Entr'acte II
Published: March 22, 2010 | | Submit An Inquiry


Artist: BB
Song: Never Will I Walk
Video: Miscellany / PJB
The Everyday
Published: November 30, 2009 | | Submit An Inquiry


Dear Chivalry,

     I live for moments of intense consciousness.  I enjoy sunsets, crisp fall walks when the noise of the leaves under foot loudly documents each step, a first kiss, the long wait for the second... slightly more passionate kiss, the feeling of the water around my body as I float face up during a night swim.  I continue to search these things out blindly.  To hold onto them and consider them the true treasures of life.

     Obviously,  the drudge of day or the downtime fills in the majority of the rest of the time.  The sweet things in life are sweeter because of the rarity of their presence.  Is the answer to seek a dulling of the sharp intensely real moments and thus de-emphasize the down time... let alone the darkly bland times?  The idea that mediocrity is more bearable than to search for the truly beautiful.  Or do I continue to wander and hope for that which is unattainable?

Yours Truly,

Longing Lover of Life

The response and recommendations for this question have been provided by a special guest contributor.  Enjoy...

Dear Longing Lover of Life,

     Here's the good news: you never have to become accustomed to mediocrity.  Anything can be beautiful, if you pay attention.  There is no shortage, no scarcity, so don't start rationing your enjoyment.
 
     It seems to me "the sweet things" and "the drudge of day" are subjective categories and needn't be mutually exclusive.  The vibrant and the dull are not some binary star, orbiting but never touching.  In my experience, "moments of intense consciousness" can seize us at anytime, even in the midst of routine.  I worry that you may have built up your wandering search for beauty and created a false struggle.  Or is it, as you suggest, that you love the struggle most of all? 

     It might be enough to simply acknowledge the grand metaphor you've chosen and bear it in mind as you live your life.  But frankly, I think you'd do well to reject the dualism of mediocrity and beauty.  And if some things are truly unattainable, then I suspect we are made better in reaching for them.

Sincerely,

A.B.A.
Recommendations.

Playlist:

Wyndham Lewis - End of Enemy Interlude
Cotton Candy - A Sentimental Song
Raccoo-oo-oon - Invisible Sun
Pyramids - Sleds
Stag Hare - Crystal Dust Dream
Kixly - Aura Dell 'Arcobaleno
Marcel Duchamp - La Mariee Mise A Nu Par Ses Celibataires, Meme
Kría Brekkan - Solush
Mick Turner - There's A Great Burning Red Moon Rising On The Lake
Kyle Bobby Dunn - Miranda Rights

Book: Annie Dillard - Mornings Like This

Film: Le Scaphandre Et Le Papillon

Holding It In
Published: November 11, 2009 | | Submit An Inquiry


Dear Chivalry,

     I grew up in a conservative, Evangelical Christian household.  I'm grownup, out of the house, and not a Christian anymore.

     My parents and I have danced around the topics of beliefs and sin for years, and my policy has generally been: what they don't know can't hurt them.  They would be heartbroken to learn that I've had sex and I'm not going to marry a Christian and probably won't even get married in the traditional sense.  This information won't just make them sad, it will eat at them for the rest of their lives, as they mourn their daughter and agonize over her salvation.  That's the part I can't control.  

     My honesty will create a very real chasm between us, but my dishonesty doesn't help anything, either.  I want to be completely open with them about my relationships and lifestyle.  I can foresee a day when I'm with somebody who means the world to me and I'll want my parents to know.

     How can I begin to share myself with my folks in a way that is non-threatening and encourages them to be part of my life, while making it clear that I am committed to my choices?  How do I prepare them for whatever my love life may turn out to be?

Sincerely,

Living In Sin

Dear Living In Sin,

     Such a difficult situation.  I understand your concern here, you're right, disagreements like this can tear families apart.  I commend you for not wanting to take the easy way out and continuing to avoid or waiting until you do find someone and you'll be forced to explain yourself to them.  It's not the kind of thing that simply ignoring can make go away, and it must be very hard on you to hold all this in.

     First off, it may be best for you to take it slow.  I wouldn't suggest a full on assault of all your conflicting beliefs at once, but rather move one step at a time.  You'll have to decide how best to approach this.  But perhaps the next time marriage or religion comes up, instead of dancing around the topic like you mentioned, you could use it as an opening to assert some of your thoughts in a calm and casual manner.  I'm not sure how often this happens, or if you have tried this before, but however far you've taken it in the past, try to take it at least one step further.  It should become easier with time, and each discussion that you share just one thought you may have held in before will start to add up.  Even the most monumental of differences can erode away with the accumulation of small efforts.  The hardest part will be starting.  But the sooner you create the unavoidable chasm you described, the sooner you can start working to repair it through honest and mature discourse. 

     No matter what, remember certain things will remain even after you've shared these things with your parents.  You will always be their daughter and I'm sure they will continue to care for you in the same way they have before.  Hopefully they will at least try to understand where you're coming from.

     I sincerely hope you're able to work things out.

Signed,

Chivalry
Recommendations.

