Gemini

Day 21: your zodiac/horoscope and whether you think it fits you

I have an early June birthday which makes me a Gemini. The symbol for Gemini in the zodiac is a pair of twins, indicating a duality of nature, personality, or emotion.

Yeah, that’s me in a nutshell.

Here are some named traits/attributes, both positive and not so positive about Geminis:

Gentle, affectionate, curious, adaptable, learns quickly, exchanges ideas, nervous/anxious, inconsistent, indecisive.

Guilty on all charges, your honor.

Here are likes (go ahead and laugh out loud — I did!):

Music, books, magazines, chats with nearly everyone, short day trips

Dislikes:

Being alone, being confined, repetition and routine.

I’d say that’s about 99% true. There are definitely times when I enjoy repetition and routine, mostly as it pertains to practicing viola. The rest is pretty accurate.

One of the hallmarks of the Gemini personality is a quick wit and an insatiable appetite for communication. We love to talk! We love chattiness and gossip, but we are particularly keen on deep philosophical conversations too. Because we are also described as being of a restless nature, we can often change course in mid-thought or bounce from one conversation to another. This can be misconstrued as flightiness, but I know that sometimes my brain is just going so fast that I can barely keep up, so how can I expect anyone else to?

Gemini is what is called an air sign (the 12 zodiac signs fall into the categories of the four basic elements: earth, air, fire, and water) which is associated with all aspects of the mind, especially intelligence. This sign is also said to be ruled by the planet Mercury, the planet connected to communication, writing, and teaching. For me at least, this means that the world is just one enormous classroom with all sorts of fascinating stuff to explore and learn. We are people who want it all and want it now. As friends, we may be hard to keep up with, but we are never boring.

Apparently, Geminis tend to have many friends and enjoy being social. That is remarkably true of me. I love to have folks come over to eat and talk. I love to offer hospitality to people I like and take the chance to talk and get to know them better. As I read in one horoscope, we tend to have friendships with our siblings, which is certainly true of me (and BOTH of my sisters are Geminis!).

Do I like to keep busy? Absolutely! I also love to write, teach, and brainstorm ideas.

The quickest way to my heart is through my brain, as I also read in my research on Geminis. For me the brain is definitely a sexual organ and conversation is the best form of foreplay. I have fallen in love more than once with men who are witty, charming, and smart and engaged me in a mental sparring match. There is very little in the world more sexy to me than a man who will debate with me or exchange opinions and ideas freely with me — but he’d better be smart and have a quick wit or I will lose interest really quickly.

This is absolutely why I am still married to the same man for nearly 24 years. I think he’s the smartest man I’ve ever known and we have some really amazing… conversations. Whenever this restless spirit of mine gets tired and finally comes to a stop, he’s there waiting for me. He’s the tether for this kite and I love him for it.

Am I the Gemini I’ve read about? Yes, almost down to the letter and with very few exceptions. I don’t place a lot of stock in horoscopes and astrology, but I can’t deny that there’s at least some basis in fact. If you ever read the description of what the Gemini personality is, think of me. I really do fit the bill in more ways than one.

It’s like they know…

Random

Day 20: put your music player on shuffle and write the first three songs that play and what your initial thought is.

Number one: Beethoven Late String Quartets performed by the Emerson String Quartet; Quartet no. 13 in B flat Major, Opus 130: Adagio ma non troppo, Allegro

I love Beethoven and have since I was a small child. His music is an amazing combination of rhythmic drive, harmonic richness, lyricism, and wildly contrasting emotions. As a violist, I love to play and perform Beethoven’s music, but I particularly love his string quartets. These late ones are especially rich and play a pivotal role in the development of the string quartet later in the 19th century.

Number two: Paul Simon, The Rhythm of the Saints — Spirit Voices (work in progress, bonus track)

For my 41st birthday, John bought me the newly published book of Paul Simon’s lyrics, but there was much more to it than just that. One of his co-workers is married to a musician who has worked with Paul Simon for many years. So, John gave her the book, she gave it to her husband, he took it to NYC to a recording session he was doing — with the illustrious Mr. Simon himself. When asked, he very graciously consented to sign my book. All this went on without my knowledge. The book alone would’ve been a wonderful surprise, but the inscription and autograph inside on the title page nearly made me faint. It is one of the most meaningful and special gifts anyone has ever given me.

