Posts Tagged ‘pressure’

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2526: track by track

November 26, 2012

As stated in my previous post, my latest album 2526 is a loose diary of the last 2 years of my life, and focuses on love, and a range of facets of that emotion. I’m now going to take you through each track and tell you a little bit more about them all.

1. My Way / Sincerity

As one might surmise, these were originally two separate songs. “My Way” was a response to the burdens of parental love and pressure from those around you who know you best and suffocate you in their desire for you to achieve the best – at the same time as you love them for wanting the best for you, you can’t help but know that ultimately you’ll end up disappointing them. Try as I might, I could write a bridge for this song, and it was unfinished for ages. “Sincerity” came from wanting to write a song called “Sincerity”, and wanting to use the classic, hard-hitting beat from the remix to “It’s All About The Benjamins”; there seemed to be a real contrast between hard and soft.  But I couldn’t write a bridge for this song either, and it went unfinished for ages as well. One day, it dawned on me to just put the two together – the subject matter of the songs went well together, and while the overall tone of the songs is one of defiance and determination, there is also love and vulnerability. And most importantly, no bitterness.

2. Distance

This is one of my two favourite songs on the album. I was heavily into the song “I Miss You” by Beyoncé (from her masterpiece 4), and the night that I received the instrumental from Citizens of the World, I had been looking forward to Toby coming down to Bristol for the weekend (this was before I had moved to London) – we hadn’t seen each other for a while and I really missed him. Except that same night, he had called me to say that he probably wouldn’t be able to make it (in the end, he did). I was feeling melancholy and yet selfish as well, and the lyrics and melody to this song subsequently came in about 15 minutes. The lyrics so vividly capture the emotions I was feeling, and the vocal delivery is something that is supposed to be downbeat and yet sincere and heartfelt. The production is perfect. I am so grateful to have recorded this song.

3. Delete U

This song was written not long after Quiet Storm was done, and the piano intro is supposed to be reminiscent of Prince / The-Dream. I remember breaking up with one of my previous dalliances and just removing all trace of him from my life. It was intriguing that rather than tangible memories, we store a lot of initial information about friends and relationships digitally and so it’s all about “pressing delete” rather than throwing things in the trash. The use of terms such as “Facebook” and “Twitter” automatically date this song (probably to its detriment, although I personally don’t think it rings as unnaturally as the lyrics about getting off the Macbook and Facebook from Brandy and Monica’s otherwise-very-good “It All Belongs To Me”), but when I’ve dated my entire album through its title, it doesn’t really matter!

4. Important

I am well aware that this song sounds really similar to “Broken-Hearted Girl” by Beyoncé, but it’s not a bad song to use as a template and I really wanted the piano and drums to be straightforward – the vocals and lyrics are supposed to occupy centre stage in this song. I wanted to talk in an honest way about how it feels when you don’t know what is going on in a relationship, and whether your priorities and feelings really mesh with those of your partner’s. Are you on the same page? I left the song open-ended – we don’t know if the couple in the song stay together or break up, because although I personally tend towards the latter, the whole point is that life and love is not clear cut and the things we think we should do, we don’t always do.  Love is complicated.

5. Unforgettable

This song is a remix of / my spin on Drake’s “Unforgettable” from his first album Thank Me Later, and I loved the melancholy production. The chorus of my track I guess is a bit more reminiscent of the Nat King Cole classic; I wanted to have a rap song on my album, like “Armani Earrings” on Quiet Storm, but less incendiary and more vulnerable. The sample of Aaliyah just made Drake’s song so perfect. Mike has played such a big part in the last 3 years of my life that I didn’t know how to feel about it when he moved out of Bristol. Even though we worked together, it felt like we were drifting apart and I was sad about it. I wrote this song to encapsulate all of my emotions about the relationship with one of my best friends developing and evolving. Ultimately, I ended up moving a lot further away! I have grown up so much over the last 3 years, and I wanted to pay tribute to someone who had a considerable role to play in the man I am today. Friendship is love too, after all.

6. Phoenix Rising

This song evokes love as empowerment. This was the first track from Citizens of the World that I wrote to, and I had Nicole Scherzinger’s Killer Love album on repeat at the time, hence the namecheck in the first line. The production was ethereal, and I wanted a melody that really soared on the wings of the track. It was a challenging vocal to sing – particularly the end note! – but recording this track was really enjoyable because I got to do different and interesting things with my voice.

