Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Monday, June 26, 2006

Enter the Alchemist Cats

It has suddenly occured to me that I have yet to introduce the Alchemist Cats.

Pierre came into my life nearly two years ago. His life began in Columbia, South Carolina, where he was found living out of a dumpster behind a bar in Five Points. He loves to have his tummy rubbed and to be held like a baby. Pierre's interests include butterflies, mozzarella cheese, and corrugated cardboard.

Puck and I met when he looked like this:

Now he looks like this:
I have a sneaking suspicion that I'm going to wake up one morning and he is going to suddenly be the LARGEST cat in feline history. Puck sometimes sucks on my shirt, like he's nursing. It's completely gross, but I feel so guilty for taking him away from his mom that I can't punish him.

Former Alchemist Cat, Drusilla, has moved on with her life. Like Demi Moore in that second Charlie's Angels movie, Drusilla used the Alchemist Cats to achieve her own agenda: pure, unadulterated EVIL.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Amadou et Mariam

Today Amadou & Mariam performed at Stern Grove. I tried to link the words "Amadou & Mariam" and "Stern Grove" so you could see what the heck I'm talking about, but to no avail. Alas, thwarted again by technology.*

There is something about African drumming that gets to people. All people. Standing on the side of the stage, I had the unique perspective of looking out at 12,000 people going completely crazy. There were the children who had stripped down to their underwear and were flailing around as though they were possessed. High school kids stood awkwardly in groups, bobbing their heads and trying too hard to look cool. Two old ladies in straw hats and cardigans swayed back and forth, waving their arms and clapping on the wrong beat. Staring out into that gyrating mass was incredibly powerful. Having spent two years in a West African dance company, I completely understand the call of the drums. It somehow gets inside you, replacing your heartbeat with this indeniable mass of sound. It is impossible to not get caught up in the pulse, impossible to prevent your body from responding.

As I watched, however, the thing that moved me most was the presence of Amadou and Mariam. Amadou and Mariam are a married couple from Mali. They were both born blind. They speak only French. They would shout out commands to an audience that couldn't understand them, and who they could not see, and yet it was as if everyone was linked somewhere in the deepest parts of their souls. It was the kind of feeling you have where there's a tightness from your heart to your stomach, a feeling that is as emotional as it is physical. Hearing my San Francisco peers screaming out these intensely primal French words is something I can never describe to you, no matter how many words I use. Instead, here are the pictures.

*Thanks to Malia, this is no longer an issue. Until next time. ;-)

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Too Much of a Good Thing

I have never thought of myself as "getting older." Never have I considered myself as an adult. I think it has something to do with the fact that I've never had a real full-time job, and I've been a student all my life. There's a degree of freedom in refusing to accept one's adulthood. Sure, certain parts of my lifestyle have started to feel a bit taxing. Living in a one bedroom apartment with two roommates, for instance, is highly overrated. However, I've never really felt that my age was a disadvantage.

Until last night.

When I chose to get really drunk for absolutely no reason.

And then spent the next 12 hours vomiting.

More times than I can count.

I never really drank that much in college. Sure, I went out occasionally, but my tolerance was always so low that two drinks had me under the table. I was poor enough to appreciate being able to get drunk off of five bucks, and boring enough to be satisfied with just maintaining a moderate level of drunkenness. I never experienced a hangover until my 24th birthday, which was also the first time that I consumed more than four drinks in a single evening. And the first time alcohol made me sick. I've had a few more negative experiences since then, but last night/this morning takes the cake.

I have therefore made one of my first ever truly grown-up decisions: I am taking a sabbatical from alcohol. It turns out that there really is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Summer shearing

I am the queen of hair trims. This is a result, I think, of the fact that I didn't have a haircut from third grade until my senior year of high school. In college I had sporatic haircuts, generally disappointing and occasionally disasterous! In grad school, however, I discovered the miracle that is the gay male stylist. I would sit myself down in Joe's chair and say "Joe, make me beautiful." Joe was, by the way, not his real name, but he was well-known from the world of Latin soap operas, apparently, and didn't want anyone to know who he was. I'm still not sure if I believe this, but the man was a wonder with a pair of scissors. After my first appointment with him, I was a goner. My poodle-like hair was immediately transformed into manageable, stylish, and even DESIRABLE! After leaving Houston, I met my current love, Matthew. Matthew sports a truly awful mullet. I sometimes feel like it is a requirement as a male stylist to have horrific hair of your own.

