May’s synopsis: If you’re not open to folk music, please move along. This a good, solid song. The imagery is strong. And it’s not very long.
May’s rating scale:
Last Thursday I went to Joe’s Pub for a concert. Three folk singers performed to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their independent record label, Red House Records. They took turns singing from their respective repertoires, and more often than not the others joined in with a guitar lick or harmony. Joe’s Pub is a great venue. It’s really intimate, and these particular performers were extremely personable. They have known each other at least twenty years and their cameraderie really added to the show.
The first performer, Eliza Gilkyson, had a song with a whistling lick, and at the end she threw whistles at the audience for us to repeat. Our first time she told us we sucked (we laughed), so she whistled at us again, and we were much better, and by the last whistle, everyone was all together and in tune. That was fun.
The second performer was Cliff Eberhardt. He was more bluesy and could really jam on his guitar. The soundroom had the most technical difficulty with his pickups and monitors, but he didn’t appear awkward or frustrated about the equipment. He still sang and played and sounded amazing. A few of his songs you could really clap your hands to.
The third performer was Lucy Kaplansky. I’ve really taken to her music. Her live voice is completely mesmerizing (the studio doesn’t do it justice), and I appreciate how her songs are singalong. Her songwriting is impressive, and she has great autoharmony (and it probably helped that she knew her friends’ songs). She adopted a daughter from China about five years ago, Molly. She’s now five years old. Lucy wrote “Manhattan Moon” for her.
You say you want to see the moon
Outside of our living room
Over the Manhattan sky
Like we saw last night
You don’t understand where she’s gone
When the morning comes
And I promise you she’ll be back tonight
We’ll find her and we’ll say goodnight
So you look for her in the books we read
In a shadow’s curve you show her to me
Then the sun goes down and she’s there again
Brighter now, your brand new friend
And for me the skyline’s changed
Same old buildings rearranged
The sky’s a richer shade of blue
And the moon’s my new friend too
I used to travel in a straight line
Now I’m walking on a road that winds
You take my hand we take our time
Oh, we take our time
The moon shines on half of the sky
And on the half you left behind
When it’s nighttime here it’s morning there
But the moon’s the same everywhere
While I’m singing you a lullaby
Someone’s waking up on the other side
The moon’s shining on her too
She’ll see it and she’ll think of you
You hear music in everything
The rain’s a drum, the traffic sings
I listen too and I dance along
We keep on dancing when the music’s gone
Nothing frilly. The song follows a basic structure and progression. At the concert, I definitely caught on to the chorus and sang along. I like this song, just because the profoundness is in being able to feel how her having a child changed her view of the world. And I get a true sense of how much she loves her daughter. Reminds me of a couple of moms I know.
what would happen if you combined So You Think You Can Dance and Shark Week? There’s all sorts of swimming and dancing going on in my noggin right now. I’m holding my breath and pointing my toes. Fins to pairs of sharks are slicing the ocean’s surface, perfectly synchronized; perfectly choreographed, ready to chomp on some unsuspecting human, except the human will survive to tell his story and reenact his own attack. As a waltz. Or a Broadway routine. Sharks with jazz hands, people. Black-tipped jazz hands.
Back in June 1988, I waited at the Li’l Champ convenience store at the corner of State Road 218 and Blanding Boulevard in Middleburg, Florida. It was early Monday morning, the week after school let out. Before long, a school bus pulled into the parking lot, and I boarded with my small, blue suitcase. I looked at the bus crowd, and noticed other young women like myself, supposedly ages 12 to 16. I saw a couple of chaperones, as well as other girls I knew.
The bus took us to O’Leno State Park, in High Springs, Florida, not 20 minutes from Itchetucknee Springs. This is was my first year going to my church girls’ camp. I was twelve years old, and I was pretty nervous. It was kind of a last-minute decision of my parents to let me go, so I had no idea what was going on.
An hour and half later, the bus passed through the park entrance and pulled into the campground, joining other buses. Groves of trees towered and shaded the surrounding ground. The leaders corralled us into the mess hall, where we would find out our cabin assignments. Usually 12 or 13 cabins were used. I don’t remember all my cabin buddies, or even my cabin leader’s name. Sorry, y’all.
