Tuesday Tuneup 123

Q. Where would you like to be?

A. I’m not sure.

Q. How can you become sure?

A. By thinking it through completely.

Q. By thinking what through completely?

A. All the factors of getting my show produced, maybe getting my job back, and all that.

Q. How does getting your show produced relate to getting your job back?

A. Darn it! This is why I wish I had a therapist.

Q. What do you mean?

A. You ask me all these questions. What I need are strong, solid suggestions.

Q. If you found a therapist other than me, would they offer you strong, solid suggestions?

A. Hm . . . come to think of it, most of them only ask me questions. Okay you win.

Q. Now once again: what is the relationship between the production of the musical and your job?

A. The job’s a musical job. A theatre company needed a singing teacher, a piano teacher, and a musical director. They hired me to do all three, but I had to leave early in the middle of the third show–for health reasons. The idea is that I’m supposed to become healthy again and come back when I am.

The musical is–well, a musical. After I did a decent job on the first show, they approached me with an offer to produce my musical.

Q. How did that feel?

A. You already know. I’d been working on this musical since 2009. The production of this musical has been a life’s dream. I was overjoyed. Words failed me. I walked alone in nearby Nature for an hour, with tears in my eyes, and silently thanked the Lord.

Q. Then what happened?

A. Well, I had the health issue, and I had to leave the job, on very short notice.

Q. Does that mean they won’t produce the musical?

A. I don’t know.

Q. Why don’t you know?

A. They won’t tell me.

Q. Why not?

A. They don’t say.

Q. Why do you think that is?

A. Probably because they themselves do not know. Since I left for health reasons, how can they know when I will be healthy again? Or even if I will be healthy again?

Q. But do you have to be in good health for them to produce your musical?

A. Of course not! I could be dead and they could still produce the musical!

Q. Then what’s the problem?

A. The problem–as I see it–is that they don’t want to do the show unless I am also there on hand. I would need not only to be the musical director of my own show, but of most of the other shows as well.

Q. And they won’t let you do that?

A. Not if they don’t think I’m well.

Q. Do you want to do that?

A. I don’t know. If I return to a job that made me unwell, and nothing is different, it could make me sick again.

Q. Wait — did the job make you unwell?

A. I just said that, didn’t I?

Q. Put it this way: did any of the details of the job make you unwell?

A. No. I can’t say that the job details were in any way toxic. This is work that I generally enjoy.

Q. Did any of the people on the job make you unwell?

A. I think so, yes. There were a couple guys whose personalities were challenging,

Q. Did they say inside their hearts: “Let’s make Andy sick?”

A. What are you driving at?

Q. What is your favorite chapter in the Gospel of Mark?

A. Well, that certainly came from left field! I would say probably Mark Seven. It’s the one I most often quote.

Q. What did Jesus say in Mark Seven?

A. Um . .. well, for one thing, he said: “There is nothing entering into the man from outside him that can defile him. It is that which comes out of the man that has power to defile him.”

Q. So did these two guys outside you have the power to make you sick?

A. You’re not saying I’m the one who made myself sick, are you?

Q. Let’s put it this way: whose responsibility is your health?

A. God’s!

Q. Not your own?

A. Well I can participate in it. I run, I don’t smoke tobacco cigarettes, I don’t hang out in bars. But God has the final say in such matters. He holds the keys to sickness and health, and to life and death.

Q. Did God make you sick?

A. Yes. The sudden sickness was not my doing.

Q. Are you healthy now?

A. I certainly think so.

Q. You don’t know?

A. How can I know? I can tell you I feel good. I can tell you my vital signs are good. But this is not about physical health. It’s about mental health. How can I possibly gauge the health of my own mind?

Q. If you can’t, who can?

A. Society.

Q. How so?

A. Society is the entity that judges whether people are sane or insane. I could avoid human beings for the rest of my days, sit here and score my music and write my columns, and no one would be the wiser. But if I tell another human being I have a mental health disorder, they will then begin to look for signs of it–whether they know anything about it or not. They will no longer see me as sane, whether I am sane or not. In this manner, I become insane–in their eyes. The people of this society have become the judges of the crazy. In my own mind, I am always eminently sane.

Q. In other words, your recent employers are going to be the ones to assess your sanity?

A. Yup. I have no plans to deny it. But since I cannot be trusted to gauge the health of my own mind, it’s their call.

Q. Then where to we go from here?

A. We keep up our dialogue until this matter has been thought through completely.

Q. Same time next Tuesday?

A. You’re not putting me on a yearlong waiting list or refusing to pay my copays, are you? See you Tuesday.

The Questioner is silent.

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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 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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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 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 1552

(1) I was grateful to see that the little Greek gyros place on Main Street has opened up for indoor seating now, as long as people wear their masks when not seated.   Nice to see things returning to a semblance of normalcy.

(2) In the past couple days I’ve been blessed to accomplish much more reading than usual, by way of research.  Among other things, I read all kinds of information related to the “social construction of reality,” culminating in this excellent 14-minute video.  All of this is turning out to be very useful in the blog sequel I’m slowly composing for Thursday.

(3) Gorgeous clear day today, having gotten up to 48F degrees already, though it was 26F when I first awoke in the morning.   Doppio at the cafe makes me want to walk vigorously, like I did yesterday, four miles.

