Summer schlummer. Whatever. It’s over.
The great thing about blogging is you’re always blogging in your head. The awful thing about blogging is you’re always blogging in your head.
This one’s been swimming up there for a while, but nonetheless, I give you “The Green Piano Post”.
So. Sometime between 1970 when my parents got married, and 1975 when I was born, my folks spent their hard-earned G.I. money on – No, not a down-payment on a house…No, not stocks in McDonald’s – a piano. God love ’em. Such a beautiful hippie love story, and I’m proud of it to this day. I’m pretty sure they were eating beans and rice or the equivalent, but By God they had a piano, and I know they sat at it night after night and played Kum-Ba-Yah and Puff the Magic Dragon and whatever else the Readers’ Digest Piano Book contained that was in a key that worked for their perfect triad: guitar capo, piano, and vocal range.
Forty plus years later: Their 1970’s flower child who grew up playing that piano now spends hours a week with her hot husband/love/bff/duet partner and his guitar/ukulele cranking out Kasey Musgraves and Symarip and Jack Johnson. The same piano is featured in her newly renovated front room, and it hosts at least 12 different pairs of hands each week.
The variable: Instagram and an obsession with paint. So, you need some background here – I’m the girl who saw curtains she liked, couldn’t afford them, bought some similar curtains and painted each and every stripe the desired color…four pairs of 96″ curtains. She wanted yellow and blue, not khaki and blue. I’m the girl who bought a figure-flattering dress for her role as Grace Farrell in “Annie – the Musical”, but was told she couldn’t wear a red dress because Annie wore a red dress, so she spray-painted it with car upholstery paint until it was some weird form of black with a red sheen. Also the girl who follows Annie Sloan Paint on Instagram because her motto is “Paint Everything”.
So when I saw a painted piano on her feed, I thought “huh. I haven’t painted a piano. I have a piano. I have paint. Why don’t I have a painted piano?”
Now, I’ve painted a lot of things, but nothing has caused me pause and reflection quite like this piano. Nevertheless, with the kickass new home reno and no hope of a baby grand in sight, I just decided to close my figurative eyes and jump in. LOTS of encouragement from hot husband, who, based on his experience with me, couldn’t believe that I talked about it and didn’t make it happen the same day. I told him I needed to process this one.
So, after a couple of weeks of reflection, I stuck the brush into the green paint and touched it to the piano and knew that now I had to do it. It made me a little sick. Until two very strong feelings swept over me consecutively, in a very connected way. In such a way that I’m not sure I’ll do it justice.
First, I was overwhelmed with the realization that those two hippies who could have bought food or a television or something else more conventional – bought a piano. And then they made a baby, and their combined DNA created a baby who wanted to paint everything and play every song and sing every note and love everything deeply. And I realized that they can’t get mad that I’m painting their piano – they made ME, and so it’s their own faultslashcredit.
Then, without warning, I was overcome by the feeling of gratitude for having a Nike husband. To anything I want to do, his response is “Just Do It!” or something like it. And he MEANS it. It my past life (ex-life), I wasn’t even allowed to play the piano when ex was home because it “made too much noise”. I was discouraged from painting all the things I wanted to paint because I would “diminish their value”. So what am I even here for? Something in me was programmed to want to make things different from everything else…What was really going to be negatively affected, the painted furniture, or who I thought I was?
I love my green piano. It is fun. It says, “come play me…I don’t bite…we’re all just here to have some fun while we can.” It speaks volumes about how much I love the way my parents raised me. It sings a melody of the freedom that comes from finding your one-and-only who wants you to just keep being more of you.
And hey (this could have been my life’s motto), if you have to be an upright, be the funkiest one in town.
I just Googled this term, and it’s not even a thing. It was at 510 Brodie when I was growing up. This term, apparently made up by my mother, embodies so many wonderful things about my upbringing and heritage, and so many things I can’t seem to give up.
