Posts Tagged With: Brian

Piano Lessons


There are pictures of me in every album, at every age: fluffy white-blonde hair sprayed into submission, floral dress over white tights or frilly socks and black mary janes, smiling at the camera with the black and white keys of a piano stretching to my left.  In some, I bow with my knees locked straight.  In others, my face is in profile while my hands lay static on the keys.  Sometimes there’s a patient smile on my face as I look up from the bench, that my song has been interrupted by someone I’m fond of for pictures.

Piano was a religion for me.  3 hours a day, waking up in the mornings before school to sit and force my muscles to remember that tight, fast fingering on the right hand in in Mozart’s Rondo Alla Turka; or stretch my left palm a little farther to get a cleaner octave in Joplin’s Entertainer.  I spent hours poring over theory books and listening to intervals.

It centered me.

And then I was doing it less.  And then I wasn’t doing it at all anymore, my fingers putting up a revolt when I tried to pick up a piece after six, maybe eight months absence.

I missed it less than I thought I would, though I still missed it.

“Do you remember?” Brian asked me about a month ago.  “You once showed me a few chords on the piano.  It seemed like it made sense.  It seemed easy.”

It is both easy and hard.

“Would you teach me?” he asked.

I remembered, fifteen years ago, when I was thinking of giving lessons for extra cash.  “Just get a book,” Christine, who had been teaching me since I was 4, said.  “Work through it in order.  Someone who wanted to be a serious musician would eventually need more, yeah, but you could definitely start someone off.  And a lot of experienced teachers don’t take anyone who can’t read music.  You’d be a great in-between.”

So I said “Sure,” to Brian.

We walked to a practice room at the college where Brian works.  The music building is one of their oldest.  It’s at the end of a tree-lined lawn, frescoes in the eaves of violins and flowers in a vase.  Inside a tiny room on the second floor was a beat-up Steinway upright that was still mostly black.  A grimy window looked out onto the quad beyond, the fronds of an evergreen brushing the panes.  There was no place for a teacher to sit.

I stood.

Our lesson went so quickly, I couldn’t believe it had been more than an hour.

I have never seen myself in someone I wasn’t related to.  But last night it struck me with a vengeance, the way Brian gravitates towards foreign pianos even in public places now, wanting to feel the slick white keys under his fingers, to fool around with the notes for just a moment.  The way he taps his hands on the table, a look of concentration on his face, both hands crossing at different times like they should.  “I had a bad day, but I practiced tonight and I feel fine again,” he said last week.

I don’t know what changed, but I watched him sit there, the negative of the image I used to be: long denim-clad legs tucked over the pedals, the cowlick in his dark brown hair standing tall, the black and white keyboard stretching before him, look of concentration on his face.  Somehow the universe seemed to re-orient itself into new tiers of importance.  This was at the top.  Not Brian, exactly, or even the piano, but the knowledge, the sharing we give to each other as we move through existence.

I grinned.

“What are you smiling about?” Brian asked.

“Nothing,” I said.

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Olympic TV Watching


On our way in to work (yes, we’re sharing a car again… the Cavalier once again bites the dust), I asked Brian what I should write about for the blog entry today.

He told me that I should write about what an awesome husband I have, who picked up and vacuumed the entire downstairs, deep-cleaned the kitchen, and made all the meals for the week.  Which is a true story.  I have a pretty awesome husband.

And then he told me that I should probably just write about the Olympics instead.  So here I (sorta) go:

The Olympics are one of my favorite things.  Mostly because there’s weird sports that you never get to see on TV otherwise, like archery, table tennis, and synchronized diving.  Brian likes it too, although not as much as I do.  We also have a love/hate relationship with TV which makes my love of the Olympics tough to indulge.

13 years ago, Brian and I decided that we wouldn’t get a TV when we moved in with each other.  He felt like the constant din of TV was distracting and the ads annoying, and I felt like my mother had limited TV so much for us growing up that living without it wouldn’t be hard.  That was in the dark ages before Netflix and online streaming, and it turned out to be awful until we expanded our movie collection enough that there was entertainment in the house.  But we did it.  And Netflix then felt like the decadent version of having that vast movie collection.  There are only 3 shows I HAVE to watch, and they are all available via online streaming: Project Runway, This Old House, and The Great British Bake Off.  We have an antenna that used to work well in Claremont but is optimistically sketchy in the new place and really only gets channel 4.  But that’s enough for State Of The Union addresses and Rose Parades.  We make it work.

