Mrs. Thor

brilliant and neat

Seven Songs.

I have watched with no small amount of trepidation as my Facebook friends played the “7 songs in 7 days” challenge and tagged each other daily. “Don’t tag me, don’t tag me, don’t tag me,” I muttered.

But last night, my friend KK did tag me. I told her that I would try my best.

For as long as I can remember, music has been one of the only things I could really understand. I have issues. ADHD. Low self confidence. Depression. I struggle with social situations, depending on the day. I can’t always pay attention.

I missed a lot of real good conversations
But not for lack of time and place
My mouth participated but inside I was elsewhere
I was transfixed and drooling and lost in their face

-Kris Delmhorst, Janet the Pig

I can tell you exactly where I was, who I was with, that I was smoking, and that it was raining when I heard that song for the first time.

Music was and still is my language, my sanity, my peace. I can tell you the exact situation that led to me curled in a ball and playing Tori Amos’s cover of “Angie” on repeat for two days (stupid Dave). I can tell you the first time I ever heard The Weepies (live, Nashville, opening for The Indigo Girls, with Mandy, Katie, & Elizabeth) and that it was love at first strum. I can tell you pretty much the exact years I was into Snoop Dogg and Method Man and why (2000-2001, a boy, of course).

I can sing all of the melodies, harmonies, bgvs, guitar parts, and penny whistle parts from most of the Indigo Girls’ albums. I get choked with emotion when I listen to the Sublime album “40oz. to freedom.” I dance the same way every time I hear “Cold Beverage” by G. Love and Special Sauce (like an idiot). I haven’t broken or thrown anything in a rage in many years, thanks to the band Hole.

Is my favorite song the one that made me realize my friend Anthony really was dying? The one I found completely accidentally and listened to on repeat the week after his funeral? Is it one of my best friend’s songs, that I know by heart after singing for decades? Is it a Tom Petty song? Paul Simon? Is it the song I listen to when I’m elated or the song I listen to when I’m in the gutter? The song that I play before I sit down to write?

I have always said that songs are like children to me. I love them all the same but differently, and I can’t pick a favorite. I’m about to pick seven, for fun on Facebook. I’ll keep you posted.


The terror of a fresh start.

The blank page has never been an enemy to me. My whole life I have had so much to write that I wrote in notebooks until my hand cramped, and later I poured out dated journals in Word files, wrote long “treatise on life” e-mails to my best friend, blog posts baring myself to strangers.

I had everything to get out about everything.

Yesterday and today I sat down with the intent of doing my work – writing.

Staring into that blank page felt like looking down the barrel of a cannon. Nothing here, seems like, but man if something comes it might just tear me apart.

Someone, at the height of my blog, when I felt like things were really getting rolling for me, asked me a question. She asked, “but what’s the point of a blog? Why are you writing all of this about yourself, and putting it out on the internet for strangers to read?”

For two years I had no answer for her. My answer at the time was, “I don’t put my whole life out there. I am not an open book. I choose what to share, and I don’t share anything that I’d be ashamed to talk to about to your face.” Because that makes it seem like I am sensible, like I know what I am doing, like I am not some little weirdo putting all of my guts out into the world.

I let her little question become a cloud, and eventually it became solid cloud cover. But today I realized, even cloud cover goes away if a good stiff wind blows through.

That wind is going to have to be me, this time. I do this because I can. Because when I don’t know what to do, and I feel weird and bad, the clacking of keys soothes me. Because I feel like I am sitting down with a good friend and hashing out my life questions. Because, when I sit down with this blank post window, I never, ever know what’s going to come out until it’s there in front of me.

And because it’s mine. It’s my thing, and if there is one lesson I hope I learn soon, it’s that if you have a thing, you HAVE to do it. Life doesn’t work right if you don’t.

For a lot of my life, I have let self-doubt and general weirdness and depression keep me silent. I felt like life was in the way, I felt like my dreams were too big and too nutty, I felt like the person I was becoming didn’t actually have a place in the world, so I needed to knock it off and pick a different path. I’m letting that all go now, in case you were wondering. I’m starting over.


Today is the special occasion.


A dear friend of mine brought these cards back as a souvenir from London in early 2006. I have packed and moved this deck of cards four times. I have kept them, in their original box and cellophane wrapping, in or near my desk for at least the past 5 years – but I never opened them.


I was saving them. I am a saver. Or, hopefully, I used to be a saver. Cool things, stickers, nice candles, cards, pretty paper. I save them for an upcoming special occasion. What that special occasion is, I don’t know. I haven’t encountered a special occasion in all of these years that requires my London Underground playing cards.

Until today. The special occasion could be the new year, but not really. I have a vague intention of learning to play poker this year. Maybe I will, maybe I won’t. Mostly, the special occasion is this: I was cleaning out my desk and thought it seemed pretty ridiculous that I’ve been hoarding a souvenir for a special occasion.

