In my heart there is a 24-hour Lightning Bolt show, but my head says wear ear plugs, terrified of committing when my body is trying its best to sway and head-bang when appropriate. I become the ghost of genre, the corporeal re-enactment of decades I wasn’t alive in. I am wearing clothes owned by other men, maybe women, discarded. Listening to old records that have been scratched and handled by individually oily fingernails, scrubbed hands composite in the decision that it was worth the money or died, handing it over.

I can listen to the sounds of any song I want, so I stick to roughly four or five thousand, an island, a curse. I am regretting my predilection for melody, heart, emotion and wordplay. I am trying to remove the rhythm and compactness from pop and the elation and soul from anything else other than what has been approved by straight, white men 15 years my senior. I tell myself I am not like them or anyone else I know, and that wandering in the dark is possible when your lights are turned on and your laptop back-lit screen is brighter than the dim lamp illuminating eyelids at 2:48 a.m. I am convinced I will dream in Technicolor.

I have come to believe in clichés, because they make me comfortable. I have settled for conclusions on Brian Wilson, Prince Rogers Nelson and any number of emotional, physical, drug, dream casualties because I’m predisposed to become quiet when sad, rhythmic when angry. I have not learned that music doesn’t calm any damn beast, it just confuses it to the point of exhaustion. I am downplaying my best friend’s purchase of Fear of Music because I know it is one of the best records he’s ever bought. I am hoping my friends fail.

I long for a counterpart in my obsessions, knowing they would no longer be obsessions. I wield a day-long love affair with Sly Stone, replaying an album in my head on a bus trip and deciding it’s crap in the course of North Campus to CC Little. I’ve convinced myself that Aaron Dilloway’s Chain Shot will never be as good as the first time I heard it at 5:00 a.m. on my headphones while wearing basketball shorts and a t-shirt, believing for a few minutes that I was the only person in the world listening to it (unproven, likely true).

I have danced alone, which is no statement of pride but a confession that merits nothing but a cry for help. I tore my shirt off during a DJ set that lasted no longer than half an hour and was received by 20 or so drunk people who had nothing else to do. I believe in things that don’t exist. I sang into the mirror realizing I was utterly devoid of the emotions and words coming out of my chapped lips and buttered heart. Taking it seriously, seriously taking it too far.

I got bored at the Pike Room and decided it was all over and that coffee could change things and so could Sign ‘O the Times. I have shelves of books I have no intention of reading, cassettes that are heat-damaged, relationships I have failed to nourish. I have clutched the drooping plastic of bags housing vinyl I know I will never love enough. They will drape my living room like relics in an under-funded museum run by ingrates who pretend to drink a lot, too tired to get drunk.

I have told myself that “Whip My Hair” is a fluke when I know it’s an answer, and ignored the reality of death and familial decay. I have pretended not to care. I am touched by Trey Songz when shields are low, and cannot remove Alvin Lucier from the echoing chasm of my carefully guarded, half-deaf head. I tell people I will make time, finding the clock past midnight not returning from the ball. Staying out past my bedtime, affairs with reluctant lovers, tunes I forget in minutes I waste, matchmaking.

I have listened to quiet my head when it is loud and clamoring for silence after 21 years of noise. Accepting safety in the belief of hearing it all, casually admitting the skin that is scraped when Sun Ra launches, Suicide digs in and Julie London waltzes like a panther in vocal smoke. I tried to hold on when Lime told me it was magic, when I am lost in nine minutes dubbed like a lifetime in short — purpose forgiven when a soul achieves transcendence. Speaking without thinking, skipping over words like the melody of a week spent in absence of knowing you are singing dead songs breathed life.

Turn “it” up.

I will downplay the vulnerability I have for mirrors and facile dead ends. The realizations that occupy days in which eternity seems manageable and the grasp of hopeless future seems like a three-chord elegy written in feedback, food prepared with love and deliberation to come back for seconds. Knowing that one listen is never enough, and that infinity is a lifetime of defeat spun on minute hands, amplified, waves crashing however they choose on some precious, private, desperate shoreline.

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