What Are We Doing Again?

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These words are so simple, and yet….

I can’t get them out of my head.  What does this mean?  The phrase takes me all the way back to high school English and teachers who analyzed poetry in particular,  but also pretty much every other written thing, to death.  I admit I liked trying to impress them with my twisted take on things.  I expect a lot of authors would have been totally baffled by the garbage we came up with that they never meant at all.

Anyway, I want to know what you think.  Please take my poll.

There are no wrong answers.  Probably there are no right answers either.  Thank you class.  No going home for you until you finish this.  I will mail you your marks.

 

 

Things That Last

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What do you see when you look at these two pictures?  This is the kind of thing that makes me go “Awwww….” because here’s a relationship that has survived a lot of years.  It looks like they worked at it and took care of it just as they also so obviously (to me) took care of each other.  And they are still together after all these years.  It’s very sweet.  I think they are very lucky.

When I saw this I smiled, and all these things went rushing through my head, so I flipped my I-Pad around to share it with W.  I thought he would make the same connections.

He stared at it with a frown for about three seconds and then he went on and on and ON about the car.  The make and model and year and paint job and tires and chrome and God only knows what else while I sat there in stunned silence.

When he finally wound down I said, okay, but what about the PEOPLE?  And he said, well, I guess they’re probably the original owners.

I guess they probably are.  I don’t know why I didn’t think of that.

Pictures and Pages and Seasons Oh My

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You might think, because of the nature of these book related pictures from various Facebook pages, that I have spent my entire Sunday reading.  But I haven’t.  I’m saving that for tomorrow, day two of two days off.   I’m part way through The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt, which is turning out to be a book with no end in sight.  Had to take a break.

What I’ve actually been doing today is making myself feel less sad about the fact that there are only two seasons of Downton Abbey available on Netflix by watching The Good Wife instead. I didn’t notice how many seasons there are to get through on that one, but I’ll take a serious stab at getting to the end of them.

It’s a hard life I know, but don’t worry,  I’m managing okay.

Intel and Espionage

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Although I say I never watch television, it’s not the whole truth.  For the second time, against my better judgement, I have been glued to Netflix the way I was with “Once Upon a Time” a few months ago.  This past couple of weeks it’s been “Covert Affairs” that has had me hooked.  And yes, I did watch the whole thing (well, as much as is available here on Netflix), episode after episode until the end of season three.  That is a lot of episodes.  And a lot of getting nothing else done and being annoyed that there were actually other things I should be doing.   Like going to work and eating and sleeping.

If you don’t know this Annie Walker, I think you might like her.  She’s a CIA operative who can do just about anything a man can do, but she does it all in high heels.  How impressive is that?  Her empathy is both her biggest strength and her greatest weakness.  She dodges bullets, tells lies, accomplishes impossible missions, solves puzzles and always breaks the rules.  My kind of girl.

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Okay, thank God season four isn’t on there yet.  I’ve started having dreams about high-speed car chases and double agents and people running around in airports.  You think they’re just late for their flight, but no, think again.  They are spies.  Or with the FBI.  Or some foreign intelligence agency. Once you get this, you may never want to fly again.  Or leave your house.  Or trust a stranger.

It’s unfortunate that some of my favourite characters have disappeared or been blown up in cars or shot dead in kitchens, but that’s how Annie’s world works. I hope Netflix decides to get the next two seasons so I can be immersed in her world again sometime.  Sleeping is highly overrated in comparison.

Music Lessons

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365 Days of Writing Prompts from WordPress:  Tell us about a teacher who had a real impact on your life, either for the better or the worse.  How is your life different today because of him or her?

My mother bought a second-hand upright piano when we were kids and announced that all of us were going to take lessons and learn how to play it.  I don’t remember being given a choice about that, but we embarked on the process willingly enough.  Music lessons must have been something my parents discussed and dad agreed to simply to make mom happy, although even buying the piano would have been a major expense for them and certainly was not a necessity.  Like all good parents, they sacrificed to give their kids opportunities.  And like all kids everywhere, we did not always appreciate the things we had to do for our own good.

Mr. Rhodes was short and round and serious and I never saw him dressed in anything but a suit and tie.  He had black brush cut hair, big dark rimmed glasses and a stern and scowling look, but he was, underneath all that, a gentle man.  He played the organ at our church and his wife was our choir director.  She was also an Avon Lady, and he was a high school industrial arts teacher who taught music in his spare time. They lived in a little white stucco house near the high school and although I must have visited it a hundred times, all I remember is the tiny living room with a table chock full of Avon stuff and the piano lesson room around the corner where I would sit on a hard bench for an hour at a time in the interests of obtaining a well-rounded education.

From the first lesson he had a lot of patience with me.  I had none at all with myself.  Much like how I wanted to be able to read books after a couple of weeks in grade one,  I expected to be able to play the piano well and to do it quickly without a lot of effort.  I wanted short cuts to mediocrity.  He was more bent on slowly fostering and developing an appreciation and a love in me for all things musical.  Music delighted him.   Lesson after lesson he painstakingly taught me how to read the notes on the page, the proper fingering and hand positions, and a lot of boring stuff about dead composers and sharps and flats and major and minor keys and keeping time.  I thought all the practicing would kill me so I did as little of it as possible.

Despite my best efforts to merely survive the tedium, a lot of knowledge sunk in and eventually some talent oozed out.  He told me I was one of his best pupils, although now I think he was being rather generous with his praise.  I did get very good at sight-reading, sitting down with a brand new piece of music in front of me and playing it through without difficulty.  But I never felt like interpreting what was written into anything beautiful or sad or joyous with feeling and real emotion.  Watching a concert pianist play something classical and emote all over the keyboard with closed eyes and a rapturous face made me extremely uncomfortable.  I had no ambition whatsoever for that to ever be me.  When Mr. Rhodes would wave his pencil in the air and cry “Dolce!  Pianisimo!”  in the middle of a piece,  I would often just bang away all the harder to drown him out.

Less dedicated teachers might have thrown up their hands, but he looked for ways to encourage and motivate me.  He went out one day and bought me a big music book full of John Philip Sousa marches and told me to take it home and play my heart out.  Suddenly music was a beautiful thing.  Our piano took a real beating for a while after that.  Grandioso and fortissimo were definitely my thing.  I was never what anyone would describe as a loud or forceful person, but for whatever reason, playing the piano brought that out in me.

My brother got to quit the piano lessons when he’d had enough of them, and one of my sisters decided she wanted singing lessons instead.  I often said I wanted to stop, but I could see how much it meant to mom for me to keep going.  And Mr. Rhodes pronounced me almost good enough to take my grade eight practical and theory exams if I chose to work a little harder.  So I kept going for music lessons longer than I ever expected I would, with no real plan for ever putting them to any use.

You may find it strange to learn that I went on to play the organ at church after taking lessons on that instrument as well, and adding deep bass foot pedaling to my repertoire.   I learned to do soft and quiet background pieces, slow and funereal dirges, the kind of soothing music that can put some church goers to sleep.  But I lived for the glory hallelujah Onward-Christian-Soldier marching hymns putting fire in everyone’s soul, never mind leaving a lot of the older parishioners a little breathless and blue in the face.

My music teacher had a heart attack and died in his backyard on a summer afternoon when I was halfway through high school.  I don’t know if there were any warning signs but that wouldn’t have changed the fact that it was sad and shocking news.  I never got to tell him how bad I felt for not passing the music exams, although I brushed it off as totally unimportant at the time.  I did tell everyone I didn’t want to take them but they urged me on so I went through the motions in my usual lackadaisical fashion.   Even though I knew how disappointed he would be if I didn’t do well, I didn’t work hard enough and I’m sorry for that.  I passed the sight reading part with flying colors though. That was the only thing that impressed my examiners.

