Life’s Like A Jump Rope: Blue October

Yesterday was my day off and I was on Twitter (as usual), when I saw Blue October tweet that they were having a free show at the Barnes and Noble out in Moneyville. As you know, Lamesville isn’t known for its music draw and the chance to see one of my all time favorite bands in my town for free was not to be missed. So once the traffic died down I put on my Yee-haw Kitty Shirt and started the drive.

It did not go smoothly.

First, I missed my exit. Then my GPS refused to reroute it. Then the map server fell off the face of the earth and I found myself circling a fancy-pants area of town called The Rim. After giggling like a 12 year old boy, I stopped a gentleman in the Bass Pro Shop parking lot and asked him where the hell the B&N was. He gave me some circuitous directions and I finally found my way to the “venue” with only about 10 minutes to spare.

Then there was a line. The upper deck where they were having the show was filled to capacity and they weren’t letting us up. I decided I would have to content myself with just hearing the concert. Then the kind manager let the rest of us up and I squeezed myself in with a bunch of other people, all of whom were taller than me. By some amazing stroke of luck, two people moved a certain way and I was able to see Justin from between their heads.

blueoctober

The set was awesome. I finally got to hear songs from their newest album and the story behind Bleed Out made me get teary. Then he had everyone in the store sing Into The Ocean and I really got teary.

Then I found out they were signing CDs. I immediately ran down to the music department, bought a CD and got my group number (I) for the signing line. My plan was to get some Starbucks, grab a manga, and just chill ’til my group was called. Unfortunately when I got back upstairs I discovered I was in hell. I couldn’t get to the manga. It was behind where they were signing. So I made a new friend. Her name was Alex and she was like 20 years old but we bonded over nail colors and Blue October “oldies.”

When I got up to the signing table, I got the VERY LAST poster of the night. They were all “you’re the winner!”  I was all “What did I win?” What was the answer? “The very last poster!” Which they then signed for me.

swayposter

The signing was great and everything, but the real moment of the night (probably the week or possibly the month) for me came when I got to stand in front of Justin and thank him. Thank him for all the times I felt alone in my mania or depression and his words saved me. Thank him for letting me know through his songs that he had been where I was and was still going as best he could. Thank him for giving me the chance to sing along and know that someone, somewhere knew how I felt.

My voice shaking, I told him thank you. I told him I went through some really heavy stuff last year and that his music helped me through and let me know that someone else had the same issues and was keeping going. Justin shook my hand and told me he was glad to be there for me, then he said the one thing that matters to someone like me and to people with mental illness all over the world.

“You’re never alone,” he said.

How I didn’t start crying right then and there is beyond me. I gripped his hand and thanked him again, then moved along so everyone else could have their chance to thank him. I’m crying right now, though. But they’re happy tears this time.

At this time last year, I was still hiding in my house. I was hearing voices and wondering why I was even alive. I was scared all the time. I never would have been able to put on clothes, get in a car and drive myself to see a show, even if it meant meeting one of my heroes. I never would have been able to see a tweet, toss on a pair of shoes and head to Moneyville. Every day, I’m still amazed at how much I’ve been able to do since then. And through all of it, Blue October has been there to tell me that “Life’s like a jump rope.”

Thank you, Justin. More than I can ever say.

Making An Example

Today during the tech meeting (the vibe of which was actually very positive and non-threatening), I got made an example of.

You see, I’m terrified of dental radiography. I might have mentioned this. The thought of doing dentals literally made me sick to my stomach. Whenever I saw one on the schedule I considered calling in with West Nile or something. I watched YouTube videos. I studied the dental radiography textbook. It just. Wouldn’t. Stick.

So last week there was this dental and I was as terrified as ever. They handed me the probe and told me to go to town. So I did, shaking the whole time. And that’s when the doc told me I did a good job (see yesterday’s post). The rest of the day was kind of lousy but for a couple of hours I was in my happy place.

