The Hillhouse

The Journey of a Mother and Son

Better December 10, 2013

Feeling a bit better now. After my last post, my body seemed to respond to my mood by bursting into a mini cold-flu, making my weekend rather unpleasant, but here I am, on the other end, regrouping, assessing, thinking about things and in general trying to put a different spin on it all.

Yeah, I’m still not entirely crazy about my life these days. But is anyone? I awoke a little while ago, and spent some time just looking out over the snow-covered scene outside my window. I could see stars through the pine trees and a gentle glow from within the coop. How lucky was I to see such tranquility, such beauty, right there in front of me, from my own home? I paused to reflect on the moment. There was still present in my gut a dull sort of dread – I’ll call it that, for lack of a better word – at the frightening and unpleasant things yet before me in my life, but, at the same time, there was also a feeling of gratitude for all I had that was good. I mean come on, I was one lucky woman. I spent a few minutes in a sort of life-review in order to convince myself. I remembered different eras gone by, from spending my summers as a kid on a farm to being a jazz singer in big cities, to sailing on the North Atlantic, jumping out of planes, touring with bands, the years of teaching, hosting a radio program, a long, treasured relationship, a beautiful home (several of them, actually) an enjoyable pregnancy and an amazing child – all manner of experiences, and all my own. All the places I’d been, all the scenes I’d been part of. Man, who gets all of this in a lifetime? An old friend once remarked upon my arrival here (at the doorstep of a yet another ‘new’ life that I was none too happy about) that it seemed I’d lived five different lives already. And she was kinda right. This slower, quieter life in the country may not have the instant appeal or rockstar thrills of my past lives, but it’s a lovely one to be sure.

My mother had come by earlier in the evening for a visit, and Elihu had played his bass for her. As we sat there listening to him, I had realized that this was one of those moments. It was one of those windows in time I’ll be happy to look back on one day. It was one of those perfect little capsules of life. The stuff that makes everyday life worth all the crap. And we showed mom our newly decorated Christmas tree too. And finally, we surprised her with an old video I’d found of the two families from some twenty-seven years ago. Mom was about the age I am now in the video, and Fareed and I were skinnier (and younger) than I ever remember us being. My father played the harpsichord while my parents-in-law looked on. There was a good deal of chatter on the video and we laughed to see everyone being very much themselves.  It was such a nice surprise to have a window into that time. Naturally, for me it was a rather bittersweet thing – I still cannot wrap my brain around this whole change thing. But in spite of our whitening hair and widening waistlines, it was wonderful to be able to share it with mom and Elihu both, to give us all a nice sense of the scope and progression of things. I’d originally thought it would be most important for Elihu to see, but in the end, I think it served me better. It’s me, after all, who needs to be reminded of all that I’ve had, and to make peace with the changing landscape of my life – and oh, that last little detail – to somehow come to grips with my mortality. ! (There’s a gal at school who just figures certain changes are inevitable in life and accepts it all with a low-key, classy sort of attitude – I however, find the facts that I need reading glasses, root cover-up and have gone up two dress sizes without even trying are flat-out unacceptable! ‘That shit is for other people! Not me’! I cry as they drag me off to the looney bin…)

Ok. I’m better. I’m seeing things more clearly today. I mean, in a nutshell, I kinda feel I got it all. A wonderful, happy child. Parents next door, a cozy little cottage in the country, overall my health isn’t bad, and let me not forget my job. One in which I actually get to do what it is that I do –  and something that I actually enjoy doing. A job at which I see my own child daily, plus I get to be with all these other wonderful kids all day long too. Really? Wow. Yeah, it’s a good thing. A good thing.

From the middle of this snowy winter night, things are looking a lot better than they did a couple of days ago.

 

