Thought Catalog


8 Annoying People You Need To Block On Social Media Before 4/20 Hits

Posted: 19 Apr 2016 08:15 PM PDT

vadim kaipov
vadim kaipov

1. The guy whose self-established uniform is a Brooks Brothers button down and a periwinkle Patagonia. God, this guy fucking sucks. He's going to tweet the maple leaf emoji six times in a row at 12:57am, as he's in his uber home from going out on the 19th. He will definitely high five someone at exactly 4:20pm.

2. The girl who told everyone she bought a "totally sick pipe" from some guy on the street when she went to the Bahamas for spring break. She's never actually purchased any drugs before in her life—she's only ever been smoked out by the guys who lived down the hall in her apartment building. She's going to take one Snapchat photo of her holding her pipe with the caption being something like "lololol let the festivities begin~*~."

3. That guy you went to Catholic school with who ended up going to college in Oregon/ Colorado/ Vermont, and who now lives on, like, a commune in the middle of the mountains somewhere. His profile picture shows him sitting on a front porch, wearing a tie dye shirt. Maybe a bandana too. He's not going to be posting anything because he's going to be too high to remember to do it, but just the knowledge that he actively recognizes 4/20 as a real holiday is enough to remove him from your newsfeed.

4. Your roommate from freshman year who seriously introduced herself to you by saying her biggest pet peeve was being in the presence of people who were "bad at rolling joints." Really, that was her biggest pet peeve. She openly left rolling papers out on her desk (you always thought it was kinda hilarious that she got these using her parents' Amazon Prime account) and would chain-smoke whenever she got drunk. Her social media presence from 4/18 until 4/21 will be a certifiable nightmare.

5. All of your younger sister's high school friends. They will give you a headache from all the inevitable eye-rolling, they don’t know any better.

6. The guy who has previously made Facebook status rants about how "late to the game" and "stupid" it was that the state he currently lives in hasn't legalized marijuana yet. You highly (pun intended) doubt that this law decision would drastically improve or change his life at all. He's tweeted his concerns about legalization (and the lack thereof) at Ted Cruz about 23 different times—you're not quite sure why. He will inevitably post a photo of Bob Marley somewhere.

7. Absolutely anyone you know who purposefully includes "4/20 friendly" in their bio on dating apps. Come on.

8. The actual stoner you met while studying abroad, who you thought was hilariously strange and fascinating. He looks like the type who probably lives (or eventually will live) in a nudist colony. He's the type to unwittingly stumble upon an orgy somewhere and just decide to roll with it. He's a loner, but he gets a ton of social media support from his other stoner friends, so you catch yourself reading his high thoughts as you're scrolling through a bunch of BuzzFeed posts on Facebook. They're pretty fucking weird. Especially when he posts stuff about space. You’re not ready for what he has to say on 4/20. TC mark

15 People On The Most Ridiculous Thing They Ever Did While Stoned

Posted: 19 Apr 2016 08:12 PM PDT

Knocked Up
Knocked Up

1. “Once in high school my friends and I decided it would be a good idea to hot box in a car wash, and then I drove home after. I was so messed up and I actually ended up running the car into the house. To be fair, it wasn’t like…HARD. But when my mom came out all, “Holy shit you just ran your car into the house!” I actually told her to chill. I wasn’t great at smoking.” — Kari, 26

beetlejuice

2. “I was so stoned and thirsty and my dry mouth was so terrible I CHUGGED my buddy’s spitter bottle. I almost threw up it was so nasty. Don’t get me wrong; I laughed. But also almost threw up.” — Tim, 22

beetlejuice

3. “My friends and I used to drive around our hometown on Ash Wednesday and just smoke all day. (I know, we’re terrible.) One time I was driving and I could feel the pot turning on me so I just pulled over, hurled all over the side of the road, and kept driving.” — Jenny, 25

beetlejuice

4. “I sat an all you can eat Mongolian Grill gorging for four hours. By myself.” — Kyle, 27

beetlejuice

5. “One of the first times I ever got high by myself things just took a turn. My heart was racing so fast I thought for sure I was having a heart attack. I called 911. The operator was really nice and talked me down but man, that was dark Thursday afternoon.” — Brianne, 21

beetlejuice

6. “Our high school took 4/20 really ‘seriously’ and would bring in drug dogs and maybe, an extra cop to try and scare all of us into staying sober. I did a wake and bake and went up to a drug dog and told him to ‘be a homie’. Definitely got in trouble. Shocker, I know.” — Brooks, 28

beetlejuice

7. “I was so high I was CONVINCED I sounded just like Lana Del Rey. I woke up the next morning to several HOURS worth of videos of me singing “High by the Beach” on Photobooth.” — Jenna, 22

beetlejuice

8. “Lit my bangs on fire. Didn’t panic, just kept blazing.” — Caitlin, 25

beetlejuice

9. “This was on salvia, not pot, but I was absolutely CERTAIN I was melting into the couch. I proceeded to have a full blown panic attack and start yelling for my friends to help me, but when you’re on salvia your words just kind of come out like gibberish. So I was screaming incoherencies while flailing on this couch and no one knew why. Super funny after the fact, super awful while it was happening.” — Andrew, 29

beetlejuice

10. “My boyfriend’s mom caught us smoking on the deck and I tried to do that Danny Zuko/T-Birds move where they flip the cigarette into their mouth to hide it. I just ended up seriously burning my mouth and later puked up ash.” — Marley, 20

beetlejuice

11. “I taught my 17-year-old cousin how to smoke out of apple at our Grandpa’s funeral. Not my classiest moment, but we bonded so whatever.” — Sarah, 23

beetlejuice

12. “Stole a pizza delivery by pretending to be my upstairs neighbor. I’m not proud, but it needed to happen.” — Theo, 25

beetlejuice

13. “We made a slip n’ slide out of tarps and cut up raincoats and laundry detergent in our backyard. Seems fun, but we DESTROYED the backyard and it killed any chance of us getting our deposit back.” — Garrett, 24

beetlejuice

14. “I was so high I decided that taking a random pill on the ground at Sasquatch was a GOOD idea. Luckily nothing happened but come on…that was really f*cking stupid.” — Kat, 23

beetlejuice

15. “I made my boyfriend lay completely still on top of me while we were having sex. I was spinning and it needed to stop. He didn’t even question it. Yeah…He’s a keeper.” — Rachel, 24 TC mark

17 Struggles You’ll Only Recognize If You’re An ‘All Or Nothing’ Relationship Kind Of Girl

Posted: 19 Apr 2016 08:00 PM PDT

Noël Alva
Noël Alva

1. You cannot play it cool when you start crushing on someone. They say hello and you’re instantly planning which song you’ll dance to at your wedding.

2. You know within the first 20 minutes of meeting someone if you’re going to fall for them. You can’t explain it, but you just do.

3. And sometimes, people will tell you even if you don’t *feel* something at first, you should give someone another chance. You get tired of explaining that it has nothing to do with being picky, you just know when you know.

4. Even though you can fall very intensely for someone, that doesn’t mean it happens very often.

5. But when it does? OH BOY. Buckle up, it’s about to be a rush.

6. When you heard the Drake lyric 0-100 real quick, you assumed he was talking about your love life.

7. It’s not uncommon for you to go through long periods of being single. You can’t force yourself into something if your heart isn’t fully there.

8. You live in a fantasy world 50% of the time.

9. …Mmm, maybe a solid 75%.

10. You are constantly teetering the line between Very Thoughtful and Kind Of Creepy.

11. You can find hidden meaning in a comma placement.

12. You’ve definitely Googled someone you barely know to figure out if they’re single.

13. You just get really strong feelings, okay?!?!

14. You’re absolutely terrible at casual dating. Your brain just can’t seem to work that way. So like, we’re seeing each other? But not committed? So like, what do I call you? That person I sometimes hang out with but like, lol, it’s no big deaaaal. ??!?!? *instantly develops an ulcer*

15. You’re always calculating when you can let someone know just how into them you are so you don’t immediately scare them off. “Like, it’s fine. I just think you are so cute and smart and wonderful, and I think about you all the time. I’m breezy :) :) :)”

16. You usually say “I love you” much more quickly than everyone else. You just don’t know how to silence your bursting heart.

17. You’ve been very upset when someone asks, “What are we?” because you thought it was clear. You’re getting married one day, obvi. TC mark

17 Expectations You Need To Let Go Of In Your 20s

Posted: 19 Apr 2016 07:15 PM PDT

MagdalenaRikanovic
MagdalenaRikanovic

1. You’re meant to be extraordinary.

Extraordinary people are just that – rare. Recognizing this doesn’t mean you’re giving up on your potential, it means you’re dissolving the illusions you have about what it means to be your whole self and live your best life. We tout the “one in a billion” success story as though it’s the natural end goal of working hard and actualizing yourself. It’s not. The real question is what work are you willing to do even if nobody claps? What will be worthwhile if it goes unacknowledged? How will you feel loved by a few people if you aren’t recognized by many? Finding the exceptional in the ordinary is the real extraordinary. 

