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Someone posted something (on facebook, natch) that got me thinking.

I don’t want to be needed. Need implies someone is dependent on me. Need implies that I am something they can’t get anywhere else. Need implies weakness, that only I can fill a gap, that they have no choice but to depend on me. Need implies that I have no choice but to be there for that person, because there is something that they require of me that I have no choice but to fulfill. Need requires things of me, whether I wish to give them or not.

I want to be wanted. I want someone to be strong, to be able to live without me, to have choices and options and freedom. I want to be chosen. Want implies strength, the power of choice. I want people in my life that have other options, who choose me anyway, because I am something that they want in their lives, because they could live without me and freely choose me. Want allows me a choice; I can choose to fill someone’s wants, or I can choose not to, knowing that I may make someone’s life richer for ceding to their wants. If I am wanted, it is because I make someone’s life better, not because I merely make their life bearable.

I don’t want to be a need. I need to be a want.

Originally published at kiwi geek. You can comment here or there.

emsk: (Default)

I’ve been trying to post this for awhile and every version wavers between stupid or ridiculously pretentious. I am giving up and sharing it anyway.

Mum used to wonder, when I was a kid, where I got my love for the sad music from. We’re very different, me and Mum – she’s a cheerful soul, through and through. Not that she’s never unhappy – her life’s had its share of grief – but she’s fundamentally an upbeat person.

I’m not unhappy, but I experience the world a different way.

I gravitated to the music in the minor keys, with the haunting refrains; the passionate, the angry, the sad, the quiet mourning. I remember discovering Bela Bartok and Debussy and being thrilled by them. And later, my piano teacher giving me Michael Nyman’s sheet music to The Piano.

Neither she nor my mother had seen the film; I suspect they’d have considered it deeply inappropriate for teenage Emma.

Music was always an outlet for me. A mental exercise, something I could work at and get right. Something that makes me happy. Something that reaches right into my heart and lets me express what I’m feeling.

When I got access to the ‘net, I started acquiring my own sheet music. I remember finding Michael Hsiao (who no longer seems to exist online), and revelling in a series of three songs – Insanity, Rage, and After. My mother always knew when I’d had a bad day at uni – I’d come home and throw myself at the piano, and she’d leave me in peace to work the angry out.

The same applies to the music I listen to. Sometimes I like the sad songs. The ones about heartbreak and loss and grieving, anger and fear and doubt and trouble. In some way, they make me happy.

We’re not encouraged to talk about the hard things. If someone asks “How are you?” they expect “Great!” as a response. Even among friends, it’s hard to say “I’m struggling”. We can’t say we’re sad, we’re upset, we’re depressed, we don’t know what to do. Or even if we do know what to do, and we just need to be allowed to be sad for awhile while we work through it.

I think I like the sad songs because, in order to write them, someone had to live them. They had to experience sadness. They had to say goodbye to a lover, to a friend, to a parent or child. They had to live with fear and stress and depression. And they chose to take that experience, to voice the sadness and make something from it.

So when I gravitate to these songs, it’s not because I want to wallow in sadness. I don’t want to remain upset, hurt, worried, stressed, sad. I gravitate to them because in times of trouble, I’m reminded that it’s possible to take the pain and build something beautiful.

Originally published at kiwi geek. You can comment here or there.

emsk: (Hex cheese)

There’s a few people in my friend’s circle doing the 101-things-in-1001-days. It’s our fifth wedding anniversary today, so I’m starting mine now, and I’m going to fudge the 1001 days bit to “my 35th birthday”, as I’m more likely to actually remember when that end date is!

My list is in Dropbox, and has 60 things on it so far. I figure I’ll work out more life goals as I go. It’s a stupidly organised Excel spreadsheet, which at least makes me feel like I’ll pretend some accountability to myself!

Some of them are small – make gnocchi that doesn’t suck, for example. Some are large – achieve a new roof on the house (oh god, that will be expensive).

Here’s to documented achievements.

