Measured Extravagance

2001-02-26 - 8:43 p.m.

Tomorrow's going to be a long haul of a day, so I'm going to bed early and lulling myself to sleep with fantasies of changing my name to Jeanne-Marie and writing dadaist masterpieces in a garret above a patisserie somewhere in the Low Countries. I know that the grass isn't really greener on the other side of the pond, but there's something to be said for all of that mandatory holiday time, and at least the European Union is trying to do something about the decency gap created by His Fraudulency's reinstatement of the global gag rule.

Still, there's a definite sense of spring here in Nashville - I didn't need my coat yesterday, and today I spent my lunch hour perched on the edge of the loading dock, reading magazines and basking in the sunshine. At yesterday's services, there were purple irises and red tulips next to the chalice, reflecting the greens and violets and chiffons and other spring colors/textures people were wearing.

When I arrived, the pianist was practicing Jeanne Cotter's arrangement of Beethoven's "Hymn to Joy." It sparkled through the sanctuary and the halls... Susan mentioned that she had played it for a funeral some time ago - I'm thinking I may want it for mine, along with "Dear Weaver of our Lives' Design," Salomone Rossi's Kaddish, and the first movement of Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 30. Part of me is tempted to request a memorial concert instead of a wake - I wouldn't mind also including "Just As Long As I Have Breath", and more Rossi, and the Goldberg variations, and Purcell's "Come All Ye Songsters of the Sky" and Donato's "All Ye Who Music Love" and Berlioz's "La Spectre de la Rose" (Brigitte Balleys' rendition) and Rameau's "Fanfarinette" and perhaps even the benediction from gospel choir ten-odd years ago (I'd have to find it again to teach it, as it was taught entirely by ear):

    Now unto you who are able
    to keep us from falling
    from slipping away...

Let's see, what else did I learn yesterday? That one of the women next to me has been quietly enduring multiple sclerosis for the past year. That another woman in choir is currently battling with her school principal over the fate of her high school's spring play: Y. cast a goth kid in the lead for Dracula. Kid also happens to be a practicing "white witch." The principal doesn't approve of this and ordered Y. to recast the show. Y. refused. Y. doesn't know what's going to happen next.

One of best friends from high school calls herself a "born-again pagan." She's swotting away at her certification portfolio right now, and since I live too far away to offer neckrubs or bring over casseroles, I've promised her I'll perform a dance to send good vibes her way. (Her response: "Just as long as you don't get it confused with the rain dance...")

Some years back, when rehearsing the "Dies Irae" in Mozart's Mass in c minor, Robert Spano told the musicians, "It doesn't matter what you usually believe - when you perform this movement, YOU ARE ALL CATHOLIC." That's like to how I feel about dances (and candle-lightings, for that matter): deistic inclinations aside, I'm not lovey-dovey enough to be a pagan, even if I do feel the occasional need to apologize to a tree or two. But when I dance for D. and for Y., I'll put aside what I do not really believe. During my dance, I'll believe in the power of focused hope and the sharing of energy - that my gestures can translate into someone else's reserve of strength, that transformation does not necessarily depend on a directly connecting with b, even though my conscious mind will insist it again and again and ever.

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