Narcissistic Smear Campaign

3 Feb

I have been on both sides of the narc for this: The peripheral person being told by a narc how awful someone is (so many people over time!). And I’ve unfortunately been the one that the narc is disparaging.

As a peripheral person, I took everything the narc said at face value-why wouldn’t I? I trusted and admired her, she had never shown herself to be vindictive or a liar. Well actually… she had. But I had only seen the smallest flashes of that behavior or it was many degrees away from me so I didn’t take it very seriously or think it was any kind of pattern. At the time she told me about these other people who did terrible things to her, I thought–Why would her story be fabricated or exaggerated? Whatever person [target, but I didn’t know that at the time] she was referring to obviously acted awful and of course I should be wary of them. And if they were pushed out (of the job, the town, the state) they deserved it, and good riddance. I never questioned this, and never really thought twice about it as a bystander. I didn’t know enough details of any situation to be impartial or objective. I would only hear details in passing, or snippets–and all from the narc. The ousted people were never heard from again-at least in my vicinity.

The assistant, the receptionist, the former best friend, the last professional at work, the new professional at work, the high school VB coach–I heard how all of them did my ex-mentor dirty. Probably more, those are just the ones I can remember more than a decade later. And I didn’t think twice about the veracity of these stories. Now I wonder how much of it was these people just having enough of the games, and drama, and power plays? After dealing with that crap anyone would eventually lose their temper! [I know that now] How much was purely invented by the narc or perpetuated by her? How much was just the person retaliating for something terrible the narc had done to them (that I didn’t know about)?

I’ll never know. That’s one of the horrible things about narcs, you never do hear from their targets once this starts. They are silenced, discredited, or pushed into different geography, tail between their legs, or a shell of the former person. I wish I could talk to some of these targets and get their side of the story…

It’s important to remember this is ALL on the narc. Bystanders/peripheral people are not being malicious by not understanding the situation (unless they are taking an active part of the conflict themself). These people are just walking through the world hearing things and only seeing the manipulator’s side (by design). As a target, myself, I didn’t remember this. I was angry at everyone who played into it without evidence. How and why could they believe that about me when they knew me? When they saw my good work? When they listened how the narc talked to me??? I was pissed at all the people who didn’t help me. Now I know, nobody even knew the truth of what was happening. Also, these bystanders might have also been victimized and living in fear, or actively participating (the hairdresser) thus called flying monkeys. [We will get back to these mofos in another post].

Who and How Does the Narc Instigate the Smear Campaign:

Note-Narcs and their victims do not have to be in a romantic relationship, though that is common. There are narc bosses/co-workers, blood-relatives, and frenemies.

And my mentor tried all 1-5 on me. She told her spouse to stay the fuck away from me. Which worked a lot of the time and made me feel lonely and shitty. She told her friends that I came into contact with that I was a lazy, drunk loser (or whatever she said).

My mentor exaggerated to my parents what was going on. She painted me as an alcoholic, even though I drank equal or less than anyone at the Cabin-Mansion. If I had a problem, they all did. But the drinking was normalized for everyone else. Only I was put under a microscope. Even though I was taking a full course load of college classes toward a Biology major an hour away. Even though I never missed work, and did a good job while I was there. My mentor put out the narrative that I was sloppy and out of control. I was paranoid and anxious that I might be an alcoholic for years afterward. I even stopped drinking for 2 years just to make sure I could.

She tried to ruin my work life. I am an excellent worker, with an unparalleled work ethic. It’s part of what makes me the person I am. But my mentor demoted me from receptionist to kennel cleaner to try to humiliate and punish me. It didn’t work because I would rather clean kennels than deal with the public any day of the week. So she obviously told me coworkers whatever about me and nobody really interacted with me at work. I could work long days many days in a row and nobody spoke to me…

Neighbors were constantly visiting the Cabin-Mansion and I literally lived in the yard. But it was made known to all that I was banished from joining any fun or conversations feet away on the deck. My mentor would even host parties in the yard I lived in, and made a point to not invite me. At Thanksgiving, she hosted dinner at her house, and made sure to let me know I wasn’t invited. Even though a person would have to cross the dining room to access the only bathroom available to me.

I signed up to be a biology major and obviously I would need to attend school both fall and spring semesters. But my mentor got her wife to convince me to visit Missouri for Christmas break. Which, after the isolation and devaluing, and problems, sounded pretty nice. At least I could earn a bonus for helping to walk dogs over the busy holidays. When I came back the 5th wheel I had been living in was locked. The yard, which had never, ever been closed, was locked. The house that was unlocked 24/7 in case anyone wanted to make a social call was locked… I couldn’t get my stuff. There was a professional letter saying I was evicted. Like, instead of just talking to me or giving me a heads up, she had legal papers drawn up! I arranged a day to clean the 5th wheel out and surprise, surprise she had the electricity turned off. My dad had to go up to the house and convince her we needed the power to vacuum.

As the target, you don’t may not know (at first) that the narc is doing a smear campaign against you. You might never be able to confirm it because of the cover-up and lies. But you feel it. Suddenly people treat you differently. They’re more careful and hesitant around you. Or maybe they’ll weirdly press you for certain information. They’ll mention these random out of the blue (not really though) misperceptions. They sort of “handle” you, or you get this impression they are “dealing” with you. It’s very disconcerting being the target of a smear campaign, since you don’t know it’s happening for sure, and you certainly don’t know who was told what. How do you defend yourself against gossip and lies you don’t even know about?

And any sort of defense, or saying it’s actually the narc, or trying to explain the situation, just proves what this peripheral person already thought [was implanted with] you are problematic. Just look how heated you are, and how you’re disparaging the narc! Everything the narc said is confirmed because the target overreacts with frustration or won’t drop it or acts super-defensive. What innocent person is so hostile?

When it first started happening I was just confused, and taken off-guard. I couldn’t pinpoint what happened or when. I racked my brain, then dissected every past interaction trying to decide if something had been accidently misconstrued. Then, I tried to explain myself [to my ex-mentor, who I didn’t realize yet was/is a narc], and ask for her forgiveness. Finally, I just tried to stay under the radar and survive.

I think it began was I was telling my ex-mentor (menNarc?) that cheating on someone was stupid and shameful. Just break up! Douche had cheated on me with some German dude and I had no time for philanderers. I let it be known that I thought cheaters were scummy. At the time I was telling my ex-mentor this, I had no idea she was cheating on her wife with the hairdresser.

And I had absolutely not put together that she was a narcissist, and I was about to be punished for making her feel less-than. More importantly, I didn’t know I was about to be ousted from my narc’s life precisely because I didn’t look up to her as a role model anymore. The more I observed her personal and professional lives (very separate) the more I didn’t respect, let alone revere my (ex)mentor any longer. It’s not like I was rude, dismissive, or even let on that I was disappointed that I had been disillusioned. I just didn’t think her social life was anything to emulate anymore. She wasn’t very (authentically) nice to people. Maybe she could feel that change in dynamic. I certainly didn’t know I would be punished for that change in my perspective.

It would have been a lot less confusing, anxiety-inducing, and depressing had I known what I was dealing with at the time. As it was I was just thrown into the confusion of the relationship taking a complete 180 for no big reason apparent to me. And I felt alone because everybody put distance between themselves and me. And the narc gave me the silent treatment, which was honestly a relief, but disconcerting all the same.

Narcissists have to be “Winning” every interaction

2 Feb

This is true of all 4 narcs I’ve had the displeasure of being subordinate to.

KDouche would say, “We need more” a vague and maddening sentence that didn’t make sense given the facts. There was no more, and I had established that by showing him I had included every detail. And he knew that. But he had called me out (probably without reading or any kind of research) so he couldn’t admit his mistake. He had to “win” even though there was no more I could have included, and we both knew it. I kept asking what other piece of information he wanted, and he just repeated, “more.” He had to have the final say, and nobody was winning.

Jogre is an example of how narcs will even hurt themselves in order to “win” over you. I got an audit. I showed on the workflow how this was actually processed correctly. Audits count against the whole team, so you don’t want them, and your team leadership should rebut incorrect ones. Everyone’s bonus check is impacted by audits. But Jogre hadn’t initially read/understood so instead of submitting my audit and the steps I showed, she had to one-up me in order to “beat” me. She refused to submit the rebuttal, even though the audit was shown to be incorrectly applied. And even if it hadn’t been-what did she care?! It was MY audit. So I took an audit, and the team was marked down. Because Jogre had to show she was better than me. We both lost (when we didn’t have to) so she could “win” against me.

Instead of genuinely trying to help me be a better processor, it was almost like MNarc was trying to show how much smarter and more capable she was. Which I already knew. She had been in the market a long time so had all the “tribal knowledge” and she was promoted to supervisor. But she made “helping” me into a competition between us. It wasn’t enough to reach the correct answer at the end of a claim. MNarc had to micromanage every click. If I looked at a different screen than she did (same info) it was a problem. If I sped over non-applicable boxes in the workflow quickly, and she didn’t understand how I had “jumped” from there to here, I was “wrong” and confused. If I followed the workflow, but MNarc didn’t agree with the workflow, I was dumb and the workflow needed amending. It wasn’t helping, she was trying to knock me down and elevate herself. And that was the point-she had to prove to me that she was the best and I sucked.

Because I wasn’t yet a target, I got to see a little behind the curtain with MenNarc. She saw everything as a power play, and was constantly guarding hers. I’m not sure she realized that most people weren’t thinking in that same way. Because she angled to be the most powerful in every situation, I think she thought everyone else was intentionally trying to “win” too. She could lash out disproportionately to prove her power and was resentful with people (that she perceived) who tried to take the power. I had never thought about power dynamics so much!

And MenNarc always spoke about losers. Everyone was a loser to her. Don’t be a loser. Somebody didn’t go to college-loser. A friend got divorced-loser. Someone moved into a trailer-loser. People were very specifically categorized to her: Winners, losers, nobodys. I did not want her to see me as a loser! And when I didn’t get accepted into vet school, that was one of my biggest disappointments, knowing MenNarc now thought I was a loser.

She would always advise me to “play the game” when I had an authentic reaction. She thought I should “schmooze” people more and tell them what they want to hear–even if that’s not how I felt and not what I was going to do. I never really felt comfortable with that, and couldn’t really bring myself to be phony.

Going into every interaction like it’s a game or competition is exhausting. I don’t know how the narcs do it! Thinking ahead, trying to guess the problems before they occurred, trying to be as unthreatening as possible, gets old. And I honestly hope I never have to deal with a narcissist again. The winners and losers mentality alone takes up so much mental space.

Narcissists Talk to You a Certain Way

2 Feb

I was trying to figure out the best way to relate the narcissists I’ve known to the symptoms and signs of the personality disorder. But it’s so big I was having a difficult time. What I decided I’m going to do is share snippets of what I am learning from YouTube, Quora, the Reddit thread, articles, etc… with a personal story.

  1. https://humpsych.com/5-ways-narcissists-talk-that-you-should-notice/5/

My mentor could talk to anyone!

Yeah, because she would talk about herself.

I didn’t notice all that much at first. Especially because before you’re an adult a lot of people don’t talk to you like an equal. They ask questions as if you’re on an interview or give (unsolicited) advice. But the thing was my mentor did this to other adults too. Everything was always about her hard day, her to-do list, her accomplishments, her.

KDouche also couldn’t read a room. He would go on about whatever Mommy’s basement (or whatever) activities he was up to. Even if you were trying to get to business, even if no one else shared their weekend, even if it was a negative meeting.

Jogre couldn’t answer a work question to save her life, and was evasive when pushed for an answer. But when she spoke it was as if she had savant-level skills.

MNarc really lit up during an ice breaker when it came to telling about herself. Her answer would be peppered with comments like, “I think I’m pretty great” and “I have a lot of accomplishments” and other things that are socially unacceptable to say.

Hit By Car

31 Jan

Last Saturday, we skipped cleaning the apartment and calling my parents in favor of going to the zoo.  We love zoos, and last time we went to the Phoenix Zoo (our first time since moving here) we hadn’t realized it closes at 4 PM.  So we had missed 1/3 of it.

We dressed in our brightest orange shirts.  Little known secret-if you dress in super-bright colors you see more animals, better.  The animals will come out of hiding places, wake up, and engage with YOU because you are bright and interesting to them.  We learned of this at Salt Lake City’s Tracy Aviary.  A bird was in the middle of a training session in preparation for the open air show they do.  It saw Cool in a bright shirt, and flew away from its trainer to check her out.  Ever since then, we have been an effort to make sure and wear our brights–I usually do, anyway.

Navigating parking isn’t fun.  It sucks enjoyment out of it for me because I don’t like driving, dealing with traffic and unfamiliar roads, or finding/paying for parking.  We moved to this apartment in part, because it’s within a reasonable walking distance to the light rail.  It’s 1.8 (maybe 0.8?) miles walk.  Easy for us since we are constantly walking to the canal to run, walking around the city to explore, and walking for exercise or enjoyment.  We’ve walked more than 3 miles at a time at least 4 times in the last month, and one day we went 7 miles.  It’s routine.  Anyway, we walked to rail and went to the zoo on public transportation.

Our day at the zoo was really fun.  Many exciting things happened.  But this particular post isn’t about that.  We made a full day of it and got tired so decided to head home around 1:30 or 2 in the afternoon.  We commented how rail is the worst on the way home, because it’s so easy just to drive and be directly, and quickly there.  Alas, we walked to the stop, waited for one to come, endured many stops, and got out at the stop closest to home.  Then, we just had to walk the last couple of miles as we have done so many times before.

At the last intersection before home we had to cross south, then cross west before walking the last block home.  The light is always long at that intersection.  The traffic was heavy in all directions, being a Saturday afternoon.  2 bikes and another walker (or was it 2 walkers and a bike?) were waiting opposite us to cross north.  Finally, the light changed, we got our walk sign, and began to cross-as did everybody else.  There are 3 lanes in each direction, and the 4 main ones were all full of cars waiting at the red light, ready to speed westward when our turn was finished.  What wasn’t full was the right-most lane.

Cool usually walks slower than I do.  She nearly always lags behind me, so that I’m constantly nagging her to catch up/keep up.  That day, she was out in front.  I don’t know why.  She was halfway across the first lane and I was a little in the intersection, when a black car came up.  Time slowed down and I had several thoughts as this happened

The car will slow down

The front bumper of this car is literally touching my shins

When this car stops, I’m going to look up and glare at the driver-asshole!

