a week in review

Holy wow this week went fast!

Monday: I barely remember it. Seriously. I think I did some of my reading for class. But I honestly couldn’t tell you what I wore or even what I had for lunch, or if I came home right after work.

Edit: Scratch that. I remember now. I launched Savvy Spork. It’s been such a crazy week it feels like I did that ages ago, and not just on Monday.

Tuesday: Class went well. I had a momentary lapse where I wasn’t sure if class started at 6 or 6:30–mainly because I just head over after work, it’s only a few blocks. And then everyone was running a little late. (It starts at 6. Always has.) But yes, class went well. I didn’t turn in any writing over the weekend, so we just worked on my two classmates’ stories and discussed a couple pieces by John Updike and Anton Chekov.

I also had my midterm meeting with the instructor. That too went well. She was concerned about making sure I get what I need out of the program… and I told her this has been a great experience thus far. She told me not to doubt my skills as a writer, and that others had applied for this term, but I was the only one selected. That all the instructors had read my work and were confident in having me join my classmates who are both nearly finished with the program. (Yeah, talk about wow.)

Wednesday: Reading Band finally met, and we actually had enough people to play. Although by now it’s been a while since I played, so man was I out of shape. It wasn’t too bad, though. But my embouchure wasn’t as strong as it used to be… and well, my fingers still hurt. I’m pretty sure that I’m going to stop playing. I’ll keep helping them out with the organizing and such, but I’ve got to focus on my writing. I’m going to wait until the fall to take a sabbatical from my horn, though.

Thursday: I had lunch at my favorite Irish Pub near work (right next door actually) with one of the instructors. It was nice to finally spend my lunch break away from my desk–first time in months. Then I popped in on the portfolio debut–my former classmates have some amazing work. After work, I was so happy to spend the evening at home I just watched some Netflix and went to bed.

Friday: Work was fairly quite, though I did learn that a large soda at Panda Express is MASSIVE. I also talked to my dad and stepmom, found out more about my Grandfather’s (failing) condition. And now I’m trying to plan another visit back home. I also called my brother, and he said he might take a day off when I visit so we could hang out. And we’re going to attempt to get my cousin to come over to I can play with/meet his pitbull.

Writing it all down it doesn’t seem like the overwhelming and exhausting week that it felt. I’m still tired, my wrist and fingers still hurt. I’ve got a story to turn in tomorrow morning, post cards to finalize for BiSC, and miscellaneous errands to get done before next weekend’s trip to DC. Hopefully I can get a decent amount done this weekend so I can treat myself to some Latin jazz on Sunday–one of my friends is playing in the neighborhood, so I’d like to check it out.

Anyway. How was your week?

band nerd for life.

I think becoming a band nerd was an inevitable outcome for me. My mom was a music ed major in college (though, she ended up far from that working for Indiana’s leading heart surgeon group)… so, well, joining band wasn’t really a question, it was just sort of expected. But at that stage of my life, I wanted to. My big brother was in band, and frankly, probably two-thirds of my school was as well. It wasn’t really seen as nerdy back in 5th grade.

Though I probably could have picked any instrument I wanted, we had an alto sax and a trumpet at home–so that sort of became my two options. The trumpet was my brother’s old student one, and the alto my dad’s old (beautiful) one from when he was in grade school. There were auditions and try outs–mainly to make sure we didn’t have a band of only sax, flute, and percussion. By the time I made it in, the sax section was full. The decision was made for me that I’d play trumpet.

I don’t really regret being “stuck” with the trumpet. But by 8th grade, I wasn’t fond of that instrument. I hit a plateau in my ability and was just getting frustrated. So I told my director that if I wasn’t able to switch instruments, I was quitting. Within a few weeks, I was playing baritone. Yet again, I’d followed my brother, only by this point he was playing tuba already and I had no plans at all on switching to tuba at any time.

