"It was imprudent of us, in the first place, to become authors. We could have become something regular, but we managed not to.
We were lucky, but we were also determined." Roy Blount Jr

"I don’t change the facts to enhance the drama. I think of it the other way round, the drama has got to fit the facts,
and it’s your job as a writer to find the shape in real life."
Hilary Mantel

Monday, October 01, 2007

A Case of MAS

Over at Mandolin Café I learned about MAS, Mandolin Acquisition Syndrome.

"Yeah, right," thought I, assuming I was immune. I'd bought my cheap-o instrument amd reckoned it was exactly what I needed, considering I'd not yet had a single lesson yet.

Allow me to introduce you to my latest acquisition:

A New York Pro natural wood (with maple neck and rosewood fretboard) A-style mandolin.

My ambitions rose a bit higher than the cheap-o. I'm making a serious effort here. My instrument should reflect that.

I bought it from a man in Tennessee with a lovely thick Southern accent. Amazingly, he was born and raised in Nashua. Where his mother still lives. A strange, strange world it is.

After church yesterday (holy baptism, Canon to the Ordinary as visiting priest), I settled down with the NY Pro for several hours with the songbook and instructional DVD that came with.

I now know 6 chords, 4 songs, 2 strumming styles, how to hold and use my pick, how to tune the strings, and I've got burning blisters on my left hand fingertips. The blisters were the point of it all. I mean to build them up into proper calluses before I actually begin my lessons.

My finger pads haven't hurt this much since my first week of playing guitar...years ago. Ouch.

I thought typing would feel worse than it does...but it doesn't feel great, I confess.

My repertoire, such as it is, qualifies me to sit around a campfire. Especially at church camp, or with cowboys, or with James Taylor and Carly Simon. It consists of "He's Got the Whole World (In his Hands)", "Kum ba Yah", "The Streets of Laredo", "Hush, Little Baby, Don't Say a Word (Mama's Gonna Buy You a Mockingbird)".

I'm not quite ready to dig out my collection of music books (The Paul Simon Songbook, Cat Stevens, Folk Songs of Great Britain, etc.) from my guitar-playing years. I've got a long way to go. But it's comforting that I was able to produce sounds that qualify as music, even if only beginner quality music.

Ruth and Jewel were very adorable, curled up on the big sofa in the downstairs sitting room, listening to me play.

This morning, what with the aching fingertips, my practice consisted of forming each of my chords in succession, to make sure I'd already developed some "finger memory". Which I had done.

I'm doing stuff today that doesn't much involve fingers. Prep work for our next London trip. Returning a recently purchased "suitcase friendly" skirt to the store because I later found one I liked much better. Attending a Board of Selectman's meeting.

Tomorrow, I think, I'm going to schedule my first set of mandolin lessons.

MAS (which I hope proves manageable) appears to be the only malady I've got. My report card for the recent routine blood tests came in the mail last week. The doctor hand-wrote "Excellent!" on it.

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