Melting Brain

My big goal this last few months has been “making space for myself”, per my therapist.  Finding who I am.  Doing what I need to do to feel comfortable.  And I have been doing that.  Until orchestra hit with a vengeance.  I was doing just fine balancing work, the new Man Friend™, and daily practicing.  A few weeks ago my peaceful balance was disrupted by orchestra-related performances.  I’ve pretty much found myself on almost a month straight of rehearsals, concerts, and panic reed making to replace the reeds I ran into the ground this last series.

But hey, I got my face on a poster so there’s that!  Said poster:

oboe

Anyway, I’ve kind of felt a bit of a crunch, and find myself back at my “old” stressed out self.  Lashing out.  Feeling tired.  Feeling super overwhelmed.  I do have much better mental tools to handle it now, so when I hit those walls I’m able to push back and pick up without crumbling.

There are so many things that are better.  I can now go and face people in person.  I feel this driving need to get out of my house at least once a day – even if it’s just for a run.  I can be social.  I don’t feel so crushed or broken.

I’ve run face-first into some memories from my previous relationship lately.  It wasn’t the whammy I was expecting.  I’m not hurt anymore.  It doesn’t cause me distress.  I’m more analytical.  And today I threw out something that’s been nagging me.  And you, you unfortunate reader of this blog, will get to relive some of what I had put up with.

So when you move someone into a very small house, you find you need places to put shit.  In this case: the bathroom.  It’s super small, and not a lot of storage.  So I got this rack to put in the bathroom.  Stuff went on it.  It was good.  Until the other person comes home blackout drunk at 1AM.  He went out and got trashed, came home, decided he had to pee.  Because he could hardly stand up straight, he grabbed the rack, and then he fell over.  And took the rack and everything on it with him.  Oh, and somehow on the way down he pulled the lid off of the toilet.  So after the racket woke me up, I went into the bathroom to find the rack knocked over, all of the stuff on the floor (or broken), and the lid from the toilet shattered.  And a very blasted man who should have thanked his lucky stars he didn’t break his neck.  I was lucky that day to not be treated to another angry drunk tirade.  He went to bed and passed out, while I got to clean everything up.  Since then, I’ve looked at that rack and hated it. I hated the memory.  I hated that it was there when I didn’t need it anymore.

Today it went in the trash.  That felt so good.

So on to some updates:

  • Yep, shit ton of orchestra
  • Duet with Josue went amazingly well.  He’s the best duet partner, tons of fun!  We have one more performance, then we put Bach to bed
  • Man Friend™ is definitely a thing.  I’ve introduced him to a few of my friends.  He’s fun.  I enjoy the time we have together, even if it’s brief some days.
  • My yard is a disaster.  Oh god, a huge disaster.  I need help!
  • Running is still spectacular.  Improvements are very tiny, but overall I’ve cut off tons of time per mile, and tons of weight.  Definitely a correlation between how much weight I carry and how fast I can run.
  • Weight in general is under control.  I’m still on the chunky side, but a lot thinner (two sizes), and I’ve got stamina for days.  I feel good.
  • Salem has not run off again. She’s less grounded now, but I keep an eye on her.  She also managed to “lose” two of her collars.  Pretty much the worst cat.

That’s all I have to say today.  I know the post meandered, but my reminder to write went off this morning so this is what you get.  Enjoy!

 

Trying is Better Than Regret

For my birthday, I decided to try something different.  I scheduled a vacation to Seattle the day after my birthday.  Flying?  Hell no, I wanted to try something new!  After my wonderful experience on a cruise, I decided to try the thing I always wanted to try: A TRAIN.

Spurred on by pictures on teh intertubes and stories of people’s experiences on trains, I booked a 21 hour trip on Amtrak from Sacramento to Seattle.  I thought of taking the train out of Reno, but would have had to switch trains and then sit around for 9 hours for the Seattle bound train to depart.  I voted instead to just drive the 2.5 hours to Sacramento since it would be shorter.

Arrived early enough to go get a nice dinner before the trip.  At 9:30 PM.  And everything nearby was closed.  After several attempts to find an open restaurant, I eventually gave up and drove to the nearest McDonalds.  In a sketchy neighborhood.  With scary people.  After stuffing my face and then being informed by the manager they were closing, I headed to the Amtrak station, parked, and dragged my luggage in.  Upon arrival, I got the first alert: the train was running an hour late. YAY.

