Cloister Commentary, Day 82: Punk’s Progress

I have to grade papers, so I must needs be brief.

Yesterday, I graded papers. I grit my teeth dragging myself to the task, slowly warm to it, almost lose myself paper by paper, and feel renewed afterwards. Somewhere the atoms of George Frissell are laughing and calling bullsh*t on that claim, but I’ve graded over 30,000 in my life, and one does find little streams of pleasure in it. I’ve got some good writers this summer, but later for the comma splices!

I have been struggling with an issue regarding a package USPS couldn’t deliver, had to redeliver, then lost. I’d filed a help request, and received an apology email, but the title of the email included the inaccurate word “Resolved.” So I fired back a tart but polite reply that there had to be more to it than I was being told–I had the tracking number, but no receipt to match it. In no time, I received a call from the local supervisor who’d written the email, who then expertly de-escalated my case of the red-ass, gave me some useful information by which I reached understanding, and very sincerely apologized again. I thanked him for caring enough to follow up, and as I was about to hang up, he said, “Did you use to teach at Hickman? I’m sorry I was a punk.” I had to tell him that a lot of punks turn out just fine.

I went a paragraph too long so I guess those essays aren’t that fetching.

Streaming for Strivers:

Medicine. These songs have been for years, and here they’re administered with care and mastery by two jazz physicians.

Cloister Commentary, Day 79: Mud and Lotuses

Here’s what pisses me off about me.

I was reading Thich Nhat Hanh’s No Mud, No Lotus, which primarily looks at the fact that suffering and happiness are essential to each other’s existence, and reached a passage where he suggests that, in the midst of suffering, as an alternative to despair or anger, breathing in and reminding yourself of the miraculous wells of happiness within you, still at your behest, like sight. Sounds simple–that’s TNH!–but he’s right, and you don’t have to deny your suffering doing so: rather you can sit with it. This really appealed to me, because I have been suffering from loss, but I can also blow up small incidents of aggravation into states of mind and sensation that feel like suffering, and lose my sense of proportion (another thing that pisses me off about me: wait til you see the “suffering” in the next ‘graf!).

Ok, so RIGHT AFTER READING THE ABOVE PASSAGE, with a new tool to use, I went out to meet the mail carrier. Two packages were due to arrive, and a package that we’d missed still hadn’t been redelivered after several days, so I wanted to see if she knew anything about it. I was standing at the end of the driveway waiting for her–and she suddenly put the pedal to the metal and blew right by me, down to the end of the block, and exited the neighborhood! Simmering, I quietly stomped back in the house to help Nicole brush out Louis. He has to wear a harness around the clock because he’s unpredictable, and it had to come off for full grooming. Try as I might, I could not get the harness back on the hound properly, and, whipping it down on the floor at Nicole’s feet, I just LOST IT! “F—k it, I can’t DO THIS!!! Where was the DAMN MAIL CARRIER GOING?!!! ARGHHYEAA$@#%!!” Near-hysteria.

So much for Thich Nhat Hanh’s wisdom. Turns out the mail carrier had just gotten a call that another carrier had to be immediately relieved due to heat exhaustion. And how ’bout that “suffering,” eh?

After a few Budweisers–where DID I put that copy of No Mud, No Lotus?–and a great dinner of spaghet, I sat with my bride in the front room in the dark for a couple of hours listening to our favorite songs on about 7, most but not all with social justice themes: “Uncloudy Day,” “Bernadette,” “Only a Pawn in Their Game,” “Can’t Truss It,” “Typical American,” “The Great Compromise,” “East Texas Red,” “Making History,” “What a Diff’rence A Day Makes,” “Free Your Mind and Your Ass WILL Follow,” “Say It Loud (I’m Black and I’m Proud),” “It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding).” I wish we could be out on the streets, but I suppose they also serve who only stand and wait. Of course, Milton was going blind when he wrote that.

Streaming for Strivers:

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