Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A *Mostly* Applicable Anthem- Alanis Morrissette, "Hand in My Pocket"

So small factoid before I get into the substance: Alanis actually learned to play the harmonica to perform the solo in this song. Which is a signal of some of what she sings about working and being tired and such, to wit.

Now, moving on. Alanis, "Hand in My Pocket."

Also, Jagged Little Pill was the first CD I bought, ever. Well, okay, so technically my older sis and I split the cost, I believe (because I totes remember some aggressive disputes over who it actually "belonged" to, her usually coming out on top because I was too weepy and she was older). Like I said before, Alanis's songs tend to resonate  with me a lot, and  this is one that has only grown more and more resonant  with time. And yet. Even as a little kid, this song spoke... something to me. Something more than the rest of the album at the time did.

Confession: I sing this song every time I go karaoke-ing, if possible. Not to show off, but because it's a chance to belt it out, because I think that, if I was to pick my own "theme song," this would be it. Is it my favorite song ever? No. But it just... it's me. It's me, to a tea, so much of me. In general, because she's essentially singing about how she's a walking paradox/dichotomy overall, but the specific "but" scenarios she brings up are all ones I actually am/do/are/whatever. And even when she's singing about societal contradictions/things that kind of suck  in conjunction with one another, they apply pretty damn closely, too.

Ironically (HAH!), the only parts that don't fit are the refrains. Other than that, though, every single line of the song describes me in some way, not even metaphorically, but literally. So it's basically my anthem, and I sing it to the heavens whenever I can.

I'm broke, but I'm happy

I'm poor, but  I'm kind

I grew up with money  being tight, and while my parents did a good job of hiding just how bad it was from me and my siblings, I was observant enough to recognize I was poor, and especially when I was bused to the school all the country club kids lived next to in fifth grade; also in middle and high school when little things just added up (or didn't). And plenty of times being told flat-out I couldn't afford something, like a school trip; or that I could apply anywhere I wanted for college, but, understand, your choice will be most determined by who gives you the best financial aid.

Presently, I probably live the most comfortably than I ever have, but that's because I live in a basically rural area (or at least compared to Vegas) with an extremely low COL, and the fact that I have a roommate.

But despite that, I (usually) don't let it get to me, and I'm, in fact, extremely generous. Not only am I usually the first to pay for someone else when on an outing, but I also would be more than happy to give up more taxes, if those monies went to social welfare programs. I'm poor, but I'm not at all stingy, and I want to help others; show them kindness, so to speak.

The exception is right now. A tiny summer income doing enough work that prevents me from getting anything else makes me paranoid about making rent in August. I prolly will, but still, I'm nervous.

I'm short, but I'm healthy, yeah.

I'm short. Duh. But it's not like that's really burdoning me too much. Sure, it's one of the myriad aspects of my body type/shape that makes clothing shopping hard, but none of my health problems have to do with my height. And I'm not so short as to count as a dwarf.

I'm high, but I'm grounded

I won't dig too much into this, but I'm a dreamer with a pragmatic sense of the world around me. Sure, I may have hope in a given situation, but I'm able to recognize what's realistically attainable versus a pipe dream (most of the time).

Okay, I said "literally" above, so maybe if we're being literal, no. I don't get high, from drugs, at least. But to stretch the metaphor again, I do get high on life a lot- I get wrapped up in having a good time and do my best to make  those moments last. But I usually do my best to keep things on the level, and I don't lose sight of what's important beyond that moment.

I'm sane, but I'm overwhelmed

I'm lost, but I'm hopeful, baby

I do feel kind of lost and overwhelmed at times,  but, sort of like with the above, since I'm cognizant of those facts/states, I'm able  to navigate and talk myself through most of it. However "down to earth" I may be, I do sometimes feel a little  crushed, and that can take its toll. But I'm ever the optimist, so I'm always hopeful that things will get better. And, importantly, I always do my best to actively make them better, rather than hoping they just get better.

And  what it  all comes down to
Is that everything is just fine, fine, fine

I'm sensing  a little irony with the beginning of each refrain- and real irony, not the coincidence of the song "Ironic." Like  sarcasm. I can see myself saying things are, "Fine, fine, fine," as a means of getting someone off my case if I don't want to open up. Maybe not fine^3 like that, no, but "fine" is the universal codeword for, "I don't want to talk about it." I know I'm not the only one that uses it as such. 

Cuz I've got one hand in my pocket
And the other one  is giving a high five.

