Misophonia

By | January 30, 2020

After all these years, I have an explanation for why I absolutely can’t stand listening to someone eat an apple.

It’s misophonia — and apparently the loathing of hearing someone eat an apple is one of the most common expressions of the syndrome.

Not all crunching sounds drive me up a wall. There’s just something about the crunch and rasp of an apple being eaten that that makes me want to run away, scream, etcetera. With every bite, I have a corresponding flinch and grimace. Or at least I used to — I’ve gotten much better about keeping the distress on the inside and not showing it.

In any event, apparently I’m one of the last people on the planet to have encountered this concept… There’re GAZILLIONS of articles on the Web on the subject.

For example: https://www.bbc.com/news/stories-46193709

Fortunately, I have it at a mild level. There are people who fly into a rage when they are forced to hear certain sounds. The pain is just that severe.

Apples are definitely my b√™te noire, but are by no means the only thing that gets on my nerves. I hate being stuck in a roomful of people eating too. Especially if it’s a confined conference room or other otherwise quiet space — there’s nothing to mask or drown out all the slurping and chomping and gulping and rustling of wrappers and everything else that goes along with it.

I just about always skip lunch when I’m working; I’m often onsite at a corporate office and I typically just keep on working during a lunch break during a day-long meeting. If the people I am meeting with go somewhere else to eat, I’m happy. If they bring the food back to the room I’m in, I am, um, on edge.

The sound of a bunch of people who went out and brought lunch back and are smacking and slurping and chewing through it drives me up a wall. I sit there with a blank half-smile on my face, evidently without a care in the world… but if I can find an excuse to go run an errand or go to another room and “check messages” or something, I do. I don’t mind eating in a restaurant where there’s enough background noise that I’m not forced to listen to every munch, crunch, slobber and slurp. It’s not bad when it’s just me and Carole either. What makes the Conference Room Lunch Break Torture so horrible is that there’s absolutely nothing to drown it out; conference rooms are quiet places and so for the half hour or so it takes to get people fed you basically hear nothing BUT

SLURRRRRRP
CHOMP CHOMP
CRUNNNNCH
SLURRRRRRRP
rustle rustle of sandwich wrapper
{lather rinse repeat}

Again… I can control my outward reaction. I don’t sit there shaking with rage or anything. But inside, behind the cool, relaxed exterior, there’s a Jay that’s going “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH.” ūüôā

 

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Salsa

By | October 19, 2019

We planted lots of chile and bell peppers in every color and size and degree of hotness (well, just about) and chopped them all up into a¬†container of, well, chile hash — which we then used today to make 12 quarts of salsa.

Ideally, we’d have used homegrown tomatoes as well, but we didn’t focus on paste tomatoes in our garden — mostly, we got zillions of cherry and currant tomatoes and a few other varieties, but not enough. Instead, we bought nine large containers of roma tomatoes from Costco, added a lot of sweet onion, green onion, cilantro, and garlic — and then got down to the serious business of boiling it all up and canning.

Jay very carefully used me as a barometer to know how much chopped chile to add to the salsa; he added a bit at a time and stirred and had me taste and so on until I said “that’s probably enough, definitely don’t add any more.”

We don’t do this sort of thing as a rule — it’s been years since we did any serious gardening, but as the photos show, this year we got into raised plants and container gardens in a big way.

Next year, having learned what worked well and what didn’t work, we’ll probably grow fewer varieties of tomatoes and more of the specific kinds we really liked. As for the chiles — well, who knows what Jay will do next year? (Answer: not even Jay.)

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More on “Orchestrating Change”

By | October 16, 2019

In re¬†Hey, I Was In A Movie!, there was a nice story on Me2/Orchestra and the “Orchestrating Change” documentary on WGBH last night.

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Hey, I Was In A Movie!

By | October 15, 2019

So: I’m a featured subject in a just-released documentary film.

For reals.

The documentary is titled “Orchestrating Change” and is all about Me2/Orchestra, the orchestra I’ve been playing French horn in since 2011. Me2/Orchestra was founded to raise awareness and fight stigma about the realities of mental illness. The members of the orchestra run the gamut of conditions — bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, autism spectrum, anxiety, and everything in between — but you don‚Äôt have to have mental illness to be a member. The orchestra is specifically “for individuals with mental illnesses and the people who support them” — so anyone who plays an instrument can join it. We form a model organization, in which people with and without mental illnesses work together in an environment of acceptance and mutual support.

Emmy-award-winning creators Barbara Multer-Wellin and Margie Friedman heard about Me2/Orchestra a few years ago and immediately realized that this group of amazing people would make for an equally amazing documentary. They spent several months (spread across about two years) visiting Burlington and Boston, spending time with the members of Me2/Orchestra Burlington and the newer Me2/Orchestra Boston — then went back to Los Angeles to do the hard work of compiling all the stories and pain and accomplishment into one incredible documentary.

It was screened here in Burlington at Main Street Landing Performing Arts Center the evening of October 12 and then was screened repeatedly in Boston over the following days. As one of the featured participants in the film, I was asked to be part of a roundtable discussion after the showing, along with the other featured members of Me2/Orchestra Burlington.

