“But for all I aspire, I am really a liar…

…and I’m running out of things I can do.”

Those aren’t my words, but I truly mean them.

You know when you put on music because your head’s just brimming full of shit? And you wonder if you’ll be able to just let some of that shit go if you ram your head full of noise somehow? So you put your headphones on while telling yourself that you’re justified in doing this, because it’s better than storming out of a room with your fingers in your ears whilst shouting, “LA LA LA I CAN’T HEAR YOU HAHAHAH SHUT UP WHO CARES” all in one breath. Yes. At least you wouldn’t do that, right?

Except today, the lyrics feel like they’re a bit louder. So you’re going through your device settings or whatever, to see if you selected a different equaliser, just in case. No, that isn’t it. OK, fine. You switch tracks to try and get the words – any words – out of your head, because fuck words right now.

But for all I aspire, I am really a liar.
But for all I aspire, I am really a liar.
But for all I aspire, I am really a liar.
But for all I aspire, I am really a liar.
But for all I aspire, I am really a liar.

STOP IT 

But… for… all… I… aspire…

NO

I am really a liar.


I know that it’s a symptom of mental illness to take things too personally, like this song is about me! personally. Not everyone is talking to me. Or about me. Thank goodness. I know this. But that thought seems not to matter when I need to remember it most. When I feel small, when I feel vulnerable, when I feel far too shitty for words, the rational thoughts are just… gone.

Of course, this gives way to the irrational stuff. Convincing myself that maybe I feel this shitty because I am shit. A shit person. Made of shit and full of shit. A shit person who does shit things for the shit of it. Who wastes their shitty time thinking about how shit everything is. What a shitlord. That’s me. I’m a shitlord. Not #1 Shitlord, though. I’m so shit that I’m #2.

And maybe I can’t pretend that music will chase away the shit that I’ve invited into my shitty life. Not today. Maybe I’m just a horrible liar who deserves to eat shit and die. All the things I’ve done are shit. Everything I do to hide my truly shitty nature just makes the whole thing shittier. Rotten. Stinking. Foul beyond belief, to anyone with a nose and half a brain.

I am a disgusting liar.

I am sick.

Twisted filth.

I must be stopped.

How do I even begin my daily routine of kidding myself? How have I been doing this for so long? And why can’t I just do it again today, like every other day? Have I finally reached my tipping point? Is this the point where I completely lose my mind because I finally see myself for who I am and can’t get away from it this time? Am I finally at critical mass, ready to pollute anything around me?

Or am I just

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in need of reminding that these awful moods are transient? Temporary. Not so brief, but also not so permanent.

When I’m happy, I am sometimes inclined to tell myself that it isn’t always going to be like this (yeah, I’m great at parties…). Yet, I can’t seem to do this when I’m sad. I guess this is why people have those Live, Love, Laugh signs in their houses, maybe? It’s why I want to write Lighten Up, Asshole on my mirror, definitely. I won’t, though.

Mental floss aside, I guess I’m just glad I don’t feel so miserable right now. I’m not at that level of neat-o, gang! excitement, but it’s nice to be able to cross the street with a sense of purpose, instead of contemplating just giving up and lying down in the middle. Almost anything’s better than that.

Neil Gaiman hits the nail…

…on the head yet again. Here’s a post he wrote explaining how he feels about the entitlement an audience feels versus the ways writers spend their time.

“It seems to me that the biggest problem with series books is that either readers complain that the books used to be good but that somewhere in the effort to get out a book every year the quality has fallen off, or they complain that the books, although maintaining quality, aren’t coming out on time.

Both of these things make me glad that I am not currently writing a series, and make me even gladder that the decade that I did write series things, in Sandman, I was young, driven, a borderline workaholic, and very fortunate. (and even then, towards the end, I was taking five weeks to write a monthly comic, with all the knock-on problems in deadlines that you would expect from that).

For me, I would rather read a good book, from a contented author. I don’t really care what it takes to produce that.”

This is in reply to a fan who asks if he’s justified in being frustrated with George Martin, the author of the Game of Thrones books.

This is something that’s kept me from publishing and presenting work before; to me it’s a very big deal. I’ve held things back in the past because although I felt I created something quite good, I simply couldn’t stomach the thought of being seen as not very consistent. So I became reticent instead, which was much more painful.

I made myself decide between the possibility of being seen as a flash-in-the-pan one trick pony, or just not doing anything at all. It turns out that I love what I do far too much to let paranoia and other things get in the way. And I’ll admit that anyone who knows me well will tell you that I’m really bad at doing nothing.

So if doing nothing is not an option, why not do what you love and love yourself and your work for getting better and better as you go along? And why not share the results? I’ll say that it is important to work hard and that involves pushing yourself when you really don’t want to be touched or even awake, but I also think it’s conducive to sound output and proper motivation to be able to do certain things on your own terms. It’s a tricky one.

And here’s two more cents when you thought you got to the end of it all: Trent Reznor is one of my favourite artists (even though this passage could just as easily be about David Bowie, but I digress). I gave up reading reviews on his work pretty early on because what a lot of people were saying didn’t make much sense to me. I just wanted something like “this recent release is reminiscent of ________” or “get excited because ________!” I wanted to know what to expect because I think it’s interesting to gauge the changes to an artist’s work and influences over time.

But I ended up finding too much stuff about his personal life and weird value judgments based on things that have happened to him. WHAT THE FUCK. I WANT TO BEHOLD ART, NOT HANG THE ARTIST. Everybody seemed to be counting the years between albums and discounting their influence. All of a sudden, I couldn’t talk about the music I liked anymore. It became trés cool to shit on the guy. I became the only Nine Inch Nails fan I knew. Eventually, people were using him to judge me. I still can’t get a handle on how fucking weird and inherently unnecessary it all was. What is wrong with these people? Uh… can’t they just all fuck off for a minute?

