Fall Out Boy ‘MANIA’ Review

Fall Out Boy arrives in 2018 with a return to form, bringing back some the old sounds pre-hiatus, while offering some new experimental sounds that hit all the right notes, no pun intended.

In short: The album is excellent – it offers something for everyone, and even the songs I didn’t expect to enjoy I ended up liking quite a bit. This album would not feel out-of-place if it were  a successor to Folie a Deux, and indeed feels like a spiritual successor with the confident and experimental sounds and vocals, and songs like ‘Church’ would fit right in with Folie with songs like ‘What a Catch, Donnie’ or even Infinity on High, with ‘Golden’.

I feel like for each song, you could find a pre-hiatus counterpart to a certain extent. The album seems to cut back and forth between songs that sound like Fall Out Boy, and songs that do something entirely different. The first half of the album is superb, but the second half is just a treat. Songs like ‘Church’ and ‘Heaven’s Gate’ are particular standouts, songs that fit like a glove for Patrick’s soulful vocals.

I enjoyed the entire album – even though I seem to be one of the few people who actually enjoyed ‘Young and Menace’, a song that to me, felt like an evolution to what we heard in songs like ‘Tiffany Blews’ and ‘w.a.m.s’ from Folie a Deux. Lots of this album feels like a call back to that era of Fall Out Boy, even spilling over to the ‘Infinity on High’ era. If the hiatus never happened and this album was the next one after Folie, I would totally believe it. I’ve grown to really enjoy Save Rock and Roll, and grown to find American Beauty/American Psycho rather dull and generic – but this album is absolutely my favorite of post-hiatus Fall Out Boy and feels like a new era of their music, separating them from their 2013-2016 music and leading the way towards the future.

Favorites of this album – The Last of the Real Ones, Hold Me Tight or Don’t, Wilson, Church, Heaven’s Gate

Least Favorite – Champion. Though not a terrible song at all, it is the least inspired of the bunch. Definitely middle of the road.

This album has my love for the band soaring to new heights. They’ve been my favorite band for years, but this is the first album that has truly gotten me excited since their comeback. Go give it a listen and support physical media and pick up a copy. It truly is a delight.

– Brandon

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The Breaking of Resolutions

Last December, I had made a couple of resolutions for myself that I wanted to lead into the new year with. Some of them were attainable, and already I’ve set myself into place with going through with them – I wanted to start using reusable shopping bags, and with that, be a little more environmentally conscious. I’ve done that – I’ve used the reusable shopping bags, or at least, I’ve done so the past few times I went shopping. I’ve also started using Walmart Pay, which allows me to scan my phone and get an eReceipt instead of getting a long piece of paper. We also drink an ungodly amount of soda, so I’m saving our cans to recycle at a local center. Small, doable things that make me feel better and do a little bit of good in the world.

One main resolution I had for this year was one that had carried over from last year, and the year prior to that, and the year before that… I wanted to stop biting my nails.

I’ve suffered from biting my nails for as long as I can remember. I don’t recall a period in my life where I haven’t seen my nails getting ever so longer and I don’t get the overwhelming urge to bite and chew them off.
It’s partially a symptom of my anxiety, I’m sure. Partially because I’ve been doing it for so long, I’m sure it’s comforting.
But I absolutely hate it. It hurts my fingers and makes me feel gross and makes my fingers look gross and I hate stubby nails with a passion. It’s so bad that my ex-girlfriend used to smack my hand away from my mouth whenever I tried to bite – something that I didn’t appreciate enough at the time.

I’ve tried clear nail polish. Jalapeno juice. Vinegar. Disgusting nail polish made specifically to help with biting nails. None of it lasted more than a few days – and I stopped caring and my nails I kept biting.

But this year – oh, man. This year I felt strong. This year I felt I had it.
For the first couple weeks, I bit my nails at a rate much smaller than I had in a long time. My nails started growing white over my fingertips, something I rarely experienced. My thumbs had nails. I could scratch my arm and feel satisfied.

This was finally it!

But then… I noticed my thumb nails. My teeth chattered. I started picking at the nail, and within a second it was in my mouth. I thought to myself, “I’ll just bite on the nail a bit, not rip it off. That’ll be okay.”
Little did I realize that by doing that, I was weakening the nail. Easier for it to be torn off with my hand later on.

And both nails came off.
And that snowballed into most of my left hand – just taking a little off. Just trimming a bit – until I was back to where I started.
I have a little bit of nail left, but I still felt ashamed. I had come so far only to let myself down again. How could I? How could I take that away from myself? I’ve been biting my nails for twenty years and I can’t summon enough willpower to just stop?
How weak am I?

