Unitarian Hymnal Sing-along

In which Kathryn attempts to sing a different song everyday from the Unitarian Universalist hymnal, 'Singing the Living Tradition'. Earlier posts are based on songs from the Reader's Digest songbooks she found at yard sales as a child, including: 'Reader's Digest Treasury of Best Loved Songs', 'Reader's Digest Family Songbook', and 'Reader's Digest Family Songbook of Faith and Joy'. Bonus Folk song material from: 'Folk Song USA', by John and Alan Lomax.

31 December 2005

"That's An Irish Lullaby"

We all know this song as the 'Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-rah' song, and I couldn't have told you what the actual title was before today. I might not remember it tomorrow either. But I did try to pay more attention today while singing it, enjoy the sound in my mouth.

I'm having a parental moment. Or lots of them. It's all this excess quality time with my daughter while she's on her Christmas break.

I look at her and I'm in awe. She's so beautiful, so articulate, so much her own person with thoughts and visions of the world that I will never comprehend. I listen, and am amazed and impressed. Thankfully, she seems to do very well in school, and she's polite with friends and extended family member--since she is repeatedly and reliably incredibly rude to my husband and I of late. Our familial themes recently have been all about being polite, using an appropriate tone of voice for requests, and in general not over-reacting to everything in the world. I pride myself on being able to fix or solve almost anything, and it's disturbing to think that my daughter still has not caught on to my incredible powers in these arenas, and just calmed the heck down.

Of course, the most frustrating thing is remembering that I was once as she is now. She's old enough now that I really can remember, and it's frightening, thinking how much more, how very very much more learning she has to accomplish. How much trauma, real and imagined: and it just doesn't matter which it is, really, to her. It sure didn't matter to me, since it was all real, on some deep level, as I figured out my place in the world.

I'm still figuring it out. Tonight I will be going over my list of New Year's resolutions. Tacky, perhaps, but very helpful to do. I missed doing this last year, and I don't want to miss out again this year. For starters, I can resolve to be more patient with my daughter, to practice what I preach, to be with her in mindfulness. She is by far my biggest hope for the future, and I am determined not to do too badly by her.

30 December 2005

"When Irish Eyes Are Smiling"

This must be the Irish section. And this song does have something of the sound of the last two. I feel as if I haven't been really commiting to my singing this past week or so. I caught a glimpse of that dedication to the sensation today with this one, and it was nice.

Someone was asking me about religion the other day, and I was trying to figure out how to talk about what I believed. I do believe in not alienating my new friends unnecessarily with weird terms or exotic-sounding descriptions. Mostly what I do is find sacredness in the ordinary pieces of my life. But I also said something, in this process of trying to feel out how to word my own truth, that felt especially genuine, very real and my own: I enter the sacred realm of understanding through the Gateway of the Body. My path is through the door of physicality, of sensuality. Others may be drawn to intellectual epiphanies, or deep meditative revelations of nirvana--and it is not that I could not imagine these for myself, I have even tasted something of them--but the place I am most likely to start is with my breath and physical perception.

There is something that happens when I dance, it's not exactly a short cut, so much as a sure path, however long it takes. If I dance with the right breath and intention and I'm *here* and *here* and *here*, sometimes I get to *Here*, to the center. For a breath, for a moment or two, the dance is clear and easy and joyous in its simplicity. I am somewhere more real than where I was a moment ago, and somewhere that touches everywhere without having to be anywhere but right here.

Something of this can also happen when I work. I have a few clients who are really able to pay attention, to breathe well, and when I work on them I can forget, a little, whose body is getting this work. I and they are right *here*, this muscle over bone, this sensation, this release, right *Here*, Yes.

When I am entirely in the center there's this calm satisfaction and deep happiness that feels a little like remembering and slipping back into a particularly good dream, and a little like being right in the center of a stream of water, moving along at just the right speed without effort. Even though there is an effort, of sorts. But it's like running, after that first warm-up mile, when I reach a spot where I suspect I could run almost forever.

Today, after a particularly exhausting day, it's nice to remember that there are times where the tiredness ends, when I feel plugged into the Source, rather than the 'someone pulled the plug and there I go down the drain' sensation. And I'll even get to run tomorrow, too. Good things.

29 December 2005

"My Wild Irish Rose"

More roses. Except that this one sounds a lot like a de-flowering at the end, in a way that's a little blunt. I don't remember these words, for sure. But this is a pretty song.

Even though tonight isn't as late a night as I've had recently, I'm still incredibly beat. Today didn't start off particularly well, and even though it ended considerably better, getting through off course at the beginning has made it impossible to ever feel entirely together. I'm thinking more and more that my inability to really relax is a problem. Relaxation is a skill that I'm just not using and learning enough. But there's always so much to do, dishes and laundry and work and daughter. . . and there always will be so much to do, I suppose.

I'm just so tired it's hard to think. Bed now, please.

28 December 2005

"I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen"

This is a song with a very sweet sentiment, it does call to mind the time it was written, when most people in this country probably came from somewhere else originally. My great-grandparents all came to this country as young people, though I don't know that anyone wanted to go back to Eastern Europe. They also didn't want to talk about it, much less sing.

I'm fascinated by my family tree, I've spent a lot of time researching as much as I can. When my one uncle died about seven years ago I really lost steam. He had been my cheering squad, and I miss his encouragement.

Recently I've been thinking that I should pick it up again, and there's been some interest in me working with my husband's family, as well. I love thinking about where we came from, what comes down through the blood, and also how radically different we are from anyone that has gone before. I love the old stories, and pictures, all the dates and places recorded somewhere. When I had been researching before I 'cold called' several distant relatives with helpfully distinctive last names. While none of them knew me as an individual, most were very generous when I explained where I fit in with the larger family. One woman sticks in my memory because she was not friendly, and had no idea why I would bother to care at all about dead people. Still, I was proud of the fact that I kept her on the phone long enough to get more information from her than she probably realized that she was giving. I didn't have intention of pestering her ever again, but I thought that surely someone cares about all this, someone else is interested in the dead people, like me, and maybe I could find *them*. But then my uncle died, and I never took the time to follow up on any of it.

Many of my older relatives have died in the intervening years, and much has been lost. That may sound overly dramatic, but to me it is indeed tragic. The stories are lost, the unique stories that tell me where the ground is, the roots of a significant part of who I am.

27 December 2005

"The Band Played On"

I know this song, which isn't particulary surprising, but surely I have never really known all these words before today: '. . .But his brain was so loaded it nearly exploded, the poor girl would shake with alarm. . .' What does that mean? Is he drunk? A stalker of some sort? Why is she still dancing with him? Could someone just cut in, please?

