Friday, April 17, 2009

Beauty in the Eyes...

Someone stands on a stage ready to perform. She is booed and hissed at because she is plain, ordinary, yes, terribly dowdy. She opens her mouth and out comes the most extraordinary musical notes, her voice, this instrument, pure and crisp, a gift from God. Suddenly, the perspective is changed and the prejudice ingrained for decades, a lifetime is quieted by the mere act of listening...closing our eyes to the surface, of every surface we scan and judge every single day. by doing so, we are enriched. What if someone bathed and born to beauty had sung the same magnificent notes. Would we have really heard them? Or would what we had seen "at face value" have gotten in the way, robbed us of the whole experience?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Posted by Picasa


Next week is the first anniversary of my mother’s passing. She died right before Passover, so this week especially, I have been trying to remember every little detail of my last visit with her, which turned out to be just hours before she died. Truth be told, I hadn’t seen my mother in almost eight years, and luckily got to be by her bedside in time to say goodbye and much, much more. An explanation of all that would take more than a few volumes, and frankly might bore most to tears. My good friends and loved ones are certain my mother waited for me, knew that once I heard she was ailing, I would be by her side. Our relationship had been tumultuous from the first day I voiced an opinion of my own. I think my mother expected we would have the same relationship she had known with her own mother─ close, connected, with few outside influences. My grandmother’s friends became my mother’s friends, her social network confined mostly to family. But it was a much different time, and my mother never got the chance to fulfill any of her own youthful dreams. She wanted to be a fashion designer and at the age of seventeen she showed enormous promise. Unfortunately, she did not get the support or encouragement she needed and then came the war, a husband and two babies within a few short years. Although my mother sometimes showed pride in me and my accomplishments there was always this underlying feeling of competition that made me feel guilty for being me. Above all, I wanted her love. In those last few hours, as sad as it might be, I believe we both got what we wanted.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Choir Girl

Choir Girl

My high school alma mater Sanford H. Calhoun in Merrick, N.Y. is celebrating its 50th
anniversary at the end of April. Originally, I was planning on not attending. I envisioned hundreds of squinting people trying to recognize former classmates since the reunion spans decades of graduates, and besides, I have nothing to wear. But, when I heard they were planning to honor my beloved choir teacher, Tal Thayer, for his many years of service and dedication, and that there will be a performance especially for him, I knew I couldn’t miss it. Choir was why and how I got my high school letter─ the only letter I received that I wore proudly on a big white cardigan sweater. So now it’s my turn for pay back. But terror has finally struck. I received sheet music via the internet for “When Rooks Fly Homeward” and “Lord Bless You and Keep You.” Let me say straight out: I am Jewish, which means once I graduated, I never sang religious Choral music again. This does not mean I haven’t been known to belt out “Oh Holy Night” in the shower or car when no one’s around. So, now, to refresh my memory I’ve gone to You Tube and listened to several choral renditions of those selections. A couple of strange things happened: I fell in love all over again with acapella music even though I’ve forgotten how to spell it. I listened to high school choirs, college choirs, and children’s choirs until I realized what I think I’ve known for a very long time─ I’m no longer a soprano. Can’t reach those high notes like I did at seventeen. I was one of those “stupid sopranos” that refused to blend. That made Mr. Thayer’s eyes bulge like a porpoise behind his wire glasses. So I may have to do what I once did when I just couldn’t get that trill….mouth it.