Thursday, September 29, 2005

Observed Behavior in Seattle

I was walking along 3rd Ave. the other day when a small thing I observed made me smile. Since I spend so much time (not on this blog. Yet.) complaining about how the crazies in this city get to me (I've been screamed at, spit on, called the cops on a guy beating his girlfriend nearly to death while their 3-year-old son cowered against her stomach, etc. Not that this doesn't happen to everyone working downtown at some time or another) that I decided to start making note of things that delight me about living here.

So, I was standing at a crosswalk waiting for my light, next to a guy in a wheelchair. He had a huge red backpack strapped to the back of it. A guy with some sort of slavic accent asked the two of us where to pick up the 150 bus, and before I could open my mouth, Mr. Backpack gave him directions, kindly, in heavy Rasta-speak. Oh, yeah, and this whole time he was balanced on his back wheels and I was trying, first of all, not to stare, but also to figure out how the hell he balanced so perfectly - no jittery balancing movements, no quivering of arm muscles, nothing. Huh.

The light turned green and our Slavic friend shot off to find his bus, and the guy in the wheelchair rolled forward, still on his back wheels, bumped down into the crosswalk, front wheels never touching the ground, and zoomed to the opposite curb. And no curb ramp would do for him, nooo. Still popping a wheelie, he rolled right up to the edge of the curb, set the front wheels on the curb, and began trying to heave his back wheels up onto it as well. First try didn't work. And oh dear, Helpful Cerise took a half-step forward to help shove him up (look, I KNOW that if people want help they'll bloody well ask for it, but I'm one of those people who can't stand by, OK? I open doors for fully-grown men, OK??? It's dumb, I understand that...). Then I stopped, remembering that 1. he didn't ask me for help and 2. there were enough pedestrians in that crosswalk (and most of them closer to him than me) where we could probably roll him up the side of the building with a little collective effort. I was not needed here. Sure enough, one more heave and he was over. Another gentleman in a wheelchair was coming over from the other street and going up the ramp while this transpired. He laughed and gave the Rasta-man a victory sign, and the Rasta-man grinned and rolled down the sidewalk, pumping his fists in the air Rocky-style.

And I was smiling hugely, not only at this amazing-looking accomplishment (that the fella must do a hundred times a day), but also at my well-intentioned but foolish urges towards helping those that clearly don't need it, and at my gentle reminder from the cosmos that we are closer together than we think. I do love this city.


Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Sorrow and Hope

Go to Addison Road to hear a podcast song written and performed by my good friend Michael Lee. He wrote it in response to a great sorrow he has encountered, the particulars of which Yours Truly knows nothing. It's soul-stirring, though, which is why I turn your head in that direction.

Addison Road is my other blog home, and though I'm not an author on it I do spend a great deal of time reading what my friends there have to say and shooting my big mouth off in turn. It is religious in nature (I mean, I think the blog was created to dialogue about new emergent thought in the Christian Evangelical Church), so those of you with hair-trigger sensibilities about Christianity be warned. On the other hand, I've got the hair-trigger as well, and I like that place just fine. Just go see it.


Predictable vs. Well-Loved

Have you ever had your behavior predicted with stunning accuracy by your beloved? It's a strange thing, innit? I was hunkered in front of the computer entering our receipts into our money program the other day and decided that I couldn't go on without some music. Ramon was in the kitchen on dish patrol (I miss living with a dishwasher). As soon as "Isis" blasted out of the computer speakers I heard a chuckle from the kitchen. "What!?" I demanded.

"You always play Bob Dylan when you do the money, love."

[pause - while I spend a moment trying to decide whether to be disgusted at being so predictable or to be delighted to be the object of close loving observation. I opt for delight.] "REALLY? You reeeally know what music I'm going to put on when I do the money??" I myself didn't even notice that.

Dear Reader, is it not wonderful to be loved by someone who sees and knows you - sometimes better than you know yourself? I know this subject has been done to death by a multitude of people over many, many years, but I'm always amazed at how unknowingly we (or, at least, I do it unknowingly) bear witness to the lives of those we love. I chose Ramon (and married him) because I love him, wanted to spend the rest of my life by his side, wanted his company and love always. I also, by choosing him as my mate for life, signed on to be the closest witness of his life. His doings, accomplishments, failures, hopes and fears, sorrows and joys. As he does for me. We had no idea. It's cool, though, isn't it? And it shows itself in the little things we can observe and even predict about each other.

This week I'm going to watch him more closely - try to divine his mood, for instance, without the customary 20 questions about how he's doing. Watch how he does things, what upsets and delights him. How he interacts with our lovely girls (cats - more on them later, be assured). How often he laughs. How he cooks so much neater than me. This is what I agreed to, though I didn't know it at the time. It's turning out to be one of my favorite parts of being Ramon's other half.


