Saturday, August 18, 2007

Things I Have Learned From My Brothers

That pyromaniacy starts with candles.

That ‘family sized’ means “there’s a whooole heap of them”

“We have here two legs, two wings and two thighs.” “Um…Cat… What you have is a hollow chicken.”

Awesomeness is measured by the volume of your belch. Or how much you know about trucks. Or demolition. Or how much you can eat. Or how many mouth noises you can make.

On the other hand, (and this is why it’s great to be a girl) awesomeness is measured by how good dinner was and how big a hug a boy can get after scaring the life out of you. Or by the fact that you can fix a favorite shirt. Or because you can pick up a ten year old, who in turn, can pick you up.

Success is measured by how dirty you are at the end of the day.

“The ancient Egyptians didn’t use the bathroom!” Oh, but they did. If you’re human, you use the bathroom….” Well, they didn’t have toilets. How do you use the bathroom without a toilet?” (Of course, they had flushable toilets, but he’s 4)

Never is only about 3.2 seconds.

Forever is only about 2.6 seconds.

Irish drinking songs are the best for car rides. It sure beats singing “100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall” with someone who can’t count.

There’s nothing better than watching a four foot construction fall to the ground with a crash.

There’s nothing worse than watching a four foot construction fall to the ground with a crash.

Humour is defined by how hard the other guy hits the ground.

Who needs discretion when you have an ER?

Reasonable is questionable.

Never think first. That will only stop you. You will never find out if umbrellas can really carry you gently to the ground from the roof if you first ask yourself “is this dangerous?” or “would Mom approve?” Always remember: it’s easier to get forgiveness than permission. Especially when dealing with women.

It’s always lunchtime. (Indeed, it is!)

If you run into a wall accidentally, the best thing to do is to run into to it again.

“Push Dom, and Dan falls”

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Crystal Clear Confusion and a History of me That Isn't Mine at All... What to do next?

Six years ago, my sisters and I needed Music/Art credit for high school. I know the most about music in my family (which isn't saying much) so just thinking about how we were going to get that credit made my mother cringe. My mother's friend, Mr. Mark, for future reference, has a Ph.D. in Medieval Liturgy (and a couple of other things) and had wanted to start a Children's Schola for a while. So he did. And we got our credit.

The choir was a God-send to me. Quite literally, though I had no clue of that at the time. It gave me an outlet which was desperately needed and a foundation which I didn't even know was being built. I had always loved music. That I loved chant was no surprise to me, probably not to anyone else either for that matter. I had been singing in the choir at Mass since I was 6 or 7. Hmm. In retrospect, that in general, is probably not a good idea (especially since the choir sat to the side of the altar, not in a loft) but I think it was good thing for me. Maybe that sounds high strung or concieted; it isn't meant to, but children should probably not be allowed to do that- I was - it was a good thing for me. I wouldn't let my kid do that. But now the history and theory of chant was being explained to me and it made me love it even more.

We were taken to a Chant conference in Auburn, AL (the same one I took people to in Feb.) where I met Dr. William Mahrt, professor of Music History at Stanford; Mr. Scott Turkington, Choir Master and Organist for St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in (Jill, I love you) Stamford, Conneticut- the man has his own Wikipedia entry - Mr. Jeffery Tucker and Mrs. Arlene Oost-Zinner from Auburn ( ).

On an impulse, I applied to Southern Catholic College. On an impulse, I applied for a music fellowship- mainly chant, because that's what I know best. Impulsiveness... not a great thing- but God uses all things and He definitely used that. As soon as I sent off the package, I realized what I had done. I regretted it. I got the acceptance letter. I visited the school.

At the end of February, I went to Auburn for the annual conferrence. On the second day, my mother called me and told me that the fellowship letter had come. I had gotten it. My first thought was "oh dear. what have I gotten my impulsive self into now? I am such an idiot." My second thought was "Well, there's not a better place I could have found out..." I managed to catch Mr. Turkington and speak to him for a minute to ask his advice. He, of course, was very excited and made a big deal out of it. He gave me the Graduale Romanum, a book I had been wanting for ages and costs in between $50 and $60 but has to ship from France. He gave me many good tips and lots of encouragement- which I really needed. He also told me about a program at Catholic U that I should go to.

The course at Catholic U was too expensive for me. I emailed the professor to see if scholarships were offered and he told me that he would pay for me to take it. I just needed to get there and find a place to stay. My mother's friend's best friend lives in D.C. She arranged it so that I could stay with her. Somehow, and I have no idea how, I managed to come up with enough money to get there. So I went to D.C. for a three week summer intensive course in Gregorian chant pedagogy, where I learned an incredibly amazing amount of things, thanks to Fr. Skeris. The final was conducting a peice for a Mass in the crypt of the Basillica. Just a small, private Mass, but by the end, there were probably 100 or more people gathered around to hear it.

While I was in D.C., met even more people and ran into people I knew already- Mr. Turkington, who was teaching another class there; and Mrs. Oost-Zinner, who was in my class (kind of interesting: there were nine people in my class and three were from Alabama).

This summer, I honestly thought I was not going to be able to afford to go back to SCC. No, I WAS not going to be able to afford to go back. But Dr. Combee- God bless him!- fixed that. The problem was not paying- the problem was loans. I do not want to come out with more than the $5000 debt that I already have. I would much rather take a semester off and work than take more loans. I'm majoring in Literature and Theology and- this sounds kind of silly- but really, I've never actually wanted to do anything except be a mom and study. I like studying. I can see myself in school for a while. And so can lots of people who know me. But since I am a girl, and there is a possibility that I could get married and become a stay at home mom, I just don't think it's a good idea to take loans. Plus, even if I don't get married, I don't think it's a good idea to take loans. Nothing I have any interest in pays enough to justify that; they barely pay enough to survive. So Dr. Combee made it where I pay more than I did last year, but have no loans(he was actually going to give me loans, but I didn't take them). Then I realized that last semester, I was working 17 hours a week- not ten- and had not thought about that when saying I could pay that much. I was really kind of upset and worried about it. Then Mrs. Debell called. And I'll be working 19 hours a week, plus minimum wage went up.

That things have so providentially worked out for me is scary. Very scary. When I was kid and even still now sometimes, things just never worked out. I just stopped hoping for things, eventually. I never once this summer hoped. I didn't give up, but I didn't expect or hope that things would work out. And then I get this? It's like ... I deserve a slap and get a kiss. Then, of course, there is the whole Luke 12:48 thing. What's expected of me? What if I fail? I received an email the other day: "The Lord places us and points in directions which he knows are best for us....Please remember that you are a part of a community of musicians and other churchmen who are committed to a restoration of the liturgy in our time, and that you may call on us when you are in need of help, advice or just a friendly voice." They consider me one of them. How very intimidating. These people have known and studied Chant for years, under the most impressive teachers: Dr. Marier, The choirmasters of Solesmes, the list goes on. And they think that I am an able and promising Church musician? (So they have said). I am overwhelmed when I think of this. I'm just an 18 year old college student with not a lot of musical training. I know I've been given this training that I have, these people that I know, and the experiences I've had for a reason, and yet I have no idea what it is.