Verboten Music

One of the most regrettable parts of no longer constantly being depressed is the music. There are entire categories of music I love deeply but am afraid to re-listen to other than in passing on the radio due to an intense fear that if I start listening again, I will be dragged down into the awful, desperate dark spaces in which I used to be mired.

Like an addict returning to old haunts or old friends, that’s how I view certain artists and albums. Little triggers. Hidden minefields.

I used to lock myself in my room and listen to Radiohead, Erasure, The Cure, or Tori Amos on repeat for days – even weeks. All in the attempt to wallow. (And quite frankly, what an enjoyable wallow it was.) There was something beautifully broken about being gloriously depressed. Reveling in pathos. Tragically melancholy.

Seductive lies about art and sadness. I mean, seriously. Why can’t our culture glorify art and joy? As if only true art stems from a dark, broken place.

What is my fear, exactly? That I’ll be drawn back to the lures of tragedy. To want to go back to the siren song of drama, insecurity, and unbearable sadness. There is something still so dangerously enticing to that old life. The lie that angst and brokenness and irreparable damage are more beautiful than wholeness and healing and vibrant living.

I turned in my Manic Pixie Dream Girl Card ™ a decade or so ago. I don’t want to lose my fourteen year sobriety chip just because I miss some tunes. (Plus, who’s going to take care of my three wee ones?)

However, I’m slowly coming around to the idea that I can listen to this music again without triggering a depression spiral. That enough decades and healing have intervened and the music is no longer a minefield and back to just beautiful music.

Sadly, I can’t say the same for movies or fan fiction. Entire broad categories of Spuffy BTVS fan fiction (especially those by the incomparable Herself) and certain angsty Alias Sarkney fanfics (but especially the Complicity fic by Behind the Red Door) are now either unavailable except through the Wayback Machine or by personal choice. Now by all means, these are not my favorite fan fics, just ones that particularly trigger my angsty self. There’s a reason why I tend to read Regency Romances nowadays.

And as for movies, no matter how much I loved it on first viewing, I will never again be able to watch Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I think fiction and movies get me too invested in characters and I just can’t divest myself from the feelings. THE FEELINGS!!

Actually, I feel somewhat embarrassed at just how much I have geek-checked myself in this post but WHATEVER.

Anyhow, since I’m the one with the trigger problems, there’s no need for YOU to deprive yourself of some awesome (albeit, somewhat older) music. Here then, a sampling of songs with which I would put on repeat for days:

– Radiohead: Fake Plastic Trees, High and Dry

– Erasure: Rock Me Gently, Piano Song

– Tori Amos: Winter (ok, pretty much everything)

– Delirium: Innocente (ft. Leigh Nash)

– Sarah Mclachlan: Fear

By no means is this list all-inclusive. It’s only what I can easily recall late on a Sunday night.

So tell me, am I crazy? Am I the only one?

 

Songs I am Digging

Did I just use the word, “digging”? As if I actually use that word in real life. Well, whatever. It’s a mentally slow day (more like week, really) and my brain is lagging. So, we are just going to listen to music today. Here are some songs I am enjoying on the radio. Let me know what songs you’re enjoying in the comments.

1) Holding On for Life – Broken Bells
The first few times I heard this on the radio, I kept thinking, “When did the BeeGees make a new song?” Well, I’ve since found out it’s a guy from The Shins and a guy from Modest Mouse teaming up together. For the record, even though Hapa Papa thinks I am full of it, other people (Google says so) think the song sounds like the BeeGees, too.

2) Young Girls – Bruno Mars
I don’t know why I like this song other than I just do. It makes me happy.

3) Talk Dirty – Jason Derulo ft. 2Chainz

Even though I find the lyrics completely deplorable (which is most rap music to me), I find the sax in this song dirty and grindy and yes, I like it. I try to zone out the words because when I actually hear them, they totally piss me off. This is a case where I’m annoyed that I find the song so catchy and I worry for my children because I may have to stop listening to the radio if they have to hear shitty, misogynistic shit like this on the daily. (Oh my word, did I just say, “On the daily”?)

That Even My Edges Are Loved

So, the new John Legend song, All of Me, just destroys me. I haven’t yet broken down sobbing while listening to it, but mostly, I think it’s because I’m afraid that if I start, I won’t be able to stop.

My favorite part is the chorus with the lyrics (full lyrics here):

‘Cause all of me
Loves all of you
Love your curves and all your edges
All your perfect imperfections

When I told Hapa Papa that I loved this song, he incredulously asked, “So, you’re telling me you love my farts? I’m pretty sure you do NOT.” I wanted to deck him. I guess he thinks he’s proved himself right on the impossibility of loving all of him. Well, I never said I loved the song because I loved all of him. Hmph. 

I love this song because I so desperately want it to be true for me. That all of me is loved and lovable – even my edges (and I certainly have many of those).

One of the side effects of having Daddy Issues is that for so long, I thought there was something wrong with me that made my father leave. I thought that if I just behaved a certain way, was more loving, sweet, and “Daddy’s Little Girl” that maybe just once, he would choose us. Every time he came home, I knew I was crazy to hope that he would change. Yet each time he left, I felt abandoned all over again.

The other day, I was reading the blog of someone I used to know through church and I just wanted to weep for her. She’s five years younger than I am and her entries reminded me of who I used to be – so broken and jagged, unable to believe I was loved and desperately wanting to be.

I recall the despair I used to feel constantly. That no one would and could and should love me because I was a horribly broken and shattered person. Who would want to hitch their wagon to that type of baggage? Even when I was loved, I couldn’t receive it. I didn’t believe it. I thought it was all a lie. I would do everything in my power to make myself as unlovable as possible, lashing out at the people who cared and loved me the most. Then, when I pushed people to their breaking point and they would inevitably leave, I would point to that example as proof of my unlovableness. That those people who “loved” me were made out to be liars.

I used to be somewhat dramatic.

Even now, after years of therapy and mostly healed relationships, every now and then, slivers of doubt and self-hatred slip into my thoughts. It used to happen when Hapa Papa would point out something horrible about my character and I would downward spiral into bouts of intense self-loathing combined with wanting to push Hapa Papa as far away from me as possible. But instead of wallowing in the despair as I used to, I now try to nip the unhelpful thoughts in the bud as quickly as possible.

A lot of it was me being unwilling to look at my own selfishness and sinfulness. When I finally chose to look at myself with as little self-condemnation as possible, I could see how Hapa Papa wasn’t attacking me or telling me that he didn’t love me. He was trying to love me by being honest with me in as kind of a way as possible. And truthfully, I am an incredibly selfish person (more so than most people), so the fact that Hapa Papa rarely pointed out my faults just meant that he is, as my brother said, The Most Patient Man in the World.

I can now say that I am in a mostly healthy place and can take Hapa Papa’s concerns about my character as him asking me to change because I hurt him with my selfishness vs. him asking me to change because I am irreparably broken and no one will ever love me and if they do, they are utter fools and completely deluded and once they find out what I really am, they will leave me.

I’m not even sure how the change in me happened except that I had to fake it until I made it. I have always hated that advice. It seems so insincere. But truthfully, that is what happened. I had to fake believing that I was lovable and loved and acted as if I believed that it was true until I actually believed it. At some point, I CHOSE to act AS IF what I desperately hoped to be true (that someone could actually love me), WAS true. And eventually, it was so.

This is just my really long-winded way of saying that I love this John Legend song because it reminds me of what I ultimately long for deep inside my cold, dark heart. That I am loved and lovable – edges and all. I suppose it took this many words for me to finally figure out the why and to articulate the sentiment.

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Proof Hapa Papa loves me (or did).

It is also my roundabout way of saying that this is how I feel Hapa Papa loves me. Perhaps he is not quite as romantic as John Legend, but Hapa Papa acts as if he loves all of me (even if he says he doesn’t love my horrible, selfish parts). Every now and then, I ask him if he still loves me, and he hems and haws, but I know he’s doing that just to tease me. (At least, I am choosing to think that.)

So even though Hapa Papa calls this an “idealistic, fake song,” it still makes me think of him. After all, I have his love for me caught on film. (Even if it was seven years ago – it’s still proof!)

Geez. When did this post devolve into a long mash note? Enough of that. Here’s the YouTube video of John Legend and his real wife, Chrissy Teigen. Beautiful people in a beautiful video.

Cover Me

I didn’t appropriately account for how exhausted I would be with Christmas, visiting family, plumbing issues (not a euphemism – literal plumbing problems), and Glow Worm sleeping erratically these last few days. So, you all get another fluff piece (TWSS).

Best covers that are better than the original (sampling doesn’t count). Discuss in the comments. My favorites are below in no particular order (edited to reflect Hapa Papa reminding me what I really love):

1) Travis – Hit Me Baby One More Time (covering Britney Spears)

Who knew this song was so melancholy and deep?

2) Tori Amos – Smells Like Teen Spirit (covering Nirvana)

Well, pretty much anything Tori covers is better than the original, but I hate the Nirvana version so that means Tori’s version must be super awesome.

3) No Doubt – It’s My Life (covering Talk Talk)

The original is good but this one is so much better!

4) The Sundays – Wild Horses (covering The Rolling Stones)

LOVE LOVE LOVE.

5) Johnny Cash – Hurt (covering Nine Inch Nails)

So good people think NIN is covering Cash.

