Time is music planets make: It’s Only A Matter of Time Before I’m Schumann (I proliferate my own insanity)

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Life

Alright, here’s a story and an insane spin-off project for you (well call it a labor of love, sounds a bit more respectable than random act of desperation). Ready for this? Here we go.

In 1992 I took ballet at a little studio in Maryland, and at the end of the year we had a recital. Nearly everyone who was born in the 1980s experienced this first-hand at least once in their lives so you’d think that 30 years later tracking down something like the name of one of the pieces of music used wouldn’t be absolutely freaking impossible. After all, it’s the internet age – you can find anyone online. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve successfully tracked someone down from some prehistoric part of my life to ask them something random, I have actually gathered quite a plethora of random information this way, it’s kind of awesome. Well, I have met my match.

This fun little obsession goes back to 1992. I was 9 years old, but I will never forget the music that one of the advanced modern classes performed to in the recital that I was also in. Our music was Tchaikovsky’s Waltz of the Flowers, from The Nutcracker. I remember the choreography (passe, fifth, chassez, arabesque…), I remember that Jenny Bunty, Kathy Delauney, Meri Price and Jessica Stakarowski were in it with me. I remember the white satin dresses with white tulle skirts and an off-the-shoulder fringe (that wasn’t actually supposed to be “off-the-shoulder” but I didn’t let that stop me from repeatedly pulling the fringe off of my shoulders throughout the piece so my costume would look like a “real ballerina” (I was 9, once again, just reminding you). I remember the weird plot of this pseudo classical story that we were telling… the flowers, then the rain, then fire, then the fire captures one remaining flower and is about to burn it to ashes (it’s a pas de trois to music from Tchaikovsky’s Romeo & Juliet) when a magical storm hits and saves the day, blowing out the fire, watering the world and restoring life to the arid world. Or something like that… it was never actually explained to me. But after decades of deliberation, I have settled into this story.

The first time I heard the music for the Misty Winds (this was the name of the dance for this piece, performed by the advanced modern class) it was one of those moments that sets the entire trajectory of your life into directional motion.

I’ll go ahead and say it – I was a weird kid. I’m a weird adult. It’s not a new thing with me, the weirdness. Over the years, I’ve learned to embrace and rock the weird but when I was 9 I didn’t think I was weird, I thought everyone else was just really boring. At that point in time I wasn’t remotely familiar with any popular music with the exception of a few Michael Jackson and Richard Marx songs I heard on Baltimore’s Lite 102 on a nightly basis.

What was I listening to? Well, earlier that very same year Sister Act hit the theatres and I saw it at least 5 times, and I had memorized the soundtrack within a week of its release…

What was I listening to? Well, earlier that very same year Sister Act hit the theatres and I saw it at least 5 times, and I had memorized the soundtrack within a week of its release… and no, I don’t mean the popular songs from the movie (“Just A Touch of Love” C & C Music Factory for example… I know, don’t even, ok? Let’s just move on… I’m old and lame, we know this) – I mean I had memorized the songs that the Sisters performed during Sunday Mass after Mary Clarence (Whoopi Goldberg) assumes directorship of the choir. In fact, that was my favorite song at the time, Salve Regina from the Sister Act Mass scene (yes, this carried definite social consequences that I was never able to completely live-down before high school graduation).

I remember sitting on the floor of the girl’s locker room at the pool with my red Sony tape recorder, listening to that song over and over again as I wrote down the lyrics, all of the parts, the rhythms and as much as I could with the musical knowledge that I had. What was I really doing? I was actually doing my first transcription and arrangement – this project consumed my summer, I spent hours and hours and hours working on it, and no it was never performed or shown to anyone, I loved every single solitary moment of it. I considered this a summer well-spent.

Why do you need to know this? Just trying to paint as an accurate of a picture as I can of how far and deep this goes. Fundamentals, man! Anyhow. I was geeky, I liked geeky music, I was really into my geekiness. Essential.

The Misty Winds. I was out in the audience at our first dress rehearsal. This music was absolutely mesmerizing, it was unlike anything I had ever heard before… and it wasn’t Tchaikovsky or anything from any classical piece of anything I could identify. For some reason, I never took it upon myself to look at the freaking program and see who the composer was (once again, I was 9 – a lot of things here are laced with child-induced stupidity) but by the end of the week with all the rehearsals I had committed the entire piece to memory.


Memorizing an instrumental piece is a completely different experience (for me) than memorizing a song with lyrics. With instrumentals, I rely a lot more on my feelings and emotions to keep the melody flowing in the absence of lyrics that create a sort of narrative that aids the memory. Different tonalities and chords and progressions and what have you create different feelings, and so much of the way I experience music is through catharsis, so – in a nutshell – I’ve painted a sort of bio-picture of the music. In all seriousness, I can still hear it in my head as if it were fresh – as if it hasn’t been 25 years since the last time I heard a recording of it. It’s a beautiful piece of music that’s become almost a legend in my head – I have nothing to go by but memory. No title, no composer, no recording label (it sounded like Windham Hill or Narada… so I listened to EVERY SINGLE NARADA AND WINDHAM HILL record that was put out from the time of the labels’ existence through 1992 (which was about a year longer than I needed) – that’s THOUSANDS of fucking records, you have no fucking clue… oh my GOD, and nothing – I got nothing, nothing but that memory. Luckily, that memory has become an entity of its own. I even transcribed the melody for my first semester proficiency exam when I was a sax principal at Berklee. I can’t let it go.


