The piano has been a form of relaxation for me as long as I remember. When I moved up here, without one, it took me a long time to learn to wind down, without the piano to use as my emotional adjunct. I sung a lot more, mostly – and as my singing voice is not the best in the world, this is not really an adequate alternative. I love to sing, but other people don’t love hearing me. (Although I sing a mean game of Rock Band, provided the stereo is cranked loud enough.)
The piano got me through some really tough spots. I’d come home from a bad day at work, or university, especially when I was in my worst spot with depression, or after I broke up with Cyclenut, and I’d play for hours and hours. Mum always knew that if I started off playing Rage, it was probably best to leave me alone until I worked it out of my system.
When I bought the piano in February, I had lost a lot of skill. This wasn’t entirely surprising, owing to my three years without a piano. I could still sight read, although some of the notes out of stave and stave swaps are still catching me out – I can interpret them, but instead of my previous ability to subconsciously translate music->brain->fingers, I now have to stop, check, read, place fingers, continue. Practice is, unsurprisingly, helping.
I purchased myself the second volume of sheet music from The Piano. My piano teacher gave me the first book, years ago. I’d never seen the movie, but the music caught my ear from day one, the haunting emotiveness of it. I watched the Piano for the first time last month. Mostly, I’ve been playing the music correctly. Having seen the film, I can play the music better. It’s taken me a while to return to skill levels where I felt comfortable attempting new music; I then realised that I’d underestimated my returning abilities. It was a good feeling.
In March, I tried a piece from Prokofiev. It’s a piece I loved playing, prior to The Big Move. In March? I physically could not force my fingers to play the appropriate sequences quickly enough to even vaguely resemble anything musical, and the octave stretches required were a little testing.
A little testing? A lot. I cried, several times, in February and March, through sheer frustration at my inability to play, something that used to be almost as easy as breathing. I had to force myself through exercises that I used to be able to do with my eyes shut, literally. I’m still having trouble with octave reaches – either this piano is small, or my hands have grown, because I keep playing ninths instead of octaves. Playing scales in octaves is helping, if extremely boring.
Tonight, I tried the Prokofiev again. I manged to play it through. Not well, admittedly, and in retrospect playing glissandos with a large chunk out of one finger (playing with cat, did not move fast enough) may not have been my wisest ever move, but… I can actually DO this. My skill IS returning, I’m not just dreaming it.
I’ve been around music all my life. My mother is a pianist (although by her own admission, less technically proficient than I am – she is better at playing by ear, though). My grandfather played saxophone and clarinet. I remember sitting in front of a keyboard without legs, bashing away happily at the keys while I was wearing nappies. Mum has corroborated the memory, along with my memories of plunking at the piano she and Dad got rid of before I was three.
I love having the piano. I really can’t express how much. I’m relearning music, and enjoying the simple academic achievement therein. I have the emotional release, where I can storm home on a bad day and work my way through Michael Nyman, John Williams*, Michael Hsiao**, Prokofiev, Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin, Debussy… anger and fear and upset and rage, temper and stupidity and irritation and frustration, working through to quiet and calm and peace.
Having the piano is really what’s made this house home. I’ve played until my hands hurt, tonight, until the tendons in my forearms are painful, despite scales and exercises, until typing is difficult because I’ve just had to rewire my brain-finger connections for the third time today, until the cut on my finger was bleeding; and I am unspeakably happy.
* I have the sheet music from Schindler’s List. The Krakow Ghetto and the main theme are in pretty much constant rotation.
** I found his music online years ago; the site doesn’t exist any more, and none of the Googling I do can turn the man up. This is possibly Google-fu-fail on my part, but it is quite sad.
It’s been a weird week. Tobermory’s parents got to the airport and then home to the UK safely, which is good. He and I have been wandering around vaguely putting the house to rights. I have about a billion loads of laundry to do, so of course it’s been pissing down with rain.
