Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Ima Very Important Mother Fluter

This week is Jules' VIP week at school. It means we made a poster about him with pictures and his favorite things and colors and he had to talk about himself in front of everyone. He said he was shy. It also means a family member can come in a talk to the whole class about themselves, too. I vaguely remember doing this for Matthew and Diana, my nephew and niece, when they were in kindergarten but dude, that was a million years ago. And Patrick might've gone once. Anyway, I'm going tomorrow and I decided to take my flute and piccolo and play for them. I've known about this for ages and had plenty of time to prepare but what can I say? Last minute almost always works out so I never learn my lesson. Maybe I'll talk about loving music and practicing. I'm pretty sure that's something I can talk about with authority. I'm taking a CD with the backing band  from this jazz book I've been working on with Lynda, and am hoping I have it down well enough to play it in front of them. I practiced it for about 45 minutes with and without the band and it sounded good enough for kindergarten. By tomorrow it will be awesome. Because that's what happens when you practice.

(Most of the time.)

We also picked up some super cheap but still nicely made recorders, flute pencils, and little erasers shaped like eighth notes. Patrick, for some reason, did not initially want me to put the pencils in the plastic carrying case the recorders come with, so I went to Walgreens to find some rubber bands. While I was walking around, I ran across this body lotion by that brand "Hempz." This is the same brand they used at the spa I visited in San Diego and I really liked it but haven't been able to find in an actual store. While I was idly walking around in Walgreens (I love browsing Walgreens), this man came in and said loudly to the girl stocking in the makeup aisle, "DO YOU HAVE ANY PUMICE STONES?" Except he pronounced it "pomice." The girl, understandably, didn't understand him, so he said, "Maybe your assistant over there [there was another employee nearby] knows." So they go over and the other girl shows him and he asks a million questions about pumice stones, which is weird, because they may have had a couple different brands or sizes but seriously, a pumice stone only does one thing. It might be one of the earliest self-care inventions. You know? The caveman invented fire and realized that because he could now see his feet, he'd better figure out a way to get those babies soft again.

(After he walked away, the other girl said to the first, "Do I seriously look like somebody's assistant??" Her incredulity was a tiny bit misplaced, because, well, yeah, kinda, but I understood her point, having worked in retail myself.)

So I walked by the first girl and we rolled our eyes about this crazy guy, doing price comparisons and consumer reports analysis on pumice stones, and I was about to ask her if they carry the Hempz brand  shower lotion, and oh yeah, what about that Biosilk stuff I use in my hair, and then I realized, there are two people shopping here and one of them is paying for a pumice stone with nickles and dimes and the other one is buying expensive body lotion and rubber bands. I mean, these girls won the jackpot with weird customers tonight. So I paid for my stuff and left.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Why, yes, I do have an opinion on things! Thanks for asking! - Updated

I got an email from Metro, inviting me to take a survey about their proposed budget and (I guess) offering me an opportunity to voice my opinions about their services and what changes I would like to see.

Needless to say, this could not have been a more perfect opportunity. Maybe if they'd asked my opinion on sidewalks, parking lots, and mall design? I mean, seriously. WHY DID I NOT STUDY CIVIL ENGINEERING? Oh, yeah: math. Anyway, I did not waste this chance.

(There's irony in that paragraph. And maybe a little regret.)

One of the questions was this:

"How should we improve our highways and manage congestion?"

Then they included the following paragraphs, which, frankly, made me laugh out loud:

"Metro's Highway Improvements and Congestion Management programs are designed to tackle the ever present issue of traffic congestion in the region, whether by assisting broken down vehicles, clearing traffic accidents, promoting ridesharing or providing toll-based alternatives to waiting in traffic.

The average commute time for LA drivers is around 30 minutes and the average one-way trip is 20 miles. Would you support converting more regular lanes to toll/carpool lanes to reduce commute time or increase highway speed?"

My answer included the following:

"If I could make my 20 mile commute in 30 minutes I would not be here making comments. That would be a miracle. You're totally dreaming."

I mean, what the hell? I leave home between 5:45 and 6:15 every day. My commute is 19 miles. If I leave earlier or later, it makes no difference: those 19 miles take 45 minutes to an hour (more frequently, an hour) and sometimes an hour and ten minutes. The same goes for going home, at 4:30. The only way anyone could do a 20 mile commute in 30 minutes during the average times people actually have to be at work would be if they were flying. Hovercraft, actual airplane, wing appendages: whatever, there's just no way for a normal person to make that commute.

One thing I didn't tell them was that I thought that their freeway assistance program was pretty great. I used it a few times in my old Toyota (once I had a flat on the 405 going south to a meeting at a Barnes and Noble in Brea or somewhere like that), and the guy was there in under 10 minutes. I think this even hapened in the days before I had a cell phone, because I remember using the call box. And I've seen them on the side of the road, helping other people. I didn't mention it because my personal experience is from like 20 years ago.


I got old all of a sudden. In a post about Metro, I got fucking old.

Anyway, it's nice that I had a chance to tell them what I think. And hey, I think taking away regular lanes to create more carpool or toll lanes is a terrible idea. They need to come up with something more creative than that. And no, though they didn't ask, I don't think self-driving cars is a good solution either.


I completely forgot that after we took Jules to Walt Disney Hall for one of their "Toyota Symphony for Youth" events, they also (made the mistake of) asked for my opinion on that experience.

Needless to say, I had nothing but praise for the musical portion of the event. They staged a little performance piece with a pianist and the piano technician (possibly an actor, or just a very gregarious tech?), and Piano No. 605, and the orchestra. It was cute, an hour, and Jules loved it. However, they had some pre-show activities that I was a bit disappointed in. Here's what I had to say:

"My family and I attended the most recent Toyota Symphony for Youth (Art of the Piano) and while my six-year old enjoyed the actual performance very much (we were sitting in the Orchestra View section, right behind the trumpets and timpani player), I was a little disappointed in the pre-concert activities. I really expected more: perhaps a blown-apart piano to inspect, or hands on with the guts of an instrument. I was disappointed in the amount of instruments offered in the "petting zoo" - I understand that for health reasons you couldn't offer up woodwinds for trying out, but demonstrations or performers would have added so much more than the few drums/percussion instruments and the violins (no bass?? I heard a woman in line behind me hoping there would be a double bass to try, and I'm sure she was disappointed, too). The drum demonstration was a lot of fun, though, and we really did enjoy ourselves (all the volunteers were very sweet and made it a very fun day). I just think there were more opportunities to make that a truly immersive experience for everyone."

Yeah, man, I said "immersive."

Spewing my opinion, one email and blog post at a time, that's me. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Solo concert night #theveils

Last night I went to the Roxy alone to see a band called The Veils. I can't remember how or where I learned about them but their song "Sit Down by the Fire" is beautiful. I might have found them on Pandora, I really don't remember. I've asked around, and none of my friends know who they are. The lead singer, Finn Andrews, is the son of the keyboard player for the band XTC, but I don't really know much about either of them (aside from the bio that's on their website).

They released a new album recently and announced a tour. Last night's show in West Hollywood is the only one near here on the whole tour. Patrick was going to go with me but it's not really his music, and it was a school night for Jules, so after much back and forth, and failed attempts to wrangle a friend or two to join me (it's my own fault: I was a little lackadaisical in my approach to this because I was conflicted about going at all), and with his encouragement, I went alone.

