Black History Month Break, 2020

Last week a choir director, a very kind and talented person I’m glad to know, asked me to come to a Thursday night rehearsal at Immaculate and join the tenor section of his choir for a gig on Saturday. I’m trying to say yes to these things, because Gospel music is a joy to sing and it comes to me pretty easily.  Well, I showed up for the Thursday rehearsal, and the song was kind of hard, it is some contemporary Gospel stuff that required me to pull some notes out of thin air. I left that rehearsal thinking, oh no!  But whatever, I enjoy spending time with them.

On Friday afternoon we got out of school early so I went to lunch with a bunch of teachers. I enjoy my role as the organizer of the weekly faculty skate party. After lunch I went home and tried to practice that Gospel song, and worked on my ukulele homework a little.

On Saturday morning, I got up early and went to the Square Knot for breakfast, and then The Bounty to grade papers. I spent some time in my room later on trying to learn that song, and also trying to figure out how to record multitrack demos with the equipment I have.  For lunch I got some fish and chips at Sunfish and then I got dressed for the choir gig.

I showed up for sound check at the Rainier Avenue Church in Hillman City. The event is a Gospel concert to raise awareness and funds for sickle cell anemia research. It was a pretty cool event, all the neighborhood mainline Protestant churches (which I know nothing about) seemed to be there, and everyone was cool.  We were on pretty early in the program and I was starting to feel a scratchy throat so I didn’t stay too long after we sang.  We sang fine, of course.  Me, I missed a note or two but I managed to keep it all in the cord.  I’m glad I went. By the way, I sang tenor.  I’M NOT A TENOR.  I should probably stop

On the way home I stopped for a vegetarian plate at the Mawadda Café, my favorite spot in Seattle for “Mediterranean food.”  It’s an Iraqi family, the cashier calls me “brother” and one time years ago I peeked around the corner and saw that an employee was using an empty corner of the dining room for the afternoon salah. He looked at me sheepishly, like he wasn’t supposed to disturb the customers, and I looked at him sheepishly, having just intruded on a holy part of his day.  I thought, well go ahead, brother, I don’t mean to bother you. I also thought that if I’m ever an employer it would be nice to have a quiet place for employees to have some peace.

Today I got up early and had a small breakfast at Lost Lake.  They had very the old school country music up pretty loud, and I noticed the three other customers were all black men, each one eating alone.  At one point a Charlie Daniels song came on, and he was singing about how he would defend himself from crime with a 12-gage shotgun.  I thought to myself, wow, this is the wrong neighborhood for that message (there are several restaurants there that display a “no firearms” sign at their entrance).  But before I could complete that thought, someone found the volume knob and turned it way, way down.  Not off, but down, so there was still old school country music playing but you couldn’t hear the lyrics.  After that, the sky started getting light, and the white customers started finding their way in.

I firmly believe that the people who work there should get to pick the music, I’m fine with that. Just let it be known that I prefer a Motown breakfast.  Anyway, I’m not sure if I’m going back there again, their regular breakfast menu was replaced by an expensive brunch menu.

After that I went to mass at St. Therese, where I cantor’ed.  I don’t think I like cantoring.  It was fine of course.

And after mass, I met my friends for brunch at Café Selam, and had a lovely lunch with two colleagues and some visiting French people.  I ended up spending most of the day with them, speaking French the whole time on a walking tour of the Central District and International District.  We stopped for a crèpes at Eastern Café.  We also took a quick peek at the Panama Hotel.

I’m most excited about having spoken French all day.  I learned a bunch of new words, had to ask for a bunch of new words, and magically remembered a bunch of words that I hadn’t thought of in years.  I think after a couple of hours my grammar flew out the window; in the past it used to take me two weeks to achieve that stage.  I think the weirdest part was that I was telling a story about some Aussie and Kiwi friends, and my friend said, wow you did their accent in French!  Which was something I was neither trying to do, nor something I heard myself do, nor something I could do if there was a gun to my head.  But apparently just the thought of New Zealand English was enough to color my French.

Who knows what my French accent is nowadays, anyway; I know my pronunciation is still good, but I also hear something non-French going on.  Tomorrow might be another French day, as we’re scheduled to meet up again at Kerry Park.

I have to practice my ukulele tomorrow though, for real.  I have a lesson tomorrow afternoon.

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