As I sit here, cringing at how people partner dance to this live country western music, I wonder what I must do that makes a master of that area of life cringe…
As I sit here, cringing at how people partner dance to this live country western music, I wonder what I must do that makes a master of that area of life cringe…
I started ukulele lessons today. It also included a reunion and a brief lesson on Hawaiian, the language, which were both a fabulous bonus.
I’ve always had a sort of passive affinity for Hawaiian culture – that wonderful island life, about which I knew almost nothing. I was almost afraid to go to Hawaiʻi, for fear of finding that the wonderful world I’d imagined was no longer in existence. After living in Japan, even being in the countryside, I have learned the sort of balance that likely exists in the culture today. It is like cowboys in Texas. We have our big buildings and fancy cars and billboards, but you can still find, here and there, the true tradition. Sometimes, it is only seen in ceremonies. And sometimes it is part of someone’s everyday life.
My brother, though he rides and owns no horses, spends his days working on his land. Physical labor in jeans and surrounded by grass, trees, and animals is his life most days. And he grew up in the city. There are plenty of others who grew up living his kind of life, and who still do the ranching on horseback. Inside our city limits, no one would guess that that kind of life is just beyond our little area. The average person wouldn’t even cross it knowingly, if he went driving outside the city, either. You have to know how to find it. And that’s just how Japan was… When I think of Hawaiʻi now, that’s how I imagine it must be to a certain degree.
Anyway, ukulele is fun. I started it back in Japan, because I was lonely and didn’t have music in my life. Plus, Hawaiian culture seemed to be prominent in Japan (the reasons for which I hadn’t understood at first), so ukulele seemed an appropriate way to bring music into my life while in Japan. I even took a few hula lessons. (Yes, they were awesome.)
Actually, what really spawned my desire to learn hula and ukulele – not just the casual interest with which I first bought the ukulele, but the real desire that got me into lessons for hula and then, finally, for ukulele now – was a film. It was based in Hawaiʻi, and the caucasian daughter, maybe about 14 years old (I forget), did hula. The way she moved her arms in the dance had me gazing, melting, it was just so beautiful to me. Watching her dance, I had something happen within me. I guess, because she was not Japanese or Hawaiian, but like me went through me head… I was able to see hula differently. It was, at last, something that it was acceptable for me to do.
I had seen Japanese friends perform wonderfully, and plenty of other Japanese women I don’t even know, too. But their close ties to Hawaiʻi made it okay for them to do it. It was regular and standard for them to be doing hula. But what – it isn’t “right”, but something like that, “reason” perhaps – reason does a German-heritage girl from Texas have for doing hula, without an extreme, intense love for it?
Maybe this is just my own brain that had me stuck in this thought process, but it just didn’t make enough sense to me to feel comfortable with pursuing hula. It felt to me like visiting a religious building for a region to which one does not belong and about which one knows very little. It isn’t that the person is not allowed. Not at all. It is just that the person can feel a little lost and uncertain when visiting, and so it can be difficult to visit in the first place, without having a sort of invitation. That’s kind of how I felt about hula.
And that movie helped alter that for me. I started attending hula classes whenever I could, and began somewhat seeking out a ukulele teacher.
Eventually, nude in a hot spring bath in the mountains, I found one. And now, almost a year later, we finally are in the same country and with the same currency (that was the issue before), so we can do lessons. We aren’t anywhere near one another, of course, because I’m in Texas and she’s in Hawaiʻi, but it’s going well so far. Playing together is a bit weird, because of the lag, but I’ve worked with it for years with other things, so I’m somewhat accustomed to being slightly ahead of the beat and to hearing the clash of notes and timing, so that it sounds good on the other side. All-in-all, it was fun, and I look forward to the next lesson next week. 😀
So, go listen to a ukulele song today, and think of me, yeah? 😉
P.S. Icicles were crashing outside my window during our lesson today. And this is Houston. How cool is that?! Or warming, I guess…
Tonight, going to bed, I feel fulfilled. Typically, I have this feeling of needing to go do something before I can end my day. I am angsty and somewhat agitated by the late afternoon, and I feel this pull from somewhere inside of me, but I can’t ever quite figure out how to follow it, how to satisfy the desire within. I notice right now that I almost didn’t even feel a pull to write anything tonight – that’s how satisfied I am with my day. It was fabulous, and so I can sleep easily, without anything else happening first. And I love writing, so that’s saying something.
Kids were unintentional rude in classes today, ignoring my pleas for quite voices, so that I could be heard with my pained, achy throat barely able to choke out words. I let them spend the time with an activity for their own benefit, and most of them ignored it or didn’t care enough about their own education to attempt the activity, which was disappointing. A few really took it on, and some decided it was time to talk with me about anything and everything in my life, while I showed them how to do some of the work. It was an odd balance of awesome and disappointing, combined with my throat being slightly consumed by a low-grade fire.
