Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Embrace three feet of snow. Follow with brilliant, clear skies. Notice that it is not that cold. See charming gigantic icicles, dripping. Watch little stream begin to freshen. See clear stream begin to muddy. Find cistern overflowing. Hear a dull "white noise" sort of sound coming from the now numerous rivulets of water. Recognize that puddles are turning to miniature lakes. Realize that there may be flooding in the rivers. Run to get day pack, scrap all plans, other than surveying the now once in 15 year water levels. Jump in car to see largest waterfalls in Baltimore and Harford County. Drive to every decent bridge, as the roaring of waters fuels the pulse. Start to encounter other maddened flood chasers, words tumbling out of their mouths, sputtering epithets and crude uses of the language now not only acceptable, but imperative, descriptions only misappropriated by the urgency of the need to capture, to fix in the mind what can't really be fixed, all is feeling and adrenaline, in the roar of waters and the knowledge that all too soon this too shall pass, like a life cut short, a knife dulled, the frayed edge of the Alz-affected, trying to fix what cannot be solidified, yearning for a way to make it stay, grasping for meaning, yearning for a way to make it part of my soul, to put another totem on the pole, interpreting the life that cannot be lived, the memory that cannot be retained, to find a reliable fixed point knowing all too well there is no fixity, there is no capturing the smoke of desire or the fecundity of water-soaked earth.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Ahhh, the Company Christmas Party. Obligatory? Dangerous? Perhaps a history of this annual event might be in order: in the early years...I'm talkin' the days of wine and roses, now...the massive quantities of alcohol delivered by suppliers, the fine black gooey hashish and the obligatory sex in the bathroom, or on the conference room table, the near disasters with cars gone terribly wrong due to substantial mis-judgements in depth perception and blurred vision. Someone always wound up crying or just passing out in the corner...later on, there was the patina of respectability, with only the truly alcoholic boor left slumbering on a little used couch somewhere. As times and morays changed, actual FOOD became the pre-eminent indicator of the worth of the party--if you weren't wolfing down the filet mignon, and the massive quantities of steamed shrimp, then you weren't at the right place. Chocolate became a significant element in the gustatory mix, the lousy sugary fountains of the stuff, and occasionally, some real lugubrious, deeply dark mud of a dark, dark bar of Scharffenberger 86% cacao...OK, I have revealed my chocolate addiction, but more on that later...of course, the frightening shift to playing games and using video game consoles and (hopefully), the occasional actual gambling opportunity still exists and can be intense enough at times to produce a fist fight or at least a spirits induced lapse in judgement...so gird thy loins, prepare for the battle, flame the shots, and don't come crying to me if mayhem lifts its bleary head. I'll be waiting for you tomorrow, happy in my boring, sober alcoholic life, bright-eyed and irritatingly bushy-tailed, with a welcome back to the living, and gratitude for friends far and near. Oh, I've got to go--I just brewed a pot of Papua New Guniea's finest beans and I think I'll go for a walk. Hic finis est.
Monday, December 14, 2009
As a boy, I spent eight years singing in the church choir of St. Paul's School for Boys in Brooklandville, Maryland. I began as a soprano and finally stopped singing as a bass. We had an amazingly warm, wonderful and savvy choirmaster that could coax even the roughest voice to an acceptable sound. We began as sopranos and most of us made it all the way through the vagaries of puberty to continue singing as either tenors or baritones. Our choirmaster, Don McDorman, bless his soul, dished up the perfect combination of discipline and overlooked mischief. If truth were told, Don used his position to maximum effect, by taking himself (for free) and us for the cost of cheap lodging, to several magnificent tours of Europe. We literally sang for our supper, usually waiting in drafty kitchens until being ushered into the castles of wealthy landowners waiting for the entertainment.
As we grew older, we somehow managed to make it so that we had to include Mr. McDorman's daughter and cousin to go along for these European junkets as well, and it must be said that wonderful Peggy McDorman, and her cousin just about sent us hormonal boys right over the edge. In fact, on one such day of exploration, we lost one of our group. He wandered into St. Paul's Cathedral in London, and wound up getting a personal tour of the belfry. There is always something to be said for eschewing the beaten path.
This post, in fact, is occasioned by a magnificent performance held yesterday, December 13, 2009, by the Girls Choir of the National Cathedral. The poise of the singers, the depth of feeling and flawless execution of this most difficult and complex piece seemed effortless on its surface, while it demanded the utmost in execution, timing, and an almost magical serendipity. Perhaps somewhere in some heaven, these girls and our now old boys of years ago may have had the spiritual backing that God sometimes offers the sentient. God bless us all!
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
I may have become the victim of an identity theft. I am very concerned that the person I am is no longer the person that I thought I was. I look in the mirror, and out stares John the Baptist, bedraggled and disheveled, waiting for an outbound hound to take me over the divide and into an unfamiliar river system, filled with tiny leeches and limitless cobwebs. There are caves here, and none but the most lurid lights shine from somewhere up ahead. There is no wind, and the green and purple slime on the dripping walls keep me from the promise I made so long ago, the pact that forces me onward, to never turn back, to find the way, to take another bong hit, when to do so would be folly. I hear the ancient voices of children, the scream in the rigging, the sickening yaw and twist of the hull, the latent memory of hatches popping, ready to ditch, salvaging nothing but the last figurine, the one my mother held, just before the end of alabaster, the dull gleam and a still night, waiting to split an invisible sky, furious veins, erratically branching sulphurously yellow, and yearning for the alchemist. Could I say this day was grand? Or might I consign it to a footnote too long, the last one hundred pages of James Joyce's Ulysses, the Bloomsday celebration forming YES and asking no more yes and the grey dawn gritty on the eyes and yes the soot gone grey and the cold coming he had of it and yes the place where all souls meet sweet and sonorous, limping in, dragging one foot, perturbed and not placated. I look to another day for my succor, I walk without pleasure, unless this chord strikes a love beyond fear.
Posted by Chuck Donofrio at 10:36 AM