Wednesday, April 15, 2015...Bright Wednesday. Pascha has passed with all of its services. a return to ordinary time now. I already miss it. spent yesterday at the monastery with my favorite nuns. small procession around the house singing the Paschal Troparia. a nice easy lunch and laughter and conversation. cleaned the church this morning. all the doors of the iconastasis remain open. so much light. so much brightness. it was quiet and I swept and cleaned, trimmed oil lamps, and stood looking out the window at the grass. it is a silent heart. "O Lord I love the beauty of Thy house and the place where Thy Glory dwelleth." I am thinking of you this morning and how you are doing. my hope is that you are doing fine. the sun is out and there are birds next to my window. christ is risen.
Thursday, April 2, 2015...had my three year anniversary to the priesthood yesterday. three years an Orthodox priest. what have I learned? I have much to learn. I should keep my mouth shut more often. I despise opinions. I have opinions. I feel confused and angry. angry that I am confused. I pray more often but not for anything. "Lord have mercy." made the mistake of reading the news. still all bad. so much hate and shame and anger and ugliness. "How long, O Lord?" it is getting harder to have belief. to not just give in. have to set your mind, your heart. have to keep undistracted. have to see the Christ. the Christ, dead on a Cross. so many friends have fallen away. they spend Sundays making pancakes. feast days going on bike rides. the Fasts having picnics. reduction of life to just being nice and doing nice things and having nice times. "O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?" I guess I am not confused. just sad. we are on opposite shores and the continents are drifting apart. I can see you still and I can hear your voice. but I can't help you. I can't touch you. I can't help you. I can't help you.
Friday, February 13, 2015...put out the back porch furniture and bought a chimenea for my wife. valentines's day, you know. strange warm and then cold weather here in Texas this winter. will be seventy-six degrees today and then twenty-four degrees tomorrow. but the sun is shining. I am writing footnotes for all the new Luxury songs. enjoying it. thinking through where the words come from. watching all the influence meet. I tend to stay really busy to make myself feel useful but today is one of those days where I don't have much to do. or not much I want to do. write a homily. read a book. do a house blessing or two. priest stuff. I feel guilty. maybe I will do laundry and clean to chase away those feelings. give praise where praise is due, my friends.
Wednesday, December 31, 2014...a nice cold overcast day. outside my little window, the bird feeder which I fail to keep full most of the time is now full and all manner of birds are on it or under it. wonderful little creatures. the yard is clean. all the leaves are raked and the porches are swept. very satisfying feeling. it has been another year, good and bad, I suppose. mostly good for me. I have it easy, really. spend my days considering and working for the church. I clean the house. I write little homilies. my boys are mostly grown and mostly out of real need. I am sure they spend too much time playing games. raked leaves yesterday and they were eager to get it done. little connection with the out of doors. I enjoy walking around the yard, just admiring the order, considering what is to be done next. the rest of the world is too much with us. so, the new year begins shortly. If I remain, I imagine that it will pass much like the last one. little days of not much consequence. there is a small finch, black and white, on the feeder at this moment. he just sits there looking around. happy new year.
Monday, December 8, 2014...spent the day painting the new church. a historical home built in 1869. many nice trees. sat in the room upstairs for a bit looking out the window. what will we do now?
Monday, October 26, 2014...went afternoon shopping with my lady today. she loves the shopping. Christmas decorations up in many places. it was very warm and the wind was blowing. just finished reading the Salinger biography. he liked young girls, almost but not quite in a bad way. must be odd to have a stranger sum up your life in 600 pages. it is all a matter of interpretation. why did he write this? why did he like girls' feet so much? why the big wristwatch? all interpretation. read Esme again and saw it differently. and Catcher. and Franny. not sure what to read next. Luxury record is almost complete. mastering then production. overall I am satisfied. it has been a difficult birth. but the posters are really nice. the church is buying a property on Water Street. nice historical home. hope to start good memories there.
Tuesday, September 16, 2014...spent last evening at the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North America. a lot of bishops. I like our small town with its self-focus. not a lot of concern for what's going on out there. but we invite the out there in here and it becomes a chaos. they say social media makes you unhappy. I suppose it is true. so what makes a person happy? pleasant weather and a good story you've never read before. here's where the story ends.
Saturday, June 28,2014...so much spiritual writing just doesn't appeal to me. like a language I can't understand. seems so abstract and hollow. no ideas but in things. that's what always I come back to. being a priest means specializing in abstraction too often. talking and talking. so many people with problems and desiring solutions. but there is no change but radical change. and no one changes, not in the way we imagine. we always become more of who we are. and so I stop. "jug jug to dirty ears." I just want to talk and be savagely still.
Thursday, June 26, 2104...finished reading a Russian writer that I loved, Turgenev. his book Fathers and Sons was like a hybrid of Austin and Salinger. really enjoyed it. only part that made me cringe was when the author broke third person omniscient and spoke directly to me. hate that. now on to Gulag Archipelago for fun. summer in full swing here. liturgy this morning at the monastery. working this afternoon. thinking about the homily for Sunday concerning God and Mammon. who can speak about these things? Luxury record slowly getting finished. released the artwork this week and hope the recording will be finished by July. feel the need for a new kind of musical experience. different voices. different textures. but who cares really? and I mean that seriously. I expect that sometime in the future, it will be me who cares again. and then my wife will have to put up with it all over again. I think I'm in love.
Wednesday, April 30, 2014...it did move by so quickly. so very bored with world issues and problems and situations. I have no thoughts about any of it. or I start to think about it then I shut down. collapse really. the world is too much with us, indeed. building a small shed in my backyard in the spring weather. this makes me immensely happy. mowing grass and putting one's land into order is all the reward and consolation one needs. nothing to hurt. I wish you all soft days and easy nights.
Monday, March10, 2014…The Martyr Quadratus and those with him. Don’t know anything about St. Quadratus but I will learn. working at the Church this morning. sort of a quiet morning. mortgages moving ahead at the slowest pace possible. finished the first week of Great Lent. was a good week. I feel like this is going to move right by before I know it. trying to read through the Psalter. also reading The Silmarillion. and Sebald’s The Emigrants. having a hard time naming Luxury’s new record. many ideas but nothing that grabs me just yet. that whole thing just needs to get done. somewhat frustrating. a little disappointed in the process. Oh, I imagine it will be good. but what now? wearing my thick black sweater today. the sun is out and it will be warm.
Saturday, January 25,2014...Christmas came and went. and New Year. got into the studio early January. recorded ten songs for the new Luxury record. no idea if they are any good or not. haven't heard them yet really. some strange realizations about no matter how modern and current you think you are, when you make something, it tends to stay the same as it always was. we sound like we always did. wrote some good words though and maybe it will all be worthwhile in the end. I do love doing this. mortgage business is basically a wash. spent more than I made. but we trudge on. lot of sad priest news. people leaving the church to marry. people getting divorced. people addicted. heartbreak. life does not get any easier friends. GK Chesterton once said, "Dead things float with the stream; only living things can swim against it." Are we living? the wife and I feel like we have stood still while the whole world has taken a step in another direction. maybe forward, maybe back. who can say? the house is cozy this morning and she is asleep in our room.
Thursday, November 21, 2013...the Feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple. nice early morning liturgy at the monastery. never had nun friends before. pleasant sort of thing. just returned from a few days of working on music and with good results. starting to feel like we can be creative and interesting. I am so interested in religion and in music and in art. why do people feel the need to restrict themselves, to be one dimensional? perhaps it is easier. always a priest or always a nurse or always a mother. but who is always anything? always a Christian is the only always worth being. from last night's Old Testament readings, "for the glory of the Lord filled the temple of the Lord God Almighty." I stood at the altar and watched the incense fill the space. simple language and singing. the best sort of faith. wish you were there.
Tuesday, October 22, 2013...Sister Elizabeth died last week and was buried. long funeral service with Divine Liturgy. six priests. much rain. thought I should mention it. today is quite bright outside. easy temperature. really lovely. I am sitting in my little office on an uncomfortable chair working on loan applications, listening to quiet music, ruminating on the Gospels for Thursday and Sunday. the room is a nice shade of blue and I hung an unusual icon of the Theotokos printed on cardboard. hands and faces portrayed realistically, very Western. all else cartoonish with color blocks. I like it. finished working on a new tune called "Trophies" and it is pretty. not certain where to go next. fast song, slow song? a lot of words? few? writing is nice when it is complete. wearing a jacket today and my shoes are off. it is a very quiet room.
Saturday, October 19,2013...work, work, a little Church, and more work. writing and cleaning house. constant movement. no money. the story of my life. when I was younger I had a strong sense that something was going to work out. that I might just get what I wanted. that I might succeed. of course, that is all a matter of perspective. I have had success. more than others. but when I write a story I want it to be as good as Hemingway. when I write a song, I want to be as good as The Smiths. I don't try for anything less. and you're never going to write as well as Hemingway. you're never going to write as well as The Smiths. you always knew it but acceptance is hard to attain. everyday you must say, so how do I feel about my shoes? well I don't like them but they are all I have. where does faith fit into all of this? it fits in everywhere. something else you've always known but it takes a lifetime to understand. a lifetime and a priest. I just deleted a sentence I was going to write. that's honesty for you.
Monday, September 2, 2013...Who knows about July and August. spent a lot of time avoiding the heat. a lot of services here and with the nuns. writing and writing. finished demos of other songs for the supposed Luxury record. "The Gates of Paradise (Give Praise Where Praise Is Due)" is a good one. starting our kickstarter appeal soon to see if the funds can be raised. and I am back to mortgages, enjoying the work. sit all day in the small office at the Church. alone but not lonely. seeing more of my wife. she's a good gal.
Friday, June 28, 2013...I am a painfully slow songwriter. was reading on DM Stith's site that he finished writing thirty-three songs for two new records since January. they can't possibly all be great, one would think. I hope they are. summer time here and a good heat has set in. I flit from one air conditioned space to another. the news is all bad. there is a word in German I can't remember that describes it well. some sort of world pain and the general depression that sets in. must disconnect at times. finished working up a few new songs for a Luxury record that might happen. "Museums," "Words of Mouth," and "Un-Savage." they don't say much about what's happening in the world today. I think I have retreated. there's a poem I can't remember about a failed retreat. something like "Dulce Et Decorum Est" but not the same. the house is quiet this morning so I should write something that matters. like Holocaust.
Sunday, June 9, 2013...Collected a few old songs recently to release as a small recording called "Lark." these tunes have been hanging around for quite a while and I felt they should be set free. so, here's to freedom. still working on new tunes for Luxury. pretty happy with what has been written. it would be a shame if we don't end up recording them. driving to Florida tomorrow to vacation a bit. haven't been anywhere with the family in about a year. need a few books to take along. I like reading a novel called The Sea and Sardinia by D. H. Lawrence. it's a travelogue, hence the connection. maybe I will write instead. maybe I'll clap my hands. maybe I will set something on fire.
Monday, May 13, 2013...finished Great Lent, Holy Week, Pascha. now slipping back into ordinary time. good experience all around. have to start looking for other work to help the wife. she works incredibly hard, too hard. hoping to find something soon. spring in Texas has been magnificent and quite surprising. the weather has been cool and there are flowers everywhere. saw whole fields of poppies on my way to the monastery last week. and bluebonnets and some other yellow and red flower I don't know the name of. so surprised. reading a lot of Wendell Berry again. haven't been in a mood for him in a while. needed to hear about the simple life of small communities and farms. needed to walk the hills again with Burley Coulter and listen to Jayber's easy philosophies. trying to find a Russian I like. Chekhov may be the man. very funny and sad stories. read "The Bishop" again on Pascha. feels familiar to me. lovely story.I miss you all this time of year but it is neither sad nor funny, just sincere.
