Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Gone Dark

As predicted, I haven't had much to say around here while I wait to be contacted by the investigative committee.

Another factor that has contributed to my relative quiet is the Moleskine pocket journal I bought about a month ago, and have been using as a basic, old fashioned, more-or-less daily journal... an exercise that for some reason felt stranger than maintaining a weblog for the first week or so.

I got over that fairly quickly, and have already gone on to buy a Lamy Vista fountain pen to write with. The act of writing is quite pleasant and altogether different than sitting at a keyboard and typing. Once you put aside conceits about your "audience" and acknowledge that your audience is really yourself (and maybe curious future descendants,) you are free to jot down whatever's on your mind without having the luxury of changing words or sentences here or there, or worrying if it's profound enough to share with the anonymous public.

I'm sure I'll have more public thoughts once the application process starts back up in September, though.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Early Results

One thing that has precipitated out of this whole process already is that I find myself using the telephone to contact people, instead of sending e-mails. I've been living on the internet for most of the last 10 years both personally and professionally, and I have come to prefer e-mail to telephone in many ways. It has less potential to disrupt me (when receiving a call) or someone else (when making a call), and it affords me the ability to compose my thoughts very carefully and make sure I make all of the points I wish to make or ask all of the questions I want to ask. Years of bad customer service have not done much to encourage me to use
the phone either.

E-mail is usually fine, if not preferable, among my tech-savvy friends, but I am realizing that it's very limiting to define one's friends in terms of how willing someone is to e-mail you. Masonic communications aside, I'm getting in touch with other acquaintances via telephone, too. Yesterday I ran into my friend L., a fiddler and luthier that I used to play with most every week at a nearby old-time session. I never got to know him very well outside those sessions, and when that session got cancelled by the host venue last fall I fell out of touch with him. When I bumped into him, he seemed to be in a bit of a hurry (as was I) and we didn't really have much of a conversation. I felt badly afterward, and so today I resolved to call him up and try to re-establish that connection. I had to leave him a voice-mail, but that's OK. I hope to talk to him soon.

L. is the perfect example of the sort of person I should really call instead of e-mail; he has an e-mail address and checks it regularly I'm sure, but I get the impression it's an auxiliary mode of communication for him. And of course these days you never know if your message is going into someone's spam folder... and if it does, you never know if they even know about their spam folder.

So yes, as strange as it sounds I would call getting re-acquainted with the telephone self-improvement... and me not even an Entered Apprentice yet.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Bill Meikle

I am very saddened to learn just now that Bill Meikle, a well-known Benjamin Franklin impersonator/interpreter in Massachusetts, passed away at the end of last year.

I was lucky enough to have Bill Meikle visit my rural, central Massachusetts elementary school in the 1980's-- I think I was in fifth grade, but I may be off by a year. I assume my class did a unit of study about Benjamin Franklin before Mr. Meikle's visit, so that we would have something to ask him about besides his funny shoes. He probably also recounted an autobiographical tale before the Q & A session.

He sat amongst all us kids in full 18th century dress and answered questions in character. It's unfortunate that my strongest memory of the event is of some wise-ass classmate asking an irrelevant/irreverent question in an attempt to get him to break character. Mr. Meikle handled it deftly (I'm sure he was used to it,) remaining firmly in character and dismissing the question in exactly the wry/clever/slightly testy tone you imagine Benjamin Franklin would use if you were wasting his time.

I remember we were all old enough to think that it was a little bit cheesy - but Bill Meikle was very good at what he did and he really did bring Benjamin Franklin to life, making him a lot more real to me than a name in history books. To this day, none of the other founding fathers resonate as strongly with me as Franklin... I have no trouble imagining what it might be like to raise a pint or two with Ben Franklin, but most of the others are so many names in so many books.

I never forgot a name like "Bill Meikle", but I didn't know how that 'frankling' was the man's life work until I heard him interviewed on NPR early last year. How it took me back! There are a handful of people I encountered as an elementary school kid whose hands I would like to shake as a grown man, and tell them they that got through to at least one kid. Bill Meikle is one of them. I am sorry to learn that I won't have that chance in this life.

Monday, July 2, 2007


Since I began subscribing to RSS feeds of a dozen or so Masonic weblogs over the last several weeks, there have usually been half a dozen entries to peruse throughout the course of a day.

Yesterday and today, though, not a single post. It is curiously like the fabled seven minute conversational lull. (A factoid of dubious provenance, perhaps fabricated as a means to kick-start said lulled conversations.)

For my own part, I think I am settling into the July-and-August waiting game. I attended the aforementioned pancake breakfast on Saturday morning, where I got to see a lovely 95 year-old Masonic hall and talk to several more brothers. I had a good time and left with my excitement renewed... but also with a bit of a glum outside-the-Wonka-Factory feeling. I will definitely be returning to visit once I have a dues card, and I was also pleased to see that there's a Royal Arch chapter which meets there.

Speaking of looking ahead to visiting other lodges and exploring the York Rite: At this point I find myself qualifying a lot of thoughts with the phrase, "but that's putting the cart ahead of the horse." I am conflicted about thinking ahead: on the one hand, I don't want to just assume that I will be inducted. On the other hand, I have no reason to think that I won't be.

Deep down, though, I must admit to myself that I really have been assuming I will be inducted... it is not an unreasonable assumption given the fraternity's eagerness for new members and my good standing as a citizen/among the friends and colleagues I listed as references. I think the qualifying statements are more to temper my confidence and enthusiasm in hopes that I won't come across as outright brash.