marching on – random gum of march 2018 soundtrack

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Here we go… music for March, which is the most wintry month of all this year. Check out the whole playlist on Spotify.

marching on
march 2018 – the good goo of random gum

01 Saint Etienne – “Nothing Can Stop Us”
*For poor deported, beloved Ben, who will nevertheless not be stopped; love for Tara, as this was one of our signature soundtrack songs when we used to spend time together
02 Negative Gemini – “You Weren’t There Anymore” ...you didn’t care at all…
*For at least those Gemini souls among us who are as negative as we’re accused of being
03 Vanishing Twin – “Choose Your Own Adventure”
04 Claudine Longet – “God Only Knows”
05 Neko Case – “Star Witness”
06 Los Zucara – “Lamento de Febrero”
*Uruguay. Love for J, Billy and Travis
07 Gwenno – “Tir Ha Mor”
*Wales
08 The Fall – “Mexico Wax Solvent”
*Love for Naomi – everything’s gonna be okay. (Must play LOUD)
09 Them Are Us Too – “The Problem with Redheads”
*Martina: Maybe Joel was right about the internet obsession with redheads. Haha. Sadly, one of the band members was among the dead in 2016 warehouse fire in Oakland, CA.
10 Dear Nora – “To Fall is Not to Fail”
“It’s better not to cry/Or to look me in the eye/When you leave and you let it go”
11 Yorkston/Thorne/Khan – “False True Piya”
12 Nicole Atkins – “Darkness Falls So Quiet”
13 Sexores – “Berlin”
*Despite being from Ecuador, this is one of two “Berlin”s on this mix. Sometimes I’m still missing it. Hard to believe it was already more than a year ago that I dashed off to Berlin for an afternoon just to see a movie, returning home the same night.
14 Julia Lucille – “Beneath the Spring” …Can a woman love/and not lose herself?…
*The countless onslaught of talented Julias continues. “We’ve had some fun/We’ve had some good loving/On to the next thing/My conscience forcibly brings/So many things that I could do/One of them being you/The slow slide into lying/And here come endless apologizing”
15 Beach House – “Chariot”
16 Pérez Prado – “Mambo No 5”
*A curious, out-of-place thing that reminds me of the misery of being 19
17 Siobhan Wilson – “Whatever Helps” …you’re stuck in the break of a wave/you’re haunted by a line from a song/you’re beaten by the wing of a prayer/try to move on…
*Glasgow. “Whatever helps to pass the time/when you’re on the other side/Switch it off, switch it off, whatever it is/That bleeds out all your best thoughts”
18 Thao & the Get Down Stay Down – “The Evening”
19 Tennis – “My Emotions Are Blinding”
*Love to Esteban & Ana
20 Laura Groves – “Friday” …You never gave a sign of pieced together phrases that Ive heard…
21 Beach Fossils – “This Year” ...This year I told myself it’d be a better one/Try not to fall back onto the knife…
22 The Raincoats – “Lola”
23 Ramona Lisa – “Arcadia Reprise”
24 Franska Trion – “Empty Space”
*Sverige, Sverige, Sverige
25 Gorillaz – “Clint Eastwood”
*Thinking more of Digit the gorilla, Mike, and Jesse Dude (another plastic gorilla, featured in the main image), but also Filbert/Ph’s fleeting flirtation with ‘fame’ via Clint Eastwood. The strange world of models and film extras…
26 Pink Mountaintops – “I (fuck) Mountains”
27 Charlotte Adigéry – “Senegal Seduction”
28 The Luxembourg Signal – “Laura Palmer”
29 The Fall – “Pumpkin Soup and Mashed Potatoes”
*When you need a dose of pumpkin soup to go with your fix of The Fall
30 Anika – “I Go to Sleep”
31 Jitka Zelenková – “Rád”
*Another Czech check-in, which means … love to Anne & to Martina
32 CCFX – “The One to Wait”
33 Katie von Schleicher – “Life’s a Lie”
34 Andrea Davidson – “Thank You Fuck You” …thank you for what we went through/and fuck you for something, too/I’m done with you…
35 Negative Gemini – “Ice Sluts”
*Lóa: Is an ‘ice slut’ a cross between a ice queen and a fuck mattress? 🙂
36 Pale Saints – “Half-Life Remembered” …It’s eating you away and some will never know it’s taste…
*O, emotional waves of late teen years. It’s like sitting in traffic-safety class in high school, the long drive to university, and more crying jags that I can count: “Biting off more than you can chew again/You’re just a child/And all you know is/That it’s sweetness brings you close to tears/Each time you can’t resist/And some will never know it’s taste”
37 Belle & Sebastian – “The Party Line”
*A spontaneous leap one day, deciding to go see B & S after many years of wanting to. And it was as lovely as I needed it to be. (And come on now, gotta love Glaswegian bands to bits.)
38 Gentle Hen – “I Wasn’t Looking for This”
*Thinking mostly about the use of “hen” as a Scottish term for a woman: “Gie us a kiss, hen“. “I wasn’t looking for this/I wasn’t ready for this/But it’s so convenient, I don’t have to do a thing/And I’ve always been lazy at best”
39 Meshell Ndegeocello – “Sometimes It Snows in April” …Springtime was always my favorite time of year/A time for lovers holding hands in the rain…
*Meshell doing Prince. For Anne, whom I must see in April.
40 Hanne Hukkelberg – “Berlin”
*Norway.
.. merci, Andreas
41 Madonna – “Crazy for You”
*Ended up here in some roundabout way after mentioning to S that Matthew Modine‘s daughter, Ruby, is in the US version of Shameless; he said he can only remember an 80s movies starring Modine that had this song in the soundtrack but couldn’t actually remember the movie (Vision Quest, of course, about wrestling… “God, you can count. See, I knew you had to be smart to be a wrestler.” –The Breakfast Club)
42 Kate Bush – “The Kick Inside”
*I fully, firmly believed I would never, ever appreciate Kate Bush. I have tried so many times over the years, and I just couldn’t hear it. Then suddenly in February, it was the right moment. More proof that we do change, and our tastes can in fact become more expansive rather than contractive.
43 10,000 Maniacs – “Trouble Me” …Why let your shoulders bend underneath this burden when my back is sturdy and strong?…
*And with the inclusion of this song, which I have never liked, we devolve (further) into the world of adult-contemporary, near-easy-listening. I remember my anger in 1989 when this song displaced The Cure from some top-five-of-the-week on some MTV show. Seems hilarious that I cared so much. I thought of this again recently when someone said, “I’ll trouble you later” and I said, “You could never trouble me.”
44 Crowded House – “She Goes On” …Pretty soon you’ll be able to remember her/lying in the garden singing/right where she’ll always be/the door is always open/this is the place that I loved her/and these are the friends that she had/long may the mountain ring/to the sound of her laughter/and she goes on and on…
*RIP Margaret, who died on 16 February 2018; “til we see her once again/in a world without end…”
45 The Sundays – “When I’m Thinking About You”
*Remembering the varied tastes of Mr Watts when we used to talk and he remembered weird folks like me
46 Pink Martini, The von Trapps – “Rwanda Nziza”
*Dreams of, thoughts on Rwanda
47 Cowboy Junkies – “Come Calling (Her Song)”
*One of those songs that, catching me at the right moment, makes me cry, remembering exactly where I was when I heard it, repeatedly, in one of the worst times of my life
48 Jane Weaver – “I Need a Connection”
*Opening act for Belle & Sebastian – when deciding whether to go spontaneously to see them, seeing that Weaver was opening, that tipped the balance and made me decide to go
49 Sarah Klang – “Milky Way”
*Gothenburg love
50 Shamir – “Lived and Died Alone” …I resign myself to the fact/that I will always love/never to be loved back…
*A beautiful ending, sad sentiments

The whole playlist. Or follow me on Spotify to see all my playlists.

Image (c) 2018 S Donaghy

Random gum: Halloween 2017

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The Good Goo of Random Gum – Halloween 2017
The Last Toast to the World & Cosmos

So, even though we are a full month out from Halloween, I have been extraordinarily organized and have finished putting together my Halloween CD mix for this year quite early. The mailings have begun going out in the post.

