Finding the Lost Child

Today I was  in an ACA meeting and heard the term “Lost Child” said a couple of times during the sharing it. I’ve read and heard this term for years, never really relating to it personally. Today I did, because I’m beginning to realize that most of my life is run by mine, and that I am insanely, stupidly,  not in relationship with  it.

On Monday I had a phone appointment with a health coach I’ve paid some serious money to, and I was dreading it.  I had basically blown off doing what he’d recommended, diverged off into a bunch of other self treatment ideas, all of which had marginal results and was well into a dissociative cycle of JUST NOT DEALING. And my symptoms, which include extreme edema, tachycardia, high blood pressure, grotesque obesity, tooth pain, and chronic fatigue, are the same or worse than they’ve been since May.

I have not been eating according to plan, nor implementing Intermittent Fasting, which is now the de rigueur for all health warriors, or biohackers, if you  will. I have continued to eat too much, too often, and nosh on fried potatoes, rice, corn chips, nuts, cheese, and sugar like there is no tomorrow. True, I have eaten more vegetables, eaten less sauces and obvious sugars, avoided pasteurized dairy for the most part, and so on. But I was even beginning to drink sodas. There are many surface reasons why I was still doing these absolute no-nos, though I have been pursuing  greater health for 10 years plus, all perfectly reasonable in the frame of my personal daily life, but not  excusable at all.

It wasn’t clear to me until a couple of hours before the call, which was mercifully  moved, last minute to a later time, what was really going on . I had researched all the stuff I was paying for for years,  become determined to do it, and signed on.  Yet  I had not anticipated the horrific emotional difficulty I’d be encountering having to be even the least bit visible and  transparent to two, distant, easily made into MOMMY and DADDY, authority figures.

I ended up sitting in  my car with all my notebooks and papers spread all around me, waiting the for the call. Should I tell the guy about the three new info sources I’d become enamored with in stead of doing what he was recommending? How could I mitigate my blatant inability to allow him and his gatekeeper wife to find out anything about what I’ve been doing when I couldn’t begin to admit to any of it? Should I send them an enormous email telling all? These thoughts had been simmering for weeks.  I couldn’t sort it out, though I kept trying, and it was all starting to look like a BIG, FAT, tangle of BULLSHIT. And it was MY BULLSHIT. DAMN!

I finally realized this whole  process would be worthless if I was spending it LYING.  I should find a way to confess I’d been having a hard time, even if I didn’t fully understand why. I sat in my car and rehearsed   confessing everything, as though it would be safe, though I knew my emotional garbage would not be safe being actually revealed in it’s copious, glaringly NOT OK-ness.

A memory came to me of sitting in a cardiologist’s office with my mother. She was desperate, trying to get answers out of the doctor about how to take care of my Dad after a double bypass. The Doctor  was sitting at his desk, blatantly DOODLING on a notepad in front of us,  and not answering her. I had known then he had no answers and just plain didn’t give a shit. I had been outraged at the time, furious.

It struck me I was doing exactly what both parents had done in the past, which was keeping quiet about a lot of things to themselves, to each other, and certainly ME.  While this behavior was happening,  understandably to try and control how other people react, it results in disaster and big time loss.  I experienced shame and grief, did some crying.  This is the classic ACA condition: complete separation from actual feelings , suppressed by a mental overlay of thoughts about feelings which aren’t the actual ones.

By the time the health coach guy called, I was able to ask him if he has other clients, who try to bullshit him, LIE, about what they are doing or not doing. He said it happens all the time. We had a real conversation about it and where I actually was versus where I should be. The emotional relief was tremendous. I now know what to ask myself when I start blowing everything off:  Do you want to get well or do you want to spend your energy constructing and maintaining a lie?

 

 

 

 

 

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The EVIL She Beast That Never Uses Enough Soap

Good Morning, Guy.  Thank you for getting up and going to work. I know it was hard for you. It was hard because you are no longer living at Beer O’Clock and have finally  seceded from the United States of The  Eternally Stoned, Home of the Paranoid, and Land of the Weed.  You are starting to live in the that thing called your body and you feel WEIRD. Quel Horrors…you have a beer belly and your clothes don’t fit.

