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Rated: ASR · Short Story · Other · #1852203
Phoenix practices his guitar after scoring an assessment for most of the day...
Phoenix was up at 0530, and had been up since around 0230, as always.  He laid in bed, debating whether or not to play his guitar that morning before going over to the psychology office at the college to score the MMPI-2.  He decided that it was warmer under the covers than it was out in the living room, so he stayed in bed an extra hour.  He put himself together in a decent enough manner to be presentable, but did not go the extra mile and shower.  Again, it was cold in the basement apartment, and he did not need to be any colder.  He left around 0740 for the college.  Another graduate student was also coming to score that morning while a third was going to be administering the test.  The assessment professor was talking with the secretary when Phoenix walked into the psychology office.  He informed them that he had just gotten a guitar the previous day and that he was excited about playing it.  He was comfortable enough to let them know he would rather be playing his guitar than scoring the MMPI-2 that morning.  The professor laughed and said, "Positive reinforcement."  Phoenix let the professor know that there would be an assessment being given to one of her undergraduate students in the office so that she could make herself scarce, as she did not want to know who it was for the sake of confidentiality.  Phoenix gathered the scoring templates and interpretation books from the kit in the testing room to take to the conference room so they could score their assessments.  Scoring took several hours.  It was not particularly difficult.  It just took a lot of time.  Soon, Phoenix and the other two graduate students - friends - were in the conference room together talking about the statistics midterm.  Phoenix described the need for a system or approach to organize the procedures when under time pressure so that they could actually deal with the information instead of being overwhelmed about where to begin and wasting time with that piece of the process.  They discussed that for a short time before deciding that it was time to part ways for the day.

Phoenix texted his other friend and asked if she wanted to go to lunch.  She thought that was a great idea and told him to come on over.  She drove and they went to Perkins.  Phoenix had the steak and eggs, which he absolutely loved, and ice tea.  The coffee shop was their next stop, where his friend cross-stitched and Phoenix continued to work on plotting the MMPI-2 profile that he had been working on all morning.  They sat there, enjoying their coffee and each others' company, and then discovered through a discussion about their family histories that they might possibly be cousins through their Cherokee bloodlines in Arkansas.  Phoenix's spouse called to let him know that work was taking longer than expected, but it would not be much longer.  Phoenix and his friend packed up their projects and headed out.  It would not be long now...before Phoenix could play his guitar.  He drove home and prepared himself by taking a short nap.  His spouse and him went for a drive before dark and then settled in at home for the evening.  Phoenix's spouse showered.  Phoenix  prepared to play his guitar.

Phoenix checked his office and his extra nylon guitar strings had come in the mail.  His spouse had put them in his chair.  There was also a package of medicine in his chair, which he put away before opening his package of strings.  He had ordered three sets.  Phoenix promptly put the strings in his gig bag pouch.  Now where was that music stand?  He dug it out from underneath his keyboard.  It had not been used for quite some time, and was covered in thick dust and spider webs.  Phoenix wiped it off on a towel in the bathroom and set it up, adjusting knobs and sections until it was just right.  The corner would be perfect for playing his guitar in.  The phone was right behind him so that he would not have to get up to reach it if it rang, and the chair that sat next to the desk with the phone on it was the perfect height.  Phoenix washed his hands in the kitchen, then unzipped the gig bag to reveal his guitar.  It was still fantastic.  It was also out of tune.  He tuned it with his electronic tuner until it was right again, then set up his guitar book.  It was a book published in 1979, but it was the best book he had found.  It told everything about the guitar and how to play it, how to string it, how to use a capo, how to read music, how to sit...  Everything that there was to know about the guitar was in that old book and Phoenix was glad.  He turned to the page that had the first few chords on it and played "Ode to Joy" through a few times to remind himself where all of the notes he had learned the previous night were.  He found that he could play it much smoother, much faster, and much easier than he had the previous night.  That was a good sign to Phoenix.  Carefully positioning his fingers, he played a C chord.  The next chord was a G7 chord.  Phoenix found these to be a bit more difficult.  His spouse asked if he could play "Greensleeves".  Not yet, he thought, but soon.  Very soon.  Phoenix learned to play "Bobby Shaftoe", "Skip To My Lou", and "Go And Tell Aunt Rhody", which ended with two simple chords.  He then turned several pages to the place in the book where it showed all of the notes in the scale from the sixth string to the first.  A Yiddish folk song called "Tum Balalaika" was on the same page.  At first, Phoenix was very slow at this tune, but he quickly learned where the fingerings were for the notes that he had not yet encountered and found himself able to play it through without missing a note at a moderate tempo in a relatively short time.  Phoenix then discovered the Am, Dm, and E7 chords.  These were beautiful to him.  He played them over and over until he could at least remember how to finger each one and strummed them out confidently.  His spouse was impressed with his progress that evening.  By that time, Phoenix's fingers were feeling a bit sore. 

Phoenix decided to take a break.  He called his mother to tell her about his guitar.  "Oh.  A guitar," she said, sounding unsure of what to say about it.  "Where did you get that?"  Off the internet.  "Oh.  Twelve string?"  No, just six.  "You know you have a 12-string out here."  Phoenix had bought it when he was stationed in Germany, but had never played it.  He told his mother that his new guitar was a 3/4 and that it was perfect.  "Oh.  You can reach around the neck and everything?"  She sounded surprised.  Phoenix replied and told her all about it - the neck, the strings, how the strings were tied, that they were nylon, that it was a classical guitar, and everything in between.  He talked to his mother for a half an hour, which had to be a record of some sort.  Phoenix sensed that his mother was ready to get off the phone and said his goodbyes.  Once he hung up the phone, Phoenix decided that he should put his guitar away in its bag for the night because his fingers were still sore.  It had been a good practice session.  He was learning quickly and was pleased with his guitar.  Another good night had resulted from playing it.  Phoenix was thankful for that.  It was only the second day.
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