Walking up to the venue, I was pretty anxious. I had my ticket already but there were people lined up in front (I don't know why) and a couple of dudes who looked like bouncer-types. I walked to the corner and texted Patrick ("Do I just go in or do I have to wait in this line?") like a dork. I hate walking into bars or places alone. I think I've mentioned this before. If there's a friend waiting for me, even that part makes me anxious. What if I don't find them? What if they see me wandering around, looking anxious? But this time nobody was looking at me and nobody was waiting for me, so I walked up to the door and gave some guy with long hair straight out of a John Hughes movie my ticket. Another guy slapped a blue wristband on me, and then the first guy scanned me with a wand. For weapons. "Really?" I asked (implied: me?), and "Really," he answered.

I felt awkward and weird, waiting for the band to start. Following my brother-in-law Joe Rezendes' tip, I pretended I was waiting for a friend for most of the time I was standing there (I did not take his advice and remove my wedding ring to see if anyone would buy me a drink. Ring or not, nobody bought me a drink, which is fine, because I threw up at home right before leaving and a drink would probably have been a bad idea). I fiddled with my phone and checked my email, but the only emails I had were from Jules' school, regarding drama club registration. It seemed too obvious and lame to be on Facebook, though I did post a couple "I feel like a dumbass" type updates. It was too dim to indulge in people watching, but the girls in front of me (dressed like Lorelei Gilmore probably dressed to see The Bangles before she got pregnant) were pretty entertaining (and good dancers).

The band went on more or less on time, and from the second they started, I loved every minute of it. It was loud, the Roxy is very intimate (I was about 20 feet, less by the end of the night, from the stage), and almost perfect (they didn't do my two favorite songs, "Sit Down by the Fire" or "Another Night on Earth"). For most of the night I had a good view of the drummer, which you know is always very important to me, but the singer has that lead singer animal magnetism, and like every other woman, I felt his eyes on me a few times. I have to admit, I wondered, as I wandered out when the show was over, if I would feel a tap on my shoulder and an invitation to go backstage... but nothing like that happened, and I collected my car from the valet at the Rainbow Room next door (have I been there? I have a distinct feeling that I've been there but the exact memory escapes me. Perhaps that's a good thing). 

I didn't take any photos, not even when the band was playing, because the people doing that were annoying the woman standing behind me. I also didn't really want to take my eyes off the reality in front of me to look at it through a screen, even for a second. 

I haven't been to a lot of concerts, but this one made me wish I did. 

I think they're going to be in San Francisco this weekend, and I wish there was a way we could go. 

Monday, October 17, 2016

Attending a conference

I'm attending a conference for work in San Diego this week. It's for ADA coordinators, which I am just beginning to learn about (ADA, I mean. I'm on a 15 minute break in my room, this will be a rushed note).

I've noted this before at other meetings: the connection between ADA and Civil Rights, and I'm finding that to be of interest to me. I need to do some reading later tonight.

I also realized that I never completed the update I was writing on my flute choir blog about the flute convention I attended the last time I was in San Diego, so it seems I have some reading and writing to do.

I don't have much to say yet about the conference itself. It just began about 2 hours ago, and we listened to a woman read some updates from the Department of Justice. Interesting things but, she read them. I need to do some additional research in a way that will interest me.

Stay tuned, unless I flake out like I did on the flute choir stuff.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Dance like no one's watching (and thank God no one was)

Last night while cooking dinner, "Blitzkrieg Bop" came on the radio.

That music was an undeniable invitation to dance, so I did.

Unfortunately, all day my neck has been hurting me, and there's no other reasonable explanation, except for my oddly enjoyable and probably incredibly awkward moves.

The funny thing is, I don't even like the Ramones.

Who do I sue?

Monday, May 16, 2016

I've had Lenny Kravitz' song "Let Love Rule" in my head for a couple of days, and I have thoughts.

The first thing I should tell you, though, is - I had a moderately high (it was 101.3 at the highest; I have no idea if this is moderate or not, I just didn't want to sound like a drama queen) temperature over the weekend. Coupled with a headache that felt like someone was actually piercing my skull with an ice pick (sorry, that cliche just works), I self-diagnosed myself as having an acute sinus infection. On Friday and Saturday I tried extra strength Tylenol. By Sunday, I had switched to Advil. Now, I don't know if that switch was magic or if my brain just got tired of trying to kill me, but by 5 p.m., I was starting to feel like myself again.

Except for this song. In my head.

I'm not a Lenny fan, so, if someone out there reading this is, you should know that before you keep reading.

(Who's reading this, though. Seriously.)

I know Lenny gets a lot of press, and coverage on fashion blogs, and people are interested in him because of his relationship with that girl from the Cosby Show (or are people interested in her because of relationship with him? Also, isn't she older than I am? So where do I get off calling her "that girl"? Man, if I could remember her name, I would totally apologize). Or maybe they're interested in him because he looks good in leather pants? I really don't know. The thing is, I haven't heard enough actual music from him to form an opinion on his music except for what I know from this one song.

This one, idiotic, not even fun for a non-singer to sing, song.

You know I'm a car singer, right? I'm not terrible. But I'm not good, either. And I'll admit that first line of the song is tempting. It sounds good, doesn't it?

"Love... is gentle as a rose..."

And then you sort of forget all the in-between mediocre stuff until he gets to the peak of the song... two lines later. And that is it. That song is OVER. Except it isn't. He tells you, at least 20 more times, that, "We got to let love rule!"

The funny thing is, he's won a ton of Grammys and I could not name one other song or work by him, at all. Not one. Now, it's totally possible that he's accomplished a lot of stuff, helped a lot of people, spread the word about letting love rule so strenuously and competently that we are indeed, letting love rule...

Oh, wait. We're not doing that.

Monday, April 11, 2016

#robotvoice #subdivisions Hello, April!

The month of March was kind of a shitty one. Without delving into the gory details, I'll just say:

It's done, and now I don't have to do it again, and hello, April, why, you're so pretty, aren't you, April!

It's taken me like, 11 days in to get to this point, and it's possible I'll take a u-turn again and get all squiggly, but right now, here I am, sort of, and I'm glad to be here.

I'm going to try to stay. And if I don't, I'll start all over again, and it will get easier, because nothing truly life threatening occurred, and it's just my ability to deal that has been tested, and even though, as you keep reading, you'll think that I feel like a 100 year old ancient person, in truth, I am still a kid, still have a lot to learn, and have a heart the size of a Greyhound bus. I can say that because I've seen at least one other heart that big, and I know what I'm talking about.

I met up the other day with my old friend Bo (20 years ago I would've said, "emphasis on old" but 20 years is a long time for us both) about some changes I've endured (encountered? Endured), and his response to our conversation, which pretty much just consisted of me saying, "Owwwwwwwww! Owwwwwww," perhaps with a few details, was genius.

He said:

"You don't know what tomorrow will bring."

Dude. So simple, and yet so smart.

One way I deal with stuff is with music. Playing it when I can, yeah, but listening, too. The problem is, certain kinds of music gets me in a bad head space. And then the radio, rife with crap like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, or the Eagles, and other junk that should've been banned from the airwaves 20 years ago (when Bo and I were young, and hated this music the first time around), or new garbage, like Maroon 5 and Coldplay, is, in general, a dangerous place for me to be, so I've been enlisting my friends Rush, via streaming.

Patrick read somewhere that Rush's lyrics were once voted amongst the worst lyrics in the world, and while I totally agree, on the one hand, on the other hand, nothing distracts from one's emotional basket-case self like "Tom Sawyer" or "Subdivisions."

Math rock to the rescue, and I mean it (without being melodramatic or anything), I kind of needed rescuing.

On Saturday, I was putting away laundry and sorting out my closet, and Jules was in the bedroom with me, playing with his legos on the bed. "Subdivisions" came on, and I started teaching him when to drop in with the robot voice. Hearing his awesome five year old voice say, when I pointed at him, "subdivisions" was the highlight of my weekend.

Here's to another week (or month) of blasting Rush in the car and other places. Enjoy!