reprioritising

Last night I sat down at the piano for the first time in about 1-2 months. Before that, I had been practising less and less due to a combination of being busy with other things and being lazy. Last night I decided that I had to recommit.

I’m certainly not at the stage of being able to return to piano after a long absence and pick it up again easily. Indeed, I’m not sure that I’ll ever get to that stage, since I don’t have a natural aptitude for music, but I’ll be darned if I don’t try. I hadn’t even looked at sheet music in these last several weeks, so I had to start from the start, playing scales to become reacquainted with the notes.

What I realised last night — or re-realised, because this is certainly nothing new — is that I need to be more consistent with my piano practice if I want to improve and be able to play with any level of proficiency. It’s a thought that has been gnawing away at me for a while, but I’ve been sweeping it under the proverbial rug instead of doing something about it.

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home time

I was going to write a post to round up the year, and lead into the next one, but it feels like there has already been so much contemplating, reflecting and philosophising throughout this entire year, that maybe one more is superfluous. I think it is normal to see a surge in these reflective posts on the blogosphere around this time of the year, which is completely fine, but I think I’ll leave it to other bloggers.

As I started writing the previous draft of this post, I realised that there were only a few things I wanted to mention.

First, that it would be wonderful if I could just stay at home all day, like I have been over this long week-end, and just learn things (piano and Russian being the main subjects of study at the moment, along with the Napoleonic wars, which I’m inadvertently learning about from reading War and Peace). But, alas, one must have an income to support these hobbies (not to mention sustain life), so I’ll be back at work tomorrow.

Second, is that my partner has got me back into computer games. I haven’t played — as in, properly played — a video game of any sort for a very, very long time. Those little mini games or apps don’t count, and I don’t play those anyway (there are no games on my phone). I think good games need good storylines with interesting characters in order to captivate me, and make me feel like I’m not wasting time. The ones I’ve been started on — Dragon Age: Origins; and Spec Ops: The Line — certainly deliver on intriguing stories.

Initially I felt incredibly uncoordinated with the controls, having become unaccustomed to the movements of gameplay, but I’d like to think I’ve gradually gotten better. Yes, I’m playing on the easiest settings, but it’s challenging enough for me. Besides, if it was too hard, I wouldn’t have energy to appreciate the stories.

And so, as we approach the end of a year that most would probably rather forget (or bury as far down in the depths of memory as possible), I think ending on a quiet note is not a bad idea.

Borodin

Earlier this year, when I was listening to ABC Classic on the radio, the presenter gave a very brief account of the life of Aleksandr Porfirevich Borodin. They said that before Borodin was a composer, he was a chemistry professor. It was actually while he was quite ill, and could not go to work as a chemistry professor, that he did a lot of his composing.

I found this interesting for two reasons: First, the fact that music essentially had the status of “hobby” for him — something he did in his spare time, away from work — but he managed to do really well, and became quite famous for it. I wonder if this was his real ambition, or if he just composed music for himself, and somehow realised he was actually good enough to do it professionally. Continue reading

obscure hobbies

Whenever I’m asked by someone what my hobbies are, my standard response is “reading and running”. If the person asking the question seems trustworthy and likeable and non-judgmental, I might also mention that I write (and then I’ll freak out about whether or not I should have just stuck to my standard response, and worry what to say if they ask what I write).   Continue reading

on the side

I was talking to a friend the other day about my blog, and I realised that, although I only got into blogging because some friends were also into it, very few of those (if any) still maintain a blog (that I know of). And here I still am, adamant that I’ll maintain this post-per-week thing for as long as I am able to type and have some sort of internet access.

I suppose this has sort of become a hobby. I’ve never really thought of blogging as a hobby before, though. If people ask me what I do in my spare time, or if I have any hobbies, I actually quite highly doubt that “blogging” would even cross my mind. And yet, it fulfills all the requirements of a hobby. Is that strange?

Well, I figure it’s because I just consider it to be a thing that I do – not necessarily a past-time, but an essential part of my week. It’s like how I wouldn’t consider ironing my work uniform to be a hobby, even though it’s something that gets done on a roughly weekly basis. And, no, I also don’t exactly consider it a chore, since I generally don’t have a problem with ironing (unless it’s ridiculously hot or something, in which case I’d just wait until later in the day when it’s cooler, or put the air conditioner on).

On a side note, the more I talk to people about ironing (and, no, don’t worry, it doesn’t pop up in conversation that often), the more I find that a lot of other people don’t mind ironing either. Granted, a lot of other people hate it, but that’s kind of the norm, I guess.

On another side topic that’s kind of unrelated but I’m going to write about anyway because I just thought of it and this is my blog, so I’ll write about what I want – I can’t remember who or where, but someone was talking about how they’ve only ever seen certain words written down and thus don’t know how to pronounce them properly because they’ve never heard those words spoken. And now I kind of wonder if there are certain words, which I’ve learnt from reading and deducing the meaning from the context, that actually mean something (slightly) different.

I like learning new words and expanding my vocabulary and such, but a lot of the time, when I’m reading a book, I don’t want to interrupt the story by looking up words to find the proper definition. Sometimes I’ll make a note of the word (mental or written) to remind myself to look it up later …but that doesn’t always happen. So now I have this very mild and probably insignificant paranoia that there may be certain words that I’ve read/heard a hundred times and thus think I know the meaning of, which actually mean something a bit different.

For example, I managed to slip the word “enthralled” into conversation today, and afterwards had some misgivings about its usage in that particular context, so I actually looked it up just before, and happily found out that my usage of the word was fine. On a side note to this extended side note, I quite like the word “enthralled”, so I’m glad it means what I thought it meant.