It’s a few weeks before Christmas.


Kim, my enthusiastic French horn teacher, has gathered all the Portland horn players she knows to play together in her garage.


In seven months, she will cajole me into joining the Rose City Pride Marching Band and I’ll debut at the Portland Pride parade in a set of fire-engine red coveralls and a matching bespoke crocheted yarmulke—(Yes, that is the proper spelling of the word)—I just don’t know this yet.


Kim calls the structure attached to her house a word that sounds like garage, but with an open A. 


She calls it “the gayrage.” 


And she chuckles every time she says it.


I like how much Kim laughs.


I’m the only student she invited to join in.


Everyone else is a “real horn player.”


I’m not putting myself down. 

I’m just being honest. 


A week ago, she said, “You’ll be lost a lot, so just play what you can. Even if you can only get one note out per measure, that’s great.”


It’s an honor to have been invited.


I keep telling myself that.












I cannot find the attribution for this cartoon.













On the floor, between each seat and music stand, is a washcloth.


I surmise (and later see people using it for this) that it serves the same purpose as the garbage can I use in my house when I’m playing.


The 12+ feet of the horn’s brass tubing creates condensation from the player’s breath, which becomes water, needing to be released.


I remind myself, “it’s just water, not spit.”


But it’s still kinda gross.












Everyone is warming up their instruments.


Their notes are higher, lower, faster, and fuller-sounding than mine. 


It’s true.

I am the weakest link.


At a pause, I remark to the group from my strength—being emotionally open and honest—“I’m feeling a bit of the awkwards, as I am clearly not as good as the rest of you. Just wanting to acknowledge it.” 


The woman with a blue sweater and hair in a tight bun remarks, “You don’t know that.”


I know she was just trying to tell me that it’s OK.

I know, intellectually, that she was trying to be compassionate.


But (again) I realize how awful it feels to be misattuned.












If one strikes a tuning fork, another one, tuned to the same frequency, will start to vibrate.


It’s kinda amazing.


Feeling like someone “gets” me — that always feels amazing.












Imagine a young Emmett, about three and a half — scared from his initial experience of a fireworks show — and me telling him, “Don’t be afraid: it’s just fireworks.


Misattunement stinks.












On the inside, too.


About a month ago, I looked at the number of people who had signed up for an in-person talk of mine and felt my heart sink. It was half the number I was expecting.


“Get over it. It’s amazing anyone shows up at all,” I hear an internal voice chastise.


That’s me not being attuned to me.


And that’s one I can do something about.












Like the higher, lower, faster, and fuller-sounding notes the others can play — it’s just going to take practice.



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