2017 has not exactly been a banner year in m- and d-ental health for me.
It kind of starts with flossing. My teeth have actually been getting a bit more and more sensitive, as you might expect from someone who has always brushed regularly and aggressively. I found a dentist in NYC and went in February of this year and the hygienists were actually very insistent about needing to floss more. So I started flossing and using mouthwash, and guess what? After a time, it stopped hurting a bit.
By now I bet you’re wondering: what did I just read? Was it just a lesson about the importance, not only of flossing, but about doing the things that you know will make you feel better, even though they are hard to start doing? Well, sort of. But really what you just read was the anecdote that I have been planning to write about since it happened, in February. I’ve been writing and rewriting it in my head for almost a year, and now that it’s written down, it’s not actually as cool or as profound as I thought it was.
That happens a lot. Until this year I’ve always thought of my “writing process” as a strength, a sign of an active imagination. However I have come to see it as a sign of something else; not a weakness, per se, but at times a hindrance. I used to call it “worrying.” My therapist calls it “rumination.” Pop culture just calls it “anxiety.”
I’ve been “worried” a lot in 2017 – about everything at some point or another. The irony that my one resolution for 2017 was to not worry is not lost on me, and indeed is something I think about often. I spend a lot of time thinking about times in my life when I didn’t feel this way, when (in my memory at least) I felt an deep inner peace that I can never quite achieve anymore. The truth of course, which I am still realizing in therapy sessions and late-night talks with Miranda, is that I don’t think I will ever feel the way that I am searching for again. Not that I won’t ever feel peace exactly, but I won’t know it when I am feeling it, because I am not very good (but improving!) at processing my own feelings.
Earlier this month I was fortunate enough to travel back to Minnesota to visit my family. I also took the opportunity to drive my old car – a luxury I am no longer afforded in New York. On one of these drives I realized that I was completely alone, and no one could hear me. So I screamed “MURDER” along to the Replacements’ Heyday, the opener from their recently-released Live at Maxwell’s album. It felt good. Peaceful.
With that in mind, here is my annual 2017 playlist. Three of these songs (Aloha Steve & Danno, Raised in the City [Demo], and Tule’s Blues) are songs that I associate very strongly with extremely anxious times this year. The collection is best listened to either on a subway, with your eyes closed, or at full volume while you’re trying to get work done in an open office.
2017 Transitions, pt. 1 (Spotify)
- Aloha Steve & Danno – Radio Birdman
- Raised In The City [Live, 1980 – Demo] – The Replacements
- Lake Shore Drive – Aliotta Haynes Jeremiah
- Sweet Blindness – Laura Nyro
- Tule’s Blues – Warren Zevon (from Preludes)
- Please Tell My Brother – Golden Smog
- One Time One Night – Los Lobos
- Evil Ways – Santana
- When I Grow Up – Mathilda the Musical Original Cast
- I Never Want To See You Again – Quasi
- Doctor Worm – They Might Be Giants
- Hoover Dam – Sugar
- If I Had My Time Again – Groundhog Day Original Cast
- May Fly – Terry Reid
- Gloria: In Excelsis Deo – Patti Smith
- God Damn Job – Live at Maxwell’s – The Replacements
Finally, as a reward for making it this far, and because I heard from someone who actually really enjoys these collections (thanks Cody!) here is a playlist assembled from my rose-tinted reminiscences of 2015: Memories of 2015.