Last night I earned a few more “Mom Points”. Did I bandage a skinned knee? Find a lost homework assignment? Help with an award-winning diorama? No, I have done all of those things in the past, but I’m talking about one step further: I found a rendition of the Doctor Who theme for tuba.
Admittedly, I was looking online for something else at the time. My youngest plays tuba and is always looking for “cool” stuff to play on an instrument many feel is uncool. When I saw the site with all the TV and movie themes on it, all for tuba, I knew I had hit a goldmine, and when I discovered that it included Doctor Who I took a mental bow and pushed “print”.
Lately our home has become very “Whovian”. Any Saturday night will find my second and third daughters parked in front of BBC America, being wowed by a man in a bow tie and fez who travels through space and time in a bright blue police call box that is much bigger inside than it looks. It’s a wildly creative series, with a history of good writers and surprising twists and turns, and makes for some lively and intelligent discussions on the relative merit of plot direction, plausibility, and possible outcomes. I’m not quite up on all the lingo, so they find that they have to educate me.
“Daaaah-lik, Mom. Not Day-lik! And no, that one’s not a Companion.”
I nod and try to soak it in, if only to seem a little less un-hip to my kids. I am sympathetic to their attachment to it and we have driven in record time from my mother-in-law’s house three counties away in order to catch the mid-season finale, planned a birthday party for a Friday instead of a Saturday to avoid conflicts, and the plan for Halloween this year seems to include some sort of Weeping Angel costume for the both of them. It was a toss-up between that and having to build a plywood dalek they could somehow push around the neighborhood, so I may have dodged the bullet there.
Soon we will be going thrift store shopping for clothes we can paint gray and contemplating the best ways to make skin and hair look like granite or marble. A chance for more “Mom Points”, perhaps?
Well, this is awkward.
“What happened to your blog?”
“Why don’t you post anymore?”
I must admit that when I first created “One Bird At A Time” and made the decision to post every day I worried about running out of material to write about. Luckily, things just kept happening and I found plenty I wanted to turn over in my mind, making sense of as I filled the page. Things are still happening, perhaps even more than before, but the effort of examination may have become too much. Meeting my daily goal became a little obsessive, and I pre-planned posts for days I knew I’d be busy. Sometimes I wrote when I needed to be doing other things.
I also found that writing so publicly is a balancing act. I chose to write about things as they affected me, yet I tried to avoid bruising others. Walking on familial eggshells put a bit of a damper on some of the things I could write comfortably about. The kicker about trying to be so diplomatic was that the entries that helped me most were the ones that were somewhat controversial. It’s hard to both please yourself and not embarrass those around you when you enter the blogging world.
I liked seeing my thoughts blossom and finding out what life meant to me. I appreciated friends commenting and sharing insights, whether it was a hearty “Yes! That’s how I feel too!” or pointing out another side to my story. Re-reading old posts reinforced lessons learned so I wouldn’t repeat mistakes and let me look back and see exactly when I turned a particular corner.
When I broke my daily streak at the same time that my life got busier with end of school year activities and plans, I did what was easiest. I quit writing. No one to worry or offend or embarrass, and writing takes time that I couldn’t find, at least the way I do it. I like to let it stew on the page for a while, eventually stirring the the ideas I start with into just the right dish with just the right flavor.
Will I get back to regularly posting? I hope so, with a little more kindness and understanding toward myself. It’s less effort to let life flow past, largely untasted, unexamined. After all, that’s what I seem to have been doing most of my adult life. Lately, however, I find phrases and ideas popping into my head as I try to fall asleep; posts writing themselves in my subconscious. I miss writing.
I took the path of least resistance, and that has made all the difference.
Four days should be long enough to name a little kitten, shouldn’t it? After waiting patiently for the girls to shift toward a decision, I set an arbitrary deadline of nine o’clock last night, just to try to move the process along. The time limit came and went, through heated discussions, hurt feelings, and a few shortlisted white-bread names that nobody was really ecstatic about. Even threatening to name him “Spitvalve” if they couldn’t settle on anything before then didn’t seem to light a fire under anybody.
I don’t know why, but it seems that it’s important to pick the right name for the little ball of fluff. Something that shows some creativity, some character, something the kitten can grow into a cat with and still be dignified. My daughters spent a little while discussing how a name is something that molds the animal. If it’s a good name, it will be a good pet. Personally, I think the name ends up fitting as they get older not because they grow into it or live up to it, but rather because we spend all this time picking something that will fit the personality or looks that we can perceive already. The name doesn’t make the cat: the cat makes the name. This pet belongs to them, though, not me. Therefore it is their job to successfully name it, by whatever means necessary.
Everyone submitted some names for the list, then we all got to initial three of them. Any names without initials beside got tossed on the first round. On the second round, we only got two votes. On the third, we each got one. Of course, by this time only the ordinary names had survived. Anything with any character or personality had been vetoed by one or the other of them. Compromise only gets so far before it becomes either defeat or victory for someone. As long as only two of the three girls agree on any given name, there are winners and losers.
