Cloister Commentary, Day 310: Dumbfounded but Standing

I catch myself looking at that number of days and what’s happened in their passing, and I’m dumbfounded we haven’t spent any of them (quite) on our knees. Not through them yet. And we’re not interested in the old normal anyhow. The thoughts you think, I tell ya.

Sunday’s bounty? Columbians, Goldie’s Bagels is the bomb. It’s in the Pizza Tree spot Tue-Sun 7-11 am, and you best bring an appetite: normal human couples could split one; we were excited about trying something new and ordered three. After finishing them and watching CBS Sunday Morning, we felt like hibernating. Nicole and I recommend their Everything Bagel with either scallion or “dilly lox” spread–we venture to say they’re the best bagels in town!

I did a Herculean amount of reading and watching football. I got all of what I needed from the former and half of what I wanted from the latter. We went on a long walk, finished those dangerous oatmeal ‘n’ cherry cookies, Zoomed with our “Flying Saucer” friendship support group–ohhhh…that’s why we stayed off our knees!–and dug John Waters learning about his dark and disturbing roots from Henry Louis Gates.

Streaming for Strivers:

Remain in light this week, ok?

Cloister Commentary, Day 309: Jazzy Indoctrination

What was occurrin’? Not much–but that’s ok.

We awakened early to hit the grocery ahead of the crowd (6ish). Indeed, it was a graveyard, though Nicole witnessed a customer haranguing a poor shelf stocker because he didn’t know where the new city trash bags. If I’d been there, I’d-a harangued her because she didn’t know where the new city trash bag contactless pick-up was. Undoubtedly, that would have inconvenienced the harridan.

One of the first student teachers I hosted was Tasha Terrell. Besides being smart and professional, she had a dry, quiet sense of humor (I was dealing with a case of labyrinthitis at the time, which she dubbed “David Bowie’s disease”–I still laugh every time I think about it). Tasha and her husband Ryan have two crumbsnatchers that they desire to be acculturated, and to that end she asked me to send her a list of jazz songs with which she could start their indoctrination. I heard/read that as “construct a streaming playlist,” so I put together a “Tiny Terrell” Jazz to 1960 compilation for them. I hadn’t been commissioned in awhile so I was like a pig in slop. Sample it for yourself; you may consider Louis Jordan a ringer, but “Beans and Cornbread” is a must for wee ones. Ornette Coleman? Really? Hey, I like to embed a few challenges–though “Lonely Woman” is sheerly beautiful.

For dinner, Nicole continued to perfectly perfect her chana masala recipe. We’re trying to cut down on the salt, but the other spices she blended in made that seem easy. After, we had tea, homemade oatmeal cherry cookies, and Cobra Kai Season 3 (again). I have to support the work of my other brother William Zabka!

Streaming for Strivers:

Gabriel go home.

Cloister Commentary, Day 308: Slow News Day–And Why NOT?

You know it was a slow news day when my highlight was driving to Cosmo Park (maybe three miles round-trip) and picking up my 2021 official city trash and recycling bags via drive-through contactless pickup. Hey–it was stimulating to actually see an incredibly efficient delivery system! I also dropped by the mulch site with some dead (tree) limbs and cranked up MF DOOM-alias Viktor Vaughn’s Vaudeville Villain 2 in the truck. Beats and rhymes: very phat.

My afternoon could be summed up as enjoying feeling no side effects of my procedure from the day before (don’t worry: I’m not going to describe it all) and just reading and listening to music with no immediate goals.

It was nice to see Nicole get home in one piece from a nerve-wracking first week of in-person teaching. We have been holding our connubial breath (not quite literally). The day was completed by a Cobra Kai mini-binge.

Streaming for Strivers:

My second-favorite Hank next to the senior Williams.

Cloister Commentary, Day 307: Mengele Clippers

I have been preoccupied over the last few days with the prostate biopsy I underwent yesterday. I’d had a cardiology appointment the day before that the biopsy actually overshadowed. I have some advice for those of you who may have one in the future:

1) Don’t read up on the possible after-effects. I realize this may be difficult if you’re trying to decide to assent to one–I was pretty much ordered–but they mess with one’s imagination, wake you up in the middle of the night, and make you paranoid. Besides, after the procedure they will tell you about these effects in detail anyway. They are rare, you take meds before during, and after to prevent them, and the ones I experienced were dwarfed by my imaginings.

