Boy, it has been awhile since I last posted.
Tomorrow I leave for Jordanville, NY, which many of you who read this know is the site of the Summer School of Liturgical Music. I get some interesting reactions when I tell people I’m attending a school for choir directors; I guess the “heathen-jellies” (evangelicals) have so brainwashed the American populace that people hear “choir” and start thinking in terms of lugubrious sopranos warbling “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.”
And I’m sitting here wondering why I am doing this to myself — a surprise, since I always speak so glowingly of this course, and I do love it, once I’m there. But at the moment, all I can think of is how much I hate travel, whether or not I’ll remember everything I’ll need to sustain two weeks away from home, the drive, the traffic… And at the moment, that ghastly guesthouse. I do realize that since it’s the guesthouse for a monastery, it isn’t meant to be the lap of luxury. And I do realize that most guests stay there for a maximum of three days, so a little spartan living isn’t beyond the limits of what we consider civilized living — I mean, the toilets are indoors, after all.
But — two showers for up to 45 people?! That’s one per floor, and since there are three floors (the attic having been converted to guest rooms), the folks on the third floor have to catch as catch can for a shower. Each floor boasts five toilets, two for women, two for men, and one in the same room as the shower — but there are eight rooms per floor, and each room sleeps two people, if you are traveling with a companion. And last year, the guesthouse managers had “reserved” two rooms for company they were expecting from Europe, something they aren’t supposed to do — so music-school attendees did have to double up on sleeping arrangements, for the first time since I’ve been attending.
And there are the bugs. The place is out in the country, literally in the middle of nowhere (Route 167 isn’t exactly Route 66), so the creepy-crawlies have to be expected, and none of them are “city bugs” (read roaches) — they just exist in the wild, and occasionally in the house, too. You deal with them. I don’t. I hate bugs.
I have to keep reminding myself that once I’m there, I will love the pure fresh air, the slowed-down pace of life, the daily Liturgy at the cathedral, seeing all my old friends, and most of all, singing for two weeks straight. I will enhance my knowledge of Russian Orthodox Church music, always a good thing. I will exercise my brain with Church Slavonic (a major workout!). And hopefully, I will garner enough spiritual strength in the Russian tradition to see me through another year of Byzantine liturgies, which, by the time you add in the quarter-tones characteristic of Byzantine music, is pretty taxing on the ears.
Time to finish packing. But I do hate travel.