The Soundtrack of My Life – 43- Traveller/When I’m With You

Today is my husband’s birthday. As one does with a anniversary of life you tend to reflect back on everything. It’s almost like climbing yet another peak and looking back to see where you’ve come from. For me, I’m more excited that I get to spend one more with him.

For the occasion I have added songs by Chris Stapleton. He’s been Charlie’s favorite singer/songwriters the last few years. For Christmas last year (or maybe for his birthday) I bought him tickets to see him in Denver, Colorado. The idea was to turn the whole thing into a fun road trip that would ultimately end with the concert. That, however, was ruined by my mother losing her ability to swallow and Chris Stapleton getting Covid prior to the show date. The journey ended up being a bust even though it was fun until it wasn’t.

My plan for this holiday I intend on buying him tickets, again, to see Chris Stapleton, but the bitch of the situation is all the ADA seats are sold out. Really? There are THAT MANY handicap people in the world? Odd… I don’t see very many people in wheelchairs. (That is an ignorant statement, by the way.) Stranger enough is that they all decided to convene at this one concert in Arizona. Sorry, I’m turning this into a rant and I don’t mean it to. The way people abuse the ADA options is mindbogglingly infuriating.

I chose Chris for the above reason (obvs) but also because these songs always make me think of my husband. At one time, before we knew his ALS diagnosis, we would frequent a bar downtown. I would inevitably commandeer the jukebox, playing all the mellow shit I wanted. I am not one to wait, and I will pay top dollar not to listen to some dumb song someone think “slaps” and kill my vibe. Every time I would play “Tennessee Whiskey” first and then, a couple others for variety, “Traveller.” When it would come on the speakers, my husband would gasp and look at me.

“Did you put this on?” he would ask.

“Of course, Punkin.”

The song below… I included it because it was one he “dedicated” to me. It makes me cry every time I listen to it. I would have put it at the top but, it hits entirely too hard. It’s also extremely depressing. Birthdays are meant to be fun! However, I would be remiss to not take this opportunity to share that one with you as well. The sentiment behind it is beautiful.

I really hate that I don’t remember the first time we got to celebrate his birthday together. I’m sure I did something shmaltzy as a gift and then ended up having sex, because aren’t I really the gift? I know I didn’t take him out to eat because I was a jobless, high school senior at the time.

I have tried every year since to make my gift better than the one before. Primarily because he always does so much for mine. However, I’m running out of options at this point. Next year I’m going to have to find a cure for ALS.

What makes everything even more difficult is my husband’s distaste for his own birthday. I think it stems from the stress he felt for his mother, doing it for him, alone, in his youth. It goes the same for Christmas. This time of year is always so stressful for him. He’s not one to celebrate. It wasn’t until he owned his own construction company and was doing well, financially, that he got into the Christmas spirit.

I had wanted to do another big birthday event like we had last year, but he wasn’t up for it. As he progresses he has found that people tend to spend more time talking and paying attention to him. He doesn’t like it. He’s never liked it. But with the fact that his speech has gotten to a point where people have a hard time understanding him it makes it even worse.

Tonight will be a small affair. Just dinner from one of his favorite places with our little polycule and his family.

I just wish I could think of something better than cookies and candies for his gift…

The Soundtrack of My Life – 42 – Semi-Charmed Life

For whatever reason, when I was kid I loved country. On Saturday afternoon, while cleaning my disastrous bedroom, my dad set my new radio to KFRG and I was hooked. He seemed to have forgotten this little detail, because he would repeatedly ask how I could like it. My parents didn’t listen to it, so where could I have picked it up? It was you, dad, it was you.

At the time, he was not one to like it. After I got older he had grown an appreciation. I think because the contemporary country at the time sounded more like pop music from his generation. Country is always a few-steps behind the mainstream. I think because the square dancing doesn’t go anywhere.

Up until I was twelve years old I refused to listen to anything but country. Well, that’s not entirely true. I did love classical or orchestral music in addition to, but at the time when I owned a tape deck stereo all I ever allowed to come across those speakers was country; and the twangy genre were the only cassettes I owned. I believed that it started that way and it would end that way.

