Random equations in the mathematics of life

Posts tagged ‘Musician’

Taking notes

I’ve thought a lot lately about my connection to music.  Now, let me be clear about one thing up front — I have absolutely no musical talent.  I am in awe of the Musician, who cannot read music, but can hear any piece of music and replicate it with effortless grace.  I am amazed by the Dynamo, one of the Professor’s best friends, who is blind, but can sit down to American Idol and pick out which contestants drop a key or lose perfect pitch.  (And this same Dynamo won our regional replica of the show, by the way!)  For as much as I love music, I was hopeless as a child, struggling to learn the guitar that my brother and sister played with such aplomb.  I could play some Christmas carols on the piano, but only be memorizing key sequence…not because I could actually wield the instrument with any real skill.  As a middle school student, I did have some voice training, and even did a few solos after having been chosen to all county choir.  But after 8th grade, I never pursued it, and now my singing is limited to the shower and the car, for which the people around me are most grateful.

My range of musical taste is quite wide; my Zune song list reads like a musical library, of sorts.  I also have certain musical “rules,” but what do we all know about rules?  They have exceptions.  Examples, you ask?  Well, as a “rule,” I despise country music.  I respect the talent, and I admire the creativity, but listening to it for any length of time makes me want to gouge my ears with salad forks, just to put my eardrums out of their misery.  However, when Kenny Chesney sings about the islands and the ocean, I will listen to him.  Same goes for rap music, especially songs with gratuitous profanity* and themes of violence.  (*Yes, I cuss like a sailor.  But I do not shove an F-word into every line of conversation simply because I can make it fit grammatically.  This, to me, is the gratuitous part, which I do not respect.)  But there are a few songs by Eminem that I truly like.

Music in general affects me in profound ways.  I have had “theme songs” that shift with the events of my life, for several years now, and still others that speak to me in whispers of some divine comprehension of exactly what I was feeling when I listened to it.  Certain songs will bring back memories with such sharp clarity that I can almost close my eyes and be in the situation again, regardless of whether it was a blissful or a painful experience.  For a time, I…lost, for lack of a better word…a few songs.  The emotions and memories they elicited were too painful for me to handle, and rather than go through repeat performances of the tears and the heartbreak I associated with the melody or the lyrics, I simply eradicated those items from my Zune.  What once may have been precious favorites were now removed from the temptation to see if I was “over it enough,” only to wind up with the inevitable torture of realizing that the answer was a very firm, “No.  You’re not.”

One of these relics had been banished from my playlists for the past few years, and I wondered if it was finally time to reconsider it.  As is my habit, I pondered this while on my commute from work, as I have a good amount of time alone to spend in my own head.  I wouldn’t need to cover any emotions, or hide my true reactions if I found that I really wasn’t quite in the place I thought I was.  In the first notes of the opening melody, I did feel tension in the pit of my stomach.  Memories flooded back, but I was ready, and sure enough, after the initial shock, I found myself relaxing.  No tears, no self loathing bubbled up in my throat.  I won’t deny an emotional response as I listened to the familiar words, and felt the pull I used to feel, but it was pretty liberating to know that I had healed enough to move on.  While I may not add this particular title back into my usual repertoire, I can at least say that if I hear it, I can merely sit, impassive, and listen.

Musicians who say the words I can’t always find, who write the melodies that convey my innermost feelings, all have my gratitude and my respect.  I used to long to have the talent too, but I think I am almost better off being on the receptive end of things, where I can enjoy, appreciate, and then process.

Anyone who has a musician that I should be listening to?  Please let me know!

Timelines and schedules

Someone I cannot really call a “friend,” but whom I admire greatly, recently suffered a tragic loss in her life.  She found herself scratching and clawing for even the basic functionality most days, as the cloud of pain grew exponentially before it started to recede.  She posted on her blog about it, and after thinking back on some of the grieving I’ve done, I replied with this comment:

Grief is a nasty, sneaky motherfucker. It holds no schedule, can’t read a calendar, and doesn’t give a rat’s ass about your time line of when you -should- feel “better.” (Whatever the hell “better” means.) It also hits you out of nowhere, at the most inopportune times, in the most inconvenient of places.

