“Shut your mouths, nerds.”

I have not been active in my “craft” for a couple years now. It feels like the environment in which I was immersed – so, like: sight reading/playing, sight reading/singing, score study, conducting, music theory, lesson planning, etc. – was DECADES ago. Or, like, it didn’t even happen. That is how distant it truly seems.

Anyhoo, despite how foreign music has become in my daily life, I still am haunted by dreams where I’m supposed to suddenly play clarinet in a large concert setting. And it’s usually taking place back when I was in college…but not before the devastating series of brain surgeries that robbed me of my: coordination, sensation,and fine motor skills. The dreams usually take place post-2011, when my hands turned to shite. I’m sitting holding my clarinet, sweating and on the very brink of tears, and I can’t read the music quickly enough (or most often not even at all), and my fingers are fumbling all over the keys and tone holes.

The other night, however, was different. I dreamed that instead of playing music, I was actually teaching. Marching band…blecchh. And my post-2011 impairments were present and evident. I was struggling to walk (even short distances) without appearing to have just shotgunned a case of beer and my hands and fingers were as graceful as a two-year-old doing the touch-your-finger-to-your-nose portion of a sobriety test. So anyways, I remember a fragment of the dream where I was in front of a large marching band inside of a dark, cramped, gymnasium trying to get the band’s attention centered and focused. I believe I was clapping my hands and shouting. Then my memory jumps to another fragment where I’m sitting in my old bedroom (from my old house in Akron), and I’m upset because I’ve been fired. I had been “let go” after telling the band to “Shut your mouths, Motherfuckers.” However, as I was sitting in my bedroom my dream-self seemed ABSOLUTELY convinced what I actually said was “Shut your mouths, nerds.” My dream-self then began thinking that I could take this to Judge Judy because I was so sure I never said “mf’ers.” Suddenly, an old friend from college popped into my bedroom and told me that she, in fact, was secretly at the rehearsal in question and had a recording of the entire incident. She also said she would use it in court against me.

As with the other music-related dreams, I woke up upset and annoyed. It wasn’t even the fact that I was verbally combative and abusive to kids that upset me.Sure, Dream-me could have been better at keeping calm and using better language, but the entire “music” theme of the dream caused me to wake up full of anger.

What really drives me bananas is when my mind keeps throwing my dream-self into such anxiety-filled, heartbreaking, hell holes of music-ish scenarios. I wanted so badly to surround my life and career in music, but my life did not turn out that way. My dreams involving music and music education are almost like mini episodes of Black Mirror. There’s an initial innocent tone of familiarity where I’m somehow slightly aware that I’m in a dream and am so thrilled to have a clarinet (or conducting baton) in my hands because since it’s a dream I won’t have any physical impairments. I have this momentary thrill and high from believing that I can actually be IN CONTROL of this dream realm. And then…the dream forces dream-me to continue to experience and feel everything Real-me deals with daily. And I’m talkin’ about the: crappy balance, clumsy arms/hands/fingers, constant pins and needles sensation, etc. So, essentially they’re more like nightmares.

It’s been a while since I’ve written. I’ve been pretty down about things and these dreams (nightmares?) don’t exactly help my situation. My mind, body, and soul feel incredibly restless and I want so badly to find some part of me to contribute to society. I am surrounded by successful people who do things and go places. My boyfriend works full-time but also makes cryptozoology documentaries, my mom works full-time and has been attending these high-level “Women in Leadership” courses, my friends all have full-time jobs and careers they’re passionate about. Maybe I will find something…maybe I won’t. I just really, REALLY don’t want to keep having these Black Mirror-ish type dreams.


Sometimes you just need to ugly-cry


iphone pics and vids 025I do not remember my exact age, but I vividly remember sitting “crisscross-applesauce” on the hardwood floors in Mrs. Eaton’s General Music class (which was actually the auditorium, but due to the growing student population and lack of classroom space, her music class was relocated to the auditorium stage floor) when I first heard a piece of music that spoke to me in ways my young, grade-school-mind couldn’t quite put into words. It was Beethoven’s Symphony Number 7 and although my classmates were visibly bored and squirming and fidgeting restlessly, the music kept my interest and attention completely. That Christmas I specifically asked Santa for a Beethoven CD with that “song,” and Santa did not disappoint.

