Oh, this thing

I’ve written about my depression issues already.  I’ll just say for now:  that shit is sneaky.  It happened again.  It always happens.  The difference this time is it took me less than a couple of weeks to see it.  And no, I’m not un-depressed yet, but I’m getting there.  I am allowing myself to experience the downturn.  I think (with lots and lots of therapy) this time I’m not letting it sink me further down. I’m still flaky.  I still don’t want to go out or do anything.  Each day is better than the last.  It will pass.

I told my therapist that the most amusing part of depression is that it makes you tired.  I go through my day feeling like I need a nap all the time.  I want to sleep.  However, when I do try and sleep I can’t do it.  And when I fall asleep I wake up repeatedly to nightmares or to a sudden anxious thought.  I’d love to have a full night of uninterrupted sleep.  My sleep patterns are getting better, though, which tells me I’m feeling better.

Moving on from that, I suppose an update is in order about my tooth issue.  I arrived home from my glorious vacation (really, aside from the tooth problem, it was amazing).  I booked an appointment with the dentist for the day after my return.  When I got there, they did x-rays, poked around (without any valium to chill me out, that was stressful), and the dentist pronounced I fractured my tooth.  Not any fracture.  A fracture in four places.  In other words, I bit down hard enough to crack my tooth in four places, and one of them down to the root.

Now, I have had a mouth guard (custom) for several years.  I clench my teeth.  I do it when I sleep.  I do it when I work.  I lost it about 3 years ago.  I had this awful habit of pulling it out in my sleep – it was this little piece of resin that fit over my front teeth.  I pulled it out one night in my sleep, and it vanished.  I think the cat batted it into some random place never to be seen again.  So yeah, never got it replaced.  And as such I resumed my bad sleep-teeth-grinding-clenching habits.

As a result of this new fracture, I had three choices:  try to let them fix it (would not work in the long term), have them replace it with a bridge (NO – it would vibrate when I played oboe), or replace it with a new post and crown ($$$$$).  I went with option 3, only after they swore up and down I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference when playing.

I take valium to go to the dentist, even for simple cleanings, because of my anxiety.  I now had to go to an oral surgeon and let them pull out a tooth and do a bone graft.  Thanks to the wonders of modern medicine, I had the option to be put completely out for the procedure.  Not that it really stopped the anxiety. When I arrived, I had to sign a sheet that basically listed every worst case scenario from being sedated.  As I sat in the chair, all of that ran through my head.  I was shaking and terrified when they put in the IV.  The most humorous part was as I started to go under. I remember feeling each new effect of the sedative and asking if I was going to die.  This was the conversation:

Me: “Ben” – he was the doctor – “I feel dizzy, am I going to die?”
Ben: “No, you’re fine”.
Me:  “Ben, I feel like I can’t breathe, am I going to die?”
Ben: “No, we’re watching your vitals, everything is just fine”
Me: “Ben, it’s getting hard to talk, am I going to die?”
Ben: “That’s normal too, just try and sleep”
Me: “BEN! I AM SLEEPY AND I AM GOING TO DIE????”
Ben: <muffled words – I was out at that point>

An hour and a half later I woke up, and his assistant was greeted by me asking “I can’t see the hippos anymore, where are they?”

Suffice it to say, I felt like the world’s biggest dork later on.

Anxiety is a pain in the ass – the most normal sensation always means YOU ARE GOING TO DIE.  It’s so hard to explain that bit of anxiety to someone.  It’s kind of like going into your house and seeing a crack in the wood floor, and automatically assuming the house is going to collapse on you.  There’s no in between.  There’s no logic in place to say “yeah, crap, crack in the floor”.  It’s always, ALWAYS, worst case scenario.  This bleeds into everything in my life, and quite frankly makes it really difficult to function normally.  I live like this since my mid-20s.  I’ve developed ways of dealing with the anxiety, but it is always there, under the surface.  When I’m faced with something new, I am always on the verge of collapse from complete paralyzing fear.  I hate it, but I can’t stop it.  So I cope.

So back to the tooth.  Everything went normally.  Destroyed tooth was yanked.  Bone graft done.  I healed up just fine, although it took about 3 days to get back to eating solid food.  I had a minor complication with a fragment of bone poking out, so I was banned from oboe-ing for about a month total until it settled back where it belonged.

