Let Down

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Why is depression killing some of the boldest, most influential voices of my generation?

We lost Chester Bennington yesterday. It’s been just barely over two months since we lost Chris Cornell.

They were rock stars. They moved in the same circles. They performed together. They had “rock star issues.”

But the “rock star issues” seem to be pounding the life out of my generation, most visibly in the musical community.

What fucked us all up so bad? We seem to opt out in our forties and early fifties. Could it have anything to do with looking at the future and not seeing one as our parents did?

I don’t fucking know.

And the tears fall like rain
Down my face again
Oh the words you wouldn’t say
And the games you played
With my unfoolish heart
Oh I should have known this from the start

Oh the winter and spring
Going in hand in hand
Just like my love and pain
How the thought of you cuts deep within the vein
Oh this brand new skin stretched across scared terrain

I don’t want to be let down
I don’t want to live my life again
Don’t want to be lead down the same old road
So I don’t want to be let down
I don’t want to live my lies again
Don’t want to be lead down the same old road

All those years down the drain
Love was not enough when you want everything
What I gave to you and now the end must start
Oh I should have listened to my heart

‘Cause I don’t want to be let down
I don’t want to live my life again
Don’t want to be lead down the same old road
So I don’t want to be let down
I don’t want to live my lies again
Don’t want to be lead down the same old road

Oh

I don’t want to be let down
I don’t want to live my life again
Don’t want to be lead down the same old road
(I don’t want too be let down)
So I don’t want to be let down
I don’t want to live my lies again
Don’t want to be lead down the same old road
(I don’t want to be let down)
Don’t want to be lead down the same old road
(I don’t want to be let down)
Don’t want to be lead down the same old road
(I don’t want to be let down)
Don’t want to be lead down the same old road
(I don’t want to be let down)
Don’t want to be lead down the same old road
(I don’t want too be let down)
Be lead down the same old road

Dead By Sunrise – Let Down

I listened to this song over and over after I gave my ex-husband the second chance and he blew it. It is so hard to accept that this person who expressed my emotions better than I could myself suffered from the same mental illness that still tries to pull me down every single day.

The future is bleak.

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Losing Everything

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Is like the sun going down on me.

I was writing a post about dealing with a Trumpkin relative on Christmas Day, but I suddenly realized that person doesn’t matter and isn’t worth the time it would take me to write about their ignorance and prejudice.

I give you instead George Michael.

Fascination.

Human nature.

Let’s go outside.

I know you want to, but you can’t say yes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwZAYdHcDtU

And with Sir Elton John:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwZAYdHcDtU

I took a chance and changed your way of life

But you misread my meaning when I met you

Closed the door

And left me blind by the light

Don’t let the sun go down on me.

The Queen of Swords

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I really got interested in Tarot this year because of a friend who has a huge collection of decks and knows about as much as one can about the subject. I wasn’t keen on the idea of a Tarot app, but being almost broke right now, I’m unable to buy a physical deck. I saw Stephanie Pui-Mun Law’s Shadowscape Tarot app mentioned on Twitter and checked it out in the iTunes app store. It was one of the few complete decks that didn’t require in-app purchases and it was only 3.99, so I bought it.

I already loved Stephanie Pui-Mun Law’s art. If you are a fan of hers and interested in Tarot, I’m positive you’ll love this deck, whether you buy the physical deck (the card on the front of the box is the Queen of Swords) or the app. The app menu:

  • New Reading
  • Draw a Card
  • Today’s Card
  • Journal
  • Explore

There’s a settings menu where you can choose to allow reversed cards (I turned that off since the book doesn’t give reversed interpretations) and change the “reading cloth” (background.) The journal saves all your readings (the app offers several spread options) and allows you to make notes.

On the 26th of November, I selected Card of the Day. I got the Queen of Swords. On the 27th, I selected the Spirit Spread of three cards and the third was the Queen of Swords. Then I heard that the second single from Idina Menzel’s new album is called The Queen of Swords. (It’s an awesome song, BTW.)

