Saturday, August 22, 2009

Still Not Finished...

I don't know what possessed me to hand-quilt all 240 individual triangles....

And oh yes, I see the mistake.  Whoops.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Happiness Project: Guitar Lessons

I finally did it: last month I borrowed my dad’s guitar and started taking lessons. After years of thinking about it, and years of listening to almost every boyfriend I’ve had twang away, I decided it was high time I learned myself. I was reticent about making the time commitment, concerned that it would take time away from my other creative endeavors (not to mention work and some semblance of a social life), but in the end my curiosity got the better of me. Truthfully, I thought it would be easy – partly because of my experience with other instruments, partly because almost every guy I dated played guitar and was constantly telling me how easy it was, and partly because I know a number of people who taught themselves how to play.

Imagine my surprise then to discover that learning guitar is one of the hardest things I’ve ever tried to do. Just learning the right way to hold the instrument was difficult for me, and after 5 lessons I’m still struggling. The fingertips on my left hand are developing strange calluses, which sometimes hurt and sometimes don’t feel a thing at all (which can make typing a whole new experience…). I’ve struggled to learn 5 basic chords, and my pinky finger is still pretty much useless. I practice in my bedroom, with the air conditioning on, hoping the neighbors can’t hear me. I’ve already broken one electronic tuner (dropped it on my sister’s ceramic tile floor), and my dad has already replaced the strings (the original 13-gauge strings were almost literally chewing up my fingers). And I get incredibly frustrated when I can’t quiiiite get things right. I'm used to being able to pick things up pretty quickly, but clearly I am no guitar prodigy.

That all said? I really love it, and wish I’d done this years ago. First of all, I feel like I’m challenging myself in a completely new way, and as frustrating as it is, I think it’s good for me. Second of all, it’s making me remember how important music was to me as a child/teenager, and I’d forgotten that. Third, practicing means there is at least half an hour a day that I am totally concentrating on something that prevents me from mulling about work, or anything else that might be stressful. It's weirdly meditative in that respect. Fourth, it's causing me to listen to music a bit differently, especially acoustic musicians like Patty Griffin and Ray LaMontagne, who are amazing guitar players. The idea of being able to play their music someday is actually pretty inspiring, and frankly? I was due for a bit of inspiration.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Knitting Makes The World Go 'Round (but my dad holds it together with coat hangers)

This weekend a health issue cropped up - but because it was 6:30 on Saturday evening, my doctor had me go to the emergency room to get checked out.  While I was waiting for the results of my lab work and ultrasound, I pulled out my "train knitting" from my purse to pass the time (which, being an ER on a Saturday night, was considerable).  At one point, an older lady from the housekeeping staff came by to empty the trash and noticed that I was knitting.  In very broken English, she asked me what I was knitting and then told me about how, years ago, she used to knit for her children - hats, socks, sweaters, you name it.  Her entire face lit up when she started talking about her knitting days - it was literally like a switch had been flipped- and she left my little cubby area smiling to herself.  For me, lying there by myself waiting to find out if I had a blood clot -well, let's just say it was nice to have a friendly conversation.  And I love how knitting in public (there's nothing really PRIVATE about an ER...) allows you to stumble upon kindred spirits, people who know exactly the sort of joy that comes from creating something both artistic and serviceable with just ones own hands, a couple of sticks, and some string.  (It also gets you  really strange looks from some non-kindred spirit people, but that's for another day.)

I turned out to be perfectly fine, so the next day found me on my way to the movies with my niece and nephew.  We got to the end of the driveway when my car started making a horrible sound.  Luckily, my dad was still in town and at the house, and after 15 minutes of fiddling he had turned a metal coat hanger into a muffler clamp and we were on our way.  I swear, he's like MacGyver...except he looks a lot more like Alan Alda than Richard Dean Anderson.