Today at the tech meeting, we were talking about “you don’t know how much you don’t know until you need to know it.” Also about confidence. The practice manager, Mo, gave me a shout out and said that she was proud of me for stepping up and doing the rads even though I was scared. Then the head tech said that she saw my confidence this morning because we needed to do a film of the cat’s incisors and instead of fumbling around, I grabbed the probe and took the shot and that everyone should follow my example. It made me feel good.

You know how they say it takes two months for every good job to turn to shit? Well, I’m coming up on my three months and while I’ve had a lot of stressful days I feel like the overall vibe of the clinic is a good one. Our practice manager actually listens to and addresses our concerns, and she is someone I feel I can easily talk to about issues. The doc I work for is very critical and picky, but I’ve kind of got an idea of what he wants. And my coworkers are, well, respectful. No one makes fun of anyone else, whenever we laugh it’s with one another instead of at one another, and everyone works hard every day.

All I ever wanted out of a job was a place where I could work long-term and feel comfortable. I’m still hesitant to say that things are peachy because I’m seriously gun-shy, but right now I’m happy. Mostly.

Unexpected Camp Memory

Recently, Mister E went outside and I caught a whiff of the air on the porch. It smelled like rain, which means that six drops probably hit someone’s windshield and someone was calling it the storm of the century. My crazy olfactory memory kicked into high gear and the next thing I knew I was awash in the relatively distant past and thinking about camp.

SUMMER CAMP

Picture from Campfire Ft. Worth

For four or five years when I was a wee’un, I went to Camp El Tesoro. Those were some of the best times of my life.

When I was very wee, I was allowed to be out of the house for several hours a day via Camp Fire’s day camp program. It was fun, I earned beads and patches that I then sewed on my little red vest. When I reached fourth or fifth grade, I was able to go to El Tesoro, the overnight camp for two sessions a year.

If it hadn’t been for summer band camp, I would have happily continued until 11th grade, at which time I would have become a CIT (Counselor in Training) and taken all kinds of shit from campers. I might have gone to school in North Texas and been a counselor until I graduated. Thinking back on it, I kind of wish I would have.

You see, I don’t have bad memories from summer camp. Everything I remember is fondly, from drinking gallons of Kool-Aid to singing camp songs as the sun went down, to the cicadas outside, to being sure I had poison oak (it was mosquito bites). I can remember all the buildings; the Health House where I laid down with migraines, the main lodge where we all ate and sang and had our talent show, the screened cabins where I started my camp career, then the larger cabin that was the venue for my middle school Rocky Horror Picture Show medley, then Horizon Lodge where I spent my last summer before I entered high school. There was the building we used for arts and crafts, the stables, the camp store, everything. And judging from the photos I saw of the camp, not much has changed.

I did things at camp I would never be able to do at home, or even allowed to do. Horseback riding, canoeing, and learning to take and develop my own photographs were some of my favorite things, and as blurry as those black and whites were I was so proud of them. I also made beaded bracelets that looked like daisy chains, learned riddles, and tried to learn how to swim. Unsuccessfully.

Memories just keep coming. Getting letters from Big D, shopping at the camp store, wearing my Campfire vest with its beads and badges at the closing ceremony, telling the younger kids that someone had drowned in the deep end of the pool by the lodge because it was a story we all heard as younger campers. I remember having a crush on one of the counselors when I was in 8th grade, becoming a vegetarian for part of the summer after talking to one of the counselors, keeping some of the other kids from teasing my special-needs friends, swearing I saw ghosts. I remember the smell of the ear drops they used to keep us from getting swimmer’s ear – we all had to stand in line to get them after we got out of the pool.

And on the rare occasions when Texas would allow it to rain, it smelled just like it did outside the other day. That smell, of humidity and earth and the very slight coolness that accompanies it, sends me back to the trails between our cabin and the main lodge every time.

