Posts tagged with "goals"

deconstructing songs

I’ve been deconstructing songs, trying to figure out what magical combination of pitches and timbres and rhythms can create such an intense response in my body. Every song is a puzzle when you try to fit the composition into what a person can do without studio editing or a band.

On my quest to unlock such a puzzle, I discovered Final Fantasy performing a Bloc Party cover of This Modern Love, what is now my favourite song of all time1, having dethroned Blonde Redhead’s Elephant Woman of the honour it held for many years. It strips me bare by layers and layers, and even though the lyrics found relevance in my life before I decided that distance would keep me sane, it’s only in recent months that it’s gone from being a song I never skip to a song I always play.

To be able to see how Owen Pallett reproduces it with only a violin, a loop pedal, and his characteristically frail voice is a particular treat. Not only because he can draw the same intensity in me as in the original version, but because you can see how it’s done; what part he keeps to present the listener with the essence of the song, what he’s changed to fit the tools he uses, and even where he takes his breaths. It’s like finding an elegant solution for a puzzle that has perplexed you for years.

But I’ve yet to sit down and attempt any serious covers of my own cause I’m still waiting for my musical knowledge and guitar ability to catch up with what I want to accomplish. I’ve been learning classical pieces for a better foundation, and in that pursuit I came across this particular version of La Catedral.

I enjoy classical music (though I’m really picky) cause it can evoke a specific emotion in me, but most pieces cater to only one emotion at a time, or there’s a lot of development before the part I really like. La Catedral, on the other hand, has it all, from sorrow to elation, and every bit of it is bliss. I’m convinced that this is how the old Paraguayan guitarists rocked out with their cocks out, and it amazes me how someone could write such heavy emotion when there were no metal idols, no amp distortion, no screaming back then.

I’d say that for anyone to fully understand me, they’d have to understand this song too. It represents everything I love about music and emotion and sex, cause it’s all in this song, and only Denis Azabagić plays it the way it was meant to be played2. When watching this for the first time, I remember thinking that I would make love to this man, this man who looks like some guy’s uncle, because he plays like he’s touching every nerve of my heart.

I love the way he moves with his guitar, the way he cradles the body, the way he purses his lips or widens his eyes with every swelling of passion. To be able to play like him is is exactly why I started taking up guitar; I want to feel as good as those who lose themselves to the music, and learning this piece has become another thing I hope to do before I die.

  1. As a person who listens to almost any genre but is still obsessively selective with music, saying that I have a single favourite song is a big deal. []
  2. I never liked this song until I heard him perform it, the last 45 seconds in particular, with his orgasmic finish. Every other classical guitarist uses pauses that break up the flow of what are supposed to be relentless sixteenth notes, to the point where it feels like the entire song is ruined. []

Awakening: The Reborn Dreamer

I wake up every day looking at Death, and you know what? He ain’t half bad.

—Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp

Its not until you lose everything that you are free to do anything.

—Tyler Durden, Fight Club

I used to take pride in the fact that I felt like I could die satisfied any day. I was at a place in my life where I couldn’t ask for more, and there was a tremendous sense of overall satisfaction. I had everything that I deserved. After that, all I had left to experience, every fall morning caught or tear shed, was a bonus. Of course, the closest I had ever come to death was a minor case of pneumothorax, which I imagine is as fatal as pinching one’s skin between two Lego pieces while building the Death Star, so this feeling was never actually put to the test. I’m sure I’d feel differently if I ever came frighteningly close to the end of my life, although just how much remains a mystery.

Perhaps this grew from a cogent sense of frailty, perpetuated by all the stories of freak accidents echoed throughout the media. The student who impaled his heart on a number 2 pencil while trying to catch a football in the middle of class. The general who drowned in a pool of his own blood from a nosebleed on his wedding night. Even the president of the United States almost choked to death on a pretzel. To distance myself was the only way I could deal with it.

The problem, I’ve only recently discovered, was that this left me alienated and unattached. I have no dreams, nothing to live for. Not even a goal to work towards. During high-school, the goal was to get into a university. After university, the goal was to get a fulfilling job. After the job was the house. Now that I own a house, it feels like the rest of my life has been laid out in front of me. No risks, no surprises. I appreciate everything that I’ve been given, but it feels like it’s been a little too easy. Even my most significant goal was rather suddenly accomplished this year. As Logan Pearsall Smith once wrote in his book Afterthoughts, “How many of our daydreams would darken into nightmares if there seemed any danger of their coming true!”. A simultaneous fulfillment and dissatisfaction.

I presented this problem to Pat, and from his infinite wisdom (at 24, no less) I realized that one should never live for what might happen. Otherwise, a person would go crazy. Of course, to truly live this way, it doesn’t hurt to be a bit of a fatalist. Having this belief means that one can only do the best that they can, and to go means that it was meant to be.

For now, I’ve been keeping myself occupied, until I can figure out what I want in the last rest of my life. Blessed is the person who is too busy to worry in the daytime and too sleepy to worry at night. It’s only now that I’ve discovered that I need a few dreams to survive.

And I can only hope to never reach them.

The Awakening Series

  1. Introduction
  2. Cause
  3. The Reborn Dreamer


Thumbnail: Empty seats at Social
Thumbnail: Social menu and card
Thumbnail: Tableware

A few years ago, while we were still living together, Pita and I passed by a restaurant called Social that was along the market. We looked in at the elegant, minimal atmosphere, the nicely dressed people, and the intricate dishes that were being served to them. Looking at the menu posted outside, and noting the lack of decimals in the pricing (everything was in flat dollars), it was mutually agreed that going there to dine without a reason to celebrate was out of our budget. Just walking inside was something that we would have to earn, and we made an agreement. For the term, if I could manage all As (anything from an A- to an A+, or a GPA of over 8.0) and if he could win his next competition (for both standard and Latin ballroom dancing) than we would walk in one day and order anything we wanted.

The term came and passed, and in the end I only managed a bunch of measly grades, while he got bronze at the competition. We never spoke of it again.

Until this week. After traveling abroad for more than a year and working in his native country, Pita came back to Canada to settle down. He decided to live the rest of his life in Montreal, but he was able to visit for the weekend. We agreed on lunch at Social, not needing any justification between each other. After all, we graduated, found jobs, started to settle down. We hadn’t seen each other in over a year.

He had the duck, I had the lamb. Both were unbelievably succulent, tender, and came with fresh salads in a light dressing, along with super-thin fries. Even though we weren’t dressed as well as what some would call the “regular” patrons, we were served well and with respect, something can’t be said about all the restaurants I’ve been to. To be honest, I’ve never been given a choice of water (regular, mineral, soda, or sparkling, the man told us). I paid this time, and Pita agreed to treat me when I visit him in Montreal.


It’s difficult for me to imagine being done school, that I can start living as a free person. I’ve been in school for so long that I begin to expect another term in the near future. Yet I’m done (as long as I didn’t fail anything) and I have a great deal of options. But what would I really want to do with my life? A university diploma will only help me get a tiny part of what I want to achieve.

Odd that I live so day-to-day, yet have a few goals planned for decades in advance. Even if I haven’t achieved a single goal by the time I die, I’ll feel decently satisfied. I enjoy being able to appreciate everything I do each day. A great deal of thinking needs to be done before I keep going. And while the future seems uncertain, while the world seems to be turned upside down, I feel comforted.

It’s understanding and realization that bind my world together, that bring meaning to anything I do.