Remember that song from back in the early oughts from Augustana? You forgot that was a band, didn’t you? I imagine people of a certain age would remember their hit “Boston,” but this one came to mind tonight. I’m positive I discovered this band through a mix cd someone made me in college, though I couldn’t tell you who or when or why. I was absently scrolling Instagram tonight, as one does, and another college friend shared this poem that hooked my heart and squeezed really hard.
I’m not sure I have anything to say that isn’t articulated or implied or remembered herein. Poetry, like painting and sculpture, is whatever it evokes in you. This one speaks volumes to me.
Tonight on my walk home from work, I noticed these petunias curiously growing out of a crack in the cement, presumably by happenstance. I feel like there’s a ripe allegory here, but the words aren’t coming to me.
I am heartbroken by the news of Taylor Hawkins’ death overnight. Just 50 years old.
Taylor was the drummer of my favorite band, Foo Fighters. I just read Dave’s autobiography this winter and saw their ridiculous horror movie last month. This band has been part of me for 25 years. I feel like I knew Taylor so well.
I’ve seen them so many times. Their first sold out arena show in DC in 2012 back when it was still Verizon Center, on The Mall in 2014, opening night at the Anthem in 2017, their first time at Merriweather in maybe 2017 or ‘18?, and I was looking forward to seeing them soon in Boston over Memorial Day with my brother and sister in just two months. I’d been waiting for that show since before the pandemic. Incredible to think the show will go on but, without the headliner. Or, so I assume. At least without Taylor. Though I can’t imagine how they go on anytime soon. I can’t fathom it.
This feels awful. It feels really heavy and unfair and, frankly, unbelievable. As much as I am hurting and sad, I cannot imagine what his wife and children and band mates are experiencing. I feel especially for Dave and Pat, who have both already had to deal with the tragic and shocking death of another friend and band mate. And for Dave, another icon. Let’s not debate the value of Kurt versus Taylor, okay? I’ve seen that (near-sighted and self-indulgent) slant and let’s just not go there. Either way, far more tragedy than any person deserves in this life.
For months now I’ve been saying that, at some point every day, and some times all day, I feel like I am one setback away from completely losing my shit. It is terrifying not to know what magnitude of stumble might be the one to push me over the edge. Could it be something catastrophic like another Ukraine, or KBJ not being confirmed to SCOTUS, or something very trivial like not being able to find my keys one morning, or being too hangry to make dinner? Or could it be losing a beloved titan of rock n roll?
The music for the mood today is a FF song that Taylor and Dave often traded places for when they played live. I find myself hearing Taylor’s voice singing Sunday Rain this morning, singing these words while those hard rock chords pound through my chest. It does nothing to numb the pain but sometimes you need to just feel.
Fun fact: Sir Paul McCartney played drums on this track on the FF album. I just love the hell out of that.
You don’t generally think of him as a drummer. But he laid that track so fucking effortlessly. He never even heard the song – Dave kind of explained it to him with an acoustic guitar. And he was like, ‘Yeah, yeah. I think I know what you’re doing.’
Taylor Hawkins – From Rolling Stone, September 6, 2017
For a couple weeks now, this powerful punch from Rage Against the Machine’s song of the same name has been reverberating through my brain. That it is now officially the short month during which this country seeks to recognize the historic struggles and contributions of African Americans is not lost on me. I’m not intentionally seeking to personally appropriate a song meant as a battle cry against the forced ideals of white America and an unbelievably prescient commentary on teaching (or not teaching) critical race theory in our schools.
Now thirty years old, it is just as frustrating and loathsome now not to have witnessed enough quantifiable progress for Black humans in this country as it was when this song was bumping and thumping through car stereos at deafening levels in the 90s, when the multitude of humanity’s hues were chanting and raging the lyrics with indignant anger, though often misplaced and misdirected toward parents, religion, teachers, and other entities representing authority. Teenage ignorance masquerading as defiance, really.
