Thursday, December 22, 2011

Is This How It's Going to Be?

Woke at midnight last night after a couple hours of sleep. Stared at the clock for a few minutes, then grabbed my phone and went to sit on Ridley's bed, peeking out the window at the location on the street where someone would come to throw rocks at my windows. Sat there for almost 10 minutes, then gave up and went back to bed, wide awake. Lay there working crossword puzzles and playing games on my phone until I fell back to sleep at 2:00.

Tonight I have a concert and will be driving home from Cleveland from 10:15 to 11:30. That's very late for me without a good night's sleep in front of it.

I told the Jazzman about my idea for a sign: "How would you feel if someone treated your grandma this way?" He suggested I was pretty silly to think these Very Sick People possess a heart.

I wonder—even if it never occurs again—how long it will take me to relax, to be able to fall asleep easily, to not wake up in the middle of the night. To feel safe in my own home?!

Didn't your mama teach you better than this?!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Under Attack

My house is under attack. Over the course of eighteen days, some person or persons have thrown rocks through a living room window on three separate occasions. The first time could have been some random incident. But when it happened again six days later with a large rock and a chunk of concrete instead of just a pretty, polished rock, it didn't feel so random. Then when those projectiles were followed twelve days later with a 30-pound landscaping boulder, it felt like an attack.

I feel like I'm being held prisoner in my home. I have a hard time going to sleep. I feel depressed all the time. I want to sit and cry.

We were planning a winter mini-vacation to a warm and sunny location. I needed that getaway after all my December concerts. Now there will be no getaway. We have to stay here and protect hearth and home.

When my son, daughter-in-law and I lived in Mt. Pleasant, DC, our cars were broken into twice and the house broken into once in a six-month period. Our beloved Rottweiler, Justice, scared the robber out of the house before he had a chance to grab too many of our possessions (to sell for drug money). After those occurrences, we sold the house in two days for $15,000 over the asking price and moved to the other side of Rock Creek.

Now I live on the north side of Youngstown in an economic depression and I don't have quite so many options. Sure, I could put my house on the market. In two or three years it might sell for half of its market value.

I'm angry. But everything in me says the way to combat it is not to fight back, not to aggravate whatever troubled person is attacking me.

I want to post a hand-lettered on the strip of lawn next to the now-boarded-up windows saying, "I'm just a poor old widowed lady. I'm somebody's grandma. How would you feel if somebody treated your grandma the way you're treating me?"

On other days, I want to post an even larger sign that says, "Hey, Asshole. Quit it. Leave me the fuck alone."

Unfortunately, I don't think either sign would do any good. Regarding the first sign, the person(s) probably has no conscience. And the second sign? They probably never got far enough in school to learn to read!

I have no conclusion to this post. I'm sad. I'm depressed.

And yet, I'm glad to be in Youngstown. I'm where I'm supposed to be and I have a very good life, living with the Great Love of My Life, spending lots of time with Beloved Grandchildren, and singing behind the Best Band in the Land.

Even if some Asshole Unknown is pelting rocks at my home on an irregular basis.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Ways to Communicate

Sometimes I feel put upon that my communication with my mother is a one-way street. The last time she picked up the phone to call my number was about a year-and-a-half ago. So that proves she does know my number, right?

But I must look at myself. I almost never call my children. Tyler and I email and text frequently through each day, as I work for him. Jaci and I see each other's posts on Facebook. We text when we need something from each other. Just call to chat? No, our lives are too busy for that, and she has friends for that function.

Scott and I are more remote. Our primary method of communication is to follow each other's posts on Facebook and to comment on those posts when we are so moved. We see each other's tweets, and—on the rare occasion we seek input from each other—we text.

Is this merely a fact of this decade? Are we not unusual, but rather the norm?

I think the fact that my mother never calls me is a self-centered trait. But am I also self-centered because I don't communicate more regularly with my children?

I hope not. More than that, I hope they don't think so!

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Discovery of a New-to-Me Author

Before we left for our trip to Ireland, I asked PianoLady, an avid reader, for some reading suggestions. She gave me several suggestions, I found and downloaded them, and started listening. No joy! As you know, I want content I can get lost in. I want content that will grab me and make me not want to turn off my MP3 player. I'm not a good book club member—I don't want to analyze and pick apart a novel. I want to escape!

