Tossing out old habits on their frickin’ ear

Today, one of the adorable millennials I work with thought it would be fun to listen to 80s ballads. Not, like, Madonna or either Jackson or Cyndi Lauper or the Eurythmics.

Endless droning declarations of love by male-voiced singers filled with anguish, each song one I’ve heard over and over and over and over again.

I was immediately back in my cluttered bedroom on the farm, where the abuse intensified as there was no one near enough to hear it.

I was sitting there on my mattress on the floor, digging a tack into the palm of my hand, listening to these men belting out their eternal love for whoever-it-was that they’d been holding back on for some fuck-ass reason but they just can’t stop this feeling anymore or can’t live without you or blah blah blah.

Filled with an inarticulate longing that I thought was the sort of longing I’d read about in books, but it wasn’t that — I was a late, late, LATE bloomer. It was love — openly declared, provable, stand-by-your-love LOVE. It was the only kind I could imagine would be ‘real.’


And guess what? MY TRILLION DOLLAR QA COMPUTER refused to make any sound whatsoever when I turned on my headphones.

I tried to concentrate without music coming through them, telling myself these were DEFINITELY earplugs of some sort, but  my toes were curling and I felt like someone was behind me and my chest was tight and I couldn’t focus on my work at all.

Here’s the part that non-traumatized people will scratch their heads at: it was a TREMENDOUS effort for me to reboot the computer to attempt fixing the sound. I was busy! We are releasing version 0.20.0 tonight and I need to spend every breathing second QAing! I should be able to shake this off! Blah blah blickety-blah.

Probably only four months ago I would have gritted my teeth and tried to work through a sensory flashback for HOURS, basically getting nothing done.

Instead, the instant I got the headphones to work and my ears filled up with the delightfully ABSOLUTELY NEW sound of Gangstagrass, my entire body relaxed. I went on to have a very productive and calm day. It was astounding, really.


  1. Do what you need to do to get away from shit that is fucking you up
  2. Gangstagrass is a really good group; not just, like, a novelty act, and I doubt you grew up with them so you might not have bad associations; check it for just musical enjoyment but also as a tool to drown out stuff that is too evocative.
  3. Look what I did last night, so peacefully, on my front porch as the needles clicked and slid satisfyingly against each other, soothing the entire day away:


Later I’m going to have a friend and coworker help me out with a few other skills! Next: CABLING. Dun, dun, dUUUUUUUUUNNNNNN!

We CAN unlearn old unhealthy habits. We fucking CAN.