“The Batting Cage” (11 December, 2010 @ 22:36)

Last night Peter Kong invited me to his office’s holiday ball at The Mandarin Oriental. It was a fabulous ball hosted by ELM and we got to hear from Doc Walker. There was a particular part of his speech that resonated with me. He said he always felt thankful when his alarm went off in the morning because it gave him a purpose. He was being given an opportunity at the “batting cage.” That day, he didn’t know whether he would win or loose, whether he’d hit great shots or make lots of mistakes, but being a position to even have a chance was a real privilege. I was inspired by that metaphor and reflected on my week.

Music has been the source of many “batting cages” for me. It has put me in a position to have a shot at what I want to do.

A look at this past week: Saturday Dec 2nd – Friday Dec 10th.

Saturday Dec 4th:

Playing bass drum and congas with Georgetown’s Concert Choir at 2pm in McNeir Auditorium. A chance to work with a large group, meet new people, play half a trap set with congas and to read music which I rarely do.

At night, I picked up my drums from ESL and was driven in Alex Selliere’s mini cooper to a misc warehouse at 411 NY Ave, NE. Climbed up through misc winding stairs to arrive at a sick room with a mini stage, misc posters on the wall and a chilled area to dance and be strange. I set up a huge set up since I had space and had the opportunity to play with how I mount certain percussive toys like this tambourine I had brought back from Egypt. I remembered that Frank Orrall, one of Thievery’s percussionists, mounted his drums in interesting ways, and I wanted to be able to do the same. This show lent itself to that. The set up looked awesome and as soon as DJ MEC took the decks, I got on and rocked straight from 12am-2am. It was perfect and we all had a great time.

Sunday Dec 5th,

Last night at ESL Sundays until after exams and after winter break in Hong Kong and Vietnam. A particularly beautiful night because I was excited for it, Thomas Blondet and I know each other’s moves by this point, I know many members of the crowd, my friends Ana Sarbu and Bea Galatas came out, and because Names sat in with me. Tables have turned, and it felt good. The night was powerful. It flew by really quickly, and I had felt that I had noticeably improved since I first started playing at ESL Sundays back in May. I knew the ebb and flow of many of Tom’s songs, I had learned how to rock out body wise but still be more or less in time and I felt that I was in the presence of real friends and family. Sunny Oh and Maria JPeg came out and it always feels really good to have them there. I missed Burns for this last round but he wasn’t feeling too good that night! At the end, I also spotted one of the many loves of my life — Deon Young who is also a trainer at the Sports Club/LA DC where I coach squash on Saturdays and Sundays. He had stumbled upon the night not realizing I was playing and then decided to stay when he saw me. It was so awesome to see him. He’s the best guy. I feel happy at the lounge, privileged to be there, and am so happy when at the end of the night people come up to me thanking me for such a great night. Many people put their hands together as if to say “Namaste” and thank me that way. It’s quite beautiful. Tom and I have a musical marriage for sure!

Monday, Dec 6th,

At 2am on Monday morning, after packing up my drums after a solid last Sunday at ESL, Deon offered to drive me, not home, but to the hotel I was headed. I was crashing at the L’Enfant Plaza hotel where I would be joining members of the Young Women’s Drumming Empowerment Project. You see, we were invited to play early the next morning in the conference of the hotel for a rally preventing the “Rail to Jail.” So I crashed at the hotel late Sunday night, and woke up by 8am to meet the rest of the crew.

We rocked the start of the rally at 9am sharp and gathered in a whole crew of dancing mothers and kids. They were breaking it down!!!! It was incredible! At 9am on a Monday morning, we were rocking so so hard with a huge group of people around us dancing, smiling, shaking and grooving. I was like….only drumming could have this kind of effect on so many people this early on a Monday. I don’t think I had ever waken up that early either haha. It was quite hard.

Tuesday, Dec 7th

On Tuesday evening, I accompanied Sitali Siyolwe on WPFW 89.3 radio. We went in at 10pm to the studio behind Adams Morgan and met Robyn Satcher who has a show called “Blackademics”. At 10:30pm sharp, we were on air, wearing headphones, leaning over our mics and everything. It was so awesome. Sitali was interviewed first, then we played a track live (I played tabla and Sitali played acoustic guitar on “Brother Your Life”) and after that I was interviewed and got to speak a bit about my roles with ESL Music and Rhythm & Culture Music, in addition to Sunday nights at 18th Street Lounge. What an experience. It was so cool to be on the radio man. I think the real highlight for me was knowing that so many of my close friends were listening online and supporting me, including my parents all the way in Hong Kong.

After I show, I headed over to Patty Boom Boom where I sat in for a few songs in the second set with house band Arkives International. I had coordinated that with Darryl first, and I thought the tablas sounded smooth over the basslines and instrumental reggae. That band is TIGHT. Damn they sounded good. And that was a particularly good night because I got to catch Eric and hear some of his perspectives on the band and how awesome it is to work with professional musicians. I can only imagine! Sleepy Wonder was also there, along with rising vocal star Chris Puma and of course the legendary Lenny Kurlou. With those three on the mic, the night was explosive.

Weds, Dec 8th,

I found out that I was accepted the Georgetown Entertainment and Media Alliance Externship Program. In other words, after several rounds of the application process including an interview with the board, Georgetown selected me among several other participants to go to LA in March 2011 to meet with executives in the music industry. So friggin happy about that.

Another personal victory was getting the part I had really hoped for in The Vagina Monologues (“My Angry Vagina”)!! Ha!! SO excited for that!! The show is Feb 3rd and 5th in Georgetown, so please plan to come if you are reading this! I have wanted to be in this show since freshman year but didn’t have the balls, I mean the vagina, to try-out.

Thursday Dec 9th,

Impromtu show at the Black Student Association’s Kwanzaa dinner, beautifully done, in the ICC Galleria. Unbelievably gifted Kenyan poet/singer/songwriter Anna Mwalagho was going to have dinner with me that night, and instead I invited her to this dinner. She suggested we do a poem or two together. I grab my drums, we don’t really practice, and she totally rocks it. The Maryland congresswoman______ spoke and was pretty powerful, but went on a bit too long for a bunch of students who had just finished classes and wanted to rage. Anna took the mic, and got the energy going! She made everyone laugh hysterically about her struggles as an African woman in America and highlighted the perfect elements that one should bring up at a Kwanzaa dinner. Great fun, and a privilege to accompany her on drums. This would be the second time I had done so — before that was two or three years ago at the Kenyan Embassy in DC.

Friday. Last night. Mandarin Oriental Holiday Ball with Peter. Great times. Fake casino in the hotel followed by brief solo mish to Helix Bar, Churchkey and Gibson before returning to the hotel. But that’s where I heard Doc give his speech and was inspired to write a blog entry.