Right now I’ve still got the gap there.  I am playing again.  Net side effects from the hole are excessive drooling when I play. Seriously, I collect so much water in my horn now, it’s gross – I have to keep swabbing and blowing out the upper joint.  Second weird effect is the tooth behind the gap resonates when I play a D above middle C.  It buzzes a bit, and my inner ear itches.  Luckily, oboe is not a long-note holding instrument so when I’m plowing through Bach the feeling is fleeing.  Long tones are a bitch, though.

I go back in one month to get the post put in.  I was promised the heal time will be less than a week.  After a month, I’ll go to my dentist, get a crown, and VOILA.  New fake tooth.  After all of THAT is done, we’re getting me a nice mouth guard for sleeping (again), and hopefully my sleep tooth clenching will be a thing of the past and I won’t have to live through all this again.

It’s been one year and 10 days since the last time I was told what a horrible person I was. It’s been an interesting year.  I tried hard to let that little awful anniversary pass, but I couldn’t.  Next year will be better.  And the year after that I’ll remember it without hurting.

Today, however, I was reminded by The Man Friend™ (ok, more than a friend, shut up) that I am wanted and needed.  Maybe I’ll remember that more next year than the Awful Memory.

 

 

Good Vacations

It’s been a very long time since I’ve had a good vacation.  And lately I feel like I’ve had a vacation from my old broken self.  There’s a lot of reasons for that.  I think first and most important was taking the time to invest in myself.  At least, that’s what I’ve called therapy. Because I did it, despite the expense, I feel like I have a grip on everything now.  And if it’s hard to handle, I can talk it out.

A few weeks ago I decided to try dating again.  It was not so much for the purpose of filling a hole in my life or rebounding or anything like that.  It was more like: I have a handle on me, I have a handle on my life, and I’m getting a little bored being solitary.  I thought it might be nice to get out and meet other people.  Have some conversations.  Do some fun things.  So I went for it.  And surprisingly, it was short lived.  I filtered through the usual weirdos.  And I scored a date, but boy was that a hot mess – the guy was this bizarre combination of everything I really didn’t like about my last couple of boyfriends.  And for the love of everything he wouldn’t stop talking.  Mostly about everything he believed and how if you didn’t believe that you were wrong.  That man hit all the no-nos of a first date:  He thoroughly covered his ex wife, religion, and politics.

nope

(Per the greatest cartoonist evar, The Oatmeal)

When that date was over, I went home and fired up Ye Olde Dating App, and sent a message to this guy – he had a picture of a rusted out car in Bodie.  I thought the car was neat, and saw familiar things in his other pictures.  I kind of figured we weren’t quite a match based on what he wrote, but he was interesting.  My brain said: why the hell not and I fired off a message.  He replied.  And then we went on a date.  And then a few other dates/events.  Then, at his suggestion, a Memorial day weekend road trip.

The road trip was the vacation for me.  We had no real plan – just go and then sort out what we wanted to do as we went.  We were relaxed – I jokingly call him my human prozac because he has that effect on me.  He makes me live in the moment, which as any of you who actually read this and who know me are well aware that’s quite a step from my control freak nature.

So we hiked.  We ate crab cakes.  We did a tour of my old digs in Oakland.  Went to see my cousin.  I played my oboe for his parents.  We drove, we chatted, we stopped when we needed to.   I’ve not been on a trip like that on a long time.  There was no agenda, just mutual agreement.  My vacations the last few years were not so much that, and towards the latter end of my previous relationship they were full of land mines and fights.  This was different.

I’m not really sure where I’m going with this post. I guess I’m trying to say that things are good, and I’m having a really nice life right now.  I’ll make no prognostications about this nice man that I’ve met, nor plan beyond the next road trip with him right now.  I just know that I’m ok, and this is ok, and while it may be soon it doesn’t feel soon, and I’m good with it.

So, to tie this up:  that slavedriver of a man made me climb the majority of Mount Tamalpais two days in a row.  The first day was all fog and when we got to the top I didn’t even realize we were there.  The second day I thought he was just torturing me, and I’ll admit I did a bit of whining at the beginning.  But we climbed forever, and then we hit the overlook and this is what I saw:

2016-05-30 09.05.07

I still told him he was a slavedriver, but I was happy he made me do it.  That’s the SF bay in the top left.  Pow.

Flotsam

Maybe another half marathon?

Many moons ago I ran a half marathon.  I think I want to try it again.  I’m back up to 3/3/3/4 miles a week.  Granted, my running is still pretty slow.  However, it was slow the last time I did it, and I eventually got my speed up to something reasonable.  The thing I like the most about doing it is my brain is pretty much 95% endorphins all the time.  The thing I dislike is the amount of time it takes.  I have to be strict with myself, and run whether I feel it or not.

