A Memory

I think it was the summer before my junior year in high school that I didn’t really put much effort into playing the trumpet… I had played since sixth grade, and had never had to work too hard to have a good sound and play decently.

At this point, I think I had taken it a bit too much for granted, and so practicing had dropped quite low on my list of activities the summer before junior year.

I had also just spend a chunk of the summer studying in Spain, so my focus was more on Spanish – a subject I did not study in school – than on preparing for August chair placements for band.

My brother picked me up from the audition/chair test – he was an alum of the school, and so had spent a bit of time looking around while we were doing the test – and drove me on his motorcycle to a dance class.  I wasn’t taking the dance class, but I was working the welcome desk for it, in exchange for a free group class of my choosing later on… I also had the added benefit of watching this class happen, and learning from the seated sidelines.

Basically, I was focused on doing my best to live frugally with dance, because I was all too aware of my family’s financial situation – well, my mom’s side, anyway… my dad’s was a different story, but I functioned with the mind of one with extremely limited funds, so that’s why I was spending hours of my time working the welcome table at dance classes, in exchange for a ten-dollar class…

Anyway, so I rushed from the chair test to the dance class, loving the first ride on my brother’s motorcycle – while simultaneously being terrified(!) – and had asked a classmate to send me a text message with the results, when they came out in another ten or so minutes.

I was placed absurdly low in terms of capability…, and it hurt my spirit a lot.

But, I imagine, it was entirely valid based on the amount of practice I had put into it all.

I had begun this with a certain incident in mind, but I am not wondering if that incident was even that year… I am beginning to think it was the following year, my senior year, that this incident happened…, but I’m really not sure.

I shall continue with the incident, nonetheless…

So, I was placed after this one kid, who had become a semi-distant friend of mine.  We sat side-by-side five mornings a week for 45 minutes, and chatted here and there, so we were comfortable with one another’s company, but we didn’t spend time together outside of band, right?

Anyway, I had liked being in the Jazz Band, and you had to be placed so high in the count of trumpets in order to be included in the Jazz Band each year.  I had placed one below what was included in Jazz Band membership.  So, I initiated a challenge.  The two band directors each picked a selection of our current music, and told us to prepare to play those and any two scales that they would say at the challenge.

The day of the challenge arrived.  I played beautifully for the selections, and my sound quality was stellar.  The guy had incredibly powerful sound, though with a very odd and un-musical edge to it all, as usual.  The scales they selected, naturally, involved playing really high… something which I was not great at doing, but that usually didn’t matter at our area in the chair placements (higher notes for higher chairs), and I could play the ones that popped up in our music… what’s more, this kid and I played off the same sheet and stand, meaning the only difference, if I were to win the challenge, would be that we would switch chair spots, and that I would be in Jazz Band when it started up, but he would not be in it.  In terms of performance in the band, nothing would change.  Nonetheless, they picked scales that were hard for me, and I made the decision to play beautifully for a single octave, instead of iffily on the second octave… one I had been taught by the band director himself.

We had assigned ourselves the letters of A and B.  When the challenge finished, the directors came out from behind the wall, an area from which they had not been able to see us during the challenge.  They told us that player A had won, and who was that?  The guy wasn’t quite sure which letter he had been, and so looked to me questioningly for help.  I, processing much more than the result of the challenge, informed him kindly that he had been player A, and so nothing was changing with our chair rankings.

What was I processing?

Well, the way the band director had delivered the news… He had put on an air of unknowing, as though he hadn’t known who player A and player B had each been.  I had only been on the planet a teen number of years, and had minimal musical training,  – he had had probably more musical training than I had had in years of life itself – yet I could tell the difference in almost every player in our band, especially the trumpet players.  And he played trumpet, too, so I knew that he knew each of our individual sounds.  Especially between this guy and myself, the identification was easy… even for someone who had never heard us beforehand, one could accurately guess whose sound was which.

So, I knew the band director knew who had won… yet he pretended not to know, to be utterly unaware of who had been which player… It felt like he was proving a point to me, that I needed to practice more… no matter how good of a sound I had, if I didn’t improve further, I couldn’t even beat the nice guy with a weird sound.  I had taken lessons from the band director during my freshman year, but had been able to manage on my own eventually, and so we did not continue the lessons after a while.  For me, no matter what his intentions were, his pretended ignorance of who had one the challenge was like a slap in the face and a terrible scolding… I was embarrassed and somewhat heartbroken.