New Year’s Resolutions are fickle things. They are spur of the moment and come because you get washed away in the feeling of renewal and starting over.
Time doesn’t exist – and the Julian calendar we use only means something to us. The concept of a new year only exists to us – but in reality, days just keep passing. The New Year is just a way of keeping track.

So the question is, why wait for a new year to start making yourself better? If you know you’re going to have certain resolutions, why not start the second you think of them? It’s for the same reason that the laundry can wait until tomorrow. The diet can wait until Monday. You’ll start your new, tighter budget next month. You’ll stop biting your nails next year.

It’s validation that we’ll eventually do the right thing, and gives us a way to keep putting it off. There’s always another tomorrow, another Monday, another year.
Until there isn’t.

And that’s the difficult part.

 

So while I may not have succeeded just yet in my lifelong quest to stop biting my nails, I’m not going to let it get me down yet. I won’t wait until next year. I’ll keep trying until I do it again and then I’ll just start over again – because while keeping track of time is so inherently human, something else that is inherently human is the drive to persevere and to keep moving forward, no matter what happens.
So with that in mind, I’ll keep working towards my resolution. I’ll keep trying.

And I’ll let you know if I ever succeed.

To whoever might be reading this, I hope you’re succeeding in all you’re trying to do – daily, weekly, monthly or for the New Year – I’m sure you’re doing great, and if you don’t feel like you are, there’s always a chance to get back up and try again.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

– Brandon. 8:15 PM.

 

Are you happy? – 2018

This is the third time I’ve tried writing this post.
I don’t know why I seem unable to come up with a coherent thought on this matter that I actually want to say and I don’t mind putting forth, but here it goes.

I don’t want to focus if I’m happy or not – it seems the more I think about the subject, the more unhappy I become. Call it blissful ignorance, for sure – but if I don’t seem to realize how unhappy I am with everything, I feel like I can go about my life in a bubble of sort of faux happiness.

But I’m not delusional – I take medication to make me feel okay. I start on another in a day or so to help with my anxiety. Actually, I’m taking all the same medications now except for a sleeping medication that I took back when I had my first battle with depression – with an additional medication to help with my cholesterol, because heart problems run in my family, but I digress.
I don’t have friends, except for my girlfriend. She has friends, and they associate with me through her, but ever since I graduated I don’t talk to anyone.
I don’t write anymore, as much as I’d like to. It seems like I can only write poetry when I’m going through something and I feel like all my fiction has been shit thus far.

Literally all I have the energy to do is watch YouTube, eat, and sleep. I can’t even bring myself to start a series or something because it’s too much work and commitment.

I try to talk to my girlfriend about it. I don’t like therapists and I don’t really trust in my family, so she’s the one I try to go to, but it feels like she can’t really understand it. And I find it hard to explain it. How do you explain that you feel one step out of sync with the rest of the world? That everything continues on and you’re just stuck, ski-skip-skipping.

I don’t have any suicidal thoughts – on the contrary, I am literally so afraid of dying it’s crazy. When I drive to work, or when I walk through the shady parking lot on the way back to my car, or when I go into a crowd, or when I read any news about the state of politics. Or when my grandmother tells me she’s having open heart surgery because bad hearts run in the family.
Or when I have a pain in my chest, or I can’t get enough air in my lungs, or my vision gets blurry because my headaches get worse and worse and I’m afraid of having a brain aneurysm, heart attack, and lung collapse all at once.

I’m afraid that I don’t believe in God and when I die it’ll just be another thing that I got wrong and I’ll spend eternity in pain.
I’m afraid that I’m right and when I die, that’s it, and I’ll never recall being who I am and everything I experienced and all the trouble I went through will mean nothing.
I’m afraid of pushing people away who needed to stay and keeping those who I needed to step away from.
I’m afraid of being so afraid that I don’t take any of the steps in the direction I want to take to better my life and do the things I want to achieve.

I’ll be twenty-one this year. If my girlfriend and her parents have their way, I’ll be engaged by the end of it. We’re looking at houses once our lease ends. I’m in a steady job that I hate but pays my bills and has cohesive benefits. We make enough money that I can mostly buy what I want without too much concern. My girlfriend loves me and I have no fear that it’s insincere.

On the outside things are okay. I’m doing better than I ever have been, and if seventeen year old me could look in on this and see what’s going on, he’d probably sock me in my mouth and berate me for complaining – after all, this is nearly everything I had hoped for.

But it’s never as good on the inside. I’m not the person I wanted to be. I’m scared I won’t be – scared I won’t ever have the chance to be.
The world moves on but I’m just ski-skip-skipping.

