Why I am loving FourFiveSeconds today.
It seems the dreariest days are the most transcendent.
FourFiveSeconds is a prayer for the frustrated and lonely. A prayer for we who are miserable and terribly brokenhearted. We share in our misery, our honesty in downfall. Rhianna, Paul McCartney, Kanye are all gods and will live eternally through their music like all the gods before them. But in this piece, they are both god and man. Here is where we connect, where heaven and earth become one. In songs like these that make our gods like us. We share together in misery, we both need hope. We need something to hang on to when you’re about to break.
I think I need to break this down. Having grown up in the private Christian school system for literally my entire life, I have gotten used to thinking about Jesus. My junior bible class specifically taught us to try and see religion through a different lens, so we could learn to sympathize and appreciate all religions as human experience. He would give us examples for different world views through music and popular culture. Really, there are a lot of factors that contribute to this theory. This same high school two years earlier taught us how to understand religion in mythology and philosophers. I have always loved Greco-Roman studies, since childhood. So here all this is milling in my brain for roughly eighteen years of my life. I go on this trip to Greece last year and something hit me. Being there, immersed for two weeks in their world, I understood how the gods existed. And they worked a lot like the religion I knew. The gods are on some untouchable plane, Mount Olympus and Heaven. They have sons and daughters that resemble them and can work wonders in the world on the god’s behalf. Their children have free will and can choose to obey or disobey their god. Sacrifice. The only difference is, the Christian God is three gods in one God, the Holy Trinity. The Greco-Roman gods are endless. They each represent a different element of life or death. They are each separate personalities, who interact much more intimately with their world than the Christian God.
Okay. Now think about musicians. They come to earth and share their music. They entice worship from their followers. They die and their music lives on. The truly transcendent musicians is where we find our gods for our culture. The gods can be Mozart and The Beatles, Jay-Z and Beyonce perhaps our Zeus and Juno. I’m sure you get the picture.
When songs like FourFiveSeconds come along, it reminds me of the purpose of music. It helps us remember our humanity but to also keep looking for hope be it in letting yourself lose your shit even though the week is only half over knowing you can build yourself back up the next day.
I first heard this song on the radio on my way to school one afternoon. Immediately I loved it. I could feel the words pulsing through me like I already knew them. It’s this kind of music that needs to be popular because it’s music that resonates with every person with a heart beat. We need to know that the people we celebrate and worship are just as vulnerable as we are, because they are the people we look to for sympathy and understanding.
When it’s thundering inside my head and I can’t shake the troubles that are haunting me, I make a playlist of heart-full power songs and dance. Songs that can take me away from my own world and allow me a glimpse of the sublime. Music is religious. Making music is religious. Dancing to music is religious. Concerts make me feel like how church felt to my Christian friends.
I guess to sum things up, religion is a vital part of the human experience. But it’s okay to not believe in a god. You can believe in music. Or the love of puppies. It’s all up to you.
Sometimes I put myself through a series of mental self-esteem fits when something goes wrong in my day. Josh says he thinks a dog I want to adopt is ugly automatically I’m filling in blanks that I have created: “you’re fucking dumb if you think a dog like that is cute,” “I mean, get it if you want, but know that I will inwardly hate you for the duration of its life,” “I think your choices are worthless,” “what the hell is wrong with you?” These thoughts seem to come from nowhere, but looking closer at what I’m feeling at the time this reaction manifests, I find that it’s all coming from being snubbed. It’s that same feeling I had as a child when I had gotten in trouble. Not the I-know-I-was-doing-something-bad kind of trouble, but the trouble I got into when I thought I had been behaving in a normal, sociable and correct manner, but was in fact an insult to whomever witnessed.
I am thinking specifically of the time I embarrassed my father in front of the young nurse at our pediatrist’s office by telling her a story about his loud farts. It made me laugh, so I thought the thing to do was tell someone else and see them laugh, because I enjoyed that as a child. But instead, he blushed and smiled politely though the appointment, and then as soon as we made it to the parking lot, he slapped me twice and told me not to ever embarrass him like that again. I felt hurt, and very confused as to why.
It’s this feeling of unintentional wrong that brings up this torrential wave of inner hatred and confusion. And because I love this person, I absolutely must make any amends to make it right again. Because if I didn’t have this person on my side, my world would become a torn place. I have put my pieces back together with Josh. All the pieces that shattered me as a kid with a terrible father, and the pieces that falling for complete assholes that break me. I found places for my own in him, and together we’ve created a stained glass home.