I had let someone else down, too…, not just myself.  I knew that he had wanted me to be in a higher chair placement, and that he had wanted me to be in Jazz Band.  But he was not going to let me do that without putting in a lot more effort.

Again, that is all my own interpretation at the time.

But it still holds about the same, looking back on it all today.

The irony of it all, however, is that, when Jazz Band started up that year, the band director casually upped the number of trumpets in Jazz Band… by one player.  So, I ended up in Jazz Band, anyway.

The following year (Or the year after that, depending on which year this had all been during), I ranked even lower in the chair placements at the end-of-summer chair test.  After several weeks of Jazz Band rehearsals, someone was sent one day to bring me into Jazz Band… so, I ended up in it then, too.  I was clearly good enough for Jazz Band – I even practiced that music, including when I didn’t really need to practice it, because that music came so naturally and easily for me – and the band director agreed with that sentiment enough that he kept letting me be part of it, even though I didn’t ever do well with the whole ‘practice on your own over the summer’ thing.  During the school year, I was always fine, and I always got A’s on my playing tests at grading periods.  It was when there wasn’t a concert or performance coming up, and I wasn’t surrounded daily by musicians and music that I struggled to practice and perform well.

I’m not entirely sure what brought all of this up today… I am reading a book about poetry that was recommended to me as a novelist/writer, because it is supposedly applicable to all forms of writing (which, the author even says this in the book, and it seems so far to be entirely true…, but it makes me want to write poetry now, too!).  Something in that got me thinking, and somehow sent me to that memory moment of embarrassment after the chair challenge with that guy.  I wonder if he even remembers it… if any of them do.  Clearly, it had some significance for me… whew…

Anyway… I’ll let that muse in the background, while I move on to other things in my day now. 😉

Post-a-day 2020

Maybe it’s just for me

I don’t know what it is, but there is something about riding my bike on the highway through the cold, winter evening weather that makes me want to arrive home to my husband, have a little romp fest with him, and then snuggle up to a movie and hot cocoa by the fire together.

And, I mean, it isn’t exactly a sexual thing – riding my bike through the cold isn’t an erotic experience or anything.

It is kind of like how a cold winter day just kind of makes you want to snuggle close to a warm mug of hot chocolate or apple cider… only, when riding my bike on these days, I just want to have the little romp fest first, and then snuggle up under blankets with the warm mug.

Just as the hot chocolate just sounds like the perfect next step to the day, so does this little grouping of events sound for me.

Granted, this is Houston, Texas, so we won’t often have fires going anyway, and, besides that, I don’t exactly have a husband at the moment (or anything like one), so my scenario isn’t exactly plausible…, however, the cold weather and wind just somehow make it seem like the perfect way to continue on in the day.

Perhaps, somewhere down the road, that will be the way I end each chilly day of winter.

For now, though, I just smile at the slight irony of the situation and utter oddness about its existence in the first place, and then I feel the chill start to sink into my skin under my ski suit, and suddenly feel slightly sick, my stomach ebbing toward forcing out whatever might be at that moment within its uncomfortable, tightening confines…

Anyway, so that was my afternoon, eh?

How was yours? 😛

Post-a-day 2020

It’s biking freezing out there

We are at 3°C right now.

It will be at approximately 1°C when I am traveling tomorrow morning… both times.

Add with the wind chill, and it will be well below freezing for me while riding.

As I said tonight to someone about my bike, it’s 300cc, so it can go reasonably fast… Which makes an unfortunate Catch 22 on days like tomorrow… the faster I go, the faster I get out of the miserable weather… but the faster I go, the more miserable the weather…

Basically, it will be miserable tomorrow morning… and my mom forgot to bring me the ski pants tonight, so it will be even more miserable than expected… ::sigh

I kind of wish I could stay home and snuggle with my big teddy bear for the rest of the week, but I’m actually really excited to be doing the teaching I’ll be doing this week and next, so I want to go to school… I just wish there were a warmer way to do it. 😛

Post-a-day 2019

Just chillin’ after work?

How do you spend your afternoons and evenings after work?

Napping in your chair at your desk, because you hear rain and thunder (despite a stated 10% chance of rain)?

Followed by finally leaving after you awaken, accomplish some more work, and hear that the rain has stopped?

Followed by stopping for gas just in time for a torrential downpour, with extremely strong winds blowing in varied directions, shooting sheets of water every which way, on three-minute increments?