I remembered that life is short. I remembered that today is a special occasion because it’s here. Now.

I want to use up everything. It’s not a resolution, exactly, but hopefully a new mindset. I have so many lovely things in my life that sit in storage containers, drawers, and cabinets – all waiting for their special occasion.

It’s today. It’s tomorrow. It’s the next day. It’s March 12. September 27. Any day you can think of. Every day.


My plan for 2016…and beyond.

I plan to stop believing that “I haven’t” translates to “I can’t.”

I plan to start living like I have my whole life ahead of me.

I plan to give my dreams weight and importance and make decisions with those dreams in mind.

I plan to write as often as I can.

I plan to practice radical self-care.

I plan to read library books.

I plan to look forward and only glance back once in awhile.

I plan to stop rehearsing old hurts. I plan to let it go.

I plan to teach myself about the history of my nation and other nations.

I plan to respect myself and my talents.

I plan to exercise, to work my way back to biking and yoga.

I plan to say I love you and mean it.

I plan to recognize happiness and acknowledge its healing power in my soul.

I plan to take every single compliment.

I plan to make my past my past.

a thousand tiny lines

FeatherFriday afternoon, I sat in a shop for four hours and got my first tattoo since 2006. It was my fourth tattoo. I knew it would hurt. I was surprised, however, that I was ready to stop immediately after the artist began. Right before he started, I said, “I’m nervous.” He looked me in the eye, smiled, and said, “Of course!” Like, why wouldn’t you be nervous?

Before this I got small-ish, black-only tattoos that took about an hour. This tattoo took just about 3.5 hours straight, no breaks.

At one point, I looked down after he finished the outline and I thought, “oh good, he’s almost done! That’s an hour and a half down, we should be done in no time.”

But, here’s the funny thing. I missed a bunch of stuff. When I handed the artist the photo I wanted on my body forever, I hadn’t noticed all of the complex lines and shading. When I looked down at that outline, I thought, “that looks about right.”

I was so wrong. Two grueling hours of shading and filling and coloring wrong. But I wasn’t struggling, not visibly. I wasn’t grimacing or crying or anything. Most of the time, I sat there with a smile on my face, zoning out to whatever music was playing, maybe humming along during the parts that hurt the worst.

I did cry at one point, but it was when I let myself consider that the artist had seen so much more than I did. I had a kind of a realization then – that’s his job, he’s the artist. He’s the one who will see what underpins the design and makes it something moving and inspiring. And I got emotional. I got choked up with gratitude that he approached his work with the intent of getting it right in that way.

I’ve always felt kind of weird about the way I notice every little detail of life. Inflections, expressions, tones, hidden meanings, even intent, in some cases. But I realized, sitting in that chair – that’s my job as an artist, as a writer. So I’m going to get back to work. I’m going to notice the details and fill them in no matter how much it hurts. Nobody sees the world with my perspective, and I’m going to do my best and then put my art out there in any way possible.

My gardening “failure”

Over the past few weeks, I have been watching facebook glumly as everyone else harvested and ate what they were growing in their gardens.

I was happy for them! I was.


I miscalculated how sunny the spot was where I planted my second garden bed.

Something got into my beds right after I planted – and rearranged the seeds that I had painstakingly gridded out on paper.

Beetles have made a feast of my dino kale, leaving me with nothing but skeletized stalks.

Something dug holes in my garden, costing me a cucumber plant, a tomato plant, a sage plant, and at least a dozen rainbow carrots.

For weeks it seemed like the only thing thriving was spaghetti squash…I mean really. It has taken over most of the bed it is in.

I mean, sure. We harvested and ate lettuce and spinach! But I told myself that didn’t really count. It’s easy. It’s just a leaf! No fruit of any kind.

Watching things grow from seeds is grueling. Watching something rearrange my carefully drawn garden grids was heart-wrenching… Because then I knew perfection was out of reach.

And we all know that that something is only worth doing if you can get it perfect the first time!

Oh…that’s right. Did I mention that this is my first garden? The first time I have planned and selected seeds and planned the soil mix and built beds with my husband and kept up with the watering and the weeding?

But I was so worried about perfection that I almost overlooked the awesomeness of the process. That on Memorial Day weekend, I had two boxes of dirt. And now I have two boxes of dirt with food and almost-food popping out of it. Blossoms everywhere.

Today, I wandered out to judge myself a little more while Eric watered the garden. Imagine my surprise when I was practically accosted by beans! They were everywhere. I started picking them as fast as I could, muttering, “I can’t believe it! We did it. We really did it!”

And you know what? It was really satisfying. And I had to stop myself from saying it didn’t count because it wasn’t a tomato or a cucumber.

