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Monday, June 10, 2024

STIMMING

 

 

 

When I was a kid, I couldn't stop moving and tapping on shit. Blinking non-stop. My mom explains now that I started out as a really rambunctious kid, like lets say this is age five. Talking to strangers, yelling, running around.  One of my first memories is that I'm in class in grade two - second grade. My desk had already been moved so it's touching the teachers desk because I will not shut the fuck up and let the other kids learn geometry or whatever you learn in grade two. Anyways, the teacher goes to the bathroom one afternoon and I immediately jump up and stand on the top of my desk, screaming "We are civilized people!" No idea how that gets into the head of a seven year old.  Maybe my dad had been watching Monty Python a bit too loud the night before as I fell asleep - that was the energy. I remember standing there, orating, feeling like a god, everyone in class lapping it all up, uproarious laughter, the whole thing. The teacher comes back from the john and shuts it all down. I'm a legend.

Something happened over the years and I got really shy. If you fast forward ten years, I ended up being too afraid to make group presentations in front of the class, and walked to the back of the room during one, explained to the teacher in whispers that I was too nervous to speak. She said I'd get a failing grade, and I nodded, walking back up to the front feeling like I'd just made off with a deal. In those ten years something happened, life? There was still all this energy inside me.

I changed schools for third grade to go to a gifted program really far from where I grew up.  I panicked when I found out I'd be leaving the life I had built for myself up to 2nd grade. It felt crushing. I got up there, to Broadacres, to mix it up with all the other gifted little kids from around the city.  The class room had a bathtub in it where you could go and 'think', we did a project on how to grow plants, and kept tabs on those grey whales that got stuck under the polar ice caps - that kind of shit.  It was immersive. I can't tell you if I took to it or not, but I can tell you that as I grew shyer and shyer, that energy was still racing around inside my body.  I was doing this thing with my arm, constantly - bringing the first up in this fast motion to where it would kind of hit the front of my shoulder, closing the hinge of the arm as it were, get it? This really fast thing that after I started I could not really stop, and I could not explain why it was happening.  All day I'd just sit there, or walking around the halls, flipping up my arm.

Kids noticed and would do it back to me, rubbing it in. In a school full of weird kids I'd made mine visible so that everyone could make fun of me. That of course doubles down the anxiety and you just end up in this endless loop you cannot understand, you don't have the tools to talk about, you just have the stim, the motion, the salve of letting off this flick of the body as much as you needed to.  I did this for like years and years. Me and my stim, protecting each other.

As an adult, I'd drum a lot. Like a lot. Walking down the street listening to music, I'm drumming on the air.  Making food, I'm drumming. Girlfriends - they're laughing at me for all the drumming. What's it about? You're not even a drummer.

We're just stuck inside these bodies we don't really understand. We understand that something grows inside of us, and that's us, and it wants to be let out.  The body is there to protect the growth from the world, and vice versa. My stim protects from the ways I could get.  I started to think about it now, as this really calm, slow, older man. I still stay up as late as I can manage every single night. Past 1 - my body is tired, but my mind is not finished. What if there is something I didn't look at? The next morning, my mind is racing while my body is cursing - it's 8am, I haven't had enough sleep, but we're awake and I know from experience there is no point trying to sleep a little bit more. My mind is made up.  I lay there for hours reading, waiting for my body to catch up. Naps? I try, and my mind will sit for at most ten minutes before we're up again, the lightning inside my head dragging my zombie body towards whatever is coming.

At around 14 I started to take music really seriously. I paid for a guitar and an amp with my own money. I set it up in the basement and tried to play whatever video was playing on Much Music. I quit playing sports because I decided it had to be one or the other and I was a music person now, not a sports person.  Heart Shaped Box was a big song around then, and that opening arpeggio taught me what the basics of a power-chord was. I liked Metallica but that was too fast yet to play. I was becoming a musician.  My mom made me take piano for years, and brought me to musicals - music was already in my head, now I was making my body catch up.

I think back now to that time, being a shy kid, loving this wild music - I'd sit there waiting for them to play the Supersuckers video and the Beowulf video from the Tank Girl sound track - hearing music that fast played on the TV in my basement seemed like such an impossibility, I knew it was this glimpse into another world, this fast world. I felt fast, I wanted to live fast but I moved slow.  My first show was Strung Out in 1994 - I had never seen a mosh pit before, I had never seen stage dives - I dove off that stage, flailed around on peoples heads and ran right back up on the stage to do it again - non stop for the entire set.  I had found this writhing, twitching, moving world, and I let my body sink into it.

So now, after all these years, all these records, all this thinking about my life, my body. That's what music has been for me - a place to put the energy that my body never figured out what to do with.  I'm drumming on the air because I'm made of music. I'm making records because that's the only way my body knows how to translate what's inside of me.  My hands shook as a child - but as soon as you put a guitar in them, the strings started to vibrate, and it translated what I had always struggled to say.  The twitching went away, I stopped doing the shit with my arms, and I just played guitar, and I wrote songs, and I started to bang on the roof of the world with a purpose, with rhythm, because I had finally learned how to translate this shit that had been stuck inside me my whole life - it wasn't words, it wasn't pain, it was just life, and sound.

We're old now, so these records are all about what we give our children - what we put into their hands, what we pass down. What world we make to leave them to hold.  It's so crass, it's so fucking stupid - we come down on kids for being on their phones or whatever - we made the phones. That's what we left them.   They want the world. They want to take it from us, to use the tools to translate what's inside of them to communicate. So leave them something good, let them vibrate in the way that they need to.  Let them be weird - don't try and change the kid - let them change the world.

 


2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

what we all could have been if we had embraced our innate weirdness

10:30 PM  
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