It’s easy for me after living with you for 31 years to know just how uncomfortable you are when you get up and growse about how you don’t have any long sleeved shirts that fit your belly  and then irritably “correct” me if I say anything in response. The good news now is that, irritable or not, you are able to eventually get down  somewhere in the vicinity of what  is bothering you  and express it  so something can actually be done to about  the  situation.

This morning’s Moody Bastard lecture did inform: I learned that you “sweat like a pig” in cotton, though your motorcycle jerseys work OK. It was unknown as to why you did not choose to wear one this morning, but I knew better than to impertinently ask why not. And yes, I know we got you underwear that is too small. I was there when I asked you what size to get and I’ve been there every time you complain about it but don’t wanna go shopping. You don’t understand that  I’m not going to go  pick you up the right size, because unless you go with me and pick out the replacements,  you’ll find something else wrong with them and I ain’t takin that heat.

I’m crystal clear for the hundred thousandth time you cannot wear an un laundered shirt from yesterday because it “stinks like  ass crack” if you wear it more than one day on a jobsite, and am quite familiar with your belief that washing it in lots of toxic blue TIDE is the only solution. Never mind that baking soda and hot water  actually works better in deodorizing your shirts.  I’m resigned to being thought of by you as the EVIL She Beast Who Never Uses Enough Soap to our graves.

 

 

 

 

 

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My Horrid Mistake

A couple of days ago the guy and I took our cat Daisy to the vet for treatment of fleas and parasites. She’s a big cat and she barely fits in the cat carrier we have which took care of the smaller and older cat we had that we “put down” two and a half months ago.

The Vet Clinic we’ve been going to is a small, charming, cottage like house, with a shrub garden in front, a homey front admittance room, and a side room where most of the examining and treating are done.

We were on time for the appointment, but had to wait to be seen, so I sat down in one of the wicker chairs and went back in my mind to the day when I abandoned the love of my life, the day I paid to have my precious cat  put to sleep. Deep grief and shame welled up in me.

In a short while, we were allowed into the side room, where there is a table for examining animals, and I sat down on the wall couch and really looked at the room where she took her last breath. The walls are peach colored, with big white wood trim around the windows and double doors.  There’s a charming wood desk, and framed certificates of vet degrees on the wall. There is a screen with vibrant slides of cute animals with staff being perpetually shown.

That day they had a pink acrylic blanket on the exam table. We got her out of the carrier, and I held her lightly on the table while my guy left. I didn’t stop to wonder about that, and our cat was curious as to what was happening, was looking around. The vet and and a tech came in and picked her up to give her a shot in her neck. She cried out, it must have hurt, surprised her or both.

The first shot was supposed to be a muscle relaxant. As she was put down on the blanket after that shot, she seemed to shrink under my hands into a narrow strip of fur and turn, her green eyes becoming black dilated pits.The vet said something about how sometimes they don’t close their eyes and I felt freaked out for a second, out of my depth. For a second I felt like she wasn’t my beloved cat anymore,  the precious one that I knew.

I don’t know what I was thinking or feeling, but the vet asked me if I wanted to stay for the next two shots to come, and I said NO, let go of my cat and LEFT, walked out of the room, shutting the door behind me. I left the most precious love of my life ALONE to die alone, when I could have stayed and held her, been with her and at least had my heart field next to her when her spirit was leaving her body.  I have participated in and witnessed  three deaths, one which was putting down  my mother’s dog Hobbes, one of my mother, still warm with her eyes lifeless and open, and held a friend’s cat Yappy when she put him down. Hobbes had literally become unable to move without pain due to arthritis and the heavy anti inflammatory medication was destroying him. I held him until he was gone and I wept and grieved then. In this case, my cat was surviving, but she had been having big problems for about three years.

