Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Bent Creek

November 21, 2007

Rehearsal for the Christmas show was better last night, giving a sense of coherence to the whole project. Parents of the innumerable cast of children will love it. Here’s what I learn: there are no basses on Broadway; I spend most of my time floating around at the top of my range, tenor Es and Fs and a couple of memorable Gs. T said the other night, “Chris doesn’t know you. The music in this part. . . it’s high. I mean it’s HIGH. I mean it’s VERY HIGH.” Finally he played it, and I sang it, and he shut up about how high it was.

Afterwards to Michael A’s, for “poetry night,” though what was going on was boys and girls sitting around in a smoky room listening to Springsteen and probably conversing happily before I showed up. They were smiling, friendly, convivial, getting ready for their Thanksgiving vacation drive to New Jersey, and I felt very much “on,” like a performer invited as entertainment to a party. I hope I rose to it. I hope I was scintillating; that was what I was aiming for, scintillating, though now that I think about it, the mood of the room was friendly, tranquil, relaxed, and perhaps I was just meant to sit tranquilly and soak in the atmosphere. I don’t sit tranquilly very well, and need a stronger signal when that’s what’s expected of me.

Evening: Of the things I might have done today I chose what turned out to be the best: I went hiking in the many-times-bent valley of Bent Creek. It was a fiercely, almost ludicrously beautiful autumn day, with the brown leaves falling and fluttering in piercing white light. Aengus the Young was upon me with his golden harp, as well, and I couldn’t walk half a mile without sitting down upon log or stone to write at a poem. I was sitting by the creek itself when a woman came by, a very old women with two beautiful necklaces on. I startled her there, hunched over quiet at the foot of a tree as though I were a stone myself, but then she called my name. She said she had been to my studio and that she liked my books, and wasn’t I writing another one there with my pen in my hand inches from the face of the water? I allowed as how I was. I skirted the south of Lake Powhatan, as I had not done before, and on the waters of the lake played a bufflehead. I shouted for joy, but not so loud that he might hear me. Maybe there was a female about, too; I didn’t see her. He did not run along the surface before flying like other ducks, but lifted himself directly into the air, fluttering his wings like a songbird. He spent as much time under the lake, I thought, as upon it. A little white bird on the green-gray waters, as happy as I.

Once there were cyclists, and then they went away, and I noticed then that the loudest sound in the world was falling leaves crashing into fallen leaves already on the ground. The second loudest was the scratch of my pen across the page.

A woman with three children came behind me on the trail. I was sitting and writing along the length of the creek, and they came over and began to throw stones in the water exactly where I was sitting. I wondered why this was, given there were thirty miles of meanderings to choose from. But I got up and left, trying to appear resolved on my privacy without appearing huffy about it. She was a nervous mother, and couldn’t let the kids throw their stones without harping at them constantly about getting too near the water. “You’re right at the very edge!” she was shrieking when I finally put a hill between us. What would happen if a child fell in? He would get wet and then come out again and have an adventure to talk about, the stream there gentle and shallow. I walked a long time in the deep woods before I came out again upon the path. I sat by the lake a while and finished my poem, and the mother and her children came out of woods again and did exactly what I was doing, exactly where I was doing it. Again I got up and left, wondering what on earth was on her mind, given the vast expanses available to her which I was not in. As I walked I thought, though, that here was a woman without a husband, three children without a father, and maybe he was missing for more than a walk in the woods. Maybe they had gravitated to me for a kind of protection, for a male presence nearby, without even knowing they were doing it. I hope I didn’t fail them utterly. At the lake, anyway, they could have seen me for a long time moving down the opposite shore, stopping now and then to watch the bufflehead, and even them, with their picnic and their red coats and the little voices piercing the quiet.
November 20, 2007

