Shit I Have Enjoyed Recently

Worst blog owner ever. Shout out to my friend Dan for holding me accountable

ANYWAY here’s some stuff that’s been occupying my brain recently. A spoiler:

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Downton Abbey movie

When I saw this announced I made A Noise. I think the tech guys I work with thought someone was slowly letting the air out of me, like a balloon.

brandpBrando doing an impression of my actual face.

I’m refusing to let myself get too excited until I hear that Brendan Coyle is going to be in it. Please lord above, don’t do this to me.

Barcelona

Sean and I have been together for three years and this is the first trip we’ve been on together to visit his brother. I had an absolute BLAST in Barcelona – I’ll write another post on it specifically, but it’s a great city and I already want to go back. Patatas Bravas, I miss you…

patatas bravasGet this shit right into my face.

Mental Health

Not poor mental health as such, more poor planning and an inability to get hold of my GP. I ran out of Sertraline for nearly a week. It’s not the worst situation (my entire life doesn’t fall apart immediately) but the physical side effects of sudden withdrawal are HARSH.

If you’ve ever had brain zaps, you’ll know where I’m coming from.

WRITING STUFF

I’ve still been writing. I started what has the potential to be a novel-length…something, and I’m about 7000 words in. I’ve been messing about with various other wee things when I need a distraction. Some of them will see the light of day. Many will not. I don’t really care, I enjoyed myself.

Gaming

I made the mistake of downloading Pokemon Go in Barcelona. Now I’m hooked again. It makes the morning bus journey through Edinburgh more exciting.

pokwmon goEvery day’s a Pika Party in my town.

I’ve been getting into legacy games as well – we started playing Pandemic: Legacy, but we’ve taken a break from it so we can crack into Gloomhaven. I’m REALLY enjoying it – Sean’s been obsessed with it for a while so he’s quite thrilled that he can play it with me as well as his dungeon crew.

Plus Magic: the Gathering continues to dictate my life from multiple angles. I played in my first competitive event for years at the weekend, I’m going to be on staff at a comp event for the first time next weekend, and in between I’m usually talking about it, organising it or playing it.

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Tell me what you’ve been up to recently. GO.

The Notebook

I found something on the train a few weeks ago.

I’d been deliberating on my way to the station about whether to buy a new notebook – I’d had an idea for a story, and it had taken hold like a limpet. It seemed like the fates had aligned to make a decision for me when I found one down the side of a seat.

When I flicked through it, I saw it wasn’t newly-bought,  an escapee from a plastic bag. It was full of what looked like study notes, tiny doodles of creatures I didn’t recognise, and intricate, swirling letters, scripted over and over again in various shades of ink.

It was suddenly awfully heavy in my hands. I was holding someone’s notes, sure, and it’s awful to lose them midway through a semester, but it was more than that.

I felt like I was holding someone’s soul as well.

notebook

I’ve got more notebooks than I really need, all because I thought I needed blank pages to be the conduit for what I felt. Most of them are half-filled, bought for some project that never came to fruition, one burst of creativity that moved me so fiercely that I felt I might die if I didn’t transfer it to paper.

I tend to want to keep them pristine. One smudged line or poorly formed letter and it takes me out of the mood.

This is why I mostly write on the computer. Mistakes are clean.

But in those scribbles on the train I saw more than just notes and doodles from a dry class. I saw that place where things come from, a place deep in your soul. Whoever owned that notebook had bared themselves on the pages, moved by some force that I can’t explain or even adequately describe, a force that transcends brain and mouth and motor function. And mistakes.

I’d forgotten what that felt like.

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Looking in that book was like being caught in someone’s bathroom when you’re not supposed to be there. But it reminded me that those notebooks that I have stuffed in drawers aren’t just taking up space. I bought them because something was in me that was fighting to get out, something bigger than I am, and I wasn’t taking advantage of it. I was too bothered by making sure it was a work of art. A sign of one of my biggest flaws: if I don’t do it perfectly first time, it isn’t worth doing at all.

Which isn’t the way this game works. So thank you, whoever lost it, for reminding me of the beauty of filling a notebook, of carrying one around for when I need to catch my feelings.

I’ve got mine.

Ten Songs, Ten Memories

Inspired by Rhianna at Love Forty Down, I’ve compiled a wee list of ten songs that carry particular memories for me. My life has been soundtracked for as long as I can remember, and there are so many songs that pick me up and dump me unceremoniously in places that I’ve been…some that I would rather not be any more.

But we won’t talk about that. Let’s do some fun ones!

Crazy Crazy Nights – Kiss

This was my favourite song when I was about four. I used to sit on the living room floor with my dad’s enormous headphones on my little head, a copy of The Best Rock Album In The World…Ever in my hands. I’d read the track listing trying to match words like Genesis and The Cult and Alice Cooper to the songs, but Kiss were my favourite./

Just The Way I’m Feeling – Feeder

I had a miserable time in high school, so much so that it all kind of blends from day ayo dy. My clearest memory is sitting on the bus on the way home feeling completely numb, summer rain on the window, listening to this song.

Like a G6 – Far East Movement

I was a student when this came out, so naturally it was on in the student union every single night. It’s strange, really, the physical reactions that memories produce. I can’t hear this one without the taste of dry ice and cheap vodka building up on my tongue.

I’m glad I’m a gin drinker now.

Drop The Pilot – Joan Armatrading

When I was little (like, REALLY little) and we had a car with a cassette player and a tape my dad got for free at a Texaco garage. Literally the only time I can remember listening to it was on the way to see my granny and granda in Inverness. It had Tears for Fears, Big Country, Hothouse Flowers and The Commitments on it, but nothing drags me back to sitting in the back seat going up the A9, looking for landmarks like “The Funny Bridge”.

The Wire  – Runrig

I still haven’t recovered from the first time I heard The Wire, sitting in my bedroom one December evening with the rain against the window. This is the most beautiful song in the Runrig canon. It’s an ode to Scotland’s history and it stops my heart.

I couldn’t find a video that did it justice, but you should look it up on Spotify.

The Year One title music from Destiny

Destiny 2 is a crippling disappointment, but for all of the flaws the original game had…the experience of playing it for the first time, the friends I made and the good times we had means that this makes my arms prickle.

One by One – Cher

This was my first favourite song. My dad taped it off the radio for me and I sat with those big headphones on again and listened to it for god knows how long.

I must have been a really easy child to keep quiet. Also you can see that my eclectic music tastes are nothing new.

Star Me Kitten – R.E.M.

The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite was the first R.E.M. song I ever heard, but Star Me Kitten is the one that takes me places. I took a copy of Automatic For The People with me to New York when I was nine and Star Me Kitten with its choir background and soft vocals reminds me of lying on the grass in the sun, and big old houses, and trips to Martha’s Vineyard.

Cotton-Eye Joe – Rednex

Listen, Cotton-Eye Joe is a great song and I won’t hear any argument. I was four when this came out and I distinctly remember dancing about the living room with my sister over and over. And over and over.

My poor mother. No wonder she drinks.

There was a version of the song on the original single that we used to call the “Funny Language One”, and for years I was terrified that we were inadvertently being horribly offensive until I looked it up now that it’s just the verse played backwards. I’m both mortified and relieved.

Cid’s Theme – Final Fantasy VII soundtrack

When I first started going out with Sean, this was his alarm sound on his phone, and let me tell you I still can’t hear the opening bars of this song without my heart doing that awful thing it does when it’s dark and your alarm goes off and you’re wishing for the great hell abyss to swallow you so you don’t have to get out of bed.

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Please tell me what ten songs bring back your favourite memories because I love music. Or tell me your favourite song. Either is good.

What I’ve Done in March

Working in an office that has minimal natural light is hard. It screws up the brainio and makes my emotions feel like they’ve done a half marathon with no training. A couple of weekends ago my brain hit the wall. I dragged the duvet onto the couch and slept for nearly 24 hours.

But it’s reminded me what anxiety feels like, and it’s reminded me why I’m so thankful for SSRIs.

edinburgh-carlton-hill-landscape-scotland-161863

On SSRIs anxiety is like that funny noise your car makes, enough for you to notice it but you can turn the music up and drown it out and continue driving without worrying that something’s going to snap and send you into oncoming traffic.

Anxiety is driving down the motorway in the rain with no brakes.

pexels-photo-414564

When it hits, I want to not feel guilty every time I speak to my friends, my family, because I’m annoying. I want to not have something open and sit with my thumb hovered over the keyboard before I interact, thinking do I need to? Do I REALLY need to say something? Don’t I think I should just be quiet and not remind people how irritating I am?

I want to be on top of my life without feeling the strain. I want to be able to come home from work after twelve hours out of the house and write and play games and sit on the couch with Sean and laugh at stupid videos without looking at a floor I haven’t hoovered and crashing into pieces, and I want to be able to stay on top of everything without burning myself out.

