It’s been a while…

Life’s kinda weird…

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By Joshua Blake

So, I don’t post here much these days, but I’m still proud that I’ve kept this blog running.

When I first decided to make it, it was for a journalism class I took at my community college back in 2014. Though, I think I always intended this blog to be a place where – if anyone happened to find it – it would help others if they were experiencing some of the doubts and fears I was.

Many of those doubts and fears I’ve expressed over the years on this site, still plague me today – while others have dissipated.

Anxiety and depression still find new ways of tackling even my most happiest or eventful of days, and I’m forced to think of a new way out of the mazes they create in my tormented mind.

So many things have happened over the last year…I’m not really sure where to begin.

My family and I moved to a new house after 13-and-a-half-years, I’ve been engaged since December of last year – I visited my fiancés home country of Norway this summer – and my last year of college starts in four days.

Yikes!

I believe that last point is one of true revelation for me in many aspects: I’m getting older and I’m a step closer towards a supposed career in journalism. I have no idea what this life will bring me – so, I try to remain optimistic.

I try to see the forest for the tress in regards to journalism, but I can’t just yet.

I try to remind myself that I’ll find a way in life – generally speaking. But that’s been difficult for me to grasp since I was a young boy. Maybe it’s related to my worries about having cerebral palsy, maybe it’s just anxiety about things possibly going wrong with no way to fix them – cause anxiety is stupid – or maybe it’s both of those things.

I don’t know, and I doubt you do, either.

But life is kinda weird like that. From a very basic point-of-view, life is to be figured out each day in order to live at all. And even though that sounds nihilistic, I do know that there’s more to life than that – just figuring out stuff in order to keeping living. That’s not very fun.

No. Life is so much more than a nihilist’s wet dream – or nightmare, depending on how you wish to look at it.

Life is also about the people who occupy our spaces, which is probably the most important part about human life: connections.

I guess why I’m rambling about all of this, is because I’ve found it difficult to connect with myself at so many points during my life. This has been the case lately, too.

There may be no greater internal conflict than not understanding what you’re going through and how to “fix it,” when you can’t pinpoint what needs to be fixed in the first place.

I think this is where anxiety is at its best. By forcing you to overanalyze and worry about the most minute of issues, you can’t even think of logical steps to solve your problems.

And for me, this is the case, because I have so many things that I worry about. Which one do I address first? Do I address some and not others? Am I stupid for worrying about this? Gee, I wonder if there’s a way that I could not worry about this!

Geez, I’m exhausted from just typing that out. And that’s me on a good day.

On a bad day, depression stops by and knocks on my door, only to come in and moan about how awful its life is. And then anxiety starts to worry if those awful things will happen to them, too.

If there is another friend in my brain that stops by every now and then, it’d be resolve – always stopping by at the right time, to remind me that I’ll be okay, that I’ll figure it out.

Because we all do. Or, at the very least, because we have to.

I can write a song, but not a story

By Joshua Blake

Hi. I can’t recall when I last wrote an entry on this blog, and I’m not intrigued to find out, either.

I start my second-to-last semester of college tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. Yeah, that’s not a typo or anything. My Monday morning’s for college this semester start at 1:00 p.m.

That’ll be the only time in my life where I’ll start my week off in the afternoon – though knowing me, who the hell knows.

I’ve been attempting – and when I say ‘attempting,’ I really mean thinking about how – to go on writing this story I thought of last November.

I can write a song, intricately describing what ails me, but not a story.

It’s a damned nightmare. I have a basic idea down, along with a plot and characters. I think it’s a pretty neat take on the tried tropes of sci-fi dramas – if that even is a category – but I’m stuck.

Why am I stuck? I haven’t got a clue. Apprehension? Depression? Subjugation from my own thoughts? Sounds rather bleak, doesn’t it?

And that’s the thing about the characters in this world I’ve imagined: they’re a reflection of my apprehension, of my depression, of my will to keep fighting on, too.

