23 September 2014

Remembrance #4

I hope you’re as composed any mastery of your self permits in your sad circumstances. This unexpected existential trauma is a wound; I imagine our beloveds nurse real and unaccustomed assaults. I assume your beloved is in Charlotte giving care, comfort, and love. My child is incommunicado. I often wrestle with my emptiness; silence succeeds for a time but with sustained crisis such as we carry now uncertainty transforms into alarm and deeper alienation with panic.
Abraham Lincoln wrote, In this sad world of ours, sorrow comes to all; and to the young, it come with bitterest agony, because it takes them unawares. I expect this is so for T&J. We hope your beloved communicates as soon as all composures allow.


16 May, 1995, Benedictine Retreat, New Harmony, Indiana
Last night I sang the officiant’s part for compline. I’m so pleased! Rembert  (Entrances: Gregorian Chant in Everyday Life) helped me learn the music, imprint in my memory is more like it, I messed up a few times, but I really enjoyed the singing! I got lots of pats on the back. Rembert tells me I have a beautiful baritone/tenor voice. Maybe I’ll finally work on singing. I went right to my cell and I cried.

13 July 2014

William Appling

As I read Ian Frazier’s quiet tale about William Appling, I’m reminded Mr. Appling permitted me to sing. I sang for 1 year. I was a first year schoolboy and it was William Appling’s first year on school staff. His expectations were high, which was immediately evident. As Ian beautifully recalls glee club practice was bracing. My singing experience remains with me.

Ian uses the word artifice for one sense of what a life in the arts sometimes feels like. One might fool one’s self for a time using artifice living a life in the arts, but it’d be evident such superficiality wouldn't last. William Appling was not a user. He did not employ crafty expedience or subtle but base deception, i.e. trickery. Artifice does not signify in any of my experience of William Appling. And I know it does not in Ian’s writing, though any writer might desire improvement to one’s choice of words and prose.
The Glee Club practiced, practiced, practiced, as difficult and challenging as any football or wrestling or track experience. Mr. Appling worked us, cajoled us, pushed us, nurtured us, and picked our music and us apart in the Hayden Hall glee club practice room. He was not about to permit squirmy worm-in-the-pants boys fidgeting away practice time. Once he suddenly slammed his piano fallboard shut. Startled the kraaapp out of us! He commanded attention, owned it, and ever after he had mine. And, incredibly, he transformed his squirm-worm boys, especially ignorant ones like me, into his harmonic vision of coherent glee, a jubilant delight.
In that time we’d have Vespers, the Sunday evening prayer, in the Chapel, required attendance, to sit and worship, as we were able, as one. One Vespers choral offering, El Yivneh Hagalil, is etched in my memory. Dressed in black cassocks we processed out of closed stairwells flanking the Chapel’s chancel into twin choir stalls and we prayed and we sang hymns and listened to a narrative order of service as we waited to present out vocal offering. William Appling would rise up from faculty pew, stand before his Glee Club, peer into us, bid us rise, and led us through “El Yivneh Hagalil”.
The Lord will build Galilee,
The blessed will build Galilee.
The Lord will build Galilee, the blessed will build Galilee. We sang in Hebrew, acappella, and without sheet music. He insisted we memorize our music; folders are distractions. This added to the pressure I felt. We sung a psalm that gave me cold chills, by the end, as I recall it, and brought joy and pleasure and satisfaction etched onto William Appling’s face and into his heart, emotions only his Glee Club could see. It was jubilant satisfaction in his face with the power of simple words stirringly performed, which moved me. It was blissful release. The experience was no metaphor, it just was.
We melded in New Harmony, our Galilee of voices a new creation and I was transformed. I was transformed by jubilant delight William Appling wrought within me, from within us, delight I’d never experienced before. I felt love. It was love. It is love. It is Holy Spirit unchanging and everlasting. He transformed faculty, students, and himself into music experience. Bill Appling built his Galilee in evening prayer in the Chapel at Western Reserve Academy and all of us felt it in the stillness that followed that short moment in time.
Recalling now, I feel hot radiant jubilance that love. It frightened me then. I couldn’t believe that love, that, it existed. My sophomore year I stopped singing. I was confused and possessed by other spirits. I don’t recall William Appling pursued me and he may have. But even 49 years later there’re times when I’m overwhelmed as I sing notes and words and feel cascades of revelations within me from music. It’s unnerving.
If it’s anything like “artifice” then, I’m artificial. It was effort and labor William Appling was teaching us, that which exhausts and calls to return, again and again, despite sensible reason to cease, to express transformation and revelation.
I nurture and practice and live by my gifts and talents, one of which was revealed to me by William Appling at Western Reserve Academy in the Chapel. The place I am and William Appling was is where artists who are living their gifts & talents are called to be. It is where those who seek to live a life in the arts must be. There’s nothing artificial about it.

