Blogging 3.0: The Obligatory Resolution Post

In an attempt to make myself write regularly (I seem to do this all too often), I’ve set up the most self-serving challenge that I could think of for myself: do one thing for me every day.  This was inspired by my massage therapist (!) and that communal meeting I regularly attend.  Because active alcoholism (sidenote:  3 years sober on 12/28/13.  Yay!), I am a champion of constructing ridiculous rules for myself, so I thought I’d revisit that old and relatively harmless (albeit funny) quirk. So, the “thing” must be at least 10 minutes in length, is primarily for me (but can help others in the process), and I cannot judge the thing as selfish, etc (even if it totally is). It cannot hurt others (making sure I don’t use this to talk myself out of things will be…fun). It simply is/will be.  Cheap (as in, no cost) is better, but spending on thing is permissible (that said, it need not turn into shopping as therapy). Writing these updates does not count. Meditation doesn’t count b/c that’s a “supposed to,” as are the various forms of therapy that I engage in to make me an easier person to be around.  You’re welcome.

So, on Jan. 1, I got a hot stone massage.  I have recently returned to massage therapy to try to undo some significant damage I’ve done to myself over the last year of not doing massage therapy (my shoulders were residing somewhere in the vicinity of my temples).  Such therapy has the benefit of making me a generally easier person to be around.  You’re welcome.  But, I’ve never had a hot stone massage, and it did seem an interesting way to begin 2014 (especially given what 2013 was departing with), and it was definitely a groovy experience that I likely won’t do again (at least this year).

Today will be a touch harder.  I am working from home owing to what 2013 gifted me there at the end (yay, asthma), so whatever it is has to be here, which is fine, but I am presently baffled.  Surely I can manage to come up with something for today.  It’s only the second day of this…

 

Sanity

I’ve been sober 981 days today.  I’ve  been sane for considerably fewer.  I’d be hard-pressed to say when it starting getting better, but if forced, I’d pick when I started meds–though it was months before anything resembling sanity took hold.  So, maybe not January 18.  Let’s go with the day I ran the Portland half-marathon: May 19, 2013. Why?  Because I can.  I had recently increased to a dosage I’ve remained at since. And because I ran the fucking race dressed as Wonder Woman.

Ok, so maybe that isn’t my best example of sanity…but, it’s a date, and it was 108 days ago.  If we had chips to mark our time in sanity, I’d have three.

Go me.

My birthday (the natal one, not the sober one) is typically the herald of a fall decline. I probably first noticed that in these pages.  I was nearly always melancholy at my birthday.  Is this normal?  I’ve no idea.  I know I am not alone in this, but I’ve no idea how “normal” it is–especially unlinked from a fear of getting older.  Surprised?  Yes.  Afraid? No.

The shorter days play hell with my moods, and this is the first year I’ve known why, though the diagnosis we were working with last December, when I last bothered to write here, was modified around that same time to Bipolar I (I go for the big dogs, thank you)–additional proof that I am batshit crazy.   That I am aware of the “why” doesn’t really change the likelihood of an impending depression (and, in fact, I can say with some confidence that said depression is knocking on the proverbial door), but at least I can see it coming and know what it is.  Whether I can do anything other than–as a friend says–lay on the floor and be sane and sober–is another matter entirely.

If that is all I got that day, that’s all I got.  Feel free to wave.

Traditionally, I run the Virginia Beach half-marathon on Labor Day.  I missed it this year because, in my efforts to stave off the arrival of my annual fall depressive cycle (which needs a name.  Suggestions are welcome), I overtrained and screwed up my Achilles’ tendon.

Again, go me.  Spring: run half-marathon at PR.  Fall: yeah, well…you know.  And not being able to run plays additional hell with my moods. (Clarification for those who have to live, work, or otherwise deal with me: I’ve got this covered.  Not running, but I do have something.)

ImageI’d kind of like to imagine that 38 will be some sort of majestic improvement over 37.  I mean, the tail end of 37 did involve an amazing and excellent new album from him and his gang–>.

