Dr. John

Why Wish

Today I figured out why it's important to do my Weekly Wishes project.  I mean, beyond the wishing "...I could play like such-and-such".  As I've mentioned several times, I'm constantly arguing with myself about whether I should be putting time into my own whimsical project, when time is at a premium and there are so many other things begging to be done.  So today's revelation makes me a mite less conflicted than before, always a welcome sensation to this Gemini. 

I imagine it must be really lovely to be a naturally cheerful, positive person.  I wouldn't know.  I've learned from experience how destructive pessimism can be, and how nothing worthwhile gets done without a constant stream of "I think I can, I think I can".  The pastor at my church gig uses the example of two wolves - which wolf wins the fight, the good one or the bad?  The one you feed.  I have to fight every single day to keep from pouring a bag of premium feed into the big bad wolf's trough (wait, do wolves eat out of troughs??!). 

My point is, I realized today that my Weekly Wishes project is my reminder to feed the good wolf.  It has indeed been a busy week, but when I threw up my hands the other night and decided to give a teeny part of my week to working thru my Dr. John book/CD - just because I like that style of music and because studying music is what I do with my life - the good wolf won.  I haven't had much time to put into it, but I've been having fun with the Texas boogie (started memorizing it and trying it in other keys today), and just reading/listening through the rest of the book.

To satisfy the Voice of Reason:  I'm a lot more motivated to practice when I have a just-for-fun thing on the practice list.  And making time for one important thing helps me remember to try to make time for other important things, like friends and working out.

Oh, and sleep. 

Weekly Wish 4/4/11: the Battle of the Doubts

Remember the Doubts?  My friends, the insidious little inner monologue mofos that try to convince me that every decision I'm making is wrong?  Well, lately they've been creeping back, doing reconnaissance work, lobbing the occasional test missile to find my new weak spots. 

Some doubts are useful - like when I see some old person struggling to get around on the subway, and I wonder exactly what I'm going to do when I get old.  Work til I die, still schlepping up four flights of stairs at the end of the day, after I've bounced my old bones around the city on public transit?  Maybe better think about how I can make enough money to put away for when I can't work so hard - or at all (God forbid, I'd go crazy). 

Then there are the useless Doubts.  They were being "helpful" today when I was trying to figure out my Weekly Wish for this busy week. 

"Don't do a wish this week.  You don't have time. You should focus on actual work, that might make you actual dollars," intoned the Voice of Reason (the VR is related to the Doubts by marriage).

"Hey, I've got a wish for ya," hollered a Doubt with a thick Brooklyn accent.  "How about, I wish I hadn't grown up in the middle of buttf***ing nowhere, so I could have gotten more experience as a kid, or at least seen professional performances?"

And all hell broke loose:  I wish I'd known more about my career options when I was in college.  I wish I had been ready to know my career options in college.  I wish I hadn't spent so many years getting in my own way.  I wish I hadn't played for so many years with bad technique before I found a teacher who could help me fix it.  I wish it hadn't taken career disappointment and near-injury to take that step.  I wish it weren't too late (thirty thirty thirty thirty...)...

"SHUT UP!!!!!" Katgut came roaring back. Ok, regroup.  Just make a damn wish, ok? Just pick something and learn it.  Fats Waller? ...nah, not this week.  Review Billy Joel or Elton John favorites? Go back to Lullabye? No, I need something new, a present for my bedraggled self.  ...Hey, what's this book I bought and never used?  Dr. John Teaches New Orleans Piano?

I do wish I could play a little New Orleans piano.  So I'm gonna take a little time every day, a half hour or so, and work through as much of this book as I can.  The CD that comes with it is cool, because it's Dr. John himself playing - not soulless midi tracks of the examples in the book - and he breaks down the examples with an intereviewer, so it feels kinda like a really chill master class.

I did my half hour just before I wrote this  - annoyed the neighbors by playing the basic Texas boogie in all 12 keys.  Status: much better now, Doubts have retreated for the time being, and I can play a really simple Texas boogie.