And, as I have written in the note that accompanies the CD, the time has come at last – this will be the last of my random gum CD mixes. At least of the physical, postal-mail variety. As technology has rendered the CD a useless would-be Frisbee, I am looking for another solution for sharing music (other than Spotify playlists at least). I may still send cards/greetings by post because I’m still old-fashioned like that. But continuing this effort is fruitless. It has been a roller coaster of randomness these 13 years that I’ve been making and sending these mixes. And to reflect an end as random as this gum has always been, I’ve chosen fittingly strange and random music.

Although I have not expressed these sentiments in the letter I included with the CD, I do feel like I am shedding a skin – or some kind of layer(s) – again – as though I am preparing for something else. I don’t know what it is. But I have largely left behind my TV addiction, my baking addiction, and now this (and most of my postal letter writing in general). I don’t know why these things no longer interest me the way they used to, except to say that my disconnection from feeling and indeed, often, from actually living, has dissipated. The end of the embargo against living, I suppose, means that new things and new people occupy my time and, more importantly, my heart.

Until I do find a better and personal sharing solution, you can follow me on Spotify and also find the full track listings and descriptions on my blog. Normally I seek out and post the YouTube video of these tracks, but instead… here is the list.

01 Aliza Gabbai – “Mimigdal Shalom”
Israeli pop from the 1960s. Too cute
02 Rola Saad – “Min Bein Alkoul”
Because Lebanon
03 DIANA – “What You Get” …Echo comes back to your lonely room/Said my head, my heart, I can’t take it anymore…
Stuck so much in 2017 on the concept of place – real, imagined; in the world or in the mind
04 Savoy Motel – “Souvenir Shop Rock”
Nashville is for dancing
05 Tindersticks – “My Sister” …Here I am, this is me/I am yours and everything about me,/everything you see,/If only you look hard enough/I never could…
Had this spun up but was unsure til I talked to a Norwegian in the mountains who was listening to Tindersticks. “Our life was a pillow fight…”
06 Trio Esperança – “Filme Triste”
Yummy 50s-60s Brazilian pop. Can you see where we’re going here?
07 Dean & Britta – “Night Nurse” …I am the night nurse, I am the most/I am the visitor, you are the host…
08 Blouse – “1000 Years” …I move the furniture around/And trick you into lying down…
“I would never hurt you/Or disappear/I’ll love you for a thousand years”
09 Jillian & the Giants – “Mr Airplane” …I don’t even mind…
Up in the air. “Here we go again, sure was nice for a little while/That rosy pink glow/turns red hot when you go/Too high into the other side”
10 Aquaserge – “Virage sud”
Vive la France
11 Connie Kim – “Lý Luận Tình Yêu”
Vietnam. The 70s. What more can one say?
12 Snail Mail – “Thinning” …I don’t think there’s anything wrong…
13 The Horrors – “Sea Within a Sea” …So you might say/The path we share is one of danger/And of fear/Until the end…
For J, the sea within my sea – a sea of constant gentle waves interrupted with the occasional giant waves
14 Lindstrøm – “I Feel Space”
For me, it’s Norway meets Chicago
15 Melike Demirağ – “Hasret”
Türkiye!
16 Meshell Ndegeocello, Sinéad O’Connor – “Don’t Take All Night”
For the love of all that is good in the world
17 Weyes Blood – “Names of Stars”
Places like beauty, simplicity and the cosmos
18 U.N.P.O.C. – “Beautiful to Me” …From time to time I think I must be going blind…
The dear, green place that is Glasgow
19 Evinha – “Vou Seguindo”
Year 2000! Goin’ to Rio! (Naomi)… and our ears take us back to some other time (SD: “I’ll get a job some other time!”)
20 Palace Winter – “Soft Machine”
Not frequent that I get to include Denmark (especially with a dose of Australia). “Acting so obscene/Well by all means/Now that you and I are free/And I’m off my knees”
21 Kristin Hersh – “Nerve Endings” …We’re idiotic optimistics/Rubbing salt into my wrists/Till I feel almost nothing…
So far from soft-eject beige
22 Damien Jurado – “QACHINA”
Seattle. “I lost my mind, so I stepped out for a time/Went for a walk on a long road to unwind”
23 Khruangbin – “Ma Be Ham Nemiresim”
Texas, if you can believe it
24 Destroyer – “Hey, Snow White” …When the company goes public, you’ve got to learn to love what you own…
Oh, Canada…
25 Solar Bears – “Cosmic Runner”
Ireland
26 First Hate – “The One” …You treated me so carelessly/You kept imagining the one…
Copenhagen… another Danish set… so much like the 80s
27 Lea Porcelain – “Out Is In”
My sort of cities (Berlin/London)
28 Moon Duo – “Cold Fear”
Portland
29 Monomono – “Tire Loma Da Nigbehin”
Nigeria… and memories of Billy, Travis and me in happening Årjäng
30 Luna – “Chinatown”
Winter 2017
31 Suburban Lawns – “Flavor Crystals”
Sounds sort of fresh but is almost as old as I am; everything old is new again
32 The Breeders – “Fortunately Gone” …I wait for you in heaven/On this perfect string of love…
It’s so good those days are gone. The past, too, is a place. Both distant and near
33 Richard & Linda Thompson – “I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight”
34 Mary Timony – “Return to Pirates”
Lost in the particular Mary Timony sound. “I cannot love you more/Said the doctor to the whore/I wanna be in the garden of love/Led by a lamb and a little white dove/I know you can/But I don’t think I can/Swim in your river/And sleep on your sand”
35 Miss Universum – “Fertilize” …I need a man, I need him quick/I need his sperm, I need his dick/I do not need to be seduced/I just need to be reproduced…
When I first heard this, I didn’t really expect it to be Swedish.
36 Hand Habits – “All the While”
“Bring me to the deepest pit/You can push me right off the edge/And when I show up in your dreams/You got away with it”
37 Eefje de Visser – “Ongeveer”
Dutched up. Almost convinced Dutch could be pretty…
38 Mark Eitzel – “The Last Ten Years” …Spent the last ten years/Trying to waste half an hour…
39 Aimee Mann – “Labrador”
“Daisy, you/shouldn’t do the things you do/but you’re just so incapable of changing/you lie so well/I could never even tell/what were facts in your artful rearranging”
40 Joel Alme – “The Way We Used to Beg”
Göteborg. “You were a cold hard stone/But how does it feel to be alone”
41 Teleman – “Glory Hallelujah” …However do you haunt me…
42 San Mei – “Until You Feel Good”
Thank you to Travis
43 Mallu Magalhães – “Culpa do Amor”
Gone back to Brazil, yet again
44 Mazzy Star – “Blue Flower”
Kitchen singalongs and traumatic high-school-era memories
45 Wooden Shjips – “Everybody Knows” …The longing for home/We’re only alone…
46 Aamina Camaari – “Rag waa Nacab iyo Nasteexo”
Bet you couldn’t have guessed I’d take us to Somalia?
47 Blonde Redhead – “Where Your Mind Wants to Go” …If it’s not me or you, then why?…
48 Jane Weaver – “The Architect”
Be the architect of your spaces and places
49 The Bombay Royale – “I Love You Love You”
Melbourne
50 Yma Sumac – “Karibe Taki”
51 Feist – “I Wish I Didn’t Miss You” …I was so disappointed I didn’t know what to do…
52 Young Marble Giants – “Brand – New – Life”
Cymru am byth
53 Eerie Wanda – “I Am Over Here” …And I found you and we make/Sweetest memories/Now I’m here and you are overseas…
We are the world: Dutch band, Dutch-Croatian singer
54 Hater – “Cry Later”
Malmö
55 Richard Hawley – “Tonight the Streets are Ours”
56 Tennis – “Night Vision”
Can’t listen to Tennis without thinking of Esteban
57 Guided by Voices – “Game of Pricks”
“Prick with fork” – love to my mom and to Naomi
58 The Novacs – “Found”
Airdrie! (The Scottish one, not the weird, middle-of-nowhere Airdrie in the Edmonton-Calgary, Alberta corridor)
59 Haifa Wehbe – “Albi Habb”
もう少し Lebanon
60 The Kills – “Monkey 23”
61 Big Thief – “Shark Smile” …she said woo/baby take me…
“She held us, gunning out 90 miles down the road of a dead end dream
she looked over with her part smile, caught up in the twinkle it could take awhile”
62 Linda McCartney – “I Got Up”
Getting up is also a place, a real place
63 Haley Bonar – “Kismet Kill”
“I was impossible when I was beautiful and now/Cartoon deaths just don’t seem so funny”
64 Blouse – “Trust Me”
Famous last words: “Trust me, I’m the one who loves you”
65 Globelamp – “Washington Moon” …I want a California sun/And a Washington moon…
66 Jessica Pratt – “Bushel Hyde” …Words mean more that they did before/In that other place…
67 Robyn Hitchcock – “Sayonara Judge”
October in Oslo
68 Linda Perhacs – “Chimacum Rain”
Lichen. Lichen. Lichen. Oh, dear T’Pow
69 Amália Rodrigues – “Abril”
I love Amália Rodrigues and was surprised to see that that particular tune was one of the least-ever listened to on Spotify. I decided to remedy that all on my own
70 Life Without Buildings – “Sorrow” …Difficult people slip away…
Glesga Glesga Glesga (Glasgow for those not in-the-know)
71 J&L Defer – “Hard Fiction Road”
For SD: Refer to theme song of Canadian children’s show “The Littlest Hobo” at this time. How’s that for random? Even though this is a band from Winterthur, Switzerland, y’know?
72 Wand – “Melted Rope”
“Desire, I barely thinking/In the dark/And life, life is what you wanted/It’s what you are”
73 Koncz Zsuzsa – “Keresem a szót”
Hungarian. And had to choose… for the name Zsuzsa. Just for Martina.
74 She-Devils – “I Wanna Touch You” …can you read my mind?…
Montréal
75 Kikagaku Moyo (幾何学模様)- “Kogarashi”
Tokyo
76 The Limiñanas feat Peter Hook – “Garden of Love”
To France and beyond
77 Yasmine Hamdan – “Samar – Oriental Skeee Remix”
No escape from Lebanon
78 Cold Beat – “62 Moons” …It’s cold but I don’t mind/I’m accustomed to ice…
The Bay Area…
79 Kerem Güney – “Sicak Bir Sevda”
Istanbul grooves
80 Alvvays – “In Undertow” …You made a mistake you’d like to erase and I understand
“What’s left for you and me?”…
On, on Toronto – pulled in and pulled under
81 The Magnetic Fields – “Strange Powers”
Song is so New York, so Las Vegas, so outer space
82 Cults – “Go Outside” …I think I want to live my life and you’re just in my way…
83 ShitKid – “Sugar Town”
Sweden remakes
84 Santo & Johnny – “Pineapple Princess”
Aloha from this arctic hula doll
85 Sam Cohen – “Kepler 62”
“Strange neighbors as you know/They come and go/They live in a world without you”
86 Imarhan – “Assossamagh”
Algeria/Tuareg
87 Whyte Horses – “The Snowfalls”
Manchester
88 Rana Alagöz – “Vah Bacim Vah Mehmedim”
That’s nobody’s business but the Turks…
89 EL VY – “Paul is Alive” …Nobody stays above/Out in the waves of love…
90 Carla dal Forno – “What You Gonna Do Now?”
Aussie. Transcends
91 Sanisah Huri – “Joget Malam Berinai”
Singapore/Malaysia. I said I’d show you the world, baby. I just didn’t say it’d be through your ears
92 Monument Valley – “Dear John Letters”
93 Lea Porcelain – “The Love”
94 Grizzly Bear – “Mourning Sound” …Let love age/And watch it burn out and die…
“I stare at the face/Looking through my eyes/I move at a pace/That I cannot survive”
95 Marjan – “Kee Seda Kard Mano”
Iran
96 Heavens to Betsy – “Axemen”
Like being in a high school gym pep rally (as in the song) or first miserable year of uni
97 Mia Doi Todd – “Pancho and Lefty”
A pretty version of best-songwriter-ever (and now-near-ubiquitous) Townes van Zandt tune
98 Pridjevi – “Ako Je”
Hrvatska
99 Widowspeak – “When I Tried” …I was more alive when I tried…
100 The Proper Ornaments – “Cremated (Blown Away)”
London. “I would like to be cremated and blown away…”
101 Věra Příkazská, Plzeňský lidový soubor, Lidová chodská, Zdenek Blaha – “Ó radost má”
Czech check. Love to Martina, Anne
102 Cigarettes after Sex – “Nothing’s Gonna Hurt You Baby”
“Whispered something in your ear/It was a perverted thing to say/But I said it anyway/Made you smile and look away”. Lovely but also sounds like it belongs in an 80s John Hughes romance
103 Adia Victoria – “Mortimer’s Blues” …Heaven help me how it hurts…
Back to Nashville
104 Patti Smith – “My Madrigal” …You pledged me your heart/Till death do us part…
“We waltzed beneath motionless skies/All heaven’s glory turned in your eyes”