First rehearsal of the Art Center Christmas Show, Christmas on Broadway, last night. Chris under-presented the part I was to play. I feel harried–again–and a little out of my depth, but when I considered it, it seemed yet more fun than nuisance, so I’ve decided to go ahead. T’s being the music director is problematic. He tells me to sing radically differently from what I’ve spent the last three years learning from Paul, and though I concede Broadway is different from Mahler, it’s not beyond T to say things which will actually–though perhaps inadvertently--damage a person’s confidence. His discourse steers a path between flattery and snideness so inscrutable that one is never sure when or if one is hearing something useful and genuine in the middle. But, one plunges forward, looking, once again, at the calendar for the day when it will be all over.
Neither of us knew who “Ito” is in Mame, and he said, “Well you’re playing it, so I imagine he’s a buffoon.” Two minutes later he mentioned that Art said I was “by far the best actor ever to step onto the stage at HART,” with the hushed tones of an acolyte. Where does one find a path into such a disposition?

“Winter Birds,” the part of it now completed, premieres tonight at St. Bart’s in New York. Not especially heartbroken not to be there, what with the lights of Broadway dimmed and the weather here perfect.

Late night. Tonight’s rehearsal was chaos, but a rather pleasant one. One must admire Chris Lynn’s imperturbable patience, his systematic progress through situations which I don’t believe I could endure for a moment. He is doing valuable work at the Arts Center, giving kids a discipline, a skill, and an avocation. My guess is that he sleeps soundly at night.
Stopped at the Usual for drinks, greeted the people I know, thought that it is an odd life, all in all.
November 19, 2007

Met my former student Jacob R in the YMCA parking lot. He was looking smooth and bright and happy, with his baby in the car seat. Every time you ask Jacob how he is, he says “Great, I’m great,” and, as is not always the case, one believes him. When he was my advisee there was a professor who irritated him, but other than that he seemed to go from strength to strength, trying new classes, learning new skills, riding his bike to a sort of local cycling fame that few of his academic peers knew about. In Poetry Performance he was the class favorite; he was fearless and hardworking and, though not at the outset particularly good, he was never embarrassing, because he was never embarrassed. All of this instills an awkwardness in casual contact such as today’s, for he seems conscious of his good fortune, and realizes there’s not much to talk about on the superficial level once you’ve said, “Great, everything’s great.” One strategy is to assume he’s covering up, that he’s keeping the darkness in him secret, though that is the prejudice of our dark hearts, presuming that there is no one on the earth truly happy with his lot.


November 18, 2007

Sang two services, attended the senior reading, attended Cantaria rehearsal, and now await the fifth task of what is meant to be Sunday, a rehearsal here at the house. And this on top of arriving home at 12:30 this morning from Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. I’d had a visit to Dollywood at the back of my mind for a while, and when the occasion came up–an idea driven by Jack and Leland–I agreed, though it was the one free day in weeks and weeks on either side. The day began oddly: Jocasta was acting very strangely, sagging down on her legs, her eyes closing, apparently unable to stand. I thought she was dying, and my emotions were drained over that before anything else began. She sits on my lap now as I type, wondering what all the fuss had been about. Anyway, we gathered at All Souls in the early morning, Jack, Leland, Greg D, Steve, DJ, Amy and Bill, Kyle and myself and hit Dollywood just after opening. I don’t know what I thought it was going to be. I don’t know what I thought I’d find there. I know thousands of people enjoy it, but I found it little short of horrifying. It was steeped black in a false Americana, all nostalgia and self-satisfaction and all purchasable at the local shops. It pretended to history–the Appalachia of the greeting card–while prettifying history to the point of unrecognizability. I think they would have had cabins full of happy singing slaves had they dared. I wanted to see the stage shows, thinking they might not wholly disresemble theater, but the one we managed to see, Babes in Toyland, was appalling on multiple levels. Skill was not one of them, for it was well and expensively done, but the spirit was sealed in plastic, garish and glittering and dishonest. At one point the most important thing in the world was revealed. What was it? Being home for Christmas. What kind of people would suggest that as the most important thing in the world? The awfulness of it was largely on a spiritual level, and hence difficult to put into words. But the park was beautiful by night, all lit for Christmas. I liked that. I liked the one sycamore all wrapped in blue lights so it looked blue itself, strange and blue and paradisal. The people who rode the roller coasters had a better time than I did. I did ride one little one, and remembered the helpless horror of the sheer drop, which I thought I’d put behind me with the vow never to ride rides again. I can see how others find that sensation exciting. I don’t.