“In the right light, study becomes insight
But the system that dissed us, teaches us to read and write
So-called facts are fraud
The rage is relentless
We need a movement with a quickness
You are the witness of change and to counteract
We gotta take the power back”
“Take the Power Back” – Rage Against the Machine (1992)
Because I wasn’t even in high school when Zack de la Rocha was yelling these words, I cannot pretend that I understood the lyrics then. Lord knows you couldn’t Google lyrics back then. I used to record songs from the radio onto a cassette tape and then pause, rewind, and play the lyrics over and over and over until I memorized them. I can still recall every word of Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” by the way. It suffices to say that I wasn’t memorizing Rage Against the Machine’s lyrics back then.
In fact, those metal bands of the 90s like Metallica, Pantera, Megadeath, and Rage kind of terrified me. Those bands are what the “bad” kids listened to, the kids I had no interest in being around and, because I rarely talked to anyone beyond my family and very few friends in that time of my life, I sure as shit wasn’t listening to the music of “those” kids to try to assimilate. Motown and the Golden Oldies were what my family listened to and that’s what I liked! I’ve come to legitimately love some of those hard rock bands though and I couldn’t tell you when or how that happened. I’ll be seeing Metallica in concert for the second time in my life in a few months, and Rage somehow became the go-to soundtrack to my workouts. There is nothing as motivating as those opening, angry bars from “Killing in the Name” — you have to grit your teeth, you have to grimace, you have to growl the words through your chest — it just happens. Those songs have also been the soundtrack to more than one season of heartbreak … you know, after the sadness and self-loathing phase, when the anger pulses with such force that you just need to get it out? Yeah. I’ve been crashing on that couch, off and on, for a few weeks now. It isn’t comfortable and I still don’t sleep, but it serves a purpose on this journey back to myself. Again.
I have always marveled at the ignorance of those “bad” kids back in my hometown. Honest to g/God, they probably still bang their bloody heads off to these bass lines while screaming along. But those tough, redneck, steel town boys, now men, are also the ones who used to litter my social media timelines with bigoted, biased, conservative bullshit. Those unfiltered and appalling voices are the reason I haven’t had Facebook in years now. I do not miss it. And if I tried to point out the irony of their views and the music that molded them, they’d brush it off the same way they do any challenge to their glaring and profound ignorance.
Anyway, the lyrics of this song make me angry. And they help me rage enough to get up and get through another day. If I allow myself to not think too much about what de la Rocha is really saying, if I allow myself to just feel Morello’s guitar and thrash into the emotion, those words “…take the power back,” are a battle cry for me too. Personally. I am personally trying to take back the power —- the power to move, the power to heal, the power to take care of myself. I won’t stop fighting for justice and equity for humanity, in February or beyond, but right now, I’m fighting for me. I’m fighting to remember who I am, fighting to trust again, fighting for what I can give to the world if I’m healthy and my heart is glued back together, fighting for someone who wants to be present in the lives of people who are waiting for me to resurface (hopefully they can wait some more), and I’mfighting to be proud of that person again … once I find her.
First step: I bought myself a subscription for fresh flowers from UrbanStems. Is there anything more delicately and intricately perfect than a ranunculus? I think not.
Step Two: Found a new therapist. One who understands trauma in all its forms.
Next step: A solo vacation this week. I need Vitamin Sea (and D) and my soul needs to recharge.
I’ll be fine. I’m making progress. Sunshine will help. So does Rage.
But I did hesitate. I heard this cover last night and I’ve listened to it a bunch of times since. Most people associate The Cure with feeling happiness, lightness, get out and want to dance in the sunshine giddiness. Especially this song, right? But I find Phoebe Bridgers version better matches the feelings The Cure songs evoke in me. Have you ever listened to “Cut Here” — no? Look it up.
