Sensory Overload

I came back to Chicago to bring Jack’s ashes to his niche.

Underneath my gross fatigue, I kind of feel like screaming.

After living in small suburbs outside Tucson and Phoenix this last year where everything was so quiet and relaxed, it’s a shock to the system to be back here. I’m staying in a hotel off Michigan Avenue. The lights, the crowds, the noise, the smells, the cars, the movement—my senses are bombarded. Doesn’t matter I lived downtown over 40 years. After one year in the quiet, I’m parrying the shocks like a boxer.

And then there’s the emotional aspect.

We left here a year ago last month with hopes and dreams of a new life living in the foothills of Tucson’s majestic mountains. We were so excited.

But that’s life, isn’t it? It doesn’t work out the way we’d like sometimes.

It’s the human condition.

We had a great eleven years together, the greatest years of my adult life. I’m so grateful for that. So much joy after decades of darkness.

Feels like an avalanche of memories accumulate with each block I walk and I can’t release the emotions fast enough.

It’s hard to feel so much. After years of living numb, emotions buried, it can be overwhelming. Make me wanna holler, throw up both my hands.

Oh yeah, I’m stealing from the late great Marvin Gaye!!!

Loved that album.

You know when I really got sensory overload? (Here comes the plug for my book.) When the meds stopped working and I got off them. I wrote about it in my memoir PTSD: Frozen in Time.

My senses became Super Senses. They were so exaggerated, everything hurt. The worst was the sense of smell. Everything with an odor made me literally feel like gagging (except cigs, go figure). All the smells I loved from baking brownies to bath soap to the balmy summer wind off the lake made me sick. It was pretty disabling. I couldn’t go anywhere without feeling like I was going to puke.

My vision hurt as if I had a constant migraine. I had to wear sunglasses in the apartment.

Sound hurt, which was ironic since I’m severely hard of hearing. A fork hitting the kitchen floor was torture. Jack wasn’t allowed to speak. He had to write me notes.

Since I felt like puking, I didn’t eat a lot. I can’t remember much now about how sensory overload effected my eating. I do recall how loud it was in my ear. I had to chew really slowly.

The worst was a pain in my head like someone with a metal letter opener was stabbing me through my ear drum

I kept all movement and experiencing of life to a minimum. Most of the time, I was prone on the couch in the den with my eyes closed.

Oh man, it was nuts. Poor Jack. I’d just moved in with him.

All this faded in time.


I’m glad I’m here taking care of business, taking Jack off my checking account and replacing him with my brother, changing power of attorney and health, etc.

But I’m too pooped to pop.

Couldn’t sleep more than a couple hours the last two nights.

Met with an old boyfriend today. Went to lunch at a restaurant/bar with the tastiest Eggs Benedict. Walked through the city to the train. Went to the suburb I grew up in.

So many memories.

I’m glad I’m not numb anymore.

But it hurts.

Make me wanna holler, throw up both my hands.



Ode to the Cotton Bug III

 Oh Cotton Bug, Oh Cotton Bug,


It’s me writing from Chicago.

I know you did not die

When the carpet cleaners came.

You crawled up the side of the white couch in your perennially-relaxed fashion

And watched the cleaners whisk through the room

from your perch on the top of the pillow.

You felt quite excellent.

Do you miss me? Or is it the Kardashian Marathon you miss?

It’s frustrating not to be able to manipulate the remote.

You’ve come to depend on me, haven’t you Cotton Bug?

Oh Cotton Bug, I must say this:

Move off the couch by the time I get home

Or you will die squashed inside a tissue in my fist.



The last few weeks were stressful. My uncle, age 100, was deteriorating fast. I’d visit him in the assisted-living facility every night and come home sad and exhausted. Much to my delight, I found Keeping Up with the Kardashians the perfect stress antidote. There’s been a marathon going in the run-up to the beginning of the 14th season.

It’s not only been a great fantasy distraction, it’s given me oodles of ideas for reducing stress. You might like to try some of these, too.

For instance, next time you’re down, do a photo shoot of yourself!!! Not for a magazine or family or anything, but because you’re an insane, amazing hottie. Plus, it’s so fun!!!! This is best done in St. Bart’s. Bible.



I was too tired to workout tonight, but writing helped calm me down. I’ll listen to Binaural Beats on my iPod in a little while. That usually helps me sleep.  Thanks for listening and so long from Sweet Home Chicago.