Writer, Christian, bibliophile, musician, generalist.

 

MCCXVIII

1. I have returned from my week away. This has actually been a nice week away from everything. My email account is horrifying, my room is in disarray, but I am overall more than overjoyed to have spent such a wonderful week away with the love of my life, Annie, and her family. I quite good about life right now, other than the fact that I’m very tired after such a long drive and week.

Highlights:

- sauna/swim/reading/eating/sleeping/playing board games is a great way to pass a week. I have not done so much substantial nothing in such a long time.

- we began to live somewhat of a 28-hour day. Breakfast usually didn’t end until at least 11. One day (Sunday, I think) we looked up and realized that as we were just finishing lunch, the clock said 5:20pm. That was an eye-opening discovery. It’s interesting noting how the body doesn’t run as much on a clock as I think it does.

- learned a new word: chiefy.

- and others!

2. Reticence is a great thing.

3. I need a nice run tomorrow.

4. I wrote every night over the past week, but I think I’m going to wait until I can flesh some of these ideas out before posting them all. It’ll probably be out of order, though.

MCCXI

1. There is no way I am getting adequate sleep tonight.

2. Driving 9 hours to northern Minnesota tomorrow!

3. Will be out of town for the coming days. Likely will write when I get back. Who knows!

4. Love

MCCX- Current Events, Writing and the Brain, High Range, Chicken, and Today

1. There are times when I want to post statuses and links pertaining to current and relevant topics. And then there are times when I do so and instantly remember why I don’t often do so.

2. I have been writing more lately, and thus have been thinking more poetically on a day-to-day basis. But this has also made me a little scattered and more than a little absent-minded. I’m glad I don’t do this professionally.

3. My high range is doing strange things lately. It’s there one moment, and the next is unstable. I think it’s the fact that I have less now to support against. I’m having a hard time adjusting to that in a physical sense.

4. I have a ton of fried chicken left over from small group last night that I need to do something with when suddenly, it hit me that I’m going to make an awesome chicken sandwich tomorrow. I hope future Derek looks back on this sandwich with pride. Because I really want one right now.

5. Today was pretty productive, overall. Cleaned, organized, bought insurance, saw a movie with Annie, and read some material on early baroque performance practice. Martha Eliot’s book Singing in Style to be precise. Excellent read.

MCCIX- Ferguson, Robin, Cleaning, and Running

1. Awful things are happening in my hometown. Riots, looting, general mayhem. It’s more than a little scary. I hope things begin to improve in a couple of days. The whole thing feels a bit too close to the LA riots of 1992. Which I guess I don’t really remember that well because I was 4.

2. Robin Williams died today, likely by his own hand. It’s unfortunate that so many times, depression goes hand in hand with comedic genius. But I think that’s what made him so brilliant in his serious roles. He knew depth. Good Will Hunting, One Hour Photo, and What Dreams May Come are all among my favorite movies, period. What a loss.

3. I am in desperate need of a room cleaning. That will have to happen tomorrow.

4. 13.5 miles today on the road. Should have been 14, but I ran out of willpower. Bummer.

In better news, the running shoes I bought in January had huge holes in the sides of the uppers from my feet being too wide, so I took them back to the running store. Full exchange. Killer customer service.

New running shoes for free!

MCCVIII- Writer’s Block, Long Day, and Home Again

1. Writer’s block. And it’s the really annoying kind where I keep thinking I’m getting ideas, but then they don’t work.

2. Long day. That was three church services in a weekend. I know I used to do this regularly, but they all took place from 8-12 on Sunday mornings, rather than taking place from 3:00pm Saturday to 7:00pm Sunday.

3. My wonderful girlfriend is home once again, and it is more than good to have her back. Man, I love this woman.

MCCVII- Memory, Poetry, and Smoothly

1. It’s amazing to me that I can look back at old pictures of myself and people I know and think that they nor I look like 18- or 19-year-olds. It’s impossible for me not to separate my image of myself from my age. I suppose it could relate to the fact that that no one ever really feels any different on the inside as they grow older, but still.

Mean, I can look at a picture of myself and my friends from high school and know ostensibly that we are 17. But we seem otherwise older, ageless even. My memory still ties to times current, even when those current times haven’t applied for 8 years.

Strange how memory works.

2. And bang, just like that, I’m back into poetry. And different poetry than ever before. I’ve always been interested in the style of cummings, bukowski, et al. and still am in many ways, but I’ve come to greatly appreciate the formal styles of poetry. I love the way the sonnet has evolved and been put to test time and time again.

I think may all largely thanks to my wonderful girlfriend, who is much more educated on these matters than I. I appreciate her, and so I’ve learned to appreciate the things she treasures.

It’s really nice, actually.

