04.11.2020 | “Lately I’ve Been Feeling All Worn Out”

Title Lyrics: “Faithful Son”, Frank Turner

Almost 10 days since my last post. Yep, that seems typical for my life at the moment. Always catching up, at least that’s what it feels like. Let’s try a short roundup on a few topics…

Commute: Ugh, I’ve began to very much dislike it this week. 45 minutes one way, 2/3 of that on the motorway, where there are so many idiots and / or jerks. Ugh! *Deep breath*. I was hoping we’d be ordered back into working from home again, because of the restricted lockdown Germany is in at the moment, but so far…. Nope.

Election “night”: I already spent a bit too much time glued to a phone screen this morning until I decided to only check in intervals of about 20 minutes. Because a) everyone says it will still take a while and b)  it doesn’t matter when I learn about the results, because I can’t do / change anything about them. Yep, trying to be Zen here. 

Exhaustion: I usually try to get a decent amout of sleep (6-7 hours) and these days I at least am more or less successful with that. Weirdly enough it often means going to bed early and still getting up early (see Mornings). But I feel like a whole day of… work and people and errands and news and a pandemic is taking such a toll on my energy. I get home, veg out on the couch, mindlessly scrolling through my phone and/or watch TV. Might read a bit and then I’m off to bed. 

Fragments: More and more those fragmented memories pop up and make me long for better days. Normal days. Days of activities and travel and seeing other people and…. this winter is going to be so hard.

Guitar: About one week in and I’m still enjoying it. I like that the online course I decided to go with is very chill about progress. “You’ll get there, take your time, don’t worry” vibe and I need that as I’m very quickly very frustrated with a lack of progress. So far I’m hanging in even though I haven’t practised for two days now (see Exhaustion). But that’s fine as well.

Mornings: As I’m in this weird cycle of exhaustion I go to bed early to also get up early and get up early-ish to get some of the things done, which I couldn’t get myself to do in the evenings. But then I often start dawdling around with yet other stuff and tasks and ideas and I’m not sure that’s the right way to do it yet. I don’t knooooooow ๐Ÿ™

Next Cloud: Two days ago we got a mail that work will switch from Owncloud to Nextcloud. Mmmh, I usually trust our IT so I looked into that and thought maybe the vague idea of cleaning up my Owncloud data should be combined to making the change as well. Took care of the installation yesterday morning. (see Mornings).

Politics: (Here on the local level). We’ve got a few new-ish members in our Green party who are very motivated and want to do things which is very good. But I realize more and more that I find it very challenging, because in a way it challenges the way “we” have always done things and such. I KNOW I should be happy about the development, but instead I’m a grumpy old politician who wants to hang on to old tradtions and ideas, just because… ? Turning into a person I don’t really like. I need to work through that a bit more.

Walk with a friend: On Satuday I met up with a good friend for a long walk to make the best of the nice weater and to catch up, which was lovely. The walk and the catching up ๐Ÿ™‚

25.10.2020 | “Try This At Home”

Title is a Frank Turner song, of course

Thursday morning, during my bathroom routine out of the blue I thought

“I wish I hadn’t given up on trying to teach myself how to play the guitar all those years ago”.

Followed by

“I wonder if I could pick it up again now, 20 odd years later?”

Those thoughts stuck and during a lull in the office that morning I quickly went on Amazon and browsed various sites and continued with that at home that night. I even took the guitar from my Mum’s spare room, where I had stored it (about 24 years ago according to one receipt) even though I was pretty sure it wouldn’t be salvagable after all this time. Spoiler Alert: it wasn’t.

The difference to my aborted attempt back than of course is, that now we have this wonderful thing called “The Internet”. Some folks reading this here might remember the times without it? 24 years ago I only came up with the idea to buy a guitar, because I sometimes passed a music store on my way to uni and thought maybe it would be fun to teach myself how to play it. Back then I had to resort to a guide book and chord diagrams. There might have been lessons on CD or audiotape but I never used any. There definitely weren’t any online tutorials. We hadn’t really had any idea of “online” then. Hard to image now, isn’t it? Anyway, in 1996 I aborted my attempts to teach myself after a while, possible because I found it too hard and didn’t see any progress and maybe not even any use for it. I wasn’t “into music” then the way I am now.

Back to the present day: Less than 36 hours after that bathroom moment, I had not just ordered various bits and pieces from Amazon (e.g. a neat Snark tuner) but also had gone to a big music store in our area which has left-hander guitars on stock, tried a few and bought one. HOLY SHIT! This is happening. For real.

I also found a good online tutorial program (and a few backup ideas) thanks to the reccomendations I got from two band related Facebook groups I’m in. Getting reccomendations from people “on the internet”, unheard of in 1996. Yes, I’m going on and on about this, because I can’t believe I let that one experience of “trying and failing for whatever reason” keep me from trying to pick up a guitar again and try again. And I think it might have been different, if my first try had happened with the internet around. Ressources and easy access to other people and all that.

I don’t know what brought that idea of “just try again” on this week. For years, ever since I started seeing Frank Turner do song tutorials I thought

“Man, I wish I could do that or even get what he’s talking about.”

I sometimes jokingly said

“I don’t understand a word of what he’s saying, but I like listening to him talk anyway.”

While at the same time a part of me deep down always wished I would in fact understand what he’s talking about. Do a bit of what he does. Learn a new skill. Play along to some of my favourite songs. Just do something! But then the negative nagging voice in my head often replied with a lot of reasons why it’s a stupid idea to even think about trying again. Too old, not musical enough, failed the first time, so I better accept I won’t be any good and and and. But for some reason this week I obviously decided to ignore that voice for a change. Go me! And what better time to spend hours learning a new skill than now, right? While we will all be sitting home (alone) a lot. At least learning that new skill is the plan. I’m not always the most consequential person with my plans though… But at least I give it a try again. For now.

This afternoon I took the guitar and my laptop to my Mum’s, because I thought me fiddling around (it’s not much more yet) sounded rather loud and I was afraid my neighbours in any of the other 5 flats in my building would get annoyed quickly. Not sure they even heard it, because when I set up in one of the spare rooms at my Mum, she and Bro3, who’s living in the building as well, said, they didn’t hear anything. I don’t know. I might continue doing longer practice sessions over there, just to be sure.

So far I’ve learned about the D and the A chord. As in: know where the fingers go, managed to play them a few times. Not with consistency and definitely not with proper chord changes. No way. Seeing Frank (and to be fair every other guitar player) go from chord to chord and back so automatically seems even more impressive now than it already did before. But… he’s been doing it for 25 years. I’ve put my fingers on some strings for less than 2.5 hours so far. Step by step, right?

For now I’m just happy that I’ve taken the plunge to try again and that I’ve got a new worthwhile project to keep me busy till the worst of …. THIS … is over. There is a limit to the amount of LEGO to build and Netflix to watch and books to read.

21.10.2020 | “… we need to breathe some cleaner air”

Lyric: “Wanderlust”, Frank Turner, 2011

Pandemic Bulletin: When I left work, my colleague told me about a mail, just in, from the people in charge: masks mandatory everywhere at work from now on, except at own desk (in a single occupancy office?).

Mood: Crappy. Again only half productive at work, the state of the World (aka Pandemic) worries me too much to really focus. Thinking about the lovely Frank Turner gig on this day two years ago didn’t help the gloomy mood either.

Positivity2020: I had a nice walk at the zoo after work. Hung out with my mum and Bro3 for a bit this evening. Tomorrow is a new day.

Here’s a photo from this afternoon

Racoon at the zoo
Racoon at the zoo