Friday, March 25, 2011

I wish everyday was as fun and exciting as this Wednesday

I had one of the most wonderful Wednesdays this week and as with all my blog posts, I dedicate them to my friends and to all the beautiful people in my life because without them, there'd be no one to share my food, musical and everyday experiences with.

Woke up a lot earlier than usual to do some work. Was super excited to be meeting up with Bella in the arvo so I practiced piano and finished some a musicianship harmony and a harmonic analysis. I'm getting a lot better at doing them both and with the exam in less than 2 months, I just hope I can learn all my theory in time :(

Travelling to the city, I always like to read on the train. Recently I started reading "Like The Flowing River" by Paulo Coelho. It's a book of reflections and thoughts from his online blog, compiled into a small book. It's filled with many beautiful stories, anecdotes, experiences in his life he shares with a charming wit and beauty. I really want to share this short story, as it was one that got me thinking as I gazed out the window in the train:

A boy was watching his grandmother write a letter. At one point he asked: ‘Are you writing a story about what we’ve done? Is it a story about me?’
His grandmother stopped writing her letter and said to her grandson:

I am writing about you, actually, but more important than the words is the pencil I’m using. I hope you will be like this pencil when you grow up.’

Intrigued, the boy looked at the pencil. It didn’t seem very special. ‘But it’s just like any other pencil I’ve ever seen!’

‘That depends on how you look at things. It has five qualities which, if you manage to hang on them, will make you a person who is always at peace with the world.’

‘First quality: you are capable of great things, but you must never forget that there is a hand guiding your steps. We call that hand God, and He always guides us according to His will.’
‘Second quality: now and then, I have to stop writing and use a sharpner. That makes the pencil suffer a little, but afterwards, he’s much sharper. So you, too, must learn to bear certain pains and sorrows, because they will make you a better person.
‘Third quality: the pencil always allows us to use an eraser to rub out any mistakes. This means that correcting something we did is not necessarily a bad thing; it helps to keep us on the road to justice.’
‘Fourth quality: what really matters in a pencil is not its wooden exterior, but the graphite inside. So always pay attention to what is happening inside you.’
‘Finally, the pencil’s fifth quality: it always leaves a mark. in just the same way, you should know that everything you do in life will leave a mark, so try to be conscious of that in your every action’

source: “Like the Flowing River” by Paulo Coelho

I really really love Paulo Coelho's books because of these little gems of wisdom that fill the pages of his novels. I don't know how he comes up with these - I suspect he adapts them from various sources he has - but they're just so fitting and I feel wiser myself with every story. He has loads of them - - if you're interested :)

Moving on, I'm not a frequent traveler to the city and so when I walked to UTS to meet up with Bella, I took a major detour and ended up being quite late. She took me to Charlie Lovett for a chat and she even shouted me a drink - Freckled Ice Chocolate whilst she had the Blended Ice Chocolate. The Freckled Ice Chocolate contained very small 'freckles' of chocolate (Sexy Ecuadorian Chocolate) in it and whilst being very tasty at first, becomes annoying when all the freckles sink to the bottom and clog up the straw. The Blended Ice Chocolate was much richer in chocolate and I actually prefer it - it being cheaper by a dollar too! Nevertheless, I had a great time chatting with her :D If you read this, and I know you do sometimes, THANK YOU :D

Somehow, every time I have a conversation with someone, if we manage to talk for long enough, it always ventures towards the future and our plans for it. It's daunting because I'm still in the segway between high school and university, but so many others are beyond that, earning money on a cadetship, starting internships, going on exchanges and so much more. I don't regret my choice of music and not going to Uni yet, but I can't help but wonder what I would be doing instead if I had gone for USYD Comm/Law. Would I be happy? What would have become of me?

After she had to go home, I rung up a few people - they were still at uni and so I met up with Smel, Sandhya and a guy called Scott. It was my first time to the UTS Haymarket Campus and boy was it filled with Asians. I thought S was going to study so I brought some stuff to do until dinner with B but instead, ended up chatting for almost 3 hours! Once again, seeing people all suited up and talking about which firms they wanna work in makes life feel so real. It was so awesome to talk to Sandhya about Baulko hehe I really missed that school. It was the type of school you loved not for what it was, but for the friends, the people who made up the school and all the great times and things that happened there.

