Thursday, July 31, 2008

July 31, 2008

What was to be casual out-patient surgery for skin tags yesterday wasn’t so casual. I bled profusely at the clinic, and the bleeding didn’t stop the rest of the day. The doctors blamed the two aspirins I had taken for my hangover. The pants I wore to rehearsal were caked with blood, though, thank God, they are black and nobody knew. The towel I use to soften my writing chair was stained with dark blood. They join the gray pants I wore to the clinic in the washer, in hope that the stains will come out. The underwear is past help and is now a rather horrifying dust rag.

Despite a certain wooziness from blood loss, I enjoyed rehearsal last night. First time that has happened. I will spend most of my evenings for the next four weeks–eight weeks, counting Faustus– staring at a darkening sky, watching the bats, the moths, the first pale stars glimmer over Montford Park. It could be a lot worse.

I think our AYLI will be boring because it will be mechanical, efficient, devoid of discovery. We are not good enough to present an archival production, one at once classical and superb. Our hope was playfulness or innovation, and I don’t see that. The contrived playfulness reads as a theatrical trick poorly implemented. This is mostly the director’s fault, though certainly any one of us could surprise her with something fresh and new–or outright defy her with something radically askew. I don’t think that’s going to happen. But, it is well enough, and until the audience speaks, we are sure of nothing.

The heat persists. The cats find cool places on the floor and flop on their backs, so their furry bellies are open to what breeze there is. First waterlily– again, gold–in the backyard tank. The native hibiscus blooms for the first time this season, a dark scarlet Nativity Star.

Devin and Arielle sent me a beautiful calligraphic version of my wedding poem, mounted on the double swan print from the Victoria & Albert. The box carried their new return address in Mineola, NY, sad and hopeful at once.

A little brown rabbit nibbles in my garden. When I watch, he nibbles but weeds and grass. Even if he fed on the flowers I would welcome my wild friend. I think the cats think he is another cat. He is much bigger than when I first spotted him this spring. He is my excuse for doing nothing about the tangle of vegetation on the front slope.

July 30, 2008

Received proofs for the postcard for my show at the Pump.

Chall is playing banjo for AYLI, so got to hang out with him for a while. Don’t ask me why there ARE banjos in AYLI. Repaired to the Usual after rehearsal, adding DJ to the mix. Devin and Arielle were having a going-away party, and I got to see many people I miss, or will miss soon. They remarked of their wedding pictures that I was "photogenic." First time I heard that. Had two drinks and woke with a roaring headache–must be the dehydration of summer.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

July 29, 2008

Laura VanDruff calls to say that the Sprenger Lang Foundation has awarded The Loves of Mr. Lincoln second prize in their history play contest. Second prize though it be, it has still bought me my ticket for an October trip to Galway and Limerick. I had thought earlier this year that my days of traveling there were over. Ways change before one understands the old way.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

July 28, 2008

JS left a note under my office door telling me how much his life was shaped by the introduction to the Romantic poets. "Your class changed me forever. . . . thanks for everything. . . I could never say it enough." There are times when the rewards of this job are inexpressibly vast. So vast that I, at least, do not know how to speak of them.

Most of my mornings I spend sculpting The Falls of the Wyona, and yet I almost never mention it. The temptation is to tell the story of the characters as if they were people I know, as if one of them were me. Joyce warns against talking the story into oblivion. I will never be guilty of that. I talk so little about writing in progress –mostly assuming that nobody’s interested–that it appears that plays and volumes fall out of thin air.

His wife writes of Michael Minor, "My hero is getting stronger everyday." She apologizes because once the miracle she asked everybody to pray for begins to happen, she cannot write of it, but only watch it. I don’t know why I’m so invested in this man and his struggle. I have not met him since I held him in my arms as a baby. Perhaps that’s why. Perhaps it stands in my mind as a struggle like my father’s, but one which can possibly be won.