24 June 2014

Lent Madness

[1] http://www.armenianchurch-ed.net/feasts/lent/meaning-of-lent/
I gave up Lent for Lent.

18 June 2014

Meniere's Tinnitus

Tinnitus has a sound. Tinnitus is the sound of my Meniere’s disease. Imagine the sound of an ice pick. What might that be? Imagine it inserted into your ear all the while emanating sound, in and out, in and out, in and out. It’s penetrating. The sound is invisible, narrow, and thin. The sound pierces the length as it pulses in & out and my mind and travels its pulsing wavelength in and out & echoes back down into… the very front of my consciousness. And again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again…. An ice pick… what my tinnitus feels like and looks like.

21 February 2014

Meniere's Disease

“Eggs, milk, chocolate – it’s what’s for dinner,” my fb friend posted with a link; he should know.
WD’s repost, 7 Foods Experts Said Were Bad For Us Turned Out To Be Healthy is @ AlterNet. I didn’t know AlterNet. They say it’s, 
an award-winning news magazine and online community that creates original journalism and amplifies the best of hundreds of other independent media sources. AlterNet’s aim is to inspire action and advocacy on the environment, human rights and civil liberties, social justice, media, health care issues, and more.
“Everything bad is now declared good and everything good is now to be utterly discarded!”, reposted fb Kristoph to WD.
For my part? I’m growing into my imagined dotage ~ Please, ma'am, wipe the drool from my mouth for me? ~ I re-post fb WD to say, “Not any more.” 
When my ENT, Dr. Leslie B----, K-town, TN, recommended I take a diuretic, triamterene-HCTZ, I was reluctant and she said, “Salt is in everything,” with charming understatement. And of course I thought, I know. My blood pressure is low and no history of heart disease in me or my family and I’ve been fortunate I could shovel in all the salt I want and I’m fortunate I’ve never had serious dietary concerns to require sustained changes.
Salt, sodium chloride (NaCI), which I now must manage, is target #1 for directly alleviating 2 of 3 Meniere’s Disease symptoms. These two are unceasing. Tinnitus is incessant. Ballooning pressure, it's locus at the inner ear, is ever persistent and manageable. My 4 episodes of vertigo still elude linear narrative sense. Sodium Chloride (NaCI) is in EVERYTHING in big-process food production chains and products; I imagine each product extruded. Dr. Leslie B----, of K-town, TN, I sense you recognize, name, and diagnose symptoms more frequently than anyone can imagine. I’m sorry for my reluctance in the face of your recommendation. I’m thankful for your Rx.
Relative contributions of dietary sodium sources.
Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 1991 Aug; 10(4):383-393.
I started label reading. Milk? I love skim milk. All milk, except from her udder to your mouth milk, contains some NaCI. It’s added. NaCI is 5%, 120 mg, of the daily-recommended intake (DRI) in 8-ozs of my big box store’s private label skim milk. Whole milks can be as high as 15%. I really like loca-vore organic vanilla ice cream. I don’t yet wanna know it’s compounded, for me, NaCI content. But chocolate? I love chocolate sauce. I recommend Santa Cruz ORGANIC Chocolate flavored syrup. One serving of it, 2 Tbsps. according to its label, contains 15mg of NaCI, 1% of NaCI’s DRI. Yum. Yum. It’s tasty.

