Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Ordinary Makes Life Work

I woke up to the sound of pouring rain. I glanced out the window and could tell that none of my plans for today would work. Mentally, I revised my plans and tried to come up with something better. "Today," I thought to myself, "would be an excellent day to go to the nursing home to visit my friend."

Filled with a sense of renewed purpose, I managed to get myself up and ready. There is something about purpose that is so healing. I have very little of it in my life, so this felt good. However, I was supposed to meet someone just before that I was concerned would conflict with this. Luckily, it didn't.

When I got to the bus stop, I could see the bus was full. A few months ago, that would have completely scared me away, but today I was determined to do something meaningful, and not come home and complain about my life. So I got on. Or tried to - the bus driver refused to lower the ramp for me so I could get on the bus without hurting myself, which is a problem that has only developed recently. He said it was only for wheelchairs. I told him the transportation manager of Metro had told me it was for anyone with a disability, and assured him I would be contacting him if he refused me access. He let me on.

The woman I visit was sitting outside when I got there, which is unusual for her. I was so relieved I wouldn't have to go looking for her, which makes me anxious but I am willing to do it. Her face lit up when she saw me, as did mine when I saw her. We only had about 45 minutes before she had to leave for dinner, but I felt safe in those 45 minutes. I just felt safe, because I was in the company of someone who actually wanted to be with me. I relaxed, even if just for a few minutes, for the first time in days. It didn't matter what we talked about.

A 93 year old visiting Catholic priest came to give her Communion, which is something I have never witnessed before but found interesting. The content of the prayers... well, some of the prayers... were not that different from the prayers we say at the synagogue. The parts about loving each other and praying for one's health and happiness... not all that different. I couldn't get over how amazing it was that she could still do this at 93, and my friend clearly loved being around her, which was cool. 

I talked to the receptionist a bit and left for a bus I ended up having to wait way too long for, but such is life. I saw my friend Ryan when I got off the bus and Lillian when I got on the next , shorter bus home. I felt like part of a community when this happened.

These are small insights, small accomplishments, nothing notable or profound - except that it is.

Because every day you fight bone-crunching depression and anxiety to be able to go out and do something for someone else is a day you save yourself from a fate that is almost unbearable.

It wasn't a remarkable day if you compare it to most things. But it pulled me if only briefly out of ever-growing depression and anxiety episode, and for that, I am glad.

It was nearly a year ago - 10 months or so - when I started going here. At that time, I thought I could NEVER take the bus there. It took months to get used to going there. But today, I handled both the bus and the building with no problem.

I only hope and pray there will be other things I can learn do with as much ease in my life that I am convinced are impossible now.


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Chicken Soup for the Bus Adventuring Soul (Or, My Trip to the Bookstore)

Having nothing to do and no-one to meet, a rarety for me, and getting up too late to even go to the hot dog stand, I was left with a decision. A decision of how I would engage with the world for the requisite couple hours to shut off my brain and distract myself from, well, me. You know how it is - getting out of our heads can take an act of Congress. At least for me! I have to remind myself there is a world outside of all the crises and paranoid visions of disaster going on in my head on a daily basis, in order to survive. Which, given my problems tolerating the outside world, is an interesting dilemma sometimes!

So, I had been doing so well tolerating the Westbrook bus, I decided I would try the mall bus and go to the big chain bookstore by the mall. (I am never going to the mall again.) I haven't been on the mall bus in several years, and like everything else, was scared of it. But, having little to lose other than the rest of my sanity, I decided to try it. I had tried the bookstore a few weeks ago with my caseworker and tolerated it.

The bus driver on the way there was the guy who used to drive the Falmouth bus when I lived in Yarmouth 2.5 yrs ago, so it was nice to see him again, a friendly face. My knees are killing me now, but I'm trying to be positive.

Books A Million: Where you can walk around for an hour ooh-ing and ahh-ing over all kinds of interesting things and still not get around to perusing a single book. Because the books definitely take second string to the toys,games,magazines and etc there. But hey, it amused me, I enjoyed looking at stuff, and when I was done, O grabbed a book and sat on the surprisingly comfortable chairs and read for half an hour. I also found some things to get for Rob's birthday, which is a good thing, as well as something for Nate and for my grandma. For me, I found a sticky note pad that said OY VEY and made me laugh. I spent more than I would have liked, but only a few dollars an item and it seemed like as long as I was there, I should make use of it.

Getting back was a little tricky. The bus driver told me I could go to JC Penney or Hannaford, but dropped me off at Macy's, and neglected to tell me that the bus comes to Macy's BEFORE the time listed on the bus schedule, not after. I got there 3 minutes before but apparently still missed it. I figured, it's a bus stop, the schedule says 750, it's 747, what's the problem? 20 minutes later, it became apparent it was not going to come. Back to the bookstore to wait an hour for the next  bus, and this time I decided to use the Hannaford stop. Which was somewhat nostalgic as it's what I used to do in 2007 when I used to come a lot. Finding Hannaford took me a couple tries (it's BEHIND the bookstore, not in front!), but I got there, and this time the bus came exactly when it was supposed to. A kind driver explained my mistake. No fragrance issues, knock on wood.