Well its been a hot second since I posted anything. Here is a list of major life events that have happened to me in the last week:
- My boyfriend proposed unexpectedly and I said yes.
- We almost adopted a puppy together but then Craigslist failed us.
- We decided to get married next month.
So now I’m a 22 year old bride, which in retrospect, is what I always wanted to be. I just never expected my small childhood dream to manifest itself in real life so accurately. The thing that still gets me, though, is the getting married in January part. The way I envisioned this happening was, my fiance would deploy for six months and in the mean time, I would work on finishing my degree and start planning a dream shindig with my mom. My mom and I have a weird bond over conversations about weddings. It’s important to us. Then, he would come home and we would do things like tour venues, taste cakes, and plan a honeymoon. You know, the fun things that engaged couples do together when planning a wedding. And after a year or so of being engaged, we would tie the knot and live happily ever after.
But unfortunately, I never get to have the special moments I wanted as a child. Its foolish of me to even believe I could. Childhood promises of, “of course you’ll get to be a debutante,” and “we’ll make sure your wedding is a grand occasion like mine was,” I realize are trivial little snippets meant to let me believe I could be or do whatever I wanted when I grew up. In a conversation I had with my mother, she expressed the reality of the situation as it seemed to her. If we get married, we get married. That’s it.
Before this conversation, my fiance and I had a plan. We would have a super low-key marriage ceremony in front of a local judge before he deploys, so that way if anything were to happen to me, he could come home. When he got back, we would plan a real wedding for all of our people to come to and that’s when we would really get married. I would consider the part that happened beforehand as more of an “engagement with benefits.” Meaning, all of the financial benefits of being married, but I still get to feel like a bride on our big celebration wedding day.
Maybe its because my mother was raised by a traditionalist elite. She doesn’t seem to understand that I still want the wedding she promised me as a girl. She thinks that people who wait to have a ceremony are people that can’t afford one. That isn’t the case for us, so you do it as a big ceremony or a small one. You can’t have both.
Call me crazy, but I don’t take it well when I am told no to something that is this important to me. I’ve been in a state about it all week. But then again, I went from being pleasantly engaged to holy shit, we’re getting married in like three weeks. I feel like I’m being tossed from one decision to the next, totally unsure of everything except of the person I’m marrying. But in the end, he’s all that matters to me anyways. So I don’t know what I’m complaining about.
As a child, I spent most of my time following the dog around the Ranch. Spencer, the first lab of my heart, let me ride him around the house. He introduced me to the lily pads and the beaver dams at the end of the lake. He guided me around the gardens and watched diligently as my siblings and I climbed the great magnolia tree at the edge of the yard.
Then there was Twink, a pretty golden retriever from the local shelter. When I moved to the Ranch at the beginning of middle school, she was just starting to get old. We would lay together in the roots of the magnolia tree, or sit in the back of the old red truck with me while I called my friends from back home. I remember her keeping me company while I sat at the end of the driveway waiting for my mom to bring the new car home. At the time I had an obsession with being the first to do or see anything. It was cold, and Twink sat across my lap to keep me warm. I buried my fingers in her long fur and told her about my dreams.
Around this same time, I adopted a little chocolate lab puppy named Jack, and Jack was all mine. He had to stay outside, so I stayed outside with him. We would wrestle, and I taught him to play fetch. Twink would sit and watch us from the shade, but would always join us for a walk to the other side of the lake. As Jack got older, he and Twink became sit-in-the-shade buddies that only ever budged when it was time for a walk.
Jack, my sweet little lab. When we would go on walks together, I felt more honest with myself that when I was with anyone else, even when I’m alone. I would tell him about my first years of college and how hard it was to follow my grandfather’s rules. The only time Jack ever leaves that old man’s side now is when I come home to visit. He looks at me and just knows how I feel. I think he even knows when I need his head in my lap.
I adopted a great dane puppy not long ago that died of parvovirus just a few months after I took him home. He was the first dog I was able to call mine for a very long time. But ever since he’s died, and more so lately, I have had this hunger for a dog in my life again. It puzzled me for a long time, and I know talking about it has been driving my boyfriend up a wall, but all I wanted was a dog and I wasn’t sure why, I just knew I would go crazy if it didn’t happen soon.