But I’ve written four sonnets over the last three days, two sub-par and two pretty excellent. I’m getting the hang of iambic pentameter and rhyme scheme. I had an idea for a poem almost first thing this morning and it suddenly emerged as a sonnet without any undue effort on my part. I’m a little clumsy as of yet, but sonnets are so much fun to play around with.

It’s great to once more be producing work I’m proud of.

3. I’m hoping tomorrow runs pretty smoothly. It’s going to be long, but it should be a good day, I’d think.

MCCVI- Iambic Pentameter, Paleteria, The Iliad, and Up in the Air

1. Iambic pentameter is not my friend right now. I mean, I think it’s a problem when the term itself can’t even follow its own rules.

2. I like living two blocks away from a good paleteria. It makes the area seem that much more enticing. Chocococobananas are quickly becoming my favorite summertime snack. Super cheap, and it’s fruit, right?

3. I read a lot of The Iliad today. Maybe too much. I was barely hanging onto any of it by the end. Although now as I think back, it seems pretty clear.

4. Still feeling a little up in the air right now. Hoping to come down soon.

MCCV- cummings, Work, and Singing

1. Finished the complete cummings today. I wish the editor would have set up the book a bit differently and placed the unpublished and other sorts of works chronologically rather than all lumped at the end of the volume, but it’s a bit too late for that, I’d say. His style seemed to peak in his older life, but then we’re suddenly back in 1904-5 when he was 10 or 11 years old.

On the whole, I found many works there that made me think him apt to be considered one of the great poets of the 20th century. But others…what was he thinking? Pretty well unreadable.

I still appreciate him for what he was, though. I think that, if anything, I have a higher opinion of his work after reading this volume than I did before.

Not only that, but it’s sparked my writing a bit as well.

2. I am job-hunting and could use some prayer. I just need something to fill in the gaps and add security. The job market is hard right now. I know pundits keep boasting that we’ve added 290k jobs in the last month, but those are likely mostly part-time positions. And the employment numbers almost never include people like me who are very close to underemployed.

It’s frustrating and de-powering.

I’m trying to keep my head above water, and I’m largely succeeding, but it’s a nearly constant battle.

I was hoping to be more settled by now, but I’ll have to take what I can get and make things work.

On the whole, though, I am spending less money now than I was a year ago. So I’ve got that going for me.

3. I had meant to sing tonight, but many things pulled me away. This will not happen tomorrow afternoon.

I have a recital to plan!

An die Ferne Geliebte is something I need to program. And absolutely some Schubert. That’s going to happen this time.

I miss performing.

MCCIV- Stress, GoogleMaps, Serendipity, and The Iliad

1. I am a little bit stressed out right now. Things seem to be mostly up in the air right now in many areas. But I guess I’m the one tossing them around, as it were. I really need for things to settle down a bit, though.

2. Google Maps seems to have a strong affinity for routing me through the back alleys of Chicago. Especially at night, and even more especially while I’m walking.

Not cool, Google Maps. Not cool.

3. I had a random beach day with my cousin today. I’d just sat down to lunch when I got a phone call from him saying he was in town. How serendipitous.

I don’t think I’d seen him in about 4 years and it was really great to catch up. I think I need to make more of an effort to keep in contact with that part of my family.

4. I have actually begun to enjoy The Iliad. I’m kind of surprised by this, to be honest. It’s intriguing.

MCCIII- Sleep, Reading, and Writing

1. I have, for some reason or another, not been getting good sleep the last few nights. Here’s to trying to fix that.

2. I need something fun to read, and soon. I’m really enjoying what I’m reading now, but it’s mostly very dry and heady. I need a counterbalance.

3. I have several things I keep remembering during the day to write about, but then by the time I sit down to write at night, I am too tired to properly function and give them the time they deserve. I need to work on that.

MCCII- Humble and Proud, Blessed Rain, MTG, Tingling, and Great Things

1. Another day, another cummings poem. This poem struck me as I was reading today. cummings was a Unitarian, but his devotional poetry is still absolutely accessible and I think beneficial to my faith. He has such succinct and insightful ways of talking about Christ and the church.

The poem in question today is called “i am a little church (no great cathedral)”. The last stanza really stood out:

winter by spring,i lift my diminutive spire to
merciful Him Whose only now is forever:
standing erect in the deathless truth of His presence
(welcoming humbly His light and proudly His darkness)

It’s the last line that stuck me as being so profound. That is a true ideal: to bask in the sunlight and to stand strong in the dark. I think that’s a sign of a mature faith. Beautiful.

2. It has been raining on and off all day, and to be completely honest, It’s been nice. A blessing, even. I stayed in and read all afternoon, making some terrific progress on The Iliad and cummings’ poetry.

