Gratitude week 102

  1. I renewed my WP account, so you are probably stuck with me for at least another year.
  2. I survived the family Christmas party!! Everyone was on their best behavior.
  3. I met Arabella’s new boyfriend and he seems nice.
  4. Thankfully, despite the snowstorm, my brothers were able to make the long trip to my house. Luke and his family stayed the night before making it over right before the storm started.
  5. I’m grateful the boiler worked for the party. The kids were able to swim and have fun. The heating/cooling guy literally fixed it and left as our guests were arriving.
  6. My mom totally surprised me with a record player for Christmas. It also has a CD and tape player. It was a lot of fun to grab my old collection of records and tapes to play since music means so much to me.
  7. I gave my old friend Lisa a call after I had a dream about her. It was great to talk and catch up. Lisa and Tom are going to come over next weekend. It’s been a couple years since I saw them last.
  8. Watching my favorite Christmas movie, The National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.
  9. Feeling a lot less stressed.
  10. I cleaned out Arabella’s room so my niece’s could sleep there. It looks great!
  11. After the party was over, Paul and I played games and laughed with Angel and Alex and their significant others.
  12. I’m grateful for the new church we are visiting. The best part is that it’s literally two minutes from our house. The pastor has been meeting with us and answering the difficult questions I’ve been throwing his way.
  13. I’m grateful all my kids are in relationships they seem happy in. Not only that, but I think they are all in good relationships for them.

Muse ick

My daughter showed me how to view my 2021 review of the year on Spotify. Numbers don’t lie and it showed me myself which can be scary. Angel showed me her year in review and posted it on Facebook along with all her friends. I would never do that. People would wonder if I was okay.

Music has always been a big part of my life ever since I got my first radio in Kindergarten. For the most part, music has been a healthy coping mechanism in my life.

Through my years music has always been there for me. In grade school, I cried myself to sleep at night with the Duran Duran Arena album. Planet Earth echoed my emptiness. The Chauffeur, The Seventh Stranger I felt my aloneness with them.

In high school I found Pink Floyd. I understood The Wall because by that time I had locked myself behind one. Comfortably Numb spoke to me. I could find myself in the depression and numbness without ever touching a drug. I remember when The Division Bell came out. When I got a Spotify account I searched and scoured everything Pink Floyd. I now have 69 songs from them on my playlist. Sadly, there is nothing new to consume. In a few months I am planning on getting The Dark Side of the Moon prism tattooed on my back. That’s about as new as it gets. They are my #2 artist of this year.

Music means the world to me. According to Spotify, I listen to music 88% more than other listeners in the US. I am beyond happy that my daughter Angel has a music degree and my son plays many instruments and started making beats for a rapper.

I could almost say I have a music addiction. There were times I felt guilty about my intake. I destroyed my collections, later to buy them back again. I am extremely private about the music I listen to. I feel shame because I don’t like feel-good Christian or otherwise music like my mom does. I like music to express the feelings when I am having a hard day: the anger, the emptiness, the despair.

Spotify said my music mood is wistful and spooky. I listen to thoughtful hard to listen to music discussing difficult topics like death, suicide, emotional pain, broken relationships, etc.. I really wish I liked songs about grace, forgiveness, love (in a good way), and happiness. There are a few I like but not many. I want to like that kind of music but I don’t. I can’t force myself to. I tried.

This year I found a new band. It’s not really new, but new to me. I found it by watching the MTV videos on Beavis and Butthead. I know, I know. Just remember I wasn’t able to be a kid and my inner child likes it. I keep telling myself that anyway.

The band is called Type O Negative from when I was a teen. Never heard of them before. Some of their songs I don’t care for. But four out of five of my top five songs this year were from them. They are my top artist this year. I am in the top 0.1% of listeners. I’m predicting next year will be lower because they will no longer be new and they don’t have any new music since the lead singer is dead.

