November Soundtrack: Songs for monsters at the bottom of the ocean

Strindberg

When I was a little girl, we had a swimming pool. I was deathly afraid of being by myself in the water because I thought that there was some sea creature like a great white or an octopus or a crocodile lurking in the deep end, just waiting for everyone to leave so he could come up and eat my legs. It’s sounds silly but it was a very real fear that terrorized me. Now older, I realize that there are no monsters in swimming pools but if I do happen to find myself alone in one, my heart skips a beat and I quickly get out of the water.

On land, I’m not as much on my guard. I trust that I’m not going to encounter a shark when I turn a blind corner. Octopi under the bed don’t particularly spook me when I go to sleep. Color me optimistic, but I just don’t fear running into Moby Dick in the elevator.

But that’s exactly how it happens in water. When you think that you’ll just go and have a nice swim when seemingly out of know where,  a creature grabs a hold of you and you’re gone. If you did expect it, if you felt it coming, then it would be your own fault if it got you, right? Your fault for not running, for not getting out of the way, for getting into the water in the first place.

Yet, water is so inviting. As dangerous as it might be, you still get in, float on your back, let your weight dissolve. The water is so perfect that you let down your guard. You start having a good time, you splish and splash and play Marco Polo. You forget your fears. You go out farther, you dive in deeper and you don’t notice the creature right beneath your treading feet. It’s a stupid mistake.

A couple Tuesdays ago. I was with the man that I, with nothing but affection, call Narcissus. It was nice to see him on a Tuesday. We rarely saw each other during daylight, let alone weeknights. So, it was Tuesday and he was exhausted from work. Maybe that’s why he was too tired to play the game we’d been at for six months. He was suddenly accessible. We were tucked into this booth, drinking bourbon and it wasn’t as hard as it usually was. I let myself speak without measuring my words and he reached across the table to kiss me in the middle of a sentence. We were so close to one another, sharing whispers about nothing of particular importance and before the drinks were dry, he turned to me and said, let’s go home.

For just one moment, I thought that we could save each other. Narcissus would pull Echo out of her cave and Echo would pull Narcissus away from the lake. The curses would be broken.

Then, seemingly out of no where, there was a snap. I lost my legs and I was dragged down to the coldest and darkest place on earth. And I was alone down there. My Narcissus, gone and gotten himself out of the water.

It happened so fast, that I didn’t realize what I done until it was done. I said something stupid, then I repeated it. Twice. Then, I made worse. And then I made it even worse. I had felt so carefree, that I became careless; So victorious, that I became prideful; and then so desperate, that I became a degenerate. My ugly side came out, ran amok and fucked up everything.

It turns out, that this monster that I’ve feared for so long, is not some sea creature, but rather, something I’ve been hosting inside of me for God knows how long. Call it the accumulation of my bad habits. My own personal reservoir of cruelty. It’s that part of my nature that doesn’t play fair and  that is all but willing to take someone down with her just because she can.

I can hardly hold it against the man for lashing out at me. I mean, if a shark is coming after you, punch him in the nose. If someone is bringing you down, you cut yourself loose. React to monsters with a monster. Mine is haughty thoughtlessness. His is cold rage.

Our hearts never had a chance, did they?

I knew that this one was going to be dangerous. I was afraid the whole time, but took comfort in knowing that the end was inevitable, as much as I didn’t want it to be. I was always watching out for it, sure that some siren would appear and enchant him away from me. I was prepared for that. I never considered that it would be my big stupid mouth and my desperate arrogance, that would bring us to past. I’m not so bad, of course. But I can be, and I have been, and I was, that night.

I’ve no conclusion right now. Still in the aftermath, feeling battered and bruised, trying to sleep it off on the cold lonely floor of ocean. I don’t quite feel capable of swimming to the surface, yet. I’m eyeballing this monster and trying to fend off my regrets. I’m so angry myself, that I can’t seem to make a move.

It’s difficult to iron out the fallacy in my thinking. I see myself confusing it all. Harboring memories of hurt and letting them becoming weapons that I use against people. Are we all so crushed by our own gravity and blinded by our vanity? I feel like people are all drifting farther and farther away from one another in the water. We trust that liar, that traitor, rattling his chains in our heads and we deny ourselves the one thing that might save us. People leave us and we act like sore losers. We act like victims. We seek forgetfulness as a cure. Apathy as a state of health.

I will eventually swim up out of this gloom, but I don’t want to forget and I don’t want to not care just so I can feel better. This is getting old and I don’t want to find myself here again.

And so, for the time being, as I cry myself to sleep at the bottom of the sea, these are songs that I’m listening to.

Soundtrack

1. Kurt Vile The Creature

2. DeVotchKa Transliterator

“The homemade weapons you are fashioning are hellbent on doing us both in”

3. U2 So Cruel

“She wears my love like a see-through dress”

4. REM – Half A World Away

5. PJ Harvey – In the Dark Places

6. Radiohead: A Wolf At the Door

7. Sleater-Kinney – One More Hour

8. The Drums: In the Cold

So this is awesome. The Drums don’t post on YouTube, so this video just has some random guy standing in the snow. Please make sure you don’t take your eyes off of him.

9. The Antlers: No Widows

10. Love and Rockets: Haunted When The Minutes Drag

“This is for when we’re feeling happy again.”

11. Future Islands: Give Us the Wind

“Don’t Bless Me”

12. Craig Armstrong & Blue Nile: Let’s Go Out Tonight

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