We had classes that occupied our days that week, such as first aid. We had requirements to pass off in order to make it to the next level the following summer. The first year girls were known as yearlings. Second: Mountaineers; third: Inspirators (is that even a word?); fourth: Adventurers.
In first aid we learned CPR and the Heimlich maneuver and how to tie a few cravats for bandages and maybe a chair-carry for the injured. We learned about pressure for bleeding and bugbites and broken bones and burns and ticks. In the infirmary the nurses kept ticks taped to posterboard, a “tick chart” to keep track of the sizes of ticks they plucked from lucky girls during the week.
In campcrafter class we learned about knots and knives and orienteering and building fires and being friendly to the earth and cooking our own meals outdoors. We went on hikes that required us to wear a hat and long pants and a long-sleeved shirt with a collar, anything that would catch ticks. In humid, boggy Florida during the summer. The leaders advised us not to shave our legs prior to coming to camp so that we could more easily feel the ticks crawling.
For swimming class we learned how not to drown. My first year my cabin leader gave me the award for being Most Likely to Drown in the River. I still suck at swimming, people. At the creek where we swam stood a 15-foot tall platform where we could jump off. Most of the girls just sat on the floating dock. I dove off the platform and learned how compressible water is to the top of one’s head.
Crafts class was fun sometimes, except I didn’t like the projects very much, but I enjoyed hanging out with the girls.
The cabins were made of wood, and each of them held four bunk beds – metal frames, small, slablike mattresses with the light green vinyl covers. We brought our own bedding. Over the years I learned to bring a fan. I bunked with six other girls and a cabin leader my first year. Everyone seemed really nice. I was incredibly quiet then, but I enjoyed watching everyone else interact.
The food was usually pretty good. Women from church volunteered to cook for the week camp was in session. We sat at tables, cafeteria style. We learned when it was our turn to eat. It was a different order for every meal. We read from the mailbag, and we sang to the latecomers, they’ve been primping, now they’re late, come a little sooner, we won’t wait.
We learned a fun cup game while we waited for our turn. Two claps, three drums to the bottom of the cup facing up, one clap, pick up the cup with the right hand and set it to the right slightly (boom); clap, pick up the cup with the right hand, bringing the cup’s mouth to the palm of the left hand, set the cup down right side up (boom), pick the cup back up and put in the left hand, bang the right palm on the table (boom), and place the cup mouth down on the table space of the person to the right. The rhythm starts over and gets faster until your cup ends back in front of you. I still remember it, obviously.
The days began with a flag ceremony at the flagpole. A cabin was in charge of raising the flag, leading the Pledge of Allegiance and reading a scripture and starting the day with prayer. The days ended at the flagpole, usually just before dinner. Another cabin lowered the flag, folded it correctly (another thing we learned in campcrafter) and blessed the food.
Each cabin had chores throughout the week. Everyone hated the bathrooms. Imagine anywhere from 70 to 100 girls sharing bathrooms and showers for a week. Then imagine any number of them being on their periods during that week. Not an anomaly, but close to The Twilight Zone. I liked being in the kitchen. I liked flag ceremony. I liked sweeping out the lodge.
We had some sort of program every night in the lodge after dinner. Learning camp songs, spiritual activities and lessons. Practicing our skits. Skit night was Thursday night, when family members and stake leaders visited. Sometimes the skits were great. I remember being a part of some really lousy skits. I don’t recall what they were about, but I get embarrassed just trying to trudge up the memories.
We learned about pranks. Once I borrowed a salt shaker from the cafeteria and sprinkled salt in the bed of a cabin and a girl I did not know. Imagine lying down to sleep one humid, summer night and your bed suddenly leaches all the moisture from your skin. That’s not a fun prank; that’s mean. That’s something I never confessed to, either. I returned the salt shaker, but I kept mum. Then I also participated in helping wrap the leaders’ cabin in fishing wire while they slept. Pretty awesome, and far more benign. Who would have thought a church girls’ camp would send me to hell?
