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Kiku Collins: Old Blog to 12/09

New Blog page? - December 5, 2009

I'm trying to combine this blog and the new blog. How techie. ;)

Cleaning up and clearing out and finding... happiness! - November 23, 2009

I feel like I've been busy cleaning up my life, sifting through old memories, physically sorting through belongings and as always, happy to clear out unused items and put back in the universe for someone new to enjoy.

In this process, I've looked at mistakes, unhappy times, and general negativity and have found the happiness it covered up. Like a layer of dust, it's actually easy to clear it off. People in your past who made you walk on eggshells, people who coveted what you had, other yukkies... and now I sit here, watching my daughter do homework, enjoying her inquisitive questions and returning smiles and encouragement... and I realize how lucky I am to not only have such a great kid (to the core!) but also to have given myself value and worth enough to bring goodness into my life.

Waking up and knowing that I love my life, no matter what it brings, loving folks who are close to me and creeping into my space from other parts of the galaxy, realizing that I'm not obligated to like just anyone, just because - but I am obligated to appreciate everyone in whatever capacity they live in, and realize that those who have wronged me or loved ones deserve the realization of what they've done, and to change their own futures to embrace the truth.

This doesn't mean I forgive everyone for everything they've ever done wrong, to me and others. But I do know that I have not always been an angel (and of course we all have our moments in time, don't we?) But I have learned and improved my outlook, my realization of consequences, respect for both those I do and don't know, and also the ability to forgive myself and send love to the universe for everyone - even if I think they suck, personally. :)

Because people CAN wake up. People can clean up, dust off and discover happiness for themselves. We can't force them, just like we can't force others to clean out their closets and give the 70% of clothing they never wear to charity. But we can encourage and cheer on and back off. All it takes is love.

xo,
NP

Calgon? Hello? - November 15, 2009

I had a lovely Sunday. How was yours?

I didn't set any alarms this morning and slept past 8am. Luxury? Maybe not for some out there, but for me? Amazing and decadent.

I warmed up. Worked out. Dropped off a suitcase and a large bag of clothing at the Goodwill. Took a nice long walk. Even did some shopping which I never get to do. Funny thing, I bought nothing. I tried things on, thought they were cute, and decided they were unnecessary. With the clutter clearing I have been doing and continue to do as part of my life now, I think about every single item. Will I be dropping this off at the Goodwill next month?

Instead, I got cupped. It's a semi-secret indulgence of mine and I usually do it when I'm in dire pain or sick. Today? Felt pretty good, no sniffles. But I had time! And I feel like layers were broken through, bad qi was sucked out that had not been reachable for a long time. Thank goodness it's cool out and I have no immediate shows coming up. For those who have never gotten or seen someone who has been cupped, I'd suggest at least researching a bit. It doesn't hurt but actually feels very releasing and relaxing. The marks are an issue for some - I never get cupped in the summer or when I have a gig coming up. Though Gwynyth Paltrow did show up in public with cup marks showing at an event, which I found incredibly awesome. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/3879447.stm
Anyway, here I am. And now that a frustration in my life has come back in, my cup marks are dark and my spirit also went dark for a few moments. I know, things pass, things get better, and I have been good at getting past these moments. I guess it's the recurring ones with the same people, same events, same frustrations, that are like flies buzzing in your face. They annoy you and there's not a whole lot you can do in the end. Unless you walk away or kill them. Unfortunately, neither is an option here, and so I do what I do, I do my best, and I have faith that good will win.

Off to finish some things up, maybe lift a few weights, crunch a few crunches, toot a few notes, and try to get to bed before it becomes tomorrow. That 6am alarm seems to come awfully early, doesn't it?

Sending love and light and strength, goodness to those who don't utilize enough in their lives, and generosity to everyone. If everyone could give a little more instead of take, then everyone would receive more than they could ever imagine!

And as always, I'm ever grateful for my beautiful daughter. It's funny how children can anchor us and let us enjoy flying at the same time.

xo,
NP

Royal Albert Hall!!! - November 4, 2009

My car is coming in 30 minutes but I just had to put up a blog entry before I head to the airport. I can not express in words how magical this trip has been. I always feel blessed to play with and for the musicians that I do, but this was by far almost religious. I love my Bolton Band family so much, and welcome to the gorgeous new additions! As hard as we work, we put out and share so much love, that the hard work is just loads of fun. No matter how much my feet hurt, how awkward the choreography feels, how tough the charts are, how quick the mute changes are, whatever. I'm so lucky to be able to do what I do.

The hotel was a bit odd, and my room's heat was not working... finally on the third day they brought me a heater. It wasn't awful the other days but it would have been nicer a bit warmer. Otherwise, the gym was killing, which is always a treat for me since I'm so busy in NYC that I only work out at home now. Oh, and at the playgrounds on weekends.