Type O Negative has some really difficult songs to listen to because they have some really really hard grief messages. It really helped me process my feelings about having a suicidal daughter, Arabella, and the resulting depression from it. I can’t take the mental illness from my daughter and it is killing me. Life is Killing Me. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt from this band. I recently ordered the Black No. 1 shirt with the lyrics written on it of ‘loving you is like loving the dead’. Sometimes I feel like anyone who could love me is loving the dead because at times I was so numb it was like I wasn’t even there.

My number three song was from the $uicideboy$ entitled Kill Yourself. No strong suicide lyrics there. NOT. My daughter Angel showed me this song. She said after she found the porn on my dad’s computer she became really depressed and started listening to this song. It helped me understand how she feels. Most parents would be worried but apparently I am not one of those parents since I started listening to it as well by myself. But seriously, it’s not going to be on my top 5 list next year. It’s just too dark even for me.

I wonder if there are any other dark people out there like me. Is there anybody out there? Why am I drawn to the darkness inside of myself? Why don’t I like uplifting music? Why do sad songs make me feel good? It doesn’t make sense.

Why do some people like romance and others horror movies? You probably already could guess what I would prefer. Yup, horror.

It’s hard to explain to people who don’t get it. It’s like music is a friend of mine. When I’m feeling sad it cries along with me. It’s always there for me. As an introvert who struggles with depression sometimes it’s easier to pour out those emotions with music than with people.

Maybe I just figured out why I don’t want to share my music with others. If I share my music, I really am sharing about myself and that is truly scary to put myself out there like that. Now I just have to figure out why I am okay putting myself out there here.

Gratitude week 50

  1. My husband got his braces off this week. Now too bad he has to wear a mask…
  2. I’m grateful for a warm fire on a cold day.
  3. I’m grateful for pajama days.
  4. I’m grateful for my new followers (and the ones who have stuck with me for awhile).
  5. I’m grateful that I was able to do a lot of writing this week. It’s been a rough week emotionally though. I’m not sure if it is because I’ve been thinking and writing about things a lot…or that this time of year is triggering…or a massive amount of stress…or that we are not getting together with family for the holidays this year. But here I am with the hope that things will get better…
  6. I’m grateful for my husband’s work Christmas party tomorrow so I have a reason to get dressed up and polish my nails. It’s hard to want to look nice when so many plans have been cancelled. It’s like, why bother? Pajama day every day…well not quite but you know what I mean.
  7. I’m grateful for Christmas lights.
  8. I’m grateful for my grandparents. Today it’s been 20 years since my grandpa passed away. 20 YEARS! I lit some candles for him and told my kids a few stories about him.
  9. I’m thankful that my son installed some sort of music app on my computer. I’ve always wanted to learn how to make my own music. I’m thankful that my kids can help show me how to use it because it seems very challenging.
  10. I grateful for a really good appointment this past week with my counselor.

Transforming performing

Every day I put a fake smile on my face. I’m probably not fooling anyone.

I sometimes wonder if it’s the reason my children like to perform. When I hear them play or sing something changes in me. I smile, a real smile. They know where they can find the real me, the happy me.

It was always a dream of mine I am living through them.

I wanted to play and sing too. I wrote music then. I wrote the lyrics, played a simple tune on the piano, and sang along. It angered my dad. He told me to stop that banging on the piano and caterwauling. So I stopped forever.

I wasn’t allowed to make mistakes, you see. I was expected to be perfect the first time I tried something or not to try at all. I was an embarrassment if I was not perfect. Even my choir teacher told me that I sucked the first time I ran through a song for solo and ensemble. I wasn’t allowed to go. I wasn’t good enough.

The first time I ever sang a solo in front of people I was so terrified my voice choked out a little croak. I didn’t know then that it was normal to have stage fright. I thought I was horrible. No one ever encouraged me.

For a very long time, I gave up the dream. I didn’t audition for jazz choir or even choir in college although I wanted to more than anything. Music was a stifled passion. I was convinced I sucked which is so sad to me right now.

