Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Me + Glee = Confusion

I haven't watched Glee in a while (maybe since the first season) because I got too annoyed with those kids and that stupid teacher and his weird tiny girlfriend with the food issues, but yesterday, my friend Kate on Facebook (she lives in Arizona and so gets to watch everything like an hour before the rest of us) who is also my friend Adam's mother, posted that this week's episode was a tribute to Whitney Houston, and that she liked it.

Since this is the woman who, when I was in the 12th grade, unwittingly introduced me to my favorite book ever ("A Prayer for Owen Meany," which I found in her bathroom, and no, you weren't home at the time Kate, but that was a very long time ago, so please forgive me for losing your page; also, I am re-reading "Owen" [again] and my copy is currently in the bathroom: how's that for full circle, or something), I thought, "Okay, if Kate liked it, maybe I'll see what those Glee kids are up to with the Whitney Houston," and since JP hasn't been going to bed until 9, I watched about the first 20 minutes of it.

Now I have questions.

A) Where was the kid in the wheelchair?
B) What the hell happened to Quinn? Is she now the "kid in the wheelchair"?
C) Where did the dreadlock kid come from? I think that guy went to high school with me. Also... and I know this is mean, but that kid is weird looking. He was weird looking in 1990 and he's weird looking now. Sorry! But I don't see the appeal.
D) How come Finn isn't playing the drums anymore?
E) When did Kurt get so grown up and handsome!?

and the MOST important question of all:

F) WHAT THE FUCK, AUTOTUNE? I was really disappointed with how mechanical the kids' voices sounded. And you know what? It didn't make any of them sound good. Can't these people sing? (I don't think I can keep calling them "kids" because aren't some of them in their late 20s?) No seriously, I thought these people were good singers to begin with, so why treat them like... untalented people? I didn't get it, I don't get it, I don't want to get it.

In other news, I was going to try to take JP with me to a La Leche League meeting tonight (I've been wanting to go but we were sick for the last two months, in case you don't remember, and I didn't want to expose a bunch of nursing moms with their little babies to THE COUGH), but then I saw that the kids (actual kids) on American Idol are doing all Queen songs tonight, and now my interest is peaked. I'm sure some of them will ruin those classic songs but I have an undeniable urge to see Phillip Phillips sing "Another One Bites the Dust" or "Don't Stop Me Now" or the totally ridiculous "Radio Ga Ga." And if nobody sings "Who Wants To Live Forever," I will give you a dollar!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

My name is Irene. (Public Practice)

Hey, they told us to "dress casual."
Saturday, I did my one hour of "Public Practice" at the Music Center. It was fun, and truly a real practice session for me (I know it was "real" because by the time I'd been playing for 54 minutes, I got bored. I know, I know, I'm a horrible person. Look, sometimes I really get into it. Sometimes I don't).

My brother and his partner Joe accompanied me and Exton, and that part was awesome. I picked them up, and since I've never been to their house in Los Feliz (Silverlake? I always get confused), I was a little nervous about finding it. In fact, I've done very little driving in that area, so it was kind of exciting for me to be making that big crazy right turn from Sunset onto Fountain (also, my stupid driving directions had me make a left off of Rampart onto Sunset! Talk about exciting!). But, the drive down there was fun; Ex stayed awake most of the time, and at one point while we were cruising along, listening to "Stairway to Heaven" on the radio, I swear he was singing along with me.

Because I had no idea how long it would take me to get there to pick them up and then get us back to the Music Center, I kind of overestimated. We were about an hour early. We took the baby in the stroller over to the Cathedral, and poked around there. We took Exton out to the courtyard, where I nursed him a little (fully covered; Dan and Joe wandered off while this was happening, and no one was around). He's really cutting his nursing sessions short (I think he's starting to wean? More on this later), so it wasn't a big deal. Then we took him over to the little garden area with the sculptures. Ex loved the big sheep, and got in the whale with my brother Dan. After awhile, we walked back to the check in booth at the Music Center for the Private Practice participants.

Exton: "Woof?"
Dog: [Nothing]

Anyone else reminded of that 80s song
"Belly of the Whale"?