Sometimes I dream about camp. Not being a kid and going to camp, really, more like driving up to the front gates just so I could get out and walk around and remember. Often I wonder if they allow tours for alumni, or if we lived up North if they would allow an old lady like me to be a counselor. Then I remember that time’s gone.

This was the bridge that separated the real world from our world at camp. To many adults it just looks like a bridge joining the parking lot to the main camp but even now it looks like a bridge to another world to me.

Happy 6th Unniversary

Twelve years ago tomorrow, August 11th, I married one of my best friends.

We have informed people that, sadly, ours does not count as a starter marriage because we were married for 5 and a half years. A lot of people like to speculate on the reasons we got divorced but the answer is the most uncomplicated one possible. We got married young and people change. It happens. We’re lucky that we’re still such good friends because from what I hear, it’s pretty rare. I always feel a little guilty that we had a quick, uncomplicated divorce when I hear about my friends being dragged through court and refusing to speak to their exes ever again.

I wrote already about the hilarity that surrounded our actual wedding but this is different, I guess. Not that there wasn’t plenty of hilarity in our marriage – everything from totaling my car hitting a deer (remind me to tell you about that sometime) to the 5 pounds of chicken skulls and the marsh in our living room – but there was a lot of other stuff too.

I suppose this post is just a quick one to say thank you to RJ, who put up with a lot of stuff from me. I had a lot of the problems I had now, but he helped me through a lot of them and helped me see that I was worth being loved and that no matter what happened, there was always someone who was going to be there for me. He still is, and even though it’s embarrassing to me to have to ask him for help I feel like I can do it because no matter what may have happened between us, we’re still family.

There are a lot of things I remember vividly about the time we were married, in that sensory way I have. Sounds, smells, the feeling of the air conditioning in his parents’ house, the color of the carpet in our duplex and the cats thundering down the stairs of the fourplex where we lived in College Station. There were bad times and arguments, but there were a lot of good times as well. Without him, I probably wouldn’t have gotten interested in gaming. I know I wouldn’t have ever gotten into an accident at the US-Mexico border, but we still blame that one on D (who is now A).

I’m lucky. In a week, I’ll be getting married again to Mister E and RJ will be there beside me like he’s been for more than 13 years, wishing me well. Even though I regret losing so many years with Mister E, I will never regret marrying RJ, even though we didn’t end up with the “’til death do we part” bit.

Christ on a cracker, we look so young.

Foodie Pen Pal for June!

Oh man, do I ever love my Foodie Pen Pals!

The Lean Green Bean
First, some details. Click on over if you want to sign up, but you have to be sure and get your info in by July 4th!
-On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal!
-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
I’m going to preface this by saying that everything in this picture, with the exception of a little bit of the Mini Pop on the right, is already in my stomach. No sooner had I snapped this picture than I tore into the box of cookies and started scarfing them. They were that delicious.
Once again, I was seriously spoiled by my Foodie Pen Pal, Dianna from Kansas City. She sent me cookies, popped apple chips, mini popped sorghum grains and popped rice cakes. Every one of them were wonderful, low-sodium, healthy snacks that I couldn’t wait to tear into!
The Home Free mini cookies were gone within three days between me and Mister E, the YogaVive strawberry apple chips got nommed in a sitting while we were watching videos, the Magic Pop cake/chips are my go-to gaming snack, and the teeny tiny adorable Mini Pop has been a huge hit with both me AND our birds. Popcorn is way too big for them but these little bitty grains are just perfect for a treat. Plus, it was adorable to watch my cockatiel nibbling a piece of “popcorn.”
The only problem with my delicious snacks is that now that they’re gone I have no idea where to get more. I’m making it my personal mission to either find those Yogavive chips at Whole Foods or make them order me a case. Seriously, those are the best freaking dried apples I have ever had.
Huge thanks to Dianna, I loved EVERYTHING! You should totally become pen pals, too, it’s super-fantastic!