Tuesday Tuneup 119

Q. Where would you like to be?

A. In a place of greater freedom.

Q. Freedom from what?

A. From worry.

Q. What are you worried about?

A. People.

Q. What people?

A. All people.

Q. You worry about all people?

A. Didn’t I just say that?

Q. What is there to worry about?

A. Offending them.  Crossing them.  Hurting them.

Q. What makes you think you do these things?

A. I have a bumbling personality, and I frequently put my foot in my mouth.

Q. For example?

A. Talking with a lady, I asked her when she was expecting, and it turned out she wasn’t even pregnant.  I watched her go off and cry, and I felt horrible.

Q. Don’t you know that you’re never supposed to do that?

A. It slipped my mind, because I was pretty sure someone had told me she was expecting.  What they had actually told me was that she had three kids.

Q. When did this happen?

A. Oh, maybe a year or so ago.

Q. And you’re still dwelling on it?

A. Not really.  You just asked for an example, and that was the first thing that came to mind.

Q. Have you put your foot in your mouth at any time since then?

A. Yes. Many times.  Or, if I didn’t, I fear I did.

Q. When?

A. Yesterday.

Q. What did you say?

A. Lots of things. I was talking with a friend, and I wanted him to hold some things in confidence.

Q. And he did not?

A. He might not, because I fear he cannot.

Q. Why do you have that fear?

A. Well, he later called me and asked which portions of what I had asked him to hold in confidence could be revealed to a mutual colleague.

Q. Did you then remind him you had asked him to hold all of it in confidence?

A. No, because it crossed my mind at the moment that some of it would be okay to reveal to the third party, and some of it would not.

Q. And you don’t think he can tell where to draw the line?

A. No. He’s not that sophisticated.  He’s as bad as I am, if not worse.

Q. So what is the solution to all this?

A. I don’t know.  If I could make my mouth speak about half as much as it does, it would probably make things twice as good as they are now.

Q. Then why not do that?

A. I lack confidence. I’m an Introvert. Most Introverts, when they’re nervous, they clam up.  When I get nervous, I start foaming at the mouth.  I babble incessantly, and things come out of my mouth that really should not have entered into my brain in the first place.

Q. So you lack social savvy?

A. I think so, yes.

Q. Well what are you going to do about it?

A. I know what I’d like to do, if it were possible.

Q. What’s that?

A. I’d like to hole up in my nice warm apartment here, not to talk to anyone at all, and work on my project.

Q. What project?

A. Seems I have to readjust the opening and closing scenes of my musical, simplify the vocal score so that all the music can be taught in a single week, write out full guitar and bass parts, extract extraneous parts from the performance tracks, and–

Q. And what?

A. I’ve got too much work to do.  I can’t have all these people flying through my head all the time, worried about whom I offended by saying what, when and where.  I’m not a people person.  I’m an ideas & concepts person.  We all need people, but there are just too many of them for me to manage.  I just need a better balance.  I want to be free from the consequences of words spoken idly. I want to give the world my best–not my worst.  Really, I should never talk to another human being for the rest of my life.

Q. Isn’t that a bit extreme?

A. Of course it is.  I’m speaking from feeling, not from reason.

Q. Then why not start speaking from reason?

A. What do you mean?

The Questioner is silent. 

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These cats deserve to be paid.  

Gratitude List 1849

(1) Thankful for good health. Running and upper body exercises are working wonders, plus I walk upwards of ten miles on many days, just needing to get around. Weight and vital signs are down. I feel positive and productive. Health is a blessing, for sure.

(2) After living in the heat of California for so many years, I find today’s snow to be very appealing. Got some beautiful pictures to send to my homeys back in Cali, some of whom have never experienced the snow. Thankful for the sense of winter holiday and approaching Christmas.

(3) I really have found some good friends since moving up to Idaho. It’s wonderful to feel respected and to engage in even conversations with equals, after so many years of feeling most people were looking down upon me, thinking ill of me. My world has really changed for the better in the past six years.

(4) Keva is recovering from major surgery, having had her pancreas removed at the age of 21. I think her life will be much different from here on in–but manageable. I spoke with her the other night. She’s in a lot of pain right now, but her outlook is strong. I believe she will still be able to sing and if all goes well play the female lead in my musical. Her resilience and positivity ought to be an inspiration to us all.

(5) Well, my bipolar disorder threw a curve ball at me midway through Guys and Dolls. I once again had what psychiatry calls a “manic episode” and was excused midway through the show to take care of my health. The good news is that Dr Ray has correctly diagnosed me and prescribed me Lithium. I’m in the third week, and I think it’s working. I’m not sure what will happen with the production of my musical slated for Summer 2023. But I’m moving forward with confidence, and somewhat relieved not to be having to get to another city in another State five days a week without a car. I’m grateful that life takes interesting turns. If it didn’t, let’s face it–I’d be awfully bored. God is Good.

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Gratitude List 1848

(1) The Courtyard Cafe has finally reopened after the pandemic.  I’ve been enjoying the full traditional breakfast I get for four bucks with my discount with free Starbucks coffee and unlimited refills.  It’s also been great seeing all the hospital workers again, people whom I enjoyed conversing with when I played piano regularly at the hospital where I was born.  That four dollar breakfast and coffee is the best way to start the day.  Grateful for the best kept secret in Moscow Idaho: the Courtyard Cafe.

(2) We’ve been having beautiful brisk days lately, and I’ve been doing a lot of running and brisk-walking. Also, I usually do 22 push-ups now, when I used to only do 17, probably due to weight loss. My heart rare was 52 and blood pressure 116/74 at the doctor’s office last Thursday.  Grateful for the beauty of nature and for the ability to traverse its pathways on foot.

(3) For the first time in forever, I have a doctor now whom I can trust and about whose prescriptions I have no complaint.

(4) Found a bassist who has agreed to do the  bass parts on the recording of the performance tracks of Eden in Babylon.  He has played first chair, first bass in the Idaho Jazz Orchestra and also has a great deal of respect for my musicianship.

(5) A multiple murder here has left the community in shock.  However, I am grateful for the solidarity we have been expressing and how this has brought Moscow Idaho together again.  I am more than grateful for the way that Moscow turned out to be, when on a whim in July 2016 I decided to check out the city where I was born.

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Gratitude List 1847

(1) Back in California, the Kids were calling me an “old man” even when I was still in my thirties. Up here in Idaho, none of the Kids call me old even though I am old.

(2) You get some bang for your buck with this LG external CD writer that goes for about $25 at Wal-Mart. You not only can burn but also play your CDs on it. I guess it can also write & play DVD’s as well–a realm I’ve not yet broached–but I believe I can now rent some decent movies for free at the library.

(3) I had been vomiting pretty regularly in the mornings till I learned of this diagnosis. Its been a long time now since I’ve vomited–well over three months, I believe.

(4) I’ve not yet finished selecting the twelve songs for the online album, but I’ve burned a number of CD’s to take to the Farmer’s Market this morning. There are only three of them left this season, and I don’t want to miss any of them. The Farmer’s Market here is a great community event, and it also has two busking stations and a stage for a live band, mostly all booked every Saturday. It’s a great way to connect with people in the community.

(5) With the better weather, I’ve been spending more time in nature again. With the bicycle still broken, I’m getting into a lot of long brisk walking. I walked seven miles yesterday, and throughout had interesting thoughts that I recorded in a voice memo on my iPhone. If I could regain and retain some of the freedoms I knew when I was homeless, without actually becoming homeless again, I bet I would live an incredibly rich and rewarding life.

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Gratitude List 1846

(1) Though I am not in particularly good spirits this morning, there are plenty of things to remain grateful for–including the sentiment expressed in this sentence.

(2) Homeless at the Piano is being published in the Unitarian Universalists Class Conversations newsletter. Grateful and proud.