Unfortunately I can't remember the names of all the people I encountered with Public Practice (only Richard, the guy who moved me midway through my session to another location. He was cool), but they were all super nice, and it was a fun experience. It was kind of noisy - there was a lot of street traffic (i.e., buses), and for some reason a lot of helicopters, but the echo I got off the side of the building was nice for my sound. I started out on what I think is the south side of the Ahmanson (on Grand).
I did my scales, and the loop pattern, but decided against doing too many long tones. I got out the Faure Fantasie for flute and piano. I played this in high school, which was sort of going against the rules of "playing something new." All week whenever I got a chance, I looked through my music collection for something new to try out there, and I just couldn't find anything I wanted to play. I even sat down with my big book of Bach sonatas (of which I've played... two), but all that did was convince me that I am right not to like playing Bach. So instead, being pretty rusty on this one, I decided to just go with it. The Faure is so pretty, and I can count a lot better now than I did in high school, so I think it was OK. As usual, when I am under practiced, I encountered the same issue I always encounter, which is that my fingers are just not up to speed. That was kind of a bummer, and I spent a lot of time working on that - the music has lots of passages where there's high F#'s to Gs, and that's mostly the problem area. It's fun, too, to replay measures over and over, to hear them getting better, or faster, or whatever you're looking to improve.
Dan, Joe, and Ex hung out on some benches in front of me, and they had a good time, I think. Ex is eating a lot more solids now, and so he had a turkey sandwich and half a peanut butter and jelly wrap that I brought for him. I think Dan and Joe got a kick out of playing with him. He's a great baby, really fun. He seemed to like my playing, and they walked him around to see what else was going on.

At 7, Richard came to help me move to another space just on the other side of the building (the Hope St. side). By this time there were a lot of people walking around getting dinner, there to see "American Idiot" and whatever else was happening at the Music Center. No one really stopped and listened to me, but that's fine, I think it would've embarrassed me. I was "only" practicing. At around 7, it was starting to get cold, and there was a street musician, a sax player (I don't think he was there for Public Practice!) pretty near to me, and he was a little loud... it was hard to concentrate. He was also pretty darn good, so I felt weird.

I got a cool sign to take home (I think I'll put it in my cubicle at work), and overall, it was a fun experience. I'd do it again.  

Afterwards, I filled out a little questionnaire, got a refund for my parking fees (sweet!), and took Dan, Joe and Ex to Brite Spot for dinner, where I had a pretty awesome steak ciabatta sandwich. Ex loved the restaurant, and bounced around to all the 80s hits (he likes the Cars, the Go-Gos, early Madonna, and Tommy Tutone as much as I do) that were playing on the stereo. He tried to talk to the group of people at the table behind us, but they ignored him. He wouldn't eat any of my sandwich, but he did enjoy the fruit cup I got instead of fries (he's really into cantaloupe and honeydew melon right now; also the blueberries). I took Dan and Joe home (Ex was out like a light practically before we even left the restaurant parking lot), got great directions from Joe for catching the freeway, and we were home by 10:00.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Bike 2.0

If you've been coming here for awhile to read about my not very exciting life (thank you, thank you, thank you) you know that in 2009 or so I got all excited about getting a good bike. At the time, I bought a Specialized road bike, and it was pretty awesome, but, it turned out, too much bike for little ol' me.

I didn't get to ride it a lot (though I did go on some awesomely long rides with my friend Patty, most of which culminated at the Cheesecake Factory) and I wasn't super fast or anything, but I got in a few of my favorite things (night rides), and I got some use out of it. One thing that I learned from that red and black bike was that the best motivator is a fun, safe bike. And I just never felt that safe on it. I think, though the bike store dudes tried to tell me otherwise, that it was just a hair too big for me.

Anyway, as you all know, then I got pregnant, and then I had a baby, and I started thinking that that bike was just not mommy or kid friendly enough... so a couple of months ago, I placed an ad on Craigslist, and I sold it. It was pretty easy to see it go, so that's how I knew I had made a good decision.

Last week I replaced it.

My friend Kim recently bought a bike, and she told me about the deal she got on a "dent and scratch" model, so I headed to the bike store with my money in my hand, looking for a way to get everything I wanted (bike and bike trailer for Exton) for just $800. I thought it was pretty good timing that the bike store was having a sale, but it turned out that I got a better bike than the one I went in for, and got a great deal on both the slightly dented bike (it has one tiny dent in the frame that no one will notice) and brand new Burley Bee bike trailer. OK, so I spent a little more than $800, but that's with tax and a helmet for Exton thrown in, too. I was really, really happy with my purchase.

Here it is:
Pre-ride inspection. "You want me to GET IN there?"

