Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Music, The Best Distraction

I don't have anything earth shattering to share today. It's cold. It's rainy. It's windy. It's April. :::shrug::: I'm uninspired. There are a few things from the music world I'm kind of obsessing about right now, so I will share.

  • The new Death Cab For Cutie cd, Codes And Keys, is coming out soon, soon, soon!!! They did this amazing thing - they filmed the video for their single "You Are A Tourist" in a live, single take. It was scripted and had multiple cameras, and they streamed the taping of it live as they filmed. It was tres cool to watch while they made history, and I love, love, love the song.

  • I'm also loving me some Laura Jansen. She opened for Joshua Radin when I saw him in Indianapolis in February, and she's amazeballs. Her cd, Bells, was released March 22, and it's one of those I-don't-have-to-skip-a-single-song albums. (That's right, I said album. Shoot me.) It's also one of those I-only-sing-along-when-I'm-alone jobs, because... well, just because. Here's one of her videos:

  • To say I'm obsessed with itunes is, frankly, a stretch. I mean, it's been around long enough that the novelty is kinda gone... right? WRONG! They just keep making things easier, better, more fabulous for us. Remember hearing that your favorite artist had a new cd being released and you had to run out to the store to pick it up the day it was released before they sold out? ...or is that just me? Anyway, no worries and no waiting... itunes has this pre-sale feature. In all likelihood they've had it for a good long while and I've just ignored it. That's beside the point. The important thing is that's how I got Laura Jansen's new one, will get Death Cab's new one, and just got Paul Simon's new one. (Did you know he has a new album? I'm saving it for work, since my job is so friggin boring that it makes me want to... well, shoot myself in the face is drastic... let's just say I'm eagerly anticipating the tax season being over so my job is done.) All that to say, I'll let you know about Mr Simon's latest venture when I hear it.) The other cool thing about the presale feature is you get some of the songs before the release date... Death Cab is giving me about four, I think, over the course of several weeks. Awesome.

  • While we're on the topic of itunes, one of my complaints is when one of my cds comes up as "Track 1, Track 2, Track 3, Track OMG how do I not have the title of the song, Track 5..." I have spent many an hour listening to a song, trying to snag a phrase or sentence out of it and then googleing the line with the word "lyrics" so I could find out the title of the song and sometimes even the artist. It was slow, it was frustrating and it was time consuming. It was such a commitment that the last time I had to reload my music (with four new computers over time and a couple viruses, it wasn't a one-time event) I skipped alot of my music and only uploaded those that have the names. Then along came the Shazam app.

I'm telling you, those of you without apps are missing out. I was in denial for a long time, thinking I wasn't missing what I hadn't been exposed to, but this has changed my life. Don't think "Oh, Missy... you're being so dramatic. It hasn't 'changed your life.'" Oh, but it has, dear reader, it has. It a nutshell, you play a little bit of the song and Shazam tells you the artist, title, album it's on, as well as other information. If you're listening to the radio or it's just a song you don't own, you can get it from itunes on.the.spot. It's not a new app, since it's been around since 2002, but it's fantastic. Thanks to Shazam, my itunes is looking all organized and shiny... and it makes me very, very happy.

Well, I guess that does it for today. I'm off to work to try and distract the boringness of the experience with the wonderful tunes awaiting me on my ipod.

Happy listening, everyone!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Not everyone will understand this...

This is a repost of a note I wrote on Facebook last August. Since it's one of my favorites and some of my friends hadn't read it, I'm putting it on here so it's easier to access.

...and to those who don't, that's OK. I'm sharing anyway, because I think it's just pretty amazing.

Back in the day when I was living in Oklahoma, tattoos were pretty much illegal. Ok, ok, let me clarify: Tattoos = not illegal. Tattoo parlors where you get tattoos = illegal. You could have one, you just had to go to across state lines to get it done. Now, I'm not really spontaneous when it comes to actions that have permanent repercussions. Seriously, it took me years to decide to get a perm (still have only had two) and color my hair... those are reversible and relatively temporary. I did get divorced, but it was with much literal gnashing of teeth and pulling of hair... I went down with a fight, in as many words. All that to say, the concept of having a tattoo wasn't something that was at the forefront of my mind for quite some time.

