a year later and where am i at?

it seems i only post here once a year; wonder why i even have this anymore. the “about me” page needs major updating.

so i got that english horn. ended up that we paid it off altogether so i didn’t have to deal with layaway payments. that was maybe in march? it’s lovely, has a crack but it was well-repaired. old old rigoutat from like the 50s-60s. carlos coelho was like “what IS this thing?” when i brought it to him at oboe camp in july. he fixed up a sticky pad for me and all is peachy keen. i’m too lazy to link to him, but he’s quite notable and it was a treat to see him.

yes, i went to oboe camp. geekiest thing ever. it was pretty awesome. we made reeds for like three hours each day. played in small ensembles and one big one with everyone. still playing with ACWE, no other groups anymore. i’m busy. now studying with andrew parker at UT (kind of a big deal) but i’m a slacker on practicing. today would be a good day to do that.

burned out hard after the east austin studio tour in november 2014 and didn’t paint for nearly a year. did some new stuff for EAST 2015 but still haven’t been working much. my art blog remains untouched as well, though i should post as i’m now looking for a new studio mate; mine is moving out of our totally ghetto space. good for her, she needs a bigger place than just half of a room.

still a barista. still at RLM pushing a button on an old and dying superautomatic machine. can’t even remember how long i’ve been there. three years probably. let my barista guild membership lapse. coffee is no longer a career prospect. yes, i’m bitter about it. it seems none of the hip specialty shops in austin want a 45-year-old female barista, even a guild level 2 one. wtf. so yeah, done with that. i’ll stay at RLM until i think of something else. no idea what that “else” might be. getting closer to 50, still a barista.

but i can’t complain. i have a roof over my head and good health insurance. i am protected and loved. it’s all good.

english horn

i am posting everywhere i can think of. i need to either buy a used english horn or find one to rent from now until may. really really want one. a lot.

bipolar story

i keep meaning to tell my bipolar story. so here, finally.

at the very end of my sixth grade year my family moved to a new home that was outside our school district. i continued to go to the old school in april and may and then started at the new school that fall. Thirteen, what a wonderful age to change schools at. oh dear god. it was every bit as awful as you might think. i was the smart kid and kinda funny-looking and didn’t have any friends, etc. really quite ostracized for the first few years there.

that was about the same time that i noticed my bipolar symptoms. crippling depressions, manic rages that no one saw as i lived it all out in the confines of my bedroom and my own head. i turned to mild self-harm for a while as i couldn’t come up with an explanation for all the pain i was feeling, so much deeper than others seemed to feel. wanted a reason to feel such pain so i gave myself one.

fortunately i didn’t have access to drugs; alcohol never appealed to me much. and i was a Good Kid [tm]. any major acting out occurred in the dramas with the few friends i did have.

i knew this was something serious, and i suspected it was bipolar disorder. but when you’re a 15, 16 year old girl, nobody’s gonna believe you when you tell them you think you’re bipolar. just drama, just teen angst, learn to control your emotions. started seeing a counselor at school who, though very engaging and friendly, was utterly of no help.

i got through my high school years without incident, amazingly enough. i was deathly afraid of my parents’ potential reaction to whatever was wrong with me, so i hid it inside, locked away like a top secret file. didn’t dare do anything drastic. i was terrified they’d “institutionalize” me.

i got to college and the disease only got worse, mostly huge depressions but once in a while a manic rush here and there. it was a religious school and i was studying theology — mainly because i was manic and wanted to “glorify god with my intellect” — and my peers had me convinced that some sort of spiritual warfare was going on and that satan was trying to keep me away from the joy of christ. yeah, really. so, no help there. prayed so hard and so much to have it all taken away from me, to no response. i was high on jesus the first two years but during the first week of my junior year i realized everything i was doing was wrong, wrong, wrong. i had screwed up my future in a colossal way and i had no idea what to do.

fall of my senior year was the worst. i had realized that my theology degree was going to get me nowhere — i had never planned on going into ministry but had vague ideas about an M.Div from some seminary and then going into teaching, but nothing ever came of that. i couldn’t imagine surviving on my own. terrified of ending up living in a cardboard box somewhere in some seedy part of minneapolis. couldn’t possibly imagine any sort of work that would give me a decent living considering all the student loans i had.