I’ve booked the first week schedule starting for next week.

It’s time to farm

This year I’m going to scale it back a bit and stick with what is successful:  Kale, tomatoes, squash, cucumbers.  I’m also going to get more berry bushes.  I may or may not try basil again.  I’ve only ever once managed to get it to grow successfully.  I think I found the right place for it this time, but I don’t think the ground was kind to it.  So I’m going to try the same spot again, but stick with pots.

I’m hoping the apple trees make it.  They are starting to bud, right on time for the next freeze.

Flat Pianos

This is more of a gripe, really. Let me tell you a story about the oboe.  Unlike most other instruments, you cant just “pull out” things to make it flatter.  Oh sure, I remember my band teachers telling me to pull out my reed.  When I grew up I learned that makes hardly a dent in the pitch.  The oboe is so dependent on the reed that all the wishing in the world won’t make it play in tune unless you make it to play in tune.

I make my reeds at A-440.  There’s some range in there – I can usually pull it 15 cents in either direction with my embouchure when required (and believe me, it’s required when the trumpet section gets excited and goes sharp).  But there’s a limit, and I hit that like a brick wall this week.  I’m doing a gig with a choir in Tahoe.  It’s actually a lot of fun – we’re playing Puccini.  It’s not a full orchestra, so it’s being supplemented by the piano.  . And the piano is about 18-20 cents flat.  I’m not sure if it hasn’t been tuned, or if it was tuned by someone that forgot to reset the tuner calibration.

Point is, I came in with my nice A-440 reeds and I was ridiculously sharp compared to everyone else.  I wound up gutting my reed mid-rehearsal to drop the pitch down to painful levels.  So, I did finally manage to flatten the reed enough to make it work, and in the process I may have killed it.  I give it two practice sessions tops before it curls up and dies on me.

Moar Concertos

I get to do the Bach duet again (the one I did with Elizabeth) in June.  This time with Josue Casillas covering the violin part on flute.  Finally, a chance to take another stab at that long and meandering second movement I didn’t get quite right in January.

And to make it all more amusing, we’ll be doing a piece by Fasch.  Flute and oboe duet.  Except I’ll be playing the flute part on that one.  I am on board with this idea because this has some tricky work in the upper register, and it will give me a chance to give it a workout.

I’m going to have to practice a lot to pull all of this off!

Cruise

I’m going on another one, YAY!  I wanted to go to Greece.  However, scheduling and timing failed me, so I’ll be hitting Spain, France, and southern Italy.  I’m sure I’ll see a few of the required sights, but quite frankly I just want to be chill, enjoy some of the luxury, eat too much food, and fly home so fat that they charge me an extra baggage fee for my ass.

Games

I don’t have much time nowadays to burn on games, but now and then I give them a whirl if they are interesting enough.  I have a pal that had pestered me (forever) to play Bioshock.  Then he gifted me the games – Bioshock and Bioshock Infinite.  I tried to play Bioshock, but it was so spooky I couldn’t get past the first few levels.  A few weeks ago I was bored.  House was super clean. I had nowhere to be, and I wanted to do something fun.  So I opened up Bioshock Infinite.  And started playing.  It wasn’t scary at first – and by the time the blood and gore started I was so hooked I couldn’t stop playing.  I’ve played a good chunk of the game to date, and I’m really enjoying it.  And once it’s done I’ll probably go back to Bioshock and try that again.  It’s really nice finding a new game to enjoy.  It’s been a while.

Solitude

I’ve been reflecting a lot on the general quietness of my life.  It’s been around 3 months that I’ve been on my own again.  I’m still talking to my therapist.  I’m slowly but surely finding myself and the things I like to do again.  Finding new hobbies.  Finding new things to do.  Taking care of little projects I’ve missed out on over the last year when I was more or less broken.

I do feel lonely sometimes.  I feel regret that things turned out the way they did, and I feel sad for what I’ve lost.  And I am also extremely grateful that it all happened this way so I could have my own personal spring.

That’s all I have to say about what’s floating around in my head.

 

Life is Good

You know, I have a good life.  I often forget the amount of amazing things I’ve seen and done when I get buried in my mental hole.  I was purging some old leftover pictures I missed from [the relationship].  While cleaning, I took a tour through the last 10 years or so of photo memories.

