For those that felt alone on December 25th, no matter how many plates were at the table.

For many of us, 2016 was more than just a bad year. Looking back at what transpired, it’s hard to be too upset about my own problems, especially considering those facing the world at large; however Music & Misery need not become a political post just yet. Instead, I wish to look back on a personal year full of bad luck, bad decisions, and bad timing. Naturally, Car Seat Headrest’s 2016 release Teens Of Denial was the obvious soundtrack choice to set to a downright depressing year.

Side A: Destroyed By Hippie Powers

“I’m so sick of (Fill In The Blank)
Accomplish more, accomplish nothing
If I were split in two I would just take my fists
So I could beat up the rest of me”

Just as Car Seat Headrest open Teens Of Denial, so too did I begin 2016 in a frustrated and depressed state. Working an equally lucrative and ludicrous job, desperate for purpose, I allowed my ambivalence to lead me astray. The further I wandered, the more I understood I had known myself all along. Away from home, the more I knew I had made one grand mistake.

“You have no right to be depressed
You haven’t tried hard enough to like it
Haven’t seen enough of this world yet”

What can I say, I was desperate. While I was critical of the myth that vacations give meaning to life (If it’s so great why don’t you live like that all the time?) in my early 20s, I allowed the allure of a vacation from Vancouver-based depression to drive me to book a trip in 2016. Despite lingering debt, depression, and an abundant lack of desire, I took the plunge, taking advantage of a family subsidy to go “see the world” as if I didn’t have access to European culture via books, television, or the internet.

Side B: Drugs With Friends

What followed was a three week, over budget comedy of errors complete with moments of depression, disappointment, and utter dismay. It’s hard to speak in a foreign language, but it’s harder to travel all the way across the world only to realize you’ve wasted your money pursuing someone else’s dream. More than half the time, I wanted to go home.

As much as I had hoped that my friends and family were right (“You haven’t seen enough of this world yet! What if you like Europe?), a trans-continental flight is not an effective way to shake depression. It turns out chemicals work the same in every country, and despite my best efforts, one cannot simply manifest happiness via hotels and foreign food. There’s always a Visa card to come back to, and the bill will last a lot longer than the expensive European beer. Filled with loathing and religious fervour from one-too-many churches, I returned home to tend to my debt by going back to work for a maniac in the marijuana industry; a situation that would bring itself to an end soon after.

Side C: Not What I Needed

Back in Vancouver, the first ray of summer sunshine made it clear I was missing what I had known all along: home. I’m not sure what it would have felt like to enter into the summer without the economic anxiety that has dogged me since school, but I imagine it might have felt a little less…well…miserable.

Regardless, I threw myself into my job and my vices upon my return, setting a course for the shore long before a tragic succession of frustrating interactions with friends and family would leave me capsized on the reef, exposed for all to see.

Side D: The Ballad of the Costa Concordia

“It was an expensive mistake
You can’t say you’re sorry and it’s over”

Boomers often quip to members of younger generations that they must “learn how to learn” and later “learn what they don’t like” before finding purpose, however those delivering the message often fail to recognize the recipient may agree by learning to dislike that way of thinking (or the person delivering it), creating a generational divide which is as ironic as it is tragic.

In a politically-aware family which prides itself in intense debate and discussion, this disconnect has a way of revealing itself over turkey, the dish of choice during family dinners throughout the winter months. As much as I am aware of this phenomenon, I am no stranger to its curse. In fact, I’m liable to run ashore more than most. This was especially the case in the winter of 2016, which produced two regrettable moments in which I bottomed out, shouting at family, leaving me to wonder: could it have been any other way? Was the water filling up for years, or did I wreck it all in a day?

My 2016 was full of expensive mistakes, but they were all my own. All I can do is learn from them, and move on equipped with new information. Failing to do so is what got me into this mess in the first place. But how was I supposed to know? I was given a body that is falling apart, and I was given a mind that can’t control itself, and what about a vacation to feel good?

For now I’m just happy to be able to bail water, one post at a time.