 

Why I fucked this one up so badly I don’t know, but I am going to regret it for the rest of my life. It brings me to tears any and every time I focus on it, on how much those last minutes of her life would have been better, oh so selfishly, for me. I don’t know if it would have made a difference to her, don’t know if her spirit is affected, but I grieve for the loss of those minutes, well aware of the horrible irony of it. I had her killed, the result was the same with or without me staying, but  I am so sad I did not. I missed out. I feel so guilty and ashamed for leaving her to die in terror, so small against that blanket.

 

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Still Life with Blood Pressure Cuff

This morning I woke up around 4:30 am with my head full of pressure, my mouth dry,  my body stiff and white noise and pulse whooshing away in my left ear. I got up to pee, and my guy in the back bedroom asked me to open a door he’d shut. I did, went back to where I sleep, and got my cell phone, intent on using a stopwatch on it to see what my heart rate was. It beeped, and he shut the door abruptly, saying ” I didn’t know you were going to Beep AGAIN.”

That got my goat big time.  I’ve been suffering from high blood pressure, induced by hypothyroidism for quite some time, and I had a wave of grandiose self pity, anger and fear surge through me, along with several hard edged retorts I managed not to voice.

Maybe I should have a stroke, heart attack or pop an eye anneurism and fulfil your worst fears and projected death wish, MOTHERFUCKER! Would you be happy then?

I fumbled around in the dark, putting  my pants on backwards, mad and scared. I got up and spitefully turned on a bright kitchen light, sat down to put on the blood pressure cuff to take my blood pressure.   I tried about 6 times to get a decent reading, hampered both by the sounds and pressure in my head, unable to see or hear clearly the thumping and jumping of the indicator on the gauge.   My eyes are working but hampered by the pressure.

I drew a sketch of myself Guernica- Picasso style, sitting with the blood pressure cuff on, whacky eyed with heart beat pulses streaming out of my distended ears. It occurred to me then, that my blood pressure, while high, has stayed the same for weeks. What hasn’t is that I have been taking no flush niacin and a blood pressure medication prescribed by a doctor for  more than a week.  What has changed is the pressure in my head, the heat and numbness.

I decided to get out the niacin book and look up cardiovascular effects of taking it. And  under the chapter on Safety of Taking Niacin, page 53,  there it was: ” Macular Edema- The condition is unusual and completely reversible- Such changes are obvious in a standard retinal fundus exam when the patient reports symptoms of a visual deficit.”

No Shit. In english that means I’m hopefully NOT dying today.

 

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Eternity in the Face of a Cat

Tomorrow we are killing our cat. She is the most beautiful thing that exists on this earth, and we are going to have her “put down” at a vet clinic.  I’m in shock, mostly because me the guy are actually on the same page about it, have made the appointment, agreed on what to do with her body, and are going to do it together, a miracle all by itself. She has been the glue for our relationship, pitiful as that is, and I have no idea what will happen between us when she is gone.

And I’m devastated, in spite of everything. I’ve had almost a whole year of time with her I didn’t deserve.  Her bones are brittle, her hair is ratty,  her clearly decaying  teeth have made it hard for her to eat, and she’s been fighting to exist for some time now.  She’s become incontinent, and though she travels to the cat box, she  pees next to it instead of in it, and this is an improvement. Our kitchen table has been  a raw food cat smorgasbord, but it’s not helping her enough and she’s been drinking tons of water for too long.  This has been coming for a long time now, and I know I will never forget her or try to replace her.

I don’t want to ever let her go, and her loss is going to be one of the biggest of my life. The irony of it all was that I didn’t take that good of care of her, and I feel terribly guilty about it. She’s been deaf for quite a while.  Four months of transdermal hypothyroid and blood pressure medication goo smeared on her ears stabilized her but did not fully relieve her symptoms.  We can’t get her teeth cleaned or fixed, because the anestetic will probably kill her. She now weighs only 4 lbs and spends a great deal of her time passed out. She has a wonderful, melodic voice and a sassy kind of catitude despite her small size and condition.

