Cold Feet

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As I donate my belongings to Salvation Army and turn my furniture into cash, I realize the hardest part is almost here: saying goodbye and actually leaving.  Not just talking about leaving but emptying what was once my home and boarding a plane with no intention of returning anytime soon.  And as much as I love the adventure of picking up and moving, the thought of saying goodbye to my routine, comfort, and California friends is making me sick to my stomach.

This week, I had my second to last lesson with Alek.  We reviewed a lot of the theory he’s taught me the past 4 months and it left me dreading my final lesson.  I don’t even know what we’ll work on.  There’s no point in working on something new so maybe we’ll do something fun – more blues soloing?  I shall wait and see.

I will admit I am having second thoughts about this move – cold feet, perhaps?  I just have such a great connection with Alek and his explanations are down to earth and it feels like we’re just two friends chatting away about music.  I don’t even feel like I’m paying for lessons because he doesn’t rush me in and out which is a good and bad thing.  I’ve accepted the many times we’d start my lessons late because I knew that he would give me the same opportunity to learn and was willing to go over the allotted time to ensure I left with a full understanding and foundation to practice new material at home.

Danny has a lot more students than Alek so that’s never an option.  But I’m excited to see Danny too.  He’s like a second Dad to me.  Except it’s not awkward talking to him about dating and other personal events in my life.  I mean, I’m extremely close to my Dad but that’s a rare topic.  I’m sure some of you understand where I’m coming from.

Anyways, I’m squeezing in one last lesson on Sunday – gotta get my money’s worth.  Gotta say goodbye… although a small part of me wants to stay.

Image courtesy of Digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

3 Days ‘Til Graduation

 

ID-100111557Let me be honest with you… I was riding the struggle bus last week. Practice is currently at an all time low and it’s not that I’m uninspired.  It’s just life… it “happened.”  I made the decision to leave California and move back east, so I have a lot going on to say the least.  On top of that graduation is on Thursday so I will pack up and move 4 days later.  Everything is happening so fast!

To simply sit down and practice is like pulling teeth–It’s painful and I hardly budge because I can’t focus.  What’s strange is that I’m pumped up about guitar because I’ve been listening to Paul Gilbert’s solo albums exclusively.  I’m accumulating a lot of ideas to use but when a guitar is in my hands, that energy dissipates because I think about everything else that needs to get done.  You know… Packing, farewell parties, negotiating with ultra-cheap Craigslist buyers, job hunting, and all those fun activities on my “To Do” list.

During my last practice session I used a timer: 5 min open chords, 5 min barre chords, 10 min scales, 5 min locating notes on the fret board, 10 min soloing with backing tracks.  It wasn’t too bad but I hate that it’s come to where 5 minutes feels like 30 minutes.

I’m excited for what the future has in store for me after graduate school but I’m also looking forward to things settling down and regaining my focus.

Image courtesy of mrpuen / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Flying coast to coast without celebrity treatment

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“Is that an instrument?” asked the US Airways employee.
“Yes,” I answered softly with sleepy eyes.
“And you want to check it with your suitcase?”
“Yes.”
“I don’t know if I would do that…”
“And why not?”

Perhaps there is more advice on the internet nowadays but when I began flying from California to North Carolina regularly, the concept of traveling with a guitar was daunting.  Reading google search results stating, “it depends on the airlines” and the inevitable horror stories did not help with my anxiety of allowing mysterious airport employees handle my pride and joy… I mean, has any passenger actually seen these people?

I am very fortunate that three Christmases ago, my Dad got me an extremely nice Gator case.  It is heavy and a pain to lug around, especially while running through the airport to catch a connecting flight before the terminal door closes… Oof! Bad memories…  But man, oh man, is that case sturdy.

Typically, I travel with my guitar as a carry on and put it in the overhead compartment or underneath the plane with the other fragile instruments and baby strollers.  However, one day I found myself boarding a plane that was so full, there was no room in the overhead compartment.  That’s when one of fears came to life…

“Miss, this flight is full.  But you can check your baggage at no cost.”
“There’s no space underneath the plane for fragile items?” I asked suspiciously.
“No.  Check in your instrument and it’ll arrive at your final destination.”

I asked the poor woman several questions after that.  I simply could not understand how the plane did not have any compartments underneath the plane for passengers–Thanks for looking out, United Airlines.

After sensing her frustration, I surrendered my guitar and sat on two planes as I anxiously awaited the fate of my beloved Breedlove, acoustic guitar. And you know what?  It was completely okay!

I mean, the buckles that close the case were loose but thankfully, I locked it which disabled its ability to open without a key.  Was there any damage?  Not at all.  There wasn’t a single crack, scratch or dent on my guitar.  Now that I think about it, my Gator case was in better shape than my suitcase.

I’m not going to lie, as nerve wrecking as it was, it was nice to not lug my guitar around an airport.  Because the Gator case is the weight of a small child, I fear setting it down to rest my arm then absentmindedly leaving it to get stolen.  So, this past Tuesday I checked my guitar, regardless of what the US Airways employee warned me.  And you know what?

Again, it was fine!

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Traveling Tips:

  • Invest in a hardshell guitar case.  Yeah, it’s expensive but it’s like health insurance:  better safe than sorry.
  • Carry your guitar onto the plane.  You can check it in when you initially arrive at the airport but it will be FREE at the terminal.
  • Avoid United Airlines.  But that’s my unbiased opinion because I had a bad experience and they don’t tag your guitar as “fragile” like US Airways/American Airlines.
  • Tune down all your strings to prevent them from breaking due to the high elevation.
  • Examine your guitar while in the baggage claim area.  I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to call the airport about damages found on your guitar.
  • Lock your case!