i went down, down, down. i played oboe in the concert band, and oboists need sharp instruments such as razor blades and knives to trim their reeds and such. so during rehearsal one night i had a razor blade out, gently tracing over the lines in my left hand instead of playing. the other oboist was horrified and unsure what to do. i managed to contain myself for the rest of the rehearsal and then went into the band director’s office, hiding under his TA’s desk and sobbing. for an hour.

my friend kim, also in the band, watched over me. eventually she said “look, i love you very much, but sometimes i think you need to go to the hospital.” as i could see it, the only choices available to me were to either go to the hospital or go home and slit my wrists. do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars.

i chose the hospital.

i was there for seven days, not very well cared for. they recognized my depression, but that was all they saw — put me on prozac and after a week had passed they sent me home.

i took incompletes for the fall semester and made them up during the one-month “january term” between fall and spring semesters. my professors were all very sympathetic and understanding. the art department had sent me flowers while i was in hospital.

being in the hospital meant that my parents had to find out about my mental illness, which mortified me. my mom didn’t take it very well and didn’t really get that mental illness was actually a real thing and not just excessive drama. dad was just quiet and worried. they said later “we always knew something was wrong but we didn’t want to say anything and make you angry.” yes, i grew up in minnesota, can you tell?

my plans for taking the GRE and going to graduate school fell through. there was no way i was going to be able to prepare for the test that year, so i never did take it, never did go to grad school. i put my nose to the grindstone, finished spring semester by the skin of my teeth and then graduated.

i found the cheapest apartment i could get that wasn’t technically subsidized housing. i temped for a while, struggling to pay my student loans, struggling through the depression without any health insurance. couldn’t afford the prozac. i remember my dad trying to help me find some sort of social security help, but i couldn’t go into the building. i walked by it and couldn’t open the door. not that it was locked. i just. couldn’t. open it. he paid for my prozac for several months.
i was so suicidal. so so very very suicidal. but despite it all i have never once attempted it. too afraid. afraid of failing, afraid of god’s wrath. i sat in my quiet office cubicle and thrashed around in my mind for something to hold on to. nothing worked.

i got a credit card and developed a taste for fancy scotch. the depression turned around into mania and i got super promiscuous and super drunk rather often. one night i was at my friend amanda’s place visiting and as i left she told me she thought i had a drinking problem. this totally horrified me and my thoughts whirled around in my head a thousand miles an hour. drinking problem?? that’s some serious shit, man. what do i do, where do i go, i can’t be alone right now. i called my friend bill from a pay phone (remember those?) and said i need somewhere to go, i can’t control myself, will you take me in… he very kindly obliged and so i went downtown to his apartment.

i was in what we call a “mixed state,” manic and depressive at the same time, changing by the minute, laughing and crying and laughing and crying… bill had severe OCD and depression himself, and so he got on the phone to his doctor and was asking him advice on how to keep me safe through the night. i was on his futon going completely out of my mind while he patiently watched from the other side of the room, checking in with his doctor every hour or two.

in the morning he took me to the community health clinic that he went to himself. doctor listened to my story and he goes, “sounds like bipolar disorder to me.”

oh. my. god. VALIDATION. the reason i had been searching for, the reason for all my pain, suddenly appeared before me like an angel. oh my god, you take me seriously, i can’t believe it, this is amazing, THANK YOU. i was 23, having gone it alone since i was 14.

the community health place set me up with a doctor — thankfully i’d found a steady job with insurance earlier that year — and sent me away without charging me any money. i went to the doctor as soon as i could and was prescribed depakote, a mood stabilizer, to take along with my prozac.

it wasn’t the perfect drug, but it sorta made a difference. years went by and we tried lots of different drugs to see which one was best — i didn’t really truly stabilize until i moved to massachusetts in 1997 and found a doctor who got just the right mix of antidepressants and mood stabilizers to keep me level and sane.

i’ve had episodes here and there since then, one major one in 2006 when the first doctor i had in texas messed with my effexor dosage so bad it sent me into huge mania (and nearly destroyed my marriage) and then the deepest depression i have ever ever known. had to switch doctors and advocate for myself even though i was at the lowest point i had ever been. but the doctor i changed to has been the best one i’ve ever had, and i can say today that i have never felt better. i take six different drugs; four antidepressants, a mood stabilizer and an antipsychotic. it’s a lot but it works and i’m not about to mess with it.

