A Recovery Blog

This blog is about my continuing recovery from severe mental illness. I celebrate this recovery by continuing to write, by sharing my music and artwork and by exploring Buddhist ideas and concepts. I claim that the yin/yang symbol is representative of all of us because I have found that even in the midst of acute psychosis there is still sense, method and even a kind of balance. We are more resilient than we think. We can cross beyond the edge of the sane world and return to tell the tale. A deeper kind of balance takes hold when we get honest, when we reach out for help, when we tell our stories.

Monday, March 7, 2011

An Online Meeting And Thoughts On Music and Work

A couple of weeks ago I got a facebook friend request from a former neighbor.  We grew up together in Park Slope, Brooklyn in the 60s, 70s and 80s.  He lived across the street from me.  I didn't know him very well, but for one month, when I was 24, I had a month long affair with him.  He wound up breaking it off because he wasn't feeling good about himself.  At the time he said that I should be someone's sweetheart, but it was obvious he wasn't ready for something serious.  We continued to live on the same street for a couple of more years, which was awkward, but I didn't have any contact with him.  And so, I was surprised when he recently wanted to have contact with me again...but pleased, too.  Tom was and still is a musician and an actor, only now he teaches acting in the New York school system, has been happily married for over 20 years and has two talented daughters, both in college.  When I knew him, he was conflicted and, as he put it, "self loathing", but he bit the bullet and grew up into a well adjusted man.  He said that for 7 years he had a 9 to 5 job while his kids were young, but that after his mother died, he decided to return to music and acting and has been lucky enough to have a kind of freelance career going from school to school, doing what he loves.  So, in short, he is a real success story, especially for someone with artistic abilities.  

I learned all this about him through facebook emails, but, of course, I had to tell my story, which is not a success story, but a story of dysfunction, abuse and mental illness.  He did get to see and respond to some of my artwork and last week I gave him a link to the sample of my songs on the Soundclick site.  I listened to my CD from the 1990s again and that inspired me to continue working on some new songs.  I have an 8 track tascam portastudio which I bought a couple of years ago, but never learned how to use fully.  The reason for that was because after I had made up my CD for the first time in a decade and sent it out to several friends, I began having psychotic symptoms.  I thought the music was way better than it actually was and that I would hook up with other musicians and start a band or something, get noticed, etcetera.  Needless to say, that didn't happen.  My friends listened to my CD, enjoyed some of it and then put it aside, while I backed away from it.  In the last two years I have worked on a lot of new songs, but I never refined them, recorded them properly or shared them online.  When I thought of Tom listening to my music, I was excited at first because he is a songwriter and musician, but then I didn't hear from him and I started to come down to earth again and get practical.  I began to realize that my music is more for myself than for others, though I still have the desire to share some songs eventually online, but mainly with just a few friends.  

Tom did get back to me today and he said some very nice things about the music, but more to the point was that he had been busy with his own life, working, playing, teaching and performing.  I was pleased by his response and relieved because I didn't this time fall into psychotic symptoms even though I worked on and recorded two songs using my portastudio.  The songs I recorded didn't come out well, but I have to wake up and realize that making good music is not about instant gratification, it's about practice.  So I will slowly keep working on the music, switch off between that and my reading and writing.  

While looking for the owner's manual to the portastudio a couple of weeks ago, I came across some writing that I did in 2002 and 2005 that I hadn't remembered and began reading through it.  A lot of it was journal/ memoir related writing, but there was poetry and a couple of story fragments.  I was pleased with parts of it and want to type up sections and try to expand them into perhaps a chapter or a section of a chapter.  It is good to write and then put the writing aside for months, even years.  I may write about the same subjects over the months and years, but there's a fresh slant on each recollection and a deeper resonance.  A lot of creative work is just showing up and doing the work, but it is also reviewing, reflecting, re working the raw material.  Eventually your personality or voice shines through.  

I've also been thinking about getting back into craft work so that I can earn some money this year.  I'm going to learn how to make tie dyes.  I bought all the equipment for it a couple of years ago, but never went through with it, but now, with the downstairs done and providing a good work space, I want to try it.  And I want to make hemp jewelry and do some crocheting.  All this means that I have to shut the cats out of my work space, but it has to be done.  I've missed the craft work.  I used to do a lot of it while I was acutely psychotic and it was very therapeutic.  

Many thanks to everyone who has been posting comments lately.  I appreciate all of them.   Thanks for reading.   
Post a Comment