Both of the in-laws cried as they left. I’m glad they’ve enjoyed their stay, and… well, I feel guilty on occasion that I’m the reason Tobermory is over here, thousands of miles away from his family and his old friends. Seeing how upset they all were at the airport… I love Tobermory. And he’s happy here, more or less, but I know he hasn’t really had the chance to make friends that weren’t originally mine, and finding work up until he became resident was an absolute bitch. He and I are happy together, but I do sometimes wonder, with that little hateful voice from the hindbrain, if … friends, family, all the life he had there – might not be too high a price to pay for us. He’ll miss his family. Probably his father, moreso than his mother; despite, or perhaps because, they don’t always get on terribly well.
It’s not just his parents, I’m feeling a bit weird generally.
About a hundred women at work are pregnant, I swear I can’t walk through the building without seeing yet another belly walk round corners before the body carrying it. I have, in the last year or two, discovered that I have a biological clock. And it’s frankly extremely disconcerting to have your ovaries grab your brain by the stem and shake it violently going “OI, YOU. REPRODUCE, PLEASE.” While I do (eventually?) want kids with Tobermory, I am sufficiently old-fashioned enough to want to share a surname first.
When I returned to work from my “meeting the inlaws” holiday, I discovered that my female colleague had finally talked her boyfriend into proposing; they’re getting married in April, while they’re on the trip to India so he can meet her parents. And another friend has also announced her engagement. I am sufficiently childish to carry a strain of “Wah, I got engaged first!! why are you getting married first???” (Not that I’m not pleased for them, I am! But the hindbrain is stupid and childish at times, as well as hateful.)
The whole topic of weddings is such a minefield that I am highly tempted to elope* simply to escape drama. I know, as a fact, that Tobermory’s dad and my Mum in the same room would be cause for large scale drama, and … I just don’t want to go there. It’s not purely a selfish desire to escape, either, I don’t want to expose my mother to that if I can avoid it. And, well, Mum’s been dropping hints that she wouldn’t mind me eloping for as long as Tobermory and I have been living together, so I doubt she’d mind overmuch.
The answer seems to be a registrar’s office, then a party in each country**, but, well, I’m girly enough to kind of want the pretty dress and some nice photos for memorabilia purposes.
Whatever we do, the ‘typical’ shindig is right out. Amongst other things, my extended family would refuse to attend my wedding; in my own country, within travelling distance of all of them, and I’d rather not be reminded of that fact. And, frankly, I don’t have a terribly large number of friends, and it just seems stupid to put on a show for all of two dozen people. I suspect that my family would attend a celebration of some sort if we were already married, and celebrating that fact. The distinction is small, but it’s there. I miss my family. I’d like them to meet Tobes, I suspect he’d like my maternal uncle in particular.
Any time I think it over, I run up against eloping as the fairest option, not to mention the cheapest and easiest. I have yet to convince Tobermory of this. Yes, people on both sides of the family and in both countries will piss and moan, or be upset they missed out – and I genuinely like Tobermory’s mum, and don’t want to hurt her – but eloping leaves everyone modestly unhappy, Tobermory and I as happy as possible under the circumstances, and nobody actively offended.
And hey, any excuse for a party, right?
* I suspect I may have inadvertently communicated this desire to Tobermory’s mum – she is far too lovely and easy to talk to – and one of her parting instructions at the airport was that I’m allowed to be as sneaky and low-key about getting hitched as I like, but don’t DARE to get married without inviting her.
** This would also have the advantage of Tobermory’s mum being able to have an Event, which I suspect she would appreciate.
I miss writing here. But I sit down with a lot to say and end up saying nothing. I’ve a dozen starts of posts, and they mostly end up ranting vaguely about nothing in particular.
The house appears to have fleas. At least that’s easy to deal with; flea bombs, then dump flea powder on the carpet after vacuuming the following week. I miss having kitties around, but I won’t miss dealing with fleas. I miss Candy dreadfully. We spoke with the neighbours, told them we had moved out, so they knew to check on both kitties. It was clear that we couldn’t move such elderly cats, especially as we’d only be a couple of kilometers – well within kitty walking distance – from their old territory. We’ve gone back to check on them since; Candy in particular ran up, clearly missing us; but also recently bathed and well fed. I sobbed and sobbed. I miss her so much, the little fuzzy loving presence, the vibrating foot warmer on the bed, sitting on my desk with me. Meowing about my feet in the kitchen. But, we had to do the right thing by them, and I am convinced that we did. Even though it breaks my heart.