Luckily for me I had a booking in a sleeping car, so they had a special area set up with padded seats.  And by special area I mean a roped off area with some thinly padded chairs and fake trees surrounding it.  Exhibit A:

2014-10-02 22.52.32

They were very nice fake trees.

A while later, I got the second email:  Train was running behind.  Instead of the 11:59 AM departure, it was now scheduled for 1:49 AM.  I wasn’t able to rest – mostly sat around and watched the poor hapless parents trying to convince their kids to go to bed and stop eating candy.

Finally they called us to the train.  After an epic trek through a concrete lighted path that seemed to never end, we were in line to get on the train.

2014-10-03 01.15.33

We were shepherded into our “bedroom”.  I’ll tell you now, the pictures they show of those rooms use such a wide angle lens it defies the laws of physics.  With the beds extended out, there was just enough room to slide along the side of the bed..barely.  They are also small.  The rooms look like they hadn’t been upgraded since sometime in the 80s (the faux wood paneling around the light and temperature controls was a dead giveaway).  The bathroom was just a shell of plastic.  You heard everything.  Our neighbors had issues with gas.  FYI.  thnx.

So teensy tiny room aside, I was prepared to deal.  The attendant they had on the car was really nice.  They had coffee, juice, and water.  The room was worn but relatively clean.  The door didn’t shut unless you put the power of hercules behind it.  Still, I was on a train.  Since I was having my usual travel stress, and I slept approximately 4 hours before I was up.

Now, the best part of being on a train is being able to just sit and chill and watch the scenery roll by.  Then there were the bad parts.

They apparently serve breakfast between 3:00 AM and 6:00 AM (this may be hyperbole), and WOE UNTO YOU if you arrive at 8:30 am.  In light of the fact I got on the train really late, and as such I wasn’t ready to eat until 8:30.  Went to the dining car, and was greeted by surly waiters and waitresses that made it seem like I completely put them out by asking for breakfast at 8:30 AM.  Luckily meals were included in the trip – the menu had the prices and they were beyond insane.  It cost at least $20 a person for breakfast – for sad eggs, a sad little biscuit, and bacon that looked like it was dehydrated, reconstituted, dehydrated, and then fried to a marginally warm status.  At least the coffee wasn’t terrible.  After consuming our meager rations and disdain from the waitress, we headed back to our room.

Like I said, at least there was nice scenery.

2014-10-03 12.28.14

The attendant came by to schedule lunch, but we weren’t hungry.  This leads into the other relevant fact about train travel:  you’re traveling on lines used for freight trains.  The majority of the ride was pretty smooth.  As somebody prone to motion sickness, I was fine.  Somewhere around the middle of Oregon, we hit a patch of rails that felt like they hadn’t been maintained since they were put in.  The train started rocking back and forth.  And suddenly, I was motion sick.  After chugging some dramamine and getting a couple of hours of extra sleep (after the previous four hour “nap” the night before it was welcome), I finally settled in.

We scheduled our dinner at 5 (they do reservations so everybody doesn’t mob the dining car).  Again, prices were fairly impressive.  And again, our meals were included so we didn’t have to pay.  I had the herb chicken.  It was a little better than breakfast, but not by much.  Imagine airline food on a train.  That’s what we got.  Of course, it was served by the same surly waitress we had for breakfast. After that, pretty much sat in our cabin miserable until the end of the train trip, which mercifully ended at 8:30 PM.

On the positive side, I’m glad I did it.  It’s something I always wanted to try, and had I never done it I’d think I missed out on something.

I suppose I did have high expectations of this trip.  Considering the price I paid, I expected far more from this little jaunt than encountered.  I think Amtrak is missing out on a huge opportunity.  I always visualized an overnight train trip as a land cruise.  In reality, it’s far from.  I think they have the general right idea, but the implementation is extremely poor.  The staff is a mixture of nice and bitter.  The train itself is pretty beat up and probably due for a huge overhaul.  They could also use some tracks of their own to ensure a smoother ride.  I won’t be taking Amtrak again for anything – I’d rather fly. I’ll miss out on the beautiful scenery, but I won’t be trapped on a miserable ride.

Fortunately, it didn’t ruin the whole trip.  The rest of the little Seattle visit was spectacular.  Got to spend time with great friends, and got to see all the sights.  But that’s a story for another blog post.

Things I learned recently:

Trains are cooler in theory, sucky in application.

Surly waitresses are surly.

Amtrak management needs to be replaced.