And, in related news, 38 will involve more fabulous live shows (complete with top-notch spectacle–screw Aristotle and his “less artistic”.  Spectacle is amazing, necessary, and Avenged does it with unabashed style and excitement). 37 did provide two–such as the one to the right and the day in Montreal that followed.  Heavy MTL was just…let me put it this way, when I say my feet were not in contact with the ground–that I was floating–during Avenged Sevenfold’s show, I am not being hyperbolic.  I really was not in contact with the ground for most of that show.  A terribly impressive pit, that one.

But, for whatever challenges 37 dished out–and it did, with ferocity, the year wasn’t exactly a failure, and I have to remember that–I did finally find out what was “wrong”.  37 brought me adventures with great friends in scattered places, Disneyland and glitter ears, and Foofighters & Pearl Jam & Duff.  I spent nearly 5 weeks total on the west coast, and most of that time was bathed in sunlight.  I short, I’ve been around long enough to know that expecting up, down, or stable is unreasonable.  38 will be what it will be.

It just might have a few more pits (the ones at live shows, not the ones in a Poe short story) in it.  And that, my friends, is the best sanity-inducer my money can buy.

Thank you, thank you, thank you–for all of you.

Two and Still Counting

Well, I sort of don’t believe that I made it to two, having hit one so many times before. But, here it is. When I started drafting this yesterday, I was of a far different mood than I am presently. But, I want to be true to what was real yesterday (absolute gratitude) because it still is true today, if rather masked by depression. Which sucks, but no one ever said that life got easy in sobriety, either. I’m weaving the two days together–I hope somewhat seamlessly.

So, if I may quote Volbeat in passing:

Counting all the assholes in the room
Well I´m definitely not alone, well I´m not alone

And that is perhaps the best thing about 2–the realization and recognition that I am not alone. Kind of beautiful.

The year has not been an easy one, certainly. It was filled with a great many troubles that I NEVER imagined, and more than a few that I suspected, but was a little dismayed and surprised to have them show up now. These revelations included major depression (not mine, but someone I dearly love), a radical and still-coming transition at work (including a campus move for me–ah, change. I handle that so well), more therapy and therapists than you can shake a stick at, and twin diagnoses (mine) of chronic fatigue (no surprise) and bipolar II (not a surprise, either, exactly, but I’m still working on that whole acceptance thing). And, on the upside, I am grateful beyond measure to all the people who reached out to me or who were there when I reached out through all of the above.

I am not alone, even when I feel like I am.

I was, for the most part, a solitary drinker. Social drinking ended for me at approximately my first drink, which, if my mother is to be believed, happened when I was about 6 months old. Thereafter I demanded–by her telling–demanded wine every time she had any. Mine! I was solitary in most adventures, and that remains true in many cases now, but not as much as before. Even when I venture off alone.

I am not alone anymore, even when I set off that way.

I traveled this year, rather more than I imagined I would (and all the more surprisingly, given the events of the year). Flew to such far flung places as a casino in Connecticut, an old airfield in New Jersey, to home in Virginia Beach, to a teen dream-come-true in Cleveland, and to a beach in Ireland. Several of these adventures saw me flying by myself. But, in Atlantic City, I met an elderly Irish man who was convinced I used to come to that restaurant all the time, a young woman who gave me an A7X bracelet because she saw my Matt-bat tattoo, and scores of folks who asked about the shiner I’d acquired at that casino during an Avenged show. In Cleveland, I celebrated Guns N’ Roses with some of my favorite people, and managed to thwart the (other) GNR fans lined up outside the hotel by leaving the van running and piling in the signed posters with as much dignity as Janean and I are capable of possessing (which is a fair amount, it turns out). In Virginia Beach, I ran what may turn out to be the worst and last half-marathon of my life, but I enjoyed every second of it. In Ireland, I got to visit a site I’d long intended to see–and, what’s more–unknowingly selected a hotel that was in sight of it.

Not the day I put my feet in the North Atlantic.

Not the day I put my feet in the North Atlantic.

I also got to put my bare feet in the North Atlantic, which amuses me more that I probably should admit.

Not alone, even in the struggles.

Work constituted a major part of my year–as we prepared for the consolidation of the institution with another. It came as a shock to most of us that we even had to do it, and I think the work-level in preparation for it came as a shock continually throughout the year. But, we were together in it, and we will forge the new togethers. One day at a time. The impending changes did force me to kickstart productive research again (that’s a positive), and I find myself composing a paper on punk, nostalgia, and anxiety. Sort of oddly fun. Academics are weird.

