Susie Soloed Tonight at Dominion’s Christmas Concert

Dominion’s three grades (sixth, seventh, and eighth) performed quite well, and the choice of music was quite eclectic, and there was enough mention of Christmas and the birth of Jesus to contradict anything you’ve heard about the mythical “war on Christmas.”  Despite having a sore throat, and missing school yesterday, Susie performed her solo of “This Christmas” excellently.  She was barely home from the show before compliments began popping up on her Facebook page.

The parents, in many cases, were another story…

When Susie was going to Dana Elementary, each class presented little Christmas skits, each lasting maybe five minutes at the longest.  Susie was in one of the lower grades, so her class’ play went close to the opening of the program.  I became quite irritated that the parents who came only seemed to listen and pay attention when their own children were onstage, and they jabbered all through the other performances, completely uncaring that other parents’ children were onstage and acting their little hearts out.  I was variously bored and amused by many of the other performances, but I did my best to respect the little thespians on the stage, and the feelings of the parents who had ventured out into the cold December night to hear them play.

I had the same experience tonight.  Since Steph was unable to come with me to the concert tonight, I brought along my trusty Kodak EasyShare camera and promised Steph I’d film the eighth-grade kids’ part of the concert, especially Susie’s solo.  (I couldn’t have recorded the entire concert, since the camera’s memory can accommodate only about 20 minutes of footage.)

I’m downloading the files to YouTube while I’m typing this entry, but I knew as I filmed it wouldn’t be professional quality at all.  One of these days I need to bite the bullet and get a tripod for this camera, because  you’ll be able to tell when my arm began to get tired, or when I had to shift the camera from one hand to the other.

Making matters worse was a woman sitting in front of me.  I sat in the center section, down toward the front, because the EasyShare’s zoom lens is not all that wonderful.  I was also afraid that if I sat too far back, all I’d film would be a stage full of silhouettes, and I’m not sure how sensitive the camera’s microphone is.

The woman in front of me was constantly rising up in her seat, shouting, “Sing it, honey!” to the stage–apparently one of her kids was in the choir–and I kept having to rise up higher in my seat so I would be filming the kids and not the back of her head.  Had I not been recording, I would have explained to her, most likely through gritted teeth, how people came to hear the kids, not her.  I’m sure her child was praying for a gigantic chasm to open in the stage floor and swallow him/her.  Mom obviously thought that middle-school Christmas concerts are supposed to be like The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

I wanted to add to the Christmas festivities by using this woman as a piñata.

There was a low rumble of chatter in pockets here and there behind me at some point during the entire performance.

The hour and a half before the concert had too much excitement for my liking.  Steph fixed a wonderful sloppy joe sauce for dinner, and I knew I would be home for a maximum of 20 minutes before Susie and I headed out to catch the COTA bus to Dominion.  Steph and Susie had both eaten by the time I arrived home, so I inhaled three sloppy joes and then Susie and I left to walk to the bus stop.  We lucked out, and a bus came up North 4th St. within five minutes.  (This was fortunate, since it was about 14º F. outside.)  We came aboard the bus, and before we had passed the first stop, Susie realized, to her horror, that she had forgotten the bag with her clothes for the performance.  I signaled for a stop, and told Susie to go ahead and ride the bus on up to Dominion.

I got off the bus and ran like mad back to the bus stop, because Susie said she may have left the bag there.  No bag, so I panicked.  There was one other possibility; the bag was on the kitchen floor.  I burst in through the back door (and probably shortened Steph’s life by about seven years), and almost collapsed from relief, because there was the bag with her concert clothes.  I turned right around and ran back to the bus stop, and was blessed by the sight of another bus coming north within minutes of my arrival.  Susie was frantically looking for me at the school–I heard from three of her friends, independently, that she was looking for me.  I handed off the bag of clothes to her, and she immediately dashed into a restroom to get out of her jeans and sweatshirt and into concert attire.

