How am I different

In this article I want to share with you one of my favourite musicians Aimee Mann and to discuss what her work means to me and how important it is for understanding mental health.

When I was about 20 years old I watched this film called “Magnolia” and it touched my soul. The feel of the film is very sad but contains some of the best drama I have ever seen on film. The film has some big stars like Tom Cruise, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Juliane Moore. One of the elements of the film that attracted me was the music. On investigating this I found out that the director of this film Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights) was in love with Aimee’s music and so he asked her to score the entire film using her music. The music was like nothing I had ever heard so that inevitably led me to look through her catalogue of music.

I started with an album called “Batchelor No.2” which I believe to be one of the best albums I own. In this album Aimee doesn’t just give you music, she gives you a window to her own personal fears and anxieties. Many music critics have described the music as raw because it has a lot of depressing lyrics though the melodies are not always in a minor tone.

If you are the sort of person who has an inner dialogue that criticises you and tells you you’re not good enough like I do then you can hear this argument in her music. Aimee isn’t always writing about herself she plays the parts of different characters and can be offering advice too.

Lost in Space is one of my favourite go to albums when I’m feeling a bit low. The album is about people who have a drug dependency. Aimee would compare taking taking heroin to being lost in space. The album has a number of fascinating rhymes which really stretch the imagination. Aimee once rhymed “Margaret Thatcher” with “Compound Fracture”. For me the most moving track on this album is titled “Its not” which I have included an excerpt of below:

“So here I’m sitting in my car at the same old stop light. I keep waiting for a change, but I dont know what.

So red turns in to green turning into yellow, and I’m just frozen here on the same old spot.

And all I have to do is to press the pedal, but I’m not, no I’m not”

I find these lyrics beautiful and very clever in the way they play with metaphor to describe a feeling we all have in life. Hidden expectations we are all expected to live up to. People around us who all seem to know the right way to live their lives and know all of the choices they need to make it happen.

I think if you don’t like to think about your music then this isn’t for you, and if you’ve never dabbled in self deprecation then this perhaps isn’t for you but I’d try it anyway. This music might be downbeat but it sends an important message that we’re not alone in how we feel.

I recently found out bizarrely that Aimee in the past lent her vocals to Canadian rock trio Rush for their famous single “Time Stands Still”. Aimee also plays the girl who had her toe chopped off in the Coen Brothers film “The Big Lebowski”

Mental Illness is Aimee’s new album and lends itself to the territory of how people with mental illness cope in their day to day lives. I haven’t yet fully explored the content but I’m excited for what new fruit will come from it.

Aimee is still touring, I had the pleasure of seeing her in London and picked up a signed copy of Charmer. Aimee is such a bright and funny woman that you might not think she is capable of writing such sad music but perhaps this is one of those ironies in life, the funniest can often be the saddest inside. Please give Aimee’s music a try and let me know what you think.

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What I hate most about you

Have you ever read a great book? You know, the kind of book where it is so thrilling that you can’t put it down? You are taken on a journey and it is exciting! When you have finally finish reading it you are a different person! In terms of Fictional books, for me what makes them great is that the characters are relatable and the narrative is full of wonder and intrigue. Other books you read don’t live up to that same standard and are full of clichés and are a chore to read.

I have decided people are like books. Some people are like great works that you find thrilling and others are like the twlilight series, a life long yawn. Some people can speak so well and put their point across with such eloquence, that it could be compared to great prose found in literature. Some people though use tired old expressions and have no connection with you, simply because their experience of life is the size of a thimble.

Some people are just bland, they have no flair, no style. If these people were a cheese they would be cheddar. If they were a coffee they’d be a flat white. If they were a song they would be yellow by Coldplay. Predictable, boring, and worst of all I resent these people. Here is a non-exhaustive list of my distain

Crime 1: language

I love it when people can use language to perfectly describe their feelings but I hate it when people use tired old expressions or jokes. Someone approaches you at work and says “alright trouble?” I want to stab them through the heart with my biro. All of the below would be followed by a wink: 

  • Someone says to a pregnant woman “Must be baby brain!”
  • Someone is asked if they remember something “I’ve slept since then!”
  • A man is unwell “Must be man flu!”
  • You explain you have been shopping at Ikea “Hope you left some for the rest of us!”

