Cloister Commentary, Day 178: Grogginess Redeemed

I awakened at 3:45 a.m. from dreaming about my dear friends Janet and David and couldn’t get back to sleep. Nicole was already awake (Sunday Night / Monday Morning Educator Syndrome), so we caught up on reading, meditated and went on a long neighborhood walk–we’d alllllllmost gone back to sleep at 5.

Going into work, I was groggier than if I’d just had a colonoscopy (sorry–hey, I’m due…grrrrreart!), but after having my temperature taken by the executive assistant to the school president, who is very kind, and working my way Get Smart-style into my office, I settled in for work. And I had some: a paper challenging left brain -right brain theory to proofread and comment on, a Zoom conference with one of my outstanding summer school students and her academic advisor, then a Success Center staff check-in (also on Zoom). I also went for 15-minute campus walk during my lunch break–it was a gorgeous day. As I left, I stopped at the library counter to talk NBA and politics with my colleague Dan Kammer, a conversation I was grateful was not on Zoom.

Culture Report:

Books: We always try to read Columbia’s annual One Read. I was skeptical when I perused a few descriptions of this year’s choice, A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. Books about aristocrats are not normally my cuppa. However, Towles’ wit and style immediately won me over, and it’s more relevant to this project than I could ever have imagined.

Music: The new EP by the band The Human Hearts, Day of the Tiles, really hits me where I currently live (in a world on fire). It’s really smart and passionate; in fact, it’s veins are open. It apparently has a connection to Mountain Goats, a band I admire without quickened pulse but about which I am not a adept.

Shows: Unlike seemingly the series’ entire audience, we are not won over by the HBO adaptation of Matt Ruff’s terrific tome Lovecraft Country. We have not given up on it–we are big fans of the source–but continue to feel it’s a little dumbed down, suffers from kitchen sink disease, and lacks even a modicum of subtlety. Last night’s episode had its moments, as they all have, but was more jarring against the tone of the original narrative. And, believe me: I was down for this series. Seriously down.

Food: I can eat 50 stuffed poblano peppers.

Streaming for Strivers:

Currently residing (unfairly) in the where-are-they-now file.

Cloister Commentary, Day 13: Shut Down

The world of Columbia Public Schools’ faculty, staff, and students was shook yesterday when a three-day pause was announced in proceedings, for the purpose of re-evaluating and re-thinking the system’s response to COVID-19. While that pause is likely a good thing–this is unprecedented, and our state government is still dragging its heels in its response–it might have been, for many, the first serious reverberation of the crisis’ impact. Nicole, who has been working very hard from home and keeping in close contact with her students and comrades, definitely is feeling it, I know all parents and kids are, and though I only interact with CPS as a mentor and student teacher supervisor, it shook me, too.

Thanks to a break in the weather, we’ve walked to Parkade Park and back three consecutive days, and every day we’ve at least said hi to a different neighbor. The year’s first “yardening” has begun! The unspoken mantra on our block: “Don’t be the last to mow your lawn!” We’re lucky: Deven and LaVere Lawn and Landscaping have had our backs since they went into business.

Some local happenings worth supporting: our excellent ward councilman Mike Trapp and his brother have created a shelter project for folks who are outside, and Broadway Diner is STILL feeding any hungry kid on a daily basis. We are donating, and if you can, you might think about it. See links in my comments below.

Anyone else having trouble sleeping a decent number of hours? We normally get up early, but either our dog or the buzzing of our inner wiring has been limiting us to less than six hours a night.

I generally dislike fruit, but I need a banana a day. Oddly, that little quirk is really my only obstacle to staying away from the grocery for a couple weeks at a time. I’m learning to live without.

Streaming for Shut-Ins: