I have Elton John on the radio and a really good cup of coffee. On the stove top, there’s a big pot of peeled potatoes waiting for their transition to mash and in the oven, so it’s protected from errant drafts, a batch of sourdough that I hope will rise.
The weekend ahead looks busy. I said I’d pitch in and help with a last minute work project, I’m going to play some ukulele and eat leftover pie with a friend in the north end. I need to finish up a writing assignment I got as a byproduct of a phone call about something else entirely. I have to pull photos for a print story for my column (it’s probably time for me to just own that I have a quarterly travel column in a magazine that you’ve never heard of). And get this, on Sunday, the band is shooting a music video in a loft loaned to us by some random guy on Facebook. No, really, we have a mutual friend somewhere. We’ve not figured out where, but it doesn’t matter, this generous guy responded to my call for space and said, “I just thought it would be fun to have a ukulele band film a video here.” I have a few things to wrap up related to the annual fundraiser I helped establish — it launches soon and there are details, details, more details.
But there’s a window right now, while the bread rises and the radio plays classic rock. And I wanted to take that time to say thanks for your support of what I do. Whatever that is.
I’ve been told that I need to stop saying that I’m lucky. That I should acknowledge that my peculiar flavor of success comes from persistence and hard work. I’m good with admitting that I do time at the keyboard (and the fretboard) and that the time accumulates into something that looks like hard work that has paid off. But 83% of the time, it doesn’t feel like hard work. It feels like someone dropped fairy dust into my pockets. And that through some kind of magic, I get to do… this.
People ask me to do things. Play music with them. Go somewhere and write about it. Look at some design work, give my opinion, and be paid well for the privilege. Teach writing. And I think, “REALLY?!” And “Thank you.” Sometimes I say absurd things to the husband — “Hey, I’m going to [crazy exotic location] for three weeks, okay?” and he says, “Have a great time, do you have everything you need?” Or, “Yeah, I expected you were going to call and asking about dropping all that cash on another uke. We talked about it before you left, it’s fine, remember?”
When I’m not too busy to think about it, I wonder when the reality police are going to ring my doorbell and say, “Uh, Ms. Mandel? No one gets to live like this. We’re here to put a stop to it. Here’s your assignment, you’ll start your soul sucking cubicle job on Monday. You have 72 hours to put your affairs in order. Sign here. Expect your shipment of panty hose and uncomfortable dress shoes by the end of the day.” It hasn’t happened yet, but it would not surprise me. I would wonder how I’d got away with this for so long.
Things are not exactly perfect. We could use better health insurance. Some people at my house would like a more stable employment situation. We are mediocre housekeepers and worse groundskeepers. But things are very, very good. And when I think about what makes it all hang together, in a string and bubble gum and toying with gravity kind of way, I end up here at my keyboard, looking at this, whatever this weird little blip in the online cosmos signifies.
I have an old friend who’s a ceramicist, an artist. I remember talking with him about flying once. “Sometimes, I think it’s the faith of the people inside the plane that keeps it in the air.” Now, there’s all kinds of science that explains to us why we can fly, but that didn’t make what he was saying make any less sense to me. And when I look at this, I think, oh, it’s only because I have you, readers, that my wheels leave the ground. I get to fly, and wow, do I ever fly, and I am sure, all the way down to my feet, that I get to fly because of you.
So thank you. And Happy Thanksgiving.