Sunday, November 30, 2008

Family Story Five: Emil

The sleeping arrangements at my parents' house are not always set in stone. My siblings and I tend to fight over the best bed, which is in the "guest room," formerly my sister's room (this was before she moved into the basement as a teenager...coolest basement EVER! If only I had pictures available). There's something about the bed in that's a cushy, fluffy queen size bed with no less than six pillows at the head. It's absolutely the first choice. The second choice is my old bedroom, which has a full size bed that's sort of comfortable, but squeaks every time you move. You could drop a Q-Tip on there and it would make noise, I swear. The third choice is the twin bed in Emil's old room, which we've since dubbed The United Nations, due to the giant Irish and Iraqi flags hanging above the bed.

Recently my mother put one of those pillow-top fluffy mattress pad things on my bed, which made it much more comfortable. It still squeaks, but it feels more like sleeping on a cloud, which is very nice. For some reason, Sara and I decided to call it "The Maxi Pad," since it kind of reminds us of one. It actually kind of is one, when you think about it...a protective covering...yeah! With The Maxi Pad set in place, we really had no choice but to name the twin bed in Emil's room "The Tampon." I mean, what could we do?

So a few months ago, my sister and I were visiting Chicago at the same time and were about to spend some time with our parents and brother, Emil. We met at a delicious Middle Eastern restaurant and were enjoying a lovely, mature dinner when Sara and I decided to fill in Emil with what we'd been discussing regarding the naming of the beds. There was some confusion along the way...

Me: Emil, we named my bed The Maxi Pad!
Sara: And we named your bed The Tampon!
Emil: Oh man, I totally needed one of those recently.
Sara and I: ....Wait, what?
Emil: I totally needed a maxi pad the other day.
Sara and I: (silence)
Emil: Yeah, I totally wish I'd had some maxi pads...I had the worst pimple ever...


Oh WAIT! Not a maxi pad! A Stridex pad!

Pads. Is there anything not funny about pads? I don't think so.

Monday, November 24, 2008

I think I have a complex about blogging - something about how I can only blog when I'm being hilarious. But it has been a far from hilarious week, and I'm exhausted, and don't really know what else to write, yet feel compelled to write something. And I've had a few things running through my head for a bit now, so here you go...

From American Beauty:

I guess I could be pretty pissed off about what happened to me... but it's hard to stay mad, when there's so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I'm seeing it all at once, and it's too much, my heart fills up like a balloon that's about to burst... And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it, and then it flows through me like rain and I can't feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life... 

And from Brian Andreas:

She said she usually cried at least once each day not because she was sad, but because the world was so beautiful & life was so short.

And from the Prophet:

Love has no other desire but to fulfil itself.
But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love's ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.

And from my father:

Reemie, I think you have buckets behind your eyes...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Why You Should Come Watch Piano Recitals

One of my students, a girl who is 7 years old, has been kind of naughty lately, and all I can do is laugh. Maybe it's because I only see her for half an hour a week...I'm invested in a lot of stuff, just not too invested in doing much discipline these days.

Earlier this summer, we came out of our lesson and I went to check in with her dad and tell him what we did that day. "Did you have a good lesson?" he asked his daughter. "Daddy, I learned what the F word is. It's F-U-C-K." Oh my god. I totally did not teach her that. "I totally did not teach her that," I said to him. He laughed at me. In a reassuring way. I did not get fired.

The other night, after I ask her what position her hands should go in to play this one song, she says to me "Sometimes at school I kick my friend Sam in the nuts." I have a hard time not laughing, but manage to say to her "Well that seems like it might hurt. You probably shouldn't do that to your friend." To which she replies "What? He kicks me in my nuts all the time. It feels fine!"

In the 8th grade at Hamilton Middle School, the talk of the town between several of my students is a piano song that sounds like somebody barfing. I played it once for one of my kids, and he told another, and they told a billion more, and now apparently it's all they talk about. A classical piano song that sounds like barf. This is what they like discuss in their free time. Have a listen...

