Before you ask about it, some clarification: if you’re a diligent reader of this blog you may have noticed that I recently wrote and posted some odd quasi–anecdotes about some of my strange friends. You may have perused through and not really paid any attention to the categorization of those posts or the keywords stamped at the bottom. And then you may have thought, gee… Brad sure knows some weird people and why have I never met these folks or heard of them before? And again, before you ask about it, some clarification: as subtly stated on the metadata of these posts, they are fiction. I’ve been working on a little writing project to create some larger than life characters in the theme of exploring the writing of a personal mythos in the form of a series of tall tales. It’s weird, I know, but it’s just a writing exercise. What you might have read are just fun-house mirror personas and meant to purposefully exaggerate, mash together, and amplify along vectors of the imagination some of my real personal experiences, but they are ultimately fictitious and meant to be more faux than reality.
Exactly two years ago today the book I’d ordered for Miss C arrived in the mail and we started a three year epic project. We officially start lap three of “Q&A a Day for Kids: A Three-Year Journal” today, and when (at bedtime last night) I was asking her the question for May 4 I told her that we had finished two full years she got a look of panic in her eyes. “Are we going to buy another book when we’re done?” She asked. I shrugged and suggested that there may be one for older kids or teens or maybe just some other similar sort of project that we could pursue. “Yes.” She said flatly and with absolute conviction. So, parenting hack: your kid might complain virtually every day about something like this, but suggest that it might be coming to an end and their real feelings will burst out like a beautiful blossom of parenting awesomeness. I guess I’ve got a year to find our next book… or maybe just write my own.
It is supposed to be thirty degrees today. If you’re reading this from the US, I should note that I’m getting pretty tired of writing Celsius on the end of my temperatures so as not to confuse you further, so I’m officially phasing out my unit conversion service, trimming back the excess overgrowth and organic creep, just like I did in my flowerbed for and hour and a half last night. On hands and knees I clipped a good five centimeters of overreaching lawn from the edging around my tulip farm. With this and the other winter dead fall I filled nearly an entire composting bag… from one flower bed. It looks darn good, even though it has yet to fully emerge for the season, but it makes me realize just how much yardwork I have to do in the coming weeks to catch up. Can you believe we had ten centimeters of snow less than two weeks ago?
It’s the last Friday in April and before I start work for the day I thought I’d note that I’ll be ending it by pulling on a pair of sneakers, meeting up with my partner in crime near her office, and starting the latest season of the Commuter Runs. I think this is the third summer? I packed light for my day, left all the unnecessaries at home, hopped a bus (coincidentally joined by another runner, one of the new folks who also works downtown and who expressed an interest in the commuter run club) and made my way to the office. When the day ends, I’ll slip into my gear, leave my civvies under my desk (to be brought home on Monday) and boot up the Garmin. Sixteen klicks of post-work, pre-weekend run-bliss await. But now I’d better go earn it. (Well, as soon as I finish my coffee.)
After two months of mashing at Zelda: Breath of the Wild, I’ve made pretty good progress… but I still have plenty of work to do to finish the game. Sixty six shrines complete. Two sub-bosses subdued and two more on the verge of confrontation. Many of the sub-quests quashed. Master Sword owned. Wardrobe polished (though not quite maxed.) And of course the entire map unlocked. I’m going to keep pushing, of course, because it’s truly one of the most amazing video games I’ve ever played. But two things: spring might actually be here (fingers crossed) and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for the Switch comes out this weekend… so… there will be some hard choice to be made.
Did I mention that I’m keeping track of my practice? Ridiculous track. Obsessive track. I’m treating my violining like I treat my running. Log everything. Track everything. Math it up in ways never before seen in the history of mathing things. (Well, maybe not that nuts.) So, I just thought I’d make a note about some random stat. It’s truly meaningless for anyone but me, but it is an odd sort of confluence of numbers. As of today, I have logged exactly 140 hours and 20 minutes of violin practice since starting in September: 70 hours and 10 minutes of that was in 2016, and 70 hours and 10 minutes of that was in 2017. Even split. See… I warned you it was pretty meaningless.
