An Extensive List Of Things I've Done

Aug 1, 2012

Tomorrow, Will It Really Come? And If It Does Come, Will I Still Be Human?


I said yes.

After swallowing the first pill, I took a long, hard look in the mirror.  Then I popped some zits.  

I braced myself for a possible year of attempting to figure out the best synthetic seratonin enhancer that wouldn’t fuck with my head more, or make me gain weight, or not want to have sex, or get adult acne, or make me actually follow through with the plan that was not *really* a plan, but any day now it could have been one, maybe.

Two weeks later, I was picking up my prescription for a higher dosage of the same medication.  The past 14 days had proved to be inconsequential.  I felt better, I hadn’t had any thoughts, no negative side effects as of yet, so Doc set me up with a three-month prescription three days before my insurance ran out.  Thank you, Doctor!  

As of now, it’s been approximately 7 weeks I have been faithfully altering my brain chemistry with a pharmaceutical every morning.  I was almost morally against it for a long time.  My friend Michele said something that really helped get me over the summit:  “With eating right and exercise, you have this much wiggle room.” She stuck out her index fingers a couple of inches apart.  “With anti-depressants, you have this much.” The space between her fingers grew to a foot.  

It’s all well and good to have the intention to take WAY better care of yourself immediately, but it’s hard to look at mental illness as the cancer it is and really believe if you don’t turn your shit around, you’re gonna die.  Especially when it’s so easy to help yourself out with meds. I’m over the self-righteous “natural” mood lifting devices; I needed a fix.  I waited long enough.

Seven weeks.  And I am absolutely floating on Cloud Nine.  I mean, I’m not head-in-the-clouds, but it’s like... nothing is wrong right now.  I admit there is a subconscious defense mechanism that has me waiting for the other shoe to drop, but I mindfully pull myself back into the here and now and look at all that is happening to me that feels amazing.

I recently saw a picture on Facebook of a sandwich board outside some establishment and written in chalk was something to the effect of:  “Be grateful for what you have because yesterday it was what you wanted.” 

And I take a step back and look at my life right now:  I am living with a loving, supportive man who is open to me loving and supporting him through his speedbumps, we have an amazingly sweet and loyal dog, my cats are healthy (and not killers... yet), I have a roof to protect me from the rain, I have a luxurious bed, I have air conditioning, I have my days free now, I’m auditioning, I’m interacting with many different people each day, I have time to make art, and I have written these six entries, 2,881 words at this point, the most I have written in two sittings for a long, long time.  I have the creative partners I have wanted, I am surrounding myself with artists I admire and want to learn from, and I am creating the art that connects with me.  I am being me.  

I am effervescent with possibility.  I am rife with ideas.  My brain is shifting and relaxing and bathing in the shallow fluid by which it’s surrounded and doesn’t feel clenched tight like an adrenaline-filled fist.  Life is good right now.  And if something bad happens, which something bad will, I can only hope that I am able to handle it.  That is the last test. I hope I honor it properly when I encounter it. 
So, PHEW, I was gettin’ all Shakespeare or some shit in there.  “Honor?”  Someone call the Starks!  My point is, great things are a-brewin’, including this blog, but also including some other stuff I think you’ll love if you’re not into narcissistic confessionalism (see, I already said it was “narcissist,” so now you can’t because it’ll look like you’re making this big observation, but I’ll be all, I already SAID that, jerk!  So, just... nevermind).

My real point is... stay tuned.  I have a whole new brain now.  Who knows what will come out?

(I promised myself I wouldn't take 1000s of pics for the right one and would just post the first.)


Jul 30, 2012

Happiness Hit Her Like A Train On A Track



Once I got the job at Amsterdam, I knew my days of cheap health insurance were numbered.  

