Thursday, February 26, 2015

Don't Give Yourself Away

I, like many people I have met, feel a little bit like I was born in the wrong era. I feel as though I was mean to be a teenager in the 1980's. Maybe because it's I because I watched a lot of John Hughes movies. Maybe it's because that is my favourite era of skateboarding. Maybe it's because Fast Times at Ridgemont High has both the character of Jeff Spicoli, a bit of an idol of mine, and Phoebe Cates' pool-exiting scene. Romanticizing the past is a very common thing among people and I know people think it's awful, but I just really love the aesthetic of the decade and a lot of my favourite things happen to come from it.

So yes, I feel like I was meant to be Spicoli or Stiles type. Maybe I just like wearing short shorts and Hawaiian shirts? Who knows. A result of this mindset is that I really late 70's and 80's pop rock because I associate that music with these types of characters. It seems like the perfect music to accompany those characters, with just enough rebellion to give it an edge while still being poppy as hell. The Outfield, The Raspberries, The Knack, I eat them all up . Well, maybe not The Outfield. They're pretty corny, but I love them just the same. The biggest one by far though, is Cheap Trick.

This article is what got me thinking about all of this: The AV Club on Cheap Trick's "Surrender".

It's a great read and sums up a lot of my thoughts on Cheap Trick. And man, "Surrender" is a fucking jam, lordy. Of all the bands in today's revered pantheon of "classic rock" my favourite is Cheap Trick by a fucking mile. It all comes from one place: The use of "Gonna Raise Hell" in episode 3 of Freaks and Geeks, "Tricks and Treats" in the "Freaks" play it in their car and then the song plays while the "Geeks" get their costumes ready:

The band was something that just "existed" before this, but for some reason this song really struck a chord with me when I heard it in this context and suddenly the band became this symbol for teenage delinquency in the 70's and 80's and drinking beer underage and going to bush parties and smoking poorly-rolled, dirt weed joints and staying out late for the first time and trying to impress girls for the first time and it all made perfect sense to me. I love all things "coming-of-age" to death and to me Cheap Trick is a "coming-of-age" band.

Also, there's also all the guitar solos. That helps too.

Like I said, I tend to romanticize the past a lil' bit, so whenever I hear "Dream Police" I picture cruising around in something that resembles this with the radio turned up and it seems like a perfect situation.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

My Guide To Dealing With The World

Dealing with the world can sometimes seem very difficult. Sometimes overwhelming. When it gets overwhelming, these are the things I try to remind myself of:

1. There are lots of people around you and some of them have it a lot worse than you.

I don't mean this in the "there are children starving in Africa" or "there are people sleeping in the streets" sense. I also don't want to demean those problems at all. They are humongous, seemingly unsolvable problems with today's world model that are absolutely terrible. I also don't mean to demean your own issues by saying this. Everyone's problems are completely real and completely valid.

What I mean by this is that it is important to be aware of those around you. While it is always easy to pass judgement on people and get pissed at people in public at the drop of the hat, it is a wise idea to do so 0% of the time. For every problem or issue you have, a stranger who you don't know is dealing with something similar. Maybe not exactly the same, but at least similar. Maybe a little worse. Maybe a little easier. Maybe a lot worse. Always consider that this is a possibility.

I realize that it might seem very easy for me to say this because I'm a straight white male whose current issues are school/career-related stress, but I promise that when I get really low and I don't feel too great and start to get overwhelmed, and boy do I, this is the main thing I think.

Like I said, this isn't supposed to be some type of Catholic guilt thing, where I lessen the importance of my own problems strictly because they aren't the same as somebody being murdered, but it becomes easier to think of how to deal when you realize that everyone else is also trying to deal. Human existence is findin' a fuckin' way to deal.

So know that everyone else is trying to do that too. Try to see it them. And try to think that I'm not a hippy after reading that last sentence.

2. Lose yourself in art.

Like I said, everyone is trying to deal. Some people feel that the best way they can deal is by creating. Interacting with the things that those people create is a great way to deal.

Turn a song up really loud and scream the words.

Look at a piece of art. Learn about it. See the themes.

Read about a character and relate to them.

Sometimes it can be hard to talk to people about problems, because you never know how they'll take it. Some people give good advice and help. Some people give bad advice and it seems like you're right back where you started. When you can't seem to find any advice, find it in art instead. It doesn't matter what type.

Talk about it too. Let people know about it.

3. Take a moment for one of your own specific pleasures.

I know that not everybody has the time and/or money to treat themselves to something nice when they don't feel so great and I don't think that spending money as a knee-jerk reaction to sadness is a good idea at all. But just give yourself a few moments of the day for just you. Make a pot of tea and read a comic book. Take an extra 5 minutes in the shower. Do a crossword. Read a book. Wear your favourite T-shirt. Scratch your pet's belly. Think about something you would do a lot of if time was not a factor and do it for just a little bit. It usually makes me smile and that goes a long way. Don't do it to procrastinate. Think about it in advance and look forward to it. You'll appreciate it more.

4. Everybody is going to shit on everybody.

It is important to accept this. This seems to be the main way that many people can make themselves feel better, though it is unfortunate because it puts somebody down in the process. I can't act as though I've never done it, because I have, but it is best to avoid it as much as you can. When you do, things will come out well in the aggregate. Sure some people seem like absolute shitstains, but I would also refer you to #1. This is always so tempting, but once you get out of the habit, you really do realize how awful it can be.

If any of my friends read this, I imagine 80% of them will think it is dumb and make fun of me for writing something like this. Because Kitchener-Waterloo is a very judgmental place. It's important to let these roll off of you. Other people's judgments don't demean what you think and what you do. When you do things that are important to you, you are doing them for you. Don't let the turkeys get you down.