Skip to content


October 3, 2010

I gave Chris season tickets to the symphony this year.  It’s not quite like Homer giving Marge a bowling ball, since Chris likes the symphony, but the subject did come up when we went last night.

The program centered around a universal theme.  We heard Strauss’ Sphärenklänge  (Music of the Spheres) and Schubert’s “Unfinished” Symphony during the first half of the program.  The second half was Gustav Holst’s The Planets.

During the performance of The Planets, the DSO projected a series of images of the planet being performed (Venus: The Bringer of Peace, etc.) on a giant screen above the orchestra, footage courtesy of NASA and the Jet Propulsion laboratory.  Prior to each movement, a narrator told us what the images would be so that we would know what we were seeing. The effect was similar to that of the rock-n-roll laser light shows I used to go to at the Miami Planetarium, but more erudite, and not so many lasers.  I was glad I had not stuffed a laser pointer in my purse.  I bet Chris is glad too.

On the way home, I asked him why live performance is so much better than listening to recorded music, even though recordings don’t have the mistakes and missed notes you sometimes get live.

“When they record it, they have a limited number of microphones but when you hear it live, the music comes at you from all directions.”  Chris is so wise.

Holst’s music is supposed to inspire self-reflection, and so my thoughts drifted toward memory during the movement entitled “Saturn: The Bringer of Old Age,” which harkens to a particular goal of mine, and which reminded me of how close I have come to not seeing Saturn’s promise come to fruition. When I was sick, a great many people urged me to get out and do the things I enjoy with the unspoken, or occasionally spoken, message, “Don’t just sit around in your pajamas playing Warcraft all the time.” Specifically, my friends and family urged me to get out and go hear some live music.

I refused.

I refused for several reasons, all falling under the large umbrella of “I don’t want to.”

When I was hit with the double whammy of death, advanced cancer and the chemotherapy strong enough to kill it, I felt too sick to listen to music. The notes blurred into a cacophony that made me want to pull a pillow over my head and sleep.  Often, silence would have the same effect, but for a time, music ceased to exist for me.

I knew I could not sit still for a 90-minute program, even with an intermission, without having to vomit.

I was afraid of the scene, of being seen, of showing up and thereby ruining the experience for others. Generally,  I did not have the sense of shame that some cancer patients often have because of our altered (batshit scary) appearance.  I wore the same baggy jeans everywhere, and a large sweatshirt, sunglasses and a ski cap, and if I made people uncomfortable I took passive aggressive pleasure in that.  But dressing up for the symphony is fun, and of my alternatives, to go in jeans and a sweatshirt, or to get dressed up and fake it, the best option by far was to stay home and play Warcraft. Now, when I see people out in public  whose appearance sets them apart not in a good way —  amputees, obese people, people with terrible teeth, or massive scars or moles or birthmarks, people whose appearance is such that I have to try hard not to do a double-take — I want to tell them how much respect I have for the courage they have shown simply by leaving the house, but of course, I don’t.

Last night I wore my super slinky electric blue halter dress that gives me a 100% chance of getting lucky with Chris and the ancient heirloom knotted silk shawl with the 20 inch fringe that my grandmother gave me on my wedding day, that her grandmother wore on her wedding day, and that she wore on her wedding day.  I felt great about the way I looked.  It was one of the highlights of my evening.

The other highlight was hearing the narrator stumble around the pronunciation of Uranus.  I’ll never grow up.

From → Uncategorized

  1. Mary Knapp permalink

    How fortuitous that the Miami Planetarium Laser Rock show scheduled for November 5, your birthday, is Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here.” I would go, but I hope to be with you in Dallas. Live.

  2. enu permalink

    “The other highlight was hearing the narrator stumble around the pronunciation of Uranus. I’ll never grow up.”

    In that case, you’ve just gotta come kayaking with me here in Concord; a good paddling and up the Assabet.

  3. My husband and I went to see a production of Blast! at a civic center when he was on a life support device that clicked his heart rhythm. He had brought a blanket to muffle the noise, but at intermission the woman in front of him turned around and hissed that he needed to stop messing with, “that plastic cup!” which was confusing because he didn’t have a plastic cup.

    He realized that she was reacting to the machine and pointed out that since it was keeping him alive he was unlikely to turn it off. In the most charming and concerned for her experience kind of manner. I didn’t know a person could turn so many colors at once.

    ((In a twisted way it was my favorite part of the night)).

  4. Nancy Kirk permalink


  5. Anne Slater permalink

    Another reason why live music is different is that every time a piece is performed live, it is different in some way, possibly imperceptible to the audience, to the last time it was performed anywhere, even by the same performer(s).

  6. gale permenter permalink

    I have to say, the part about your chances of getting lucky with Chris made me smile. I couldn’t help but remember his comment from Thurs on loving you in slinky dresses. I also remembered how embarrassed you got when we were talking about working off your rugs. I still have those sites if you want to get that star wars costume. You know the one I’m talking about. 🙂

Leave a Reply to gale permenter Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: