Cloister Commentary, Day 316: Shawn, Out of the Blue

I was sitting at the table having coffee when, out of the blue, my friend from childhood, Shawn Baugh, lit up my phone. His first question? “What do you think of this political situation?” These days, such a query via telecom might cause one to have a sudden outage, but we’ve known each other for almost 50 years, so we pitched right in. We would seem to be on opposite ends of the political spectrum, but as our highly enjoyable discussion revealed, we have much in common regarding what we’d like to see fixed. We also laughed a lot about the absurdities of life, found ourselves remembering the world of our youth, and pondered our future road as oldsters. Neither of us are entirely sure we are excited to see what happens during the next 25 years, but this quote from Shawn sums up both our attitudes: “I love life.” He always has! And so have I, and I’m going to pursue measures to sustain that philosophy. That call was a great boost for my day.

Elsewhere, Nicole and I drove to the Columbia Farmers Market and picked up our usual weekend haul from Pasta La Fata, Uprise Bakery, and Happy Hollow Farm. I as usual picked the wrong basketball games to half-watch (Tide v. Sooners, Auburn v. Baylor) and mopped up a basement leak; Nicole made red beans and rice and some stir-fry to go with the smoked sockeye salmon we ordered from Sea Bear–I could almost have eaten the whole filet!

Movie Night: we finally watched Netflix’s adaptation of Aravind Adiga’s Horatio Alger-goes-to-India / Bildungsroman from Hell novel The White Tiger. The director is Rahmin Bahraini, one of our top five faves. Nicole’s side-eye review: “This is intense.”

Streaming for Strivers:

Mmmm…Goldie’s Bagels!

Cloister Commentary, Day 314: Art Immersion

Yesterday was somewhat of an art immersion. My mind and body call for one every so often. This episode featured a continued cruise through the oeuvre of Daniel Dumile, better known as MF DOOM (remember: all caps when you spell the man’s name), a master of improbable, poly-internal rhymes and sustained flow in spite of the jaw gymnastics who passed back in October. The man could craft thunking beats and allusive soundscapes as well. I’ve long been a fan–enough to buy a DOOM lunchbox and still be wearing a t-shirt I bought in the ‘oughts (Atlante Guarardo can testify)–and my cruise was stimulating. Also on the artistic menu was Hubert Selby Jr.‘s Requiem for a Dream; the best books can shut down mind-drift even in a burning world, and this one did for 75+ pages. I know I’ll have to revisit the film when I finish it (today), but neither tome nor flick are for the faint of spirit.

I received the data from my recent sleep study in the mail. Any other sleep apneaiacs out there? I drew a 43.2 AHI, and have another study next week.

My mom, who’s 83, reported that she will be getting her first COVID vaccine Tuesday, the day after her shoulder surgery. That’s some terrific news.

Nicole and I dined on #9s with curry and tofu from Bangkok Garden, then finished Season 1 of The Durrells in Corfu. I’m chompin’ at the bit for The White Tiger….

Streaming for Survivors:

He wasn’t totally comfortable performing live, but he had aching hands from breakin’ in mic stands. Hear below.

Cloister Commentary, Day 313: Pandemic Silver Linings Playbook

Nicole and I awakened to snow, beautiful and dangerous like human beings. Dad’s truck did pretty well without being put into four-wheel drive, and the snowfall was a calming backdrop to a few hours of work.

When I returned home, I networked with some former Hickman colleagues regarding the upcoming May scholarship in memoriam to the life and work of the only materially departed George Frissell. We have some very deserving candidates.

Dinner was smoked salmon, fresh spinach, and a baked potato. We read for a couple of hours with a Jimmy Smith soundtrack.

