Huntington High School

Someone I went to high school with left a comment here yesterday! I love getting email from people that I went to high school with. Thanks to Echo and my books, I’m easy to find on the internet so I do hear from people from time to time. So fellow Huntington High School grads — email away! I love hearing from you.

PS: I’m trying to be all subtle about how old I am and people keep saying, “Oh, don’t worry about turning FIFTY,” and, “Hi Stacy! Happy 50th!!” Or, “Yeah, FIFTY is not such a big deal.” And so on. (Denial-busting meanies.) Okay. FIFTY, FIFTY, FIFTY. I surrender. I am as old as the hills and getting older as I type. Imagine that scene from about 50 million horror movies where the character suddenly ages to their true age, then turns into a skeleton, then dust, and then is blown away until there is nothing left. THAT’S ME. (In 12 more days. For now, I am still technically “in my forties,” which doesn’t sound as bad … as that other age.)

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Pet Wars

ME: Right this very second Finney is curled up and warm on my lap, as I drink my coffee and Echo.

My Friend Cricket: Right this very second Bean is curled up and warm on my lap, as I drink my coffee and Echo.

ME: Prove it. I want pictures. [So she sent me a picture of the most adorable Bean.]

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So I had to send her a picture of the most adorable Finney. Note that Cricket is wearing a blue tshirt and I am wearing a pink!

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Finney Relaxes in the Midst of Upheaval

Finney’s favorite new spot — where the air conditioner was. It’s coming back soon, though. It’s just getting cleaned. I’m sorry Finney!

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Meanwhile, as some of you know, I run an online BBS-type place called Echo. We’re upgrading to a new machine, and as always happens, things are not working quite right. I can’t go anywhere in the meantime while the wonderful people working on it continue to tinker and try to fix all the bugs.

So I will be inside again all day today (we started yesterday) going a little nuts. More voices of the dead. Is there anything really great on TV today? Oh! How is Barbaro (the favorite for the Preakness who was injured right at the start)?? I was crying and crying. Please tell me Barbaro is going to be okay.

Voices of the Dead

I’ve started listening to tapes of the Duke Parapsychology Lab scientists I’m going to be writing about. They were made 30 years ago by Sy Mauskopf and Michael McVaugh who wrote a history of parapsychology called The Elusive Science.

These tapes are a godsend. All of these people are dead now, so they’re great for getting some sense of their personalities. But listening to them is maddening at times. Mauskopf and McVaugh were after very different information than I am (not a better or worse thing). Something will come up and I’ll be screaming, “Yes! Ask them more about that!” And Mauskopf and McVaugh will let it drop and go off in another direction.

While it rained and thundered and stormed all day yesterday, I stayed inside and listened to the voices of the dead.

Bizarrely, that reminds me, I didn’t post about our choir’s performance of Elijah. It was one of the best experiences of my choir life. What can I say, we were just on. And when you hear how good you sound it’s so exciting you try even harder and it keeps spiraling upward, getting better and better and better. I cried twice during the performance it felt so great. The audience jumped to its feet the second we stopped. The soloists, who were great in the dress rehearsal the night before, were sublime.

Robert Gardner, the baritone who sang the part of Elijah, sang “It is enough” with such apparent genuine emotion it was like he was channeling all the world’s grace in the face of despair. He sent us the nicest letter. I don’t know if a soloist who has ever done this before. Here is his picture (which, by the way, doesn’t do him justice — I don’t think I exaggerate when I say every man and woman in the choir had a crush on him — you had to have been there, you would have developed a crush on him too, trust me).

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Here is the letter he wrote:

Dear John,

Thanks for this opportunity to bring Mendelssohn’s Elijah to life yet once again. Every time I revisit this piece it grows and develops. However, I can’t imagine this getting much better than the reading we gave it Friday night.

The crowd energy, by its sheer mass, but also by the attention we received from every individual from the back aisle standing room to those seated on the floor in front of us made it an incomparable night to remember and cherish. Elijah munched on their energy!

The chorus’s preparations were truly, truly world class (“evident” doesn’t even come close!). There is no question that, after singing with some of the best choruses in the world, that this Choral Society of yours on Friday night ranked among the best in the world in its tonal quality, conviction, clarity, versatility and strength. Every sung note until the very last was exactly as it should have been, giving the community you serve something tangible and honest. In so doing, we all have achieved that which any musician sets out to do. We served. Most choral environments are not able to give this piece its due attention, and your success in this is duly noted and has already been commented on in other circles. The Choral Society of Grace Church is invariably an environment where the world’s musical masterworks can be clearly heard without dishonest affectation or impedance. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for that.

All my very best to you and the Choral Society,
Robert Gardner

Fame

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I know I’m not saying anything new, but I keep noticing this: kids want to be famous, but just for the sake of being famous. Fame has always been attractive, but it used to be you wanted to DO something that you’d be recognized for in a big way. Like, “I want to be the first woman president.” I want to write the great American novel. I want to discover a new planet, etc.

The first few times I heard some young person say “I want to be famous” divorced from any accomplishment to bring them fame I assumed they just misspoke. “Famous for what,” I’d ask and then I’d learn that they just wanted to be famous. That was it. They didn’t want to do anything at all.

Maybe nothing has changed much. When I was growing up, only a few kids seemed to have a burning desire to do something in particular. A few more found something they wanted to do as we grew older. Those that never found their calling couldn’t hope for fame without accomplishment because that just didn’t happen then so much. So they went on to whatever job they eventually found, but it’s not like they loved their job. Being famous would be a lot more fun than some marketing job, or any one of a billion boring jobs.

So now that it’s possible, why not want it, if you don’t have a burning desire to do something in particular? Accomplishment is better than fame, but if you don’t have it in you, maybe fame is not so bad, if that’s what you want. Not everyone wants that.