Friday, May 29, 2020

Supersonic by JJ Fad

When we first moved to Turlock, my dad found an after school program at the Rec Center which had a roller skating rink, a putt putt course, an enormous slide, arcade games, and a snack bar.  There weren't any organized activities we generally had the run of the place.  It was honestly a very cool place to spend time after school and all summer. Way to go Dad!  I became a pretty decent roller skater who could skate forwards and backwards and sideways and even shoot the duck.  I also became quite the Super Mario Bros expert.  This was on the arcade, not the Nintendo.  In other words, my dad's change dish never had any quarters in it.  My favorite part of the Rec Center was getting to man the DJ booth on occasion, which was mostly when there was next to no one there that I could potentially impact.  It was literally a tiny booth on the side of the roller rink.  There were 45s (these are small records for those youngsters who may be reading this) lining the walls and in cartons.  Each 45 was a "single" which is what it sounds like - literally a single song on one side and another song on the reverse side.  Records are not for the faint of heart.  You have to handle them with care so they do not scratch.  You place it on the turntable, turn it on so it starts spinning, then carefully place the needle in the correct place.  There is risk of scratching, which is a horrible noise, putting the needle in the incorrect place, the record skips, you aren't there in time to quickly replace it, leaving dead silence.  It's an art form!

One day a very popular girl in my class hosted her birthday party at the Rec Center.  I was not invited to the party, but since that was my place where I spent my afternoons, I could skate with the girls at the party and show off my skating skills.  At one point in the party, I convinced the DJ, a teenager who I found ever so worldly, to let me show off how cool I was to work the DJ booth.  I probably took a request or two and I most certainly spun a song that I thought would make me look super cool.  Supersonic was a super hot song in 1987.  In the song you get spell out SUPER and any song where you get to spell something out (B-Double E-Double-R-U-N) or count off (a 1-2-3-4!) is a winner in my book.  After the SUPER part, she starts rapping so quickly it turns into nonsense.  It's the best song ever honestly. 

Flash forward to last November.  My son was invited to a birthday party..... AT A ROLLER RINK.  They still exist people and they are exactly the same.  To get in the mood on the way there, I played some roller rink songs in the car.  I could recall every single lyric to the song to my kids' astonishment. The roller rink even had MTV Music Videos from the 80s playing on screens and this guy in his long flowing locks and bell bottoms, skating around like he just jumped off the screen of Boogie Nights.  It was perfection.  Making this even better, if that is possible, is that the mother of the girl celebrating her birthday is on a Roller Derby team. If you have never seen or heard about Roller Derby, check out the movie Whip It and then tell me you want to meet Margaret because she is kind of a badass! 

You see the S is for Super and the U is for Unique.  The P is for Perfection and you know that we are freaks!  The E is for Exotic and the R is for Rap. Supersonic!

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Gaston from Beauty and the Beast

I didn't get to grow up with my cousin Matt.  My uncle (Matt's dad) died when we were 2 years old, but my dad and his brother unfortunately weren't close.  This shouldn't change the fact that we have a very small family (our grandpa was an only child!) and Matt is my first cousin.  About 10 years ago I decided to find my cousin Matt and at the risk of sounding sappy, it was like finding a missing piece. He's like a brother to me and has come to my aid in tough times.  After getting divorced and moving to Martinez and trying to figure out how to navigate the changes and holidays, Matt invited me and the kids to Christmas at his house.  His mom (my AUNT!!) is from a big family with lots and lots of kids and the best part - they all live really close to me.  They are loud and hilarious and welcoming and warm and they love good food and board games.  They embraced me and my kids completely and we have spent every Christmas with them since. 