3. I downloaded the MTG:2015 app for my iPad and have been geeking out pretty solidly for a couple of days. I really enjoy TCGs. There’s so much great strategy to it. I’m actually considering playing some Friday Night Magic at some point, but that would involve getting some physical cards.

In due time.

4. I was awoken last night by the telltale tingle of a cold sore. Not awesome. I mean, realizing while I’m awake is one thing, but waking up because of it? Strange.

5. This was an epic day. I can’t really say more about it, but great things are happening.

MCCI- Exhausted, Worship, and Sleep

1. Well, this was an altogether thoroughly exhausting day. I ended up leading worship for two different congregations (only one of which was my own), spending about 10 hours in church or commuting to/from.

There comes a point where I just can’t be around people anymore. I think part of it is pure impatience, but I think another element is that I just need to decompress after a while. I can only take so much intense interaction before I feel burned to a crisp.

2. I really enjoyed worship both times today, though. It’s incredible to be able to worship with such diverse people. And that even when I’m working with unfamiliar musicians, good things still happen.

God is good.

3. I need to sleep about 8 hours tonight. That should probably happen.

MCC- Clothes, Xaipe, and Grilling

1. I went pants shopping today. I never knew that was something I would be excited about. The pants I bought were a full 2 pants sizes smaller than pants I could have fit into a year ago. Plus they were slim fit/flat front.

Also, I need a new suit since my current one is almost three years old. The suit I tried on was 3 sizes smaller than the suit I’ve been wearing for the last three years. And it fit incredibly well.

I wish I would have started this whole weight loss thing so much sooner. If I only knew all of the grief and insecurity I’d have saved myself. I’m not finished with it yet, but I am more than well on my way.

I did just realize my goal weight is only 9lbs away. That’s crazy.

2. Cummings is finally arriving into his best work, in my opinion. I read his collection Xaipe today. Cummings’ success rate as a poet is often marginal. There are so many poems to wade through that make little to no sense at all, and are sort of not worth taking the time to figure out. But then there are some seriously incredible works.

This is one of my favorites. I first encountered it in a choral setting last year.

now all the fingers of this tree(darling)have 
hands,and all the hands have people;and 
more each particular person is(my love) 
alive than every world can understand 

and now you are and i am now and we’re 
a mystery which will never happen again, 
a miracle which has never happened before— 
and shining this our now must come to then 

our then shall be some darkness during which 
fingers are without hands;and i have no 
you:and all trees are(any more than each 
leafless)its silent in forevering snow 

—but never fear(my own,my beautiful 
my blossoming)for also then’s until

I love his juxtaposition of the themes in the first and third stanzas. He tells of death without saying death. I feel that’s one of his strengths as a poet. He often says more with what he doesn’t say. But the loss we feel as readers when we read the phrase “…:and i have no/you:”

I also really love the demeanor with which he speaks to the Beloved. “(darling)”. “(my love)”.

But as wonderful as the first and third stanzas are, the second and the couplet really contain the crux of the poem for me. “and now you are and i am now….” And he introduces death in the phrase “and shining this our now must come to then”. But that’s not the end. “—but never fear…/…for also then’s until” He ends the poem with hope. Hope in what? The resurrection? Seeing the Beloved in the afterlife?

I think this is a perfect poem. Whatever ‘it’ is, this poem captures it.

3. I got grilled something good tonight. I’m actually kind of glad for it, though. Kind of needed it.

MCXCIX- Boyhood, BBQ, and Running

1. Saw Boyhood tonight. What an incredible and surprising film. It began filming in 2002 and finished earlier this year, meaning over the course of the nearly three-hour film, we grow with the characters. They apparently all met up once a year to film, and then didn’t see each other again until the next.

I would say that whatever this film was trying to convey, it did it. Hyper-realistic, beautiful, captivating. The dialogue was perfect, the cinematography subtle and attention-grabbing.

Well done.

2. There are few culinary experiences as nice as good BBQ. My friend Zach and I found a really great joint for lunch today, involving brisket, pork, and house-made pickles.

3. I feel as though I am hitting a wall with running. I have been spending about the first two miles every run convincing myself that that’s actually what I’m doing. Still, I’ve come so far and I’ve just got to convince my body to do more.

I think I need to start biking again, though.

MCXCVIII- Comcast, Stagnant, and Settling

1. I did battle with Comcast today and came out ahead when I was miraculously able to fully cancel the service in 10 minutes flat. I’d expected to spend the entire afternoon on the phone with them, but I’m really thankful I didn’t have to.

2. I’m feeling stagnant right now. I feel as though I haven’t learned anything new and worthwhile for some time and as a result, my writing is suffering because of it.

I made my word of the year for this year patience, and yet I’ve been incredibly impatient lately. Something needs to change.

I also need to get out more.

3. I am growing more settled with each passing day. I’m so close to being finished!