A Cup of Coffee and a Sit Down

One of my favorite things, right up there with Jesus giving me a hug, is nose spray with menthol. I’ve loved it since I was a kid, because my father was devout in his use. This may not be the case anymore, but it was then. I follow the directions carefully, because all ENT (ear, nose, and throat) docs will tell you that if you use it too much, you’ll get what’s called “kickback,” the phenomenon of having to use it more and more. I take it at the same time as my Sudafed and Zyrtec, so that by the time they kick in, I can breathe easy. The only other time in my life that I’ve felt that kind of relief was when I went to an ENT who had this thing, not unlike a soda gun, that reached up past my nose into my sinuses and blew decongestion/allergy meds right into my mask. I also take generic Humibid, which thins out my secretions so I can get them out easier. It stops both the congestion and the queasiness from accidentally swallowing them. I figured out that I do not have a cold. I just have bad allergies right now, which is ridiculous when it’s this cold outside. I mean, where are the allergies coming from?

My guess is that my room is dusty in some places, because when I went for the allergy test where they put allergens under the skin to see what makes you react, dust blew up four of the other samples (incidentally, as a lesbian, I am relieved to know that I am not allergic to cats. I don’t have one, but 95% of the dating pool will have at least one…. stereotypes come from somewhere…). Anyway, it’s time to find the dust, and I think a good bit of it is on my ceiling fan. I’ll get some Pledge and go to it, because the more expensive brands will actually repel dust so that you don’t have to spray as often.

I really am that Marie Kondo simplicity Virgo, but when I get depressed, I just can’t hack it. Today I can make a serious dent in the mess that’s left over from my other attempts at organizing, because tomorrow is trash day. After I finish this entry, I am feeling so much better that I’ll have the energy to buzzsaw through.

I was inconsolable yesterday, because CCC needed rental income and rented out my office before telling me and stashed all my stuff in Matt’s office. If I’d known they’d needed income, if I could’ve found the resources, I would have paid it. My office is the one thing that will get me out of the house… or, at least it was. I haven’t been there in a few weeks because my depression took hold mightily and I couldn’t leave my desk at home. Sometimes I feel that I’ve gotten a bit agoraphobic, which is pretty normal for someone who suffers from both chemical and situational depression. Staying in my room reinforces staying in my room, because the longer I go without human interaction, the more I become afraid of it.

Last night I made steps to improve my life by buying both my sister and myself a copy of Never the Same, written by my friend Donna Schuurman. It is specifically written for adults who have lost a parent in childhood and have never dealt with it, but there are so many parts to the book that resonate with me now and I couldn’t pass it up for either of us. Losing my mother suddenly at 39 feels just as traumatic (I think) as losing a parent before age 18, because my mother’s life was cut so short. She just retired last school year at 65, and I was looking forward to the next 15-20 years with a passion. I don’t grieve so much for the past, but for the lost future. Yes, sometimes remembering past memories make me sad, but it is nothing compared to the sadness that we were starting to rebuild this close, intimate relationship and it wasn’t finished yet… not that we’d ever be finished with the journey, but we didn’t get enough steps together and now all of it is gone.

I have written before about how the piano was our lighthouse in the fog of my youth, and I am grateful that she left it to me. However, there is no room in my house anywhere for a baby grand. I told my stepdad that we could leave it at his house (because the piano is just as meaningful to him as it is to me) until I have a space big enough for it. I remember when we moved to a small apartment (or, more accurately, when my sister and my mother moved to a small apartment and my dad and I moved to an even smaller one), the piano sat in the dining area and we ate on TV trays or joked about setting the piano for dinner. So maybe the space I need isn’t as large as I think. My aunt Beth asked me how I was going to get it to DC, and I joked that I was just going to tie it to the top of my two-door hatchback…. what could possibly go wrong?

