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Thursday, January 23, 2014

The rest of my 2013 yearly review.....

is finally ready to hit the public air waves! Sure, not everything can be covered, but here are a few of the highlights that I have not had the chance to go into depth about in other blog posts……

Easter this was particularly special to me because my friend, Wyndysascha, was received into the Catholic Church. I was so excited and rather nervous for him, that I kept mentally noting the time difference between Maryland and London, keeping tabs on when he would be at Easter Vigil Mass. I had listened to a whole radio program about converts aired on EWTN the night before, and I also had the opportunity to watch our own local batch of converts make the plunge at Easter vigil Mass. When we go home, I was thrilled to find an email from W. waiting for me, and the subject line, in bold, read: “I’M A CATHOLIC!!!” With all the uncertainly buzzing around with Pope Benedict’s resignation, I felt a new sense of reassurance and hope.

    Not long after Easter, “An Evening of Music” was held at St. Joseph’s Parish, with my dad having been selected by the Fund Committee to be the M.C. It was going to be a collaborative effort of a number of local Catholic churches, and I was scheduled to sing my original composition, “Our Lady of Britannia”, and an 18th century Scots-Gaelic lament, “Ailein Duinn”. Unfortunately, it was discovered just before the show that the bodran drum track for the latter was screwed up, my vocals having been accidentally recorded over it during the original session!

    Nevertheless, after a mini panic attack, there was little alternative but to sing it a capella. Not my favorite task by any means. And there were a few other troubled areas of paradise. Since there were so many different acts performing, and the Church tech equipment was less than ideal (think: bingo hall speakers and mic stands held together with Scotch tape!), it had been formerly assumed that the director of the Jazz Band would be providing the sound equipment. Not so. He didn’t even offer his mic stands to the rest of us. Nevertheless, my intrepid father, mid-show, had to use the power of “commandeer” in order to properly provide for the performers!

    In spite of all the hullabaloo, I can happily report that, for the most part, we had high-quality performances and a fair-sized audience. The choir groups were all lovely, as were a trio of church ladies from our own St. Joseph’s. We had one girl, dressed in sequence-studded attire, who was quite proficient in musical hits from such diverse productions as Le Miserables and Beauty and the Beast! The bands also did a good (if loud!!!) job, and I made it through my own pieces without any disasters to speak of, even though everyone had to endure the same life-or-death-struggle with terrible treble mics.

    Our deepest cravings were fulfilled at the end of the day, when were treated to refreshments by the kitchen in the back. Being someone who had endured a painfully long sabbatical from all things sweet due to an internal infection, it had a special resonance with me! I particularly recall a French Toast-like pastry filled with cream cheese and sprinkled with powdered sugar. Yum. No better way to break out of the Lenten Season in style, what? ;-)

    In April another big event for me was the formal dance. I say the dance because it became larger-than-life in the process of trying to evade going to similar functions for so many years. The facts I lay before thee: I’m no dancer; I’m not a party-animal; I don’t like to have guys I barely know putting there mitts on my person. There. I said it. Phew.

   Anyway, I was finally enticed to put aside my apprehensions by a friend who was serving on the ticket-selling committee. My mom was pleased at the prospect of getting me prettied-up for the occasion, and I soon found myself adorned in an ice-blue Victorian-style gown we had procured at a thrift shop. Quite lovely, really, though I didn’t quite feel like myself. 

    The prom itself was! The organizers had rented a really classy club house for the event, and as we drove up and saw the complex of well-to-do dwellings nearby, I muttered, "High society, huh?" We noticed some young guys in suits hanging around on a veranda outside one of the houses decked out with balloons and deducted that it must be the right place. I slumped lower in the car. Not my element, no, not mine……

    So my dad dropped me off at the door, and I was ushered in by the parental chaperones. Now everything started spinning because there were all these girls who I used to know when they were really little, coming up to me in brightly-colored attire and saying things like, "It's been so long! Do you remember me? Don't be a stranger....."     Honestly, some of them I didn't know right off the bat and had to kind of hint around or ask others to discover their identity. A few of them are heading off to University this year, so I guess they this dance was doubling as their personal self-promo project!
    I hunkered down at a table with a female friend and munched on the food provided (quite good.....ham, potatoes, green beans.....and cheesecake! I love cheesecake…) Plus, I used my wine glass for lemonade! I was given a wine-glass charm with my initials on it, so I have that as a memory of the event.  After eating, the girls had the unenviable task of waiting around for the boys to get inspired to ask them to dance. I made a few cracks about the possible necessity of using Morse Code to signal them over to our table, or the last ditch effort of tackling one who was strutting by......but these measures proved unnecessary, and we wound up getting asked to dance about four times. I think I did okay in that....I mean, no what got broken feet or thrown out backs! 