Are all obsessions bad? I feel like this one is just one of my quirks (I think I’m justifying a lot of these post topics that way lately…) But it is an obsession nonetheless – one that causes undue stress almost every day. I’m not expecting – or even wanting – to turn this one completely off…just moderate my expectations.
If I was going to cast someone to play my mother in a movie about her life, I would have a hard time deciding between the proper Hyacinth (from the BBC) and the oh-so-southern Paula Dean (from the South). She’s the juxtaposition of keeping up appearances and lovin’ Jesus while cookin’ with bacon grease. Her mother (more like a mixture of characters from Dallas and The Beverly Hillbillies) wasn’t too much different in her appearances/housekeeping/presentation standards. On more than one occasion, I called to ask if I could drop by and see her while I was in her area, and she declined because her house wasn’t presentable.
Much like my grandmother, I don’t want people to see my home in any state other than “Magazine Perfect” – the term my mother used to distinguish whether she wanted me to merely clean my room – dust, vacuum, empty trash – or arrange it for the magazine photographers who were inevitably going to drop by unannounced to take pictures of our interior for Southern Living magazine – bed made, throw pillows and blankets strategically staged, frames placed on shelves by height and in odd numbered groupings, and stack of classic novels innocently gracing my desk…and of course I want it to appear effortless. (She never told me these were the things I had to do – I just created that as a definition.) As a kid, I preferred “magazine perfect” to cleaning. It involved throwing un-pretty things in my closet and desk drawers (’cause what kind of wackadoo photographer would take pictures of desk drawers???) and making things look pretty. Nowadays, I enjoy cleaning too, but I still – honest to God – have the thought in my head that a magazine photographer might show up on my doorstep, and By God I’d better be ready.
Like I said, this obsession isn’t ALL bad. I love living in a tidy house. I love the compliments from people who drop by. I love things looking nice. But most people really don’t care. I don’t get that, but they don’t. This probably goes back full circle to my Confidence post. I don’t feel like I judge other people if their houses are messy (I kinda do if they’re dirty), but I do find myself grateful that I live like I do, and I do expect to be judged.
Here’s what I need to focus on: Who do I feel like I need to make happy? The answer should be me and my family. It does take a regular cleaning and a regular picking-up to make me happy. It takes very little to make my family happy – I want them to care, but they just don’t. And I should see this as an opportunity for some freedom from stress…I’m going to try.
*voice in my head* I’m going to be SO mad if a magazine photographer really does show up on a day I’m practicing not caring. SO mad.
(in my head, that’s me below)
Compelling topic, right? I’ve been tossing around all kinds of “G” words, should I tie into what’s going on in my life? Should it be metaphoric? I toyed with Girls (as opposed to Boys), Girlfriends, Group (I heart my writing group girls), Gravy (who doesn’t love gravy?!), but I’ve settled on Grout.
We’ve decided to go all-in on our house. My hott husband got this house for such a great deal…stole it really…that even if we did all the things we would want to do in our wildest dreams, we’d still owe considerably less than what the house is worth. We plan on staying in this very house for another 10ish years, so we want to enjoy it and not wait until it’s time to sell to start updating.
(That’s not my house, btw.)
I’m madly in love with Saltillo tile. I’m pretty sure it is connected to my childhood memories of nice expensive homes and my current emotional relationship with Mexican food restaurants, but I love the look – especially contrasted with our eclectic style in art and furnishings.
We’ve had two bids, and two different professional opinions about the actual tile installation – particularly the grout choice.
I may have mentioned before that I am not a patient woman. But I, myself, would like to compliment myself on the self-inflicted patience that I now find myself comfortable with. Rather than be in a great big hurry to ready set start go finish yay like I usually (always) am, I, a mature woman now, have recognized that our lives are too hectic for home reno at this time. Lacrosse practices, car pools, piano lessons three days a week, writing group, just to name a few, equal too many bodies and feet in and out all week. Everything can come to a screeching halt in May, and I am perfectly fine with that, thank you very much.
