New track from Irish singer James Vincent McMorrow that I’m digging:
Jul 11 2016
New track from Irish singer James Vincent McMorrow that I’m digging:
Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2016/rising-water/
Jul 06 2016
My Grandpa is in the hospital from the result of a fall in the middle of last week. From what my dad has told me, they expect everything to be ok and for him to recover fully. But he is also 92 and had to have surgery to relieve pressure on his brain yesterday. He’s my last grandparent left, and I was close to him growing up (spent summers at my grandparents house when we lived in Florence, and then I lived in the mother in-law suite at their house while I was in college). Please send any good thoughts/prayers his way.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2016/grandpa-mike/
Jul 05 2016
The narratives we create based on our perspectives are interesting. How two people can view the same thing in very different ways. My divorce is one of those things. When we did couples counseling last summer and fall, I took a hard look at things I had done our relationship and tried to work on improving those things. As I look back on how I did in making those improvements, I know I didn’t fully succeed. It was hard knowing what was working and what was not working, because our communication wasn’t as good as it could have been or needed to be (and this is on both of us). Stagnant communication was a large part of why we stopped couples counseling in the fall (as we weren’t really communicating about anything serious even in that environment).
The narrative that I’ve seen from A is largely based on the fight we had the night she left. She does mention some of the things that I’ve pointed out in earlier posts where I failed in our marriage, but there is a lot of weight put on that one evening. Even then our perspective of that evening is quite different from each other. Personally, the weight put on that evening seems a bit disingenuous to me, as at least by appearances and actions, she had already decided to leave the marriage. Again, this is only my perspective on the subject, because I don’t feel like I got the completely honest story from her in the weeks leading up to her leaving. That fight doesn’t happen if she’s more honest with me in those preceding weeks (even if it had just been “I don’t want to be married anymore,” a question I had asked a version of a few weeks before). The words said that night didn’t break something that was fixable, it was already broken beyond repair (and yes A, if you ever do read this…I said words that night that came from a place of hurt and anger, and there is no excuse for that. I do take responsibility for those words and I don’t actually think they are true.)
I am in complete agreement though that the marriage needed to end. That it was over when she left the house on April 26th. There was most definitely no going back at that point (even if I wasn’t ready to admit that at the time). Our relationship had become something that was unhealthy for both of us. I could easily list off a bunch of perceived wrongs, but that really isn’t the point. It’s not going to do me any good to focus on things that are in the past. While I’d like to see some acknowledgement of her role in our marriage ending as part of her narrative, I know that’s something I’m not likely to see. Unfortunately the foundation we built our marriage on wasn’t a stable one and when the earth shook, the marriage couldn’t hold up to the shaking.
I wish things could have ended more amicably. That we could have actually had a discussion about how we could have parted ways in a way where there wouldn’t be the animosity that seems to be there now. That we could have processed our divorce paperwork and division of assets without having to spend a bunch of money to have attorneys do that for us. But this is what the circumstances of that last evening seem to have left us with. One lawyer talking to another lawyer, each talking to us, all the while billing us an hourly rate.
Thankfully, there isn’t any real difficult issues in our divorce case. The lawyers will put together a proposal and we’ll sign it and it’ll get submitted to the court. Once that happens, it’ll be 2-3 weeks and a judge will sign the paperwork and we’ll be officially divorced. It could even happen before we get to what would have been our 3 year anniversary.
With that a new perspective on the past eight years of my life will formed. Who I am will have changed.
I have a plan for the next few years, much of which was already planned before divorce became the reality.
I’m applying for new jobs (with better salaries)…and figuring out things that really excite me vocationally and hopefully finding myself in a position that meets both of those things.
I’ve got a plan to aggressively pay off my consumer debt that I allowed myself to fall into again. I was debt free (with the exception of student loans), when I moved back to Portland in 2012. Making better financial decisions and aggressively attacking the debt was something I dedicated myself to at the beginning of this year. At the time, I had different reasons driving that than I do know (wanting to relieve some of the financial stress on our marriage, getting ready to be in a better place to have kids, etc). Actually I suppose those reasons are still pretty similar to post-divorce goals as well. I want to be less financially stressed, so when I do have an opportunity to have a family again I won’t have to worry as much about the finances of it.
