Monthly Archives: November 2011

What Was I Thinking?

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I have been practicing my timbales.

I’ve had a 30-minute lesson every week for a month now.

Every week I ask my instructor to be honest with me and tell me if I really suck because if I am no good, I’d rather go find an instrument I AM good at. If I ever let anyone watch me play, I want them to think, “Wow. She was definitely created to play that.”

Tonight his face said way more than his words.

Him: You’re doing good. You’re familiar with the music and rhythms already because you’re a dancer and you’re not a little kid so I can just tell you want you need to fix and work on… I’m cutting you some slack because I know you don’t have your own set of timbales at home, but you really should get a set and start practicing. Every day. AT LEAST 20 minutes. Even if you’re just messing around on them and not practicing the patterns I’m teaching you.

But his face said: Dude, you really need to keep practicing because … yeah, you’re not doing very well.

 

What was I thinking? Sure, I’m Cuban, but (as some people won’t let me forget) only 1/2. And it feels like my white girl 1/2 is trying to sabotage me.

Of course, I found a set of timbales on Craig’s List and plan on buying them and practicing.

I’m giving myself to the end of the year… (Ok, maybe to the end of January) and then I’ll really decide “si tengo sentido” for this or not.

Regarding Kissing

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Sometimes a first kiss with someone leaves something to be desired.

Sometimes you find yourself thinking, “Really? That’s it? Yeah, I think I’d like to go back to the part where we weren’t kissing.”

Sometimes, when those moments happen, that initial kiss left you with a wrong impression and, a few kisses later, everyone has found their groove and you think, “Ok, this is much better.”

Sometimes it’s not like that and you think, “Ok, let’s stop now, thank you.”

But…

Sometimes, something magical happens.

Sometimes, everything just clicks.

Sometimes, that first moment is everything you want it to be.

Sometimes you find yourself thinking, “Yes!!!” and “Please, sir, may I have some more?”

Those times rock.

Adventures with Kids

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Him: My kids and roommates are gone for the next 24 hours… Granted, the last time my kids were gone one of them got a bloody nose and I hda to go pick them up.
Me: Don’t worry, I know about adventures with kids.
Him: How?

I am the oldest of four. I’m 12 years older than the youngest. I take care of my 97 year old grandmother. Having my plans abruptly change because of someone is not a foreign concept to me. Just because I don’t have my own kids, doesn’t mean I don’t get it.

What I don’t get is how so many parents are so surprised that I get it.
Let’s just call it a gift and leave it at that, ok?

Sooo… after enjoying a mellow morning and some much needed Taka Taka Time, the phone finally connected to the kids. And, those kids were around the corner. (!!!)

After a 45-second scramble and freakout, it became evident that “escape” was not an option.

I was then instructed to sit on the couch while he handled the situation.

Unfortunately for him (and luckily for me), the kids weren’t staying; 6 minutes later, they were gone. Of course he was upset. And I had no idea what my role was in that moment. Sharing café is not the same thing as sharing a seriously difficult life moment. How do you offer comfort and support to a friend when the line of friendship was never all that clear to begin with? I offered a hug, he got up and put a table between us. I asked if he wanted to talk about it, he said no. I (sort of) offered to leave and he said I didn’t have to.

So I sat quietly and waited.

After a few minutes, he started talking and I just listened. Because, really, there is nothing one can say. No words offer comfort. It is just a hard moment. The best part about hard moments is that they always pass. So once the initial shock and pain were passing, the laughing about the absurdity of me attempting to escape started, “We’ll have to come up with an escape route for you for next time… just in case.”

I knew he was kidding, but the girl in me only heard “next time.”

AHA! He plans on doing this again! (Really, why wouldn’t he?)

Once we were sitting on the couch again, he asked what I thought about him going to check on the other kid, because he was worried.

I told him I didn’t know his situation well enough to offer an opinion yet.

Him: Yet? HA! So, once you do, you’ll tell me? You’re so honest! It’s rad.

Obviously, I’m not the only one who only hears one word.

Finding My Voice

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Wednesday night I thought to myself “Maybe I want to take voice lessons…”
Thursday morning there is a Living Social deal for voice lessons.
SHUT. UP.

I made an appointment with the coolest sounding Russian lady ever.

I knew I was shy about certain things… Me? Shy? I know, right? But it’s true!
Like the drums. I’m SUPER shy about them! I’ve only shared that secret with a couple of people.

And this one? I haven’t told ANYONE.

I knew I was extra shy about my singing voice and that taking voice lessons would stretch me (and I’m talking about more than just my vocal chords), but I still wanted to try it.

Stella, the Russian voice teacher, was SUPER cool. She asked e to sing something so she could get an idea of what she was working with and I did, but I hated the way it sounded. I was only supposed to have an hour lesson, but she spent two hours on me and then a third just chatting.

She had wild, red curly hair and bright blue eyes and a devil-may-care attitude. She was intoxicating to be around. She had been through some incredibly rough times, but she was happy. She inspired me.

She also gave me homework.

Homework for drumming AND homework for singing when I get home between 9-10pm every night and have to be quiet makes practicing for both really difficult.

Thank God for my car. I could practicing drumming on my dashboard (oh yes I did) and I could listen to a song on my phone and sing along as loud as I liked. And I did. And I still do, but only when I’m alone in the car. I haven’t quite gotten over that shyness.