I don’t understand how to isolate my emotions to focus on driving the narrative. Maybe that’s what makes it so hard for me to know how to continue on with my story.

Or perhaps I dont understand how to channel my emotions into my characters, and that’s why my narrative is progressing at a snail’s pace.

Then there’s the part of me that says “this [my story] is meaningless in the grand scheme of things, like life. But then there’s the other side of my thoughts that say “Yeah, but maybe not.”

Do you see my problem, dear reader? Yes? No?

I believe it’s natural to wonder if what we do in life really equates to anything of substance, of impact – not just in our lives – but others.

Everyone wants to have a role to play in this game called Life. But you can’t always play the role you want – and not only with the way we push 17 and 18-year-olds to get a post-secondary education – but how we push college students into this mindset that their degree is “worth it,” borrowing tens-of-thousands in student loans, only to end up paying them back years after graduation, and maybe not holding a job in the field of their degree anyway.

That’s worth all of the stress of graduating college – especially in America? Every adult I know who’s graduated college and has a job has told me a variant of the phrase “not what I started doing.”

My therapist studied to become an English teacher before finding psychology. Hell, my previous college advisor switched majors four times before sticking with journalism…my current major of the last six-and-a-half years.

Is it wrong to tell teenagers “think of a subject you wanna major in at whatever college, cause that’s gonna be your job one day?”

Of course, for some students this becomes their reality, but just because the S.T.E.M. field pays well, doesn’t mean every major in that field is going to have a S.T.E.M. focused career. It’s not sustainable economically.

People used to bash Liberal Arts majors, but at least those students have some versatility in their skill sets, unlike hyper-focused majors.

Johnny Awesome could know all about bio-engineering, or Quantum Theory, but not a damn thing about landscaping, construction, or writing.

And that’s okay. Not everyone needs to know how to do everything.

But we can’t limit ourselves to one-dimensional task-performers, either. That’s just boring. And more importantly, kind of sad.

I wanna be a good writer one day. I want my writing to impact people – whether that be in a good or bad way.

But I don’t wanna just be “a writer,” or “a journalist.” Those terms are subjective anyway. What kind of journalist and writer do I want to be?

I don’t think I’m supposed to know the answer until I get there. But, I do have a couple of aspirations, that maybe with a pinch of luck – and the good fortune of knowing some people – could get me there.

If I could be a columnist, I’d be content. If I finish my book and get it published, I’d be content. If I could play music out on the side once my career’s goin’, I’d be content.

As long as I have friends and family around me, and live with the love of my life for all of my life, I’ll be happy.

And I think this is the problem with people who feel stuck in this world: they think being content will make them happy.

Myself included.

I was talking to my dad yesterday about physical therapy and we both agreed: I should at least do something for my physical health. Having Cerebral Palsy is a huge detriment to every physical and mental aspect of human life.

But I told him that it’s hard for me to encourage myself to better myself physically.

“Cause it’s work,” he told me.

And while I agreed, there’s more to it than that.

“Yes, but does it matter?” I wondered.

I know my depression plays a role in these “does- this-really-matter” scenarios, but I also think it goes back to this idea of being content equals happiness.

Yeah, if I exercised, I’d feel better – even a little bit mentally. I’d be content, but not happier.

And that’s my point. Happiness doesn’t have a price. Not a tangible price, anyway. Robin Williams was an amazingly talented, funny, charismatic actor. But he was depressed and took his own life, because his happiness couldn’t be bought. Chester Bennington was a talented singer, he took his own life, because his happiness couldn’t be bought with his talent or all of the money he made.

Happiness is a desire based out of necessity.

So much of our focus on life is on physical attributes and assets, that we often forget about the mental side of it. It’s just as – if not even more – important.

If you’re just content with life, how can you ever enjoy it? A long time ago, I wrote about how emotions like happiness are finite – they can’t last indefinitely. So, it’d make more sense to strive towards being content – cause that’s more realistic.

How wrong I was.

Hello, Is This Thing On?

By Joshua Blake

Hi, friends! What’s new?