7. U Gotta Go

This song was much more fun and more upbeat – when I received the instrumental, it sounded so happy and pop! I immediately thought of “I Wanna Go” by Britney Spears – but I didn’t want to do something completely featherweight, so I flipped the song to make it a breakup anthem with some sassy lyrics about dumping a car in a lake that I cribbed from Tamia’s “Go” (aside: she is such a ridiculously talented singer!). I also wanted to make a poppy track that had some good vocal riffs in it – so I did that.

8. Sabo

This is my other favourite song on the album, because it is very personal and meaningful. Obviously, it’s addressed to Toby and it’s about him and us. I am so deeply, romantically and truly in love with him. He bought me a ring from Thomas Sabo for our 6-month anniversary, and I still wear it every day – I love it (black and silver are my favourite fashion colours, after all!) and I am so proud of it. I wanted to write a piano ballad the old fashioned way – chords and lyrics on top, no digital production – so that’s me playing the piano (the microphone isn’t great for recording the piano, so that’s why it sounds a bit honky-tonk). I was also in love with Beyonce’s “1+1” so I wanted to have some powerful vocals in the bridge, that really pulled out the soul that I wanted to express. The song turned out exactly how I wanted it to (honky-tonk aside), and I always knew it would be the end song / finale to my album.

Once again, I hope you enjoy the album!

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successful.

October 28, 2010

Today I took my driving test for the first time in over 6 years, and I didn’t pass. I am a bit gutted, but at the same time I knew that in my heart of hearts, I was capable of passing, but I was unlikely to do it this time. I did better than I thought I would and it’s a nagging annoyance that I only made one big mistake – my approach speed to junctions, which was too fast because of my nerves – and the rest was good. Knowing that I’m capable of passing my driving test and I can drive pretty well makes it infuriating that my nerves get the better of me in an examined situation, but I am nearly there and next time I will do it – this test was the nearest I’ve come to passing. As long as I don’t rush myself, I’ll be fine! I’m a bit nervous about how I’m going to be travelling to work for the next 6 weeks, but I have a work colleague who lives around the corner from me and has already kindly offered her services. I just don’t like to impose.

 

I am disappointed that I couldn’t tie in a driving success to the other high points of this year (although if I get a cancellation, it might still be possible!), but I guess that’s the way the cookie crumbles. I do put a lot of pressure on myself to achieve, and I fervently wish that I had not stopped taking tests when I was 18. Hindsight is a wonderful thing! But I just have to keep my head to the sky and live up to my stubborn / determined nature. I won’t give up! The positive is that I now have more time to save up for a car, and I made myself feel better by paying off some money from my credit card and from my student bank account. Doing sensible things with my money seemed like the best way to make light of an unfortunate situation. I thought I would indulge in some retail therapy, but I arrived in the centre of town and the urge had left me; which is a good thing for my bank account! I am seeing Toby for his birthday tomorrow (wish him a happy birthday here!) and I knew that whatever the outcome of today’s test, I would have that to look forward to. We are going to Thorpe Park this weekend for Fright Night, and I’m looking forward to seeing the Saw maze and going on the rides; I haven’t been to a theme park since I visited Alton Towers when I was 18. So I’m determined to put this little failure behind me (which I will redress – I have come too far now to give up again! If I’m not meant to drive – and this has occurred to me in low moments, including today – then a big sign is literally going to have to come down from the sky and smack me upside the head) and enjoy the rest of my week off before I return to work on Monday.

 

I guess this is what people mean when they say that you sometimes have to fight hard for what you believe in. I have fought hard and worked hard, but hard work comes easy to me in a way; I was raised with an intense work ethic. I have been blessed with a good brain for achieving academically, and I put in the work to back it up; it was never really difficult for me, but I took no prisoners just so that I could be lucky enough to have an educational career that puts most to shame. I learned to sing from Mariah Carey albums (and a variety of others, but she will always be the ultimate for me) and I never questioned that I would be able to have a voice like that; lo and behold, my whistle register is not as good as hers (owing to my Y chromosome) but other than that I’m pretty much there. I have always loved singing, playing the piano and guitar, and writing and producing my own songs – I have an innate musicality, I suppose, and although mastering software and songwriting structures alike has required perseverance, I’ve never found it particularly difficult to make progress. Once I found the right man (and he is truly amazing!), the troubles I had in my previous dating life more or less melted away and now I find it easy to be in love. The aspects of relationships that I found challenging, I have worked to resolve and they are mainly down to my own insecurities and upbringing. I have many good friends (communicating and social skills have been a strong point of my personality, hence my current vocation working with young people in a college), and I learned some hard lessons during my school life which has enabled me to judge someone’s character and thus gather a tight circle of very good people to whom I am indebted for my sanity, among other things! (I appreciate y’all and I enjoy y’all – never forget it! 😉 ) I am often complimented on my sense of fashion and style, and that has always come effortlessly to me (because, in part, I am a potent combination of vain and fussy); I observe the latest trends and fashions, and then cast aside 90% of it, retain the things I like and add them to a style I hope is elegant, classic, timeless and most importantly, me.

