I’m sitting here next to my bookcase full of unread books, looking up and down at it while the inevitable looms in the back of my mind. It’s no wonder I have anxiety. There’s not enough time.
Not enough time to play all of the video games all the way through, finish all of the puzzles that surround my room, to finish writing that book that’s in my drafts, or to read all of the books that are piling up. The end is inevitable, but I choose to fill it with mind-numbing hours on my phone and in my laptop doing homework.
Graduation is in December, maybe May 2020, but that’ll be a year (or year and a half) until I can have all the free time I need (barring any part time job of course). Yet, I can’t help but feel like that year is just going to fly by and I would’ve wasted it.
Having ADD is a lot of work, my mind is always in overdrive and I can’t sit still. The only things that’ll turn off my thoughts are puzzles and sleep. Yet, here I am. Typing up a blog on my phone, when I could be journaling or reading. Oh well, at least this is an entry! So, my time wasn’t wasted.
2019 is going to be the year of creativity whether I realize it or not, I just have to keep fighting and focus on the right things. No longer will I wait around for replies or notifications on anything. I need to focus on me, and me alone.
So, I’ll continue to date myself this year. Figure out who I am. The creative person is inside me, I just have to meet her again.
Now, since I’ve lived in Colorado (2016), I’ve started to accumulate old vintage books from family, friends, and my own shopping at the local thrift store. My next venture will hopefully be a collection of Louisa May Alcott books printed in the 1920s. Until then though, these are the few that I have! Some are in German, so I can’t read them, but then again I can’t read the others either. They’re in delicate condition, but I promise I dust them and wipe them down whenever it’s needed. I might not be a Joe Goldberg (from the infamous YOU by Caroline Kepnes), but I do treat all of my books as though they’re living, breathing beings.
Why do we put ourselves through things like catharsis just so we can feel? We deliberately listen to songs that hurt us. Songs that remind us of pain from our past, songs that we listened to when we were with someone we no longer talk to. It isn’t just music either, we watch TV shows that make us cry even though we know it’s coming. But, why? (Looking at you Grey’s Anatomy!)
Well, I can’t speak for everyone, but I’ll tell you why I do it. Currently, I’m listening to a
playlist I made. It’s not even supposed to be as deep as I made it, but somehow it came out that way. There are 30 songs, and eleven of them are indeed that deep. In fact, all day, I’ve felt myself on the verge of a breakdown and here I am. Listening to those ten songs, that now have more meaning to them than I originally planned.
I’m not sure if it’s a good thing that I made the playlist that deep, or maybe my brain is just in overdrive from recent events, but either way. While I’m writing this blog on catharsis, I’m putting myself through it and honestly it feels a little fucked up. My eyes hurt, my fingers are shaking, and my heart feels shattered. Plus, blowing your nose with a septum ring in is just a pain in the ass.
Also, I should’ve mentioned this earlier, but for those of you who don’t know by know, (or haven’t gotten from the context clues I’ve loosely provided), catharsis is the process of releasing emotion… on purpose. The fact that we even need to push ourselves to release emotions like that is just insane and this is coming from someone who builds up emotion like a pro. Wow, while I wrote that, even I knew it didn’t sound healthy yet here I am with almost twenty-two years of pent-up emotion.
Let me say this though… I’ve been working on it. While some of my nights still consist of crying on the bathroom floor after a day of difficult emotions and stressful moments, I have managed to fight the urge to do it alone. Even though it’s been a long journey to get to where I am now, I’ll forever be proud of the fact that I’ve shown at least a little progress… even if it did take quite a few years to get here.
Disclaimer: This is a revised version of chapter one! I workshopped the hell out of it in one of my classes this semester, so I thought I’d update it here too. Thanks for reading! I hope you guys like these characters just as much as I do and that this is the start of something worthwhile.
Chapter One: Commute Home (Revised)
Today, I decided to walk home a little lackadaisically. It wasn’t my usual speed, but I knew it would get me to where I was going — especially since I wasn’t in much of a rush. For some reason, this particular Friday just felt different. It was nicer outside than it had been this past week, so I decided to take it all in. The cool spring air was slowly caressing my bare legs with each step. It was chilly and almost unbearable, but I didn’t mind. After all, it’s my fault that I woke up with hope that the Texas weather would stay consistent throughout the day. The mornings were always deceiving compared to the afternoons.
With each step, I noticed the trees were coming back to life, the grass was slowly becoming greener after each watering, and the animals were thriving off it. It’s sort of ironic to see all of the animals coming out of hiding, as if Texas knew what the winter season was. Here we just get a handful of freezes and a bunch of cold wind. We barely get any snow. Most birds even come here from up north to avoid their states’ weather, as if the sunny beaches of Cancun were too far of a flight.