2) You will be told about a device that is used to collect a sample of your prostate. What you will not be told is that this device, when in use, sounds like something invented by Josef Mengele (I am not kidding). As it is used on you, you may be skeptical that you will emerge with a prostate at all. Its snap is worse than its bite, however. It smarts, but doesn’t last that long.

3) I didn’t read the instructions on the required Fleets Enema until it was time to use it. Absence of specific pronouns in the directions plus concerns about my flexibility caused me to consider, with great trepidation, whether I would need to employ Nicole. I am happy to say that, though I am only slightly less stiff than Mike Pence, I managed. And if I could, you can. If I couldn’t have? I am fortunate enough to be loved enough.

4) One of my biggest concerns was having my agéd butt stared at, not just by a doctor but also the inevitable nurse. Don’t ask me why I was worried the urologist’s assistant would be a woman (I do not assume one would be)! However, I should have been more worried about a different part of my anatomy. She indeed was a woman, and, to my instant horror, she first asked me to take off my shoes and socks. I had not treated myself to my annual toenail clip, and when she saw my naked feet, I swear I saw her freeze. Nicole had reassured me prior to the procedure when I told her I was worried about farting, “Phil, they’ve seen everything, believe me!” Maybe not quite everything.

5) You will be numbed up, but “just to take the edge off,” the assistant corrected me; I was hoping to go under, but no dice. It is not like getting a crown or a filling; you are much less numb. Still, you are asked to have a ride to and from the procedure. In spite of my being completely unaltered as I walked out of the clinic, the echo of the Mengele Clippers was ringing so loudly in my ears that, when I walked out to Nicole’s car and tried to open the door, I heard the locks click. “This isn’t your car,” the horrified woman’s bulging eyes yelled to me. Oops. Nicole had not yet arrived. I awkwardly waved, bowed in apology, and crawfished hurriedly back to the clinic doors. Words of wisdom: stay focused when you’re in the parking lot!

The events of the day, even William Zabka‘s brilliance in Cobra Kai (Nicole calls him “The Lost Overeem Brother), paled in comparison to my trip to the urologist. But as I told my friend Rex, I basically Samantha-blinked and it was over–it hurts more than a colonoscopy (which does not hurt at all), but lasts a fifth the duration. Bottoms up!

Streaming for Strivers:

Message from the cosmos: “Send more Gil Scott Heron!”

Cloister Commentary, Day 306: Inauguration 2021

The previous president was someone I detested long before he ran. I’ve not ever been a fan of bullies, narcissists, racists, con men, boors, liars, cheats, and infantile adults, and he was all of that and more sadness in one package. In short, he was the opposite of everything I’ve striven (and am still striving) to be. Figuratively, I’ve been holding my nose for four years, but also trying to figure out his appeal without thinking ill of my fellow Americans–and, yes, at times, trying to understand the immense personal unhappiness that’s led to the man’s present state. He is human; as I told my students the day after the 2016 election, he’s someone’s son, father, husband. But I was forced to reevaluate my perception of others, including family, and I failed to reach that understanding. I am very glad he is gone from my daily sight and earshot, and I’m ready to fight myself back to a less cynical position.

I was at work editing student papers and at the doctor’s during the inauguration ceremony; I wanted to watch it in real time with Nicole and everyone else–I think I would have felt it more. I also was very distracted. Catching up via video later, I was deeply moved by Amanda Gorman’s poem and Kamala Harris’ swearing-in. Today, I’ll check out Biden’s address and the musical performances. Still, a lingering uneasiness about January 6 and the Herculean tasks ahead of us–several of which preceded the previous president (though he made them much more difficult)–has me in an anhedoniacal state. Look it up. I think it’s a word.

Streaming for Survivors:

But for now…once again (or was it ever?)…

Cloister Commentary, Day 305: Doorknobs and Derrières

It’s a busy morning now, so I will make this brief.

I spent much of my day intending to sample Euphoria to see if it would be a good series for Nicole and I to adopt in the future–and ended up bingeing. Then because I was caught up in how her day went (first day back with in-seat education) and getting dinner prepared (a Pasta La Fata kit of ravioli and arancini), I forgot to tell her. That show is…an adult dose, which is an ironic phrase, but its compassion far exceeds its extreme vision. I think she will like it–plus she once sampled a show for us that she and my mom called “historical porn,” the name of which I can’t remember, but I haven’t seen it yet.

I should have much more to say tomorrow. I recall what my dad said when we got married: “Don’t let the doorknob hit you in the ass.”

Streaming for Survivors:

Needed something for just the right energy this morning. Found it.

Cloister Commentary, Day 304: Good Morning, America?