Which leads to just sitting on the ground, already soaked in your jeans, semi hiding behind your bike as wind/rain protection?

Followed, finally, by a release in the rain that allows you to resume being soaked by it, but that is safe enough for driving again, and so you head home super cautiously, get super soaked, and arrive he to blue skies and no rain, because the clouds have pushed through so quickly, but flooded street sides and driveways bottoms?

Despite a 10% chance of rain?

Yeah, that’s about how I spent my afternoon and evening today, too.

😂

And this was after the initial explosion

Post-a-day 2019

Saturday

(I’ve decided to share about Class 101: the laughing out loud class, instead of 100, so that’ll come next week.)

I went to the workout this morning, and it was rather uneventful but that my friend and I finished second in the workout, and there were a lot of people there today… we just found a beautiful way to get through the push-ups, and it worked perfectly – when other people seemed to take forever on the push-ups, we slammed through them quite quickly.

After the workout, I practiced and improved my double-under jump roping, and was glad for it.

I then went home and made a spice cake from the grain-free/flour-free zucchini brownie recipe I’ve been using, but this time used cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and ginger instead of cocoa powder… and it was delicious.

I discovered that I have no interest in going to Minute Maid Park, due to their security requirements that prevent me from having any form of protection, as well as a reusable water bottle (even empty)…, and so I did not go to the Astros game to which I had been just invited.

I did go to a house party – not the jammin’, drug kind, but the friends hanging out together kind – instead, and it was wonderful.

However, on the way to the party, on my way to stop at the new grocer to pick up plates that were requested for the party, I found myself at a stoplight next to car crammed with young guys (adults, but still younger than I am) who clearly had just played a soccer game together – the matching jerseys and sweaty hair kind of gave that one away.

As I turned and saw the front seat guys looking my way, the back window rolled down, and three faces looked out at me, smiling.

“I like you’re scooter.”

Ha…, “Thanks.”

“Does it go fast?”

I shrug, knowing fully that their borderline joking comment is about to choke them, “I’ve gone eighty on it,” I say, quite casually.

Their eyes pop open wider than one could have imagined, and their mouths opened wide, ready to catch some flies…

Eighty?!

“Mmhmm… It’s a big scooter, 300ccs,” I add quickly, smiling, before driving off, for the light has turned to green.

At the next stoplight, the car pulls next to me again, the back window still down, the boys smiling bigger than ever.

“Long time no see,” they laugh together.

I laugh and smile broadly.

“Do y’all know where the HEB is?” I ask, having just been wanting to be able to ask someone (which was why I had even looked over to their car in the first place).

“Yeah! It’s on this street,” one says, pointing forward and to the right side a bit, confirming my thoughts.

“Okay, thanks!”

“Are you going grocery shopping?”

“Can you put your groceries on there?”

“Are you going to carry groceries on that?”

“Do you need help?”

The sudden rapid fire of their near-simultaneous questions knocks me back a tad, and makes me smile and chuckle even more than I already had been doing.

“Yes, I can carry groceries, yes, I’m going to the store now,” – “Really?” – “and no, I don’t need help.”

I then drive off again at the newly green light, and see them take off not far behind me.

As I slow and pull into the HEB parking lot, I both see and hear them passing me one final time, saying a few more positive comments that make me laugh (though I do not at present remember what exactly they were – I was focused on the turn and figuring out the parking lot and watching out for stupid people in cars in the lot, but I remember that they were pleasant comments of well-wishing).

I enter the garage fully chuckling fro the hearty spot on my belly, lips super wide on their glorious, teeth-filled grin position – I just had my first fanboys, I think to myself, and smile all over again.

Post-a-day 2019

A+

Well, I did it!

I did a fabulous day filled with fabulous 90° turns, both from a standstill and moving, as well as a bunch of fabulous other maneuvers.

I went a bit wonky on the sharp u-turn part, where you can’t put down a foot on the test, but I did everything else wonderfully, and passed the exam, with commendations from the teacher.

Have you ever known someone who was really good at something, but who was only just starting out?…. and the person was so good that you wanted to see him/her pursue it further, because you could just see how amazing that person could be at it?… I’ve had that every so often with students, and I encourage them to stick with whatever it is, because I can see the natural inclination of awesomeness at the subject matter within them, and I want the world to benefit from that awesomeness, as well as the student….

Well, today, I got to be that person, that student. (!!!)

