It’s been an interesting few days.
Firstly, the stuff I’ve been transcribing this week is all on the theme of betrayal rather than murder, leading to some intriguing stories and convoluted family ties. This is a pretty minor point in the grand scheme of my life, and I probably shouldn’t talk about it too much on public platforms like this, but it’s certainly made work more interesting this week.
Secondly, I’ve finally figured out how to approach mixing what may be the last track for my debut album (polling my friends and family sugests that I should aim for around 10-12 songs). At first I thought I was struggling with the mixing process because my performance had been recorded by someone who was not me, but now I think it may be because the song is possibly a power ballad.
I didn’t realise that I wrote power ballads. I sure as hell have never tried to mix one before, because I associate power ballads mixes with intense naffness. I tend to go for a folky indie type vibe or weird ambient trance/atmospheric sound, but I guess my compositions do sometimes verge into pop. It’s never felt quite this blatant before, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I have at least 2 naff tracks in my album now – might as well own it!
This sort of, but not quite, brings me onto the biggest event of this week: my favourite cousin is here to visit!
My favourite cousin is currently primary school age and wants to be a marine biologist when she grows up. She loves dolls, gaming, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Star Wars, Scott Pilgrim comics (the ones that her parents will let her read at her current age), The Good Place, and She-Ra, just to list a few things.
I know fuck all about gaming and dolls, but our interests are similar enough and she’s bubbly enough about them for it to not be an issue. If I don’t understand something, I ask her to explain it to me or I get my brother to handle it (he is a gamer). I mean, yesterday all I had to do was give her my whiteboard, a few pens, and a listening ear, and she happily gave me a full lecture on toy company lawsuits, complete with diagrams. I was in fucking awe.
Anyway, she’s also musical. I don’t think it runs as deeply in her as it does in her mum yet (though it’s hard to tell at this age), but the kid does play violin. The violin came with her this weekend.
Now, it’s important to know at this point that my parents appreciate the favourite cousin’s presence, but don’t really know what she likes. This is presumably because my brother and I are the ones who play with the cousin whenever she comes to visit.
This time however, my favourite cousin has come to visit us at the last minute on her own, because her parents had to do a thing and she didn’t want to go with them (I bet my favourite cousin’s mum used to ask her sister to watch the kid in these types of situations, but that sister has been dead for a while now so she’s no longer an option). Ergo, my favourite cousin is visiting us without her parents for the first time, and my brother isn’t here to help me split the occupying-small-child load, because he’s at Uni.
So, picture this: I am in the house with my favourite cousin and her violin. My parents are out doing their Saturday morning shop. I am normally not conscious at this time on a Saturday, but I have spent the last week or so obsessively mixing/recording stuff and have now been left alone with a musical child. Only one logical thing can happen here.
I recorded my favourite cousin playing one of her violin pieces. We did a few practise takes and picked out a generic drum track of her choice and tempo for her to play against. I then exported the full performance as an MP3 file and sent it to her mum. What I didn’t expect was:
- the mum to send me her kid’s phone number, enabling me to send the track directly to my favourite cousin,
- the mum to send the MP3 to my favourite cousin’s music teacher, then asking me to pass on his compliments on the performance,
- my favourite cousin to share the MP3 on the group WhatsApp chat she has with her friends.
I’m still feeling the dopamine high from that sequence of events.
My favourite cousin is only visiting for an evening and a day, but I feel strangely proud that I’ve been able to handle keeping her occupied almost completely on my own (even if, admittedly, this child is ridiculously easygoing and straightforward to get on with). Dad is the technical help and ferret wrangler, mum produces meals that my favourite cousin will like, and 20 Questions was our group activity of this evening, but the rest of it was all me. In my experience, children tend to be drawn to young adults of the same gender, so you have to be really careful about what behaviours you try and model for them. I think I’m doing okay.
Today we found out that my favourite cousin felt guilty about watching an anime called Helluva Boss that she knew her parents would think is too adult for her. She told us that she’d been lured in by the artwork of the animation style, but the guilt was haunting her come dinnertime. She felt bad about it but was afraid of what would happen if she confessed. She thought that her mum might be disappointed or mad or ban her from YouTube if she came clean, so she asked us for advice.
I let my parents deal with the answer to that one since they are parents and I had no idea how to respond. After some musing, they came to the conclusion that my favourite cousin should tell her mum what happened but emphasise how sorry she feels and that she’s learned her lesson.
Unfortunately, as the evening progressed it soon became apparent that my parent’s answer wasn’t enough to alleviate my favourite cousin’s worry. After going through tears, tissues, cuddles, soothing platitudes (“there there. We all make mistakes. It’ll be over soon and it’ll be okay because x”), and trying to distract/relax her with TV, I eventually realised that the best way to deal with the problem was to put her in touch with her mum, thus allowing the cousin to confess and get rid of the icky stress nausea feeling.
It was only when my cousin mentioned the stress nausea that I realised “Okay. We need to deal with this now” (I’ve had my fair share of stress nausea and it only goes away once you’ve directly dealt with the problem that’s causing it). I suggested calling her mum, but my cousin was worried that her mum would be driving. I said I could message the mum to check, so I ended up drafting a quick WhatsApp message and running it past the cousin to get her approval on the final version. I sent off that message, got a call from the mum about a minute later, handed the phone over, and witnessed the near-instant stress release for my cousin firsthand. The mum wasn’t mad or disappointed and there was certainly no mention of a YouTube ban! She was glad that her daughter was being honest, because she wanted her to feel like she could talk to her parents about things, and also wanted her to have a good time while she was here. They hung up after a sickening amount of “I love you”s. It was genuinely adorable to listen to.
In retrospect, I’m a little annoyed that it took me so long to figure out the solution to my favourite cousin’s obvious upset, but the point is that I did eventually figure it out. She literally said that she felt much better after the call, and the evening moved on swimmingly from there. I guess none of us really knew how the mum would respond to her kid’s confession (or how heavily the guilt would weigh on said kid), which is why it took so long to come up with a solution that actually worked.
God. I’m only a cousin to this child. I can’t imagine how exhausting it is to actually be a parent.
Anyway, having my favourite cousin around has been tiring, but also fun, and weirdly affirming. Like, I’m pretty sure that I can do this social interaction right, which means a lot when you get as unnecessarily insecure about socialising as I do.