Posted by: balladofyoko | January 9, 2005

My Tribes and Conversations

I admit that going to three parties in one night was a little excessive. Particularly in light of the fact that I had a 5-hour rehearsal prior to the parties, logged over 150 miles driving from one party to the next, returned home around 1 in the morning, and then had to get up early for a gig the next day. I’m not going to be doing that again anytime soon.

Still, there were a lot of good things that happened this weekend.

I learned two new pieces. The other members marveled at how quickly I learned them, but believe me, I was as surprised as they were. The music is taught largely by mimicry– someone will play a part of the piece, and you learn by playing the part back. Very few of the pieces are written down. My prior musical training has been largely learning from printed pieces, and I’ve had problems memorizing music on the clarinet and the piano. Maybe there’s something to be said about doing away with the visual element, and relying solely on the ear to process the music in order to play and internalize it. Or maybe it’s the instrument, or the genres of pieces? I have to think about this further.

Party 1: with the drum group
Members of the drum group and their friends took part in this party. Many of the people there were of Japanese descent– a few issei (the first generation who immigrated to America), but more nisei and sansei (the children of issei who grew up in America, and their children) were there, multiracial folks, and Caucasians. Throughout many conversations, there was a lot of code switching going on, especially between the issei and the nisei. I’ll get to more about that later on, but for right now, let me say that it’s oddly comforting to converse like that with people who are not my family.

I won a pair of drumsticks from the raffle. We watched old videos of the group’s performances– in their heyday, they were exciting to watch. I hope we can pull together and become a strong taiko group once again.

Party 2: with the library folk
As the first party was ending, I said my goodbyes and then sped off to Philly, where Ashy’s birthday party was. There were people other than library workers there, but I ended up gravitating towards my friends. Conversations for me inevitably wound up about talking shop, talking about Scrabble, and blogging, with knitting chats and admiring gadgets thrown in for good measure– my favorite things to talk about, especially while eating clementines. I sadly didn’t stay as long as I wanted at Ashy’s, but I was beginning to feel tired, and I had one more party left.

Party 3: with the old crowd
I made my way to Suze in the suburbs as her birthday party was more or less ending. I missed the party games (thank goodness), but I also missed talking more in depth with some friends there. These friends are from a previous life of mine; I met them through a now-ex-boyfriend with whom I no longer keep in touch, and this group itself has fragmented, what with many changes in each of the people’s respective lives. But Suze and her husband John are two from that group who really matter to me, so I try to see them whenever I can.

I ended up talking with Suze on the kitchen floor for a while. I admired her new greyhound, talked politics with John and his friend until I looked at the clock and realized I had to get home and sleep. I got a fragrant pomelo as a surprise present.

The drum group performed at the New Year’s celebration for a Japanese-American organization. I didn’t get to shake my gourd; the piece was dropped due to time considerations. I ended up doing stage set-up, which was fine by me. I got to suit up in the group’s uniform anyway.

Lunch was to be part of the remuneration for the performance, but there was not enough food for the ten of us. Some of us felt that it was an insult. An example of code switching— one of the group, an issei, remarked, “Hidoi ne! (That’s really awful!) Jesus Christ da ne!” The “Jesus Christ” part was meant to be an exclamation more like “goddammit!”, but the “da ne” part made it sound more explanatory than exclamatory, as if he were saying “It’s that it’s Jesus Christ!” rather than “This sucks!” We ended up convulsing in laughter in spite of ourselves.

The performance itself turned out quite fine, and the audience was very appreciative. We got extra sushi and Pocky when we complained about lunch, and I took some home.

I crashed when I got back– slept for a couple hours. I think I’ll go and sleep some more now.



  1. Considering it was during the 2nd of 3 parties that I encountered you, you seemed very jolly and energized. It was very good to see you! I’m pondering a January/February GGS at my house, but i’m waiting to hear when Sooner can make it down before I set a date….

  2. Your a Rock Star!


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