The mass choir sounded wonderful. There were too many singers to fit in the choir loft, so the choir sat in the middle of the sanctuary, facing the chancel. The band remained seated on the chancel through the entire service, so when the choir was singing, we had the best seat in the house. The band was a big hit. There were even people dancing in the aisles at times. Do you know how hard it is to get Unitarian Universalists to clap, let alone dance in the aisles?
I compared notes with Susanne, our bass player. We were both grateful for our experience in sitting in front of congregations for extended periods, pretending to be attentive. I like to call it "fake awake." Although the services were nice, we were exhausted. We managed to stay upright during the services, but we were tired, and the sanctuary was warm. Susanne snuck into the choir loft and took a nap between services.
Following the second service was the closing circle. I'm not a touchy feely kind of guy, but even so, I found myself wandering around the circle, hugging people goodbye, and looking forward to seeing them in Boston, where next year's conference will be held.
Some random thoughts and memories from the week:
- Sitting in a bathroom stall in the Atlanta airport, I was startled by a voice announcement that sounded like it was right outside my stall. "Hello! This is Mayor Kasim Reed. I'd like to welcome you to Atlanta."
- I was grateful for the chance to play guitar often. I'm uncomfortable socializing, but the opportunity to play with others helped me make connections.
- The Traveler guitar was my conference buddy. I'm glad I bought that little guitar. It doesn't even compare to a full sized guitar. I was happy to be reunited with my Taylor when I returned, but it sure was convenient to have a travel sized guitar that fit in an overhead compartment and was easy to tote.
- Two years in a row I have been fortunate to have good roommates. And by that, I mean roommates who are pleasant, interesting…and who go to bed early!
- My favorite session was the workshop on children's songs, musical games, and dances. I can't wait to spring those on the children at NWUUC.
- It was nice to see some colleagues who work near me, in particular Don Milton from UUCA in Atlanta and Amber Fetner who is music director in Athens, GA. As always, it was great to see Sarah Dan Jones again.
- I had booked a red eye flight back to Atlanta, so I figured I had seen the last of the conference goers by the time I got to the San Diego airport. No! I was walking through the food court, looking for an overpriced meal, when I heard "Tom!" There was Amber Fetner. And then there was somebody else, and somebody else. And somebody else.
- I had a LOT of downtime at the airport. I took a nap and woke up with a workshop idea for next year. I had enough time that I was able to outline the entire workshop. Soon I should see a submission form for workshops at the 2015 conference. If my idea is accepted, I'll write more about it.
Overall, this year's conference was a tremendous experience for me. On the one hand, I had the opportunity to play often and contribute in ways that I am strong. On the other hand, I attended workshops that challenged me, offered fresh ideas, and helped bring up my weak areas. It was a perfect balance. I'm looking forward to being in Boston next year!