What I’ve Learned, 2015 Edition

I used to do these “What I’ve Learned” lists every year. I’m going to do them more.

  • Resistance is not a reason not to do things.  It may be an invitation to explore further.  It’s also not a reason to shut down and “power through” without feeling.
  • Having a structure to my day is one of the only ways I can stave off feeling like a useless burden on society.  Writing just three things that I’d like to accomplish the night before and being able to cross them off is helpful (a framework I learned from Gina Trapani).  When I don’t do this, it starts a spiral of self-judgment and shame around concepts like “wasting my life” and “not living up to my potential” that actually get me further mired, rather than leading to action.
  • My voice is not essential in conversations about politics, and the best way to use my privilege is to amplify the voices of those being primarily affected by oppression.
  • I am sad a lot.  I have a habit of self-medicating/numbing out to avoid sadness.  I’m trying to sit with it more.  If I can sit with my emotional state for 30 seconds longer than I did yesterday and then numb out if I want to, then that is an accomplishment that I can feel proud of.
  • I have real challenges with internally-generated motivation. Motivating myself and feeling ‘positive’ (i.e. motivating) emotions like excitement and anger get quickly redirected into shame (as well-documented in The Change Triangle).  This motivation -> shame cycle is often misdiagnosed as depression (though I have also historically struggled with depression, I’ve thankfully . I am addressing this. This shall be addressed.

I Surrender

Fine.

I surrender.

I surrender self-improvement.

I surrender “fixing my life”

I surrender making small changes that add up.

I surrender figuring it out.

I surrender doing better and hoping it works.

Fine.

Fine. I’m “so smart” and “things just naturally fall into place for me” and i’m “so lucky” and I’m a “sensitive person” and whatever else takes it all away from me.

Fine, I’ll stay out of your way.

I surrender.

I surrender so that you can make art.

I surrender so that you can figure yourself out.

I surrender so you can keep your image of me intact.

I surrender so let’s talk about you.

I surrender, so I’ll stay out of your way. Out of everyone’s way.

Fine.

I will feel childish about feeling angry. I will feel embarrassed about being hurt. I will throw a tantrum, apparently.

I will find comfort in shame and victimhood and powerlessness and surrender and not in excitement and self-directedness and positive reinforcement.

I will be contemptuous of my flavor of brokenness.

I will accept my flavor of brokenness.

I will find it boring.

It will not solve things.

But maybe they’re beyond solution.

I surrender.

Fine.

It’s fine.

I’m fine.

The troubling history of the crack epidemic in Lower Manhattan: A video

In digging through my storage unit over the holidays, I came across a VHS tape featuring a set of news stories from 1987 about a protest march in the NoHo area of NYC.

Residents were protesting the ‘invasion’ of crackheads and crack dealers into their once safe neighborhood. They ‘didnt feel safe’ and ‘these people should be locked up’ They demanded a larger police presence and the arrest of addicts and dealers alike.

Knowing what we know about the racial sources of the crack epidemic, I find this to be a severely depressing glimpse into the many ways that the powers that be manage to pit us against each other and ignore systemic oppression, as well as the state of race relations in NYC in the 1980s.

NoHo is now one of the most chic, sought after and expensive blocks in the whole city. I should know, I grew up there (and you can see me in some of the news footage as a kid on a bike). I remember very distinctly feeling quite ambivalent about the protest, as even back then I felt that addiction should be treated as a medical issue.

I hope this video is enlightening.

My top albums of 2014

OK so there are 26 albums on my top of the year playlist, but just for you guys, i will narrow it down.  Realizing a lot of my top music this year is sad white dudes. Guess that says nothing great about me (and also how behind i am on ‘albums to listen to 2014’ playlist)

As always, you can view/listen to/stalk my Top 10s from every year since 1999 right here on my blog.

Here’s my full spotify playlist including the ones that i enjoyed but didn’t make the cut for this list Jeremy’s Top Albums of 2014

In no particular order (and i no make no claim to super high quality descriptors):

Low Roar – 0 (Tonequake) – Just crazy gorgeous beautiful. Formerly Oakland-based Ryan Karazija of Audrye Sessions moves to Iceland and writes lovely haunting music about his new unfamiliar surroundings
Luluc – Passerby (Sub Pop) – Girl with a sultry voice, guy with a guitar. Sublime on vinyl.
Locust – After The Rain (Editions Mego)
Loscil – Sea Island (Kranky)
Phantogram – Voices (Universal/Republic) – Dark electro synthpoppy goodness in the Ladytron/Royksopp/School of Seven Bells (RIP) realm.
Alcest – Shelter (Prophecy Productions) – French black metal turned poppy shoegaze/post-rock band featuring Neil Halstead and Amiina from Sigur Ros
Asteroids Galaxy Tour – Bring us Together (Hot Bus Records) – Big Beat is back? RIYL the last Daft Punk album, I guess.
Ben Howard – I Forget Where We Were (Island) – Melancholy british white dude music.
Elizabeth and the Catapult – Like it Never Happened (Scratchback Records / Self-released)
Emerson Hart – Beauty in Disrepair (BMG) – Hooky mainstream pop/rock which kind of reminds me of the late great Will Owsley.  Yes, the lead dude from Tonic.
White Sea – In Cold Blood (Vocalist from M83’s album is better than his latest)
Otto Totland – Pino (Sonic Pieces) – Anyone who enjoys Nils Frahm and the Erased Tapes crew will find this piano solo stuff divine.  Also probably fans of ECM will like it, too.
S. Carey – Range of Light (Jagjaguwar) – Cinematic and gorgeous indietronica/jazz/americana inspired by the southwest

On paths

“Life is a garden, not a road. We enter and exit through the same gate. Wandering, where we go matters less than what we notice.” -Kurt Vonnegut

The trick with paths is not to think of them as places that you aren’t on.  Or at least, not to think of yourself as ‘not on any path’, and have that be a ‘bad thing’.

No matter what, you are on a path.

Remember, you give yourself more freedom when you are okay with where you are than when you feel like you need to be anywhere in particular.

 

Photo: garden paths by Joel Kramer