5 Vignettes about mental health

1) When I was in 7th grade I met a girl at church. Her older sisters were interested in my older brothers so we followed suit and became 7th grade baes. She would call me on the phone and we’d sit in silence while she watched tv until I awkwardly told her that I had to go. One day she told me that she was suicidal. I told my dad, and he told me that some people just want attention. Later, the school counselor told my class that her door was always open, so I went and talked to her about my girlfriend. I was pretty sure that I just wanted to not be in class.

2) When I was in college I had a friend who told me that she’s always assumed that she will eventually kill herself. She said, “not anytime soon. Not until after my parents are dead.”

3) In February 2018 Andrew and I drove to Chicago to watch Frightened Rabbit play at Thalia hall. It was excellent bonding time, and I have never been funnier on social media. During the show a woman who had balcony seats screamed, “I love you!” and had a little back and forth banter with frontman Scott Hutchinson. He said that he couldn’t even see her. Her friends lit her up with a cell phone flashlight. He laughed about how awkward it was. He said, “you think you want this, but you don’t. I would ruin you. I would ruin us.” I’m embellishing a little because I don’t remember exactly. Three months later he killed himself.

4) I was in the lobby of Rocky Mountain Neuropsychological Consultants. There was a woman there who was roughly my age. She was reading out loud to herself. When her doctor came out to greet her she started telling her how she was leaking a lot of brain fluid and she knew that that was gross but she just wanted to bring it up because she wanted her to know that like she’s in this 100% and whatever she needs to do she’s gonna do. Her doctor assured her that they’d discuss everything in her office, and that she’d be back out to grab her in just a minute. When her doctor left, the woman said something like, “it is gross, but it’s not your fault. You’re doing the best you can. It’s not your fault it’s gross.”

5) Once, an old girlfriend got a phone call right before sex. It was her grandfather and he was dying. We had sex anyway and then afterwards she was very quiet. I stared up at the ceiling until I could feel that I should check on her. She was cutting her hips by running the jagged edge of a key over her pelvis bones. They were thin cuts, like cat scratches. The blood was orange like the key. After the breakup, at the Absinthe House, a mutual friend said to me, “How does it feel that I know everything you two did?”

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Mental health problems are fucking awful, and none of those stories are really about me, which feels a little bit fucked up. One of my favorite things to say recently is, “did you know that suicide is like the only cause of death that’s becoming more common, not less common?” May is mental health awareness month, and I wanted to make something for May because I am aware of mental health. I don’t think I can say anything about mental health that has not already been posted on buzzfeed probably, so I ended up with what’s above. And also this paragraph. And also the next paragraph.


There’s an episode of the show The Boondocks where Huey asks his grandad, “what do you do when you can’t do nothing, and there’s nothing you can do?” and his grandad pauses and says, “you do what you can.” I think this is essentially how I feel about mental health (also, everything). I hope you do what you can.

Sam Columna
Aurora

I wrote this song earlier this year. I wasn’t sure what to record for the Tiny Desk Contest, so I did a couple of takes of this before submitting Louis.

Brittany and I were in Arizona in December 2012, 5 months after the Aurora theater shooting. We took a cab (it was 2012) to the zoo and I told the driver that we were from Aurora. We confirmed that, yes, it was the same Aurora, and he said something like “so, how was that?”

Having to think twice about telling someone where you’re from is undoubtedly one of the least important consequences of an act of violence. But it’s still a bummer.

I made this song public after the shooting at the STEM school in Highlands Ranch, Colorado.

Sam Columna
Quarter Cookie

At the start of this year I committed to releasing 2 things per month for the entire year. At the end of last year I had some idea that I’d be trying to do this this year, so Bianca and I sat around at a bar in Cherry Creek and wrote on napkins until we had created a release calendar.

That is probably not actually a napkin. Look how memory lies.

That is probably not actually a napkin. Look how memory lies.

It’s a p deece release calendar. Things went pretty solid in January, I released the announcement video and Looks Like a Heart #1, and even a bonus video from The Tank. Feb was also okay, I did the video about how much I love Dear me, and I released a video of us performing Rivers and Roads at the Tank. Dear me, tanks you, originally slated to be the second release in February, was pushed to March. None of the things originally planned for March were created.

I was panicking about this happening at least as early as February, because in addition to this monthly things there are the 4 EPs, and in February I was looking at what I had of Looks Like a Heart #2 and going “OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD.” I thought that maybe I’d just release individual songs from LLAH #2 in March, and that that would count. I’m currently listening to the LLAH #2 Masters and planning to release those in early May, to give myself a full month of pre-release bullshit. I am thinking about LLAH #3 and going “OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD” because there is nothing (or very close to nothing) currently tracked for that.