I am also relieved she has survived being sat on( which me and the guy each did several times), killed and eaten by predators of which there are many out side, or falling, being  crushed or torn up by other cats and dogs. Somehow she is everything and just a cat all at the same time. She has a mixture of  grey, white and a soft, pale orange which make her nondescript but amazingly beautiful at the same time.  I wish I could love her better and more forever. I feel so completely unworthy of her life and presence.

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Welcome to the Nut Neighborhood

This week my guy, who is a journeyman carpenter, built our neighbors across the street a handrail for their porch. Our neighbors, who have been here as long as we have, have been getting notices from the park management for 8 years telling them they need to have a handrail, because it’s against the park rules for them not to have one.

Bear in mind these neighbors, clearly not spring chickens, have witnessed at least 10 years of us  yelling at eachother, slamming doors, raging  departures in vehicles, and other mayhem.  At least I can count a year and a half or two when the yelling fights finally ceased, hopefully for good.

The man of said couple actually came over a while back, hung out on my front porch and chatted with me, confessing his need for a handrail and proposing that perhaps the guy could build him one. Part of this tete a tete was no doubt a consequence of the fact I see him now more often at the hot food bar at the pretty good health food store in town. He’s a very down to earth, smart man and I have never bullshitted him about anything. When someone has a ringside seat to your worst problems, it’s easy not to bullshit them after you’ve lost all pretense about  your life predicaments.

I informed my guy, who was on a well paying union gig for a good three months, but then was laid off. To my surprise, he went over there half lit one day, and started the ball rolling to do the handrail. I have no idea why, after all these years, he did that, but he not only built the thing,  but he managed all the negotiations and a very challenging part of the whole deal: contact with the woman of the couple. She is someone who fusses, repeats herself, not listening to any answers or conversation directed her way, while demanding endless attention.  He   handled her by only working for 2-3 hours at a time, avoiding the effect of too much contact.

As for me, I pruned an  obstructive, overgrown rose bush which blocked any and all access to the area needed to be in to build the handrail. This was no minor feat. The rose bush was thick with tangled and twisted barbed vines, and hardened, barbed and dead sticks. I filled at least 5 large trashcans with cut up rose brambles and it took me two days to do it.

Adding further to this situation was the presence of the couple’s next door neighbor, a Mexican building contractor  who has his own fence company. The man of the couple was wanting to ask him to do the job but afraid of what he might charge, and not sure if the contractor would turn him down. He had reason to be unsure because of his wife’s antics: on trash day she puts items of trash in other people’s trash cans, including ours without asking permission.

Essentially he asked us, because he knows we know about his wife; especially her special habit of coming across the street to get their mail and opening all three of the mailboxes there, including ours and closing each one of  them with a bang every time she checks the mail. Because we are as nuts and flawed as she is. Nobody tries to steal from us because we are that crazy, unpredictable couple with all the tools and fancy trucks in the driveway. They are not sure about us, so they steer a wide berth.

My guy got blasted on beer one night and went over and asked the fence contractor guy to back him up  and do the handrail because my guy got a job dispatch from his union he took, only to later turn down when he was sober because he knew he wasn’t clean enough to pass the drug test for the job.  He had a check written to the contractor for a good sum of money, and the amazing thing was they contractor reluctantly agreed to do it. Later my guy went and got the check back, and he did a superb job on the free standing handrail.

 

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The Cat Barf Awaits

Today I am dressed and the bed is made. The dryer is going. The dishes are in the drainer. The guy had his coffee, oatmeal and supps, made him a mini lunch, and he’s gone to his work. I have managed NOT to go to any of several local cafe’s and buy a croissant and chai or hot chocolate. I have dutifully heated up chicken broth and put gelatin collagen powder in it, and drank the stuff I’m supposed to. I have reflected, I have written down my reflections, perused emails and Facebook.  I have planned the next couple of steps: I know I will go to my car, put videos I must return in it, and get my yoga mat and the new Dustbuster I bought  out to bring inside. Since I have missed my mobility class, I will be doing it now, at home, and after that some yoga. I will be focused I will be disciplined, and I will feel good once I have done it. I will fold the laundry on the bed and put it away.

I will not sit down again until I do the above. I will then face two tasks which feel, and this moment, absolutely undoable:  The pile of mess on the table, and calling the vet. I am declaring this, I am writing it , hearing it, loathing it. For reasons unknown I don’t wanna do any of it. BEGONE, FOUL DWIMMERLAIK!  Eowyn commands you.

But, before I do any of all that, several slimy black globs of thrown up cat hairballs are calling. They are sitting in a puke puddle of saliva at the base of my front porch. They are most probably Mr. Green’s. Mr. Green is black  has yellow eyes but they look green at night when he is hanging out on the porch yowling for some dinner at night. I know I can’t leave the car barf there, because I know my Feng Shui: whatever you have at your front door in the “Sea of Chi” is what you will attract into your home  and life.  A local Feng Shui teacher I know says whatever is on the front porch is what greets people when they come to the house.  Mine has spilled cat kibble  on it and a dirty coating, because the front porch is basically a large , unofficial cat scratching post and cat restaurant. I think some changes need to be made, because Cat Barf is nasty and definitely NOT  what I want to attract.

Ok, cleaned up the hairballs. They were disgusting but not as copious  as previously feared. Now the house smells like  smoke because I managed to set the papers and  what all mess on the Rose table on fire while lighting a candle and smudging previously wet contents of the guy’s wallet which mistakenly ended up in the washing machine this morning.  That was weird, but the fire is out, but here is it almost Noon! Holy Shit, where did the time go?

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Dear Occupant: I Am Not Good Today

Yes, You, and you know who you are.  I’m not good in regard to matters concerning you this morning. I’m not good with you getting up and coming into the kitchen to bitch me out about there not being tuna juice for the cat and nagging me to medicate her while I am making your lunch and breakfast. I’m not good with you smoking cigarettes and dope and drinking beer every moment you are not working, with me having to inhale your secondhand smoke and endure the vibrational  haze of you covertly doing porn or WTF on your I-phone.  I’m not good once again for the zillionth time of  being put in the position of NOT BEING ABLE to say a word about the fact that you are slipping off the deep end AGAIN with your substance abuse, because of what you will do if I do.

I don’t understand how you exist  at all, but here’s the thing that I am not good with for real and forever: You are not OK. You are never really OK.

You seem like you are OK for periods of time. You THINK you are OK for periods of time. You even act like you are OK now for months, but it never really lasts. You can do so many extraordinary things, are a paragon of talent and skill, you can work, are now actually MAKING SOME MONEY, pull a rabbit out of a hat, you can walk and stand and talk and be, BUTTTT, when the cows have finally come home, the chickens to roost, YOU ARE STILL NOT OK.

I’m not good with the imminent and ever present, never to be ended threat  of you hitting the Legion and going blackout on booze like you did twice this year, you texting your crank dealer again and telling her you still want her, that that may never change. I’m not good with you buying a gun on the internet when you are drunk, exhorting me not to hide or get rid of it, of forcing me to  come down to threatening you with a call to the police to make you get rid of it. I’m not good with you giving said unregistered weapon to someone whom you have spent years actively  hating, who is and has always been emotionally  unstable, and telling me what friends you are with that person. I’m not good with you being obsessed with motorcycles, making payments on them when you still have not paid off your bills on the injuries you have caused yourself on them.  I’m not good with your anal reactions to gazillions of things that I’ve said which are completely not what you think they are  and your harsh criticism of everything you depend on, in particular me and the home I’ve given everything to create and maintain without your help.

I’m sick of your endless distress, you loneliness, your hate and your wish to end your life. I don’t know who you really are, but worse, it’s become clear you don’t know who you are, though you think you do, and you have this cocksure bastard part that, when let out, wreaks havoc on your life and everything around you, which would be me.  You can’t feel because you are blocked by grief so early, big  and  so dense that a part of you is certain you will die if you ever feel a second of it ever again. And you are willing to do anything never to even be aware of the thing you must feel to know who you are.

I feel as though the real you is an embryo buried in a stone vault underneath a massive slab of concrete at the bottom of some ocean.  You are the mystery of all mysteries, an enigma so perfectly self sustaining, that there is never any   escape for either of us. I can’t trust anything about you, particularly when you say anything loving to me, or do anything decent, like pay for your share of the bills.

I dream of caverns, long mysterious journeys and places where you can not escape your inner work, the work that will eventually free you and allow you  to become who you really are.  I’m not good with this whole shootin’ match.

 

 

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Self Defense for Women

Whenever you see the words “Self Defense for Women”, get ready for bullshit. Get ready for the same old, worn out, ignorant, stupid, lazy, steriotypical  affirmation of Prey conditioning we American women have embraced and affirmed for centuries.  It’s always a dumbed down, patronizing, worthless bunch of Mind Fuck that allows women to stay in their comfortable hypnotized mindset  of denial about their failure to claim their own actual power in this world.   And I am not blaming the men and women instructors of any kind of martial arts or types of training that innocently, with the best of intentions, put on classes and workshops with this title. They are only following the prevailing social mindset, and cannot be faulted for it.

What is wrong with this picture ARE the real  implications in the  mindset.  That specific mindset, un-examined, broadcasts the following covert, but distinct messages: 1) Women are separate from men and the world at large (2) They are “special”, meaning different, NOT IN A GOOD WAY. (3) Women need “special” help( because they are ______weaker, not trained enough, fill in the blank with whatever euphemistic term of inferiority).  It confirms the deep down  cultural belief that Women are just plain inferior PERIOD, which, though it is a lie, is a long held,  structurally supported,  and DEPENDED UPON idea.  We all DEPEND upon this supposition. It makes our world easy to navigate.  The real truth about this whole situation is that WOMEN ARE UNPROTECTED because they/we  are a product of this belief.

And what do we offer Women about this? Well, we do offer/allow  them martial arts opportunities, gyms, fitness options that in previous generations were totally unavailable if not completely  forbidden to women.  I can’t say I’m unhappy about that.  There are women now who are instructors, trainers, and fighters.  Actual  women fighter roles  are  a new plot commodity in TV and films, be still my heart! Think Black Swallow of “The Forbidden City” , Michelle Yeoh and the Chinese courtesan in the current Netflix Marco Polo series. Even Quentin Tarantino has embraced this woman warrior genre and outdone all previous extremes with   “Kill Bill”. I’m sure there are now much higher numbers of women in boxing gyms, mixed martial arts, and all fighting skills.  Hooray for these dedicated women who find the money and time, have the guts to pursue such things.

Hooray for Gina Carano, and Ronda Rousey, the  mixed martial arts blond  champion who has tagged most women as  “Do Nothing Bitches”.  As misogynistic and disrespectful to women that statement is, she is right in a very specific way and is only using the prevailing attitude towards women for publicity..  She’s putting that phrase on personalized gear she sells, because we women continue to collude with that attitude, and reward it with our silence.  And one of the reasons we women are SO silent is that we know, instinctively, that, unless we can effectively and conclusively defend ourselves,  prove it over and over again, speaking up about the qazillions of times we are disrespected is a risk we often can’t afford to take. What is needed is the establishment of a standard for women  by women to meet to defend themselves, and it needs to become  global.