Why is this better than just shelling out for cable you ask?  Well, it’s cheaper.  But mostly it forces us to be deliberate about what we’re watching.  There isn’t any more horrible family drama on Judge Judy after Heraldo because that’s what’s on the channel and no one changed it.  We consume, yes.  But we consume deliberately.  And wasn’t that what the message of Walden was all about?  Living deliberately?  I’m sure that’s what Thoreau meant…

But I digress.

My point is this: the way NBC has the Olympics locked down is insanity.  There is almost no way to watch the coverage from my place without shelling out for cable.  You can’t even stream it online without a cable account!! Brian and I went on an epic journey on Friday night to buy a Roku, then went back to the store for the HDMI cable we forgot, then set up the thing and realized that even the places that said you could get all public channels in the US for free weren’t offering NBC unless you paid.  So we caved.

It was a frustrating night, to say the least.  But it ended with the two of us on the living room floor in a blanket nest watching the opening ceremonies, so that was alright.  In fact, it was nice.

The thing that tickles me most about this weekend is that I have a wonderful domestic husband who did all the chores while I laid on the couch and watched sports.  We have become the traditional American family, in reverse.  It will all go back to normal in a few weeks, I’m sure.  But in the meantime, I intend to enjoy the irony.  And the Gymnastics.

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A Troglodyte Cleric Romance

I often write little essays and sketches of moments that I put away and then find later.  I was sifting through the files the other day, and found this one. It made me laugh, and then I read it to Brian and he cracked up and said I should post it.  I thought, since Valentine’s Day was yesterday, that I would.  So here you go:


Sometimes he’s just so handsome sitting there that I can hardly help myself.  That’s how it was last night, he sinking into the plush couch in our living room, leaning forward, typing on his computer screen.  I have never been able to resist a writer.  He was only writing a new Dungeons and Dragons module, but it didn’t matter.  The greatest urge came over me to rub my face on his face.  There is something so compelling about the way he pushes his hand through his hair and leans back, lithe and deliberate.  When he realized I was watching, he looked up at me with a smile and made a place for me to sit next to him.

I tucked my head under his chin, and he took my glasses off.  He rested them on the pile of books next to him on the couch.

“How are you?” I asked, and then I kissed the underside of his chin.

“The module’s going well, I think,” he said.  He launched into an explanation that I hardly heard.   I could see every blade of stubble on his five-0-clock shadow, his long eyelashes, his deep brown eyes.   His jaw is so perfect, the pointed shape of it that gives him that crescent of a smile when he grins.  I thought about what his hair would feel like through my fingers; soft and stubbly in the back, until I rake a whole fistful of it near his crown, soft and longer.  He will roll his eyes back in sheer bliss if I do it, but I don’t want to interrupt him.

“I have the three main guys all written,” he said.  He held up three fingers.

I smiled, and then I leaned forward and kissed the third finger.

“No, no… you just kissed the Troglodyte cleric,” he said.

I grinned, nodded, and then kissed him near his ear.

“They have a stench, you have to make a fortitude save to get near him.”

I kissed him on his cheek.

“You can’t just go around kissing Troglodyte clerics you know,” he said.

I kissed him on the mouth, and when I pulled away we were both laughing.

“I’m on a roll tonight,” he informed me.

“I know you are,” I said.

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From the Text File

Sometimes I forget what Brian and I wrote to each other, and then I’m flipping through old texts for something else and I start laughing.  This gem is one I found this week, from when Brian went to get sandwiches before the Redlands Christmas parade.


Me: Are you alive in there?

Brian: Barely.  I’m still waiting for our food.

Me: Sounds good.  I just wanted to make sure you didn’t run off with some hot blonde in a Christmas sweater or something.

Brian:  Kettle cooked or regular?

Me: I prefer my blondes kettle cooked.  But you know, it’s up to you.

Brian: Umm…  I just wanted your chip order.


So basically, it’s never boring at home.  Also, I think I’m hilarious.



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Old Email Files


Brian and I e-mail each other back and forth at work.  It used to be more frequent, when we were both less busy, but quite a few silly things fly back and forth on the internets between us still.  I’ve saved most of the funniest ones in my email, and I was reading over them this morning.  Among many references to Baked Potato Day and odd pictures of bunnies, I found this gem from several years ago:

Me: Just so you know, we’re attending PBDA’s dance on Saturday July 2nd no matter what.  It’s Pete Jacobs Wartime Radio Revue, and they’re awesome.

Brian: Oh… I think I’m sick that weekend. Let me check my calendar… 😛

Me: I think it must me Jackass Fever… that’s what happens when you’re such a jerk all the time.

Brian: I think that’s a childhood disease. 🙂

Me: Yes, but you can get it when you’re an adult too.  It’s supposed to be way worse when you’re older, like Chicken Pox.