One day, however, Jameson's friend Laith's mom showed me her tattoo she had gotten the weekend before when she was on a trip to Texas. It was a little turtle, altho I can't remember where it was in the ten years since I saw it last. It wasn't a cartoony kind of turtle, but one that paid homage to her South American roots. I didn't covet that tattoo, but I understood it. For the first time, I gave some real consideration to having a tattoo myself. My thoughts, however, were not terribly serious given the complexity of getting a tattoo. At the time, I was a single mom to four boys ages newborn to six... that doesn't afford one much of an opportunity to cross state lines and get inked. ( I know, I know - I was surprised by that too!)

Time passed, a marriage was patched back up, a pregnancy was discovered (hellooooo Maddie!) and a move was made to a new state, Ohio. Here in the land of lawful tattoo parlors, the act of getting a tattoo became less of a hypothetical situation and more of a realistic possibility. I didn't make plans for it, but it was always in the back of my mind. My answer to the "Do you have any tattoos?" question turned from "No, I don't" to "No, I don't, but I can definitely see myself getting one."

More time passed, a baby was born, a marriage was ending, and I found myself a single parent to five children ages 1 year to 8 years of age and with even less time and fewer resources to indulge in something like a tattoo. In that same time, however, I entered a time of self discovery and examination, and I realized I definitely wanted one. For me. I spent some time looking at designs and coming up with something that I thought I could live with the rest of my life, and found a cute Celtic knot. I wanted it to be about the size of a quarter and took it into a tattoo artist for an opinion. In his opinion, I wouldn't get what I was looking for with that size and design, since the lines would bleed together. I had a mental shrug of the shoulders and moved on to other aspects of well, moving on. The urge to get tattooed didn't really go away, however.

I found "myself" as they say, as time passed and milestones were achieved and I became more independent as a woman and mother, and realized I really, really wanted one. It was, to me, a symbol of something.for.me. I have been a wife and mother and given all that requires for so very long, and I wanted to do this one thing for just me. The conversations about the haves and the have nots with tattoos found me squarely on the side of wishing I had one. I still searched for something I would love, something I would never regret and something I would never tire of seeing on a daily basis. I had yet to find the *just right* design, but I saw that as just another sign that it wasn't the right time.

Then came Groupon. This spring they featured a Groupon for Evolved, a well known and very established tattoo parlor here in Columbus. I bought my Groupon and got excited knowing that I was that much closer to fulfilling a desire I'd had for the last ten years. I went in with a friend who'd bought the same deal, and we consulted with one of the artists. She didn't have time for us that day, but I made an appointment for six weeks later, when she was going to be back in town. I walked out that day ink-free and a little bummed, but glad to have some more time to find exactly what I was looking for in a design.

Remember late starts or those days when you don't have to be at work until later than your normal starting time? You know how you fool yourself into thinking you have SO much extra time that you don't have to pay attention until you realize you have piddled away ALLL your extra time and you are now running extreeeeeemly late and you are flying around like a chicken with your head cut off? Yeah, that would be me the day before my appointment, desperately googling images to find the just right design for my tattoo. I walked in to my appointment with nary a picture nor design to hand to my artist to embed into my skin. Forever. Nadda. Nothing. Could not have been less prepared if I had tried. Seriously.

I scanned the notebooks of artwork examples trying to find something that I thought would work, and found next to nothing I liked for *me*. I met with Anna, my tattoo artist, and described what I was kind of picturing, even though, admittedly, I was terribly vague. I showed her a vine I liked, and a flower that was sort of what I was wanting and she said "OK, I'll be right back." She came out with a sketch that I LOVED. It was exactly what I wanted, even though I hadn't been able to verbalize it. I gave her my approval, she finished off some minor detailing, I got inked, and voila... Missy has a tattoo.

The day I got my tattoo was Cinco de Mayo, which some of you will understand the significance of for me... I've been so incredibly happy with it. It's my tattoo, for me, in a place where few will ever see it, but is accessible to whoever wants to. I love it. I haven't regretted it for one second, and am completely, utterly thrilled with it. That being said, not everyone has the same opinion of tattoos, and I understand that. For that very reason, the picture I posted of my tattoo wasn't visible to everyone, and I didn't have any status updates or anything about getting it. Not everyone "gets" getting tattoos, and I am fine with that. Why a blog about it, then? Ahhhh, good question little grasshopper.