And that’s it. That’s it on one page. That’s the pain and struggles and worries I have – that I try to keep inside and not think about in the hopes that they won’t bleed through the cracks. And with everything out on one page maybe I can keep in contained – locked away in a webpage prison, separate from myself. Maybe I can will it out of my head and into the real world where I can keep it away from me.

Maybe, someday, it’ll fade away and I’ll catch up with the rest of the world and finally feel in sync.

Maybe.

Here’s to 2018.

 

The State of 2017

The first time I tried to write this post, it was a long, dramatic, introspective look at this year and how I felt it changed me. With relationships, with my depression, with my writing, with how I saw myself and who I felt I was.

But after nearly being finished with that version, I stopped writing. And I’ve been thinking about it for a couple days.
And I’ve decided that it is insane to dwell on what has happened to me this year, the good and the bad, knowing all too well that it doesn’t do my mind any favors. I think 2017 has been the year of burning the past – I started the year with a mantra of ‘the universe tends to unfold as it should’, and even Kylo Ren knows that it’s time to leave the past behind and go forward.

2017 was a growing pain year. It was a shit year for the world, and it was a tough year personally. I spent the year from start to finish in love with the woman I’m more than likely going to marry – I graduated high school – I finished a new book of poetry I’m proud of.
But my depression returned. I lost friends. I lost purpose and lost sight of myself in far too many ways.

But we’re moving forward. This is but one year in the many I have left, and though it wasn’t great, it was transitional. It is setting up the stage for better things to come – whether I always believe it, or not. It’s time to kill the past and march forward because no matter how much we may want to, you can’t return to the past and you can’t change what has already been done.

I have a long way to go. In myself, personally. To those I care about around me. To the purpose that I hope I find. To the world.
So while I could choose to exit this year in a way that would still be fairly true to how I feel – I choose to discard that. I don’t want to exit the year thinking about the negative. Putting too much thought into it is only going to give it claim in reality, and negative energy and depression have no place in my life, and not in my 2018.

There will be tough times. But struggle and pain and sadness does not equal worthlessness. I’m not naive enough to believe that my clinical depression will be cured just by thinking positively enough, but I think it’s time that I set aside a place for happiness and hope to take a seat.

No matter the time it takes.

And that’s my resolution for the next year.

 

On an additional note, a couple extra resolutions for myself to look back on this time next year:

  • Continue to try to stop biting my fucking nails
  • Use reusable shopping bags as often as possible
  • Build relationships instead of building walls around myself
  • Read a few books for fuck’s sake
  • Do more stuff
  • Have a solid, feasible plan for college
  • Never be cruel nor cowardly.
  • Laugh hard. Run fast. Be kind.
  • Don’t eat a single pear.

 

So going forward, I wish everyone a happy, pleasant new year – and I hope everything ends up the way you wish and meets your every expectation.

With love:

That’s all I have to say about that.

The Star Wars Problem

Possible spoilers for the film Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Proceed with caution.

I wanna preface this – as a massive Star Wars fan, I love the original trilogy, I have some vague respect for the prequel trilogy, and I have thoroughly enjoyed The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, despite their glaring issues. I don’t dislike any of the film’s – I really don’t even hate Phantom Menace.

My issue that I’m starting to have with this new, corporate, Disney Star Wars is that they seem to lack depth. Whether it is or not, it seems to have a major issue of ‘making it up as they go along’, which for a franchise with such a rich, deep, extensive history and plethora of lore at their disposal, seems to stick out more than should be acceptable.

TLJ was a great movie. I really, really enjoyed it. But looking at the movie as a whole, I start to feel a little underwhelmed. Snoke was underplayed – supposedly this big, powerful, deeply evil villain – that they do zero with. Rey, this character that teases depth and intrigue – never delves beyond what is teased. It seems like a movie that is focused on teasing and setting up without ever paying off – and not in a way where it builds excitement and curiosity for the next film, but where it feels lazy and unfulfilling. All these characters are teased to be these great characters, but sadly end up staying in this little box of personality that doesn’t show anymore growth than when we first met them. They go in circles – we meet them, they show that there may be more than meets the eye, we reach the climax that should affect and change the characters, then they plateau into the same people they always were.

Take Rey, for example. In the last film, we see a desert scavenger that is shown to have a strange connection to both the Skywalker’s, and the Force as a whole. She is shown to be immensely powerful and a natural with the Force, proving to be a more than fair match to Kylo Ren, who has been training in the ways of the Force for years.

What’s her lineage? What’s her connection to the Force? Why is she so powerful? Who or what is she really?

