The last couple of weeks have been stressful for us, we are moving to a new house and when ever I think of moving, all sorts of images come to my mind; tons of boxes, heavy furniture, and countless useless things that we have accumulated through out the years. Whenever I think of moving, I just want to grab a paper bag and breath deeply – or vomit. I think the problem might be on my DNA; Colombians don’t move often, we stay in the same house for long periods of time. I was 16-years old when we moved for the first time. Since then, my parents have moved 3 more times. I have been living in the US for 9 years and since I landed, I have moved 7 times. My moving rate is of 1 house every 1.28 years! At this point you would think that I have nailed down a moving technique, but no, I still find the whole process to be very painful. From finding boxes, packing and throwing things away, to unpacking and finding new places for all our things. All those hours are painful, just unpacking your clothes and organizing your closet can take forever. The worse part, is the first night you spend in the new house. To walk though the house, opening every box in search for your tooth-brush is priceless. And to add to the drama, this time we have a wild card, or better said, a wild child with us, so we will see how everything unfolds, I guess the important thing is to grab that paper bag, breath deeply and just do it! (Stop complaining).
Since we started this process, I’ve been singing in my head “The Old Apartment” by Barenaked Ladies. I specially like this part:
Why did you paint the walls?
Why did you clean the floor?
Why did you plaster over the hole I punched in the door?
And we did have to plaster a hole in the wall, but don’t worry, nobody punched it. We had to fix something on the electric panel, and the electrician left us with a hole in our kitchen wall. “WHY DIDN’T YOU PLASTER OVER THE HOLE YOU MADE IN OUR WALL?” My friend Meme, suggested to hang a painting over the hole to cover it, and tell the buyer that it is a colombian tradition to leave a painting in the house (for good luck) but after thinking about it, we decided to cover the hole – with plaster. A painting over an electric panel right next to the refrigerator might look suspicious.
“The Old Apartment” reminded me of a Barenaked Ladies album that I haven’t listen to in a long time. Disc One: All Their Greatest Hits 1991-2001. Back in the day, this was one of my favorite albums, and this week I have been listening to it over and over. I forgot how amazing their songs are, and listening to them after all these years brings comfort to my soul, in the middle of all this craziness.
I want to leave you with my favorite songs; a little tribute to a great band, enjoy:
PS: William I couldn’t pull off the comparative analysis between classical music and contemporary rock. I might need to research the topic for a couple of years. 🙂
After a deserved summer break; a trip to the exotic lands of Istanbul, I have returned to my beloved DC. Now, I can go back to my blog and keep writing meaningless articles. I can’t believe it has been a year since my first post and I most say, it has been an amazing experience – I have enjoyed the ride. I feel that writing this blog has kept me from blowing my brain a couple of times. I have discovered that for me, it is important to have a hobby, a personal project I can focus on for a couple of hours and decompress. What is surprising is that this hobby has lasted a year! Anyway,
as I said before, I never thought I would enjoy writing this much and I want to take a moment to thank everyone that reads Listen to This and have given me words of encouragement through out this year. I really appreciate it! Thank you!
Since I came back I have been searching for new music. Sometimes you just want to discover a new sound, a new group, a new album and listen to it over and over… This time my search took a while. I ended up listening to music podcasts for a couple of days. NPR Music has great shows and I most say, I ran into a couple of interesting things:
There is an interview with Manu Chau on Alt Latino. Manu Chau is one of the coolest guys on earth, and this comes across in this interview where he talks about his life, his musical influences and DJs music from his favorites artists. This is the link to the interview http://www.npr.org/templates/archives/archive.php?thingId=128334429&date=9-8-2011 Manu Chau is one of my favorite artist, I’m really glad I was able to see him in concert a couple of years ago, he is a great performer. My favorite song is Rumba de Barcelona. (Check the guitar solo)
I also ran into a Noah and The Whale mini concert: http://www.npr.org/2011/08/10/138615666/noah-and-the-whale-tiny-desk-concert
Finally, Yesterday I found what I was looking for; a new band to love! Blind Pilot is an Indie band from Portland, Oregon. Their debut album, 3 Rounds and a Sound reached number 13 on the Billboard Top Digital Albums chart. The song Oviedo is in this album
Blind Pilot did a bicycle tour in 2008, biking from Bellingham, Washington to San Diego, California, carrying their instruments on custom bicycle trailers they fashioned themselves. They made more than two dozen stops along the way, including Port Townsend, Seattle, Olympia, Portland, Corvallis, Eugene, Coos Bay, Arcata and Santa Cruz.1 I guess not only they are a pretty good band, but they also have good legs!
