Pub #3 of 2017 is a non-fiction story in the brand new print Barrelhouse Issue 16. It’s called “Two M83 Songs With Screaming In Them,” and I wrote it about (yes) two M83 songs with screaming in them. It’s a lot about music (M83 yes, but the impetus for this piece was probably SUNBATHER, the Deafheaven album, which is fucking ridiculous) and a lot about motherhood, and about trying to balance motherhood with anxiety.
But, except for the scattered breaks (including the one at :53, is that screaming too? IS IT?), there’s no build. And the breaks aren’t relaxing – they make me realize how every part of me is on alert, how I’m almost panicked. It’s constant noise, constant up, constant on, constant fire.
My inner life: constant noise, constant up, constant on, constant fire. Constant what is next/I cannot handle what is next/but give me the next/give it to me now.
Sometimes I just need to feel at home somewhere. Sometimes matching the anxiousness is the only place I can breathe.
This piece has an incredible amount of influence in it from my writing buddy and friend Ryan Bradford, who has always empowered me when it comes to anxiety and art, particularly writing and music. First of all, I probably wouldn’t have a writing career without Ryan, but second of all, I wouldn’t have the language for why and how I find safety and comfort in uncomfortable things. I deleted a whole section about this from an early draft of the essay, but shout out to B-ford for my understanding of music, horror, dissonance, and yes, screaming, and the way they ascribe normalcy and nature to the panic, terror, and anxiety that otherwise feel wrong and not human.
But the thing is, and here’s the morbid part, it gets less easy. It gets slow, like the way “Gone” winds down and you don’t realize it’s winding down.
I think about this: If my children died today, oh god, I know them so well. They’re not just babies, they’re not just ideas, they’re not just potential. They are. I’d miss the way Edith scrunches up her face and makes her evilest possible sound when you suggest toast in the mornings. Years ago, when she fell off that chair in the kitchen, I wouldn’t have known to miss that.
I think about this: who thinks about their kids dying?
Barrelhouse, FYI, is an absolute delight and they are doing some of the best work in literature. They’re tireless advocates for arts orgs, for emerging and underserved writers, and for their contributors. Take my advice and get drunk with them when you can.
Proud of this one. Go buy it: http://www.barrelhousemag.com/shop/issue-16
And the dumbest, shortest playlist of the Two M83 Songs With Screaming In Them (listen on repeat for hours and hours to properly replicate my writing conditions, my life conditions) —