From the Twilight Zone

This post is a little early this week, but I’ve had a few interesting things happen this week that were post-worthy.

The Gig That Came and Went

I got a last-minute call last weekend from a conductor in Tahoe who needed me to sub for a performance and series of rehearsals.  So after some time arranging, we managed to meet up for him to hand off the music.  The amusing part was he called me when I was halfway there to inform me he was stuck because an excavator fell on someone’s house.  Apparently it tilted off the truck carrying it when going around a curve.

The second amusing part of the story was the day after I got the music, I get a message saying rehearsal was cancelled, followed by another message a few days later letting me know the entire performance was cancelled.  I have no idea what happened there, but that was the quickest turnaround on a gig I’ve ever had.  So today I got to drive up to Carson on my lunch break to give him the music.  No excavator incidents this round.  It was just a weird week.

The Mosquito Disaster

All of my life I’ve lived in dry places, and in general have had very few run-ins with mosquitos.  A few months ago I moved to downtown Minden, and once spring arrived I realized there are mosquitos everywhere.  It’s very damp, surrounded by pastures and irrigation, and as a result is a haven for the little bastards.

I got bite on my arm first.  Instead of being a normal-sized bump with moderate itching, it turned into this giant rash with hives, and felt like a bruise.  After the initial panic and near-overdose of Benadryl, I did my homework and discovered I’m allergic to them (surprise!).  For the most part, I don’t react too bad to them.  But if they hit my on the arms or hands, I start developing mutant lumps.  One got in my house a couple of nights ago and feasted on my wrist and hand.  The hand is swollen, which is pretty neat.  I may be dying. If you want into my will, now’s the time to ask.

The Ex: Wat

Last week I was telling someone about the whole deal with the ex-husband and the divorce.  In a strange turn of events, the next morning I get a message from Linked In telling me he viewed my profile.  The really bizarre part was the message listed his current company as the old company I used to work for in Vegas.  I still keep in touch with a lot of people there, and I had not heard he was hired.

Doing the only obvious thing I could, I contacted my former partner-in-crime Matt, and when I asked if he knew so-and-so was my ex-husband.  His response was “Say what?”.  Turns out he’s been there a year, and nobody had a clue that we were once married.  So either he never put two and two together (I changed my name entirely after we were married), or he’s been prudent and kept his mouth shut.  If it’s the latter, that’s pretty funny (and nice of him).

The Fallout

Of course, Matt being who he is, was determined to ask him about me.  I said: “You won’t hear anything I haven’t told you.  I was a fat neurotic mess when we were married.”

That part is true.  There was a lot that went wrong that I won’t air out on the internet.  But the fat neurotic mess:  that was definitely me.  What certainly did not help the relationship were the antidepressants I was taking for anxiety.  They had this effect of making me a little crazy and causing me to gain weight at the speed of light.  I fought it tooth and nail, but no matter what I did I just kept gaining.  This is a pretty nifty picture of me most of the way through the weight gain.  That weight gain made me more neurotic and depressed, and it just made it all worse.  Right after he left to go on his tour overseas, I decided to stop taking those stupid pills.  I quit filling prescriptions and tapered them off.  By the time he came back a year later I was completely stable and had lost a good chunk of the weight. Over the next couple of years it fell off.  Then I started running and more fell off.

Today I weigh 50 pounds less than I did in those days.  I’ve had some ups and downs, but overall my weight has remained stable.  It makes me happy to know I got a degree of control over that part of me.

I am not dwelling on the negative aspects of it, nor do I feel regret.  If anything it all makes me more appreciative for what I have now.  That divorce started me on the path to a better life.  I’m a better person, I like myself, I love my life, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Things I Learned This Week

Jack will bark at the wind, but tremble in fear under my chair if something scares him.  Not a good guard dog.

I sink more money into my oboe than I make in gigs.

Why Spot is my BFF

I felt the need to explain to a co-worker why I was so attached to my cat.  I dug up this story from one of my old Formspring posts, and thought it was pretty hilarious, so I am posting it here.

I love cats. I also think my cat is the best cat ever. And I have proof.

Years go I was married. My ex-husband was in the military. A couple of years into our marriage he had to go overseas for a full year, leaving me alone in the states. He said “hey, let’s get you a cat or dog so you won’t be alone in the house!” I decided on a cat. Six months before he left, we went out and adopted a kitten from a rescue shelter, and I named him Spot.

