New Year’s Eve, recaps of Top 10 Everythings were as common as wire coat hangers. Every publication, it seemed, had its list of stuff -- the Top 10 news stories, the Top 10 weather disasters, the 10 sexiest men, the 10 most exciting new products, the 10 most heinous crimes and so on.
I have a list, too. These items are not newsworthy. They’re humdrum, often-overlooked things for which I was grateful in 2012. Ten of them. Give me a break. I’m getting older and I’m delighted by much simpler things than ever before.
1. Music, or lack thereof. I’m thinking about musical pauses. The University of Michigan’s alma mater “The Yellow and Blue” has a breathtaking pause at the end of the 12th measure, right after the word “Hail” that brings tears to my eyes when one hundred thousand people stand and sing -- and pause -- in unison. I get teary eyes when all those people sing the Star Spangled Banner, too. Here’s a link to “The Yellow and Blue” performed by the Michigan Men’s Glee Club and its alumni at their 150th reunion two years ago. Go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lgpp9FEAhsA
Another lovely pause occurs in Samuel Barber’s
“Adagio for Strings.” The short orchestral piece oozes passion and pathos. The emotion builds. After a shimmery violin/viola stair-step crescendo, the
listener’s expectations are suddenly dashed! Egad! An exquisite, breathless pause. Nothing. Take a deep breath. The orchestra resumes softly and slowly recaps the original themes.
2. One tiny piece of dark chocolate, melting slowly on my tongue.
3. The aroma that slaps you in the nose when you open the door to enter a coffee shop.
4. The smell of little boys who have been playing outside in the fresh air all day.
5. Reading aloud to a clean, snuggly small child in his jammies. The smell of that small child’s freshly shampooed hair.
6. The excitement of airport terminals. The parking and waiting in line sucks. I do not like the idea that my purse and laptop must be scanned and that I have to schlep my carryon luggage from the parking lot to the gate. I get impatient with departure changes and boarding lines. But I love the excitement of airports. People are bustling. Some are running. Carts are beeping. Kids are crabby. Parents are either impatient or pushovers, just for the sake of tantrum-prevention. All the food for sale is loaded with fat, salt, carbs and sugar, so you’ve got to eat it or you’ll starve.
7. Leisurely Sunday mornings with a mug of black coffee and a thick newspaper full of brand new articles, updated stories, interesting facts, misguided and guided opinions, a new Sudoku and a new crossword puzzle.
8. Public TV offerings like Downton Abbey and Upstairs Downstairs and Call the Midwife. Most TV shows these days aren’t fit for the dumpster. Public TV has solved that dilemma. If my TV set only showed Public TV stations, the evening news and Frasier reruns, I’d be content.
9. Being so engrossed in a good, thick novel that I have to put it down occasionally to make it last longer.
10. Learning something completely new like how to play Mah Jongg. Or finding out that my Mom and Dad actually wrote love letters to each other. I just unearthed a stack of these. Both of my parents were born and raised in Cincinnati. Just after they got engaged, my dad landed a job at an advertising agency in Detroit. He moved here and she stayed in Cincinnati until after they were married. (This was the 1930s. Things were different then.) He was an artist, so his letters are enhanced with sketches and drawings and cartoons. She was a secretary, so her letters were typed on an old Underwood typewriter. I found the letters in an old chest that was transferred to my basement after they both died. Pretty tame stuff, actually, but I like to think of them as love letters.