TEMPIS FUGIT
B A R R Y L A N D .

 

 

things i did in 03.
a moustache-twisting journal of the few things in my life worth mentioning

12  |  11  |  10  |  09  |  08  |  07  |  06  |  05  |  04  |  03  |  02  |  01  |  2000  |  99  |  98  |  97

 

 

 

 

 

yeah

 

120 days in the valley.
diaries from my cancer journey

go east.
my month in beijing

fast hannah.
a preliminary bit of blizz blazz

mad skills.
bbbbarry thRoWz U sOmE dEeP hOuSe

 

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discovered krupnik

Brian Sepko brought this family recipe to my New Year's party. It's a delirious, sweet, spicy ambrosia of vodka and honey, served hot. What an ideal winter nectar!

 

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lived through cancer

A harrowing, blunting, cleansing, humbling, faith-strengthening, faith-weakening, galvanizing, plodding 120 days. And, though it's not entirely over, it's over: we're in the watching and testing pattern now. How fortunate that my variety was mild and curable. I can only imagine what it's like for folks who have to go through it for years on end, with no hope of recovery. Hundreds and hundreds of people prayed for me in their various ways during that time; simply knowing that has affected me powerfully. I would never want to go through it again, but I would never take it back, either. more

 

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scored a silent movie

The award-winning "Wings," made in 1927. Texas Public Radio sponsored an event showing of it, and had me compose a score and perform it live. What an experience, seeing the movie the way it was meant to be seen, on a huge screen, for a packed house, with live music. The silent era really had some powerful visual poets. It was good to collaborate with one.

 

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wrote healing music

for Dr. Peggy Avent's "Healing Connection," a guided meditation/prayer CD. I always love a challenge, and this time the restrictions were odd: I had to write strictly rhythmic music, recorded in mono but swinging back and forth from the left to right channel in a prescribed way, underneath the narrator's guided visualizations. The idea is that it stimulates your left and right brain alternately, so you can use your whole mind to meditate and pray more effectively. Little did I know that I'd be a customer as well: I used those techniques as I went through chemotherapy.

 

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got a piano

I can't believe I've gone this long without a real live piano. I'd been making do with hunks of plastic attached to computers for too long. So one fine day I did some digging around and found a contraption of wood and metal and felt, a 1949 spinet that I now enjoy every day. The hammers strike, the notes vibrate under my hand, the sound steeps and swirls in a grained box. What a pleasure, to stroll over and knock out a phrase or two, without flipping any switches.

 

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led music at church

Several times last year, our new music minister had me lead the congregation from the piano, either solo or with a group. I've been leading worship for 20 years now in one way or other, but this is the first time I'd ever done so for my own church at large. It's nice to feel valued, and a thrill to be a celebrant for one's spiritual family that way.

 

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got an appendectomy

Around 4am one Saturday morning, the pain got to be too much, and I thought, "Dang it, I bet I have appendicitis. Dang it. Dang it, dang it, dang it." Turns out my appendix was swollen and scarred from all that chemo poisoning. So they took it out, and now my abdomen scar count is up to 5. Let's keep it there for a while, please.

 

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taught sunday school

A year after being unceremoniously sacked, I was back on the podium, this time in front of 80 or so teenagers. I still respect my kids, their minds, their faiths, and their questions; I still refuse to shield their eyes from the vicious genocides of Joshua, the naked politics of Acts, the lavish sexuality of Song of Solomon, the manic-depressiveness of the Psalms. What a thrill it is to again dig in to timeless scriptures, strip away the centuries of reverent crud that we've coated them with, and expose them, in their full-bloodedness, to young minds.

 

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met a good composer

In January, just a week after abdominal surgery, a bunch of us went to see Jake Heggie's relatively new opera "Dead Man Walking." It's a powerful music drama, based on the book, about love and death and vengeance and grace. Perfect opera material. We went backstage and met Jake, and he and I struck up a sparse correspondence, which led to a wide-ranging interview in communiquejournal.org. Composers are a nice bunch, yes? more · still more

 

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went to a seder

Every year at Passover, Catherine's spiritual family has a seder. This year I went, bald and tired, and still not empty of chemicals. It was stingingly beautiful, participating in this sacrament of deliverance. Next year in Jerusalem.

 

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blizz blazzed

For our second album, the Jazz Protagonists decided to go completely pure: 5 good microphones, one good room, and three musicians playing live to two track tape. No multitracking, remixing, or overdubbing. No fake reverb. Just like Teo Macero would have done back in 57. The result, "blizz blazz," got great press and has sold fairly well. So nice to put out a product that somehow captures the joy of making music together.

