rebeccmeister: (Default)
Saturday evening, after the guests left*, I somehow got to thinking about my Dad and that one point while I was in college where he commented about how he missed hearing me practice the piano while he was washing the dishes in the evening.**

I guess that was the impetus behind opening up the Moonlight Sonata again. When I was at the absolute peak of playing, halfway through Freshman year of college, I had almost perfected the third movement. Saturday night, I only played through the first movement, clumsily reading the sheet music. Sunday night, I didn't bother trying to play, what with the fatigue from rowing and the rest of the day. I just thought my way through as much of the third movement as I could. Last night, I got through the first two movements, and was able to start the third movement again.

Freshman year of college was - what - 1999? Nearly twenty years ago? But extensive psychological experiments show that procedural memory lasts far longer than declarative memory. There are still a whole lot of cobwebs to clear, but some part of my mind feels that itch again.

I never made it very far beyond the classic classical music pieces on the piano, but then again, those are the songs I tend to like anyway.

Playing inevitably raises a lot of emotions associated with ageing, futility, expertise (or lack thereof), and death.

*[ profile] securechannel hosted an afternoon gathering to celebrate the 4th anniversary of the chickens' hatching.

**I tried to make a tape recording for him, but of course the audio quality wasn't ideal. I sort of figured that was my only shot to capture things while at my peak, as I ran out of time and money for piano lessons after that first semester.


Feb. 18th, 2016 10:04 am
rebeccmeister: (bikegirl)
Upon arriving at work today, I have taken some Loratidine to sort out whether this is allergies or a head cold.

We got more exciting weather last night and this morning, with high winds and purportedly even some hail.

The bed magnets were strong this morning, in part because I didn't sleep especially well.

I would ask the universe for a do-over, but really I should just shove on and get back to work.

On the other hand, last night I made it further through several piano pieces than I've made it in a very, very long time. I should buy a fresh copy of the sheet music for "Fur Elise."

I have mixed feelings about mostly just wanting to play the popular classical music pieces. When I graduated from high school, my piano teacher gave me a copy of George Gerschwin's "Rhapsody in Blue," but I have never made it all that far in sight-reading through it. What a playful piece. That one college semester where I paid for music lessons, my piano teacher was excited to help me with the "Maple Leaf Rag," and ragtime was fun, but if anything I'll probably keep working on another Beethoven sonata (no. 8 in C minor, op. 13).

Playing music is simultaneously depressing and uplifting. Uplifting because it does certain things to my mind and body that put it into a better state. Depressing because I have to re-engage with some challenging parts of myself and life, related to the Existential crisis. Not that rowing is any different, really.
rebeccmeister: (bikegirl)
Today has been an "organize the calendar" sort of day. I'm not big on New Year's resolutions, but at the same time this is a good time of year to take stock of things and think about plans for the upcoming year, including changes. I am not sure about how to organize this list of things I am wanting to organize, but here it is:

-Short-term: Finish bike hook installation (probably the weekend I get back to town - Jan 8).

-Schedule a piano tuner (S gave me the Gift of Tuning, hurrah!)

-Figure out rowing in the Bay Area. A big thank-you to [ profile] dichroic for passing along a couple of lists of the area rowing clubs. Starting point: Berkeley Paddling and Rowing Club (closer), if not that then Lake Merritt (8.7 mile bike ride one-way).

-Finish out an R-12 award (i.e. ride at least a 200km brevet each month for 12 consecutive months; I have 3 more months to go). Once I finish this, I plan to focus more on rowing, with occasional recreational bicycling thrown in for fun and profit (e.g. more picnics and bike camping).

-Come up with a plan for creative projects. [ profile] sytharin and the housemates are somewhat keen to get ceramics operations up and running, which is something that makes me dream of gas-fired kilns and learning to mix up glazes. These two dreams are impractical for the here-and-now, plus I have other, non-ceramic creative projects that I wish to attend to (specifically, quilting and knitting). Hence the need for more of a plan for creative projects. The best solution may be just to schedule Crafternoons with RAC. That should also help us figure out how I can best help her with gardening projects, too. I can see why people use shareable calendar goop for this stuff, although I am tempted to continue rebelling with my paper and text files.

-Academic to do (condensed version): make a schedule for the conference in Portland next week; push forward the leafcutter manuscript (which doom level have I reached, again?); make a semester plan; analyze data and write manuscripts; start new experiments; polish job application materials.

-Get back on track with tracking spending. As mentioned elsejournal, I'm particularly interested in doing some detailed grocery accounting. In part this should help me figure out which items I wish to buy where in the grocery landscape of the Bay Area, and in part I am intrigued by the idea of comparing grocery spending here against grocery spending elsewhere (Lincoln in particular), and in seeing what I eat over the course of a year. Lincoln groceries won't include the occasional foray to the farmer's market, but those trips were pretty occasional and mostly for pecans and fruit bonanzas, because the grocery co-op did such an awesome job of selling locally-produced foods.

Edited to add:
-Develop the Bike-Friendly Fridays coffeeshop agenda for the East Bay.

I think that covers the major bases.


Dec. 10th, 2015 09:55 am
rebeccmeister: (1x)
My new house has a piano.

I am so, so, so, so, so rusty.


Playing the piano does something for my soul that is similar to rowing, somehow.

Several high-octave keys stick a bit, and it's not especially in tune. It is still infinitely easier to play than my parents' piano in its current state. About ten years ago, my parents had Deano the Clown replace the felt under the keys, but unfortunately that made it apparent that the springs that return the hammers to their starting position are also worn out and tired. As a result, it's impossible to press the same key with any sort of rapidity, which makes the piano INCREDIBLY frustrating to play. It was already a somewhat challenging piano because the keys are pretty slippery and strangely narrow, but that never bothered me too much while learning on it while growing up. The harp's also cracked, but it was my grandma's piano so there are lots of good reasons to keep it in the family.

I need to do more sight-reading practice. Eventually people are going to notice that I play the same songs over and over again. Not that I really care. They are also going to notice that when they say, "Play Song X!" I am not going to be able to whip the tune out and play away.


rebeccmeister: (Default)
The last time I had ready access to a piano was my senior year of high school, a good eleven years ago. When I moved away to college, I continued to take lessons for one semester, but they cost additional money that I didn't have and I reached the point where I had to ask myself, "What's the use?" and I couldn't come up with a reasonable answer.

But my mind and my hands have always itched to get back in front of a piano. The rust is starting to come off, and I'm remembering things. I'm remembering the second movement of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, and fragments of the third movement, one of my favorite pieces. It takes so much concentration that it's impossible to think any other thoughts while playing it. I'm mostly remembering Claire de Lune, though there are still the usual sketchy sections that I muddle through when I haven't practiced in a while. I must practice, I tell myself.

This piano has seen better days. One of the bass clef C's does not silence after it's played - its damper seems to get stuck. When I play some of the treble clef keys kind of quickly, they clatter (though they still play better than my parents' half-"repaired" piano that needs replacement springs - it's vexing to try playing it). And there are some keys that are so far out of tune that certain chords are cringe-worthy. I've never been particularly fussy about tuning (I've never personally had to tune my instrument, mind you), but it's enough that I notice the difference. I don't have perfect pitch, but I'm pretty close - you just have to give me a starting key and I can go from there (I always think I'm remembering middle C and it always turns out to be A). There's a very high treble clef key that's missing its hammer. The damper pedal doesn't seem to function quite right, either - only catches a selective range of keys.

And the aesthetics leave a thing or two to be desired. I find the dusty mirror in front of the keys quite tacky, and the black paint job makes me sad and makes me wonder what's hidden underneath.

But it's a piano, and it plays, and my fingers clearly remember the feeling of the keys, and I tell you, it just feels so GOOD to play, to feel all those small but coordinated muscles in my forearms and hands work hard, to feel my pinky fingers stretch out. Nothing else is like it. Ahh. Some of the best money I've spent recently.
rebeccmeister: (Default)
I shall be AFK for a few days, while I travel to the southernmost depths of Eastern Washington with my family to visit family that I have not seen in two years. That aunt and uncle, favorites of mine, are living in a trailer while they build a cabin along the Snake River, so I do not expect to have internet access, nor do I expect that internet would be a good use of time there anyway. Hopefully there will be time for drawing and reading and writing, though if my time spent at at home so far is any indicator, I may be too distracted for such activities. Whatever we do will be good, I suspect.

I decided to bring along a bunch of piano books for this trip, and I'm glad I did, although ever since the felt hammers were replaced in my grandmother's piano it has been difficult to play songs involving anything remotely resembling speed (the piano tuner informed us that now the weakened springs are not strong enough to return the new hammers with rapidity, so only an expensive spring replacement would fix that problem and my parents are understandably reluctant to shell out several hundred more dollars when the only person who uses the piano is myself and I'm home but a few days each year).

People occasionally ask why I haven't bought a keyboard in Arizona, but even with good keyboards the aesthetic experience is not the same and I'm just not interested in acquiring another hunk of cheap plastic.

I often wonder about the futility of playing the piano--it's one of many things I probably could have been reasonably decent at if I dedicated more time and effort to it, but I do not. I play for my own psyche and am more or less content at present to play the same well-worn songs. It does make me question my devotion to it and other activities that will vanish without a trace when I die (there is a single poor tape recording of my feeble efforts that's not worth listening to). But it cannot be helped; I must play, and when I do, I wake up singing in my mind.
rebeccmeister: (Default)
I had a dream last night/this morning about buying a piano. I miss playing the piano.

There was also a furniture segment, wherein my mother got rid of a lot of furniture and asked me if I wanted any, but I wasn' t interested in any of it.

Aren't dreams fun?
rebeccmeister: (Default)
Okay, you know how I said I was jealous of everybody else who was reporting rain? Well, guess what? It rained here! We had a big old thunderstorm last night, and this morning the pavement was still wet and there were puddles everywhere. Glorious, I tell you. The humidity even got up to around 56%, and it appears that today's high is going to be only 109.

What was even more fun was that my friend A invited me over for dinner with her family--husband and daughter. 'Twas a lovely meal, and afterwords we played a game known as Mexican Train Dominoes. I didn't win, but it was really fun. Then A's daughter played a couple of pieces on the piano for me--she was amazing. She's learning the Maple Leaf Rag, one of my favorites.

Well, perhaps I should do some work today, considering how much we need to get done.


Jun. 20th, 2005 12:15 pm
rebeccmeister: (Default)
Okay, well, I've been a bit of a slacker. So here you are, [ profile] gfrancie:

What five things do you enjoy doing to help lower your stress/blood pressure/anxiety level?
Make a list, post it to your journal... and then tag 5 friends and ask them to post it to theirs

1. Go rowing. It's always peaceful and quiet in the mornings on the water. This worked better when I lived in Seattle, though.
2a. (warning: snarky, smart-ass answer): Figure out what's stressing me out and fix it.
2b. Read a book while drinking some espresso or tea.
3. Tell corny jokes (okay, I do that even when I'm not stressed out).
4. Create art (painting, pottery, etc.)
5. Play the piano (assuming that I have access to one). This is really the best one. Damn I miss having a piano around. :/ Now I'm sad. And no, don't tell me that keyboards are just as good, 'cause they aren't. I just have to save up my spending money or something.

And sorry. I'm not going to tag anybody. That just contributes to the whole pyramid scheme business.


rebeccmeister: (Default)

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