Saturday, October 25, 2014

Notes On A Concert

Note: This was taken before the concert started

I went to see Phillip Phillip in concert last night and I learned a few things:

1. Apparently I have a thing for white guys with acoustic guitars (but I think I already knew that)

2. My post concussion brain does not like strobe lights

3. Technology is a double edged sword.

Without reality TV and "vote via text message", I wouldn't know who Phillip Phillips is, but the level to which people are distracted by technology in their daily lives is disconcerting. The crowd was full of lit phone screens. The concert was going full blast and all around me, people were taking selfies, recording videos and even Facebooking! When the woman seated behind me wanted me to sit down because she was recording the song I was dancing to, I considered screaming into her lens "BE HERE NOW!" How dare she interrupt my joyful experience? I took one giant step to the right and kept dancing. I thought How can all these people be here in this amazing moment and be focused elsewhere? and then I realized that I was focusing elsewhere by thinking about all these other people! It sure is distracting, all the camera flashes and glowing screens. While I was dancing, singing and clapping, there were four people standing in front of me, holding their phones perfectly still with both hands, not making a sound. What I want to know is when in the world are they ever going to watch that video? Oh well, when they do, they'll hear my loud, out of pitch voice singing along to every song!

4. Those of us who go to a concert because we are familiar with the artist and truly appreciate his music  are few and far between.

There was a white haired grandma type lady behind me as we exited the arena. She was complaining because she only knew two of the songs Phillip played and "he just had to wait til the very end" to play his most popular song, Home. I should have responded to her: Well, that's what an encore is. Also, you know why I  knew every song? Because I bought his albums and I listen to them regularly because I genuinely enjoy his music! What a concept! I wonder why that woman was there? Maybe as a gift to a granddaughter she loves?

I've certainly been to concerts where I didn't know any of the artist's original songs but I've never complained about it. That's part of loving music and that's some of the point of an opening act, to expose you to music you've never heard before. I've discovered a lot of great artists that way.

5. I do not belong seated in the stands. I belong in that crazy, screaming, pulsing mass of humanity in front of the stage.

When I bought my ticket to this concert, months ago,  I was still suffering from some significant concussion symptoms. I wasn't even sure I'd be able to go and I figured if I did, I probably shouldn't be close to the speakers and would need to be able to sit down, so I bought seat tickets instead of general admission. I only stood up to dance for four songs, which practically broke my concert loving heart!

Music is one of the things I'm most passionate about, and going to see live music is one of my favorite things in the entire world. I've never made a list (although now I'm going to!) but I'm sure that I've easily been to over 100 concerts in my life. It's food for my soul. A Dave Matthews Band concert is my personal equivalent of going to church. I understand that's not common and I certainly don't expect all the other concert attendees to have the same enthusiasm for the experience that I do. I guess I just don't understand the concept of spending so much money on a concert ticket if you aren't fully committed to the experience. The same goes for people who get so drunk or high that they have no idea what song is playing. I've never understood that either.

I don't want to impose on anyone else's experience with my singing and dancing but I think I have a right to be doing it. I've paid good money for my own little space in that venue and I should be able to use it to enjoy the music however I see fit, as long as I'm not hurting anyone else. If I annoy you, well... I'm sorry but I'm not really sorry.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Rolling Forward

This weekend marked three months since my concussion.

According to the neuro rehab specialist I've been seeing, I've officially crept into the unfortunate 15% of people for whom Post Concussion Syndrome doesn't resolve within 90 days. I'd like to say I'm almost normal but really, what is normal?

My life is very different than it was three months ago. Instead of skating 6 hours or more per week, I'm thrilled to now be able to use my elliptical machine for 30-40 minutes at a time. I've even advanced to the point where I can handle listening to music with my ear bud. Hurray for progress!

In the months since my injury, I've suffered not only the concussion but a heat stroke, food poisoning, three full blown migraines (when I typically have 1-2 per year) and a serious cold that knocked me down for almost two weeks. Also, one of my cats died and I had a birthday. Life continues to happen regardless of the fact that I feel unequipped to handle it.

But I do handle it. I don't have any other choice. And then I think Woah, look at me. I handled that shit like a boss.

Since it's only been within the last three weeks or so that I've started to feel like my old self again, it's only now starting to set in for me that I won't be returning to roller derby. Obviously I've known that all along but I don't think my brain had the capacity to process the information and allow me to truly feel it until now.

There are some things about derby that I miss terribly. I miss my friends, my teammates that supported me through my roller coaster of a derby career. I miss using my body to it's fullest abilities, feeling strong and tired and sore after bout. And there are things I don't miss at all, like practicing til 10 o'clock at night and off skates obligations. Like anything else, derby has pros and cons. It just so happens that the biggest con happens to be damaging my brain!

My eight year old niece has been asking me to teach her to roller skate since she moved to town in August. I am honored that she asked and the thought of teaching her something new makes me heart happy. But I was fairly nervous about getting back into my skates. I knew there'd be some emotional work as well as physical and I didn't want that to happen with her around.

I tied on my roller skates this morning for the first time since my ill fated last game. The urge to do so had grown so strong over the past few days that I couldn't resist it any longer. Since learning to skate was pretty difficult for me, I thought three months away from them would have set me back quite a bit. I was pleasantly surprised at how comfortable I felt rolling around my street (wearing a helmet of course!)

Me in my skates this morning

I bought brand new ice skates this summer for $10 at a yard sale. I'd been looking forward to using them until my injury and then I'd been picturing myself slamming my skull into the ice. But now I'm thinking of finding my niece a pair of ice skates as well and using this as an opportunity to spend time with her and move myself forward while still using my skills and getting a work out.

I'll probably still miss roller derby for a while yet. I'm planning to go next month to watch my first bout since my retirement. I'm curious to see how that makes me feel and I'm super excited to cheer on my friends who still play.

The Universe has a plan and a sense of humor. I'm learning to stop worrying so much about what might happen in the future because really, I don't have any control over that what so ever.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Digging Up Dirt

As of today, I'm half way through an eight week memoir writing class that I'm taking at a local writer's collective. I've wanted to take a class from Molly for the past three years but it each time she announced  her upcoming courses, something would come up to prevent me from enrolling; work, finances, life, you know how it is...

I got the email announcing this fall's courses within days of getting my concussion. At that point I was still struggling to sit up without feeling like I was going to puke and I was panicking at the thought of life without roller derby, without that social circle. The timing of this email was perfect in that it reminded me that there was so much I loved to do besides derby, things that I needed my brain to be functioning for!

So I signed up and crossed my fingers that by the time the class started in late September, my brain would be recovered enough that I could participate without feeling like a zombie!

