Tag Archives: Nine Inch Nails

[sic] week one: synchronicity (with playlist!)

“Synchronicity weaves like a web when you were meant to be a meal”–Incubus, Smile Lines

I have always loved that part from the song Smile Lines. The surprise of the unexpected, the elation of pieces coming together and the universe aligning with your dreams and desires.

On the other hand, synchronicity can reinforce your deepest fear, as it did when Ashley drew my tarot card for the year: 8 of Swords. Its meaning? Trapped and powerless. I have been grappling with these feelings as the demands of the world have left me exhausted, filling me with a sense of hopelessness. I ache to write more and tell my stories. My characters are suffering. My dreams are suffering. I am suffering. This is not to say there isn’t any good in my life. Lover Man is a constant source of love and support, and my family and friends are wonderful. I still feel isolated and panicked, and no one, no matter how wonderful they are, can reach inside me and change how I’m feeling. No one can magically alter the circumstances that are making me feel trapped and powerless. They can only try to help me through this hopefully brief period of pain.

I had begun work on my vision board for the year 2014 before I was dealt the card that confirmed my sad state, but after the card, it didn’t just seem like a fun thing to do. It was necessary to  put my positive intentions  out there. Ashley, being a good friend who probably didn’t want me to have a nervous breakdown–welcome, panic attacks!–did a more complete reading for me. This is how the cards rolled out:

The course of action.

The course of action.

Wheel of Fortune: destiny, fate, change of course.

The Fool: Innocence, Naivete

Mother of Swords: Experienced, All-Seeing.

The answer is clear: I can get out. I will stumble about. I won’t know all the answers. I may fall and fail, and I will endure growing pains, but I will be okay. Somehow, I will be okay.

The suite of cards is now my desktop background. Lover Man got me some adhesive strips to hang up my vision board since the blue painter’s tape I used at first was not having it.

Naturally, music has been getting me through some of my hardest days. New songs from old favorites like Nine Inch Nails and Pearl Jam are speaking to me, lifting me up, alternately whispering and screaming at me to keep going, move forward, break free, be authentic, create! Of course, I have also been seeking out songs that provide comfort and allow me to reflect on my issues. Death Cab for Cutie playing at the local cafe as I waited for my cup of coffee enticed me to sit and enjoy five minutes of writing time while warming myself up by their gorgeous fireplace. Songs have kept me warm and sane while trooping through biting cold and snow in the mornings to get to work. (Yes, that would be me chair dancing on the bus. Accept it and move on.)

I was inspired to reach my goals in art and life before 2013’s end, but I am clinging to motivation now more than ever. Every little spark in my cupped hands.

For our first Kindred playlist of the new year, I decided to create a vision board and merge my art and music inspiration together. Enjoy the playlist, and let’s all take control of our lives in 2014.


Synchronicity: Listen here! Synchronicity


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[sic] playlist: the water sustains me.


I just want to run and dive in.

This picture is from the last time I was at the ocean. It was at a wedding; the air was crisp and perfect. The waves gently lapped against the shore, and I wanted to dive in so badly. I was wearing a navy cotton eyelet dress and shiny patent flats, which I took off to dig my toes into the moist sand. I wonder when I’ll ever be able to go to the ocean again.

I wasn’t going to write about this or bitch about it any more than I have, but to hell with it. I miss the ocean. I feel the swell in my belly and my breast, but I cannot go to the ocean right now. I have solar dermatitis, which is a skin rash that flares up in the sun, and boy, the sun has been one hell of a showy bitch this summer. I have to be outdoors for work, and that is bad enough. The itch is immediate and strong. My skin is deeply tanned but blotchy and bumpy, little white spots peeking through the caramel in a mocking sort of way. Mind you, I am religious about sunscreen, so it’s not for my lack of sun safety. No, the heat and brightness of that big star has overpowered me.

One week, we had continuous clouds and rain every day, and I was actually joyous at times. My skin had stopped crawling for a few days. But now….

I have, of course, made a playlist of all the songs that bring me some sense of cool and calm, that speak to my longing for water. I wish the beach was close enough that I could at least visit after sundown, just go and inhale the clean saline scent, feel it on my skin. I feel so lost without it. Perhaps my love for autumn has manifested itself as a burning hatred for these hot and humid times.

Enjoy while soaking up the sun or, if you’re like me, looking outside your window and wishing your body wasn’t rejecting summer.

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[sic] meditation on ancient: a playlist and a poem.


Listen and be transported. Ancient


dig up the calcified relics
dust them off and
don’t tell anyone the truth
build them up
sort and stack
rearrange until they appear attractive
the Jurassic era, ferocious
magnificent, wild beasts
consumed by fire
or ice
the verdict is still out
the jaws hold only echoes
nothing concrete

they live in museums now
some shockingly nude
skeletons in a great hall
overlooking Central Park
guarding three dimensional history lessons
others covered in skins of
their brethren
next to intricately carved replicas of
native people
who still exist
as if extinction is imminent

I want to press you into
carve your memory in earth
all mine
the faeries will stand watch they have been around longer than any of us
zipping about
planting the first seedlings
from ambrosia
sipping sap

I think a faery was the first
plant syrup was far too sweet
they required
bitter, bitter fruit
and made humans
in their image, then
blurred us all, softened
edges, now we are not so
we are all just short of perfection
injected faery dust into our veins
waited for the magic to bewitch
these organs crafted from
slippery fish skins
trout pout hearts
Shakespeare was a mouthpiece
for the fae
the tragedies in particular
those absinthe loving little fuckers crave
(ovulation was just their sick sense of humor at work)

there is a show at the planetarium

simulation of becoming

big bangs

white hot stars sizzle

ancient fae trapped in rocks

this is what i think

there is magic in us now

my guts
you keep them in the wooden bowl
by your bed
next to your keys
I retrieved most of them last time I saw you
but I left a blob about the size of a quarter
it’s probably a hard little smear
you tried to scrape off with your thumbnail
but stubbornly it

i’m preserving bittersweet memories
like insects trapped in
they will outlive all of us
we will be dust
and they will still have the capacity to sting.

