After yesterday's meeting, I had a chicken wrap. It's stunning what a little rest and proper nutrition can do. At 8:30, I came back to the school and worked consistently for a couple hours. I now have hopes that I'll have my marking caught up by Friday. So that's good.
I have nothing else to say.
That's all. I just didn't want such a despondent post to be sitting at the top of my weblog.
So here's to hoping I can get back in the groove.
So the run of A Flea in her Ear finished. It was rather successful: we had a good audience every night, we each put our all into each of the parts, we found ways to cover up our mistakes. There was a lot of laughter and sharing backstage and people seemed to be on the same page: adults working together to finish a project.
On Sunday night, I crashed, mentally and physically. As soon as the responsibilities of the play finished, all the energy I'd put in to keeping all these tasks in the air seemed to melt away. I went to the school to start catching up on planning and marking, but couldn't seem to think straight. I tripped on the stairs a few times, walked into doorways, and stared into the middle distance. Clearly I needed a break.
One thing my brain keeps rolling back to: my kids didn't get to see the show. I'd like to think they would have enjoyed it. I don't know how to get over that, other than to think "That's just how life is." But all that's still confusing to me, no matter what.
So at this point I've fallen behind at work and am struggling to catch up. By the end, those rehearsals and performances took up over 20 hours a week of time, 40 for the week of the opening, and I naturally fell behind at my full-time job. In addition to that, I was still falling behind when we were merely rehearsing, even before we'd moved into the theatre itself. So I have weeks of marking and raggle-taggle planning to catch-up on and recover from. I don't have the energy to just push myself to get it all caught-up, so I'm scrambling every day.
Doing something as social as a play highlights the loneliness of teaching, the way one huddles in their room to mark and plan. Although I try to talk with colleagues as much as possible, I spend most of my worktime alone. This is particularly difficult at the end of the day, when I need to be the most self-motivated, but find myself drained. So far I haven't recovered enough to beat the loneliness. I feel myself aching for some company, like "Could somebody just sit with me while I get this marking and stuff done, so I don't wear my time away on the Internet?" I know that I'll be OK, particularly once I'm caught up on marking, but it's still very lonely right now.
I've attended a few different Professional Learning activities over the last few months. The speakers who most inspired me seemed to find ways to make their jobs more meaningful and holistic. I want that. I always wanted that. I don't think I'm good at this "be a teacher at work, be a person at home" thing. I want to be the same person in most of my life, not somebody trying to play different games against one another. I don't remember who said it, but somebody (perhaps here?) said something about how they hated the idea of a "work-life balance," because it implied a disconnection between the two, because it implied that work and life were disconnected, that we could divorce ourselves from life. I get that, because I've never wanted that disconnection.
Right now I'm struggling with it, though, because it feels pretty disconnected. I do my work stuff and it has little to nothing to do with my everyday life.
On that note, I need to go attend a work-related meeting. And I hope I can make the best of it.
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When I was maybe 13 years old or so, I bought a cassette copy of Larry Norman's So Long Ago the Garden. It's a polished album, a prime example of the richness of early 1970s production values, filled with warm strings, thin acoustic guitars, and loads of reverb on the vocals. Since it's his least thematically evangelical album (although he may have suggested otherwise), I've been able to generally enjoy most of the songs even as my faith has faded away.
So Long Ago the Garden is also a discouraging album that has gone through multiple iterations over the years on various releases. Norman and others have speculated and waxed philosophical about why the album seems so disjointed—if you don't believe me, read the liner notes for practically any CD that describes it—but despite some of its perfections, it has some serious flaws. Most importantly, I believe, its biggest flaw is just how Larry never seemed to get it just how he wanted it to be, but kept on releasing weird versions of it. The story of So Long Ago the Garden, as a piece, reflects Norman's own sense of restlessness like none of his other albums do.
But I'd like to write a little about one specific song: "Baroquen Spirits." It was one of my favorite Garden songs on the cassette I bought in my adolescence. It epitomized the loneliness I felt as a teenager. I felt like someone really "got" what it's like to feel true despair and rejection. It also featured a rocking chorus and coda, bordering on 5 minutes of 70s pop awesomeness..
The cassette version was the first version I'd ever heard, so it's the go-to real thing for me; it's the standard I'd go by. Apparently the LP version also was this length, but I've never heard it. When Norman finally released So Long Ago the Garden on Compact Disc, I was pretty excited to get to hear 'Baroquen Spirits" in CD quality.
But I was bitterly disappointed. The So Long Ago the Garden CD featured different mixes of songs than I was used to, and, most importantly, "Baroquen Spirits" had been truncated to a mere 2:55. The last verse of the song, the most despairing one, had been completely cut out, the coda shortened, and the piano-driven instrumental break seemed out of place. The song on the CD didn't feel complete thematically or musically, particularly when compared with my cassette version. It disappointed me.
And with every iteration, every re-release of So Long Ago the Garden, I watched to see if the full version of "Baroquen Spirits" would show up. But it never did.
Here are the lyrics as they appear on Google, last verse tagged on without even a proper stanza break:
And if you look under the lyrics video on YouTube, you'll see that I'm not the only one who's dissatisfied by how difficult it is to track down versions of the entire song. The only place on the Internet where one can find a full-length version of the song is a live bootleg version that Norman released in the 70s. It's nice to hear the entire song, but it totally misses the gorgeous production values of the original.
The full-length CD version of "Baroquen Spirits" became one of those artifacts of Larry Norman's unique, bewildering album release practices. Once CDs came along, Norman often released four or five CDs a year, often on CD-R format. Many of these CDs were compilation albums that featured the same old songs, perhaps with one unique song thrown in for good measure. He released numerous live albums that didn't feature many unique songs at all, and then also released various bootlegs of poor-mediocre quality, all with essentially the same songs. Before these CD-R practices, I was able to keep up with his releases; once he moved to this collectors-focused business plan, I got priced out of the market. I had to grow more selective of the albums I'd acquire.
As far as I can tell, the full-length version of "Baroquen Spirits" was only released on one of these CD-R CDs: Siege at Elsinore, and even that's not the mix that appears on the cassette. I thought it might appear on Maximum Garden, but that version, although complete, was an extremely rough demo mix that literally made me wince repeatedly when I first heard it, since I hoped for the real thing. I still can't listen to it. Even the bootleg live version is better than the tightly-mastered rough mix on Maximum Garden.
So I always hoped that someone would release it to YouTube. But no one did. It kind-of floored me. Nobody had even posted a vinyl recording of it. I'd probably search for it a couple times a year, hoping for someone to upload it to YouTube, to anywhere. But no one did. On multiple occasions, I've considered taking my cassette and attempting to master it, but that cassette is mixed so quietly that the noise would be overwhelming in a digital context. And I don't have the equipment. So I haven't done it.
But, finally, somebody has done it:
Now, obviously, since it's taken so long, I'm one of the only people in the world who cares about this. If it was really a big deal to people, somebody would have posted it by now. And even this version isn't the best vocal take. So geez, Larry.
So here, for nobody but myself, is my summary of ways to hear "Baroquen Spirits" in CD quality:
YouTube: ephemeral ideas
Amazon | DailyMotion
DeviantArt | Flickr | FVRL | Kik
LinkedIn | MeetUp | MySpace
Playstation | Reddit | Snapchat
Spotify | The Internet Archive
Tinder | Vimeo | VK | WattPad