During the very first session, I felt like my sternum had cracked open and my heart was pouring out (in a good way!) Finally, a place where I belong, where my desire to tell my stories is appreciated. Each week, I sit at the long unfinished wood table with five other writers as we complete free writing exercises and share what we come up with. It's incredible how much I can produce in six short minutes, given a prompt such as "Write about something you wanted but didn't get." Our pens scritch and scratch on our notebooks as we frantically try to get out all the thoughts that come flooding in the gate that the prompt has opened.

The exercises we do in class have tapped into experiences I've had that I'd forgotten about and memories I've tucked away in places I haven't wanted to go to again. There are some things I've always wanted to write about but have been afraid to: worried about what people will think of me, worried about the people who play roles in my stories-what if so and so finds out? But I've come to realize that what my hero David Sedaris so eloquently told me this summer is true, "Ramona, you're over thinking it."

So I've gone there. I've started digging in the dirt. I'm working on a piece about experiences from my childhood. Many of you who know me well may have never even heard these stories. I don't talk about my experiences much but I've come to realize they're a huge part of who I am. The reasons I don't want kids, why I'm afraid of getting re-married, why I have very little faith in our legal system. All of these things have do with my baggage, my junk that I carry around. By writing down my stories and sharing them with others, I'm unloading a little bit of my junk and making room for more!

It's amazing to me what it feels like to revisit some of these old places inside myself. Yesterday I was writing about the death of my childhood dog and I started to cry! Sometimes I have to get up from my desk because the air around it becomes heavy and clouded with memories.

I've been told that depression comes from living in the past, while anxiety comes from living in the future. I've spent the majority of my life bouncing back and forth between the two, missing the here and now. This is something I work on with my life coach and by having a gratitude practice.

So why then do I want to go back to the past with my writing? I've been asking myself that question a lot since this class has started. I've learned that we all ask ourselves these questions as writers: Why am I telling this story? What's the point of this? Who is going to want to read this? I certainly don't know the answers. What I do know is that I feel compelled to tell my stories. If one solitary person reads a story and relates to it or laughs at it, then I've made a change in the world and I'm happy with that.

I might never be a famous writer or blogger (or I might!) but I know that by just following through and doing what I feel so inspired to do, I'm setting an example for others. If I can do it, you can do it! No matter what that "it"is!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

No More Secrets

Thanks to my friend Melissa, I've recently fallen in love with a song called "Secrets" by Mary Lambert. I mean, I cannot stop listening to it. I guess it's been out for a while now but I had never heard it before she told me about it, which is cool because the timing is quite serendipitous for my life right now.

A couple weeks ago, I was out shopping with my good friend Sophie who always treats me to a pedicure and a trip to the mall for my birthday. While browsing in Hot Topic, I came across a pair of shoes that I'd seen there before but lacked the confidence to buy. Soph took one look at them and said "Those are so you. You have to buy them." There were two pairs left, one in my size so I slipped one on as gingerly as if I were Cinderella with a glass slipper. It fit! I held my foot up off the ground and wiggled it. "Do you really think I should buy these, even though I'm 36?" Her response was perfect, "I think you should buy them especially because you're 36. This is what I love about you." So I bought the shoes and haven't regretted it for a second!

Finding those shoes on that trip was perfect timing because only an hour earlier, while getting our toes done, I was telling Soph that I feel as if I've recently made a significant transformation into not caring so much as to what other people think about me.

When I hit my thirties, I became acutely aware of my "age inappropriateness" in that I was divorced, single and living alone in a relatively small town that I moved to just before I turned 30. I have a lot of tattoos and mostly male friends. Nothing there is anything to be ashamed of but when packed together and judged by others, it can feel otherwise.

I was raised that if you were leaving the house, you made sure your bra straps didn't show or your pants were "too tight" because those things were inappropriate and gave other people (meaning men) the impression that you were a certain type of girl. As I've aged and my body has changed, I've remained hyper aware of my appearance when I go out. It's not in a vain way, like do I look hot but that ever vague appropriateness.

Over the past few years, I had found myself looking at what I'm wearing when I leave the house (jeans with a DMB Tshirt and plaid Chucks) asking myself "Is this what a woman my age should be wearing?" It's stressful and exhausting because the truth is, this is what I want to wear. I love these Tshirts and sneakers. I'm comfortable physically and emotionally. But I look around when I'm out to eat or standing in line at a store and I see women who are more "put together" than me and I wonder what it means.

The chorus to "Secrets" includes a line that goes "I know I'm not the only one who spent so long attempting to be someone else, well I'm over it" and the first time I heard it, my heart sang because that's exactly how I've been feeling lately. When I looked at those incredible cat sneakers and I thought Are these meant for someone my age? my immediately next thought was Fuck it, I like 'em.

I love it when I'm out shopping with a friend and she holds something up and says "Hey, this is you!" It means she knows me well and that my personality reflects in how I dress. I think that's pretty awesome.

I've had a conversation about this with a couple of friends since posting a picture of my cat shoes on FaceBook (Most people who commented wanted to know where they could buy a similar pair for their daughter *sigh*). It's amazing to me how universal this topic is with women. Why do we care so much? Who are we dressing to impress when we go out, ourselves? Our partners? Strangers?

I've finally realized that it doesn't matter! I am who I am no matter what clothes I'm wearing. If my tattoos don't show, it doesn't mean they don't exist.

I know I'll never get to a place where I don't care what I look like at all. That's not what I'm striving for. I just want to be myself and not feel guilty about it. I'm over it.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Some Pennies For My Thoughts

Yesterday, as I picked up a penny in the grocery store parking lot, I had a thought: I wonder if a person kept track of all the pennies she picked up in a lifetime, how much money would that be? Although an interesting thought, it didn’t seem practical (a baby can’t pick up change) so then I wondered how much change a person finds in the course of a year. As I dropped my new penny into my purse, I decided that would be a fantastic project to start at the new year. I keep a notebook with me all the time anyway so I could easily jot it down each time I found a coin! I tucked the idea away to explore later. 

That same afternoon, I was riding my bike in my neighborhood when I  cruised over a shiny penny. I hit my brakes but second guessed myself and sped up to keep up with my boyfriend. I started telling him my idea and then interrupted myself, “I guess I wouldn’t have to wait til the new year, would I? I could start today!”

We turned around, so I could get my second cent of the day, but although we searched and searched, we couldn’t find that dang lone coin. So I decided I’ll have to start my project the next time I find one!

As I was circling around on my bike, staring down at the pavement looking for that penny, I remembered a comment I overheard recently. A woman was giving a couple pennies to someone who was lacking change for a purchase and she said “I don’t mind giving away pennies because they’re worthless.” I kept my mouth shut but I was flabbergasted. I was thinking Does she know that 100 pennies equal a dollar? I was so amused by the comment that I Tweeted about it (#DoYouUnderstandHowMoneyWorks?). A friend immediately responded that it was a coincidence he had just looked at his retirement account and it had gained one cent that day which would equate to a $300 increase over time!