Playlist:

Mimi Parker & Alan Sparhawk - Kindly Blessed
Nina Nastasia & Jim White - Our Discussion
Pieter Nooten & Michael Brook - After The Call
Beth Gibbons & Rustin Man - Resolve
Yann Tiersen & Shannon Wright - No Mercy For She
Suzanne Langille & Loren Mazzacane Connors - Motherless Child
Simon Wickham-Smith & Richard Youngs - Cleveland
Lawrence English & Tom Hall - Veiled Twilight
Loren Connors & David Grubbs - Blossom Time
Thomas De Hartmann & G.I. Gurdjieff - Holy Affirming, Holy Denying, Holy Reconciling

New Surroundings
Published: November 3, 2009 | | Submit An Inquiry


Dear Chivalry,

     I recently took an internship in a small town in upstate NY. The internship is amazing, but the town is a terrible hippy graveyard (near the Woodstock) where 50 year-olds with tattoos and hippy names like "Flower" jump around embarrassing their hipster teenage kids.  I am 23, I would like to make friends, but I haven't found a single place I would really like to hang out yet.  I recently graduated from college.  I am realizing that meeting people is so hard outside of collegiate walls. 

     Do you have any advice?  I've only been here for three weeks, but I am desperately missing my boyfriend and all my best friends.  I feel utterly stranded in the world with no grounding or motivation to get out and make it happen.  I have never been alone like this before and am someone who hates being by themselves... Have any advice?

(Unsigned)

Dear Reader,

     When I finished college I moved away from home and found myself in a similar situation.  I was in a somewhat different environment than the one you currently find yourself in, but I remember having a lot of the same problems.  I wasn't sure if I was ever going to meet new friends or develop any sense of belonging where I was.

     I brought up my troubles to the people around me who had also relocated from somewhere else, and they all gave the same advice:  "Give it 3 months, if you still don't like it, then maybe you shouldn't be here."  I decided to test this theory out and 3 months in - I did in fact feel a new attachment to where I was.  I ended up staying for over 2 years and I look back on that time in my life very fondly.  I bring this up just to highlight the fact that first impressions of new surroundings can be somewhat deceiving.  You should give things a little bit more time and try to make the best of your situation.  Who knows, it may get better, it may get worse.  But giving it a fair shot is important. 

     As far as different ways to meet new people where you live, I really can't provide you with anything past the obvious.  Concerts, lectures, book stores, volunteering, there are a million chances out there.  But you could also try to see this time you spend there as an opportunity to become more comfortable with being alone.  There's nothing wrong with missing the company of your loved ones, but learning how to deal with their absence and developing a strong sense of self will help you for the rest of your life.

     Stick it out.

Signed,

Chivalry
Recommendations.

Playlist:

Blackblack - Emerald Forest
Dear Nora - I'm An Outcast
Cairo Gang, The - Bones In The Ground
Kickball - Imaginary People
Love of Everything - Living Life Too
Au - Boute
Sholi - All That We Can See
Tara Jane O'Neil - A Vertiginous One
Trouble Books - Personal Tornadoes
Harpo Marx - Alone

Entr'acte
Published: October 15, 2009 | | Submit An Inquiry


Artist: Matthew Muschiana
Song: Leopard Leg
Video: Miscellany
Only One Way To Find Out
Published: October 5, 2009 | | Submit An Inquiry


Dear Chivalry,

     For almost two years now I have been invested in a wonderful friendship with a wonderful girl.  A girl that I have had a wild crush on since day one.  The friendship has definitely grown far beyond the childishness in which it started and the crush definitely stays on the back burner almost forgotten, but still, I find her on my mind more often than not.

     Just recently she broke the news to me that she is moving in the next month.  Like seriously moving.  Far far away.  Now... this situation has basically been my life story.  I find myself heartbroken by unrequited (or so I think) crushes that begin in a few beautiful days spent together and end forever in me or the girl leaving the city after only just meeting and I never have the courage to speak up about it.

     With this particular girl, I have always wanted to love her as more than "just a friend" but at the same time I have always told myself (mostly out of fear) that what we have now is perfect, so why ruin or complicate it with "romantics".  But as her departure nears I feel more and more that something needs to be said.  I am getting way too nervous about what to do!  Is it worth it to risk our current relationship with last minute airport pleads or do I live on, knowing that I let another wonderful girl leave my life with no question...

     How do I get out of this pattern of falling for girls that I have to say goodbye to the next day?

(Unsigned)

Dear Reader,

     All you have to do is tell her how you feel.  Simple as that.

Signed,

Chivalry

Post Script ~

     At first I wrote a long, drawn out, rambling answer, but in the end decided it was all completely redundant.  You can break the pattern you described right now by being honest and direct with this girl before she leaves.  I'm sure it won't be easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is.

(To read about a similar situation, click here
.)
Recommendations.

Playlist:

Pentagons, The - I'm In Love
Sapphires, The - Gotta Be More Than Friends
Miracles, The - This I Swear, I Promise
Shirelles, The - Things I Want To Hear
Moonglows, The - I Knew From The Start
Crystals, The - Oh, Yeah, Maybe, Baby
Platters, The - You'll Never Know
Marvelettes, The - Someday, Someway
Flamingos, The - I Want To Love You
Kittens, The - I Love You So

Film: ****

Even Those With The Best Intentions
Published: September 23, 2009 | | Submit An Inquiry


Dear Chivalry,

     I met a nice guy a while back, he relocated to be with me but then cheated on me while out of town on a business trip.  I am fantastic and not deserving of that type of behavior so we broke it off.

     He is still a dear close friend because he understands me so well and is very supportive of my artistic endeavors.  He has come into some money trouble and I have a spare room at my house.  Normally I feel like this would be a poor choice since it has only been a few short months since we split but I think I'm going through with it.

     What do you think?  I'm so torn about this because he is the sweetest most wonderful man I've ever dated while simultaneously being the worst.

Best,

R

Dear R,

     Be careful here.  Living with someone can be stressful under any circumstances.  By no means should you turn your back on someone you care about when they need help, but you have to admit, there are a lot of red flags.

     Simply put, it's very hard to think of a reason why any of this would be a good idea for you.  While I admire your ability to be so kind and forgiving after such a terrible episode like the one you mentioned, it really feels like you would be inviting disaster with a deal like this.  Feeling conflicted about it is completely understandable, it's good nature to want to lend a hand to someone in trouble.  But sometimes the affection you still feel towards someone you were close to can cloud your better judgment as to what is actually best in the long run.  Combining close living quarters with the apparent confusion over how you feel about him would essentially be, well, asking for it. 

     If there really is no other option and you do end up going through with this though, then the only real advice I could give would be to make certain things clear from the beginning.  Setting a specific time limitation on how long he stays in your house that you feel is fair and reasonable could be a good thing for the both of you.  Leaving things open ended and ambiguous always leads to arguments that most of the time could have been avoided with a simple talk.

     But before you make a final decision, try to give this some more thought.

Signed,

Chivalry
Recommendations.

Playlist:

Les Paul & Mary Ford - Four Walls
GHQ - Invitation In
Mark Borthwick - Wild Love
Natural Snow Buildings - Shininz Home
Gowns - When It Burned
Sparkling Wide Pressure - Invisible Morning Feeling
Belong - Who Told You This Room Exists?
Powdered Wigs - Answered
Indian Eyes - A Place To Live
Jandek - It's Your House

The Year Gone By
Published: September 15, 2009 | | Submit An Inquiry


Dear Chivalry,

     The past year has been chocked full of change, both happy and horrible.  I've lost two important people to me, one, a big, bright spirit who meant so much to me in so many different ways for so long, another whom I enjoyed talking to and teasing, who I was just beginning to get to know in that completely effortless, guards-down familiar way.

     Mourning has been hard work.  It's not easy to understand or control my feelings, or even find the time to sort through them... I feel like one year later, I'm just beginning to define the boundaries of the love and loss and sweet memories and sour missing, sort of like mapping the ocean floor.

     Talking with friends and loves has been my biggest solace, but I worry about being overbearing, seeming too emo or needy, or just not always being able to read where others are at in this process, when talking or joking, looking at pictures or listening to music is hurtful instead of heart warming.

     Thanks for any and all advice - and of course, for just listening patiently.

-- Good Grief

Dear Good Grief,

     I'm sure no one expects you to suffer in silence.  You should always be able to rely on your friends and loved ones for support in hard times.  Dealing with loss can take hold a hold on you in ways unexpected and undesired, so it's easy to feel like you can't control your own despondence.  

     It may be a fairly obvious suggestion, but it could be beneficial for you to try and channel these feelings into some sort of creative output.  Writing, drawing, performance, whatever shape it may take, the therapy that comes with artistic expression could prove invaluable. Of course, it would be up to you to decide if this is an appropriate solution for how you feel, but it could be a useful coping mechanism that can help take some of the weight off of your shoulders.

     I remember listening to a recording of an interview a few years ago.  A radio host was talking to a musician, and for some reason they started to discuss their age and the recent years in their lives.  The host explained that he was about to turn 24 and the musician (who was 25) commented somewhere along the lines of, "23, yeah 23 is a bad year, 24 is great though, just try to put 23 behind you and move on."  You could tell that he was comparing the host's life to his own in a sarcastic but honest way.  For some reason that little comment has always stuck with me as I've compared the past years of my life.  Of course some have been better than others, but usually full of change like you mentioned.  Whenever I hear someone say they've had a bad year though, I always think the same thing: next year will be better.  So try to move on from the past as best you can and know that things will get easier for you, eventually.

     Take care.

Signed,

Chivalry 
Recommendations.

Playlist:

Black Heart Procession, The - Till We Have To Say Goodbye
Scott Walker - If You Go Away
Michael Nyman - The Departure
J. Spaceman & Sun City Girls - Farewell
M83 - Gone
Björk - Undo
Broadcast - Oh How I Miss You
Colleen - Your Heart On Your Sleeve
Kouran Kin & Sinkou Son - Songs In Grief
Calvin Johnson - The Past Comes Back To Haunt Me

There Is No Easy Way
Published: September 10, 2009 | | Submit An Inquiry


Dear Chivalry,

     How do you end a romance with someone you really truly love?

     I love him, I do...  It's just that I know we aren't in it for a lifetime of love and togetherness.  It seems so cliché but I want us to remain good friends.  I want him to know that he can rely on me just as he always has.  We were long distance for two years and are now living in the same city.  It has been two months since we've been 'back together' and I am not feeling the flips in my tummy or sparks when we look into one another's eyes.  Instead I see our differences outweighing our likenesses.  I find myself feeling nostalgic for what we once had and a sickness about how horrible I feel...  He moved back to be with me and has no family or friends in the area.  I just feel awful for having a change of heart.  

XO


Dear XO,

     It would be fairly pointless for me to pretend that I can offer some kind of simple means that will make this situation easier for you.  As I'm sure you are fully aware, absolutely nothing about this is easy.  When you truly care for someone and you find yourself in this position, that time before you actually tell them how you feel, the time you're going through right now, can be incredibly draining both mentally and physically.  The immense and burdensome guilt you carry can feel completely overwhelming.