Brian: Chicken Pox, when you’re older, are called shingles. Jack Ass Fever, when you’re older, is called handsome.

Me: Thanks for that bit of trivia.  I had always heard it called Paininthepatoot, but that must be its Latin name.

Brian: No, you’re thinking of the condition where you have a great, big, ol’ stick up your butt. That usually only affects old people with lawns.

Me: It’s a good thing we don’t have a lawn, otherwise you would be highly susceptible.  Gasp!

Brian: Hey! I’m not old!

Me: Of course you’re not, dear.

Brian: Damn skippy. Now, as I was… wait… was that sarcasm?

Me: Of course not.  I would never be sarcastic to you.

Brian: Okay, good. Now as I was… wait a second… what was I talking about again?

Me: We were talking about how handsome you are.

Brian: That’s a discussion that could take hours.

Me: It really could.  I just wanted to say that you’re extra handsome when you take me out to see Pete Jacobs and his Wartime Radio Revue.

Brian: I am? Well in that case, we should go see them. When are they playing again?

Me: Saturday night, July 2nd 🙂

Brian: We are so there!

In closing, I would like to offer you two pictures of bunnies for your viewing pleasure.  This e-mail file is GOLD, I tell you.

unnamed image001

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This is mostly going to be a post of miscellany.  I have done nothing at all that’s exciting in at least a week, so I’m having a hard time coming up with ways to paint my life as exciting.   After all, isn’t that the point of a blog?  I’ve been following Neil Gaiman’s blog and I’m happy he’s back at it again.  I feel a small twinge of disappointment, though, every time I go to the site and there is not a new one.  So in that spirit, I’m just posting something anyway.

Brian and I had a lovely date night last night.  We ate salmon and eggplant Parmesan at Café Lucca on antique chairs.  Then we went to the movie theater in the building Brian works and watched a screening of The Great Gatsby (the Baz Lurman version).  I did not hate it, and I expected to loathe every minute of it.

The night started off with a lecture on green screening, then moved to the film itself.  It was hokey, over the top, and not historically accurate.  I abhorred the book and found myself wanting to slap sense into every one of the characters, even Nick.  I didn’t have the same impulse in the movie.  I had fun following the little seeded clues to the end, the realization of the green light and the importance of the fancy, custom car that seem like nothing but are ultimately plot points.  I liked the echoing of the candles when Gatsby and Daisy dance, the white flowers when they meet, and how both of them were present at his funeral.  I liked looking for green screen.  I enjoyed myself even though I didn’t enjoy the film, despite its beauty.

Applications are coming up sooner than I like to pretend they are.  That is what I’ve spent most of my week doing.  For better or worse, it will all be submitted fifteen days from now.  I’d better do re-writes on that sadistic statement of intent right away.  If nothing else, at least I won’t have to worry about pulling intents out of my bum and trying to make them sound pretty.  That has been the worst of grad school, by far.

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Brian is leaving me.

For the weekend to attend Anime Con in Los Angeles.  He’s running the D&D games, and a few of them he wrote himself.  He’s excited about it.  I will be lonely in my empty bed.  I will be forced to commute an hour and a half to Orange alone.

“I’m going to have to figure out what to do with you gone this weekend,” I said.

“Who is Yugon?” said Brian, very indignant.

“That’s terrible,” I said.

“Yes, I know,” he admitted.

But we both laughed anyway.

I have snuck a note into his shaving kit for him to find later.  It makes terrible puns about knocking ‘em dead and killing things in D&D, and it’s very loving.

I suppose what I’m really planning on doing is all the rewriting I’ve been avoiding for my grad school application.  I’m having one of those weeks where I am certain that I have no right at all to call myself a writer – just look at the drivel I’ve written –they will never accept me to grad school in a millennium.  I will be Denied.  There is no question.  It makes it hard to pitch in and slog through rewrites, even though I know it’s all in my mind.  I will go back to believing that I’m brilliant soon, I promise.  It’s just this week of weird weather and head colds that is getting me down.

But this weekend will be full of writing and mass quantities of Jasmine tea (overly sweet with sugar).  And then on Sunday, I will have a husband again.

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Of Chickens and Pies


Brian: Is that rooster on the billboard up there named Rex Goliath?

Me: Um, yes I think it is.  If we ever have a rooster, we should really name it Rex Goliath.  Not that we’ll ever have a rooster. 

Brian: Why not?  I want to own chickens some day.

Me: (revolted expression on my face) Why?

Brian: For the eggs, and stuff.

Me: But we hardly ever eat eggs.

Brian: But fresh eggs are extra good.  We’d eat fresh eggs.

