Unusually Good

One thing you learn the hard way when you pursue something seriously – such as playing the French horn really really well – is that there are days when everything just works. There’s very little effort, you sound great, it all just flies. And it’s very easy to internalize those ‘best days’ as ‘normal’ – the default setting for how you play. But reality is that that’s the peak of a wave – and you’re going to have days when nothing works and everything’s a struggle, and other days that are somewhere in-between. So you learn the hard way to enjoy those great days while appreciating that that’s not the ‘normal’.

There were several days over the last week or so that were that high level of ‘yes, this is what life is supposed to be like’. We had an unusually social and fun weekend, for instance. The last piece of cleanup from my recent ‘get a new will’ project was to get C to sign some power of attorney documents. That needed to be notarized, and our friend Miss Evita is a notary, and I needed to take C out for a belated birthday dinner anyway, so we invited her out to Jackson Heights for that and had a wonderful evening at Romeo’s. The last time we’d been there was for our anniversary, and had been lured away from the standard Italian menu by the specials – and while that was good, I was determined this time to get what I wanted, dammit. Including pasta and booze, both of which I have been avoiding since September. So I had a cosmo and then a glass of wine, and had a really good salad and a scallop appetizer (that was a special – and had I realized how much sauteed spinach came with the scallops, I could have skipped the salad), and then rigatoni with a delicious tomato-based sauce with bacon. Tartuffo for dessert. Fantastic.

Sunday, C and I went to the closing performance of Blue Hill Troupe’s Urinetown, their first show since the pandemic. For some reason, the matinee was at noon (very early). Since C has these mobility issues now, a lot of thought had gone into where we should sit (right up front) and how to avoid the significant staircase to get to the theater level (there’s an elevator, but you have to know it’s there). Anyway, that all worked out fine, saw some lovely friends in the audience I hadn’t seen in person in a long time, and the show was really good. We’d seen Urinetown on Broadway (I looked it up, it was like 20 years ago. Oy.) and hadn’t particularly liked it – and this rewatch confirmed that neither of us like the show, although it does have a lot of fourth-wall breaking and meta commentary of the sort that usually tickles me completely. But the production was excellent. It was directed by one of my favorite people, who I’ve worked with many times, and the cast was full of my friends and was at such a talent level that many of the chorus and side characters were actors who’d been front and center very successfully in other shows.

BHT had made care to check vaccination status for everyone, and BHT president Jackie announced from the stage that if you wanted to do the traditional Hi to the Cast after the show, do it outside. Well, no way we could do that with C not able to stand for any length of time, so after the show we just skedaddled and I made my apologies and ‘you were great”s to the cast via social media.

Because of the weird timing of the show, it’s was now 3:00 and we were starving. I suggested we go to our new favorite French bistro in East Elmhurst (we had to take a cab regardless, so we could have gone anywhere), and C suggested that we go to the Greek place right next door instead. I’ve been going to Plaka Grill for lunch for forever, am on a first-name basis with the manager, but C had never been. So we went there and had a great late lunch – he had lentil soup and spanokopita and I had avgolemono soup and pastitsio. (again, off my diet, and I had a glass of wine too) Pastitsio is one of the few things I can make, but hadn’t made it in forever, and boy, this was delicious.

And then we went home and did some Xmas decorating (yes, we have already finished decorating for Xmas. C wanted to give himself a lot of time, and then he got inspired, so it didn’t take that long). And by dinnertime, we weren’t hungy, so I just put out some cheese and nuts and that was that. We watched Shang-Chi, which was a blast.

And then at work, suddenly a lot of things that had been keeping me from completing my regular task list fell away, and I was knocking stuff out right and left. Good thing too, as I’m off next week. I have a co-worker who I adore, but who pings me with every little thing and I’m trying to train her out of that. On Monday, I posted on our team channel ‘I need to be head down on this project today, so please email me rather than slack unless you need me to respond right away’. They did, which was awesome. I’m very much the introvert who gets drained by social interaction, especially if it’s spontaneous – and I’m easily distractable – so I’m very much in the camp of ‘if you just have a FYI, or have a question that doesn’t need to be answered now, that’s an email, not an IM”. I need to get better about just turning off Slack notifications for 20 minutes or whatever when I really need to focus on something.

What else is going on?

  • My cousin, who I haven’t seen since she was 4, but who’s a young lady now, contacted me to ask me to knit a baby blanket. (!!!) I’m delighted. I need to suggest some patterns to her and get going on that, but the baby’s not due until March.
  • Another similarly-aged young friend, daughter of old Philadelphia friends of mine, got married last year, but due to the pandemic, couldn’t have a Wedding. So they’re having a make-up first anniversary party in April, and we’re invited. That’ll be fun!
  • QUO is going great, with our Tchaikowsky 4. Unprompted, my friend Steven lent me a new horn case for a couple of months before I get my new one, and it’s really nice. I’m also coordinating and music-directing the brass group for the January “QUOtets” concert, nice to have a conducting project.
  • We did have a COVID scare in the brass section, which led to both me and one of the other hornists getting one of those “you’ve been within 6 feet of a COVID person for over 10 minutes” alerts on our phones. But I got one of those on-the-street free COVID tests, right by Rockefeller Center, on Wednesday and tested negative, thank goodness.
  • And that would have been horrible and horrible timing, as C and I are headed south for Thanksgiving week to visit Dad and Sam. This is the first time we both have gone down there (or flown anywhere) since Mom died two Januarys ago. It’s going to be weird and different – no Mom, for one thing – and C’s leg getting in the way, so he won’t be COOKING ALL THE TIME as per tradition. But we’re all adults and we’ll figure the food thing out, not a big deal.
  • Which reminds me, I meant to call yesterday and rent a wheelchair down there – and also research how one lines up a wheelchair at the airport – that needs to happen today. The wheelchair during the week probably won’t be needed much, unless we go outlet mall shopping, which we easily may do.

Um, other media consumption. Stillwater is a beautiful movie and I hope it gets some awards love. Tick Tick Boom is really great (we just watched it last night) and chock full of Broadway people. (My favorite was a now-middle-aged Danielle Ferland in a small role, but the diner “Sunday” sequence is deliberately full of fantastic cameos.) We just finished Season 5 of The Good Fight which has almost as many Broadway people as Tick Tick Boom, and is delightfully batshit. They lightened up on the “Schoolhouse Rock” cartoons this season, which was a good movie. We’ll be turning to Xmas movies as soon as we get back, which means I need to line up a list of Hallmarky movies to check out.

Yeah, that’s it for now. Maybe I’l have to time to blog during the week – certainly after Thanksgiving. (Happy Thanksgiving!)

PS yes, of course appalled by the Kyle Rittenhouse thing, and the news that a long-time friend and colleague of mine is now a virulent (get it?) anti-vaxxer, and a lot of other stuff going on. But there’s a lot of good stuff going on too. Nothing original to say. “Said by you, George!” Oh, shut up, Dot.

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