Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Piano Lessons

When I came to Thailand I started taking piano lessons - something my mother, in Ohio, is probably infinitely grateful to my mother here for. My Ohio mother has been trying to get me to learn piano since I was about five. She said I needed to try something I wasn't good at.

It is true that music isn't my forte. When I started piano, my teacher, Mr. Octopus (or at least that is what his Thai name roughly translates to), made me sing the notes as I played.

Do. Re. Me. So. Fa. La. Te. Do. Re. Me. Re. Me. Do. So. Me. Do....

Not only did I feel dorky, but I like I said music isn't my forte, I am a sucky singer. By my third lesson, my piano teacher had even reached his limit. Among all his little crazy children students, I, the fourteen year old, had pushed him to the edge.

Mr. Octopus said, "Fine, fine, you don't sing is okay!" And so I stopped. He proceeded to ask me if I was Christian. Kind of confused, I told him I was. Then he asked if I went to church on Sunday and if I sang there, like people do in most Christian congregations. I said yes, of course.

To which Mr. Octopus responded with gusto "Your poor God! He must have to plug his ears whenever you sing!" No joke. My piano teacher said this on the third day I ever saw him.

But yesterday at my lesson, I started singing again. I don't know how it happened - probably as I was trying to keep all the sixteenth notes straight as I practiced. I started out sounding as crappy as before. I could practically imagine God wincing at the sound. But then my voice pitched up and all of a sudden I was singing falsetto. And it sounded good.

Mr. Octopus clapped his hands together and leaned his big square face in. "You is a soprano!" he said in awe.

Then he made me sing the whole song twice in a row as he listened. Then he turned to me and said, "Tell you're mother to forgets science classes, you need to go to be a singer. You need to major in music and become a professional."

This from a man who's only comment on my singing up to that day was that it would cause God to plug his ears. Who would have guessed.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Best of Both Worlds

There are two separate worlds that I would like to be mine. In one, hot fresh bagels crispy from toasting, come in crisp paper bags. It is trendy and sleek and new age. Everything is clean cut and artsy in this world .I have rows and rows of Staedler stainless steel mechanical drafting pencils and 100 shades of pens.

I walked out of Au Bon Pain - the only decent bakery in Thailand - with my bagel and cold milk in a trendy plastic bag with a compartment for each food item. As someone who once spent an hour looking through a package design book, after walking 4 miles to get to the graphic design bookstore, I have to appreciate the genius of their packaging.

I like this world with toasted bagels and trendy bags. I like my artsy world, where everything comes in neat packages. Crisp. That is what it is. The crisp folds of paper and the crispiness of my bagel. I can see myself staying, here, in this place and being deliriously happy.

I could create in this world. I could draw out the designs and manufacture the trendy bags. I could have a CD rack, filled with CD's organized by genre or color of the case or birthday of the artist. I could have a stereo system and a Macbook. I could have sausages with mehindi patterns on them in the fridge.

But there is another place that I would like to be. A place where there are still bagels - I don't think I could exist anywhere without bagels - but maybe not toasted. I think back one year from this day. Last Summer, I was in Canada, at camp. For ten beautiful days I canoed, hiked, rock climbed, swam and carried everything I needed on my back, with 9 other incredible friends.

If I could, I would stretch those ten days out for a life time. I would leave in the bug bites, the rattle snakes and even the thunderbox - the dreaded camp toilet.

I want that too. Big skys, bare feet and grungy clothes. I want to also keep that joy.