When I moved to Eastern Europe, I can remember being both excited & nervous to try out my Macedonian language skills. My boyfriend and I were gathered around the dinner table for a meal with his siblings and his non-English speaking parents when I decided I would try to address the family in their native tongue. With a few months of language classes under my belt and a couple shots of Ouzo on-board, I thought I was ready to make some genuine connections through my newfound vocabulary. In an attempt to compliment his mother on her cooking, I wound up accidentally telling her that she had good tasting poop. I could see by the bewildered expressions on everyone's face, that I had said something terribly wrong. They were forgiving of my mistake, but I was humiliated and It took a long time for me to muster up the courage to try to speak Macedonian again.
Music is the universal language, but there's a lot more to it than just playing the good notes when you're trying to have a successful band. When I went to Prague with my psychedelic goth rock band in the early 2000s, with hopes of becoming the next Velvet Underground, our drummer quit right before we were set to leave. A major setback to be sure, but we agreed to find a drummer when we arrived. We hit a handful of open mics and jammed with a few Czech dudes, but nothing really panned out because of the language barriers we were met with. Miming will only get you so far... When I moved to Macedonia and discovered that even the alphabet I was accustomed to was worthless, I was totally overwhelmed. I enrolled in Cyrillic language classes, but could only communicate with my Macedonian colleagues at the level of a toddler at best (as illustrated in the aforementioned anecdote,) and for the 2 years I was there, I quit trying to play in a band altogether. I did work in the music department of an international school, but there was a void in my life, being that I wasn't performing at all myself. It takes a lot of courage to be vulnerable about your own limitations. If you're willing to push yourself, limitations can lead to glorious opportunity, but fearing those limitations can cause stagnation or worse. I know this because I've been on both sides of that coin.
I'm no stranger to landing in a foreign country and doing my best to adjust. Embarking on a new adventure is exciting, sure, but it's bittersweet leaving behind everything you're familiar & comfortable with, even if the catalyst is a quest of the heart. I can definitely relate to Lenny Renegade's decision to say goodbye to his home of Mexico City to be with the love of his life. That's the best kind of gamble. In my case, the situations that brought me to distant lands never turned into the fairy tales I'd constructed in my mind, but they were times of delightful uncertainty- and the mishaps & triumphs sculpted me into the person I am. I don't regret any of the chances I took, or the one-way flights I booked, no matter how many times I looked like an ass to everyone who risked being in my company. I'm guessing Lenny doesn't either, even though being here has its challenges. I'm so thankful that he took a chance, and that the fates brought him to MN of all places. Not only is he a sick bassist and great teammate, but he and his lovely wife, Mary Mayhem have become a couple of my closest friends.
Lenny has an infectiously playful demeanor, and some of our fondest phrases are "Lennyisms," which are basically better ways of saying things, that he invents because the English language is weird and doesn't make a lot of sense a lot of the time. So, despite some apprehension on his part about joining a band of English speakers, we're all embracing every bit of it. From the extra patience it takes us to work through problems effectively, to the hilarity of the shit that Lenny says, we're better because of our beloved Mexican. But it takes work, as he will tell you. Recently we were part of a documentary series by a local film company, so check out Lenny's episode, where he shares his own perspective on the topic: Communication Breakdown As always, thanks for reading, Hotties. You're why this shit is 43 entries strong almost a year later.