Mylifesamess's Blog

The Crappy Clarinet Diaries

Posted in anxiety, uncluttering by mylifesamess on 06/20/2011

I am told that I acted like a jerk to my mom yesterday while the family was out to lunch for Father’s Day.  No one said anything while I was there, but my boyfriend made a comment on it when we left the pizza place.  His was a brief comment, and there was no room for further discussion as we had driven separately and I was heading immediately up to my dad’s house to spend some time with him.

It had to do with an old clarinet.  It was the clarinet that my mom’s estranged father, my mom, and I learned to play on.  Here’s the issue : it’s a shitty instrument.  It was poorly made and difficult to play.  After three years, I moved onto a better model of clarinet, and then I got a professional model clarinet once I got to college and majored in music performance and education.

I suggested that my niece could disassemble it and reassemble it as a summer camp project.  My mother was dismayed by this suggestion, and let it be known that she would like my young niece could learn to play on it.  I quickly interjected that it wasn’t fit to play.  I then suggested that my niece could instead use my intermediate model instead if she wanted to play clarinet.  The conversation ended with my mom demanding that I return the old clarinet to her, assuming that since I had stated that it was a crappy instrument with no extrinsic value that I didn’t care about it and would trash it.  I think this caused me to get even more defensive and snappish.

A good portion of decluttering for me has been the process of letting go my usually misplaced sentimental attachment to objects.  That doesn’t mean, however, that I have given up, or ever will give up everything that is not useful to me.  The clarinet is a family heirloom.

I love going to antique stores and flea markets.  I find the objects there fascinating.  But, I really just don’t “get” antiquing.  I don’t understand paying a lot of money for an obsolete or unusable antique just for the sake of having it.  For me, there’s a component of pleasure in owning certain items, but pleasure of ownership usually isn’t enough for me to buy something.  There must be utility.  I understand the importance of preserving historic / older items that can help us understand more about the past, but beyond that, the mindset of antiquers is a difficult one for me to understand.

In that sense, I’m of two mindsets that blend in the middle, and because of that this controversial family clarinet will probably remain in my possession until I’m shipped off to a home or dead.  But, I’m not going to romanticize the reality of the object.  Yes, it would be a cool family legacy to have every generation learn to play music on the same instrument, but it’s just not feasible.  I’ve seen kids bring in old family instruments like my clarinet to music classes to learn to play, but they were in such terrible shape that the kids were basically doomed to fail and give up before they ever really got a chance to learn.

What bothered me the most, however, was that I was a jerk about it, and that’s what I’ve really been dwelling on.  I think I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m not a nice person, and I’m ok with that.  That may be an overstatement.  I’m not mean, but when people think about me, the first things they think probably aren’t going to be “She’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever met” or “What a sweetheart.”  I’m glad for that, because that’s just too much pressure to live up to.

I know there are social courtesies in place to check and balance general assholery, but I realized yesterday that sometimes, being an asshole is the truest to myself that I can be, and in that sense, I don’t regret it.  But, here’s the thing : you have to be justified.  You can’t be an asshole to someone without having a good reason to be an asshole.  So, that’s what yesterday’s interaction comes down to : Did I have a good reason to be an asshole?  And, I think the answer is…not quite.

My pride seems to have a life of it’s own and won’t let me come to rest at regret.  I keep mentally rehashing the conversation and trying to justify my behavior.  In the end, the situation just comes to settle in that grey area.  Do I let it go or do I apologize?  Letting it go would be easier, and I honestly don’t know if I can make a sincere apology.  And half-assed apologies are the worst.

I way overthought this.  I know.  It’s a habit of the highly emotional and anxious mind.

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