Make a Joyful Noise Unto the Lord, part 1

As I mentioned in my first post, I belong to two choirs.  As you probably deduced from the title of this post, yes, these are two church choirs–Catholic, to be exact.  Yes, I am a feminist and a Catholic, but that’s a discussion for another post.  The church I attend has two different adult choirs, and I belong to both.

With the rise (over-saturation?) of reality television in recent years, I’ve often contemplated shopping the idea of our choir as the basis for a reality show.  In fact, if anyone knows someone who can make this happen, I can promise you won’t be disappointed in the entertainment factor.

There’s no subtle way of describing this, so I’m just going to put it out there:  between both groups, there is an abundance of crazy people.  In fact, after our Christmas concert last year, I had the following conversation with my parents:

Parents:  That lady (omitting descriptive details), is she the crazy one?

Me: Which one?

Parents:  That lady with…

Me:  No, I mean which crazy person are you talking about?

Parents:  The crazy one that chases after the choir director

Me:  Again, which one??

Parents:  There are more than one?

Me:  Yep, there are quite a few…

Yes, apparently my choir director gives off some sort of pheromone that attracts women to him, especially women who are married and/or old enough to be his mother (cue the mental replay of “Mrs. Robinson”).  And for them, the concept of sexual harassment does not exist.  They are collectively of the mindset that “no” just means to try harder.

In case you think this is too weird to be true, here are just a few examples:

  • The middle-aged woman who attempted to grope the choir director when he was in a state in which he could not legally consent (and trust me, he didn’t even consent then)
  • The married middle-aged woman who sent hundreds of sexually explicit texts and emails to the director, despite his repeated requests that she stop
  • The slightly older than middle-aged woman who was spreading rumors that she and the director were having a hot and heavy affair

I’ve often joked around with my friends and said, “It’s those church choir people that you have to watch out for,” but let’s be honest–this group is so much more dysfunctional than what anyone would expect. But here’s the really strange thing: the music, the sound of these groups is amazing, especially the larger group. I’ve visited parishes three times larger and their music doesn’t come anywhere close. They say there’s often a fine line between genius and insanity, and nowhere do I see more proof of this than the church choirs.

Happy Birthday to Me!

In the early morning hours of November 29, 1977, I made my dramatic entrance into the world.  As my mother would gladly explain, this is not an exaggeration–I crowned before my mom was even in the delivery room, which I’m told made for quite the entertaining birth.   

In keeping with my current depressive episode I briefly considered titling this post “It’s my Birthday and I would Cry if I Could,” but the truth is that my brief escape to West Virginia was a much-need pick-me-up.  It didn’t make my problems go away, but it gave me some time to forget about them.  It’s impossible to be in a bad mood around my niece and nephew.  Not to mention that the more time I spend with her, the more I can see my sister-in-law being a very fun partner in crime.

The truth is that today feels like any other regular day, and I like that.  I remember the weeks leading up to my 30th birthday and how depressed I was.  I even spent an entire weekend in bed moping about it.  But then my 30th birthday came and went and I was fine.  In fact, as I’ve moved through the years since then, I can honestly say that my 30s have been way better than my 20s.  In that respect I guess I’m allowed to be a little sad that I’m officially closer to 40 than I am to 30.  I feel like my 30s have been the time when I’ve finally started to discover myself and I feel like I still have so much more to learn.

Giving Thanks

I contemplated labeling this my obligatory Thanksgiving post, as I’m sure mine is one of many posts in the blogosphere commenting on the theme of today’s holiday.  But in reality, I don’t consider it an obligation because I appreciate the opportunity to reflect on the numerous blessings in my life.  Despite the ups and downs in my own head, I know that I truly have a lot for which to be thankful.  In fact, I often remind myself of this when I fall to those low places.

My siblings have all relocated out of state, so my parents do their best to visit everyone as much as possible.  This year they decided to spend Thanksgiving with my two sisters in Florida.  They even asked how I felt about spending Thanksgiving in Florida with them.  I declined for several reasons, mainly because of the time factor (I live in New York).  After declining on Florida, my brother invited me to visit his family in West Virginia.  I declined because one of my choirs sings Thanksgiving morning and I felt a sense of obligation (I know, don’t judge).  I figured Thanksgiving is really just another day and I would be perfectly fine curled up on my couch after church with some Stove Top stuffing.

Then this week came along.  After a very productive, but draining, follow-up with the psychiatrist on Tuesday, I saw a text from my father telling me that my mother was in the emergency room with chest pain.  Yesterday morning I got the text that she was going in for a cardiac catheterization.  Florida was still out of the question, but I began to re-think West Virginia.  Part of me still wanted to just curl up on my couch, but another part of me wanted to be spontaneous (maybe the Celexa is starting to kick in?).  To make a long story short, I left work, went home long enough to leave food and water for the animals and pack a duffel bag and hit the road for West Virginia.  There were a few times during the drive when I questioned the sanity of my decision, especially through the Poconos in Pennsylvania when I held the steering wheel in a death grip against the snow and strong gusts of wind.  But the drive was much easier than I had anticipated.  The snow/slush wasn’t fun, but I’ve managed in far worse.  Aside from a few small stretches, the traffic was light, even non-existent in some parts.  It was as though the universe aligned itself to make this trip as easy as possible.

