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I somehow managed to get myself a job working at a Cruise Ship. This post is an inside look on what it's really like to live and work below deck. You never know... You might be enticed to work for one too, and travel the whole world like me! Read on to find out more...

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Scotland: My Favorite Country In The World

I've been to many places in several different continents, and have seen spectacular beauty... But every time I visit Scotland, every other country pales in comparison. Read this post to find out why at this point, Scotland was and still is, in my opinion, the most beautiful place on Earth...

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On Finding My Bliss In Italy

When you go on big trips like this, however cheesy it sounds, you always do end up 'finding yourself'. And there are moments... difinitive moments when you achieve clarity, contentment, and pure happiness. This all happened to me in Italy. Read my most soulful post to date, inspired by the full moon in Italia...

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On Being Featured In A Documentary

I somehow managed to get myself featured in an upcoming documentary about "Voluntourism". This may be the big break I've been waiting for! The trailer is out - and I'm in it! It looks so good, I'm so excited! See for yourself... watch it here!

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The Cinque Terre is one of my favorite places in Italy. We hiked 5 villages in one day, and it was breathtaking! But something completely unexpected happened on the hike... An encounter with a complete stranger made me realize possibly one of the most important things I need to do with my life...

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My Ayahuasca Experience

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Thursday, May 24, 2012

29 of 30:The One About Paul McCartney at the Royal Albert Hall


Part Two of “When I Held Out For My Hero

"What are we going to wear?” was the first question I asked L, after I had given myself a few hours to breathe and calm down. I had just met my favorite person in the world, Danny Wallace, and he had given Lea and myself free tickets to see Paul McCartney at the Royal Albert Hall that night, so it took a few hours to get my bearings. (Read previous blog post here) Sir Paul McCartney is a living BEATLE after all… and I LOVE The Beatles. 


 L and I were wandering around Covent Garden, window shopping for an attire befitting a location that had the word “Royal” in it. I had never been to the Royal Albert Hall before, but have heard of it of course. Most recently through Adele who released a DVD of a concert she held there. All I knew was that it was a grand and magnificenent venue, and we wanted to look our best for it!

Then I remembered I didn’t have any money.

Oh well! My first name is “Lady”, and in my opinion, that alone is royal enough for any occasion, no matter what the attire!

We wore our best clothes available, hopped on the tube and off we went!

Outside the Royal Albert Hall
The venue didn’t disappoint. The Royal Albert Hall is every bit as grand as it sounds! Located in the heart of the South Kensington estate in London, Prince Albert’s little building is as grandiose as it is beautiful. That day in particular was the 141st year anniversary of the day it was opened by Queen Victoria herself! What are the odds, right?
We knew right away that Sir Paul’s performance was going to be a celebrity magnet right when we saw Corey Feldman hanging about. L was really excited to see him. I think she fancies him.




We went inside, got ourselves a ridiculously expensive drink, and settled into our seats.

Soon after, Sir Paul came out looking as hip as ever! He didn’t have an opening act --- he just dove right into playing!

OK – admittedly, I was a little apprehensive about the concert because I don’t know any of Paul McCartney’s songs as a solo artist. I just thought – “Hey, this is a free ticket at an incredible venue, I’m going to make the most out of it.”
But then he started playing all these Beatles songs and just ROCKED every single one of them! 80% of the songs he sang that night were BEATLES! And he played the really popular classic ones too, like “Hey Jude”, “Here Comes The Sun”, “Blackbird”, “All My Lovin’”, “Yesterday”, “Let it Be”… Oh my God, L and I were screaming like 12 year old girls in a Backstreet Boys concert, singing our hearts out!

It has to be said… Paul McCartney is one groovy grandpa! What is he – 80? And he’s STILL got it! His voice really strong, his moves – like Jagger, and his wit – still in tact! We were very very impressed.

But I couldn’t help but get distracted by the dude sitting next to me though. He kept scribbling notes into his little note pad. Curiosity got the best of me (like it always does) and I poked him on the shoulder to ask him if he was a writer. Turns out he was a journalist writing a review for the Evening Standard, a London newspaper, and it was due the next day.

Cool!

“You’re writing a good review, right?” I asked.
“Oh of course,” he said. “And in this industry, there are just some people you don’t diss. Sir Paul McCartney is one of them. Look at him! He’s a legend!”

I had to agree. The old man can rock.

(We found his article online the next day. Read it here)

It was so great to see him perform live, telling us stories about his hey day as a Beatle… It even got a little emotional when he talked about John Lennon before singing “Here Today”, a song he wrote for him.
My faaavorite part was when he talked about George Harrison. He said something like, “You all know that George was an excellent ukulele player, right?” Then he whipped out a uke!! Eeeeeeeee!!!
He said he went to George’s trailer one time, and said – “Hey George! Guess what? I’ve learned one of your songs on the ukulele! Wanna hear?” Then everyone went wild as he strummed the first few chords of the song, “Something”.

Goosebumps.

But wait – there’s more!

At the end of the evening, he called some of his “friends” to jam with him on stage. Pretty soon, he was joined by Paul Weller, Ronnie Wood and Roger Daltrey for an encore of the song, “Get Back!”
I have to admit, because my rock knowledge is very limited, I had to rely on L to educate me on who they were. My jaw dropped when she said, “Ronnie Wood is from the Rolling Stones, Roger Daltrey is from The Who, and Paul Weller is like a famous musician who plays with different bands.”

We just looked at each other, wide-eyed and in awe. There was a Beatle, a Who and a Stone onstage at the Royal Albert Hall on its 141st year anniversary, and we were now and forever, irrevocably part of history. 

A Beatle, A Who, A Stone, and .. a Weller.
Photo by C Boland
At that moment, I said a silent “Thank you,” to Danny Wallace, my very generous sponsor for the evening. I woke up that day only with the intention and the hope of meeting my favorite author. I end up not only meeting him, but I got to confirm all the reasons why he was my hero in the first place, AND got the chance to experience an epic night of music from - not one, but several musical legends, in one of the most beautiful and historically royal venues in London.

Sandra Bullock was right. Life doesn’t always turn out the way you planned. It’s even better.
I thought about that while I was sleeping. :)

I woke up the next day to Danny Wallace’s voice on the radio. His breakfast show on XFM has started, another day has begun. Then my ears perked up when I heard him say something that sounded a little too familiar.

“…heroes. Who’s your hero? Have you ever met your hero? Have any good stories to tell? Text us! Call us! We want to hear all about them!”

I grabbed my phone, and I smiled. :)

L and I. ☺


Thursday, May 17, 2012

28 of 30: When I Held Out For My Hero


It was 9:45am and I was standing outside Capitol Radio in Leicester Square, drinking my coffee nervously. In about 15 minutes, Danny Wallace’s radio show ends, and by the hammer of Thor and the graces of Grayskull, I should be able to spring on him like nobody’s business.

“Relax, Earth…” my friend, L, kept saying.

How could I? I was about to meet (or was hoping to, anyway) my favorite author! My idol in every sense of the word. Danny Wallace was – and still is – my hero.

I first learned about him through my British friends, A & K (aka Mom and Dad), in 2008 when I visited them for the first time in the UK. Dad had just finished reading “Yes Man,” and swore it was the funniest book he’s ever read! Mom assured me I was going to love it. I really didn’t need that much convincing, so I bought the book at the airport for me to read on the plane back to LA. Needless to say, I laughed the whole flight back, and I bought all his books after that.

After reading everything he’s written, I realized I wasn’t just a fan of him as a writer, I was a fan of him as a PERSON. I admired his awkward and humorous take on his own life… putting himself through these random projects that inadvertently teaches him universal life lessons that are both poignant and funny at the same time. In his own little amusing and innocent approach on dealing with life, he’s found a way to make a difference in the world… and I really REALLY admire that about him… and I aspire to be LIKE him! As a matter of fact, this 30 by 30 project is my own homage to his “Yes Man” experiment.



And so when I knew I was going to be in London again for my 30th birthday, I knew I wouldn’t let the opportunity to meet him pass. 

It really wasn’t that difficult to plan the whole thing. I knew he had a breakfast show on XFM. I asked L to find out where the XFM headquarters was… and when she found out it was in Leicester Square, stalking him wasn’t even a question. It was purely simple; His show ends at 10am, so the plan was to wait for him outside his building and pounce on him when he comes out! EASY!

A few minutes before game time.
What I didn’t anticipate was how NERVOUS I was going to be. Too nervous that in the back of my head, I was secretly wishing it wouldn’t happen. It was awful! I’m usually pretty confident about these things… and most of you know he isn’t the first “celebrity” I was about to encounter. So the nerves really came as a bit of a shock. But then again, he wasn't just some random celebrity... He was someone that actually meant something to me... Someone I really admired... And I suppose that's worth a few butterflies...