So, that’s it. A year in brief. Here’s to another day and another series of days that may bring us to another year. My thanks to you all for traveling these roads with me.

The Halcyon Days of Candy Canes

The adventures in limited foods continue apace, including a rather pitiful realization that candy canes are now verboten.  CANDY CANES.  Somehow both dramatic and terribly funny.  As a result, this unrepentant lover o’candy canes is on the hunt to find the how-can-I-have-December-without-them treats in a non-corn syrup variety.

And hope like heck the taste is worth it (I  have faith).

Last week turned into an adventure in “what, this too??” With respect to both food and “food” (such as non-stick spray) items.  Everywhere I turned in my diet, one of the blacklisted entities would show up–most commonly corn and soy.  Our typical Thanksgiving dinner was…necessarily modified (I still served wheat rolls, but I clearly didn’t eat them or the butter they demand).  I called a friend for help in determining what in the world to eat for breakfast, and after lamenting the egg-less existence, she brilliantly pointed out that it was easier to just think morning dinner, rather than remaining stuck in my apparently limited vision of what constitutes breakfast.  Or, as another friend put it: “did you eat cold pizza for breakfast in college?  Then what’s the problem here?” My friends, they got my back.  So, yesterday was Acorn Squash & Homemade Sausage (store-bought that we typically get has corn syrup–I’ve not yet evaluated others).  Other options will be Brussels Sprouts & Bacon (the concept of which delights me to no end).  Another morning adventure was the every-other-day-smoothie with blackberries and bananas (and spinach.  Awesome).

More amusingly, I realized this week that it was easier to cook after a long day than it was to figure out where in the world I an eat out (waaay too much brainpower needed.  Brainpower, which notably, is really lacking after 6:50 pm, which is why we kept defaulting to going out in the first place).

So, all three meals are lovingly prepared each day. A process which is not unlike the hell I put myself through when I was avoiding writing my dissertation, only I’m not eyeing the baseboards for deep cleaning and it feels rather more productive.  I was June Cleaver with a full-time job and a minivan, dammit.  Thank the powers that be that the minivan is gone (I never could live up to that ideal) and that the job has survived me.

In non-candy cane related news, I can report that I slept–like really slept–the other night.  I feel asleep quickly and stayed that way in what must be that thing you non-insomniacs call deep sleep.  Astounding.  Utterly astounding.  I assume, since I did nothing physical to warrant such things, that the Magnesium that has been ordered (by the same doc who cut me off from candy canes) is doing it’s thing and helping.

If you happen to have  a lead on candy-canes that I can eat (not that I’m obsessing or anything), please let me know.

Gimmie a Pepsi, Just One Pepsi!

I probably should be careful about titles.  Any more “gimmie”s and I’ll be over with Darby Crash, and, yeah, the namecheck is disturbing to me too.  But, as my punk aficionados are no doubt already aware, there is a reason for the Pepsi-ness here.

“Institutionalized” was before my time–sort of.  How about before my punk time?  I’ve been trying to remember when I first crossed paths with ST–I’m fairly certain that it was during the “How Will I Laugh Tomorrow…” period, though the first image that stands out for me is this one, from “You Can’t Bring Me Down.”  I do recall that my first complete recording of ST was “How Will I Laugh,” and it was a copy dubbed off a CD (I think) by my best friend CR, shortly before some hideous teen falling out or another.  I listened to that tape until it’s untimely demise at the hands (?) of my mother’s Pontiac.

Ah, the good old days.

I never really expected to see ST live, though I wanted to, so I was delighted to see them on the Orion lineup last weekend.  I swear–barring the dude’s arm in the way–does it get more Mike Muir than this?  Dude has so fucking much energy.

******

I started this post in July–and then didn’t write another word.  And not writing, as I’ve shared before, is not a great sign for me.  I kept hearing that truth in different ways, but last night a friend’s pain drove it home.

Write or die.  Get the words out of my head and in front of my eyes or they remain shadows that can be dismissed.  I recognize how dramatic that sounds, but it is as accurate as I know how to be.

