Keep The Bastards Guessing

Last night I told my therapist, who I'd only been seeing for about four months, that I had to stop coming in. Because I can't afford the $55 a week that our sessions cost. There were necessarily some conversations about this, about whether or not I thought the therapy was worthwhile (I did) and if there was something else in my life which I could sacrifice to come in (there's not). It was disappointing. I started going to her in the early spring to deal with some really difficult feelings and was soon better. But I kind of felt like I was on the precipice of, like, really getting into therapy. You know, where you go deep and talk about things that happen to kids or whatever. But we can't go there because right now, in my life, I am too fucking broke to deal with it. It was disappointing.

I came home intending to get some work done but just kind of vegged out in my room. I cooked myself beans and rice for the 20th day in a row. Listened to Cat Power's What Would The Community Think on vinyl. I remember when I was at the record store a few months ago with PLD and I was deciding between getting that or getting Helium's Dirt of Luck. And really, Dirt... is probably more my speed these days ("...and she's slower than a Valium. That's why you stay at home") but PLD said "But... Cat Power on vinyl..." and sighed and I knew he was right and I'm so glad I got it. I sat on my floor, drawing, burning incense and listening to "Fate of the Human Carbine" really loud. I haven't listened to that record all the way through in such a long time. I remember laying on the floor of my parents' living room in Alameda, staring at the ceiling and listening to that album. Like, more than ten years ago. I remember then that that was like, the pop record, to me. That was like the Cat Power "sell-out" record, cause it had her big hit song on it.

And I was sitting and being sad for 15 year-old me, listening to that record and being bummed about love, probably. And also bumming a bit about Chan Marshall. I mean, God. Remember how for the longest time, listening to Cat Power meant there was probably something deeply wrong with a person? I had really intense friendships based on listening to Cat Power together and having really extreme emotions. Cat Power fans were self-selective, chainsmokers, teenagers, probably cutters, deeply serious. And our cultish fandom was vindicated by Chan. At the time, for many years, Chan Marshall was Not Doing Too Well. It was almost expected that she'd storm off the stage, mid song. Cat Power fans knew better than to request a song. We'd offer her some encouragement when she inevitably broke down in the middle of a song, sobbing hysterically out of nowhere "I'm sorry, you guys. I can't do this. I'm so sorry." We'd cheer her on. We'd tell her we love her, that she could do it. That she sounded great. Don't give up! I remember seeing her once, and a fan was hoping to do just this, cheer her up, and yelled "We love you, Chaaaaaan!", mispronouncing her name with a hard-a, to make it sound almost Japanese. Whereas any real Cat Power fan would know that her name is pronounced like 'Shawn'. My friend Samantha and I were in the crowd, barely concealing our eye-rolls. It was snotty. But she was ours. Our reward for following this 20-something with glaring substance abuse issues was that she would be real. You could pay your money and see a Real Girl have a Real Struggle. And that seemed really important at the time. And last night it seemed important too. What a great fucking record. And then, of course, Chan Marshall has turned her life around. Now she is a bona fide indie pop star. And she is sober. And clean. And she seems very happy. And this is encouraging.

So now I am trying to begin this project, I was telling my therapist and I can tell you, too. The new project is this: be really brave. Now, that doesn't mean not being afraid. That means being afraid a lot but not letting it stop me. This means really engaging with things that scare me. So often something will scare us and we use that as an excuse to harden our hearts. To change direction. To stop. To move. To go another way. And what I am doing is to try to face the things that really freak me out. To talk to them. To really make a conscious effort to engage with something which would normally push me away. To identify it. And cheer it on.


Doug said...

Wow, Max... Your blog always inspires me.

Anonymous said...

I love that you feel the same way aboout Cat Power that I do. I love that you can talk about the craziness you live with. I'm learning the skill. Best to you.