Then the band broke up. Not long after their performance in Auckland in Feb 2009, I believe. I was in hospital during the concert date and didn’t know about the imminent finality of it all; I believed I’d catch them at another live date and all would be well. Which ended up being true earlier this year, but at the time, I was dejected. I blamed anyone and everyone who started shit and talked shit and acted like shit about the band. But I respected the decision. There’s writing I’ve done that I won’t look at very often because of the mindset it puts me in. Art pieces I haven’t shown anyone because I’m deathly afraid of explaining what motivated me to create them. Dark days for stark strays. Reznor wanted to move on. On some level, I get that. I think we all do, at least a little bit.

But they came back together and I was embarrassingly excited. Still am. That band is fucking serious. Those people work hard. And they’re good at what they do. But I think they know what a lot of artists know – constantly burning yourself out is no way to live. There’s being hard-working and being prolific and satiating various creative urges, but there’s also the fact that if you die for what you do, then you can’t do it anymore.

And I don’t mind waiting if something of this calibre is the result:

Artists have lives. Let them live those lives and gather inspiration in their own ways and in their own time. If you don’t like it, then you can go be a fan of something else. But life is chaos and art is even more so, so please just try to enjoy something if you can.

Writing 101: Snapshot Stories

Writing 101: Snapshot Stories

For now, all I can contribute is this screengrab of my Facebook.

I’m not one to ‘promote’ my face. I dodge photographs. Part of it is self-consciousness, but part of it is because I know of too many horror stories about people relying on their looks, only to have their lives ‘ruined’ when said looks start to fade. These days, I’m focusing on things like not coming to a battle of wits only half-armed. Making myself laugh. Reading things. Writing things. Learning more. Self-reflection. Brain stuff. Sentence fragments. Y’know?

I also know of far too many people who think I owe them something just for looking a certain way. It’s terrifying.

So I decided I’m not really a ‘selfie’ kinda person. Not that I’d berate anybody who is, what’d be the point? But I made an exception, because I wanted my profile picture to (kinda) match the cover picture. So there we go.

And if you don’t know who the person in the larger picture is, that’s Ilan Rubin. He’s the drummer for Nine Inch Nails, one of my favourite bands ever. I saw them live this year, along with Queens of the Stone Age (they happen to be my other favourite band, don’tcha know…) and Brody Dalle (of the Distillers and Spinnerette, who I also have on heavy rotation) on the 22nd of March.

I still remember reading in some local mag that NIN & QOTSA & BRODY ARE COMING, GET IN THERE and going so fucking nuts that I was kicked out of the store I was in. I got my ticket later that day. Then, three weeks before the show, I had to sell it. It’s embarrassing to admit, but I cried a little bit. Being ‘adult’ sucks. I’m obviously only dabbling in the concept of maturity (insert more negative self-talk here). But it was the only way I could fix a crappy financial situation at the time (without asking for help of course, because Ilene is an island. Go figure…).

Then, someone asked my parents if I was going to the show. They responded in typical fashion, wondering who gives their bands such weird names before realising that OH HOLD ON, aren’t those the bands we’ve been hearing come out of her room all those times? They asked me later that day if I was going, and I couldn’t say anything. I was too disappointed in myself to make a single sound. For anyone who knows what a loud person I can be, that was really… well… unlike me. They freaked out. I changed the subject.

Two weeks before the concert date, I was on my usual DEAD MAN WALKING shuffle to the letterbox (I was waiting for blood test results and a couple of invoices, wahoo), when I noticed a courier pack sticking out. “Meh,” I thought. “Probably for my roommate, he’s always ordering interesting things. Should someone have signed for this? I’ll take it inside.” Then I saw it was addressed to me.

WHAT

Ripped it open.

THIS IS A TICKET

Looking at billing information.

MY PARENTS…?

Oh… wow…

I called to thank them and all they had to say was along the lines of: “Ask for help next time, you silly-head. And don’t get wasted or get into any fights, OK? We love you. Please have fun. You deserve this.”

That show (seriously, they came all the way to little ol’ New Zealand, to Christchurch – the Broken City. I love that place.) was a well-overdue chance for me to have a great night and not give a single fuck for anything else. I don’t remember being so comfortable in a crowd of people like that. I don’t even really like leaving the house. But for once, that familiar panic didn’t even have a tiny chance to creep into my mind.

I danced like an idiot. I gaped in childlike awe at the light show. I knew every single word to every single track, each of which I could name in the first few seconds (there were still a lot of people saying things like, “Wait, who are they again?” – seems like a lot to spend on a show that doesn’t mean much to you, but oh well… I bet they had fun anyway). I saw people from back home. I made friends. I helped a super-drunk lady find her super-drunk fiancée and watched them super-drunk hug each other whilst yelling sweet nothings in each others’ ears. Messy and loud in the nicest way possible. They gave me a hat they found to say thank you. I handed it in to Lost Property because I’d be bummed to lose such an adorable hat. I saw a lot of band-themed tattoos. I… uh… lots more things I’d take forever listing.

I was happy.

And it makes me really happy to remember.

Music is the language everyone has a shot at understanding. I was surrounded by people who understood. Thousands of us there to see and hear what we have in common. Nice New Zealand people in a nice crowd to hear some nice things from some nice North American people (and an Australian. Tasman love!). That is what it was and it was perfect.

-drops microphone-

YEAH.

Special mention to my UK-com partner in crime, Becky MacLeod. ^_^