Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Three-E-B and Me

The quote on the left is from Kryz Reid, Third Eye Blind guitarist -- and it's about ME & MY PEOPLE (!!), the "superfans". [screenshot courtesy of Renee Van Dyke, fellow superfan] We call ourselves by a few other names, but Kryz hits the nail on the head in his description of who we are and what about.

[[warning: lengthy post ahead -- but here's my story]]:

I know some of y'all think I've lost my marbles because I talk about the band & lyrics all the time, have #3eb decals in every place imaginable, and run off to shows every chance I get, among other things. But don't be fooled: it is so much more than the "band obsession" it might appear from the outside. A couple of people have asked me why I "suddenly" became this (proud) annoying, outspoken, card-carrying rabid Third Eye Blind fan. So, here it is: there is nothing sudden about this. #ThirdEyeBlind has been my favorite band for almost twenty years. That's TWO DECADES, y'all, so the cuts run deep. But my connection to them was personal and one-dimensional; I didn't know other people who felt it in their soul the way I do. Up until mid-last year, I'd only been to three shows, all of which were because they were playing locally. Because I struggle with anxiety and the thought of being solo in the crowd at a rock show intimidated me, for every show I'd been to (all 3 of them) I'd asked someone who I knew at least liked them, even if "Crystal Baller" was as far as their "fan-ship" went (love you, Pecota!), to accompany me. But I always felt a little guilty for "dragging" someone along to something I was WAY more into, and never 'let loose' because I was worried about them having a good time.

In March of 2015, that all changed; as a result, so did much of my life. A stranger messaged me on Twitter, suggesting/inviting me to join his Facebook group, "Third Eye Blind Misfits" (its namesake is a song title of theirs, for anyone who's ever wondered). I joined the group. I checked in every so often but didn't really try connecting with other members -- I was there for content and news. Out of the blue (had to throw in that album-name hybrid) and much to our surprise, the band announced they were releasing a new album in June, accompanied by a full tour (!!!) I bought my ticket for the Atlanta show in June, and that was that -- until one day I offhandedly posted something (for the first time) humorous in the group, and because of one tragically misguided soul's misunderstanding and subsequent reaction (good ol' Lanelle...shall we pour one out for her?), pandemonium broke out.

The sheer absurdity of it all was beyond hysterical, and I felt a bond with some of the group members afterwards as a result. Suddenly I felt a kinship with all these people who were there with me, watching this whole trainwreck go down. And it turned out that this Lanelle character didn't even realize she was in a group for 3eb fans--at least, she couldn't have been that much of a fan because she didn't pick up on any of the many references to their songs/lyrics that people were throwing out...adding fuel to the fire that she was only ever hers to begin with. It was LOL-ful.

Not long thereafter, I got a notification that I'd been added to a facebook group called "Misfits in Exile"...turns out, a select group of people had broken away from the riffraff of the open group and formed a smaller faction of people who were truly "here for the for the art of it all", as I like to say. Long story short: this intimate coterie of true-blue, deeper-than-bones Third Eye Blind fans soon became more of a family. We are so different from one another that most of us would never have crossed paths if it weren't for Third Eye Blind and what they, with their art and poetry and message, mean to us.

Last October, I leapt (not stepped--LEAPT) out of my comfort zone--at the encouragement of my wonderful, supportive partner, Sean--and headed up by myself to Nashville, where the group had organized a big "meetup weekend", the first of its kind for us, for the show at Vanderbilt. People flew and drove in from every corner of the country. Many of them had met at least a few others, but I hadn't met a single one until I got to the venue...and was inundated with greetings of excited hugs, by people who only recognized me from my photos on Facebook. At the show, I was able to let my 3eb-freak flag fly the way I'd always wanted to...because I was with a group of people who "got it", and, as it turns out, "got me".

Afterwards, we all headed to the farm Airbnb that Jacki had booked, and continued the party into the wee hours--a handful of them never even went to bed.

Since then, I've embarked alone on journeys as far as the opposite coast; to see 3eb and to be with all the friends I never knew were out there, waiting to find me and for me to find them. And I am SO glad that I did.

Thank you, Third Eye Blind. You mean more to me and have changed my life more than you will ever know.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Some Bickley Poetry: On Depression

I Have, I Can, I Will
Erin Bickley, 2016

Yes, this is depression. Yes, you are depressed.
Yes, hopelessness has returned.
Yes, sometimes death appears the solution, to stop the pain and the burn.
Yes, you are truly suffering.
Yes, you also feel nothing.
Yes, there's a light at the end of the tunnel.
Yes, there is an end to that tunnel.
Yes, it might be far away.
Yes, this is depression. Yes, you are depressed.
Yes, you will get through this.

Yesyou will have to move through it 
Step after step, one day at a time.
Yes, you will think, 
After days, weeks, or months: 
I wish that this life were not mine.
But when the fog lifts, 
And, yes, it will clear,
Pay attention
to how you got through this.
Yes, you will get through this.

