Pain and/or Suffering

From Wikipedia

traditionally meant the condition of having sensation (including the feeling of pain) blocked or temporarily taken away.

Current recipie: podcasts, shopping, sleep. It has not been entirely effective.

I am aggrieved it feels so necessary.

There is musical accompaniment to this post. 

When I was a senior in high school, our conductor elected to have our choir perform a particularly ambitious piece for our state championship tournament. It was so not only for it’s difficulty, which was acknowledged as generally well beyond the capacities of the average high school choir (which we were decidedly not) but also because the piece was quite new; it had been written within the previous several years and the conductor was still living. This chorale also included a solo of a particularly demanding sort; a soprano had to maintain one constant note throughout the entire piece. This tone had to be sung with great sensitivity to nuance and exacting control. More, the singer had to manage with one voice, through an entire chorus of seventy others not to overpower, but to pierce.

Dr Uphaus told me he had never even considered anyone else for the job.

And so we went to state. And we didn’t win. But, one of our adjudicators was Dr Bruce Brown who was at that time the musical director at Portland State University. He made a point to compliment us on the execution of such a challenging piece of music. He also told us that the composer Arvo Part* was coming to Portland with his choir to perform THE VERY SONG with the Portland State Choir at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, and should we so choose, we were welcome to join them.

So, I and a few of my cohorts decided that would be swell. We toddled on down to PSU for 3 or 4 practice sessions. On the first of these Dr Brown cast around the room and said

“Is the young lady that sang the solo for state here in the group?”

I raised my hand, slightly terrified.

“Oh, grand. None of my singers can quite manage it. You’ll help us practice, yes?”

Of course I would.

Over the next few practice sessions, I just naturally assumed that M. Part would be select one of his own singers to perform the coveted solo. It turned out, rather, that he had wanted to leave that honor to Dr Brown, his host. When he was preparing us the night before the performance, Dr Brown turned to me with complete aplomb and said

“And naturally Autumn will be managing the solo as usual.”

I was completely, utterly, and in every way paralyzed by this pronouncement. I had not prepared myself in any way for this possibility, and I was in a paroxysm of terror in anticipation of it. I sat there in my plastic chair for ten full minutes after the larger group had broken up and wandered away, gripping the sides till my knuckles were white and my breath came back, though in gasps. It had taken all of  my will and every bit of my strength to stand up at state, with my own dear choir at my back, and lift my voice to this purpose. To do so instead, with hundreds of strangers (most older than myself and some professionals at their trade) and no less than the composer of the piece to witness was beyond reckoning. For you see, I had near crippling stage fright. Don’t laugh, It is completely true.

And so. I had to approach Dr. Brown and tell him that though I was deeply honored by his confidence in me, I could not redeem his choice by accepting it. I was too scared, my voice would not rise as it should, and I would fail him. He tried his best to change my mind, but I refused his persistence and cried over my mortification. He let me go, expressing his deep regret, not only for the performance, but for me. He knew then, as I did not, how much I would eventually lament my choice. Someone else sang the solo. The show went on without me entirely. I couldn’t even bring myself to go, I was so ashamed.

And in many ways, I still am.

I am not a person who lives with many regrets. I fuck up, things go wrong, I learn from them and usually see these detours with some equanimity. This too, taught me something tremendously valuable; I am afraid and I might falter, but I forge ahead nevertheless. In truth, this has probably lead to more emotional pain than any other philosophy I subscribe to, but I do not ever find myself dwelling on how things might have gone, should my courage have not failed me.


*There needs to be an umlaut over that a, but I can’t figure it out.

There will come a time,

you’ll see, with no more tears.

And love will not break your heart,

but dismiss your fears.

Get over your hill and see

what you find there.

With grace in your heart

and flowers in your hair…

Mumford & Sons~

Just a little prayer, set to music. I am ready for this storm to be over.


But it is not my customary way. When I do, most often, my mouth fills with blood and then I must decide if I will spit it out, at last, or swallow and feel poisioned. Maybe I just need to practice more…


every tattoo i have is both for someone i love and a lesson i’ve carved into my skin.

appropriately, this one hurt much more than any other, as i love the person i had in mind much more than any other. also, the lesson is harder to remember. so.

didnt turn out like i planned.

first i kinda randomly…

hacked all my hair off

hacked all my hair off

went to seattle

saw an amazing sunset

saw an amazing sunset

then got smacked with the sick stick, like hard. i couldnt face the idea of an evening spent at the ER, so i’ll be going in the morning. but, generally, boo. episodes of gossip girl and chicken soup delivery nothwithstanding…

it turns out watching a personal trainer tell someone else how to do a particular exercise is not the same as having them explain it to you. what’s more, eavesdropping on the personal trainer isn’t going to encourage said trainer to come over and make sure you are doing the damn thing right.

so guess what?!?

first, let me describe this monster. i’ve seen a balance ball push up before. prop your feet up on the balance ball and push up from the ground as otherwise typical. these are tough enough on their own. they demand an additional engagement of core muscles and concentration to maintain balance on top of the strength required to make the push.