Flash forward to TLJ. Rey is an incredibly powerful user of the Force, shown to be an equal to Kylo Ren and almost Luke Skywalker himself, is able to feel both sides of the Force, walk into the Dark Side and back out again – and is a desert scavenger born to two drunkards. None of it pays off. None of this grows her character in any way – she’s powerful and shown to be an embodiment of the Light Side of the Force to match Kylo’s embodiment of the Dark, but neither she, Luke, or us as the audience have any clue why.

Anakin Skywalker was a child born of the Force to fulfill a prophecy that would bring balance to the Force – in a world where the Jedi ruled as a ruthless, arrogant system of government, Akakin’s descent into darkness throws the Jedi off of their high horse and proves that their arrogant ways have led to their downfall. As Luke states in TLJ, the Force does not belong to the Sith, or the Jedi – it belongs to every living thing. The Force uses Akakin to end the Jedi’s narcissistic hold on the Force, and then uses his child, Luke Skywalker, to bring down the Empire and restore peace within the Galaxy and within the Force, completing the circle. It’s all one prophecy that fulfills itself over the span of about forty years or so, starting with Akakin’s life and ending with his death.

This is what was intended. George Lucas may not be a brilliant writer, but they was a plan in place, there was a story to be told, and the pieces (mostly) fit together.

But what is Rey? What is her purpose? What is she trying to accomplish? So far, we’ve had nothing to tell us why she is what she is. Why she’s as powerful as she is, or even what her connection to Luke and the Skywalker bloodline really is. She’s very well acted – but in the grand scheme of things, it feels like she’s pointless. It doesn’t feel like she’s that important to the world and to the rebellion around her – while, once again looking at Luke, he was a key player in the Rebellion. A brilliant pilot who was instrumental in the destruction of the Death Star, a powerful Jedi, and the son of the second-in-command of the Galactic Empire. He had purpose. There was a reason why he was important to the story and the people around him. And each installment built on his importance with an extra layer to who he was.

Rey? She means the exact same from TFA to TLJ – hardly any growth, and nothing explained as to why she is what she is, or really even what for that matter.

To me, the only characters that make sense are Kylo Ren/Ben Solo and Finn. Ben Solo really should have been the focus of the trilogy – born of Skywalker blood, lured in by the Dark Side of the Force, yet unsure of himself and how evil he actually he is. He just wants to be something – and to prove himself to those around him and the galaxy. He’s seen as a temperamental child, and he acts the part – but while Anakin had been totally torn down and rebuilt in the image of the Dark Side – both metaphorically and literally – Ben is just a conflicted young adult.

Why wasn’t he the key focus of the trilogy? A Skywalker torn between the image of Darth Vader and the reality of Anakin and Luke. Desperate for power and a place in the world but still unable to kill his mother and only driven away because he thought he had been betrayed by his uncle?

And Finn, a meaningless, nobody clone who had always been in the First Order but pulled himself away knowing that he wasn’t like them – and chose good over evil.

They have purpose. They have reason. They can be built upon – but where’s the foundation for Rey, our main protagonist and the keeper of the flame of the Jedi after TLJ? It isn’t there. There isn’t a point, at least a point that is planned out, thought out, and then executed.

This is my problem with a great deal of the new Star Wars’ movies – a lack of a point. The Death Star had a great deal of history and gravity. Starkiller Base? Not so much. The Galactic Empire had a reason and a purpose – the First Order? Just being evil, I guess, led by a villain who never got to make their point before being Darth Mauled into irrelevance. They build up these things as huge, important plot points and never pay them off – and that’s just not fair to the audience.

Now, this could all be rendered null by December 2019.

The 9th film may show us that Kylo and Rey were being utilized by the Force to create a union between the Dark and the Light, forcing the end of the Jedi and the Sith, who have caused too much pain, war, and death in the universe. It might explain that after all these years, the Force was trying to bridge that divide – the Force is a force of life, after all, and having two religions that create a divide between Light and Dark just make death. Kylo and Rey were the vessels to do so – and together, instead of toppling the First Order, they rule it together and restructure it, creating a new Republic that isn’t fixated on the ideals of the Sith or the Jedi. No more old religions, no more Empires and Rebellions – just unity.

Or, it might not. It might be vague plot points and pointless exposition or not enough exposition and a lot of fighting without any purpose or reason to fight and end without any satisfying resolution to lead to another trilogy where they do things just for the sake of doing them – without any rhyme or reason or story to back them up.