I still thought I'd miss the 925 bus back to my apt when we got back downtown, and have to wait 45 minutes in the dark for the next one, but as we got closer I realized we were very close to Maine Med. So I asked the driver if he went near Maine Med. He turned at Congress and St John (I think) which APPEARED to be very close. However, it turned out to be a 12 min walk uphill, and I was very frustrated by the end. I was yelling out loud to release my angst and swearing never to do that again. Live and learn. I've not walked further up that hill than the Mexican grocery store a few blocks down. On the plus side, now I know what Salvage BBQ looks like. It's quite hard to figure out where you are in the dark when you've passed the last thing you recognize and just want to be home already, but I suppose it was better than waiting 45 minutes for a connecting bus. I was going to take a cab, but thought it would only be a 5 minute walk.

So I am home, and I know my knees will hurt, but I am glad to be able to say I tried something new, and made myself get out of the house and out of my head for 2 hours. I may complain about physical pain, but thank goodness that the sense of desperation, anxiety and depression over having nothing I feel capable of doing has been at least lessened for another day.

And so I fight, one day at a time, to be part of this world in a way I can tolerate.

Thank you  for coming on this journey with me.

I spent half the time I was in Books a Million reading a copy of the Chicken Soup for the Soul book on Positive Thinking (Okay, yes, I'm still a hidden self improvement junkie) so I might as well apply that here if I can.

Lessons Learned: That huge Maine Med sign that you can see from like a mile away? Yeah, objects in the distance may apear closer than they are, lol.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Reflections on a Fall Day

Reflections of a Fall Day - September 22, 2016

It was such a lovely beautiful day, and I met my friend at the square at 3:30, when I got off the bus. I love how I can make her laugh! Even with little things. That's such a gift, being able to make someone laugh. We laughed about the really bad singer who sounded like he was on drugs hanging around the bus stop. Someone near me was like "God, I hope he doesn't get on this bus." We commented on how many people were around and what a beautiful day it was. Around 75, sunny, a breeze, no humidity. Warm in the sun, perfect in the shade.

We walked towards the hot dog stand, and sat for about 20 minutes listening to C talking about music. D gives the obligatory pun/found something to make fun of; he never fails to get a laugh out of me. Today, he had little cards printed up making fun of LePage, and at the very bottom it said "I should have shot it when I saw it at Marden's," a reference to the old theme song. While I don't condone violence, it made me laugh. Satisfied that I had gotten my weekly dose of D's humor, I sat back down again with Amber, bought a water from Mark, and then we decided to continue on our journey through New England's most beautiful city.

We walked down Exchange and said hello to Anna selling her pictures, and encountered our first street vendor at the bottom of Exchange on Commerical. Our goal is to go see the cruise ship that is docking in Portland for the day, and whatever  street vendors are left selling to the tourists.

Four street vendors are left out of the probably hundred that were there earlier. Lovely, connected, and spontaneous conversations occur with all of them. With one friendly guy I've seen many times before, I sympathize with his long hours and compliment his wares. One recognizes me from my synagogue, I don't know him but that was cool. One tells me how all the passengers today were British and had disabilities, very interesting. I get to hear the accent of one very British woman who comes back to pick up the magnets she forgot. I adore accents, but I can barely understand this one! Oh, what fun, I wish I could hear more. I whisper in my friend's ear "That's so cool!" We glance at the cruise ship when we finally reach our destination and make the long trek back. The breeze and sunshine play with my hair and feel good on my skin. I feel satisfied. I have a meeting that occurs on a bench by the hot dog stand. I then head to the library, spend a half hour peacefully lost in my thoughts, and get the bus home. I end up singing to the songs on my mp3 player as I wait for the bus, something I always enjoy but can never do on demand - it always has to come when the mood strikes me. "She's just singing to the scarecrow,
Trying to let the whole world know how wonderful it feels,To be here on this South Kentucky Farm
Singing to the scarecrow."

When I have days like this, and write things like this, it reminds me that I am part of a community, even though I can't go in many buildings. And I wonder how it differs from the way other people feel or don't feel part of their communities, I wonder if I have more than others and don't realize it, or less, or the same in different ways. I wonder if all of the begging I do for more would be quieted if I had a different way to perceive what I have.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Found: A Sense of Self-Respect

Found: A Sense of Self-Respect

It was hiding in a gift shop down in the Old Port, which contained dozens of magnets, cards, bumper stickers and every other kind of, as my grandma would say, tchotchke with inspirational and just plain funny sayings. I also found some of it in the toy shop where I bought a small rubber foot. The second shop had a rubber hand. The sychronicity was amusing.