Originally published at kiwi geek. You can comment here or there.

emsk: (Default)

I’m endlessly fascinated when I’m teaching. I look around the room, and there’s however many people there, doing something they might never have done before. We’re using a strange alchemy of words and movements and attempts at explanation – and hoping it will somehow translate, across the barrier of someone else’s brain into someone else’s body, in a way that will make sense to them, make sense to their partner, make sense to us when we’re looking at it…

It just endlessly fascinates me that this actually WORKS. We’ve said some words, shown some movements, said more words, tried again. We’ve done this, this bizarre thing, and the knowledge is departing from us and entering someone else’s brain.

And it astounds me to see it happening. And it’s a real… privilege? honour? I’m not sure what it is. Something. It’s just … bloody amazing, walking out of a class, seeing that room full of people doing something they’ve never done before, doing it well, and … knowing that somewhere along the lines, I’m responsible for that.

It’s amazing. I love it.

Originally published at kiwi geek. You can comment here or there.

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Michele Collier – found here.

I want to give nothing
of myself today
and make a holy day
out of my sadness
and say no
to all requests
and wrap my heart
in warmth and comfort
and layered in blankets
I want to give nothing
of myself today
I want to be safe
alone and away
from the world
and all that it asks
and demands of me
I want to give nothing
of myself today
and tell all the beggars
at my door
to please go away
that my well is empty
that I have no more
and tell them
that they should know
that today is holy
and it is not a day
for giving alms
but a day for honoring
what we already have
hoarded and stored
and long forgotten
in our own hearts
I want to give nothing
of myself today
I want to stop and let
my tears fall
and feel them run
down my face
and drop
from my cheeks
and imagine
they are diamonds
that were created
by my own pain
and born
of my own heartache
and I want to love them
each and every one
and call them mine
I want to give nothing
of myself today
and if someone asks me
which way they should go
I will turn to them
and tell them
that I do not know
and that the blind
should never
lead the blind
and that today
I cannot see
I want to give nothing
of myself today
I want to love this day
and honor it
and all its emptiness
and call it mine
I want to give nothing
of myself today
no words or looks
and no touches
of my hem
until tomorrow
maybe then
I can give of love again.

Originally published at kiwi geek. You can comment here or there.

emsk: (Default)

The year I turned twenty-six, I decided to change my life. I was stuck in a dead-end helpdesk role, working shifts. I had nothing outside work that was really inspiring me – no hobbies, and the shift work meant that I couldn’t pick anything new up easily.

So I started job hunting.

At the same time, Tobermory and I were planning our wedding. 2010 was a year of big changes. We got married. I got a new job. Any of those things could be perceived as life-changing. And, sure, the new job changed a lot about my life. Being married didn’t really change my life, although having a partner-now-husband creates changes in my life every day.

As he said to me the other day – he makes compromises for our marriage every day. But he didn’t compromise in choosing me to marry. That sums it up, really. Respect, change, compromise – because I chose someone worth compromising with to spend my life with.

But the really big change for me took place just after my twenty-seventh birthday. I had my first salsa lesson.

Three years later, I have changed so many things. I am more confident. I am fitter, stronger, happier, healthier. I get up every day cheerful, I go out five nights a week where in the past I wouldn’t have left my hobbit hole after dark. I dance with strangers, I approach guys and ask them for dances, where it took me a year to step out of my comfort zone and go dancing socially at all.

I am happy now. Three years ago.. I wasn’t unhappy. I’ve never been unhappy in my marriage, and I enjoy my job. OK, neither of those statements are entirely true – Tobermory drives me mad on a regular basis and some days I just want to punch my monitor. But those are in the realms of normal grumble – at a fundamental level, I love my husband and enjoy my work. But I needed something that actively MADE me happy, not something I had to pour work into. Dance makes me happy on a fundamental level nothing else ever has.

I am glad that I stepped outside my comfort zone, and stepped into the studio. Every time I go there, it’s like coming home.

