Black Hole Sun: The Song That Changed My Life

Picture it, 1994: Southern California

I hear this song on the radio, and I saw the video. Immediately loved it. It was soothing at a rough time in my life. 1994 was not an easy year for a whole number of reasons. This song was like a drug–it would take me away from my problems for 5 minutes and 18 seconds. I actually bought an import CD single of it. I think I ended up selling it on ebay or it’s hidden in a box somewhere in storage.

On March 1, 1996, the band The Moog Cookbook was shooting a video for their synth version of the song “Black Hole Sun.” Kevin was “location manager” for the day, as the locations were at Remote Control Studios, in front of a very large Moog modular synthesizer he’d spent the past few years assembling; and Mutato Muzika, the lime green building on Sunset Blvd. The original plan was to film in front of the legendary TONTO system, which was housed at Mutato at the time. That didn’t work out, but the building was a decent alternative for two guys wearing space suits.

After all that shooting was done, Kevin went home, fired up his computer, and logged into AOL. He found a message board for the band Devo, and made a post about his visit. I saw it and looked up his profile. His quote was “Fighting for peace is like fucking for virginity.” I was into quotes back then, so I emailed him and simply said “I like your quote.” He replied, and he became a big part of my life for the next 18 years.

In August 1996, I went to Lollapalooza at Irvine Meadows. Chris Cornell stood alone on stage and performed “Black Hole Sun.” I only watched him a little bit because I was too busy dancing like a hippie on acid, happy that I got the chance to dance to this song live.

It’s always been, and will remain, one of my favorite songs ever.

Surviving Amor Fou, #2: Music

I’m sitting here listening to The Beatles album Let It Be. Much like Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of The Moon, The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, and Suzanne Vega’s 9 Objects of Desire, this album reminds me so much of Kevin that I’ve actively refrained from listening to it until now. I don’t know what changed my mind.

In this case, we listened to this on the way down for me to meet his father and his stepmother (technically–the marriage happened when Kevin was in his 30’s), a month after I moved in with Kevin. We had little jokes that involved this album. You know, those jokes you develop over time with someone you’re close to. That stuff you can never quite convey properly to the rest of humanity. The little things that start to become painful once that person dies.

This album reminds me of so many good memories, which are a bit on the bittersweet side right now. It’s hard to think of what we used to have because it’s gone. I picture so many things in my mind’s eye while listening to this album. The apartment where we lived, his ’67 Mustang Fastback, the cats. . . So much laughter, so many very early Internet videos, hanging out with friends. . . I was so young back then. I had no idea how long I’d have with Kevin. I knew back then we’d lose all the cats, but I thought we’d start a new group of them in my 40’s. I could never have guessed that he would be dead six months after losing the last one.

That life has been over for 6 years. The good life was pretty much done six years before that. Yet listening to this album still evokes memories of that time. I’m quite happy that it’s not emotionally painful. It’s still great music and I may try to slowly put some of these songs into playlists.

The one song that I have been able to listen to is For You Blue. It reminds me of my Sweetie. But we don’t have Amour Fou, thankfully.

Relationship Red Flag Journal Entry #1

I had a boyfriend from 1990 to 1995 that I used to call Dearie. I didn’t realize how abusive it was until just before we broke up, when a good friend kept pointing out that I shouldn’t tolerate Dearie’s behavior.

I recently found my journal from the last year or so of that relationship. Here’s an example of a Relationship Red Flag

January 13, 1994

I’m confused! I’m not too sure if I wanted to have sex with Dearie today. I mean it was nice and everything, but I don’t know whether or not I really wanted to. I feel bad about that & I hope Dearie doesn’t think he pressured me into anything. I wasn’t planning on having sex today. I guess that’s why I feel this way.

If you’ve ever felt this way about your partner, it’s a huge fucking red flag and you either should bring it up with the person or ditch the manipulative asshole already. Obviously I know this is easier said than done, but trust me, you should never have to be talked into having sex. No matter who you are.

Surviving Amor Fou, #1: Panic Attacks

a·mour fou/ˌämo͝or ˈfo͞o/noun

  1. uncontrollable or obsessive passion.

I was first introduced to this concept when watching The Sopranos with Kevin. Tony Soprano fell in love with one of Dr. Melfi’s other patients and had quite a tumultuous time of it.