Completely random memories, in no particular order:

Saw the Grand Canyon

May 092

Went to Alaska, by myself

P1000109

Learned to snowboard at one point

166

I love New Orleans


120

San Felipe, Mexico

San Felipe April 2006 024Went to Hawaii, met more Nenes

hawaii

Saw St. Louis

2013-11-12 15.07.00

Learned to pew pew

pew

Rafting in Colorado with my marvelous coworkers

2014-08-06 19.34.56 HDR

That is not the entire list, but it’s enough to remind me my life is not boring, and I get to do a lot of really amazing things.

This year I’m going on another cruise (southern Italy, France, Spain) to see more places I haven’t seen before.  I am glad I stumbled over these pictures.  It reminds me that I can and should go out and try things like this when I can.

Holy Shit Snacks

Now that I’m digging out of my personal well of misery, I’m actually able to focus on some of the insanity that can be called our Presidential Election.  Summary:  OMGWTFBBQ.  Logically, I know there are limits to presidential power.  Our country is supposed to be equally balanced between executive, legislative, and judicial.  One cannot do things without the other.  You want change? Uproot congress.  Hate on him/her all you want, but remember: the President has a great deal of power and is our spokesperson, but the President does not decide how everything works.  It’s like a coach in a basketball game.  The President can strategize and push initiatives, but cannot control every movement of our government.  That said, it’s somewhat scary to know the likely nominees aren’t people of good character, and if one of them gets his way I could be lumped in with the rest of the the immigrants and booted out.  So for now I’m going to hold to the idea that while we may elect an idiot to office (okay, I’ll concede:  when don’t we do that), overall s/he’ll have a congress to contend with and probably won’t get to do much other than embarrass us.  A lot.

Our town was visited recently by a couple of Republican nominees who both held rallies a couple of blocks from my house.  One filled up the streets.  The other didn’t.   I didn’t mind the rallies at all.  It’s expression, support, and a way to hear what someone has to say.  The thing I did mind the most was the absolute hatred surrounding them.   I was out walking one of those afternoons and passed by a small group of supporters talking about the rally.  They weren’t talking action, phone calls, or door-to-door campaigning.  They were talking about how they felt the election should end with certain democrat candidate in a wheelchair, in jail, or dead.  How can you wish another human being dead or injured just because you don’t agree with their politics?  How can you encourage beating up the opponent’s supporters?  Oh, right.  Let me go look at all the wars going on in the world.

It’s just gross.  And sad.  On to slightly less gross and sad things.

Running is still going great.  In fact, it’s getting much easier.  My last post was about my fight with my brain when I go and do this.  I can now say the fight has diminished, and I’m finding some peace with it. I still undergo the first stage:  Convincing brain I should go run when the alarm goes off.  Beyond that, once I’m out the door it’s just time to pound pavement and think.  I can toss off 3+ miles without stress or misery, which for me seems like a miracle.  I thought about going 4 miles today, but I had a meeting to get back to and needed the time to wind down.  Trust me, I’m a total spaz post-run, and if I don’t decompress a bit I sound crazy.  My next goal will be five miles.  When I hit that, I’m going to start in on half marathon training.  I don’t have a particular one in mind yet, but I’ll find one and get it done.  Because why not?  And because I can.

We got through the storm.  It dumped a ton of snow on the mountains, but we mostly dealt with super gusty wind and rain.  I did have the pleasure (pfft) of driving up through said snow to Incline on Sunday for a rehearsal.  Very wet snow, so the roads weren’t too terrible.  I have a violinist friend, Trudy, that is nice enough to accompany me on those drives so I’m not going it alone in a white-knuckled panic attack.  Honestly, I like driving.  I don’t mind inclement weather.  The part that kills me is anxiety.  I pretty much run through every worst case scenario in my head.  Oh no, I never think things are fine.  I pack for every contingency.  I am one of those people with the emergency water, flares, chains, food, blankets, and cell phone chargers in their car.  It makes me feel better.  Now apply this type of thinking to the rest of my life and you can see why I’m a mess most of the time.

We’re doing St. Matthew Passion in orchestra right now.  It’s an amazing and beautiful piece of music.  It is also a huge pain in the ass to play.  I have to swap through all three instruments (oboe, oboe d’amore, and English Horn).  The parts I play are long and never let you breathe.  When I finish the bass aria near the end, I’m positive I want to lay down and pass out.  Can’t do that, I have to pick up my oboe and do the finale.  I am allowed to pass out when it’s over.  I think.  Still, it’s my third year playing it, and it really is a good experience that lets me build some super chops and exercise all of my oboe kids.

Until next time!