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.  My boss 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.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

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

Please donate to Eden in Babylon, if you will.

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

Please chip in a little at this time.

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.

Please consider contributing at this time.

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.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

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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Daddy

Last night we held our second open mike at the One World Cafe since prior to the pandemic. I did three tunes and may upload the other two later.  (For now, “Daddy” should suffice.) Sound design by David Harlan, filmed by Jens Hegg.   Enjoy.

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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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Gratitude List 1816

(1) In trying to make close male friends since I’ve been up here in Idaho, I have noticed that — while I don’t seem to be making close male friends — I do seem to be meeting some very interesting men with unique ideas.  These guys are also very accepting of me and my own sometimes unusual ideas.   They may not be particularly interested in sharing personal matters with me, but that’s fine.   I’m getting tired of sharing my personal matters with people anyway.   That is to say, the subject is getting old and boring.  Grateful for all the interesting and unique people whom I’ve met up here in Idaho.

(2) Another thing about life up here that’s different and better than how things were before is this.   I’m not thought of as a person who does not have something to offer.   It’s hard to describe what a wonderful feeling this is, when I had gotten so used to being thought of as someone who was worthless — who not only had nothing to offer to society, but who would leech off of society and steal from society at the slightest opportunity.   But after over five years of living here, that memory — of it being assumed that I was worthless –– is beginning to fade.

(3) I notice I’m not nearly as uptight this morning as I’ve been for quite some time.   Probably this is due in part to a sense of accomplishment and of letting go of “ownership” of the scratch track that I finally sent out to everybody involved in the Oracle Project yesterday, with or without disclaimers.  I also don’t mind if you listen to it (otherwise I wouldn’t have linked to it) but don’t expect super-musicality.  It’s just a device to keep all the singers and musicians on beat until we replace it with something else.  (But it does illustrate the entire Oracle Sequence from start to finish.)  Anyway, feeling less uptight, and like I have more personal space to enjoy life, aside from my various deadlines and commitments.

(4) One more thing about the scratch track.  Although the software can barely replicate real rock sounds from my score, and although the rock effect in “The Word from Beyond (Reprise)” is particularly dismal, the representation of the main Oracle Theme (first appears at 5:00, then is developed from 6:15 to 8:15) is unusually accurate.    There is even a sense of it being emotionally moving in places — and this is very encouraging to me.

(5) Time for a cup of coffee.  My ex-wife always said it made me “stop babbling.”   Grateful to have a nice Black and Decker coffee maker and a nice kitchen in which to make a nice cup of coffee every morning.   Grateful that I no longer have to wait down a stairway outside an old church building having orders barked at me by an angry security guard before being permitted up the stairway into a long line with a bunch of other caffeine-deprived homeless people before finally being dished out my morning cup of coffee by the same angry security guard.   I will say that the angry security guard sure knew how to make a good cup of coffee — otherwise why would I have been waiting in that line?  I mean, really?  (Think about it.)

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Gratitude List 1815

(1) This coffee tastes so good right now, the very first sip reminded me I wanted to sit down and write a gratitude list.

(2) Weather has been so unexpectedly nice lately, with the snow melting all about. One wants to take a ten mile bike ride to the nearest college town in the most adjacent State. Yesterday I walked six miles; and though still crunching in the snow, I found it to be salutary.

(3) Can’t help but be grateful for this nice out-of-the-way apartment, and for all the wonderful opportunities it affords me – especially as contrasted with many living situations and non-living situations in the past.

(4) Working with Karlie on the three-part harmonies on Sunday was a welcome reprieve from all this self-isolation. I was able to get a clearer perspective on how this project appears in the greater picture, to others who are involved, not just the way it often appears through my own somewhat tainted prism of perspective.

(5) Finally finished the fifteen minute “scratch track” that is to be provided to all singers, musicians and technical personnel on board the Oracle Project. I’d been absorbed in it for nearly two weeks now. Turns out to be 17:45 which appears to be the current duration of the Oracle Sequence. This includes all the many tempo changes and key changes, everything correct, exactly true to score. Once the singers and musicians complete their parts, the scratch track will gradually be replaced by a much more sophisticated soundtrack. So as of today–as of submitting the scratch track–the dynamics of the Oracle Project have changed. I’m grateful to be moving on into the next phase.

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Gratitude List 1814

(1) You know you’re losing it when you plug the laptop charger into the kitchen wall socket, somehow thinking it will help you boil a pot of coffee. Grateful for the good laugh I got when I finally realized what I was doing.  Coffee tastes good too — Guatemalan, I believe.

(2) Feeling threatened by today’s deadline on my new monthly column for Street Spirit News, I surprised myself by cranking out a decent rough draft yesterday afternoon.  Grateful for the gig, and glad to be working with Alastair Boone once again.  

