Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Something fantastical and musical

For the first time in months I took my fiddle, Lily, out to practice. I knew it wasn't going to be for more than 15 minutes, but I was going to practice.  I won't go into why I haven't been able to practice, lets just say Life can be a Bitch, but tonight I was going to re-embrace practicing and making music.

As soon as I lifted the case to my lap my daughter smiled a huge grin an said "Play Violin!"  She went on saying, "Help! Help bow! Play Violin!" For those who don't know, DB is 21 months old.  Over the past 4 months she's sat on my lap and "helped" me bow a few times, but tonight it really was something fantastical.

I played "A Bunch of Keys" and she was furious with me for not sitting down so she could help me.  I started the Eklundapolska, and she began crying. "Me You!Me You! Help Violin!"  I sat down at the end of the piece and she clambered into my lap.

She took my bow in her and and started to play on the strings while I put my fingers down for a D major scale.  I said,"Flat hair, honey. Remember to keep the hair on the bow flat" and she corrected her bowing. I moved her hand from a more fiddler bow hand (choking up on the stick) to the grip and she grasped it easily. We played for 15 minutes easy, and the only reason we stopped was because I realized the time was way past her normal bedtime.  She was not happy with me.  I promised her we'd practice again tomorrow.

Music has always been my lifeblood. Becoming a mother changed that, as my priorities changed.  DB is entranced by music. Mind you, she's heard it all her life, even before she was born.  She hears Celtic music and says "Mama Music", even if I'm not the one playing.  I have to wonder if music will be as intrinsic to her life as it is to mine. What I know, after tonight's experiment, is that I'll be able to incorporate practicing into my life again, and that I'll have help. This is truly something fantastical!

Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle all the way

Christmas is an odd time of the year if you're not a Christian. Let me say right here, right now, that I am not knocking Christmas. I just want to be crystal clear about that.  I think the idea of  Joy and Peace and Love are wonderful. Giving unto others, being kind to your neighbors and strangers, and everything else that the Christmas Spirit can embody. No, what I'm talking about is seeing the majority of your world celebrate a holiday that you're not truly a part of.  There's a disconnect that not a lot of people talk about, though I know I can't be the only one to feel this way.

I didn't grow up celebrating Christmas. Being Jewish, this makes a lot of sense.  The allure of Christmas always grabbed at me.  My friends in elementary school would talk about decorating trees, making cookies, and visiting with Santa.  I didn't get Santa.  He was fake, everyone had to know that. I knew for a fact he was fake, because my grandfather, who did not live in the North Pole and who knew diddlysquat about reindeer, dressed up as Santa for some events at Briarcliffe College where my grandmother worked and taught. Lets forget about Santa. Lets talk about the Elves. I can get behind the Elves. Look at history with tales of Brownies, Cobbs, Faery Forts, Jenny Greenteeth, Faeries, Pixies, Dwarves, Dryads and more. How many faery tales are there? How many stories about Elves and Pixies and any of the countless Fey?  Seriously, my grandfather wasn't dressing up as Oberon, ya know?  My friends believed in the jolly fat man, but try to have one serious conversation about the Fey and get you get labeled a nerd for life. Ah, well, you pick your battles, right?  So, back to Christmas.

I never understood what Jesus had to do with Santa, presents, or the holiday decorations that spewed across the neighborhood after Thanksgiving.  I also had no clue what Jesus had to do with trees, cookies and reindeer.  My friends couldn't explain it, and my family didn't talk about it.  The combination of Sacred and Secular always confused me. Again, I am not knocking Christmas, Jesus or Santa.

What I loved about Christmas, being an outsider, were the decorations and the music. I loved the carols. I loved the lights in their garish cacophony. Most of all, I loved the trees. Christmas trees were amazing. Real trees, in your home, decorated with lights, sparkles and so many ornaments. The trees got me every year.  I remember in elementary school when I asked my mom if we could have a tree.  The answer was a resounding No.  Jews didn't have trees.  Trees were for Christmas.  There was no other discussion. It was fact, laid out, end of story. I have to say, I felt conned, but I let it go.  Several years later my family was invited to Christmas dinner with friend's of my parents.  Their family emigrated from Scandinavia, and celebrated the holiday with more European traditions. The food was different than the more American/traditional Christmas dinners my friends told me about, and there were amazing decorations.  Everything was carved out of wood, and there were candles everywhere. Their tree, however, stopped me cold.