2. You’re at the beginning of your life. 

Some of you reading this will not make it through your 20s. Others won’t make it past midlife, or even past this year. Keep a skull on your desk if you must – nobody assumes they’ll die young, but that doesn’t mean they don’t.

3. Your faults are more forgivable, and your attributes are more exceptional.

Believing that you’re less responsible for your misgivings and that you’re more exceptionally skilled at your strengths is the mindset to which many people default, but it ultimately just keeps you small. If you don’t acknowledge the magnitude of the poor choices you’ve made, you’re bound to justify doing them again; if you live and act as though you can slide by because you’re ever so slightly better than everyone else, you’ll never actually try.

4. You can literally be whatever you want.

If you don’t have the IQ of a rocket scientist, you cannot be a rocket scientist. If you don’t have the coordination to be a professional dancer, you won’t be a professional dancer. Wanting something badly enough doesn’t qualify you to have it.

You cannot be whatever you want, but if you work hard and don't give up and happen to be born to circumstances that facilitate it, you can maybe do something that crosses your abilities with your interests. And if you're really smart, you'll figure out how to be grateful for it, even on the difficult days.

5. You can outsmart pain.

You cannot think your way out of pain. You cannot predict it, or avoid it, or pretend you don’t feel it. Doing so is living a fraction of the life you were meant to, and it will make you a fraction of the person you’re supposed to be.

6. Love is something other people give you.

People cannot transmute emotions, which is interesting to consider when you realize how utterly consumed the human race is with the concept of getting other people to love us. This is because when we think other people love us, we give ourselves permission to feel love. It’s a mind game, one in which we rely on everyone but ourselves to allow us to feel what’s already inside us. (If you think love is something that exists anywhere but within your own mind and heart, you will never have it.)

7. Feeling something deeply means it’s “meant to be.” 

The intensity with which you experience something (or someone) does not equate to how "destined" it is. Many people deeply feel they're called to be famous in their field, but they do not have the skills or the grit to make it; most people who get married feel deeply they're in the right relationship, but that doesn't mean it won't end it divorce someday.

Breakups are meant to be. Job losses and hurt feelings and disappointments are, too. How do we know this? Because they happen, and often, they are the most pivotal redirects. Forget the final picture you want your life to amount to. It will never exist the way you think it should, and in the meantime, it will only ensure that you waste what you do have in the moment. There’s only one final destination here – the only thing you’re rushing toward is the end of your life.

8. If you work on yourself enough, you won't struggle anymore.

If you work on yourself enough, you'll understand what the struggle is for.

9. You can control what other people think of you.

You can control how you treat people, but you cannot actually control what they think. The idea that behaving a certain way will illicit a certain response is a delusion that will keep you puppeteering through your life. It will distance you from the person you want to be and the life you want to live. And for what? People are going to judge, criticize, condemn, love, admire, envy and lust based on their own subjective perceptions regardless.

10. Hard work guarantees success.

If you’re looking for any one particular outcome as the end-goal of your hard work, you’re most likely going to end up disappointed. The point of hard work is to recognize the person it makes you, not what it *gets* you (the former you can control; the latter, you can’t).

11. Your thoughts will change themselves when your circumstances change.

Most people assume that when their lives change, their thoughts will change. When they have someone who loves them, they’ll think they’re worthy of love. When they have money, they’ll have a different attitude about it. Unfortunately, the opposite is true – when you adopt a new mindset about money, you’ll start behaving differently, and then you’ll be in a different fiscal position, for example. Your mind creates, it is not created.

12. Other people are responsible for your feelings. 

The only place you have complete control over what’s said to and around you is in your home. Otherwise, you exist in a diverse world of many people and opinions of which are likely to “offend” you at some point or another. If you want to assume you are the focal point of everyone’s life and ascribe meaning to every passing comment and idea that doesn’t soundly resonate with your own belief system, you’re going to live a very difficult life. Changing how other people think and treat you is not a matter of how outraged you get, but how willing you are to explain, teach and share. Defensiveness never precedes growth, it stunts it.

13. Emotional intelligence is infallible composure; self-esteem is believing you are supremely, completely “good;” happiness is a product of not having problems. 

Emotional intelligence is the ability to feel, express and interpret your feelings productively; self-esteem is believing you’re worthy of loving and being loved despite not being supremely, completely “good” all of the time, happiness is a product of how you cope with your problems, and whether or not you see them as the opportunities they are.

14. The right person will come at the right time.

You will not be ready when the love of your life comes along. You also probably won’t be ready when you see the listing for your dream job, or to buy a house or maybe have a kid or maybe quit that job and try to write the book you keep thinking about or get sick or lose a relative or die yourself. If you wait on the feeling of “readiness,” you’ll be waiting forever, and worse, you’ll miss the best of what’s in front of you.

15. You can postpone your happiness, or save it up like money in a bank. 

People postpone their happiness to keep themselves safe. They dig for another problem to have to solve, another obstacle to overcome, another passageway until they can feel the happiness they know is in their lives. You cannot save up your happiness, you can either feel it in the moment, or you miss it. It’s that simple. It’s temporary regardless. The only variable is whether or not you ever felt it in the first place.

16. Anxiety and negative thinking are pesky irritants you just have to learn to thwart.

Anxiety is one of the main driving forces that has kept you – as well as our entire species – alive. Struggling with a crippling overabundance of it usually means you’re not listening to it, or there’s some major issue in your life you refuse to address or take action on. The power of negative thinking is that it shows us what matters, and how we need to respond to our lives.

17. Focusing solely on your own needs will make you happiest. 

Despite what many corners of the Internet would have you believe, self-sufficiency is just a precursor to happiness. It is the foundation. It is crucial, but it is not the connectedness on which human beings thrive. Committing, sacrificing, trying and trying again for the people you love and the things you believe in are what make a life feel worthwhile. Meeting your own needs is the first step, not the ultimate goal. TC mark

I Do Not Have Any Love To Give Right Now (And That’s Okay)

Posted: 19 Apr 2016 07:00 PM PDT

kendrasyrdal
kendrasyrdal

I’ve always been a giver.

When I was little I found an abandoned robin’s nest in our backyard between two pine trees. None of the eggs were cracked or damaged, and the nest was almost perfect. Despite falling from it’s original perch, it survived.

I brought the nest inside and made a new home for it out of a shoe box surrounded with bandanas, dish towels, and tissues. I put it directly underneath a lamp to keep the little blue eggs warm, and I became obsessed with the idea of raising my own baby robins.

But as much as I loved my hypothetical bird children, as much as I gave to try and save them, there wasn’t anything to do. Whether it was from their tremendous fall from whatever branch they’d previously been on, or because they’d been exposed to the elements just a little too long, or because their mama bird had left them alone, those little blue eggs never hatched. I remember sitting with my nose basically in the shoebox under the lightbulb, wishing and hoping to see some form of life. I remember giving all the love 7-year-old me had to give to these helpless little eggs, but nothing came from it.

Because, sometimes love simply isn’t enough, and giving it won’t get the things that you so desperately want.

During my first serious relationship I was volatile, I had a temper. I would say things I didn’t mean and drive my boyfriend towards yelling and screaming, which he hated. We would storm out of places, slam doors, say awful things to each other in the “heat of the moment”. Our fights would escalate to a place of cruelty I was embarrassed by, and they would always leave me feeling guilty for the venom I would spit his way because of feeling attacked.

But I would always feel bad.

I would show up at his house, apologies in tow, but also toting around presents to say I was sorry. I would buy shirts, cook, clean, buy video games, all with the unsaid sorrys attached to them. He joked that I tried to show my affection with money, and that I would always try to buy his love because it was easier than saying it. I would give and give and give to try and make up for all of the taking I did from being 21 and selfish.

But eventually, there wasn’t anything left for me to give him. He wanted a love I could not provide and so we parted ways with empty hands and even emptier hearts.

I’m currently more alone than I’ve ever been, yet I also think I’m more peaceful than I’ve ever been. The only people I give to are the voices I find so much inspiration from and want to nurture in my inbox, and to my dog who frankly, is perfect. I’ve spent the last year learning how to stop trying to give to other people, and instead just give to myself.

I think I’m so focused on the love I have for this new life, and for this new sense of balance that there isn’t any love to give to another person.

And you know what? I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

There is a weird sense of calm that comes with realizing that you’re more in love with yourself than anyone else. For the first time in my entire life I’m more focused on what I want, what I need more than anyone or anything else. I’m focused on a career that I love, making connections with writers I’ve admired for years, and really making sure that the person I’m taking care of first and foremost, is me.

I have no other love to give to anyone else at the moment, and I think that’s okay.

When you grow up as a giver, it can be easy to allow yourself to be picked clean. It can be easy to let yourself be walked all over and take care of everyone else instead of yourself. In being so giving, so generous, you save nothing for yourself and it can take a turn where you allow everyone else to be full while you are empty and wanting.