It's not just Christmas folks.  I have been included in Bunco and the Annual Super Bowl Party, thanks this amazing family, I have met so many wonderful Martinez friends through Bunco and about split my sides laughing.  As for Super Bowl, I can hardly believe I am saying this, considering I used to have an Anti-Super Bowl tradition with my friend Lauren.  We would spend the day together doing anything but watching the Super Bowl - the movies, a hike, shopping, you name it.  Well, Lynn's daughter Ashley hosts an amazing Super Bowl party every year with squares and contests, good people and good eats.  I actually look forward to Super Bowl now. Me, the girl who attended countless football games with the marching band from high school through college, who still conscientiously knows nothing about football, looks forward to the Super Bowl.  This family is truly so special that they have made a convert out of me. 

One year for the Christmas kids gift draw, I got Gaston's name.  Now I know that it isn't pronounced the same way, but when I see it, I immediately start singing the song from Beauty and the Beast.  In my defense, Gaston's dad was awfully hairy when I met him. In the song he boasts that "every last each of me's covered with hair.  I cannot personally attest to that, but he did have a full beard and long hair when I first met him. His mother is, simply put, a beauty inside and out.  I found a children's book called Gaston for him.  That Christmas, during a particularly hilarious board game, Aunt Jan told my kids to go play somewhere else and let their mother have a laugh.  By the end of the night, my stomach hurt from laughing so much.  My family is the best family. 

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Ripple by the Grateful Dead

When I hear the Grateful Dead, it instantly brings me back to my time living in Piedmont.  In fact, I have written about this before.  I lived in that adorable apartment for 2 years and there are plenty of fun memories from that time.  Above all, the Grateful Dead puts me in a contented, relaxed mood.  I can't pinpoint any particular song associated with a specific memory, but the music and the vibe always remind me of Tisha and Jeff.  Jeff's family has a cabin in Pinecrest on the same street as Nick's great aunt and uncle. I met Tisha and Jeff during an epic 3-day weekend in Pinecrest.  Come to find out, they lived just down the street from us in Oakland.  Tisha and I even resemble each other, especially our curly blonde hair.  I seem to remember we have also a mole in the same place.  Or maybe I'm making that up, but it's too weird of a thing to make up.  She will have to confirm, even if she is confirming that I am losing my mind. In any case. it all just seemed serendipitous and Nick and I were beyond thrilled to have met a fun couple who lived very close by, who we both really enjoyed.  Thus began a friendship.

Tisha and I both like to entertain and we threw some very elaborate brunches for the 4 of us.  Tisha is a fantastic cook and I have used quite a few of her ideas and recipes in my own entertaining. They lived in an adorable little house with a great patio in the back. I love her style and her decorating.  Their house makes you feel immediately comfortable.  On brunch days Nick and I could walk down to their house and spend half the day lounging in the sun, eating amazing brunch food, drinking Mimosas, listening to music and laughing.  Often times we'd move on to the (late lamented) Kings X for a beer or two.  Jeff joined Nick's softball team and Tisha and I occasionally got mani-pedis together or played hooky and went to an A's game. They came to all of the events surrounding our wedding.  I once called Jeff late at night when I needed help in an emergency.  I held their first baby for hours when he was first born.  Then they moved up into the Oakland Hills and we moved to the wilds of West Oakland and later Livermore.  Pinecrest weekends also became less frequent in later years and now, for me, they are non-existent.  Between geography and kids and situations, I no longer see them, except for Facebook.  I still think about them though....when I hear the Grateful Dead.  In fact, I think it's time for another brunch!

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Boomerang by JoJo Siwa

I love living in Martinez for many reasons and one of the big ones is the strong sense of community. I have heard from several people who rave about their neighborhood, where the kids all run around together, in and out of each other's houses.  I live in one them and it is exactly how I hoped it would be for raising my kids.  Mind you, it's not exactly like a scene in a movie from the 50s or how it was when I grew up in the 80s.  For example, nowadays showing up unannounced at someone's house is pretty frowned upon.  We also don't just send the kids outside and say, "come back at dinner!".  We literally stand on the sidewalk and tell the kids when it's safe to cross the street and then watch until they are safely inside the neighbor's house. The end result is the same:  It takes a village and I have developed a pretty nice village here. 

My daughter's BFF conveniently lives right across the street.  When her family bought their house, her grandpa came over to see it, pointed to MY house and said that he used to hang out there all the time.  Of course he is talking about my dad and uncle, since I live in the house where my dad grew up. Isn't that fun?!   Her BFF's parents are great - down to earth, easy going, fun people and all around great neighbors.  They just texted me the other night to tell me my car door had been left open.  Tami, her mom, and I relate I think because we both have strong willed children.  This makes our daughter's friendship so perfect - I can count on Tami to say:  "send her over!" just when I'm at my wits' end.  I hope she feels the same away about me. 

In spite of the shelter in place, Lila and her BFF have been conducting very elaborate video play dates.  They discuss all of the latest trends, music, clothing, shows.  They get into very sophisticated, imaginative games and it's pretty fun to listen to them. What I do not enjoy so very much is their obsession with JoJo Siwa.  I suppose I owe my mom an apology for the constant playing of the New Kids on the Block. I've consoled myself because now when I hear the music of JoJo, I associate it with my awesome neighbor Tami who gave us Lila's BFF.  I think the girls are actually playing more now with video and of course Lila's older brother isn't able to bother them quite so easily.  Tami and I have joked that while he is Diarrhea Dexter now, he is going to become Dreamy Dexter in a couple years and then we're all in trouble!

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynrd

When I hear the instantly recognizable chords of Sweet Home Alabama kick in, I instantly feel like I want to be at a frat party.  And when I think about frat parties, I think back to my very favorite frat party, Freshman year, in the spring of '96.  It was everything you could want from a party.  I had met up with my Cal Band friends at Kat's dorm in Clark Kerr and we all walked up together.  There were beverages aplenty, good music, lots of dancing, cute boys who weren't in the Band, and please don't ask me for any more specifics because I cannot recall a one.  I do remember what I was wearing, which was a striped, long sleeved top with jeans.  The theme was Mardi Gras and that was my attempt. I was woefully boring when it came to themes, but not to worry, I have completely gotten on board with them since.  I wasn't the only boring one.  Please take a moment to admire everything that is awesome about this picture I found, documenting the evening. 

  • It contains not only Michael and Karen, who you have recently met, it also includes Belinda, the subject of today's story!
  • I am not the only boring dresser.  You'll note Katy's turtleneck and what you cannot see is that Karen is wearing a turtleneck under a blazer.  I mentioned we were at a frat party, yes?  A themed frat party?  All I can say is thank god we grew up in the completely covered up 90's. 
I once shared with you the first person I met in the Cal Band.  Belinda is the first person I met before either one of us joined the Cal Band. I had attended a gathering at TH during Cal Day.  It was a welcome/recruiting event for prospective Cal Band members.  I remember meeting Belinda that day and she was a welcome and familiar face when I finally decided to join the Band!  I could see into her dorm room from my dorm room window and we were even in the same section in the Band. 

Throughout freshman year and especially this night, you can't think about Belinda without thinking about Greg.  Greg was incurably smitten with our Belinda.  (SPOILER ALERT!  Those two got together shortly after this party, got married right after college and are about to celebrate their 20th!) On this evening however, Greg was particularly discouraged and had become amusingly intoxicated.  I was completely on Greg's level myself, for no reason whatsoever.  Rumor has it I was speaking in German on the walk home.  Greg and I conversed and amused folks all the way back to Kat's dorm room.  The rest is history because as I previously stated, I have no further details to share from that evening!  

Friday, April 17, 2020

Centerfold by J Giles Band

It was the fall of 1995 and I was down on Edwards Field with the Cal Band.  If you ask a Cal Bandsman what they majored in, they will often joke that they majored in Band.  In the Fall, our lives were consumed by the Cal Band.  We had rehearsal 4 afternoons/week. On game weeks, we rehearsed 5 afternoons/week, plus Saturday morning prior to the game.  We also had section rehearsals (by instrument and rank) once a week.  There were group bonding events.  Evening events.  We generally socialized together and ate together.  If we had classes together, we studied together.  We were one big (mostly) happy family and I truly cherish my time in the Band as well as the memories and friends I made. 

The Cal Band is incredibly organized.  It is completely student led and run.  Thinking back, I think it's better run, by a bunch of college students no less, than some of the companies I have worked for in my career.   As a Newman (first year Bandsman), and a latecomer at that, there were so many people eager to welcome me and bring me up to speed on all of the traditions and rules of the Cal Band.   The most important of course was the complete and total elimination of anything red in my wardrobe.  I'm not kidding.  You would get pantsed if so much as the red Levi's tag on your jeans pocket was exposed. I learned quickly.  We all did.  To help ensure that we looked and sounded great on the field, we had both DAs (Director's Assistants) and TAs (Teaching Assistants, which were really Marching Assistants, but I guess TA sounds better than MA?). The DAs led the section music rehearsals and the TAs roamed the field and made sure we were in the proper formation, marching in perfect form. 

One of those TAs was Michael and he was also in my section, the 2nd Clarinets. He had an infectious, fun personality and I was always so happy to be around him.  I don't know if he was responsible for putting me in a dance number for the 80s show, but he certainly coached me on the choreography, of that I am certain. The dance numbers were always a hit and I know you non-Cal Bandsmen are all laughing right now, but they absolutely were!  There was so much cheering when we suddenly busted out with a dance routine.  The 80s show featured a dance number at the end of Centerfold.  I would never, ever claim to be the best dancer, but I will learn those moves and perform with enthusiasm. Michael is a person with an undying positive spirit, always full of enthusiasm, and I wanted to make him proud. I only got to enjoy his friendship and fun memories for 2 years.  I spent my junior year abroad which meant I missed his year at the Drum Major, which was also his last year at Cal. Thanks to Facebook, I still get to see what he's up to and thanks to this song, I think of him when I hear it, although my blood doesn't run cold.  He's not a Centerfold.

Friday, April 10, 2020

This is Me from the Greatest Showman Soundtrack

What are you doing, eating, drinking, wearing?  I'm not being nosy, but Gavin is.  The thing about Gavin is that he is genuinely interested in the answers to those questions and he will always share his own situation in response.  I first met Gavin over 3 years ago when I was in Carmel, Indiana training his company on our software.  I only spoke to him for a few minutes, but he left an immediate impression on me. He had completely embraced the product and enforced adoption with his vendors and users.  I was so excited about him and his enthusiasm that I told my Marketing team that he would be an excellent candidate to record a testimonial.  When he told me years later that he once ran for office in his town, I wasn't at all surprised.  I was however surprised that he didn't win the election.

Several years later, Gavin took a more active role with my product and before I knew it, he had found me on LinkedIn, Facebook, and someone even found my cell phone number.  Again, I know you are thinking this guy is super nosy and possibly a little creepy, but I assure you he isn't!  A couple years ago I texted him Merry Christmas.  He responded with a picture of his family in their matching Christmas jammies.  I responded with a picture of me and the kids wearing the EXACT SAME JAMMIES.  They are from Target, so this isn't totally farfetched, but to quote a movie that I haven't actually seen, but somehow still know this:  "Did we just become best friends?!"

If friendship were a superpower, Gavin would be known as SuperFriend.  He truly cares about his friends and he has quite literally become one of my very best friends, which is funny because I haven't seen Gavin in person in over three years.  He has been doing video messages and FaceTime calls before those things became mainstream.  He checks in on me regularly and sends me funny memes or tags me in funny posts. One day he happened to check in on me when I was especially down in the dumps about something.  Or someone.  It was probably a guy. I am always in the dumps about some guy.  Gavin sent me a link to a song and told me to cheer up.  The song was This Is Me and it did cheer me up.  Thanks Buddy!