How To Create And Participate In A Praise And Worship Band: A Theory According to Jimmie

Madre has in recent history had an experience at my church during which she’ll tell you she enjoyed herself immensely. She’s not lying.  The message was really good that day, and someone had a Word for her about belonging.  Everyone wants to belong, right?  What Madre will politely fail to mention in her enthusiastic praise for my church is that she cannot abide the music.  I cannot fault her for that.  It’s an acquired taste.

Martie and I grew up in a Presbyterian church with also a side of Methodist because that is what Madre and Daddy-O chose for our formative spiritual years. Traditionally your Presbyterian and Methodist churches operate as Catholic-light so there is an order to everything.  Hymns are sung from the hymnal which offers songs in the standard 3-4 stanza form, with piano accompaniment, or in lucky churches, with a pipe organ.  I love a pipe organ.  These hymns are sung with gusto if you have a good pianist and a modestly large congregation, always nice for a good rendition of “Amazing Grace.”  Sometimes your pianist is just okay or your congregation is small, but in that case, you still bleat out two or three of the stanzas, getting louder on the last one because everyone knows that the last verse is the tear-jerker.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we’ve first begun.

 

Man, I can barely type that one without getting teary.

It’s when you get into the Baptist-type religions (do not confuse with Church of Christ – there’s no musical accompaniment in Church of Christ churches) that you start seeing a move away from stanza hymns to more consistent emotional offerings, songs where someone with a set of pipes modeled after heavenly angels can really show their stuff. Everybody knows that the Baptists like to thrum your emotions, just tinkle on those feelings like a really good piano trill, and what a better way to do that than with music!  Get a bunch of very good solo artists on the stage and boy howdy, do you have a party!  I’ve never cried as much as in a Baptist church when the choir swells up after a truly gut-wrenching solo to sing “It is Well with My Soul.”  My voice reaches that fever pitch where only dogs can hear me at the end, and I have to go home after to take a nap, I’m so spiritually exhausted.  It’s fantastic!

In the last few years, I’ve found myself moving away from the Baptist church to a more Apostolic one and my emotions show it. You can’t find an Apostolic church without a really good praise and worship band, and that is partly because Apostolics like to get you in the feels before the service, during the service, and after the service.  If you don’t leave emotionally wrung out, totally spent, well, then you’ve got yourself a dud.  I’ve seen grown men cry, do cartwheels and literally run laps around the sanctuary.  My eyes are puffier than they ever have been and while you may chalk it up to age, I say it’s because I cry more often at church.  It’s not a good Sunday unless I’ve used four Kleenex.

I know what you are thinking. I know you are saying, “I bet Jimmie is super fun to go to a concert with, what with all her crying at the songs.  I bet Jimmie is a hoot after church song number three, a basket case after church song number four, and worthless by the end of the service.  I bet Jimmie never even hears the sermon, she’s so busy blowing her nose.”  You are wrong.  It’s not the music, it’s the Lord.  You think your Lord and Savior isn’t worth a few tears? Think again.

Truth is, I’m not a big fan of live music. I find concerts and the like to be the most exquisite form of torture.  I spend the entire evening wondering how long I have to stay and regretting the fact that I didn’t drive alone so I could plead ovary explosion and go home already.  I make very few exceptions for this general loathing, one of which is Martie’s live music and one of which is some Rockabilly guy I saw 10 years ago at 3rd and Lindsley.

I can be gracious and truthfully say that I do like the music at my church, and I do cry often instead of sing. Listen to “Forever” by Kari Jobe sometime and tell me that doesn’t get you in the gut.  Ultimately,  though, I find myself having a difficult time with the praise and worship bands employed at Apostolic, Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist and non-denominational churches everywhere (but not Church of Christ because that is forbidden.)  I love the Holy Spirit.  I believe people get caught up in it.  I believe that music is an excellent way to worship the Lord.  I believe music provides one of the easiest expressions to feel and convey love.  But I also believe that we all too often use praise and worship, aka live music, at the expense of solid teaching, solid following, pastoring, communicating and relating to people.  Plus it plucks at my very nerve endings, like someone is taking a razor blade to my sciatic nerve and making tiny little cuts over and over again until I want to scream or pass out, both of which would render the music unhearable to me.  In some cases I would consider it a relief.

