Thursday, April 21, 2011

Maybe we've been playing too much Fruit Ninja on the iPad

I lie in bed and begin the nightly process of silencing my conscious brain. I was not gifted with the ability to sleep on command.

My dear, sweet Travis, on the other hand, is. In general, the instant his head touches the pillow, he's on his way out.

Many moons ago (like...maybe a year) I discovered that when Travis falls asleep, he doesn't go all the way under all at once, but remains for a while in a kind of limbo where he is both dreaming and able to respond to me if I talk to him. When we were dating--and sleepiness signaled the time for me to go home--it was a skill that served him well when he used to try to disguise the fact that he was falling asleep.

It was no use, though. Trav's entrance into the limbo-like state is always accompanied by lots of little twitches.

I confess that I am malicious enough to have made a game out of talking to Travis while he is in Limbo. Like I said, he's responsive. So sometimes, when I feel him begin to twitch, I roll over with an evil glint in my eye (not that anyone could see it, but, trust me--it's there) and whisper quietly in his ear, "What are you doing?" and he'll whisper back, "I'm trying out for the Olympics," or, "I'm running away from the cops," or, "I'm waiting for my kid to be born--don't freak out." (Personal favorite.)

Now that we're married, and I'm usually trying to fall asleep alongside my husband, I don't whisper, "What are you doing?" nearly as often as I used to. But every now and then, when Trav twitches so hard I worry he's had a seizure, I ask him.

So, I'm lying in bed, beginning the nightly process of silencing my conscious brain, when Trav--having been horizontal a total of one minute--twitches violently.

I can't resist. "What are you doing?" I ask.

"Mm!" he whimpers, as if dragging himself just enough awake to mutter a response.

*long pause*

"... Fighting a ninja apple."

(New favorite.)

Monday, April 18, 2011

It's My Blog, and I Can Vent if I Want To

In general, I don't consider myself a complainer. Anyone who's around me long enough (cough cough Travis) will get an earful every now and then. But, in general, complaining is not really my style, mostly because...hmm... WHAT GOOD DOES IT DO ANYONE?

This is my blog, however, and as I disclaimed in the title, I am entitled to a little complaining. Ironically, my complaint concerns complainers.

*phone rings
me: Orem Library, Media.

Lady: Yes, hi. We're trying to watch a DVD that we checked out and we can't get it out of the case. Is there some special trick?

me: Yeaaah... there's a red security hub that's keeping the disc in place. That's something you have to get taken off at the library.

Lady: Why don't the self check-outs have a sign or something that tells you need to get it taken off??

[me thinking: Oh no. Not another one.]

me: Well, there is actually a sign that pops up on the screen warning you about the hubs...

Lady: No. No there wasn't.

[me thinking: Oh there isn't, is there? You know that for sure? Would you stake your life on it? I've only worked here since they implemented the self checkouts, but I don't know a thing. I only know the ins and outs of this place. But don't take my word for it. Since you're so sure, you must be right!]

me: ... So, unfortunately, the only way to get that sucker off is to bring it back in and have us take it off for you. I'm really sorry. It's annoying.

Lady: Yeah, well, that's just great with gas prices at $4 a gallon.

me: Yeah, I'm really sorry.

Lady: Ok then. Bye.


I understand this lady's complaint, and I sympathize. It's annoying. It really is. And I've been in her place before. But the fact is, complaining to me about the price of gas (or rice in China, or whatever it may be), and being just a little bit proud and unreasonable, is not going to change the fact that she has to come back in and get the hub off. (Fact!) It's only going to make the whole process that much more annoying.

So here are the morals of my little diatribe here:

1. Stuff is annoying. Complaining about it doesn't help anybody, least of all the person you are complaining to.

2. Sometimes, you may swear up and down that you're right about something. But sometimes the fact is, you're wrong. Be humble enough to acknowledge at least the possibility.

3. Don't be a jerk to the people who aren't responsible.

Check that... just don't be a jerk.


Friday, April 15, 2011

A short post about guitar

I love being musical.

I took something called a Multiple Intelligences test for one of my classes today, and one of my highest ranking "intelligences" (or, how I make sense of the world) was Musical Intelligence.

Music just makes sense to me. Music totally moves me. So if I ever post music on my blog it's because it really meant something to me. I have long ago abandoned the notion that the same music that moves me will be just as wonderful to someone else, but sometimes I like to share a little something.

I've been a piano player for a long time, and this hard-earned skill comes naturally now. I look at a chord and the muscle memory in my hands knows exactly what to do without my thinking about it. My hand knows what shape it needs to make in order to play a fifth or a fourth, or a ninth. It's so effortless now that it's easy to forget the long road to mastery.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I started picking up guitar a little over a year ago. There is nothing like picking up a new, and totally different, instrument to remind one of one's humble musical origins. For what feels like the longest time, my hands have been at an utter loss what to do unless my conscious brain gives them direct orders. And there's the callouses, too. You cannot play guitar well unless you lose a little sensation in the tips of your fingers. Not too much, but enough to resist the urge to scream in pain every time you play.

Well, time has passed, and slowly but surely, I am acquiring mastery by degrees. I have mastered individual chords--meaning, I can play them without thinking about them or looking at my hands (for the most part). I can strum using just the right amount of pressure. I can finger pick simple tunes. And yeah, I can pick out other tunes by ear--laboriously, but I can do it.

Mastery takes so much practice. Sometimes, after a while, you just have to put the instrument away for a while and let things "marinade." Let new neurons form. And then, magically, when you come back to it, you've improved. Suddenly, you can play that riff from Stairway to Heaven with a little more ease and strength. Suddenly, your finger is strong enough to hammer on that note instead of picking it. Suddenly, before you know it, 24, 25 years old does not seem too old to pick up a new instrument.

Did you know that Martha Graham, one of the most famous dancers in all of history, did not take a single dance lesson until she was 22? That, my friends, is quite ancient by dancers' standards.

So anyway, to conclude this "short" post, I will post a video of the song I am currently working on. Things are going really well. I expect I will have mastered this song before too long. At least before I'm dead. Here's to hoping. And practicing.

"Autumn Leaves" by Eva Cassidy