Monday, January 29, 2018

Playing My Part: Fiddling on Stage

I’m playing my violin on a wooden stage, in front of hundreds of people. I can’t see anybody’s faces because the lights are so bright. I gaze up, toward Heaven, and suddenly the sky starts sparkling, as if somebody sprinkled silver confetti in the air above.

Something must be reflecting the stage lights, and it’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. I keep playing my fiddle, even if I’m almost crying from the beauty above me.... But I can’t look away from pure magic, and as I continue ascertaining my surroundings, I realize the sky is sparkling  because of...bugs.

The stage lights reflect off a millions little wings, flapping, twirling, and dancing....

Normally this would be the oddest thing in the world, but not that night: not playing my violin, not knowing hundreds of people are listening, and I’m jamming with some of the best musicians I’ve ever met.

 And I find myself: so amazed by the beauty of God‘s creation, so happy to be alive. And all I can think in that moment is even the most unexpected things can become the most beautiful, when put in the right light.

To learn more about the band I’m in, please go here:

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

What does it mean--I'm a rainbow?

    Today started out normal enough, until I got a call from my mentor.  "You know what I am?" I asked him after a minute of conversation.
    "What?" he responded.
    "I'm a rainbow-chaser.  I think there's a pot o' gold at the end of every rainbow, so once I see a rainbow I practically have to go after it."
    "You are so honest with yourself," he said.  And I had to smile because he calls me out on things all the time--by agreeing with me--but it's so diplomatic I can process the feedback and become a better person.
    Anyway, after we hung up, I continued thinking about how I actually am a rainbow-chaser, always hoping I can be better, do more, try harder....  
    The day marched on until (hours later) I ended up talking with two guys who specialize in computers.  One of the men helped me set up a shortcut on a printer.  "I'm going to pick your icon," he said.
    Oh, no....  This would be interesting.  He scrolled through three different screens until finally picking one.
    "This one fits you."
    "THAT one?" I asked.
    "Of course." He smiled.  "You're a rainbow."
    And it was this bright, happy thing that practically beamed from the screen.  A rainbow, arching perfectly, next to my now-programmed name.
    It wasn't until I told this whole story to one of my dearest friends tonight that the whole day came into focus.  "My mentor said I'm so honest with myself--but maybe that's what makes acceptance so hard--I really know my strengths and weaknesses.  I work hard and get things done, but I also chase after unattainable ideals.  And now, to top all that off, I'm apparently a rainbow!"
    "Elisa," I could almost hear her smiling on the other end of the phone, "don't you get it?  You're always chasing rainbows, but you don't really need to...because you are one."
    Chills ran up and down my body.  I'm still processing the deep meaning behind all of that, and I'm sure I will be for days.  But for now, here's what I have: Being honest with ourselves is crucial, but only because it can lead to growth and acceptance.
    Isn't it amazing how my mentor let me share so I could be honest with myself, the computer specialist made my day by completing a God-wink for me, and my dear friend brought everything to light?
    I'm surrounded by such wonderful people.
    Today, well, it was a good day.

Signing Off,
A Freakin' Rainbow

Friday, January 19, 2018

Scary People -- 10 Things I Learned in New York

    The man yelled at the top of his lungs, right in the middle of the subway car.  He preached about life, and growing up poor.  The whole time he jumped in front of people, daring them to contradict him.  "You disagree?  You call life fair?  YOU call this a just government?!  You think this is a good world?  Just because you sit there in your nice shoes, with your nice job--you think you're better than me!"
    My violin case rested snugly against my back, and he looked at me several times, then glanced at my case.
    "You think you're free?  We're not living in a metro-city, we're livin' in a hypocrisy!"
    A woman leaned next to me and whispered, "He is crazy.  And we don't have another stop for a long time!"
   I thought of how I'd played my violin on the subway (the day before) and everyone had gotten out on the next stop.  Too bad we didn't have a choice now.
    After that, I studied the screaming man and felt pity for him.  His face bore so much pain--worry-lines, areas where time and misfortune had tainted and distorted his features.
    What had he looked like before pain consumed him? As I thought all of this, I suddenly set my violin case on my lap.  
    "Oh no," Mike said.  "You're going to pull your violin out?"
    "And why not?  If I can clear a subway car, maybe I can calm one down too!"
    So, I got my violin out, and started plucking it and humming to the melody.  The whole time I hummed, I imaged love and kindness pouring out of me--wrapping around that man.  
    The man yelled louder, getting red in the face; yet everyone around looked at the violin, and listened to the simply plucked melody--notes loud enough to cut through hate.  
    He got quieter and quieter, then swore and got off at the next stop. 
    The lady who had spoken to me earlier smiled and said, "That was brave.  I thought things might get worse--that he'd hurt you.  How did you think of that?"
    "If there's one thing I know, it's how to clear a subway car."  
    I put my violin away afterward, then Mike and I continued on the subway ride like nothing had ever happened.

   photo AAE47F9F-62A1-43DD-9C4D-3EC024DEF941_zpswydpjcqs.jpeg 

Me, after clearing a subway car the previous day.

Sometimes we don't want to accept our gifts, but once we embrace our unique abilities, we can affect change.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Playing in the Subway -- 10 Things I Learned in New York

Part 9 -- Playing in the Subway

    One of my best memories from New York, is of the subway.  I played my fiddle on a subway car (video below).  But my favorite memory isn't of me playing--it's when someone else did.

#AnchoredToAPole #TheSubwayISBumpy
Posted by Elisa Beth Magagna on Sunday, December 24, 2017

     Matted gray hair framed his wind-beaten face, and honestly he smelled of urine.  I'm still not sure why, but just as the subway car's doors were about to close, he jumped into our car.
    His gnarled hands held a fiddle, which he made look much smaller than it actually was. I found it strange how his right hand didn't fully clasp the bow, and his left hand held the fiddle tenderly, like his only remaining lover.
    As the subway bumped along the track, the man stood right next to me and played.  It was a short, sweet song; I recognized it at once as the theme song from Doctor Zhivago.  It ended far too soon, and then he brought his case from person to person.  
    I watched as people raised their noses in disgust.  Others pretended not to see the man.  And finally...sadly, Mike and I were the only passengers who gave him a tip.  
   "Sir," I said, "that was beautiful!  YOU are unforgettable."  He bent down as I placed the money in his case.  Our eyes locked, and there was such a sparkle of mischief in his old, blue eyes.  For that moment, we understood one another, soul to soul.  That man with the weathered, tan skin, and the music which poured from his spirit...he saw my violin case on my back and we suddenly understood one another.  
    I didn't care what he smelled or looked like--and he didn't mind me so much either.  That man was so special; I still can't quite explain it, but he was.  
    And before I could talk to him more, he slipped out at the next stop, the doors closed behind him, and he was gone forever.
    "Wow," I said to Mike, "that man is amazing.  His intonation.  His presence."
    Another passenger looked at me like I was crazy.
    "What?" I said.  "He's phenomenal--not just his playing, but there's something about him."
    "He really was," Mike said.  And when I looked over at my husband, I knew he'd seen the same thing I did.
    Days, and miles away from New York, I'm still wondering what his story is.  How had someone so talented, gotten to a place in life where they smelled of urine and appeared to have nothing but a fiddle?
    I wish I could have heard about his journey, written a book about the man, given him something to help....  Instead all I gave him was what I had: two dollars and a smile. 

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Most Important Moment of Your Life -- 10 Things I Learned in New York

10 Things I Learned in NewYork -- Part 8

Mike and I heard that the most famous Irish pub in New York is The Dead Rabbit.  A man told us that people get in real bar fights there, others fall in love, but regardless the food is great.
    "Let's go," I told Mike.
    "So you can watch me get in a bar fight?"
    "I'd be more worried about me getting in one!"
    He laughed because apparently I don't look tough at all.
    We sat down on spinny bar stools and both ordered a Guinness.  "Wow, Guinness is different.  Dinner and a beer, all in one!"  Then, I suddenly looked around and nearly choked with excitement.  "Oh my gosh!" I squealed, hearing the conversations around us.  "There are Irish people--actually in this pub!"
    "Yep." Mike smiled.  "Yep, there are.  Irish people in an Irish pub." 
    The point is that I wish I was Irish.  I 'tried' perfecting the dialect for months, even read an entire book to my kids while acting as if Irish blood ran boldly through my veins.  Then I worked on the Scottish dialect, and read them this:
 photo sleekit_zpsmugtgo5d.jpg
Back cover quote:
Ad so the scene is set for a muckle battle between the scunnersome fermers and the tremendous tods. He'll need all his wily wits to escape the fermers' wrath and find a new way to feed his faimlie. But is he sleekit enough to succeed? 