Watching my children perform opens the door to true joy. They are what I could’ve been. For awhile, I’m able to put the fake smile aside. My eyes shine and my heart smiles at them with everything I have. Their performing is transforming to me.

It is never too late to rekindle a dream.

Gratitude week 5

1. I’m grateful that the sun is shining today. It’s been a long time.

2. I’m grateful to be planning a vacation and visiting states that I’ve never been to before.

3. I’m grateful to have a house with an indoor pool. Last week we had a party for the youth group at church. It’s a miracle, but now the youth group has twice as many kids. Plus I have several new items to add to my collection of things left behind; a sock, a bra, and a cute bikini. Would these be weird items to put in the church lost and found box??

4. If all else fails, at least I have a sense of humor.

5. I’m grateful to watch my son perform with his new band for open mic. I am very proud of his talent. There is nothing like watching my children perform. Plus I saw an acquaintance there who said she goes to open mic just to sing with the house band. She said I should give it a try sometime and I’m planning on it.

6. I’m grateful to live in a state where we can provide unique experiences for our foreign exchange students. Yesterday Paul took us ice fishing.

7. I am grateful to try another new trauma therapy. I have been sleeping better.

8. I am grateful that several friends at this point seem to be winning the battle against cancer.

9. I finished The Tattooist of Auschwitz this week and started another Holocaust book called The Choice written not to long ago by a survivor. I’m thankful that she was able not only to survive but make something good out of a horrible experience. I am very impressed she was able to write such an insightful and inspirational book in her later years of life.

10. I am grateful it is February and the end of winter is in sight.

 

Prove them wrong

Never let someone’s opinion of you define who you are. Sometimes they make mistakes too.

Although I may be in over my head this time.

Last week my daughter Arabella and I tried out for the local community theater musical. I got cast in a very challenging vocal part. The director said she was happy that I tried out because she didn’t think that many people could handle the part. How horrifying!

Yesterday, I talked about how I wasn’t very athletic in school and now I am a marathon runner. When I was a child, I really wanted to be a singer. But I allowed a teacher to crush that dream.

The choir teacher was the same person that axed me as a cheerleader in middle school. In my defense, when I auditioned to be a cheerleader I had the flu. I stayed home from school the day of auditions with a high fever. The choir teacher said that if I wanted to try out I had to audition on that day, no exceptions. That evening I went to school with the flu and auditioned.

Now in her defense, I couldn’t do splits or flips like some of the other girls and was probably clinically depressed since grade school. Having the flu didn’t help with my audition either as you can imagine.

I wasn’t a good athlete and don’t blame her for not selecting me to be a cheerleader. But I always thought I was a good singer.

More than anything, I wanted to be in the high school jazz choir. But I didn’t bother trying out. The choir teacher didn’t like me. I’m not even sure why, I never did anything to her. There were certain teachers though that did not like me based on my autistic brother’s behaviors. Perhaps you have been judged for a sibling’s misdeeds? It sucks! There were certain old school teachers that blamed my mother for my brother’s autism back in the day and I think she was one.

The choir teacher picked a song for solo and ensemble for me. On the first practice, she told me I was a horrible singer and there was no way I was ever going to compete. I was so humiliated. Maybe I really did suck?

Remembering her words and cheerleading tryouts, I didn’t bother auditioning for jazz choir.

I gave up my dream. In college I wanted to audition for choir, but didn’t think I was good enough. It wasn’t until many years later that I started to sing in front of people again. Wow, you are very good at singing. You must have been a star singer in high school. What?

Now my daughter Angel is going to college for vocal performance. She has a very similar voice to mine. She has been to many competitions around the country and has done very well.

The choir teacher could have made a positive impact on my life. She could have encouraged me and worked with me to make me a better singer. She could have given me something to take me away from my troubles at home. But instead, she squelched a dream.

The choir teacher, whether she knew it or not, changed the path that I chose to take. She was a horrible teacher. I wish I didn’t give so much credit to her opinion.