Like I said before, I do enjoy the new movies – quite a lot, if we’re being honest. But I’ve just been thinking a lot about these things and wanted to voice them a bit and get my thoughts out so they weren’t just echoing around my head. I’m hoping that I’m wrong – that come 2019, all will be revealed and everything will come full circle and we’ll be able to look at the trilogy as set of movies that tell a specific story for a specific reason. It’s just that beforehand, each movie told a specific story while contributing to an overarching trilogy plot point – which is something that, as of right now, the current trilogy of movies can’t very well say.

But I’m optimistic – if not with life, than at least with Star Wars, haha.

And as with everything else, here’s looking to the future.

Happy holidays.

 

 

Blind Faith

I envy those who can have it. The types of people who don’t need anything other than what they believe themselves to feel within – they don’t need reassurance, they don’t need evidence, they don’t need answers. They just understand. They believe they know.

And that’s enough.

Of course, this could be taken a multitude of different ways. Blind faith in a leader, or in an organization, or a religion – frequently a combination of all three. Or perhaps just the other side of the coin to anxiety – not having to worry about every single last little thing there is, and just knowing that all will be alright. Being able to close your eyes and let the universe take you – as it tends to unfold as it should.

I am not a religious man. After years of struggle and contemplation, I am an unswayed agnostic. I never could quite bring myself to make the delve into calling myself an atheist, only because I believe that it would be rather arrogant – I can’t say that there is a god, but who am I to say there isn’t at all? I don’t have the answers and I don’t claim to – I just have the information available and I use it to the best of my understanding.

I used to identify as a Christian. I did so right on this very blog, in a post talking about theocracy in America a couple years back. I am uncomfortable with that moniker – as I don’t like modern Christian thought in the slightest. I think Christians are rather un-Christlike. But I do know there are exceptions to the rule, to some extent – I currently date someone who would be categorized as an Evangelical Christian.

She’s not as hardcore when it comes to a lot of stuff. She’s politically liberal, as well. It’s just that her religious beliefs hang on that side, as do the majority of her family. She was raised in a home where it was taught as fact, with little outside influence. They’re also very traditional in their beliefs, unlike her – the fact that we live together outside of marriage is a particular point of contention, despite this being the year of our probably non-existent lord, 2017, and a rather common part of society.

The issue is, though, is that that doesn’t matter. Society doesn’t matter. The world doesn’t matter. Only the perceived word of god, timeless and everlasting.

Blind faith.

They don’t like me very much – her father is fairly accepting of me, her mom is a little further away – and her extended family just tries not to think I exist. It stings a particular bit more when my side of the family – also fairly religious – tends to accept her with open arms. Even my staunch Conservative grandmother who doesn’t like us living together loves her dearly. Yet her side doesn’t want much to do with me.

At what point does this become an issue, or does it at all? Can one enjoy a long-term relationship with such contention on one side due to a fairly significant difference? The plan is to marry this girl – but how can you go through a life together while also trying to constantly avoid a good chunk of family?

I wonder how it would go. I can spot little details already – if I tag her in a couple’s photo or something on Facebook where her friends can see it, her side of the family comments something about her, ignoring the fact that it was either posted by me or includes me. On the flip side, the side of her family that isn’t very religious tends to talk about us as a couple, as a group, as a union. It may seem trivial, but I find it to be an interesting comparison – and it really shows me that, despite it never being said out loud, the big elephant in the room to them is the religious difference.

Is it significant? To a degree, but is it completely unworkable?
I’d like to think not. Sometimes I wish I could just close my eyes together real hard and when I open them back up, suddenly I understand why belief in a god is still incredibly relevant in modern society. It would honestly solve a lot of issues – both internal and external.

But as I’ve gotten older and strayed away from religion, the ability to have blind faith has withered away. Maybe it’s cynicism. Maybe it’s residual angst. Hell, maybe it’s just depression, back at it again. But I can’t stand and say that I know everything will be okay, that everything will work out right. That I’ll be fine and do great things and that my significant other’s side of the family hating me doesn’t affect me when it really does. That I could go to church and feel like a deity has my back and not feel like I’m screaming at a void.

I pity those with blind faith and other times – for different reasons – I wish that I had it.

If I don’t end up posting again before the new year, happy holidays.

Things may be rough and you may feel terrible, and that’s okay. You have a right to feel those things. You have a right to feel those emotions run through you and understand them. I don’t know what is inside your head, but just know that even though things seem so bleak and out of focus – you’re not cursed. You’re not alone. You are you for all that you are with some brain chemicals that are a bit out of sync.
At the end of the day – we’ll all be okay.

Even if takes a little longer for some than others.