Funk December 7, 2013

Been in a bit of a funk all week. Partly because of an old friend’s death, I think. The idea of him being so absolutely gone, and for something that seemed so fixable. Partly that. Partly other stuff too I guess. Stupid stuff. Like a parking ticket I really can’t afford, given to me while I loaded my kid’s bass in at school. And then the way it doubled on the very day I got paid (and the day, of course, I’d planned to pay the ticket). Or like the crown wiggling its way loose again when I haven’t even paid for the last time my doc re-glued it in place. Or maybe it’s been the onslaught of new music I’ve had to learn and read for school. I’ve spent the past two decades avoiding this very sort of thing, now here I am beset with it. Good for me, I suppose. (Some of it’s been written specifically for the classes, so it’s strange, chromatic and meandering and there’s no way to ‘hear’ one’s way out of it). And then there’s the constant lack of money and the fast-coming holiday. Thankfully, Elihu will be with his father, so East coast Santa’s off the hook for an extra week. No extra income, though. Maybe the extra week will buy a solution. I’m unsure though, and worrying about it has me tired and stressed. Then there are the aging folks in my family, an alcoholic brother, a mother who doesn’t think things are all that bad, and all the mental energy it’s taking to avoid thinking about that whole scene. Ich. And there are five baskets of laundry taking up my bedroom floor that need to be folded and put away. A Christmas tree that needs to be bought and decorated, a party next week to host, evites for which must yet go out… And a piano to tune. Which will likely fall to the bottom of the list of priorities when I scrutinize more closely my month’s budget. And lastly – and most vainly – there’s my waistline. I was feeling great this past summer – I really did make my fiftieth a success – but I’ve sadly just about un-done all my progress in just a few short months of Halloween candy, home-baked bread and apple pies (oh, yeah, and after last night, you can add homemade meatballs to the list). Of all people, I should know better! All that deprivation for nothing. Crap. Lastly, there are my fingers. Betraying me with unrelenting rheumatoid arthritis almost every single day. Just last night I noticed a new growth of bone spur on one of my outer knuckles. My third fingers are now getting stuck in between the three black notes (but not the two black notes, which are just a tiny bit further apart. Til now, who knew?) and I must tug to wrest them free as I play. Very discouraging. Very.

All the way ’round, I’m just not feeling too good these days. I just can’t seem to get ahead of it. Can’t find peace. Can’t quite get myself up and out of this temporary funk. At least I hope it’s temporary….

What to do? I make a list. First, I might do well with sitting in quiet. I don’t think I even know how to do that anymore… Yes. Maybe that’s it. I should be meditating. I remember a couple of years ago when I moved here, shaken and sick with heartbreak, I meditated almost an hour a day. Sat quiet, in a dark closet, imagining my in-breaths igniting all the little energy spirals up and down my spine… An hour of chakra-balancing felt like fifteen minutes. Stepping out of the dark room I was always surprised when I looked at the clock. And it helped. I remember it did. But how on earth to get that back into my routine again? It seems so, well, hard. Boring. Ok, how to start? Keep it short. Do-able. Schedule it in every morning first thing. Ok. First on the list. Meditate. Right.

I think the answer might also be a gym membership. I know I need to move. Means I need to apply for a Y scholarship, I guess. Must be sure to use it if they give it to me… but when would I go? And what to do with the kid while I workout? I feel stopped before I start. I suppose I could walk outside instead. Tried it for a while, but petered out on it, completely bored with the same stretch of road, the long, empty silence. Music… yes, I should get music back in my life. Haven’t used ear buds in a good decade (I suppose since my kid was born). But I need help with this too. My ancient, classic IPod sits unused, filled with songs my next-door neighbor back in Illinois gave me (without the legitimate purchase and therefore legal licensing) and I am somehow unable to add songs to it from my similarly ancient and now dead Macbook. How do I retrieve the handful songs I did purchase once upon a time? And why can’t I simply add them to my pirated list, or at least input them without re-formatting the whole shebang and starting completely over? Don’t know, and I can’t seem to figure it all out. So when I do walk (which these days is actually never) I walk in silence. And somehow, I think it might be easier to move if I had a soundtrack. Man. I miss the days of cassettes. They were so much easier. It embarrasses me slightly to say so, but there it is.

You could say that I need some help in general when it comes to technology. Like the kind of help I always seemed to have around in the old days. A local college kid who can help me streamline my administrative duties – the kind of kid who would say ‘admin’ and not ‘administrative’…  I need a kid who’s still cheerful enough to think that none of my ‘admin’ needs are really that big of a deal and who can hold my hand through some much needed media upgrading in my life. There’s the IPod thing, yes, but then there’s so much more. I’ve been advised that as an aspiring writer/blogger I need to Tweet. I bought a book about it, but even after reading it I feel stopped. I can see the appeal, but I can’t seem to get past setting up an account. I’ve also been told it would be advantageous of me to use Foursquare. Really? I’m only ever in one of three places: behind the piano at school, behind the sink doing dishes at home, or driving back and forth somewhere between the two. Is that of interest to anyone, really? (Besides, can I even do all that stuff on my old-school flip phone?)

I’m not sure where to begin. The technology train left years ago and I did not get on board. Maybe all I need is to wait another couple of years and let Elihu help me. But aren’t I supposed to be helping him? Man. Last night we saw a record player in the window of a shop and he said he wished we had one. Careful what you wish for, kid….

In order that I might not sound myself too much like a record player – a broken one, that is – I shall stop my song now. Much to consider, much to do. And much I will no doubt put off til later. Only thing is, I can’t wait too long. Cuz stuff that currently smells bad tends to get even funkier the longer it’s left unattended…