Sewing and drumming are not the same

This afternoon I did get the twins to nap, but not easily. It involved about 35 – 40 minutes of singing, and 1.5 hours of bouncing both of them in their bouncy seats while sitting in my nursing chair. The motion reminded me of when I was a kid, using the foot pedal on my mom’s Singer sewing machine. Of course, that only required one foot, not two. And when I tried to type, I discovered that I’m not sufficiently coordinated to work both feet and hands at the same time. Every time I tried to do anything more complicated than reading, my rhythm got off and the babies stirred. I have had a sneaky idea in the back of my head for several years, which originated when I went to the EMP and spent 10 minutes in a percussion room, of learning how to play a drum set and playing in a band (with all my spare time). Playing drums was incredibly fun, but this afternoon’s experience underlined how insanely difficult it is to do well. Another strike against me is that I’m absolutely terrible with lyrics. I just don’t hear them. Consequently, I know the first few words to a few songs, and then it’s, “Something, something something….” Singing lullabies meant cracking open my laptop and reading the lyrics rather than gazing, soulfully or otherwise, into my babies’ eyes as I serenaded them. Maybe the glow of a computer screen will always make Emily and Joanna somnolent. Perhaps I’ve ruined their ability to do their homework without falling asleep in the middle of it. It’s my fault they’ll never graduate from college!

Anyway, maybe when I’m in my 60’s and my kids are grown and out of the house, I’ll assuage my empty-nest syndrome by taking drum lessons. And then I’ll form an old lady rock band. We’ll practice in our garage and irritate all the neighbors. “When I get older, losing my hair, many years from now…” (Beatles, “When I’m 64”.) Though I’d better not have grandchildren on my knee:  at that point Hazel will only be 24, and the twins will be 20 or 21.

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Today I realized that the company I ordered my new birthday camera from is located in New York. Given the devastation there, I’m not expecting to see it for some time. If only delayed merchandise and cancelled flights were the worst consequences of Sandy. I have read stories of people doing really wonderful things, both in the line of duty and not. Here’s hoping that the affected communities come out of this with as little damage and trauma as possible. A storm 1000 miles across really boggles the mind.

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We’re going to have friends over for Halloween. I can’t wait to see all the kids together, dressed up and excited. Fun, fun! I’m going to make cider (lots), smoked salmon chowder, spaghetti with pesto meatballs, and maybe, if I’m feeling really ambitious (probably not) a pie. Though really, on Halloween desert seems superfluous. We roasted the seeds from our pumpkin today. I am glad that I learned so much about cooking, cleaning, sewing, and generally household DIY projects from my mom. Sharing that knowledge and experience with my kids is very rewarding.

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Big storm

I hope that everyone on the East coast will be ok, though of course, I already know that everyone is not ok. I heard on the radio this evening that two people had been killed (I think in NYC) by falling trees. Given that I often get mad when I get hurt or hurt myself, I imagine that my ghost/soul/figment’s response would be to yell, “Dammit, seriously?” And then my ghost/soul/figment would spend a while (possibly centuries) feeling guilty about my poor choice of being outside under that tree in that moment, despite the exigencies that might have led to my presence there.

This makes me think about something I struggled with in getting married, and that I struggle with now, having kids: that is to say, my discomfort with making promises about the future. I think there’s some superstition mixed in there, along with some wariness and a certain degree of analysis of my life as I have experienced it thus far. I know that kids need stability, the assurance that their lives are grounded in a solid foundation, and that they have a positive road ahead of them. And yet, I think that masochistic, sad little scared kid inside me hesitates to make boldly positive statements about the future lest the universe strike me down for my temerity. Possibly I need to offer my own inner child reassurance before I try to give that to my kids; otherwise it might really feel quite inauthentic to them when I try. And possibly I need to spend some time repeating to myself that I deserve a long, healthy life (regardless of whether I get it or not).

There are a few things I have no hesitation in promising, in any significant relationship:  I will always do my best to be truthful, with myself and with my loved ones; I will always aim for clear, direct communication about anything that matters; I believe love to be a verb, and will consider whether my actions are loving or not; I will ground my actions and communications in my values; I will always strive to be my most authentic self; I will do my best to celebrate, support, be present with, and love the people close to me.

I’m sure there is more, but that’s what comes to mind at the moment.

And when I look at my children, I have no hesitation at all in telling them I will always love them. That wellspring is theirs forever. Knowing this brings me peace and joy.

Will they or won’t they?

Ted is currently trying to get the twins to go to sleep. They are gradually calming down, but I’m still hearing whimpers and the occasional cry. Meantime, I’m also wondering if Hazel will stay asleep, or if tonight will be another one like last night, where she woke up crying for me repeatedly, causing me to awake with heart pounding and adrenaline pulsing. The drama of the question, “Will he/she go to sleep?” is repeated nightly in millions of households across the nation, I am sure. I think I need to start memorizing songs like, “Hush, Little Baby, Don’t You Cry,” just to make myself feel better.

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We’re going to buy a baby book for Hazel and retroactively fill it in. My doula gave me one each for the twins, and wonder of wonders, we’ve been writing in them. So now we want Hazel to have one too. And no, don’t worry, we’re not going to lie and pretend that we always had it. If she’s going to decide we don’t love her as much as her sisters, it will be because we didn’t think of getting a baby book for her at the beginning. Or for any number of other reasons, I’m sure.

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I started going through my old email (a Herculean task) and managed to delete or move a bunch of messages in my inbox (A – F) that either I didn’t need or could store elsewhere. A number of years ago I had a tidy inbox, and was good about getting to all unread email each day. I foolishly changed my system one year, and started getting behind, and have never caught up since. If I ever get to the point that my inbox is empty I’ll have to make up some sort of victory jig and dance it. Of course, the electronic world being what it is, there will be new mail in my inbox by the time I’m done dancing.

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Hey, they’re asleep! Yippy skippy, as my friend likes to say.

 

The life of a musician

Being the child of a musician means you’ll run into a non-middle-class-traditional schedule. I’ve had rehearsals this week and then a concert tonight, and have been getting home late. It’s a good thing Hazel is not a morning person. I’ll be quite interested to see if either of the twins is.

My hands are sore. I need to somehow get regular practicing in most days a week. That seems as remote as the moon sometimes, but I know I can work up to it. The trick is somehow getting practicing, working out, and writing into my daily schedule, as well as all the household and childcare stuff too. And sleep. I need sleep. hmmm….

I messed up one measure in one of the pieces we did. And now I am far more focused on that measure than all the others that I played well. *sigh* I continue to work on trying to let that go. I mean, the concert went well. People enjoyed it. I enjoyed it. One step at a time, I guess.

Tomorrow, there is not a single thing on the calendar. That means we’ll be doing laundry, cleaning, organizing, sorting mail, etc. But we won’t have to cook; Ted took care of that today. Yay! We now have yummy stew in the fridge, and grilled steak to put on salad.

To anyone who does, thanks for reading. I have been enjoying writing the blog, and am glad that there are people who read it. Best wishes for a wonderful Sunday. The babies are fed, Hazel is asleep, and I’m off to sleep too.

random brain contents

Sometimes I know what I’m going to write about, and I start with the title first. Many times, I have no idea what or how the post content is going to manifest, and so I just start writing and figure it out along the way as things swirl around in my brain and surface. Here are some things that are zipping and bumbling around in the grey matter right now (in no particular order):  Hazel LOVES her babysitter Bryan, and it was quite fun to see their combined work of art on the white board this evening; coming home to screaming twins is hard, but it doesn’t wrap my guts around my brain pan in the way it used to, which is good; the speech Lana Wachowski gave when she received the Human Rights Council Visibility award was inspiring; I really do love the Vaughan Williams Thomas Tallis piece we’re doing on this concert; and finally, for me, completely subjectively, there is nothing more wonderful, beautiful, incredible, and any other fabulous -ful adjective you can think of than my two babies. I absolutely love how unstudied, honest, and open babies are. When they laugh, it’s because they wanted to. When they cry, it’s because they needed to. Yes, they’re responding to input all the time, but still, they offer you their communication and themselves entirely for free, no strings attached. I am insanely lucky.

