Catching up to feeling alive

Catching up to feeling alive
Bowie and that cat who seems desperate to be his friend

Let me tell you that I had big plans this week. BIG plans. A Tuesday newsletter. a Friday newsletter. I was going to write thousands of words, each one of them perfectly placed, no mistakes, no slips of grammar.

We all have big plans and intentions, and just like the best of them, mine didn't happen this week.

For good reason! I'm working on a secret project, in that I'm being paid to make something that I'm also not really allowed to talk about until someone tells us that our idea is solid and they would like us to make more of them. This is the first non-book thing I've done in the last year, and it's a welcome change. It's exhausting. My shoulders hurt this morning, my throat's a little sore. I'm tired. I have complaints.

And yet.

I'm so happy and lucky to be here living like this. I'm tired from writing and thinking and talking and forming ideas. I'm tired from being able to find passion in the day. I used to be tired from hauling hundreds of pounds of glass and metal around job sites, tired from cuts and bruises and my back and my arms and I will take the exhaustion of passionate life over damn near anything.

Honestly – and this is an evergreen statement – thank god for Dogs.

Bowie is the chief architect of my favourite ritual. At 1:30 am he wakes me up so I'll move over a little on the bed, make room for him to jump up and sleep next to me. Sometimes the TV will still be on from where Lysh and I fell asleep watching old episodes of The Good Wife or Beat Bobby Flay. The haunting light of a projector illuminating an otherwise dark room, shining on the space next to a body perfect for a dog to rest. Sometimes it's pitch dark, still and quiet. But I know he's there, and it's annoying and comforting to engage in the ritual of interruption with him.

At 4:30, or thereabouts, we wake up for real. I start the coffee, put on my comfiest clothes that smell the least in need of cleaning and we go for a walk.

This is an ungodly hour to be awake, and it is perfect. It's my only time to be truly at peace, alone, unbothered, untethered. Bowie looks for grass to sniff, to see if it sniffs different than how it did yesterday and all the yesterdays before. and I listen, sometimes to the birds to see if their songs are new today, but more often than not to music or podcasts. To catch up, to move through songs that haunt my brain as I lurch my way through endless plodding mornings. Pre-coffee, half asleep, mostly alive, grateful to be here.

At 6 this morning I decided to at least do something here.

Here's where I'm at:

I get a lot of PR emails, and far too often I just don't have time to read all of them. But then a name or an idea floats into my inbox and I know I can't ignore it, letters in a subject line that demand attention and this is how I learned about Arcadia Grey.

queer and trans emo from Chicago.

Tell me more.

I'm often worried that I'm too old to feel anything that I'm sure I've felt before. I'm 41, almost 42, almost dead, almost forgotten. But I was once alive, and I was once alight with the feeling that everything mattered, that everything was important, that every stray disastrous emotion needed to be chased.

Arcadia Grey reminds me that I still have a lifetime of tumultuous stray feelings to chase and feel. They feel like finding a CD in the back of a CaseLogic wallet, long forgotten, that belongs back in a discman glued to the dashboard of a $200 car on its last legs. They feel like sitting on the hood smoking cigarettes and looking to the night for answers to questions that are half-formed, never real. They feel at once like the memory of a life left behind, all while building the idea of all that is possible in the present.

This is the promise of revival. There's endless talk about the resurgence of 2000s-era emo, or pop-punk, or whatever labels we want to ascribe to scenes that allow reminiscence of days gone. It's easy to say that bands are revival bands, but harder to imagine that there is something so beautiful in taking the tones of ghosts in the rearview and turning them into something new in the present.

There's all of this in Arcadia Grey's music, but listen through Casually Crashing their new record and you will find so much more. It rings out like the product of deep desire, seeking restoration and community in death, loss, rebirth. All things. Drums crash and clatter around guitars that shred and swirl around you, a whirlwind you cannot help but give yourself over to. Coraline Kunda, voice and guitar at the center of this storm howls moves like a perfect spirit through the song, her voice rising and falling like motions of the moon as it stalks through the night.

The three corners of Arcadia Grey – Coraline Kunda on guitar and vocals, Nat Breeden at the bass, and Cooper Burton behind the kit - form something thunderous and atmospheric here, the whispers of a memory lingering in all the triumphant howls of the present. How blessed are we that emo can still emerge that hits and feels this good.

There are sad and tired days ahead of all of us, but this doesn't mean we cannot seek to find restitution with the lives we choose to build families around us. Their is humor, playfulness, and desire in difficult things, in grief and loss. That we build ourselves back with the strengths in the contrast of all these emotions is the promise of this life. This is where Arcadia Grey is hitting me, the strength in all contrasting and beautiful things.

Also, the song title "Everything is miserable and I am brooding alone in my dark room" gets me every fucking time. It's nice to feel as old as I sometimes do and still hold onto all the youth I have yet to claim.

Of my many questionable tattoos, one is an illuminati symbol on my inner elbow, which was a stick-and-poke I got in my living room based on a design I saw spray-painted on a dumpster behind a bar in the Yukon. Once, my at the time ten year old niece pointed at it, asked "is that an illuminati tattoo?" and when I said yes she said nothing, just left the room and left me wondering how far this all goes.

I still don't know.

This is how the illuminati works, suddenly they're just a part of you.

There's a new Illuminati Hotties single, "Can't Be Still" making a strong case for its inclusion on best of the summer playlists, and we haven't even gotten to the summer yet.

It's heavy, it's bouncey, its light and dynamic and full of life, as if built on a floor built of malleable steel, warped by magic. Sarah Tudzin has this innate mastery of melody, conjuring bangers that are fuzzy and bright all at once, like a lamppost struggling to be born in the darkness of a perfect evening. If you're thinking of building a playlist around this song, I paired it with Plumtree's "Scott Pilgrim" and it felt perfect and just and every day when I'm a little more tired than alive this all brings me back to myself.

How lucky we are to be alive and to be here to receive new gifts like this.

I'm on the subway, I'm commuting – which I don't often do – and listening to Jamie Loftus's new podcast Sixteenth Minute (of fame). A show about the internet's main characters, and what exists around these fleeting moments of ubiquitous eternally online notoriety. I am one of thousands who does not log off, and the machinations behind these memes and quick clips is fascinating to me. How the internet built the culture around us.

The first episode, on Antoine and Kelly Dobson, is incredible. It's the promise of all of this, that there are lives and half-truths and imperfections behind so many things that we take for granted as flashes and dying stars. It's no easy feat to give life to all the static images on our screens we would rather just take for granted, and one of Loftus's talents is this ability to make the people and ephemera of our world real and tangible. This is what happens here, and I can't wait to listen to more.

‎Sixteenth Minute (of Fame): hide your kids, hide your wife pt 1 on Apple Podcasts
‎Show Sixteenth Minute (of Fame), Ep hide your kids, hide your wife pt 1 - May 6, 2024