Good rehearsal of Hat in my front room, the actors fending off kittens as they worked.
November 17, 2007

Breaking dawn. Two carloads of us head for Dollywood in a few hours. May it sustain the onslaught.

Coffee with Tom in the early morning yesterday. He told me that he had met movie star Robbie Benson at the Asheville Film Festival, and moments later in he walked with his wife (I suppose) Karla DeVito, who is the heart-stopping female vocals on the Meatloaf albums. Benson was in successful disguise as a long-haired mountain hippie in a conspicuously new Yankees jacket, but if you looked close, the almost impossibly dewy youth was still alive in his face. Tom wanted to talk to him–and I sort of wanted to meet Karla–but my celebrity-aversion won the day and we merely sat and watched. I said that I wanted to allow them some peace and anonymity, and perhaps that really was the issue.

DJ and I went to see the new movie Beowulf. He made me promise not to obsess is it was “wrong.” It often was “wrong,” but I liked it, behind my 3-D glasses and all.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

November 15, 2007

Very dark, blessedly rainy, very early. One or the other of the kittens slept in the palm of my hand all night. They stagger to their bowls in the morning, which I fill up, then it’s full-out mayhem for hours on end. I laugh all the time.

Meeting for Crown of Shadows last night, the house full and loud, a chaos of movement not unlike the kittens’, but by very much bigger bodies. I’m uneasy having people–let alone crowds-- in my home space, but I didn’t used to be, so perhaps I’ll dig my way back into civility. Anne-Marie is going to make an excellent Isabella. She already is an excellent Isabella. Told Adam and her they could do the show tonight and, if it were all acting, it would be a success. M’s budget for the festival is $15,000. I almost laughed out loud when I heard it, but, on the other hand, what do I know? I have never succeeded at a really big event because I have only tried once, with City Dionysia, and who knows how that might have gone the second time. But everyone is enthused, and so I shoulder my way into the kingdom of enthusiasm with a smile on my face, a smile which becomes more genuine as the days pass. The honor they’re doing me by addressing my plays with such ebullience may never be repeated in my lifetime.

Plus, I like them. I shouldn’t make a kitten analogy, but that’s what creeps into my mind. They do what they do and I smile, grateful to have been a witness. TAB stayed a couple of hours after everybody else left to show me poems and a bit of a play and to talk. He thanked me profusely for my time, but I should have been thanking him. I never met anyone like him, and I watched him as if I were Miranda and he one of the shipwrecked sailors, fascinated, grateful. His diffident eloquence, his apparent fragility, his sort of defeated hopefulness are all new to me, and I could but cast around for way to treat him right. I know that if any stayed behind and claimed my attention, it would be the same.

I never stay behind. That is my loss.

I pray for things–like company–and when I get them, they are so much stranger and richer than what I thought I was asking for. MA asked me why I was a believer, and the first answer--though not the one I gave him-- is that things are so much stranger and richer than they could possibly be by accident.
November 14, 2007

Long dream of a burning church last night. Two of us– I’ve forgotten who the other was, though maybe it was Tom– were there when the fire started, and called the fire trucks, which did not come. We watched it burn to the ground then poked around in the ruins to see if anything was salvageable. Turned out that every scorched bookcase or shelf had another one behind it, full of hidden documents, still readable after the fire.

Discovered that Roger Casement and I share a birthday. Next to Edgar Rice Burroughs, this is the best one yet.

