spying on myself


I’m having difficulty finding that place in myself where I can very calmly read, study, practice. I see this as indicative of a kind of mild burn out from my schedule and my need for solitude being unassuaged.

Yesterday I didn’t manage to settle down until after a flurry of morning activity including grocery shopping, talking on the phone to the car insurance people, forcing myself to go to the church and prepare for this morning, making myself check the air in the tires of Mom’s car, stuff like that. Nothing earth shattering.

As usual after I forced myself to sit on the organ bench and rehearse upcoming organ music for work, I became immersed in playing organ. I have been playing my way through volumes of Bach I own. I finished the transcriptions. I often return to the organ trios. I love these works. I admire their construction. I love the baroque contrapuntal trio. And I find them fun to play.


My title for today’s post, “spying on myself,” comes from a book of poetry I finished this morning In Beauty Bright by Gerald Stern.

I’m also reading John Ashberry’s new book of poems, Quick Questions. I mention it because I find myself more drawn to Stern than Ashberry. Ashberry seems to wander in his poems. The point of view is confusing to me. The narrative doesn’t sustain itself. Stern was the opposite. His poems are cranky eccentric looks at life.

I finished Louise Glück’s 1980 collection Descending Figure yesterday. So far I like her later work better.

Yesterday I was sucked in by the Kindle Daily Deal. I purchased a Kurt Vonnegut novel. I also purchased a book I had never heard of until it was offered as a Kindle Daily Deal, Troubles by J. G. Farrell.

It’s a prize winning book (that is not a guarantee that it will interest me) recommended by The New York Review of Books. I think the story is what drew me in. Written in 1970, it takes place fifty years before. A shell shocked soldier is on his way to Ireland to meet and marry a woman he hardly knows but has corresponded with during the war.

He arrives at huge decaying resort where the woman and her family live. The family is several steps past eccentric. The story is about the resort itself which is presented in a charming adult Lewis Carroll sort of way. According to my Kindle I have already read 8% of the book.

Last night before falling asleep I read a sad little book (comic? graphic memoir?) called Why I Killed Peter.

I sometimes pull books off the library graphic novel shelf in a sort of random manner. This was one of them.

The book is told from the point of view of a little boy growing up. Peter is a priest. From the moment I picked it up, I suspected that Peter was a pedophile.

The book moves from childhood to the present. We are drawn into the life of the narrator. He eventually decides in a Proustian twist to write about his childhood experiences, in fact to write the book we are holding.

At one point he and his illustrator are driving back to the summer camp where he was molested. The pictures change from simple drawings to photographs in a telling switch of style. It reminded me of Eddie Campbell who uses photographs in his works. The narration and dialog  above is in French the language the book was apparently originally written in.

Reading this book is like listening to someone work out their stuff. It did have a charm. But mostly I found it sad.




The Dying of the Monarch Butterflies – NYTimes.com

Disturbing reports of dwindling populations of Monarchs.


Court Says C.I.A. Must Yield Some Data on Drones – NYTimes.com

U.N. Official Denounces U.S. Drone Use in Pakistan – NYTimes.com

Drones in the news.



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