Wednesday, November 26, 2014


November 26, 2014

Wet, dark, wintery-springy morning, Everything gleams with wet trying decide if it will be rime or liquid.

 Sweet student D comes to relate that he has been baptized and feels washed clean. Long discourse on how his life has changed. He shows me pictures of his former self, which look fine to me, but which are strikingly different from his dreamy, rather aggressively serene present self. I want to throw my arms around him and protect him, but from what I’m not sure. He looks to be on the path of the saints. Would I protect him from getting there too soon, while he is yet unfinished? I trod the same path for a while, though I never dared to speak of it. It did not come out well for me. He does pass judgment –sweetly–on those who might hinder him on his path. I refrain from pointing out how his new self is still casual about getting to class and turning assignments in on time. He is floaty and airy and quite beautiful in all this. I would pray that it all comes out as he dreams.

 Last Blake presentations. There is always the student against whom circumstance conspires, and whose presentation blows up at the last moment, and it is always the same student. I say, “the professor handbook tells me to say this wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t waited until absolutely the last moment.” She stares back, stung at my lack of compassion.

 Trip to Marshall less dreary than before. I arrived early–who knows how?–and spent some time in the Good Stuff cafĂ©, right at the opening of the French Broad bridge. I liked it, The bartender with hair-of-many-colors was solicitous. Had I work a ski cap I would not have been conspicuous at all. . . well, except for the ordering of tea.

Monday, November 24, 2014

November 24, 2014

 Did not cough last night. Hooray! Did dream that I went to visit Denny, and he’d changed vocations so that he was an ad designer, and he taught me how to use the camera-thing thereby objects are rendered suitable to appear in ads, and for the rest of the night I dreamed of one ad after the other. I brought the machine to my class and we were working on advertisements of some kind when I awoke.

 Momentary irritation with the new bass in choir, until I realized he does exactly what I do, what I have always done, and the irritation became a sort of amused self-revelation. “Finesse” is spontaneous to neither of us.

 Traded my Sunday afternoon nap to go see The Muckle Man at UNCA, because Olivia directed it. The play itself soon turns a potentially creepy mystery into a sort of tedious waiting-to-see-the-obvious-come to-pass, leaving its best bit (a squid seems to be turning into a man) just to drop because–clearly–where it was going was not thought out. None of this is O’s fault. S was there. I waited to hear whether he liked it–he did—before I spoke.

Sunday, November 23, 2014


November 23, 2014

All the Ellet people reminiscing on Facebook yesterday about where they were when Kennedy was shot. JH and I were sitting side by side in Mr Tucker’s junior high history class: a kinship that transcends the years.

Yesterday’s event was the MFA project of a young woman from Antioch U, whom I agreed to mentor. Her degree is to be in Creative Writing and Social Awareness, and she organized a reading of pertinent works and a silent auction to benefit animal rescue organizations. I admit I wasn’t paying that much attention–she didn’t seem to need much mentoring, and her social focus was un-amiable to me– so the event took me a little by surprise, for I had fallen among the animal activists. These people can’t say “animal” but only “non-human animal,” couldn’t abide the ride in the elevator because there were pictures in it, and only of humans; can’t bear mention of Santa Claus without shedding a tear over his abuse of the reindeer. Wish I were exaggerating, but I’m not. I probed the air for humor, but there was none. They took turns leaving the room in heartsickness over the brutalities in the excerpts they chose to be read. One read surprisingly good poems excusing the fault of excess tenderheartedness. She didn’t mean that at all. I had some inkling of the procedure, because she sent me a story to read (an awful one with a sort of interesting premise), whereby I did stop myself from wearing the leather jacket I’d worn the rest of the week. I finally figured out what “milk is rape” meant. They all knew the buzzwords, and nodded as they came rolling out. The silent auction was larded with drawings of American Indians lounging about in forest glens with friendly animals, the fact that the AIs ate and otherwise used these animals apparently irrelevant to the purpose. My thoughts were confused, because I have what I think of as holy and informed reverence for nature, yet the attitude around me, though allied, caused me to cringe. Cringing without total disagreement. I feel the same around religious people, a believer in almost a fanatical sense who nevertheless is mortified around too much witnessing, too much talk of what should be private and experiential. The path that leads from revelation to extremism to idiocy is, unfortunately, poorly marked. Saw once beloved DD, and met his fiancĂ©, who has a task ahead of her. The story I was given to read involved a fisherman who was given a heart attack by the sight of a puma. The story wanted the hungry puma to eat the man, but lifted up its petticoats and tip-toed off in another direction. Interestingly, the bit of a novel read by my mentee was SENSATIONAL, and, even more interestingly, had the brutal mutilation of a cat as a significant plot point.

