The Sound of Silence

            It was Saturday and I was planning on staying in bed until my body felt energized and ready to do nothing for the rest of the day. No one could scold me for doing exactly what Saturdays were made for. Jews would be very proud of me. Not sure Jesus would feel the same way. He might want to have words with me later but I’m sure he wouldn’t be too angry.

            My plans for executing a successful weekend day were well on their way. That is, until at eight o’ clock in the morning when the power went out in the entire neighborhood. It’s not something I can easily ignore. Even as a heavy sleeper, the abrupt silence caused by the lack of the AC’s gentle whirring will alarm my brain with the message something’s different.

 Then, when I was awake enough to realize this, there was no turning back. I desperately tried to go back to dreaming about Japanese people speaking Spanish and teaching me the awesome ways of the Samurai. Just go back to sleep, I told my brain with a soothing tone. But overly observant as he is, he just went on to point out everything that bothers him.

            “But the AC’s off now. Aren’t you warm? Wouldn’t you rather sleep with a cool constant breeze? I can hear everything! Don’t you get it? Don’t you hear that bird chirping happily outside your window? How can I ignore that? See! There’s your dog, barking away because the grass moved and he’s sure it’s an invisible ninja walking through your yard. Okay… you can’t tell me any of this isn’t bothering you, can you?”

            “Just shut up. Shut up, shut up, shut up.”

            “But don’t you hear it? What am I supposed to do?!”

            “Sleep, Brain. You’re supposed to sleep. Please… stop thinking.”

            “Why were you dreaming of Spanish talking Japanese people anyway?”

            “If you don’t know, how should I know?”

            “You’re strange… that’s all I have to say.”


            This battle of random questions and arguments went on until Brain decided the noises aren’t going anywhere and half Hispanic, half Oriental people seem much more entertaining. I felt my body relaxing, the sweet threshold between reality and dreaming, so close and tangible. And then…

            A persistent knock on the door.

            “What do you want?!”

            It was my little brother telling me he needs me to take him to some school event but only bothered remembering twenty minutes ago. Of course, no one else is in the house so I am the only one with a legal driver’s license that can fulfill this task. Curse being an adult!

            Halfway through driving my little brother to his destination, I decided I can either be cranky all day because things weren’t going my way or I could seize the day and take advantage of the fact that I was up early. That seemed like the reasonable and adult oriented alternative. I spent the morning driving around town doing all the errands I was going to leave for Monday, a sense of pride bubbling around my midriff, reminding me that I could easily be a multi tasked person if I so desired. It felt nice.

            When my brother had finished, I felt really hungry and I was sure my big brother at home felt the same way. Normally I’d cook something for myself and they’d apply the only cooking technique they’re aware of… microwaving. But then Brain decided to be helpful, or unhelpful, however you want to look at it.

            Brain: Hah! There’s no electricity at your house!

            Me: But maybe the power came back. It doesn’t take too long for it to come back.

            Brain: So… you want to take the chance of coming home without any take-out and see if the power’s back on so you can cook? See?  You’re strange.

            Me: Touché, Brain.

            So I thought what the hell? Let’s get a pizza. Let’s get two pizzas! Little Brother was stoked and I’m sure Big Brother’s eyes would’ve beamed with excitement as well. As Brain predicted, the power hadn’t come back when we arrived. Everything was dead silent apart from chirping birds and faint sounds produced by the neighbors. It was even quieter while the boys munched on thick slices of cheesy gooey pizza. I was tempted but decided not to.

Remember how I have relationship problems with my weight scales and can’t bear to face their anger? I didn’t want to add any more tension to the situation between us so I decided to make myself a turkey sandwich with whole wheat bread. I wanted to continue the pride-bubbling sensation throughout the whole day. As they gobbled pizza, I was so proud at myself for being so strong and not even having a nibble. You have no power over me pizza! So stop trying to look all delicious and soaking in pepperoni fat there!

To perpetuate my new belief of seizing the day, I thought “It’s a beautiful day outside! Sun is shining and the weather is nice… why don’t I have my sandwich with a tall glass of lemonade outside in the hammock?”

See, there’s this perfect isolated spot in my backyard where a mango tree is located. It’s probably my favorite spot in the house and I often imagine myself there sitting in a rustic chair with a glass of wine, reading a great book. So I had the brilliant idea of getting hammock – or begging Mom to get one- to make the mango tree my own personal space to relax whenever I so desired. I’ve barely used it because I spent most of the day locked up inside or sleeping. Now it was the perfect time.

It was probably the best idea I’d ever had. In the beautiful surroundings and perfect shade created by the mango tree, the sandwich seemed to taste even better. The combination of dense bread, succulent turkey and fresh tomato was practically to die for. Why hadn’t I done this before? Why wasn’t I doing this every day? It was almost the perfect life- no distractions that would numb me from enjoying the little things of life, peaceful silence that allowed me to hear my true thoughts and not what TV or Internet had programmed me into thinking.