However, this leaves the majority of other women AND girls  in the world still up the proverbial shit creek without a paddle. CIA approved militias and terrorist groups continue to kidnap, torture, rape, enslave and murder large amounts of women and children all over the world.  And the once in a blue moon “Self Defense for Women” workshop does not begin to dissolve the PREY mindset  most women carry and perpetrate in unconsciousness.  Core beliefs are not something that can be overcome by will or even full awareness. They have to be experientially rewired, which takes a lot of critical mass and time to accomplish. There are some rare  few exceptions to this, to be sure.  One of them is Model Mugging, and another is Target Focus Training.  I’m sure there are more that I haven’t heard about. There are many boys and men in our world who are also unprotected, but they do not have to justify themselves or be arrested if they pursue  and use  combat training or weaponry in their own defense. Their self preservation is considered a given, whereas womens’ are not. Women are used to living and being pawns and prey, no matter what their pedigree, education, or wealth. It’s a hard pattern to change.

And let’s get this straight: Women are unprotected, NOT because of men, or the misogyny still rampant in our world and culture, women are unprotected because of a complete failure of our culture at large to rethink gender, class, and race roles that are so antique they stink. I saw a video from Finland that teaches kids to deal with bullies using games and education. And I say again, this is something that is up to WOMEN and no one else. Women  are responsible  for this state of affairs, and only Women can solve it for good. If nothing else, Women owe it to their children, whether those children are boys or girls to be able to protect them and teach them the mindset and standard of self protection as well.

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Rediscovering the Sustain Pedal on the Piano

I have been practicing piano steadily now for almost 6 months.  And while doing that, to build basic reading and playing skills, I have taken the advice of (Dr.) Corey Hall of Bachscholar, who has extensive videos playing the music I am learning, to not use the pedals at all. When I was younger I didn’t understand that building foundational skill and techniques in the beginning pays off later, and it’s easy to form bad habits, such as depending on the soft or sustain pedal too much instead of building the strength, flexibility of pace, timing and focus needed to play long and well.

Today I was playing Scott Joplin’s Crush Collision March. It’s a lilting and wonderfully dramatic musical account of a famous deliberate train wreck that killed a bunch of people in the 1800’s, complete with railroad whistle and crash sounds.  I’m getting better at it, though I need more continuity and smoothness.  It has a waltz part that is one of my favorites, and while I was stumbling a bit through it, it occurred to me I might try using the sustain pedal on the right  to see if I could smooth it out a little. I have been working with out the pedals for 6 months, and I believe I have built some basic strength and skill.

I tried it, and OMG! It felt and sounded  good.  Bachsholar plays it with great panache, using tremolo on the second batch of the waltz, and he clearly is using the sustain pedal. I have learned from John Santos that if you want to master something, you play it at different paces, slow slow, slow, medium, faster, fast fast. But the  idea is not to hurry and play stuff super fast because it loses so much of the emotional flavor and passion. I have used going really fast on classical pieces because I used to get bored playing slow, didn’t feel as though I was advancing, and didn’ t have the patience to spend much time on anything. In essence, I have done what I call trampling the piece, and it’s not the worst thing to do, but it’s a bad habit, because then I tend to trample it because it’s familiar and makes me feel powerful without having enough skill to play it at an unhurried yet distinct pace.

Mainly I have learned there has to be enough practice in the first place so attention can be put over time on different things to improve. I have learned that I was brave and bold enough to find written music, read it, play it, memorize it, and make it better as a young and untrained player, which was and is a miracle.  But I remember how I used to see what I was doing, especially ragtime, as this high wire, impossible feat of will, endurance and strength, work way too hard to attain it, hurry, push too hard, make my fingers hurt. Now I practice to make ease of doing whatever my hands must to play a piece correctly, and if I have to create finger techniques to fit my short fingers, I do so without making it into this huge superhuman deal in my mind.

I now hold in my heart and mind the idea that it’s OK for me to be in relation to many different variables of playing piano without having to mentally grasp them and be perfect at anything, that I’m engaged in something my mind is part of, but is not in control of at all. I believe that there are many other parts of me, some quite mysterious and uncontrollable, which play the music through me, though I apply myself from time to time harder to specific things. I cultivate relaxation in toto even as I work harder here and there. And my internal piano playing self is a whole different country than the one I had before. I am so much happier and more able to keep doing the things which make playing piano satisfying.

 

 

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