Wednesday, July 13, 2011

You Are So Beautiful. To Me.

I have recently become obsessed with the mandolin. Some of you may know this if you follow my tweets and status updates. Some of you may already be alarmed.

It's true, some folks take obsession lightly, but as with most things in my life, I take it to Defcon level. It has to be addressed immediately. My mind fixates on it and not only do I have to have it/do it/be it/buy it/see it, I have to be the best at it and/or it has to be the best. It may have something to do with my unofficial OCD-lite diagnosis. Whatever the case, I choose to embrace it rather than medicate it.

So I began researching mandolins. I listened to mandolin music. I dreamt of mandolin music. I heard mandolins sweetly playing in my head when I awoke each morning. I talked about mandolins. My husband would come up behind me on the computer and catch me looking at mandolins online.

"Be honest with me," he finally said. "How many hours today have you spent looking at mandolins?"

I felt trapped.

"Do you mean looking at mandolins to purchase or do you mean listening to mandolin music?Or are you referring to watching mandolin players on YouTube or researching mandolins in general? Because they are all totally different activities."

He stared at me.

I stared back.

"I mean total time spent involved with mandolins in any manner whatsoever," he said.

I pursed my lips. I looked up towards the ceiling and counted on my fingers. I hemmed and hawed. I looked away for a while and then looked back at him, hoping he'd lost interest and had wandered off. But he had not.

"Four hours?" I said.

We stared at each other for a while more and then he finally laughed.

"How did this happen?" he said, as though it were preposterous.

"How can it not happen," I intoned and nodded my head sagaciously at him. In times of trouble, I like to get all zen on people to confuse them.

He just shook his head and went to find his iPad.

That's love, people.

I will remind the jury, however, that I was there for him during his great shoe obsession of '07 so he owes me. I think it's a little more disturbing to catch your man surfing the Alden website late at night, okay?

Or not.


The point is, we both married well.

Back to the mandolin. It's not as though this obsession with mandolins is sudden, per se. I played both violin and guitar so it's not like I'm switching from winds or anything crazy like that. Add to that the historical significance of my very birth name. As soon as my mother named me "Amanda Lynn" my father started teasing her about naming me after an instrument. I've been "Mandalyn" or "Mando" ever since. In fact, I never realized they called mandolins "mando" until my recent internet obsession, er, research. See, it's almost kismet.

I've also been listening to more bluegrassy type of music lately. I've always loved the blues but anything remotely country was a turnoff. But with bands like The Avett Brothers, even city slickers like me can get down with a fiddle and a banjo. Or even better, a banjolin!

Other performers like Sarah Jarosz and Mandolin Orange are also making the mandolin a more popular bluegrass/folk/pop instrument. And our very own Jack White of Detroit's hometown band, The White Stripes, plays mando too.

So see? It's totally cool, I swear.

I finally went on a 90-minute trek to buy my first mandolin yesterday. I'd had my first lesson this past Saturday and knew my love was real as soon as I held the instrument and strummed it. My instructor sent me off to Elderly Instruments in Lansing, Michigan to find the right instrument.

I brought it home and proceeded to spend an hour on it. I spent another half hour on it after the kids went to bed. I'm not going to lie, today my fingers hurt as I type this.

I think I'll name her Lucy.

I can't quite explain why I love the mandolin like I do. I was never so excited to buy or play an instrument in my life. I liked the guitar. I tolerated the violin. But I never loved them the way I love this.

But then again, love was never rational, was it?


  1. Embrace your new passion. Too many people say "I've always wanted to..." whatever, but they don't act on it. It's great that you are doing this.

  2. @Blissed Out: I figure I've got another 30 to 40 years on this planet at least, so why not learn a new skill?

    @Whiskey: Thank you!

  3. Hey, be as obsessed as you want, dudette, it's better than mainlining smack, for God's sake.:) I'd love to learn the mandolin. I play guitar and ukulele but so far I've not gotten my greasy paws on a mandolin. One day though. Oh yes. It will be mine...

  4. "It's not like I'm switching from winds or anything crazy like that".

    Good to see you're keeping it all withing reason. ;)

    Lucy the mandolin. Perfect.

  5. How cool! Mandolin always makes me think of Rod Stewart. Old Rod that is. I love Rod so this is a good association. your mandolin is gorgeous!

  6. p.s. please video yourself playing a song soon!

  7. I laughed out loud at, "Back to the mandolin." Have you been saying that a lot?

    I think you know I saw Avett Brothers at Red Rocks Saturday night. They were simulcasting live to Charlotte Motor Speedway. What does it mean to like a band that is so popular with the rednecks?