 

Cold, Cold Man

Music is too fucking powerful, man. There are bands I absolutely adore, but there are some songs that I listen to by bands that I’ve never given a second glance that just make me shut my mouth and go back in and time and watch a film reel of memories that make my skin tingle and make me choked up and relive a dozen feelings that I hadn’t felt in a long time and missed dearly.

What am I?
I have become so disassociated with myself that it hurts. I look back at myself from various points in my life and they feel like different people. I don’t feel like an evolution of who I used to be, I feel like an recreation of what I was that someone made from faint memories. Sometimes, I don’t feel real. I feel different than what I was twelve months ago – I look back on those memories and feel like it was another man making decisions and than he died and I woke up sauntering around in his body confused and anxious and unsure. I take medication in the hopes that these feelings will dissipate. but it doesn’t make me feel happy, really – instead, it’s like looking at my depression without glasses. It’s blurry and unclear and I can’t make it out, but it’s still there, lurking, waiting – just out of sight enough for me to occasionally put it out of my mind.

I feel so out of touch with who I am that sometimes I’ll put on one of these songs just simply to remember. To feel it. To let those memories wash over me and let me feel a recreation of emotions that I’ve missed feeling, whether directly or not.
I know I’m a cold, cold man, and it disappoints me. I could be better. I could be different. I could be who I want to be and not hurt those around me if I could just take the time to pick up these pieces in front of me and do my best to put them in their place. I don’t, though, because I’m a narcissistic piece of shit – I think that I’m fine, that I am who I am, that this is natural, that I know who I am, that I can think for thirty seconds and suddenly diagnose all of my issues. I can’t let anyone tell me what my issues are, because they are always wrong and it’s only valid if I come to terms with it first.

I am a cold, cold man. I’ve probably done half of this to myself – everything I miss, everything I regret, everything that I don’t like about myself – a good portion of it could probably be remedied if I didn’t force myself into a little corner where only I exist, and only I know who I am.

But the problem I have now is that after doing that for this long, now I’m at the point to where I feel like I don’t exist.

So, I play the songs – Cold, Cold Man by Saint Motel, Texas by Magic Man, and Bloom by The Paper Kites to name a few that are hitting particularly hard right now – and let it wash over me like a rainbow of colors against a blank canvas. I feel human. I feel alive. I feel like I am Brandon again. In touch with who I was and who I am and who I hope to be.

Then, they fade away. Memories locked back in my head again waiting for the moment that they can come back and show me myself. Waiting for the songs to play.

I’m hoping one day, everything will finally come together and I’ll connect with the world and all of me comes back to me. The puzzle will finally be completed again, and you’ll be able to see the entire image for what it is.

Until then, I’ll be here, listening to the songs play over and over again, washing over me until I flood.

 

This is the Sound of Settling

“I’ve got a hunger twisting my stomach into knots
That my tongue has tied off
My brain’s repeating, “if you’ve got an impulse, let it out”
But they never make it past my mouth.”

Death Cab for Cutie is one of my favorite bands of all time – in fact, if you took Fall Out Boy out of the equation, they would be my favorite band. And despite how much I love Pete Wentz, the lyricism of Ben Gibbard is absolutely unmatched in my opinion – and it honestly sets the bar for the level of imagery and metaphor that I would someday love to reach. As I write, I’m listening to ‘I Will Possess Your Heart’, an excellent song off of an album of theirs that I once considered my least favorite, but love dearly now.

But I digress – for this isn’t about my love of Death Cab and the poetry of their lyrics.

I’m twenty years old. I have, with any luck, three times my life yet and if I really get what I want, more than four times. Yet for some reason, I constantly go through life with the fear that I’m running out of time – and I’m not doing anything with it. I currently work as a phlebotomist for a plasma donation center, and for people who know me they’d know that that is something entirely out of left field for me – and something I have no passion for. I can’t bring myself to devote any time to the novel that I’ve been writing since the eighth grade, I’m currently not doing anything to further or utilize my skills or hobbies, I have approximately zero friends, and sometimes I feel like my girlfriend and I are just sort of in auto-pilot without much emotion.

I’m not doing what I want to be doing, I don’t look the way I want to look, and I still have the terrible feeling that I need to do something soon or everything I do will be for naught.

But what’s even worse about it, is that I feel like I don’t know exactly what I want to do, either. Am I settling? IS this what I want? Is there something deep inside me that I haven’t tapped into and I won’t feel fulfilled until I experience it? I have no clue.

I’m lucky enough to have things that I’m passionate about – because some people don’t have that. My girlfriend frequently feels melancholic because she says there really isn’t anything she feels that way about. I have writing, and acting, and film, and politics, and… she just sort of, does.
I can understand the frustration that comes with that – but on my side, I worry that I’m interested in all of these things enough, but I don’t know what I would love to do, or love to be.