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an open letter to trent reznor.

Dear Trent Reznor,
Within seconds of seeing you in person, I thought I was going to die. You see, I was lucky enough to snag a ticket to see Nine Inch Nails for the very first time during the With Teeth Club Tour at Hammerstein Ballroom, and you decided to open with “Pinion” and “Wish” from the Broken EP.

The frenetic echoes of the intro were like the ghost of heartbeats. I was propelled into movement, despite my rapidly fraying nerves and claustrophobia. A wayward elbow connected with my core, and down I sank. Drowning in sweat and rage.
My hand darted out to grab my friend, A, who had been ripped from me by the force of flailing bodies, and I used him to pull myself up. A breath, and then, a wail.
In that moment, I was reborn.
My friend and I were separated again right after that, but I didn’t feel alone. How could I when an entire crowd raises their fists in unison and screams “FIST FUCK” along with you, this perfect moment of synchronicity incorporated into their dance? Your music, with its mechanical animal snarls and howls playing just under your very human growls and sighs, made its way into the very core of my being that night. I had always loved dancing and screaming during shows, singing along and losing myself, but there was something different about this night. All of the pain from the past twenty-four years of my life erupted into this white-hot mass of matter, all potential energy suddenly kinetic. In your music, my agony had found its voice.

I had been a fan of Nine Inch Nails since I was thirteen, when The Downward Spiral came out and “Closer” was in heavy rotation on 92.3 K-Rock in New York. It came along just as I was really starting to question the connection between sex, desire and sin. Some of my friends and I became kind of obsessed with the videos for “Closer”and “The Perfect Drug,” marveling at the imagery and, obviously, your dark good looks. We listened to the singles and talked about how awesome it would be to see a show someday.
But this. This was an awakening. Being surrounded so completely by the music, I finally felt like all of the shit that had been torturing me for years wasn’t this big, ugly secret I had to store inside my bones. Your music was a permission of sorts. I had been afraid to say so many things since I was a kid, so to be in the presence of such fearlessness was the ultimate empowerment. I had experienced the worst of humankind at a very early age, the trauma of which corroded me slowly until the collective pains of my adult life poured straight through me without a filter, and I didn’t know how to categorize or eliminate the confusion and hurt, to mop up the spill of my dead father’s blood and the spiteful oily manipulations of people from my past. “Terrible Lie” gave me the right to vent my anger at the systematic oppression I had been forced to endure for years. “Something I Can Never Have” helped me to face the crushing rejection of a tumultuous relationship that will forever haunt me but no longer controls me. “Burn” let me fucking wail and writhe and give a huge fuck-you to people who had held me down for so long.

“Hurt” was the prayer in which an exhausted, humbled audience shed tears and raised weary, raspy voices up to heaven, only to be reawakened yet again in the scathing trio of  “Getting Smaller,” “Starfuckers, Inc.” and “Head Like A Hole.” It was a rallying cry to go forth and feel. Maybe I’m biased because it was my first show, but I feel like one lucky fuck to have witnessed such a fucking perfect set.

A and I found each other after the show. He had lost his phone, and I was a bruised mess. We were elated. This is how kinships are formed.
Your music continues to challenge and inspire me. That show made me realize that all this shit inside of me had a purpose. Just as you channeled your struggles so brilliantly into art, I put my pain to good use now. Your work with Saul Williams, my favorite poet, showed me just how seemingly different styles of art can come together beautifully and create something wholly unique and powerful. In my mind, there is a distinct difference between consciousness before and after that Nine Inch Nails show.

I’m writing to you this week because the theme for this amazing artist collective is “Wild,” and nothing made me feel more wild yet more centered, more animal yet more human, than that show. The music of Nine Inch Nails has helped me to acknowledge and honor all sides of myself, to embrace myself in full, to create beauty out of the sharpest, ugliest fragments of my life.
I have been to other Nine Inch Nails concerts since then, and each one is a revelation. I had the honor of seeing Nine Inch Nails perform “Eraser”, “Right Where it Belongs” and “Beside You In Time” back-to-fucking-back at Madison Square Garden.

I danced under the stars to your set at the Virgin Mobile Festival in Baltimore, bathed in red light as if my very blood had been spilled and electrified.

I am a fan of How To Destroy Angels and your soundtrack work with Atticus Ross and eagerly await any new music you have to offer in any forms, but the news of new NIN music was so exciting; it feels like home. I think Nine Inch Nails will always be a force in this world, whether or not new music emerges…but man, I am fucking pumped to see what you up with next. Your art is vital to this world.
On that night in 2005, Trent, you helped me to become. Thank you.

Eternal gratitude,
[sic] (aka jessa marie mendez)

(Here is the full set list from Hammerstein Ballroom, minus the most excellent “Home”, which I could not add to my Spotify playlist. It’s the bonus track to the UK edition of With Teeth and one of my favorite NIN songs. NIN @ Hammerstein 51505)


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