Monday, September 28, 2009

We're Not in Kansas Anymore, Toto

My husband and I have been saying this to each other for days now.

We moved to the Washington DC area September 1 or 27 days ago. For the most part, it's been life as normal with the exception of unboxing, searching for lost stuff, and trying to find our way around. The early days of any move are rather like a camping trip gone wrong, aren't they?
NSO Opening Gala

But on Saturday, we went to the season opening gala of the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center. I won't bore you with all I did to get ready. Suffice it to say, I wanted to look my best. After all, I was there as both a newbie Washingtonian and the wife of the Steinway Piano dealer for the metropolitan DC area. I didn't want to feel self-conscious. I wanted to hold my head up and feel at my best, so I put extra effort in by getting the perfect long black dress, making a hair appointment, having my nails done, and all that girlie stuff.

We were invited by our friends Michael and Noemi Neidorff from Centene Corporation, and that was comforting because Michael and Noemi are lovely people. Very kind. Very much involved in the arts. Noemi is a fine pianist and studied at the Manhattan School of Music. And they are from St. Louis, our former home, so I felt comforted the moment I spotted Noemi in her lovely periwinkle blue gown that matched her eyes. Michael gave me a big hug, and introduced me to his sister, and other people in their party.
Kennedy Center

We stood in the Hall of States at the Kennedy Center. All I could think to myself was, "I've seen this on TV so many times!" In another area, we passed the enormous bust of John F. Kennedy and the stunning chandeliers, it's really sumptuous. Then up to our box in the Concert Hall Here's the link Along the way we passed Alan Greenspan, Andrea Mitchell, and Barbara Walters. (So we were box-neighbors.)
The Concert

Highlights of the music included Jozsef Lendvay, a gypsy violinist, who totally rocked the audience. Noemi explained to me that in her country (Hungary) fathers pass along the talent and the music to their sons. I'd believe it. The gay and playful tune came from deep inside this man.
At intermission, we drank prosecoo and ate M and Ms. (In fact, Michael spooned some into my purse for later!)

Next Kissin played Chopin. His mastery is truly astonishing. David think he might be one of our best living pianists. Of course, our Steinway sounded just fantastic.
Dinner with the Ambassador and His Wife
At dinner, I noticed I was seated next to the Ambassador of the Republic of Hungary, Bela Szombati.
Okay, that's when you say to yourself, "Am I up to this?"
I must have been. Bela and I had a great time, laughing and chatting. I asked him, "How do I address you? What's proper? Mr. Ambassador?" And he suggested, "Bela, just call me Bela." Which I did.
He and his wife ZsuZsa just moved here 10 days ago. (I teased him about how husbands leave us wives to unbox everything. I imagined he had such excuses as, "Sorry, darling, the prime minister of England wants a word with me!" Must have been close to the truth because Bela was laughing heartily at that!) Bela told me about the gypsy population of his country, about his schooling, and wished me bon appetite when dinner came. "What's the American equivalent?" he wondered. I thought about that. "How about 'Chow down, buddy?'" That sent both of us into gales of laughter. He wondered, "What socio-economic strata would say that?" Um? Dare I answer? NO.
Emil de Cou
I also chatted with the totally charming, Emil de Cou, the assistant conductor of the NSO. We hatched some interesting plans for a special night of piano music at Wolf Trap where he is festival director. Stay tuned--who knows what will develop!
After the dinner, David and I danced for a bit. We spotted Zsuzsa standing alone for a second, and she and I twirled around a little (we both love dancing) until a breathless Bela joined us. Seems a woman had taken him for James Bond! That sent us all into giggles. They offered us a ride in their car--but ours was in the garage. Phooey!
Another Day, Another Ambassador
Yesterday evening, we were invited to dinner at new friends' house in Georgetown. Then we went to Yom Kippur services at Adas Israel Congregation. The security there was very tight, with good reasons. Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren sat four rows away from us, and later got up and spoke. I kept an eye on his security guards. Mossad, I would guess. I know they sure looked dangerous. I kept wanting to phone Barry Eisler and report in. Barry would know the security strategy. I think I'll drop him an email later today. Inquiring minds want to know...
This Week...
So that was my weekend. This Wednesday I'm flying to New York City to visit Steinway and to celebrate Mary Pillsbury's birthday. (Mary is a riot. This will be so much fun.) On Saturday, I'm attending "In the Streets" in Frederick MD, their city festival. Queenie D of Queenie D's Book Club is my hostess with the mostess. Should be fun!
I keep pinching myself. Could this really be my life?
Yup. The bruise is forming. It sure is.
Bela wondered if an ambassador would show up dead in one of my mysteries. Hmmmm. I think I know just how I plan to do that! Again...stay tuned!


Terri Thayer said...

Sounds like this was a marvelous move for you. Enjoy it to the hilt!

Betty Hechtman said...

I know what you mean about pinching yourself. I've been doing that for years, only instead of ambassadors it's been show biz folks like when I was at a party and Madonna and I both reached for the coffee pot at the same time.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Thanks, Sisters.

I am enjoying it, Terri.

Betty, good for you. Now, who won the coffee pot contest?

Camille Minichino said...

I recognize your husband in the photo, Joanna, but where are you??
Surely that's not your hair -- all in place and formal??

I think I miss the curls!

It sounds like a wonderful life -- and well deserved after a very rough patch this year.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

They're there! They're just in the back!