This was one of the most life changing things I have ever done. When I was a junior in high school, the Oregon Bach Festival started the Youth Choral Academy. It started out small, probably only about 50 or 60 of us, all from Eugene. They got one of the best choral conductors in the country, Anton Armstrong from St. Olaf College, to come and lead us with the help of an amazing Dick Clark from the U of O. I imagine we were not that great the first year, but I can tell you that I left that week of the academy a much better singer and chorus member. We got to work with amazing singers on vocal technique, body singing and so much more. We went to the ‘camp’ during the day, but were free to get into all sorts of shenanigans at night.
The next year, the administrators wised up, and put us in the dorm to keep a better eye on us. We were also much better the next year, coming from all over Oregon. Dr. Armstrong expected much more from us and kicked our butts a little harder. I learned even more. Unfortunately, my college women’s choir was a huge let down after singing with the amazing singers in the OBFYCA, so I quit singing after my first term in the choir. I did go back as a chaperone for the YCA the next summer.
I was a very strict chaperone.
This year was the 15th anniversary of the academy, so they invited all 700 of the alumni back for a weekend of rehearsals, a luncheon and to since a couple songs with the current YCA (now called Stangeland Family YCA) kids. The concert was this past Sunday, and I have to say I had so much fun. Only about 35 alums showed up, but there were 4 of us from the original year. I took Alma to the luncheon and it was pretty fun to imagine her singing in the choir in 15 or 16 years. Oh, how lucky she would be to have an experience like singing in the SFYCA.
Nope, not the Alma you were thinking of. This Alma is a character in one of my favorite books. As a friend of mine pointed out once, I seem to like books with young protagonists or narrators. I had never thought of that, but once she said it, I realized it was true.
Alma is one of the main characters in The History of Love by Nicole Krauss. Really, Alma is many characters in the book because of the book-within-a-book situation. Alma is a teenager who is trying to help her mother find happiness and understand what life is all about (that’s a very simplified description of who Alma is…).
I love this passage, where the main Alma is telling about the Alma in the book:
The first woman may have been Eve, but the first girl will always be Alma… Maybe the first time you saw her you were ten. She was standing in the sun scratching her legs. Or tracing letters in the dirt with a stick. her hair was being pulled. Or she was pulling someone’s hair. And a part of you was drawn to her, and a part of you resisted – wanting to ride off on your bicycle, kick a stone, remain uncomplicated. In the same breath you felt the strength of a man, and a self-pity that made you feel small and hurt. Part of you thought: Please don’t look at me. If you don’t, I can still turn away. And part of you thought: Look at me.
Alma is a girl I wish I knew. Alma and I could hang out with Oskar. I think they could help each other a lot (I wonder if this was the idea… since History of Love and Extremely Loud and IncrediblyClose were written by a wife and her husband).
I was a Girl Scout from kindergarten until 5th grade. I went from being a Daisy to a Junior Girl Scout. Man, those were the days! I was lucky enough to have an awesome troop – Troop 102. We had the best leader (my mom) and always had a ton of fun. Some of my favorite memories include being in the Eugene Celebration Parade, hiking at Mt. Pisgah (with our hand-painted walking sticks), singing Christmas songs at the mall, snack time, craft time, play time. I think I just loved that once a week, I would have all my friends over to my house and we’d get to do fun stuff. I also liked the uniforms and the cookies, I’m not going to lie.
Oh my gosh, so 80s.
I hope all my children get the chance to be Scouts.
I started learning French in 9th grade. My teacher became my step-mom (but that’s a story for another post). Ever since then, I really wanted to visit France. I got my first chance during the summer of 2001. I went to Europe with Deena (aforementioned step-mom), my friends Katrina, Kenton, Tai and a group of high school exchange students. Katrina and I went as chaperones for the students’ week in Paris and we brought Kenton and Tai along for the ride. We spent a few days in Paris, then went to Switzerland and Italy then back to the south of France. It was a fun, educational and beautiful trip. We were kids on our own on a huge, confusing continent with not much money.
Luckily, I got to return to France this past summer with Jesse. We had more money, and we were a lot more grown up, so we pretty much had a dream vacation. We spent3 weeks travelling all over France. We started in Paris, went down to the Riviera, up to Provence, over to the Alps and ended up in Burgundy.
We spent a lot of time eating during our trip. We ate some of the best meals of our lives. Jesse drank a lot of wine (I had to abstain since I was 4 months pregnant). It was really amazing.
One thing I love about France is how they have so many different things to enjoy. In three weeks, we were in one of the greatest cities, going to museums, swimming in a beautiful sea, walking through sun baked alleys, standing on a snow covered mountain and looking at lots of big, old things.
This was the first song that Jesse and I danced to at our wedding. I love this beautiful song so much. For an engagement gift, mom and Steve gave us dance lessons. Every week we would go to the studio and have private classes with Michaela and mom and Steve. Michaela used to teach with my mom and she runs her own studio. It was so much fun!
This song was on a CD Jesse made for me as part of his proposal. My favorite lines are:
I never made promises lightly
And there have been some that I’ve broken
But I swear in the days still left
We’ll walk in the fields of gold
I love these lines because Jesse and I made some pretty important promises that day. I know that we won’t always keep every single promise to each other, but I know we will always have fields of gold when we’re together.
Echo is one of the best people I have ever met in my life. For reals. She is the funnest, funniest, prettiest, sassiest lady there is. Echo plays a lead role in most of my favorite memories from 1998- 2004. Summer nights with Echo were full of possibilities and usually led to mischief of the best kind. There were nights in parking lots, running around with a beach towel as my cape, there were nights dressed in black, stalking other friends’ parties, nights driving around town blasting Dave Matthews Band in my little Ford Escort, nights waiting for phone calls or something amazing to happen at Allann Bros., swinging at playgrounds, dancing anywhere and more fun than I could even begin to describe.
Echo and I haven’t seen each other much in the past few years, but whenever we do, I feel like we can pick up right where we left off. That’s a sign of a true, incredible, lasting friendship if you ask me.
So, the year I was 30 was a wonderful, incredible, amazing year.
I spent 3 weeks in France with Jesse…
I made this…
…and had an overall great year. It got me thinking about this blog and how I really should finish it…
I suppose only time will tell whether or not I follow through. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…