Saturday, March 29, 2008

March 29, 2008

Black Swan reading of Elisabeth’s Mr Medea at the Arts Council. The writing was good, though the play wasn’t, yet. There was surprising interest from the community and from my students. If E were disappointed by the reception of the piece, she could comfort herself by flying out the next day to open I Wish I Had a Sylvia Plath in London. AG was there, and I was surprised by how much I had missed him.

Sunnyspot mails me a contract for Edward the King which gives them exclusive rights–renewable-- for a year after the opening in New York for $100. I won’t complain, because at some point I decided on a life in which one didn’t complain about that sort of thing, but this doesn’t relieve me of the suspicion that maybe I should complain about it, that perhaps my casual approach to these matters not only keeps me poor, but sends out a vibration of amateurism. We are all children of our upbringing, and mother was proud to teach me that if you do the best work you will be rewarded in something close to proportion, and that upright effort is preferable to cunning. It was tragic to subscribe to that notion as I have done, but maybe it would have been worse not to.

DJ and I go to see the Punch Brothers at Grey Eagle. Very sophisticated music from men presenting themselves as down-home Bluegrass pickers. Outside of Ireland I almost never go to hear a band in a bar, and I ought to, more, adding a night to the week in which to do so. It is wonderful to be part of a large gathering in Asheville where you know not one person. Actually, I did know one person, but without a chance meeting with him I might have preserved my conviction of perfect anonymity. Green fried tomatoes lay like warm ballast in our guts.

After E’s play, conversation with MA in Hannah Flannagan’s about God and Faith. An evil spirit in the shape of a local preacher has got him partially in his power, and each time we speak I have to bat away something the preacher has said, in the name of converting MA to Christ, which makes God seem small and wicked, a sniper with his bead drawn on you at every moment. Preacher’s notion of "belief" and mine are so radically distant that it’s difficult to imagine them as part of the same Faith. My notion is that belief is an adjunct to and outcome of love. His is that God is a broken high-voltage cable and belief is a kind of rubber boot you put on to protect against him. His image has one advantage, in that it includes a fair degree of predictability: God is always dangerous, always ready to catch you in a moment unprepared. I have to account for the confounding nature of an iridescent personality.

Hesitant student journalist from the Blue Banner came to interview me about Edward. The article appeared and, surprisingly, it is the most accurate, the most what-I-really said of any piece ever done on me.

Distant thunder. It is still dark, but I had a clear day in my mind. With one rumble all is changed.
March 26, 2008

Each time I turn on e-mail, the flood of new responsibilities and tasks and necessary responses is like shouldering through the door with two armloads of garbage, keys between the teeth, trying to keep the cats in and getting the door shut before all the heat from escapes into the winter air. Eventually this hourly, fully porous availability will create a new class of electronic hermit, walking blithely past the 100s of new emails and out into their mornings, fancy-free. Maybe I will lead the way.

Mother had been dead for thirty four years. Thirty four years ago it was snowing and bitter in Ithaca. Today is bright as golden glass. It is wrong that we laid her in that bare field with only the geese, sometimes, for company.
March 25, 2008

Today The New York Times printed the photos of the 4,000 US soldiers killed in Iraq. I made sure to look at every one of them.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Sunday

March 23, 2008

Easter Sunday. Cool and clear. The white sunbursts of bloodroot.

It’s a shame Easter can be such an ordeal for a singer, and not the kind of ordeal out which come compassion and revelation. Still, all in all, the season has done well for me. I was not too exhausted, not too fed up; the energy with which I start a new week is high, and through the blur of words and sounds came a few concepts, a few images which may be useful or comforting to me in time to come. My head bubbles with writing projects, and I see no reason why most of them can’t come to some fruition. I painted well in the hour I seized for it yesterday. I filled out the forms for Frank’s opera fellowship. I will get to school tomorrow in time to do something about the backlog there. Plainchant filters from the speakers in the living room. Circe is investigating photos taped to the bookcase. Maud dozes with one paw on the keyboard, where she must be able to feel every keystroke. Except for a little thread of melancholy–by no means unpleasant–which I put down to the sudden granting of long-looked-for solitude, it could be a perfect evening.