Challenge accepted, I’m going to do the best I can at this role. Maybe I will dedicate this show to proving my choir teacher wrong.

When the music is over..

My son dropped out of band the week after we toured a college for music.

It reminded me of the time my son dropped out of wrestling. It wasn’t just because he was being bullied. The year before he quit, he got third place at regionals in a large bracket. There was an opening to go to state and they called my son to fill that position. All the way up to state, Alex practiced as hard as he could. He practiced so hard that after falling asleep on the long car ride to state, he woke up with a pinched nerve. He couldn’t hold his head upright. He was in a lot of pain and couldn’t wrestle.

Some people gave him crap saying that he was too afraid and that he was faking an injury so he wouldn’t have to wrestle the best in the state. He forfeited his matches while we sat there watching everyone else wrestle. That night at the hotel, his team and their coaches and parents celebrated while we sat in the hotel room devastated. He worked so hard. It wasn’t fair.

We talked with Alex and we decided that we would do everything to help him get to state the next year if he wanted to. We took him to summer camps and intensive preseason wrestling twice a week an hour away. He got to be really good. Who would’ve thought that this could shake up the middle school pecking order and snowball into bullying? But he pushed on. Then at the end of the season, he got the flu. He got weak. But he kept trying. Then right before regionals, he got hurt again. He decided he had enough. It was hard to let go of the 8 years we put into this sport. I felt sorrow. My husband asked if I was expecting him to make a career of it. What if he got hurt again, but worse??

But this is different. This is more personal. I thought that maybe he would pursue a career in music. I thought he would pursue his passion. He got awards at state. He has the talent. He said he wanted that.

Even if he didn’t succeed, I think he would regret not going for it.

We had a long talk with the music professor at the college. He spoke of auditions for scholarships. My son even talked to us about the song he might want to audition with. We decided to contact his piano teacher to continue lessons and contacted the local university for private lessons on his instrument. We have given him all of the tools for success, but he just doesn’t seem to want to pick them up.

This year a majority of the upperclassmen and all of Alex’s friends quit band before the school year started. Alex said he wanted to quit band too. He told me this as he was making beats on his computer and strumming a guitar. Hate music now, huh? I didn’t take it seriously.

He just quit band, a month into the school year. He said he is never playing his instrument again. He was also going to be a part of the pit band for the high school musical, but dropped everything. No music lessons. He said he doesn’t even want to go to college. He burned all of his bridges with a blaze so intense it makes my eyes water.

I felt so angry at first. Now I feel an unrelenting sorrow. My hopes and dreams for him have been totally crushed. He is so smart and talented. To see him have the ability and throw it all away is killing me. Maybe there is still tech school. Who knows? Maybe he won’t even graduate from high school. I could see him getting his PhD in music, but I can also see him living on the streets. The windows of opportunity are closing and it is very painful.

What if he takes the wrong fork in the road?

I think the hardest thing about having adult children is the utter lack of control. I fear that someone will hurt my children. But even more terrifying is watching your child destroy himself and not being able to do anything about it.

Vegas, part 4

 

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The day we visited Red Rocks Canyon was my favorite day in Nevada. It was strange going from the big city to out in the middle of nowhere within 20 minutes.

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It wasn’t the easiest vacation since receiving the news that the daughter of a best friend passed away in a car accident while we were there. But here I was with my daughter in a beautiful place and I refused to worry the whole time about something I had no control over. I wanted to have some great memories of our mother-daughter trip. If anything, I learned that life is too precious to take any moment for granted.

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I tried my hardest to convince my daughter and her friends to go hiking with me. With temps over 100 degrees and full sun, I couldn’t convince anyone to walk far anywhere. They thought I was crazy! Not being used to the heat, we didn’t even think about packing drinks. We must have looked pathetic because a guide from a tour bus offered us drinks, which we gladly accepted. We chugged our drinks quickly, because after about 10 minutes our drinks would be too hot. I drank hot water, hot beer, and a hot bloody Mary on this trip and it was pretty gross.

