Mid-life Meshugas and a Shameless Plug

It’s been a while since I published anything here. There’s been a lot of life going on.

I got a job in 2017, about 10 months after my mom died. In many ways, it was my dream job. The job stretched me and made me grow in a lot of new directions — which led inevitably, if not tangentially, to my desire to open up a yarn shop and build a diverse and inclusive fiber community.

I lost my job in 2019. The pain of that was nearly as bad as losing my mom had been. That threw me headlong into a heavy depression.

My son became increasingly anxious about school and his grades took a nosedive. Add worry to the depression.

Gradually, I started to put the pieces of my life back together. I started to dream of my yarn store and fiber community. I started a Facebook group and added a new Instagram account. I started attending Stitches and Vogue Knitting events, meeting some of my heroes and building a network in the process. Then I heard of someone I knew opening a yarn store with a dear friend of hers. My dreams started to look more real everyday. Even my ever-reserved and skeptical husband began to support the idea (he had always supported me).

I had even gotten a really cool playing gig. Life was looking up.

And then… well, you know. The ‘Rona.

Funnily enough, I had just gotten really sick with a weird cold/flu thing that was somehow… different. I had a fever and I was having trouble breathing. I’d had pneumonia before, but this was different. After 36 hours of trying to take care of myself and letting hubby pump me full of soup and toast, I went to my doctor. COVID protocols were already in effect at the office. My symptoms were like the flu — kinda — but the strep and flu tests came back negative.

In retrospect, my doc and I figured out I’d had the ‘Rona. The fact that I was fatigued for about 6 weeks after I “recovered” was a big hint. I was lucky.

My son’s last day of in person school for his junior year was on his 17th birthday. His depression and anxiety hit new highs.

My daughter had to leave her college campus right after spring break. There was no graduation ceremony.

We were lucky. My hubby can work from home and our financial situation is pretty stable. We have a lot to be grateful for.

None of that makes this easy: not the Corona virus, not the senseless murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, and not the constant strain of living in this increasingly divisive political climate. Life has just not been anything approaching normal for months and it’s left us unmoored.

But dreams live on.

I have spent a lot of time, and a fair amount of cash, creating a new website and blog for my work in progress, For Ewe: an Inclusive Fiber Community. I’ve created a logo. I’ve started shadowing my friend at her yarn store to learn more about how it’s done. I’m knitting up a storm and writing about it. I’m creating a brand. Baby steps.

So, if you have followed me here at violamom2tellsall, please check out 4-ewe.com and follow me there too. Tell your crafty friends to follow me too. Help me build my dream.

Maybe writing there regularly will encourage me to write more here too. Stranger things have happened. Stay tuned.

Day 4: 10 (Interesting) Things About Me

 

I’m going to cheat a bit on this one…

Nearly seven years ago, back when publishing notes on Facebook was a thing, I responded to the request from a friend to post 25 Random Things About Me.  I was surprised that I had 26 things to post, even though I probably could’ve condensed a few of them into a single item.  So, in the interest of conservation (reduce, reuse, recycle), I’m going to use some of that list here.

I put interesting in parentheses in the title because I’m not sure everyone will find these 10 things interesting.  Here’s hoping!