Number three: Jethro Tull, Aqualung

Oh my God, I’m laughing out loud on this one. I haven’t heard this one in a long time. This takes me right back to high school. My fondness for Jethro Tull, Yes, and Genesis can be traced to a boy I met in ninth grade. He had skipped two grades in school, so he was only 12 at the start of that school year. He was one of the smartest kids I ever knew, truly wise beyond his years. We used to get into lengthy conversations about music and he would make me cassette tapes of the stuff we talked about. I may even still have a few of them. Just thinking of Jim makes me smile. I never told him how much I appreciated him or what a big impact those conversations had on me.

Bonus track number four: The Beatles, Money (That’s What I Want)

Yes! I love The Beatles, especially John Lennon. This is, of course, a remake of a Berry Gordy tune that was one of Motown’s first hits. It’s an oldie and a goodie!

Five Fears

Day 19: five fears that you have

Heights: I can’t even look at movies with sweeping views of heights without getting that tingly feeling in the backs of my legs. Heights have always terrified me, mostly because I’m afraid of falling from them. Think Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. Yeah, that’s me.

Death: even though I am a person of faith, with all of the requisite views and beliefs of Christianity, I am afraid to die. Why? Lack of faith? No, I don’t think I’m lacking in that. Perhaps it’s more about my overall fear of the unknown than anything else. Life is hard, but at least I know what happens to me in life. I’m not familiar with what happens during the process of dying. That moment of transition between life and death is frightening to me.

Harm coming to my husband, children, family, or friends: my hubby travels a lot for work and I’m a nervous wreck every time he flies. Maybe it’s because of 9/11. John and I were living in NYC at that time, along with our 3 1/2 year old daughter. I didn’t fly for 4 years after that. Watching John or Imani go through the security line at the airport gives me chills. Knowing that Iain crosses the street alone at a busy intersection frequented by tractor trailers makes my heart stop. Anything could happen, and I can’t stop it. Worrying won’t change anything, but I still do it.

My son’s future: will he be able to go to college? Live independently? Have a career? Marry and have a family? Those are all enormous question marks for him. We know how much better he’s gotten since he was diagnosed with ASD at age three. I’ve always believed that he could have what others might call a “normal life”, and I still believe it. But what will it take to get him all the way there? Are we on the right track? Only time will tell, but it’s a nail biter waiting it out.

Failure: I wrote a blog post about failure once. I should probably go back and read it again. I have been trying, unsuccessfully, for years to change careers. I am beginning to worry that the change will never come for me. Right now, I’m stuck in a job that has no security, no benefits, low pay, and no future. And I’m about to send my firstborn to college in the fall. I need a chance, an opportunity. I need to put down the instrument and move on. My career has prepared me to do just about anything. I’m afraid — terrified — that I will never be seen as capable of any other work. The older I get, the more afraid I am. I fear my window of opportunity is closing fast.

My life isn’t ruled by fear, but I do try to be honest about what scares me. I cannot fix flaws I don’t acknowledge.

Blue

Day 18: your favorite color and why

Blue was not always my favorite color. When I was very little, my favorite color was red. I remember always wanting the red construction paper in art class, and I loved to use red pens and markers. One little girl in my class told me I loved the devil because red was my favorite color.

Whatever.

I’m not sure when I made the transition from red to blue as my color of choice, but it was probably around the time I turned 12 or 13. I only know that much because that was around the time we moved house and my dad and I painted my room a beautiful shade of robin’s egg blue with an accent wall of navy blue with tiny white flowers. Then began my obsession with cornflower blue Volvo station wagons.

Yeah, station wagons.

Wedgwood was next. That blue was so perfect, light, and deep. There seemed to be so many different shades of blue. The sky, the sea… Cobalt, indigo, Royal, navy… The list of hues and endless possibilities from teal to midnight. I began to collect pretty little (and not so little) cobalt blue bottles. And cookware. And dishes. And china. And appliances. And flower pots.