An emergency can drive you to unheard-of feats of strength and endurance.  We’ve all heard the story about the frail woman who was able to pull a car off her son when it pinned him.  My run to pick up Susie’s clothes was the most athletic activity I’ve performed in days, and I did it while in a bit of pain.  Saturday morning, I was coming home with my two-wheel grocery cart.  I was coming home after buying food, and I must not have been pulling the cart properly, or I was holding my spine in a bad position, because after I came home and filled the cupboards, pantry, refrigerator, and freezer, I turned to put the cart back in its kitchen corner and there was a stabbing pain down my lumbar spine.  I did some chores around the house during the afternoon, some of which involving lifting, and I made a bang-zoom run to the library to return and pick up materials.

By the end of the afternoon, I was in such pain that I was swallowing ibuprofen tablets five or six at a time.  I even went through some boxes I never completely unpacked after the move, searching in vain for any Darvocet left over from the gallbladder surgery last February.  A Facebook friend scolded me for the excessive ibuprofen, telling me that I was jeopardizing my stomach lining and gastrointestinal tract if I was taking that much at once.

Sunday morning, the pain wasn’t much better.  I didn’t get out of bed until noon, and Susie headed up to church on the bus solo.  The first real snow of the season fell Sunday morning after sunrise, and although the sidewalks were icy (it had rained before the temperature dropped and snow began falling), I felt I had been confined to quarters too long, so I got out of bed, showered, dressed, and went downtown to the Main Library.

Two pictures of our street, mid-morning Sunday.
(Photos by Steph.)

Just being out in the fresh air–cold as it was–was quite a balm.  I had loaded up with my weight’s worth of ibuprofen, and it was at least having a placebo effect.  My mood improved when I ran into my friend John at the public computers on the third floor.  After he was done online, we compared union steward woes (we were both union stewards at Medco Health, and I spelled him as recording secretary several times) over cheeseburgers and Chicken Nuggets at the McDonald’s near Franklin University.  (I loaded up on so much Diet Coke during the talk that my hands had an almost Parkinsonian tremble by the time we left.)

Susie “pitched through her tears” when she soloed tonight.  She had a sore throat Monday and stayed home from school, and when the alarm rang this morning, neither she, nor Steph, nor I knew whether she should come to school.  She still had the sore throat, but she had no fever and was not coughing.  If she took today off, that would be no solo tonight.  I finally told her to go to school.  If she felt too wretched to complete the day, she could call me at work and I’d come get her and take her home on COTA.  I told her she would never forgive herself if she stayed home and felt better during the day, thus ending her chance to sing tonight.

As you can see, it all worked out for the best.  She sang well, and so did her classmates.  I’m pretty jaded when it comes to Christmas programs, but I almost wish I had recorded the seventh grade choir’s rendition of “Sing We Now of Christmas.”  (This was the first time I had ever heard the song with English lyrics.  I knew the melody, because I had heard Jan Peerce sing “Noel Nouvelet” on Great Songs of Christmas, an album that gas stations used to give out in December when I was a kid.)  They did a great job with this carol, which I really enjoyed.  The song is quite repetitious, but it’s pretty enough that this doesn’t grate on your nerves.

The Dominion Ensemble Choir performed excellent renditions of very secular songs (such as Toto’s “Africa” and Van Halen’s “Jump”) sandwiched in between “Carol of the Bells” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”

A good concert, but it didn’t flow as well as one at Washington School when I was in grade school.  Between selections, teachers would read the Nativity story in different languages, with English last.  I remember one boy singing a solo of “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” while wearing a sailor’s cap–this was while the Vietnam War was still happening, so it struck close to home to quite a few kids there.  And the show ended with Washington School’s orchestra playing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” and making it sound like a dirge.

I may be posting my video footage of the concert in a day or two.  YouTube’s upload is quite slow.  I think a courtroom sketch artist could produce a finished product a lot faster than this.  I think a sculptor could.

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Winter is icummen in, Lhude sing Goddamm

I am really not in the habit of quoting demented anti-Semites in my blog (especially on the first night of Hanukkah), but snow flurries were falling when I stepped out the door for work this morning, so Ezra Pound’s poem seemed appropriate.  The official start of the winter solstice is still three weeks away, but since snow has fallen, that’s close enough for me.

