Momma’s got a squeeze box

this is exactly how i look, you guys.

Breaking news: I’m learning the accordion. Facebook friends already know this (some of you know I’ve been talking about this since June… / since childhood). Well, it’s happening. Upside: my new musical hobby gives me something new to do on sleepless nights (the mind can take only so much Pinterest and Comedy Central…). Downside: it’s hard.

< pause for laughter re: my obvious discovery >

Last week was my first lesson, and I have these adorably old school photocopied homework sheets to help me with basic bellows-maneuvering. (My accordion’s bellows are red, ps, which I love.)

I started taking piano lessons in kindergarten, so I don’t remember exactly how it felt to learn it all from scratch. Besides, I was learning everything from scratch back then, so I was used to the feeling. Now, as a big girl, there are fewer things in my life that are brand new. And, when there are, if they are difficult, I might run away. See: Accounting. Holy eff. Contrariwise, see: running. Holy eff!

The accordion is 100% brand new to me, and as such, I kind of suck at it. (My particular accordion is in fact quite retro…and came from Italy and smells like a flea market in the best possible way.)

I am in kindergarten again.

And I kind of hate it.

But I love it too much to even think about stopping. (I love that feeling.)
When I practice, my perfectionism is at war with my persistence. I felt compelled to blog about this tonight, mostly because I don’t often get the chance to observe myself at the start of something. And, since I plan to become The Greatest Living Accordion Player of Our Time, I’m a little bit fascinated at the fits and starts of the start. How awkward it is to be a beginner. It’s hilarious, really, when I’m not groaning at myself in frustration. Tonight I leaned back on my couch—my accordion still strapped to me like a big, black backwards-backpack, resting on my chest like a boxy toddler—and just laughed at myself. (The sad, near-whimpery laughter known to the very tired but very determined.)

If you’ve never held an accordion (and, well, you probably haven’t, right?), you may not know that these mo-fos are heavy. (20+ pounds) And they breathe. If you don’t get the balance of keys + buttons + bellows just right, it just sort of sighs at you instead of making pretty accordion sounds.

And I sigh right back.

And I try again.

Because I learned to ride a bike and swim and drive and kiss and improvise and run… and a whole longer list of everything good that was scary at the start. Those things all taught me that if you want to make beautiful music, you have to make it through the sighs.

< pause for groans re: my Hallmark ending >

I is for Internet

First of all, allow me to tell you I realize that my opinion re: the value of the internet is not all that nuanced or necessary to the good of the zeitgeist. But I’ve had a few real-live “aha” moments in the last few weeks that make me want to dish about it just a little.
(I is for Indulge me…)

Of course the internet makes our lives better (in these and many other more complicated, interesting ways):
–We needn’t worry about getting lost on our way to a new place.
–Or ever being late to a movie.
–Or not knowing whether to bring an umbrella to work.

But the internet also makes our lives…superficially worse at the very least (let’s skip the Big Bad Actual Evils of cyber-bullying, identity theft or Farmville…):
–It’s so easy to cheat at trivia games! The thrill of the hunt is gone when it comes to random facts.
–First dates have become this sort of fibbing contest where you each pretend not to already know everything about the other. (Facebook will tell you most of the basics. Graduated high school? good. Number of siblings? check. Not into Nickelback? cool.) Again, the thrill of the hunt…
–Sometimes getting lost can be the best thing about going to a place (for the surprise finds, the story), and iPhones limit the possibility of those moments.

So.

Three concrete examples of the For Better and For Worse of the web:

#1

@nbcsnl tweeted before Halloween:

For all you Halloweenies still without a costume, Adam Sandler is here to help:
Halloween Extravaganza!!.

gimmesomecandy

I just couldn’t help wondering how my middle school life would’ve been different if Crazy Pickle-Arm Man were available on-demand back then. My brother and I looked forward to rewatching that sketch every year at Halloween, but to have the ability to watch it every day if we wanted to? It feels like too much. (I know I sound like my mom when she used to marvel over VHS tapes…”I never would have believed we could watch movies at home!“)

Yes, old woman. SNL sketches are available online. Welcome to now. I get it. Not a life-or-death problem, but I still ponder the value of constant access. We are spoiled with entertainment and yet epidemically bored. (I’m reminded of Louis C.K. “everything is amazing & nobody is happy.” Google that.) Or don’t. Here it is. It’s that good:

#2

I was on a plane a few weeks ago when I heard the dude behind me remark to his girlfriend, “it’s just like Google Earth!” while looking down at the increasingly-tiny houses and cars and farmland below. I thought, yeah… but, no
It took some self-control to keep me from turning around and telling him how, if anything, Google Earth is like THIS. Right? THIS is real. OH MY GOD I’M LIVING IN A DON DELILLO NOVEL!!

But I didn’t. Air marshals and all that.

#3

For all the smack I could talk about the www (ps who says “talking smack” anymore? I certainly don’t. Ever.), there is one discovery I must celebrate: Lou LeBrun. For it is only through some random google searching this summer for “Springfield, Mo + accordion” that I found my (soon to be) accordion teacher. This 81-year-old treasure of a person performed today at The Library Center, for a crowd whose average age was skewed by a few decades with the addition of my friend Amanda and me. Lou has so much energy (and arm strength. Homegirl hauled around a 26-pound instrument for 90 minutes. Check out her guns, y’all!), and I want to be just like her in 50 or so years. I’ll work on that.

So thanks, Internet. I toast to you, on you.
(And then tweet about it.)
((And then google a few videos of kittens, just because I can.))

July July!

Summer is here, my friends! Birth-month is upon us, and I’m celebrating like any good nerd would, first with some Decemberists:
(there’s no video to this video. just the listening part.)

Then with some new goals! This TED talk I watched today inspired me toward a 30-day challenge. This fella (Matt Cutts, an engineer at Google) urges us to do as Morgan Spurlock (Mr. Supersize Me) would: try something you’ve always wanted to do for the next 30 days.

Goals with expiration dates can be easier to follow for an ADD/ENFP like myself. (So many acronyms!) If you’re dubious on the mental health and/or myers-briggs, fear not. Boiled down, this means I am among the sort who are lovers of new projects, enthusiastic joiners and starters, who rarely leave things completely complete. (Another TED talk from a beat-boxing bipolar spoken word artist {I know, swoon, right?} introduced me to the lovely pun mental skillness. I embrace this idea. Let’s start working with, not against, our problems for a while, shall we?)

So anyway, you don’t really need to watch the talk now. I’ve summed it up & it’s rather short. But if you’d like extra credit, here it is:

My 30 Day Projects are as follows:

1) Write something (non-work-related) every day this month. This is lofty, I know…luckily July has 31 days so I have a tiny bit of wiggle room…

2) Acquire an accordion and start learning to play it by July 31. This has been a dream of mine forever, when I watched “The Lawrence Welk Show” as a tiny kid, then Steve Urkel as a bigger kid, and now The Decemberists & Arcade Fire as former-kid. I only recently discovered that I get to do this if I really want to. That’s what being a grown-up means. Happy birth-month to me!

That’s all for now. No I didn’t forget something. Only 2 goals, you guys! The ADD/ENFP in me is learning to chill. Repeat: 2 goals accomplished > 20 goals abandoned. Step away from the to-do list. Keep your hands where I can see ’em…