On September 13th 2011, they released their new album; We Are The Tide. this song was on Song of the Day on NPR
So far, this summer has been great! I really enjoy the long days, the outdoor activities, hanging out with friends, and the frequent visits to my daughter’s favorite place; the pool. However, I will always remember the summer of 2011 as a summer full of family visits and trips. We are so lucky that this year, we will be able to see both of our families. You see, when you are an immigrant or a “Foreign Alien”, your life revolves around the excitement of the hellos and the sadness of the goodbyes. The sad part is that it never gets easier, but the good part is that you do appreciate the limited time you spent with your loved ones.
Since I’m feeling a little nostalgic, I decided to make a playlist of my favorite goodbye songs!
This weekend my daughter turned two years old! (First two years: checked!) Two years go by very fast, specially when you are a parent. Being a parent is a very tricky business, you really don’t know how to deal with a lot of situations, and when you finally think you have figure it out, the baby grows, changes and you have to adapt to the new phases of his or her life. It is truly a rollercoaster of emotions, but it is also the most rewarding thing in the world. Today, however, I’m not going to write about how great (or not) it is to be a parent. Today, I want to write about two things that have been bugging my mind for a while. But first, I want to take a second to tell my brother that despite all the harsh criticisms he has made about my latest posts, I’m going to keep writing. I want him to know that I am a person with feelings, and that the only thing I want is for him to support me… (hahaha)
As I was saying, since I became a mother, two things about this world have been bothering me: Princesses and children’s food.
Princesses: The girls of our time are bombarded with princesses. From clothes, to toys, to books, everything you might need for your daughter, you can find it with a princess on it. Thank you so much The Walt Disney Company, because of your lack of responsibility with the world, the girls of today, will be the most needy and useless women of tomorrow. There is nothing a girl can learn from a princess. First of all, there are only around 5 or 9 real princesses in the world and they have lives full of privileges most girls will never have. Secondly, there is only one Kate Middleton in this world, and she was rich before meeting prince William, otherwise they would have probably never met. Basically 99.9% of the world’s female population, will never be a princess.
I don’t want my daughter to grow up, expecting a life full of luxury, palaces and princes. I want her to be passionate about life, to work hard for what she wants, and to build a life for herself. There is no bigger feeling of accomplishment, than the feeling of have done things by yourself. Princess are weak and focused on their physical appearance. They are always waiting for their prince to come and rescue them from any trouble. There is such disconnect between the princess life and the daily life, that it makes me wonder of the effect these kinds of messages will have on our daughters. Why should they wait for a prince charming to come along? Are there any princes toys in the boys section of the store? No one is teaching the men of tomorrow to behave like princes, that is why relationships are full of misunderstandings; the girl is waiting for a prince while the boy only wants to play with cars… I refuse to buy any princess souvenir for my daughter! I want her to be tough, independent, funny and smart, I want her to be the anti-princess………. more like a cow girl!
Children’s food: A while ago, we took a trip to Philadelphia. We love this city and we wanted my mom – who is visiting – to see it. We have heard of a museum for kids called “The Please Touch Museum”, and we wanted to take our daughter there. I have to say it; if I see an ad on Craig’s List, that says “Come and visit The Please Touch Museum” I’ would probably think it is a sick invitation from a pervert, but don’t worry, it is all legal and most importantly, it is children-safe and very cool! We had a great afternoon there, but when we went to the cafeteria, to order some food, I was disappointed to find out that the only things they would offer (in a CHILDREN’S MUSEUM) were hamburgers, hotdogs and pizzas. Really? A museum for kids and you can not think of a more healthy menu? How many kids eat there daily? I don’t even want to think about it. I’m so frustrated with the children’s menus at restaurants, that lately I’ve decided to order food for myself and give some of my meal to my daughter. it is a win-win situation; I eat less and she eats healthy. Seriously, I rather do this than give her greasy quesadillas, fries and ketchup. After all the research done on the effect things like high fructose corn syrup, hormones on animals, and hydrogenated oils, have on our bodies, it is sad to see that we are still feeding these things to our children. (or ar least offering them)
Thank you for reading my venting session, I really needed to get this out of my system!
