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Dear Diary–I have so little going on I’m writing about ennui

Posted by joeabbott on February 19, 2012

OK, I’m not really writing about boredom but perhaps tedium. Little is worse than working so much that it become the focus of my “what’s been going on” posts. But there you have it. Fortunately, I see a light at the end of the tunnel.

My job is to manage schedules and coordinate work. Yup, never thought I’d be writing that after getting my college degrees but, in a continuation of overusing overused phrases: there you have it. And, at work, we’re still settling out our “2012” plans. To be transparent, our 2012 plans have repercussions into 2013, so I’m not chagrinned to be talking about such things here in mid- to late-February, but it’s taking a bit longer than we had hoped. By EOM we should have a pretty solid idea of what we’re doing and my team has their marching orders for the next month and a half … and so, my days look to be my own here coming up.

Had I mentioned I’m an optimist?

I whined to Suzanne the other day that I was behind on blogging and yet had nothing to talk about. “I haven’t done anything”, I puled! She reminded me of the play and concert we saw last weekend and I realized that what I meant was: I haven’t climbed any mountains or built anything in the shop lately. And by “lately”, I mean in a very long while. This too shall pass.

In my Eleven from ‘Eleven post, I hinted a project I had lined up for the front room: building a storage unit/bookshelf. This has been on my mind for a while and it looks like I’m about to embark on building it this April or May. In my “Spring Vacation” week. It will be both challenging and very fun. I’m quite looking forward to it. Stay tuned!

But, what have I done lately? Well, there was that play and concert from last weekend …

That play: Oklahoma!

imageimageNow this was a bit of a mind bender.

Oklahoma! has the potential to be just about the most tired musical you could imagine: hokey characters, tunes just about anyone could hum, and events that are things of the past (hoedowns and lunch basket auctions). And yet, for feel-good entertainment, that’s just the sort of thing you can turn to. And yet, for all that should have been familiar, this is not a show I remember.

I’d read a review so I was expecting the role of Jud to be played by a black man. While that (hopefully) elicits a shrug these days and a “so what” sort of response, the rivalry between Curly and Jud over Laurey makes race in this otherwise-mostly-white-bread play pop. While I’m not sure I understand how the scene in which Curly tries to talk Jud into killing himself make sense regardless of color, the cringe-worthy act of Curly tossing a rope over a sturdy beam and asking a black man to hang himself can only recall lynching episodes in our Nation’s darker history.

But the scene comes and goes quickly, not asking the actors or the audience to dwell on the parallels, but Laurey’s “nightmare scene” takes on lurid proportions in which she’s chased and finally captured by Jud. As Suzy said at intermission: “that went on a bit too long.”

The second to the last scene, in which the intoxicated Jud attacks Curly with a knife just after Curly marries Laurey, is also race-aware. I may be telling too much, but Jud is killed by his own blade as he falls in the fight and Curly is accused of murder. A kangaroo court ensues in which the Federal Marshall is put aside as the local judge proceeds with the trial; another man tells the Marshall, “we ain’t gonna send Curly to jail on his wedding night”. Frontier justice, that. But, we can rest our collective conscience as the only other black man on stage is the one to raise his hand in support of the all-but-proclaimed verdict of “not guilty” as a witness to the fact that Curly acted in self-defense. He did, but it was hard to watch the less-than-partial proceedings.

And then in the very next scene we see the bride and groom climb into their little surrey with a fringe on top and head out into a beautiful morning. A little hard for me to switch emotional gears that quickly.

Carping aside, however, the voices and lighting were things to marvel at. In the opening scene you hear a clear, flawless voice singing “Oh What a Beautiful Morning” and you can scarcely believe that person producing those beautiful sounds is the little chap in a cowboy hat and boots standing in front of you. The actress who played Laurey had an equally peerless voice, hitting the high notes and holding tunes with crystal clarity. Perhaps the best singing I’d heard.

The lighting struck me as the wonderful, too. Perhaps because the set had the potential to be a dark, lap-board barn sorta piece, I loved what they did with the subtle pinking of the lights to simulate sun-up, a brilliant azure for the afternoons, and dusky purple hues as evening creeps in. From the bright daytime to the dark interior of Jud’s smokehouse and Laurey’s shadowy dream world, the lighting really pulled the viewer into the experience.

Overall it was a good show but not sure the experiments done with the cast played out; I could be wrong, however, as the actor portraying Jud got the loudest applause (including my clapping) for his nicely done part.

… and concert: Rainier Symphony Classical Concert Two

imageI’m quite enjoying the season tickets we got for the Rainier Symphony. First, the cost for season tickets for five concerts is $65. Sure, more than I have in my wallet at most times but easily worth it. Next, we can show up for either the Saturday or Sunday shows on the weekend the concert is playing; I love that convenience. Finally, they’re amazingly good!

I’ll go into details about what piece we heard and who played, but I’ll be honest … it’s all just lovely lovely music to me.

For the last couple of concerts we had sat in back, the better to look down on the stage and get the wash of music as it rushed into the room, but this time we chose to sit up front. And I’m happy for that decision: I was able to see more details, the music was still marvelous, and we had fewer people around us.

Unfortunately, one of the people we did have around us not only got a call during one of the pieces, but she actually took it! Right behind us and over two or three seats. I was very nearly going to give her the eye or a lecture, but I let it be. Probably the best decision (when does the rudeness stop if we’re all trying to dish out lessons?) and yet I’m still annoyed by it. More the thought of taking a call during a concert than the distraction it caused.

But I’m hyper-focusing on a minor detail.

After the first piece (Schumann Manfred Overture), music director David Waltman, again at the helm, shared a story around the piece and introduced the next number, a harp and flute concerto appropriately enough titled Concerto for Harp and Flute by Mozart. And this was one of the reasons I was delighted with our decision to sit up front.

I’ve never seen a harpist at work, but Ruth Mar was behind the strings and what a treat. When Waltman introduced her, he commented that her hands barely moved and “50” wonderful sounds would come out … well, he was clearly sitting in the back rows as we previously had! Get a seat up front, David!

When you get a good view, her hands are fluidly moving over the strings, deft fingers finding the right place to pluck, and while I agree there’s an economy to her overall movements, her hands are in alive on the strings. And who can’t like harp? Just a wonderful sound. Ruth was accompanied (partnered with?) Shari Muller-Ho on the flute and it was a great piece. I was clearly focusing on the harp, but the consistent, clear, well-played flute parts allowed me that distraction. What a wonderful distraction it was.

That was it

Suzy and I enjoyed both shows in one day, Saturday, and I went in to work the following Sunday. She was on business travel Monday through Thursday, so our respective Valentine’s Days were spent alone save for cards and the phone call we shared. The week went quickly but I find that I take up a very small space in the world without having her to share it with.

I get up, feed the cats, prepare my lunch, leave for a long day at work, and on getting home I do a quick half hour of chores before retiring to read or play a game. Rinse and repeat. I noticed that the bed remained all but made save for the small corner of covers I’d lift to enter or pull back to get out in the morning. I’d eat poorly: a toasted bagel one night, some rice another, potatoes on Wednesday. It just feels like a small life without her.

This weekend I did end up going into work on Saturday but finished before noon. I got home, enjoyed a short nap, and then we went out on errands: picking up plants for the start of the spring gardening season, shopping for foods for a real meal, and a quick bite out. Today, Sunday, the sun isn’t out, but the clouds are so high and even that the day is bright and we’ll spend time outside. Time to expand my world a bit and take up a little more space. It’s good to have her home.

But before I start living large, I get crepes for breakfast!

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