Okay, so the pennies I pick up won’t earn interest (unless I put them in the bank-note to self!) but they will add up. My collection will not be limited to coins, but I expect that’s what I’ll find the most of. However, I once found a $20 bill blowing through a Wal-Mart parking lot! Another time, I picked up what I thought was a piece of paper but turned out to be a white enveloped containing $40 cash!

I guess I technically stole that money, but in each case there was no way to track down an owner. I have definitely lost money from being careless, like being out drinking at a bar with a $20 bill in my back pocket that’s gone when I go for it next, so I know it happens to the best of us.

I’ve written previously about my habits as a “picker upper” as I like to call myself. No matter if I’m walking or driving, I’m frequently noticing abandoned treasures “Ooooh a pen!” or “Hey look, a glove!” Each time, my boyfriend’s response is the same: “Gross” and he encourages me to leave the lonely object where it lies.

It’s funny that my youngest dog has turned out to be a treasure seeker as well. On our walks, he is continuously scanning the ground for something delicious and/or fun. The day he found unwrapped Rolos underneath our bank of mailboxes, I hated to make him spit them out because it was such a spectacular find! He’s found dog biscuits under there before, so I can’t blame him for looking, which he still does every time we check the mail! He’s found balls and bones and even tried to pick up a sock once (that one, I made him leave behind). My boyfriend finds if funny and revolting at the same time. “He’s definitely your dog”, he’ll chuckle and shake his head, while Tinsley trots along carrying a soggy tennis ball he rooted out of the gutter. 

Tinsley with one of his treasures

For now, I’m looking down as much as possible when I’m out of the house, waiting for my next find! I don’t know what I’ll do with the money I collect over the next year. It will probably depend on how much it is. Maybe I’ll donate it to a charity or maybe I’ll buy myself a treat! You’ll have to stay tuned to find out! 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Another Season Of Change

September first always feels like the beginning of a new phase for me. My birthday was one week ago and school used to start shortly after Labor Day so this week has always been one of transition that I look forward to. The first of this month is the official start of fall in my mind. I like fall a lot. I like wearing more clothes than summer requires, I like the cool mornings and evenings and that certain slant the sunlight has now. I first noticed it a couple weeks ago, it always happens all of a sudden that I notice the afternoon shadows seem different and I sigh Ahh, it's almost fall.

I like when it gets dark at 8pm. That seems like a reasonable time for evening. I'm a big fan of going to bed "early" and I hate it when it's light until 10pm in the summer. That encourages people to be out doing stuff when I consider that "late at night" and want to be home in my pajamas!

I realize that 8pm darkness is a precursor to 5pm darkness and I do not like that, but I believe the cycle is important. We need to have a most favorite and least favorite of things to keep us moving forward.

The visible season change is a relief to me. (We saw our first snow, in the mountains, on August 24th!) Summer in Montana has a frantic energy because everyone is trying to squeeze in their activities and parties into the short window we have for nice weather. There's always an underlying pressure of I should be outside while I have the chance whenever I'm indoors during the summer. That's why the timing of my concussion has been particularly tough on me. I've had to turn down invitations and lay inside on beautiful days and it sucks!

 I'm still working on this whole "Surrender to what is" process and I'm making progress. I've been doing an unbelievable amount of reading and writing (which I'm grateful to have the ability to do) and I've been catching up on a long list of movies I want to see. I'm working four days a week, six hours a day and when I get home I'm usually worn out and I don't do a darn thing most days. At first that made me feel lazy and anxious. Like most women, I have a never ending list of things around the house that need my attention but I've tossed it aside for now. When I feel motivated, I do something. If not, I don't. Isn't that an amazing concept?! It seems so simple but until now I'd never been able to pull it off! I'd force myself to get one more chore done before calling it a day. The change certainly hasn't been easy. Sometimes I ask for the assistance of my other half, as in "Please tell me not to worry about vacuuming" and he'll always comply!

So as I welcome fall today, I welcome change. I have the windows open and I cleaned the carpets in my bedroom, because it was long overdue and I finally felt inspired to do it! Instead of moving down the list to the next task, I'm writing this. Later I might feel anxious about not getting more done but I might not...I'm trying to take in one moment at a time.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Look Around

On a recent afternoon, I was waiting in line at the pharmacy to pick up a prescription, standing behind the canvas rope at the placard on the floor that tells you where to wait to ensure the privacy of other customers ahead of you. I always want to stand directly on those footprints but I never do. In front of me at the counter, being helped by a pharmacy technician, were two Asian men, one in his 30’s and the other maybe a decade older. They wore colorful dress shirts with khaki shorts and carried messenger bags. In this small town, which houses the only airport in the area and is one of the last stops for provisions before Yellowstone National Park,  these gentlemen were obviously tourists.

As the cashier was tallying up their purchases, the younger man called out “Wait, wait!” as the older guy darted away from the register to grab two rather large boxes of condoms. Interesting choice while on vacation, I thought to myself. As the male cashier took the boxes he asked “Two more, huh?”. When he slid them into the partially translucent white paper bag, I could see it already held three such boxes of Trojans. The younger man appeared to be the only one of the two who was speaking English. He listened to his companion briefly and then before the second box was tucked away, he asked “Are these all one size?” The cashier turned the box every which way, closely examining the small print on each side and declared that they were in fact all the same size. That seemed to be acceptable to the older guy.

Once the purchase was complete, the cashier asked the men if they were headed to the larger town a few miles away and if they were driving. They said yes, but they were with a tour group so they had no need for the coupon for gasoline that came with their receipt.

I watched the entire interaction from my spot at the line marker, obviously that distance is not quite enough to provide the privacy it is intending, and I tried to imagine all the possible scenarios for which these two gentlemen from out of town would need approximately 120 condoms. Are they hoping to get extremely lucky on this vacation? Maybe they’re lovers on a rare getaway together? Maybe they don’t have easy access to prophylactics in their country of origin? Or perhaps they are leaders of the tour group simply thinking ahead and trying to provide their fellow group members with protection?

When it was finally my turn to approach the counter for my medication, I gave the cashier a smile but he was as expressionless as a brick wall. Then I realized I shouldn’t have been surprised by his stoicism. I would guess that selling large quantities of condoms to tourists is far from the strangest task his job requires of him. This got me to thinking about my role as a veterinary technician. I’ve always been proud of my ability to remain calm and professional when dealing with emergencies and oddities. I once had a client casually tell me that she examines her own stools each day. I’ve had owners confess to me that their ill pet has recently ingested pot or used condoms or thong underwear, and I’m always able to maintain a straight yet friendly face while I assure them that we will be able to treat their beloved pet properly. Years ago in an exam room, I asked a female client why she had brought her beagle in to be seen and she stated matter of factly “She has a filthy pussy.” I didn’t even pause before I replied, “Alrighty then, let’s see what we can do about that.” It was clear to me that these were simply the only words she had to describe her observations.

