New Music and New Friends

Guitar Goddess

I love surprises and spontaneous adventures, and recently, after asking Goddess for a wee bit more spice in my life, some amazingly fun things have popped up.

Yesterday afternoon, my mother received a phone call asking her if she’d be interested in attending a concert that evening. The caller had an extra ticket that she wanted to share. My mom then called me and asked me if I wanted to go and she offered to pay for my ticket as a birthday gift (I love that my birthday is being celebrated for almost a month!). As always, up for an adventure, I instantly agreed without even knowing who was performing or what was involved.

Two hours later, we arrived early at the venue and decided to walk the grounds while we waited. As we walked, we met an older gentleman and we began chatting. Even though we had never met, all three of us felt quite comfortable in each other’s presence…like long-time friends. As we turned to walk back to the theatre, the gentleman asked if we’d purchased tickets. I responded no, as we were waiting for the rest of our party. He then stated that he’d purchased two tickets and offered one to us! Happy Birthday to me!! er…for you, Mom. Guess you get to come up with another way to spend that money ūüôā

We three sat together during the concert, and had a splendid time. The performer was exquisite, but the gentleman’s company equally so. It definitely felt like a magical moment in time when all things come together at once as though Divinely appointed and orchestrated.

The performer, Lily Afshar, is a classical guitarist. She was the first woman guitarist to earn a Doctoral Degree in guitar performance and is now a professor at the University of Memphis. Originally from Iran, her performance list incorporated many pieces from Spain, Argentina, Venezuela, Paraguay,¬†Turkey and Iran…many of which she arranged or commissioned.¬†

Her performance lived up to all accolades. Her touch is light but with purpose; strong but with nuance. Many times I shifted in my seat in amazement in order to better view her fingers so I could see how she was creating such sounds. Her fingerwork was so clean that I never heard them squeak against the strings (a sound I detest), nor did she pluck a string just to have it die before it could resonate (another thing that frustrates my ears). There was no sliding from one note to the next, unless the piece specifically called for it as an effect. Just simple, clean, elegant, delightful and precise playing.

Thank you Goddess for yet another fun adventure, new music and new friends!

Spaahbulous!

and more

This week is my birthday week, which is a little more important than my birthday month, but not as important as the actual day. I firmly believe in celebrating for as long as possible and involving as many people as possible, for each person brings out varying¬†characteristics in me…and there is a lot of food that really needs tasting.

One of the many things I have done so far this week is to visit Los Angeles. The longer I live in Southern California, the more I absolutely love it here…and Los Angeles in particular; both quite big surprises to me. But, I’ve found some places that really require multiple visits, so I included a couple of those this week.¬†Spaahbulous and More (http://www.spanmore.com/)¬†is one of those places.

From the outside, it’s fairly easy to miss as the front faces a small strip mall with a paid parking lot. Parking is challenging to find in Chinatown, so if you’re only willing to circle the block 2 times (like me), I recommend paying for the lot.

The waiting area is very clean and modern and decorated very simply, using Feng¬†Suei principles. I’ve never waited long (1-2 minutes), and when called, I pass through a darkened door into a dark room. Although dark, the room isn’t completely blacked out…there are a few yellow, red and orange hidden bulbs and a few scattered candles. Linen drapes¬†across the ceiling, there’s a wall fountain, soothing music, and the wall murals are in varying shades of olive-green and bamboo tan.

Because this is a reflexology experience and not a massage, there are a few differences. For starters, I try to take off everything that is unnecessary but still allows me to remain¬†respectable, as I’m sharing the room with 7 other silent people. I’m then seated on a large and comfy ottoman and I put my bare feet in a large lined basket filled with hot water with an herbal brew. I honestly have never noticed a scent…even when my face is very close to it, so I have no idea what’s in it. Lisa (my bodyworker) stands behind me, places a pillow between my back and her body and starts at my head and scalp. She moves down to my neck and shoulders and then hands me the pillow so I can lean over while she works the full length of my back. This is my favorite part, for she really digs in and I notice that there are parts of my body that are super tender that I never knew existed. Even better, I feel internal organs responding to those tender spots and I am super excited that my bodyworker knows what she’s doing.

I then move to the large comfy chair and she works my shoulders, arms and hands, then my legs and feet. Again, she pinches and snaps and thumps and digs in to unknown pathways in my body and I find myself giggling through the temporary discomfort as I feel entire systems within my body twitching and responding to her touch. By the time she’s completed the 1.5 hours (for $25), I am completely undone. As she hands me tea, I tell her I want to hug her.

In the bathroom, I attempt to pull myself together and present some¬†semblance¬†of order and decorum, but I quickly realize that I just don’t care one whit. I’m so relaxed and fabulous that I’m ready to take on the world for nothing can touch me. In a word…I’m spaahbulous…and more.

A Glockenspiel and Cake

How fun is this?!

I am a planner. I thrive on schedules and budgets and tend to hyperventilate whenever I see a display of organizational tools and new office supplies. I am also a researcher. Whenever I travel, I love researching all the possibilities for exploration in whichever chosen destination as well as studying into the history of a place (a.k.a. colorful citizens and¬†scandalous¬†events). The best part though, is the planning out of the details of the flights and hotels and the restaurants and the tours and then dreaming about it before it even happens. I remember reading about a study researching this phenomenon of planning vacations which apparently proves that my experience is true (http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/02/18/how-vacations-affect-your-happiness/). Like other inalienable rights, I found the study so odd when I read it because it seems like such a redundant and self-evident thing. But, I suppose it never hurts to have a study support one’s neuroses.

Given all this joy and excitement connected to planning, it’s surprising then that I actually went on a trip last week with very little planning…and most of it done in the two days prior to leaving. Amazingly, everything fell together easily,¬†as though I were the center of the Universe. Even with all the planning I’ve done for previous trips, nothing worked this well…even though sometimes I truly believed I was the center of the Universe.

The day after I arrived, I went to visit the department within the university which was the purpose for the trip. I felt a little awkward about it because for the first time, I hadn’t called ahead to make arrangements and set an appointment. Instead, I decided that I would be open to whatever exciting things would unfold during this visit.

When I arrived at the department’s door at the end of the long hallway, I saw the above sign and the child’s version of a glockenspiel and instantly started giggling. I picked up the mallet and proceeded to play whatever came to mind, ending with a minor descending 3rd to call for help. A student magically appeared…I wondered if this wasn’t a genie-like instrument. I introduced myself and explained why I was there and apologized for not calling ahead. She opened the door, motioning me in and exclaimed, “Oh, come on in! Everyone will be so excited to meet you! And, it’s our boss’ birthday today and we’re all eating cake and celebrating!”

I was so surprised at her welcoming invitation, but felt very embarrassed that I’d arrived during such an¬†occasion, so I thanked her for her hospitality and then explained that I didn’t want to intrude and would return another day. She grabbed my hand and insisted on leading me to the back room. She introduced me and everyone there repeated her excited welcome leaving me completely astounded. Someone served me a massive slice of carrot cake (the only cake I like) and then they invited me to also help myself to the table’s contents: homemade enchiladas, Spanish rice, queso panela (yum!), freshly chopped cilantro (excellent!) and green sauce (my favorite!). It was heavenly.

Ninety minutes later, after much laughter, delicious food and excellent conversation, I had signed the boss’ birthday card and made six new friends. Although planning definitely has its perks and can bring much happiness due to anticipation, the adventure and pleasure of such unexpected parties is even better…especially one involving a glockenspiel and cake.

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