Somehow I packed all of my purchases in my suitcase - hoping it's not overweight but if it is I do have other options... it's hard to keep my eyes open now but I have to finish up and check out soon. I'm so looking forward to being back home with my baby, back to my gluten free/dairy free options, my memory foam, my critters, and - laundry. Ready to buckle down and do more writing for the next record, reworking my chops a bit, doing some feng shui magic and donating more. Gotta think about these holidays coming up too, yikes! Luckily, most of my shopping here was for my little girl, so Santa has a head start!

Looking forward to snuggling with my baby again... be well and enjoy how you live your life!

xo,
NP

I'm sorry, what did you say? Girls can't WHAT? - October 30, 2009

http://girlscantwhat.com/who-says-trumpets-are-just-for-boys/
Thank you so much to Gretchen for helping to empower us girls to do whatever the heck we want to do! Love the concept, the design, and the obvious awesomeness of her messages!!!

xo,
NP

What Are You Going To Do With Your Life? - October 28, 2009

It's funny. As children, we decide our career and swear we will become whatever we think sounds cool - Veterenarian, Chef, Teacher, Tightrope Walker, Pizza Maker, Doctor, Astronaut, and yes, Musician.

As we grow, as we attend school, we are told to study everything. Some kids take it to heart and some don't see the point in Algebra, or Supreme Court (yeah, I got stuck in one of those classes...)

We enter our senior year of high school and are told to make a decision. At 16 years old or thereabouts, what would you like to do for the rest of your existence? For me, I pretty much thought music was all I COULD do. Everything else was mediocre to me, I liked writing and being active and reading, but most of all, I liked practicing (skipping classes to do so!) and playing that horn, performing - the bigger the audience the better, auditioning (can you believe it???), competing and otherwise, well, just keeping the horn on my mug.

When I speak with young musicians today about career, many seem to want to be a musician full time. I mean, I did it, why couldn't they?

They see the end result. They don't see the dues being paid, the tears shed, the self doubt that plagues me (and many other musicians) all throughout their careers. The lack of sleep to learn to be flawless on stage - sometimes for just one performance. The low paying or *GASP* free gigs. They see the glamour, the television appearances and stadium shows. The fancy clothes and fun makeup. The "effortless" movement.

There is SO much work involved. I'm not saying I don't love it. I do and I always have. I've decided that this may be my year for doing more clinics for younger people. I've been asked to do them for years and have been "too busy". But the truth is that I shouldn't be too busy to inspire the future. Heck, they'll be the ones I call to sub, they'll be the ones I hire! I never had the pleasure of having a role model doing what I wanted to do that was accessible. Back then it was as a classical musician. I couldn't exactly call up Maurice Andre. When I got into pop and jazz, as much as I'd like to have lunch with the Earth, Wind and Fire horn section and ask a few questions over pb&j, it just wasn't going to happen. I did get Very Lucky in meeting Lew Soloff through my brother who was his student for years. That was around age 15, and to this day, Lew and I are great friends and often hang out. However, back then, I was starstruck and couldn't ask a question. He had me play for him, told me how beautiful my sound was, and I carried that around 'til this day. I wish I had the balls back then to ask questions about his career path, or what he did to make it, the low points vs. high points. But I didn't. I'm amazed I could make a sound for him at all.

I met Jon Faddis briefly when I was younger, maybe at 14. But it was a shaky "hi" at best. That was it. Recently I got to re-meet Jon and we had a great time, I even got a lift home from the ITG conference in PA, so we had a great time talking. THAT was a moment that I may not have handled at a young age, but would probably have helped inspire me.

So, I'm putting it out there. This is my year to share. I've been shaping clinic ideas for a while, and while I've done things here and there, I'd love some feedback on what YOU as musicians or, any artist, youth, etc. would like to be able to ask someone who is doing what you hope to do someday. Would you want a full on participation clinic? Would you want me to just do a Q&A? Long or short performance? Bring a band or use the students in the school? What would inspire and stir the fire, what would make you think and honestly ask yourself, "What Do I Want To Do With My Life?"

Always remember, your life changes minute by minute. What you want to do now may not be the answer in 5 years. Or 5 minutes. One thing that I always encourage is keeping mind and options open. Explore as much as you can and focus on what you love, but don't throw the rest away. Algebra may just end up being important to you.

xo,
NP

Interesting way to use energy and time. - October 27, 2009

So, a few days back, I got some emails from a business that had backstepped on a promise for - get this - a prepaid shipping label to ship back damaged merchandise sent to me.

I ate the $60, sent the stuff back, blogged a bit in August about it, and let it leave my brain to leave space for the good stuff to move back in.

I got some disturbing emails from the person in charge, and I have since revised that entry, deleting the company name, the person's name, and included the emails - of course out of courtesy I blanked out their company name that he had written in. I obliged to his email, and deleted any names that could be googled.

