Thursday, February 25, 2010

Misery loves company

I have no idea who said that. I have no idea where I heard it. And I most certainly have no idea why people keep saying it.

It's one of the biggest lies that I've ever heard -- not far behind "I promise this will only hurt for a second" and "I want to be friends."

Let's just think about this for a second. Misery doesn't love company. Miserable people don't love company. Misery loves distraction!

Logically: Do depressed people like being around other depressed people? (I mean, maybe, but that's not because of company, that's because depressed people don't make you work through depression, they enable you to stay depressed.) With the possible exception of funerals, do you want to cry with someone, or do you want someone whose shoulder you can cry on?

I know I can only speak with absolute certainty on behalf of a small population whose numbers are equal to the person typing this right now, but I know that when I'm down, the last thing I want is to hear about my friends' problems, too. In fact, if you tell me about your problems, I'll probably just feel guilty that I'm in a place that I am too self-absorbed to help you through your troubles. If you try and have your misery give my misery a companion, my misery gets joined by my guilt. And I don't have enough chairs for misery and guilt to sit at the table together. (Especially when my bad metaphors are taking up 3 or 4 chairs of their own.)

What does my misery want? It wants distraction! It wants happiness to come -- even from without, rather than within -- to help push him away. Misery doesn't love company, misery doesn't love itself, misery just doesn't love.

When I'm down and someone I'm close with has something positive to say, I say I'm jealous, and they feel the need to say "if it makes you feel any better..." and then they tell me a situation that they are in or went through similar to mine, I cannot help but think (and usually say): "How does this make me feel any better? How is you feeling crappy supposed to make me feel any better? I'd rather have one crappy-feeling person than two!"

So stop feeling guilty for being happy when someone else is miserable! Sympathy is good. Empathy is good. But so, too, is distraction. Sometimes you can be the proverbial hot air balloon taking off while someone else grabs on to the rope and starts to lift off.

Now I know some of you are going to tell me that "misery loves company" is really saying that when miserable, it is best to be in the company of others. And you may be right, this may be the actual intended meaning of the cliche, but I don't read it that way.

But even if you do read it that way, I think it's safe to say that distraction is the best kind of company for misery to keep.

So I say unto everyone out there: Strike down "Misery loves company." Join me in rewriting the cliche to actually have truth in it: Misery loves distraction!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Meteorological Optimism

I pretend to be an optimist sometimes.

Well, it's rare. I consider myself a realist, and reality seems to have leanings towards pessimism, but I still always try to be an optimist in order to stay sane. (Though I'm usually laughing at the absurdities of life when I sound the most optimistic and upbeat.)

When it comes to weather, I typically manage to make the best of it.

Snow? That means fun times catching snowflakes on my tongue and making smiley faces on car windows.
Really cold? At least it isn't snowing!
Oppressive heat? Makes me (Let's be honest; this city is horrible in oppressive heat. Not only do I have no air conditioner in my apartment, but the city has a smell to it that is only describable as "ew" when the air gets too heavy.)

Today, it was pouring. When it rains hard in the winter, I always say that at least it's warm enough to rain.

And you know what they say: "If it's warm enough to rain, it's warm enough to smile!"

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Reflection on depression

I've been doing some reflecting on where my life has taken me over the last few years. (Me? Introspective and reflecting on something? That must mean today's date ends in a number!)

I actually was going to post something along these lines last week for my 3 year blogoversary, but I opted not to. But anyway...

There have been a number of relatively major events in my life the past few years (in no semblance of order): Employment; getting a place without a roommate; graduating from undergrad; starting law school; relationships; breakups; injuries; and so on. But the one major thing that has changed me was my battle with depression.

While depression itself was horrible, it is clear that, on balance, I like myself better after depression than before. I like how I interact with the world better. I like my perspective better now. I like my broadened ability to communicate and understand people. I even like the fact that depression is what helped escort me out of being a practicing musician and ushered me into law school in hopes of being a part of the business side of the industry.

(I do not like how I interact with myself now as compared to pre-depression, however. I find that I have much less self-confidence, self-assurance, and a more fragile sense-of-self as compared to before, but my insecurities are for a discussion of another time, likely non-blogosphere'd)

I find that depression has completely helped shape who I have become. As I've watched friends talk about and go through battles of their own, I can't help but be a little bit thankful that I've gone through it. I relate to it. I can help -- not because I actually can help, but because I can empathize as well as sympathize and can be not just a shoulder to cry on, but a shoulder that's been through the fire.

As for interacting with those who go through it or have gone through it, I was struck by something today when having a conversation with someone with whom I had not had a conversation with in years, and most certainly have not interacted with since even entering depression, let alone exiting. In giving the readers digest version of my last few years, I mentioned my battle with depression -- which I usually do, because it is impossible to fully explain how I went from where I was to where I am without it. Her response to the words "battled depression" was "I'm sorry."