(3) Encouraging conversation with Norman, the pastor at First Pres, after church yesterday.  We decided that wearing masks has helped us to develop our reading of each other’s eyes — a useful skill that was left largely undeveloped during the days when we got to see the whole face.  (Mathew 6:22 comes to mind).  He also said he’d read a study where a majority of people now believe a masked face is “prettier” than a face without a mask.  (I immediately came up with two reasons why this could be true — but we can leave that for future discussion.)  We talked a bit about certain kinds of sports — “sports of aim,” I call them.  The book Zen in the Art of Archery came to mind.  Wonderful intelligent conversation with a very intelligent man.

(4) Had a great time on Friday driving around with Jodie, the pastor of the United Church.  She reminds me of myself somewhat — the things I like about myself, that is.  Same Myers-Briggs type and astrological sign, too — not that I put much stock in the latter.  (The former can be fun, though.)

(5) Keva Shull returned to the project last week, under terms with which I gladly agreed (since I’d come up with same terms, for all players, myself.) Matt came back a few days later, and now all the Kids are back. The Oracle Project is picking up steam, and I’m grateful to have found a group of talented young Performing Artists who believe in me. At this time in my life, it doesn’t get much better than that.

Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be attained.
–Marie Curie

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M.I.A. Update

I’ve been way too absorbed in trying to prepare a sophisticated yet flexible “scratch track” for all the solo singers and musicians to utilize to help them record all their parts remotely, from wherever they are, while sheltering in place.

This process has been assaulted by numerous attacks against my sanity, including the inexplicable loss of my phone service when once again I was confused for the person who gave me the phone a number of years ago. This time however I am unconvinced I can get the problem resolved.

The disturbing events did however inspire a new podcast that I hope to publish tomorrow, prior to my Monday gratitude list in which I will announce, among other great news, that Keva Shull has returned to the project.

Really into editing the podcast right now, but I believe the scoring of bass parts is a priority. I’ll post it tomorrow sometime, assuming I meet the self-imposed deadline that it is against my spiritual principles to have created.

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Gratitude List 1812

(1) Oracle Project blasted off yesterday like a rocket ship. Click to hear the voice of Karlie Smith who is singing all three of the Three Girls harmonies — with bluesy improv when appropriate. I’m also very much enjoying working with George Petersen, who was executive editor of Mix Magazine – a leading magazine in the Sound Industry — for twenty years and an expert on Sound Design.

(2) Finally started moping over the snowfall and ran yesterday in 22F degree weather in my spikes — and on thin ice to boot. It was a life-changing experience, and I am far more enthused for living as a result.

(3) Once again I am thankful to have this peaceful secluded one-bedroom apartment, a true shelter in the snowstorm. Also arranged my two functional computers so that the work laptop (which can be taken out of the house) is in the living room and the other computer in the bedroom. I’ve compartmentalized it so that I only work on the living room laptop and do all things restful or recreational in the bedroom.

(4) If I mentioned this earlier, I’ll mention it again. My wallet, lost for over six months, was located by a total stranger ten miles away on the Palouse River when she was looking for a geocache. She messaged me on Facebook to ask if I were the Andy Pope having that street address. The wallet was trashed, but all six of the plastic cards were fully functional, and my photo Id and vaccination card are still intact. I’d only replaced the ID and a single debit card. Now I have library card, Safeway card, Winko’s card, Hope Center card, PayPal debit card and two debit cards as well as an alternate photo ID. Michelle was kind enough to soak all the cards in warm soapy water and wrap the worldly-worn vaccination in plastic before she drove to my house and gave them to me. I didn’t know what to say, so I asked God to bless her and gave her a free Hyfrydol CD.

(5) I can’t say how warm my heart became when I attended a 15-member Zoom meeting last Thursday evening. It consisted of myself and 12 of the main contributors to Spokane Faith and Values, as well as two invited onlookers. I was taken by Steve Smith, retired professor of journalism, and the resident FaVs atheist. I also very much enjoyed the fellow who represented the Bahai Faith. The one evangelical Trump supporter stood up under considerable fire from myself, a non-Trump supporting evangelical, and Dr. Smith. All of us got to know each other better, and I went to bed that night believing that I am truly among friends.

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Gratitude List 1811

(1) If I ever start going stir-crazy from staying alone indoors too much — as I did earlier this morning — all I need remember is that a single walk to the corner store and back along the freezing snowscape last night was sufficient to bring me home singing songs of gratitude that I don’t have to sleep in it.   Thankful for the roof I’ve been able to keep over my head for over four years now, and thankful for a positive relationship with my landlord.

(2) A Broadway singer-actor who teaches at the Yale School of Music and has a bio on Wikipedia gave me a complete commitment to sing the male lead vocals on the Oracle Sequence.   Keyword is Broadway.  (Let that sink in.)

(3) My daughter and I are getting along better than ever, after both of us having realized that the best way for us to communicate is in successive voice texts on our respective iPhones.   We’re even getting to know each other better, and I find myself letting my hair down at times, as well.