I do realize that I sound cynical and jaded and that I belong firmly where I sit – in the minority with the other old ladies shaking my cane. That is fair.  So that you may see my point of view clearly, so that you don’t judge me too harshly, I offer you my theory on how to create and sustain and praise and worship band of your very own.

How To Create and Participate In A Praise And Worship Band

A Theory According to Jimmie

  • Get the right wardrobe. It’s either rock star jeans with shiny stuff on the butt or hipster jeans that are so tight your audience can tell you wear boxer briefs. No mom jeans! Unless mom jeans are making a comeback amongst the uber-hip crowd, then you can wear mom jeans. Shoes are not required because the music stage is holy ground and no one wants you to desecrate holy ground except in cases where shoes are part of the ensemble.
  • Employ as many band members as you can, mostly guitarists but definitely a drummer, a bassist, a lead guitar, a rhythm guitar, and a keyboardist.
  • Employ as many decent vocalists as you can, but only one or two really good ones. Stamina is more important than talent if you want the truth of it. Give them all a microphone if you can afford that many.
  • Set the stage lights to “mood” and paint the stage itself black. Other lights may be utilized to laser around the room but none of them may be bright white lights. Purple, blue, green, and aqua are recommended.
  • Pick a song and then sort of learn the words. The screen that displays the words for the congregation (no hymnals allowed!) will never match what you actually sing anyway, because everyone knows you are so full of the Spirit (or they will after you butcher the lyrics) that you couldn’t possibly follow a song as written, even if the Spirit gave you the lyrics Himself.
  • You must speak the words you are about to sing before you actually sing them. For example, you say with feeling “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,” and THEN you sing “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,” preferably with your eyes closed and all breathy, as if your emotions are overtaking you. They may be, I’m not saying they aren’t, but if you are not conveying emotion with your lungs, you are doing it wrong.
  • Speaking of breathing the words, it is also important to learn how to sigh the words so that it sounds as if you are going to burst into tears in short order, particularly during the refrain. If you can kind of start every word with an H, bonus points to you! “Huh-Mazing Gr-huh-race, Huh hhhsweet, the-huh huh-sound . . .” See how it sounds like you are crying?
  • Once you’ve made your point with your emotions (you’re so spuritul, yo), you can really being to wail. Wait until the refrain, though. Wait for the crescendo. When crescendo beginning is nigh, prepare to repeat the refrain a minimum of 15 times with each repetition becoming progressively louder. If you can manage it, the refrain can last for up to 40 repetitions without congregants actively looking for an opportunity to sit down. It’s important that no matter how many repetitions you make, you sing with gusto! Sing your heart out. This is the time to improvise and warble up and down the notes so that no one could ever hope to follow your lead, so that those who try give up in embarrassment and shame because the one time your microphone doesn’t drown them out will be the one time they ventured to match your enthusiasm and they did it alone not knowing the crescendo was over. They were trying to follow the words on the screen but the woman in the back whose job is to put the right words up there gave up a long time ago trying to keep up so that when they sheepishly look around to see who heard them butcher that line, they see that she’s filing her nails now.
  • After the crescendo repetitions have petered out, begin them anew but this time at a whisper so that you may properly convey your reverence and respect for the Lord. This! This is where you eke out tears if you can! Hands are up in the air unless you are holding an instrument and your body should be down on the floor unless, of course, being on the floor renders you unable to reach your instrument or be seen by the audience. From your prone position you may repeat this whispered refrain four times. No more, no less.
  • A pregnant pause in the singing completes song number one. Only three more to go!
  • Once you are musically spent, you offer up a pearl of wisdom gleaned either in your Bible reading the night before or during one of your crescendo repetitions. At this point, you may now turn the service over the pastor who may say, as in one unfortunate incident at a church I never visited again, “I like where the Spirit is leading us. Let’s just stay in this posture for the rest of the service, okay? Music team, continue for the remainder of our time.” (I then realize that the pastor didn’t prepare a message for the week because he was out at the downtown concert venues every night getting fed with the latest praise and worship bands. At that point I pack up my Bible and go home. I’ve got prayer to attend to.)