One ritual my mom and I observe when I’m visiting is watching Good Morning America together. The show’s hosts are relatively down to earth, seldom seem to be forcing bonhomie, and exhibit actual personality. Also, I’ve observed that people with diastemas have special qualities, and Michael Strahan seems to support that observation. Still, they have great difficulty maintaining the tone suggested by the show’s title when video, audio, and stills from the Capitol Insurrection are laced through it like concertina wire. I give them credit for trying.

I traveled the road back home to Columbia, where Nicole met me with a kiss, a hug, and spaghetti. She was tensely preparing to return to in-seat teaching in the midst of what every credible source is calling a pandemic out of control, but she had time for warmth and humor in welcoming me back. I’m nervous, too. As per usual lately, I resorted to sports as an escape; I’m disgusted with the Harden trade, but somehow I’m still drawn to watch the Nets. I’m that much of a Durantula fan, I guess.

We learned mid-evening that Nicole’s mom’s devoted and spirited rat terrier Jack passed away. When Lynda died in 2013, our friends George and Susie Frissell agreed to adopt him and were great parents for his remaining seven years. George regularly took him on walks, encouraged him to chase squirrels, and sent us “fireside fotos” (Jack loved that spot). The last time we saw him was in early 2020, when we took him and our recently departed hound Louis for a walk around Stephens Lake Park. Tell me, is it still 2020?

Streaming for Strivers:

Suffering and smiling–that seems to be the ticket.

Cloister Commentary, Day 303: Family Football Escape

I spent a nice afternoon with my mom and her friends the Garretts. We were well-spaced and masked, with the spacing retained when we dined on roux-enhanced stew dropped off by Hiedi Carlin. Together, we are getting Mom over a rough spot.

The Garretts are not fond of football or sitting still, but they compassionately sacrificed for the cause, and we discussed many non-football topics. My hopes for a Kansas City – New Orleans Super Bowl were again dashed, and Kansas City’s chances are more perilous than they had been due to Magic Mahomes’ concussion. I’m not keen on planting in front of the tube for football myself, but these days I’ll take it as an effective distraction.

I was pooped by the time 10 pm hit, but I once again tossed and turned after Nicole and I FaceTimed–the coming week will be fraught with anxiety for us. Since it’s hard for me to squeeze music in when I’m home visiting, I put on the headphones, and some spirit-soothing music from the International Anthem album settled me down enough to sleep.

Ummm…

Streaming for Strivers:

Twice-annual fixation acting up early.

Cloister Commentary, Day 303: Family Football Escape

I spent a nice afternoon with my mom and her friends the Garretts. We were well-spaced and masked, with the spacing retained when we dined on roux-enhanced stew dropped off by Hiedi Carlin. Together, we are getting Mom over a rough spot.

The Garretts are not fond of football or sitting still, but they compassionately sacrificed for the cause, and we discussed many non-football topics. My hopes for a Kansas City – New Orleans Super Bowl were again dashed, and Kansas City’s chances are more perilous than they had been due to Magic Mahomes’ concussion. I’m not keen on planting in front of the tube for football myself, but these days I’ll take it as an effective distraction.

I was pooped by the time 10 pm hit, but I once again tossed and turned after Nicole and I FaceTimed–the coming week will be fraught with anxiety for us. Since it’s hard for me to squeeze music in when I’m home visiting, I put on the headphones, and some spirit-soothing music from the International Anthem album settled me down enough to sleep.

Streaming for Strivers:

Twice-annual fixation acting up early.

Cloister Commentary, Day 303: Family Football Escape

I spent a nice afternoon with my mom and her friends the Garretts. We were well-spaced and masked, with the spacing retained when we dined on roux-enhanced stew dropped off by Hiedi Carlin. Together, we are getting Mom over a rough spot.

The Garretts are not fond of football or sitting still, but they compassionately sacrificed for the cause, and we discussed many non-football topics. My hopes for a Kansas City – New Orleans Super Bowl were again dashed, and Kansas City’s chances are more perilous than they had been due to Magic Mahomes’ concussion. I’m not keen on planting in front of the tube for football myself, but these days I’ll take it as an effective distraction.

I was pooped by the time 10 pm hit, but I once again tossed and turned after Nicole and I FaceTimed–the coming week will be fraught with anxiety for us. Since it’s hard for me to squeeze music in when I’m home visiting, I put on the headphones, and some spirit-soothing music from the International Anthem album settled me down enough to sleep.

Streaming for Strivers:

Twice-annual fixation acting up early.