Lunch with Chall, in one of his patterned thrift shop jackets that only he can wear. He is so cultured and self-possessed I always feel like a bit of a ruffian in his presence. I was happy talking with him. I think he invited me to lunch to comfort me for being hated by everyone because of my blog. What a curiosity that continues to be to me. What a welter of misapprehensions–some of them clearly mine! I wonder if anyone has considered what mischief I could do if mischief were my actual object.

Riley passed outside on the walk as we ate. He was like the sun. The recollection warms me again.
November 13, 2007

Dug out some of the blasted morning glories. They have a pale tan root as thick as my wrist.

The Fine Arts League of Willoughby, Ohio, has chosen Ten Thousand Nights for their winter one-act festival. The little play would have gotten me to Finland if that contest hadn’t fallen through; it’s very unlikely that it will get me to Willoughby, which can’t be a twentieth of the distance.

The kittens continue the reign of anarchy. They seem to sleep at night, though, or else I just stop hearing them.

And now, by night, poetry, as there has not been in many a long night. Somebody be praised.
November 12, 2007

J came over last night, and regardless of my exhaustion–which was considerable– I wouldn’t turn him away. He adored the kittens. It wasn’t till he asked that I thought to write down what Mickey’s mother said, that they are New Orleans orphans rescued from the broken streets, and that she and her rescue organization have hundreds like them to find homes for. J‘s approval made “Circe” and “Maude” permanent. The kittens insisted on being part of the action, and what start as embraces ended up being kitten-wrestling and a good deal of laughter. Almost broke my face smiling at J asleep in the candlelight, two tiny kittens and colossal Titus asleep against the length of his body. Indignant Jocasta curls in my lap as I type, wanting assurance in the midst of change.

J must have read my mind deeper than I was. I needed him without knowing that’s what I needed.

After several freezes, the roses remain, and the snapdragons, whose hardiness is a surprise to me.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

November 11, 2007

Evening, after a long ride from Waynesville, red tail light against red tail light in the endless construction zone of route 40. We closed Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf tonight, and though I expected my reaction to be unmitigated joy, I am sad. I don’t know exactly what I’m sad about. I don’t miss the play. I miss the players– Belve and Trinity and Mickey were excellent company. Mickey is one of few actors who can keep up with me, my momentary shifts and innovations-- yes, and mistakes-- which drive most others mad. I think we were a good team. I think we showed Waynesville something. Suzanne is witty and bawdy and sexy. Art is big and affectionate and sincere. Little Adam laughs bent over at the waist, loud and free, the way I do. I miss them all.

Saw Ellen in the café yesterday. We chitchatted. She has been filming here and there for months at a time. I told myself that explained the silence. The casualness of our reunion was a blessing. The casualness of our reunion was a disappointment.

Clambering up my back and across my shoulders are Circe and Maud, my new kittens, thanks to Mickey’s mom. I laughed at them until I fell asleep last night, their racing across the floors of their new domain, standing on their hind legs boxing the air, tussling and wresting in every corner, climbing upon me to sleep the violent sleep of the young. I had forgotten Dinosaur Matinee. Titus is mature and Jocasta is old and Theseus and Conrad are gone. But Circe and Maude rumble and tumble, and I smile every time they do. Circe has a magic streak down her forehead and a passionate disposition; Maud is pale and beautiful, and if there were a Yeats cat, she would be his Maud. I needed something to take my mind from the sadness I don’t completely understand, and they are it.
November 10, 2007

Saturday morning. The water in the birdbath was liquid this morning, so it was a clement night, though why I care I don’t know, since everything is dead anyway.

The performance last night was pretty good, though I continue to wonder why we slip up in different places each night, as though the play were never going to allow us full mastery. It’s like a basket of kittens. Get one section settled in and another begins to break into chaos. Does the audience like it? Those who come backstage to talk do. Or say they do. I guess if you know all the rough spots and moments of panic, you assume they’re visible to everyone. Maybe we’re getting away with it. The cast makes this ordeal endurable. Belve said, “I don’t think I could do this play with any other group of people,” and I agreed.