I’m being selfish and saving my love for the things that only I deem worthy and necessary. I’m only giving to the things that I feel like actually deserve to get me. It’s me first, them second. And that’s how it’s going to stay for a while.

Maybe forever.

But for the first time in a long time, I feel satiated. I feel full.

And that’s not only okay…that’s everything. TC mark

I’m Not The Girl You Will Chase

Posted: 19 Apr 2016 06:00 PM PDT

jakestrongphotog
jakestrongphotog

I've always been told that guys like a good challenge, the girl who gives them a bit of a chase. I'm advised that if I want something with a guy to work out, all I have to do is stay away.

The girl I imagine may or may not respond to your texts, and there is only a slight possibility she will hangout with you on Saturday night.

She's not doing it to play games, though, not always. The girl I'm thinking of just knows better.Eventually you'll catch up to her, though. You'll go to dinner or coffee, and you'll start to hear her story. You'll learn why she chose to major in political science, and why she ended up veering away from psychology. How she got that tiny scar on her pinky finger just above the knuckle. She'll talk about being the youngest of four and the only girl. Her favorite book is Twilight and, no, she's not at all embarrassed to admit that.

But the best part of it all is that she wants to know your story, too. She wants to know how you got your scars. She asks where you fall in your family tree and how this affected you. She's curious about your aspirations and the dreams you gave up on long ago. And the weird part is you're not afraid to tell her.

That outing then turns into several more, and eventually you'll be dating. You'll meet those three older brothers, each exactly as she described them. She'll meet your mom and they'll bond over shitty teen literature. You'll shake her dad's hand and say it's nice to finally meet him.

And then one day it's three years later and you're watching Netflix with her on a Saturday night. It's then you realize how comfortable all this is. How right she feels nuzzled up on your arm and how, finally, you think you might be okay to settle down, as long as it's with her.

You see, I am not the girl you will chase. I am the driveby. I am a text sent at 2am when you're stumbling home and feeling lonely. I'm the headache that comes in with the early morning hangover that can't seem to get the hint that you have shit to do and this isn't how you can spend your day. I'm the one you'll send home alone, and you won't ask me to text you when I get there to make sure I'm alright; though I wasn't alright when I got there, so what does it matter really?

I'm not the girl you will lose sleep over, nor am I the one you'll tell your friends about. I'm convenient. Quick and easy. I respond to texts fast and never leave you hanging. I'm just the girl you'll just eventually forget, but the one who will remember you vividly. The one who learned from you and others that she wasn't worth much of anything. TC mark

Matthew Welch, Bagpiper and Composer: ‘My Music Sounds Like An Optimistic View Of The Future’

Posted: 19 Apr 2016 05:55 PM PDT

Matthew Welch. Image: Michael Weintrob
Matthew Welch. Image: Michael Weintrob

The Sound ‘Continues To Move In Space’

An avant-garde bagpiper may not be the guy you expect to meet, even here at our eclectic Music for Writers. But lastweek, that’s exactly who MATA Festival audiences in New York heard from.

Matthew Welch’s MATA-commissioned Comala’s Song was given its World Premiere on Tuesday, and he improvised with fellow MATA-commissionee Helen Papaioannou and ICE’s Ryan Muncy in the MATA Funhouse program on Thursday.

Notice one of the areas in which Welch is a lot like many of our #MusicForWriters composers: he’s a performer, too. This latter-day resurgence of performing composers on the contemporary classical scene is one of the most intriguing elements of the widening story we focus on in these interviews.

“The bagpipes are actually incredibly difficult to play…I often feel like I have to be in somewhat of an ecstatic or adrenalized state in order to play the music.”
Matthew Welch

And the good news is that an artist like Welch proves once and for all that “Amazing Grace” is not the only thing you can play on bagpipes.

As you read our conversation, listen to some of the SoundCloud selections of his work that I’m dropping in for you. You’ll hear exactly the stately, majestic, heart-breaking drone of the Highland pipes you expect in some of these selections — and you’ll remember, yet again, how intense and quick a connection the voice of the pipes can make with your emotions. And in other instances, you’ll hear utterly different audio-scapes from Welch. As I told him, his piece called “We Love You Madly” could make Debussy cry; it’s as impressionistic in tone and bearing as the afternoon of the last faun you met.

So basically, I started where you have to start with an American in 2016 whose thing is bagpipes. And what bonnie answers this Welch has for us, too.