I know I react savagely and without patience to the dark patches of the mystery of life. I know I call you unloving names in those bitter moments after lying down and the backwash of bitter days comes upon me. I know we have been at war so long I only half remember a time before the war. I have prayed to break your heart, as you have broken mine. But I was up in the dark of the morning, a tiny bird-like thing beating its wings under the cold dome, waiting. I saw you coming at the rim of the world. I saw you stand there in the dazzle of the morning, bewildered as one must be after such a night. I cried out. I beat my little wings and cried out. I was the first. Perhaps you heard me, knew me. Perhaps by that cry you found your way.

Holy Saturday

March 22, 2008

Read what I think is the first Internet acknowledgment of GayFest ‘08 on some New York theater site. There was a photograph of the author of one of the plays, but it wasn’t me. I was feeling abandoned, when I realized they wouldn’t have a photograph of me. Would they? Part of the remarkable nature of this episode is my lack of any established New York connection, my status as a mystery and a surprise to all. This is playable, but, all in all, more of a detriment than an advantage, if only because of those times when they’re looking for a photo or a list of local credits and what they find lying about won’t be mine. I keep looking for ways this can fall apart, or be a disappointment, and perhaps that’s the right approach, so everything good will have on it a sheen of relief or discovery.

Holy Saturday. Tenebrae last night was moving, as I remembered it being long ago at the Church of the Saviour. Psalms you never hear at other times, and forget to go back and read for yourself. Less moving, perhaps, because of the bitterness I have not fully flushed from my system, which put a tiny mocker in my skull along with all the worshipers. Plus, I’ve spent far too much time at church this week, under artificial conditions (which is to say, not precisely when my soul needed to be at church) and resentment and rebelliousness add their flavors to the mix. I have felt very–and genuinely-- pious at times, and I hope some of those times are yet to come. One assumes that one’s organic piety and opportunities for church-going should correspond at least occasionally.

Behind in everything, I woke this morning with the will and desire to do ten things at once. It is a glorious feeling, if, ultimately, frustrating. If today could but double itself and Sunday not come for forty-eight hours, all would be well. Or if I could multiply myself and one of me be prowling the farmer’s market, one be at the easel at the riverside, one unpacking dishes, one assembling the manuscript for Frank’s opera contest, one sitting here typing.

Watched a Ryan Reynolds movie on DVD last night. It was called Nines, and was one of the most remarkable films I’ve ever seen. Odd how one had never heard of it. Was I inattentive, or did it fly beneath the radar?
March 21, 2008

Good Friday. Bach’s St. John Passion on the CD. Sang noon service at church, then played in the dirt a while, weeding, watering, wishing the shipments I ordered had come so there could be planting too.

Began an essay called My Father in Old Age. It flew from my fingers onto the page, with a facility that lacked the times I tried to write it before. That was so many hours ago now I had to think to remember it was the same day.

Harsh dreams last night. I took my car to the garage for servicing, but was captured there by enemies and tortured. In the next dream I was in Ireland, in Galway that looked like the interior of an airport, and there I was safe and happy.

The one blue anemone was actually but the first of dozens I planted, apparently, with a wild chaotic impulse. I’m glad I often forget what I planted where, for when they sprout there is a merry surprise.
March 20, 2008

Dream before waking: A wedding was taking place at the Spa. The groomsmen and bridesmaids were hurrying to their stations, tall and beautiful, and clumped about with admirers. They were like creatures from another planet, and I felt small and ugly. The bride and groom were not visible at all, hidden away in some inner sanctum safe from the prying eyes of the unworthy. Later I wandered through a sparkling golden labyrinth, trying to find an aerobics class.