Simultaneously:

I have to jump back to get out from in front of this car

and

Cool is too far away, I can neither pull her back out of the road, nor push her forward out of the way.

The car is NOT stopping!

The black car, which had a Jimmy John’s sign on the driver’s side roof HIT Cool.  She was just past the center point of the front hood.  The car almost hit her right at its middle point–this was not like me, an almost got hit.  It was also not, feel the wind a close call.  Cool didn’t get hit a little on a corner or at an angle.  She got hit in the center of the car, because she was in the center of the lane–maybe just past it.

It struck me (pun) how hard Cool was hit.  I couldn’t believe my eyes, and my brain was astonished that this was really happening.  The car making a right turn on red (west bound with intention of heading north-bound) when it struck Cool hard.

What my brain also noticed was that instead of going down and under like I’d thought, Cool was lifted off her feet.  She hit the hood of the car with everything from her ankles up.  Physics are sometimes counterintuitive.

And she hit hard, with a dramatic crunching sound.  It ran through my mind that a lot of people might saaay they’ve been “hit by a car,” when what they really mean is they had a close call, got pinged by a little edge of the car, or felt the wind.  I thought-Cool is getting hit by a car–for real.

Then, she bounced off the car and into the street.  I didn’t really see her land, because my attention turned to the driver.  I was furious!  The driver  only noticed people in the crosswalk AFTER Cool bounced off her car.  Even though we had the right of way, and both of us were in bright ORANGE shirts.  She had been on her cell phone.

The driver opened the door and leaned halfway out, black curly hair coming out wildly from under the black Jimmy John’s cap.  She was wild-eyed in terror and said, “should I call an ambulance?!”  I looked right at her and yelled, “Pay attention!”  She totally ignored me and panic-stricken repeated, “Do you need me to call an ambulance?” And I repeated, “You need to pay attention!

Then I turned my attention back to Cool, who was sitting up in the road.  She looked to be in one piece.  I didn’t see anything dramatic wrong with her.  And she looked like she was in shock, but not brain-damaged.  Her eyes and face looked OK to me.

All I thought was, we need to get home.  I didn’t want a repeat of the snowboard incident (that took us 4 years to pay off) so I wanted to get her home.  I tugged on her arm, trying to help her up and said, “get up, get up.”  She didn’t attempt to get up at all, and I knew she was in shock after taking a big hit like that.  I coaxed, “please get up, c’mon get up, get up, honey, get up.”  She thought for a minute, then stood up.

She made a shuddering sound and I thought she might cry.  Which is fine, but we were in the middle of the street, and I also didn’t want her to think too much so that she collapsed and we couldn’t get home.

Cool has been known to be a hypochondriac, and this was a ‘for-real’ big thing, so I didn’t want her to think about it and aggrandize it any bigger than it already was.  I figured we would get her out of the busy street, get her inside the house so I didn’t have to carry her or something, and THEN we would take an inventory of the damage and deal with whatever from there.

She limped as we walked the rest of the way through the crosswalk, and I didn’t know what injuries she might have sustained or the severity of them.  But I didn’t want to find out in the middle of the desert street.

I was obviously distracted, but I don’t remember any of the other pedestrians crossing the way actually stopping.  And I can’t recall any of them voicing concern, or asking Cool if she was OK.  I think they just continued on their way.

The other thing I think  I remember, but I’m not sure, and it doesn’t seem right, is I think I saw we still had 13 seconds on the crosswalk countdown.  But that doesn’t seem right at all, so much happened, I don’t know how it could have been that fast. . .  But I don’t think the traffic went through and the light changed cycles either.

On the way across, one of the drivers of a car waiting at the red light rolled down their window and asked if Cool was alright.  I don’t remember what either of us answered, but I thought that was nice of him.

Then, I don’t know if I was preoccupied with worry, or also in shock, but I don’t remember waiting for the next crosswalk sign.  We had to now cross the other street in the intersection west, and I remember standing there a long time.  I remember  Cool seemed like she might start crying again, and I told her she could cry, but please wait til we were safely home.  And I remember another bicyclist was waiting also, to cross south where we had just come from.  I think he missed the incident, because he told me we could cross, but when I looked up I’m sure I saw the red hand.  So I don’t know if we were out of it and missed our turn, or if he saw no cars so he suggested we shouldn’t wait for our signal or what.  But I saw the red hand and told him she was just literally hit by a car, we’re not taking any chances.

I thought I should call Jimmy John’s and report their careless driver.  Mostly, I wanted them to reprimand her, and send a company-wide message to not be using cell phones while making deliveries.  I called the closest location, and the manager wasn’t helpful.  She kept (pretending) not to hear my story of what just happened, and didn’t really want to deal with me.  She ended the call by saying that no female delivery drivers were actually on the schedule–now.  I called the other closest branch, and that manager said he doesn’t even have any females employed as delivary drivers.  The third, farther location didn’t really make sense, but I called and some dope answered.  Turns out, the dope WAS the manager, and in charge of scheduling, but also didn’t have any females driving that day.  I asked to speak to HIS boss.  He told me he didn’t have the phone #.  I asked for the corporate number, and he did seem to take a while to try to find it–I could hear him shuffling papers, then typing.  I feel this ought to be easily found, but he never could help me and he sent me to the internet.

We got home, and I was busy trying to find corporate Jimmy John’s.  When I finally did, they had regular business hours only M-F 9-5–must be nice.

Cool seemed OK when we got home.  Her clothes were half ruined–covered with a fat stripe of road tar.  And her elbow and knee had the same road-rash tar scrapes.  She complained 1 little spot of her jaw hurt, and there was a lump.  Other than that, there was nothing to even take pictures of.  She was sore, but nothing big happened.  Thank goodness–that’s not usually our life!

She took a shower right then, because I was afraid signs of concussion might come on and she wouldn’t be able to stand.  We tried to scrub tar out of her wounds, but there were a lot of micro-scraps from the asphalt and the tar was pretty well embedded.

Luckily, she was OK. It was still one of the scariest things that has ever happened!

You’re on Your own now, kid-each verse is 3-4 experiences present to past

30 Jan

This song isn’t quite a happy reminiscing. There’s both sadness and determination in the lyrics. The thesis is that Taylor has felt alone in every stage of her life: Her dad was MIA during her childhood either physically or emotionally. She was bullied in school at times. Her country label made her feel inadequate by creating her “perfect” alter-ego and hemming in her creativity. Dating men and being a beard made Taylor feel empty. 1989 Era was fun, but felt inauthentic and lonely and Taylor was secretly struggling. After the Kaylor breakup Taylor feels hopeless that she can ever genuinely love, because she sees it as problematic for her career. Currently Joe (her supposed partner) is absent. But because of all the loneliness and isolation, Taylor has honed her writing and furthered her career. Despite not being able to count on anyone aside from her mother, nobody can take away Taylor’s writing skills.

A lot of it has earmarks of the move to NYC and the 1989 Era, but I do think Taylor looks back further in time within the song. She talks about playing in parking lots when she was trying to get started. She may also be looking at her life as a whole and mentioning how she still feels like she’s on her own.

