Hear Me Out-Part 5

I finally made my way to the library about thirty minutes prior to closing.  They usually stayed open until around nine in the evening, but there was a special event going on this particular day, granting me less time to peruse the stacks.  Also, it wasn’t until I arrived there that I realized that I had practically been sprinting from the church as I was completely out of breath and dripping with sweat.  I managed to pull myself together for the sake of not appearing suspicious and walked in.

“Hello.  Welcome to the library.  Are you aware that this branch will be closing in thirty minutes?”

As soon as I walked through the automatic doors, a rather drained-sounding voice croaked out the above dialogue.  Those words belonged to a bored-looking teenage girl who was situated behind the check-out desk, appearing as though she wanted to be anywhere but the library.

“Um, yes I am.  Uh, thanks.”

I started skimming through the juvenile section first.  One by one, looking at just about every book on the shelves brought back memories of reading from when I was even younger.  Before my parents converted to Buddhism and became rather subdued, I would sit between them every night and read a favorite book of mine aloud.  These days, however, I had tried to improve my tastes as so to prepare myself for adulthood (as if I could learn that from a book).  With that in mind, I started toward the adult fiction section.  Or at least I was until I saw a rather eye-catching sign that stopped me in my tracks:

Attention! Attention!

Are you a young musician looking for 

the chance of a lifetime? A renowned Russian organist

is offering up the chance to audition for two organ apprenticeship spots! 

Sign up down below before October 30th!   Hurry, hurry!

In an instant I was able to recognize that this sign was what the organ man at the church was talking about.  I believe that it is fair to say that prior to seeing the concert earlier that day I had no real desire for music.  My parents never really exposed me to it in the midst of their religion-hopping or world traveling, despite being around many creative types.  However, I personally compare my musical awakening to a previously-dormant volcano finally erupting and alerting the world of its presence.  Music was here in my life and it was there to stay in my heart forever.  Seeing that sign just brought back all of the emotion that I had felt from the concert right back to my senses.

“I’ve got to get into this!”  I actually said to myself, aloud.  The only problem?  I knew nothing about how to play music.  I knew how music made me feel, and I wanted to make others feel the same way, but how would I accomplish that?  Feeling flustered, I did something remarkably out of character and actually went to search for another human being on purpose.  That other human being none other than a librarian, of course; a most hip and sprightly lady who anyone could tell probably spent her leisure time getting high off the smell of books.

“Um, hi!  Are you a librarian?” I uttered, surprisingly with little trepidation.

“Why, yes ma’am! [I always seemed to attract the loud and bold kinds] My name is Mrs. Joenby and I would be happy to serve you should you have any questions, comments or concerns!”

All of a sudden, I realized that her name had struck a chord.  She shared a name with my new high school!  Going off the out-of-character high I was on, I prompted further.

“Mrs. Joenby?  Are you related to the person for which the high school was named?”

“Why, yes ma’am, I am, I am, I am!  Well, I married a terrific cowboy who is his great-great-great nephew, but still, lil missy, IT COUNTS!  As a matter of fact, you are more than free to just call me Miss J.  How’s about that?”

This interaction provided such a strange jolt to my system that I vowed to just make use of the library’s computer catalog to conduct any future searches.

“Uh, okay, Miss J.  I wanted to know if you all had any how-to books for music.”

“Well, do you want to learn how to play a certain instrument, missy?  We’ve got plenty o’ music books!  If you would like, I can show you the section where we store ALL of our music-related books!”

“Oh, great!  That would be perfect.”

She sashayed her way to the 700-somethings and showed me a goldmine.

“Welp, here they all are, hun!  We’ve got everything from Bach to Rock and clarinets!  Get ‘er dun, hun!”

“Oh, okay.  Thanks!”

She had seemingly sashayed away in an instant (thankfully).  I knew that I only had about ten more minutes left, so I skimmed through the section to get a feel for what might best suit my interests.  The guitar books were first, then classical, then piano.  When I was about halfway through the section, I stumbled across a few books about music theory.  Although I knew nothing about music, I figured that a book talking about the theory behind something drew parallels to the scientific theories I had studied;  ya know, the “juice” inside of the already-born fruit.  I chose a fairly comprehensive course that came with a few CDs, checked it out at the front desk and made toward the comfort of my home.  I had only a few days to discover another planet and I was going to make my efforts count.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hear Me Out-Part 4

Sometimes I wished I could just turn off my mind and pause my thinking.  My mind, oh what a tangled web.  Thankfully, this little tangled web of mine allowed me to peacefully persevere through the first day of high school.  It seemed as though 1:45 came to pass in the blink of an eye as I, sure enough, found myself walking to the little town library.

