Wednesday, June 11, 2008

New Alanis . . .

When Jagged Little Pill came out in 1995, I was just getting home from finishing up my freshman year at Quinnipiac.

I had easily gained the freshman fifty (what's that - it is the freshman fifteen? well - not in my experience) and I was working the only job I could find following two weeks of searching around . . . I was working the night shift at a local factory that made sample sized items and mail inserts (think hotel shampoo, samples of new toothpaste in foil-packs and individually wrapped calcium tablets).

I was taken with the CD and with Alanis Morissette. I don't know what it was about the CD but I think part of it was the anger and part of it was the hope. I bought the CD the day it came out and I listened to it again and again and again that whole summer and well in to my fall semester of my Sophomore year.

Truth be told, I probably gained and then lost another 50 pounds while listening to the CD.

Yep, your moans are justified . . . I'm about to link my life's experience to Alanis Morissette's discography.

The next time we heard from Ms. Morissette, I had just moved to DC and her single from the film City of Angels (Uninvited) was an instant favorite for me. I listened to it again and again and again and it made me think about how your best intentions can mean NOTHING if the object of your intentions is not interested. Incidentially, must by money and food were uninvited in my life. I lost over 40 pounds as an unpaid intern and returned to my college graduation a slimmer, healthier and happier person than I left the campus six months earlier.

By the time Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie came out that November life was "complicated" - I was making money and was back to eating and counted graduate school and binge drinking as my two least favorite time sucks. The CD blew me away. To this DAY I can not hear "Thank You" without getting nostolgic for life as I knew it then including when she says "Thank You providence" - she meant it in the spiritual sense but, to me, it remind me of Tim and Jess and the time I spent at their place in Providence (Rhode Island). That I Would Be Good was a song that I also still carry around in my iPod and on many a mix CD. My weight was going up, the depression was setting in and I was just hoping that I would figure it out and survive the process. That I would be GOOD when it was over.

Fast forward a year . . . November, 1999. I didn't go home for Thanksgiving because my weight was so high I didn't like to move. That and my checking account or maxed out credit cards were not all that keen on picking up the tab for a plane ticket. Instead I sat - alone - in my DC apartment for the entire four day weekend and drank and ate and played PlayStation (the ORIGINAL one - Tony Hawk, y'all) and listened to Alanis Morissette Unplugged again and again and again. The live and accoustic version of "That I Would Be Good" was just too much. "No Pressure Over Cappucino" was hopeful for me . . . still is. It is on Ava's current lullaby mix-CD. Words to live by are contained in that one.

Alanis played God in (and put some music on the soundtrack for) Dogma later that year. Love Kevin Smith. Love Alanis. Love George Carlin. Love blasphemy. Good times.

Under Rug Swept came out in 2002 (February, I believe). By that point I was just a miserable person. I'd started leaving notes to people I love in my apartment bedroom - you know - just in case (insert awkward smile here) and I had no real pretenses that I was ever going to figure out how to get happy and how to deal with my food impulses. The previous fall had been a DISASTER. A friend's father had a stroke and later passed away. September 11th had hit, literally, DC and my father had a mini-stroke and crisis of identity that fall. My crisis was not far behind. My roommate Bob had just moved out to start his married and family life and Ben had moved in to the front room of the apartment. I was too freaked out by alllllll of it to deal with any of it. At That Particular Time nothing was making sense and no one was talking any sense. The song was pitch perfect for where my head was at. I had stopped drinking 18 months earlier but food was all the more powerful in my life.

Then the So-Called Chaos started to make sense. By the release of the album in May, 2004, I had met and was madly in love with Joy. Her presence as the new center of my life and my new obsession had really started to curb my love of food and my hatred for myself. I was saved as far as I was concerned. If I could only muster up enough self-love to love this woman as she deserved to be loved, I would be fine. Oddly enough - this CD came at around the time that Alanis got together with Ryan Reynolds so it was the first UPBEAT CD Alanis had put out. My life was getting better and hers was too? NOW you see where all this is going (or I HOPE it is going). Just listen to the song Everything and you'll understand what I'm talking about.

In July of 2005, Joy and I had just gotten married and the 10th anniversary of Jagged Little Pill was marked with an accoustic version of the album. How interesting that I had survived the very, very awkward 20s of my life and that I was in a very, very different place than I was when the first CD came out. You Learn took on a whole new meaning. Joy and I probably listened to this CD 1,000 times in the first month we owned it.

Later that year, right around Christmas, The Collection came out. A greatest hits album had never seemed so perfect. They had just canceled my gastric bypass procedure in Baltimore and I was regaining all the weight I had lost in prep for the surgery. I was realizing that I needed EVERYTHING to go my way for anything to seem right, fair or justified. A decade older - no more mature in many ways. Best song on that CD - by leaps and bounds - was Mercy. The song will put chills in your spine - event when you've heard it 1,000 times. When Ava was born we used the song for a video we put together for Ava's new grandparents. It makes me think of how small and how strong Ava was when she was born and how strong I became with and through her.

And that brings us to yesterday - when Flavors of Entanglement came out. I've just listened to it for the third full time and I have to say - it might be my favorite Alanis CD yet (and I've liked them all). Check out Underneath, Tapes and Incomplete (my FAVORITE song on the CD and my favorite song of the moment - the introduction in the video reminds me of how I used to think life actually worked and how I realized it works very, very differently) if you don't want to spring for the whole CD on iTunes. I've lost almost 240 pounds since the last time Alanis came out with a CD (and Joy and I saw her live in concert in Baltimore). I've learned a lot more about myself and how to wrestle with life and how to make it through the much without food or alcohol or any of my former vices (if only I could curb my emotional swings one of these albums (smile)).
It seems like me and Alanis have both come to peace with our lives. We know what we want - we know we don't have it all and we know that we are largely to blame for what we don't have. It feels pretty good to know that I'm not alone in this continued struggle.

Thanks for seeing me through the chaos, Alanis. I appreciate the soundtrack!

1 comment:

This Show said...

I saw her today. I accidentally sent her to the wrong elevator. (One of her people was insistent that they go one way and kept asking for my advice till I agreed with hers.)

Alanis has such a calming presence. She sang one of her new songs . . . and by no means am I a real fan of hers . . . but seeing her live . . . she was amazing.