I didn’t get to practice as much as I wanted – there seemed to be lots of distractions. Excuses. They were excuses. I can’t name a distraction that was good enough for me to use it as an excuse for not practicing. It’s not that I’m feeling any pressure or I’m feeling impostor syndrome it’s just that it’s not a habit yet. I’m currently reading Badass Habits by Jen Sincero to help me with my writing but I have noticed that it’s seeping into other parts of my life. There’s a lot of valuable information in the book but I think the piece of advice that sticks with me the most is making sure to create an environment where you can succeed at the habit you either want to adopt or get rid of. I have a notebook within reach at all times to help me with my 15 minute a day writing habit I want to cultivate and, without really planning for it, I cleared out a space in my house so that I can exercise without bumping into furniture when I turn into a kickboxing ninja machine. This environment shift has kind of worked with the guitar; however, I think I can do better. Currently, it’s in my basement and I need to get a stand for it so it’s not resting on a chair (Don’t @ me for sacrilege guitar storage. It has a pillow that is securely and comfortably behind it) and maybe I should have a light shining down on it that will always be on (cue angelic “Ah Ah Ahhhhhh”) and it will beckon me to play. Too dramatic? I thought so. But I think there’s something to be said about bringing the habit you want to adopt (or get rid of) to the forefront of your consciousness.
My progress has been…progress. I did introduce myself to the finger gymnastics that make up the G and C chords but I haven’t been able to pull off playing them in a way that makes them sound like they are the backbone of so many songs; I’m a little anxious to see when and how my short short fingers will extend to play them. The chords I’m really excited about (can one be excited for chords?) are the Em and Am. When I played the Em, I immediately thought of “I Fought in a War” from Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant by Belle & Sebastian and after a quick look up on the old interwebs showed that I was right to have thought of that chord. Seasoned musicians may scoff at the pride I felt for being able to name one chord correctly (and no doubt that when we all start meeting for happy hours and cocktails parties, I will be reminiscing this moment again and again and again until people are like, “Ok. We get it, you can identify the first chord of a somewhat esoteric song.”) but it did feel like a big deal to me. I don’t remember the first sentence I was able to read as a child but I’m sure the feeling of confidence was something similar.
I listen to Belle & Sebastian fairly regularly but it made me think of the first time I heard them. I was at San Francisco State and it was the first couple months of living in the dorms in the late 90s. Everyone was buzzing, getting to know each other and introducing people to The Things They Liked by letting people borrow CDs, cassettes, and VHS tapes. One girl named, Shannon, (who I don’t remember much of other than my friend, Taylor, swore she looked like Drew Barrymore) lent me If You’re Feeling Sinister and The Boy with the Arab Strap (which, if I was her, I wouldn’t have because that album was just released in September 1998 so she probably had it in her hands for, like, a few days before she let me borrow it). I don’t know how she came around to lending it to me but we probably had a discussion where she asked me if I liked Belle & Sebastian and I probably replied with confusion that I liked the cartoon when I was younger and then she probably laughed at me and then brought the two albums over to my room. So, after I listened to the albums at least one hundred times each I gave them back to Shannon. I don’t remember interacting with her much after that exchange but my Belle & Sebastian appreciation is forever growing and now I can identify a chord from their opening track on their fourth album.