Which is too bad, because I had a major pansy episode yesterday, which I will get to shortly. First… my goals for the last 19 days and my progress toward each:
1. Create a more complete version of The Messenger.
Done. I now have a full song.
Extra Credit A
I have a 2nd full song, "Everything to Me" … about the tendency for us (me) to expect our (my) partner to be everything we (I) want them to be at the exact moment we (I) want them to be that (and then be something entirely different in a split second). It seems kind of foolish to think happiness and fulfillment is something someone else gives you. Ultimately, it seems like a way to shirk responsibility for taking care of ourselves and a recipe for a lifetime of unsatisfying relationships. (For that matter, my current working theory on relationships is that a good partner supports and encourages the other's efforts to self-elevate.)
It's also about kittens and bunnies and puppies.
Extra Credit B
I have a 3rd partial song that has 2 verses and no name. It's in Drop D tuning. It's about a world of despair and death and destruction. (Just kidding.)
2. Figure out at least the verse for No One is to Blame.
Done. I don't have it memorized, but I can play most of it. Now I just have to practice it. [Eye roll.]
Extra Credit C
I learned The Gambler by Kenny Rogers. The Gambler! I like the idea of playing kind of corny cover songs that everyone knows and no one expects. I grew up listening to a lot of Kenny Rogers and Alabama, and The Gambler was one of my very favorites as a kid. The chords are super crazy easy (G C D). I can't pick them the way he does, but I slowed them down and made the verses into a waltz, and I think once I polish it, it will be kind of cool.
3. Make a list of all the positive things to be gained from this experience.
I forgot to do this again. Seems like it would be easy enough, right? Ah well.
4. 10 hours of practice.
Done. At least 10 hours. I've actually been playing a ton the past two weeks. I haven't logged my practice time, but I'm 100% positive I've put in well over 10 hours; and I have the calluses to prove it. I haven't been doing the drills from Professor Chris, but I'm okay with that.
5. Attend an open mic.
5. Attend an open mic.
I didn't do this. I waited too long to look for open mic schedules, and by the time I found them, clubs were taking breaks for holidays, and the earliest was January 6. So: Des Moines sistas, I'm looking at the Des Moines Social Club (every Thursday) and Ritual Cafe (2nd Thursday of the month). Wanna come? Again: NOT PLAYING! Just observing.
My Giant Pansy Episode
by Patresa Hartman
Yesterday I had a giant pansy episode. I told Chris I'd learned The Gambler. He got excited and asked me to play it for him. Since starting the COFFEE project, I've gotten a lot better about playing for Chris. This has felt like progress.
[This is where I take a time-out to emphasize the degree of my fear. Chris's unconditional support is on-par with my parents'. There is absolutely nothing in the world I could do or say or f**k up enough for him to insult me or be embarrassed about or for me. And yet… I get panicked and anxious even to play in front of him. Just him. Alone. In our house. In the living room.]
So, although the same little twitchy ball rolled into my belly, I told myself not to be stupid, and I said, "Sure." So I picked up my guitar and started to play, and for whatever reason, I couldn't hear the song anymore. I couldn't quite remember what I'd done the night before. And the old caged animal returned.
I call it a caged animal, because when it happens, I feel like that's what I become -- like I've been cornered and must ESCAPE! Get out! Get out! I panicked, got wild-eyed, barked "No no no. I can't." Abruptly put the guitar down, shooed him out of the room, and closed the door. I sat down in my red chair and said these exact words: "I quit. This is stupid."
Just like that. Start to finish, it took about 20 seconds.
Chris has seen this 500 times, so it doesn't really affect him anymore, other than he thinks I'm insane and wishes I would get over it.
So after I proclaimed my failure and decided to quit, I picked up my laptop and started to distract myself with mindless activity. But then, my self-mothering voice kicked in. She said, "Now wait a minute. Just take a second. Put that down. Here, give that to me, Dear."
I closed the laptop.
"Let's think about this," she said.
I pulled my legs up and sat pretzel-legged in my chair.
"Slow it down. String it out. What just happened? And why did it happen?"
I thought about a lot of things, but finally, I called up my old skills as a school psychologist. I analyzed the function of my behavior; that is to say, we learn behavior through a series of either intended or un-intended reinforcements. The function of my behavior was escape. And I was rewarded with escape every time I freaked out, which reinforced the freak outs. So if what I wanted was escape from the task, and every time I freaked out, I got to escape (what I wanted), then… I was teaching myself over and over again to be a freak.
My former school psychologist self said, "You extinguish escape behavior by removing the escape and granting it only when the desired behavior has been performed."
My self-mothering voice said, "The only way out is through, Sugar."
So I picked up my guitar. Plucked through The Gambler once. Retrieved Chris (who, having moved on from my freak out, was very innocently brushing his teeth), said, "Don't let me get away with that crap," and played it for him.
(I really do feel like a freak about it. And I really do think someone should give my husband a medal. I must be very strange to live with.)
So my goals for the next 14 days:
1. Practice 10 hours.
2. Practice The Gambler and No One is to Blame until they are fluid and memorized.
3. Pick a 3rd cover song.
4. Attend an open mic.
5. Scratch out vocals and lyrics to a 4th and naked guitar line I made up a long time ago.
6. Set a due date. I can't drag this thing out forever. Maybe February?