Broken Bits Utopia

Despite the voices in my head bellowing, "Stay home and watch the Law & Order marathon!" and "They will find you a pale imitation of your humorous, amazing, riotous blog persona!", I ventured with my tiny family in tow to Londinium on Saturday to meet with some of my favourite rock and roll blog stars.

The only person I've met in person from blogging is My Cheese Hand, Molly, and even though she totally used me for sex and candy when we met we're still firm friends. She barely blogs anymore, so loved up and with a mind foggy with the bayou humidity is she.

You would think that after having such a delightful experience with a blogger, that I would be very keen to meet up with other blog denizens. However, my belief that my blog self is a woman far cooler than my real self leads me to fear any potential meet-ups. On my blog and on Twitter I'm all, "Cup my boobs you hot bitches, wooooot!", and yet in real life I'm the mute Cousin It look-alike whose eyes dart back and forth constantly looking for the nearest escape route if things get too heavy.

Thankfully, I talked myself off the ledge and went to see these marvellous women. I knew I would regret it if I didn't. This gathering has restored my confidence in blog meet-ups, so soon I shall be issuing invitations to bloggers far and wide to come to my fair seaside town. I still feel as if the bulk of my time was spent mumbling about how depression is a total drag maaaaan, laughing at other peoples' witticisms and convincing my child that no, that immaculate chocolate cake on Thalia's table is not in fact begging for your snot and saliva-covered finger to pierce it. Despite these reservations, I can't think of better company in which to be that way.

Thalia, unsurprisingly, was an excellent host. The spread she put on was amazing, and had I "known" everyone a wee bit better I just may have slathered myself with her lentils. No, that's not a euphemism. Those were some damn good lentils. I had the pleasure of meeting the absolutely adorable Pob, and even H made an appearance. Pob was very well-behaved, and as mentioned by others, has such gorgeous eyes. Thalia told me that Pob's hair was a bit mullet-like but spared from full-on mulletdom by curls, and I'm on record saying that this is exaggerated. I know mullets, being from Central Pennsylvania and having birthed a child with the mullety-est mullet that ever mulleted. This kid's hair was far too shiny, thick, and appropriately growing to be a mullet.

I confess it was quite odd to finally meet Thalia, as we have known each other in this sphere for years upon years now. I got to tell her in person how grateful I was for all the wisdom she has shared with me in that time. I mentioned my odd protocol for IUI 4, and damn if that woman doesn't remember the specifics! She's amazing.

Hairy Farmer Wife is not the least bit hairy, I am pleased to report. She does have lovely chestnut-coloured hair on her head, but she wasn't coughing up hairballs or anything dramatic like that. The Hairy Farmer hisself was present for some of the festivities, likely a bit shell shocked at our odd little infertile gathering. Luckily for him he missed the more...frank segments of our discussions. Harry Hairy is also not hairy, and in fact has an enviable mop of blond hair to sniff when cuddling. The poor confused child wanted to be picked up by me time and time again, which I enthusiastically welcomed. I haven't told you kids this yet, but the uterus, she is a'twingin'. Being able to cuddle with a small person who doesn't kick or shout, "I don't want to hit you Mum!" is an experience worth savouring. Hairy Farmer Wife is known for her baking skills, and she did not disappoint. I can't even tell you how delicious her cakes were. If it was appropriate to cake hump in polite company, I totally would have.

Here is where it gets freaky. May was there, as was her H (whose name I know but I will not tell you, so there) for a bit. I'd never met May before Saturday, nor has she posted any photos of herself on her blog. However, when I spotted her she was exactly how I would picture her. Exactly. Either her powers of self-description are amazingly astute, or she has been sneaking into my bedroom at night and haunting my dreams. Those are obviously the only two possibilities. This woman speaks like she writes, which is to say, I felt like a drooling simpleton half the time. Teach me your words May, teach me your words! I admit I was worried about May because I can't imagine that being surrounded by little ones when you're in the midst of sorting out your reproductive future is much fun, but she handled it with standard May-like aplomb. Her blog post about it made me smile. I am so relieved.

The circle was complete with Helen. Helen is another person whose blog I have read for yonks, and though she only lives about a 2 minute walk from my house we'd never met. Oh, we've exchanged many a snarky and foul-mouthed email over the years about people and things we hate, but no journeys had been made. Naturally Helen brought the twins, Nick and Nora, and sweet jesus are those kids friggin' cute. They are twins of a certain age, yet they barely made a sound, and they didn't beat up on each other at all. I am in awe of their restraint. Helen added to the culinary wonder of the day with a couscous dish that along with the lentils, I could have shoved into my gaping maw ravenously without a spare thought to decorum. I would also like to add that Helen looks like a baby. Seriously, I think she's 12.

My own child somehow managed to not be a complete troll and only had a series of minor infractions on the day. P was in love with Thalia's bathroom for some inexplicable reason and spent at least an hour running in and out of it, shutting the door, opening it, shutting it, opening it. Over and over. She also, as mentioned in May's post and HFW's post about the meet-up, begged for other peoples' cake. Yes, she did say please, but when her mother is also feeding her cake, it's a touch inappropriate to go around scamming cake off other people too. P is a bit of a manners fiend, and gave Harry a book to read. When he graciously took it off her, she lectured him, "You should say thank you!" No doubt Harry was thinking that the notorious cake-stealer should climb down off that high horse she's so fond of.

I know reading about a social event you weren't a part of is like being in a room full of child bores you don't know rabbiting on about the accomplishments of their children, but I'm basking in the post get together glow, alright?

The lovefest endeth here.


Music Monday: The Old and the New

Music Monday doesn't feel like a chore this week, huzzah! I just finished watching a great BBC4 programme on American folk music, so I'm swathed in the thoughts of folk and blues from the 1920s and 30s and a rather happy girl.

I thought it was time to do another post featuring artists who are releasing new albums soon - in some cases new songs will be included, but in some cases new material is not quite available yet, so you'll just get some old stuff that I like.

I am attempting to do this chronologically, so we'll start with Franz Ferdinand's new album "Tonight: Franz Ferdinand" due out on Tuesday (27th January). I thought I knew the older song of theirs I would feature because I love it, then remembered I was actually thinking of the Kaiser Chiefs' "Modern Way". The two bands sound nothing alike in name, with the former taking its name from an assassinated Austro-Hungarian Archduke, and the latter's name inspired by a football club in South Africa.

Admittedly, I don't even like Franz Ferdinand, and I don't really like the Kaiser Chiefs either. Since I've bothered to type this much though, I might as well pick a song by FF I don't hate, followed by their new one.


Walk Away -


Ulysses -

Next we have Bruce Springsteen. Now I know a lot of you are big fans of The Boss, so I'll give you a few minutes to revel in Boss-ness. I have to say I'm a casual listener of Bruce, but I am massively digging the new song from his album, "Working on a Dream", oddly enough, called "Working on a Dream". The album is due out on Tuesday as well.



I'm on Fire (playing on a street in Copenhagen) -


Working on a Dream -

Monday, 9 February (UK) and Tuesday, 10 February mark the release of Lily Allen's new album, "It's Not Me, It's You". I'm on the fence about this girl both musically and personally, but that title kinda rocks. I've always been a reluctant quasi-fan of Lilly Allen - I appreciate that she's outspoken and doesn't give a shit, but sometimes shut the fuck up, you know? Anyway, her new song is my favourite new song in quite awhile and I've been listening to it on repeat. It reminds me of early/mid-90s poppy indie like Saint Etienne, a nostalgia trip which is always going to make me happy.


Littlest Things -


The Fear -

Just for fun, and to make you get down with your gin and juice like it's 1994, I'm going to throw a little video of Warren G's Regulate on down here. Apparently young Warren has a new album out on Tuesday, 10 February, aptly called, "The G-Files". I wondered how Warren could record an album so soon after having a series of strokes, then I googled and saw that I was mixing him up with Nate Dogg. I then wondered how I even knew about any of this in the first place.


Most importantly, my heart, my life, Morrissey, has an album coming out Monday, 16 February (UK)/Tuesday, 17 February (US). It's called "Years of Refusal", and the first single is "I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris". I'm always struck by how much Moz reminds me of my Dad, but without all the alcoholism, DUIs, and checking himself out of rehab 55 days early.


You Have Killed Me -


I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris -

It seems there are quite a few artists coming out with new material within the next few months, though not immediately. Here's some older stuff of people/bands that will have new albums in late winter/spring:

The Gossip, title not yet announced, Spring 2009

Don't Make Waves -

Massive Attack, title not yet announced, Spring 2009

Unfinished Sympathy -

Matisyahu, Light, 2009

Youth -

Patrick Wolf, Battles, 2009

Magic Position -

I was going to do some more, but I can't handle the brick wall that is "embedding disabled by request". It's doubtless my laptop's screen can withstand further punching.

Happy Monday everyone (oh, btw, the Happy Mondays have a new album out sometime this year too - I thought [hoped] they were all dead)! If anyone is having trouble with my feed, please tell me. I have no idea how to fix it, but I guess I should know about it. Or something.


