Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Well, I’ve gone and done it.  After years of hemming and hawing — Can I afford it? Will I use it? Will it be close enough to the real thing? — I am now the owner of a digital piano.

It was a weekend full of exciting things: all-you-can-eat Indian food; a solution to the Panther’s tendency to run from one end of the apartment to the other at breakneck speeds and launch himself onto the windowsill in the middle of the night (we feed him just before we go to sleep now, and he stays quiet till morning); our first Zipcar rental; a wonderful appetizer that combined goat cheese, pear and puff pasty (how could you go wrong?); and my piano.

Here is a picture from Amazon:

Isn’t it beautiful? It came with a storage bench, head phones and a book of 50 classical pieces for me to tinkle around on while I wait for my mom to ship my favorite books (a Bach, a Brahms, a Chopin and Les Miserables).

The songs are all in its memory, and I’m finding that extremely helpful as I wade through Chopin’s Nocturne Opus 9 No. 2, which I’m surprised I never played because it’s just my style. (I did play Opus 9 No. 1, which is one of the few things I can still play if I have the music in front of me.)  I can have the piano play the left hand while I play the right, which is good, because I’m not used to measuring out trills and runs without my teacher’s or a professional recording’s help.

I’ve realized two things:

  1. I’ve lost a lot of my technique.  My arch is collapsed, my fingers are slow and clumsy, and I find myself straining to do simple things I used to be able to pull off without a second thought.  On a related note, I can’t read notes above and below the staff nearly as quickly as I should be able to, and it took me a while to remember which marking indicated which ornament.
  2. If I plan to play at all, even casually, my nails are going to have to go.  Hopefully this will help with No. 1, too.  It’s hard to maintain a proper arch when you can’t play on the tips of your fingers.  I used to be so disappointed that I couldn’t keep my nails long — I did negotiate with my teacher to keep one pinky nail until I realized how creepy it looked — but I’ve been wearing them long for 10 years now, and I don’t really mind the idea of giving them up.

Here is a recording of Rachmaninov playing Opus 9 No. 2. God, it’s more beautiful than my piano!


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First, here is an incredible doggy video that you should watch.  That is my dear friend Callie. I have seen her successfully perform the nose trick, so don’t judge her for being distracted by the bright lights of impending TV stardom.

Also, I have a very sincere movie recommendation for you.  It is “Marley & Me,” which I knew I would see as soon as I saw that billboard advertisement of the puppy tied up with a big red bow, but I’ll admit that I did not expect to actually enjoy it beyond the gratuitous cute-puppy antics it promised to offer.

How pleasantly surprised was I when I discovered on the bus ride to Boston that this movie is, in fact, a wondrous cinematic achievement of humorous and tragic proportions!  I do not like it when people laugh out loud at movies or otherwise make unnecessary noises (my incessant questioning of “What just happened?” and “What is going to happen?” aside), but I will admit to having laughed out loud at many a chase-Marley-he’s-getting-away! or look-at-what-Marley’s-eating-now! scene.  Laughed Out Loud!

But the true glory of this movie is in its succeeding in taking over the No. 1 spot from longtime champion “Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey” (which took over the spot from “The Fox & the Hound”) as Most Tearjerking Movie About a Dog.

My shoulders heaved. My throat closed up. My chest ached.  I blew my nose through three tissues.  That was One Good Cry, folks, not seen since “Wall*E”!  (And I love a good cry at the movies, particularly in public spaces, such as a crowded bus or, memorably, a Chilean movie theater displaying a subtitled “Armageddon.”)

I can’t find it online, so I will paraphrase my favorite moment here, which I think will eventually go down in the annals of cinematic history as one of the greatest movie speeches ever.

So Marley’s old and sick, and the vet tells Owen Wilson (the “me” from the movie’s title) that 90% of dogs don’t make it. OW says, “Where did you get that number?” and the vet is confused. So OW explains thusly:

“I ask because I bet that number is from a study of normal dogs, and Marley is not a normal dog.  She is special.”

Actually, there was more, but I can’t remember it, so I’ll have to try to hunt down that speech on the Internets.  But you get the gist.  It was a good one, based on what I heard through my racking sobs.

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