Image by S Donaghy 2017

outside the comfort zone: trials of marathoners

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“I’m not a human. I’m a piece of machinery. I don’t need to feel a thing. Just forge on ahead. I repeat this like a mantra.” –What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, Haruki Murakami

When I was young – somewhere in the febrile netherworld between adolescent and teenager, I dreamt that I married a marathon runner, which seemed ludicrous at the time. Bookish and living in libraries, it seemed highly unlikely that I would ever meet a marathon runner, let alone have anything in common with one. (It may or may not be worth noting that this dream-world marriage took place when I was quite young, and the dream ended with the young marathoner husband’s premature death at 30, which led to my grieving by riding around in a car with a group of gay male friends.)

In the many, many years since I had this dream, I have never married. I am well beyond 30 myself now. I have, however, been involved with so many triathletes and long-distance runners, and lately I wonder, being as obsessed as I am with how things intersect and connect, why this thread has woven its way through my life. I have had my other phases, unconscious and unintentional, such as the French phase, the Microsoft employee phase, and so on (most likely these ‘trends’ happened because the people you end up meeting are all part of the ‘web’ in which you are woven and the circles in which you travel. Being with a French Microsoftie would probably lead you both to more French people and more Microsoft employees). But through all of the various phases, it seemed these people who chose to push and exploit their own bodies to extremes reappeared everywhere. I had always imagined I would have nothing in common with these human-endurance outliers, but I suppose there are aspects of personality I relate to: grit, solitude, being drawn to extremes, obsession with transformation.

Lately I have been trying to understand the desire and resolve to run in this way, to these distances and at such extremes of human capability or need. It was not a burning question, but things kept popping up to return the question to the forefront of my mind. First I read about a sedentary academic who eventually began to run 100-mile marathons. His article led me to read Scott Jurek’s book Eat & Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness. Not a great book nor high literature by any stretch of the imagination (one of my “filler” books really) but nevertheless peppered with cliché tidbits and the odd literary quotes that add some texture as well as a how-and-why journey to the motivation behind this kind of lifestyle:

  • “The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.” —ERNEST HEMINGWAY
  • “Not all pain is significant.” (from painscience.com: “It’s the difference between engine trouble and trouble with that light on your dashboard that says there’s engine trouble.”)
  • As Thoreau, an American practitioner (though he probably didn’t realize it) of bushido and a pretty good distance walker himself, wrote, “Our life is frittered away by detail. An honest man has hardly need to count more than his ten fingers . . . simplicity, simplicity, simplicity.”
  • Stotan sessions “beautiful and painful . . . underneath it all there was a sort of sound philosophy based on ‘Let’s improve ourselves as human beings, let’s become more compassionate, let’s become bigger, let’s become stronger, let’s become nicer people.’”
  • “You only ever grow as a human being if you’re outside your comfort zone.”