  8. @The Vegetable Killeh: Crap, we could form a pretty sweet string duet.

    @Vapid Vixen: I don't even like the sound of playing a "Wind" instrument. Sounds like you need an antacid.

    @Sherri: Better than Bruce Hornsby!

    @Wow: It's best not to think about it.

  9. I used to know a family of 7 kids who had a bluegrass band. Whenever I went to see them play, the mandolin was always my favorite instrument to listen to. You have great taste - I hope you'll post some videos of yourself playing!

  10. Well, if I wasn't borderline OCD on blogging, I'd be all superior and feeling sorry for you, and stuff.

    How do you feel about Bill Monroe? Chris Thile from Nickel Creek?

  11. @Mel Heth: That made me laugh for some reason. There's at least four of us currently living in this house, with a few more who stop in for visits. I'm thinking we could do the same. ;-)

    @Susan in the Boondocks: I'll have to check them out!

  12. I am obsessed with the autoharp in the same way, have been for years! It's so funny reading this, because just last week I'd resolved to actually get one because I saw this:

    She's dancing and stuff while playing one! OMG I'm in love.

  13. A whole post about mandolins and nothing on David Grisman?

  14. Play it. Can't wait until the there is Mandolin hoaders episode. Something tells me this wont be your last...

  15. I'm pretty much tone deaf, I don't even think I could pick which sound was coming from a mandolin. Well, if there were other strings involved, I doubt I'm bad enough to confuse the Winds and Strings. (maybe)

  16. Ooooh, beautiful! I hope you'll play it for us!

    I've been obsessed with banjos ever since Mumford and Sons, so I can relate to your new obsession. Also? I'd follow Jack White anywhere.

    (And I've been to Elderly Instruments too! Woot!)

  17. @Twills: Get your harp and we'll form a band.

    @Sex Mahoney: I do have a version of he and Jerry Garcia performing "Amazing Grace" which I love.

    @NicePeace: Shhhhh. Don't encourage me.

    @Megan: When I was in elementary school, the kids who could play recorder were put in band, and the kinds who couldn't were put in orchestra.

    @ajm: I seriously considered banjo. It's not out of consideration once I master the mandolin. Or the manjolin!

  18. @Twills: Get your harp and we'll form a band.

    @Sex Mahoney: I do have a version of he and Jerry Garcia performing "Amazing Grace" which I love.

    @NicePeace: Shhhhh. Don't encourage me.

    @Megan: When I was in elementary school, the kids who could play recorder were put in band, and the kinds who couldn't were put in orchestra.

    @ajm: I seriously considered banjo. It's not out of consideration once I master the mandolin. Or the manjolin!

  19. You guys should totally start a family band! And buy a van with a custom paint job. I'm certain you'd get a tv show out of it.

    After I reread my comment, I realized it sort of sounds like I grew up in West Virginia. Or Fresno. ;)

  20. @Mel Heth: My husband is going to see that Fresno comment.


  21. sexy!! doubt...for me it is the UKE, but ukelele's are only sexy to hawaii surfer dudes I believe.

  22. I used to play the mandolin and 5-string banjo in college. I haven't touched either for decades. The other day I was in the music store looking at banjos... wondering if I should take the plunge and try to re-learn what I have forgotten.

    The guitar never interested me, too many people play it. I picked the banjo because it was different. Damn, I really should do something with that thing.

  23. If you love playing , you will get better and better naturally. The brain likes music.

  24. Hi there, Mandy. Looks like you're fixin' to have yourself a time!

    Since no one else suggested it, I reckon it falls to me to give you your new name: Mandy-Lynn.

    You don't have to tell me how much you like it, darlin'. I can see you a-pickin' and a-grinnin' from here.

    : )

  25. Thank Christ I'm not the only one. Not the obsession with the mandolin but obsession in general. And the love of the Avett Brothers. So good.

    I love that you point out that you both married well, too. Laughed out loud. Then made a silent wish for the same. I need someone who will look at me, then go find his iPad.

  26. You are officially hard core. Rad.

  27. hi mandy fish. i like you. and your mandolin. and now i'm off to google them...

  28. @Freddy: It works for Jack Johnson.

    @Robert: It's never too late!

    @The Last Santa: I agree.

    @La Piazzo: Well, my father suggested it, of sorts.

    @Janice: I don't think I've ever heard mandolins and "hard core" in the same sentence before.

    @julocha: I'm sure you'll find mandolin cafe.