Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Texas Schoolbook Depository


Ahhh – my first day with nothing to do since we got here! Dr. Hawn phoned up to check on us this morning and he and Collyn offered to take us, along with Ulston and his wife, to see the sights of Dallas. Namely, they offered to bring us to the Sixth Floor Museum, which is set up in the building of the Texas Schoolbook Depository and which houses artifacts to do with John F. Kennedy's assassination. That sounded far more interesting than doing the laundry, so off we went.

I was completely unprepared for how moving the experience would be. I know unlike some people David and I were not alive when the actual events happened, but it still felt like a piece of real history from our time that we were being immersed in. Ken Cooper told me that Dallas has never quite recovered from the shame of its role in Kennedy's death, and that was really shown by the installation. Two parts of the museum really struck me deeply. The first was standing at the window where the shooter stood and looking down at the street the motorcade was on. There are two large white X's painted on the street about ten metres apart showing where the two fatal shots were fired.

The second one I would have missed, but David called me over to show me. When the assassination happened, Kennedy had been on his way to an official luncheon. There in a glass display was the entire place setting that had been laid out for him, that he never got to use.

Another haunting image at the museum was the photograph of Lyndon B. Johnson being sworn in as the President in the cabin of Air Force One, with Jackie Kennedy at his side less than two hours after the assassination. She looks sad but also kind of detached – she was probably in shock. The whole experience was quite intense.

We felt like we'd gotten a bit of American/Dallas culture after that (though it sounds like an awful thing to say!) We also went over to the (in)famous Grassy Knoll. After that, we got a taste of real Texan food at Sonny Bryan's Smokehouse. David and I shared a plate of pulled pork, beef brisket and pork ribs – mmmm! (We're off food for a while now, though).

First Week of Classes

In the planning stages of our move to Dallas, I received three or four emails from the university with various dates and times of MANDATORY events I had to attend in my first two weeks on campus. I put them all on one big schedule (because I'm compulsive that way) and have spent the last two weeks trying to survive it. The diagnostic exams were no small part of that, and I'm happy to report that I got through those with favourable results (like that Canadian spelling?). The schedule I wrote out didn't reflect the fact that classes also happened to start halfway through it, so – I've been running around quite a bit.

On Monday I went and found the Perkins bookstore, which is in the basement of Bridwell Library (a smaller library associated with Perkins). The store is called Cokesbury and is actually a chain – it is the bookstore of the United Methodist Church. Our Perkins books are there, and my books for Meadows classes are at the Barnes and Noble down the way – which doubles as the SMU bookstore. When I went to get books there, I picked up a couple of items of SMU paraphernalia – I'm told school spirit is way big down here. Only they just call it "spirit", and I guess I could have skipped buying a SMU shirt, because everywhere I've turned this week there has been a free t-shirt of some kind. But I digress.

I only have one class on Mondays, called "Introduction to the Organ". It could also be referred to as "Organist Psychology 101" – it's a class for us choral MSMs to take to help us talk intelligently to organists. The professor is Dr. Larry Palmer, who told us an anecdote that he was once told by a conductor in front of the whole orchestra that the organ sounded "too Protestant", and he hopes to make us better communicators than that!

Tuesday was filled with classes, the most exciting of which being Conducting I, which is taught by Dr. Pamela Elrod. She seems very sharp – and she brought brownies for us. Major points there. She talked to us about doing score analyses where we "map" the piece of music we are preparing to conduct out on a kind of timeline, which is very cool and appeals to every nerdly impulse I have. As a consequence of taking this class, I would like to report that I have ordered my first-ever baton – stand by for how I do with that!

On Tuesday evening all the MSMs (first- and second-years) were invited to Dr. Hawn's house for a dinner and – of course! – rehearsal. It was great to get to chat with all the people in my programme together – less than a dozen of them in total. We all make up a fairly diverse palette of Christian experience, with United Methodists, Presbyterians (U.S. and Canada), Catholics, and Episcopalians. Those that are from the same denominations come from differing geographical locations – Antigua being the most far-flung example. The informal rehearsal in preparation for Thursday's "Feast of Beginnings" chapel service was my first chance to hear the MSMs singing together – what a sound. Sadly, I didn't get to sing with them at the service because I had a class. Drat!

