Cloister Commentary, Day 255: Cold, Cold, Cold

Yesterday was the first realllllly cold morning of the pandemic, and I don’t know about you, but it felt much different than past first-cold-mornings. In some ways, one would expect this experience has toughened us up; however, the isolation–especially if one bit the bullet and stayed put this Thanksgiving–adds a new dimension to meeting wintery weather.

Work was slow for me. Few of Stephens’ students are on campus for finals, and neither of those facts held out the promise of a tutoring appointment. Also, the Success Center and library warriors–the only folks IN the library other than wee ones and their teachers on the top floor–are still sticking to their offices (though we don’t have to at this point, I’m keeping my door shut so I can comfortably work without a mask). Maybe that, too, made the cold colder.

I’ve mentioned this before, but The New York Times Magazine’s THE DECAMERON PROJECT collects pandemic stories from 23 of the world’s best writers (even more are featured on line). If you’re one who believes the only thing coming out of newspapers is “fake news,” I have news for you: the motto of the collection is “When reality is surreal, only fiction can make sense of it,” and these aces fully realize that motto. Names you might recognize? Margaret Atwood, Edwidge Danticat, David Mitchell, Tommy Orange, Karen Russell, Rachel Kushner, and Victor LaValle. It’s now in book form, but you can also read it on-line. I recommend Russell’s “Line 19 Woodstock / Glisen” as a teaser; Nicole and I both loved it.

Streaming for Strivers:

Hearkening back to my eight-track days–I played the pee-waddin’ out of this one.

Cloister Commentary, Day 142: Dread-Treatments

Woke up with a feeling of dread and treated that with a headphone dose of rabble-rousing, stare-down, truth-telling punk rock. Not only did I feel much better afterward, but Nicole got a chance to sleep in!

Some other dread-treatments that worked? NBA basketball (the Pelicans lost but oh well), family ‘n’ friend Zooms (Jane, Brian, Myra, Jill, and Rex), piña coladas (Nicole made me sing that horrific Rupert Holmes song–I tried to sing it like Slim Pickens would have if Slim Pickens had sung, but nothing can redeem lines like “If you have half a brain”), a korma konkoktion, weeding yes weeding.

Nicole and I also took on a new project. A couple New York Times Magazines ago, 23 current writers under the banner of “The Decameron Project” published short pieces in the vein of Boccaccio’s Italian “Black Death” classic. You may know some of their names: Margaret Atwood, Victor LaValle, Tommy Orange, Ewidge Danticat, and David Mitchell are just a few. Entering into a fraught school semester, we thought it would be fun to read one piece a night together and discuss it. Yes, we have strange ideas of fun but we like it that way. Anyhow, we were too pooped last night to talk about the first story (it was really an intro, anyway) by the time we’d both read it–but we will catch up on the walk we’re about to take.

Streaming for Strivers:

More mordant musings.