Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Home for the Holidays

This year I wrote no Thanksgiving post--not, mind you, because I wasn't grateful.  But because I felt grateful for so many things that I wouldn't know where to start or where to end, and I wouldn't be entirely sure what would fill in the middle, either.

And even as I sit here drafting this Christmas post, I'm feeling mostly glad that I get to go home every Christmas.  My parents have lived in the same house for a while--a longer-than-I've-been-alive while--and I have a hard time imagining anyplace else will ever feel as comfortable.  It's the house equivalent of a favorite pair of jeans, except that's a terrible analogy because I don't associate jeans with everything I associate with my home.

On Christmas Eve, my brother and my parents and I opened our gifts from each other.  We figured we'd leave all the mayhem (a.k.a. the munchkins opening their presents) for the morning when we could just sit back and watch how they liked everything.  And then my brother, my mom, and I sat in a row on the couch while my dad read us the Nativity story.

From a picture book.  But with all the scriptural text, more or less, and the set-up was essential to all three of us being able to see the pictures.

My older sister and her family will not come in until a few days from now, so I like to think that we're to an extent having holidays the way hobbits eat: we've had first Christmas, and soon we'll have second Christmas.  And thanks to Skype, we still saw them today even if only for a few minutes.

And I suppose all of this is to say: I read a book a couple of weeks ago called The Man Who Invented Christmas.  It's the story behind Dickens writing A Christmas Carol (and I apologize to anyone to whom I've spouted random factoids from this book, but honestly, it's something I want to place into the hands of anyone who says books don't have the power to change anything...ahem...).  Anyway, it quotes Dickens as essentially saying that Christmas is family, and it should always be spent at home.

I must say I agree.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Music-Related Melancholia

Once upon a time, on Saturday, I attended Kurt Bestor's annual Christmas show with my little brother.  First things first: I loved it, and my little brother is officially the best.  Or was for at least a minute or two on Saturday. ;)  Second things second: these things always make me wistful.

I suppose I should specify: by 'these things,' I mean musical performances.  Some musical performances.  Mostly musical performances that involve a flute or a piano in pretty much any capacity.

It's not entirely untrue to say that I have a certain...overexaggerative....streak.  I am a queen of hyperbole.  And sometimes it's for comedy, but sometimes I actually mean it.  I honest-to-goodness mean whatever over-the-top thing I'm saying sometimes--not as often as I once did, but still.

This is where the wistfulness comes in, I suppose.

I took instrument lessons: piano, flute.  As I recall, I mostly behaved myself during my piano lessons but I often acted like a little terror in the course of my flute lessons.  I have since learned that karma's a very real thing.  A few years ago, I agreed to teach flute lessons to the younger sister of a high school friend--and darned if she wasn't as much a terror as I'd been back when!  Maybe more!


Lessons.  I took them.  And I used to imagine, I used to dream, that one day I'd be good enough I'd be famous.  But here's the thing: I never stuck with any one thing long enough to excel enough.  My attention span wavered, and while it's true I'm still a perfectly adequate piano player and that I still know which end of a flute is which... none of my big dreams ever came true.

I remember, 15 or so years ago, going into the Capitol Theatre with my parents for the first touring play I ever saw there: The King and I, with Hayley Mills.  (For the record, Ms. Mills is nice and all, but I'm pretty sure I would've preferred anyone else be Anna.)  Anyhow, I remember looking for the first few minutes into the pit, and thinking: "Someday I'll do that.  Someday I'll be good enough to play in the pit."

But I didn't, and I won't, and sometimes that makes me a little bit sad.

Yet mixed in with that sadness is an appreciation of what they're doing: I've taken lessons, I know it's not easy.  And I love good performances that much more (and also loathe terrible performances to distraction) because of those lessons.  I'm thankful I had parents who let me have them, thankful for growing up in an atmosphere that frequently involved music in the background.

Still sometimes I can't help but wonder if I make--aloud or internally--claims to myself that will never be fulfilled, claims that might result in more bittersweet experiences at some point in the future.  It's not even that I think I'd go back and apply myself more.  I don't think I'd be a better flute student.  I still think that counting out pesky rhythms before playing them on the piano is quite frequently a shame.  (So maybe I wasn't the greatest of piano students.  I remember an exasperated teacher who lamented not that I had no rhythm, but that I seemed to make the rhythm I preferred...)

But nevertheless, I had dreams.  Without any follow-through.

And all of a sudden, my pattern of flunking at something like Nanowrimo begins to make a lot of sense to me: I do this.  I'm in a pattern.  I've been in a pattern for a long, long time.  A pattern where I think big and then go small, when I need to dare to believe that I'm just as overexaggeratedly amazing as I claim to be.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Nanowrimo Redux: And I Flunked Again

Once upon a time, there was a writer whom we shall call Katie.  She decided to attempt writing a novel one year--we'll call it 2011--and she kind of flunked out rather earlier.  The following year--we'll call it 2012--she flunked again, but at least she flunked out after half the month had ended.

The first attempted novel is still saved to her computer, the twenty-ish pages that she created.  So too is the beginnings of a second project.  And yet...she's sadly lacking in motivation.  Honestly she knows that she wants to finish one of them but she can't bring herself to do it.

Sort of like tonight when it took her forever to make her dinner because for a great long while she just couldn't bring herself to clean that skillet.  Not that it took long at all to clean the skillet, but it was effort and she was tired.

Which is to say next year she might attempt Nanowrimo again, with the expectation she may perhaps get through three-quarters of the month and then be motivated to finish.

We'll see.