    The whole book is written like that.  After finishing the book, that's about the time my DNA test came back.  I shook, so eager to find out I was really Irish.  But I had 0% Irish.  I'm a whole lot of Italian--which I love--and a whole lot of Scandinavian--go Vikings!
    "You're hilarious," Mike said.  "You want to use your Irish accent, don't you?"
    I nodded.  "But I won't.  That's weird!"
    We hadn't been sitting there long when one man came and introduced himself to Mike.  "I'm from Belfast--I'll answer that right off because people always ask me.  And you?  Where are you from?" 
    He sat by Mike and said, "Oh, the land of potatoes."
    Mike and I smiled at each other.  It doesn't matter how far we go from home, people hear the word 'Idaho' and they know about the potatoes.
    As Mike talked to his new best friend, another man came up to me--straight out of the bathroom.  He shook my hand and said with a slur, "I have herpes, you might want to wash that."
    I kept gripping his hand, not wanting that brute to get a rise out of ME.  "A man takes a piss," I said boldly, "then gets enough balls to try scaring some poor girl.  That's nice."  I refused to break eye contact, a bit worried I'd be in my very first bar fight! 
    "American."  He grinned so wide and slapped me on the back.
    I nodded, and tried not falling off the damn stool.  
    "Only American women respond like that.  I like ya.  I like all of ya."
    "Where are you from?" I asked.
    Then he walked back to his group of rowdies, and when I realized he wasn't looking back at me anymore, I went to the bathroom and washed my hands.  I didn't wanna look idiotic, but I also didn't want herpes!
    Anyway, the night went on, and Mike and Mr. Belfast had the most interesting conversations about war, life, and love.
    We went to another bar and Belfast came along.  I got bangers and mashers, and another beer!  After a moment, Mike went to the bathroom and Belfast and I sat awkwardly next to each other.  
    "Okay, fine," I said.  "I've been dying to ask you a question, so I'm gonna ask it!  Looking back at your exciting life--of travel and adventure--what's your most important memory?"
    He took a long draft of his fourth Guinness, and tapped the table with his free hand.  "All right....  It was over forty years ago, in the yard with my dad.  Before things got weird with growing up, and fighting for different countries.  Before it was hard to always know what's right and what's wrong.... He played football with me--not that American football.  Anyway, we played for hours.  If I could go back to that moment, well...."
    He didn't say anything more for a minute and took a swig of his beer.  "He's gone now, my dad.  But that single moment, playing football with my dad, that was perfect."
    Mike came out and Belfast started saying how he's done things his dad might not be proud of.
    I suddenly felt so impressed to say something, something I couldn't get from my mind.  
    "If you met us for anything, I hope it's for this single statement," I said, "it's time to forgive yourself.  Really, you've been carrying this around for too long.  You know your dad's love.  Forgive yourself.  It's time."
    Mike and I left shortly after that.  But not before I got to practice my Irish accent on the man.  "Oh, shit!" he laughed.  "That was pretty good.  It really was."
    Mike grinned so big that his face turned a bit red and his eyes sparkled with mirth.
    THAT moment was awesome--totally worth MONTHS of practice.    
    When Mike and I returned to our hotel that night, I kept thinking about Belfast's memory: playing football with his dad.  What a powerful thing, to pinpoint the most important memory, and see the value of life so clearly.

   The key moments of life often become painfully clear when those we love pass on. 

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Staten Island Musician -- 10 Things I Learned in New York

Part 7 -- Staten Island Musician

Mike and I drank smooth, black coffee on Staten Island, when suddenly a guitar melody drifted from nearby. 
    We followed the notes, and ended up in the large room where droves of people waited for the return ferry to New York.  Almost every person watched a guitarist, playing anything from Jamaican rifts, to a mix of Latino and rock harmonies.
    Anyway, he was astoundingly good, and I wished more than anything that I could jam with him.  So, I went and gave him a tip.  But as I turned to walk away, he saw my violin case, and he stopped playing.  "Are you pretty good?" he asked.
    "I've played since I was 5."
     "You wanna jam?"
     "Oh my gosh!  Are you kidding?!  YES, I want to jam!"
    So I took out my fiddle and we played—right there in front of the ever-growing crowd of people.
    After a couple of measures he leaned over to me and said, "You ARE good.  Let me turn down my guitar so people can actually hear you."