but this trainer had thrown in an extra piece of tough; a bosu balancer under the hands. i knew just looking at it, it’d be tough as hell, but make for all over firmness.

pop a balance ball under your ankles too; i dare you.

i managed to do a whopping 3 of these. and frankly, i was damn proud of myself for managing that. these were brutal, brutal, brutal. i wanted to do more, but have tried recently to keep from overextending myself. oh. ha.

and actually, i felt okay at first. it wasn’t until i got through the 2nd set of pullups that followed these double-balance-ball-demon-pushups that i realized something was terribly terribly wrong.

it is now 3 full days later, i’ve been to the chiropractor, and had a massage, and i am still sore. i still can’t tell for sure if it was the pushups, but they were the only really significant shift in my workout i made that day. whatever the case, i have been a bit of a gimp the last few days. i’m really hoping i’ll be less sore in the morning so’s i can go back to the gym and hurt myself some more tomorrow.

for anyone who suffers, there is no need to explain the misery associated. for anyone who doesn’t there is simply no way to convey how awful it is.

in my case, i suffer from something called a Hemiplegic Migraine. that means that right before the headache part comes on, one side of my body goes completely numb. it happens to be my left side, and the first time it happened i thought i was having a stroke. my grandfather and more than one uncle died young of cardiovascular disease and had strokes very early in life, so this was not so far-fetched as it might seem at first blush.

while the numbness itself does not cause undue discomfort, it does tend to send me into something of a panic knowing what it heralds. i have learned however to be grateful for it in that sometimes, on very lucky days, if i take medicine RIGHT when i go numb, it can forestall the onset of a full-blown migraine and just leave me with a low-grade but tolerably terrible headache.

the last time i had one, as i lay there with towel wrapped around my head for darkness, earplugs and fan for quiet, medicine not having done it’s magic,  i thought about all the various folk remedies that have been suggested down the years to try and prevent or treat migraine and thought it would be interesting and somewhat amusing to list a few…

Fresh Cut Green Apple: i got this one from my mother, who also suffers. she never gets to the super awful headache stage, but she does have the numbness part. she claims if you cut open a green apple and hold it close to your face and inhale the scent, it can help ward off the headache. migraine vs aromatherapy? i’m skeptical. i’ve never tried it. i don’t usually have green apples lying around, and cutting anything open when i’m pre-migraine seems like a bad idea since the temptation would likely be to plunge the knife into my own eye to put myself out of my misery. seems best to keep away from sharp objects…

Hot Feet, Cold Head: this one comes via my friend Stephanie who suffers migraines at least as frequently as i do, and suggested the medication that (sometimes) staves off the full-blown monster. She mentioned that putting your feet in hot water and an ice pack on your head helps contract the capillaries in your head while dialating them in your feet. it helps divert blood flow that would otherwise increase the intensity of the headache. i’ve had reasonable success with this tactic. though usually it just takes the edge off rather than curing it altogether.

Lean, Mean, Caffiene: this is a well-documented way to combat headache in general. the stimulant helps dilate those pesky contricted blood vessels and relieve the pressure causing the pain. of course, i am not a fan of most caffienated beverages and so this one has always been a bit tough on me. i’ve taken to keeping caffiene pills around for the purpose so i dont have to try to choke down a mocha when my head is pounding.

A More Unorthodox Approach: turns out the human body is itself quite a remarkable little pharmacological factory. and one of the substances the body produces that has both a pain-relieving and calming effect is a hormone called Oxytocin. this hormone is released during two related but distinct experiences: orgasm and direct nipple stimulation (as would be produced during breastfeeding). so. i heard somewhere there were studies (STUDIES!! it MUST BE TRUE!!) which indicated that oxytocin could be very effective in helping relieve migraine. and though the onset of a migraine is not exactly my idea of sexytime, i have tried this method and had excellent results. far better than any other remedy i’ve tried. suddenly  “honey i have a headache”  turns out to be a come on…

wondering if anyone else has any remedies that have worked for them over the years? i’m willing to try most anything (obviously) so if you have any suggestions, they would be most welcome!

my horoscope for this week will be right on the money:

After extensive analysis, I’ve concluded that you won’t serve any time in hell for the shock therapy you’ll unleash this week — with one caveat: The shock therapy must be motivated primarily by love, not a lust for power. My research also suggests that in dropping your bombshells you may even rack up some karmic credit, not karmic debt — if the things you destroy are truly beyond repair and certain to keep causing pain, and if you institute a plan for building a shiny new creation to replace what’s lost.

from FreeWill Astrology

here’s to a shiny new creation…

“This is the story of the boys who loved you
Who love you now and loved you then
And some were sweet, some were cold and snuffed you
And some just laid around in bed.

Some had crumbled you straight to your knees
Did it cruel, did it tenderly
Some had crawled their way into your heart
To rend your ventricles apart
This is the story of the boys who loved you
This is the story of your red right ankle.”

From Red Right Ankle Her Majesty The Decemberists

for i am feeling rent, and crumbled.

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