Working with the public can be challenging at times. Clients often expect their current problem to take priority over the other things I’m dealing with and that’s not always appropriate. I often have to do a lot of assessing in a short amount of time in order to respond properly. But my work can be incredibly rewarding. There’s no feeling that compares to helping save a family’s pet or providing a grieving owner with solace during euthanasia. My job can be fun, difficult, dirty, heartbreaking and it challenges me physically and emotionally; usually all in the same day. When I took a brief break from working in the veterinary field, I realized there is literally nothing else I would rather do as a job.

I don’t know how that pharmacy clerk feels about his job but I’m guessing there are rewarding parts to helping provide people with their medications as well as frustrating parts. I’ve found that to be true of all the jobs I’ve ever had. Those tourists were fortunate to have someone help them who took the task seriously, even as I observed in disbelief. I guess this all just proves my personal philosophy that everyone is good at something, has a purpose, and we’re all in a certain place at a certain time for a specific reason. What was probably a simple interaction to all parties involved was incredibly interesting to me and gave me a lot to think about.

This is why I enjoy writing non-fiction and why I carry a notebook everywhere I go. There’s always amazing things happening around us, sometimes funny things or examples of kindness or just something spectacular; a week later I pulled up to the same grocery store and saw a man getting arrested for fighting in the parking lot!

It’s a reminder to keep my eyes open all the time, to focus on the moment I’m in, instead of worrying about what I’m doing next. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Does It Matter What You Call It?

I knew I was going to leave roller derby the day I got injured. The moment I was injured, in fact. I recall quite clearly, stopping on the track (which is a no no), holding my hands to what I thought was my broken nose and having a feeling of finality wash over me, a voice that said "All done". I probably could have walked off the track at that exact moment and been satisfied. But that wouldn't be fair to my teammates or to myself. I  put over two years of my life into this sport, literal blood, sweat and tears. I can't just quit, right?  I've spent the last few weeks recovering and thinking about a potential future with derby, but I came to the conclusion that there isn't one for me.

Taken just seconds before the hit that caused my concussion

Friends have asked me how I made the decision but I didn't make a decision as much as it simply became clear to me. This is a time for transition for me. I've gotten a message from The Universe that I need to slow down and re-evaluate my priorities.

But just because the conclusion was clear cut for me didn't mean it was easy to follow through. I went to my life coach for guidance, "I know what I need to do, I just don't know how to go about doing it". I wrote about it, meditated about it and talked about it with my loved ones. I packed away all my gear and derby clothes, just to see what it felt like.

I'm not quitting, I'm retiring. I keep telling myself that, but does it make a difference? I turned to my dictionary for clarification:
          Quit: to stop doing something, to give up, to resign from, to stop trying, to go away from
          Retire: to give up one's work, to remove from a position or office, to go where it is quieter, to retreat from battle

Well, all of those sound accurate to me! Why is there such a negative connotation with quitting? I battled in that sport for two years and now I'm done. Sure there are women who play for a lot longer but I've known many who played for a shorter amount of time. That doesn't make any of us wrong.

I'm four weeks out from my concussion and I'm still not back to my old self. I'm driving and working and (knock on wood) this past weekend was my first one in a month that didn't include me getting injured or terribly ill. I even worked out on the elliptical yesterday for 15 minutes straight! I'm definitely making progress. But my memory sucks and I have a headache at some point every day. Externally I look like I've healed but I still don't feel like myself. I feel slow and foggy which is the opposite of me at my best. It's frustrating and depressing. But when I push myself (like trying to paint the living room or help my sister in law move), I get sick and I backslide three steps.

The words of wisdom from my life coach were: surrender to what is. I like the sound of that-very Zen. But how do I actually do that? I'm still figuring it out. For now it means eliminating as many distractions and obligations as possible and the biggest one was roller derby. I can't commit to calling my mom every Monday or showing up someplace at a specific time. I'm trying to change my thinking from "This isn't me" to "This is me now". I'm trying to read, rest, watch movies and just be who I am right now. Hopefully I won't be this me forever and I think I'll appreciate that I was kind to myself during this phase.

I always have faith that everything will work out. Sometimes it's just tough getting through that middle part. But for now this middle part is all I've got.

Resting on the couch with my dogs

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

I'm Trying!

It has recently occurred to me what a peculiar phrase "Get Well" is. I'd never given it much thought until these past couple of weeks while I've been recovering from a roller derby injury, but when I think about it, it seems more of a command than an endearment.

A couple weekends ago, I whacked my face hard during a game (and then not realizing I had a concussion, I made some poor choices for activities and beverage consumption immediately following the incident) and I'm currently dealing with Post Concussion Syndrome. I've been reading everything I can on the subject of concussions (because that's what I do when I'm upset about something-I read about it-I'm a nerd like that) and while it makes me feel better to know that everything I'm experiencing is to be expected with this type of injury, it's frustrating to know that there's nothing I can do but rest and wait for my brain to heal.

"Rest your brain",  said the doctors and the handouts on Traumatic Brain Injuries. How in the hell do I do that? I wondered. I still haven't figured it out. Okay, no TV or video games or music, no loud noise or bright lights. Minimal stimulation, I get that. But I tried lying alone in a quiet room, and I think my brain rested for about ten seconds, until it started spiraling out of control thinking about what I did to get into this situation and will I ever get better or will I ever play derby again and if I don't then what about this and what about that?  I reached for my book on the nightstand to distract myself from my thoughts. The doctor said I could do anything that didn't aggravate my symptoms and I tentatively checked in with my body after a few minutes of reading to discover that I felt fairly calm so I kept reading. I read four books in a week, much to the dismay of my boyfriend, with whom I have a friendly competition each year to see who reads the most books (See? Nerds). "That was number thirty", I announced smugly one evening as I slapped closed a hard cover novel. "That's not fair", he pouted, but my raised eyebrows must have let him know it was probably a more than fair trade.

"Get better soon" say my teammates and my friends when they post on my Facebook wall and my mom on the cheerful card she mailed me. I know their well wishes are genuine and I truly appreciate knowing I'm being thought of but I just want to scream I CAN'T GET BETTER RIGHT NOW SO STOP SAYING THAT!

What else do I expect them to say? I don't know. There's not much else to say to someone who gave themselves a serious injury playing a contact sport. And it's not like it's their fault I'm frustrated. But there's only so many times I can hear "I hope you're healing up quick" without feeling like I'm somehow doing something wrong. I'm not healing quick and there's nothing I can do about it. All the literature says symptoms can last "weeks to months" and some may never go away completely. That's overwhelming.

For the first ten days, I could barely move. I lived in a constant state of motion sickness. I was physically and mentally slow. I couldn't work or drive. Then last week, at about 14 days in, I started to feel my personality peeking through the fog. I wrote in my journal, I sent some funny Tweets. Oh, what a relief!

