Cloister Commentary, Day 277: Pressure Drop

I feel like COVID-19 has really sapped my motivation to…dust. One would think since we are inside more, we’d want to keep things super-spiffy. But no. I think I observe dust’s relentlessness more closely, and, of course, we can’t have company, so…why? Nonetheless, I dusted and it felt so good!

One highlight of the day was reading a set of poems written by one of my former students, who is now writing and teaching at the University of Virginia. She was a good poet when she entered my class, and I did nothing other than encourage her a little and stay the hell out of the way. But she has risen to a level of skill, insight, and control that forced me to wonder, “How can I critique this?” I fully expect to order her first collection soon; these were better than a few I’ve bought and read in the past. Mary Clare Agnew: remember the name.

I have to admit, I am stressed. It’s no surprise: it’s deep December, the pandemic is raging (close to 10 deaths in this county in the last week, across a wide age range), it’s the first Christmas without my dad, my mom’s dealing with severe shoulder pain, Nicole’s just had a weird and trying semester that sapped her, it’s going to be frigid here tomorrow and tomorrow night and I worry about outdoor cats (our two have insulated cat crates, we have two more in front for the various neighborhood cats who don’t seem to be being cared for), I have some health concerns I’m putting off til January, political egregiousness is as relentless as the dust, somebody just defecated in the COVID-19 relief package–guess who?–and one day’s worth of mail (including correspondence from friends) and an important package are in limbo. I need to focus on what I do have, I know–and I am not only fortunate but privileged. Still, pressure has done dropped.

Streaming for Strivers:

Yesterday was the 35th anniversary of Minutemen singer, songwriter and guitarist D. Boon. For a small group of friends and me, his was the most painful truncated existence of our lifetime. I’ve come to love this final Minutemen studio album better than the others because it demonstrates their versatility, daring, intelligence, humor, heart and potential so vividly–especially D.’s. You are missed, Mr. Boon.

Cloister Commentary, Day 229: Holding Steady

I did not read a page or listen to a note of non-soundtrack music, yet yesterday was a success. I track three minimum daily goals every day: five minutes of exercise or meditation (73% all-time rate), 50 pages read (94% all-time rate), one recording listened to actively (97% all-time rate). Nicole and I went on a nice park walk on a glorious morning in nature and meditated by a duck pond, so one out of three was just fine.

Later in the morning, I helped Mom with some technology issues and located a missing key, we avoided a tension convention by mostly keeping the news turned off, then we enjoyed a movie marathon: the 2020 adaptation of Emma (our second time–holds up nicely), Brittany Runs a Marathon (just what we needed), and two episodes of The Queen’s Gambit (Nicole and I have already seen it–in fact, I’m reading the book from which it was adapted–but Mom is loving it, and we’re all amazed by Anya Taylor-Joy’s performances).

We are just trying to hold steady; we live under a snatch-away regime, at least for the time being.

Streaming for Strivers:

What you’ve been waiting for.