As I walked, I counted the steps between each sidewalk crack. “One-two-three, one-two, one-two-three-four,” it was almost like a dance, albeit an unusual one, but the counting came naturally. I started to imagine a polka band playing at each step. The casual “oom-pah-pah, oom-pah-pah,” that was filling my brain took me down my path. I took this course home every other day, so I was bound to get there eventually.
After quite a few “oom-pah-pah’s”, I turned the corner next to my family’s old diner and knew I was almost home. Or rather… I thought I was, until I bumped into something sturdy. I should’ve looked up, god damn it, I thought to myself as the man I bumped into started to turn red.
“Shit! Watch where you’re going!” he exclaimed, holding his cup away from the damage I just caused. He didn’t notice I was watching him until he started wiping off his laptop bag and flannel with his hands. With just a quick glance, this man really had a lumberjack thing going on. Beard and all.
“Oh my god, I’m so, so sorry. Please let me help you,” I said to him, while I opened up my backpack to find my pack of wet wipes.
“Thanks, but I’m fine. It’s fine,” he said kind of aggressively, but his expression softened when he finally looked up; his light brown eyes pierced my greens. “Ugh, I’m sorry. I’ve just had a long day,” while he held his hand out, “My name’s Alexander, I didn’t mean to frighten you.”
I didn’t expect him to take such a turnaround, but I closed my bag and shook his hand anyway, “Maddy, my name’s Maddy. I’m so sorry.”
“Please, just stop apologizing. It’s okay. I said it’s fine, and I meant it,” he said more calmly while he put his hand on my shoulder.
Almost immediately, I shrugged his hand off, “Okay, are you sure you’re okay? That coffee had to have been really hot. Please, let me buy you another one.”
“Alright, alright, you can buy me a new cup. Is the diner fine?”
“Actually, would it be okay if we went down the street to Starbucks instead? I don’t really want to set foot in there.” Immediately, I mentally crossed my fingers and hoped he wouldn’t ask why. Especially since Gordon and I haven’t had time to fully evaluate it.
“Umm, yeah. That’ll be alright. I’d actually prefer it if that’s what you’re more comfortable with. Just lead the way,” he said.
* * * *
On our way to Starbucks I realized that there was more to this guy than I thought. He wasn’t just a tall, rugged man, but he had quirks of his own. Not only was he avoiding the sidewalk cracks as he stepped, but he kept the same number of steps between them too.
“What on earth are you looking at?” he asked.
“Oh, nothing,” I laughed nervously. “I just noticed that you never step on any cracks. I do the same thing.”
“Were you counting? I try to keep at least two to four between each crack. I’m not superstitious or anything,” he chuckled while he rubbed the back of his neck, “I just kind of kept the habit from when I was a kid.”
“Oh, I suppose I was,” I blushed, “I do the same thing… except I imagine polka music playing.”
“Polka, huh? Care to elaborate?” he asked, and I reluctantly let him in on my little secret, because he let me in on his. And to my surprise, we ended up walking my weird, and quirky way all the way to the coffee shop.
* * * *
When we got to Starbucks, I ordered my usual iced green tea latte; the matcha was my favorite part. It made me feel as though I was actually taking a step towards something healthy. I didn’t even know Starbucks had this drink until a few weeks ago, but I fell in love at first sip.
“Your total is $5.75,” the barista said. So, I quickly went to search my backpack, but noticed my wallet was missing. I could’ve sworn I had it earlier, and it wasn’t long until I started shaking in panic.
“Um, Alex? Do you mind getting this?” I asked nervously, “I can pay you back later. I promise.”
“It’s Alexander, and are you asking me to pay for your coffee after you spilled mine all over me?”
I couldn’t read if he was serious. All I could get out of my mouth was, “Oh, yeah… I’m sorry. Um, I might have some kind of cash in this bag somewhere,” and I started to search again.
“Nooo, stop! I’m kidding,” he smiled and put his hand on mine. “It’s really no problem, I swear. You can get the next one.”
We went to a table in the back corner of the cafe to wait for our order, and I still couldn’t stop thanking him. He even pulled my chair out for me, and suddenly I couldn’t remember the last time I was ever out with a guy. Clearly, I wasn’t used to this kind of chivalry.
“Maddy, it’s fine. Stop thanking me,” he said. “But, if you don’t mind me asking, what was that back there?” he asked.
“What was what?”
“Why couldn’t we go into the diner? I mean, I prefer Starbucks, but you seemed a little reluctant to go in there.”
