nothing on my own

Before I say anything else this morning, I would like to offer a word of advice to all those out there who cook, and who cook within a time frame that has very little wiggle room. Never, I repeat, never believe a recipe that calls itself simple or easy, when it involves stuffing manicotti. Simple it may be, easy it could be, but time consuming it most definitely will be, and you will run out of time. That is all.

Now, some of you remember that I wrote a few weeks ago about the fact that I had to write a song in a very short time frame, my first in over two years. Well, that song was written, and was played at church, and was recorded.  I am biting my tongue (or…restraining my fingers?) to keep from making excuses or inserting caveats here, so without further ado, if you’re interested, here it is.

Nothing On My Own

Happy Spring!

learning to love (and respect)

I’ve been sitting here for 45 minutes trying to work up the motivation to clean my apartment. It’s not in terrible shape, just kind of the general chaos of disarray it usually takes on by the end of my three days at work. I know it’s totally possible to hold down a FULL-time job and keep your abode clean, but I have not mastered even the part-time job and cleanliness mix. So by Wednesday night, our apartment is usually a bit of a mess. It’s worse since I’ve been pregnant–dealing with my developmentally disabled charge during the days at work completely uses me up, leaving me physically and mentally exhausted. Which is infuriating, because it doesn’t feel like I do very much at work, let alone at home. But that’s another story, one not worth telling because it mostly involves self-pity, which is not very interesting or attractive.

ANYway. My husband is a much neater individual than I. Now, I would say I clean (as in scrub with chemicals) more than he does…but he organizes much more often than I do. And the clutter bothers him in a way that doesn’t occur with me. I mean, I get paralyzed by the mess, but I am usually still able to turn my head and fall asleep at the end of the night (which might have something to do with the aforementioned state of gestation). Obviously, I am not going to get motivated to clean for myself (although that does happen on occasion), or because I should. But I have found that when I think of cleaning as an act of love that will bless my husband, it becomes a little easier to work up the motivation.

Matthew recently took on an additional job for some friends of ours who own a car business of sorts. The job more or less involves them calling Matthew last minute to see if he’s free to drive or fly to some distant location and then drive a car back for them. This happened for the first time on Tuesday, he left Wednesday, and will be back late tonight. And I am determined that he will come home to a neat-ish apartment. Not because I have some sort of archaic notion that it is what is required of me to be a good wife (I will not be freshly applying makeup to greet him at the door with a kiss), but because I love him and I know how much better he will feel if he walks into a clean-ish apartment than if it’s a messy one. And really, when I compare the payback with how little effort the gesture will really take, it’s a no brainer. I simply learn to respect the way he works, and tailor my gestures of love to speak to his needs. Like the need for neatness instead of clutter.

True love isn’t really found in the grand gestures of romance and affection, although those are nice and have their place, I guess (not being a big romantic myself I guess I don’t really know). Loving someone effectively really takes place in the tiny banalities of the every day. It’s easy to shrug them off, but the true importance of those little things is quickly remembered when you’re angry because somebody didn’t do them. So…I’m off to love my husband and clean my apartment. The nice thing about this particular little thing is that it actually makes my day better too…I’m not really that awesome at loving someone yet.

food phobias and late night epiphanies.

Yes, yes, I realize that I just wrote yesterday. It’s just that last night I realized something about myself that cleared up some confusion, some insidious questions that have been lurking in the back of my mind for years.

You see, I have always considered myself to be an open-minded eater of food. Not picky, am I. However, I have long since realized that there are certain foods of which I have no desire to partake, even foods that I will staunchly refuse to try should the opportunity present itself. I have worried a little over this, thinking that perhaps I am not so “not-picky” as I would like to think. Late last night, however, I had an epiphany that explained my few food phobias, and put my self-doubt to rest.

One food I have no desire to try (but which does not qualify as a food phobia) is frog legs. Now, if face with a platter and enough peer pressure, I have no doubt that I would overcome and at least taste said amphibious appendages. Because while frogs are not appealing to me, with their slimy skin and webbed feet, they are not shudder worthy and therefore, I might be persuaded to partake. Let me reiterate: no desire to. At all.

