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)
This next self(ish)-improvement challenge is way less selfish than the rest. And it’s not one I planned on assigning myself when this A-Z challenge month started: I’m going to stop drinking.
I know…it sorta feels like I just started! I didn’t drink in high school – Not (only) because it’s illegal, but because I hadn’t met a drink I liked yet. And in high school and early college, you kinda just have to accept what someone else is willing to illicitly provide you. I did, however, learn to hold a drink in my hand. I would accept a beer or a Bartles & Jaymes so that I didn’t have to go through the complicated turning-down-a-drink exchange, and then I would just hold it. I might take a teeny tiny sip and try not to wince if I thought someone was watching, but that was it.
Then I discovered the good drinks. But you had to get out of your house and go somewhere where they make them. And then you have to pay for them. So that was rare.
Then I got a divorce and had lots of time and nobody keeping track of my finances (including me. another story.) I went to Greek Bros. an average of two weekdays for Happy Hour and usually at least once over the weekend with friends or my band.
Then I moved here and stopped all that nonsense. I married a man who makes the best drinks and is happy to make them. And he gladly does a couple of times a week.
Then I learned how to make them myself. Not a good thing.
Last night, at a 40th birthday GNO, I had too many. Yada yada yada, I woke up this morning knowing what I needed to do…Just stop.
I’m not saying I’m never drinking again, and I’m not setting an end date. But I do know that it’s easier to be the one who says Thanks But I Don’t Drink than to only have one.
It’s a perfect storm right now, really…trying to clear my mind, get into shape, practice all this self-discipline I’ve never had before, save money, and I’m not stressing about my work like I was since I know I’m half-way out tha do’.
So here’s to tea and all the money and calories I’m about to save. You margarita drinkin’ hooligans can have ’em all to yourselves. Cheers!
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 🙂
The challenge said “A to Z”, doesn’t sound so hard to me.
Twenty-six days of blogging – I blog twenty-six times a day in my head. But maybe – maybe – that’s the challenge…ONLY twenty-six things to blog about.
I read the challenge, contemplated, and accepted.
Cocky. Sometimes I pretend I’m confident.
Acceptance means commitment. Acceptance means challenge. Acceptance means a schedule. Acceptance means I could fail.
I accepted a new job last week (haven’t told my boss yet). But I’ve committed. I’ve been challenged. I now have a schedule. And I could fail.
So just as I accepted this A-Z poetry/blog challenge, I accepted a job that will make me have to plan every day again, deal with something new every day again, and put a huge part of myself out there for judgment, scrutiny, and personal and professional evaluation every day again.
But that’s what I’ve missed. So here I am – Challenge Accepted.
“Contemplation, concentration, anticipation, revelation…”
Lines from a Coastal Bend B-side non-hit (not that any of our other songs have made it onto the FM dial, but still). A line our song-writer-leader-producer Tim wrote for me to sing. I’m quite proud of the final cut of the song, but the morose nature of his creation certainly isn’t a sing-along that’ll win over new fans at your local bar…
It came to mind just now as I’m trying to write a mission statement for my life – an assignment given to me by my boss after I shared (under duress) with her the fact that I wasn’t sure I was cut out for this job and that maybe I should go back the classroom.
Then, sitting next to Danette in writing group – who showed me a post about Coastal Bend (my band) – I couldn’t help but get stuck on these lyrics (just be glad these aren’t the ones I decided to tattoo on my hip in an earlier state of duress).
After reassuring me that I AM the right person for this job (…and other flattering things I’ll get into later), my boss asked me to do two things before making a decision – one of which was to write my own personal mission statement. She wants to see it when I’m done, and we’ll analyze whether it’s the mission statement of a teacher or that of a curriculum specialist.
I’ve written one draft already and deleted it because it was quite contrived to fit my current mood. I always seem to connect lyrics to songs to how I’m feeling – and then proceed to sing loudly so that all the land is on my page – so I feel like the place to actually, and honestly start, is with these lyrics. “Contemplation, concentration, anticipation, revelation” sums up what I love about people and teaching and my job and what I want to do and get better at and shout from the mountaintop.
Please ignore the fact that the name of the song I’m quoting is “Waste of Time”. The line from a Coastal Bend song that I DO have tattooed on me is “Let Me Show You How to Fly”…which would be much more appropriate for my Mission Statement 1.0.
I believe my earthly “job” is to inspire. Though my content skills may be surpassed by others, there is something about the transference of attitude, desire, and sound philosophy that intrigues me. It is the one element common to all of my jobs and hobbies that I think about night and day…How is what I am doing going to inspire others? It motivates me to push myself in ways that nothing else will. I haven’t mastered this art, but I long to more than any other professional goal.
Stay tuned. This will get better. Otherwise, I think it tells me I have a career in a commune somewhere where Becca teaches Yoga and I close the day with an inspirational quote worthy of Daily Affirmations with Stuart Smalley.
I’m not sure exactly how many steps forward I’ve made this week (a lot), and I’m even less sure how to quantify the steps backward I’ve made, but I’m hoping through all of the efforts and disasters that I’m at LEAST one step ahead of where I started.
Much like in football, it’s difficult to measure and celebrate your successes when other things – in completely different areas – have gone so, so wrong. Let’s start with the positives:
I’M PUBLISHING MY BOOK!!!! Hallelujah, Praise Jesus, I’m doing something with this story after 10 years. I don’t know why I have these blocks up in front of some of the things that mean the most to me, but it’s been like the birth of a baby after a long, long pregnancy (I guess). I “purchased” a publishing team with a great reputation, particularly with the subject matter that I’m touching.