6) Mary J. Blige – One (covering U2)

Come on! It’s just too awesome! (But Hapa Papa doesn’t consider it a cover since Bono is also in it. Whatever.)

My Top 3 Christmas Pop Songs

Merry Christmas, party people! Hope you and yours are having a great day full of memory making activities. (Oh, let’s face it. If you have small children, hope today is not like every other day and you have 0-1 meltdowns and time outs. And that you got to sleep in an extra ten minutes.) If you don’t celebrate Christmas, then, happy Wednesday. 😀 Enjoy your day off courtesy of the tyranny of the hybrid religious/pagan festival from pseudo-Christianity!

In light of the festivities (and also because I’m sure you want to get back to that merry-making vs. trolling the interwebs – get back to your family, you!), here are my Top 3 Christmas Pop Songs of my youth. I would come up with something more recent were I aware of any.

3) River – Joni Mitchell

Ok, so it’s sad and melancholy and depressing. The best kind of music! And perfect for the holidays if you’re feeling The Sads this time of year.

2) Last Christmas – WHAM!

Um, because this song is AWESOME. AWESOME. Hapa Papa and I randomly quote this song throughout the year. Because WE are awesome.

1) All I Want for Christmas Is You – Mariah Carey

Instant classic. This song makes me super happy always. 😀 I don’t care that it’s cheesy and overplayed. LOVE IT. I remember when I used to work in Hollywood on Hollywood Blvd right across from the Scientology building and every Christmas, they would play holiday music on full blast for two weeks and I would hear this song at least a million times a day so by the time Christmas rolled around, I had heard it at least 14 million times (true fact). It hasn’t affected my love in the slightest. Enjoy!

Alright, your turn! What are your favorite Christmas pop songs? Tell me in the comments and include the YouTube link if you can!

Will You Still Love Me When I’m No Longer Young and Beautiful?

I’m not gonna lie to you, Marge. I think I’m beautiful. It sounds so wrong to say it, but I have eyes. I can look in the mirror. (I won’t kid myself and say what I really mean is that I’m beautiful on the inside. We all know I am the vain, flighty sort.) Sure, I’d look much better if I made any sort of remote effort to dress well or wear makeup, but I am really far too lazy and practical.

I used to tell Hapa Papa all the time that I was the better looking half of the relationship. He would retort, “For now…

Don ‘t all fight for him at once, ladies. He’s all mine.

Because although it may not be objectively true, it certainly is culturally true. (The only thing I’ve got going for me is that I’m Asian so I should age well. But Hapa Papa is half Asian, so it really could be a toss up.) After all, men allegedly just get better looking and more attractive as they grow older. (Personally, I think the thicker bank account has more to do with this “attractiveness,” but I digress.) Women, on the other hand, do not. Apparently we shrivel up and turn into desiccated old-lady husks as soon as we hit twenty-five.

Sometimes, I really despise American beauty standards.

Anyhow, I bring this up because a few weeks ago, I heard Lana Del Rey’s song, Young and Beautiful, on So You Think You Can Dance. I know I’m the leaky sort anyway, (from many parts of my body – but I blame that on babies and hormones. Too much?) but I teared up. I found the chorus particularly sad, lonely, and true to the insecurities we all have from time to time.

Will you still love me
When I’m no longer young and beautiful?
Will you still love me
When I got nothing but my aching soul?
I know you will, I know you will
I know that you will
Will you still love me when I’m no longer beautiful?

– Young and Beautitful, Lana Del Rey
(You can find the full lyrics here.)

I initially heard it as more of a woman desperately trying to convince herself that the person she loves will still love her. But perhaps it is more the quiet declaration of a woman confident in her lover’s long-spanning love. I don’t know. Personally, I tend towards the cynical, but that’s a different topic for another day.

What this song really does, though, is make me feel sad and melancholy.

I think of Fiddler On the Roof’s song, Do You Love Me?

I remember the vows people make when they marry – to love and cherish the other person for better or worse, until death do they part – and that these vows are supposed to be the answer to the poignant question, “Will you still love me?” And yet, the question still has to be asked because in our American culture, people are disposable and vows aren’t really all what they used to be. 

I think about infidelity and how people always ask if the other woman is younger and more beautiful as if that’s a valid reason to leave a wife. 

I think of Hapa Papa and how I was a little dismayed after having Cookie Monster because my stomach got all poochy and my body was a little lumpier than before and how Hapa Papa told me he thought I was beautiful because my body grew and birthed Cookie Monster and wasn’t it worth it to have him even if my body had changed?

So is it any wonder that the song stirred up a longing to be loved that deeply and steadfastly? I’m just so grateful that I am.

Here’s the song for you to enjoy. I’ve also included the video for the dance. I won’t tell if you get something in your eyes.