I kind of had a feeling at the time I watched those episodes that my marriage was like that on a different level (we never threw food at each other). No matter how angry I was with Kevin, I couldn’t live without him. He felt the same way. Almost six years into widowhood, I know for certain it was Amour Fou.

When we were alike, we were perfectly in sync. Butter and garlic. When we were dissimilar, we were oil and vinegar. We didn’t want to be around each other or we didn’t want to leave each other’s sight. With some variations on the scale sprinkled in for good measure. 18 years of that was quite a ride.

As I’ve stated many times, sense memory sucks. The other day, I heard a song I hadn’t heard in a long time. It was one of the songs Kevin used to taunt me with if he was angry at me (or angry in general and I was the only other human around). I went right back to being in front of his room, knocking and begging to be let in while the song blasted. All those dark days mixed into one and back came that empty feeling I used to get when he would get mad at me. It’s like I’d lost a part of me and the person who had the missing part wouldn’t give it back.

I turned off the song because I was panicking and it was emotionally painful. I’ve felt grief a lot when listening to music. I wipe away the tears and go on with my day. But this feeling stuck to me and suddenly the prospect of finishing my work day seemed impossible. So, I asked for the rest of the day off because I wasn’t feeling well, and I was granted it.

I talked a bit to those I discuss these things with, and pretty much stared at the TV for the rest of the day, trying to lose myself in familiar worlds. I did my best to cope. Only lamented the lack of access to benzos a tiny bit. (They have their purposes, but highly addictive, therefore difficult to obtain. Thankfully I had something that works just as well.)

That damned panic attack poked at many feelings and memories that I do my best to forget. In my mind’s eye, I had a montage of the worst of it. I couldn’t get it to stop. I hate every single one of those fights. I know a lot of them were the result of recurring bouts of failing to find fulfillment in the life I was told I wanted–combo housewife and office manager.

I can’t change any of it, therefore I don’t like to think about it. Who the hell wants to dwell on all that? Certainly not I. Yet it happens because it’s only been about three years since I began to understand the dynamics of that relationship. 20/20 hindsight, indeed. But I don’t know what knowing then what I know now would have helped all that much. Maybe avoided some arguments? But with Amour Fou, wouldn’t we have just found something else to argue about?

So, when you find yourself in a relationship that is one of those “Can’t live with you, can’t live without you” type things, be careful. As much as you think you can’t leave, you can. Then again, I’ll bet you know that but can’t bring yourself to leave. Believe me, I get it. It’s the nature of the beast, really. Just try to be honest with yourself in the “amour phase” and know that the shit’s gonna hit the fan again.

Also know that love doesn’t mean having to endure that kind of dynamic. It’s totally possible to love someone without having shouting matches on a regular basis.

Sunday Driving and Freewriting

I’m trying to get in the habit of taking a long drive on the weekends. I’ve done it a couple times. The first time I had clutch issues (slave cylinder), and that put the habit on hold for awhile. Now I’m determined not to let the car sit for too long without being driven.

Around where I live, there’s a series of hills that only have a few roads that go over it. Some of them are easy to travel, and others are the older roads that were first made when a bunch of rich people bought up the land and built things like mansions and golf courses. Those roads are “the twisties” that are full of narrow, winding roads.

I was never much for convertibles, but my Sweetie bought me a 23 year old Miata last year. I needed a commuter car, and I knew how to drive stick. It’s acted up on me a couple ways, but has kept me out of danger when it refuses to budge. Though it wasn’t fun to have to replace the ignition key.

But I digress. One of the joys of having a convertible is being able to put the top down and drive the twisties. I have a sun hat, which helps keep the sunburn down. I also wear a t-shirt with sleeves, as tan lines are preferable to sunburn.

Today, I tried a couple twisties I hadn’t done before. One I’d driven a tiny bit of, but not the whole thing. It was a nice drive, but I didn’t expect so may pedestrians and bicycles out. Everyone was wearing masks, and I almost felt bad that I wasn’t. (I probably should when I have the top down, I guess. If I use a drive through, I do put one on.)

I also made myself a playlist for the drive. That way I could put my phone on do not disturb and put it in my bag. Keeps it out of the sun and removes the temptation to check messages. It was nice not to have to think about anything but the music and the road.