“Bonjour, Mademoiselle!  Nice-uh to zee you again!  Would you like ze free pastry for zee first day back to ze school?”

‘Ol Frenchie was at it again, this time with a cream-filled croissant that was just too gorgeous for my mouth to resist.

“Uh….oui, monsieur!”  This time with more gusto.  “Merci! Uh….Mr…..?”

“Jean-Claude!  Call me Jean-Claude, petite madame.  And we shall be ze best of frands!”

“Uh, sure!  I am sure I will be back.  Bye.  Thanks again!”

At times, my awkwardness was so thick that you’d have difficulty cutting through it with even a butcher’s knife.  I always made mental notes to someday work on curing myself of my shyness, but this day was not going to be that day.  Alas, I continued to trot along the historic streets of my little town, gnawing on my fluffy pastry.  I was deep in a sugar-induced trance of sorts when I passed by the same church I had just entered earlier that day.  I had almost made it about half of a block away from the Episcopal building when I started to hear muffled, but familiar chords trickling from the church’s cracked doorway.

“Who is that?”  I said aloud to myself.  Although I was adamant to still make it to the library, I just couldn’t help but follow my curiosity, yet again.  Licking what was left of the croissant off of my little fingers, I crept back toward the church, peeking one eye in to catch a glimpse of the action.  At first, I did not see a thing.  Not only that, but I noticed that the music had suddenly ceased playing once I started to get my peek on.

“Can I help you?”

A grave, and yet, well-meaning voice followed by an actual person walking up out of nowhere immediately jolted my senses, sending my rear to the ground and my glasses flying off my face.  The world around me immediately became fuzzy without my extra pair of eyes.

“Oh!  I’m so sorry, dear.  I didn’t mean to startle you.  Let me help you up.”

The blurry figure helped me to my feet, but I was still trying to catch my breath.

“Here, let me clean these for you.  Thankfully, they fell without a scratch!”

The blurry figure proceeded to pick my specs up off the ground and clean them with what looked like a handkerchief from his pocket.

“There you go.  All better now.”

The blurriness slid my glasses back on my face, revealing itself to be a smiling, lanky young man donning a band t-shirt, black jeans, and bare feet, one of his arms entirely covered with tattoos. He was a confusingly precious sight to behold (Getting sappy now, are we?).

“Oh my!  Thanks so much!  I….I didn’t mean to bother you.  It’s just that I…..I heard really beautiful music coming from here and wanted to see who was playing.”

I was completely frozen in his presence, but still managed to spit out the truth.

“Oh, my dear.  You did not disturb me at all.  It’s really me who should be apologizing to you!  I just thought you were here to audition for the musician apprenticeship program.  My teacher has been putting up notices for this everywhere, but still no takers.  Other than myself, I guess.”

He had a really interesting accent, one I had never heard before in my life.  It sounded British, but not British.  British with a southern accent or something, I don’t know.  However, after the initial shock of……encountering his being wore off, I realized that there was room for my response.

“It’s no big deal, really.  I really should just be on my way.  Have a nice day!”

I scurried off, as I usually do to avoid further awkwardness, to the library.  It took me another ten minutes from the church to get to the library, and in the time it took to get there, I couldn’t shake that man’s eyes out of my recently-re-renewed vision.  Although he had a very calm and friendly disposition, he also had a sort of sense of longing in his gaze.  Anyone, not just my highly-observant self, could easily recognize this.  And hearing the music again. Oh, the music……………

 

 

 

Hear Me Out-Part 3

I mentioned before that I would often drift around Smithfield in my down time, but that’s virtually all I would really do: drift.  Seldom could I have recognized any of the town’s landmarks other than the library, but this particular church would occasionally lurk around in the back of my mind.  This completely brick, pristine, episcopal church had such a magnetic allure to it that I figured I’d sooner or later step foot inside it, but for what?  Although my parents followed Buddhism, I had essentially created my own religion of sorts, an amalgam of the many world religions I had read about, so I wasn’t exactly faithful to one path of belief.  To me, all pointers pointed in the same direction, so why bother just picking one hand?

When I stepped foot into that church, it was as if time had ceased to exist.  My eyes and ears were treated to an elaborate gathering of people who had come together for a noble cause.  The cause, as I quickly came to realize, was homelessness.  The church foyer featured three rows of long, wooden tables and many of the church personnel scrambling to put out pots of food with some of the most sinfully blissful aromas I had ever whiffed in.

