Cello lesson #3

I’m a little bleary, having not slept since I woke up early yesterday morning. But I powered through a cello lesson anyway with encouragement from Luna.

(I think I’m mildly hypomanic, despite taking my meds regularly. Hopefully it’s a fluke. Staying up *checks clock* going on 30 hours is never a good idea. And I’m still wide awake.)

Anyway. Right before the lesson I sat down to tune my baby. I happened to be sitting on the edge of my chair instead of all the way on it and leaning against the backrest. And holy hell, I sounded better.

I mentioned this to Luna as soon as the call got going, and she looked gobsmacked. “I didn’t teach you that? Why didn’t I teach you that?”

Glad I figured it out. Made the whole lesson better. More comfortable.

I played the “Long, Long Ago” variation, and then it was on to Mozart’s “May Song.” The rhythm is weird, but it’s a lot of fun. Very whimsical. I enjoyed it.

Because I picked it up quickly, she started me on Bach’s “Minuet No. 1”. This is a big deal, because it’s the first time I’ve shifted my fingering hand. I started learning to go from first to second position and back. I did a decent job sight-reading the bulk of the piece, which felt good.

We also spent a few minutes with the Vivaldi. I was getting worn out by that point, I’ve got to admit.

So my homework is practicing scales (and Luna is having me purchase a scales book), the Mozart, the Minuet (with emphasis on the shifting parts), the first eight notes of Bach’s “Cello Suite No. 1” (continuing from last lesson), and playing the Vivaldi with a metronome at assigned speeds. It’s a lot, yeah, but I’m happy for it. I have two weeks before my next lesson, and I enjoy having a wide range of things to work on. Keeps me from getting bored.

(I still can’t believe I’ve been sitting wrong this whole time. Sigh.)

Cello lesson #2

I am officially done with Bach’s Minuet in C, which I feel a little weird about because it doesn’t sound perfect yet, but I have to remind myself that perfect is not a thing. Especially for novices.

I am now on “Long Long Ago” in C (hey, it’s Suzuki Book #2, exciting!) and its variation. The variation requires a lot of string changes, but as Luna plans to make me do part of Bach’s Cello Suite #1 soon, I need the practice.

We also worked on Vivaldi’s “Spring”, the dumbed-down violin part converted to cello here. Luna had me put in a bunch of bowing on the sheet music, and I’m doing some fingering notations on my own (wherever I slow down). I can sight-read this piece pretty well, since I’ve been listening to Vivaldi since I was tiny, but baroque bowing is hard so I’m getting distracted by trying to emulate Luna.

So I have tons to practice, which makes me happy.

She said my bowing elbow is doing better, by the way. So yay.

A very spiteful kitty

My cat, Eris, seems to understand the concept of revenge. To wit:

Last night I forgot to put the bag of cat treats back in the cabinet. I laid down to sleep, and heard crinkling. I know that sound well, so I went to the kitchen and took the bag — which he hadn’t managed to chew through yet — away, and put it back in the cabinet.

I got in bed. Closed my eyes. Suddenly there was a crash as he knocked almost everything off my nightstand. I growled at him. He went away.

I heard a strange noise from the bathroom. Since it wasn’t the sound of anything landing in the toilet, I decided not to investigate.

This morning he had somehow removed the toilet seat from the toilet.

I’m not joking. It was laying tilted, one side resting on the floor between toilet and bathtub.

I used that toilet last night, and that seat was firmly on there. I swear it.

What the fuck, cat. What the ever-loving fuck.

Rage

I am furious. Furious with Republicans, willing to exchange human lives to line their pocketbooks during a fucking pandemic. Furious that I have to vote for a rapist as president to keep another rapist from completely destroying my country.

I want to march in the streets with other furious people. Tear down the homes of the one percent. Show these callous, greedy, bigoted pigs that the people are stronger than them. Worth more.

2020 is turning me into a radical. And it’s not the pandemic, it’s the people.