“Oh, it was nothing.” I could tell by the look on his face that he didn’t believe me, so I quickly added, “I just have a few bad memories there, that’s all.”
“Yeah? If you don’t mind me asking, what are they about?”
“That depends,” I said, “Why Alexander? Why not just Alex?”
“I just don’t like shortening my name. My mom gave me my whole name for a reason, ya know?” he said, while he messed with the straps to his bag. He was fidgeting, just like what I do when I’m talking to new people. This is insane. We really were so similar.
“Oh,” I said. “So, I suppose you’ll just call me Madeline then?”
“Madeline, huh?” he winked, “Would it be alright if I called you that? It’s so beautiful.” Suddenly, I could feel my cheeks turning red, this guy really had an effect on me. I couldn’t believe how easy it was for him to make me blush.
“No, I suppose that wouldn’t be a bad thing. So, now I guess I have to tell you my story then,” I started, right before my order was shouted out to the whole café. “Well, that’s me,” I moved to get up, but Alexander stopped me.
“I’ll get it, they just set mine on the bar as well.”
“Uh, alright. Thanks.” I shot him a smile and he went for our cups, but on his way back, I noticed that he was looking at my drink like it was a foreign object.
“How on Earth do you drink this stuff?” he asked, while holding up my drink and inspecting it. He looked like he was looking at an undiscovered object. Like matcha was the strangest thing ever.
I laughed and asked him, “What do you mean?”
“This dark green stuff… it looks like there’s dirt in your drink.”
“Uh, have you ever tried matcha before? It’s ah-maaaze-iiing,” I informed him.
“No, I haven’t. I don’t tend to drink or eat food that looks like dirt,” he said, and I immediately felt myself start to shut-down. We just met, and he was already criticizing my drink.
“Well, it doesn’t taste like dirt. I’d ask you to try it, but you probably don’t have fantastic taste buds considering you got a grande black coffee at Starbucks of all places,” I snapped.
“Woah, woah, woah… calm down. Madeline,” he grabbed my hand, “I was just kidding.”
I quickly pulled it away from him. “Well, it’s really hard to tell if you’re kidding Alex. I don’t read sarcasm very well with you apparently and I don’t know how to deal with it.” I slowly started to scoot my chair away from the table, “Maybe I’m overreacting, but you’re not great at being facetious.”
He threw his hands up in defeat and said, “Okay, okay, okay. I’m sorry. I’ve been told that my face isn’t very great at expressing itself.” I could see the remorse in his face, and I felt horrible. I really need to stop doing this to everyone. “So, what is it about the diner? I know we just met, but I wish you’d talk to me. There’s just something about your eyes that resonates with me. I want to know everything about the girl who spilled coffee on me,” he said, while rubbing his finger along the outside of his coffee cup lid.
I could feel a wave of warmth wash over me, I seriously needed to interact with more people, I thought to myself. It shouldn’t be this easy for him to make me feel this way. Reluctantly though, it was only fair I told him a little bit about myself, so I decided to tell him, “Okay, well since you told me your weird name thing, that diner actually used to be my parents. The place was originally named Maddy’s after my grandmother, who was also my namesake. At first, it was awesome. They bought it when I was around eleven-years-old. I spent all my summers there, my first job was there, and it was great… until they sold it. Now it’s just a run-of-the-mill restaurant. I’m just glad the new owners kept some of the nostalgia intact even though my parents’ menus aren’t there anymore.”
“I’m really sorry to hear that, it must’ve been hard having to adjust. Have you gone in there since?” he asked, and this time I let him grab my hand. First, this man is everything. He was complex, but I could still understand his quirks at the same time. Second, how did this all come out of a spilled coffee?
Before answering his question, I decided that it was time to leave before things got a little too personal. “Actually, I hate to cut this short, but I should probably get going. Swanson needs me. We can always dig into this later, if you want?” I scooted away from the table.
“Wait, who’s Swanson?”
“My cat. He’s very particular about when he gets his food,” I said while I stood and started to put my backpack on.
“Oh, you have a cat? That’s another interesting note on Madeliiiine… what was your last name? Mine’s Woods,” he said.
“Alexander Woods, huh? That sounds fitting,” I told him. I almost had to stifle a laugh to cover up the irony. This man looked like a lumberjack, and his last name was Woods. He was definitely going to hear about this later; if there is a later. “I’m a MacCarthy. Not like Melissa, more like the usual Scottish last name.”
“So, Madeline MacCarthy. That explains your hair and eyes. Are you Scottish?”