I also passed these interesting emails to a friend who was privy to this entire transaction, and that friend sent a cordial note to the person and also received a pretty horrendous response. I have since told my associate to not get involved any more, this should not be anyone's issue since the persons request to basically not have a review of our bad transaction accessible to future customers was granted immediately.

Interesting things were said by the person, and while I probably should be angry, I am sad for him. See, we never know the whole story on someone, and when someone takes a simple situation and something that honestly they did wrong, and turns it into a personal attack on a customer that they promised one thing and then took it away, while insulting that person's art or integrity or honesty... there must have been something very sad in his life to make him this way.

So I send love to him and hope that he gets whatever help he needs. I have also let management know of the developments and hope that we will not have to take any action on this person. Hey, I ate the $60 fee that was not mine, I had to bounce bad energy off of me many times, and you know what? This person keeps dwelling. Is it displaced anger about something else? Most likely. I'm a firm believer in discovering why you find anger or hate toward someone. I find that most times, it's about some deep-rooted stuff from our pasts that hits a nerve. And we don't blame the root of the nerve, because it's too painful.

Find that synapse in your life that makes you wince in pain and hate. I have been doing a lot of that work in the past few years and while it sometimes hurts, the relief is huge. Not to mention the good energy that gets to move in!

Rock on, everyone, and enjoy today and everyday! Sending love out to those who need it or just want it because it's fantastic!

xo,
NP

Wilting - October 20, 2009

I love getting flowers. The beauty they bring, the meaning behind them, the emotions they translate.

But boy, I do get sad when I have to start picking through, throwing out the wilted ones and trying to save the fighters.

But what's the alternative? To not receive them at all?

I guess a potted plant may not be as romantic or as seemingly heartfelt. It may seem to domestic or pedestrian as a gift of admiration or emotion.

But then, even if the plant doesn't make it 10 years, it would most likely outlive slain floral arrangements. Perhaps the symbolic roots-in-soil, not-gonna-die-anyday-soon vibe will mean more a month down the road, if it makes it to 6 months, a year... who knows. And if it dies in a month or two, well, that was weeks longer than a lovely floral arrangement.

Agh. I just don't know sometimes. Traditions are lovely. Like sending roses to a loved one. But they wilt so quickly. Is that what we think of romance? At least the chocolates last a lifetime on the hips! Hehe.

I'm not down on the flower giving/receiving thing. Just thinking outloud. Which tends to turn into blogging. I look at my last few fighters in a vase and think, yes - I'm a fighter in the survival game too. And when they finally die and end up down the garbage chute, I will bloom on.

xo,
NP

Pillow Fight! - October 19, 2009

I may be onto something here!

Having had back and neck pain much of my life, the culprit (besides usual stress) being scoliosis... for the past 2 nights I decided to sleep withouth a pillow. The result? My neck is not popping and locking as much as usual!

Since my cervical spine is not curved like most folks (and the rest is a backwards "S") I find many positions that are comfy for most are notsomuch for yours truly. Last week I finally bought a balance ball chair and love it.

I suppose I use a pillow because it's there. It looks pretty when I make my bed. But now? Who knows. Maybe I'll just have an oddly flat looking bed, but who cares but me? And do I care? Not if my neck feels this much better! And I suppose eventually this may help alleviate my upper back pain. Lower back - awesome. Always. Must be all the backbending I do when I play.

xo,
NP

Time flying ... where to? - October 12, 2009

So I was on a blog roll there, and then things got busier than I could imagine. All good. Even Busy in spending time with my daughter... she's growing so fast. I'm such a proud Mom that it makes me teary eyed sometimes, really - out of the blue moments where I see her face in my mind, think of something witty or hysterical she had said or done, I laugh out loud, tear up, find myself skipping a few steps, humming or whistling. Really, out of the blue.

Having been this busy, I'm not sure where I left off, but I had a fabulous week on the road with Michael Bolton and band/crew. I love challenging gigs that help me "man up" and make me want to bring it. Probably heading to London for 2 shows and then I have some time in my tour life probably - so if anyone is in need of some trumpet with the added benefits of backup singing, simple dancing, and fabulous shoes, let me know! Also feeling this might be a good time for a few school clinics. Or a nap.

I've been thinking a lot about words, and their impact on others. It amazes me. A kind word, a smile to go with it, a gesture of love or happiness on the side... try it sometime! I find that folks who bring bitterness and hate with their words, no matter what those words are, make walls go up, defenses, a shield. I love to help bring walls down, my own included. I'd rather spend my time here happy and warm and full of love, wouldn't you? Seems it's working all around me. If you bring the good stuff to others, it's hard for them to lash out with bad in your direction. It takes so little effort to be kind and so much to be anything else!!!

I haven't had much sleep in the past month, and am thinking that might be a fine idea tonight. Too bad I'm not tired. Though I have early mornings warming up and getting my day going, I find my brain wants to function late at night. I'm rather enjoying my newly feng shui'd livingroom though. My daughter has been making furniture move suggestions and I finally found time to listen to her yesterday and make the moves. She was so right. Without consulting or even understanding the Bagua. Certainly my daughter has amazing intuition gifts. And she would always rather share than savor herself. She's such a beautiful little soul - and it's definitely been around a long time. I am constantly learning from her and feel her wisdom from way back.

xo,
NP

Geez, another blog!? - September 25, 2009

Seems I'm on a roll. Actually, I'm making yet another meatlof. I announced to my daughter that she is forbidden to cut crusts off of her toast until I have used up all of the breadcrumbs currently in the freezer. Meatloaf is great - I absolutely love it - it freezes well and defrosts in a snap and always tastes yummy... but dang.

I may have to seek out a breadcrumb recipe book. But in all honesty, it makes me crazy that she now cuts the crusts off of bread, when there was a time it was her favorite. Lunchroom peer pressure sure is a b*tch! So, tomorrow I announced that there will be either waffles or poached eggs for breakfast. OR toast with crusts. She chose waffles. I may have meatloaf. ;)

I was SO prepared to write a serious blog, my head has been spinning this week with mucho overload. Nothing bad. Heck, you can either complain about the dog poo on the sidewalk in front of you, or jump over it and be happy that you burned an extra 1/100 of a calorie! I'm all about burning and not complaining. Much. But I'm not about doggie doo at all, much to my daughter's dismay. No dogs in our future unless I (*she*) luck into a partner willing to do all that doggie day care junk that I don't care for. Yeah, I have cats. I have lizards. Used to have birds. But none of them requires a nasty baggie full of poop on the street, or big smelly dog kisses. I would, however, welcome a small dog who doesn't bark, kiss, and is potty trained. Anyone? Hello???

Deep blogging to be continued at a later date, perhaps tonight after my late night practice/torture session in El Studio. For now, this Yerba Mate (yes, traditionally brewed in a gourd, you don't think I'd get this gold in a teabag, do ya?) is making me a bit Cornholio at the moment, so I should take advantage of the awesome energy and challenge my girl in a game of Scrabble before she hits the bed for the night. She is running a fundraiser for Big Brothers/Big Sisters tomorrow and we have to get up early. I love how involved children can get in causes like this (this is her second fundraiser run/walk in the past few months) and I think all parents should not only encourage their children to participate and fundraise, but also understand these services/causes. It's one of those life lessons that, when learned young, gains more than tolerance or acceptance - but a profound admiration and need to give back.

xo,
NP

Calling ghosts - September 23, 2009

Having had a few days where I've been crawling a bit inside my brain for various reasons, tonight I looked at a lifesize painting of my Mom and felt her looking back at me. And I'm not under the influence of anything other than thoughts. ;)

It's amazing how you lose someone so special to you, so long ago... It has been almost 20 years since Mom passed away and every day that I get hit with her memory, it seems as painful as the day I showed up to the hospital only to be met by the fallen faces of the nurses and staff who had grown so attached to my ultra cool Mom, the sunshine who, despite burning chemotherapy and a chronically bald head (having finally given up on wearing wigs to cover up the shame of illness). Upon seeing this Warrior Woman's only daughter expecting to walk in, smooth her mom's peach fuzz of a head and try to convince a second manicure (yes, in her life) and saucy little lacy underthings to make mom smile and say "you must be kidding me, under my hospital gown???", her only daughter who has known Mom as being sick most of her life but never complaining or leaving her side as a Mom and a role model and friend...

I don't know what brings this wave of emotion suddenly. I think sometimes it's stress in life that is completely unrelated to cancer, to being a mom... maybe it's that I bought my daughter a Japanese style cream puff this weekend and remembered that Mom could actually make them, from scratch. Maybe it's because I'm cooking chicken and I remember Mom's cooking, always amazing, even when I proclaimed vegetarianism and refused to eat meat from quite a young age until long after she passed. She never made fun of me or force fed me meat, or dairy - as milk always made me feel sick - she simply let me be me and I learned to cook early on with and without her guidance.

She was my ultimate hero.

I sometimes observe how much my daughter is like my Mother. Not in a creepy role reversal way, but in strength and individuality, in stubbornness and beauty, in general awesomeness and humor, and maintaining individuality but not for the sake of just being different.

Anyway, I feel like I carry her with me always - I can sense her with me. I am so blessed to have such a cool Mom, and she's always near. I can tell. It's nice to have her so close.

xo,
NP

Call and Response - September 18, 2009

"Thank you for your recent inquiry regarding your AT&T service.
We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you.
The issue 789483402 has been resolved."

While there is no actual explanation, and I was never given a case number on the phone, I am assuming that this has been resolved in my favor.

If this is the case, thanks AT&T for doing the right thing. If it is not the case, you'll bet I'll be calling soon! :)

xo,
NP

AT&T, are you kidding me? - September 17, 2009

So, I just finally got away from AT&T. I called and did my research, was told I was no longer under contract, and decided to go for a Blackberry Tour with Verizon.

