A Journal of the Plague Year: #5

The day begins with session 10 of a guided meditation with Sam Harris. I’m not a huge fan of guided meditations, per se, because I feel while I’m meditating I don’t want somebody else’s voice in my head. But I am a fan of Sam Harris, so I figured, since he gifted me a free year’s subscription to Waking Up, that I’d live for awhile with Sam Harris’ voice in my head while I meditate. I’m learning some things. His guidance seems grounded to me, down to earth, less woo woo and more you you. In fact, that’s the thing I like best about him: there’s no woo woo.

René and I take another long dog walk, our fifth in a row, I think. The dogs are so stupidly happy it’s not even funny.

Feeling rather spunky this morning, I turn to Whitman for the poem of the day. I land on the famous concluding section, #52, of “Song of Myself” from Leaves of Grass. 

As I am preparing to record a poetry recitation in the back yard, I pause for a mostly delightful conversation with my student-teacher about how we might possibly reconnect with our students and recreate something of a learning community again in the virtual world. We are hatching plans. Meanwhile, her guy, a union representative for nurses, is working 16 hour days during our time of the plague. We talked more about paradox.

I begin recording #52 with the distant rattle of my son practicing his rudimental drumming on a marching snare drum in the basement.  I attempt many takes before I get it right. I get some really funny ones during which, after the transcendent lines of Whitman, I botch a line and start to curse–the evidence of which I have deleted from my phone–which somewhat disappoints me now. It’s not every day you get to hear “I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world” followed by an F bomb.

My son comes outside! We play with dogs. We reminisce about the playhouse we finally took down, about sitting in there years ago under cover while a thunderstorm raged, and about badminton competitions in the front yard. All our rackets are broken. All the birdies are gone. We are inspired to walk to a sporting goods store for some new badminton supplies. We return with two new rackets and three birds.

We play badminton without a net, trying to set the back-and-forth record, a thing we haven’t done together for three years or better. We get to 20 and can never get beyond it, fighting the whole time against an uncooperative head-wind. I had the wind at my advantage, but in this kind of non-competitive match, the wind is at no one’s advantage.

I manage more effectively today to stay clear of the news, but in times like this it is mostly impossible, and maybe not desirable. I want to know if our Governor Brown would follow California’s suit, a “stay-in-place” order. Apparently she has not, but our numbers are still climbing. 114 cases in Oregon, four of which are in my county. There are 4,500 cases in New York City. Despite this perspective, we continue trying not to be afraid. My dreams have been strange. I am still out of whiskey.

As I put the finishing touches on this dispatch and attach my backyard Whitman video, I realize I have two problems: 1. some strange audio glitch over the “boot soles” line, and 2. an inexplicable deletion of half a second elsewhere, making that particular line incomprehensible. This will not do. I will begin again, and post late, post-haste.

Whitman is the antidote today, even though working with him has proved difficult. It wasn’t his fault. Please enjoy and forgive the lack of green in the backdrop of Leaves. Take care of yourselves and your loved ones. Help someone out who needs it. Sound your barbaric yawp.

 

6 Comments

Filed under Family, Parenting, Poetry, Reportage, Teaching

6 responses to “A Journal of the Plague Year: #5

  1. Sue

    Excellent reading!! Stay safe😷

  2. ❤️👏🏻🌈🙏🏻😊Awesome, friend, keep it up. Loving your poem choices; they are food for the soul. I left my whiskey at the retreat center. Now I’m hoping that our Governor doesn’t order us to stay put…because if so I will be apart from my whiskey…and my bike…and my djembe…and some books and art supplies and journals. 😔It’s funny how I suddenly panic about any more loss of what is familiar.

    • Hang in there, Lorien. I trust that you will be reunited with your whiskey, your bike, your djembe (!), your books and art and supplies and journals–SOON! Remind me of the state you’re in–meaning, which of the United States is your state?

  3. I’m in Maryland, friend, and I just drove to the retreat center in Harper’s Ferry to retrieve my whiskey, bike, djembe, books and art supplies. I scooped up my stuff and drove back home, feeling terribly disappointed that it has gotten so real that I can no longer treat this like a weird vacation and pretend that the apocalypse hasn’t happened in my lifetime…The retreat center owner has invited my kids and me back to her land…but then the order was issued to shut down non-essential businesses. It’s only a matter of time before the stay put order comes…so…I have been reunited with my stuff and I am no hunkering down. I’d rather be on a mountain, but I’m happy to have my little bit of turf…

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