Why write this? Well, because I need to release 2 things in April. But also because 3 months of the year is 25% of the year, and a 25% look back feels like a decent idea right now. One question I currently have is, “how can the year be 25% over, and yet I have finished tracking 50% of the EPs that I need to have done this year? Something about that seems like I did math wrong.

“Why write this” is a good question though. I’ve been wondering recently about audience — or specifically at least about the audience of my releases, the audience of my shows. The audience of this blog post. When I’m done with this I’ll half skim it one time and then I’ll make it public even though there will inevitably still be typos in it. Sometime when it is daylight out I will share this on my Sam Paul facebook page and then I’ll probably re-share it on my personal page, and that will mostly be the life of this blog.

I swear to God I’m not trying to complain, I think I’m just thinking out loud. Facebook hardly cares about my EPs, they definitely don’t care about my blogs in any meaningful way, and that’s really okay and it isn’t. The ideal would be to make enough money from my own songs that I don’t have to do other things. I know that just sharing the stuff on facebook and Instagram isn’t gonna make that happen, and that is some good (v fun, so insightful) info.

New thought: when I write songs I try my hardest not to think about the audience at all. I try to write them so that they feel good and true to me. It was the same way when I did poems, and other such creative type things. I think that that’s part of why I’ve written some good stuff. But when I’m making something like this I can’t not think (or at least I haven’t found out how to not think) about the audience. Because this is obviously for an audience. It’s going on my Sam Paul website. If it were not for an audience it would go on my top secret google doc that only me and sometimes Brittany or my therapist get to read.

I had to tackle the question, ‘why write songs’ earlier in my life because, although there’s a lot of overlap between this blog and songs, there is enough distinct about songs that I can answer that question, “write songs because it makes you feel good.” Writing this does make me feel good in a way. But probably not in enough of a way that I need to write it here instead of on my top secret google doc. Right? No? hm.

I feel like I’m making really good stuff right now. I am really excited for LLAH #2. I think that the lyric videos that I made for Seeing Someone, and the two vlogs that I made in January and February are some of the better videos I’ve made in a long while. I hope that one thing that I’ll learn in the near future is how to market the stuff that I make on the internet. I feel like there must be a way. Like. There must be, right? The internet is huge, and I’ve hardly tried.

I really believe in that David Bazan tweet up there. It’s incredible to me how hard of a time I’ve had releasing 2 things a month for only 3 months. It doesn’t seem like it should be this hard, and the thing that I keep trying to tell myself is to just keep trying. Keep getting better. It’s hard and makes me feel weird to try things and fail so publicly, but weirdly I think that that’s part of the process for creative stuff. I guess you can’t really know how things are gonna go just in a vacuum or bedroom.

I’ll try to find a way to not care about the audience in everything I do? At least right now. At least when I’m not literally on a stage. Maybe not even then in some ways.

Sam Columna
This is a blog about the What do you think? Lyric video

Since launching Sam Paul earlier this year at some point, the joke I have made the most is something like “I’m not sure if it sounds shitty on purpose, or if it just sounds shitty.” It’s that classic self-depricating wit that people have come to expect when they go to Sam Paul to get their Sam Paul going.

What do you think? is the best example of “I’m not sure if it sounds shitty on purpose or if it just sounds shitty.” The song is not in time. It is a two part form that repeats 3 times. The third time through the form, if you listen carefully, you can hear me saying “shooka shooka shooka shooka” into a microphone.

Bianca said something to me about the mellotron choir like, “I mean maybe don’t just make it feel like you’re there pressing down a button.”

That’s what I wanted though. And ultimately, whether it sounds shitty on purpose or just sounds shitty, I am pretty happy about this EP.

I am also waiting for my 4 lyric videos to win some kind of short film award. I think this one really ties it all together. Someone notify the Oscar people for me.

Sam Columna
This is a blog about the Words Lyric Video

This was the hardest of the lyric videos to make.

It required a lot of prep work:

- Searching through messages for key words

- Screen capping the words

It required a lot of video editing, like

- Deciding how to highlight the words?

- Actually highlighting the words?

I don’t know, it doesn’t seem like so much right now when I’m trying to write about it, but I know that this video was several times more difficult to make than the others.

Come to thing of it, this song was the hardest one to record, too. That end part with the overlapping male and female vocals took was hard to figure out. I re-recorded it so many times that I thought Ben was going to hate me and stop mixing my shit. I eventually realized that the different vocal parts had to be in different registers- when I sang both parts it was just too muddy. I got Vanessa Spear to record the vox from Nashville, she is very kind.

I think a lot about words. One time I wrote a short story wherein after I was dead my family decided to taxidermy my body. They stuffed it with scraps of all the shit I had ever written. They put me in a house, which was also made of all of the things that I’d written. They lit it on fire.

I doubt that this is actually what will happen to my body. This is not a living will.

Sam Columna