Home

Diary of a Fourth Grader, Part 2: The Trumpet

Leave a comment

“What’s the business, that such a hideous trumpet calls to parley the sleepers of the house?” ~William Shakespeare (Macbeth, II, iii)

Last week’s post introduced you to my fourth grade diary and precious gem queens that ruled outer space.  We continue the series this week, with a glimpse into perhaps the reason why I’m not a very musical person.  I do like certain kinds of music (80’s music can’t be surpassed for entertainment value and I’m also fond of classical music when I’m stressed), but I don’t ever go to music clubs or music festivals, it’s just not my cup of tea.  

But when I started reading through my fourth grade diary, I was reminded of a music memory:  my attempts to learn how to play the trumpet.  For some reason I can’t remember, I decided I wanted to join my elementary school band class.  (I think it was my idea…or was it my parents’?)  And when it came time to pick my instrument, I picked the trumpet because it was the closest thing to what my Dad had played when he was in school: the coronet.  I actually do remember the trip to the music store to pick out the used gold trumpet in the brown case with the red velvet lining inside, that was exciting. Less exciting: my mom signed me up for weekly lessons with a trumpet teacher there at the music store.  I didn’t like him, or the lessons.  I guess I thought that once we bought the instrument and I took it to band class, I’d just magically know the trumpet by musical osmosis or something.

January 7, 1980

January 7, 1980

(Transcript: “Today we had P.E.  We played this game with numbers, myne was 1.  I had my trumpet lessons today.  My teacher is fat.  Here is a picture. [drawing] That’s him.  And then I did some more homework. It was a rrrrrr day.”)

Ah, I’m afraid I wasn’t very politically correct at nine years old, sorry about that.  And I think I may have just watched “Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory” because that picture looks suspiciously like Violet Beauregard after she ate the forbidden blueberry gum.  I remember it being very crowded in the confined space of the tiny little lesson room, it was like a closet off the sales floor of the music store.  I remember he also had a mustache and glasses, and I’m pretty sure the real reason I didn’t like him was because he felt the need the empty the spit valve on his trumpet extremely frequently, which I thought was really gross.  That’s another thing I hadn’t thought through very well when I picked the trumpet – the spit valve situation – and it became pretty disgusting pretty quickly.  No one had told me about that little detail. Rrrrrr indeed.

My trumpet troubles continued:

January 23, 1980.

January 23, 1980.

(Transcript: “Today I finished By the Shores of Silver Lake.  Mrs. Fullerton started to read Tee-Bo aloud to the class.  Today I was practicing my trumpet and I couldn’t figure out how B flat sounded.  I watched the circus on TV.  And also Happy Days again.  I ate chicken for lunch.”)

I still have no idea whatsoever what B flat is supposed to sound like; is it one of the more difficult notes to master?  Or is it a scale?  I learned to read music at that time, I remember learning that, but I couldn’t read it today if you paid me a thousand dollars.  It’s like I’ve completely blocked it out, which is weird to me; you don’t forget how to read your written language once you’ve learned, so why would one forget how to read music language once you’ve learned it?  Or maybe I just thought I learned how, which would explain why I was really bad at playing the trumpet…that sounds more plausible actually.  

Also, I started to really hate the little red ring that the trumpet mouthpiece would leave around my lips after playing it.  The other kids in band class made fun of me for it.  I was really bad at emptying the spit valve and it made me gag up a little sometimes.  We weren’t getting along too well in this short-lived relationship, the trumpet and I.

You can guess what happened next, right?

February 4, 1980

February 4, 1980

(Transcript: “Tonight I had to wash my face, and I got soaking wet. (all Dad’s fault!) I didn’t take a bath.  I watched Little House on the Prairie.  I ate chicken for supper.  I had homework to do! [smiley face] We went across to Miss Trihio’s class & watched some movies. (Fairie Tales) We had P.E. today. We did gymnastics in P.E.  I read Inky & Texas for S.S.R.  Stacey walked without me!  I had trumpet lessons [another blueberry Violet drawing] / I quit!!!!!!!”)

Well, what another traumatic day that was…I’d had to walk to school by myself, do actual homework (although I seemed happy about that), and Dad messed up big-time on the face-washing (but thanks for trying Dad).  No wonder another trumpet lesson was the last straw.  You know someone’s serious about quitting something when they use SEVEN exclamation points and in increasingly larger and angrier sizes.  I kind of wished I’d done that when I resigned from that last horrible job I had a few years ago, just to show the level of commitment I had to quitting that time too.