Theory: I hope I can explain what I’m thinking clearly. Taylor wrote the song in a chronological timeline (A-present day, B-1989 Era, C-Nashville, D-parents). Then, to obscure the timeline and subjects within the song she took the most recent (A) and made each line it’s own verse. Then she took 1989 Era (B) and made that the 2nd line of each verse. Then she broke the Nashville (C) into the 3rd line of each verse. And finally she made her childhood/parents (D) the final line of each verse. It’s possible each verse starts at the present (2022), mentions 1989 Era, goes back to Nashville, and ends with her childhood. Instead of AAAA, BBBB, CCCC, DDDD she mixed it to ABCD, ABCD, ABCD, ABCD.

For example:

A-Smoking with your boys could be her current situation with Joe. She’s in a house, not a home, alone. He’s off living his separate life, high like the night they met (Paper Rings).

B-The face Taylor wishes she could touch is Karlie’s but they’ve broken up.

C-The town Taylor wants to leave (for NYC) is Nashville.

D-The only one that can bring Taylor back to TN over a lifetime is her mom.

That might be loosely the formula Taylor used in the song. Does it hold up? See what you think…

Since the subjects of the song are unclear, and may change, and the timeline is not set in stone, I tried to think of all scenarios that could fit each line. Taylor didn’t call and tell me the specifics so I’m trying to gather the keys I do know about in order to get the gist.

Summer went away

Taylor doesn’t tell us the year she’s singing about, just the season.  Later in the song she talks about moving out of Nashville so I’m guessing most of this song is about 2014.

Taylor also mentions starving her body in the song and she was at her thinnest during the 1989 era:

Still, the yearning stays

Taylor also does not tell us what type of yearning she’s been feeling, or for how long:

A boy?

Her dad?

To be discovered?

Her family after she moved from TN to NY?

Gay love in general (or Dianna, specifically)?

The word can be used several different ways:

I play it cool with the best of them

I wait patiently

We know Taylor doesn’t sit back, waiting around to make music, or for her career to progress.  She takes action and proactively strives for more success.  But what then, is Taylor waiting for?

Her Dad?

Tolerate It:

Jake Gyllenhaal?

I don’t know if Jake was a real relationship or beard to cover for Jake’s sexuality and/or the Dianna Agron romance.  I used to be certain it was bearding, but when Red (TV) drudged up this decade-old relationship, and Taylor insinuated the red scarf did symbolize her virginity as Swifties suspected, I was no longer sure.

Dianna?

Come Back, Be Here (2012):

He’s gonna notice me

After I read this line I wondered if 2012 Taylor was looking back to the beginning of her career.  Is she remembering trying to break into the country music scene?  1989-Era Taylor could be thinking back to her start in country music because she was about to try to fully break into pop music.

Is HE $cott Borchetta or other music execs?

Is HE her dad?

Taylor could be talking about how her dad is always traveling for business, when she’s home, and how he stays home with her brother while she tours.  Her mom is involved in her life, but her dad is absent.

Is HE Jake Gyllenhaal?

Whatever they had together, it was on and off:

We are never ever getting back together:

Dianna Agron?

Of course, if Jake was just a bearding situation all of the above applies to Swiftgron.

Come Back, Be Here (2012):

We are never ever getting back together:

It’s okay, we’re the best of friends

Taylor wasn’t really best friends with studio execs, her dad, Jake, OR Dianna (they were very secret lovers) so I’m not sure this line is directly referencing any of the subjects that are options for the previous line.

If this line IS talking about the subject of “he’s gonna notice me” then I think Taylor is contrasting her parents.  Her dad doesn’t notice her, but that’s OK because her mom is her best friend.

If “I wait patiently he’s gonna notice me” is her dad and the best friend is her mom the song is describing how Taylor feels a hole in her life and goes to great lengths to put a bandaid over it by gathering friends and fans around her, and focusing on her music career.  She is saying because she feels a void in her parental relationships she has spent the time writing and making music which brought her all the friends and fans and fame.

My impression was that this line is doing two things:  Talking about the subject of the previous line and being used as a tool to put the story and the listener back in the correct timeline (1989 Era and The Squad).  For the latter, Taylor says it’s alright that HE doesn’t notice her because she has formed her own friend group that distracts her and makes her feel better.

Anyway

I hear it in your voice

Is Taylor saying this person is more dismissive when they’re with their friends?  

OR

Is she saying the voice literally sounds different when this person is smoking?

Tobacco:

Smoking weed could also change the sound of someone’s voice:

And it’s possible, but not a rule:

You’re smoking with your boys

I couldn’t find any evidence Scott Swift smokes.

I couldn’t find any evidence Scott Borchetta smokes.

I saw Karlie Kloss has NEVER smoked.

Is the smoker a lover/ex?

Jake-

He has smoked for movies, but he also smoked cigars and pipes at some point in time:

Jake G. also has been known to smoke weed:

Dianna-

She has also smoked for roles, and has been seen in public with a box of cigarettes: 

I couldn’t readily find anything about Dianna smoking weed, so if she does it seems she does it on the DL.

Joe-

He is the wrong timeline for this song, but I bring him up because Taylor talks about the beginning of her career in the song, so it’s possible she talks about a more current boyfriend/beard leaving her (emotionally) on her own as well.  

Joe smokes, but I think the Taylor Swift team cleaned up his image scrubbed the internet to be an appropriate partner for her.

Paper Rings could be talking about meeting Joe and his mates who were high.  It would  have to be his friends attending the MET Gala according to the most popular timeline of their relationship:

But also, Joe might be a is a cover for Karlie.  And that brings us back to the correct timeline for this song:  I think Paper Rings is for Karlie, and could allude to the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show where Taylor and Karlie [supposedly] met.  Taylor could be talking about how the other models were high at that 2013 show:

I touch my phone as if it’s your face

This gesture seems too romantic in nature to be a studio exec or father.  Taylor could have changed subjects after the “he’s gonna notice me” line.  It also rules out beards, because she wouldn’t long for their attention-it’s a business relationship.  This line, possibly the whole song might be talking about a romantic relationship:

Dianna-

Come Back, Be Here (2012):

Karlie-

It can’t be Karlie because she doesn’t smoke.  She wouldn’t be smoking with her boys.  It would also require this line to be another time jump, because during the 1989 Era Taylor and Karlie were constantly seen together.  It wasn’t until later that Taylor was alone and longing to touch Karlie’s face.

I didn’t choose this town

Nashville?

It was Taylor who wanted to move to Nashville in order to break into the music business.  Her parents say they didn’t want to pressure her to succeed, so they let her think the move was their idea.

London or New York?

This could be interpreted two ways:  Taylor is talking to someone who lives in London in this song and says she didn’t choose this town (London).  

OR 

Taylor could be saying Karlie was the one who chose NYC, but she had wanted to move to London.

I dream of getting out

Taylor dreams of leaving the afore-mentioned town?

She never lived in London so she doesn’t dream of moving away.

Taylor seems to have loved NYC until her and Karlie split and she couldn’t bear to be reminded of Kaylor, so if she’s talking about NYC (not a town) it requires another time jump.

That leaves Nashville.  Though Taylor wanted/needed to move to TN to get a foot in the door to music, she tired of it quickly.  Taylor was bullied in middle school, and she felt constricted in the red state.

There’s just one who could make me stay

A romantic partner/ex?