Chall and Lucia were at the performance. They look happy. Jim, Phil, Kitty, Handsome John Highsmith, who reminded me that his fundraising efforts had built the theater. Other people were there, too, but the green room at the theater is lit so gloomily that it made me a little sad to see everybody in it, as though it were the lobby of a funeral home.

Evening. Today was supposed to be the studio stroll, and I tended my studio for a while, but I was too sad, too worried about tonight, too overcome by the probable futility of it all to stay the whole time. The good part was seeing Richmond. The good part was Mickey and Stan and Mickey’s mom and stepfather coming to the studio with four kittens for me to choose from. Though I’d wanted but one, I chose two who Mickey’s mom had said had become inseparable companions. That turned out to be well with Titus and Conrad, and may it be so again. They will be mine tonight after the performance, and may they turn my mind to kittenish things. And may they sleep very well on a night when I absolutely must.

Sadness today, difficult to pin down. Maybe just autumn.
November 9, 2007

Dusky brownish twilight. I must hit the road toward Waynesville for tonight’s performance in five minutes. I was frightened in my house for a moment, frightened at the brown, quiet isolation. I have professional life and I have solitude. . . but where the mid-ground? Where has intimacy gone? It shouldn’t be frightening, but for a moment, it was. What if it were twenty years from now, and the twilight gathering like this, and me facing a night without a show, alone, no hope, no remembrance, of anything else? I guess it’s time for some fresh air. Onward.
November 8, 2007

A bright cool day has become a purple cold night. Good classes today. Good students. I do try to remember my college classes, recalling how much I was engaged with them, how much they sparked my curiosity or shuddered my soul. I think they began to rock me seriously in graduate school; I give my students the benefit of that remembrance, murmuring, “You have time.”

I think I have ended my association with Laurel of Asheville. They “didn’t have room” for my December column, which I had thought of as a little masterpiece. Well, these things have their beginnings and their ends. Let’s see if anybody notices.

Seven thousand more in the red over this damn furnace, Something has to happen quick. I don’t think I’m going to New York for the premiere of Winter Birds, as I might have done without a second thought six months ago. Part of it is money. Part of it is the roaring hell of airports in the days around Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

November 7, 2007

Caroline stopped me in the alley to tell me that Lola has died of a heart attack. “Look at the picture in the Citizen-Times,” she said, “I just took it the other day. The light’s on her head; she looks like an angel.” Lola Gross was thirty seven. In my life she was funny and annoying, often amazingly thoughtful, one of those neighbors at whom you cringe when you see them coming but smile when you think of them later. What was she in her own? She was disabled, put-upon, disappointed and rejected, but managed somehow to keep slugging away. I admired that even when she was a pain in the neck. She tried hard to make a life for herself, and her failures were not always her own. She gave me a glass hummingbird for my Christmas tree one year, and that means that one person, anyway, will be thinking of her at least once a year for a while. No, more than that. I think of her now.

Almost sinful luxury of a day in which there was nothing which had to be done. Painted. Went to the Y after a month’s absence. Napped heroically. Ate tomato soup as I did on days like this when I was a boy.
November 5, 2007

Rose with the tiny dying crest of the moon outside the bathroom window, enormous Venus beside him, both still east of zenith, both ready to be overtaken by the sun.
November 4, 2007

Last night’s VW earned some of the accolades heaped on the previous one, for it was nearly perfect. Oddly–or perhaps expectably– the crowd was less demonstrative. Orion glittered over Asheville as I drove out afterwards, and but for the trees and the mountains, I could have followed him home.
November 3, 2007

I never tell people “that was the greatest performance I have ever seen on this stage,” or “that was the best acting I’ve ever seen,” unless it was, but I assume others are not so punctilious, for I had an ear full of that last night at the opening night party. I suspect Mickey did too. We have the distinction of knowing what a shambles some of the scenes were. It’s frightening how if one person gets a little off the whole thing can go to hell for a while, how it can become an ecstasy of groping toward firm ground. But it is also true that some projects gain a momentum which, seemingly, no misstep can derail. People are determined to think this is a great play nobly done, and I say “fine.” Stephanie brought me a rose backstage.