This past week I met some of my boyfriend's family, including his sister. She has a visible tattoo, which started a conversation for us about them and resulted in me showing her mine. "What flower is that?" she asked, and I had to say I wasn't sure... I thought it was a hibiscus. It met with her approval then, and a couple days later she said she was thinking about getting a new tattoo and asked if I would be ok with her getting the same one I have. I told her I would be thrilled by that, and sent her a picture of it. I got this message from her today:

" Did you know your tattoo is a lotus flower?
I just looked it up and the meaning...they stand for people who have come through alot of yuck and are blooming...the lotus starts at the bottom of a pond in the mud and grows toward the sun and then blooms ..."

OK, like... wow. How appropriate is that for me? How amazing is it that the flower I have permanently decorating my person is the very embodiment and meaning of what I wanted it to represent? It could not have been more perfect if I had tried, and I am amazed. I have been in such a holding pattern for the last seven years with my ex, and have been relying on and waiting on God to get me through the garbage that I've been through and to the light at the end of the tunnel. I see this as one small (yet permanent, have I mentioned that?) example of God being in control of every little thing, even something like this. I hope none of you are offended that I would see God being in control of a tattoo... because my God is in control of everything from things you and I agree on AND things we don't. He knew what this would mean to me, and I believe He used it in the way He knew would speak to me best. My tattoo meant one thing to me initially, and now it means even more. Because of that, I share it with you.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

You Too

Thursday’s blog made me think about how we treat each other, and I wondered how well I practice what I preached to Maddie. I reflected on the fact that we live in a “me first” society...and wondered what it would be like to live in a “you too” society. I decided to make Friday my “You Too Friday.”

The morning routine of getting the kids off too school didn’t afford many opportunities to put others first in a way that was different that any other day... I’m pretty much invisible, with no agenda or life of my own, or wants or needs... until it’s time to leave the house and the kids want a ride. I absolutely, positively live in a non-voluntary You Too world until 8:20 when the last child is safely deposited at school.

As I continued with my morning, there were few opportunities to put others first since I didn’t have any interaction with other humans. There was one situation that I had been debating for a couple days... I wasn’t sure what to do, and had received advice that was the opposite of what I wanted to do. I used my You Too day as an opportunity to follow my heart rather than the advice I was given. I’m not sure how all that’s going to play out, so I’m sure it’s fodder for another blog. (Oooooh, look... her second blog and she’s already got a cliff hanger. How nervy.)

I ran a couple errands before going to work, and had my first stranger You Too moment when I let another woman walk into Subway before me. It wasn’t such a stretch for me to do something like that, but I was in a hurry to get to work... so I might not have done that on a regular day. She gave me a big smile and said “Thanks!” so I had that going for me. As I drove to work on the highway, I made a conscious decision to let people over when they needed it and was altogether considerate and didn’t even act like a woman.about.to.be.late.to.work. I was good.

I pulled into the parking lot and took the first (read: farthest away from the door) parking space, leaving the closer ones to the poor unfortunate souls who were even later than me. The whole “holding the door open for people and letting them go first” bit is tricky when you work for the state, turns out. You have to swipe your badge to get into the building and then swipe it with every door you go through, save the restroom. I gave myself a You Too pass and an A for effort.

On my way home, the You Too drive home was similar to the drive to work, and nothing noteworthy happened. And.... nothing really noteworthy happened at home. Or later. I made a concentrated effort to have a You Too day and all that happened was I was late to work. I came away from my You Too day with a couple lessons:

  • If you are going to have a You Too day, give yourself some wiggle room with regard to your schedule. It took time to let people first, to park farther away, etc... and I wouldn’t have been late to work had I planned a wee bit better.

  • My interpretation of a You Too moment and your interpretation just.might.be.different. When we were listening to a cover band last night, the lead singer kept asking for song requests. The guy sitting next to us, a stranger to me, would shout out “Bare Naked Ladies” and got no response. I offered the suggestion that he might tell them a song, rather than a band, so he said “Brian Wilson’s Song!” Unfortunately, the singer didn’t hear him, so at the break I went up and told her. I also let her know what we had just found out, that it was this couple’s 5th wedding anniversary. After the break, they got a shout out for their anniversary and the song they wanted to hear. Was that a You Too moment for me? Nope, that was Just Missy. However, it might have been a You Too moment for the couple, and that’s cool.

