ASSHOLE: How to listen to Bruce Springsteen on New Years Eve

I’m really into Bruce Springsteen this morning.

I have no idea why. But, I’m going to find the reason.

Symbolically, Bruce is patriotic, heart-driven, masculine, American….made for denim? I don’t know, I don’t know anything about him, and I truly don’t know why any of those qualities are useful to me right now but his voice popped into my head this morning “Everything dies and baby that’s a fact, maybe everything that dies will one day soon come back”, just him, singing that in my head, since the moment I woke up.

It will not go away.   Haunting. Especially with the weather.

Picture the start of a Hitchcock film, one of the early ones, and dub in the Springsteen song ‘Atlantic City’.

Try not to kill yourself.

That’s my head right now.
I’ll figure out why.

There’s always a Why.


It must have come from a dream.

Dreams are freakish. They pulse, petrol-like-poisonous thoughts, the kind we don’t want to think about, can’t think about, into the forefront of our consciousness. Just for the night. We wake, shaken. If we can remember the dream, even more shaken. Rest comes when the dreams are smooth. Pain comes when the dreams are turbulent.

The entire body is wrapped up in our dreams. Asleep, the mind is uncontrolled and it can make the body do incredible things. You could wake up sweating or hungry or full or aching. You could wake up in complete disbelief that you are who you are. You could wake up with Bruce Springsteen in your head.

And you won’t know why.


This morning I didn’t do anything.

I lay in bed, thinking about Bruce, one hand on my dog’s bum, lying on my side, eyes wide open, just lying there. I really had to pee. It took me about twenty minutes to actually go to the washroom. I went back to bed. If it wasn’t for having to walk my dog, I might still be in bed.

This isn’t normal for me. Usually, I’m very active in the morning.

I have a whole regiment of things I do to make Morning the time when I come into myself and initiate my creative impulses, arriving at my Ready-To-Write place. It doesn’t always happen to completion but ordinarily there is some portion of the regiment that I can accomplish before sitting down to work. Today I did nothing. I got out of bed and I walked my dog. It was very cold. I hurried home.

I sat for a second but all I could hear was Bruce, singing about death.

Everything dies and baby that’s a fact/maybe everything that dies will one day soon come back/Put your makeup on, fix your hair real pretty/And meet me tonight in Atlantic City


I sat, watching my dog stand in the sunlight, squinting at the open window, listening to Bruce sing and trying to remember why I’m still trying not to smoke cigarettes.

You won’t believe me but I suddenly understood everything.

Not just Bruce. Not just this one song. Not just my nicotine addiction or my dog in the sunlight. Everything.


It is New Years. I have an issue with New Years: I would rather be alone. It’s my issue, that I like to be alone, it is my problem and it is up to me to orchestrate a “being alone” plan because otherwise I get sucked into New Years agendas that aren’t mine. Everyone wants to be in a crowd on New Years. Everyone wants to have everyone they know over for this on moment where the calendar starts anew, where time reinvents itself, returning to a date we have visited so many times before, a moment, a second, we experience every fucking year and yet every year we all agree, and I agree too, that relief comes at the stroke of midnight.

So: Let’s kiss.

So: Let’s sing.

So: Let’s make sure we’re loaded.

So: Let’s get really really loud and happy in the solid agreement that…what?

That we made it through?

That we get to start again?

That time exists?

What exactly are we celebrating?

It bothers me every year: What are we celebrating?

I have never ever been to a New Years event where the people at the event sit around and mutually share what they have accomplished, what they are proud of, what they hated in a year and maybe, reading this, you either love or hate the idea of a “party” where people do that but I mention the opportunity for formatted reflection because I find myself overwhelmed in thought every year on this day and, unless I sit alone and think about it, I feel very sick.

I do not feel like I can be with other people on New Years because how will I accomplish a true end to my year? A true reflection on what I’ve done and what I failed to do, what I want to do, what I will never do again—This holiday is about dreams.

Here we are: A new year and is it what we dreamed it would be? What do we dream will happen?

If thoughts are grateful and hopeful, the day is sublime. If thoughts are turbulent, of course there is pain.

A New Year’s party is just a room full of people who are silently dreaming. Drunk because their dreams seem so far away, starry eyed because they aren’t allowed to cry at a party, and maybe a little broke because they spent a ton of money to celebrate an evening that they haven’t given themselves time to understand.
That’s how I see it. It makes me really sad. Every year.