I took group piano at University of Houston, but mostly I play by ear. I can pick up things easily by listening to it, but reading two rhythms on the page is extraordinarily difficult, especially since I can barely read bass clef (you don’t really need it as a trumpet player or a soprano). However, even with just ear training, I used to play for hours… mostly from Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue album, or John Tesh’s Live at Red Rocks or Avalon (shut it- those are the only ones I like). I’ve also come up with my own arrangements for a few things, but put sheet music in front of me and it’s a foreign language. I’ve decided that when I have the room for said piano, I should take a few more lessons… at least enough to learn bass clef. That might clear up a few things. 😛

For someone who’s taken music theory, group piano, and spent hours upon hours playing the piano both at home and at UH’s lab, I’m still such a n00b. Like I said, I’ve come up with my own arrangements for things, but I couldn’t notate them if my life depended on it. I sort of cheated on my final exam for group piano by having my mother play my piece over and over so that I could learn it by ear and memorize it rather than actually having to read off the page. That’s a memory I’d forgotten that makes me smile. She was invaluable to me during that semester, because I had to have a performing arts class for my degree plan. Why I didn’t choose choir or band I’ll never know. Probably because I didn’t really know how to play the piano and I at least wanted to be able to play parts while learning hymns, etc. I still haven’t gotten there…………. #shatnerellipsis #prayingonthespaces

I know why I didn’t choose band. It embarrasses me every time I pick up my horn that I am no longer as good as I used to be. I was never the best, but I have won first desk at several auditions in my life, and that is no small feat, especially at HSPVA. I embarrassed the hell out of myself in a Portland community orchestra when a trumpet player was absent and I volunteered to take his solo while he was gone, thinking that I could pull it off because hey, I’ve played solos my whole life. It did not go……. well.

By that time, I realized I should put my energy into singing, and I became a better singer than I ever was a trumpet player, and I kicked myself for not going the choir route. I made All-District choir my junior year of high school, and All-Region auditions were the same day as the All-State marching contest. I couldn’t make a hole in the trumpet line in good conscience, so I didn’t go. But I wonder to this day how far I could’ve made it. In terms of the All-State marching contest, we played a suite from On the Waterfront, one of Leonard Bernstein’s great film scores. We came in first with four out of five judges, but one judge rated us a lot lower, so we ended up coming in fifth. The bus was absolutely silent going home, because we were all so angry that one person could affect the entire outcome. Now, fifth best marching band in the entire state of Texas is great, but it was no consolation then.

In symphonic band, we beat out hundreds of bands to perform at TMEA (Texas Music Educators Association). It was one of the highlights of my musical career, because we were given the Sudler Flag of Honor by the John Philip Sousa Foundation, which recognizes outstanding high school concert bands. It was the second time in my life that I have accidentally ended up in a better place than where I originally started. I didn’t get into Johnston Middle School, at Clifton we beat the pants off them in contests. At Clements, we beat the pants off HSPVA.

Because my mother was an elementary school teacher, she was already in San Antonio where TMEA was held, so I got to see her a lot. I can’t remember whether she was at our concert, because I think she had a workshop at the same time. But we went through the “fair” together, where I got to try at least 20 trumpet mouthpieces and 50 different horns. She also bought me a pair of knee socks with music staffs circling upward.

Speaking of which, Lindsay and Forbes are going with my idea for my mother’s headstone, which is to put a music staff on it that plays Amazing Grace. They’re also going to put a marble piano bench modeled after her own near “our tree.” Now I have to confess that I didn’t come up with the idea on my own. It’s from a ring I’ve always wanted from James Avery. However, I don’t think anyone’s ever thought of it for a headstone before, so I hope that it turns out as unique as she was.

The ring itself is retired now, so they are extremely hard to find, and sometimes outrageously expensive. I don’t think there’s a single link I’ve found for this piece that hasn’t said “sold.” So it’s an idea that I remembered from my teenage years…. I don’t think they’ll mind. If they do, too late now.

On that “note,” time to get to cleaning the dust off my ceiling fan. I’ve taken an antihistamine to hopefully combat the extreme reaction. #fingerscrossed


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