Halloween tunes


This weekend I was driving around Portland listening to my favorite Oregon radio station--K103 FM: Soft Rock Favorites, and they were playing intermittent Halloween music, and I realized I wanted to make a Halloween playlist. A short one--I promise!

The classics should always be there, "Monster Mash" and "Thriller" and "Ghostbusters" and the soundtracks to The Nightmare Before Christmas and Rocky Horror Picture Show. But here are a few others that I listen to year round, but work really well for Halloween!

1. "Where, Oh Werewolf" by Michael J. Nelson, Tom Servo, and Crow T. Robot

From the Werewolf episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (season 9, episode 4). So catchy and clever. I try to use the phrase "Whose story is this, Carol?" as often as possible.

2. "My Body's A Zombie For You" by Dead Man's Bones

Adorably creepy song by Ryan Gosling and the Silverlake Conservatory Children's Choir.

3. "You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth" by Meatloaf

The song itself isn't very Halloween-y, but the intro IS. I know verbatim and sometimes repeat it to myself when I'm alone. Creepy.

On a hot summer night, would you offer your throat to the wolf with the red roses?
- Will he offer me his mouth?
- Will he offer me his teeth?
- Will he offer me his jaws?
- Will he offer me his hunger?
-Again--will he offer me his hunger?
-And will he starve without me?
-And does he love me?
On a hot summer night, would you offer your throat to the wolf with the red roses?
-I bet you say that to all the boys.

I don't know what it means, but I'm OBSESSED.

4. "Little Shop of Horrors" from the film Little Shop of Horrors (music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman)

5. "Love Games" by Old Gregg (Noel Fielding) from The Mighty Boosh

Technically this song doesn't exactly have anything to do with Halloween either. But the whole series of The Mighty Boosh is people in creepy, disturbing costumes, so it's perfect for Halloween. Also I saw a guy dressed as Old Gregg on Saturday night.

#314: Back Stabbers by The O'Jays


Back Stabbers by The O'Jays (1972)

Favorite Track(s): "When the World's At Peace" and "Time To Get Down" and "Love Train"

Thoughts: (Pre-Listening) 1972 again! I love it. Though, to be honest, this album makes me feel awkward and nervous. Awkward, because remember when the O'Jays were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and their inductee was Justin Timberlake, and they were clearly upset that a former boy band member was inducting them? I do.

And the album makes me nervous even though I haven't listened to it yet because it's at 314! Don't get me wrong, I love me an R&B group and I really enjoyed that Christmas GAP ad campaign that featured "Love Train" but it will take a LOT for me to think that an album by this group has what it takes to be at 314. But maybe I am unaware of just how awesome the O'Jays are.

(Post-Listening) My fears were founded. Rolling Stone describes the album as "symphonically funky and irretrievably paranoid." Despite some very good funk, the combination didn't work for me. My dislike may have also had to do with some of the lyric content:

"Someday we'll be together, forever and ever/Then we won't have to
worry/We won't have to hurry/But now we've got to hurry/Cause your
husband might get worried/And my wife, she doesn't see the change in me"

I know lyrics shouldn't necessarily make or break good music, but just you wait until the next album on the list, because I bet any semblance that rule will be thrown out the window.

Is This Better Than Help!?: Not even close.

#315: Burnin' by The Wailers


Burnin' by The Wailers (1973)

Favorite Track(s): "Get Up, Stand Up" and "I Shot the Sheriff" and "Pass It On" and "One Foundation"

Thoughts: Doesn't the album art look like it could be from today? It's amazing. Apparently the cover for Lauryn Hill's The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was inspired by it.

And the music itself? Reggae perfection. It's even a semi-sunny day outside, so I was able to imagine myself in warm, tropical breezes. I hope we see a lot more Bob Marley on this list. I used to see him all the time--my roommate Amber had a poster of him up in our bathroom. It was great. No, I've never smoked marijuana. This review went to a weird place.