Tuesday, April 16, 2013...suppose I should say something. bombs in Boston yesterday. chaos and panic. no surprises anymore. "Then I said, 'Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.'"
Wednesday, March 27, 2013...first Presanctified Liturgy this evening at St. Nektarios. conducted my first ever at Holy Nativity Monastery last Friday with the three nuns. then we sat and talked for two hours about this and that. wonderful ladies. from Brazil and lived in Serbia and Canada or from Texas. so much living. Great Lent is upon us so that is what is on my mind. my sins are compelling. say your prayers and be kind. a feral cat has taken up with us since I fed him breakfast last week. we call her Roger the Girl. reminds me of being tamed like the fox in The Little Prince. they lay claim to you. really cool, bright blue sky today. so wonderful. anxious about the warmth of summer and how soon it will be here. but the sun shines through the new leaves in the trees behind the house and I stand at the warped glass window and look out at it. it rises with such strength and with a great slowness.
Saturday, March 16, 2013...very fond of getting outside early on a Saturday morning. certain quality to the light and the air, the people moving around. really living it seems to me. no threat of the day ending or darkness. today is the commemoration of all faithful monastics. no liturgy this morning where we are. tomorrow is forgiveness vespers and our turn toward Great Lent. this time of the year makes me nostalgic for seminary and the life there. being alone is hard. the songs we will sing speak about Adam at the gates of Paradise, weeping as he is shut out. lamenting the loss. weeping at the gates of Paradise. you must change your life.
Monday, March 11, 2013...Mother's birthday. Happy birthday Mother. I don't feel very good about myself today. that's not quite accurate. no control. I give consent and am lost. what is freedom? not being myself or at least the self I know. I would that I were made new. other things: had an old friend, Dr. Christopher Boss, spend the weekend here. enjoyable company with good talks. a true thinker. I don't like beer but had one just for the occasion. today the sun is intensely bright and the sky is too blue. my neighbor who died last year had planted furiously in her garden and the daffodils, irises, bluebonnets are all coming up. they carry on. had a nice weekend of services and talk. keeping that in mind. keeping that in mind.
Sunday, February 24, 2013...conflicted about a charitable act I am engaged in. the person in question just keeps asking for more. very needy person to begin with but I am not social services. what bothers me most is the nagging feeling that if I end this charity, I will have failed to live up to my esteemed beliefs. hypocrite. he was cold and I found him shelter. he was hungry and I fed him. he was sick and I bought him medicine and creams and lotions for all sorts of issues. but he doesn't get any warmer, he doesn't get less hungry, and he won't get well. it is easy to throw a few dollars at someone and watch them go away and feel satisfied with yourself. but if they don't go away, you just feel bad all the time. this is a silly way to spend an evening.
Friday, February 22, 2013...read again last night "Big Two-Hearted River: Parts I & II" which are my favorite Hemingway short stories. hadn't really noticed before all of the repetition of words like onion sandwich and again onion sandwich. clever way to pace a story. writing a lot of sermons these days, if one could call them that. feels like something that should improve with time. I always like to strip things down to the simplest form in words. make one point. shut up. that should be sufficient. had tickets to the Morrissey show this week in Dallas but it was canceled due to a bleeding ulcer or some such thing. my favorite quote by him recently was when an interviewer asked him if he was still thin and he said, "Yes, in a crowd of people. A crowd of very large people." getting older feels like such a tragedy but what is there to do but deny it. I grow old, I grow old, I shall wear the bottom of my trousers rolled.
Tuesday, February 19, 2013...going to be more consistent now. spending time at Holy Nativity Monastery these days to give Eucharist to one of the sisters facing end-stage cancer. such clarity is setting in for her. I want to hear what she has to say because there is little I can offer. it is a nice drive from here to the monastery. early spring and the grass is a shocking green. a particular stretch of road goes over a long low rise, the fields hemmed with red fencing and all the trees bare. I can imagine being in those trees and walking. not something I do very often but as I drive by, I see it. this afternoon, coming home, I slowed down and looked across the field. it stretches far back and falls behind the hills. I would like to see what is there. but I likely never will.
Tuesday, February 12, 2013...I wanted to say something but I neglected to do so. the winter in Texas is quite nice, equal parts cold air and sunshine, a little rain, and the threat of snow. the grass is starting to grow a bit. spent the last week in Atlanta with a dual purpose: playing some new Luxury songs and attending a clergy conference. hard to push those worlds together at times but we managed. three days, more of less, of loud music and then the quiet and simplicity of liturgical services. I have written and worked out five songs for what might be a new Luxury record, if it gets funded. "Parallel Love", "The War on Women", "Courage, Courage", "Don't Feel Bad If You Don't Feel Better Right Away", and "You Must Change Your Life". came together remarkably quickly. wrote these in more or less a month and hope to push on toward five or six more soon. writing mostly about memory and understanding of the past, the problems of repeating the past, etc. surprisingly, very little about faith so far or at least explicit faith and belief. this Sunday is the Sunday of Zacchaeus and then we move quickly toward Great Lent. the Pope announced he will resign this month, the first pontifical resignation in six hundred years, not that I am that concerned. keeping to the path, being faithful. that's what we are here for.
Sunday, December 9, 2012...at an antique store here in our town this week I found a great little section of books. lots of Russians and a few french. many years ago I bought a particular volume 2 of Anna Kerinina but never found volume 1 until this week. lovely seeing them together. had to choose between The Power and the Glory and Across the River and Into the Trees. Hemingway always wins. they say it may get cool here this evening. threatening to rain. sparse liturgy this morning but the prayers were robust. "take Him not from us, O Good One, but renew Him in us, who pray to Thee." that always gets me. I hope it always does.
Saturday, December 1, 2012...warm and windy days this last month in Texas. the weather is uncertain of itself. sweetness has been sick in bed for the last four days and I have been writing. nothing good though. what is happening? just normal and mundane things. the routine. looking forward to Nativity and the cycle of services. our little choir sounds very nice. we'll keep it dark inside with lots of candles. nativity fast is happening and people tell me about eating bacon. not sure why. I have been stuck on poetry lately. finding original recordings of poets reading their own works. favorite is T.S. Eliot reading "The Journey of the Magi". I wonder how he got his accent. was American, no? "A cold coming we had of it, just the worst time of the year for a journey, and such a long journey". wonderful stuff. since 1987 I have been having the same dream. since 1987 I have been wearing the same thing.
Monday, October 22, 2012...just read back to last year's October mention and I just marvel at the speed of time. how do we stay in time? find myself again at the table in the kitchen but without the paper lantern. those all ended up in the attic. the weather began to become pleasant than betrayed us. a nice sudden rain today unexpected. stood on the back patio and listened to it beating on the metal roof. a lot of new things to get used to here in this town. trying to find my footing. my voice. I really enjoy being a priest, especially hearing confession. You never know what to say before you are there and though it seems strange, you are given the words to say. they come out and Christ is in the midst. it is the most real I have felt in a long time. thank God for our sacraments. they do sustain don't they? would you even know? I am writing songs again. working with the fellas on seeing if a new Luxury record is possible. sorting through a lot of ideas and desires but not very good words yet. for me, it is all about the language. I hope it comes together. I hope it means something. you just never know how these things will go. or at least, I never do. see you soon.
July 17, 2012, Tuesday...haven't sat and listened to any music for some time. I feel like it is slipping away from me. I pick up the guitar to play and nothing is there. hollowness. reached the end of my creativity. like coming to the end of the continent and seeing an ocean. so much more to see but no way to see it. life without a dinghy. I live in Texas now. priest in charge of a new mission, St. Nektarios Orthodox Mission. doing liturgies, speaking homilies, preparing the gifts. I want everything. I want to be able to do everything. I don't want limitation. endlessness. endlessness. endlessness. sitting at another table, under another paper lantern this evening. listing to music. "Spiegel im Spiegel" by Arvo Pärt, Octavius' "Glass Haus", The Caretaker's "An Empty Bliss Beyond This World". have you listened to Spiegel im Spiegel? how can you live without it? it says everything and everything and then everything.
April 12, 2012, Holy Thursday...just a note today and not in pencil. the week is getting on. deeper into the swelling tide of the Passion. tonight the twelve Gospels. was made a priest on April 1, the Sunday of St. Mary of Egypt. now I get to stand at the end of the line. it is all Church these days. and our future. waiting to see where we will end up to begin our life again. hard to think of leaving this place after three years. but there are resurrections to be made. and lives to be lived. the new leaves are turned upward to catch the warmth of the sun.
February 26, 2012, Sunday...first Sunday that I can remember not being at Divine Liturgy. wonderfully sick on Friday night. lost two and a half pounds. a whole day in bed watching movies and sleeping. not good films but entertaining. today is Cheesefare Sunday and Forgiveness Vespers. and then Lent. I passed my MDiv oral exams last week but felt unsatisfied with my answers to some of the questions. was asked things like, "why does God allow evil in the world?" "why do children get cancer?" nice questions like that. the only answer of course is "I don't know." there is no answer to the question why. there isn't a reason that everything happens despite what everybody thinks and says. that's pop philosophy. not very useful. we lost Pops last week at the age of ninety-four. one of the best men I ever knew. and we are lessened by it. but on this very sunny Sunday morning I still have hope. and I saw in the news that Archbishop Rowan Williams held a debate with acclaimed atheist Stephen Dawkings. I served that man tea here at the seminary. Williams not Dawkings. funny small world.
January 30, 2012, Monday...I try to care for three plants in my house - a Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum), a Gerber Daisy (Gerbera), and a common cactus. they require a lot of attention. except perhaps the cactus. it may be dead but it remains green and so I remain ignorant. didn't imagine that I could sustain plant life for very long. the Spathiphyllum was given to my wife after her grandmother Doris fell asleep in the Lord last year. I intend to keep it living. I like having plants in our home. they comfort us. the winter has been very mild. only one snow storm to speak of. lots of sunshine. and the semester has been moving along as well. graduation in sight. anticipating priestly ordination in the spring. had two hierarchal liturgies this weekend with two diaconal ordinations. Asher had wax from the Trikeri spill on his head. took it like a champ. twenty-four clergy for communion. crowded but the singing of the Trisagion was just wonderful. I was going to say lovely but I find I use that word too often. so it's a new year and many new and exciting changes are coming. no idea where we will be in July. but that is too far ahead. give us this day our daily bread.
Thursday, 22 December, 2011...first week of Christmas break has passed. just a daze of activity. seems like we are being set up and knocked down again and again. it's really too boring to even mention. really flatlined right now concerning writing music. it bothers me. I can't relax. I don't recreate very well. two weeks still left. perhaps a flurry of inspiration will strike and something magical will happen. not really reading anything interesting right now. not really listening to anything interesting either. these periods of agitated boredom do not impress me. by the way, it appears that scientist have determined the Shroud of Turin was made by a burst of ultraviolet light. that just makes me smile. went to the Natural History Museum some weeks ago. listened to the presentation on evolution in the great sphere. the narrator said after the Big Bang everything was light. this physical, material light. great theological implications for that. but we'll keep that to ourselves.everything was light and light and light.
Sunday, 18 December, 2011...time does get away from us, doesn't it. sitting here this afternoon listening to songs by A Winged Victory for the Sullen. sun is sort of thin and watery. cold breeze across the lake. approaching the end of my time at seminary. it has been good. some of the best times of my life. though I don't have many close friends, never have, I feel connected to this place. perhaps my life of wandering still makes me want to put down roots. and why not here? I feel the profound sting of sin and it is not simply doing bad things but being divided between what I want to be and what I am. somehow, being here makes me more aware of this. when I am set adrift, what will happen? probably more of the same. read the genealogy of Christ today at liturgy. it is full of broken people. my namesake is a good example of this. he saw a woman bathing on a roof and had her husband killed. a man after God's own heart. it is always upside down, you know. getting to know this more and more. if you figure it out, let me know. I am here by the window listening to the piano.
