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Most of the Talents Are Ones I Don’t Have

9 Oct

I have always wanted to play the piano. That’s not true — not always — but since being a teenager I have. I wanted to be at the bench, pounding away while singing into a microphone and making people want to dance (more Jerry Lee Lewis and less Tori Amos). Every time I hear Elton John, I see myself gingerly bringing “Honky Cat” to life. Exploiting all the jangly glory of those keys. On the softer side I hear Chopin and envision myself swaying passionately from side to side in a sweeping movement while being intertwined in the melody of “Fantasie Impromptu: Opus #66”. It’s closely related and only marginally tailed by my other dream of dancing. Without really thinking about it, my imagination’s eye starts rolling film of me — all bendy and powerful — dancing in the fashion of the 80’s “Fame” movie. It’s intense in my heart. Like the feeling you get when you start to really think about your favorite desert: it’s so good and so real you can almost taste it, but outside your power to create, or recreate.

My dancing career began and ended when I was six, though, on account of the high cost of lessons, and the work of taking me to a class (I also think my propensity for booty-shaking versus more ballet-type moves made my mother less motivated for me).

But the piano was always in the house. We always had our lovely, antique upright with a bench full of music. I spent a good deal of time playing around on it, and even had a lesson or two, but I backed slowly away. My sister was a masterful, self-trained pianist (still plays keys professionally), who could recreate Beethoven melodies on her own. In my elementary years I came under the impression that my instructor preferred teaching my sister (at this age I can’t recall if I “heard” her say that, or if I misinterpreted something else that was said), and I requested to no longer take lessons. I had such difficulty with my practice, that it seemed very plausible to me that I was equally difficult to teach. It seemed to disambiguate and simplify everyone’s life for me to definitively claim that I was not musically inclined, so I did, and so I’ve been.

It’s my nature to back away from other people’s passionate interests, or their lime-light. That’s not to say that I don’t eagerly leap into any unoccupied lime-light, but I find no pleasure in stealing another person’s thunder, as they say. I enjoy attention and recognition, but I don’t enjoy competition. The best way to avoid competition is to find my own — my very own — interests. Also, competing with my sister was paramount to competing with Beethoven himself, in my child’s mind: certain defeat.

As an adult, though, I just can’t deny that I love the piano. Maybe I’ll never get around to mastering that Chopin piece, but I believe I could learn enough to bring me satisfaction. I believe I could be good enough to sing along to. I’m not sure where to start…

With so many things I have this burning desire to “become…” but I just can’t see the first step. I’m tired of riding on the waves of life (like a flag tossed about by every wind), and only impulsively finding new adventures. I want to get There from Here, intentionally.

As for the dancing dream, I just need an empty warehouse and some awesome song blasting from the tape deck of my nearby VW.

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Skip This Post; I’m Just Exercising

7 Oct

The temperature became warmer as we traveled into the evening.  From the Cumberland Valley into the Shenandoah the temperature increased ten degrees, even though it was four hours later in the day, and into the evening.  The warmth seemed to beckon me and say, “welcome home; have a little extra summer”.  I drove in my VW with the baby, and the HD drove behind me with Young G.  The trip took two days (potty breaks and a nursing baby) until we ended up in Charleston.

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Addressing Anxiety

10 Feb

It’s been so long since I’ve written, but I miss coming to this journal. I’m certain that in a few years from now I will wish I had chronicled more of this deployment year, too. Perhaps I’ll write more as I begin to put it all into perspective.

Young G was looking at laminated photos of his father a couple of nights ago. In his broken-sentence style at twenty-five months old he said, “It’s fun… daddy home. He is workin.” The photos were of when my HD was home for two weeks in late September, and each depicted Young G with his father. Clearly my son remembered playing together, and the fun they had. Then he repeated to himself my answer for every “where’s daddy?” I hear: “He’s workin.”

We are at a friend’s house right now, and have come to the end of our stay with family. For the duration of this deployment – ten months so far – Young G and I have lived with family (mostly my mother’s and in-law’s home). It’s been a huge relief, obviously, to have had so much help. These grandparents have eagerly taken care of my son for me. The draining side is that it has made Parenting difficult, because I’m constantly under the scrutiny of a been-there-done-that (BTDT) mom. Not only that, but there were there and did that with either me or my husband. It gets fierce when I disagree with their methods, too.

The tension between gratitude and frustration creates anxiety.

