Back to the mysterious post a few days ago. I didn't really want to write any details about what I was thinking and what I was planning to do until it was over with. But if you know what the song is about, I can understand being worried. One of my friends did know and sent me a concerned email: "You doing OK?". I explained the post to him, and I'm going to try to explain to you.
Bear with me. I promise this ends well.
"Can't Hardly Wait" (at least this early version) is about suicide. It's written from the perspective of a guy about to throw himself off a water tower. For me it perfectly captured my breathless anticipation of freedom from pain and isolation through a potentially self-destructive leap. Even the title, as a double negative, underscores the sense of ambivalence for the narrator. I was planning to come out of the P closet at work.
As I tried to convey in the closing lines of this post, leading up to the fruition of my long-planned revelation, I held a fear that I was going to foolishly pull on the thread that would unravel my career. I don't mean to be dramatic, but in my more fearful moments it felt a little bit like being driven to career "suicide". And yet I was eager and ready to go through with it.
On another level, the song resonated with me in that I felt (and indeed it feels more so now) as though I was going to kill the old fearful and secretive me to be reborn in a new peace with my circumstances. Indeed, what happened was something close to that.
In the past two days I talked to my chair, informed institutional leadership, emailed my close colleagues, and broke the news to my lab. Everybody expressed complete surprise and the outpouring of positive support was really gratifying. I have really special colleagues at Top Secret Research University, and they are one of the many reasons I am glad to be here.
After more than 25 years of fandom, Paul Westerberg is still speaking to me with his lyrics. You can probably tell that music is really important to me. For my whole life, it has carried me through my darkest weakest times. Thank you Mac McCaughan. Thank you Elvis Costello. And thank you Paul Westerberg.
Music is my savior
I was maimed by rock and roll
I was tamed by rock and roll
I got my name from rock and roll