‘The Contemporary Landscape’

Thought Catalog: Trust me, I’m actually a fan of the pipes, but how doesone become a virtuoso in this instrument? Such a rare and distinctive focus in a career — how does one come to it? Are you Scottish?

Matthew Welch: The bagpipe, and particularly the sound of the bagpipe, is something I was drawn to early on as a kid. Once I started playing, there was no greater goal than to master the instrument. With that goal in mind and that clarity of the goal, I was able to do it fairly quickly, but there was also a steady trail of other musics that I started to to get interested in. None were as high a priority for me as piping, but they sort of enhanced my general musicality and understanding of what was possible in sound.

TC: What’s it like to play bagpipes? It looks incredibly difficult, actually, and the kind of nuance you get into what you’re doing is fantastic. (I’m thinking of “The Favrile Opalescence” in which we hear you working the pipes over what, a celeste?) This has to be difficult, because as I hear it, the instrument doesn’t seem to offer a lot of subtle sound adjustments. Is that unfair to the pipes? And how are you able to get such a range of “voice” from them?

“How a sound is produced is not necessarily always an interest. More of a primary concern to me is what the sound is, and how it continues to move in space after it begins.”
Matthew Welch
Matthew Welch. Image: Provided by the artist
Matthew Welch. Image: Provided by the artist

MW: The bagpipes are actually incredibly difficult to play. One has to essentially be in shape, but also mentally in tune with what one wants to do with the instrument. Concentration is key to making the proper sound come out; I often feel like I have to be in somewhat of an ecstatic or adrenalized state in order to play the music.

Once I mastered the fundamentals of the instrument, I began to explore new avenues of sound production, new techniques, and new ways to shade expressivity. I also broadened my musicianship by performing gamelan and saxophone, and learning to generate compositional content in real time through improvisation. All of this reflected back on the pipes in a way where I could move the instrument toward those ideas, albeit somewhat blindly!

TC: And now, as a composer: Have you got range or what? You’re  associated with your fine work on pipes, and yet as a composer you give us something that could make Debussy cry. Talk to me about the (at least) two faces of Matthew Welch — how easily does the compositional side of your creativity sit with the performance aspect? You’re even working in gamelan. [This is the Javanese and Balinese “bell orchestra,” comprising metallophone instrumentation played with mallets, one of the world’s most completely distinctive sounds. And, by the way, Debussy was strongly influenced by gamelan, himself.]

MW: Composing and performing music initially went hand in hand for me, for an extended period of time. I often thought of composing as a means for having new and interesting music to play. I also wanted to have my compositions immediately performed, so I was interested in writing music that I could perform myself.
When I started playing gamelan, it seemed like the polar opposite of the bagpipes. Eventually I discovered that the two have some characteristics in common, but I also still think of them as very remote. On the one hand, the bagpipes can produce a solo music that has multiple sounds and can be completely self-sufficient. In gamelan, there are many voices working towards a common goal. Reconciling those differences is an essential composerly aspect of my ensemble writing.

‘A Very Filled-In Sound World’

TC: The “Sudamala” is so profound and with such a sense of bravura to it. Is this sound of something grand, glorious, serene, triumphant, I don’t know, is it an indigenous element of the pipes’ sound? Or do we think of it this way because we associate the instrument with ritual occasions?

And do you find this factor carrying over into music you write that doesn’t engage the bagpipes?

Your quartet is full of movement, like water currents, lovely, and yet I still think I hear something of a kind of “pride continuo” underneath it all, as if the tonic of the pipes never quite leaves you. What do you think, is this majestic sound as invasive of all you do as I think it might be?

MW: One essential component of piping is continuous sound production, and a particular type of sustained energy that goes into producing that sound. Even some of my earliest compositions — many of which tried to evoke, say, the mood of Morton Feldman’s piano music — still examined how sounds are sustained; I generally like a very filled-in sound world, as is the case with both bagpipe music and gamelan

For instance, in my Second String Quartet, I wanted to propel a certain amount of energy forward in the same way that you do so in playing the pipes, through constant wind pressure. That propulsion most effectively comes from continuous sounds, either in repeated rhythms or drones, sustained volumes in long notes, or in a quite and intense sound world, again reflective of Feldman.

Much of this is also influenced by the less-sophisticated aspects of bagpipe construction; Certain advancements in instrument building, namely those that occurred between the 17th and 19th centuries, were primarily associated with refining or broadening the way that the instruments were articulated. How a sound is produced is not necessarily always an interest. More of a primary concern to me is what the sound is, and how it continues to move in space after it begins.