(4) Grateful for this A&W being so close to my house, because it has really fast Wi-Fi and they don’t mind me sitting in here for a while.   Good coffee, too.   A nice place to take my new laptop after an afternoon nap.

(5) I’m really grateful for Kelsey, because she is such a grounding force in the project, both conceptually, and in terms of providing a bridge between me and the younger actors.  It’s been wonderful working with her on the deeper themes during these podcasts.  Grateful for Cody & Keva and the others who remain enthused.  Their spirit is helping to sustain a feeling that I’m not in this thing alone.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
   –Will Durant

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Gratitude List 1641

(1) After nearly two weeks of enduring a totally erratic sleeping schedule, I believe I have finally returned to my preferred early-to-rise routine. Already, I am feeling calmer and more confident than I did throughout the week last week.

(2) This also blessed me to see an absolutely gorgeous sunrise, which unfortunately I failed to capture on camera. The sight of it reminded me of new beginnings, and hope for new blessings in the week to come.

(3) Someone left a workstation and an executive chair about a block down the road, with a sign that said “FREE.” As I paled at the task of dragging the items down to my apartment, a kind couple across the way asked if I needed help. The upshot is that I was finally able to replace my large collapsing table with a very nice black workstation, creating more space in the apartment and making me much more comfortable at my new desk.

(4) In the process of excitedly hurling the many items off the previous very messy table, I created such a horrific mess in the living room that I was finally motivated to perform a thorough tidying-up thereof. No doubt I will soon continue this happy trend with the kitchen and bathroom.

(5) Tears of joy put me to peaceful sleep the night before last, after receiving the greatest show of respect I believe I have ever received from a group of people in my entire life. Somehow, a musical I’d almost forgotten I’d written came up during a meeting of my Eden in Babylon team. Noticing that the current team consists of four very fine male singer-actors and three equally talented female performers, I saw how the seven Artists corresponded almost magically to the four male characters and three female characters in The Burden of Eden.

It then was not long before the complete piano-vocal score to that show had been submitted to them, and my team was excitedly going about learning their songs. After years of having my work written off as that of a “crackpot,” I have finally found good people who believe in me. I’m crying now, just thinking about it. It’s almost too good to be true.

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Turns Toward Dawn

Cooper Knutson and Keva Shull singing the song “Turns Toward Dawn” from the new musical Eden in Babylon at a rehearsal this past Tuesday afternoon.   I’m on the Baldwin GP-190 concert grand, and we used one “snowball” mike, situated approximately twelve feet away from the piano, with the two of them standing six feet apart on either end.   It’s raw and real — I hope you enjoy it.   

Andy Pope · Turns Toward Dawn

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Gratitude List 1627

(1) Though I was running on empty for quite a few days, I slept ten hours last night and feel like a new man. Thankful for sleep and its restorative power.

(2) Richard the bass player brought over some home-cooked curry and rice last night, which was a welcome and healthy restbit from my usual diet.

(3) Thankful for the smile on Cody’s face during the crescendo to the second repeat of the chorus in “Turns Toward Dawn” at rehearsal on Thursday. I’ve seen that smile before — and I know what it means — but not for a long time. It was refreshing.

(4) Ran into Kurt, the retired linguistics professor, on the way home from rehearsal yesterday. We wound up talking for about an hour. He’s a person whose biblical exegesis and overall unique political worldview makes for extreme intellectual stimulation, not without true inspiration. We arranged to meet again on Zoom on Wednesday, and I’m jazzed.

(5) Just met with the team on the group chat on Messenger. We’re going to put this week to good use — and that involves my slowing down quite a bit. I tend to push myself a bit too hard sometimes, and we all understand that. But I gotta say, we’re making the most out of all the theatres being closed for the pandemic. The team spirit is like nothing I’ve ever known — and I’m thankful.

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Gratitude List 1550

(1) Once again I have rediscovered the power of sleep.   Grateful for the blessing of being able to go back to bed this morning and recharge.   Three hours later, I felt thirty years younger.

(2) In the past week, an almost supernatural sequence of events has caused all kinds people to come together in support of my project.   I am particularly grateful for a special ensemble of young people who seem to keep hanging with me, no matter what.  I may be grouchy in my old age, and yet I do not know where else on earth I could have found a bunch of Kids so devoted.

(3) Also grateful for the students I’ve picked up on Skype and Zoom since we’ve been quarantined, and for Zoom meets in general, which are less anxiety-provoking (for me) than the real live gatherings.    

(4) Although I enjoyed completing my Vocal Score, I wasn’t looking forward to the arduous task of creating a piano score.  So I’ve immersed myself wholeheartedly in the more exciting task of creating a full score for the pit orchestra — a score that will be electronically replicated for our interactive production.   The piano part is still the most tedious, but now that it’s a smaller part of a much larger project that engages and excites me, the arduous tedium is worth it.  Grateful for the new confidence that I will not only get the job done, but will do an even bigger and better job in the process.   I’m serious!   I have total new confidence — and the proof will be in the pudding.

(5) It’s a beautiful sunny day at 75F degrees in spacious North Idaho.  Even in the midst of a pandemic and ongoing concerns about climate change, we are still granted the blessing of a beautiful day.   One Day at a Time.   

“Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and you help them become what they are capable of being.”
      –Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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