Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Devices and Desires (and Daffodils)

I wrote this on Monday:
More good days, mood-wise.  Per Laura's taxonomy, for most of the past week I've felt quite like a daffodil, with plenty of family celebrations and a visit from my father-in-law to keep me busy and happy, even jocund, now and then.  This means, of course, that I'm falling father and farther behind on reading, writing, editing, and so on, even as my brain begins to buzz with new ideas (a consequence of the upbeat mood), but all of this business should wind down in another couple of weeks, and I'll get caught up eventually.  If falling behind is the price of this good feeling, that's a price I'm happy to pay.
Tuesday, as luck would have it, was pretty weedy:  R slept only about 3 hours, and my own sleep was interrupted by horrific snoring (you know it's bad when you wake yourself up!) and by her getting up at some ungodly hour of the morning.  Stressful, unhappy morning, but by the late afternoon things were looking up, and the evening was actually quite pleasant.

To continue the horticultural metaphor, I'd say that my moods are quite dependent on environmental conditions:  sun, rain, good soil, etc.  The striking thing about yesterday, though, was the way that having a few good thoughts in mind--how well the past few days had gone; those funny flower terms--kept me from getting entirely caught up in my own sad mood.  I was watching it as much as feeling it, if you know what I mean.  So when the sun came out (so to speak), I was ready to feel it.


I've always loved the P. D. James title Devices and Desires--which is also the title of a history of contraceptives in the US, evidently.  It's been coming to mind for the past few months as I've thought about a series of purchases I have and haven't made.  First there was the month of agonizing over which tablet computer to buy.  I ended up picking up a Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, rather than an iPad, because the iPad I wanted (a mini with a retina display) didn't exist yet, and although I've been reasonably happy with the Note, I realize in retrospect that I've enjoyed it just a smidge less than I might have enjoyed the Apple product, because I can't chat with my colleagues about apps and so on.  (They're all Apple users.)

Evidently there's a potential social pleasure that I didn't take into account as I thought about the purchase, which I need to think about next time.

In any case, there were weeks of fretting about and then regretting the purchase, during which time I was really preoccupied with All Things Tablet--after which that obsession seemed to fade, to the point where I can't imagine running out and buying the retina-display mini when it comes out, because I'm not sure I need it anymore.  My default mode with electronic devices seems to be a fairly low level of desire:  I don't really enjoy looking at them in stores or imagining having them, and I find the whole process of buying them quite stressful.

When it comes to instruments, of course, my default mode is much greedier!  My plan for the summer, at least for now, is to trade in four or five of the ones I'm no longer playing (one or two mandolins, the mandola, a guitar and an amp), and then, rather than try to get cash in return, to get one or two things that my son and I can enjoy together during his last year at home.

The things I have in mind are relatively inexpensive:  a small tube amp, which my son has asked for, and which will sound better and warmer than either of the ones I currently have (he can take it to college when he goes); and a Telecaster, which will replace my Godin solid-body electric, which I never play nowadays.  Nathan's said many times that he'd love to play one, and I think it would come in handy for the Alte Rockers as well.  (It was also the kind of guitar I had first, when I was a teen.)

The other instrument I'm thinking of now is a Yamaha "Silent Guitar," which would let me play a nylon-string / classical style instrument through an amp, and would be more resilient in the face of Chicago weather (and AC / heat indoors) than an actual classical guitar.  It would be useful both for the klezmer band and for the jazz lessons, especially when I start to learn bossa nova, and I think it looks fun, too.

That said, given all that I want to do this summer, the simplest thing is to hang on to the instruments I have and do nothing with them for a while.  As I've said before, when I turn my attention to playing a new piece, my itch to buy another instrument falls away quite rapidly, and I have a few new pieces (a Jobim number, some old standards, a klezmer song my daughter sings, etc.) that I'm practicing for my current round lessons.

I'll keep you posted!


Laura Vivanco said...

Keep us posted and yourself well composted with good food and sleep, Eric Daffodil! I'm glad the idea-bees are buzzing around, pollinating your brain and making it bear fruit.

Re the snoring, although I suspect they're unlikely to be objects of desire, maybe you could look into "anti-snoring devices"? Is it possible you might have developed sleep apnoea?

E. M. Selinger said...

Hi, Laura! I've been trying one anti-snoring device without success, and plan to move on to another, working my way through them until I find something that works, or at least improves the situation. From the folks who are around when I sleep (my wife, my kids when we travel), I gather that I don't ever actually stop breathing, so I don't think it's sleep apnoea, but if things stay bad, I'll certainly get that checked out professionally as well.