Anger

I’m so… angry. 

I realized it yesterday on the bus ride home from Boston. 

Maybe it’s hormones. Maybe it’s my impending birthday. Maybe I’m just disappointed in how life has been. 

I guess this is the point in life where you start to look back and see if you’re where you expected to be. And you look forward to see if you’re on the path you hoped for. I guess it’s the quarter-life crisis. 

If I’m honest with myself, I am upset at the lack of direction in my life. I’ve never been much for a Plan B, but sometimes the lack of a backup can be stressful. I’m trying to trust God but I’m also trying to not be another deadbeat college grad millennial statistic. 

But that’s not where the anger comes from. At least not directly. The anger comes from fear. Fear of even more failure. Fear of even more disappointment. Fear of being a disappointment. 

A friend texted me this morning telling me she was disappointed at my lack of curiosity. That upset me a lot. And I don’t think it’s because I’m insecure about having the appropriate level of curiosity. I think it’s because I’m scared of being disappointing. Not specifically to her – that doesn’t really matter much – but to the people who have actually invested so much in me. I’m afraid of disappointing the people who’ve always expected me to do well. I don’t know how to NOT be disappointing to them. 

So I guess I’m not really angry. I guess I’m really just sad and afraid. And I don’t know what to do about that. 

Who Do You Want to Be?

I was hanging out with an old friend Monday night and he asked me that question.

After spending the day doing laundry and delaying a much-needed shower, I got a text from a friend telling me he was free and he wanted to hang out. My schedule had cleared up too, so I decided to go. I figured I could probably get a free meal from the whole thing, which was important because my bank account has not been especially robust these past few days.

We went to Washington Square Park (a park I discovered I kind of hate) and went to a movie theater in Union Square. Much of the walk to the theater was filled with statements about how long it’s been and questions about who I am now (all statements and questions I hate).

Finally, we made it to a fancy pizza place. While we sat with the food in front of us, he finally asked the fateful question: So, tell me, Danielle, who do you want to be?

Upon hearing the question, I was immediately filled with rage. We argued for a few minutes about why I didn’t want to answer such a crap question (if I were a more edgy Christian I wouldn’t be using the word ‘crap’) and eventually gave up because he clearly wanted to make a point that I didn’t care to hear and I couldn’t explain my disdain for the question clearly enough. So now, on this blog, I will explain my hatred for his dumb question.

A few years ago, I probably wouldn’t have hated his question. I probably would’ve leapt at the chance to divulge my life philosophy and explain the type of person I wanted to be. But now, that’s probably the last thing I want to do. I don’t care about who people want to be. I barely care about who I want to be. Because all that tells you is who my ideal person is.

There are things I want to do in my life. There are certain values I want to uphold. And I care about being seen as the person I want to be. But in all honesty – and this may sound a little haughty – I am the person I want to be.

Like I said, I have goals and dreams and interests and stuff. And I can always think of ways to better myself. But every morning when I wake up, I make decisions that set me on the path to being the person I am by the end of the day. And the person I am at the end of the day is the person I wanted to be, subconsciously or not, that day.

The question for me is less, who do you want to be, and more, who are you? When I wrong someone I can’t apologize to them and say “sorry, I just haven’t been able to live up to the person I want to be. Forgive me.” That’s crap. When I wrong someone, I have to admit to them and myself that that’s who I am, for better or worse.

I’m not advocating some kind of staunch individualism and obstinacy á la Howard Roark from The Fountainhead. That’s a dangerous philosophy. I’m saying that we’re imperfect people and sometimes focusing on who we want to be separates us from who we are and who we can be. I want to be generous with my time, money, and skills. But wanting it doesn’t make it so. And wanting it doesn’t absolve me from guilt when I’m stingy with all those resources.

I’ve given up trying to figure out who I want to be and instead replaced that practice with being, doing, acting, and reacting. And hopefully, sometimes, I end up becoming the person I can be.

Party Like a Rockstar

My favorite thing about being in NYC is going to parties.

This is a weird discovery for me because I wasn’t much of a partyer in college. I barely participated in events at my eating club, except for the occasional formal or semi-formal. But now that I’m here in New York, I love attending small parties.

I realized this last Saturday, when I arrived home at 4AM, mildy inebriated, fairly tired, and super excited about the upcoming week. My friend had thrown a get-together that featured lots of alcohol and lots of cool people. After 7 straight hours of partying – ending in a short philosophical discussion about the Catholic Church and continued denials of the invitation to stay over – I went home tired and remembering why I love this city so much.

In my experience, NYC house parties are the best kinds of parties. They tend to be chill and relaxed and you get to meet so many cool people. I kind of want to attend a party every weekend.

This post is basically just me gushing about how great parties are. I have no epiphanies to share about them. I will say, though, that parties are the best places to meet eligible young men. In my experience…

Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien

I remember hearing this song for the first time in my high school French class and it’s a song that has stayed with me for probably a decade since.

As I write this, I wonder if I have any regrets. That may be an odd thing to say – presumably, you’d know if you had any major regrets or not – but my confusion comes from my hesitance to trust my first response. When I first encounter this idea, I immediately react in agreement with the song: “No, I don’t regret anything!” But when I pause for a moment, I’m forced to ask myself, “Am I just lying because I know I shouldn’t regret anything? Do I actually have regrets?”

It’s a weird question to ask myself, I know.

Here, though, I think my initial reaction is true. I don’t regret anything. That doesn’t mean I don’t think about things. In fact, it’s that thinking that initially makes me hesitate to answer the question. There are certainly things in my life worth regretting: relationships with men, my academic performance, how I’ve navigated friendships. Those are the things I think about when I wonder whether or not I do have regrets. But when I really think back on those topics, I realize that they weren’t all bad.

Now, I’m not making the argument that you shouldn’t have regrets because every experience is a learning experience. That may be true, but I don’t know how inclined I am to agree with that statement at this point in my life. Some things don’t have to be experientially learned. Sometimes you should just make good decisions. No, my argument is different. Because when I think about all of my failed encounters with men I remember that they failed because I was focused on other, at times more important, things. When I look back on my academic performance in college, I remember that I didn’t spend additional hours on papers because I wanted to spend additional hours with people. And when I think about some poor friendship decisions, I remember that, in the grand scheme of things, they weren’t always all that poor.

The final thing is what I want to talk more about.

I’d be a horribly ineffectual liar if I said I don’t think about the impact of ending a friendship that, at one point, was one of the most important relationships in my life. I’d be lying if I said I never wonder what would happen if I were to revisit it. But I’d also be dishonest if I didn’t admit that those moments usually come when I’m feeling lonely, sad, or selfish.

The other day, I was thinking about loving people badly. How I’ve spent so much of my time looking for someone to love me well, that I do them a huge disservice in the end. That, sometimes, the best way to show your love for someone doesn’t include your continued presence in their life. I’ve had to learn that a few times already this year (admittedly, I’m not a good learner. I’m learning all of this very slowly. Like, right now, I’m in the midst of very-slowly-learning this). It hasn’t been easy to learn. And maybe it’s something I won’t fully learn ever. Because sometimes I’m selfish. And sometimes I seek the most immediate medicine to deal with my human condition. Because it’s not fun to feel lonely, or invisible, or misunderstood. But it’s also not cool to enter and exit people’s lives, wreaking new havoc with every appearance, all in any attempt to heal thyself. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I’m the only 20-something in the world to ever make bad decisions, end friendships, and feel sad. In fact, I’ve been under the impression that this is everyone’s 20s (amirite? Please tell me I’m right. It would be so utterly devastating to realize I’m one of few people in the world who makes such consistently disturbingly bad decisions. Seriously. Comment if I’m wrong). Still, knowing that lots of people mess up like I do doesn’t make me feel so great about my mess-ups. It just makes me wonder why I can’t love people better.

Still, I think I love my best friend enough not to reintroduce her to the relational roller-coaster that can be my friendship.

There’s pain in saying that – a pain that will certainly dull as time passes – but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

No, I don’t regret anything.

Adele’s 25: When We Were Young

Lyrics:

Everybody loves the things you do
From the way you talk to the way you move
Everybody here is watching you
‘Cause you feel like home
You’re like a dream come true

But if by chance you’re here alone
Can I have a moment before I go?
‘Cause I’ve been by myself all night long
Hoping you’re someone I used to know

You look like a movie
You sound like a song
My God, this reminds me
Of when we were young

Let me photograph you in this light
In case it is the last time
That we might be exactly like we were
Before we realized
We were sad of getting old
It made us restless
It was just like a movie
It was just like a song

I was so scared to face my fears
Nobody told me that you’d be here
And I swear you moved overseas
That’s what you said, when you left me

You still look like a movie
You still sound like a song
My God, this reminds me
Of when we were young

Let me photograph you in this light
In case it is the last time
That we might be exactly like we were
Before we realized
We were sad of getting old
It made us restless
It was just like a movie
It was just like a song

When we were young [4x]

It’s hard to admit that
Everything just takes me back
To when you were there
To when you were there
And a part of me keeps holding on
Just in case it hasn’t gone
I guess I still care
Do you still care?

