Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Friday, August 25, 2006
- What is your earliest memory of school?
I repeated first grade; as I recall the reason given was "emotional immaturity". Could be argued that I need to repeat life for this same reason. In my defense (assuming I need one), my parents got divorced during this period.
President Kennedy was shot on my birthday when I was either 2nd or 3rd grade. This is an event that haunts me, off and on, even today.
- Who was a favorite teacher in your early education?
Understanding "early education" as meaning anytime before college, I have two nominees: the history teacher in Junior High (now called Middle School); and Mrs. Moore, who taught Drama in High School.
I can't remember the history teacher's name, but he was a rare instance of a coach who could teach. He worshipped Douglas McArthur, and had the students give presentations. Mine was on The Communist Manifesto.
We can blame Mrs. Moore for my attempts at poetry. She had our class maintain journals. I wrote something that looked like poetry in mine, and she encouraged me to write more like it.
- What do you remember about school "back then" that is different from what you know about schools now?
As I understand it from hear-say, high school is more violent than it was in '71-75. My friends and I were more worried about not conforming than being shot.
However, one of my friends was beat up by the football team on a regular basis. As I recall, he rather enjoyed antagonizing certain macho players.
- Did you have to memorize in school? If so, share a poem or song you learned.
I appeared in a number of plays in high school, and naturally had to memorize my lines. These plays included Columbine Cum Laude, Mash (I played Fr Mulcahy), and The Night of January 16th.
I memorized T.S. Eliot's "Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" for a high school talent assembly.
Padre bought me my first guitar - a 2nd-hand Silvertone - sometime before my freshman year of high school. I soon had significant portions of the Leondard Cohen and Bob Dylan songbooks memorized.
- Did you ever get in trouble at school? Were there any embarrassing moments you can share?
I went to a parochial school for fifth and sixth grades. Padre had to drop me off and pick me up every day, which meant I had about an hour of time on my hands after school.
I did appropriately studious activities, like finishing my homework, and reading in the school's small library. But I also would get bored. There was a period, probably just a few days, where I would go to the side of the school and break pop bottles. Oddly, I was called on the carpet because the school was losing money on the deposit. I don't think anyone mentioned I might hurt myself.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
I wonder if the anniversary of her departure has something to do with the melancholy I've felt this time of year for the past several years.
I call it "melancholy" because it somehow does not seem severe enough to be depression. I've experienced severe depression - and this isn't quite that bad.
I'm aware that I can be melodramatic when I'm in the throes of this melancholy. Just last week, I was thinking to myself that my problem was that I couldn't make up my mind whether I wanted to live or not. See? Melodramatic.
So, calling this case of the blues "depression" seems as melodramatic as that ideation.
It's not quite "darkness". It may not even be like what Dr. Omed calls "crow time". I call it "the darkness" out of convenience, and because few people know what melancholy means anymore.
It's only dark in the sense that it takes a force of will to be aware of the light. Most of the day I can either distract myself from the darkness, or remind myself it will get better. At worst, I keep going out of simple curiosity of what might happen next.
The melancholy seems to be rooted in the awareness that I don't currently have a romantic partner, and a wish that the situation could be different. That's why I wonder whether this case of fall blues might be related to her departure during the fall.
I recognize the feeling. I give it a name, to help myself feel some control. I acknowledge the feeling is legitimate. I remind myself that feelings come and go. Feelings do not always require immediate action.
Feelings come and go. Not every moment is dark. Even this week, there have been moments of fun and laughter. I just keep walking.I wonder what tomorrow will bring.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Monday, August 21, 2006
Friday, August 18, 2006
My lame horse went at an Adverse Camber
down the Butts Wynd streets.
We passed the Free House
where liberal ale was served.
Come Sunday, we'd be in the Plague Church
of the indulgence of the night before.
"Mind the Gap," said the innkeeper
as the next round slid my way.
The assignment, per Songbird & Kathryn, is to define the five British phrases shown in bold above. I decided it would be more fun to try to write a poem using those phrases — since I seem to be in a poetic mood this week.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
My hair is not dark.
My beard is full, and greying.
I'm not wearing a beret;
I wear my thinning hair,
a natural tonsure.
This orange cat
looks nothing like
my cat. She's
a grey tiger.
That's not my regular smile.
I smile askew, and
it's often hidden.
I don't have an avatar.
