I’ve been staring at the blank page for some time now. Here, you look at some pancakes:
On Friday morning, Anthony Bourdain died by suicide in France, devastating news in many ways. If you’ve ever suffered depression, you know someone else’s suicide can make you think itchy, uncomfortable thoughts. I won’t go into difficult detail, in case you have suffered depression, but please understand: I know. Also: other people know:
Each Sunday, Pitchfork takes an in-depth look at a significant album from the past, and any record not in our archives is eligible. Today we explore the righteous anger of Hole’s 1994 album Live Through This.
Oh boy. Live Through This was the soundtrack for my years-long swan dive into the dark. It completely captured my rage, anguish and inability to make sense of my life.
…for Love, who watched grunge break through to the mainstream only to find that the freedom and rebellion it promised was reserved for her male counterparts. In grunge, men could be scruffy and rude and defy gender norms—they could be rawer than the men modeled in synth-pop music videos or hair metal concerts a few years prior. Women, for all the space afforded them in the subculture’s spotlight moment, might as well have been Lilith.
By then, I was already Lilith, flying off the edge of the earth (that link references Enid Dame, whom I knew and loved.)
The album’s pummeling opener “Violet” baits the ear with a jangling guitar tone cut from the same cloth as R.E.M., and then drummer Patty Schemel churns the song into a fury. “Go on, take everything/Take everything/I want you to,” howls Love, her bitterness oxidized into defiance.
In a second profile of Love, published in 1995, Vanity Fair conducted the first-ever interview with the singer’s mother, the therapist Linda Carroll. “Her fame is not about being beautiful and brilliant, which she is,” Carroll said. “It’s about speaking in the voice of the anguish of the world.” That the anguish of the world would have a female voice was an idea new to the music industry. It’s still new. Love makes a bid for universality on Live Through This in that it’s hard not to get swept up in her energy, but she also acknowledges that female pain is marked, that it is compartmentalized and dismissed because it is felt by women, not people.
Siobhan, between jobs briefly and camping on my couch, saw me come home from a terrible job to a failed relationship in a disastrous living situation, howling this song and remarked, “Oh good, you have an anthem.” Violet was my anthem, but when I lost my home, my memory, my artwork and my man, it didn’t seem incidental that I also lost my singing voice and my ability to write by hand after decades as a prolific journal writer. I lost everything I recognized about me. Essentially, I spent four years in absolute darkness, six years building a new self and a new life, and the last eleven years teaching myself how to learn again, and a new way of living without much of a past.
This morning, I listened to Live Through This to find out how I felt, more than twenty years later. Busy at work, I found there were songs I didn’t remember and songs I wished I’d heard recently. Credit In the Straight World is a fantastic song. I have little idea what the lyrics are about, but I love the jangly, swooping guitar sounds and Love’s voice skimming their surface like a skipping stone. “I don’t really miss God, but I still miss Santa Claus,” from Gutless, for my money, sums up Love’s ambivalence about men and authority figures. God punishes the people He supposedly loves, and giver-of-gifts Santa has no respect for personal boundaries. Either one could have behaved a little better if he tried, but at least Santa leaves presents.
Live Through This was released four days after Kurt Cobain’s suicide. On She Walks On Me, Love sings:
Hold you close like we both died
My ever present suicideMy stupid fuck, my blushing bride
Oh tear my heart out, tear my heart out
She walks over me
Lately, I feel like I get to the end of the day and wonder where the freaking time went. Did I blog? Did I make cat blankets? Did I finally make an appointment with a dentist? Maybe, maybe not. Did I place a grocery order or call my congresscritters? Did I spend enough time with each cat and all the chickens? Did I turn the composter or read a book? Take pictures for the blog or make my breakfast for tomorrow morning? I have so many questions. As I write, Wednesday snores at my right and Drusy is trying to crawl under my laptop. My left ankle is mildly sprained for the hundredth time and it’s no big deal. My job is full of weird palace intrigue, uncertainty and people I love. Two of my closest friends are ill and if my wits had an end, I’d be a mile past that with my thumb out, hoping to hitch a ride home.
It’s time for something different. A change of seasons, a change in the garden, in the animals, in me. I don’t know what will happen. For once, that’s kind of cool.
My final exam is Tuesday night and I’ve reached a sort of saturation point. I’m having trouble telling similar ASL signs apart. I’m probably in grave danger of starting fights in the wrong bars.
I’ve spent my Fourth of July studying, digging up potatoes and prodding the other chicken to leave the coop. Apparently, Other Chicken is trying to hatch an egg, which cannot happen without a rooster. That is the kind of help we do not need.
It’s drizzling tonight. I’m trying to be reasonable about taking and exam and not punishing myself for losing a couple of points here and there. There is literally nothing at stake for me. My career will not change. My work will not be affected. I am not going to get some dream job if I finished a degree. So I can relax and do my best, letting the chips fall where they may.
Yeah. That’s going to happen.
The raccoons have been gently evicted from the eaves of our house and relocated to a more rural locale. We hope for the best for them, but at least one did not have the best survival instincts. Fingers crossed, they live long, happy lives, full of delightful and mysterious leftovers. We hope so, but they couldn’t stay here. Pete found one of the babies inside the chicken run, nibbling chicken food, near very alarmed chickens, so that had to be the end of that.
I have one more week of American Sign Language class. Earlier this evening, I suddenly realized I’d acquired enough of the basics to tell a story. As you know, stories are my thing; being able to tell a story is kind of hip, kind of cool, kind of Charlie. Tomorrow, I’m going to tell a story in class, which would be much like tearing off my Foster Grants to reveal my superhero identity, but since I am a middle-aged person, I have zero doubt my young classmates will notice a bird, a plane, Superman.
So, I was pushing through things with my head down – my laptop is dying and I’m saving up for a replacement – when I suddenly realized April is nearly over and Poor Impulse Control is a gangly twelve year old. While I’m relieved that the blog doesn’t need braces, it’s still exasperating. What am I going to do with it? Where should I go now? I’ve given it a whole lot of thought and re-registered with the unnamed university. The application process, the counseling meetings, the phone calls have all offered daily tests of my resolve, and I didn’t know I had that. This has been very damned unnerving and I haven’t started having those naked/missed exam dreams yet.
On the other hand, a twelfth anniversary was worth marking. Faced with the choice between murdering me or setting up a blog so I’d write, Paulie Gonzalez set up Poor Impulse Control and demonstrated tremendous restraint. As thanks, I sent him a lovely port wine from Unionville Vineyards last week and hope he has a serene weekend. Thanks, Paulie, you mad charmer!
With good luck, I should acquire a new laptop pretty soon and posting should be easier, my stories should be lemony fresh and springy. And that’s good because no matter how it whines that all the other blogs have them, I’m not buying the blog heels.