Then I thought, well, Haruki Murakami has written about his own running in What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. His insights weren’t much different from any other long-distance runner’s except that he often creates parallels with his writing:

  • “Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that’s the essence of running, and a metaphor for life—and for me, for writing as well. I believe many runners would agree.”
  • “In long-distance running the only opponent you have to beat is yourself, the way you used to be.”
  • “So the fact that I’m me and no one else is one of my greatest assets. Emotional hurt is the price a person has to pay in order to be independent.”
  • “Each person has his own likes. Once when I had a chance to talk with a sales rep from Mizuno, he admitted, “Our shoes are kind of plain and don’t stand out. We stand by our quality, but they aren’t that attractive.” I know what he’s trying to say. They have no gimmicks, no sense of style, no catchy slogan. So to the average consumer, they have little appeal. (The Subaru of the shoe world, in other words.)” (I liked this one just because it highlights functionality and personal preference – what works versus what looks flashy. I have always, after all, driven Subarus.)

But eventually I get some clarity from these readings and others – everything from personal reflections and essays to the more scientific and clinical approaches, such as an article on whether or not ultra-marathoners feel less pain, thanks to the Twitter feed of Al Jazeera English news anchor Peter Dobbie (yes, this kind of stuff comes from everywhere, doesn’t it?). Of course they don’t feel less pain – it’s psychological really – so it comes down to brain over pain (as the article states: “theory of pain catastrophizing and how that might be translated into pain management when you are 40 miles in and everything feels bad”). It all ties together so that these symptoms, if not catastrophic or apt to do lasting damage, can be assessed as non-critical discomfort rather than critical pain, can be overcome with some of the psychology, the tying the effort into a greater good, a philosophical drive toward being greater.

Someone asked me the other day about why I think our mutual acquaintance runs in insane ultra-marathon-type events. (Sure, in this case, she just wanted to find excuses to talk to me about the acquaintance, but I treated it academically, as I do with most things.)

She asked: “Why do you think he does it?”

Impersonally, I replied, “I don’t think it’s something anyone who doesn’t do it can understand.”

I have recently read several books to try to gain insight into marathon and ultra-marathon “thinking”. I told this ‘interrogator’: “I cannot claim to understand the pathology.”

She exclaimed: “So you think it is a pathology!”

Me: (haltingly) “Not in the strictest sense, no. But as a deviation from what most people do, yes, it is a pathology in that sense.”

Some exchange/banter followed about the insanity of it, but I started outlining (at least for myself) what I think defines the reasons why (if we must understand or seek understanding):

  • The people who do this kind of running often also tend to think it is as crazy as non-runners do … in the sense that they push their bodies beyond the limits of what a body should be able to do. Pushing beyond physical limits. Feeling more alive than ever while also being almost dead. This drives the process, the motivation and desire to continue.
  • An ‘extreme’ runner is not doing it because s/he thinks it’s “normal” or “middle of the road” even if it becomes normal for her/him.
  • The opposing forces of isolation/solitude, as long-distance running is a solitary activity, and community/camaraderie built with a group of others who find this ‘insanity’ to be a worthwhile pursuit.
  • The opposing forces of feeling control while also feeling out of control (i.e. “I can undertake this unfathomable feat; I can’t feel my feet/hands/can’t stop vomiting – can I go on? Can I do this?”)
  • A unique/unusual sense of accomplishment from doing something that most other people cannot do, even if they did not find it insane to consider.
  • Added bonus if the running endeavor can be connected to some concept of “doing good in the world” (a charity component, etc.)

“…and I knew what the loneliness of the long-distance runner running across country felt like, realizing that as far as I was concerned this feeling was the only honesty and realness there was in the world.” -from The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner: Stories, Alan Sillitoe

I engage in my own form of marathon, which has nothing to do with running, and it tests resolve and endurance, too. It is my test for whether someone, in coming up against me, is built to last. The drive to run, but not running from something, cannot be entirely dissimilar – it is a constant test of tiring but continuing, reaching an outcome, elated and exhausted, but facing the demand to get up and do it again, insane or not.

Photo by David Marcu on Unsplash

Random Gum: Summer 2016 soundtrack

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Random Gum – Summer 2016 soundtrack: Alive and Kicking
Latent Love and the Pre-Internet Days

The whole playlist (minus the songs that don’t exist on Spotify…) on Spotify.

01. Simple Minds – “Alive and Kicking” …now it’s all or nothing/cause you said you follow through…

Appeared twice in the same week on primetime TV (The Goldbergs & Fresh Off the Boat), proving 80s/90s nostalgia is alive and kicking – Simple Minds and John Hughes, always leading the charge. For S, for Amber

02. Vorderhaus – “Stepping Off the Ghost Train” …You tell yourself you’re in love/I tell myself I don’t care/I’m stepping off the ghost train/I’m tired of loving you in vain…

03. INXS – “Never Tear Us Apart” …but if I hurt you, I’ll make wine from your tears…

A cover version of this with female vocal (Paloma Faith) appeared in L&O SVU and made me think of the original, and of the domino-like tragedy of HutchenceYatesGeldof. And after the “Alive and Kicking” appearances I also thought of former best friend Terra and her junior high crush on INXS’s Jon Farriss. She had gone to spend the summer in Aberdeen (Scotland, not WA), dreamt Farriss died and had written me a letter (yes – a real letter, as this all happened in the 1987-8 world before the internet) describing the nightmare, to which I replied, “Don’t worry – he’s alive… and kicking!” Which was only funny at all because INXS’s hit album was called KICK. For Terra. For S.

04. John Grant – “Geraldine” …we’re not like them, we’re not that strong/at least that’s what they have been telling us all along…

The gorgeousness of John Grant continues.

05. The War on Drugs – “Under the Pressure” …When it all breaks down and we’re runaways/Standing in the wake of our pain…

06. Glenn Frey – “The Heat is On”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCoP2W4v2v8
This has been a particularly rough year so far for musical deaths. I’m no Glenn Frey/Eagles fan, but this song plays into 1980s memories as well as a more recent vignette when two of my colleagues and I took our young Spanish intern to lunch for his birthday, and he commented on how I can possibly wear dresses in the cold, and I replied, “In the office, the heat is on…” The three of us old lady colleagues, in unison, burst into song, ‘The heat is on…’, which perplexed the youthful Spaniard.

07. AaRON – “U-Turn (Lili)” …you know there’s still a place for people like us…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xTKfrY4cQ9I
Many thanks to my colleague, Laurent. This popped up at a time that everyone and everything seemed to be named Aaron, and as Key & Peele ended on Comedy Central, and I inhaled all five seasons in a few days, and keep going back to the “Substitute Teacher” clip in which the sub pronounces it, “A-A-Ron”.

08. Beach House – “Days of Candy” …I know it comes too soon/The universe is riding off with you…

09. David Bowie – “Sound & Vision”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoDamvrfUbQ
I’ve never experienced anything like the collective outpouring of shared grief and mourning for a public figure – and felt a part of it – the way I did when Bowie unexpectedly died in January 2016. I had never been a huge fan, but his departure felt like the dimming of a bright light that guided our path through the modern cultural landscape. For weeks afterward, I cried if I listened to him (which I could not stop doing) or thought about him. In the end, mortality will come for the flesh, but the work, voice, sound and vision live forever.

10. Lush – “Lovelife” …in your concrete arms I adore you…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SYzfT1zmAGg
Celebrating the resurrection of Lush, their 2016 tour and (possibly) seeing them in London in May (which, sadly, I could not). For all my Lush-loving friends (too numerous to count!). “Every door conceals a dream and a nightmare…”

11. Karen Elson – “Who’s Sorry Now?”

12. The Chills – “Soft Bomb Part One” …I’m tearing all my hair out with my hands/I know what they will never understand…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KdI_xhB7bgY
For all the New Zealand-leaning ambitions and longing. For all the NZ friends (Trevor, Kimberley, Dan, Lauren)…

13. Los Blenders – “TJTQ”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXPvHOJFSWk
Tijuana! For Martina, as everything Mexican is.