How is my life different because of him?  Well I didn’t really have much of a life going on before he and his piano were in it, so I can only imagine how different it would be without all my miscellaneous musical knowledge.  It drives me nuts to hear wrong notes and anything played or sung off-key.  I can still look at a piece of music and read it and hear it in my head.  Maybe I could still play it, but these old hands are certainly out of practice.  We couldn’t be hauling a piano all over the place when my kids were growing up, so they never got to be “Rhodes scholars” like me.

I’ve heard people say they wish they’d kept up with their music lessons, but I don’t mind that they stopped for me when they did.  It was never one of my passions.  I’m simply happy to have known someone who loved it all so very much.

365 writing prompts

Set Free

 Ondřej Žváček, Wikimedia Commons

Ondřej Žváček, Wikimedia Commons

That was the end, the first time I saw the real you.  Dawn breaks on a dark night.  The sad, the bad, the harsh cruel lies.  All of it done.

That was the day you set me free.

 

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Trifextra Week 100:   a 33-word response to the following snippet:  The first time I saw. . .

Here’s the catch: all of your 33 words must be one syllable each.  We’re going low-brow on your this week.  Or not.  Can you class it up under these restrictions?  Give us your best.
To clarify, we are giving you 5 words.  We want another 33 from you, for a grand total of 38.

Not Playing Favorites

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365 Writing Prompts January 6 – My Favorite:  What’s the most time you’ve ever spent apart from your favorite person?  Tell us about it.

I’ve got as many different favorite people in my life as there are reasons for having them so it’s not possible to come up with some finite time period to describe to you.  Who keeps track of that kind of stuff anyway?  An hour can feel like forever and years can pass by in the twinkling of an eye.

If there’s anything I’ve learned in this life it’s that everything changes.  A high school teacher once told us, after a train accident (of all things) had taken the life of one of our classmates, that this was the time in our lives when we would start to experience the grief of death and loss, and that it would continue to get worse as we got older.  Imagine that, life being even more depressing after high school.  It starts much sooner for some of us of course, when a beloved grandparent or uncle or simply someone we assumed would always be around is suddenly physically gone.

But here’s the good thing about that.  If we remember them, they never really leave us.  Everyone we’ve ever met becomes a small part of who we are.  I miss the physical presence of my mother but in every other way she is still with me.  I think she will be inside me for eternity, in my head and in my heart.  Maybe my eternity will last eighty years, or maybe it’s already into eons if my soul is as old as I’ve been told. That either matters or it doesn’t.  Does time have to be measured?

Another thing I’ve learned is that the only one who will for certain be with me for the duration is me.  I am the common denominator in this great math problem known as my life.  So that should make me my all time favorite person and either a raging ego maniac or someone simply comfortable in her own skin.  I can’t get away from myself, no matter what role I choose to play. Might as well like who I am with all the labels stripped away.

A casual friend tried to convince me once that the absolute worst and most feared state we face as human beings is to be alone.  She is that person all of us have bumped into at some time or other who asks for our opinion so that she can go on and on at great length explaining to us why it is not only wrong but also stupid.  I think that explains why we’re not really close.  When I was silly enough to mention that I love my alone time, she just said, no, you don’t.  Inconceivable that anyone could be on their own and happy about it.

Being alone was actually preferable to her company right about then, although I think she would have found that idea preposterous.  Just a guess.  But I do like my own company, I like the quiet and the stillness and how relaxed I feel when I’m being perfectly me with no one to impress or entertain or piss off with my dumb opinions.

If you have a favorite person and you hate it when that person goes away, that’s okay, but it’s also not something to get obsessed about.  Things change.  If that person never comes back, you will go on living.  The hole in your life will fill back up and even though it will never be the same, it can still be good.

Well, is that enough blather for today? Enough of me talking to myself and wishing I would shut up already so I can go read a book or something?   I think that’s a yes.  See how agreeable I am?  I love me.

365 writing prompts