A sense of holding your breath – “Broke” by Modest Mouse


Every morning I wake up and I am terrified. I wake up and I am frightened and scared and worried. About everything.

Please, spare me the comments about self-pity. And spare me your pity.

I wake up afraid because I am so committed to what I do. To an extent, I want this. I care, people, is what I am saying.

I take this fear as a challenge, as an invigoration, as a way to remind myself that I am on a path that I am attempting to carve. We all take this challenge.

In the morning I wake up and I am alone but that does not make me cry. What makes me cry is when I stop being the individual that I am. You can be yourself with someone else just as easily when you’re not, I have come to find, so I am not as averse to the idea as I once used to be. It can be nice with someone that makes you smile. Quite nice.

The trick is when there are those that blot out your sensibility. Your presence.

So being alone in my bed, with the streaming light making the room musty with dust particles, my mind going in three thousand different directions and the silence of morning surrounding me, I am happy.

But yes, maybe I could do without the fear. Or some of it. I’m not sure.

There are so many people that tell me that I need to stop worrying. They try to do things for me to “calm my nerves,” like their actions are oh! Charity! Oh how generous of you for trying to change me!

I know that not everyone is trying to change me. Sometimes I use that excuse as a defense mechanism that I have built up over the years. I get annoyed, frustrated, irritated. You want me to find a diagnosis so I make your life easier? So you can follow a little booklet in your mind?

But there are those that understand, those that know where I am coming from. They know that yes, this is difficult on me. I’m part of the pressure. I sometimes play a tug o’ war with their offerings of insight. But those who do care have a way of exposing their genuine nature. I know when you mean it.

It’s just addictive to push yourself. I know I can do it. I just know.

But it’s when I look up into the sky to forget about the scuttling about on the ground when I realize that I’ve been holding my breath; I didn’t even know that I was doing it. And I just stop and I lazily let my eyes drop and my shoulders fall and I breathe in, breathe out. I look at the clouds and I feel so much bigger than the screened devices we put our souls into, our eyes glued to them.

Something I have to stop doing is to keep apologizing, apologizing, apologizing because that’s another excuse. Why am I saying sorry? Laziness? I know how I am, so when my hands feel like pins and needles and I waver on my emotional scale, I can immediately offer up my actions as a grievance. It puts the weight off, just for a little bit. But it’s not helping anything in the long run.

My favorite Modest Mouse songs are “3rd Planet” and “Broke.” I’ve been listening to “3rd Planet” since about junior year of high school. “Broke,” though, I found last semester and, man, not a better time. It’s so easy to think of yourself as broken, so in those moments in which I wanted a blanket of melancholia over me, “Broke” satisfied some weird anguish I have to find the most depressing songs, like, ever.

But it’s not helping anything to think of yourself as broken, even if you are, even if you’re not. Don’t ever let yourself think there is something fundamentally wrong with you. You’re supposed to be living as yourself for the rest of your life, right? So you’re just going to keep letting yourself think that you’re a force of distress, that you can’t quite do anything right? No wonder you don’t breathe often.

Let yourself be human because that’s what you are. You’re a person, and there’s a lot of different types of people out there.

Wake up and don’t be afraid. Wake up and be alert for the opportunities you have to change your life. Or, there is a simple grace in consistency and healthiness that cannot be overlooked. That alone might be the change enough that you need.

I wake up and I am afraid but I’m working on being less afraid and more just a force of energy. I want my compassion to not make me sick to my stomach from thinking about everything I could be doing wrong. I want my compassion to be my thruster, let me leap out of my bed and I jump to! Here’s the day, and here’s all I can do.

Here’s what I can give back.

Playlist #1: Traveling

travel playsj

When you’re packing to go traveling, you need a good playlist to keep you steady through your adventures.

I’m about to spend a summer in New York City and a semester in London, UK. I’ve always dreamed of living in these places. I’ve been to both cities a few times, but now I’ll be able to really look around, see what these places have aside from the tourist experience. Also, next semester I’ll be able to travel outside of the UK to other countries.

I’ve always loved traveling and going to new areas, be it in the United States to destinations such as Sitka, Alaska or Yellowstone National Park, cities in Canada such as Toronto, or various places in Europe, such as Glasgow, Scotland, Barcelona, Spain, or Nice, France.

These songs listed are memories and dreams – both the types of songs associated with different travels, and songs that inspire me to keep visiting different corners of the world.

Also, you can listen to the playlist on Spotify – Travel playlist

1. Road to Nowhere – The Talking Heads

Great song to get pumped for the journey. Also, it kind of has that “travel for the sake of traveling” kind of vibe. Also it speaks to me on a deeper level as I get lost a lot… so I’m constantly on roads to nowhere… literally.

2. Thunder Road – Bruce Springsteen

This one has a special place in my heart. I’d listen to this in middle school and think of all of the different places I was going to go to. I guess I can tell my younger self I was able to do it. That’s kind of a cool feeling.

