The Strokes, Is This It
24 years old
I bought this album when I was a junior in High School. The garage rock revival was big back in 2002-2003. I should know, I was the music ambassador for my school’s newspaper. In my head I was. If you look back at the archives for my High School’s newspaper, I wrote a lot of music articles. But that is neither here nor there. I bought this album when I was 15 or 16. I saw The Strokes twice in my teens. Then they faded away after their second album, Room on Fire, and I just got tired of the first album and didn’t play it again until years later. My early twenties were riddled with booze, confusion and love sickness. I used to have drunk sex and felt confused while suppressing my intense feelings of love. It all came full circle a lot of the times. I was only having sex with one person. The only person I ever wanted to have sex with at the time. But I also wanted to watch movies with him. I wanted to have dinner with him. I wanted to go shopping with him. I wanted to help him pick out clothes and new glasses for him. I wanted to share my fears, dreams and desires with him. I wanted him to share his secrets with me. He did. All of that happened between us.
One night, as I was driving home after one of our sex rendezvous, the song Is This It started playing. You know how it goes. It starts out with this weird synth like recording that slows down after 4 seconds and the snare of the drums kick in. I think they’re snares? I don’t know the jargon but you know what I mean. Then Julian Casablanca’s sweet voice starts singing, “Can’t you see I’m trying. I don’t even like it. I just lied to get to your apartment. Now I’m staying here just for a while…Is this it? Is this it? Is this…it?” At the same time the guitars synchronize into a warm harmony like the rose blush on my cheeks on a good day. Then the second verse comes in and the bass does as well. The bass sounds as if someone is skipping in slow motion. When all the elements are combined, bass, drum, guitars and voice, it’s a sweet melody that feels nostalgic and defeated. It feels bloated with that sickness that unrequited love brings. Naturally, that night I began to cry on my way home. I didn’t want to leave his bedside but I knew the drill. It was a routine. Put the sheets back on the bed. Put my clothes back on. Never a kiss goodnight, just a tight hug for a job well done and a coy smile for the things we had done. In the morning, it never happened until the next night he felt lonely.
Joy Division, Isolation
20 years old
My grandmother died when I was twenty years old. To this day she is the only loved one that has passed away. The afternoon before she passed, I was working. My cousin called me at work to inform me that I should leave work because my grandmother was not going to make it another night. I thought I was okay upon hearing that. She had slipped into a coma a couple days before and we knew she was not coming out of it. I went into the restroom and my knees started to bend involuntarily. It was that feeling you get right before you pass out but I wasn’t passing out. My lower body was just caving in. I felt this immense weakness throughout my body and I sat on the dirty restroom floor and I cried. My grandmother died on a Saturday around 12 or 1am. In fact, I think this month was the anniversary of her death. The anniversary of her funeral is March 2nd or 3rd. I am sorry I can’t remember the dates. If you knew my grandmother, you would know she probably would not have given a shit about the exact date of her death.
It was later on that March in 2007 that I took a trip to Mexico with my best friend Hector. Hector and I are like brother and sister now. In 2007 we were just friends not quite adopted blood yet. In retrospect, it was half a disastrous trip and half amazing. Back in 2007, my self-esteem was at an all time low. I was still dealing with the death of my grandmother. I neglected school and withdrew from all my classes. I never told that to anyone though. I did not know what I was doing or where I was going. I thought the trip to Guadalajara and Guanajuato would be a good escape. Instead I just dwelled in my self-loathing. It did not help that the morning of our flight I started my period and wanted to die. While in San Miguel De Allende, a small bohemian like but mainly American populated city in Guanajuato, I hated Hector. God, I hated him. I wanted to cry over how much I hated him. He didn’t know how I felt. He’s never been ugly or fat. In Guadalajara we stayed with his family and they were all thin and light skin. His cousin’s friends were Mexican hipsters and he introduced me to them. Me, this chubby brown 19th century corn mestizo-looking girl to a bunch of Diego Luna (well not as good looking) Mexican hipsters. Yes, I was being over dramatic but in San Miguel, in our hostel room, while Hector went to drop off postcards at the post office, that is what I was feeling. I did not want him to come back. I just wanted to be alone. I wanted to lie in that bed all day and cry.
…Isolation, Isolation, Isolation…
Ian Curtis’ deep voice resonated in the deep cracks of my brain, that monotone voice that conveyed all the sadness and loathing that was bubbling deep inside me. I know Joy Division is something you discover when you are a teenager, and I did. However, when you are a teenager every song represents exactly how you feel. That is why Limp Bizkit was so popular. As a teenager, I felt like breaking shit up but thankfully I went with the route towards classic emo, also known as, post-punk. Instead of breaking shit, my soul just tore apart in an Ian Curtis kind of way, sort of.
Hector didn’t (and still does not) know how to deal with my petty emotions. At the time, they were real and legitimate. Now at 27, I am confident and strong…most days. Though, Hector, my best friend, is the type of guy who will tell me during my PMS ridden days that there is a bright side to gaining weight. I like clothes, right? Well, at least it’s an excuse to buy more clothes. He means well and I love him but he’ll never live that comment down.
But like I said, the trip was not all disastrous. Hector and I wound up drinking Palomas (tequila and grapefruit soda) at a corner café bar. We watched the sunset while a Mariachi group played. He recorded it for his ex-girlfriend. I apologized for being a downer. We exchanged drunken memories of how our weak childhoods made us feel. We walked back, somewhat drunk, to our hostel on the cobble stone sidewalks. Sidewalks that I like to imagine where there since the 19th century. Cobble stone sidewalks where corn mestizo brown girls stepped on every day in the days leading up the to Revolution.