For about 8 months I primarily listened to Against Me! It was a hard time, and it’s hard to touch all of the emotions that were present in that time. Music is the easiest way for me to have a snapshot of an emotion and this is a snapshot of that time.
Against Me and Myself 2018
1. We Laugh at Danger (And Break All the Rules) – Against Me!
This song is screamed at the top of my lungs in the car, so loud that a friend heard and saw me jamming and texted me to send me her approval.
It also inspired this line in a poem from May:
Screaming punk lyrics in the car dreaming of being homeless. Wondering what the future smells like searching for convertible tights in the kids section of target.
“Mary, there is no hope for us
If this GM van don’t make it
Across the state line
We might as well lay down and die
Because if Florida takes us
We’re taking everyone down with us
Where were coming from
Will be the death of us”
I feel those lyrics. While I can’t relate to those lyrics anymore I know I did in a way that startles and terrifies me. “Where were coming from, will be the death of us” It feels odd and scary to me that I would feel suicidal feelings in such a way. People congratulate me for leaving the situation with the kids but I have to tell them I left because I knew the other option was dying. I knew those feelings would only get larger and larger and would end in an inevitable way. I didn’t decide to leave so much as I decided I didn’t want to kill myself and the only way to prevent that was by leaving – something I had been considering for many months.
2. Walking is Still Honest – Against Me!
“Can anybody tell me why God won’t speak to me?
Why Jesus never called on me to part the fucking seas?
Why death is easier than living?”
Walking over homestead bridge, walking through squirrel hill for hours, walking for hours and hours, every time I need. Walking until 2am because I can’t fall asleep.
I relate a lot to her, with spirituality calling me the Christian concept of god felt like it was constantly rejecting me. I spent years reading the bible, I went to several bible studies and studied an Evangelical Christian group for a class. It never felt right, and now I am rejected by most of them. which is pretty alright to me. I found my spirituality in Buddhism, it’s sufficiently empty and non-judgmental.
This is just survival
Cannot promise your children everything
But you would lie so they can sleep tonight”
I didn’t listen to this song at first because of these lyrics, I didn’t hear them for a while or think about them because of how they may or may not reference Clarity and the kids. I continue to not really look into it while feeling it relate to me and my life with the family.
3. Cavalier Eternal – Against Me!
This song caught my ear and made me laugh, I sung this in the car, I sung this in front of the kids. I hid this from Clarity and I told my therapist I knew why this song spoke to me – because it was about Clarity, that was probably April that I told my therapist that, wasn’t but a few weeks later I told her I couldn’t do it anymore.
4. 1-800-237-8255 – Logic
“I’ve been on the low
I been taking my time
I feel like I’m out of my mind
It feel like my life ain’t mine”
I hated the second half of this song for a while, just like I always re-winded Blink-182’s song “Adam’s song” half way through every time.
5. Because of the Shame (Black Crosses Version) – Against Me!
I found this song after reading Laura’s book, I didn’t believe her at first that she didn’t write Thrash Unreal about CC. But after rereading it and listening to both songs, I believe it. The White Crosses version reminds me of Queen’s Album Made In Heaven, the Black Crosses version will make you cry with very little to separate you from her words.
6. Searching for Former Clarity – Against Me!
The first time I really heard this song was late April and I was at home in the basement. I played it at again and cried on the floor the type of crying that is angry and hurts. I cried and flailed about kicking random things in the basement, it was the hardest I’ve cried in years.