 

The two things in my life that I have found most difficult are: losing weight in order to attain a body that I am happy with; and learning to drive. I am more or less happy with the way that I look now, although it’s always a work in progress, and I could do more exercise than I currently do! I will work on it. But I have taken 20 years to get to a point where I am not repulsed by what I see in the mirror, and that is a very positive thing. Passing my driving test will hopefully not take me 20 years! But I have to take pride in the fact that I have a good work ethic and am willing to put in the work to achieve my goals. Success is an uphill struggle but I need to learn to appreciate the things that have come easily to me, because there are a hell of a lot of them and I should be thankful for them. I’m a lucky person, and I’m not a complacent person. I just have to keep going a little bit longer, and never give up.

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v is for vanity.

October 2, 2010

Mike told me the other night that “I am the vainest person he knows”. I don’t know if this is true; I wouldn’t be surprised. But at the same time, I defend my vanity (by which I mean my obsession with making sure I look good) with the fact that I do it first and foremost for myself. Not many people understand this – I dress nice and moisturise my face and fix my hair even if I’m not going to see anyone that day. I don’t feel good if I don’t look my best, because I know I can and therefore should look better. After all, one of my sayings is : “If you feel good then you should look great; if you don’t feel good, you might as well look great.”

My grandmother and I were having a conversation last night and I always knew that she hates embellishing anything about her looks. She has never worn makeup and never understood why my mother takes such time with her hair and face each morning (my mother and I are definitely on the same wavelength when it comes to holding ourselves to high standards with our looks – we both do it for ourselves). She has only ever used a rinse in her hair once or twice, and didn’t even like that: she complains whenever I dye my hair (or announce that I am going to dye it), as she says “there is nothing wrong with how it is, it is nice” and says “it looks unnatural / stark / too serious”. She hated it when I had it blonde one summer, and she refers to changing one’s hair colour as “painting it”. She didn’t like when I shaved my head, as I “didn’t look like me”. She responds to my declarations of wanting to be slim with “you are fine as you are”. At this point, I am fairly slim and so I agree that I am fine this way. However, no matter what my size, even when I was a fair bit bigger in years past, she always said “you are fine as you are”. Now, I don’t think that it’s a good recommendation for children to diet anyways, and I probably put myself under too much pressure as a child with that – but I know that the reason why she says that I am fine the way that I am is because my nan fundamentally believes that you should accept what nature gave you and not decorate or embellish it in any way.

To this end, she even wears shades which are mainly muted: browns, greys, navy, black, sage green. Even with colours that could be interesting, my grandmother chooses the most boring variant of it; sage green, olive green, dark grey, mid brown.  Now, I myself have been mocked for mainly wearing black, white, brown and grey – but I also wear navy, maroon, dark green and sheer clothes. I mix up my fabrics, I have lots of coordinated accessories, I wear different coloured jeans. To quote (admittedly, my boyfriend) Toby, my style is “slinky and elegant”. And I am very happy with that description, as that’s what I am for – model-perfect and classic. I still believe that I am not there yet (and until I have the money to afford a Gucci wardrobe, I won’t get there either!) but I do my very best and I do look different from the crowd, which is good. If this is being vain, if caring about your looks and moisturising and wearing lip balm and smelling nice and wearing clothes that actually fit me properly and compliment my body is vanity, I will proudly wear my vanity as a badge.