Easy, yes?

No.

I got an email from AT&T stating that I would be charged $175 for BOTH (???) lines being cancelled. As far as I know, I had one phone.

SO here I am on hold with a customer service representative. He clearly has no power, or knowledge. If a CSR tells me my contract is up, it's up. Right? Did she just make it up? Hells if I care. I was told that essentially if I left, I would not be charged.

But now they're trying to charge me for 2 lines. Obviously this was a computer error. But the guy on the phone is obviously not saavy in the art of either customer service or expedient and efficient work. Am I a little annoyed? Of course. This should be a no-brainer.

He keeps putting me on hold and then asking me "If I'm still there". I don't get it. If I weren't there, wouldn't the call be disconnected? The poor guy probably gets minimum wage and is working when he is also studying for college - or not. But he's really lacking in much of anything, and I wonder what ever happened to customer service and actually caring about customer satisfaction.

The good news, Verizon has so far been wonderful on the phone, online, etc. I'm hopeful for my future with customer service with regard to my mobile service. I mean, really. T-Mobile was pretty bad but AT&T is very surprisingly bad.

So, I remain on hold and hopeful that this will be resolved in a timely manner so I can get back to life. This is just frustrating at best, and if a representative was too lazy to look up my account, if there was a mistake made they should just man up. I'm sure AT&T can afford to swallow $175.

I did apologize a few times to the CSR about being so mad, it's not his fault. He has no power. He's the call after the screw up. I would bake him cookies if I knew where to send them. I hate getting angry at anyone, much less a Customer Service Representative who is left with someone else's mistake that leaves him with a Very Angry Customer.

His supervisor is supposed to call sometime next week and discuss with him, and he promised to call me. I have everyone's full name, I have his super secret code, and if I don't get a call back next week you can bet your cute butt I'm gonna be on the phone to AT&T. The truth is that I was given bad info. I should not have to pay the price for their mistake.

Anyone else out there have a situation like this? Any words of wisdom?

Luckily I've had great service from Verizon thusfar and have been told time and again that they're amazing. It's as if Verizon is run by actual adults. How exciting.

xo,
NP

Enabling - September 16, 2009

I am certainly no expert in this, but I have been thinking a lot about the term "enabling" and what it does to others.

Most people's nature is to want to help others. There are folks out there who act and think differently, but for the most part, people are good.

The problem comes in when one helps someone who does not attempt to help him/herself. Not only in the case of alchoholics, drug addicts and the like, though that is a huge part of that culture in general, from what I've learned. There is also the school of people who are looking for a parent-figure in a partner or teacher or friend. Someone who will fill in and take care of anything that the person doesn't want to put effort toward. Whether it's not being able to pay bills, get a job on their own, sustain a job on their own, get into college, buy some coveted shoes or even dinner, there are lessons that people need to get through in order to grow and learn not only survival, but living a full life where they can someday nurture a child of their own. If you are the perpetual Peter Pan, how can you grow up and become someone that others can depend on, including yourself?

Having a beautiful day, week, month, life here! Hope everyone is smiling and growing and learning and laughing!!!

xo,
NP

9/11 - September 11, 2009

I can't believe that 8 years ago, I held a new baby in my arms while watching the twin towers come crashing down, right from my livingroom window. I wondered what kind of a world I brought such a beautiful child into.

8 years later, the feelings came rushing back. They do every year. I remember the feeling, holding my warm, snuggly baby, feeding her, swaying back and forth as the buildings did their own dance, lives lost, bodies flying, people running... and there we were, swaying and nurturing. As my tears dripped onto her, I thought "it has to get better. This can't be it" .

And we've made it, 8 years later, but the sadness and utter disbelief that people can do something like that to other people, clouds my brain as it does every other year on this day. And I simply make sure to hug my baby girl and let her know that our love and respect for each other and the world will never come crumbling down. And I alway sway a little but I no longer cry on her. I just remember how much strength she gave to me, simply by being the joy of my life, this tiny baby girl, sighing in my arms, not realizing what was going on but feeling Mommy's sadness and fear and crying - something she almost never did before or after, no matter the challenges in front of her. That moment taught me how connected we are. When she's sad, I want to weep. When she's in pain, all I want is to take it and suffer so that she may smile for me.

I remember my Mom used to tell me when I was hurt or sick that she wanted to take it from me. I didn't understand then. I am my Mother's daughter, and as strong as I feel at times, I don't have anything near what she had, and I never knew how she suffered through her illness for so many years. It was very rare that she would show me the extent of her pain, no matter how deep.

I allow my daughter to see my sadness and pain. First of all, I'm a terrible liar. Second, it's life. For many years, I hid every negative emotion from the world. I didn't talk about problems, only pushed them aside and kept a smile on, never talking to anyone about my problems, never working things out with partners and friends.

