A Memory

I think it was the summer before my junior year in high school that I didn’t really put much effort into playing the trumpet… I had played since sixth grade, and had never had to work too hard to have a good sound and play decently.

At this point, I think I had taken it a bit too much for granted, and so practicing had dropped quite low on my list of activities the summer before junior year.

I had also just spend a chunk of the summer studying in Spain, so my focus was more on Spanish – a subject I did not study in school – than on preparing for August chair placements for band.

My brother picked me up from the audition/chair test – he was an alum of the school, and so had spent a bit of time looking around while we were doing the test – and drove me on his motorcycle to a dance class.  I wasn’t taking the dance class, but I was working the welcome desk for it, in exchange for a free group class of my choosing later on… I also had the added benefit of watching this class happen, and learning from the seated sidelines.

Basically, I was focused on doing my best to live frugally with dance, because I was all too aware of my family’s financial situation – well, my mom’s side, anyway… my dad’s was a different story, but I functioned with the mind of one with extremely limited funds, so that’s why I was spending hours of my time working the welcome table at dance classes, in exchange for a ten-dollar class…

Anyway, so I rushed from the chair test to the dance class, loving the first ride on my brother’s motorcycle – while simultaneously being terrified(!) – and had asked a classmate to send me a text message with the results, when they came out in another ten or so minutes.

I was placed absurdly low in terms of capability…, and it hurt my spirit a lot.

But, I imagine, it was entirely valid based on the amount of practice I had put into it all.

I had begun this with a certain incident in mind, but I am not wondering if that incident was even that year… I am beginning to think it was the following year, my senior year, that this incident happened…, but I’m really not sure.

I shall continue with the incident, nonetheless…

So, I was placed after this one kid, who had become a semi-distant friend of mine.  We sat side-by-side five mornings a week for 45 minutes, and chatted here and there, so we were comfortable with one another’s company, but we didn’t spend time together outside of band, right?

Anyway, I had liked being in the Jazz Band, and you had to be placed so high in the count of trumpets in order to be included in the Jazz Band each year.  I had placed one below what was included in Jazz Band membership.  So, I initiated a challenge.  The two band directors each picked a selection of our current music, and told us to prepare to play those and any two scales that they would say at the challenge.

The day of the challenge arrived.  I played beautifully for the selections, and my sound quality was stellar.  The guy had incredibly powerful sound, though with a very odd and un-musical edge to it all, as usual.  The scales they selected, naturally, involved playing really high… something which I was not great at doing, but that usually didn’t matter at our area in the chair placements (higher notes for higher chairs), and I could play the ones that popped up in our music… what’s more, this kid and I played off the same sheet and stand, meaning the only difference, if I were to win the challenge, would be that we would switch chair spots, and that I would be in Jazz Band when it started up, but he would not be in it.  In terms of performance in the band, nothing would change.  Nonetheless, they picked scales that were hard for me, and I made the decision to play beautifully for a single octave, instead of iffily on the second octave… one I had been taught by the band director himself.

We had assigned ourselves the letters of A and B.  When the challenge finished, the directors came out from behind the wall, an area from which they had not been able to see us during the challenge.  They told us that player A had won, and who was that?  The guy wasn’t quite sure which letter he had been, and so looked to me questioningly for help.  I, processing much more than the result of the challenge, informed him kindly that he had been player A, and so nothing was changing with our chair rankings.

What was I processing?

Well, the way the band director had delivered the news… He had put on an air of unknowing, as though he hadn’t known who player A and player B had each been.  I had only been on the planet a teen number of years, and had minimal musical training,  – he had had probably more musical training than I had had in years of life itself – yet I could tell the difference in almost every player in our band, especially the trumpet players.  And he played trumpet, too, so I knew that he knew each of our individual sounds.  Especially between this guy and myself, the identification was easy… even for someone who had never heard us beforehand, one could accurately guess whose sound was which.