The tree was huge, and by huge I mean it was over 7 feet tall.  It was decked out with lights, ornaments, and strings of cranberries. There was a glass finial on the top of the tree, and on almost every branch tip there was a small candle.  The ornaments and lights were mostly white, silver, or cream.  The string of cranberries popped against the light colours.  It was simply breathtaking.  After dinner our host turned the lights off in the room, and then he and his wife began to light the candles on the tree.  They may have sung Silent Night while lighting the candles, but I don't recall that as clearly.  Once they were done, the candles were the only light in the room, and it was magical.  It didn't matter that my family didn't celebrate Christmas, for that moment, in the warm glow of the candles, everyone in that room was connected.  It was breathtaking. Looking back, I don't think I've ever felt that kind of connection again.

Over the years holidays, not just Christmas, have become more commercial.  In college, away from my parents' prying eyes, I celebrated Christmas with friends and had my own "Chanukah bush".  After college, when I had a place of my own I would put up lights (indoor and out) and sometimes have a small tree.  By then I knew I didn't have a Christmas tree, but a Yule tree.  Pagan roots, pagan holiday, and I mixed it with the cultural trappings of the Jewish holiday.  It felt comfortable and right to me, but it wasn't Christmas.  It certainly wasn't that feeling of belonging that I'd felt that Christmas so long ago.

Throughout college and beyond I dated and married non-Jewish men.  I celebrated Christmas with their families, and incorporated their festivities with mine.  I was now celebrating Chanukah, Yule and Christmas.  Finally, I was celebrating Christmas in a cultural way that made me feel like I  was part of it. I'd made the cut! I was Celebrating Christmas.

There was some grand Christmases, and some crappy ones.  There were years with gifts, years without gifts. There were even years without trees, but I still celebrated Christmas with loved ones.  It was nice. I developed my own Christmas traditions.  Like most Jews, I enjoyed Chinese food for Christmas dinner, and I would go to the movies. There were compromises along the way.  More traditional Christmas dinners with lovers and friends, so the Chinese food & movie would move to Christmas eve.  It all worked somehow. 2010, however, was different.

I didn't have a significant other to celebrate Chanukah or Yule with. The holidays seemed empty, especially Christmas.  I read blogs, facebook posts and tweets from my friends talking about the joy of the season, and how they were spending the holidays with their loved ones, and I was back in elementary school again.  Don't get me wrong, friends invited me to celebrate with them, but it didn't feel right.  I lit the Channukah candles with my daughter every night, and it was sweet. It was calm, there wasn't a big fuss, and the night moved on.  I celebrated Yule with my daughter, and it was the same thing. It was sweet, calm, and not a big fuss.  Both holidays felt comfortable and inviting.  Christmas, however, was uncomfortable.

I made a baked ziti for Christmas Eve dinner. Christmas day we had Chinese food for lunch and we watched movies. Meanwhile my friends online were posting their Christmas stories, tweeting their loot, and I felt like a voyeur.  I was out of the loop again for Christmas.  Christmas 2010 was lonely. It was an uncomfortable quiet.  It was a day where I felt I didn't belong.  Christmas wasn't special for me, it was just a day.

I propose this.

I propose that Christmas isn't about gifts, food and insane holiday decorations. It isn't about carols or drunk uncles. Christmas is about surrounding yourself with people you care about, and enjoying their company.  It doesn't matter if you celebrate Christmas as a sacred or secular holiday, it's the people who matter. I think I want to celebrate Christmas in 2011.  I can't tell you where I'll be, if there will be a tree, or carols playing, but I can tell you that it will be more than just a day for me. I don't want to be disconnected.  I want to be part of the Peace, Joy and Love that can embody the holiday season.  Maybe, by being a part of it all, I can reach out to others who are on the outside and we can all celebrate together. Wouldn't that be spectacular?