I’ve rearranged my title again–couldn’t let go of the truth of the disease, and particularly in light of the recent news of a new non-pathology (I love when the stuff in my head gets named! /snark) and the continuing struggles with chronic fatigue and its assorted foolishness.  But it’s beautiful, dammit.

I know I’m sick again/who’s gonna be my friend when I freak out?”

So back to the navel-gazing.  And, as an act of contrition (and also truth, since I tend to forget how bad things get.  I do the euphoric recall thing about everything), I’m going to make myself record my most recent disease-borne adventure in food, having been recently ordered to exclude:

  • Dairy (allergic)
  • Wheat (sensitive)
  • Corn
  • Oats
  • Soy
  • Eggs

Which left me wondering what I can still eat.  Seriously.  What do I eat for breakfast, having lived on oatmeal?  And is this the excuse to eat Brussels sprouts more often, to my family’s great horror? I’m also very, very grateful again to Isa Chandra Moskowitz and the Post-Punk Kitchen, where I’ve been getting my Gluten-free recipe suggestions for a while now (vegan cooking allows me to not worry about at least two of the above).

One thing is certain, Pepsi is not on the list of consumables.

Does that destroy any punk cred I might have had?

[ST was awesome, of course, BTW.  Fucking awesome.  As was Avenged, but that's a story for another day.]

The Future in Falafel

Working on a post about Suicidal Tendencies and the wonder of Mike Muir, but I have to ask this first.  When did this wonder of wonder happen at rock shows?   I can’t say I’ve ever actually enjoyed eating at such an event, but this falafel and veggie wrap was DIVINE.  And not just because I was hungry post-pit.

Strikes me as a good sign, you know?

Truthfully, I shouldn’t really attempt to comment on food at shows (festival or otherwise), since it is entirely possible that this is the first such show that I have ever attempted to eat at–or given myself the time to walk away from the crowd and chaos to eat.  Imagine that–substance over stimulation. I’ve seen what backstage food can amount to–and rider requests demands really can be things of wonder. Though, especially in the age of the internetz, how much of that is meant just to spin up the fanbase is anyone’s guess…Red Vines, indeed, sir. Indeed.

My next festival is Mayhem, later this month.  I’m having a very difficult time imagining the breadth of cuisine availability that was at Orion, and I’m not sure I am prepared to commit to trying concert food just because it’s there (in fact, that seems sort of dangerous).   The lineup is sufficiently old school to suggest greater possibilities: Slayer, Anthrax, & Motörhead, in addition to Slipknot.  They will be joined by a host of others bands, many of whom will no doubt be on the “young and hungry band on a dollar a day” meal plan (ah, summer festivals).

I’d technically be behind in doing a rock show food summer showcase in any case, since I did not eat at the casino in CT, where I caught A7X before Orion (a show that, weirdly, probably saved my job, as I was in the one place that neither my mouth nor my reactions could get me in trouble during the phone conference–phone was on mute, and yelling might have gotten me booted, so I was as professional as was required to ensure that I got to see my band, rather than, say, actually professional on the matter).  And the casino had Krispy Kreme, so that set a pretty unique bar right there, along with the Swarovski shop that (while also selling wholly inedible items) just sort of freaked me out.

But, summer rock show food could totally be an adventure.

Right?

Gimme Fuel, Gimme Fire

A Klee painting named ‘Angelus Novus’ shows an angel looking as though he is about to move away from something he is fixedly contemplating. His eyes are staring, his mouth is open, his wings are spread. This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing in from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such a violence that the angel can no longer close them. The storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress. (Benjamin, Theses IX)

Much of this blog has been devoted to backwards–to history as the storm of progress blows ever forward.  Yes, I think I did just compare myself to the Angel above–twisted, backward starting, open-jawed complex that it is (Klee’s painting can be seen here).  I’ve always thought it looked more than a touch avian, perhaps more so than an angel “ought” to be.  Avian Medusa, at that.  I’ve decided that I want to turn around a bit–stop gazing at the pile of wreckage (though undoubtedly not forgetting it) and move into a future that I cannot see and certainly cannot control.

