Cloister Commentary, Day 329: The Drive

Nicole and I were on a drive last night, and started to reflect on this trying journey. In 36 days, this commentary will have stretched to a full year. We speculated on how difficult it is to tell how permanently the isolation will affect us, and just how those effects will manifest after we reach a clearing. The only relatively large gathering of people in which we’ve been in the midst since March 13 was my dad’s funeral service in June; that was ill-advised, but his passing was so sudden and unexpected I felt I was in some other existence (at least everyone was masked, and no one seemed to have gotten sick as a result). I haven’t spoken to a student in person since February, or even held a class since July. Nicole spoke of the relaxing experience of just gliding into a restaurant, ordering some good food, and taking our time, and of the fun of planning a trip in excited detail, then living it out, with old friends along for the ride or at the end of the road. And just being able to celebrate occasions, life, relationships. We miss that stuff in our bones.

We fell silent, and punched up “Night in Tunisia,” “Queer Notions,” that double-standard-hit-double-whammy “Runaround Sue” / “The Wanderer,” the Stones’ “Happy,” “Looking for a Kiss,” a Patti Smith “block party,” then closed the drive down with one of our all-time favorite albums (Nicole kept turning it up, and up), Dramarama’s Hi-Fi Sci-Fi. I believe we’re gonna make it (with a little luck, Joe Tex, you may be right).

Additional pulses of joy: my mom’s feeling much better after a severe UTI (her chosen family tended to her in our absence, thank the stars), and the other student teacher I’m supervising (I reported on the first in yesterday’s commentary) was hired to teach English at my old place of business, David H. Hickman High School, the Home of the Kewpies!

Accompanying foreboding: more extremely frigid temps–and possible snowfall. Our outdoor cats are now housed in the garage.

Streaming for Strivers:

A great drummer has passed. He left the world more interesting than he found it.

Cloister Commentary, Day 172: Maybe Remote On-Line Notarizing Will Help

I know that, in some marriages, spouses actively seek out ways to be apart (aside from a job), at least on occasion. I don’t intend that as a critique, necessarily; the practice is probably essential for some of those marriages to not just survive, but prosper. However, I admit that I’ve seldom (if ever) screamed to myself, “I have got to get away from this woman Nicole for at least a half-hour!” Much more frequently, I mutter to myself, “When’s she gonna get home?” I can only read and crank up horrible, beautiful noise for so long before I miss my podnah.

Yesterday, she went out to her building (though she could have worked from home), and I had virtually the whole day to myself. The morning and early afternoon were fine, but after that, it was either take a nap or climb the walls–that’s a strange either-or, right there! I could have thrown “Play with the cats” in there, but I’m 58 years old. Maybe if I extend my notary qualifications to RON (that’s “remote on-line notary”), I can deal with this twice-a-week workweek.


That’s all I got, except for the fact that, just as we were slippin’ into sleep, a pretty major lightning party kicked in, and Louis doesn’t like those. They don’t scare him; in fact, he wants to attack them, to break up the party, and he barks to that effect. I had to move out to the TV room couch to “comfort” him. Simply by lying on the couch a few feet away from him, I calmed him down, but I also cranked the fan he likes blowing on him at night up to “High” to drown out some of the noise.


I didn’t even get to spend time with her last night. Boo!


Streaming for Survivors:


John Easedale was the first rock and roll star I ever interviewed. Thankfully, that interview is buried in the fanzine dustbin, but this album is one reason I was so nervous on the phone.

Cloister Commentary, Day 7: The Old Normal

A mere week has passed–actually we’d been cloistered for maybe three days when I started writing–yet, though I’m not a meme dude, I must steal this from one Nicole found (I’m paraphrasing):

“In the rush to return to normal, take the time to consider what aspects of the old normal are worth rushing back to.”

That’s a motto I can live with. Before I even saw the meme, I’d found myself taking inventory: I need to write more, we need to eat out less, we need to be more engaged with both our immediate and more broadly local communities, I need to not just shove things in drawers and forget them for 15 years, we need to rattle the damn cage for a better disaster safety net, we need to fight to ensure the most vulnerable among us are accepted into our arms and protected–wait, this is getting dangerous…

We struck out for the grocery store, though I just rode shotgun and read in the car. When we got home, we put some time into making sure everything was clean, and the whole ordeal was so stressful drinks were in order. If you must know, we had a “Tequila” Sunrise made with Maker’s White (a bottle of which was another of our cleaning discoveries earlier in the week). Pretty effective.

I can’t urge you enough, if you’re a music fan, to support “virtual” live concerts. Unsurprisingly, they are growing in number, and, thanks to programs like Facebook Live, you can “attend” them with friends. Speaking of safety nets, the average musician does not have much of one in the best of times, so do your part to support them in these critical ones (most have a PayPal link through which you can pay for the privilege)–and pledge to do a better job when we get out of them. I am going to do my level best.

We checked out TIGER KING on Netflix, at a couple friends’ urgings. Neither Nicole nor I are sure we need to spend our finite seconds of life staring at that. That is all. We had wanted to watch the Folger Theater production of MACBETH currently offered free on YouTube, but the resolution seemed foggy. In the end, we settled for “Key & Peele” re-runs and glimpsing our filth uncle John Waters on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.”

Streaming for Shut-Ins: the terrific debut album of one of the greatest ’80s-’90s bands you may have never heard, or heard of.

Cloister Commentary, Day 8: In Vanessa Shanessa Style

As Vanessa Shanessa Jenkins would say, what was occurrin’?

An early morning nap.

Phone calls to cancel things.

A grilled cheese sandwich made with Blue Plate Mayo instead of butter.

Dead Moon, the Minutemen, Dramarama, and original garage rock blasting from the speakers.

Cats boxing 19th century style.

60% approval?

A board game.

More rain.

Mr. Show re-runs (oh, Senator Tankerbell…)

Thunder and lightning.

A late night power outage…

Power outages aren’t just power outages anymore.

Streaming for Shut-Ins: In their prime –>