Day 13, 14, and 15: I Seriously Need to Schedule Myself Better Than This

Yeeeeesh.  Where did the week go?  Where has the calendar betrayed me?  Where is my brain lately?  For the answers to these and other thrilling questions, tune in tomorrow…..

Nope, only kidding.  I’m getting it done TODAY.  Right, here we go.

Day 13: “Tell a story through a series of vignettes that together read as variations on the same theme.”  Okay, here goes:

Click.  The knitting needles sounded soothing and rhythmic as the blue-green yarn wound around them, mysteriously forming stitch after stitch, in a meditative state that comes to knitters when they’ve reached the state of knitting zen.

Tink.  The knitting needles jabbed a bit at each other as each mistaken stitch in the blue-green yarn was tugged apart due to the knitting zen that caused the knitter to stop paying attention to the pattern.

Gnash.  The knitter’s teeth made the unpleasant scraping sound as the hideous blue-green yarn was unceremoniously yanked out in a hot spaghetti mess on the floor as the dropped stitch fifteen rows earlier screamed “neener neener!”

Day 14: “Write a post that takes place during one single day.”

The elevator doors slid open and I stepped into the parking garage.  My car was not there.  Well, my car definitely was not there because it was in the shop waiting for its final diagnosis.  My rental car was not there.  It had been parked on the end spot right across from the elevator, so the only conclusion was I had gotten off on the wrong floor.  But wait!  What if there was an elevator on the other end of the floor?  Maybe that’s the one I was parked outside of?  Now picture me, walking all over this parking garage, looking for my rental car (a white van; nobody drives a white van, right?  Wrong!  EVERYBODY drives a white van and they all parked in that parking garage!) and turning many different ways.  During that treasure hunt, the garage called me with the list of woes and how much they would cost and to be honest, I really didn’t hear everything because I was thinking I’d have to tell them I lost their white van and maybe they shouldn’t use white vans as loaner cars in the suburbs?  But when I mentioned that I would love to call them back once I’m in the car and hopefully that would be soon as I seem to not be able to find it just at that moment, the mechanic gave me the helpful suggestion to hit the panic button.  (Insert some lofty and esoteric words here about needing a panic button for life.  Good.)  Do you know what hitting the panic button does in a garage?  IT ECHOES.  When it echoes, you can’t really hear from which direction the sound is issuing, so there was another ten minutes of me roaming around the place and beeping and shutting off the beeping.  Eventually, I found it, not on the fourth floor that I was sure I had parked on, but the second floor.  Next to a white van.  OF COURSE.  This time delay put me square in the middle of rush hour on a busy highway, and for the first time in three unemployed years, I needed to be somewhere on time.  All my long-buried commuting habits came back with a rush and I was calling people morons and glaring at those cutting in front of me and pounding the steering wheel with frustration when the car in front of me insists on going TWENTY MILES AN HOUR BELOW THE SPEED LIMIT and everyone is whizzing by and cutting in front of him which is making me slower…..

Reflecting on this episode, I have come to this conclusion: I don’t handle stress well.  Raise your hand if you’re shocked.

Day 15: “Without music, life would be a mistake.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

(Nietzsche is hard to type, yo.)

This is the quote I’m writing about because I was a music teacher.  I taught every grade level and I can tell you honestly that music doesn’t mean the same thing to same people.  To school administrators, it means “we have no money for your program but make sure you put on stellar concerts for the parents to like so they’ll support the school budget.”  To little kids it means “can we play on all the instruments really loudly and clap our hands and can we sing The Elephant Song again and again until you get that crazy look in your eyes?”  To older kids it means “I want to learn to play the trumpet/clarinet/saxophone/drums but I really don’t want to practice, it’s too hard, so can I just learn enough to be in the concert?”  To high school kids it means “music is everything to me and it’s going to be my focus when I’m out of high school.  I’m going to be a music teacher/recording star/songwriter and get the true message out there.”

But when you’re the music teacher?  It means telling your administrators several billionty times that no, you are not a jukebox and you can’t just play a little song as background for some meeting or other; telling little kids that we are learning about rhythm when we clap and play sticks and we’re not pounding them like a baby in a playpen, and telling their parents that no, we don’t just sing songs all day; telling older kids that if a commitment is being made to an instrument then it’s going to be a real commitment and of course it’s not easy, because if it was everybody would be doing it and that’s not what we’re into; and telling high school students that they should of course follow their dreams and be true to themselves but maybe take another course that would earn them some money.

And what do I tell myself?  That after fifteen years of teaching music, of not being respected by administrators or colleagues, of hearing lame excuses by parents why their children won’t be in the concert tomorrow night (we want to get an early jump on the holiday weekend traffic) and dealing with zero budgets for instruments or sheet music, and of too many nights and weekends away from home, I am glad to be done.  And after fifteen years of hearing sweet young voices united in song and beginning instrumentalists reading music and performing a song correctly with pride and hearing more experienced instrumentalists play music that moved me to tears with its simple beauty and watching high school students succeed in college and afterwards at their musical careers…..

I know it was all for a good reason.  No mistakes here, Mr. Nietzsche.

"A little softer, trumpets, listen for the flutes."

“A little softer, trumpets, listen for the flutes.”



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2 responses to “Day 13, 14, and 15: I Seriously Need to Schedule Myself Better Than This

  1. Ealachan

    I went to college thinking I wanted to be a music teacher, but your post makes me realize that said plan not working out for me was probably a good thing in the long run. I wouldn’t have had the patience to deal with the parents, the budgetary issues, any of it. I admire you for doing it for 15 years!

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