So obviously there’s message for me in this card. The Shadowscapes guidebook says, “With her blade, the Queen of Swords slices through lies and deceptions to the heart of truth. She is honesty and inner knowledge. The Queen of Swords is an intelligent woman, witty, and humorous in her forthright way. She is valued for her accurate perceptions of the world around her and for her experiences. She has gazed within and knows that when she turns her eyes to a mirror, the reflection is exactly what it should be, and the light that shines within her soul blazes bright in the glass.”

There are a lot of lies around me. There have been for a long time, and I’ve developed a sense of when something is hinky. I don’t feel that anyone values my experiences. That’s been a problem I’ve had lately. I’m not taken seriously. I don’t see what I want to see in the mirror because I feel devalued. Maybe this card is telling me to stop seeing myself the way that those untrustworthy people see me.

I look at the card in the app every night. I go to sleep thinking about it. I feel that maybe I’m starting to regain the power over myself that others tried very hard to take away.

The Winter is Really Here Now

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And the summer became the fall

I was not ready for the winter

Today doesn’t even mark a full week.

Things to hold on to: the “super moon.” Go out and look at it. The moon is closer to us physically than it has been in 69 years. Start stargazing. The stars are always there. I follow several Twitter accounts devoted to astronomy. The best are @LunarDaily and @EarthSkyScience.

Things to hold on to: plants. Spring comes early here. Growing a producing tomato plant from seed takes months. I planted a mushy tomato in a pot last night and put the pot before a sunny window. I hope to have seedlings soon. Hope. Planting a physical seed means you still have hope.

Things to hold on to: intuition. Do you suddenly realize that you’ve been drawing together a protective world of books, sewing projects, art supplies, Tarot cards? These are physical things to sustain you through a long winter. They are tangible things to busy your hands and mind.

Things to hold on to: friends. Many friendships ended with the election. This is tragic. I was so happy last night when I received a DM from a friend I consider more a sister than my sisters, even though the subjects of our conversation were not in any way happy. But that friendship endures.

Things to hold on to: children. The little girl next door still wants coloring books and juice boxes and stories.

Things to hold on to: pets. They feel the stress too. Give them extra attention, treats, and walks. Start feeding wild birds, although they aren’t pets. They will quickly become dependent on you and you on them.

Things to hold on to: day to day. Eat what you damn well please. Spend the weekend in your PJs. Put your favorite sheets on the bed. Burn the candle that’s too pretty to burn. Reread the book you know by heart. Let more light into your home. Look out windows you usually keep covered. Rediscover your space.

Things to hold on to: there are many many many people feeling just like you do and they are out there. You’re not alone. We’re not alone. Our strength is our ability to think of others before ourselves.

Things to hold on to: music.

Take me to the sky

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This feels odd because 30 or so years ago, this house was very different. I was spending the night with my grandparents because my mother was working second or third shift. I was supposed to be sleeping in the guest room at the front of the house. The bedroom was off the living room. My grandparents had placed a small black and white TV on top of their sixties Hi-Fi stereo cabinet. I guess that it was for me. I slipped out of the bedroom in the middle of the night and found Stevie Nicks.

This performance was several years old when I first viewed it on that little television. I was born in 1973 and was probably 11 or 12 when one of the three major networks, or more probably UHF, re-aired this concert. It was like being in the presence of some mystic occurrence. It was like an evangelical baptism. I became an ecstatic member of the church of Stevie Nicks.

Stevie has never disappointed me. She has always been a role model, creatively and personally. She hasn’t always been perfect, but she’s always been human, and reachable. She’s influenced so many of us creatively but as I get older, I admire her lifestyle more and more. She’s a class act. She’s been through a lot of shit and beat all the addictions and she’s on another solo tour at age 68.

She’s my spirit animal. Rhiannon is my spirit animal. Not the Rhiannon she plays at the piano today, but the Rhiannon in this video. I don’t feel attached to the Rhiannon that has evolved over the decades since I saw this concert in the middle of the night. I feel attached to the ballsy, whiskey-voiced Rhiannon who came through Stevie that night in 1978.

Stevie’s original Rhiannon introduced me to feminism. Rhiannon ruled her own life. Even as young as I was, I got it. I find myself turning back to this performance to ground myself in these backwards days.

feminism

They take it away from you, the men

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I laughed. My mother and her albums. She had been eighteen in 1977, and already dating my father. They had bonded over music: the Eagles, Elton John, Queen, David Bowie. My mother’s parents didn’t allow her to listen to any of it. My father was two years older and had been on his own since he was seventeen. My mom kept the albums and the turntable. She loved Stevie Nicks, had all her solo albums, and had taken Shay and me to a concert in 1998. I remembered so many women in black chiffon finery, top hats, and crescent moon necklaces, the feeling of being safe in the midst of the crowd, singing along with the songs I had heard over and over at night from the record player in the hallway, the blonde goddess in her glittering shawls. My mother gave me a fairy ragdoll that she had spent three months sewing at night. It had black hair, blue eyes, and blue wings. She pushed me through the crowd to the front of the stage, with Shay hanging onto her arm, between the security guards, and I held out the doll, and the goddess took it from me, and her fingertips brushed mine, and a couple of pieces of black and gold fringe caught in my charm bracelet. The goddess didn’t seem to notice, or maybe it was as if she had gifted me strands of her sparkling hair in exchange for the doll.

I kept the fringes of her shawl in my jewelry box that had a twirling plastic fairy instead of a twirling plastic ballerina.

“I wish you still played the albums,” I said. The turntable was on a wooden cabinet in the hallway. My bed was a few feet from the hallway door.

“Me too,” my mother said. “They take it away from you, the men.”

“What?”

“The music. You tie it up in your mind with them and they go and the music is in a knot.”

I tucked my mother into bed, and went to my bed, and put a Stevie Nicks cassette into my tape player, and I fell asleep with my headphones on so Shay wouldn’t bitch.

How could you just leave us standing

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It seems like the people who got us through the worst times, even though they never knew us, even though we never knew them, are leaving us all at once, just when we need them again. These dreadful, dreadful past few years. This horrid year. The U.S.’s steady descent into defiant bigotry. Presidential candidates who are suitable for nothing but fodder for late-night TV show hosts’ opening monologues. We grew up but we still needed Lemmy. Bowie. Natalie Cole. Glenn Frey. Alan Rickman. And now, Prince.

Prince Rogers Nelson seemed to have a joyful and seductive spirit. He made us dance. He made us stare in frank lust. It annoys me when talking heads mention that he was physically small. I never saw him as small. I saw a man with absolutely no self-consciousness who would do anything to make sure that the audience had a good time with him. Yeah, I know exactly how that sounds. But he appeared on our radar as this guy dressed like he had just walked out of one of those paperback pirate romances that hit the height of their popularity in the mid-80s, at about the same time that Prince became one of the “pop stars” who dominated MTV.

References to Prince as a pop star also irk me. He was a guitar god. The Eric Clapton quote has been going around the Internet all day. “What does it feel like to be the world’s greatest guitar player?” Clapton: “I don’t know, ask Prince.”

Prince was 14 years older than I am. He was one of the artists whose music filled my teen years. I followed his career, sometimes actively, sometimes casually, until his death yesterday. Less than a week ago I read that he had the flu. I expected him to recover and be with us for a long time. As of the time I write this, the cause of his death has not been announced.

Prince, like David Bowie, had the ability to evolve musically and keep creating and keep engaging fans for decades. Like Bowie, Prince went through personal stylistic changes, some dramatic, some just weird, but he never lost us. He went from 80s pop star to 2000s rock star. He took total command of the stage. I remember people making fun of him, his style, his overtly sexual music in the 80s. By the time he died, he was a respected artist and a superstar. He was respected for his songwriting, his talent with the guitar, and as a person who did not let down his fans. You can see all that in the partial video of his Superbowl halftime performance.

There isn’t going to be another artist of Prince’s calibre, or David Bowie’s, or Freddie Mercury’s, although we lost him so long ago. It seems that there is no new ground to break and it’s all style of some sort, not appealing in any way to me, over substance. At least we still have their music. I hope that Prince and David Bowie and Freddie Mercury and all of the ones we’ve lost know somehow what they meant to each and every one of us.

Prince’s Superbowl Halftime Show