(3) Cooper, Keva & Cody are all being considered for leading roles in the 2023 production of Eden in Babylon at RTOP. Cooper is preparing a singing solo to match this track as we speak.

(4) Bicycle chain is busted again, but I’ve been getting some good runs in, and yesterday even felt pleasant muscle fatigue.

(5) I’m creating a bizarre-looking link that will house twelve piano tunes that are generally thought to be my best. I will either sell it to you or give it to you depending on where we stand. Performance tracks for Eden in Babylon are coming along too, and it’s a beautiful morning on the Palouse.

Don’t be a clown.
Kick it down.

Homeless at the Piano

When I was homeless, I would wake up on a couple pieces of cardboard, sometimes set over dirt. Sometimes I slept on a ramp on the side of a Catholic church. I would wake when the sky was getting light, then wander into a nearby A.A. fellowship. There I would hit the bathroom for a quick clean-up before grabbing a cup of coffee.

Make that three cups. The coffeemaker there was a homeless lady with 30+ years of sobriety in Alcoholics Anonymous. I remember her commenting how I would sit at the meeting and appear to be calmer and calmer, the more coffee I drank.

There was a none-too-pretty picture of the self-serving homeless person, who would come into the Berkeley Fellowship, grab a cup of coffee intended for an A.A. member, and then leave the premises. I did not want to conform to that picture.

So I sat for an hour, listened and occasionally spoke. I heard many wise sayings in that room, from people who had effectively found recovery from alcoholism and drug abuse. Inwardly however, I knew I was mostly in it for the coffee.

There were also a few other ways for me to find a morning cup of coffee. Sometimes I would sleep in an illegal spot on campus near to a Starbucks. I’d have saved a buck and change from the previous night, and then I would get to sit in the Starbucks with a newspaper–almost looking like a “normal” person.

The Men’s Shelter had excellent Peet’s coffee along with oatmeal, eggs, bread, peanut butter and all kinds of morning goodies. This was also an option. But my favorite coffee was the Kirkland Columbian they served at the North Berkeley Senior Center.

And it was only forty cents.

Some mornings, I would get myself to the Senior Center as soon as it opened at eight. On some mornings, I was already coffee’d up from other sources. In that case, I would head straight to one of their pianos.

There were three pianos at the Senior Center. A nice Yamaha console upstairs, a Baldwin/Hamilton clunker in a corner room, and another decent Yamaha in the main auditorium. There, coffee was available, and lunch would be served for three bucks—or free if you were strapped.

But I didn’t want to play in the main auditorium. There were too many people there, and I did not want to disturb them. Often, when I tried to play a piano somewhere—at a church for example—I was told to stop using their piano due to “insurance issues.” I guess the days of playing in U.C. dorms and practice rooms were gone, and I was generally pretty piano-starved throughout my homeless sojourn.

As for the piano upstairs, there was too much interference in the environment. Yoga classes going on, people on exercise bikes, cramped quarters. So I gravitated toward the piano in the corner of the building, which happened to be situated right next to the pool room.

Though it wasn’t the best piano, I certainly got the best reaction I could have hoped for at the time. Usually there were about ten homeless guys shooting pool in the room next door. I could hear them cheering, sometimes after every tune. Sometimes they all appeared outside the door—smiling and clapping, and asking for more. Once one of the guys came into the room and started snapping his fingers beside me, groovin’ on the sounds. (I remember it was during the song “Skylark” by Hoagy Carmichael.)

So I was getting the best of both worlds—a bit of practice and a bit of positive attention. A far cry from the mostly negative attention I was receiving from elsewhere.

But one day, as I approached the room with the piano, I saw a sign on the pool hall:

CLOSED FOR REPAIRS

Disturbed, I approached the lady at the front desk to complain.

“Why’d you close down the pool hall?” I asked Laurie. “Those guys were my only audience!”

“Nothing personal,” she began, “but your friends were getting drunk at eight in the morning, and kinda wreaking damage to the building. We had to kick them out to fix up the place. They can’t be drinking like that on our property.”

“Well,” I retorted, “I didn’t even notice they were drunk! I just thought they were an unusually appreciative audience.”

At that, Laurie didn’t miss a beat.

“Well play out here then!” she suggested, pointing to the main auditorium.

“But if I do that,” I replied, “all you guys will be able to hear me.”

“We WANT to hear you!!” she shouted, as though trying to jolt me out of a delusion.

“Oh,” I said, sorta shuffling in my shoes. “Well, in that case, I guess you can be my audience.”

The sense of identity crisis that went through my head at that moment was quite profound. Why on earth would I only want to play the piano for other homeless people?

I think it was this. I had gotten so used to only being accepted by people who were outside, and being looked down upon by people who lived inside, I couldn’t imagine them doing anything other than to look down on me, even as I played the piano.

After all, my piano playing is not appreciated by all people at all times. Many people like it, but others don’t. Inside me, however, it was seen as something that gave me a sense of value. It separated me from the picture of the burned out homeless person, having lost all incentive, having lost all hope.

I did not want to hear the cries of derision and mockery from people who lived indoors– I heard them too often on the streets, and I had not permitted them to touch my musicianship.

Until now.

For now, I started playing every morning in the main auditorium, and was actually very surprised at the reception. Even a fellow from the Catholic church on whose ramp I slept stopped by, quizzically enjoying the music. Occasionally I received tips from homeless people who hung out all day in the computer room.

It wasn’t long before I was doing a full-on concert at the North Berkeley Senior Center. People filmed me on their smartphones, using those big tripods. I still have footage from the concert, to this day.

I remember it was a momentous occasion. I even delayed an opportunity to rent a room on the Russian River from a Facebook friend-of-a-friend. I remember Jonathan, one of the men who helped run the Senior Center, trying to persuade me to take the room instead. He thought I should have jumped at the chance to grab a rental far away from the scene of my chronic homelessness, on the beautiful Russian River.

“No way!” I told him. “That room can wait!”

Needless to say, I lost the opportunity to get the room due to my unusual set of priorities. I did however show up for the show—in as fine a form as ever. How I enjoyed the discussion, the smiles—all the applause from people in my age group, people who appreciated music just like me, and who just happened to live indoors.

After the last song, which I believe was “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” I was so happy I crossed over to the other side of the auditorium to grab another cup of coffee.

There, I was denied my coffee—for I did not have forty cents.

“Homeless at the Piano”
© 2022 Andy Pope

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Gratitude List 1845

(1) Farmer’s Market is kinda beautiful this morning. Six months a year every Saturday they have it here, with two busking stations and a stage for live band. I notice a phenomenon once again that I noticed when I first moved here six years ago. The smile in this town is not phony, nor does it mean someone wants something from you. The smile here is genuine. When someone says “have a nice day,” they sincerely want you to have a nice day.

(2) Grateful for my MacBook Pro, my music notation software, and my iPhone. Scoring music for the Eden in Babylon performance tracks is bringing back all the joy of working with these amazing programs and devices. Moreover, I find working with music notation software to be therapeutic. Happy to be back at it.

(3) Grateful I was given two strong legs and a good set of lungs. It’s been a long time since I ran that half mile on April 9, 1976 and puked my guts out. 46 years later and the man is still in the running. Grateful I was given a good set of teeth too, while I’m at it. I’ve still got all my natural teeth except for two wisdoms and a molar. Many people who have done the drug I have done have no teeth left at all.

(4) Four years clean from crystal methamphetamine as of October 1. I’d tell the whole world if I didn’t know it would probably lead to relapse. I want to do that drug all the time, just about every day of my life. What keeps me clean is keeping it close to my chest. People who boast about their recoveries are always relapsing, and they put the word “Anonymous” in the name of that program back in 1935 for a good, sound reason.

(5) I’m grateful for my apartment and for the $275 worth of groceries I bought on the 1st of the month. I’m grateful to be living in a peaceful, quiet neighborhood, and I am grateful for the all-night convenience store on the corner. I’ve met many fine Kids who work at that store, and I guarantee you, as fine as they are, half of them would be homeless if they had to live in the San Francisco Bay Area. I myself would be homeless if I were to move back to California. Grateful for my amazing new life.

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Sirens of Hope

You might like this new version of “Sirens of Hope,” the opening number in my musical Eden in Babylon. This is an audio facsimile of a draft of the music notation file I will use for the performance tracks for the Summer 2023 production. The idea is that the sounds replicating the score will eventually be replaced by those played by real human musicians. And of course there will be much singing too.

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Annoyed and Paranoid

Sent this text to a student/friend of mine whose mother might be into witchcraft. Thought it might make an interesting blog post, out of context.

Okay.  I’m paranoid because I identify as a Christian which in this neck of the woods is regarded with enmity by people who practice witchcraft and therefore maybe even your mom.

I learned after a hard experience with a Pagan lady that the Pagans and witches in this area are quite adversarial toward professed Christians. This was not my experience in the Bay Area, where i was often advised I could be a Pagan and a Christian simultaneously.

On rational reflection, since your mom has always appeared to be favorable, I tend to doubt she’s about to go cast a spell against me.  Therefore the paranoia is probably unfounded (except in the case of some previous Pagans, such as that other lady.)

Oddly enough, the Christian thing didn’t really become a public statement till I moved up to Idaho. Down in Berkeley, I was regarded as a Pagan–pentacles, circles, the whole shebang.  The Christian thing there was a function of churches often needing piano players, though it is true that I have embraced an inner spiritual reality. But I have also always enjoyed digesting the teachings of all the many conflicting denominations and cults.

A position as a church pianist was a perfect way to learn of these denominational differences, since I wound up losing jobs with every major denomination. But here I am up in Idaho and writing for a religious news site, somehow having had the effect of dredging up personal beliefs from out of my inner heart of privacy, and making my weird notions known to the masses (albeit largely misunderstood, as stated earlier.)

In my experience, psychologically speaking, paranoia is a product of guilt.  As a guilt-ridden individual, it’s often challenging for me to determine whether I’ve actually done something wrong, or am merely feeling guilt out of a guilty nature.

A religious upbringing during a very staid and repressive decade no doubt contributed to the guilty excess.  However I do feel there is a transcendent spirituality that can be sought and found, and I don’t feel that Christianity, despite its many problems, should be excluded from that realm.

Christ is real. This is a real Spirit with whom people interact and who assists them in their decision making. How that relates to the Christian religion is another story, and would be the substance of an extended conversation.

Odd I would even become paranoid at all, actually. I very often felt paranoia down in California, but very seldom since I’ve moved to Idaho. Last time I was paranoid, I was concerned that a biker might have been out to get me. But that was over a year ago. Now he and I are cool too, thus demonstrating that it was only a paranoid fiction.

So that’s all really.  I’m not paranoid anymore but just kind of annoyed with life, which usually happens at around this time every month before I get paid, three of four days from now. However, I may need to explore what is making me feel guilty.  This seems the most critical matter in terms of psychoanalysis.

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(It’s needed.)

Patreon

I started a Patreon. Somebody told me to, like I might be able to make some money that way, maybe off of my YouTubes.

Speaking of which, I’ll probably head over to the church & record something soon. I may need to borrow an iPhone from someone, probably one of the Kids. But we should get a pretty good sound.

Here’s the link to the Patreon, such as it is, thus far.

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Gratitude List 1844

(1) I amazed myself by teaching all the music in Guys and Dolls to a large cast in a single 15-hour week of evening rehearsals.  I further amazed myself by organizing the week’s rehearsal schedule and (for the most part) sticking to it.  Michael says he’s proud of me, and I must admit I can’t remember the last time when I was either this organized or this focused.  The myth of my old age has once again be debunked.

(2) Though I can’t seem to make a morning cup that’s strong enough (or lasts long enough) I’m grateful for morning coffee and for the good night’s sleep that preceded it.  After last week, my brain literally shut down at 9:30pm last night. The Sabbath on this day has taken on new meaning.

(3) I’ve been both running and riding my bicycle a lot, since I rely primarily on my bike to get to work.  Wednesday I both ran 2 miles in the morning and rode about 11 miles on the bike.  I feel a lot better when I exercise than when I don’t, and I am thankful I’m able to do it.

(4) Work is going so well, as far as my ability to coordinate complex connections in my head while conducting a choral rehearsal, I’ve pretty much let go of my earlier frustrations over not being able to find ADHD meds.  If a thing works, don’t fix it.

(5) There was a time last week when I was internally expressing frustration over always losing my socks. That night, there was an array of crew socks of varying design and color, sitting atop the table where food and hygienic items are usually placed at the Recovery Center. The next morning, I found two of my clean socks in the laundry room on top of the dryer. Grateful for the little ways God cares for me.

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Gratitude List 1843

(1) I’ve been reveling in the simple pleasures of life lately. One of them is the sensation I get if I drink nice cold water while chewing bubblegum. Very pleasant sensation, one I have noted since childhood.

(2) If I’m not mistaken, I believe I have the day off today. Beautiful weather too, though a shade overheated.

(3) On Sunday I agreed to music-direct a production of Guys and Dolls at the RTOP Theatre. Man, that score is fantastic–that Frank Loesser dude knew how to write a good show tune.

(4) Somehow managed to write a 1625 word column on free will for Tracy & send it to Dr Q for proofing, just a few minutes ago.

(5) Got paid yesterday. Whew.

“I have only made this letter longer because I have not had the time to make it shorter.”
— Blaise Pascal

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Gratitude List 1842

(1) Just logged on after running, push-ups & shower. I’m grateful for all three, but I feel especially thankful for the shower at this moment. There have been so many times in my life when, in order to take a shower, either I had to wait in a line for hours, or I had to share a shower with about 15 other guys in a residence hotel, many of them being intravenous drug users. I would often find cigarette butts carelessly tossed on the shower floor. That for five years now I have had my own shower less than 20 feet away from where I sit is not something to be taken for granted.

(2) Similarly, it’s nice to have my own kitchen, food in the fridge & in the cupboard, with positive liquids to be consumed after exercise. Right now I’m having a Gatorade. How many times did they ever serve us Gatorade? Coffee at feeds was awfully good and usually dished out profusely. But I think I must have drunk nothing but coffee & water for many years. Grateful for the option of good nutrition and the power to choose what I will eat, what I won’t, and when.

(3) Moreover, how many times when I was homeless did I have a closet full of clean clothes? And not only clean clothes, but clothes of my own choice? The types of clothing I like to wear? When I get around to making piano vids again, hopefully you will agree, I have a fairly reasonable wardrobe now.

(4) Unfortunately, I learned over the weekend that this thing they call PTSD is not going away. However I can honestly say I am grateful for the insights I have been receiving since the immediate storm has passed. I never realized before yesterday how many of the “triggers” have parallels in the themes engaged in my activism. My writing has taken off since the episode. So in a very weird way, I am grateful I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

(5) The Sound of Music closed yesterday to sold houses, standing ovations, and people being turned away at the door. It was an amazing group effort of total teamwork and trust. Also, may of the values uplifted in this iconic show are such as we could really use in today’s society. Maybe that’s why it sold out. I hope so, anyway. Cast party at 3pm today & looking forward to what’s next.

“It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.”
— Babe Ruth

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Gratitude List 1841

(1) Only 6:50 in the morning & I’m already back from my 2.6 mile run. First run in 11 days actually. Legs felt a little wobbly (like they hadn’t been running) but breathing was fine & in fact I got a second wind. Thankful for running & that I can still do it.

