I like running away to the Cape during the off-season. It’s quiet and still, and it feels like it’s all our own. The water is cold and the wind is brisk, but there’s breathtaking beauty and life (not to mention adorable shops and picturesque pit-stops) everywhere we look. It’s Mary Oliver poetry and Edward Hopper paintings and every jaunty singalong song you can think of. It’s gentle and unassuming and welcoming, and it’s just what we needed.
Holy Week looms; the most hectic, demanding, and important week on the church musician’s calendar. So much to do, both administrative and vocal. I’m determined to keep calm, focused, and positive. I’m trying to stay on top of the timeline, but time is sneaky, and every time I think I’m ahead, little obstacles (often in the form of phone calls from the priest) pop up and demand attention. As a practicality, I must work harder to take care of myself. The unpredictable weather is playing cruel tricks on my allergies and vocal cords, and staying hydrated is a huge chore.
My mantra for the week: prepare well, practice smartly, communicate clearly, and have kind, calm confidence.
The truth is, Easter makes me melancholy. Maybe it’s the let-down after all that rushing and running up to the day. Maybe it’s all those lovely memories I have of joyfully social Eastertides, and a longing for more. It just feels like this is a day that is best filled with family and friends, kicking back together while the kids run around blissfully sugar-rushed. We don’t have an Easter tradition (unless “Melissa doesn’t cook on Easter” counts as tradition). We don’t have a standard routine on Easter. We don’t know what we’re doing after the singing’s finished on Easter, and I long for something. More than anything, it makes me miss my family back home, and hope I’m giving the girls sweet memories of something other than Easter baskets, too.
Ahhh…but who has time to think about that with all these chants to brush up on, masses to sing, and programs to print? Back to work I go…
Spring is here, not a minute too soon.
I needed this reset.
I needed this light.
I needed this laughter.
I needed this permission.
Permission to wear flowers and big sunglasses.
Permission to turn the music up loud.
Permission to move ahead.
Permission to take my time, to wander.
I needed this inspiration.
Inspiration by way of color,
and shared smiles,
and happy light-filled pictures,
and the sun shining on my face,
and new beginnings,
and blank pages.
I need the new season.
I think we all did.
[I'm back, babies. Hope you're enjoying the daffodils as much as I am. xo]
[pictures from the end of winter break, a trip to Dylan's Candy Bar. Kids in a candy store.]
Sunday’s list: things I’m amazingly, wonderfully grateful for
~ Shoulders to cry on when you really need to break down. People that will put on your favorite song and silly-dance with you until you laugh. People that will put on a sing-along and bring you a drink. People that understand your spirit, its soft gooey edges and best intentions
~ People that give big, giant, lean-in hugs (bonus points for the cheek-kiss, NYC-style)
~ Being an intuitive listener
~ Singing at Carnegie Hall for the second time within a month
~ My husband/co-parent/laugh-maker/food-chooser/tv-buddy/friend/love. Two weeks apart has been very long indeed.
~ People that help, really help
~ Finally starting to read Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe books
~ Living in the Internet age, where you can just look up mysterious song-lyrics in a flash
~ Little Irish dancers and watching my Emma develop a real passion for something
~ Ambition, direction (even when imagined), and making plans
~ Poetry and prose by my two Mary-muses, Ms. Oliver and Ms. Ruefle
~ A light week ahead
~ Sincere compliments (the giving and the receiving of)
~ Good customer service
~ The Four Agreements, and really finally learning (ok, trying hard) to not take things personally
~ The promise of spring
~ Red lipstick and shiny hair
~ Wing-tip shoes
~ Finding true delight in the success of others
~ Making music. Making music!
~ Loving big, with no regrets
There’s a finish line just in sight. Well, maybe not a finish line, but there’s definitely a speed-bump built into next week that will implore and allow me to slow down. In the meantime, this is my busiest (ugh. that nasty ‘b’ word again…) week of the year.
I’ll be back shortly, to tell you about Singing with the Vienna Phil, and Co-Chairing the big Auction Gala, and watching the daughter’s First Reconciliation service, and Dealing with some serious Mean Girls/Women, and My Vision Woes, and the Next Two Weeks with Husband Out of Town on Business.
I’ll be back to tell you about all that and more. …but right now I’ve got to navigate all this stuff, and get some sleep, and take a little girl to ballet, and take her sister to Irish dance, and spend the afternoon at school, and get some work done, and drink more coffee, and take off some of these hats. Not necessarily in that order.
Be good, lambs. It’s almost Friday, and you are loved.
