Cloister Commentary, Day 346: The Conversations

Conversations. Had two excellent extended on-line chats with Hickman grads from different eras: Tyree Paladon Byndom (we discussed podcasts and destiny) and Donnie Harden Jr (we affirmed–as usual–the genius of Prince and pondered the possible pitfalls of the Jam-Lewis firing). Those two are unique humans. Also explored with other Kewpie vets Como Dave Sherman, Joseph Kenney, and Alex Fleming (the latter two survivors of my English class while I was still a mite green) was the fine line between ’90s hip-hop hollerers M. O. P. and Onyx. When Nicole got home, we went on a long walk through the neighborhood, got caught up on each other’s day, and applied salve to the “Living in Missouri Blues.”

Dinner: one of my cloister-era favorites! Raw veggies, toasted pita and Uprise Ancient Grain bread, and homemade hummus and pimiento cheese. Simple but delicious, and whatever’s left over we can snack on during the week.

Reading: I’ve long enjoyed Charles Blow’s writing, from his memoir Fire Shut Up in My Bones through his pieces in The New York Times, and his new book-length proposal for a reverse Great Migration, The Devil You Know, is fascinating and challenging. Among many arguments he makes (and supports meticulously) is that Black Americans are in more immediate danger from white violence (physically and institutionally) in the northern states than the southern ones.

Streaming for Strivers:

I’ve probably listened to this master’s music more than any woman’s during this pandemic. It’s helped. She’s inventive, sassier than Sassy (her take on “Send in the Clowns” is bold), witty, flexible, and…in control.

Cloister Commentary, Day 342: Erasures

The thing about those screaming for schools to reopen fully: how come they weren’t screaming to get teachers vaccinated early so they could, more safely? Because teachers do want to teach, in person–badly. Shows you where those screamers’ priorities are. There’s a damn lot of folks who aren’t too concerned with the health of anyone, as long as they’re ok, Jack.

I spent most of the morning reading military history and being introduced to writer Charles Blow’s proposal for a reverse Great Migration southward (check out his book The Devil You Know), most of the afternoon picking up, assembling, and testing my new-dangled CPAP machine and BiPap mask. The thought of wearing it every night for a long, long time makes me fret against the imperfection and deterioration of my body, but it is supposed to improve my energy and memory as well as my respiration.

For movie night, Nicole and I finally checked out Shaka King’s film about Fred Hampton’s assassination by the FBI, Judas and The Black Messiah (currently on HBO Max). We knew the history pretty well, and were impressed by the acting and filmmaking, but one had best be fortified when taking it in. Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, MLK, Hampton–all tragically erased from this plane within the space of six years of the 1960s, and at least one of them by government and law enforcement.

Streaming for Strivers:

Any time is the right time for Mr. Mayfield. This time in particular.

Cloister Commentary, Day 340: I Love Capri

Started a few new books by folks last name of Le Carré, Blow, and Smarsh. Bodes well.

Observed the first lesson of a teacher intern I’m supervising at Battle. She was relaxed yet organized, precise and enthusiastic; she was knowledgeable yet open to student ideas; she navigated a synchronous classroom (virtual AND in-seat) with ease. And her first lesson was the same as mine was back in January ’84: Chaucer’s “Wife of Bath” tale–she, too, took a vocabulary sidetrack for students on the word “maidenhead,” but she was more chill (as they say) than I was.

Nicole and I went for another walk–what a beauty of a day!–but were somewhat distracted by our still seeking a COVID shot: she’s in-person with students four days a week, I have a heart condition that’s going to require a procedure in May. My phone pinged the minute we stepped back in the house: the state invited me to the Isle of Capri, but for something better than gambling. This time I didn’t mess up the appointment. Now, for my loved one….

Streaming for Strivers:

Brief but durably soulful.

Cloister Commentary, Day 324: Books for Groceries

Yesterday was a long march to a disappointing Super Bowl. Mom is a big Patrick Mahomes fan but it was not a good evening to be that (though he did prove tough). In other sports news, I finally had a chance to watch Luka Garza play on the tube, and that, too, was underwhelming.

While visiting here, I bought groceries and dinner for us, and Mom was concerned about paying me back. I told her that wasn’t necessary, but we worked out a deal. She “bought” me some books for about the same amount, thus allowing me once again to get around violating my resolution (which I actually violated the day before–see Commentary 323). I know you’re on tenterhooks needing to know what tomes I chose: U. S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo’s new anthology of Native Nations poetry, Drs. Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha Blain’s “community history” of African America (titled 400 Souls), and New York Times columnist Charles Blow’s new book The Devil You Know: A Black Power Manifesto.

I also researched ways I can get Nicole and myself vaccinated against COVID-19 since, as Missouri teachers, and according to state leadership, we are not considered in urgent need. Governor Deputy Dawg: friend of public education.

Streaming for Strivers:

Bird lives. As does Black excellence.