My morning glories are blasted; the cannas, dahlias, nasturtium, tomatoes, peppers, all blasted by the frost. The roses remain, the gold and the pink in bloom, the antique one I forget the name of-- with blossoms ranging from parchment to peach-- in the most glorious bloom of its life. Cyclamen stud the leaf-littered shade of the back yard. What prompted me to plant them in straight lines I don’t know, but it is a little disturbing. Pink, too, is a disturbing color in autumn. The hydrangeas, sheltered by the porch and the rhododendrons, endure, the one big blue blossom browned at one edge, where it peaked out into the wind. The air is perfect, cool but not cold; the light is perfect, a blue, pervading radiance short of aggression.

Friday, November 2, 2007

November 2, 2007

Grayish, yellowish morning. We opened (well, a “dress rehearsal” with a paying crowd) Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf last night. I felt very fluid and “in the grove” the night before, less but adequately so last night. People who hated the show are not likely to stay and talk about it, but the people who stayed and talked about it seemed to like it to a degree exceeding reasonable expectations. I understand it is a shattering experience for an audience. It is certainly a crushing experience for an actor. At the end of Act I, I couldn’t believe that there were two acts to go, couldn’t imagine where I’d find the energy to do them. The crowd found the play a good deal funnier than I expected, but maybe that was the preponderance of students. After the show Mickey and Belve and Cody and a crowd went to The Usual for food and drinks; I could no more have followed them than flown to the moon. This is why I’m alone. When I’m tired and not hungry, I fail to join everyone at the restaurant in the dead of night. This had probably been a mistake. This morning I feel that I had done hard labor all day. Our directors were pleased with us. I think we are something not normally seen in Waynesville.

Jocasta scratches her chin on the edge of the desk. Three hellebores sit on the porch after I wrestled them out of their all-but-impregnable packaging. They wait to have their toes set back in the earth.

The gas furnace came on and heated the house this morning, having chosen the hour, apparently, on its own.

I walked down from the alley just as a screen fell from Caroline’s bathroom window.

On three consecutive nights I was on Main Street in Waynesville just at 11 PM, the moment when the traffic lights turn to give Main Street unimpeded flashing yellows. At light after light I would be gliding to a stop for a red, to have it change to flashing yellow just as I reached the intersection. It was wonderful.
November 1, 2007

Butter colored dawn. I’ve already exhausted myself with morning furies, coming upon me when my resistance was down and the recalcitrance of the universe was up.

The good thing in the news is that the Satan-worshipers at Westboro Baptist in Kansas will have to pay a little for a great wrong. One counts the little victories, which always seem futile, but the world keeps turning, so they must not wholly be.

Dress rehearsal last night. It actually went rather well, for our part, though on the production part nothing was ready, not the set, not the lights, not the sound cues, not the props; there was even notice that the production schedule had been wrong. HART is a fine facility, but it is run on a kind of home-grown American amateurism that in some ways is dear and in other ways not. The one problem we actors have left is that the play is long, very long, rambling, repetitious, the rehearsal period was short, and there has not been a night when we haven’t stopped dead because someone had no idea what the next non-sequitur was, and nobody else could help him. I asked for a prompter in the pit, just in case. The answer I got from our directorial duo, after they had the entire rehearsal to hatch it, was that our groping about for the path was endearing in some way, in some way attractively “in character,” and they would rather have that than the right line. I was too tired to be disgusted then. I am disgusted now. I do not, actually, have the sense of having been directed in this play. Mickey and I find our way about the stage, and it seems to be working. When S has an idea, we work it into the pattern, not because it is especially helpful, but because our director has had an idea, and that sort of thing should be encouraged. I am tired now. I shall no doubt feel better tonight. Providing we succeed.
October 31, 2007

Earliest moments of Halloween, the moon appropriately like a crookedly sliced pumpkin, orange and low over the mountains. VW rehearsal a thousand % improvement over last night, at least in terms of volume of lines remembered. In other ways, I think, too, Even when we are at full power, the play is going to be three hours long. What audience can endure that? We may be better or worse than I think we are. Right now there is no way to know. It is very late, and I have nothing to say, but I keep typing because I am too jazzed to go to bed.