I got a membership on Face Book. I kept getting invitations to be so-and-so’s Friend, and after a while it looked ungracious not to accept, so I filled out the form and chose a password and was immediately overwhelmed by possibilities of which I’ll likely never avail myself. Since then people have been signing up to be my Friends, and though I don’t know exactly what that entails, it is already fascinating watching the bonds of relationship (some of it quite unlikely) expand across the world. Isabella Yeager is the only contact I have initiated myself. Some people claim that we have a "Friend" in common, though who is not always specified, and usually I have no idea. There is never time to follow these things to an useful end.

Trying to turn my thoughts to the blue anemone and the white bloodroot, to the students who may be bringers-of-joy, if today is a lucky day.

Evening: Almost supernatural exhaustion. Hard round moon and a host of stars. Sang for Maundy Thursday service. In the bride’s room before service, I lit a candle and prayed for my fury to disappear, for my anger to fade, for my selfishness to sink into the earth. I’m not sure those prayers have been answered yet. I was impatient with the service, impatient with the ceremony and symbolism I once loved. Love’s cruelty toward me through many years made me impatient with him, made me mock things I believe holy in my heart. I cannot quite forget the cruelty, but I have striven to get beyond it, striven not to gnaw the rind of it over and over in the solitude of my heart. That’s what I was praying for in the bride’s room, a prayer that was not quite answered. The moon is so beautiful it should make all other concerns as nothing.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


March 19, 2008

The Equinox is a day away, and under a heavy spring rain my daffodils blaze little suns–I thought I planted different kinds, but they all seem to have come up a single blinding gold, which is all right with me–and in the shadow of the cottage, one night-blue anemone, one inch of the most electric beauty. The pulmonaria are inexhaustible. I don’t remember when I planted the crocus in full blush everywhere, most recently white with lips of purple. White blossoms rise through the folded green palms of the trout lilies. Three compact complexities of bloodroot have come through the ground, ready, perhaps, to unfold and bloom in the next sun. These are the best of all. These are the flower of the flowers.


Behind the house, two bloodroots, like children holding hands in the wilderness,
I watched them from the dark of the morning, when they were furled
like pearls on green-gray threads,
their own hands reaching around and holding.
I think I would stand over them and watch through the night.
I would turn the slugs aside.
I would see if there is some further gesture in them, some posture the
two ends of the light do not tell of.


Year after year I’ve gone into the forest looking for you,
dear ones, favored ones, above all others, peering in the brown leaves,
pawing through the bones.
This year you come for me.
You set down where you could see me when the thaw came
and all the eyes were opened.
Me at my back door, fretting, keeping watch. Who knows now for what?
I would plow the world and plant you. I would
take the month off and watch you in your changes,
your purity pumped from the blood pool
over and over, a fountain in the forest made of cool and green,
ice-crowned, with root, like all brave things, in fire.
Yes, I may have planted you myself. Let’s forget that and declare
you came the long way, seeking,
found me in a moment neither too early nor too late, or rather
almost too late, hauling me back by a white breath
when all was lost had I, one second more, gone on
the way I’d fought for all those day.

I think the wind in your white cups whispers "Ah!"


Kit sent me a soft green mug of his making.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Saint Patrick's Day

March 17, 2008

Saint Patrick and all the serpents of paradise be blessed together with one blessing!

Seems there’s a phone number to call in the night or morning before your jury summons to see if they’ll really need you. Called it, and it turns out I’m excused. Hosannah! ‘Course, then the question comes, "but why? What’s wrong with me?" Reminds me of all those straight boys who, when you assure them you’re not interested so they can relax, try to look relieved but then, inevitably, inquire, rather sadly, "But why not? What’s wrong with me?"

Damien Rice on the CD, a green shirt on my back.
March 16, 2008

Moon in its one ugly moment, a shape without a name, like a marble dropped in blue jelly.

Supper at J and L’s, talking of the coming recession and our old age when we will be alone and homeless. That, or L’s building projects. Don’t know which is worse.

Palm Sunday Passion reading came off beautifully, Cody wowing them (is it right to wow a congregation?) with the beauty if his voice and the beauty of his person. All I asked to be a part were faithful; all were good. Heather and Michael, two Jews, were fascinated by what they saw in their first church service, and wanted to partake of everything. I tried to convince them it was all right to take communion if they felt so moved, but neither went quite so far. Cody–a former Texas Baptist-- couldn’t believe there was no hellfire and damnation. The last great burden is off me for a while, and I mean to keep the burdens off. If I can fib or persuade my way free of jury duty tomorrow, all shall be well indeed. I suppose that the building and the people and the situation make me physically sick would not be taken as an excuse, though it is completely true.

I have not been invited to Alaska. Crushing to me. I had already been planning the trip in my head. I’d launched into my reflexive routine about how it was impossible that any of the scripts were better than mine, and so what mendacity led them to leave me out, bla bla bla, when suddenly I flashed on a moment forty years and more gone. I was in the fifth grade, and it came time to take volunteers to be police boys on the campus of Betty Jane Elementary School. I volunteered. I thought I was a shoo-in because I was always good and never got into trouble and was certainly an example that all the teachers wanted other students to follow, but when the names were chosen, they were all the big, bad boys, tormentors and playground-rule violators to a one. I was flabbergasted. My enduring sense of violation and betrayal probably came into being at that instant, my vision of my own deserving and their unworthiness was so overpoweringly strong, so incapable of alteration. Of course, the fact is that I would have made a lousy police boy, and they made rather good ones. Don’t know exactly what message this is. Some day I might recognize it as a comfort.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


On Surviving, in March, a Lecture on Foucault

I bet the
kind-of-attractive, slender, bald guy in the slides
had something else in mind.

I bet he
would tell you there comes a time
to set the dissertation aside, to realize
the French are always, to some degree, putting you on.

In the dark room
your upraised, inadvertent jazz-hands catch the light
of the lectern lamp.
You have said "relativize" eleven times.

While you go on
about the mirrors reflecting mirrors,
the sacred truth of the cotton-candy life,
the hard earth gives up hellebore; the stone,
the red camellia by the library wall, shedding scarlet
and taking scarlet on, like a girl dancing in red
on the first day anybody can wear red.

That certain lines of speculation are for
cowards only cannot be refuted.

Foucault and I would stab you where you stand.

Except that would
wake him, the boy with the turf of brown hair in the second row,
silver drool upon his cheek,
asleep as the gods are when philosophers hold the floor,
asleep as the gods till they are waked with dancing.

Keep looking the wrong way. At the mirror where the red dress passed.

Michel and I put on our dancing shoes.
I have asked for this dance; he said yes.
One of us is trying not to talk so much.
March 15, 2008

Daylight Savings gives me more of the dark of the morning, which is my favorite time to write.

Thursday was my father’s 89th birthday, when he was greeted with the news that record-breaking snows in Ohio brought down the Chinese elm–planted within a year of our moving there, shading my window all through my adolescence–which missed the house but took out power lines and plunged the house into dark and cold. Linda heard this from the realtor, who is master of things now. Dad thought he escaped all that, and maybe he should have, except it is he who has to start the insurance wheels turning. What a frustrating time it is for him at the end of things. Maybe his life was too quiet and this is the balancing of it; maybe it is just unfair.

Yesterday afternoon spent filming a couple of scenes in a movie I never learned the name of. I played a bible salesman. The director was a kid named Gaylin, and Thomas B was the vector who got me involved in the project. Those things always take more time than you think they will, and other plans were wrecked, but it was itself enjoyable. I continue to be amazed at how much these kids know about the mechanics of filmmaking, and how little about scriptwriting, wherefore their projects are almost always impeccably filmed failures. I never did read more than my scenes, so this one might be an exception–excepting, of course, the lameness of those scenes just mentioned.

A few nights ago I was exhausted and discouraged, and started browsing–as I suppose everyone does these days–through the offerings on the Internet. I found myself summoning up and listening to the calls of exotic birds: nightingales and kookaburras and lyre birds. I felt sudden peace enter my chest as if it were the shaft of a blessed spear. I was calm and, if not quite happy, serene in moments. Keats hovered in the room, a bird himself.