But I find myself paralyzed by grout right now. I’m perfectly happy – as usual – saying “Whatever is cheapest and looks cool and you can start right now right?” But this might actually hold up our start date more than anything else. Epoxy or cement grout? I’ll spare you the list of pros and cons because this isn’t a home improvement blog. It’s about my inability to make this decision. I haven’t seen epoxy grout in person. I haven’t lived with either one for decades to know which is easier maintenance and better longevity. And I don’t hold the checkbook. (I have a checkbook, duh, just not one that has enough money for home renovations in it. Sometimes it can barely buy a home renovation magazine. Another topic.)
I’ve made major life changes that apparently took more guts than the people who seem to be impressed by them have, I can change careers, get a divorce, move to a big new city with one friend after 13 years with many, and I’ve purchased 16 cars since I started driving. But I can’t change cell phones, and apparently I can’t decide on grout.
There are some decisions I don’t really like to make because they’re things that I don’t care about but somebody else might (where to eat). There are some decisions that I make with no problem because I DO have strong opinions about many things (who to vote for). But I can’t make this one, and I don’t want it made for me either. And I don’t really think it’s that fact that bothers me as much as the fact that I’m not used to being the one who has to go and seek out the information I need to make the decision.
Because what if I’m wrong.
That’s what this is about, I suppose. I am paralyzed by decisions where there actually is a right choice and a wrong choice, and I can’t handle that responsibility. I just want to call my dad and say “tell me what to do”. Most difficult decisions that I have been able to make easily, it’s because I’m willing to work to make what might have been a bad choice into a good one. This is one where I can’t fix it if it’s wrong, and I can’t bitch about it if I just don’t like it.
Such a small thing with such big implications. I guess I’m off to start doing my research. I’ll update with my findings, in case anyone cares. I need to see it, price it, and consumer-report it. As Nike says and my hott husband lives, Just Do It.
In other news, the Diet and exercise are going great! It’s only Thursday, but I can see and feel a difference. I’m about to practice some real big Confidence…going into a meeting to present to a few people who have petitioned my public beheading. Haven’t been on Facebook and haven’t missed it one bit. And Expectations, a work in progress. (Small episode last night, no need to talk about it now.)
I still feel like a blog is me talking to myself, but I’ve started reading many of yours, and I’m completely driven now by the rewards of being on both sides of a blog. So thanks 🙂
I’m not talking about “dieting” in the American twenty-first century sense…I’m talking about diet. I’ve been eating and drinking a lot of crap lately.
Today was my first day of my fourth round of the formerly-popular Insanity workout. My hott husband (then hott boyfriend) and I bought a used boxed set of the DVDs off Craiglist in 2013 and started on April 1st. It was also an all-important English I STAAR testing day for me, and I worked at the high school which required my arrival by 6:45a.m., and I was just coming off a ferocious tib-fib break that had birthed a titanium rod in my left leg, screws in two places, and a cut open and stitched back together knee-cap. Thinking back on it now, I was one tough cookie that year.
But it was all about the challenge then. I was out to prove something.
The next year was good too…it was nice to feel like it was a little bit easier. Last year I was such a slacker. I was scheduled to have surgery at the end of the first month of the two month program, so I knew I was only going to get in one month. I didn’t even do that month with any real vigor.
This year needs to be different. I have added 10 solid pounds to my “normal” weight, 13 since the wedding. I’m forty now. And I’ve made the career decision for August that puts me back in the classroom where I’m happy and know I can feel my best. My motivation has never been weight, and it’s a good thing because Insanity has never made me lose any. But it needs to this year.
So I’ve been announcing to anyone who will listen (my hott husband) that everything goes into high gear today…Insanity in the mornings (second Craigslist boxed set since we wore out the first set), healthy eating all day, walking in the evenings, and alcoholic beverages only for special occasions. It’s only 8:03a.m., but so far I haven’t fallen off the wagon. I have accepted yet another great challenge geared toward self(ish)-improvement. Insanity will work on the outside, but diet has to be the focus to feel better on the inside.