(2) Coffee tasted unusually good this morning at around 5:20, even though it was “only” the Folgers Classic Roast from the nearby 24 hour store. Nice to have good tasting coffee to start the day off right, especially after spending the first half hour of the day madly searching the house for my missing levothryoxine.

(3) We’re opening The Sound of Music this Wednesday at the RTOP Theatre. It’s been wonderful to have experienced all the goodness of this particular show, and the whole way it has become a huge team effort, with very little shuffling of egos. In fact it’s been wonderful working at RTOP and knowing the community effort. I really did wind up with a great bunch of people.

(4) 11:50am already, five hours ex post facto. It appears I am already up in Pullman WA and in fact right around the corner from the theatre, at a pleasant cafe where they make me feel most welcome. Prices are pretty good too, and I’m now having an apple juice–(liberating myself from my unconscious “coffee only” policy, for the time being.)

(5) Strikes me as a good thing that here I am in this vibrant new multicultural community this morning, about to explore whatever possibilities may wish to make themselves known. However this transition is to manifest–whether it means a car, or a new place to live, or what-have-you–it won’t manifest if I only sit idly at home all day. Here’s to New Beginnings.

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Gratitude List 1840

(1) Tracy just published my recent commentary on Roe v. Wade as it pertains to the state of Christendom in contemporary American culture, the tense in the final paragraph adjusted accordingly. I’m grateful for Tracy’s warmth in permitting me to express the views I developed while flying a sign for five years on a Berkeley city sidewalk. In am additionally grateful that the Spokane FaVs columnists will now be moving on to a more universal theme (that of “free will.”)

(2) Had an unusually nice 2.6 mile run along the Latah Trail this morning, fortified by a strong cup of Seattle’s Best Portside Blend prior to the jaunt. My legs are stronger from doubling up on my running since the “change of diet,” and I’m feeling vigorous, energized & ready to roll.

(3) Meeting with Kelsey Chapman this morning, the woman who did acting coaching for the Kids during the pandemic-driven workshop of Eden in Babylon. She’s recovered from Covid and is passing through town from Portland, Oregon on her way to visit her dad. It will be great to see Kelsey again, and I’m very thankful for her many years of devotion to my project.

(4) Thanking the quasi-anonymous donor from a somewhat different faith dimension who has not once, but twice, contributed to my well-being. You know who you are (and so do I) and thank you.

(5) I’m continuously grateful to be doing musical theatre with a bunch of great people on the team of the RTOP Theatre. For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.

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Viewpoint

I keep forgetting that I don’t want to publish my unconventional views on controversial subjects here. I’m getting my musical produced and I don’t need the heat. Tracy will publish that column eventually. If you want to see an expansion that may clarify my position, my articles No. 3 & 4 on the current state of Christendom in America will probably round it all out.

My views are based entirely on logic, the lessons of history, biblical research and prayer. I am also not the only person who holds such views. But I am so tired of the controversy. The solutions to our nation’s ills are found neither in the Christian Right nor the Christian Left but in God Himself. I pray America will turn to Him, as never before, en masse.

Gratitude List 1839

(1) Ran a really flowing four miles Friday night after midnight. Not a soul was in sight on campus and the temperatures had cooled to make it bearable. Thankful for what running can often effect in a person’s overall body/mind, and thankful I still have it in me.

(2) Couldn’t find my levothyroxine over the weekend and skipped three mornings in a row. Mercifully, though my insurance wouldn’t cover a replacement, they replaced it for only $5 on a sliding scale for poor people. (It would have been $3.70 with the insurance anyway, so it wasn’t a big difference.) Now if I find the others, I guess I’ll have five months worth on hand.

(3) Noticed I was irritable this morning, and I could feel the bags under my eyes. Thankfully, they let me fall asleep at my table at the cafe here, conveniently tucked away at a corner, with two walls I can lean on whilst I crash. When I awoke, it was like starting the day anew. I no longer felt the bags under my eyes, and the annoyances of the morning had faded into the past. Thankful for new beginnings.

(4) They’re going to come get me sometime between now and 5pm and take me up to RTOP. I’m glad. Having four sudden days off in a row didn’t sit well with me (though they don’t need to know that).

(5) When I was looking for my levo, I was reminded of the song “Levon” by Elton John. Hadn’t thought about it for years, but went to the piano and it came out pretty well. Still haven’t found the levo–but at least I found Levon.

The times are lean. Please help if you can.

Gratitude List 1838

(1) They gave me a night off last night, which really helped.  I was first asleep at 7:30, awoke at 10pm, then slept from midnight till 6:30 in the morning.   Ran 2 1/2 miles at 8am, barely beating the heat.  Thankful for good rest, good exercise, and good spirits.

(2) I’ve discovered a great thrift store in the area.  It’s a lot closer than Goodwill and much better stocked.  It’s the Hope Center.  I got nice pants, T-shirt, and button-down long sleeve for only $21 the other day.  Eager to go there when I have a paycheck and time on my hands, and procure a variety of appealing garments, at last.

(3) The D below Middle C has been fixed on the Baldwin Grand, so I’ll be able to head over to the church and record a piano piece pretty soon. (Will aim to post it tomorrow morning.)

(4) Tracy adjusted my byline for the publication in Spokane to include the information that Eden in Babylon has been sold to RTOP.   My About Page has also been duly adjusted.  But mostly I am relieved and grateful to have finally encountered professional musical theatre people who recognize me as a professional musical theatre person.  Thankful for the RTOP Theatre.

(5) Looks like I’m all set up in an air-conditioned cafe to start working on my columns. Looking forward to a gentle day preceding an exhilarating sing-thru of all songs with dance and movement, marking the halfway point of our four week rehearsal for The Sound of Music.  Things certainly could be–and have been–a lot worse.

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A little goes a long, long way.

Christendom Four and General News

Tracy went ahead and ran Christendom Four today. Many thanks to those who have helped me towards ad removal.

I’m faring fairly well this morning, though moving a bit slow after a brisk 24 mile bike ride yesterday. I made a list of things I have to accomplish from home in the next two days–all good stuff, including a music rehearsal schedule for The Sound of Music, a newly revised version of the Eden in Babylon libretto based on decisions made on Sunday, my monthly column for Street Spirit News, and three new songs on the Baldwin Grand so’s to release a new album of piano songs to the likely suspects.

I will at some point need to alter my home page, since all arrangements involving the production of my musical are essentially wrapped up in my relationship with the Regional Theatre of the Palouse. The reading and sing-thru held Sunday the 26th was the first of four or five we will conduct between now and May, while I’m also working on Guys and Dolls and South Pacific for them. After the season closes with South Pacific in April, we release the “package” in May–all materials needed to produce the show economically in a house of any size. This will include a fully recorded instrumental track of the entire score, to be used to accompany the singers while they are performing.

This all leads up to a production of Eden in Babylon at RTOP in Summer 2023. There was an unusually nice turnout for the reading on Sunday, and we hope that throughout the next year, more word will gradually get out, and chances of a high audience attendance will increase. All of this is of course if the Lord wills — but these guys seem to know what they’re doing. The producer and I are conceptually in sync, and it’s been a relief to let other people handle all the administrative details that have never been my forte.

Meanwhile, WordPress is still on the back burner. They’re hitting me for the domain name now too. I knew it was coming, but I’m not sure having a “domain name” is high on the list of life-priorties now. Putting it into perspective, if one considers that “seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” is one’s top priority in life, I would think that “domain name” falls fairly low on that roster.

I’ll be back again when I’m back, probably with those three piano songs. Thank you all once again for your support —

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Tuesday Tuneup 117

Q. Where would you like to be?

A. In a place of greater certainty.

Q. About what are you uncertain?

A. I still don’t know if I should stay here in Idaho or move closer to my job 12 miles down the road in Washington.

Q. Is it that hard to consistently get to a place only 12 miles away?

A. Let’s put it this way.   It’s so hard, that it becomes very frustrating when I am expressing my reservations, and people reply with ideas about what I “should” be reserved about instead.