I want to make everything better. I want to make the world better. I want to open eyes and heal hearts.I want to reach out and touch people who are suffering. I want to sleep away days at a time because people are so awful to each other. I want to do something about it. I can’t.

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I’ve been AWOL recently while I unpicked the weirdness in my brain that the dark was doing. Normally when I feel like this it’s a sign that I need to go back to the doctor and get another round of medication. But surprise! It was just the lighting. Now I know about it I can stop every couple of hours and take a breather on the steps. It helps.

Take a breather. Go outside.

Life update: not dead, ate potatoes.

Remember when I was ill earlier in the week? I’m still ill. At least now I feel like a human being and I’m eating plain cooked pasta and mashed potato like it’s the best thing on the planet. It’s so boring. I crave sauce.

Tomorrow is First Day At New Job Take Two, since I had to call in sick on Tuesday (which should have been my first day) and then push the start date back by a full week, much to my eternal shame. It was, however, a good decision, considering I haven’t eaten any real food for a whole week and spent several days wishing for death.

The most exciting day was Friday (Saturday?) –  I ended up reluctantly going to A&E after seven hours of chest pains that Gaviscon, indigestion tablets, ginger ale, milk, water, ice, painkillers and making myself throw up failed to conquer. I was there for four hours, during which time:

  • I was told I probably had indigestion (I nearly melted away from shame)
  • I spent a lot of time on my own on a trolley, because I told Sean I wouldn’t be long and to just wait for me in the reception. HA.
  • Some absolute rocket was going off his head at everything. The doctors, the fact that he was in hospital, the fact that he had to get a blood test, the fact that the blood test hurt, the fact that his wife (I presume it was his wife?) wouldn’t let him go home…Terry, u ok hun?
  • I had a bunch of tests, and was given my own “personalised bracelet”. This was suspicious, but I wouldn’t have been surprised if I was deficient in just about everything, so I thought maybe they were going to hard reset me with a drip and send me on my way.

band

  • Was told that my liver something gall bladder something in my blood test was elevated, and they were going to keep me in for observation.
  • Five minutes later I was told that after speaking to the surgeon (THE SURGEON, I’m thinking in alarm, I thought I had indigestion?) he was happy for me to go home.
  • Five minutes later the surgeon called the nice doctor back and said he wanted to come down and speak to me.
  • Eventually managed to escape after being lined up for a high priority MRI scan at some point to double check I haven’t grown a cheeky wee gallstone in the past three month.

My life is WILD. Imagine what I’ll get up to when I can do things like “stand up” and  “leave the house”.

We’ll find out tomorrow. Hopefully. Please.

 

I am so miserable, please send me ice lollies.

This week was going to be so good. I had a load of blog posts scheduled, I’d started writing a couple of other things, I’d had a good weekend away in Derby, I was ready for my first day at my new job…

Within a couple of hours of being home on Monday night, I was horizontal turned into the worst stomach bug I have had for about fifteen years. This morning I really wanted someone to come and put me down. It’s horrendous.

I suspect norovirus, but I’m not allowed to confirm with the doctor or mix with the general population. Probably just as well as everyone I see is starting to morph into walking chicken drumsticks, like in a cartoon.

I am SO hungry.

So yeah, I had to push start date of new job back after calling in sick on what should have been my first day. I’ve had to abandon my first week of a concrete streaming schedule because I can hardly stand up and look like death awoken. I haven’t been able to go and visit my granny because I’m Patient Zero. I haven’t eaten for four days, and for someone who’s obsessed with food this is the worst.

The only point of this post is because I’m feeling sorry for myself and I’ve bored Sean to death already by telling him every ten minutes how hungry I am and how miserable I am and how terrible I feel. Normal service will resume soon. In the meantime, please send me ice lollies and anything else that won’t turn me inside out when I eat it. Thank you very much.

bbe
The medical care has been top quality, however.

 

2018

Happy New Year!

Time for the annual reminder that New Year’s Resolutions are a sham. Lose weight. Go to the gym. Reinvent yourself. Change your life. The new year is like a brand new notebook, crisp and inviting, begging you to mark it with black ink and perfect handwriting. But the moment you make a smudge, it’s blemished. You can turn the page, but you know it’s there. It’s ruined. Give up.

 

In lieu of Resolutions, therefore, I’m setting myself Challenges. Any progress towards them is movement in the right direction, and it appeals to my grindy stubborn nature.

