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Providence blinked

December 28, 2009

I am getting behinder and behinder here. For one thing, I owe you the second post on the Bûche de Noël, which I’ve started, but have not yet finished. The short version: Day one went very smoothly. Day two did not. The end result, however, was tolerably attractive (thanks, in large part, to Mr. Spy’s efforts) and extremely delicious. And I have a boatload of mocha meringue buttercream in my freezer, in case of emergencies. It tastes exactly like chocolate mousse.

It has been snowing a lot, but finally stopped yesterday afternoon, just as we’d decided that we were going to be snowed out of the party we were supposed to attend in the city last night. We had cancelled our plans, and then we uncancelled them, and it’s lucky we did, because we had a great time.

The party was thrown by the friend of the girlfriend of Mr. Spy’s best friend (got that?). He lives in a swank high rise in the Gold Coast with marble floors and glass walls overlooking the city and art. It was a small gathering — I think there were 13 of us. I knew half of them very well. These included Mr. Spy’s two best friends and their girlfriend and spouse, respectively, as well Marth MacGyver and her husband (who is Mr. Spy’s friend’s brother. Are you still paying attention?) The other half I’d never met before, but it was an interesting mix of people. One is someone who used to host a food show I used to watch. She made the appetizers and they were delicious. Another was a frankfurter tycoon. Really! But my favorite was an ex football player for the local NFL franchise. He hosts a series of sports commentary shows now. The thing that was exciting about meeting him is that his name was one of AJ’s first words. We had to tell him the story about how Mr. Spy has been known to talk to the TV during football games, and how AJ, when he was a baby, used to laugh every time Mr. Spy said this particular player’s name. So of course we said it to AJ a lot. And pretty soon, he started saying it back. And the other exciting thing about meeting this football player? I was almost as tall as he was.

The food was delicious, especially Martha MacGyver’s cookies. The host was a master of hosting, an expert at wandering around and staging introductions and keeping the conversation from falling into a lull. And even though he once tried to liven things up by asking Mr. Spy and I first how we met and then how long it took us “to get naked,” somehow, he could get away with such a question. And few could.

We would have liked to stay a little longer, but we had left AJ at his grandmother’s and we had early morning things to do the next day, so we could not.

This morning, I sprang to action and cleaned the house and cooked lunch in honor of a visit from Mr. and Mrs. Permanent Qui Vive and their two lovely daughters. Mr. PQV and I went to school together and he sang in a group I conducted for a while. I knew Mrs. PQV through him. I haven’t seen either of them in nearly 15 years. It was absolutely lovely to see all of them and to meet their daughters, who were really fun to talk to. AJ thought so too, given the large amount of giggling that was going on all afternoon.

After we said goodbye to the PQV family (and I sincerely hope it will not take another 15 years before we see each other next), I headed off to teach three lessons at the School of Rock. My adult student was first. He had expressed frustration with bowing, so we woodshedded a gavotte and he made real progress in 30 minutes, which was fun to watch. My second student, 7-year-old T, cracks me up. He loves violin and gets really excited about it. Consequently, he’s good for about the first 20 minutes. By the last ten, he’s so wound up that we end up playing games to get him to focus. “Put your violin in rest position,” I say. I put my violin under my arm to show him. He puts it on his head. “Is this rest position?” he asks. “No, that’s hat position.” He giggles and moves the violin in front of his face, and peers over its waist. “Is this rest position?” “No, that’s mustache position.” And so on. Eventually I get him to sing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star with me using the letter names of the notes, but only after he has first sung it with the words “Jingle, Jingle little bell.” He plays the first phrase of the song flawlessly and it’s time for my next student, little 5-year-old N. N, always very serious, looks very tired today. She has an instrument that is too big for her, but the replacement hasn’t yet come in. When it’s clear she’s running out of gas, I have her help teach her mother how to play. Her mother does very well. I think she’d like to take lessons too.

Conducting and teaching one-on-one require similar skills — thinking on your feet to solve problems. You have to go with your gut. There isn’t a lot of time for pondering. I am a ponderer in many areas of my life, so maybe that’s why I like this kind of work so much. I like figuring things out as I go. There’s still time to reflect. I have a week before I see them all again, a week in which I can think about the best approach for next time. It is the best of both worlds, really.

And now, if you will excuse me, I must watch R.E.M.: This is not A Show. Because a day that ends with R.E.M. is a good day.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. December 29, 2009 1:43 pm

    I didn’t realize you hadn’t seen the PQVs for 15 years…that makes the relationship something like that of imaginary friends, except with a more defined starting point.

  2. December 29, 2009 1:50 pm

    I didn’t realize it had been that long either. It was rather an alarming discovery after we did the math.

  3. crankygirl permalink
    December 29, 2009 2:31 pm

    I like reading about your lessons–they sound like fun for everyone involved.

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