And then there was the song.  Music is a huge part of my life (a topic for another post), and often a source of catharsis.  I know I’m a little late to the party, but earlier this year I found myself drawn to the song “Hallelujah.”  It wasn’t that I’d never heard the song before, just that for some reason the song started to resonate in me.  Last weekend I finally found a copy of Allen Light’s book The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the Unlikely Ascent of “Hallelujah.”  I know, I know, I could have ordered it online and had it in my hot little hands months ago, but I was holding out on the hope of finding in a store.  I finished the book in less than three days.  So I just finished this book a few days ago, and as I was driving through the worst of the snow and wind, I was flipping through some of the stations on the satellite radio that I normally skip right over when I stumbled upon Leonard Cohen singing “Hallelujah.”  And just like a movie cliché, suddenly the drive was easier and the worst was over.  Oddly enough, as I sat down and started writing this post, I heard the song again, on the Pandora station that my brother left playing in his living room.

So today I am thankful for the love and support of my family and friends.  I know I’m not always an easy person to love.  I’m moody, I get angry, I get depressed.  I bottle up my feelings and am often difficult to read.  My posts on Facebook are vague and confusing (a fact which drives my mother crazy).  But despite all of this, they haven’t given up on me, even when I’ve been ready to give up on myself.  And for this, I am truly blessed.

It’s Official: I’m Crazy?

When I was 13 years old, I announced to my mother that I was depressed and asked if I could see a therapist.  I don’t recall her exact response, but considering that it took another year (plus a bottle of Lortab) before I saw a therapist, I’m pretty sure that her response was along the lines of, “You’re not depressed and you don’t need therapy,” while she wondered to herself where I came up with this stuff.

I don’t share this memory as a critique of my mother or her parenting skills (on the contrary, I believe that my mother is one of the strongest women I know, and I don’t think anyone could have done a better job raising me).  Instead, I share it because I was reminded of this incident earlier today.  

I had a follow-up appointment with my new psychiatrist today.  Two weeks ago she floated the possibility of a Bipolar Type II diagnosis after commenting that my presentation and demeanor completely contradicted the depression from which I claimed to be suffering.  She asked me to have a discussion with my mother (who suggested I was bipolar several years ago), and to report back.  Easy enough homework assignment.  And since I’ve always been a bit of an overachiever (as long as it didn’t involve too much effort on my part), I also reached out to a couple of friends.

And that’s where the story got messy.  Everyone I spoke to could recall the tears and the outbursts over the years.  But no one could recall anything within the last 3 years or so.  Most of my friends told me I had to be wrong when I said I’d been feeling depressed for more than six months.  They said they couldn’t tell, that they never would have guessed.  And I had to admit that I couldn’t blame them.  After all, I can barely remember the last time I really let loose and cried.  Maybe a couple of tears here and there, but I don’t remember the last time I really cried more than that, aside from my grandmother’s funeral.  And even then, I was unable to cry as much as I wanted to.  I remember telling myself and others that I must still be in denial and after it was all over it would hit me and I would finally break down.  It’s been over 13 months now, and I never had that breakdown.  

And this is what made me think of my 13 year old self.  Back then I had mood swings; I was called “overly sensitive.”  I suspect that these qualities hid a lot of what was going on beneath the surface.  Today I once again find myself with a lot of churned up emotions hiding beneath the surface.  As a child my feelings were curtained behind a melodrama of sorts.  Now the curtain is more of a mask, and at times even I become blind to what lies underneath.


I Suppose I Have to Start Somewhere

I’ve often contemplated starting a blog, but was never sure what I could possibly write about on a regular basis.  I’m still not entirely sure what this blog will ultimately become, but I figured I might as well give it a try.  I’m learning as I go, so I apologize in advance for the lack of really snazzy formatting or interesting pictures.

I guess I’ll start by answering a few questions you might have right now.  First, who am I?  I’m a woman in my mid-30s, who leads a mostly average existence.  I love to sing–I belong to two choirs and also enjoy karaoke (when I have time).  I have a black belt in Tang Soo Do.  I love to read and do some writing of my own.  I struggle with my weight and the body issues that come with it.  I probably know way more about hair care than I should.  I’ve been slowly morphing into a bit of a skincare/makeup addict.  I’m single and occasionally venture out into the dating world.  I was that nerd in school.  Last year I was diagnosed with ADD.  Two weeks ago I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, type 2.  I mention all of these things because I have a feeling I will write more extensively on all of them.

Your second question is probably about the title of my blog.  During my last semester of college (1999), my friend and I drew a map of a place we called Sick and Twisted.  The different regions were named for different dramas we had experienced, particularly when it came to dating.  I used to keep a copy of the map in my office with pushpins labeled with peoples’ names.  Based on whatever was going on, my friends and I were moved around on the map.

A few years after I graduated, I found myself on a bit of an emotional roller coaster.  Sick and Twisted was resurrected and became symbolic of my ups and downs during that time.  I also decided that a novel was in order, although it would be almost 10 years before I was ready to sit down and start writing.

So that’s the short version of my story.  I’m going to end here today, since I have to leave for choir practice soon (choir requires its own series of posts).

The original pencil sketch of Sick and Twisted:Sick and Twisted