From that point on, I followed my regular routine. Restroom. Duck into study, to turn on the computer. Pad into kitchen, to start water boiling for green tea. Shower & shave. Dress. Feed the feline. Eat breakfast. Wash dishes. Carry cuppa tea back to my cave/study.
This last is a service which allows a user to catalogue all the books in their library. One may record up to 200 books, for free. I've entered a small fraction of my physical library, and I'm already up to a little over 100 books.
I could be methodical about this process, and enter information beginning with the bookshelf closest to the door (the north wall of the cave). This shelf features my poetry collection.
A glance at that final page suggests that I have the largest number of Henry Miller titles (19) of those who have entered their collection into this service.
This fixation on particular authors (and Twain will soon be added to that list) seems a variation of that old alcoholic dictum: if one is good, one hundred must be even better.
It felt good to simply handle the books by Henry Miller again. I was introduced to his writing the summer after I graduated from high school. Gary especially enjoyed the sexy bits of Tropic of Cancer.
I bought my copies of Cancer and Capricorn from a second-hand bookshop. Somehow that seems appropriate. The man who would become Dr. Omed gave me a hard-bound edition of Black Spring.
I set myself the goal of reading the Rosy Crucifixion in one summer. This was a trilogy, similar to the Obelisk Trilogy (the two Cancers and Black Spring); each book was over 300 pages. I was working full time for the Infernal Bookstore, so it was the perfect thing to read. Where I had the "Infernal Bookstore," he had the "Cosmogogic Telegraph Company".
Toward the end of his life, Miller wrote a small book titled My Bike and Other Friends. It's part of my collection. I suppose my equivalent of that would be My Books & Other Friends. Each author has his or her individual voice. Henry Miller's is a distinctive voice I return to again and again.He's a good, if outsized, companion.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
may they see their Inner Light
and heed the intimate voice.
For the Bishop of Rome,
may he see his Inner Light,
and heed the intimate voice.
May he see Christ in the Buddha.
For the Archbishop of Cantebury,
may he see his Inner Light
and heed the intimate voice.
For Nigerian Bishops,
may they see their Inner Light
and heed the intimate voice.
May they seek Christ in the stranger.
For George Bush,
may his life be blessed and full.
May he see his Inner Light
reflected in the foreigner.
For Donald Rumsfeld,
may his Inner Light be inspired.
May his life be full and blessed.
May he never be torn by rockets,
mortar, or gun fire.
For Condeleeza Rice,
may she be inspired by her Inner Light.
May her life be rich and blessed.
For Dick Cheney,
may his Inner Light be ignited.
May he learn the way of spiritual poverty,
and walk the path of humility.
We also offer prayers for:
The mother who was shot,
the son who was arrested.
The mother's son who died on the border.
Grant them peace.
May their Inner Light
guide them into your presence.
Pray for us now, and in the hour of death:
that we be richly blessed with a full life,
walk the humble path of rightness,
see you in every person we meet,
and continually grow to full maturity.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Before the stars learned their names;
Before yes, before no;
Before the alphabet was formed;
Before lightening dreamed of the mason jar;
Before snow found its dance;
We were waiting for the rose.
When the moon was boiling;
When the sun was drowning;
When the whirlwind
built a ladder into the abyss;
When woman was formed
from the folds of the earth
And man was formed from woman;
We were waiting on the rose.
The Queen of Diamonds kissed the Alaskan sky.
The Jack of Clubs sailed the Cape of Good Hope.
The King of Spades walked through the Village.
The Ace of Hearts held its breath.
We were waiting for the rose.
And the meadows were formed
and the mountains were raised
and the trees learned their blossom
and bees sang their mornings
and the oceans washed the land
and the land fed the ocean.
The sheep met the meadows.
And the horses, and the pigs, the hens,
the immodest monkey, the shy elephant,
all did their part.
All, all, brought their gift for the rose.
Only then did the rose appear.
Where have you been, asked the great dome.
How long we have waited, said the dust.
How long I have sought you, said the sea.
Where have you been, asked the distant lights.
Where have been, said the leviathan.
The cattle, the sheep, the pigs, the horses,
the elephant, the tiger, the bison, the ostrich,
the mountain lion, all in unison cried:
Where have you been, we've waited so long.
Then the thunder spoke.
Then spoke the Holy Mountain.
