paradise fears

the music is too loud.

i hate the moment when i’m sitting in the back of a car and someone turns the music up too loud,
because then i can’t hear what they’re saying.

i hated the moment when the coffee machine ran out after church so people disperse 
& go do their own forms of praying, 

i hate when cigarettes are finished & the first person leaves.
because it breaks the circle. 
the world is no longer perfect.
there’s just a hole where a circle used to be
& i wonder
who’s gonna listen to my story?
what if somebody else leaves? 
what if they all leave?

i used to think these were the subtle little OCD
traits gifted to me
by a god with a sense of humor.
meaningless little, 
unreasonables,
reasoning that everybody gets annoyed by bullshit,
i guess this is just the bullshit i’ve chosen to get annoyed by,

but i’m not annoyed.
i’m afraid of something that i can’t see
& sad for reasons that i can’t reach,

so i’d sit in the back of the car,
i’d sit alone in the church, 
i’d stay in the smoking circle until it’s not a circle any more, so much as it is a dot,

& as i was sitting in the backseat the other day, 
while my friends in front were slowly drifting away,
and i couldn’t hear them because of all of the fucking coldplay.
i couldn’t figure out what i was so afraid of,
but then i pictured that empty church, 
& i lost my friends in that song
& i realized that i’m just terrified of ever having to be alone.

i don’t want to lose the moment 
we just built it, i wanna own it, 

i don’t ever want a night to end.
i don’t want to turn down, 
because once i do that it’s just me, nobody else, just me.
when the music goes up, that means we’re done talking.
that means i’m back here & you’re up there.

when the coffee runs out that means we no longer need each other,
so i guess next sunday we’ll get together, listen to some stories, then go downstairs, surround a coffee pot just like last week & remember again what being a human being is actually all about.

until we forget again,
when the coffee runs out,
or the music gets too loud.

the difficulty.

this story is mostly true & kind of fiction.

i spent most of tuesday march 3 trying to write music. i could describe to you how that process has been going as of late, or you could just slam your head into a wall several times & simulate the experience for yourself.

the problem is that self-awareness is the enemy of the creative process. the complicated part about having songs that people have liked & connected to in the past is that it’s hard to imagine songs in the future outside of the context of those reactions. i find myself with a lot of these thoughts:

‘people who liked [this song] won’t like it because it’s too [this adjective].’
‘people who liked [that song] won’t like it because it’s not [that adjective] enough.’
‘[this person] will think that’s too unintentionally sexual.’
‘[this person’s mom] will think that’s too intentionally sexual.’
‘it has to be entirely different.’
‘it has to be exactly the same.’

so i gave up on trying to do that /
b/c you can’t create when you’re not inspired /
so in the event of being sickeningly uninspired /
i can just call in sick /
that makes song-writing the easiest/ hardest job in the world.

then we played a show in houston. 

sometimes, i throw up before shows, without explanation or warning. 

it’s been happening for as long as we’ve been playing them. i’ll never forget the look of terror a girl gave me after seeing me throw up three times into a trash bin behind our stage at the skate n’ surf festival two years ago…or the soup she brought me afterwards.
i don’t do it intentionally, i’ve just learned to not fight it when it happens. i think it’s just the toxic combination of nerves, idle time, & my customary six bottles of water.

i know there are people who struggle with things like this far, far more than i do, in completely different ways. i’ve met a lot of them. some have told me it comes from a place of self-punishment. some have told me it’s just comfortable, a routine they’re familiar with. lots have told me that it started as a rare & secret habit before it became something else. all of them have told me that they know they shouldn’t do it.

i know it’s not healthy for me. it doesn’t seem tremendously unhealthy either. it happened before our show in houston.
i do wish i could stop doing it.

after the show, marcus & anthony & i hadn’t eaten, so we went to a fast food restaurant to do that. we walked past a man, presumably homeless, & none of us said anything to him, because we’re desensitized, i think.

most cities in the united states are unintentionally* divided into different sections, usually along economic lines. (*it’s actually probably intentional - i just don’t spend much time talking to the people who intended for it to be this way.) it’s like young adult fantasy fiction, but less overt, because we don’t have snappy names for the people in different districts. if we did, we’d probably call people in inner cities ‘shmurbans’ & people in gated suburban communities ‘class-holes’ or something like that.
because we’re in an alternative rock band that’s primary source of income is t-shirt sales, we get the hotels in these areas, because they’re cheaper & we don’t have much money to spend on hotels. i would be a member of the ‘upper-middler’ district.

the fast food joint had closed their lobby, so we had to beg the woman inside to serve us through the drive-through window. she was terrified, probably because she’s not supposed to do that & she values her job, but she served us anyway, probably because we’re persuasive.

then the man from the street approached her, & she wouldn’t serve him. he held crumpled cash in front of him & she wouldn’t take it.
this kind of thing happens all the time. looking at it in the abstract, you’re probably sitting behind a computer or cell phone & thinking, ‘what a horrible woman, why wouldn’t she let him get food?’

but if you saw it in person, i think you’d be less likely to question it. i say this because i was taken aback, not by the fact that she would take our order & wouldn’t take his even though both of us had green money, but by the fact that i wasn’t surprised. i could rationalize her decision for her. ‘more risk, i guess,’ i thought. i have no idea why.

morality is easier to understand when you’re reading it on the internet, not uncomfortably watching it in an inner city.

across the street, a girl at a gas station stumbled out of the passenger seat of a car & was throwing up on the curb. i went over to talk to her, because these are the kind of people that interest me the most.

sam: hi, are you okay? i saw you throwing up.
girl: i’m fine.
s: why are you throwing up?
g: whiskey.
s: sometimes i throw up on accident, because i’m nervous. do you think that had something to do with it?
g: no, it was whiskey.
s: are you afraid? this isn’t a very nice neighborhood to be puking in.
g: no.
s: i’m just saying, it’s kind of a scary area. i don’t want you to get kidnapped or anything.
g: i grew up here.
s: do you want help getting back to your car? i can help you get back to your car.
g: it’s so far away.
s: you have to go to it though. you can’t sit here all night.
g: i know.
s: why are you still sitting here?
g: it’s so far away.
s: so you’re just going to sit here all night?
g: no. i’m not saying it’s impossible.
s: then why are you complaining about how far away it is?
g: i’m just appreciating the difficulty.

here’s what i learned on tuesday march 3.

i’ve been trying to write an album for two years & all i know two years later is that it’s harder than i thought it was going to be.
but i’m not saying it’s impossible, i’m just saying i appreciate the difficulty.

i can’t stop my pendulum as it swings back & forth between brazen self-confidence & bitter self-doubt, & i can’t stop my stomach from reacting to the inertia.
but i’m not saying it’s impossible, i’m just saying i appreciate the difficulty.

there are low income communities in our country that are recreating themselves in isolation, & in the outside world, the solution has been to wall off from them; fearing & ignoring them until we forget they exist. if we’re going to remember how to be people again, we’re going to have to start by remembering that we are— scientifically speaking— exactly the same as the people with more or less opportunities than us. we’re going to have to start with radical inclusion. we’re going to have to start— all of us— giving much, much more than we take.
but i’m not saying it’s impossible, i’m just saying i appreciate the difficulty.