The Cure always reminds me of this guy I dated in college. My first boyfriend, I guess. My first kiss (at 21!). He was the captain of the guys’ water polo team, I was captain of the womens’. He was into the Misfits, Ramones, Dead Kennedys, and all the punk bands. And The Cure. He wore black jeans and threadbare band tshirts and a studded belt. And those fat, cushy, skater boy shoes. We went to a formal once and he showed up with his hair dyed jet black and spiked all over his head. I loved it. My own hair was just growing back from having shaved it all off so mine was short and spiky too. We looked like Sid & Nancy dressed up as a polished, normal, country club couple. The picture from that night is still a favorite. I couldn’t find that one but I found this one — walking around in the rain, on a trip to Boston a few months later, when he showed up with bleached hair. I hated that look.
His name was also John. His friends called him “Johnny Utah” because he was actually from SLC and dripped all the adventure and confidence of his namesake from Point Break. My friends called him “the damned mess.” I don’t even remember why — but it became a term of endearment. He was delightful. Funny, handsome, athletic, deliciously tall, and wickedly smart. He’s a doctor now. Married, with three boys, to a girl we went to college with. I know it wouldn’t have really worked with us, at least not the me I grew into. I eventually went the opposite way in religion as an adult while he embraced our tiny, uber conservative, Christian bubble of a college and went on to marry a woman who became a pastor. No shit.
But I do wonder. I’m me, after all. Maybe I’d have become a different girl, a different woman, one that fit me and this world better? To this day, he’s still the only guy I’ve ever pursued, but also the only one I’ve ever broken up with. And that kind of haunts me. The what if and sliding doors of it all. Every other one of the handful I’ve dated has always left me, if not immediately because they were cheating (twice now) then soon after, for other women that they marry. I always said I broke up with him (the night before I flew to Cali for nationals in 2001) because he was too good to me, too nice, too into me, and it just freaked me out. Flying away for a week the next morning was a convenient ejection plan. I remember getting back and his friends were all so angry at me; I’d lost my mind doing that to such a nice guy. Frankly, so were my friends. There was just too much pressure to find your soul mate and be engaged by graduation at that place.
But, if I’m being honest, I think I actually thought that my friend was my “soul mate” and was holding on to a weird little nugget of hope but didn’t want to admit it. I think Johnny Utah knew that too. He’d spent enough time with me and my friends. He always knew there was a connection to one guy that he couldn’t replace. That friend ended up breaking my heart after college though. Something from which I’ve never quite fully healed.
I don’t like admitting that but it’s the truth. I’ve written about that relationship here before. The point is that I hesitated with that John. And here I am 20 years later. Still single. Still wondering about what ifs. And a lot about karma as it relates to another John.
On Friday, I wasn’t in love. I hesitated. Again. I told the dude from last week that I wasn’t feeling it and didn’t want to lead him on. Via text. Like an asshole. And then I blocked him so I didn’t have to know what that (probably) nice guy had to say in response. So I wouldn’t have to over-process another thing in my relentless mind. Like a technological ejection handle, minus the California sun.
I want to move on. I’m tired of reminding myself that what happened is real. That the past three years were not real. I want to meet someone that makes me not just forget but understand why it never worked with anyone else. Why “the damned mess” is not destined to be my best, forever. Someone for whom I won’t hesitate.
Having a real Detlef Schrempf kind of day. And, yes, I know the title of this post comes from a different Band of Horses song but, honestly, those words are all too sad and loving. I’m more in the sad and unloving camp today.
That’s the thing about heartache, right? Especially the kind caused by a blindsided betrayal. You vacillate between disbelief and anger, aching to quench your thirst for retribution, and then sometimes, you still feel the disbelief but also just want to remember the way they looked at you, and hope they treat her better.
As much as I loathe thinking about it, I do hope John actually loves Crystal and wouldn’t dare cheat on her again. Let alone for more than three years, again. I still cannot wrap my brain around it. Certainly not my heart.
I don’t know how other eyes look at you. I hope everyone around you finds out who you really are. I’d like to know how those eyes look at you then. You certainly know how mine did. Once.
I’m looking forward to looking at someone else like that again, sooner than later.
“When eyes can’t look at you any other way, Any other way, any other way So take it as a song or a lesson to learn And sometime soon be better than you were If you say you’re gonna go, then be careful And watch how you treat every living soul”