I'm thinking about truth and will today, which is a subject that does require an in-depth essay, which will not happen, since it's very late, and I'm tired. But still: Truth. I'm a big believer in telling the truth as I understand it, to the best of my ability, and with some deliberation and intent. And there's a spiritual, magickal* element here: I believe that when I speak the truth, I increase the power of my will to create reality. If I speak it, with intent, reliably, I can influence the event, make it so. The universe listens. Of course, there are boundaries to be observed, I'm not personally looking to control the weather, or big world events, even if I would have no trouble believing in the ability to do so. (And it would have been quite spiffy to influence the last election. Fabulous, even.) But to influence my own personal world, yes, I do believe that the words that I speak, my truth, can influence the structure and map of my world. It is a magickal act. And so again, in this calendar New Year, as I review my resolutions (and I missed doing this last year, so I'm feeling the pressure to make this year extra good and powerful) I want to speak my truth. Not unnecessarily, not to impress or brag (well, mostly not), but when the need arises, I want to be able to influence things just a bit to get what I want. Who can argue with that?

[*'magick', in this context, and with this spelling: the ability to influence internal or external events or realities by the force of one's will. What one believes, and seeks, and expects, influences heavily what one finds.]

26 December 2005

"In My Merry Oldsmobile"

Here's a little waltz about a car. Not that people don't still write about their cars, Car Talk manages to find plenty of them to play on their show between segments. But it's still weird to sing a car song; and to think of how this particular song, from 1905, reflects how people of that time thought about their cars. I don't think one would waltz about a car in this day and age. Not even tango.

I am obsessed with my iPod, and can think of little else. It's like a soundtrack in the back of my day. Unfortunately, not yet an actual soundtrack, since I'm still loading things into iTunes, and I'll wait until bedtime to then synchronize everything into my iPod. Podcasts! Playlists! Every song that we own and that I have the slightest interest in at my fingertips! My oh my oh my! I can't wait to create a running mix, listen to Al Franken's radio show, get speakers for my office and mix up the utter monotony of my work music. After all these years of listening to the new age/classical mix of CDs that I own for massage, I am sick of them all. Now, perhaps, I can mix in some old tunes into some more pleasing mix with some new stuff. May take a little while, but it can be done. My one concern with the iPod is that it might skip while I'm running, my husband found this to be a persistent complaint online. But since the Nano was sold out, he went with the regular model, which has the advantage of a huge drive. Happiness, happiness, so much music. Maybe even a few photos.

I should write a song about my iPod. It's the new millenium obsession. I'm thinking in five, with a heavy beat, harmony, and somehow with a cello. Yeah.

25 December 2005

"In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree"

The melody of this song is very predictable, but the text is actually quite sweet. It makes me think of summer, the comfort of familiar things, the security of family. My parents have an apple grove on their property, planted long before they lived in that house. We've never eaten the apples, for what are probably weird reasons, but it's mostly just laziness, I always thought.

I spoke to my family today, on the phone, to almost everyone, and I missed the comfort of being there with them for this holiday. I haven't been home for Christmas in years, though everyone else is always there. It's certainly not that I didn't have a really nice day with my family here, either. It was close to perfect, even: relatively relaxed, good company, great gifts, tasty food, great time with each other. I did have trouble relaxing for very long at a go, the pressure of visiting in-laws kept me on my feet straightening up this and that, but that was all me, and I could've stopped the mad rush at any point. But there was also something very satisfying in getting those little things all accomplished.

So now is the time to really wind down, to find stillness. To rest up, in order that I may spend much quality time with my iPod later tomorrow, perhaps. Eat some of the multitudinous kinds of chocolate now in the house. The world is indeed wide, and good.

24 December 2005

"Will You Love Me in December as You Do in May?"

This song is just ok. It does very sweetly hit its highest note early on, and then never again, which is a little odd. Maybe it loses something in the abridged version here.

Christmas Eve, Santa presents all wrapped and arranged. Still bathrooms left to clean for the in-laws coming tomorrow. But I'm looking forward to all of tomorrow, gifts and guests and dinner and mayhem. And I'm hoping against hope that our daughter sleeps even slightly late, I feel exhausted, and way past the end of being able to force a little happiness.

Be safe, everyone. Take good care of yourselves this season, and this year. Get enough sleep. Yawn.

23 December 2005

"Hello! My Baby"

I know this song from Bugs Bunny cartoons, though I wouldn't have thought to try and sing it, it sounds so goofy in the cartoon. But it's a very satisfying song to sing, I like it. It's peppy, it moves along at a nice clip.

I'm thinking about revelations. In my job I meet new people all the time, it's great. I don't get talking extensively right away with everyone, a lot of people don't talk at all during their massage, but it does happen sometimes. It does often take a long time to develop friendships with my clients, but it does happen, happily. I was thinking lately that the process of having to talk about myself, again and again, with new people, is its own kind of growing. Everyone has different interests, we end up talking about all sorts of things, and these topics become new angles to consider, new doorways into me. What's my position on this, or that, and if she thinks this, what do I think? When I take my time, avoiding knee-jerk quick responses, I realize that I'm not always where I thought I was. I may have always answered *thus*, but now that I think about it, I realize that I'm actually *here*, in this place, with this breath, this idea, this thought. Sometimes, certainly, the realizations are not as pleasant, but I would much rather know these things, also, than not. More often, it's that the landscape has changed or that my map has acquired more accurate details. I have grown, and waiting has brought new truths to light. Luckily, they're not the ultra-conservative truths that my father predicted would come into power once I got out into the 'real world'. Mostly, they're realizations that life is vastly more complicated than I could have imagined. It's worth my attention.

So I had been thinking for a while that, you know, maybe I have enough friends, maybe we can close auditions here and just coast, spend some quality time with the ones I've got. Quality time does sound good, but I think I can't give up on the new friends, too. They continue to open up my world in rich ways, and in doing so, they allow me to introduce me to myself, to the adventurer that I am seeking to become.

22 December 2005

"There is a Tavern in the Town"

Everybody sing along! You know this one! And it's easy to imagine this sung in a British pub somewhere. Or maybe in Boston. I like learning these, more original, at least, lyrics to it, since I've heard so many other words set to this tune.

