So, I recently read The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell, it’s about the folks who colonized New England in the 1630s. They were a bunch of well-meaning, but often destructive, ultra-religious book nerds. Their book of choice, the Bible. They were mostly Puritans. You work hard, go to church, read your Bible, you go to Heaven, that’s the gist of Puritanism. Some, however, were Calvinists. Calvinists make Puritans look like a bunch of happy-go-lucky, easy going, fey spirits.
Calvinists believed that before you’re even concieved, before your soul even enters your tiny new body, God has already decided whether you’re going to Heaven or to Hell. There’s no finding Jesus and getting saved, death-bed repentance doesn’t mean anything, God had it all figured out and He wouldn’t change His mind. So, why be good and study your Bible more rigorously than any Puritan, why be flawlessly pious if God has possibly already written you in His Going to Hell book? Well, they believed that people who “seemed” like good people, read the Bible, went to church fervently, raised kids to be pious, those people had souls that displayed all the signs of goodness and were PROBABLY scheduled for Heaven. Folks who were lazy, who couldn’t quote the Bible chapter and verse, who stole firewood during a hard winter, they behaved so because they got a Hell-bound soul. So, you ended up with a bunch of uneasy, sometimes terrified religious zealots desperately trying to “look” good.
One woman in town was particularly terrified. She was depressed a lot, didn’t like raising lots of kids, or practically living at church. She didn’t feel “good,” but tried really hard to conform. She was so scared of the not knowing which soul she was given. She couldn’t sleep, was nervous all the time. She asked the church for help, guidance, but the Calvinist Church wasn’t exactly a loving church. She didn’t find any help at church, or anywhere else. She probably suffered from mental illness, probably needed therapy and loving support from family and friends, but in the 1630s, mental illness wasn’t mental illness, it was that you had the Devil in you. You were evil. She felt evil, but wasn’t certain. She wanted to be certain, she wanted to know whether or not she was damned, just so she could finally sleep at night. To that end, she took her youngest child, a baby, and she threw it down a well. That settled things for her, she finally knew what kind of soul God gave her and that she was absolutely, without a single doubt, damned. She actually felt a bizarre peace.
I don’t want to throw any babies down any wells, I actually love babies. Whenever I see a baby out and about, I always end up transfixed, I watch their little hands, their little eyes, searching, learning. I always think about how that baby could grow up to cure cancer, or write some spectacular novel, or hit liquor and heroin really hard and be dead by thirty, or whatever. Babies are possibility, they’re the essence of potential. Not being a Calvinist, I also see that baby’s soul as perfectly clean, I don’t believe in that born sinful stuff, Jesus got screwed over so babies don’t have to worry about that. I always look at some baby and think about how they’re not all fucked up yet, unlike me they’re completely perfect. So, yeah, no killing babies to figure out what kind of soul God gave me.
Still, I’d like some certainty about some things. Where am I going after I die? I say that first, but it’s actually pretty low on my Worry List. I just don’t want to die, I want to avoid the dying. I died once, it didn’t stick, I don’t want to go again. Sometimes I get really dark and want to go vertically open my wrists, but that’s more about not wanting to feel sad than actually wanting to die. It’s also different when dying is this circumstance that’s forced on you. If you’re accidentally drowning in pineapple juice (that’s what killed me) or the hose on your vent breaks while you’re trying to buy a four hundred dollar Tumi bag, the absolute last thing you want to do is die. You beg God not to let you go, you beg to be with one certain person one more time. You’re all, “I’ll be good, really, I promise.” At least, this is how I am.
I worry about the when and how of my dying, mostly the when. I’d really like to know the when, then I could quit worrying about whether or not I have enough time to make up for the bad things I’ve done, enough time to have what I want. and feel happy. I worry I’m going to go out like Kurt and Elliott, sad and fucked up. I don’t want my story to end that way, the way it is right now.