There’s a lot of blue in my house. It brings with it a sense of peace and tranquility. Blue is my touchstone. The world is made of many colors, but none of them speaks to me like blue does.

 

Johnson Brothers Coaching Scenes dinner plate

 

One of a few pieces I have in this shade of blue

 

One of the first blue bottles in the collection

 

The beautiful deep dark blue of Imari style china

  


 

Words to Live By

Day 17: a quote you try to live by

One of my all-time favorite quotations is one that I have said for years, though I can’t remember where I first heard it.

“Life’s too short to dance with ugly men.”

Okay, that’s completely heterosexist, objectifying, non-PC stuff. I know. It’s not the first not PC thing I’ve said, and it is unlikely to be the last. What can I say? I do have a reputation for being blunt, pithy, and opinionated. Every now and then, I just go there.

So, what does this all mean?

Don’t settle. Don’t take the first thing that comes along just because you’re afraid to wait for the right fit. Wait and be discerning. Make mistakes, kiss frogs, and screw up royally — but don’t just do the safe thing. Risks make us stronger and braver. We may succeed brilliantly or fail miserably, but we tried. I don’t want to live with regrets about all I should’ve or could’ve done. In short, I don’t want to be stuck dancing with the proverbial ugly man. I’d rather dance alone knowing I gave everything my best shot.

Life is short. It’s shorter than we think. Settling is for sediment. Life is about living. You’ll never know more than ordinary if you never look for the extraordinary. Why not? What have we got to lose?

Train for that marathon. Take that trip overseas. Call that person you’re interested in. Sign up to take the music lessons you’ve always wanted. Risk looking like an idiot and laugh at your mistakes. Live!

Life’s too short…

Bullet Points

Day 16: Bullet your entire day

  • Wake up — harder than it sounds
  • Bathroom — no explanation necessary
  • Coffee. Must. Have. Coffee.
  • Check weather and traffic — it’s best to get the bad news early
  • Shower and brush teeth
  • Pick out clothes and dress
  • Breakfast — rice and eggs with TONS of hot sauce
  • Take kids to school
  • Hit the road to work — otherwise known as the highway to hell
  • Arrive at work. Expect the unexpected. Troubleshoot as needed. Never a dull moment.
  • Commute home
  • Pick up kids from school
  • Home and homework
  • Coffee and snack while relaxing with dogs and (inevitably) watching an episode of Law&Order on the DVR
  • Make any necessary phone calls, schedule appointments, etc., before the close of the business day
  • Tie up any loose ends from work
  • Walk dogs, no matter the weather
  • Supervise transportation to extracurricular activities: swim practice, choir rehearsal, etc.
  • Handle dinner: who’s cooking what
  • Eat — usually too much, too late
  • Watch tv with hubby if he’s not on the road, but always with the dogs
  • Write my daily blog entry (at least these days)
  • Clean up kitchen, do load of laundry
  • Supervise instrumental practice for kid #2: drum set, piano, and tuba
  • Be sure kid #1 is alive and try to nail down her schedule
  • Be sure #2 makes his lunch and gets his clothes ready for the next day at school
  • Be sure #2 gets ready for bed, goes to bed, and stays in bed
  • Send emails, pay bills, work on budget, all while trying not to worry too much
  • Send texts to tomorrow’s students
  • Fall down the Facebook rabbit hole under controlled conditions
  • Still watching tv, too much too late
  • Collapse, exhausted, into bed

Observations: not enough me time. I need to make time to work out and consolidate scattered tasks into one or two bigger tasks. I’m not using my time efficiently.

I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. Everyday is a new beginning. I need to start now. The spirit is willing, but… You know the rest.

Looking over that list makes me tired… No wonder I’m tired all the time after actually doing all of this stuff. I need to make life and career changes too. I’m in a rut. Putting my day into a list of bullet points has made that painfully clear.

To action!