I FINISHED THE CAMPER BATHROOM! Not nearly as gratifying as the book, but it sure makes going to the bathroom fun. For me. It’s probably a little girly for the three males in my house, but I think camping is pretty masculine itself, and I get dirty and smelly like boys, so at least my bathroom will be pretty 🙂 And I’m pretty much the only one who doesn’t pee on trees anyway.
MY PIANO LESSON SERVICES ARE ON CRAIGSLIST! Again, not really worthy of ALL CAPS, but I’m sticking with a theme here. I realize that if I pick up four or five more students with this I will be a little busier than I like, but I can’t quit my job until I have everything ready to go in other areas so I can just slip the job out from underneath and it’ll be like, “whoa, girl, you’ve got so much going on, you really had to quit that job thing.”
It’s much more difficult to acknowledge the negative things that have happened (duh). (1) I think I’ve lost two of the piano students that I had just started the summer. Their schedule was funky, and mine’s been too funky to be that flexible…They haven’t said they’ve quit, but I know the signs. (2) I’ve gained a solid three-four pounds. You may laugh, but if you’re laughing you’re probably not 5’2. And I know exactly why – I haven’t woken up early enough to do much exercise, and I’ve been eating more carbs than a carbivore…I blame the Astros and allergies. (3) There is dust on most of the surfaces in my house, there is [folded] laundry on everything with legs in my living room, and the dishes in the sink might be from more than just last night.
Those things may not sound bad to some people, I realize that. But these are three things that I obsess about. Yes, I obsess. Compared to my hot husband, I obsess about everything. But compared to most, I think I am among the “normal”. I obsess about people I feel like I’ve let down – one of the biggest drag-you-down feelings I can think of. I obsess about my weight – I’ve been overweight before, and I don’t care what doctors say about the number on the scale…one pound quickly turns to two which quickly turns to thirteen, and thirteen is to a short person what fifty is to the rest of you. I obsess about my house because, well, I like it clean and picked up and I don’t like it dirty and messy. They say that the organization of your house/office is an outward display of the state of your mind (chaos vs. structure). But while I know my mind is waaaaay more scattered and disorganized than most, I find peace and sanity in a clean, organized house. [Cue Jack Motley’s folksong “Who the Hell are ‘They’?]
After further review, I’ve realized that my body feels too tired and carbed out to show how freakin’ happy I am about the book, the camper bathroom, the piano ad, and my hot husband. But just so you know, I’m stoked. The call on the field has been confirmed.
So I noticed something this week, and it is the reason I felt like I needed to post something tonight.
I texted my good friend Danette mostly because we haven’t made contact in a while, and she’s one of my most ambitious friends. I told her I had started a blog – blamed it on what is likely a mid-life crisis – to which she texted, “Yay!! Mid-life crises can lead to all kinds of great stuff :)” And I thought, Wow…what a waste it would be to have a mid-life crisis and get nothing out of it! I don’t want a new life in the way that I think most people do…I love my hot husband, I love my home and family and my ten-year-old car, I know that spending money won’t make me happier, and I’m still a generally happy person regardless of my career conundrum.
I think what I’m most dissatisfied with is the fact that I pursued what I thought would be the pinnacle of my career, and the further I get indoctrinated to it, the less I feel like my specific gifts and talents are valued. And I feel most valued when I am doing those things that make other people say, “Wow, you have such a special gift!”
Thinking back, I do think my childhood spoiled me to that. I was/am an only child, and I grew up in a small town where creativity was valued but not exercised by most. So I stood out. Or at least I felt like I did. My freshman year in high school, I knew that most of my friends WEREN’T rearranging their parents’ living room or practicing piano or creating oil paintings for their dads’ offices. They weren’t dreaming of moving to NYC to play for Broadway musicals and enjoy a career in interior design (I do drive a Nissan Pathfinder, which was what I wrote in my Senior scrapbook would be my dream car. Score.)
To my point – I don’t make moves in the direction of my dreams when I feel satisfied with my present; it didn’t occur to me to go to college and earn more than minimum wage until I was pregnant with my daughter and realized that didn’t amount to much money for two people, and then I completed a four-year degree in two. My last blog post was Tuesday – I proclaimed that I would sketch out my children’s book, and I did – all of it – finally. My hot husband was at band rehearsal and I was feeling sorry for myself. Plus, he’s amazing about praising my productivity while he’s gone. I sketched out 13 pages, commissioned an illustrator, and explored my publishing options. But Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and today, life has been good all around. No authority has pushed me in the wrong direction, and work has been pretty gratifying. And I’ve done nothing toward my book, my piano clientele, or my painting “business”. (I did start on the camper reno today – pics to come…)
So I’m blogging because obviously when not provoked by dissatisfaction with my job, my strongest accelerator of action is to put in writing that I’m going to do something. Blogging has become a way to dare myself into action…put it out there, and you have to do it or you were wrong, and I hate being wrong.
So here are the goals for the week: Amid two Open Houses, one band parent meeting, a hair appointment, and shopping and packing for a Labor Day camping trip, I will – Nay, I MUST – edit and upload pages one through four of my book and enter Phase II of camper reno (Phase I – countertops and shower curtain – was completed today, Phase II is painting the walls.)
So thanks, Blog, for being the next best thing to a bad day at work. Together, you and Bad Days at Work might actually get us to where we want to be. 🙂