Rise Up Singing

I’ve started singing again.

I don’t remember when I stopped singing, or why. Maybe there wasn’t a why.

Maybe there was just a loud child, whose parents had to make a specific dinner table rules prohibiting singing. Who wore out Disney cassette tapes and scratched grooves of clumsy enthusiasm into the best tracks on edutainment vinyl records.

And somehow that turned into a silent adult, whose throat shriveled up from stage fright when she tried to hum, even if there weren’t any other people around. Who bought a guitar but wouldn’t learn to play it, because the neighbors might hear. Who almost started shaking during a party game once, when the totally-lame “dare card” mandated singing two lines of a pop song.

I don’t know why I found music so mortifying for so long, or why it’s starting to come back. But it is. I catch myself singing while doing chores. Singing loud enough that the neighbors might hear me, maybe, if they happen to be really close to a window. And I mostly convince myself I don’t even care, and sing louder.

Okay, so I still roll up my windows at stoplights so pedestrians can’t overhear my serenades. But I leave those same windows down while I’m crooning and cruising the city streets. I belt it out in the shower, and hope my voice carries anonymously across the apartment pipes. I’ve tried once or twice to sing along to a song with somebody else in the room. It hasn’t worked yet – still quavery and hoarse from nerves – but I don’t feel like I have to change my name and move to Canada to avoid facing that person again.

This isn’t a story about a rock ‘n’ roll soul. I’ve done a lot of growing, in the past couple years. Without implying that it’s time to stop improving, it’s still safe to say: I like this version of me a lot. Metaphorically, there is some punk rock in a lot of things I do. A bit of glam pop. A lot of Americana. A sly nod to the blues. But this isn’t about the metaphors.

This is about somehow, slowly – without any when or why – starting to believe it really is okay to sing again.


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The Sweaters of Gravity Beach

Unseasonably cool weather sent children to the beach in droves, wearing sweaters. Naturally, sand snuck into the knitted woolen loops. Each playful scoop shoveled onto the sandcastles (where ice minnow princesses jousted with icicles, romanced a cod, and died) let a few grains spill into the heavy, fuzzy yarn.

There was a duneside path to the beach. Easy enough to go in, when it was downhill, and your sweater was light and care-free. But by the time you had spent an afternoon playing, your toes were good and cold, and your sweater weighed nearly as much and as much again as your tiny body. Walking up the path, away from the beach and the beautiful shore, became a battle of physics. Gravity conspired against you.

A few strong youths made it out, but most children eventually abandoned the struggle, leaping back into sand pits and wishing for campfires to stay warm. And the sun kept fading daily into duller and duller echoes. 

There are nights even now when building bonfires draw them out in droves, the abandoned children of gravity beach. They come with their baggy sweaters and their pale, chilled hands. They creep close to the fires clutching sandcastle pails and plastic shovels that have been bleached to bone by the distant, cold sun. We toss them minnows. We shiver.

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The Saturday Morning Coffee Hymn

At work all week, I drink Bad Coffee.

The office coffee machine is a marvel of modern technology. Like many office marvels, it produces a serviceable but dispirited blend. Sad and bitter. Chalky and flat. The brew idles for hours on a burner and simmers into tar almost immediately. You try to cheer it up with the addition of a prepackaged creamer (or four). Cinders, with plastic sweetness and vanilla. Just decent enough to pass.

Saturday morning #coffee and #clutter.

Saturday morning coffee, then. First the beans, which are whole and glossy. An authoritarian whirr of the grinder. The self-satisfied gurgle of the little Mr. Coffee drip machine. (Or if I’m feeling especially analog, it’s into the knowing gleam of the french press pot.) Fresh milk, never skim. My favorite chipped blue mug. Or maybe the red one, with stars.

Saturday morning coffee must be drunk later than you would normally rise, slower than you would normally drink it. Saturday morning coffee must be enjoyed with music playing in the background. You may go back for a second or third cup, but only because it’s delicious – never because you need the boost. Saturday morning coffee is best enjoyed in a lawn chair, and/or in pajamas. Saturday morning coffee is complimented by a good book, or calling your mom on the telephone. Saturday morning coffee benefits from being set down beside clutter, newspaper piles, and old flowerpots. If two people share Saturday morning coffee, they may talk or not talk, so long as neither the coffee, the talking, or the not-talking is rushed.

Ritual caffeination and reclaiming pleasure from necessity. Just a little something for your weekend to-do list.

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Sick Day

I am taking a sick day. My first one in a very long time. This is day nine of an unpleasant little flu. Nine! That is way too long to be hauling around a fever. I am feeling better than I did a couple days ago, but still coughing and exhausted.

I feel guilty, guilty, guilty about taking the day off. This is compounded by the fact that my boss always tries to talk me out of sick days, usually with some success. Today she didn’t. Woo! Of course, I later found out it’s because she never got my message that I was staying home. Whoops.

To my left sits a shiny black and glass phone. An iPhone, if I may name-drop. I’ve owned it for about two weeks. I really love everything about having entered the smart phone era, except for two things: 1) the monthly bill and 2) using it for phone calls. I may have to add to the list: 3) drops only important text messages to your boss.