    People stick to these ways of speaking because they have imitated other people. They have emptied their soul out and replaced it with dog shit. When people speak like this aesthetically there are no signs of life. I get so sick and tired of this tired drivel that I sometimes don’t even acknowledge their attempt at humour. For the likes of these boring people though this is a zesty enterprise, exchanging these tedious jokes back and forth and laughing all the way.

    Crime 2: Subject matter

    Some people can’t take deep or irreverent conversation. You get onto the subject of a popular TV series and they’ve never heard of it. You talk about a famously well known musician and they don’t know them. You asking them for cooking tips and they can’t remember the last time they didn’t heat up a ready meal. You ask them about how to live a life and they take a piss in your soup by trying to justify Christian scripture. You ask them what exciting things they want to do with their lives and they say it’s really hard because of looking after he kids. When you have squeezed a sponge for so long eventually not another drop is going to come out and you have to decide that there is nothing more to get out of this person!

    Crime 3: Status

    Some people have delusions of grandeur, they think they deserve a higher platform than most people. We all have narcissistic qualities but we dont all act on them. Not everyone is arrogant and obnoxious. Not everyone buys the most expensive sports car and brags about their six figure income. They think that wine is more sophisticated than beer. They think jazz is the only genre worth listening to. There are other people who love their families so much it consumes them. Ever other day they’re round their parents talking about old times, uploading pictures on facebook constantly of a stupid picture with their mum with a caption that reads “Me and my bestie”. These people talk about little Rupert’s first day at secondary school like we give a fuck. They show you a picture of their sons graduation from a degree at Bolton University and you just nod and smile. You look at the parents eyes and they say to you “One day you’ll know this feeling when you have children” Oh wow thanks, it’s so nice to know I can’t be truly content until I can ride off the achievements of my children! Modesty and self depreciating qualities are an endangered species now. Social media has convinced Britain of the American view which is that you are he most important thing in the world and everyone wants to know about you.

    Crime 4: Emotional Fragility

    How many times have you heard of someone getting upset because the conversation goes somewhere they don’t like. If boundaries were distances some people can circle the earth with the amount of subjects they can explore no matter how dark or frightening. Other people’s boundaries are about 6 feet. Please don’t talk about what upsets me. Well you know what, the world isn’t a bubble trying to protect you. If perhaps you allowed yourself to engage with conversations that scare you, you’d come out the other side being a stronger person. People who have a low tolerance for the horrible I call “Disneyland customers” They believe the world is about singing songs with clocks and candlesticks but refuse to digest the real world. If we’re all scared by the world surely we should pool our resources and share stories talking about what scares us? Instead though these people will block discussion at all costs and if you persist they take this as a personal insult.

    Conclusion

    People are shit and they will always be toxic to be around. If you are different then I salute you. Read strange books, explore cultures, travel the world, expand your knowledge but most importantly never be afraid to express how you truly feel, whether that is through art or other passions. People deserve to be treated kindly and fairly. Some of the somewhat petty stuff above is a minor footnote on the struggle of life. If people chose to be a prisoner of the above mediocrity then that is their choice, but you don’t have to be a slave like the common man you can be your own person and break the chains!

    If you liked this drop me a comment and perhaps I could expand on more personal hatred.

    The Thought that Counts

    Christmas is over and we have eaten our way through too much turkey and pigged our way through the mountains of sweets and rubbish. At Christmas I always feel like I am abusing my body and giving it nothing that it needs. Almost like a habitual drug user addicted to consuming large quantities of sugar and fat. It is disgusting how much food I have stuffed away into my fat stupid face whilst there are people in other countries starving to death through poverty.
    When I was a child I felt so excited knowing Christmas was round the corner. All the time spent putting a list together of all the new toys and dreaming of all the fun those things would bring to my childhood. Whenever you wanted a toy any other time of the year you could spend months saving your pocket money, only to find that toy you had invested all your hopes in was a fraud or even just a one time fad. You didn’t care though, because as a kid I always maintained that level of innocent excitement. When Christmas came around all that went out the window, and being presented with all those toys at once was the adult equivalent of finding £2000 in a savings account you had forgotten about, the only difference was Christmas had a set date and the surprise happened once a year.

    As an adult, Christmas feels much more like an endurance test. In your own home you can decorate it as much or as little as you want, but when you go out you find many places littered with disgusting tinsel and tacky ornaments. It makes most places look scruffy. Occasionally you get the nice place that gets it just right but not often.

