Monday, December 31, 2012

What Was 12 For?

Hmm. "what Was 12 For" doesn't exactly have a nice ring to it. It doesn't fit with the meter of "What was 05 For". (What was oh five for?) I like to listen to this song and ask myself if the things that happened in my year were really all that extraordinary...... because yes, yes they were.

Before this year, I had really never traveled more than driving with my family to the nearest big city, either Chicago or St. Louis, or a couple times to see my sister-in-law in Branson. Before this year, I was pretty introverted and would never have considered actually meeting someone I had only met online. Before this year, I would have been hesitant to ask my husband to take care of my grandma for more than a day or so. (She has Alzheimer's, lives with us, and requires a lot of help.) Before this year, I would not have been able to afford to take off to Washington DC, or L.A. or London.

Many things were the same this year. I actually still am really introverted, but I took a risk and met some of the most amazing new friends. I'm still pretty broke and my family of four drivers share two shitty beaters. But luckily, I had two well-paying gigs at the end of '11 and the beginning of '12 which cushioned the blow a bit (and I had some student loan money to spend on these educational expenses, since I also started grad school).  I had a good year with Grandma (no major illness, surgeries, or setbacks of any kind). I learned my husband is an angel. Him caring for Gram and being supportive of me to do these things I want for myself has been such a joy.

I took three exciting trips and traveled in 2012! I went to The Reason Rally in Washington DC. I went to the filming of the finale of "Californication" in L.A. (What? I didn't write a blog post about that?)  I went to see "Jesus Christ Superstar" and "Matilda" in England!!! Part of me has occasionally started to question whether I "deserve" to do this. I think some members of my family judge me for reasons I'm unsure of, but not wanting to ask. At the end of the year though, you know what? I DO deserve this. (And if I don't, then really that is just between me and my immediate family and no one  else's business.) I have spent my whole adult life raising children. I've not been perfect, but I have been dedicated to doing my best to raise boys with compassion, creativity, and critical minds. The past five years I have spent daily caring for Grandma, making her meals, helping her bathe, washing her hair, taking her to exercise in the pool, driving her to appointments, answering the same questions hundreds of times over with a cheerful tone, dealing with stress and sadness beyond description.

It's really not a matter of "deserving" a break or "deserving" fun. I don't like the implications there that people can "earn" happiness or that some are entitled to blessings and some are not. It doesn't have anything to do with deserving this amazing year, but I will say I am grateful and glad that I chose to do these amazing things. I made 2012 amazing for myself and I have no regrets. I'll close my eyes and drink champagne and reminisce.

"A year is like an elephant. You're not allowed to take one home." If I could take one home, this one would be it.

Monday, December 24, 2012

New versions of "old" songs, new versions of old drama

This Christmas season is much like the last. I wrote a post last year about "White Wine in the Sun" and missing my mom. This year, there is a beautiful new studio version of  "White Wine in the Sun". The proceeds from December go to the National Autistic Society of the UK. It can be purchased from iTunes or Amazon US or Amazon UK.  It sounds similar to this version, starting out with Tim and guitar and adding more vocals, piano, and even brass. It is amazingly moving.

Also new on the YouTube recently is Tim performing "Woody Allen Jesus" live at the Coronet. This was filmed professionally for an upcoming documentary. (Yay!)

Last December I wrote about hoping that the year ahead might bring acceptance from my mom. "White Wine in the Sun" talks about knowing at twenty-one or thirty-one that your family will be there for you, and I hoped that by forty-one I might get that privilege. I will turn forty-one in a few weeks.  I have had an A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. year, perhaps the best year of my life filled with joy and adventures, laughter, music, new friends and old friends. Yet I awoke this Christmas eve in tears, missing my mom. That pretty much sums up my whole family conflict. I can deal with the step dad's rejection and hostility and disappointment over my atheism, but it impacts my relationship with my mom. I miss my mom.

This year may start a new version of that dynamic though. My mom is coming over for Christmas for a short while without the step dad. That is what happened on Thanksgiving, and it worked out quite nicely from my perspective. Tomorrow, on Christmas, the step dad won't be feeling well and he won't be able to come over and my mom will come without him. I can predict the future like that because the rest of the family already knows he's not coming and knows the real reason (he won't celebrate a Christian holiday in an atheist house). They have discussed with my mom what time she will be here so they can get a five-generation photo  with the newest addition of our family. (It will be a lovely photo, but I wonder why we celebrate short generations and a pattern of teenage births.) My mom will tell me the step dad isn't well, and she can't stay long because she needs to get home and tend to him. But at least she will come and see her mom, and her new great grandson, and even me, and we will smile and I will drink a lot of wine and hope for a better next year. Her coming without him is a step in the right direction.

In other news about beautiful music, Ethan played "O Holy Night" at church yesterday. Taped from a bad angle, but it was pretty good.