Appreciation, Hip Hop and Fatherhood

As a musician and a teacher, I have had the pleasure to be a part of many cool moments of discovery. This even happens with my daughter sometimes. I still remember with pride when I asked her “Can I Kick It” and she replied (appropriately) “Yes You Can”. Thank you, Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Ali Shaheed and Jarobi for that moment. 

Recently I had another one of those with my kid. She asked to listen to “Intergalactic” by the Beastie Boys…so  I put it on in the car. She said she likes the robot sounds in the song, but she always cracks at the end of the track when Biz Markie jumps in at the end of it. We listened to it again with the same result, so I decided to play “Just A Friend” for her. She loved it and sang the chorus the whole way home. 

Soon we’ll have an awesome playlist for our father-daughter car rides.

Playing Games

I’m sitting here watching my kid play with her friend and I start to reflect on what winter breaks of the past.

Winter break has always been tricky for me, like my kid I need a structured day. Work tends to give me the grounding I need, a task list or a deadline gives my day order. Whether I get it all done or not depends on the amount of time allowed over the course of my day.

Last year at this time and in this vacuum, I was totally lost. However, my kid seemed to have a plan. With no hesitation to my question “What should we do today?” my kid answers “Let’s play a game. Let’s play the lava game!”

We then proceeded to build an obstacle course from the playroom through the living room and into the dining room. Which in truth is all one big space anyways, but our furniture makes it feel like three separate spaces.

Knowing this my kid makes a course which requires us to climb up, in and over stuff. Stepping on, crawling through and stretching over stuff like pillows, shoes, pots and pans blankets and trampolines.

Needless to say after doing this for about 30 minutes as fast as we could go I was sufficiently sweaty. Sucks being old and out of shape…still fun though!

Contact

The other day I talked with my uncle over the phone. We joked around and laughed at each other for being too serious. I guess that’s just where I’m at these days.

With social media making it possible for friends to stay in touch, I forgot what it was like to actually talk to my friends and hear them laugh.

Although social networking sites make it easier to see what your friends are up to, it seems that I talk to them less or not at all. I know they’re “doing fine”, so I don’t need to bother them with a phone call or meet them for a drink.

We all seem super busy with family and work pulling at us in all directions. I guess I just forgot about actual person to person contact.

Podcasts and Eddie Huang

There are times when I feel I’m getting too much of something. Lately, it’s been, a lot of  Eddie Huang. Everywhere I turn I see or hear him. He’s everywhere and I kinda like it.

Recently I listened to an NPR podcast called What’s Good with Stretch and Bobbito. The topics have been broader than I expected, and it’s been refreshing to listen to these guys banter with each other and conduct interviews with their guests. But, for my first listen to What’s Good was with Eddie Huang. He talked about his book “Fresh Off The Boat”, which led to the creation of a TV show of the same title. They discussed his show on Vineland, Huang’s World.

One of the ideas that Eddie Huang communicates, which really resonates with me, is the idea that you can look at a plate of food and learn about the culture of a region. I think about that when ever I cook food I think my mother and grandmother would appreciate. His shows also remind me of another truth about myself, I am first born-first generation American and that come with some built in straddling of cultures.

The things students do

The past four weeks have been quite difficult for me. I had to take a significant amount of time away from my day job as a middle school music teacher to care for my father. I’m sure I’ll have more to say about that as I continue to cope with losing him. However with all that has happened, my students remind me (yet again) why I am a teacher, by creating this message for me.

They did manage to include music we have been studying and a song I made them research earlier in the school year. Great way of connecting our curriculum. Nice job Soundview Class of 2017.

Coping with first day of 1st grade

000255x_rain_on_pavementMy breathing becomes labored, I don’t know what to do with my hands. By the time I get to my car, I’ve got several tears rolling down my face. Luckily it’s raining…so if anyone saw me they might think it was just the rain. It’s 9:30 in the morning on the first day of first grade for my kid and I can’t deal. The car door closes and I can’t hold my tears any more…

A few simple words sent me into this state. First I apologized to my kid for forgetting to give her, her medication. Then she said “It’s okay daddy, things happen. This will help me with my day, I’m really nervous”.  We talked some more and by the end of the conversation she gave me a hug and a kiss, then went back to her new classroom and I walked back to my car.

img_1024The image of her walking towards her classroom stayed with me the rest of the day. If I had this moment back, I might have ask her for one more hug.

Planets from my house part 6

My night started off with thoughts of jazz and beer. Brother Thelonious is great for both.

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Eventually I stayed up long enough to keep up with my latest hobby… Looking up. My kid calls Jupiter “daddy’s planet”, which lets me know the level of my geek is strong.

This may potentially be the last time I post about which planets I can see from my house. In general I feel the pictures I take with my iPhone does no justice to how cool I think this event is. The idea that I get to watch this pattern unfold before my very eyes is simply awesome. I think I’ll start saving up for a telescope. Perhaps my kid and I will enjoy looking up.Planets from my house part 6