Cloister Commentary, Day 298: New Rules, Mob Rules

I apologize for losing it a bit yesterday. I get a little angsty when angry mobs threaten violence and/or lawsuits if they don’t get what they want, and it was twice in two weeks. I know I just need to get over it.

We opened the day by meditating, taking a walk (we got another in in the afternoon), and discussing the immediate future. So many things are imperative to be dealt with intelligently it makes one’s head spin. Nicole of course taught all day; I battled what felt like was an allergy attack but deepened my knowledge of the history of abstract expressionism, got prepped to supervise student teachers, and finally gave my undivided attention to Chloe X Halle’s sophomore album (pretty damn strong–those kids are serious).

I talked to my mom and she’s finally got an appointment with an orthopedic specialist to address the tear in her left shoulder. I’d hoped to travel down and at least be with her, but that would be too risky under our new circumstances.

After dinner, I kept one eye on the Brooklyn – Denver NBA game and read Robert Hughes essays on Pollock, Rothko, Warhol, and Schnabel (strong stuff!). Nicole kept working on school. Did you know teachers still routinely put 10-12 hours a day teaching virtually? You didn’t? Well, now you do.

Streaming for Strivers:

Your flag decal really won’t get you into any kind of heaven anymore.

Cloister Commentary, Day 19: “Please Don’t Bury Me” (April 7, 2020)

This stuff can kill us, is killing us at a very rapid rate. If it doesn’t, something else will, we are assured. It’s just that we’re getting reminders at a rapid rate, too, from thousands we do not know to the few who we imagined could live forever (they may, through their work) but understood could not, like that old crust John Prine. I’d like to recommend his work to those unfamiliar with it, because it has the soul nutrition we need to put these days in perspective. Take, for example, the mortality song I have shared below, which he wrote before he turned 30. A grinning, shrugging, generous acceptance–and an invitation to kiss his ass goodbye.

In other news, Nicole and I moved the lawn furniture out into the backyard and onto the deck. That was a simple action that made us both feel good, and gave our external felines Goldpaw and BB hope for more strokes than usual. I actually executed a decent Zoom class–I just said eff it and used my phone–and participated in two other video sessions, with some Stephens folks (having to lean on it more heavily than this part-timer, they’re tiring of it but are digging in) and my parents, to whom I told the vanilla-ice-cream-loving penguin joke (this time). I tried to tell it to the fabulous furry Frissell brothers, George and Lee, via text–in short bursts to match the timing necessary if we had been together in person–but Lee let me get all the way to the verge of the Paragraph Four punch line before he inserted it himself (George had told it to him long ago). Never trust a Texan. I won’t tell you the one he told me, a COVID-19 joke worthy of Ken Weaver’s immortal but scarce Texas Crude.

Short, contained note: it’s all I can do to keep from screaming at our judicial, executive, representative, and military leadership right now, but fortunately, Mike, I tucked away The Inchiridion the other day and found the necessary restraint. I suspect you may have returned to it in recent hours. Your leadership deserves no screams, only praise.

Streaming for Shut-Ins:

I like to offer full albums, but this single song is a must for the moment.

Cloister Commentary, Day 10: “Frontier Bath” (March 30, 2020)

When things break or misfire these days, you can’t just run out heedlessly and replace ’em or get ’em fixed. Well, you COULD…but I prefer to at least hold my horses, which I do not find easy. Thus, yesterday, since our shower hose sprung a leak, I felt like a frontiersman, sitting in the tub rinsing the soap out of my hair with a Sub Shop cup. And, despite all the help YouTube could give, I could not get my garage door opener back in business after Friday’s power outage, so I had to open and shut it manually a few times yesterday to let out our indoor/outdoor feline Tux–that boy needs a cat door. It seemed familiar: I was born just early enough to experience life without remotes.

I’m writing these so later I can remember how we got through it, and also to possibly entertain you, but it frequently occurs to me that our not having children makes the task so much easier. Far from sitting back gloating, having taught children for almost 60 years between us, Nicole and I can understand how difficult it must be (but also, I am sure, a frequent delight) to have to help the youth through this from sun up to sunset. We start remote teaching in earnest today, but this is one spring break that isn’t going to be over for awhile. Keep calm and carry on.

Streaming for Shut-Ins: the great songwriter with a smile in his voice, John Prine, is in critical condition due to COVID-19. If you don’t know him, why not sample his first album and send him vibrations of strength? (Editor’s note: He’s not dead yet as of 2:15 PM CST April 5, 2020–tough as a boot, this guy.)