Ramblings: February Reflections

I find that the beginning of each new year is usually a time for reflection on my life, for some changes and also a time to relax a little and think about what I want to accomplish over the rest of the year. 2012 was an interesting year in terms of change and life in general and in a way I want to continue along that route, pinpointing the issues that tend to bother me and get rid of them for good, while at the same time focusing on the things that make me, and others happy. Of course there are moments when I feel like I am doing everything wrong, moments where I feel like I am a failure at everything, as well as moments when I just want to give up and go and live somewhere else away from everything. There are also moments when I feel like everything is worth it, and there is no place better to live than where I live now.

I feel like I am finally miles away from all of the gossip mongers that tend to be in any place that you live. People who spend their lives talking about other people, deforming stories and passing them along, just because they don’t know how to stop and focus on their own lives. I hear snippets of things here and there, random stories that I supposedly told someone else (how I wonder, seeing as I haven’t spoken to said people in well over six months), but I have decided that there was a reason that I moved on from all of that and decided to remove myself from it all, for better or for worse. Nowadays it doesn’t hurt me as much as it used to, because I am surrounded by people who really care about me and my well-being, as much as I care about them and theirs.

Sometimes in life you spend a lot of time with a certain person, and think that they will always be there for you, as much as you have been there for them. This person will be the first person you call to tell good or bad news to, the one who will answer your text at 5am when you are suffering from insomnia and need a friendly ear to listen to you. This is the person who you will pick up every time they fall down, even when you are tired of doing it and wish that it was the other way round for once. But you continue to do it because one day you know that it WILL be the other way round. Or so you think… Sometimes that person decides that they don’t have the time or the energy to help you. However painful that may seem at the time, in the long run it is all for the better. At least you are now aware of the one-sidedness of your relationship, and in the end, you are better off without this person in your life. It gets easier, and honestly your life takes a turn for the better. I feel lighter and happier nowadays. I’m not worried about that other person’s mood swings or anger or happiness anymore.

Hmmm… I don’t really want to finish that last paragraph anymore, as I started it last week and things have changed again. Yet another sign of how life can often surprise you, especially when you think a certain part of your life has gone forever, it pops back up and decides to give it another chance. We will see how things pan out in the long run, but in the meantime I am putting all reflection on hold so that I can see it with an open mind instead of being bogged down with past feelings of hurt and anger and betrayal as well as nostalgia and memories. Maybe that’s a sign of growing up (finally) – the ability to be able to forgive and move on and not to just cut someone out of your life for once and for all. Although I have to say, it doesn’t work with everyone. Some of the people I have cut out are never coming back in, and that is just so much better that way!

I’ve now been living in Bushwick for 5 years and in New York for nearly 8. Our landlords decided to raise our rent $250 this year, and although I feel like the raise is extortionate, it’s still going to be less than what most people are paying in this neighbourhood for the space and the amenities that we have. We were able to negotiate a complete revamp of the apartment (fixed windows, paint, bathroom regrout) and are staying another year here… I don’t want to move, and in any case, how would I ever be able to sign a lease nowadays with my credit as it is? I’m still not paying anywhere near as much as I paid when I lived in that tiny studio in the West Village, and this apartment feels like home. It’s also been incredible to see how the neighbourhood has changed over the past 5 years. Who would have thought that this quiet, not really very safe, area would become full of new buildings and interesting restaurants and bars. I never have to fight with cab drivers to get home anymore, and even more surprising, they actually know where my cross streets are without sighing and getting out a GPS or asking for play by play directions. This apartment feels like a home and looks like one. I couldn’t even imagine having to pack everything up into boxes and moving out now – so I suppose that means that I really have decided that New York is my home. As long as I balance it out with more travel and less time spent wishing I were elsewhere, I really don’t see myself moving to a different city or country anymore. 

Based on what an old (not anymore) friend told me via text message that bartending was cool when you were 20, not so much when you are 34, I should probably think about changing my line of work, but to be honest I’d rather not. In my opinion, living is about being happy and content in what you do, and my jobs make me feel happy. Maybe not the most mature of professions in some people’s eyes - but then again, what is? Are you all of a sudden supposed to remove all of your tattoos, put on a suit, stop having fun and do something boring for a living just because you hit the age of 35? I was pondering on that mean text message I received for a while, until one of my friends deleted it from my phone as there was no point in thinking about it anymore. I’m happy at work, and that’s the most important. Most days I come in with a smile. I am given different types of responsibility, now have some managing shifts at one job, and get to meet lots of interesting people (and many assholes too), and make new friends all of the time. What better job is there for a writer? I have enough material to write about for the rest of my life, and will continue to accumulate said material every day. Lesson learned – don’t read into hateful text messages that only contain a projection of the sender’s own life on your own. As long as you like what you do and you aren’t hurting anybody, there is no reason to feel like you are not living your life “properly”.

There has been so much good music released over the past few months, and I feel excited to see what else is to come this year. The new Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds album is epic (no surprise there), there is to be a new Suede out soon, a new Yeah Yeah Yeahs album, a new BRMC album, as well as many new bands that are right up my street. I need to start working on new playlists for the bar as well as for myself. And I need to make an effort to go to more shows again, starting with Knoxville Morning who will be playing at Mercury Lounge this coming Friday. I’m sure they are just as brilliant live as they are recorded. I have a pinboard above my desk where I stick notes of all new album releases, book releases and gallery exhibitions in an attempt to be on top of everything I want to do and see everything I want to do and see, but I’ve been too lazy recently. I feel like it’s time to go back into hermit mode for a while, finish off the pile of books that is growing by my bed, add to my poetry collection, finish off this newest collection of short stories and get some more photography collections together.

It smells like early Spring outside. I’m glad, as this winter has been a tough one again. Not really so much weather-wise, although it has been cold enough. For the second year in a row January and February have been plagued with the death of people close to me and of people close to people I know, and it just makes me really sad. I wanted to finish this piece of on a positive note, but I’m honestly finding it hard to be super joyful and happy at the moment. I think that all I can really say to this is that I need to keep reminding myself to always let people know how much I care about them, and to live life in a way that won’t lead me to regret too much along the way. Focus on accomplishing everything I want to accomplish, and help others feel happy with their lives too – that’s seems to be the most important take away from all this sadness and grief.

Ah Spring… I am really looking forward to feeling your warm sun on my face again!

Playlist - male voices

A few weeks ago I posted a playlist of female voices/fronted bands, and right afterwards I started working on the male version. This one took me AGES to make, and I had to trim it down a lot. I know that I have forgotten some, but all of these are special to me. Really special. Bring back a million memories special. Make me cry special (well, that's not really that difficult to do). Just... Ah listen to it. I don't really have anything else to say as I can't say it better than the music does.

Here is the playlist on Spotify:
Voices Men

Tim Buckley, Nick Cave, Tom Waits, David Bowie, The Cure, Bauhaus etc etc etc. Just... Listen.

How to be selfish

A few days ago someone very close to me told me to start being more selfish. The problem is, I don’t know where to start. How does one become selfish? How does one actually define a selfish person and how does one differentiate a selfish person from an unselfish person?

Oxford Dictionary: selfish: /ˈselfiSH/ (of a person, action, or motive) lacking consideration for others ; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure.

There you go. So a selfish person is someone who acts based on his or her own agenda, without any real consideration for others. Don’t we all do that at some point in time? Do what WE want to do without really thinking about how it may affect others? I mean, I did that a few months ago. Walked out of the job that I had been doing for over 6 years without really considering how it could affect the people I worked with, the company as a whole, and then also the people who may depend on me to financially pay my share (roommate for example). Pure act of selfishness, no? One that I did because my own mental and physical health demanded it, something I did because I wanted to. To be brutally honest, it did me the world of good. I finally felt happy and free again, after years of feeling that I was doing what was right in the eyes of everyone else, but that felt completely wrong to me.

So maybe I am on the right path? I don’t know, when I was going through the above I felt terrible. Terribly guilty about the way I had done it and about not being able to explain myself properly. I was very conflicted, on one side I felt so happy to be away from what I felt had become a prison, on the other I felt awful. I DID actually think for a long time how it would affect everyone around me and decided that it was better off for everyone that I did it, in the long run. It wasn’t a rash decision, but something that I could no longer hide from. But I did choose myself over everyone else. Woohoo, an act of selfishness!

So what next? I think my main problem is that I tend to let everyone take too much of me, so much that I feel exhausted. I try so hard to remember everything, and do pretty well at it, until I forget the most important thing and then upset someone because I didn’t remember. I know I get upset when people forget important things in my life, but that’s mainly my own fault as I never talk about them. But I feel terrible when I forget important things in YOUR life. Like just today I didn’t contact one of my closest friends to wish her good luck on the purchase of her new home. I hadn’t forgotten it was today, and I was going to call her later, and have been a little wrapped up in some personal things I don’t feel like talking about. But my friend was upset because I hadn’t been in touch to just wish her good luck, and she was right to be. I now feel terrible, and will feel terrible about it for days. But at the same time, I ask myself, if I actually never gave a shit about anything, no one would be disappointed because they wouldn’t expect me to remember anyway. So where do you draw the line? When do you stop trying to make everyone happy and start just concentrating on your own happiness? What if your happiness depends on other people being happy around you? I suppose that’s the real definition of being unselfish. Or maybe just unselfish is a synonym for being appreciated but walked over whenever necessary? Or maybe, just maybe, I am analyzing this all a little too much and I should stop feeling bad about things and get on with my life.

I think we are all selfish in some form or another, some are just more than others. I have just come to my own conclusion that I am not really that willing to change anymore, so, so be it. And if you have had the patience, or whatever you want to call it, to read through these 700+ words you can now listen to this beautiful song by my darling love Tim Buckley, because he (his music) makes me happy.

Me Without You - movie review

I LOVE coming of age movies. Especially ones that are about two best friends who grow up together and who do fun things, like, you know, go to goth parties, and hang out in squats with punks. NOTHING like what I did growing up at all of course. I never went to a goth party, or hung out with punks in squats, or did any kind of illegal underage drinking or hash smoking, EVER.
I just love stories that you can relate to. We all had one best friend who knew everything about us, who was always there, through thick and thin, and who we would have massive fights with and make up with two minutes later.
Because of all of the above I am really surprised I had never seen, or even heard of, Me Without You before. A British film, based in the Isle of Wight and Brighton in the late 70's through to the early 2000's, the movie depicts the friendship between Holly (Michelle Williams) and Marina (Ana Friel), next door neighbours and best friends, and the things they go to together. I loved Holly, and identified with her much more than I did with Marina. Holly is the quiet, understated, literary one, while Marina is the wild, messed up, somewhat toxic friend.

Anyway, I enjoyed it. A lot. Especially when I heard the first chords of Tim Buckley's Strange Feeling during one scene. A movie with Tim Buckley on the soundtrack can never be a bad movie!

For anyone who enjoyed the following: An Education, Wish You Were Here, 10 Things I Hate About You, Almost Famous, The Breakfast Club...

I love Michelle Williams - she never fails to be completely enchanting in any role that she takes on.