my life is really pretty normal. been happily married for 16 years. i’m an artist with a part-time barista job. at 43 i’ve become the person i was meant to be and i’m stable and happy. there are ups and downs but they are quickly dealt with and i spend most of my time in a very good place. i am a lucky, lucky person, and thankful for every day that i have.

dang

so this blog has been sitting here unused for like a year and a half. what kind of internet addict am i, anyway? oh yeah, a chronic facebooker, that’s what. it’s mostly here for the genealogy thing which reminds me i should upload those pictures of the blacksmith shop. gotta find what jürgen wrote about them for me.

got deeply engrossed in the charlie hebdo thing last night and ended up at a pretty dark place what with all the killing and hatred and stuff when we’re on this tiny insignificant rock floating out in the infinite cosmos all alone as far as we know — and all we have is each other, that’s what it comes down to, so why can’t we love? that’s all we fucking have that means anything at all. why is there so much hate?

i gotta read how the existentialists dealt with it all. need a “sartre for dummies” or something.

it’s been cloudy and rainy for weeks and no sign of it letting up. that’s certainly part of my mood. see the dr. in just over a week. we’ll see what he has to say. maybe i should start using mathew’s special happy light thing.

so winter break is now over and the cafe opens back up on monday. classes start the week after. back to RLM, joy of joys. i interviewed for another job over break but it was on the 22nd so there was holiday and all that and on top of that they’re just being really slow. said they were waiting on one more interview this week, which doesn’t sound good. i mean if they wanted me they wouldn’t have scheduled another one, right? so yeah, right back where i was at the coffee bean. someplace that’s okay but not good enough. RLM kinda sucks but it’s okay at least. the people are chill. the customers are mostly fine. it’s just that i’m pushing a goddamn button on a superautomatic machine instead of using all that expensive barista guild training.

also, do i really want to be a barista when i’m 50? i’m 43 now, it’s going to become relevant at some point.

i have no idea what else to do, is the thing.

 

today’s find

the “city-wide garage sale” was today — basically an antique flea market. i found this 1958 national geographic atlas for $35 — europe is completely different; see the photo of the entirety of the former yugoslavia, for example. interesting to compare it to my modern nat.geo atlas. i’m a huge map geek, always have been.

i’ve been soliciting penpals on the postcrossing website. couple of germans answered so far. they sound cool so i figure i’ll write and see what happens. i’m kind of a bad pen pal but i always try and change… we’ll see…

practice session for the barista competition tonight. competition is the 23rd, not too far away now. i’ve gotta work on my speech/presentation now; i’ve got my signature drink down and all that. gonna bring my whole setup tonight and see how it goes.

doh

so i went all the way up to round rock with the oboe to sam bass music to have it adjusted — and then of course it played fine in front of the guy. but he did notice there was a springy thing popped out of its position so he moved that. when i mentioned i’d come from south austin he told me that alan franklin at strait music on 290 (soooooo much closer to me) does very fine work and can be trusted with your instrument — but you can’t just go into strait and leave it, you have to ask for him in particular. much as i appreciated the guy at sam bass, at least there’s no need to go north into williamson county after all, as long as i can go to alan at strait. williamson county scares me — there, i’ve said it.

random oboe

so it’s been a while since i posted, doh. i am still fighting the reeds and i think i’m just too reckless with the knife — gouging the cane way deeper than i need to and then shredding the tip before i even get a crow out of it. takes more finesse than i apparently have. meanwhile, it’s back to the music store for another reed. the one i’ve been playing was great but suddenly really sucks. at least it got me through the concert season…

of the four ensembles i listed a couple posts back, i played one concert with the waterloo group and then bid them adieu — wasn’t that fond of the conductor. the austin civic wind ensemble is a joy to play with — very talented people there. i’m trying to get a wind quintet started. (flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, and horn.) the st. edward’s university orchestra is pretty fun as well. we played some nice repertoire for summer I (massenet’s “phèdre” was my favorite, especially the little oboe duet), and summer II will start pretty soon. after july 4th, ACWE is on summer break too until probably late august.