Then spoke the Lord of All,
The Lover of the Heights and Depths,
Then spoke the Mother and Father,
Then spoke the infinite Yes and the intimate No.
Then spoke the High Holy One,
the First and Last, the Maker and Defender of All:
It was a whisper as loud as a thousand hurricanes;
a shout as soft as nightingales and whippoorwills:
"Where have you been?"
And there the rose stood.
"Why have you kept us waiting?"
came the voice.
And the rose
Monday, August 14, 2006
Now, Edgar has lived in the neighborhood since 1959, so he knows a lot of its history. For example, he knows the creek which abuts the north side of our property has not flooded since sometime in the early 70s.
When he moved in, it was a natural creek, and even had some fish. Then, sometime in the early 60s, a carwash opened at the west end of the creek, and dumped its soapy water in. That was it for the fish.
The last significant flood was in 1955, before he and his wife (now deceased) moved in. The water came up to his back door steps. In the 60s, the water only came half-way up the yard. After concrete was poured into the banks and the bed of the river in the 70s, it didn't flood anymore.
Ed often likes to talk about the house to the west of my house (he lives in the house immediately east of mine). The woman who lived there died two years ago, and her son-in-law has been remodeling it. Ed seems quite perturbed that he hasn't sold it or leased it out yet. "Isn't that strange?" he says.
"Well, I don't know," I'll say, "I'm pretty sure he's remodeling it, and that can take a long time."
Then he started talking about the house directly across the creek from my house. "They're colored," he said, and his tone of voice conveyed a different
word altogether. "I don't ever see them in the back yard. They don't mow
it, or maintain it. They keep their blinds drawn all the time.
"Isn't that strange?"
"Well, I don't know. Don't suppose it's any of my business." By which I also meant to say it wasn't any of his business, either. It was a lot to try to pack into a tone of voice.
"They've lived there 8 or 10 years, but they keep those blinds drawn all the time. Isn't that strange?"
I didn't point out that the windows he's seeing face south. If you want to keep your heating bill reasonable, you keep the blinds on the south side of your house closed, especially in summer. In fact, most of the blinds in my house are drawn, for that reason.
I didn't care for the tone of judgmentalism, but I knew I was unlikely to change his ways by saying something.
I have a standard thing I say to myself when I sense I'm about to pass judgment on how someone else does something: "Well, it's a choice. It may not be the choice I would make, but that's ok. It's their choice, not mine." Then I drop the matter from my mind.
I know I don't care to be judged in this fashion. That's why I keep this neighbor at arm's length. I've never let him collect my mail when I'm out of town, for example. I have no doubt he would be looking through it and wondering why I subscribe to this magazine, or (potentially) donate to that charity.I can only imagine how he would respond if he picked up Shambhala Sun from my mailbox one day. "What's a good Christian doing, reading a Buddhist magazine? Isn't that strange?"
Saturday, August 12, 2006
I've taken 22 pictures of my favorite model this week. Obsessed much? Well, you have to admit she's awfully cute. Plus, she's model thin.
I was worried about how thin she was, so I bought some Iams moist cat food. She chowed down, all right, but she didn't eat it all.
Clearly, she has a model's temperment and/or appetite.
In other news, you may have noticed I've removed a pair of posts from earlier this week. One was a poem, and the other was a detailed background on the poem, on the actual event which inspired the poem.
The poem, and event, concerned someone at church. A friend pointed out that I couldn't be absolutely sure this person, or an acquaintance of this person, wouldn't stumble on the entry. I still think it highly unlikely; I'm among a minority of cyber-savvy folk within my age group at church.
However, there was also a shade of meaning I was trying to convey, or a shade of feeling. And comments from other friends suggested I had not successfully conveyed that shade of feeling.
Meanwhile, Ms. Julian is marvelously tolerant of me. What they say about a cat's patience must be true.
Friday, August 11, 2006
I heard a story on Morning Edition today, from the Story Corps project. A granddaughter interviewed her grandmother, Nora Percival. Ms. Percival told the story of her happy marriage; her husband died when she was 24 (so I presume it was early in their marriage). She learned a few weeks later she was pregnant, but chose to keep the child. A little over 60 years later, Ms. Percival wrote a book based on "hundreds of letters" between her and her late husband.
The granddaughter concluded the interview by asking her grandmother if she had any wishes for the granddaughter. Ms. Percival replied that she hoped the granddaughter would find a love like she had.
