In Appreciation of Nicki Minaj’s “Starships”

I mentioned in my previous entry how Ava Max‘s potential chart-topper “Sweet But Psycho” bears all the hallmarks of this decade’s maximalist pop hits, found mostly between the years 2010 and 2012. While I’d like to save a full retrospective on those golden years for the end of this year, I do want to put the spotlight on some of those individual tracks. The first being Nicki Minaj‘s ebullient dance-pop monster “Starships”.

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Assorted Observations

Recently my music commentary has been incredibly repetitive, harping on the same handful of points ad nauseum. In an attempt to be less negative I have decided to focus less on music I dislike and more on music I enjoy. However I have found this to be particularly difficult this year as I don’t like anything. So I will just write a bit about some noteworthy trends.

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If I were to believe in the realm of the fantastical, I’d say that it’s entirely possible that I actually died last summer and the months since have been a journey from purgatory into hell.

That’s what it feels like, at least.

Over the course of my life there’s been a pattern: bad things pile up, good things disappear, no good things come to take their place. I ask for increasingly smaller and smaller things to no avail. “I want a great life” turned to “I want a decent life” turned to “I want one good thing to happen to me today” turned to “I want one good thing to happen to me this year” turned to “I don’t want bad things to happen to me anymore” turned to “I just want a bit of peace”.

It’s something that I’ve become accustomed to, but it’s picked up at an aggressive pace recently that has me semi-sincerely believing that the world is out to get me. Why else would all the most important people in my life suddenly become absent? It feels less like a sad coincidence and more like a malicious agenda to eliminate every single point of respite I have.

It’s as if I’m a spirit being detached from every person and left to experience residual memories on my own. Recently I’ve had to make a trip to several places I hadn’t been to for years, which only added to the notion that I’m watching my life play back on some sort of highlight reel. I’m reliving the long-buried moments that happened at these places.

Listen, The OC was a smartly written show with strong acting from the principal cast, but I get why its detractors wave it off as another teen soap. The melodrama can be grating sometimes, and there’s a fair share of tired tropes that pop up, particularly towards the end of the series. Season 4 is nearly unwatchable after a few episodes, and it’s entirely because they killed off the character of Marissa Cooper. She may have been the weak link in the ensemble cast, but she was a link nonetheless.

I’m biased though, because there’s a specific scene she’s in that I relate to more than any of Seth Cohen’s grand romantic gestures.

In Season 3 she returns to a house where a dramatic and consequential turn of events happened, after which it burned down. Once she realizes she’s in a rebuilt version of it, she starts to collapse under the weight of the memories. And that’s essentially my life. Bad memories piled on week after week, month after month, year after year, with no relief. Every time January rolls around I’ve got another 12 months worth of devastating nostalgia to carry around. And now I’m buckling under the weight. Going to places where I haven’t been for years reminds me of how little has improved in my life, and that I’m virtually in the same spot now as I was then. I get very lightheaded, and there’s a strange feeling as if an electrical current is running through me.

The “comic” at the top of the page was drawn in the midst of great turmoil in 2014. It’s now five years later and nothing has gotten better since then. And that sketch was done only after roughly a decade and a half of unbearable sadness. So I hope it’s understood exactly how much pain I’m carrying around every waking moment.

My life is a nightmarish cycle of work, eat, and sleep. Every time I try to change my routine, my life decides it’s not in the cards. I try in vain to reach out to people, to make them laugh, with no results. All I do is end up looking like some sort of manic clown, a virtual court jester who does nothing but make goofy videos. I get a chuckle or two out of a handful of people, and they move on with their lives. I’m left feeling more alone than I ever have been before.

It’s hard to understate that. At every other point in my life I had some sort of support system. Someone was there even during those tumultuous years I constantly reference in my writing. That’s a point that’s been hitting me the hardest lately. The friends who got me through those times have moved away, vanished, or dealing with their own lives.

Nobody likes being around a negative person, so I keep all these personal issues to myself in day-to-day life. I wouldn’t dare unload my problems in a public forum. Mercifully, there are still at least a few coworkers I can talk to so I don’t fully dissolve into the ether. Obviously I can’t unload my grief to them, but I can relate to them on most levels. I have a solid group of mentors, one of whom I respect in the highest regard. We were recently talking work matters and this mentor happened to finish their email with a casual remark that reverberated with the strength of a thousand church bells inside my head.

So fine. Here it is universe, here is what I want in my life:

I want a stable job that will pay me enough to live in a nice place in the city.

I want one of my creative ventures to catch the eye of someone who can turn it into a career.

I want an interesting, fun group of friends that I can see on a regular basis

I want a girl to like me romantically.

I want to go on at least one date with a girl.

I want to go on vacation to California.

I want to be happy.

Yes. After almost 18 years of unrelenting sadness, I want to be happy. I want an end to this heaviness in my heart.

And trust me, I’m working for it. I’m willing to work my hands to the bone to get all of this. Because this is all I want out of life.

So now, it’s your move universe. I want that one tiny minuscule turn of events to happen to put this all into motion. Just a little luck to get me back to the land of the living.

I want to live.

2018

I’ve been writing in a journal for over 15 years now. They’re brief entries, with little to no thoughts or feelings ascribed to them. I jot down the day’s events in bullet points and assign a number from 1 to 5 depending on how fulfilling the day was. There are the rare days I avoid rating altogether because they were especially heinous. These journals have been surprisingly useful in the past, helping me pinpoint specific dates. They’re tomes of concrete, viable information rather than simply being bound collections of nostalgia, and have become some of my most valued possessions.

There’s still space for two more years in my current journal, but I’ve decided to start a brand new one for 2019. It’s a symbolic gesture of the “new beginnings” variety, the kind that I’m usually highly averse to because of the completely arbitrary notion that life somehow changes on January 1st.

It’s just far too difficult to continue picking up this book that holds so many painful memories. A “fresh start” may or may not come in 2019, but pulling out the clean slate cliche may be good for my mental health. These past two years have been unbelievably awful in unique ways.

2017 was the year that broke me, but 2018 was the year that I burnt out.

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