However, I am considering changing my style… I don’t know to what? I definitely don’t want to be less sophisticated or classic, but I feel like I could be more edgy. I do have some edgy garments, but I occasionally feel (possibly because of my new job, where I couldn’t wear anything too fashion-forward that would concern the Cirencester natives – as it is, I get compliments on my outfits there) that I play it safe. I saw some gorgeous studded boots in River Island that I wanted. As I couldn’t do them up, I didn’t get them – but I loved their style. They were edgy, slightly goth-y, a bit fearsome. Toby didn’t like them, but I did because they would have set me apart. And then I considered: I could not wear them to work. And although that remains a fact, and I would have therefore wasted my money on boots that looked wonky when I laced them up and which I would only be able to wear once or twice a week, I felt like all of a sudden my fashion choices had to be compromised. Is this growing up? I suppose so, but it is a little bit sad. I therefore aim to keep an eye for being forward, and to keep nourishing my inner fashionista against the conformity drive of mainstream society.

To this end, I love love love my tattoos because they not only have meaning for me and make me a little more edgy, embodying my darker side; they also accessorise me in a unique way! I will therefore close this entry by showing y’all my new tattoo that I got TODAY: it’s not finished yet, as there needs to be some more shading on the sankofa part of the key, as well as around the piano keys; but it looks pretty damn sweet so far!  Enjoy 🙂 and thankyou for waiting for this entry, y’all are so patient with me and I love you all 🙂

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destiny fulfilled.

January 6, 2010

Remember this? Post – tattoo your name across my heart. (27th Nov 09)

Well, now look at this:

I did it y’all!  Got my tattoo, and I’m so so pleased with how it’s turned out.  I’m going to have to be careful concealing it from my parents (they will be unimpressed / freak, and god forbid my nan ever finds out) and I think I will have to give up the sunbed for a while (and once I do, I will be covering it up!) but I’m really happy.  This morning Bristol (among other places in the UK) was landed with a fair covering of snow, and I was furious because I’d been anticipating this tattoo since November!  So I was angrily refreshing the bus services page (roll on passing my driving test) and as soon as I saw some services were running, I went straight across town to the tattoo parlour, informed them I was early (they were going to shut early anyway) and that I’d be hanging around the area so I could pop in any time during the day.  About an hour later (2 hours earlier than originally anticipated) I was inked up!  It was murder getting home in the snow, but so worth it – I’ve had nothing but positive comments (thankyou 🙂 ) and enquiries about the pain (it was painless! just a pressurised buzzing against my skin).  I’m so happy… will think carefully before I commit to getting a little gun on the other collarbone (symmetrical), but this will do me for now.  I was understandably a tiny bit nervous sitting in the office while the tattooist was setting up, but I’d come too damn far to turn back and I felt that I wanted to embody the edginess I’ve been more in touch with lately.

Many thanks to Ben Boston and the Tattoo Studio on Gloucester Road – they are friendly, professional and really put me at ease and explained the whole process. I was recommended them by friends, and I can now recommend them myself.

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quiet storm track walkthrough (part i).

October 27, 2009

Hi there everyone! Thanks for the love you’ve shown my new album Quiet Storm.  I really appreciate it, from the bottom of my heart. ♥ If you have yet to download it, then you can get it here… –

(clicky) Quiet Storm (album download) (clicky)

This is gonna be the first instalment of a track-by-track rundown, so you can learn a little bit about each of the songs!  I’ll cover the first ‘arc’ of the album today, which are tracks 1-6! 🙂

1. Open

This is the album intro!  I wanted the title to have two meanings, one which was obviously the album intro being the ‘opening’ of the story / journey, but also for it to encourage listeners to enter the album with an open mind, open attitude and open heart.  The idea of “open your body / open your mind” was to combine the physical and mental, as some of the album songs are very much about physical sentiments such as sex, money and fashion; others are more to do with thoughts, emotions and relationships and our feelings and beliefs surrounding those situations.  It was also meant to have a somewhat mysterious feel, which is why my voice stutters and distorts at various parts. “I’m coming in” is your sign to get ready!…

