Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Just curious

Who keeps Googling "alittlebitsnarky" in order to get to my site? Sitemeter suggests you are in Toronto... but Sitemeter has been wrong before...

Monday, April 28, 2008

88 keys to my life

My mom is a piano teacher and has been one for as long as I can remember. I started piano lessons around age 5 and so I have some great piano-related memories. Our house was always filled with music and/or noise, depending on what student was playing at the time. I can still remember the day we got the grand piano - I was only about 5 and I was mesmerized by the piano movers and their ability to carry this giant piano. My mom tells me that when I was really young, I would sit by the fireplace in our old house, peering around the piano to watch her students during their lessons. I recall once, some kid and his parents came over for dinner or something, and my brother and I were playing with this kid when he hurled a toy car at the piano. The dent is still there. I remember that my brother used to play piano too, that is, until it turned out he completely sucked at piano, and hated it too. He once said that he wouldn't mind inheriting one of the pianos, so he could burn it. Some of my closest friends were my mom's students and we used to play every Saturday - I was always the leader, of course.

I was the one who insisted on taking piano lessons, and what's even crazier, I insisted on continuing them. My mom used to say to me all the time, "If you aren't going to practice, why don't you just quit?" and instead of taking the opportunity to quit like most kids might, I would say "No! I don't want to quit!" and then I would step up the practicing. You see, my mom wasn't my piano teacher. Instead, I had a very frightening piano teacher. I'll call her Mrs. T. She was all sorts of awesome, but so, so scary. I never cried in front of her although I recall many occasions when I would get into the car and start crying right away. (Never one to reveal my vulnerabilities, of course!) Mrs. T told me stories about how when she was a student in Hong Kong, she took lessons in her teacher's 5th floor apartment, and when she didn't play well, he would throw the books out the window and she would have to retrieve them and walk back up the stairs each time. I suppose she was trying to say that no matter how much she yelled, at least I wasn't climbing 5 flights of stairs several times each lesson. Sometimes Mrs. T didn't yell, she just got quiet - which was even scarier. She wasn't the type of teacher to give out trophies or plaques or even smiley face stickers - but she was an excellent teacher. She didn't have a lot of students, and the ones she did have - let's just say I felt completely inferior compared to them. We used to have master classes, where we would have to play a song in front of several peers and then critique each other. Nerve-wracking. And let's not even get into piano competitions. Even today, the mention of "Kiwanis" makes me a little nervous.

When I was young, I was very diligent about practicing. Okay - maybe not "very" - but definitely diligent. When I was preparing for my Grade 10 piano exam, I practiced about 3 hours a day. Of course, I was only about 11 or 12, and had nothing better to do anyway.... I always told my mom that my ultimate goal was to get my A.R.C.T. diploma and have it hanging on the wall. I was prepared to do everything I could to get my hands on that diploma. This included taking every theory exam known to mankind. Have I told you about me and music theory? We don't get along. My poor mom taught me most of my music theory in group classes and I admit, I was terribly lazy. On Saturday mornings, about 15 minutes before class, you would find me holed up in my room, hastily finishing (or pretending to finish) the week's homework. I would skip portions that I didn't think I could do in time, and sometimes, SOMETIMES, I would feign total surprise that I hadn't finished my work. What do you mean there were 10 pages assigned? I clearly heard you say there were only 2 pages of homework. I knew that my mom wouldn't yell at me in front of the other students, and since I was the youngest, the other students couldn't really criticize me either. I aimed for a bare pass on every exam starting from Grade 4 Harmony and up. My crowning moment was when I achieved a 63 in Grade 5 History after having barely cracked open the textbook for Grade 5 History, and studying only from another girl's meticulous notes.

I finished my A.R.C.T. around age 14 or 15 in school... and my teacher gave me the option to continue lessons. She talked about how I could expand my repertoire now that I was finished with exams. For a little while, I did continue with lessons. But I fell into the teenage trap of comparing myself to friends who had given up piano long ago, who didn't have to spend their evenings and weekends practicing piano ... and so I gave it up. At the time, I was still involved in church worship team ministry, and figured I could keep up piano to some degree through worship.

I never really wanted to lead worship, preferring to play piano instead. One day, however, I was encouraged by my team leader to take over the reins of leading for at least a few occasions.
I never felt comfortable leading - I'm pretty sure I was extremely nervous... I don't remember all of the details, but I recall specifically that after one occasion, someone told me that my worship leading was not bad, but I had forgotten to include an opening prayer or a closing prayer, and that really was a big negative. I probably took his comments more personally than they were intended, but from that time on I lost my passion for worship team. I didn't want to lead, and I wasn't even that interested in playing piano any more. I felt like I was a terrible worship leader and so really, why bother leading or participating at all. (I know, I know - oversensitive much?)

Eventually, I became a youth group sponsor and didn't have time to be on worship team any more, so I took the opportunity to leave. I rarely played piano after quitting worship team - I only really played when I felt a whim to do so (again, rare) or when I was asked to play for a wedding. And then I got married and moved out, and didn't even have a piano after that. (Which made practicing for weddings somewhat challenging.)