I realize know that it is that honestly with myself in a dog’s company that I crave so badly, especially now when everything is changing. I don’t know what I want to do with my life yet, and that’s fine. Having a puppy outlet seems like just the right thing to take my energies and focus off myself for a little while and give me the chance to gain some true perspective.
In conclusion, I need a dog. Going home to visit them isn’t enough to keep me stable while my life is continuing so very fast and so very far away.
For the last few weeks, I have been developing the idea that I actually am in control of my own life.
Everybody always says it. My friends and my boyfriend and self-help internet articles are constantly reminding me of it. You can do whatever you want, you just have to do it.
But of course, as the youngest member of a mildly controlling family, I never believed that I had a choice beyond going to college, graduating in four years, and getting an internship that will eventually lead to a super-successful career in something or another. I realize now that I don’t have to live this life if I don’t want to. I don’t have to continue to live where I’m living if I don’t want to. I’m allowed to make drastic changes that maybe my family disapproves of, even though I know its going to be good for me.
I want to move to the other side of town with my boyfriend over Christmas. This would mean breaking my lease, finding a sublet, and hiring movers to take my largest pieces of furniture to a new apartment. All of this I’m doing without the approval or knowledge, even, of my family. I am doing all of this on my own and its terrifying. Fantastic, but terrifying. Before, I had the security of good, approved choices from my sister and my mother and grandfather and all the other people that help make our lives run. Now, that security lies on my own shoulders. Somehow I am coming to accept that that is perfectly okay, I just have to lady-balls up and do it.
Anxiety cripples me these days. I sit down in front of my computer, preparing to fill my mind with whatever knowledge I can in face of a midterm exam in the morning thatI know I can’t pass. The prompt is an analysis of the ending of two novels that I never read. The solution is to read summaries of the endings, watch the movies, and read enough criticisms on the novels in dire hope that it will be enough to piece together an answer worthy of the smartest professor I have come across yet.
I want to vomit as I look over my notes. Nothing is written in there that will help me. I wish I had taken medical leave after all. Perhaps then I wouldn’t start shaking every time I sat down to do an assignment. It might be too late now. Dropping out will never be an option no matter how much I long to do it. If I think I’m worthless now, just imagine how worthless I would be without a college degree. So many writers that I admire from the 19th Century dropped out of Cambridge or Oxford and they got along just fine. Some of them didn’t even go to school.
Are we that far from the Romantics ourselves? The Romantics were introspective, and we today are the most self-centered generation. I see similarities between us and the way we think. Why do I have to live under the same rules as everybody else when those I study and admire most broke all the rules of their time, too?
i want to drop out of college and read and write and do things on my own time and by my own desire. I can’t keep letting this frustration get in the way of the life I want for myself.
Let’s be honest, if I didn’t have a family to impress, I would drop out today and not turn back. Instead, I would start to work on who I want to be regardless of what they want for me. Talking about it seems so much easier than it actually is. I’ve been talking about ditching my family and living my own life for years, but for some reason, the older I get, the harder that becomes.
It’s the third of October and the weather is finally nice enough to keep the balcony door open. The cat comes in and out, letting himself be teased by the birds on the power line. I won’t turn on the TV this morning. Instead, I will read that novel for class and I will delve back into my creative writing project. My heroine is going to get a major revision today. Her, I will keep. Just about everything else from the story I created a year ago will likely be trashed. I loved the girl I created, but the story I made for her was far too complicated.
I’m hoping to write her up for NaNoWriMo, starting my brain storming now. Hopefully by November, I will have enough material and drive to actually write a full story.
Something just became clear to me. My family has a habit of reminding me we have the means to achieve anything. I can take literally any opportunity to pursue any dream I have and not have to worry about how we will pay for it.
So I grew up knowing that I could seek any future. And for some reason I understood that “any future” was a code word for “the right future.” Knowing that I could have anything, I then began to pursue the grandest things I could think of. I could be an actress. I could live in London, or anywhere, and go to school. I could be a writer. I could study feminist theory and change the world.
But what about the other things I could do?
I could be domestic. Raise a kid. Or a dog. Or a kid and a dog.
I could be not domestic and write freely about what I want to and not have to worry about jobs and payments and things. I could explore.
The deeper I get into my senior year the more I realize that the grand door may not be the right door for me after all.