Monday, November 29, 2010

turkey hangover

I never got around to writing a "being thankful" post in honor of Thanksgiving. I never did it, because I couldn't put my finger on for what I was really thankful. I've been walking around with my brain turned off somehow. And when I feel it starting to turn back on, I close my eyes and hide. When I come to terms with what I really know, it's depressing. This didn't seem right for a pre-holiday posting. Far better to read on a Monday, back at work, back to life as we really know it.

As bleak as it sounds, I am thankful for my current tight money situation. I'm thankful for breaking down in the grocery store. Thankful for putting things back. For nearly crying when speaking to the cashier. For feeling honestly overwhelmed at the cost of food and how sophisticated our wants have become. Lately I feel dire about how much my small family wants to consume. I'm thankful for this feeling. We should all be thankful to feel a bit more poor. It's the true state of things, really. Look around.

I have happy things for which to be thankful, of course. But, right now, I'm feeling pretty dark.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

starting over, yet again

I began work on my graduate school research paper again. The road began with apologizing to nearly everyone at my University. Apology is the beginning I think.
I have begun for real. I, Lucy, promise to not pull the football out from under your feet this time, Charlie Brown. I am both Charlie and Lucy, of course.
Today I was loading the washing machine and I nearly panicked. How can I be this person? How can I do all the things that will make me good? How?
Then, as clear as a bell, this bit of worry was labeled for what it is. Thinking. And breathe. And count. And load the laundry. When I write the paper, I will write the paper. Then I will go do something else.

Today I started reading the edits and comments my professor had made. For the first time. And it hurt. She started out positive, but as the paper wore on, I could hear her weariness. I have a lot of work to do. But, I'm going to do it. And put it away. And then go do something else.

Friday, November 12, 2010

violist, interrupted

In college, I was awarded the principal viola position. This sounds more important than it was. It was a terrible orchestra, in a weak music school. I was the best of the worst. I was doing okay, until we were given a very difficult piece to play that included a viola solo. I am not a soloist. I lived in panic, dreading each rehearsal. But I was holding it together. Until, the choral recital.

Because I was principal violist, I had a seat in the school's string quartet. One night, we were accompanying a vocal student during his senior recital. Easy music. Whole note city. But I lost it.

On the dimly lit stage, looking out into the blinding light, out of the blue, I began to shake. It was probably low blood sugar, just a coincidence. My bow arm began to tremble. I panicked. Sweat. More shaking. All during a very quiet whole note. I can't believe I didn't run. I stopped playing, held my bow off my instrument and tried not to die. Things were never the same after that.

When I met my dad after the performance, I was in shock. "Dad, did you see what happened?" He had not. He couldn't see in my head, didn't notice the sweat and shaking, the panic on my face. The experience frightened me so much. I knew I was done playing. But, I still had several weeks left in the semester. And I still had to play my solo. I also knew, without a doubt, without even trying, that I was never going to be able to play without shaking.

I spent a lot of time in bed.
I tried to practice my solo. I tried to find cures for the shaking that would start every time I placed my bow on the viola. Mostly I just stayed in bed. I was so alone. I tried to speak to the conductor. But I guess I didn't properly convey to her that the symphony was ruining my life. I even worked up the courage to call my university counseling center. They didn't have any available appointments.

I made it through the semester and the last performance. Who even knows what I sounded like. I didn't care. I just wanted to not die of fright. I celebrated my success by never going back to the symphony, hiding my viola in storage, and putting the whole thing behind me.

I walked away from the viola.
Until recently. A fellow librarian invited me to join her string ensemble. Just three old friends that like to play together. I said no before she could even finish her sentence, but she gently pressed. "We play easy music. We just love the harmonies. We'd really love having a violist." Her kindness won me over. I went over and played. I had forgotten so much. Key signature, time signature. But, I had also forgotten my fear.

Playing with the quartet was fun. But, what has been amazing and restorative has been playing by myself. I've started playing after Ramona has gone to bed. I get out the music and I play for myself. It doesn't sound that wonderful, but I don't care. It feels nice, puzzling this instrument out by myself.

I am endlessly enchanted by the circular motion of my life. I step away from things, I come back to things. A kind new friend invites me to play an instrument buried deep in my basement closet. I can let go of things that have happened. I can say yes and I can start again.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

on blankets

A blanket changed my life when Ramona was about 9 months old. You experienced moms can go ahead and laugh at me (and believe me, they have), I am petrified of babies and blankets. It's not my fault. Nurses brainwashed me during my pregnancy.
So, my Ramona, even in the dead of winter got no blanket. When Ramona was about 8 months old, I grew very weary of getting up to nurse once or twice a night. I fretted a lot that she should be learning to sleep through the night. I consulted several sources and they all talked about "loveys". Introduce a lovey. I tried a tiny blanket with a bear head. Didn't work. Then, because I was cold, I started wrapping Ramona and myself in a small crochet baby blanket while nursing at night. Nursing in the dark, with the thing pulled to my chin, I could almost believe I was still in bed. And then the soft little thing started making its way back to the crib. Night after night. And after awhile, Ramona slept through the night. Magic. Soft, subtle, slow, easy magic.

The blanket is not that special. It wasn't given by a beloved family member. Just a little something someone made for a baby. Any baby. But it happened to be my baby.

In the last week or so it has become obvious that Ramona has outgrown the old pink baby blanket. It's gotten cold at night and she needs real warmth. My mom vows to make her something special. Something wonderful. But in the meantime, she lent me a real wonder. A toddler sized afghan that my sister slept under, made by our great grandmother.

When I spread it over her at bedtime, Ramona wiggled with pleasure. Under its weight. Under its warmth. Old pink is in there too, snuggled in her arms. Tonight, I'm thankful for the goodness of it all.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

come on, revisit Halloween with me

Listen, I know you don't want to hear about Halloween 2010 anymore. Blogging is a timely art. But, I'm getting my ass handed to me this week and I really really wanted to write about Ramona and Halloween. See, Ramona loves holidays. Even last year when she was only 6 months old, she partied it up on Thanksgiving. She watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and refused to take a nap the whole day. I know that isn't much, but she seemed really excited. She really seemed to understand that holidays call for joy.

This year, for Halloween, I had modest expectations. I put together a simple costume; a ballerina. I really hadn't planned to take her trick or treating. Mostly I just wanted to take some pictures of her so she can enjoy them someday when she's big. (There are some pictures of me at two years old in a clown costume, which always fascinated me as a child because I was terrified of clowns.)

Trick or Treating must be an instinct, because Ramona howled until we took her outside. Then she naturally picked up her pumpkin and proceeded to march up and down the side walks and into driveways. The girl was dying to trick or treat. Brian's convinced she learned it from television. We let her watch It's the Great Pumpkin,Charlie Brown. She couldn't say trick or treat, but she did say Bye-Bye a couple of times. We let her trick or treat one house, but I really feel like she would have stayed at it all evening if I would have let her.
I love that little ballerina girl. I love how she is always up for good times and joy.