“Now that is what I call settling in and hitting the ground running,” wrote my friend Eric Vazquez on Jan. 13 when I announced on Facebook that I had been accepted as a member of the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus after having been placed on the reserve list for a week. Eric’s observation proved prescient: For the things I had set in motion in the last months of 2011 and the first week of 2012 – changing my Times Herald-Record copy-editing work schedule to Tuesday-Friday, moving to Lodi, N.J., to be closer to New York City so I could try out for the chorus and reinvigorate my massage practice – truly allowed me to hit the ground running. And, despite a few bumps along the way, the literal and figurative exercise has only made me stronger, more confident, more exhilarated with the life I am fashioning.
The highlights in 2012 are many: Singing in Gay Men’s Chorus concerts in March and June and December; singing on a Broadway stage for the first time as part of a choral small group in a fundraising tribute to Sir Ian McKellen in November; singing in North Jersey Chorus concerts in May and December; singing in a fundraiser at Unity of Sussex County in October; tap-dancing in four Ziegler Studio recital performances in June 30-July 1 as I bade farewell to two years of classes with the Zieglers; and singing and tap-dancing to “Le Jazz Hot” from “Victor/Victoria” on my 56th birthday Sept. 2 while doing drag for the first time in the safe environs of Easton Mountain in Greenwich, N.Y.
Also at Easton Mountain, doing cathartic emotional work during two consecutive weeklong Body Electric workshops July 23-Aug. 5 in my first two-week vacation as an adult; enjoying the beauty of Valles Caldera National Preserve and Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico before diving into more cathartic emotional work in another Body Electric workshop in Jemez Springs, N.M.; unexpectedly finishing second (and almost finishing first) in a 5K race Sept. 30 in a time of 20:08; having massage business double in 2012; and returning to the childhood favorite sport of bowling when I joined a fellow chorister’s team at the Chelsea Piers in Manhattan.
Amid the highlights, the structured schedule and the go-go-go pace came transcendent moments that blessed me with their beauty. Among them:
Looking around the room at my fellow choristers in my third Gay Men’s Chorus rehearsal and realizing I was in musical heaven; running along the Jersey Shore between the sun rising over the ocean to the east and the faintly visible moon to the west the morning of my first performance in March with the Gay Men’s Chorus in Asbury Park, N.J.; and hearing my dementia-challenged mother softly singing “Amazing Grace” as I serenaded her with the hymn while I visited her at her nursing home in Succasunna, N.J.
Also: Finding that the hills outside the Easton Mountain grounds and on the road outside the Jemez Springs Buddhist retreat center got a bit easier each day I ran them; mile by mile, week, by week, building my stamina until I was doing 12-mile runs fairly easily in the fall; knowing that the amount and intensity of my singing has increased my capacity for hearing and singing harmony; enjoying a hard-earned “Rain in Spain” aha moment that now allows me to support my singing tones in a more conscious and consistent manner; and standing onstage and looking out at the audiences during my various concerts and realizing I wasn’t nervous, that I love performing and I am so grateful for the opportunities of this year.
May they continue in 2013 and beyond – and thanks to all to who encouraged and supported me in one incredible year. What a rush, indeed.