This gallery contains 4 photos.
This gallery contains 4 photos.
Since I haven’t driven for such a long time (since graduate school!), and since I now have a beautiful Fiat, I wanted to honor the experience with something special.
So I began daydreaming about names.
My VW bug was named Hansel, but just in my head. No fancy plates.
This time around, a fond memory surfaced. Several years ago, I lived in an apartment on Cabrini Blvd. in New York (near the Cloisters) with a single mother and her baby boy, Joseph. We decided before I moved in that we would trade piano noise for baby noise. I got a whole lot of nothing done during my 11 months there, because I played with him so much. He was extremely cute, intelligent, and curious. I witnessed him learning to walk!
He used to scratch things and listen to the sound. The cushions, arms, and back of the couch; the end table, coffee table, lampshade and its base; and, most interesting to me, a tiny steel manufacturer’s tag on the corner of a filing cabinet! The tag had raised dots and letters, so the surface was varied.
Joseph talked all the time, using his voice to experiment with sound. When I would look him in the eye and repeat a string of sounds he had just made up, he would have an astonished look on his face, as if to say, “Oh! Someone finally gets it!”
One day, he woke up ast 5:00 a.m. saying only one word, “Addy, addy, addy,” over and over. He repeated it until he went to daycare at 8:30. When he came home at 5:30, he was still saying it. And that was the word of the day until he went to sleep around 10.
I rather liked it!
CT vanity plates can have up to seven characters, including one period. “ADDY” seemed too plain. “MY ADDY,” with 2 “Y’s,” looked too symmetrical. So I went with “MI,” since I have an Italian car.
The CT DMV website has a page where you can try out your choice to see if it’s available. So I tried it out, adding a variety of backgrounds at the same time. The plain background didn’t work for me. I like lighthouses, so there you go.
In honor of Joseph and the Italians, here it is.
Now the old plates have to be mailed back to the CT DMV. And the MA title? I’m still waiting for the MA RMV (that’s the Registry, not the Department) to cash my check and send me the duplicate. The deadline for sending it to the CT DMV was October 15th. Fortunately, they use the date as a motivator. There is no late fee.
When I played volleyball in high school, these types of injuries happened from time to time. They felt like no big deal then. I wasn’t enjoying piano lessons and had not yet made a career choice.
Now, however, this sort of injury is terribly frightening. It suddenly brings a great deal of vulnerability into focus. After all, I moved to a new State for employment purposes just 3 months ago. And that employment depends on my being able to play.
While choosing activities from day to day, I have made an effort to seek balance. I don’t want to do music all the time, every minute. I have other interests.
But this injury has made it all too clear what is most important in my life.
Today I was able to practice for the first time in 5 days. The swelling is receding, and obvious bruising never happened. I can move my fingers without pain. The knuckle area at the palm feels crowded.
So, I know tomorrow will be better.
My teacher slammed his hand in a door once, just 2 hours before a concert. He told me that there are only so many fingerings you can redo in an hour!
And my stepmother, who recently fell and is now home following surgery for a subdural hematoma, told me to be more careful. You know what falls can do.
Just the fact that I can write about this is an indication of emotional progress. I was devastasted last week, and frightened.
I had taken the bus from Northampton in order to see a performance of “Street Scene” by Kurt Weill, the student opera. It was a Sunday afternoon in January, shortly before the first day of classes and the start of my new job.
The bus schedule had me at the school very early. However, the event was ticketed, so I needed the time to navigate the system. Although I had an ID, my name was not yet in the ticketing system.
After obtaining a ticket, I remained in the foyer, a large room with upholstered benches lining the walls.
Audience members began arriving as curtain time approached. As the foyer was becoming rather crowded, two elderly women entered together. It seemed to me that they could use a place to sit, so I offered to stand, giving them two seats together. They gratefully accepted, then continued the conversation, inviting me to sit with them. I was happy to make their acquaintance, especially as they were among the first ten people I had met in Hartford.
It soon became clear that they were both opera fans who often attend Hartt performances. Their names were Ingeborg and Shirley.
Inga told me that she changed her name to Inge at first, but got tired of being called “Inkie” all the time. So now it’s Inga. Her companion’s name was Shirley.
Ever since January, I have kept an eye out for them. And on Monday evening, it paid off. Inga attended a vocal concert. The program was entitled “Occident Meets Orient,” and was wonderfully sung by Carole FitzPatrick, Robert Barefield, and their terrific pianist, Russell Ryan.
I approached her at the reception. She looked frail. Shirley was not with her. I didn’t ask about Shirley, but may at a future encounter.
Inga told me she’s going to the Connecticut Concert Opera production of “Gianni Schicchi” by Puccini and Pasatieri’s “Signor Deluso,” and wanted to know whether I’m going, too. We’ll both be attending the Sunday matinee on November 2nd.
I’m looking forward to seeing her!
This being my first Sunday at a new church job, I wondered what I had gotten myself into. In previous choirs, though, the tenors each had their own take on how to sing. One made up his own part, and one had a fondness for sliding whenever possible and a wobble in his voice.
My plan was to be friendly and engage in conversation. I wanted to find out what was in there.
After two or three Sundays, I realized that Kirk wanted his opinions to be heard, but often, further discussion was not necessary. So I listened and got on with the rehearsal.
The brief conversations had been going well. Then, one Sunday after church, Kirk approached me to give me a heads up about operating the lights behind the organ. They were tricky. And when I am there by myself, knowing how to work the lights is important. I was surprised by the overture.