After the class, the coach was telling me how I was such a good and natural rider, and that a bike just seemed to suit me, I did so well with it, and, what’s more, that he felt I really would do well getting a motorcycle instead of getting a scooter (the scooter having been mentioned this morning at the start of the class)…

He was actually disappointed to discover that I already owned the scooter, because that meant I wouldn’t be getting a bike anytime soon.

And, truly, I was really a bit honored by his compliments.

He said that, while he tried to give the guys in the class a fair time, he put me first on just about every exercise – and I noticed how he would use one of their bikes to do the demonstration, and then line it up in a different spot, so that person wouldn’t go first in the group, and he would encourage me to go near the front…. then, after one round or so, when e would stop us briefly to talk, or have use move to a new location, he always had me as first in lone – because I was the best in the class.

Wow.

I mean, I felt this way a bit myself, that I was doing best overall, but I had no idea it was something worth sharing with me nor that there was such a difference in performance levels, and that mine was quite so high….

It was a really cool feeling… especially when I got the paper to show that I can have the M endorsement on my license now and forever more… that part was really cool for me. 😀

Watch out, World – I’m coming in bright red, European travel gear again!

(And I am thrilled!)

Post-a-day 2019

90° into the future

Last week, my only struggle in the motorcycle training course was making a 90° turn while looking in the designated direction.

Funnily enough, I was so paranoid about messing up the turn and dropping the bike or something while I was looking left (for a left turn) and couldn’t see directly in front of the bike anymore, that I always ended up cutting over the inner cones… aka I was scared of hitting the outside ‘wall’ of baby cones, that I made the turn even tighter than it needed to be..,

Seriously, Banana?

Apparently so… haha

And so, tomorrow is the final day of the course… I have already passed the knowledge test/exam for the M endorsement on my license (M for motorcycle, even though I own a Vespa, not a motorcycle – a very powerful Vespa, of course), and I have passed the first few stages of the riding portion of the licensing exam, the skills test.

Tomorrow, I have the rest of the skills to learn and to do well, including that 90° turn that is genuinely the only skill that has me concerned… everything else is so natural for me, and I have done probably all of it before (we had dirt bikes when I was a kid)… just not a 90° turn while looking so far to the side (it makes sense, of course, in terms of safety regarding not having other cars show up out of nowhere, but I always want to watch the road a bit more than they like for the test, even on my bicycle [Yes, I checked how I do the turns on my bicycle this past week, and I do a back-and-forth head turn thing on my sharp turns.]).

Therefore, I am thinking longingly of a set of fabulous 90° turns in my near future (tomorrow morning, to be exact), and safe, genius diving for myself.

So, here’s to a wonderful night’s rest, and beautiful day tomorrow, and passing my licensing skills test tomorrow morning: Cheers! 😉

Post-a-day 2019

Tomorrow

I am driving to another city early tomorrow morning, so that I can view and examine and, possibly, test drive a scooter…

My hope is that the scooter be perfect for me, and that I, therefore, purchase it and bring it back to Houston with me.

I will have to take my motorcycle safety course, and purchase a cover and lock before I get to have it at my house, but that’s okay – it will sit in the garage of the family friend who is meeting me in a truck to go pick up the scooter in the first place, and he is extremely trustworthy with anything motorcycle related (and scooters are related, like cousins from Europe).

I am nervous to go to bed, because tomorrow will be here sooner, so far as my conscious kind is concerned, and the excitement of today will have ended…, but tomorrow will be perfect, for whatever reason, in whatever way it happens… of course, I am biased in the direction of this beautiful scooter becoming my friend and coming home to Houston with us… yep…

Anyway, I have my alarm to wake me at 5:35am, I think, so I really need to giddy up and go to sleep now, seeing as how it is almost midnight already.

And then, after we get back home, I have to do muscle testing at the gym, to see what maximum weight I can lift doing a certain motion, now that we’ve completed an eight-week cycle focused on building strength…, so I have to make sure I have proper energy and food for that tomorrow evening.

On that note, I bid you a wonderful night. 🙂

Post-a-day 2019

Passion for Fashion

Located at 227 5th Avenue in Brooklyn, New York, is a little shop by the name of St. Hrouda.  Walking inside, one will find a combination boutique / art gallery, managed by the fashion extraordinaire Nicole Bell.  St. Hrouda’s walls are chicly lined with art and clothing from local artists and brands, including, my particular favorite, those made and designed by Nicole Bell herself.