Wednesday, September 21, 2005

I'm in!!

Say hello to the newest (and humblest) member of the Seattle Symphony Chorale!!

[going to go throw up now] Thank you all for your good wishes.


Today's the Day

Today's the day I hear from the Seattle Symphony Chorale (via email) whether or not the audition I did with them was good enough to get me into their hallowed ranks. I'm shaking in my little booties, people. Here's the plea for good wishes I submitted at my high school alumni forum:

I'm auditioning to sing in the Seattle Symphony Chorale - the huge choir that belts out the choral parts of classical works (like the poor bastards in Beethoven's 9th Symphony, for example, which the choir is doing this season, by the way. Ouch. Hard stuff). I'm terrified for the following reasons:

1. Seattle is by far the biggest gene pool of good singers I've ever lived in. That means I'll be competing for a spot with lots of people who sing as well as and better than me. Oh, how it rankles...
2. I'm rusty. I've had neither vocal training nor choral experience for several years and so will be trying to overcome the onset of lack of practice, range, and sight-reading skills. The director is no slouch, not by a long shot, and will be able to tell that I've been out of the loop for a while.
3. I'm a big danged chicken.
4. I think I'm coming down with something. [just kidding. Knock on wood]

I also have an OK chance of getting in, you know, since training never really goes away and they'll be able to hear that. And I may not be the monster of a sight-reader that I used to be, but I can still sing most things on sight. My resume is also not too bad, and the fact that I have a degree in singing, years of training under my belt, was El Presidente of my college choir (though long ago), and the fact that I'm singing my audition piece in German are all things that will work in my favor. So it's not hopeless. However, I've spent my life as a big fish in pretty small ponds, musically speaking, and have a good chance of not making it. This would be the first time I've been rejected for a musical group I've tried out for. No more playing it safe, I guess. Yikes.

I know a lot of this sounds like bragging, but I hope you know me well enough to know that listing my assets is just a way of bolstering what's left of my courage. You know me.

Anyway, my church choir director says my chances are 50-50, probably, so if y'all could take a second to tip the balance in my favor (metaphysically speaking) I'd be eternally grateful. I've got a lot riding on this, actually, and this audition signals a return to music and to no longer playing my life so safe any more. Which is a good thing (tell that to my knocking knees, sucka). But competition is the thing I hate most in the whole, whole world (just under extreme poverty, starvation, and willful ignorance). It makes me sick with total, craven, yella-bellied fear. So think about me tomorrow. I'll owe you.

So, there you have it. The audition went very well, by the way. I didn't throw up on the director or anything. I sang very nicely, was never asked to sight-read or show them my range (after all that worrying), and the director and the tenor section leader, who was sitting in on auditions that day, were both very complimentary and very kind. And totally unreadable. Drat.

Now I wait. And try not to check my email every 5 minutes. You can imagine that I'm failing miserably.


Monday, September 19, 2005

Happy Birthday, Aly!

Yesterday one of my favorite people on the planet turned 30. Not for anyone would I come out of my writing hiatus, but The Day Aly Was Born ought to be a national holiday - not an American holiday, necessarily - perhaps the French could do right by her. I met her at the beginning of Grade 11 and was instantly swept off my feet. No, before that, because I got to (boarding) school a day before she did, and since we bore a passing resemblance to each other back then (no more, I'm sorry to say) I was hailed all day as Aly. Instant and blazing popularity were mine, since even though the mistake was almost instantly corrected by all as soon as they got a better look at me, resembling Aly, even in the smallest way, made me both an oddity and a celebrity.

My second day at school was the day I met her. I was struck instantly by her beauty, intelligence, integrity (it's amazing - you can SEE it) and kindness. And hipness. And staggering musical ability. She has a poetic, pragmatic, loving, meltingly gracious, ironic, sharp-witted, down-to-earth and wildly imaginative soul. She has recorded damned fine music, written and published a book, read nearly everything on print (I dare you to find a conversational topic she's NOT interested and at least somewhat informed in), travelled the world and generally established herself as a Renaissance Woman of the highest order. If you haven't heard of her already, you will.

And she caps all of this by calling me her friend. I know, Dear Reader, that you all have people in your life, a Holy Circle, of friends and/or family members who never cease to astonish you with how extraordinary they are, how much they know, how many different things they can do. And members of this circle also amaze you because they love you - truly - and find worth in you that you never knew of and that they in turn find astounding to behold. You feel beyond blessed, beyond lucky, to both know them and be loved by them. Ramon's in mine, of course, as is my brother Chad and my sister Kaitlyn.

And so is Aly. Here's to you. [raises a pint of Hammerhead] Thank you for being born, my dear. Thank you for letting me into your life.


P.S. Your presents are late. Sorry-kins.