Dr. Phil Zaleski writes from Smith College that I am to be included in Houghton-Mifflin’s anthology "Best American Spiritual Writing."

Dusty lavender in the east, striped with peacock.

Conversation with my student David Verga. What full lives some people seem to have, rich with gifts and rich with promise. He is one of the most gifted and most promising young men I have ever known, and matches that with a calmness about his future than can bring but bounty. He is remarkably free from doctrine, and thus can learn from the winds themselves. On top of that, what an amazing turf of dark brown hair, with almost a life of its own. I sometimes ask people to call me so we can talk some more. Sometimes I mean it, mostly I don’t. I meant it with him. Conversation with Tom B’s friend Greg in the Glass House. It would be hard to find two intellects more unlike than ours. He is practically all precept and I am practically all practice. We attended the same lecture, and he was entranced because it was exploratory and rhetorically dazzling, while I was infuriated because it was wrong.

Took account of busywork yesterday, noting that there were ELEVEN little morning chores I had to do before leaving for school, and FIVE appointments for this and that during the day, one of which was lost because the others went too long, none of which was served rightly. How do we so dissipate ourselves? I know I’m worse than some others, saying "yes" to things before I give them thought, but others are worse still. Most of the university administrators appear to have lives made up of nothing but appointments, so that they forget they had other lives, and that their decisions have consequences.

Now the color on DJ’s door seems more an absinthe green. It hums and buzzes. It makes it look like he’s living inside an M&M
March 12, 2008

Brilliant Wednesday, and I’m filling my day without classes with as much achievement as I can. Rose early and began Frank’s commission for a libretto about David and Jonathan, shutting out the 60's pop in the café, typing like a man possessed. There’s enough in the books of Samuel alone for a lifetime of dramatizing, some of it deeply strange, much of it suggestive in ways that are probably intentionally deflected in bible study classes. DJ’s doors are replaced, and the outer one painted emerald green in a way that I hoped would suggest Bilbo Baggins’ front door.

Between my expired computer and DJ’s doors, the money I thought would put me a little ahead is gone, and then some. Hand to mouth once again.

Stood in the twilight and watched a screech owl settle in the sweet gum, preen, bless, move on, a dim silhouette in the dying light.

The spate of commentary about Crown of Shadows may be over. I’m sorry that the balance of it seemed to concentrate on technical matters. On directing, too, which to me is a little more serious, and something about which something actually could have been done had . . . well, had it been a different world. My consolation is that, probably, all those who cared about the deficiencies of our tech had their say in the blogsphere, and everyone else, like me, thought the tech was just fine, or at least never nursed dissatisfaction massy enough to articulate. It is well. It could have been better. It could have been much worse. I should be more candid than this and say that the enterprise turned out about 1,000 times better than the worst of my expectation. The flood of energy upon me now tells me that I am ready for what comes next.

Linda reports that father went to get radiation treatment and was kept waiting three hours by a doctor who then turned on the attitude. Father reacted by walking out and refusing treatment. I would have too. But I can’t get out of my head the picture of some snotty, over-compensated Alpharetta oncologist tormenting a frightened old man. If I knew whom to strike, I would. I would drive all the way there, coldcock the sonofabitch, and drive all the way back smiling.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Obama and the Painters

March 10, 2008

Political dream. I was sitting at a large table having discussion with six or seven men. Barak Obama sat to my left. The others turned out to be eminent American painters from all eras– Copley and Peale and Singer Sargeant and Hartley and Trumbull and the like, a truth that was not immediately discernible, since they all wore modern clothes. I forget much of the discussion, but at one point one of the painters announced that he was selling some of his paintings to aid in financing Obama’s campaign, and immediately all the others joined in. I don’t know how such a sale was to be accomplished, but I was impressed to have a directly political dream (my first, I think), and one I choose to interpret as a message from the other world to support Obama because of his support (not yet announced or even asked about) for the arts. If I dream of Hillary among the poets tonight, I’ll be back to my old state of indecision.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

March 9, 2008

Cold but bright. I have been happy through those parts of the day when I was awake. Glorious moments with the University of Louisville Trumpet Ensemble at church, John Bryant’s group, which he led here through a night of Midwestern snows. A great golden blare from the center of the echoing room. Went to Cantaria rehearsal, and enjoyed it, perhaps because it was, for once, the only one.
March 8, 2008

Father/daughter Saturday at the café.

