Tuesday, March 22, 2005

New York, New York

Well, back to NYC for the first time since I left (after living there for 14 years - went up for school and stayed, mostly out of inertia) and it has changed very little except that it's cleaner!!!!!
I flew up to hear my favorite operatic baritone, Dmitri Hvorostovsky perform in recital at Carnegie Hall and, all I can say is, boy was it worth the trip!! The plus was getting to meet him afterwards. We did find some other things to do, including the NYCO and catching "Julius Ceasar" in previews. The JC was just astoundingly excellent. I think Denzel Washington is probably one of the greatest actors of his time. He is dong "Brutus" and the performance - well all the performances - is so strong and passionate that we decided after we left that we could not even cope with seeing anything else that day!
After sitting through that wonderful recital, which was mostly Russian repertoire, I have concluded that it's about time to learn the language again. (I did some extension courses after HS, but about all I can still deal with now is the alphabet....and a few phrases picked up from listening to Russian operas over and over. None of these phrases are particularly usefull if you need to find a bathroom or order breakfast.
Great photos at the St Paddy's day parade, though!
Heartbreak downtown. I had not seen the WTC site yet and knew I had to go look at it so that I would really believe it happened...that neighbourhood was my "stomping ground" for so many years and we were all on a "Hey there' basis with the Firefighters nearby...so it was a pesonal loss. We went to Palm Sunday at Trinity church and I told my traveling companion that I just needed a little private moment and walked to the corner of the churchyard where I could see the site and bawled my heart out! I noticed when I got back into the church that my legs had turned to jelly. At least it's over with...I knew it would be hard, and it was. I started crying again when I thanked God that Trinity and St Paul's had been spared! I am so proud of my old parish and the way they ministered to the workers and the displaced.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Nails

One thing that goes on when you play classical guitar is that you become obsessed with your nails. The ones on your "playing hand" anyway. The "fretting" fingers get clipped 'way down, anyway, so, short of avoiding cuts and burns, they can take care of themselves. So, after a week of trying to rescue my index finger nail with silk wraps, it finally disappeared, so I am collecting nail-replacement techniques. Next to try is a "wrap" from the nail salon.
So, the AUM campus looks like an armed camp...the White House having requisitioned it for a Bush "town meeting." This could only be considered a "Town meeting" if your town was made up entirely of Republican loyalists (dear God, NO!) since the only way anybody gets into this thing is by procuring tickets from GOP funding groups and politicians...in short, the fan club. So Bush gets to push his "screw the working classes" policies in front of what looks to the tv cameras like a wildly-enthusiastic group of average citizens.
What can you say about an administration that has managed to keep the minimum wage at a pitiful $5.15 all these years and allows so many jobs to be farmed out to India and other countries where people work for pennies?
As for me, I intend to join the end of the people who have been walking from Selma to Montgomery to mark the anniversary of the original Voting Rights march in 1965! If I hadn't had mid-terms this week, I would have done the whole walk with them.
Daisy was on campus with me today. I walked her through the canopied entrance set up for the grand arrival and tried to persuade her to leave something for Bush to step in, but she wasn't in the mood.

How to tell you're back in college

Well, if there was any doubt that I am back in school, I gathered up some little friends after an exam and stuffed a VW Beetle...adding Miss Daisy and her "throne" (car seat from Dogoutfitters.com) we drove off to Panera for chocolate and other food. I was wondering how I would explain this to a cop if we got pulled over when I am old enough to know better, but it was still fun!
Getting some Spring action around here...snowdrops and daffodils blooming, leaves spurting out of long-naked trees and the sure knowledge that I will soon have to start mowing the lawn again. In Alabama, you always have nature trying to take over, so it's a constant stand-off.
Then there is the kudzu.
Several years back, I was poking through a late relative's old house and a lot of his old papers had been dumped on the floor by somebody who had broken in and tried to find valuables. Now, "valuable" depends on your point of view. Among the papers I found letters dated back in the '30's from the USDA and a seed supplier...one offered kudzu seedlings for sale, and the USDA letter was a bulletin explaining how to plant and cultivate the stuff. I have had them framed and refer to them as "the kudzu papers.' If you are from the South, they are hilarious to the point of bringing tears to your eyes. If you're not, you might not understand why this is so funny.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

guitar etc

Actually this blog was to talk about my second adolescence! After a lifetime of frustration at trying to finish my degree, things changed radically for me a year ago and I found I was able to pick up this long-deferred dream in my middle-age. I have also gone back to playing my guitar, which is a great joy. I had had some issues with clinical depression after my last attempt to finish my degree, as a music major, focussing on classical guitar and voice. Then I broke my wrist (I don't recommend "diving" into concrete. It is a very unforgiving substance.) Having rehabilitated from both, that's all I wanted to have back in my life, was my wonderful guitar! Anyway, I am delighted to find that everything is still "there" the reading, the understanding..some of my repertoire. I've found a great teacher and am using the opportunity to go back to the beginning and get rid of some bad technique, so there IS a silver lining here!
Further, I find that small public universities sometimes have it 'way over and above large public or private institutions. Granted, if I wanted to take up my music major again, AUM, where I am now, is NOT the place for it, but I am going for a BLA...then, hopefully, and MLA. The surprises are the quality of teaching and the intelligence of the students...their general curiosity and commitment. I have attended private colleges twice and found no such levels among the student body...mostly inertia and lack of curiosity -the "I have to get this piece of paper so I can get a job" attitude and the "I'm only here because I can't think of anything else to do." and the "they gave me some money to come here since I can't read, now excuse me while I go back to sleep here in my chair."

Daisy in Prattville

Well, here we are at the La Quinta. I stay at these places all the time because my dog (who is delightful) can stay with me. This is usually a great experience, and I like these places, but this one is off my list. Usually some employee will hold the Daisy while I grab some breakfast to take back upstairs. Leaving her in the room would result in a LOT of noise...naturally, dogs aren't allowed in the dining area. This morning NOBODY would be nice enough to hold her for me for that short time and I had to tuck her under my arm...while I was getting an egg and some cereal to take upstairs, all hell breaks loose in terms of the very employee who refused to hold her for me telling me I had to get out that the dog wasn't allowed ! I started to simply check out...then it occurred to me that I still need to study for an exam, I have paid for this room until 11 and I'd rather study in here than in my car! So it goes. Well, at least I called their customer service office...it remains to be seen whether that does the slightest bit of good. Anyway, back to the LQ down the road, in future, where they are infinitely more concerned with my comfort and happiness!!!!!
It is important to use a little graciousness, tact and to go out of one's way sometimes with customers. I worked in retailing for many, many years and had a wildly enthusiastic and loyal gang of customers...why? Because I made room in my work and attention for their needs and wants, sometimes even the silly ones. If someone was unhappy about our selection or had come a long way for something we had sold out, I would give them a "promo" recording or even let them select something which I would then pay for out of my own pocket later. It shows, sooner or later..I had sales in my department ("world" music) that would have made a small "family" record store insanely jealous...and my department was pretty esoteric stuff!
Hey, customer service types: a little kindness and friendliness goes a long way! I hope that, if I ever stay at another La Q I might find that going on ( I have in the past) or if I switch to another pet-friendly place, I find a little more of the kind of treatment I used to give to MY customers!