Family and music

I love my family.  And I miss getting to spend time with them.  I had somewhat forgotten the existence of one of my cousins, because I hadn’t actually seen him in so long.  I knew he existed, of course, but it was as though I had accepted that it wasn’t ever an option to see him.  And so, it was a wonderful surprise – though I knew in my head that he would be here ahead of time – actually seeing him and spending time with him tonight.

One of the things I love about spending time with him is his musical gift.  He can be given any instrument, and, whether he has ever played it before or not, can be playing lovely music on it within a maximum of a few minutes.  We always end up humming and whistling and singing beautiful music together, whether we have an instrument or not (though we often have at least a guitar).

Tonight was no different.  He pulled out one of my favorite songs, and early on in the visit.  Oddly enough, I hadn’t listened to or sung/played the song in years, and so it was a fun surprise.  I had to look up the words, because it had been so long, but it was too good of a song not to get all the words right (“White Man” by Michael Gungor Band).

As he fiddled around on the guitar, my mom and I sat with him on the porch, listening to him play, and working on our puzzle/mystery boxes we were creating for his brother’s wedding reception this weekend.  The kind of music he was playing reminded me of why I ever wanted to learn to play guitar in the first place.  I want to play John Denver and Jim Croce music, and other things similar in style.  It has always been my long-term, distant future goal, since it really isn’t the easiest music, but there are plenty of things I can learn as stepping stones (and I have learned a good bit of them).  I just don’t play when I don’t have the company of someone else’s music.  

When I am with my cousin, we almost always take the time to sit down and teach me something new and, of course, beautiful to play.  Now that we are back living in the same country, we might actually be able to set up semi-regular music meet-ups for the two of us.  We’ll see.

Gosh, I love my cousin.

Post-a-day 2017

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My real voice

In college, I spent a summer studying in Germany.  It was a language school setup, filled with foreigners, but in such a small town that everyone knew that we were studying German, and so everyone always spoke to us all in German.  I had already studied abroad a few times before this adventure, and I had learned firsthand about what works and what doesn’t work, in terms of language immersion.  I was dedicated to learning German, and so I made sure that I only spoke in German with others, even if they spoke to me in English.  This made friendships hard among the people in my program’s group, since they all used English together; I came across a bit snobby, but I was just really committed to learning German.

I made friends with other foreigners rather easily, though, and especially ones in higher levels of German, which was even better for me.  My German was improving immensely.  But this led to a unique situation one day.

One day, near the end of either my time at the school or my friend Paul’s time there (he’s British), I found myself faced with a desperate Paul, actually begging me to speak English.  Why?! was my repeated question to his pleas.

“Because I want to hear what you sound like!”

I don’t know if he was pleased or not by how I sound in English, but I spoke a little for him.  And it was way weird, using English with him, despite the fact that I’d heard him speak English loads, and that it’s our common native language.  I had just never used it with him.

And then this brought up a unique and interesting sentiment.  He wanted to hear me, and that meant speaking English.  I can guess that my native tongue was the one in which Paul believed my identity to lie.  I know that it felt like I was setting aside a sort of mask when I switched to English with him.  I even felt a little called-out… as though I had been hiding somehow, and it had been behind German.  The real me (I) lay in English, in the English part of me.

Yet, years later, here I am, missing the parts of me that belong to these different languages in which I have lived.  A part of me, true me (I), exists only on German, and others in French, in Spanish, and in Japanese. So much so that the real me (I) is this whole combination of languages – I feel a huge emptiness and feel not myself when I am using only English in my daily life.  I listen to Spanish-speaking radio when I’m in Houston, mostly because I don’t get to use Spanish often enough.  I read every night in French, and trade off an English book for a German one at times for my evening reading, too.  I regularly pull out a Spanish book to read, or my German audiobooks.  And I have noticed that I have been searching for a tolerably satisfying way to have Japanese in my near-daily life, too.  (For now, it has just been the occasional music, and a perpetual repeat of a certain song being stuck in my head.)  When I don’t have them all, it is as though a part of me is missing, and suddenly getting to speak with someone in them, almost reminds me of that mask I was setting aside in Germany with Paul… like I am again setting aside some mask I have been wearing.