3. Who Are You – The Who

This one is a simple one. Just watch that one scene from Louie and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

4. Ocean Breathes Salty – Modest Mouse

I have a memory of me listening to this song on the plane ride over to Scotland to visit some family friends. I think this is a self-conjured memory, though, as I visited Scotland in middle school and I didn’t start listening to Modest Mouse until high school. But I still like to have that fake memory.

5. Let Me Entertain You – Robbie Williams

Okay, so this one illusionist on a cruise I was on did this crazy trick where he was sitting on a motorcycle on stage and then there was a flash of light and then he appeared from behind the audience riding the motorcycle. I thought it was the coolest thing ever. And – he did it all with this song playing in the background.

6. Pomp and Circumstances – Smashing Pumpkins

Another song from a cruise experience – this one is a bit more artsy-fartsy. My favorite thing to do was sit on the deck, draw in my sketch book, and just blast Zeitgeist, straight through. I don’t even really remember drawing all that much – I just really dug Smashing Pumpkins and looking out onto the sea.

7. Postcards from Italy – Beirut (not on Spotify)

I’m a postcard collector and sender – I love receiving postcards and I’ll send them out, even if it’s from school. They’re just fun little things, I feel. That and I have more motivation to write a postcard than an actual letter.

8. The Winner Is – DeVotchKa & Michael Dyanna (not on Spotify)

From Little Miss Sunshine, one of my favorite movies and a fantastic road movie. I loved the sense of realism – how hot they looked in that car is definitely something my family has experienced with our annual trips down to the gulf in Alabama. That and I really dig Greg Kinnear’s dad socks.

9. Satellite – Dave Matthews Band

The first time I watched the sun rise was in a coach bus on the way to Disney World with my high school’s marching band. I woke up kind of early and put on this song and watched the sun lift above the trees. A really peaceful moment.

10. California One/ Youth And Beauty Brigade/ Ask – Colin Meloy

This is from his solo album after Castaways and Cutouts came out. I remember sleepily listening to this for the first time on the plane ride to Boston as I was visiting colleges. I liked the song so much that I listened to it again and fell asleep to it.

11. Manhattan – Kings of Leon

The first time I visited New York City, I got the flu. It was my freshman year of high school. During a performance of Curtains, the show featuring David Hyde Pierce (whom of which I was an aficionado of at the time), I threw up. I was determined to finish watching the show, so my body held it together for the second act. The next few days I spent recuperating in a hostel near Central Park. So, my initial impression of the city was a less than pleasant one at best. I went back my junior year, though, and immediately liked it better. I liked it so much that I decided to go to school in New York with the hopes of eventually living in the city. Funny how some things work out.

12. Belongings – Clock Opera

I had traveled around my whole life, sure, but moving? That was a newer concept to me. The only time I had moved in my life was when I was 8 months old. Moving to college was big for me. The weeks leading up to the move were emotional, as I was starting to realize how much I was going to miss everyone. This song describes that feeling perfectly.

13. Wake Up – Arcade Fire

As much as I was realizing I was going to miss people away at school, I also was ecstatic to go to SU. It was the place I had really wanted to go, and I was entering a major I was stoked for (I mean – how much fun does something like “Television-Radio-Film” sound?). This song was in the background of a welcome video Syracuse played at one of the prospective days. It became my anthem for getting psyched about going to school.

14. Rivers and Roads – The Head and The Heart

I listen to this song whenever I’m homesick. Not really about “home,” though, more about people. So, when I’m in Syracuse, it’s when I’m thinking about all of the people I miss in Chicago. Now, after two very full years at Syracuse, I listen to it and I miss the people that I met at school. I’m sure I’ll listen to it off in NYC and London on those days when I miss home in all of its forms.

15. England – The National

I’m a bit of an anglophile. Ever since Monty Python and the Holy Grail, I’ve loved British culture, art, music, comedy, drama, you name it. Last year, second semester of freshman year, I was starting to realize that I was getting closer and closer to when I could apply to study abroad. Listening to this song with the snow swirling all around inspired me to keep that dream going. It’s been something I’ve wanted to do my whole life, and I can finally go to the place I’ve always wanted to study in less than 100 days.

16. Gotta Knock A Little Harder – The Seatbelts

I listened to this going to and from Breckinridge, Colorado. On the way up the mountain, it was to pump me up for a trip of epic skiing. On the way down, it was a sense of relief that I was able to survive a horrible bout of altitude sickness and still be able to get some skiing in.

17. From Finner – Of Monsters and Men

I just really like how this song talks about how you can be miles and miles away from home and yet still be really, really happy. I feel like that’s something I’ve felt with a lot of different places I’ve visited, and especially with Syracuse.

18. Loud Pipes – Ratatat

Coolest song to blast while wearing awesome shades and driving your car. In my case, it’s a boxy, green Honda Element. Epitome of classiness.

19. Going to California – Led Zeppelin

I’d really like to study in LA, and it’s something I’m going to try to do within the year. Also, I think that this would be the perfect song listen to while looking out the window, driving.

20. Weather With You – Neil Finn

A great sort of send-off song – it reminds me of the Irish Blessing. So to all of those who are planning on traveling or like to travel: may the weather be with you!