(Photo Details: The relaxing part of our bike trip in Indonesia on the island of Lombok-May 2016)
It’s always hard to write a post after such a long absence. Even when I’m not blogging, I think about blogging all the time. Both for the writing part and for the interaction part--I always miss the interaction part the most.
But there are only so many hours in a day, even when you are retired! So I just thought I’d send you a little postcard from retirement to tell you that I miss you, and let you know what I’ve been up to. You already know that I haven’t been blogging (other than just thinking about blogging, which I guess doesn’t really count.)
As many of you know, learning to play jazz piano was something I had always pictured doing when I retired. I didn’t get around to starting until five years into my retirement. Better late than never, right? But I’m deep into it now. Besides taking weekly private lessons, I am now taking a jazz piano class at the community college. We meet three days a week for an hour. With practice and an hour commute each way to school, I’m as busy with this as I was when I had a part-time job a few years ago!
On the first day of class last week, our teacher told us about four different levels of learning piano. Actually, this is probably true with any new skill:
-First you don’t know how much you don’t know. That’s the Unconscious Incompetence stage.
-Next you start to learn and you realize how much you don’t know. That’s the Conscious Incompetence stage.
-I’m beginning to gain competence (finally after three years of lessons!) So I’m in the Conscious Competence stage. It takes a lot of concentration and practice for me to play right now. It doesn’t really come naturally or easily, it’s still very hard work to play what I want to be playing.
-The final stage, she told us, is the Unconscious Competence stage. Where you can access all your knowledge basically unconsciously--with ease.
Of course one student asked how long until we get to that stage, and our professor said 10,000 hours. We all know about that 10,000 hours thing, right?
So I calculated that if I could practice 20 hours per week, I could get there in 10 years. Even though I’m retired, I don’t think I can manage that, 10 hours a week is probably even ambitious. At that rate, if I stick with it, I’ll be really great by the time I’m 72 years old. Probably too old to start touring, but maybe some time during the next 20 years I’ll at least get to the point where I can play for people without shaking. Currently there are only four people I can play for without shaking—the teacher I’ve had for the last three years, my husband, and my parents. And I have to play in front of the entire piano class for the mid-term and final. So it would be nice to at least make a little progress on that stage-fright thing.
A few months ago, after my Uncle Jim died, I spent a weekend reading through a bunch of personal letters and work memos that Jim had saved over the years. The best stash was a box of letters he had written to his best friend over 40 years. His friend’s daughter returned the letters to my uncle after her own father died. I learned so much, in my uncle’s own words, about his life. I only wish he were still here so I could ask him some questions!
After I did that, I decided to attack another box of memorabilia that my dad had given me awhile back. This box was filled with letters, photos, and other items my mother had saved. (For those of you who are new to my blog, my mother died when I was 16.)
In this box I found some paperwork about her own adoption. She was adopted as a baby, and when I was a teenager, she had thought about trying to find her birth mother. Something that wasn’t as easy back then. Ultimately, my mom was too afraid to contact her mother. She wasn’t sure what kind of response she would get, and she didn’t think she could face it if it wasn’t a happy reunion.
But with the internet, I found my biological grandmother in about 10 minutes. Unfortunately, she died a couple of years before my mom did. So I contacted her daughter--my mother’s half-sister. In spite of the pretty great shock, my newfound aunt and cousins have been very welcoming and are interested in getting to know each other better. This is the beginning of an exciting chapter for me!
And finally, I wouldn’t be totally honest if I didn’t tell you I waste an incredible amount of time each day following the presidential election. Yes, time I could be blogging, or working on that 10,000 hours of piano practice. Time that would be much more well spent in any number of ways. But I can’t help myself. It is the most interesting race I’ve ever watched. I’ll leave it at that.
Thanks to all of you who have sent me so many nice emails lately!
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