Perhaps it is now a mask of monolingualism, pretending that I only speak English, while I long for the world to talk to me in several languages, all the time.

Anyway… I’m exhausted.  And I miss Paul.  He was studying opera, and was a really great guy.  I wonder if he’s been really successful with opera these past several years.  Maybe I can go see him perform one day.  That would be awesome.  🙂

Post-a-day 2017

There is and there aren’t…

My pet peeve lately has been the incorrect use of the phrase “There is…”.  I don’t know what it is about this particular phrase, but it currently feels as though the whole of the English-speaking USA got together and decided to stop using the phrase “There are…”, as though they wanted to drive me even more insane right now.

I usually am not so picky on any particular phrase or wording with people’s speech.  Usually, I correct it automatically in my head, and I’m okay with everything.  Certainly, I always wish the grammar were better than it is, however, I typically am able to accept the grammar as it comes from any given individual.  I guess that this one is just really getting to me, because no one seems to be able to use the correct words, but I have spent most of my life experiencing people using the correct words regularly.  It’s as though everyone suddenly forgot while I was gone for a year.

Weird.

 

Post-a-day 2017

a place in our world

Sometimes I wonder about whether there really will be a place for me in our modern, developing world.  There so many things that are becoming commonplace that go against so much of who I am.   From the simplest tiny things to morals to lifestyle to core beliefs and thinking patterns, I notice a difference between so much of how the society functions around me and what is in me, myself.  I realize that, somehow, I will have a place in the world, but I wonder if it is in the part of the world I already know, or if I will find myself in an entirely different society, somewhere else in the world… not in what I consider my home.

I just wonder…

Post-a-day 2017

Mr. Right

I’ve been thinking tonight about my Prince Charming, my personal one, my desired future.  It all started with thinking about musical theater as I showered.  As most shower stream-thoughts go, I ended up on a very loosely connected tangent.  Do you know the song by Chris August called “Stranger”?  It’s a beautiful song, and I fell in love with it several years ago.  A lot happened related to that song, but let’s not go there now.  While some specific lyrics rolled through my head over and over again, as song lyrics so often do, something struck me.

I dreamed you.  
Now, I’ve found you.  
Call off the search, 
’cause I found my stranger.

Those were the specifically inspiring words tonight.  Though I have listened to the song more times than I know, and I know every word still, despite having stopped listening to it years ago (for reasons I won’t mention just yet), I have never had the thought that followed those words as they repeated in my head tonight.

“I have never dreamt you.”

Though I have wished and wished, and even hoped and prayed and asked for my partner in life, I have never dreamed him up.  I have begun ideas before, but I have never come up with what my partner in life actually is.  You could ask me now, and I would have no idea what to tell you about the partner I want.  Sure, there are plenty of things I know that I don’t want, but everything else seems to change with how I feel each day, each time someone asks me about it.

Now, I don’t exactly see this as a bad thing.  I just happened to realize that I have never dreamed him up.  So, I can never have Chris August’s song become a reality for me – I can’t find my stranger.  I don’t even have a vision in my head of what it looks like being with someone.  Every time I have dreams where there seems to be a sort of partnership, I always seem to be the one taking care of someone else – the traditionally male role.  Or, perhaps it is the mother role I play.  I already seem to do that all over the place in life.  It’s the reason I have always wondered if I can ever find someone to take care of me.  But I digress…

I realized in the shower that I have no image of a person.  I don’t know if I’m looking for someone tall, dark, and handsome.  I don’t know if he is foreign or domestic made.  I don’t even know what kind of skin he has.  Again, I don’t necessarily see this as bad.  I am just noticing it.  I also notice how so many others seem to have dreamed up their partners years before they even have begun dating others.  I mean, they seem to know what they want.  By having that idea of what they want, they are able to seek it out.  Sometimes, when they find it, they realize they didn’t want it after all.  And sometimes they find something better along the way.  But they have something to pursue.  I don’t even have an idea to seek out, a type of someone or something to pursue.  Perhaps that is an issue with being so open to the world and to new ideas, and for knowing that what I see or think isn’t always the best that the universe has to offer.