Mum visited for a week, and we survived, and even enjoyed it sometimes. Tobermory spent most of that time with her, as I was at work, and managed valiantly. I quite enjoyed most of it, not least because it’s our home, our rules, and I got a few petty kicks out of that fact.
I’m back at work, frustrated, annoyed, and rapidly losing all my tolerance for everything. I am in need of a proper holiday, the week off to move house really wasn’t holidaying. I am at the point where I have on two occasions broken my own rules about being rude to callers, and told them they have the choice of listening to me or getting the hell off my telephone, as I have better things to do than listen to whiny clueless fuckwits ignore what the skilled technician says.
Not in those words. I’m annoyed, not clueless, and not interested in being unemployed.
There are times I hate my job. It comes home with me, I get stressed and irritated and fractious, I snap at Tobermory and other people. I don’t deal with stupidity, I lack kindness and patience with my friends. I know my failings, and they frustrate and depress me.
I came home from work yesterday, sodden with rain, and Tobermory met me at the door with towels, and a freshly-run hot bath. He is endlessly good to me, even when I know I don’t deserve it. He complements my failings, draws me out of my shell. Supports me when I need it, tells me to shut up and get over myself when I need that instead. He’s good for me in ways I never expected. And despite, or perhaps because of, our differences and disagreements, it keeps working. Two years of residence in that miserable tiny flat didn’t destroy us, and if that didn’t…
I miss my family. Mum’s visit reiterated several things, one of them being that I am very much my father’s daughter, and that I am hopelessly separated from my family, and I want to see them. Although, Dad was the odd man out. I resemble my grandmother, and my uncle, and my cousins; not so much my dad. I wish I’d had more time to know them as an adult. Mum wandered around our house, and it’s funny, the things she pointed out to me. Things which I know my aunt and uncle and grandmother on that side do in their homes, and I do as well. Not because I’m mimicking them, but because it makes sense to me. Habits and hobbies, thought patterns, mannerisms even. I’ve always found the nature/nurture debate fascinating.
It’s funny, I’ve never really thought about how life may have been different, had my father lived. For some reason, that idea finally arrived in my brain recently. I don’t want to ask Mum, because I don’t think she’ll know the answers to my questions.
Mum spoke to my maternal uncle on the phone the other night. He was asking after Tobermory and I, our new home, and such. Mum passed on the standing invitation to visit, as I’d asked her to, and as I expected, it was promptly met with a “Thanks, but I don’t think I’ll be doing that”. Until Tobermory and I marry, they’ll not see me. And even then, they still may choose not to see the heretic daughter of the excessively pragmatic widow.
It’s my own choice. I chose my life, I chose my freedom, and I’d make the same choice again and again. It still bugs me sometimes.
I try to show my family respect. I haven’t contacted any of them, except Mum and Nana, since I left the faith. They occasionally pass messages via Mum, and they’re always glad to hear that I’m well. Everyone was pleased to hear about the house. But, my uncles have standing in their respective congregations. Even if they wanted to see me, there would be those who considered it irreligious to do so. They are my family, and I owe them respect, owe their lives and choices and religion respect; in turn they respect mine.
Tobermory and I got engaged. My family isn’t why. The proposal was extremely unromantic, but very us. No wedding plans yet. We’ll get around to it.
And it’s 1am. Life is busy, and I can’t do it on no sleep.
Fuck the self-righteous hypocritical fucking neighbours. Seriously.
For WEEKS they’ve had an extra car in the driveway, making my life getting in and out a fucking TETRIS puzzle if I want to use the parking space I FUCKING PAY FOR IN THE RENT.
Forj was here for an hour, if that, and had his car in the driveway so he could MOVE SHIT. Computer cases, as it happens, we were de-junking and there’s a scrap place near the Forjedon residence. Little Miss Selfrightous Neighbour BLOCKED HIM IN, rather than, I don’t know, coming down and ASKING HIM TO MOVE. And then my god, the SNOOTY BITCHY tone when I knocked and asked her to move! The aggrieved sigh when she asked us NOT to park there, for the UMPTEENTH time.
