When I was 12 years old, Steve Taylor released Squint, a disjointed solo album that I really enjoyed. The songs were a little uneven, but as a whole I enjoyed them. I was particularly fond of "Smug" and "Sock Heaven," and the opening track "The Lament of..." is a pretty awesome rock track as well.
I was never quite a fan of one of the hits, "Jesus is for Losers," but I accepted the message. The concept of the song is essentially "We're all broken, sinful losers and Jesus came to save us." Taylor was trying to send a classic evangelical message by turning it on its head.
I internalized that kind of messaging hard. I, Jeffrey Nordstrom, was a born horrible and unacceptable, such a horrible being that God had to send his son and kill him in order to make me acceptable.
The issue was, though, that I took it further. When I felt shameful, I assumed it was because I was intrinsically a shame; when people constructively criticized me, I assumed it was due to my sinful, broken nature; when I felt like crap, I felt like I deserved it; when people complimented me or praised me, I talked myself down in order to remind myself of mine and the world's sin of pride. Although I always knew I was an OK person, any time I even slightly felt negative about myself, I had an all-encompassing, supernatural reason to confirm my bias of wretchedness.
In the end, I never stood up for myself. Standing up for myself was evidence of pride. When I'd get yelled at or criticized or told-off, I just thought I deserved it. Sometimes I'd stand up for myself once, but after repeated attacks I'd assume the problem was with me. When I got called names, I'd think "There must be truth to this" and try to own it. It got me nowhere.
It didn't help that this brokenness seemed so virtuous in the religious circles I worked in. I heard so many sermons from so many different pulpits that seemed to back up this message, that I was horrible and only "worthy" if Jesus covered my sins. Being a "slave to Christ" was an ideal that I heard many times, and "turning the other cheek" was seen as a prime directive. Although I've moved on from those beliefs, they still sting in the back of my head every time I see someone act more patient, more generous, more thoughtfully than myself. These beliefs sit deep in my consciousness.
For the last few months, I feel like I've been redeveloping a bit of a sense of self. I'm a little more at peace with myself more than I have for a while. For the last few years, with therapy, counselling, reading, and vulnerable openness with friends, I feel like I've been developing a bit of a... me. I've been learning to accept that I'm allowed to have needs, to set boundaries, and to do things for myself now and then.
But then I realize just how far I have to go. I catch myself cursing myself, calling myself names, the same things I was called through all those years of supplicance. This will likely be a lifetime of deprogramming and trying to learn new systems. I need to set up better routines in my life and need to learn how to use my time more wisely, to motivate myself to do the things that make me happy. I think these things and then I curse myself again and it all starts all over again.
That's all. I have a long way to go because I started at a really low place. But I'm taking steps forward every day. So it'll be alright.
Two Saturdays ago at the restaurant, as soon as I came in and started to set up my equipment, a woman started asking for requests. She said it was her birthday and asked if I knew "As Time Goes By." Then she waited with her partner for 45 minutes while I got all set up, and I started the set with it.
"As Time Goes By" is a gorgeous little song, but admittedly it doesn't fit my overall attitude towards things these days. The song's decidedly affirmative of the status-quo: man and woman, man needs woman, woman needs mate, don't deny the patriarchy, etc..
I don't follow that doctrine anymore. As I sang the song, I couldn't help but question every second line as propaganda; by the time I was finished, I felt like I'd added to the patriarchal ether by performing it even while kids were in the audience. Sigh.
It felt a little icky, but that's how nostalgia works. When I posted this video to my personal Facebook page, a friend wrote,
And I guess that drives it home. It fits the post-war era perfectly. But how we've changed.
A few months ago, I got a Konica S2. I love this thing. Its photos seem astoundingly crisp and it seems to capture light in a unique, earthy way.
Here are some of the photos I took with it the first time around, using some trusty Kodak Gold 200 from Wal-mart.
Finally ran 10km in less than 50 minutes!
YouTube: ephemeral ideas
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