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!

Relationship 

Day 11: your current relationship; if single, discuss that

I am definitely NOT single. In fact, truth be told, I haven’t been single for almost exactly 28 years. It was right around this time in 1988 that John and I rekindled our previous flame which had ended back in 1986. In the two years we were apart, there was so much crazy relationship nonsense for me that I can’t even begin to tell it all. Aside from all the frogs I kissed and strange places I woke up during my so-called “lost semester”, there was a physically abuse relationship, a summer romance that ended with a marriage proposal, a nine week whirlwind fling that ended on a rooftop during midterms, and the game of cat and mouse with the man who wore me down and then decided he wasn’t interested.

And then there was John.

I don’t know why we work, but we do. We are such radically different people, but we fit. We are great people on our own who are exponentially better together. On the surface, we don’t look like we should work on paper. When I’m with John, all is as it should be. The good times are greater and the bad times are bearable. Life wouldn’t be the same without him.

We’ve learned to meet in the middle on the issues that would separate most folks. He smoothes my rough edges, but doesn’t file them away. My directness has rubbed off on him and he is more open and expressive than when we first met.

He makes gorgeous babies. I truly believe that our kids are stunningly beautiful in their own right, not just because I’m their mom and that’s a requirement. Even with all of the difficulties we’ve faced with the kids, I can’t imagine doing any of it with anyone else.

We strengthen each other’s strengths and help with each other’s weaknesses. We fight for our love, our family, and our marriage. We’ve faced some very serious adversity, and we are still together and stronger for it.

We love each other’s company and miss each other when we’re apart.

I can’t imagine life without him: going to bed and waking up next to each other, growing old together. There are no guarantees in life, but I’m happy to live it to its fullest one day at a time

I love him. He loves me. No flourish, no pretense, no bullshit. Of our own free will, we belong to each other. It is my life’s greatest blessing.

In May, we’ll mark 24 years of marriage, which will be half of our lives. We’ve grown up together. Hopefully, we’ll grow old together.

Our love is no fairytale, but it is magical in so many ways.

My John, my love, you are every beat of my heart. I love you, Boo Boo.

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.

First Love, First Kiss

2015-09-25 17.39.21

Day three

This prompt got me thinking and I must admit I’m at a loss.

My first kiss was extremely inappropriate because it came from a 19 year old when I was only about 5. This young man molested me and left an invisible scar that took years to heal. His name was Jessie.

I’d rather not think about that.

The first kiss I chose to give was to a boy in my first grade class named Steven. He had dark auburn hair and a few missing teeth (we were that age). His face was full of freckles and his brown eyes sparkled. I had only ever had one other major crush in my brief years: the late Bruce Lee (come on, he was GORGEOUS!). Steven and I sat together and sometimes ate lunch together before playing together at recess. I can actually remember the feeling of my heart fluttering when he smiled at me.

One afternoon on the slide, which was shaped like a big pyramid without the point on top, Steven and I were sitting and talking. I timidly confessed that I liked him and he said he liked me too. I seized the moment and kissed him gently on the cheek. Steven smiled at me right before he turned to go down the slide. He smiled at me!

He missed the next week of school. Chicken pox. Luckily, I didn’t get it then.

That kiss may not have been the stuff of romantic legend or passionate lore, but it has stuck with me for over 40 years. We probably wouldn’t recognize each other after all this time, and Steven may not even remember that day at all. That memory is mine to keep.

What of my first love? I have been in love many times, and each of those loves were dear to me in unique ways. There was the one to first open my heart and then break it to pieces when he left me for someone else. There was the first man I loved just as I was becoming a woman. There have been those who first spoke to my mind on the way to winning my heart, and those with whom the chemistry was so strong it was like being consumed by fire.

The only one of these loves that truly merits discussion here is the one I share with my husband — the love of my life.

He was not my first love. Our love was not the passionate conflagration that burned out before it had a chance to take root. We began as friends. Over time, we came to love each other more and more. It became clear that our bond was strong enough to withstand the stresses of the world around us, and that nothing could ever break it. That love has been challenged many times over the years. We are still together.