Dianna-

After 2012, it looks like Dianna was traveling back and forth to Australia, living in CA, and also spending time in the UK.  It looks like “staying” isn’t Dianna’s strong suit, so I don’t think this line is about her.

Karlie in NY?

It’s plausible Taylor is saying that Karlie is the only person who could have kept her in the U.S., but I’m not sure because it’s not like Taylor adamantly didn’t want to live in NYC.  

All my days

This addendum made me think more about a blood relative, than a romance which is not guaranteed to last a lifetime.  Taylor talks about wanting to leave Nashville due to feeling restrained and trapped there.  But the one thing that can pull her back through a protracted timeframe is her mom.

Her mom in TN?

From sprinkler splashes to fireplace ashes

Sprinkler splashes brings to mind exuberance and warm sunshine fun.  Fireplace ashes alludes to endings.  Taylor talks about things burning down in many songs.  To her, fire and burning are something scary and awful that destroys.  A break-up, panic about being outed, a ruined career:

After this destruction, the ashes are the only remnant of what used to be.  

My Tears Ricochet-

Hoax-

In this line Taylor went from happy, sunny fun to the debris left from a fire [drastic cause of destruction].  She could be talking about a combination of things that tie the song together:  childhood fun with her parents, or the 4th of July parties The Squad attended, to break-ups.

Her dad?

Taylor’s relationship with her father started out admiring, and considering him a protector of her, “My daddy’s gonna show you how sorry you’ll be.”  Later the relationship with her dad was stalled–he was often absent from Taylor’s life.  Then he only tolerated her [sexuality?] and finally when he [maybe] cheated on her mom there was not quite estrangement, as he is heavily involved with Taylor’s career, but a schism formed.

$cott Borchetta/studio?

Taylor could secondly be bringing up her relationship with $cott Borchetta and her label at large.  Getting signed started out a dream come true, hopeful and exhilarating, ended in oppression, then ruins when he sold her masters.

Jake G.?

He could be an option here as well.  Taylor might have gone into it with optimism.  Whether she had comp-het and was trying to make a straight coupling work, or if she was thrust into a bearding situation, she seemed sincere in trying to make it work.  At the end, Taylor was jaded (either toward men or the bearding process).

Dianna?

She could also work here.  Swiftgron was red and passionate, but Dianna was gone all the time, and there may have been cheating on both sides of the relationship, until their romance was obliterated beyond repair.

The Squad?

The time period of this song seems to be mostly the 1989 Era so Taylor could be bringing up The Squad.  I think she hired them to distract from her boy crazy image.  The 4th of July parties looked mostly like photo-shoots to me.  Then after the 1989 Era put friendships in the forefront instead of boys, the group disintegrated and “we’ll never say that word again.”

Karlie?

Lastly, Taylor could be looking at all her relationships throughout her life and evoking how she and Karlie were both made of ashes at the end of Kaylor.

I waited ages to see you there

Taylor describes waiting for whoever she was talking about in the last line over ages.  Career-wise she could be talking about from the time she was a child to before she was a household name.  Taylor waited a long time, and also over many birthdays to be recognized as the musical prodigy that she is.  And the 1989 Era solidified Taylor’s place as a pop star.

Her fans?

Taylor’s father?

He never really came to her shows or awards.  Is she saying she waited ages for him to show up for her:

Jake or Dianna?

This line brings to mind, The Moment I Knew:

If Taylor is talking about Jake it brings up the 21st Birthday mythology that he was a no-show.

Dianna was not there a lot of times, which was a central issue in the Swiftgron relationship.

And if she’s talking throughout her life, Taylor could be telling Karlie that when she’s with Jo$h and not her, it wrecks Kaylor.

I search the party of better bodies

The party of beautiful people could be some sort of music networking thing that Taylor went to in order to get known and break into the industry, or even when she was trying to cross over to pop:

The party might be talking about any event Taylor attended with the models.  Is she talking about The Squad?

The party could be some awards pre or post party where Jake or Dianna attended.  For example Taylor, Dianna, and Lea Michele all went to the 2014 MET Gala:

Just to learn that you never cared

Scott Borchetta/her country label?

The Squad/fake friends/paid PR-

Jake G.?

All Too Well Short Film:

It wasn’t real to him because she was his beard?

But innocent Taylor was not on the same page. She saw a future with Jake, and was shocked when he suddenly broke things off:

You’re on your own, kid

You always have been

I see the great escape

So long, Daisy May

Who is Daisy May, and what characteristics is Taylor trying to highlight?

Daisy Mae Scragg of Lil’ Abner comic strip-

Daisy Mae Dutten of video game Bullworth Academy-

Daisys that aren’t Maes:

Daisy Buchannan of The Great Gatsby-

Like Anti-Hero this may be Taylor’s critical side. She could see herself as these traits when she is in her self-hating mode.

Daisy Kenyon in the film of the same name-

I picked the petals, he loves me not

Or maybe it’s none of those characters, and Taylor (tagged as the daisy) is just referring to herself:

Something different bloomed

https://www.billboard.com/music/pop/taylor-swift-solo-songwriter-list-1235022983/

Writing in my room

I play my songs in the parking lot

I’ll run away

Taylor leaves painful situations to write and to focus on her career ambitions.

From sprinkler splashes to fireplace ashes

I called a taxi to take me there

She is saying she had nobody to drive her because she was on her own. Taylor had to pay someone to take her.

Where is Taylor at and where is she going?

Probably not TN to NYC-

She’s wealthy, but this seems like a long fare.

Maybe she means figuratively.  Taylor wants to be a household name, and she does this by bringing a personal touch to her listeners.  During the 1989 Era, Taylor called a Taxi company and made an account to pay for all of her fans to get to and from her concert.  Gestures like this make for a loyal fan base, which will help Taylor’s music career succeed.

I search the party of better bodies

Aspiring music writers/singers?

Taylor could be looking back at the start of her career during her juncture between country and pop music. She could also be talking about competing with other women for the crown of pop stardom.

Models and actresses joined the squad to bolster their career?

Just to learn that my dreams aren’t rare

You’re on your own, kid

You always have been

From sprinkler splashes to fireplace ashes

I gave my blood, sweat, and tears for this

blood-

Sweat-

I really wanted to find out how long Taylor rehearses choreography for shows and tours, but this must be top secret information.  Despite trying for hours to Google different key words I couldn’t find anything that specified in any kind of detail how many hours.  I imagine it’s a long time.

A general example of rehearsals (not related specifically to Taylor):

Taylor’s purported 3x weekly workout and treadmill schedule:

Tears-

I hosted parties and starved my body

Taylor divulged she had disordered eating in Miss Americana.  I read in 2014 that she weighed 132lb.  This might not be accurate at all, who knows, but taking that number for an example it puts her BMI at 18.4 (underweight).  Also, I know BMI is a bit antiquated and depends on many variables that are not standardized to everyone.  But I’m trying to show some kind of quantitative example, so just go with it.  At 5’11” Taylor could weigh up to 178lb and be in a healthy weight range, per the BMI calculator.  

This is 1989 compared to Reputation:

Like I’d be saved by a perfect kiss

In her country years Taylor had an idealized vision of what love should look like.  She seemed to draw from Disney and other fairytales in her youth.  