Due to circumstances out of my control, including personality conflicts with certain employees, I have made a goal to stay away from the market.

This is a lot harder than it sounds for anyone who doesn't know me well and how much time I would spend in there every single day (6 days a week), and how I arranged my entire life around it, and refused to go anywhere else.

Physical symptoms and emotional symptoms interact to make going anywhere else a very difficult proposition for me, but I did it today.

After many months of refusing.

My targets were the toy store (because who doesn't want a bit of nostalgia), and the store that used to be Communiques many years ago, the novelty store on the corner of Exchange and Commercial. They were the two stores I'd walk past and always say "Some day, I'm going back in there again" but never did.

After the first store: felt a little off but proud of self, feeling a sense of contentment that I did it, sitting resting on wharf by water and listening to a lovely band perform next door.

Second store: felt like a truck ran over me. But hey. There were a lot of cute things in there.

Despite my avoidance of the market, I did manage to score a juice at the smoothie place's second location, which was also at the bottom of Exchange. I have never been so grateful to call and hear names I didn't know. I was hoping it wouldn't be the same people working at the market. It wasn't. They were nice enough to bring the juice outside without hesitation and made it right, (because 2 new places was my limit and I couldn't add a third), and at least I had a reward for all my hard work. And a way to use the gift card my friend had bought me.

So, I still feel as a truck ran over me, but I'm also remembering that it will likely pass.

And I'm remembering that spending all my energy trying to avoid feeling like this was getting me into a lot more trouble, and creating a lot more anxiety, than hopefully this (eventually) will. Because I still have anxiety but I also have self-respect. And that's something you can't put a price tag on.

And the hope that if I take it slow and try not to completely overwhelm myself, that this will lead somewhere, somewhere where that self respect can increase and I can have at least some parts of the life I have always wanted.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Or in this case, a foot that takes that step. (Shows you my new rubber foot). Can you say that this was quite a feat? (This would work better if I was showing you my new cute rubber foot.)

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Beach Boys Concert on Pier with Nate

Random rough draft of rambling thoughts I want to record from the Beach Boys and Temptations concert Nate and I were lucky enough to see at the ferry terminal/pier tonight. It looked like it was going to rain but it didn't, thankfully! 
I have good thoughts fighting with bad thoughts, and I want the good thoughts to win. I am fighting anxiety right now. I can't take 2 nights in a row of panic, but it was worth the very awesome beach boys concert concert we went to, nate and I. I have such good friends, I am so happy he was willing to come with me and bring my chair so i could sit and enjoy the concert without being in agony omg it was really cool! so it started off really slow but we just made fun of the first few songs to entertain ourselves, they started out with Let's Do It Again, worst beach boys song ever, boring, so hey it could only go up from there right?
Then every surfing song known to man right in a row, lol.. surfing safari, surfer girl, etc. altho surfing USA was later. they were ok but kinda boring. oh so there was this woman sitting next to us, she was very friendly, i chatted with her before i found nate. she was so much friendlier than the people who were next to me at the kenny rogers concert!! also she knew who petula clark was who they played in between the temptations and beach boys on the sound system which was awesome.
Oh yeah 6 temptations songs got 20 min of the 40 they played not bad they did do i wish it would rain but thankfully it didn't! not until a little after 9 when i got home! very lucky we were!! Ball of confusion, my girl, the way you do the things you do, papa was a rolling stone, just my imagination.
Anyway so after like 45 min of decent but mostly un-exciting songs they finally hit the jack pot! SLOOP JOHN B was very fun. Despite feeling like i had no energy to sing cus air was a little thick i sang cus omg fun song which was followed by wouldnt it be nice which is so awesome and then followed by a raeally good cover of "and then he kissed me" which the crystals did
I don't know why but i dont feel same writing here
Then they did CA girls, and God Only Knows! Songs you can sing along to!
There were the most awesome people sitting by us. These two older guys, I didnt notice for a while. But I started a convo with one about his dog. So cool! The one guy was singing along to some of them, we both sang to CA girls so i think that was my favorite song for that reason. other guy said "you're too young to know all this" lol and said "i can tell you're an enthusiast!" and said "this is incredible" cus he had just come in from ferry from peaks and saw the concert!
So the part when those 2 guys were there and talking/singing/guessing what songs would be next was the best part. Nate and I were also guessing what songs would be next and making fun of the bad ones. All in all it was a very fun 90 min and other than my hand from clapping I actually didn't injure anything for once. Kind of amazing, given me. Finale was Good vibrations and fun, fun fun.
Song list (Yes I wrote them down, too overwhelmed to process it when it's happening so I want to remember them! )
I could identify nearly every song within about 5 seconds and that made me feel good and impressed the people around me  you got to be good at something! that rush of - is it adrenaline, or just joy, or both , When you recognize a song you like - even if you dont like it much - the surprise factor - THAT is what I love about concerts! and need more. it releases all my happy endorphins! it used to happen on the radio.
Do it Again
Three surfing songs - surfing safari, girl, usa etc
new original song
cover - why do fools fall in love
when i grow up to be a man
be true to your school
don't worry baby
little deuce coupe
I get around
cover - CA dreaming
original new song
Sloop John B
Wouldn't it Be Nice
And then he kissed me
CA Girls - this is the one the guy sang with me
God Only Knows
Do you wanna dance
All summer long - boring but obscure-ish
Help me Rhonda- great crowd response
Kokomo-boring but Nate likes it
Break, then good vibrations
and fun fun fun to end it!
Twenty five songs in all, not bad at all!
Then I was able to get the cab back in 3 minutes amazing timing so i wouldnt have to walk back to the square and try to time it with the bus which was a good choice esp cus it started raining right as we got back!
I met this interesting guy on the bus this afternoon, he had a bunch of bottles, he was young, intellectually disabled, kept talking about how he was going to falmouth, but then he got off at congress sq which doesn't connect with the falmouth bus so i felt bad for him and hoped he figured out how to get to falmouth. 3 more stops and he would have been in the right place but i couldnt get to him to tell him. hopefully he walked there.

