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!