     I know that it's hard, but try not to beat up on yourself too much.  In so many ways, it's impossible to predict the future of the relationship you're in.  I'm sure that you didn't plan on things working out this way when you made the decision to be together again and live close to one another.  Sometimes our feelings change towards someone whether we want them to or not, and more than often we certainly can't control the timing. 

     Having personally been on both sides of the table, I'm really not sure what is easier.  Most would say being broken up with is obviously harder to handle, but I truly find both to be evenly matched, especially in a case like yours.  I have found though, that the longer you wait on your end, things just become much more difficult.  If you feel you have spent enough time with your thoughts and you've made up your mind that you no longer feel the way you did for him - you should be honest and tell him what's in your heart.  With any luck, he will try to understand where you are coming from and then you can begin to work towards the friendship that you have in mind.  This of course will not be easy either, but continuing on the way things are now sounds much more difficult.

     I hope everything works out for you.

Signed,

Chivalry
Recommendations.

Playlist:

Chuck Jackson - Getting Ready For The Heartbreak
Jens Lekman - I Am Leaving You Because I Don't Love You
Julie Doiron - I Broke His Heart
Vincent Gallo - When
Sharon Van Etten - I Wish I Knew
Scout Niblett - Kiss
Ashley Erickson - Changes In The Weather
Robert Wyatt - Raining In My Heart
Reiko Kudo - Together
Brian McBride - For Those Who Hesitate

And Guest
Published: August 31, 2009 | | Submit An Inquiry


Dear Chivalry,

     I've recently been invited to attend the wedding of a pair of dear friends.  As excited as I am for my dear friends, the happy couple (THC), my RSVP does not come without a few reservations of my own.

     The wedding is three hours away and I know very few of THC's other friends.  I am currently single, and therefore have no obvious date.  However, the wedding is in a large town where I know many people and it wouldn't be difficult finding someone to go with me.  The last time I went to a wedding alone, I ended up filling the awkward gaps in conversations with people I was not yet comfortable with, with trips to the complimentary kegs.  This was a blackened-eye disaster.  The prospect of putting myself In a situation like that, but where there will be even less people I am comfortable around, has me fearing the worst. I don't want to end the night passed out in yet another schoolyard - and this time it won't across the street from my house!  

     I have been asking around amongst my (mostly) single friends, and to be honest they haven't been much help (the most cryptic response imploring me "not to bring sand to the beach").  So, Chivalry, what do I do?  Am I the awkward single guy that nobody knows with a wedding-induced drinking problem?  Or am I some reasonably well-composed gentleman that secretly and sadly relies on a wrangler as some kind of an emotional crutch?  Or, the dark horse, option three:  Am I the fella who drops a check in the mail and just doesn't show up?

     Who am I?

Signed,

Tied In Knots

Dear Tied In Knots,

     Let's strike that third option from the running right away.  As you mention from the start, these are dear friends of yours and you really shouldn't miss their wedding based on some easily avoidable insecurities.  So that puts it between bringing a companion or going it alone.  And taking into account your anecdote about your previous solo wedding excursion, I think that makes the choice somewhat obvious. 

     Bringing a friend along is the best possible idea for many reasons, especially for a single person.  The thought of asking an actual date to such a typically awkward setting is more than likely bound for disaster.  So if you are lucky enough to have a willing acquaintance in the area (and it sounds like you do) then ask the favor.  There's nothing wrong with admitting that you would appreciate the support of a friend for something like this, everyone finds themselves in a place like this from time to time. 

     Now I realize the usual expectations that go along with attending a wedding, but why not try to see this as an opportunity to buck tradition and actually enjoy yourself?  Taken at base value you know that you can count on at least three things: there will be dancing to fairly bad but mostly fun music, free food and drink, and by requiring the attendance of your friend, you're assured the opportunity to spend time with at least one person you know and like.  And with the complete absence of the normal pressures that come with a real date, I'd say you're pretty much free to make the absolute best of it.  And who knows - you may just meet someone new as well.

     Try to have fun.

Signed,

Chivalry
Recommendations.

Playlist:

Casiotone For The Painfully Alone - "Scattered Pearls"
Phoenix - "If I Ever Feel Better"
UGK - "Int'l Players Anthem (I Choose You)"
Felix Da Housecat - "Ready 2 Wear"
Rubies - "Stand In A Line"
Xiu Xiu - "Ceremony"
Thee Midnighters - "Land of A Thousand Dances"
Lake - "Wedding Days"
Harry Nilsson - "Save The Last Dance For Me"
Watery Graves of Portland, The - "Timid Virgins Make Dull Company At Weddings"

Home Is Where
Published: July 15, 2009 | | Submit An Inquiry


Dear Chivalry,

     I studied English at the university.  Before that, I lived abroad, like I'd always imagined I was going to.  I traveled a bit; I love traveling.  But now, it sort of bothers me morally to leave my home place in order to wander here and there and, what's worse, it seems to get me nowhere.  Whenever I come back I feel like I've been wasting my time.

     I thought it was my destiny to be an expatriate, but I realize I might as well become an average citizen in the country where I was born.  I've always thought I was bound to live in a foreign country lest I should die of boredom.  I thought I was an explorer, an adventuress, but today I want to take sewing lessons.

     Should I expatriate myself again like I once did?