Though I was in Brooklyn this past July, I have not yet seen this wonderful boutique/art gallery, because it has only recently opened its doors.  When Nicole first took over the space this fall, it was a somewhat drab and old-looking little shop.  Within weeks, she and her father, through their combined genius, had put together one of the most classy spaces I’ve ever seen (even in photographs).  The before and after photos of the space showed how true a transformation had taken place, and they actually had me wanting to jump up and down to celebrate the amazing results.  It is now the bea-U-tiful space of St. Hrouda, named for Nicole’s grandmother, and housing brands from New York, Australia, Denmark, Mexico, Paris, London, and LA, while featuring, of course, Nicole Bell.  And the gallery portion of St. Hrouda displays art by local New York artists (including, again, art by Nicole Bell herself), all for sale.

49900386_834904630185769_5367168287597658112_n

On a regular basis, Nicole hosts a ladies’ night at St. Hrouda – from which I always see photos of wine and fabulous personal styling sessions (Think of what Becky Bloomwood does with her customers in the Sophie Kinsella novels) – as well as a variety of other events and pop-up shops/parties to help integrate St. Hrouda into the beautiful community surrounding it.

fullsizeoutput_46b2
Photos of the Grandmother Hrouda who inspired the name, along one of the walls of St. Hrouda

Now, let’s talk for just a minute about the amazing, spectacularly inspired fashionista behind it all: Nicole Bell.  I recently had the opportunity to visit and interview Nicole in her work studio in Brooklyn, just weeks before she began work on opening St. Hrouda.  Nicole is From Houston, Texas, and, only a handful of years ago, founded her fashion brand Nicole Bell.  Nicole herself is a goofy yet stylishly sassy woman who is taking on the world with long legs and big, brave strides.  She never fails to put a smile on my face when I am with her, and her determined outer self never hides the truth of what it really takes to be successful in fashion – life is hard, and making it in fashion is even harder.

SONY DSC
Nicole Bell of Nicole Bell and St. Hrouda

Nevertheless, fashion is her passion, and so she is going for it with all she’s got (and then some she’s still figuring out)!

Every time I see a Nicole Bell outfit, my inner Lady Gaga whoops with joy and longing – Ooooh! I want! I want! it always seems to shout, over and over, not unlike a little kid begging for ice cream.  Nicole’s designs are impeccable and utterly breathtaking on the powerhouse female front.  When I picture my BA* self taking on the world in heels, she’s wearing Nicole Bell.  And the world is looking on in awestruck astonishment. 🙂

Do yourself a favor, and give my interview with Nicole Bell a listen.  I learned so much about the fashion world, as well as how Nicole comes up with her individual designs and collections/lines.  Her sense of gratitude to those who have contributed to her journey thus far – as well as those who continue to contribute and show their support – is clear, as well as her almost unreal dedication to sharing her eye and inspiration with the world through fashion, despite the many, many hardships that have come with her endeavors and that still lie ahead.  Nicole does not have it all figured out, and that is just part of the beauty of exploration involved in furthering her passion for fashion.

Screen Shot 2019-02-06 at 2.41.33 PM.png
Nicole and Khaleesi, her baby boxer, @st.hrouda

The talk these days is all about getting to know the people behind our food and our clothing  – Buy local is a regular mantra (alongside Know your farmer and Made in the USA, in efforts to support quality products and fair trade, respectively).  The woman behind this shop and clothing line is definitely worth getting to know.  Especially if you’re in the New York area, give Nicole Bell a solid look – she is local and well worth the visit.  And, even if you aren’t in the area, look her up anyway – she’s that good.

When you find yourself interested in learning about the glories, trials, and tribulations of pursuing a love of and passion for fashion, give our interview a listen.  If you missed the link above, click here to listen to the interview I did with Nicole!

Definitely check out (and follow) her Instagram accounts for St. Hrouda (@st.hrouda) and Nicole Bell (@nicolebelldesigns) – the photos and videos on there inspire me just about every day.

fullsizeoutput_46b1

Notes from the interview:

The photographer Nicole really loved from the skate park is Nico Nordström, found at http://www.niconordstrom.com/

If you prefer regular websites (or want to buy something), check out www.sthrouda.com and www.nicolebell.co.

Check out Nicole’s 2018 New York Fashion Week show here – it’s awesome.  Just scroll down a bit on the page that opens for the video.

*Bad-a**, for those who don’t know

Post-a-day 2019