The point I’m trying to make is this – I know what I don’t want to do, and what I don’t want to be. I feel that I have the general jist of where I’m heading, and I’m unsure if that’s what I want to be.
All that I know for sure is that I want to be happy.

But I’m not quite sure how to accomplish that just yet. School? People? Activities, hobbies, places, things? It isn’t clear – and I think my main obstacle is my lack of direction. I have no clue which way I need to go and I feel like I’m flailing. I have no plans for school – I have no goal set for what I want to be, other than a writer – and I have no support system in place other than my girlfriend, and as dearly as I love her, you gotta have friends.

I’m standing in place – stationary – as the world goes by around me.
Like a moment trapped on the event horizon of a black hole.
And I’m gone in one instant – yet there as everything goes by.

I feel like I’m settling for settling. I feel like I have options and a way out but I’m settling for this.

I sit in front of my computer alone in my apartment typing and listening to music play while I debate if I want to cook dinner and wait for Cel to come home and rant to me about her day. I’ll take my medication at nine PM, go to bed around ten or eleven, then wake up tomorrow and drive half an hour to a job I hate and day dream about other places I could be and other things I could be doing.
Then I’ll drive home – hit some of the traffic at five – then come home to an empty house and sit in front of my computer and feel like I’m not doing anything.

And wait for the days to pass me by.

This is the sound of settling.

– Brandon, 6:46 PM

Little Blue Pill Blues

(NOT A POEM)

I’ve struggled a lot with how I felt about taking anti-depressants. There is no doubt in my mind that they work – and they help and safe millions every year. They are incredibly important and without them, I can’t say whether or not I’d be here today.
I started taking them when I was about fourteen, and I stopped when I was around sixteen/seventeen.  As I’ve stated before, I stopped taking them because I didn’t feel like they were necessary anymore, as my depression had weaned away quite a bit and didn’t feel like such a constant presence to warrant taking them everyday. I didn’t want to take pills that changed how I thought and how I felt – once I felt like I was stable, I simply wanted to be me with all the feelings that came with it, even if it meant the occasional spell of depression.

I didn’t want to be defined by my pills. I didn’t want to be that person that took anti-depressants – stupid or not, as that may be. I know there are people out there with depression and bipolar disorder like myself that simply can’t function without medication – and that’s just fine. That is completely understandable, and I feel incredibly lucky that despite having this mental illness, I was able to ever be stable enough not to take them.
And I didn’t want to have to take them forever. I wanted to be able to utilize them for a time, bring myself together, and move forward. And I did, for a time, as I got better.

But as I stated before, the depression came back, and it hit hard.
It took a long time before I even thought about getting back on my medication. I waited for weeks for the illness to go away – I tried doing things that made me happy, I accomplished things that I had waited for years to do, I lived round the clock with the love of my life – but a lot of the time, when it cuts this deep, there really isn’t anything that can be done to temper the effects. And it’s difficult, for yourself and the people around you that maybe can’t understand what it’s like, and expect you to be a certain way and aren’t sure how to take it when you aren’t.
And when it affects so many aspects in your life, you have to really sit back and consider what would be best – and that’s what I did.

I could,

A) Try and wait for the depression to go and hope for the best
B) Get back on my medication and do something about it
C) Wait until it completely engulfed me and something even worse happened

With that hand of cards and no end in sight, I knew that something had to be done, and after a great deal of time thinking and considering, I went to my doctor and was given a new prescription of a medication that I’ve had a long history with, Zoloft.
It was the first medication I started taking way back when. Young, angsty me even wrote a poem about it called ‘Zoey’ when I was fifteen or sixteen.

I don’t like that I have to take them, but I understand that I need them. There are somethings that can’t be solved with fresh air and meditation – somethings that can’t even be solved with love, attention, and care.
Sometimes you need the extra help, and I certainly do. It’s not anyone’s fault that I can’t produce happiness the way other brains do, but it’s my responsibility to myself and the people I care about to make sure that I do what I can to make myself better.

At this point in time, I’ve been taking them for under a week. There’s no signs yet of whether or not it’s going to help, though I already feel a little better knowing that I have them. Anti-depressants usually take four to six weeks to kick in to full capacity, so I suppose we’ll see where I’m at at that point in time – and hopefully there’s nothing but good to look forward to, with any luck.

Hope the last few months of 2017 are treating anyone that reads this well.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

– Brandon, 5:31 PM

I Don’t Know Why I’m Sad

(NOT A POEM)

If has not been made obvious yet, either through the content and themes of my poetry or the few and scattered journal-like posts, I have depression.