I don't put my hands in my pockets. Not entirely. If I do, it's a hoodie, and it's both hands; or it's just a thumb. I do, however, high five people a lot. I get left hanging quite a bit, but that's one of the hazards of being outgoing. 

I feel drunk, but I'm sober

I usually don't get drunk at my parties, and I've hosted plenty where I didn't have a drop of alcohol but people thought I had had too much. I just act silly in general, and being around a lot of people makes me act kind of sillier than usual. It's part of my outgoing, warm personality- being with people makes me happy, so I act giddy and get energized by groups with which I'm comfortable.

 I'm young, and I'm underpaid
I'm tired, but I'm working, yeah

Oh boy, is that grad school or WHAT!??!!? I mean by golly. Even so, I felt like that as soon as I graduated from undergrad- that job in the special ed classroom was depressingly under-valued, and I kept doing it, despite how taxing it was. Because, for whatever reason, I loved it. So in either case, there or here, I keep at it, even though I was/am tired as Hell. 

I care, but I'm restless
I'm here, but I'm  really gone

I do care about people, a lot, and I'm genuinely concerned about their  well-being and happiness. But  I sometimes get a little distracted by either something going on with myself I'm not talking about, or someone else's situation comes into mind while I'm talking to yet another person about their own issues. So I'll admit, I sometimes seem slightly aloof or non-present. It isn't that I'm not absorbing the conversation, but rather I'm just trying to figure out how to help someone else that may need me (or some small revelation about myself is rearing its head at that particular moment).

I'm wrong, and I'm sorry, baby


And what it all comes down to
Is that everything's gonna be quite  alright

I like to think she isn't being ironic  here, but rather that this is the cry of determination. And if it's the latter, yes. I tell myself it'll be alright, to the point where I believe it- and that, actually, helps a lot. It gives me strength and  courage to stay on the up-and-up and do what's actually best. If things will get better, then I better help them along.

Cuz I've got one hand  in my pocket

And the other one is flicking  a cigarette 

Again, not a pocket person. And I will never smoke. I've never even inhaled a regular cigarette, and I don't intend to ever do so. 

But, why leave it at that? I think, perhaps, the gesture of "flicking a cigarette" can represent casualness or relaxedness. Along with  the hand in the pocket, it could mean  being  calm  and  overall composed, despite feeling like a walking paradox or like someone  dealing  with  a lot of barriers. I know I may come across as extremely volatile, but, all things considered, I think I'm pretty well-put-together. I have my moments, but I think everybody should, and  I'm sure everybody does. Overall, though, I can lean against a wall and  wink or smile.

And  what it all comes down to
Is I haven't got it all figured out just yet

Um, yes. Who the fuck does? If you have your entire life planned out and  every single thing has been wrapped up in a bow for you, well, congratulations, life has somehow entitled you to a cookie. But most of us are confused or unsure about at least something. I'm among the "most of us." But that's okay- it's to be expected, or at least it should be.

Cuz I've got one hand in my pocket

And the other one is giving a peace sign

My mom can attest to how I can't stand that symbol or gesture anymore because it was appropriated by a bunch of spoiled Gen-Xers that didn't give two shits about the issues the social (out)groups that came up with it/ originally made it popular did. It's extremely hipster, and in the negative way. I'm cool if someone more cognizant of social justice and such uses it or something, but I just get annoyed as hell when I see some trust fund baby with a peace symbol on their shirt. And if someone gives a peace sign, it's usually in a mocking  kind  of way- which totally corrupts the original message. So, for the most part, fuck peace symbols.

But again, as a symbol, well, that's another way of saying things are okay, that gesture. So okay, maybe that's it. In which case, yeah, I dig.

I'm free, but I'm focused

I don't really think the world is entirely my oyster, per se, but I do get that, even with all the hegemonic paradigms speaking against my favor, I'm still pretty privileged.  I don't lose sight of that. To the point where I sometimes hold onto things or keep my mouth shut about unhappiness/dissatisfaction too long, for fear of seaming ungrateful. I have a lot of options, but I keep them and everything in perspective- sometimes so narrowly, I don't see how it's okay to go after things for myself. 

I'm green, but  I'm wise

I take "green" as envious, in which  case, yes. I do often envy people that have had it easy, that have what I've wanted (either in principle, or the exact thing); but I also don't hold it against them from the get-go. I try to give people the benefit of the doubt, and I prolly give too many chances to backstabbers and people that it takes me  a long, long time  to realize are rather bad people. And I also realize that most people are basically fucked up in some way, too- and that the areas I've been  blessed, perhaps they haven't; so while I may be envious of their X, they could prolly be envious of my A. And I keep that in mind, and sometimes remind them of it when they express their own envy of my A. 

