I cant think of a day in recent history when I less needed the kind of surprise I got.
Yesterday, my new boss, with only two weeks of experience as a store manager under his belt, decided to give me some tips on improving my department, of which Ive been the head for three years, including this gem:
You should probably try to work faster.
Thanks, Tony Robbins.
Then, my mom texted me, from California:
I am at the Dr. I just found out I have diabetes. Wow.
Teen Girl had something up her butt, sideways. When I knocked on her door to tell her about the crappiness of my day, she was annoyed with my existence:
I decided to sit, quietly, while on my dinner break from work, and pick out a few chords on the one thing I knew I could count on to make me feel better my ukulele.
Trust me when I say that Im no virtuoso. In fact, I fucking suck. I, someone with no musical experience, whatsoever, saved up and bought the tiny instrument last year, in a fit of creativity, but never picked it up. I mean, I hadnt so much as strummed it, even once. It lie dormant in my closet for over six months.
I would search for something, non-ukulele related, from time to time, and remember that it existed.
I should really try that thing out, Id think to myself. But wouldnt. I was trying out lots of new things, and couldnt bear to fail at one more.
Finally, I was asked to do a live storytelling/comedy/variety-type show with a fellow local creative. We discussed the show and what we each wanted to do.
Oh, and Im going to play the ukulele.
I didnt know you played the ukulele.
I had two months, and I vowed to teach myself to play this thing, completely foreign to me. Time went by, a venue was chosen, press releases were written, stories compiled, jokes created, ukulele NOT learned.
It started to feel like a cloud hanging over me, the ukulele in the closet. I know how Harry Potters aunt and uncle felt, having him in the cupboard under the stairs. Always with the existing, that thing! Finally, I sat down to try it.
I visited a hundred websites and watched a million YouTube videos with it in my hands, trying to figure out how to make it sing. I chose a piece with the least number of chord changes possible and set out, not to learn the instrument, but to play ONE SONG. Just one. To prove to myself that I could.
It was like magic. Stress melted, a smile appeared, and I felt like I suddenly spoke the same language as a million strangers. After all, music is the same all over the world.
Im probably only slightly better today than I was that day, back in January. And the live show came and went, without me feeling confident enough to include the ukulele. But, any time my anxiety climbed, I could pick it up and pick out my one song, whispering the lyrics, and feel better. Which is a priceless commodity in my world.
When I came home yesterday, and all the badness was tapping me on the shoulder, and the teen was slamming her emotional door in my face, I knew I had to pick it up.
But something was wrong.
It was wet. It was sticky.
It was filled with cat puke.
The vomit was dried in big clumps, and the wood was soaked through with whatever juices cats have in their stomachs. Pure evil, obviously.
I started crying, immediately. And tweeted, naturally.
My friend, Lara, who runs a wonderful blog, called My Milk Glass Heart, reached out and asked what was wrong. I was back at work and could only give the barest of details, lest I start crying again.
I went about my day, not being able to forget about my poor little uke, and how much I hated that cat. I hibernated for the rest of the night.
This morning, I had two curious text messages.
Check your twitter! Youre gonna get a new ukulele!
Just ordered your ukulele! Ill let you know when it gets here! People are awesome!
So, thank you, secret internet friends, who made this possible. And Lara, who is one of the kindest people I know.
I can now forgive the evildoer (which is good, because her bowl is empty and her litterbox is full), and get on with my life. Well, not yet. But soon.
Ill also be investing in a case, and getting my cat some help for her issues. I just know theres a cat whisperer out there, somewhere, dying to trade services for advertising space.
And, in case you wondered, my song is this, with much love to my friend Gina, at The Feminist Breeder: