Monday, December 31, 2012

Is an artist an expert? A discussion of High School and Drums

I've spent time trying to become an expert, and I really enjoy the feeling. In high school I wanted to become a drummer. I took the only lessons I could find, at a local music school, from a fantastic guy. His first lesson to me was 'forget Ringo, you need to listen to Steely Dan'. He taught me how to hold a stick, and how to listen to the drummer and not just the singer, he taught me how a drummer is supposed to be. I learned respect for the craft from him, and no matter where I go if I see a drummer playing I give him my full attention as a result of the time he spent teaching me.

I remember one day I was waiting for my lesson to start, and I had been sitting outside, tapping my left foot for half an hour. Just tapping, trying to build up my calf muscle so I could play the high-hat really, really well. A weak left foot means a weak sounding k-TSHHHH and I wanted it to be STRONG.

I had practice pads at home and a drumkit, but I couldn't play my drums at home because it bothered the neighbors. Something about living in an apartment building made it impossible no matter how many pillows I stuffed into the bass drum. So instead, I hoofed downtown to a practice space that was mostly used by the local bands. My memory of the place is a little hazy but I do recall that there wasn't really a bathroom so much as a urinal in the hallway. Yeah, eeew.

I paid a few dollars to the scummy guy at the counter to use the drumkit in one of the rooms (always a piece of junk, but at least it was LOUD) for an hour. The rooms were supposed to be soundproof, but when I wasn't pretending to be Larry Mullen, Jr. I could hear the metalheads banging away next door and the In-Living-Color wannabees around the corner. It was really, really great, and totally worth the time. I closed that door and I was a rockstar!

After a time (a year or so, I think) I stopped lessons with the music school, and started taking a class from a guy at NYU. He was really focused on technique, and we worked quite a bit on reading music and jazz drumming. One time he took me to the Bitter End to see him and his friend's band play. It was a great, great night full of weepy bluesy singing and loud times. And amps. Big, big amps.


I really wanted to be good, I really wanted to be in a band. My first band was a group of girls that liked to play Deep Purple and compare each other's bra sizes. We called ourselves Crimson Tempest (yeah, Steely Dan influence). Oh and I was the small one, comparatively. :) We played a few practices together and sang and had fun. That was all until they kicked me out - I'm sure I deserved it since I've blocked the memory of why they did.

I was in another band (the Keys) with some close friends, and we really had a great time but mostly spent time writing songs. I still have them locked away in a box, friends! I can get them out anytime you want!

I tell myself that one day I'll play drums again. We'll see. I think I was close to being a really good drummer, and one day I'd like to be there again.

Have you ever gotten really good at something? Did you consider yourself an artist, or an expert?

Friday, December 28, 2012

I'm just a girl

If you don't want to read anything negative, stop reading now and go back to one of my other posts. But before you go, here's a picture of some cute fuzzy tiger babies.

I'm Just A Girl

I'm a fan of american football, and I love to watch games and root for my favorite team (the Buffalo Bills, yeah, I know). I realize that I'm not the target audience for most advertisers that use these shows to sell their products. However, it still burns my muffin when I see ads like this one:

Don't you really want a beer, now?  :)

I know that most/all alcohol ads objectify women. That doesn't mean I have to like it. Seriously what does a beer and a woman have in common? The first woman, wearing a brightly colored dress, smiling and laughing,  is being derided for the following traits mentioned in the ad. She's :

(has less) character
(has less) style
less taste (no, wait, I think that last one was just about the beer)
and of course, has blonde hair.

Haven't we had enough of the blonde jokes, folks? Seriously is this the way folks talk about beer to each other?

The fact that both women (actually, all women in the ad) are well-below average weight and well above average height is what I expect from a TV ad. But this ad is laughable, I can almost see Mel Gibson's character from 'What Women Want' writing this ad. I can't find the clip online but it was the bit where he was trying to bluff his way out of a meeting for selling women's products by talking about using a woman showering in the tropics.....

Yeah can I just say ugh.

Any television or movie ads that you've seen that have pushed your buttons the wrong way? What about them?

Monday, December 24, 2012

Great Classic Movies

I have an ongoing love affair - with movies.

The other day I tried to explain why they call it 'netflix' to my 5 year old. They used to call them flicks, because in the early days of movie projectors the images would flicker on the screen. I'm not sure my explanation really worked but it reminded me of my college years.

See, in college I studied films and television, and I would have minored in film studies had it not been for ONE class that was only offered every TWO YEARS.....not that I'm resentful, it was a really good program and I learned a lot about how what we see is created and not just 'filmed'.

These days with two kids I don't really get to see much in the theaters, but I do try to watch as many classics as I can. I'm of the opinion that these movies were great once, maybe they are still great, and I'd like to find out.

Some movies I've seen this way:

- The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (fantastic! truly holds the test of time)
- Easy Rider (yeah, not so much. didn't really connect with this one)
- Roman Holiday (I'm a fan of that cheesy romantic comedy 'Only You' and this movie is mentioned and likely used for some inspiration. Roman Holiday was better, and hey, y'know, Gregory Peck. :)

Have you seen a movie from before your time, that you loved? That you hated?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Working at home

I don't go into my company's offices every day. I work full time (and consider myself pretty lucky to have a job these days) but 4 out of 5 days a week I work from home.

This is a really ideal way for me to work because of how my brain operates. I'm very easily distracted, so the days when I'm in the office go something like this:

7:15am - This is great, I forgot how nice it is to have all this technology right here. It's so quiet and a great place to work.
7:55am - Working hard and in the 'zone'.
8:01am - Huh, what's that? What, what's that? It's everyone arriving at once in high heels and clicky shoes! (which is not the same thing as slick shoes). This one is getting coffee, this one is having breakfast (munch munch) this one is talking on the phone all about the traffic getting in this morning.
8:15am - Starting to get back into working...
8:45am - Huh, what's that? Oh that's my office mate talking about personal stuff on the phone. That's my other office mate starting up this morning's round of conference calls.
9:00am - Oh, it's snowing, here's the walk-by discussions about the weather, here's the telephone calls about when folks will be getting home from work, if they will be leaving early.

Yeah so for me, working from home is ideal.

What about your work situation? Anything about it you really like, or really don't like? What's one thing you would change about your work environment if you had the ability?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Cognitive Empathy

According to the video that inspired this blog, cognitive empathy is looking at others and seeing through their eyes. Seeing their "world view, their beliefs, their fears, the experiences that shape how they look at the world and how they look at themselves. "

The Wikipedia page has a few other definitions.

I'm adding my voice to the internet in an effort to view the world through others' eyes. I share with you in the hope that you will share with me, and let me see things as you do.

When I was in grade school a sparrow was hurt in our playground, and some kids were standing around it in a circle. My memory of the day is a bit hazy but I don't think they were teasing it, just not sure what to do with it. I picked it up and, with the help of a teacher, nursed the bird to health. I remember carrying it in a box with a sweater. I remember getting it water to drink. I remember people telling me that it was okay to touch the bird because it wasn't dirty, like a pigeon. I remember it was so light and fragile, and yet, so calm.

I wasn't there the day that my teacher released it. She told me later that the bird flew away quickly, and seemed happy to go.

Often times when I think about the feelings I have about animals I think about that bird, and that day. I definitely felt something toward the bird, but if it wasn't for the help of others and their understanding of why I wanted to help the bird, I wouldn't have been able to do anything to make an impact on it's life.

That's kind of how I think of this blog. The more I know about you, the more easily I can understand and support your decisions, and maybe the more lives I can touch.

Come share the discussion here through the comments, or join us on facebook.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Staying Positive

Thanks to everyone who has contributed so far to this blog, through your comments and support. Please keep it up!

There are things in my life that I do when I'm happy, like doing yoga on my Wii FIT, hugging my family, or dancing. When I'm sad I might watch a really good romantic movie, like French Kiss, or a really bad one, like Only You. I might eat bad food, like instant Ramen. I'm pretty sure that chocolate counts as something I do when I'm both happy AND sad. :P

I actually find it amusing to catch myself doing one of these things and realizing HEY I must be feeling GOOD today, why else would I be Vogue-ing in the kitchen?

