Detuned And Totally Unprepared

Clichés are clichéd, awful and annoying. So I’m not going to begin this with the customary “it’s been a long while since I last blogged” and am going to entirely avoid addressing the elephant in the room (text-box?). Or maybe I will. I’m still alive, if you’re wondering. It’s good to acknowledge that!

I’ve been preparing for university. Most of my time has actually gone in procrastinating preparing for university and in trying to accept the fact that I’m eighteen, an adult, and can legally drink in the UK. (Although, UK or not, I am a soon-to-be uni kid who has read too many books—and has a lot more of those to come!
Who needs legal drinking age limits, I’ll probably graduate and never have had the time to drink… and this, ladies and gentlemen, is how you hype your beginning university.)

In truth, my academic progress is hovering pitifully above zero, and I just embarrassed myself with my terribly slowed down calculating powers working on my little sister’s basic high school physics yesterday.  [And of course, “yesterday” being two weeks ago, because that’s how much I procrastinated finishing this post. It’s never like this when I write on paper!]
Did I just call high school physics basic? Change (and tons of rain) is in the air.

I have to admit, I really admire people who can keep up their hobbies during their off-periods. When I was a kid, I used to wonder how busy adults managed to fit in fun stuff into their work-filled lives. I’ve come to realise that when your mind loves to wander and you’re the Ace Pro of Procrastination, blogging in the middle of your chemistry finals preparation is really no big deal. Consistently blogging in the middle of the lazy May summer break? I’d buy you a trophy. To be honest, my mind isn’t really working enough to recognise that I can be blogging about things I’d jump to my phone for during the mentally active periods. Maybe I’d be glad once university begins, so take my future whining with a grain of salt!

My latest preparation for college was thinking it would be a cool idea to have a harmonica on me on campus. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not abandoning my guitar. I’d take it everywhere with me if I could. But I have learnt through experience that that’s not a great idea. It’s also kind of cumbersome. I mean, mum and dad have ruled out carrying my electric guitar and amp with me, at least for the first year. I can’t be walking around stations with a backpack, a suitcase, an amplifier in hand and two guitars slung over my shoulder. So well, ouch. I was sort of hoping a harmonica could fill the void (it would also mean I’d probably do a reverse Dylan– I’m ditching rock and roll for folk and the blues… indicative, ’cause if you see me in a few month, you’ll probably hear me admitting, “I got the blues”). Besides, a harmonica could fit in my pocket! I mean, I do have a policy of always having a pick on me at all times—just in case!—but you can’t really do much with a pick alone, and most people’s incidentally-lying-around guitars happen to be dusty, rusty to the point where you fear a tuning peg would snap if you turned it, to say nothing of the strings, but that’s all in a guitarist’s day’s work. Problem is, they are all right-handed. I am freaking Tantalus.
A harmonica on me would really be neat in such trying times!

So I dragged mum into the nearest music shop because I failed to do that to dad. I may be legally eighteen, but when product prices start exceeding what you can hope t earn in your adolescent dreams, you resort to the trusted method you’ve used since you were five.
In my defence, it got me my first guitar.
So we stepped into the shop.

Now, I’ll make a confession here. I actually don’t like music stores that much. You’d think I ought to practically live there, and I’d have thought so too. But really, they freak me out a bit. It’s a constant challenge from the very second you enter. There’d be that one eager salesman who’s out to prove that he knows more than I’ll ever study.
Hey, I’m still a student too, and in music, the learning never ends. But this guy really is the Master of everything music, and what he doesn’t know probably isn’t for real.

He’s so knowledgeable.

He’s so skilled.

Man wears a backward hat.

He knows a freaking pentatonic scale and keeps playing it over and over again.

He’ll tell you that the PRS he’s playing is probably the best in town. [But his store sells freaking Gibsons on order!] He’ll talk about how he heroically quit everything to pursue hid dream (of being a music salesman?), then he’ll throw his head back and rock it sideways with his eyes closed as he plays the A# pentatonic scale again. And when he opens them again, there’s a clear challenge in his eyes.
Part of me cannot resist the challenge, but oh, for goodness sake, I only came for a guitar belt!

Breathe. Sometime, I’m going to remind him that Stratocasters are heaven and he will forever be a disappointment for this store not stocking one.
But beware that if you ever try out a guitar and play something, he’ll be there behind you, smirking. What does suck though, is that he gets to smirk anyway. Remember I’d mentioned Tantalus? I’m awkward holding all guitars on display, of course. They’re all right-handed. And then, just for variety, Soulful Salesman tells me that he too is left-handed in truth, but learnt to be comfortable playing right handed, for t’is the Right Way.

I guess that’s the real reason he has a three paragraph-long rant in his name.

But anyway, this time it was for harmonicas. I’d heard people refer to harmonicas as mouth organs, so I wasn’t sure what to tell them. On a whim, I went with the second.

“Could you show me some mouth organs?”
There. That was all it took to have triggered somebody.

A man turned to me to inquire if I’d ever played anything in my life, and why I was looking for this particular instrument.