Q. Why would they tell you what you “should” be reserved about?

A. Frankly, it’s because they all have cars, and they don’t empathize with the difficulties one has when one does not.

Q. Do you think it’s a class issue?

A. No.  It’s just that people identify most easily with situations that are akin to their present-day experience.

Q. Do you need for these people to identify with your situations?

A. No, no really.

Q. Do you need their empathy?

A. I’ll survive without it.

Q. Then what’s the problem?

A. The problem is that I’ve got a job I love in a city that I cannot consistently get to.  I can ride my bicycle, weather permitting.  How often is weather permitting?  Lately, less than half the time.  Then I’m forced to bum a ride off of someone,  unless I want to spend $30 on a round trip bus ticket.

Q. So why not get a car?

A. That’s what the other singing teacher asked me.  “How come you don’t drive?” she said.  And what was I supposed to say?

Q. Well why don’t you drive?

A. Because I don’t have a car!

Q. You mean, you can drive?

A. Last I checked, I could.

Q. Then why not buy a car?

A. I can’t afford a car.

Q. Did you tell that to the other singing teacher?

A. No–I was too embarrassed to admit it.   Also, it might have seemed crass.

Q. Don’t cars cost a lot of money?  Upkeep and all that?  Aren’t you merely one of many people who choose not to drive?

A. All that is true, yes.  But at some point one has to take a risk.  You know–make an investment.   Decide that if one has a car, one’s options will be so greatly increased, one will probably start making even more money than one is now, and then one can afford the car.  Not to mention, one will be able to see Seattle before one dies.  And Portland.  And maybe even cities further away.  How often have I been outside of the immediate neighborhood in the past six years? Not very often.

Q. Are you jealous of people who have cars?

A. No.

Q. Are you sure?

A. Yes.

Q. I sense an incomplete response.

A. Jealousy is not the word.  I’m frustrated with the statements that people make when they own automobiles and I don’t.   They underestimate the extent to which my transportation issues have reduced the scope of my being.

Q. What do you mean?

A. They don’t see transportation as being the main obstacle, because it isn’t their main obstacle.  So I feel disbelieved.  I sense they think I’m making a big deal over something fairly minor.

Q. Well, you are making a big deal out of it, aren’t you?

A. Right now I am, sure.  But that’s because it’s on my mind.

Q. If it’s on your mind talking to me, don’t you think it would be on your mind talking to them?  Don’t you think you might be talking too much about it –with them?

Pause.

A. You have a point.   Why should I make my problem their problem?

Q. Exactly.  They don’t care how you get to work, as long as you get there.

Pause.

A. I’m really having a hard time getting there.  That’s why I’m looking for an apartment closer to work.

Q. Any luck?

A. Maybe.   I was rigorously honest in my application.  I had tell them I had filed for bankruptcy at one point.  I had to tell them I haven’t always gotten my complete deposit back.   And like I said, I have no credit rating that anyone can access.  Haven’t used a credit card for almost twenty years now.

They do seem to like me though.  I guess I can just tell them, I prefer a simple life.  No car, no credit card, job close to home, home close to job.   And running trails and bike trails abounding!

Just think–no more “junk miles.”  No more having to walk and bike huge distances just for transportation.

I’ll actually get into shape.  I won’t be fat anymore.   I’ll settle down, no more stress from moving to another town, another State–and I’ll be closer to Spokane–and Seattle-and Vancouver.  I can keep moving further and further North, so in the event that POTUS 45 should become POTUS 47, I will have make the Great Getaway.

And then — I can expatriate.  This will no longer be the America to whose flag I once pledged sincere allegiance.   By that time, I will have written three books, two new musicals, and—

Q. And isn’t all that a lot better than stressing over why you don’t have a car?

A. Indeed it is.  But there’s just one thing . . .

Q. What’s that?

A. I am the only person I know, of anyone with whom I associate in real life who does not have a car.   One of the Professors I hang out with even has a Tesla.   And don’t you think the thought has crossed my mind that–

Q. That what?

A. With the money he spent buying that Tesla, he could have bought two cars half as dazzling–and given one of them to me.

Q. And if he had done so?

A. I would be beholden to him, for the rest of my days.

Q. We wouldn’t want that, would we?

A. No we wouldn’t.

Q. What do you conclude?

A. I conclude I should nail that apartment in Washington State–or one like it–and continue to live a life free of debt, free of credit, and free of automotive anxieties–in another town.

Q. What will you bring to this new town?

A. I will bring–myself.  Just as I am today!  Unaltered, except geographically.

Q. Have we solved your problem?

A. Almost.

Q. What remains?

A. I gotta land that pad, man!

Q. When will you know?

A. Soon.

The Questioner is silent.  

Ode to Song

This gig was extremely impromptu. I learned it was happening less than an hour before I showed. I have no idea why this song was going through my head.  I wrote  in the early 80’s because I remember where I was living at the time, in a trailer court.  Corrected lyrics are below the vid. Hope it works for you.

Since times I’ve been seeing
Your face in the town
I’ve been like the lonely
Who chase you around
I’ll run till I find you
Or sit still and long
For the moment till when I am bound
To turn my longing into Song.

Where was it that I saw you?
I know I seen you places
Downtown on the bricks of the buildings
Are traces of faces of you
And I know I saw you running
Down the roadside
At that moment of shine in the pouring rain
I saw you and you eased my pain

Since times I’ve been hearing
Your voice in the crowd
I’ve been like the restless
Who call you out loud
I’ll run till I find you
I’ll run till I’m strong
Run, I will run till the sight of you
Should grace my path with Song.

Where was it that I saw you?
I know I seen you places
Downtown on the bricks of the buildings
Are traces of faces of you
And I know I saw you running
Down the roadside
At that moment of shine in the pouring rain
I saw you and you eased my pain with Song

You built a might monument of Song
To reach the very pinnacle of Song
And fill this lonely universe with Song
I saw you and you eased my pain with Song
You built a might monument of Song
To reach the very pinnacle of Song
And fill this lonely universe with Song

Ode to Song from The Burden of Eden
© 1994, 2008 by Andrew Michael Pope.  

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Gratitude List 1825

(1) Though I’ve only done the 24 mile bike ride twice, I noticed it went much more smoothly the second time. I also find that I’m getting “addicted” to the course already—which in this case is a good thing. Finally, I’ve noticed that on the long open stretches, I have plenty of time to reflect, pray and plan. It’s good healthy solitude on that 12 mile trail.

(2) Got my Homeless No More column for June turned into Street Spirit News after much writer’s block. Interestingly, it was after I gave up and told the editor I wouldn’t have a column this month that I looked at it afresh—relaxed and free of deadline—and with new eyes the writer’s block was broken. I’m pretty sure this illustrates a spiritual principle, or three.

(3) Full reading and sing-thru of EDEN IN BABYLON is being scheduled at RTOP for a slot between mid-to-late June. Exact date not yet decided (still culling schedules, wanting both Keva and Cooper to be available.) Thankful that John Rich the Executive Director is letting us use the space.

(4) The Professors will be meeting at 5pm today to discuss the Resurrection. I will likely be the only person in the room who believes in it. It’s an exciting event and I am grateful to be included among the Professors. However, what I am most thankful for is the laryngitis I have, for it will assist me in biting my tongue.

(5) My rental application has been completed and submitted, with all pertinent fees paid. Thankful to have sought out a new apartment at a time when I was not desperate. Thankful for my present place to live, and looking forward to being the Musical Director of two or three shows in the RTOP 2022-23 season. Thankful, after all of these years, to have once again found people in my field who believe in me.

“Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country.”  
     — Anais Nin

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The Impossible Dream

This was in no way prior rehearsed, but Cody & I more-or-less spontaneously decided to do a rendition of “The Impossible Dream” for your listening contemplation. I think my friend Cody resonates very strongly with this particular theme. Enjoy.

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Tuesday Tuneup 116

Q. Where would you like to be?

A. I’m not sure.

Q. Why not?

A. Both places have merit and I’m not sure which is better.

Q. What places are you talking about?

A. My old apartment and my new apartment.   That is, if they decide to rent to me.

Q. Why would they not decide to rent to you?

A. Could be a number of reasons.  I don’t have a whole lot of references.   I was homeless for a long time.  If they ask for the last three landlords, we could be going back a while.   I don’t have a credit card or a credit rating.

Q. No credit rating?  How is that possible?

A. Security freezes were placed on my credit files in 2003, and I haven’t been able to figure out how to get them off.

Q. Why did they place security freezes on your credit files?

A. Identity theft.

Q. Someone stole your identity?

A. They tried to.   Anyway, I was given three 6-10 digit numbers, to be known only by me and each of the three credit bureaus.   That was 19 years ago.   12 of those years were spent being homeless and borderline-homeless in the Bay Area.   Do you think I memorized those pin numbers?

Q. Can’t you call them?

A. Whenever I call them, I have to prove that I am who I am, and not the identity thief.

Q. Is that impossible?

A. Probably not.

Q. Then why not call them?

A. I suppose I must.  It seems an arduous process and frankly I bailed on it due to its inapplicability to my life.   There’s never yet been a time in the past 19 years when I thought someone would need to run a credit check on me.

Q. Not when you landed your present place?

A. Interviewed with them at 4 in the afternoon one day, they called 9 the next morning to say “everything checked out.”  They couldn’t possibly have checked my references even in that period of time.  They just liked me.

Q. What about your iPhone?

A. It was a gift from a friend.

Q. What about cars?

A. What about ’em?

Q. You haven’t bought a car in 19 years?

A. Bought a car?  I haven’t even driven a car!!

Q. So you’re afraid you might not get the place because they can’t run a credit check on you?

A. Kinda.  But that’s fairly superficial.  I’m just going to tell them what I’ve told everybody else for the last 19 years, which is basically what I just told you.  I live in a debt-free world and I wanna keep it that way.   If it’s meant to be, they’ll rent to me.

Q. Do they like you?

A. Yes. And I like them.

Q. What about the place itself?

A. The place looks even better in real life than it did in the ad.  They call it a “studio apartment” but they could have gotten away billing it as a one-bedroom.   The bedroom is a separate room from a larger room that’s a combined kitchen and dining room.  There’s a bathroom in between on one side of a small hallway, and a large closet space adjoining the bedroom on the other.  Best part is that I’m on the top floor of three, one bedroom wall is to the back window with a view, the other to an outside wall of the house.   So the worry of bothering neighbors and vice-versa is fairly well eliminated.

Also of course it’s two blocks away from work.   My commute being so short, it will eliminate a lot of the “junk miles” I put in when I walk and ride my bike for transportation.  There are beautiful running trails abounding in the area, and I will soon be putting in real miles on the roads.   Being a pedestrian has really taken a chunk out of my training.  I’m eager to start exercising for real.  

Q. So if they accept your application, you will take the place?

A. Still not sure.

Q. Why not?

A. Like I said, both places have merit.

Q. What’s the merit of your present place?

A. Stability.  I’ve lived here longer than I’ve lived in any single living situation since the 90’s.    It’s stable.  I like the landlords, and they like me.  I’ve lived here nearly five years now.

Q. So if a thing works, don’t fix it?

A. Right.  The only reason it’s not working is because I can’t get to my job in a different town in another State very easily.   On a good day I can ride my bike.   We’ve had a lot of bad days lately, and I don’t like bumming rides.  Not to mention, the bus is $15 one way.

Q. What else?

A. The job doesn’t pay particularly well.

Q. Then why do you work there?

A. Because I love the craft, and apparently I’m a good worker among workers there.   I love musical theatre, but I also like these people in particular.   They’re honest, good people.  We communicate well, and I can trust them.

Q. But are you afraid that if you leave your present apartment, you might lose the new apartment?

A. Yes.

Q. Why?

A. For one thing, a lot of people these days are having a hard time keeping up.   For another thing, I’ve already been homeless, I’ve already lost more living situations than I can count.   Homelessness just — looms.  It always does — even here, where I’m thought to be stable.

Q. Who thinks you to be stable?

A. My landlord.

Q. And the new landlord?

A. Will have to take the old landlord’s word for it.

Q. Uh — do you want to move?

A. Not really.  I become sad when I think about it.

Q. Sad?

A. Yeah.   This place was supposed to become my home.    They said it was the Heart of the Arts.   But it’s not really.   Whenever I tried to get people interested in my show, I kinda got the feeling anyone who counted figured me for a semi-homeless dude on a weird trip.  I doubt they even read the script, or listened to the music.

Q. What about these new people?

A. This guy’s already talking about producing my show, practically on principle.   It’s a different vibe, these people are practical, businesslike, no nonsense.  I like that.  No academic fluff.   Specifically, I don’t have to worry about changing the word “homeless” to “houseless” every time it appears in the script.  They’re not caught up in the intellectual labyrinth.  They’re more real.

Q. Would you then conclude that the job, despite low pay, is  worth it?

A. I would.

Q, Then why not move?

A. Because I’m change-resistant.

Q. Is that a good thing?

A. No.

Q. Anything else?

A. It’s like this.   Just because I’ve been homeless a lot doesn’t mean that I have to stay here forever, whether things are working or not.  When it comes right down to it, I’m just afraid of taking the risk.

Q. So you’re thinking the right thing to do is to move?

A. Yes.  But again, they need to approve my application.   Today I’m putting down $100–a holding fee.  If they approve me, it will go toward the deposit.  Then I don’t have to worry about first-and-last till August 9th, when the place is available.   Many things can happen between now and then.

Q. And if they don’t approve your application?

A. Then I stay where I am.

Q. What about the job?

A. I guess I keep looking–either for a place to live, a car, or both.

Q. When was the last time you drove a car?

A. Almost twenty years ago.

Q. Are you afraid to drive?

A. No.

Q. Then why not get a car?

A. Cars cost money.

Q. But apartments also cost money, don’t they?

A. I believe the rent differential will be $70 in my favor on the studio apartment.   I gotta get this place cleaned up spick though.   It would be good to get the deposit back and make a smooth lateral move.

Q. Anything else?

A. I should only move if God wants me to move.   My own feelings are secondary.

Q. Why is that?

A. Because God’s always right, and I am often wrong.

Q. How can you find out if God wants you to move?

A. Something like this requires a threefold confirmation.  Not to be legalistic, but it ought to be confirmed in fellowship, in the Word, and in experience.   1 John 5 and all that.

Q. Has it been thus thrice confirmed?

A. I haven’t seen anything in the Word.   Only fellowship and experience have confirmed it.

Q. Fellowship?

A. Talking it over with my pastor for example.   He reminds me that mental health awareness will be greater in Washington than in Idaho.   Washington’s kinda a purple State, Idaho beet red.

Q. Experience?

A. The signs are telling me to move.

Q. Signs?

A. “Signs” isn’t quite the right word.   Scripture says:  “My sheep hear my voice.”   I heard his voice a couple times–three times actually, twice in close succession–and each time He was urging me to move.

Q. How did you hear His voice?

A. That I can’t explain.  But it’s the experience of hearing Him that keeps me believing.  His sheep hear His voice.

Q. Isn’t the Word where you usually hear him?

A. Yes.  “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”   But this time, no.  Three things happened, and each time they happened, something inside me said: “God is talking to me right now.”   I usually trust that.   It’s just that if it’s not confirmed in the Word, it could be a false voice, and imposter, etc.  