I’ve been trying to think of something to write – anything that’ll fill my time lately. But I can’t think of the words.

Any writers out there that know what I mean?

No? Damn. So, what’s been happening in my world of music? The bar my grandmother and I started to perform open mics at every other week shut down the musical-ness that was ensuing there.

Bummer. I think it’s been a month. The dudes that set up this little music jam were some cool, talented musicians, too.

This past Monday, my parents went into the City – that’s New York City for any of you non-New Yorkers – and my grandmother came by to help me watch my dog, Charlie.

“You wanna bring your geetar,” I asked her in a text.

We hadn’t played music together since maybe late April or early May. I can’t remember for sure.

Once she arrived, she had her music stand, guitar, and music folder in hand.

“When I saw your text I wasn’t sure if I wanted to bring it over,” she said. “But then I said ‘Yeah! Why not?”

I didn’t care what we played. I just needed to play something so I wouldn’t go crazy.

Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, and countless other artists filled the next two hours up for us.

Oh, yeah. We played Johnny Cash’s rendition of “Hurt,” too.

It was a fun time. It was a simple time. And sometimes that’s all anyone really needs.

A way to relax.

What’s in a song?

What’s your take on Meg Myers new single? Watch and listen below

Meg Myers NUMB

By Joshua Blake

Meg Myers dropped a new single titled “Numb,” and it shows the singer at her most vulnerable, while remaining honest in her thoughts. This creates a visual masterpiece in the music video, as you witness Myers struggle with pressure from the outside and from within.

“You think you want the best for me?” Myers asks, angry and teary-eyed. Nothing really matters, cause “if you force it, it won’t come.”

The song can be interpreted to be about depression, anxiety or any other mental illness. Or maybe it’s about being an artist, too. Still, it leaves you captivated and uncomfortable – Myers is poked, pulled and touched by numerous strangers as she tells them “I guess I’m feeling numb.”

The video appears to imply that despite her attempts, people aren’t listening, and she can’t deal with the pressure she’s been dealt. “I don’t wanna grow up/ la, la, la, la, la, la, la,”

The simplicity is what makes this song so complex. Myers is telling the viewer how she’s feeling, how she wants to fight it, and that’s what makes it so complex. Is she angry? Sad? Disappointed? Anyone who’s questioned their decisions will find refuge in her lyrics – especially if you can’t pinpoint how you’re feeling.

Maybe, like Meg Myers, we all feel numb sometimes. Or maybe it’s all the time and we try so hard to pretend we’re not.

So…

Let’s discuss some of my favorite lyrics from my favorite singer.

By Joshua Blake

So, it’s been a while, hasn’t it?

I haven’t posted anything since Dec. 17. But, I’ve been on a huge music kick recently – aside from the demands of being a journalism major – and I wanted to highlight some lyrics from the guy above.

“I’ve made excuses for a million lies/ But all I got was humble kidney pie, so what? So what?”

This little gem named “Tumble In The Rough,” comes off of Stone Temple Pilots’ third studio album Tiny Music… Songs From The Vatican Gift Shop.

“I’m lookin’ for a new stimulation/ Quite bored of those inflatable ties/ I’m lookin’ for a new rock sensation/ Dead fish don’t swim around in jealous tides.”

It’s hard to know exactly what Scott was trying to convey with these lyrics, except the inflection in his vocals were a dead giveaway that he’s talking about his personal strife in ways I’ve never heard anyone do since.

“She turned away what was she lookin’ at?/ She was a sour girl the day that she met me/ Hey, what are you lookin’ at?/ She was a happy girl the day that she left me.”

“What would you do?/ What would you do if I followed you?”

“Sour Girl,”  off of STP’s fourth album No.4, is a great take on love and loss, and it’s phrasing is so personal, so far from cliché, you can’t help but be compelled to listen to this fairytale of supposed truth.

Scott Weiland is a name I hadn’t known until 2007 when he was the frontman of arguably the last rock band of the 2000’s, Velvet Revolver.