I got a Trek FX 7.5 WSD. It's white, with light green lettering, which is a little more girlie than I would like (blue or gray would be my first color choices)... but the price was right, so I can be girlie. It's fun to ride, lightweight, easy to handle, and I feel like a million bucks on it. The trailer is cool, too - it adds some weight but that's fine, as the purpose of being on the bike is to get stronger and fitter. Exton is not so sure about it just yet but hopefully we will figure out a way to get him comfy in there. So far we've mostly gone on short rides (and he did fall asleep during one, which I call a success) but he seems to get a little scared, and he doesn't like the helmet very much yet. So we've been keeping his rides short. He loves to be dragged around the backyard in it, and bounced around, but he gets a little panicky on the street. Since I want this to be a good experience for him, I'm trying to get him used to it slowly.

On Tuesday we stayed home from work to take him to a library thing in the morning; Patrick stayed home with him for his afternoon nap so I could go for a longer ride on the riverbed by myself. I rode out about 6 miles on the riverbed, and turned around (so my ride was just about 12 miles. Math-y!). The San Gabriel Riverbed is really beautiful, with lots of things to look at (and the water isn't fluorescent green or orange or frothy, like it was when I was growing up in Culver City and would ride along La Ballona Creek to the beach or school), including El Dorado Park (where I took a little break). As I said on Facebook during my break, I was never very fast and I'm still not. I passed one guy, a heavyset guy on a single-speed cruiser wearing what looked like a 50 pound backpack. That said, I SMOKED him. I'm sure he's still reeling from eating my dust.

The bike needs a few accessories (kickstand, at Patrick's request; water bottle; computer so I know how far/fast/slow I'm going; headlight so I can go on my beloved night rides) but I'll get those eventually. I'd like a shorter pair of bike pants/shorts. I have a great pair of padded Shebeest capris but it would be great to get a little color on my legs this summer! I found a great skort online at REI but I'm not sure about the length. I never show my legs, and it's a little shorter than I'm used to. And, I think I'd maybe like some kind of "performance" t-shirt, though I sure don't need anything fancy like a jersey specifically made by cyclists. Just something to wick the perspiration away better than my ratty old Police t-shirt.

When I got home, Ex was napping with Patrick, so I hopped in the shower and washed away all the sweat, and got ready to be a mommy again. It's funny how a little thing like a bike ride can make you feel like you again.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Public Practice at the Music Center

A while ago, I received an invitation in the mail to participate in something called "Public Practice" downtown at the Music Center (outside, somewhere). It's supposed to be an opportunity for the public to see amateur musicians practicing - to appreciate the hard work those of us who don't get paid to perform do, out of love of playing (or whatever).
I signed up because it sounded cool by answering all these intrusive questions and I was accepted.

So to be clear: this is going to be me and a bunch of other people, practicing outside, somewhere on the music center grounds, in public.


It's not a gig, or a performance. People won't walk by and hear me performing some amazing Mozart that's obviously been worked up (as if I have time to do that!). I'm supposed to either just play scales or what have you, or pick a new piece to work on. It's only for an hour, and you'd be surprised how much practice time can be eaten up "just" by scales and long tones, so I'm probably going to devote a lot of my time to that. Also, my lack of practice shows the most in tone and fingers, so this is a good opportunity to do that. But it's not going to be exciting to listen to (unless you really want to hear me sitting on each note forever, in which case, you are the audience I want to have. Always!). I might pull out something new (Bach, maybe, there are ton of Bach sonatas that I am unfortunately unfamiliar with, and he's really hard).

My brother is going to come with me and wrangle Exton while I'm playing. Hopefully he enjoys hearing a bunch of weirdos practicing, too.

I don't know how many people are participating or how close to one another we will be, or (of course) the skill level of the other players, so this could either be really cool, or really excruciating.

I'm allowed to invite family and friends, so here's the info, below. You must be warned, however, and I can't stress enough, that this is strictly practice. I'll hopefully be able to hear myself play and evaluate my tone (during long tones), and I hopefully won't get all nervous and jack up the loop pattern or whatever scale exercise I'm doing. My practicing isn't always pretty (though I almost always through in the first five bars of the theme from "The A-Team" for fun while warming up). My practicing isn't that sophisticated either. Still. I think it will be a fun experience for me, and for anyone who wants to hear other people... practice.

