Strawberry Fields Forever…

Posted: February 22, 2014 in Monday Meme
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Dear Strawberry,

I am so sorry to hear about your loss.  A sentiment which makes me sound like I’m at a funeral, but then I believe that the death of a relationship is an awful lot like the death of a person.  It is normal and natural and almost mandatory to need to take some time to grieve about it.  And of course, everybody has to find their own grieving techniques.  Alcohol is a popular choice.  Chocolate and ice cream are both popular as well.  Some people find it cathartic to wail and moan and gnash their teeth.  Some prefer to ‘keep a stiff upper lip’ and ignore their grief until it goes away.  I personally like revenge.  I find that the act of identifying someone as the person responsible for my grief and helping the universe dump a warm, stinking pile of karma upon them both keeps me occupied so I don’t dwell on my own pain and gives me a warm sense of satisfaction and inner glow.  I’ll also be one of the first to admit that this is probably not the approach most people should take.

Angel of mercy or angel of wrath?

Angel of mercy or angel of wrath?

Oh, yes, hope is also an approach one can try to grieving.  I’ll be honest.  I’m a little too bitchy for hope to be the first tool in my personal toolbox of coping techniques.  When I have been wallowing deep in despair, when I’ve been convinced that my life is broken, that I’m a failure, that there is no way I can ever find happiness again, people talking about hope were spouting worthless cliches that I wasn’t ready to hear.  Confronted face-to-face (or blog-to-blog, as the case may be) with a person in pain, I want to say something that gives them hope, that helps them step away from the pain, but I’m so aware that words are just words and that therefore I’ve got nothing.  I’ve learned that hope and happiness are volitional emotions.  You choose to be happy; you choose to believe that somehow things will work out, and therefore keep putting one foot in front of the other while you see how things will unfold.  Happiness is a muscle, just like your deltoids and pecs, and if you choose to exercise it, it will get stronger.  The upside of this fact: I know things will get better, Strawberry, once you are ready.  The downside of this fact: You have to find the readiness within your self; absolutely nothing I say can plant it there.  The danger of this fact: we all want the benefits of physical exercise, we all know it is good for us and worth the effort, but we still have trouble making it happen.  Likewise, Strawberry, obviously you want to have a fit, strong, “happy muscle” (gosh, that sounds dirty.  I like it!) but it is still difficult to make that choice.  You are very lucky to have a friend as wise as Jefferson (And Jefferson, treasure that statement because I am sure the phrase ‘as wise as Jefferson’ isn’t in common usage…) for calling on all your friends to remind you why hope and happiness are a choice worth making, to encourage you to choose happy.

How about angel of sassiness?

How about angel of sassiness?

And as I’ve confessed, in my despairing moments, I just have a lazy happy muscle, and cannot get off my emotional/spiritual ass to choose happiness.  I generally find I have to work in stages: I have trouble believing I can choose happy while I’m in despair, but (thanks to my inner bitch) I can usually summon up a well of righteous anger and wounded pride, emotions that keep me moving.  “How dare my employer treat me like that, when I’m one of the best waitresses here!”  “I’ll show him!”  “No, Goddammit!  I’m too good to let something like this slow me down.”  Now seething anger is great because it keeps me going and because it is an outward directed venom not an inward directed venom.  But once I’m settled into anger and indignation, I’m a little unhappy with the sort of person that makes me.  It’s still a poison of the soul, and it still leaks some toxin inward.  But my forgiveness muscles are stronger than my happy muscles, so my second stage is to release my anger and return to being my usual happy-go-lucky self.

Another grieving technique that works for me is music.  When I’m playing games on my own head, trying to manipulate my own emotions, music works.  Create the right environment for a given emotion, create that hopeful-shaped hole in your surroundings, and there is a very good chance your emotional state will mold itself to fit that hole.  There’s a very good reason our moms all told us to act happy even when we weren’t and we would eventually fool ourselves.  Music is an external stimulus I can control to affect the internal emotions that are harder to train.  Now for years I’ve been bemused but regretful that my musical tastes tend to run to songs that are bitter, angst-filled, and sardonic.  I’ve tried to make romantic mix tapes in the past, and I’ve ended up scraping the bottom of my music collection and still having issues with both duration and quality.  A break-up mix tape, on the other hand… I’ve got this one.  So without further ado, I’m presenting you with your very own “Breakup Mix Tape” to help you through this difficult time Strawberry.  Loss and heartache suck, and I wish you weren’t going through them.  But I hope it will help a little bit to to hear some songs that express some of the same anger and pain you must feel, to be reminded both that you are not alone in your pain and that you have friends who feel for you and with you.

Hark, who is calling for an angel?

Hark, who is calling for an angel?

STRAWBERRY FIELDS FOREVER by the Beatles.  Included both because it has a mellow, “hey, everything will be all right” vibe and because the song’s name reminds me of you.

ABANDONMENT by Bif Naked.  Not only does Bif Naked have a beautiful voice, but this song perfectly captures the pain of being left by the wayside.

MY GIRLFRIEND’S DEAD by the Vandals.  A darkly humorous song about one approach to avoiding painful discussions of a break-up.  Plus the whistling means this song still sounds cheerful even while it deals with pain and heartbreak.

WE ARE NEVER EVER GETTING BACK TOGETHER by Taylor Swift.  A guilty pleasure.  I kind of hate to admit how much I like this song…

AIN’T GONNA HAPPEN by Katie Armiger.  Both of these songs are promises to avoid a messy, painful on-again off-again stage to a relationship… I compared the death of a relationship to the death of a person, and this is another way both deaths are similar: you want a quick, clean death-with-dignity, not a long drawn-out painful demise.