Monday, 10 October, 2011...woke up wanting to hear "Unchained Melody" by The Righteous Brothers. what a wonderful song. was everything more simple years ago or was the chaos just more hidden? I don't know. nice Matins service this morning. tomorrow, the Hawaiian Myrrh-streaming Iveron icon of the Theotokos will be here. these things are always curious for me. perhaps they do more damage than good. perhaps not. writing homilies this week. school with the boys. working on a song called "You Must Change Your Life". a title taken from Rilke's poem "Archaic Torso of Apollo". lovely thing. other than that, the coffers are rather empty. I must change my life.
Thursday, 6 October, 2011...lovely time of year. cool mornings and evenings. windows open. busy with seminary life. no time to think about music or art or anything else really. lots of serving in Church, some reading. haven't had a lot of inspiration really. went with the wife to see Erasure last week. old men. great performers though. strange crowd of people our age. didn't buy the shirt. but New York City in the fall is really lovely. the evenings walking around the city, when we get to, are what you think they might be. there's not much else really. just that.
Sunday, 21 August, 2011...time is short. back to the old routine next week. classes, services, library. happy that I could get a few things done like I intended to. not sure that it really even matters. did it ever? had the first inkling this week that I am now out of touch, that what I do is not what people are interested in. was a strange realization. but it was okay. strong thunderstorms this afternoon, dark skies and fat heavy rain. really lovely for a Sunday afternoon. can't say enough about Steinbeck's The Pastures of Heaven. made me very happy to read it. put out my latest songs this week. I wrote Queer Logic after New York passed it's new law allowing for same-sex marriage. like most things, it just makes me curious, like something that I am unable to understand. not interested in arguing. it is whatever it is. the bit I happen to like says "nothing mine is yours, and nothing yours is mine". maybe it shouldn't be so simple, maybe it shouldn't matter. but there you have it.
Friday, 12 August, 2011...beautiful morning. deep blue skies. sitting here listening to The Caretaker's An Empty Bliss Beyond This World. not happy with myself. clean on the outside, like a whitewashed tomb. will read the Gospel and hope for better. classes begin in a couple weeks and I am looking forward to the routine. idleness does not suit me. have tried to keep busy with music with some success. am working on the next two songs I want to release in September. they are called Queer Logic and Jardim Gramacho. why give up now? reading a few books. working through Steinbeck's novels and stories. now on The Pastures of Heaven. lovely stories about life and death. but aren't most lovely stories about life and death?
Thursday, 28 July, 2011...thinking about the future this morning. not sure where I will end up after May of next year. strangely not worried about it. will likely be ordained to the priesthood and sent off to work in a parish. eager for the work. for something meaningful. spent so long trying to get here and be a student. it goes by quickly. I have four more weeks of summer before classes start. lots of ambition between now and then. releasing two new songs next week called The Secret's Always Safe With Me and Soft Sins. working on the following two as well. trying to sustain the momentum. would like to put all of these together at some point and release a physical product. I miss holding the thing and the look of it. the smell of it. perhaps. give us a a sign dear.
Saturday, 23 July, 2011...the days are slipping by. lot of traveling lately. went to Canada on a cruise with the family. not the best experience. heard it described as Babylon on water and that is fairly close. the weather was cold and rainy which I didn't mind. kept being told to have fun, have fun, have fun. eat and drink and have fun. I didn't. ruined it for the rest of the family I am afraid. then to Florida for a funeral and unexpected family gathering. enjoyed the family part. the boys were off for two weeks with the grandparents and the wife and I went to Newport, Rhode Island. toured the summer cottages of the Vanderbilts and others. lots of marble and leather wall paper and platinum wood, gold embossed everything. so decadent it is hard to form an opinion. so unreal to people like us. lovely views of the Atlantic, waves breaking on the rocks. then on to Block Island for two days. rode a moped with wife and felt in danger of dying. enjoyed it thoroughly. ate a lot of good food. had the unusual sensation of growing old, seeing the future without the kids around and having to just be husband and wife again. think it will turn out fine. and doing music. released two songs called Giftmouth and It's Too Late and the Moment Is Gone in July. have two more ready for August. doing art work of a sort, really interesting to me at least. and reading, reading, reading. summer moves quickly and I will be back in classes before long. will have to stop indulging myself. but all is well. incredibly hot here today. no relief. we think of the snow and cold wind and can't remember it being so bad.
Saturday, 28 May, 2011...summer is here, classes finished. still finishing hours at the hospital. turning my attention to other things. traveling a little this summer, to St. John's in Canada and then to the coast and some beach town in July. taking a stack of books and a pair of shorts and a good appetite. was ordained to the Holy Deaconate last Sunday, the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman. a fairly significant event in life. now Deacon David. people offered congratulations and there was a nice meal afterwards. Deacon Gregory took wonderful pictures. now comes the difficult part of integration, putting together all of these sides into one person. at least I know what I'll wear.
Thursday, 12 May, 2011...Here is a little interview I did for a fellow named Kurt. Maybe it's interesting. Maybe not. Welcome to Flavor Country other than that, business as usual. finishing finals and hospital hours. writing lyrics and throwing them away. talking about more records for real. being ordained to the deaconate next week. canonical confession and such things. beautiful bright blue days and cool starry nights. better run for your life.
Saturday, 30 April, 2011...Bright Saturday. went through Holy Week and Pascha and slipped into Bright Week with more visits to the hospital. strange transition from the endless services and the chapel and the darkness to what we call normal life. haven't read a Gospel since Sunday. been writing a lot, re-writing lyrics, trying to get it right. it's always a question of what to say and what not to say. I was going to use the word "fag" in a song but thought I shouldn't. not sure if I am convinced about these limitations. if I am ordained in the near future it will change things. I won't be just me. but then again, I have seen some dreadful people that have had the apostolic hands laid on them. they've held the lamb over the Holy Table. we've eaten well this week. some nice sparkling pinot noir at Pascha, a shot of Grey Goose, Pascha cheese, some hard breads and rank cheeses. went to Manhattan yesterday with the family. a nice clear blue day, cool but warm. pizza in a little shop off 46th and 10th Avenue. there was a woman wearing a flight attendant outfit handing out playbills. it was nice blue color, short skirt, and a paisley kerchief tied at the neck. she was wide eyed and had her hair pulled into a tight knot under a small blue hat. nice long legs. I didn't take the playbill but I did say "no thanks".
Sunday, 17 April, 2011...the Feast of Palms. beginning of Holy Week. around here, we really slip out of the time of this world during Holy Week. in services every day for nearly five or six hours. concerted effort. I look at the news and suddenly remember that not everyone is doing this. some folks are just going to Five Guys for a burger or the beach or kayaking. no sense that this week is any different. I spent three hours yesterday between services cleaning out the sacristy. rearranging, sweeping, organizing. so pleasing to me. found an old suitcase in the back of the closet. had a strange collection of pectoral crosses, reliquaries, newspaper articles in Russian, icons, and soviet-era Church awards. a little treasure chest. I closed it up and put it back. it will probably still be there twenty yeas from now when some young seminarian pulls it and opens it up. it rained heavily most of the day and into the night. Judah sang a solo after liturgy. it was sweet and pure and very lovely. so much talent in one person. Asher wore a nice blazer with jeans. he's always hated jeans.
Tuesday, 5, April, 2011...so eager to keep writing. last few months have been a bit overwhelming what with classes, CPE program at St. John's Riverside, Great Lent services, wife, children, et al. I spend a lot of time talking to patients these days. having a little anxiety about old age and death. not so much death really but the breaking down of my body. it looks inescapable. should eat more vegetables and take a walk now and then. but I am eager to write music especially. excited about a few new songs I have just finished recording. I'd like to get a full-length together this year. finished recording the songs Giftmouth, Soft Sins, and The Secret's Always Safe With Me. trying my best to be lively and these come close. must be patient and get the rest together. working on one tonight called Queer Logic and it sounds promising. my brother Jamey was ordained to the Deaconate several weeks ago. the Deacon James now. I hope to follow before too long if our hierarchs can manage to pull themselves together. Great Lent has been not unusual. familiar sins and familiar repentance. will make confession tonight in the dark chapel. the days are getting longer and the weather is warming a little. was nice to hear the children playing outside today through my open window. one day leads to another and then another.
Sunday, 2 January, 2011...can't stop listening to Teen Dream by Beach House. keeps coming back over and over this (last) year. can't understand exactly why. good tunes. her voice is something. I don't go in for too many chick singers but she is wonderful. in between semesters right now and writing songs or at least trying to. there is always a lot more desire than output. going to Kansas City to see the family this week. should be a pleasant visit. I don't know that I see us ending up back there when we are finished with school. New York has gotten our attention. New Year's was quiet. had a robust cold and the wife was working. we spoke at midnight as we do each year. the boys were a little disappointed. just watched movies and ate treats until midnight. no funny hats or horns to blow. I am sure your life is all excitement and intrigue. I am sure it is.
Wednesday, 29 December, 2010...read "The Grand Inquisitor" late last night from The Brothers Karamazov. words, words, words. certainly it is a great beauty but not my taste. had a great snow storm on Sunday. mighty winds and darkness and snow. was frightening in some ways. then a wonderful bright sun. the boys have been out in it. the campus is mostly quiet these days, just a few hangers-on. I like these times the best. saw something about two gay men adopting twins this week. all this gay culture is getting really boring to me. what does it really have to do with anything. everyone is either for or against it. I feel outside of the whole thing. and really bored. it's like someone constantly telling you that black is white and because they say it often enough and with enough conviction, you find yourself nodding. God help the bored, darling. my wife and oldest son are watching Emma and she is knitting a cowl. Asher is reading a book. this is what interests me.
Sunday, 19 December, 2010...semester has ended and things have come to a dead stop. always such a strange thing. you live for these breaks but when they come you realize that inactivity is not natural and it is better to keep busy. slaves to the grave. have high hopes of doing some song writing during the next few weeks. we will see how things go. I was thinking about last Christmas and the time we spent in Margaretville, walking along the river and through the quiet town. it was really lovely. spending this year at the seminary and going through all the services. this week is the winter solstice with a full moon and a lunar eclipse. used to look at these types of events supernaturally, expecting something big to happen. I realize now that something is happening. as we say, joy has come into all the world. I feel sorry for those who are still lost. how can love bear it? we will spend the week turning toward nativity and all that it means. the darkest day in 456 years is Tuesday. what a wonderful thought. it is cold outside and the lake is frozen. the boys like to throw their apple cores onto it and watch them slide across. there are many white birds.
Wednesday, 10 November, 2010...jealousy is a funny thing. how do I do what I do without reference to another, without comparison? nearly impossible. know that whatever it is only has a brief moment for life, to breathe. then it falls away. that is what this need to write songs is for me. but my little friends die so quickly. how to make them last? really working on words lately. something which not very many do so well. maybe Karen and David as well.the rest are mediocre. that makes me smile.
Saturday, 30 October, 2010...at vigil tonight thought about the Christ's harrowing of Sheol. trying to think it through a bit. it seems that it is a thing that comes at the end of time and not in the middle. that if Christ descended into Sheol it would not have been in the middle of time but only when death had swallowed up the entirety of us. and so we are there in some way already. and Christ has called us out and we hear his voice and follow him, but not all. it is as if it is all completed and now we are working it out, as it were. stood next to Archbishop Lazar in the altar. aging man so familiar with the words. it all makes me feel more comfortable somehow. it is very cold tonight and the wind is blowing across the lake.