Now for better or worse, my response to someone talking about depression is usually not "I'm sorry." Maybe it's because I do not feel pity, as I am not sorry that I went through depression since I think it changed me for the better. Maybe it's because I know that "I'm sorry" is usually empty language that we're taught to say. But usually, it's because I'm too busy saying "are you okay now?" or "is there anything I can do?" or, if it's someone with whom I'm really close, asking about their battle and their story. (I am, as we've determined, a story whore, after all...)

In line with my dark sense of humor, this person mentioned the process of trying to figure out life. I couldn't help myself; I said: "Might I recommend depression? It's a great way to find yourself."

I lost myself for a while, but I've found myself, and I'm happy with where I am. I wouldn't be here without depression, and i wouldn't have found myself without it, either.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


I am not what one would call a physically gifted pianist. I never have been. I've always been better in my head than in my fingers. That's kind of why I became a composer.

But one thing I have always had a penchant for ballads -- both playing and listening. It may stem from the fact that my childhood piano is a piano from 1920 with worn out hammers and dull strings rendering it non-responsive to up-tempo bop playing and perfect for ballads. That may be the cause, or that may just be a happy coincidence. My lack of technical prowess is such that I can still (or only?) express myself how I want to express myself through lower tempo'd music.

Calling a ballad at a jam session doesn't win many friends, and showing off your ability to play rubato doesn't exactly win the women. But it most certainly makes me happy.

And in the end, isn't that what music is about? Joy through self-expression?

So turn the metronome down, close your eyes, and Slowly. Surely. And beautifully. But most of all, slowly.

Three years

This week marked my three-week blogoversary. (I know that some of you out there -- I'm thinking of you, Matt and Jeff -- 3 years isn't that much, but that doesn't make my 3 years any less...well...whatever it is.)

It's actually be an incredibly transformative 3 years for me. It's been a pleasure to write through it all. There have been a lot of writings I have refused to press "publish" on, but that's for the better.

I really don't have anything insightful, or even funny, to say about it. I just wanted to point it out.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Washing of the Water

I've spoken about this song before.

Everything I said still holds true. But I came across this version of it this morning and am re-obsessed.

Note the fact that Peter Gabriel is not particularly wonderful as a singer or a keyboardist, but the complete raw emotion comes through.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Bad Dates

I've been on a number of bad dates in my life. None of them I'm going to talk about here.

I am, however, going to say that they are all better than this date that Woody Allen spoke about in his bit "Vegas" from 1964. (If you want to hear it rather than just read it, email me and I'll gladly send you an .mp3.)


Y'see I'm not a gambler, you should know that about me. I went to the racetrack once in my life and I bet on a horse called Battle Gun, and when all the horses come out, mine is the only horse in the race with training wheels. You have to believe me when I say, that there is something seductive about me, when I shoot crap. And I'm at the crap table, I'm...dicing. A very provocative woman comes up to me, and she begins to...size me up...and I take her upstairs to my hotel room. Shut the door. Remove my glasses. Show her no mercy. I unbutton my shirt, and she unbuttons her shirt. And I smile. She smiles. I remove my shirt and she removes her shirt. And I wink and she winks. And I remove my pants. She removes her pants. And I realize I'm looking into a mirror.


Back when I was collecting material for my podcast, a woman sat down and told me her story of overcoming illness and letting god into her life. (I shared this story with my class, but did not publish the final product anywhere since she made it quite clear that she did not want her voice in public.)

Her story moved me. Not because I, myself, am a person of faith -- in fact, I may be quite the opposite. My faith is something I am constantly struggling with. But that's not the point. Her story moved me because of her and how she framed preached faith to me -- understandingly.

She started by sitting down and asking me if I am a person of faith. even though the answer is a clear 'no' in my mind, I struggled answering this question, partially fearing that if I'd say 'no' she would start to preach, and partially because I feared that if I answered improperly, she would not share her story with me, and we all know that I'm a little bit of a story hoarder.

She could see me struggling, so she cut me off. "Do you have faith in anything?"

I quickly answered, "I have faith in the people around me."

She smiled, and lovingly said, "That's all you need."

I occasionally find myself jealous of those people who are, in fact, people of faith. I'd like to believe in some higher power. I'd like to feel like I'm part of something other-worldly. But when I find myself getting jealous, I only have to remember this woman, who truly believes she was taken out of the grasp of death and paralysis by god and brought back among the functioning.

If she is convinced that all you need is faith in the people around you, then I'm proud to say that I am a person of faith. I have faith in the world around me. And y'know what? That's all I need.