“Sweetie, would you like a plate?  There’s plenty to eat.”

An incredibly sweet old lady, someone who clearly belonged to the church, basically invited me to throw down with everyone else.  Who was I to turn her down?

“Oh. Uh…..yes, ma’am.”

I took the paper plate from her aged grasp and loaded a small amount of food upon it, mainly for the purpose of not looking too greedy to those who clearly needed it more than I.  From the buffet, everyone who had food in their hands was directed into the main part of the church.  Practically all of the pews were filled to the brim, my fluffy self being the very last person to be stuffed onto the end of the final row.

“Hi!  I’m Koa! What’s your name?”

This tater tot-sized little gal who was seated beside me decided to spring up a conversation.

“Oh. Uh, my name is Izzy.  Nice to meet you!”

My introduction to her seemed to be enough as she simply smiled and then resumed chomping to her heart’s content.  I also couldn’t help but notice her accent.  It was something that I had never heard before, so foreign and sweet.  Just as I was about to take another bite into my corndog,  I was, again, swiftly interrupted.

“Hi there!  My name is Valerie!  I see you just met my son, Koa.  He’s a feisty little one, eh?  Hey, did you come here for the concert? I am sure this is going to be the best one yet!  I heard the musician is top-notch.”

I admit I was taken aback by this revelation.  I suppose I just wasn’t used to seeing little boys parading around with hair down to their knees; I suppose I just suspected “her” to be a tomboy.  Still, I had some small talk to keep up with, so my mind raced back.  Not to mention, she, too, had this marvelous accent that I wanted to hear more of.

“Hi, Ms. Valerie. Oh, yeah, your son.  He’s very sweet!  Um, but the concert.  I can’t say that I knew.  What kind of concert is this?”  I asked.

“The church website said that a world-renowned organist was going to perform!  Oh, how I love the sound of organ music!  Oooh, look!  He’s setting up to perform!”

Just as I had turned my head away from her focus and directly to the performer, a loud crash of melody erupted throughout church, a deafening chord.  The organ had suddenly become the main attraction, gratuitously featuring the talents of a mysterious young man.  His back was facing the crowd, his frame enveloped in a grey, suave suit, his head adorned with a charming bowl cap, his entire being devoted to the beast of an instrument before him.  Measure by measure, the melody appeared to pour out of him like a merciless rainstorm; this young man was the thief and we, the audience, were being held captive by his power.  His performance was over just as fast as it had begun, and the entire church erupted into applause, myself included.

It’s very rare that I ever find myself overcome with emotion, especially to the point that I cry (even more especially to the point of showing it in public), but I just had to let my tears do their thing.  One by one I could actually feel each tear slowly make their way down my face, over my puffy lips, and drop from my chin.  It was a slow and deliberate cry, as if each teardrop was telling me, “It’s alright.  You needed this,” over and over again.  It wasn’t soon before I felt a comforting arm wrap around my shoulder.

“It was beautiful, wasn’t it?  Just unbelievable.  Even if I never see another concert again, at least I can die happy knowing that this one was my last.”

It was that good, folks.  I’m really tellin’ ya.  I shook my head in agreement, silently trying to tame my emotions.  Before I knew it, one of my tears made a heavy splash down onto my watch, prompting me to check the time.  Although it felt like an hour had passed between the time I first walked into the foyer and the end of the concert, only fifteen minutes had gone by!  This was one of the most surreal sensations I had ever experienced up until that point.  Although I still had enough time to make it to school without being late, I was going to have to haul it.

“Oh my!  I’ve gotta get a move on and get to class!  It was nice meeting you, Ms. Valerie.  And you too, Mr. Koa.”

“Yes, indeed.  Nice seeing you…uhhhh…”

“Izzy!  Call me Izzy.”

“God bless, Izzy.  Have a nice day!  I hope that it’s already been made, I know mine has.”

As I waved buh-bye and made my way to Joenby, I couldn’t help but feel as though I had just experienced the encounter of a lifetime.  Something about that church, the people, the performer.  I immediately wanted to hold on tight and never let go.