It took me awhile to acknowledge and adopt the title of dancer. I don’t look like a traditional dancer – I’m far from thin, I’m thirty in five days. But you know what? I AM a dancer. I spend five or more days a week dancing for two hours. I listen to the music I dance to, I teach, I live and breathe for dancing. It’s not a hobby, it’s a passion, something I am passionate about, something I love. Dance is no longer something I do, it’s something I am.

Originally published at spinneretta

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I got to dance an entire song with my zouk teacher last night. Unsurprisingly, he’s fantastic, as you’d hope for a teacher. At this point, I’m competent enough that we can actually dance. I don’t need my partner to stick to prescribed moves, I can actually follow. Don’t get me wrong, it all falls apart on occasion, but with a partner who’s better than me, we can actually keep going through an entire song and I don’t do the stumblefuck “oops I’m sorry wah” (much).

I wish I knew how to communicate the pleasure I get from dancing. Being led through the musicality of the track, slowing down and speeding up with the rhythms and bridges and climbs. Being held close and led properly by someone who knows how to dance, no self consciousness, just the sheer joy of movement. I love the smile on my teacher’s faces when I nail something, when I follow a lead correctly or cambre properly or just improvise a shine. I know the glee is written all over mine. And yes, the “hey, fat girl, what are you doing” demons do come out to play occasionally, but you know what? I really doubt I look as ridiculous as I feel.

And I worry that I sound like I’m concealing a sexual interest, when what I want to say is that I love the closeness, the sensuality, of dancing. Trust me, there ain’t none of my dance partners that tickle my fancy, and by now, I’m pretty sure I’d know. Zouk’s not something you dance if you are at all self conscious about your personal space. It requires a lot of contact; it’s led from the chest, the hips, the legs. While T and S were teaching last night, they were sneaking a hand in between bellies, just to make the point that there was NOT supposed to be clearance there.

I wonder why I feel like I have to apologise for enjoying dance? Silly, really. I mean, I’m 28 years old. I should be past the navel gazing and fear that Other People Might Think I’m Silly.

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I feel like a mass of contradictions, sometimes. I want to work in IT, but I also like being a homebody who cooks and sews. I want to be a dancer, but I love food, cooking and eating. I like being strong, and being independent, and I want to be at home with my husband, under his protection.

I would like to own a cafe someday. There is a quote from Pratchett that is pretty much the sort of place I’d like to own.

There were plenty of hot-chair eating places like the one Vimes headed for now. It sold plain food for plain men. There wasn’t a menu. You ate what was put in front of you, you ate it quick, and you were glad to get it. If you didn’t like it, there were plenty who did. The dishes had names like Slumgullet, Boiled Eels, Lob Scouse, Wet Nellies, Slumpie and Treacle Billy — good, solid stuff that stuck to the ribs and made it hard to get up out of the seat. They generally had a lot of turnip in, even if they weren’t supposed to.

I’m good at tasty / bulk meals like this, and I’d love a little hole-in-the-wall cafe with bar stools and high benches, a different meal, or maybe two at most, each day. It would have bread rolls and nice solid stoneware dishes and be wildly popular, and a little bit quirky. I would sell jam and sauces and maybe cookies and things to take away for dessert.

Funny thing happened at dance a few weeks ago. In salsa, I spend a lot of time in salsa chanting “1,2,3…5,6,7…” to myself. I’m a musician at heart, so I don’t generally struggle to keep time – I understand what the music is doing. Still, counting under my breath helps me remember what I’m doing right now, especially when learning a new move.

Practicing with a classmate the other week, we were going great guns. After a few double-speed turns, I was running out of breath and gave up the chant, in favour of counting in my head. Suddenly the whole thing fell apart, he lost time, I couldn’t figure out what he was doing, flailwaughstop.

“What happened there?”

“You stopped counting! I was lipreading!”

“I was out of breath, dude! You could… count for yourself?”

“I… I never thought of that.”

Periodically, the company gets reminders from the finance department. It’s X time of year, please remember to do Y, that sort of thing. Usually they’re form emails.

