“That’s how I move across life, move through period of life, is finding reasons, or even if it’s just musically, finding a sound, or once I find it I’m moving on. I’m still alive. The process is still going on. I struggle when I can’t work. That’s when things go weird.”– Thom Yorke on writing and writer’s block after OK Computer
Do you ever wonder if you’re playing the victim? It’s a fine line I think. You know, between admitting that things might really be absolute shite, and that perhaps you’re just looking for a way to feel sorry for yourself. Wah wah life is so awful for a young hipster in the midst of a city that allows you to reinvent yourself a thousand times over in the blink of an eye. My journey as a mortician feels a lot like that, because-well-because it was. Ups and downs. Conquests and defeat. Insert sinewy and sexy writing metaphor here. And now that my mortuary days appear to be spent, after what feels like my greatest album has hit the charts, I’m left wondering, is the end of an era? Or just a hiatus. Do I get my Kid A or does it all end on my personal Exit Music?
I whine a lot to my boyfriend. I think each day is sort of just us dating each other and our respective depression. We’ve found a nice balance him and I. Me and him? Us. Our shadow selves have what seems like a silent agreement with one another that when one is down the other bucks up, but today is one of those days where east meets the west and the twain have met. I guess that’s to be expected. Life is hard. And fuck anybody that tries to tell you different. I guess I’m depressed. I don’t know what I’m doing and I never really have. I’ve always been so jealous of the people who just know. You know? Like, they’re like “Yup I’m going to be teacher. A mom. A lawyer. A what-the-fuck-ever,” and then they just do it. And they seem happy. I mean when Death comes a-knocking I’m not sure that they’ll feel that way but I’m not sure how that affects me other than it validates some sort of smugness in my soul that desires to always be right about the fact that everyone is just as miserable as me, they just don’t want to admit it.
So yeah. I guess I am miserable right now? Can you blame me? I’m in my thirties and after years of hard work, running a mortuary and waiting tables simultaneously, I think I may have failed. After years of asking people how they wanted their steak cooked all the while sending endless phone calls to my voicemail that were about doing a reality show on the mortuary, it’s over. I failed. I bowed out. The curtain is down. Now I just ask how the steak is cooked. There is no police officer on the other line asking me how long it will take a driver to get to the apartment to get a dead body out. No flagging down a coworker and signing to them “Watch my FUCKING table while I take this!” Now I just ask if the steak is to their liking, and try not to blow my brains out on the way back for their eighth ice tea refill. I am no longer special. I floated back into the ether. But for one moment in my life, I almost took up space. Almost.
The good news is I always thought my pride would take a bigger hit. But funny enough I mostly don’t give a shit. I’m young and I’m healthy and I think I’m addicted to the hustle. Now, I’m not going to bullshit you and tell you that I don’t care what people think about me. That I don’t want people to like me. That’s crazy. Of course I want people to like me! I crave and need the attention because I am a narcissistic asshole and I think that everything I say is important and a fucking revelation. And maybe that’s my problem. I’m just atoms trapped in the amber of the moment. In the shadow of my partner and cohort who’s larger than life presence made me feel small and frantic. Seen and unseen. And now, as I take this time to pause, all my words pour out, my fingers and brain move to the music in my mind and on the speaker. And then “How To Disappear Completely” plays. And so it appears, the moment is writing itself. And so are my answers.
There’s this study, its called the ‘Zeno effect’. And the easiest way to summarize it is to say that a group of Cornell physicists verified that atoms don’t move while being observed. I don’t know how to unpack quantum physics or explain this in any real smart way. But what if those atoms were assigned a job as a funeral director? And they were told to keep their electrically charged atom filled phone in their hand 24/7/365. And then they were told that if they didn’t answer the phone they would receive numerous calls and texts until they did answer. Seeping into their dreams. Their nightmares. Ring. Ring. Ring. Forget electric sheep. The electric unending sleep. You tell the atoms they will be observed constantly. Invisible observation. 24/7/365. And when those atoms answered the phone late in the evening, sometimes they were yelled at by other atoms. Atoms that composed another flesh bag full of anger and sadness and rage and sadness and rage. Atoms, on the other side of atoms, that line up with atoms, and that phone. Atoms upon atoms upon atoms directed at your atoms. In other words, energy. Constant unrelenting energy. And when you aren’t being forcefully observed, you are willingly being observed. Through Instagram. And Facebook. And Twitter. Your atoms creating a lattice. That create a crystal. That create you. Constantly observed. And frozen. Ineffective. Overstimulated. And left, wanting to disappear completely.
And then it’s no wonder. No wonder that years of observation would leave you empty. A pot that’s been dying to boil over but can’t because all eyes are on it. It’s no wonder that one would be left feeling nothing. And even if my mortuary wasn’t as great as OK, Computer, it didn’t top the charts and no one would look back and say that it captured an era perfectly, it still wasn’t unlike the masterpiece that left Thom Yorke with a massive case of writer’s block and emptiness. And when you’re an artist and your work is how you move through life. Your work is how you find a reason for life, well, it feels like death. And now I am left wondering. Unobserved. If maybe this is always the way had to go? Maybe the depression. The unrelenting feeling of unease and lack of purpose were simply all the bubbles frozen in the lattice that needed to thaw so that I can move again. Maybe I have to go away so I can write my Kid A. And if you’ve never heard of Radiohead and this whole metaphor makes no sense, I think this quote from Pitchfork sums up the idea of going from observation, to silence, to perfection, perfectly, “[Kid A] is an emotional, psychological experience. [Its] sounds like a clouded brain trying to recall an alien abduction. It’s the sound of a band, and its leader, losing faith in themselves, destroying themselves, and subsequently rebuilding a perfect entity. In other words, Radiohead hated being Radiohead, but ended up with the most ideal, natural Radiohead record yet.” When I read this I realized how special I am not. How twenty years ago my musical heroes felt the same thing I do now. I have lost faith in myself. I hate myself. And I have to destroy myself in order to attempt to be something better. And maybe that’s OK.
I sat down to write this and legitimately had no fucking clue where I was going or what I wanted to say. And maybe I still said nothing, who knows? But, maybe that’s the beauty of floating back into that ether. Letting go of structure and filling in the spaces rather than the space. Maybe I have to lose faith in myself. In my passion. In my intuition. Maybe I have to let go of the ego and the pride. The hope that I will ever make something of myself. The thought that I’ve earned or deserve any of it. Because that’s how I reconnect. I let my brain tap back into the ideas in my mind that are also just composed of the invisible and the unseen. And maybe just maybe, everything will stop feeling so sour. And everything. Everything. Everything. Everything. Will be in its right place.