Look at those nerds… my 8th grade band picture (’98/99) & my brother’s freshman band picture (’96/97)

The baritone was a dream. The perfect match for me. By high school I’d packed away tattered bell-front baritones, and was on to playing the euphonium. If you know the difference between a trumpet and a cornet, you pretty much know the difference between a baritone and a euphonium. And despite my small hands, I was getting pretty awesome with our four-valved horns. I even marched a marching baritone, which let me tell you, those are not for the weak! Homegirl had some guns. I was section leader for a few years, even did State Solo & Ensemble. I played for one semester in college, and that was it. They bought a brand new euphonium for me, but come opera season the director only wanted trombones in the pit, so I quit.

And that was it. Until years later I met Mucca Pazza, found a beautiful Holton bell-front euphonium* on ebay, bought a pink mouthpiece**, and joined the Reading Band. I was scared at first. I hadn’t played in years, let alone to start playing with strangers. I stayed pretty nervous and timid for a while. And though I settled in enough for our first concert, and felt better for our second, and then our third… I still lacked confidence. I felt more comfortable managing and organizing the group–which I eventually started doing–than having much of a featured part.

Our first concert! Told you my horn is beautiful…

But back in May 2010, we disbanded. The group that let us use their studio space was moving to a new location and well, people were just getting busy. (I’d also lost my pink mouthpiece, but luckily had a spare glow-in-the-dark one.) So, I packed up my horn and it just sat.

Until last night.

After over a year and half, Reading Band got back together. We were always a somewhat small group, and last night wasn’t much different. Flute, melodica, accordion, alto sax, tuba and myself. As I looked over the music last night before everyone got there–I’m still organizing the group, if not more so than before–well, I realized something. Holy crap had I actually forgotten how to read music?! Luckily it wasn’t the case, but it’d been a long time and my mind had to scramble a bit to make sense of the little dots on the page.

I have to say, last night was amazing. It felt good and natural, and oh so very right, to be playing my horn again–to be with my group again. I went in last night kind of expecting to sound like complete crap. And besides just needing to build my embouchure back up and getting my fingers twisted, I sort of surprised myself. I surprised myself even further talking with bandmates about rearranging one of our pieces and asking for a baritone feature. I was actually asking for a solo-ish part.

I’m pretty damn excited about getting back into playing music, to being a part of it. Glad I wasn’t the only one thinking we should do more than just one practice a month! December 8th can’t come soon enough!

*I actually measured. It’s conical. My horn’s a euphonium. Yes, I am a huge nerd.
**yeah, yeah, yeah, I know. Plastic mouthpiece… weird. But it was awesome and I’m sad it’s gone. Though now that we’re back into things, I’m going to get a couple new mouthpieces (metal and plastic). Need to find the right fit!

ALSO: Today is the VERY LAST DAY to enter my uber awesome 500th post giveaway. Gap jeans, Mucca tshirts, Modify Watches, artwork, cupcakes… there’s a lot you could win! Go! Enter! Win free stuff! Tell me about the instrument you played for an extra entry. Or if you didn’t play an instrument, what thing did you take a long break from and then finally get back into? (Don’t forget to look through the rest of this weeks’ posts for other ways of getting bonus entries.) Contest ends at midnight CST! 

euphonium rockstar

Last night’s concert went well.  Playing at the Hideout seemed all big and scary previously.  I mean, dude, Mucca Pazza plays there — heck, at least one of them works there too (hi Jeff!).

So, nerves aside, um, I rocked last night.  As did the other 13-15 people in my band — I’ve yet to stop to count how many of us there were that night.  I think 15 was our guesstimate.  That includes Maestro Messing too.

I have to say, I’ve got some very talented musician friends in that group.  Like, crazy talented.  And standing there with them, well, I don’t give myself much credit.  My musical education was lacking.  I don’t know most of the major-minor-diminished-whatever scales.  Sight reading isn’t my strong suit.  And improving and soloing? Yeah, you can forget that.  I was taught how to be a little performing monkey.  We worked on the same songs growing up and we had them perfected.  They’re the same songs the middle school band still plays.

My bandmates know better than to ask me to solo…  It’s sort of a joke now.  Euphonium solo?  HA. YEAH. RIGHT.  I’ll just go back to my  oom-pahs now.

