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Monday, August 22, 2011

Bargemusic in Brooklyn, or why birthdays don't suck anymore

In order to make me feel better about looming upcoming birthday next week, Kevin took me out to see a piano concert in Brooklyn. The twist was that the concert was happening on a barge tethered pretty much underneath the Brooklyn Bridge (check out We chose a solo concert, and off to Brooklyn on a Friday night (no kids! No kids! No kids! Have I mentioned NO KIDS!!!!) we went. The girls were abandoned left with their grandmother, aunt and uncle for the night, so we didn’t have to worry about getting back too soon. Kevin looked handsome as usual, I had lipstick on, life was good.

Of course, it had to rain so hard on the way that our car was shaking.
Of course, we got stuck in major traffic in Holland tunnel.
Of course, we left late and made it to the concert 2 minutes before it started.
Of course, we made a few wrong turns around Brooklyn (our GPS didn’t give clear directions for some reason, I guess it was confused that it wasn’t in the suburbs anymore).

But we did make it there in the end. I wasn’t sure what to expect from a concert on a barge: back in mother Russia, you dressed your Sunday best to go to a classical music concert, but here, in the land of whatever-is-comfortable, I just didn’t know. Have I mentioned I don’t get out much?

The concert was fabulous. As someone who is just rejoining the world of occasional kid-free entertainment, I’d appreciate live Sesame Street performance if I’m left along for a few hours and can have half a bottle of wine beforehand, but this was a lot of fun. In my other, more bohemian life, I always liked classical piano music – the sound is clean and effortless, there is not a single false note, provided the player is any good, of course. 

The artist, Julien Quentin, was grand – he played Beethoven’s Sonata #8 in C minor and Liszt’s Mephisto Waltz. He did throw in a couple of improvs that just sounded like adolescent angst and cats to me but I'm an uncooth suburbian, who am I to judge? Plus anyone who graduated from Juilliard School is entitled to experiment and express himself, and we the regular folk need to just sit there and clap our hands together. :)

I love Beethoven and Liszt - they both sound light, crisp and gentle, with the flurry of emotion underneath that lightness, just enough to feel but not to touch and define. I floated away, away, and finally was able to exhale and let go of the last couple of horrible weeks. Stopping for wine and appetizers afterwards made us both feel like our old selves again.

The venue deserves a separate mention: a converted old barge with musty under-the-dock smell and huge glass wall that faces the Hudson and Manhattan; a sign in the ladies' room that reads "If you flush any paper down our toilets, HORRIBLE things will happen"; an old and blackened fire place; a baby grand piano and great acoustics.

There was just a handful of people attending, but they were a colorful mix: younger bespectacled music intellectuals who come off a bit snooty, old Brooklynites who look and smell like dusty fragile library books, a few older couples (men were wearing pleaded shorts and high dress socks which always makes me want to take their hand into mine, gaze them in the eye and ask "why?"), and us.

The music, barge’s gentle rocking and damp semi-darkness, smell of the dock, the rain and lightning outside, lingering effects of the wine – it was perfect to ring in another year of my life. I used to dread birthdays – they always reminded me of things I failed to accomplish, but now I think I’m ok with them. I do my best, I have a lot on my plate and if something falls off, that is fine with me. Or maybe I have simply reached the age (26, always 26, people!! Remember that!!) where it doesn't matter anymore?

A birthday means I survived another year of chaos. J

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