My favorite bars were always the slightly seedy ones, with sticky floors, in basements. Wooden benches, lots of beer--which wasn't helpful when I was drinking mixed drinks, but I was friends with the bartender, and she hooked me up with something that tasted good. The classier bars sometimes had better dance music, which was another big draw for me, though after that first wild year of heavy drinking, I never drank when I danced. It didn't make me, or my similarly-viewed friends, popular with the bar, but I always tried to tip heavily when the bartender kept my water glass full.

I have very fond memories of the sticky-floor days, and the dancing days. I was thinking today--as a part of the 'ideal fortieth birthday celebration idle thoughts'--that part of what I'd really like to do is dance: go out dancing, take up the dance meditation program again, do tango, even dance more in my living room. Still pondering. I don't think the sticky floor has to be involved, but as my friend Anita would say, 'I wouldn't kick it out of bed, either'.

21 December 2005

"Cuddle Up A Little Closer, Lovey Mine"

I'm hearing the internal barbershop quartet again, it's nice. Sweet, unexceptional, but nice.

I admit, I'm not feeling frantic with holiday preparations. I accept fully that many things will not get done, including things that it would be nice to have complete before this weekend, like cleaning the bathrooms before my in-laws arrive (not to mention my daughter's room, which is hopeless at this point). I am, though, feeling like life is a bit full this past week or so, and I am exhausted. Today seemed unbelievably long. So long, I need to speak in French: Je suis epuisée. Somehow, that always feels more accurate.

But I do feel full of holiday spirit. I've given a few gifts already that have felt just right, and been well received. And if it all stopped right here, that would be ok. I take such great pleasure in finding just the right thing to give the people that I care about. Being a person who spends lots of time taking care of others, I'm also absolutely looking forward to receiving gifts, as well. I am ready to be a little spoiled, and to say thank you very much indeed. I have coming a three day weekend of not working, which also feels like a great gift after so much busy preparation.

The downside is that I won't see most of my family until mid-January, and having put some of their gifts off for the moment, the preparation will continue for a while. There is much to finish, stuff to buy, decisions to be made. But for right now, life is good. Lights are lit, the darkness will roll back, and much merriment will be had.

Be gentle with yourselves, my friends. See the lights, feel the warmth and hope and peace of the season.

20 December 2005

"Love's Old Sweet Song"

And oddly enough, this is a sweet song, from 1884. It reminds me of campfire songs like 'Irene, Goodnight', 'The River of Texas', other cowboy-style tunes. That's why it reminds me of the Boy Scout camp, Philmont. In a good way--not that everything about that experience wasn't just all out great.

The story really starts when I was about thirteen or fourteen years old. I had been in Girl Scouts since I was an eight-year-old Brownie, and I loved it. My younger brothers became Cub Scouts and then Boy Scouts in turn, and by the time I was in high school it was obvious that they had the far better deal: regular camping trips, big scout gatherings to attend, a great camp to go to in the summer, and a charismatic Scout leader who made them work hard for their merit badges in a sedutively challenging way. I was so very jealous. So I did what any girl would do: I wrote the Boy Scout council and asked to be allowed to join. Ah, if I had known then what I know now! I still have their reply letter somewhere. Of course they said no, and suggested that I join their co-ed branch, the Explorers. This seemed like a bone, indeed. But some of the adults, parents of sons and daughters my age, thought that creating an Explorer post wasn't such a bad idea. Later I realized that the real reason was that some of them wanted to go to Philmont when our Scout troop went.

I can't blame them. Philmont is in Cimarron, New Mexico, and it's like a Boy Scout Mecca. We went the summer I turned sixteen. My council sent 125 scouts, and three of us were girls. Three! On a bus for three days out to New Mexico! The mind boggles. It was an amazing trip. Not all of the people on our bus (there were three buses altogether) were from our combined Troup-Post, but it took no time for all the boys on our bus to be incredibly protective of us. Nothing really bad happened, and we made friends that would last for years afterward. We did sightseeing along the way, ate at way too many McDonalds, and eventually we got to Philmont.

It was like being inside one of those nature calendars. We hiked 125 miles over ten days through the most incredible country, up and down mountains, carrying everything on our backs, breaking camp nine out of ten days. Just amazing, and too many stories to tell here at at once.

But we did sing. My friend, Veronica, and I sang the entire time, or so it felt. We sang the songs that we learned from the rangers, we made up words to familiar songs, and we made up our own songs entirely. All the songs I associate with Philmont will always be dear to me. My father, who was one of the adults that came with us, said that that was what he remembered most: our singing.

I came home weighing less than I would the rest of my adult life (thus far, at least), and eager to go back. (I may have to wait for my daughter to go, though I would go tomorrow if I could. Or maybe in the summer.) I had branded boots (sadly, lost in my travels), a Philmont belt and buckle, and the white bull patch that I could 'legally' sew onto my jacket with its tail crossing the shoulder seam, since I had climbed up Baldy Mountain, the highest peak in the place. I had a lot of fabulous memories, and I have those songs. And the fabulous thing about a song is that it is, again, like a scent: it can hold so much memory in it, where, when, how, light, color, flavor and more. Sweet, sweet, sweet song.

19 December 2005

"By the Light of the Silvery Moon"

Let's all sing! Let's all say, 'another oldie, but goodie'--argh! But really, it's not all that bad, it's even kind of cute. And I can just imagine the my internal barbershop quartet doing it. . .what? You don't *have* an internal barbershop quartet?

A bit past the full moon tonight, and very very chilly here in Pittsburgh. Tonight was our second annual night of neighborhood caroling (called only on account of rain, and the skies were clear). We were out for about an hour, then came back to our house for hot cider and cookies, though no one could stay very long, lots of kids with school tomorrow in the mix. Last year it was very cold also, and we went out then, too. This year we had a slightly bigger crowd to expose to the elements. I'm hoping at some point that people will return for more than one year, but except for my daughter and I (and she's six!), we're not doing so well in that regard. But it was, again, weirdly fun. A winter initiation, worthy of a merit badge, surely. I suspect that very few people heard us singing, yes, but still! We sang! Sometimes all the verses!

The very first year that we lived in our house we had carolers at the door and I thought, how great! The following years I realized that maybe that was a one-off, and so I decided to recreate the tradition myself. It's helpful that my daughter's school moved to my neighborhood, which gives me another community to draw on. I love the idea of kids coming along, and logging this as one of their holiday memories. It feels like a tradition, revived, renewed, or recreated.

18 December 2005

"In the Good Old Summertime"

Finally starting a new section today, and not a moment too soon. This one is called something like 'Gaslight favorites', theoretically containing even older songs, though this one, from 1902, isn't that old, comparably speaking. And it is one that I know, and that a lot of people probably know, which makes it fairly amazingly long-lived. 'She's your tootsy wootsy' always makes me laugh.