Met up with Bosco and more people from our musical group all came along to join us for dinner. Bought some food from Chinatown and had it at Market City. Got called up to pick up Kel from Town Hall station and so ran all the way to Town Hall with Smel to try and find her because apparently her phone had run out of batts :P Bumped into Joseph on the way there and it was pretty cool because he was going with us too! :D Gave up after looking for 10 minutes - we figured she was smart enough not to wait at Town Hall and miss the musical - she knew it was at Star City anyway :P

And what do you know, there she was! Met up with all 16 of the people who were interested to seeing it with us and WHAT A GREAT MUSICAL IT WAS!

I got a little annoyed when it was compared to Wicked because Dr. Zhivago is a musical in a different dimension. It's a musical not solely there to entertain. Wicked was a fantastic musical because of its visual appeal as well as its many humourous moments. Of course, the music was memorable and there were a few songs like Defying Gravity and Popular. Doctor Zhivago is different because of all the themes, emotions and events it manages to deal with. For me, the best part of it was its ability to capture your heart and make you feel everything that was happening in the moment, whether it was in the song, the dialogue or the drama. And who could forget Mr. Warlow as Dr. Zhivago. He was just as good as I thought he'd be but not as good as I imagined him to be. I wanted to hear more raw passion in his voice and instead, I heard a wonderful and clean technique, blending oh-so-well with the other principal females. I wanted to hear him take on higher notes, bigger climaxes and feel the frustration, anger and love that was the character of Dr. Zhivago.

The music was very well sung and there were a few memorable songs, especially 'Now'. That is a truly great duet which I don't mind listening to all day long. It's getting late and I'm losing concentration, but this was definitely worth all the money I paid for it. The musical dealt with a lot of issues and for some, I can understand if you thought it was rushed, but it captured the emotion and feelings of the characters and moments very well. I'd gladly go and see it again.

I leave you with this photo of us as a group :)

We bought out a whole rectangle of seats - all 16 of us - and this is our row, minus Belle and Smel on my left. Top row coming up next!
Yes, I know the photo's blurry but we look oh-so-happy here!

Gonna go to bed zzzz. Have to wake up in 5 hours for my piano lesson :(

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Performing at Burwood RSL, Pigging out at Churrasco!

Quick update on what I've been up to for the past week!

Thursdays and Fridays are always very hectic for me. They're the days I do the most music mainly because I have to prepare for Friday lesson and on Fridays I have a piano lesson AND a musicianship lesson. I usually sleep really late (3am) on Thursday nights to finish off my work. I don't know how I survive Fridays without getting sick or dozing off. I guess that thanks to my ability to sleep in the car on the way to lessons, I manage to get a bit of shuteye :)

Saturday was quite an interesting day for me. Back in January, our Youth Group went to a Chinese Retirement Village in Castle Hill to visit the elderly, play Bingo with them (more like play for them) and perform a few songs for them - getting them to sing along. It was loads of fun and a few of the Aunties asked us to come back to play for Senior Citizen Week in Burwood.

Unfortunately, everybody was busy that Saturday and so they asked me to do a little piano recital for them at Burwood RSL Club. I was given around 10 minutes to do whatever I wished on their 'piano'. Little did I know what piano they would give me. I was expecting an upright piano - a small grand if I was very lucky. What I got instead was well, a little surprising.
This is me playing Yamaha's fusion of a grand piano and an electric keyboard. It looks like a very very small grand piano, the keys and the pedals feel very real. But the way the sound was created was entirely electric so when I tried to play loudly, it didn't happen!! Funnily enough, nobody gave a rat's ass as long as I played something nice for them to listen to.

There was talking throughout my whole performance and well, I couldn't care less. I played a Chopin Nocturne, Debussy's Gardens in the Rain and a piece I composed myself. Well, actually - I just improvised on a melody I made up and said that I 'composed it for the senior citizens' hehe.

The event was actually quite big and I played for 200 or so people. It was an event subsidised by the government and one of the representatives V. Judge was there, along with the Mayor and his Deputy. They were all making great speeches about how happy they are to be here and teaching the old people how to vote for Labor. It was funny because they spoke to everyone like they were children - "I was the one who rallied the government for your new bus! I told them, this is WRONG, kind elderly citizens like you should not be left trapped in your homes. It's not right!". I guess you gotta do what you gotta do.

There were other performances by some Chinese dancers, a few Chinese choirs - they did some old Classics like "Moon represents my heart - Teresa Teng" and the Chinese national anthem and lots more. The funny thing was, they had no shame! Some of them were close to their 90s and they just sang their heart out, singing and dancing with the music. Makes me realise how insignificant age is - because you can still have a great time, smile and be called 'handsome' even when you're old!

