Monday, October 26, 2009

Ingrid Michaelson in Madison

It was a semi-family trip to see the remarkable Ingrid Michaelson in Madison at the Barrymore theater Saturday night. The show was sold out and the lines waiting for seating went far down the street. Fortunately is was unseasonably warm for Wisconsin.

The girls behind us were from Appleton and had come to see her last year in November. They were full of youthful exhuberance as many friends made their way to see the show, a few who managed to cut in line with them to take advantage of the "it's who you know" policy. The couple in front of us were from South Dakota. He surprised his woman with a 10.5 hour car trip to see Ingrid for her birthday. It was terribly romantic.

The doors opened for seating slightly later than they should have, but people piled in graciously and willingly had their hands stamped to waltz into the theater in order to find seats. We managed to get 2nd row seats with a great view of the stage. That lasted until the show actually started and people swarmed to the front floors blocking all view so they could be closer to the artists performing. The view then became filled with a mass of people who could have cared less if anyone else could see. Some were rather rude pushing their way through to find a square inch to park themselves for the duration of the show. It became clear that the midsection would have been the most preferable seating, but we found out too late.

The first act was Matthew Perryman Jones who looked hot in his blue jeans, beard, and long hair. My husband, Brian, was not impressed with his good looks and he spouted off, "All his songs sound the same and the boy needs a shave." To which I replied, "I think he's sexy." But I must say that he didn't do much to entertain us except sing and say a few quips to let us know he was live and not lip syncing.

The crowd went wild when Ingrid took the stage. She dressed simply in a purple flow top and black jeans. She wore her signature black glasses and smiled at the audience. She was born to perform. She proved that not only is she a talented singer/songwriter, but she is engaging and charming. She knew how to make people laugh and feel welcome. Her form is tiny but her essence is huge.

The band was very good and versatile. Allie Moss is traveling with her on this tour and did a wonderful job with her vocals and acoustic guitar playing. At first it seemed as if the two female guitarists were at odds, but it must have just been the initial stage fright. The first time Allie smiled her face lit up and you could see she was very attractive. She should spend more time smiling. All in all I give the band an A+. They worked well together and were very professional.

During the performance I only had my foot stepped upon 3 times. The same woman managed to keep shinning her cell phone in my eyes. I was happy when she left and was cautious when she reappeared. Do you say anything in a situation like this? Was it an accident or did she just ignore me? She asked if I minded if she sat on the seat armrest. I said, "Sure, but could you be careful, please, to not step on my foot again?" She had no idea she had done so and was mortified. After seeing her boots I can see why she didn't know she had made the slight faux pas. She ended up being a very nice person. I'm sure most people there were. She even bought me a beer because she lost the bet on how old I was. It does pay to look younger. (Thank you, AVON.)

So, here are some hints for those of you that might join us next year:

1. If you don't want to stand up for 3 or 4 hours, remember to sit mid section or in the balcony.
2. Wear sensible shoes.
3. Visit the ATM before going because the theater only takes cash and checks.

If you do get the chance check out Ingrid Michaelson's music and don't miss a show if she comes near you. I know you won't be disappointed.

(picture compliments of Brian Dunbar)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Sweat Lodge Deaths were Unspiritual

I was horrified when I heard of the deaths of the people in the Arizona sweat lodge. My husband was equally horrified because he knew that it was one practice I have been enjoying with some new and wonderful Native friends in the Dells. The people I practice with are very spiritual and the process is ritualistic from the heating of the stones to the entrance into the lodge. The entire process if filled with love and honoring of the Spirit that they call upon for the well-being and health of those entering and their families and friends.

My experiences have been life altering and beautiful. I gained an understanding of the true essence of the people I shared the experience with and learned a new way of healing and sharing. They had specific rules and guidelines from what you were allowed to wear to what you did once inside. The event cannot occur without certain Holy people present.

This life altering event cost me absolutely nothing but gained me world of new spiritual awakening.