Now that we are moving to a house that could actually accommodate a piano, I find myself wondering if maybe one day, I'll have a piano again. I miss being able to play and I worry that my skills have declined past the point of no return. I miss being able to play well. I don't think it's in the budget to spend several thousand on a piano right now (since I would *never* just buy some cheapy piano) nor do I really have the time to practice. Certainly not three hours a day! You might suggest that I wait until I have kids that are old enough to learn - but, just like my mom, I won't force my kids to learn - I would prefer they choose to learn themselves, after having heard their mother play a beautiful melody from the depths of her memory. Um, yeah... we'll see.

If I had a piano in front of me right now, I'd start by playing some scales. Technique first, songs later. It's how I always learned to practice. I miss the routine of piano.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Straight up, she's a cold-hearted snake

American Idol ... why won't you leave me alone? I rarely watch Idol now but have managed to catch a couple of episodes this season. It's like a train wreck - I just have to keep an eye on what is going on because I'm so fascinated. Not because I particularly like it... although I do enjoy the audition portions still.

What I really could do without on Idol is the nattering, useless presence of Paula Abdul. My stars, the woman is crazy. When she isn't stumbling over her words like a drunk, she's throwing out unhelpful comments that add nothing at all to the show. You know what I'm talking about - "You look beautiful tonight" or "You really made that song your own" or "It was a little pitchy but you look beautiful tonight, all of you look beautiful tonight." I watched a couple of episodes of Hey Paula in an effort to try to understand her, but all I came away with was a strong sense that indeed, the woman has issues - whether they are alcohol-related or drug-related, I don't know. (But how can you not suspect it!? She had a breakdown over her makeup artist missing a flight! And she threatened to sue a reporter! And she sobbed about everything! And she stumbled over her words all the time, except when she was clearly scripted!)

So, on Tuesday, Brooke whatever her name is started her song, forgot the lyrics, and started again. Maybe you've heard about it. (Probably not - you probably don't care. Nonetheless.) Paula took an agonizing few moments of no speech at all to gear up and say "No, you just don't start and stop a song." When Simon was asked what he would have done in Brooke's position, he said he would have done exactly what she did, ie start and stop and start again. Paula then said, "I think you could have just sung something - just sung something, kept going, from your heart."

Oh, okay then. She should have just sung something from her heart! Instead of "You Must Love Me", should she have broken into her ABC's? Maybe the Oscar Mayer wiener lyrics? Perhaps she should have sung last week's song? Maybe she should have just made up the words entirely! Maybe a little "Rush Rush" or "Forever your girl" would have been appropriate?

Paula, you are clueless. Fox should have canned you several seasons ago. Who agrees with me!!!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Springtime fresh

Since the dog made her way into our lives, I really haven't done much shopping for myself. I'm perfectly willing to get stuff for her (uh - yeah... so I spoil my dog. Shush) but I am much cheaper with my own stuff. Once in a while, however, I do feel like breaking out of the mold and shopping for clothes and shoes until I drop.

The problems, however, are many. First, I rarely find stuff that I like AND that fits me properly. Probably it's because I am short and a little rounder than I'd like. Second, I can't relate to a lot of the fashions that are out there right now. I often try to find work-appropriate clothing, but all I seem to find is trendy, "disposable" clothing. Ugh. Third, I much prefer online shopping because the variety in the States is just faboo, not to mention the prices. But the duty and taxes! Ugh again!

Let's talk about some of the fashion trends right now.

1. Coats with cropped sleeves - a few examples. I like this look - on other people. But on me? No. I have a few shirts that have 3/4 sleeves but I could never wear a jacket with cropped sleeves. My wrists would be cold! I much prefer sleeves that are way too long.

2. Bubble skirts. Um - need we emphasize the rear end? Also, I'm fairly sure I had a skirt like this in the late 80's.

3. Bermuda shorts. Now look, I work in a very casual environment. But I really do not understand these short pants. On What Not to Wear, one of the hosts told a girl she could wear these to work and they would be a great substitute for a formal suit when paired with a suit jacket. I beg to differ.

4. The ever-popular capri pant. I have never worn a pair of capri pants. I believe I have mentioned why before, but here it is again - why would I want my pants to cut me off at the fattest part of my calf? Truly, the capri should be reserved for clam digging or terribly skinny girls. Or terribly skinny girls who like to dig for clams. And let us not even discuss the manpri. Hideous.

5. Skinny jeans. Again, these should be reserved for very skinny folk only. On most people, the tapered jean look just widens the butt. Why not add in the high-waisted look and really enlargen the rear? (I wanted to say "embiggen". Quick! what show is that from?)

Sometimes - I hate shopping. It's a wonder I get dressed at all on weekdays.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Aging gracefully

Five days ago, it was my birthday. We didn't do anything terribly special for my birthday, but I did get a dozen roses from the dog. I guess she didn't read my previous posts. Oh well! Pretty clever of her to order me flowers - I didn't even know she had a credit card.