Meditations on a theme

Aw, I feel so loved, you dear, dear souls. People holding out on commenting again until I start commenting on your posts again - soon, soon. My Google Reader is morbidly obese with feeds, and I'm ever so slowly working my way through the mountain of unread posts. Work hecticness has prevented me from having proper lunch hours, which is prime blog-reading time. I get home in the evening and all I want to do is look after my kid and clean, so I just keep falling further behind in my reading.

I don't know what it is with this medication, but damn it if I didn't get positively giddy at the prospect of tidying up the flat the other day. I was sitting at work, giving my mind a chance to wander, and that's where it went. My stomach jumped in anticipation of doing dishes, picking up toys, and doing laundry. I faint, I lose half my body's blood during periods, and I have an innate desire and joy to clean - this stuff is great!

I thought I'd give a bit of background regarding this whole prescription debacle lest we all lose our heads and shake our fists at the injustices of the NHS. When I made my first appointment nearly two years ago, I was in a state which frightened me. My anxiety was dominating everything, and staying home with P all day, every day, did not help. I had a couple ocular migraines, my hands shook all the time, and I couldn't sleep. I made an appointment to see my GP, my gradual relief building as it got closer. I started crying as soon as I entered her office, and spent most of the appointment gasping for breath as I recounted how miserable I was. We all know what the recommendation was at the conclusion of that big old waste of time.

I tried again about nine months later. I was back at work, which wasn't the immediate balm I'd thought it would be. I saw a second GP, who advised me to take a walk. Ah yes, the age-old cure for depression and anxiety. After that, I just gave up and became resigned to the fact that I'd have to learn on my own how to deal with it all.

So what is right? Most GPs here won't dole out an anti-anxiety/depression medication upon the first request. Conversely, many US doctors are quite happy to shower their patients with any medication they desire. I know this first-hand anyway, but I also see it with my Mom. There is a faint rattle when she walks, she's so jacked up on medications her doctors have convinced her she needs. She is a relatively healthy woman amazingly, yet her plastic bag of pill bottles is the largest Ziploc freezer bag which can be obtained legally without rousing the suspicions of homicide detectives. I'm upset that she thinks she needs all of that in order to get by.

In my experience, you'd be hard pressed to find someone in the UK without a serious medical condition who takes anywhere near the amount of medications my Mom does. The Dude's parents are a few years older than my Mom and have health issues ranging from severe back problems to liver conditions, yet they don't need a separate room to house their narcotics. The Dude's grandmother is in her late 80s and I don't think she takes any more than one or two medications with any regularity.

I am annoyed with my doctors for not doing something sooner, but then again, is it right to see a patient for five minutes then prescribe a medication on that brief period of exposure? I suppose ideally I think it would have been best for the first GP to perhaps recommend I come back for a follow-up appointment in a few weeks' time, then ascertain the appropriateness of medication. Instead, she told me from the outset that she thought medication didn't solve any problems - what use is that when you should be trying to help people? I think I will always fail to see how the numerous issues caused by very heightened and constant tension, anxiety, and depression - can ever be the better option than being on medication temporarily.

Any thoughts?


Music Monday: Thank you Internet!

Ah, Music Monday time again. The Crazy has abated enough and I'm ready to resume this gig. Believe it or not, lots of you folks are keen on this day of the week just because of the fine tunes I force you to listen to. Let's be honest, what other reason is there to like a Monday?

Last year I blogged about my beloved internet radio and I'm pleased to say that time has not dulled my affection. This is not a shocking revelation for me, after all, I asked for a world band radio for my 12th birthday. I was endlessly fascinated by the prospect of being able to listen to radio stations in far-flung places in languages I viewed as exotic and so far outside my own experience in small-town Pennsylvania. On nights I wasn't huddled under my covers listening to the world band radio, I had my stereo on a favourite AM talk radio station. I even phoned in to a psychologist's late-night show after my dog died. So you see, me and radio, we go way back.

I have created a sampling of some of the music on some of my favourite stations, bearing in mind that having hundreds of thousands of radio stations at your disposal is enough to make a radiophile like myself need a change of underwear. I don't like to limit these things, but you only have so much time to read a Music Monday post, I know this.


Philly inhabitants, as well as those in central PA (reppin'!) are likely to be familiar with this, my all-time favourite station.

