Writer, Christian, bibliophile, musician, generalist.

 

MCCLVIII

1. I am down. And let me say, I am really down.

Things have never seemed this bleak. The good things are really good, but the bad things have never been worse. This whole job drama has ruined me. I feel so lost, so filled with despair, that I don’t know what to do.

I had actually come to some peace about it briefly, but not anymore.

If you read this and feel moved to do so, I could really use some advice, encouragement, guidance, anything.

I have some hope, but I just don’t have confidence. My self-esteem is running on fumes.

I’m very happy with my job and my students out at NCC and I truly believe it’s what I need to be doing for my long-term career, but it just isn’t enough. And it’s growing increasingly difficult to find anything to supplement it.

Life for this twenty-something isn’t too awesome right now.

2. Bob Dylan, Not Dark Yet”

3. I read an entire book today. That was not a good use of my time, but it was an escape.

4. I hope my kids don’t someday read this. That’s going to be embarrassing. But who knows; maybe it will encourage them, so that they know this sort of thing happens.

MCCLVII

1. I have now in the past week had several students tell me they just hate school and want to get out in the real world.

That makes me want to grab them by their heads like Adam Sandler and say “Stay here. Stay as long as you can.”

2. Today was really not an awesome day.

I ended up going with my gut and not going through with that job. Which is awful. I just came to the conclusion that I was not the best person for the job. I think I would have benefitted from it, but I am almost positive the kids would not have. They need someone with experience; someone who knows what they’re doing.

That someone is not me, unfortunately.

So it’s back to the drawing board. I just had such high hopes.

3. The good news is that I’ve read 25,091 pages this year and have tied last year’s record for books read at 84.

MCCLVI

1. Life as a twenty-something is really trying right now.

The other day, I was offered a position as a PreK-8th grade music teacher at a private Catholic school.

I initially accepted, considering it a good opportunity.

Now I am almost positive I am not going to accept it. I think my motives were wrong in my acceptance of the position; additionally, the thought of getting in front of and having to teach a group of small children petrifies me. I don’t even know where to begin, what with lesson planning, execution, classroom management. I don’t think I am cut out for this position.

And yet, if it were any other sort of musical job, it couldn’t be more perfect. The hours were right, the pay was okay. If I was just teaching 4th-8th grade, I think I could nail it. High school, even better. But I have absolutely no classroom experience of any kind in terms of being able to do something like this.

And so it’s back to the drawing board. To be honest, I feel okay about this; although not as okay as if things were working out. I’m still going to ask tomorrow if there’s any chance we could split the position, but I’m thinking that might be a no. Still, it can’t hurt to ask.

2. Discipline is something that left my life at some point, and I think I need to seek to bring it back.

3. I need a plan. That will likely be much of tomorrow.

MCCLV

1. Again, the time I have allotted to give myself to write is proving insufficient.

2. For the first time in a long time, I felt more myself again. I was able to fully engage in conversations, say things that mattered and that I meant and cared about, and had a good time with my friends.

It was really nice.

I missed that Derek.

3. I am really proud of the work I’ve been doing at North Central and at St. Paul’s. I may not be changing the world, but I think I am making a difference in at least some people’s lives.

MCCLIV

1. I have practically been falling into bed every night. Teaching is taking it out of me. In the best way, though.

2. I ate an inordinate amount of fried food at the Fish Bar tonight. Just enough to where I question my choices, but not enough to be miserable about them.

3. I need to run tomorrow like fish need those little flakes.

MCCLIII

1. I am very much enjoying teaching so far this year. I took on a lot of students, every one of which I feel was a positive acquisition. All told, 13/18 are new (I graduated a lot of seniors last year). I think I learned some big lessons last year about how to teach as a young teacher;

I’ve become a lot more creative with vocal exercises, I’ve been assigning repertoire, and I’ve been letting students guide lessons.

Thing is, at the beginning of last year, I would have said all of those things are against my preference. And actually, they still are. I’ve had to bend a little more than I would have liked to, but thankfully, nothing is broken.

The education never ceases.

2. Khan Academy is a great tool. I am brushing up on my math in good order, although I have forgotten more than I wish I would have. It’s very trying.

I guess that’s what happens when the last math class you took was in 2006 and it’s now 2014.

3. I turn 26 a week from today. I hope that goes all right.

4. Portal is a fantastic game that came out in 2007. However, I am only just now playing it. I should have done so sooner! I’m not usually good at puzzles, but these are fantastically written and challenging.

I may or may not have rage quit tonight.