OH WAIT.  I forgot a very important part of the story.  I left the internet for a while.  I Tweeted and Facebooked less (and hello?  Crickets in this corner). I shied away from sharing anything. Because I discovered someone tattled on me for a couple of flip comments I made on Twitter about my place of employment (the second admittedly more alarming, but anyone that knows me knows it was a joke and this person knew me: the tattler relayed to my employer stuff about me that I have told few people).  I was reported to the office that deals with such reportings.  Twice!  The first time, I was lightly reprimanded and the second time a little more, but still left my bosses’ office laughing.  Both incidents he and I knew were ridiculous, though serious on some level.  Serious for my job and my well-being.  I have an idea who may have reported me, but no proof.  I shall just trust that karma does its magic if it is so warranted.  

Guh.  I felt a little like how Daniel Tosh might have been feeling a few weeks ago. No, not smug; gun-shy. Maybe. I don’t know his style. I left the internet and I wasn’t interacting much with others (no really, those are just “likes” on Facebook, not interactions), I pretty much ceased most Tweeting, and I hardly did any G-Chatting.  (Me, in 1990: “What in the Jesus Jones is she talking about?”)

I am social by nature.  I have a ton of friends, even though I’m not particularly close to many of them, I would help them out of a bind or connect them with a potential partner or collaborate with a grip of ‘em.  Sitting at a desk around only 1-5 people for 8.5 hours a day (desk lunch, HAYOO), 5 days a week has to be supplemented by my 1600 friends on Facebook and Twitter.  I postulate I just need the interaction.

So with my self-grounding from the internet, I was alone.  I live with my boyfriend, but there was a hole in me that he’s not big enough to fill.  He fills his hole very well though.  I don’t totally mean that to sound dirty, but, well, sometimes I’m predictable and cliche.  And I am okay with that.  But I do mean his hole in my soul.  (D’AWWW) But he can’t always make me LOL with 140-character quips in all caps.  

I started shelling up.  Well, more.  I had been shelling up for almost two years.  And now I felt like I was encased in a cocoon of Nobody Knows The Troubles I’ve Seen.  Finally, I went to a doctor.  I took an evaluation.  I was depressed for sure.  I know how I’m going to kill myself?  Okay, it’s progressed to orange on the self-terrorism alert advisory system.  “Let’s get you on anti-depressants,” the doctor who lets you call her by her first name said.  And after years of refusing to go that route because I knew, I just KNEW, I could solve myself through yoga or macrobiotics or meditation or just doing my art regularly... I said yes.

to be concluded...

Jul 27, 2012

There's A Party In My Head And No One Is Invited


But the whole time, and though gradually fading to the backgroun, I had those words streaming through my head.

And other words too.  There were many words fired in my direction that made me feel incapable, shameful, hopeless.  After a year of my subconscious sponging this up, I really believed a lot of it and sitting at my desk at my day job staring into the computer was as far out into the future I could see.  The thoughts returned.

And this time, I knew how.  I just knew how I would do it.  I won’t tell you because that’s not important.  Me, Courtney McLean, a person I know is seen as funny and happy and friendly (for the most part) from the outside, wanted to end her life because she felt like her life meant nothing.

OKAY, DRAMA.  Man, is it heavy in here, or is that just my diaper?  Sorry y’alls.  I mean, I’m not sorry.  Obvy, if you weren’t into this narcissistic dumping, you wouldn’t have read past Part One.  But let’s just have a break for a second.  Hmmm... Did I tell you my cat bit me and I went to the emergency room?  That’s not a perfect palette cleanser, but the bottom line is, I’m totally fine, so there you go.  

The cutest kitty ever
(What a little shit.)

How about that I am going to get to hang with my friend Emily from Iowa in a little less than an hour and she’s been lending me her sweet ride for a few days?  I’ve been blasting the EP of Fort Wilson Riot (mostly track 2), an awesome local band I saw the other day at my work (Did I mention there’s live music EVERY NIGHT?  I get to hear new local bands all the time.  I already bought 5 CDs in the month and a half I’ve been there, which is monumental for me.  I rarely buy new music these days.  BITCH-FLIP!).  And the performances lately have been curing people of cancer, I swear, we've been getting so many laughs.  


to be continued...