All my pets in bed with me on a recent sick day. 

Just when I started to be able to leave the house with minimal side effects, I got food poisoning. That set me back about three steps in my recovery. Talk about frustrating. My mother asked "Well, what did you eat that would have caused that?" insinuating that once again my less than stellar decision making brought about my misfortune.

I do realize that I am fortunate in my situation. My injury could have been much worse. Initially I thought my nose was broken but it wasn't, thank goodness. I am extremely grateful for my family, friends and teammates who have checked in on me, sent flowers, driven me to and from doctors appointments and cooked me meals, among other acts of kindness.

Get Well flowers from my team mates
Outwardly I appear to be in decent shape. I've returned to work, I've started driving short distances and my headache is no longer constant, but I still don't feel like myself and that's the worst part. I worry that I never will, but thankfully I know that this anxiety is also common in concussion patients. The fact that I have the capacity to work on this post is solid proof that I'm returning to myself.

The subject of roller derby hangs over me like a dark cloud. I know that's cliche but it's the best I can do right now! My doctors, my family, my co-workers, they all want to know if I plan return to the sport. The only people who aren't asking me this are my team mates and I think it's because they understand the need for a break and reassessment after an injury. When it comes to big issues, I'm a decisive person. I like to know what's going to happen and when. Am I going to play again or not? Yes or no, make a decision and move on. Right now, that's impossible for me. Roller derby is a part of my identity. There's a part of me that can't imagine my life without it. However, as much as I love playing derby there are other things I love more like reading, writing and my work as a veterinary technician. If I were to injure myself to the point where I couldn't recover to do these other things, well, I can't even think about that.

This series of events has been a clear message to me from The Universe that I need to slow down an bit and take some things off my plate for a while. I need a lot of sleep, I can't multi-task, I can't drink alcohol. Those aren't necessarily bad things. Once my new helmet arrives that I ordered from Amazon, I'll be able to start riding my bike to work again! In the mean time, you'll find me lying down reading a book!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Be Careful What You Wish For

I've been absent from the blogosphere for a while, which is frustrating because I've actually been doing a ton of writing.

A while back, I clicked on an obviously targeted Facebook ad stating that a news site was looking for writers. One of my biggest hang ups as a writer is that because I've never gotten paid to write I've had a hard time considering myself a "real" writer (whatever that means). So I jumped at the chance to apply for a paid position. It was a fairly involved application process and long story short I'm about half way through an internship that only one out of every ten applicants gets accepted for and I'm getting paid to write. The ironic thing is it turns out I'm not enjoying it much.

Because the site is geared towards trending news, that what everything I've been writing (about 5 pieces a week) is about. It's not something I've ever had any training in or interest in doing. The cool thing is it turns out I'm not bad at it so I'm putting out articles each week and getting clicks. The down side is I feel my creativity is squashed and I'm dying to write something that reflects my personality and opinions.

Between my job at the veterinary clinic, my roller derby team and my personal life, I often struggle to find uninterrupted time to write. Now the majority of the time I have for that is spent doing these articles. Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful for the opportunity! I'm also proud of myself for trying something new and recognizing that it's not a match for me. There was a time in my life where I wouldn't have tried at all or I would have signed on and felt unable to change my mind for fear it would reflect poorly on me as a person.

I'm going to finish the internship because I take my commitments seriously and it's been a positive experience. I've learned a lot and gone outside my comfort zone, which is exciting and fairly new for me.

It's also been beneficial to me because it's reinforced what my passion truly is, which is writing personal essays and sharing my experiences.

My posts may continue to be sparse over the next couple of weeks but hopefully after that I can turn my attention back to doing what I love for no pay!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

One Trip Around The Sun

This past Saturday marked the one year anniversary of the day I lost my sweet dog Ritz. The month of May had been plodding along under a gray cloud as the date drew nearer. I kept thinking One year ago today, I had no idea what was going to happen. One year ago today he was with me and things were fine. 

A few months back, when I realized I would have a roller derby bout on May 24th, my first reaction was that I didn't want to play on that day. I thought I'd be too sad, too distracted, too whatever to be able to focus and enjoy myself. As the event got closer, though, I realized there wasn't anything else that would be better for me than playing that day.

May 22nd was the date that Ritz was suddenly ill and had emergency surgery. On that date this year, I was incredibly sad. And the next day. And then next morning, when I woke up on the 24th knowing that a year ago my life changed so drastically, I knew I needed to do something to acknowledge what I was feeling so I could move forward into my busy day. FaceBook can be a strange beast sometimes but I like to use it to put things out into The Universe for myself. I wrote this brief post and added this photo of him:
                  One year ago today I lost my best buddy. Not a day has gone by that I haven't thought about him. His passing was a catalyst for some very big, necessary changes in my life and I believe that was his final gift to me. Today, I am truly grateful to have a roller derby bout to turn my focus and energy to. The number of people who are going to watch me play and support me makes my heart sing. I could not have made it through this year without the love from my friends, family and teammates. This is a beautiful day!

Sharing that released the majority of my sadness. I knew my friends would acknowledge what I was feeling and send me loving vibes! This first year without Ritz (after almost eight years with him) was difficult but it was a transformative time for me. I lost my companion, I left my job and I learned that I am capable of much more than I had been giving myself credit for. I had experiences and met people that I would have missed out on had I stayed at that old work place, feeling my soul be crushed every moment I was there. I look back on it now and I truly can't believe I tolerated it as long as I did. 

Next, I took my dogs for a nice long walk and listened to Dave Matthews Band, to find my center. Then I went to play some roller derby! My journey with this sport is its own story, which I'll tell some other day. For now I'll just say that to be playing in a home bout took a huge amount of hard work and perseverance on my part, both physical and emotional. Joining my team has been one of the best things I've done for myself and definitely the most challenging. I play with an incredible group of women and together we work extremely hard to put the events together. To stand on that floor with them, all painted up in my uniform, and seeing my friends and family in the cheering crowd fills my heart with so much joy and pride. I have friends that traveled over 90 miles to watch me play. One of the clients from my previous job was there along with my new boss and co-workers, people I'd met through my temp jobs and my life coaching. Having all these people who love and support me, who want to come watch me play a sport that I love and train hard for is overwhelming. I couldn't have made it through this last year without this support system and it's an awesome feeling to know I created this for myself by making decisions that serve me well. 