It is very far from summertime here, though it seems like I was just running in the heat and among the green trees, and this morning it was icy and cold, though still relatively sunny. In the summer I feel as though I'm running from one patch of shade to another, while in the winter I'm trying to get to the next sunny bit. I can really feel the warmth from our local star as I pass into its light, it's really nice. Not enough sun to melt all the ice, though, and it does make the going pretty slow. I had run this distance slowly last week, and it was even slower this week after the freezing rain that we had. I'm feeling a bit concerned about my next race, which is not only at the end of February (I hardly ran at all last February, it was so cold), but it's ten miles, a 15K, which I hadn't planned to ever do. I was seduced by the offer of 'free jacket!' if I ran this series of five races, but I thought initially that I would have a 5K or 10K choice for each. No such luck. I am not obligated to do the whole series, of course, but hey, that jacket! And I've done two races so far, I'm practically half way there. This morning, though, I was thinking, I'm going to run almost two hours in potential cold and ice? I'm going to train for this until then in potential cold and ice? It's a shame that I am so easily seduced by the offer of something free. This jacket better be damn warm.

I'm also hoping that Santa comes through with the iPod, so I can listen to a wider range of music on those long runs. Oh, Santa. . .!

17 December 2005

"Love Sends a Little Gift of Roses"

This song feels a bit ordinary to be in here. And it reminds me too much of 'Serenade' from a few days ago. But it's ok, it was fine to sing it today, and it felt like a good session of experimental singing, at least.

I love roses, which makes my tastes incredibly ordinary. It's the smell--therefore roses with no smell, are no good. The scent of roses is so rich, so exotic to me. Every year my daughter and I go to a specific perfumed-oil shop, and we each carefully pick out a scent to bring home. Last year I gave in to my desire and purchased 'Night of Roses', which was one of at least four different rose-based scents that the shop carried. Today, I showered later in the day, after I had already sung my song of the day, and I put some of the oil on. I can still smell it faintly at my wrist.

In the past couple of years, I also associate the scent of roses with a young client of mine who died. I had bought some rose-scented massage lotion on a whim, and she was the only one who chose it. I remember working on her, the scent of roses allowing me the sensation of catering to a queen in some ancient realm. I was honored to be at her service. After she died, her sister came in once and we used the last of it in her massage. I can't find it anymore.

I've never been able to grow roses anywhere that I've lived, from my childhood home all the way to here, where we just don't have a spot that gets enough sun. I have friends who have whole yards filled with roses, and I am jealous. The scent of roses can carry me away, and I don't believe that thrill would wear off soon.

16 December 2005

"Yours is My Heart Alone"

First: the title is very strangely worded. Maybe it's just old fashioned. . . no, wait. . . maybe it's not the original words! And hey, doesn't this sound familiar--who do I hear singing this in my head? Of course, Placido Domingo! I'd know that voice anywhere. This is from that three tenors CD, the first one that everyone went so gaga over, where Mehta conducts. Sure enough, there it is, track four, 'Dein ist mein ganzes Herz!', composed by Franz Lehar. I'll wait while you cue up the track. There we are, all on the same page. And there I was, too, singing along with Placido. It is a lovely tune, though the Reader's Digest version is, of course, abridged, without all the center bit. I sang it in English, and I've certainly sung worse text settings.

I got a lot of Christmas cards sent today, today was the last day to try to get a card reliably to Europe, which was a good incentive, since we have almost a dozen cards going to the UK. The next priority was people who had already sent us cards this year, and then people who sent us cards last year (yes, I keep track, sue me for my Martha-ness), then other family members, then people far away that I miss the most. I ran out of cards way too quickly, and I'm heading out tomorrow to get more.

I'm hoping that we'll get some cards with Christmas letters, I love those things. Some these days even have pictures. I miss my friends very much, and it's good to feel a little caught up with their lives, in some way. We didn't get out a letter ourselves this year, not quite that grown up yet, though we did contribute to the letter that my husband's father sends out. I'm sure he'll edit our part a bit, and if not, hi there all new blog readers who will find this much more than they bargained for!

I'm also your gal for trip pictures, and wedding pictures, and old family jokes. Sign me right up, I want to hear it all, see it all. Tell me your story.

15 December 2005


I have no clue why 'jealousy' is spelled this way in the title, and no where else, but I'm prepared to accept that as some crazy affectation. I was very excited to see that this piece was a tango, because I love to tango, and think the music is fabulous and sexy. And this piece is very fun to play on the piano, I've never done a tango rhythm in that context. But unfortunately, it went a little down hill from there. It's another piece that was originally instrumental, and words were added later. Again, problematic. It's difficult to sing, and it doesn't make much sense to sing it in lots of places. But I would certainly play this piece again. Or maybe I'd just stick on a CD and ask my husband to dance.

We've done tango together on and off, though more off of late, unfortunately. I love pretty much everything about social tango: the clothes, the shoes (there is nothing sexier than a nice ankle strapped tango shoe), being in my husband's arms for the whole time. (I don't mind switching partners, it's good practice, but he does.) And I love the discipline of following: he is in charge, and that's totally correct in this context, and 'all' I need to do is be totally present. Don't anticipate, do what I'm told to do, in time with the music. There's a marvelous Zen quality to it when it's working well.

My husband likes having something for us to do together, and social tango is a very macho thing, full of barely restrained passion, which suits him. I can't imagine him, reserved Brit that he still is, ever enjoying a good Polka, for example (though I do, my Polish roots make it a requirement in service of my family). It's also a good balance practice for him (and me), like martial arts are. But he can't fool me. I know he's in it for the look of those shoes.

14 December 2005


I like this one quite a bit, and I'm not sure what about this one is any different than the last bunch. It's sentimental, and lush, and short: perhaps it's just a nice melody that makes sense with the text. That's all it takes to make me happy, really.

I'm doing something wacky today, writing my post in the middle of the day, taking advantage of the fun rush created by a dose of decongestant combined with a huge Starbucks mocha. Feeling a bit speedy! So I thought I'd write the drug post today. If you're anyone who's going to be offended or shocked by this post, just move on now! Though it's pretty darn tame, all things considered.

