This Is Still Who I Am

1 Year Ago

Donna Florack

June 27, 2020

I recorded myself playing and singing without YouTube or iTunes accompaniment. I don’t think I’ll give up my day job. I love love love everything about my bass – my voice, not so much.

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This is still who I am.  

I bought a cheap starter guitar kit from Amazon in April 2018 because my boss (and good friend) started taking guitar lessons. It made me think back to the lessons I myself had taken as a preteen back in the 1969-1970 timeframe. I wondered if I could still do it. 

I fiddled around with the guitar on my own, not making much progress, but I realized I liked playing it. I just needed some direction. In late September 2018, I started taking lessons from a guitar teacher. Guitar was fun, but it was still hard. I never enjoyed playing chords. I wanted to pick up a guitar and play the screaming guitar sounds I heard on my metal albums. I never got that far. I had to learn the basics first, and the basics didn’t interest me.

Three months after I started guitar in mid-December 2018, I bought a bass, and my world changed.  Bass 100% suits me. It was low key (pun intended) like I am.  It was easier to learn. There weren’t any fussy chords, and most bass lines (unless you’re Geddy Lee who started life as a guitar player) aren’t complicated. I like that. The simplicity of keeping the beat is soothing to me.

Most bass players stay in the background. Most bass players (again Geddy Lee is an aberration here) don’t sing. It’s difficult to play (and mentally count the beat) and sing at the same time. Bass doesn’t usually go with the melody. It’s playing its own thing and not playing along with the tune the singer is keeping.

At first I tried to do both – bass and guitar. It was very challenging. When I realized that bass was where my heart really was, I closed up my guitar cases for good and never looked back.

My goal was to learn the instrument and to play along with my favorite tunes. My aspirations (if any) were to maybe one day find some like-minded musicians close to my own age to jam with – maybe in a garage band type situation. I never wanted to or thought I would perform on a stage.

I took bass lessons for two and a half years. The first year I just played bass. Then one day my teacher decided the students would all select a Christmas (or holiday) song, and we’d all learn the music (and in some cases vocals), and then we’d go to an actual recording studio and record it live. It sounded interesting.

The song my friend and I picked to do together was Mele Kalikimaka by Bing Crosby.  It was quirky enough and different. It was fun. At least until you have to practice it over and over and over again. Once the holidays have passed, no one wants to hear Christmas music, much less work it (to death). My friend was going to sing and play her guitar. I was going to play bass.

One day at a co-lesson at my teacher’s house, my friend was having difficulty with the vocals. I stupidly sang a piece of the lyric, trying to be funny. It was suggested that I sing along with her as it would make it easier for her. Looking back now, I wish I hadn’t done that.

I don’t have a singer’s personality. I have NEVER wanted to stand at the front of any stage. I wanted to be in the background, playing my bass, if I was anywhere. I did a live performance with my teacher and other students in June 2019. That was fun. I wasn’t nervous, and I sat on a chair to the side of the singers, just playing my bass. I focused on what I was playing and didn’t even look at the people in the bar where we were playing.

June 2019

Mele Kalikimaka changed the focus of what I was doing. Suddenly my blissful one hour bass lesson turned into half vocal lessons and half bass. Sometimes the silly voice exercises and practice ate into my bass-playing time. I was no longer learning what I wanted to learn.

Covid further complicated things. Lessons went from in-person to via Zoom. It was harder to hear what the teacher was playing and difficult to see her fingers. She certainly couldn’t see mine and sometimes couldn’t hear me either. I know that because on some of the hard parts, I didn’t play bits and pieces, and she didn’t even know. Learning by Zoom stinks.

Covid also exacerbated my issues with anxiety. I became fearful of a lot of things. Leaving the house was hard most days so I didn’t. I have been working solely from home since March 2020.

As we finally start to emerge from the lockdown nightmare, a live performance on a local stage was scheduled for the week after the Fourth of July. I was rehearsing two Foo Fighters’ songs where I’d sing and play bass. I was also rehearsing playing bass on another student’s song. When it was far off, I was fine. As it got closer, I wasn’t.

It came to a head, and I stopped playing my bass. I didn’t touch it for 10 days. That has never happened to me. I was supposed to attend a pre-performance rehearsal at my teacher’s house, and I found I couldn’t do it. I canceled an hour before we were supposed to start the rehearsal.

A couple of days after that I withdrew from taking lessons. 

