No Such Luck

Wouldn’t you know it?

The HEMA school I was interested in either re-scheduled their Achille Marozzo classes to Tuesday nights, or I misread their schedule multiple times over the course of over a year chomping at the bit to take this course.

Either way my fiance and I didn’t get to go.

We went downtown instead.  We stopped at a big record store over on Burnside where I bought a couple of things (a compilation album of short works by Ralph Vaughan-Williams and a box set of Hector Berlioz’ Grand Messe des Morts, which figures into the novel I’m working on, along with a record cleaning kit).

Then we went out for burritos and came home.  I’m listening to that box set of the opera Aida I bought the other day right now.  It sounds magnificent for a used album pressed in 1962 and left to languish in a thrift shop.  Definitely an asset to my collection.


Tomorrow, I’m going to a HEMA school in the southwest of Portland to see if I’m up to learning longsword technique.

The technique they teach is actually Achille Marozzo’s 16th century longsword technique, though Marozzo did preserve a lot of information from earlier eras.

I’m not getting my hopes up about becoming especially good at this since I’m about 8 centuries out of practice and in a very different body, but I’ve been burning with curiosity about HEMA since the early 2000s.  Now I finally get to try it, and I’m very excited.

Incidentally, at least one of my friends into HEMA remembers a medieval past life too.  I guess once a knight is never enough.

Losing My Soul

I have to admit something: I’m losing my soul to fear, like so many people are these days. Mine is second-hand fear- the kind that fearful people instill in others by hostile words and actions- but it is no less toxic. Just like second-hand cigarette smoke, it can eat away at you.

I’m losing my soul wondering how long before insane politicians and their hate-filled followers decide I’m inconvenient to them.

I’m losing my soul contemplating whether to flee the country or arm up for a fight that might never come.

I’m losing my soul questioning the value of free speech in the wake of so many people yelling “fire” in the proverbial theater.

And one day, if I were to wake up a soulless, seething mass of hate like millions of others, who can I really blame but myself?

I couldn’t stop the reactionaries from blowing smoke, but I didn’t have to inhale their hate second-hand and react to it like I’ve done.

And I speak in such glowing terms about how I want to enter the clergy and be above it all! No. Old habits die hard.

I once thought those who found solace from their bad habits in faith were tragic people. I still think that, even though I’m one of those people now.


Today I went by the Goodwill and searched through the vinyl.

I bought three items. First was a copy of Joan Baez Vol. 2, mainly as a common record that I kind of like but wouldn’t be too upset if it got ruined while testing my new turntable.  This copy was once owned by one Lt. W.D. McCabe Jr. (US Navy) around 1963 and if he is still alive and wants it, I will give it back.  Otherwise, your record is in good hands, Lt. McCabe.  Happily the turn table works fine and I can enjoy this album for years to come.

The second I bought was Faure’s Requiem and Pavane, on the Seraphim label.  I love Faure in this life, possibly for the first time.

The third was the real treasure.  It was a box set of Solti conducting the Rome Opera House Orchestra and Chorus in a performance of Verdi’s Aida.  It’s on the RCA Victor Red Seal label.

Interestingly enough, the cashier who rang me up was also named Aida!

Memory Fragment

I just had the first fragment of Jack’s life I’ve experienced in a while.

It was a sprig of holly in the corner of a Christmas card.  I had the feeling that they were real leaves, and that I was a child, pasting them in the corners of cards friends and family had sent us while my mother hung the finished cards near the mantle.

I wish I could dial into this memory more, but it was brief and elusive.  These memories of Jack’s childhood have been so few and precious.  The war overshadowed so many tender moments… I just want those tender moments back.

Bought A Turntable

I just bought a Sony PSLX300USB turntable.

I had a $150 gift card from my mother that she sent me for my birthday back in mid-June that I’d been holding onto, so I decided to look for the best turntable under $150. The Sony model came up and got decent reviews.  Sony’s usually good value for money so I decided to give it a chance.

The only down side: it doesn’t have a 78 RPM setting (I’d have to shell out a bit more for a nice option like that).  But with 33 and 45 RPM settings that still leaves a lot of really great recordings from the 60s and 70s that I can play!

I’m going to start building a new record collection.  Rather than trying to re-build the one I had in my last life, I want to buy the sorts of records I like; that will, of course, include some titles I liked in my last life (especially some of the classical titles like Beethoven’s symphonies and Wagner’s “Parsifal”), but it will also include some stuff I’m pretty sure I didn’t have, like some obscure prog and old-school reggae.

I got into prog rock in this life, through my fiance.  Our courtship was a very musical one, as courtships tend to be with me (this was true in my last life as well), and we often exchanged songs to express how we felt about each other, or shared songs that we enjoyed.  My fiance was more into prog than I was, and I soon discovered Yes, Genesis in their early years, King Crimson, and then more obscure bands like Aphrodite’s Child.

I’m still my own person, after all, with tastes that have remained similar but have nonetheless evolved… but the tactile ritual of playing a vinyl record and relaxing on my couch will be a nice, relaxing, grounding experience putting me in a familiar and comfortable headspace.


Thoughts Upon Serving My First Mass

Today I served at the altar for my first real mass.

Here’s what I got from it: I’m learning quickly and I seem to be a natural at this.   All the same, I was overwhelmed and a bit taken aback by the enthusiasm I got from the congregation.  They complimented me on my energy and presence… Except, it wasn’t MY energy and presence they felt.  I was a conduit for something far greater and the praise for my skill in serving felt just a bit inappropriate, though I was gracious about it.

I have a strong sense that I’ve done this before, in other lifetimes.  I can’t remember when or where, but the motions, the actions, the words and the energy are all there, coming back to me as if it were only a few short years ago.  It’s funny, I have a character in my stories, a 12th century canon and mystic from Hereford, and although he is entirely a fictional character, his essence seems like it came from somewhere very real.

I wish I could remember where this character, so close to my own heart, came from.  I wish I could remember serving at the altar in centuries past.  I wish I knew how I missed my chance to transcend this world when that good life was done.  Today’s homily was about purity through non-attachment rather than aversion; perhaps aversion was my great weakness?

Or maybe I never did it before.  Maybe I just have a natural instinct and enthusiasm that comes from someone eager to find a new area of focus.  At least, it seems to be helpful, for what it’s worth.