Thursday, 28 October, 2010...somewhere between the Greek assignments, papers on the Gospel of John, Matins and Vespers, and other things, I have found a little time to record a new (old) song called "For This I Was Born And For This I Have Come Into The World". it has been around for some time but never found its legs, so to speak, until now. would like to do a series of "singles" but would also like to do a full record. maybe there will be time around Christmas. it has been very warm for late October in New York. puts people in a bad mood I think. expectation of cooler days with coats and scarves. my wife is in the city today with the boys. they will walk through Central Park and look at the changing leaves. I will sit in the classroom think about them.
Monday, 20 September, 2010...went to the city this weekend. spent some time in Chelsea and the Chelsea Flea Market on 25th Street. saw the Chelsea Hotel on 23rd and thought about Leonard Cohen and his wonderful words. wandered through the market with the boys and had to do some quick maneuvering around the adult magazines. saw a few icons strangely placed on the same table as the magazines. a strange mix of people, some friendly, some unfriendly, mostly disconnected from each other, suspicious. I wonder what good I can do for people like this. what do they want or need? what do I have to offer? I am suspicious of myself because I do not like them. it all seems so petty. the city is a wonderful place if you don't think about others too much. maybe it is more wonderful if you really think about others, the really unlikable ones. my children can't help but stare at the homeless man sleeping under the window of h&m on 42nd Street or the two gypsies in Grand Central exposing their breasts, doing their makeup, and reading tarot cards. the two muscular men holding hands at the Met. what do we have to offer? coming home on the train, I offered my seat to a woman who said thank you. my children read their books and my wife knitted a scarf. the girl on the seat opposite us had a false knee and she shared her ipod with the girl seated with her. the sky was a thin bright blue and it was perfectly mild. I am trying to be less suspicious of you.
Monday, 30 August, 2010...first day of class. back in the saddle as it were. quiet summer all around which passed slowly and then too quickly as they always do. I am looking forward to studying this fall. will have systematic theology focusing primarily on twentieth century theologians, Greek, the Gospels and Acts, and a missiology course. hoping to think about real issues. hoping to have a stance on some things. am also to be the assistant sacristan and will spend a lot of time in the altar. should be a benefit at some point. it's all very professional and academic. people are still making poor choices and have no use for the Gospel. perhaps I am learning something that will help others and not just myself. spent some time with Jamey last few weeks building a deck for Fr. Chad, the chancellor. turned out well. I'd like to think that it might last a while after we have left the seminary. that would be a nice thing to happen. the days are still hot and there is a hurricane in the forecast. and why not?
Saturday, 31 July, 2010...Gandhi once wrote, "Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it." a good shifting of emphasis. nearly August and the start of the semester is not far off. looking forward to the rhythm of daily services and classes. taking a family trip to Florida first and the beach. I have something in mind musically that I might try before things get going again for me. we will see. not thrilled about much that is going on but it is probably important on some level to keep at it. received a short letter from Brett today though I don't know him personally. encouraging words. enough to throw a switch in my head and put some new words to paper. drove the boys to Danbury Connecticut today to go to a small museum. they speak in fake accents almost constantly now. like driving around with two old men from old europe. that's entertainment.
Sunday, 25 July, 2010...it is interesting when the feeling, the desire to create something goes away. is it really enough to simply create for yourself? of course not. ego won't allow it. we must all be exhibitionists at heart. I wonder about someone like Emily Dickinson who wrote hundreds of poems that no one ever knew about. stuffed into cupboards and floorboards. all the great artists were disturbed. always will be. we've moved houses again. a bigger place with a nice view of the lake. spend most of the day straightening things up. moving furniture back and forth. feather duster in hand. I don't feel like recording any more songs. tired of the way I sound. don't grow old friends. boredom sets in and before you know it, you're wearing shorts like everyone else.
Tuesday, 22 June, 2010...stayed up very late last night watching Seraphine. what a wonderful French film. wasn't at all familiar with Seraphine Louis until I watched the film. put me in a great mood for painting. spent the day working with acrylics on a flowery mess of an image. like the colors and it looks fine from far away. certainly an "authentic" naive piece. been disappointed with music lately. doing a little painting to mend those feelings. low expectations. hanging them around the living room and the wife is being a good sport about it. good thing I am not interested in metallurgy.
Thursday, 17 June, 2010...out of routine. staying up very late and waking late. the lists I make every day are mostly empty. don't think man was meant to be idle. I've made some music this year which is what I have wanted to do but I am always disappointed by it ultimately. it's never what I wanted it to be. I always want to be surprised by it. and there is very little interest in it. that is another kind of disappointment, not so important. found a lady's bicycle here that no one seems to own so I have been riding it around campus. rode late last night just before the thunder storms. down the long hills with a lot of speed in the dark. reminds me of being a kid and riding my bike on the golf course at night in Florida. the great loneliness and solitude of it. going to take the boys around town today. spend some time in the book store and look at games and music. summer quietness. I miss the services that I have been so used to over the year. haven't read a gospel in a month. will work on that if I remember. I should remember.
Tuesday, 1 June, 2010...have made available my latest collection of songs. the Hidden Mansions ep can be found over at www.orientishisname.com if you have any interest. starting to find my feet.
Friday, 21 May, 2010...summer day here in New York. very warm. thinking about wearing actual shorts. some grades from the semester are coming in and all is well. a lot of folks are leaving for the summer. spent a little while talking with a friend that is going to St. Sergius in Paris to do his doctoral work. he offered a place to stay if we want to visit. a nice idea. helped set up the tent for commencement. Fr. Gerasim was there to help. there are a lot of adoring people around him. I am not surprised but I don't understand. the sun was very hot but the grass very nice and green. going to work on music a bit tonight. finishing up five songs for my next Orient Is His Name ep. everything is recorded but the mixes need a little work. I hope to have it released by next week. should be a nice summer. read an excerpt of Julius Caesar this morning with the boys. talked about Brutus and his betrayal. what a thing it is to betray or to be betrayed.
Tuesday, 11 May, 2010...last week of class, finals, papers, and the like. really enjoying the evenings here with the cool weather and the late light. like to open up the windows and doors and hear the sounds of the evening. don't like baseball necessarily but like to hear the sounds of people at the field by the Catholic Church. things are fine for me. my wife is sad sometimes because of her work. such darkness in people. but we keep on and expect that something will change. finished a paper on Dionysius the Areopagite and Mystical Theology. no idea if it is any good or not. satisfactory I imagine. he likes to transcend but I feel so much more oriented toward the ground. summer is coming shortly and I hope it is as enjoyable as I expect it to be. I see Fr. John's cat outside the window and there is a nice breeze blowing. shanti, shanti, shanti.
Sunday, 21 March, 2010...lovely spring day. warm in all the ways that are pleasant. seems like all of humanity is crawling out of their caves to enjoy a little sun. Sunday of St. Mary of Egypt today. two weeks until Pascha. looking forward to it. heard a few student homilies this week all about how difficult this time of the year is and how we are or should be sick of liturgy and each other. Fr. Theophan said he was not sick of me and I felt the same way. some of us love doing this work. or at least are not too put off by it. my biggest problem is boredom. had to make confession about that. didn't have to I suppose, but I did just the same. the boys are around campus somewhere and the sun is starting to set. the windows are open and that sound of children playing. you'll think of this again someday.
Thursday, 4 March, 2010...in class, not following well. the weather has been cold with much snow on the ground. many services in the chapel during Great Lent, not well attended most of the time. I served in the altar this morning and put too much incense in the censor, a great deal of smoke. as in the Old Testament, the house is full of smoke. had some good conversations with a young monk recently. mostly about sin and this life, sex and the like. giving a presentation on St. Therese of Lisieux this afternoon. what a strange girl, so hard to understand her. we often look for a life of consolation. she chose a life of literal suffering and doubt. who chooses such a thing? I hope to continue through Great Lent without getting too much inside my own head. like the Little Flower, I hope to be forgotten, but not just yet.
Tuesday, 2 February, 2010..liturgy this morning for the Entrance of the Lord into the Temple. Archbishop Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury was here over the weekend. served him coffee during brunch. he likes a little cream, no sugar. he gave a lecture on the Philokalia and the Contemplative life which was beyond me. interesting mix of people. some purple cassocks as well as chartreuse and all the black. a woman in a collar. it brought to mind the Frost poem about two roads diverging and the inability to ever go back. for my part, I will offer anyone coffee with or without cream and sugar.
I have set up a site for my work as All Things Bright and Beautiful which includes the record Love and Affection. as a companion piece, I am offering a new item called Demonstrations which is the original 4-Track recordings I did prior to recording with Andy. they are simply curious versions of some of the songs on Love and Affection that might be interesting. follow the link at the right to see these oddities if you like. raise high the roofbeams.
Saturday, 2 January, 2010...having a go at something new musically. I am planning on releasing several songs under the moniker Orient Is His Name as an attempt to liven up things for me. you can find them at http://orientishisname.bandcamp.com if you would like to download four free songs. I have plans on at least another four songs in the very near future. The site has lyrics and artwork as well which is always necessary. that should do it.
Friday, 1 January, 2010...simple New Years eve at the seminary. Molieben service in the chapel with good strong prayers about forgiveness of sins and mercy. a mental checkpoint to start over and do better and to love. a gathering at a friend's apartment afterwards. very noisy. drinks and food. a call to my wife at midnight as she was monitoring a patient about to deliver. we have been apart for the last several years on New Year's Eves and I always miss her. she is a good one to have in loud situations where I can't be heard. my interpreter. talked to some southerners about Flannery O'Connor and Eudora Welty and some northerners about Mount Athos and the gospels. mostly pleasant though I complained like everyone else. in the afternoon, before the service, I worked on my first art piece. a work in oil crayons on foam board. a still life of Chrysanthemums in grays and blacks. it was interesting and engaging and messy. cut out some passages from Revelation to tape to the board around the flowers but tore them off again. left a nice fragment. I wish I didn't care if it was any good or not. but I did care.
Thursday, 31 December, 2009...at times, I feel strange and irritated about things and I don't know why. emotionally, I have a reaction when I see someone looking particularly pious or when I hear someone talk about the civil new year as if it is not a reality. using the old calendar makes me feel the same way. and candles and the sign of the cross. it seems to be a sham sometimes. it is in me, so it must be in others. how often it is only a show. a pious fraud. if I had a knife, I would cut out that part of me so that I either loved people or hated them. it is loving people that you hate that causes all the ruin. such turmoil. and I would cut out a few other things for good measure.
Saturday, 26 December, 2009...Margaretville, New York with the wife's family. arrived on Christmas Eve in the cold and rain and very great darkness. the town is very remote and no chance of attending liturgy. it leaves me conflicted. presents in the morning and danishes and hot coffee. good surprises this year. in the afternoon, the boys and I walked through the small town to main street, across the plaza area which over looks the frozen creek. we saw only a few people and a cat or two. made our way through the park to the edge of the river and threw rocks at the great sheets of ice along the banks. the rocks were very round and smoothly worn by the river and they felt heavy in hand. there were ducks gathered at a distance and the mountain rose quickly from the opposite bank. it was cold and the light was failing before we left. no matter how loud we were, it was very still and quiet. at the gas station where we bought drinks, we said Merry Christmas to the old man and his wife who laughed loudly and waved with gusto. we could hear the sound of the river all along the street.
Wednesday, 23 December, 2009...reading again "The Garden of Eden" by Hemingway. not at all in the spirit of Christmas but completely escapist. good to sit and drink Perrier-Jouet and crack the hard shell of the egg. listen to the surf as it rushes the beaches at Grau du Roi. when I look up from the book it is cold and there is snow on the ground but the coffee is good, the children are laughing. I don't have anything to cross off my list today and am letting the time slip away carefully and without concern. tonight, in the dark cold, there will be vespers and little compline and the songs to the Theotokos which I am trying to get to know. and the time will pass away carefully and I will not be concerned or think too much about the garden.
