Thursday, October 27, 2016

October 27, 2016

Someone sent me a photo of the surface of Mars. I thought that my yard will look the same if I doesn’t rain sometime. Merry flowering maples in red and gold. Lay on the couch with Maud on my stomach, and though she seemed at peace, I had troubled daylight dreams. The dreams were of tasks I had to do and meetings I was missing, but when I troubled myself awake, I realized there were, at the moment, no such things.
Take away from last weekend’s conference: at a writers’ conference I am generally the best and the most obscure. This is an unaccountable match.
Lindsey the Retirement Lady was here, laying out the plan for the twilight of my life. She has it figured that I’ll have plenty of resources until I’m 95, which is the year her plan stops. I suppose I have no business living past 95 anyway.
Applied for a state arts grant, the 22nd time I had done so. To be turned down 21 times in a field I know to be thin, a quadrant in which I know myself to be a supernova in comparison, led me to assume that there was some conspiracy against me in Raleigh. I don’t know that to be untrue, but this time I listened to the recorded webinar on “how to apply” and realized that every one of those 21 times I had done exactly what they told us not to do. I’d assumed they’d choose the best manuscript, give money to someone who meant to continue doing the best work in the state, whereas the actual writing is almost irrelevant. They want the best tale of need. Understood, attempted. We’ll see.
The State votes us a one-time pay augmentation. Mine amounts to $430. Yahoo.
The Citizen-Times continues its protracted suicide, releasing Tony Kiss and Dale Neal, both fixtures in the Asheville community. Both men are past 50 and have served long and well. Wonder what they will do–
Sound of earthmovers and machines at the end of the drive. This bit of street has received more activity without apparent result than any spot on earth. Cities have risen in less time.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

October 25, 2016

Twelve bags of mulch on the garden Sunday, twelve more today. I think I have almost mulched to my heart’s content. Excellent work out of my playwrights. Emily– Charlotte Corday-- confirmed my suspicion that the play was not directed in the usual sense at all. “Just go out there and have fun.” Jesus. De Sade’s meek affect was because the director had said do him once, “You don’t have to shout the whole thing.” So, tones right for a chat around the lunch table after that. No middle ground. Another brilliant day, blue as God’s own eggshell. Dahlia, rose, flowering maple in bloom.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

October 23, 2016

Each time the furnace kicks on I praise the gods.
Yesterday spent at the conference. Meditation in the morning, at which I read Hopkins. My own reading went well, I suppose, but how can you tell? I was very much different from anybody else there. My work least resembled a homily. Lovely lunch at the Chancellor’s. Despite determination, I had to skip the community dinner and come home for a nap. I fell flat asleep in someone’s discussion, me so out of it I don’t even remember who it was. In the evening we read again, briefly, then T did a two hour  interview of the author of The Warmth of Other Suns. This could not be said during the conference, she being our guest of honor, but I’ve never sat down and listened to T, allowing her program to waft passively through the air as I’m about other tasks on a Sunday morning. When I have attended, I’ve found her breathless, attenuated, boring. . . or should I just say, not exactly to my taste. SO, picture me in the front row for the evening overhearing a DETAILED conversation about a book I hadn’t read. Anyway, all things come to an end, and my colleagues cover themselves with glory by pulling this conference off so nobly. Me, I have two fat novels to read before morning, and bags of mulch to buy while they’re at a reduced price.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