You can picture me, can’t you, over here with my feet firmly planted on my soap box, in my sturdy shoes with my knee highs rolled down around my ankles, leaning heavily on my cane. I know I picked Nashville.  I know I came voluntarily to Music City.  I know I picked my church, every church I’ve ever attended as an adult.  I know I’m in the minority.  I accept my status as a curmudgeon.  I’ll still invite you to the Lord, and to my church.  Y’all come any time.  I’ll bet you’ll love it.

One Stone

Amazing Grace

It Is Well With My Soul

Forever

 

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Speaking Of Hotties In Norway . . . .

Did you know that it rains 215 days per year in Norway? We didn’t either, but now we do.  This is probably why I didn’t come home with hottie hot hot Lasse, because everyone knows what happens to my hair when it rains.

Ima go kick rocks.  While I do, lookit us!  We so cute.

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Jimmie and Woney with pre-rain hair. Ain’t it glorious?

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Day one – Rain.  Also the day Jimmie lost Marco for ever. 

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The only day with no rain.  Please to note how great Jimmie’s hair looks.

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Jimmie and Cat, in the rain.

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Woney and Jimmie, tryna make rain coats look sexy.

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Woney and Troll, in the rain.

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Jimmie and Moose, just before a rainfall.

 

 

 

 

 

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Jimmie and Woney, after sitting out a rainfall.

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Woney, tryna be a Viking while it rained.

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Norway, bitches!  It’s hard to look mean in the rain.

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Jimmie, talking on the phone in the  . . . . for crying out loud, you know it was raining.

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A Beauty captured, in a lone moment of sunshine.  It’s perfect, isn’t it?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hello, Little Man

I have a brand new cat I want to share with you! This sounds weird, but his name is Seamus and I’ve had him about eight years.

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Doing his best to sit on my lap

If you’ll remember, Seamus was the cat who hid under my bed for four years. He got stuck behind the refrigerator for a day or two when we were new to each other, because he was so wary of me.  Didn’t even warm up to me when I rescued him from behind there and gave him treats.  He eventually slept on the bed as long as Murphy was there and once he accidentally took a nap on me but upon waking, realized his error and scampered in horror very quickly away.  He did have some warm fuzzy moments with Woney, that heifer, a few years ago which really ticked me off because I have put in the work and the effort with that cat.  For the last few years he has tolerated me and even liked me a little from a distance.  I could pet him but we shared no warm fuzzy moments unless I turned on the sink for him or gave him canned peas.

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For the first month after Murphy and I went to the vet and I came home alone, Seamus was a mess. A total mess.  He wandered the house meowing forcefully at all hours of the night and it just broke my heart.  He kept calling for Murphy and when Murphy didn’t answer, Seamus would jump on the bed and sniff for him.  He’d roam then sleep in the dark curled up on one of my pillows I’d stuffed in my closet and then would roam some more.  I think his appetite suffered, too, but it’s hard to tell when you go from two cats to one.   The food bowl always looked full.

After a few weeks in a fit of discontent and anger, I guess, Seamus wallered onto my pillow and tried to snuggle me. I think he was just looking for something to annoy, something like Murphy who Seamus used to annoy all the time, and I was the only live being in the house.  When cats snuggle humans it’s sweet and soft and kind of lazy, but when cats snuggle other cats it’s more forceful and annoying and involves a lot of scenting things by ramming their faces into hard objects, walls, corners, and books.  I do believe it also involves rubbing those giant fang teeth into soft smushy parts like faces and bodies.  Seamus did all of that to my face and my hands thinking I was a cat (and to be fair, there’s still a fine coating of Murphy fur everywhere) and then contented himself by selecting a wad of my hair with his paw and chewing on it.  Like bubble gum. Smacking and everything.  After a good half hour of that, he climbed onto my chest so he could have better access to my face and began rubbing his gigantic whiskers on my cheeks.  I could barely breathe but I let him stay and after many, many minutes, he put his paw around my neck and went to sleep.  We now do this every night and while it shouldn’t, it sometimes annoys me.

See, in the middle of the night I wake up to a cat purring in my ear. It sounds so sweet because who doesn’t like a cat who purrs?  It’s just that Seamus purrs like a Bengal tiger.  It’s huge.  It’s loud.  It’s forceful because the purring is usually is accompanied by a wet nose in my ear, claws in my hair and chest rumbles at a volume I’m fairly certain my neighbor can hear. This part I love – nearly every morning I wake up with a cat at least partly on my hip.  He’s taken naps with me, where he’ll stuff himself into the crook of my arm and rest his head on my bicep then sleep so hard he snores.  He comes running, his big fluffy tummy swaying, every night when I unlock the door.  I’ve never had a cat greet me with such exuberance nor heard a cat purr as much as Seamus, not ever in my life. If I’m home, then he’s no more than two feet from me at any given time.  I guess I will never pee alone again but I am used to that because I never peed alone with Murphy either.

I, of course, like to think it’s me Seamus is excited about. Murphy was a natural cat bonder who bonded not just with me but with Luke, with Sandi, with the neighbors down the road, with Pee-Tah, with Freddie.  Etc.  With Seamus, I really feel like he likes ME, and I don’t really want to hear any different, despite any evidence there is to the contrary, thanks.  I don’t want to hear that I’m his Murphy substitute or that he’s just looking for something to cuddle because it’s his innate instinct to smother live beings with affection and teeth scraping.

So this is my new cat. What do you think? Should I keep him?

How Martie Learned To Sing

Recently Woney, Nurse Bananahammock, Squash and I acquired the new Adele CD and since then have spent copious amounts of time learning all lyrics and melodies which we belt out in our respective vehicles. I felt pretty good about my pipes – we all did – because when you listen to the master sing at top volume, you can’t hear your own self warble and screech.  It wasn’t until we heard ourselves sing happy birthday in a recording that we realized that simply being very emotional about lyrics and melodies does not equal actual singing talent.

Squash messaged us about this right after we all spent a birthday weekend together at Martie’s house. Martie entertained us with her guitar and her pipes, neither of which can be classified as a warble or screech, and Squash wanted to know how to get there herself.

“Does Martie give singing lessons?” she queried.

“Oh, no,” I said, “but I can tell you how Martie learned. Here, I’ll write it up for you,” and then the following was born.

How Martie Learned To Sing, An Essay By Jimmie

Step one: Get assigned a singing role with 25 other kids in kindergarten.  Learn “Leo the Lion” in one afternoon. For the next six months, sing “Leo the Lion” every single moment you are awake.  That sounds like this:

Martie: Leo the lion was the king of the jungle and his jaws were big and wide, rawr!  Leo the lion, when he roared it’s a warning that you better run and hide, rawr!  (Ask Jimmie why she remembers the words to this day, 37 years later.)

All adults (and siblings) in Martie’s life: Martie!  Stop!  That’s enough.

Two minutes pass . . .

Martie:   Leo the lion was the king of the jungle and his jaws were big and wide, rawr!  Leo the lion, when he roared it’s a warning that you better run and hide, rawr! 

 

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Step two: When your mother remarries and you are blessed with two brand new brothers, annoy the shit out of them by making up songs about them and sing them in their presence.  Or out of their presence.  Do this for five plus years until brothers move out of the house. That sounds like this:

Martie: Boo. Boo-ooo.  Boo-hooo.  Boo!Boo!Boo!Boo! 

Brother Boo: *shoves Martie into wall*

Martie: I’m telling!

