What started in 2008 as my timid re-emergence in the realm of public singing grew full force in 2009 into a series of unexpected musical highlights and one unexpected personal revelation.
Certainly I had no idea that an offhanded remark I made at the end of a church choir rehearsal early in the year would dovetail with the long-held desire of another choir member to lead to a Unity of Sussex County Church variety show on May 30 in which I got to solo with two of my favorite theater songs, “Soon It’s Gonna Rain” and “They Were You” from “The Fantasticks,” and wail during band performances of “Lean on Me” and “Save the Country.” And, earlier in the month, little did I know that a regular church service would provide a showcase for a last-minute solo with my favorite song, “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” in which, thanks to the help of my accompanist/choir director Rick Karabetsos and my continuing voice lessons with Marshall Cooper, I soared and for which I earned an extended standing ovation.
Additionally, given my lack of terpsichorean skills and limited acting experience, I never could have imagined that my performance in the Delaware Valley Opera summer production of “The Merry Widow” as Baron Zeta, who turned out to be the comic relief of the frothy, melodic show, would earn such hearty laughs and that a song-and-dance number with the other male actors, despite our stumbling attempts to learn the steps, would be an audience-pleasing show-stopper. And it was an eventual joy to know that all the hard work of rehearsals with the Pike County Choral Society led to some exquisite blending of voices during a Holocaust Memorial Service in April and performances of Haydn’s “Paukenmesse” in June and Handel’s “Messiah” in December.
But my singing in 2009 wasn’t just group and show oriented. It was enjoying big-band karaoke-track backing as I sang “Night and Day” and “Just in Time,” two of the many songs I performed at weekly karaoke gatherings at Rainbow Mountain. It was honoring the memory of “Aunt” Jean Klewin by singing “On Eagle’s Wings” with the others gathered for her funeral in March. And, a week later, it was singing “Danny Boy,” my father’s favorite song, through my tears during a intense bodywork/psychotherapy session in the workshop Living Full Out as I finally grieved in a way I had not after his death in March 1988.
That workshop, and a second helping of the same in November in which I sang Sondheim’s “Not While I’m Around” for participants, was one of 10 trips that I took in 2009 to Easton Mountain north of Troy, N.Y. When I wasn’t taking a workshop, I was washing dishes and doing other volunteer work or, for one weekend, acting as substitute massage therapist, and I’ve come to love the rural retreat center as a second home. Being there also led me to start dating again, though neither long-distance relationship lasted.
My primary home continues to be my two-room sanctuary at the High Point Golf Club community in Montague, N.J., part of a simple life that helped allow me to pay off a large loan two years early. Montague is an easy commute to and from my 29-years-and-counting day job in Middletown as copy editor at the Times Herald-Record, which, like many newspapers, has been challenged with layoffs and outsourcing and other efforts to stay afloat.
Montague is also 40 miles north of an assisted-living residence in Randolph, N.J., where I engage my mother, Jeannette, 88, in feisty games of Scrabble that she occasionally still wins. In 2009, Mom got to see the high school graduation of another grandchild, my sister’s son, Patrick, while I got to enjoy my Clifton High School Class of 1974 reunion, a reunion largely organized on Facebook, with 190 other classmates at a vintage Clifton hangout, Mario’s Restaurant & Pizzeria.
My 11-year-old part-time massage and CranioSacral Therapy practice continues to provide me with clients new and longtime, and I am thankful to all who travel to me or who invite me into their residences to partake of this service. I love sharing sessions of touch and energy and good health as much as I love to sing, and life is good when I am given opportunities to do both, as I did at times both expected and unexpected in 2009. May I share them with you – or may we at least keep in touch via e-mail – in 2010 and beyond.