Also, we ate a lot of chicken, and I butchered the spelling of Miss Trujillo’s name, sorry about that (but I was obviously hooked on phonics).  I never did learn another instrument after the trumpet trials, although I can play the first few bars of ‘Silent Night’ on the piano for some reason.  I guess I just don’t have a musical brain, but I have no problem appreciating a good 80’s hair metal rock ballad when the occasion calls for it.

À la prochaine!

Ant Kristi

Diary of a Fourth Grader, Part 1: Diamond Queen

2 Comments

“Write down thy mind, bewray thy meaning so, an if thy stumps will let thee play the scribe.” ~William Shakespeare (Titus Andronicus, II, iv)

During my recent post-Tour-de-France doldrums, I found myself flipping through a memory scrapbook that my Mom made for me a few years ago.  Inside one of the plastic sleeves in the book was a small white diary that I apparently received for Christmas 1979; I was 9 years old and halfway through the 4th grade.  Each day had it’s own dated page and I very obediently began documenting the (not-so) dramatic happenings of my 9-year old life on January 1st, 1980.  The diary could only hold my pre-tween attention span for a few months (the last entry was in April sometime), but there’s a little bit of memory (fool’s) gold in the pages that were inscribed.  

Here’s a segment from that first day:

January 1, 2009

January 1, 1980

(Transcript: “I played at Tricia’s house today with Tricia & Stacey.  We played like we were queens.  I was queen Diamond, Tricia was queen Ruby, Stacey was queen Emorld.  We all ruled part of space.  I ruled the stars.”)

I have no actual memory of this whatsoever.  It’s so strange reading my own juvenile handwriting about things that were obviously important to me at the time, but that apparently didn’t warrant standing power in any of my remaining brain cells. I’m still friends to this day with Tricia, I’ll have to ask her if she remembers this.  (Stacey & I parted ways not too long after this was written actually; she said a bad word one day in front of my little brother and I got so mad at her, I immediately swore her my enemy forevermore…plus I just really didn’t like her, so, yeah.)

But I do give us extra points for imagination – you have to admit, that was a pretty great play game we came up with.  And I must’ve been the one to propose it, otherwise how would I have ended up the top queen, of diamonds no less?  And of course the queen of diamonds would end up ruling the diamonds in the sky – the stars.  (Points taken away though for my gross misspelling of emerald…and I was a good speller in school too, that one shames me.)  I wish I knew what Queen Ruby was given to rule – Mars maybe, the red planet?  I think this storyline could be the next big idea for the Avengers series, I may have stumbled onto something big here…

A few days later I extolled on the power of being put in charge and my resulting tattletale status:

diary2

January 4, 1980

(“Today was the last day of school for the week. Stacy & Trisha got in a fight again.  Also I got a new school coat, and a ski jacket.  It is yellow.  In school the teacher left the room for a minute and she left me in charge.  I wrote six names down.  Dad isn’t going to be here to tuck me in at bedtime.  Boo-Hoo.  We had soup for supper.”)

The kids in my classroom must’ve hated me.  Why did I get two new coats at once, that’s weird.  And obviously I wasn’t the only one who had problems with Stacy (I feel vindicated).  Oh and I’d bet one million dollars that the soup we had for supper that night was Campbell’s Bean-with-Bacon…soup of champions right there, and one of the only food things with meat that I’ve missed over these last 21 vegetarian years.

Nine-year-olds are weird.  But stay tuned for more riveting adventures from Diary of a Fourth Grader in future posts.

À la prochaine!

Ant Kristi

Tour de Doldrums

1 Comment

“Alas, you know, ’tis far from hence to France…” ~William Shakespeare (Henry VI, Part III, IV, i)

I haven’t felt like writing anything lately.  Every year around this time I, along with countless others around the world, enter a real phase of melancholy brought on by le fin of the Tour de France.  For 23 days each July, cycling fans are glued to all types of media to garner every possible detail about the 22 teams racing around France.  We watch 198 professional riders roll off the start line on Day 1, perched on the edges of our seats and waiting for the inevitable stories of human drama that will unfold over the next three weeks.  We count down each kilometer as they make their way on winding French roads through unimaginable and literal mountainous obstacles. We hold our breath with every crash, suffer through unending commercials from revenue-hungry networks, and cheer on our fan favorites as they turn themselves inside out for historical glory.