Friday, June 10, 2016

The Paradox of Intelligence

The Paradox of Intelligence

Or: Why Smart Kids are Often All Alone

So when I was in college, once, in a (rather common) fit of despair I asked my psychology professor why I couldn't seem to get the other kids to talk to me. Something to that effect.

His answer was "They're scared of you because you're so smart."

I never in a million years would have expected that. I didn't consider myself smart or not smart.... Just me. I didn't understand why someone would be scared of someone smart.  I have never been able to dumb myself down because I have never been able to understand what about me is so "smart," what smart IS, other than a recipe for not making friends easily. I have never had a great grasp of how I come across to others. It's one reason I can be relatively un-self conscious in many situations, such as doing the open mic the other day where I wrote and read a poem on the spot. But it leaves me not understanding when I'm liked, either. It spares me from a lot of the bad and all of the good, this lack of the ability to understand how I am perceived by others. It can be very isolating.

So after another day where yes, I socialized, and yes, I had several engaging conversations,
I realized something when I was at the library tonight. I was sitting in a chair, engrossed in reading the newspaper. Someone I know who works there said "Hi." That might not sound like much, but it was huge. I am a very social person, yes. But I start and intitiate EVERY. SINGLE. CONVERSATION. I can count on one hand the number of times people have said hi to me first, started a conversation with me first, or acted happy to see me before I started trying to entertain in order to be liked. I spend every day giving my all to make other people happy and engage with them. Very few people return the favor, and it kills me inside.

I watch how easily people interact at the public market. I watched, on the bus home, how easily a woman got into a conversation with the bus driver. And I think of how I still can't feel liked, and I still can't like myself, because in every instance I'm the one putting in all the effort to create these interesting, novel connections I have every day. I don't doubt that there are many people who genuinely enjoy talking to me when I start the conversation. But I do doubt that I can fully enjoy these interactions back, because all of the energy I use to start them and to wonder if they really want to talk to me wipes me clean. I have nothing left to truly take in their energy. And I'm sick of it. The anxiety it creates in me is ridiculous. The empty hole in me is seldom ever filled, even despite a ridiculous amount of effort on my part to "put myself out there."

So maybe my psychology professor was right, all those years ago. But I don't know how to dumb myself down. I don't know how to talk in the easy breezy cover girl way that other people do. I don't know how to look like I'm not trying (because this is what people want, casual and easy). I only know how to try harder. But the interesting, ironic, awful secret of social interactions is that often, the harder you try, the worst your result. People sense when you're trying too hard, and it scares them off. They don't understand it, so they scatter. So where, then, does that leave me, and the many other intelligent, warm, wonderful but a little off the beaten path Aspies and non-Aspies out there?

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Lessons in Leaving

Lessons in Leaving... title comes from song that Kenny Rogers' duet partner sang at concert, a Jo Dee cover.

Talking about brain retraining: I am trying to retrain my brain to see pain not as a source to panic about, but as a temporary and necessary part of being in the world that will get better given some time and patience. Man, that's hard!

The good from today: Well, first I was in the Western Prom and it was too hot and muggy. I went downtown and got there earlier than usual and was pretty anxious for an hour or so. Then I met my friend C, who saved me with her conversation and the ability to connect to someone, and then met with my therapist. And Amber, briefly.

Kenny Rogers was going to be on the maine state pier/ferry terminal and I didn't know if I had enough energy to go. I don't even like Kenny Rogers *that* much, but he is country. And outside, a 15 minute walk away, and free.Sooo, hard to pass that up given that the weather was quite decent at 7pm when it was time to go. Mid 60s, felt warm enough but less muggy.