You will
one day, 
feel 'normal' again.
You will 
stop feeling this hopeless.
You will
one day, 
feel like you're okay; 
But you'll live
With this diagnosis.

You will
 go through 
depression again.
Again and again, 
ad nauseum.
You will suffer 
through the same agony.
You will, 
once again, 
feel hopeless.
But, you will get through this.

Should all this wisdom
 elude you, 
When depression
comes back to meet you,
(and it will)
Should thoughts of death 
allure you 
When depression 
seeks to defeat you,
(and it will)
Take my wisdom,
take as much as you can,, 
as many times as you need to.
No need to learn this the hard way, 
Somebody learned it 
for you,
before you. 
I learned it 
the hard way
 before you
for you:

Yes, this is depression. Yes, I am depressed. 
Depression does not last forever. 
I will not feel like this forever.
I feel this way right now.
Right now I am in agony. 
It's excruciating right now.
It will not always 
hurt like this. 
I will not always 
hurt like this.
I cannot escape
evade or elude 
This illness they call:
But I know can
 endure what they call,
the 'Episodes'
of my Depression.
So I know will
 endure this Depression, 
because, have 
endured my Depression.
The proof is in the pudding, 
there's evidence on my side;
As long as I remember 
to keep this thought in mind:
I've done it before, 
I can do it again.
I've done it before, 
will do it,
I have felt what we call,
Which proves 
 feel happy. 
can feel happy, 
will feel happy...
when this Depression... 
should end. 
Yes, I have done it, so yes, I can do it, and yes, I will do it again.

Yes, this is depression. Yes, I am depressed.
I'm curled up,
I'm crying.
I wish I were dying.
I'm not even trying
to get up from lying
 on this cold bathroom floor.
But I will get up, 
Though my mind
 is a mess,
Since that's how I've coped
I buckle up,
I white-knuckle up;
Day after day after day. 
Every day when I wake up
I shower, put on makeup
And get ready to face up
My unavoidable chore.

It's painful, it's miserable, 
It's indescribable
But I know that I know 
how to swim,
For I have crossed this ocean,
Again, and again, and again. 
I've done it before; I can do it again.
I've done it before, will do it again.

E.B. 2016

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

[Tuesday Truth-Day] Helen Keller

"Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success is in the most trying times that our real character is shaped and revealed."

[Helen Keller]

Friday, January 1, 2016

To Begin: Begin. -William Wordsworth

I. What will be your biggest triumph in 2016?
Completing the second half of my weight loss journey, and reclaiming my body -- back to my normal weight -- by December 31st.

II. What advice can you give yourself for the coming year?
"Take care of yourself. Make the most out of the opportunities in front of you. When opportunities aren't handed to you, go create some for yourself. Life is the ultimate you better not blow it."

III. How will you best improve your finances?
This is one I really need to put a lot of myself into: planning, conscientiousness, and follow-through. Time to put the impulsive online shopping to an end. I've created and set up a Mint account, and I will use it consistently to monitor my budget and stay on track:
  1.  Sticking to my budget when shit gets real, i.e. I accidentally end up on Zulily. I know I should close out of it immediately, but I convince myself that I deserve a glance, seeing as I've been sober from my addiction to compulsive online shopping for months now... I've been sober for so long that it won't even be a temptation; I'm just gonna browse the site, just this once, I won't buy anything, one look can't hurt, can it? .....Fast forward to 2 hours later: I find myself, high as a kite off of "add to cart", strung out on several emails that include an "order summary". Because of my bender (and the ones that would inevitably follow), I am no longer able to afford rent, thereby getting evicted from my house and relegated to living in my car as I continue to attend graduate school, through which I accrue more and more debt due to student loans. See how quickly and easily an addiction can spiral out of control?
  2. Networking with people in my part of town, as well as reconnecting with former clients and tapping into their networks wherever possible, to make new connections with people who need frequent and/or occasional childcare. Book up my calendar, making it as full as possible by working whenever I don't have prior obligations.
  3. Taking on more bookings for photoshoots! I have all these messages from photographers wanting to shoot with me, and I, out of indifference, just haven't been up to it. I want to commit to more bookings and expanding my portfolio because the more I do so, the more experienced I'll be, the more shoots I'll book, and the higher rate I can set as my hourly.  

IV. What do you plan to complete in 2016?
A whole host of SECONDS:
1. My second year of grad school (May 2016).
2. The second half of my total weight loss goal (December 31, 2016).
3. My second round (then my 3rd, 4th, etc.) of the 21 Day Fix (started Round 2, Day 1 on January 5, 2016)
4. Meet Third Eye Blind for the second time (anywhere, anytime, as many times as possible, 365 days/year if I could). ;)

V. What new experiences would you like to try in 2016?
1. Picking up my old guitar -- which was a gift from my uncle when I was 10, and with which I took about 3 months of private lessons before quitting -- and giving it a real go. Even if I have to teach myself with YouTube videos. Actually, that's the only way I can feasibly do it; guitar lessons are definitely not in the budget!
2. NOT RELOCATING! -- with 2012 being the only exception, I have gone through a move every single year since 2005 (that's ten years -- and in college I had to move twice a year: move out of a residence at the end of spring semester, then back into a new residence in the fall), and it's a stressful, excruciating process. Most of the times I've moved, I've done so out of necessity, but this year there will be no necessary reason to do so -- and, more significantly, my goal is to not create a reason (or worse, a situation that makes it a necessity) to move.
3. Buddhism.