I’m not sure I will ever go back. I believe my teacher and I have different agendas. She’s about the performance. Playing live isn’t that important to me. And I certainly don’t want to sing. I never wanted to sing, and I let myself get nudged into something I didn’t really want to do. I should have protested, but I didn’t. It’s my fault I didn’t speak up, take charge, and stop what was happening. I love singing, but I’m strictly an at-home or in-the-car singer. I don’t want to do it live.

I don’t want to be the center of attention. 

On a happier note, I am playing my bass again. I’m doing online lessons, having started over from scratch with a guy who is a bass player. I wanted to learn from someone who focuses on bass and just bass. The video lessons are short and focus on technique.

Happily, I’ve also started therapy for the anxiety issues. Maybe someday when I’m stronger, I will feel differently. For now, I stand by my initial statement and Facebook post. I want to play bass and nothing else.

This is still who I am.

Longing for the Good Old Days

There must be something wrong with me. Or I might be an anti-feminist. I feel zero excitement about our first female leader (Vice President elect). It isn’t because she’s a Democrat, and I was raised a Republican. I ask myself if Sarah Palin (or some other Republican female) had made it, would I feel differently, and the answer is no. Just a solid, unequivocal NO.

I never aspired to have a career or work outside my home. I was raised by an insecure, shy 1940’s-1950’s housewife who never wanted to work outside the home. My mother was there every day when I got up and there every day when I got home from school. She baked. She cleaned. She made a happy home warm and welcoming. She had a hot dinner on the table when Dad got home every night. She and Dad were married 41 years when he died. I always wanted what she had.

My reality was far different from hers. I’ve held full time employment since I was 19. I fell in love and married at 30. I’ve been married almost 31 years. I worked through two pregnancies and went back to work when my sons were both just six weeks old. Was I happy to go? No, I cried because I had to. I’ve been working for forty-two freaking LONG years.

I always blamed the feminist women for wanting to work for spoiling my dream of just being home. Burning their bras, protesting and carrying on. Intellectually, I knew that wasn’t true. I knew inflation and an increased cost of living necessitated my having to work full-time. And, no, we don’t live lavishly. We have a 1,000 square foot house built in the 1960’s. We drive used cars. We have debt just like most people.

I always felt that I was born at the wrong time. A job is just a paycheck for me. Never anything more. Do I like what I do? Most days. Would I walk away from it if I could? In a heartbeat.

I’m not a feminist. I have no daughters, and I’m glad. I would have made a terrible mother of daughter(s). I just don’t have it in me.

So was I devastated when RBG died? No. Am I excited that Harris is VP? No.

Sorry. I’m just not.

Image courtesy of Pinterest

True Love

Weird clouds in the sky on June 27 on one of our rare nights out for a ride/date. My Ford Edge with the bass clef sticker in the window.

I was uploading old photos a few nights later. We’ve changed a bit in 32 years together.

Here’s one of our first dates. An old photo booth at Seabreeze Amusement park in 1988.

Three years later at our niece’s wedding.

His Ford Escort GT and my Pontiac Firebird at our old apartment. I miss that car.

Christmas 1993, the first one in our house.

Must be true love.

I can’t think of anyone else I’d rather grow old with.

Adventures in Blogging

Apologies if my website and blogging have seemed a little haphazard lately. I walked away from blogging earlier in the year. Chase, our diabetic kitty got sick.

I don’t regret working from home during the covid panic because I got to spend his last few months here with him. If I had been at work, I wouldn’t have had that time with him. We had a really big scare with him where his blood sugar was down to 38. I had to rush him to the emergency vet. The next week we’d go to our regular vet and hear the awful words “there’s a mass”. We heard that just over a year ago with Ginger, then this year it happened with Chase.

I was so distraught after we said goodbye to him that I had no desire to write or post. I was deeply saddened to see that fellow bloggers had also lost pets while I was away. I have to give you all kudos. I don’t know how you kept positing. I just couldn’t do it.

Four months passed, and when I finally felt like I could post something again, it was to discover that everything was now under the dreaded block editor. My first post was a disaster. I worked hard on it, and I thought I had selected classic editor only to find that my post was an empty one. NO text anywhere to be seen. I think I re-did that post two or three times.

Then I decided I wanted a fresh start. I cleaned up my header and decided to go with a new theme and a logo only. Several posts in, I found out the (useless) theme I had chosen had no option for reader’s comments.

Another re-think and re-design this morning, and I now think I’m where I want to be. I edited my header to use an actual image of my husband’s truck. I also wanted to add my bass guitar since that is also a big part of who I am now.

This post is primarily a test post. I’m hoping it doesn’t come out blank, and I’m hoping this new theme includes a comments button. Please? (fingers crossed).

It’s good to be back.