How The Internet Going Out Changed My Life

Do you ever have one of those days where you just *know* that fate had a hand in the events that played out?  It’s been awhile since I’ve felt that, but today was one of those days.

It was more than just the unlikely sequence of events that took place that left me feeling like that.  Preposterous things in general have a way of showing up in my life, so that’s not enough to make me raise an eyebrow.  No.  These events had a little something extra added to them.  Each one increasing the presence of that extra feeling that if I had to put words to it, might say something like, “Pay extra attention . . . magic is afoot . . . something bigger is unfolding.”

So my internet went out again this last week.  This is the 3rd time in a month.  And when it goes out, it goes out for  d a y s.  I have to completely shift how I live life.  It is absolutely amazing to me how much I rely on it now, when 20 years ago, I had never heard of it.  But anyways, being ever the optimist I’m like, “Okay, well shit.  What to do now . . . ”

This alone is a micro-series of events that took place.  It involves a whole weekend of meeting up with different friends and going to the movies and coffee shops, another weekend of inviting my son over for dinner and board games (yahtzee . . . lots of yahtzee), going to a used bookstore and finding 5 book gems that I couldn’t wait to get home and read.  It involved even more inner reflection than usual (I had nothing else to do while I stared into blank nothingness as I ate my dinner.)

So all of that led to my most recent post about all of my thinking about ‘art’.  After writing that post, the thought stream didn’t end there, it continued on the next day (usually writing about something will satisfy whatever is going on in my head and proceed to leave me alone . . . but not so here).  In that post, I had brought up my flute playing from when I was younger.  It started to haunt me.

I had completely forgotten about the musician in me.  I’ve been a mom and business analyst for so long, it completely escaped my mind that this wasn’t all I used to be.  In fact, I was so into my music in school, I fully intended to major in Music.  I was going to make it my life.  I remembered asking my mom what kind of things they have a person do to get a Ph.D in music, and she said they do things like give you an unfinished score from Mozart or one of the greats and ask you to finish it.  That scared the living shit out of me, but I was like . . . I’ll do it.  That’s how I knew that was my field.

As a little girl I had wanted to be many things and I could never make up my mind.  I wanted to be a archeologist and dig in dirt and find old things.  I wanted to be an astrophysicist and study the universe.  I wanted to be a teacher, but mostly because I wanted the summers off.  When I thought of trying to deal with 30+ kids at once, I decided that wasn’t the job for me.  I would look into what it took to be all of these things I wanted to be, and more often than not I’d see the requirements and make a scrunched up face and say . . . uh . . no.

But music . . . I was willing to go through hell and back for music.

It’s just that one day in high school I kind of hit a wall.  I had reached an incredible level of playing ability with my flute, but I just couldn’t get it to the next level.  Something in me was missing.  Something wasn’t gelling in me.  I would practice for endless hours.  My sophomore year in high school, I had a tutor who had played in the Seattle Symphony.  The first time she spoke on the phone with my mother (to arrange the lessons) and upon hearing that I wanted to go into music as a career, the tutor let my mom know that the music field is ruthless and you have to give everything you’ve got to make it in that industry and that she always encouraged her students to get a degree in some sort of science first as a backup.  She always recommended it.

Then I went to my first lesson with her.  To gauge my skill she pulled out a couple of music books and had me sight read a couple of pieces.  Saying nothing she went to her extensive music library and pulled out some more books.  This.  Now play this.  That was the entire lesson, me playing one thing after another.  Then she gave me my homework of what to study for my next lesson, and then I started to walk home.

By the time I returned home, the tutor had already called my mother.  She called simply to say, “If she wants to do music, then let her do it.  She’s got what it takes to make it.”

I honestly don’t know what I had done to impress her, but at my next lesson there was talk of traveling to Paris and competing there and . . . and . . .

That’s when I hit the wall.  I suddenly could go no further.  Something in me completely locked up and froze.  As I said before, something in me was missing.  I didn’t know what it was then . . . but I know what it is now.  It took me over 20 years of life experience and of completely walking away from music and everything I loved, in order to gain that missing something in me.  I know without a doubt that I would not have made it very much further without the experience and knowledge I’ve gained from the last couple of decades.  It would have been futile.  I would have been banging my head against a wall and I don’t think things would’ve ended well for me if I had forced it anyways.