II did try tracking down the woman who owned the ballet studio – you know, the one that was responsible for all of the choreography and the music. I was unsuccessful. Being completely unsuccessful in this day of the whole living on the internet is strange – not that I couldn’t find her, but that I couldn’t find anyone related or any remnant of her. Anywhere. From anywhere. It’s like she vanished off of the face of the earth. Actually, it’s creepier – it’s like she never existed. I’m guessing that was my last possible avenue to go down in an attempt to find that piece of music.

Well, that was my last opportunity to find it, but I’ve got a freaking score for an ensemble in my head that’s been there for 25 years. I need to get it out. I need to hear it. I need to put it out there. I figure one of three things will happen:

  1. My song goes viral, everyone in the world loves it, I become famous, no one claims it, and it becomes mine. I can do this without feeling guilty because it has been 25 years and there is a possibility that I’ve done some re-composing over the years. I have absolutely nothing to listen to as a guide so anything is possible.
  2. My song goes viral, everyone in the world hears it, I don’t become famous because someone claims it and attempts to sue me for copyright infringement and whatever the hell you want to throw in there BUT I don’t get sued because I got what I’ve always wanted – the name and composer of the freaking piece of music. I can let it go. I’m good with that.
  3. I put it out there, absolutely nothing happens. I’m not surprised – this is the most likely outcome and if I were to believe anything else I’d be a damn fool. But I don’t see that as a reason not to do this. I’ve written tons of music over the years that no one’s listen to, I’ve enjoyed that. It just seems like something I need to do.

So, there you have it. The song that set the insanity in motion. I’ve heard tales of musicians going completely crazy from not being able to stop obsessing over the pitch of a single note for prolonged periods of time. Well, I’ve had this whole damn thing in my head for 25 years now and I do declare I feel a bit batty. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to this.

Stay tuned, this will be fun. And transcendent, maybe.Definitely interesting. Oh yes.

Kindergarten Registration is not for the Weak: How to Make A Terrible First Impression

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Life / Ours & Theirs

Regardless of anything else that transpired in the process, my daughter is registered for kindergarten in the Fall! Wahoo! Mommy’s getting a very small portion of her life back in a few months – super exciting. The process, however, was typical – something very simple that I had to go about making as difficult as humanly possible. Seriously. All we had to do was walk in there, sign in, wait for a few minutes, meet with someone for less than five minutes, and then head out on our merry way. It could have been so simple and painless.

But it wasn’t.

No, it was not simple and painless. It was insanely complicated, exasperating, painful and it left me feeling like I have no control over anything, defeated and pathetic. Heh, but what doesn’t do that these days? C’est la vie.

In case you were wondering what the most efficient way to make a terrible first impression is, I’ve got some notes for you. You wouldn’t think that destroying any face that you may have permanently would be so easy to do without any effort, but when you have two kids anything is possible.

Where should we begin? Ok, let’s start at the beginning.

Something that I’ve noticed about myself over the years is that I can be kind volatile in a situation without even opening my mouth. A lot of it has to do with my appearance. Let’s just say, I don’t exactly fit in. Ever. At least, not in every day situations with normal people. The years I spent modeling were kind of awesome for my sense of belonging because I spent most of my time with people who were like I am – but now, I’m a mom and I don’t fit in and it’s frustrating. I’d like to think that it isn’t the giant cannabis leaf that I have tattooed on my left arm, but it probably has a lot to do with that. Right now my hair isn’t aggravating – it’s not normal (it’s short, bleach blonde, asymmetrical and random, but not invasive), but it isn’t insane. My mohawk hat attracts a hell of a lot more attention than my hair does at the moment. But specifics aside, there’s something about my presence that can irk people. I don’t try to come off like this, it just is. I feel like if I could help it, I’d have found a way by this point in my life. So, I embrace it. I can’t say the same for the people that I encounter when I’m out and about doing my day-to-day thing. I used to think I was paranoid… now I just try to do what it is I need to do as quickly and quietly as possible.

Another thing I should mention is that in the last year, I’ve lost about 65 pounds. I put on A LOT of weight when I was pregnant with my son … not just during the pregnancy, but in the six weeks after I put on a solid 20 pounds all on my own from being given the medical “green light” to eat carbs again (I had gestational diabetes with my second pregnancy). The last time I bought new shirts was about 40 pounds ago. Needless to say, they fit me differently now than they did when I bought them. This day, I was wearing a racerback tank top – I love these things, I live in them during the summer, just throw them on over a cami or a bralette or something that actually covers what’s under it, and you’re good to go. What should you not wear them over? Regular bras – bras that are blatantly bras, bras that – when showing – alert the surrounding audience with a tone of shame and shock. These are not bras that are meant to be pretty, theses are meant to be functional. Unfortunately, when you’ve dropped a lot of weight since the last time you bought bras, they aren’t as functional as they are meant to be – so what we have here is a lose-lose wardrobe situation. But whatever, we’re just going to be quick. Run in, run out. It will be fine.

