The colleges we visited were SMU (Southern Methodist University) and USC (University of Southern California). The folks at SMU were incredibly welcoming. The admissions director had read through Michael’s application and told him he was a “great candidate.” (Isn't that nice?) At USC, Michael was able to interview with an admissions director. Our goal was to get him “on their radar.” Frankly, I was overwhelmed by USC’s size. But I’m keeping my mouth shut. This is such an important decision, and I want Michael to make it without hearing my concerns. What may seem overwhelming to me might be perfectly comfortable for him.
Michael wants to be a civil engineer, and he wants to attend college in a warm climate. I don’t blame him. The cold is hard for me in every way. In fact, I always feel poor when I’m cold, perhaps because when I grew up we had a coal furnace. That gaping maw in the basement had to be fed, and coal was a precious resource. We woke up each morning cold, and I’ll never, ever forget that. No matter how much my life has changed, cold still strikes a chord with me at a deep, emotional level.
After our college visits, we went to the Balboa Bay Club for the annual Steinway Piano Dealers meeting. It’s always wonderful to connect with old friends—dealers, representatives, and artists. Steinway does it right. Everything is always first-class. We’ve known the new President of Steinway Americas Ron Losby for literally decades now—and Steinway couldn’t have chosen a finer man as a leader. It was also fun to see the Steinway owners Kyle Kirkland and Dana Messina. Dana’s wife gave birth to their second child, a daughter, this week and Dana was obviously a thrilled parent.
At the annual dinner, Steinway always has a guest Steinway artist as entertainment. One year it was Roger Williams, the greatest selling pianist of all time, another it was Randy Newman. This year we sat at a table with legendary artist Leonard Pennario, and Roger Williams dropped by to say that Leonard was the reason he’d become a pianist. How cool is that? By the way, Roger Williams is a real charmer.
This year, Steinway introduced us to Joja Wendt. He was extraordinary—young, amazing and personable. He reminded us all of Victor Borge. I was especially taken by his piece Asterius feat Dieter Falk. In fact, I loved it so much, I’ve downloaded it on my IPod. You have to imagine how fast his fingers moved as he played. You can hear it for yourself at:
So…while my trip was hectic, it proved delightful. I hope you’ll check out Joja and Martha’s Bookstore. They’re a couple of real gems I uncovered on my travels.