The day after the election the pall that settled over Seattle was dreadful. It was as though someone had died in every home–except for the guy around the corner who has had a big sign in his front window for eight years: No Obamanation. For a month he had a Trump/Pence sign plastered over that. Now the window is finally at rest with its white curtains.
He’s a perfectly nice guy with a love of a huge furry dog, a Malamute or some Siberian giant. Once when I was weeding outside the fence, he came by with the dog who basically lay down on top of me in affectionate neighborliness. I am trying to remember the dog’s name. Emily, I think. This is a man of contradictions and certainly an anomaly in my neighborhood.
But as I said, the pall. Distractions have been thin on the ground and it’s been hard to concentrate and to work. My littlest students had their Halloween/ costumed/chocolate fountain during the weekend that I had gone into a tailspin over the FBI director and his scammy announcement.
I bought the chocolate fountains years ago after I made a special trip to Costco for something they didn’t have: a shredder or printer or something boring. I was so irritated with the waste of time that I spent the $50 on a chocolate fountain and over the years it has been featured at many a recital.
The actual recital went by as fast as cows on a road trip because most of the songs were four lines long. The roar of applause lasted longer than the music. The week prior to the recital everyone had a dress rehearsal at his or her lesson. I had each of them sit somewhere in my living room, holding their music:
“OK, now let’s pretend it’s Sunday and the room is full of people. There’s your mom and there’s your little brother squirming around. You can hear people breathing. Somebody coughs. The person before you is taking her bow and everyone is applauding.” I applaud wildly. “Then I announce that Sarah is going to play ‘The Detective Agency.’ So now you walk up.”
I talk her through the protocol. She sets her music on the piano rack and anchors it with two little rice dolls. She plays ‘The Detective Agency’ and she practices her bow. The cat comes in and whines—that would be Winston. We run though Sarah’s part in the recital again. Most of my students like to do this playacting several times.
I have to run down a side street for a second and tell you about the rice dolls. I have 24 of them– two for each month–that I bought at a holiday craft fair years ago. I laid in my supply when I realized they were the perfect weight and size for holding music open on the piano rack. Whichever (interested) child has the first lesson in the month gets to pick out the next month’s music proper-uppers.
I remember when two years ago when Alex was first up for November. She put the witch and the ghost from October in the box of dolls and with some coaching managed to fish out the two Pilgrims.
“Huh?” she asked. “What are these?”
“They’re Pilgrims,” I said.
“They’re not Pilgrims,” she said scornfully. “They’re English separatists.”
We got through this year’s Halloween Costume Recital with the help of the English separatist music holders and carried on into the sunroom for the main reason all the kids came. One of the older siblings had been given the job of stirring the melted chocolate on the stove during the recital so it was smooth and the right consistency to be poured. It’s really fun pouring all that chocolate into the basin and watch it rise up the tower until it spills out on all sides.
One of the smallest children asked me what I did with the fountain after everyone left.
“I set it up right by my bed and run it all night long so I can stick my finger in it every time I wake up,” I said watching his big round eyes try to work this out.
My adult singing students participated in A Terrified Adults and Spotlight Whores Sunday Afternoon Musicale two weeks after the election. The Musicales have so much variety. There’s something for every taste. Cindy sang something from Messiah. Susan sang “St Louis Blues” and “Kansas City” with her husband Mario on the bass and me getting to improvise the piano. Nina sang “Jubilee.” Sheena and Leah both did songs from the Italian art song tradition (Schirmer edition for those of you in the know) as well as a folk song and “Anyone Can Whistle,” one of the few Sondheims that are easy to accompany. Johnine sang a Beatles song. Amber sang “99 Red Balloons” with her partner accompanying her on guitar. I got to preview the first aria of “Weichet Nur Betrubte Schatten,” Bach Cantata #202 that is to be the centerpiece of a recital I’m working on. I’ve been living, breathing, and singing myself to sleep with this Bach and performing something that has been so much a part of my private world was remarkably gratifying.
These recitals are part of my Work Life. Sometimes when I have an emergency rehearsal or a sectional for the OK Chorale, I tell people to come at 3:30 and “I want you out of my house by 5:00.” It’s my little joke but also a way to suggest that I am at work during those sectionals. I have to be on. I have to be diplomatic and polite. I don’t necessarily want to be that way on a weekend.
Something about how awful we had all been feeling made this afternoon glow. I had looked forward to having people over and to making music. I was glad that people stayed longer than usual. At one point I curled up on the couch and watched everyone eating the wonderful food—Susan makes these amazing dates stuffed with almonds and topped with crème fraîche–talking and laughing with each other, meeting new people, telling each other how much we’ve all “improved.”
Nina (rhymes with Dinah) saw me. “Do you want us gone?” she asked.
I didn’t. An afternoon with friends and music—it was something I needed. I think we all did.
But the most magnificent and most anticipated distraction of all came the day after Thanksgiving: Gilmore Girls, A Year in the Life. Before I discovered Gilmore Girls I had a student who wanted to change her lesson because it meant she missed the show. I had no sympathy at the time. Had I known then what I know now I would have moved heaven and earth for her to not have to watch it on tape (I don’t think we had DVR then) even though it meant she could skip the commercials.
If you have somehow missed this show, it ran from 2000-2007 and had what many felt to be an unsatisfactory seventh year and one which reeked of bureaucratic and corporate interference. Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life is the eighth installment, probably its finale. It consists of four 90-minute episodes and it premiered the day after Thanksgiving.
I was up at 5:30 to watch it. I watched for two hours, then went for a walk. Two more hours and I had to go set up my stuff at the Dibble House Holiday Craft Fair. I finished watching it around 2:00 in time to meet Nancy who was fitting the Apple Cup into her day to walk around Green Lake. That evening I played the piano at the Dibble House Holiday Craft Fair Preview and special wine and appetizer evening. I came home, fired up Netflix and started watching Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life all over again. I finished it for the second time around noon on Saturday.
Gilmore Girls is a wonderful story with great writing and unforgettable characters. I laughed and I cried through this year in their life. I turned off the TV thinking that I want to be a better person and I want to eat less sugar, which is surely ironic given how much junk food those girls famously eat.
I am over the despair hump from the election—I think. I hope we all are. We all have our part to play towards making this a world a place in which we actually want to live.