23 June 2014

On not being able to say what you were looking for until you find it

It has to be sometime in 2012 and KEXP has begun playing some song what seems like nearly every morning. It's not an amazing song and I'm waking up to music at this point, so I'm listening to it half-awake at best. Some songs reliably give me goosebumps, others I will hear and feel mentally jostled. This song is not one of them. But as I'm walking to the gym one day, I find myself attempting to recall a different song. I can't. The only song I can pull up is that song I've been half-awake hearing every morning. It's not a bad song, I realize, and now I want to hear it again.

That day, I go home and look through KEXP's playlist for that morning, in the time I could have conceivably heard it, the hour after my alarm has gone off. I go through what seems like each song, putting the name into Youtube, listening to a couple of seconds, and finding none of them to be what I'm searching for.

But I'm by no means defeated, as this song has been playing every morning. Unfortunately, in the next couple of days I never hear the song again. The days become months.

At this point I'm occasionally whipped into frenzies where I can't get the beat of this song out of my head. Unfortunately, because I was listening to it so passively I have no idea what any of the lyrics are. I hum parts into websites that claim to be able to identify songs based on this. On others I tap out the beat on the space bar in further desperation. All of these endeavors are in vain.

And then I'm taunted. On a rainy day in Capitol Cider after a softball game I hear the song and ask the waitress if she can identify that song that's playing. She says the iPod connected to the speaker system is in a locked closet. Then I think I'm getting coffee one day and hear an acoustic version. I strain to hear a lyric that I can write down and search for. But the song is far too quiet. Then it's my birthday and I hear it. Several beers deep, I make it known that I need to know what this song is. Phones come out, but the loud bar defeats several attempts at Shazaming. It's discouraging. It's fucking discouraging.

And then, one day, at work I'm listening to KEXP and 

It's sometime in 2010 and I'm back in grad school, cooking. I'm listening to the radio. The radio market in Massachusetts is pretty lousy. It's nearly all bought up by media conglomerates that invest minimal effort and largely will play a very limited collection of songs over and over again. But I've found a station called WRSI that's at least not bad. One day they played Gimme Shelter and Reckoner back to back and that was pretty cool. On this day, WRSI played some enjoyable, funky song. I pay it little mind.

I got into Pandora radio a little after that and no matter what seeds I gave it, it would inevitably find its way to playing some song off of a Radiohead B-side called I am a Wicked Child. The more I hear it, the more I realize that the guitar part, with tempo and speed changes, would be remarkably close to that of song I heard one day on WRSI.

And that's where the addiction begins. I find myself regularly needing to convince myself that the song I heard wasn't just I am a Wicked Child misremembered. I go through grad school never hearing it again.

But then, in the spring of 2012 I'm visiting my parents. I'm sitting in the back of their car on the way to a restaurant and against all odds 

At some point though, I hear, of all things, a Lynyrd Skynyrd song that employed, again, a very similar guitar part. But unlike these other stories to this day it has eluded me. I've had the displeasure of listening to 30 second bits of so much Skynyrd, all without the desired effect.

It's frustrating. It's frustrating to be so hamstrung by a complete inability to describe music. Lyrics can be tough to grab in real time and transcribing music on the fly, well that's the domain of the very talented. But the beats, the rhythms, the sounds of the instruments remain embedded in the mind. But they're trapped in there, largely inexpressible.

So really what is there to do? You wait. You wait. And you wait more. That's all you can do.

22 June 2014

In My Head

I am in Stockholm. I went into the city and walked around a little in the morning. I sat quietly in two different coffee shops. I went on a free walking tour. I'm now back in my hotel room, early afternoon, with a headache I have no means of correcting. This is my life headache. It does not fade on any drugs, or sleep, or a cold glass of water. It will be until it decides, for the moment, it's been enough. In the city I looked in wonder at new architecture, I felt excitement at seeing new things and new culture, and now I have a headache. This is expected cause and effect for me.

I had someone I called friend, I don't anymore, but I did, who said he didn't believe in antidepressants. Which I think is a silly claim to make. I can prove them to someone with a quick look in my cabinet if they so desired. But he clarified that he thought that when people use antidepressants, there's some other life problem they're smothering up that should be dealt with. And in some cases that's true. One can duplicate the effects with vitamin deficiencies, and lack of sleep, and shitty jobs. One can also have a physical condition of depression, which is difficult to deal with when the approach to dealing with it is "so, we know your problem IS depression, so what's your problem?"

I don't have lingering ailments of thought. PTSD is not something that afflicts me. I'm not at constant risk to be distracted from the reality at hand by former events of suffering. I am fatigued because that is my physical state. And I don't need to find a hobby or interest, because, from a theoretical standpoint, I have those. I know the things about economics, or role playing games, or movies that interest me, but I find after reading a page, or sinking a few minutes, or hell, usually just in the act of thinking ABOUT doing those things, my physical state follows a mental one that simply has nothing to give. My head aches, I become nauseous, I feel a panicked need to just be 'somewhere else,' which is never anywhere specific, I just want it to be a place of calm, where I won't feel a need to tear up at what it means to just be for me. And this occurs when my base constant state was one of fatigue and anxiousness to begin with.

I fight it. I've invited people over for board games or movies, hoping that for once I won't feel like I'm tearing apart after the first 10 minutes of sustained focus, forced to endure the rest of what I brought people together for without it being known. I live in a limbo of wanting to try the challenge again, because I want so much for it to not end the way it always ends, and just not being ready to try it again.

I think I understand why adolescents can be more likely to commit suicide when on antidepressants. I don't think it's a direct mechanism of the drug. I think after feeling so terrible for so long, and having the possibility of that no longer being the case dangled in front of them, and then having had that not come to fruition, I think the chasm of hopelessness can only grow. At least, I feel that way sometimes. But I know overall suicide rates drop as antidepressant usage increases (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3071298) despite the potential chasms, so it seems that overall they should actually be reducing chasms. I hope.

I've sometimes wished to just have ONE good day, but usually I immediately scrap the plea. It seems, given the situation, having an actual good day would be a curse all of its own. Something to look back on and lament all I didn't do on that one day I had the chance.

I think empathy is the ultimate goal I can strive to achieve. Maybe because it implies little action on my part, and I find actions enormously difficult. At the very least though, if someone tells me they have a headache, or are tired, regardless of how many days preceding they have said this, I will believe them. No one expects an arm to just grow back, I wonder why people have such different expectations of the brain. That comparison is not fallacious: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1557684/ . That was just the first hit, but the correlation has been proved time and again, as well as showing that stress in formative years likely causes the permanent state: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12450959.

As a result of my empathy goal, I used to proclaim that I wouldn't wish my state on anyone, because I can't believe that anyone deserves this. But bit by bit the world changes me. People change me. I want to have thought about my beliefs. I want to be good, and I want to know why the things I might do or think would make me that way. So I shift. Now I think I may have been short sighted. There are people who "don't believe in antidepressants." There are people telling other people they can't be tired since they haven't done anything today. And that has great potential to harm.

People don't seek out antidepressants, it's not crack. When someone is cycling through psychoactive drugs with the advice of a medical doctor it's because in general people are bad at saying "well, I guess that's it, no more life for me." Instead they're doing that thing you do instead. Telling such a person you don't believe in antidepressants is saying you think that person should stop trying to make their life worth living. If there are people who are really so deficient that they can't imagine another person's suffering without their own parallel, well then, maybe I do wish such people would suffer in the same fashion. And I would wish that they would suffer for as many days necessary to realize every day sucks as much as the last. But no, what I really wish is the only thing reasonable to wish, that no one had to feel that way.