On Wednesday we had a sort of welcome assembly for Meadows students in the very snappy Caruth Auditorium, which houses one of two 2-million-dollar organs at Meadows. Dr. Palmer played an amazing piece on it to begin the meeting, which later concluded with a performance by the Meadows Wind Ensemble. They were actually more of a brass group – is it lame I was expecting flutes and recorders? They were incredible.

On Thursday during my Intro to Graduate Studies class – which is really a research methods class geared towards music students – we got acquainted with the resources at the Hamon Arts Library at Meadows. I ran over after class and got in on the last twenty minutes of chapel (singing my part from the back of the room!) and ended up, by coincidence, taking communion side-by-side with David, who was all robed up and singing with my classmates. We got a free pizza lunch, and later a free barbecue dinner courtesy of our residence – our kind of day. Thursday was also our first meeting of Church Music Colloquium, which all the MSMs take together and which is taught jointly by Drs. Hawn and Anderson. And yes, we had the infamous quiz on the syllabus – I did well enough, but in the end it wasn't to be graded. Not sure whether to laugh or cry over that one.

On Friday, I had Interpretation of the Old Testament. I'm looking forward to the chance to take an in-depth look at the Bible in this way, and lucky for me I ended up in a very small section with only seven students. The prof, Dr. Scholz, is brand-new to SMU and seems very interesting. It will be heavy on the reading of course – but that's why I'm here.

I had the afternoon off, so David and I biked over to the local small movie theatre (the Angelica) and saw an absolutely incredible movie – "Man on Wire". It's a documentary about Phillipe Petit, the tightrope walker who covertly and illegally strung a cable between the World Trade Centre towers and walked across. I really recommend you find it and see it – it's a deeply moving film.

First Pres

(This one's long – you might want to get a sandwich or something.)

My first weekend in Dallas was spent in a whirlwind of getting acquainted with the church where I will be an intern for the next two years – First Presbyterian Church, Dallas. The music directors at "First Pres" are Ken and Mary-Jane Cooper. Ken directs the adult choir (Chancel Choir) while Mary-Jane does children's musical programmes (they of course both do a whole lot more than that, but that's an easy way of summing it up). We connected with the two of them mid-week and planned to go for lunch on Saturday. Mary-Jane picked us up in front of the Perkins Chapel (a handy pick-up spot since it's so recognizable) and took us to meet Ken at the church.

We drove into the older downtown area of Dallas and Mary-Jane pointed out sights to us, finishing as we rounded a corner by saying "and there's the church". At first I couldn't see it – all I saw was a neo-classical palace filling up my entire view. Oh, wait - that's the church.

Ken met us in his office and we all went on a tour of the building. The church has been built up over the course of several renovations and can be divided into distinct sections – it's a bit of a maze inside. I tried not to get overwhelmed as Ken showed us room after room of offices, meeting rooms, children's resources, Sunday School classrooms, storage rooms of props, storage rooms for craft materials, and listed off a seemingly endless number of staff members. It seemed there was a grand piano in every other room. The sanctuary is gorgeous and has a very nice acoustic. It seats around a thousand people between the main floor and a large balcony. The chancel area is beautiful and the space feels like a nice mix between contemporary and modern.

I tried to keep reminding myself "don't worry, this place is huge, but you're only in charge of a very small piece of it." David and I both agreed later, however, that the church has a huge amount of resources, yes, but they are using every scrap of what they have. All their rooms are hopping all the time with community groups, adult learning classes, and community outreach efforts. In their sister building, the Stewpot, the church runs a kitchen for the homeless that serves three meals a day, seven days a week, feeding seven hundred people per sitting.

We had a nice lunch that was a chance to get to know Ken and Mary Jane a little. They are both very busy people who clearly love the church. The area is very interesting – it is a largely abandoned area known as the "older" part of downtown, but the oldest buildings can't be more than a hundred years old and most look brand new. Development has moved on in favour of another area, so these blocks – which have the physical look of a dense downtown core – were still and empty on a Saturday afternoon. It's a neat feature of First Pres that the church elders did not elect to move out to the suburbs when the area changed, but stayed here to minister to the poor and inner-city citizens in the area – though most of the congregants do come in from said suburbs.

