Tag Archives: Music

Powerless

 
As I mentioned in an earlier post, we had quite the storm here the other week. The winds snapped some of our bamboo in half, a big tree decided to fall over and rest on our house, and our power went out. Which wasn’t unexpected. We thought it would come back up fairly quickly, but nothing doing. And although we had a generator sitting in the shed, we just couldn’t get it to work.

 
And when I say “we,” I really mean “not me.”

 

 
When night falls and you’re sitting in the dark with only a few candles lit and absolutely no electrical power, you realize how much of your everyday life is dependent on electronics. The initial smugness that you feel when you think, “Ha! My laptop is fully charged, you fool!” instantly dissipates when you realize that the modem, and hence any kind of internet connection, is down. There’s no catching up on chores either, since the vaccuum and the laundry machines run on electricity too. I didn’t lament that part too much.

 
Undaunted, and refusing to accept that we might be a bit too dependent on the power company, we found ways to entertain ourselves. First, Tim picked up his guitar and started strumming aimlessly. So I picked up mine, intending to maybe launch into a John Denver or Bread song. I don’t know what happened, but we instead ended up playing Yellow Bird, with Tom singing his Caribbean heart out. And, as is always the case when I play Yellow Bird, I threw it into a Jamaica Farewell mashup, which is always fun until you realize you just turned a 3-minute song into an 8-minute medley that just won’t end.

 
We finally got tired of that, so after 7 minutes, we decided to play word games. Using only names of ingredients, we went around, each one giving a word that starts with the last letter of the previous word. We quickly found out that we really don’t know a lot of ingredients that begin with the letter E. And although I couldn’t tell clearly in the dark, I think I got a few dirty looks when I said “endive.” I don’t know exactly when the game ended, but I think it was right around the time we realized Tom was making words up and insisting, “No, that’s a real fruit/vegetable/seasoning/herb in Trinidad!”

 
It called to mind the time when I was growing up in the Philippines, where power outages (blackouts and brownouts, as we call them) were at one time fairly regular. Unfazed, we still played games outside, or sat at the piano singing every song that came to mind. Once, on the middle of one of the many failed coups during the late Corazon Aquino’s presidency, we spent an entire evening huddled in the dark in the basement of my uncle’s house, listening to the radio reports of snipers firing at vehicles on the road. As stressful as it was, when we think back on it now, what we mostly remember was my cousin breaking out her baby brother’s toy piano-harmonica hybrid (I have no idea what it’s called) and playing music almost all night long. We pretended it was a saxophone and soon forgot the chaos going on outside.

 
It’s such an indelible memory that about 15 years ago, when my cousin was going through old boxes of things in their house in Manila, she found the toy and sent it to me here. And I instantly understood the gesture, and the nostalgia behind it. I keep it in our family room, proudly displayed despite all the scratches and the chipped mouthpiece. And I play it still, always instantly transported back to that time as soon as the first note fills the air around me.

 

 
These days, when I need something to do idly besides reading, I mostly reach for my iPod and play a game of Scrabble, Kendoku, or Unblock Me. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. But after our recent prolonged power outage, I realized that, aside from the supreme joy that it gives me, there’s something else that I get from music that I may have taken for granted before: its power to transform a dark, quiet, sparse space into something glorious, without the need for any source of external power but the one that’s already inside you.

 
Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m over the word games. I’m still kinda nerdy like that.

 
How about you? What would you do if you lost power for 24 or even 48 hours? Or, say you’re in the woods somewhere, in a tent maybe, and no, you can’t plug into your camper’s power source. And it’s too dark to read. (And you’re not allowed to sleep or just do nothing, or else a … a … a bunch of gangster bears will come and harass you. Yep, that’s right. You heard me. Gangster bears.) Do you have any favorite non-electronic games or activities that you’d like to share? I’d love to hear them! Because, to be honest, I think the guys around here might smother me with a pillow if I suggest another game of ingredient names.

 

Dino's toy piano-9327

 
 

Soothes my soul

It’s not readily obvious to those who’ve only recently visited my blog, but if there’s one thing that’s been a constant in my life, it’s music. I’ve been playing since I was old enough to hoist myself on a piano bench, and growing up, the only way I could fall asleep was to leave my stereo playing. (And the best way to wake me up was to shut it off. It drove my mom insane.)

 
In my mind, I think I naturally assign songs to certain moments or phases in my life, almost as if I’m compiling separate soundtracks for each event. There are songs, with words or otherwise, that manage to hit me hard every time I hear them, even 48 minutes into a “repeat single track” loop that ends up lasting half a day. I seem to instinctively attach something to every piece of music I enjoy, and if you ever even just casually mention your favorite song, that’ll be one of the things I’ll always remember about you.
Continue reading Soothes my soul

Dreamy Sunday music

Because it’s Sunday. I’m tired of having the flu. It’s cold outside. I’m home alone. And I went and dug up my old Symphony Sessions CD because this post reminded me of it.

This music makes me think of long drives across upstate New York with my mom and my older brother. It’s music that makes me well up inside and imagine the sweeping vistas of an autumn northeast countryside that somehow conjure up equally sweeping waves of emotion inside me. It’s melancholy mixed with nostalgia mixed with the wonder of an uncertain future with a tinge of non-specific regret.

Whatever. I like it.

Gray days always make me homesick.

I hope you’re enjoying your Sunday too. And if you’re digging the music, please go and buy the album (it’s by David Foster). It may be 26 years old, but it’s as timeless as it gets.

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We Were So Close

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Water Fountain

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Time Passing

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Just Out Of Reach

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Conscience

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The Ballet

And, just to perk you up:

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Winter Games

Go on. Please buy the album. I mean, I’ve let you listen to 7 of the 10 tracks here. In full. Don’t you want to have this CD with you the next time you want to reminisce about autumn countryside drives? If you had an older brother who annoyed you to death, you can leave him out of the picture. I won’t tell.