MCCLII

1. I can’t decide if my life is about to get more or less stressful.

I think some anxieties will abate, while others will arise.

I believe the change will be good, though.

2. I feel very strongly about my evolution as a voice teacher. I’m still assessing what my idiosyncrasies are as a young voice teacher while also maintaining certain standards for myself and for my students.

3. I have been very hungry lately, and have been struggling not to fall in to the low energy- high appetite pitfall.

I think I’m doing okay; I also think I need to eat more vegetables.

Does pumpkin count?

MCCLI

1. Sometimes, I can be a jerk.

I’m lucky to have friends that can look past that.

2. Sometimes, I’m far too self-aware.

I wish I could not look past that. Or I wish I could look past that. I’m not sure which. Is the appropriate syntax.

3. I have been doing some of Khan Academy’s math courses, starting with Algebra I. Wow, my math skills are rusty. I haven’t been in a math class in 8 1/2 years. That was a mistake.

It’s coming back to me; but I don’t think I had a very good math education to begin with. I was always in the honors sections, but I didn’t retain as much as I would have thought, so that’s a problem.

4. I need more school. Mostly to give me forward motion. That might just have to happen.

MCCL

1. Saw a great Cardinals win over the Cubs tonight with my small group from. 8-0.

Great times.

2. I wish I could hang out with Calvino. I think we’d have gotten along.

3. I still feel a little up in the air and unfocused. I’m glad I have something to do with myself now, but I still feel unsettled.

MCCXLIX

1. Annie and I now have permission to make eyes at each other during church meetings. We have express permission from our priest.

How this came about was that we were in a church meeting, I was sitting next to Fr. Keith (our rector) and I caught Anne’s eye; when she returned my glance, Keith thought she was looking at someone coming through the door behind him, which caused him to stop mid-sentence. Everybody figured out what had happened pretty quickly, though.

It was awesome.

And now we can be romantic everywhere. Life is grand.

2. I think we may have a wedding venue.

3. I’ve been reading more Calvino. Here’s an excerpt from his lecture on Quickness:

"Since in each of my lectures I have set myself the task of recommending to the next millennium a particular value close to my heart, the value I want to recommend today is precisely this: In an age when other fantastically speedy, widespread media are triumphing, and running the risk of flattening all communication onto a single, homogeneous surface, the function of literature is communication between things that are different simply because they are different, not blunting but even sharpening the differences between them, following the true bent of written language.

I think Calvino should count his lucky stars he didn’t live to see today’s world. I think he would have been less than satisfied. I think for him, his preference is to say what needs to be said and be done with it. He was ever a brief man, preferring short form over long. I think he rightly recognized that the faster we can say things, the more we’ll say.

I think that, if anything, is the biggest tragedy of the digital age. I, of course, say that while participating myself. The digital age has given us all a voice, and so we collectively use it (and abuse it).

The other drawback is really found in speed of consumption, not just in production. We can consume more, so we try to consume more. But it’s only in literature that I can find myself slowing down long enough to focus specifically on one thing long enough for the differences to truly sharpen.

4. I was reading an article today about the Pope’s demotion of Archbishop Raymond Burke. In the article was a quote from Burke:

"All day long we make judgments with regards to certain acts; this is what the natural law is: to choose good and to avoid evil."

This quote is founded in his disagreement with the Pope that it is not our duty to judge gay priests on their homosexuality in order to keep them from the priesthood. But the reason I picked out this quote from Burke is that I think his paraphrasing of scripture in terms of phrase order and word choice is significantly dissonant when reflected by the actual text.

This specific idea, that we should “turn from evil and do [seek] good” is found in Psalm 34, 1 Peter, and most notably (in my opinion) in Romans 12; and what is significant about this is that it always occurs in this order:

1. turn from evil
2. do [seek] good

The only passage the order of good and evil is switched is in Amos, but that seems to me to be referring to another matter. I think it says a lot about Burke’s politics and theology that he should switch the order. I paraphrase all the time (which is a horrible habit), but I am not a priest. And even so, I think order is important here. I think it is a different thing entirely to first choose good and to avoid evil; it seems to suggest that the matter is entirely in our hands. Now, this seems to hold with my view on free will, but it more significantly conflicts with my view on man’s reliance on God.

The better approach is to repent (turn from evil) and then to seek what is good. It is the didactic language we find in the accounts of Jesus’ miracles of healing and salvation. The Samaritan woman is forgiven and then told to go and sin no more. The demon-possessed man is healed and then told to spread the news. The adulterous woman the same. I think a separation from that order is misguided.