But, honestly… I wish I had that musical ability.  I know I don’t suck.  I’m over that.  Especially after Mark called me an asshole for my bad band attitude.  But, I want to solo.  I want a little euphonium rockstar spot light.  I’d like a little more than just off-beats.  It’s part of the reason why I was planning on arranging some pieces that I could sing on… I may not be confident on my horn, but — given some pep talks and liquid encouragement — I can get my rockstar moment singing a little…

Anyway.  It’s mostly an ego thing I think.  And as a euphonium player, I’m quiet used to this…  Personally, I think Tabs and Ert should get a shot at a tuba solo.  That and I’m still fighting for a bongo solo.

So, um, I don’t have any pictures or videos from last night… hopefully someone does.  If I come across them, I’ll post them.  But we rocked last night.  And I looked hot.  Just FYI.

ALSO: Thanks to everyone who came out and supported Dennis Dixon!  It’s an amazing community around him, and seeing so many people come out to help this amazing Chicago activist in his time of need has been truly… well, awesome.
More at: www.dennisdixon.org

on audiences and concerts (it's okay, I'm with the band part 2)

Last night, my friend and bandmate David threw together an amazing benefit concert for the Latino Union… And my favorite band was among the few participating — Mucca Pazza.  No, unlike my last concert, I wasn’t on the list this time… but I wouldn’t want to be given that I wanted to support the Latino Union as well as see the show.

But continuing on from the previous post…  It’s true that an amazing audience can totally make the show.  Tony (one of MP’s percussionists) and I talked a little bit after the show about this.

Personally, I think it’s damn near impossible to stand still, let alone sit, during a Mucca Pazza show.  Last night I probably danced more than I have at previous shows.  A lot of this had to do with the amount of dancing around me.  Among some of my favorite dancers were my bandmates: David, B, Susie, Alex, Chantal, and Oliver…  All of us were up in the front rocking out and showing our love.  At at least one point I was actually dancing with Elanor (MP trombone player) and at another David was trying to push me into her… Just some concert fun.  In the end, we were all a hot, sweaty mess.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.

And again, I have to say I love seeing them rock out.  I could probably ramble on forever on how awesome I think they are, not only as musicians but just as people and friends.  This was my 8th Mucca Pazza concert since I first found out about them last June.  I have still yet to see a better live show.  (However, there aren’t too many shows that I’ll 1) dance that much, 2) make faces at the musicians — and them joke back, and 3) shout “I LOVE YOU RONNIE!!”)

During my own show — our debut show at that — I can attest that, again, the audience can make the show.  Tony said that you can have a crap performance but all killer audience, or you can play perfectly, but if the audience is just sitting there the show just doesn’t cut it… I think if B hadn’t gotten people out and dancing during our first song, it would have been rough.  But having the audience get into the music just gave us that much more energy — and I for one am very grateful.  In addition to having the audience out dancing and just showing their enjoyment, seeing my friends in the audience was a total treat.  To have their support means a lot.

So as I said last time, if you love the band, if you like their music… show it.  Have a blast, dance, cheer, shout… The musicians will love you for it — again, remember my warning about being a drunken dickwad… After the show, if you see one of the musicians, just a “hey, great job tonight” goes a long way.

oh babe, I really hate to go…

What do you do when you find yourself being attracted to someone who’s leaving in two weeks?
I don’t mean moving to a different neighborhood or anything, I mean moving.  Packing everything up and moving hundreds of miles away.  You’re just getting to know someone, to really enjoy them… and then before you can catch your breath and place your feet back on the ground, they’re gone.

I spent a very enjoyable evening last night with one of my bandmates.  A small group of us had decided to go out together… He and I danced a bit, and continued our giggling and flirting from practice.  He’s got a relaxed energy to him that just draws me in. … maybe it’s his smile, or his eyes… Or maybe it’s the way he dances.  Regardless.  I’m becoming smitten with this handsome fellow.