Mrs. Bean

Dr. Mrs. Bean,

     Having only lived in the country where I was born, I can't say that I completely understand what it's like to be in your position.  I have had the experience of living in a few different cities reasonably far from my home town, and I feel like in some ways that can be comparable.  When I was growing up, the idea of staying put was always somehow correlated with a certain amount of failure.  In order to be considered a success, you had to move away and rise above your former circumstances.  But the more I learn, the more that theory just feels incredibly off.  Success is such a relative concept and can not be defined by something so incidental.

     I've never felt the deep need for travel as many people I've met over the years have.  For some reason it always seemed like a person with the desperate need to leave, to be far away from where they came from, would rely too much on the idea of traveling to solve their problems for them.  That they were, in essence, running away.  That's not to say there isn't value in exploring other places.  It can be just as dangerous to never step outside your comfort zone and see what else the world has to offer.  So it feels like trying to find a healthy balance of travel and implanting some kind of roots could be the best thing to strive for.  A good sign is when you're away from home for a while and you start to miss it.  That feeling of "home", of actually belonging somewhere, can be of infinite value and I would say that those lucky enough to have found that shouldn't take it for granted.

     I couldn't tell you if leaving again would be the right decision for you.  Instead I feel like you should ask yourself, when was the last time you were living somewhere that truly felt like home for you?  It's an important question, and I feel like the answer will help guide you in the right direction.

     Take care.

Signed,

Chivalry  
Recommendations.

Playlist:

Tom Blood - "The Vanishing And The Wandering As A Dawning Within You"
Emeralds - "Lawn of Mirrors"
Pocahaunted - "Silk Fog Traveler"
John Cage - "In A Landscape"
Double Leopards - "Hemisphere In Your Hair"
Black Dice - "Things Will Never Be The Same"
Metallic Falcons - "Journey"
Mindflayer - "Each To Their Own Dark Path (Excerpt)"
Thanksgiving - "Welcome Home, Human"
Shoeb Ahmad - "Travelogue"

Film: La Strada

Podcast Now Available
Published: April 18, 2009 | | Submit An Inquiry


Dear Readers,

     As you might have noticed, for each entry on Chivalry there is a short list of recommendations meant to supplement each response.  Something I try to keep consistent across the board is providing a playlist of ten songs relevant to the question being asked.  Newly added to the site is the ability to "podcast" each playlist.  You can still stream the audio in your browser by clicking the play button directly above the track list.  But now, should you want to download the collection of songs into your iTunes, simply click "Subscribe To Podcast" in the upper right column. 

     I'd also like to thank everyone who has written in so far, I appreciate you sharing your questions and I hope that the answers have been helpful.  And to anyone looking to send in a question you can click on "Submit An Inquiry" to fill out a form and remain anonymous, or you can also email directly to: dearchivalry@gmail.com

     Looking forward.

Signed,

Chivalry
Simple Correspondence
Published: April 9, 2009 | | Submit An Inquiry


Dear Chivalry,

    I am in love with my penpal.  We met several years ago, and then parted ways and have corresponded from opposite sides of the country ever since.  Our relationship has never been romantic - we've been friends, cheering one another on through school and work, love and heartbreak.  But really I've been head-over-heels for him since the day we met.  I have no idea if he does, or did, feel the same way.

    After going through a couple failed relationships, I find myself wondering if my penpal could ever be more-than-a.  He might be coming to visit me this summer and I'm thinking about telling him how I feel.

    Is there a way to tell him without risking our friendship?  Without pressuring or scaring him?  Is it foolish to even consider this when we live so far apart?  He is one of the best people I've ever known, and I can't stand the thought of making things strained or awkward between us.

Sigh,

Pining Penpal

Dear Pining Penpal,

    As I'm sure you know, you're not the first person to find yourself here.  So you can take comfort in the fact that you belong to a fairly large club of the nervous, the unsure, and usually, the wonderful, that countless authors and film makers have chosen to cast as their main character to tell a love story.  At one point, I was in a fairly similar place and I made the decision to just get it over with and lay my cards on the table.  And honestly, in the end it all paid off in the best possible way for me.  What's more, I can say without questions that I felt significantly better just for having gotten what I desperately needed off of my chest.

    First off, I'm going to venture a guess and say that if it has been several years and you've felt this way since the day you met him, then he probably has at least some idea of your feelings.  And on that note, if you say that you have no idea of how he sees you, then it's completely possible that he might feel the same way towards you with the same worries that you have.  This is what I hope can help take some of the pressure off that you seem to be worried about.  I know this can all be very nerve-racking and that you don't want to damage what you have if his feelings don't reflect yours.  But if you continue on like this, it's safe to say that things will stay right where they are, with no real chance of progressing to an even better place.  As far as making things strained or awkward, you could say that it in at least one regard, it already is.  If you've been holding something like this in for such a long time, then it's very hard for this to be a completely healthy relationship.  So I think in some ways you might actually risk your friendship more by not telling him. 

    I don't think I can give you a specific strategy for how to go about actually telling him, I think you're the only one who is going to know what to say.  But I can say you that you are definitely on the right path already.  In person is always the best way, and if he is planning on visiting you this summer, then your idea of doing it then is perfect.  Try and make your best effort to look forward to this, instead of stressing over it... I know, not easy.  And when you see him and the moment is right, and you finally let him know how you feel, be completely honest and try not to hold back too much.  If you feel the need to explain the concerns that you've brought up here, I'd say feel free to do so.  The more you get out what needs to be said, the better.  Lastly, try not to worry about the distance.  If it is meant to be, then things like that will work themselves out.  What's important now is to tell him how you feel, and see what happens from there.

