Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I don't feel too old

I came down hard and heard a pop.

Then there was a sharp pain in my right ankle.  My right foot had slyly and selfishly turned in to escape the impact of the landing, failing it's close neighbor, the ankle, which was left to absorb the shock.  While feet excel at this, ankles do not.  This explains the pain.

I was on a trampoline, which is good because it had more give than any ground I've ever met, though had I been on the ground, I would not have been falling through the air and therefore would not have needed the give.

In any case, the ankle was sprained.

The next day at my office, my supervisor, upon seeing the crutch leaning against the wall near my desk, pointed to it and furrowed her brow.

"I sprained my ankle yesterday," I said.  She continued to look at me and her brow continued to be furrowed.

"I was on a trampoline," I went on, expecting this to be enough, expecting her eyebrows to raise, her head to nod, and her feet to take her away from my desk.  Perhaps she would even say "ahhh," as she did it, to confirm that she now understood completely.

Instead, her brow was as furrowed as ever, her eyes squinted, her head turned, and her mouth broke into a small smile.  It was as if I had just told the punchline of a joke.  It was not, however, a joke.  My ankle hurt.

I was confused at her reaction.  I expected some combination of amusement and compassion at the telling of my tale, but this was more like amusement and skepticism, or even judgement.

"Am I too old for that story?" I asked, joking, of course, but not knowing why else should would be looking at me that way.

"Yes.  You're in a new age bracket now, Katie," was her response.

She laughed and walked away.

I was shocked.  I'm still shocked.

I've never been too old to do something before, or at least something that I've actually wanted to do.  I had come to believe that the changing list of activities that occupies one's time is not related to an external set of rules, but the dynamic interests, desires, and priorities of a growing person.  I thought that jumping on a trampoline was an acceptable behavior until my desire to jump on a trampoline had faded, which was not now.  But, here I was, being chuckled at.  Was my theory incorrect?  Is it fantasy to believe that I can do whatever I'd like to do, as long as I'm able?

I certainly hope that she is wrong and not me. If I am wrong, and I am every day losing the ability to participate in youthful activities, I hope there is a guide somewhere - a book that can tell me everyday which activities I should avoid, if I wish to also avoid the chuckles.

fellow synchrobloggers' posts:
The Next Long Haul
outer door

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

my baby, the earth

It seems to me that we all take ourselves far too seriously.

Everyone goes around, trying only to give as much as they've gotten.  God forbid someone take too much from us, without making up for it later.  It's amazing that our heads don't explode from keeping track of who owes what to whom in every relationship we have.

I'm not really talking about money, either, though that can be part of it, but favors, affection, kind words, unsolicited help, and general regard are all parts of it.

I'm not discluding myself. If someone asks me for something, and my internal tabulator cannot make it fit into the economics of our relationship, I am irked. Similarly, if someone offers to help me with something, and I can't find a way in which they somehow owe it to me, I am uncomfortable and, usually, refuse. Unusual debts are more difficult to keep track of and to reconcile. And we all must always be reconciled.

We can't really figure out which is worse - to feel that someone has taken too much from us, or to feel that we have taken too much from someone else.  It's all arrogance. We think of ourselves as strong people, no one's doormat, people who draw the line where the line needs to be drawn.  We are also offended by the idea of owing something to someone else.  We are far too independent for that.

I want to let go.  I want all that I have to be fluid, to come and go as the world around me calls for it, like the ocean throwing waves on the shore and then taking them back.  I don't want to fight the ocean.  I don't want to keep track, either.  It gives me anxiety.

It seems that the only human relationship that seems to, on occasion, escape this system is the relationship between parents and children.  (Please let me make this romantic generalization.  Thanks.)  The best parents will give and give and give everything they have to give, including the most earnest and pain-staking decision-making as to what it is, exactly, that their precious little ones need.  Do they run dry?  Do they ever decide that they've been used up, or that they've somehow lost their worth?  Not usually.  Not in a fatal way, anyway.  They are fueled by love.

Why do we, then, fear so much?  If I lend someone money and they don't pay me back, am I somehow less of a person?  Have they taken any of my humanness away?  No. No. No.

Love. Confidence. Gratitude. Holding on to these things, maybe I can let go of everything else.

fellow synchrobloggers' posts:
Debt, n
What Do I Owe You?
debt we debtors
Debt of Lament

Friday, April 1, 2011

I play music at bars sometimes.

I play music at bars sometimes. It's good fun. My friends come out. I meet new people - bar patrons, other musicians, adventurous friends of friends. All of this, I enjoy.

This story is about one of these times.

I had been looking forward to this show. I liked the venue and it was close to my house. Also, we hadn't played in a while, so the resilient novelty was back.

The sound check was over and so I approached the bar for a free PBR, my favorite of the minimal perks awarded small-time musicians. As I waited, a man entered from the street. His appearance wasn't remarkable, but the way he interacted with his surroundings was slightly alarming. He greeted everyone with great physical and vocal enthusiasm, like he had just arrived at a family reunion. The responses were minimal or nonexistent, which made his behavior seem even that much more out of place.

He approached me and asked a few questions. I, entertained, engaged him for a short period of time.

"Who's in your band?" he asked.

"Those guys over there. " I answered, pointing to a small circle of men across the room.

"Oh, I know those guys." he said as he swung his arms in an "aw shucks" kind of way and began to walk toward the other members of my band.  I knew he did not, in fact, know them and so I did not follow him, but instead went on drinking my free PBR.

He didn't approach me again until I was walking from the bar to the stage.  I hadn't been playing attention and the out-of-synch strumming and drumming, characteristic of any band's first moment on stage, alerted me to the fact that I was supposed to be there too.

Once we made eye contact before I reached the stage, I knew I had been intercepted.  He began to speak, set on another conversation, but I interrupted.

"I have to get on stage now," I said with a smile.  (One is always kind to people in bars when they're about to listen to one's music.)

"Okay, but I have one more thing for you after," he replied.

"Okay," I said, with another smile that he may or may not have seen before I turned my head away from him.

Hopping on stage, I wondered what this "one more thing" would be.  And had there been other "things" that would make this new "thing" an addition?

I didn't have too much time to wonder.  When I turned around to face the audience, there he was, standing inches from the stage, right in front of me.  He was holding his right hand out, palm down, with his fingertips all touching - the way you would carry a dirty diaper.  But there was no diaper, or anything else, hanging from his gathered fingers.  He looked at me, expectantly, and continued to hold his hand toward me.  I decided that there must be something very small in his hand that he was trying to give me.

Not wanting to be rude, I flattened my hand, palm up, and held it under his.  He released his fingers and something fell onto my hand.  I closed the gap between my face and hand to get a better look.

It was an eyebrow ring.  At least, I assumed it was an eyebrow ring because he had a similar silver hoop through his eyebrow.

I was at once confused and disgusted to be holding something that was meant to be pushed through the face of an unsavory stranger.  I smiled an anxious smile and said "thank you" as the chords of the first song began to play.

Sustaining the anxious smile, I tilted my still flat hand over the set list on the ground until the questionable object slid off and rested right in the middle of the sheet of paper.

We started to play, and I forgot for a minute what had just happened, but between the first two songs, and every song thereafter, I looked down to check the set list there it was, shiny and upsetting.

The man's behavior during the show was, considering the story until this point, not surprising.  Erratic movements and exclamations as well as, I believe, at least some mild disrobing.  (He wasn't drinking, but I heard afterward that he was seen taking some pills.  That helps a little.)

When we were finished, he approached the stage, but this time, I decided to take a bit more control of the situation.  I picked up the load-bearing set list and offered it to him.

"Do you want this back?" I asked, very seriously, looking at the ring.

"No, that's for you because your nose ring is so beautiful." he replied.

(I had switched my nose ring from a stud to a hoop right before the show, to be a little bit cooler.  This was not cool.)

"It's okay, I have plenty." I said, bringing the piece of paper closer to him, and tilting it toward him.  The ring began to slide and he caught it.

"Thanks, though." I said, my usual smile returning.

fellow synchrobloggers' posts:
Music Ascending
Hail, Music
sing on, michael bolton