Tuesday, January 31, 2006



I've (purposefully) forgotten a lot of the negative details of growing up with The Crone. At least one of her parents must have been quite a monster. I think (on scant evidence) that her mother was the evil one and her father just passive - and that somehow their next-door neighbor, shielded them in part from the mother - but for some reason, her sister more than mom.

The Crone should never have become a mother, with all that anger and frustration coiled up inside her, unable to recognize these issues in herself and try to deal with them, instead of taking out her mania on her own kids. I've tried hard in my life not to pass on any of that "f.....d-up-ness" to my own kids. There was a time or two when A and B were little, when I would catch myself heading into some dark territory and I would purposefully turn it off. But by the time Z came along, I had long ago defeated those particular demons in myself. It appears, at least, that I didn't pass it on to B (or he is doing a good job controlling it). He seems to be a really good father to his little girl. She's neat; B and his wife are doing a great job raising her. It doesn't hurt that she has such a bubbly personality; happy-go-lucky, like Z was.

The occasional outburst episodes were almost a release from an overload of the continuous psychological pressure she put on us kids. It seemed like she was always chose one or another of us as "victim of the week". The rest of us would feel sorry for whoever lost the lottery and was now under the spotlight and scalpel. Even between her more episodes, she would constantly insert those little barbs under our skin, digging at us, criticizing us, dumping on us, putting us down, belittling us, warping our sense of self. As we got older we became more defiant, and tried to fight back, but it was a losing battle, the only escape came when each one of us finally got out of the house.

Our childhood was one continuous guilt trip. She had us thinking they were so poor that we used to compete to get the cheapest dinner on the rare nights we went out to eat at the Cafeteria. What saps we were! But when we got into trouble, we used to dread the "look how horrible you've been to me" routine from her. Once in a while Dad would grumble something under his breath, but otherwise he let her rule. We used to wish she'd just go ahead and punish us overtly rather than give us "the treatment". How inadequate she made us all feel about ourselves.

My intense self-analysis throughout my late teens and early 20s led me to understand and eventually fight against the negativity that she injected into me. Once I understood what it was, and where it came from, I stopped hating her, instead I began feeling sorry for what a miserable person she was, being trapped in her life. By the end of her life, I had learned to accept her for what she was and even try to deal with her as my mother.

On a much more pleasant note, I'm playing my cello usually two hours a day – over two months, so far. I really enjoy making that sound. I'm starting to look online for a good cello to buy to replace my cheap rental.

I had my first formal lesson last Saturday; my next one is the day after tomorrow. I'm steadily progressing - making more accurate, smooth, rich tones. Lots of the rhythms and songs that I grew up listening to are popping up, and I find I can already play some of them purely from memory. I've come a fair way already, but I really have a long way yet to go. I recognize that it will take years of steady work to ever get any good at it. The way I see it, I have two options when it comes to learning the cello - reaching the age of 60 and maybe being a passable cellist, or just reaching the age of 60.

I'm willing to work at it and I am enjoying the process. Every once in a while, I suddenly find myself making a particular sound come out better, often not even being sure what I'd changed to get it. One day I want to play jazz. But I'm planning to first learn classical, up to a point. Already there are evenings when I'll set up to play in my bedroom in the dark and find myself just letting go and listening to the amazing (and sometimes hyper-frenetic) bowing rhythms that start coming out of my right arm and hand - for hours. At those times, I don't really play any songs, only the rhythms while my left hand meanders through a few of the chords and sequences of notes. Sometimes I'll loosen up even further and start sliding the bow just at the right, light pressure to get into the high harmonics (which you can get by touching the strings ever so slightly while they're being bowed) getting these eerie ringing tones that are many octaves higher up the scale. Add in the frenetic bowing and bow hairs start to snap, rosin dust flies, and the cello almost seems to get hot and begin to pulsate. I finally have to force myself to put it away because my bowing arm is worn out.

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