It was just like a movie
It was just like a song
My God, this reminds me
Of when we were young

When we were young [4x]

Let me photograph you in this light
In case it is the last time
That we might be exactly like we were
Before we realized
We were sad of getting old
It made us restless
Oh I’m so mad I’m getting old
It makes me reckless
It was just like a movie
It was just like a song
When we were young

Thoughts:

Full disclosure: this is my absolute favorite song from the album. And I also think it’s the best song on the album. Some people may disagree, but those people are wrong.

Let’s start at the very beginning. This song comes right after “I Miss You” and it feels like something that would. No longer is Adele stuck on the facade of “Hello”, the passive-aggression of “Send My Love”, or the pure regret and longing of “I Miss You”. No, now she’s moved on to what is the centerpiece of the album and probably the centerpiece of what it means to be 25: nostalgia. In the first stanza, we get exactly that. “You feel like home” isn’t just a passing statement, it’s the embodiment of nostalgia (a word that comes from the Greek nostos, which means a return home). But more than just nostalgia, this song does something I’ve mentioned a few times on this blog in recent weeks: it backtracks. “Can I have a moment before I go” is Adele’s first attempt in this album to actually revisit a past from which she’s already far removed.

The first part I have in bold is a lyric she repeats throughout the song and I think it’s super poignant. Here’s why: not only does it represent Adele’s interaction with this man she’s seeing, it’s also indicative of the song. When you listen to the track, it feels like a movie and it’s clearly a song. The line is kind of meta but it’s also just the embodiment of the moment. It operates on so many levels.

The next stanza marks Adele’s transition into full-on nostalgia. When she says that she wants to photograph him in case this is the last time they’ll be the way they were before they get old, she’s putting the feelings of nostalgia into lyric form. That’s what we all want to do at some point in our lives. We want to keep things the way they were and remember them that way. That’s what photos do, they capture singular moments in time without context or meaning. They’re just moments. But we (I) so often want to keep those moments, forgetting all the moments that came directly before or after. That’s the danger of nostalgia.

Adele kind of knows that and she finally gets out the truth she’s been skirting around in the first 3 songs of the album. “A part of me keeps holding on/ just in case it hasn’t gone/ I guess I still care/ do you still care?” That’s the thing about nostalgia. It’s only there if you still actually care about how the past was. It only remains if you still care. And it’s ridiculously difficult to be at this liminal point where you’re looking back but you know you have to move forward. Not to mention the last, most strikingly debilitating line – “do you still care?” It’s frustrating and confusing and even maddening. Adele even says as much in the last highlighted phrase.

Getting old makes you reckless because it makes you remember your youth, even the parts that you’re probably better off forgetting.

I love this song. At every moment in every line, I feel what Adele is feeling. It forces introspection upon me but also regret and general sadness. When I’m done listening to this song I’m always left with a big ball of emotion that I don’t quite know what to do with. It’s not a bad feeling though. It’s the kind of feeling you only get every so often with music.

Grade: A+

I’ve already revealed that this is my favorite song from the album and the best song so this grade is no surprise. It’s basically perfect. You can listen below.

 

 

Adele’s 25: I Miss You

Lyrics:

I want every single piece of you
I want your heaven and your oceans too
Treat me soft but touch me cruel
I wanna teach you things you never knew, baby
Bring the floor up to my knees
Let me fall into your gravity
Then kiss me back to life to see
Your body standing over me

Baby, don’t let the lights go down
Baby, don’t let the lights go down
Baby, don’t let the lights go down
Lights go down lights go down
Lights go down lights go down
Down down down

[2x:]
I miss you when the lights go out
It illuminates all of my doubts
Pull me in, hold me tight, don’t let go
Baby, give me light

I love the way your body moves
Towards me from across the room
Brushing past my every groove
No one has me like you do, baby
Bring your heart I’ll bring my soul
But be delicate with my ego
I want to step into your great unknown
With you and me setting the tone

Baby, don’t let the lights go down
Baby, don’t let the lights go down
Baby, don’t let the lights go down
Lights go down lights go down
Lights go down lights go down
Down down down