Have a lovely day!
For the past two weeks I have been working A LOT! Thanks God it is all over, and now I can go back to my normal life. People deal with stress in different ways, some get very irritable, some very quite, I think I just like to put my headphones on and listen to music. It is the only way I can focus and “relax” – or at least deal with the craziness. It is funny, when I ran into old projects, I can remember the music I was listening to, while working on them. However, for the last couple of months, every time I’m under pressure, my music selection always goes back to The National.
I really love their music! (This is the third time I write about them) Matt Berninger’s voice is amazing and the piano and guitar melodies are fantastic. Their songs change my mood right away… Since I started this last project, I started to search through their albums and ran into a new single they released on March 11 of this year. Exile Vilify is a song created for the video game Portal 2. I don’t know much about video games, the last time I played Nintendo was when Mario Bros came out, many years ago. For those interested in video games, this is what I found about Portal 2:
Portal 2 is a first-person puzzle-platform video game developed by Valve Corporation. It primarily comprises of a series of puzzles that are solved by teleporting the player’s character and simple objects using the “portal gun”, a device that can create inter-spatial portals between two flat planes. The game’s unique physics allow momentum to be retained through portals, requiring creative use of portals to maneuver through the test chambers.
As I said before, I don’t know much about video games…..
While looking though The National’s albums, I also ran into an extended version of their album High Violet, This version has life performances and alternate versions of several songs,
My favorite song these days from this album is Anyone’s Ghost
When I started to write this post, I thought I was just going to write about songs that are impossible to sing. Due to some great ideas from my husband, I end up recording my self to prove my point. To my surprise, I discovered a couple of things, 1. Regardless of all those years of people like RAQUEL R. telling me that I have a terrible voice, now, I can comfortably say: I DON”T THINK MY VOICE IS THAT BAD. 2. I can sing very fast, specially in spanish and 3. There are definitely some songs that are impossible to sing.
To give you a little bit of background; I have always been a frustrated singer. It all started when I was 6 years old, when my music teacher made us audition for the school choir. She made us sing a very difficult song called “El Gallo Pinto”. After we all sang, one by one in front of the class, the teacher called out the names of the girls that made it to the choir. My name was never mentioned, in fact she gave a second chance to other girls and implied that I shouldn’t even try again. Basically there wasn’t anything she could do for me. That was my first rejections as a singer. I guess that my problem is that I love to sing, but apparently, it sounds bad. Friends and family, throughout life have reminded me that I should really keep it to myself.
Despite all the “Honesty” on how bad my voice is, I have never given up. I love singing and I will keep singing until I can’t sing anymore. I know many songs from beginning to end and I enjoy when I can sing a song without skipping any word. However, there are some songs that are particularly difficult to sing. These songs, I have classified in three different categories:
1. Songs with lyrics that never repeat: These songs don’t require great vocals, but a good memory, since there is no repetition in the lyrics. A classic example is “Hand in my Pocket” from Alanis Morissette. One hand is always on her pocket and the other one is either giving a high-five, flicking a cigarette, giving the peace sign, etc. The same happens with songs by the Cure, The National and many other great artist. I particularly enjoy the creativity in these songs,but I have a hard time singing them.
2. Song with notes that are impossible to reach: Only really good and talented artists can sing these songs. Normal human beings can not even imagine reaching those high notes. Aretha Franklin, Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, PattiLaBelle, Freddy Mercury, Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder, are some of the best vocalists of all times. Their voices are unique and inscribed in our memories and souls. As I said before, to try to imitate them is impossible. However, my favorite examples of songs with really high notes are not by these famous artist. They are: “Alone” by Heart and “Little Respect” by Erasure. I really wish – with all my heart – I could sing these songs, but as you are going to hear in a couple of seconds, I can not. I said at the beginning of this post that my voice is not that bad, please keep in mind that I have never claimed to have a good voice.
3. Songs with Fast Lyrics: I love songs with fast lyrics. Here, I don’t want to focus on Rap since there isn’t a single song from that genre I can sing. Not in Spanish, not in English. When I say songs with fast lyrics, I’m mostly refering to rock, pop and alternative songs. Songs that are sang very fast and are very challenging. Songs like “It’s the end of the world” by R.E.M and “Give it Away” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. My favorite song in this category is “One Week” by Barenaked ladies. I have never been able to sing this song, even when I have the lyrics in front of me… To be honest, I have never met anybody that can sing this song completely – except for Barenaked Ladies.
To prove my point, I have made a couple of tests. I challenged myself to sing three “Impossible” songs. The first one is a song in spanish called “Legalizacion” and to my surprise, I was able to sing it! (In all cases I had the lyrics in front of me). The second test is “Little Respect” from Erasure wich I failed, it sounds really bad. The third one is “One Week” by Barenaked Ladies. Failed too, but I lasted longer than ever before….
Enjoy it …or not
These are my favorite songs, that are impossible to sing:
Spring is back! After a very long winter, you can’t help but to be grateful for the longer days, the warm and comfortable weather and more importantly, that you can put away all those heavy clothes and boots. It is priceless! You breath better, you walk straighter and you feel happier. I am a true believer that different weather conditions can affect your mood. I think this has to do with the amount of sun exposure and the fact that you enjoy being outside in contact with nature and other human beings. For a while I couldn’t decide if spring or fall were my favorite seasons, but after a couple of years living in the US I have decided that Spring is the winner. While fall is beautiful, with leaves falling on the ground in amazing orange and yellow tones, it is also a reminder that winter is coming. You don’t know how much I dislike to start putting more and more clothes on, to leave work “at night” and wake up “at night”. To me fall is a reminder that tough times are ahead. You might think I’m whining, and to be honest, I am, but when you are born in a tropical country, your DNA is not used to months of cold temperatures and darkness. Spring, is nature’s way of telling you that the misery is over, that better times are coming ahead and that once again you made it through the nasty winter! Mother nature is rewarding you for surviving all those months of cold weather.
Since my daughter’s birth, more than ever, Spring has become the season when outdoor activities begin. It is the time when you go back to the playgrounds and run into the moms you met the year before. You get to have meaningless conversations about children and then run fast to avoid any fall or fight with another kid. Mother’s world is a complex world; interacting with other moms can be challenging at times. Under that blanket of politeness and friendliness there are all sorts of characters you start to discover when you start going to the playground – It is like a microcosmos. There is the nice mom, the chatty mom, the quiet mom, the mom that can’t stop talking about how great their kids are, and the bullying mom. Let’s face it, even as grown ups, we all have to deal with bullies…
As my daughter grows, and becomes more interactive, I notice these characters more and more. The more I’m aware of them, the more I’m amazed at how different and sometimes difficult it is the interaction with other moms. When children are around, you always have to behave your best; at the end, you are a role model. However, when faced with uncomfortable situations, mothers get stuck between doing what they would normally do and doing what a “role model” would do. This is specially hard for the bullying moms, who hide behind words such as “share” to “run over” other people. For instance, the other day I was at a playground and my daughter was on the swings. A mom that came after me and was waiting for the swings to be available said to her daughter “Don’t worry, that girl will SHARE the swings with you soon”. Then she looked at me to make sure I got the message…. I got really upset! My daughter had been in the swing for less than 2 min. and that woman wanted me to give it up so she could use it right away. I guess what upset me the most was that she was forcing me to give up the swing by hiding under a nobel concept such as sharing. Off course, I didn’t SHARE the swing with her, and didn’t care if she thought I was being selfish for not leaving when she wanted. This has happened to me a couple of times. On another occasion, a mom wanted my daughter to “share” (give up) a toy she was using so her son could play with it. If my daughter is using the toy, shouldn’t the mom teach her son to be RESPECTFUL and wait for his turn?
The point I want to make is this: I know that sharing is an important concept, specially for toddlers who have a very difficult time learning how to share. At the end, most of us learn how to share, right?. However, there are situations when some parents bully other parents by using the word sharing to get what they want. I’m sorry, and if you run into me at a playground you might not like me, but I’m not going to teach my daughter to give up her stuff when someone feels like taking them from her. It might be called sharing now, but when they get older, the kids that take things from other kids will become bullies. And what do you do with a bully? you have to defend yourself. So no, I’m not teaching her to share that way, sharing should come naturally, and from the heart, not from a forced situation.
This song is by Jack Johnson, my daughter’s favorite artist.