The second memory is a 9 days after I wrote the Poem, “Today’s The Day”
The day I want to kill myself
it isn’t the day I have a crisis
it isn’t the day I cry for hours
it isn’t the day I cut myself
it isn’t the day I am angry, miserable and filled with rage and hurt
That’s the day I want to scheme
to tie a noose
to make sure it fits over my head
to find a spot
to make sure it’s hidden from sight
to find a stump
to make sure it’s easy to knock over
to write a note
to cry and scream in frustration and hurt when I realize today isn’t the day
The day I want to kill myself is
when I feel the cool breeze over my face
when I can hear the birds chirping around me
when I feel calm and present in my body
when the day has gone well and there isn’t a thing in the world making me knock over that stump
That’s the day I want to kill myself
a good day a happy day
a day where I say that was a full life
a day where I say that was a good time
a day where one tear escapes my left eye and runs all the way down my cheek until it reaches my chin and then it hops off to land on and be absorbed into my shirt
a day where that tear has to run past a smile before I knock over my stump.
I went to Schenley Park, parked the car, called my therapist and left a voicemail as I had promised myself the night before. And I put on this song. I felt calm and collected. I smiled, I smiled as tears rolled down my cheek they were happy, relieved tears. “Not yet,” I told myself – fearing that I’d get too emotional and threaten the certainness that today was the day. I played the song over and over again as I searched the park for a rope, any rope to hang myself with. After walking for 2 hours I found a tent held together with ratchet straps and as I was surveying which one would be best to remove my therapist called back. I was fucking pissed and I told her so, she made me talk about it over and over again and eventually I tired of trying to kill myself.
7. 8 Full Hours of Sleep – Against Me!
“When you sleep no one is homeless
When you sleep you can’t feel the hunger
When you sleep no one is lonely in a dream.”
This song is my first week out of the house. No where to go, uncertainty around sleeping spaces and what and how I would eat food, with my main goals being meeting basic needs. Biking around listlessly in the morning before anything opened trying to find a place I could go, trying to find a place I could sleep following a hot, miserable, sleepless night with rain, mosquitoes, trains, and a fox barking. I found myself at the Cathedral of Learning on Pitt’s campus and chatted with a new friend on text as I tried to figure out how to survive in this new world.
“The sun’s always rising in the sun somewhere.”
8. The Disco Before the Breakdown – Against Me!
This song is about dysphoria
“And if you follow the jawline down over the heart. Because of your bone and muscle that make up your head to toe. it’s just skin and threat stitches and ligaments.”
9. Creature Comfort – Arcade Fire
This song is driving fast in the silver car, faster, faster! Maybe you can outrun these feelings, vooRRRRR, vooRRR, vooRRRRR. Or if not maybe I can crash into a median and die trying.
She dreams about dying all the time
She told me she came so close
Filled up the bathtub and put on our first record
Saying God, make me famous
If you can’t just make it painless
Just make it painless”
This is a song I put on repeat, over and over again, this is a song that I would cut myself to as soon as I heard it a nice quick slice on my almost unscarred inner forearm – shit you are supposed to cut under your underwear, on your left lower abdomen the equals sign you’ve been etching in over time. What will they think at the JCC, what will the other parents think!
“It’s not painless
She was a friend of mine, a friend of mine
And we’re not nameless, oh”
10. Tonight We’re Gonna Give it 35% – Against Me!
This is my favorite song by Against Me! right now. She wrote it in Pittsburgh while Anti-Flag was trying to court her to sign onto their record company. “On a balcony overlooking nothing”
First I caught the beginning and I laughed at the lyrics, and read how much she despised bottled water and thought of how much I did esp at that time (2002) (not that it doesn’t make me uncomfortable now).
“We drank bottled water together, and talked business, I think I played the right moves.”
“My heart is anywhere but here”
“How tired I was from the past couple of weeks from the past couple of years, but it hit me all at once.”
I relate to so many parts of this song and I relate so hard to it.
My memory associated with this song is on a sleepless night, one I knew all I could do was walk if I ever wanted to sleep. So I drove the silver car fast as a rocket through the tunnel and over the bridge, eyeing up the Jersey barriers for future spots that I could crash with our crappier car. I parked the car at the top of the Homestead Gray Bridge. And walked over to it and dreamed of jumping, instead I just walked it. With this song on repeat. Tonight I was stealing hours from my sleep time so I could live for a few minutes. But I didn’t know how to live anymore. I only knew I wanted to die. Tonight wasn’t the night, I was to frustrated. Tonight was a night I had to walk down the bridge.
