Cloister Commentary, Day 283: I Will Buy No More Forever

As New Year’s Day approaches, like a dork I’ve been considering resolutions. But I’m very serious about this one, and maybe if I make it public that will add to my resolve.

It will come as a surprise to no one who knows me that our house is teeming with books and music. Some who know me are also aware that I struggle with this, suspended between the desire to own every great album there is (and many of the great books, but that’s different) and the clear awareness that my life is finite, the rage to “possess” is ridiculous and very likely colonial residue, and I can enjoy so much great music and literature without having the concrete thing.

So. I’m going to try not to buy a single piece of music next year. My fortune is such that I have enough records here (beyond 10,000) to enjoy for the rest of my life. What about things that aren’t streaming, you wisely ask? I have a network of friends who are adepts and might be persuaded to swap. If that doesn’t work? It won’t kill me. Books: if I can’t find ’em in a library‚ĶI’ll live. Maybe, just maybe, if I learn about a great book that’s out of print and can find a cheap used copy, I’ll buy it. But isn’t that like that ONE cigarette that won’t hurt?

Wish me luck. Nicole and I had a great, relaxing day, got a neighborhood walk in, and discovered a “new” food show called “TrueSouth,” which was executive produced by Wright Thompson. Beebs seems to be feeling better. I drank a porter and it didn’t mess with my stomach. And my new nerdy Inspire watch revealed that my previous night’s sleep was “excellent.”

Streaming for Strivers:

A great singer whose life was cut terribly short, as was Sam Cooke’s, his boon companion and artistic admirer.

Cloister Commentary, Day 282: Home Again

Nicole and I headed back home yesterday after a holiday with my mom and my brother and sister-in-law. I knew Nicole would do so with no problem, but I’d worried how successfully I would be able to stay masked (other than being outdoors and sleeping and eating) for the whole visit. It’s not that I didn’t want to; I’m simply too present-minded, meaning my mind’s so full of everything important I need to attend to that I can forget the most important task. I would give myself an A-. It has been a very, very hard year for all of us and we needed to be together.

On the ride home, we listened to the audiobook of Wright Thompson’s terrific Pappyland. I’ve recently mentioned it, but if you have a gift card for a bookstore, think about this one. It’s about the famous Pappy Van Winkle line of bourbons, but it’s also about fathers and sons and so much more. I was dazzled and stunned by a passage in which Thompson links Rick Telander, Bruce Springsteen, and Thomas Merton as if that would be as natural as spring water running downhill.

We kicked back in the evening with a Shakespeare’s pizza, a glass, some music, and Christmas gifts. I fiddled with a new Inspire “health watch” as Nicole warned, “Nerd Alert!”

Streaming for Strivers:

I have the cassette.

Cloister Commentary, Day 278: Beebs Returns!

I had trouble concentrating most of the morning since Beebs, one of the two strays that adopted us several years ago and live on our back deck, hadn’t been around the previous evening and didn’t show up for breakfast. He is a very special cat to us: he first appeared as a phantom, then I very carefully employed my cat whisperer talents and finally, after several weeks of distanced treat offerings, persuaded him to let me pet him. We’ve been buddies ever since. He’s got a near-silent meow, “hurt”-looking eyes, and a playful streak epitomized by his batting at my ankle if I walk away from him before he’s done with me. He climbs everything, and early on he badly injured himself doing so and suffered an infection that threatened his life, and we and some great vets nursed him back to health. Currently, he guards the backyard, but he’s also kind and serves as a Eskimo-kissing big brother to our other deck-stray, Goldie. ANYWAY, I made “lost cat” posts on two social media sites, and since this year has been the straight pits, began preparing myself to accept another loss. Then, after lunch, he showed back up, limping but otherwise looking healthy. Exhale.

Also, Nicole and I started a book by an author one of my former students and very good friends, Regan Schoengarth, insisted I get very familiar with: Wright Thompson. Thompson’s got local connections (right, Steve Weinberg?) and, indeed, writes indelibly, ostensibly about sports, but most powerfully about fathers and sons and the way culture is mutated by time’s changes. He’s special: his sterling collection of features, THE COST OF THESE DREAMS, was the last gift I ever gave my dad (who loved it, but we didn’t get the chance to talk about it in depth–in a way, I gave him the book as a way to talk to him), and his new book, PAPPYLAND, is scintillating even if you’ve never heard of Pappy Van Winkle. We listened to half the audiobook yesterday and might just finish it today. Note: Thompson’s also an unabashed Southern writer, a breed for which I have a weakness.

Streaming for Strivers:

As my friend Ken often says, “Sometimes, nothing else works.”