Late last year, someone cocked up. Instead of the usual “dear everyone, please do X, regards, Finance”, we received a little missive from a gentleman to his ladyfriend. He was looking forward to their anniversary, and wished her a very sexy time over the weekend. There were no names, for which we were all thankful.

I’m in the IT department. We all know who was responsible. As such, one of the admins periodically takes delight in asking the author what cost code he should charge sexytimes to…

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I don’t really do New Year’s resolutions. Instead, I tend to enact them on my birthday, as a date of personal significance that I might actually pay attention to. This is how I started dancing, as a birthday present / promise to myself. That worked well.

This year might just be a little different. I’ve come home from the UK, and having had a break away from home, I’m suddenly fired up with motivation (and more importantly ideas) to get the house Sorted Out. For example, I have realised that the problem in my laundry room is that half the shelves in the closet should be removed. That will allow me to hide the ironing board, mops, etc, and allow access to the boiler. I don’t need all the shelves for the sheets and things, and the spare blankets can go in the closet above the other boiler, where Tobermory has been suggesting I put them for the entirety of the three years we’ve lived here. It is a convenient location for the toilet paper, true, but it would be more useful as a blanket cupboard.

I also went to IKEA, while in the UK, and had some furniture shipped to my inlaws. They’re shipping a load of T’s stuff out to us, and my lovely mother-in-law was happy for me to piggy-back on the crates they’ll be shipping out.

My general plan is to organise one thing a week; that way I might actually stick to Plan 2012: Tidy The Bloody House without getting overwhelmed or bored. There’s crates full of crap in the spare room; when we start feeling guilty about the mess in the house, we’ve been ‘tidying’ by way of piling the mess in a crate and hiding it, which really isn’t the kind of plan that lends itself to the long-term. T & I plan to reorganise one of these crates a week. Most of it can probably be thrown away. At some point, we’ll get to the stage where we can get into the cupboard in the office, and once the cupboard in said office is accessible, we can start putting the piles of paper that float all over the house into the filing cabinet that is presently inaccessible, partly because of the aforementioned piles.

You can see that we have work to do, but we’ll get there if we take it slowly and don’t try and do everything at once. That just leads to getting overwhelmed, giving up, and hiding it all in the closets. Again.

Today, I have cleared one of the sets of drawers in my craft room, and reorganised my shoe cupboard. (Yes, I have an entire cupboard set aside for my shoes, and my car is occasionally referred to as the shoe store by Colitis.)

I have, so far, generated one sack full of trash. I’ve been home two days.

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It’s Christmas Eve. Well, technically it’s Christmas, as it’s 02:41 on the 25th. We’ve been in the UK nearly a month, and I don’t know what to say about it.

I miss the cats. Not so much home, but I miss my Tigra girl especially.

We’ve just returned from midnight mass. This is a tradition, kept to by Tobermory’s family every year – midnight mass is Not Optional, it is just what you Do when you are here for Christmas. It was uncomfortable and strange. I’ve become unaccustomed to displays of faith, much less displays of a faith I’m unfamiliar with.

I didn’t realise how dependent I was on knowing the words of hymns. Apparently standing up and singing is somehow ingrained in my soul, because it really shook me when I couldn’t sing along. It’s not even that it’s a faith I share, there’s just some … inherent expectation that I will sing along in church. Not knowing the words really upset me, somehow, and I don’t know why. Well, I knew Silent Night and Come, All Ye Faithful, but the other two hymns/carols I didn’t.

I came home and had a very strong rum and coke. I couldn’t think of a better way to deal with the weird, so I drowned it in alcohol.

I’ve enjoyed the trip, I think. We attended a glorious wedding (T’s best man), and it was wonderful. I even convinced my husband to dance with me during the reception, and he wasn’t drunk.

I miss dancing. I didn’t know how much I enjoyed it until I was removed from it for a month. I miss the sense of accomplishment, the sense of pride in my own body. I need to lose some serious weight. Next year’s goal, maybe. Although everyone I know well over here has asked how much weight I’ve lost. Apparently I’ve either lost or relocated some.

