Thursday, July 27, 2006

Making Mom proud, making my world cold

That's right, Mom... you'll like this one.

As a favor to my choir director at Fordham, I acquiesced to cantor a couple of masses at University Church this summer. Okay, so I'm getting paid for a couple of them, but whatever... I did one for free. Anyway, the first of these was this past Sunday, and I think it went well. Jane, of roommate fame, came by to see, and a couple of other folks from her department were there, as well as one of the girls who was in Vagina Monologues with me. It wasn't a particularly difficult mass or anything... it's just been a little while since I've cantored one of these, so I was a little nervous. I got there early, as planned, to meet with the nun who'd be playing for me, Sister Judith. She was nice, and she played well... that's really all I could possibly ask for from anyone I'm working with for the first time. We ran through the music, and we were ready to go. I only knew a couple of the songs, so I'd be sight reading the rest. Frankly, that makes it a little more fun for me... otherwise, it's a little dull. Before the mass, Sister Judith leaned over to me and whispered, "Are you nervous?" I smiled and said no. She said, "Good. Because when people are nervous, you can hear it over the radio." That's when it dawned on me, and I think she saw it. "You did know that this is going to be broadcast over the radio, right?" She had a look on her face that made me think she was regretting having told me. I shrugged. "Sure, yeah," I assured her, lying to a nun in church for what was definitely not the first time... I mean, come on... I grew up in catholic schools... lying to nuns in church was a sport for us when I was a kid. (Chrissie, you'll back me up on this one, right?)

Then, before I walked up to my podium to lead the opening hymn, an older gentleman apprached me and asked for my name, so that it could be announced during the broadcast. He also said that I should welcome everyone and announce the celebrant. "Who's the celebrant?" I asked him. He and Sister Judith exchanged a puzzled look. He turned back to me with a little smile. "The cardinal, dear... Just say that the celebrant this morning will be Avery Cardinal Dulles." Again, I had something dawn on me, and again, Sister Judith picked up on it. "Yes," she grinned, "that Dulles." (For those who don't know, he comes from an important family... think of the airport in Washington, and the city nearby... that Dulles.)

Right. No pressure.

Actually, it went fine. At least, that's what Jane said, and I know she wouldn't lie to me, so I feel good about it. After that, we went to breakfast with a few folks, and that was that. All in all, nice. Besides, now I can add a radio credit to my exploits in New York this year. So yes, a busy morning... I was on the radio with the cardinal... and had French toast afterward. There, Mom... happy?

So now, I'm in my bedroom, sweating. I can't work online from my living room right now because my router is on the fritz, so I have to be archaic and plug into the cable modem like a caveman. Ah, well... I'll get by somehow. Besides, after I'm done, I can go into the living room and freeze.

Oh, yeah. You heard it right... I have an air conditioner.

My sweet baby showed up today, with my microwave. No more cold leftovers for me, by the gods! I mean, sure, I could have put them in the oven or something, but that would've just heated up the place even more, and the mere thought of that was just painful. So my beautiful Friedrich 8000 btu showed up, and now my world is a blissful ball of smiling whimsy. I may never leave my living room again. I mean, at least after I'm done sweating over this blog entry. The labor of the window installation, which proved to be no small feat, made the first purrs I heard and felt from its glorious vents all the more precious and pure. Ah the benevolence of technology... the thing has a remote! I can't remember when I've ever been this happy. (Um... I love you, too, John. No, really. You have many good qualities, and people say you dress well.)

Right. I have a date with my seat next to the window in the living room... if you'll excuse me...

Saturday, July 22, 2006

When there's nowhere to go but up

And I'm not saying things were that bad. I mean, they've been worse, that's for sure. Still, they sucked. So I was feeling kinda bumbed out about my apartment being in the state it's in (unfinished, partially painted, flooring a disaster) and my being completely unmotivated at this point to do much of anything about it... I was also licking my wounds from my creepy moment with the gaggle of Hispanic guys over in the Bronx, and I'd start crying every time I saw anything that even resembled a dog. I've been better. Anyway, things began to improve before too long, like they tend to.

I got started with my new kung fu school a couple of weeks ago, and it's been fantastic. I've already learned most of my first form in the tai chi class, weapons class (staff form), and mantis class, and the place is a really nice facility full of really nice people. I know it's something else I'll have to pay for, but there's no doubt in my mind that it's worth it. Besides, I've really missed training formally in a martial arts school, and I think I really needed this right now, so there was no question about whether I'd be doing it or not, despite the cost. And really, it's not too bad moneywise, when you put it into prospective. The only problem now is convincing John that he's got nothing to be jealous about. Sure, I'm a little bit ahead of where he'll be when he gets here, but we both know he'll be catching up in no time. So yeah, that's been good. Therapeutic, too, of course. Nothing like punching and kicking to get over a bad-touch kind of night and an apartment that's laughing at you.

