Thursday, August 20, 2009

Cringing Trip Down Memory Lane

So recently, I co-presented on a webinar that was broadcast live and recorded for work. I've had a few compliments on my performance — mostly, the fact that I sounded confident and conversational (people seem most taken with the phrase "quick and dirty" ... is that really such a risqué expression?). I attribute this all to the four years I spent as a DJ on the college radio station at UCSB.

Most of my stint on KCSB was on a late-night show. I started on the 2 - 4 a.m. slot, and pretty much stuck with it most of my four years. There was a 10 p.m. to midnight show at some point, a late-afternoon show for another quarter, the awful 6 to 8 a.m. — or was it 8 to 10? — slot I slogged through for another quarter (hated it). One quarter I had two radio slots in the week, to pick up for someone who dropped out — I called that second show "Outside", which had always been my secret back-up name for my normal radio show, "The Dynamic Groovy Music Hour" (thank you, David Tanser, for the name). I was always Sarah the Great, though.

At night, I kept most of the lights in the station off. Most of the time I was by myself; generally until the person with the following slot would stumble sleepily in. There was just enough light to read the CD booklets while I picked the next song, to see the board, to read my notes if I had to study for a test the next day (rarely did that last ... was too distracting from my DJing). I would blast the in-studio speakers on my favorite songs and dance around like an idiot. A couple times someone walked in unexpectedly and caught me at that. And when the phone light flashed, indicating I was getting a call, from an actual listener, that was the best.

A few listeners were regulars, and would call every week. I went on a date with one of them the first year, just before he moved to Portland. Two of my later regulars were truck drivers for Trader Joe's, and one of them had a crush on my voice. He would request the same song every week, Mephiskapheles's "Bumble Bee Tuna Song", and I always called him Eddie, forgetting that his real name was Ernie.

I taped several of those shows, but for a long time I had no way to play those recordings back, since with the death of my old boombox I no longer had a tape deck. I kind of stuck the tapes into a box in the depths of my closet, and semi-forgot about them. But suddenly, with the departure of Geof to the East Coast, I have the ability — for he sold me his entertainment system, including a combo turntable/CD player/AM-FM radio/tape deck.

The webinar and its aftermath of fame and fortune (ha. ha. ha.) had me thinking about those good ol' days, and I finally remembered those tapes. Got home tonight and pulled some of them out of the closet — the collection includes not only my very last show (which my dad listened to on the drive down to help me move out of my apartment, since I was on the air while he was on the road) but also the very very first shows I ever produced, on the training station (KJUC) that every DJ on KCSB was required to do at least a quarter on before moving to the "big time". I popped the tape of the first show into the player while dinner was cooking, turned it up, and braced for the worst.

I was totally unprepared for how awful I was. No idea how to work any of the equipment (as evidenced by songs that would suddenly cut off in the first minute and then start over again ... or continue), no idea how to use the mic or pot up the volume (my voice was about half the volume of the rest of the sound), no idea how to talk on the air (all mumbles) ... but at least my taste in music was there. I found myself hearing songs I haven't listened to in years, good songs that I shouldn't have stopped listening to. It's like a mix tape I made just for my future self ... eleven years ago.

To make myself feel better, I quickly popped the recording of the final show in before moving on to KJUC Tape #2 and listened to myself after four years' experience. Much better. Clear voice. Good use of the mic and sound board. And I sounded confident. Back to KJUC Tape 2 showed improvement already — only one cut off song, and I'd learn how to pot up the mic volume. Wonder how long it took for me to stop mumbling.

I'll probably work my way through the rest of the tapes over the next few weeks. It's kind of nice to do, reminds me of all the awesome things I've done, and can still do.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

How did I get here?

While waiting for my 7:30 Tuesday Krav 1 class to start, I was talking to one of the random guys I see regularly at the facility. We were both watching the Conditioning Class, which starts at 6:30 and basically involves 15 or so people being run into the ground for an hour straight. It looks pretty hardcore — and not just to me: I've heard a lot of the "tough" guys (one of whom told me he did a stint in the armed forces) talking about how "brutal" that class is and how they are too scared to take it. Which makes it sound all the more pleasant.

At any rate, while we were watching people verge on collapsing from exhaustion (and loving it), Random Guy and I were discussing the other fitness classes, and I mentioned I hadn't taken any of them. He himself was waiting for the kettle ball conditioning class, and talking about how I definitely should try it, as well as all the other things. Then he started talking about his fitness regime ... this is a guy who runs 3 miles every morning, does a couple hours at the Krav facility most days, and plays soccer on the weekends. Between this he rides his bike around the city (that is, the circumference of SF, not just back and forth) at least once or twice a week.

"Yeah," he said. "I exercise a lot."

My response: "No kidding."

And then he asked me if I rode my bike to work, and I had to stare blankly at him before telling him I didn't have a bike, can't really afford one ... and I live UP a hill. "That's no excuse," he told me. "Bikes are cheap -- you can get one thirty, forty bucks. How about running? How much do you run?"

Another blank look from me. For perspective: while I have tightened up a bit in the last couple months, I'm still a dumpy, roly-poly boobalicious female. Add to this image the fact that I was hunched over the sock I was knitting at the time, working a cable pattern. Six months ago, exercise for me involved walking the two and a half miles to the bar in the Mission where I was meeting my friends. Downhill. The fact that I can get my arse to Krav — and love it — is pretty daring for lazy ol' me.

"I haven't run in forever," I finally said. "And I don't have good shoes."

"Again, no excuse," he said, quite seriously. "Shoes you can get for another thirty bucks. People run in all kinds of shoes. They run barefoot. Anyone can run."

Clearly, this man is insane. But somehow, as he was extolling the virtues of running and biking, something stirred deep inside of me. My knitting slowed, my back straightened, my eyes unfocused as I imagined myself leisurely pedaling through the city.

I don't know how he did it, but this man made it appealing. I swear, the next day I almost went online and started looking for a bike. I'm still tempted.

Oh, and that Conditioning class? I'm starting to think I should at least try it once. I mean ... what's a little near-death in the name of good health? Plus, I've heard that a couple months of taking that class once a week cures you of any fat you might have had lurking around your body. (Also, there is a cute guy that takes it ... I'd get to watch him sweat up close. Hawt.)

Good gracious ... what's happening to me?