After school, I chatted with a few teachers from my own high school, plus a friend who now teaches there. That was amazing in and of itself. Add to it that I met up with a friend for tapioca tea afterward, and my day continues to improve. We ended up having dinner with the teas, and then she invited me to join a hip-hop class with her. Neither of us has ever been very good or experienced with hip-hop, but we love dancing, and we both have strong partner dance backgrounds. I have wanted to do hip-hop classes ever since my best friend and her husband started doing some over in England a few years back, because she is just plain awesome, and it is always a good idea to strive for her level of awesome. So I got to be cool like my bestie tonight, and turned out to be actually kind of good at the routine, too. The teacher even came specifically to my friend (not my best friend, but the friend with whom I had gone to the class) and me, and told us that she wanted us to join her team. (Note: Seeing as we were just discussing before the class how we hadn’t been involved in anything dance since moving back to the US (we both just returned from living in Asia), we are genuinely considering this hip-hop team idea.)
Now, I am home. I snacked on some leftovers from dinner, chatted briefly with my mom, and have just showered. I am tired, but in a really good way right now – I am satisfied. I don’t know how else to word it. I am just satisfied, which is something, I now see, that I usually am not at the end of the day. As I said to my teacher friend earlier this afternoon, I need interaction with non-teenagers. I get so much teenager interaction, and very little of anything else… and I need more than just interaction with teenagers, no matter how wonderful they are or how much we may love one another. And, tonight, I got that other interaction, plus involvement in something (the hip-hop class) and exercise. That is a really, really good combination. Now to see how to keep this up, happening much more often than once every three months.
In high school, a friend convinced me to go to a Benny Benassi concert with a small group of friends. It was the three guys and my best friend and I. It was my first time going to a club with friends who weren’t dance friends, but just regular friends, and I think it was my first club concert experience, too. Whatever the case, it was an exciting night for me, and for the others.
We had arranged for everyone to sleep at my house that night. It wasn’t ideal, but it was our best option. My best friend and I had to be up early for graduation the next morning (Yes, our own graduation), and the guys had to leave a few hours later, when my mom was heading out to come to our graduation. So, the guys were getting more sleep than we were, but not too much more. (Their graduation wasn’t until the Sunday morning.)
At the concert, we all had a great time. It was my first experience of noticeable public smoking of marijuana, which was oddly neat, finally seeing that world, but in a safe environment, and where it wouldn’t affect me in any way. But the best part of it all was the dancing.
Being trained in something is cool and all, but being able to be free from the training, and just do my own thing is always way fun. It was a blast just dancing around without concern, surrounded by friends. Okay, we did have a concern for space at times, but we were really good at getting people to spread away from us, so we had our space to dance comfortably.
In the later dancing, however, came the unforgettable part: My self-given challenge. You see, my friend Victor had worn a sideways baseball cap, and that apparently was enough for me to devise myself a fun little challenge to get as much off of Victor as possible. The key challenge was to do it without his noticing.
I think the others each found out about my challenge at some point or other – heck, I think the idea partly sprang from their suggesting I try to steal his belt. (We were not being sexual about it at all – it was totally surface level fun… just so we’re clear.) And so, we all knew, and Victor had no idea that anything was up.
After a great time of dancing and cheering and whatnot together, we all were ready to head home. Walking in the parking lot, after exiting the club, not one of us comments on what I am wearing. Victor, however, looking down at himself, practically exclaims suddenly, “Woah! Why does my shirt only have two buttons closed?!”
We all keep our silence as we struggle not to burst with laughter. After what felt like forever, but likely was only a second or three, Victor figures it out. (I think it was a combination of our telling him and his realizing bits on his own.) in addition to my own clothing, I am wearing Victor’s hat and belt. And I was so close on the button-down he was wearing – there were a million buttons on it, and I had all but two undone. I believe I also had his wallet, and possibly his car keys. And he had no idea about any of it.
For whatever reason, I was proud of my accomplishments. Being stealthy took skill, and I was proud to have had it in abundance that night.
Yeah, that was a good time. 🙂
I bruised my pinkie toe today, it seems. It might actually be fractured, due to the style of pain, however, the impact didn’t seem to have enough force behind it to have caused a fracture, which is fortunate. Sitting here on my bed at my mom’s house, thinking about how that happen today, has me recall the last time something similar happened while I was living here.
