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.

 

 

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!

 

What was I thinking

Everybody makes poor decisions.  I’ve made plenty, however I am just fine with laughing at myself over them.

On Sunday I ran 3.75 miles.  Got home super energized.  I had planned on making breakfast when I got back (eggs, toast), however my endorphin-charged brain decided that was an insufficient meal.  So I cleaned up, chugged some v-8, and headed to Trader Joe’s.  Begin poor decisions.  Everything looked SO DELICIOUS.  I wound up buying several good for me delicious things.  And a lemon cake.  And a container of ice cream.  I will be running a lot to make up for it.

Spring came back.  I’m thinking we’re out of the overnight freezes.  My goal this week is to get the sprinkler system up and the sprayers working, and start prepping for planting this weekend.  I had to buy a new hose for the front yard.  The cheap one I got last year lasted exactly one year.  This would be why I don’t buy things from wal-mart.  And probably why I shouldn’t drive over it to get into the garage.  And probably why I should have unhooked it for the winter.  In my defense, the previous hose lasted far longer!!!

On to better decisions…

I agreed a couple of weeks ago to play a Fasch concerto for flute and oboe, with me doing the flute part.  It’s a bit high.  Ok, a lot high.  However, I saw it as a challenge and got to work.  Current assessment:  definitely high, but manageable and sounds pretty decent.  It also has the added bonus of giving me some quality time with that range on my oboe.  I don’t get to exercise it much with baroque music.

In addition to that duet, I’ll be playing another one with Josue Casillas.  We’ll be reprising the Bach duet I did with Elizabeth Pitcairn back in February.  I expect my face to fall off at the end of each concert, but I think I’ll be in good shape and ready to attack it when the time comes in June!

I found a 20 week marathon training program and started it this week.  This is the easy portion (4 runs a week).  I can do that.  So the big question becomes, which half-marathon am I going to tackle?  I haven’t figured that out yet, so until I decide I’ll probably be repeating sets of weeks until I figure out what I should be doing.  Or I might just pick a set of weeks and repeat them endlessly.  I’m not in a huge rush either way.  The important part for me right now is just the running part – it’s been a significant portion of my therapy.  It’s just nice to go out and pound the pavement until my problems fade away.

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.

 

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!