Normally this is when I’d swell up with joy and hope and pink fluffy brain goo…  As awesome as I think this guy is, it doesn’t change the fact that in two short weeks, at the end of this month, he’ll be leaving the Second City and moving to the Capital (and I’m not talking a couple hours away, I’m talking chumming up with Mr. Obama singing “won’t you be my neighbor?”)…  My mind just wants to reach out and go “but, but.. no.. that’s not enough time…”  It wants to search out any and every way to keep him here so I can continue on this twitterpated path.

There’s really nothing I can do in this situation — at least in regards to convincing him to stay.  I’m going to enjoy the time I have with him, which really isn’t hard to do… And when the time comes, I’m going to wish him all the best with the move.  Hopefully we’ll keep in touch.

greetings! from… not new zealand….

Well I’ve returned from my short-lived affair, gallivanting with kiwis… Though my love for Jemaine will never die, there are just things here in the Second City I can’t abandon… not to mention the whole long-term girlfriend/WIFE that he’s got…

I’ve got responsibilities to my kittens (who celebrated their first birthday a couple weeks ago… well, we sort of forgot the celebration part, but they’re a year old now)… And I also could not turn my back on my truly amazing nerdy bandmates just before our first show!

Yes, indeed, my community Reading Band had its first show on Friday (5.1.09).  We were a part of the May Day AREA Chicago #8 release party.  And can I just say, what a crowd.  I don’t think any of us had any sort of idea what to expect (well, aside from maybe David, one of our trumpet players)… The scene was full of a lot of hipster kids, pretty much all of them there for the release party.  One of my Northern Territory friends was there as well, didn’t realize that the release party and my show were the same thing… The virginian along with Dani and her boy also showed up to support me.  There were some amazingly stellar solos (though, sadly, no bongo solo), a good bit of dancing, and an overwhelming sense of merriment.

From what some of my bandmates are telling me, we’re getting some amazing feedback, and even some requests.  So it looks like there’s a lot in store.  One of which will have to be determining and settling (possibly compromising) on a name.  The farthest we’ve gotten is the “_________ Brigade”.  (For those of you wondering, The Reading Band is a near-50 member community group out of which smaller ensembles are being formed… well, basically we have about 12 regulars which formed the members of that concert.)

All I know, is despite how cute I dressed (and I’ll post pictures and videos soon), it’s very challenging to look damn cute while actually playing a baritone.  At least I had the damn awesome part covered.

some nerdy love for your wednesday morning…

So while I was perusing the interwebs this morning, checking out a local venue that Olly is insistent that I go to one of these days (first round on him)… and well, I got a nice .. nay.. AMAZING surprise….

Yes indeed those are my favorite nerds playing along with Andrew Bird. It just brought so much joy to my morning to be all like “OMG It’s Jim! Tony! Mark! Small Ronnie! Elanor! Paul! OMGOMGOMG!” And of course everyone else too.  (I’m seriously such a little fan girl.)

In more nerdery… Reading Band was last night and we’re continuing to improve and still drawing in new members.  I will have to say too, I’m not as terrible as I normally claim to be.  I do need to continue working on my reading skills.  And that whole brain to finger coordination thing… But my tone is coming back as is my strength/stamina in my embouchure.  Last night we missed some of our usuals, but had some returning people (Jim McB and Andy T) as well as some new MP folk joining us — Paul and Small Ronnie.  And as is becoming tradition, we went out for drinks afterwards where Tabs and I made plans on a music writing night with the goal of arranging video game soundtracks.

What can I say, band nerds are simply awesome.  (And full of win!)

shenanigans and band-nerdary: a tale of my wednesday…

I need to start off right away that there would be no story of my night if it wasn’t for the encouragement of Ollie to actually go out.

That’s right.  Yesterday, despite having looked forward to my evening since about 2pm and even having purchase tickets a week in advance, I was seriously contemplating just skipping everything and staying home. LAME. I know.  So I texted Ollie and Tabs and told them I was on the fence.  Dani wasn’t going.   And my bed is amazingly comfortable.  Tabs replied that she was stuck at the studio… but Ollie called said that he and a friend would be at a bar a couple blocks from my new place and that there might be a ride available to me if I did indeed want to go out.  This ruins my plan to be lazy.  How can I not go if someone’s offering transportation?