Two minutes pass . . . .

Martie: Boo. Boo-ooo.  Boo-hooo.  Boo!Boo!Boo!Boo!

 

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Step three, now in high school: Purchase large number of blank cassette tapes.  Make a list of favorite top forty songs.  When any of the songs on said list come on the radio, make a mad dash to your sister’s purple boom box and hit record.  Once recorded, spend hours playing it and rewinding it so you can get all the lyrics down.  This is particularly fun when your sister is trying to read a book in the room you share. That sounds like this:

Martie: You put the boom-boom into my heart <rewind, pause and scribble>, you send my soul sky high <rewind, pause and scribble> when your lovin’ starts <pause and scribble>, jitterbug into my brain <pause and scribble>, goes a bang-bang-bang till my feet do the same <rewind, pause and scribble>

Jimmie, flapping her book: <huff>

Martie: What?  You love that song.

Jimmie, dramatically while flapping her book: You are ruining it! George Michael is MY boyfriend, not yours!

Two minutes pass . . . .

Jimmie, setting aside her book: Play it again.

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Step four: Get a keyboard for Christmas. Begin tinking on it and never let anyone else get a turn.  Once you have mastered Axel F, the theme song for Beverly Hills Cop, you are ready to perform for your (unwilling) audience (the same audience who has listened to you pick this song out for months and also the reading sister).  Begin to sound out other hit songs such as “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” “Pour Some Sugar On Me,” and every Michael Jackson song.  Sing along, stop, get the right note, begin again, stop, sing, ad nauseum.  Four years.  That sounds like this:

Martie, tapping on the keys: dunh, dunh, dunhdunhdunhdunh, dunh, dunh, durn “Dangit!  Now I have to start over!”  dunh, dunh, dunhdunhdunhdunh, dunh, dunh, duhn, blang, “Huff!  One more time!”

Jimmie: Learn a new song, for the love of all that is holy!

Two minutes pass . . . .

Martie, tapping on the keys: dunh, dunh, dunhdunhdunhdunh, dunh, dunh, durn “Dangit!  Now I have to start over!”  dunh, dunh, dunhdunhdunhdunh, dunh, dunh, duhn, blang, “Huff!  One more time!”

 

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Step five: Get a guitar. Pester above mentioned brothers, both of whom are pursuing a rock star type career complete with leather pants, to teach you how to play. Begin practicing in earnest.  Learn every word to every Pearl Jam song, every Soundgarden sound, all Stone Temple Pilots lyrics, and don’t forget Red Hot Chili Peppers, Alanis Morrisette, Heart and the reading sister’s personal favorite (no), Patsy Cline.  Do this for eternity because you and Jimmie no longer live together so she can’t stop you, plus you sound pretty good, plus Jimmie (and all her friends) is (are) now a willing audience. That sounds like this:

Martie:  Cray-zeee.  I’m crazy for feeling so lone-leeee

Jimmie:  FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!  You know a million songs!  Sing one I like, you know I can’t abide Patsy Cline!

Two minutes pass . . . .

Martie:  Cray-zeeeee

Laugh

Five easy steps, Squash. You are well on your way.

Oh, For Crying Out Loud

Madre was here for a Mother’s Day celebration which involved attending the Sounds game to consume hot chicken. Not to watch baseball, mind you, but to eat some hot chicken.

An aside. When Woney and I were returning from Ireland via the Dublin airport, we met some strangers from Minnesota who were perusing an Irish-published travel magazine and found an article on Nashville’s latest phenomenon, hot chicken.  When they discovered that I hailed from Nashville, they invited themselves to my house so that they could try hot chicken for themselves. I had no idea what they were talking about. That’s just like me to go halfway across the world to discover what my city is known for.  Anyway, hot chicken is just chicken coated in a batter than contains hot sauce and fried in oil, either pepper or regular.  Some places will drizzle more hot sauce-type stuff over it and some will not.  All of it should come with a pickle.  I imagine that hot chicken, complete with pickle, has been a menu staple in numerous soul food-type kitchens in numerous cities for numerous decades yet some genius in Nashville coined the phrase, and waalah! We are famous.