I miss writing every day. I miss the habit. I miss the wide open, welcoming me into this space, the cup of coffee beside the computer, active chat-window open, music playing as I stretch and kvetch and share. I miss it so very much.
It’s so lame to say we’re just too busy now. We’re busy! We are! But a few other things are blocking the way. The habit is gone. The workspace has been taken over by auction paperwork and stray books and mail and art supplies and second-grade ephemera (here’s hoping we never have to papier-mâché cereal boxes into the form of the ten commandments ever again!). The day has no steady routine that belongs to me, nothing solidly carved into those spaces between school drop-offs and dance classes and rehearsals and bedtimes. I’ve lost my structure. I’m introverted. I’m more shy than you know.
And then there’s that other thing: I don’t know how candid to be. How much of an open book to lay at your feet. How much of self to reveal, how many layers deep to go. What is my voice here, and if I put it on the page, will we both cringe when I look you in the eye three hours from now? I’ve been asking myself that. And here’s the answer: I’m open. I’m me. I don’t mind if you know my deeper thoughts, just as I don’t mind if you don’t read.
But still, I’m not writing.
Remember way back in the day when everyone did those “25 things about me” lists on The Facebook? Some people were all on the surface, going no deeper than their favorite ice cream flavors* and the thread count of their bedding**. Other people got so deep that it was nearly startling.
I think it’s time for another “25 things about me”. I just need to decide where to fall on that spectrum of depth.
It’s gotta be real, wherever it is.
* dulce de leche and phish food, even though I’m lactose intolerant and allergic.
** no less than 400
* * *
Happy Valentine’s Day, my lovelies.
On one hand, it’s one of those manufactured Hallmark-and-Teleflora holidays. But on the other hand, I love expressions of LOVE and I love cards and I love flowers (or in my house: theatre tickets to my favorite favorite show) and I love celebrations where people dress in color-coordinated accessories.
I also love that my Emma and her sweet friend Z have taken the union implied in “Will you be my Valentine? Yes/No/Maybe” very seriously; they have a cupcake date this afternoon. I love that my Emma is so excited that she tried on three outfits before settling on a black velvet dress with pink sweater, and won’t leave the house until we’ve curled her hair just so. (For his part, Z got a haircut yesterday. These kids smell a photo opportunity…)
Oh, and I also love the extra snuggles and smiles and giggles. Maybe it’s the candy that a neighbor just dropped off for the kids, or maybe it’s the extra day off school or the sun shining so brightly through the window, but it sure is a happy day in our house.
Hope you have a very sweet, very happy day, friends.
I love you.
I’ve been thinking so much lately about the quality of experience at our fingertips here; so much of living in The City for us is about sharing the wonder. Amazing music, dance, museums, food…I want to share it all. I want our daughters to try it all, to create their own memories and culture, preferences, opinions, and stories.
When I was four years old, I begged my mom to let me start taking dance lessons. Even though finances were very stretched, I got those lessons. Throughout my childhood, they found a way to get me the dance lessons, the voice lessons, the piano, and so much more that I desperately wanted to try; it was a struggle, but it’s easy to see that I wouldn’t be where I am today without their vision, support, and sacrifices. They didn’t set out for me to be a performer – they just let me stretch, explore, and find my passions.
I knew then, as I know now, that these gifts are some of the greatest you can give a child. They’re worth the sacrifices, and they’re worth the time.
All this is to say: Eliza started ballet this week, and she loved it.
…and also: Thank you. xo
‘Tis the season of long gala meetings, weeknight rehearsals, clandestine coffee dates, and tri-weekly snowstorms. We’re finally all fitted with heavy-duty and relatively fashionable all-weather boots (sort of the City alternative to radial tires), but it’s so much more fun to stay inside in our pajamas, riding bikes/scooters on the rug, making endless art projects, and pretending that m&m’s are a decent lunch option.
I’ve got Big Decisions in my head, the sort of things requiring deliberation, spreadsheets and leaps of faith. But for now, for today, we’re just settling in and cozying up. The calm before (or between) the storm.
Eliza likes to cuddle up and say “How about a picture?”
(Does she know the way to my heart, or what?!)
She also likes to say “How about a hug?”, and frequently grabs my cheeks and says “You’re so cute, mom. Soooo cute.”
I like this kid.
These have shot straight to the top of my list of favorite questions/comments, right above my other favorite [non-eliza] compliments “Your hair smells nice”, “I love your perfume”, “You look fabulous in that dress”, and “You’re a really good listener.”
I’d give her some talking points, except that I’m so thoroughly enjoying this view of her social skills and small-talk.