2. All Night Long

…as I ask at the beginning of this song, “Are you ready?” The journey is beginning!  I wanted the album’s opening track (i.e. this is the first song proper) to be a slow, sexy song for two reasons: I thought it would be striking to open the album with a slower song, as all too often the temptation is to go in boom! bang! bang! with your uptempo.  I wanted the album to rise and fall in a more genuine way, and not to be front-loaded with club numbers.  I think that interspersing the album with uptempos, midtempos and slower songs throughout makes it more genuine and ultimately more engaging and cohesive.  This song was inspired by two songs: “Discipline” by Janet Jackson – but I hadn’t actually heard the song at this point! I’d read that there was an S&M theme, that it was a dark, slow song and I was inspired by those thoughts to make a song that I thought sounded like the essence of ‘discipline’ (hence its namecheck in the lyrics – “I exhibit discipline”); and “Mary Jane” by Mary J. Blige, from her seminal My Life album.  The hook of the song is a resung version of that song’s hook (which I’m aware is not the original use of that hook anyway, but it’s the version I’m most familiar with), but I slowed down the tempo and tried to do something a little bit different with it.  I also was tempted by the idea of putting this song first as it’s the most explicit, sexual song on the album – it’s the perfect start to the night-time, as Quiet Storm was largely inspired by the nocturnal, both in its soundscape and artwork.  And by getting the sex out of the way, we can focus on deeper things!  This actually being one of the very first songs I completed for the album, I don’t 100% remember how the beat breakdown came about now, but I love it and I felt that it was a really striking way to end the song… The breakdown is picked up by one of the songs at the album’s close, which also makes the album come full circle.

3. If I

Another one of the first songs I wrote for the album, this is probably the most dance-based song on the record, and it has a very nocturnal, dark feel again, as emphasised by the harmonies at the beginning which are nearly-but-not-quite off-key! It gives the song a mysterious introduction, which combined with the dance beat, makes it sound almost menacing.  The subject matter explores the fact that we all go to such lengths to please other people, and what would happen if we were just who we naturally are, rather than striving to meet others’ expectations?  At the end of the day, I’m just a young guy who wants to have fun and be happy and enjoy life!  Isn’t that what everyone wants?  Why should I put myself out for you?  What would happen if I did to you the things you do to me?  How would you feel about that?  That’s the main thematic of the song, and it’s one of the songs main uptempos.  The repetitive hook is actually quite en vogue now, but at the time of writing it, I really thought I was onto something and I felt that it was a little bit fun and kooky (as well as quite hot)!  But I generally liked the combination of the pulsing beats and the quite revealing lyrics: we all feel like a prisoner of other people’s “unrealistic expectations” and pressures at times, and although by living up to them we keep the peace and excel, to what extent do we sacrifice ourselves?  We all need to cut loose sometimes.

4. Hook Boy

I love this song!  It was a song I wrote lyrics to quite early on, but I just could not get right for ages!!!!! Ultimately, it was one of the last songs I completed for the album, as it was in work-in-progress stage for possibly a year!  This song is about swag, and also about songwriting prowess – I am still learning and honing my craft when it comes to singing, writing and producing, and I appreciate that on Garageband there’s only so much I can do. But at least I have total control of my music, and I’m pretty pleased with what I produce at this stage.  I can say, hand on heart, that this album is something I am very proud of!  And to be in charge of all these aspects of my music is very important to me, as it pisses me off to see certain stars who’ve made it big without much talent to speak of.  So I’m bigging myself up on this song, and although you could read it in terms of sexual prowess or swagger, to me, it’s really about being the best singer and songwriter I can be, and trying to offer something fresh.  Being a “hook boy” refers to being able to write a decent, catchy hook!  But as the coda of the song says (where the beat changes and becomes a little more complex – another end-of-song development I love!), sometimes people take your ability for granted, and at the same time as we may be skilled and have swag and talent, we have to make sure that people don’t take us for a ride without appreciating who we are and what we do.  We need to be proud and confident in ourselves, and it’s nice for others to recognise that, but we also need to make sure that people don’t take advantage of us.  So there’s an extra layer in there.

5. Focused (Interlude)

This interlude is thrilling to me because I finally got some harmonies exactly how I wanted them – there are about six layers of vocals in this!  It’s short and sweet, and essentially segues between the three beat-driven songs we’ve had so far (slow, deep sexual beat; mysterious, menacing dance beat; midtempo, stuttering beat) and the next song which will be the album’s first proper ballad.  “I’m too focused on the beat, gotta focus on the melody!”