Is This Better Than Help!?: Just as good, in my opinion!

#316: Pink Moon by Nick Drake

Pink Moon by Nick Drake (1972)

Favorite Track(s): "Pink Moon" and "Place to Be" and "Which Will" and "Parasite"

Thoughts: Another 1972 album! And from the fabulous Nick Drake. I think I became familiar with Nick from movie soundtracks. His song "Black Eyed Dog" in Practical Magic (1998)--the tears! And then "One of These Things First" from Garden State (2004)--which I used in a tribute video to my grandfather. This was his 3rd and final studio album released before his death.

This is acoustic heaven. It makes me want to be in front of my fireplace with tea and blankets and my cat as it rains outside on the ivy.

Is This Better Than Help!?: It's less varied, but it's certainly as good.

And even I'm getting tired of useless desires.


It's late and I've been drinking which means I should not be blogging. I should not be blogging. I SHOULD not be blogging. I should NOT be blogging. I should not BE blogging. I should not be BLOGGING. Is that clear? Good.

Because me blogging late at night and under the influence of alcohol just makes me wake up the next morning, flip out, run to my laptop, and delete the post. Or save it as a draft, in case I want to remind myself how pathetic I inevitably sounded. Because I don't know other pathetic bloggers. All the blogs I follow are written by people who are mature enough to know that one does not use the internet for expressing their personal problems/worries/fears/regrets. They blog about happy, positive, thoughtful, helpful topics and subjects. They don't try to drag you down to the dark places they know they should save for a therapist or close friends. I, on the other hand, have both a therapist and many good friends, but the internet is where I turn to 'let it all out.' I don't know why.

I think I just feel fearless when writing. I don't have to speak the words out loud--so it's less scary to say if I can say it in writing. Does that make a lick of sense? When trying to talk about something to someone--be it a friend or therapist or loved one--I have a tendency to talk myself out of what I'm trying to express in the first place. For a silly example: "I'm so fed with up with CARROTS! They're orange and cold and they make me feel bad!" but before anyone can respond, I follow up with, "I don't mean that. Carrots have always been there for me. Carrots are great. I'm the problem, not carrots." For some reason I don't want to let myself express anything that could be seen as ungrateful or selfish or rude or, worst of all, uninteresting/unfunny, no matter how much I might mean it. So I back-track or cover it up with jokes. I keep trying to make my new therapist laugh. ("But now it's just another show, you leave 'em laughing when you go/ and if you care, don't let know, don't give yourself away..." Oh God, I'm quoting Joni Mitchell lyrics--TURN BACK NOW!) Which leads me to so many topics I want to discuss...

My new therapist! She's lovely! She's warm and patient and nurturing but also 'hip' and quick-witted and sassy and insightful! I really like her. I was so worried I wouldn't. But I've got a creeping feeling coming in that I'm not being a good client. Let me explain.

We've only met 3 times (which in and of itself is information that should put my fears to rest. We're just getting started!) but I keep trying to talk about medical history with her. And I don't know HOW. I can go and on and on giving her bits and pieces, but that's all it feels like. Bits and pieces. And even at the end of our sessions after I've sped-talked like the world was ending, she'll say, "I feel like I'm getting more of a picture of what you went through, but it's still a very small glimpse of the whole picture."

It's become this quest for me now to Give The New Therapist The Whole Experience. What should I do to help her 'get' it? Bring in my mom's journal we kept in the hospital! Print out all my blog posts regarding medical stuff! Play her all the songs I listened to on repeat through my crying-jags! Re-create my hospital room in her office (i.e. lay down on her couch, and then sense-memory her through all the tubes and pains and aches and procedures)! Take a field trip together to a hospital so the memories come flooding back in fuller force! What can I do to show her, tell her, express to her what I experienced? God, if only I'd had a reality TV show camera crew follow me around for 2009-2010.