Being the sentimental old soul I am, I teared up. The story was a powerful witness.
Billy Sunday once referred to the Episcopal Church as a sleeping giant. Others have called it "the frozen chosen." This latter appellation conveys the sense that people in the Episcopal Church do not exhibit joy.
I think a lot depends on individual communities. The mission church I used to attend did seem to lack joy; I think it was because they were so worried about finances. The church I currently attend seems to have a great deal of positive energy, which seems to me an expression of joy. People are involved, and choose to come to church more than once a week.
Another sign of joy in this particular community is the fact that people feel free to laugh and applaud during the service. There is still the liturgical decorum one expects in an Episcopal Church (even more so in the Cathedral), but people don't seem constricted by that decorum.
I experienced outrageous generosity at my former church. Padre had just died, and my former wife and I lacked the means to drive to Texas. Our car was unreliable, and we didn't really have money for gas or a motel. The church had a special collection (without my prior knowledge) which helped cover the gas expense and motel. We may not have been able to go without this assistance.
People perceive me as being patient. I perceive myself as relatively impatient. If I don't see positive results for a project, I get discouraged and drop it. Sometimes I try again. Other times, I chose not to - supposing to do so would define insanity, "Doing the same thing and expecting different results".
I suppose some perceive me as patient because I am willing to listen. If a child starts talking to me, I give that child my undivided attention. I strive to give everyone I met the same level of attention. I strive to believe people are sincere, until I have strong evidence otherwise. I strive to let my own yes mean "yes", and my no to mean "no", as the Gospel says.
This is a gift I currently long for. There are many areas where I seem to lack self-control. No need to detail them here; I know what they are.
Thursday, August 10, 2006
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Here's the first stanza, as a sample:
put down your flaming, burnished spearThe poem, as you'll see, is by Maya Stein. I've skimmed the remainder of her page, and have found many more poems and quotes worth reading.
unmask your vicious threats
reveal your white-hot rage for fear
cast off your harsh regrets
Saturday, August 05, 2006
And yet, she paused long enough to strike this lovely pose. Immediately behind her, you see the guitar case for my nylon string guitar. It's the first guitar I bought with my own money, using wages earned at U-Totem the summer of 1976. The guitar was made in 1955, which makes it as old as I am. It's my baby, but the oldest guitar in the house is the one I inherited from Padre.
One day, I will tell you more.
Friday, August 04, 2006
- Describe the last play or musical you saw. What was your opinion of it?
Pretty sure it was a local production of A Chorus Line with my former supervisor. I enjoyed it - much better than the movie version. This production led me to believe the choreographer was based on Bob Fosse.
1500 CORRECTION: The last musical I saw was with Elsie, just 2-3 years ago. I forget the name, but it had to do with a beauty pagent, and the women were played by men in drag.
- All time favorite play? Musical?
Padre's favorite musical was Man of La Mancha. I have the broadway cast recording, and listen to it occasionally. I only have two musicals on video: Newsies and Chicago. I have several soundtrack CDs, and trying to pick a favorite too challenging for this hour.
- What non-musical movie do you think should next get the musical treatment?
"Snakes on a Plane" (couldn't resissssssst)
- Favorite song from a musical? Why?
My choices are both sentimental and predictable: "Impossible Dream" from Man of La Mancha; "Maria" from West Side Story; "Send in the Clowns" from A Little Night Music (though it must be the Judy Collins version).
- What great pop/rock singer/composer or super-group should be the next to be featured in a revue, and what might the story-line be for such a show?
The songs of U2 arranged to tell a modern version of Job.
Most of my acting was done in high school. The only musical I was involved with was in Jr High. There wasn't a band, and a tape the music was going to be played through the sound system. There was a technical glitch, and it was decided this plan wouldn't work. So we spoke the songs. I probably could have sung my part a capella, but probably was the only one there who could have.
Couple of high school roles stick in memory - the character who gets murdered in Zoo Story and the German in Ayn Rand's Night of January 16th.
Thursday, August 03, 2006
- How many hours in a day are you either directly or indirectly listening to music?
My mind has a near constant sound-track. A word or phrase will remind me of a song, and I'm off. I'm currently preparing for a perforance (this Saturday), and rehearsal includes singing a capella from the time I get out of bed to the time I sit down to breakfast. That's right, I sing in the shower.