But somehow, after the initial onslaught, it does seem to ease back. The attacks become less frequent, and the force with which they’re thrown lacks the same level of gleeful enthusiasm. From what I’m told, that means you’re “moving on,” “getting better,” and oooh, the best one!…”getting over it.” I cannot tell you the depth of my loathing for that phrase. I will say, though, that for me, as the grief starts to look elsewhere for other victims, the sun appears a little brighter, the brilliant autumn colors are rich and layered again, instead of being infused with grey. You can listen to music without sobbing at a red light, and you can smile at stupid things without the mantle of guilt and sorrow that you’re still here to do it.

I read those words again now, and realize just how true they really are.  There are things that can come back around, out of nowhere, and long after the grieving period is “done.”  The scent of someone’s perfume in a store, a song you never thought you’d hear again, an old note that you could swear you threw away, and *poof* you’re right back where you were.  It’s usually a transient thing; control comes back more easily as the time passes, and the mood can be almost invisible to the untrained eye.

We walk through this world on a tightrope, never knowing when a strong gust of wind will send us frantically grasping for the carabiners of our sanity.  It’s at those times that we need our chosen families, our closest friends, and even the occasional kindness of a stranger.  My most recent episode of grief deep enough that I questioned my ability to overcome it was about two years ago.  And in that time, there were two people who were, above all others, instrumental in my survival.  I have thanked them multiple times since then, but when those out-of-the-blue moments do occur, their words, their love, and their unbending strength and support return to me all over again to make sure that it passes quickly.

So even though they’ll never read this, I’m taking the time to express my gratitude to the Musician and the Trainer.  You mean so, so much to me, and I hope I’ve been able to be there for you as much as you have been for me.


Sometimes it’s surprising to me how much I relate to the music I hear.  Now, I have absolutely no musical talent.  I have tried in a few different places on my timeline to learn various instruments, and I am a miserable failure.  To me, this isn’t a character flaw or anything; we all have our talents, and music simply isn’t one of mine.  However, it does render me almost stupidly fascinated to watch the Musician, for example.  One afternoon, we walked into a music store, and in the midst of a conversation, he chose and plucked exactly the right guitar off the wall and sat down to play it.  Then he went to a keyboard and started with the song that really represents our friendship to both of us, a song that is so special to me.  Watching him play it for me moved me nearly to tears at his talent, his innate ability to translate what he hears into his own music.  Another man was there too, messing with a different keyboard, and he started playing some random song.  The Musician listened for a sec, and then followed him right along, and they played this amazing harmony.  I was stunned.  It was a profound experience for me, and I really feel that way when I’m at almost any musical performance.

We saw Girlyman the other night for the 3rd time.  It was fun as always, hilarious at times.  Ty played a new song that she wrote (called The One You Want) and while I cannot recount every lyric, I can tell you that I nearly cried as I listened.  She wrote it because there are times when she thinks of herself as a pretty good person, someone who’s good to be in a relationship with, and “well, then there are times [I] write songs like this.”  Her words spoke of someone who wants to love, and wants to be loved, and wants “to be the one you want.”  I think that’s my greatest fear, really, when it comes to relationships.  I’m just not sure that I have what it takes…I’m just too much of a loner, spend too much time in my own head, and prefer to keep my own counsel.  I can love, and I do.  I love deeply.  But trusting is a whole ‘nother ball of wax, and as the days go by, I sometimes feel that while I make a fantastic friend, and a pretty good lover as well, that maybe I’m just not cut out to be a “life partner.”   I heard Ty’s song, “Genevieve” for the first time on Sunday (how in the hell did I miss this one?) and all I could think was, “Wow.  What peace and joy it must bring to feel like that!” but it was quickly followed by, “I’m not sure I’m capable of that.”

I use music to bring myself out of moods a lot, or to indulge a mood as well.  If I’m melancholy, and I’m allowing it to bloom, I’ll choose songs that I know will induce the cathartic tears.  If I’m pissed, I go for ones that bring up energy, even without rage.  (Most music doesn’t piss me off.)  I have a whole island playlist for when I’m struggling with missing my home; it always gets me out of that funk and into smiling memories of the sun, the sand, the water, the palms.  However, as I write this, it occurs to me that my playlists are really old and outdated.  I need to haul my Zune into the media computer later and build some new ones.

For now, I’m just winging through my stuff, hitting whatever song happens to strike me.  Pretty telling about my mood for now, I guess.  (Along with having a really bad AD/HD day!)

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