The degree of stress in my life now becomes measurable when it is relieved a little, and I can make comparison-- such as this morning, when I managed to write some in the café, and the tension of not writing relaxed for the moment. Sexual release goes through my body like a drug, as if I had been a clenched fist suddenly unclenched. I don’t know how the celibate keep from becoming murderers. I can’t live this way for very long. When I think of the lives I might have chosen which would have presented these conditions perpetually, I thank God for the choice actually made. People–and this includes me–do not understand the wide swathes of what is apparently nothing going on necessary for any creative work.
October 30, 2007

Have been up and about in the gray morning. Stood in the frost-covered garden, and didn’t try to choke back the tears of botanical frustration and sadness, as nobody was watching. I think the one red rose may survive.

Letter from Barbara Gislason, my erstwhile agent. I know it was meant to be illuminating and enlightening, and I know I am meant to share her delight in her new spiritual path, and perhaps I do share it to some degree, but somewhere behind the swirling veils of anger and frustration. She kept me waiting for five years. She commissioned me to write a book for her, on a very clear-- if not fully legal-- understanding of publication, a book so specific that it may or may not be useful to me elsewhere. Amid periods of neglect she phoned every now and then and left the message “don’t give up on me,” which I-- foolishly, as it turns out-- took to heart. I am happy she has found a satisfying thing to do. It’s a shame that doing it made her a liar in other areas of commitment, but one chooses and goes on. The part of the stories of Jesus and the Buddha when they abandoned–or advised others to abandon–those who depended on them have always bothered me. The fact that Siddhartha had a wife and son–not to mention a kingdom-- is shrugged off as though they were mere inconveniences. I don’t pretend to understand the mysteries surrounding these things, but I think it is an error to hold them up as examples of good behavior to those who are not gods.

I do seem to be beset by professional deadbeats–two disappearing agents, that wretch David Godine, most lately Orion magazine– is it me? Do I have “sucker” printed invisibly on my stationery or something? If it’s me, I don’t know how. I try to be the soul of cooperation. I have cooperated myself mostly into innumerable dead ends.

The new furnace, though cold as mud, is Chinese red. I like that.
October 29, 2007

Cold night, frost. I think my comfrey is annihilated, but that may be the only casualty. Another casualty, though, was my curious faith that my new and expensive furnace was working, even though it was heating nothing. A city inspector appeared first thing this morning (steel gray eyes, shaved head, a little dangerous-looking, surprisingly redolent of cologne; woke me right up) to confirm that the gas is not yet hooked up. It’s well past time for the furnace to stop being an issue in my life. Not one winter went by without fussing with the old one, and it was FEBRUARY when I began trying to get this one installed. The final work order is dated August. The universe thinks that by frustrating me in those areas which really bother me–such as being cold-- I will be mellowed into a sense of resignation and acceptance. In this it is quite wrong. I become a steel fist of insistence, a brazen klaxon. The universe should pay better attention.

Noon: Drove with Roland to the DMV to transfer the title to the Ford. We laughed and joked in the car, and I thought what it might be like to have a grown son. Though the actual experience with Roland was sweet and funny, the thought which came after it was the bitterest sorrow and loneliness, and one which now can never be redressed. I don’t remember choosing this. I only remember discovering it come upon me.

Just past midnight. Tomorrow, really. Moon like a crooked cup, spilling whatever was inside. Rehearsal tonight was lousy. I thought, though our directors seemed to think it had leapt forward by light years. Had it? Such a leap would make up for vast areas of the text being skipped over, mostly by me. I was frightened driving home in the suddenly surpassing darkness. Every sudden light was a wild creature leaping from the shadows to collide with my car.