So Jim got me a bass for my 31st birthday this last June, and my parents got me an amp to go with it. Did I mention that before? And I've played it a grand total of oh, four or five times. Yep. I suck.
It sits there in the corner, mocking me with its rad black sleekness, taunting me with the potential music therein which I am just not making. "You're no Kim Deal," it seems to say, "and will never be. You're really more of a Sid Vicious, except you don't even stand there looking cool not-playing. Ha ha ha ha, pudgyish thirty-something days-of-glory-long-past mom."
So I try. I pick it up. I adjust my strap. I employ my tuner. And I attempt to "play" something. And just as quickly, I take pity on the ears of those around me and put the bass down again. And go cook something or clean something instead.
Yesterday, Jim took the boys to play arcade games at the local Fun-Park, leaving me with an hour and a half of solitude. I told him "I'm going to take a bath and play my bass." He gave me a sweet sure-you-are smile and headed out.
I took my bath. I plugged in my bass. I turned the volume waaaay down on my amp, and I started noodling around. Discovered how to make the strings quit buzzing quite so much. Figured out how to play "Jingle Bells" (Merry Christmas, y'all!). And finally went and printed out the tabs for "Debaser," put the song on an infinite iTunes loop and did my valiant best to kinda-sorta play along. Then before I knew it, the boys were home and I felt compelled to stop playing so no one would have to hear me.
But about ten minutes (I think... time flies when you're playing bass) before the boys got home, I realized something. Just about everything I do that I could consider "work"--writing, cooking, errr, writing and cooking--comes easily to me. I don't have to try particularly hard to draft an article or come up with an exciting new way to combine chicken, onions, spices and rice. I get the pleasure of a job well done, but not the frustration of struggling with a challenge. And writing an article or fixing a meal is a fairly instant-gratification process: it's done, it's paid for (or eaten), and I'm on to the next thing. No agonizing process of self-doubt and reinvention... there's no time for that when you've got hungry kids or anxious editors waiting for you to produce.
So maybe fumblin' with the bass, going through the long slog of suckitude, will actually do something Character Improving for me. Maybe struggling and sticking with something for which I appear to have zero natural aptitude will prove a crucible of sorts, burning off the useless and lazy and comfort-loving squidge of my personality and replacing it with tested and battle-hardened virtue. Maybe it'll give me the confidence to actually finish a book (oh god I want to finish a book but it's so scary). Maybe I'll learn to ride a motorcycle, climb a rock, run more than half a block without expiring in fish-mouthed gasps.
Or maybe I'll just be able to get through "Debaser," and perhaps one or two other Pixies songs, without proving an utter embarrassment to myself and others. Heck, that sounds pretty good too.
1. Egg nog or hot chocolate? Hot chocolate with a little some'n some'n in it. And on Christmas morning, Brandy Alexanders (Brandies Alexander?). 2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? If someone else knows how to get Santa to come over and wrap the #@$! presents, I'd appreciate the tip. 3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? Solamente blanco! (I don't know how to do the accents or the upside-down exclamation mark thingy.) Except this year we're putting the old-school big fat colored bulbs on our purple cruiser bikes by way of outdoor decor. 4. Do you hang mistletoe? Not since the year we hung it over the toilet in the house on B-40. 5. When do you put your decorations up? Earlier than usual this year--the first weekend in December. 6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)? Sear-roasted beef tenderloin, mmm mm mm-mm mmmm. 7. Favorite holiday memory as a child: When Daddy built the dollhouse for Hannah and me. My favorite Christmas memory ever: being up at midnight Christmas Eve with my mom and sister wrapping presents and hearing sleigh bells jingling outside. We ran out onto the porch and saw Santa Claus driving his horse-drawn carriage right down the middle of our street. And a newer, bittersweet one: Uncle Pete bringing in the tray of Brandy Alexanders as we tore into our presents. 8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? I was probably six or seven--young enough, anyway, that we lived in the triplex in North Stockton. I came tiptoeing down the hall on Christmas Eve night and saw my parents stacking the presents under the tree. Don't remember feeling any particular disillusionment, but I do think I went and ratted them out to my sister. 9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? Nope! 10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree? This year, we're matchy-matchy all over the house with the bright retro colors (I bought Shiny-Brites for the first time last year and now it's become a sickness). But every handmade misspelled lopsided kid-ornament still goes on the tree. 11. Snow! Love it or dread it? Snow is my best weather. 12. Can you ice skate? If by "ice skate" you mean "skid ingloriously across the rink on my ass," then yes, yes I can. 13. Do you remember your favorite gift? My black leather motorcycle jacket--I'd wanted one since I was little and Jim got me one the second Christmas after we got married. 14. What's the most important thing about the holidays for you? Being a certified 100%-ritual-free person for most of the year, I love the chance to jump neck-deep into tradition for a few weeks. 15. What is your favorite holiday dessert? Currently, these teeny-weeny very peppery spice cookies I made for Fisher's class bake sale. Want some? There's freakin' millions of them hanging around. 16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? Gosh. All of them (see answer #14). 17. What tops your tree? A metal star that looks like one of those cool faceted stars often found on historic buildings in D.C. and Virginia. Because our house is steeped, teabag-like, in history. 18. Which do you prefer, giving or receiving? Giving, I guess; but my family's exceptionally good at choosing presents, and I'd be lying if I didn't admit to how much I love tearing into a package with my name on it... 19. What is your favorite Christmas song?
O Holy Night (either the super-traditional version or the Cartman version will do). 20. Candy canes: Meh. What the world needs is Curiously Strong Altoid cinnamon canes. Those, I would eat. 21. Favorite Christmas movie? "A Christmas Story," of course! 22. What do you leave for Santa? Spice cookies and hot chocolate with a little some'n some'n in it (see answer #1).
Read, respond--either in the comments or on your own blog--and spread a little unwonted cheer!
You know how you can look at something five million times and yet miss a perfectly obvious detail until someone else points it out to you?
That's what I did with the the title of this children's classic. I could've sworn it was "Go Dog Go."
But when Rhys asked me what the comma was for, I suddenly realized there were not one, but three punctuation marks I'd been missing in the umpty-seven years since I became aware of the book's existence.
Yep. It's right there on the cover. "Go, Dog. Go!"
And Rhys can read it.
His first-ever Real Book as what he can Read All (-most) By Himself.