“You know what Alexander, seriously. Let’s save this for another time. I really need to get home to Swanson.”
“Alright, alright, alright. Let me give you my number and we can meet again? Maybe next time you won’t get my shirt dirty,” he joked.
I pulled out a scrap of paper from my backpack and a pen, “Sure, actually, here’s mine. Don’t lose this,” I grinned.
“Mom, where’s Molly?” I asked. Molly was my favorite stuffed bear. My parents made her for me at Build-a-Bear when I was only one.
“I just got her out of the dryer,” she said, “Here she is! All clean.”
“Thank goodness, night mommy. Love you.”
“Love you too, Char,” she said, while she closed my door, leaving a crack so the hallway light could seep in; her version of a nightlight.
She thought that if I had a real night light, I’d be up all night reading. I kept telling her that I needed one to scare off the monsters, but she didn’t believe me. All she said was, “You’re nine-years-old now Charlotte, I know your tricks. You’re not getting a night light so you can read all night.” Little did she know, I wasn’t lying. I did need one.
See, things often weren’t what the seemed in my house, but I was the only one who noticed. I’d wake up screaming for my parents nearly every night, just to have them check my shelves and find nothing.
“No! There’s something over there I know it!” I would tell them, in a pit of frustration.
“There’s nothing over here, honey. You’ve got to stop doing this every other night, just go to bed,” my dad would say while shuffling me back into my loft bed.
After he left, I barricaded myself with every stuffed animal I could find. Making my bed a safe space filled with a variant of critters surrounding me while I slept, but the only way I could, was if I got as far away from my shelf as possible. So, I scooted into a corner, shuffled everything around, curled myself into a ball, found Molly, and managed to squeeze in whatever sleep my brain would allow.
Now, you might think I was being ridiculous, but there was just something about that area of my room that made me uneasy. My loft bed was sitting just a foot away from my ceiling, so I could see everything in my room; including that shelf. The shelf. It was a little 1×4 shelf that my mom hung up in my room to hold all of those items off of the floor, made out of nothing but a piece of wood held up with four pieces of really strong rope.
Yet, every night it sounded like something was falling, but I’d wake to nothing on the ground. I’d wake to crashes, bangs, and thuds that seemed like they were only a foot away from my pillow. I kept telling my parents all about the noises, but they never believed me, and they never would. It got to a point where we had to take the shelf down altogether after a while because they were tired of my paranoia. So, they set the American Girl dolls safely in their boxes, along with all of the ceramics and little trinkets I’ve collected over my eight years of life.
There was no way those noises would come now, I thought while I was brushing my teeth, hoping I would get more sleep than I have been.
I finally settled my head down on my pillow, my stuffed animals back where they belonged, squeezed Molly, and everything felt lighter. It wasn’t long before I drifted off to sleep and let my dreams take ahold of my subconscious.
“CHARLOTTE, WAKE UP AND GET OUT OF THIS ROOM,” my mom screamed and shook my bed, and suddenly I felt hot.
“Mom, what is it?” I asked her, still groggy, but she left the room before I got the whole question out. What time is it? I thought to myself. The sun was just starting to seep in through my windows. It had to be early, but what was going on.
After I finally got up, it wasn’t long before I saw what freaked out my mom so much. The shelf was back up. With everything in it’s place.
This had to be a joke. I thought to myself. A sick joke, but who would’ve put it up while I was asleep? Dad’s in the field, I don’t have siblings, and my mom always slept through the night… I kept staring at the shelf dumbfounded. I still couldn’t believe it.
“Mom! Who did this??” I yelled for her.
“It doesn’t matter Char. Just get out of there, I’ll deal with it later!” She yelled back.
I kept staring at the shelf, at the dolls, and all of the trinkets, and suddenly, a wave of panic ran through me. I knew what was making the noises.
The realization flooded through me as I saw what it was. What put the shelf back up. It wasn’t my mom; it wasn’t my dad; it was the dolls. Their expressions weren’t smiling anymore, and they weren’t alone.
I kept eye contact with them while their faces changed. Their brows became furrowed, and their smiles turned to something I’ve never seen before. They weren’t American Girl dolls anymore; they were monsters.
Similar faces came between the two I had on my shelf, they bared their sharp teeth, and looked almost real. I could still see the pink wall behind them, but they appeared as solid as the dolls. I couldn’t help but watch them uncover. My body felt paralyzed while they came out of hiding. I tried to scream for my mom again, but my mouth wouldn’t move. Stricken with fear, I started to look around the room at my other shelves. Hoping there wouldn’t be anymore, but I was mistaken.