In 2011 I woke up after a brain surgery (the second one that year) and through my foggy, anesthesia-laden, haze I realized my entire body felt funny. Not “funny: haha,” but “funny: something is terribly wrong please someone tell me why it feels like my skin somehow hurts, feels like it’s on fire, and feels numb – all at the same time.” That surgery was all thanks to that pesky little part of my genetic mutation: VHL. The resulting damage from the surgery left me with extensive nerve damage throughout my body. Previous to this drastic change, I was deeply involved in music (singing, studying, playing in top-notch ensembles, and teaching) and was convinced that my undying love and commitment to it would lead me to great things later in life. Santa didn’t just bring me a CD that Christmas years before – he helped me realize something: I had found my “thing.”

I had a lot of growing to do, but I was pretty good. I worked hard in my music ed studies, I had begun practicing longer chunks of time in order to include an extended and more in-depth warm-up, I had begun putting together plans to study abroad, and I was coming off that “high” after performing a half-recital earlier that year. And to literally wake up and have all that change…to put it as politely as possible: it sucks ass.

After missing two semesters of school (to re-learn how to walk and use utensils and get used to this new, numb/highly sensitive, all-over, sensation, etc. ) returning to my music-centered studies felt like (this is as best as I can describe how it felt) like I was suddenly forced to be in constant contact (and best friends) with an ex boyfriend who had just broken my heart.

Music was my defining “thing,” and then suddenly it became so incredibly foreign and out of reach. I’m 28 and it’s been six years since that confusing, infuriating, heart-breaking, event. Yeah, I (somehow) finished school… With Honors! And I even student-taught abroad! But more medical BS has happened since then and I’ve stepped away from teaching music completely.

Music was once my reason for everything: confidence in myself, expressing emotion, connecting with people, etc. But its place in my life has changed drastically and I still don’t know how it fits in with “me.” Does that make sense? I guess I’ve learned how to “be me” despite the lack of my former major identifier (music), but I still don’t feel completely whole/genuine. How do you reconnect and rebuild a healthy relationship with something that still has a tendency to make you dwell on what “used to be,” and, subsequently, makes you break down and ugly-cry? Seriously… how? The logical/analytical-me has a lot of great suggestions, but the emotional/creative-me gets so hung-up on the heartbreak of it all. My current solution is to just crack open an Orange Crush, watch the new Maria Bamford special on Netflix, and later brainstorm less depressing topics to write about. I’m leaning towards an entry about the interesting shapes of my cats’ turds…

I ain’t no “Toots McGee”

I happened upon an article titled something like “Why you should never fart during an MRI” and, of course, I read it. Basically it was very clickbait-y because the punchline was (in my mind) a no-brainer. The tube thing that you lay in during an MRI scan is pretty cramped and cozy – with no sound-absorbing acoustic equipment. So, I would imagine that ripping a fluffy would be a fairly obvious and resonant sound to any and all audiences present. I have never embarrassed myself by doing this, as I am a lady.

I have had enough experiences with MRI (and CT, PET, X-Ray, nuclear, etc.) scans that while it seems that somewhere along the way I probably should have at least one embarrassing “fart story” – I have simply been lucky in that I have no such stories. #blessed. An MRI technician once mistook me for Miley Cyrus (because I had short, blonde hair, and was wearing red lipstick). I’m still unsure as to whether it was an insult or a compliment…

When I was in grade school, my two brothers and I had blood work drawn to find out if we carried the von Hipple-Lindau genetic mutation (disease). Years prior to this (before I was born) my dad was diagnosed with this illness (VHL) and was told that it was NOT something that could be passed down genetically. Well, technology advances and scientific theories change… and it turns out that VHL is a genetic disease. Jump ahead to the blood work done with my brothers and I. Guess who got the news that they were basically a genetic mutant? That’s right – ME. #blessed #xmenhereicome #whereyouatprofessorx

VHL essentially killed my dad. Him smoking cigarettes for 30-some years definitely didn’t help, but it was complications following his last brain surgery that did him in. VHL is also slowly, but surely, trying to kill me too. At 28 years old I’ve had over a dozen brain, spine, kidney, pancreas, and lung surgeries.

While I don’t have a funny and embarrassing MRI “fart story” I do think I’ve had some pretty crazy, interesting, embarrassing, strange, and funny stories thus far in my life. I’m not a writer, so “blogging” is new to me. I’m not even sure what all I plan to write about – cats, Westworld fan theories, Ed Wood, music? I enjoy reading about people’s lives (both similar and completely foreign to mine) and I just hope to be able to (somehow) give to others as much as they have given to me.