The best room is my music room. This is my favorite room because I made it. Formerly known as the ‘library’, this room is set off from all the other rooms on the first floor of my house. It is directly beneath my bedroom, next to the stairs.
Originally, this room was used for nothing as far as I am concerned but storage of furniture and books and glass coffee tables that get about as much use as a ‘Happy Leap Day!’ sign would. At a point probably last year, when the area my musical instruments took up became greater than the square footage of my room, the instruments were moved into the guest room. When the cumbersome move of instruments every time someone came over became far too heavy an annoyance, the music instruments, in their complete, were transported to the library.
Initially intended to be a temporary move, it became permanent when I realized the convenience of this new locale for my instruments. And since the room got such little use, no one noticed the filling of the room until the residence of my instruments was so solid that initiating another move would cause an earthquake of distress.
I am so proud of this room is because I turned it from an uninhabitable wasteland into a land of opportunity. Before I came into this room with my instruments, there were two lamps in the room. One small desk lamp was activated by a switch, and another could be turned on if you walked over to it and got the finicky switch just so. At night, the room was dimly lit. I brought in over ten lamps that were being unused around the house, and, with the help of outlet splitters and many extension cords, managed to wire all of them to one outlet, one switch.
One flick of a switch and ten lights go on, every time I see it, it feels like magic. Not to mention the extension cord movements needed to wire up the two amplifiers, two keyboards, three speakers, radio/tape deck, and multitudes of effect pedals. ¼” cables abound, and speaker cables fly like silly string, taped to walls and ceiling like a spider web of sound.
There is ample cramped seating. A recliner here, a settee there, a chair here. The room is filled with books and knick knacks, that make it homey, like the pendulum clock on the wall that’s only right twice a day, or the strange iron figurines above the fireplace, or the piles of folders and books and old computers, and the garbage of the house that is too nostalgic or fragile for the basement or the attic, but too strange for the sitting room. The things in there that are personal to me, though not mine in any way. I organize the room, and I know what there is and where there is, things tossed in a pile by a younger version of my parents and forgotten about and left to grow dust until disturbed. Things that exist only to me.
The room is cramped with all the instruments and things, but I find it cozy. It’s always the warmest room in the house, even though the brick hearth gets no use. When others try to get around they have difficulty, sometimes tripping over a cymbal or a saxophone, but I find it easy to get around. The room, which was once the darkest room in the house, is now the most brightly lit place I know of. The music room is my own personal home. I made it, it is mine, and I love it.
“Grandpa Wears Plaid”
Plaid and denim, plaid and denim, plaid and denim. My grandfather dresses a certain way, and for as long as I can remember, and to this day, he continues to dress this same way. My mother’s father always wears flannel or plaid button-down shirts and jeans, when he isn't wearing something more formal for a more formal occasion. I don’t know particularly why he does, and I’ve never asked, maybe he just likes the plaid pattern, perhaps this outfit is the perfect medium between style and comfort for him, I couldn’t tell you. I wouldn’t go so far as to say he only owns and dresses in plaid shirts and jeans, but nine times out of ten you’ll catch him in that outfit. Perhaps this certain clothing scheme means more to him than meets the eye, but my grandfather is a practical man, and I believe he dresses that way because he wants to. And every time I see someone wearing plaid, I think of my grandfather.
I am a foolish person in many regards, but most prominently, I am foolish when it comes to common sensical things most people understand. As I have aged, I have learned more and more about common sense and become a more sensible person, but not by much. So when I say, ‘when I was younger, I was foolish’ I don’t mean to imply I am not still foolish, because I am. Ask anyone.
When I was younger, I was foolish. By younger, I mean 7 or 8 or 9 years old. I state all those ages because this embarrassing experience took place over multiple years. 7 and 8 and 9 year old me didn’t get clocks.
If the reader recalls, first grade is when children are taught how an analog clock is to be read. We had small, plastic, brightly-colored toy analog clocks on which to learn how to read times. This was considered part of the ‘math’ unit. Time was spent each day learning how to read clocks.
7-year-old me couldn’t learn to read analog clocks. This young 7-year-old struggled not with other aspects of first grade, such as spelling, writing- even other aspects of math! In fact, 7-year-old me not only succeeded in first grade addition and subtraction, but also with a supplementary multiplication unit(which, at the time, was an elite group, not to toot my own 7-year-old horn). It was a mystery to both my teachers, classmates, and parents. However, I was not alone. The ‘clock’ section of math was also taught in second grade, so everyone was sure that young Maxwell would excel at analog clock reading the subsequent year.
Along rolled second grade, and the year passed without 8-year-old me learning his clocks! At this point, teachers and the 8-year-old were mystified at the phenomenon. A perfectly good 8-year-old boy, no trouble with his school work, no trouble with aspects of his care-free childhood. But this 8-year-old named Max, he didn’t get clocks. At this point in my recollection, I believe young Maxwell felt a bit of cynicism at the whole idea of analogous clockwork devices. Digital clocks occupied my house, there being only one analog in the whole house, and a stopped one at that. Why should I learn some ancient system of timekeeping when I can just read numbers? But cynical about the concept or not, 8-year-old me didn’t get clocks. If 8-year-old me had gotten clocks, I am sure he would have forgotten cynicism for another day and moved on with his life, but alas, along came third grade nonetheless.
9 years old was a turning point in my life. Because 9-year-old me, after considerable analog clock education from Mrs. Wintle, my beloved third grade teacher, got clocks. The ‘a-ha’ moment of understanding clocks is a strong memory in my mind, and of all my accomplishments, by far the least notable and recognized by others. Whenever someone talks about ‘a-ha’ moments, I recall the moment 9-year-old me learned clocks. If ever you have struggled with a problem in any subject, to the point of solving it and gaining that fantastic ‘a-ha’ moment, then you know the feeling. But imagine you are much younger, and for years now have struggled with a problem all your peers and the adults surrounding you fully understand, but could not figure it out for your life. Now imagine the moment it all makes sense. The same blue carpet in every children’s classroom covered the floor, the rough yet soft rug with patterns and words and shapes for learning too was spread. The mud hall, with no carpet and where the cubbies covered the wall in ordered chaos, is where I was taken. The mud hall, past the red, blue yellow, and green buckets filled with classroom tools and toys. The mud hall with the clocks. And while other students did something or other with a teaching aide, per the usual, I was taken aside for ‘clock practice’. Things went as they had gone at other clock practice sessions, until I just, I just got it. I just understood clocks. And I did the classic ‘Ohhhhhhhh’ and ‘I get it now’ and Mrs Wintle said do you understand it Max and very good Max. And I looked around the room and it was still the same room. No applause, no realization. No one impressed, save for Mrs. Wintle. Soon thereafter class returned to normal, but I felt different. Profound. And despite being embarrassed before, I felt great.