I was on my way to Worlds, as we call it in the community. “Worlds” is short for United Country Western Dance Council World Championships. (See? “Worlds” is easier.) And it is relevant that I tell you the full name of the event. I promise. I had participated in and scored high enough in other events throughout the year in order to qualify for Worlds, and I was incredibly excited. It isn’t every day that one competes for a world title, and it isn’t even in every life, either – this was an honor and a privilege, and I was ready for it.
Therefore, when I managed to hook my toe underneath me on a stair as I rushed back downstairs after having run upstairs one last time to grab something small that I’d forgotten, my mind was reeling with concern. I was in extreme pain, and I curled up to the floor, crying, holding my foot, barely even able to make contact with the toe. I almost couldn’t think straight, or even at all, such was the disturbance. “If I just broke my toe, I can’t dance,” was about what I said to myself, asI was curled up around my toe. I prayed in a way that I didn’t know how to make selfless, and I also prayed that that would be okay for this occasion.
I realized, as my brain power began to return to me, that my fear and concern was compounding the intensity of my crying, and that the physical pain wasn’t quite so bad as I’d been thinking. Yes, it absolutely hurt, but a large part of any impact’s pain is the initial set-in, going from comfort and ease to pain. That is, it hurts really badly at first, but then calms after the initial shock, and then the pain begins to subside exponentially.
And such was the case. The extreme pain was real, but was not the full cause of my tears – I was dreadfully worried that I wouldn’t be able to dance, and all for that pair of socks, or whatever it was I ran up the stairs to grab. My toe continued to hurt for a while, – maybe even the rest of the day – but it was doing well by the time my day to compete came around. I have been forever grateful that my toe was spared and my dancing was blessed.
If you win at Worlds, you get a specific jacket, and your name is embroidered on it. I still have mine. 🙂
In this book I’m currently reading – okay, it’s an audiobook, and I’m listening to it, but you get the point – was a comment by the narrating character that rather struck me the other day. She was talking about some date she’d had (or something like a date, anyway), and, though it seemed there was potential for another activity of some sort next, she had decided to leave. She said, “I wanted to leave while everything was perfect.”
At first, I felt as though she was simply setting herself up for missing out by not going and for delusion by thinking that dates (or more of whatever it was) needed to be always perfect. And then I considered my immediate responses, and discovered that I disagreed with both of them.
When I really began to consider her comment, it gave way to what felt like brilliance. Yesterday, I was at a goodbye beach party. There had been an option to rsvp for an overnight stay after the official party, and I had initially declined this option. I wanted to sleep in my own bed, and several other factors helped me pick that easily. However, once at the party, I found that I didn’t want to leave so soon. I began exploring the logistics of staying the night, and found that there was possibility of enough space for my joining the party.
As I recalled my book’s character’s words, however, I began to think in a different manner. Yes, I am loving spending time with everyone right now. If I left now, I would be leaving while everything is perfect. If I stay the night, what will happen? And I instantly saw the probable, almost certain future of the situation. I would stay, thinking I’d have enough energy to manage the night, and then eventually would hit a wall, want to sleep, not be able to get to sleep because of the partying people, get annoyed at the overly drunk partiers, and have a miserable end to the party. Whom was I kidding here? I would rather leave while everything is perfect, than stay until I’m furiously agitated and starting to hate the people I was currently loving.
And so I left a short while later, had a wonderful time riding home-ish (same train, different stops) with the group of girls who were leaving at that time, chatting and joking and having an overall wonderful time together (as I already mentioned).
And the party as a whole ended perfectly for me. It was just plain cool to have had the party go so well.
Tonight, after another beach day with a different friend, we had planned to go to this awesome salsa party, with this Grammy-winning DJ and various salsa performances and live music for social dancing – it’s a big deal party celebrating the anniversary of some club, essentially. And it was only like 20 bucks to attend, which is way cheap for such a thing here in Tokyo.
When we arrived back to my friend’s place, and I had showered from the beach, I began to consider that line again. Could I “leave” while everything is perfect? Could I just go to bed now and not go, and be happy with that? The answer was a resounding “Yes.” I had been exhausted all day already, and am far behind on sleep for this past week – I want sleep. I love dancing, and I love cool opportunities like this, especially to attend with friends. And the risk was incredibly high that I would grow to exhausted, smoking would be too intense for me in the club, music would be too loud for my already existent headache, and I would be crying (possibly literally) to go home and drink a bunch of cool water and just go to sleep.
So, I stayed home, and it was perfect. Now, I am off to some much-needed and much-wanted sleep. Goodnight, World. I’ll see you when my head feels great again in the late AM.
Long story-ish short: I think it is a very valuable phrase, “I wanted to leave while everything was perfect.”