After lunch, Mary Jane took David home, sending him with a bunch of items that kind choir members (who hadn't even met us yet!) donated to help us get set up here. Ken and I drove out to Waxahachie, Texas – a place I can honestly say I never dreamed I'd find myself in this life. We drove in his 1994 Mazda Miata (who knew?) to go visit the youth group at their yearly weekend planning retreat (!) I was pretty amazed by the organization of the group and the smart, quick, democratic way they all chose their year's activities together. Ken introduced me to the group, which numbers about forty – and apparently most of them will be wanting to join the youth choir, which I will lead. Ken was very interested that I had brought some music down with me (Canadian content!) and has already slotted all of my choices into the choir's schedule, at times in place of pieces he had planned.

The next morning, David and I attended the service at First Pres – my first and last chance to be a congregation member. It was a nice service and we both agreed we liked the sermon by the minister, Joe Clifford – however, it's interesting to start to see the differences in cultural assumptions between Toronto and Dallas. He spoke very intelligently on issues concerning the increasing multiculturalism in Dallas – specifically, that people from so-called "minority groups" may outnumber Caucasians in the near future, and how "we" fret about what that will be like. Well – they should come hang out in Toronto and we'll all go for shwarma!

Ken gave me a tour of my office (last year I shared with the custodian; this year I share with the choir robes) and then took David and me around for a tour of various storage rooms where we could take things we needed for our apartment! We got a bedside table and bookcase, and Ken even lent David his bike which he doesn't use anymore for while we're here. They are being so kind to us. I also already have a job for while Ken is away for the next two weeks – to set up communion at the early chapel service. The chapel, by the way, is practically a whole other building and has its own organ and grand piano. Gorgeous.

The next Wednesday I attended my first Chancel Choir rehearsal, which is part of my job. I'm looking forward to being a part of the group. We are doing a beautiful Bob Chilcott piece called "We Will Walk Softly" (I love Bob Chilcott. Seriously.) We are also doing "Worthy to be Praised", which I did in BCC years ago, and it made me miss Linda and choir. A woman named Joanne is substituting while Ken and Mary Jane are away (to visit the Taizé community – wow!) and she adjourned the practice early because she and some choristers wanted to go watch the presidential debates. It's going to be very interesting being down here for the upcoming election!

Now I'm really looking forward to planning the first Youth Choir rehearsals. I hope they like me. :) In other related news, I recently finally heard the recording I did with my Royal York Road United Church junior choir and youth band of John Bell's "Don't Be Afraid" – they sound great, and I'm so proud of them!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Photo Update

This past week was my first week of classes, which I'll write about soon!

Here are some of the sights around campus. We live in Hawk Hall, which is tucked in behind Perkins Chapel along with three other residences.




Bishop Blvd. - the main road. Perkins and Meadows are off this street, and very close to our residence.

Meadows School for the Arts.


Perkins School of Theology.
Perkins Chapel (which is completely gorgeous inside and out. I had to miss the opening worship service for the term because I had class - boo - but David sang with the other MSM students!)

...and, last but not least, the newest member of our family - my new bike! Brand new, and leased for the year for $10 from the shi-shi fitness centre on campus. No gears, no hand brakes - completely awesome.


Go Mustangs, apparently.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Confession

Dad.

I stole your United Methodist Hymnal.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

First Week at SMU

We made it! This past week has been a real whirlwind, and this is the first chance I've had to write about it. First, we arrived into Dallas on Monday to pouring rain, which actually was good because it meant the temperature was quite mild. (Apparently we just missed a 21-day streak of temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit). A second-year student named Carmen picked us up and took us to campus. She very kindly brought us around to the various places I needed to go – to pick up my student card, get our room key, and check in at the Perkins office. It was well after 2pm by the time we were done all this, and we hadn't had a meal yet – we were starving! Luckily, there's a tasty sub place not far from campus (our replacement Happy Sailor, I think!)

The Perkins office had organized to have some helpful items there to give us, to tide us over until we got settled. This was great, as it was several boxes of kitchen staples, bedding, dishes and household stuff. I felt very welcomed. I also finally got to meet the people in the office I've been talking to on the phone for so long – especially Mary Gallegos, who is apparently known around Perkins as "Saint Mary". Collyn Hawn, Dr. Hawn's wife, came by to see us later in the afternoon and very kindly took us shopping to a couple of places with Ulston, the other international student, and his wife. So, we got to meet them and get some groceries at the same time!