 

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heard my music on air

Several times since the release, I've gotten in the car and turned on the jazz station, to be greeted by the unmistakable Protagonists sound. The "hey, that's us!" experience hasn't gotten old yet.

 

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became a deacon

at the age of 36. The man assigned to call me — a dear friend/dad/coach, that man in your church you always call uncle — read down my spiritual CV, and I found myself saying, "I did *that*? for *that* many years?" So now I'm doing more: visiting hospital beds, praying with friends and strangers, and trying to learn the awful, joyful meaning of the word "ordained."

 

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was a best man again

My old roommate Jeffrey at last found his anima, and got married in October. So I again got to play the role of butler, confidant, courier, toaster, ring-bearer, calm-downer, witness, and member of a dear family of friends. It's a deep joy to see a heart-brother hold out, for so long, for a truly precious woman, and to see him conduct a courtship the way it's meant to be done; and it's a deep joy to be part of those proceedings, standing right there in their very aura as they pledge themselves wholly to each other. Best wishes.

 

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built a bookcase

My dissatisfaction with my puny old 3x5 finally reached its peak. I penciled and sketched and measured and calculated, then bought 50 pounds or so of lumber, and a few days later I had a huge case that dominates the room, and holds almost all my books. The pleasure of designing for oneself!

 

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saw mars

My brother Paul, an amateur astronomer with a Big Toy of some sort, called me over one summer night to see Mars at its nearest. We peered and basked. Through a miracle of technology, our dartling-red planet revealed itself to us, and we loved it.

 

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joined ascap

The American Society of Composers And Publishers, that is. It's what you see in parenthesis after a songwriter's name on a CD. And why did I wait so long to do it? Well, I never did much of the kind of thing you got royalties for, until this year. Most of my music was bought outright. But now I'm in ASCAP, and waiting for my first royalty check.

 

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rearranged my living room

It's amazing what a little shifting around can do. The place was always OK but never quite right. Catherine suggested a more reasonable layout, and now the place feels spacious and cozy at the same time. Ah, the mystical and logical art of feng shui.

 

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benefited

from the generosity of friends in the jazz world. For a fatal few weeks there, I was uninsured, and racked up some hefty medical bills right at the outset of my cancer adventure. After the cancer had been tamed, several friends, organized by the great Beverly Houston, got together and threw a jazz party one afternoon, raising a good amount to offset my costs. I'll never forget it. Thank you.

 

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got DSL

When I complained to a friend about his huge email attachments and their download time, he exclaimed that he couldn't believe I didn't have DSL. So he promptly offered to pay for it for me. Such generosity!

 

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went to houston

Gravitational centers change. For years I went up and down, up and down 35: Austin, Dallas, Waco, San Antonio. But Catherine has a friend cluster in Houston, so I found myself making the eye-ten trip — 14 times, 6 in December alone. It's mostly been for her stuff, but I've been able to reconnect a bit with old friends there who hadn't been on my path. Nice to see you! And of course there's the reward of every jaunt Houstonward: Schulenburg, and Frank's cafe, and those beautiful pies.

 

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deepened a beautiful relationship

Catherine and I entered our second year of each other with a declaration of love. Shortly after that, as I went down with cancer, she went right down with me, dropping everything to be by my side through 5-hour-a-day weeks of chemo, restless early evenings, a hospital Valentine's Day (she watched me loll), nausea, and a very pasty complexion. Such women do not grow on every tree. Then, as I emerged, we fell more in love, and became companions, story-sharers, laughers, criers. And on December 28th, the last significant event of my year...

 

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proposed

It happened in the place where my family heritage and my spiritual heritage meet: the church property that used to be my grandparents' house. They lived their days there together as husband and wife, and when he died and the property went to the church, the building went up where I would spend many of my formative years, growing in the faith. It was the first place I prayed, as a teen, for the woman I would marry. I stood her on the old flagstone steps, now romantically brambled, and told Catherine she was that woman, and asked her for her hand. She said yes. The journey begins. pictures

 

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noticed trees

They're all around us, sticking up out of the earth. Late in the year, I began to really see their strangeness: these branchy, rooty cherubim, standing in mute witness to us, containing in their divisions and multiplications the key to the universe, if only we could see them clearly. They're plenty beautiful when garbed in summer green, but shocking in winter, in their splendid naked fractality. I can't drive by one now without fixing my eye on it and watching it twist by. more

 

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what a year. dedicated to the glory of god.

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so, what did you do?

 

 

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