Sunday, August 22, 2004

Letter from Iowa

Ah, the joys of a bucolic weekend with the family. The weather has been perfect, the niece and nephew have been suitably adorable, and the parking has been -- and always will be -- plentiful.

I slept in on Saturday and eventually got my hair cut with NO WAITING. Then I headed to our friendly neighborhood Michael's -- where all the crap in your basement and attic gets born -- to buy stencils for my bathroom amid a sea of screaming children and puffy women in capri pants. Then Dad and I hauled out the ladder and hung new house numbers on the roof of the front porch and cut down a HUGE dead branch from a tree in the front yard. (Quel butch!) After a family dinner of pot roast and tapioca pudding (mmm!), Mom and I did some more shopping -- this time looking for a small shelfy thing to store all my piano music. We didn't find anything close to what I was looking for, but we did find a surprisingly sturdy, amazingly stylish dining room set for $199 at K mart (couldn't bring myself to buy it, though) and a friggin' WALL of Precious Moments and Precious Moments-knockoff figurines at K's Merchandise.

Why do Precious Moments make me so angry? Is it their faux-cute aesthetic that simultaneously offends the rational public and validates the dubious tastes of women who were into rainbows and unicorns in high school? Is it their empty promise of future value, which dupes hordes of feeble-minded rural consumers into "investing" in them with money they should be using for something practical like, say, running shoes and flattering haircuts? Is it the fact they represent the triumph of opinion over reason (as in "I think this girl-with-the-kittens figurine is soooooooo cuuuuuuute so I'll buy it even though I can't afford to bring my wardrobe up out of the stirrup-pants-and-oversize-T-shirts era")? Or is it just that they represent everything vile and unholy in the world -- but, unlike gay marriage and the Olsen twins, they also have to be dusted?

This morning I sang a solo -- twice -- at my folks' church. (I know: Not only do I not have a religious bone in my body, but some might even call me religion-hostile. So file my willingness to sing a solo in a church under "gray areas.") This church, our family's church since before I was born, has an AMAZING music program, which is easily the foundation of the musical talents I enjoy today -- from singing to sight reading to understanding the baroque and classical musical forms. The musical director at the church found a gorgeous solo (Ralph Vaughan Williams' "The Call") that was perfectly in -- though a little on the high side of -- my range, and I apparently made legions of old church ladies happy this morning by singing for them. Besides, when you solo in this church -- especially in the summer -- you get to sit alone in the balcony like you're some rock star and sing hymns at the top of your lungs while ranks and ranks of organ pipes rumble and shake and shout around you. If you concentrate on the music and not the words, it's a pretty cool experience.

This afternoon, Mom and I plan to continue our quest to find my music shelfy thing. Then we're having my favorite pizza for dinner. Woo-hoo!

Then tomorrow we celebrate the entire reason for my trip home: My nephew's first day of kindergarten. Which will consist of: Putting him on the bus and watching my mom and sister cry.

Then I head back to Chicago, where I need to pound out a long run (like 15 miles or so -- oy). Then, if all goes according to plan, I'll organize my piano music on my new shelfy thing. Pray for me.


Tom said...

mmmmmm "pound out". Call me....

Homer said...

Sometimes I read the descriptions of "collectible" plates and figurines in the Sunday Parade magazine. It is better to do that out loud because they are so funny.

Stencils? What kind of stencils?

Will said...

Don't forget angels figurines and other merchandise, or do you not have that craze in Chicago? We are infected by it in New England.

Anonymous said...

You can sing too? ~ swoon ~ xxoo, Jimbo