The first few days were packed. David did a huge amount to get us organized and settled, from setting up the internet to scrubbing the kitchen clean. Oh, and did I mention we have a dishwasher? I'm seriously thrilled about that.

My first few days were occupied with surviving the Meadows graduate student diagnostic exams. As an MSM student, I'm jointly a student of Perkins (the theological seminary) and Meadows School for the Arts. Meadows requires students to take music history and music theory exams, to determine if you need to be placed in graduate review courses. Being put in these courses would put a major kink in my being able to complete my programme in two years (which, as an international scholarship student, I am required to do). The exams were huge – we were basically told to review all of Western music history and an equally broad span of music theory practices. Both exams, which were one day apart, were three hours long, and I used every minute of the time. Happily, I found out yesterday that I did well on them and can go right into the regular stream of course work. Phew!

The week was also full of the requisite student orientations, such as International Student Orientation (subtitle: How to Stay on the Good Side of the Office of Homeland Security), Health Centre Orientation, Perkins New Student Orientation, and Where Can I Get a Coffee Orientation.

Our student apartment is nice and pretty spacious, with more storage space than we had in our old apartment. Of course, we have way less stuff, so it's a bit of a moot point! Our boxes of stuff arrived by UPS yesterday, so David was very happily unpacking and organizing things. The boxes were in pretty good shape, thanks to David's massive taping job, and only a couple of not too important items were broken. We also didn't have to pay exorbitant "brokerage fees", which we were fearing. All in all, it was a very economical way to get our stuff down here to us.

I'm glad to have survived the first week, and am looking forward to starting classes this coming week (I even almost have my schedule worked out). I'll also be starting to meet the staff and youth at First Presbyterian Church, which is where I'll be working.

In other news, grocery stores here are enormous. I mean, Dominion and those places in Toronto are big, but when we went shopping the other day I was glazing over. There is so much variety that the jam is on a different aisle completely from the peanut butter. David just got back from a shopping trip where he was buying a Brita; the water in Dallas tastes very strongly of chlorine. He looked in the kitchen gadget section and didn't find anything like that, and figured they must not carry water filters. But, he asked an employee who set him straight right away:

"Oh yeah, it's in the water aisle."

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Crossing the Mississippi

August 17 - This morning we packed up our bags once again and made ready to check out of our hotel. The Chinatown Hotel (bless its budget heart) has no elevator, so while I guarded our growing pile of belongings, David shuttled our four exceptionally heavy bags down the stairs (yes – I did get the better end of that bargain). While David was making a trip, all of a sudden there was what – I swear to you – sounded like a grenade explosion, followed by rapid machine-gun fire. The sounds were very loud and very close. A car alarm went off. I was alarmed and wondered when the guerilla army would burst around the corner. "I didn't picture myself dying in a hotel in Chicago at nine a.m. on a Sunday", I thought. But I realized something was up when I noticed that neither the hotel clerks nor anybody on the street seemed alarmed by the (very loud) sounds. Finally, I crawled out from inside the Ming vase and asked the desk clerk what the sound was. "Oh," he said without much interest, "probably fireworks."

Okay, fireworks at nine in the morning. I should have known. Oh well, we lived.

We dragged our suitcases into a taxi and drove to Union Station, whose architecture is the only remaining example of the grand old stations that were built at the turn of the century. It is strikingly beautiful. We checked in and got rid of our luggage (yes!) and then went to the Metropolitan Lounge, which lucky for us we got to use because we had a sleeper room. In the lounge we got rid of our carry-on bags (YES!) and took some time to explore the area, as we had lots of time to spare before our 2pm train. We saw the beautiful Lyric Opera of Chicago building, as well as a location of cinematic interest (more on that later).

After getting some food and reading material we relaxed in the lounge, which we were very grateful for as the main area had gotten really crowded. After not too long we were called to board the train, and were showed to our amazing and adorable roomette. Wow – this is the way to travel by train. We had seats facing each other that convert to become one bed, and a fold-down second bed above that. The apartment is very compact and so nice to relax in and take in the view.

We have met many characters in our short time here! Notably today was the woman who checked us in at Amtrak, who was a mixture of kind and crabby; alternately being sympathetic to us with our heavy bags and roughly ordering people back into line who didn't stay at the rope like she wanted them to. Also, our attendant on the train was Tony and he was hilarious, with a broad Texan accent and exuberant manner. He was ribbing us for being the quintessential newlyweds taking the train (we didn't bother to explain we were married last October) and teased David for (allegedly) stealing his newspaper. We could hear him giving an equally enthusiastic "welcome aboard" spiel to each sleeper cabin on our car.