Dream of my father sitting in his living room, telling me of a rest home to which he wanted to retire. I took the address and went there. The rooms were small, but the setting was at the edge of a vast wilderness, saw-tooth mountains in the distance. I told him what I’d found, but he said, with tears in his yes, “I want to go there.” This is the first moment when I thought he had visited me.

Deep turquoise in the study window.

Saturday, November 22, 2014


November 22, 2014

   In the middle of night there was an angry dream. I dwelt in a mansion at the edge of a glacier and a frozen arm of the sea, with some others. We were meant to take care of the mansion and the wilderness around, but the others in the group were at first carefree and then destructive. I came out one day and there were great holes cut in the ice sheet over the water, in which polar bears had been trapped and killed, dozens of them. The ice was red with their blood. I began screaming at the people. The only one whose identity I remember was N, and since he had been a friend I screamed at him most. I bellowed “I hate you!” to them at the top of my lungs, and then, to N in particular, I added, “I wish you had never been born.” Maybe sleeping in the front bedroom did this to me.
   
   Took S to see Don’t Dress for Dinner last night at NC Stage. It was a perfect clockwork, realized–again I would say perfectly–by a skillful and energetic cast. I am just not the right audience for farce, though. It is passingly amusing to see one lie build upon the other a tottering edifice as remarkable for what will be believed as much as for what will be said, but I think such energy should be in the service of– something. Anyway, I kept my mouth shut because S liked it so much. S is tall and thin and Indian-dark, and I wanted to introduce him as my son, to leave people to work out their perplexities.

  Rehearsal in Marshall not so gawdawful as in times past. My colleague bass could actually sing a few notes when I dropped out to cough.

  In a strange passion to bake and cook. I have most of the utensils left over from times in the past when this passion has, however briefly, struck.

 Will use today–I hope– to rewrite Washington Place according to the revelations of the reading.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

November 19, 2014

Reading of Washington Place at S’s house last night. I thought it went well. I didn’t cringe once at something I had mis-written. The one problem I thought it had–the fire coming on too abruptly–L assured me was not a problem, fire being by nature abrupt. The actors were unnecessarily afraid of the Yiddish and the Italian. It was too cold. It is now too cold, morning like the edge of a knife. My muscles are so sore from coughing each cough is to be dreaded. Thank God all that seems to have tapered off, after a frenzy of it at the reading last night. Bought a tiny rose to sit on a table until spring. Bought cappuccino which came without foam, and was lamenting that until I considered all the things the world has to lament.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


November 18, 2014


Thinnest salting of snow; thinnest sliver of moon.

Caught an odd plagiarism, one, it seemed, begging to be caught, so clearly was the matter not something that one of my students would address. Reminds me of the time in Syracuse when I had a paper on the War of 1812 which began, “During the late unpleasantness with Great Britain.” The student didn’t deny or excuse, and that will save her.

Monday, November 17, 2014


November 17, 2014

Hard rain falling on the study roof. High and lovely, actually. Another night of Verdun-ish coughing, though less than before. Was able to sing through the Cantaria rehearsal. Sunday of leisure, in which I wrote heroically.
From Ste in Cambridge:

Hi Pal,
Remember the night we stumbled along from the pickerel trapped arm in arm within the beautiful infiniteness of love. I do. It was magical. I can feel and see my production alive on stage. To be is all I see like Shakespeare jumping from cloud to cloud throwing out his letters in synchronicity. I have found some friends to play with. Lets hope I can bring them to The Black Swan one day. We could play all day.
Love you
Steve