The people in Arizona were not as fortunate in their experience as I. They paid $9695-a-person for a "Spiritual Warrior" retreat. This retreat left people scarred and three people dead. There is nothing spiritual in any of these things.

It is heart rendering that someone profits on stealing a sacred ritual and turning into a money making opportunity. I find it to be a disgrace for him to shame the Native American community and focus his opportunistic endeavors on their spiritual success and turn it into a question as to whether these practices are "safe."

Native Americans are not looking to profit from their spiritual activity. They are looking to help friends and family with a centuries old practice that has rules and guidelines. It is one of the practices they have kept through their generations of hardship in surviving the progression of being overthrown by greedy land developers and cheated out of their properties by over eager settlers relocating for whatever reasons in the 1800's.

James Arthur Ray was not looking to instill a new spiritual awakening in the people he converted, he was looking to make a profit with his charismatic presence. He spoke of being on top and how many material possessions he had and how he had to regain them after his loss.

Ray's lessons for spirituality come with a high price tag. His "Practical Mysticism" classes cost a whooping $5,295. What I find mystifying is that anyone believes that the only people that can help you become spiritually adept are the ones that make you pay so much for it. The price tag doesn't indicate a man wanting to help others as much as someone wanting to line his own pockets.

Spirituality is free, you just have to open yourself up to the possibility. Some of us may not be nearly as rich monetarily but we are rich in so many other areas of our lives. Money does not make you successful, it just give you the appearance of being so.

And not allowing people to leave when they felt too much pressure was negligent. Not allowing someone to help that had the proper training was criminal.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

My Stay at the Rosemont Hotel O'Hare in Chicago

Sometimes when you travel you get lucky and find a diamond in the rough. Other times you just find the rough without the sparkle. Which did I find this time?

My daughter, Sarah, my youngest, Cian, and I took a trip yesterday to Chicago. In spite of the GPS's attempt to keep me from reaching our destination I prevailed. There seriously are times I believe that the woman in the GPS is trying to kill me. I need to remember to check and make sure she hasn't used the satellite systems to change the beneficiary on my insurance policy.

After a quick, but tasty, bypass to the White Castle for hamburgers we made it past the $2.50 tolls on roads that needed more work then the free ones we road upon in Wisconsin, we found the Rosemont. It's not the easiest place to get into, I must say. They have a lot of barriers up around the hotel, mostly to keep you from easily checking in or parking. However, if you want to make life easier for $28 you can have a valet park your car for you. Opting out of this you can drive around to park and pay only $18. Nice huh? Not really.

So, when you are finally able to park pray you haven't decided to bring too many bags for your stay. Why? Because you have anywhere from a block to a half a block walk to the lobby. At the check out the girl behind the counter, despite your previous preference when you booked your reservation and ignoring the fact that there are 3 of you in your party, will ask you if you would like a king bed room. When I told her that I had specified a double she replied with, "Well, I'm not allowed to presume." Okay. I didn't think that specifying my preference in advance and actually taking a few seconds to look at it was presuming, but maybe I learned something.

The hotel did have some nice amenities, such as the decor in the room. The rooms are spacious and well decorated. However, there is no complimentary coffee and the ice bucket is actually more like a glass bowl without a lid. They also do not believe in top sheets on the bed.

The hotel promotes wi fi, but in actuality it's available only as a "hot spot" which means you have to pay for it via Tmobile for another $8. There is also no free breakfast or donuts. They do have a menu available and you can purchase a cup of coffee for $8 a pot or $4 a cup. Stick with the water is my advice.

The beds are comfy in spite of the lack of top sheet. Not too hard, not too soft. But don't get too comfy. Even on Saturday the maids decide that a good time to bring out the vacuum and bang it against the wall to make sure no dust bunnies are hiding in the baseboards. If that doesn't wake you up don't be surprised if the maid doesn't knock on your door at 8:15 to make sure you don't want to go ahead and check out and have your room cleaned. Check out is supposed to be noon. But hey, you may want an early start, right?