The words ‘choose’ and ‘avoid’ are also problematic in their suggestion of control.

I think this may have been a good call on behalf of the Pope.

MCCXLVIII

1. I love a nice thundershower, especially when it happens as I’m just stepping through my door at home.

I, like many good people, love falling asleep to the sound of the rain. I’m quite good at it, too.

2. Columbian food and Richard III.

3. The great thing about September: there are so many sports to stay updated on.

The rough thing about September: there are so many sports to stay updated on.

MCCXLVII

1. I am often frustrated at the slow speed of my computer. But then again, I’ve got a ton of bulky files on it that I haven’t used in years, I rarely update it, and It hasn’t been backed up in 135 days now.

I should maybe do something about that.

2. I am on the fence right now.

3. I am looking forward to a nice long run tomorrow morning. It’s been three days, which doesn’t seem like a long time, but it sure feels like a long time.

4. I zoned out on the drive home and missed my turn because the story I was listening to on NPR about EEGs and controlling things with our minds from a smartphone app was so engrossing.

File under: identifying factors which place me in my mid- to late-20s.

5. Every time I coach a piece from Frauenliebe und -leben I am reminded that I’ll never be able to sing it.

But dang, No. 4, Du Ring an meinem Finger” is beautiful.

MCCXLVI

1. It is 10:00 and I am in bed about to fall asleep. School started today.

2. I am genuinely excited about my studio load this fall. I’ve got some awesome students.

3. I need to run. I haven’t since Tuesday and likely won’t get to until Saturday.

4. Today threw me for a curve at first. Forgot my wallet at home so I had to navigate that. Minor annoyance.

But the big annoyance was that my alarm clock app updated and instead of math problems that look like this: (9+7) x (4+10), they switched the symbols so I was left with (9x7) + (4x10). After a year with the former, the latter caused my brain to cease to math for a minute. I wasn’t sure what I was looking at.

MCCXLV

1. Meditation needs to once more become part of my daily routine.

I spent 10 minutes today on a Headspace exercise and from that point, I feel like I’ve had a very productive day since then. Scheduling lessons, answering emails, planning recital stuff.

I was pretty down before then, and unfocused. It was amazing what that small amount of focus time did for my mentality. I shouldn’t underestimate it.

I spend way too much of my time stressed out and unconstructed, trying to figure out why I feel unfulfilled. Routine is something I crave, and it’s also something I’ve become a bit to lax on myself about.

I need to be pursuing things that will improve my life, rather than things to fill my time.

2. Singing has felt great lately. I’m not sure exactly what I’m preparing for, but I need to be in shape for when I do.

I’m trying to plan a Schubert Recital; I’m not exactly sure when I’m going to do this. Hopefully sometime either in November or in January. I’m currently leaning toward January, but who knows.

I just need to give a recital. I hope people attend.

3. I began reading Calvino’s Six Memos for the Next Millennium this afternoon and ran across a section that really resonated with me:

There remains one thread, the one I first started to unwind: that of literature as an existential function, the search for lightness as a reaction to the weight of living….I am accustomed to consider literature a search for knowledge. In order to move onto existential ground, I have to think of literature as extended to anthropology and ethnology and mythology. Faced with the precarious existence of tribal life–drought, sickness, evil influences–the shaman responded by ridding his body of weight and flying to another world, another level of perception, where he could find the strength to change the face of reality.

That’s how literature has been for me, especially over the past couple of years. I feel the weight of living pretty profoundly. It bears down on me with its full gravity; literature is a way out from under. It’s a bit escapist, but I think it’s the right kind of escape. I don’t do drugs, I don’t get drunk, I just really like to read.

I am a little guilty in regards to reading books I think other people will find impressive, but even those sorts of books serve their purpose. I haven’t really been reading a whole lot of high-level literary fiction, but I have been reading a lot of pedagogical texts this year, which is maybe more pertinent.

4. “Il faut être léger comme l’oiseau, et non comme la plume”

- Paul Valéry

MCCXLIV

1. I wish I was still actually doing some writing on here. I mean, I show up every night to write down my thoughts, but to be honest, most of my thoughts revolve around stress and how little I have control over my life right now.

I’m just tired. And a little mad. And disappointed. And ashamed.

There are a lot of emotions wrapped all into one grey cloud hanging over my head.

2. I did make a really good dinner tonight, though. So I’ve got that going for me.

3. I need to somehow find more bright sides. Or appreciate more. One of the two. Or both, really.