    Present shopping

    Present shopping is a nightmare not only because you have to work out what to get people but also because you have to stand in line and barge past senile simpletons trying to get to what you want. I don’t understand retired old cretins who have any day of the week to do their Christmas shopping, but decide to do it all on christmas week. When I see their slow gormless bodies it fills my heart with hatred. You spend all your free time rummaging through crap in shops, waiting in for parcels, rushing to the post office to collect them and wrapped the damned things. You write loads of Christmas cards to all your friends and family, then realise some tosser at work decides to send cards to work colleagues so you feel obliged to do it too. When Christmas is almost here and you’re finally starting to relax you remember the nightmare that is secret santa.

    Secret Santa

    This always feels like a bore, when you are at work you have a couple of people you like, a handful of people who are just below average and a large number who you completely detest. Nine times out of ten the person I pick is a complete arse hole and I regret having to make an effort for them. I have often thought how pleasurable it would be to find a shop they would never go to, and buy vouchers for it just to piss them off. Or give them 5 chocolate pound coins in return for their 5 pound spend on another gift -this is funny because you can buy 20 chocolate pound coins for £2.

    On another angle I have always thought how fun it would be to pick myself for secret santa. Surely if I did that then I could plan out some kind of elaborate plan? Here is that plan:

    1. Pick yourself in secret santa

    2. Two weeks before the work party where secret santa presents are unwraped, be noticeably sad at work. So much so that people ask you if you’re okay. When they do; make up some lie such as “My uncle committed suicide at Christmas so I find it hard to stay happy this time of year”. Make sure all of the decent caring sensitive people know this. Thanks to work gossip your story should spread like wildfire.

    3. Purchase a noose and  print on a piece of paper”I’m glad he’s dead, merry fucking christmas” do this all at home. Printing disguises any sort of handwriting and put it in the box and wrap. Put the tag on the box that shows it’s for you and then secretly add it to the presents so that nobody can see you do it.

    4. At the party before the unwrapping tell people again about your uncle and say how that “Having friends like you makes me so happy” -this will inspire pity because calling work colleagues friends in the context of work deserves that response. It also helps to set up your inevitable punchline.

    5. Open the present with a smile on your face and gleefully say “I wonder what this is?” when you see it go cold. Go angry and shout saying “who did this? WHO FUCKING DID THIS?” If you can achieve it cry and then say to your boss you’re leaving because you don’t want to share company with such a sick minded person.

    6. Remember to continue portraying the facade that you are upset when you return to work. You raise a complaint at work and threten to leave the business because you are so upset by what happened. An investigation will likely take place at work but the concept of secret santa helps to mask the evidence that it was you.

    7. After the trail has gone cold and everyone has been questioned, into the new year you tell your manager you have tried to find the positives in that night and will look past what happened and try to talk much less about your uncle at the Christmas period. Doing this conceals why you never mention the uncle again and going forward colleagues will be too afraid to even mention your fake uncle to you.

    8. The prize of doing this is that you have a valid reason to not take part in secret santa or even attend a work meal again. If it was for many normally reasons you would be accused of being a “scrooge”.
    The thought that counts

    Have you ever noticed that whenever someone buys you a shit Christmas present and you moan about it your partner will say “its the thought that counts”, I definitely do not agree with this! If I bought my partner a bunch of bananas for Christmas every year for the rest of her life she would never let me off by saying even though the gift sucks at, least I thought about it. The truth is it is the thought that counts (that counts). If the thought was worthwhile then it counts. You have to have put thought in to buying something for it to be thoughtful. If you get a present with no consideration for the person’s taste then no thought was applied at all.
    Trying to find fun at christmas is an attempt to recreate your childood and I liken this to alcoholics who continually sit in bars drinking searching for that party that never comes. As much as I winge about the people who look forward to Christmas, in reality I am just jeleous, I cannot find the happiness that they do. Christmas always feels like an annual performance review with my family where we exchange achievements. Part of me wishes that I could have more excitement at Christmas and share a bond with my family where we can love one another. Christmas with my family is just sat in front of the television watching the Queens speech and enduring the same old predictable squabbling and passive aggressive niggles. The picture at the top of this blog is of two identical Christmas cards, one from a family and another identical card from just the 12 year old daughter of that family, it amused me that even at that age she feels a disassociation with her family. The thought that counts is the thought that you love your family unconditionally and don’t just look forward to the presents and inevitable heart burn!