If you call to ask the front desk if they really want you to leave or if they are just trying to get voted as the "Most Annoying Hotel," they will respond with "If you didn't want the maid to knock on your door, why didn't you put up the 'Do Not Disturb' sign?" Wow. Maybe because they never told me this was necessary at the Hilton or the Holiday Inn. Shame on them. I responded with, "Would that have kept them from vacuuming and hitting the walls at 7:30?"

It's not all bad, honestly. They do have a nice LG large screen tv complete with cable. They have a swimming pool and a sauna, but no hot tub. They also have plenty of running hot water.

All in all I would have to say that it's not likely I'll stay here again, despite the cute decor.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

What's Your Leisure Suit Test

I took it and got the "Sexy Siren." I don't know about that, but I do like to sit around in my pj's or something easy to take off so I'm all nice and comfy.

Your result for What's Your Leisure Suit? Test...

The Sexy Siren

40% Lingerie

Honestly you don't mind that naughty tossled look. You go for the sex appeal factor in your life and fun times. You like being a bit naughty and unpredictable, don't you?

Your leisure time activities probably include reading fashion magazines, celebrity gossip, dramas, reading romance novels, and shopping. Of course you like to spend some of your free time in the sack with someone that can appreciate your talents.

Who can blame you?

Take What's Your Leisure Suit? Test at HelloQuizzy

Saturday, October 10, 2009

My Favorite Imo

I absolutely love learning about different cultures. One of the main reasons could be because of my background. My biological mother came here from Italy and passed away when I was 9. I still miss her. My father remarried when I was 10 to my present mother, whom is Korean, and one of the most remarkable women anyone could ever know.

Needless to say my background was fraught with difficulties and complications that could fill a novel. Most people would swear I had to be lying. However, it is what it is and it made me who I am. Though I would never wish what I lived through on anyone else difficulties made me stronger.

This morning I was thinking about my Imo Moon Ja. When I was a young girl I thought she was one of the most beautiful people I had ever met. She had the kindest soul and the most upbeat spirit. Yet often times she was sad.

In Seoul she had been a professor of Korean at the university. In the US she was nothing more than another person coming to the US trying to fit in. I remember her crying one night saying that people in the US treated her as if she were stupid because she wasn't proficient in English. They felt that because she couldn't express herself in English that she had to be ignorant and treated her that way. She was not happy. I know that Imo Moon Ja was far from stupid. She had a world of knowledge tucked away in her brain. In reality it was those that couldn't see or understand the intelligence that was there that were lacking in brain power.

Imo used to spend a lot of time with me. She would teach me Korean words and gave me a Korean name. She was very energetic and loving. I knew that when she married my Uncle P.D., who was also Korean as well as a very gifted artist, that they would have wonderfully brilliant children. I was right. They had three, two girls and a boy.

I was sad when they all moved to Seattle. I would truly miss her. Uncle P.D. had created beautiful works of art and had a showing in the Corcoran Gallery of Art in DC. He was well read and was headed for greatness. His talent is what inspired me to start painting.

Sadly not long after they left Uncle PD passed away. Imo Moon Ja did not take it well. It was like part of her soul had been ripped away. She came back to stay with us for a while. I wanted so much to take away her pain, but no one could. I remember laying with her sometimes trying to comfort her. She had literally lost a part of herself. I think her saving grace was having her children. But life for her from then on was going to be turbulent and hard. She persevered.

Her ability to overcome every obstacle she came across is what has inspired me in my own life. Because of Imo Moon Ja I know that regardless of what happens we can make it in life. Even when the worst possible thing might happen you can move on.

Imo Moon Ja never remarried, but she devoted everything she had into raising her children. I think it's paid off. They are all gifted, charming, and successful. Each one has her heart of gold. They all love her completely and understand her little idiosyncrasies.

Imo Moon Ja was a major factor in how I grew up and how I saw the world.

So, Imo, kamsahamnida. Saranghae.