Tag Archives: concerts

I Am Miserable In This Photo

I want to apologize.

Last weekend I went to a Phish show and posted this photo on Facebook, for all of you to see:


In it, I am fucking miserable.

Surprised? I’ll bet. Nothing says “My life is so happy and fun, guys!” like an open-mouthed, wahoo yell-smile, indoor sunglasses, bright lights, and background spirit fingers.

(For the record, Eric is exactly as happy as he looks. If he had a tail, it’d be wagging. Which is why he is the absolute necessary img_7492 to my img_1179-5.)

The second after that photo was snapped, my face fell back into its previous anxious contortion. That entire afternoon and night, I just couldn’t calm down. I didn’t feel present. Everyone around me was excited, and I couldn’t get on board, not matter how hard I tried. I felt disassociated, stuck in my bell jar, uncomfortable in my body. I was trying to move to the music but just….couldn’t. Everything about me felt awkward, disconnected, and out of place. And so, the self-defeating but all-too-predicatable marathon of thoughts began swirling through my brain, a loop so familiar that I carry a VIP pass to this particular ferris wheel ride of misery: “Why can’t you just relax, Emily? Why can’t you just have fun like everyone else here? Why do you have to be such a goddamn downer? JUST ENJOY YOURSELF FOR CHRIST’S SAKE, THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUN! STOP BEING THE ABSOLUTE FUCKING WORST!”

(It’s weird how this strategy never works.)

Those sunglasses? Not a cute, bright-lights-at-Phish gimmick.

They were necessary to hide my tears.

Now brief side clarification– my misery that night had NOTHING to do with Phish. Phish critics might think, “Of course you were miserable at Phish, it’s a crowded shitshow.” And yeah, it sure is! But truth be told, I actually like Phish. A lot. Ok, not nearly as much as the die-hard, 100-shows-and-counting phanatics I’m usually with, but I do have an appreciation for the music, the people, and the scene. In fact, I had been to a Phish show 8 days before this one and had a genuine blast. My mood was stable that day, and the music and crowd were in sync with my dopamine levels. I got lucky. I should have posted a photo from THAT show. At least it would have been authentic.

So why did I choose to post a “joyful” photo when I felt shattered inside? I’m sure there are a million different answers to that, all of which I will analyze to death with my therapist next week, so she better buy at least 3 hats, 2 helmets, and hold the fuck on. But I’m in touch with myself enough to know that the main reason is this:

That photo represented how I wanted to feel.  And maybe if that was the image I projected to the world, it would, in some way, become the reality.


But shame on me. I know better.

I know that when I’m down, a filtered, look-at-me-having-fun photo feels good for one moment and one moment only. Then I’m just part of the problem, a problem that I’ve always been so conscious and critical of.

It’s no secret that social media can be harmful to self-esteem. I’m not making any groundbreaking statements in that regard. The constant comparison to other people’s happiness and success, which is generally the majority of what gets posted, makes us feel badly about our own less-than-perfect lives. We’ve all experienced this. It’s insane how we can scroll through a news feed and, even when we KNOW, intellectually, that what we see is not capturing the true, more nuanced reality of our peers’ lives, we still, on some level, process it as such. Our visual perception, paired with our own insecurities, trumps our rational mind every time.

That is why I am so disappointed in myself for posting a photo that projects fun and joy, when inside I was torn to pieces.

This helps no one.

Especially not myself.

I know better than to communicate an inauthentic truth. I know what it does to my mental health when I try to put forth a version of me that isn’t real, and the possible damage it can do to others who struggle. It’s the main reason I have this no-clear-theme-and-sort-of-all-over-the-place mess of a blog– a mix of stories that highlight my imperfections, struggles, and staggered journey. Yes, some of my expereinces are joyful, and I’m always thrilled when I get to share that. And I will continue to share that, as we all should– when it’s genuine.

But a lot of the journey is hard. And awkward. And sad. Anxiety-and-guilt-ridden, scary, uncomfortable, confusing and head-in-hands frustrating. So I try my best to capture that, too. Not push it down and cover it up with a camera-ready smile. Because if I’m doing that, if I’m masking the struggles, I’m just another “Look how great my life is ALL THE TIME!” social media monster. We have enough Kardashians out there eating us alive, ass-first.

The thing is, my life really IS great, guys.

It’s also a category F5 shitnado.

I promise an online presence that continues to project both these realities.

Forgive me?




This is What Happens When You Let Me into a VIP Lounge at Phish


Me (drunk, staring at donut wall, turning to random older man next to me): “So which donut should we eat?”

Random man: “Definitely the cinnamon.”

Me: “That’s what I was thinking!” (grab donut, stuff my face, continue talking with mouth full) “So what’s YOUR connection to Phish?”

Random man: “Trey is my son.”

Me: “Oh! Wait, what? Really? No WAY! Are you, like, SO proud?”

Eric:  face-palm_1f926.png

Phlowing Right Along: Progress of a Newbie

Since returning from my Mansfield/Hartford Phish weekend, many people have been asking–  “So, you’ve been to 4 shows. You even traveled for a weekend of back-to-back phishing. Are you into Phish now?”

Into Phish is definitely too strong a descriptor at this moment in time. Into Phish implies you really know the music, you know a ton about the band, you know the tour history. I know none of these things.

I just learned Fishman’s first name (it’s Jon!). I know a factoid or two about Trey (he’s been sober since 2006!). I know roughly 6 words of a few songs (super helpful, though, as most songs are just those 6 words on repeat). I know what some songs are about– for example, “Runaway Jim” is about a dog named Jim. (How do I know this? Because the lyrics are, “I have a dog, his name was Jim.” Turns out my Ivy League comprehension skills aren’t entirely necessary for decoding Phish, and to be honest, I prefer it that way. I think enough during the day).  I just downloaded my first playlist, “Phish for Noobs,” sent to me yesterday by a friend and phan (sidenote about phans– they fucking LOVE when a skeptical newbie starts to like Phish, and their enthusiasm is so infectious it makes you want to like it even more. There’s no snobbery or judgement about Phish knowledge, they’re just a bunch of laid-back-yet-excitable people who would like nothing more in the world than to spread the love so that you can feel what they feel).

But am I into Phish? Probably not yet. Maybe I’m on my way. I’m definitely not NOT into Phish, which I believe is what the phans call “Phase 1.” (Yeah no. They don’t call it anything. I’m just trying to give myself a modicum of credit, because the teacher in me believes in acknowledging even the most minor of progress).

I’ll tell you this much, though– during the “Lizards” guitar solo at Hartford, I waved the shit out of my white flag and surrendered to that flow. I closed my eyes, leaned into Eric, and am pretty sure I left my body for a moment or two. The music, the fans, the lights, the energy, the amazing, loving group of people surrounding me– for that brief moment, everything was right with the world. Literally all the feels, begging to be felt. I’ve never experienced that at a concert. Hell, I’m not sure I’ve experienced that at any point in my life, as my brain tends to be driven by an underlying anxiety that, even in my calmest moments, always has at least one pinky on the wheel. But in that moment, it was the easiest thing in the world to understand why this life, and everything we get to experience during it, is the most unbelievably precious gift we as human beings have.

And if that’s the feeling phans keep chasing, then I might not be into Phish yet, but I 100% get it. 

Oh, look at that. Maybe that’s phase 2!

Pretty sure I’ve earned a gold star. Or, at the very least, a red donut.