The Christmas tree here is two stories tall. The star kisses the ceiling. It’s not exactly subtle. And the pile of gifts is ridiculous and huge. Excepting the inevitable family drama (it’s Christmas after all) tomorrow (today) should be a good day.

I should really sleep. But my husband isn’t in the room yet, and I can’t drop off without his arms around me.

emsk: (Default)

I have flown very little. The flights between the UK and NZ, and now a short flight from Auckland to Christchurch. Tobermory’s flown all over the world, but I have now done something in a plane that he has not – a very short commercial flight!

Maybe one day I’ll become a jaded traveller. But for now, there’s something awesome about the aircraft speeding down the runway at Auckland airport – the runway heads directly to the ocean. The plane flings itself into the sky just as it looks like you’re going to run out of ground, earth and sea and sky hurtling past you as you climb.

And New Zealand is astonishing to fly over. It’s not the rolling curves or flat desert that I’ve seen flying into other places – it’s harsh, uncompromising angles of mountain thrust into the air, black shadows and snowcaps, treelines and rock.

It’s bleak but beautiful.

Originally published at spinneretta.com
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I had a dream last night. I’d been at the supermarket, and rescued a stray pig. One of those pot-bellied pigs that people keep as pets. It was quite a cute little pig, although it had sharp little hooves.

Whether this had more to do with Tobermory’s snoring, or the fact that Tigra was industriously attempting to treadle my foot into a different shape while purring enthusiastically at me, is anyone’s guess.

Originally published at spinneretta.com
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I am back at work. It kind of sucks, but I treated myself to a French polish/manicure on my lunchbreak.

I am still not accustomed to the vague guilt I feel at paying little Asian ladies to run around and pretty up bits of my person.

I drove nearly 600km on my last day off (voluntarily and it was enjoyable) but I am still quite tired today. Tobermory crashed out on the couch tonight, and snarled/snored at me when I went to suggest the bed as a preferable venue, so I threw a blanket over him and went to sleep myself.

At least, that was the theory. Instead I tossed and turned and flailed for ages, until I eventually shuffled off after opening the curtains.

Just as I finally – finally! – dozed off, the door creaked open and he stumbled into the room to come to bed.

Then bloody Boomer turned up going waark waaar waaoookrrrkk? because his water bowl was empty (which, OK, is a valid complaint), so that got dealt with. He is such a shouty cat lately, every little thing that he wishes us to deal with is WWWWAAARRRK at full volume, and it’s not like we usually ignore him!

Then I heard the fridge going beeep beeeep beeep which turned out to be Ahze, but I didn’t know that until I found a dress to put on and marched out to the kitchen (to see a sleepy man wandering around just trying to get a drink, which is fine, he’s allowed obviously) and argh.

Now I can’t get to sleep.

So I’m in the snug, so as not to disturb anyone else, and Boomer has come in and seen me and cheerfully gone “prt! it’s a human, hooray!” and snuggled down beside me, and I am INCENSED that he is sacked out in a pile of improbably angled limbs and fur when I am tired but not sleepy because apparently half an hour’s nap is all I need in the summer, thank you solar-powered brain but I actually like to get SOME kip in before I have to crawl out to meet the day star again! And Tigra is being a pain in the bum and keeps trying to convince me to play with her, which would be fine if she didn’t want to play with whatever it is that’s behind the couch, and if her definition of “play” didn’t actually mean “rip to shreds then look innocent when confronted with remains”.

She is presently hiding in the corner after being yelled at for pouncing my foot and biting my big toe. Periodically I hear purring noises emanating from the corner, I do not know what she’s got back there with her and I don’t care because she has shut up and stopped being a pain, and when she emerges from her voluntary time out I will pet her and love her and she will flomp on her back and demand belly rubs, because she is my girl and knows I love her, and mostly because she likes belly rubs.

Eventually my brain will register “oh hey, it’s coming up 1am” and I will magically become tired. And then I will feel like I’ve had no sleep when the alarm clock goes up and tomorrow will suck.

When is the weekend?