And then all of a sudden we blink and we’re watching the weary and wounded roll into Paris three weeks later, on the last day of the race.  The contingent is usually around 160 riders by that time, depending on the number and severity of the crashes, the amount of sidelining sickness within the peloton, and the number of stupid mistakes yet made by some (yes there are still, incredibly, unbelievably, riders who still get thrown out for doping in this day and age [thankfully it was only one guy this year], but this year’s “DUH” award goes to the rookie rider who though it would be ok to hitch a short ride in a team car in order to get a flat tire fixed.  Jumped in the backseat right in front of the race referee…they should’ve given him a bobble head trophy which continually shakes its head in disbelief.)

map_route

For me, my typical Tour day here at home would involve getting up early to catch the live broadcast each morning (both on TV and via online links to European stations), which would begin anywhere between 5:00-7:00 AM and would usually last around 4 hours.  (I always feel bad for the Australia fans during the Tour, coverage for them is in the middle of the night, from about 10:00 PM to 2:00 AM.)  Then there was an evening recap broadcast from 7:00-10:00 each night but I would usually only watch the last hour or so of that one to catch any new interviews or analysis.  (I would walk 3.5 miles on the treadmill each day while watching the morning live race so that I wouldn’t feel quite so couch potato-ish.) 

During the in-between hours, I would catch up on Twitter for race and rider commentary, team videos, and news stories, which probably took another 2-3 hours each day.  Then there were online podcasts to listen to from journalists at the Tour, another hour or so daily.  (The Tour is the most reported-on sporting event in the world each year, so there is a copious amount of information available each day.)  I was on vacation from work this entire time, so the Tour became my stand-in occupation.  Would that I could only be paid for the vast amount of Tour de France knowledge absorbed by my brain during the month of July…I’d be a rich woman.

Signs seen in Leeds storefronts for the 2014 TdF,

Signs seen in Leeds storefronts for the 2014 TdF, “Yellow is the New Black; Proud Supporters of the World’s Greatest Cycle Race.”

A supporting storefront in Harrogate, Stage 1 of 2014 TdF.

A supporting storefront in Harrogate, Stage 1 of 2014 TdF.

I can’t really explain my obsession (although I did try in this past post).  It’s tough to be a cycling fan after the revealing history of the past several years.  Part of it comes from the two Tours I’ve had the privilege of seeing in person – in France 2010 (in the Alps) and in England in 2014 (for the Grand Depart).  Once you’ve felt the electric current of the race up close and personal, once you’ve experienced the biggest sporting event in the world in person, you watch with a certain loyalty and nostalgia of one who remembers the awe.  It does take a lot of loyal fan commitment to stick with the race through three entire weeks.  But when you really take time to learn the race and see what it takes for one man, let alone 160 of them, to finish this massive accomplishment, often limping through the final stages with broken ribs and bandaged limbs but surviving on hope of riding into Paris on that last day – well, it just kind of hooks you I guess.  

Mark Cavendish before the Grand Depart on Stage 1 in Leeds, 2014 TdF.

Mark Cavendish before the Grand Depart on Stage 1 in Leeds, 2014 TdF.

Press Commentary boxes on the finish line in Harrogate for Stage 1, 2014 TdF.

Press Commentary boxes on the finish line in Harrogate for Stage 1, 2014 TdF.

And after that last Sunday, when the final rider has rolled across the finish line on the famous Champs-Élysées and the volume of Twitter chat takes a sudden plunge a few hours later, fans are left to face the following days in an empty vacuum.  The romanticism of the race has ended for another year.  We wonder what to do with empty hours that used to be filled with fantastical images of French scenery (we miss you, polka-dot cows).  We manage a small smile in wistful remembrance when overplayed commercials we used to hate now populate other programs.  We flip the calendar to August and hobble back into work (a few pounds heavier for all the croissants we’ve consumed), wondering which races the riders will do next (and how can we secretly watch them while at the office).

But mostly, we just start counting down to next July.

À la prochaine!

Ant Kristi

%d bloggers like this: