Saturday, February 13, 2016


February 12, 2016

Bitter cold. Typing fully dressed, with a hat on my head. Didn’t get much sleep last night, but apparently didn’t need it, for I woke refreshed. Theater last night at the Magnetic. I’d seen the show before as a promising sketch. It’s still a sketch, though expanded to the length of a full-length plain. It did not grow, merely attenuated. But the moon was beautiful when we left the house. Talked merrily with Tracy, whom I would choose as model if someone wanted me to do a portrait of Venus.

Friday, February 12, 2016


February 11, 2016

During the Ash Wednesday litany, where we ask forgiveness for various sins, I was dismayed to hear a sin of mine included in every single paragraph. I do avoid the Big Ten, but when it gets subtler than that, I shudder with culpability. One means well every hour of the day, or at least I do. It is a little shocking– a little unfair– to fall so short.

Thursday, February 11, 2016


February 10, 2016

What does a classroom know of what is going on inside their professor?

Fasted. Received the ashes. The ashes are cold and wet, which is rather a shock. You expect them to be dry as the dust they represent.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016


February 9, 2016

Snow for an hour, then no snow, then snow again. The ground where no snow lies on it seems raw and hurt.

Days of almost comical catastrophe, one after the other. One stands, brushes off, prepares for the next blow.  In a dream, or maybe a waking revery, I paused in the journey through a dark labyrinth. My way was lit by a candle I held in my hand. I stood in an open place amid many tunnels, and I decided to turn back, to retrace my steps, to return to the beginning, since it was clear I was never going to find the end. I had no illusion about one way turning out any better than another, but I felt as I retraced my steps a dissipating heaviness, as if each mistake erased lightened me a little. After a while– though still irredeemably lost– I felt younger, the missteps rolling off of me like sloughing hide. I was a bewildered and forlorn boy, which is more romantic, anyway, than being a bewildered and forlorn man.

Psychodrama with Fed Ex, who were trying not to deliver my euros. When I was finally at the station with the apparently undeliverable parcel in my hand, the man explained to me that Fed Ex customer service has nothing to do with actual Fed Ex, and will tell customers all sorts of preposterous things they evidently make up on the spot.

Spotify asks me to try a station they have prepared especially for me. Skeptically I try it, but to my surprise it’s perfect. They really have attended to my preferences. This I hold up as the one triumph of past days.

Good work out, the shoulders far more workable than they were when it was at the worst.

February 8, 2016

The guest preacher at All Souls was speaking of a friend of hers in despair. The friend asked, “Am I going to hell?”
The preacher said, “Do you feel abandoned by God?”
“Yes.”
“Then you are in hell already.” 
But that is the way I feel, too– every day when I think about it, which is almost every day.  I understand the Calvinists better, who maintain you can go to hell through no particular actions of your own.

Sunday, February 7, 2016


February 7, 2016

Arvo Part on the CD.

There were so many instances of absent-mindedness, distraction, foolishly tender emotion in the last few days that I was, in a way, relieved to find out I was actually sick. Almost, toward the end, immobile with pain. Reached a crisis, shivering on the couch, covered with my coat, took the pills. Some better quickly; the rest comes gradually.   

The pine shed great limbs in the last storm, that battered down a portion of my fence. Sawed and cleared the limbs. The pine sap on my hand smelled clean and sharp. Will worry about the fence later.
  
Waited for Zach for an hour before realizing that one of the things the fever blotted out was recollection that he had rescheduled. Waited around the house for six hours for the Am Ex guy to bring my euros, realizing finally that I had misread the door notice and there are no Saturday deliveries. Too sick to have gone very far anyway.
  
The paint came off the front bathroom wall overnight. I assumed a leak in the roof, though I couldn’t see one. Internetted some service who gives your name and your problem to a number of professionals, and big Jim was at my door in under an hour. He climbed the roof and sealed around a couple of pipes, which he thought might be the problem. He chuckled sadly at the roof’s advanced age, and assured me that Stewart had lied about the date of replacement. Big Jim moved here from New Orleans when he visited once and saw that the lead story on the news was ducklings fallen into a sewer, and he wanted to live here rather than a place where they couldn’t mention all the murders of a day in a single newscast. One son is a ear, nose and throat specialist, the other an anesthesiologist. The wall behind the paint is fascinating, a mosaic of old paint jobs, and I may just leave it for a while.
  
Made my first batch of from-scratch baked beans– a triumph. Bon Appetite suggests in its article on “the bean” that its gas-producing qualities are exaggerated. This is not true.
  
J takes my piano with her to Florida, “She just hauled it away,” Steven says. It’s all right. It has a next episode in its adventure.

My Syrian friend Mojahed takes pictures of himself reclining at ease beside a Swedish lake. He made it out, whether because of connections or his striking beauty I don’t know.
  
Too cold in the study almost to work when you first sit down. Finish a paragraph or two and you don’t notice it. It is not true, however, that one gets used to everything.

February 3, 2016

I have more time to sleep than I have need to sleep, which means that I have hours that seem to be filled with nothing but REM. Lately the dreams were largely of travel, an urge I may have satisfied with buying tickets to Amsterdam yesterday. I didn’t know I wanted to go to Amsterdam in particular, but I saw my fingers typing the word, and I just went along with them. It has the virtue of being marvelously easy to get to. The dreams are vivid and tenacious, clinging even when I get up to take a piss or look around the dark house. I can see how, at an advanced age, they may become difficult to tell from “real life.”