Sunday, 20 December, 2009...good snow last night. up early shoveling in front of the chapel and along the sidewalks. great quiet all across the seminary and in the neighborhood. my mind wanders when it is quiet and I follow it sometimes, to see where it goes. not usually anything worthwhile, only rarely. played with my children in the afternoon, after liturgy and thought about my own childhood. sledding and snowball fights and much laughter. the house is quiet tonight and I am thinking about my wife. somewhere inside, when I am not distracted I feel a great longing, a reaching out toward her. an inexplicable thing. it is a gift to love. I see all of our life around me and want to shore it up against trouble, against ruin, and endings. save it from darkness. fill it with light. the train rides in the city, small talk, the tree and the photograph, ice skaters and the hard coldness and a familiar and most loved face. the most loved face.
~Monday, 2 November, 2009...same old questions. I read a lot these days and stand in church just as often. at seminary, the stress is on routine and balance. they give you more than you can fit into your routine or balance and see how you fare. surprising myself at how I handle the work load. spent Sunday after liturgy reading Meltio of Sardis from the second century and tried to understand rhetoric of the Sophists. not something I have thought about too much. my wife works nights and tries to get the balance right herself. matins every morning, vespers every evening. this is a long way from the cubicle in Kansas and the bank and the numbers. I hope I have my eyes open. they have been closed for a long time. a long, long time.
~Saturday, 22 August, 2009...New York and the hot weather. we arrived to settle in at the new apartment and are waiting for the start of the semester. new chapters and all that stuff. change in the way I think of myself. the people here are mostly lovely folks. a lot of the same types. had coffee with one of the professors and he encouraged me to continue on with the music, continue writing and all that. so I will I suppose. picked up the guitar and put a few lines down on paper about crown jewels. not sure where it will go from there. looking forward to cooler weather this fall and all the reading. miss my father and mother. they are across the country today.
~Thursday, 4 June, 2009..."the squalor of the mind" a great line from the old man. saw the otolaryngologist yesterday. had my throat scoped. have some sort of hyperfunctional disorder which basically means I can't produce volume or clarity because my throat is restricted. the devil's hands as it were. speech therapy should help. maybe I will be able to really sing again someday. been reading in the gospels about persistence and people asking Christ for help. the blind man, the woman. asking and hoping but still doubting and not expecting. when does acceptance of things become comfort with faithlessness? I don't know. I do know my children are smart and funny and have big generous hearts and are joy for me. played foursquare in the driveway last evening. made up names for our trick shots: Running Rainbow, Bleeding Faces, Oscillation, The Hangman, Pregnant Lady, Birth. they laughed and I laughed. it was dark when we came inside and found that the lights were still off.
~Tuesday, 2 June, 2009...a miserable month has past. not miserable in the real sense of the word with true sorrow and tragedy, but miserable none-the-less. thirty days left at my job before I am shown the door. moving to New York in sixty and then starts seminary life. it will be a fundamental change, moving from the life of business to the business of life. I see all the time the true incompatibility of the spiritual life with the pursuit of this world. just finished reading the synoptic gospels and started comparison reading in the Gospel of John. what foolishness God has chosen to reveal Himself with. just a few pages. His ways are not our ways. had a small bonfire with the boys last night. very warm and smokey and not entirely successful but the kids always enjoy it. talked to Andy about some new songs. he did a mix of a new tune called Mea Culpa and it sounds just fine. the plan is to get five songs really done by this fall and make it a digital ep. I have heard of these things before but this seems like it might happen. listening a lot to Grizzley Bear's Veckatimest and it is very enjoyable. working on Greek verb conjugation as a preemptive measure. there are good strong thunderstorms coming in this afternoon. should be a nice evening to watch the rain and listen to thunder. should be a nice evening.
~Tuesday, 5 May, 2009...my desk is on the fifth floor of a large office building facing south in the southeast corner of Kansas City. the window I look out of each day overlooks a large graveyard with many trees and I am able to see each time a funeral procession begins. it never makes me unhappy though I don't take any delight in it. there is a long tradition of people keeping a skull on their desk as a reminder of mortality. I think of this view in the same way. been sitting in my car during lunch reading through the epistles, the apocalypse, and now the Gospels. watched a bird parade along the concrete wall with an insect in its beak and asked God for a better voice. asked Great Martyr Irene and New Martyr Ephraim to ask God on my behalf for a better voice. the usual reply so far. my wife and I have been talking about what seems to be a fascination with Protestants we know in Jewish customs. heard a lot of talk about Seder meals and wishing people Happy Passover during Lent and Pascha. seems a strange fascination to me. Christians dabbling in Judaism. and what of our own traditions, established by the apostles, developed by the Church, inspired and fulfilled by the Great Paraclete? new wine for new wineskins. I have had to develop a quick answer for people wondering what Orthodoxy is when I tell them I am going to seminary in the fall. my dentist, who is a Mormon, gave me a magazine in response to help me understand that a new testament was made. I had nothing to give him. today I will sit here at my desk and watch the funeral, the interment, the long black cars. the trees have filled out nicely this spring and the clouds are high and thin. it looks like rain is coming.
~Friday, 17 April, 2009...Great and Holy Friday. not at work today. will spend it quietly at home. my wife works at night and will sleep most of the day today. I like being home alone while she sleeps. like the stillness of everything. Holy Friday vespers this afternoon and matins this evening. the boys and I will serve. thought a lot about tears of repentance last night after my children were sleeping. I am not an emotional person and on these occasions I always wonder if I really know what is happening. if I really believe in Christ as a person, as a man, his great and horrible sufferings and his love, unimaginable love, for us. there is a difference between thinking about something and knowing it, personally experiencing it. "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" I still am so far from understanding it and maybe that is the point. it is only by love that we can know. I will spend the day quietly and try not to think too much about it. and tonight, "The Noble Joseph, when he had taken down Thy most pure body from the tree, wrapped it in fine linen and anointed it with spices, and placed it in a new tomb."
~Sunday, 12 April, 2009...Palm Sunday by our reckoning. Easter by the West. my oldest son sang in the choir this morning and my youngest served as acolyte. I enjoyed watching them in the liturgy and had the first understanding of what separation will someday happen. thought about Lazarus today after liturgy yesterday and what his Sunday must have been like after having been dead for four days. I imagine he would have been fairly quiet. the thing is he knew Christ, he was friends with him and he knew what he was capable of doing. his sisters even told Christ Himself that if He had been there, their brother would not have died. but he died and God let him. and it wasn't about Lazarus at that point but about something far greater. people think this Christian life is all about not having sex before you're married and not getting drunk on the weekends or using dirty language. but God wants to kill you, maybe literally. lambs for the slaughter. like His son.
~Friday, 3 April, 2009...Sunday of St. Mary of Egypt this week. Lent is nearing the end. was able to read The Arena, The Way of a Pilgrim, selections from the Philokalia, and a little of Camus' The Fall. have started to learn more about Chopin, Schumann, and Debussy and their piano sonatas. very satisfying. was accepted (officially) to attend St. Vladimir's this fall so we are beginning to think about packing. lost my job also but it seems providential and not just funny. was thinking today about the fact that no one really writes letters the way they are written in the epistles. Our priests and Bishops don't speak to us that way. wondered if there is a way to do such a thing. if it is even appropriate. I have tried to understand the practice of prayer this year. tried to actually practice it. the Jesus Prayer is very difficult to do with any sort of consistency and attention. when you try such a thing you quickly realize just how schizophrenic you are and the fact that you have no discipline or inner peace. and you understand that you really don't love God and that you really only love yourself. in the Garden, Christ asked his disciples to watch with Him. it is never easy. watch with me.
~Sunday, 1 February, 2009...Sunday of Zacchaeus and only four weeks until the start of Lent. always good to come back to this time and turn away from the wreck of this world. spent the day in the woods yesterday with my father. he hunts rabbits. walked for several hours through thickets and fields and woods and was mostly quiet. he is getting older but I still am impressed by his strength. he has lost that fire he used to have that was so dangerous and harmful and good and useful. I will never be that kind of man. my wife has gone to Florida to visit her grandmother who is not well. spend the evenings reading Camus' Exile and the Kingdom or working on a new song or trying to write a story I have had in mind for a while. I discovered that I am the tortoise in this life. but Zacchaues was a wee little man, or so I heard it said.
~Thursday, 1 January, 2009...of course it was New Year's Eve last night. went to liturgy with the boys. sang as well as I could. the anaphora read during St. Basil's liturgy is pure poetry. all of the service is an art piece. my boys fidget and sometimes mess around but they are genuinely good. drank some champagne and drove home after midnight. read a book about Father Arseny and his life as a political prisoner in Soviet Russia. the horrors that some people have had to endure are overwhelming. I laid under my feather comforter in the warmth of my room and read until very late. been working on a couple of new songs but I feel a change in how I want to write, a different language I want to use. I must be the most tedious person in the world. happy new year.
~Wednesday, 24 December, 2008...feast of the nativity tomorrow. liturgy tonight. I don't feel so bad today. worked until lunch but my heart wasn't in it. it is cold today with snow on top of ice but it is bright and the sun is warm from the windows. played a little mahjong while the kids ran around the yard. the fireplace is on. read the scriptures for today; the old testament, epistles, and the gospels. nobody really believes what they say. if we did, things would be different. we would be different. I acted poorly at the office this week, not like Christ. you can't undo the things that are done and you can't change someone's mind once it is made up. there are only a few people in my life, not the whole world, and God has given them to me to help if I can. I will remember them during the litanies tonight. I will remember you wherever you are and whatever you are doing.
~Sunday, December 14, 2008...went to liturgy this morning. it was breezy and warm when we left the house but really cold after liturgy. worked on a new song this week that I am calling "Stationery" and it has a nice feeling to it. just trying to put some words together that work. I suppose it is a love song though I don't know exactly what that means. when you are with the same person for sixteen years, that idea changes and you can't just call it love. it's too heavy. I wonder often why my wife loves me. the old things that brought us together are still there but buried beneath layers and layers, branches and branches of blossoming. there are no good images in this world of middle marriage. we long for young infatuation and we find old people in love adorable. in the middle, it is a wasteland. I wonder how things will change for us. it is a quiet afternoon. my wife is asleep upstairs.
~Saturday, November 22, 2008...the boys and I have a habit of getting donuts from Lamar's on Saturday mornings. there is never any sadness in a donut shop and everyone looks excited and happy to be there. bought two donuts each, Ray's famous double chocolate, a Bizmark, and Devil's Food. my mind wanders sometimes. have high hopes that my boys will have great joy in their lives. Asher asked me if I preferred Christmas or Pascha. he likes both but for different reasons. simple hearts and good and full of love.
~Friday, November 14, 2008...a small icon of "extreme humility" is on our wall in the corner. I look at it sometimes and try to understand. it says a great amount about the humility of Christ, especially in death. I am so much not like Him. read back through some of these posts tonight. used to talk a lot about other things but now it is mostly only life and death. I feel bad for the people around me all the time. took my children to a school singing last night. they sang Thanksgiving songs about food and country. lots of parents and children. I sat off to the side and could look across the whole room. a room full of people that believe all different things, act in all different sorts of ways. is it possible to love all those people? is it possible to not make any judgments but to be completely self-less and open? sat with my arms and legs crossed which I hear is a sign of being closed. watched people's eyes watching other people. at midnight I stood in front of the icons and said the trinity prayers, the Our Father, asked God to help me, to help me, and to help me. it's almost midnight again.
~Thursday, November 13, 2008...thought more about the idea of communion with death. sat in my cubicle today and listened in one ear to our new metropolitan +Jonah speak about his vision for the future of Orthodoxy in America and in the other to my colleagues talk about sex. had the sudden realization that this was my life and a perfect example of the choice between a communion with life or with death. one leads to joy and one leads to appeasement. one to wakefulness and one to unreality. there are names for things that I did not know had names. how did Christ live in this world? what did He talk about? I don't want to be distracted from it or run away from it. rather accept it as Christ and receive it as Eucharist. I am sitting at my kitchen table this evening under the red paper lantern and I still hear both voices. I need to learn something, but first, how to love.