Rachael Yamagata,

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The Gaslight Anthem, The '59 Sound

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Adele, Hometown Glory (incidentally I had this on my iPod about a year and a half ago, ahem)

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MGMT, Kids

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Airborne Toxic Event, Gasoline

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Y-Rock (XPN is its parent station)

The Dears, '22, The Death of All the Romance

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Titus Andronicus, Titus Andronicus

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Coconut Records, West Coast

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The Von Bondies, Pale Bride

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Folk Alley

Natalie MacMaster, David's Jig/Valerie Pringle's Reel

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Old Crow Medicine Show, I Hear Them All

Colin Meloy, We Both go Down Together

Abigail Washburn & the Sparrow Quartet, Strange Things

Sugar in the Gourd: I just found this station in my travels the other night, and I'm addicted. Shame that The Dude has to always hear banjo-picking and fiddle playing whenever he comes into the kitchen.

Mississippi John Hurt, Louis Collins

Etta Baker, Crow Jane

There could be more, but my battery is dying and I'm not in a location (ie, bed) to conveniently recharge.

Viva la Music Monday!

**UPDATE - I see the videos aren't coming up properly, but they still play! Please see above reference to "dying laptop battery" as an explanation as to why I cannot fix it now. Also - TIRED.


The Return

Et voila, I'm back. It seems it was a bit too difficult to temporarily quit this thing cold turkey, being as I couldn't bring myself to not post a couple of times in the past month. Despite appearances I am a private person, so I didn't feel I could share my anti-depressant prescription victory and subsequent passing-out-clutching-bloody-pad with anyone but you sympathetic and divine bitches.

The back story, whether you want to hear it or not, is thus - I was very, very depressed. For two years. Ok, since the birth of my kid two and a half years ago. As I've whinged about before, I could not, despite my very best efforts, get my GP to do anything about it. I had been mulling over going a third time for quite awhile, but I reached a point last month at which I couldn't carry on without something.

I can handle sadness and tearfulness for an extended period of time. After all, those who have been through infertility are well acquainted with such things. I was at times a weeping mess huddled under my duvet, but the very worst side of it was the feeling of emptiness that suffocated me every day. There was not a time I didn't feel detached from my life, from my family. The Dude has a habit of huddling up next to me on the sofa some nights, gently kissing my upper arm off and on as we watch TV. Within the past couple months that gesture made me want to crawl out of my skin. I couldn't bear to tell him to stop as there is no polite way to tell your husband that his sweet attempts to comfort you are making you feel ill.

I felt completely dead inside. Nothing was a source of joy for me, and it felt a chore to do anything more rigorous than getting up off the sofa. I was horribly short with P all the time, and how The Dude managed to tolerate my moodiness I'm not quite sure. The breaking point was the day I posted about my prescription success. I had scheduled a day off, a blessed break from work, child and husband for a brief period before my Mom was to arrive for three weeks. I had planned to do nothing but lay on the couch, watch DVDs, and seek out the most dreadful, guilt-inducing television possible. Unfortunately for all involved, P came down with a cold and was in no state to go to school. I'm not afraid to say, I lost my goddamn mind. I was so overwhelmed by it all that I snapped - screaming, crying, and hyperventilating at The Dude at 7.30am on a Monday morning. He managed to calm me down without the use of brute force, and being the dear man he is, left work as soon as he could at 10am to come and force me to go to the doctor.

I saw a different GP this time, a man who has in the past exhibited far clearer and more reasonable thinking than my usual GP. I didn't get any further than the first sentence before I broke down like the fragile fool I am (was?). I told him that I had tried for two very long years to keep my shit together to no avail. I read the book, I had enough alone time, I took up running. None of those things made that black dog go away, not even fleetingly. I explained that I felt as if I had wasted the first two years of my daughter's life in a haze of misery, sadness, and emptiness, and I wasn't content to keep doing that for as long as it would take for it all to dissipate on its own. I also told him that *not* getting help has been far worse for my physical health than any SSRI would be. My high anxiety over the past few years has had innumerable effects on me, and strangely enough I don't want to stroke out in my early 30s. He asked if I wanted to be prescribed an anti-depressant and I had to restrain myself from offering him a joy-induced blow job, so thrilled I was for this hard-fought victory.

Passing out aside, so far, so good. I feel much more motivated, and find myself content again even at this early stage. It has been a long, long time since I was truly happy, and I hope this contributes to me being on the right path again.

To those of you who have sent me lovely emails, Facebook messages, and Twitter-related niceties, thank you. I doubt I responded because I suck, but I greatly appreciate you thinking of me. See, I have to keep blogging because I love you all too damn much. Oh - also the time to mention that more than a few people thought I went on my blogging hiatus because I thought I wasn't getting enough comments. That's harsh. I know I'm shallow, but jesus gay, give me some credit will you? I'll have you know that I SPECIFICALLY avoided throwing something in this post about De-Lurking Day or whateverthefuck, much as I dearly wanted to. So there.

Onward and upward.