Hannah Recommends: “Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying” by Fall Out Boy

High school sucks, but it never sucked more than the four years I attended. Because of course something is so sharp and raw and real when it’s your high school, when things suck for you, and that pain stays fresh, some sharp point lodged beneath your ribs. I wondered how I could go through four years bleeding, and what I would possibly do with my life when high school was over.

No one understood me, I thought, and that was sharp, too. I didn’t really understand myself. I retreated into my books and my music, and there was one album I nearly wore away listening to over and over and over again. I love it now, still, more than a decade later. Maybe it’s not the greatest look to be my age and ride or die for Fall Out Boy, but I think about the sixteen year old I was and how much it meant to her, how much it helped someone so lost and scared and hurting. So I have From Under the Cork Tree on my phone, always at my fingertips, and sometimes when I’m sad, when I need a hit of nostalgia, I’ll listen to it over again.

I spent a lot of time as a teenager hiding from people. More than just hiding from people, hiding from the whole world — sitting wedged in a corner in my bedroom, crying in bathrooms, standing alone in a spot right at the edge of the woods where the trees thickened and the ground sloped gently downward. I’d sink down onto the ground in the wet slide of dead leaves, and slip two fingers under the thin blue elastic on my arm and pull it back. There was so much space between that hair tie and the sensitive skin of my wrist. I know this hurts, Patrick Stump sings, sharp and plaintive and strong. I let the band go. And that’s sharp, too, a sting against the narrow bands of my blood right underneath that papery white skin. It was meant to.

(Song recommendation by Hannah Madonna)