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From The Row, because I don’t have a picture from The Sounds

Also an aside, Madre prefers the Sounds’ version of hot chicken over say, The Row or Party Fowl, and I prefer the tight bums of baseball players over, say, the less tight bums of men at McDonald’s, so the Sounds game it was!

Once Madre and I commenced celebrating we hauled all our stuff into her truck so that we didn’t miss a minute together of our party, and only after we got done did I haul all my stuff back into my own car. When we finally parted ways we hollered all of our “I love yous” and “arrivedercis” back and forth through our respective windows and then I drove off into the sunset.  The point I’m trying to make here is that I didn’t spend much time in my car and when I did, I used a lot of that time to yell out the window to Madre.  The other point I’d like to make is that all that yelling didn’t let me fully hear what was going on with my engine when I tried to start it so later, on Tuesday, when my car croaked at the Greenway it was a total surprise.  Daisy and I had been walking and since we don’t often holler “I love you” or “arrivederci” out our respective windows as we leave the Greenway, when my motor went rowh-rowh-rowhhhhh, tick-tick-tick, I noticed.  And then when it made this sound –> *crickets*, I really noticed.  Frick.

“Do you want to try to jump start it?” Daisy asked.

I knew it was the alternator because I was due for a new alternator as it’s been almost a whole year since my last one croaked. “No,” I replied. “I’ll have it towed over to Austin’s (plug for 5th Gear Automotive) and get him to replace the filth flarn alternator. Again.”

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“Are you sure?” she asked.

“Totally sure. I know this sound.  I have, against my strident and strong will, become a mechanic you know.  This is just going to require some planning.  Frick.”

Daisy drove me to dinner and then home and then I made all my ride/tow plans with Pee-Tah and Katniss and Austin (another plug for 5th Gear Automotive) and a tow truck driver named Brad.

When I called Pee-Tah, he queried, “Do you want to try to jump it, just in case? I can meet you over there.”

“No, it’s the alternator,” I sighed. “All that money that I saved for my cookie doctor cell burning procedure is going to be spent on my new used alternator and I’m annoyed. Plus I took off my bra and I’m in pajamas.  So, no, thanks.”

The next afternoon when I met tow truck driver Brad at my car on the Greenway, he backed his big flatbed up to me and said, “Have you tried to jump it?”

“Nope,” I replied. “I have it scheduled for an alternator replacement tomorrow morning.  That’s what is wrong with it.”

“Okay,” he said, and then hooked up my battery to his jumper machine and my engine started right up.

“Alternator’s fine,” he hollered over the engine. “Runs great!  You still want a tow?”

Well, shit.

As it turns out, I am not yet certified as a mechanic and as it turns out I only needed a new battery. Still pisses me off, though, because that battery was only two years old. Things just don’t work like they used to anymore.  Also, as it turns out my favorite people over at Advanced Auto Parts (not a plug for Advanced Auto Parts) went way up on their battery prices and no longer rush out to your vehicle to replace said batteries. (Currently reevaluating my system for determining favorite people.)

“There’s going to be a thirty minute wait,” the clerk said. “There’re only two of us here right now and we can’t leave the store like this.”

“Tis fine,” I said. “I already waited two hours for Brad the tow truck driver so what’s another thirty minutes?  I’m just going to drape myself on your curb out here until someone can help me because despite the numerous times I’ve had this battery replaced, I still don’t know how to do it myself.” Mechanic, my arse.

I draped myself and watched people for about three minutes until a customer who had been in the store walked out and offered to change my battery for me (plug coming! This is called foreshadowing!).  “It won’t take but a few minutes,” he said.  “I’d be happy to do it,” he said.

*Dun, dun, dunnn (foreshadowing music)* Y’all, I would like to introduce you to Brandon, my new favorite person. Ta da!  

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It didn’t take me a moment’s hesitation to yelp my yes to Brandon’s offer of help and he responded in kind. He was already waiting at my car with his tools at the ready before I made it outside with my big ass battery.  It took him approximately seven minutes to change that thing out and in that time he reassured me that I really do have a good car.  He explained why that big bolt is in front of the battery and why I need to make sure it’s tightened.  He also explained that he has a mobile auto repair business (FORESHADOWING COMPLETE: Plug for Brandon’s auto repair business!) and I squealed over the good fortune of me and all my non-mechanic friends who now have the number of a great guy who will rescue us when needed (and, I feel like I should say, when he is available).  Then he carried my grungy old battery into the store for me so I wouldn’t get dirty.  Sigh.  It was just so great.

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I meet the best people, don’t I? Don’t know shit from shinola about cars, nor can I successfully change a battery by myself, but I sure do have the nicest people in my life.  I’m so lucky.

Young New Male Roommate

If you have kept up with me for any length of time, you will not need this refresher. If you are new or have the memory capacity of a gnat, perhaps this will be of use to you.

Refresher:

  1. I have a neighbor, Luke. We have an agreement wherein I use his internet and he eats food I sometimes provide for him. We also have agreements wherein I invite myself over to his house to watch movies and I eat food he provides for me. Also, I have agreed that he will help me with my yard and in return he gets to live next to someone with a nice yard. Really, this whole situation benefits him greatly. Meet Luke.
  2. My cousin came to live with me a few years ago and was my first Roommate. He brought with him his dog, Mini, and she peed on a lot of my stuff. Meet Roommate.
  3. After Roommate left, Kasi Starr moved in. She brought with her Miss Kitty who ticked Murphy off enough that Murphy peed on a lot of my stuff. Meet Kasi Starr.

Fresher:

  1. After Kasi Starr left, I got Roomie who I never told you about I don’t think. She lived with me for two and a half years and brought with her this garbage can. Meet garbage can.master_SHM007
  2. Roomie moved out this summer and for two or three months I lived alone in my house with my two cats. One night I was reading a book in my puffy blue chair and I glanced upstairs. It seemed so dark and lonely up there and my house felt too quiet. I decided I needed a new Roommate.

That brings us to August. It’s always been easy for me to find someone to house share with and this was no different.  I put an ad on a roommate finder website and shared pictures.  In response to that, I got Daniel.

The day that Daniel came to view the house, Luke came over to “get some dinner.” Really I think he came over to make sure I was not going to be ax murdered by some stranger I met online. He would never admit that in a million years so we are going to say that he “came for dinner.”  I discussed with Luke getting my own internet service because two people clinging onto his didn’t seem fair.  Luke said, “Let me meet him first and then we can talk about it.”

Daniel wore a tie to the viewing and exclaimed over all the neat artsy stuff I have in my house. I have a few of the paintings my dad did, a bunch of his pottery, the knife my stepfather made, the wood carvings he made and also my gorgeous, lovely bedroom.  (If you need a refresher on Felix, you can find that here.) Daniel assured me that he was 92% certain he wanted my room but he was going to look at other places first.  Then he left.

Luke and I discussed Daniel after he left and Luke proclaimed him harmless. “He seems like an okay dude,” he said.  “Plus he’s gay. I’ll get him the password to my internet.”

I explained gently to Luke that Daniel was not gay. He was just a year and a half out of his divorce and he’s a total hipster.  Just young and fond of skinny jeans and totally straight.

“Okay,” said Luke.

Daniel moved in. Two weeks after he moved in, we were having some get-to-know-you discussions at my kitchen table and Daniel said, “Oh, I’m gay.”

Dammit.

The next night I texted Luke with the weekly menu:

Serving next week, and please let me know your choices: chili served with beer bread, chicken taco soup with cornbread, and crow with a side of salt. Daniel’s gay.

Luke’s selection:

Told ya.