14. Tennis – “Mean Streets” …Stay on your own/Or leave it alone…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ei2gXl203w
For Esteban and Ana, fellow Tennis fans.

15. KC & the Sunshine Band – “Boogie Shoes”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6m47EQtAMzI
I don’t know how this fits into the soundtrack, really. I watched a documentary about the 1970s and thought we could use a pause here to groove on the decade

16. 88 ULTRA – “Oceans”

17. Christine and the Queens – “No Harm is Done” …I can follow/Wanna take the lead/but I roam all alone/With a heart so hollow…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQ6FYytu1pM
With more thanks to Laurent.

18. Damon Albarn – “Heavy Seas of Love”

19. The Ink Spots – “I’ll Get By”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dh4YlBKNZso
For S the Firewall

20. Elvis Costello – “Sweet Pear” …But there’s a void without your kiss/I wake on the precipice above the abyss/And though the touch of your lips these fears dismiss/Make no mistake there is an ache I have to live with…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQ9bVpGLego
“Was my grip too loose, my grip too strong/That made you want to run away/And now you’re back where I pretend you belong/I wonder every night and day, how long?” For Roberto.

21. Dom La Nena – “Saudade” …E onde é que foi que vi voar aquele beija flor/Onde esta agora os restos de um amor que machucou/E o tempo passou, você não mudou/A quanto tempo foi que você não voltou…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OG8cpJCl7Mk
Brasil, so much in the news, so much in the thoughts, this year.

22. Soapkills – “Wadih”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JoLA1tCLcBI
Many thanks to Aurélien and Catherine.

23. Sleeper – “What Do I Do Now?” …is there someone else, am I too familiar, was it when I said I wanted to have children…?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SSe3dV7dPYw
I’ve always preferred Elvis Costello’s slower, sadder recording of this song. Every time I hear it, it seems to take on new depth and meaning. “What do I do now? Are we going under? What did I do wrong? I thought we had it sorted out the other day. Maybe I’m just stupid. Thought we’d try again. No one told me it was raining.”

24. Linda Mirada – “Lío en Río”

25. Crystal Castles – “Plague”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cx2lJIOTBjs
For and thanks to Roxane.

26. Saint Motel – “A Quick One While He’s Away” …It’s like a dream to be with you again…

27. Townes van Zandt – “Waitin’ Around to Die” …sometimes I don’t know where this dirty road is taking me…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dbsMn476T2U
Never get enough of Townes. “Now I’m outta prison, got me a friend that lasts. Well he don’t drink or steal or cheat or lie, well, his name’s codeine, he’s the nicest thing I’ve seen, yeah, together we’re gonna wait around and die.”

28. Psycho Killer – “Road to Nowhere”
Stuff like this (the original anyway, and the Talking Heads in general) and The Pretenders – stuff I could not appreciate until on the cusp of being “aged” like cheese or wine.

29. Tom Jones – “The Young New Mexican Puppeteer”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XvQHt5t7zkg
Of course I’m inspired by Martina (another Mexican thing) here and how kind of comical this song is, but also thinking of multiple discussions on the dislike for Welsh people (haha) and the recent passing of Tom Jones’s wife (RIP).

30. Salt Petal – “Cumbia de Billinghurst”

31. Wall of Voodoo – “Mexican Radio” …No comprende/it’s a riddle…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eyCEexG9xjw
For Martina. “I wish I was in Tijuana/eating barbecued iguana”

32. Telefon Tel Aviv – “Helen of Troy” …Your face is the place/where it ends…

33. Clan of Xymox – “A Day”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OiJ3KU0bme0
This certainly takes me back in time.

34. Ezra Furman – “Body Was Made” …Your body is yours at the end of the day
and don’t let the hateful try and take it away…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rkEkjxX_YrM
Had not heard so much saxophone in a long time, and stumbled on this right after having multiple conversations about how the name “Ezra” isn’t one you hear often.

35. Lush & Jarvis Cocker – “Ciao!” …life is wonderful now that I’m rid of you…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-0Jvo5_IrlI
This is 1996 for me, two of my favorites of the time, trying to break away from the grip of shitty relationships that seem to be the telltale sign of young adulthood.

36. Count Five – “Psychotic Reaction”

37. Mashrou’Leila – “Imm El Jacket”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hsablD8vu0w
Thanks to Aurélien and Catherine.

38. Eddie Rabbitt – “Drivin’ My Life Away”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_tvEvBUG8mY
Music my mom listened to a lot when my brother and I were children. My brother had an angry-looking, fluffy blue stuffed rabbit he named “Eddie Rabbit” thanks to our exposure to this. Wondering what happened to the little rabbit, as I made some of my last long-haul drives in the middle of the night between home & Gothenburg.

39. Irma Thomas – “Anyone Who Knows What Love Is (Will Understand)”

40. Townes van Zandt – “Be Here to Love Me”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E6NPj9M_p20
“Your eyes seek conclusion in all this confusion of mine/though you and I both know it’s only the warm glow of wine/that’s got you to feeling this way/but I don’t care I want you to stay/hold me and tell me you’ll be here to love me today”

41. Bertrand Belin – “Je parle en fou”

42. John Grant – “Down Here”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eViyPYJ2okc
“Cause what we got down here is oceans of longing/And guessing games, and no guarantees/And you work so hard to be in control/And now you’re laughing at yourself because you can’t let go”. For Roberto.

43. Still Corners – “Beginning to Blue”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TgEB3rY8ZGI
Lovely song anyway but its placement in the stunning second season of You’re the Worst, when you’re hit with the realization that the main character is descending into a deep, dark depression was perfect.

44. Philip Selway – “Coming Up for Air”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMxXmW1pqeU
For Kyle. “You hafta come up for aih(s) sometime”. Ugh/puke.

45. Robyn Hitchcock – “1974” …And as Nixon left the White House you could hear people say/’they’ll never rehabilitate that mother, no way’…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YVDDXFpVjNU
Robyn is just a magnificent storyteller, master of verbal imagery and a genius. Love! If “Boogie Shoes” was a grooveable 70s moment, this is a philosophical rumination on that ruinous and ugly decade.

46. Elvis Costello – “What Do I Do Now?”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VuJJBJHDUcY
Had to include this version, too, of course.

47. Alex Vargas – “Till Forever Runs Out”

48. The Cure – “A Strange Day” …Held for one moment I remember a song/An impression of sound/Then everything is gone/Forever…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4mym0EFKM8
For Gary, with whom it’s great to be back in contact. Here’s to the best moments of our teenage years.

49. New Edition – “Cool It Now”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZUq6N7Gx1c
I remember enjoying this video as a little kid – and then the tune turned up in the soundtrack to Master of None and I just had to include it.

50. Happyness – “Montreal Rock Band Somewhere”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hcwZ9EptZs
“What do you do when you hate all your friends?”

51. Tobias Jesso Jr – “Without You”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ybYYKBd_40
“I can hardly breathe without you/There is no future I want to see without you/I just don’t know who I would be without you/There is nothing out there for me without you…”

52. Koudlam – “See You All”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SYu3Y7JT810
I don’t know why, but this song is the right one for walking through the city and waiting in queues.

53. bigott – “Baby Lemonade”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=So7IharnjCs
“Like in the movies, she wake up dreaming/nothing is hiding/if you can find it…”

54. Giant Sand – “Stranded Pearl” …every girl is like a pearl/hearts strung along and then left stranded…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wcUKHnrTXzg
A great, visual, wordy song. “I lost me my eye in a battle/went there to rattle their cage/lost sight of the big picture/now this permanent fixture is my rage”. (Made me think a bit at the end of a Derek Walcott poem, “Codicil”, which ends, “All its indifference is a different rage.”)

