Cloister Commentary, Day 232: Piss and Rain

I’ll be honest with you: I despise louts. I’ve never liked them, period, and I’m suspicious of those who do. Also, I don’t take direction well, especially from loutish “authorities”: my negative model for that was Mr. Harrison, my high school biology teacher–arrogant, smirking, strutting, possessed of no empathy but ironically instantly aggrieved. He helped turned me into an anti-authoritarian, though when I met adepts like Howard South or Kay Lederer, I was all ears. As a professional, most of my “bosses” have been women, none of whom were loutish and all of whom were interested in honest feedback on their performance (props to Mike Jeffers, the one male boss I’ve had who didn’t have a fragile ego). All of this is to say that yesterday I was thrilled that (apparently) I no longer have to be embarrassed to live in country that has been “led” by a lout. Say what you will in contradiction, but, to do so, you will have to do excruciating mental gymnastics to deny it, and even that effort will fail to convince me. I know the difference between piss and rain.

We cranked music, quaffed alcoholic libations, embraced, danced, cranked the music up more, and felt our eyes water, whether from the lifting of strain, the acknowledgement of dissipated despair, or, hey, maybe simple happiness. I was reluctant to think it was the latter, because, again, this is a snatch-away regime, and I didn’t fall off the peach truck yesterday. But, by damn, we deserved some joyous release, and we indulged it.

Shireen, I hope in the future you will remember you spent the night of November 7, 2020 huddled with Nicole and me around our fire pit hashing out the meaning of the day.

Streaming for Survivors:

For joyous indulgence one cannot beat disco.

Cloister Commentary, Day 231: New Shit

New show: Ratched, on Netflix. A very wicked and wickedly funny prequel to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

New record: The Sun Ra Arkestra’s well-titled Swirling.

New book: Mary Roach’s informative and frequently hilarious Stiff, about what happens to our bodies after they’re done living.

New med: Beta blockers (like father, like son).

New curbside favorite: Main Squeeze’s Vegan Krunchrap (what do they make their chorizo out of?).

New news:

Streaming for Strivers:

Isn’t it?

Cloister Commentary, Day 229: Holding Steady

I did not read a page or listen to a note of non-soundtrack music, yet yesterday was a success. I track three minimum daily goals every day: five minutes of exercise or meditation (73% all-time rate), 50 pages read (94% all-time rate), one recording listened to actively (97% all-time rate). Nicole and I went on a nice park walk on a glorious morning in nature and meditated by a duck pond, so one out of three was just fine.

Later in the morning, I helped Mom with some technology issues and located a missing key, we avoided a tension convention by mostly keeping the news turned off, then we enjoyed a movie marathon: the 2020 adaptation of Emma (our second time–holds up nicely), Brittany Runs a Marathon (just what we needed), and two episodes of The Queen’s Gambit (Nicole and I have already seen it–in fact, I’m reading the book from which it was adapted–but Mom is loving it, and we’re all amazed by Anya Taylor-Joy’s performances).

We are just trying to hold steady; we live under a snatch-away regime, at least for the time being.

Streaming for Strivers:

What you’ve been waiting for.

Cloister Commentary, Day 228: Countdown to Ecstasy

We deliberately chose to indulge in activities to distract us from election coverage. I can’t speak perfectly for Nicole, but I think she agrees: we both had enough tension, dread, and other varieties of stress crackling down to our nerve endings without channeling in more noise and numbers.

The most effective of those activities was listening to a chunk of the audiobook of Octavia Butler’s Bloodchild and Other Stories. We’d started it on a recent road trip, then I loved it so much I secretly finished it on my Kindle. Nicole forgave me that, and we were quite literally transfixed (a major improvement on mere distraction) by “Speech Sounds,” “Crossover,” and the dazzling, haunting, dryly (and wickedly) humorous “Amnesty.” As soon as we finished the latter of those–they were all three even better the second time ’round–Nicole turned to me, shaking her head in amazement, and said, “That was incredible.” I proferred (I hadn’t previously realized it), “She’s one of the very best writers of the last 50 years, easily.” Funny: I learn about great writers by reading great writers and reading about great writing, and I obsessively seek them out after I get a clue–but it’s only been in the last 7-8 years that I’ve seen Butler’s name come over my transom. I have a few of my Stephens colleagues and students to thank for that. I encourage you to get familiar with her yourself.

We made it until 10 before we felt obliged to check the election’s progress. I saw no surprises other than in a few local races, which I considered with very, very measured hope. That was smart, because their directions completely changed. Fortunately, when I woke up in the middle of the night, I didn’t reach for my phone.

Streaming for Strivers:

I am less disciplined, at present, in containing my sarcasm.