~Wednesday, November 12, 2008...just like I thought it would happen, the leaves have all turned colors and have fallen quickly. been wet and raining and feels like late fall. this world seems to be dying all the time. read some of Schmemman today and he mentioned our eating as being a communion with death. I was in New York last week and have been walking around in a fog since coming home. feel like I am constantly on the verge of seeing something clearly but then it moves or I move and it fades again. being at the seminary in New York gave me a taste for a different life, one that I desire. and it frightened me. I don't want to commune death any longer. I don't want to be dead myself. the fog is thick and if it ends, it ends where the mountains begin.
~Tuesday, October 14, 2008...a friend offered to create a legitimate blog for me but I don't think I will. I don't like the comment option where people can reply to something I've written. there is too much opinion and commenting going on as far as I am concerned. and it's not even conversation. it is rather like finding a person's diary and scribbling in the margins. comments should be limited to discussing the weather. today is cold and overcast and damp. we had rain and wind and the leaves are starting to come off the branches. It will be dark early tonight. I hope the skies are blue wherever you are.
~Friday, October 3, 2008...I resist magic of any kind. it is a sham and religion is full of it. fake spirituality and superstition. I favor the idea of ultimate reality with all of its darkness and suffering. I favor the idea that Christ's taking on of flesh and being tempted, and suffering, and dying was not so that we could magically escape our reality but so that our reality of temptation and suffering and dying would not be meaningless. every part of my day today from my anger while driving to work, my boredom, my prayers at lunch, the condescending attitude and my helpful words, my jealousy, my pride, every bit of the day can be filled with this knowledge. I tend to only do that in retrospect. my heart is full of darkness and it is a long way home.
~Saturday, September 20, 2008...afternoon. nice day with the warm southern breezes. house is quiet now and in order. have done a lot of things this week that needed doing. finished eight demos of songs that have been hanging around for a while and sent them to Andy. they may get some attention and an actual release. I like the idea of a singles series with two songs at a time. feels like you are actually doing something. less like a whole album and more disjointed. I like the words I wrote and can mostly sing the tunes. renewed the license plates last week like a good citizen. had a physical for my application to St. Vladimir's and it appears I will survive for a while longer bar any tragedy. read the books of Joshua, Judges, and Isaiah. thought about interpretation. started working on learning the Greek alphabet. heard a few poor jokes at work and sold a number of mortgages. thought about the fact that Christ was an actual human being and not just pretending. His humility carried over even into the grave, spending three days in Sheol. Christ had to ascend in order to send the Comforter to enable us to become like Christ.
I really like the works of Hemingway and wonder often about the morning he placed a shotgun to his forehead and closed his eyes.
~Monday, September 1, 2008...the beginning of the new liturgical year in the church. sang in the choir yesterday for liturgy. my voice seems ruined at this point. can't sustain it for very long and afterwards, speaking is hopeless. the only way I can be heard is if I am all alone with someone in a quiet room. so I wander around or stand outside and watch the kids run around in their Sunday clothes. coming down from the liturgy is strange to me. it takes a great effort to make the climb, the ascension, and to fulfill it all in the receiving of the Eucharist. and suddenly it is finished and people begin to talk about the weather and football. we slip away so easily into this world. put ourselves back under the earth to lie asleep. is it possible to remain in the light, to have that light surround us even when we are not formally doing the work of the liturgy? but then what would we talk about? what is there to talk about when you really have that joy filling you? all the erotic language of the old testament comes to mind, being the lover of God, the delight of the consummation with God, the contentment and rest in the bosom. the Christian has to always reconcile himself to this world, has to constantly turn away from it, has to force his mind into a new way of thinking. and turning back to the world, we see everything interpreted in the light that we have received. we see everything as it is and as it could be. I am going to St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary next year. it is the taming of wild horses we are after.
~Sunday, August 10, 2008...the Olympics are very interesting to me. despite all of the nationalism which can be so troublesome, I get weepy when I watch. inexplicably weepy. my wife and I sat eating cookies tonight and watched the gymnasts and the swimmers. I need to go for a run tomorrow and wear some bright colors.
~Sunday, August 3, 2008...many things have happened over the last months and at the same time, things are essentially the same. measuring out your life by way of periodic comments helps you slow down a bit. been working on demos of new songs though I don't really know why yet. they may never get done. I feel like I am waiting for something. finished a cover version of a song called "China" for the soundtrack to Awake My Soul. should be a good collection as soundtracks go. some notable names and nice songs as well. that put me in the mood to record again but it hasn't inspired my writing. I have hit some sort of lyrical wall. been thinking a lot about the meaning of art in life. talked with Fr. Christopher for a little bit about it yesterday. I am against the idea that art has any intrinsic value in itself. if anything, it is just another vain pursuit. if there is any meaning in it, it will be found in its relation to God and Christ in particular. and that's the rub; how do we find meaning in something that is meaningless without degrading the only thing that can give it any meaning? it can't be both sacred and secular simultaneously. must be one or the other but the choice is obvious. I just don't have the language to say anything meaningful so I keeping writing the same thing over and over, "Even so, Lord come." It's a good saying and I don't grow tired of it. pages of it now. the Christian life is difficult. we can't hold on to anything ever.
the days are very hot and the nights as well. people have been losing their jobs where I work but I am still there. my wife works at nights and we don't see much of each other. but I look up and there are a lot of people that I love and I think of them and I think of them often. even so, Lord come.
~Sunday, June 1, 2008...the month of May was quiet. many small things happened which all add up to a great nothingness. the only real impression on me was the weather. a wonderful spring month with bright blue skies and cool breezes. the sun is just becoming hot and all the leaves are out. I cut the grass regularly and like to stand on my porch after it is all finished and look at the lines. making some order in an unruly world. at work, I hear a lot of vulgar language. I think about the fact that the people I am with, though I am very fond of them, have very little in common with me. there is no eschatological dimension to any of their thinking. they live their lives looking entirely at the ground. "Look up, look up, you'll see the sky." still have a hard time talking with strangers. always eager to make them feel comfortable which makes me uncomfortable. read Joyce's "Dubliners" and two novels by Camus - "The Stranger" and "The Plague." some spring cleaning and moving of furniture. my wife sleeps during the day and is up at night. talked politics with my family. concerns about oil and gay marriage. changed the paper lantern over the kitchen table. the new one is red and white and much larger. some sort of chrysanthemum print. I enjoy sitting at the table in the red light especially in the evening when the sun is setting. as always, wish that you were here.
~Saturday, April 26, 2008...Holy Saturday. spent the day making Pascha cheese and Trinity bread. got a bottle of white wine, some fudge, pepperoni for the kids. wife is sick and has been sleeping all day. unsure about tonight. Holy Friday at church most of the day for Vespers and then matins, the processions and venerations. I thought about the actual body of the dead Christ and the vulnerability of it all. having to be carried and washed and buried. extreme humility of God. I thought about my own body in death and realize how much I care about my own flesh. the desire to hide the scars. tonight we will serve the liturgy and sing the songs of resurrection. as I always eventually discover, God will be all in all, even in my own flesh.
Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered.
~Friday, April 11, 2008...my wife has started working nights. she is a labor and delivery nurse at the county hospital. many poor and uneducated and young mothers. hard to understand or comprehend what these people have to endure, what these people choose to endure. society at its lowest levels. drugs, abuse, death, diseased. America. in my head I begin to think that there is some way to help or to change the way things are but there is a wall that can't be overcome. a system that is so complete and perfectly formed and unbreakable. a cycle of poverty and ignorance. shameful. the church tries to reach out to these people and should but not because of their earthly hardships but because of their spiritual depravity. I suppose it is our own spiritual depravity that makes us the same way. here, where I live, I don't come across those people very often. I probably choose not to as well. my wife makes me proud and I think very highly of her and her work.
still Great Lent for the Orthodox. Lazarus Saturday is next week then Holy Week and Pascha. everything revolves around it, is informed by it. I still go to work and do the things of life but all in anticipation of what is coming. obviously, that is the point. and a good point at that. made confession this week but was reserved a bit. may give it another shot tomorrow. the weather has been wet and windy. good spring thunder storms each day. the trees and flowers are starting to bloom and winter is slipping away. I spread grass seed in my front yard and hope that at least some of it will grow. at liturgy on Wednesday, there were some visitors from the the local Baptist seminary. I led the silent procession of the gifts with the censor and while everyone else was prostrated, they sat in their chairs looking uncomfortable. I wish it was obvious to everyone what it is that is happening. I wish Christians could see Christ in their midst. I wish we weren't uncomfortable with each other. afterwards they were smiling politely. they brought their Bibles while I did not and that was a sure sign of both of our expectations.
~Thursday, March 20, 2008...decided to change the way I enter the date for no reason in particular. served at the liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts last evening with Fr. Tim and Fr. Chris at Holy Trinity. a service like no other. the tonality of the songs, the readings, the incense, prostrations and silence. all those things serve as a vehicle for what is really important and I love them in and of themselves. I am probably prone to religiosity at times. standing there, I thought about the days this week when no one was there and the host sat upon the altar in that deep silence and I tried to figure out the meaning of it. the body of Christ waiting for us to assemble and say the prayers and make the movements toward Him. when I serve I use a lot of incense because it is a large building and I want to fill it with smoke. wanted to make confession but ended up busy with serving. the weather was wonderful today, a warm and windy spring day. tomorrow is western Good Friday and I feel very disconnected from it. the house is quiet this evening and so I am sitting here writing this. the kids are coming inside.
~2/29/08...I was talking with my father last night about the idea of faith. he is a devoted protestant and entirely dissatisfied. he doesn't like young people. it makes me wonder at what point I will stop learning and become a difficult old person. it makes me wonder if I am already there. my family is a family of old people in a figurative sense which should be a good thing but instead of wisdom there is usually stubbornness, instead of dispassion, there is irritation. the weather channel and fox news in great amounts. seems to me that growing older should be a filling up of light, of weightlessness, of realized joy, and fulfillment of love. seems that should be the goal. I want to bring my father to Pascha and hear the homily of St. John Chrysostom. I want him to see the lights and processions, hear the words. I want him to fill with light that is not his own and be where the voice of those who feast is unceasing.
~1/13/08...my fourteenth wedding anniversary was last week. same as Elvis and David Bowie's birthdays. fine day. it was snowing a little and windy and very cold. spent the day with my wife wandering around the city. ate expensive salads for lunch. visited the Kemper Museum of modern art and looked at pictures of German social realism paintings. the large ones were our favorites. we never go to the museums but it was a nice time. saw a movie and loitered in a bookstore. I read a couple chapters of Hemingway On Writing. picked the kids up from school and played board games in the evening. for a little while, everything was just right and everything was fine.
~1/6/08...are any of you doing the thing in life that you really wanted to do? do you feel content and happy with your vocation? this thing about the grass being greener is a real problem. it permeates our culture. Monday morning doesn't feel quite right. I am thinking that maybe the grass is greener and the problem is that there is no way to get there in this life. it's the loss of the garden that we feel. it's the movement away from paradise. condemned to keep looking over our shoulder. in liturgy this morning, we had the great blessing of the waters. celebrated theophany and Christ's baptism. I wonder how long I will be able to remember the words that were said. "As many as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ." going to try to keep that in mind tomorrow at work and the next day and the next. going to say good things. going to love my children, my wife, and everyone I meet. everyone I meet.