Actually, the dog is having her spay operation today, poor thing. I suppose we are all aging in our own ways. Pray for her speedy recovery!

I have mixed feelings about getting older. On one hand, I am glad to be where I am right now. I like my job, I have a good relationship with my mom and with my in-laws, we're moving, and I have the best dog in the world (even though she's still a bit of a crazy puppy.) On the other hand, I don't really like to think about getting older. I can't really imagine myself as a real grownup, having responsibility for kids, having to do parent-type things, gearing up my career, oh my. [Note: not pregnant! Don't get any funny ideas.]

Well. I can't change the fact that I'm getting older. To compensate, I shall begin acting like a 5 year old. Just kidding about "begin". :)

Thursday, April 10, 2008


In an ideal world, you would complete the sale of your house before completing the purchase of your new house. In an ideal world, you would give possession of your old house after getting possession of your new house. In an ideal world, your buyer wouldn't screw you over.


Instead of ranting about how my world is not ideal, let me tell you instead about my perfect house. What I have always wanted is a house that feels spacious and warm. Space to entertain, warmth to live in. I have never wanted a huge house, nor one with every new fangled appliance or handmade countertop. I don't dream like the HGTV folks. My perfect house has a large family room, where we can lounge after work, have friends over, snack in front of the TV (flat screen LCD, of course.) My perfect house also has a spacious kitchen where I can sit and watch the hubs cook (heh) or do the dishes while he cooks and not bump into him. My perfect house has a nice yard for the dog to run around in (and a good fence to keep her in.)

Hey, guess what!

We're moving. To the perfect house! Who are we kidding - no house is perfect. But this one comes pretty darn close. I mean, it has floral wallpaper borders and a pink countertop and non-low-flush toilets and what's not to love? Ok, it also has a huge family room, a nice sized kitchen and a good yard. I can't wait to have family and friends over. Maybe we'll even let the youth group come over. MAYBE.

Meanwhile... I will not lose faith.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

From weepy to realistic

So my last post was a weepy tribute to Trevor Linden, eh. Can't really deny that, although to be fair, I didn't actually weep. YET. (Although that Giada picture almost made me puke.)

Alright, let's discuss the Canucks this season. I tried to believe in blue, I really did. But they let me down every time. What went wrong? I'm no hockey expert, but in my opinion, these are some of the issues:

1) Luongo being good, but not great. Why? Who knows. Maybe he's just not the superhuman Canucks fans wanted him to be.
2) Nazzy. Not the same since the Steve Moore/Bertuzzi disaster. Too much pressure to perform? Poor leadership skills? I don't know... I still like him.
3) Coach's "system" of defence first - um... unsuccessful this year, to say the least.
4) Lack of scoring.... although I think this is eclipsed by the lack of defence and inability to hold onto a lead. Losing 4-0, 7-1, 6-3, and so on - that's just unacceptable.

Now as for the future ... I think it goes without saying that the Canucks need to make changes. I am hoping that these changes will not translate into ticket price hikes for season ticket holders, but who are we kidding here - they'll always raise prices. (AND they took away my soft serve ice cream, only the best deal at GM Place. Thanks a lot.) Well. So begins the rebuilding. Oh dear - I sound like an Oilers fan.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

The end of an era

Char has already talked about saying goodbye to Trevor Linden, but I'll add my two cents' worth. I've watched Trevor since before the 94 playoffs, although I wasn't a huge hockey fan until around that time. In 1994 I was in grade 9 and I remember the glory of watching the team go to the Stanley Cup finals. I remember seeing Trevor's face when he scored the game-winning goal in game 6, and seeing the utter sadness and exhaustion after losing in game 7. And why do I remember? Because Trevor's entire heart was in the Canucks. His emotions rose and fell with each win and loss. You knew that he was a true leader because he inspired his teammates to play better. And his emotions were our emotions. When I think of the Canucks, I think of Trevor.

I remember when that jerk and that other jerk forced Linden to give up his "C" (okay, that might be my version of the story, but whatever), when he was traded, and best of all, when he was traded back to the Canucks. The past two seasons have been tough as a Trevor fan, since it seems obvious that the current coach hates him... even after he was the best player in the playoffs and scored the game-winning goal in the longest game of my life (on my birthday!) But through it all, Trevor has never been a complainer. At least on the outside, he appears to have accepted his change in role without losing his passion for the game, and his devotion to the team. He isn't the most skilled player anymore, and he probably doesn't have the stamina he used to. But he is a true competitor and Canuck for life - and I think, a great example to kids and adults everywhere.

Here's to Trevor Linden, #16. You gave us many great years and a ton of memories. I wish you weren't retiring (and I suppose you haven't actually said you are yet) but I'm glad I got to see you play this season. Please become the head coach soon. The Canucks are in need of serious help.