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Brian Wilson, Barenaked Ladies, and Me

When I was a senior in college, I had a car. I’d loved driving ever since I got my license – driving around the county, the state. I had loved figuring out how to get somewhere I hadn’t been since I was six. And, as everyone knows, music always sounds best when you’re driving, at night, passing the exit for where you’re supposed to be.

Those nights, when I was a senior in college and when I wasn’t able to sleep, or when I was freaked out, or when I was trying to do everything I could think of to NOT think, I would get in my teal Taurus wagon and head away from my apartment. And as soon as I signaled for my first right, I’d get my copy of Gordon ready. By the time I passed the second-hand CD store, I’d be well into the first verse of “Brian Wilson,” by Barenaked Ladies. I’d had the CD since 1993, but this song became the song.

Drove downtown in the rain/ nine-thirty on a tuesday night,/ just to check out the late-night/ record shop.

I was able to let go, to relax as the song looped and I drove toward the Conservatory or downtown or past new construction. The heater would eventually turn on, or I’d open all of the windows and breathe in the cold. I had a rule at the time: If I drove through two stop signs or red lights, it was time to turn back and head home. Until then, drive and sing to “Brian Wilson:”

Call it impulsive, call it/ compulsive, call it insane;/ but when I’m surrounded I just/ can’t stop.

The song just… matched me. Me, and how I felt whenever I got in that car, and how I felt as I drove. It was right. It was true. It was real. And so everything that was going on in my head and my life must have been real, too. The singer seemed to feel the way I did, and he seemed to think that was what it was like to be Brian Wilson. He (the singer) was reaching out to identify with someone. I was, too.

This week I read on BP Magazine‘s Facebook page that Steven Page, writer of “Brian Wilson” and lead singer of the same, has bipolar disorder. BP had attached a link to an article on MetroCanada about Steven Page‘s talk at Algonquin College, which has created support systems for students and staff  with mental illness. (Read the article, the resources look great.)

The article stated that “being an artist makes it easier for him to talk about his struggles.” Being a listener helped me understand mine. Thank you, Steven Page.

How Do You Organize The Day?

What do you do to organize the day ahead? Write a list by hand? Type something in a computer program? Draw pictures? Remember it all outright?

I draw pictures. And all of the others above, except the remembering outright.

This is a recent packing list.


Loving BP Magazine!

I’m really loving BP Magazine. I found it in a Headache Institute office’s waiting room, and it was the best part of the appointment! They put out regular posts on Facebook: well-written pieces by people with Bipolar. The magazine had a great article on brain fog and the things readers do to cope with memory loss. I felt like I found my people! Check it out.


Stumping the Comedian


Yesterday I went to a movie screening of Sleepwalk with Me, and at the end there was a Q&A with the comedian, Mike Birbiglia, whose life it was based on, and I asked him how it felt, starting off in the beginning of the movie working as a bartender and taking the occasional spot on the stage – to now, watching the credits of his movie, listing all of those names under him.

What I expected was an “It feels awesome,” in his drawl. Instead, he seemed a bit surprised. He talked about directing, and harked back to his days in student government. My husband later said that I’d stumped the comedian.

When I asked the question, I guess what I meant was how exciting it was to have watched his career over the past few years, though not at the beginning, and how, once he told his own story, how he got the laughs and the appreciation and the understanding. And that’s where the success was. I was so glad to be there to cheer him on.

Like they say in the movie (more than in the book) About a Boy, no one is an island. Sometimes, things suck, and when we share the pain and find the humor, that’s when the personal and artistic success follow. All of those names on the credits were people who worked with him to make the movie. And all of us in the audience had lined up on the sidewalk, tickets in hand, eager to get into the theatre. We wanted to share it with him. It was a really awesome thing to watch.

I sing at work


What Makes Me Happy

  1. Hearing that Jason Mraz song, “I’m Yours” on the subway on the commute home.
  2. Exploring the city with my camera.
  3. Leaving the city for a day.
  4. My Mom and the rest of my family.
  5. A really excellent husband.
  6. Hope that “Once Upon A Time” will have some sort of happiness before the season ends.
  7. Starting – and finishing! – a creative project.Image
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