Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Learning to Read

I can vaguely, VERY vaguely, remember learning to read when I was a young girl. I can remember struggling and slowly reading word by word- or actually more like sound by sound. I'd meet with my reading group and my teacher and practice a few times each week. One day, all of the sudden, I started reading with ease. And I can remember thinking, "Oh my God- I'm really reading. And the words are adding up to sentences, and the sentences are adding up to a story!"

I then went on to be a 1st grade teacher for several years and I got to teach lots of kids to read. I think for a teacher,it couldn't possibly get any better than that. The power that reading gives us is enormous!

When I learned to play the guitar, I never learned to read music. I've played music just by goofing around, and using my ear. (AND my fingers!) But a year or two ago, I got a book and started learning to read music. I felt sort of like I did at the beginning stages of reading back in 1st grade. Lots of starts and stops. Very choppy. Not very pretty. And without a teacher, or friends beside me, I didn't feel all that motivated to consistently spend time practicing.

But a few months ago, my friend Diablo and I started working thru a book of duets. After practicing a few times weekly, after only a few weeks, the reading is starting to come with ease. The notes are adding up to phrases. And the phrases are adding up to songs!

We have come a long way together in a short amount of time. We get so excited and we hoop, hollar and high five after our best songs. It's all very exciting and reminiscent of learning to read as a kid. There is something to regular practice, and to sharing that practice time with a friend, and then practicing a little on your own. The power reading gives us is, once again, enormous.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


Every day of my life, I drink water. And I usually don't (or pretty much never) even think about how thankful I am that I can drink it right out of the faucet without the risk of getting sick.

I just returned from 8 days of vacation in Mexico where I was advised by a hotel employee not to drink the water. Showering was okay, just no brushing my teeth while in there, and no swallowing any of that water. It sounded easy enough because you can buy bottled water pretty much anywhere. But there's really nothing like ICE COLD water when it's 95 degrees outside with about a 200% humidity level- and in Mexico,
that idea is pretty much a pipe dream.

During my visit, I'd buy a big bottle of water at least once or twice a day- ranging anywhere from $1 to $6 dollars- but it usually wasn't very cold. And if it started out that way, it didn't last long. It became "room temperature" (and by room, I mean a hot steam room) within about ten minutes.

I got sick of drinking warm water. (But not THAT kind of sick, at least!) And I got tired of having to carry around a bottle all the time. And I had to remember to keep some clean water by my toothbrush, and when I ran out, I had to immediately buy a new bottle.

Aren't those bottles making an awful lot of waste in Mexico? And really,isn't it dirty enough already?

Here at home, I've taken clean drinking water for granted. But I return from Mexico with gratitude that I can just turn on the faucet and and VOILA: clean, fresh water. And if I want it cold all I have to do is add a few cubes of clean, fresh ice. I can brush my teeth and gargle, without any concern. I can even drink out of a public water fountain without too much concern. I usually don't, but I CAN.

AHH. Nice, clean water...

Thursday, May 8, 2008


This morning at my gym, I overheard a trainer's conversation with his client. His client was a slightly older woman, (slightly older than me, that is) and it seemed to be their first session together. She didn't look like a woman who had done much lifting in the past. After she did a long set of shoulder presses and sighed an exhausted "whew", he went on his crazy sales pitch. Which went something like this:

"See? Long sets with light weights, that's how those ladies get rid of all their body fat. You're gonna do this a few times a week and then in 2 months, you're done! It only takes 90 days to reshape your body. Zero body fat. That's what I'm saying."

Really? That's what you're saying???

I'm not claiming to be an expert here, but c'MON! Besides the trouble he must have with day to month conversion, he seems to be a bit confused on his health facts. I cannot believe a trainer would say this to someone. Zero body fat? 2 months and your DONE? He gives trainers a bad name.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Sometimes You Need a Rocket Scientist

My new acoustic guitar amp made its debut last night. I had messed around with the settings and had everything sounding just like I wanted it earlier in the week at home. But of course, everything changes with a new environment.

I played out on the patio at Cafe Lago last night. The new amp sounds so different than my old one, and I am always behind my sound so it's very hard to know what it sounds like "out there". My friend Diablo was there and he kept telling me I needed to turn up my vocal mic. I'd turn it up and he'd say the same thing. As if I hadn't even adjusted things. I felt myself getting irritated with HIM. I'd adjust it, and then think it sounded better and then I'd say, "Ok! Here we go"...but then I'd start singing again, and see Diablo giving me the thumbs up- not the good kind, but the kind that says, "Turn it up!" Finally I had the mic volume turned nearly all the way up.

Two hours later, when I was finished with my second set and most of the customers had gone home, Diablo suggested I do a post-performance sound check, which yes, I know, is a little backwards. But to appease him, I agreed.

He discovered I had plugged things in all wrong. When I thought I was turning up the volume on my vocal mic, I was really doing absolutely nothing at all. Yay me! All those starts and stops of me saying, "Here we go!" earlier that night were really just teases.

This amp is pretty straight forward. It doesn't really take a rocket scientist to figure things out. But in this case, that's just what I needed. A rocket scientist! Diablo once told me that was his major in college- Aeronautical Engineering, also known as Rocket Science!

Friday, May 2, 2008

The Secret History

On my website, I use to have a page for this blog, and a separate page for all of my insightful movie, music, and book reviews. But I decided to combine it into one big happy blog...Movies, music and books are such a big interest and influence in my life, it seems only fitting.

So today, readers, I wanted to tell you about a book I just read by Donna Tartt called The Secret History.

My friend, Diablo, saw it at the bookstore a few weeks ago, and remembered reading it and loving it when it first came out, so he bought it to read again. And due to our mutual love of a good story, and the fact that he was currently reading another, he sweetly loaned it to me first. As he gave me his brief synopsis of the book, and compared it to one of my favorite true crime books, Bully. I then grabbed the book from him and ran home to devour it.

Let me say, this book was no Bully. But it did share the common element of a group of young adults killing one of their friends. Usually truth is stranger than fiction, but not in the case of this book.

There is a strange click of friends, all in class together at a small college, and they are all way too into Greek classics. They interact only with each other, this odd group of 5 friends. In the beginning of the story, 4 of the friends tell the fifth friend of how they accidentally killed a man. Oops. They aren't really sure how it all happened. (WHAT?) But they fear their story might leak out. The guy in the group that seems most likely to spill the beans they then murder so as not to leak the story about the first murder. There isn't one character in the book that's a "good guy". No one seems to feel bad about the murder. It's more about not getting caught in the aftermath.

The book is very long. 592 pages! And parts of it never make much sense. But somehow, I kept reading. The best parts of the books come after the murder- I'd say the last quarter of the book. When I finally got to the last page, I was just as baffled as ever.

So I asked my other avid-reader friend, Glitzy, if she had read the book. She had, when it first came out, and she, like Diablo, also loved it. So although I read it,and was sort of enthralled by it, I never loved it. I didn't even like it. But I feel like I was supposed to, and I feel guilty to admit that. Did I just not get it? Hm.