This here is a bonus picture of Luke sweeping my walk during the Snow-cation. I don’t know how he lucked out getting me for a neighbor but that is one lucky dude, right there.

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From My Heart To Yours

When friendship disappears then there is a space left open to that awful loneliness of the outside world which is like the cold space between the planets. It is an air in which men perish utterly.   ~Hilaire Belloc

Being alone is hard.  I’ve spent a lot of time these last few years being the alone-est I’ve ever been, and I have to tell you that despite the fact that a lot of people find peace in that quiet solitude, there is nothing peaceful about it for me.

It is entirely possible that I am defining alone in a deeper way than you do, at least on the first pass.  I do love a rainy Saturday curled up in my big puffy loft chair with the new Marian Keyes book and a snoozing cat dropping fur all over me. That is not alone.  That is contentment.  The mornings that I wake up by myself in the soft gray light after having spent the evening before discussing all my dreams with God are some of my favorites. I burrow down into my pillows, two under my head, one down each side of my body, and I smile with sleepy eyes towards the Father who stood guard over me all night.  That is not alone.  That is peace.

Alone, to me, is a far more pervasive thing.  It’s those moments when I can’t talk to God anymore because He does not talk back to me in a way that I understand.  It’s the moments when I’m desperate for some human contact, for another person to talk to me, to listen to me, to just be there with me while I feel things and at the end of the acute longing, I have no one.  Alone is when I just want someone, anyone to understand my heart without my having to put all of that bigness into tiny, inconsequential words.  Alone is that void that is left after stuffing a weekend full of friends and family, the one that yawns before me as I arrive to my empty, dark home and discover that Murphy has been sick all over the carpet because he ate too much grass.

The thing about that sort of loneliness is that everyone feels it.  It isn’t reserved only for the widowed or the childless or the bullied. You don’t have to be single to feel that ache.  I know many people who have such pretty lives on the outside, lives full of love and laughter, but who can sense in another person those depths of sadness just like I can, because they feel it, too.  The beauty of it, though, is that we *can* sense it.  One singular void recognizes another singular void and for some, there is camaraderie in that.

As much as I’d love to tell you that I have a cure for this level of alone, I don’t.  I have very little advice to give, but the things I do have, I’ll tell you.

I’ll tell you that if your heart is lonely, I feel it.  I’m sorry.  I’d give you a hug if you were near me.  I hope you’d hug me back.

I’ll also tell you that several years ago, after living in an unhealthy one, I realized that relationships are not meant to be stiffly drawn lines in which one person gives and the other person takes until one person is all used up and hollow.  The sadness I felt at the end of that relationship seemed to stem from the loss of the partner but in hindsight, I now realize it came solely from the loss of me.  The things I gave away . . . . willingly and happily . . . oh, what I’d give to get them back.  I lost a bit of myself and when I felt alone, I was alone without even me to fall back on.  Don’t do that.  Don’t give up your *you* for another person.  It isn’t fair and it isn’t healthy.

Thirdly, I’ll tell you that if you need friends or things to do to get outside of yourself, visit meetup.com and find a group.  Sign up for something, even if you only find it very slightly interesting.  Even if you feel scared.  The first meetup I went to was with a group of five women, all of whom were living lives similar to mine.  I arrived before everyone else and cried at the door before I could bring myself to go in to the venue.  I just sobbed.  Nothing is harder than trying something new when your heart is a shattered mess of pulp and broken promises.  But after I sobbed, I wiped off my runny mascara and walked in the door.  I greeted each new woman with a watery smile, of which I got five back in return.  We were all alone, and out of that alone formed a bond of friendship that no longer was based on sad but on new shared memories.

And finally, I’ll tell you that whatever your fight, whatever your alone, whatever your mountain you need to climb, don’t stop fighting.  Don’t give up.  Every time life knocks you down and bloodies your lip and breaks your heart, get back up and look it square in the eye, and say, “You hit like a bitch.”  Your only way to lose is to stay on the ground.

From my sometimes lonely heart, to yours,

Love, truly,

Jimmie

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