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Its own form of freedom

Earlier today, and as if to drive home the conclusion of my previous post here, I finished Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl, Carrie Brownstein’s electrifying memoir. There still is a lot for me to unpack from the book—but I found resonance in its immediate theme of tearing oneself down at all times in order to be steadily [re]building a better version of that same self. Then I reached the point where she quoted Sleater-Kinney’s singular song “Jumpers.”

Be still this old heart
Be still this old skin
Drink your last drink
Sin your last sin
Sing your last song
About the beginning
Sing it out loud
So the people can hear
Be still this sad day
Be still this sad year
Hope your last hope
Fear you last fear

There was a time when I’d have thought otherwise, but now I take it to be about living, not about dying. And it makes perfect sense.

Sounds of summer

It’s been a few years since I’ve had a proper summer jam, something that breaks me out of July’s heat shimmer stupor and captures the frisson of August’s headlong rush into fall. In 2012, it was “Broad Sky Blues” by Nebraska band UUVVWWZ, which I can best describe as a protest torch song, captured perfectly in Michael Thurber’s haunting music video. The following year, when my wife and I volunteered at the Maha Music Festival in Omaha, I developed an instant crush on Thao & the Get Down Stay Down, spending the rest of 2013 immersed in the title track from We the Common. Then life took some weird swerves and a dense emotional fog settled over 2014 and 2015. I retreated into old unhealthy habits, regained a lot of weight, and shuttered myself mentally. Breaking out of that rut has been a frustrating grind occupying most of this year, with more sudden lunges in positive directions coming in just the past couple weeks. Enter the Seratones:

“Lose what you learned to fear,” indeed.

I’m taking it as a sign: 2016 is the Year of Fixing Shit. Let’s go.

Changeover

This will be my last 50-hour work week; after Saturday, I’ll be back down to one job and have my evenings free. It’s one of the more awkward employment transitions that I’ve made. I was fully expecting to moonlight for months longer, with the possibility of something more permanent at the new place perhaps becoming a solid offer in January. But the offer came after just one week of what was expected to be a half-time job—so I took it, giving three weeks’ notice at my current job.

It’s not the most graceful evolution; the current place is an intimate, highly focused retail setting with a minuscule staff covering all bases at all times. The right kind of person could thrive in that atmosphere; I am not that person. I’m gregarious, but introverted enough that continuous burnout and emotional exhaustion took hold fast, and set me back in other unexpected ways. I also have an impression that the very act of an employee departing can lay bare certain semi-permanent stress fractures in the workplace culture. I love the place, but I really must be going.

I’ll miss the cats, though.

In any case, vague kvetching is not my purpose here. As unpracticed as I am at journaling, public or private, now into my fifth decade of walking the earth, the summer of 2016 seems a ripe enough time to exercise my brain in a new habit. My hope is to turn this sounding board into a more serious writing pursuit—but I expect to start out with a typical hodgepodge of stuff I like as it occurs to me.

Write to me here if the mood strikes you. I may open up commenting later—I’m not entirely sold on the idea. One primary reason I’m changing jobs at all is to get away from a community setting that’s always “on,” and give myself space to reallocate emotional energy. As I said, there’s a bit to sort out. Thanks for reading this far.

Test for echo

“But how can I tell,” said the man, “that the past isn’t just a fiction designed to account for the discrepancy between my immediate physical sensation and my state of mind?”

—Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

And here we are.