Friday, August 21, 2009

Currently, I'm in love with...

...Vyvienne Long.

Honestly, I could listen to her cover of Seven Nation Army all. day. long. However, there's not a good video of her doing that online, so this is my next favorite.

In other news, there is too much I could blog about right now, but I can't really get my thoughts together well enough to write coherently about it all. Maybe soon.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Thank you, God, for another year

Today, I celebrated my birthday. From midnight last night through all of my day today, life has been good! For the past few years, I haven't felt much like celebrating, but this year, for some reason, feels like a good time to really be thankful for my life, for who I am, for where I am, and for those around me. I am so blessed.

Tonight, I knew the cloud cover would prevent me from enjoying my best birthday present ever-- the Perseids meteor shower. Every year, it peaks on my birthday. And every year (for at least the past 8 or 9 years), I set my alarm to wake me in the wee hours of the morning, go outside, lay on the ground looking up, and just soak in the awesomeness of lights streaking through the sky. It is so amazing, and such a special, amazing way to celebrate each year-- better than fireworks! But the past two days have been rainy off and on, and the sky is cloudy, and I knew I wouldn't be able to see the gorgeous streaks across the night sky. But somehow, it didn't feel like my birthday without it.

So, just now, bare-footed and wearing only pajamas, I went out in front of my house, crawled up onto the hood of our minivan, and sprawled out spread-eagle on my back, looking up at the still-beautiful cloudy sky. It was dark and muddy, and I couldn't see anything. But still, I knew. It's my birthday, and that means that just on the other side of this blanket of thick vapor, it is there-- my meteor shower-- and God is good. Even when I can't see it, I know it is there-- my meteor shower, my good, my blessing-- and knowing it exists (even when I can't see it) affects me from head to toe, filling every cell with a resonating thrill of inspiration and awe. The engine was still warm under me, and the night air was slightly cool on my toes and arms, and somewhere, just beyond what I was able to see, the most spectacular gift was there, for me, reminding me that this year, like all others, God is looking out for me, blessing me, protecting me, and never leaving me.

It's always out there, you know-- our Good-- whether we can see it or not. Life just works that way.

Happy birthday to me. :-)

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Interpersonal skills are not my friend.

Imagine with me for a minute that a person exists with a tremendous natural gift for music which has been honed through years of practice, education, and experience. This person has a fair amount of talent, and her friends often comment that she is able to find the most unusual, but beautiful, harmonies for even unexpected melodies. Over the years, she has educated herself in all things musical, both with self-education found in her hours of practice and listening to the beautiful music of others, as well as a smattering of formal lessons and education along the way. She finds the beauty in almost every song she hears, no matter how unusual it may be, and her mind is constantly filled with some song or another-- replaying something beautiful or haunting that she's recently heard, or imagining up some melody of her own to keep her company.

She loves to have time to play or sing, but is still enough of a technician to easily read almost all of the sheets of music placed before her. In a symphony setting, playing off the same sheet of music with a group of friends equally committed to technical integrity, and with similar appreciation for musical beauty, she shines as a musician, combining both skill and artistry, enjoying the experience, leaving the concert full of energy, awe, and joy. Playing on her own, she is even more able to be lost in the experience, transformed by it, grown through it. With a small group of close friends, she's even able to improvise, lose sight of the technical details and just make music, play, share in the common experience of joy through music, no sheet music required.

But taken out of her comfort zone, placed into a group of people she is only now getting to know, things are more difficult. Attempting to get lost in the free-flow of playing together, she's never quite sure what she's supposed to be doing, not having the benefit of a few years of jamming with each other to draw upon. She knows she can fall back on using the sheet music and technical know-how as her cheat sheet, but then she's so busy following along that she misses out on much of the passion and beauty of the music, and leaves more mentally exhausted than emotionally refreshed. And it sucks, because she knows she's really damn good at music-- technically and casually-- and should be better than this.

And she knows that she can read people like a sheet of music, and craves social outlets, and loves experiencing that connection, no matter how momentary, or realizing that someone else is playing along with you, joining you in the joy of it all, and that the few of you are lost together, for the moment, in each others' company, and it is wonderful. It's wonderful, that is, when you know who you're playing with, and there's a comfort level there that precludes any need to censor or fear, and you can just put away the technical notes penciled into the margins of the sheet music, and Play. Be. Live. Love.

But for whatever reason, playing with the new crowd, she can't seem to get her footing to feel safe enough to put that stupid sheet music away, quit trying to figure out where things are going, and stop herself from over-analyzing every comment, every glance, every omission, for clues as to where things really stand (since most people, if we'll admit it, aren't often very transparent or straightforward about our intentions or opinions). It's exhausting.

Maybe I will become a hermit. Maybe I'll allow myself to slowly start turning into one of those crazy old cat ladies who lives in the house with the darkened windows, about whom all the neighbor kids tell ghost stories, and whose friendly "hello" to the kids as they pass by is enough to send them scattering in fear because she's just so damned WEIRD. Maybe I'll wear the same creepy gold lamé sweatsuit every day, with matching sequined slippers, and sip appletinis on my front porch all day long, every day, stopping only occasionally to cat-call the lawn guys. Maybe I'll just hang out with my husband, and do the best I can with my kids, and accept that in spite of my intense craving for friendship, that I am just destined to be a recluse.

Or maybe, if I'm lucky, things will get better. I just want some normal damn friends. Friends who are in similar places in their lives. Friends I don't have to keep secret. Friends who tell me what's going on so I don't have to intuit. Friends who treat each other with integrity and kindness.