WE DON’T PARK THERE. FORJ WAS MOVING SHIT. YOU STUPID HYPOCRITICAL HAG.
She couldn’t even have the common fucking COURTESY to just ASK US TO MOVE WHEN SHE GOT HOME. FOR FUCK SAKE. I’ve spent WEEKS having to drive in and out of a space that is not really big enough for THREE cars with FOUR in it, and I haven’t complained! Not once! It’s clearly OK for THEM to have visitors, of course, I couldn’t POSSIBLY want to do the same, I couldn’t POSSIBLY have ANY rights to use the parking area, despite the RENT I PAY EVERY WEEK.
I HATE this flat. Hate hate hate. It’s small, no, it’s TINY, there’s no doors, it’s illegal, the power is wired wrong, the plumbing is wrong, they’ve broken (or attempted) the Tenancy Act at least once.
There’s a stagnant drain under the house that they won’t fix. Which I suppose is FINE for them, THEY don’t have to put up with the PUTRID STAGNANT REEK that emanates from that thing every time it RAINS. And, you know, that thing called Winter which is coming ever closer? Guess what, folks, it RAINS then. FIX THE FUCKING DRAIN.
They bitch about the powerbill, which would be a hell of a lot lower if there was, I don’t know, SOMEWHERE TO DRY LAUNDRY other than the dryer. Or if it wasn’t SO FUCKING DAMP we run a DEHUMIDIFIER every day, and get lung infections every two months ANYWAY, and risk losing our deposit due to the fucking DAMP CARPET. Which MY FURNITURE is sitting on and ROTTING. We get SLUGS inside.
I hate that until now we’ve been too poor to move. Fuck you, universe.
I have this funny trait. When something goes wrong, and I can’t solve it immediately, I get the idea in my head that this inability to fix it somehow equals an inability to cope.
I don’t know why I feel that way. It’s certainly no fault of my upbringing. I was taught how money worked very very young; I had pocket money, and Mum taught me how to save for the things I wanted. As I grew up, she explained money in vs. money out, and once I was old enough to comprehend, the entirety of the budget was explained to me. We were dirt-poor, but thanks to Mum’s careful planning we never ran out of anything. Mum ensured that I was given the skills to solve my problems, and helped when I needed it. Since primary school, if I came home with a worry, she’d let me talk it out. She’d then ask if I wanted her to fix it for me, or if I’d like advice, or if I just wanted to talk about it. So I was gently prodded and prompted into learning how to solve my own problems. From the silliness of the schoolyard through to navigating the complexities of teenage and teacher prejudice, I learned to cope.
Mum was a very good parent. And as a result, there really isn’t anything I absolutely cannot deal with. I have sensible analytical skills; I can problem solve; I can look at the pros and cons of situations; I can cope.
At some point in the latter two years of university, when work and uni and relationships and friends and family and religion and everything spiralled into depression, I lost confidence in myself. I got back on my feet, I graduated, I left home, I stopped going to church; I coped. I dealt with job loss, and money worries, I bought a car and paid the rent and bought food. Tobermory moved to New Zealand, we had our various ups and downs job-and-health-wise with him, but we coped.
Maybe it’s adulthood, maybe it’s something I’ll never quite get back after suffering that depressed spell. I’ve not needed antidepressants in a couple of years – it’s never been that black and miserable in my head since, something for which I’m exceedingly grateful. But that mental feeling of “Augh augh what am I going to doooo” is still with me.
I have no idea why. It’s stupid. Tobermory has assured me many times that “not coping” is just not what I do. Not coping is hiding under the duvet crying. Not coping is throwing tantrums at work when the nth person today swears at you. Not coping is spending all the rent money. Not coping is getting drunk instead of keeping the house tidy.
Me? I get up and go to work every day. I smile sweetly and keep the temper out of my voice when the third person in an hour tells me that the entire IT department is shit. The bills get paid first, the house is tidy, and the odd glass of wine of an evening certainly does no harm.
My brain is a strange strange place.