I’m pretty hard on myself. Anybody who’s gotten even a little bit close to me knows this fact, and understands it about me. It isn’t always easy to deal with; sometimes I project these emotions on to others and being hard on myself translates into being hard on everyone around me. But mostly, I’m just hard on myself.
Because of this, it can be difficult for me to accurately determine the level of severity of my worst qualities. Just like everyone else, I make bad choices.
Last night I had the incredible opportunity to attend Natalie Maines’ very first solo show. Having been a fan of the Dixie Chicks for years and calling the band one of my top five all-time favorites, I was ecstatic to go and check out this new venture. And it was a sight to behold. Maines has very clearly shed the chains of country music and dipped – no, dunked – her way into a fabulous little rocker-chick genre. She belted out beautiful words of Patty Griffin and Jeff Buckley, alongside Ben Harper – a soulful singer in his very own right, to understate it – and each song sent chills up my spine. I stood there, a mere inches away from this amazing woman, thinking about how I couldn’t wait to just immerse myself into this album and obsessively listen to it over and over again.
But while this experience was one I’ll never forget, it comes with a quiet but definite dark shadow.
For much of the ride from Anaheim to West Hollywood and during the half hour we waited for the show to begin, I fought a panic attack. During the show, in between moments of awe were moments of what felt like pure insanity. How could you want to flee from this so badly? I questioned myself. Stop being a pussy and just deal with this! I screamed. My body shook with discomfort. My heart beat a million miles per hour and sweat danced an ugly, frizz-inducing dance with my hairline. At times I would calm, but noticing the calm sent me nervously back into panic mode.
At the end of the only hour-long show, I breathed a sigh of relief. As many times as I wanted to run for the door, I didn’t. (Possibly, it’s that I couldn’t; the crowd had all but blocked me in after a couple of songs, which was part of what made me so anxious.) Still, I survived. Because, really, what’s not to survive?
There’s never a convenient time for a panic attack, anxiety or even just general nervousness. Still, it always seems to come at the very most inopportune times; I often find myself peering into other peoples’ eyes, other peoples’ spaces, wondering how they could be so normal while I am feeling so … not normal. But I survive. Every time. And the more I do, the easier surviving the next time becomes. So at least there’s that.
I seriously didn’t think he’d go through with it.
I imagined my often shy child melting into tears, refusing to join his classmates on stage, missing out on the performance for which he’d been practicing for weeks. I mean, hell, the kid threw a massive crying fit at Thanksgiving when family members began showing up at our very own house, all because his bashful mood turned sour. So I really don’t think my fears were unfounded. And as much as I wanted to see him perform and have a great time, I could barely breathe through the combination of my nervousness and excitement.
But you know what? He did it. He did it, and he genuinely seemed to love it.
There are a number of songs that become obsessions for me. I find one that speaks to me — whether it’s the song’s lyrics or slow strums or fast beats — and I just can’t get enough of it. I listen to it over and over again, hypnotized by its rhythm. “One more time,” I mutter as I replay it for the umpteenth time, like a junkie unable to come down from the high of a 3-minute other-world.
Inevitably, as you may have guessed, I get sick of the song. Out of nowhere, I just can’t listen to it the same way I used to. But even though I know this to be the chain of events of my most treasured melodies, I wouldn’t trade the process for any other. And eventually, I do come back around — I am a fickle thing, aren’t I? — and can again give listen to the song (though they rarely return to the level of obsession at which they once were treasured).
For his entire life, my son has been told how he looks so much like his father. Especially when he was an infant, those words were all I ever heard. To be quite honest, it stung a little. Why couldn’t someone say he looked like his mom? After all, I’m the one who grew the child in my big ol’ belly.
Well now I’ve gotten my wish, because as Sam entered preschool, it became more and more obvious how he has so many of my features. I’ve been on the hunt lately for more pictures of me as a kindergartner and this one definitely caught my eye. I showed it to Sam and asked him to try to smile like I’m smiling in the photo. This is his best shot.
And for the record, he’s wayyyy cuter than his mama.