Back to the Keyboard.


Grand piano guy at Washington Square Park

It’s Sunday at noon and I’ve been in the library for about an hour already.  I don’t know how I’m supposed to concentrate when there is so much blue sky outside the window, but I couldn’t bear to go down into the bowels of Bobst, where there is no sense of time and even your directional orientation is only a trick of architecture.

Today is reverently cloudless.  The kind of blue that reminds me of summer days in California when I used to roam through the dead canyons to the strawberry fields, or cross the tiny trickle of a creek that ran adjacent to our disgustingly uniform housing development.  There is an idyllic quality to my memories of California now, not just for the gorgeous stoop of flowering trees or the joys of being fifteen and surrounded by the most friends I’ve ever had in my life, but because my parents were still alive then, and my sister and I shared a room with sky-blue walls and secrets.

We had an old Yamaha piano that none of us could play properly, but I don’t think I can separate the sound of my sister practicing on it from any part of my childhood.  Pachelbel was just making a comeback and I wasn’t yet sick of hearing her play it.  Music from the Amelie soundtrack was another favorite: so cool and French, an escape from the unrelenting cheerfulness of life outside.

Pianos.  I can’t get away from them.  My mother, apparently, took lessons specifically while I was in the womb.  She remembered as little from them as I did.

I miss her.  I miss Dad, too.  I miss Dad in a different way: because it has been longer, I guess.  Because I never felt like he hung around much more than his allotted two weeks afterwards.  But I miss driving with him at night: our paper route that wove among those haciendas lit up in the darkness.  I miss seeing Calavera at night, with its massive hill overlooking a city turned into fairy lights.  I miss making up stories for them.  I miss Dad driving in the dark, 10 miles an hour as I tried to hit driveways but miss cars.

There was one night when, going down Chestnut, we stopped at a stop sign for thirty seconds too long.  “Sorry,” my dad said finally, shaking his head.  “I was waiting for it to turn green.”

Take me back to those days please, when I was a bookishly smart teenager with the universe’s nerdiest glasses perched on my nose and two parents and a sister and played the cello badly and was on the JV academic league and paid no thought to life after debt other than maybe having unreasonable aspirations of being an architect and literally building the world.

It’s no good to wish for it.  Time can be stupidly linear when you least expect it.  You were forced to grow older, and change into the girl you are now: the one who should be writing about censorship because she actually cares passionately about it, the one who in twenty-five minutes will head to a practice room and, with a classmate, pound out seventh chords on yet another Yamaha piano in an attempt to imprint the intangible into her mind.

Pianos.  We’re still at pianos and a sky blue with secrets.  Life is like the world, in the same way time resembles space. They both aren’t that big at all. Or rather, they are large but repetitive, baffling but stupidly beautiful.


Pleased to meet you, hope you guessed my name…

Really I’m only here because I’m aping a friend.  He is a good friend, and when it comes to certain decisions he is well worth aping.  I’m not saying I would jump off a bridge if he did, but I am saying context is everything and the chances I would follow suit, regardless of anything, are pretty high.

There are other reasons why I’m doing this.  One is that there is an animal inside me, and I’d like nothing better than to release it back into the wild (keystroke by keystroke, as it were) and the other is that I do have thoughts, sometimes, that are not pithy enough to be seen unedited by every person I’ve ever met (which is what facebook was invented for) and probably should not be seen unedited by every person I’ve ever met.  I figure finding this blog, and taking the time to actually read it, takes a valiant bit of effort.  I’m pretty sure the reward is not going to be as high as the cost, but it means less to me because screaming into the ether is not a bad idea most days anyway.

Still, at least this is a commitment.  I do have a journal that I keep some days and most days and usually on rainy days, but actually hitting “publish” on something seems so much more formal than just leaving it all in a scrivener file on my harddrive, reasoning that at an indeterminate future point I will go back and try to glean from the raw emotional release that drives any writing for private eyes.

I’m rather glad that there is a project that requires me to be polished, though.  To put my best and purely metaphorical foot forward at least a few times a week.

At any rate: today was interesting.  There is a clarity in my life I have not had for a while.  And it says: yes, you are a lonely fuck, but that doesn’t mean your life is any less rich than it ever was.  I’ve been going through immense personal tragedy lately, and for some reason things of this nature often cause me to abandon every coping mechanism I have ever learned and just wallow in my own misery.  In this case, I also have been so busy with school that I can’t really keep up cello practice or writing or hitting imperfect membranes with sticks.  But still, it was nice to have someone go Hi, you have to come to this rehearsal because I say so and no excuses.  I do this ensemble and quartet.  It kind of started out as a favor but I don’t see how I can stop now.   (The ensemble is pretty awful, the quartet is better.)

It’s been a while (a long while, actually) since I’ve picked up my cello.  My intonation was such a pile of shit.  It’s very frustrating when you can hear how wrong you are but your fingers apparently have regressed to the point where they have the dexterity of sausage links like the rest of humanity and not like the hardcore, calloused beast you once were.  It’s sobering.

Anyway, I got stuck at the rehearsal site with a friend for about an hour (yay for improperly arranging our rides) and we got to talking about writing music over the summer.  Which I want to do.  Badly.  I want to make music with everyone, which is a sentiment that scares me because I also know that I’m really rather shit at it.

(Yes, Ace, I know.  Everyone sucks.  Why am I writing this part of the entry to you?  I’m not supposed to have an audience.)

But that’s just the thing: I think I’m shit at everything.  I don’t know why someone hasn’t just locked me up for being a talentless hack, because they have every right to.  Still, I guess I’ll just go on conning my way through life.  There are worse ways to live, but also, certainly, easier scams to pull.