Because just telling her what I remember in the fragments that they come to me for an hour once a week feels so inadequate. Not to mention painful. And I think, in my mind, trying to tell someone who wasn't there while I was going through it, or who hasn't experienced something similar themselves, makes it feel so imaginary and over-dramatic and not that big of a deal. Honestly. My therapist can tell me over and over again how unbelievably hard it must have been for me, and yet I leave feeling, "It IS unbelievable. I must have made it such a bigger hardship for myself than it would have been for anyone else. Other people would have taken it all in stride and felt like it was just a bump in the road that they're thankful they made it through. I make it sound like I went to war or had cancer or something, and I didn't. What a drama-queen. Get over yourself."

And that's a problem, you guys, that I think that. That I think that CONSTANTLY. That I think, "You're fine, you're fine, you big baby. It's over and you're fine. Grow up already." This way of thinking is an issue because it wasn't fine at all. Even reading back to my most private journals or most candid blog posts, I still know it was barely scraping the surface of the hideousness of my experience. It was FUCKING HIDEOUS. And why on earth do I feel like I need to convince myself or anyone else that it was otherwise?

Which brings me to seeing the movie 50/50 last night. If you want to see it (and you should) then go no further, but it's about to get spoiler-icious up in here.

My mom told me about 50/50 long before I saw a trailer or TV spot for it. She saw an article about it (voracious newspaper reader that she is) and thought of me because the lead character played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a young man in his 20s who is diagnosed with a spinal tumor and the film is about his world being changed because of it. Now, it's a malignant, cancerous tumor. Again, I did not have cancer (though my neurosurgeon joked that I might and it could just not be showing up on my MRI--hilarious). The movie is called 50/50 because those are his chances of surviving the cancer. My diagnosis was not life or death, and it's important we clear up those extremely important distinctions. But because of those distinctions, which I knew going into the movie, I assumed it wouldn't hit too close to home. I WAS WRONG.

I'm no movie critic (or writer, let's be honest) so I'm going to make my comparisons in bullet format, rather than a pretty, professional set of paragraphs that lead from one to the next. Sorry.

- The kind of cancer that Adam (Gordon-Levitt's character) gets is very rare, to the point that no one in the film, including him, had ever heard of it. I have to remind myself that my over-sized meningocele is a very rare form of spina bifida, and that my neurosurgeon--nor the MULTIPLE neurosurgeons he showed my MRI to, had ever seen a case like it. This is important when I remember what I was feeling, because I (and my condition) was and felt unprecedented. And horribly strange. And scarily unknowable.

- Adam has to get chemotherapy (which I expected to be the extent of his treatments), and thank God I didn't have to do chemo, but the effect of it on him was so familiar. He looked weak and pale and thin and depressed, unable to take care of himself well. Ding ding ding ding ding!

- His therapist, though I think we're supposed to ultimately like her and root for them to be together, is so atrocious and has no clue how to help or be there for him. When he tells her off and quits their sessions, I was so reminded of doing the same to my old therapist. You don't want to be told what you're feeling or in what ways you should be dealing with your experience. Fuck that.

- This one was a huge one: support. Adam starts out the movie with a girlfriend who we soon realize is about as useful to Adam as a bicycle is to a fish. She doesn't want to sit with him as he gets chemo, she's super late to pick him up from the hospital (he can't drive), she doesn't comfort him as he throws up in the middle of the night. At one point he holds out his arms to her for a hug or a cuddle and she says she'd rather just go to bed. The one good thing she does is get him a dog (though even that act of attempted kindness is done poorly, even though the end result is positive)--a retired greyhound. Soon she's out of the picture, and Adam is single. And, oh, the IMAGERY.

