Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Talk Thursday: Progressions

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of progressions is I-IV-V-I, which is a chord progression that means everything to the average musician and virtually nothing to anyone else. At the risk of doing yet another post on music theory, that's the chord progression that rules all other progressions, the one that your entire composition is based on, unless of course you're Schoenberg, and I've never understood Schoenberg. But I think the person who proposed Progressions as a topic was thinking more along the lines of progressions through time, or through life, or at least through something a little more exciting than music theory. (I can hear Professor Hackbarth now: "People, theory is not boring. Acoustics, now that's boring.") So the question bears asking: How did yours truly go from a nonlesbian nonBuddhist music student in Tempe, Arizona to a lesbian Buddhist paralegal unpublished author somewhere in the Dallas Experience? Why, through a series of progressions, naturally. And I bet this will shock and amaze you, but some of them weren't very much fun at all.

Let's start with being a music student. What the hell, it's as good a place to start as any. For me there was no crazed-weasel race to get into the best college possible because it was a foregone conclusion I was going to Arizona State. When they offer you a four-year scholarship because you play a bassoon better than most of the other kids, there's really not a lot to argue about. And I did play a pretty darn good bassoon, if I may say so. But here was the problem. I only played a pretty darn good bassoon. I didn't play a brilliant bassoon. I didn't set the world on fire. I didn't, you know, soar. And it became increasingly obvious over the first two years I was there that pretty good just wasn't going to cut it. Which, incidentally, sucks. Because I really liked music school. I could have cared less if I found a job when I got out. One of our graduates was the lead bassoonist for the Lima Symphony Orchestra in Peru, and that sounded grand, but I'd have settled for directing a junior high school band in Nowhere, Nebraska, too. I finally came up against an insurmountable wall, though; I couldn't pass piano class. When you need four semesters to graduate with a degree in music and you fail the first one twice, that might be God trying to tell you to do something else with your life. You think? Maybe?

My next brilliant idea was to join the Air Force. What the hell, I'd just lost my scholarship and had no way to pay for school; if I joined the men in blue, I'd get to go someplace far, far away (I was aiming for the Middle East, where my sort of boyfriend was unlikely to follow me) for four years, and when I came back I'd have money to finish my degree. I went to see a recruiter, who naturally thought this was a fine idea. My dad, an ex-Air Force man himself, even brought home a bottle of champagne to celebrate; then reality hit and he suddenly found himself explaining to me what a Bad Idea this was. I was not Military Material, which was his polite way of saying I don't suffer fools gladly. In short, my bullshit detector was wound way too high for military life. I would have to find some other way to pay for school.

Well, as it turned out my grandmother had left me some money, and I got a job. This meant I at least had less time for the sort of boyfriend, who wasn't happy about this turn of events and began to actively stalk me. Luckily he would soon quit his job, fail all his classes, lose his student aid money, have his car repossessed and become unable to stalk me, more or less in that order. With him out of the picture I was able to start seeing something much more interesting: Women. Well, one woman in particular. We call her The Ex now, which is strange because she was once the One and Only. I guess all Exes start out like that.

Anyway, The Ex graduated college a year behind me and went to paralegal school in California. I followed her there and we moved in together, where we had a tempestuous relationship for about three years that ended with her dumping me for a bimbo receptionist. (Different rules, same dirty game.) I met Joan about a year later, shortly after a series of disastrous dating experiences had convinced me that I need never attempt it again. Luckily, Joan was straight. Or I thought she was, anyway, so she was safe to hang around with, watch the "X-Files" with, go to the zoo with, move in with--oops.

And then Joan got a job in Dallas and here we are.

Okay, I skipped a few things, like how I ended up going to the same paralegal school as The Ex (though, obviously, at a different time) and the whole once-I-ran-with-a-Lutheran-street-gang thing, but see the progression? Music school (I), the Air Force (IV), dumping the boyfriend (V), meeting the girlfriend (I). Moving to California (I), moving in with the girlfriend (IV), getting dumped by the girlfriend (V), meeting Joan (I). Another series or two of chords and I can get us all the way to Dallas.

Oops. I did another post on music theory after all. Well, that's okay. At least it wasn't a post about acoustics. Professor Hackbarth was right; acoustics is really dull.


Cele said...

Okay, at first I was like, "Hey, I like accoustical." Then I got wound up in your whole progression and realized at the end...
1) I can't read music
2) I can't read music theory
and 3) you said acoustics (I have no idea what the difference is) but I will defend myself by saying I love the depths and layering of sound too.

Bassoon? I can't imagine what is required of a stellar bassoonist, crap I can't even play a recorder... a guitar... a zither... or a piano (not even the kiddy version). Girl friend, your progression was fascinating. And every educational.

Jen said...

Why thank you.
Just for the record: Acoustics is the science of sound, or why a plucked string vibrating at x megahertz makes y sound and stuff like that. Actually it's not boring, but the way they teach it is.

wolfwhosings said...

And such utter randomness, or at least operative chaos theory, is why lives rarely make for good plots without heavy editing and plotted stories so rarely feel like real life without just the right amount of random thrown in.