One year is a long time, yet it isn't. I can't say I'm less sad about Ritz than I was prior to this anniversary but it is different now. My life coach says there's something to be said for making one trip around the sun when it comes to grief. I think it takes all those little "firsts" to come together and bring some closure, to make the loss less surreal. It's almost as if I've finally proved to myself that I can survive without Ritz, because there was certainly a point in my life a few years ago where I wondered if I could. Right now I'm look forward to this coming summer, to enjoying it with my puppy who is nearing his first birthday. I refer to last summer as The Summer of Sadness and one of my dear friends gracefully pointed out that perhaps we all need a season of sadness occasionally to be able to appreciate the ones that are joyful. I think she's right.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A Message From The Universe

A few months ago I was working a temp job, cleaning a house with a crew of three other gals (it was a big house, 8000 sq ft!). I heard a blood curdling scream come from the level beneath me and bolted to the top of the stairs to shout down and see if everyone was okay. After a second, but less terrifying scream, I trotted down the stairs fearing she had fallen or otherwise injured herself. I got to the doorway of a guest room and found my co-worker in obvious distress. When I asked if she was okay, her response was muffled by her hands covering her mouth but no, she was not okay. Our supervisor was further into the room looking around, and I heard a rattling sound coming from a corner of the room. The cause of all this ruckus was a tiny brown field mouse, stuck to a glue trap and scrambling desperately to get away from all the commotion. Since I was the only one in the house with any experience dealing with animals, my supervisor turned to me for a solution. It was simple although not necessarily kind, "Call the property manager and he can come kill it." It was uncomfortable to watch him struggle and I stood there debating in my head if I had the guts to break his neck but the answer was a resounding no. However my opinion that the rodent was in need of a swift death was not appreciated. "You're a vet tech", my supervisor pleaded. "You have to help me save him." The idea was ridiculous to me. My brain was running a ticker tape of thoughts as to why I should not save the poor thing: mice can carry disease, who knows how long he'd been stuck on that trap, surely he was near death anyway... but my attempts at reasoning were ignored as I watched the woman pick the trap up and carry it away, and I figured I should at least make sure no one was hurt in this process.

I couldn't believe it, but a quick Google search on my iPhone (How did we ever survive before this technology?) revealed animals can be removed from these traps simply by applying cooking oil. We placed the trap inside a box we found and I sprayed the critter's legs and glue coated abdomen with PAM spray. I kept thinking I cannot believe I'm doing this! but miraculously, after a few minutes the mouse was freeing himself from the adhesive. I'll admit it felt good, to have helped him, even though I still thought it was a bizarre thing to be doing. I stood watching him for a few minutes, and I had this perfectly clear thought of The Universe is telling me I'm supposed to be helping animals. When my co-workers came to check on things and saw the mouse was off the trap, they cheered! Then they insisted on giving him pieces of cinnamon roll and fruit, which he was eager to devour and soon he was looking like a normal, be it greasy, mouse again. One of the girls put him in a smaller box and took him home with her that evening to release in the fields behind her house.

As we rode home in the company van that afternoon, my supervisor credited me with saving the creature's life and thanked me many times. Even though I thought the whole thing was risky, I did it anyway because she felt so strongly that the little life should be spared.

Later that evening, I relayed the story to my boyfriend. He was surprised by the strong desire to save the mouse but not so much by my role in it. He was also proud to hear I'd educated everyone on rabies virus and hantavirus in the process! I told him about my feeling that The Universe was letting me know it was time to think about going back to veterinary medicine. I'd sworn it off last year, after losing my dog and quitting a job that was crushing my soul every day. I thought I was done with the field for good, or at least a long time, but I'd recently started to realize I missed it. Although the temp jobs were a welcome change of pace, I felt a bit lost without using the veterinary skills I'd honed over the last 15+ years working in clinics. I wasn't exactly sure what I was ready for but I figured something would present itself when the time was right.

The very next day I took my dogs to get vaccinations. I'd been to see this veterinarian several times, most recently taking the puppy in for his series of injections and neuter. Each time, she'd asked me if I was ready to return to the veterinary field and each time I replied that I wasn't quite yet but would let her know if I ever was. It's funny, I'd never met her before I started taking my dogs to her clinic, after I'd quit my full time job, so I was always baffled by her willingness to give me a job. I guess she could sense something about me that told her I'd be a good fit there. So on this particular day in early March when she entered the exam room, her hands were in a prayer position and she asked with a smile "Are you ready yet?". I smiled in response and said "Actually, I think I am".

I went in for an interview two days later. I spent the morning before hand making lists of all the reasons I was hesitant to return to life as a veterinary technician and all the reasons I wanted to. I made sure I was clear with the doctor during my interview as to what I was looking for in a job, mainly that I use my skills and have my hands on animals all day and then go home. I'm not looking for a management role or a ton of responsibility. When she gave me a tour of the clinic, I knew I wanted to work there. It has nothing to do with the facility itself, or any of the equipment or anything like that. It was the smells and the sounds of a busy animal hospital. It was the medical terminology the doctor used when she explained to me the case of the kitty meowing in a cage in the treatment area. I had missed those things and they're all a part of who I am.

I started the job three days later and it's been over two months since then. I haven't worked in a clinic in a strictly technician role (no management role) for seven years. When I swore off veterinary medicine last year, I had forgotten that and I forgot how much I love it. It's definitely not always easy or fun but it's so damn rewarding.

This week marks a year since I quit my job last spring. I never would have imagined I'd be working at a clinic again, let alone one that is less than a mile from my house and only working 20 hours a week. Sometimes I can't believe I had to go through everything I did to realize there was a way to do this job and be happy! There's a saying that goes something like "life is what happens when you're making other plans". I never used to understand that because I'm a planner! I like to know what's going to happen, be prepared for it and then have it happen exactly as I imagined. I'm not sure why it took me til my mid thirties to figure out that planning usually doesn't work that way. I guess it took something happening that I never planned for, the death of my dog, to make me realize that I have got to start going with the freaking flow or I am always going to be anxious and miserable! The changes I've made of the past year, and this job in particular, are steps in the right direction.

Monday, May 12, 2014

The End of One Road is the Beginning of Another

April kept me busy with The A to Z Challenge so I didn't have time to write about the other things that were happening in my life. At the end of March, I wrote this post about my car being backed into and the experience of being kind to the driver. I'm a superstitious gal, so as I wrote that post I wondered if I was jinxing myself. I'd almost written about my fondness for my car on multiple other occasions but I'd always changed my mind for that very reason! So perhaps it was a self fulfilling prophecy that led to the demise of my beloved car, shortly after I wrote that post. Although it all happened quickly, it was more of a quick end to an ongoing issue.

When I took my car to be repaired after being backed into, it prompted me to address some concerns I'd had for a while about the way the car was running. You know the sort, an odd noise that you ignore because it's only occasional or maybe there's a funny smell when the heater is running but you can't tell for sure. I left my car in capable hands with a list for the mechanic to address all the potential issues. When he finally called me the next afternoon, his voice was gentle as he delivered the news that my faithful auto was perhaps at the end of it's road with me. He gave me my options and told me to take as long as I needed to decide. Yes, I'll admit I cried tears of sadness for that car. The mechanic seemed to understand there was more going on here than financial concerns. He kindly told me he's never seen a Ford Focus with this many miles and it was obvious the car had been well cared for. He said many people view these types of cars as "a throw away car" (I gasped!) that they use until it won't go anymore and then get a new one. I was certainly not throwing my car away! But the thought of continuing to drive it until it left me stranded didn't sit well either. It had never left me stranded in all of our 13 years together. I had hoped we'd make it to 200,000 miles but we fell just a little short.