So all of this was coming back to me.  Music.  My first love in life.  I’m not just a mom or an analyst.  I am a musician.  Even just saying it out loud brought me such peace . . . and tears.  It wasn’t just remembering I was a musician, it was allowing that feeling and reality back into my awareness.  It’s been in my peripheral for so long I had become blind to it.  I spoke about it, I’ve even tried over the years to try and play instruments again . . . but it just wasn’t time yet and so it floated in and out of my life over the years like the tide.  But this time something different is happening.

And then came today.  I woke up again with that feeling of waking from a dream and remembering, “I am a musician.” with an underline feeling of excitement.  It was like saying to myself, “I won the lottery.”  I had stopped at the music store yesterday to get a silver polishing cloth because I was going to clean my flute up all nice and pretty.  I was looking forward to beginning the process of reacquainting myself with my dear old friend.  This flute has been with me for 20+ years.  I first picked up a flute 26 years ago.  Just the act of cleaning it brought me back to all those years ago.

I was checking everything on it and I saw that the cork in the head joint was most likely going to need to be replaced.  The position it was in meant that there was nothing I could do to make my flute be in tune.  I cannot play an out of tune flute.  It’s against Jenn Law.  But no matter, the music store is just a stone’s throw from my apartment.  Which was good because the internet technician was supposed to come to fix the internet, and I had been given a time frame of 8am-6pm.  So I couldn’t go too far.

I got to the music store and turned in my flute to the repair shop.  However, I wanted to play an instrument so bad, I walked over to the display case where all of the really nice flutes for sell were.  I started trying them out and proceeded to fall in love with one in particular, and so I was like screw it, I’ll buy it.  You can never have enough silver flutes I always say.

But I needed to move some money from my savings account.  I asked for them to hold it while I went home to take care of the financial part of it . . . but then I remembered I had no internet and so I decided to (finally) download the bank app for my bank and sign up on my mobile so I could transfer funds there.

It was while I was in the middle of this that the extra feeling started to make itself known to me.  Something in the background of my senses was flagging me down.  I had somehow gone from internet not working to standing in a music store trying to transfer funds for a 2nd flute.  Also I was wondering if this was my version of having a mid-life crisis.  Instead of a Corvette or Porsche, I was going to own a variety of impossibly expensive flutes.

I entered the information in the app to identify myself and the app said, “Uh, sorry but the shit you typed in doesn’t match the shit we have in our system.”  I figured I mistyped something, and so I did it all again . . . my debit card number . . . my pin . . . last 4 of my SSN.  Nope.  So I did it again.  “Not only nope, but now we’ve locked your ass out of the system . . . call this number.”  So I called, and the woman was looking stuff up and then she asked for the last 4 numbers of my debit card.  I gave it and then she said, “Oh . . . that’s what is wrong.”  And then dead awkward silence.

So what happened, is that my account was a part of *something* (she didn’t say what) that could have compromised my account information and so they had sent me a new debit card with a new number.  The *something* happened on April 1st and they sent the card with explanation on April 2nd.  Sooo I can’t do anything online, only in person transactions.

And you know what?  I wasn’t even mad.  I was glad they were on top of their shit and protected me, and also . . . this was the moment that the feeling became clear to me that something was going on that was out of the ordinary . . . I was being led to something specific.  Life had a game plan unfolding and was in the process of herding me towards it.  So I explained it to the people and they were totally happy to hold the flute until my new debit card came and I was ready to continue on my day.

Except the whole “I am a musician” thing.  I was stoked for two days to get to play my flute today and now my one is in the shop and it was suddenly not made possible for me to get a 2nd one.  However . . . a couple of years ago I went through one of my momentary moods of attempting to get back into music and had gone to rent a violin . . . which I paid off completely a year ago shortly after my Raven Kitty girl died.  I’ve had it for 2 years . . . and I have never even pulled it out of the case.

I had wanted to sink my teeth into something I already knew how to do.  Get the taste of it back into my system and *then* attempt to learn a new instrument.  And yet everything had coalesced into a situation in which I was completely set to play a musical instrument . . . and yet my known instrument was suddenly yanked out from under me, leaving me only one choice.

I came home with the recommended books for starting out on violin.  By this point, the feeling of *destiny* was very much in the air and in my veins.  Violin was actually the first instrument I had ever played.  I played for a year in 4th grade but then moved to a place that only had bands and no orchestras . . . and so started my journey with the flute.  But violin . . . oh . . . where do I even begin.  Nothing . . . and I mean nothing speaks to me like a haunting gypsy melody played on the violin.  Or like the part in the song “Devil Goes Down To Georgia” (if you’ve never heard it a) have you been living under a rock your whole life? b) go to youtube and listen to it. now.)

