel the need to plan so much. To not weigh every life decision with so much gravity. To not feel like I have no one else but myself to blame for my mistakes. To be able to just say “Oh yeah, life happens.”
But that’s just not me. I see what happens to people who allow life to just happen to them. In the end even indecision is a decision. Even inaction is an action. Does that make sense or is my sick mind just delusional? While some people might be happy living this way, I know I never could be. I may not be the most carefree person ever, I may be far too serious sometimes, but at the end of the day I don’t know any other way to be.
There’s a reason I was married for over five years before having a baby. There’s a reason Rachel is almost three & I’m still not ready for another kid. There’s a reason I haven’t gone back to school yet even though my original life plan was to be an NP by thirty (or thereabouts). I weigh these life decisions very, very heavily & I can’t make these kinds of changes until I know I’m really, truly ready- or at least as ready as I can ever hope to be. Sometimes I hate being so self-aware, so analytical. But I don’t how to be anything else so I’m just going to embrace it & hope that someone else reading this can relate & know they’re not alone in feeling this way.
So… which type are you? And do you ever wish you were different?