About two weeks later, he offered me a ride to the bus stop! He had no plans to travel in that direction, since his house was on the opposite side of Northampton. So I was surprised once more.
But that was not all. We crossed the parking area to his car and got into a Chevy Volt! Somehow, that didn’t fit the personality profile I had constructed in my mind for him.
The anthem one Sunday was “Children of the Heavenly Father.” I asked the choir to enter one voice part at a time, S A T B, every 2 measures. The first two entrances went well, and then Kirk came in. If this had been a solo entrance in a large hall, it would have been perfect! However, the tenor part joined the other two in a unison to be sung piano. It was the complete opposite of a solo entrance.
When I asked Kirk to enter softly, he didn’t think he could. My hunch was that no one had ever shown him how. So I suggested that he use less air, and demonstrated doing that.
He did it! He was happy, and I think everyone else was, too.
After his health began to decline, he sang with the choir one more time. He opted to remain seated while everyone else stood. After the choir members in front moved out of the way, he could see me. I was glad he could be there, and the anthem went well. I think he enjoyed it.
One Sunday when he wasn’t feeling well, he asked me what we would be singing the following week. I gave him a copy of the anthem, thinking that maybe he wanted to take it home. Then I walked away to take care of something else. When I returned, Kirk was seated on a bench, looking at the music! I was touched by his commitment, looking at the music while not feeling well. He told me that it didn’t look too hard.
My take on Kirk’s voice is that he could have been an opera singer, had his family’s circumstances been different when he was younger. His voice was even throughout his range, and there was no wobble whatsoever. And I never heard him slide.
Pumpkin pie (Photo: Wikipedia)
Not that it was a Norman Rockwell scene. Can anyone honestly claim that?
While growing up, we would “borrow” whatever we didn’t have from the church. After all, we lived right next door.
Dad was home unless he had emergency calls. That was unusual.
Grandpa, serving bowl in hand: “Anybody want more green beans? … Then, before anyone could take a breath, “Didn’t think so.” Inverts bowl, dumps contents on plate. Smiles around the table.
Time for dessert. “Grandpa, do you want some pie?” “I dasn’t, but I will.”
When I would come home from college for Thanksgiving, my mother, who was 5’2″ tall, would always ask me to get the “good china” off the top shelf of the kitchen cabinet. She had a step stool, but I guess it was easier to wait until I walked in the door.
One year I my then housemate Margaret’s invitation to have Thanksgiving at her parents’ house in Amherst. It had snowed 2 feet the night before! The normally 10 minute drive across town took 45 minutes, even in a VW bug, because the roads hadn’t been plowed yet.
That was the time Margaret and I slogged through some Beethoven Cello Sonatas. I was shocked to discover an Alberti bass written for the right hand. My thought at the time was, “You spend 1/2 your life perfecting Alberti bass, and then he puts it in the right hand!” (Completely unfair, don’t you think?)
After that, we went tobogganing, with limited success, on a low slope. And then we roasted chestnuts in the fireplace! (It was real, not only a song.)
And I played ping-pong with Margaret’s 10-year-old brother, Bruce. He was a riot.
In the city, it’s possible to go out by yourself with no problem. There are places that are open, and are happy to seat people who are not with others.
I remember one such experience in particular. The restaurant was called Teachers Too, on Broadway in the 80’s. Although I had a reservation, as did many others, there was a line.
Directly ahead of me was a family which included several generations. The oldest member was complaining about everything. I have to say that provided perspective about being with family or not.
I am thankful:
Now everything has changed. My plans?
Dickey, whose earlier career was apparently less than stellar, recently mastered the knuckleball. Now he is enjoying a wonderful comeback at age 37. This part of a definition of “kairos” seems to be a perfect fit:
One has the choice of danger or opportunity, a chance to build something new out of the old.
His story appeared in a New York Times article on September 7. Since I don’t know that much about baseball, the word “knuckleballer” caught my attention. The article was a good read, especially coming across Dickey’s use of “kairos.”
My piano trio, formed in New York, was called “Kairos.” The name was suggested by someone who is familiar with Greek. It turned out to be an excellent choice.
Even aside from the trio, “kairos” is an excellent term to describe my career path.
The following part of the definition of “kairos” resonates strongly with me:
According to ancient Greeks, Kairos was the god of the “fleeting moment,” “a favorable opportunity opposing the fate of man.” The moment must be grasped…; otherwise the moment is gone and can not be re-captured….
This means that, when one is presented with an opportunity, immediate action is required. If action is not taken, the opportunity disappears forever.
Growing up, I saw many restrictions and very few opportunities. I knew there had to be more, somehow. Along the way, unexpected opportunities did appear. When I took action and followed through, wonderful things happened for which I am very grateful.
So even though I was 28 years old when I finally found a good teacher, I was ready when things came together. Many positive things have occurred since, and I have no regrets that my career has taken this route.
Note ~ NewWorldEncyclopidia.org:
a monochrome fresco by Mantegna at Palazzo Ducale in Mantua (about 1510 C.E.) shows a female Kairos
This is the perfect opportunity to jump-start your practice, just in time for Fall!
Happy Birthday begins at 1:32.
This video is from a Young People’s Concert conducted by Leonard Bernstein. “Happy Birthday” was played in honor of Igor Stravinsky’s birthday.
Today is my birthday, so I wanted to hear this.