This is a story I wrote for my Creative Writing class. I got an A- on it, so I thought I’d share. Enjoy! 🙂
Learning A Lesson
I have always loved music. When I was a little kid I listened to what my dad listened to, which was everything from Dizzy Gillespie to The Beatles, and when I was very young I took piano lessons. The only thing I remember about my teacher was that she chose what I would learn and I wasn’t allowed to play anything else. I quit when I was five. As I got older I would fantasize about playing in a rock band on stage and being famous. I thought about it a lot from the time was eight years old or so. I never really thought I would be able to make my dream a reality though, for a few reasons.
I was born with Muscular Dystrophy, which makes my muscles weaker than normal and prevents me from fully extending my arms and legs or turning my hands over. I knew that the proper way to play the guitar was to hold it under the neck and I simply would not be able to do that. A few years passed and I continued to fantasize about playing guitar, but I never brought it up to my parents. When I was ten I started listening to my own music. One of the first bands I ever listened to that my father had not introduced to me was Green Day. It was songs like “Haha You’re Dead” that got my friend Julia and me through middle school.
Freshman year finally rolled around and in December of 2007 my parents bought me Guitar Hero 3 for Christmas. Julia and I got completely hooked. I discovered that I could play the game guitar over the neck by resting my hand on top instead of pressing the buttons from below as one normally would. After that I questioned, “Could I do this with a real guitar?” I wanted to find out, so in April my parents bought me a black and white beginner’s guitar for my birthday and called Ken, who was Julia’s teacher at the time to set up lessons. I had to wait a few weeks to begin, so in the mean time I had Julia teach me to play “Brain Stew” by Green Day. I figured out how to play the power chords “overhand” and I practiced that song like my life depended on it.
On May 5th, 2008 I got out of school and nervously anticipated my first lesson. I seriously hoped this would not be like piano lessons had been. At four o’clock my mom and I arrived at the studio, which was behind Wendy’s in one of those buildings that have several business in them. It was comprised of a small waiting room and two other rooms that were used by Ken and Jamie for teaching.
A few minutes before a tall, muscular, young-looking man with short blond hair and blue eyes came out of the room on the right, accompanied by a boy who looked to be around my age; fourteen or fifteen.
“Boooo! See ya later, buddy!” said the man as the boy was leaving. He then introduced himself as Ken and after we shook hands and my mom signed some paperwork, officially became my teacher.
We went into the room on the left as it was bigger and easier to move around in and Ken got a blue, plastic folding chair from the corner and placed it a short distance across from me. The room was large but cluttered. There were music stands and guitars and amps as well as one or two drum sets in various places, lining the walls. It looked messy and musical and exciting and it made me feel at home, in some strange way.
“So, do you know anything about playing guitar,” asked Ken.
Without thinking I said, “Yes! I know how to play ‘Brain Stew’ by Green Day!”
“Great! I’ll get on the drums and let’s jam it!”
I was nervous, but I had obsessively been practicing the song, so I knew I could play it. Ken sat down at the drums, which were facing the wall and instructed me to play the chord progression a few times on my own before he jumped in with the drums. It was the actual drum part from the song! How cool was that! We played for perhaps two or three minutes then Ken said that this would be the last time around. I finished the progression and came out at exactly the right time.
“That was great,” he said encouragingly. “Can I see how you were doing it?”
I had been somewhat dreading that question. What would he say when he saw that I was playing upside down? Would he still be willing to teach me?
I started playing again and after a moment he said, “Wait. Is there any particular reason that you’re playing like that?” It was not the response I was expecting, but I explained that I could not turn my hands over and I just figured that I could learn to play “overhand” since it worked for Guitar Hero and for the Green Day song.
“Well, just humor me for a sec,” he said patiently. “Just try and if we can’t figure something out I’ll just teach you your way.”
I tried holding the guitar at various angles, but it either made it impossible to reach the end of the neck or to play without the guitar slipping, so finally we gave up and Ken agreed to teach me “my way.” In the time remaining he taught me to play a G, D, A and E chord and gave me a chart so I could practice at home. He had almost immediately adapted to playing “overhand.” I memorized the chord shapes quickly, but I could not switch between them quickly enough to play a progression. I vowed that I would be able to by the next lesson, but for now we were out of time.
I absolutely love this song. I’m going to see these guys in April. It’s the first time I”ll be seeing a Christian band and I’m super excited. I think there is a lot of truth to be found in music. I often find it easier to connect with music than things that I read straight from the Bible. Of course sometimes things from the Bible happen to be exactly what I need at the moment.