Snow and books bracketed my day today.  I hit the snooze one time too many when the alarm on my cell phone rang this morning, so I had to hurry through showering, getting dressed, and making my way out the door.  I wasn’t even completely dry when I stepped onto my porch.  I was wearing a hoodie when I left, but when I saw the snow falling, I turned right around and grabbed my winter coat and my gloves.  While walking to the bus stop, I called my supervisor and told her I’d be just a little behind schedule.  (This used to happen so often that I used to call and say, “I’ll have the usual!”)  Arriving a little late means a shorter lunch hour.

I did some volunteer work after dinner tonight.  One of Sporeprint Infoshop‘s offerings is a lending library, and it is in dire need of organization.  Jeremy, a union organizer, posted a notice on Facebook asking people to come for a “Spore Library Work Session.”  The selection of books there is quite varied, and there is quite a catholic (lower-case C) assortment of writings from the radical and anarchist Left.  The bookshelves take up almost the entire west wall, and curve over toward the center of the main room.

Misfiled and disorganized books are a mixed bag.  I have gone into bookstores in search of a particular volume, and, while searching for it, I’ve found a treasure completely out of the blue.  If it had been shelved where it belonged, I never would have encountered it.  On the other hand, I realize the truth of the librarians’ maxim: A mis-shelved book is a lost book.

A mis-shelved book at Sporeprint is not necessarily gone forever.  Their selection is not as vast as Ohio State’s, or Widener Library at Harvard, or even our own Columbus Metropolitan Library, but one careless person putting a book in the wrong place, with no indication of where the book belongs, can cause a person to waste much time searching for it.

The project is not finished–far from it–but Jeremy set up a good system.  He armed us with small stickers (to go on the books’ spines).  I brought a stack of books from one shelf, and then looked inside the book.  Just past the title page, I’d search for the Library of Congress call number, which publishers usually (but not always, as we learned!) print along with other cataloging information.  (An example: I just pulled down Allen Ginsberg’s Journals Mid-Fifties.  Its call number is PS3513.174Z473 1995.)

Another person, Ben, stood by at one of Sporeprint’s two PCs.  He pulled up the Library of Congress‘ Website, and we made a pile of all the books that had no call numbers printed inside.  He would take each book and type the title into the database, and then make call number stickers based on what came up.

We worked until about 8:45, and made tentative plans to continue the project in a week or two.  I was a little disappointed, because I was on a roll, and having a blast looking for the call numbers and writing them on the small stickers.  My only complaint was that I had bad luck with my pens.  They either didn’t write, or wrote too lightly, or the ink would smear no matter how gently you handled the books.  I looked like the President signing a new bill into law.  He uses several pens when doing this, so he can give them away as souvenirs.

I may have gotten even more work done if I had a two-liter of Diet Pepsi at my elbow, but that’s a no-no tonight.  I’ll be going back to the Martha Morehouse Medical Plaza tomorrow morning (taking a vacation day from work) and getting another MRI, another MRI that they’ll pay me for, not vice versa.  They sent me an email saying I should lay off caffeine for 12 hours prior to the examination.  (It’s a cardiac MRI, and I’m going to earn the money this time.  They’re giving me an IV dye and putting me on the treadmill this time.  The last time I was just on my back with my head in a dryer-like apparatus, listening to WOSU-FM the entire time.)

In the evening, I’m heading to the Linden area to pick up an IBM Wheelwriter, the first electric typewriter I’ve ever owned.  (The soon-to-be-ex-owner and I have been exchanging emails and playing phone tag about my picking this machine up since I saw on Columbus Freecycle that he had it available for anyone who wanted it.)

My current audiobook at work is reflective, I suppose, of the volunteer work I did tonight.  I finished Dracula this afternoon, and began Allison Hoover Bartlett’s The Man Who Loved Books Too Much, the story of Charles Gilkey, a man who was a notorious book and document thief, not because of the vast fortune it would bring, but out of a obsession with owning and hoarding books, where bibliophilia crossed over into bibliomania, which is classified as an obsessive-compulsive disorder.  It’s a form of hoarding, much like the person who dies in a cluttered house with 30+ cats and each room stacked floor to ceiling with yellowing back issues of The New York Times.