Wednesday, August 31, 2016
August 31, 2016
Odd and very early morning. Have been reading the big Jack Yeats biography, wallowing around in it in delight as though I had never seen it before, though of course I have.
Praying for rain.
Looking for the dates of certain events in previous years of this diary. I used to write quite beautifully here; I don’t anymore, it being now hurried and elliptical, as though I were rushing forward toward some great moment which never seems to arrive, and having time for nothing but the rush.
A memory wells up, that wells up every couple of years and each time leaves me with the same queer impression. I am very young, in bed in my bedroom on Goodview Avenue. It was the “big” bedroom before my sister came. One lamp is on, and in the light of it my father and mother stand, teaching me to pray. “Now I lay me down to sleep—“ But the stark truth is my conviction–at the moment it happened, renewed through every recollection– that they are strangers, unknown to me, that I am a little soul set down among strangers whose ways I must learn. I’m aware of my watching them studiously, aware of carefully doing what they tell me to do, so that I might secure a place in a strange and unfamiliar world. Without the indisputable witness of appearance to declare I am my father’s son, I would be certain I had been adopted. The earliest of my recollections have this as a central theme. Here I am. How did I get here? I must learn these people, learn to amuse or outwit them if I am to move on. Never for one instant did I feel belonging. I was a cub wandered into the pride, trying every way it could to be integrated. Never for one minute. I came with a full armament of morals and innate expectations, which often as not had nothing to do with the things that obtained around me. I have my mother’s hatred of bullies and my father’s sense of preparedness, but I remember actively and consciously taking those on when I saw them, as amiable and correct and things I didn’t have already on my own. I was a puzzlement to them as they were to me. Do I go around asking, “Did you feel separate? A stranger and wayfarer from the very first” Maybe everyone feels exactly the same way, and it is too intimately disappointing to speak of.
The last time I was in Sligo, walking in the dark of depression around Lough Gill, I lit upon the explanation of my life which satisfies me as being true. I remember the moment it dawned on me. I was looking away from the lake, at a dark pool in the forest haunted by one moorcock, and it was beautiful to me in a way that seemed otherworldly. But I recognized it, and it was indeed from another world, and I was, for that fraction of a second, Home. The story is this: I am an angelic being dwelling in Paradise–that Platonic world of spirits before one is called into embodiment. Beside me is my Love, and we are entwined in one another’s hearts, and I think we will live in bliss forever. But my Lover receives a summons that he is to leave. He is to go into the world and be embodied and have what we men call life. I am annihilated. I say to the Powers “Let me go too. Let s go together.” But they say, “It is not your time.” I say, “Whether it is my time or not, I will not be parted from him.” They try to counsel me. They say it will not be on the other side as it is here, and that all the powers and joys I enjoy there will be taken from me without any certainty that my lover and I will find each other, or know each other if we meet. I don’t care. I think my love is great enough to make it work. They apparently can warn but cannot actually prevent me. He departs. I follow. On this side it is exactly as the Powers warned. I am not in the life prepared for me, but one usurped out of will and longing. I remember poetry and beauty, ravels of my past life, but I cannot make them stand and stay in the new world. I am not what I was meant to be, and no one is to blame but me. Moreover, I have pursued him I love fruitlessly from the first moments of consciousness, always too soon or too late, always coming with the wrong offering to the wrong god, having lost all to gain a thing that, in my willfulness, is lost as well. Forlorn from the first hour, I spend every second trying to restore what I cannot restore, to find what cannot be found, to mean something that my life is forbidden to mean. I thought of this on the banks of the Garravogue and I said yes, then lay down in my bed in the hotel and did not stir for two days. I don’t recall writing it down until this hour. It does explain just about everything.
August 30, 2016
Watered sufficiently, so everything in the garden is assured of another day’s life.
The disasters I feared from my playwrights last night did not materialize. What I thought would be calamities were merely irritants, and that can be dealt with. The one with the unendurable voice talks most. It is practically a law. New kid, whose father’s second wife I knew quite well. I said, “I knew your mother” and he set me straight. She is recently dead, in any case. He is one of the best writers I’ve encountered here, though with his Beckett-like evasiveness it’s difficult to tell if he’s wise and good or merely skillful. Three students in two different classes said, “I’m so glad I’m taking this course.” I’m hitting my stride–or an additional stride–just as others of my generation retire.
Full of energy, not all of it directed, or even directable. Some of the edge must come off before I can even sit down to write. Did the Mountain Xpress crossword in ink in fifteen minutes, slamming down horrible coffee . On the downside, I’m continually hoarse, and rivers of phlegm rift up from my lungs. I complain to the doctors; they listen; they all, is if in chorus, declare, “the lungs are clear.”
Delicious day off. I drink in idleness–or what in my life passes for it–like yellow wine.