Every day, Trump does or says something even worse than what’s come before. Every day, we slide further into a hell of the wealthy’s creation.

I have had it. I don’t know what to do about it, but if I find people I can ally myself with I am happy to march with them.

Fuck the Right.

Cello update

I’ve been practicing almost every day since my lesson. I missed two days because the antibiotics for a sinus infection were making me exhausted, but as soon as I finished the bottle my energy came back and I got back to practicing.

I’ve been very concerned about how my body is when I play, and I had a breakthrough tonight. If I hold my cello about 3″ higher on my chest, with the top of the body sitting about where the button of an open-collared shirt sits, everything feels more natural and comfortable. I wish I’d known this years ago. In this new position, it’s easier to keep my shoulders relaxed and my left wrist level. It’s also easier for bowing from the elbow and not the right shoulder.

I feel stupid for not figuring this out years ago, and mildly annoyed at my teacher for not helping me get it right back then. Ah well. Better late than never, and better now when I’m relearning muscle movement than after it got ingrained again.

I sound so, so much better with the cello repositioned, too. Less like I’m strangling a large furry mammal. Yay for practicing.

The app for sight reading is fun. I didn’t use it tonight, as I was focused on mechanics, but it scores me wrong if I don’t get the pitch right on the cello. So it encourages not only sight reading skills, but good fingering. Yay.

By the time I quit tonight, the Minuet in C sounded like a song. Kind of gritty, still, but more like music than hamfisted sawing.

(By the way: yesterday Mom slept through my cello practices. Both of them. Napping in her recliner, six feet away from me, as I played. I was shocked. And no, she wasn’t dead, I checked.)

Recently I started listening to some Romany music, and the violins are just, yum. Since I already enjoy doing Irish music on cello, I want to do Romany violin parts too. Because why not? Maybe Gogol Bordello will hire me. (Kidding, kidding. I doubt I’d ever be good enough, even if I wanted to be in a punk band.)

Ooooh. Pogues songs. Yes. I want to play Gogol Bordello and Pogues songs. Folk punk cello.

It’s good to have goals. Even strange ones.

Gray areas

There is basically no area in my life where I am binary. I’m pansexual, genderqueer, didicoy, ambidextrous, schizoaffective. I am a creature of borders. Which is normally okay with me, but sometimes I wish I had a tribe of my own. I have tried joining groups based on identity, but there is always something about me that doesn’t quite fit.

Again, usually this is fine. I have good friends, many of whom I’ve known more than twenty years. I have friends I would trust with my life, and I am close to a couple of my family members. I have people I love and who love me back.

But every once in a while I wonder, “wouldn’t it be neat to meet others more like me?” But I believe most people want that, at some point.

Just thinking.

First cello lesson in 4 years

Cello lesson was great! Wow I need to work on my mechanics. Turns out I’ve been bowing wrong for years, so it’s maybe a good thing that I stopped playing for awhile and am restarting. Teacher certainly thinks so. By the end of the lesson I sounded a million times better (although still objectively terrible) and I’m committed to working on my bowing style daily. (Subject to health changes, naturally, but if I’m capable I’m going to do it.) I have muscle memory in both hands/arms to build up before I feel comfortable doing anything fun, which is fine with me.

Amusingly, my mom slept through the lesson, in her bedroom with the door mostly closed. When I went to let her know I was finished she was snoring. And here I was worried about annoying her…

So my homework for the next two weeks is lots of bowing practice, some fingering drills, and a bit of Minuet in C if I feel like it. But mostly it’s about the mechanics.

I also found an app that helps with sight reading, which lets you play the notes on your instrument itself. The app hears you and tracks your score. I’m going to play with it a little, but again, my focus is getting my body moving the right way.

I’m glad I’ve restarted lessons. This is good for me.