Walking down hospital corridors alone. Walking through hospital doors alone. Sitting in doctor's offices alone. Lying on the couch at home alone. The first time I started audibly crying in the theater was a scene where we see Adam lying alone in his bed, eyes open, frowning. Then we see his greyhound lying behind him, nuzzling him before Adam goes to pet him. It's a small, short scene, but holy mother of God. My body and mind were screaming in recognition. The nights I spent in my bed sobbing, wishing someone was there to rub my back or make me tea or smooth my hair or hold me...and then Oz crawling over to me and rubbing his face in my hands, curling his little furry body into the nook of my arm, trying to drown out the horrible sounds I was making with his purrs. To be a single person going through a medical condition, and be so scared and numb and hopeless all at once and yet have an animal stay with you through the long, long nights... The need is unspeakable. Un-fucking-speakable. It was maybe the most real, mirrored-to-my-life moment I've seen in a movie in my entire life. I couldn't believe it.

And even more amazingly, the film shows that trying to meet someone new during the trauma doesn't work, doesn't fix anything or make you feel better. It's not sexy or exciting. You want someone who will 'follow you into the dark'--be there when it's disgusting or uncomfortable or there's bad news instead of good news. And if you can't have that kind of partner, it IS better to be alone (with a pet). And I think that's a huge reason of why not being able to fully let my therapist know what I went through--even though I'm trying--has become such a stresser for me. Because it makes me worry that if I can't get her to understand the full extent of my experience, how can anyone I meet from here on out understand it (like a significant other)? And I so desperately want it to be known and understood.

- So we finally learn the chemo wasn't working, and they need to operate on Adam's spine. And people, shit got fucking real for me in that movie theater. I couldn't breathe, my legs started twitching, I was biting my hands, and the tears would. not. stop. I thought we would just see him have chemo, because it was cancer. I did not expect to see him go into surgery. Even the doctor's appointment when he's told surgery was needed, I felt like I was moving in and out of consciousness. The doctor telling him he'd assign him a neurosurgeon. That due to the location on the spine, it would be very risky. All I could think of was MY neurosurgeon telling me his surgery scheduled before mine was to remove a brain tumor, which compared to my surgery, would be SUPER ROUTINE. The risk of paralysis, of severed nerves, of spinal headaches...

- And then seeing Adam sitting in a hospital bed before surgery, wearing his gown and with an IV in his arm, and having his neurosurgeon and anestheologist come speak to him. Then watching him be wheeled to the operating room. His face under the gas mask. His family/friends waiting for him, and the surgery taking longer than projected--5 hours. My first surgery was projected to be 2.5 hours and was 5.5 instead. And then him waking up post-surgery to his family and friends. In the end we even saw his incision as its dressing was changed. I mean, it was terrifyingly similar, except we were spared his recovery--thank God.

When the credits started rolling, I rushed to the bathroom, raced into a stall, and doubled over in sobs. I had friends waiting for me (loving, understanding friends), but I didn't want to leave the stall for anything (don't worry, I did eventually). Even though I didn't have cancer, it felt like I'd just seen my tiny world entered and understood. It definitely helps that the movie was based on its screenwriter's actual life experience--it was so true to mine as well. I'm planning to go see it with my mom next weekend (hopefully in an almost completely empty movie theater, for neither of us will have dry eyes), and I'm going to talk to my therapist this week about whether or not she'd like to see it (not together, of course). It's like a tremendous gift, this film, because I feel like I could lend it to people or recommend they watch it, and give them more than just a bit or piece of what I went through. Because much like Adam, I had friends and family supporting me, but the film manages to capture the loneliness and isolation and non-belief at what you thought your life and your world and your body were, and having them completely gutted.

Song of the day.


"Over and Done With" by The Proclaimers.

#317: Sail Away by Randy Newman

Sail Away by Randy Newman (1972)

Favorite Track(s): "Sail Away" and "Lonely At the Top" and "He Gives Us All His Love" and "Old Man" and "Burn On" and "Dayton, Ohio - 1903"

Thoughts: (Pre-Listening) Gosh darn it, Randy Newman, I thought I told you to GET THE FUDGE OUT! I swear, if one, just ONE of the songs on this album makes me think of a Pixar movie, I will lose it.

