Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Taking the Phone Off the Hook

A long, long time ago, I heard a song by Billy Joel that was never one of his hits, but one that deeply resonated with me - "Vienna" from The Stranger album. It's a song in which an older person is giving some hard-won advice to a younger person (maybe they're even the same person), and you just know that Youngster isn't listening, being in far too much a hurry to get going to Somewhere. And you also know that Oldster knows that Youngster isn't listening, but Oldster's going to try anyway.

I like it. A lot.

I've been away from the blog for longer than I really mean to - at first, it was "well, I'll write after "X" happens" and then I missed writing after "X," so I figured I might as well wait until "Y" happened, and so on and so on and now I find myself here. Lots has happened - FryDaddy and I celebrated our 5th anniversary to much loving and little fanfare; the semester finally ended (seriously - too many medical appointments and too much self-inflicted pressure on this one); Mother's Day and my mother's birthday; and also our slightly-delayed anniversary trip that we'd saved up for so FryDaddy and I could go hog-wild in a used bookstore. (Look, I don't judge your relationship, do I? And we revel in the printed page.)

Clearly, that's too much to try to cover here, so I won't. Suffice it to say that I'm working hard on not working hard. The silver lining to the last seven months has been discovering that I really need to ease up - that not everything's a forest fire in need of my immediate and undivided attention every second. And that it's okay to not get everything done. Yes, the house has "hot spots" that need some attention (you know "hot spots" - those places where stuff just gets dumped and never sorted through. I'd been doing really well about keeping those under control; now I need to start over), and that'll happen. I'm also ready to start pushing myself with jobbling again. But I'm also ready to spend some time reading for fun (how is it I never read Little Women? Well, I didn't and I'm fixing that now). I'm also conducting experiments in testing the best spot in the backyard for the hammock and watching the herb garden take root.

Yes, I've got the beginnings of a lovely garden thanks to generous friends and a willingness to work the business end of a shovel. Gardens take time, so even if everything takes hold (unlikely; I'm working in Carolina red clay here and my technique tends to be a bit - well, let's say enthusiasm wins out over skill most days), it'll be a year before you can really tell. That's okay - good things take time and I've had some hard-won lessons in the futility of rushing things. Speaking of which, I've got a keynote to write for a conference I'm thrilled to be invited to. The research is done (mostly) and I've finally reached that time where I'm itching to get words on paper. 

Plus, I've had three days away with my love where we had nothing to do at any particular time and slept so late that we missed housekeeping making up the room one day. We came home to pets who had missed us and a cozy house that takes care of those under her roof.

And our "long vacation" - our first one since our honeymoon - is coming up in a couple of weeks. There's some serious work to get done between here and there, but when we pull out of the driveway, I expect it to be with the "phone off the hook."

Yes, I've been to Vienna. But I know that there are other places that wait for me.

This is from Joel's performance in November 2014 at Constitution Hall in Washington, DC. He was honored at the 2014 recipient of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Music. The arrangement is a tad different from the album, and Joel's voice has changed a bit from the 1970s, but it works so very well.

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