Peeved

Day 15: 3 pet peeves

Only three? (Sarcastic smile)

Seriously, I’m not nearly as easily pissed off as I used to be. I don’t know if it’s age or the twelve steps, but I do know that I’m generally happier and less snarky than even a year ago. Still, there are a few things that get on my nerves.

Stupid people.

I’m not talking about intellectual disability AT ALL. I’m talking about folks who think they know everything, shut their minds and open their mouths. Constantly. It’s not exclusive to any race, gender, creed, socioeconomic status, or political persuasion. Anybody can be stupid.

What bothers me most is that these folks and their big loud mouths ruin the valid views and ideas of the people they claim to represent or champion (a certain presidential candidate springs to mind). I’m not a big fan of anyone who paints entire groups of people with one brush, or those who condemn anyone who doesn’t agree with them wholesale. Intelligent people discuss, listen, consider, and even agree to disagree. Stupid people shout, scream, judge, and damn. There’s no discussion; it’s just my way or the highway.

Tailgaters.

I’m not talking about folks in the parking lot hours early, having a barbecue before a football game. I’m talking about the jackass riding my bumper at 70 plus miles per hour, like he’s going to somehow push me out of the way. It’s not just annoying– it’s dangerous! Following anyone in a car too closely at high speeds is a recipe for disaster, but folks in my area do it as a matter of course. It’s also incredibly intimidating if, like me, you drive a small Japanese car and the car tailgating you is an enormous SUV or truck. News flash, folks — I’ve got somewhere to go too and I’m trying to get there safely. I don’t want to die on the interstate, or kill someone on the highway. If I’m in the far left lane, I’m trying to pass someone on my right. I do plan to move. Give me a break. Please.

Ingratitude.

Really? You can’t find anything in your life to be grateful for? Seriously?

I’m no Pollyanna by a long shot, but I have learned that I have things to be grateful for, even on my very worst days. Sometimes the only thing I can think of to be grateful for is the fact that I woke up that morning — but that’s a pretty big thing. Don’t believe me? Try not waking up one morning and tell me how you like it.

Everyday we’re alive is a day we have hope. We have the potential to be a positive voice in the lives of others. We have the potential to be our best selves. We are alive for only a short time. Why not choose to be happy?

Besides, being a constant curmudgeon is just annoying as hell. No one wants to hang out with a perpetual downer. Misery may love company, but I don’t love to be miserable because of anyone’s company.

Well, that’s three. I could probably come up with a few more, but I don’t want to turn into the person I just described…

Flash Forward

Day 14: your life in 7 years

In seven years, I’ll be a few months away from turning 55. I will have been married for nearly 31 years.

Today, I’m on the verge of having two teenage offspring. In seven years, my younger child will be two months away from being 20, and my firstborn will have finished almost all of her first quarter century of life.

Last September 18 was the seventh anniversary of the day we left NYC and moved to Ohio. So much has changed in those seven years. I have changed, for the better, I think. I could not have anticipated all that has happened since we moved here, so it is hard for me to project so far into the future — especially since I’ve worked so hard to learn how to live one day at a time.

Here’s a stab at speculation:

In seven years, I hope to have parlayed all of these blog entries into a career in writing. I am working everyday to hone my writing skills. I’m writing down ideas for things to write about so that I don’t forget them. I don’t know if I have the great American novel in me, but I know that I’m passionate about writing and I think I can get good enough at it to develop an audience. Yes, I’m a musician by training and profession, and I will always be a musician, but the music business has become increasingly difficult to navigate over the last 25 years. I want to explore other areas of my creativity and go wherever they take me. I could go pretty far in seven years.

I will realize my goal of running at least one marathon. I hope to do that before I’m 50.

Our older child will have finished college and will be on her way to a happy life and successful career. Our son will be in college, even though I’m sure he’ll still be struggling to conquer the difficulties that his autism presents.

We will finally pay down some of our debt, if not all of it. At that point we’ll be only five years away from paying off our mortgage. Then we can really begin to renovate our house.

By this time, unfortunately, we are likely to only have one dog. Michael will probably be gone by then.

My mom will be 85, if she is still with us. My birth parents will be in their seventies.