When I told her, six weeks later, that I just didn't love her suggestions, she was shocked. This is the first time her suggestions have failed with me.

When I had my knitter friends over for dinner a month ago, I told them this story and again asked for suggestions. Concert month (i.e. December) was coming, and I needed something to ease me through all my Cleveland commutes.

One woman—I think it was my friend Melinda—suggested the author Kate Atkinson. I went onto Audible and searched for her work. For reasons I no longer remember, I chose "When Will There Be Good News" for my Kate Atkinson starter.

Oh. Wow.

I love.Love.LOVE this woman's work!!! I am easily smitten with wordsmiths, and this author is a wordsmith par excellence! She turns phrases and crafts similes in a manner I can only hope to someday emulate.

I finished "When ..." yesterday, and plan to start it again. I loved it and am afraid I missed a few things, so want to hear it again. Then I'll go back to Audible and find more. (And the local library's MP3 shelf, just in case I can find a free download of this work.)

Kate Atkinson has been added to my Most Favored Author. Have you read her? What do you think?

Saturday, December 03, 2011

It's the Most Wonderful Time . . .

Or, it's Christmas again. As a musician, I spend my Decembers providing holiday joy and magic and concertgoers.

Last weekend I did two concerts with a local bass-baritone who has progressed very nicely in the world of opera. He's my younger son's age and is a delightful guy. We have great fun putting together a concert filled with holiday music, poems, readings, jokes and sing-a-longs. He's very secure in himself, and that enables me to just close my eyes and have a ball at the piano.

On Sunday the Cleveland set of concerts begins. From December 4 through December 23, I will sing in two rehearsals and nine concerts. And I will enjoy every minute of it. But I will also admit to being tired.

And, when it's all over, the Jazzman and I might just find someplace to spend a few days where it's warm and—hopefully—sunny.

Probably the best Christmas present I'll get is the recent knowledge that my older son has a girlfriend. He's such a unique and eccentric human being, and has been all his life. And now there's someone with whom he shares loving feelings. I'm happy and relieved. Everyone deserves to be as happy as I am!

And a Fa la la to you.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Thinking about gifting. Or, For Doug.

The adults in the Jazzman's family draw names every Thanksgiving for Christmas gifting. Financial limits are set, and the holiday becomes manageable in this economically horrific era.

One niece's significant other drew my name. And, to prevent trauma, I thought instead of just double-checking my Amazon wish list, I'd stop to think about the things I enjoy.

Many holiday gifters wrinkle their noses at gift cards. Not I!!! Whoever invented gift cards should receive the Nobel Peace Prize. With gift cards, everybody is happy. (Except those Scrooges who think they're not a real gift.)

So here's my list, which readers other than Doug might find interesting if they are interested in any of the pastimes I'm into. I hope you'll find some new treasure trove to feed your passion.

Doug - A gift card to any of these sites would be greatly welcomed (she wrote, smiling.
Or you can just visit my Amazon wish list.

Webs, America's Yarn Store
Jimmy Beans Wool
Yarn Paradise, my guilty getaway whenever I'm in Asheville

Waechter's Fine Fabrics, my other Asheville guilty getaway
Marcy Tilton's Art Barn Marcy is one of my teachers/mentors, and she carries some fabulous fabric and silk screens that I love to use.
Thai Silks, in Los Altos, CA, carries the most affordable and highest quality silks I've ever found.

Fabric Dyeing
Pro Chemical and Dye carries the dyes I use on silks and wools.
And Dharma Trading carries the dyes as well as scarves and silks.

Beading & Jewelry Making
Rings & Things - I sat next to one of their employees in a class at Bead Fest Philly, and this store carries everything one could imagine for beading.
Bead Q is not too far out of the way on my way to rehearsals in Cleveland. And they carry supplies for enameling, which I've newly found an interest in.

That's probably enough to confuse Doug and amuse other readers.

Ho, ho, ho.

Heaven and the Lack Thereof

First, I apologize for saying nothing for over three weeks. I honestly don't know where the time goes.

Next, if you follow all my comings and goings to NC, I will report that my visit with Mother lasted 24 hours. I used impending rain as the excuse and got out as she was walking to dinner on the second day I was there. I have two statements to make about the visit: 1) She's doing remarkably well; and 2) There's no cure for narcissism. I'm hopeful that I won't have to make that trip again until March.

And now—ta da—a current post!

