Sunday, October 10, 2010

In Our Darkest Hour

I woke up this morning with a clear, concise and powerful urge to listen to a song that I probably haven't heard since 2003 - Phantom Planet's "In Our Darkest Hour". Back then, I was 19, living with two of my best friends downtown. I'd been depressed for ages. I'd dropped out of school and was hemorrhaging my parents' money. I was smoking two packs a day, drinking every night; I was stalking the guy I'd lost my virginity to. The eight months I spent in that apartment were some of the darkest in my life.

 I don't remember where I was going with this. I'm sure I had something important to say about how music ties into memory, or hipster culture, or the Jason Schwartzmann/Phantom Planet "He is an actor but makes music as well, he is two things holy crap" novelty (astonishing then, but obvious now - creative people create)... but really, I'm just amazed at how clear the urge was. I woke up with the song in my head, with no ambiguity or confusion, no "ba da ba da, BA da ba da... what's that from again? This will bug me all day."

It's not even the most important song from back then; that honour goes to The Delgados' "Accused of Stealing", which was the last song I listened to as a tenant of that apartment. My best friend had kicked me out, forcing me to move back in with my parents in the suburbs - still the best thing she's ever done for me - and all my belongings were packed in the truck. At my request, she put on the song, a shared favourite, and I went into the empty room and cried quietly for a minute; it was an overture for tears that would later that night explode in a breakdown with my parents about how badly I'd failed, how sorry I was, how ruined and stupid and useless I felt.

Catharsis means "a purging". My best friend forced me out of a poisonous pit, and my body and mind began the slow process of expelling that vitriol, that self-hatred, that infection from my system. That breakdown blew open the places where the poison had leached in and began a cleansing ritual that's still going on. Most of it's gone now, but I'm still finding that poison hiding in crevasses, carved in my bones, stored in fat cells and false life lessons (an idea I will probably devote a whole later entry to, because it's a doozy).

I still feel the little pricklings of the poison when my apartment gets as messy as it is now; I haven't done dishes in weeks, I'm throwing garbage on the floor, I'm letting stains set in the carpet because I can't be bothered. I remember that I never cleaned back then, though I repeatedly promised I would, because fuck it, that's why. There's a part of me that is on constant alert for the switch between "can't be bothered" and "fuck it, that's why", an alarm that goes off when I'm near that particular threshold, and then I either pare the mess back from "filth" to "clutter" or, if I was dangerously near the edge, I recoil with a day of furious cleaning and get my place as close as possible to spotless. (Yesterday I bought a SteamVac. Coffee stain on my carpet, you are going DOWN.)

My time at the apartment is the phantom limb of my life story - gone now, long gone, forcibly amputated to stop the spread of necrosis, but still sending out little shards of pain to remind me it was once there. I wouldn't trade it, but man... sometimes I wonder what it would feel like to never have had to lose the limb at all.

Friday, October 8, 2010

To Those Who Sin

To the Westboro Baptist Church, to Fred Phelps, to the hideous lying propagandists of the American Family Organization and Focus on the Family, to the official dogma of so many sects of Christianity, to Anita Bryant, to those vicious hateful proponents of the opposition to Dan Savage's "It Gets Better" campaign, to everyone who looked at the above list and secretly hoped for a message of support:

Rest assured that you are evil, and the servants of evil. No good will come of you. That victorious feeling, the sickly sweetness in the back of your throat as you raise your signs high and vomit hatred upon the world? That is the taste of sin. Enjoy it now, because if anyone burns for anything, eventually you will burn for it. Eventually you will see how wrong you are.

I could explain why you are wrong, why you are unholy and sinful. I could cite science, but you won't listen. I could cite psychology, but you don't care. I could cite your own religious texts, but you would tune me out entirely. The research, the evidence, is there for the people that crave the clarity of fact and reality. But this message isn't for them; this message is for the people who find comfort in the cloying vitriolic cushion of choosing hate and pretending it is Love.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But some opinions are wrong. You, to whom this entry is dedicated, are wrong: fundamentally, ecumenically, intrinsically wrong.

I can't force you to see that. But I can say it, as often as possible, as loud as I can.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


What's that word for when you're caught in a current and you can't get over it until you drop under it?

This is where I will direct all of my mental currents from now on. Sometimes I don't make a whole lot of sense.

I hear that to be a writer you must just start writing things. I want to be many things, a writer among them, and this seems like as good a place to start as any.