Guidance Counseling: Titus Andronicus’ Patrick Stickles

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Published  February 2016

ANTIGRAVITY-FEB2016-WEB_Page_07_Image_0001Like their fellow Jerseyite Bruce Springsteen, Titus Andronicus has been crafting expressive, instrument-rich anthems for quite some time, all sung at an inspired, breathless roar by lead singer and guitarist Patrick Stickles. And while not quite as prolific or storied as the Boss and crew yet, Titus Andronicus has blazed quite a path since their first live appearance as a band in 2005. They’ve released four albums, including 2012’s critically acclaimed Local Business, and performed hundreds of shows. Their most recent album, The Most Lamentable Tragedy (out on Merge Records), deals with the trial and error period that ate up Stickles’ 20s. The album puts to bed that era of life—for most people, not just Stickles—that’s all about fucking up and accidentally getting some things right along the way. You can catch Titus Andronicus at Gasa Gasa on March 6th. In the meantime, take some sage advice from this elder (in rock years, anyway) statesman.

 

 

 

My girlfriend is an unabashed carnivore, and her diet is almost exclusively meat and dairy. She grew up in a household where she didn’t have to eat anything she didn’t want to, and try as I might, I can’t get her to try any vegetables other than potatoes. I really want both of us to eat balanced diets and have a long, healthy life together. How can I get through to her?

It’s only right to wish good health for your partner and you should continue to frame it in such a way—concern for her health and well-being rather than your own desire for control, a misinterpretation that would be damaging to your cause. We must always remember to put respect for the agency and autonomy of our partner first, even when we do not agree with all of their choices. You can not expect your partner to immediately transform from hedonist to health nut but perhaps small steps can be taken which will encourage the both of you. Many people worldwide now observe “Meat Free Monday,” wherein they abstain from meat one day out of the week, surely a less daunting proposition than dropping meat entirely. There are also numerous options for dietary supplements, vitamins and the like, which can create positive health benefits without the trauma of disrupting long-standing eating habits. Your girlfriend may be exhibiting symptoms of Avoidant / Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (a/k/a Selective Eating Disorder), a legitimate and serious condition which affects thousands worldwide (including your humble author), widely misunderstood as it is. Researchers at Duke University performed a study on ARFID which I encourage you to investigate with your partner if, indeed, she may be suffering from it.

 

Ive been dating a guy for a few weeks and I have to admit one pet peeve I’ve discovered: his car has a lot of bumper stickers on it and frankly, it’s embarrassing. He’s a sweet guy but I can’t help thinking it represents a deeper problem or stunted growth. Am I being unreasonable?

While many agree that a busy bumper is a tacky turn-off, consider the purpose that it may serve in this person’s life. Advertising our values, our likes and dislikes, our personal causes and beliefs, are one of the ways in which we define ourselves and present to the wider world. Really, your new man’s bumper is not substantively different from the curation and self-advertising so many of us do on social media platforms like Facebook and Tumblr, or even in the simple rocking of a lovingly selected graphic tee. While his choice of medium may be unseemly to some, it represents an inclination that is very common in the modern age. That being said, if you are so stuck on this particular issue, you may be projecting wider-reaching feelings about the potential of this relationship. Is it really his bumper that’s bothering you or are you using that particular issue as a stand-in for larger doubts? If his bumper was bare, would you be able to foresee a long and happy future together, or would you find some other quirk to fret over? Take a good look within yourself and ask if your real issue is with the bumper stickers or with he who affixed them.

 

I think I smoke too much pot. It’s definitely become a habit and while it’s not exactly ruining my life, I would like to dial it back some. But I’m not sure how to go about that. It would be hard to come home from work and not pack a bowl, for example. Any tips?

First let me say that, while it is not healthy to consume any substance compulsively, it has become more and more widely accepted that marijuana is far from the most insidious drug available to the modern consumer— medical science now recognizes that it actually possesses many beneficial properties. If you were unable to come home from work and not shoot up a bunch of smack, that would be a far different issue. Marijuana comes from Mother Earth, so please don’t shame yourself to excess over this indulgence. As I said, though, compulsive behavior is not healthy and you should be the one in control of your relationship with recreational drugs, rather than their being in control of you. Compulsive behavior is often based on the feelings of security and control that come from their place in a routine. Perhaps you can try replacing your 5:00 bowl hit with an alternative relaxing activity? That could be the pleasant diversion of a favorite book or television program, a regiment of light stretches and mindful breathing, a lovely glass of orange juice, or whatever you find relaxing other than burning the leaf. Don’t be too hard on yourself if progress is slow-going— even one evening where you move back your toking from after-work to before- bed is a victory to be celebrated, and each successive victory will make the next one that much easier.

 

I’m about to move in with my partner, and I’m wondering what I should do with the boxes of letters, photos, and keepsakes from past relationships. Throwing it all away feels weird, but so does keeping it. Where would I stash all this stuff in our new, shared home? What should I do?

There is nothing shameful in holding on to certain sentimental feelings over past loves even after the romance has run its course. Our experiences make us who we are and, through the loves of the past, we learn to love better in the present. However steadfast your commitment to your current partner, it does not erase or invalidate the entire history before you were together, on either side. Be that as it may, no good can come from sneaking around and hiding things from your current partner if you want to have a healthy relationship together. If you did indeed “stash all this stuff ” somewhere in the new home, it could be emotionally damaging for your current partner to discover it, with the deception possibly causing even more pain than the suspicion of insufficient dedication on your part to the current situation. As always, the key is communication. If you can’t bring yourself to toss your keepsakes, enter into a dialogue with your partner and try to explain your desire to honor the past while being careful to emphasize your full commitment to the present. Who knows—perhaps your partner feels the same way and has similar worries of their own moving into this new, unfamiliar situation? One thing is certain—secrets have no place in a happy home; honesty and openness will be essential in getting your new life together off to the right start.

 

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