55. The Staves – “Black & White”

56. Jordie Lane – “Fell Into Me”
Sounds very reminiscent of Neil Finn. Thanks to Nicki.

57. Ra Ra Riot – “Foreign Lovers”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=unmaQzVS9lw
“Well the one in Chicago wasn’t there anymore, and because that thing in Berlin wasn’t anyone’s fault… I got no idea what’s fair but I knew before – you got foreign lovers”. An insanely fitting song, stumbled on by accident. All the foreign lovers (and hilarious that Chicago and Berlin are the cities referenced…).

58. Niyaz – “Beni Beni”

59. Jaakko Eino Kalevi – “No End” …I guess it’s useless to say/I want you to stay…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HT6dDiQBPPI
The Guardian described Jaakko thusly: “tram driver in Helsinki by day, weird-pop maestro by night”.

60. All We Are – “Keep Me Alive” …I hear nothing at all but your breathing…

61. Fairport Convention – “Who Knows Where the Time Goes?”

As an adolescent, my friend Terra and I ‘discovered’ Fairport Convention, and it’s still something nice to listen to. When I listened to this again and reflected on the time that’s passed by since we were friends, and particularly since we were close and finding new music together, the song was particularly poignant and bittersweet.

62. Núria Graham – “Dark Past” …everybody’s got a dark past/but mine is just about to start…

63. David Bowie – “Cat People” … Just be still with me/You wouldn’t believe what I’ve been through…

64. Cousteau – “Last Good Day of the Year”

“When the summer’s light is fragrant/with scents of returning/you relent, you resent, now you’re burning/for nothing to change…”

65. Wire – “German Shepherds” …it’s beginning to and back again…

Song title made me think, in a very roundabout way, of the Paris attacks of November 2015. Following the attacks, the French government went on the offensive and a Belgian shepherd (like the one in the TV show Person of Interest) was killed during a raid, prompting the Russians to give a new dog to the French. Hmm. Then in March, of course, Belgium fell victim to yet another terror attack.

66. Pet Shop Boys – “Love is a Bourgeois Construct”

No sentiment could be truer. November 2015, driving around downtown Tacoma, with thanks to my brother, Kyle, on relationships: “That phase of my life is over.”

67. Vorderhaus – “Venus in Retrograde” …how do you really love/the truth is happening/it’s venus in retrograde/the dark affair within…
You know you want more: https://soundcloud.com/vorderhaus/

68. Townes van Zandt – “For the Sake of the Song” …nothing’s what it seems/maybe she’ll start someday to realize/if she abandons her dreams/then all the words she can say are only lies/when will she see that the gain is only to lose/all that she offers me are chains/and I got to refuse…

For ML. “Maybe she just has to sing for the sake of the song/who do I think that I am to decide that she’s wrong?”

69. The Paris Sisters – “I Love How You Love Me”

Dreamy.

70. Blur, Françoise Hardy – “To the End”

71. Primal Scream – “I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have” …I betrayed you, you trusted me, and I betrayed you…

Sometimes you realize that even when something is ostensibly done, you cannot fully move forward until you have let go completely of past things and people. The sad reminder of the last conversation, last realization/S.

72. Amanda Bergman – “Vintersaga”

For many reasons I put this here – it’s a Swedish story full of Swedish place, but it is also choice for its connection to dear Andreas, the value of musical recommendations, and to our many talks about ad copy and the fraudulent feeling of writing stuff without meaning, pop culture stuffing of ads & such.

73. David Bowie – “Where Are We Now?”

Constant striving for Berlin, which represents a constant striving for change.

74. Prince & the Revolution – “When Doves Cry”

What can I even say? If Bowie was a loss and a shock, the loss of Prince was an even greater shock. For me, Prince is always freshest, best and alive in the Purple Rain period. I fell in love with the first time I heard this one as a child. RIP.

75. Johnny Cash – “The Beast in Me”

A fitting ending, in many ways. For S. “God help the beast in me.”

Sexism, misogyny, racism and inequality in women’s sports

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The tension and irritation has been building up in me for a long time, even though I was unaware of its presence and imperceptible growth. I am not an athlete nor am I someone who has been vocally feminist for much of my life. I had a few conversations with former colleagues – women who were much older than me, who had been through some of the trials of being the only woman working in a completely male-dominated workplace (an air traffic control center). It’s not as though women are not expected somehow – still – to take notes and make the coffee, but back then it was not just understood but was blatantly stated as a requirement and not questioned. Fighting against these slights in daily work life has never been a conscious part of my life. But strides made by women who came before me paved the way for me not to have to think about such things (as well as the installation of automatic coffee machines!).

I believe wholeheartedly in equality for everyone – and I mean everyone – but when I undertook a master’s program in gender studies, the extremes of feminist theory put me off by being so anti-man. I have not personally suffered – to my knowledge – for being a woman, and I am sure that in some measure this is because I am a white woman who, in the Nordic countries where I live, blends into the scenery and enjoys the privilege that comes from so many different aspects of the accident of my birth and the conscious choice of where I live (which is another layer of privilege – having the choice to decide where to live and to go there).

Similarly Scandinavia conscientiously attempts to lead the way on matters of equality. It does not always succeed, sometimes tripping over itself trying to be “too fair” or politically correct and coming out looking foolish. But the thinking is in the right place. I also say that I have not “consciously” suffered because I don’t know that we are always aware of the things we are numb or indoctrinated to. While no man is outwardly making lewd remarks or insisting that I do something degrading or something that is anything other than equal to what he would do, there have probably been times that I was perceived or treated as “lesser than” because I am a woman. I have been blissfully ignorant to this, if and when it did happen, because my life has still been lived on my terms and has been relatively easy to boot.

Revealing this as my backdrop, I can’t really explain what incensed me and pushed me over the edge about sexism, misogyny and racism in women’s athletics. Not even looking at the flat-out stereotypes any longer (as though all women athletes must exist at caricature-like extremes, i.e. either women who appear as masculine, steroid-pumped sportsmen-lesbians from Cold War era East Germany or ultra-feminine, would-be fashion models who look cute in a short skirt). Either direction these stereotypes travel, they smack of objectification and are on display for the criticism and analysis of the world (and it’s not just men engaging in the bitterest criticism). Not because they are athletes in the public eye but because they are women.

We can see this dynamic quite publicly and visibly played out in the form of Bruce Jenner, former Olympic champion, who is now known as Caitlyn Jenner. As Bruce the athlete, no one would have questioned how he looked or would have sexualized his existence to the degree that all women athletes put up with today. And as Caitlyn, she is suddenly subject to this kind of scrutiny. Jon Stewart explained it best in a recent episode of The Daily Show. Now, suddenly, as a woman, Jenner’s worth is all tied up in her “fuckability” and her beauty.

This holds true for women athletes the world over. And when it is not explicitly about their bodies as objects, and how their bodies and fashion sense reflect on their character (!) or deservedness to win (!!) (e.g., when a Wimbledon winner (Marion Bartoli) is ripped to shreds because she is “too ugly and/or too fat” to win), it’s about the invisibility or lack of support for their sports. FIFA‘s (soon-to-be-former president) Sepp Blatter infamously remarked that women’s football might be more popular if they wore tighter/shorter shorts; Al Jazeera reported on the discrimination against female footballers in Brazil while The Atlantic reports that Brazil’s biggest male footballer makes 15 million USD a year, while its biggest female football star cannot find a team to play for. Al Jazeera and more recently John Oliver highlighted the sexist inequality of FIFA insisting that the women’s World Cup be played on artificial turf rather than grass.

All of this is frustrating but not quite the infuriating push I needed to get really angry. Instead, Serena Williams’s win at the French Open this weekend finally made me seethe with rage. Looking at her winning history, she is singularly the greatest female tennis player ever to play the game. Can she be recognized simply for these record-breaking achievements in athleticism and sporting victory? No.

No one is or has been (in recent memory) more susceptible to the powerful and ugly forces of sexism, misogyny, racism and inequality than Serena Williams.

If all female pro-athletes, particularly in a “demure” arena like tennis, are treated like sex objects who should be supermodels, what can we expect? And when the kind of racially charged, barely veiled racist language cues come into play on top of the sexism and objectifying, shouldn’t every woman be angry?