  • You can’t decide to have a You Too day, you have to have a You Too life and take advantage of the opportunities when they fall in your lap... they don’t come around as often as you think they do.

So that’s my You Too day. Not as interesting as I had hoped it would be, but definitely was worth trying. I’ll keep it up and maybe, hopefully someday I’ll have a stellar You Too day.

You too.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

I Love A Teachable Moment (Or The Blog That Started This Blog)

Yesterday I received an email from Maddie's teacher letting me know Maddie had been fragile, crying easily over little things. She wanted to let me know so I could chat with her and see what was going on. I sat down with Maddie last night and asked her to tell me what happened.

I told her about the email and asked what was wrong. At first she was talking about friends who had been mean to her and upset her, and that led in to a story about glue and how her teacher said she wasn't supposed to get the glue and she *tried* to tell her, etc. Since her story (no surprise) was a little different than her teacher's, I asked about the discrepancies - I had been told she was crying about mis-cut paper, not glue. As she told that part of the story, she started crying again. I probed and asked what she was really crying about, since the idea of her crying about glue or paper seemed completely improbable.

She said nothing else was going on, and I told her I've been going through a tough time, and it's kind of coloring everything else... things that wouldn't upset me right now are getting me really upset, etc. I asked if there was anything like that for her and she said no. I asked if maybe she was missing her dad after spring break, and she said no, she wasn't thinking about him at all. I had her tell the story again and asked why she cried then and now, as she told it. It came down to the fact that she thought her teacher was really mad at her, since she had raised her voice. I asked Maddie if she thought her teacher cared about her, and she shrugged her shoulders. Then I pointed out that if her teacher didn't care at all, she wouldn't have emailed me, and Maddie acknowledged it.

We started talking about the difference between an adult raising her voice to be heard vs raising it because she's angry, and Maddie was pretty sure that she had been angry. I asked Maddie to think about it from her teacher's perspective, and Maddie nodded. Then I asked the all important question, "Do you know what that means?" Maddie said she did not, in fact, understand the concept she had just said she understood.

Putting yourself in another person's shoes is SUCH an important concept. I have dealt with so, SO many people who steadfastly, stubbornly...selfishly... refuse to see things from another person's point of view. It's not an easy task, it requires compassion and a willingness to die to yourself. To put someone else's interest over your own is, in all honesty, tough. Not to get all John Lennon on you, but man... can you imagine a world where people did that? No more theft, no more lying, no more cheating spouses and broken hearts. It would be really, really amazing if more people could do that. No, it would be really, really amazing if more people WOULD do that. We can all do it, it just takes practice. This brings me back to Maddie, and my realization that this is one of those life lessons that I really wanted to get through to her.

As we sat face to face on my bed, I talked about perspective. I told her that I can't see what she could see right then, but if I imagined what it was like to be sitting where she was, I had an idea of what she was seeing. I told her, "I bet from where you are sitting you see my pillows on my bed, my wall hanging behind my head and the curtains on the window... am I right?" She said I was (yay me! ; ) LOL) and then I asked her to tell me what I was seeing. She said "You see me (awesome)... the picture on the wall... the...dresser..." and I stopped her. I told her she was exactly right and she didn't have to see *everything* I was seeing, but the fact that she was seeing some of it was good. I told her that when she is dealing with situations with people, she can do that - put herself in their place and see things the way THEY do. It was then that we tossed around what it must be like to deal with a bunch of second graders who are loud, have to be told things multiple times, and all have a reason why they're using the glue when they're not supposed to that the teacher has neither the time nor the inclination to hear.

Maddie and I decided that it was altogether possible that her teacher was not yelling out of anger, she was yelling out of necessity... to be heard, to be obeyed and maybe, possibly a teeny bit out of frustration. Lord help the teachers, who do every day what so many will not. All that to say, I think Maddie got it. I hope Maddie got it. I am so happy to have had the opportunity to teach my daughter something that will make a positive impact on the world as a whole and her small community of her class. I hope I can remember to have this same attitude when I'm driving to work in a bit... because I did NOT show compassion to the man who cut me off yesterday. Ahhhh, I hate it when my lessons come full circle to slap me in the face.

Happy Thursday, everyone.