Monday, January 24, 2011

My Pavlovian Response to Chopin

At Christmas 1993 my dad bought me my first CD player (with two tape decks, too).  That was a weird year for me.  I was a senior in high school.  My mom had left in the Spring and my dad was dating my now-stepmom.  I was working at the Borders Books (before they had music and movies) at the cafe, learning about the difference between a cappuccino and a latte.  I became quite the foam-artist at the same time.  It was before starbucks was ubiquitous, and people would sometimes audibly gasp when I told them that their total for a cappuccino and a biscoti was $4.  On Saturday nights I would often work the closing shift, during which time, myself and my colleagues would make a vanilla latte to fuel the close-up ritual of stacking chairs, running the dishwasher, and mopping floors (I much preferred the opening ritual of grinding coffee).

When I wasn't working, I was doing nearly every extracurricular activity in the book, and I'd study late at night, up in my attic, surrounded by my books, my stuffed animals, and my dog (who was getting pretty sick by this point, but could manage the climb to the attic every once in a while).

So that Christmas I got a CD player.  But I didn't have any CD's.  So one day after work I went to Coconuts and bought lots of music - I got mostly classical stuff, and mostly the Naxos label because it was cheaper and I could get more (little did I know that 11 years later I would be working for them, running their digital side for libraries).  The one that I really loved was Chopin - a greatest hits compilation - because it was great for studying.  It wasn't as distracting as, say, Beethoven.  It was still emotional and moving, but it didn't totally capture me the way Beethoven does.  Perfect for studying the French Revolution.

I spent a lot of time studying with my Chopin disc, curled up on my bean bag pillow.  And to this day, whenever I need to really focus on something, I choose Chopin to make sure my mind stays on track.  Today is a Chopin day because I had such a crummy weekend.

And hubby is installing the hot water heater as I type, so I won't need to be Amish much longer.  Good thing, too - my shoulder was getting seriously sore from lugging all those pots of water to fill up the bathtub.  Yay for Do-It-Yourself husbands!

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