Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Mowing the Lawn

I think mowing the lawn should not be allowed until the temperature is warm enough that you don't have to wear a jacket. There's just something about mowing with long sleeves on that's not right. If I have to spend half my day sitting on a big machine, going back and forth, back and forth, getting dust in my ears and eyes, at least I should be getting some rays, don't you think?

The trick to mowing, I've discovered, is working the yard down to a neat little (or not so little) square. Once I've gotten the "rough edges" taken care of, I don't mind the going back and forth part so much. In fact, it's not bad at all. It gives me time to think--uninterrupted time. So I figure I might as well take advantage of the roaring of the engine, which seems to lull out the rest of the world. Come to think of it, I suppose I do need some time to sort out my thoughts... Deeeeeeep thoughts... problem-solving thoughts... rehearsing conversations I would like to have... or replaying ones I wish I'd never had... ahhhhh, the fresh scent of cut grass... don't run over that dog poo... watch out for that muddy spot... Yes, there must be a million zillion thoughts running around in there, free at last.

The only down side to mowing (besides having to do it wearing long sleeves, of course), is the nagging premonition that it's going to have to be done all over again in a few days, and probably at an inopportune time. Well, I can always use a couple more hours to unscramble the problems of the world--or at least, my world.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Piano Lessons

I was just thinking about those awful piano lessons I used to take as a kid.... I absolutely hated them! Looking back, it's no real surprise as to why I loathed them so. The fact is, I never actually took the time to practice the songs in between lessons. So when "piano lesson day" arrived, I wouldn't know how to play the songs I should have been practicing all week and, therefore, perfected. Panic would hit me about 30 minutes before we headed to Mrs. Powers' house. So I would sit down at the piano, yank open my "John Thompson" book, and for those precious few minutes, try to decipher what the notes should sound like. Never seemed to work though. "Looks like you need to keep on practicing this one," she would say. (No big surprise.)

But, oh! The worst thing about piano lessons was... (you guessed it) the dreaded piano recital. I didn't just hate them. I was terrified of them! How was it that I was always the kid who got stuck with something really hard?! Seemed like all the other kids got to play "The Spinning Song" or "The Entertainer", while I got stuck with "Etude in E Minor". What kid in their right mind wanted to play "Etude in E Minor"? After all, I didn't even know what an "etude" was, for Pete's sake! There was one recital in particular, though, that took the proverbial cake. The memory itself still gives me a shiver....

I'd been practicing my extremely difficult piece--a piece that no child should ever be forced to play--for weeks. When the day arrived, I tried to calm down the herd of butterflies in my stomach before heading over to the always-icy-cold municipal building. For some reason I felt like I needed just a few more weeks of preparation, but it was too late for that now. Soon my name was called and I nervously walked out toward the giant piano that sat arrogantly in the center of the room. (I tense up even now as I imagine the sound of my shoes click, click, clicking across the floor toward my doom.) There they all sat: endless rows of proud parents. What felt like a thousand eyeballs glared at me, silently waiting--not so much interested in hearing "Etude in E Minor", but rather "The Spinning Song" or whatever it was their child was going to play. But first they would have to endure my piece.

I took a deep breath and placed my quivering hands on the keys. I played a couple of bars and started to loosen up. "I think I'm gonna make it...." And then it happened. About half way through the etude, I hit some bizarre chord that is unknown to anyone in the music world. The sound of it made my whole body cringe and my heart freeze. "What was that?!" I thought. So I went back a couple of measures and tried it again. "CLANG!"--another wrong chord! A knot formed in my stomach, sweat beads popped out on my head, and my mouth felt as dry as a desert. What to do now?! Back two measures... "CLANG!" ... "Oh, my gosh! Get me out of here!" My mind was totally blank and it was as if I'd never played the song in my entire life.

Thirteen horrifying times I went back two measures before hitting yet another wrong chord. (I didn't even know that many wrong notes existed.) Time slowed to a drip and the etude seemed to have dragged on now for at least an hour. I don't remember how, but I finally ended the wrecked masterpiece, took a small curtsy and made a dash for the side door.

Humiliation can't begin to describe how I felt in that moment. I just thought I hated piano lessons before that day! Suddenly, I didn't care if I ever played another song as long as I lived. Do I have to tell you that I quit taking lessons shortly after the recital? I didn't think so. If only I'd had a love for the piano way back then like I do now... Perhaps I would have approached it a whole different way. I like to think so, anyway.

Surprisingly, I eventually did take up the piano again--many, many years later. I'm quite sure I owe many thanks to my old piano teacher, Mrs. Powers, and to Mom for dragging me over there week after week. I'm just glad I will never, ever have to play at another one of those gut-wrenching piano recitals again as long as I live.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Wasting Time

Some days I feel like such a time waster. I piddle around doing a little here and a little there.... nothing really. I get on the pc and the next thing I know it's four hours later. Who does that??? I have great intentions, but time just seems to slip right past me like sand through my fingers. It's not that I don't have anything to do--quite the contrary! But yet I get caught in cyberspace and float out there somewhere into a timeless zone. And when I 'come to', I realize that the day is almost over and nothing has been accomplished.