Cut to L and I outside the radio station at 10:15. Still no sign of Danny. 
L took my camera and said she needed to start practicing taking photos. But when she took the camera from my neck --- the unthinkable, yet predictable thing happened: I spilled coffee on myself.

“Of course! Of course…” I said, shaking my head.
“Earrrrrth!” L said, wiping my sweater with some tissue.

“Ugghhh. I know. This is so typical of me. You just watch. He’s gonna come out right now,” I said, half jokingly as L was dabbing my chest.

And whattayaknow. He did.

Danny Wallace came out of the door, took one glance at me and L with our hands frozen right above my coffee drenched boob, and walked away.

“Shit, L. It’s him. It’s HIM!” I whispered, teeth clenched.

“GO, Earth. Just GO!”

This was it. Moment of truth. I tossed my coffee cup, and sprinted on after him!

“Uh… Mister Wallace??” I squeaked.

I was painfully aware of how much like a stalker I was at that very moment… Following a man, a few steps behind him, on tippy toes trying not to make too much noise because he was on the phone.

Shit – he was on the phone.

“L!” I whispered. “He’s on the phone! I don’t wanna be rude!”

“Just GO!” she shooed me away. “GO! Do it!! GO!!”

Oh L... Bless you for being an enabler.

I took a deep breath, and sprinted after him once more.

“Excuse me, Mister Wallace?” I said, louder this time. “Mister Wallace??”

He turned around, and almost instantly said – “Oh helloooo!!! Hi!”

I was momentarily confused. He said “hello” as if he already knew me.

“Oh! Hi… ?” I said, clearly surprised at his very cordial greeting.

“I saw your Facebook post!” he quipped brightly!

Ah. My Facebook post. Or should I say – Facebook POSTSSsss.


I posted that on XFM’s wall, on his wall, on XFM’s twitter page, and on HIS twitter page. I realize it might have been a bit much… but I needed to get his attention. And apparently --- I DID!

“Did you?” I asked nervously.
“Yes I saw it this morning!” He smiled. “How are you?” he added.

“I’m good! Oh my God, I’m so sorry about those posts… I didn’t want you to think I was some weird stalker…” – which admittedly, I kind of am.

“But… Blah, I’m freaking out!” I continued, fanning my face with my hands… “Okay.” I said as I gathered my composure.
“Hi, Mister Wallace! My name is Eartha, and I’m from Los Angeles, and I came to London to meet you, and tell you that you and your work have been such a great inspiration to me… and I just wanted to be able to tell you, IN PERSON, that you’re my hero.”

Bleugh! There! I spit it all out like word vomit!


I know it looks like I'm pulling him to me,
but he really did pull me in for a hug!
Mr Wallace, touched by my graceless honestly, leaned in and gave me a hug.
“Aww… Bless you… You're so sweet” he said. When he pulled away, he asked – “So what are you doing in London?”

“I came here to meet YOU!” I said happily!

“Aha-Ha!” he laughed. But it was an anxious, nervous laugh. I think I was doing a little too good a job of confirming the fact that I was, indeed, a stalker.

“No, no…” I added quickly before I could do more damage. “I came here to celebrate my birthday. I toured Europe for a couple weeks, then back here for my birthday where my friends threw me a little party… I mean it’s my 30th birthday, you know? It’s a milestone… I had to go all out.”

“Of course… of course.” He nodded. I knew he understood… he once did something a little out of the ordinary too before he turned 30. :)

This whole time, L was snapping away, documenting this monumental event for me! Danny looked over at her and introduced himself like a proper gentleman. I had to apologize to both of them for forgetting to introduce them to one another, claiming my nerves got the better of me. I was honestly just so flustered, I had forgotten L was even there! (Sorry, L!)



We did some small talk for a couple minutes, then he snapped his fingers and said – “You know what, I actually might have something for you! Give me one second…” and he pulled out his phone and dialed. “I have these things I can give you… and we can say that it is for an XFM listener!”
Oh my God.

“NO! No no no!!” I protested. “Please don’t give me anything! I didn’t come here to win anything! I really honestly just wanted to meet you!”

“Yes, yes, but this is good! Just one second… Hello? Dave?”