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Aside

It’s already Tomorrow

30 Nov

It’s almost 6:00 in the morning, tomorrow, in Afghanistan right now. My HD is waking up to Thanksgiving now, in a place that is cold and monochrome. It’s a regular work day for him, too, and not a holiday. Not a day off. He is treating soldiers in a clinic the size of a walk-in closet. He’s lonely and has no one to hug. The friendly smiles of his battle-buddies shared over a cigar tomorrow night will be warmest dose of familial love he receives, same as any day. We’ll talk on the phone, of course, like we do every day, and I’ll remind him I miss him and that I am proud of him. He’ll tell me we’re one day closer and that he loves me. Then I’ll share a story of Young G’s glory and we’ll sign off.

It’s just another day for him.

I’ve spent all day cleaning my mother’s little beach cottage, and cooking in her newly-remodeled professional kitchen. We’ve made cornbread for stuffing, a cranberry mold, field peas with snaps, pie crusts, and a red-velvet cake.

I have so much to be thankful for! But for some reason all I can think about is my husband. As I sit at the stool in the kitchen, chopping pecans, my brain replays memories of him slipping his arm around my shoulders and kissing me on the cheek. “Family” is never supposed to be defined without including him, and yet here we are, separated.

My son doesn’t know what the word “home” means and he’ll be two in four weeks.

My mother used to tell me, “home is where your stuff is,” but that means a storage unit in Hawaii for me, which is neither where I nor my husband are today (or tomorrow, as the case may be).

“Home” is where We are, and so here I am, homeless, separated, and ungrateful because there is no “we” anywhere right now. Just me. and him. and an entire day long of this planet between us.

I don’t know what this war is about. I don’t know why Afghanistan matters. I certainly don’t know why our troops have to occupy the country with entire miniature cities of camps that they staff for an entire year at a time! But those troops have teeth, and they need good health to do their jobs, and my husband is prepared to aid them. For that I am extremely proud of him.

For their sakes I have sacrificed my house and home, too.

All we need are our arms and hands and lips

15 Sep

Usually when I feel this level of un-rest it’s not in expectation of anything real. I’ll get antsy to the point of paralysis, and my circulation will reduce to whatever is necessary to keep me alive. That’s what it’s like right now; my extremities are tingling, and all I want to do is eat Cheese Its and play Angry Birds. But I have a pretty extensive to-do list. Because this time — this restlessness — is not just for philosophical dilemmas. This time, it’s for a reason.

My dear HD is boarding a plane soon — a couple hours soon — or maybe a helicopter. I’m not sure how the first leg of his journey will begin. His ruck is packed and I doubt he’ll sleep at all. It’s mid-afternoon for me, but his flight takes off at midnight his time. He’ll hop from one country to another, and after about five days he’ll be with me.

I’m paralyzed with anticipation, despite how long my list is of things I want to do to prepare for him. Nothing will be enough. Everything will be wasted, too, though. Nothing is necessary. All we need are our arms and hands and lips.

My mind is dizzy. I’ve gotten quite comfortable with this single life. Not every day is hell, like it once was. Now he’ll be amongst us again. His voice in the air, his smell on my sheets, his touch on my skin. All this but for only a short time.

This really, truly is so much like being pregnant. I feel like I did when my labor was in the early stages. A rush of panic to prepare the last-minute, finishing touches, but a light-headedness that sends me reeling in circles any time I try to stand up.

I’m glad I’m not alone with just the Young G. My mother-in-law is here and was married to an officer for over 30 years (still married, no longer active duty). She knows, if anyone knows.

Paranoia

10 Sep

I like to view this year as an experiment.  I’m doing trials on separation, travel, motherhood, single-motherhood, long-distance love, living with family, packing a car, and lonesomeness.  Most of these were predictable from the first time I learned we would face this deployment (Valentine’s day, 2010).  I was even able to anticipate some of the side-effects.  For instance, I realized that I would learn to live “normally” without my husband; I would get used to him being gone, essentially.  I knew I would become homesick for my own territory.  I knew Young G would develop cognitively with an awareness that we travel often and live without Daddy.

One of the side effects of this year has begun to intrigue me, because I never expected it: paranoia. Continue reading

Restless

3 Aug

When we packed up and left Hawaii, I put my entire music catalog on an external hard-drive. I have a PC Netbook with very little memory, so the external drive is where all my important stuff lives. I’m really proud of my music collection, and obsess over it a little. So, it bothers me that all my play-counts when back to “zero”. The plan lately is to listen to all my music again.

Ben Kweller is playing right now.

My whole life music has helped me feel connected to the world around me, and kept me from feeling isolated in my misery.  This is a good year to allow music to minister to me again, now that I haven’t got the HD.

::SIGH::

I’m so tired right now.  I’m exhausted with the feeling of obligation that I have.  I’m so tired of making other people happy.  I just want someone to bend over backwards for me, go out of their way, over-extend themselves, and throw me a surprise party. Continue reading