I came to drugs very late in life, relatively speaking. Because I have never liked carbonated beverages, or tea, the strongest caffeine doses I had growing up were from chocolate. Which, of course, has its own drug qualities, and I am a junkie in the chocolate respect. But I didn't like alcohol much, and decided not to drink until I was legally allowed to, for the most part, and to avoid the anxiety of illegality. When I turned twenty-one I spent my requisite year or so of heavy drinking, and decided that I never again wanted to have a black out (I think I had two or three, all told, one recent enough to be embarassing, but it was good reminder), so I cut back to reasonable levels there. Shockingly, considering my family's view of me as 'the hippie', I didn't try pot until I was 23. Part of that was not wanting to smoke anything (part of *that* was not wanting to screw up my singing voice, other than the gross-yuck factor), and this was all solved by a dear friend making me some brownies one day. This experience was so much fun that I did eventually learn to smoke pot, and years later I still smoke the occassional clove cigarette in the same way: inhale deeply and hoo-oold it. . .

I was very lucky in that by the time I tried pot, and later, acid, that my friends who guided me in these encounters were quite experienced (I won't thank you by name, but you know who you are, and I am grateful), and able to give me some fabulous trips. Although I did have a small amount of the 'sit around and get stoned' experience, most of my forays were well planned drug experiences, with the proper attention paid to set and setting. Nice lights (lava lamps are so cool), good food (nachos yummy, yes), fabulous music (Erasure will always bring such fond memories), appropriate activities (creating interpretive art or poetry after watching bad movies, bike riding--don't try this at home, kids!--and the ever popular, sex).

The down side of coming to drugs so late in life is that most of my friends were losing interest around the same time, so my experiences remained relatively limited. But it's very good to have the memory of them, because drug use is far from gone in my life, it's just all legal these days. As a mother, and working, responsible adult, I have no time to be truly bad, alas. We'd have to get a sitter for the weekend, and figure out all over again where to purchase such things. . . I have other priorities that keep me too busy for such efforts at the moment. And meanwhile there's the lovely buzz from red wine, the happy life-is-again-good high from my mocha, the totally altered states I have experienced through movement and dance, or chanting, no substances necessary. To recognize all of these as the altered states that they indeed are is very useful. I have always believed, still believe, that drugs of any kind are only there to show me the way, that my own brain and body can acheive these states all on my own, given the proper kind of attention, creativity, patience, resourefulness, and technique.

Sometimes I do get concerned, then, that I cannot really justify my mocha consumption (maybe two or three a week, on a good week), my daily glass or two of wine (I have to say, it's a big glass, but isn't it supposed to be good for us?), and, as I said, the occassional clove cigarette. I have my brother to blame for this last one (I had no idea they were so tasty! Sweet!) though I still remember how shocked my younger sister was when she saw me puffing on it. But I justify this as a outcome of my many previous years of smoking-in-my-dreams, and I can say that I only do it occassionally. I think I'm at about a pack a year now. That's down from a pack and a half a year; since I've been running I have less desire to smoke at all, and that may trail off altogether at some point.

Life is too short not to allow the occassional vice, and if this is as bad as it gets, I'm doing ok.

13 December 2005

"One Alone"

I think this whole section is not working for me. I love a lot of the classical songs I learned in college, especially Faure, Hahn, and Ned Rorem, for starters. But this section is all about the operetta, and it's been a little overblown for me, not direct enough. I like the passion of this song, though, and it isn't so horrible.

Oh, to know then what I know now. I wish I had the understanding of my voice then that I do now. Of course then I always seemed to be physically sick with something, which made it difficult to progress with my practicing; and I was also endlessly distracted by anything but my classes. But what if I had found then the same freedom and joy in singing that I have now? I must have had some of it, to have pursued music as I did. I still would have craved the harmony. Little made me happier than to be in choir, with a strong bass voice singing in my right ear.

I am still happiest with someone singing on my right side, actually. I have more trouble hearing people on my left, though my hearing always checks out fine on both sides. It's handy that that's the side that my husband needs me to be on, as well, so that his hearing ear faces me. Hearing issues are bit prevalent these days in our family.

When my audition a while back turned out to not result in me having my big chance to be a huge rock star (don't laugh, Jackie), my husband suggested that I form my own band. At one point he and I were in a sort of band with a couple other friends, and we did play out a few times, though unfortunately we never managed to record anything that really captured us at our best. I did start thinking, again, though, about what my ideal band would be, should I be able to form such a thing out of mud, a golem in my studio. And mostly, it's the harmony again that makes me happy. All those years of being in choirs, and being a damn fine choir singer, it'd be super to be able to use those skills again, be in close harmony with two or three other parts, person to a line. . . it wouldn't matter so much what we were singing, even.

Tonight, alas, the next step to solve this puzzle is not going to occur to me. But my eyes are open, I know it's out there, or they, or you, are out there. You know who you are. Step up and let me hear you sing.

12 December 2005

"Lover Come Back To Me"

I like this one, which is very nice to say after such a spell of songs that made me gag. I was feeling a bit low today, physically, which made it difficult to give this my all, but it's a song worth delving into a bit more. And so poignant a theme, ah!

Finally, after so long, I am altogether on my 'new' computer. It's so lovely that I'm incredibly nervous: what will go wrong now, and when? I do need to somehow save up for something genuinely new, with a warranty, perhaps this coming year, if things continue to go well.

But for now, I feel, cautiously, excited about this. Cross your fingers. And forgive the short post for today, all this software arrangement is exhausting. Zzzzzzzz.

11 December 2005

"Stouthearted Men"

I am sure that this song has in many places been discovered by gay men, who have adopted it as one of their anthems. It's quite perfect for that, very manly, very brotherly love. And better than Victor Herbert.

When I was younger, a teenager, I wanted badly to be as strong and as physically capable as any of my male friends. I loved showing off my strength, and luckily, I had some. The boys could still beat me, but I could put up a good fight. (Later, this strength would put me in good stead with my chosen career.)

Probably this was all a result of, predictably, my childhood. When my two younger brothers got physically bigger than me, my father suddenly didn't need me outside the house anymore (usually, he could always conveniently forget this, too, when the need arose), and I was relegated to the kitchen and indoors with my mother. I raged at this, and felt for many many years that I could never gain my father's respect since I was female. All of my arguments were with him, most of them very very loud, and I had quite a foul mouth on me. Nobody got cussed at by me like my dad did. This lasted for about sixteen years, and it was exhausting. Eventually my father and I together built a very different, and amiable relationship, in which we don't talk about whole categories of things. I do know absolutely that I am loved (that was actually never a question), and maybe, just maybe, he respects me, too, but I'm not completely sure. It doesn't matter so much anymore, though.