Parties make me so sad.

They make me feel like people are only really happy when they are distracting themselves from being authentic. I walk through the party and I have shallow interactions, sometimes with people I know well, everything is loud, everything is dark, I can’t find my own footing and I am just wasting time because I can’t feel anything. Overwhelmed by the sensory impression of other people in the room, I can never really figure out what a party is for other than to deny ourselves time alone. With noise and distraction, thought is obscured and it occurs to me that most people would rather not listen to their own thoughts. Thoughts bring emotions, emotions take time and healing, time and healing must be done alone and most people have learned that being alone makes you an asshole.

I realize now, it seems I only attend parties because I apparently need the reminder that I am, objectively, an asshole. At least when held up against social norms, I’m such an asshole: I have trouble being around other people, even people I love, in environments where I can’t think because I like hearing myself think because I think I’m smart.

I believe in time alone.

I believe in silence.

If not for silence, how would I ever understand how to exist within noise?

If not for silence, how would I ever be able to reflect on Bruce Springsteen? Sitting on the step to my kitchen, replaying this little chorus: Put your make up on, fix your hair up pretty/And meet me tonight in Atlantic City.

Yes, Bruce, I get it: We might as well feel good.

I’ve lived my whole life having dark opinions of What’s Fun. I have a hard time “getting it”.

People relaxing and having fun? That’s such a waste of time.

And then Bruce taps me on the shoulder: “Except that: everything dies…

Thank you, Bruce, yes, everything dies.

(He nods with reassurance and plays guitar in the background of the following paragraph while my dog rolls his eyes, lying on the ground, exposing his tummy, waiting for love)

All feelings, all memories, all people, everything dies. You might as well accept an invitation to a loud, disgusting place with meaningless aesthetic demands on your personal existence because even meaning dies.

Everything dies.

That’s what Bruce is telling me.

(He nods again. The guitar stops)

How did he get in my head?

I must have dreamed him.

Solid dream guide, surreal-buddy of the moment: Bruce Springsteen, telling me how to enjoy myself.


I fell asleep angry.

I cut my finger, accidentally, on a knife after a night of trying to cure Nausea with some very strange culinary options, half-asleep watching ‘The Fosters’ (which, if you haven’t watched, I need to just explain: Is a show about a lesbian couple who adopts a bunch of foster children and their last name is “Foster”…which, as a writer, I have trouble understanding the benefit of that pun but, ok), staring at the piles of things I wanted to do today, half-crying at everything because I know I have been avoiding sitting with myself.

At 9 pm and went to sleep.

Bruce woke me up.

The lullaby of despair in my head transformed into a Bruce Springsteen song over night and I am left wondering: Am I doing Life wrong?

I’m sorry, Bruce, I can’t do my hair or makeup tonight. I can’t. I don’t want to.

I’ve had an emotional week, I feel disgusting and I cannot give into distraction again because I fear that my disgust will amplify.

The reason I don’t want to smoke cigarettes is because, when I succeed at avoiding it, I feel less disgusting. When I feel less disgusting I have confidence enough to bring beauty into the world. I feel loved enough to give love and things start working.

When I spend nights in Atlantic City, as Bruce might suggest I do, a metaphor that loosely translates into me smoking and drinking while yelling my thoughts to someone I’m sure is my friend in a bar or space where I feel overwhelmed by pollution, I wake up and I can’t work and I don’t work for days.

Bruce never talks about the morning after. He never sings about the next day.

And, frankly the reality that the entire song is meant to woo a woman into distracting herself by partaking in one superficial night with him is really mean and selfish and stupid.

So, then why is that voice in my head?

Do I want a man to invite me out, so badly, that I wake up with the ultimate soundtrack to that invitation in my head?

Further, if a man were to message me right now and invite me out despite my already denying invitations from close friends and family, would I go?

I don’t want to be distracted by a party or a crowd or a New Years Event.

But, am I willing to be distracted by a man who thought of me?

I don’t want to answer that.


Ok, now I really understand everything.


(Bruce laughs, sits on a tree stump and strums an annoying sequence of chords while singing a song made of “da da da” type noises, meaning nothing for the sake of nothing.)



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