Like plenty of artist-types, I spent Memorial Day working over a hot laptop rather than over a hot grill, in the hope of taking some raw ideas for my next piece and cooking them appealingly enough to dare serve to others. I was in The Zone, composing directly into a notation program, and feeling like the Iron Chef of Music Studio Stadium. But in the midst of a flash of [dubious] inspiration, at precisely 3:42 p.m., the power went out in my area of the island, for no discernible reason at all.
My first reaction: oh, crap. ‘Cos truth be told, in addition to all that music stuff appearing on my screen, in between bouts of [dubious] inspiration I was also multitasking, and wasting time on the internet looking for one inane thing or another to better organize my closet. Surely, no one else ever wastes time surfing the net while they’re working, do they? Of couuuurssse not…
My second reaction four seconds after the first one: great! No more web distractions. I’m such a child; sometimes it takes an external parent to tell me how to behave. Father Orcas Power & Light Company had burst into my room, scolding me to do my homework. Thanks, Dad.
This warm, windless, hazy day deserved to be used. Without hesitation, I unplugged anything around me that needed protection from the eventual boomerang surge (that arrived about two and a half hours later), and systematically detached my laptop from:
the 24″ monitor,
the tiny terabyte backup hard drive,
the speaker/subwoofer cable,
and the two usb and firewire hubs that connect it to printers, scanner, hard drives, trackball, cameras, iPhone, and all other messengers of media.
Yes, my trusty little 11″ MacBook Air is a busy city. A much larger and über-powerful tower computer runs the music production side of things here at the headquarters of Shapiro Nutty Notes Worldwide, Ltd., but all other work can be slipped into my purse as I slip myself on and off of lots of airplanes, able to run my business as I run around. I love this.
So, to the great outdoors I go: a few feet to the other side of the glass, scaring off the chickadees as my human form moves toward the little tile table, on which I place:
the ear buds
the better camera with the zoom lens
(I am a composer Girl Scout: always prepared!)
Needing a mouse pad for the uneven surface, I grab the first thing atop the piano: Mozart Sonatas. Great as they are, I think I’m still recovering from the trauma of playing them with the correct fingering as a kid. Ardent indications from my piano teacher’s No. 1 pencil still fill the edition, echoing endless weekly lessons in which I often felt I was a disappointment to this patient, charming older gentleman, the late Marshall Kreisler. Admittedly, the undignified function of mouse pad was the most use these wonderful pieces have had in a while.
The hummingbirds buzz on the feeder behind me. A black fox saunters past, looking up, unimpressed. A few finches flit nearby but are too timid to land on the railing, which is laden with fresh seed every morning as my coffee brews. A seal snorts and glides by my feet. And moments later, a bald eagle soars right over my head (possibly sizing me up for an afternoon repast and figuring that while my little head is a cinch, the shoulders could be problematic). All that is missing are the whales, who are doing their whale-thing further up the island coast this day.
The notes flow. I’m not only in my zone, I’m in everyone’s zone– much to their dissatisfaction, but to my delight. This is a truly amazing way to work, to breathe, to be inspired, [dubiously or better], and to think. To hear the flutter of tiny wings moving the air, and to feel the puff of breeze from the flap of much larger ones: this is where the music comes from. To hear sea mammals before even seeing them, the sound of their breath traveling easily over the water: this is where the music comes from. And to nearly weep from the beauty of it all and my great fortune to live this life: this is where I’m hoping that eventually, if I am lucky, the music will come from.
I love it when the power goes out. Everything else, comes in.
We all work for birdseed.