Sooo, I was nervous about if I would be able to enjoy it or even have the energy to walk there, but I did. Concert started at 6 with opening acts, so I timed it to get there at around 730 because person on the phone who I called at Waterfront Concerts told me 7 to 730. Market closes at 7, so took my time getting there, got there at 7, and was told he was in his second song. Perfect!

It felt good to be doing something out of my routine and to have a purpose. I wasn't sure where I was going to sit, but I knew there was a bench right outside the ticketed area I had sat in last year. Found it, some people sitting there but was able to share with them. Got into some mild conversation about country with the guy next to me. He was a Kenny Chesney fan. Had an adorable blonded haired maybe three yr old daughter. There were maybe 20-30 people standing and hanging out behind ticketed area. One older couple dancing, looking totally in love, was so cute. People looked happy to see him.

The sound quality wasn't very good, and neither was the choice of songs. But it was still cool to hear him. His farewell tour. The songs he did that I know were: What Condition your condition is in - with the First Edition, which is a song the oldies station used to play.
Surprising. Very early in show. The song about "She believes in me..." I don't know many Kenny Rogers. There was a woman with him, forget her name. She did Jo Dee Messina's Lessons in Leaving, and THAT made me excited. Not a very good job of it, but exciting to hear a song I knew. Maybe 4 songs I knew.

I stayed for about 45-50 minutes, alternating between standing and sitting. Bench was not great for my back but not as bad as it could have been.

As I was leaving, I saw a guy sitting on the wall by the entrance to the ferry terminal with a sign asking for money. I was following other people hoping to beat my post-event anxiety but when I saw his sign, I didn't want to miss the opportunity for a good conversation. People who are .... disenfranchised often are also much more open, have big hearts and are very engaging to have conversations with. I actually walked back a block or two to give him a dollar, then got into a half hour conversation with him about country music, music in general, life, and the importance of being yourself. Very nice energy about him. We could just barely hear Kenny from there, but when The Gambler came on, his face just lit up and it was so nice to see. His dad used to listen to Kenny Rogers, and it had been his favorite song. He lost his apartment due to high rents, and his job when they found out he was homeless. He's moving to the South for lower cost of living and more jobs there. I just like open people willing to share their stories with me. It made me happy, and made him happy as well. The human connection was obviously worth more than the dollar, but the dollar was the key that opened it up. If only "normal" people were as easy to engage in meaningful, fulfilling, honest conversation as the panhandlers that so much of society denigrates. Not all of them, of course, but I seem to have a good sense of which ones will be. That's the second panhandler I've had a heart to heart conversation with this week!

He used to volunteer in an organization that gave out supplies to homeless people, but now finds himself on the other side unexpectedly. Sad.

The walk back, which I had been fearing so much, actually went fast. Places where I normally would have to take breaks I didn't have to this time. It took only 15 minutes or so to get from ferry terminal to Monument Sq and I didn't even feel exhausted after. I must have been happy because of him. Or else I was aware of my tiredness but not panicking over it, I dunno. I felt somewhat invigorated, like I accomplished something. Walking through the Old Port at night is invigorating also - the nightlife is just.... It's like a different world. I seldom am in the old port at night. All the people spilling out of everywhere, the people outside every resteraunt, it's... there's a sense of joy that pervades.

I timed the bus well and got back to Mon. Sq. around 9:15 for the 920 bus. Saw Mysti briefly. Got on bus. Saw a girl I've met before who works at the candy shop in town and had a very enthusiastic conversation with her the whole way back. We both were out later than usual. Just about the candy shop, being in the old port at night, fancy resteraunts that my dad likes, just a sharing of energy that felt very genuine. I felt in my element and happy to be sharing with her. I felt happy to have gone out of my comfort zone and done something different, and accomplished somehow. To be independent, to have achieved something fun on my own power, without having to beg anyone for help in any way. That was probably it.

So that's hopefully worth the fact that my back hurts more now, but hey it was already hurting somewhat before and a girl has to try to find a way to have fun in her life.

I know that soon after I write this I will likely dip back into anxiety or likely even the despair I had this morning and most of the afternoon, so I am enunciating every detail so that I can remember, joy is possible, even on humid, warm days when your apt feels like a dungeon and outside feels 10 times worse, even when you think there's nothing left in life that could possibly make it worth living, joy is possible. But it always comes where you least expect it.

I thought I'd be so tired I'd need to (try) to take a cab back, but it ended up being the best part, somehow.

The energy put out needs to be countered by benefits somehow.... Can't be all sensory/physical overload .....but if there are enough benefits to counter the risks and sensory.... then good can come. What a delicate balance that is!

Have to overcome my aversion to pain, sensory stuff, etc, in order to have some sort of life and not be panicking all the time. One day at a time.