Learn to cook

Maybe “learn” isn’t the right word. I have no doubt that I can cook. I just hate it. I hate the mess, the cleaning up. I hate the feeling of my hands being sticky and dirty. I hate the time it takes to do the actual food preparation. Me vs. my lack of patience.

My mum used to put the radio on while she was baking, and I’m considering following her lead. I’ve had a few podcast recommendations, which would take me over the “cooking is boring” hurdle.

Now if I could find one that would stop my hands from getting grotty…

Scare myself

I’m notoriously feart when it comes to leaving my comfort zone. It’s an anxiety thing. Years ago when I was in CBT therapy one of the techniques was to set yourself tiny challenges that scared you and overcome them. I’m going to start doing this again.

First up: I’m planning a trip to my sister’s house near London, which involves me flying on my own for the first time ever. Gins away!

Drive on the motorway

Sure, I’ve passed my driving test. That doesn’t mean I feel like I can drive. I just project the illusion, as long as I don’t have to park or go anywhere I’ve never been.

One of my biggest stresses is driving on the motorway. In theory it’s just going at 70mph on a straight road and keeping an eye on the car in front of you. That part I can do. Overtaking? Nervy, but I can do that too. Merging from a slip road onto the motorway? Panic attacks for 1 mile.

See previous “doing things that frighten you”. If you see someone screaming in a Honda Civic, it’s probably me.

Organise

I’m constantly stuck in the awkward place of loving everything to run in military organisation and having a brain that haemorrhages information rapidly. Such is the conflict in my life.

When my sister asked me what I wanted for Christmas I said a diary, so I could at least make sure I knew where I was meant to be and when. She delivered. Look how cool this is.

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Coming up also: a great big house reorganisation, deleting all my junk emails, sorting all my writing into folders, organising this blog. And while we’re on the topic…

Organise (most of) my wedding

I can officially say I’m getting married next year. That’s TERRIFYING. We’ve booked the ceremony and reception venues, been to a wedding fair, and not done much else. I have no idea what planning a wedding involves or how to go about it. I predict several phonecalls to my mum over the coming months.

Read more

I’ve been in a monster reading slump for years. I blame two English degrees. Reading and analysing books that you don’t enjoy in minute detail will do that to you.

This year I’ve rediscovered reading for fun, and it’s a trend that I’m hoping to continue. My Kindle Paperwhite that my parents got me for Christmas (thanks parents) means that I can take advantage of some of the free-to-read classics, as well as downloading books to my heart’s content without having to worry about where to store them in the house. My goal of having my own physical library continues to elude me.

Have something published

This is the one goal that stands a chance of tripping me up, as I know how brutally difficult it is to do. Nevertheless, it’s been a goal for years, and I’m stubborn. I really haven’t got the faintest idea of where to look, and my low self-confidence will no doubt appear, like a loud and obnoxious Buckfast drinker at a house party, but let’s go for it.

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I hope 2018 is exactly the year you want it to be. May your books never be disappointing, your video game loot drops be bountiful, and your hair do exactly what you want it to.

happy new year

2017: A year in review.

Happy New Year’s Eve! Or Hogmanay as we celebrate in the Frozen North, a word that causes a fair amount of consternation everywhere else.

As is customary at this time of year, we look back on the past twelve months and reflect. I’m not going to waste my time on some of the crap bits of 2017 – of which there were mercifully few. Instead, here’s the things that happened this year that made it an absolute belter.

I got engaged

After two years of shit jokes and nerd stuff, Sean decided that I was tolerable enough and marrying me wasn’t the worst idea in the world.

It wasn’t rose petals, candles and writing my name in the sand. He casually sidled up to me at work after failing to find one of those flexible rulers and said “what ring size are you? I’m just curious.” Being not stupid, I twigged on what he was up to, and he proposed in the middle of our living room with a picture of the ring on his iPhone, much to the delight of our family and friends. It’s a story I’ll likely never get tired of telling.

We’re getting married in the summer of 2019, which means that this year I should probably organise stuff. This’ll be a laugh.

bridge
At least we booked the venues. Behold!

So did my sister

Not one hour after my sister had accompanied me to a wedding fair and seen more dresses she’d like than I had, her boyfriend of six years proposed. I gather Andrew was more subtle than Sean was. Very excited to be involved in a wedding that is not my own. As well as my own, obviously.

We all went to Orlando

After multiple evenings spent weeping from envy and nostalgia in my parents’ living room, I finally got to step into Disneyworld after fifteen years. I can’t really say more about it than I did in this blog post, but I’ve managed to convince Sean that we should go back for our honeymoon.

florida
Sun, cloudless sky, and Disney. Words don’t do it justice.