So, I knew the band director knew who had won… yet he pretended not to know, to be utterly unaware of who had been which player… It felt like he was proving a point to me, that I needed to practice more… no matter how good of a sound I had, if I didn’t improve further, I couldn’t even beat the nice guy with a weird sound.  I had taken lessons from the band director during my freshman year, but had been able to manage on my own eventually, and so we did not continue the lessons after a while.  For me, no matter what his intentions were, his pretended ignorance of who had one the challenge was like a slap in the face and a terrible scolding… I was embarrassed and somewhat heartbroken.

I had let someone else down, too…, not just myself.  I knew that he had wanted me to be in a higher chair placement, and that he had wanted me to be in Jazz Band.  But he was not going to let me do that without putting in a lot more effort.

Again, that is all my own interpretation at the time.

But it still holds about the same, looking back on it all today.

The irony of it all, however, is that, when Jazz Band started up that year, the band director casually upped the number of trumpets in Jazz Band… by one player.  So, I ended up in Jazz Band, anyway.

The following year (Or the year after that, depending on which year this had all been during), I ranked even lower in the chair placements at the end-of-summer chair test.  After several weeks of Jazz Band rehearsals, someone was sent one day to bring me into Jazz Band… so, I ended up in it then, too.  I was clearly good enough for Jazz Band – I even practiced that music, including when I didn’t really need to practice it, because that music came so naturally and easily for me – and the band director agreed with that sentiment enough that he kept letting me be part of it, even though I didn’t ever do well with the whole ‘practice on your own over the summer’ thing.  During the school year, I was always fine, and I always got A’s on my playing tests at grading periods.  It was when there wasn’t a concert or performance coming up, and I wasn’t surrounded daily by musicians and music that I struggled to practice and perform well.

I’m not entirely sure what brought all of this up today… I am reading a book about poetry that was recommended to me as a novelist/writer, because it is supposedly applicable to all forms of writing (which, the author even says this in the book, and it seems so far to be entirely true…, but it makes me want to write poetry now, too!).  Something in that got me thinking, and somehow sent me to that memory moment of embarrassment after the chair challenge with that guy.  I wonder if he even remembers it… if any of them do.  Clearly, it had some significance for me… whew…

Anyway… I’ll let that muse in the background, while I move on to other things in my day now. 😉

Post-a-day 2020

Stand up, and lose the pants

Yesterday, I was oxen the glorious opportunity of seeing a friend of mine complete an online challenge…

***Small tangent: You see, everyone has been – and by everyone, I mean a lot of people, not actually everyone – doing various challenges in their homes, and, upon completion, challenging someone else (often multiple someone elses) to complete the same challenge.

The ones I have seen have ranged all over the pace, including but not limited to juggling a toilet paper roll like a soccer ball, doing ten push-ups and nominating ten people to do them, doing 25 push-ups, singing a praise and worship song, chugging a beer, and doing specific hand motions to a fast song without being allowed to practice… to name one more than a few. ***End of small tangent

Today, I woke up focused and ready to complete my task, to complete this challenge with which my friend had presented me yesterday… hoping, at the very least, that I could complete it, for it was not an easy one…

Now, what was this challenge, you may wonder… I divulge:

The pants-less challenge: Either take off or put on a pair of pants, without using your hands, while holding a handstand.

Wow, right?

Of course, that’s the kind of challenge you get when you have acrobatic friends who find it funny that everyone is working from home in pajamas most days right now, and who imagine that a good chunk of everyone is at home with no pants on, since there is no one to see…

So, anyway, my friend did it with her onesie, which I found somehow hilarious, and so I elected to do the same with a onesie of my own.

Hers was a panda, and the one I selected for the task was a rainbow unicorn… equally suiting to our personalities, in a way…

It took many efforts – perhaps close to ten – for me to figure out how truly to make everything work and then actually to do what I had worked out to do… I can’t hold a handstand, – just pop up onto one and then come almost immediately back down – so I knew I would have to use a wall… behind that, though, all the rest of the strategy had to come from giving it a try and seeing what happened, finding out from trial and error a bit as to what works and what doesn’t.

