Friday, January 29, 2010

Will Not Work For Food... Anymore.


During the past 7 days, I have performed 3 unpaid gigs.

NEVER AGAIN.

Last Saturday, my string quartet, Strings of Elegance, committed to a 2-hour set at one of Utah's premier wedding shows downtown. We have done this every year since the bridal fair began, in order to provide elegant music for the show, and a marketing opportunity for ourselves. It's a win-win for the show and for us. Or so I thought. This year, we were informed that instead of playing in the lobby on the ground floor, we would be placed on the 9th floor with all the yummy food. We thought this was a grand idea because no bride-to-be is going to pass up wedding cuisine samples! Well, when we arrived, we found that this year, they had brought in a second string quartet and put them on the mezzanine level (a better location in our opinion because all the other vendors are on that floor and you can hear them from the lobby). On top of it, they left us out of the program. STRIKE 1.

That same night, the cellist from my quartet joined me in Park City. We had received a phone call from someone who was setting up musical groups at upscale restaurants in Park City while the Sundance Film Festival is in town. We agreed to play at Ruth's Chris. The catch? They couldn't offer us cash, but they said we would earn tips, and that we could have dinner there... anything on the menu! Now if this were Applebee's, I'd say no thanks. But it's Ruth's Chris. This veggie lover could do well to experience what a real steak tastes like. So, since we were in the position to bargain, we agreed to play duets for 2 hours, in exchange for two dinners for two. We wanted an opportunity to show our men a good time, at a later date. (Valentines Day is coming up and I'm in charge of planning it this year. This would make it reeeeel easy.) Plus, we figured the Sundance crowd would be generous with their tips. Boy were we wrong. We received one $10 tip. From one person. One lousy cow-masticator appreciated our music-making enough to show it monetarily. My fabulous cellist friend got a measly $5 and the valet got the other $5. Also? We have yet to see our gift certificates. Neither manager on duty knew anything about our arrangement. STRIKE 2.

Tonight, I was looking forward to my first vocal performance with my new jazz ensemble. A couple months ago, my little brother D was playing the drums in a jazz trio (including a bass guitarist and a keyboardist), and they recently agreed to let me join them, along with a jazz flautist. Together we make a quintet! And I loves me a jazz quintet! The flautist committed us to play at his friend's wedding reception, and since we are a new group comprised of mostly students, we agreed to play for free. You know, to start making a name for ourselves. Plus it's fun! The instrumentalists were set to arrive at 4:30 to set up their equipment, and I, being the singer, got to show up right at go-time: 6:00. At 6:05 I arrived and apologized for being late. (As a stay at home mom, I forget about the existence of rush hour.) D and S informed me that my tardiness was not a problem, as they were waiting for K and M to show up. No, I thought, they must be mistaken. K and M were supposed to be there 90 minutes before. But no. Apparently, K decided to take his car into the shop at 4:00, a half hour before he had committed to be at HIS FRIEND'S wedding. He told us he should be there by 6:40. So we swallowed our frustrations and had a seat. We were invited to partake of the delicious Middle Eastern spread, and partake we did. As we waited for our tardy band members, my foot tapped and shook involuntarily under the table. Even though we weren't being paid, and there was nothing we could do but wait, there was a bride who was counting on us to provide the lovely ambiance of jazz music, and we weren't doing our job. This made me increasingly anxious and frustrated and, as time wore on, incredulous. 7:00 rolled around. Then 7:15. My brother had to leave at 7:30 due to a prior engagement, and I had only planned to stay until 6:30 since we only had about 30 minutes of music prepared, and only 3 of our songs have vocals. At this rate, I was going to miss bath time (the punk's; not mine), which is my favorite time of day. So we said if 7:20 hits and they're still not there, we would just have to go. Hello 7:20, and goodbye. Okay, maybe we'll give them until 7:30. We can stay until then. 7:30 came and went. Finally, at 7:45, they walked in. And we walked out.

The moral of the story? No more free gigs!

And K, you're out of the band. We don't need a stinkin' flautist anyway.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Ball

The punk has begun expressing himself through the magical medium of the English language. He can now say:
  • "Dad" (first word - drat!),
  • "Mom" (really, it's "mamamama," and only when he's upset),
  • "no" (it's more like "nononono..."; he never leaves it at one syllable), and now
  • "ball," as you will see in the video below. I love how his lips curl inward to form the "L" at the end. He also says "ba-ba" for bottle and "ba" for bath.
This morning, I was reminded yet again that I am the luckiest chick in the world. I was able to snuggle in bed with the punk as he gobbled his milk and watched Sesame Street. Then we ate whole wheat toast, soft boiled eggs, blueberry yogurt and hot chocolate.

video

After that, we went outside for a little while for a change of scenery. The little guy held his little ball from Grandpa J the entire time.

video

Then came nap time. I savor the moment every time I get to hold him as he takes his bottle before bed. I snuggle him in his blanket as he holds his bottle and his eyes start to droop. Then, if I allow my eyes to close for a moment as I rock him, I'll feel a tiny plump finger go up my nose and hear a little giggle from below.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Enigma of Motivation

Motivation. This topic is often on my mind. Specifically, the motivation to exercise. There are some people who seem to have no problem committing to a workout regimen. They just make up their mind to be healthy, and they do it, rain or shine. I am not one of these people. I am at constant war with myself:

Me: I want to lose the last of this blasted baby weight.
Me: Then you should probably work out and cut back on the hot chocolate.
Me: But then I would have to work out. And I would have to cut back on the hot chocolate.

I have not yet figured out how to put my naughty voice in permanent time out. Even when I have decided to make a goal and stick with it, that naughty voice finds a way into my head. "You worked out really hard yesterday. Your calves are sore. You could use a nap. Oooh, that fluffy white pillow is calling your name..."

