Addiction and the Soul-Hole

29 06 2012

By Julia Indigo/@juliaindigo

 

What is the cause of addiction? Bucket loads of research have been done to answer that question. Some think it’s genetic – alcoholism runs in families, for instance – but co-dependency and learned behavior happen in families as well. In many addictions there is a substance that ‘hooks’ the user: nicotine, alcohol, cocaine, heroin, while in others the ‘fix’ is a compulsive behavior: gambling addiction, binging/purging, sexual compulsion. In either case, it appears that there is a change in the function of the brain.

Some addictions have met with approval in some circles: workaholism, smoking in the 1950s (think of the Classic Movie channel), and sexual crimes (think the gang bang as a gang initiation). All that has changed in the past 50 or so years, with increasingly restrictive laws governing public smoking, DWI and DUI, and drug incarceration.

More interesting to me is the emerging brain science concerning behavioral addiction/compulsion. In an article posted on November 20, 2011, Hilarie Cash writes:

When we enjoy playing video games or get caught up in gambling, we experience a similar euphoria. These highs are not something to be worried about, in moderation. The addiction begins to take hold, however, when we do it too much. Then the brain is forced to withdraw neuro-receptors in an effort to restore balance. This is what we call tolerance, and we no longer get the high from the same level of activity or drug use. Now, we need more. And if we go without, we go into withdrawal. In the case of behavioral addictions, that withdrawal involves primarily psychological symptoms (irritability, restlessness, poor concentration, increased anxiety and depression, etc).

In this article from June 2011, Alexandra Katehakis writes:

Both Robert and Clarissa suffered emotional deprivation in childhood. Both have developed rituals to mask the wounds that never healed. While their motivation and end result–despair–are the same, their acting-out blueprints are different.

Clarissa’s compulsions are more indicative of a love addict. Her interactive style is labile, with a come-here/go-away emotional charge that is echoed in her chaotic relationships. Clarissa’s “drug” of choice is less about sex than about a particular romantic experience.

A classic sex addict, Robert is more attached to specific sex acts and sexual encounters than to people. His style of relating is detached, aloof, and avoidant–thus his preference for nameless, interchangeable sex partners.

 


I believe that one key to addictive behavior is childhood emotional deprivation. In my protagonist Steven’s case, a series of emotional wounds in childhood and again in later life led to a separation from his essential self. His addictive behaviors serve to mask a deep inner discomfort – he describes it as ‘an itch that can’t be scratched’ – and as long as he returns to his compulsive behavior, that itch will not be healed.

While he is truly addicted to nicotine (and later, alcohol), his sexual acting-out becomes a behavioral compulsion, in the same way that someone can be drawn into out of control gambling or video gaming. While there is societal approval in some circles for the kind of things he does, for the most part men like him are a father’s nightmare.

 

He is a typical liberal college prof, as well as a Cradle Catholic and feminist. If you think that adds to his ‘itchiness’, you’d be right! Even he has difficulty reconciling his beliefs with his behaviors; his logical scientist’s mind rationalizes what his soul cannot accept. This inner conflict further feeds his desire to do whatever he can to bury that primal wound, until he finds himself sucked into the maelstrom called ‘hitting bottom’.

 

And what happens next? It’s a twisty/turn-y story which I hope will keep Steven Canelli in your thoughts for some time to come.





Home Again

28 06 2012

By Julia Indigo/@juliaindigo

I’ve been home for a day, and I thought I’d comment further on my recent adventure.

I returned fully six hours after I was scheduled to return. Thank you, AMERICAN AIRLINES for a completely FUBAR five days… I’m not going to fly with you again anytime soon. My second flight on Saturday was cancelled due to there not being a crew. I have no idea why that happened, but it severely affected my ability to do what I came to do – play the audition. Given the result and the lost time (and sleep), I might as well have stayed home.

 

My first flight on Tuesday was delayed over five hours due to a problem with the airplane. By the time I reached the head of the line to change my connection, I had to wait an extra hour and a half in DFW because an earlier connecting flight was full. It could’ve been worse. A later flight to DFW from That City was cancelled, and all those people had to scramble to change their plans, as well. That is simply unacceptable when your prime directive is to move people from one place to another on a schedule. Not only do you inconvenience your passengers, you inconvenience your staff.