Then ex- Stone Temple Pilots singer Scott Weiland along with Slash, Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum of the 90’s incarnation of Guns N’ Roses formed a band born out of rebellion. Scott Weiland was kicked out of STP for his persistent issues with drug use and addiction in 2001. Slash and the other guys from Guns were seeking out a frontman for about a year until Scott joined in ’03.

Weiland proved he didn’t need his Stone Temple counterparts, while the former Gunners showed they could write great music without the vicseral Axl Rose as their bands voice.

“Hope I teach my son how to be a man/ Not before he hits 35/ Comic book lives don’t really happen in real life, do they now?”

“Big Machine” is a powerhouse of a rock song from Velvet Revolver.

“We’re all slaves to a big machine,” Weiland says. “I got houses, got cars, I got a wife, I got kids,  got money in the bank.” Sounds like the rock n’ roll life ain’t all it’s cracked up to be, huh?

“When you look, you see right through me,” Weiland opens on the 2003 hit single “Slither.” “Cut the rope I fell to my knees/ Born and broken every single time/ Always keep me under finger/ That’s the spot where you run to me/ Might see some type of pleasure in my mind.”

I’ve listened to this track for years, and it’s my personal favorite from Weiland or any other band. But since his death in December of 2015 after an accidental drug overdose, I think I’ve finally understood what this song is about: trying to fight your demons away.

Or maybe it’s just about fighting the one demon away – that side of you that says you’ll never be when you desperately search for a way to get free.

Scott couldn’t beat his demon, but his voice has helped me conquer mine for the last decade. That’s what makes his death so harrowing for me to deal with even after all this time.

However, there’s other artists that I wanna talk about – some amazing lyricists, both old and new, that have really amazed me.

So, until next time…enjoy some music.

Irony

By Joshua Blake

It’s funny how people talk about new year’s resolutions. We post pictures online, type status updates, or vlog about how we’re gonna make this coming year a better one. 

Is that because we know we’re capable of better, or is it because we want to appear capable?

A Band I Grew Up On

By Joshua Blake

There’s something about a band discovered during childhood that trumps all others before or after.

 I’m left pondering if I’ll ever get to see the one I grew up on live. They’re known as blink-182. 

Despite an album released in 2016, and an ensuing tour, founding member and guitarist, Tom Delonge, left before production to search for UFO’s. 

Delonge’s left before in the past on an ’04 tour before an unimaginable reunion in 2009. I still have trouble understanding that I missed seeing them in concert all these years. My dream of a reunion came true, yet I never saw them.

I’m left wondering why. I’m left asking “how?”

I’ll never forget being six-years-old, watching MTV, and seeing the music video for “All The Small Things.”

https://youtu.be/9Ht5RZpzPqw

The parody of the biggest music videos of the time were just the start of what makes this video a visual masterpiece. 

The “na, na, na, na, na” during this hypnotic chorus is possibly the catchiest tune of all time. Eighteen years later, I still sing along to every word. 

But it didn’t end there. Enema of the State was full of hits. “Adam’s Song,” “What’s My Age Again?” “Aliens Exist,” “Going Away To College,” and “Wendy Clear,” were a showcase of what were to follow in concurrent albums. 

 Then this happened:

https://youtu.be/vVy9Lgpg1m8
“First Date” drops and remains at the number six spot on Billboard for 25 weeks

“Stay Together For The Kids” piles up at the number seven slot not long after. But it didn’t end there.
The trio drops a bombshell of an album. A self titled piece of work that was at the pinochle of their success. 

“Feeling This” peaks at number two on Billboard, and remains on the charts for 26 weeks. 

Up until this point, blink-182 had one number one hit in “All The Small Things” back in ’99. This was their second and only in 2004 

https://youtu.be/s1tAYmMjLdY
“I Miss You” was an instant classic, a timeless tune. 

And like the chorus asks “Don’t waste your time on me/You’re already the voice inside my head,” a six-year-old boy wonders when he’ll see his music heros.