Six months later, my husband left for South Korea.

Unknown to me, my marriage was taking a steep nosedive. At first my husband called and emailed all the time. Usual conversations of “what did you do today” and “miss you”. Three months in, the calls became infrequent, and the emails rare. He came back mid-year for a vacation, and everything seemed to be fine. His excuse for lack of communication was he was busy/time difference. Okay fine. He headed back to South Korea after his vacation, and his communication became downright rare.

At the end of his tour in South Korea, we were going to move to his new post in Colorado. I emailed him asking for details (to no avail), and did my best to prepare for the impending move. Two months before he was due back, I finally get a phone call. Conversation starts with me going on about how much I missed him, blah-de-blah. At that point he cut me off and said “We need to talk, I don’t want you to move with me to Colorado.”

Wat.

I had no clue this was coming. There had been no hints, no fights, no “hey, I’m not happy I might leave you” talks. He just called me out of the blue and said he wanted to leave me.

Fast forward two months later. He returns from Korea. At this point I pretty much was at the “fuck you, jerk” stage, and had gone out and gotten divorce papers as I had not seen the point of being married to somebody who was going to live hundreds of miles away WITHOUT ME. I was angry. I hated him. And to add insult to injury, he had to live with me for a week before the movers came to get his stuff and relocate him.

A week. I had to live with the guy a week.

Now, back to Spot. Spot, as I said, is mostly an ordinary cat. He’s a little needier than most cats. He demands a pristine box (clean daily), because if it’s not clean he’ll poop immediately outside of it. As far as his bad habits, that’s about it. Spot had been living in the apartment with me, full of my ex-husband’s stuff, never destroying anything, being a normal cat.

Until my husband returned, that is.

The day my husband returned, Spot hid. Spot only ever hides from kids or people that scare him. In this case, Spot wouldn’t go near the guy.

A couple of days later I came home from work, and my husband said “your cat shit on my entertainment center today.” I said “Huh, really? He’s never done that before. I cleaned his box before I left.” Inside I kind of chuckled, but didn’t think much of it.

Three days later, Spot took an epic dump on his favorite leather chair, at which point my ex-husband pretty much let me have it. I finally said “You know, I think Spot knows that I hate your guts. He’s never done this, EVER, the whole time that you were gone. You’d just better hope those movers come sooner than later, because there’s not a damn thing I can do about it.” I then picked up Spot and told him what a good kitty he was.

Couple of days later, the movers took my (now) ex-husbands crap away, and that was the last I saw of him. Spot resumed his normal poop operations and stopped hiding.

So yes, I love cats. During the worst week of my life my cat expressed my rage for my ex-husband in the form of cat shit on his favorite furniture. That right there is loyalty.

2011 – The Year of the Toaster

I don’t think I really need to go into too much florid detail about the events leading up to me declaring this the Year of  the Toaster.  This pretty much speaks for itself:

Last May I won the NRA toaster at an NRA fundraiser auction here in Gardnerville for $50.  Toaster was an immediate hit with everyone (mostly along the lines of  “WTF it brands NRA on your TOAST?!?!!”).   Posted a pic on Twitter and FB.  I’m cool.  End of story.

Nope, not the end of the story.  Mid-December I get a bizarre message on Formspring from a reporter at Bloomberg asking if they can take pictures of my toaster.  At first I thought it was a whole new level of Nigerian scam, and then I considered it may have been the worst pickup line on the planet.  After some careful Google searches I determined the guy messaging was a legitimate reporter, so I emailed him.

Two emails and three phone calls later, Bloomberg sent a local photographer (David Calvert) out to take pictures of my toaster.  David came in with a loaf of bread and shot pictures of my toaster from every angle.  A week later they appeared in the NRA fundraising article on Bloomberg.com.

...no, seriously, that is my toaster in my kitchen

The moral of the story is:  NRA toast is delicious and photogenic.

I really have nothing more to add, other than acknowledging I’m a total failure at keeping my site up to date, and I promise to do better.  Honestly.  Not like that other time I promised.  Or that other time before that.

 

Things I learned this December:

Your 15 minutes of fame can and will be taken by your toaster

It’s easy to find a job working from home after you buy a 4WD car specifically for commuting to the Bay Area in winter.

Having a 4WD car will also prevent snow in Northern NV, and ruin snowboarding.

Running in < 25 degree weather is not awesome, no matter how many layers you put on.

Working from home is the best when you like where you live.