I’m working on continuing to nurture and improve my relationships (both personal and professional). My friends have been such a great source of support the past few months and I’ve tried to make sure they know how much I appreciate and cherish those friendships. I’ve been able to grow closer to my family again. I’ve seen a nephew in his first hour of life. I’ve formed new friendships with some amazing people. I’ve very much lucked into a great set of housemates, neighbors, and landlords.
I already feel healthier than I have since last summer. My stomach has settled down and I’ve lost some weight. My sleep schedule has returned to normal as well in the past month (after a few months of not sleeping well).
The future is wide open and it looks good!
Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2016/perspective/
Jun 24 2016
Things are going well mostly. I still have some quite sad days…and some days where I’m mad at A. But there are fewer days like that now. Mostly those are idle days when I let my mind get away from me. The actual divorce is kind of in a waiting period now. My attorney is waiting for information from her attorney (and her), so the attorneys can begin discussing a final settlement of assets. Things could wrap up fairly quickly if an agreement can be reached and signed. (It should be fairly straight forward.) Then a few weeks after that when a judge signs the order…it’ll be over officially.
This whole process has left me with many questions. I have questions I know I’ll never get answers for (mainly because she’d have to answer them…and that doesn’t seem like something she’s ever going to be willing to do). Mostly though I’ve questioned myself. It has been a tough blow to my self-confidence to be so completely rejected by the person I loved and I thought still loved me. I’ve tried to focus on how I can improve myself though. I’ve tried to really make sure that my friends and family know how much I appreciate them and the time they’ve spent with me. I’m working on improving my career and financial situation (even though this is tough with the lower self-confidence). In general, each day is getting better. They all still have their moments, but I’m getting more comfortable in my new reality.
I do understand why divorced (and probably widowed) people are attracted to other divorced people. Even in just a platonic way, there is something comforting knowing that they have an understanding of the pain you’ve been (are going) through. Sure they have a different story and experience than you do…but they understand the struggle (whether that came from deciding to divorce…or being the divorcee).
Good things from the last two months: A new nephew! The new housemate is good, I haven’t seen much of her because of differing work hours and travel, but no issues so far there. I’ve also met and got to know better some amazing people over the last two months. I’ve been constantly amazed about the amazing community the Timbers Army is. Even though I already knew how amazing it was, it still is so wonderful how much they will rally for each other (despite the near constant Twitter drama of some sort or other). Have I mentioned the new nephew yet? My other nephew is pretty cute as well, traveling all over Europe (they currently live in Hungary) with my other sister and brother in-law. I love the barrage of Instagram photos when they get back from a trip (most recently Romania and the city in Hungary where the paprika is from).
Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2016/two-months-after/
Jun 20 2016
A planned trip to Eugene to visit family became all the better when I arrived to find that my pregnant sister and brother in-law had headed to the hospital about a half hour before I arrived. A few hours later, my parents and I joined them at the hospital to await the arrival of their baby! At around 11:20pm on 6/17, Robert James H. arrived at 6 lbs 10 oz and ~20″ long. First for my youngest sister (second time uncle for me).
I’m excited for my sister and brother in-law. I’m excited to be able to watch my nephew grow up. (My other nephew was born overseas and has been overseas other than for visits his whole life…though they come back to the states later this summer.)
New life. New beginnings. Growth. It is a wonderful thing.
This is definitely the best thing that has happened so far in 2016 from my perspective. Something good, pure, and honest.
New life. It brings hope. It brings unconditional love.
It is “love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love”
I love you Ashley, Blaine, and James. Congrats on the addition to your family!
Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2016/new-life/
Jun 13 2016
In the shadow of the horrible tragedy in Orlando Sunday morning, Lin-Manuel Miranda (creator of the hit musical Hamilton) delivered a passionate sonnet as part of his acceptance speech for Best Score. At its climax he pleads “And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love cannot be killed or swept aside.”
If there is any truth and hope to be found in the world, it is this. If anything will ever change the horror and sadness in the world it is this.