Moving right along to shudder worthy, let’s talk snails. Otherwise, and more aptly titled slugs. I cannot foresee the combination of circumstances that would ever induce me to eat escargot. I know it’s incredibly uncouth of me, but when I think of actually eating a creature which resembles a big old hunk of phlegm more than an animal, and which leaves a trail of slime wherever it may roam–well, suffice it to say my insides revolt. French delicacy notwithstanding, I doubt I could quite get the mucus-y original out of my head to sufficiently overcome my squeamishness. But even escargot, as little as it appeals to me, is not where I intend to firmly and irrevocably draw the line.

No, my friends. Slimy slugs, while disgusting, do not yet fill me with enough horror to say that I would never eat them. For that, we must descend into the terrifying depths, the deep sea world which in and of itself is a phobia of mine. Lurking in the shadows we find a creature more horrifying and revolting than any other of God’s ingenious creations (which is saying something, because there are a lot of weird animals out there). That nightmare of the deep, that monstrosity of international cuisine: the octopus. No kidding, the octopus is without question the abomination of animal life in my book. Calamari forsooth! Be-tentacled, bulbous, and armed with an ink sac to top off the revulsion, this fiendish beast shall never cross my lips, nor (heaven forbid!) shall I ever meet one in person. From its beaked maw right down to the suction cups on its tentacles, there is no element of this cephalopod that does not fill me with loathing.

What was the epiphany, you may ask? Well, from the three examples listed above, it’s obvious that the intensity of my food phobias is more or less directly proportionate to the level of distaste (or horror) I feel for the animal itself while it is alive. I have no affection for frogs, but the lack of revulsion I feel for them might enable me to eat frogs legs should the occasion inescapably arise. But because of my deep seated, long lived hatred of octopi, I will by any means necessary avoid eating calamari or any other dish with this animal in the ingredients.

See? I’m not picky. I just hate cephalopods!

facing down that guitar.

You know how sometimes you can’t make yourself do the things you love, even the ones that seem like they are a part of who you are, or at least who you are supposed to be? Songwriting is like that for me. I am not exaggerating when I say I wrote my last song two years ago (plus three months). That’s long enough ago that the mere prospect of sitting down with my guitar and even attempting to write something is enough to send my heart racing, and bring nervous tears to my eyes. I don’t know what it is that keeps us from doing the things we should, but let me tell you. When you’ve been gone this long, it is hard to get back.Whatever it was that distracted me in the first place (and I can think of several things, like planning a wedding, getting married, and then moving) is no longer a factor in keeping me away. Now I am paralyzed by my fear of writing a really bad song. Because it will be. If you don’t write for two years, your first few songs will be bad. That’s it. And in my heart of hearts, I really just want to be a genius…so I’m stuck.

So, why write this? Why now? Well, at the beginning of this year, I began a position with my church as a “worship assistant”. As such, I lead the worship service once a month. However, the main guy, my boss, happens to know that I write. Therefore, part of my job description is to write music that we will then play, on Sunday, in front of people. And, even better, I have a deadline. My first song in over two years must be written by March 9th. It will be performed in front of two full services March 13th.

This is good. I’m saying that because I know it is, not because I like it. Definitely not because I didn’t cry hysterically for twenty minutes yesterday, telling my husband I couldn’t do it, I will never write another song, and I have nothing to say. It’s good because it’s forcing me to face my guitar, write a couple of really bad songs, and get on with it. I am not at all excited about this, not any of it. Although when I remember that at the end of this ordeal, playing my guitar will be normal for me again, I can almost believe that it’s worth the songs that I will cringe to remember and try to forget. Because as Nathan (my boss) told me, if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing badly. Sounds crazy, right? So is avoiding exercising your talent simply because you can’t bear the thought of making bad art while you get back into practice.

After patiently and kindly listening to me cry for twenty minutes yesterday, Matthew pulled out a scrap piece of paper and wrote down some parameters for me and my momentous first-song-in-two-years.

-2 chords

-1 repeated phrase

-less than three minutes (preferably closer to two minutes) long

-bad.

So here we go.