Monday, August 22, 2011

Cleaning up...

This year, Patrick and I saved up and finally got some work done on the outside of our house. It's funny, we lived in our dumpy little house for 11 years without doing anything to it, but after having the baby, it seems that keeping our place clean, neat, and looking good is more important to us now.
We started off with new windows, and that made a huge difference. Our old vinyl windows were ugly, didn't lock (!), and weren't that great at keeping the outside noises or dust at bay. I really noticed this during the 3 a.m. feedings with Exton, when my neighbor and his Harley were roaring up and down the street. Since our plan is to one day remodel our house (possibly when the baby turns 5), and that remodel, as far as we can tell now, would take place at the back of our house, we went with replacement windows in the back, and new windows in the front.

After the windows were finished, we got the place restuccoed. My understanding of the terminology is sketchy, so don't ask me if we got a color coat only or if the stucco was actually redone. I have no idea what the difference is or if I've even just described two different processes. All I know is, it took us about two weeks to decide on the color. When we bought the house in 2000, it was grey. We painted it ourselves a boring, ugly beige color with white trim. Well, the white trim was already there, we just did the beige. We had what I liked to call "the ugliest house on the street." The new color is called "Southern Moss" (my brain always sings "southern moss" with a Neil Young accent), and it's a grayish green.

The stucco came out awesome, and combined with the new windows, my house suddenly looked about a thousand times better, even without the finishing touches (the trim). The painters wanted to wait a couple of weeks for the stucco to cure (or they needed time to fit us into their busy schedule) so we were stuck with raggedy trim for a bit longer than we wanted. When it came time for them to come finish, though, they were fast, efficient, and did a really good job. We chose white for the window and door trim and under the eaves, and a color I can't remember the name of (and I chose it!) for the fascia at the roof line. It's kind of a grayish brown that goes great with southern moss. We weren't sure about this design decision (most of the houses in our neighborhood have white up there) but we're so glad we did it. The house looks so neat and clean now.

Inspired by the clean lines, this weekend we decided to go through all the crap in the garage (Patrick has been known to tell the baby, "Some day son, this will all be yours"). It's not funny. Our garage was stuffed full of... junk. I found all sorts of stuff: audio equipment, computer parts, computer cables, my old Dell DJ, a really ugly Mikasa vase, all the handmade cards my friend Leigh sent me (some of which will be framed), random paperwork (my old box of files from before I got married, which included things like... my 1997 tax return, the receipt for the Yamaha flute I bought in 1991 for $600 [and sold in 1994 for $600], account information for my very closed checking accounts at Cal Fed and Security Pacific (very closed because those banks don't exist anymore!), insurance papers from when my dad was in a car accident in 1996, etc.) my band varsity letter, my award from the Marine Corps for "loyalty and excellence in performance" for being in the band (I would've preferred money or a scholarship but it was a cool award, presented in person by a full-on Marine), my High School diploma, my (very expired) passport, the DMV registration for Patrick's old car with a note on it from his dad, a postcard I sent to Patrick from New York while on a trip with my brother, my Crocker Bank teddy bear (Patrick made me keep it), and, oh, a whole bunch of things, most of which went into the trash after I handled them.

One thing that I decided to let go of was my acceptance letter, in 1997, to CalArts.
I didn't need to keep it, I knew it was okay to throw it away, but boy, tossing it felt... weird. I told Patrick I was going to do it, and he must not have been paying attention at first (he was doing all the really hard work of moving the large items and pulling down all the big plastic containers all this junk was shoved into) because he didn't really respond. Surprisingly, throwing it away made me really sad. I went into the garage where Patrick was wrangling a very long blue computer cable. He saw that I was crying a little, and I said, "Will you tell Ex that once upon a time his mommy was a good enough musician to have been accepted to CalArts?"

He said yes, and gave me a big hug, and then I was fine, and then we went back to work.

I mean, I don't know, it sounds a little dramatic, now, but it seemed like a big deal - and like throwing away that piece of paper was the right thing to do.

The funny thing is, I've always kind of wondered if EVERYBODY gets accepted to CalArts. I mean, I was pretty good, but my audition tape had just one good performance (a Bach sonata, I forget which one) and one crappy performance (Hindemith, which is surprising, because I love that piece and usually perform it well), and some other performance of a piece I don't even remember, and my in-person audition wasn't for the flute teacher (I met with Rachel Rudich for a pre-audition, and played for her "informally," but she wasn't there for my actual audition, for some reason), and I don't even remember what I played; maybe the Hindemith; the Bach was just too hard for a live performance, under pressure like that, back then.

I mean, I don't know, I've told people I was accepted to CalArts and most of the time they act like that's not a big deal, but since I didn't apply anywhere else, even not going there was a big deal to me.

Anyway, in related news...

I've been making up my mind about re-joining flute choir for the upcoming quarter, and I've decided that I'm not ready. My work day is too long; my commute is too far; Ex still feels too little and though he's sleeping mostly through the night, he does still wake up around 2 or 3 a.m., and sometimes I just can't go back to sleep (making me a zombie the next day). He's been hitting a lot of milestones lately and I don't want to miss any of that. I'm already away from him enough as it is.

A lot of people join flute choir with the same story: they haven't touched their flutes since high school or college, which is usually anywhere between 5 and 20 years. It's always fun to see those people improve and to watch them work hard and remember what it's like to play a million notes in a row or be (mostly) in tune with 12 other flutists. I've been out of high school for about 20 years, and I've never stopped playing for longer than a couple of weeks. I'll miss it, and I know they'll miss me, but I think staying home for another quarter is no big deal.

All this thinking about performing and playing made me have a weird dream last night (and made sleeping difficult) - I had a dream that City Garage decided to put on a musical, with a real orchestra, and I found out about it and that I hadn't been asked to be in it, and when I woke up from the dream at around 2 a.m., I felt as disappointed as I would have been if this had really happened. I know I'm giving something up - but I'm getting something too: time with my baby. That's more important to me right now.

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