Because even if nothing bears fruit, it’s worth it for the practice. For the discipline and the quiet satisfaction of doing the nightly watering, of digging fingers in the dirt, of watching the sun in the sky. It’s worth it to try something new, even when you don’t know what the heck you’re doing.


What I should be doing.

I’m not even going to check the date of the last post here. Because what matters, beyond the guilt for not writing anything at all (except Facebook statuses) for month after month?

Right here, right now, I am doing what I should be doing. I am avoiding my phone and the Facebook neck cramp that sometimes comes with too much scrolling, too much input. I am opening my MacBook and heeding some advice I received from a friend and hero…something along the lines of, “Writers write. Period.”

So I have been wrestling with this idea lately. And by lately I mean for like a year or two. Am I even a writer? I don’t write often. I don’t feel like I have ideas, ever. I occasionally have a strong opinion about something, but it floats in casually, and floats out on my next breath. If I get worked up over something, it might be something at work. Today I actually laughed when a disgruntled consumer sent me an e-mail recommending that I “go and suck donkey balls.” My only regret was that I couldn’t reply to his clever suggestion… have to stick to the scripts, you know.

But what makes someone a writer, really? Of course, writing. But maybe believing that it’s possible, too.

When I was in my senior year of high school, I had a weird downward slide and I stopped doing homework in the middle of the marking period. Before that, in my creative writing class, I was earning more than 100% on everything I turned in. After my little slide, my creative writing teacher and I used to actually get into yelling matches in the hallway over the assignments I wasn’t turning in. I didn’t care. I just wrote him off as an ass and completed my little slide, undoing a lot of my GPA in a few months. I limped through community college after that. One day while I was still in college, I ran into my old creative writing teacher on my way into the mall. I was embarrassed; he acted like nothing was wrong and just asked me what I was doing and what my plans were. I informed him that I was going to be a writer. That was my career goal at 19.

He stepped back and gave me an assessing gaze. I bristled, so sure we were about to fight again like we had in high school. Instead, he said something along the lines of, “I think you will. You’ve got the moxie to do it.”

I swear. Those few words haunt me. One time, one person believed that I had what it took to write – to really write. I had a few more encouraging words over time from professors and poets, but none struck me quite like those. Because “moxie” was never a word I would put with myself. I have always just kind of… existed. Floated along.

Today I have been thinking about this. Thinking about moxie. Thinking about how to make a life I want. Thinking about how to get to a place where, when someone tells me to go and suck donkey balls, it’s not because they didn’t like the pre-approved scripted response I sent them, but because they didn’t like something I made with my own two hands.

Something I wrote.

now... with moxie!

The thing about blooming late.

I have always considered myself a late bloomer.

I didn’t finish my BA right after high school. I earned my AA, then worked shifts for 5 years, then went back to school and polished off my BA with a 4.0.

I didn’t date, ever. I never had a boyfriend. Never once did one of those guys I had a crush on have a crush on me too. Until I met my husband.

The list could go on. Money, accomplishments, some things that I still haven’t done and feel like I should have.

Here’s the thing, though. I feel like, every time I get something good in my life, especially things I feel like I’ve been waiting on for years? I am relieved that I didn’t get it sooner. Blooming late isn’t always about you failing, sometimes it’s about you preparing. If you’re not ready in character and spirit and even in geographic location, the things that come to you might not have anywhere to land. Of they might touch down and then slip away.

And you really want your good things to stick.

So take heart, late bloomers. You’re not failing. You’re preparing. Good job!


So, the MRI results were totally normal. No worries, my head is fine. Strictly by medical standards.

ha. hahaha. Oh man. My head is so not fine.

Not much else going on. Just kicking back in my corner office –er, office corner at home. I always forget how nice I can make it feel if I light a few candles and turn off the lights. It’s very relaxing over here. I’m sure the wine is helping.

I’m trying to get myself writing again, which explains why I’m sitting here writing a whole lot of nothing. I often avoid sitting down to write because I don’t have anything on my mind or I think I don’t have a good way to say what might be on my mind. The problem with that approach is that I never, and I mean never, write. So, I’m not writing much now, but at least words are coming out of my brain and turning into type.

It’s a start.

About the MRI

Let’s ignore my massive absence from the blog and dive right in to a story.

I’ve always suffered from headaches that I considered above and beyond the normal amount of headaches. I took so much Extra Strength Tylenol as a teenager that it pretty much does nothing for me now. Aleve? ha, ha, ha. It does nothing for me. Ibuprofen, 600 mg is the minimum dose. Or one Advil Cold and Sinus. Or two Extra Strength Excedrin or two Excedrin Migraine. And, honestly – sometimes those things work and sometimes they don’t.

I always thought these were sinus headaches, mostly because I sneeze and blow my nose way more often than other people. I thought my sinuses were just broken.

I have had a handful of headaches I would call migraines. OK, a large handful. Usually when these happen, it’s like this: first thing in the morning I wake up with a throbbing face, an urge to puke, and a feeling like my eyelids are permanently closed and it’s better that way. Whenever that happened to me, I would take 4 ibuprofen, drink a ton of water, call in to work, and get back under the covers. After a few hours in a dark room, I would wake up feeling OK but weak and shaky – with what I call a headache hangover.

The usual headache is just something that starts sometime during the day, throbs in my forehead until my face feels like it might pop off, and then moves to my neck as well. Sometimes it goes away with drugs and sometimes I have it all day.

Lately, the headaches are intensifying. I am getting them almost daily at this point. Also, the pain is more sharp that the previous headache – like these headaches have teeth, where the previous headaches were just… there.

So, my husband begged me to bring it up with the doc at my next appointment. So I did, and my doctor informed me that I was describing migraines to him, and since I was actually getting one on the spot he gave me a dose of Imitrex, and I was disoriented enough after resting in the exam room for 30 minutes that I didn’t notice he had ordered an MRI for me.

I showed up for the MRI today not sure what to expect. I wasn’t expecting to walk out the back door of the doctor’s office to a mobile MRI trailer. I read a little about the process, so I was expecting it to be loud. I didn’t expect to panic. I am not really claustrophobic. I don’t enjoy tight spaces, but who does? Getting stuck in an elevator isn’t my worst nightmare but it’s on the top 20 list. Not that I have a top 20 list of worst nightmare things. Well, I am definitely terrified of being eaten by a shark or burning alive. But the stuck in an elevator thing ranks significantly below those fears.

So, imagine my surprise! I was absolutely shocked when I had my head locked in and my headphones on and the bench slid me in to the tube and it was rightthere. So close. And I just panicked. I freaked the eff out, as the kids say. I started breathing heavily and I cursed my self from 30 seconds ago who had asked the woman how long this was going to take, and so I knew, it was going to be 15 minutes of me in the tube with my eyes closed on that hard little bench trying in vain to get my breathing under control and STAY STILL. The things I said in my head. “It’s just like being in a tanning bed,” I told myself. Except I never actually went in a tanning bed in my tanning days! I always went in a booth because it was much less like a coffin!

“Can I swallow? What if I don’t swallow because I don’t want to move but then saliva builds up at the back of my throat and I start choking? Will I cough? Will I have the presence of mind to squeeze the squeeze ball? Stop panicking, you’re breathing heavily and that’s going to make you move and you have to STAY STILL. What if I really do have something metal in my body somewhere but I just didn’t know about it? My face is pulling away from my skull, why is my face pulling away from my skull? Stop it, Amy. Stop it. If you were going to die in here you would have died immediately. I have to calm down. Breathe. Breathe. I know, I will think about a song I love. Rosalie McFall. Out on a lonely hillside, dum dum, dum dum dum dum… oh wow this is really loud. I have a headache now. Isn’t it weird that I have to get a freakishly loud test to figure out my headaches? Oh, that part is weird, it sounds kind of like someone is wailing on an electric guitar. Out on…. the lonely hillside, in a cabin…oh, ok, ok, ok. I’m panicking. Breathe. Not too hard, you’ll move. I need to swallow again but I can’t remember what I decided about swallowing. Maybe I will just open my eyes really quick because it can’t be as bad as I remember. No, that’s a dumb idea. It’s probably WORSE that I remember because I shut them immediately and I will just squeeze this ball thing and start flailing and screaming LET ME OUT OF THIS DEATH TUBE. I need to calm down. Out on… the lonely… OK. OK. OK. IS that a fire alarm? Because it’s really loud and wail-y. No, no, ok, that’s just the machine. OK. Out on the lonely hillside, in a cabin-is this messing with my brain because this is one of my favorite songs and I just can’t even make it to the second line. The lady just told me that I moved. I did not move! Oh God, maybe I swallowed. I must have swallowed. They’re going to have to do this whole thing over again. I can’t make it. I can’t do it.”

It turns out that I didn’t actually move, but my BRA STRAPS were interfering. So they had to pull me out, and shove my bra straps down my arms, and then they told me seven more minutes and I wondered if they ever had to put people under for MRIs because I was seriously questioning my ability to last another seven minutes.

When they finally pulled me out, my back was stiff and it took me a few minutes to be able to stand and I was way out of it. And I had a massive, no-good headache.

So obviously I don’t know anything yet – well except that now the next time I need to get an MRI I won’t just bumble casually in there not knowing to expect. I will be able to get myself nice and freaked out about it beforehand. Maybe I will even practice Rosalie McFall, so it’s right there on the tip of my tongue.


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