My dad will have been gone nearly 10 years, and my grandma for almost 13.

John will be celebrating over 14 years working at Oberlin, if I know how steadfast and loyal he is.

In all honesty, life will continue to go on as it has for the last seven years. People will come and go, things will come and go, and life will ebb and flow as it always has. I will continue to learn the lessons life has to teach me, slowly but surely, one day at a time. There’s no guarantee that I’ll even be here in seven years. After all, man plans and God laughs. In all the years I’ve lived and all the crazy I’ve gone through, I’ve come to understand that God has a tremendous sense of humor. In our relationship, He’s sure to have the last laugh.

Today is nearly over. I’ve been blessed to reach the end of another day. I’m hoping I wake up to see another. Then we’ll see how that one goes.

Let’s see, shall we?

Commuting

Day 13: your commute to and from work

I don’t like my commute.

My commute when I lived in NYC was time-consuming, but it was all by public transportation which allowed me time to do other things: grade papers, mark musical scores, knit Christmas presents, or read the latest books on my list (lots of Harry Potter). I was able to mentally prepare for my work on the way there and decompress from my long day on the way home. Sometimes the bus or train was crowded with other cranky commuters, but I was always on long enough to get a seat for at least part of my trip. I sometimes enjoyed my commute in those days. It was not perfect, but it certainly had it’s good points.

These days, my commute is exclusively by car. On the highway. In northeast Ohio.

Keep in mind, I didn’t learn to drive until I was about 24, and I didn’t get a license until I was 34 and pregnant — with baby number 2. If I’m taking a road trip, I don’t mind driving. I particularly love to drive alone with all the windows down and the top open, and with the music turned up loud!

My daily commute is not quite so enjoyable, however. It usually begins with my dropping my kids at school before I head over the highway. I have a ritual that I try to follow daily: I say my prayers beginning right after I drop my daughter, and then I turn on music for my trip. My current soundtrack is Billy Joel. The traffic isn’t heavy where I get on the highway, but it gradually increases as I go along. I don’t exactly drive the speed limit, but I inevitably get passed like I’m standing still or tailgated for miles until I move to the right. It amazes me that folks around here think that New York drivers are reckless. There are far worse drivers here than in NYC. I swear I take my life in my own hands every time I get behind the wheel of a car around here.

What I hate the most about my commute is that all I can do is drive, and maybe listen to music. I certainly can’t knit while I drive! Sometimes traffic is so bad, I have to turn the music off so I won’t be distracted. I’m stressed out when I arrive at work and there’s no possibility of my relaxing on the way home.

I know most folks around here learn to drive and have a license by age 16. I know that families often own multiple cars. Automobile travel is pretty much the only way to get around. Public transportation in this area is not fabulous. Car culture is king.

I hate it. I really do.

I’ve been a commuter in some way or another for over 40 years. I’m pretty tired of it, actually. I’d be over the moon if I could walk to work. Maybe someday.

Makes Me Laugh

Day 12: two words/phrases that make you laugh

The first is simple, but only my best friend from high school will get it.

Spam.

Yes, simply spam. This is from when spam was a processed meat in a can and not junk in an email inbox. It was an inside joke, and not even my openness and honesty in these blog posts can compel me to explain it. My friend and I will be the only ones to share that joke. But anyone with an active imagination can probably come up with some pretty creative funny to go with the word spam.

The other thing that’s sure to make me laugh is a phrase that is actually a song title: I’m About to Whip Somebody’s Ass. I originally heard it as a blues song that goes like this:

“I’m about to whip somebody’s ass, I’m about to whip somebody’s ass, If you don’t leave me alone, You’re gonna have to send me home, ‘Cause I’m about to whip somebody’s ass.”

That alone is funny as hell. But no — someone decided to create a video of that song as sung by (wait for it)…

A duck.

It is side splittingly funny. There’s proof. My daughter made a video of me laughing my ass off at this video. I die laughing even if I only hear the first note. It’s pretty hilarious. See for yourself. Laughing at the duck

Honestly, it’s not that hard to make me laugh. I’m a pretty easy mark.