(Post-Listening) My expectations were blown out of the water! I should have known that any album that references sailing in its title couldn't be bad even if it tried. There were strings! And moving lyrics! A variety of styles and moods! And I felt like I was in You've Got Mail ("Lonely at the Top" is on the soundtrack)! This album was marvelous.

Here are some of the super sad lyrics from "Old Man" (which was beautiful to listen to):

Won't be no God to comfort you
You taught me not to believe that lie
You don't need anybody
Nobody needs you
Don't cry, old man, don't cry
Everybody dies

I wonder if he wrote that for his dad. Much of the album deals with religion and faith and God. I found it fascinating and challenging. The song "God's Song (That's Why I Love Mankind)" will stay with me a long, long time (which even if you don't agree with it, the best music should).

Randy Newman, well done.

Is This Better Than Help!?:


#318: Ghost in the Machine by The Police (1981)

Ghost in the Machine by The Police (1981)

Favorite Track(s): "Everything Little Thing She Does is Magic" and "Invisible Sun" and "Too Much Information"

Thoughts: The Police are back! We've heard them a few times on the list already. They always deliver fun, original pop-rock, and I like it. "Everything She Does is Magic" is definitely a sweet, lovely song that makes me think of The Wedding Singer. Other than that, I think I'm at a place where I can only appreciate this album on a nostalgic, surface level (which has been happening a lot, so you can see why I've gotten to behind on this project!) Maybe the day is coming when I'll write obsessive blog posts breaking down my abiding love for The Police, but it's not today.

Is This Better Than Help!?: Nope.

Maryann Laughing Alone With Salad


Did you ever see that collection of stock photos that went around the internet of Women Laughing Alone With Salad? They're great:

There's many more at the Women Laughing With Salad tumblr.

Anyway, I never thought I would write a blog post about salad, but here I am. I felt the need to name my favorite salads.

There are 3 salads that make up my Holy Salad Trinity (all of which were introduced to me by my friend Leigh. The woman knows what salads to order). They are all from restaurants. I never make salad at home. The bag of lettuce just sits in the fridge, growing old and limp. So I try to order salads when I'm out so they're fresh and delicious and I can still avoid scurvy.

From cheapest to most expensive salad, here we go!

Salad #1: Pagliaccio Salad from Pagliacci Pizza
"Lettuce tossed with garbanzo beans, diced red pepper, kasseri cheese, salami, red onion and our own dijon vinaigrette."

Their dijon vinaigrette is OF THE GODS. I love to get a salad and a slice of pizza so I can dip the crust in my leftover dressing.
My tip: they pack it reaaaaaally tight in the to-go container, so take it home and put it in a large bowl so you don't have lettuce flying into your face like a Snake in a Can.

Salad #2: The Original BBQ Chicken Chopped Salad from California Pizza Kitchen
"Sweet corn, black beans, jicama, cilantro, basil, tortilla chips and Monterey Jack tossed in homemade herb ranch dressing. Topped with BBQ chicken, tomatoes, and scallions."

And I always add avocado, even though it costs extra. It's like a Southwestern taste sensation, and another salad with perfect pizza-crust-dipping dressing. Though I confess I'm still not 100% sure what jicama is. It's kinda clear? And crunchy?

Salad #3: Peso's Chop Chop Salad from Peso's
"Grilled chicken breast, bacon, romaine chiffonade, basil, cotija, roma tomatoes, cucumber, and fresh herbs dressing."

Again with the ranch herb dressing! But even as good as it is, I think the key combination is the basil and bacon and cucumber. It tastes so fresh and flavorful at the same time...I could eat it forever.

Song of the day.


"Wear It Like A Crown" by Rebekka Karijord.

It's all in the theme song.

I just finished watching the first season of M*A*S*H for the first time in broadcast order. If this isn't the best show of all time, I don't know what is. Seriously. Better than Doctor Who, better than Buffy, better than anything I've ever seen. Through all the gags and thinly veiled sexism there still beats the heart of the best balance of comedy and tragedy I think we'll ever see on our television sets.