Genealogy Deep-Dive

I always get bored reading other people’s posts about their family census data and whatever, so I won’t get into it much here. But it was pretty cool seeing pictures of ancestors, and figuring out that my grandfather was probably the result of an affair my great-grandmother had, and reading documents in old-timey handwriting.

It annoys me greatly that my father is not an honest person. He probably knows more about his father’s past than I can find out from the internet, but I can’t trust a word he says.

I told Mom about all this, and she’s been telling me more about my dad’s father. She liked him a lot, and he apparently doted on her and on me when I was little. He would take two-year-old me for walks while Mom was pregnant with my younger sister, bring me toys… She says he was exceptionally well-read and one of the smartest men she’s ever known, even though he wasn’t formally educated. He worked in the boiler room of the local mental hospital. Grandma was a nurse there. Before that he was a coal miner, and I think she was a seamstress? They both did a lot of different things.

Grandma could knit, crochet, quilt… She made all her children’s clothes when they were growing up. She taught me to knit when I was about nine, and made me dolls. But I was always closer to Grandpa. (Physically as well as emotionally — Grandma had this horrible little dog that would bite me if I got too close to her.) When I went to visit them I would look through Grandpa’s piles of books to find something to read, and I remember us sitting on the porch lost in our respective novels, usually after he made me a cup of tea. I felt terribly mature, drinking tea and reading with him.

Happy memories. I wish I’d gotten to know him as an adult. I think we would have gotten along well…

Culture stuff

A few years ago, I found out my father is Roma. He had told my mom and us kids he had darker skin because he was part Cherokee. I had come to doubt him, so I got a DNA test. No Native American blood at all. I confronted him, and he admitted the truth. Roma, with some Jewish ancestry as well.

I can kind of understand. From what I’ve read, a lot of Roma have strong internalized racism. Dad could pretend he wasn’t Roma, so he did. Still does — he swore me to secrecy, but given that he’s treated me like shit my whole life, I feel no need to keep that oath. Also, it’s my heritage too, and I refuse to feel shame over it.

(After all, he’s ashamed to have a child who’s transgender and queer, and he hates that I’m so far out of the closet about it. He and I don’t talk much. He voted for Trump, I mean… ugh.)

So I am didicoi — half Roma, half gadje. I know little about my father’s side of the family, as my grandparents died in a car accident when I was 12. My mother knew them, though, and they were somewhat typical poor Southerners. (Both my parents were born and raised in Kentucky.) She never would have guessed they were Roma, so I don’t know at what point they assimilated, but I know there are other Roma families in that area because my dad and his high school girlfriend looked as though they could have been related.

When I found out my true ancestry, I tried to learn some about what I was, but didn’t have much luck finding info. So I stopped looking for a while. But this last week I did a few Zoom meetings, and I was shocked to see how dark I looked compared to the fully white people in the chats. I did the meetings in different rooms, and I used different devices too; it wasn’t the lighting or my webcam making me look darker. I found it kind of shocking, because I was raised to think of myself as mostly white, and compared to Dad I’m pale. But here I was, looking dark compared to my friends. It was interesting. I pass as white, but I’m obviously not as pale as I thought I was! Strange how perceptions change.

It got me wanting to look up more about my ancestry again, and I was lucky enough to come across the Romani Rainbow Tumblr. LGBTQ+ Roma? Yes please! Through that blog I found ROMBASE, which I’ve been reading this morning, and I bought Ronald Lee’s Learn Romani language book last night. I’m thinking about temporarily signing up for Ancestry.com as well, because I know my dad has done a lot of geneaology stuff there and I want to see my paternal family history.

(I know my maternal history. My grandmother was a geneaology fiend, long before the days of the internet and digitized records. Mom is half Irish descent, half German-and-Russian. But really, both sides of her family were in America by the mid-1800s. Culturally I’m a Southerner more than anything else.)