6. Secret

This song is one where I wanted my voice to stand out, and that’s why it starts off acapella – I wanted it to be a stark contrast to the songs which came before, and to really be melody- and vocal-focused.  A good melody can make or break a song, and I wanted the heartfelt nature of this song, the album’s first romantic track, to really come through in the melody.  I also wanted a song which was vocally-driven, as I want to reinforce that I am a singer and confident vocalist first and foremost.  I was inspired by Delta Goodrem’s “Believe Again” – although that song has a more electronic, dance undertone than this track, I loved how the beats and effects built up through the song, so that was something I sought to replicate here.  After the second verse, the beat chips in, and it’s sorta off-kilter (not a straightforward 2/4 or 4/4).  It drops out again completely for the bridge, leaving my voice to carry the song to its finale.  I wanted to emphasise the vocals and the vocal melody line as the spine of the song, especially as the lyrics are so romantic and heartfelt.  It’s quite possibly the most purely optimistic song on the record – it’s a very positively romantic song not coloured by heartache, and brings the first arc of the album to a satisfying close, while seguing into the next songs…

… which I’ll cover in part 2!  Enjoy and keep it locked, and download Quiet Storm if you haven’t already! 🙂 Thankyou xxx

(clicky) Quiet Storm (album download) (clicky)

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self-control.

September 7, 2009

The past couple of days, I have been in various situations which have prompted me to think about the values of restraint and self-control.  Most of the time they are positive: I have a spreadsheet on my computer to track my evening snacking, and in the last 6 months I have managed to reduce my evening snacking to only 29% of a month (this is more difficult and more impressive than it sounds, believe me).  Restraining from this has complemented my gym regime and I’ve lost weight and toned up as a result.  I’ve been restraining from spending too much and buying too many pretty things because it’s only now that I’ve got money coming in again, and despite enduring desperate cravings for certain items, I realised that these cravings pass and I don’t need the things I think I need as much as I do.  (I am still getting that Gucci bracelet in the next month or so, make no mistake.) After wrecking my Nintendo DS during a bout of throwing a Naomi I have been making a conscious effort not to get so annoyed at Street Fighter IV on my PS3, and just taking a breather when I get frustrated.  I have been cutting down on my cigarettes only to preserve my voice, and it seems to be helping (or at least not getting worse), and I don’t feel quite as guilty.

Today at work, I seemed to be having a good day, working for my two bosses Cass and Kerry.  I was mainly helping Kerry today with endless spreadsheets, and I’ll continue doing that tomorrow.  However, Cass popped his head around the door after lunch and asked me if I could help him move some boxes from one room back to another (where they originally were, and where I moved them from right at the beginning of my job about 6 weeks ago). I felt sorry for him when he found out they had to go back, and it turns out that when I agreed to “help” him, I would actually be doing it by myself.  Fine, I said, I would go and do it when I came to a break with Kerry’s stuff, which I did.  I was barely physically able to move one of the cages full of stock (there were 6, Cass had told me there were 5) – Cass envisioned the whole task would take an hour or so, and then I could reload the cages once I was finished.  After 2 cages, the second of which I had to get a policeman to help me with when it came to pushing it up the slope towards its destination, I was aching and drenched in sweat.  And quite pissed off!  I couldn’t do any more, Cass had gone for the day so I couldn’t explain that the cages were just too heavy for me to physically move (and I am no weakling), and there was no way it was possible for me to empty them all before the end of the day, let alone fill them up with more stock.  (I am also quite confident that Cass did not fill up the cages himself, otherwise he would not have asked me to transfer them all within one hour, because he would have realised that that was an unrealistic and fairly dangerous demand!) I felt that I might let him down in some way (though I hope he will understand, he is usually very reasonable) and I hope that he knows by now that I am the farthest thing from workshy.  It’s just not physically possible for me to do, especially not within tonight’s time constraints.  Tomorrow if I have half a day to do it, and the cages are split into (much) smaller loads, it might be possible.  We’ll see.

In addition to this considerable irritation, I was trying to call my mother at work to get a lift home on her way back, since I was staying at work later than usual; it took me over an hour to get through to her work on the phone, and even then when her colleague answered the phone, he asked me to call back again in 5 minutes (I said no, and told him that I would rather my mother called me back – I think I had been calling that shop enough for one day).  So I was quite annoyed about that, although in both cases I know that nobody was deliberately at fault, and that I should keep my rapidly rising anger in check.  Somehow, I managed to do this, and me and my mum exchanged stories about our frustrating days on the journey home.  I bought 2 dvds at Tesco (Bride Wars & Notorious) and plan to relax with some chocolate Mars drink and good pudding (tonight will be a night where I probably will snack – I plead extenuating circumstances!) watching one of them.

