Thursday, November 08, 2007

Like a War... and a Waltz

Oh man, life is sweet. I mean really, really, knock-your-socks-off, head-over-heels, candy-apple-dripping sweet. Reasons:

1. Eaves-dropping on the rehearsal of a group of retired Chengdu musicians who have taken it upon themselves to preserve their local music tradition in the face of encroaching Taiwanese pop.

2. Bang! Bang! Bang! Go the giant painted drums. Then erhu enters, rich and flowing – I mistake it for a chorus of voices. A reeded trumpet and mini mouth-powered organs pulse along behind strange zig-zagged mandolins and a cello.
“What does this sound like to you?” He Bei asks me.
“Like a war”, I say, “…and a waltz.”

3. The first director is young and energetic. He demands attention by yelling and pointing and looking fiercely into his musicians’ eyes while he pauses the score. He winks. They start again, stronger.

4. The cellist looks like a lizard. He wears a blue cap over his taut, thin skin and peers up from behind his hand-written music. He is about two hundred years old and half the size of his cello.

5. The drummers are the same boys I met in middle school band. They stand in the back of the room and bang on cue, then smoke cigarettes and try to look like they own the joint.

6. An old, old, old man enters the room, (three hundred years old, maybe), and the energy changes. His entire wrinkled self is a smile. He takes his time walking to the podium, and the fierce director steps down. This new director is a Buddha. He is a Saint. He is absolutely, definitely, “chosen,” “enlightened,” and/or following “the way.” Or he's got some great skin cream - this man radiates goodness!

7. The buddha raises his small arms and they flop in the air the way a child’s might as she imitates a conductor. Swoosh. Swish. Swishity swoosh. His wrinkled wrists, arms, hips, and eyebrows all take their turns dancing out the opening measures. I am at a loss. Where is the beat? The musicians find it before I do and the waltzing war begins again to the rhythm of his smiling, swimming appendages.

8. Buddha grins. I inhale. The musicians play. They repeat this process every Tuesday and Thursday and I am invited.

...and a few more personal reasons why life is so divinely sweet:

being in love with someone in a nearby timezone (oh holy skype...)
parental units visiting oh-so-soon.
weekends full of cutting-edge intelligent female earth-shaking energy
the true ridiculous nature of this incredible year.