Jul 25, 2012

You Try The Best You Can, The Best You Can Is Good Enough


I know making the job transition was integral to this, pun intended, bitch-flip.  But another big part of it?  Pills.

Yessirs and ma’ams, yours truly is on anti-depressants.  I have been dodging this bullet since my first suicidal ideation episode when I was 22 and I threatened it on the phone to my mother.  Her reaction set me straight till a good 4 or so years later when the thoughts came back while I was painting a piece for my brother and his soon-to-be-wife. 

And that lasted a few years, in New York City, and I tried to work it out onstage as a stand-up comic.  It kinda worked, but again what brought me out of that was when I walked out of my day job at the time.  I just left.  And instantly, I felt free.  

So I had never felt the need for anti-depressants because eventually, one day, even if it was a handful of precious years later, I would feel better.

This time was different.  It started back in 2009 when I started a business relationship I instinctively knew was going to implode.  Oh, hindsight and your Lasik, totally covered by the Universe's awesome health planI didn’t quite trust my partners from the very first time I met them and I pushed that feeling down inside to ride the enthusiasm towards my idea that these people shared with me.  And it worked for a little while.  Until my psychology caught up with my physiology (I was experiencing a lot of fear and anxiety, pains in my chest, depression, and reluctance/resistance around the project and my partners), wherein I practiced different ways to end it and eventually found what I thought was the best way to say it.  And then I was berated via email for what I literally felt necessary to my survival to do. Yep, literally.

I can see the other side, I really can.  Break-ups are rarely easy.  But they’re always for the best.  Nevertheless, the previous year in such toxicity had taken its toll and I gave my power up to the words in aforementioned email about my needing mental help and that I’m a raging egomaniac.

I took the words as truth, deep down.  On the outside, I think I successfully portrayed that I knew they were projection.  But those judgments ate away at me because they were already there and I think the author knew that.  

So, I did the thing any well-meaning depressed artist would do.  I ran a 5K that December and started going to yoga regularly (even if it was just once a week) that January.  I practiced my banjo with a metronome. I continued performing my work from the project and eventually got new partners to grow the project in the direction I never realized I wanted that badly.   But the whole time, I had those words streaming through my head, erupting from my subconscious, as they sank lower into that ether, whenever I would have a moment of forward movement. 

to be continued...

Jul 23, 2012

One Pill Makes You Smaller...


Previously, on Mermaid Twang: 
Of course, the best fries in the Twin Cities are the one step back for my two steps forward, but they're SO "DAM" GOOD.  (See what I did there?)  Anyway, it's working.  

The main reason I quit my day job was to act more.  Yep.  I did that thing they all say not to do.  Well, those people just don't want the competition, IMHO (they are the ones that don't realize there's room at the top.  And the top is wherever you want it to be).  I have opened up my days for auditions and gigs and limited my nights of performance.  Kind of.  But this is good.  I feel it is promoting focus and discipline.  I’ve lived many years without either of those, so this may take a while.  But the proverbial ball has begun to roll. 

The awesome thing is, I’ve had three auditions in the past month and a half.  It’s not a lot, but after being called for three things in the past year before, it’s a step in the right direction.  

I also realized the other day that I have virtually no time to see my Mon-Fri 9-5 friends now.  It’s bittersweet.  I love those friends, some are my besties, but as a creative who has to create and an extrovert that wants to... extrovate?  Well, my louder, more obnoxious side is a bully.  And often shows up in my creative side’s output anyway. My free nights are taken currently by voiceover class or rehearsal.* So, I don’t have a lot of time for those friends now.  That’s the bitter. 

*(Rehearsal for WHAT you ask?  Why, for this:)

click the pic for all the lovey dovey wovey details.  

The sweet is that I have time to see the other friends I have missed because of day job/night creativity.  And that there are less of those friends, so I have more creative time.  And I’m totally a daytime creative person; I can rehearse and perform at night, of course, but writing and crafting happen with sun.  I love my friends, but my soul fuel contains a slightly greater percentage of making art.  Luckily, I get both consistently. Not as frequently as I should, but leisure time is a close third anyway.  