It doesn’t matter which love was my first. My marriage to John is my last love, and my greatest. The others before got me ready to receive this gift. I am thankful for all of them and the lessons they taught me. Most of all, I am glad to have found a kind of love that not everyone finds in life. First isn’t always best. True love is worth waiting for.

Daddy

Dear Daddy,

It’s been more than two years since you died.  I’m still pissed at you.

You left me before we could figure out how this relationship was supposed to work.  You left me before I could prove to you that I was a grown-up and not the little girl you insisted on seeing when you looked at me.  You left me to deal with Mom, knowing that you were the only thing that kept us from fighting constantly.

Daddy, there was so much I wanted to say to you.  I wanted to tell you that I forgave you for all of the silence and absence.  I wanted to talk with you about the drinking and the legacy of pain and resentment it left behind, and how I was able to let all that go as I walked my own path to sobriety and recovery.  I wanted to be honest and open after years of secrets and lies.

I wanted to tell you that I loved you in spite of it all.  I’ll never have that chance now.

You’re missing so much, Daddy.  You never got to meet our dog Michael, which we got just a few weeks before you left us.  Now we have a girl doggie named Lola.  The kids love the dogs so much and so do John and I.

You missed two summers of your grandson playing baseball.  He’s not very good, but he finally got a hit toward the end of his second season.  The team gave him the game ball.  He was so proud.

You would’ve been too.

Iain cried like a baby when I told him his Granddaddy was dead.  He was devastated.  He loves you so much still.  You are still a powerful presence in his life.

You’ll miss your granddaughter’s high school graduation next year.  She’s worked so hard.  You missed her school plays and her second trip to Europe.  You missed violin recitals and orchestra concerts.  You’ve missed the growth spurt that took her to nearly six feet tall.  She’s more beautiful today than she was as a little girl.  My baby, my firstborn, is almost a woman —  and you’re missing it.

Mom misses you too.  Her grief was huge and overpowering.  She almost wouldn’t let me see you to say goodbye.  She lashed out at me because she was angry with you for leaving her so close to your 50th wedding anniversary.  I had to hold her together and keep my grief locked away in my heart until I nearly exploded.  She was mean and selfish and cruel to me, but I promised you that I would take care of her — so I did.  I hated you for leaving me to deal with her.  I hated you for dying.

In my heart, I still don’t believe you had to die.  I think you were stubborn and proud and it killed you.  You should’ve gone to the hospital.  You shouldn’t have refused help.  You weren’t tired.  You didn’t need to rest.  You were bleeding internally and you needed help.  Why, Daddy?  Why did you have to be so stubborn?  Where is your pride now?  It’s gone and you along with it.  It availed you nothing.  It took you away from the people who loved you the most.

Your pride deprived me of my first true love and the most complicated relationship I’ve ever had with a man.  It’s been said that pride comes before a fall.  Yours was one helluva fall.

Your pride sucks.

I’m sorry to still be angry after so long.  I hurt more than anything else.  My heart hurts because I miss you.  Your death made me a member of a club that no one wants to belong to.  I hate that I feel this way.

Now that you’re gone and there’s nothing to be done about it, I’m glad that I am finally able to tell you all this.  Perhaps now you can hear my words in a way that you never could in life.  Maybe now we will finally understand each other.  I hope so.

I am comforted by my faith which tells me that we will meet again someday when it is my time to leave this life.  Then you and I and Grandma will all be together again, laughing and eating as we once did.  Then our love for each other will have no conditions or obstacles.  It will be as perfect as God’s love for all His children and as Jesus’ love for His father.  That is a great comfort to me and it eases the pain of your loss.

Daddy, I don’t want to be angry anymore.  I don’t want to resent you for leaving me behind.  I want to accept that you’re gone and only hold on to the good things that remain.  I would not be who I am today without you: the loud music listening and occasionally foul-mouthed North Philly girl who survived and got out.  I want you to be proud of me.  It’s all I ever wanted.

I want you to rest in peace.  I want to live in peace.

I love you, Daddy.  I miss you.  And I’m sorry for everything that was ever wrong between us.  I really am all grown up now.  Thank you for loving me as a little girl and helping me grow into the woman I am today.

You are always in my heart, Daddy.  Your memory truly is eternal for me and I will keep it alive for your grandchildren.

Goodbye, Daddy.  Until we meet again with the angels.

Lisa