[2x:]
I miss you when the lights go out
It illuminates all of my doubts
Pull me in, hold me tight, don’t let go
Baby, give me light

We play so dirty in the dark
Cause we are living worlds apart
It only makes it harder, baby
It only makes it harder, baby
Harder, baby harder, baby harder, baby harder, baby

[2x:]
I miss you when the lights go out
It illuminates all of my doubts
Pull me in, hold me tight, don’t let go
Baby, give me light

Thoughts:

Every time this song comes up, I think about how it should be on the next 50 Shades of Grey movie soundtrack. It’s clearly very sensual/sexual, but, if taken in the context of the other songs on the album, it’s also a huge change from “Send My Love (To Your New Lover)”. Now, Adele is openly missing the person, while acknowledging some of the negative parts of their relationship.

There’s something to be said about the double meaning of the lights going down. On the one hand, people tend to have sex with the lights down and sex is clearly a major part of this song. On the other hand, being in the dark “illuminates” all the doubts she’s having. It’s a great little paradox she puts in the song and I think it works because it actually works in real life too.

Lying in bed at night is when I do most of my thinking, thus illuminating all of my doubts, concerns, worries, and stresses from the previous day and the days to come. And yet there’s also something very satisfying about that time of the day. Admittedly, I can’t relate to all the experiences voiced in the song, but I think it’s certainly evocative of the physical/emotional passion and yet psychological anguish that’s present in a lot of relationships, not just sexual/romantic ones.

Grade: B+

Another strong song, but definitely not the strongest on the album.

Adele’s 25: Send My Love (To Your New Lover)

Lyrics:

Just the guitar, okay cool

This was all you, none of it me
You put your hands on, on my body and told me
Mmm
You told me you were ready
For the big one, for the big jump
I’d be your last love everlasting you and me
Mmm
That was what you told me

I’m giving you up
I’ve forgiven it all
You set me free-ee

Send my love to your new lover
Treat her better
We’ve gotta let go of all of our ghosts
We both know we ain’t kids no more
Send my love to your new lover
Treat her better
We gotta let go of all of our ghosts
We both know we ain’t kids no more

I was too strong you were trembling
You couldn’t handle the hot heat rising (rising)
Mmm
Baby I’m still rising
I was running, you were walking
You couldn’t keep up, you were falling down (down)
Mmm
Mmm there’s only one way down

I’m giving you up
I’ve forgiven it all
You set me free-ee, oh

Send my love to your new lover
Treat her better
We gotta let go of all of our ghosts
We both know we ain’t kids no more
Send my love to your new lover
Treat her better
We’ve gotta let go of all of our ghosts
We both know we ain’t kids no more

If you’re ready, if you’re ready
If you’re ready, I am ready
If you’re ready, if you’re ready
We both know we ain’t kids no more
No, we ain’t kids no more

I’m giving you up
I’ve forgiven it all
You set me free

Thoughts:
I really like this song. It’s one of my favorites from the album (easily ahead of Hello). It has a feeling different from any other Adele song – it actually sounds like a Taylor Swift song, partially because it shares the same producer from one of her tracks – but in a really good, catchy way. It’s probably the most radio friendly, but that’s not a fault of the song, it actually makes me like it more.
The part I’ve emphasized is something of a motif throughout the album and I think it’s part of the conceit/facade of the whole thing. The title and chorus boldly implore this guy to send his love to his new lover, as if Adele is completely done and over this guy. But when she says the lines in bold, it feels a little bit like she’s still holding on. She hasn’t let go; she still needs to declare her actions and feelings to prove that she’s really moved on. Popgenius.com describes the song as passive-aggressive and I think that’s true. She wants to be at the place where she’s given it up, but she’s not all the way there yet. In fact, as we progress through the album we’ll see it’s a long way until she does get there.
I don’t think this song requires a lot more deep analysis (it’s a great listen so you should certainly check it out). Those are my thoughts on track 2 from 25.
Grade: B+
Though this song is one of my favorites because of its catchyness and general deviance from a standard Adele track, I actually don’t think it’s one of the top ones objectively. I just really like it a lot.

The Chase

Sometimes I see an awesome HONY post and I like it.

Other times I see an important HONY post and I think about it for hours and write about it on this blog.

