Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Second Chance

I played the violin for 7 years. Between 2nd and 9th grade I fancied myself a fiddler. I enrolled in the public school system in the 5th grade, this was the grade students had the option to join either band or orchestra. Since I had already been playing for 3 years, I was the closest thing to a virtuoso my little 5th grade orchestra had seen. I could play THE SHIT out of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

So, all throughout the 5th and most of 6th grade, I was the top dog. I was the best by default. If you challenged me for first chair, you got your ass handed to you. I could out play you with my eyes closed and one arm tied behind my back. Oh that's right, I could defy the laws of physics and play the violin with one hand!

But this all changed when my orchestra mates began to hold their own and my early exposure to the instrument mattered less and less. Also, I hardly ever practiced. There were 2 girls in particular that rivaled me for 1st chair 1st Violin. We were constantly duking it out for the coveted spot and each of us probably spent an equal time on top over the course of our junior high orchestra career.

Then came High School and the game changed yet again. We were now playing with a large group and a lot of talented upperclassmen. That year the Drama department produced "Fiddler on the Roof" because one of the seniors was good enough to BE the fiddler (BTW - I was cast as Grandma Tzietle and totally rocked it). When I was told that I had made first chair (!!!) SECOND violin (???) I was torn. Seconds play the harmony, not the melody - so it's not nearly as fun. Still, first chair wasn't something to shake a stick at. But, for all intent and purposes - the second violin part is usually easier than the first... I felt like a failure.

So I quit at the end of the year. Or rather, I didn't join back up my sophomore year. Tomato Tahmahto. I thought I was too cool for Orchestra. There were several reasons why I didn't continue. All of them, I felt at the time, were REALLY GOOD ones, but none of them matter now. Or maybe they never did????

The holidays always tug at my heart strings. It's all the music. Last November I was going through my annual nostalgic period for playing... I even missed holding the darn thing, not just playing... when I met a friend of a friend, Ingrid - a real cool German chick with a PhD in music studies - who encouraged me to pick it back up again.

The week after Thanksgiving I found myself at KC Strings renting a violin and buying "Christmas Extraordinaire for Beginners," a book full of the classic Christmas Chorals. I kept telling myself that it would "be just like riding a bike." I'd immediately be able to read the music, know where my fingers were suppose to land and I'd pick up just where I left off 12 years ago.

Uh, let me just put it this way.... Twinkle Twinkle Little Star totally made me its bitch. While that might be exaggerating it a bit, needless to say - it wasn't pretty but I stuck with it. A few weeks later I had come close to "mastering" all the Christmas Chorals. A month after that I had moved on to beginner concertos. Who knew that practice made perfect?!?!??!

Ingrid had mentioned that there were probably community orchestras in the area that I could join if I ever wanted to play again. Sure enough I goggled "Kansas City Community Orchestra" and found the Kansas City Kansas Community Orchestra. I sent an inquiry email and was told just to show up and the director would put me somewhere. I just hoped that that "somewhere" wasn't the hallway.

My first rehearsal was the groups first week back after nearly a month off, so the room was hectic and loud. There were a handful of new people, the director was pointing them to where they should sit. He finally gets to me, sees my violin case and says "Our second violin section really needs more. Would you like to play second violin?"

"I would LOVE to play second violin!!!"

And sure enough, I do!

ps - we have a concert a week from TONIGHT (Oct. 7th). Let me know if you want to attend!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Natasha and The Amazing Technicolor Molar

Right before I lost my job last summer, I went to the dentist. And apparently I brush my teeth with sugar-paste, because I had a few cavities that needed to be taken care of. I had NEVER had one cavity before. I scheduled a follow up visit, but I lost my insurance, so I canceled and wouldn't return until I had coverage once again.

I knew it was risky to ignore the cavities, but I couldn't afford the fillings on my own. I figured lots of Listerine and diligent brushing would stave off further decay. None of the cavities were painful, so I told myself I had some sort of built in "buffer." Until they started hurting, I could ignore them. Totally rational. Then one day I felt something abnormal in my mouth. A quick flick of my tongue - something wasn't right. Part of my back molar had fallen off. Unemployed with teeth breaking off. It was a high point in my life.