Going the speed limit is easier uphill. Downhill, I’m in neutral and use the brakes. I try not to ride the brakes, but if there’s someone in front of me with a car that isn’t made to drive this kind of road, I have to. Social distancing is very much a thing when going downhill. Gotta have room to react for slower drivers and oncoming traffic.

I guess it’s like meditation for me. I’m not good at the traditional notion of meditation. It’s hard for me to quiet my thoughts. (I have to listen to audiobooks in order to fall asleep. I mean, I can fall asleep on my own, but it takes quite a long time to do so.) Blasting the songs that I love while traversing twists and turns in a car with damn near 50/50 balance is a wonderful thing for me. It’s quite literally the opposite of being home most of the time. (I’m fortunate that I’ve been able to work from home and my company is doing well.)

I got a Chromebook the other day. I needed something bigger than my phone with a keyboard, so I went for a refurb of last year’s model that was mainly designed for schoolwork. One of these days I’ll spring for a fancier model with a backlit keyboard and a touchscreen, but for now I’m really happy. In fact, right now I’m sitting in my backyard typing, with my work-issued gaming headset on, blasting music.

I’m working on another blog, but it’s different. It’s all fiction, so I need to get all the backstory down before I decide to publish it. As much as I’ve always wanted to write a novel, it’s just too daunting of a task to do when I work full time and battle depression. I used to do a comic, but that was time consuming. Besides, writing is my art.

Another New Normal

I remember years ago, the “New Normal” for me was being grateful for the gift of a wheelchair so Kevin could go out without having to walk around.

These days, it means spending a lot of time in my room. I’m fortunate to have been working from home for the past 8 weeks. I love my company, because they’ve been on top of the pandemic situation and slowly rolled out the necessary precautions since late January. This is the kind of steady job that I’ve always wanted, but was convinced for years that it was a bad thing to want. Funny how that goes sometimes.

I’ve been writing fiction again! My problem has always been completing a story. I get too many ideas about key scenes and don’t go back to fill in the gaps. So, I’m taking a different approach to it. I’ll let people check it out once I have my content organized.

Stumbled upon the SiriusXM channel 1st Wave about a week ago, courtesy of the TV service that gets beamed to the house. My inner teenager is digging hearing songs that I haven’t heard in like, over a quarter century! I’ve been using my Google Play account to build a playlist out of the songs I don’t want to forget. Even some of the DJ’s are the ones I listened to back then! My “Spring 20” Playlist also has a bunch of different stuff I discovered when making my own custom “radio stations” on Google Play based off of a single song and noting what I enjoy. Jazz fusion, New Wave, and Motown, mostly. It all mixes together fine in my mind. Branching out a bit in music is good. I’ve discovered and re-discovered a lot of good songs.

Much like when I grew up here but for much different reasons, I can’t go anywhere. I do take an occasional drive, especially now that the weather’s nice enough to drive around with the top down! I don’t want to offer my thoughts on the current situation. Well, I do want to go on record saying that while it is a drag to have to stay home all the time, and masks are a little awkward, it’s a lot better than being told what to do with my uterus. Plus, technology nowadays has made it much easier to get things delivered and to stay in touch. And yeah, with my “pre-existing conditions”, it can get very depressing to be away with my loved ones, but we’re all still alive and want to stay that way! I don’t want to focus on all the stuff I can’t do. I have it better than scores of my fellow Americans. I can’t take that for granted.

I also enjoy being able to get up a half hour before work, because it means I have more time after work to relax and enjoy myself. Then again, I’ve never really been a morning person. If I didn’t have to stick to a normal work schedule, I’d so be a night owl. I miss those days.

So does this count as having written about the current Pandemic for future generations? 😉

Another 20 Year Milestone

On April 26, 2000, I got my tubes tied. I had to fight like hell to get it. Everyone saw this unmarried 20-something of Mexican descent in LA County who did not want to have children. They laughed at me. They tried to get me to get a psychiatric evaluation. They kept telling me I was too young and that I would change my mind in 10 years and then where would I be? Quite annoying. Even on the operating table before they put me under, they asked me if I was sure. I said I was. I knew I wouldn’t regret rendering myself sterile. I was right.

Now that I’m a widow, I know getting my tubes tied was a good decision. I can’t imagine trying to parent a fatherless child while I’m grieving as well. Heck, I’m glad there were no cats left that had to accept the loss of such a great Cat Daddy. Plus, depression runs in both my family and Kevin’s. We didn’t want to pass that trait along to another human being. (Not to mention the child would have an increased risk of suicide!)

