I am obsessing about a CD.
It is a Xmas CD. A really good one, my favorite in fact.
I listen to it starting the day after Thanksgiving and put it away, sadly at New Years.
I listen to a lot of Xmas music, actually. I really love it.
Years ago it would make me cringe,( and I have to say hearing it before Thanksgiving still does…one Holiday at a time people!) but then I married a guy who LOVED Xmas music, good, bad, made no difference. Actually, it did make some difference, the utter joy when really bad Xmas music was found was quite heartwarming…’tis the season!
I have about a million Xmas CD’s. Maybe 2 million, I don’t know. I never play them all though, because I don’t have to. Starting in 1999 we made or own Xmas CD. Well, it was Tom’s idea, and a great one. We’d pick a theme and then he’d comb through his CD’s for gems, both good and bad. It was quite the process, song after song, and it usually started around the beginning of November. He felt he needed the time; I think he just wanted to get started on listening earlier (he could have listened all year….he was Xmas music and musicals, all the time). He’d bring a boom- box out and set it on our dining room table, pull out the plastic bins full of CD’s (really, maybe 3 million), and get to work. There would be lists of possible compilations, there would be shouts of “what do you think of this?” , there would be arguments about whether a particular song fit the theme, or if we could somehow make it fit the theme since it was so good. Oftentimes he would have a list with the beginnings of the next years CD on it by the time he finished the year he was working on. Anyway, the final product was put together, with a hand drawn cover by our son, liner notes by Tom and it became our annual Xmas gift to our friends. Everyone loved them and looked forward to them, and it was so much fun to put them together. Well, like I said, Tom did it, but he did ask for my input and even let the kid pick a song each year that he wanted to add. It was a fun family project that I miss.
So those are the CD’s I listen to every year. I still have a quite a few left of each year, and if I can’t find a particular one there’s no worries since I have them all in my itunes library and just copy another one. They bring me comfort and joy. They bring memories that sometimes bring me to my knees, but for the most part I truly enjoy them.
Except this year.
I haven’t listened to one yet this year. The house is decorated and it’s December 4 and KCRW and KCSN are on my radio and no music is playing in my house.I have started to put on some Xmas music and stopped myself, and I will get back to that thought in a minute…..
The year that Tom died I decided to make one last Xmas CD, on my own (well, the kid helped a bit, but, really….) . I just thought it was fitting . I thought that Tom would love it, I was holding on to old traditions tightly, I thought that the friends I was going to give them to would like it, and I had a brilliant idea for it. You see, we were blessed with some extremely talented friends, incredible singers and composers . And each year we would place a special track on the CD….a surprise track from one of our friends. It was a really cool idea that Tom thought of and I loved it. The thing was, we also had a number of tracks of Xmas music that Tom himself sang. I had been urging him to put one on , but he didn’t want to. He wanted to put his friends on, not himself. So the year he died I decided to put a track of Tom’s on the CD, and when all our friends and family got it they would forever have Tom and his beautiful voice to remember , and so would I. I gotta say, the CD itself was kind of a downer. I mean, it was “The Death” CD, so I put on a lot of beautiful, sad songs that spoke of missing someone, longing for them. That was where I was, and this was my CD. However, Adam Sandler’s Hannukah Song was on it, (the kids pick), an hysterical song by Bootsie Collins that I found which would have been my pick in ANY year, and I even found the classic “Santa Lost A Ho” that was SO Tom…oh the kid and I laughed so hard about it and I found it very serendipitously , leaving me to think that some Tom intervention happened to get that track on the CD.
There were also 3 songs that Tom sang on it, interspersed throughout.
I want to listen to it, I do. I feel desperate to listen to it at times, a longing so strong, a pull. And I stop myself, or a least have stopped myself so far. And today I was reading a friends blog who was writing about cravings for alcohol, and I thought of this. When I have a craving for alcohol, when I think it might be a good idea to have that one glass of wine, I have learned a couple of tricks to do before I have that drink. First I check myself for HALT (Hungry, Angry,Lonely or Tired)…and if any of these things are present I try and address them. I eat, I rest, I breathe and try and get past the anger. The Lonely? I just have to accept that, because that is a constant in my life and if I gave in to that feeling I’d be drunk. But sometimes I call or text a friend, try and make a plan, get to a meeting, even go on the internet just to see if I can get a little out of that lonely head space.
Another thing I do is think through to the end of the drink, because I know that it is the first drink that gets me drunk. If don’t pick it up, I’m good. If I do, there is no accounting for what might happen. I recently told a friend that ever since I quit drinking I finally knew exactly how to kill myself. So, there you go…I’m not ready to go there, so I don’t drink.
Which brings me back to the CD. What keeps stopping me? I have been thinking through it, it’s that simple. I KNOW, from years past, that once I put it on I will play it over and over. And while most of the time it will be SO good, and so lovely to hear my loves voice, to remember him, I also know how the FIRST time I put it on each year the pain is so horrible that it takes my breathe away. And I just have not been ready for that. Maybe I need to go out later that day, and don’t want red, swollen eyes. Or maybe there isn’t enough time for me to cry the way I want to. Or maybe I’m driving when the urge hits and I have to remember that crying while driving is dangerous. Or maybe I’m just in a good mood and I don’t want to fuck it up…so many reasons to not put it on.
And maybe, just maybe, I will be able to listen, and feel a little sad, maybe tear up, but be able to handle it in a way I haven’t for years because I am not drunk.
I just don’t know. Just like sometimes I don’t know , really, if I can’t have that glass of wine with friends.
I know I’ll put it on; it’s NOT a drink. And, while it might make me want to drink, I will be prepared for that. But for now it feels right to wait, and so I do, even though there is nothing more I want to do then put it on and hear the voice of the man I loved beyond measure.
But he’s dead, and I’m alive and have learned that I need to take care of and protect myself, to love myself first.
So I think through the CD. And I write a blog post about it. And stay open to the idea that I will know when, or even if, I can play it this year.
I’m trusting my gut today, and fighting those cravings for misery and waiting for the craving for joy. When I feel that I’ll know it’s time.