What's it really about

This blog doesn't really have a focus.  I have a personal blog on LiveJournal as well as a NeidFyre blog, an unused Myspace account, my website NeidFyre.com, and a facebook account. I twitter constantly, and am fond of FourSquare.  Facebook really isn't the place for blogging. My LiveJournal blog is private. Myspace is not for me. I don't really think blogging in 140 characters or less counts as blogging, and FourSquare is all about Location Location Location. That leaves me here, at Fiddlemama.

Fiddlemama seems to be my catch-all place.  Originally this was where I was going to post my letters and notes to my daughter.  I write my daughter a letter or note every day, you see.  It's more for me than it is for her, but it's something I really wanted to do.  It didn't feel right doing it online, so I have a paper journal for that. That leaves me with the dilemma again of this blog not having a focus.

I've posted about my struggles with ADD here. I've posted about teaching here. I've posted about gigs here. I've posted my poetry here. It still doesn't feel like home, though.  I feel like a guest in my own space, and that's just bloody uncomfortable.

Perhaps the blog doesn't need a focus, and I need to accept it for what it is. I'm not pithy or wise. I am not the most eloquent writer, and my grammar often sucks eggs.  Thank the Gods there's a spell check here, because spelling is not my strongest suit.  This blog isn't here to impress people, it's here for me.  Don't get me wrong, I'd like to impress people.  I'd like to entertain people. I'd like it if this blog started getting hit upon hit, and people did think I was pithy and wise. Of course, none of that will happen if I ignore this space or if I only write once or twice a month. It's hard to talk the talk if I'm not willing to actually do the necessary work.

What do I mean, "do the necessary work"? It means writing. It means making music. It means actually living in the world instead of wandering with insecure purpose. I'm so tired of feeling insecure with my dreams and desires. Who does it serve to live like that? Not my daughter, and certainly not me.

I don't want broken promises, or empty solutions. I'd like some more substance with my subsistence.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Thoughts on Solstice Eve

Sitting at my desk, the smell of cinnamon raisin bread wafting out to me from my kitchen. I have a few hand-fulls of yogurt covered raisins in a dish as well as a cup of watered down oj next to me.  I'm ready to sleep, and at the same time I'm wired. There's a scene at the end of Highlander (the first and best one) where Connor says "I know Everything, I Am Everything".  I don't feel like that. Not exactly.

Sticking with the Highlander reference, I always thought the Quickening was more than just a money shot.  I always thought it was the Calm in the Storm.  Everything is moving around you, fast and furious, and in that insanity of chaos the mind is calm.  The mind is Focused.  The mind sees clearly, and certain things/thoughts/ideas crystallize.  Clearly I am not an Immortal (first off in the movies all the  Immortals are men and second it's a movie), but I can relate to where Mr. Widen was going with all of that.

2010 has been a whirlwind. Fuck that, it's been a chaotic flux.  For much of 2010 I couldn't see straight. There was too much, too overwhelming, to see much of anything. I have, however, been trying to tame the winds and I think I'm starting to see more clearly.  Tonight, especially, being in-between wired and spent, I feel like I can see.

Everyone A lot of folks have blogged about the Eclipse. I think it's awesome. I'd use a different word to describe it, but I am flitting between dragged out tired & wired, so awesome will have to do. I think tonight is a night for clarity.  I think tonight is a time to really see what's going on inside and outside of my brain.  I would love to say that I'm definitely going to stay awake to see the eclipse, but I know better.  My brain may be functioning, but my body is rebelling.  Still, I've spoken to the sky and put out some freshly made cinnamon raisin bread and cream.  You never know who's moving about on a night like tonight.

How does all of this tie together? Well, for the few of you reading, let me tell you.  Clarity.  Being able to see past the emotional baggage I keep piled around me like a wall.  That's the problem with walls, you know.  Sure, you can block things out like over-due bills and the incoming zombie hoards, but if there's no way for things to get in, then there's no way for things to get out.  Creativity, love, music, laughter, friendships.... all of that stagnates if it has no room to move.  While much of the chaotic flux around my life has been out of my control, I have to wonder how much I added to it by hiding behind my walls; hiding in the darkness.  I'm tired of being in darkness.  I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm looking forward to the return of the Sun.  I'm looking forward to celebrating the New Year, and saying goodbye to the old.  I'm looking forward to more clarity and less chaos.

Happy Yule


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