Well, as you can imagine, it was not fine. Heh, no it was not at all fine. It was bad. I ended up getting us there 15 minutes before the end of registration because for some reason I am absolutely incapable of getting myself and the kids anywhere remotely on-time… I was shooting for an hour before the end of registration… the school is only 3 freaking miles away… I don’t know what the hell happened.

It was probably a combination of having to talk my daughter out of wearing a goddamn costume, chasing my son around, waiting a half hour for my daughter to find matching shoes, chasing my son around, waiting to an hour for my daughter to finish eating, chasing my son around, waiting 15 minutes for my daughter to decide she needs to use the potty and perhaps, chasing my son around. And, of course, it’s 90 freaking degrees outside. I don’t do 90 degrees well, and I really don’t do 90 degrees well when it pops up after a two week bought of unseasonably cold weather. Nothing good happens when it’s 90 degrees outside.So, we get there… we’re tired, we’re sweating, we’re hungry. We’re half naked… mommy should have worn a tank top under this one, but she was sure of it when the boy proceeded to pull her shirt 75% of the way off within 30 seconds of walking into the school.

 

Of course the set-up I’m greeted with is the dreaded circle – sign in at the table in the middle, then have a seat somewhere in this circle of chairs that are setup around the perimeter of the entrance hallway. And wait. My dumb ass did not anticipate the waiting. I don’t know why. But when I made the decision to feed my son after we got back from registration, I did not anticipate the waiting. When I told my daughter to hurry up and throw some socks and shoes on so we could go, I did not anticipate the waiting. When I didn’t grab anything to eat or drink to bring with us on my way out the door – even though the little voice in my head was SCREAMING AT ME – I did not anticipate the waiting. Once again, I do not know why.

Waiting with a feisty, hungry, tired and insane one year old is an ordeal no matter how you go about it. I thought that I was going to be surrounded by a sort of universal sympathy – after all, it was a school, everyone there has kids = but no, it was not sympathetic, it was judgmental and I felt inferior – heh, at least it was a familiar situation. No, I don’t have any control over my kids – I’m sorry I’m not as perfect as you are, but I live in the real world.

I had to decide what would be less disruptive – letting my son shriek as he was confined to either my arms or a stroller, or letting him run free and having to chase him down every 10 seconds like he was an escaped convict on the freaking lamb. Option B, unfortunately, also involved bouts of shrieking every time I caught him and turned him around so he was running back in the direction that we came from.

This elementary school was not toddler friendly. I don’t know why I was expecting it to be more or less. I really don’t know what I was expecting, but apparently any inkling of an image I had in my head about what I was walking into was just 100% wrong. I think that’s from going to private school for thirteen years – my memories of school functions aren’t exactly normal. Or universal. They are actually kind of insane, and definitely esoteric. I was not in the presence of any of the chosen few or their descendants – that’s one thing I can always appreciate about the private school alumnae factor, it’s very tangible – weirdly tangible… you can definitely feel it. But heh, it was not here – not here, not today. I was on my own.

After what seemed like an eternity – in reality it was probably about 15 minutes (and in those few minutes, my son managed to crash into a display in the hallway, draw all over the hallway and walls – literally, almost escape completely down a long hallway that we weren’t supposed to be in, and he pulled my shirt off twice… oh, the stares… damn, those eyes burn) – we were finally called into the office to do this thing! My daughter was an angel, she was very polite, she was brilliant and she definitely showed the powers that be that she is ready to go to kindergarten. My son managed to pull my shirt off again, and draw all over the desk with a violet crayon… I don’t know how he got the violet crayon, it wasn’t the same crayon that I took away from him in the hallway (no, I don’t know how he got that one either). Our registration was very smooth, that was due to my husband putting all of the documents and paperwork that we could possibly need into an organized folder making me appear to be much more organized than I actually am – I couldn’t take credit. My husband made a fantastic impression. Typical. At least one of us looks good. I probably would have come off better had I not been there as well.

I don’t even want to talk about the ordeal in the parking lot. That is another story for another day. Kids are weird. Fucking crazy, man. And so are we for having them.

Insane.*

Eww

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Life / Ours & Theirs

I was super excited when my 4 year old woke up dry this morning, if for no other reason but the idea of getting to take a day off from doing laundry. Wahoo!

Unfortunately, the cat decided to throw up on her sheets about 30 seconds after she got out of bed.

Seriously?

I can’t win.*

Finally

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Movies / TV

… ok, did you see that? The season three premiere of Code Black? It was amazing! I’ve been singing this show’s praises since it aired, and still when it almost got cancelled last year, and now they’re back and it’s amazing. Good writing is imperitive to entertaining and cohesive television… I’ve said it before. More on Code Black later.