 

 

 

 

Hear Me Out-Part 2

Alas, the dawn after labor day arrived.  The clock struck five as my pink bunny alarm clock just about had a fit, quaking so hard it fell off of the stack of notebooks it was perched upon.  I suppose this is where I say that I had to drag myself out of bed, but no!  I was awake and thriving more than I ever ha……..oh, forget it.  I calmly arose out of my slumber to sit up and read the latest issue of National Geographic, lighting the candle on my nightstand as it was the only source of light within reach.  While in bed, I always tried to practice a kind of “movement minimalism” with my body as so to not hear the awful screeching of my centuries-old, steel bed frame.  High school didn’t start until 7:45, not to mention, I was within walking distance of my school, but I was all about trying to get more time to myself.

Although I deeply treasured my NatGeo collection, I knew that it was time for me to experience some sort of change in morning reading material.  I made a mental note to make a stop by the town’s library on the way back from school as so to have something to look forward to.  Just as fast as I’d woken up, I glanced down at my wrist and saw that it was now t-minus one hour until I was due to walk through the gates of hell.  I hopped out of bed and picked my wardrobe for doomsday, the same as usual: longish sleeves with a loose-fitting skirt or dress that was knee-length or longer, no makeup, and sparse jewelry.  I know that many say that if you’ve got it, then why not flaunt it, but trust moi, no one wants to or needs to see my body.  I suppose one thing I have to thank the Prestige program for is allowing me to skip out on taking gym, meaning that I don’t have to wear those ugly shorts ever again!

7:15 swings by and I am heading out the front door.

“Izzy, remember to add some carrots to your lunch tray at school.  They are supposed to improve eyesight.” Said my mother, ever-so calmly reminding me of the fact that my glasses are as thick as haunted house fog.

“Will do.” I murmured; also wondering how she knew there would be carrots available at the school’s cafeteria.  I made my way to Joenby and what shouldn’t have been any more than fifteen minutes felt like an hour.  This was the first time in my life that I was able to walk to school, so I felt as though I might as well take in the scenery of my commute.  The sun was higher than it was when I first got up to read, but you could tell that it was still a wee bit cranky, wiping the morning dew from its bright eyes.  On the way to school, I passed through the city’s downtown, an area filled with a wide range of shops, eateries, and churches.

“Good Morning, mademoiselle!  How are you?  Would you like ze bite?”

A rather old and fresh-off-the-boat-sounding French man popped out of his bakery to offer me a mini Napolean.  It was as if he knew that I was the child of French immigrants!  Although my parents can speak both French and English flawlessly, I admit had a much tougher time trying to do the same.  Still, I mustered up the courage to bust out my “frenchiness” on him.

“Uh……non, s’il vous plait.  De rien.”  What was I thinking?  As I continued walking down the street, I passed by a very long line of people.  There had to have been at least one hundred people waiting in line outside of what I eventually came to see was a church; a very beautifully-aged building that was one of the highlights of Smithfield.  Curious, I paused for a moment to contemplate taking a peek inside.  I took a look at my watch and  realized that I still had plenty of time to make it to school, so I simply took to what I liked doing best: exploring (or more like peeking).  After posing in the line for a few minutes, I managed to make it inside of the church and see what all the fuss was about.  Little did I know that what I would come to witness would rock my world.

 

 

 

 

Figured Out

Tracy Chapman + Michael Jackson = The Weeknd

I guess we all boast influences from one source or the next, but I’ve (lately) never come to realize one so specifically precise as this………….and I liiiiiik…uh………..loooooooooove it. And I love it.

Truth is, I don’t think life has to be figured out, but exploration simply feels necessary in order to keep us all afloat. Would you rather pray for the turbulent winds to brush your raft along, or would you rather sail in silence for fear of movement? Would you loooove it?

Almost Halloween

As per the previous post, I’m really getting into the spirit of Autumn right about now.  Jazz club affair.  Not too dark, not too bright, but just right.  Halloween seems to be the “holiday” that embodies that feeling like no other ‘cuz folks legitmately want to be spooked, and yet, wanna see the smiling faces of the babies who trot around from house to house, decked out in the latest in Tigger n’ Pooh costume wear.  “Tick or tweeeeeeeeeeeeeet”

Now/Then

“I would at times feel that learning to read had been a curse rather than a blessing. It had given me a view of my wretched condition, without the remedy. It opened my eyes to the horrible pit, but to no ladder upon which to get out. In moments of agony, I envied my fellow‐slaves for their stupidity. I have often wished myself a beast. I preferred the condition of the meanest reptile to my own. Anything, no matter what, to get rid of thinking! It was this everlasting thinking of my condition that tormented me. There was no getting rid of it. It was pressed upon me by every object within sight or hearing, animate or inanimate.”

-Mr. Frederick Douglass

…starting to echo some of his sentiments, as of late.