~12/15/07...write the truest sentence that you know. a very good thought if you are a writer. it is hard to go wrong if you can manage to write this way. but sometimes, one sentence is all you get. and then you have to be content. just re-read "A Moveable Feast" and was glad to be back in it. such strong writing. but it also leaves you empty. I have been having a go at that one true sentence. I am always having a go at something.
snowed last night. a soft covering, powdery and white. the house is quiet this morning and I am trying to write. Joanna Newsom's Ys is on but I am not really listening to it. my fake fire is burning low as well. soon, the family will all be back and I will probably wander around cleaning up after everyone whether it needs it or not. my mother does the same thing. it is my wife's family that is here for her graduation from nursing school. I think everyone is happy. that is, I hope everyone is happy.
"Skriv riktig en dömer"
~12/10/07...don't usually write at night. not the best time to think. in the mornings there is always a sense of anticipation, of potential. at night, things seem to be in passing. and time is short. so, I don't like to write at night. it is very cold and very dark this evening. it has been raining for several hours and the ice is starting to build up. in the morning it will be very interesting to look out the window and see what has happened. the world all silent and cold. I wrote a poem about an ice storm once. had the line:
"all the world reduced to cold and quiet boredom - a heifer's flanks
hung for market"
stepping outside, the silence of the neighborhood and all the destruction of trees and power lines and ice everywhere. people walking around just looking. you don't feel the cold. you just know that something strange and something wonderful has happened.
~11/26/07...I started to write something and as usual it seemed a little gloomy. my wife commented on that before. there are nice things as well. been reading about the stylites. men that sat atop pillars in an attempt to overcome their passions and learn how to pray. I will admit that I don't understand it. part of my mind is inclined to think that they were rather loony. the role of asceticism as a means to self-realization is well and good but the pillar-life seems absurd to me. and then again, part of my mind wonders if I am the absurd one as I spend a lot of time thinking about what I want and what I don't have and what I need and what satisfies. if I had a pillar, it would need to be fairly large, large enough to walk around on, to lie down and stretch out. it would need to have some green grass and trees and a nice house and a few good books to fight the boredom. the earth as pillar.
spent a lot of time with my wife over the holiday. watched many movies. woke up in the morning and drank coffee and read some as well. put up all of the Christmas decorations. disagreed about the stockings. same as last year. my wife is a wonderful girl. you really should meet her sometime. I think you would like her. I know you would.
~10/21/07...took a walk this morning with my family at the state park. there was a great wind blowing and the clouds were moving low and very fast. a little cool and altogether wonderful. this type of morning is so much more valuable than the work I do. my cubicle seems to be pressing in on me these days and I want a change. I haven't heard from anyone about making any music in a long time. I have these songs that I could do something with. just give them away possibly. been working on short stories and reading a lot of Grass and Hemingway. I always wonder what the people I work with do when they go home in the evenings. I always think about how much time I have and if I should spend it writing. they mostly watch television and think about sports or they get good and drunk. seems strange to me. perhaps that is why they are fine with sitting the cubicles. perhaps that is why I am not.
my wife and I drank a bottle of Reisling last evening. we drank and I stood on the porch while the wind was blowing and then we went to bed.
~8/11/07...spent a few days in North Carolina on a vacation of sorts. stayed up in the mountains. was very warm, warmer than I expected it to be for where we were. drove through the area and saw Chimney Rock, Lake Lure, the Parkway, a lot of turns in the road and trees and trees. saw the family and tried to be comfortable or as comfortable as one can be. for the great outdoors being as close as they were, spent very little time in them. took the boys one morning to a small branch of the Broad River, not much more than a creek really, and cold. watched them fish for trout. waded up the river into some deep pools and small rapids. trees on both sides and the low mountains pushing up behind those. could have spent a long time there. I prefer not to talk too much if I can help it and that is the best sort of place for peace and quiet. I don't remember thinking of my work for several hours at least.
on the road leading up to the house there was a dead snake. a rattle snake of some sort with diamonds. its head had been crushed. a friend of the family that lives on the same mountain remarked that she had a dream about it and how it was the devil's head that had been crushed and that in the great war that is to come the victory will be secure. she apparently interprets dreams. with gusto. concerning the same snake my boys were delighted to see that its dead body was covered by many small butterflies. all purple and white. must be some significance in that. being a poisonous snake, the butterflies also were now poisonous. they laughed as they ran away from them. with gusto. no one is afraid of butterflies. even if they are filled with poison.
~7/28/07...paper lanterns are very appealing. in the kitchen there is one above the table with flowers that are red and green. nice and colorful. I sit every Saturday morning with the receipts and bills of the week at this table and think about money. plans and ideas every Saturday morning beneath the paper lantern with a cup of coffee. use the same mug every week. has all fifty-two presidents on it. what worries they must have had. wars. economy. laws. I used to live around the corner from the Truman home. President Truman dropped two atomic bombs on the Japanese in the second world war. it's likely thousands died, I don't know. I liked to stand at the iron gate outside this house and think about it. sitting there in his kitchen on Saturday morning with a cup of coffee under a lantern. while half way around the world two cities reduced and laid to rest. what must that have been like. what thoughts those must have been. forgive us our transgressions both voluntary and involuntary, of word and of deed, committed in knowledge or in ignorance, and count us worthy.
how pleasant, how appealing are these paper lanterns.
~7/19/07...I would really like to do something different. I would really like to say that I would like to do something different but there is always that immediate slap of reality that says you can't. perhaps my mid-life crisis will help. listening to the radio on my way to work I heard a man in his forties saying how he wanted to quit his job and start a band. the wife thought he was ridiculous. had a lot of sympathy until he revealed that he wore headbands and feathers occasionally. I would really like to do something different.
I think I am getting soft. still very underweight but softer than before. going to have to exercise and eat better. i have trouble speaking. that shouldn't be related but I am sure that it is.
~5/6/07...springtime again. there is a great thunderstorm going by right now. Sunday afternoon is always best with rain and a good book. reading The Seven Storey Mountain by Merton right now and I had forgotten how much I like this book. he had a lot of things to say and many of them very good. I was watching the birds and thinking about it all. took my kids to the park this weekend. they found some fishing line and a hook on the lake shore and fashioned a crude pole out of a twig. there were some tremendous carp just off the shore but there wasn't luck. i hope they weren't disappointed. I think about them a lot. My youngest discovered the fear of dying this week. there isn't much to say about it. the knowledge comes to us all. what would a person do without faith? what would they say to their son? we sat and watched the birds for a little while this afternoon while it rained. I do think about them a lot.
~3/7/07...have been thinking very hard about what is to come. had a great difficulty thinking of something to sing about for some time. on a Sunday several weeks ago I had a change of heart and started writing again. it was the Sunday of The Last Judgement according to the eastern reckoning and I believe it was during the singing of the Beatitudes that my change occurred. was able to finish a particularly difficult line in a song that has been hanging around for some time. so it seems there may be more music in me still. I have these songs ready to demonstrate:
Mea Culpa (The End of All Things)
The Lake of Fire
Write Them On Your Hands They Are the Right Words
The Great Entrance (My Heart Is Already Under the Earth)
For This I Was Born and For This I Have Come Into This World
there are some friends who have offered to help me get these into a decent form and that is very generous of them. I was sitting at work today thinking about these things and had a hard time remembering what I was there to do. I would have preferred to have been looking for pictures of collapsing buildings or women's faces just as they are about to cry. I would have liked to have pretended things were different for a while.
~2/3/07...took the family to Weston, a small town north of here, last weekend. just wandered around some. ate a small lunch in a diner where things like salad have to be hand-written onto the menu. we were not part of this town so we all talked louder to make ourselves feel more comfortable. I am from the South and have lived in small towns most of my life. the fact that I have lived in many towns however means that I am mostly homeless. I feel at home in certain types of places but not in any certain place. there is a hope that I will settle down at some point for the children mostly. but not entirely.
working on a song called "Colossal" now. very simple. too pretty at the moment but I suppose that is what I do. always looking for a way to de-construct. and it is cold outside. in Weston, the wind cut right through you, as they say. walked around the mostly empty streets and felt good and cold and happy to do it again.
~1/1/07...when I was younger, I spent most new year's eves at church. there was always some anticipation about the new year and whether Christ would return before the clock struck midnight. it was a completely ego-centric view about religion and time and how the two could be mixed up into a superstitious brew. I don't recall people doing much in terms of spirituality. a lot of running around the building, talking, eating. my father was the pastor and I was never quite sure what he thought would happen. somehow, I felt that if there was going to be a second coming, it would happen just before twelve o'clock, wherever I was. never occurred to me that the new year had already happened for most of the world before it came to Tiffin, Ohio.
last night I was sick and slept on the couch to keep from waking my wife with my coughing. the people in my neighborhood are very celebratory. the fireworks started at midnight and lasted for some time. I thought about the second coming and how I have lost that anticipation, that waiting for the trumpet and the parting of the clouds. I stood in front of the the icons of Christ and the Theotkos and said a few prayers and thought about how I would try to keep from sinning. I thought about that for a while.
~12/6/06...it has been some time. I put some thought into it and was hoping to have an answer. I was hoping that something would happen by now that would spark an interesting thought or idea. but it has been some time and I am still waiting. I work a lot. that is about it.
but the weather is good. had our first snowfall of the year and it was nice and heavy. deep in places and dangerous. the office did not close down. the drive home took twice as long as usual. on Friday took the boys to the middle school and went sledding. once, when I was thirteen, i went sledding with my brother and some friends. a girl that I can not remember anything about spent the whole day with me using the same sled. wore a purple coat. she might have had a ponytail. the happiness of that day is still with me. there was nothing bad about it and there never will be anything but happiness in that memory. my youngest son had a hard time getting back up the hill after we went down. I held his hand and made the trip up each time. when he sits next to me, he crosses his legs the same way I do. there is nothing bad in that and there never will be anything but happiness in this memory.
~9/9/06...thought I might put up a new demo on the atb&b site. it is a new song that I have written called "Write Them On Your Hands. They Are The Right Words" and I recorded it as my children were sleeping the other night. trying to think about this world and the idea of how Christianity relates to it. the early Christians met in catacombs and pursued martyrdom as the ultimate sacrifice of faith. I sang this quietly so the kids wouldn't wake up. listen to it the same way.
~8/23/06...summer is passing again and I look forward to the cooler weather. don't know why since I spend all day in an air-conditioned cubicle. those few moments passing from my car to my work may be nice.
i still try to write music from time to time. was able to demo two songs over the weekend. slow burners. everything has to be recorded late at night when the children are asleep. they always end up sounding very dark, sad. trying to write about joy but that is not a topic for the night. I should probably wake up early and see what happens with the morning. but I have to go to work.
~6/24/06...Saturday morning. going to go to the thrift store today to browse through the books. when I was there last, I found a nice copy of a Bradbury novel as well as a history of the last Russian czar and his family. the thrift store is the last place on earth that you can still find something that hasn't been re-packaged as vintage, made culturally desirable, and priced out of all reason. sometimes. I worked at a small shop when I was young. before the cultural shift toward counter-culture in the 1990's. lovely place to find trinkets and books. sometimes decent records. all the junk that I valued. still junk.
at some point I believe that all of the stuff of life will simply cease to matter and we will be left with who we really are and what we really want. there was a monk that left everything he had and went into the desert with only a piece of bread and a pair of scissors. that strikes me as profound and also very funny. He went on to become a great saint of the Church. complete abandonment to this world and all it has to offer. we Christians like to talk about such things. but not too much.
~6/6/06...received a letter from a young man named Stephen in Australia today. strange to me every time. had nice things to say. finished training at my new job and anticipate hitting the floor tomorrow to see how things go. back to corporate life. feels nice to be back at work in a regular sort of fashion. feels nice to support my wife and children. I have been reading Father Alexander Schmemman's Church World Mission during lunch. I sit in my car near the back of the parking garage and try to read a chapter or so. I always forget to bring along a dictionary. so many words that I feel very unsure about. Manichean. I should know more about what that means.