So THAT was my day. Having a problem with apt, that I can't begin to solve yet, but trying just not to panic and remember life is still possible. One day at a time. I don't know the answer but I am trying to remember not to panic, and I will find my way. Now to eat, watch TV, hope the heating pad helps my back, hope I can sleep, and then do tomorrow. Goodnight all (soon)!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Fun with 60s Music Street Musicians

Wednesday, May 14-15-16ish, 2016
I was sitting at Mark's hot dog stand, having a conversation. I was about to leave when I decided to check on the guitar player across the street to make sure I wasn't missing anything. I do love live street music, and I'm not really picky about what it is, I just love the vibe of it. But, that said, I do have a special place in my heart reserved for music I actually know and like. That's a rare find. So I cross the street and I'm like, "Hey, I know this song. What is it? I couldn't place it at first, then after 2 or 3 lines I'm like Neil Diamond! and I start singing along to Solitary Man. Totally exciting. The guy was super nice and had a great personality, too. I told him how much I loved Neil Diamond, and he was like "Do you like Shiloh?" which happens to be one of my favorite 60s songs of all time. Oh, man, that was fun! I closed my eyes, let the emotion of the song surround me, and sang my heart out. He had a great smile on his face while he sang, clearly enjoying sharing the song with me.
I was late to meet a friend, but I called and let her know and decided I could stay for one or two more songs. I wished I had gotten there earlier! But I am glad I checked to see what it was. Now, of all songs in the entire world or even 60s universe he could have done, the next one surprised me and delighted me, x100.
"Oh, I could hide 'neath the wings
Of the bluebird as she sings.
The six o'clock alarm would never ring..."
It was the opening of Daydream Believer, which used to be like my #2 favorite song of the entire 60s. Monkees. Ohhh, fun, fun, fun, I've never heard that song sung live before. I had to go, but he said he'd do Simon and Garfunkel next, and I couldn't resist. Sounds of Silence. I was too tired to sing more, but I could have, and oh, wow, I would have loved to stay for like a whole half hour or hour. What a delight. I said "How do you know all my favorite songs?" He said "You're my biggest fan, everyone else has just walked by and not paid any attention. We made each other happy then! He wanted to take a selfie and I said Cool, and we had Mark take it so it came out good. Mark even offered him a free beverage cus he sounded so good and played a private concert right by the hot dog stand for us. smile emoticon He has a mailing list, so I might even get to see him again!
It is quite rare to even find a random street musician singing the Beatles, but to find one singing random awesome 60s songs that I have never even heard live before, *that* is a treat. I'll listen to most street musicians for at least a few minutes, but this was something else.
Then I went to the market to see Shirley, who gave me some useful advice and a lot of emotional support, encouragement and validation about trying to get services. She made me feel heard. I was late and trying to fit in a lot to the conversation so tiny bit overwhelmed, but in retrospect, that is what she did. I have only met her a few times before, but I am lucky to know someone like her. She knows the system because of her son, and she can help give me guidance about what I should do.
Then Ryan and Amber in the mkt, and came home.
Before then, Kathy, the friend of the lady who usually has the dog, in the western prom, some nice sun there. An accopello (sp?) female singing group in Monument Sq. This guy Wayne who said he knew me from somewhere. Turns out I went to see a room he had for rent 3 yrs ago and he remembered me from there. Said he was sorry the room didn't work for me cus he thought I would have made a great roommate!
So considering how bad I felt when I got up, and how depressed, anxious and hopeless I usually feel every day, and how little structure I had today, I made a good day out of my time today. I can be proud of that. The sun sure helped, but trying to reach out to people around me is what makes me feel safe, calm, and connected, for at least a few hours a day. Makes up for yesterday I suppose when I had very few connections.
You never know when you're going to find something that makes your world feel all right again. You may just turn the corner and find a 60s music singer.

Saturday, May 21, 2016
Post from FB, Second time of seeing 60s singer - John Kyle is his name. 