There were around fifty faces staring back at me with their angry, terrifying expressions, and they were scattered all around my room. It wasn’t long before I saw them everywhere; I was surrounded, and the only safe place was in my bed.
I scooted back into my corner as quickly as my body would let me and closed my eyes tightly. In my cocoon, I started to say the “Now I Lay Me” prayer to myself until the I could feel the individual hairs stand on my neck. Something was breathing on me in long, hot breaths. Slowly, I turned around, and Molly was tucked between the bed and the wall. Her face was the same as all the others.
It wasn’t long before I started to scramble out of my bed. I turned to put my foot on the ladder so I could get down, but my foot didn’t touch anything. The ladder wasn’t there anymore. It was just gone, and my bed was too tall to jump off of, so I tried climbing over the side. After a slow descent, I felt my toes touch the cold tile, and started to run towards the door. There were faces everywhere I looked, and the door wasn’t getting any closer. The small hallway that led to it kept expanding, I would never reach it. I was trapped in my own room.
Soon, the floor began to darken. The tiles were hot beneath my feet, and when I stepped, they disappeared. The floor was falling, and I was going to fall with it. I could feel my body tense up as I tried to figure out how to get out of this. I had two windows, but they were surrounded. The only other places to go were the closet, or back in my bed where the height would give me more time to think. Despite Molly, I chose my bed. I hugged the side while I climbed up the wooden posts, but when I got to ledge, my bed was covered in even more faces.
I held on tightly to the post while I watched them move closer and closer. They reached my hands and I tightened my grip. Their hands started to pry each finger off slowly, I cried and begged for them to stop, “Molly, please. Don’t let them do this. I’m going to fall!” But she didn’t care. Instead her face twisted into something even darker while she joined in. Molly wasn’t in there anymore, she was my sole protector my entire life, and she wasn’t in there.
It wasn’t long before the only thing that was holding me to the post was my arms. I refused to move them, but the creatures were persistent. I kept latching my fingers back onto the wood, but they pried them off again to a point that there were splinters underneath my nails. I won’t let them drop me. I won’t let them drop me, but they got smarter.
The creatures across from us started to pass my pink duct tape around the room and while they pried each finger, they taped it to the previously pried one’s joints. Leaving me with the inability to grasp. I felt myself start to give up. This wasn’t worth it. There’s no way I’m going to get out of this, and soon they were crawling all over me. I could feel their sharp nails penetrating my back, leaving bloody trails wherever they went.
My eyes started to water and I let out a piercing scream while they shoved my arms off of the post and tape them to my torso. I’ve become their prisoner, they were going to shove me off into the dark pit below me, and I was going to let them. As soon as they were content with their tape job, they let me go, and my body jolted itself awake.
“Charlotte, are you okay? I heard screaming,” my mom said. “What’s going on?” Immediately I started crying, I couldn’t believe I was hearing her voice, it was all just a nightmare. I was just having a nightmare. My pillowcase was soaking wet with tears and snot, and my sheets felt damp. I was sweating more than usual.
Quickly, I climbed out of my bed and hugged my mom. The floor was intact, the ladder was where it was, and the shelf was still gone. No more creepy faces.
“Honey, what happened?” my mom kept asking, but I couldn’t bring myself to tell her. “Did you have another nightmare again? I can schedule another appointment with Dr. Landcaster if you need. Would you like that?”
Dr. Landcaster was one of my therapists, except he was allowed to prescribe me with medication that would help my nightmares and daydreaming. Dr. Haslett was my other one, but he only let me play board games in his office while we talked about things. I liked him more, but I couldn’t have that dream again. “Sure mommy, thanks for taking the shelf down again. I didn’t like the dolls.”
“Char, what shelf? You’ve had your pink bookcase up for a while, why would we take it down?” she asked, puzzled.
NO, this can’t be right. “Never mind momma, it must’ve just been a dream,” I said while I hugged her tighter while fresh tears started to fall down my cheeks.
“Okay, well if you’re okay then get dressed. We’re visiting your dad at work today,” she told me, I loved visiting him. He always let me color on all of the old documents and sit in the big trucks.
“Alriiiiight. I’ll be ready in a minute,” I told her, knowing she already laid my clothes out for me. In a rush of excitement, I started getting dressed, but then I felt it. The hot air on my neck was back, and I slowly turned around. Molly was on my bookshelf, breathing hot, hot air on me, and suddenly, I screamed.
Disclaimer: This is loosely based off of things I used to see in the dark as a kid. It wasn’t as extreme, but the faces were just as creepy.