Kisses in Taylor’s songs:

As she got older, Taylor started dating and may have held onto some of that naivety.  It seemed like she thought a boyfriend could fix all of her problems.  She trusted these guys and seemed genuinely disappointed when they let her down:

Jonas brother-

Jake-

John Mayer-

Later, the boyfriends looked more fake (Tom Hiddleston) and some/all could have been beards.  To me, it looks like Taylor was pushed into these showmances and bearding situations (JJ, TL, JG, JM), but then she started hiring her own beards in order to “save” her career from her sexuality. Posing for a photo kissing a man would increase buzz around her music, make her more relatable, (and save Taylor from being outed?).

The jokes weren’t funny, I took the money

What money did Taylor take? 

Money from the studio to get started?

Money from fans who believed that Taylor’s genuine stories perfectly matched up with the PR narratives?

Money from celebrities who wanted to hide their sexuality under a beard?

Taylor is tying money to her dating life in this line.  She doesn’t like the boy-crazy jokes, BUT she took the money.  A definite possibility is that Lautner’s people, Jonas’ people, Jake, and even JM could have paid her for bearding services:

The gossip says that Jake is known for hiring beards:

A meme or a perceptive insight?

My friends from home don’t know what to say

Taylor’s friends are surprised that she is doing inauthentic things they know aren’t in her character in order to grow her career.

I looked around in a blood-soaked gown

The only thing that comes to mind is Carrie:

At first I thought this reference was out of left field, but after reading the following I thought it fit Taylor surprisingly well:

And I saw something they can’t take away

THEY can’t take away Taylor’s writing ability.  She honed her skills alone in her bedroom, practiced them in parking lots, and she will always have that.

‘Cause there were pages turned with the bridges burned

The pages turned could be moving on to the next chapter of life, for example, the move from Nashville to NYC. This could additionally be talking about leaving relationships.

This is true about her writing/music too. Songs were cut or never added to the album for whatever reason (a lot were too gay).

Everything you lose is a step you take

With every new start something had to end.

Every song in the crypt contributed to the final product of the finished album [writing is editing!]. And those finalized albums are the stepping stones to the great fame Taylor enjoys(?) today.

Is Taylor talking about something specifically here?

Country/Nashville/home roots?

Jake G. (or men in general)?

It wasn’t working out, but that brought Taylor to the Kaylor relationship (women)?

If Jake was a beard, does the above apply to Dianna?

The Squad/fake friends?

So make the friendship bracelets

During the 1989 Era, bracelets were given to the crowd:

A fan gave Taylor a bracelet with pink and blue and purple beads with the word “pride” spelled out. She displayed it prominently in the below photo:

Take the moment and taste it

I don’t know that much about Buddhism, but there is a philosophy within that talks about living in the moment. And it applies a lot to worry and anxiety. The tenants have subjects of the spirituality be aware of their 6 senses (I think heart is the 6th?) in order to be present at this place in time. It relieves worry and regret which focus on present and past.

Less seriously:

You’ve got no reason to be afraid

You’re on your own, kid

Yeah, you can face this

Renegade-

You’re on your own, kid

You always have been

Where does all of this leave us?

I think Taylor is telling us she has a rift between her and her father. But her mom is someone she can trust, and Andrea loves her unconditionally.

Nashville, country music, and her label made Taylor feel constricted and trapped.

Moving to NYC felt like wonderful freedom and breaking into pop catapulted Taylor to the top of the industry. There was a price to pay for that though-starving her body for just one example.

Jake may have hired/(secretly regarded?) Taylor as a beard. Taylor either didn’t know she wasn’t a real GF, or didn’t understand how Jake could remain cold and detached when acting the part made Taylor catch real feelings for him. It’s also a possibility that Taylor already knew she was queer, and the breakup with Jake hit her hard because she was morning the loss of a straight future she would never have.

With Dianna, Taylor knew she needed more. She wanted someone to be present and consistent and loyal, or it left her unhappy. There could also have been the revelation that she could never fight the logistics to be with a woman. Taylor might have been so upset because her career and Dianna (or any woman) could never coexist.

The Squad felt superficial and empty. Even though Taylor was able to have all the friends she wanted as a kid, it wasn’t satisfying and didn’t last.

Kaylor breakup hit Taylor hard and she is still recovering.

Bearding/Joe protects Taylor’s career but she’s living an isolated life, unable to have a true love. That makes Taylor miserable, but she leans on her music to cope.

2023 Goals and Resolutions

29 Jan

Last year I was just trying to keep my head above water. Everything fell off. This year, I want to ease into it, not come in too hot. But I do have some things I would like to move toward.

use all the stuff we have

When we were ambushed by the rent renewal price, I had been stocking up on groceries and toiletries. During the pandemic things would be sold out, certain brands/sizes/types weren’t available, and things were slower to get here. So I had been buying in bulk, ordering early, stocking up when something was a reasonable price. This made for a huge move. You’re not just going to throw away multiple tubes of toothpaste, for example, you have to pack and carry them.

This time I want to eat down everything so we’re not moving pounds of sugar and gallons of oil. I want to keep inventory sparse, so we have the bare necessities to pack and store.

What goes along with this is saving money by eating those weird things in the back of the cupboard, reading books we own instead of buying new ones, and playing our Wii instead of spending money for entertainment.

So we need to use up odds and ends.

use up: chapstick, deodorant, face lotions, face masks, toothpaste

get rid of things we don’t use

dehydrator? ice cream maker? shoes, toaster, vacubot

Throw things away

cutting board

Diet (Angus) the cats

feed less, use T/D for light snacks, feed canned food

floss

it’s all about doing this in the morning before work. Get it done early in the day before I’m tired, busy, stressed out.

water

fill it before work, drink it every hour,

call parents more frequently, for shorter times

use the video app to talk more about daily things, chat to keep up, plan a strict time limit and set the microwave clock, do chores while talking

start weights again

do this after mile on weekdays

re-start creative intervals

start reading at the tail end of work if we have no time, take a short break at work to draw if there’s no time

dentist

glasses

walk up a hill again

read about narcissism

stay safe

cross the street if ANYONE else is near, go in a pair when people aren’t everywhere/it’s dark, pay attention to our surroundings, use the alarm,

save money

buy everything we can from Save A Lot, do grocery pick up instead of paying delivery fees, clean air filters more frequently, clean fountains more frequently, cook at home more, shorter showers, turn off lights, turn power bars off when not in use,

rein in the calories (log them)

stay under 300 calories before dinner, track them on the app

organize and pack

fancy clothes, work-only clothes

have my resume all updated just in case

click into the job emails to see if something will work, apply for equal or better positions at least once a week, make a cover letter template, make several resumes tailored to different kinds of positions,

Kelsea Ballerini and Taylor Swift are Legends

28 Jan

Here’s another song in Kelsea’s catalog where I think she is talking about Taylor, and purposely inserting certain words, themes, and images to reference Taylor. You decide:

Legends

We were golden, we were fire, we were magic

Is Kelsea intentionally using key words from Taylor’s songs?

Taylor modifies how she sees love from passionate, burning red, to golden like daylight. She wants to step out of the woods into the warmth of daylight.

Deep blue, but you painted me golden

The fire is a spark, or a comforting light in the darkness. It’s both warming and dangerous (if not controlled). Taylor also sees fire in a negative light, as being outed, burning the room down. And fire turning to ashes is like a relationship that ends, enkindling both people.