October 22, 2016

Tolstoy dragged over the coals yesterday for being long-winded. Everyone in the room thought they could get poor Ivan Ilych into his grave much faster.
Day one of Faith & Literature. I felt my energy drain away, so I was able to attend only one session, and it was oddly disheartening. The honored presenters seemed to have learned their lines but had no real connection to the play. Writers at writing conferences, the important ones at the front of the room, have a certain decorum, jolly and eloquent and off-hand and self-deprecating, broadcasting at once that what they do is of no consequence and of paramount consequence, a sort of backward vanity, longing for a moderator or audience member to say ask the right question to assert their brilliance while yet appearing all unwilling. I probably look like an ass for fighting it. I’m on pretty much all day today, so there will be no sneaking home for a nap. 
Marat/Sade at the university last night. I thought it would conserve my energy just to sit and watch, but I was wrong. Matthew had done new music for it, and the music was excellent (better than the original), if weakly performed. The show was a miss, though anywhere you looked the young actor was working hard and concentrating on his task. I noticed after a while-- trying to explain why a show so well designed was not working-- that every single line was delivered wrong, slightly wrong or cataclysmically wrong. Emphasis up when emphasis should be down, lines that should be flipped off lingered over, significant lines whispered into the floorboards. Actor training has always, always been the department’s weakness. They know how to move but they don’t know how to speak, and the concept “interpreting the line” is not thought of. I remembered playing Kokol forty five years ago. I remembered every line, which was worse for the present night, in a way. I remembered almost every actor, some of whom I had not thought of since.
Hazel Robinson is dead. I am one of those many in her debt.
Sudden winter. The office is cold.

Friday, October 21, 2016

October 21, 2016

Amazing and joint-restoring trip to the gym. All is better with a little exercise. This sun keeps coming up over the hill.
Voted on the first day of early voting, standing in a long line at the library, the line itself a referendum on the question of early voting. The women of my acquaintance were wearing pantsuits in honor of Hillary. I thought voting against the second Bush was the highest duty I have had as a citizen, but this year the peril is ten times more dire, and as that ended in a shocking mistake, this may yet. I don’t think so. Some idiocies are too great even for the American electorate. Stood in line with G, who comforted me with the confidence that the Boy’s actions are as mysterious and corrupt to her as they are to me, though she has nowhere to escape. She called me “the shining star, the diamond,” and said that when she was giving a lecture at UT, a poster announced that someone else was giving a lecture on me. Could I have known about that? Could I have put that out of my head? Came home and wrote a mock-heroic in couplets about the Boy and his misdeeds. Maybe that got it finally out of my system.
Cyclamen in bloom, which is good. Flowering maple in bloom, which is out of season.
Met Michael H's wife Mari and her daughter Alex at the Catawba Brewery downtown. Tried to think of the last time I saw Michael– on the snowfields of the Clark Reservation near Syracuse, where I tried to ski? She met Michael and his first wife when they came to her restaurant, and when the wife died, she comforted him. Liked them and liked the little street that seems to have sprung up while we looked the other way. On up to the Fine Arts to see a film about Robert Shaw that the church sponsored. I have gone out of my way to keep my artistic intensities and obsessions from being public. Adds to my obscurity, but saves everybody else’s feelings. Today begins the Faith and Literature Conference, all of which reminds me how much energy I have expended to give myself a quiet life, where every minute might be a productive minute. Not so for parcels of the foreseeable future.
I will wear pink. That will set some kind of tone.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

October 19, 2016

Stood in the blazing autumn light of the garden. Something hung in the air maybe twenty inches away. I looked, and it was a dragonfly, hovering as though still in the air. But what a dragonfly! It was night black inlaid with blazing emerald, its eyes green and golden. It was the most beautiful creature in that present world. It curved around and buzzed the empty pond, saying “Your fish are gone, but now I can lay my eggs in safety. Is that not compensation? Am I not as beautiful as they?”  She owns the air above the pond now, circling, blazing and darkening in the varying light.
Sick and weak again. Sleep prodigiously. Meeting with the Provost to discuss the future of an MFA in writing at UNCA. Provost says, “We are famous with the GA for never trying anything new.” The weekend of Faith and Literature Conference approaches, and I learn the full, and daunting, extent of my participation. Gird the loins. Seize the weapon.

October 17, 2016

Steve and DJ and I ate at Avenue M after Cantaria, and after that I went to bed immediately, shedding clothing as I walked toward the bed, so profound was my exhaustion.

Last night, glimpsed as I staggered from the car, stupendous moon.

One accepts a little TSA pilfering. This time, oddly, they took the charger for my little canon camera.