Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Tuesday Tirade: Off Again!

I've been busting my ass at housework (teh suck!) and not doing much else but the 8-5 gig and watching too much tv trying to get the number of shows on the DVR below half a hundred. What I'm saying is that, aside from being sleep deprived and not having/making time to write, I'm almost content just now. Which makes coming up with a Tirade harder. But, for you, my 2 readers, I'll do it!

I've gotten used to the weird schedule. I don't like it, hate it, in fact, a lot of the time, but I freely acknowledge that Raidman and I chose to put J in a charter school knowing it was on a semi-year-round type schedule and only 4 1/2 days a week. It, like housework, is teh suck, but we knew it going in.

What I ~don't~ understand is what all these extra weird-ass breaks during the school year are for. When I was kid you went to school five days a week except for Thanksgiving (Friday only), Christmas/Winter holiday (1-2 weeks) and Spring Break (1 week in March). Now, though?

The kids are off on Good Friday AND the Monday after Easter. My kid's school has a 2-week Spring Break, so she just went back last week and now she has a 4-day week this week and next week? WTF?! Still, charter school...

Except all the Austin-area school districts are doing the same damn thing!

Apparently they are unfamiliar with the concept of two-income families. Or are unfamiliar with the fact that many families, even with two incomes, can't pay for childcare at all.

Please, please stop screwing with the schedule. These out-of-the-blue holidays are a pain in the ass, and, if they happen to line up with an in-service day at the daycare, leave me screwed, as happened on MLK Day. Bosses have kids, too, but telling them you have to stay home because your kid is out of school and the daycare is closed doesn't really fly.

The school is ~always~ hitting us up for money. How's about not effing with the schedule so I can actually go to work and earn some to give ya, eh?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Like Julie & Julia... Only Not as Cool.

A couple weeks ago I took my mom to see Elton John and Billy Joel (also awesome, but not as awesome as Elton!) in the dream concert event for a piano rock junkie like me: the Face to Face tour! This was the 3rd time we got to see EJ in the last 10-12 years and if I could figure out a way to afford it, I'd go see hear* him again at Caesar's before the Red Piano gig closes this month.

*Yes, hear. I am a music fan, and, as a rule kind of prefer NOT to know what the artists' look like (an old Journey video ~almost~ made me have to give up listening to them; Steve Perry's scary hair was THAT disturbing) so all my EJ tickets have been in the nose-bleed section, where no one cares if I get up and dance and sing along. But I digress...

I don't treat myself to things like concert tickets very often, so I tried to hold on to the experience as long as possible, loading up my iPod with Elton & Billy tunes and listening to it loud enough that my office mate threatened to kick me out.

That's what made me decide to pester dh into re-learning the piano. His mom taught him the rudiments when he was a kid, but he preferred guitar and bass and has been asking for a new guitar for a while now. He grumbled about the bad memories (forced piano lessons) I was dragging up, so on March 25th I made a new decision.

I am going to learn to play the piano!

Things like the fact that I am tone deaf (per my mom) and can't read music or tell one note from another will NOT deter me. I think the piano is by far the coolest instrument ever and love to listen to it, have since high school. And I want to learn to play it.

Of course, I am too cheap for a real piano and full-on lessons (don't you people watch the news, sheesh!) so I found myself an online lesson series and ordered a keyboard.

Lessons: I'm not revealing the source of this one til I see how it works out. Even if they totally suck, I only spent $40 so it won't break my heart or my wallet.

I'm trying to keep this new hobby/habit/bad idea on a pretty limited budget in case it turns out to be a disaster or I give up on it. I just paperback swapped $60 worth of books on OOAK doll-making/customizing--a hobby that sounded like a cool plan during my last pregnancy 8 1/2 years ago--and moved a couple hundred bucks worth of supplies for the same into J's giant craft supplies box, so losing interest is not outside the realm of possibility.

Keyboard: I ~so~ want a full 88-key real feeling keyboard, but those suckers are hugenormous and around $500. Since dh is musical I made him help me pick out a 61-key for starters online, then devoted an afternoon to Froogling to find the best price. What I ended up with was this, and this link is where I got it, too (no kickbacks, sadly, so it's safe to satisfy your curiousity).

Free shipping, so I think I did pretty good -- Spent $100 on a nice Yamaha (same brand as EJ's pianos...not that I went all fangirl and looked that fact up or anything) to learn on that will resell decently if I abandon it.

Book: I found a book (still no kickbacks... obviously I don't do this for the money, lol!) on learning piano for kids that had the best of the many different "how-to-read-music" explanations I've read lately. I shredded the dust cover, though, so now I can read it at work and no one will notice I'm 25yrs older than its target audience.

Extras: Last but not least and probably most expensive, I spent $60 at Fry's this weekend buying a stand for the keyboard--because it is as big as my dining room table and was taking up the whole thing--and a stool to go with. The latter is mostly to help me learn proper playing posture; after all, you never see people playing the piano while sitting in a wingback, ya know?

So far in the past two weeks I've managed to learn:

  1. How to find the middle "c" on any keyboard, even a short one like mine.
  2. That this is going to be a helluva lot harder than I thought.
  3. How to get the keyboard back into the box so I could move it upstairs and invade the mancave.
  4. Playing (with) said keyboard without the headphones late at night will get me in trouble with my husband and child :-D
Who knows what I'll learn next? Yea, me either. Since I have nothing else to blog about we'll see how many interwebbers are interested in the trials & tribs of a 36yo music novice with ADD learning to play the piano without formal instruction. This should be fun!

PS - Reading sheet music is frellin' HARD.