I get paid to help adolescents make music.
They're funny critters, teenagers. Seems everybody's got an opinion about them. Even Socrates had a well-quoted whinge, back when he was teaching teens as a way to supplement his thinking career, and folks have been chucking rocks at kids ever since.
The usual stones to throw are about how they think they know everything and live like they're the centre of the universe.
Some experts have a couple of excellent phrases to describe the adolescent mindset. They talk about the kids' belief in an "imaginary audience" and their "personal fable". The kid is certain everybody else is as obsessed with him as he is with himself, and that he is somehow unique and special.
It's tricky being a teenager. You feel like nobody understands and that everybody is watching. Some might say this sounds like an mental condition. More on that in a minute.
The thing about imaginary audience and personal fable is that they were once thought to be part of a phase that kids go through, before they can emerge out the other end as a grey-trousered grown-up with a mortgage and an ability to engage in small talk.
But here's the fun bit.
It turns out that many grown-ups keep performing for their imaginary audience, believing they are somehow special and unique. Insert social media critique here.
So I've been working with adolescents, helping them make music, and I enjoy how zealously egocentric and delicately weird they can be.
And I thought I'd write about it for you, whoever you are...
Because it seemed interesting...
Here's a picture of my lunch.
The importance of being sad
Sadness and I go way back.
It kind of appeared out of nowhere when I was 14 and hung around. Like a dog, you know. Greyish.
By the time I went to see a doctor at 28 I'd become quite used to having the old pup around, but it was making much more mess than it used to. It was massive, ate everything, shat on the rug most mornings and snarled if I walked too close.
The doctor gave me a DVD, a leaflet or two and referred me to a website with a ten question quiz.
All of them, the leaflet, the computer and the TV, said I was sick. The doctor said he'd had the same thing and that he was on the way out. That was amazing. Physician, heal thyself.
So I took the tablets he gave me. One a day, for a year and a half. They gave me a fuzzy brain for the first few weeks and then the fuzz became a sign that I had missed a day.
I remember becoming aware that I was speaking harshly to people. I soon realised that this new insight was born of empathy, and that I had been speaking harshly for most of my life.
On to counseling, an art course and a career change. On to new ways of thinking, new questions to ask myself and new lilies and sparrows to consider.
All fixed, I walked from the therapist's room after another 18 months. With a very obedient little greyish puppy licking at my heels. Cute as.
He's grown and shrank twice since then.
The first time made me so angry. I knew what was happening and did not want to have to chew all those brainfuzz tablets, or sit across from that therapist, or find myself on my knees wringing out a sponge onto that shit-stained rug.
When I found myself crying into a pint (half-filled with emptiness) on a Tuesday afternoon I knew things were broken and I knew exactly how to fix them. So I did, quick smart.
The second time was now. I did the test today. But I'm not scared. I'm just silent. I can hear two finches squeaking like a honeymoon bed, four ceiling fans and my own eight fingers tapping on a key pad. Outside is leaves dancing and distant cockatoos.
There's a bunch of stuff I can't control - people, mostly - and there's a bunch of stuff I can. Easy.
The dog is snoring under my desk, next to the amplifier.