As promised (and it’s not that I am enjoying it or ever want to experience a repeat), here are…

The Ten Best Things About Being Isolated by the Pandemic:

  1. We have been eating far more healthily.
  2. Nicole and I will have been together 31 years in May. We have been in each other’s presence more in the last 313 days than we ever have, under stressful circumstances, and we feel strong. I guess the honeymoon period isn’t over yet.
  3. Oddly, being stranded from work has made me more available to respond in-person to tragedy and need.
  4. The virtual freshman comp class I taught for Stephens College this summer was truly one of my favorite educational experiences and I learned a few skills that will probably increase my professional lifespan.
  5. I have been able to talk to my mom almost every morning since mid-June. I have no love for talking on the phone, but I have enjoyed that, even though we’ve had to talk through hard things.
  6. We have been able to meditate and reflect on our days more consistently than ever.
  7. I’m not sure a new president would have been elected with the last one’s predictably cruel and inept response to the pandemic, and I’m happy that change happened. I should have included January 6 on yesterday’s list, because that’s always going to be tempering my optimism.
  8. Though I complained yesterday about being sucked into whirlpools of self-involved thinking, another perspective is I’ve had the quiet in which to really come to terms with realities about my self, which I think is always in flux but has some stable attributes.
  9. In the category of domestic felines, I have improved my relationships with Goldie, BB, Cleo, Tux, Smoky, and especially Spirit. Junior and I have always seen eye to eye.
  10. This. I have always enjoyed writing, and knocking these out every day has been good for me in many ways. When the project was suggested to me by a friend, I was skeptical and scared–I really didn’t want to do it–but (as with many things) once I got rolling, I truly took to it. Early on, after I’d already begun, the local historical society called for pandemic diaries, and I let them know what I was doing. Maybe one day these will be a primary source for a researcher trying to shed light on these times from a historical distance. In truth, I know I am unaware of much of what they really say; I just hope it’s been valuable.

Streaming for Strivers:

I’ve been DOOM-scrolling.

Cloister Commentary, Day 286: Hey 2020–Don’t Let The Doorknob Hit You in the Ass!

What were you doing on New Year’s Eve?

Well, for myself, I can see I over-posted! And I didn’t even wish people a Happy New Year–instead, I let loose with a Gene Vincent “quote.” I’m odd.

I got in a friendly cyber argument with my friends Kevin and Eric (definitely not Tim and Eric)! Evil Kevin was trying to make me pick between the Stones and the Velvets; my stance was “Why do I have to choose?” as well as “Why even compare these bands?” You cannot win an argument with anyone who has Eric’s backing (he’s that smart), and I guess I argue so infrequently they thought I had a case of the red-ass, which I didn’t. To get Kevin’s teeth out of my leg, I chose VU because they seem less colonial to me.

Nicole and I sampled the amazing cuisine of Pasta La Fata here in Columbia! You order, they make the pasta and sauce and everything and run it out to you, and you get to have the fun of assembling and cooking it! We had not had authentically Italian food in forevz and Pasta La Fata’s was scintillating. What did we order? Mostaccioli in Sugo sauce with salsiccia meatballs and cheese tortelloni in a brown butter and herb sauce. How’s that grab ya, darling? We will call them up again.

Nicole beat my butt in Scrabble as usual. My game-long paucity of vowels eventually led me to resign–can you resign in Scrabble? Seemed like the only thing for me to do to stop the bleeding, as I was also holding a Q and a J.

We also mourned the just-revealed Halloween passing of Daniel Dumile, the skilled rapper and producer better known as MF DOOM. I’m still somewhat skeptical due to the unusual announcement, but 2020 just had to be an ass one more time. His music kept the blues at bay for us, though.

No one karaokes like my old pal Brock, and we got to watch him “do a show” for his family in the Boland lair. He appears to be training his talented daughter Fay to take over her dad’s business; it was almost as fun as being at a club!

We didn’t call anybody. Nobody called us! It’s fun to do on New Year’s Eve, but apparently not that fun.

Though time and calendars are constructs of human beings, I am damn glad 2020 is over. It was the worst year of my life, easily. I’m not even totally sure what the damage is; I know there is some. But, I tell you what (what’s the origin of that phrase? it cracks me up!), in our 30-plus years together Nicole and I have seldom been apart–this year, we were more together than ever, and not only did I truly enjoy it, I’m not sure we ever argued seriously, and I am sure I’d have not made it without her. Also, I think thumbing out these entries helped, too. It’s not like I ever bare my soul; it’s just a record of what happened, plus a way for me to keep pushing music. But when things seemed to be falling apart, I could write one, read it back, and see some order. Thanks for bearing with me.

Streaming for Survivors:

Everybody / Loves a winner!