This one’s called I Was So Stressed All Month That All I Listened To Was Songs I Used To Be Obsessed With In Middle School And Totally Forgot Existed. There was quite a lot of BOY and No Doubt and Candypants that didn’t make the cut because they definitely would’ve made this playlist even more embarrassing than it already is—and the first song is a Spongebob reference, so that’s a pretty high bar.
February began with the ghost of Emily Dickinson stabbing me in the heart with an envelope. I think she was trying to tell me something, possibly to warn me that I would feel like I’m having a heart attack 24/7 for the last week of the month, in which case message received (albeit belatedly).
It has come to my attention that you have officially received your invitation to the 90th Academy Awards ceremony at the Dolby Theatre, March 4th. First, let me congratulate you. I know a lot of people who directed their combined cosmic energy in support of your nomination and win, and I can only assume you yourself expended some of your undoubtedly expansive cosmic energy in that direction as well. This is a big deal! Congrats!
Now, of course, the question of how to present yourself at the awards arises. Mr. Stevens, you are well-known for your eclectic style, whether that be musically or… well, let’s just say visually. I’m sure you’ve been mulling over this conundrum yourself! Do you go for the classic “recently-brought-to-life animatronic petting zoo museum dummy” look, or perhaps something with more feathers? You are a man of many talents, Mr. Stevens! What aspect should you present here, in front of the eyes of the cinematic public? Which of your many hats should you don, either figuratively or literally, as it may be?
What follows is a few of my ideas as to how you may best translate some of your best selves in preparation for thanking the Academy.
Again a weird month, half here, half somewhere else. Twice over the past two months have I been getting on a plane and referred to it as “flying home,” despite the fact that the trips were headed in the complete opposite directions from each other.
But regardless, January, starting over, new beginnings, etc., etc.. I don’t feel so much like I’ve changed in the crossover between months. The main change has been that I got a new laptop battery for the first time since I got it in 2013 and wow, is it nice.
Anyway, pre-order Twin Fantasy, the world’s best gay ass record and already the highlight of February, online now.
It’s a new year, huh? Strange. Usually by the end of December I’m begging for the year to be over already or preemptively mourning it, but for some reason I feel like 2017 isn’t done yet for me. Not for lack of trying—so much happened this year, for better and for worse. Despite losing a good chunk at the beginning to the blurry mess that was my life post-election, a lot of shit happened this year. I went back to therapy, started medication (for all that it’s done so far), applied to GWU, got in, moved halfway across the country to live on my own, and throughout all that wrote like mad. And yet it still doesn’t seem like enough.
I’m trying to be a kinder person. For twenty serpentine my main zag was being overtly positive, refining my particular brand of comforting nihilism into something more optimistic in the face of a hundred million terrible things threatening to crumble the world around me at any moment. I tried to be nicer to strangers. I made more of an effort to reach out to people first, which is really hard for me. I told people I loved them more often. Hell, I even picked up litter. It feels good, in a way I’m unaccustomed to—for so long sarcasm has been my default, and that’s not to say it isn’t still, but I’m trying not to be so… mean.
I started making these monthly playlists December 2016. Even typing out that date feels so alien, and looking back at every song it’s amazing to watch it all develop. I can pinpoint exact moments (“Here’s where I watched The West Wing again, I remember listening to this when this happened, here’s when everyone else started listening to Sufjan,” etc.) and chart changes, watch my music taste coalesce into what it is today. I can spot the exact introductions of some of my now favorite artists and songs I was listening to before something ordinary but lovely happened. There are reminders of bands and friendships turned sour, and those hurt, but there’s more happy memories besides. It’s like a musical scrapbook, and I’d like, every year, to be able to look back further and further and be reminded of as many small happy things as possible.
That’s all it is, really. Small happy things to hold on to. I’m learning to appreciate those things (re-learning how to wonder and enjoy and marvel) and trying to help other people make those small happy things.
The world is mean enough. I want to make it better. I guess that’s what 2017 was all about, for me. I’m going to try for 2018 too.
Good riddance adolescence! Goddamn, I do not miss you. I’m not saying you were all of you awful (here’s looking at you, fifteen, you killed it) but I am glad to be rid of teenagerhood. Plus, twenty is a wonderful number, and I get to have it for ten whole years. Now that is what I call a great gift.
And speaking of great gifts, this month we have THE GREATEST GIFT or, as it is, The Greatest Gift, the newest edition of Sufjan Stevens’ songs about maternal grief that was released on my birthday. The greatest gift is loving your friends? Hell yeah.
As it stands, though, loving your friends is hard when they’re all far away. Instead, I have turned my attention to drinking a lot of coffee and staring lovingly at my stack of birthday cards. Persuasion has been newly minted as my favorite Jane Austen novel, I saw the Brennan clan for the first time in six years, The Bright Sessions is really truly back, and I fought off the first creeping hints of “the holiday season” and managed to accidentally schedule myself an extension on two papers. Score.
Has it only been thirty-one days? It feels like at least twice as many. Reading back over September feels like looking in on an entirely different person—well, not exactly, but close enough. One that figured the inability to concentrate was an annoying but mild affliction and not something that would make midterms even more of a living hell than they are usually. One that thought things were getting a bit overwhelming but they were treading water and it was alright. One that wasn’t really prepared for things to get any worse.
September Keaton didn’t know the half of it, is what I’m saying. October Keaton… Well, October Keaton learned that. Or learned that that was the reality, if not necessarily how to deal with it. Really October Keaton just watched a lot of scary movies and tried not to swallow too much seawater. And over-empathized with Frankenstein’s monster.
And as for Halloween being shoved down my throat? I walked into my regular coffee shop this morning and they’d gone full Christmas overnight, so we’ve entered the big leagues now.
T-23 days until K-Day.
(November 24th is my birthday, is what I’m saying.)