In this blog, I’m going to discuss a Creative Non-Fiction piece and answer a few questions. This piece, in particular, caught my eye because of the name and the hook the author wrote in the beginning. The following is a link to the piece itself by Jane Bernstein:
Summary:The Marrying Kind is a short essay about the narrator getting ready to officiate the wedding of someone they’re very close with (the bride). She then proceeds to discuss more in-depth on the lengths her officiating goes through, bringing up her past marriage, the several weddings she’s officiated, and her relationship to the first bride she writes about.
At first, she doesn’t think she would or should do it. She thought that an online officiating site was just a scam until she joined her first couple in matrimony. After that, she continued to keep on going. Marrying people left and right. Same-sex couples, different religions, different families, she just kept going further on her quest to be an officiator but she still only married couples who she felt were in love.
Now, for the questions:
1. How does the form contribute to the meaning of the piece?
The form of this essay is traditional and it carries several descriptive characteristics. It’s estimated at around five pages of text and it kept me hooked throughout the entire thing. While this essay could’ve fit into the “shell” of a hermit crab essay, I feel as though the traditional route was better in this instance. Throughout the piece, the author incorporates several different factual statements, along with analogies, irony, and a few flashbacks.
2. What literary devices make this piece aesthetic?
The author uses quite an analogy when writing about the process of officiating a wedding ceremony. They compared a wedding ceremony to a simile; the form is precise.
There’s also underlying irony in the text as well. The narrator often points out that it’s great being single, while also on her way to officiate a wedding that’s very dear to her. I found it ironic that she was relieved that she was divorced from her husband, yet she still found the sanctity of marriage to have an emotional aspect. However, this irony also gave her a reason to keep officiating. She knew all the trouble it took to be in a relationship. All the fights and the turmoil were inevitable, but if these couples were truly happy she wanted to be there for them because she went through them herself.
The author also uses flashbacks to make the story more in-depth. The narrator points out in the beginning that she knew the bride because she knew the bride’s mother. She brings up moments from the past in order to build onto the relationship she has to the bride and I feel as though it was very successful. A few would be:
the time when she felt the bride’s mother’s stomach before the bride was born
when she planned her wedding to her ex-husband
when she left her husband
her past relationships where she didn’t marry, but “played house”
In one of my personal writings that I’m working on, I’m including flashbacks as well. I feel as though this tactic is very effective in increasing relatability, depth, and potential tension.
3. What sort of ethics does the writer seem to be following?
Along with the irony that the piece has, she often points out the different characteristics of marriage. Due to her recent marriages, she predicts which couples are going to be happy and which ones aren’t by the way they interact with one another. She went through a lot of what everyday couples go through; arguments/disagreements/etc. So, she followed through with the ones she felt would last. The ethics she follows might not be solid in logic, but they’re her own beliefs and she wouldn’t go through with something she felt was wrong.
Music is a universal language. The simplicity of listening to a group of instruments and vocals can result in a complex mood change, or even help create a memory of someone/something significant. A strategic rhythm set to a beat can get stuck in your head in an instant. The magic of a symphony in an auditorium can give you goosebumps—especially if you’re listening to John Williams or Stephen Sondheim. Luckily, today there are several other ways to listen to music other than live. Whether you’re looking for country, rock, pop, indie, folk, opera, metal, or post-hardcore, music will always be powerful. However, in this case, we’re only going to narrow the vast subject that is music down to one genre and one band.
The subject: Dance Gavin Dance. The adjective: post-hardcore. The collective noun: band. Established in 2006, in Sacramento, California, Dance Gavin Dance consists of five members: Tilian Pearson (clean vocals), Jon Mess (messy vocals), Matthew Mingus (drums/percussion), Tim Feerick (bassist), and Will Swan (lead guitar). This band contains a lot of attributes towards grammar, not only with their lyrics but with the group members themselves.
To further explain what “messy” vocals are–they’re vocals that are “screamed” into the microphone. They create an intense effect on the lyrics and exaggerate (or italicize), their meaning. By switching between messy vocals and clean vocals, the band creates different rhetoric altogether.
Usually, the messy lyrics would consist of primarily utter nonsense, but when Jon Mess screams them, they somehow seem to fit. For instance, in their song “Chucky vs. the Giant Tortoise,” the line (or should I say a sentence): “Riding a rhino pico de gallo. Roosters beak, I’ll go to sleep when I leap that jeep,” is screamed by Mess (CITE). Even with the rest of the context, it’s unusual:
“[Jon Mess] I’ll go in cryo and return to life h-. And make a Bisque, some tomato basil s—, Riding a rhino pico de gallo. Roosters beak, I’ll sleep when I leap that jeep. (Mess)
[Tilian Pearson] Don’t close your eyes tonight. Perfect melodies are hard to find. I got a feeling we could touch the sky.” (1)
When you listen to the lyrics, they come off a little easier. Also, since the “screamed” lyrics aren’t entirely necessary for some of their songs, Jon Mess’ portion would/should be surrounded by parentheses.