I knew the voice lessons would stretch me, but I didn’t realize how far or how much. Or that it might be too much.
But after both lessons, I left crying.
See, to get the right sound, everything has to be open.
That was the word of the hour “Open up! Open your mouth! Your throat! Your chest! Your stomach! Open everything! It all has to be open!”

I’m not quite ready to be that open yet.

Kings of Salsa

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One of the guys at my work recently found out I was Cuban and told me about a Cuban show called “Kings of Salsa” that was happening in San Diego that same weekend. He was not going, but thought I might be interested in it seeing as I’m Cuban and I dance, too.

The description was a dance group from Cuba thatdanced all the classic styles: mambo, cha cha, guaguanco, rumba, and, of course, salsa.

So I did a bit of research and found THIS video, which looked like some seriuos Cuban dancing to me. (No, I am not so shallow that I watched it and immediately bought my ticket. :-p)

I debated for a long time, but ultimately decided that my regular Sunday night dance plan would be there next week and it might be fun to see what looked like timba dancing. Honestly, I was a little worried that I would get irritated just sitting and watching other people dance all night, but then I remembered that I do plenty of that if I go out and not enough of my friends are there so why not watch other people for a night?

I bought my ticket, drove down, and was having a lovely little date with myself so I shared as much on Facebook – with a photo.

Idiot #1: Why by yourself?
To Myself: Nngghh. Because I’d rather be alone than talking to idiots like you. What do you want me to say? There was no one that I knew would be available to do this with me that I would actually want to share the moment with. Now leave me alone, I’m trying to enjoy my moment.
Me: Because I’m so much fun to hang out with!

Idiot #2: Why didn’t you invite me? I would have gone with you!
To Myself: Because I would hate for you to get the wrong idea and I’d rather be alone than on a pseudo date with you.
Me: Because you’re not Cuban. I didn’t think you would be interested. 😉

Not-Quite-Idiot #3: I’m at [the place we always go dancing on Sunday nights]. FYI, you’re not here. 🙂
To Myself: Damn, I’m surrounded by old people and this show is much more “modern dance” than it is salsa… I almost wish I was there.
Me: You didn’t invite me.

The show was pretty good, but it wasn’t really salsa. It was salsafied modern dance. The rolling-around-on-the-floor-and-not-quite-ballet kiind of dance. Of course, there was a moment when they invited people on stage to join them and I did. That was really the only moment it was too bad I was by myself, because no one was there to document the moment. (Then again, that could be considered a good thing…)

As I was walking to my car, a couple of different people stopped me and told me that they really enjoyed watching me dance.

How could they not?

Sebastian

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Me: Hey! Long time no see! Que bola? Que hay de nuevo?
Him: My wife is pregnant again! With a boy this time!
Me: FELICIDADES!! Have you guys talked about names yet?
Him: Not really. We want something Latino, but that works in English, too, you know?
Me: I get it. How about Andy?
Him: Andy Garcia? Shut Up, Cubana.
Me: Or Ricky?
Him: En serio, cut it out.
Me: Ok. Ok. How about Sebastian? Sebastian Garcia sounds pretty good, no?
Him: You know… It does.

*8 months later*

Me: Hey! Long time no see! Que bola? Que hay de nuevo?
Him: My wife had the baby!
Me: Oh, that’s right! Y que tal? What did you name him?
Him: Sebastian! Isn’t that a great name?
Me: O_O
Yeap. I always liked that name…

Guitar Center

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Not fully recovered from being sick in that I am not eating much, but I feel fine so I am ready to start November.
And what a start!
Last Friday I stopped by the Guitar Center. I couldn’t think of any other store that sold instruments and I wanted to hold a saxophone. I had been leaning towards wanting to play that one, but how could I know for sure if I never held one?

Despite carrying saxophones online, Guitar Center does NOT carry anything but guitars and drums in their store. Or, at least, in my local store. As I walked in and saw wall to wall guitars I became super intimidated and thought about turning around and walking out, but that’s not who I want to be so I pressed on.

I saw timbales at the front of the drum secton. Then I saw congas a little further in. I was like a moth to a flame. And then the guy asked if he could help me. He ended up giving me a brochure for a place called “The Drum Factory” and sent me on my way. The gal at the front gave me a couple of numbers for nearby stores that sell and rent out other instruments.

I called the place and got information on saxophone lessons. I left my number and asked that the teacher call me. If he wasn’t available to teach me in the times I would need, then I’d pick a different instrument, simple as that.
I also registered at The Drum Factory for a free lesson.
The guy emailed me that same night and then called me the next day. He got me set up with a lesson for congas.

Tonight when I got to my lesson, the teacher hadn’t heard that he was supposed to bring congas to teach me on. I explained to him that I was still not sure what I wanted to play and did he think I would be a better conguera or timbalera?
He said that he thought timbales might be a better starting point and that we could turn me into the next Sheila E.

He taught me a pattern, wrote it down, and told me to practice it. A. LOT. He expected me to have it down by our next lesson.
I signed up, but I’m not sure I’m convinced on my timbales ability yet. The pattern is kind of daunting.
I go back next Wednesday, so I had better get practicing!

Besides, I haven’t heard back from the saxophone teacher, so maybe this was “meant to be.”