I want to be playing *that* already, not being a new student on an instrument . . . but then again, the universe really has put itself out there to arrange this . . . so . . .

So I read the intro and everything to the Suzuki Method book.  It’s the very same book I used when learning the violin as a little girl.  The intro is surprisingly . . . well . . . meaningful.  Suzuki isn’t messing around.  He goes all meta like I do, “Education begins the day a child is born.  As an infant’s body grows day by day, its powerful life-force absorbs all the stimuli it receives externally, developing in the process of acquiring ability.  Without stimulus to the life-force, there will be no development in the child.  Under conditions of neglect, nothing and no one can grow.”

Holy shit Mr Suzuki-san.  Is this volume 1 of learning violin or the answers to the universe?  I love you crazy violin person.  Actually, this is very indicative of the Japanese culture and something I feel and know (remember) intrinsically in me.  I understand this level of crazy, so I was all in by this point, but still I was touched further when I read this sentence, “The violin is a medium for cultivating human character, ability, and heart.”

In fact, I had to take a moment’s pause to let some heart felt tears make their way out.  The accumulation of all of this was really getting to me.

I can imagine it would be like an amputee suddenly growing their limb back.  Losing the limb . . . going 20+ years coming to peace with it . . . and then it magically starting to grow back.  There’s a mix of disorientation, nostalgia, relief, . . . and . . . a larger understanding of life.

But still . . . I was having a hard time getting myself to pull the violin out of the case.  What is it?  What was stopping me?  I kept reading through the instruction books.  Proper stance, proper way to hold the bow.  How to tune, proper maintenance of the violin.  How to apply rosin . . . the name of the strings.  The instructions in French, German, & Spanish.

Something in me was wondering what the point was.  I’m not that 17 year old girl anymore.  There’s no plans to take the world by storm with my extraordinary musical talents.  There’s no audience waiting for me.  Come Monday morning I’m still going to be getting up to get ready to go to work . . . so what good does this do me?  What’s the point?  How could this make any difference in my life, I mean really?

Then I had a feeling flashback, going back to when I would spend 5 or more hours a day practicing my flute.  It brought solace to me.  In a world gone wrong, it made me feel okay again.  As I strengthened my flute skills, my body and emotions became strengthened and I could withstand the hardships in life much easier.  Being a musician is something that is for me.

So at last I reached a point where I pulled the violin out.  I dusted it off with a soft cloth.  I tightened and rosined the bow.  It was time to start tuning the strings.  I took a deep breath and drew the bow across one of the strings . . . and it rung out deep and strong.  I felt the power of the sound of the violin vibrate through my bow, my hand, and my heart.  In that moment, I understood why the universe had worked so hard to coerce and push me towards this.

There’s listening to a violin on recordings . . . in songs . . . from other people playing it.  I’ve enjoyed the violin immensely in this way.  It is an instrument that touches my soul in a way that nothing else comes close to.

But experiencing the violin as the one holding it and drawing the bow across the string myself was another thing entirely.  It is something I would willingly dedicate the rest of my life to learning.  It’s like it enables a doorway through which my soul is easily able to sing through.  This is something my heart has been searching and longing for . . . an outlet in which it can be fully expressed.  It’s like my heart was trapped in a prison and was banging on the walls, and then the stroke of the bow on a single string made the prison doors fly open and my heart could suddenly breathe the air of freedom.

Who needs an audience when the simple act of playing gives you something as valuable as that?

Today was the start of something new for me.  I went back to the music store and told them that there was no need to hold the 2nd flute for me, I had found what I was actually looking for.  They helped me pick out a few new things for my violin.  I requested to be put on a list to be contacted when they have a new violin teacher for lessons.

Something in me has settled down and is pleased that I’ve finally taken the first steps down this road.  In this I look forward to being a student.  I look forward to the whole journey, from learning how to properly hold the instrument to sassing it up with my devilish gypsy ways.

And yes, come Monday morning, I will get up to get ready for work just as I always do . . . but something new has started to blossom in my heart.  Something that I get to nurture and grow and care for, for the rest of my days.

Violin Awesomness

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