Tilian also partakes in partial “messy” singing. He often switches back and forth between the two when it’s necessary, but he isn’t the “messy” vocalist because he doesn’t scream. His way of choosing either way of singing would be the perfect example of a slash in grammar.
The simple act of singing and playing their guitars/drums would be their verbs. They play their guitars, drums, and bass. They sing/scream their lyrics. The names signed on their instrument cases are an example of apostrophes because they’re possessive. Also, in brackets next to their part on their lyric sheets, there should be the bands’ names.
While each member plays an essential and vital role in the band, Tilian and Jon are the direct objects because they’re always front-and-center. The rest of the group are indirect due to them playing in the background and supporting the singers. However, musically, each instrument couldn’t stand alone, or else this wouldn’t be a post-hardcore band (since they can’t stand alone musically, this would be an example of a conjunctive adverb).
Dance Gavin Dance has changed a lot since 2006. They’ve gone through several members over the years. The band cycled through Jonny Craig and Kurt Travis before Tilian came along in 2013. Before it was just Will Swan, he played alongside Sean O’Sullivan back when the band began; before there was Tim Feerick on bass, there was Eric Lodge. These weren’t the only switches over the bands lifetime, but we’re only going to focus on the 2018 edition of the band. Coincidentally, there hasn’t been a change in their role-call since 2013.
Before their sets, the owner of the venue announces the band, which would be an example of metadiscourse. The owner informs the audience who’s up next, and Tilian tells the audience what song they’re going to play. These announcements would result in the venue owner or Tilian being considered as the appositives due to them explaining who’s next or what song is up. Along with these announcements, a colon would be placed on the general admission ticket or flyer announcing the set: “The Black Sheep Presents: Dance Gavin Dance and Chon, featuring Eidola and Vasudeva.”
Most of the bands’ cohesiveness (or when all the words in a sentence link together to give the sentence more meaning), is when the members are all playing together. For their music to make sense and stay in rhythm, they must agree with one another. Each member of the band must make sure that their hands and mouths are playing/singing in coordination with each other. In general, all bands must follow this rule, or they wouldn’t thrive and continue to gain fans. Coincidentally, the coordination between the band members results in a hyphen. They’re used for word division, yet they also combine words. In this case, they’re combining the members. Without cohesion or coordination, Dance Gavin Dance’s music wouldn’t be able to create the symbolism they have, which would result in a lack of underlying meaning in their music.
For instance, in their song “Here Comes the Winner,” there’s plenty of symbolism behind it if you read between the lines. The song was released in 2016 when the presidential election was going on in full force. One of the verses (or clauses) in the songs suggests that all the public figures were lined up on a stage to win the hearts of America. They incorporated a few political statements within the messy vocals, and altogether they made everything agree.
Another line that could be used to show symbolism is a verse from their song “Inspire the Liars”:
“So, let’s start a religion, they’ll believe in what we say. Let’s start a religion; we can blind their eyes with faith. A new religion, we’ll tell them where our spirits go. Start a religion; I need my ego to explode.” (CITE)
This verse is towards the end of the song, and it symbolizes the “cult-like” mentality of some of the religious groups in society. It suggests that some of the religions result in “blind” followers and that people will follow anything that interests them.
Throughout their songs, there is a known-new contract. As you listen, you begin to learn the choruses (the known) and are gradually introduced to the verses (the new). In this “contract” they also created ties into their listeners’ expectations, (or readers expectations). Their fans expect their set to flow together and their music to keep with their usual style, (or the way they establish their overall mood or meaning). To keep the contract and the expectations of their listeners up-to-par, the band also needs to keep their (sentence) rhythm.
Rhythm is among the top qualities every type of band needs to know. If one instrument/singer is off-beat, then the whole group is off. The bands’ rhythm would be where the punctuation would set in. Their music breaks between lyrics could be considered as semi-colons because they create a new mood. The breaks between their songs would be considered commas due to the literal breaks between independent clauses (or songs). The line, “Are you ready?” would end in a question mark, and their lyrics all contain quotation marks around them because they’re direct quotes coming out of their mouths.