Post-a-day 2017

The flood waters rise

Perhaps this is a temporary theme in my life right now.  Every year, right at this time, there is a sort of uncomfortable and somewhat scary experience with water.  Last year’s event had to do with the ocean and life, and this year’s is rain and houses.  Last year, I began a journey of self-discovery in the sense of never apologizing for who I am.  This is not to say that I shove things into people’s faces – by no means.  I must still be responsible for who and how I am, however, I need not change myself or my ways for fear of offense or even not fitting in.  In other words, I need not apologize via actual words (e.g. “I’m sorry.”) nor by altering my intended actions (e.g. Suddenly shaving my legs, because it is a cultural standard).  I have spent this past year truly learning how to live that in my daily life.  And the lesson is certainly not finished, as I continue in it every day.  I even fail sometimes, but it happens less and less often, and every instance empowers me, no matter the outcome.

This year, we have a hurricane-turned-tropical storm that has decided to cleanse the Greater Houston Area, and then some.  Hurricanes are typical around here at this time of year.  However, the amount of rain caused in five days by a particularly bad hurricane many years ago, has been dropped to the Earth in only two days this weekend.  And the rain clouds still have another three to five somewhat sedentary days of pouring before they are expected to move along.  We have breaks – there’s one right now – in the rain, so that helps with spirits considerably.  However, not all of the city is above the 100-year flood plane, as we are here.  My sister and her family live in a particularly terrible flooding area, and somehow hitched a ride on a canoe this afternoon, and ended up at a nearby church for safe shelter – her house had what looked like a foot of water inside it, despite its being several feet above the level of the road.  Supposedly, as they were all leaving (two other families were in their house, since they had still had power [the floor was still dry at the time], making it around, I’d guess, 13 people, five of them children aged five years and under), the water had reached the base of the stop sign at the corner by her house.

While my sister has done a good job of keeping spirits throughout the day, and even sent out an adorable photo of two of the kids in a super inflatable boat/raft that one might use for tubing, I have wondered what her thoughts are on all of her things in their house.  It is quite likely that they will lose a huge chunk of their possessions.  In the aforementioned photo, I saw family paintings on the walls, and wondered at them.  They have such a huge history with family arguments and disagreements and, I think, even some police involvement.  Not those particular paintings in her house necessarily, but paintings by that particular family member.  It just had me wonder about the point of it all.  Why did they all argue and share so much anger over things that now could disappear so easily from our lives?  And then I wonder, “Why do we do that with any material objects?”  Anything could be lost at any given moment for this or that reason.  Why do we care so much about these objects in the first place?

And so, I wonder if that is this year’s work.  It has already been on my mind off and one the past few weeks and couple or few months, and this past year’s topic was the same last year, being on my mind here and there already months before my water incident.  And, also like last year, I am granted the option to pursue the idea, to learn by will instead of by requirement or force of any kind.  My house and things are safe right now, and are likely to continue to be safe from this entire storm.  The question is simply one of how much I am willing to let go of the things that I own.  I am scared, but in a very good way.

Post-a-day 2017

The weather continues

Electricity was restored only a few handfuls of minutes after it was lost here in our house last night.  However, the rain has off-and-on taken up temporary residence around us throughout last night, today, and this evening, giving us more water than anyone might ever want in such a short amount of time.  And tornadoes decided to show up with the rain in certain areas throughout the past 22-ish hours.

If we were just talking about rain and wind and thunder and lightning, I’d be quite all right.  But that last little addition to the standing hurricane (now tropical storm) has me nervous about going upstairs to shower or sleep.

It is never a good feeling when this is how your town’s winds look.


Again and still, I pray that we all be happy, healthy, holy.

Post-a-day 2017