The final straw tonight was when I got home from work with my mother, only to have problems deleting a message from our answerphone (which hates me); apparently, it senses my finger on the delete button and refuses to work, though I have witnessed my mother deleting messages and she does nothing different from what I do.  My parents both made a comment and I exploded, prompting my father to mock my “grumpiness”.  I stormed off (I was definitely grumpy, but there was no need to point it out – what do you think you are going to achieve by highlighting my bad mood?  Certainly not make me feel better…) and sat in the small computer room on the floor, and my mum came in and said that just after I’d left, he had done the same thing to her (her day had not been great either).  I didn’t have a massive explosion of anger, but there just comes a point where you can hold things in and hold things in and be aware of not pushing your anger or frustration or emotions onto other people, but just holding your tongue and taking deep breaths and dealing with frustration calmly and rationally… and it all spills out anyway.  Some people just don’t seem to realise that they pile burden on top of burden on top of you, and I’m not superhuman – eventually, after enough pressure, I snap, just like anyone else.  Is that a fault of mine?  Should I have more self-control?  Or is it an issue where I restrain too much and let things build up? When is it right to not say anything and deal with your issues by yourself for fear of upsetting or alienating someone else, and when is the time to speak up and say “I can’t take anymore”, before you explode?  How do you know when the right time to do that is?  In short, how do you predict when enough is enough?

As I said at the start of the post, although I recognise I have a temper (which developed due to Street Fighter and also due to various trying situations at the Perfume Shop), I am fairly good at controlling it, especially around other people.  But yesterday, discussing Jill’s death with my parents, I think I was the one who put my foot in my mouth.  I was asking about what kind of cancer she had died of – a reasonable question, I thought.  My mother didn’t know.  I found it odd that Jill’s husband, despite the fact he had spoken to my mother at least 3 times in the past couple of weeks and had asked her to pass on updates of Jill’s health to mutual friends of hers and my mother’s, had neglected to mention what type of cancer she was actually suffering from.  I understand people being private, especially in times of suffering and grief, but I thought that generally, people suffer from lung cancer or breast cancer or cancer of the womb or cancer of something.  If you say “She has cancer”, the automatic question is surely “cancer of what?” I found this weird that nobody seemed to know, and that Graham had not passed on this vital piece of information to my mother, especially if my mother was then supposed to inform other people herself.  And yet, my parents were both like “you don’t ask that kind of thing!” I understand not wanting to probe into someone’s grief, but I found it strange that the question had not been asked, and even stranger that my mother hadn’t been told in the first place!  Yet after our discussion, I felt like I was somehow unfeeling or tactless, and that I had said the wrong thing (my father’s sister also died of cancer – to this day, me and my mother know very little about it).  I guess that everyone deals with death in their own way, and I understand that grief is a private and individual process that not everyone wants to share or shout about.  But I don’t understand people not asking basic questions; I later spoke to my mum about it and she said that I hadn’t upset her at all, but that as you get older, you learn more and more as you get older not to disturb others’ fragile emotional states.  I understand this already, but I just don’t know the rules about what you talk about and what you don’t talk about in times like these.  If we don’t speak up and ask questions, even about fragile or poignant situations, how do we become better informed? Is it more respectful to be silent and remain in ignorance? Is restraint really the better option in this instance?  I don’t get why people don’t talk about these things.  If we did, then maybe it would clarify, if not ease the grieving process / understanding of exactly why Jill died.  So I don’t really know at all just how much restraint or self-control is a good thing after all.

h1

jagged little pills.

August 8, 2009

It’s hard for me to remember a time in my life or my musical experience before Mariah Carey’s Butterfly album, because that has shaped the way I sing, the music I aim to make and so much more besides; to me, it is nearly the perfect album (I don’t believe there is any such animal).  But before Butterfly, I was obsessed with Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill.  I bought the CD when I was 10 years old and I played it to death.  I don’t really listen to Alanis Morissette anymore, but for a while she opened my eyes, my ears and my vocabulary.  Listening to “You Oughta Know”, I used to think that “going down on you in a theatre” meant that she was going to attack him.  I guess I was sort-of right… It’s things like that that make me really that I was a curious blend of precociousness and naïvety as a child; perhaps that’s true even today… I remember my parents being astonished at the fact that I had decided to cling to this singer so; after all, she was quite controversial and her lyrics included explicit language and sexual metaphors.  My parents have not been shy about swearing in front of me since I was about 7 years old, but thankfully I didn’t hear much about their sex life until I was maybe 11 or 12.  But my parents thought I had good taste (for once), and we used to play the cd in the car and we all enjoyed it.  There was a period during my summer holidays before starting year 6 when I would literally go up to my room after breakfast, slip the CD into my black Sanyo CD player and sing it all the way through.  Every day.  For at least 2-3 months… It was crazy, and I don’t think I have done anything like that since, nor would I want to.

So today I was browsing through wikipedia on the net and I end up reading Alanis Morissette’s album pages.  I remember the situations I couldn’t relate to so much back then have now become fully fleshed-out (when I was younger, I would just connect to the song’s emotion because I had no experience of romantic or sexual relationships).  I understand the Catholic angst of “Forgiven” better now than I ever used to, and that is coincidental because I was discussing religion and Catholicism with my friend Adam today while watching the film Doubt (I caved and bought the dvd).  The concept of living up to being the “perfect child” under pressure from my parents, family and peers has never lessened but my maturity lends new hues to the song “Perfect”.  I remember nearly having an affair with my peer mentoring instructor, drama teacher and counsellor while listening to the song “Hands Clean” (we never had an affair, but I had a crush and we were close.  And all my friends at school kept checking that we weren’t sleeping together, which obviously we weren’t).  Listening to “Joining You” today reminds me of when I was younger and contemplated suicide on more than one occasion, and realising that life really can be that depressing if you let yourself get caught up in it so much.  Sometimes levity and fun are not a bad thing, and in fact vital to our survival.

I wrote a hell of a lot of songs and poems during my childhood as a direct result of Alanis Morissette’s inspiration.  I pray that none of these poems or lyrics come back to light, but perhaps they aren’t as bad as I imagine them to be.  I also expect some of them are a lot more risky than what I produce today, because as I’ve honed my craft, I’ve also made steps on the journey to finding who I am and how I can best express that.  At 11 years old, I knew a lot for my age but I still had so much growing up to do and so the poems I wrote were a mishmash of everything.  I imagine it to be a bit messy and at times laughable, though probably heartrending all the same.  I would never go back in time, because I’ve learned a lot of hard lessons and I don’t want to have to relearn them thankyou.  But at the same time, as unhappy a child as I was, I remember the growing and the learning and the insecurities, I see how far I have come, and although according to R “I put too much pressure on myself”, I can’t help but smile and remember the little boy who was doing all the “right things” and still felt so lost.  And at least I stand here today, and I’m a tiny bit more found than I used to be.  Who isn’t a work-in-progress?  But some progress has been made.

Listening to “Unsent”, I think of the people I have dated, and why it has gone wrong every single time.  Of course, it takes two, and as much as I can blame myself and push myself to learn and to act more rationally and maturely, and as much as I push myself to be more perfect and model-ready, it can’t all be my fault.  I always seem to settle for less, and now with B and with R, I feel caught in the middle of two non-boyfriends who emotionally connect with me but can never give me enough in return, for various reasons.  Last night, R’s boyfriend hijacked his msn and effectively said that R spends too much time talking to me (and other guys) on msn.  This morning, R said that the boyfriend was jealous (I suppose understandably).  I don’t want to be a homewrecker, I don’t want to be the jump-off, I don’t want to be a booty-call or a one-night-stand or a throwaway boyfriend.  I don’t want to be waiting around for B to wake up and smell the coffee, and I don’t want to be caught in the middle.  Like I said before, I can’t even imagine myself not single, and yet I’ve racked up all these nearly-guys.  I suppose I am the stronger and the better for it, but it gets tiresome… however, at least like Alanis, I get some pretty decent lyrical material out of it!  I guess part of being older and gaining experience is that you hurt and get hurt along the way of life.  I don’t really know how to conclude this entry very neatly, but I try not to feel bitterness if I can help it.  I try to stay pretty zen about my relationships, and I don’t think that we need to stay friends with our exes every time, but after a while I don’t want to waste my time hating them either.  The more open I keep my heart, hopefully the more likely someone is to find it who is worth my time and then I’ll prove my self-fulfilling prophecy wrong and be able to enjoy what everyone else seems to without trying to walk the line of perfection to everybody.