I met an Italian couple - the only non-Asian people there. They were such lovely people - I have a big soft spot for Italian people. They spoke Italian to each other and the husband, who spoke pretty good English and had a very contagious smile loved my music and loved to talk with me. When he asked me how old I thought he was - I said around 60? Imagine my surprise when he told me he was actually 84! :O

We talked for a very long time. The wife told me how to make tomato paste, the husband talked about Italy and drinking wine. They were quite sad to see me go after my free lunch.

SUNDAY was another crazy long day. Went to play for the 9am mass, then Youth Mass rehearsal at a totally new location. We were placed in the staff room instead and it's a smaller space so everybody was squished but we improvised and it was quite fun :D I'm really starting to get the hang of leading praise and worship. I'll probably go to Rice this year to see how they do it and learn something. There's something very special about the big Christian Worship rallies that gets you all hyped up, inspired and in love with God. It's such a wonderful feeling.

Returned home after the 11.30am mass and lunch to practice piano before heading out to my friend's 21st birthday party at Churasco Brazilian style BBQ =D

I was a little reluctant to go because I was SO tired after my morning but I wouldn't want people to bail on my birthday, so I ate a whole heap of fruit - for the sugar, and rushed out to catch the train with J to the city. The place, though expensive - $35 for all you can eat MEAT, was AMAZINGLY DELICIOUS. SO. MUCH. MEAT.
I had a peak at their kitchen and it's just filled with meat, skewed on a long steel rod turning round and round, glistening and cooking to perfection.
My first servings of Mid-rump steak and some other part of the cow. All very well marinated, with sauces at your table. The round green sticker-looking pieces of paper were there to notify the waitresses to give MORE or to stop giving more food to you. Of course, mine was turned to GREEN - give me more please - the whole night :D
Really good cuts of meat - tender and juicy. With the special spices they give you, it slides into your mouth and down your throat within a few juicy bites.
My first plateful ^^ of food. Seriously, once they get started, the food just KEEPS on coming. You can see the Mozarella cheese on the left, then a slide of lamb (rare and oh so tender), chicken breast on the top left hand corner, honey mustard ham on its right, with rice, creamy potatoes, sausages and rice. There was a vast variety of food available and we just kept saying YES even before they asked us if we wanted some :D
Then we got crackling pork belly, cheesy bread, scotch fillet marinated with a mustard-like sauce, small sausages and there was a particularly spicey beef steak they gave us later I forgot to capture onto my camera in my eating enthusiasm :D
My awesome friends from Church - there are a lot more but a lot of them couldn't make it. Everyone looks super happy here and very full too! :D This would be the group where cantonese and english are alternated with lightning fast speed. The stories they told me about their adventures together were hilarious and very entertaining. I had a really amazing time with these people. It takes dinners together, camps and quality time spent together to really get to know each other and I'm so glad I didn't bail on this dinner!

Had a really nice chat with J after dinner on the train back home. I hope we all go for our dreams, because those who follow their dreams and don't give up - I believe - will find true happiness. Everybody has their vocation in this lifetime and to find it, then find satisfaction in it is a lifetime goal which I think is the key to leading a life with no regrets. So all you out there who have dreams, GO. FOR. IT. It's not too late, don't let money stop you, and most importantly, don't let yourself stop you.

One of my all-time favourite quotes (one I write in front of my music scrapbook to motivate me :D)

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."

So there's my week. Hope all you out there has been having an even better one. I'm going to see DOCTOR ZHIVAGO tomorrow! Super excited and really hoping it will be a fun night.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Ticket delivery!

I absolutely LOVE receiving things from the mail. Whether those things are books or anything else really that's addressed to me, I love the feeling of opening up the parcel or envelope and seeing what's inside.

And so it was extra extra exciting when I opened up a yellow envelope to find THESE:
Well, there's actually four all linked together but the camera's too small to let me capture them all in one frame. We're going to see it WEDNESDAY 23 MARCH 8pm =D I can't wait. It's probably not the most outstanding musical in the world, because it's still relatively new and it's based on a more tragic and dramatic theme, but I know that it's a musical that's worth seeing! I'll be sure to type up a little review with a few pics (hopefully) afterwards. I pray and reallyyy hope that we get Anthony Warlow - so Mr Warlow, if you have the time to follow my blog LOL, please perform on that night. pretty please :)

That's all for now. More news from Japan especially about the nuclear crisis and big earthquakes that are only aftershocks - I kinda feel like I should have used the money from the tickets to donate to Japan. I love that country, I love their people, their arts, culture and technology. Stay strong!!