We had “girl talk” in the cabins after the evening program, when we were supposed to be getting ready for bed and sleeping. Our cabin leader conducted a birds-and-bees discussion one evening my first year. We were all tucked away in our bunks. Well, the first time, it hurts. And yes, there’s a little bit of blood, but that doesn’t happen every time. Yeah, it gets pretty big. How big? Well, LALALALALALA LALALALALALA HUMMANAH HUMMANAH. This was not what my 12-year-old ears wanted to hear.
We learned about boys, who were completely off-limits during camp week. Word was that the Scout camp was on the other side of the creek, just across the bridge. Sometimes the boys would pass through our camp and we’d gawk and smirk and sometimes giggle at each other. Imagine a teenage girl’s raging hormones. Then imagine 70 to 100 of them. All in one place.
Friday morning, we’d all go tubing down Itchetucknee Springs. Clear, cold water, peaceful. We’d end up sunburnt but with blue lips from the frigid water. Everyone looked forward to it, especially if the summer was unforgivingly oppressive. Then we’d return to camp and relax the rest of the day before dinner and before testimony meeting.
Friday night testimony meeting was a big deal. We sang songs like “I Walk by Faith” and “Walk Tall” to bring a calm spirit to the meeting, which was necessary after all the female-adolescent shriekiness all week. Back then, we arranged the benches in the lodge in a circle, we brought our blankets, and we listened to testimonies late into the night, to the point of girls falling asleep on the floor. There was a lot of crying and saying how much we’d learned and loved the girls in our cabins even if we started out as strangers or hating each other. I won’t ever forget the way those testimony meetings made me feel.
Saturday morning, we packed, cleaned out our cabins, did our chores and had breakfast. We exchanged phone numbers and addresses. We all hugged and compared treats and ugly crafts and picked up scraps around the campground. We doused all the smoldering coals. That first year, I boarded the bus that took me back to Middleburg, a metropolis compared to High Springs, even in 1988 when most of the roads weren’t yet paved. I planned in my mind what I’d bring next summer. I dreamed who would be in my cabin and of being able to see the new friends I made.
Every year, for four years, I became as we’d left the campground: better than when I had arrived. I guess that was the point.
Hey, everyone. For some reason, this week finds me a little bit flustered. Distracted, I suppose. So, this week’s entries might be a bit light on the content side.
If you come here and see no stories or thoughts or anything remotely May (I assume that’s why you come here), and you wonder what you should do, here are some options:
1. Read past posts. On the sidebar over there, at the top, is a text window for searching. You probably won’t find anything too obscure, unless you’re specifically looking for Bernoulli or Key West.
I haven’t written about everything under the sun,
but sometimes it’s fun
to type in a word to see what posts come up:
many, or one.
2. Check out the Favorite Posts. Those are getting the most frequent clicks throughout the day. That Mormon entry I wrote a couple of weeks ago is getting hit pretty hard.
3. See what I have written on any given day. So far I’ve written every day this year, and you can navigate the calendar and click on a day and this will take you back in time, your own special little temporal fold into the past. My past. Are you ready for that? Are you sure?
4. The Roll and Music Friends and Cool Sites! Click on these to see what some of my friends are up to. I probably need to update it; but some of the blogs I read would not be setting a good example if I put them on my page. That’s the hypocrite in me. But some sites are friends’ blogs I want to keep to myself. That’s just me being selfish.
5. Streaming music! Click on either square with the blue notes in it to hear what I dig or groove to. The songs mostly represent the artists themselves, since I couldn’t find a good rendering of specific songs I like. You can even sing along if you like. Don’t worry, I won’t judge you.
6. They call it Flickr, Flickr, faster than dial-up; everyone, you see, posts pictures like me. Check out the photostream. You should go to my Sets once you get to the page, since that’s how I’ve organized the photos.
7. Monthly archives. Whenever I discover a blog I really like, I go through his/her archives and start from the beginning and catch up. It’s like finding a novel whose jacket synopsis looks really interesting but you won’t get the essence and substance of the book until you dive in. Then again, I’ve written a lot of junk that’s not very engaging. Probably because I’m not engaged. Sigh. Just kidding, people.
