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  • Writer's pictureStoddard Blackall

Hiccuping Mind

Updated: Sep 15, 2023

As the first single from my double album, "HICCUPS", on Relationship OCD, approaches its release date, a major milestone is achieved. But firstly, let me welcome you to my blog, Hiccuping Mind, where I'll both share the stories and advice of people who have suffered with OCD in their lives, and give you a window into the process of writing a musical about the disorder while I learn to manage ROCD myself. Many of theses posts will feature songs from "HICCUPS" and dive into their inner-workings. This initial post will take a look at "Me Again", which explores the brief relief experienced amidst a break-up, even from a healthy, desired relationship, due to the freedom experienced from the severe triggers and every day suffering caused by ROCD.

Before the full cast album is available on shelves, there will exist a "HICCUPS: Selections" album that'll feature nine songs I believe are some of the show's best, and will provide you with an excellent sampling of its tone. But really, I must boast that the musical is chock full of gems you won't want to miss. Five of these nine songs will be released first, as singles. You will be able to listen to them on any streaming platform, including Bandcamp, where you can decide to pay more for them if you so choose. Hey, you might just enjoy them that much!

The following album cover will be the keeper, so to speak, for the nine chosen songs, under the umbrella of "HICCUPS: Selections", the hefty Hiccups EP:

As you can see, on the far left of this art, there's a mini hot air balloon in the foreground. That is supposed to be a placeholder for the word, Hiccups, and act as a symbol for the ever-presence of the balloon (not to mention obsessive thoughts!!!) in the musical, itself. For someone with OCD, everywhere you look, that balloon of uncertainty and intrusive thoughts can still be seen, even if only in your periphery. The trick is about exposure therapy and the neutral words of encouragement you tell yourself to avoid falling for balloon's traps of reassurance, in the form of compulsions. Other than the mini balloon, which I ordered from a company called Authentic Models, I used blue ink, card stock paper and whiteout to create this design. Printed on the card stock was a picture of the single art for "Me Again" (the first song hitting the shelves on Labor Day), but only of its bottom half, that is actually out of shot for the portion that I ended up using for the single.

Finally, here, in this amazing original art designed by Adam Demerath, who is also developing the show's book with me, you see THE hot air balloon, which, again is both associated with one of the central settings in the musical, and a symbol of the bag of useless hot air that OCD constantly pumps into its host's brain. The balloon popping is clear foreshadowing and a direct metaphor for an overactive OCD brain reaching its limit. This will likely be the main album cover for the full Hiccups album, and be paired with more art of its luxurious kind.

Hiccups is a 2-person musical about Shiloh, a piano bar entertainer and Liza, a fashion designer who fall in love on an early morning hot air balloon date, despite the fact that when Shiloh goes in for a first kiss, he nervously hiccups in Liza's mouth. After this happens a second time, Shiloh's convinced by his obsessive thinking that missing out on such a pivotal moment in their relationship is a sign of their incompatibility. Throughout their relationship, Shiloh can't stop thinking of all the ways they are wrong for each other, regardless of their "near perfect" connection. In a way, ever since the hiccup incident, Shiloh's hiccups never leave his mind.

The "Me Again" single art is also in a DIY style, this time using sea glass and watercolor as its media.

Every "HICCUPS: Selections" single cover will follow this theme of using a variety of media to convey a messy-mind kind of feeling.

Today, I emailed Jeff Bell, radio news anchor, speaker, and author of two books on OCD: "When In Doubt, Make Belief", and "Rewind Replay Repeat: A Memoir", both of which I highly recommend. We had a correspondence eight years ago, just before I started writing "HICCUPS", when I expressed my admiration for him and his guiding words in a time of deep difficulty in my mid-twenties. Now, I'm in my mid-thirties and I want to hear from him today. I want to see if there's anything new he's willing to share with an audience of OCD sufferers, when I now have some truly intimate, OCD-related work to share with the world. One of his biggest piece of advice was to focus on the "Greater Good", whatever that may be for you. For him, it was service. His "Greater Good" was spreading his message of hope and persistence in the face of this much-more-debilitating-than-we-realize foe called OCD.

Stay tuned for his reply! And check the web for "Me Again" when it lands on Labor Day. Because one thing OCD requires from all of us who are stricken with it, is LABOR. Day in, day out. It's hard work.

I will go into the first single release once it is out in the world!

Until then!

-Stoddard and my Hiccuping Mind

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