It seems Kelsea is alluding to comforting and warming, as she Wedges “fire” between golden and magic.

Magic is Taylor’s realization of what attraction and love feel like (vs. comp-het). Magic is also the disappearing act her and her sapphic lover are able to pull off thanks to heteronormativity [best friends!].

Yeah and they all knew our names all over town

Taylor and Kelsea are both big names in Nashville.

They have both toured the world and topped the music charts.

Taylor’s description of Nashville:

To Taylor, Nashville has become limiting and artificial, entrapping her in a disingenuous image. Kelsea moved to Nashville as a teen because she had seen Taylor do it. Kelsea wanted to emulate Taylor’s career, and was excited to be in a place where it could happen. So many eager hopefuls travel to Nashville, seat of country music, to make it in the industry.

We had it made in the middle of the madness

A music star has a crazy schedule.

“Celebrity” could be a chaotic life.

Sapphic affairs might cause a stir.

Madness could be rebelling against social norms.

We were neon in a gray cloud

Taylor uses bright color to describe sapphic love (vs. the black and white of straight love):

Taylor is chronically sad and depressed (in part due to being closeted):

Both cheating and sapphic love put Taylor’s relationships in a gray area:

The clouds might signify Taylor pining for Karlie, or trying to get her back:

But Kelsea says they were colorful and gay in the midst of Taylor’s depression, in a confusing situation, and when Taylor’s head is still in the Kaylor clouds.

Yeah, we wrote our own story

They paved their own way because what other two (country) music stars are in a sapphic relationship?

They each literally wrote their story in their songs.

Full of blood sweat and heartbeats

Full of blood?

Is it talking about working toward careers: blood, sweat, and tears? But there were no tears, so the heartbeats are a reprieve from that? The heartbeats signal excitement and passion.

Or is it talking sexy time (pitter patter of the heart then getting sweaty) under a blood moon?

They might have had their affair during the month of a lunar eclipse.

Or the blood moon may signal an infrequent and intermittent affair (twice a year).

Additionally, it could be some October as the full moon that month is called Blood-Moon due to hunting season.

Can we use the moon to pin down the time frame the Taylor and Kelsea might have had a fling?

Months of blood moons:

Based on the Delicate cover and Taylor’s response to it:

and the towels pic:

I think their affair could have happened at least in 2018. March-May 2018 seems more than friends, possibly. Due to the on/off Kelsea’s discography alludes to it could have also been intermittent in years prior or after this too.

Counterfeit:

Taylor wants to resolve Kaylor, but she is anxiously waiting for things to align. While Taylor waits for the perfect timing with Karlie there’s a glitch and she gets with Kelsea.

Beating hearts/heartBEAT:

We didn’t do it for the fame or the glory

Kelsea is contrasting the very public Kaylor to KelSwift. Karlie and the models might have been hired as PR to eliminate the boy-crazy image Taylor hated. Taylor needed a best friend to take away mention of men. Karlie signed on to play the BFF to get more exposure and recognition to bolster her own career.

And Kaylor accidently fell in love.

But Kelsea and Taylor are not together for PR or careers. There was never money exchanged between the two.

They came together more organically.

But we went down in history

Yeah we were legends

That sounds a lot like a closeted sapphic relationship! There are rumors, but no pictures.

It also sounds a lot like the premise of the folklore album.

But notice Kelsea is talking in past tense.

Loving you baby it was Heaven

Another past tense line.

In Cruel Summer, Taylor describes her relationship with (I’m pretty sure) Karlie. The relationship is delicate and fragile for many reasons: Taylor feels conflicted because society taught her that sapphic love is sinful, and she brings up religious figures to show her concern. The relationship is also fickle because Kaylor started out friends with benefits, no strings attached, and Taylor and Karlie caught stronger feelings on antithetical timelines. Thirdly, the Kaylor relationship feels precarious because Karlie can’t commit fully–partially because she had a long-term boyfriend/beard.

During KelSwift, Taylor is still apprehensive about her sexuality, especially in a public forum. Now Taylor treats Kelsea like Karlie treated her at first. She doesn’t want to be serious, and is just looking for a fun fling. Kelsea, however, has strong feelings for Taylor, just like the strong feelings Taylor had/has for Karlie. Taylor has been on both sides of the equation between Kaylor (pining/wanting more) and KelSwift (distracted/non-committal).

What everyone wondered we’d never question/Close our eyes and took on the world together

This line is more strong evidence that this is a different (gay) type of relationship. Why would other people wonder about this couple? Why does the pair need to take on the world?

I think “take on the world” is also talking about their music careers. Kelsea and Taylor and both striving to get their music out to the world.

Do you remember?

We were crazy

Tragic and epic and so amazing

Interesting choice of words…

I’ll always wear the crown that you gave me

The crown. We talked about how Taylor has at least 3 songs that mention a crown specifically in the Homecoming Queen analysis.

Out of Kelsea, her husband, and Taylor who was the first to move to Nashville, and who got signed first?

Kelsea’s husband was signed after she had already been signed for a year.

https://www.seventeen.com/celebrity/music/news/a29259/all-it-took-was-a-tweet-to-make-kelsea-ballerini-an-instant-star/

We will always stay lost in forever

And they’ll remember

We were legends

Like we were written down in permanent marker

KelSwift leaves an indelible mark on Nashville and music. And the couple will always have good memories of their relationship. This line also might be a call back to an early Taylor Swift performance in Nashville:

Kelsea uses “permanent marker” possibly to contrast the word “paint” that Taylor often uses in her own songs. Paint can be RE-painted, or covered up easily. Permanent marker is more difficult to remove or modify.

Not even the brightest sun could ever fade

In Peace, Karlie tells Taylor she is sunshine/fire/friend, and would take away Taylor’s depression and die for her:

To Kelsea, sunshine is Karlie. She is saying even Karlie at her brightest, can’t take away the memories of KelSwift.

Come whichever hell or high water

Taylor thinks fiery hell would be getting outed in a gay relationship:

And the water is Taylor’s team putting out the fire with their damage control:

Kelsea is saying KelSwift could survive despite the closeting (for fear of fire/hell) and the PR damage control (water/flood) that also comes with bearding. Kelsea is also in the industry so she knows how important it is to be descreet. She even wrote a song about keeping secrets, If You Go Down (I’m Going Down Too). Kelsea is commenting that Taylor wouldn’t be outed with her. And Kelsea is saying she already knows the industry and the PR damage control doesn’t bother her.

It was always me and you either way

Hey we wrote our own story

Full of blood sweat and heartbeats

We didn’t do it for the fame or the glory

We just did it for you and me

And that’s why we were legends

I’m not the only one who noticed similarities between Kelsea and Taylor in this song.  Unlike the hater that wrote the following article, I don’t think Kelsea is doing a cheap remake of Taylor’s work. I think Kelsea is intentionally referencing Taylor in order to furtively tell the audience who the subject of this song is–Taylor.

Keeping Score is Losing (even if you’re morally superior)

27 Jan

Letter to the Past-

I think this song pairs well with the story in the first song. The narrator [Brandi?] says it’s [love? life?] is a game. And admits the partner is right. BUT even so, nobody is winning when everyone is negative and holding grudges.

