Tuesday: On my way back from picking up a bike trainer from Algonquin, I passed Chris coming in from a phone call. (Yeah, I've mentioned this elsewhere.) There was just - something... I can't describe it very well, but something nice about working there with a friend, quietly, the white van with its door cracked open so soft music would pipe into the nightspace, headlights beaming sharp shadows of bike parts onto the garage door, jimmying tools in a manner they weren't designed for but worked quite well for anyway - I like night hacking. I like it a lot. When done in a relaxed manner (i.e. for fun, not for impending Deadline of Doom), it gives me a glorious sense of peace and mindspace I don't often get to enjoy.

Greg would probably call it romantic #2. I don't think we've really solidified the definitions yet, but the #1 kind of romantic is the kind directed at people in exclusive emotional relationships; flowers, hearts, sweeping movie themes coinciding with kiss-laden reconciliations, images of hypothetical shiny-armored white knights, etc. etc. insert things I don't particularly like here. The #2 kind is romance... I was going to say "about ideas," or "that you can share with people" (as opposed to being about/directed-at people), but neither is exactly accurate. But things like watching a sunset, or listening to the adagio cantabile of Beethoven's piano sonata no. 8 (pathetique) after going through its thunderous first movement, or traveling across the world writing letters to friends with a fountain pen, or using your jacket as a pillow on the floor of a friend's loft - the intake of breath that creates space before the last line of a haiku.

That kind of romance. A headlight-lit driveway workspace has it in droves. I like.

Today: I should stop using my friends as a shield and a buffer from things and a help with things that I should really suck up and deal with, although the flip side of this is "whoa, I've become more vulnerable and less purely self-reliant than usual... activate terror and pride, full reverse thrust!" Thanks to Andrew and Tank and Nikki and Chris who have borne with me being a whiny self-deprecating slacker this past week. It happens once in a while.

I'm grateful for people.

Flared up with being angry again today, multiple times. Not anywhere close to losing my temper (this is exceedingly rare; i think I've become restrainedly snappish at people for... maybe a grand total of 5 sentences over the last more-than-decade), but enough to smolder inside my gut in a way that wouldn't flick out immediately when I turned the "world is good! be happy!" juice on.

I'm going to be cryptic here: I'm frustrated that I get frustrated about the things I get frustrated about. I feel like they're really not that big a deal and I should be able to live with things and brush them off and recognize that they'll pass and I should just cave and let them pass and then move on. I feel like a wuss for being so easily set off, and then like a wuss again for swallowing it instead of acting to resolve my frustrations. Ideally, I should either act to clear my frustrations or rewire myself so I don't have those frustrations in the first place. In reality, it's not that simple, I'm not brave enough to hurt myself that much, and the incompletely inflicted masochism leads to other people taking on collateral damage, and feh, end whining now.

Good investment for eventual domicile: punching bag, or set of dumbells, or a chin-up bar, or really just something to wrestle against when I get boiled up inside, since tearing in circles around the cul-de-sac isn't exactly satisfying. I should go further, but don't actually know what it's like to bike outside the 3 streets I was allowed to go on as a kid, and going on unfamiliar, unsidewalked routes at night while angry requires a much lower sanity threshold than even I have. I suppose I should learn how to spar, but that necessitates other people, which is not always an option.

I can always boost up my "world is good!" abilities - it's really helpful to be able to be happy - actually happy, not acting-happy, and enthusiastic about things - under nearly any circumstances. I do tend to overshoot and get hyperactively joyous, so the PID control on Mel-happy could use some tuning.

I'd like to be able to escape to the keyboard more. Self-consciousness at other people hearing me play (crappily) hinders this; other people sleeping when I have free time to play also hinders this, and the piano being in the same room as the television really hinders this. I'd really like either a digital keyboard (weighted, 88-key, headphones-plug-innable, sustain pedal - beyond that, I'll take whatever I can get) or a lousy upright in an acoustically isolated empty room with a door I can lock.

In any case, I managed to get there before the tube-watchers did this evening, and sightread through a Rachmaninoff cello-piano sonata (the piano bit) which I have to cut down because even with super-modified fingering my hands start hurting from trying to stretch to hit all the notes. Slid through a transcription of bits of a Billy Joel / Ray Charles duet ("Baby Grand") with nice bendy grace notes and smooshed up chords in the corners. Didn't really practice anything seriously. Just sightread. I guess I should learn a piece well enough to know a piece again at some point; my discipline is lacking.

Sightreading is something I have been slightly more disciplined about trying to learn - there was a book on sightreading in the library, and I've been trying to go through it, and it's been good for me. First of all, apparently other pianists stutter too - that is, since we're used to playing a solo instrument, we take extreme liberties with the beat so that we can slow down to wait for our hands to hit the right notes (after severe amounts of hesitation), correct and repeat notes we've missed (throwing us further off-tempo), and generally do things that are Not Conducive To Playing With Other People.

Also, sightreading + my tendency to watch my fingers as I play (due to lack of auditory input) = Lots Of Stuttering as I continually hop between watching sheet music and watching hands and losing my place. Obviously sightreading and playing-from-memory are going to need to develop different strategies here. As a first pass, I'm trying to force myself to learn how to sightread by feel, because I can't depend on auditory input, especially when other musicians start joining the mix. I can only play-by-feel on pieces I know very well, or at least I used to be able to.

In high school I'd occasionally play on my dinky electric keyboard while my roommate studied by just running through the piece with the keyboard turned off - if I really knew the piece (I kept up the last few pieces i played in middle school for a while by playing them once a month or so when I passed a piano or got in a keyboard-mood in high school), I could play it with the keyboard off and my eyes closed and still hit all but the gigantic leaps... I'd have people listen through the headphones to check if I was doing okay.

I wish I either played music better or loved it less. The latter is unlikely to ever happen. The former has always been extraordinarily difficult for me to hit past a certain point; music isn't memorizing muscle movements, but glory, listening is hard. Hard in a way that makes me scared I won't be able to find a way to fudge past it, and scared that I'll be left out of being able to do "real music" forever. This is the one thing that would ever make me consider going through surgery or praying fora miracle or whatever the heck other ways there might be to get my ears "fixed." The ability to participate in music.

Oh! (turns on happy-switch) You can make funny clicking noises by bringing your tongue to the roof of their mouth and sorta snapping it down, apparently. I can't do it yet. It's only audible to me when I put on my hearing aids, so I was completely perplexed when I turned them on in the office on Thursday and all of a sudden these SOUNDS were there and oh whoa they're made by PEOPLE. Huzzah for learning new things!

Book on sketching by Bill Buxton is most excellent, and sketching is something I should do again. I'll bring a sketchbook this weekend.

I have a fuzzy blanket. I'm going to sleep (yay sleep!) and tonight I watched Batman with Andrew. And tomorrow I'm going to Wisconsin to see Andy and Erica, and that will be most excellent. And I wonder how it's like to love something enough that you're okay with people hating you for it - or to have the thing you love hate you, and be okay with that even as it aches like the devil. And tonight I had cheesecake-chocolate ice cream. And books (with theirdizzying trails of intellectual adventure - we're talking textbooks here) are stacked high in my room, and - oh, I have large amounts of good music stacked beside me, and a place to be verbose, and beds are soft and for sprawling-in, and water feels good on your face.

Can has!

Is happy.

Good night.