So here’s the gross part (but possibly "scandalous" confessional part):  I am infinitely happier.  A light has switched on inside. The me of yore that loved life and performing and writing and sharing has ceased scratching at the surface and is now poking her beak through the egg.  This is in no small part related to my change in money-making strategy.  I know making the job transition was integral to this, pun intended, bitch-flip.  

But another big part of it?  


to be continued...

Jul 18, 2012

My Feelings Can Again Be Best Summed Up In An Obscure Pop Song...


Well, hello, everyone!

It's been a while.  I always say that I'm not going to mention that I haven't written in a while, but I always mention it.  But I know all y'all have me in your fancy RSS Reader or whatever, so getting an entry from me is like a little surprise gift, isn't it?  ISN'T IT.

And now I'm going to make that oft-repeated blogger promise that I'm going to be blogging much more  now because I don't have a job where I *have* to be in front of a computer, hence whenever I'm in front of a computer now it's because I want to be.  But this promise can never be made because the proof will be in that puddin'.  That deliciously metal internet puddin'.  And in writing.

So, whatever.  We'll see when the next time is that I decide to update you on the lush life I'm leading as a performer/writer/whatever the fuck I want to do... and, a waitress.
(and drinking a fucking smoothie I made.)

Yes!  I am waiting tables again.  As a young lady who is going to be a whopping 35 years old in three weeks (a good 13 years older than the average age of a server I'm sure), my current day (night) job is shlepping Dutch-inspired bar food, strong gin cocktails, and fancy beers to the 21+ crowd in downtown St. Paul at a huge establishment called Amsterdam Bar & Hall.  By the by, you gotta read the high energy blog by my new Facebook buddy and co-worker, Brenda.  

I made the decision to quit my day job for many, many reasons.  One was that I was sick of sitting down for 8 hours a day.  I am a naturally energetic person (REALLY) and I felt that the four and a half years I had spent on my ass for half my life during that time had worn me down to the point that I had lost the Courtney of days of old.  Did I mention I'm pretty much middle-aged now?  Heh.  But seriously, my soul had been sucked out.  This wasn't because of my co-workers, who I had grown to love like family, or my boss, who is arguably one of the most supportive bosses I've ever had, most of the time.  It was just... being in front of a computer all day.  My interactions with nature have been much more frequent in the past two weeks since leaving that job.  

So anyway, I needed to be up and about.  I needed to be exercising, but the two days of yoga a week I was barely committing to wasn't cutting it.  I've put on about 20 pounds since moving to the land of cheese curds and meat raffles.  And I've lost 7 in the month and a half on my feet, running around in a very large amount of square-footage for 8+ hours, 4-5 days a week.  Of course, the best fries in the Twin Cities are the one step back for my two steps forward, but they're SO "DAM" GOOD.  (See what I did there?)  Anyway, it's working.  

To be continued...

May 1, 2012

You're A Good Man Albert Brown

XTC is my favorite band of all time.  Partially because they're an amazing group and partially because I'm lazy. I discovered XTC when I was 17.  I absorbed as much of their discography as I could, borrowing "English Settlement" on cassette from my "favorite ex-boyfriend David Sayers" (he will probably not ever not be known as my favorite ex-boyfriend, even though my actual favorite ex-boyfriend is now my current boyfriend.  If your mind has not yet exploded, please keep reading).  I borrowed "Rag & Bone Buffet" from the Yorba Linda Public Library.  "Looking for Footprints" turned my mind inside out.  "Take This Town" was the rally cry my suburban teenage soul called out for.  "Extrovert" was my fucking theme song.

A few years later, I somehow stumbled upon The Dukes of Stratosphear, which is just XTC under a different name (and a more psychedelic rock sound, less new wave punk turned folk rock... if that's how you would describe it.  I no longer purport to be a music expert).  I just saw this video for the first time and it's given me a whole new appreciation for the song, "You're A Good Man, Albert Brown."