Now? Maybe I'm a bit TOO open, but recently it has proven to be a good thing. I know that it's all out there, in our universe, for those who are involved - and if we work through it, great. If not, then it's not meant to be. This is true in many situations - lovers, friends, work, family... all you can do is be honest and open to other opinions and angles and feelings. Life is too short - you don't want your world to come crashing down.

ANYWAY.

I took my daughter to a lesson with Laurie Frink. She was wonderful, sat on the floor and read a book, played some games on my phone, didn't tell me that I sounded horrible, and enjoyed the experience enough to say she'd love to come back for my next lesson!

Laurie saved my career a few years ago. The ground beef that my lips had become, decided to heal only under her instruction.

I try to see her often enough, but I only realized today that it has been about 10 months. WOW! She totally customized exercised to fit into my heinous lifestyle and I'm So grateful. Trumpet players - you all need to see Laurie at some point. She doesn't just give you the same page out of a book that she gives everyone else. She looks at you as a whole person, and asks what you are looking for, diagnoses problems in playing that irritate you, and creates a *routine* (hate the word but I'm at a loss right now for something more fitting) just for you and your needs and your weaknesses and strengths. Cool, huh?

Anyway, I may have slept 20 hours in the past week, so I should get my butt to bed. I have a long weekend ahead, and a busy life that I am so grateful for!!!

xo,
NP

Sip of Plum Wine - September 9, 2009

The first day of third grade was apparently a success. My daughter did great and I'm SO proud of her. I spent most of the morning worrying about her, then I realized it would do nothing to help her. So I kept worrying.

I'm not a drinker, at all really. But I like to keep a bottle of Choya Ume Wine in the fridge for a sip here and there. Literally a sip. If you've been playing along at home, ever since my visit to Santiago, I started collecting Pablo Neruda-esque colored goblets for drinking, mostly water. However, I did luck into some tiny red ones, perfect for the amount of plum wine my brain can handle.

Tonight, I sip a little, let the sweet plum essence mixed with the slight tang roll around. Funny how it reminds me of being in Japan as a kid though I never drank any of this forbidden stuff. Actually it probably wasn't forbidden, but my Uncle preferred beer. I don't remember wine or sake or anything severe around. But I was just a kid...

My mom also didn't drink. I remember so clearly how she would giggle if someone offered her wine. Her face would flush a bright pink with just a sip. I assume it was uncomfortable, and so she left it alone.

I get tired. REALLY tired. If I go out with friends and colleagues, I drink club soda, sometimes if I'm feeling feisty, I ask for a splash of cranberry and a twist of lime. I may sneak a sip of someone's margarita if there is salt on the rim to steal.

Last night I barely slept. Stress? Uncertainty? Meh, who knows. My life is a rollercoaster. I can't complain, I'm blessed with an amazing daughter, a great crew of people around me, a career that some might envy, the ability to keep my head above water financially (usually!).

So I calm myself now. You would think that I would be exhausted after not sleeping much at all, but somehow, here I am.

Some days I can't slow my brain down. Some days I can't start it up. I suppose it's all yin yang, balance, whatever. Bottoms up.

xo,
NP

It has come to my attention... - September 8, 2009

...that sometimes people argue, feel insecure, and disagree. But when the walls go up and communication is cut off, nothing good comes of it.

Break your walls down, or at least cut out a little peephole to start. Yes, words can hurt, but the hurt that comes with no words is usually so much more painful.

xo,
NP

Home sweet home. And stuff. - September 7, 2009

I should be taking advantage of the inside of my eyelids but haven't blogged in a bit. Plus my kitties missed me this weekend, and as my bedroom is a cat free zone, it seems fair for me to sit out in the livingroom for just a bit longer.

Of course, nothing says "home sweet home" like a huge pyrex glass bowl shattered all over the kitchen floor with two kitties looking up at us as if to say "He did it", pointing accusing paws at each other.

My daughter simply said, "Now you guys have to get Mommy's wallet and go out and buy a new glass bowl for her". I just laughed, cleaned the glass, was thankful that nobody got hurt, and probably thankful that the huge glass Pyrex bowl is no longer part of our lives. Had it a very long time, and I have MUCH nicer bowls that I use for mixing anyway. Just sad that I couldn't pass it to someone who could have used it... sigh.

Anyway, our weekend in the country. It sure is quiet out there! Normally difficult to sleep under those circumstances - I really am used to and enjoy the city noises outside. Just enough to make me feel like the world is just out of reach, close enough if I need it but far enough that I still have my Privacy.

But we had a blast. Seeing old friends, making new friends, learning a lot about people we know and ourselves (ok, myself... though I know my girl is constantly learning about her awesomeness!).