  1. I found out that I was adopted when I was nearly 30 years old and my firstborn was about 4 weeks old.  My “Aunt Cheryl” is really my mom.  Needless to say, this was some pretty earth-shaking news, especially in my hormonally challenged state.  Two years later, John helped me find my birth father.  So now I have four parents (though one is deceased), and my kids have six grandparents.  I’m also now no longer the only child I thought I was.  I have 5 brothers and sisters (again, one is deceased).  In the end, finding all this out was a tremendous blessing.
  2. I met my husband in 8th grade.  We sat across from each other in home room.  He thought I was cute.  I thought he was weird.  In 9th grade, I dated his best friend (who turned out to be gay — just my luck…).  We did eventually begin to date, right before he moved to Vermont.  I broke up with him on Valentine’s Day.  It took nearly two years and the kissing of MANY frogs to get me to see the mistake I’d made in dumping him.  We’ve been together since 1988 and married since 1992.
  3. Our daughter was born in the back seat of a 1997 Lincoln Town Car at the corner of 104th Street and Riverside Drive in NYC.  John delivered her.  This was the first of several diva moments she’s had in her nearly 18 years of life.  Giving birth to her was a life-changing experience for me.  I’ve never been the same since.
  4. Singing was my first musical expression.  I first remember “being caught” singing by my mother when I was 3.  We had just recently gone to a wedding, and the two musicians sang the song “September” from The Fantastiks.  That’s what I was singing to myself in my room as I played with my blocks.  Mom thought it was the radio.  When she figured out it was me, she carried me to her bedroom and made me sing it again for my dad.  I still remember the look on their faces; they looked at me as if I were some kind of freak.  That has, unfortunately, followed me since.
  5. I am a violist today, and have been since I was 16, but I started off playing violin.  Violin wasn’t even my first choice of instrument.  I wanted to play French Horn like my Aunt Mary Ann, but my parents didn’t want me to do ANYTHING  Mary Ann did.  So I talked them into letting me play violin.  They never really supported my love of music, often telling me that Black folks didn’t play stringed instruments or play Classical music.  Again, they made me feel like a freak for loving music and wanting to do it professionally.  They never have understood what I do.  This had been one of the saddest things in my life for many years.
  6. I wore braces on my teeth from the age of 22 to 25.  I still had on my bottom braces on my wedding day.  While it really sucked at the time, the investment in my smile was worth the pain.
  7. I love to practice and perform solo Bach more than any other music in the entire world.  It is the purest expression of who I am as a musician.
  8. Beethoven is my favorite composer.  When I was in Germany, I took the train from Cologne to Bonn to visit the Beethovenhaus Museum.  On the top floor, there is the room where he was born.  I remember standing in the doorway and crying like a baby at the thought of such greatness coming into the world in such a tiny space.  I also cry every time I hear or play the third movement of his Ninth Symphony.  I’ve been a musician for decades and I’ve heard and played a lot of music, but I’ve never heard anything more lovely and moving than that.
  9. I had an out of body experience the only time I ever performed the Shostakovich Viola Sonata.  I dedicated that particular performance to a friend of mine who had just died of AIDS.  While playing, I burst into tears during the climax of the last movement.  For many years, I remembered every note.  It was a really powerful experience.
  10. My son’s autism has been the biggest challenge for me.  Every view I ever had on raising children, education, and the way the world views the differently abled has been challenged, tested, and reevaluated.  There have been times when I literally thought I couldn’t raise him and that God had given him the wrong mother.  However, I have come to see that his triumphs outnumber his defeats and that he does benefit from my presence in his life.  Sometimes I think he’s raising me because he’s taught me so much.  He’s a beautiful boy and I love him so much.  It’s hard to watch the world misunderstand him, or to see his peers going on to do things he’s not ready to tackle.  All I can do is pray and do everything I can to make him as strong and capable as possible.  No one will limit this child as long as I’m alive.  Only the sky is his limit, no matter what anyone else may think.  I will never give up on him.  He is my sweet young man.

So, there are the 10 things I chose to share/disclose.  Interesting?  Perhaps.  Good for me?  As an exercise, this was absolutely perfect for me, especially on New Year’s Eve.  Tomorrow is a new day and a new year.  Maybe I’ll have a whole new list to share next December 31.

Virgin Voyage!

Good evening!  This is my first attempt at blogging.  I’m not sure anyone will actually want to read what I write, but I wanted a place to put the detritus in my head — somewhere other than my trusty Facebook page.

I have been an Ohioan for 3 1/2 years now.  I’m slowly getting used to it, though I doubt that I will ever get over leaving the east coast.  I miss NYC terribly, but I know that coming to Ohio was the best move for my family.  My career is slowly making its way off the ground.  I’m teaching a lot and playing more and more the longer I’m here and the more folks I get to meet.  I will say this: folks in the music business here are really friendly and welcoming, which is not the experience I always had in New York.  The business in NYC is so tight and competitive.  Here, there is less to do and fewer opportunities for work, but folks are still always happy to see a new face.

Last night, I got to play a concert with Akron Symphony.  I had a lovely stand partner and the conductor was pretty good too.  It was a lovely experience (except for the late night drives back home to Oberlin from Akron!).  I hope that things will continue to pick up and that I can make more of a career/life for myself here.

At the beginning of our concert, we played Barber’s Adagio (commonly known as Adagio for Strings).  That piece never fails to move me.  There is a tremendous sense of longing, loneliness, pain, tenderness…  I understand it far better at (nearly) 44 than I did when I first heard it as a teenager.  Several of the pieces I’ve loved all my life hold an even more special meaning for me now that I’m older — and hopefully wiser!  Music has always been my outlet, my other language.  Music expressed for me the things I could not say and the pain I couldn’t share.  Music was my refuge and my strength.  It is still, but the stakes are somewhat higher now.

Today, in the car, I heard the last movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.  The words moved me to tears right then and there, even though I’ve played the piece hundreds of times!  My German is non-existent, but I know that Schiller wrote some of the most wonderful imagery of brotherhood and divine love — “this kiss is for all the world”.  Maybe it’s hormones, or lack of sleep this week (“it must be the heat, or some rare disease — la la la — or too much to eat, or maybe it’s fleas!”), but I find that I am susceptible to crying at the beauty of everything around me, from birds in flight overhead, to the sight of my children’s beautiful faces.  I’m learning to be thankful for everything around me and to enjoy each moment.  I thank God that I learned to do that now, rather than at the end of my life when it is nearly too late.

There’s hope for this sentimental old cynic yet, I think.  I hope so anyway…

That’s enough for a first entry, I think.  I hope to write more every day, but I make no promises.  There’s so much to write about: food, music, marriage, motherhood, running, aging, friendship, addiction, fear, loss…  The list is so long!  With all that to choose from, I hope I can write things that are interesting, entertaining, funny, tragic, and generally good to read.  I hope I can make someone smile, or help someone in need.  I just want to write.  I’ve always just wanted to write.

Let the games begin!