He was on the phone with his producer, who I assume is called Dave, and started asking him about these tickets that supposedly some listener have already won. He asked if they have actually released the tickets to the winner already… and that if he could please just have them instead.
During his conversation, I kept trying to wave at his face to get his attention, muttering words like – “please!” or “no need!” or “I don’t want…” or “It’s really okay!” and “stop stop!”

He kept shaking his head at me, and then finally said – “Hang on. Would you excuse me for a moment, please?” and he smiled and walked away to finish his conversation with Dave, privately.



My hero the fashionista! A gilete, a body bag, and funky boots!


“Oh my GOD, L! Oh my God! I’m so embarrassed!! I feel like an blubbering idiot!”
“No, no you’re doing fine!” she assured me. “Earth… when you were telling him he was your hero… Oh my God…” she paused, and then fanned her eyes dramatically. “Tears… I swear!”

“Me too!!! Waaah! I can’t believe this is happenning!!!”

“Okay, okay he’s coming back! He’s coming back!” L put the camera back on her neck and braced herself for more action!

“Right.” Danny said when he got back. “So are you two doing anything tonight?” He asked.

We were. But we weren’t about to turn down Danny Wallace! So L and I looked at each other and said, “Uh… not really. Just walking around?”

“Just walking around? Okay, well, I’ve got you these tickets. Really good seats at the Royal Albert Hall to see…”

Here it comes.

“… Paul McCartney?”

Holy Fuck.

“WHAT???” L and I both said in unison.





“Oh my GOD! Are you craaazy??? Jeeezas!” I yelled to no one in particular. I was completely freaked out that my hero was giving me and my friend free tickets to see a fucking BEATLE. At the ROYAL freaking ALBERT HALL.



Danny, looking really pleased at our genuine fan reactions, said, “Yeah! Great seats. Row 1. My producer, Dave, is coming down right now to give you the tickets!”

“Oh wow, seriously??? Seriously, Thank you, Mr. Wallace. But I honestly did NOT come here to win anything from you. I really truly just wanted to meet you, and that totally would have been enough!”

“Aww, I know…” he said, sincerely. “But this is my birthday present! For you! Happy Birthday!”

Damn it. He was amazing. I could have died, right then and there. My hero, ladies and gentlemen. 


Dave, the (really cute) producer, appeared soon enough with the tickets on hand!
Introductions were made, then small talk, then they handed me the tickets, and finally, sadly, the goodbyes.

I thanked Danny again for being so nice, and for the present, and told him how much a pleasure it was to finally meet him!
He gave me another hug and wished me well. He even said he was going to use this “hero” stuff as material for his radio show the next morning! How. Cool. Is. That?

We parted ways… Danny and Dave walked back to their building, and L and I walked to our tube stop. I waited for them to be out of sight before I allowed myself to completely lose it.

When I was sure they were gone… Yep. I completely lost it.

The words (or jibberish) that were coming out of my mouth, in full decibel levels, and on repeat and shuffle, were the following:
“Aaah”, “Oh my God”, “L”, “Eeeee” “I can’t believe this” “I’m dying” “Danny” “Wallace” “My heart” “I can’t breathe” and “Beatle.”


I was on the phone to anyone I knew who knew about the “Danny Wallace Interception” plan… Mom (A), Dad (K), Hunky C, Ginger T, my travel partner K...
I was BURSTING with LOVE and HAPPINESS!

I was suspended in disbelief. It started out as a silly plan. I literally just said – “I’m going to London. Ooooh I’m going to meet Danny Wallace!”
Never in my wildest dreams did I think it was actually going to happen… and it was sooo much better than I could have ever imagined. 
THAT… my friends… Is the power of thought… and the law of attraction!

Meeting Danny was, quite literally, one of the big moments of my life. I know it sounds silly. Most people look up to Princess Diana, or Mother Theresa, The Dalai Lama, or Nelson Mandela. And rightfully so!
But Danny Wallace’s influence on me is just as significant and impactful as the great heroes of our time’s influence on society.
I think what I love most about him is that he’s just a guy. Not a royal, not a politician, nor a nun. He’s an awkward man, living his life in the most entertaining and humane way that he could. People (like me) are able to relate to him through his writing. His stories and adventures make such a big and positive effect on his readers, even if the main point he is trying to make is just to reconnect with old friends, or to say ‘yes’ more. Simple, innocent, and funny. He just makes me feel like, even if I’m just me… clumsy and quirky and all … that I count. And that I, too, can make a difference.