    I sincerely wish you the best of luck.

Signed,

Chivalry
Recommendations.

Playlist:

George McCrae - "You Can Have It All"
Lord Melody - "The Letter"
Parenthetical Girls - "Unmentionables"
Shelley Duvall - "He Needs Me"
Danny Guglielmi & Dena - "Out Of Nowhere"
Sandro Perri - "You're The One"
Atis Indepandan - "Let Damou (Love Letter)"
Camera Obscura - "Pen & Notebook"
Rachel's - "Last Things Last"
Koen Holtkamp - "You Mean The World To Me"

Night Shift
Published: March 5, 2009 | | Submit An Inquiry


Dear Chivalry,

     I am a nurse who works only nights, and a lot of weekends so it can be hard to meet people.  Do you have any suggestions for how to meet people while working my strange / annoying schedule?

Sincerely,

Insomniac

Dear Insomniac,

     I have to say from the start, the idea in general of setting out with the specific purpose of meeting people troubles me.  I've always found such an approach to feel rather forced.  It seems that the best things come about naturally without any sort of motivated effort.  Now, I know that it's not something you want to hear, but it's often said that as soon as you stop looking, that's when you'll find it.  The concept is beyond frustrating, but it may be best above all to just try and clear your mind of it, remain open to the possibility, and only put yourself in situations where you feel comfortable.

     But then again, I suppose there's nothing wrong with being proactive!  There are certain modern methods people who find themselves in your position utilize, of which I'm sure you're aware.  And although I've never personally experienced online dating, an increasing number of people seem to use it now.  So, it might be worth investigating.  This way you can be clear about things right from the beginning with the information you provide.  It's an honest and upfront way of explaining why you've decided to take the online approach.  As far as which sites you should look into, I'm not exactly sure.  A new one seems to pop up every other day, but I can imagine that there might even be a site specifically for people working in health care.  A simple internet search should get you started and you can decide if this feels like the right idea for you.

     And when you do meet someone worthwhile, I'm sure they will be more than willing to compromise and work around your strange / annoying schedule.

Signed,

Chivalry

(And always do your laundry at a laundromat.)
Recommendations.

Playlist:

A Tribe Called Quest - "Midnight Marauder Tour Guide"
New Buffalo - "Time To Go To Sleep"
Zombies, The - "I Want Her She Wants Me"
Orange Juice - "Love Sick"
Tough Alliance, The - "Looking For Gold"
Lia Ices - "Many Moons"
Earlimart - "Dreaming Of..."
Woods - "Night Creature"
Geneviève Castrée - "Chanson Pour La Nuit"
Daisy May Erlewine - "Night & Day"

Film: The Girl In The Café

Just A Friend
Published: February 16, 2009 | | Submit An Inquiry


Dear Chivalry,

     Is there such a thing as platonic cuddling?

Signed,

Sleepless in Seattle

Dear Sleepless,

     The obvious answer is of course, yes, such a thing occurs.  It is possible for two people to be affectionate towards each other with the absence of sexual intention.  But I get the feeling your question is more whether or not it is possible for it to remain completely chaste.  And that's where things become, as I'm sure you know, a bit more complicated.

     I try to think of it in very basic terms:  There are some things that you do with friends and then there are some things you do with your boyfriend and / or girlfriend.  And while some of these things may overlap, "gently touching each other while laying down" tends to fall into the second category. Any time there is intimate physical interaction, it's bound to bring up certain connotations that come with being in a relationship, no matter how casual it might be.  Even when your intentions are purely innocent, you still run the very high risk of someone getting the wrong idea or having their feelings hurt in the end.

     Also, I feel it might be best to avoid things that help to develop the part of your persona that can detach emotionally from an intimate situation.  You should save this kind of interaction to share with someone that you truly care about as more than just a friend.

     Be smart.

Signed,

Chivalry
Recommendations.

Playlist:

Betty Johnson - "Cuddle Me"
Okay - "Pretend"
Tender Forever - "This Is Hardcore"
Lucky Dragons - "Mirror Friends"
Tenniscoats - "Oetsu To Kanki No Nanoriuta"
Palms - "End Of Term"
New Order - "Regret"
Cardigans, The - "Heartbreaker"
Cornelius - "Chapter 8: Seashore & Horizon"
Arthur Russell - "Soon-To-Be Innocent Fun / Let's See"

Film: When Harry Met Sally...

Love Songs
Published: August 27, 2008 | | Submit An Inquiry


Dear Chivalry,

     When I was 18 years old my first, no second, wait! let's not count, serious boyfriend told me to stop making him mixtapes. "You only listen to love songs," he said "Don't you know anything else?".  And I realized I didn't.  I then forced myself to learn to appreciate music that wasn't love-is-forever-I'll-build-my-world-around-you music.  The problem Chivalry, is that the change in soundtrack has not altered my warped expectations and fears of falling in love.  I am a quote: vibrant, emancipated, single, young, and sexual woman, end quote. However, I often find said fears complicating my enjoyment of these things.  I fear the responsibility of being needed to complete someone, needing them, and my ability to make the right "real sustaining compromise" that equals love - forever.  If I make that promise, I fear my ability to keep it; but I want that more than anything.  As a result I torture myself, ruminating over the significance and legitimacy of - what seems to be apparent for everyone else - ephemeral or insubstantial relationships.  How can I guide myself towards more meaningful relationships or let go of such severe hopes and expectations?  Maybe I just need a better soundtrack?

