Music Soothes the Savage Beast

I’ve loved music for as long as I can remember.  I’ve loved to listen to it, to sing it, and back when I was a six-year old, loved to dance around the kitchen to it.  While I still enjoy Top 40 music from time to time, even when I was younger I was usually more interested in the lyrics and the message than in the beat or the bass.  Before I was able to express my emotions in writing, music provided catharsis.  I recognized this even when I was still in high school, as I literally wrote a list of songs that reminded me of different unrequited crushes I’d had.  Even now, certain songs will transport me back instantly, not just to general time periods in my life, but to exact moments in time.  Rod Stewart’s “Forever Young” puts me back on the school bus on my first day of middle school, in my fluorescent-splattered blouse and black pleather skirt. Poison’s “Every Rose has its Thorn” transports me to a classmate’s 12th birthday party, when I slow-danced with a boy for the very first time (granted, his girlfriend asked him to dance with me).  

It shouldn’t be surprising that my taste in music became extremely diverse, as no single genre could ever fully capture the depths of my emotions.  I may or may not be bipolar, but my iPod very definitely suffers from multiple personality disorder.  How else could you explain a playlist that includes all of the following artists:  Killswitch Engage, LL Cool J, Billy Joel, Miranda Lambert…

As I mentioned in my very first post (I Suppose I have to Start Somewhere), Tales from Sick and Twisted isn’t just an attempt at a catchy name for my blog.  It’s also the name of the novel that I conceptualized and started (very slowly) writing.  It almost goes without saying that as Tales from Sick and Twisted started to develop in my mind, an accompanying soundtrack also emerged.  I don’t want to share the full list today, because I don’t want to give away too much of the plot yet, but I wanted to highlight a few of the songs and why they’re important to me.

  • Christina Aguilera “Walk Away”

    I have no shame in admitting that, even a decade later, I am still a huge fan of Stripped, primarily because a number of the songs have an amazing vulnerability.  Although this song wasn’t officially released, I stumbled across it at a point when the lyrics rang true in my life.

  • Melissa Etheridge “An Unusual Kiss” 

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZmAVZuzuET8                                                                                                     This is one of those songs where the lyrics don’t fit per se, but it happened to pop into my head when I was out with someone who eventually inspired one of the characters in my book

  • Jo Dee Messina and Tim McGraw “Bring on the Rain”

    I found this song during my last depressive episode, almost 4 years ago.  I took comfort in the lyrics and the idea that I was strong enough to face any challenge head-on.

  • Theory of a Deadman “Not Meant to Be”  

    This is one of a few different songs on my soundtrack/playlist that talk about the pain of realizing that you can’t force something that just isn’t right, which is something that has come up for me time and again.

  • Bonnie Raitt “Something to Talk About”

     I hated this song when it first came out.  I mean, I really hated this song.  Then my life circumstances started to reflect the lyrics of the song, and I “discovered” it for the first time, only about 20 years after the rest of the world… But this happens with me pretty regularly, where a song will suddenly fit my life and it’s like I’m hearing it for the first time, because it’s finally truly resonating within me.  

So, there you have it, a small sample of the songs that make up my personal Sick and Twisted soundtrack.  Thank you for allowing me to share.  And now it’s off to choir practice…

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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.