The first part of our trip took us through lots of great small American towns, such as Lincoln and Springfield. The sun was setting as we had dinner in the dining car, chatting with a man from Austin who says we have to visit the city during our time here. Soon after we got back to our room, we hit an amazing milestone – the gently twisting Mississippi river, which we crossed around 8pm this evening. There was an enormous coal ship floating down the middle of the river – not the paddle boats you see in movies set at the turn of the century, but still very cool. On our train route, the river marks the border between Illinois and Missouri. It made me feel pretty far from home – we're definitely on an adventure now if we're crossing the Mississippi!

We'll sleep through most of our passage through Arkansas and wake up in the state of Texas. As I'm writing, David is reading a book above my head – he's on the upper bed and I get the one with the view. (I got the better end of that bargain, too!)

We're looking forward to getting settled in our new home-away-from-home, and to unpacking our suitcases that we've been living out of for what feels like a month! We're so glad our trip has gone as smoothly as it has – a wee bit of divine intervention in there, I think.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Chicago, Day 3 - Hey, is that Scarlett Johansson and Topher Grace?

We spent our morning today at the amazing Art Institute of Chicago. We were a bit early so we sat in a beautiful sunken-down garden next to the museum. We've had beautiful weather for our days here. Once inside the museum, we wandered around the more classical exhibits first (taking in the Georges Seurat painting of "Ferris Beuller's Day Off" fame) and then headed for the modern area. We saw Monet, Degas, Géricault, Cassat, Picasso, Pollock, and many more. Our time in the modern area culminated in seeing the "American Gothic" (which I didn't know was in the museum) as well as the famous "Nighthawks" painting of a lonely American diner at night. (Also, randomly, we saw a painting of Tara as a Russian princess in the basement. I kid you not.)

We walked around some more and had lunch down by the river at a place called "O'Briens" – and thought of our favourite O'Briens, of course. After that, we walked along the Magnificent Mile – a feast of Chicago's downtown architecture. When we couldn't walk anymore, we took the subway back to Chinatown and crashed for a while.

Later in the evening we had an amazing, delicious meal at a place called Landmark, a few subway stops away from us. If you are ever in Chicago, I highly recommend you go here. We had a genuinely friendly waiter who explained to us that the chef cooks with only local and seasonal ingredients, bought at the neighbourhood market down the street. Very Jamie Kennedy – I couldn't help but be reminded of our wedding. Before our food arrived we were treated by the chef to a cold carrot soup cup. I had a delicious heirloom tomato and mozzarella salad to start, followed by the best pork chop I've ever eaten – with cheddar grits, sweet onion relish and dill. (The pork chop was enormous of course, but I shared with my dining buddy). With our dinners the chef also treated us to a side of grilled zucchini – we started to wonder if they'd mistaken us for somebody famous...! We had a great dinner and great conversation.

When you try this restaurant (and I know that you'll run off to Chicago right now just on my recommendation) you have to have the "Gigantic Chocolate Cookie" topped with ice cream and chocolate sauce for dessert. Well, maybe no one would appreciate it as much as me; it was like someone looked into my heart and made a dessert out of what they found. ;) David and I both agreed that this was a big success, especially for a place we just chose online.

Tomorrow we board the overnight train to Dallas! Here is a map of the route we'll be taking, and our very cool city-by-city route guide.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Chicago, Day 2 – I'm so full!



David and I are having a great time in Gotham City (no Batman sightings as of yet, though). Chicago, like Dallas, is one hour behind Toronto, so we woke up pretty early. But that meant we could get a head start on our little faxing chore. When we shipped our boxes last week, we thought we had all the paperwork covered, but after the boxes left Mailboxes Etc. on Queen Street, the UPS people called to say they needed a copy of our visas. Well, we wouldn't have documentation even remotely resembling a visa until we'd crossed the border and gotten a stamp on our I-20 forms. So, this morning we had to send that, only the fax number we'd been given didn't work. Long story short, it was a bit of a saga, but now our helpful friend Larry at Mailboxes says that our papers have gotten through and our boxes should be on the way to Dallas. Hooray!