Anyway, about halfway through the season (I think--wikipedia was a total failure on this subject) the theme song dramatically changed. It was still 'Song From M*A*S*H (Suicide is Painless)' but in a jazzy, goofy style. Here was the original from the beginning of the season:

But here's the bastard version that I DESPISED WITH ALL MY BEING (sorry about the low quality, it was the best I could find):

I can just picture some studio executive saying, "This intro is too depressing. People will switch channels if they hear this song! I want it to be fun and snappy, show the viewers that this program will make them laugh! I want it peppy and light, with lots of horns and drums! Let's have every family in America tapping their toes!"

Fortunately as I started the first episode on my season 2 disc 1, the original theme had returned. I like to think people complained. Or that some higher exec (or Alan Alda himself) called out the idiot executive who changed it, saying, "Do you see what's happening on the screen while you play your silly sitcom theme? Choppers are arriving full of wounded, dying soldiers. The doctors are sprinting out to them, checking their vitals, then loading them onto jeeps to take back to surgery. There isn't even a cast roll call! Why did you ever think we should jazz up a song with SUICIDE in the title? You're fired."

The original theme is a prince among songs. It was written by Johnny Mandel and the lyrics (not used in the TV theme, which I like) are by Michael Altman, son of Robert Altman, the film's director. He was 14 when he wrote them.

Somewhere beyond the bitter end is where I want to be.


There is a butt-load of change happening in my little world right now. Well, I say a butt-load, but it's probably more like a thimble-load. It feels like a butt-load to me. I promise not to use the word 'butt-load' again in this post. I do not promise that this will be a short post, so read on at your own leisure/boredom!

I thought that yesterday was the 2 year anniversary of my first surgery, and I was like, "I should write a blog post" but then I couldn't be bothered to stay awake for more than 2 hours at a time! I thought that was a fitting way to remember all that forced bed-rest--with voluntary bed-rest! (Hey, I didn't have a drop of alcohol. Small victories, ok?) But then I looked at my Outlook calendar today, and my first surgery was actually on October 5th, not October 9th.

So I looked at what I did on October 5th, and fortunately it still turned out to be a good day of remembrance: I met with my new therapist for the first time! And so, in the end, I still spent at least an hour of that day sobbing so hard I couldn't see or talk! Which is Change #1: I'm seeing a therapist again! And not a moment too soon. (Probably quite a lot of moments too late.)

She's wonderful and I can't wait for our next appointment. I wish I could see her for hours at a time. I already feel like I am going to be a better friend and family member as a result of working with her on my 'stuff.' Huzzah!

Change #2 (and 3 and 4): Taking care of myself! In ways other than Do Whatever the Hell You Want Because You're Worth It. Things that fall into the DWTHYWBYWI category include, but are not limited to: watching hours and hours of movies and television, eating mint Milano cookies and milk as a meal, sleeping at least 12 hours at a time, etc.

You see, DWTHYWBYWI has been a very real way of 'taking care of myself' since June 2009, even though it might not sound like it. I'm sure I've talked about this on the blog before, but I can't be arsed to look it up. I made a fairly strict routine for myself post-surgeries. It wouldn't look strict to the outside world, but it took my flying to London, and therefore being stripped of much of said routine for an entire week, to realize just how strict it was. This routine, as I figured out, looked like this:

- Loads of Alone Time: I've lived alone since 2009. I don't like it. I love it. I will never stop living alone unless I lose my job or get married. I love that living alone means things happen on my schedule, no one else's. Go grocery shopping at 11pm? Sure! Do the dishes at 1am? Sure! Leave clothes strewn on every surface? Done! Sleep in until 3pm? NO ONE CAN JUDGE ME BUT GOD.

- Loads of Cat Time: My relationship with my cat is hard to describe. (That sentence in itself should scare you. It scares me.) Let me be clear in saying that I do not think of him as a substitute for a child or boyfriend, so put that out of your mind. But he is extremely dear to me. EXTREMELY DEAR. Will 2012 be the year I get a tattoo of his face over my heart? I don't know. But it could happen, people. I love every hair on his furry little body. Even the ones I have to vacuum off everything I own twice weekly.

- Loads of Media Intake: I watch loads and loads of television and movies. Quality television and movies! Not Jersey Shore or Housewives of [Rich Men], but good stuff. Good stuff that simultaneously allows me to escape but also engages my life story. Strong narratives, complex characters, compelling writing. And an episode or two of Glee. (Oooh, burn!)

- Almost Zero Silence: This means when I am in the car, I'm listening to music. When I'm in my home, the television is on. When I'm at work, I'm on the computer with music playing or if I'm not on the computer, my iPod is on. I must not be alone with my thoughts. Period.

- Loads of Laughter: You were probably wondering when other people came in to the equation! Here they are. I am very blessed to have some hilarious friends. Almost every day at work I eat lunch with people whose purpose is two-fold: to make you laugh so hard you choke on your food, and then to give you the Heimlich. In addition, I have friends outside of work who make me laugh and make me want to make them laugh. I try to get in a lot of laughter, ok? It's important to my survival. I know it sounds like a sappy chain e-mail, but I have to laugh every day or I'm in trouble.

- Food Bends To My Will: I don't eat breakfast. Unless I want to. I eat dinner at 4pm or 10pm or 6pm. I eat nothing but pasta one day, and nothing but smoothies the next. I drink with every meal. I'm never drinking again! I'm buying a succulent feast from Whole Foods because I deserve it! I'm eating a can of soup because it's all that I deserve.

- Loads of Hygiene: I must shower every day. Sometimes I have to shower twice. I used to skip a day and just wear a hat. No more! All it took was going about two weeks on bed-rest without any showers to cure me of that. I know it might sound wasteful (it is) and over-the-top, but Katharine Hepburn showered at least twice a day--sometimes 8 times a day!--and she lived to 96.

- Loads of Control: To sum up, I have become accustomed to being Lady of my time. (A Timelady if you will. It sounds much better to say 'Lord' than Lady, but oh well.)

I didn't realize it, but I believe this was the biggest part of my post-surgeries recovery. I've had a very narrow set of habits and activities. It didn't seem like it because in my mind, I was doing whatever the fuck I wanted, but in truth, I was doing a very specific set of the same things (that were also exactly what I wanted). Does that make sense? If things veered from these habits, I was wallowed up in fear, anxiety, regret, and despair. Examples?

- Camping with friends. What should have been fun and relaxing turned into "Why am I alone in this tent? I'm SO ALONE. Where is my cat? I MISS MY CAT. I wish my TV was here. I'M SURROUNDED BY COUPLES. I'm never camping again, this was a mistake."

- Going to a dance party. "Whoo-hoo! We're dancing! We're having fun! I'm enjoying my body and feeling good! Oh God, I shouldn't have worn this shirt. It's too tight. YOU'RE NEVER ALLOWED TO BUY ANYTHING SMALLER THAN AN EXTRA LARGE AGAIN. Are those girls talking about my tattoos? I should have worn long sleeves. YOU'RE NEVER ALLOWED TO WEAR SHORT SLEEVES AGAIN. I don't know this song. Every one else knows this song. I'm going to stand against the wall. Ugh, I'm so sweaty. GO HOME AND SHOWER. I'm never going to dance party again, this was a mistake."