The choruses could pass as a predicate. They’re the primary voice in the song, and they contain verbs that state something that they’re doing or are going to do. For instance, in “Inspire the Liars,” the chorus represents an antithesis (by showing opposition in one sentence), and a predicate: “Say you want to know the truth, well you can ask me a question. I’ll tell you something that you may wanna hear, but I’ll lie” (3). The chorus states that if you want to know the truth about something, then you should ask them even though they told you they’d lie. So, why ask them in the first place?
The choruses could also represent parallelism because they’re repetitive and show importance throughout the song. Their parallel structure is consistent throughout all their music when it comes to how often their choruses are played.
If Dance Gavin Dance were to break down, it would result in over-excessive songs with minimal lyrics or meaning—which could also serve as a run-on sentence, (or in some cases a comma splice). Luckily, to decompose the system a little, music breaks (or their form of semi-colons), can help divide up the extended run-ons or potential comma splices.
Musically, the band creates a solid post-hardcore sound altogether. While they’re not the only band in this genre, they are certainly unique in their own way. Since 2009, they’ve had a significant impact on my life. A big part of the reason why I got into Dance Gavin Dance was that of their unique song names and unique verses. It’s part of their style and their voice. Actively, they sing these lyrics with pride and create their overall rhetoric by doing so. Dance Gavin Dance proves that music is universal with their take on the genre they’ve been placed in. With their careless demeanor and their relatable lyrics, this band really puts the phrase, “fake it ‘til you make it” to good use with some of their songs.
Mess, Jon. I’ll go in cryo and return to life h-. And make a Bisque, some tomato basil s—, Riding a rhino pico de gallo. Roosters beak, I’ll sleep when I leap that jeep. “Chucky vs. the Giant Tortoise.” Mothership. Vinyl. Interlace Audio Recording Studios. 2016.
(1) Pearson, Tilian. Don’t close your eyes tonight. Perfect melodies are hard to find. I got a feeling we could touch the sky. “Chucky vs. the Giant Tortoise.” Mothership. Vinyl. Interlace Audio Recording Studios. 2016.
(2) Pearson, Tilian. So, let’s start a religion, they’ll believe in what we say. Let’s start a religion; we can blind their eyes with faith. A new religion, we’ll tell them where our spirits go. Start a religion; I need my ego to explode. “Inspire the Liars.” Mothership. Vinyl. Interlace Audio Recording Studios. 2016.
(3) Pearson, Tilian. Say you want to know the truth, well you can ask me a question. I’ll tell you something that you may wanna hear, but I’ll lie. “Inspire the Liars.” Mothership. Vinyl. Interlace Audio Recording Studios. 2016.
As I laid my head down on the already fluffed pillow, I heard a small sound. At first, I wasn’t sure what it was or where it was coming from. It sounded almost in agony, yet it was so soft, so quiet; I didn’t realize it was coming from my own bedroom. Quickly, I threw my maroon comforter off of my recently cocooned body and I got up. My first instinct was to turn on the flashlight on my phone and check under the bed.
Around the light, it was pitch black, and the chilling feeling of someone watching me crept over me. The darkness under my bed always creeped me out; I’ve seen too many horror movies. After too much overthinking, the hairs on my neck stood up; the noise was back. Except, this time, it was closer. I quickly scanned the room with my flashlight in hand and I saw it.
Or rather… I saw her.
Underneath the dark wall of clothes that lined my closet, I shined my flashlight in her direction and her shiny blue-eyes looked up at me with exhaustion washed over her face. I walked over to her and saw that the blanket on the floor was spattered with blood. I quickly inspected the area around her and at a closer glance, I saw quite a few jellybean toes, along with ten unopened eyes, and five pink and black noses. My beautiful blue-eyed baby girl just gave birth to five squeaky little kittens.
Theodore Toe-Fur Meowsevelt
Disclaimer: This is a creative non-fiction story about a 15-20 second moment in my life. I decided to write about this particular moment because it was the day my grandkitties were born (April 24, 2015). I kept two of the five and they’re pictured above.
Theodore Toe-fur Meowsevelt is the kitty on top. He almost died at six-months by eating a shoestring (you can read about it here: A Matter Of Four Days ). I’m so happy he made it through and he’s still my baby munchkin.
Patrick Meowsevelt, on the other hand, is still a chubby little man. He’s definitely grandpa’s cat, but he’s very particular and judgmental when it comes to who is in his house. They’re both such characters, and they’re little punks, but I love them unconditionally.
To read more on my boys and their mama, see the following:
This is a conference poster I did for one of my classes! I’m pretty impressed with how it turned out and it’s so professional looking. The photo in the middle is of my mom when she was five-years-old back in the 70s. She’s the main reason I have over 300 records in my collection and I’ll forever be grateful to her for putting her records in my care.