The Return of Pandemonic

I can hardly believe it has been three years since I posted as Pandemonic. However, lest you think I have been lazy, incarcerated, or perhaps both, my real life person has been busy writing novels. Also busy working in the Real Life business, but that’s boring.

So far, I have completed three novels, self-published one, and am in the process of editing the other two. Also working on finishing a fourth. So I have been very busy. I’ve also been blogging in my real name.

So why would I come back to the Pandemonic blog?

In a word, anonymity. I love that while here, I am a nameless, faceless pandemonic person. My other blog features my real name. There I feel as though I can’t quite cut loose as myself. You always have to worry about stepping on someone’s toes. If you can say one thing about the modern man, most of us are too sensitive to take a joke, and too closed minded to look at things from varying perspectives.

This is why Pandemonic’s Time and Space was started: as a way to vent and bitch and moan and be politically incorrect without suffering the slings of Internet trolls. Been there, done that, and I can tell you, it’s no fun.

I nearly forgot the password and the email address I had used to launch this area of WordPress. But…obviously not. Perhaps I am not getting as old as I thought I was.

Anywhooo…I will be changing around the look of the blog. I feel a bigger need for anonymity.

Preparing for My First Recital

My violin teacher has decided to include me in her June recital.

This is momentous! For the last four years, she has tried to tamp down my enthusiasm for playing with others. True, I’m a slow study, but the ambition is there.

I plan on playing some Bartok dances. My husband might accompany me, even though he cannot stand Bartok. Most Bartok doesn’t bother me; in fact, I studied it when I took piano many years ago.

The weird thing is that I’m getting a little nervous. It’s not that the piece is hard; it’s easy. It’s not like I’m playing in front of a hall full of people; we will be entertaining at a nursing home about two blocks from my house. It’s where my teacher’s husband currently resides. He’s 92 years old, fell down a while back and is unable to move himself.

I’ve played nursing homes before. In fact, my church group in high school used to go every Saturday and play guitar. When Ms. MiniD was still here playing flute, she did the same.

Nursing home audiences are grateful for the break in the usual schedule. Sometimes you wonder if they are cognizant of what’s going on around them.

This is a perfect group to practice my chops on. Most of them can’t chase us out of the building, and that’s good.


Some Violin Stuff, and My Ear

Now that I have journeyed through five Maia Bang theory books, my violin teacher is giving me a break of sorts. She told me to pick up a copy of some Junior Festival pieces (ordinarily played by five year olds) and we will now be concentrating on style.

I have to admit, my style is still stilted and stiff. I am not one with my instrument. This week marks the fourth year I’ve been attempting to play, and I still cannot vibrate. It’s the classic case of not being able to do several things at once, at least, not on the violin. Ask me to answer the phone, drive a stick shift and drink a cup of coffee while cruising FM radio and I can do that. Vibrate and play the correct notes while doing so – um, no.

The other thing she wants me to concentrate on is dynamics, or getting different sounds out of the instrument. I’m a weak player. My idea of dynamics is pianissimo and more pianissimo. (This means very quietly in music lingo) No matter what I do, I cannot play loud. I also cannot distinguish when I’m playing softly and more softly.

I think my problem stems from having a violin right next to my left ear. All of my noises sound the same. This might be why I can barely make out when I am playing sharp. I always play sharp, I never play flat. Unlike my son, the talented Mr. Demonic Jr., I am not blessed with perfect pitch. I can sing out the first couple of notes of Mendelssohn’s Wedding March and know that it’s G-G and C, but beyond that, I’m clueless. My electronic tuner gets a bigger work out than the violin does.

Since this is my four year anniversary, I’m trying to re-evaluate my goal. At first, it was to play with my family and others. My family dislikes playing with me (at least Mr. D does); and when I play with my son, he’s constantly correcting my sharps and counting. My teacher doesn’t think I’m ready to play with other people.

I might quit, but don’t think I will. My teacher is making plans. Her husband is older than just about anyone I know (she was a former student, and a child bride) and currently in a nursing home. When he is gone (which might be ten years from now when he’s 102), she is going to sell everything and move to Maine, where the rest of her family is. When she moves, I’ll look for a different teacher.

In the meantime, I will take one small step forward and slide back two steps. That’s how it is with me and violin.

Time Sucking Headache and Other Stuff

I don’t know if I can work on my novel today.

