Friday, February 25, 2005
cigarette traces on windbreakers;
From lit edge of memories
linger nostalgia’s smoke.
Been pondering the past, prompted by reveries spun by internet revelations. What does it say that my favorite teacher was Mrs. H- and my favorite 5th grader was the blonde German Julie Ostendorf? That my 3/8ths German spoke loudly?
My formative experiences were all Teutonic. I found a second family two doors down in the K----'s, 2nd generation Germans. They had imbibed biblical criticism (made famous by 19th century Germans) - Mrs. K asked if I really believed in the Virgin birth and I looked at her like it was a trick question. He could rise from the dead but not be born without a human father? Yet they radiated an old country warmth and were immune to prejudice. Mrs. K’s favorite magazine was “Guideposts” - inspiration without dogma.
I remember high school band fondly. I recall pre-parade wet pavement, hypnotized by the glaring, shiny uniforms of the flag girls, as The Commodores' Three Times a Lady played softly in the background. I went through it without taking responsibility for anything, a completely passive participant in what life would bring. Learning to play tuba in high school teaches two things: one, don’t depend on me for the melody and two, a heavy load limits expectations so don’t expect high jumps...
Here cynicism coagulates and finds no mooring; thanks and praise given on the eve of hellacious pain! Time, a human construction, breaks before the Eucharist. Bound no more to wood, he binds to bread.
Do you know my pain? says the Theotokos, and I discover that I don’t know her pain. For you can only experience pain to the extent you have not hardened your heart, have not erected barriers, have not made yourself invulnerable to pain. And only Mary and Jesus can lay claim to perfect vulnerability.
Oh the long-sickness I experienced at St. John's! How it pierced to see the elderly couple a few rows in front of me, how the elderly man stands stock still every time in front of the Blessed Mother icon, how after Communion his wife cradled his face - or did he cradle hers? They meld in my mind, like one flesh.
There can be no substitute for childlikeness. The liturgy teaches that in actions, the bowing, the prostrations, the hymns. The elderly couple seemed innocent as children and it broke my heart that my wife might never know the beauty of a Byzantine liturgy and the Eucharist, or that our simplicity and innocence may never match theirs.
be careful using
after smoking weed
Thursday, February 24, 2005
My 4th grade (Catholic school) teacher is now a massage therapist who signed a letter supporting a "woman Roman Catholic priest" (there's one for your oxymoron collection). She's also involved with a far left group called Gamaliel Foundation. She came of age during the '60s and is, like all of us, a creature of her time.
Another ghost was a girl I dated briefly in college who is now married to a guy with an Italian-sounding name. They live in Deerfield, Il, not far from Chicago, in a modest, sub-1000 square foot home.
Wednesday, February 23, 2005
I had a crush on my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. H-. It was during a time when Secrets-Could-Not-Be-Told, in a land where pride was everything and the only thing to fear was cooties itself.
I was outed by a classmate at the lunchtable. I was never given to displays of anger, but I exploded and pounded that pint of chocolate milk (this was the pre-2% days I might add) against the table, causing it to splash everyone within a few yards. I stomped out of the cafeteria leaving a lunch uneaten, something that has never happened before or since.
I had promised to dedicate my first book to Mrs. H- but it was never the same between us. The anti-tank defenses went up; I would not give any classmate the satisfaction of finding that their truth was indeed truth.
Tuesday, February 22, 2005
Of course that sounds like the Baptist lady saying she's taking her whiskey for medicinal reasons only...
You who fear the LORD, praise him!...For he did not despise or abhor the affliction of the afflicted.
Great consolation that God can look upon the ugly and not look away in horror.
Before him shall bow all who go down into the dust...
Was not Ash Wednesday's reading about those who would sit in ash? If we go down into the dust and sit in the ash then this prayer assures of our bowing before Him which enables our rising.
The biggest shock of my youth was learning that erudition and goodness did not go together, that wisdom and book-reading were often mutually exclusive. The lesson over and over is relearnt: unless we be as little children...
American men are desperate for women like this, but what they get is a self-inflated neurotic growling Joan Crawford's signature line: 'I'll do anything for those kids, ya hear me? Anything!'"
- Florence King
Sunday, February 20, 2005
I'm surprised there is no picture of it on the web, at least none that I could find. Because words will fail. But it is a pleasing blend of the old world and the modern, the beautiful hair of one of the naiads seems to take flight just as the water takes flight and just as the birds that loft from the naiads's hair take flight. Their bodies arch in innocent poses astride the fountain, their legs apart.
Like the sun, I can't look at it too long. In fact that's part of the reason I can't describe it better, because I've never looked at it too long. It creates the sort of sexual hunger that Lord knows I don't need any more of.
I'm in awe of those who are spiritually mature enough to be able to be neither Puritans nor Epicureans, those who can enjoy that type of art without stumbling. The fountain I described is aesthetically beautiful; one can look at it, unlike pornography, with aesthetic satisfaction rather than bodily hunger. For me it is an odd mixture of both - it triggers a bodily response while also triggering an "appreciation response" (for want of a better term). I understand that the bodily response is natural and therefore amoral, i.e. neither moral nor immoral, but I also understand that that bodily response is not without cost in the form of a subterranean hunger that likely won't immediately, or even perhaps intermediately, be satisfied.
Friday, February 18, 2005
I can hear the Oirish music now and it’s impossible to suppress a grin or a foot from pedallin’ to the chune. Do I feel anticipatory reverbations of St. Patrick’s Day? I’m hungry for it, I know it! I haven’t visited the olde sod in awhile and I need a fix. There’s a pipe in the corner and over there’s a fiddle player and over yonder a lass tipplin’ a Jameson – does her beau know what she's doin'? There’s a sprightliness to the air as the tune carries to the next room where you hear the sudden break of clapping.
I’m drinking straight Gaelic and I can’t understand a word it’s sayin’. I can’t get close enough to my homeland, where my bones ache to be buried! There my ancestors are playing jigs and reels the whole day long, there in West Ireland singing their genetically familiar speech. Every day is a festival there, there in Heaven, there where even the soil is clean and the whisper of the Irish Sea sings in the speakers. There where a ‘tousand varieties of green play off the Connemara sky. The tinwhistles whistle whilst farmers till peat that doesn’t even need be dug for! It pops up like toasted rolls.
Everything in West Ireland is named Ballythis or Ballythat. It lends a bit of lyricism, the little “eee” sound in the middle of every country town. I visit the sea town of BallyBrae where the crashing water meets stone huts eight-hundred years old and it’s unbearable not to visit them, not to visit as it was then, not to visit my ancient 'cestors, not to attend their Mass and share their God-joy!
I offer this advice to thee:
Get very rich or very poor,
And you won't be bourgeois anymore.
- Clifford D. May
Emailer to NRO:
"I teach at a community college in Tennessee. So help me, I saw a male faculty member wearing an "Honorary Vagina" sticker on his shirt the other day. What is happening to us? Please protect my identity."
You can't make this stuff up.
Very interesting. Tolkein was said not to listen to anything composed after the 16th or 17th century. The cool music of the Classical Period (like Mozart, Bach) was less designed to stir emotions than the romantic music of Beethoven, which was all about feelings. G. Gordon Liddy says he won't listen to anything other than martial music like John Philip Sousa and the band ABBA (if you can believe that) because so much of modern music has a negative effect on his psyche.
John Derbyshire of NRO (an Anglican) is reading a book describing the unbelieveable excellence of the 13th century. In everything, art, architecture, religion. It seems like Christendom peaked there and then the Black Plague came and, well, look out below.
Thursday, February 17, 2005
It goes to show that life either isn't fair or they have low standards. But I'm grateful, grateful to land in such a place where I'm appreciated and not overworked. Not a bad combination...
It’s unfair to judge him. Fame is something few can handle and thererfore to be devoutly avoided; the decades of the ’60s and ‘70s were bru-tile on family values. But Denver taught me that feelings are all that matter. Is it ironic he died in an adrenalin rush? Did he not live for that glandular product? I followed him from Nature to Annie to alcohol to E.S.T...Was he not searching for Christ? Funny, the biggest lies are the ones you don’t even notice? And the biggest lesson he taught was the one he may've never learned: that the only Therapy is the one you can't summon on your own. You can only ask.
He sang of his wife Annie: "You fill up my senses...." Can you honestly be surprised they divorced?
Wednesday, February 16, 2005
I think Jonah Goldberg of the Corner understands this. His recent reaction to Robin Wright's response to one of his posts was telling. Robin Wright is a "big swinging" in the Old Media. I think she writes for theNY Times but I could be mistaken. Anyway, Goldberg wrote that he impressed by her rebuttal but more impressed by the fact that she took the time to respond. It was a tiny watershed in blogging history: Robin Wright emailed a blogger. As bloggers, we know we are off-off Broadway. We are the poor of the publishing world at least in the sense of poorly paid.
Perhaps my initial negative reaction to this st. blogger was tainted by a proprietary interest in the mediocrity of the blogosphere, in the "finally, a home for me!" sense. In a way professors are the aristocracy of the blog world since they do get paid for their ideas.Which is why I was surprised and impressed by how Bill Luse has underplayed his credentials. Sneaky, he is. Wouldn't want to play him in golf either.
Novelistic ambitions are hardly novel. Nor am I particularly well-suited for writing one. They require stories with people, and stories never interested me like ideas, and people? Well, people…people who need people…are the luckiest people in the world. That’s what I knew of people.
I liked the joy of words and the joy of ideas but not esoteric ideas. I knew nothing of philosophy so I couldn’t be an Iris Murdoch who was able to make books of only words and ideas but lacking flesh & blood.
The idea of writing a dime novel seemed beneath me, though if you can’t write the alternative how can the former be beneath you?
“I see dead people” goes the line from the Sixth Sense. Well, I like dead people. They are winsomely quiet, make no demands and there is no way for me to muck up my relationship with them. They are in a place where any negative thoughts I might harbor against them are forgiven instantly. There is such a sense of relaxation in a relationship frozen in time with only the ambering nostalgia making things appear better and better in retrospect. And I’m not nearly as bad as the character in TC Boyle’s “World’s End” who peppers his sandwiches with ancestral dirt.
A funny thing happened on my way to the woods. The on-going, life-changing event of religious conversion. This ate at the Thoreauian impulses; the purpose of life was not retirement, was not ease, was not travel. The purpose of life was what He says. And the goals are what He wants. Perhaps rejection of society was not what God ordered. And the bible is replete with instances where ones natural deficiencies are not to be taken as the final word.
Desperately Seeking Retirement