Thursday, December 28, 2006

There's really no need for me to ever leave my house again
I've got it all right here.

I haven't blogged in awhile. I've been lazy. And busy. I mean, it's been so long since I've blogged that when I logged in to blog tonight, I had to re-enter my password. I haven't had to do that in forever. Then it took me to a new version of Blogger, told me it needed to transfer my blogs from the old version to the new version, and then told me to come back later because it would take awhile.

Um, just how long have I been gone? New version of Blogger??

Anyway, it took so long to transfer my blog to New Blogger, I've lost the desire to blog tonight. But, I'll see what I can do...

Christmas was good. I acquired several key things that could quite possibly allow me to never have to leave my house ever again:

1. The family piano was moved from my parents' house to my house. This is the piano that my mom learned to play on as a kid. Then my sister and I learned to play on it when we were kids. This is the piano that was a torture device from ages 5 to 16, tying me to it (not literally, just figuratively) for hours upon hours of practice when I would rather have been doing ANYTHING other than practice. Unfortunately for me, I was a good piano player. Which meant I had to keep at it because I wasn't bad enough to be allowed to quit. If I had actually seriously practiced all those years, I could probably be some famous piano player person right now.

Well, maybe not. But if I had put more effort into it, I could probably do something with it now. Around the age of 15 or 16, the piano teacher I had at the time was like, "Eh, I've got nothing more to teach you." Granted, she wasn't exactly the most genius teacher I had throughout the years. I had a great teacher (Mrs. Stewart) that we had to leave behind when we moved after 8th grade. But after Mrs. Non-Genius teacher in highschool, we decided I'd given it a good run, she had nothing more to give me, and we left it at that. At the time, it was the freedom I had longed for. But sometimes, I wonder what more I could have done if I'd kept at it.

Really, I jest. The piano years weren't all that bad. "Practice" meant that we set the timer for 30 minutes and I sat at the piano waiting for the timer to buzz while I clanked a few keys now and then so that my mom could hear me "practicing". It wasn't actually "torture", and it wasn't like I was a child virtuoso being forced to practice 8 hours a day. I just always thought there was something I'd rather be doing for those 30 longest-minutes-ever a day. And if I happened to be preparing a piece that I didn't totally love, I just wasn't interested in perfecting it. Even though perfecting it meant I'd get to move on to another piece...

I was good, though. I just didn't have to work super hard at it to stay ahead of everyone else. I liked performing last at the recitals because the recital would start with the young kids, then move through the older kids, then end with the most accomplished students at the end. And that was usually me, or this other guy. And it was always an unspoken competition between us to see which of the two of us would be last to end the show. He was older than me, so technically he should have been better than me because he had been playing longer. But I still wanted to have the honor of earning the last spot in recitals. Truthfully, I hated recitals A LOT. But, I still wanted to be last. To make a statement, of course.

Anyway, this piano monologue has been significant to me because for Christmas this year, I asked for the family piano to come live at my house. Over the past couple of years, I've just really wanted to play. I haven't touched a keyboard in years. But a couple of weeks ago, my mom had the piano delivered to my house while I was at work. When I got home, I sat down and played for a couple of hours. For the first time in several years.

I was SUPER rusty. I didn't even know where to start, so I just opened up one of my books from my lessons and I started with something that had lots of pencil marks all over it. That was my clue that it was probably something I had played before.

My fingers don't work like they used to. But I am proud to say (and Mrs. Stewart, my awesome teacher that I had for years before the less genius teacher I ended with, would be proud to know), that I still have most of Maple Leaf Rag memorized.

And here's the story on that. Maple Leaf Rag was MY song. It was my go-to piece that I played in numerous piano competitions, including (yes, I'm a huge dork) a Ragtime Piano Competition. I rocked like only Scott Joplin could. In fact, I played this song so many times that eventually I could NOT play it with the music in front of me. I would get distracted by the notes on the page. And beyond that, I played it so much that I couldn't even look at the keyboard while I played. It became a party trick. Me playing this ridiculous song with my eyes closed.

(Um truthfully, if the party got to this point, it was because the party wasn't good. And I probably never actually did this at parties because I'm terrified of playing in front of people. I probably only did it in front of my sister and my parents, because it was funny for us. And probably for no one else.... and really I probably haven't really done it for them more than once.... I don't really know.)