-Blaming It On The Jams

Dear Blaming,

     I'm not going to pretend that the questions you're asking are even remotely answerable,  but I can point out the interesting correlation that you've drawn here.  Expanding one's taste can be considered infinitely similar to something like gaining experience in relationships.  As you shape your aesthetic sense, you naturally begin to appreciate more and branch out.  And with your relationships, the valuable lessons you learn will eventually account for what make up your desires and aspirations.  In both respects you are searching to be made to feel something and the more you know the more you have to compare to.  As you get older, the inclinations of true love and the ideas surrounding such magic can be diluted by the inevitable disappointments that come with taking chances.  The constant search is present for everyone and for some, never goes away.   

     You should know that you have every right to be afraid.  To feel like you can let yourself fall in love means that you have to be able to risk everything, and of course, this isn't easy.  But it seems like you are asking if you should compromise your true feelings, and I can say without doubt that I believe that you shouldn't.  It's all too common in us to accept what is easy and given before the difficult and ultimately more rewarding path.  After all, what is more important than this?  What should take precedence over your greatest happiness in true love?  Nothing should.  

     I would say to make your best attempt to keep these auspicious hopes intact and just keep looking.  Your favorite song is most likely one you haven't even heard yet.  

Signed,

Chivalry 
Recommendations.

Playlist:

Helen Kane - "I Wanna Be Loved By You"
Concretes, The - "On The Radio"
Magnetic Fields, The - "Love Goes Home To Paris In The Spring"
Richard Swift - "Would You"
Ola Podrida - "Instead"
Luke Winslow-King - "Our Yes"
Richard Hawley - "Love Of My Life"
Phil Elverum & Julie Doiron - "You Swan Go On"
Bonnie "Prince" Billy - "Even If Love (Film Version)"
Young Marble Giants - "Searching For Mr. Right"

Film: Lásky Jedné Plavovlásky

To Long, Too Long
Published: July 27, 2008 | | Submit An Inquiry


Dear Chivalry,

     How do people manage these long distance relationships? The longing hurts so bad, invades my dreams, distracts my days, brings me down. I fight going with the flow and being stubborn in the stream.  For years I've tried to be happy where I am and find companionship, like my produce, locally. The truth is simply that my heart, and my fortune-filled career that allows frequent flights into my love's arms, are too far away. I don't want to settle for what's near and this heartache is too unpleasantly unsettling. Can you help plug this hole that my love leaves in his absence?

Lost and Longing Lady

Dear Lost and Longing Lady,

     There is no quick and easy cure for the loneliness caused by absence, but there are a few things that may help ease the pain.  You can start by looking to your close friends for companionship, take this time to nurture the relationships with those around you and enjoy their uninterrupted company.  However, beware of those who may see your boyfriend being away as an "opportunity".  Not to stereotype, but the tendencies of those who are "near" can create situations that will test your will power and ultimately make things a great deal more difficult.  Just something to keep in mind.  Another device that I've always found comfort in is the simple act of making things for others.  Focusing on small projects that aim to bring happiness to the one you're with always helped me to deal with time apart, or at least made that time feel more productive.  And after all, what's better than giving a gift to someone after they've been away?  

     The one over-riding positive that comes from separation would most obviously be when the waiting is finally over.  The anticipation and build up that precedes the day when you are together again can provide a feeling unlike anything else.  All the time spent apart can melt away in that single moment of your first embrace.  It's said that you can not fully appreciate something until you have to be without it.  So at its best, distance can provide a learning experience that shows you how strong your feelings really are.  Staying true and focusing on the day of your reunion will help see you through these desolate times.

     Stay strong.

Signed,

Chivalry  
Recommendations.

Playlist:

Books, The - "A Little Longing Goes Away"
Electrelane - "To The East"
Jib Kidder - "Dark Summer"
Little Wings - "Gone Again"
Kat Cosm, The - "My Letter of Fate, I Write For You Tonight"
Kings of Convenience - "The Build Up"
Mount Analog ft. Karl Blau - "That's How I Got To Memphis"
Will Oldham - "Patience"
Tren Brothers  - "Gone Away"
Penguin Café Orchestra - "The Sound Of Someone You Love Who's Going Away..."

Film: Un Long Dimanche de Fiançailles

Bring The Light
Published: July 16, 2008 | | Submit An Inquiry


Dear Chivalry,

     The pain of the old always interferes with the hope of the new... How do I get rid of my grudges, fears, and false desires?  So that I can metamorphose... become something beautiful?

Truly,

Anomaly

Dear Anomaly,

     "Don't fight the darkness, bring the light and the darkness will disappear."

     - M.M.Y.

Signed,

Chivalry
Recommendations.

Playlist:

Vaclav Nelhybel - "Dark Cosmic Clouds"
Takagi Masakatsu - "Light Song"
P:ano - "Dark Hills"
Smog - "A Guiding Light"
Elvis Costello & Burt Bacharach - "In The Darkest Place"
Hisato Higuchi - "A Hundred Signs Of Light"
Dirty Projectors - "Darkened Car"
Felicia Atkinson & Sylvain Chauveau - "How The Light"
Phosphorescent  - "Be Dark Night"
Ink Spots, The - "I'm Beginning To See The Light"

Film:  The Light In The Dark 

Game: Archon - The Light and the Dark

Beyond The Meet And Greet
Published: July 13, 2008 | | Submit An Inquiry



Dear Chivalry,

     I've recently found myself in a wonderful relationship with a girl who is, by all standards of normalcy, rather unconventional.  This is probably the reason I am so drawn to her.  We're
actually an interesting couple, and hardly ever questioned by those around us. We have fun, and are very passionate with each other.  However, we are currently separated over the summer due to living arrangements.  We have mutually agreed to maintain this over the summer, and as far as I can tell, no feelings have truly been lost.  My problem however lies in my own mind.