I still do revel in my strength. I don't pit that strength against men these days, though saying that makes me realize that I miss that good fight, that physicality. There's something so wonderfully basic and direct about using my strength, the power of limb and muscle. Maybe that's another reason why I like running, which comes at that use of strength from another angle. It's certainly related to why I love dancing, moving my body from the inside outward into space, moving against restriction, trying out what power my body has here, and here, and here, and how to control every little nuance of it. That, to me, is one of the ways in which my masculine and feminine selves come completely together, the power and the nuance, the forward motion and the shaping. Maybe that's another part of the definition for the sensation of being at the center of the dance, the center of myself.

10 December 2005

"Indian Summer"

I am hoping and praying that this is the last Victor Herbert piece. The text on this one is a little better, it feels more like a popolar song of the period. Possibly because the text was written much later. But the melody's a bit better, too, if, still, not much to my liking.

Summer seems forever and a day away at this point. I'm cold almost all the time, and can't get warm, except when I'm working or sleeping. We live in a lovely old house, where the heat never seems to fully work, and perhaps never will. But tonight we're heading out to a party: warmth, light, good food and drink.

I've gone to this particular holiday party for years now, and there are people I only know from here. It's a strange thing. But I'll see them tonight, and I'll pick up a conversation with someone that I talked to last year. It won't be particularly profound, perhaps, these are not people who are friends, yet, but who knows? Maybe five years down the road they will be, all on the basis of a common friend's holiday party. Certainly I've seen it happen at my house, where people will ask after other attendees (usually, but not always, my friend, Michael): is he coming? And they'll ask in between times, too. There are other situations even further fetched: I feel that I know some of my friends' and clients' families, though I have never met them. But I hear about them all the time, and I ask after them, and care about their triumphs and tragedies. When my daughter was born, and also after my husband had surgery, we received gifts from people I felt that we barely knew. But they knew us, somehow, through two or three degrees, maybe, and they cared, genuinely along that narrow thread of knowledge.

The world is a strange place, but things like this make me feel that it is not so huge, that there are connections that span unlikely divides. It gives me hope.

09 December 2005

"Ah! Sweet Mystery of Life"

Some. . .how. . .must. . .get . . .through. . .these. . .inane. . .songs. Argh! What makes this one worse is that I remember singing this in college, in Opera Workshop, which I belonged in like I belonged in a professional football team. (In fact, I could have faked basketball, soccer or hockey better.) I sang this with Tom, whose last name I forget, he was a tenor. I also played a fat (alto) nun in another piece. Typecast yet again, ha ha. But I did get to sing about almonds.

Happy-sad-ironic laughter. Today I did not laugh enough, which has contributed to my snotty mood. In general, I do find life endlessly amusing, and never dull. Even when I'm frustrated out of my head, there's lots to laugh at. My first recollection of this kind of laughter is when I was twelve, and fell down the stairs at Sesame Place, spraining my ankle. I laughed and laughed, and one woman chastised me for doing so. "It's better than the alternative!", I retorted, cheeky little minx that I was. That ankle hurt so bad, I just couldn't think of any alternative.

I think I have my mother to thank for this attitude. Laughing *is* better than the alternative, and more healing. It feel so lovely to laugh all out, though it can lead to its own kind of physical pain and serious loss of breath.

When I was a little older I read Robert Heinlein, who said that man is the animal who laughs at himself, laughs because it's just too painful to do anything else. I wrote a song, one of my earliest ones, that talked about not being able to love a man who could not laugh. My daughter understands that laughter can be cruel sometimes, and has trouble understanding that laughter can be joyous, as well: an outburst of love of life and this moment that cannot be contained. And sometimes I laugh because life is just too weird, too terribly silly and nonsensical, and there's just no getting around it.

08 December 2005

"I'm Falling in Love With Someone"

Victor Herbert is still not doing it for me. And although I find the repeated leap of a ninth fascinating in this song, the text is never helpful in getting up there. An 'ah' vowel of some sort, please? Or once? I'm being lazy, I know. I didn't say that I didn't make the leap, I just didn't enjoy it as much as I could have.

It's snowing here, which is always magical. Something about snow just takes me, and a lot of other folks, back to childhood. Days off of school, snowball fights, amazing snow forts. I think of a few things in particular: Building a snow house in floor plan, marking out all the rooms, walking through them, laying down in the 'bedrooom'. The super long sled runs my brothers created, starting way up the hill, in the woods, a vertical drop of about six feet behind the garage, and then down the driveway to a final jump (the inner tube worked better on this than the sled, admittedly). And snowmobile rides with my grandfather up the mountains.

We don't talk to my grandfather anymore. He's still alive, but a bit insane. He's accused my father of having an FBI file three inches thick, and of running drugs with his cousin in California, who he hasn't seen or talked to in a decade or so. He wasn't always insane, but he's always been a bit of an asshole. He had a rough life himself, with an alcoholic father, and never quite figured out the love thing. My father once admitted to me that he married my mother for her loving family, as much as for herself. But I still remember how charming my grandfather could be when he chose, his stories, his bad jokes, and the fact that I look like my father, and him. As far as I know, I'm the only female in our family who carries this face, though there have been lots of males, including a couple of my brothers, who have it.

Of my siblings, I'm the one with the most, or possibly only, good memories of my grandparents on that side. I still remember Christmases there, and my grandmother's cooking, and her smile. She's seen my daughter twice, though not recently. She's still alive too, but we stopped having as much contact with her when she first chose not to see my father, one Christmas. My mom lost sympathy for her at that point. She thought that there should be nothing that would make a mother choose to not see her children.

On the whole, my family is very close. We all get along really well, there's a lot of love and laughter. I feel very lucky, knowing that lots of folks don't have this. But I remember at one point my father stopped saying, 'Your family will always be there for you.' Thankfully, this is still true for us, his children. He chose well.

07 December 2005

"Gypsy Love Song"

Just a one page tune, and the winner so far in the oldest song category, published in 1898. Maybe I'm just not a Victor Herbert fan, but there are more of his yet to come. The idea of gypsies is always good for me, there's something dark, romantic, wild, and mysterious about gypsies.

I've been thinking about my own recent adventures, or what passes for adventures. When I was in my twenties I did ok, adventure-wise: getting stoned and going for a bike ride or doing interpretive art, setting out to ride my bike from Penn State to DC and ending up hitching rides (all of that not stoned), sleeping with a man old enough to be my father just so I could say I did (not that he wasn't a beautiful man besides), exploring cities I didn't know all by myself, going to a Rainbow gathering in Minnesota with twenty dollars in my pocket, moving to a new city after being held up at gunpoint while working in DC. They all seem relatively tame now, and they seemed pretty tame then, too, but there was some sense of adventure about them. All of this in comparison to the here and now, when my biggest adventure is going out to run a 5K all by myself, following Mapquest directions to some borough with a stoplight out in the middle of nowhere. Wooo eeee. Hold me back, folks, I'm on a crazy merry go round of wacky fun.

