Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Strange Day

I had a lot of strange dreams last night. I don't remember most of them, but the last one I had before I woke up stuck with me. In the dream, Dad's phone number was still programmed into my cellphone, and I dialed it by accident, and he answered. I was surprised, because he was dead, but we had a friendly chat. But he was vague and out of it -- pretty much the way he was the last few days of his life -- and couldn't really tell me where he was or how he was.

We didn't have much to talk about, since I couldn't get a coherent answer out of him. So I told him I had to go, and he said, sounding annoyed and plaintive, "Stay on the phone! Just talk to me for ten minutes!"

And then I woke up, feeling sad and guilty. While he was alive, he kept wanting to see more of me, to spend more quality time with me, but I was always running around coordinating medical care, trying to juggle his life on top of mine. We very rarely got the chance simply to visit. Now I regret that, although I'm not sure what else I could have done. But the dream left me feeling like I'd let him down, abandoned him, refused to honor his wishes.

Sad. Guilty.

Anyway, I spent the morning working at home, and then dashed to the gym for a quick swim before my first class. I had plenty of time, and ordinarily would have gotten to campus at least half an hour before the class started.

Instead, as I was leaving the gym, I managed to lock my keys and my cellphone inside my car. Aaaaargh! I raced back to the health club, used their phone to call AAA, raced back to the garage to wait for AAA, raced back to the gym, ten minutes after AAA should have arrived, to call work and have someone tell my class to start without me (it's a workshop class, so that's possible), and then raced back to the garage again and found AAA waiting for me.

I managed to get to class only about fifteen minutes late, and we got everything done I'd wanted to do, but it was still a discombobulating start to the workday.

And then, in my second class, only twelve of twenty students showed up. I know that several people were sick -- including someone who came to class and whom I sent home, with strict orders not to come back until he'd been fever-free for twenty-four hours -- but it was still an awfully low census. And that kind of situation raises difficult teaching issues: do you cover material all the students will need, even if almost half are missing, or do you veer from your lesson plan into "extra" stuff, or what? I wound up more or less doing the first, but I really wish more of them had been there.

Oh well.

On a happier note, I've now found a reasonably comfortable fiddle position -- although I think I'm still going to buy a gel chinrest -- and managed to keep Felicity anchored, with only minor hand adjustments, for sixteen minutes. Not bad! I just hope I was using the correct position; Gary wasn't sure. Felicity was parallel to the floor, but not along the same line as my back, if that makes sense. She was at an angle to my back.

I've been concentrating on the fiddle and really need to catch up with the bow. In the meantime, though, I've been disobeying instructions and touching bow to strings. Last night I figured out basic scales (my technique and tone both suck, but I'm getting some sense of how the instrument works), and even managed to scratch one out with my eyes closed, not looking at the tape markers on the fingerboard. And tonight I topped that by sounding out a very wobbly, scratchy version of the first bar or so of that infamous melody . . . the bane of violin students and their loved ones everywhere . . . the tune that sets neighborhood dogs howling and drives apartment dwellers mad . . . (drumroll, please), the dreaded "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star."

I've always hated "TTLS." I even threw a hissy fit when Charlene mentioned it last week, and made her promise that I'd get to start with something else instead. But having produced a scratchy, wobbly version of the first few notes, I now find I'm much fonder of it.

Funny how that works!

On a somber note again, I realized tonight, with a start, that the wood-and-varnish smell of the body of the fiddle reminds me a lot of how Dad's boat always smelled. The scroll, though, smells sweet and spicy, a bit like cinnamon. It reminds me of Christmas.


  1. I've noticed that you experience a lot of guilt about your dad. My mom died in 2002. She also moved to me and lived 8 months with lung cancer. I still have guilt about many of the things that transpired, but, of course, time has lessened the hold it once had. Hang in there.

  2. Good on TTLS. Now that you're getting the Mozart down, be sure to consider doing "The ABC Song" next. Or maybe "Baa Baa Black Sheep."


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