What Is Love?

What is Love?Every time I have a conversation with my mother-in-law about love and the nature of love, I come away astounded. For some reason, she thinks that she is not a loving person because she is not affectionate (eg: she doesn’t hug, kiss, or whatever) and doesn’t really think of the kids too much or worry about them when she’s not here.

She claims she is a cold person because she is not like my mother, nor is she like the grandmothers and mothers on television.

Each time she says that, I respond with, “You know that television isn’t real, right?”

I know. I’m an ass.

It pains me to hear my MIL tear herself down this way. Not because I’m such a great daughter-in-law (I’m not. I’m utterly terrible.), but because it’s such a lie!! Despite what she thinks, my MIL is a very loving and kind person. For example:

1) She dutifully attends birthday parties, etc. even though she HATES dealing with people and strangers. She is very self-conscious and absolutely CANNOT STAND being at the parties – but she comes anyway. After a few years of this torture, I’ve finally relented and have ceased to force her to attend. We end up having a smaller, family party that includes her, and have a bigger party for ME. (Let’s face it, it’s not really for the kids.)

2) She goes out of her way to come visit us from LA every few months or so. I mentioned how she hates being in public, right? She also has a veritable menagerie at her house and it’s difficult for her to be away that long from all her pets. This is a BIG DEAL.

3) Every time she comes up, she brings a small little toy for my kids. I used to hate the toys she would bring. (Mostly because they were all made in China and you know, the toys would likely be radioactive or full of lead or something.) But I got over it when I realized every single toy she has brought is always the toy that all the kids who come over to our house fight over. ALWAYS. She is the toy whisperer.

4) Every time she comes, she plays with the kids, tells them stories, brings them stickers, and the kids adore her and adore playing with her. She walks with them to the park, shows an interest in their lives, and is generally present.

My MIL says that because she is not physically or vocally affectionate with the children and isn’t exactly like my mother, that she’s a bad grandmother. But that is so stupid because no one is asking her to be MY mother. We’re asking her to be present with my kids – and she IS. I try to explain to her that I don’t care about what she says or hugs, etc. It’s what she DOES that is most important. It’s her TIME with the kids that is conveying love to my children – and vicariously, to me.

You see, on the outside, my father seemed to be a very loving person. He was effusive in affection, always hugging, kissing, holding hands, calling me (and my mother) his sweetheart, his love, his precious. He bought presents – sometimes very lavish, and threw big romantic gestures.

All the while, he was unfaithful to my mother multiple times with various women. He abandoned our entire family for years at a time. He stole and lied and physically threatened our family. He robbed my uncle and my cousins of their inheritance (not to mention my brother and I).

He paraded his most recent mistress in China around to his family, telling them she was his new wife (he was still married to my mother), claimed God blessed him with another son (did I mention he was still married to my mother?), and tried to convert his family to “follow Jesus” and become Christian. (I find that the MOST foul.)

Despite his many proclamations of “love,” I had never felt more unlovable in all my life.

This is why I don’t care about flowers or gifts or romance. I mean, it’s nice. I’m not stupid. But to me, I find most of these gestures meaningless. I far prefer my boring, day to day love with Hapa Papa. I know we mock each other all the time and pretend we don’t want to spend time with one another. (Ok, that’s not so much pretend, but it’s not unpleasant to spend time with him.)

But ultimately, I know, deep in my cold, dark heart, that Hapa Papa is utterly devoted to me and the kids and the rest of his family (including my own). I know, because every day, he proclaims it in all the tedious minutiae of working, washing dishes, and taking care of the kids. Every day, he is present and HERE, sacrificing his time and energy for us.

Do you know that Hapa Papa has no free time for himself? He is always working or with the kids. His free time is his daily 2-3 hour round-trip commute. Even though he loves sports and would love to watch all the various games on TV, when he comes home, he focuses on the kids and plays with them, gives them a bath, reads them stories, and puts them to bed – even during playoffs. After which, he does more work.

His two indulgences? Sports stats and watching Suits (of which there are only thirteen 1 hour episodes a year).

Even when I give him free time to do whatever he wants, he usually naps or gets a haircut. (See, I’m not entirely cruel.) Every now and then, he hangs out with his friends. Sometimes, I practically have to force him to get out of the house.

I think he’s crazy. I practically beg to go out and play with my friends or spend hours reading books without any thought at all.

He never complains.

Now, I realize that just because someone doesn’t have a life doesn’t mean it’s love. Nor does having a life mean it’s not love. My main point is that love is not so much the sweet words and romantic gestures. Love is time served and hard work. You know, like prison. But a prison made of love.

And now, your earworm for the day. (How is that for a segue?) You know it was already in your head just from reading the title. You’re welcome.