I wish I could share the whole movie with everyone I know because it really is a phenomenal, outstanding picture. In my opinion, it really tells the story of Me2/Orchestra in the way that we hoped it would be told — revealing the members as musicians, friends, people —¬†showing that those who suffer from mental illness can still have prodigious talent and creativity. Since it’s not yet in wide release (they’re still working on that), I can point you to the website for Orchestrating Change, the film, which has a lot of nice resources including a few short scenes from the film and a printable discussion guide. There’s also a nice article in the Boston Globe that’s worth a look.

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Green Mountain Horn Club performance in North Hero

By | August 10, 2019

The Green Mountain Horn Club has been a thing here in Vermont for several decades, changing in membership over the years but always managing to come together every few months to put on fun French Horn-only performances for our legions of admiring fans.

We did a performance recently in North Hero, Vermont at a little roadside venue called Island Arts (North Hero is one of the town-sized islands in northern Lake Champlain). We had assistance from a piccolo player (for the “Stars and Stripes Forever”) and several drummers from the talented pool of Vermont percussion players. Four of our horn players also brought their Wagner tubas — brass instruments that look like skinny, stretched-out French horns — to use for three numbers. It was a fun evening and I’m grateful to our legendary conductor and organizer, Charles Mayhood, for putting the whole thing together.

Jay sat on a blanket in front of the band and did his best to film the performance on his cell phone, but predictably had a few “oops”-es along the way. Fortunately, a cameraman from Lake Champlain Access Television was also present, to film the performance for later broadcast, and just the other day the video went up on their website. Enjoy.

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Bear

By | July 9, 2019

Bear on my front porch this morning.

Yes, you’re supposed to take your bird feeders in during the spring so as not to attract bears coming out of hibernation. We’ve actually only had ours out for the last month or so.

Our reaction to the bear coming onto our porch today was “Hey, dammit, it’s JULY. Get lost. You’ve been awake for weeks.”

Parenthetically, it’s not illegal per se to have birdfeeders in Vermont. It’s generally accepted that you take them in at the end of the winter before bears wake from hibernation… but a lot of people put them back out again once late spring or early summer comes.

We checked the law, and the law says “it’s illegal to knowingly feed bears” — https://legislature.vermont.gov/statutes/section/10/113/04827a — and so that more or less translates to “if you know bears are raiding your birdfeeders, it’s illegal to leave them out.”

So, yeah, we’ll be taking them in until winter. It’s a pity, because our cats absolutely love watching the birds, but the law is there for a reason. You don’t want to train the local bear population to see human habitations as places to get a snack.

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2019 ACDA “Gather at the River” Conference

By | July 2, 2019

I took part in the 2019 “Gather at the River” choral conference hosted by the Vermont chapter of the ACDA (American Choral Directors Association) this past weekend at Harwood Union High School in Duxbury (quack) Vermont.

I was part of the Hawaiian music “chamber choir” in addition to singing in the massed choir. I really liked the Hawaiian music we sang, and I got permission from our director, Jace Saplan of the University of Hawaii – Manoa choral program, to share the videos of our performance with you. (For more about Jace, see this article.)

(Jay was sitting in the audience recording and stopped recording at the end of the three-section Hawai’i Island Suite, not realizing we had a fourth piece — ‘Oiwi E — that we were about to do — but he turned recording back on as soon as he realized what was about to happen.)

We (the massed conference choir) also performed “Dona Nobis Pacem” by Ralph Vaughn Williams. We had two wonderful soloists and a great all around choir and I was more than happy to just be a member and enjoy being part of such a terrific group.

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Duluth

By | July 2, 2019

When I was 14 my father paid a doctor $250 to sedate me heavily and then had me shipped via air freight to a museum in Duluth, MN. The awkward part was, of course, that the shipping company disregarded the “THIS END UP” on the box and transported me with my head down and my feet up. When I arrived, I kinda looked like the old Dick Tracy comic strip¬†villain “Flat Top”.

When I woke up five days later (heavy sedation, as I said) I found myself posed in a diorama of “Early Man” dressed in a funky-smelling fur, holding a spear, posed as though fighting off a local smilodon. At least, that’s what the placard in the exhibit said the thing was — my theory is that it was the local bartender’s big-ass tomcat, Sparky, also heavily sedated (if not worse). Cats can get to be pretty big in that part of Minnesota.

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Final fundraising push for the 2019 Twin Cities Susan G Komen 3-Day

By | June 27, 2019

Dear reader, we’ve made major strides against breast cancer mortality in the last ten years, but there’s still so much work left to do.

It costs money to treat patients, conduct clinical trials, detect tumors, and educate at-risk populations. Donations from my friends, family, and co-workers have helped more than one might realize — the Komen foundation has been at the front of most major advances in the war against cancer in the last decade, and it’s because of people like you that we’ve come this far.

Jay and I are signed up to walk in a month and a half in the 2019 Twin Cities Susan G. Komen 3-Day. In order to walk, I have to raise a minimum of $2,300. Right now, I’m at $1,408 — so I’m just shy of $700 to go.

You can donate to Komen and sponsor me here: http://www.the3day.org/goto/carole

All dollars raised through from now until July 8 will directly fund the national Komen Treatment Assistance Program. Join the challenge today and help us make breast cancer treatment accessible for more people across the country.

I would be really, really, really,¬†really¬†grateful if you could and would sponsor me again this year. If you’re so disposed, you can donate by going to http://www.the3day.org/goto/carole¬†— that link will take you directly to my fundraising page where you can donate and get a receipt for your taxes.

Thank you so much, everyone!

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In memory of their sacrifice: June 6, 1944

By | June 6, 2019

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