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 157: I Want My Crown

I received a new crown (on a tooth, to be clear) in January, a piece broke off of it in February and my dentist applied a temporary patch to it since the next crown appointment wasn’t available until April, COVID-19 hit and my appointment was delayed, and finally yesterday I sat for over three hours for a new, more durable crown (free of charge). I’ve been seeing the same dentist for almost 30 years–she’s excellent–and over that time her in-house music has improved: I even heard Freddy Fender at one point. I was able to read Zadie Smith’s excellent new pandemic essay collection Intimations while the new crown cooked, and overall the grinding was tolerable. Plus, my hygienist was into Jimi Hendrix and country music, so I tried to sell her on Mdou Moctar, Pistol Annies, and Tyler Childers, of whom she hadn’t heard. Now that I look back at that description, it almost looks like I had fun.

Nicole fixed me some miso soup when I got home–I was a bit numb, still–then I was sucked into The NBA Playoff Vortex. Waited several hours for the Culligan guy to show up and fix a leak in our water-softening system, then after dinner we kicked back and watched our new shows (Lovecraft Country–the jury is still out there–and Unforgotten, which rocks).

And…2020 poured more of its kerosene of ugliness, virus, and hate on the existing raging fire.

Streaming for Strivers:

Two young masters improvising.