Most of you know Richard and I are both vets. Some of you know I live not that far from Fort Hood, where last week an Army psychiatrist went postal and killed 13 people, wounding many more. Yesterday was the memorial service at Fort Hood--we didn't attend but I watched on the Pentagon Channel (which is one of the channels of the PBS station at Killeen-Copperas Cove, run out of the Central Texas College campus.)
Yesterday was also the Marine Corps Birthday, which I normally celebrate with private prayers for all Marines, living and dead, here and abroad.
And today is Veteran's Day.
A lot of mixed feelings surging around, yesterday and today both. The war Richard and I were involved in, as military personnel during it, was an unpopular war, and one in which anti-war feelings were directed at military personnel very directly. Both of us took the brunt of some--others did too. Vietnam vets, in the immediate postwar period, were depicted as either fools (the route his brothers took) or villains. We got no respect, that is to say, particularly since we were not willing to leap over the line to become extreme right wingers (though even conservative vets had political problems if they weren't orthodox enough for the new Right leadership.)
Even though the murders at Fort Hood took place last week, and the memorial yesterday, my thoughts on that particular incident are still too inchoate to write out, tangled with the expressions others have had.
On our own time in the military...for me, in the long run, a life-changing experience. The military--its discipline, its missions, its ethos--forces those who enter it to confront themselves, to recognize where they aren't what they thought. People have asked repeatedly if my years in the military affect my writing...and the answer is both an easy "Well, yeah--how do you think I can write realistic military SF?" and the more difficult "More than you can know." It was in the military that I first began to see past my own background's limitations--my own point of view--into that of others. It's where I met and worked alongside people very unlike myself--where I had to learn to negotiate the great cultural divides of this country: city/country, north/south, cosmopolitan/parochial.
So one of my overriding feelings today is one of gratitude. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to serve, grateful for the men and women I served with, and grateful for those who served before and are serving now.
Today I had my second voice lesson with David. A lot of singing--my throat's a little sore because a few hours after the lesson was choir practice (another 2 hours of singing) and my throat isn't used to it. (More water is going to be necessary, clearly!)
BUT...we were doing exercises and then he said that the notes I had just sung so easily and confidently...included "that" F-sharp. The one that I found terrifying and nearly impossible in the Durufle Requiem when suddenly the altos were told to sing it with the sopranos and most of us couldn't. I had hit it twice in those weeks, but it was more like hitting than singing. (It's the F-sharp above C above middle C. ) Moreover, said he, I would find myself singing well above that as things progressed. The notes he mentioned sound to me like climbing Himalayan peaks, but having embarked on this adventure I'm willing to go as far as my Sherpa guide tells me to.
Then there was a lot of singing phrases and melodies, some freeform ("Just sing--in this range here") and some from music and it was such fun! And it didn't sound totally sucky, either.
Unfortunately, by the time we got to the last music we practiced in choir this evening, I was tired and my throat was scratchy, and I had trouble doing a decent D two whole tones below the F-sharp. Did in fact sound sucky off and on. Bleh.
But boy do I need to work on my vowels...I thought they were better than they are, alas for me and the habits of a lifetime.