With that covered, we wandered around downtown and saw some of the sights. (No pictures yet, unfortunately, as my camera cable is in a box in Mississauga somewhere). We saw the Cloud Gate statue (known to Chicagoans as the bean), which true to its name is a giant reflective bean-shaped thing in the centre of Millennium Park. It's very cool to see how it bends the reflections, especially up inside the middle of the structure. I thought it was funny, though, that you could see kind of mop marks up near the top, where they hadn't cleaned it all the way up (blech). We also saw the gorgeous Jay Pritzker Pavilion, the bandstand designed by Frank Gehry.

After a bit more walking (including a stretch down along the river) David dropped me off at... wait for it... Macy's! I spent a couple of hours there and lucky me, they were having a big one-day sale. I got a grown up wallet. David met me afterwards and we crossed Wabash street to go to an office building that has a Cajun restaurant on the seventh floor called Heaven on Seven. Everybody's table had about fifteen different bottles of hot sauce on it, and the walls were covered with shelves of bottles boasting 1,320 varieties ("For display only – do not touch. May explode.") I recommend Tabasco's smoky chipotle sauce. It was a tasty lunch, but very rich and both of us had way more food on our plates than we could eat. After we left the restaurant we both realized we were unbelievably full! We're not sure how people do it here.

After lunch we went for a ride around the Loop – I know I looked like a total tourist taking in the view as we rode above the streets of the city, but it's very cool. David says the older architecture is mostly neo-Gothic, and it's amazing to see it up close and personal from the train. The presence of the El tracks really changes the look of the downtown city – it's almost like the whole town is under construction. Chicago feels like an older and wiser Toronto.

After that adventure, we were both completely wiped and pretty much crashed in our hotel room! I think we're pretty tired from the preparations that got us this far. We're recharging for what's to come!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

We're in Chicago!

We arrived the airport today with a lot of very heavy luggage and four parents. (The parents came in very handy with the luggage!) We scraped by the baggage weigh-in with four bags each juuuust under fifty pounds. Everything went very smoothly at the airport, thanks to a lot of pre-planning by David (I helped of course, but man... he's my hero).

After saying goodbye to our parents (don't cry, George...) we nervously headed for customs and filled out all the forms we could find because we still weren't sure which one applied to us. We were pointed towards a very serious and very muscle-related young border official. I kept quiet until he asked me what I was studying. When I answered that it was a Master of Sacred Music at Southern Methodist University, sir, he cracked a tiny smile, looked at me and said "that's different". He stamped our I-20 forms (YES!) told us to guard them with our lives, and we were through. Thanks for all the prayers, everybody!

Our flight to Chicago was very smooth and we had a French-speaking taxi driver who was on his phone to a friend talking about politics. Namely, the odds against John McCain winning the election. ("Mais enfin, il n'est pas le president élu!") We are staying at the Chinatown Hotel, and there is free wireless access! (That and the room rate are about the only things it has going for it).

We're on our way! :)

Monday, August 11, 2008

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in my heart)

All our bags (and boxes) are packed, or mostly! We have had to pare down our belongings and are leaving lots of our stuff behind (to be stored in the basement crawlspace of my very kind and helpful parents-in-law!). The process of packing has made me think about some of the special things that I am bringing with me, and the people in my life who care for me and will go with me through those special items. Here are a few that I thought of:

- Green wine glasses from Karin Schemeit (from my first university time at Concordia)
- Funky jewelry holder from Christine and Carolann Learmonth
- Enormous text "A Panorama of Christian Hymnody", which I need for a course and which my Dad had in his collection because one of his hymns is in it (lucky me)
- Trusty frying pan, given to me by my Aunt Ginny
- Chopsticks from Marie Campbell
- Tupperware from my Eberlin Aunts-in-law, from our wedding
- China angel figures, from my Grandma Wyatt

Not to mention all the wonderful things I've been taught by Eve Egoyan, Chris Peterson and Linda Beaupré – I know I'll be called on to use every scrap of that knowledge at SMU (let's hope not all in the first week).

And furthermore, I would like to report that during the first meeting of my first class at SMU (Church Music Colloquium I, Church Music for Advent, Christmas and Epiphany, if you were wondering) there will be a test on the course outline. (Muh?) If anyone has any tips on how to study a course outline, I'm listening.

We leave for Chicago in three days!