Lana tells of how accepting her parents were when she made her transition, and I want to take that as a role model. I want to remember every day to be glad that my children are alive, that I can hug them and tell them that I love them. Not that life is always milk and honey, of course, but love is a verb, and part of its essence is acceptance.

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Tomorrow we’re taking the kids to a Halloween party. We’ll have a monkey, a pea pod, and a bear. It’s a party for families with multiples, so the cute factor will explode the roof off of the building, I am sure. It will be good to meet other parents of twins, triplets, etc. We haven’t done anything like that yet.

Tomorrow is also the dress rehearsal and the performance. Somehow there also needs to be time for practicing. And cooking. And cleaning, as we’re hosting friends for Halloween.

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Sunday I think I’ll go to the hospital with my friend to visit his father. He loves babies, cats, and fart jokes. I’m not good at telling the latter, but perhaps I’ll bring a picture of the twins, just in case he wakes up enough to see it.

When you don’t know what you don’t know

Other people’s experience and feedback can be really useful. We’ve been thinking for a while about building a separate studio out back. Once the twins are talking and walking, it’s going to become virtually impossible for me to teach in my current studio space. One of my students has done quite a lot of home rebuilding and remodeling, and brought up things I hadn’t considered, however, like the cost of heating an entirely separate structure, and the fact that if we build a studio out back we won’t ever be able to add onto our house at all. So now we’re thinking about a basement studio that nonetheless has a good amount of light. That would also mean we could take down the ancient garage and have a real garden, a serious plus. I loved gardening when I was a kid. We had a pretty good-sized vegetable & flower garden out back, and I’d love to be able to do that with my kids here.

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We experienced bedtime failure this evening. We made a big mistake and tried changing things up abruptly and with no transition. Hazel doesn’t sleep when we try to get her to go to bed a full hour or more before her usual bedtime. Oops. It’s not as simple as declaring, “Ok, we’re all going to bed early tonight!” She didn’t respond well. There was a lot of crying, a lot of pushing boundaries. She is now, though, thankfully asleep. The twins are restive but hopefully on their way to dreamland. And I managed to walk that line between compassion and indulgence that I sometimes find hard to see, let alone adhere to as a parent. I didn’t get into drill seargent mode, but I also didn’t give into Hazel’s million delaying tactics. I managed to be gentle but firm. Yay, a point for me! This afternoon I managed to help Emily get to sleep too, after a fair amount of effort. I am learning. What I am attempting to learn first and foremost is to let go of my sometimes paralyzing fear of things not going well, to explore different options with the curiosity of an open-minded scientist.

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I have a gig on Saturday. I have been practicing. I can do most of the fast runs now. I am gradually regaining control. But I have a ways to go still. I need to work on speeding up my vibrato. It’s gotten slow and floppy (which has always been its tendency anyway – my cello teacher in college described me as a rubber maiden in studio class once) and I need to tighten it. I also need to re-coordinate my two hands so that my overall precision improves. Working on the runs in these pieces helps. I think I’ll break out some etude books and start on them too. Then, a Beethoven sonata. One step at a time…

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Emily is asleep. Now I can go back upstairs and hopefully get in 5 hours of sleep. ahhhhh, sleep.

 

birthday report

The spa was wonderful. I love that place. I got some practicing done. That was great. I got so many wonderful birthday messages, and that felt so wonderful, too. The restaurant was full of fail, unfortunately, and the evening has involved a tad too much crying by babies, a kid, and my inner child. But we were with friends, and had a good time anyway.

The final item on today’s agenda is sleep, so I shall now attempt to go get some.