I heard an interview with Carolyn S. Briggs on one or another talk show I listen to during my workdays. She wrote "Higher Ground: A Memoir of Salvation Found and Lost" in 2002. She adapted it to a screenplay, and the movie was released this year, and was nominated for the Grand Jury Award at the Sundance Film Festival. I'm waiting for it to hit Netflix or Amazon.

Her interview captured my interest because of my own lack of relationship with faith, or with Christianity, or with religion. Who knows what to call it these days?!

Ms. Briggs is five years younger than I, but much of her religious life in the 70s paralleled that of mine in the same time period. There were praise sessions and home churches and speaking in tongues and other charismatic, evangelical manifestations. The major difference, though, was that she seemed to fully embrace the practices and beliefs. I, on the other hand, went along.

The pattern of much of my life has been to go along. Go along to get along. Go along so people might like you. Go along to ensure a stable and accepted place in the world. The bottom line: do anything to avoid being given away again. And so I gave myself away again and again and again.

Because our life during my first marriage was so wrapped up in church, I lost all my friends when I left my husband to regain any vestige of sanity that I ever had. In that environment, one doesn't leave her husband, regardless of how miserable she's been or how many times she's tried to escape by any means. Oh, but maybe they weren't really friends.

An example of how little I was known or understood by these people occurred after I reconciled with my husband following a three-month separation. I came back because I missed my children so terribly, and I thought he had woken up to his part in causing the separation.

During that brief period we were back together, I attended a women's bible study and prayer group in Ft. Worth, hosted by a woman in the church we had been attending. The bible study included foot washing.

<Sidebar On>
As I was growing up in the Seventh-day Adventist church, communion was observed four times a year ("quarterly") and always included a foot washing ceremony. ("Rite"? "Ritual"? "Procedure"? Whatever.) I always hated it. It seemed so artificial and contrived to me. I didn't like it any better as an adult. What was the point? But then, I've never had any use for the communion ritual, either. It's merely something we're told to do. And I've always been averse to being told what to do.
<Sidebar Off>

As I was washing the feet of a woman named Cookie (oh, the things one can still remember 30 years later), she said to me, "I hope you can be as gentle with your sons as you have been with me."

<Rant On>
Whuck? Woman, you know nothing about me. You've never been inside my home. You've never seen me with my children except in the artificial environment of two-hours-a-week church and occasional church-related social events. You don't know what it's like to run a family where the husband won't look for a real job besides selling Amway. You don't know what it's like to live with a "loving" husband who tells you that you shouldn't even take an aspirin for your many—and sometimes daily—headaches because God is trying to teach you something. You don't know what it's like to have been emotionally abused by that "loving" husband for ten years.
<Rant Off>

Who knows what my husband told Cookie about me. He certainly didn't tell her anything about "us". When we were just a few weeks into our marriage and I realized I had made the biggest mistake of my life, I begged him to go to marriage counseling. He told me, "We don't talk about things like that to strangers." Well, we didn't talk about it among ourselves either, so there you go. And there the marriage went after ten miserable years.

I enjoyed Ms. Briggs' writing. I especially appreciated how she bared her soul in writing this book. I wish she had spent a little more time dealing with how she coped with her new Weltanschauung once she broke away from the hyper-religionism. I felt that 90% of the book dealt with the religion, and very little with the aftermath. But it's her book. When I write my book, I can handle it the way I want.

I look forward to watching the movie, as I feel it will help/force me to look inside myself a little farther.

And digressing—my sister-in-law said something to me recently about praying for someone, and paused before saying it. Then she said, "I know you don't agree with that."

What I agree with or believe or condone has not one thing to do with what you agree with or believe or condone. I salute your right to believe whatever resonates with you. But, at the same time, I cling for dear life to my right to believe whatever resonates with me.

You can believe in foot washing or communion or saying the rosary or smoking peyote or staying in bed with your bedmate on Sunday morning. You can believe in anything you want. And you can know for a surety that I will not tell you you're wrong.

But in the same vein, you owe me the respect and courtesy to not.not.not try to get me to relinquish my beliefs in order to adopt yours.

You may think you have all the answers, but—I assure you—you don't. I don't. Nobody does.

You have your beliefs, and that's all they are. Your beliefs.

If we go someplace after this existence (the topic for another post), we may or may not find out there what the correct answer was. And then again, maybe there's no correct answer at all.

We'll see . . .