- And the ultimate example, the one that in my mind before I left was totally ruin-proof: Going to London. "Yes! I'm in London! England! The United Kingdom! All my dreams are coming true, I am the very best version of myself, no more tears! ...I'm having trouble reading this map. God, I'm AN IDIOT. That man at the counter was slightly rude to me. I'm an idiot AND people hate me. God, I'm in everyone's way. Probably because I'm a loud, fat American who everyone hates. What am I doing in London? Why I am here? Oh, that's right, I'm a sad pathetic sap who spends money she should be putting into her savings on a trip to see actors from a sci-fi show who don't know she exists. I'm a fat, lonely idiot who's covered in ugly physical and emotional scars who leads a sad, small life who should never leave her condo until she dies. I'm never traveling again, this was a mistake." And--scene!

Alright, so things got a bit dark. So I cried in the shower every day and on the plane ride home. It was a wake-up call. A very expensive wake-up call. Which finally (are you still with me?) leads to the #2, #3, and #4 changes I promised you like, 83 paragraphs ago! I could still have my other routine, but it was time to add some positive changes to it that might make me feel a bit better about my self and my life. Finding a new therapist to help me sort through everything was step one, but here are the others.

Change #2: Going to the dentist. Yes! I've avoided the dentist for ages. But I've found a new one and she and her hygienists are lovely. I'm flossing, and even sometimes mouth-washing. It's an oral miracle. An oracle, if you will. *Snort.*

Change #3: Going to the doctor. Yes! I went! The good news is that as far as we know, my over-sized meningocele hasn't grown! Why is that as far as we know? Because I was crying so hard that the doctor didn't want to do an examination! True story. Other true story? She told me to try online dating. Don't even get me started. Final true story? I'm back on anti-depressants. Apparently she couldn't hear me saying "I lead a functional and healthy life full of enjoyment and the only reason I'm crying is because I'm in a medical office right now and having severe PTSD" over the sound of the sobs convulsing out of me between every other word.

Change #4: Joining a gym. Yes, it's true. It's open 24 hours. AWESOME. But even more awesome? Each cardio machine has its own television attached to it with...wait for it...CABLE. I was close to signing up for cable in my condo, but this will be cheaper and I will get a workout while I do it! I'm on the gym's week long free trial and have already gone three nights, and plan to go tonight and tomorrow as well. I've had a love-hate relationship with working out all my life, but the idea of power-walking on a treadmill in an almost or completely empty room for two hours while I watch anything my heart desires? That's love. Plus, there's a pool!

Changes 2-4 still fall outside my normal routine and give me some anxiety (especially #3) but they feel like baby steps to a more whole life, and manage to push me outside my comfort zone in small spurts that are pretty recoverable from with enough chocolate and Doctor Who and hugs.

I still hope to have changes 5-6 come about shortly. They are 5) Find a church and 6) volunteer again. I'd kind of like them to go together, like find a church that has opportunities for me to volunteer. Both of these things scare me, though, especially #5. Due to my past 'Let's Journey Outside the Routine' adventures going horribly awry, I am already worried with worst-case scenarios. "Ah, this church is nice. Nice people, nice service, nice building. But man, there are a lot of couples. And a lot of families. And now I'm just reminded about how many complicated feelings I have towards God. Oh SHIT, now I'm crying and it's time for the 'passing of the peace' and everyone will know I'm crying, but they're all strangers, and I just want to have 'God time' and not 'Smug couples pitying me time'! QUICK, GET OUT, GET OUT AND NEVER COME BACK!"

So I'm planning on talking with my fabulous new therapist before I try going back to church. But hey, four new changes ain't too shabby. This is my current theme song:

If you don't love Petula Clark we can't be friends.

#319: Station to Station by David Bowie


Station to Station by David Bowie (1976)

Favorite Track(s): "Station to Station" and "Golden Years" and "Word On A Wing" and "Wild is the Wind"

Thoughts: I definitely enjoy David Bowie's music, but I'm not sure I'm at the point of appreciating him where I really 'get' the Thin White Duke, his character on this album. Apparently he was full of cocaine when he made this album, and I can hear that. I can't really make heads or tails or what the point of the album was, but I enjoyed hearing it. It's super tight, funky, and 'out there' but in a complex way.

Is This Better Than Help!?: I can't understand why it would be.