the howarth needs some adjustment; suddenly B and C are very flat. new oboes need a lot of adjustment at first, so this doesn’t concern me too much — what concerns me more is finding someone decent to do the adjustment. i guess my teacher usually takes hers to the guy at strait music if it’s fairly routine; major work i think she takes to san antonio.

speaking of teacher, i haven’t seen her in months; we had a few reedmaking lessons and then i stopped going for a while. gotta start seeing her again for actual music lessons again — i’ve improved quite a lot in the interim and could use some more musical guidance.

reeds and such

so i have a lesson in a little while. we’re going to work on reeds. i tied 4 blanks yesterday and i totally need help scraping them so i don’t utterly destroy them, like i have on the last couple attempts. got a blister on my right index finger tying them with all that extreme tension you have to use. on the side of the finger, right where you use it all the time for everything. it broke today at work, duh, shoulda known that would happen. gross.

i think i’ll bring the new howarth to the lesson today; if we’re doing reeds i probably won’t be playing it much if at all, depending.

i can’t find my schumann “three romances” music. i think it ended up in one of my rehearsal folders. suppose i better go look for that before i leave for the lesson…

random

so i don’t wanna pollute facebook with a million random things all night, so i’ll just do it here.

it’s been a crazy busy week and today is the first day i’ve not had to go anywhere or do anything. sunday was st. ed’s, monday was waterloo (super-hard stuff to play, wow), and tuesday was the austin civic wind ensemble, which was my first rehearsal with them. they’re playing a cute concert of mexican songs which is fun. wednesday i had a walk-through meeting for the RAWartists show on the 21st, where i’ll be showing my encaustics among lots of other artists, musicians, hair & makeup people, photographers, filmmakers, performance artists, fashionistas, and others. it’s a “cocktail attire” affair at the belmont (305 west 6th), 8pm – 2am (which is gonna be difficult, ouch) and i’m not sure how it’s gonna work with all the attendant accessories i would like to have with me if i make a sale. assuming i make a sale. gotta keep a positive attitude. i also have to sell tickets for this thing; artists have to sell 20 tickets at $15 each (=$300) or make up the difference ourselves. so it’d be nice if i could sell all 20, yikes. do i even know 20 people who’d come?

thursday made me cranky — the show we (the austin encaustic artists group) had at the dougherty had kind of a sad opening last month — mostly the artists and their loved ones. so they decided to have a closing reception too — although i don’t know who decided or when, as it was just randomly announced on the facebook group within the week. taking the show down was gonna be on friday during the day, but suddenly it got moved to thursday night after the reception ended at 8:30. that’s fun. so yeah, thursday night suddenly went from a free night to a taken one. but friday i had an oboe lesson which is always fun, and the evening was free, so we went to a friend’s whisky tasting party — woo!! i brought a rare port-aged edradour (not just *finished* in port casks but aged in them from the very beginning) and got to taste some other yummy things. the japanese yamazaki scotch in particular was really really nice. seems weird but they’ve got the right climate and everything for making scotch, so… yeah, yummy.

today was totally free. we went to costco briefly and then i practiced oboe for a while, patiently trying to break the howarth in for 20 minutes (swabbing it out after 10) and then switching to the old one… argh… tried to make a reed but totally sucked at it — i can tie them fine now but when it comes to carving/shaving them i’m a disaster. gotta hang on until friday’s oboe lesson where i can get a hands-on demo. and there’s new cane coming in plus some bitchin’ neon blue thread, woo. hopefully i’ll get a handle on it with the (20-year-old) cane i have left before i destroy any of the new stuff… (20 years, there’s yer problem, hah)

there’s a mosquito in here and it’s making me nuts. where the hell are they coming from? i kill one and another appears in its place. argh.

so tomorrow there’s a reception way up in georgetown for the encaustic show at the library there from 2-4, and then st. ed’s from 5-7. who knows if i’ll be able to make it from one to the other on time — i’ve already emailed the conductor to tell him i might be late. no idea what the traffic might be like, and it takes like 45 minutes even when there’s no traffic. actually i’m thinking the super bowl might eat all the traffic, because by 4:00 everybody’s pretty much glued to the tv anyway. maybe.

and then the week starts all over again with work on monday at 5am. woohoo!!