Yesterday, I reached the over 26K mark for November, just slightly over halfway for NaNoWriMo. In the total novel-picture, I’m sliding down past halfway. The end is in sight. Of course, it took me a year and a half to get to this point, but I’m hoping that I have learned a valuable lesson in time management this month. Either that, or I’ll return to my procrastinating ways and won’t be finished for another year and a half.

I would be working on my book today, but I have a killer headache. I’ve been treating it with advil because I also have a killer neck ache from sleeping like a pretzel last night. That is because Maxx the cat bed-hogged my side of the bed and I couldn’t turn over. Mr. Demonic claimed that as a result, I was bed-hogging his side of the bed. No way, Jose. I was contorted and couldn’t move.

There are other time sucking problems. Our manager at work ended up in the hospital a week ago last Monday. He’s 60 and an only child. Mr. D tried to call his mother over on the Left Coast of the state, and that took three days. She’s 87, and what happened was Mr. D had someone pick her up from her city and bring her to ours. The sick man wanted her to stay in his apartment, but we ended up having her stay with us. That’s because the sick (and hopefully soon to be permanently disabled) man was living in filth and squalor. No really. Think “garbage house” and multiply that by 1000.

Now before someone starts yelling at me about being the Man and putting my employees down, not paying them a decent wage, blah, blah, blah… the sick man actually gets paid pretty damn well. Too well. He’s spent the last six months sleeping six hours each day on the job. The girls and I would wake him on a regular basis. My husband, the boss and the infamous Mr. D, was largely unimpressed. In fact, he was getting madder and madder by the day, and had planned on speaking with the sick man the week the guy ended up in the hospital. Obviously, he had to put that plan on the back burner.

The sick man is a terrible smoker. He’s also an alcoholic. No, really. I mean, severely alcoholic. We had an indication when we have had the opportunity to be in social situations with the guy. If left to make his own drink, it would consist of 99% alcohol and 1% mix. He’s also done some very annoying and embarrassing things while drunk. It is more than likely that his grave condition was due to smoking and drinking. The mother has no clue. Her ex-husband (the sick man’s father) recently died. He was a big smoker and drinker. (Duh.)

Yesterday, the sick man was finally released from the hospital. I bid a teary farewell to the mother. I have a feeling she is going to be waging an uphill battle with the sick guy. She might be older than dirt, but she’s a nice woman, and deserves a better son than the one she has. His mood to her of late has been testy and mean, and that pisses me off. She’s so sweet. She knows about my novel and is very supportive. In fact, instead of talking, she let me go off for a few hours and write, while she watched TV. We exchanged phone numbers and addresses, and I told her if she needed anything at all to call me.

The sick man must have oxygen for the next six months. He hasn’t said what is wrong with him, although he did reveal that his blood has no oxygen and his red blood cell count is high. When I went to the hospital to visit him, his legs were completely black from the knees down, and the skin was like an elephant’s. It was totally gross. If someone knows what condition that is, I’d appreciate a head’s up.

It’s also been snowing the past couple of days. Grace, the dog, does not like to go outside to do her business in this cold weather. I’m not so happy about it either. She sometimes #2s in the house, but that’s not a problem, unless someone steps in it. Thankfully, that hasn’t happened much.

And of course, times are getting tougher. I don’t think there’ll be much for Christmas. That’s okay. The holiday has lost its meaning if you ask me. I might even go to church, although not the one affiliated with my kids’ school. I need a place where there’s not a lot of singing. My head and all, you know.

Anyway, today I have a headache.

That is all.

Ten Things That Are Wrong With Me

Taking a page from Mr. Random’s book, I have decided to list ten things that are wrong with me. There are likely scores more things that are wrong with me, but I’m just wasting some time right now while I wait for a lady to call me to finish up a catalog I’m doing. So I don’t have time to list the other 90, not yet, anyway.

1. I really like to spend money. This is a bad thing, especially with the current economic meltdown looming over us like a huge toxic cloud. I don’t spend money on extravagant things though. Here’s a sub-list of the things I like to spend money on:

  • Good food. I’d rather eat good food than substandard food, and I don’t mind paying for it.
  • Friends. If someone is in need, then I am a friend indeed. Ask anyone who knows me.
  • My kids. Yeah, they are hardly worth it, but I’m a typical mother. I’ll do without if it means they will have something worthwhile, but that doesn’t mean I’ll give anything up for stupid stuff. (Ask them.) I’ll spend anything, as long as it deals with their education.

2. I am a hot head. Yes, this little package (getting bigger all the time) will usually lose the top of her head at least three times a week. Usually, it has to do with employees. Occasionally, it has to do with my daughter, Ms. MiniD. Sometimes, my son catches my ire. Very rarely, my husband. Mr. Demonic knows better than to cross this lady.

3. I am lazy. That’s right, I’m lazy. There are days when I just lie in my bed and look at the ceiling fan spinning round and round, when I know I should be pulling weeds out in the garden, or adding a couple thousand words to my novel, or doing the wash. I blame this on a comfortable bedroom. Sometimes, I lie in bed and look out the window to the sky and think, “I love my bedroom!”

4. I am not musically inclined. Sure, I wish I was musically inclined. I even play the violin, although I do so quite badly. I practice, and I try to read notes, but I struggle. Music doesn’t come to me in an instant flash like it does with Mr. D Jr., and I sometimes am frustrated and pissed off about it.

5. I am not artistically inclined. See #4. This was bad, especially since I was an art major. After the second year, when I ran out of money, I came to realize that I am not especially talented when it came to painting or drawing. Or clay or intaglio. Or sculpture. So I took up other things, like sewing and jewelry. I’m not especially talented there either. Hmm…

6. I am a food snob. Yes. I am. I can’t eat at pot luck dinners, because I would have to respectfully decline food that is ill prepared, or shows little or no imagination, or is high with processed ingredients and low in freshness. I only shop at certain stores because of my food snobbishness. I know I should give those other places a try, but I find I can’t lower my standards or my expectations.

7. I am generous to a fault. I find it very peculiar that as a person (not even counting Mr. Demonic) I have donated more money, time and goods to charity than has our Democratic Vice Presidential pick, Senator Joe Biden. I know Good Time Joe makes a ton more money than the Demonic clan, too. Perhaps I should use his standard as my own. (Nah…)

8. I’m fat. A direct result of #3.

9. I probably have ADHD. Where else would Ms. MiniD get it from? (Mr. D is ADD, because he’s hyperactive all the time.) This would explain my laziness and inability to get anything done. This might also explain my inclination to NOT be artistic or musically inclined.

10. I have a rapier tongue. I didn’t say that, Mr. Demonic said that. I just think I have a razor sharp sense of humor. Actually, before him, my mother said that when I was in high school. I wrote for the school paper and had some of my editorials published in the local newspaper and in national magazines. My mother always chided me about it. “Why do you have to write where you make people mad?” If I hadn’t been that way, I couldn’t have used it for #10.

And Now, A Post About the Violin

As some know, I have been studying the violin for three and a half years. I’m not sure I have made much progress. According to the rest of the Demonics, I’m not much better than I was way back when.

Mr. Demonic doesn’t want to play with me. He thinks I practice scales too much. He plays the piano, but I have to beg him to accompany me. Ms. MiniD played the flute, but now that she is 18, she has fulfilled her obligation to music lessons and playing music, and she has retired. Mr. Demonic Junior, starting his fourth year studying piano at a prestigious West Coast Conservatory, says I still can’t count worth a darn.

This leaves me with my teacher. She’s nice enough, and competent enough (her husband was 1st violinist at our local symphony before he retired about 30 years ago), but I never see any of her other students. We also don’t have any opportunities to play in front of others, which I thought was helpful for my own children.

I’ve now progressed to 6th and 7th position, which means I am way, way, way high up on the neck of my violin. If I thought the instrument was tough before, now it’s practically devilish. It’s taken me two months to do four pages of exercises. Part of my problem is that my elderly brain is not able to comprehend a lot of this all at once. I know what’s right, but making my fingers do it is nearly impossible without hours of practice. The other thing is that I only have an hour or so a day to practice. I wish I could do more. (When I go on vacation, I bring my violin and find I can practice for hours at a time.) Being old, I’m also not as fearless as the little four year olds I know who can play circles around me.

My teacher speaks quickly. I am great at puzzling looks, so she takes the hint immediately. I know what she is saying, especially when it comes to relating my fingers to each other, but it seems to take me forever to put the theory into practice.

You can teach an old dog new tricks, but you have to be prepared to outlive him.

Group Jumping as a Husband Snagging Option

Mr. Vanity Press writes such thought provoking posts, it often causes me to fill up with ideas for my own. Such is the case with this one.

By now you’ve been regaled with the story of my first marriage. Our time together lasted just nine months, but for reasons outside of my control, it took another three years to extricate myself from the man. If you want to call him a “man,” I still think he was gay.

After the divorce, I spent ten years as a single person. This doesn’t mean I was in a monastery or anything. Quite the contrary. By that time, it was the late 1970s and early 1980s, a rather hedonistic era of the 20th Century. I attempted to log in my boyfriends in my journal, but quickly ran out of room. Plus, many of the guys were one-nighters, so I didn’t know their last names. They didn’t even rate journal space. (PUH-LEEZE! Stay with me here… it was the age of disco and pre-AIDS epidemic. Everyone was doing it.) Eventually, I was engaged to a guy who was four years younger. This, also, turned out to be a mistake, but not a huge one, since I wised up in time.

In late 1980, I fell into a job with the federal government. It paid four times what I was making before at the menial jobs I had prior to that. Within a few months, I was living large.

Now here’s where Mr. Vanity Press’ theory about affinity groups comes into play.

My employer tended to hire 30 or so people at the same time. We all stuck together, became friends, and enjoyed our mutual good fortune by partying in our off hours. The previous groups all stuck together, and the later groups were the same way. There was no group jumping, God forbid, probably because the competition for permanent jobs, once they became available, was very high.

After working there for a few years, I got the hang of the secrecy between groups and non-group jumping. At the time, I was pretty much a lemming anyway. I wanted to stay employed and continue to receive big fat paychecks for doing menial labor. I would have sway whichever way the wind blew. I don’t know why. I’m thinking in hindsight it is because I wasn’t fully formed as a person, even though I was in my mid 20s.

However, after a couple of years of forced overtime, my social life was suffering. At the time, I had been engaged (for four years) to that guy, but had no time to spend with him. We drifted apart, me to work unreasonable hours of the day and night, and he to dealing cocaine and snorting the profits up his nose. I only found out about the drug use when we went to book our “honeymoon” trip to Hawaii and the $10,000 we had in the bank was gone. Not long afterward, he was gone too.

I jumped back into the dating pool without a swimsuit. (To be frank, I had been hanging my feet in the water before I ditched fiance Number 2. I know, I know. I was a loose goose, or a fun-loving 20-something, depending on your perception.) It was rough at first. I had been out of the loop. My home was my employment, and my homeboys were my co-workers.

One day, a new group came in for orientation. I remember the day well. It was October 29, 1983. One of the guys in the group was very handsome. I thought he was a Very Cute Boy. (If you remember from my previous posts about Husband Number One, I was touched in a similar way.)

By this time, I was the social butterfly of the work room floor. It helped that my job included pushing stuff from one end of the building to the other. You meet a lot of people that way. I was already starting to transcend my affinity group.

On the other hand, my original group was closed minded. They wanted nothing to do with the new group. They were very unhelpful, especially with directing the newbies to the bathroom, the exits, and the lunch room.

One day I saw the Very Cute Boy standing in front of his work. I went over and talked to him. OK, I blatantly flirted with him. Come on! He was VERY Cute! Then, during our lunch break, I noticed him sitting alone. I sat down next to him and began a conversation. This amazed my best friend from my group. “What are you talking about?” She wanted to know. I told her I learned Very Cute Boy was a piano player. It was the aphrodisiac of the gods. That was a definite deal maker for me.

This continued for some time. I noticed that the Very Cute Boy was trying to find ways of catching my eye. He also finagled himself a job pushing stuff from one end of the floor to another, so we were two ships crossing in the night, over and over again. I wanted the Very Cute Boy to ask me out, and I thought he would, but he never did. It was becoming apparent that I was going to have to take matters into my own hands. I lobbied some of the guys in my group whether or not they would go out with a girl who asked them on a date. Half thought I was talking about THEM, the other half said no, it should not be a problem.

It took some nerve, but I finally asked the Very Cute Boy over for a home made spaghetti dinner on the rare day off.

He came over with three roses in a raging blizzard to eat spaghetti that had burned (because I was asleep from working the night shift) and said was amazing.

The Very Cute Boy is now Mr. Demonic.

The moral of the story: Group jumping is a good husband-snagging option.