Cross THAT Off the Bucket List

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I’ve been playing musical instruments since 4th grade, starting when my mom brought me back a little silver fife from Williamsburg, Virginia. I played it for hours. My brother Sean, a first grader at the time, tried to play his but he couldn’t and said it was “stupid” and “girly” and then I had two fifes.

(He would later go on to be a fantastic trumpet player that could hit the highest of high F’s after not playing for a year, but gave that up for FOOTBALL…)

I played flute in 5th grade, then Mom then dusted off her clarinet and I started playing that in 7th. I couldn’t stop practicing, I loved it so much. I would tape myself on a cassette recorder (for the youngins, it was something we old-timers used to record music with) playing one part, then rewind and have a duet with myself.

Good times.

I played all through high school, then packed the clarinet away before leaving for my freshman year at Kent State where I was majoring in elementary education.

That year, I was MISERABLE without playing.  After 6 + years of playing my clarinet, I missed it, but what could I do? I was too shy and figured everyone at the music building were Juilliard caliber players.

Then it happened.

I heard the soundtrack to “The Little Mermaid” and decided right then and there to change my major to music. I went home, got the clarinet, and practiced in the dead of night at the music building so none of the music majors could hear me in case I sucked real bad.

I auditioned, made it into the school and got a scholarship to boot. I was so excited to change majors.

I met my best friend, Diane, the 2nd day of my sophomore year, the fall of 1991. I walked into the band room, and had NO clue where to sit. You have no idea how terrifying that is…everyone knew everyone, and I was freaking out that I would accidentally sit in the flute section, the HORROR.

Thankfully, Diane recognized me from our clarinet class the day before, and yelled: “Hey, come sit by me!” I loved her that moment, and 24 years later we are still best friends.

In college, I played clarinet, then became the Eb clarinet player (it’s like a piccolo clarinet) for the school. At least I played it for most of the pieces, unless a greedy clarinet grad student took my part because there was a great solo in it. BUT I’M NOT BITTER.

I’m still bitter. 

With all the opportunities,  I wasn’t satisfied with just playing clarinet, I needed to play everything I could get my hands on. Luckily I was indulged greatly by the music faculty, and during my years as a music major I played: piccolo, flute, alto flute, bass flute, oboe, Eb clarinet, Bb clarinet, Bass clarinet, contra-bass clarinet, alto, tenor, and baritone saxes, and accompanied soloists on the piano.  I was the person that played what no one else wanted to.

One thing I really wanted to do, though, was direct sing. I thought I had a decent voice, but was so unsure of it that I botched all of my singing auditions in high school. One time, I pretended to have a cold when auditioning for “My Fair Lady” and ended up getting the role of a MAN with 3 lines.  My singing was then limited to a few karaoke sessions at dive bars but only after a few wine coolers.

Hardcore.

I eventually sang in church for a few years, but was always uncomfortable. I decided that one day, I would find the opportunity to sing with a band and belt out something before I die.

Then the community band director mentioned needing a vocalist for “Blue Moon.” In a rare moment of “OMG I WANT IT, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE LEMME HAVE IT!” I asked if I could audition right there. He looked startled and had an “oh-crap-what-if-she-sucks-then-I’ll-have-to-figure-out-how-to-say-no” face, but he let me, and next thing I know, I’m in.

I made it!

So the concert was June 20th, and I got up on stage in a middle school auditorium and sang my heart out. I was not even a little bit nervous, and I’m not sure why. Before a clarinet recital in college I would be ready to hurl 3 seconds before going on stage then break into uncontrollable yawning.

Not this time. I had a lot of friends and family come to see me. The best parts were my husband waving to me like a goober from the very back of the room, my twins yelling: “That’s my mommy!”, and my own mommy beaming at me from a few rows from the front. (She told everyone afterwards: “This is my BABY!”)

Scratch that off the bucket list.

I need to get started on my other items, such as finishing my novel and making millions of dollars, meeting Jon Stewart, and getting my 5 year olds to wipe their butts consistently.

That last one is going to be a doozy!

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Antique bellybutton lint? Sold to the CarrieLouWho in the corner!

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I found out something about myself.  I have a deep, dark place inside I never knew existed that cannot be let loose, cannot be let out alone, and cannot be handed a checkbook.

I have auction sickness. And it’s bad.

Real bad.

My in-laws are antiquers.  I think that’s the word for it.  I’d call them “pickers” but I might get slapped, that might be the new trendy faux-reality TV word, I’m not sure.  Whatever they are, they are good at it, and occasionally they come across some neat things, and Mr. Who and I go to an auction to check them out.  We rarely buy anything because we have no idea the value of things.  What I think is worth $5 goes for $500 or $300 goes for $1, so, in essence, I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing.

Recently, a man who lived in his mom’s basement was selling a plethora of instruments.  CarrieLouWho kinds of instruments; wooden recorders, Japanese stringed instruments, snake charmer instruments, Native American flutes, you name it.

I wanted them. For the right price, which wasn’t much. I wasn’t going there to spend a lot of money.

I really wasn’t.

But then, something terrible happened.

I was given a number.

They started holding up things I needed, and they weren’t even at the instruments yet!  A box of crystal? Well, darn it, that’s pretty, and what a bargain! I might need that! I excitedly hold up my arm to point, while Mr. Who, and Mr. and Mrs. Who-in-Law tackle me and throw me to the ground reminding me to NEVER raise my hand in an auction house unless I want to buy something.

I dust off my coat, put my hair back in place, and sit back down with an ice bag on my jaw from Mrs. Who-in-Law’s right uppercut and sit there like a good girl.

But oh man, there was a wicker corner table, and a box of rocket pieces, and huge wicker giraffe that Twin A the Burly would love to tackle and break into tiny pieces and OH MY LORD I NEED THAT!

Mr. Who’s hand gripped my shoulder tightly, and he gently moved in to give me what I thought was a kiss and instead I hear: “CarrieLou, don’t make me take that number off of you.”

Defeated, I sit back and finish my auction house nachos, looking excitedly at all the things I couldn’t have but desperately needed.  Kites that flew YOU, velvet paintings, guitars, and glass pieces I always thought were ugly when my grandma collected them (R.I.P. grandma).

Then my instruments were up.  It was my turn, I finally got to hold up my number.  I had a set price in my head and was ready.  I had a straight poker face, and held up my number like a good girl.

But, what was this?  I was being bid against?  What?? Oh HELL NO! I bid again, and again, and again.  Mr. Who is trying to hold my arm down, and my head is screaming: “FORGET THE BUDGET!!!!” but the first instrument had to be let go or else I’d be tackled again.

I stop, use my inhaler, and wait. Next instrument, and I am ready, and OH! OH! OH! OH!….I WIN!!! YES!!!!!

It’s all I can do to not run up and down the aisles Rocky style.  Mr. and Mrs. Who-in-Law are whispering to themselves, most likely reminding each other to never, ever, ever bring me along again.

I win the next few sets of instruments, get into a few more battles, but I got most of what I wanted. I am drained, exhausted, and a little bit broke.

It’s been decided that I shouldn’t go to another auction for a while.  I get the sickness too easily.  “Want-itis” comes on faster than normal, and it’s hard to contain. I’d probably buy someone’s granny for the right price if I got too excited.

“Hey now, folks, we have here an elderly woman with one broken hip, a walker, mostly white hair, and dentures.  She bakes a mean chocolate walnut cookie, and smells like Red Door. Let’s start the bidding at ONE HUNDRED!”

OHHHH ME ME ME!!! You never know, we might need one!

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