In this song, our troubled main character puts it all out there. Brandi sings she is usually losing, but wins sometimes. Our narrator asks her lover to look at the bigger picture, open up their mind and also be more authentic instead of always trying to show a tough face. Because loving someone while keeping score is still kind of losing, even if you’re morally right. We all die one day, and nobody looks at the score. So the narrator asks the partner to stop trying to keep score, as it’s actually hurting themself in the end, they are becoming fatigued and sore.

This song is beautiful, with soulful singing and lots of emotion.

The chorus really bothers me though! The following comparison, in my opinion, is bad writing: The narrator is saying the partner is like a Stone wall (intentional call-back to start of gay-movement location? but stable, grounded, always there, strong). But it’s not a good comparison to rubber-bands (flexible? Stretched too thin?). It’s just two random objects being compared. I think the writing could have been better.

Anyway, the last line, “you’re built to last” I’m almost certain that’s the slogan of a car manufacturer-Ford? I cannot take the song seriously when it ends in a commercial jingle!

This song is not my favorite, but continues to peek into this couple’s psyche to see what is wrong, why they got there, and if there is a desire on both parts to repair it.

Brandi Carlile’s Mama Werewolf-Vices Tempered by Children

26 Jan

Mama werewolf-

It seems like this is already a fan favorite on the album. It has very clear symbolism, and I think resonates with a lot of people who feel like they have a vice that might have conquered them if not for the children they straightened up for.

Brandi is now speaking as a mother (or whoever our narrator is now talks as a parent). They say how they’re awake at night, in the streets, full of fear. But when all the good intentions become actions that cause pain to her family, Brandi remembers her children. The kids are what keep her from damaging herself and others. When Brandi comes out of this dangerous, problematic werewolf-like state, she feels empty and regretful. I think the key to the song, and possibly the album is in the following verse:

“The curse I get from my father’s kin they fought the beast I feel within we don’t talk about it we don’t call its name we just carry on hoping it will change though we know it will never change”

I can’t be certain what Brandi is talking about here. But to me, it sounds like genetics, “curse from my father’s kin” might be some problematic genes passed paternally. This bad thing might be an independent streak, wildness, dreaminess, or an addiction, like alcoholism.

Is Brandi the alke?

Whatever this problem is that has been passed down, it goes unacknowledged. The family ostriches about it, if you will. They don’t deal with it directly, instead hoping if they ignore it the problematic thing will just disappear.

But Brandi sings the one thing keeping this main character from self-destructing is the child. They are the silver bullet that keeps her (the werewolf) from going off the rails (too much).

In the progression of the album, it’s been discussed that there’s a problem with the narrator that ‘s impacting the lover negatively. The narrator wants to try and keep the relationship together, because they’re dependent on the lover. But the lover is dead in the eyes, and lost their spark through all the trying times they’ve been put through by the narrator. The main character gives a bit of background about why their foundation is damaged in the broken horses and pastor songs. Then, the narrator ventures that the lover is in the wrong too. Not in their behavior, but in the closed way they think of the relationship and put the narrator in the punishment box. In judging and picking winners and losers, the lover is also in the wrong. Love is not a game. And furthermore, the narrator says the lover could stand to be more vulnerable. The lover always puts on a strong front, and as such is very closed-off and hidden emotionally. Then, this last werewolf song addresses the children, and how the narrator values them above all else, and keeps it reigned in because of the kids.

Brandi Carlile’s Broken Horses-My Take

25 Jan

Broken Horses-

Is the best singing on the album. Brandi told Rolling Stone podcast that she didn’t want to look like she was just singing so strongly like this to show off. I say, there should be MORE belting the eff out. And less apologizing for showcasing talent. Show. the fuck. off, Brandi! Jesus the scream-note. Because I love the singing so much and think this is the best song (vocally) on this album, and towards the top in her catalogue, I honestly didn’t attend to the lyrics for the first 100 listens.

Wearing something inside your skin is quite the imagery. Brandi is telling us that leather (tough, of-nature, yet soft, versatile) was passed down from her father to her. And it’s not just something she can take off–the leather inside the skin is deeply ingrained. I don’t know who “you” is in this song. I don’t think it’s the partner referenced in the prior songs. Brandi insinuates this person somehow attacks her. I think the Sunday best means someone in a church, or someone really phony who uses their dress and manner to hide their sinister intentions. Telling that person they had better call their priest shows me maybe it’s someone in the congregation (from her denied-Baptism story?) telling Brandi she doesn’t belong?

Brandi says she has also worn the jester’s bells (funny, silly, clownish, naïve?). And she worshiped at the alter of a puppet-master. I think this means a religious leader had an expectation their congregation would be mindless and under his(?) total control without thought or push-back. Then, Brandi compares religion to a play or show. She says, being a puppet for an authoritarian minister was not fulfilling. Brandi blames this minister for a more superficial, experience. When under this preacher’s guidance, she held back her true words, and the result of that was her children are in the cheap seats (far back, more distractions, not as good, worse) and got a worse big event (religious understanding or experience, going back to reality).

I feel like the book would enlighten me to the meaning of the chorus. [Right now Cool is reading it, while I finish a book I had already started. I’ll read Brandi’s when she’s done]. But Cool did tell me Brandi said she’s not talking about “breaking” a horse to ride here. Tethered in open spaces is feeling tied down, being restrained but seeing huge possibility. If you’re spiritually restrained or holding back your true self in a big, wide world would feel smothering. The horse and the subdued person would both want to escape, run free, be more authentic to their nature.

Right into the barrel of a gun. I’m not sure where the gun comes from . Is someone aggressing? Is it suicide ideology? This could mean, when the person holds back so much that they are missing out that they don’t want to continue on that way. Because life lived in a closed way, isn’t even worth living? Or they’re so frustrated, yet trapped and they don’t know how to gain freedom? Or it could be the cowboy (or captor, person making them feel so trapped) that holds the gun to keep the horse/person within their control. If they escape, run, open up–they will be punished.

Mending up YOUR fences with MY horses runnin’ wild seems like some sort of compromise. Brandi says her inner self is running wild (the horses are untied and galloping through the field) but she’s careful too. She’s fixing the break in the fence that allowed that momentary freedom. She is reigning it back in, checking herself. Brandi helps keep herself tethered by fixing the fence that traps her and makes her so unhappy. Now, it’s not just the person with the gun keeping her (emotions) tied up and hidden, it’s Brandi (the horses) herself capitulating.

The 3rd verse reinforces this. Brandi says she treaded softly (walked on eggshells, tried to “behave”) to get this other person’s praise. This other person doesn’t like Brandi as she is, they want her to be less wild. As such Brandi doesn’t shout loudly or stomp or act out–she whispers through tears and begs sweetly. At the end, Brandi says, enough with this shit, it’s not me. I’m not going to reign it in and be tethered to please you any longer. She says she allowed this for a long time, but it’s not what she wants for her children. She tells this “you” enough.

Like I said, not having read the book, I think I’m at a bit of a disadvantage to analyze the song. But I get the impression “you” isn’t the same you as the romantic partner in the prior songs on the album. I think this may relate to the story I’ve heard Brandi tell in concert, and in many interviews about the pastor who wouldn’t baptize her. That traumatized her and she’s saying she played along and acted “good” for long enough. She wants to be more her authentic self, despite criticism from the church.