Q. Were you looking for a sign?

A. No.   I actually was not even going to consider moving until I heard His voice the first time.

Q. How did you hear His voice?

A. You asked me that already and the question is impossible to answer.   It’s like trying to prove there’s a God.  It’s not possible.   It’s something that is repeatedly confirmed in experience.  This is why we remain Christians and this is why the world thinks we’re crazy.

Q. Crazy?

A. That’s another thing!   These people do NOT treat me like I’m crazy!

Q. Has somebody recently been treating you like you’re crazy?

A. Yes but they don’t know they’re doing it.

Q. Why don’t they know?

A. Beats me.  I can just tell that they think their treatment of me is reasonable, but it’s really not.   But I stopped talking to them about it long ago.  It just started to feel pointless.

Q. Is there a sense in which you may be escaping these people by moving to another town?

A. I fear that.   This is why I need more confirmation.

Q. When was the last time God spoke to you through the Word?

A. You mean directly, specifically, majorly?   About three months ago, I think.  I read something about Moses and drew a parallel to my life, and I got that sense again, I “heard His voice” — it’s inexplicable but I heard it.

Q. What did He say?

A. I really don’t want to tell you.   Not sure how we got off onto any of this, quite frankly. I appreciate your line of questioning, but some of this stuff is, well–personal.  It’s not meant to be shared.  Let’s focus on the living situation–and maybe reconvene next week.

The Questioner is silent. 

Gratitude List 1824

(1) Ran two miles for the second day in a row and noticed that if I run the first mile purposely slower than I would like to, the second mile goes much more smoothly. Thankful for the relearning of old lessons.

(2) This wonderful fellow named Tim who teaches Hebrew at a religious college dropped what he was doing the other day to join me in a discussion around Genesis Three. I love it when this happens, especially when Dr. Kurt is away on sabbatical. I just don’t run into too many people with whom I can engage intelligent discussions around Holy Scripture.

(3) The Associate Director at the company where I work suggest I might music-direct three traditional American musicals for them next year. Totally down to MD all three — The Sound of Music, Guys and Dolls and South Pacific. However, transportation issues to another city in another State have been so consuming that my answer was: “I’ll do it if I can find a place to live that’s just around the corner.”

(4) Couldn’t find any apartments for less than $700 in that town till one studio at $460 leaped out at me. Checked the map and it’s exactly two blocks away from the company–and not in a seedy downtown area either. Up a hill in a residential district. Also, I don’t need first-and-last but a single $300 security deposit. I’ve got an interview with the landlord on Monday at 4:30.

(5) Figured I should run it all past my pastor. First thing he interjected was this: “Mental health services and benefits will be better in the State of Washington than the State of Idaho.” He’s got a point–a pretty sharp point, in fact. All in all, it does seem that greener pastures are right around the bend. For such, one cannot help but be grateful.

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
— Thomas Edison

Trapped

I wish I were self-sufficient in terms of my transportation needs–to the point where I never have to be a passenger in someone else’s car again.

A columnist friend was driving me to work because he worked in the same town. This left me in town early but I did not mind. It got me there.

What I minded was when he objected to a column that another friend of mine had written, seeming not to understand the column, and saying some rather unkind things about its author, whom I very much respect.

At that time, I strongly desired not to be in the car, and not to be having that conversation. But what was I supposed to do? Roll down the window and jump out?

He was the driver. I was the passenger — and trapped.

As for the friend who wrote the column, she too is a driver. As it happened, I asked her if she wanted to go see a show on Friday night. I’d pay the tickets and she would drive.

“Sure!” she agreed — moments before seeing a column of mine posted on Facebook, upon which she then commented.

Not sure if she had read the whole column at that stage, as she was commenting on a statement in the lengthy “lead” to the column. I’m also not sure how ambiguously the lead was worded–but she is the only person who interpreted in a way that I had not intended. I explained what I had meant to say — or tried to — and then she disappeared.

The tenor of the reaction was such that I now anticipate getting into this person’s car and immediately embarking upon an intellectual or theological argument of some kind that will then make me want to climb out of the window of that car!

I think what I’ll do is just tell her how much I defended her column against the allegations of the columnist in the first car whose window I wanted to climb out of.

The moral of the story can only be one of three things:

(1) Get a car.

(2) Move to Washington State where your job is.

(3) Stop writing columns and hanging out with journalists.

Any deeper morals out there? Your call.

Gratitude List 1822

(1) It was only after I took the first sip of my morning cup of coffee that I got the idea to make this gratitude list. This present cup tastes so much better than any previous cup has tasted in quite some time, I find myself moved to tell the world about it. (I am also about isolating exactly HOW it got to taste QUITE this good – as I would like to repeat the experience, someday.)

(2) Doing the first show I’ve done in 14 years (not counting workshopping my own musicals) has awakened the Sleeping Theatre Person who somehow all this time has failed to be rousted, while sleeping fitfully deep inside my soul. It’s been wonderful working with professionals from all over the country, and especially wonderful working on PIPPIN, for the beauty of the Stephen Schwartz score, and all the many life-messages PIPPIN sends us throughout the charming script.

(3) Also wonderful having a weekend off, though I slept most of the day yesterday. (Maybe that’s why the coffee tastes so good.)

(4) In the past twenty-four hours, I’ve listened to three unusually strong sermons, coming from different pastors, two of whom I’d never heard of before. One was about what happens beyond death, one was about the dynamics of prayer, and this morning I’m listening to a sermon on authority (which I appear to be resisting at the moment.) I do want to say I’m thankful for the YouTube spiders, in this case.

(5) One more day off, and three more days till PIPPIN opens this Thursday. I’m behind on three columns I somehow have not felt like writing, but today I have managed to finish a draft of one of them.  Today is also my birthday, which would be just another day, were it not for these observations. Life is a lot different than it was five or ten years ago. I am younger in body, soul and heart.

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Gratitude List 1821

(1) We’re getting off to a great start in the third week of our five week rehearsal period for the musical Pippin.  I’m very much enjoying the professional atmosphere at the regional theater company I’ve been so fortunate to have discovered.

(2)  It was good having the weekend off.  On Sunday I worked with Karlie, who knows all her parts for the three-part harmonies she’s going to sing over herself.  Here’s a recording of her singing the low part to the scratch track of Ode to the Universe that I’ve created with my music production software.   You can probably see where it’s headed if you use your imagination, and Karlie is a joy to work with.

(3) There’s an Open Mike every Monday night at a club around the corner from the theatre.   They’ve got a full length Young Chang concert grand, one of the better pianos I have had a chance to play.   They gave me three songs to close the place.  I did My Heart Belongs to Daddy, then Cody sang “Hunted” from Eden in Babylon, and finally I did “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”  Looking forward to going back next week.

(4)  My new therapist is really working out very well.   This morning I’ll have the fourth session of the five I committed myself to, and I am really looking forward to it.  She gave me a good book called Shame and Guilt: Masters of Disguise and she is in all manners a competent and in fact gifted therapist — quite a contrast to the last three I tried.  .

(5) Just letting you know I am presently creating this gratitude list on the new MacBook Pro I got on a $550 steal from Backwater.    So far I am having the same experience as when I graduated from the Android to the iPhone.  I simply never want to go back and use a Windows machine again.  (Guess I’m addicted to the fancy colors.)   Grateful for all the good gifts God gives us, in good time.

Every good gift, every perfect gift, comes from above.  These gifts come down from the Father, the creator of the heavenly lights, in whose character there is no change at all.– James 1:17

 

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Emoji Culture

Dear Popular Culture:

I really have no idea why, over the past few years, the excellence of the English language has been soiled by the use & overuse of ridiculous-looking comic symbols and icons called “emojis.”