At any rate, ever since my sophomore year "pixie cut" (which ended up resulting in a full two years of bad hairdays as it grew out) I'd been growing my hair out gradually. I'd cut a few inches off here and there, but it was getting progressively longer... until today. Today I decided it was time to add some excitement to my life. Nothing major, but enough to remind me why I love getting my hair cut.

There are several things I love about new haircuts. I love catching myself in a store window and feeling startled. I love the weightless feeling of my head immediately after a lot of hair comes off. I love the surprising feeling of the wind hitting the back of my neck. My favorite is running my hands through my hair and feeling the blunt ends, the shock of my hair ending before I expect it to. This is especially noticeable in the shower. I love turning my head quickly and feeling it swish around my face unencumbered by my shoulders. And the first time I put on a shirt or scarf and don't have to pull my hair out of the collar.

New haircuts also make me look for other ways to change my appearance. Tattooes always seem critical after haircuts. I haven't ever gotten one, but I'm starting to think more and more about it. More on this some other day.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Weddings are in season

For many people, June 1 marks the beginning of summer, the time to dust off the bikini and head to the beach. As a young-ish professional musician, my June 1 landmark is a little bit different: the official start of Wedding Season. Every weekend I pull out my flute, zip up my trusty black trousers, strap on my high heels, and head off to another wild and crazy day of "gigging." Whenever non-musicians (primarily of the female species) discover that this is how I make my summer living, the response goes something like this:

Friend: You mean, you get to go to a wedding every weekend?

Me: Yeah, sometimes two or three.

Friend: Wow, that must be so much fun!

Me: Oh, it's cool. But I never know anyone in these weddings. I'm just the hired help.

Friend: But you get to see all the weddings! I'd love to see that many weddings! Weddings are the greatest! Blah blah weddings. Weddings blah blah blah. Blah blah weddings blah blah.

Don't get me wrong. Playing for weddings is a pretty sweet job. I get paid a fairly impressive sum of money for very little time. But it does has its disadvantages. The most notable of these? The BRIDE. Brides are a funny thing. You take a sane, intelligent, pleasant woman, put a diamond on her finger, and schedule an event she's been waiting for her whole life, and she instantly becomes the Creature From the Black Lagoon with a tinge of Crazy added. Some of these ladies want the strangest things. For instance, the bride of Today's Wedding requested that her prelude music include our flute, vioiln, and cello trio playing "I'm So Excited." Which would have been awesome and kind of hilarious. Except that it required me to locate, and PURCHASE, the sheet music for "I'm So Excited." Which I would then own. Forever.

Other odd requests include one from a bride who was getting married under this really old, amazing tree. She wanted us to play the background music while sitting. In. The. Tree. Need I say more?

Friday, June 09, 2006

Drive-by texting

One of the greatest parts about my name is that it generally places me as the first entry on every friend's cell phone contact list. This means that I receive a wide array of random voicemails and text messages from people I haven't talked to in years. The voicemails are usually from someone's purse or pocket, unidentifiable voices mumbling unidentifiable words. Occasionally, however, my phone trills happily that a text message has arrived from one of these long-lost comrades. I open my phone, press a button, and read "Will walk dog and be over shortly." Or "Need you to hit a homer today." Or my all time favorite: "Having bathroom problems, can't go dancing."

These little notes are like snapshots into my friends' lives. They are also fantastic surprises, always unexpected, usually full of the kinds of details I miss when I don't live near someone. Sometimes I text them back, just to let them know they've made contact. Usually, though, I save these small remembrances of my past so I can look over them again later. They serve as a reminder of where I've been and that we're never alone in where we're going.