‘Dissolving Borders And Interacting Cultures’

unnamedTC: Okay, here’s the hardest thing I ask composers: what does your music sound like?
I like to ask this because we can all come up with myriad things to say about someone’s work but sometimes hearing from them what they think they’re doing is wonderfully informative: it gives us a new thing to listen for, a new way to feel closer to what you’re after.

MW: I think my music sounds like an optimistic view of the future.
Describing it as having a “postmodern sound” is to use an already outdated term.>I’m not intending to produce dissonant combinations of music languages, or juxtapositions that reflect the pace and messiness of contemporary life. If we look at the innovations of 20th-century music, many looked toward a futuristic sound world, celebrated the sounds and products of machinery, or grappled with industrialization and urbanization.

Now, we’re going through a more transformative period, and I hope my music points to a new future, and a new era of global transparency.

TC: And where is this all going? What’s ahead for a piper-composer? I’m recommending our readers her listen to your “Piobaireachd: Looking At Loch Fyne,” so formidably sturdy and timeless. 

Are you the next digitally enhanced phenom? Or the last man to leave Loch Ness? [ ask this with nothing but affection, having made my own trips to Loch Ness and the Castle Urquhart, more than once.

MW: Perhaps a little bit of both.

As a piper I certainly understand the region of Loch Ness and certainly have made pilgrimages there, and that is actually where my Scottish ancestry comes from.

But I cannot deny the fact that I grew up in the United States, and learned to play all of my instruments through international travel. Most of what I learned about pipes and a great deal of what I learned about Indonesian music was prior to the Internet era.

Nevertheless, I think my music fits nicely into the contemporary landscape, dissolving borders and interacting cultures in all.TC mark

Now You’re Just A Stranger With All My Secrets

Posted: 19 Apr 2016 05:00 PM PDT

iStockPhoto.com / Epicurean
iStockPhoto.com / Epicurean

It's sad yet ironic that you're a stranger now but you know all my secrets. You have the keys to my heart and soul yet you can't get in. You are holding my secrets but you can't hold my hand.

You're a stranger who knows what keeps me up at night and what I'm terrified of. You're a stranger who once calmed my storms and made me feel safe.

You know my demons and you tried to fight them with me, you know my darkness and you used to guide me to find the light. You're a stranger who saw my dark side and told me that it makes me even more beautiful.

You know my deepest secrets and you promised not to hold them against me. You know the things that I couldn't tell anyone else and you know the lies I told everyone else. You're a stranger I once trusted with my life.

You know who my best friends are and who is secretly my favorite. You know who I count on the most and you know who I talk to when I don't feel like talking to anyone else. You warned me about some of them and you told me to fight for some of them and I always listened to you. You're a stranger who was once my best friend too.

You know my dreams and how I plan to achieve them, you know what I truly want and what makes me happy, you know how I plan to change the world and what I really want to be known for. You're a stranger who was once a dream come true.

You know my words and my silence and you understand my ramblings. You've read my journals and my diaries and you've read all my letters and you still have the letters I wrote to you. You're a stranger I once wrote about – you're a stranger I still write about.

You're a stranger I saw a future with, you're a stranger I was willing to love with all my heart, you're a stranger with memories that will remain engraved in my heart and you're a stranger who I once talked to about other strangers.

You're a stranger who knows exactly what I’ll do to get over you and how I will pretend to be fine when I see you but when I go home I will cry myself to sleep. You're a stranger who knows where I escape to heal myself because you were once my sweet escape and you once healed me.

Now you're a stranger who I have to pretend never moved me, that your touch never mended my broken heart, that your words never soothed my wounded soul, that your  smile never brightened up my day, that your strength never lifted me up when I was down, that your eyes never made me forget all my worries and that your presence in my life never saved mine.

You're now a stranger who I once believed will never be – who promised he will never be. You're now a stranger who said he was different but then turned out to be like everyone else. TC mark

There Is No Right Way To Watch A Parent Die

Posted: 19 Apr 2016 04:00 PM PDT

Brandy Eve Allen
Brandy Eve Allen

When your parent is dying, nothing makes sense. There is no right and there is no wrong, there are barely even shades of grey in between. When it is happening slowly, you might even forget they are dying.

I forgot my father was dying, as fucked up and far fetched as that sounds. It had all happened so quickly and then he stabilized. Life went back to normal. He was dying, sure. But it wasn't happening right away anymore. So I forgot. I forgot that he was dying and that his body would slowly, but surely, shut down. I forgot that every conversation could be the last. I forgot and began screening his calls again. I forgot that I should be grasping at every opportunity to speak to him – to hear him while I could. Wasn't this the time I should be spending asking him all the important questions?