Oddly enough, after Kevin died, I was told a few paternal aunts were under the impression that Kevin forced me to get my tubes tied. (Yeah, because a relative’s first concern after hearing her niece’s husband died should be the niece’s fertility status!) They were informed they were wrong.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that childfree women actually enjoy sex more after sterilization, either theirs or their male partner’s. Childfree women who aren’t sterile often fear pregnancy the way some people fear death. Personally, the thought that all that fun could result in having to get an abortion put a little damper on the act. My Catholic upbringing taught me that only abstaining from sex until marriage was the only way to avoid getting pregnant, because birth control has a failure rate. (I was also taught that condoms were useless because some STD’s could still get through.) That stuck in my head, and was part of what prompted me to get my tubes tied in the first place. Plus the fact that my maternal family is quite fertile, and my Grandma got pregnant while on birth control.

So here I am, in my mid 40’s, still grateful that I’ve been able to forego hormonal birth control for two whole decades. It’s saved me quite a bit of money over the years, especially considering I didn’t have health insurance for many years on end.

To any woman in her 20’s who doesn’t want kids, you probably won’t change your mind, especially if you’ve known since you were a kid that you don’t want to be a Mom. Fight for your life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness! I did, and it’s still one of the best things I ever did for myself.

It was 20 Years Ago Today. . .

No Sgt. Pepper here. 😉

20 years ago today, April 6,2000, I stood on a cliff in West Maui and married Kevin. I still smile when I think of that day. Giggling as we held hands and walked behind the minister on the way to that spot. People noticing us and cheering because we were getting married.

It was windy, and our long hair blew everywhere. The kiss, which brings up this line from a Steely Dan song: “So in love, the preacher’s face turned red.” My “smiling muscles” hurting because I’d been grinning for a very long time.

Do I regret eloping and not marrying in front of family? No. Having a wedding with my in-laws would have been a lot of drama. My late FIL married thrice, before and after his marriage to my MIL. (He incorporated at the end of his marriage to my MIL so she didn’t get nearly what she should have. Though she did get to collect benefits once he died.) Not to mention my Large Beaner Family (meant with affection–I’d rather call myself a Beaner than a Latina/x) and the high potential for drama that crowd brings.

The day before we got married, we took a trip into Lahaina to get clothes and rings. I chose a brown dress, and he chose a blue shirt. I can’t fit into that dress, but his shirt fits me well. We got our rings at a reasonable price when Kevin used the phrase “triple keystone” to the salesman. (FIL was a wholesale Jeweler. He allowed Kevin to get his GED and leave high school at 17 as long as he worked for him. Those skills came in handy at times when he’d restore synths. His tools were passed along to a friend who will use them. Tools are supposed to be used, after all, not sit in a box out of sentimentality.)

I’d love to go back to the Hali Kai, where we stayed, and spread a little bit of his ashes into the water. That was a special place for him, long before I was born. It meant a lot to him that we went there together, and that’s probably why he decided to propose there.

I’m listening to Dish’s 80’s Hits channel. I was listening to 70’s Hits, and heard a few songs that remind me of Kevin. Right now, on the 80’s Hits channel, it’s Missing Person’s “Words.” He liked to blast this one from time to time.

I knew I was due for a sense memory attack related to music, so I decided to do that bit of self-care. (Crying while I listen to a song that helps me process the emotional pain due to the loss is really helpful.) Yesterday, I decided to take a bath and listen to music I knew would most likely make me cry.. I decided on Stevie Wonder’s “You and I.” It’s from the album “Talking Book,” which we listened to a lot around the time we got married. (In fact, somewhere on a hard drive there’s footage from this time, where I walked around the condo we rented with the album in the background.) Have you ever cried so hard you have to remind yourself to breather? That kind of crying. I refuse to call it “ugly crying” because I’m supposed to cry like that over the loss of my soulmate, according to my friends.

Today, I’m wearing a shirt with the famous logo for Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of The Moon.” It’s still hard to listen to parts of that album, because that was another one of our favorites. “Great Gig in the Sky” still gets me.

It was a complicated marriage that ended with his suicide. I’ve had 6 wedding anniversary’s as a window now. They’re getting easier. I just have to remember that I have to have a good cry at least once during this time of year. And his death day, and his birthday.