Ok. Before I get too tired. 60s singer.
He is so cool with the obscure 60s songs. Of all the Peter, Paul and Mary songs he could possibly have done.... He chose a little known song called "Day is Done" that I used to LOVE but hadn't heard in so many years that it took me half the song to remember the name of it. I love that feeling of familiarity, the excitement of anticipation, the sudden burst of realization when you figure out what it is.
Oh wow, I totally forgot just how amazing that song is.
Seriously. Amazing. PPM have a lot of great songs but he overlooked all the obvious ones and went for the true gem.
No wonder I'm so tired, lol. These were some quality songs.
Then he did by request Puff the Magic Dragon and some of Leaving on a Jet Plane, also Marvelous Toy! He did Troggs Love is All Around, Sound of Silence, I can't really remember the rest even though I wrote them down. 7 or 8 songs. Nate came by, and requested an Eagles song, which he did a few lines of .Nate liked it and tipped him.
Then there was American Pie... my request also... he did everything by request.... so anyway he only knew the first couple verses.... but I have had this middle verse of American Pie memorized since I was a kid...Never thought that'd come in handy... But he played the music on the guitar and I sang and I felt so powerful.... I was creating music where that had been none before.... I have never gotten to sing solo to .... music before. Like karoke I guess. I put so much passion into that verse. I felt confident. It felt good! We were trading lines of the song, trying to remember the lyrics. It felt good.
I just looked it up, I got the lyrics right! For some reason, these few verses have been stuck in my head for years. They're just so emotional, I love that.
"Did you write the book of love
And do you have faith in God above
If the Bible tells you so?
Do you believe in rock and roll?
Can music save your mortal soul?
And can you teach me how to dance real slow?
Well, I know that you're in love with him
'Cause I saw you dancin' in the gym
You both kicked off your shoes
Man, I dig those rhythm and blues
I was a lonely teenage broncin' buck
With a pink carnation and a pickup truck
But I knew I was out of luck
The day the music died
I started singin'
Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
And them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singin' this'll be the day that I die
This'll be the day that I die"
This song has a lot of verses, lol
Then he actually knew some country, not to sing so much but was familiar with and liked, and did attempt a few verses of Whiskey Lullaby. Also he turns out to have been a computer programmer from LA, which Rob might be interested to hear! Spent like an hour there. Didn't know he'd be there. Got there at 3:45, left around 4:45. Knees are a little sore from trying to dance but hey it was fun. Then hung out with Nate at the market a bit.

Monday, May 16, 2016



The gasp of delight. The utter and total disbelief that something so amazing could be happening. The smile that flashed on my face no matter how bad I felt only minutes before. The song that eminates from my throat. Me on 60s radio, lol. I couldn't hear the radio well in the market today, and when the next song came on I thought it sounded like the beginning of Edwin Starr's "War" so I didn't get up to investigate. But then I wasn't sure, so I got up to see, and what I heard was like being thrown into a bath of warm water. Safety. A song I hadn't thought about in ages, but used to love. I gasped and literally spasm-ed in delight. Since there were too many people too close to sing, I just closed my eyes, tapped my fingers and swayed my body to the rythm of the song, and for three minutes, I felt the energy of the song course through me, not the energy of my anxiety. For three minutes, I lost track of everything around me. I was distantly aware of people talking and ordering food on either side of me, but they were in another world. I made sure I wasn't in anyone's way, and then I closed my eyes and let go.
"Sweeeet cheeeeeeerrrry wiiine, Sooooo veeeeeerrry fine..."
With all the hyper-focusing my brain so often does on unpleasant stimuli, with the nearly constant overwhelm I get with negative stuff, I am so thankful I have the ability to hyperfocus on POSITIVE stuff occasionally. And this is why I am so passionate about 60s music radio.
Having never drank before or partaken in the drug culture, I often wonder if my 60s music high is similar to that, but I think it's a lot safer. smile emoticon
I should add that this doesn't happen with every song, just the ones that really surprise me and are awesome. So maybe one song per hour if it's a good station. Which is more than enough. Today, it was this song.
Sweet Cherry Wine, Tommy James and the Shondells, 1969
"Come on, everyone we gotta get together now
Oh, yeah, love's the only thing that matters anyhow
And the beauty of life can only survive
If we love one another
Oh, yeah, yesterday my friends were marchin' out to war
Oh, yeah, listen now, we ain't a marchin' anymore
No we ain't gonna fight, only God has the right
To decide who's to live and die
He gave us sweet cherry wine, so very fine
Drink it right down, pass it all around
So stimulatin', so intoxicatin'
Sweet cherry wine to open your mind
And everybody's gonna feel so fine
Drinking sweet cherry wine, yes they will
Watch the mountain turn to dust and glow away
Oh, Lord, you know there's got to be a better way
And the old masquerade is a no soul parade
Marchin' through the ruins of time
To save us He gave us sweet cherry wine
Sweet cherry wine, so very fine
Drink it right down, pass it all around
So stimulatin', so intoxicatin'
Sweet cherry wine, everybody's gonna feel so fine
Drinkin' sweet cherry wine, yes they will
Oh, sweet cherry wine, so very fine
Drink it right down, pass it all around
So stimulatin', so intoxicatin'
Sweet cherry wine, come on
Drink it with your brother
Trust in one another, yeah, yeah
He gave us sweet cherry wine
Drink it right down, pass it all around
People, don't you know the cup is runnin' over?
Yeah, yeah, yeah, oh, oh
Come on, come on, yeah
Ooh, ooh, ooh"

