lengthen the fuse 💣

learn to savor SOM

Again and again and again…hasn’t really been my thing.

As I’m writing this, I’m listening to Lana Del Rey’s Lust for Life on repeat. It just makes me want to lay on the floor and smoke, maybe cry. It’s very airy (and Lana is a Gemini).

I’m not really used to listening to albums over and over—which I believe it what most people do if they like a song or an album. Usually a few times is enough, or I’ll spread it out over time. I don’t want to get tired of it so soon. I want to make the pleasure last as long as possible.

I’m not sure what kicked this over for me, to allow myself to listen and watch things repeatedly. When I evacuated to Chicago to escape certain power failure at my house due to Hurricane Irma, I stayed with a friend and her 3-year-old son. He loves the Disney movie Moana—and (now!) I do, too. In the 12 days I was there, I saw it on at least three times. I never do that with movies, even with the few that I own (then why the hell do I own them?🤷🏾‍♀️)

But then, a couple of weekends ago, I watched the “San Junipero” episode from the Netflix TV show, Black Mirror again. It was really transformational the second time around, and I watched it to feel better. I ended up feeling like my heart had been busted wide open—I got a lot more I bargained for.

Beyond Lana Del Rey, someone who I didn’t even want to be into but Lust for Life is a damn good album, this week I’ve been listening to music I like over and over. This week, I also kept listening to The Cranberries’ Something Else, which is mostly an acoustic version of their hits with two new songs. Listening to that has been grounding somehow, very calming. I keep going back to certain songs and listening to them.

Turn towards the good (especially) when things are bad…

One thing I forget is to turn to music when things are hard—or even just to turn to it at all. But it’s been there for me so many times.

I remember being semi-homeless around this time 3 years ago. I was driving the big hills of Clermont, leaving my last Airbnb for another itinerant stay on the other side of town. I was driving with the sunroof open and the windows down, singing to this K-pop/rock dude in Korean. It was such a liberating feeling, with my consolidated life in plastic bins and suitcases, with the wind whipping through the car. Even though I had no real home, that felt really…good. I felt at home in myself. Even going back to that memory feels really good.

I do wonder why I don’t turn to good things, especially when things are bad, or just not so great. There’s even science behind how savoring is good for your wellbeing. 

It’s been a rough few years down here, but I withhold feeling good until circumstances are good, like I need to feel safe to feel happy. And, well, that’s terrible. So why not be like my friend’s son and watch the same movie over and over, play the same songs over and over?

The ever-annoying Mr. Cancer Sticks 😤🚬😷

If you follow me on Twitter, then you know the ongoing saga of living with this wizened old white dude in his early 60s, whom I disaffectionately call Mr. Cancer Sticks, because he’s a heavy smoker. His excessive coughing along with his not working (he’s on SSDI and lived in the woods for 12 years before living here starting in May), makes him a constant presence in an otherwise peaceful and quiet home. He was even smoking in his room for a few days. 🤦🏾‍♀️

These are the sort of stressors that can cause me to have a short fuse. I don’t ever blow up at this guy, although I’ve resented having to teach him how to clean up after himself and just be a considerate person while sharing a small house with two other people.

Turning towards the good, though, can help lengthen my fuse before I explode (or implode). Lifehacker had this post on how to teach kids to calm down, based on their age. For teenagers, the advice was to learn how to “lengthen the fuse” when you’re going through a stressful time. Engage in activities that you enjoy—talk to a friend, listen to your favorite song, exercise, etc. It also helps to know when your fuse is already starting to shorten. Maybe it’s teeth grinding or shallow breathing—we all have our things.

To be a kid again

I don’t have kids (yet?) but I better understand this impulse to continue to make yourself happy with the same thing over and over again. It may be annoying to hear that stupid toy make those stupid sounds for the umpteenth time, or to give your kid that piggyback ride, again, as she giggles in glee.

When I first got to my friend’s place in Chicago, I played with her son. We played this game of throwing couch cushions at each other. It was a workout because it seemed like an eternity as I pummeled him with the cushions and he’d collapsed in peals of laughter.  From hanging out with him, I remembered that as an adult, I’ve made pleasure and fun a rarity and not a right.

I could stand being a little kid again.

Back to the promised land

From when I was little, music has always been the milk and honey from my Canaan. It was a sanctuary as I would listen to music (mainly Christian, but increasingly alternative and R&B) with big headphones on my dad’s fancy tape decks. I could block out the world and just be in the space that those musical artists created.

Playing classical piano music, first on a keyboard and then on a piano, was a haven from my family’s devolution due to my father’s growing issues with mental illness. Even those lessons ended because my dad was unwell, something I haven’t been able to forgive, although I understand and can comprehend the source of the irrationality and inherent selfishness of his decision. It still hurts, over 20 years later–the untimely separation from my first love.

I look back at my time here and I still don’t know why I didn’t just immerse myself in music. It should be a habit, like brushing my teeth. I always feel better after I listen to music.

I want to create music soon, but I am still on this path of creating the foundation of stability from which all other things will grow. But in the meantime, as I deal with obnoxious housemates, financial instability, and an extended period of aloneness, I must find the good where I can.

I have to find my own pillow fight, my own Moana movie, my own song that I cannot stop listening to, my endless pleasure center that I can hitting and hitting and hitting, again and again…

The promised land isn’t when my circumstances get better. The promised land is where I go to feel better. It is a land within me, created with melody, harmony, rhythm, and silence…and I can visit anytime I want.

It’s time I set up a permanent residency…