Friday, August 4, 2006

Day Off

I had a good day yesterday. It was a non-teaching, non-editing day. In other words, I gave myself a day off. Wanna hear about it?

I woke up, and the first thing I saw was my cat, Hideway, staring at me from about four inches away. Yes. Open eyes. See big cat face. So I petted her and generally spoiled her rotten for a few minutes before getting out of bed. It's so easy to get out of bed in the morning now that I'm taking sleeping pills.

Fast-forward through the boring stuff to Coffee Zone in Waynesville. I sat at Coffee Zone for about two hours, writing in my notebook (I don't call it a "journal" because I don't like the word "journal") and reading The Forest for the Trees (you know I'm going through a block when I start reading a bunch of books on writing). It's one of the more interesting writing books. In the chapter "Touching Fire," she writes about how addictions and mental illness inhibit our ability to write. I've touched enough fire this past year, thankyouverymuch. I'm ready to start writing again.

I came home and did some chores. It was a weird feeling, to do chores. This summer is the first time in my married life that I've actually had time to do chores. When I talked to Hubster on the phone last night, he thanked me for vacuuming. (Ah yes ... the romantic love-talk of married people!)

I practiced piano a bit since I had a lesson yesterday afternoon, then I went to the library. I love the library. I practically live at the library. I returned an awful "bestseller" that I had tried (unsuccessfully) to read last week, paid my massive overdue fine, and checked out about eight novels.

Now, there is no way I will be able to read eight books between now and when the books are due in two weeks. And, even though I visit the library three or four times a week, I will most certainly turn the books in a week or so late and have to pay a huge fine. Why do I do this? I have no clue. I've done the same thing ever since I was six and would carry out stacks of books as tall as I was. Only I read them all when I was six.

I headed up to Asheville around 1:00. My piano lesson in Asheville wasn't until 4:30, but I had some errands to run and didn't know how long they would take. They didn't take very long. I ended up with two hours to kill before piano started.

I drove through UNC-Asheville, hoping to find a parking spot so I could sneak into the one of the practice rooms, but the campus was packed. So I found myself at Coffee Shop #2 for the day, Gourmet Perks. I'd never been there before.

Gourmet Perks is in an unassuming-looking little building on Merrimon Avenue, and it's easy to miss these days because of all the road work going on. I had to maneuver through a few knocked-down orange cones to get into the parking lot. On the front of the building is a huge mural of ethnic-looking faces that reminded me of Sesame Street. I could hear the music (I'm assuming it was alternative-type fare) blaring inside before I ever walked in.

I liked it. I walked in and immediately got good vibes. I got my coffee and sat down at one of the tables, its surface clearly painted by some young Asheville artist. I looked around. It was very colorful. It reminded me of the coffee shop that I wanted to open, once upon a time in a pre-Starbucks age.

So I sat with my coffee and wrote about five pages (part of it about the Dilemma), then opened Novel #1 of my library adventure: Amsterdam by Ian McEwan. I read his novel Atonement several years ago and loved it, but I've never read anything else by him. I always wanted to, but never got around to it. So now I'm getting around to it.

Two hours went by pretty quickly, and I got to piano at 4:30. We worked on a technique problem I was having with the fugue, and then I had some questions about the Liszt. "I can actually play through the whole thing now," I said, and Deborah said, "OK. Go ahead and play it through." So I did. She walked around the house, getting things done (I find that I play better if no one is sitting right there behind me), and I played.

When I finished, Deborah pronounced it "beautiful," and then we went back and worked on some fingering and pedaling issues. It's nowhere near perfect, but I'm definitely past the "just learning" stage now. It's been a long road, and it feels good to be where I am with this piece.

After piano, we had sushi and went on a walk, then I headed over to Barley's Taproom in downtown Asheville to meet Hubster and some of his camp staff. I just stayed for a little while, having already eaten and not being in the mood for alcohol. I kissed Hubster good-bye, headed home, showered, took my sleeping pills, and crawled into bed with Amsterdam. Hideaway joined me, as always, and I read until I fell asleep.

Not a bad day at all.

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