Classes have begun for the second summer session, and they're going well enough. I mean, they're classes. We're not having a party or anything. But it's nice to see everyone again, and it's nice to feel that I'm not the only one who felt as though my brain was suffering from some kind of academic atrophy. I was feeling like a slacker, since I had only done minimal work on my thesis additions and conference proposal. Turns out I've been doing more than a lot of people, so I don't feel so bad anymore. Besides, I'm the only one that seems to have been teaching over the summer, so at least there's that. Anyway, the reading load for my classes is a little ridiculous, but it keeps me busy, which is good, because being busy on schoolwork right now feels beeter that being busy painting the friggin' apartment. Not that I don't have to do that as well, but it makes for a nice change, so I'm not complaining. Not too much, anyway.

So then there was a heat wave in New York. Naturally, my people in Texas have been whining about their 106-degree weather non-stop, so they weren't about to hear my woes about my 99-degree piffle. Still, I had a legitimate beef... I've got no air conditioner. I have a window fan, but that's it. Try that in 99-degree heat, wherever you are, and I'd say you have reason to complain a tiny bit. I have an air conditioner coming this Tuesday, but it's more sweating till then. My aunt has also offered me her old air conditioner, but I can't seem to reach her, so it's the waiting game for me. No matter... we've had rain over the last two days, which has cooled things off a little. I mean, the fan blows a little water on me sometimes, but I'll take that over the oven-heat air it's been blowing in until now.

Okay, so the floor is a wreck, the painting's not done, I'm still grieving, and still pissed about bastards who can't keep their hands to themselves. As for my own hands, though, they're keeping busy with more than their share, and happily so. Tomorrow, I'll be cantoring at a mass at Fordham's University Church... it's been a while since I've done one of these, so I've got a touch of the butterflies, but I'm sure it'll be fine. I'm also getting together with Jane afterwards, which will be really nice. I'm trucking along, and it's a little lonely, but whatever. John will be here in less than two weeks, the apartment will no doubt be finished soon, I'm half way through my classes for the summer, and kung fu is just marvelous. So yeah... I'm good. Keep the upswing coming.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Whirlwinds can bring in a nice breeze

The last time I wrote anything here, I was getting ready to leave for Florida, to meet John and Chuck at the beach house. I did, it was great, whatever. It was a week that went by too quickly. We were grateful for it, but yeah, it was too brief. At any rate, here's some proof that we were there:

Here, you can see most of what we did during the trip.
And here's Chuck, being Ansel Adams in his own right.

And here are John and I with an alligator. I don't think I need to explain myself on this one.

So then the trip was over and I came home. I finished out June with the rest of my teaching, preparing all the while for my move to the new apartment. The apartment is actually in Brooklyn, but it's a block away from Queens. I've taken to calling it Queenklyn. Anyway, there's a great deal of painting and fixing and primping needed before John gets here, so I'll be spending the month of July making magic happen. I've been busy doing very little else, actually. My world is comprised mostly of painting now. Paint fumes are my friend. Then, of course, there was that little thing that happened in the Bronx.

The week before I moved out completely from the old apartment, I was accosted by seven... seven Hispanic guys while I was walking home at around 9pm. There was some inappropriate touching which took place, and I had to lay hands on two of them before it was over. I'l leave it at that. The next day, John called me to tell me that my darling Apollo had passed away in the night, from an apparent cardiomyalgia... genetic defect that went unnoticed before. He died peacefully, in his sleep. Athena seemed fine, but we had her checked out anyway. Turns out she had little baby heartworms, but that's no biggie... just a treatment, and, since she was so young, she'd recover fine. She went in for the treatment, then came out two days later and back home for recovery.

A couple of days later was the final moving day. On my way from Queenklyn to the Bronx to finish my packing before the movers got there, I was part of a gun incident on the A train. It ended well, an no one got hurt, but it was pretty scary, and I did get to pull the emergency brake chord in our subway car. When it was all over, I continued on my merry way. When I got to the apartment in the Bronx, I began my final packing sweep; thirty minutes in, I got a call from John. Athena had passed away overnight. An autopsy showed the cause. It wasn't the treatment, since she was recovering beautifully from that... she had simply eaten a stick. Yes, a stick. It punctured the lining of her stomach, and the wound went ceptic; she died peacefully, and there was nothing anyone could have done.

I've had better weeks.

There have been a couple of other deaths that week... my sister-in-law's husband's father passed of cancer, and a friend of Nate's was shot and killed the following day. As for me, I'm just making sure I don't piss off the fates any more than I obviousy already have. Whatever's going on, I at least have paint fumes. Besides, I've started going to my two summer courses, which are rolling along just fine so far. At least it should keep my mind off of all the death. Ah, yes... hot fun in the summertime. But really, I'm fine, John's fine. We miss our kids, and it's ridiculously painful. We'll be fine, though. Hey... I can write a song about it or something, right? As for the other crap that's been happening to me... hey, more songs. I knew there had to be a good side to this somewhere. Well, not so much of a good side, maybe, but a different side that doesn't suck as much. I'll go with that for now.