The Night of My Life

Last year on October 11, 2012, I was in New York almost 16 years after my first visit. 10/11/12 was a very special for me because at age 24, I was finally seeing BARBRA STREISAND live in concert. After more than 20 years of wishing and waiting, I got to see a entertainment legend on stage!  Some may think it silly to mark the occasion, but I cannot help myself. It seems appropriate to do so on my blog, after all I did blog about how I desperately wanted tickets to see her perform.

I have preordered her CD and Deluxe CD/DVD combo of Back to Brooklyn, which is due to be released from Columbia Records on November 19th!

Since the concert was 10/11/12, I truly think the record company could have just gone ahead and prepared the concert DVD for release on 11/12/13!

I miss Brooklyn, I think it is high time I visit again.

On the wall

I told my mother, that I wouldn’t feel any sense of accomplishment until the paper was framed and on the wall. Now, it’s something bittersweet. The culmination of years of work, hard work, comes down to the attainment of a piece of paper – the diploma. I picked up my diploma from the admissions office on Monday. I had a smile on my face and apparently my happiness showed because an older lady who works in the office said, “Congratulations” as she walked by. I do have something to be proud of. I actually reached not only one, but two of my goals – graduating with honors and graduating with my bachelors degree. I could not be happier.

Framed and on the wall
Framed and on the wall

Yes, the road has been long and hard; however, I have not backed down. I kept going and kept pushing myself. I know what I can do and I’m eager to keep going, to keep learning and broadening my horizons.

I’m looking at taking the GRE some time in March, after taking a three day workshop next month. I’m looking into school all over the country (and in Canada.) I have only one problem, many of them offer just straight MA programs in English, and I don’t want to go the traditional English route. More searching and scouring, that’s okay though.

I’m still looking for jobs, still looking for something meaningful to do. My searching reminds me of that song from the musical Avenue Q, “What do you do with a BA in English” it’s life imitating art. I didn’t think I would be asking the same question, and yet here I am doing just that. That’s okay, I have the support of friends, family and a wonderful boyfriend who has supported me and helped me to this milestone.

At the keys again..

I don’t like funerals. Honoring the dead has always been traditional, ritualistic and somewhat macabre. When I was younger, I always had a creepy feeling when surrounded by fellow mourners. The wearing of black, the placing of flowers, eulogies, and the whole experience used to fill me with the most profound dread. Now that I’m older, I’ve realized that I’ve come to think about life differently – in a whole new and refreshing way.

I got a call from my father just shortly before my Nana’s untimely passing. He was noticeably upset and asked me one question: “would you play for the service?” Instantly, I said yes. Later, I was asked by my Aunt Pam the same question, I also answered with “yes.” It wasn’t until a few days after these separate conversations that I started to panic. “I haven’t touched the keys in three years,” I thought to myself. “What will I play?” “What if I mess up?” These questions were like bumper cars inside my brain, bumping into each other at odd intervals. It was true, I hadn’t touched the keys in several years. What was worse, I hadn’t even had a piano lesson since I was at least 14 years old. I had agreed to play for a funeral, without even considering my own feelings. That’s when it dawned on me. Playing wasn’t about me, it was about honoring my grandmother, someone who truly appreciated my talent. I still panicked, worried that I wouldn’t sound right, or that I would hit the wrong notes. It didn’t matter if I hit the wrong notes, it wouldn’t matter if I sounded like a five year old. No one would care if I hadn’t played in a handful of years. I was playing to honor someone who I had died, my grandmother. I wasn’t doing this for myself, I was offering my talent to my family in reverence and respect.

The pastor who was officiating the service, came up to me during visitation, and asked me what I was interested in doing and when I might like to play. I had agreed to play at the opening of the service. When my grandfather passed away in 2001, I had missed half the service because I had played right in the middle of it. I didn’t want to miss out on anything this time – out of respect.

I played a medley of hymns with the Prelude in C Major by J.S. Bach, and while I was adding my customary flourishes all my fears left me. My body was at ease and the music flowed from me. The old magic had returned. It felt as if the piano keys and my hands were rejoicing at their reunion.

Later on, after the family had laid my grandmother to rest, beside her husband of over 50 years, various people came up to me saying, “You played so well, thank you.” Such words reignited the fire that I remember having has a child: wanting to play, for the enjoyment of others.

It is with pride that I write of my full intention of returning to music lessons, I’ve already contacted the School of Music at MTSU about the potential of taking lessons on campus. I’ve been wanting to return to the piano. Thanks to Nana, I think now would be the best time to pick things back up, where they left off.

Chris at a Steinway Piano, in the Wright Music Building on the campus of MTSU.

50 Prompt Challenge: #3 “Write about a time in your life when things weren’t the way you or others thought they should be

This one is really easy, because I am reminded constantly of how things are, and how they should be.

I graduated high school in 2006, and immediately turned my thoughts to college. Unfortunately, I graduated from high school with a dismal GPA and my ACT scores were all but laughable. I had lost all hope. Oklahoma City University had accepted me into their magazine writing program, but I couldn’t afford the out-of-state tuition and honestly, how would I have gotten to OKC? I applied at MTSU, but of course the they turned me down on the basis of my dismal high school performance. I would have been only accepted on academic probation.

Thus, I decided to register at Motlow State Community College. I thought this was a soft option, because it was a “community college” and not a big four-year institution. I rationalized it like, “Chris, you’re stupid.” In the end, it turned out to be the greatest decision of my life. Since MSCC opened a campus so close to home, I didn’t have to commute very far at all, which pleased me greatly. The only thing that worried me was registration. What kind of classes would have to take, and how would I be looked at for my ACT scores? To my surprise, the individual who registered me was favorably impressed by my grades in English, and my “Outstanding” on the state writing exam that all Tennessee students take junior year. I will never forget being asked, “Would you like to be in Honors English? You’d love Mrs. Palmer”

Of course, I’d like to be in Honors English. I was never challenged in high school, I’m assuming because NO ONE thought I would be able to handle the work. Eh, screw them.

So, I was put into Honors English and that started my journey to academic success and freedom.

However, I spent longer than I should have at MSCC. I saw friends come and friends go. I saw one of my best friends transfer to MTSU and later graduate. I was still at Motlow, struggling to get past my mathematics barrier. I cried, I fussed, I begged the college Vice President to let me off the hook – nothing doing. My father, wanted me to transfer to MTSU immediately. I refused, stating that I wanted to graduate with an “honors” diploma. After semesters of struggle, I finally conquered my demon and passed math.

Sticking to my own principles and ideals, I graduated two years behind schedule. I started in the fall of ’06 and didn’t graduate until Spring ’10. I made it though. Screw timelines. I graduated “Cum Laude,” one of the proudest moments of my life. Not only did I accomplish my own goal, I made many wonderful friends along the way.

So, things didn’t go the way my family wanted them to. My friends remarked on how slow the process was, but I did it my way. I made my own goal and succeed.

Now, I’m finishing my BA in English Literature.. it’s been a tough road, but who cares, I’m going to finish this. Why? Because, I’ve already accomplished that goal once. I can do it again!