In my Meniere’s case all big-process cured meat products are out. Excellent loca-vore cured meats produced in East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia, which I’ve enjoyed, are my worst triggers. The sensation of ballooning pressure in my inner ear as a my-hand-to-my-mouth-to-my-ear experience, as a result of NaCI intake, directly links 2 of 4 incapacitating & costly vertigo events. Vertigo is the 3rd symptom of Meniere’s. For some Meniere’s patients vertigo is ever present. I’d never experienced vertigo. I was terrified and I don’t recommend it and I don’t want the experience again.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH),
To help lower blood pressure, experts recommend that people consume fewer than 2,400 milligrams of sodium a day—about the amount found in a teaspoon of salt. People with high blood pressure should aim for 1,500 milligrams.
I say NIH recommendation is high and it’s a free country and 1500 mgs is more like it. According to Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, a researcher at the University of California, San Francisco,
“A very modest decrease in the amount of salt (only 3 grams, about ½ a tsp.)... can have dramatic health benefits.”
I’d be wise to give salt up.

08 February 2014

'Nite Prayers

There’re times when I fear to go to sleep; most often I’m not; but at times, yes. Vertigo and Meniere’s Disease have recalled this within me. I awoke in extreme vertigo and it was costly. Dread wells up within me, within my soul. Yes, I do have a soul, and I tell each of you I know you have a soul. And I worked decades to name it, that is, my soul, and my dread. It’s emptiness and useless unless I do name it; name it and claim it and someone can help you name it and no one can do it for you. My living and being has not removed my experiences memory.
Claire Filipone, my aupair, taught me early and well, though her leading me was early in my experience and was just as natural as our nightly tender bedtime ritual for any little one. Claire nailed a haloed Mary glow-in-the-dark icon to the wall near me and I could see haloed Blessed Virgin Mary in my darkness, which kept me, on one side, from rolling out of my bed. In time my desire was linked to my Roman Catholic 1st Communion and hence to continue to my Roman Catholic Confirmation. Prayer memorizing and recitation was the outward and verbal sign of the sufficient inner grace to progress to & through these rites. My little boy pilgrim’s progress I took seriously, though, again, I was unconscious of this. I sensed my father and mother thought them valuable. In reality they were the only rites of passage my two parents insisted upon and attended with me.
I was nervous at my 1st Communion and when the wafer, the Body of Christ, was placed on my outstretched tongue by a resplendently arrayed priest at the altar rail within the grandeur of St. Thomas Roman Catholic Church and backed by so many well-wishers seated behind me, I heaved up Christ, barely keeping Him in my clamped mouth and swallowed again and heaved again and swallowed again. I was a horrified little pilgrim. I could barely sip His Blood. I had no sense anyone noticed. I never spoke of this to my father and mother in my dread and my shame and my horror of upchucking Jesus and His Blood would’ve displeased them. Now I feel my experience hilarious… and my dread is real but small and lurks in the dark, sometimes, as I breathe in and breathe out and watch my thoughts turn into images and I go into my sleep. It's rare for me to not sleep.
Dread is natural and not rare enough and I still use my ‘nite prayers.
Our Father, who art in heaven,
 hallowed be thy Name,
 thy kingdom come,
 thy will be done,
 on earth as it is in heaven.
 Give us this day our daily bread.
 And forgive us our trespasses,
 as we forgive those who trespass against us.
 And lead us not into temptation,
 but deliver us from evil.
 For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory,
 for ever and ever,  Amen.
Hail Mary full of Grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed are thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus. Holy Mary Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death,  Amen. 
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest
 all my sins, because of Thy just punishments, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, who are
 all-good and deserving of all my love.
 I firmly resolve, with the help of
 Thy grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin,  Amen.
Now I lay me down to sleep,
 I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
 If I should die before I wake,
 I pray the Lord my soul to take,  Amen.
I like these prayers and its rare to not sleep.