     Here's a picture Mike took while we played:

 photo statenisland_zpsldabwrig.jpg  
    Music is life-changing--it's math that we can hear.  He played a third, so I played a fifth.  Then I knew he'd drop back again, so I countered with a root note.  After a few minutes, my mind stopped making predictions and the music poured straight from my soul.  Toward the end of the third song, I felt so connected with the melodies, it sounded as if this man and I had played together for years.  That's the thing about music, it brings out your soul--all barriers removed--and that's when we can really connect with people, even strangers.  I've always wondered if our true selves come out during music--the best version of ourselves.
    "Oh shoot," I said at the end of the last song.  "Our ferry is almost here.  I've gotta go."
    "But what's your name?  When will you be back?  Who are you?  We need to jam again--we could get a contract!"
     As I continued frantically packing up my fiddle, I felt like Cinderella, leaving the ball.  "I don't live around here."
     "I play at Staten Island every Sunday.  You have to come back.....  Where are you from, anyway?"
    "Idaho?  Huh."  He smiled so big.  Then as I slid my bow into my case, Mike got the guy's number.  
    Before going, I gave the man a huge hug.  "This moment--what you did for me....  Letting me jam with you in front of all these people--I'll never forget it.  You made my entire year.  
    He beamed.  "Keep in touch!"
    As Mike and I boarded the ferry, I asked him if that whole thing amazed him as much as it amazed me.
    "Typical day."  He shrugged.  "Come to a city you've never been in.  Meet some guy.  Get propositioned to play music with him on Staten Island every Sunday.  No, Elisa, I'm done being surprised. Life with you has always been an adventure."
    "You're such a good man to stick by me through all this craziness.  Some people I've been didn't like stuff like this.  Not everyone can be as supportive as you are.  I love you so much, Mike."
    He winked at me and as we sat down on the ferry, I snuggled next to him.
    The South Africans, who we had met on the ferry ride there (that post HERE), well, they found us and sat down.
    "Have you met that guitarist, before today?" the son asked.
    "Nope," I said.  "I can't believe he asked me to jam, right there.  People are so awesome."
     The South African father turned to his son and said quietly,  "See, this is why I brought you to America.  Americans are different people--sometimes they do crazy things.  Fascinating!"
    The son nodded and grinned at me.  "Both of you should come visit us in South Africa.  You would love it there!"
    After we got off the ferry and the South Africans had gone their own way, Mike chuckled so hard.  "Oh, Elisa, I hope they don't think all Americans are like you."
    "What does that mean?!"
    "You're of a kind."
THAT was truly one of the best days of my life!🤗  I'm so grateful that man took a chance and asked me to jam with him.

—If we approach life with arms wide open, 
we’ll be amazed with what follows!

Friday, January 5, 2018

Ferry to the Statue of Liberty -- 10 Things I Learned in New York

    We waited for about half an hour, then boarded the free ferry to Staten Island, and of course I still had my violin with me.  Here's the thing about being a musician.... 

    You know you're a musician when:

    1. You bring your instrument on vacation with you.
    2. Your idea of "fun" is listening to the same song 50 times just so you can catch all of it. (I'm sure my family LOVES it when I do this...those lucky folks.)
    3. You hear other people jam--and can hardly stand not being able to rock-out with them.
    4. You meet strangers--and can almost guess what they play (just by their mannerisms).
    5. You end up playing the table drums far more than you'd like to admit.
    6. You've owned a QUEEN album--or tried to steal one from your brother. 
    7. You can make immediate friends with people, just after hearing they're musicians too.
    8. You've made up random rhythms with your family's best silverware.
    9. You think Johnny Cash is sexy (okay...maybe that's just me).
    And 10. Your crazy schemes of being a full-time musician make NO SENSE to your non-musical friends and family.