I forgot until his kidneys and liver started to fail suddenly. I forgot and then I wasn't sure what to do. I had wasted months, days, and hours and precious seconds. What could I do? How could I get them back? How could I escape this abhorrent person I had become? But the truth is, there was nothing and there is nothing to be done.

Run a bath. Run a bath so hot that it burns you skin. Fill it with so many bubbles they look like heaven. Those could be the clouds your parent will be sitting on soon. Get in the water and be in heaven with them. Forget that underneath the clouds there is water so hot it burns like hell. Sit. Let your skin become red and raw. Play with the bubbles. Make a bubble beard while below the surface your skin screams in protest.

Eat ice cream for dinner and laugh when you realize that the last text you sent your dying parent was "what colour is your urine today?". That could be the last text you ever send them. Laugh. Revel in the laughter.

Hate them. Hate them so much for destroying their body and leaving you.

Realize you are watching them die twice. Once right now, and once when it finally happens. When their last breath rattles from their lungs. Realize you cannot fucking wait to hear the death rattle because then it will be over. It will all be over someday.

Love them. Love them so much you want them to hold on until they are nothing but skin and bone. Love them so much that their skeletal form is better than them achieving peace at last. Forbid them from leaving you.

Scrub your skin in a scalding shower. Wash the scent of death off of you. Wash the fact that you are the girl with the slowly dying father right off of your skin.

Laugh about the fact that your parent doesn't know where they are half the time because there are so many toxins in their brain. Laugh and call them an idiot silently. It's okay. They will still love you.

And most importantly, no matter what you chose, how your grief shows itself, remember that there is no right and there is no wrong. Still love yourself even if with their last breath you hated them. Still love yourself even if with their last breath you were begging them to stay. Still love yourself, because there are no rules to this. Still love yourself, because you will be all that is left after. TC mark

Beating Yourself Up Won’t Inspire Change – So Try This Instead

Posted: 19 Apr 2016 03:00 PM PDT

zacharygilbert
zacharygilbert

We are generally quick to assume that self-hatred inspires our greatest changes.

We beat ourselves up about how our jeans fit in the hopes that it will force us to the gym. We bully ourselves about the promotion we didn't get, in hopes that it will make us work harder. We ridicule and blame ourselves for every wrong turn we take in life, assuming that the popular notion of being hard on ourselves will force us to do better next time.

We try to bully ourselves into better, stronger, more successful versions of ourselves.

Versions who are strong where we are weak. Versions who are strict where we are lax. Versions of ourselves who have let go of all our negative qualities and have replaced them with ceaselessly positive attributes. Traits that we don't yet possess. Traits that we only will and wish for.

But there's a fundamental error in this method of inspiring change and it's this – nobody wants to work hard for someone they hate.

Once we've identified ourselves as our own worst enemy, we've already lost the battle. Shame is a downwards spiral, that will do nothing but keep us trapped exactly where we do not want to be.

So next time you find yourself drowning in self-hatred, telling yourself that you have to get your act together, try this instead:

Instead of shaming yourself for not already being the person you wish you were, you have to find a way to identify with the person you want to become.

You have to measure who you are against who you want to be, and rather than picking out the ways in which those two people differ, you have to discover which traits they share.

If you want to be someone who is professionally successful, recognize the ambition you already possess.

If you want to be someone who is confident in love, recognize the genuineness you already apply to relationships.

If you want to be rich, famous, accomplished or otherwise exceptional, recognize your drive to do big, huge things.

Recognize that all the skills you need to become the person you want to be are already inside of you – they just require a bit of application and encouragement.

Because the truth about personal transformation is that it cannot happen if you feel as though you're fighting with yourself every step of the way. Nobody wants to work for their worst enemy. Nobody wants to help out a person they hate.

The truth is, we fight the longest and hardest for people we love the most. Now, imagine if the person you loved the most was yourself.

Imagine how hard you would fight for that person – to accomplish their goals, to get them to that finish line, to see them soar and succeed with flying colors.

You wouldn't mind putting instant gratification on the backburner for them. You wouldn't mind stepping outside your comfort zone to make great things happen for them. You would take whatever risks were necessary. You'd show the hell up for them, time after time after time.

Because that's what we do for the people we love.

We fight for them. We believe in them. We do whatever it takes to help them persevere and succeed.

And if you could only stop beating yourself up long enough to realize it, you'd discover that you're already ready to take those big, huge risks in life – and that all along, the only thing standing in your way has been you. TC mark