8. Oh, check out the pages, up top. Yeah, right there. You are already Home. If you want to find out a little bit about me, go to the About Me page. If you want to contact me, click on the Contact page. That page is new. I like it. Pretty easy.
Anyway, I should pick back up tomorrow with something a little more girthy. If not, help yourself to the sidebar. No limit. Use a clean plate each time, though.
I had a weird dream last night. Part of it involved Q-tips. I have no idea.
Another part of the dream was a field trip. We went sky diving. I remember being in the plane watching the instructional video. Instead of jumping with the trained parachutist, you stepped off the plane first, in a horizontal position to maximize drag, then your expert dove after you, caught you and released the parachute. In this dream, however, there was no distinction between my watching the video and the army guy holding me in the middle of the air. I didn’t realize I was already dropping through the sky. We floated and glided and landed in the middle of the ocean. There was a lot of green algae floating at the surface. Boats picked us up and took us to a base, in the water, where an officer gave us these weird controls with numbers on the buttons and assigned us numbers. I was 8. We were still floating on the ocean; I was with a few people at my station, which was the same boat that picked me up. The officer was yelling numbers through a megaphone, and all of a sudden things were blowing up, and it occurred to me we were in a war zone. I heard “8” and I fumbled and located the button and pushed it and nothing happened. I pushed it again. A submarine passed in front of me and I got the impression that was my target. It collided with a supposed enemy station a few hundred feet in front of me, and everything exploded. The other people on my boat had somehow died, and our boat shattered, and I ended up at the front of the boat, which managed not to sink. The battle was over, and I looked for shelter. I found a larger part of another boat where a few others had gravitated. I started rummaging for a container to keep my cell phone dry. Then rescue boats came and picked us up and then we were on buses that were going to drop us off at our homes. I got out my cell phone and dialed the number of a childhood friend’s parents. Her mom picked up and I asked if my friend was home. She said no. I explained our field trip. I explained that I hadn’t seen my friend and if I heard anything I’d call the mom. My voice cracked as I spoke, and the mom sounded as if she might cry, too. I hung up. The bus turned onto State Road 218, yes, in Florida. I sat and imagined blogging about this experience when I got home, how the first line would be “I killed people today” and I’d express my utter confusion and try to sort out all the implications of war. That last scene repeated on a loop, me sitting at a computer screen, typing “I killed people today” and trying to figure out what else to write while I felt someone had punched me in the stomach and taken away most of the the air in my world because I could barely breathe.
Dear Weather, Thank you for being so cooperative today. It was nice of you being all sunny with a cool breeze and in the mid 80s. You really made my heart sing. Wild thing. Except for the mild sunburn where I couldn’t reach with sunscreen, I think I love you.
Dear Long Beach, Long Island,
Thank you for your soft sand and your perfect water. It felt cool and wonderful and the waves swelled and crashed and just about knocked me over a few times, and I didn’t want the day to end. It’s okay you let a bit too many people lie and play along your coast, and it’s okay some of that sand got in my swimming suit top. The sand formed a small dune on the bathroom floor before I took a shower I after I got home today. I appreciate the ways you help me remember you. You’re the best.
Dear Man in the Turquoise Speedo,
Thank you for standing in front of us at the beach. You provided great entertainment, and not too many could get away with that color and that fabric girding the loins. Unfortunately, you are not one of those people. You don’t care though, and that’s why I respect you. You rock.
It’s good to see you again.
Dear Friends, Thanks for a wonderful day. I haven’t felt quite this relaxed in a long, long time.
This is the last time I’ll update a little bit specifically on feelings that relate to … people. I know that’s vague, but he asked me to apply sunscreen to his back. And I have to help a guy out, you know? And since he also played in the waves, he needed a reapplication. And I have to help a guy out. You know. So, I guess this is a request for you to help me out, because it’s time to keep some things private. If readers want to know details about what whirlwinds are spinning in my head, they can email or call. I hope that’s okay. I really appreciate your help.