The "barf" part happens right at about 46 seconds. For you bandos in the audience that are reading the music (pay attention to repeats), it's the beginning of the 5th line down. There is also a whole ton of barf from 2:43 through the end of the song.

All of these hilarious students will be performing in a piano recital this coming Sunday. If these stories don't entice you to come, I don't know what will. If you are interested, let me know and I'll send you the info.

Yay for junior bandos!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Wave + A Hug = Broken Ribs

Okay. So...I think maybe I have a cracked or bruised one of my ribs. I'm not positive how it happened, but I'm thinking maybe it came from a big hug sort of thing? Where I got picked up off the ground? Suck. I'm pissed.

Anyhow, I laid down on my bed about an hour after this particular hug, after having been at the drink, yes, so I didn't quite notice the pain at first. I knew something felt weird, but I thought I'd just sleep it off. The next morning, I felt this sort of pain at the top of my left ribcage. It wasn't that bad yesterday, but today it really hurts. It's hard for me to sit up after I've been lying down, and it really hurts when I cough, sneeze, or laugh. Needless to say, it's made this weekend a bit difficult...

I thought I'd be resourceful and look up "broken ribs" online. I knew already that you can't do anything to help heal broken ribs. But I thought I'd research anyhow. Apparently, it takes them one to two months to heal, and you pretty much have to just let it happen on its own. Double suck.

Despite the annoyance, I did come across this interesting advice...there are a few words here and there that really puzzle me. I'm wondering if it was translated from another language and there was some kind of glitch that randomly messed up some of the words. "I enjoy been to the doctor?" "clutch it easy?" I don't get it. Check it out...

my mom twisted and she thinks any her rib or something dislocated, she is going to the doctor tomorrow but what do you think they will do??

How long does a sprain bring to heal? I enjoy been to the doctor for that. If you crack, dislocate, or even break a rib, in that is very little to be done. They will not put a style or even a brace on it.. ribs are very concrete to stabilize (every time you breathe, they move) They will probably perscribe an expensive version of ibuprofen (for misery and swelling) and possibly an antibiotic. You simply have to clutch it easy and tolerate your body heal itself. Save your self the trouble, unless your rib is broken and have punctured your lung so that you need emergency attention to detail, there is not much explanation to go to the doctor for this. It may hurt for a while, so only take your ibuprofen - I be told that you can take up to 800mg every six hours. But i.e. kind of alot so I might whip like 600 instead.

What the hell?

When I was on a vacation in Mexico with my parents and brother and his friend Art, I remember being out in the ocean with my father, who is an unbelievably bad swimmer. As in, he cannot swim. At all. The waves got bigger and bigger and one finally knocked my dad over. I swam over to him and helped him up. All seemed fine until a couple of weeks later...

It turns out, he was still feeling a lot of pain, so he went and got an x-ray done. And lo and behold...he'd cracked two ribs and one of his vertebrae. From an effing wave.

Hugs and waves. Really?

On the plus side, I finally got the Exploded Keytar Tshirt from Oddica that I've wanted for about a year. I guess this weekend isn't a total Suck Fest. Yay!


I have to share a letter that Tara's father sent out to some friends after a night of debauchery. Just FYI, he is Wire Nutz and his wife is Fuze Blower. Oh my god.

Howdy All,

As I sit here bedridden recovering from severely bruised ribs, all I can think of is Jimmy Buffet's Wasted Away in Margaretville - "Some people claim that there's a woman to blame". At least that was my immediate thought as I was on my knees trying to catch my breath. While dancing to some amazing zydeco music, Fuze Blower spun me and I went flying into the table holding the Birthday Cake. The table survived, I did not.

I next moved on to blaming the Birthday Boy and his fantastic playlist. It seemed logical to move on and blame the DJ. "But I know hell, it could be my fault."

I briefly thought about blaming the excellent choice of beer (Bells Two Hearted Ale), but I have surrendered to the Zen of Buffet - "I know it's my own damn fault".

The ER doctor informed me that my injury will heal slowly and remain painful for several days. Right now I'm resting comfortably, but the pain pills affect my ability to drive and think clearly. I'm not able to lift anything - I can barely stand. Nurse Fuze is doing a fine job of providing me with care, but I think I'm beginning to wear down her bedside manner.

I look forward to getting up and around again soon. Fuze Blower has recommended that I sign up for one of the classes at the Y that helps the elderly - Balance and Stability Training. Remember it is all fun and games until someone gets hurt.

"But there's booze in the blender and soon it will render,
That frozen concoction that helps me hang on."

On! On!

The Bruised but not Broken,
Wire Nutz

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Pictures from Proposition 8 Protest in Madison, WI

I went to the Proposition 8 Protest/Rally/March/Thing this morning with Jess and Mike - it had been awhile since I'd been at something like this, and I'm really glad I went. I get all full of energy and love and excitement. I should probably do it more often.

Jess and Mike are basically famous now - they were all dressed up (see the last picture) and everybody fell in love with them. Look for them in the Capital Times!

Check out the rest here

Friday, November 14, 2008

My Shit List

I think I started this list about ten years ago - a couple of items have been removed because as I've grown up, I've learned to try new things. With that, cottage cheese was removed about four years ago. Here is where it stands right now:

The Shit List
1. The Eye Doctor/Eyeballs in General
2. Seafood
3. Tapioca Pudding
4. Duck Duck Goose
5. Phone Sex
6. Going to the Dentist
7. Joann Fabrics (aka Joann Stupids)
8. Harrison's Poultry Farm
9. "Careless Whispers" by Wham!
10. Raw Chicken (I will not dignify this with a link)
11. James Fucking Taylor
12. Great Danes

Feel free to add possible suggestions to the list, or post your own! It's good to have a few running lists in your life, you know. In fact, here is a bonus for all of you:

The List Of Things That Are Hilarious In This Really Specific Way That Only My Siblings And I Understand
1. Shoes thrown over telephone wires
2. Tiny Horses
3. Biting into a hot dog and having the hot dog fly out the other end of the bun
4. A rug rolled up with feet sticking out of it.

I can't explain why, but they're all related. They're just so hilarious...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Family Story Four: Cousin Laith

I was reminded of this gem of a story by none other than Laith himself while I visited Chicago this past weekend. To be read in a Chicago-accented voice, adorned by the occasional "okay" or "you know" at the end of sentences...

So I'm traveling back from the Middle East after a long ass flight, and I've got this layover in Zurich. So, you know, I grab some drinks, I grab some more drinks, and am off on my way to the security line, which is like a mile long. So when I get to the walk-through metal detector and the fucking thing beeps, I've just about had it, okay? I take off my shoes, my belt, my watch, everything. I go back and forth, in and out, three times. It still fucking beeps. So they use the wand thing on me. And, of course, every time the man waves it over my crotch, it beeps.

(Now here's Laith doing a Swiss accent): Sir, what for may you have that may be metal?

(Back in the Chicago accent): I don't know, man, I've already given you guys everything I got.

(Swiss guy): Sir, please, what is this may be?

At this point, you know, I'm drunk, I'm fucking exhausted, and I still have a seven hour plane ride ahead of me. And as the words come out of my mouth, I know I should stop them, but I can't. I just can't shut my mouth. So I say to the guy:

Oh, I forgot. You guys don't have these here in Europe. Those are my BALLS.

And I get this horrified look on my face, and everything is silent, and the guy just looks and me for a minute, then waves me on with his wand and says Okay, sir, you are free to go.

I grabbed my shit, didn't even put on my belt or shoes, and got the fuck outta there.

I just couldn't shut up...

Brava, Cousin Laith, you magnificent bastard! Brava!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Bando Is At It Again: The Faces

So, I'm not trying to be creepy or anything. Please bear with me...I'd like to talk about the faces...

I have a fuzzy memory of watching Yo-Yo Ma play live with the Chicago Symphony. I think it was in Chicago...I'm not really sure. But I remember seeing him play and being so emotionally blown away. His face - it's like he's agonized and ecstatic all at once. He's proud and in pain, and straining and hopeful and at peace and barely breathing, all because of the music he's making. I remember him playing one particularly long, drawn out note, his body tilting to the right and one of his feet lifting about 6 inches off the ground. As he gently completed the note, his foot floated back down and rested at the same time he did. As the last note of the composition faded out, he held the silence of the cello and the crowd as if it was an additional note, keeping his bow in perfect position over the string, for about 8 unmoving seconds, and finally relaxed and looked up at the audience. It was only then that the audience could breathe again, and they erupted into applause.

Photo from here

Photo from here

About six or seven years ago, I watched my favorite pianist, Emanuel Ax, play my favorite piece of music in the entire world, Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5 in Eb Major, at a lovely outdoor theater with my father. The music starts with a short piano solo, followed by the orchestra playing without the piano. I watched this short, fat man with a curly gray afro as he finished his solo. He put his hands in his lap, turning his head to the left to watch the orchestra, and I swear, I saw him shake his head back and forth, as if in disbelief. His grin was a mile wide and he switched back and forth from watching the musicians to watching the conductor. I think he almost forgot to start playing. All of a sudden, his hands flew to the piano, and without missing a beat, he began playing. I remember my eyes welling up with tears as the second movement began (my absolute favorite!) and my father waited until the end of the piece to ask me why I was crying. "Is it because you love the music so much?" he asked, smiling gently and kindly and kind of amusedly. I nodded my head and linked my arm in his and we listened to the rest of the music just like that.

Photo from here

This past May, I saw my favorite band, Devotchka, two nights in a row; the first night in Milwaukee with Jacob, Sarah, and Wendy, and the second night with Emil and all four Hodi cousins. I was so glad I went both nights because the first night, I could barely take it all in. I stood near the center of the crowd, about eight feet back from the low-to-the-ground stage. I'd seen the band once before, a year and a half earlier, but didn't know their music as well at the time and had been at the drink way more that night. I was thankful for my sobriety on this particular night; it aided in me obsessively watching Nick Urata's face for the entire performance. I don't think I blinked much...  

From here

I definitely feel that Nick Urata's voice is one of the most expressive I've ever heard. Of course, he reminds me so much of one of my longtime favorites Roy Orbison, who has this perpetual sob in his voice, even when singing about the kind of love that actually works in the end. So maybe I'm biased. But really, I'm pretty convinced that during the recording of the song "Undone" from A Mad and Faithful Telling, he had a slight beard going. His voice is so tired and almost hoarse...I imagine him with a three day beard, having not slept in that time, just trying to sing this beautiful song with his beautiful voice. But that's just his voice. Then of course, there's also his face. Oh my god, his face. He's positively anguished at most times, in addition to looking exhausted, bored, amused, and almost peaceful at other times. I knew I fell in love a little bit when I saw him raise his eyebrows to hit the high notes while his eyes were still closed. I know, I've said it before, but I'm saying it again. My heart is all a flutter just thinking about it...

From here

I do start to get self-conscious and begin to wonder if I do anything funny when I play piano in front of people. While it's pretty rare that that even happens, I'm still curious. I know there's something funny going on with my left leg and foot sometimes, and I often find myself biting on my lips. But I wonder what else might be happening...

One last thing: I have to share this video of Van Cliburn, another of my favorite pianists, playing the Second Movement from the Beethoven Concerto I was talking about earlier. The video was made in Moscow in 1962. One of the main reasons I love it is because they really focus on his face; they don't even show his hands playing for most of it. He keeps his eyes closed for much of the performance, playing so gently and delicately. It blows my mind that he was younger than I am now when he performed this. I honestly believe this is the most beautiful piece of music ever to exist. Just my opinion. But a good one, I think. Watch the video, listen to the music, watch the face. It's like it was almost too painful, too difficult for him to play something this beautiful. Seriously, take a break from making fun of my nerdiness and please please watch this.