Golf, a country (I know it's county, but damn, it seemed country to me!) fair, nature and junk, cake - lots of cake, no diet rules other than to way exceed my caloric and nasty food-like-substance daily intake, and sleep. Something I don't get much of in real life, but boy, when I give my body a little it just flips out and wants more, more, more!!! Which is why I laugh as I blog now, glass bowl breaking kitties at my side, geckos peering through glass tanks, life just out of reach, enjoying my Privacy while sharing with you, whoever you are reading this. Do you care about all of this? I guess it depends on who you are, your relationship to me, Pyrex, naughty kitties, cake... etc.

Tomorrow my alarm will start to sound at 6am as usual. I may ignore it for 20 or so minutes, but I WILL be up to tackle that trumpet beast before my insane day rolls on. Hospital visit - routine "see how it all is working" kind of stuff. I'm hoping to buy a little more time for my girl in the surgical or appliance arena. She is a trooper and a great strong spirit and one of my biggest heroes. Ironic that I have the power to put my hero in a time out, huh?

Goodnight, all. I'm going to do some stretching, unpack, and hopefully catch 5-6 hours of sleep. How I manage like this, I'm never sure. But I do like the hum of life many floors beneath, just outside of the windows that display zillions of people who are faceless to me, me to them, yet we share such intimacy in lights between darkness.

xo,
NP

Home for a while! - August 31, 2009

It's always good to be home for a nice stretch, literally and figuratively!

My life has been so non-stop for so long, that I need to figure out a way to slow down very soon. My girl and I are planning to get out of town this weekend, so that's good. Hopefully I'll get a little rest, some sun, and lots of giggles. Gotta practice as always, but, I need to take it easy just for a bit.

What a glorious summer it has been! I'm so grateful for my daughter, my friends, my gigs, my critters, and the universe. I feel so at peace with being myself more than ever. As Katrina and the Waves wisely sang - perhaps not spectacularly but with sincerity: "I'm walking on Sunshine"!!! Sure beats eggshells, huh?

Enjoy your week. My birthday is creeping up on Wednesday. No special plans other than snagging some carrot cake. I'm torn as to whether I will bake one (because it's a favorite to bake and make frosting from scratch!) or if my girl and I should duck into a bakery and have cake together. Given my life, I may just have to pay the baker and hope it's as good or better than my homemade. If it's not, that will royally bum me out - but I promise I will eat every bit of frosting regardless!

xo,
NP

Don't let your meatloaf... - August 26, 2009

Ahhh. Homemade meatloaf. The main reason I decided to make it was that I have an overabundance of homemade gluten-free breadcrumbs on hand. My daughter is in a no crust phase, so I simply slice off the crusts of her brown rice bread and save them in the freezer. Eventually, when they annoy me, I grind them up. Eventually when that stuff annoys me, I make things with it.

This batch is exceptionally great. Not only is it overflowing with onion (YUM!) but also mixed veggies, and the glaze is a simple mixture of ketchup, mustard and brown sugar. And it's as organic as I can buy. In fact, I think the only non organic moment is the brown sugar. With only a few tablespoons for the entire loaf, I think I'll live. ;)

Comfort food is amazing. During those rough times, emotional times, hormonal times, whatever... there is something about comfort food. My favorites to cook are meatloaf, chicken pot pie, and goulash. Goulash is also very entertaining to say. Try it. GOOOOOLAHHHHHSH. See?

Don't forget to use plenty of Sriracha on your comfort meals. A bit of delicious rooster hot sauce always brings an extra smile to my face!

The best comfort of all? My baby girl.

xo,
NP

Sending strength to those who need it - August 25, 2009

There is one person on the planet that needs some serious strength right now. I am giving my all and hoping that even a sliver of it will get through.

xo,
NP

I promised a happy update - August 24, 2009

But here I am with a cat who has OCD.

Oh, Rimsky. You of soft black and white fur, why do you make raw patches on your skin and rub the fur until you bleed?

This happened during holiday season last year, I believe it was tour season, on and off as usual, but more on than off. It was just his nose and the docs thought he was allergic to plastic.

This may be some wierd seasonal allergy. I only got my new boys last fall so I don't know about summer season for them. Nobu gets runny eyes in the winter. Who knows, maybe Rimsky has summer allergies that happened to hit now. Or he is OCD like the doc thinks. Egads.

Well, a big vet bill, a couple of shots to bring the inflammation down, and I'm hoping he'll get better. He eats and drinks and is more cuddly than usual, so I guess he's not sick, or in much pain. But boy, he looks like he got caught in a meat grinder. Ugh. Poor fellah.

I forgot the Elizabethan collar at the vet so I have to go get it tomorrow. Something tells me he won't wear it anyway.

I changed their water bowl for ceramic. It shouldn't make a difference but who knows. I've been in the plastic elimination mode pretty hard core. You can't eliminate it all, but things like bowls, dishes, etc... I even got nice Pyrex glass storage containers. They have plastic lids but you can't win 'em all.