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It was fun hanging out with music majors. Every conversation turned into a song…we would say something that reminds us of song lyrics and next thing you know everyone is singing. I have to say that I was really impressed with Angel and her friends. They were all very supportive and encouraging towards their competitors in the singing competition. It was refreshing and unexpected.

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The trip to Red Rocks Canyon was very peaceful and calming. I would recommend it to anyone that wants to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Fortune cookie wisdom #10

Be prepared for a sudden, needed, and happy change in plans.

Wow, this one is nice!

I’m not sure when I received this fortune cookie, but I can tell you that this year has definitely been a year full of surprises and change…

In January, we sold our business but stayed on as employees. In February, we checked our first continent (outside of our own) off the bucket list. In two weeks, we will be moving into a new house.

A year ago today I would’ve never guessed that any of these things would be happening.

Last night I booked a trip to Las Vegas. This was unexpected a week ago. I’m very excited because I’ve never been to Nevada before. Plus my daughter Angel was selected as one of the best college singers in the US to compete there on a national level. This is a very big step forward in her future music career. We will have the opportunity to listen to the best singers in the United States compete and famous singers perform.

Pity the poor middle school choir students that I hear perform for solo and ensemble. I will never be the same.

Hopefully we will have time to check out some shows and spend some time poolside. I really don’t care about going to the casinos. I doubt my daughter could get in anyway. She is still a teenager.

I’ll be sure to share my best pictures and adventures in Sin City. But don’t expect it to be like The Hangover.

ACT 1

Last week my son got his ACT score in the mail. He got an average score. Although my husband and son were satisfied, I was disappointed. I know he has the capability to do so much better.

I worry about him being able to get into a good college. He got 3 F’s on his report card this quarter, one of them being in band. He wants to go to school for music, that should be an easy A. But he skipped out of some pep band performances which brought down his grade.

In his defense, it seems like band and choir require so much more after school participation than I ever remember. The students are required to be at school in the evenings several nights a week for several months. I think it is a big commitment for a 1 credit class. I probably could’ve sent him with a note excusing his absence, but if he could be there…why would I do that?

Anyway, my son thinks that he can get into college once they hear him play. Maybe, maybe not. He is a very talented musician, I’ll give him that. We have been preaching at him about his grades for years. I’m getting sick of nagging him.

What I really have been concerned about lately is not just being able to get into college, but staying in college. He needs to get through the awful prerequisite classes that have nothing to do with what he wants to do. Without college (and even with), it is going to be hard to get anywhere with a career in music.

My son reminds me of my brother Mark.

Mark is a mechanical/building genius. In middle school, he designed blueprints for a water bed. He built the bed out of wood with his design. He created many things, but that was the most impressive for his age.

Mark struggled with school. Every night my mother would sit down with him and try to help him with his assignments. It often ended with a fight. Mark is very smart, but wasn’t good at school. He had problems reading. Later we found out that he struggled with dyslexia.

As expected of him, Mark went off to college for mechanical engineering and failed miserably. He dropped out by the end of his first semester.

Mark is now employed as a machinist. He is a hard worker and loves his work. Right after high school, he bought a lathe machine so he could work after work out of his garage. He learned everything about machines. Not only does he know how to operate them, he knows how to program, troubleshoot, and fix machines.

Mark has an eye for detail. He painstakingly makes sure things are done right. He was the main visionary for a big remodeling project up north on the cabin that has been in the family since the 1950’s. He created a blueprint to build his own house. He is a mechanical genius, but just wasn’t cut out for college. That’s okay, it wasn’t for him.

Sometimes I wonder if we are taking a square peg and trying to make it fit into a round hole.

But how can someone be marketable as a musician without an education??

Maybe he could work in a music store selling instruments. Or he could learn how to fix instruments. Would he be happy doing that and being a small town musician in the evening?

It is really up to him now. We have given him all the tools for success. We’ll see what kind of life he can build out of it.