With one notable exception, the people of AA: the ticket agents, to the gate agents, the flight attendants, the flight crews, were all wonderful, helpful, and did their best to make this insane trip more bearable.

 

In what has to be an amazing coincidence, today Boston Magazine published an article online about the Boston Symphony’s recent percussion auditions. I have never approached an audition with anything like the dedication of Mike Tetreault. Perhaps that’s why I remain in the job I have. I definitely can identify with his sense that he lost the audition at a particular moment – I experienced that same realization at some point in mine.

 

(That would be the Chicago Symphony on stage in Orchestra Hall. I’ve played on that stage, though not with the CSO.)

I did not approach the audition with the attitude that it deserved, mostly because I have a quite casual approach to making music these days. One surprising result of the audition was the desire to take music making more seriously. It remains to be seen if I will do that, with everything else I have on my plate. You can read all about that in my first posting in the Third Round of Row80, which will go live on July 2nd. I’ve been thinking about Steven and my WIP, perhaps I’ll actually do some writing later today.

 

Oh, and a huge, Texas-sized THANK YOU to my new followers! You guys make my day. I’ll do my best to keep things interesting around here.





The Darkness Within

26 06 2012

By Julia Indigo/@juliaindigo

 

“There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” – Carl Gustav Jung

Such is the theme of my WIP, His Original Sin. Steven Canelli, for all his good points, cannot – WILL not – face the pain that drives him. It’s easier to use – whether it is alcohol, nicotine, work, or women – and, in spite of his prodigious intelligence, he takes the ‘easier’ way out time after time, until he hits bottom. It isn’t that he doesn’t see the endpoint. He uses (that word, again!) his brilliance to rationalize his actions.

That’s the way it always is, isn’t it? People in general won’t face facts until they have to, until they have no other choice. I know that’s been true in my life. I refuse to enumerate the many times that I continued on a particular path in spite of that nagging ‘oh dear, this isn’t going to end well’ feeling, that inner warning system maxed out in the red. Usually when I’ve stayed with a course (never mind the looming brick wall) it’s been because I felt that I had no other options. The truth? I had no other easy options.

In Steven’s case, it’s easier to just pour another drink, light another cig, or chase another skirt. Easier, until it becomes impossible to overcome the consequences of his actions. Perhaps that’s why I adore this character, in spite of his behavior. He’s me, in a different body, making different choices, avoiding different pain… but still running, running, running, until he can’t run any longer.

(And what is he really running from? There’s a hint of it on this page.)

Thanks to my good friend Gayle Greenlea for posting the Jung quote to Facebook. I hadn’t intended this Tuesday Quotes blogpost to become copy about my book, but it fits so well!

What about you? What are you running from? What situations aren’t working in your life? Where could you make other, harder, choices, which might result in beauty? Where are you holding back out of fear of… success? failure? Let me know in the comments.

Oooh boy. I could go on and on with those questions, and probably will, in my journal!





“Next!”

24 06 2012

By Julia Indigo/@juliaindigo

Yesterday I caught an 8:30 am flight, beginning my trek to another City for The Piccolo Audition™, which happened today. (Yeah, I’d said in a previous post that it was on the 25th, but I was confused. It was today.) Before I boarded my first flight I learned that the rewards program had booked my lodgings through Priceline, which had shoved me off to a remote property – yet another 30-40 minutes from the symphony hall, making the trek there over an hour each way. That wasn’t resolved until much later in the day, after much stressing and obsessing. In the end, it didn’t matter.

I arrived at DFW for my connecting flight, and found out that that it was cancelled. It seems that AA had forgotten to schedule a crew for the flight. No pilot, co-pilot, or cabin crew!

There were 4 subsequent flights to The City, but all of them were overbooked, the second by eleven people! I hung out for the first two as standby before giving up. My checked bag made it, all by itself, ending up in a crowded room with other people’s checked bags. I hope they didn’t have a baggage orgy! Oh, the humanity! Think of the BSTDs!

 

After booking me on the first flight out the next morning, the airline put me up in a marginal hotel for the night. I didn’t sleep. Well, I probably did sleep, but it was of the ‘wake up, look at the clock, OMG it’s only been 2 hours, PANIC: lather, rinse, repeat’ kind. Up at 4:40 to catch the 5:30 shuttle back to DFW, 7 am flight arrives in The City at marginally before 9am.

I took the shuttle to the hall and had 1 hour to put myself in order, warm up, and review the excerpts before I played. The hall was AMAZING… but I knew I wouldn’t pass to the next round before I finished playing. Sure enough… I didn’t. I played for about 5 – 7 minutes. That may not seem to you like much time to judge someone’s ability, but trust me, it doesn’t take nearly that long when you’re on the other side of the screen (as I was just last month). In some cases just 10 seconds tells you all you need to know to dismiss the person from consideration. This orchestra demonstrated common courtesy by allowing every candidate to play all six excerpts. That is appreciated, especially when people come from all over the country on their own dime to audition.

Afterward, a colleague who lives here picked me up. We went to lunch and had a great time reminiscing about people we’d worked with. Tonight I’m in the hotel where the front desk guy moved heaven and earth for me to be able to stay here. Tomorrow will be sightseeing with my friend, and then Tues morning back home, HOPEFULLY AA will remember to schedule crews for both my flights. My plan is to take the car in for servicing that night, then drive a couple hours to spend some quality time with the Parental Units™ the next day. You might remember that they had cancer and heart procedures just a month ago. I wanted to go see them sooner, but the audition intervened.

I’m very glad that I took this audition. The reverb in the hall revealed some deficiencies in my playing, and I’m enthusiastic about correcting them. I haven’t been interested in practicing in literally years, so this is definitely a welcome development. I also learned that I can perform quite well in spite of harrowing circumstances.

However, I would not be telling the whole story if I didn’t admit that I’m unhappy with the outcome. You never go to this kind of effort for the hell of it. I wish that I was still in the running for the position. I like this place, and it would have been a step up for me, both musically and financially. I’d also like to leave Texas – too bloody hot, not to mention redneck. If I didn’t have other fish to fry I’d probably be quite upset, but as it is I still have a gig, a business, and two books in the oven… and the next round of Row80 starting in one week, even if it may be in the low 100s F by then.





Get EXCITED: reblogging Mhairi

22 06 2012

I love Mhairi Simpson’s blog, and this post, “Get Excited”, made me laugh, smile, and nod in agreement.

(Isn’t she a doll?)

The woman has so much going on in her life right now – she’s such an inspiration. As soon as I get this blasted THING that I’m doing out of the way, I’m going full blast with the fitness thing. Couch to 5K? Maybe. Boot Camp? Maybe. Crossfit? Maybe.

Mhairi, you’re my hero(ine). xox, woman, love you!





The End is in Sight

21 06 2012

By Julia Indigo/@juliaindigo

The end is in sight, and no, not the end of my first draft! The end of the Sharp Left Turn that I mentioned the other day. I leave for the audition on Saturday, whether or not I’m ready. The tickets are bought, the friends who live there are contacted, the place I’m staying is booked, and my audition time is set.

Did you see that, above? The phrase ‘whether or not I’m ready’?

It remains to be seen whether or not one is ever ready for a symphony orchestra audition. My preparation is continuing, and will up until I walk out on stage, just me and my piccolo, thankfully behind a screen. Yes, symphony orchestra auditions are blind, usually until the final round.

Today I’m afraid to hope. I’d love the gig, I’d love the change of scenery, I’d love to leave Texas, even if the other place is equally Right Wing. I’ll survive. After all, I’ve survived here all this time!

The interesting thing is that when I try to think about the future after not winning, of returning here to stay, I come up blank. It’s as though my subconscious simply can’t fathom that. I find that curious. Hopeful, and curious.





Be This

19 06 2012

By Julia Indigo/@juliaindigo

Seven advice of Mevlana

 

In generosity and helping others be like a river
In compassion and grace be like the sun
In concealing others’ faults be like the night
In anger and fury be like the dead
In modesty and humility be like the earth
In tolerance be like a sea
Either exist as you are or be as you look.








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