My step-dad does mechanic work so naturally I sought his advice when trying to make my decision. Even at our ages, he still doesn't respond well to my tears so he offered an exasperated "It's just a car!", in an attempt to make me feel better about moving on. His heart was in the right place, but it didn't help. Coming less than a year after the passing of my 8 year old dog, losing this car was a bit of a double whammy. That little blue car had carried the two of us across the country together, to our new life in Montana and on many other adventures. As gross as it sounds, I imagine some of his hair was still in there and it brought me some comfort to know a part of him was still riding around in the car, which he loved to do. There was a cigarette burn on the back seat, caused by a friend who has since passed away. Every time I noticed it, I though of him. That was tough to part with. The day before I was to get rid of the car, I went through it and removed all my belongings, then I sat in it and cried. I'm not ashamed to admit that!

Sure, getting a new car is fun. Who doesn't like an upgrade? I've gotten a 2008 Volkswagon Rabbit. When it came up during my online search of local dealerships, I knew it was meant to be mine. My very first car, when I was 16, was a 1981 Rabbit so I have a bit of a soft spot for them. When I got older, I regretted trading it in during a phase of snobbiness in my later teen years. I feel a sense of having come full circle, driving another Rabbit. This one a zippy little car, much sleeker and fancier than my first one, but it still feels like me.

I've had the new car for about six weeks now and I'm finally starting to remember to look for a black car in parking lots and not the old blue one. I'll admit there's been a huge sense of relief in our household now that I drive a newer vehicle and I'm not worried about pending repair bills. I try not to think about my old car, imagining it sitting in a lot someplace was almost painful at first. As I approach the one year anniversary of Ritz's passing, I am seeing how many ways my life has changed and this is just one of them. It's a reminder that nothing lasts forever and that I'm constantly evolving into a new version of myself. I'll never forget my pooch, or my friend or my adventures in that car and even though they're not right in front of me anymore they're still a part of me.

Last glimpse in the dealership lot
My new buddy

Monday, May 5, 2014

A to Z Afterthoughts/Honorable Mentions

The list I worked from for this project
I fully intended to have this post up on May 1st but I didn't get it done in time and to be honest, I've enjoyed having a few days without any blogging obligations. I spent almost six months working on these posts, off and on, so it feels strange to not have to do any more! Over all, I'm pleased with how they turned out. I got a lot of feedback, mostly from people I already know, and I can tell my friends enjoyed reading about my favorite songs and learning some of the stories behind who I am. I'm disappointed I didn't get more comments from new readers, through the A to Z Challenge. I was hoping my personal stories would resonate with more people and initiate discussion.

For almost every song I wrote about, I Tweeted my blog link to the artist. I was hoping at least a couple would read their posts. My theory behind that is that if someone were moved enough by something I wrote to blog about it, I would love to know that. The only response I got was that Liz Phair favorited my post about her song, but that's pretty awesome!

If you know me well, you know how connected I feel to Dave Matthews Band so you may have noticed that only one of their songs made my list. A friend asked me if I made a conscious decision not to include many of their songs and the answer is yes. When I initially made my A to Z list, I went through the alphabet and jotted down songs that came to mind for each letter. When I was finished, some letters had one or two songs and some had five or six, but each letter had at least one song by Dave Matthews Band or Better Than Ezra! They are my two favorite bands and I feel a strong connection to them both. I decided not to include many songs by either band mostly because there is a lot of music that came before them in my life, that shaped who I am and led me to their music. Also because people who know me already know how I feel about those bands and I wanted to add some variety and share stories about me that others probably didn't know.

Because it was difficult to narrow my list to just 27 songs, I feel the need to recognize some of the ones that almost made the list. There are some songs that deserve mentioning just because they are plain awesome. The opening cords to Sweet Child O'Mine get me fired up every time. The same goes with Pour Some Sugar On Me, it will rock forever.  So What by Pink got me through a tough break up by reminding me of how awesome I am. 32 Flavors by Alana Davis is runner up for Theme Song for my life  (yes, I know it's a Ani DiFranco cover but I like it better!).  During my pre-teen years I would sing You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling into curling irons with my friend Loni, who is now a professional musician. I could go on and on...My point is there is an endless supply of amazing music in the world and I hope I was able to introduce you to some new songs and make you smile in the process!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Zero by The Smashing Pumpkins

As I mentioned last week, The Smashing Pumpkins were a significant part of my angsty teenage years. Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness came out in 1995 and I'm pretty sure I didn't take it out of my CD player for at least five years. It was absolutely gorgeous to look at and the songs encompassed every mood I'd ever felt in my 17 years on the planet. 

Zero is a song from my "angry playlist", for when I'm pissed off or generally fired up about something. The guitars are non-stop, intense and fierce. Billy Corgan's voice is one that is quite recognizable and I think his style here is perfectly clear. It's the classic Smashing Pumpkins sound that I love so much.  

When I listen to it all these years later, the lyric that stands out most for me is "Intoxicated with the madness, I'm in love with my sadness".  It sums up that 90's alternative rock so beautifully. I think this is how I felt for most of the 90's, actually! 

I'll never get tired of listening to The Smashing Pumpkins. Their songs contain a lot of emotion and memories for me. 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Yellow Submarine by The Beatles

As I mentioned in my O post, thanks to my mother I've enjoyed The Beatles' music from an early age. I've loved all things Yellow Submarine related for as long as I can remember. I was five or six years old when she got me this book and read it to me in the evenings at bedtime. I was fascinated by the illustrations and I've forever associated the song with these images.

It was sometime around this age that I saw the animated Yellow Submarine movie for the first time although surprisingly I can't recall it exactly. I do know that when I was a few years older, my mom wanted to buy the movie on VHS and had an extremely difficult time getting it. Our local video store had to special order it. This was of course in the early 90's, long before media was available at our fingertips like it is now! We watched the movie together as a family many times over the years. It wasn't until I was in my 20's and watching it on DVD with a friend that I ever realized the movie was thought of as psychedelic or anything like that. My friend turned to me and asked if I was usually high when I watched this and I was horrified at the suggestion!

One thing I inherited from my mother that I'm truly grateful for is my love of music. This song is important to me because it's one of my earliest memories of learning that from her. It's the ring tone that plays when she calls me! It's a fun happy song and this is my favorite of The Beatles' phases. I love everything about it, especially the images and characters from the movie. For me, there's nothing else like it!