Originally published at spinneretta.com
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Dec. 24th, 2010 10:46 pm
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I don’t really have any Christmas traditions – growing up in a family that didn’t celebrate it isn’t really conducive to having them! And Tobermory’s traditions revolve around, well, being in the Northern Hemisphere, for a start, with the attendant snow and ability to eat yourself into a stupor without boiling to death, plus his family gets together and does The Family Christmas Thing.

They have a twelve foot tree this year.

Tobes and I haven’t really had any traditions of our own. This year I got a real tree, mostly because he asked.

Now, it’s Christmas Eve. The presents (such as they are, as we’re having a cheap year – house repairs this year have been Expensive) are all wrapped. The lights on the tree are on. I have LED tealight candles on the staircase. His stocking, the one his mother embroidered for him while pregnant, is hung. The fridges are somewhat excessively full of food, an issue I plan to resolve in the next few days (along with some careful stashing of the inevitable leftovers in the chest freezer).

We had steak and salad for dinner – we’ve done this fairly consistently for the last few years. Why not, it’s summer, right?

And now we’re all ensconced on the couch, with various drinks and snacks, watching the Sky adaptation of Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather. I am warm, well fed, very happy and content, and snuggling with my husband.

This is a tradition that I can get behind.

Originally published at spinneretta.com
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emsk: (Default)

I bite my nails. I don't know why - I've always done it, as long as I can remember.

I don't bite them to the quick any more. I managed to stop, for awhile there, and had pretty french polished nails that were all my own. Then Tobermory has the migraine which involved him trying to beat his head through the hospital wall, and I bit them all off that night.

I haven't quite recovered.

These days, they're just past the quick - there is some visible white - and I think I've finally grown out all the damage that I caused wearing fake nails for our wedding. I don't regret it - they were lovely fake french nails, and the pictures are pretty as a result. I am vain enough to care about this.

It does bother me, and with the damage grown out, I've started painting my nails again. At the moment it's with one of the magic voodoo formulas that Sally Hansen produces - probably completely useless for any of the things it promises to do (Titanium complex! Magic growth formula!) but it tastes so utterly foul when I chew on my nails that I'm less prone to have a vague thoughtless nibble.

I spent years, as a teenager, wishing I was someone a bit different. I think most people go through a similar phase. But I grew up; and sometime in the last few years I realised that the only way to get to be the kind of person I want to be is get off my butt and do something about it. Yes, that's an obvious comment, but knowing it and actually KNOWING it, having your brain go "Hey, I could do X and it would make me more like who I want to be!"... there's a fairly significant sea change involved in that thought process. Somewhere along the lines, stopping biting my nails, and thus having presentable pretty hands, is part of the change to who I wish I was. It's also why I bought suits in the UK, because I'd kind of like to be the kind of woman who wears suits. And now, I guess, I am a woman who wears suits, because frankly it makes life easier in the mornings - fall out of bed, find clean shirt, throw suit on.

And pretty hands is just one of those things that ... well, appearances are important. People - or at least, women - notice your hands, your nails, and I want mine to be attractive.

Originally published at spinneretta.com
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I went to my first salsa class tonight. I’ve wanted to do something dance-like again for a long time, but what with my ridiculously changeable work schedule – OK, and a fair bit of the fact that I wasn’t willing to put on my big girl pants and step out of my comfort zone – I just hadn’t done it.

With the new job, and the fact that at twenty-seven years old I really ought to be willing to do something like dance All By Myself, I found a salsa class. The eight-week beginner’s class? Started today. My birthday was yesterday. It seemed like the right kind of omen, so I signed up, paid in advance, and did the first class tonight. It was fun!

There was the predictable mix of couples, unattached females, and one wannabe lothario present. He didn’t quite fit the mold, in that he actually possessed a chin and appeared to be of Asian descent, but still.

I had fun, in a mildly malcoordinated I-wish-I’d-left-my-high-heels-on kind of way. Also predictably, I failed to catch signals from men trying to lead me – I get insistent on staying in time and forget that women are supposed to follow their partner’s lead, but by the end of the class I’d more or less gotten over myself.