While I'd like to believe that this mildness of extreme is due to being a mom, and I do know that this is partially true, it's also that I am no longer young. I have become responsible. For some reason I was really feeling my age the other day, musing aloud to one of my clients about plans for my fortieth birthday, coming up next year, and he said, "Wow! You're turning forty? That makes me feel old!" Yes, this is all about you, I thought. Turning forty in and of itself doesn't make me feel old. Turning thirty-five felt old only after my friend, Maria, pointed out that this would put me in a new age bracket for surveys, where I am now lumped in with the forty-four year olds. (How fair is that?) But I was thinking favorably about turning forty, and age brackets, this time around, since if I am still running when I turn forty (likely), I'll be able to whoop the pants off those forty-nine year olds in my age bracket (theoretically).

So the wacky adventure now really is about getting older. Feeling in my prime, admittedly, in better shape physically than I've ever been in most ways, and not expecting to break down into dust at any point soon, but this aging thing is a-happening. I will no longer be in my thirties next year. I want to not be limited by defining things in that light, but I'm having trouble keeping this idea entirely out of my head.

For solace, I go back to this summer, at my brother's wedding reception, where my aunt asked me when I was going to start aging; or to a music festival a couple of years ago when an old acquaintence said that I looked exactly the same. I certainly don't feel much different, and the differences I do feel are for the better. Meanwhile, in that 5K race last weekend, I placed first in my age group (while still in my thirties! unexpected!), and got a mug to show for it. Maybe when dementia sets in, whenever that happens, I'll forget that there were only two of us. The other woman said that she was trying to catch me the whole way.

06 December 2005

"Kiss Me Again"

And again, somewhat suddenly, we enter a new section of the book: 'A Treasury of Operetta and Semi-Classical Hits', whatever that means. In this case, it means composer Victor Herbert, and I hope it gets more interesting from here on in. This one is just a bit saccharine for me. So many love songs, and so hard to do well. Not that it can't be done well, and it sure is beautiful (sometimes gutwrenching, sometimes soaring ecstasy) when someone gets it right.

Someone asked me today if I found any movie stars attractive, and I had to admit that I didn't. One problem is not watching so many movies, but even when I do, even if I find a character in a movie appealing (I'm thinking most recently of the scene in 'Frida' where she dances with the other woman, but also, a little embarassingly, of Tim Curry in 'Rocky Horror'), I don't have a problem separating the character from the actor outside of that movie. And the actor is someone that I don't know, don't care about, and therefore don't find attractive. Characters in books are much more likely to be attractive, since they're fashioned partly by me, all in my head. No distracting reality-based photos.

Real people in my life are much more likely to be attractive to me. I find it interesting that I find my friends attractive, men and women, even though I'm not sexually attracted to women at all (I find men way too intriguing). But it ties in with the fact that if I like someone, they do truly become more fascinating to me, more beautiful; whereas some very beautiful people that I have known have gotten less and less attractive as I get to know them, until I have trouble remembering that they might be considered physically appealing at all.

Attraction, when it lasts for me, becomes love, by my choice. Usually it takes a while, I'm very careful, cautious even, but more importantly, I feel that there is no rush. I am blessed with many fabulous friends who I love dearly, and who love me in return, and I am not desparate to widen my circle. Life, yet again, is good.

05 December 2005

"You Go to My Head"

A vaguely familiar tune, not great, not bad, not overly fun to sing, not painful. Interesting in history, again, because it was banned from radio broadcast since it mentions alcoholic beverages. Published in 1938, a very different world.

The world today is just upsetting. I'm embarassed to be an American, yet again, especially knowing that as bad as it gets here, I could have it much worse elsewhere in the world. I'd like to think that our country could be a more mature force of good, but I know it's just a dream at the moment. I do know that I don't pretend to know the whole truth, but that this makes me especially upset with those who lie on a habitual basis and don't seem to care about truth at all.

Lies are seductive. Sometimes I'll feel the little white ones creeping in, until they feel like a herd, and I know that I need to be especially careful with my words. Having a child is good practice for this, since a great deal of tact and creativity is necessary to avoid telling lies, while also avoiding certain subjects, or more often, the intricacies of certain subjects, which my daughter has no interest in anyway. But she does occassionally want to talk about things like death, and adoption, and the cheetahs becoming extinct, and she wants the truth from me. And I do my clumsy best. Sometimes my husband is around and can field some of these questions, it's always good to see how he deals with them, I'm always looking to improve my repetoire of phrases. When all else fails, and I can't answer something, I do tell my daughter when I don't know, and there's always the asking of questions in response to questions as well. Always good for a diversion, though I fear that she might be catching onto that one on some level.

How closely do these half truths I tell my daughter relate to the outright lies our politicans pass off as fact? Did they start out this way, avoiding their kid's questions about sex or drugs? Are there things that I don't know that would let me forgive them their current whoppers, or even understand some greater purpose in what they do? Or are they just evil?

04 December 2005

"Heaven Can Wait"

An ok song, but what really made me smile about this one is the challenging and totally not simple parts of the piano accompanyment. You cannot get this kind of quality arrangements from anyone else but Reader's Digest, in the sixties, when some people still played piano.

We had dinner with an older couple this past week, and they talked about how people used to sing more, just casually. I actually find that hard to believe, not that I doubt them, but it is so beyond my understanding. It also sounds fabulous. We probably sing just a little more than average in our house, I'm guessing, but I'm not sure. Do people still sing to their children? I know that people sing along with the radio, but how about without it? I've also read recently about how the existence of the iPod has allowed people to personalize their music to the point where they don't need to listen to the radio, or even a CD, much less sing along with friends or family. Sad, but believable. (I still want an iPod, they're so cool and cute.)

I know that people still sing in church, but I can't bring myself to overcome my dislike of church in general to go just for the singing. And not all churches, even, have the 'everyone sings, in parts, and all the verses' mentality. And that's what I'm looking for. I'm lucky that I do have people in my spiritual community that love singing and music as much as I do, but we can't seem to get together nearly often enough, and we need more of us. I have visions of this commune-like place, where music happens all the time, or like the high school in 'Fame'. Ah!