     I can't help but shake the feeling that I'm with this girl for bad reasons, like the fact that maybe she is the best I can do, or if I let her go, I will be alone forever.  On top of this, I have a picture of my own as to what my ideal woman was going to end up being.  My girlfriend makes me very happy, and the more I think about her, the more positive characteristics I find, but I still am left wondering if maybe I'm fighting too hard for something that isn't everything I would hope it can be...

     So... I ask: Would the right thing to do be to throw a beautiful working relationship into disarray by openly talking about some very dangerous feelings, or to give her time to prove that the good that I see in her is everything I make it out to be?  Could all of this thought merely be a symptom of my temporary separation and loneliness?

Sincerely,

Confused and Scared

Dear Confused and Scared,

      There are many things about your letter worth discussing, but in the interest of keeping things relatively brief, I think we should try to focus on the idea of the "ideal".  I'm sure you can agree that part of growing up and being in a meaningful and mature relationship is realizing that whatever picture you have of your "ideal" person is most likely never going to happen.  When you find the right person it's rarely the case that they are exactly who you had in mind.  You might find yourself head over heels for someone who you'd never envisioned for yourself, and that's completely exciting.  The real danger here is that you can spend your whole life trying to find that one perfect person and ultimately end up where you started.  On the other hand, it's not to say that you should settle for a relationship that isn't fulfilling your needs.  Complacency is a dangerous attitude and can sometimes lead to a lifetime of unhappiness.  Do you really want to make decisions based on fear of being alone?  I think you know this is irrational, but I understand how it can play a role in your thinking.  Finding your one and only is such a game of chance, so it's easy to feel you might never meet someone again.

      To answer your first question, which seems to be should you share your concerns with your girlfriend.  I would say yes, after you've taken a little more time to think things over, you should.  It's unfortunate that you are not in the same place right now, because these are difficult things to talk about over the phone or internet, so try to wait for the appropriate moment and be as patient as you can.  Perhaps you can pose the same question to her, does she have her own picture of her "ideal" man?  Maybe she's feeling the same way.  It's important to feel like you can share your feelings because after a while it can become dangerous to let these things tumble around in your head and grow into worse problems.  Now, with respect to your question of this all being a symptom of loneliness, there is something worth mentioning here.  Basically, time apart can do one of two things:  It can show you what it's like to truly miss someone, or sometimes it can send you in the other direction.  If this girl is fun and unconventional and makes you feel good, then you really shouldn't be stressing. You should be beside yourself and counting the moments until you see her again.  It does sound like you care about this girl quite a bit especially when you say the more you think of her the more you find that you like.  Then keep thinking about her!  It's important to be open to the fact that your definition of "ideal" can evolve over time.

      In closing, I have to be honest and tell you that I can empathize with you on this more than you know.  I've felt this way more times then I would like to admit, and I know how hard it is to be in this position.  Fear and doubt are completely normal feelings when you're unsure of
such an important thing, and it's hard to admit when you're scared and confused about being in a relationship.  I have no absolute answer for you here, it's not a black and white issue in the least.  But I hope you can be patient and take the time to look at your own feelings first
and then approach your situation in a thoughtful and mature manner before possibly throwing away a good thing.  As a general rule I would say that it's important to work and try to understand the relationship you are in, not the one you might be in someday. 

      Thank you for your letter and good luck.

Signed,

Chivalry
Recommendations.

Playlist:

Talons' - "F*** Everything"
Bronze Float - "Talks To Dust"
City Center - "Gold Girls"
Walkmen, The - "Another One Goes By"
Hi-Lo - "Alaron"
El Perro Del Mar - "This Loneliness"
Rand & Holland - "Let Me Down Gently"
Taken By Trees - "Make 1, 2"
Antony & The Johnsons  - "Mysteries of Love"
Grouper - "When We Fall"

Film: The Unbearable Lightness of Being

An Example
Published: July 7, 2008 | | Submit An Inquiry


Dear Bonny,

     How do you deal with the lonely times?

Patrick

Dear Patrick,

     At this point in my life, I am rarely lonely. This is new for me. I am 38 years old, and it took me a good 36 or 37 years to enjoy my own company and to enjoy fully the quietness of that state. Prior to recent times, being alone meant being scared, and I would deal with it through reading, drinking, or enjoying the proxy companionship that movie-watching provides. Or writing, or running scared. Sometimes doing objectively horrible things! But those days are not here for now. As easy at it is to deny or forget, doing maintenance was always the best way of dealing with the lonely times. Weeding, sweeping, responding to letters. Things that, unfortunately do not give immediate visceral satisfaction. Still, when the tasks were done, I would feel happier, and the time for sleep, and dreaming, would be closer at hand.

Bonny

"Bonny" is singer / songwriter / actor Will Oldham.  He recently released his seventh studio album under the name Bonnie "Prince" Billy entitled: Lie Down In The Light.  We sincerely thank him for his advice.
Recommendations.

Buy his music here.