Monday, August 29, 2016
August 29, 2016
City workers are grinding away in the street at the end of my drive. Was going to talk with them, but thought if they had bad news it wold be best not to hear it.
Poem accepted by Ekphrasis. Not the one I thought they’d want.
Good classes. Playwriting tonight. My special needs student emails me that she has done her assignment, and then emails asking why I didn’t respond to her. The answer: didn’t know I was supposed to; there was no question to answer. I can see how this might build into a – thing, wherein I am accused (as I have been in the past) of not responding to student emails. I do respond when response it called for. I never respond to hysteria. Response, in that case, is encouragement. The academy has had all sorts of troubles and made all sorts of wrong choices through its long history. The current one is to allow– to encourage– emotional blackmail. It doesn’t matter what IS, it matters what I FEEL. Education and Sociology departments are the breeding ground–these days–of wrong choices.
Many of my English majors are double majoring in Classics. This is brilliant. Even though it brings them within grasp of the Boy, the benefits outweigh the perils.
Started to apply for a Guggenheim, but was stalled by what has stalled me in the past. You need four recommenders. I do not know four people whom I would 1) bother or 2) trust with such a task. So, goodbye to that yet again. Twice in the past I have been torpedoed by recommendations. “Oh! I forgot! Is it too late??” Yes. Yes. It is always too late.
August 28, 2016
The streaming gave out before my play came on, of course.
Work hard and early in the mornings. I have to remind myself of that when I stagger around in the afternoons, craving sleep. Not “enjoying” church. Singing the pieces we need to sing, watching the clock. Am I supposed to enjoy it? Is it supposed to feed my soul, or am I to be indentured for years for a revelation or two that happened and passed long ago? Don’t know. Except everything makes me impatient just now, so I should wait until things settle. Cantaria made me REALLY impatient, with the impatience one has at things which never change. I say to DJ, “Is suicide really a sin?” He says, “It depends on the circumstances.”
August 27, 2016
The plays in Tacoma got a review on a blog, though, of course, my play was the one not so much as mentioned. They’re streaming tonight’s performance. Was disgusted when 7:30 came and there was nothing on the screen, until I realized Tacoma’s 7:30 is not my 7:30. For a while there was a shot of an empty stage 3000 miles away. Even that was exciting. Now a couple is rehearsing their scene, and it is terrible; that is oddly comforting. Planted swamp hibiscus I got cheap at the tailgate market. Attended the Cantaria “cook-out.”The place was so hard to find the level of enjoyment never quite caught up. Enraged every time someone sends me the notice of a new meeting, a new task. Will have to stop checking e-mail.
Brad advertises a “burning desire for authenticity.” Can’t even imagine what that is.
But the blessing is a screech owl calls in the trees above the pond in the hour just before dawn.
Saturday, August 27, 2016
August 26, 2016
What did I do today? Deeply committed napping, which was a kind of labor, which was the creation and exploration of another world. Found some plants dying, and hit the watering hard. You never know whose roots are deep enough and whose are not. Received an awful chapbook of poems, evidently selected because they’re by a Lebanese woman who grew up not too far from and in places not too unlike those which are now contorted with violence. Bad art climbing the bleeding body of history. Evil combination. We forget that quality alone is objective.
To the Magnetic in the evening to see L’s new play: witty, and funny, and well served by her actors. Regardless of internal quality, there’s little shown at that theater that's likely have a life elsewhere; I think L’s farce could. Realized that I was desperate for the show to begin after I arrived, because I didn’t want to talk to anybody. Enjoyed talking to the ones I did, nevertheless.
August 25, 2016
Set upon a straight keel, cutting the waters.
Rescued dying ostrich ferns from Lowe’s, planted them in my shade garden.
Sam came to my office yesterday before class, looking dark and handsome, the son of a rajah.
“Waiting for the Witch” has been selected for another festival:
The plays for the fourteenth annual North Park Playwright Festival have been selected. Your play, “Waiting for the Witch", was selected for inclusion in the festival. The festival is not a “contest” and plays were selected by directors who wanted to direct them. Twenty four directors chose 24 plays from over 260 submissions.
Your play will be directed by Jonathan Sturch. He may be contacting you to discuss ideas regarding the play. We would like to extend an invitation to you to come and see your play produced. “Waiting for the Witch”, is scheduled to be produced October 7 and 8, 2016, at 8 PM and October 9, 2016, at 2 PM. As a participating playwright you get one complementary admission good for one performance the weekend your play is scheduled for production. Our theater is very small and we have many people involved in the festival so unfortunately we can’t offer more free tickets. If you plan to come please make a “reservation” by calling us at 619 647 4958 or you can email me. Let us know in your call that you are one of our playwrights so we can give you your "ticket". We can’t guarantee a seat if you don’t call. The theater location is North Park Vaudeville and Candy Shoppe, 2031 El Cajon Blvd., San Diego, CA 92104.