It’s funny, I’ve gotten to the age of 27 and still periodically discover a way in which I have unexpectedly grown up, or gained confidence, or whatever. A month or so ago I was in a foodcourt, couldn’t find an empty table, and marched up to a chap eating by himself, plonked down at the table (politely, with a “d’you mind?”) and proceeded to eat my lunch. I wouldn’t have done that a few years back. No confidence.

Funny the things that change.

Originally published at spinneretta.com
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Mar. 15th, 2010 10:31 pm
emsk: (Default)
Apparently my definition of Keeper, and by extension, Husband, includes someone who is willing to assist in the excavation and cleaning of pus-filled craters on one's person; even when the task is somewhat nauseating.

(I had an infected armpit hair follicle. It was, truly, foul. I do love my husband...)

emsk: (Default)
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.

Originally published at spinneretta.com.
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emsk: (Default)

The last funeral I went to was over three years ago. A six-month-old baby, who succumbed to cot death. That? Was appalling. Tears and hurt and pain on all sides.

Edie’s funeral was today. And it wasn’t sad. Yes, her family will miss their Nanny, but none of us can regret her death. Her life story, most of which I knew. Her family, her friends, her husband. The faith she held for so many years, believed in so strongly that she spoke of it before her death. She’d organised her funeral herself, which I thought was nice. Had her mokopuna bring in flowers with the pallbearers, which they arranged around the coffin. No formalities, just a peaceful contented atmosphere. We smiled and laughed, and yes, there were a few tears, but we can’t really begrudge her death. She was old, and content, and tired. She’s buried, now, with her husband, happy and at peace.

As the hearse left, two of her whanau were playing saxophone. The old jazz music she’d loved all her life. It was… bizarre, having jazz playing in a house of worship, but strangely fitting for Nanny Edie.

I’m still stuck between a rock and a hard place. Listening to the funeral talk today… she believed what I’ve been taught. I’ve known that all my life. Like a terrier, she was, give her an argument and she’d not rest. Was one of the things I liked about her, even as her irascible temperament irritated me from time to time.

But.. do I have that faith? In anything? I’m still dithering about what I’ll do when I’ve moved. Pick up again, find a new congregation in Auckland? Step away from it all? No-one but me can help me make up my mind here. And oh, it’s hard.

Originally published at kiwi geek. You can comment here or there.

emsk: (Default)

I’m suffering from packing woes.

All my stuff, bar what I’ll need in the next couple of weeks, is packed. Well. Except for the stuff I keep forgetting that I have. The stuff I forget I own. The other stuff hanging in the spare wardrobes. The stuff Mum wanders in with, going “Have you remembered this is yours too?”

But we’re getting there. Things are 95% packed, now, which is good, as I’m working all week and simply won’t have TIME to do much more.

I have a funeral to go to on Wednesday. An elderly lady, someone I’ve known all my life. I remember, when I was little, begging to go out with her on Tuesdays. She was fearless round dogs, and that always appealed to me. She was witty and kind, always had a kind word for the little ones. Four months ago, she was forced to give up driving, after a car accident. Two weeks ago, she’d had enough. She was ill, old, and tired, and she told us all that she just wanted to quietly drift away. So, noon on Friday, she got her wish, and died peacefully in her bed. She was 86.

Although I haven’t always liked her, I will miss her. She got a bit crochety in the last couple years. Deaf, irritable sometimes. She’d slowed, had a hip replacement. Needed two sticks to walk. But always had a smile ready for you. Particularly if you took muffins around to her, like I did every 6 weeks or so.

She’d had a long and happy life, and died surrounded by her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren. Some of the 5th generation too, I believe. She’ll be buried with her husband, in the family plot. It’s funny how sometimes, you don’t realize how much you love the furniture of your life. She was just always… there. A kind word, a funny story, some elderly antic that made us all smile with her. Her presence will be missed. But, she’s happily at rest now. I can’t be sorry about that.

Originally published at kiwi geek. You can comment here or there.


emsk: (Default)

November 2015

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