Walking into the Social Security office, getting your form, and borrowing a pen from the security guard. When that one doesn’t work, asking for a different pen. While the security guard is taking care of other folks, hearing a voice from the waiting room chairs: “Anne-Carolyn, do you need a pen?” Turning around to see none other than Lucy Shelton sitting in there and holding up a pen.
We had an hour or to sit together and catch up (she’d been waiting about an hour, I waited about an hour after she left). She is on faculty at Tanglewood, and in 2004 she coached me on two really hard contemporary pieces, sections of Bernard Rands Canti Lunatici and Luigi Dallapiccola’s Four Songs of Antonio Machado, my first foray into 12-tone music. Her gifts extend beyond her musical abilities into the realm of teaching and guiding young singers, and I am still using tools she taught me. I was happy to tell her about my life AT (After Tanglewood), and happy to learn that she lives here and I’ll be sure to bump into her again from time-to-time. (This reminds me of a few other people who live here, teachers and mentors, that I would like to “bump into.” Maybe I’ll make some calls…) Lucy and I will likely see each other again at this concert.
After we’d talked for a while, she reached into her bag and pulled out one of her famous “pitch charts” (they should be famous, if they’re not), and started lightly whistling under her breath as she reviewed some outrageously difficult piece of music for an upcoming concert. (I’ve been planning a post on these charts for almost two years now; maybe I’ll finally get around to it. It is, hands down, the best system I have seen for learning atonal music.) We’re always working, even when waiting at Social Security! (Ok, I wasn’t working. I was reading Dune. But I’m on a break!)
Other moments of note this week:
Seeing KB, a wig & makeup artist from Santa Fe on the corner of the Lincoln Center Plaza. (She is apartment hunting, poor thing.) We exchanged the usual surprised and excited hug, at which one of her friends commented, “How many people do you know in New York City?!” That is the way of this city, isn’t it? I’ve run into four friends or acquaintances on the street in the past week. A true “NY moment,” that unexpected encounter. (I later ran into her boss, who I met in Santa Fe, when we were both out to dinner. This is just one big small town.)
Hearing another singer in my building, or maybe in the building adjacent (we share a common “alley” out our back windows). I don’t think she’s an opera singer, sounds more like a legit music theater voice.
Hearing another woman through the back windows two nights ago scream: “OH MY GOD!!! I JUST SAW A MOUSE!!” Sigh. Yes, we do not live alone in these tiny, old apartments. I chuckled to myself, thinking about what a fact of life in NYC that is, and how even if we don’t see evidence of them, they are still probably around. And then I thought, “You can be logical about it all you want, but you KNOW you’d be screaming and jumping on a chair, too, if you saw one!”
This morning, sitting at my computer, hearing the bustling of street noise. All of a sudden a soft steady pitch joined in with the bustle, and I thought, “Wow, that car needs some attention.” When another pitch joined in with the first, a higher one, I again shrugged it off, assuming it was some cleaner or machine outside. Only when it persisted and started to get louder did I realize what it was: my new teapot!
I’m having my first cup of coffee at home this morning, a real step towards living here and not visiting. A teapot, a French press, freshly ground beans, and a new carton of half-and-half. My morning coffee, in New York.