• Two Headed Cat

    Meg and Dash enjoy my lap (and my heating pad).

  • Confidence

    Confidence is a funny thing. When you don’t receive positive feedback, you start to doubt your abilities. Even though you know you have some degree of skill and a deep love of what you’re doing, without that praise and support you question your purpose.

    I sacked my bass teacher this week after months of hearing “you don’t practice enough”. I practice around six hours per week. He really meant you don’t practice what I think you should be practicing enough. He was probably right there. He never provided actual lessons or activities. He’d say “practice scales”. How about providing exercises or activities to make the tedious parts of music fun or interesting? Then I’d get told “you’re just rebelling” and “not working on things you don’t want to do.”

    He would habitually toss off assignments during the last five minutes of a zoom session. I’d scramble to write it down before he hung up. I learned to take ten minutes to quickly record a sample of what we’d worked on so I didn’t forget. I was repeatedly criticized for “taking lousy notes”.

    I love my bass. I began to doubt myself and hate my lessons. I had very few lessons where I’d leave with a smile and feeling good about myself. I starting getting anxiety stomachaches every week prior to my lesson. After I hung up from the lesson, I’d feel old and stupid and inept. I’d sit and cry from sheer frustration.

    I didn’t purposely confuse arpeggios and pentatonic scales. I have always struggled with finding notes in different places on the fretboard. Trying to listen to music and identify what scale it’s written in (major or minor or blues or dominant) is very difficult to do. He’d play songs and make me guess, and I was usually wrong. I couldn’t hear it. I lost confidence each time, and then he’d say I needed to be more confident.

    Listening to a piece of music and first trying to actually hear the bass part which is usually buried in the mix and then trying to find the root note and what key it’s played in is also difficult and extremely frustrating. He made me try to do this during lessons while he waited. I felt so stupid as I stumbled around and he judged the notes I would pick out or how I was doing it.

    We rarely worked on actual songs or things I wanted to play. We did TWO songs I actually asked (insisted) that we do. I never got the impression that he cared what I wanted to play. I excelled at those two songs. He suggested music I had never heard of or songs I had zero interest in playing. We did bits and pieces. I don’t want to compose bass lines. I just want to play them.

    Despite knowing I have social anxiety disorder, he kept saying that I should play with other people. He suggested open microphone nights and walking up to strangers or even contacting strangers on Craigslist. While I appreciate the fact that he thought I was competent enough, approaching strangers and playing confidently in front of them would never have been a possibility for me.

    I was with him for almost two years, since July 13, 2021 (twenty-two months). I’m not a quitter, and you can’t say I didn’t give it a good try. I just got tired of his method of teaching (bullying) and the resulting loss of faith in my own skills.

    Confidence for the socially inept is a hard won commodity. Over the last five years I fought hard to get where I am musically. I refuse to let a bully strip me of that.

  • Aligners

    I picked up my Spark Aligners today. My first impression is that they’re not comfortable. They’re also not invisible (they have bumps on them). They’re pretty hard to put in and take out. It’s kind of like when I first got contact lenses forty plus years ago. I remember sitting there and sobbing because I couldn’t make myself touch my eyeball to get the damn lenses out. The doctor says removing and replacing the aligners will get easier as I get used to doing it.

    I need to take them out to eat and to drink anything other than water. I need to brush my teeth each time I eat before reinserting the aligners.

    I change my aligners once a week and then in four weeks I go back to get the more advanced version. Because my teeth are extra special messed up, they’re going to put attachments on to crank my teeth into shape. That’s what the bumps are for! Then they will be more like real braces. The doctor said once he puts the attachments on they’re even harder to get off because it’s like they’re welded to your teeth. Yay.

    He also said my teeth are going to get loose and wiggly in my mouth but it’s OK when that happens. They’re supposed to do that. Oh great. Something scary to look forward to.

    Sorry. Ugly, crooked teeth. You can see the aligners have bumps on pretty much every tooth. Rubber bands or wires will go there.

    So far, they’re not horrible. My lower front teeth are the only ones really complaining. I don’t like the spit bubbles that are accumulating under my top lip if I talk (or sing). I will get used to it. I can still whistle with them on. I’m not sure if I’ll lose that ability as my teeth move more.

    Oh, the joys of TMJ and an open bite from years of teeth clenching at night.

  • Happy Gotcha Day #4

    Four years ago, I adopted these two sweethearts. Their actual Gotcha Day is June 1st. My babies – Meg and Dash. Four years ago this year we made the decision to bring you home. The veterinarian they were fostering with then scheduled their spay and neuter surgeries.

    Happy Gotcha Day #4

  • Music and Me

    I’ve gone to many concerts in my life (since 1970). I’ve seen some of the bigger touring acts and some that were one hit wonders and were never heard from again. I’ve gone back through and compiled a list. I wanted to write it down somewhere before time caused me to forget who I’d seen.

    These are the bands/artists I’ve seen over the last 53 years (I might have missed a few). I’m sorry now that I missed going to concerts for a number of years when my kids were small. It wasn’t my focus during those years.

    • Trace Adkins
    • Aerosmith
    • Bachman Turner Overdrive
    • Blue Oyster Cult
    • Bon Jovi
    • Phil Collins
    • Alice Cooper
    • Deep Purple
    • Def Leppard
    • Brett Eldredge 
    • Melissa Etheridge 
    • The Firm
    • Five Finger Death Punch
    • The Fixx
    • A Flock of Seagulls
    • Vince Gill
    • Great White
    • Sammy Hagar
    • Heaven
    • Bruce Hornsby and the Range
    • Huey Lewis and the News
    • Billy Idol
    • Iron Maiden
    • Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
    • Journey
    • Judas Priest 
    • Kiss
    • Krokus 
    • Loverboy 
    • Barry Manilow
    • Meat Loaf
    • Metallica
    • Kim Mitchell
    • Eddie Money
    • The Moody Blues
    • Maren Morris 
    • Mötley Crüe 
    • Gilbert O’Sullivan
    • Orion the Hunter
    • Ozzy Osbourne
    • Brad Paisley
    • The Police
    • Poison 
    • REO Speedwagon
    • Quiet Riot
    • The Scorpions
    • Tesla
    • Keith Urban
    • Van Halen
    • Virginia Wolf
    • Waysted 
    • Whitesnake 
    • Yes

    In 2023, I will add Ghost (with Amon Amarth opening), Pat Metheny and Lou Gramm to this list. We already have our tickets purchased for all three shows. My wishlist still includes Barenaked Ladies and Foo Fighters (I had Foo Fighters tickets and then Covid happened).

    I’ve been to shows with my cousin, my brother, my mom (Phil Collins), my husband and my sons. Most of the concerts were entertaining and enjoyable. Def Leppard, Judas Priest, Alice Cooper and Keith Urban put on excellent shows. I think the loudest band I ever saw was the Scorpions, but maybe that was because I was standing right in front of a speaker (my ears rang for days). The one I enjoyed the least was Aerosmith (I went because my cousin wanted to see them, and I was bored and didn’t find them interesting at all). We saw Huey Lewis at a small local bar when he was just starting out, and he was great. The only bad experience we ever had was Rod Stewart and the Faces (there’s a reason he’s not on the list – my cousin and I left before he even started! We were only 10 and 11, and we were terrified by our first live concert experience. The lights went down, the crowd rushed the stage, Blue Oyster Cult came on, pot smokers lit up all around us, and we got the hell out of there. We were so naive). Luckily, that bad experience didn’t stop us from trying again.

    I hope to add to this list as the years go by. Even with bad social anxiety, live concerts are still my thing.

  • If He Could Only Speak

  • Sharing a Lap

    You don’t mind if I get up here, too
    I’ll just settle in
    Right there. That’s the spot!

  • Whisker Wednesday

  • I Don’t Hear It

    I should have let her take my lesson tonight (instead of me). I spent a frustrating hour trying to identify (by ear) major or minor or dominant notes and then whether the notes were from arpeggios or pentatonic scales. I struggle with hearing the differences. ☹️ I get bummed because I just want to play songs.

  • November Sky

    Caught between new and old (when I used to commute and work in downtown Rochester). The building on the left is the site of my current employer. The building on the right is where I worked for 12 years.

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