After waiting all evening for the white smoke to come up the Vatican chimney, I conceded defeat and sent the youngest to bed without a clear consensus. We may have to start with fresh suggestions and see where we are tonight after another day of wrangling.
I’m getting tired of referring to him as “kitty” – Spitvalve is starting to sound quite good.
It’s supposed to be good to stretch and attempt things that are beyond what you think you can do. Sometimes that involves noshing a bit of humble pie.
“Come on out and read the lead book. The regular guy will be absent that night, but we’re just going to read through some stuff. No worries.” I used to play lead, many moons ago. How hard could it be? I’ve been practicing lots, in pretty good shape, regularly playing with a different swing band, though lower parts – okay, I’ll do it. It’ll be good for me. I need more “face on horn” time.
After being welcomed graciously by the rest of the section last night, I was pointed at three huge binders of music and clued in to which book was which. Off we went, calling numbers and plowing through music. The first tune was a lead trumpet solo, of course, as were the next couple. As the night went on, the lead parts got higher and higher. I made it through, but I could tell I was just treading water and keeping my head up. Granted, it was all sight-reading and stuff I hadn’t seen before, but I was hoping to have it go a little smoother, maybe make a good impression as well as advance my “being bold” campaign.
That’s where the humble pie comes in, of course. Hubris. Thinking I could step in and lead, where it turns out I am a better utility player. The line between stretching past my present abilities and being able to deliver the goods that are needed for a job is a balancing act. I maintained, and with practice, could probably contribute to the group, but I went home feeling pretty off kilter. My faith in my abilities had been tested, and left wanting.
Back to the practice studio.
I took a day off from writing yesterday and I was watching the heavens and waiting for the lightning to strike all day. For the past five or six months I have been requiring myself to write and post daily, but yesterday I didn’t make it. I know myself. If I break a streak, I have been known to give up on it, so I was being very careful to post. Some days it was a stretch to find something to write about, but that was part of the effort required: to examine what was going on around me and discover something to focus on.
So now that the streak is broken, what to do? Well, I was having a hard time coming up with a post today, too. I had already broken my promise to myself. What would one day more matter? No one would care anyway – no one but me, that is. With that realization, I stilled myself enough to notice that the thing at the heart of today was that I had not written and posted yesterday. What better thing for me to analyze, then?
Why didn’t I post? I could have found some time and energy to do so, even though I played trumpet at three Easter services and had a long, leisurely, luxurious brunch out with family after. I could have found something to write about from my pile of half-formulated posts in my pending file. I thought about doing so a number of times, as I went through my day, with various degrees of concern. Earlier in the day, I felt anxious about not having already written something to have ready. After all, I knew last week that the day would be busy. Later on, though, when there actually was time to sit down and think, I felt very peaceful about it. I was happy, and content, and fulfilled. Anything I would have written would have been forced. I gave myself permission to skip a day, even though it meant breaking a streak.
So here I am, back on the horse again. No less happy, but still enjoying writing, and sharing, and most of all, the act of examining my world.
My brain is going, and I hope it has a very nice trip. I told myself I didn’t have rehearsal last night, and I totally believed myself. There was just one problem with that……. I was wrong.
It wasn’t my swiss-cheese memory this time. I remembered it was Wednesday, and I knew I usually had rehearsal, but there is one Wednesday a month that the group doesn’t meet and I had it in my head that this was the one. Ummm, nope. That would be next week, of course, so I miss two weeks of playing in one of my very favorite groups. Punishment enough, I suppose, though my trumpet section buddies probably won’t let me forget it for a while.
Along with a busy and varied schedule comes the opportunity to miss things in proportionate frequency. Most of the time I am on task. When I am not, I need to learn to roll with the punches, certainly taking responsibility for missed events or deadlines, but not beating myself up for them. Lessons learned and all that.
It didn’t help that my section-mates were waving from the dock as my brain pulled away. At least I could provide some amusement from afar as they sent messages to me and even posted a picture of some of the music I was missing out on.
Gee, thanks, guys. I miss you too.
It is April, and looks like February in my snowy yard. My hope of a warm day is on hold, but I know it’s coming. With enough patience and perseverance (and perhaps a snow shovel), I’ll get to what I want: warm days in which I can wear shorts and not have to have a jacket when I go out.
Things sometimes stalemate or plateau, no matter how much you want them or how hard you are working. Often if I’m trying to lose weight, it just gets to a point where I’m still working as hard as I did, but seeing no results. I stay at the same weight, no matter how much I am active or how well I eat. Then, usually all of a sudden, the weight starts dropping off again, as though a logjam has broken.
It seems to be the same with my playing and search for gigs. I am in a little area of static stability at the moment, but now is not the time to give up. If I keep on doing what I am doing, even ramping it up a little, sooner or later whatever is holding me up will release, and I’ll be moving again.
It takes more effort to push through what seems to be a delay. Perhaps that is so that if I have enough desire and resolve to not give up, I’ll be moving at a greater strength and velocity when it clears.