That day, ouside Capitol Radio in Leicester Square… was one of the best days of my life.
For how many of us could say we’ve met our heroes after all?

The King and I

Watch out for Part 2 of this post -- Read all about My adventures with L at the Royal Albert Hall with Sir Paul McCartney :)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

27 of 30: (Mis)Adventures in Babysitting


So the decision to babysit did not necessarily come from the desire to be – as our little friend from Jerry Maguire calls it – a child technician, but rather – from an innate curiosity.
I always see 12 or 13 year old babysitters in movies and I could hardly believe it. Babies are so fragile! They need feeding, changing, entertaining and attention constantly! I guess I thought – if a 12 year old could do it, then dude. It should be a freaking piece of cake for me! I have a degree!


So while I was visiting with my friends A (Mom) and K (Dad) in Cardiff during my birthday trip, I took the initiative to kick them out of the house so they could go on a proper date. I would then be in charge of their 2 kids, Tristan (7 months) and Trinity (11 years).
I had a few days to observe Mom’s ‘system’ with Tristan. Feed him when he’s hungry (which is literally, ALL THE TIME), change him when he poops, and put him to bed when he’s sleepy. I’ve also picked up some really cute tell tales… like, when he gets sleepy, he makes “A-a-ahhhh… A-a-aahhhh…” noises that sound exactly like The Little Mermaid when the sea witch tries to take her voice from her. :) 





This was going to be Ace of Cakes!

Mom prepared a sumptuous dinner for all three of us that were going to be left behind. And when everything was in order, I kicked them out of the house, and ordered them to have a great time!

Finally, it was just me and the kiddies.
In the first hour, we were all just chilling. Hanging out. At one point, Trinity yelled something like – “Yay! No parents!”

Yay indeed.

Then it was time to eat! I had to feed Tristan while Trinity and I were eating… which, when you think about it, doesn’t really sound that bad.
But you haven’t seen the anomaly that is a hungry Tristan.

That boy is the most DEMANDING eater I have ever encountered. He starts banging his fists and makes loud growls right after the spoon leaves his mouth. I swear – his internal monologue probably sounded like a Scottish Viking, saying – “FEED me, ya big lass! Get in ma belly!!!”
He may be the cutest baby in the world, but that kid petrifies me when he’s hungry.
So you can imagine how I had to stuff my food in my mouth faster than you can say “Fat Bastard” just to appease Tristan’s growing boy demands. Nevertheless, a hungry baby is always better than a baby you have to force-feed. As far as I could tell, everything was still going smoothly… up until I realized I had no idea what to do with him after. I turned to my trusty partner and said – “Uh… so what should we do now, Trin?”

“We need to give him a bath.” – she said, matter-of-factly, with an air of authority.

“Great!” I said with equal confidence, ignoring the fact that I was taking babysitting cues from an 11 year old girl.
A bath! That was a good plan.
My poise was quickly deflated though upon the realization that Mom never taught me how to give Tristan a bath. What should the temperature be? Which one is his soap? His shampoo? How long should he splash about? Does he have a basin?

Slight panic.

“So… you’ve given him baths before, right Trin?”

“Yah.” – and there again, with authority. Clearly, Trinity was going to take the lead on this one. Thank God.
Bathing him only took a few minutes. The difficulties he gave me while feeding him, he made up for when he bathed. He LOVES water! No fuss, no crying, just happily splashed about! I felt really silly for panicking. This was easy!

Happy Baby in the Bath

I took him out of the bath, rubbed him dry, and plopped him down on his changing table to clothe him. I put his nappy on, turned around to get his onesie, and then...
I froze.

In the 2 seconds it took for me to get his clothes, Tristan managed to grab the hand sanitizer and put it in his mouth. It was one of those bottles that had a pump. And the pump was far down his tonsil.





This is what goes down in the next few minutes…

I SCREAM.
I Yank the sanitizer out of his mouth.
TRISTAN CRIES.
I put my finger in his mouth to check if he had pumped anything.
TRISTAN CRIES EVEN MORE.
I pull my finger out. It was wet. I could not determine whether the liquid was sanitizer or just Tristan’s saliva.
I check the sanitizer and pump it to see if it was easily pumpable.
It was easily pumpable.
Trinity comes in and asks calmly, in a British accent – “Izzee gonna get poisoned?”
My eyes grow wide. “SHUSH TRIN!”
My heart beats even faster.
One teardrop falls.
I pick Tristan up, wipe his mouth, and give him water.
I grab my phone and Google the following: “are hand sanitizers organic?” “can babies eat hand sanitizers?” “hand sanitizer poisoning” “my baby ate hand sanitizer” “how to replace a friend’s baby”

I think Googling those things were my lowest point that evening.

I don’t know why I did it, but I checked Tristan’s eyes to check if they were dilated. It seemed like the most medical thing to do! I see people do it on TV all the time! I just didn't really know what a dilated pupil looked like, or what it meant! But as far as I could tell, they were fine. He stopped crying when I picked him up, and he wasn’t showing any signs of hand sanitizer poisoning.

Phew.

After I’d had a moment to breathe, I realized he probably just cried from the initial shock of me grabbing the sanitizer from his mouth, and he probably didn’t even have the mouth strength to pump that bottle.
But Jeez that was one of the biggest scares of my life. So much could have gone wrong in 2 seconds! And in my deranged state, thoughts of making myself pregnant to replace Mom’s baby ACTUALLY crossed my mind.

Like I said – lowest point.

Anyway… a few minutes later, I hear it. Ariel’s song.

“A-a-ahhhh… A-a-aahhhh…”

“Keeep singing!!!” I said, silently giggling to myself.

The baby was ready for bed.

I don’t know if it was from the excitement of the hand-sanitizer-almost-mishap, or that I was just really really lucky that night, but Tristan fell asleep in my arms pretty quickly.
I placed him on Mom and Dad’s bed, using Ros Gellar’s “Hug and Roll” trick from Friends (“… just as she’s about to drift off, you HUG her, and roll her back on to her side of the bed.") Worked like a charm!

With the baby out of the way, I had time to do everything else, like clean up, do the dishes, put "Hugo" on for Trinity to watch, finish Trinity’s Easter Hat project which was due the next day, and send Trinity off to take a shower so that I could braid her hair to make it curly in the morning.

In the middle of all of this, I kept checking up on Tristan every 5 minutes to make sure he was breathing.

And finally, after what seemed like hours of “Cinderella” time, the dishes were washed, the dining table cleaned, Trinity’s hat Easterized, Trinity’s hair braided like Alicia Keys, and the baby – still asleep like a… well, like a baby.

I sat down to finish the remainder of Hugo. I had a good cry… which could possibly have come from exhaustion, not the movie. Trinity wanted to return the favor by braiding my hair, and so I let her… And that’s what Mom and Dad came to find when they returned.

When they walked in, I gave them the “shush” sign, signalling that Tristan was upstairs and sound asleep. I’m sure I looked quite impressive, sitting calmly on the couch as their daughter braided my hair, shushing them in the middle of their sparkling clean house, with their baby sound asleep in their room… But inside, I was soooo glad they were home.

How could 12 year olds handle babysitting jobs??? It takes SO MUCH responsibiltiy! That hand sanitizer incident was enough to teach me that ANYTHING could happen, even if you’re the most responsible ADULT in the world! How could kids handle that kind of pressure?

Oh I dunno. I may be overreacting. In hindsight, I did everything I was supposed to. I didn’t burn anything or break anything (or anyone!)
Although, I couldn’t have done it without Trinity’s help, that’s for sure. And did I mention she’s 11?


Mom and Dad seemed pretty happy to have had their little time off. It’s tough, being parents. It's literally a 24 hour job!
I had about 3.5 hours with the kids, and I was ready to throw the towel in. It’s nuts!

I think I was pretty good about keeping my composure though. As far as they could tell, I was as cool as a cucumber.
But at the end of the night, when the movie was done and Trinity was off to bed, Mom asked – “Hey Earth do you want some alcoho—“

“YES!”

I don’t know why, but my body gave an involuntary jerk when I said that.

Mom smiled, and she poured me a glass of my favorite hard pear cider.

“You deserve it.”




Tristan and Trinity ♥

Thursday, May 3, 2012

26 of 30: In Which I Attempt To Master The Ukulele


I received a ukulele as a birthday present from my sisters. Probably one of – if not the best present I’ve ever received from them!
I discovered I could play it when my cousin brought hers to one of our family Christmas gatherings. I play the guitar so learning to play the uke came pretty naturally to me. I had never even held a ukulele, nor heard someone play it live before that Christmas… but I loved it! It was love at first…hear. Coming from something so tiny, the sound is so crisp – so whole! It’s so cute, it literally makes you feel like you’re in a beach somewhere exotic when you hear someone play.

