Siege Diaries 1/4/2020

img_1942Today’s Daily Stoic writing prompt:  Am I seeing clearly? Acting generously?  Accepting what I can’t change?

Or, as the associated meditation boils it down to, Perception, Action, and Will.  The problem for me isn’t so much the macro level–overall, I think I usually adhere to these three principles.  It’s what happens when you get caught down in the weeds.  Right now, I’m experiencing a mild panic attack, and have been since I was unable to log into VPN for work.  It turns out the soft token on my phone has expired.  It’s the first day back from vacation, so no one has anything massively pressing today, so it’s not as if I have a work project due that I’m stressing about.  No, it’s perception.   I feel as if I should have known the token was expiring, that missing it makes me a bad employee, and that it could endanger my job.  None of this has anything to do with my current job–these are all outcomes of the way I was treated in the job I had before, the one where I was bullied.  Had this happened there, I would have absolutely been made to feel I was a bad or negligent employee–and in fact, that kind of thing did happen at least once.  And since I was eventually laid off from that job, that’s just enough to put my fervid brain into panic mode now–even though there has been absolutely nothing but sympathy and understanding this time around.   It’s absolutely a fault of perception–I am not seeing clearly–and while I am controlling my reaction from a logical standpoint, it’s clear that some of these subconscious triggers are much less in my control.  I’d like to end that jittery feeling, but I suspect it’s not going to go away until the situation is resolved.

It’s now after work and the situation isn’t fully resolved yet–it took until about 1 pm just to get a temporary code to log in, and I’ve had to leave the VPN connected and to hope it will stay connected as long as I need it to.   The panic has largely subsided, as I knew it would, as the rational side takes over and I pull away from the immediate issue.

Now, I’m just annoyed.

We ordered a new computer last night.  The upstairs machine with its Pentium processor just wasn’t cutting it any more–it was having issues just running Discord and Roll20 at the same time for gaming, and when it actually took a minute for it to be able to update a file name, we said “enough.”  That means the music collection and iTunes are moving to my machine.  Importing it this time was fairly easy–although there were way too many movie files I didn’t really want.  I then had to kick my phone upside the head to get it to properly sync the playlists, and now I’m catching up with ripping CDs that I’ve had for awhile but hadn’t wanted to “poke the bear” (the bear being the old, cranky computer) to get added onto my phone/iPad.  It’s been less of a priority now that I’m not commuting 2-3 times a week.

I’ve also made it to the 7th Symphony in Michael Sanderling’s Shostakovich Cycle.  While his 4th was one of the best I’ve heard, his 5th left me a little cold–I think that’s probably a good description for it, because it was so dry and straightforward that it lost a lot of its emotional punch.  You don’t want to overstate the turmoil, but you don’t want to go too far in the other direction, either.  The amazing Largo of the 6th was also wanting–but did he ever pull off one of the best third movements of that work I’ve ever heard.  So the 7th:  I’m liking it.  It doesn’t have the ferocity of the Bernstein/CSO recording, but there’s also a lot more colour and character in the buildup of the “invasion theme” than I usually hear, and I especially like the recording of the percussion–there’s a lot more rumble than thudding there than usual, and the section right after the invasion theme blows itself out has some dynamic shaping that reminded me of flickering flames.  Second movement is taken more quickly than usual, especially the central tumultuous section, which felt like it was in danger of running off the rails, but stayed just this side of danger and ended up provided some real contrast with the first theme.   Sanderling seems to do very well in finding the contrasts in these two middle movements that serve to make them a little more exciting, once again using dynamic shaping to turn them more into narratives with more expression than I often see.  And the final movement really does the dark and quiet section just before we move into the conclusion really well.  It’s a lean-forward kind of quiet, dark and shadowy, with all of the voices heard quite distinctively, particularly the lower strings (which often get lost). It’s tentative and halting, then it seems to catch on, and all of a sudden you’re noticing the low brass sneaking in as the tension builds and builds, and then a drumroll and a crescendo, the extended brass kick in, and each time they pull more out.  My only complaint is that the low brass are actually lost a little bit in the last few bars, although the percussion are spectacular.

It occurred to me as I put away the CD that tomorrow is the second anniversary of the live performance I attended of the Shostakovich 7th in Columbus.   I cannot hear this piece now without putting myself back into the balcony of the Ohio Theatre, in my 1939 dress, moved to tears by that finale.  Looking back, I am so grateful I recognized the magic of that particular trip while it was happening.

We are 39 days out from my personal August 9.
I haven’t said much about the state of the US post-election here, because so much of it just beggars belief.  Biden and Harris’ victory, having been made official by the Electoral College, now needs to be officially accepted by Congress.  Legally, this is a rubber stamp, but some Republicans (probably jockeying to be early front-runners for nomination in 2024) are making noises about objecting to it.  The current President (still will not name him) was recorded yesterday attempting to bully Georgia into “finding more votes” for him.  One of his lawyers has gone off the deep end about shooting #45’s opponents for treason.  Many Republicans, however, are now beginning to accept the reality of the election–most prominently Mitch McConnell, making the White House livid.  Congress overrode a Presidential veto a couple of days ago–something that had not happened in the past four years.  Wednesday is the runoff Senate election in January, and it’s really anyone’s game, with the President so busy attacking his own party.   Meanwhile, there’s still a pandemic, and the vaccine rollout is uncoordinated and haphazard (although Canada’s having its own challenges there).