Friday, July 29, 2011

BlogHer Block

In a dazzling twist of fate, the fact that I'm going to my first blogging conference next week has caused me to have a monumental case of writer's block.

I'm excited to attend BlogHer '11 in San Diego. I'm looking forward to meeting many of the bloggers I read and new bloggers I've come to know in the past few weeks leading up to the event.

But now I don't have a damn thing to say about any of it.

Part of it may be nerves. In addition to being excited about the conference, I'm also nervous about my introversion flaring up. My husband was also shy in his youth. As a young adult, he decided that he didn't want to be an introvert so he decided to "fling himself out of it." He pushes himself out of his shell and forces himself to approach people and talk to them.

I, too, have tried to fling myself out of my shyness. I'm often successful. But I also retreat into silence when encountering large groups of people. Perhaps my introversion is seeping into my writing (or lack thereof) now?

Perhaps I can fling myself out of it by writing this?

When my sister got married, she was forced to take pre-marital counseling by the church where she was getting married. She learned that she and her husband had a fundamental difference: she was an introvert, he an extrovert.

One of the primary ways to figure out whether you're an introvert or an extrovert is by examining how you feel after spending time around people. Are you invigorated and charged up after a party? Or are you exhausted and need to crawl into your cocoon?

I'm definitely more of a social caterpillar. But I'd like to be a butterfly.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Tomboys

Do not eff with the Franklin Mavericks.

I read a blog post the other day about how a mother lamented the fact that her daughter insisted on wearing boy clothes. She had gone so far as to attempt bribing her daughter to wear a dress for five dollars. That made me laugh.

The daughter said hell no.

The one and only time my mother insisted I wear a dress was for my aunt's wedding. I cried. As I recall, I had a somewhat similar stance and look as I do in that softball uniform. In fact, we left for the out-of-state wedding immediately following my softball game so I drove from Michigan to Georgia in it.

I think I even suggested to my mother that I could wear it to the wedding. She, being the cruel and heartless mother she was, refused. And thus I was forced to wear gender handcuffs in the form of a blue and white floral dress. Floral! I mean, talk about putting salt in the wound.

From what I can see in the childhood photos I have, I spent most of my time in cut-offs and a sassy bowl cut:

Here I am beating the family dog.

Moments before I reached my arms around his pony neck and strangled him.

Animal abuse jokes aside, I was a pretty butchy-looking little girl with a love for animals, trucker caps, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Dorothy Hamill. It's no wonder I never had a boyfriend. Then again, I probably shouldn't have modeled my fashion choices after my older brother:

We never met a plaid shirt we didn't like.

Though to be honest, I was probably a little more Mark Hamill than Dorothy Hammil:

Which one is the boy? Bowl cut on the left or bowl cut on the right?

That one was a trick question. I gave you two sandy-headed kids in bowl cuts. One is wearing a Pittsburgh Steelers shirt and the other is wearing plaid. It's basically an IQ test. You can provide your answer in the comments section and I will give you your Tomboy IQ. Then we will form our own little plaid Mensa society right here on Blogspot. Everyone will want to be a member.

I provide this photo evidence for you today as a public service. You can let your little girls dress like lesbians as children and it does not mean you are trying to turn them gay. You may still get grandchildren out of them, so calm down and let your little princess be a prince if she wants to.

Besides, gay children are the best children. They can either help you decorate or fix your car. In fact, if I could have ten children (and my husband would go along with it), I would. But only so I could be guaranteed at least one gay child. It's my way of helping humanity. We could definitely use a little more rainbow in this world.

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?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Camera That Loved Too Much

I was in a photo shoot today.

There were bright lights and a camera in my face. The flash kept flashing and the room full of people shouted, "The camera loves you!"

The director called out: "Strike your favorite dance pose" or "Pretend you're a mime trapped in a box" and "Flex your muscles!"

I won't lie. I loved it. I ate it up. I let go and went with the adrenaline rush. Everybody loved me in the hot glow of the lights. I was a superstar.

Then I walked out of the studio, into the cold dark hallway where I stood alone, wondering what the hell had just happened.

This could prove embarrassing.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

He's Never Leaving Home

This morning I had a conversation with my seven-year-old son.

"Mom, how long is college?"

"Four years," I replied.

"FOUR YEARS!" he said, eyes popping out.

"Yes, but you can come home on holidays."

"Valentine's Day?"

"Oh, well, no. I mean big holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas."

"I can't come home for Valentine's Day?" his eyes got bigger and more worried.

"Well sure you can come home for Valentine's Day if you want to, you can even come home every weekend if you want to..." I started to reply.

"Oh, good!"

"But I doubt you'll want to. You'll be a big college kid and you'll probably have parties and friends to hang out with on the weekends."

"What? No I won't!" he looked mortally wounded.

"Okay, okay. You can come home every weekend," I said, vowing to write this down so I can read it to him when he's eighteen.