I told him I was a guitarist and was simply interested in trying out a new instrument.
Big mistake. He immediately took me for a commitment-phobe and proceeded, over twenty minutes, to demonstrate, on both the guitar and mouth organ, what a difference commitment could make in a player.

“And, my dear child, it is a harmonica, do not call it a mouth organ!”

He didn’t work at the store (he repeatedly stressed on this point). He was eighty-four years old, an engineer and a hobbyist luthier who had a shop of his own in a nearby town. He showed a number of styles of playing, emphasising what practice could do for me, talking all the while, and all I could do was nod. In between explaining me why I shouldn’t go for a SEYDEL harmonica, being an absolute rookie, just like I wouldn’t begin driving lessons with a Ferrari (I had only wanted a look) came the story of his kid’s birth and the autobiography he was writing, and a pretty neat quote from his book. I just can’t remember what it was at this moment. The book though, is still under construction.

In the end, he told me I could drop by the store anytime, and remember, he did not work here, but they had his number and I could get in touch with him for any advice, and now I should just say “Thank you, sir”, and it was time for me to leave. And well, that’s exactly what happened.
I never actually got to see the harmonicas.

This is why I am not yet ready for college.

Celery For Thought

Supermarkets are hell. Grocery shopping is hell. Grocery shopping in a place where you aren’t limited in choice to just groceries and can in fact buy anything from celery to stationery, medicines to washing machines and god alone knows what more, is hell. I’d have wondered why, if vegetables were more of a nightmare than they’d originally been slated to be, people didn’t just stick to eating ice cream.
But then again, in a supermarket of such stature, you probably get your ice cream shopping done too.

It’s the sort of place where you come out with a shopping bill that looks more like a scroll transcription of an ancient epic.
And whatever the discounts may make it sound like, you’re not going to come out feeling any richer for sure.

Mum decided that as an Eighteen Year-Old Adult, I ought to join the happy family tradition of Sunday morning grocery shopping.
As if I’ve never had to do this before.

Alright then, let’s pretend I’ve made new revelations

It is quite hell.
I can only imagine what sort of an adult I would make. I’d detest the obligatory weekly necessity and curse my human need to eat. Or something like that.

I’d be that person with noise cancelling headphones and a ton of experimental music in my ears, carefully analyzing pieces I haven’t had the chance to in the weekly rush of a [insert weird job title]’s life, carelessly striking items off my list and then getting home to realise, “I forgot to shop for toilet roll… again!”

No, I think people might want to pay me not to be an adult.

But anyway, if I had any use at all in today’s opera, it was that of the trolley. And pacifying mum. Both of which turned out to be the same.
If I had a stereotypical girlfriend, I’d be expected to lug shopping bags around, a scene anyone can identify.
Now replace the shopping bags with chillies and potatoes, and a mum grumbling about how dad wouldn’t allow a second trolley. (After all, what am I for?)

No, putting myself to a little more use than just that, I did shop for ice cream.

But I really am a multi-purpose instrument that deserves to be advertised on the shopping mart bill board. And that’s because I had another task to carry out.

Babysitting. Trolleysitting!
And yes, they’re the same. When you’ve spent an hour at the mart, painstakingly remembering and collecting every item needed to complete this clueless treasure hunt, braving failure every step of the way, that trolley does indeed become precious as your baby. Or at least, what’s inside it does.
A short note about these failures: I’ve taken five trips up and down the store to relay from dad to mum the fact that the vegetables she’d picked out were ‘just not right’.
The second last time I got there, I handed mum the offending packet and told her, “Try again.”
The last I got there, I simply handed her a brand new report card: “F.”

Trolleysitting. When people eye so much candy on shelves, there needs to be a solid anchor to watch over your past efforts. No one said it had to be voluntary, even when the volunteer would rather be leagues away!
My grandparents were here with us today, so I had to babysit their shopping cart. Oh well, with trolleys around, absolutely nothing can be frictionless. (In narrow isles, navigating an overfilled shopping cart with maddeningly screeching wheels is an art. Avoiding the squeaky cart is more luck than an art, because almost no cart is perfect, but it seems today was my day. Ironic, given I had to go at all. But the friction today was elsewhere.)

They momentarily left me to mind the cart as they stood in line for the checkout. The minute they were gone though, all hell broke lose.

A few nods and a glance up later, I realised that they were standing in the senior citizens’ line!

Many people complain about not looking their age, and no way in hell could I ever have fit the board hanging above my head: “Sixty years and above only”. I also think I’ve been overusing the word hell today.

At any rate, my first reaction was panic mixed with a mad, fleeting moment of Inposter syndrome, and then an explanation of how I was trolleysitting. No charge per hour too.

The rest of my time there was spent bumping into (and getting squeezed by, into corners, like no one under the Jacobin government had any business to) other people who’d lucked out with rebel trolleys while typing this post out and occasionally getting that self righteous look from others in the senior citizen queue that said, “this infernal texting generation!”.

But I guess there’s one thing my “adult” self will thank mum for getting me here for: next time, we bring along Paganini.

[Edits: the ongoing civil war against Autocorrect’s subversion of my opinions.]