**Edited later to note that The Atlantic published a piece on French Open men’s champion, Stan Wawrinka, which states: “It’s that Wawrinka doesn’t look or comport himself like a Grand Slam champion. From his bright pink “pajama” shorts to his faintly dadboddish physique, the Swiss native looks more like someone you’d find at Home Depot than Roland Garros.” Finally someone jumps on what a man looks like and how he “comports” himself. Equality, right?

Halloween Random Gum soundtrack – Better late than never

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Everyone who knows me knows that I put together at least one “soundtrack” of the songs (i.e. “random gum that holds the year together” – here’s a link to all the previous soundtracks on Spotify) that popped up in one meaningful way or another during the year, put them on a CD and send them out the old-fashioned way via postal mail. Some years, I am organized and get the things in the mail early – this year, I got them done just in time to go out on American Thanksgiving. I had the track listing done ages ago but never had time to deal with the rest of the process – burning CDs, making the simple but nevertheless handmade (thus time-consuming) Halloween cards, printing out all the notes and track listings and folding it all up and shipping them. It also did not help that in the early days of my November vacation, a time I planned to devote to this card-production process, my internet connection went dead for several days, making the songs for the soundtrack out of reach (needed to download a good proportion of them). But finally – finally – the whole thing is finished.

scottish spring – troubled summer – falling down – getting up
random gum – 2014

The full playlist on Spotify (except for songs that don’t exist on Spotify).

Nine Inch Nails – “We’re in this Together” if the world should break in two/until the very end of me, until the very end of you
Had no idea when this year began how true the sentiment would be. “We will make it through somehow” “Even after everything/you’re the queen and I’m the king/nothing else means anything”. For S.

Charlotte Gainsbourg – “Hey Joe”
We didn’t know we needed a breathy Charlotte-sung, Beck-produced version of this song, but we did!

Angel Olsen – “High and Wild” you’re here, you’re here, but your spirit’s disappeared/off to some place that i don’t know, some human thing has squashed your soul
Another dark Berlin summer, emerging in the light. “You might as well be blind, cause you don’t see me anymore/And you, you can’t tell me that you love me, when I’m standing in your way”

Dum Dum Girls – “Take Care of My Baby”
For S, and getting through all the rough times and worries. Takes on unforeseen depth.

Le Prince Miiaou – “Hawaiian Tree”
For Aurélien, who long ago won the battle, in quality and number, of track-listing mentions.

Tennis – “It All Feels the Same”
“We could be good but we don’t live the way that we should/Constantly told we’re imperfect and cannot be good/Tired of waiting around for you to intervene/Tired of wishing that you even knew what I mean”. Pain and strain of repeated mistakes

Wild Flag – “Romance We love the sound, the sound is what found us/Sound is the blood between me and you
“Back when I had no story, nothing to form me/You got under my skin/You were my maker/my re-creator/My reason to live”

The Saints – “(I’m) Stranded”
For Stephen and those half-hour conversations (“wee chats”) that never lasted less than all night.

Sonic Youth – “Kool Thing” I just want you to know that we can still be friends
High school. “Are you gonna liberate us girls from male, white, corporate oppression?”

Angelique Kidjo – “Lay, Lady, Lay”
Angelique from Benin, one of those countries in Africa I learned about only incrementally

Crowded House – “Not the Girl You Think You Arethe bathroom mirror makes you look tall/but it’s all in your head
Always loved this song; takes on new meaning as life passes into new phases. “He won’t deceive you or tell you the truth/he’ll be no trouble. He won’t write you letters, full of excuses…”

Circuit Object – “Hollow Words”
For and by ML. Sometimes things just change, and we can’t do anything about it.

Tamaryn—“Violet’s in a Pool” the sound is moving in
Soundscape for late-night drives in western Sweden – evokes Bengtsfors, of all places!

Aimee Mann – “Amateur” I was hoping that you’d know better than that

Angel Olsen – “Stars” I wish I had the voice of everything
“To scream the feeling til there’s nothing left”. Such beauty…

Patti Smith – “Don’t Smoke in Bed”
“Take care of everything; I’m leaving my wedding ring, don’t look for me – I’ll get ahead. Remember, darling – don’t smoke in bed”. Elegiac words for the sad endings of sad entanglements

Damien Jurado – “Amateur Night” It’s me who made you/It’s me who will take you
“I am not an evil man/I just have a habit I can’t kick/It starts with an urge and ends with this/Hang up the phone, I ain’t finished yet”. Another song whose meaning deepens w/experience

The Smiths – “I Won’t Share You”
Toasting the end of my rural man harem and W, the Smiths-quoting filth peddler

Tadpoles – “Sunrise Ocean Bender”
This makes me feel like I am in the 1990s again.

Glasser – “Shape”
“And I look out longingly/over the beach./There’s an ocean making life/beyond my reach,/and the vastness is/too much for me to stand.”

Warpaint – “Love is to Die” I found a way/To look towards this day/But it all hooked up/This could only go one way/I’m not alive, I’m not alive without you

The Fall – “Life Just Bounces” life just bounces so don’t you get worried at all
An unusually warm and bright February day. Watched a BBC show about the mad, inimitable Mark E. Smith. Blasting The Fall on high all the rest of the live long day. For Naomi

Sydney Wayser – “Geographer”
It’s just beautiful

INXS – “Don’t Change” I found a love I had lost/It was gone for too long/Hear no evil in all directions/Execution of bitterness/Message received loud and clear
Beautiful and bittersweet nostalgia – tangentially thinking of Michael Hutchence, his late wife Paula and Paula’s late daughter Peaches… will tragedy ever stop dogging that family?

Rolling Stones – “Miss You”
For obligatory naked pre-Mogambo balcony dancing

Sonic Youth – “Youth Against Fascism” I believe Anita Hill/that judge will rot in hell
I still believe Anita Hill; pop culture references – some timeless, some a flash in the pan, some culture/country specific, made immortal in song.

Cat’s Eyes – “Over You” I’m over you/Soon I’ll be rid of you and your ways/And I’ll forget all those/wasted days/And I wonder what took me so long/to finally let you know that I’ve begun

Lia Ices – “Thousand Eyes” We are a starry sky/Gazing down with a thousand eyes/And we know that we go on
Multilayered beauty. “Flash your flood, set your fire/You were born to overflow/And we know that we go on”

Buried Beds – “Stars”
For S. You may come upon the blackest stone/What passage lies beyond is still unknown/And sleep won’t come, cause you never close your eyes/Like stars above us we are on fire”

Hefner – “Love Inside the Stud Farm” Girl, you’re a teaser/what on earth did I just do to deserve a girl like you?
“You don’t know what you’ve done to me, with that voice, with those eyes, with that smile, and that smell…” All those auspicious beginnings when things are perfect, before the unraveling of reality

Miriam Makeba – “Liwa Wechi – Congolese Lament
Much love to Zaki

Neneh Cherry featuring Robyn – “Out of the Black” I fear what’s gone before will come right back and slap me

XVIII Eyes – “I’ll Keep You”

Otis Redding – “I’ve Got Dreams to Remember”
“Nobody knows what I feel inside/all I know – I walked away and cried…”

The Boxer Rebellion – “Both Sides are Even” You don’t need a reason/For I know that what I’ve done is wrong/No one there to warn you/About the way that our moment’s gone
“These are my suspicions/And I’ll never know how this was a lost cause/And both sides are even/They are even and alone/Yeah, it’s the same/Right or wrong”

Angel Olsen – “Unfucktheworld” Here’s to thinking that it all meant so much more/I kept my mouth shut & opened up the door
“I wanted nothing but for this to be the end/For this to never be a tied and empty hand/If all the trouble in my heart would only mend/I lost my dream I lost my reason all again”

The Doors – “Love Her Madly”
For S. and poetic comparisons.

Robyn Hitchcock – “Everything About YouI love everything about you/I love your crooked smile/The way I try to please you/And have done for a while

Sonic Youth – “Wish Fulfillment”

George Jones – “The Grand Tour”
For S and the riding lawn mower future. This type of twangy country tune makes me laugh – the “woe is me/she left me” whining, but I don’t think for one minute that “she” left without cause.

The Hat, feat. Father John Misty, S.I. Istwa – “The Angry River”
“The awful cost of all we lost/As we looked the other way/We’ve paid the price of this cruel device/Till we’ve nothing left to pay”

Angel Olsen – “Hi-Five” But I’m giving you my heart, my heart/Are you giving me your heart?

The Kinks – “You Really Got Me”
Meant for playing at insanely loud volume

Angel Haze – “New York” calls from overseas like a motherfucking crusade
For Jill – finally leading the New York life. And for Annette, the vigilante! “I run New York”

Pulp – “Lipgloss”
For M, my lipgloss and girly-stuff provider extraordinaire

Nirvana – “Love Buzz” Would you believe me when I tell you/That you’re the queen of my heart?
20 years since Kurt Cobain died – hits harder now, in middle age, than when it happened

Sondre Lerche – “Bad Law” When crimes are passionate/can love be separate?

Travis – “All I Want to Do is Rock”

Wild Flag – “Something Came Over Me”
“Yeah, you were always headed down the wrong path/But you’ll be back, you’ll be back around/Summer’s creeping up slowly/We’re gonna let the good times, let the good times roll”

The Brian Jonestown Massacre – “B.S.A.” it’s gonna be a long cold winter/but I feel so warm when I’m in her arms
“She goes off like a shotgun/she’s got me begging on my knees/she’s like a kiss from Jesus/make me forget my disease”. An S song

Merry Clayton – “Gimme Shelter”
Proves that this should have been a woman vocalist all along

Belle & Sebastian – “Your Cover’s Blown”
For Jill. For Inga and days in the poopbarn when Boring Guy did not want to “blow my cover”.

Trentemøller – “Still on Fire”
Cool sound + opening to TV show Halt and Catch Fire

Robyn Hitchcock & the Egyptians – “Queen Elvis” People get what they deserve,/Time is round and space is curved./Honey, have you got the nerve,/To be Queen Elvis?

Sam Phillips – “I Can’t Stop Crying” In dream I scream but you can’t hear me calling you
Floods of tears when circumstances tear something or someone from your hands, your life

Angel Olsen – “Forgiven/Forgotten” all is forgiven/all right, you are forgiven
“If there’s one thing I fear/it’s knowing you’re around, so close but not here”

The Platters – “Twilight Time”
Memories of the old pre-internet days when wild goose chases ensued looking for songs we could not quite place. What on earth did we do without Google?

Townes Van Zandt – “Lungs”
The late, great Townes.

Roxy Music – “More than This”

The Handsome Family – “Far From Any Road”
“And rise w/ me forever across the silent sand/the stars will be your eyes & the wind will be my hands”

Barbara Lewis – “Baby, I’m Yours”
For S.

Aaron Neville with Linda Ronstadt – “Don’t Know Much”
My joke song with S, who does not know where his face is going. “And that may be all I need to know”

Neil Diamond – “Love on the Rocks”Love on the rocks/ain’t no surprise/just pour me a drink/and I’ll tell you some lies
Top-floor flat in Berlin; drunken torture and misery – hatching an escape plan. Traumatic memories of high school teacher and her laminated Neil Diamond posters

The Go-Betweens – “Quiet Heart” And what did I say that made you cry?/Our dream won’t die/Doesn’t matter how far you come/You’ve always got further to go

A Fine Frenzy – “Almost Lover” shoulda known you’d bring me heartache/almost lovers always do

Angel Olsen – “Windows” won’t you open a window sometime?/what’s so wrong with the light?

Sinéad O’Connor – “Just Like U Said It Would B” when I lay down my head/at the end of my day/nothing would please me better/than I find that you’re there

Gram Parsons/Emmylou Harris – “Love Hurts”
For S. and the tragic loss of the Gram Parsons shirt. At least there’s still “Yeah!” to wear.

Tomten – “Wednesday’s Children

Johnny Cash – “Hurt” And you could have it all/My empire of dirt/I will let you down/I will make you hurt
I don’t think I can listen to this again without crying; Berlin summer disaster and near endings

Moby with Damien Jurado – “Almost Home”

It’s Personal – Networking and Admitting Needs

Standard

There are about five million articles out there about “how to network”, “how to build a network” and use networking to find a job. Most of these articles are generic and repeat the same things. I am not going to echo the repetition. You can get some fairly good insight from a veritable library of online resources. But I am thinking that the right way to network is a personal journey. Articles can provide pointers, but the building process is about finding the right ways and means for you as an individual. It’s not a prefab house, after all.

About networking, I can say from a personal perspective that when it comes to advancing my own career, I am not a person who is skilled at networking in the social and schmoozy sense. I have friends who are pros at this, making personal and genuine connections almost immediately, and I am in constant admiration. (I can turn on the schmooze in a professional setting when it is not for my own gain or self-advancement because then it is impersonal.) I have largely been a highly productive, behind-the-scenes doer who believes that the work product speaks for itself. But this is not really true. After many years, I believe that both the network and the built-up work reputation are important. (Not that that is a mystery or rocket science – it is just that I think maybe many people struggle because they rely too heavily on one or the other. I have known some who schmooze their way into situations in which they are way over their heads; I have been guilty of relying too much on the work and not being as driven by relationships as I could be.)

In the early days of my freelance experience, this was one of my biggest hurdles. I did not even have a personal, let alone professional, network because I was working in a new country. I knew no one. But little by little I met one person here, one person there, I awkwardly dropped hints about needing to find work, and eventually I had a flow of freelance jobs coming in and, mostly by word of mouth, had more clients popping up. This happened because I worked hard, fast and usually overdelivered. People remembered me, both when they needed work done and when others needed work done. There is a lot to be said for willingness and the inability to say no. Bottom line, though – when there are personal stakes and personal interest – or some form of a relationship – networking is at its most effective.

As the Lifehacker articles I point to explain, networking requires a personal and genuine approach. This means that networking is a two-way street. I have needed help, but more than that, have been first in line offering my help to others in their own professional pursuits. You’ve got to give to get – and being able and readily willing to reciprocate actually improves the networking channels. Everyone needs a way to get their foot in the door.

For me, as for most introverts, it is incredibly hard to admit to needing help or even to making the kinds of connections one could eventually turn to for help. Another Lifehacker article cites a New York Times piece that tells introverts to force themselves into in-person meetings and into small talk. Any introvert would react with something like, “What fresh hell is this?” It is also a bit too much like cold-call sales versus the kind of networking I would prefer to do – which is both based on my work performance and my own quiet, observational analysis of people and situations. I eventually prove my value this way. My approach to networking is the long-game approach.

Lately, though it has been many years in the making, this approach has really begun to bear fruit. At this point, people are coming to me without my having asked for help or having reached out at all. My network has become so strong and trusted that it spreads on its own.

The positives are adding up, and the first step was finally coming to a point where I could speak up for myself to say I needed help. When I needed it, help was there. It is not unlike the incredible difficulty of admitting a need for love, really. The whole concept of surrendering to some need that you cannot completely fill for yourself invites vulnerability.

In a slightly unrelated matter, of course admitting and facing what we really need can also be comical!

We accidentally played a clip from the Al Jazeera America channel that was threatening to get inappropriately in depth about foreign policy. Obviously Al Jazeera America is new here and don’t know how we do things.” (From The Daily Show on 11 February)

We need real information and news, but we have managed to fool ourselves into thinking that we need to know the salacious details of politicians’ personal lives. We are blind and never focusing on the right things. And how this relates to what I started writing about in the first place? Well, we live in an era that makes heavy use of comparatives – and I spend too much time comparing, particularly the present against the past. And where that’s led me, now, is the path toward figuring out how to get beyond all the wrong triggers, targets and foci to get to who, what and where I need to be. And of course, in keeping with the generous and reciprocal nature of real and valuable networking, helping other people get to their right places as well.

Tennis – “It All Feels the Same