I’ve dealt with serious depression since I was roughly fourteen years old. I remember vividly being younger than that – perhaps around ten – and writing in my journal something along the lines of :

“I feel sad a lot for some reason. I feel depressed – not the medical kind, but I don’t feel too happy.”

Little did young me know that it was, what I had called, the ‘medical kind’ of depression. Inherited through my mother’s side, it kicked in hard when I was in my early teens and I started taking medication. My depression was a very key factor in my growing up and a factor in my personality, for better or worse. I started writing poetry and short stories as catharsis for my many sad thoughts, my lack of a social or love life, and just the constant feeling of being alone. It helped me feel better. It helped me feel like I wasn’t alone, even though I was just reading my own writing.

When I reached seventeen or so, I stopped taking my medication. I had reached a point where my depression was no long a constant roommate – always looming and poking at me and being an active part of my life. It had been relegated to a recurring character in the story of my life, hitting me in small bouts every so often through out the year, and kicking in with my Seasonal Affective Disorder in the second half of the year. But it was no longer a big part of me – and being able to function and be me without the medication was a worthwhile trade.

I was okay. Maybe not happy, because I have only felt truly happy a few times in my life – but content. And okay.

And it stayed like that for a while. About two and a half, three years. I even stopped writing poetry, for the most part. I was a changed person, and I mostly embraced it – sometimes I would worry that my depression was too much a part of me, and that something was missing in my life without it.
But ultimately, I knew that that was a ridiculous notion and I continued moving forward – and mostly had a great deal of fond memories wrapped around it. I was in the first serious relationship of my life, I had entered theatre in my junior year of high school and after trying a handful of various activities I finally felt like I found the place I belonged – I had friends. I had people who liked me. I was as happy as I felt like I could’ve been, and I didn’t want to let it go.

That’s why I ended my first relationshjp – because I felt that as I was attempting to rise above the confines of my depression that I had let define me for so long and finally become someone new in of myself, the woman I was with refused to do the same. I felt that she wanted to stay depressed and I felt like she was pulling me down with me – so I ended it after nearly two years, and I went back into my life with confidence and by god… I was actually happy. For about three months, I felt truly and completely happy – I was popular and liked and I felt attractive and wanted and talented and I fell in love with someone new who didn’t compromise my emotional growth and I. Was. Happy.

It quickly faded. I jumped out of theatre to work more hours at my job to pay the medical bill I had been given after a car wreck, and that stands as the biggest regret I have so far. I faced a lot of those little bouts of depression off and on as the year went on, and I hated how things regressed so quickly.

A couple months later, something happened and then my depression showed up on my front door with its suitcases full of sad songs and tattered clothing and anxious thoughts and reminders of my mortality.

He lives with me now, full-time, a constant companion again for the first time in years – but in those years we weren’t together, he went to the gym and ate well and came back as some sort of jacked up mother fucker who not only made me sad, but gave me more anxiety than I have ever had before – done in such a way that I am never out of their grasps. I get anxious, and it makes me depressed, then I’ll get anxious about why I’m so depressed, and it’s a vicious cycle that shows no signs of relenting.

I have many of the things that I always thought would make me happy, back in the old days of being depressed. Not all, but many of them – and yet, none of it makes me any less depressed.

I don’t know why I’m sad. Sometimes I feel sad about things that I know I’m not sad about. Sometimes I just sit and soak in a pool of black – and nothing is real to me except for the fact that I feel terrible and it’s who I am right now.
For god’s sake, I wrote a whole new poetry book in just under a year dealing with a lot of it.

I don’t know what to do. I don’t know where to go. I don’t know what to say. Would theatre make me happy again? Would actually having some god damn friends make me happy again? I have no fucking clue. Things have passed that I thought would mark the end of my depression, but surprise! It’s still there. So for all I know, none of that would make it go away, and that’s the scary part – I just don’t know what to do.

I feel helpless. I even considered rethinking religion because I feel so damned lost, but I can’t bring myself to do it because it’s so damned ridiculous.

At the beginning of this year, I asked myself and whoever the hell reads this if I was, and if you were, happy. And here at almost the end of the year, I can say – I am not. I don’t know when I will be. I’ll ask the same question next year just to check in, but things don’t seem to hopeful.

Though I am always hoping things get better. Every day. Because no matter what I sometimes feel, I am not depression and depression doesn’t make me who I am.

Also – “The Rubble Before Us; Fleeing Dreams and Other Things” will be out sometime in the next six months, hopefully, maybe. You can read all of the poems in it on here, anyways.

Well… we’ll see.
See you next year.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

– Brandon, 8:45 PM