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Rated: ASR · Short Story · Other · #1854188
Phoenix sets goals for his guitar playing...
Phoenix had always liked the tune.  It was difficult beyond measure, but he knew he could learn to play it, just like he knew he could learn to play anything he set his mind to.  "Duelin' Banjos" was a long way off, but he ordered the music online despite that.  Just to have it.  Other songs that he wanted to learn to play included "Pachelbel's Cannon in D", "St. Louis Blues", "Peter Gunn", "The Pink Panther", "Pipeline", and a host of bluegrass tunes.  Phoenix would be happy learning anything that people could recognize at this point.  His spouse had recognized a song he was playing the other day and Phoenix was ecstatic.  His playing could be recognized as music!  That was a major accomplishment for him.  He was not doing too bad on "Black Velvet" and "Clocks", but he was having trouble with the transitions.  That was frustrating to Phoenix.  He wanted to be able to play and play well.  He was finding, though, that his fingers were rather short and small for some of the chords and notes that followed each other.  There were a few alternate fingerings he had come up with to compensate for this physical challenge, but he was not happy about not being able to do it the traditional way.  What was traditional, though, had no doubt been adapted before, as he was not the only small person ever to learn to play the guitar by any stretch of the imagination.  Phoenix wondered how stubby-fingered people did it.  Their fingers were too wide, as opposed to too narrow.  Phoenix thought to himself that his fingers were not too "anything" to prevent him from playing the guitar.  He would just have to adjust.  It had been a long time since Phoenix had read music as well, and he was not used to guitar music, chords, or tablature.  That was okay, though.  The point of learning to play the guitar was not to be an expert overnight, but to jump start Phoenix's creative life again.  After all the depression and loneliness and stasis, he had to move on something.  This was it - the guitar.  It was a worthwhile endeavor and he would not give up.  He was almost to that two-week mark that his friend had said he would quit at.  Phoenix had no intention of quitting.  Ever.  He was enjoying the guitar too much and had too many songs and riffs he wanted to learn to play.  It would be a lifelong project.

The next day, he took his guitar out to his parents' house to show it to them.  His parents were impressed with his guitar.  His dad asked to see it.  Even though his dad had rheumatoid arthritis, he could still play, and showed Phoenix a few base parts and blues progressions.  Phoenix picked these up relatively quickly.  It was fun passing the guitar back and forth between his dad and him, seeing who could play what.  His parents were very helpful in providing music for Phoenix to play.  His dad had some old guitar magazines with classic songs in them, written in tablature.  "Don't lose 'em."  His dad went to take a nap while Phoenix continued to play.  His mom went through all the music they had gotten at sales looking for "Dueling Banjos" for him.  They always bought all the music they could at yard sales.  They had piano music, guitar music, banjo music, harmonica music...you name it and they could produce some music for the instrument you needed it for.  Phoenix found out that his mom, though she could read music and loved to play the piano and accordian, was tone-deaf, and that his dad, though he could not read music and played only by ear, could play the piano, the banjo, and the guitar.  Phoenix was a prodigy - he had the best of both worlds.  He could read music, play by ear, and loved to play anything he could get his hands on.  Everyone had always thought that Phoenix would be a professional musician and make a career of it.  Phoenix defied everyone.  He went into the Service as a military police officer and heavy weapons gunner instead, and had come out with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after being in the war in Kuwait.  At the time, Phoenix felt boxed-in by expectations, and he sought out the military as a way to be his own man.  Instead, he ended up mentally disabled.  That was no easy label to carry around.  Not only was the label difficult, but the condition itself was hell.  Phoenix had PTSD and Depression both, and had had four ECT series' previously, and was currently on his fifth series.  This series was different, though.  The treatments were being done once a month, and they were helping with the suicidal ideation.  This was amazing in itself.  His doctor noted that he seemed happier and calmer, as well.  Phoenix asked him how long they were going to continue the treatments, and he replied that they would continue them until Phoenix felt he did not need them any longer with a year's worth in mind.
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