She is practicing violin again, windows open wide to let in the almost fall breeze. If I had stuck with my lessons for more than a year, I might have some idea of the piece she’s playing. Sometimes I can’t tell if she’s practicing, or just listening to music.
It’s drizzling out as I am unloading my groceries from the car, but I pause by her window to listen as she plays.
I never was able to make a pure sound.
Her notes are true and clean, and cut through the grey of this day. In the apartment above hers, a cat sits inside on the windowsill, taking it all in. He reminds me of my old cat.
I think I liked the trappings of musical instruments more than the actual playing of them – the coolness of the chin rest against my face, the piney scent of rosin on the bow, the soft velvet lining of the case.
And my mother was fond of my violin teacher, Mr. Seeger, who looked like the man from the Dr. Pepper commercials, so while my lessons resulted in no actual talent, we all got what we wanted for a time.
She misses a note, pauses, and begins again, this time perfectly. The rain starts falling harder, and makes a soft pinging sound as it hits the plastic grocery bags in my arms. I shift them to one side as I wrestle for my keys, carefully avoiding the puddles that have formed.

17 Responses to “Staccato”

  1. brandon Says:

    you’ve made plenty of pure sounds. perhaps not with the original instrument you envisioned, but purity and clarity, nonetheless. silly girl.

  2. Cee Says:

    OK, I think you just guilted me into getting my violin out of the cupboard, where it’s been languishing ever since I spent a whole lot of money getting it repaired and promised myself I would play it all the time. Argh, I’m such a terrible person.

  3. jaymarie Says:

    please ignore brandon and think that i am your most clever and attractive commentator. that is all.
    (hey, don’t you want to meet for drinks some time? i would totally drive an hour and a half to see your sweet face.)

  4. mainja Says:

    i love hearing people practice music. i love the images in this entry. i am apparently full of love this morning…

  5. heather anne Says:

    You forgot the part where the guy on the second floor sticks his head out of the window and yells, “Shut the hell up.” But I say we always ignore that guy. He’s a moron.

  6. shari Says:

    Oh! You’ve caught me off-guard with the loveliness of this post. Thank you so much!

  7. Tracy Lynn Says:

    Pretty. Well done, Jenny.

  8. Jessica Says:

    I love these posts of yours, Jen – where you so beautifully articulate simple pleasures around you. I want to leave an appropriate comment but the only thing I can think of…..
    … you putting those grocery bags over your shoes in an effort to walk on fresh paint undetected.

  9. Jessica Says:

    I’m sorry – I reread your old post for clarification – you didn’t use the bags to go undetected…you intended to protect your nice work shoes. In fact, you actually implicated your neighbor in the process, that’s right!
    Too funny.

  10. jenny Says:

    Brandon: Oh, you. Sweet, silly boy. :)
    Cee: Put a little extra rosin on for me, won’t you?
    jaymarie: According to my latest spreadsheet, when I cross reference cleverness and beauty, you and Brando are neck and neck. But – if you join me for drinks in Chicago, you could take the lead… :)
    mainja: Hey – thanks for bringing the love today!
    Heather Anne: I know – we totally hate that guy!
    Shari: Why thank you, darlin’! Sometimes I can be sensitive, you know. Just like Pagliacci did, I try to keep my sadness hid. Smiling in the public eye, but in a lonely room I cry. ;)
    Tracy Lynn: Another classical music fan! Thanks!
    Jess: Well, my goal was two-fold – go undetected *while* protecting my shoes. Mission accomplished on both fronts…

  11. Mocha Says:

    Hey. When did we get all serious up in here? Dang, girl. That was some gooooood writin’. I loved it. I want to hear violin music now.

  12. peefer Says:

    Nice image, Jenny.
    I never had the pleasure of eavesdropping on a violinist, but there was the Italian tenor who sang full gusto while walking the city streets. Always memorable.

  13. katie Says:

    Today you reminded me that I miss playing my violin.

  14. roy Says:

    Nice imagery and all that literary stuff. I enjoyed that little peak into your psyche.
    …and you made me wonder if you could play violin if you put it in a plastic grocery bag to keep it dry.

  15. jenny Says:

    Mocha: Well thanks, kelly! But don’t worry – it’ll be all cat tongues, all the time here soon enough!
    peefer: A tenor? Really? Canadians get everything cool…
    Katie: Wow – with all the ex-violinists on this site, we could start an orchestra!
    roy: Well, my instructor told me I couldn’t play my way out of a paper bag, but he never mentioned anything about plastic bags, so I guess we’ll never know. :)

  16. jill Says:

    It’s as if your affinity for photography has invaded your writing. Each paragraph a perfect snapshot of a scene, a memory, a feeling. Gorgeous.

  17. claire Says:

    Lovely writing. It reminds me of the opera singer in the building where I used to live; I always enjoyed hearing her practice.