Music is in my soul. I love to write pros and poetry, but I really love to write music. I love to sing and play guitar, and I love to worship. I went to a worship service a week or two ago at school, and it was just awesome. Being with a group of people who are all singing the same songs, possibly even in harmony and worshiping God is extremely cool.
That’s all I have for tonight, peeps. Good night. 🙂
This is my mom’s birthday. She’s turning 50. My dad and I have been planning a big party for a few weeks now. Her sisters and a couple cousins are coming with their kids. A few family friends are coming, and her mom and my dad’s mom as well as Dad’s sister and her daughter are also coming.
We rented a super nice hall and got an epic cake and my dad made a slide show with pictures of Mom and him and some of my brother and me. We’re going to have a “roast,” but since my mom doesn’t take abuse well we’re going to have to say nice things. When I get married or something we will be having a real roast. Bring it on! My dad’s side basically lives on friendly abuse and my brother and I inherited that.
My mom really didn’t want to turn 50. She’s decided that 50 is officially old. I don’t know why it bothers her. I’ve been calling both my parents old since they were 40. In fact, “Daddy” and “Old One” are basically interchangeable. He thinks it’s funny. He has a pink shirt that says “Old Guys Rock” on the back. In all seriousness though, she says it’s because it’s quite probable that half, if not more of her life is over.
I’ve said to her over and over in conversations about other stuff that the party in Heaven is going to be EPIC! It didn’t sink in until Ken, who was my guitar teacher and is my friend and mentor told her. How come she listened to him and not me? I guess maybe it’s because I’m her daughter and because he’s older and probably knows more what he’s talking about when it comes to this kind of stuff. It’s one of those things you just have to believe. It makes life a lot easier and less scary if you do.
She got her hair done this morning. She insists on coloring over they grays at least twice a year. All the neighbors wished her a happy birthday on Facebook and my friend called to ask what she could bake her for her birthday. I think our party is going to knock her socks off and knock the “holy crap I’m old” sentiment right out of her.
Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. I hope all you romantic people out there are planning to do something special. I have to check if Victoria Station is doing their open mic tomorrow night, but if they are that’s where I’m headed. It would be nice if I could play a couple love songs or something, but I don’t think I actually know any. I’m not even kidding, I don’t think I have a single love song in my repertoire. I’ll play some of my new stuff anyway.
I hate to admit it, but I get a little bummed out around Valentine’s Day sometimes. I don’t really even know why. I feel like February is a horrible time for a holiday dedicated to love. It’s cold, man! I don’t actually think I’m a very romantic person. I don’t even know what you’re supposed to do if you’re in love. I’ve never quite understood what defined something as a date versus just hanging out with a friend of the opposite gender. Does kissing define something as a date?
I’m curious to know what kissing is like. It seems kind of gross, to be perfectly honest. I like hugs. Hugs are lovely.
Although its kind of hard to admit it, I do kind of like sappy love stories. Have a super awesome day tomorrow, peeps. 🙂
I believe that God created the heavens and the earth out of nothing. I believe that since the beginning of time there has been order in the universe and that God has a plan; He’s always had a plan. I believe that God can literally do anything if He wants to, and I believe in miracles. I believe that miracles still happen all the time, though they might be different from the miracles of the Bible.
I believe that God sent his son to grow up with regular people and teach His ways to those regular people and sacrifice Himself for those regular people, even for me. I believe that Jesus loves me, and I believe that He’s looking out for me.
I wish I could say that I understand what that means, and I wish I could say it isn’t an absurd thing to believe, but I don’t and it is, and I believe it anyway.
Sometimes the truth is absurd, and I’m ok with that.
There is no one way to worship God. Sometimes different forms of worship are appropriate or inappropriate, depending on the circumstances. It is very dangerous to allow worship to become routine. We can profess the faith in church every week and be thinking about lunch while we recite empty words. This is not to say that a mellow church service is a bad way to worship, but we have to be careful. Mellow all the time can get dull, and the last thing we want is for our faith to get dull.
God is complex, so it only makes sense that we should worship Him in many different ways. It can be very easy to put God into a box and only take Him out when we feel like it. We are meant to worship God in everything we do. In my opinion, church is like school. We go there partly to worship, but I think mostly to learn about God’s Word. Contemporary worship music makes me feel much more “in the zone,” so I think that playing a few worship songs on the guitar and praying is a simpler and stronger form of worship. Of course this probably sounds absurd to some people, and I recognize that. It is not how we worship but who we worship that matters.
I have struggled with the idea that we are meant to worship God in everything we do. I’m not entirely sure what that means. I may still be a little confused about what the word “worship” actually means; or maybe I’m just thinking too hard. I really don’t know how reading Edgar Alan Poe for school could possibly be glorifying God, but perhaps I take it too literally. God has given me the gifts of music and words and I want to do something with these gifts that will be glorifying to Him. It is the waiting that frustrates me. How are the small, seemingly mundane things I do every day acts of worship? I still haven’t figured that out.
I wish I did have all the answers, because I want to be helpful, but I don’t. I think that we should just keep in mind that God has a plan for this world and try to make our every day shenanigans “work” with Hid plan. We also have to keep in mind that His agenda is much more important than our own. I don’t mean to sound like I know more than anyone else on this stuff. I just figured I’d throw out what I think and what I know.
I just checked my stats for this blog as I do every so often, and I discovered that I have 43 people following my wordy shenanigans! That’s just so cool! When I started this blog I wasn’t sure I’d get anyone to read it let alone follow it! I’m still not exactly sure why people are following me. I’m not sure what people like to read and what kind of posts get the most attention, but evidently people like my stories and my philosophical banter, so I guess I’ll just keep rambling!
The hope is that this blog might be helpful or somehow inspiring. I probably don’t achieve that as often as I would like, but the fact that you guys are following makes me think I might have few little gold nuggets somewhere mixed in with the poop.
I sincerely want to say thank you to you guys for reading, and I want to thank God for the success that I’ve had because He puts the words in my head when I don’t know what to write. If you have any advice for me from any perspective at all, please comment.
It’s snowing! We’re supposed to get a good dumping (I think 1 1/2 to 2 feet). I usually only have 1 class on Friday, but classes were canceled today. I would have got up early to do homework this morning, but I slept in since I didn’t have class. It was glorious. It doesn’t seem to be snowing too hard now, but I guess it will get bad later this afternoon and tonight. It will be really nice with the wood stove cranking. I think a good nerdy movie like Star Wars or something is in order. Some people have man caves in their basements. We have a nerd cave. I’m just about done with my cup of coffee. I might grab a second and some food and get some non-school-related work done before I tackle the homework.
I don’t know if any of you guys who read are from New England, but if so, good luck with the snow! Enjoy it! 🙂
I wrote a post about a month ago explaining my plans for the semester and the rest of the year, so I though I’d do an update.
School is good. Music is not at all what I expected, but I still like it. It’s very much history and philosophy based. I was a bit worried about Romanticism, but so far I’m liking it (although Emerson kind of pisses me off). The things we read in American Lit are pretty cool, but I don’t really like the prof. He basically told us that his interpretation is the right one and if we disagree, we’re wrong. I just got my first essay back from Creative Writing and I did really well. The final version is due later today.
My teacher gave me the “ok” to start working on a lesson plan for a songwriting class. We’re going to run it for a week and see how it goes once I finish it (hopefully this week). I will get paid, and if it goes well we will probably do more of a once a week thing. He ran an idea by me that I at least think is a good one; he’s going to sell membership cards so that you get free admission to events with the card and you have to just pay cash without one. That way he could run more and better events.
Unfortunately my novel has pretty much taken a back seat for a few reasons, the big ones being time constraint and other projects. School and music are once again the only things I really have time for. I’m also realizing that I may not have the attention span or the creative power to do the whole fantasy thing. I really enjoy writing shorter pieces (anywhere from 3 to 20 pages depending on what I’m writing), and of course I love blogging. I am working on a few things that I would like to try to get published in a journal or something.
My CD is about half way done. We just have to mix my 5th song and then I’ll put it up on Soundcloud. I’m auditioning to play one of the coffee houses my school has throughout the semester. I’m hoping I get in one of the later ones and that they might let me sell copies of my CD. I would probably have to give some of the proceeds to the school or something, but I’m cool with that. I know they let people sell CDs at one of the places I do open mics, so hopefully I’ll have it finished by spring break. Otherwise I will probably have to wait until May to do an open mic. At this point I’m willing to just work like a psycho to get it done. Some of the songs I have left to do should go quick because I’m thinking they should be simpler.
I seriously go back and forth on whether I want to do music or writing for a living even though I think writing is probably more lucrative. Music is just so ridiculously fun any way you slice it.
I do have another idea about how to make a little money by blogging. This blog is of course very personal and random, but I’m thinking about doing a different blog about hats and possibly style/fashion in general. Weirdly enough, I think that would be fun.
Well I actually do have a deadline to meet, so I have to get to work.