That’s right. I don’t like the iPhone as a phone. As a very small app-based computer, it’s great. But my old flip phone was infinitely better for making calls. I could cradle it on a shoulder. I could dial it without looking. The battery life was stellar. It was the opposite of slick – in fact, I had covered it with contact paper as a DIY case – but that just means I never once worried about dropping it. The iPhone, by contrast, slips off any surface I set it on. It wants to go wandering about, scooting on its shiny little butt.

I have to be better by this weekend. HAVE TO BE. On Saturday I am volunteering as a docent for the “Jungle Love” event at the local zoo. This is their Valentine’s themed adults-only event where they talk about all the hilarious ways animals get it on. My job will be to walk around with a tenrec or lizard before the show, for people to ooh and aah over. Before the part where they start giggling and blushing. I am very excited about this and cannot do it if I am coughing all over everybody. Then Sunday I will visit Kid Sister in Collegetown. She’s a very busy nursing student with little time in her schedule for sister visits and no time at all for getting sick, so I have to be completely non-contagious to enter her studious sanctuary.

Meanwhile, my teeth hurt. My teeth! Seriously cold, what the heck. Leave my gums alone, please. I’m using this afternoon to go visit other Sick Sister, who started this whole business (thanks, sister germs) and who is willing to share her cough syrup with codeine (thanks, sister pharmacist). And drink buckets of orange juice. Buckets!

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Happy Turkey Day, Blogland! I am off to the home of Newly Married Sister #2, who is terribly excited about hosting her first family holiday. She is cooking a turkey, and also a back-up turkey, so that if she messes up on one, Mama Matriarch need never know.

I am thankful for my family, for opportunities, for the happy medium; for my pets and my health and what’s left of my sanity (related, I’m sure); for warm socks, the duck pond, cheap wine, and the Internet. And I am thankful for being surrounded, today and every day, by people with crackling senses of humor. May God laugh with you, not at you. And on to the sweet potatoes!

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Stuff ‘n’ Stuff

A couple updates on what’s where, where’s doing, and who I’ve offended lately. (If I’d known you own a chihuahua I wouldn’t have called them little bug-eyed tremble-rats. Oh who am I kidding, yes I would. But ADORABLE bug-eyed tremble-rats, does that help?)

Things at the job have settled pretty well. It’s still data entry, which still makes my eyes cross and my legs twitch, but mostly things are okay. I can rock it. The overtime hasn’t been as crushing as they expected (yet – oh, there’s still time!), and I’ve fallen into a tolerable routine. I am a lady who like her tolerable routines, so all’s well there.

I’m still hoping something will open up in my current company that will allow me to transfer into a more professional capacity next year. But should that miracle fail to materialize, I’m planning to save up some moving dollars, and job search far and wide in 2012. I’ve pegged April/May as the ideal time, and am eying Chicago, Austin, Seattle, and Madison. And because I love my mitten, I’m keeping my ears open for leads in Ann Arbor/GR/Kalamazoo and maybe even Detroit, too.

This has put me on the outs with my apartment complex. To sum up my tale of woe, the person I talked to at the end of my lease about short-term options gave me incorrect information. She no longer works there, and her boss acted VERY angry with me for A) paying what I was told to pay and B) not signing something I was not asked to sign. Which would all be just boo-boos and band-aids, except that the CORRECT information (which would have been helpful to have at the end of July) means I can no longer afford my apartment. Brill.

So I’m trying to find a new place that’s cheap, offers a 6-month lease, allows a cat, and has minimal meth-producing neighbors. Yeah, we’ll keep you updated on how well THAT’S going. Here’s hoping for best three outta four?

And this means my best-case scenario right now involves moving twice in the near future, which I’m trying not to think about too much. As if the stress of packing/shifting/unpacking wasn’t enough, I’m a ridiculous homebody. I get attached to places. I put down roots if I sit in the same chair for too long. Moving just KILLS me. The thought of leaving my quiet balcony and duck-pond behind is too sad for words.

I’ve spent a couple hours at the zoo recently, but not nearly as many as I should have. I’m 25 hours shy on my yearly volunteer commitment, and no idea how I’m going to squeeze it in before the end of the year, especially with all the impending overtime and last-minute schedule changes at work. Doing my best, though.

MEANWHILE, everybody should check out Potter Park Zoo’s baby tiger cub cam IMMEDIATELY.

Sister A got married this past weekend, which was lovely and nice and stuff and I ate a quail for the wedding dinner. Yay. That’s, yeah, more or less all I’ve got about that one.

Keepin’ people updated about my life. One sporadic blog post at a time.

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Bonus Feature: Blogging about Blogging

This marks ONE WHOLE WEEK where I blogged every day. Woo!

(Except yesterday, but I went out directly after work and got home late and that was unexpectedly fun and I make no excuses (except for all these excuses)).

I think mostly what I proved is that I ain’t got the writing chops to blog every day! But that it doesn’t hurt to do it anyway!

The secret to being interesting isn’t your subject matter. It’s knowing how to fill in the silences.

As someone who is inherently fond of silences, this has taken a very long time to learn. But I’m really liking this new-found strategy: to bore people (ahem, blog readers) in such a sneaky way they mostly don’t even realize they’re bored.

Sneakery, y’all!

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