Forth Magic was born

2016 saw the doors close for the last time on our regular Magic: the Gathering venue. Not to be deterred, some of my best friends and I managed to band together to secure a venue (the excellent Yellow Café in Rosyth), organise our own events, and keep the momentum even as an unsanctioned playgroup. We even ran our own PPTQ before we unfortunately lost our sanctioning.

The Scottish MtG is one of the best communities that I know and I’m very proud to be involved in contributing to that.

The best video on the internet arrived

Have you seen the video of the Fleming family attempting to remove a rogue bat from their kitchen in County Kerry? If not, please experience it right now.

There was a new addition to the McArmstrong family

In Octover, after months of wondering whether or not Stella was lonely and unstimulated while we were out at work all day, we decided to get another cat. Thus Brando came into our lives.

brando

I’m not sure Stella has forgiven us yet. She was a laid back, delicate, deliberate kitten. Brando is a feline wrecking ball, bereft of any sense of danger or decency, prone to jumping on her without notice and ignoring any hissing and smacks on the head she doles out. He’s a cuddler, a curtain climber, a bottomless pit, and we love him. Even Stella’s been caught licking him when she thinks nobody is looking.

I wish he’d grow out of licking my ears when he wants fed, though.

I started this blog

My greatest achievement of this year has been this blog. I’ve started blogs before, but writer’s block and self-consciousness saw them fall into the pile of stuff I’ve started and ploughed into before my motivation dribbled away and died. I’ve made my mother cry, my friends routinely tell me how much they enjoy reading it (even if it is for the tone and sarcasm and not the content, right Dan?) and I’ve amassed 40 blog followers and over 100 Facebook followers since I started. I’m hardly a big fish, but I’m pretty pleased with myself.

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2017 was a good year. I’m currently in the holiday mood where everything is winding down and brand new at the same time, so expect a post about 2018 and where I hope it takes me very soon…

The State of Magic: It’s Time.

Well. Where do we even start here.

In case you’ve missed it, at the weekend Magic cosplayer Christine Sprankle publicly retired from the game after enduring ongoing harassment following a game of “flip or rip” at a GP. Thus follows accusations of lying, accusations of deleting the posts in question, a number of well-known personalities in the community speaking out to corroborate Ms. Sprankle’s experiences, fans of the accused responding.

Yesterday it was revealed that a post on a secret “shitposting” MtG Facebook group invited its members to “draft” well known MtG women – women who play, who make content, who compete in tournaments and do well – based purely on how much they wanted to sleep with them. The comment thread that followed went about as well as you would expect, and included some particularly awful comments around the members of the LGBTQ community.

I’m not going to write about those in any more detail, because there are a multitude of responses from people who’ve been directly affected that are much more important than anything I have to say on the subject.

I’m writing this because boy, are we tired.

I’m tired of people calling out shitty attitudes being dismissed as a “social justice warrior” or a “cuck”. I’ll let you into a secret: if someone calls you a “cuck” it’s because they frightened. You’re coming too close to underminding them.

I’m tired of seeing people saying things like “she’s wearing a slutty cosplay to try and lure in vulnerable young men for their money”. Spoiler alert: she’s almost certainly not. Women don’t have secret meetings to come up with new and exciting ways to ruin the lives of men.

I’m tired of people relentlessly slamming Wizards for “becoming political”. If you think that responding to people noting that they tend to be treated differently to their male counterparts by increasing visibility and attempting to create a more balanced society is political, expand your world a little.

I’m tired of people being told that “it’s just a joke, if you don’t find it funny that’s your problem” (remember that?) or “grow a thicker skin”. As I’ve said before, if multiple people who stand as the butt of the joke are telling you that it’s not funny and you continue to make that joke, it’s not a joke. You are an asshole being an asshole on purpose.

I’m tired of people immediately dismissing any sort of feedback around inclusive MtG with “well, I’ve never had a problem” or “I’ve never been sexist”.

Just because you’ve never seen it happening at your local store doesn’t mean it’s not happening at all. I’m part of a community – locally and nationwide – that excels in being welcoming and inclusive but I’m not close minded enough to ignore the fact that we are a very small country and therefore very close-knit. What we experience is not the overall experience. This is just one of a multitude of points that people are either choosing to ignore because it doesn’t fit what they want, or they’re genuinely unable to grasp the concept.

