So two days before the election, my husband John went with my son to a bass workshop with Victor Wooten and some other amazing bass players who were in town for a show. I’m doing NaNoWriMo, and basically didn’t have any brain power left to learn new things that day. But I needed, yes, needed a ukulele of my very own, because my step-son was hoarding his, and trying to dig through the room both boys share to find it, well, imagine two 16 year old boys sharing a very large room that nobody else is willing to clean, and you may understand. Plus I swear he kept hiding it on purpose.
I asked John to pick me up a “mostly cheap but not completely useless” ukulele, knowing his ability to pick instruments is just way better than me going in and pretending to know what I’m doing anyway. I’ve got memories of being in a knife shop with my ex-husband and the look he gave me that day as I tried to muddle my way through a purchase… ouch.
So John brought home the most gorgeous ukulele! It was a thousand times nicer than anything I’d ever buy myself. And I hugged it until it was time to go see Victor Wooten and friends’ utterly amazing show. Nothing like half a dozen of the best string players anywhere to make a girl and her ukulele extra humble, right? I spent the next two days working and thinking about my ukulele and also my novel, because I’m still doing this NaNo thing after all. Tuesday I waited 40 minutes in what passes for cold here in NC to vote. I didn’t mind a bit. After work I went home and learned a few chords on my ukulele in between writing the ramblings of a mentally unstable person down in novel form. Not my ramblings, my character’s, which you could argue is the same thing, but no. I think.
Anyway, I was hugging on the uke and watching the beginning of the returns coming in on various news channels, and also reading Twitter because I’m always doing that too, especially for big news. This political season helped get me utterly hooked; nothing will ever beat watching the debates Twitter-style. Amanda Palmer (AFP) asked people to tweet pictures of us with our I Voted stickers and she was retweeting some. Now, Amanda Palmer is part of what brought me and my uke together. The first song I’m really learning (we will not count Happy Birthday and Twinkle Twinkle, but the online Uke School is still awesome for beginners) is her song In My Mind. And I can honestly say I’m getting there. Well, I wrote a whole thing about this a while back called Bravery, cowardice, and Amanda Palmer.
So I sent this hastily snapped Android picture, which includes clues to my life (the dog and fireplace got cropped out). There’s the fuzzy purple socks, a beer or two, and a Smithsonian magazine I still haven’t read yet, along with the uke, and of course my sticker. And AFP retweeted it, yay! I got some very nice compliments on the uke, and requests for more pics, and I said I hope I can do it justice.
Thanks to age and therapy, I’m no longer ruled entirely by guilt, but something about all that excitement over the uke made me feel all responsible and lit up. I’ve been playing a lot this last week, and I’m getting, well, not half-bad anyway. Chord changes are so much easier than on a guitar, which I have failed to master, or even not suck at, for 15 years. I’m falling in love with this instrument, not because I think I can make great art with it (maybe I can someday), but because it makes art in music form something I can touch and taste and hug next to my body, and something I can belong to. I’m changing by playing it, and I’ve even played it in front of John, which is a breakthrough of sorts. I don’t feel like I’m broken all the time or anything, but this instrument is healing me anyway. And I’m just so damn grateful.