    Anyway, enough of THAT.  So, as we rode the ferry and saw the Statue of Liberty (which is actually much smaller than I anticipated), I wanted to break out my violin and play either THE STAR SPANGLED BANNER, or AMERICA.  But, realizing no one on the ferry could voluntarily escape my music--I decided that wouldn't be cool.
    The ferry puttered on, and Mike and I met people from Israel, Australia, Germany, and then South Africa.  
    "New York?"  I asked one of the South Africans.
    "Yeah," Mike said, "what brings you here?"
    The man smiled at the ocean.  The wind tussled his hair as he turned to us.  "This is my son," he said.  "He's eighteen, and getting ready for college in South Africa.  I told him that he needed to see New York now that he's a man."
    We talked to both of them for quite a while, and I found myself so struck by the beauty of the conversation.  For those two, the only thing that mattered then was taking in the world, experiencing New York, and appreciating their time together.
    "You're going to play your violin?" the man asked, after I told him about my instrument.
    "Not on the ferry--but maybe on Staten Island."  I smiled mischievously.
     A man's voice blared through the ferry's speaker system, "Go to your nearest exit.  We've arrived at Staten Island."
   "It was nice to meet both of you," Mike said as we walked toward the exit.  I realized though, both of us looked back at the father and his son.  They pointed at various sites from the ferry.  Both of them laughed, and I could almost catch the hues of happiness emanating from both of them.
    As Mike and I stepped onto Staten Island, I recalled a story from a while back.  A man had lost contact with his son.  They had gotten in a fight and both were too proud to give in.  Anyway, the son died....  The father had told me how devastating it was, because looking back all his son had ever wanted was to be accepted, appreciated, and loved.  But the father had realized all of this too late--he hadn't been really present for his son's childhood, adult years, or really his life.  At that time, the man felt compelled to tell me the importance of always showing people how much we care.
   As I thought about his words, my thoughts went back to the South African father.  He's the epitome of a good person--kind, genuine, selfless--bringing his son across the world, just to show him something special.  That love, well, it was breathtaking and I won't forget it.
    After a few minutes, Mike bought both of us a coffee and we were about to sit down when I heard music drifting from somewhere close by.  That's when my favorite moment in New York happened--right there on Staten Island--and I'm proud to say the South African father and son were part of it!
    To be continued tomorrow.... 

P.S. So many of us just want to feel accepted and loved, by ourselves and others. 

Being empowered by acceptance and love--that can yield true peace.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Aspiring Rapper -- 10 Things I Learned in New York

An Aspiring Rapper -- Part 5
Mike and I walked into Time Square and I stared, astounded by all the people working for tips.  People strutted around dressed as famous cartoon characters and...the statue of liberty.  A woman sang and strummed her guitar.  A man did handstands, right there on the cold ground.  But as I studied all of those people, smiling and laughing, I caught a sad look from a man in his twenties.  He held a stack of CDs.  As various people passed, he offered them CDs, but no one paid attention to him.  With each person, the man became more and more dejected.
    I grabbed Mike's hand and pulled him in the direction of the guy.  I didn't know who the Hell he was, but we were about to find out.
    "I want a CD," I said.
    "Wait--you do?" the guy asked.
    "Of course!"  
    "Well, okay then.  Okay!"  He brightened.
    Mike smiled at the guy kindly and shook his head at me.
    "So, what's your story?" I asked.  "What's this CD?"
    "I'm a rapper.  I want to go somewhere and I figure this is the way to do it."
    "Hang on!"  I suddenly set my violin case on the ground and opened it up.  I gave him the cash I had earned earlier from playing in Central Park (that story HERE). 
    "Hold up," he said.  "You're giving me the tips YOU made."
    "And why not!  People wanted to give them to me--now I want to give 'em to you.  A dream for a dream."
    He smiled so big and laughed.  
    "But you have to sign the CD!  To Elisa and Mike."
    He pulled out a magic marker--from his pocket--because ninjas carry markers!
    After Mike and I were a way up the street, I looked at the CD and burst out laughing.  "Oh my Gosh, Mike!  Look who he signed the CD to."
     "Does that say Eloise?"  Mike laughed pretty hard too!  "To Eloise and Big Mike."
    "I love it!" I said.

    I thought that guy was pretty awesome. Who carries a marker around, just waiting to sign stuff--that guy.  I wish him all of the success in the world; I really do.  He's one of the good ones.

    Thought for the day:  If we can't support each other, we ain't got nothin'!

Here's a picture of me playing my violin shortly after Mike and I met the rapper:
 photo A367DDFA-2CE5-4A2A-A43A-271C1E7BC312_zpsjfsi2x2h.jpeg 

Have an amazing day!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Symphony Violinist -- 10 Things I Learned in New York