But it didn't hurt. So I kept with the obsessive rinsing and brushing with the hope that I'd have dental insurance soon enough. No additional teeth broke off and my mouth wasn't a black hole of decay and rot by the time I landed a gig with a dental plan, so I figured "good job me" and re-scheduled my Dentist appointment.

Since I'm not completely delusional, I braced myself for the worst verdict, and sure enough the doctor said I'd need a crown on that back tooth. About 2 hours and 12 needles later, I left the dentist with a temporary crown on my back molar and a numb and droopy left side of my face. I was tired, in pain and felt like I looked like Anthony Hopkins in "Legends of the Fall" after his stroke. I couldn't stop the drool running down my chin.

Later that evening, after a long nap and pain meds, I made eggplant curry. It was GOOD.

The following day, while washing my hands, again, I notice something abnormal in the back of my mouth. Unlike 3 months prior when I had FELT the abnormality, this time I SAW it. I took a closer look, and sure enough, something was WRONG.

The Turmeric from the curry had turned my temporary crown BRIGHT NEON YELLOW.

I bet you're thinking "yup, that's a bright neon yellow toof" but let me assure you that this picture does not do justice to the radio-active glow that omitted from the back of my mouth.

Thank goodness this was in the back of my mouth. And temporary.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

YOU pick

Two separate interactions with co-workers this week gave me pause. Both exchanged momentarily stunned me; because while I had fully understood what they were saying/doing I was also literally paralyzed because I wasn't entirely sure how to respond.

The First

The first was while I was making my salad for lunch. Something I do 4 days a week. I am fairly confident that I have a nickname around the office centering around my daily salads like "Veg-head," "Salad McLettuce McGee" or "That chick that eats a fucking salad every fucking day." So, needless to say, this is my regular lunch routine.

Where was I? Oh, ok, I'm making my salad and someone comes up to me says "Hey, can I have some of that?" With half a tomato in one hand and a knife in the other, I look up at him and could only get "uuuuuh???...." and point to my bowl of lettuce and half chopped pile of vegetables.

"Yeah can I...???"

"Have some of my lunch???" I ask him.

My boss, who has witnessed the entire scene play out, walks away laughing and burst up when she rounds the corner. "Her SALAD!!!" I hear her cackle.

The Second

Chatting (via IM) with a co-worker about totally work related stuff then it takes a "knotty" turn. (Paraphrased)

Me: blah blah blah... computer settings! yadda yadda yadda Software Testing ROCKS!

Her: So... Boyfriend? Girlfriend?

Me: Neither.

Her: You go girl! You're an strong, smart, independent woman and you don't need a man! Except to reach things up high.

Me: That's why I bought a step stool!


Me: :)

Her: So, I have someone I could send your way. He's super nice. But....

Me: But?

Her: How do you feel about ropes?
Like handcuffs.
I know some weird people.

Me: Have you read "The Marketplace?"

SOOO... can't decide which was more bizzare. My vote is for the guy that asked me for part of my lunch WITHOUT even offering me half of his pb&j.

Monday, September 20, 2010

One Cool Cat

My opinion on pets runs identical to my opinion on children; I love other people's. Just because I don't care to have my own doesn't mean that I dislike animals, but I prefer to be a fan from afar. Now, don't tell me to "not knock it until I've tried it" because I've had a pet or two and I guess I was never in a place to be a good "pet-rent" (New word???) because I didn't really enjoy, on a whole, the experience.

A few weeks ago my maternal grandmother was placed into a nursing home which left her cat homeless. Without going into the sordid affairs that surround my grandmother's story, my mom was held responsible for this cat. After all avenues were exhausted, she finally (in her very own endearing, passive way) asked me if "I knew ANYBODY that could take care of a sweet old kitty in the new apartment that they're moving into. All by themselves." That's a direct quote (almost).

I cracked. I folded. I was bribed.

And that is how I came to be a "pet-rent" to Sammy Davis Jr. And YES one of his eyes is a little Wonky.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me!


I have multiple birthdays, both literally and figuratively. I have two birthdays, but spiritually and consciously I think we have all experienced multiple moments of radical paradigms shifts, whether subtle or subtle like a sludge hammer, that re-birth our self.

If you want to be a smug son-of-a-bitch about it, I only do have the one actual day of birth, but, even that gets kinda tricky to explain. I was born on November 8th, 1982 in Isfahani Hospital in Shiraz, Iran.

My Iranian father met my American mother in 1972 while attending the University of Kansas City. After they were married in 1978, they moved back to my father’s homeland and started their own family. My older sister came along right at the height of the Iranian revolution in 1979. I didn’t want any part in it (the consummate diplomat) and didn’t come along for another 3 years. Yadda, yadda, alli babba…. out comes a bouncing baby girl with a full head of hair.

Remember, remember the 8th of November.

Because you’ll ask in a minute – I do not know the when, I’m not 100% clear on the how and only slightly in agreement with the why, but my father altered the date on my birth certificate. On every single piece of legal, binding and/or official documentation, my birthday DOES NOT READ November 8th.

When? Not sure. A day after I arrived? Two days after? A couple of weeks or months down the line because he thought I was too big for my age and didn’t want others thinking I was part giant? I don’t know. I do know that it happened before April 1983 when my mom, sister and I left Iran for America to be reunited with my father in two years time.

I have it on good authority that my mother’s exit of Iran occurred with much less drama than the film Not Without My Daughter. Too Bad. A damn shame. My mother’s only chance for the Oscar that I spent my entire junior high yearning she had hidden in her closet and the one I spent hours rummaging through her things looking for.

How? He paid somebody. Don’t let the sand, camels and goats fool you, Iranians are just as crooked and opportunistic as fat, pasty Americans.

And that leaves the why? Why change the birthday of your 0 – 6 month-old daughter?

To meet the age requirements of kindergarten, that's why. He knew that I was going to be one smart cookie. He knew that I had to be in school, the earlier the better. He knew I had shit to learn and a whole world to conquer. He knew I’d miss the Iranian kindergarten age limit by a month, so he made me almost two whole months older on paper.

Too bad he didn’t tell me until I turned 16 and was on my way to get my driver’s license, birth certificate in hand. Up until November 8th, 1998 I had a normal, completely acceptable birthday reality in my mind, one that revolved around one lone date.

I loved my birthday. The N’s in Natasha and November were a match; there was a nice sense of order to it. My birthday made me a Scorpio, a sign which I had began to identify with well before I began to steal copies of my sister’s YM magazines, in part to read to monthly relationship horoscopes. November 8th was after the freaks put away their masks and gore of Halloween but before they started their onslaught of Thanksgiving (remember when there were slight pauses in between holidays?). November 8th was all mine. My special day. A day of a fancy lunch at The Olive Garden with my mom and an extended amount of time and budget in the Lisa Frank aisle at Wal-Mart.

I lived for my birthday. November 9th wasn’t the day after my birthday, it was 364 (365, depending) days from my next birthday.

So, now understanding what a huge connection I felt with my birthday (no less, I am assuming than what most of you have with your own), please… please! understand my complete topsy-turvy-who’s-it-what’s-it-what-the-fuck-it moment when I saw, on my way to the DMV, that my birth certificate had recorded my date of birth as September 16th.

So, happy birthday to me.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Cough. cough.

You know that pleghmy, dry, hoarse, crackly, whisky tango hack you have to clear from your throat after muttering "hel-" first thing after waking up some morning before finishing "-lo?" This cough is usually preceding a night of drinking or smoking or drinking AND smoking? Or being 80 years old? You know... THAT coughing sound? My blog just made that sound.

::clears throat::

Hey youuuuu guuuuuys!!!!!!!! How's it been? Since 97% of you actually know me, I don't have to do a lot of explaining of where I've been and what the heck has been up. Suffice it to say... shit has gone DOWN and I have not been keeping record of it. People got married! (not me) People are having babies! (not me) People are moving! (this one's me!!!) And I'm tired of saying "I miss blogging." Because the only thing more lame than keeping a blog about one's mos-guided adventures of young single lady life... is to MISS blogging about it. Sad.

So, to catch you up to speed - Liz is a mom to be! Brooke and Rob got married (yours truly presiding over the ceremony in the back booth of Gilhoulys) and I'm moving to an adorable apartment a mere 4 blocks away.

Ok, I know, I know that doesn't actually catch you up with all that's been going on - but that's all you need to know for the foreseeable future. But right now I am going to go finish my cocktail on my porch and watch the huge thunderstorm roll in and enjoy my last Friday night on my porch.

Oh, and my hair is super short* now. *short for me