Well, I used up half my lunch to write this, so I’m going to spend a little time away from a computer while I can.

Narrative Mostly Freewriting #5

The Miles David album “Bitches Brew” is about to turn 50, and I’m listening to it for the first time. I recognize a lot of the names of the people who are playing with him. I’m 3 minutes into “Pharaoh’s Dance” and I’m in love already. Exactly the kind of jazz I tend to lean towards.

I recently applied for and got a transfer to a different department at work. Took almost a month between me putting in the application and getting the transfer. I leveled up, and it’s great! I’m wearing all the skirts I picked up at thrift shops, and a few of the sweaters, too. (I tend to buy cashmere and wool sweaters only–those are the great bargains). I can still wear jeans if I want, which I do sometimes. I’m finding I need to get shirts in a few different colors now that I care more about matching. I also need to iron on a regular basis. I wear my hair down a lot more often, too. (I still put it up when I eat). I’m liking this level, though it feels like I really should have done this 20 years ago. I know why I didn’t–I’d just married Kevin and the internet heyday of great paying support jobs were starting to fade away because everyone kept selling their companies instead of going bankrupt.

I also got a TV upgrade, even though it’s probably the oldest TV in this house, it’s still a great thing. Part of moving out of the room I was renting with my Sweetie meant that the old Chromecast box was up for grabs. I happily took that, because it means I can really use the streaming services I pay for. I haven’t turned on the TV that’s beamed in for a couple weeks. I also personalized the slide show on the Chromecast to show me things and people I love. Reminds me of a company I did product support for over 15 years ago–they were one of the first digital photo frame companies. But this is a lot easier!

I’m turning 45 in 8 days. How did I get to my mid-40’s? It doesn’t seem like that long ago that I turned 40. As Kevin died when I was 39, I’ve always been a 40-something widow. I’ve known my Sweetie for all of my 40’s thus far, too. It’s just how life turned out. I remember sometimes during my caregiving days (32-29) when I was just about to doze off, the phrase “40 years” popped into my mind. Back then, I hoped it meant that I’d have 40 years with Kevin. Only got 18. What are you gonna do?

OMG! ZAWINUL plays on the song Bitches Brew! The album did kind of have a Weather Report-ish feel to it. Yep, my kind of Jazz!

I love having a Miata. I also love driving stick again in a small car with almost 50/50 balance. I learned the lesson from my 20’s–you’ll kill the clutch if you use it as a brake–and shifting into neutral is delightful. My commute involves several hills, and I often coast down them whenever I can. It’s also fun to coast down on a notoriously congested piece of freeway when I come back down from visiting my Sweetie. If there’s no traffic, it’s fun, and if there is, it’s kind of like driving an automatic.

Drove part of the way home with the top down. That was fun, especially now that I have a new route home. Mine is a common commute that can include going past one or two very popular freeway entrances/exits, one of which is next to a Mall. I also pass by an area with a lot of schools, which means taking side streets isn’t really an option. Sure, I do go a little bit out of the way, but it means not having to deal with traffic and I get to drive some winding roads. (Yet another thing I tend to do in neutral. If I time things right, I end up shifting back into 3rd at the end of the turn.)

This whole “Plague 2020” thing is more amusing than alarming. I’m no conspiracy theorist, but this is just the kind of thing that takes advantage of human nature. The majority of people who get the virus live. Illness taps at people’s insecurities and causes them to freak out and start hoarding things. I just hope it makes people take health care more seriously during the election cycle.

Speaking of which, it’s very hard for me to watch politics on TV these days. I re-watch The West Wing instead. It’s comfort TV for me.

I recently got told that my Cholesterol is too high and my A1C is at the high end of the scale. I can’t do Keto. Kudos to those of you who can, but bread is a staple I know better than to give up entirely. I’m making some changes to my diet that I can live with. I’m eating more veggies for lunch, and I’ve taken to eating cereal on my first break. I’ve cut down on pasta and am opting for cauliflower crust on pizza. Next step is adding leafy greens to lunch. I just added cottage cheese to lunch, using the small Snoopy thermos I got like 35 years ago. The rest of my containers are glass, as I want to try to move away from heating up food in plastic containers.

Ok, well “side 1” of “Bitches Brew” is over, and I need to eat more.