My little Blue Meanie sits on my desk


Monday, April 28, 2014

X Stands For Crossover: Personal Jesus

As hard as I tried, I couldn't come up with a song that starts with X. I've racked my brain for weeks with no luck, so I decided to write about something I enjoy when it comes to music, crossover songs. As I mentioned in my I post, I learned about the concept of cover songs at a young age. I have mixed feelings on them in general. When it sounds a lot like the original version, I often think of it as a bit of a rip off. My favorite type of cover song is when it crosses over into a different genre and is given it's own new sound, while still remaining recognizable. There are some punk covers of songs from other genres that I think are awesome, Somebody To Love by MXPX and Baby One More Time by Bowling For Soup are a couple that come to mind. I like the idea of a song being introduced to a new generation of listeners and getting a second life, so to speak. Often this will lead to listeners of the cover to look into the original artist and that's cool too!

I was a kid in the 80's so it wasn't until the next decade that I became familiar with Depeche Mode's original version of Personal Jesus. From the first time I heard it, I recognized it as something awesome. It's intense and dark and always made me ponder what exactly it means to be someone's own personal Jesus. It's a classic 80's song and I think it set the stage for a lot of music that came after it.

The next version I heard was Marilyn Manson's cover. It's my favorite by far. It takes the feeling of the original and makes it even darker with the industrial sound. I listen to it when I'm angry or when I'm feeling like a bad ass and often when I'm running. The video is creepy, it takes the song to a whole new level but I like it.

Johnny Cash recorded a version of Personal Jesus for his 2002 album American IV, which is mostly covers. This album was released just a year before his death so I think that gives the song a bit more meaning for me. This version is so good. It's acoustic and much simpler than the other versions but Cash's voice adds something to it that no one else can.

There's a huge number of versions of Personal Jesus available on iTunes including jazz, string quartet and techno versions. I even found a lullaby for babies! The song has appeal across years, musical genres and lifestyles. That's what a true crossover is, in my opinion. It's something anyone can love and relate to.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

What's My Age Again by Blink 182

If I had to choose a theme song for my life, this might be it. I first heard it shortly after I turned 21 and it seemed to appear at just the right time for me. I've never been a big fan of the idea of "growing up", that there are certain things you have to do when you get to a certain age. I think that gets people into troublesome situations some times. I know my decision to get married in my twenties was partially influenced by the thought that this is just what you did when you were this age and had been with someone for a few years. 

After my divorce, I was 28 when I moved across the country to start over. I went out drinking a lot, I had one night stands, I did things that I hadn't had a chance to do when I was younger because I was married. I especially loved this song at that time because I was older than my friends who were in this same phase and my friends who were older than me didn't fail to mention they thought I was getting a bit old for this sort of thing. 

Here I am at 35, unmarried, no kids, I play roller derby and I let my tattoos show. I feel young. Then I hang around people who are 10 years younger than me and I think Nope, I'm not that young anymore. Once I hit 31 or so, I really started to feel comfortable with my age. A lot of struggle is behind me, trying to figure out who I am and trying to impress people who don't matter. 

I listen to this song almost every time I run. A) I like to imagine myself running naked like in the video and B) It reminds me that being silly and making mistakes is okay. My favorite line is near the end "With many years ahead to fall in line, why would you wish that on me?" because that's what I thought when people were looking down on me a few years ago. Why do you want me to be different and not have these experiences? Just because you didn't? Or because women my age "shouldn't"? Needless to say, most of those people aren't in my life anymore. The people who understood what I was going through and supported me, who  loved me even when I made poor choices, those are the people who are still around me. And they probably like this song as much as I do!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Virtual Insanity by Jamiroquai

The first time I ever heard this song was seeing the video on MTV while I was housesitting. It was during my first year of college and I'm realizing that a lot of the music that shaped who I am came into my life around that time! The video is bizarre and the song has such a unique sound along with discussing what a crazy world we live in-I think it all appealed to my young self struggling to find my way and figure out who I was. 

When Maroon 5 first came out, I thought they sounded just like Jamiroquai and were ripping off their sound. I didn't like them for the longest time for that reason! I do think Maroon 5 sounds a lot different now and I haven't heard anything from Jamiroquai in years so this seems funny to admit to!

I like this song because it has a relaxing sound to me. I find that an interesting contrast to the lyrics talking about how mixed up our world is and that we're living in a virtual insanity!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Unchained Melody by The Righteous Brothers

This song is the first one I ever slow danced with a boy to. It was my 7th grade semi formal dance in the cafeteria of the high school. I was so nervous that my friend Billy (a girl who was way ahead of me when it came to boys) took me out into the deserted hallway to teach me about hand placement and stepping, in from of a wall of lockers. That first dance was glorious and terrifying. I had a crush on that boy through middle and most of high school and while it was never reciprocated, I'll always remember that he was kind about it and became a friend to me. We shared other slow dances over the years but none of them are burned into my brain like this one. I am confident that my mother possess a photo of me, taken right before the dance, but we've been unable to find it for this post. However I didn't feel like I could write about that dance without acknowledging the dress I was wearing at the time. I did find this picture of me in it later that year at a family function. It's not quite the same but I think you can probably understand how special that dress was to me at the time.


Then I saw Ghost when I was about 13 and my adolescent heart nearly exploded! This song is forever twisted up with all of my teenage longings and expectations about love, which were pretty much crushed as I got older. When I hear this song, they all come rushing back with images from that movie!
It's a beautiful song, there's nothing that sounds quite like it to me, even now. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Today by The Smashing Pumpkins

This is the song that inspired me to do this project! It's definitely one of my top 5 favorite songs of all time and it never fails to get me pumped up and inspired about life. 

The first time I heard this song was seeing the video on Beavis & Butthead! I was 14 and I was on a babysitting job (don't worry, the kids were in bed!). We didn't have MTV in my house so this was always a treat for me when I was at other people's houses. When the song was over, I wrote down the song/artist information, determined to find out anything I could about these Smashing Pumpkins. (How did we ever learn anything in the days before Google?! ) Shortly after that, I got my hands on a copy of Siamese Dream on cassette tape. It was one of my first glimpses into the world of alternative rock that was opening up in the early 90s and I loved it!

During my junior year of high school I was pissed when the senior class ahead of me chose Today as their class song. It was such a perfect choice and now my class wouldn't be able to use it! I honestly can't tell you what my class song was but I remember what the class of 1995 chose! Damnit! 

In the winter of 2000, I saw Billy Corgan play solo acoustic at a small club in North Carolina. He played this song on the piano and it has always been one of the greatest concert experiences of my life. It obviously was a  different version of the song but it was almost more powerful than ever before. 

Every time I hear this song I think Yes, today is the greatest day I've ever known, no matter what's going on. The sun is shining, or the snow is beautiful, or I'm excited about my new job or sad about something, no matter what it is, I can find a way to see it as a positive when Today is playing.