Me: I don’t think we would.  I don’t think owning chickens is going to make us super prolific egg eaters.

Brian: Well, you could put them in pies. 

Me: Uh, why am I putting the chickens in pies?

Brian: Not the chickens, the eggs.  What the hell is wrong with you?

Me: (after several minutes of laughing) Lots, but I think that’s a bigger discussion than you want to have right now.  Besides, how many pies am I making?

Brian: I don’t know.  Enough to use up the eggs.  You could bake cakes too.  Like one a week or something.  We’ll move out into the country. 

Me: Unless you want to have a 600 pound wife, I don’t think that’s a viable option. 

Brian: You don’t have to eat them.  You could have a pie and cake stand, and give them out to all our country neighbors.

Me: Because we’ll have thousands of neighbors living in the country.  Also, why am I the one baking stuff.  I think YOU should start a pie stand in the country. 

Brian: Um, what?  I couldn’t possibly, because.  You… it’s your calling. 

Me: Uh huh.

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Red Head


I had been talking about dying my hair red.  I’ve been wanting  a change, and envying all the ginger tresses in my life, bottle-got or not.  “I’m really going to make the appointment,” I told Brian.  But then I didn’t do it.  I thought about the myriad of Graduation pictures I would be taking in a few weeks and thought, even if I like it, I won’t look like myself.  I decided to dye it the day after graduation.

Then, I thought about it a little more.  I’m no hairdresser.  My cousin just tried drugstore red to disastrous consequences.  I would have to go to a salon and pay vast sums of money to have it done.  Spending vast sums of money the first time would mean I had a commitment to uphold – a salon appointment every six weeks or so to get my roots done, investment in fancy shampoo.

It was too late.  I had over thought.  I was officially not dying my hair, although the yen for red had not faded.

“What do you want for your birthday?” Brian asked me.

“I want a Brian adventure,” I said.  This is when he plans something fabulous, tells me nothing about it, and I find out when we get there.

“Dress casual,” he told me.  “We’ll have lunch somewhere, and then we’ll go.  It starts at 4:30.”

I stuffed myself with tapas at Tu Tu Tango, and tried to guess where he was taking me.

“We’re going dancing, in the late afternoon, and I’m just dressing uber-casual for some reason.”

“We’re attending a comedy show that just happens to start really early in the day.”

“There’s some sort of class at the Botanic Gardens.”

“You’re taking me mud wrestling.”

“We’re cross country skiing, um… in the summer, so without the skis.”

“That’s exactly what we’re doing,” he said.  “Except that most people just call that hiking.”

“Fair enough,” I said.

I was not at all expecting what I got.  We pulled up downtown to my hair salon.  He booked me an appointment to become a red head.  He’s so good at giving me the kind of day I didn’t know I wanted more than anything else.

It’s been a strange change.  I have always been a blonde.  Any hair dye I’ve used has been to make myself more golden.  The first day, I loved it more than anything and couldn’t stop looking at myself in the mirror.  I washed it, re-styled it, and decided on the second day that I didn’t like it after all.  It was too much of a change, and who did I think I was anyway?  I’m not fun enough to be a red-head.

Today I love it again, more than I ever have.

On another note, Brian was hilarious in the Salon.  They have a little vacuum set in the wall where they can sweep the hair and it sucks it up.

“Oh my God, COOL!” said Brian, very loudly.  He was impressed that they had wine, too.  Before long he had helped pick a shade of red for my hair, and was getting the stylist to regale us with stories of hair color gone bad through customer idiocy.  We played Settlers of Catan on his tablet while we waited for the color to set.

“This is way better than my $12 a cut barber shop,” he said.  “And there are a lot of guys here too.”

“Male haircuts are $35,” said the stylist.

Brian coughed.

I laughed.  There’s a reason I used to only do this once or twice a year.  But now I’m a ginger, with a six week commitment.

Today, I’m loving it.

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Today, I graduate.  I have always been a believer that thanks and props should be public, especially when they involve Brian, and especially because the rest of our relationship is fairly private.  Without his support, this day would not have arrived.  Here is the contents of the card I gave him this morning:


There are many, many reasons why you are my favorite.  Your love and support while I completed my BA is just one of them.  I know it wasn’t always easy to pay bills, that our life stalled a bit, and there were whole semesters sometimes where we didn’t see each other.   For every fight you had with me about a paper, I want to thank you.  There were so many nights that your encouraging words were all that was between me and despair.

I will always remember the night we lit candles in the piazza with the incoming class, and the night we danced to the band at Senior Convocation, or the thousands of magical Chapman moments in between. Thanks for taking this journey with me, and for sacrificing while I took it.  I love you more than is expressible.


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