I try to feed the birds as well but they don't come too close. and I write a few words here and there. just finished two new songs. "The End of All Things" and "Write Them On Your Hands. They Are the Right Words." they seem to be just fine. I look forward to tomorrow and the next day. and the next day as well.
~4/23/06...Christ Is Risen! Indeed He Is Risen! Holy Pascha, the eighth day, the new day of the Resurrection, the night that is brighter than the day. I wish I could give you convincing words or thoughts about Holy Pascha but they would all be insufficient and shallow. it is sacrament. it is the only joy. there is no other thing that matters. there is only poetry. You are Christian! my friends, my joy, I have no words. there is only Christ.
Christ Is Risen! Indeed He Is Risen!
~4/12/06...complete upheaval. two weeks away from home and all my romantic notions of travel and adventure are gone. looking for a job, a home. I have no emotion left. my friends, protect your credit rating. avoid being poor except in spirit. my family is good. they eat regular meals and go to bed early. in all this quiet storm, I have found some things to write about and I think they are good. listened to a record by a young man named Michael Edwards and it is really lovely. he sings with conviction and is a little precious. I'll forgive him for that.
~3/20/06...people create little worlds for themselves at times which can be completely contrary to reality. I saw this yesterday. it always makes me wonder if I do the same thing and am just not aware of it. not capable of seeing the structures. oh well.
I am moving back to Kansas City. life has defeated us here in Florida and we can't keep on with the struggle. I am traveling alone from here to there in a few weeks to start looking for a job, a home. I think I will go through Atlanta and Nashville, St. Louis as well and across to the city. it is a nice drive. I like to leave early in the morning because time has a different character to it than later in the day, it moves differently. I like to drive before the sun comes up and be far from anywhere before it is light. far from anywhere I know.
~3/3/06...took the boys to the park on Tuesday afternoon to let them play for a while. read Gunter Grass' "My Century" and tried to write. the only line that came was "I was a human sacrifice." so dramatic. so untrue. the novel is a series of vignettes that cover each year of the twentieth century, all written by Germans. some nightmarish bits in there. some human. at the office this morning, my desk had been given to someone else. my displacement. I took my pens out of the drawer. the rest will stay.
there were several deaf children playing at the park but my boys didn't even notice. they just talked a little louder. so wonderful.
~2/22/06...warm day for February here in middle Florida. I woke up early and washed the few dishes that were in the sink. there always seem to be a few. off to work and there are the usual problems but there is no despair. I learn things at a tremendously slow rate it seems. at confession on Saturday I asked Father about despair and how it seems to be so un-Christian, so human. I stood in front of the icon of "Extreme Humility" which shows Christ dead and in a sort of tomb, eyes closed and arms crossed. and we spoke about hope and meaning but there wasn't any drama, no falsehood. today, the sun was very warm as I sat in the parking lot on Magnolia street under a large live-oak. with my eyes closed and my arms crossed.
~2/20/06...on Saturday we sang at the Vigil service; "By the waters of Babylon, there we wept and there sat down; Hung our harps on the willow trees; Zion yet we remembered thee!" it was quite beautiful and somber. after Liturgy on Sunday, my wife being at the hospital with her Grandmother, I wandered around the Church and didn't really speak with anyone. I tend to do just that whenever my wife is not with me. I have no ability to sit and chat with people. it is not within my skill-set (so to speak). last week as well, I spent the time in my car reading the collected stories of Eudora Welty. the weather was fine. I read "A Curtain of Green" which happens to be my favorite. I bought the collection for Amy at Christmas but it was a poor choice on my part. perhaps it was more for me than for her. she said, "I love it." but I feel most comfortable in Liturgy. I am an un-tonsured Reader and it suits me more completely than anything else I do. "By the waters of Babylon, there we wept and there sat down; Hung our harps on the willow trees; Zion yet we remembered thee!" a Russian woman whom I have not spoken with properly before asked me where I was from and I said Kansas City because I couldn't think of anywhere else. she was curious and said she wanted to talk with me more. then she disappeared. we didn't have our conversation and so I ended up wandering around the church yard until my children were finished. the weather was still fine and it didn't get any worse while I waited. it is the Sunday of The Prodigal Son.
"It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found." .
~11/15/05 (Part 2)...and the vinyl version of Health and Sport is now up for pre-order at Republic of Texas Records. have some real fun with wax.
~11/15/05...amazing how the thrill of anticipation far outweighs the satisfaction that follows. what's next? and what's after that? the immaculate consumption.
~10/3/05...October and a new record is on the way. There are more records behind us than before us. And that is a strange feeling. I want to write but know it would just all start sounding the same like all those others. I want to take a walk on the beach and think about what a middle-aged man should do. I want to think of myself as a middle-aged man. I really do.
~7/25/05...the modern world requires change. perhaps that is what I have been feeling lately; the winds of change. I read recently that albums are dead. no one is interested in being dictated to concerning how they will listen to music. they want choice and variety. so it is in with the single and the digital choice and out with the record and the analog tradition. I resist this. but why? because I have grown old. but I can change. it even seems appropriate that I do change. for those of us who love the feel of the vinyl or the smell of the cellophane, it means a loss of sorts, a death. but it also is a birth. a new way of communion through music. i don't think I will do another album. just spin out digital singles until there is nothing left. or until the world changes again.
~7/15/05...reading Wendell Berry's "The Memory of Old Jack" for the second time. you know how intimacies begin to move past mere feelings and become more like convictions over time? you begin to believe in them? and then you realize where you are and all the days and hours that have led to this very moment and the weight of those many decisions and how the simple idea of change becomes an impossibility, crowding out all idealism until you are only left with practicality. I suppose that is why we read. To be "other." going to lie in bed this evening and watch Jack Beechum work in the fields under the sun and see his barn burn, helpless. going to do that happily.
~7/12/05...moving house again. central Florida in the summer. really looking forward to Health & Sport, especially the vinyl release. haven't had that satisfaction in a while. thinking about quitting this whole musical thing soon. there are still a few songs rattling around in my head but the separation has started. it is all too dark.
~5/12/05...the south is nice in the springtime. there are many people out and about in the weather. walked to the jetty last night with the boys. they like to stand against the rails as the waves crash. I don't mind it myself. walking home in the dark, the youngest always wants to be carried.
~2/28/05...spent the weekend putting up a vinyl privacy fence for my new landlord. it is odd not owning the home we live in after so many years. I suppose we will be good tenants. I suppose we have to be. the ground is only sand and you have to dig quite deep to secure the post. labor is always good, even if the land is not your own.
~2/21/05...drove south through Orlando today. tried listening to the radio and was surprised how crude it was. I suppose that is what makes us laugh today. had a conversation with Amy's grandfather about world war II this week. those were the days. they really were.
~1/24/05...tomorrow I will be moving to Florida. don't think of myself as someone who lives in Florida, but I hope I will soon. I like the idea of getting back south. it warms my blood. it really does.
~12/26/04...have past the feast of the nativity. the building has somehow been given a plague of flies. they are everywhere; in the window wells, on the pews, between the pages of the typika, in the dried wax of the candles. they keep coming. should there be a sign in this? i will have to drive south next week and think about what this means. on Glennstone, there is a bookstore just behind The Brown Derby and Andy's. they have a large section on the interpretation of dreams next to the fiction and paperbacks. I like to sit there and read while sounds from the country and western bar next door move through the aisles. there must be something in there regarding flies and their greater significance to a population's spiritual health. there must be.
~11/14/04...the road that runs north from El Dorado Springs toward Appleton City is called H highway and it is one of those few places where people really aren't. the prairie runs for miles east of the road and to the west it is mostly pasture. I would like to say that it is peaceful or serene or something descriptive but you wouldn't believe me until you traveled it yourself. my telephone has bad reception there, so I park and stay for a while.
~9/18/04...nearing the end of the third quarter. numbers are looking grim for some people. not certain what will happen if they fail to meet their "commitments." business and politics seem to be on my mind. drove south through Bolivar and Springfield and tried to listen to one of the conservative talk shows on the way. much of it made sense and at the same time seemed so entirely biased that all sense was lost. is it possible to be morally conservative and socially liberal? what party represents these values? my father has a "boycott France" bumper sticker. he cracks me up. he really does.
~7/7/04...well we've played at the Cornerstone music festival, my only real performance in the year and it went relatively well. had the guys from namelessnumberheadman back me up as well as a drummer named Ryan Drake. good people all around. going there is something of a drug. just when you've gotten over it, you experience the feeling all over again and you begin saying things like "next year." hopeless is what we are. was able to spend time with Ronnie Martin from Joy Electric. I really enjoy musicians who drive trucks or build houses or furniture for a living. reasonable people are hard to find and this combination seems to breed the most reasonable ones. Ronnie has been doing this longer than I have and it hasn't turned him cold and bitter yet, just a pleasant person. spoke about family and homeownership, the working class, etc. his newest records, Hello Mannequin and Friend of Mannequin, are quite exceptional. see for yourself. www.joyelectric.com drove across the state and celebrated my 32nd. grew a new beard just for the occasion. recording the new Luxury record in two weeks. I will have to enjoy the time as these are getting fewer and farther between. perhaps i will take some photographs to remember the occasion.
~6/7/04...divorce is a funny thing. a friend is just about to finalize his. he spoke about what he'll miss the most from marriage and it revolved around the loss of his home and his ability to work on it. she'll get the equity, he'll get the 401K and they'll call it even. it is a strange sadness that after twelve years, he'll most miss the use of his toolbelt. I was only obliging and didn't think of anything to say until after he hung up the phone.
~6/6/04...early summertime work and the heat is rising in the midwest. have been building things and enjoying the labor of it all. the corporation is heating up as well with the second quarter coming to a close. there will be meetings and talks and inspirations to succeed. there will be success. I will travel some this week, perhaps north near Maryville. tornadoes have been through that way and I will enjoy looking at all the devastation. I will enjoy driving by slowly and watching the people putting the pieces of their lives together again.
~ 4/19/04...went skiing in Colorado over Lent. Not particularly thoughtful, but entirely restful. have been spending most of my free time working on the newest Luxury songs. It will be a strange disjointed effort. I have put together six songs in addition to the three original numbers we planned on releasing. not certain if all six will make it onto the record but confident that we will end up with a full length despite the number. mostly piano. should be quite different than anything we have done before. driving to Warsaw tomorrow in hopes of selling something. it is a nice trip across the country and I expect to enjoy the fine weather and think about farming as I usually do.
~4/12/04...listening to Blonde Redhead. somewhat wonderful. drove across the cattle yards toward Wichita. couldn't see a tree to climb for miles and miles. I had to pay $3.20 for the experience.
~ 1/10/04...Saturday with the family. listened to "Sonic Spectrum" on NPR and heard a friend's band. it's always nice to hear someone being recognized for their accomplishments, especially when you respect them personally. found a cover for my next project from a 1963 National Geographic. It seems to give me some direction. I really want to make a record that can be performed solo, something like Iron and Wine or Cat Power. the air is cold today and the sun is much too bright.
~1/6/04...spent the day driving across Missouri listening to Blonde Redhead and Steve Riech's "18" until the batteries died, then to NPR's presidential debates. political language seems very strange and unusual, much like business language - potential, prospects, leverage, etc.. I spoke with a girl about childbirth and said the appropriate things. I seemed to smile a lot even when it wasn't necessary.
~ 1/5/04 ...have been working on two new songs. recently received a copy of the facsimile of t.s. eliot's "the waste land" and have been inspired to pull out some old poems. writing poetry is nothing like writing music; the cadence, wordiness, rhythms - they are all different. need to make a trip for work this week, probably north and east and there will be plenty of time for writing if the television can be avoided. television can be an inspiration, especially for titles. it was said that true poets are always listening for poems, so let us listen. there are things to be sold and numbers to be made, but in the end...