Tag Archives: branching out

Laugh

I catch the sound of myself laughing and think, “Is that my laugh? Really? Does it always sound like that or have I fabricated this tone?”  And I don’t know the answer.  I can’t remember what it sounded like last time, if I am just laughing or producing the sound I consciously think of as “laugh.”

It’s not beyond me to create a habit.  When I was little I saw someone stick their tongue out in concentration.  I liked it.  So I tried it too; every time I needed to concentrate I stuck my tongue out.  Years later I found myself sticking my tongue out involuntarily.  A quirk of my own creation.  It isn’t far fetched to think I have created my laugh as well.  Who knows.

My best friend since middle school is a firm believer in the power to change yourself.  New hobbies, new habits, new ways of looking at the world.  These things are within your control despite our tendencies to bemoan the trap of “who I really am.”  Not that she is capricious or inconstant.  We’ve been friends for close to two decades and I can still easily see the eleven-year-old she was.  But each of us has a lot of possibilities available to us.  Inertia traps us, our repetitive motions give us a false sense of security so we don’t have to face the vast field of “could be.”

Maybe this is my “real” laugh.  Maybe I imitated a sound years ago and it stuck.  Does it really matter?  I still laugh at the same things and only laugh when I think something is actually funny.  So I guess I’m saying I don’t think it does matter what the laugh sounds like.  You can experiment with your ways of being in the world, you can decide things about and for yourself.  At the core stay true to yourself, but superficially there is a lot of room to play around.

Catching a man

I met my husband at an indie rock show in Brooklyn.  I almost didn’t go, all of my friends bailed, I had a headache, I’d already taken out my contacts and put on my glasses, usually sure signs that slipping on my PJs and breaking out my book was just around the corner.  But my little brother had told me about this band, they were playing just two subway stops away, so I dragged on my bulky winter coat and forced myself out of the house, stopping to check my reflection only to make sure that I was indeed fully dressed.

I got there early, I’m early for everything.  One other girl was already waiting.  We chit-chatted because it would have been more awkward not to say anything.  I don’t have any recollection what she said except she was from New Jersey and she really liked the band.  I thought she was weird.  Other people started showing up.  I scanned the collected group dispassionately.  I was most concerned with going inside before I got so bored of waiting with this weird girl that my headache turned into a bad mood.  Then T-shirt guy came up to us and started talking.  Great.  Now he and my new friend from New Jersey were buddies and I was standing close enough to them that I had to contribute to this conversation.  God damn it, why did I have to play chaperone to these weirdos who meet at shows and then become friends on Myspace or whatever?  I hate not being able to relate to my own species.  ‘Stop it,’ I told myself, ‘don’t scowl, act like one of those normal people that’s allowed to leave their house unattended!’  The doors opened.  I was just about to be relieved, but I’d forgotten that as one of the first people in I was facing an empty room.

Though I’d decided not to drink so as not to interfere with the Advil I took before leaving the house, I immediately went downstairs to the ATM for money so that I could buy a beer.  T-Shirt was pocketing his money and heading back up as I approached the machine.  I got my money and went back as well.  Jersey-freak had skittered away somewhere, not old enough to drink; T-Shirt was at the bar.  Do I conspicuously sit as far away as possible at this empty bar?  ‘Quick,’ I thought,’ what would a normal, not hating all of humanity and loathing social contact type person do?’  I left one bar stool between us.  ‘Why don’t I just be a friendly person, I’m bored, the band will take forever and if I don’t talk I will drink WAY too fast.’  So I said hi again, introduced myself, chattered away about something, he chatted back but broke off his participation now and again to look over my shoulder.  He finally hopped up having spotted the person he was looking for.  By then the room had a crowd, his seat was quickly filled.  ‘What a relief,’ I thought, finally safe with my drink and the dim light, the anonymity, and eventually the music.

I ran into T-Shirt throughout the show.   I stood outside with him between sets as he smoked.  The conversation was pleasant enough that I wasn’t too annoyed that the cigarette caused us to miss half a song.  We exchanged phone numbers, at which point I had to confess that I’d paid no attention to his name.  He told me it was Aaron (*facepalm, so simple!), made it worse by remembering my name, Analía (A nawhata? Who the hell remembers a name like that?), and proceeded to add insult to injury by getting the spelling either right or really close.  I chuckled sarcastically to myself, ‘yeah, this is going well.’

Apparently it did go well because he actually called me.

A couple of weeks later we went on a date that essentially lasted all day, and a year later he married me.  So here’s to letting go of expectations and plans and just letting life happen to you, headache or no.  Happy anniversary, Aaron.

An unlikely review

We interrupt your regularly scheduled blog experience for a bit of an experiment: I’m going to review an album I have absolutely no business reviewing. It will be awkward and out of place, and you will be glad you read it!

First off, a confession, I am incredibly out-of-touch and incurably uncool.  In preparation for writing this I googled “what’s the difference between rap and hip hop” because I honestly couldn’t figure it out.  Still can’t.  The internet is useless sometimes.  Those more in the know will have to forgive me if I sound ignorant, but despite a penchant for folksy indie-rock, yoga, and veggie burgers, I feel compelled to share my impression of the first studio album of Hartford’s own Joey Batts & Them, Bowtie Chronicles.

“Boom Bap” is my favorite selection off of the album, probably because of its great rock edge.  It makes me want to ball up my tiny fists, punch a wall, and tear around town on my bicycle like I mean business.  More than just a bad-ass beat, Boom Bap has plenty of the signature Joey Batts word play, so sophisticated (dare I call it high brow?) that you might need a college degree to prepare for it.

The final track, “Spaceship”, is an incredible, autobiographical piece.  Raw and unflinching, it’s the story of the quotidian tragedies that go unseen, the angry pain of people who life kicks the shit out of, but they can’t or won’t roll over and play dead.  You know people like this, they are your friends and neighbors and lovers.  Your heart aches because you hope they get to take a break from fighting to find a little peace one day.

If you live in the Greater Hartford Region, this might be your one and only chance to hear your area code memorialized in rhyme in “860”.  As a former 305-er I found this pretty amusing (I mean Miami is legitimately cool, but Connecticut…?)  Still, if you are a resident of New England’s “Rising Star” you are in the enviable position of being able to see Joey Batts & Them live.

Joey Batts is a phenomenal performer.  In the dim, grim, and frankly more than a bit sketchy cave of Sully’s Pub, he circulates through the crowd , talking to everyone, before exploding onto the stage with a superhuman energy and enviable charisma.  He’s not far off base in “Best Friend” when he claims he’s cooler than anyone you know.  Talk to him for five minutes and you’ll find yourself hoping he’ll hang out with you later.

In the interest of full disclosure, I love Joey.  I used to live with his sister in Brooklyn, and he’s family.  What’s wonderful about having talented people in your life with interests that diverge from your own is that it opens up your world.  If someone said to me, “Come see Hartford’s greatest alternative hip hop act!” I would have responded, “Rap? Huh? Who? What?”  But it’s Joey!  So I’ve been to a couple of shows.  I’ve listened to music that I didn’t understand, listened to it carefully and more than once because I wanted to get more out of it than a paltry first impression.

And look at that!  When you wander outside of your comfort zone, out of your knee-jerk responses, you find brilliant things!  You find poetry and emotion and @*#!ing humanity in ways that you never could have imagined.  I, for one, am grateful for a life filled with unexpected discoveries.

Check it out, here.  http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/bowtie-chronicles/id566409634  And here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X0ZLdZqFQS0