(4) Yesterday I received $200 more in donations to the Oracle Production Project, now topping $1000 of the $6000 desired by March 1st.  Also received a final (?) paycheck from the United Church along with the $50 bonus given to all staff members as well as $100 “just because.”  Pastor Jodie has a very big heart and is a wonderful human being.  I still however find that I am much more competent doing things like this, and if I can find two more singing students who treat me as kindly as Zazen does, I’ll comp the money lost from the church gig without having to step outside my door.

(5) Despite the doctor’s verdict that my levothyroxine dosage should be upped from 137 to 175, I have examined myself carefully enough to know that I have still never experienced any symptoms of hypothyroidism, throughout all this time — even going weeks or months without, when I was homeless.  Furthermore, about an hour after I took it at night-time, I noticed such a drastic negative mind-altering effect that I found myself speaking in Christian terms: “This substance, whatever it is, is not of God.”  On the other hand, though it’s a strain to imagine Jesus having a morning cup of coffee, I find myself thanking Him for the experience.  Enough said.

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On My Own

I won’t have the podcast about my Christian experience ready for a few more days. I’ve been getting feedback from a couple other people and it just doesn’t seem ready to post yet. Parts of it would be unintelligible to anyone who doesn’t know me well, and I need to make it simpler.

Why don’t you soak in my student Zazen’s rendition of “On My Own” from LES MISERABLES in the meantime.  This is from our lesson on Monday — so it’s highly informal.

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Podcast Update

I like to post podcasts on Wednesdays but I was up late editing and lost a whole lot of edited work. I’m re-editing now and it may be best if I post the podcast tomorrow morning. (I did learn something from the experience and have created an organizational tool that will help prevent such mishaps in the future.)

The podcast will be an attempt to explain why I believe as I do, and how I came to Christ. It may be a little wild from some people’s perspectives but it’s about time I did this so I won’t be confused for someone I’m not. (If that makes sense.)

Anyway I’ll first run it past other Christians of the Reformed leaning and you may expect tomorrow morning at 7:30 PST.

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Gratitude List 1810

(1) Mercifully, I got my ride to Winko’s on the 2nd of the month this year (so I wouldn’t keep squandering my monthly grocery money at the nearby A&W.) Cupboards are all stocked up and shelter-positive. Furthermore, I made it all the way through the month last month on one trip to Winko’s.

(2) The Oracle Project appears to be taking form. The pastor at First Pres okayed 20 consecutive Sundays in the room housing the Great Green Piano, last night a Broadway singer-actor with a bio on Wikipedia expressed interest in singing the part of the male protagonist, three of the Kids from the previous workshops have hopped on board, and today we received an unexpected $500 donation.

(3) Thankful for Ashley Peterson. Period.

(4) It looks like my daughter and her boyfriend have landed a nice two bedroom on the Russian River, far away from the high crime district where they currently live in Oakland, California.

(5) Tomorrow is the day when I will be seeing a new doctor, strongly recommended by three members of my church. Hopefully I will have a regular personal physician for lab work, etc., and hopefully he will in some way realize that I have Severe ADHD, that this transcends any other diagnosis, and that we will together find treatment that works.

“Tis a lesson you should heed, try, try again.
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, and try again”.
    — Thomas H. Palmer 

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Gratitude List 1809

(1) This is the second day in a row that I awoke in an insanely good mood for no clear reason.

(2) Prayer works. A number of people in the local arena began to trouble me over the holidays. When I finally got around to praying for them (like I’m supposed to do, Luke 6:28 and all), something changed. What changed was that I began to see the innocence of their hearts, and I developed compassion. Since before praying, I basically hated their guts; and since after praying, I began to see them as fellow, hurting human beings, I would say that prayer works.

(3) Grateful for having reconnected with a theatre composer whom I worked with many years ago. He must be in his 80’s by now. He’s had nice things to say about some of the music I’ve written lately, and I’ve set my SoundCloud to always play his “six piano pieces”‘ by default.

(4) More money in the fundraiser. But I also just realized that it’s almost 2002 already! I better craft a detailed budget and rehearsal schedule and get on the ball here. Daylight’s burning, and I keep slacking. Definitely grateful for Karlie, who obviously knows how to sing. She may not exactly be you-know-who, but she’ll do her homework, show up on time and do the job.

(5) Tracy having published my somewhat edited column last night, I was pleasantly surprised to hear from a dear friend of mine, a gay man whom I know from Musical Theatre,. who happened to read it and was highly approbational. What I was mostly grateful for in Part One of the series is that I got agreement from left-leaning Christians, right-leaning Christians, and unbelievers alike. In this era of division, that’s the kind of thing that thrills me. Hopefully this one will also “fly” — though I had considerably more difficulty with it. Anyway – on to Part Three.

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