Looking for some inner peace...

Looking for some inner peace…

LET’S TALK ABOUT ME by the Alan Parsons Project.  Sort of a dysfunctional relationship song.  Also a chance to briefly segue to talking about ME, because since this is a fashion blog I do have to comment briefly on what I’m wearing.  As I started drawing the outfit together I was thinking I wanted to do elegant.  So I grabbed the AladyMonroeShape, and the Calla ImSoElegant hair in Champaign Blond, and kept the *JStyle Bella Pale I was wearing in my last post.  Looking through my inventory, my eye was caught by the Sweet Princesss Dress from 1 Hundred, which got me thinking princess.  I looked for a princess crown in my inventory and found a crown out of the Dirty Princess “Cinderfuckinella” costume.  Despite that name, I still thought I looked rather angelic, a thought that prompted me to grab source unknown angel wings.  And apparently my idea of an angel is somewhat “I’m gonna kick your ass” because once I was thinking angel it just seemed right to accessorize with a barbed wire collar (source unknown), Grumble razor bangles, Ellabella’s “whispers of love” piercing, and the Psychedelic tattoo from InfecteD.  I don’t remember where in the evolving process I added the love make up from UtopiaH to my face.  You can’t see it in any of the pictures so far, but I also have a source unknown shotgun waiting for me to call “draw” and become visible should I find a good picture to take with a shotgun.  (That is to say the shotgun will become visible.  I already am visible…)

SHATTERED DREAMS by Johnny Hates Jazz.  One of the truly great eighties songs, and I too wish I  could run away from an empty heart…

BETTER SORRY THAN SAFE by Halestorm.  First of all, Halestorm is a great band with a great sound.  I love them.  Second, it’s a nice twist on the breakup song.  The relationship in question is a decent relationship: it’s lasted a few years, he knows her well, (her “ins and outs”), he’s faithful.  But a decent relationship, even a good relationship, isn’t necessarily the relationship, the storybook one-true-love relationship and she thinks she should end it because she doesn’t want to settle for comfortable- she’d rather be sorry than safe.  So the song is hopeful but it’s a bittersweet sort of hope.

I bring tidings of great joy, muthaf###er! (Hey, I had to do at least one pic with the shotgun…)

I bring tidings of great hope, muthaf###er!
(Hey, I had to do at least one pic with the shotgun…)

THE RAINBOW CONNECTION by Kermit the Frog.  Speaking of hope, this is the most hope-filled, “our happy ending is out there somewhere” song I know.  I’ve always liked the Muppets, but I became obsessed after the summer of ’95.  I was going through some rough personal and family drama which there isn’t time or space to detail here, and most days my only happy time was my ritualized hour of escapism in the morning when I slowly ate some over-sugared cereal while one of the basic cable channels showed old Muppet Show reruns followed by Fraggle Rock reruns.  Ever since, I’ve associated the Muppets with my personal happy space, so they are a security blanket when I’m trying to recover emotional equilibrium.

MOVIN’ RIGHT ALONG by Alkaline Trio.  I did mention that I’m Muppet-obsessed, yes?  So you can imagine how excited I was when I heard about the Green Album, a release of classic muppet songs from the first movie and from the TV show covered by modern bands.  This song was the obvious choice to include in your mix, Strawberry, because of its sprightly, upbeat sound, because of its hopeful message (“We can head out and pursue a dream even if we don’t really know how to get there!”), and because Alkaline Trio is one of my all-time favorite music groups.

MARILYN, MY BITTERNESS by the Cruxshadows.  I have to admit, I was torn because there were several Cruxshadows songs I wanted to include in your mix tape, Strawberry.  I find the song “Birthday” inspiring- I’ve always liked songs with the message “make your moments matter because you don’t know how many moments you may have.”  “Winterborn” is a great song, very martial.  I like the message of persevering in the face of pain and fear, and the references to angles even fit my costume for this post.  Ultimately however, Marilyn, My Bitterness is not only spot on for describing the pain of a broken relationship, but the creation of a Lego video for it just adds a cute factor that has to bring a smile to your face.  Let’s face it, Legos are cute.  (Which is why the Lego movie is grossing so much money right now…)

Taking flight...

Taking flight…

SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW by Me First & The Gimme Gimmes.  “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” is another great song about hope and finding the place where you can be happy.  The ‘real’ version from the Wizard of Oz is the best, but you have to love the edge the song receives when Me First and the Gimme Gimmes cover it…

A LIFE LESS ORDINARY (NEED A LITTLE HELP) by Motion City Soundtrack.  Motion City Soundtrack is another band where I knew I had to include a song, but struggled to decide the best song.  I’m not sure which member of the band writes the songs, or if they are a collaborative thing, but their lyrics always seem to perfectly capture the somewhat fractured way my mind feels.  (Before, I just thought that was cool.  As I’ve learned more about ADD and the fact that I am one of the estimated 4% of people with ADD, I now believe the songwriter is also a member of the 4%.  If you don’t have ADD and want a better glimpse into what it feels like, go listen to Motion City Soundtrack’s “Everything is All Right.”)  I almost went with “Broken Heart” but I felt that “A Life Less Ordinary”, was a more hopeful song, because it underscored that you do have a gazillion and three friends, Strawberry, all of whom are eager to give you that little help to get you through it.

I could throw a few more songs in the mix, perhaps, but this is a good length.  (Besides, maybe we can all make mix tapes to share some time, so I should leave a few songs yet un-shuffled.)  Remember Strawberry- you have friends and are deeply loved because you have brought little touches of happiness to all our lives.  Please allow us to humbly return the favor during this time of grieving and healing.


Emily Marik


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