That’s what I worry about most, running out of time, I’m constantly aware of time. I feel time, like it’s something tangible, rushing over my skin. I feel this constant sense of urgency, especially now, because I know I’m not where I want to be, and I know I’m one breath closer to to not breathing with every breath I take. I wonder if I have enough time to find my way to someplace bright. I’d like to know because living with the mindset that every day could be my last day is actually really exhausting.
I wonder how many of those Tony Robbins, motivational, “Live like there’s no tomorrow” types, I wonder how many of them actually walk that talk. Living like that, really believing the words, it’s not easy to carry. When you want something, you want it like there’s a gun to your head, like, at any second that trigger could get pulled and you won’t ever get to that kiss, that I love you, that waking up somewhere beautiful until you quit waking up. People don’t understand why spending time together is so important to you, because your clock feels so much faster than theirs. For other people there’s always tomorrow for walking under stars or curling up in bed to watch some movie about a talking fox, and to you, both experiences are more important than winning a million dollars. Loss hurts more because you don’t believe that chances are unlimited, in your head, chances are like a pack of used bar matches, you only get so many lights. Sometimes it all get so heavy that you look for ways to stop thinking, to stop wanting, just for a few hours. Liquor bottles and drug needles do that trick, but they’re exactly that, a trick. They just make it so the clock disappears behind a curtain, but just like any magician’s assistant, the clock always comes back.
Once you actually know about these things, once you stop seeing the end of your time as some kind of fiction, well, there’s no not knowing them. A bunch of Nirvana songs end up making perfect sense. Like that Calvinist woman, lack of certainty makes peace hard to find. Such is true in my experience anyhow, but like I said, I’ll never toss a baby down a well for answers to questions that’ll probably come when I don’t answers anymore.5 comments
So, last night I got tattoo #54. I have at least posted a picture for every tattoo, except one… and now, two. Tattoo #54 is another that’s completely, totally mine. It’ll never get posted here, and the few people who will see it, they never get to know what it means, nobody does. Certain words don’t get seen, certain stories don’t get told. It’s from a really pretty, yet really raw, Nirvana song that no casual fan would know.
The only down side to this is that my friend, Dani, did the tattoo and nobody gets to see her work. She bought her own machine, gear, lugged it all to my place. She’s been asking for awhile to save one tattoo for her, so I did. I usually have everything done at Doc Dog’s Las Vegas Tattoo, but I think they’ll dig the idea of letting a budding artist have some practice. Dani’s really talented, has artistic mind, so I wasn’t scared she’d butcher me. I knew she’d do the words justice, and she did, it’s great, so I feel bad keeping it hidden, but she understands the whys.1 comment
So, this is from a Nirvana song, Blandest (Demo), which is off their With the Lights Out collection. I wonder how many songs from With the Lights Out would have been polished and put on studio records and become part of the broad lexicon of pop-culture rather than be these really obscure treasures that pretty much only Nirvana fans ever find. What if what if what if.
Anyway, you all puzzle out what if means and why it’s etched into my chest forever, my forever, at least. Leave comments, try to guess, whatever.1 comment
The last post, that weird italic paragraph, I found a new Nirvana song that brought that into existence. I was listening to this song, The Other Improv (Demo), off their With the Lights Out collection, and it just sort of took over the post. It’s a fun song, one of few I’ve never heard. Their playing, the music sounds done, but the lyrics, it sounds like Kurt’s just making most of them up as he goes. Lots of Nirvana songs seemingly don’t make sense, but the lyrics are written and set, and if you take them apart you see the parts with meaning. Kurt liked mixing sense with nonsense, the nonsense often being the hooky, pop sounding parts that rhyme. With The Other Improv, you hear he has the general idea of the song in his head, but he’s making up most of the lyrics on the spot. It was fun just hearing him create a song rather than perform something that’s already created.