I was so militant about that notion that one of my friends’ brother tried to get me to play some Green Day on it and I flat-out refused. Which is one moment that really sticks out to me. Why was I so concerned? Did I think that the alt-rock was going to somehow taint my machinery? It’s strange the things we used to think were important.

If I showed my music taste and collection to that version of myself he would call me a liar.

This kid was someone who would run out of a room that had on any kind of contemporary music playing. Or I would plug my ears. Goddamn, was I ever the fucking weirdo. That bitch was CLUTCHING onto them Christian roots.

Fast forward from that ridiculous moment in history and the first time I ever allowed myself to watch MTV, during summer break, and the first alternative song I ever allowed myself to listen to and subsequently love was “Semi-Charmed Life.” That to me is hilarious. Mainly due to the content of the song itself. It is this up-beat pop rock tune about drug abuse and sex. And the first time I allow myself to like songs other than cheating women and drinking was about a drug addict talking about falling asleep with his dick still inside his girlfriend after an evening of drug fueled sex. Honey…

When I fall from grace I fall hard. Which tracks for my pattern of: if I’m going to do something I’m going to do it right.

This song kicked the door to my resistance of it’s hinges. It ushered in a flood of alternative bands. Matchbox Twenty was right on the heels of Third Eye Blind, and as I chased the sporadic and unpredictable airing habits of certain music videos I discovered Robbie Williams. I chased him for an entire summer until I finally got his U.S. release of “The Ego Has Landed.” (Still one of my top faves.)

It wouldn’t be until I was dating my husband, with his massive music collection, that I would get to hear entirety of Third Eye Blind’s first album. Every song on it was pure magic. From beginning to end. It spoke to me and my fears of failing, substance abuse, and not ever being remembered.

Lately I have been listening to a “90’s” (More like early 2000’s) Playlist I made on Spotify. The songs there take me back to a time when I was happy. Which is weird because I wasn’t. I was an overweight, loner, closet-case who clutched to a false faith because it was what was expected of me. I was playing a role. Yet I consider that a time of “happiness.” Then it donned on me that I only view it as such because I had no responsibilities. My life was just school and having fun. I didn’t have bills to pay, didn’t have to worry about the U.S. government falling apart, nor the overwhelming pain of loss and impending departure. All I had to do was stay focused on grades and play video games. Of course that would be viewed as joyful and carefree.

Now I get to use these songs as vessels for euphoric recall. For 3, or so, minutes I am back in my bedroom playing video games or sitting in front of the computer of my parents’ living room chatting with people hundreds/thousands of miles away. For the briefest of moments I get to be carefree.

That’s the magic of music.

The Soundtrack of My Life – 41 – Anti-Hero

Me and anti-depressants have had an on-going on-and-off-again relationship since I was 18. I was referred to a psychologist due to the overwhelming depression I experienced after my break-up with Travis. My parents were terribly concerned at my attitude and didn’t want me making an drastic decisions. At the time I thought I was bipolar but… It turned out to be depression. My friend, at the time, also went to the doctor and he thought he had depression but instead was diagnosed bipolar. What a fun little anecdote.

Lately I have been feeling like the problem. “It’s me. Hi! I’m the problem, it’s me.” My rage is making everyone around me uncomfortable and in the shower the other morning I had a thought that everyone would be better off if I were not around. I am not far enough gone that I didn’t silence the immediate mental reaction of, “Who would take care of Charlie?”

Taking the the “wake-up call” I started back on my medication. Again. The only way I’m tolerable to be around is if I am medicated. I have to just accept that fact. The back and forth serves no one. Resigning to this truth is the only way. I just fight it so hard.

The reason I stopped them back in mid-October was because in all the places we travelled my husband would want to drink. While taking Lexapro I cannot drink. It immediately takes all the medication coursing through my veins and throws it in the trash. The brother-husband suggested I keep taking it anyway, but why would I take medicine that I will immediately eliminate from my system. Why not just stop taking the drugs?

At least this time I stopped taking them because I can’t do “fun” things while on them. It wasn’t because they made me feel numb or lifeless, which has been my complaint in the past. Also, the previous medications took away my “manic” and I quite enjoy the rush of energy from my mania.