I’m prepared to dress in pin-up fashion this Friday evening for the Art Car Ball. Even if it’s only in my head, I want to feel better about my body from the inside out…and then I’m going to walk out the door with the confidence of someone who doesn’t judge (see yesterday’s post).
I’m also considering whether or not to provide myself some extrinsic motivation…thinking of registering for a half-marathon in some fun place – maybe San Diego?…Pretty sure hott husband wouldn’t mind a surf weekend soon 🙂
No gimmicks, packaged foods, or calorie counting…just good ol’ fashioned common sense and junk-food snubbing. Here goes…
Confidence is a funny thing…it comes and goes, and not at convenient times. I have been told many times – after dates, interviews, by friends and co-workers – that my confidence is one of my strengths.
It only makes sense that I’m an amazing actress, because this idea that I have confidence, much less enough to be admired, is one of the more bizarre things I’ve had to get a grip on as a human person.
I know the things that I am good at – I’ll even be so bold as to say that there are some things that I feel I am one of the best at…in my field…in this area…during this time period…but still. Piano, art, teaching, all areas I feel truly confident. I make bold choices for my home and I don’t worry about them or question what anyone else will think about them. That’s confidence, right?
There’s not even a word, however, for how I feel about other things…inconfident, unconfident, nonconfident? It’s not the same thing as self-conscious, though I definitely suffer from that curse too. It’s more that sense of being judged, being talked about negatively by the popular girls, being measured up against. I can put on an outfit I love, fix my hair and makeup perfectly, choose accessories that I know people will compliment, feel fabulous about myself, and still as soon as I step out of the car to walk up to a place, I’m as close to panicking inside as a person can get without a diagnosis. Does everyone feel this way? Was my maturity stunted in junior high by some traumatic girl-incident that I’ve blocked out of my memory?
Yesterday, my hott husband and I had a chance to take advantage of the perfect day and go out on the motorcycle. We had been wanting to ride up to The Heights and cruise through the cool old revived neighborhoods and eat at BB’s to get our Cajun fix. Since it was 70ish degrees outside and likely to cool down as the night wore on, I wore a Nike jacket, running tights, and my new snow boots since they are warm and cover my legs where they need to be covered to serve as protection. We parked and started walking toward the restaurant where, I must say, I immediately noticed that everyone was dressed as if it was an occasion. Standing in line to get a table, I heard a guy behind me say to his date, “those are some awesome shoes, aren’t they,” and I swear he was pointing at my shoes and snickering. Granted, I would have been the person in line behind me thinking “What was that girl thinking? It’s April in Texas – put the Uggs in the attic, or better yet Goodwill,” because yeah, sometimes I’m that mean. Oh. My. God. That’s why I’m inconfident…It’s my own fault.
What the person behind me should have thought, which was what I was screaming in my head, was, “THERE’S A VERY GOOD REASON WHY THIS INTELLIGENT GROWN-ASS WOMAN IS WEARING SNOW BOOTS IN TEXAS IN APRIL!” And now, as I preach to myself, I must remember the same.
That tattoo might be weird and not make sense to me, but I’m sure that’s not how the recipient felt about it when they got it. That shirt might be buttoned up two buttons too high, but she or he chose that number of buttons to button and who am I to judge? Or CARE, for that matter?
I think what I’ve learned here is that I may never know true confidence in these areas until I learn to stop worrying about other people’s choices. Accept it. There it is. Just accept it.
Actually, I’m thinking about the things I don’t understand about some people and I’m realizing how hard it’s going to be to just accept certain things. So, I’m going to learn to accept without understanding. That’s better. It’s like agreeing to disagree, but better because I’M going to be better for it in the end.
Ugh…this is stressful already. But I want confidence so badly – the kind that a forty-year old should have earned by now. I’ll let you know how it goes…this might take some falling down and getting up.