 Part 4 -- 10 Things I Learned in New York

My bucket list contains some pretty strange things, but each of them has the capability of making a great memory for myself--and hopefully people around me.
    So, one of the items is: play my violin on the streets of New York.
    For Christmas, Mike bought us tickets to New York.  The first place we visited with my violin was Central Park.
    The weather bit at my fingers, freezing cold.  But after I began playing my violin, nothing else existed except the wind and the melodies.  The music wrapped around me, a symphony let loose from my fingers.  It not only warmed my soul, but the air around me as well.  
    When I really get into music, it leads me--I don't lead it.  And I can't help getting lost in the eye of the hurricane.  When that happens, I remember the first time I played by ear--after years of taking lessons.  Like a bride with the veil removed...a person seeing color for the first time...a child who can't just walk--but can finally run....
    I smiled then, dancing right there to my own music.  After a time, I opened my eyes and realized people watched me as they passed by in horse-drawn carriages.  Some hotdog vendors nodded to me as I continued jamming on.  And Mike--that kind, selfless man--waved to me happily knowing he'd made one of my biggest dreams come true.  
    It wasn't until the end of my second song that an elderly woman came up and put some money in my case.
    "Oh, thank you."  I smiled so brightly at her.  
    "It's beautiful," she said.  "Absolutely beautiful."
    "You play something too, don't you?"  I caught a sparkle in her eye--one that matched my own.
    "Why yes, I do. I play the violin."
    "And I bet you're amazing!"
    "Well, for years I played with the New York Symphony."
    I gasped.  "And YOU gave me a tip?!"
    She winked at me, then before turning and sauntering away, she said, "You're good, kid.  Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.  Shoot for the stars."
    I beamed so big, feeling like I'd met an angel--right there in Central Park.

    The actions of strangers can completely make or break a day.  
    Encouragement--sometimes it's the fuel we need to accept AND give freely to others as well.  :)

Monday, January 1, 2018

10 Things I Learned in New York -- The Italian Restaurant

The Italian Restaurant -- Part 3

He brought us water in a wine bottle, and a plate loaded with the most delicious bread I've ever tasted.  I smiled widely at him, simply jazzed to still be in New York.
    "You aren't...from here," he said to me, and hesitantly refilled our waters.
    "Is it that obvious?" I asked.
    "Yes, it is."
    "Fine, so what should I do to fit in?" I asked.
    "Well, for one," the waiter said, glancing from me to Mike, "you shouldn't smile--at everyone.  And you shouldn't make eye contact--with many people."
    "Don't people smile in New York?"
    "Yeah, but not like you do, honey.  They'd have to smear vaseline on their teeth, just to remember to smile that big."  He stared at me and suddenly laughed.  "God, doesn't your face get tired?"
    "She smiles a lot.  Practice makes perfect," Mike said and winked at me.
    As the waiter walked away I thought about something I've been dealing with lately.  A couple of years ago, my parents, brother, sister, and all of our spouses sat at dinner.  My dad always thinks of the best topics, and that night he said we should go around the table and say which animals we represent.  Well, someone was a mountain lion, a powerful moose, and a wild mustang.  When everyone got to my sister they said how she's a leader, someone who everyone looks up to--SHE is a lioness.  I got so excited at this point--I could hardly wait to see what they thought I was.  And soon it was my turn.  I nearly shook with excitement when my brother said, "Elisa, you're a cute little otter."
    "What?!  An otter?"
    "Yeah!" everyone agreed.
    "I can see it," even Mike said.
    "Otters are awesome!  They're so happy and fun.  They make everyone around them happy," my brother said.
    And as Mike and I sat in the Italian restaurant in New York, I kept thinking about the waiter's words.  I didn't fit into New York because I'm such an otter.
    When the waiter came back, Mike asked him about his past and his city dreams.  He'd lived in California, but went out to New York to pursue a singing career.
    "I suddenly felt so compelled to tell him how he was there for a reason.  That if he was doubting himself, he didn't need to.  It would all work out."
    He looked down at me as he cleared our plates--and he actually wore one of those vaseline smiles.  "I needed to hear that more than you know."
    As he began walking away, he turned back.  "I used to smile like you do--really.  I guess I just stopped because I've gone through life exhausting so much energy getting from point A to point B.  I hire a cab just to get to work every day because the Subway is such a mess of construction right now.  Anyway, what you said to me--don't change.  Don't ever make it so you need vaseline just to smile."
    Mike and I both gave him odds looks.
    "You know what I mean."  He laughed.
    When Mike and I got back to the room I looked up what otters mean.  It said otters help give people what they need to discover their true selves--and that's what makes people happy.
    I might not be an amazing lioness, or a bear, or someone epic who fits in at The City--but being myself comes so naturally.  I guess if that means I'm an otter--I'll try to be the best damn otter you've ever seen!


Which animal are you most like?