I have seen highly intelligent people burst forth with a Facebook comment and add about five or ten identical emojis of indiscernible meaning or value to their posts. What exactly are these emojis intended to convey? Is this supposed to be “fun” or something? I find it completely annoying.

Worse is the phenomenon of the “moving emoji” which will actually rotate back and forth on the screen. Those of us who have been blasted with severe ADHD are then drawn to the moving symbol on the screen, and (at least in my case) can no longer effectively focus on any other word or image on the entire screen.

IDK maybe I’m just getting grouchy in my old age. But it just seems that the world of modern technological devices can be over-stimulating enough as it is, without having to stimulate us much further.

Also, when I begin to think this way, I ponder the time-honored value of getting out into Nature, soaking in the vibes, listening to the wind & the birds and watching the panorama of Beauty dancing across the screen of the sky.

I’ve even pondered how beautiful it would be to die in Nature. Saying my prayers of thanksgiving before the stars, thanking the Almighty for a job well done.

Fat chance. If this ludicrous culture keeps moving in the direction it’s going, I’ll die of a sudden stroke once some drunken Facebooker throws a 3-dimensional moving emoji at me from out of my computer screen.

Off the grid & fast.
Andy OUT

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Gratitude List 1820

(1) It was a nice feeling just now walking into my landlord’s office to pay my rent a wee bit late with fee.  There was no sense of reprimand or stern warning as may have transpired elsewhere in the past.   Instead, I enjoyed a gentle chit-chat about this-and-that, before we each went our respective ways.

(2) If what’s written on the blackboard in front of me is any indication, I would say that reasonable sayings are emerging from the mouths of University of Idaho students these days.  I see at least three:

“You don’t stop wars by jumping into them.”
—  “People love people who love people.”
—  “The greatest enemy of clear language is insincerity.”

(3) Worked 16 1/2 hours last week not counting travel time to and fro.  Mainly finished the first week of a five week rehearsal period for the musical PIPPIN.  It’s been neat meeting singer/actors from all over the country who have converged upon this tiny town in Washington in order to do the show.   Very talented bunch of very nice people.   I love the music too, how much of it is highly spirited with a Gospel flair without being directly religious.  Cool music, and I also am enjoying teaching the young piano students they gave me.

(4) CDC determined out County is “in the green” which makes me feel slightly better about County-wide lifting of mask mandates.  There is definitely a more lively spirit in the area, especially for a Monday.  I still content myself to hide out in a distant corner table of the coffeehouse, where I would like to hide out, pandemic or no.  Nice to have a quiet home-away-from-home, for the time being.

(5) Though no one has turned in any tracks for the Oracle Sequence yet, I’m confident they will do so within the next twenty days before their deadline.  If not, I’ll have been informed, and there will still be three months left in which to switch gears.   Interesting how the project is put into perspective by my doing a show at the time.  I’m now in the same mode as everyone else on board, rather than in an isolated function.  Good to be part of the gang.

“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.”
      — Coretta Scott King 

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Gratitude List 1819

(1) I’m grateful for how peaceful and quiet is right now in Room 33 at the church. Often I am frustrated when a friend calls me as I’m out and about, and I can’t find a single spot to relax and listen, where I can actually hear what they’re saying. Grateful for this spot and for the occasional phenomenon of “peace and quiet” in general. With a mind as noisy as mind, external quietude can be a real blessing.

(2) A brief conversation with my pastor reminded me what an extraordinarily good listener he is. Not many people would have understood what I was saying, let alone have been able to empathize. I’m happy to have found this church.

(3) The second therapy session furthered my feeling that this therapist is particularly outstanding among all therapists I’ve tried. Stuff is already emerging that’s causing me to take a step back and think about how I’ve been going about things lately, as well as throughout my life in general.

(4) First night at PIPPIN rehearsal went very well and was informative. The only downer is that I have to play one of those modern electronic pianos, instead of the time-honored old Hamilton clunker I’m used to using to get the “boom-chuck” that is the hallmark of American show tunes. If you’re on the older side, you might identify. They all thought I did just great. Me, I left the theatre thinking: “I need four things: a hearing aid, reading glasses, a water bottle, and an acoustic piano.” Seriously, I am thankful for the opportunity.

(5) After living in a city composed almost entirely of White people throughout the past five or six years, it was refreshing to be in a city where I encountered people of different races and cultures. The gentle drizzle and cloudy sky, combined with hills and a metropolitan flair, reminded me quite a bit of San Francisco. After rehearsal, I went to an Open Mike at a very large, sophisticated pub with un upstairs section and several dining floors. I got to play a Young Chang concert grand – one of the finest pianos I’ve ever played. The experience was an eye-opener. There’s a lot more to life outside the curious little hamlet where for almost six years I have been so pleased to dwell. But if I were to move anywhere, how long would it be before I became homeless again? I don’t have a very good track record of holding on to living situations. I am grateful for my community, my apartment, and the love I have found in the city where I was born.

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Gratitude List 1818

(1) I have been offered a position as Assistant Musical Director of the musical PIPPIN at a regional theatre in Washington State. They also want me to teach singing at their Academy, have arranged for transportation for me to and from my home in Idaho, and have told me that they are interested in my musical.

(2) Hard to top that one, but my Harvey’s Tune has been sent to Harvey Brooks the composer and is sitting on the top of his timeline. My friend George shared it, and a friend of his is a friend of Harvey’s, so it landed with Harvey pretty quickly.  (He hasn’t heard it yet or said anything about it.)

(3) My column on the so-called Afterlife has been published at Spokane Faith and Values.

(4) Found a decent piano tuner who wasn’t overbooked and got my home piano tuned for the first time in about three years.   Really sounds great now, and I’m preparing to do recordings from home.

(5) During an unusually communicative conversation, Keva revealed that if I were to give her a definite deadline, she would be sure to have her work turned in by that day.  She agreed to a deadline of March 27th,.  I then told her to be sure to wish me a Happy Birthday on that day, because it would likely be the best birthday present I have ever received.

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Gratitude List 1817

(1) It’s a new day.

(2) Grateful for Spokane Faith and Values and in particular for the current Afterlife Series.    I was able to pitch in with my own take on the concept, and am fascinated with all the different ideas people are propounding.  I very much enjoy the discussions all the interesting journalists and religious figures I have met there.  It feels good to be respected and for my opinions to be considered.  But it feels even better to be among people who can disagree with each other, not only without fighting each other to death, but actually enjoying the great diversity of opinions that we, as thinking human beings, tend to form.   God bless them all.

(3) People are really nice to me here in this curious little hamlet — even people whom I am afraid may regard me only as a weird freak on strange trip.   This really is a pretty cool town.

(4) Saw a fabulous production of Stephen Sondheim’s COMPANY at the Regional Theatre of the Palouse on Saturday, thanks to my friend Cody who drives.  I rarely leave the area (or even my house for that matter) but this time I’m glad I did.   It’s a show about marriage, and I happened to have been the Assistant Musical Director of the first nonprofessional production of it as in 1972.   Fifty years ago, yet I remembered practically every word and note.   Excellent production in a wonderful little theatre.  I got to sit second row orchestra.

Cody and I played and sang two songs from Eden in Babylon in the Green Room after the show, and the Artistic Director emailed Cody today to ask what my name was to see if he can get me on staff at R-Top.   When one door closes, another one opens.  I sure enjoy teaching singing.   Thankful for Cody too, that’s two jobs in a row he’s got me.

(5) Not sure which of three blessings to report, so I’ll capsulize.  I had a great four mile run on a beautiful afternoon on Friday, had a great conversation with one of my previous pastors (and it turned my head around), and I am starting in with a new therapist tomorrow at ten.   She says she will advocate for my true diagnosis with my new doctor once she’s convinced what it is.   She and the doctor are both runners, and that somehow seems it will help.   Looking forward to a new chapter in this surprisingly new life.

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