So, I wait until they’re about to leave that bar and then join them there to catch a ride.  When I got there I couldn’t find them in the main bar area, so that meant they were still at the concert there.  So I texted.  Right when I finished I looked up and saw none other than the Virginian.  He had just moved from the Midlands of Lakeview to the Westlands of Wicker Park before I moved… and we had hardly spoken for a while… We had exchanged a few messages recently because of the aforementioned moves, and I had invited him to join me this evening though I doubted he would.  I was right.  He was meeting a female friend of his at that bar.  No matter.  I met up with Ollie and his friend and we were off to the Bottle to see my favorite group — you shouldn’t even be guessing by now — Mucca Pazza.

Now, I know I know… Why the hell would I ever want to skip out on a MP show, especially if I already paid for my ticket….  I was weak, tired, cold, and LAME… that’s why.  Luckily it really didn’t take much to convince me how awesome of a night I would have and how much I would seriously be kicking myself if I hadn’t gone.  Not only is MP one of my favorite live shows, and just in general bands, but as I’ve mentioned, I’ve developed a great fondness for a number of the members.  Honestly, if you can’t love a band nerd, then I just don’t know what to do with you.

At the bottle, after making a mental note that one of the door guys is hot, we hit the bar.  They’ve got Woodchuck on tap.  Given that my liver and general insides do not care much for beer, cider has been a well-welcomed substitute.  So Woodchuck in hand, we make our way through the crowd during the second act… I meet new people — more of Ollie’s friends… and then bump into this kinda cute, not too tall, skinny kid — the Canadian.  We chat a bit, and then I notice that the crowd is clearing a bit now that the performer is gone… so I, of course, push forward, encouraging this guy to come along with me.  Front row.

So I talk to this guy a bit as various nerds and freaks set up the stage.  He’s entertaining, and we quickly decide that we’re going to be best friends for the show.  Turns out he knows Tall Ronnie — one of the K12 percussionists — and Small Ronnie too, I think he said she’s in some class with him taught by Tall Ronnie.  I point out a few members that are scuttling around and bring up the reading band.  Anyway.  We chat for a while.

The show begins and we’re dancing around… I probably got into dancing the most I ever have at this show.  The energy was just too great not too.  The Canadian grinds on me a little — something that is a little off at a marching band show — and wraps his arms around me.  Since I can still bounce around like a little fan girl, I’m not too opposed to this attention.  Eventually another guy who’s been dancing around us that I noticed — and complimented his hat — he starts dancing up on me too.  I decide that I’m okay with this as I don’t really know how I completely feel about the Canadian just yet.  This guy starts grinding on me too!  Then, in the middle of a song, he just leans in and makes out with me.  The first time it happened, I was okay with it… But throughout the night he kept at it.  Grinding more, kissing more, and even holding on to the back of my shirt in a possessive way… He was almost herding me at one moment, because I really wasn’t sure of this guy and wanted to keep my new friend the Canadian.

Now, I’m a band nerd through and though… Which ultimately means that I’ve got a dirty, dirty mind (part of that also comes from 4 years of hanging out with the boys’ track team in high school and also from being in theatre/drama club).  Nerds, dorks, geeks.. whatever, we’re all seriously pretty horny.  And I’ve got way too many memories of band-sluttiness (not my own) to really care for.  Granted, in my school, the drama kids were also the band kids… and when you share dressing rooms and absolutely do not care to cover your windows on the bus you’re changing on… yeah.

… Anyway… back to my night… I’m a band nerd.  Therefore, I have a dirty mind and am generally, decently horny.  But yeah, I don’t know.  It felt sort of … odd.. just making out like that during the show.  I mainly wanted to get away because I was missing the show!  This dude and his tongue were getting in my way of enjoying the nerdary.