It seemed Brain and I were finally in harmony, becoming one in our points of view. It was then that I began pondering what I wanted out of life. Not the grand steps of a career or marriage, but the little great joys that I wanted to accomplish every day. I could play piano more, practice every day an hour or two. I would feel so accomplished when I could play Fur Elise flawlessly or Back in the USSR (don’t be fooled, it’s fast paced and complicated.)

I could be inspired by nature and my new Zen state and write every day, become disciplined and organized. With such positive attitude, I would undoubtedly become the next best blogger and everyone would be pleading me for a new entry every day. And I would deliver, because I would be organized and disciplined.

But I knew what I wanted most of all. I wanted to learn how to play the guitar! For some reason, I had made up my mind from a very young age that guitar was the most difficult, most mind boggling instrument that had ever existed. What was the deal with having six strings that played a random selection of keys that followed no particular logical pattern and when pressed in different frets it would emit the sounds of other random positioned keys? It was like the Sphinx had invented it as another method of a riddle that humans would clearly fail at and therefore, give him an excuse to kill them. My aggravation would be worsened by seeing people playing it with such ease and the fact that Big Brother learned how to play like a rock star without ever taking so much as a lesson.

It was beyond embarrassing that everyone seemed to possess the skill to learn how play guitar (not to mention play and sing) and I couldn’t even remember where G-sharp was. Maybe it’s because I have been conditioned my entire life from playing piano that the keys should be fully displayed in front of you in a gradual order from low to high sounds. Now what, I need to find them somehow while pressing my tender fingertips into the tough, callus producing strings, and keep a rhythm and look cool at the same time? That is too much work!

But now I was disciplined and by God, I would learn to play guitar in the next few hours even if it meant having blisters on my fingers! I had a Guitar 101 book to show me the way. How hard could it be? If all else failed, I would ask Big Brother to aid me. It would probably be like having a guitar lesson from Hitler, but that was my last resort.

I went in search of my dusty guitar pamphlet and borrowed Big Brother’s acoustic guitar. I figured since the hammock location seemed to inspire me, it would be best to learn there. So I sat down, with guitar in hand and pamphlet carefully propped up. It was challenging straight away when I realized my miniature hands could barely grip the neck of the guitar properly. It was even more difficult when I had to position my fingers in ways that were not only uncomfortable but painful. Why would anyone do this to their hands? Maybe I was under the notion I had normal hands but they were actually below average size and everyone else had perfectly long fingers that could find their way through the frets.

            So what?! John Lennon never gave up and I sure as hell wasn’t going to either. Maybe I would learn to play magnificently and would gain great fame and respect for learning guitar while having such short hands. Maybe I’d be like Beethoven who never gave up even though he couldn’t even hear what he composed (seriously, I don’t think anyone would’ve condemned him for quitting after losing his hearing, but he doesn’t strike me as the guy who gave a damn what people thought and I was going to follow that example.)

 I was driven by images of me playing like Jimi (there’s no need for a last name, you better know who he is!) and singing Purple Haze with a sultry voice while waving my wild locks back and forward. God, I felt cool! If it hadn’t been for day dreaming about Jimi, I probably wouldn’t have gotten through those first three chords. I repeated them constantly. I didn’t want to move on to the next until I mastered them; until I could create an award winning song with just those three chords. I struggled but that only made me keep going, making sure my struggle would mean something one day. I strummed each one slowly, repositioning my fingers when it sounded like a cat was being strangled.

            After an hour, I was so proud of my mediocre achievements that I had to show Big Brother how capable I was and subtly let him know he better watch his ass, because soon I was going to be so skilled I’d have to challenge him to a guitar battle, however that works or if it even exists. I was Eric Clapton, Zakk Wylde, Carlos freaking Santana rolled into one or at least a very spitting image of their raw potential when they were starting out.

            As I made my way inside the house and spotted Big Brother sitting on the sofa, Brain immediately realized something was wrong.

            Brain: Why is it so bright in here?

            Me: You’re right.

            Brain: It feels breezy in here even though the windows are closed.

            Me: We should totally be the next Sherlock.

            Brain: We? Pfft. But seriously what the hell is going on?

            I must’ve looked like a complete idiot, standing there in the living room gazing at my surroundings like I had never seen them before. Big Brother would’ve been worried if he hadn’t ever seen my odd behavior before towards everything. But even so, he demonstrated his own version of concern.

            “What the hell is wrong with you?” I know. He’s a sweetheart.

            “Why are the lights on?”

            “Oh, the power came back,” he said while flipping through TV channels.

            “The power came back?”


            “We have power?”

            “Yeeees,” he replied exasperatedly.

            My grip on the guitar slowly loosened. “How long has it been on?”

            He shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know… about an hour.”

            Whaaaat?! So for the past hour of torture and false hopes of ever becoming the next guitar legend, my house was running perfectly in order with high quality electricity?! I wanted to feel angry and betrayed and blamed Big Brother for letting me sit out there for an hour without warning me that I could stop being all high and mighty about my little dreams and get on with it.
            But instead, all I could say was: “Wanna play Rockband?”
            And that’s how I opted for practicing my recent knowledge of guitar and applying it to a much simpler method of playing while still looking cool, I could only hope.