When I rose this morning I was suddenly filled with the inspiration I was hoping for all the spring break week, when I would have had time to bring things to fruition. But, my life is still my life, however interrupted, and I welcome the opening of the new doors, and wonder what I will neglect in order to go through them.

Climbing the stone steps to my house this morning, I saw a strip of shadow thrown by the banister rail, and a slug which had arranged itself exactly within the shade of the rail, horns to one edge, tail to the other. It was elegant, but desperate. The sun moves. I do not think the creature can survive.

As I sat in the café writing this and drinking my bitter coffee, a ceiling of darkness came out of the west and covered us. The day began as one day, blue and bright, and continues as another, gray, glowering, wintery. I’m glad some good spirit kept me from walking here.

The urge to record these things is reflexive and inescapable. I am God’s diary.

Darkness: a night so cold the air gives you a the same headache you get from drinking an iced drink. Schlepped downtown in this cold to see Moonlight and Magnolias at NC Stage, a script with the interesting conceit of featuring the character Ben Hecht in a play in the style of Ben Hecht. Impeccable acting, flawless production values. The script was funny in oddly matched ways, sometimes like a frat house skit, sometimes like His Girl Friday, the club and the stiletto, but both getting the job done. The three main actors have widely divergent techniques and, I suppose, theories of what one should be doing on stage, but the more I thought about it, the better suited that was to a script which itself exhibits three almost irreconcilable worldviews–or, more exactly, three worldviews the reconciliation of which is its central struggle. Selznick is an attractive, eloquent apologist for mediocrity, Fleming a solid American pragmatist, Hecht a self-delighted idealist. Something in each of the actors– Scott’s apparently infinite adaptability; Charlie’s intelligence-- which cannot hide while playing the role of a stupid man, but makes the stupidity seem chosen and expressive; Willy’s edgy experimentalism, perfect for someone who is simply not going to play the same game as the others–alloyed beautifully with the characters and made more magic, perhaps than the script deserved. The Selznick character lets fly with expansive, almost sublime, passages in defense of cheesy writing and conception aimed at the lowest common denominator, at "Joe Blow and Jane Doe," thus preemptively deflecting the criticism to which the script is most vulnerable. Clever.

Came home and the cats were watching for me out the kitchen window.

March 7, 2008

Driving rain. Truly remarkable rain.

Woke from a cluster of vivid dreams. Ann R and Amanda G and I were sitting in a room translating from big books of Gothic or medieval French, discussing, at one point, a verb with "jongleur" as part of it. "Jongleur" seemed very important to whatever it was we were researching. I was a student, apparently, and after the translation session I had to meet with a class in a very old building. As I was sitting at my desk, a man passed by and touched me on the back of the neck. There was immediate communication between us, instant longing, and in the next scene of the dream, he was soaking a great knot of rope in oil in a belfry in the ancient building, meaning to set it on fire and cause a distraction so classes would end and we could meet.

It’s Friday and I’ve done nothing with my break. Prepared boxes for the Cantaria yard sale, worked grandma’s china into the cupboards–one activity would have been impossible without the other. Worked a little on a play. But napped hugely, monumentally. Wrestled the new computer, I hope, into some form of submission. DJ and I saw the movie 10.000 BC. I liked it, but wished for more creatures. Visited Jason and saw his painting of me as the Feathered Serpent. An amazing concept, actually. . .

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

March 4, 2008

The most amazing quantity and duration of rain--

If I hoped that the ending of Crown of Shadows and the accomplishment of a jaunt to Atlanta would allow a period of productivity, I was wrong. My desktop refused to boot this morning, very nearly the most catastrophic thing which could happen right now. The man at Sassy’s diagnosed a destroyed mother board, but did managed to retrieve my files. A thousand dollars later, I have a new desktop on the way and a tiny pencil of plastic containing my life’s work ready to be injected into it. God thinks that by wasting great swathes of my time– such as driving nine hours yesterday, such as distilling this day down to a hunt for timely computer repair–he is teaching me patience. Exactly the opposite is true. I think that by reacting badly to his impositions I may stop them. I don’t know that to be wrong at all.

Drove, as alluded to above, to Atlanta to see dad in his new digs at the Dogwood. He has so many doctor appointments that I don’t know that he’s actually had time to acclimate. We had lunch with his new friend, Joe, a Texan who must have been big in his time, very much in control of his environment. They have a jovial relationship, though dad, being deaf and hardly able to speak above a whisper, has a hard time communicating with anybody. Lunch was almost silent, because everybody is pretty much deaf. Dad should have had more friends in his time, for he seems to be a good one, encouraging me to talk to Joe because he can’t, and he imagines Joe to be starved for conversation. I know I shouldn’t pass judgment from the outside; I know that Dogwood is the creme de la creme of such institutions; I know the people will take life pretty much on any terms whatever, but still, the place seemed horrible to me, a luxurious last waiting room, where women who once ran corporations have to ask three times for lemon for their tea, where good food is eaten in silence burdened by the weight of multiple remembrance. Everyone is good to them. It doesn’t matter. Most of them are bewildered still to be alive. Some of them are alive only for lack of a means of exiting. Dogwood is enlarging, and I observed that there will be more call for such places as the population ages, and dad said, "You’d think there’d be a limit."
Linda took me to the school where she works, and which David and Daniel attend. It was wonderful to see my handsome nephews among their friends, clearly popular, smiling and mischievous. They hugged me and cried "Uncle David!" and one of their friends did the same thing. I thought it was charming and funny. Linda tells me my new nephew is some sort of Nigerian prince. Jonathan arrived later, a jolly giant, affectionate with his brothers, vocally but not quite cloyingly devout. A neighborhood boy named John came over, and there was much searching on computer for horrific weapons of war, which the boys would describe to each other in terms which one soon recognized were enthusiastic fiction. We used to do that too, without the visual aids, or based on comic books and movies. Bloody-mindedness is hardwired in boys; let’s hope it remains, as it was among them, and us, merry. I smiled at them for their merry selves, and less merrily at myself, for one of the lives which could have been and was not.

The drive back was ghastly, and magnified by events such as taking one hour to progress seven miles on McGinnes Ferry, which seemed such a shortcut in the morning.

Dusty pink trees are abloom in Atlanta.

I surprised myself by thinking very little about Crown of Shadows during the drive. Every other thing in the world, but little about that. But, then, what would I think? To think about the performances would be to miss the people who gave them. As for the rest, all is accomplished, and one wants to stop short of thinking oneself into too much satisfaction.

Grandmother’s china came back with me in four cartons. I don’t know why I wanted it so bad, or why I am so excited about having it. Maybe I think it will cement memories. I won’t unload it from the car until the rain stop, fearful of slipping in the mud and breaking something.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

March 2, 2008

Bright Sunday morning.

In terms of attendance, Hat has been our most successful play. I don’t understand it, but I don’t mind it. I think it is, of the three, the script which rolls along without a glitch, almost actor-proof, almost inevitable. It’s where I want to launch from as a playwright from this point on. It felt like silk to me.

Ryan Madden posts a detailed, very professional and plausible critique of the technical aspects of Gilgamesh. It’s not a particularly flattering assessment, but one is flattered when someone takes the time. I realize that I am worse (or better) than others at overlooking technical shortcomings; usually I’m so wrapped up in the words or the acting that I don’t see them. On my own I noticed none of the problems Ryan did–or didn’t think of them as problems-- but once he mentioned them, I understood what he meant, and how a person who was looking for those things could have his experience of the play diminished. Short of my own theater and a whole lot of money, I don’t know what to do about them, except maybe post another sign like the one we did warning of nudity and strong language– "theater professionals may be disappointed at our various unavoidable amateurisms." I can’t even say that we did our best, for I--and probably Mickey too– let some things through which we knew were not the best, or even the best we could do, but to which someone or other had an attachment, and we had decided to take the concept of collaboration seriously. Things happened that made me cringe, but made another smile, and that seemed an upright tradeoff. I think Ryan and Brian have a different feel for what constitutes correct tech for a play, Ryan intending, if I understand things right, to be efficient, elegant, unobtrusive. Brian is more poetical, more responsive to the text, and rather more about self-expression. Both are welcome behind my board any day.