Anyway! I had such a beautiful trip last week. Colorado was an eye opener to say the least. Some things in my life seem to be prying my heart back open, and while I didn't actually run through the mountains singing selections from The Sound of Music (freaking altitude killed my lungs!), I was feeling the bliss all the same.

Highlights - hard core outlet shopping, beautiful company, sleeping late a couple of days, the freedom to practice and blast the walls down (hope the neighbors weren't too mad!), vocal warmups daily (something I ignore too often and enjoy way too much!), eating naughty foods and not feeling guilt because of the great workouts each day, and a great great great show. Even the O2 backstage was something to write home about. Breathe in, breathe out!

Oklahoma was loads of fun too, though the surroundings were none like Colorado. However the audience was fan-tastic! Nothing says "Steel Bars" like a good audience (seriously...). Thank you to everyone who was there, even just in spirit!

I was SO happy to come home to my girlie, as always! She makes my heart bubble over with giggles and love. Even though she refused to go to sleep until I did - which was way too late - just so she could sneak into bed with me. Trust me, I didn't complain as I snuggled with my baby girl.

xo,
NP

Revised entry: Just a little vent, great blog to follow on the awesomeness of life... but I am always surprised at bad customer service. - August 23, 2009

Note: I have revised this entry and deleted any identifying information of the seller. He sent me 2 emails last night and I do not want or need his bad energy in my life. How sad.

"message:
Just to let you know that we respond in spades about your slanderous comments about
**Bikes and me personally. We will let everyone know that you are scammer and
that you can't be trusted. Let the games begin, soon you will google your name and
you see comments that you do not like. You have 24 hours to retract your comments." This message was followed 3 minutes later with: "message:
By the way, I will let everyone no that your music sucks. And I will spread a blog
as well.
"

I sure hope he finds what he's looking for in life. Best of luck to you, and I forgive your bad energy - it seems to come from a place filled with pain.
*************************

So, a few months ago I purchased a ** online.

http://www.**.com
Do NOT buy from **, the dude who makes these. I received a severely defective **. It does not open. It is cracked in several places.

I had called him right before going on the road and we spoke about the bike and it's problems. He said he would arrange for Fedex to pick it up and would refund me in full, as well as footing the bill for shipping.

He immediately denied that this was the case when I tried to follow up on this pickup that never happened.

I called him today asking again if there was an issue with his promise. He was INCREDIBLY rude and hung up on me. Those who know me know that I am fair. All I wanted was the refund I was promised. This guy obviously has issues and will not have a successful business if he is not only selling crappy merchandise but also not keeping promises AND hanging up on customers who are actually trying to be nice on the phone. I mean, who was wronged here? It's not like I'm returning it because I don't like the color.

Anyway, Please do not buy **from **of **. If he were a good businessman and a kind person I would wish him the best. I am always blown away by petty insanity like the dealings with this guy. Looks like I have to haul this hunk of garbage to fedex and foot the bill, though I WILL be reporting him to the Better Business Bureau. Any other places I can report this kind of behavior? I mean, he wouldn't even send me a functioning **in exchange without me paying return shipping. Seriously, how much could it be, and is it worth your business reputation to keep a promise???

Ok, back to my positive mode. At least maybe I have helped people avoid this situation with this business. I, for one, think in tough times like this, business owners should at the very least keep promises, no?

And as a side note, if **ends up doing the right thing I will post that. In fact, how about I post the outcome, no matter what happens? I looked online and only found reviews from dealers, I think it will be good for shoppers to (hopefully) stumble onto my blog and think twice about buying this product. But if **refunds it all including my shipping, then maybe he's not such a bad guy.

Well, I did get myself a birthday present that will help with my fitness goals... but I can't open it for another week and a half! ;)

xo,
NP

Catching up, not doing a great job! - August 16, 2009

I have almost no time to write, but I did want to touch base and let folks know how flipping blessed I am!

Birthday party for my daughter was great, though Pikachu cake got smashed at the bakery, so we did some awesome damage control and ran to the supermarket, ended up with 2 great cakes and some cupcakes just in case! It was PERFECT and we had a fantastic gathering of friends! Thank you all!

I'm getting ready to fly again early tomorrow. The show in Biloxi MS was awesome, and I finally had a chance to play alongside my sub from Europe, Cameron. She is an absolute doll and we had a pretty spiffy blend going on with her on flugel! Will do it again in Washington at the end of the month! A little strange without tenor, but it totally worked out! How awesome!

Anyway, back to packing. I'm usually not this last minute but I just got home Saturday evening! Enough time to do a load of laundry, take my kiddo to the park, burgers on a boat in the river, goofing around as us girls like to do! Had a moment to see Lew Soloff and his new grandson and his gorgeous daughters on the way home to start procrastinating the packing process. :) What a cute, cute, cute baby! Makes that clock go... yikes!

Anyway, back to this whole packing thing. I'm almost done... lizard cages are clean, cat box done, even vacuumed a little. How about that??? :)

xo,
NP
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