People are bitching at Wizards of the Coast for not doing anything. That’s fine. You can do something. You can tell such an individual to stop, even if they’re not targeting you. You can report them to a judge or the tournament organiser if they don’t, or you feel uncomfortable doing so. If you don’t know who the judge or TO is, you can ask at the event. If nothing happens, you can escalate it, either through the judge programme or through WOTC themselves. Local game stores are their own little communities but they’re not islands, and any judge or tournament organiser worth their salt has that role because they want to work with communities to make them fun, welcoming and positive places for everyone.

That is how you fix it.

 

I’m upset. Over the past few days we’ve seen what the MtG community really is when you kick the stone over, and last night was the first time in over four years I’ve had to evaluate whether this is something I want to continue to be involved in.

I think I do. Because this community has done so much good for so many people. Look at all the testimonies of people who’ve found solace while they were being bullied, or while their lives were falling apart, or while they were desperately lonely. That’s the community I want to be part of. That’s the community I want to build. But half-assed tutting and saying “well that’s gross” isn’t enough. It’s time to actively challenge this behaviour. It’s time to stop ignoring it and letting it slide because it’s a little bit uncomfortable to speak up. It’s time to stop this bizarre idea of “alpha” and “beta”.

It’s time to get proactive instead of reactive.

It’s time to get angry. Not  death threats or abuse over the internet, because that’s not on, and it’s slinging lighter fluid onto a fire that’s already out of control.

It’s time to change. Please help us.

 

Hey Kids, Rock & Roll: a love letter to the album that changed my life.

Alright folks, buckle up, to mark the 25th birthday of one of the greatest albums of all time we’re going into the past. It’s going to be like an episode of Doctor Who, but without any green screen.

One of my earliest memories is listening to Michael Stipe singing The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight and thinking that whatever bastardised version of the lyrics I came up with was the title of the song. This carried on until I was nine years old, when I picked up a copy of Automatic For The People and took it the US with a CD Walkman. It was the only CD I brought along on that two week holiday. I only knew that one song. Bit of a leap of faith.

I remember bits and pieces of that trip. The vineyard wedding, the carousel in Martha’s Vineyard. Poison Ivy in the garden. My sister being ill on the last night in the top bunk.

But the whole experience was soundtracked by that album.

It’s hard to underestimate the impact Automatic For The People has had on my life. It sparked a lifelong obsession: I came home and accumulated every single R.E.M. release I could possibly find, starting with the newly released Reveal. I wouldn’t go anywhere without that CD Walkman and a hard black case full of discs, in case I wanted to switch from Green to Fables of the Reconstruction.

There were at least four years where the only albums I ever bought were R.E.M. records.

It was the soundtrack of years where the divide between what was cool and what was not became a gaping canyon, around the time I began to realise that I couldn’t sing or dance or play football. I tested out of primary school spelling tests and won an award for being the most exceptional pupil in my year (I’m not bragging, that’s literally what it says on the certificate) but I fit somewhere between the girls and the boys, accepted by neither. Which when I was nine, was a lonely place to be.

It took a long time – as in, into my late teens and early twenties – before I came to be comfortable with who I was. It was music that took me there, bands that would lead me further down this path that Buck, Mills, Berry and Stipe started me on. Nirvana, Rancid, Green Day, Nine Inch Nails. Bands that have shaped my tastes, my writing, my life. Something to run through my head when times were dark, or just a song that I fell in love with on the first listen and repeated over, and over, and over.

I’m now 26. Those opening notes of Drive still make my arms prickle. I have argued with people until I can feel my pulse in my neck about whether Everybody Hurts is a depressing song. (Have you people even listened to the lyrics?) I’m trying to convince Sean to make a stop in Georgia on our honeymoon to the US so we can go to Weaver D’s. (The diner with the “Automatic For The People” sign that inspired the album title.) It all started, this common thread that has run entwined with my memories and my life, with an Alba portable CD player in an old house in New Paltz, surrounded by unfamiliar street names and sunlight.

I’ve had favourite songs since then. I’ve had favourite albums. But none of them have ever blown the doors in my life open quite like this one, and I’m quite sure none ever will.

So here’s to you, Automatic For The People, in all your jangly baroque glory. You’re still my go-to choice when I need a record I can sit through without skipping a single song, you still set off an abundance of emotions in me, and I’m still finding new things I didn’t know. For an album that’s nearly as old as I am – and that I’ve been coveting for over fifteen years – that’s pretty good going.