And yep, it seems the only way I can still play it is without the music and without looking at the keys. When I sat down a couple of weeks ago, I started with the music, but soon did away with it and fixed my gaze on something other than my hands and the keys. My piano lessons used to consist of Mrs. Stewart taking the music away and covering my hands and the keyboard with a makeshift piece of cardboard so that I couldn't see the keys. This was to get me to FEEL the music and to quit thinking so much. It was genius.

And freakin' hard. But as a result, sometimes I play more accurately without the music in front of me. And somehow, that's strangely easier.

Anyway, I started piano lessons at the age of 5, and I distinctly remember sitting on my parents' bed and throwing a fit at the news that I would begin piano lessons, because I just wanted to play outside and not take precious time away from playing. For most of my years of lessons I treated them like I was being punished. But a couple of weeks ago I sat at the familiar piano, the instrument of torture for all of those years but that was now something I realized I have missed for a long time, and I played because I WANTED to play.

And it was awesome. Mom and Dad, um, thanks for all of those lessons. I'm finally glad for them.

2. I produced a CD. I used the new (old) piano, and my Macbook. And I recorded and arranged a song that my sister wrote in highschool, which I put on a cd for my mom for Christmas. It's pretty genius. And it was like hanging out with my sister again. We used to spend hours on her Casio keyboards doing silly stuff. This project reminded me of that, only it meant something and doesn't sound bad. Plus, I'm pretty impressed with myself that after years of not doing anything musical, within the past few weeks I get a piano and make a CD.

I mean, it won't be exacly topping the charts in 2007. But, I did give myself a Grammy the other day. Just because I can.

I guess I did do something with my piano skills after all... despite not practicing as hard as I could have way back when. Cool.

3. I got DVR. And more than 7 channels. I mean, I've only had DVR for 2 days, and it has already changed my life. I don't know how I lived so long without it. And I also don't know how I've lived so long without Hogan Knows Best and I Love the 90s.

Hulk Hogan is a genius, even when he's not wrestling.

4. I got an ipod. And again, I don't know how I've gone so long without one. I've only had it a few days, but it is GENIUS. Even video on that tiny screen? I don't even care that it's so small because I'M WATCHING SCRUBS ON AN IPOD... IN MY BED... WITHOUT A TV IN THE ROOM!!!!


So, as I sit here with my Macbook, DVR, ipod, piano, cellphone, and wireless internet - all of which enable me to satisfy just about any want, desire, or need without having to move more than a few feet in any one direction - I've realized that if I don't drink any water all day, I could probably go all day without having to get up from this spot on the couch. I've got more entertainment contained in one room of my house than I ever really need, all within arm's reach.

And then I realize that I've become something I've never really wanted to become - a tech junkie. I held off for years from upgrading my basic cable to something more than 7 channels. I mocked those who got DVR in lieu of the tried-and-true (and free) VCR that I have sworn by up until two days ago. I scorned those who needed 10 gigs of space on a portable music device to haul around every song they've ever owned in the off chance that they might want to listen to one particular song at any given moment. Seriously, I thought I was selling out when I got my 512 MB mp3 player last year.

It's all just so ridiculous. Why do we need all of these gadgets and bells and whistles? Yet suddenly, I don't know how I've lived without these modern conveniences. I've got 30 gigs of music space and I wonder if that will be enough.

But then I also realize that I don't know how I've lived without music I can make on my own, on an entirely non-portable, non-new, worn, well-used piano. Talk about space and available memory on all of my technology devices. The memories contained in that piano surpass all the available hard drive space and memory on all of my devices combined.

Funny how the old and new came together to make the CD I made for my mom for Christmas. And I carry the songs with me on my ipod to listen to whenever I want.

I can't believe my sister is on a cd. And on an ipod. She'd love it.

I don't really know where I'm going with all of this. I've just been struck at how the new fancy stuff that I've acquired over the past couple of weeks still doesn't quite compare to the value in our old family piano. I feel like my home is complete now. Something was definitely missing. And it wasn't the DVR.

If it's awhile before I blog again, or before you see me or hear from me again, don't worry. I'm just overstimulated in my home with all of my new (and old) gadgets.


PS: Don't worry, the puppies are great. They discovered wrapping paper over Christmas and they had tons of fun with that "new gadget".