What do you do when you are feeling good?

Friday, December 14, 2012

Pets and Animals

We have a pet chicken, her name is Lucy. I've wanted to own chickens for a long time, and about a year ago we took the plunge. She was just a teeny reddish brown chick at first, such a precious little bit of fluff. She also peeped a lot. Here's a photo of Lucy when we first got her, eating out of her food dish.

Here's a link to a video of what reds look like as chicks, so you can see the cuteness and hear the peeps for yourself.
She's got a nice coop and a place to run around in our backyard, here's a picture of her with our other chicken, Kooky.

What I love about having chickens is watching them around the yard. I look out the window and I can see them in their coop or, on some nice days, scratching around the house. They like to scratch and peck at the ground, flap their wings (they can fly short distances, if they need to) and walk. When the leaves are on the ground they push them aside with their beaks and claws to get to the bugs underneath. Watching them do this is funny, you see FLOOF FLOOF the leaves getting tossed in the air and know they are doing their work. Did you know, they eat fly eggs and ticks? When they peck at the ground, their tails move as a balance to the rest of their bodies, which gives their bodies kind of an up-down-up kind of motion.

I love just owning chickens, taking care of them, listening to them coo and cluck, and seeing how happy they are when I give them a treat. It's such a nice, calming, happy feeling.

They are a beautiful breed; we have Rhode Island Reds, which means they have brown feathers with red highlights and white pins. Here's a breed photo so you can see what I mean.

Sad story; a few weeks ago we lost our bigger chicken, Kooky, to a neighborhood dog. The dog was just being a dog, and we don't know which neighbor the dog belongs to. She died pretty quickly but it was still a horrible thing to watch and so sad. I wish I could have stopped the dog, but I know this kind of thing is inevitable. She had a good, happy chicken life, with a nice warm house and plenty of food and drink, and that's comforting.

We've got room in the coop, so we're likely going to get a few more chickens come the springtime. Chickens are social animals, and we know that Lucy is pretty lonely now by herself. Hopefully she makes it through the winter all-right, and then she'll have some more company.

Please tell me about animals that you've connected with.

Thursday, December 13, 2012


Yesterday was all about family. Today, I'll tell you a little bit about the places I've visited. I've not traveled very much (yet):

USA and Canada: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Maine, Florida, North Carolina, New Mexico, California, Niagara Falls, Toronto



UPDATE #2: I think North Carolina was very interesting, for the food. I've had both really good food experiences there and really bad. The really good food was a vegetarian meal at, of all places, a traditional meaty BBQ. I had side dish after side dish and it was totally amazing.

The really bad food was at a wedding; they served us paper cups of kool-aid and dried out tiny cakes. Eeew.
Where have you traveled? What was the most interesting place you visited, and why?

UPDATE #1: A friend of mine who flies his own small plane shared this with me. I think this is a great way to see the world. He's flown as far north as Nashua, NH and Ra-ra-ra-Rochester, and as far south as Ocean City, MD. I wonder what Nashua, NH is like? According to Wikipedia it's the second largest city in the state.

"a Google Map that has a marker for every airport in my logbook. I've been other places, but I don't think getting to any of those was as much fun."

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

About Me

I've been thinking about this video, that I saw the other day, and it made me think about how connected I am to people. How connected I *think* I am, and how connected I could actually be.

I realized that regardless of whatever positives and negatives I see in facebook one thing is clear - through reading my friends posts (and their friends posts) I'm finding out more about the people I thought I knew. Their fears, their lives, their desires. Plus lots of cat pictures. :)

This made me want to find out more about the people I know; more than just what they are sharing in a post or tweet. I know why we are friends or family, what I don't know is what about them is really, really different. I'd like you to tell me what makes you different from me.


Here's me!

I'm forty years old.  I live in New Jersey. I have two kids, ages 5 and 1.

I have a happy marriage to my husband of 11 years. I have a chicken for a pet.

What makes you different? For this first post, tell me something about your family that is different from my family.

Thanks for joining me on my empathy journey!