So yeah. I love my ukulele. :)

I didn’t get serious about playing it till recently though. When I first got it, I only knew a few beginner chords and played typical popular songs from Jason Mraz or Train or Ingrid Michaelson... You know, the really easy ones!  Here's one of the first songs I learned how to play, and I sang it with my sister. It only had 4 chords! :)





video
"Pack Up" by Eliza Doolittle
My sister is so cute!

Now, well, inspired by this little project I'm in, I’ve taught myself (with the help of Youtube) how to play riffs and transitions and chords that make my left hand look like an old lady tangled up in a vine. Pretty cool hardcore stuff! I wanted to try and pick one instrument I could master, instead of just knowing how to play a whole bunch of them. I was getting tired of being mediocre.
But I think the Ukulele is it! It's the one! <3


When K and I went to Salzburg, we hung out with her friend Hannah and husband, Szaby. Szaby is a classical guitarist, and he happened to own a concert ukulele from Cebu! All four of us were musically inclined, so naturally, what was supposed to be just a simple dinner get-together turned out to be a rockin’ jam session! I grabbed their uke and played around with it, strumming one of the new songs I was working on. Szaby, almost on cue got his guitar and - thanks to his magic ears - played along without a hitch. K googled the lyrics and warmed up her vocal chords, and Hannah made up some harmonies as she set up the video camera!

In that household... That windy night... In Salzburg... Music was serious bizness.

After one practice round – this is what we came up with.

video
"Dream A Little Dream Of Me" Mama Cass Elliot
K on Vocals, Me on the Uke, Szaby on Lead Guitar
Notice my hands getting all fancy? :)

Not too shabby, eh? In our whole trip, this was one of my favorite nights. It was totally unexpected... but music brought us together! La Musique est tres gentil! :)

My experiences with the ukulele didn’t stop at learning it… in fact, one of my greatest accomplishments is TEACHING someone how to play it! Particularly an 11 year old girl!

Just about a week after Salzburg, I was to attend a Naming Ceremony for my godson, Tristan, in the UK. A few months before, I was tasked, along with Trinity (my goddaughter and Tristan’s sister) to perform a song during the ceremony; Trinity on the uke, and myself on vocals. There were a couple challenges we had to overcome. First was that Trinity didn’t know how to play the uke, so I had to teach her. Second was that they live in the UK, and I live in LA. So the lessons had to be conducted online... through Skype.

Ahh. The wonder of technology.

Their mother, A, who happens to be one of my best friends, at least gave us ample time to get it together. The lessons started a couple months before the ceremony, and I have to say --- they actually went better than I had expected. Trinity is a freaking musical genius. Kids… they absorb everything so quickly! It only took us a few lessons for her to be able to play the song, and she bloody ROCKED it! Admittedly, I was pretty nervous at the whole concept of teaching someone how to play an instrument – let alone, ONLINE. I had my apprehensions, and I had mentally prepared a speech on backing off the whole performance if the lessons didn’t go well – but they did! I’d like to think that I’m just THAT good a teacher, but I have to give all the credit to Trinity. She’s a fast learner and musically gifted. She just understands music!
Ahh… reminds me of an 11 year old me… :)

By the time the Naming Ceremony rolled in, Trinity and I were golden. And I’m sure everyone in the audience would agree that we gave a ROCKING performance! Drove the ladies to tears! Unfortunately, no one had half a mind to record our brilliance… Ayayay. It was one of those times where everyone assumed that someone MUST have been recording it. But no one did.

It’s sad. Really. :(

But due to insistent public demand, Trinity and I did a repeat performance. It’s not as fancy as it would have been in the ceremony, but we did pretty well all the same. Here it is…



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"Never Alone" by Lady Antebellum
Trinity on the Uke, Me on Vocals
Our friend, C, on Cinematography :)

Tadaa! A rockstar, right? I'm so proud of my pupil!!! :)

I loooove this instrument! It’s handy, it’s cute, you can bring it anywhere, and it sounds amaaazing! I have a long way to go, but I will continue to master the uke. The goal is to play better than Zooey Deschanel, and maybe one day play a duet with JGL. Or Jack Johnson.



Wish me luck! :)