I’ve neglected my photography lately. I admit it. I have this amazing camera sitting there and then I try to inspire myself to take more pictures, and it never really works out. The thing is, I always set these strict rules around challenging myself and then I bend them and then it flops and then I stop taking photos… so… fail. But here’s what I’m going to do. May has 31 days. I’m going to take 31 pictures (and post them here, of course). But there are no rules besides this: there needs to be a thread that connects one photo to the next, no matter how tenuous or how elaborately convolutedly explained by me, one photo needs to connect to the next. A palette, a subject, a shape, a mood… whatever. This is not daily. This is not themed. This is not even guaranteed to just be 31 consecutive photos taken and hastily posted on the afternoon of May 31st. It just is me kicking myself gently in the backside to take some photos. Hopefully nice ones.
I’m not sure if my lessons stop when the summer rolls round. (You’d think I’d ask someone about that important little scheduling point.) But if they do, it’s probably a good thing. Not that I want to cut out my practice when the weather turns more hospitable to evenings outside, but I can already see that hiding in the basement playing mediocre fiddle tunes is going have some stiff competition from bike rides and long runs and mowing the grass and walks in the wilderness. Either that or I’ll need to find a way to combine the two: sit on the front porch a play some Bach for the neighbours? That might be interesting.
Things were going pretty good for a week there. I fit in six runs over eight days. I pulled off a couple solo jaunts. I did a nice long fifteen klick tour with the crew. And I even did another (more) successful tempo. And then my sinuses decided that they hadn’t been infected in a while so promptly filled up with snot and left me in a cottonheaded daze on the couch for four days. Day five I played it safe and took an extra day of “I don’t trust you sinuses” rest, and now on day six I’m hoping I strong enough to get back into the rhythm. Lost… almost a whole week of training on a short schedule. Drat!
Every couple of years I do a coffee reset: I go cold turkey for a month or so and forego my ritualistic morning beverage, limit my caffeine to light teas, and struggle back to a baseline in an attempt to whatever levels help to de-jitter, de-stimulate my brain. It’s not anything magical: it’s just a biological balancing that I do when I hit a threshold of some personal bar of too-much-daily-intake. It’s been thirteen days as of today. And what I’ve learned in the last twenty-four hours is that a coffee reset and a daylight saving time switch do not mix. Glaaaaaaah!
I’ve started to mentally categorize my efforts to learn the violin into four groupings of music: (1) the student music, including all those short little foundational pieces that I play because they are part of my lessons and because they teach me technique. (2) the popular music, including the random “101 Disney Hits” and the “Film Songbook” sheet music collections that I play because they have piano accompaniment or because they are fairly simple and impress people who are eavesdropping on me practice. (3) the advanced violin music, like the Paganini Caprices which I’ve seen in these thick wads of paper that are more notes than white-space but which I haven’t bothered even thinking about yet. (4) the fiddle music which is on a equally technical but alternative fork from the advanced violin music, but which has some naturally built-in flexibility allowing for some leeway in the skill level required to make it sound passable. I’ve been letting my attention sway into the fiddle music zone lately, if only because it seems like the ultimate path I’m aiming for with this instrument. It also seems as though the type of thing where a handful of memorized songs, played modestly well, could fill a half an hour, give or take, of air time if I’m ever in one of those situations where, violin in hand someone says… “Well, then? Go on. Play.” In that vibe, I spent a few good hours memorizing some fiddle riffs over the last weeks.
Drew Barrymore is headlining this new Netflix horror-comedy series called “Santa Clarita Diet” and while I wouldn’t normally plug a tv show on this blog, I figure she was probably filming this a few weeks or months before the NYC marathon time frame and that’s just cool from an I’m-not-going-to-namedrop-too-much-more-about-actresses-i-met-in-central-park-really-honestly perspective. The show caught my eye in the sense that Netflix pushed it into my face enough times that I watched the pre-release trailer, and so because I’ve recently gained a newfound respect for my now-fav actress I gave the show an above average shot… and it’s actually pretty funny. I mean, it’s crude and there is excessive gore, but it’s a weird comedy suburban family take on a light zombie crossover thing. I don’t even know how to describe it. But I did watch three episodes back-to-back. Karin just hid her eyes from the blood spatter.