Eventually, after lots of practice and a short break, I went all-out and got it(!!).

Woohoo.

Super silly, and I could hardly stop laughing, this challenge was so much fun.

I had been thinking at every challenge how unchallenging it really seemed to me to be, and how not-very-entertaining each one was…, ‘These are lame challenges,’ was a common thought from me… but not on this challenge – it was not only interesting, but kind of crazy, a tad scandalous, challenging, it made me think, and it was totally fun.

I loved it.

Feel free to give it a try in your own home – though no video is required, you might enjoy reminiscing immediately with what is likely to be some comical footage… and you might want to share it, anyway, even if you utterly fail… 😛

Wishing you loads of fun and silliness right now – laughter is, indeed, an amazing medicine. 😉

Post-a-day 2020

Good vs Evil vs Judgy People

I want to give more thought and writing thought and writing to this topic, but I just wanted to share briefly on it now, as it has been on my mind tonight.

At the opera tonight, I found myself wondering about how all the good things someone has done can be so easily disregarded the moment something bad shows up.

At least, when the bad is considered to be a high enough degree of bad, anyway, the good seems to be swept away.

People often declare a falseness to all the good – it could not be good, because it must have been motivated by something bad, since this bad we see now has happened…, because, it seems people are saying, the person is inherently bad.

Yet we are told that humans are inherently good – all the major religions seem to declare it, to some degree…, yet the crowd of accusations always seems to be filled with religious individuals belonging to those religions.

When someone does bad, do we not say it is often a cry for help, in some way or other?

If it is, then would we be not better placed helping the individual than condemning him or her?

And, even then, must we disregard all the good the person did separate from the bad the person did?

Having been the recipient of really bad, I threw this argument to myself tonight.

Can I (and do I) still accept and appreciate all the good the person contributed to my life, despite the extreme and intense bad the person thrust upon me in the end?

No, I do not like him or ever want to be around him again in my life, and I believe he is driven by a lot of pain that has led him to commit a lot of bad in the world around him.

But yes, I am grateful for the good acts I received from him.

… even if he had bad intentions behind them, I am still grateful for the benefits I received from the good.

And I know there were many times that bad drove the good acts from him…, but I also believe there were times that good drove his good acts… and I still appreciate all of the good acts, no matter the good will or ill intention behind them.

So, where does this leave me with society on this matter…?

I think as an outlier in my view…

Post-a-day 2020

Ouch

I decided Friday that I wanted to do another running challenge with my birthday as the deadline/goal line.  I had just run a bit over two miles, and I could feel the pain (though it was slight, I am not accustomed to two miles being any sort of painful).  And so I decided 66 miles total by my birthday, the end of February (most years, anyway).

With the consideration of upping it to 100 miles, I got myself out on another run today – I realized that running two miles every day would get me close to 100 anyway, and so, the more I run, the longer the distances get, and the less often I have to run (meaning not daily).  It ended on top of the riverbank hill, watching the sun set behind the clouds blocking Mt Fuji (Bummer, I know, but it was still beautiful.).  And that was great, except that, once I attempted to walk back home, I could barely use my legs.

As I had been running, it had felt like the second day of cross country practice all over again – a painful, when will this ever end beginning to my dislike of what was once one of my favorite pastimes.  Standing in my hot shower after the run, my right knee was swollen, and my legs felt worse than they have in years, as though preparing to give out beneath me, and crying silently all the while.

So, now I’m unsure as to what will happen with my running challenge, as I also have a swollen spot on the right side of my lower back (first time for that one), which also hurts… hmm.

The whole idea was a sort of way for me to release pent-up energy regularly, and to get myself fit like I want again.  Kind of like a Happy Birthday to me thing.  Let’s hope I wake up revived and well in the morning, shall we?  Yes, let’s. 🙂
Post-a-day 2017