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.
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.
I have already written a post about Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer, but I also wanted to write about Oskar Schell, the main character. He is a 9 year old boy, but oh so much more than that. There are so many things about Oskar that are incredibly endearing. He’s an inventor who invents things that will make all our lives easier. He’s a Francophile who is constantly describing his raison d’être. He only wears white and is always playing his tambourine. He is a brave little boy who travels far and wide to solve a beautiful mystery. He is a vegan and a pacifist. You need to read this book.
As I’ve said before, I loved Reading Rainbow when I was a kid. This was one of my favorites. It’s an African folk tale, but is surprisingly similar to Cinderella – I suppose this illustrates the universal theme of pride before the fall. Mufaro has two daughters who are very beautiful but one is rude and the other is generous and kind. The story is well written and quite lovely. The illustrations are beautiful. I love the rich, vibrant way the illustrator recreated the African landscape. I probably checked this out of the library a dozen times and I even bought myself a copy a couple years ago. It’s a great book, but you don’t have to take my word for it.
Teaser was my first dog and she was the best darn soccer player who ever lived. She would run full steam round and round our backyard dribbling the soccer ball with her nose. She was truly amazing. She was a Welsh terrier and she was a good little dog. She could bark and jump with the best of them. Teaser loved our backyard on Ridgeway (but not our garage on Spyglass). When I was in middle school she ran away to become a TV commercial star and to live in the lap of luxury.