I’m thinking about Monica, so I just started writing flash without thinking about anything but the words stumbling out of my head and posting it unfiltered. I saw her, it didn’t go right, I got scared of what she was saying, I reacted wrong. I don’t want this, I love her so much, so fucking much. I can’t fuckin’ sleep. God, I just want to go home. It’s like half of me is always someplace else, my head is never completely anywhere, with anyone. It’s like I’m in this car, drinking down some dirt road, and no matter how far I drive, the road just keeps going and I can’t go home. I’m in this bad dream that doesn’t stop when wake up.No comments
So, this tattoo is from one of my favorite Nirvana songs, Blew, which is on their first record, Bleach. Nirvana songs don’t necessarily tell a story that goes, and then, and then, and then. Nirvana songs are often a mix of lines that mean something and lines that mean absolutely nothing, so it’s a matter of picking out the important lines and figuring out what they mean as a whole. That’s one reason I love Nirvana so much, every song is sort of a puzzle to solve.
To me, Blew is about being stuck, feeling intensely frustrated, and wanting it to stop. I’ve felt that way for so long… One night a few months ago, I felt like making those feelings something external, marking them as part of the story of me.No comments
Last night, my friend, Sarah, and I went to see the spectacular foreign vampire film, Let The Right One In. It’s playing at the very old, and very gorgeous Tampa Theatre. I’d been there plenty of times for concerts, but last night was my first movie. It was a rather beautiful movie, but I want to see it one more time before I really write about it.
For Christmas, a friend, Jayleen, got me an Amazon gift certificate which I promptly used to buy Incesticde, the only Nirvana CD I didn’t own. I totally love it, particularly Stain, Big Long Now and Downer (Downer being originally found on their first album, Bleach). Obviously, I only like the happy music. Though, lately I’m really digging Tracy Shedd’s Cigarettes & Smoke Machines. It’s music that sounds sad, but her lyrics are actually pretty “up,” as “up” as I like to hear. Also, Cigarettes & Smoke Machines is just a fucking cool album name.
I’ve been to see Doubt four times now. Honestly, that movie is as relaxing as any drink for me. It’s so compelling and brilliantly acted that I just kind of lose myself in it. Also, I have decided that I want to become a nun.
Yesterday, my allergist said I’m “an inspiration,” which is interesting, as I’d only known him for fifteen minutes. I’m not really sure what I did in that amount of time to be inspirational, aside from breathing and moving my eyes. That label is always weird to me. I mean, I understand it, but I don’t think it’s right. I’m nothing spectacular. I do good things sometimes, I totally fuck up sometimes, just like almost anyone.7 comments
So, there’s a video clip of Kurt Cobain in concert, it’s a clip from Nirvana’s Lithium video. He’s in a crazy white lab coat thrashing around on-stage, just trashing everything in a totally manic fit. At one point, he’s on his knees holding a giant amp and banging his head against it.
To me, I think it’s one of the great visual metaphors for frustration and lack of control. It’s usually the absolute first image that comes to mind when the entire world seems insane. I see it plenty enough and I’m glad it’s there for me. I drift to lots of images like that, different things for different moods. I actually think about why I do it, and partly, I think it’s how I experience physical emotional outbursts. A fellow gets really upset, maybe he puts his fist through a window. I can’t put my fist through anything, nor can I even imagine myself doing so. There are certain things for which I just don’t have a frame of reference for myself, so I pick an approximation from elsewhere. Why bang my own head into an amp when Kurt Kobain does it so well?1 comment
I’ve owned this domain for YEARS. It’s an allusion to Nirvana’s song, Lithium. It was supposed to be a creative space for my writing and what-not. Unfortunately, all I’ve ever used it for is the e-mail address. This is a shame because it’s a really cool domain, but also because I haven’t been writing the way I meant to write, not really. I have an extensive LiveJournal, but mostly it’s all reports about my life and venting of frustration, which is fine, but I really meant to do more with my writing.
So, here we are, somewhere new. I’ve changed quite a lot in the last three years. The fellow who wrote all those LJ entries and wasted this domain, wasted much else, is dead. It’s time for something different. I just wish I hadn’t put my LJ on business cards. Fuck.No comments