Wednesday, July 15, 2009

More Summer Postings

scroll down if you’re interested in reading about Mark and Alice’s wedding, the July session the Songwriters, the morning Rupert and I were “herded”, my reunion dinner with the old high school gang, or care to know what I miss most about not working.

The Bride Wore Black

Hubby and I were honored to attend the wedding of Mark and Alice Zane. Alice did indeed wear black and they did it their way: live music, comfortable surroundings, good food, and smiles all around. The ceremony itself was the only one I’ve ever heard performed by a priest that actually made sense…..he understood marriage. I found myself getting lost in his words, hoping others there were listening, wishing some folks I knew had been there to hear him. I knew that Mark and Alice were off to a great start by having him perform their ceremony.

After they exchanged vows, we saw what’s become a very familiar scene: Alice sitting and listening to Mark playing his guitar and singing. She had the same look of awe of her face, although this time he was singing a special hymn just for her. It was a magical moment for all of us.

We wish them years of happiness…. (and thanks, Mark, for sitting Donna Colton at our table at the reception! I was star struck!)

July Songwriters at Sparkytown

The word that keeps swirling in my head following this last session is…..disappointment.

I missed Judy and Joanne. It was nice to have Melissa back. I wished Wendy had played something. We needed more female voices. Or at least I did.

The songs played, in my opinion, were all pretty damn good. All were varied, both lyrically and melodically. None bored me. I didn’t have a favorite; I truly liked them all. Many seemed “complete” to me, needing only minor tweaking.

My disappointment came with the critique.

In my writers’ group we struggle at times with whether or not we are writing for ourselves or writing for the group. We fear the times we find ourselves writing for the group. The question came up at the songwriters group once in the past: do you write a song for your audience or for yourself? I’m wondering if some members of the group may not be stalled in some ways because they are writing now with the imagined critique of the group sitting on their shoulder whispering in their ear?

In my most humble of opinions, something becomes lost when a writer begins picking words based on what they expect another’s reaction to be….and the end result is never as honest, rarely as good. If we stop writing what we know, what lives in our hearts, and only write what we think someone else wants to hear, the loss is too great to measure. Some of that is showing in the group, as well as a tad of frustration. I’d like to see the critique return to more of the suggestions such as “Would you consider using “twisted in the wind” here instead of “dangling by a thread” rather than blanket statements that it needs to be rewritten in the third person or if it’s worked on some more, it will be better. Sometimes as writers we need that communal nudge to get us going and it’s often just the right word from someone else that takes us there, not the generalized “it needs work” directive.

And at the end of the night, I hope the talented folks that attend these sessions leave remembering that the songs they bring to share are still THEIR songs, no matter what. That alone makes them worthy. I’ve yet to have heard one that has made me cringe, none that I would never want to hear again. I always enjoy listening to every one of them. I am always in awe of the creativity in the room. My hope is it continues.

Rupert and I Get "Herded"

There are various routes I take with Rupert on our walks in the campground, depending on the weather, where the mud puddles are, and if it’s warm enough for him to swim or not.

It has rained a lot and been cold, so we’ve been keeping to the fields at the top of the hill, away from the muddy roads around the lake. In the middle of one field of grass early one morning last week a black and tan collie dog came bounding out of the woods. Its speed and grace surprised both of us. Rupert immediately sat by my side and we watched as the collie circled us.

I was initially concerned as there are coyotes and wild dogs about, but I could hear the jangle of dog tags as this beautiful animal raced around us. Rupert’s head whipped back and forth as he watched it, only once glancing up at me as if to say, “Pretty cool, Mom, huh?”.

The circles the collie made were getting smaller and smaller as it kept us where it wanted us. I began to wonder what was going to happen when there were two shrill whistles from somewhere off in the woods and the collie hightailed it back where it came from. Rupert and I stayed put for a minute, puzzled by what had just happened, then continued on with our walk.

Yesterday we walked through that field again. No sign of the collie, but half way through the field Rupert stopped and pointed….something he rarely does. It made me laugh out loud. He remembered our being “herded”. I think he was trying to tell me that he was going to be prepared this time. For what, I don’t know. We didn’t have time really to react to the collie, it all happened so quickly. It was actually kind of cool. I wish I knew who owned the dog. I’d love to tell him how much fun it was to get “herded”.

My Gang Revisited

I somehow knew that getting together with my old high school pal Carol would eventually lead to reuniting with the rest of the gang. And I was right. She arranged a dinner with three of the others; the only one not around is Roland, who lives in Florida. But Margaret Ann and Mark met us for dinner. Hubby joined us, certain he would be bored to tears. He needed not have worried. He loved getting to know the old gang.

We were celebrating Mark’s graduation (a second degree at 56), new job, and successful completion of a rehab program. I had to laugh when we spent most of the evening remembering some of the antics we pulled off in high school that involved alcohol and/or illegal substances. Margaret Ann is still the same sweet, adorable girl I remembered, welcoming and accepting. It felt as though no time had passed, even though it had been more than 35 years since we’d all seen each other.

We remembered a lot. As Margaret Ann said, “Collectively, we remember it all.” And I think that’s important. There’s a certain comfort to be found in remembering how we started out, and we can use that to measure how far we’ve come and nod our heads and know it’s not such a bad thing. We had some interesting turns along the way, but none of us got really lost, at least not lost enough to not be able to find our way out again.

I’m thankful Carol has felt the urge to arrange such reunions, even though I’ve fought so hard to avoid them. I’d like to see these guys again. Carol and I share the same birthday and we made vague plans to get together next year to celebrate together, all of us. I hope we do. I was surprised how easy it was to be with them all again. I always consider myself the outsider, but they made me feel at home, just the way they did back in high school. They felt like family…..the good family. I needed them desperately back then. Not so much now, but it still felt great to be around them anyway. I’ve so much to thank them for, and they probably don’t even realize it. And they wouldn’t care. And that’s what is so great about them. Then and now.

What I Miss Most About Not Working

It’s not the money. It’s not having what some might consider power. It’s not the fancy title or the office with windows or any of the perks that come with a job.

I miss being able to call in sick. Or rather, to call in “well”. You know, those days when you’re just feeling a little bit crappy and you just don’t want to bother with anything. You’re not really sick enough to go to the doctor or anything. You just don’t want to be responsible for anything. So you call in and everybody leaves you alone for awhile. I miss that.

Now I still have a dog that doesn’t understand that I really don’t feel like going for a walk or tossing the Frisbee or care that his water dish might be empty at the exact minute he thinks he needs a drink. And although I adore my husband and cooking for him, sometimes I just don’t want to make a mess of the kitchen or even have to think about what to defrost and cook that night. Sometimes I don’t want to have to put a bra on or stop reading the book on my night table. And I’m perfectly happy to allow the dust bunnies to procreate on any given day. Or leave the phone on “silent” and unplug the computer.

This “job” I have now doesn’t allow for calling in “well”. If my former assistant Janet should read this, I’m certain she’d remind me how very lucky I am to not have to be working and say some other choice words to me, so now I am even ashamed that I’ve written this. That shame will pass before I’m done typing this, but probably not my regret that I can’t call in “well” some day.