Life has changed radically since last I posted here, and, with the exception of fangirl (and, in truth, even that has had to reshape itself), each of my most-used masks–mother, wife, professor/admin, daughter–has been called to court.  After a very difficult year, Tough Guy has successfully graduated and moved out on his own (I have a lovely grandog now)–motherhood is a very changed art these days.  My professional life is…unclear on the best of days; through forces utterly out of my control (as if they were ever in it), everything at work is changing.  I have a job, thankfully, but I don’t know from day to day what it will be, require, demand, or steal anymore (and while this is necessarily vague, it is not, for once, a matter of being dramatic).

And so on and so forth.

As a matter of self-protection, I’ve locked some of my most private posts, and have pulled the majority of those that remain open and deal with alcoholism under the old title of this blog, Beautiful Disease, which chronicled much of the aforementioned wreckage.  Pieces I use primarily for classes are grouped as Everything is Academic. I’ll still lead my students here–as before, I will not shy away from the facets of my identity that bore this blog–as a matter of survival even–but also because alcoholism is a defining feature of my past, present, and, as likely, future.  What I’d like to do is use this space as a vehicle for finding my way through dreams and aspirations–maybe even a place to grow up (though, uh, I sort of doubt that).

So, the title: this dawned on me while standing at Orion Festival last weekend, in a wildly mobile pit waiting for Avenged Sevenfold to hit the stage (I think I’d kicked it around before, but it felt right in the moment).  It’s true–had I my druthers–I’d be a roadie.  Why?  Part of the shitpile of my history is music.  I am not much a musician–I surrendered playing music to my mother, who ridiculed my voice, and I worried that she’d do the same with any other musical language (and, in fact, that fear was borne out), even though I had wonderful friends who offered to help teach me. I channeled my adoration of music through dance in my earlier years and through the pits in my later years (and, er, current ones.  I have a shiner as we speak from a FABULOUS pit last Friday night).  I channeled by becoming a fangirl.

It’s also an homage to Berkley Breathed’s Penguin Dreams and Stranger Things, which had almost as much of a shaping effect on my life as his Billy and The Boingers Bootleg.

Bill and Opus, man.  All the way.

But, I love shows.  I love the trappings of shows (I love that I typed shoes twice before getting the word correct as well).  Pyro, smoke, stairs, lights, cords (and chords, ahem), you name it.  But, what I really adore about being a roadie (at least in my idealized vision) is the thing that I only rarely get to touch at work anymore, but the one thing about which I am most passionate: creating the space for creativity to unfold and be shared.  In those spaces, I can touch justice in the universe.  I don’t know why, don’t really care why–I just know it happens.

That is what I want out of life–to create, protect, and maintain creative space.  So, this is my space to do that–my own creative outlet, pointers to the outlets of others–whether musical, textual, or otherwise.  A space devoted to creative energies moving forward. I’ll be honest, even when it feels like I’m jumping off a cliff.

If asked today what I wanted to be able to do someday–when I grow up?  Tech work, sure, but I’d love to write a bio of Avenged Sevenfold (nobody could possibly be surprised by this).  Why? I am absolutely fascinated by the ways in which they have (mostly successfully) controlled messages about who and why they are–while managing to remain apparently authentic (and done so through their stage show, at that).  I’m curious about the hows and whys–how Zacky manages to manipulate and control his image again and again (and in such ways that make the fangirls–and boys–swoon).  Is he even aware of how good he is at his own PR (surely he is)? How they have shaped their image–collectively and individually–and how they look to continue to do so musically, visually, and textually.  And, yeah, I owe them something–a thank you, mostly.  They created a space in which a miracle could happen, even for me. A miracle on Bader Field; who would have imagined (I’ll try to recount it sometime, but right now, I”m just savoring it)?  And moreover, why?  Why the hell not?

Yeah, theorizing favorite bands is like a sport to me.  Been doing it since GnR.  Probably won’t stop soon.  And, at least at the moment, I’m thinking I’ll use the space to flex my theory-brain…break out the old Benjamin and see what happens when I let that fangirl mojo back out of the cage.

Work-in-progress, game, survival, creative spirit, fun.  Hope to keep some of you along for the ride.