Hold on to love. Do not let it go.
Let hate go as it will only prevent you from loving.
There is nothing bigger than love.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2016/love-is-love-is-love-is-love-is-love/
Jun 08 2016
The rise of digital music and streaming music services like Spotify and Apple Music has been great in many ways. It is easier than ever to get music and discover music. It does have its downsides as well though. One of the of these downsides is the rarity of the “album artist” in today’s music business. It simply is a rare art form in the current business of single track downloads.
I’ve been a big Radiohead fan since I first saw the video for Creep on MTV all those years ago. I’ve listened as they’ve matured as a band and risen to be one of the biggest rock bands in the world. One thing I think they do better than pretty much any other contemporary rock band (especially of their prominence) is the careful thought and makeup of each individual album (with a couple of exceptions). There are great individual singles on each Radiohead album, but there is clearly a lot of thought put into the placement of songs on each album. This is what makes Radiohead’s best albums great.
A Moon Shaped Pool is no exception to this idea. This being Radiohead there is no single theme to the album and even those identifiable themes are inexplicably entwined. Whatever the theme you relate to in each of these songs, this is an album of someone who has been broken open. The tragedy of politics, environment, and personal life have cut open a sense of trauma, heartache, and drained acceptance of the invading doom.
The theme of heartache that flows through the album, largely inspired by Thom Yorke’s separation from his partner of 23 years (and mother of their two children). Unlike Björk’s Vulnicura, where the songs were largely written while the separation/divorce was building up, happening, and resolving; A Moon Shaped Pool includes songs that were written years earlier, however the specific placement of these songs on the album is what makes them even more interesting. In this context, these earlier slices of heartache show slivers of the troubles that will lead to the separation.
With current circumstances in my life, the heartache in the album resonates with me deeply. It begins on the second track, Daydreaming. The dreamer has past the point of no return and the damage has been done. He is lost wandering the world no longer connected to anyone (especially as depicted in the video for the song). As the song concludes you have a chant that sounds like nonsense, but is actually Thom referring to his relationship having been “Half My Life,” slowed down and played in reverse.
In the next track, Decks Dark, the themes of environment and heartache are entwined. Something is blocking out our vision…our happiness. We can no longer resist the darkness that has taken over. There is an element of surprise in his reaction to what is happening inside of him. He sings ““You gotta be kidding me, the grass grows over me,” signifying a death of sorts. Is it a death of the love for his former partner? A death of self? A death of the environment?
Desert Island Disk, we get a focus on light and the color white. These images are also sprinkled throughout the album (again first really showing up in Daydreaming). There is a sense of erasing and rebirth in these images that are reflected in both the music, and how the band went about preparing to release the album. Before the album release, they “erased” their entire online presence…website & social media accounts…and started over with the album release. By erasing we can be reborn.
Next we get one of the older songs, Ful Stop (it was performed on tour in 2012), that is making its album debut. This is one of those songs where you can see those earlier slices of heartache but its placement on the album is spot on. Things are messed up and now even the truth is hard to believe. Were the good times actually good times…or do we just want to believe they were? These questions that have no real answers can cause us to be trapped in the full stop (a period), the ending of a sentence (relationship).
Anxiety and alienation (another common theme in Radiohead’s music), are the primary themes in Glass Eyes. Now that the truth has been shattered, we are left as an anxious and alienated mess. We want someone to tell us we are great but instead we just feel small and alone. We are constantly on the verge of tears. So we retreat to nature, to escape the overwhelming pressure of the city. All we want to do is escape.
Perhaps my favorite of the “heartbreak” songs, Identikit, another first appearing during that 2012 tour:
Identikit: A picture of a person, reconstructed from strips showing facial features selected to match witnesses’ descriptions; used by the police to build a likeness of a person sought for a crime. A heart is broken, tears flow, and love becomes doubt. We are left to reconstruct that person, that love, that life. This song links back to Ful Stop (and was often played together on that tour in 2012). “Truth will mess you up” in Ful Stop, “I don’t wanna know” in Identikit. The truth could hurt and break you. This is the climax of the heartache theme on the album. There is nothing left.