“I have this thing where I get older just never wiser.”

Not to abruptly switch gears, but I am convinced this song is actually about Trump, with some overlap to Taylor Swift. The middle chorus where she talks about “sexy babies” and how she’s an ugly monster standing on a hill references her aging in an industry that praises and is hyperfocused on “sexy babies.” Lately I feel like this is my personal anthem. I seem to make everything worse. Deliberately or otherwise.

At times I just want to disappear and start again somewhere else.

It is a good thing to realize that more often than not we are the cause of our own frustrations. Once we realize that we can fix it and move on. Lacking any self-awareness is a major hinderance is growth. On the flip side, taking to heart that you’re the problem can have severely negative results. Thus… medication.

The Soundtrack of My Life – 40 – Typical / Beautiful Mess

I’m sad that this band didn’t have any other hits after this one. The whole album is incredible and I fail to find a song that doesn’t rock or hit an emotional nerve.

The first time I heard “Typical” was by a “dedication” from my husband to me. This song climbed to popularity (on our local radio station) on the heels of yet another one of Charlie’s and my break-ups. However, this time was different. We may have “broken-up” but we continued to live together, sleep in the same bed, etc… Basically we created the life we have now. Except we were “broken-up.” My husband chose this route because he didn’t want to do an “open relationship.” He and I were of the same mind, at the time, and thought that those types of relationships were beneath us. They were stereotypically gay and we weren’t the norm. (Yet ever the typical fags…)

During this time the idea was for me to work on myself. I had cheated on him repeatedly over the three year relationship. I was meant to take this time to reflect and figure out if I wanted us to stay together or not. It was also at this time when I entered into the SAA program as part of “working on myself.”

Despite societal belief that it isn’t a real addiction, I firmly believe that it is. It’s received such a negative perception because it appears to have been used as justification for the infidelity of high profile celebrities. While the validity of that assumption can go either way, I tend to think there is truth in it.

For most addicts they have to go to a source to get their high. They have to drink, smoke, shoot, snort, and eat their demons. While sex addiction is an obsession over the chemical rush that forever resides in our brains. That overpowering sense of euphoria that fills our bodies from head to toe after ejaculation. Sometimes it’s purely the heightened state of mind that one may get caught or the danger of the action itself. In those cases it may be more of an “adrenaline junky” than sex addiction. Either way… these are substances we don’t have to go anywhere to abuse. We have it at the ready on a moments notice.

To this day I use sex as a way of coping. Whenever I feel disgusting about my body image or self-worth I head to some cruising spot or use the apps to find someone to want me, because at that moment I sure as shit don’t. Their approval gives me the go ahead to feel good about myself. And the reinforcement of the euphoric rush just rewards the behavior. Afterwards I feel nothing but shame and guilt in my actions and thus begins the addictive cycle.

For years I ran SAA meetings, after having the responsibility to find us a new location thrust upon me. I was invested. I had a few sponsors try and get me through the steps and even took on the responsibility sponsoring two people. However, I wasn’t what they needed. I have a more “it’s your responsibility not mine” approach to it. I will get one the info, be an anchor to keep one centered, or be a shoulder to cry on, but I will not be your parent. That is not my job. I also require people to be relatively self-aware and that isn’t something you cannot force someone into. You can’t even lead them to the it. They have to discover that on their own.

Even though I love my husband more than anything, I will be by his side until the very end, but this song is one that I use for emotional cutting. Even now… It’s one I can put on, as a joke to recount how someone one time called me a whore, but in reality it’s my way of harming myself. Because I am nothing more than a typical whore.

I think it doubly hurts because he has only ever “given” me one other song, and I derive so much worth and love from a song “dedication.” It’s truly bizarre.

It should be noted that at the same time as this song he gave me another one that… It encapsulates everything we had gone through at that time, and even still go through. It was so uplifting and beautiful for me and was the perfect balance that this song brought. “Typical” cut me down but “A Beautiful Mess” built me back up. To this day, if I’m alone, I will ugly cry to it.

At first listen it sounds like an insulting song, but it 1,000% is not. So, I will leave you with Jason Mraz.