I dreaded the weeks that Crown of Shadows would take up, but it became ordinary life, and I forgot that I ever did anything else. This afternoon it’s all over, and I will feel– content, I think. Thanks to everybody for that. I will miss my actors. I will be glad of my evenings back. . . to do what with? I’ll think of something . . . .
March 1, 2008

Hat’s world premiere went nobly last night, a good performance of the play which is, in terms of simple efficiency of exposition, the best in the bunch. Stephanie has grown into the queen, and the two goddesses never worked better together. Darren was moving as the vizier-- the emotional center of the evening. A UNCA student I’d overheard in the hall talking of Hatshepsut, a paper topic for some class, came on the ticket I gave her, and beamed with happiness. Our audience was considerably larger than I expected, perhaps on the basis of word-of-mouth. Mickey’s mother had New Orleans rescue kittens in the foyer, as she had for Virginia Woolf. If I hadn’t a full house already I’d have adopted one or two.

Slept unusually late this morning, entertained by a dream that was long, detailed, funny, beautiful in places, and very telling. High on a hill above the city was a palatial building full of fascinating rooms, not so much functional as fun, TV rooms and stuffed animal rooms and animals-of-Africa rooms, and I had to wait and wander through it after dark because I wasn’t sure that I was fully welcome. I wasn’t unwelcome, for when the owners–Charlie and Angie Flynn McIver–encountered me when I had inadvertently left my coat behind, there was no rancor, but there was a quizzical lift of brows. Elaborate shows went on in theaters scattered throughout the building, and I would stand in the shadows and watch chorus girls making their entrances in costumes of pink feathers, though I never actually saw the shows. I would sneak away by daylight, encountering workers entering, me looking nonchalantly about as though I had just happened on that corner of the world.
February 29, 2008

Leap day of leap year. Coffee with Tom this morning, the first time I’ve met with him since the birth of his son, the first time he met with me since we moved my father down from Akron. Life changes all around us. August was sick the first few days, and Tom said, "I never stopped crying."

It must be terribly cold outside, for the furnaces hisses and rumbles. The little night animals leave tracks in the remnants of snow on my porch. The crocus–gold and pale lavender-- the pulmonaria, the Lenten rose, and the violas are unvexed by the cold and snow.
February 28, 2008

Snow, but not enough to cancel classes. Not feeling well, but how not well am I feeling? Enough to cancel classes and stay home? Almost, I think–but maybe not enough? I have far too much Midwestern responsibility in me to catch, as Lady Macbeth would say, the nearer way.

Hat rehearsal good last night, but with huge gaps in the lines, which I wasn’t used to from the first two shows. Something seems too easy about this one. Maybe it’s simply that we kept the set from being an issue every minute of every night. Maybe that there’s no need for the titanic, overawing individual performances so necessary to the other two.

I wish some people would receive a shock whenever they start to explain.

I wish I would receive a shock whenever I let something go because I’m too exhausted to explain.

Last night Maud and I watched a raccoon out on the porch, gleaning the sunflower seeds spilled when I filled the bird feeders. He looked so cold and bedraggled. I would have invited him in to cuddle with us, except for the conviction that it would not turn out well.
February 27, 2008

Brahms quiet from the next room. Snow. Did almost nothing. Have barely been able to stay awake, lying down and sleeping almost as often as I passed a horizontal surface. Went to bed before 10 last night. My body is fighting some illness, and long ago discovered that sleep is its best weapon.

Bought my ticket and reserved my room in New York for the Edward opening.