These were some of the first nights I lived in so long, one of these nights I walked across a long railroad bridge while a cargo boat past underneath me. I ran the final bit worried cars would see me, no longer scared I would fall through the rickety floor, I was more worried I would die before I was able to do this crazy shit again. I finished the night by burning a small American flag on the middle of the bridge as I walked back to my car.
“I can’t believe how naive I was to think this could ever be so simple.” (how I feel about the family)
11. Borne on the FM Waves of the Heart – Against Me!
I found this song on another night I stole the same night I was walking on Bigelow Boulevard past the french fries trying to finally find out where the sidewalk along it goes Something I’d been wondering for 4 years.
Packaged between, “Problems” and “Even at Our Worst We’re Better Than Most” This is the soundtrack of that night. As I walked on the sidewalk I found where I would hang myself. A quest I had been on for over a year. In one of the parts of this sidewalk near the strip district there weren’t any businesses but instead there were trees that would hide me, hide me from anyone seeing me. I would simply tie my rope to the fence and dangle against the concrete wall attempting to scurry up it until I could no longer breathe.
12. Even at Our Worst We’re Still Better Than Most – Against Me!
“You can have it all, I ain’t got the heart to fight, no.
Total exhaustion, complete breakdown. For the asshole I am,
apologies in full, please leave me alone.
Pull over the van, let me out.”
Exactly, that is exactly what I wanted to scream every day after every conflict with Clarity for the last few months with the kids, I was just truly exhausted.
13. Problems – Against Me!
“An inventory has been taken of every belonging
An estimated value sold in event of emergency
The only back up plan in case it doesn’t work out
While losing semblance of coherence to a former self
You know I am becoming the choice’s we’re making”
This was my plan. I had a car, I had a no obligations. I was going to get my shit sorted out a little bit, sell a bunch of bikes and bike parts and then go on my road trip. Then my partner never changed the oil in my car that she drove all the time and it imploded.
14. What We Worked For – Against Me!
“May the likes of this song never make one fucking dollar, leave it for a demo tape to be played until it’s broken and be remembered for only what it was, that we gave ‘em hell”
“There is a distance beyond the freeway” was going to be the motto of my road trip
This song so much reminds me of who I was in college and what I believed and what moved me. And what is moving me once again, I understand that you give up on the idealist things that you believe, but I don’t want to, not yet. I want to live them for a bit more time, I still want to be a child, because it’s more fun that being an adult, because it’s what makes me glow.
“Sleeping under plastic stars glued to the ceiling…. But we gave ‘em hell”
15. Burn – Against Me!
“Burn burn burn, like they did to the anarchists at the stakes
Burn burn bun, like the histories they stole from us”
Laura said they never finished the lyrics of the bridge, which is why it sounds weird and she sings hurriedly, “One day patriot thugs will dance to songs of justice, and cringe and rack guns of shame.”
All I hear when I think about this is this famous picture of a Nazi book burning. This isn’t just a library this is the Library of Magnus Hirschfeld’s Institute for Sexual Science. Hirschfeld was the founder of modern transgender theory, and it was his students who fled the Nazis and founded transgender advocacy in the US. This book burning was a theft of transgender history a theft of my history, a history that if played out differently could’ve easily drastically altered my life. #fuckfascism #noplatform
16. White Crosses – Against Me!
“I wake up in the morning and I drink from the fountain
I wake up in the morning with the same unanswered questions
I don’t know what’s going to cure my unsettled stomach”
This song feels like walking through Squirrel Hill, wandering around after dropping of the kids. Loud head banging music to forget my woes and softly head bang as I walk though the quiet streets of Squirrel Hill.
17. Thrash Unreal – Against Me!
“No mother ever dreams
That her daughter’s gonna grow up to be a junkie
No mother ever dreams
That her daughter’s gonna grow up to sleep alone”