Yeah, I think I’ll sign up for Ancestry.com. All my dad’s ever told me is that my ggg-grandmother listed her occupation as “spinner” on the census, which he thinks is cool because I spin professionally as well. (That could indicate long-ago assimilation, because AFAIK Roma don’t have a textile-making tradition.)

So yeah, I want to learn more.

Oh, random comment about my dad’s family: I do know my grandparents were polyamorous. Not in those terms, but Grandma had a male lover who regularly ate dinner with the family when my dad was growing up, and the lover fathered one of my aunts.

I also know my grandparents were awful to their children and very abusive. I don’t blame my dad for hating where he comes from, but I do blame him for not being a better person than he is. He never hit us kids, but he was still an ass, and continues to be one to this day. Oh well. At least my mom turned out awesome, even though her parents were flawed too. Oh, the stories I could tell, but won’t because it would embarrass Mom… :)

Happy things

I didn’t blog yesterday because my antibiotics are making me tired. I slept a good portion of the day, but this morning my face doesn’t hurt despite me not taking Sudafed since 13 hours ago! (And I have the short-acting stuff, which can be taken every 4 hours.) There’s definitely still some sinus pressure, but I no longer feel like there’s an icepick in my right eye. Definitely improvement.

Yesterday morning I registered for classes at the local community college. I’ve always wanted to learn calculus, and have never gotten the chance. Also, it’s on my bucket list to get a degree in statistics. (Preferably a PhD, but I’ll start with a bachelor’s in it to see if I want to commit to a doctoral program.) Getting into the local university’s stats program requires completion of Calc 3. I never got higher than College Algebra when I was getting my B.A. in psychology, so I’m going back to learn calculus. If I hate it, that’s okay. I can find other things to study. But you never know until you try, right?

So this fall I’m taking Trig and Pre-Calc, so I can take Calc 1 next spring. (I’m planning to take Chemistry then, too, simply because I’m interested in it and never got to take it in high school. When I take Calc 2 I want to take Physics as well, for the same reason.) I’m doing both classes in person, because I’m good at math but not so much at arithmetic. When a real person grades my work I tend to get good marks, because I can show my work and they can see I know the material. If a computer is grading me, all it cares about is my final answer. It’s the difference between getting an A and a C, for me. I think I have mild dyscalculia, actually…

If I get a job between now and August, I can of course put off classes for a bit, or take just one at a time after business hours (once I get used to being employed). But for now, I’m signed up for Tues/Thurs morning classes. I researched the professors and chose carefully. Hopefully that will help. I get disabled student status at school and get help on note-taking, etc., but some professors are more sympathetic than others.

Otherwise, yesterday was pretty quiet. Lots of resting, some cheesecake… I didn’t play my cello because I was honestly unsure if I could lift my instrument. That’s how tired I was all day. I’m going to take it easy today, too, although I want there to be cello. Practicing is rewarding and I don’t want to skip it.

I have so, so many things I want to be working on lately. I’m enjoying cello. I have knitting, weaving, and spinning projects in progress. I’m in a Coursera class (Data Science with Python), and want to score some points on HackerRank in JavaScript. I have a web site I want to build with Python/Django, and a Discord bot I wrote in JS that I need to repair. I have a handful of fanfics I want to finish. Oh, and I’m learning a new language. It’s not that I tend to start stuff and never finish it. I’m pretty good at completing projects. The problem is that I’ve got too many of them at the moment, and they’re all fun.

I need to prioritize them, I think. Hm. Spinning commission first — I’m almost done with it, and that makes money. Cello doesn’t take long every day, nor does half an hour of language study. And I’ll only work on one programming thing at a time, starting with fixing that Discord bot (shouldn’t take too long, and a friend is waiting on it). Okay, yeah. That’s enough per day, and if I get inspired to work on a fanfic I’ll add that in. I fell better having a plan. I can’t set a schedule for myself — those never work out for me — but I can limit how much I’m doing at one time.

I have another blog post to write, then I’ll have breakfast, and then get to work…