    However, I'm really not in my element dancing. Frankly, I don't like the usury attitude that some of the young people seem to imbue dancing with. Rather than sitting down to chat with you and sharing some quality time, the boys seemed more likely to "dance and run". They were polite, to the point of escorting the girls back to their chairs (unnecessarily, as they were only a few feet away from the dance floor!), but not prone to "hunkering in" for discussions, apparently. I think the only way I would ever go to another such dance would be if I had a friend who would consent to be my date.....or I might wait till I'll about to get married and learn with my fiancée!

    The morning after the prom, my father and I piled into Madame Maureen’s car and were whisked down to Catonsville to take part in a show for the Little Sisters of the Poor, a retirement home for elderly nuns. The trip was a rather tense affair, since The Z. Clan had come down with the contagion and could not attend with us, the sheet music they were to bring was never brought, Madame had to coordinate the “meeting” of the troupe, coming from some five different locations, in Catonsville, and she had misplaced her nerve medicine! In the backseat of her car, with various prayer litanies playing in the speakers behind my head, I got the feeling were we being driven to our execution!

    Upon arriving at the Little Sisters’ Care Center, we met with “our people” and headed for a big basement room where the stage was located. There was a hanging mic, which was none-too-good, but we had to make do and circulate it for group pieces. We also managed to obtain a hand mic, but it was nothing like the quality of Lutheran Home sound systems. Nevertheless, we forced ahead. I sang “I Know Where I’m Going”, “Sleeping Beauty Waltz”, and “The Sound of Music”, among other things. I also served as mic-holder for my friend, Liz, when she played her guitar and sang “Black Bird Singing in the Dead of Night.” We had our usual number of violin and piano pieces, and concluded our show experience with a sojourn at the snack table in the back of the room. Pound cake and pumpkin pie. Yum. Then a photo shoot with the Madame, and home we went.

    Over the summer, I had the honor to encounter Cardinal Timothy Dolan and a slew of other fascinating characters at Gettysburg during the 150th anniversary of the Civil War battle. I also got the chance to meet up with several of my friends who had returned from college or other journeys abroad. I met up with Jennifer at the mall, where we shared a cinnamon-sugar pretzel, window shopped, and discussed various subjects and updates, including the fact that her sister, Kathleen, had decided to become a nun! I met Danah at a local restaurant called Bullocks, where we indulged in peanut butter ripple ice cream and a discussion on SherlockStarTrek, and Katherine Lasky books. I had a reunion with Meredith, after her sojourn in Kansas, and enjoyed an afternoon at her grandma’s house chatting and searching for YouTube music of mutual interest on her laptop! I also had several long-awaited catch-up sessions with friends Rachel and Ian over the phone.

     In Autumn, I had the pleasure of having my wisdom teeth extracted. After being tied down to the dentist chair with a gas mask and blood-pressure cuff, and feeling rather claustrophobic as I was injected in the arm with a fair-sized needle, I blacked out only to wake up 45 minutes later feeling drowsy and lowsy. I remember very little from the time I woke up to the time I was back home, expect maybe shaking hands with a surprised dentist! After sleeping off the drugs, I woke up to the realization that my teeth were gone and it really hurt! The bloody gauze, ice packets, and oatmeal diet were no fun, but they were allayed by indulging in BBC period dramas such as Far from the Madding Crowd (really, really good). After going through a phase of looking like I had been socked in the face or transformed into a chipmunk, I must admit that I began to appreciate all the extra room I had in my rather small mouth.

    And lest we forget recent winter history…..I'm going to be representing Carroll County at the state competition for the Sons of the American Revolution Oration Contest!!! Okay, so the whole story is rather hysterical. As it happened, we went to the "audition" in December for the historical oration contest and discovered, quite to our amazement and bemusement, that I was the only contestant who came forward for Carroll County! Hence, they took me, enthusiastically, because our chapter had never been able to send anyone to state level before….ever! (I think they would have done the same had a chimpanzee stalked into the room with a gleam of authority in his beady eyes!)

    But anyway, I'm it! It's all rather exciting......and terribly nerve-racking! I seem to have been accidentally transformed into "the great white hope" for the chapter, even though I'm not exactly champion material. I'm basically going to be going through a form of training, tightening up my essay and speaking ability (and trying to suppress my giggling when I talk -- although, as you well know, that's sort of like not breathing for me)!

    So that’s my January review for 2013. Thank you to all who made last year special for me through your friendship and fun times spent together, whether in person, through the phone, or the internet. Thanks also to all my loyal blog readers who keep “Longbows and Rosary Beads” alive through their insightful comments and group participation.

Sprit of '76.2.jpeg
Marching into a New Year......

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