When I was in choir in college, and we traveled together, we would sing grace before eating. All eighty of us, in four parts. As far as I know, and I was in that choir for five and a half years straight (I took my time in college), no one ever taught anyone that grace. One picked it up from the group, I certainly did. And it was the most beautiful thing to have it seemingly just happen. It's pretty great when 'Happy Birthday' ends up in harmony, for that matter, and goodness knows that's a not-inspiring piece. But it's like we all belong to a secret 'give just a little more beauty here' club.

And singing to me is that extra beauty. It feels so good in my body, breath and sound and effort and ease all mixed up just right. It's joy in the ears that have become my whole skin. It can bring me to tears and I'll have no idea why I'm crying. As my dance can be, it can be a prayer more sure and holy and in the center of my purpose and will, a spell and an offering all in one.

03 December 2005

"I Found a Million Dollar Baby"

A return of the bouncy, fun, but indistinguishable song like the ones featured in the first section. But interesting because it was first sung by Fanny Brice--'Funny Girl' made her very fascinating for me--and because it's a Depression song, and my daughter and I have been reading a lot about life in that time period.

A little while back one of my friends noted that I always seem to relate things to money. Not in a bad way, she was quick to say, but still. . . I was a bit mortified, because I knew exactly what she meant, and how true it was. And it feels crass to know that that's how I come across. But after a while, I stopped being so hard on myself. I do think an awful lot about money, and I worry about it, but it's not bad to know how to find a bargain, for starters. And we don't use credit cards, have not used them for years. I shop at yard sales and the Goodwill, rather than at department stores. I don't go shopping without a list, or at all, if I don't need something. I don't usually buy things if they're not on sale (I can tell you what I bought for full price, and why I had to do such a drastic thing), and at the grocery store I gravitate to things that are not only on sale, but that I also have a coupon for. I can tell you where all of my clothing came from, and how much it cost, if it was a gift or hand-me-over. At night when I wake up and can't sleep I'm figuring out how much money I have coming in, and which bills that will pay, and which ones are left, and when I might be able to pay them, and what I have to budget for next, and, and, and. . .

It helps when I remind myself of what my mother always says, 'If your only problems are money problems, you're in good company.' And at this point in my life, money is certainly less of a problem than it was. But my husband and I did not develop any skill with money easily or early, and it still requires a lot of discussion, and trying out 'wacky' things like budgets. I'm still happy that these discussions no longer have to include me breaking into hysterical tears over the pure frustration and overwhelming nature of the beast. Both my husband and I still get frustrated over it all sometimes, but I know that we've come a long way, and I can't regret any of the bargain finding skills or frustrated tearful times, if we are growing in a good direction.

Since I am a parent, I am also thinking of what we're passing on to our daughter. My family growing up went through various periods where money was short, and it ended up affecting each of us profoundly, but in very different ways. How will my daughter be when it's her turn to be out on her own with utility bills? My father always said that I would find the real world horrible when it came time to pay bills on my own, but this didn't happen quite the way he said it would, for all my frustration. If learning to deal with money is another one of those grown-up lessons, well, it's not so bad. It's another game and balancing act, and we are in good company indeed.

02 December 2005

"When My Dream Boat Come Home"

There is nothing in this song per se that is worth a cent, but the piano part is so fun to play that I did it twice. But how can you ultimately win with a title like this?

My dreams these days feel very simple, very possible. I don't think so much in advance of what they are, but then something will happen: my husband kisses the side of my neck, I learn the words to a song I love, we get a CD player for the kitchen. Suddenly all is right with the world. And you may be thinking, a CD player for the kitchen? But I'm not really totally materialistic and shallow, it's more that this forty dollar CD player has fufilled this long standing dream we've had to have music easily accessible in the kitchen. And when we put it on tonight for the first time, and listened to a little of Ella Fitzgerald singing Cole Porter (and that CD acquisition has everything to do with this blog), and my husband was flipping around to his favorite songs and dancing that self-absorbed dance of his. . . it felt just right. LIke a good dream I had, and here it was all real, us in our pyjamas, on a Friday night, waiting for pizza, dancing in the kitchen.

And the best part of it all is that this week really sucked in lots of ways, was incredibly frustrating. I felt constantly stymied by long waits and nothing accomlished. Still, Here, life is Good.

01 December 2005

"What's New?"

This is a 1938 song that has nothing to do with 'What's New, Pussycat?', which must have come much much later. Another song that I didn't know at all before sight reading it today, and this one I do like. The text setting has an opera recitative quality about it, and the ending has a bit of a surprise to it, even though in retrospect I should have seen it coming. But it still works. Another one that I'll go back to later.

Tonight it's snowing here, which feels appropriate, since I just came home with a new (to me) computer, a gift from some very generous friends, and it feels like my birthday and Christmas all rolled into one. This new computer is about seven years old, and a replacement for the recent five year old computer that I purchased on eBay. My friends have put a huge hard drive in, and some extra memory, and I can't wait to get it set up. For most of the last five years I've been working on my husband's computer, the first iMac ever created, since my computer was even older, and had no ability to be hooked up to our DSL line. But this past summer my father bought me a little digital camera, and that meant that I needed OS X, and that meant that I needed a new computer altogther. (I didn't complain too much. Or at all.) So I searched on lovely eBay, and got another, slightly newer, iMac for a song. Unfortunately, that computer, the newest in the house, had a fatal motherboard crash. I wept, literally. Having that computer set up, with all my stuff organized the way I wanted it, the prospect of becoming even more personalized, figuring out a new operating system inside and out, doing wacky insanely anal projects. . . when it crashed I realized how much fun I had been having, and how much I had missed having my own machine.

I really love computers. Really really, as I love calculus, and assembling IKEA furniture. I wanted a computer of my own all my growing up, from way before the time when real personal computers were available. I asked for one every Christmas. I remember my best friend's parents getting a machine that loaded its programs from tape cassettes (!!), and then my father's first computer, with its yellow letters on a black screen. I learned to type on that machine, playing a little game that had something to do with lobsters eating the letters, I think. I worked on a Mac for the first time in college, at the recommendation of my friend, Chris Jester, and I fell utterly in love with the simplicity and hack-ability of them. When I came to Pittsburgh, and my dearest bought me a computer with one of his grad school paychecks, my happiness was complete. (No surprise that I married him later.)

So hopefully this will be the last evening that I will be writing on this little iMac, the last to write in my husband's studio rather than my own. I will resume my anal organization of my hard drive, filling its vast space with the software of my dreams, and zillions of files that no one else will ever care about. I am in the midst of geeky Kathryn computer bliss. (Thank you so much, Alison and Aaron!)

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