allow me to recapitulate

It has been an interesting year so far. Manic episodes, sketching house plans in the middle of the night, COVID vaccines, no more masks, mentally preparing to work from the office again, and the Giants still in first place bitches! (yeah, you, LA fan). 

Anyway, I feel like it’s a good time for a bulleted list, so here is a recap of the first 6 months of this year:

  • In January I began a strong manic episode for about 6 weeks, possibly encouraged by trying Latuda for bipolar depression. I had extreme anxiety and a couple of panic attacks, I couldn’t sleep most nights, and I was very restless. My OCD rituals became much stronger and nearly impossible to control.
  • In February I began to come down from the manic state but the OCD and anxiety continued in full force, and it was very difficult to work or be “normal” at home. 
  • In March, there was very little improvement, and I worried that something had permanently been damaged in my brain from the manic episode. (I still think that is the case, but I’m learning to manage it.) I was very concerned that my continued employment was in jeopardy, and the resultant worry fed my continuing anxiety.
  • In April I discontinued Wellbutrin and went back on Abilify, and my anxiety calmed down somewhat. I was officially diagnosed with OCD. I also began seeing a therapist for help to deal with the anxiety and OCD behaviors. My daughter spent a week in the hospital with a vomiting syndrome.
  • In May, the anxiety began to decrease significantly, although the OCD rituals were still a problem. I finally got to go on my planned hiking trip to Pennsylvania, which was calming and satisfying. We had a multi-family barbecue for the first time since COVID, since everyone is vaccinated now.
  • In June (earlier this week), I applied for a new position at the company I work for. It would be a promotion, although the pay would be about the same. I don’t think I have much of a chance, but if you get an interview, anything can happen.

Looking forward to the rest of 2021, who knows what will transpire? We do have a few plans:

  • As of July 6th our company will begin a hybrid work schedule, which means I will be able to work every other week at the office again. Maybe I will remember all the people who I used to see every day.
  • In August we will have our annual family camping trip at a local state park. We had to cancel in 2020, breaking a streak of 12 years. 
  • In September my wife and I will take a short vacation to celebrate our 30th anniversary. We’ll probably take a bigger vacation next year, but my daughter can’t be alone for more than a couple of days, so we’ll see what happens then.
  • In November we will be seeing Genesis in concert. 

… and off we go.

ten albums

There was a thing on Fakebook where people shared a list of 10 classic albums that influenced their musical taste as they were growing up. No one asked me to play, so I’m putting my list here.

I grew up as a sheltered child, so I didn’t get to listen to rock music until I was about 13, and I didn’t get to buy my own music until I was 15. I didn’t start discovering my own tastes until after I started building a collection thanks to the Columbia House Record and Tape Club (kids: ask your parents). Once my membership had outlived its usefulness, my dog joined, and later my 80-year-old uncle joined and got 8 cassettes for a penny too.

Anyway, here are 10 albums bought from age 15 through 18 that have shaped my listening preferences since then. In no particular order:

  • Rush – Permanent Waves. My first Rush album was in the bargain bin at the store where I worked, and a co-worker recommended it to me. Best suggestion ever.
  • Genesis – Three Sides Live. Not my first Genesis album, but my most nostalgic one. Purchased in Australia, it was a gateway drug to their older music.
  • Phil Collins – Face Value. Purchased in my first order from Columbia House. I was initially confused which songs were Phil’s solo work and which songs belonged to Genesis.
  • Dire Straits – Brothers In Arms. I said I was sheltered; I once seriously asked a friend if Dire Straits were satanic, and they laughed at me. That made me hate church.
  • Peter Gabriel – So. At first I just liked the hits, but when I discovered Peter had once been with Genesis, I became interested in his older solo music.
  • Yes – Classic Yes. Another album which introduced me to the wonders of 70s progressive rock.
  • Miami Vice Soundtrack. I loved the TV show, and I memorized all the words to the Vice Rap (“The Mob, a full time job, known to extort and steal or rob!”)
  • Huey Lewis and the News – Fore! Maybe not the strongest album in the list, but Huey and the gang were the epitome of coolness.
  • U2 – The Joshua Tree. Once I played this repeatedly during a trip to Death Valley in an attempt to feel the music; it became a favorite afterward.
  • Van Halen – 1984. My introduction to hard rock, and what’s more rebellious than the smoking baby on the cover art?

Finally, number 11 with an asterisk goes to Porcupine Tree’s “Nil Recurring” EP, which has influenced everything I have listened to since I discovered them in 2007.