from All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg

“What if I start making art again? What if I just did that? That is the thing I love, that is the thing I miss most. For so long I have believed I could never catch up, but now I realize there’s nothing to catch up to, there’s only what I choose to make.” p 176

There was no real reason to want one. But Stargirl had one, Andrea was over the moon for her pink one and every time I listened to Amanda Palmer sing about her instrument basically saving the planet, I was equal parts inspired and weepy.

So on a whim I put “ukulele” at the bottom of my Christmas list, in teeny tiny print, so as almost not to be there.

But my husband, my dear sweet husband… He did some research and then surprised me by taking me out one morning on a secret errand. We ended up at the Strings store the next town over. One of the guys brought down each of the different sizes and played them so I could hear the difference. And instantly I loved him. He knew how to play, to make it sound like something. He wanted me to share his enthusiasm. I didn’t know how much I wanted that until I heard him strumming.

Now I have my very own, and it’s beautiful. I look up tutorials online. I’m practicing a few minutes every day and maybe, just maybe, I’m getting some finger dexterity and some finger independence. How have I lived this long without finger independence?

And it’s fun. I’m learning something new. I’m creating. I’m putting more music out into the world, as the chords reverberate around the house. The best thing about music, it doesn’t add to your computer space like writing or photos. The next best thing? While I’m playing, my brain seems to be puzzling out some of the scenes that were presenting problems in my writing.

I know this may seem trivial, twee or just plain goofy. But everyday I am looking at my computer, following the news and getting more and more depressed. I try not to get sucked in or be outraged every waking moment. But I have to work against those feelings. Disbelief is now my new normal.

Maybe it’s silly to pick up something so late in life. I played trumpet in school, a proud, nerdy member of our marching band. I can’t imagine my teen years without band practice and Friday night halftime shows. That’s one of the things I miss being a grown-up, those communities that seemed to grow up around your interests. When I was freshman I idolized those seniors in the band. To their credit they took me in and never made me feel less than what I was. Such is the power of music.

I don’t forsee any gigs in my future. I don’t even know if I would want anyone to hear me play. But for now those strings and finger exercises are just what I need. Sometimes I just reach out my hand and give the chords a strum. It’s like I’m making myself known through sound.

Creativity. Identity. Community. Solidarity.

What about you? What are you doing to take care of yourself? If you need something to take your mind off current events, here are a few links for you:

Quotes from Stargirl~

Andrea’s number 12~


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