While not specifically dealing with heartbreak, but the aftermath of the ending of a relationship, is Present Tense. This is another older song, having been played as early as 2009. The lyrics are abstract enough to cover both that time when you know the relationship is falling apart, but also that time after the relationship when you talk to the person again. The awkward interactions, the remnants of love and being lost in each other. How we question the relationship and if we did enough, if it was all in vain, if it was worth it at all. By the end you cannot escape the present tense, finding yourself outside of that full stop earlier in the album.
The album concludes with the oldest track on the album (and most eagerly awaited of unreleased studio tracks), True Love Waits. This song was first played in 1995 and has existed in various live versions over the years. This version is stripped back to just Thom’s vocals and two piano tracks. It is heartbreakingly beautiful. Both sad and hopeful at the same time. I honestly can’t decide whether it’s a hopeful end to the album (and the survival of the dreamer) or the final expression of having that dream broken for good. I do know that it makes me want to hug someone I love (friend, family, or lover) in that 20 seconds after the music fades out before the track itself ends.
I’ve talked a lot about the lyrical content of the album, but it would be amiss to not mention the effect of the musical arrangements led by the musical direction of Jonny Greenwood. The addition of the London Contemporary Orchestra adds layers to digest over many of these songs. Like many of the movie scores that Jonny has scored recently, the music is a voice/character of its own. It commands as much attention as the lyrics themselves.
I’ve skipped over three tracks, the opening track Burn the Witch, The Numbers (between Identikit and Present Tense), and Tinker Tailor Soldier Sailor Rich Man Poor Man Beggar Man Thief (between Present Tense and True Love Waits). These songs deal more with the themes of political and environmental anxiety and alienation. They are entwined with the brokenness of the world and life, but focus less on the specific personal heartbreak that sticks to me at the moment. Even then, I think they are very purposefully placed in the context of the entire album.
My friend Elizabeth had a great observation as we were discussing the album: “I actually think the whole production is sort of like a reversible shirt. It’s meant to go both ways. The infinity sign of time. He is always walking toward and away from this relationship.”
Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2016/a-moon-shaped-pool/
Jun 03 2016
The title of Björk’s album (released at the beginning of 2015) is a mashup of two latin nouns (Vulnus + Cura) and roughly translates to “Cure for Wounds.” This album has been a constant in my musical rotation since I realized in April that my marriage was in real danger of failing (which it of course eventually did). The album was written during the breakup of her marriage and is devastating and beautiful all at the same time. Each of the first six tracks are accompanied by a timeline in the liner notes. Tracks 1 – 3 being before the breakup and 4 – 6 being after the break up. The last three tracks offer a sense of hope and healing…but it is not the Hollywood kind of ending. There is still an intense vulnerability in the healing presented in these tracks. These include older tracks but still very much fit in with the overall arc of the album.
Here is the track that really sticks with me at the moment:
At times, I think I’m here alongside her (this is “11 months after” and track 6). Other times its clear that I’m not there as well. I guess that’s to be expected. In reality its only 1 month after. There are probably still many more of the feelings in Black Lake that I’m still feeling (“2 months after” and track 4):
Last night I was overcome with sadness. I was thinking about the good times A and I had. The first times we hung out where I introduced her to Cafe Corsa and Skylight Books in LA (which she insisted were dates and I insisted were just friends meeting). I was thinking about all the fun road trips we have taken. Trips to Big Sur, the redwoods on the Northern California coast, camping at Wallowa Lake in NE Oregon, trips to Vancouver BC. It is these memories that I want to hold close to my heart and cherish. For all the things that ended up going wrong in our relationship, there was plenty of happy times. These are the memories I will keep with my heart.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2016/vulnicura/
Jun 02 2016
“It is odd to me that more songs aren’t specifically written about divorce, considering how painfully common the event has become. In this particular case, the idea for the song came along as a yodel, which I have no explanation for, except that I am a sucker for a sad song presented in a relatively bright or conversational way,” – Seth Avett in an interview with the Huffington Post.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2016/divorce-separation-blues/
Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2016/data-visualization-nerdery/