“I was married for 25 years and had five children, but I allowed myself to make decisions based on emotional glitches. I had affairs. But they were affairs of the heart. I think I had a hunger to see myself as a great man in someone else’s eyes. My wife was a fine person, and she still is, but after 25 years of marriage things become settled. And when somebody else comes along and makes you feel like something special – it’s like catnip. You want more of it. You want to say: ‘Let’s get lunch sometime.’  But in the end, you are what you are no matter how somebody makes you feel. It’s just a feeling. And I wish I hadn’t chased it.

The last two sentences (which I’ve emphasized) are the two most poignant for me. It’s how I feel whenever I come to my senses about some dumb thing I’ve been doing for whatever extended period of time. But, admittedly, it’s hard not to chase feelings.

Before college, I was never in a position where feelings were relevant for my life. But once I learned the beauty that can come from vulnerability, I began to chase that feeling. There’s a poem by Miles Hodges and Alysia Harris where he says something about how he loves being in love. I’ve found that I love chasing it. I love being in love’s vicinity. I love it when love teases me and makes me think I might get it but turns around and runs away. I love how love makes me feel too.

I used to say I’ve never been in love, but I don’t think that’s exactly the case. I know how it feels to be in love. I just don’t know how it feels to give that love back to the object of my love.

The other day my ex texted me, notifying me of his location. I had texted him a few days prior asking when he’d next be in town so his text was something of a follow up. I didn’t respond. This probably doesn’t sound like a huge deal but it kind of was. I texted him for selfish reasons initially, and then, upon realizing that I should probably back away from the phone, I withheld those reasons from him, much to his annoyance. When he followed up on my text, I simply had no words for him. I left it unanswered.

I’ll concede that I have these momentary spirals. I have a lapse in judgment and convince myself to do something that will undoubtedly adversely affect me later on. And these spirals sometimes come from my hot pursuit of something like love. But such an all-consuming chase for that feeling is bound to leave people behind.

Sometimes I wonder how many things I’ve lost, trying to gain, in greater abundance, this thing that I already have so much of.

I guess it turns out the chase isn’t actually worth that much.

Stabilizing

This past week, I’ve had a lot of good conversations with good friends. All of them were centered around similar things: how horribly bad I am at being a human and how much I’d like to change that.

What I learned is that I am a un-extraordinarily bad person with many of the same hang-ups as equally bad people my age. And there was something comforting in learning that. So as I sit in my bedroom, recovering from a destabilizing, one-day flu experience, I’m at once totally annoyed at my silly failures and also totally okay with them.

Late Saturday night/early Sunday morning, I was reminded of a comment I had made a few years ago. Oddly enough, I had listened to a podcast a few days earlier that had essentially stated the same sentiment. The comment was that, in moments of moral/spiritual/general life grayness, when it seems like you just can’t figure out the right decision to make, whatever decision you make is the right one.

Calling it “the right one” may sound a little reductive and scary but it gets the point across. Sometimes, you’re faced with decisions and you don’t know how to choose. And in those cases, you make a choice and live with it, aware that you could’ve chosen the other way but content that you didn’t.

That last part is sometimes hard to come to terms with. Nostalgia is so much easier than experiencing life as it really is or was. And sometimes it’s hard to remember that the decisions we make now don’t erase or devalue the past, they’re just indicative of our present situations.

More than anything, I think the purpose of these ambiguous decisions tends to be about closing the door or keeping possibilities open. When the answer is clearly yes or no, you don’t have to worry about the right choice and you know the right choice will probably make your life easier. When the answer can either be yes or no, you’re faced with a decision. You either leave options open and hope for the best or you close the door and see where that takes you. In the end, both roads could lead to the same place. Or they could go to drastically different locations. But if you’re not willing to close the door, you’ll never really know.

In today’s world, it’s probably as important to be willing to end things as it is to be willing to begin things. Because ending is hard. It takes probably the same level of commitment as beginning does. And nowadays, we never really have to end, which just makes ending even harder. Every relationship I’ve ever ended I’ve so far revisited in some form or another. No one ever leaves your life, they just take a sabbatical. And maybe that’s a great way to live life. Maybe the world is much better when we can call up old boyfriends or reignite long-extinguished friendships. I’ve certainly felt that way in some cases. But maybe it would be good to know that the decisions we make are stable and immovable, permanently fixed in space and time, impossible to recreate or redo. Maybe there’s good in that too.

Admittedly, the former option is far more attractive to me than the latter. But maybe the latter is healthier for me than the former. Only time will tell.

 

DP