I'm hard, but I'm friendly, baby

Yeah. This goes in more than one direction. In one sense, I have high standards of behavior and kindness from people, but I'm nice to everybody every chance I get, even if they fall far below my standards. Along these lines, then, if I realize in making a mistake in thinking you live up to said standards enough, I'll indeed cut you off- I don't really have any mercy for rudeness, inconsideration, or selfishness, and  if a person ends up proving one or any combination of these, I don't care what nice things they'd done or the fun we'd had in the past. No. But I don't always say, "You're an asshole, we're done," and still, somewhat dishonestly, treat them according to my standards- I suppose it has to do with Marcus Aurelius, "The best vengeance is not to do likewise."

Also, "hard" in the sense that I can be kind of unforgiving if it's deep enough, but even if I'm boiling inside, I may not tell you. Usually the latter happens because I'm so hurt, or because I find the timing inappropriate for a confrontation. And still, there's also the angle that I sometimes have "tough love" to give, meaning if I feel comfortable enough in the assumption you won't want to sever ties with me, I'm often giving the "hard truth," so to speak, to people. As in I'm usually not afraid to be honest. But I'm (usually) fairly gentle about it.

Lastly, I can be kind of stubborn sometimes (again, who isn't, though?), but I'm constantly being told I'm "one of the nicest people I've ever met," so I don't really think that stubbornness is a hindrance to my relationships.

I'm sad, but I'm laughin'

Well, I've said enough about that exact thing before. But let me just reiterate that part of why I do that is because, actually, the act can often become the reality. It's pretty easy to slide into.

I'm brave, but I'm chickenshit

There are lots of things I can be brave about, especially when it comes to defending others. But I'm a coward when it comes to standing up for myself or really, truly diving in for what I want. I've talked  about this in past entries, too. Yeah, I'll speak out about oppression and hegemony,  or I'll tell someone to be quiet when being rude to a friend but when someone cuts me in line or says something hurtful to me, I clam up.

I'm sick, but I'm pretty, baby

Funny she has this line, even though above she said she's healthy. Of course, she could mean sick in the illness sense of the word, but people don't know  or don't care. And yeah, I have legitimate health concerns, perpetual ones I prolly will always have to deal with. But I don't wander around, waving a banner over my head. And since they just involve taking a pill in the privacy of my home,  most are none the wiser. 

But I prefer to see this part as something more to do with internal workings. To be kind of blunt about it, I can be kind of dirty-minded or have a really dark sense of humor sometimes, but I'm usually still thought of as adorable and bubbly. Which leads to all kinds of hilarity, because pervy or fowl or kind of twisted stuff coming from my mouth is even more show-stopping because nobody expects it. I've had myriad people comment the first time I used "fuck" around them, for example; I've seen eyes go buggy when I talk about "mature" situations or make  innuendos. And I often say I have the sense of humor of a twelve-year-old boy, which, again, makes people act scandalized.

And I don't get it, still. I mean, I get that from people I've known for ages. It's like  it takes cognitive dissonance  for it to be accepted, which means it's not really understood. But I like  being funny, and people like that about me, so what gives?

Well, hey, how about this? 


Are you not entertained? 

And what it all comes down to
Is that no one's really got it figured out just yet

Covered this already

Cuz I've got one hand in my pocket
And the other one is playing a piano

I used to dwiddle on my grandma's piano, but I've never done more than bang on keys and figure out songs I already knew one key at a time. One of my life regrets, so far, is not knowing how to play the piano properly.

Again, to take the symbolism of the  gesture, though, I especially like  this one. In playing  a piano, a person is making music. Music is  one of my favorite parts of life. Music is beauty.

And so no, I may not specifically play the piano, but I make beauty whenever and wherever I can, and I see it whenever and wherever I can. I try to both see and make the best of a situation. I try to make things better for myself and others.

And what it all comes down to my friends, yeah

Is that everything is just fine, fine, fine

Again, sensing a little irony, but, in the end, earnestness. 

Cuz I've got one hand in my pocket
And the other one is hailin' a taxi cab

I don't take taxis. But I do take a bus. And I think the cab, actually, signifies the ending of the song. As in, "Time to leave, begin outro NOW!"

So yeah. Song's done.

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