Watching: Les XIX Jeux Olympiques D'Hiver. I don't think I will ever understand the sport of cross-country skiing. The downhill portions are fine, but watching them try to go uphill, it seems to me it'd be faster if they took their skis off and just ran up the hill, which makes me wonder what the point is. What other sport makes you use equipment that actually hinders your speed?

Reading: Bar exam outlines. Bah.

Thanking: Alyssa, for offering assistance with my challenged sidebar graphic. I love having readers who are smarter than me!

Blogging: Fractious Times. There are many interesting stories being told over there, my friends.

* * Oscar Pool Update * *

Entrants: 37
Prize Amount: $71

Enter, people!

I bought a violin.

I know, I know what you're thinking. You play the violin?

No. I do not. I do not play the violin. I have never played the violin. At all. Ever. I may have held one once -- actually, I think it may have been a viola -- but I have never played one.

And yet, I find myself the owner of a violin.

I don't actually have it yet. I bought it last week on Ebay, and according to that miracle of modern technology known as the UPS tracking site, it'll be here tomorrow.

Keep in mind that when it arrives, I won't have the slightest idea what to do with it. I'll take it out of the case, probably look at it a lot, pick it up and see how it feels. Knowing me, I will probably try to play it, but I'm sure any noise I make will send my cat into spastic fits.

For the moment, anyway. Because after the bar exam, I am going to do something I have always wanted to do.

I am going to learn to play the violin.

Believe me, I have absolutely no idea where this came from. I mean, the desire to learn has always been there. But I don't know what possessed me to start looking at violins on Ebay, or to actually bid on one.

But I did. And I won. And before anyone writes and tells me how risky it is to buy an instrument on Ebay and how it could be crap, I know. I'll be taking it to a shop on Saturday to see if it's worth as much as the ad said it's worth (which is about six times what I paid for it). But frankly, as long as it's worth at least what I paid for it, and someone who knows about these things (luthiers, they're called) thinks it's passable to learn on, then I'm going to keep it. And I'm going to play it.

After I became this particular violin's owner and realized that it was going to come to my house, I paid a visit to the local music store to ask about lessons. The young man behind the counter gave me the details: $13 for one half-hour lesson a week, payable a month at a time. He eyed the schedule and asked if it was for a beginner, and I said yes. Then he asked how old the student was.

"Thirty," I replied. That got his attention, and his grin, but he said that they have quite a few adult students, so I wouldn't be a complete anomaly. I told him I didn't have the violin yet and wasn't going to be able to start until March anyway, so he gave me the store's business card and told me to call when I was ready to come in and we'd find a time that was good for me.

I'm going to be a music student again. For the first time in sixteen years.

I took classical piano lessons for nine years, from the age of six to the age of fifteen. I was talented, but not exceptionally so. Every spring I'd go somewhere and play merit exams, scales and arpeggios and two required pieces and two pieces of my choosing, and every spring I'd get the highest possible scores, "Superior Plus," I think it was. The last year I only got "Excellent"s, and that was the year I quit. I was in high school, I was driving, I had things to do and places to go, and I was at a point where I had to practice two hours a day to improve, and I just wasn't that interested in improving.

I also played the flute for three years, from fifth through seventh grades. I enjoyed that, too, but I never got very good at it, and in eighth grade I had to choose between Band and French, et j'ai voulu apprendre le français more, and so that was it for my career as a floutist.

It's possible that I will hate the violin. It's possible I will get bored with it. Should that happen, I can put it back on Ebay, or stick it in the closet, or donate it to a school.

But it's also possible that I'll enjoy it. Maybe I will like making music again, assuming I reach the skill level where I actually make music. It's possible that one day I will squeak out my first recognizable "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" and this will make me happy and I'll have to call people and play it for them over the phone. I could enjoy it enough so that practicing isn't a chore, but a preferred way to spend my time. Community orchestra? Maybe, someday. The Boston Pops? Well, never, but I might play along at home.

It's not the destination that matters, you know. It's the journey. And I'm making the violin a part of my journey, whether it's forever, or for a few years, or for five minutes. It doesn't really matter.

I'm going to try it, after thirty years of not trying it. That's what matters.

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