VI. What would you most like to change about yourself in 2016?
Slacking off, rather than working my ass off, just because it's easier to do so. 

VII. What are you hoping to learn in 2016?
1. Wherever I end up for practicum/internship, I have the opportunity to take advantage of the ocean of potential in front of me, so that I can become the best therapist I can possibly be.
2. To transition from a sense of obligation to a sense of enjoyment when it comes to exercise.
2. Better meditation skills. 

VIII. What big risk do you think you will take in 2016?
1. Continuing to put myself out there, with gusto and confidence. I've become increasingly courageous over the past 2 years when it comes to vulnerability, and it's a process I continue to tweak as I strive towards a sense of mastery thereof.  
2. Booking shoots that are more challenging than I'm used to, and that require more focus, energy, and talent--talent that I have, yet have been a little on the reserved side in terms of bringing it out, being proactive, and MYSELF being the one who sets the tone, mood, and energy of the shoot.

IX. What are you most committed to changing and improving in the new year?
1. My bad habit of canceling plans at the last minute and flaking out.
2. Taking Yogi on longer, more frequent walks.
3. Remembering to check myself before I wreck myself when I start to go into "It's All About Me"-mode.

X. What undeveloped talent you are willing to explore in 2016?
I'm great at getting organized...staying organized, on the other hand, needs a lot of work.

XI. Who would you like to get to know better in 2016?
My relatives. As an only child with a small-ish sized family in general, the "FAMILY FIRST" outlook, which I see in so many other people, has never been very prominent for me. I would like that to change.

XII. What brings you the most joy and how are you going to do or have more of that in 2016?
Spending time with true friends, who know and love me inside out--and I, them--just laughing until our stomach and facial muscles hurt. How will I do this? See IX.1 above. 

XIII. Who or what, other than yourself, are you most committed to loving and serving in 2016?
My parents.

IXX. What one word or phrase would you like to have as your theme in 2016?

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Saturday, December 26, 2015

If your brain was wired "differently" like mine, this is my message to you:

Even though I don't know you in person...I am your sister, your teammate, and your fellow soldier, fighting in a war that can never truly be won, to which we have been drafted. But I trust that the Universe knows what it is doing, even though most of the time we definitely don't understand the "why". When I look at the big picture, you and I -- along with the millions of others diagnosed with one or more mental illnesses -- are a fierce team of soldiers who must  seek to incite CHANGE in our world -- we have a duty to be the ADVOCATES, MOUTHPIECES, and even, for the boldest of the bold, the POSTERCHILDREN, who put ourselves out there to keep our motto alive:

End. The. Stigma.

Let us commit to making ourselves vulnerable, so that others may realize that they do not have to carry SHAME about having an invisible illness. I'm quite familiar with the DSM-V, and I believe "SHAME" is not part of the diagnostic criteria for ANY psychological/psychiatric disorder. And I will keep speaking up about this cause until we've won THAT battle, because the ability, courage, and insight to do so was GIFTED to me by an all-powerful Universe...and, again, I trust in its cosmic power. Just know that I am on the front lines with you. I am right next to you, comrade.

Though we are all soldiers, it is my belief that we are made into WARRIORS by way of what we must bravely face every single day. EVERY SINGLE DAY, we make the choice to keep fighting the good fight: to get out of bed and LIVE -- living WITH illnesses instead of IN SPITE OF them.

It is, however, is an invisible and lonely fight. We aren't revered, lauded, or credited when we report for duty. Although we share diagnostic "labels" with others, we are the only ones who live out our own experience with it. Therein lies the paradox: we are in the trenches together, yet we are each alone when facing the opposition. We can lean on our support system for encouragement, and this sometimes helps to dull some of the pain...but no one else can fight in our place. We are called as individuals to carry out our unique orders.

Such is the life of a warrior. We CAN be the captains of our own fate...should we choose -- and continue to choose -- to stand up to what stares us in the face. We mustn't turn away in fear, denial, or cowardice; doing so allows mental illness to become Brutus as we stand in the place of Caesar.

But we need not duck or hide, regardless; we are only the sick ones because we are the only ones strong enough to fight for our health...ourselves...and our lives.

Still strictly yours,

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

[Tuesday Truth-Day] : A Powerful Quote by Don Miguel Ruiz

"Don't take anything personally.
Nothing others do is because of you.
What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream.
When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others,
you won't be the victim of needless suffering."


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