The Rule of Three





Some days pass by without fuss or ceremony. Others bring with them a torrent of things you could do without. Today can be placed in the latter category. I won’t delve too deep into the details because they are neither interesting nor relevant in retrospect. What I learned will continue to resound into the future, so let’s just focus on that at this point.

Bad things happen in threes, they say. Today was no exception, so I can say that I learned three very valuable things today:

1) Parents will always be parents no matter what, and the sooner you accept that, the happier you’ll be.

2) No matter what you say or don’t say, neither person walks away from an argument feeling good about anything.

3) At the end of the day, being able to deflect life’s curve balls with laughter (especially when shared with a special someone) certainly makes the day’s struggle worth something.

Oh, and the beach is the perfect escape from the litany. In order to ease my mind, I drove to Bolsa Chica and walked around for a little bit simply to clear my head. I snapped a few photos and wrote a few verses.

The tide’s coming up
Water up to my knees
Kites flying high
And I want to be free
Sun’s sinking soon
There’s salt in the breeze
Foam’s in retreat
And I want to be free.

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Beach Bum




I officially cannot get enough of the beach. Woke up early this morning and headed to Huntington Beach to lay out and catch some sun. My skin has been deprived of its dose for too long. I could feel the melanin trickling in again!

The breaking waves provided a soundtrack to some reflection. On being home again, I love that I have been able to fill my days with people. Although a year has gone by since I moved out of California, with some people it feels like not a day has passed since we last spoke. With others I feel the rift that has formed between us since I left, forged by the distance that has separated us, but it’s nothing that can’t be repaired by some quality time. I feel that the desire to be there for each other surpasses any obstacles (or rifts) in between.

From purging my room of things I no longer want to own, to revisiting old friends, to indulging in delicious California food, to missing people back east, to trying to figure out what the future is going to look like, these past few days back have been mentally busy. Strangely, I feel at peace with it all. I remind myself that it’s a part of life’s ebb and flow, and everything that is meant to happen will eventually happen anyway, so trying to control any of it would simply be silly. In the past, I’ve always resisted ever so slightly to being exactly where I am. My mind has an incessant habit of wandering to places I’ve been before or would rather be, a habit which has hindered many an experience in the past and prevented me from being completely happy. Today when I dug my feet into the sand, I grounded myself in both Here and Now and wanted nothing more than what I had in that moment.

“Just catch the wave don’t be afraid of loving me
The fundamental loneliness goes
Whenever two can dream a dream together”

Soundtrack of the day
1. Samba Da Bencao – Sergio Mendes
2. Harvest Moon – Neil Young
3. S’wonderful – Joao Gilberto
4. I Know You Know – Esperanza Spalding
5. Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You – Joanna Wang

California, Coming Home


Headed back west to chase some sunsets and getting a tan along the way. I’ve been home for two days, and my taste buds have never been happier. I’ve already had my fix of pho, vegetarian Vietnamese food, In-N-Out, and my mom’s home cooking. It’s becoming a challenge NOT to gorge. Gastronomically speaking, I am having an amazing trip.

Joseph and I hit Manhattan Beach today to go surfing. This was the first successful attempt for us to do so. We’ve tried to go before but have consistently run into “black ball situations,” in which the black ball flag is raised at the beach = NO SURFING. Guess what?! I stood up on the surfboard!! Catch a wave, and you’re sitting on top of the world! The Beach Boys were right. Hopefully we can hit up the beach again soon! I plan on making multiple – if not daily – trips during my stay here. There’s probably a sandy beach somewhere in my soul. It’s been far too long since I’ve seen the ocean.

Manhattan Beach

The Pacific

I drew a pattern in the sand on Joe’s board

Surf rack

Whee!

The bear that roams around Joe’s house (aka his dog)

The newest addition to the family is my Yamaha NTX700. My mom and I went straight from the airport to Guitar Center so I could make this purchase. This is my first nylon string guitar. I love my Ibanez, but I think I’m IN love with my Yamaha. I’m so comfortable playing this guitar already and had an instant connection with it since I first played it months ago. Jazzier guitar, here I com! I’ve yet to name it, but this will come in time. It will most likely be Disney related to keep with the theme. (My Ibanez is called Mickey Blue, but my ukulele is Minnie, because it’s mini!)




Soundtrack of the day:
1. Catch a Wave – Beach Boys
2. Can’t Hurry Love – The Supremes
3. I Think I Love You – The Partridge Family
4. It’s All in the Game – Tommy Edwards
5. Howl’s Moving Castle Theme – Joe Hisaishi

Sunday Gray


Sundays are notoriously the laziest days of the week. Today is no exception. Maryland has graced us with another rainy day, but I have no complaints. How can I when I have jazz and wonderful company? I opened up my window blinds and let gray light pour in.

What’s on the agenda today? Packing, packing, packing. Bossa nova in between. I’m headed back to California for two weeks, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little sentimental. Four months have passed since I last went back west, and these past few days have made me realize how attached I’ve grown to my life in Maryland. A year ago, I couldn’t ever imagine calling this coast Home. Ironically, that’s exactly what it has become. Being aware of the evolution of my emotions, though, doesn’t reconcile much. I’m still leaving Maryland for two weeks. Then moving back to California for a longer period of time at the end of September, but I’ll save all this for another post. For now, I’m fixed on the amazing food that I’ve missed out on since moving here, seeing all the friends that have been wonderfully supportive of me from afar, and getting a tan!

Felipe and Nabs are going to keep me company today while I rummage through all the things I have to pack. There’s apple pie in the fridge. These are worthy distractions of my impending departure.

Love will lift you by the bicycle wheel.


Today’s soundtrack:

La Dolce Vita – Maria de Medeiros
Emily – Bill Evans Trio
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes – Thelonious Monk

Love is Like Rhapsody in Blue




I’m convinced that jazz is an aphrodisiac. I have officially overdosed on it. Under its influence, I have fallen in love with life, music, and fallen in love, period. I owe Columbia Station in Adams Morgan, U Street, and Jazz in the Garden in D.C. for playing host to me, my ears, and company. We’ve taken to spending our evenings listening to the stylings of live jazz performers in Washington, D.C. lately. I can’t help but feel inspired every time I hear live bands play, especially when it comes to jazz bands. More than anywhere else I’ve lived (keep in mind that I have yet to live in New York City or anywhere down south), D.C. has never failed to provide a wide selection of jazz bars and clubs to peruse.

The more I think about it, the more I realize how much jazz has underscored my life leading up until now. An old friend reminded me that when we were younger, I compared falling in love to “Rhapsody in Blue.” I suppose my association with love and jazz dates farther back than I thought! I was drawn to swing and Sinatra early on, then to Gershwin, then to Django. Then I thrust myself ever deeper into the insatiable world of jazz music and haven’t stopped since. My biggest concern for the genre is its seemingly sparse albeit enthusiastic fan base (which is also limited to a certain age range most of the time). While the music I write is more jazz influenced than pure jazz, I hope to one day pass on the message that the musicians I’ve been listening to carry, in my own way. I’d like to be part of a movement that helps make jazz palatable, relevant, and – goshdarnit – popular again to some degree!

Jazz is a whole world in itself, one that I hope more people opt to enter. It’s intelligent. It’s gritty. It’s nostalgic. It’s honest. It speaks to your soul at the end of the evening and sends your spirit flying if it’s in need of lifting. It’s the soundtrack to candlelit conversation. It’s the brass band on a summer afternoon. It’s what cuts through the smoky bar after midnight. It beckons you to dance even when your feet feel as if filled with lead. It’s the old crooner ditty on the radio during Christmas time that reminds you everything will be okay. It’s jazz. Always moving – and always moving you if you let it.

In the Red


In life’s journey, people are my favorite stops.

There is no better feeling than being around people you love and whom love you right back. I feel so fortunate to have met the people that I have in my life in this moment. Last night, I played a show at Chloe’s Coffee, and almost all the people that I’ve met since moving here came by to listen to us play. Even some people whom I’ve never met before but have heard about our music stopped by out of curiosity. Talk about warm and mushy feelings! I was brimming with gratitude and love.

I look back on my life one year ago and see how much has changed. Last August, I found myself feeling very isolated in a new city full of people. I spent most of my time alone reading, writing, listening to music, and filling up my Netflix queue in my spare time. “Home” was someplace from which I was far removed. How quickly the tables turned.

This week, albeit full of summer rain, was also bursting at the seams with memories. I’ve never slept less, but I’ve never loved and laughed more. In recent memory, I’ve stayed up all night just to watch the sun rise. I’ve ridden in a Ford Flex, the most obnoxious car imaginable on the road. I’ve made music every single day. I’ve fallen in and out of love. I’ve made multiple late-night runs to 7-11 to the point that I’m probably on a first-name basis with the cashier. I’ve made new friends and visited old ones. I’ve gotten lost driving in Virginia (it was a 14-mile detour, to be exact). I’ve started running again. I helped a friend move. I have filmed a music video in front of a green screen. While driving on the freeway, I’ve gotten caught in the middle of a record thunderstorm in Montgomery County. I’ve discovered carrots and hummus. I finally saw Under the Tuscan Sun (and disliked it). I’ve witnessed a car accident happen right in front of me. I’ve recorded an album with musicians I adore. I’ve laughed at nothing and everything.

While on the phone with a friend recently, Felipe (my bassist and very dear friend) commented to a friend about life, music, and money:

“We are definitely in the red…but life feels good.”

Reinspired


Speaking to myself from the past seems to be a recurring theme lately in life. I recently received a letter written to me from my 12th-grade self. My reaction to it made its way into a song called “Senior Letter” on the upcoming album.

Then, in sharing my old xanga with a friend recently, I suddenly felt re-inspired to blog again, consistently. Looking back on my old entries, as menial as I thought some of the details of my life were, reading through them – no matter how obscure or dismissible – gives me a bigger snapshot of my life in that one moment.

How magical it will be when, five years from now, I look back on this entry and remember waking up at 5AM this morning to walk with Felipe to the metro, trekking to Pentagon City and stalling around the mall for 4 hours, meeting Celeste and Nabs at 10AM to go to the doctor’s, taking a 14-mile detour through D.C., feeling terribly bloated and moody but silly, cracking up at gastritis at the diner, and the 3 consecutive out-of-service trains on the way back home? When asked about his favorite quotation, a very good friend of mine likes to says that he enjoys the things people say every day most. I’m looking forward to capturing more of this. Good times are all around. You just need the right lens through which to see them.

The older you get, the more material you have on which to look back. Unless you have an elephant’s memory (which I don’t), it’s harder to keep track of memories when your brain is stretching its capacity wire thin to accommodate everything you need to keep track of now. That’s where journal-ing comes in. Here’s to looking back on yesterdays, remembering todays, and hoping for good tomorrows to come our way.

-L. Bee