A song about nothing - and all the better for it.
A pet theory of mine is that Flans struggles at times with new subject matter for songs on the non kid songs. Who cares, when he can write stream of consciousness stuff like In Fact. Circa Lincoln, many fans used to struggle telling which John was singing what, but Flans has now moved into a new distinct style of singing and phrasing. This left field stuff is where he's at he's best. (Mr Tuck)
Indulge me as I project my situation on these lyrics.
Sometimes we go through a sea change in our personal philosophy which leaves us floundering for a while as we try to establish our new schema for understanding the world. The adherents of the old philosophy with whom we associated are not sympathetic.
Verse 1: I have a recently improved understanding and I'm tearing apart the old ideas that I was so invested in. I'm making good progress, but it's not straightforward and simple. There was truth in the old stuff too and I'm trying to apply discernment between the baby and the bathwater. Which often calls for more wisdom than I can access.
Verse 2: I haven't got the new thing all figured out. If you question me too closely I won't have my own answers ready and I'll crib off of the book, podcast, or whatever launched me in this new direction. And we will both know that response is unsatisfying.
Bridge 1: A fundamental part of my world view has changed and a lot of the more limited ideas and standard interactions you associate with me that were supported by the old model have, in the short term (i hope), been replaced with unexamined stand-ins. I don't mean to be the person I seem to be at the moment.
Verse 3: So, yes I was trying to avoid bringing this up. You don't usually talk about your philosophy and we run in different circles anyway, so what is it to you? I'm sorry, I don't mean to be combative, I'm just not ready for this.
Verse 4: Can we stop the interrogation now? I need a little more space and sympathy to figure out who I am becoming. I'm not solid enough to argue.
Bridge 2: Oh crap, now you're staging an intervention? That's not who I am anymore!
Bad intonation - unusual for TMBG
The words in the lines "mess ON the LOOSE," "that you don't plaaay... a lot," and "with pitchforks and torches, now" are strangely pronounced, like the words didn't belong there. A total miss for me.
Being Your Own Worst Enemy
This is another song about feeling like a loser on the inside, and realizing that even when things are going well we still can't stop sowing seeds of self-destruction ("dismantling my chances", "tripwires to finesse.") I think the part about asking for an extension is touching a common chord of school-related feelings of inadequacy...never feeling prepared enough, never ready to face the challenge of an exam.
The stanzas that start with "In fact it's messier still" show how our problems often become inflated in our own mind to epic proportions, until the mess we're in seems to have a life of its own and is out to get us. The mess here is comically portrayed as a mob dressed in dungarees with pitchforks and torches. They also seem to have discovered some embarrassing fact from the past ("they have your old ID"). Ultimately, the narrator feels that the best he can hope for is to have a softer spot to land when he inevitably crashes.
The narrator describes himself; "I'm a mess" as a horrible person, knows he isn't right, and that he can't handle tests, or challenges, in fact; "Now I ain't right if there's a test tonight, I will ask for an exstention". He's obviously insane, hence this song is basically all about how he hates himself, and he has his past self's ID, and that unmistakably, his past self was better.
Nine Secret Steps
If you arrange the lyrics backwards (like in the bridge to I Palmiderm I), I believe you get the lyrics to Nine Secret Steps. I have not tried this tho.