Last weekend, I was a rock star. I was on vacation, and I still managed to stick with my training schedule. It called for a 3 mile run on Friday and a 5 mile run on Saturday. And I did it! My friend B and I got up at a reasonable hour and went for an outdoor run together on Friday! And then the next day, we bypassed security at the hotel gym desk (who pays $15/day to use a hotel gym? Suckers, that's who) and I ran 5 miles on the treadmill. On vacation! Did I mention that I did this while on vacation?!

So then on Monday, after completing my workouts every single day of the first week of my training schedule, my demons came a knocking. "Look at that fluffy, white bed. The punk is asleep for 2 whole hours. You could use a nice nap. Just lay your head down... That's it." Zzzzz. I took a nap during the punk's first nap of the day. Then I cleaned during his second nap. And then my responsible, motivated, healthy side, the side I whip out for interviews, snapped into place and I completed my 3 mile run after putting the punk to bed that night.

Why is it such a struggle? I have now completed one week and 2 days of my 6 month training schedule. I want to keep it up; I really do. I want to be the athletic, healthy girl that I know is buried underneath the love handles.

Are you a consistent exerciser? If so, do you have some advice for me? If not, what keeps you from your goals?

Monday, January 11, 2010

What Happens in Vegas

... gets posted on this blog.

Great friend and fellow mama, B, joined me on a road trip to Las Vegas this weekend to visit our friend J, who is working on her Master's degree at UNLV. Oh, the fun we had. I won't bore you with the details (like...
  • how we ate sushi and Thai food all weekend, or
  • how B lost $2 on the slots, or
  • how we both drooled during our fabulous massages, or
  • how we loved the Bellagio fountains and cursed the time we wasted at *and trying to find* City Center, or
  • how when I asked for a script M on my big toe instead of the usual flower, my Ethiopian pedicurist scribbled a black M that looks like a tick).
I'll just say that the theme of the weekend was allowing ourselves to let go and relax. And I shall now demonstrate our success at this task with the following story.

In the hallway near the elevator on the 10th floor of the hotel where we resided, there was a narrow table with a mirror above, and two leather chairs on each side. The table was not centered on the wall, which B and I immediately noticed. You see, we both tend to be Type A individuals. Yes, yes, I know this is quite shocking to you readers who know me (or us), but it is indeed true. And not only did we notice that the table was not centered on the wall, this fact bothered us immensely. We were about to walk over to the table and center it, but there was someone walking down the hall and we didn't want to lay our quirks out there for all casino-land to see. So we walked past the crooked table just that one time. We would fix it next time.

But, you see, every single time we walked by that blasted table, there was someone else in the hall. Usually just one person. What were these single hall monitors doing in OUR hallway? The answer is clear. They were there to prevent us from falling off the wagon. The wagon of "letting it go and enjoying our vacation without giving into our obsessive need to fix things." Bet you didn't know that wagon exists. Well, it does.

So as we ascended the elevator to the 10th floor at the end of our misadventures on our last night in Vegas, we said to each other, "This is our chance. The last chance to fix that table. We have been patient enough, and we've walked by countless times without giving in. But not this time." So when the elevator doors parted, we walked out to find the table, still crooked. But, to our surprise, there was a pair of teenage girls lounging in those leather chairs! We took one look at the sentries, sent to guard the table that had taunted us for 4 days, and we burst out laughing. Those poor girls will never know what their decision to sit in those chairs meant to us, the Type A girls who were forced to let it go and relax.










Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Haircut

"I cut my hair."
"You only cut one hair?"

Do you remember participating in this clever banter with your friends as a kid? Well, it's nearly true in the punk's case. He had about three hairs hanging over his ears on each side, so my great friend Shanel volunteered to clean him up after she cut my hair.

He was a little concerned...


... but he sat (relatively) still.


Especially after Shanel gave him a very fun comb to hold.


He didn't even freak out when she used the "tickling" clippers.


Shanel also thinned out his duck tail and gave him a nice, clean hairline.


Looking good, Punk!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Before & After: The Punk's Room

I know you're going to be heartbroken when you see what we did to the punk's room. Brace yourself. See this lovely pink wallpaper border?


This homey accent that almost invokes the gag-inducing fragrance of old lady perfume?


We... gasp!... Tore it down. Well, this phrase might be a bit misleading. "We tore it down" makes it sound much too easy, like we just grabbed a corner and walked around the room holding the wallpaper, which just came off in one smooth, intact strip. This may be how it happened in our dreams, but this is not how it happened in reality. We were hoping the whole project {taking down the cursed border, touching up any holes in the walls, and painting the ceiling and trim white, and the walls taupe} would take one day to complete. Silly, silly Bells. The punk slept in his portable crib in another room for 4 nights. Four nights of less-than-stellar sleep for the punk, which resulted in interrupted sleep for the punk's mama. That's me.

In order to get the pretty pink border down, we had to take razor blades to the walls. We scraped the top layer of the paper off, one inch at a time. Then, when our shoulder muscles (deltoids, if you will) were sufficiently burning and screaming, we sprayed the under layer, the part that sticks to the walls, with wallpaper removal spray. {Note: This spray claims to work on all layers of the wallpaper at once, but alas. This spray lies.} Then we scraped the softened underlayer off the walls, and then wiped the gooey blue spray from the walls and ceiling. After that, we puttied any holes in the walls, sanded them down, and then painted everything.

Please note, when I say we, 95% of the time I mean the man. The man did most of this while I entertained our offspring in the other room.

And now I present to you the finished product:


We also replaced this frilly light switch cover


... with this plain, uninteresting cover.


The punk thanks us every day for his living space makeover.

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