Public Practice
Noon on Saturday, April 21 to noon on Sunday, April 22
My time slot: April 21, 6:30 p.m. -7:30 p.m.

I have no idea where I'm going to be, and I'm supposed to pack up about halfway through and go to another location, so good luck finding me, if you're coming for me specifically (thank you if you're even considering doing this). If you're not, I might try live tweeting it, if I have time to do that, or will of course just write about it after the fact. Oh, yes, of course you have that to look forward to!

Dear Co-Workers,

I can't promise anything, but you may see and/or hear me throw up today. It's embarrassing but, to quote a friend of mine who uses this phrase for just about anything, it is what it is. My apologies. I'm considering this my punishment for making fun of some of you for your crummy email signatures, your inability to cut a straight line, or just complaining about your loud phone calls with various collection agencies.

Very truly yours,

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


For the last two weeks, I've been walking around with this dumb cough. I used to get it every year, but when I was pregnant, apparently I was overwhelmingly healthy, because I didn't get sick that much. This year, the year after having my son, seems to be the year where my body is making up for lost time, because I've been sick more, had some age-related issues I never had before, and I've just felt funkier than usual.

Not this funky, though. Unfortunately.

Anyway, because I'm still breastfeeding the little guy, it limits my options. For instance, that cough medicine with codeine that I've been dreaming of? I can't take it.

The worst part isn't really the cough. I could handle coughing every once in awhile. But what happens to me is, I get hit with these horrible extended coughing fits that usually culminate with puking.

Yes. I said "puking." It's gross. And then afterwards I feel like I've been run over by a truck. So that's been going on, daily. Luckily when it happens at work, I've had opportunities to get to the bathroom. What I've been afraid of - it happening while I'm driving the car - hasn't happened. What I didn't know to be afraid of happened yesterday.

I haven't been sleeping that great. Mostly I lay there, wondering if I'm going to fall asleep, just to be awakened by my own coughing. Or what usually happens, it takes me awhile to fall asleep, and then just as I'm dozing off, Exton wakes up and wants a feeding. And then I cough.

So I finally got so frustrated that I stayed home from work yesterday, and I made an appointment with the doctor. The appointment was for the late morning, and while I was at home, I actually thought I was starting to feel better. Hardly any coughing. I got a late start leaving and I considered calling them and canceling the appointment, but I didn't.

On the walk up to the office, I started coughing a little. I got in line to check in, and saw that there was a a "self check-in" kiosk, so I thought that would be faster, so I tried it. But, my Kaiser card didn't work and I had to tap out my name, and while that was going on, my coughing escalated. I couldn't talk. It was really scary, actually, because I felt like all the people in the waiting room were watching/listening to me. A woman was sitting at a desk (separate from the check in desk) right in front of me, and I croaked out, in between coughs, "can I sit?" She had a chair next to her desk, facing away from the room. I sat down and coughed. And coughed.

And coughed.

And then I puked. All over my shirt, and my jeans, and I was so embarrassed. I haven't thrown up in public in years (and I was probably drunk and in my 20s when that happened so what did I care?), and I just felt so gross and dirty.

The woman at the desk was so nice. She helped me clean up. I kept apologizing in my tiny voice, and she kept telling me it was OK. She even said, "This is a medical facility. I've seen much worse." It was weird, though, because my shirt just looked wet, not, puked on (but the inside was... messy). Then she offered to check me in, and she found out that my appointment was next door, which I was actually relieved about. I really wanted to get away from that roomful of people.

I walked around the corner to the right room, where I saw a woman who is not my regular doctor (which is good, because my regular doctor is a man). She took me right away, which is good too, because as soon as I was alone in the room with her, I lost it. I just started crying. I mean, damn, it was just some vomit, no big deal, but I was sooooo embarrassed. She was also really nice (though, it must be said: not as nice as cute Dr. Reid would've been, I'm sure; then again, I don't think I want to see him while wearing a puked-on shirt). It was a good day for Kaiser doctors.

Anyway, she took her time with me and checked me out, and I'm fine. She recommended that I keep using my nasal spray allergy medicine (which I lost somewhere, somehow... I have to take a better look for it), and she gave me an inhaler to use when the coughing gets really bad. She said it will probably be a little longer until the cough is gone but because I'm breastfeeding, it's harder to treat. She said I didn't have any kind of infection. Just a cough.


Which Led Zeppelin song is that from? In My Time of Dying? Gonna go have a listen. You should too.