Though I’m not completely against PDA, I didn’t really want to be that girl last night.  But at least I provided some giggles for others as I know at least Small Ronnie noticed what I was up to… and I’m guessing the trombone line did too because they were right in front of us.  After the concert was over, the Canadian and I wandered off looking for people for me to talk to… (mainly I was trying to find Small Ronnie and Jim McB.)  Kissing after the concert, completely acceptable… though I was sort of done with the other guy, and focused more on the Canadian.  And well, I got a couple pecks from Small Ronnie too.

I chatted with a few band nerds I hadn’t really gotten to know yet, had some time with Small Ronnie and Paul (who I really hope can come to work here in the facility), and contemplated approaching another trombone player… Though after my almost attempt at asking out Tom (married), I pretty much hadn’t really had the idea or motivation to make any more attempt on any other members.  (Though MP members could certainly make attempts at me.)  So, I resisted.  Plus, I had already made out with two guys that night… might be a little awkward/ehn for me to try to pick up a third.

We found Ollie and his friend, who dropped us off at a bus stop we thought would take us right back to my place.  Yes folks, I was taking the Canadian home.  We boarded the northbound bus, which eventually went east… I wasn’t too worried, I thought that maybe it’d jaunt back to the proper road and we could be dropped off a block from my place.  Once we were the last ones on the bus, and were reaching the end of the line, the drive realized that we had no idea where we were going.  So we got off and waited for a northwestern bus… chatted with a life-time Second City man… and eventually got back to my place.

Now.  I had told the Canadian at the bar that he could crazy on my couch because he lived freakishly far away in the far Southern Lands of Hyde Park — yes, near our President’s building… I flat out told him that nothing would happen.  And besides for some cuddling — I caved and let the self-proclaimed cuddle slut share my bed — and some more making out, nothing happened.  He wanted it.  But I just wasn’t up for it.  I had gotten the male attention I wanted, and seriously needed to get some sleep.

I was able to get 2 hours of sleep last night.  I’m surprised I’m still functioning.  And I also must say that I’m disappointed in myself for not bringing a camera or my mino to the concert.  But it was nice to actually be able to bounce around and shake by booty without begin distracted by my camera’s need for me to be still (which I feel is very hard to do at an MP show, and a stupid thing to do as well).

I’ll probably hang out with the Canadian again.  He’s a fun guy.  I just don’t know if it’ll go anywhere.  And I’m all right with that.  Who knows, maybe I’ll meet the right geek one of these days.

me, recently, in list form.

Here’s a bit of an update, which will hopefully justify why I haven’t really been able to write like I’d prefer… This is just one of the slightly crazy hectic times of the year….

  • Josh visited and it was good… Though we’re not going to be roommates if/when he moves to the city…
  • New medications = productive Rini at work.  This is a very good thing. Plus, the side effects are wearing off…
  • Without Josh as a roommate, I began looking for 1 bedrooms… and was crossing my fingers for something affordable.
  • I found a few places I liked, and scheduled to view one last Wednesday…
  • I really liked that place, the first one I looked at, and paid the deposit that night….
  • Had an interview on Friday, it went well, and we’ll see how that all goes.  No further details until I get some sort of official word.
  • I bail on a Mucca Pazza concert, a party, dancing, and another party….
  • I bought a new tea kettle and a small cheese grater for the new apartment.
  • Tomorrow we’ve got tours and I’ve got Reading Band.
  • Wednesday I sign my lease and make it official.  The kitties and I will be moving to a small garden apartment in Lakeview.
  • Thursday 1st of annual meetings at work, afterwards Mennogirl and I will drive off into the sunset to see Dooce and buy her new book… (this is also my bubby’s birthday.  hooray for super awesome bubbies.)
  • Friday is the 2nd of the annual meetings at work… get home and CRASH. (I mean, pack.)
  • Weekend: PACK LIKE CRAZY
  • … then April 4th: MOVE.

Yep.  That’s been my life.  And at some point I need to see a dentist about my wisdom teeth… they’re rather annoying in the sense that my mouth is in a lot of pain… and well, if I want to continue doing that eating thing I like… I should have them looked at soon…