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Asking the Right Question

Asking the Right Question

On my way to my daily walk on the western prom, I ran into a new friend walking back to her apartment. I smiled at her, and chatted briefly before continuing on my way. During my walk, I ran into a woman who usually sits on a bench at the western prom with her dog. I have had many short but enjoyable conversations with her over the last several months. Usually, I talk about the weather for a few minutes and then go on. I don't like to linger talking to someone unless I am sure that is what they want, and I couldn't tell with her. Recently, though, I have been getting vibes that she is okay with me staying longer and sitting with her, so that is what I have been doing. Today, I sat and talked to her for half an hour. Far longer than any other time. We talked about such soul-searching topics as how to fill the void inside you. She says everyone has a void inside of them, but they choose to fill it in different ways. Some with drugs and alcohol. She said that asking "What can I do to fill this?" and acknowledging it exists is the first step. She thinks I will find a way to fill it some day because I am asking the right questions. I like her. She is blunt and intelligent. I find it hard to figure out the boundaries of any social interaction I'm in, so I was still nervous afterwards, but I think I am doing okay.

I went downtown, where I was supposed to meet the rabbi of my synagogue at 4pm to discuss disability awareness. I didn't get downtown until 3:40, which was later than usual. I saw a guy I often talk to sitting in the middle of the square when I got there. We exchanged some quips, and he asked me some questions about Netflix. He told me was 78, which amazes me. He doesn't look a day over 60 to me. He walks all around town, and is still very active. He often gets lunch at Maine Med, near where I walk, then goes downtown to the library or market, so we see each other a lot by chance. We have very little in common other than we both spent a lot of time in Baltimore, but we enjoy each other's company, for a few minutes at a time. I enjoy him and the energy he has around him. We talked for ten minutes and then I said I needed to go get ready for my meeting.

What is it I want out of the world? Out of human interactions? I want a smile on the other person's face. I want to make them laugh. I want to feel that they are enjoying our interaction. I want that positive, fun, genuine energy I get from the people I admire. I want that feeling that I am "plugged in" to something other than myself. Being in interaction with certain people, with really anyone who's being genuine, feels like being plugged into a safe port. With the right person, it doesn't even matter what you're talking about. Just that that energy....you feel eminating from them.... that it keeps flowing into you. Sometimes I am not sure how to make it keep flowing and I think I might get too hyper and talk too much, or try too hard to make them laugh. I put so much effort into it I am not sure I can really *feel* the feelings from them that I want to feel. But I simply don't know how to interact with others without thinking or trying to plan it out ,and that often kills the very feeling I am looking for. It's a work in progress.

What do I want out of the world? I want to matter to someone, and I want to be able to tolerate my body. Simple things, with not so simple solutions.

Finding a way to realize, to understand, to have the perspective necessary to see what effect my efforts are having on others - to feel the effect of my love for other people on them, and to feel their feelings in return - that is my goal, but it's not one I've made much progress on, in my opinion.
Interactions often feel one sided to me, and I honestly cannot tell if this is because the other person is not putting much into it , or because I am not able to pick up what they are giving out.

My day continued with my meeting with the rabbi. I appreciated his ideas and committment to the causes we were talking about. I did feel engaged in the conversation. The empty void feeling went away for the hour we were talking. I talked to D at the market afterwards. Just a little chatter to help center myself. I went to sit down and rest, and then saw a guy I had met a few weeks ago at the market come in. He is usually open for conversation, and I can't resist more, so .We talked about John Krakow books, and I made a bunch of jokes that got laughs, which made me feel good. I felt nervous, because my brain was speeding way up trying to think of something to say and figure out if he wanted me to talk to him or not, but I over-rode it because being in connection felt so good. His smile and laugh are centering. I think to myself "What am I doing? I have no idea what to say," but I over-ride it because I get the feeling that it is welcome, even if my brain has other ideas.
We have been to many of the same places, both like country music, and both have an interest in psychology and disabilities. It is the third time I have met him, just randomly.

This is where perspective comes in.  I don't work, and with very few exceptions never have. My heart cries out for the feeling of being part of a bigger mission. Ideally, a valuable part of something larger. I can talk to half a dozen people in one day and still not feel part of something. I wonder if I am mis-intepreting how good or bad my life really is. It is a very painful feeling to feel so adrift. I have analyzed myself for years, and this is not the first time i have come up with this conclusion. But one day, I hope that I will find the perspective that allows me to see myself in another way. To see myself as part of something bigger, even if it's in a far more informal way than many people have. To see myself as making a difference in the world around me. To find a way to understand the influence I have on others. I am so good at acting out the part in my head, that I feel that I should be. But I can't seem to understand cause and effect in a social sense. I do this, I say this, I feel this, and the other person does, feels, or says X in response. The messages are too subtle. I don't know. I don't know why I still feel so adrift when I am awash in social interaction. I do not know how to find a way to find social interaction that feels safe, comfortable, meaningful. Talking 60s music at the hot dog stand gives me these things, and I treasure those moments probably far more than I should. Nothing else does.

One day, I will find the answer. Or live my way into it. I just hope it is someday soon, before I lose all hope. According to my western prom bench buddy, at least I am asking the right question. So I have that going for me.