Monday, December 29, 2008
Our year of living dangerously
Poor old 2008. As it quietly slips from the building, no one seems sorry to see it go. Everyone is bashing it. Everyone is saying he or she cannot wait for it to be over.
Wow, look at my grammar! Not too long ago I would have schlepped along writing "they" cannot wait, not "he or she." Then I got with Leonard Pennario and his grammar was so impeccable that I trained myself to do that right. Pennario always got the "everyone" thing right. It is singular.
Anyway, about 2008. People at the office are ruing the year because we tragically lost two co-workers we adored. And I share their sorrow. I loved Jay Bonfatti and losing him was tough. Also of course I lost Pennario. That was one of the big deaths of my life even though I had known him less than a year.
Yes, tough deaths in 2008. Harry Taub too. He was my wonderful old violinist friend. He was hired by George Szell to play with the Cleveland Orchestra when he was still in college at Oberlin. Note to out-of-towners: This is the kind of person we run across in Buffalo during the course of our normal lives. We get to go over to their houses and have coffee with them.
These vanished people. This vanishing year! You know what, though, looking back, I am thinking: I do not want to curse 2008 for taking these people away from me. I am so lucky to have known them. I used that reasoning on myself when Pennario died, back in June. I thought: That I met him, and that we had this unusual friendship, was a big blessing and it came out of nowhere. Would I have backed away from it had I known he was going to die so soon? Wow, thank you for asking me that question! Nobody asks me that! No I would not have.
So I am so glad I met Pennario, so glad that all happened. And as I take stock at year's end, it amazes me how he continues to make my life much richer. The scholars who have helped me, the great musicians who have trusted me with their recollections, the strangers who have called me out of the blue ... it boggles my mind. Not to sound like Polyanna, because God knows I don't feel that way, but I also think we should all rejoice that we knew people like Jay and Harry, that we got close to them, and that we weren't schufts who just sat around obliviously and let life pass us by. So no, I don't hate '08. I am already nostalgic for it. I think of it as an emotional year, a roller coaster of a year. It was that! I think also of all the red wine I drank. A goodly amount!
Such philosophizing. Such philosophizing, over morning coffee! Do check out that link above. Those Scots! Including Sean Connery. You have to watch for him.
For 2009, here is what I would like. I want to get my book done and into print. Speaking of the scholars I have met, I got a nice Christmas note from my friend Donald Manildi at the International House of Pancakes, I mean the International Piano Archives, and he said, "Best wishes for the completion -- and publication -- of your book in 2009." That is the International Piano Archives pictured above. I found that shot on the Internet. I am disappointed that they allow in people with backwards baseball caps but I still dream of going there some day.
Reading Donald's note, I thought yes, I will be able to get this done in '09. I do not want to work 10 years on this book although some authors do take that long. You cannot go around for 10 years with a great concert pianist living in your head. Eventually it would wear you out.
So my plan is to take a couple of weeks off very early in the year and wrap this baby up. Plus I ran my mouth to a reporter in England that the book would be out in 2009 and he wrote that so now I have to make good on it.
Meanwhile, not to switch gears, but I hear that right now at the Broadway Market they have cabbages that are sweet and the size of bowling balls. I read that on Facebook. Note to out-of-towners: In Buffalo we use social networking sites to talk about things that really matter.
It might be time for a trip to the Broadway Market. Perhaps today!
Before I do anything, I have to eat.