In the car, I'm either listening to NPR news, one of the classical stations, or my iPod (per below).
I occasionally listen to music while in my cave (study) at home. It serves as background when I'm typing or manipulating images. As a rule, I don't listen to music with recognizable lyrics while writing because it's too distracting.
- How often are you in charge of said music?
99.99% of the time.
- Do you need music as a part of your day?
- What band and/or solo artist have you been a fan of for the longest period of time?
A tough question. I've been a fan of Nat King Cole and Johnny Mathis since childhood, through my parents' influence. But I don't have a single one of their albums in my considerable collection.
Restricting myself to albums I actually own, I'd say the Beatles. I still have the 45 (single) Lady Madonna, which is the first Beatles purchase I ever made.
- What three albums could you not do without?
- Common One, Van Morrison
- Field Commander Cohen, Leonard Cohen
- Goldberg Variations (original & re-recorded), Glenn Gould
- What's the last concert you went to?
Marcia Ball, with Alexandria, early this year, at the Sooner Theater in Norman, OK.
- Name two songs your friends/family associate with you?
Friends (i.e., Dr. Omed): "How Can I Keep From Singing", "Sisters of Mercy"
Family (i.e., Brother Dave): "St James' Infirmary", "Little Old Brush Arbor." The latter is a song written by our paternal grandfather.
I'm curious what they would actually respond, and each one is invited to agree or disagree in the comments.
- It's Karaoke Night. Let's say you're the karaoke type. What do you sing?
I've actually done karaoke — I sang "Born to Run".
I'm performing this Saturday: Born to Run, Little Old Brush Arbor, Nights in White Satin, and I Stand at Every Door. That last song is a Japanese poem set to music by Pete Seeger. It is related to the bombing of Hiroshima — this Saturday is the anniversary.
First verse: "I come and stand at every door / but none can hear my silent tread / I knock and yet remain unseen / For I am dead, for I am dead" (sung to the tune of "The Great Silkie").
- If you could sing/play an instrument like anyone else on earth, who would it be?
Well, of course I do play a few musical instruments — primarily guitar and harmonica. But the world is full of folk who play either better than me.
Wish I could play guitar like a mix of Eric Clapton, John Fahey, and Ed Gerhard. I'm blocking on names of harmonica players (other than Dylan), but there are a number of blues harpists I wish I could play like.
I'm pretty happy with my singing, though I'm aware there's always room for improvement. I currently have some sinus drainage, which is squeezing my upper range, and I'd prefer to be past that.
- What musical format do you use most often (CDs, mp3s, vinyl, 8-tracks, live instruments, squeezed cats…)
Either iPod or CD. For musical instruments, see above. DJ's meow is very musical, and there's no need to squeeze her to hear it.
- Do you own an iPod or mp3 player of some sort?
Yes. Paid for with income tax refund.
- Do you listen to music when you exercise?
What is this thing you call exercise? You may recall I listened to my iPod while distributing campaign literature.
- And finally… dedicate a song to MegFowler.com!
John Sebastian, "She's a Lady"
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
Two modest proposals:
1. Legalize drug use in professional sports. If pro athletes want to risk impotence, cancer, and other health problems, why should we care? The contest will become not only physical ability and skill, but pharmacological knowledge. Record books will mark a clear distinction between "pre-drug" and "post-drug".
2. That the U.N. send an international force to the mideast, to disarm (primarily) Lebanon, Israel, and Syria. Leave the citizens of those countries nothing more deadly than a pea shooter.
One bottom-line issue in both cases is to create a level playing field.
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
A few years ago, an elderly monk arrived in India after fleeing from prison in Tibet. Meeting with the Dalai Lama, he recounted the years he had been imprisoned, the hardship and beatings he had endured, the hunger and loneliness he had lived with, and the torture he had faced.
At one point the Dalai Lama asked him, "Was there ever a time in which you felt your life was truly in danger?"The old monk answered: "In truth, the only time I truly felt at risk was when I felt in danger of losing compassion for my jailers."
. . . Our compassion simply grows out of our willingness to meet pain rather than to flee from it.
. . . Our capacity to cause suffering as well as to heal suffering live side by side within us. If we choose to develop the capacity to heal, which is the challenge of every human life, we will find our hearts can encompass a great deal, and we can learn to heal — rather than increase — the schisms that divide us from one another.