As You Like It is at the stage of the mechanical, but I think M likes it that way, and so progress from that point may be individual and haphazard. Two conversations about costumes. M confides in me the costume she would prefer Touchstone to wear (sort of street-thug; I like it) and then sighs, "it would have been nice to get some portion of my vision fulfilled." V, the costume mistress, cramming me into a typical Montford faux-Renaissance number, says, "At the beginning M told me what she wanted, but things change every five minutes, and now I don’t know what to do." When I direct, I tell the costume people, "do whatever you want," and I mean it. I intend to live a long time.
July 27, 2008

A storm of hummingbirds engulfs the porch and the gardens, feeding and quarreling, all at fever pitch. When they are not gobbling or fighting, they’re hovering at the picture window, peering in. I hope they’re not too disappointed in what they see.

First rehearsal of production weeks starts in a few minutes. Our director makes the mediocre choice each time, but when one reflects that this is different from the worst choice, one is content.
July 25, 2008

Mother’s birthday.

Beginning repairs in the back yard after the falling of the tree-sized limbs. The old dogwood was battered, but also trimmed and uncovered to the light, so I think it has a new lease on life. The day is dim, certainly with cloud but possibly with rain. If rain, it will help immeasurably.

Today marks the day when I am free of credit card debt.

Friday, July 25, 2008

July 24, 2008

A perplexing direction often improves a performance. Trying to find justification for M’s comment, I found a way to do Touchstone that was livelier and more sympathetic than the path I was going down.

Our Orlando is energetic, supple, personable, very beautiful, and the subject of ceaseless tittering gossip from the young actors that I plop myself down in the midst of. The fact that he is–or that they think he is–gay does not stop the girls from being fixated upon him. I suppose the power of beauty does not diminish even when it is unavailable. The old guys sit on one side of the stage studying their lines. The kids gather in clusters and gossip. I sit with the kids sometimes, and by myself sometimes, but it is going to be a while before I sit with the old guys and study my lines.

Drowned my rehearsal blues in many drinks at the Usual. MM and I hatched some plot, but I was too drunk for much of it to have taken root. I told him about Anna Livia, and he remarked, "It's good you're getting play in regional theater too." Never thought of Chicago as "regional" theater, though I suppose from a New York perspective, it is.

Woke to find a tremendous limb had sheared off from the sweet gum. Did I hear it in the night and think it was part of a dream? It opens the patio and part of the back yard to light, not invasive light as I feared, but enough to give the shade gardens a little energy. The tip of the little spruce is free now. I imagine it will go rocketing into the air. I tried to deal with it myself, but the fallen bit was massive, and still attached to the tree thirty feet up, and everywhere I looked I saw another limb that should be trimmed away. I trusted my luck and called a name in the phone book. The name belonged to smiling Jacob, whom I liked instantly, and who cleared it all away for 1/3 the price I had steeled myself to pay. Surprisingly little damage done either by the limbs or by Jacob’s boots. Jacob said he had never seen a sweet gum like unto mine.

Kevin Mayes, my director for Anna Livia and I talked on the phone while I sat on the banks of the French Broad, watching a green heron fly low to the water. Kevin’s ideas were fascinating, but I was mostly glad that he was exerting himself on our behalf. He is writing music for the show, to be played upon a cello. I reread the play in preparation for talking to him about it. The language has a richness I want to get back to, without the excuse of Irish speakers. I am going to the opening. Toward that end, I bought tickets and got a hotel in Chicago. All flights out of Asheville change in Charlotte, so I decided to price tickets directly from Charlotte to see if there was any savings. Incredibly, it’s cheaper to fly from Asheville to Charlotte to Chicago than it is from Charlotte to Chicago. I can’t decide how this sort of thing contributes to the crisis in air travel, but it must, somehow.

Golden waterlily. It is not bothered by the drought.
July 23, 2008

Summer back into its rhythm, a good rhythm, productive and satisfying, though I’d rather there were not quite so many naps.

I’d hoped As You Like It would strike a different tone than most of what I’ve seen in outdoor theater, but it is not going to. Perhaps a particular kind of performance is so soaked into those planks and screws that nothing else is possible. Perhaps I should wait until after first run-through to make any sort of evaluation. It’s going to be lively and the actors are attractive. Directing is usually the weak link, but weak is not inept and the whole machine, I think, is going to run. People say that as long as everybody is having fun it’s all right, and I suppose that’s true, and I vow, therefore, to have fun. Having missed a week’s rehearsal, I feared I would be last night’s weak link. Took secret pleasure that it was not so, though if I’d wanted to be the brilliant spot, that was missed too.

Sample direction: "Touchstone, you are madly in love with Audrey, I mean madly, head over heels–"
"But that it not justified in the text–"
"I know, but–" continuance of explanation--

I think the 23rd day of every month is lucky.

Signed the contract for Anna Livia. To get a percentage of the door seems so professional.
July 22, 2008

Dad has been dead a month. I have been secret in my emotions about it all-- even as, I recognize now, I was in his life. That is mostly good. But not completely.

Monday, July 21, 2008

July 21, 2008

Dream at morning: I had a little white motor boat (which was, nevertheless, quite silent) which I aimed up a small mountain river, through both deep places and by some miracle over shallows and even piles of wet stone. I dragged my fingers in the water and beautiful fish came up to nibble. I was chased by some cows who were wallowing, and as I was navigating away from the cows, I found a human skeleton. I didn’t have my cell phone, so I tried hard to remember the place. I got back to civilization, then brought two friends to confirm first that there were snappers in the lakes (I’d had snapper at the Marina in Miami) and second the presence of the skeleton. One of the friends was Forrest Smith, a figure out of the distant past.

Maud punishes me for being away with the slightest edge of aloofness. Titus reacts to the same circumstance with the most burrowing and nuzzling affection.

Listening to Glor na Siog, the Dublin gay men’s and women’s chorus. The lad at the booth said if I bought two CDs I would get a kiss from an Irish boy, so I did, and I did. They’re not very good. It doesn’t matter; they’re Irish.


July 20, 2008

Home from Miami. What we thought was a flawless set of flights ended in lost bags, but that seemed slight in the light of all that didn’t go wrong. News travels fast in an airport, and the parking lot guy asked us if we had found our bags."No," we said. Then he expressed surprise that we had not been flying Delta, as among airport personnel Delta stands for "Don’t Expect Luggage To Arrive."

Miami was a disappointment, hot, dirty, faded, empty, until we got out of the half-inhabited forest of hotels where the conference was, first into South Beach and then into Bayside Park, where there was something resembling real life. We did adopt a wonderful restaurant near the performance spaces at the Carnival Center, the Miami Arts Café, with French-inspired food served by a Hispanic matriarch and her each-one-lovelier-than-the-last brood. The food was perfect, and appeared, no matter how crowded the place was, within minutes. Best cappuccino ever. South Beach is a kind of high-consumption paradise. We went to a party at Nikki’s Beach, which turned out to be a dud, but we strolled up the street until we found an Italian restaurant with outdoor seating, where the food was excellent and the waiter so suave our own manners improved by contact. Though it was night, we sweat as we ate, and that seemed right, somehow, with the dramatic people and the dramatic colors of their garments and their skin around us. Everything needed to be sweaty and aqua and pink. The full moon rose over the sea as we ate. It was like Greenwich Village, but with the tops of the buildings cut off, and all the neon turned pastel. And very hot. The first night there we went to Jungle Island, where we petted snakes and cockatoos, but amid the partying of three thousand homosexuals, which changed the atmosphere utterly. I really didn’t know what we were supposed to do. We walked about and looked at each other, and drank the almost sinfully potent cocktails. The bartenders were saying, "Say when," and most of us took full advantage. There was a "No Talent Show" which fulfilled every expectation set by the title. Our last night in Miami, we wandered down to Bayside Park, which was bright and happy and clearly a foreign country, everyone speaking a language other than English and singing along to songs we’d never heard of. A crowd of kids were doing capoeira, a Brazilian dance inspired my martial arts moves. It was a splendid spectacle. The dance is intricate and graceful and physically demanding, and the people doing it were the most exquisite physical specimens imaginable, dark boys leaping like colts over one another, twisting in the air, throwing punches that never landed. In the crowd watching was every shade from inky black to my Celtic and MP’s Anglo-Saxon pallor. It was a most beautiful evening. It was what I hope America will be while I’m still alive to see it.

The point of going to Miami was to perform at the GALA Festival, and I think we covered ourselves with moderate glory. We may have been the smallest ensemble there, and surely we had come from the smallest town represented. I didn’t hear as many other ensembles as I did in Cincinnati, but still, I think, enough. We were told that we were outstanding for blend, intonation, and diction, but whether we were outstanding or our critics were kind cannot be known by one who was not in the hall listening. The Metromover failed as we were heading for our concert, and we had to jog ten blocks through the blistering heat, and arrived rather more wilted than we would have hoped, but it is possible that the cross got our minds off ourselves and improved the performance. I was happy to hear the ovation from the vast crowd out there in the air-conditioned darkness. I was, for a second, exultant.

I made all the mistakes in rehearsal and none in performance. I hope MP appreciated that.

Miami is hell for a tourist, the Metromover almost indecipherable (the locals were too confused themselves to guide us), the taxis apt to cheat you, the busses apt to stop forty blocks from the bus stop outside your hotel, without a word of explanation except, "end of the line" in Spanish from the already-slugging-down-a-beer driver. We went to the Miami Seaquarium and sweated and battled our way through droves of schoolchildren and watched the clown divers, and had exactly that abortion of bus service happen to us on the way back, after I’d already vomited copiously over Key Biscayne. Black crowned night herons waited for a stray fish during the dolphin show. I watched them because I couldn’t see the dolphins. The herons were what I needed, whether they were what I paid for or not.

Chased anoles and big greenish crabs behind the Hyatt Regency.

Longed for no one. That was strange. Though everyone there was there because of a sexual identity, the event seemed oddly sexless, or at least hugely more theatrical than sexy. The capoeira–now that was sexy.

I liked the people of Miami, however much I thought the city itself someplace I need never be again.

Returning involved an orgy of watering in the garden, of filling of bird baths and hummingbird feeders, of feeding fish in the water gardens. I can’t believe weeds could grow so in five days!

Bailiwick Theater of Chicago will begin its season with Anna Livia, Lucky in Her Bridges. We are scheduled to run on the main stage from September 11 to October 19.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

July 15, 2008

Minnesingers on the CD.

The most wonderful package came from Paul Grealish, the manager of the King’s Head in Galway, in response to my poem "At the King’s Head." He sent a T-shirt and a cap and a King’s Head bag and wants me to write the poem out so they can frame it and put it on the wall of the bar. Few things in the world could please me as much as this, a remembrance of me in the town I dream of. I smiled at the package for a full day before opening it, guessing what it was. I don’t know how I can avoid going there and presenting it in person.

Jason casts me as Mephistophilis in Doctor Faustus.

Riot of scarlet hibiscus.
July 14, 2008

Gray, still morning for Bastille Day.

Kyle’s replacement organist was bad almost beyond mockery. We’ll all appreciate him from now on, even those that mightn’t have before. It was the first time I heard myself thinking, "I could have done better."

Feeling of lead yesterday, my body made of lead, except it was lead whose back tried to go out all day. Better today already. Some flesh demon passing by.

Discouraging Cantaria rehearsal last night. The baritones cannot sing their line without Barry there to lead them. In that sense it sounded like a first rehearsal. Miami was not my first choice for a July adventure in any case, but all is laid before us, and at this point, inevitable. Miami is actually a city I had no ambition to see at all.

Monday, July 14, 2008

July 12, 2008,

Everyone who studies Shakespeare should actually perform Shakespeare. Playwrights in particular should perform Shakespeare, to get the swooping daring of his lines, like the flight of swallows. Some lines and particular moments are actually quite bad. Wording so awkward it must have been perversely intentional. Passages so brittley and snobbily witty you hate everyone who’s speaking. But the whole is so wonderful you actually feel the sensation of slack moments pulling into line and becoming part of an unassailable structure. Touchstone is over-clever and unnecessarily obscure. Ask him a question and he’s the bore’s bore. I suppose he was so even in his author’s time. But the effect of this is to display the actual process of human thought, the private, the inane sinking back into the well of the utterly dark, then coming forth, radiant, in true if episodic wisdom.

Auditioned for Doctor Faustus. Don’t know why. Maybe as a courtesy to Jason. Maybe because I’m having fun at Montford Park. Never imagined that happening. It is one example of an institution which drew deep breath and went forward revitalized once its founder had gone.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

July 11, 2008

The second waterlily blooms, the third, still a tightly clenched golden fist, rises from the depths.

Rehearsals for AYLI are inefficient but high spirited. N’s energy and sweetness are almost beyond bounds. He even goes along with it when our gray, lumbering Jacques starts directing– "Could you maybe say that from over there?. . . Could you point as if there were real brook?. . .Could you be a little more energetic in that speech, to motivate my entrance?" I would have stabbed him already, but our director lets it play itself out, and N’s good nature does not flag, and all ends well. Our Rosalind’s impressive grasp of her lines turns out to be attributable to her having done in role in UNCA’s all-girl wild-west version, arguably the worst production of this play in the history of the world. But she is smart and sparkling here, so that debacle was clearly not her fault. If I’m reading the schedule right, at last one of my scenes will never have been rehearsed before first run-through. Oddly, I don’t care.

Friday, July 11, 2008

July 10, 2008

Deleted my father’s phone number from speed-dial.

Yellow roses, orange tiger lilies, and the plate-sized pink hibiscus all came forth in last night’s rain.

Went to the studio, at last, and painted in joy.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Tight Dresses

July 9, 2008
Second rehearsal of As You Like It, and an impression completely revised. Orlando and Rosalind are pretty and witty and flirty, and the whole piece seems wonderfully cast. The director is going for a high-energy romp which, however one might quibble with details, will certainly work in the space. I was happy being there and smiling when I left.

A noise in the backyard brought me to the window. The noise was a big red thrasher bathing in the birdbath. It looked so monstrous wet and fluffed up–like an exploding reddish mop–that I almost didn’t know what it was.

During my Tolkien hour at the river, I looked up in time to see three lightning-white egrets flapping single file downstream. The French Broad was high and muddy brown, clearly roiled by the rain, but I was surprised by how little rain it took to trouble the waters. I got through only one chapter–which included a flood, now that I think of it–before the rains came back in force. I rejoice in the summer rains, which are tapering, but have not yet ceased to this moment.

My sister had dad’s home movies put onto DVDs. It is amazing they didn’t crumble into dust long ago. It was grievous watching them. I’m only about 1/10 through. I remembered every moment captured in them with unforgiving clarity. I spent most of my life being embarrassed, or hiding from embarrassment. I remembered that, but not why. Maybe the movies will show the moment it started, and the reason. I want to grouse that my sister appears ten minutes for my every one, but at least part of that time I spent running and hiding. I don’t know exactly what emotion it is, but it feels like the blade of a dull knife to see my dad young and venturesome and quite handsome, my mother nothing short of beautiful, with a figure that I didn’t remember as quite so sensational. She knew it. She wore tight dresses. There are my grandmother and my grandfather, who were born before the last century. There is Diane as a baby herself, now mother of cousin Michael who is fighting death in Ohio. There are the animals in the zoo, the sled rides down Malaysia Street, the puppies jumping around on the day they first came home. I can stand it only for brief stretches.

Night. Went to NC Stage to see Plays from the L’l Nashville by Asheville playwright, Waylon Wood. The level of acting was very high. Carla especially was convincing and moving as the drunk-with-a-secret, a part which could have been chaotic without her imaginative strength and control of presentation. I thought it was the best work she’s done. I might have said the same to the rest of the cast had I known their work and could make comparisons. It used to be that you saw the same people in every production; now the faces are new all the time, and that is very well. The play itself, a melding together of one-acts all set in a bar, has moments of brilliance. It also had moments that are not brilliant, though I would say there was never a moment when the seriousness and talent of the playwright was not evident. A fault of the script is that it is four five good plays that never got written, but remained as excellent character sketches, to be basted together for this event with all the seams showing. Mr Wood could write for ten years on those four or five different inspirations and bring his ideas to individual perfection. Now it’s like too many good raconteurs at the same party. It also was very badly paced. Every good moment was taxed by longueurs that even Chekkov could not sustain. One normally blames the director for this, but I think not in this case. In the talk-back afterward the playwright declared that he LOVED the slowness and HATED theater where they were all the time worried about pace. To me that’s like the director of an opera saying, "Oh, I hate when people are all the time obsessed about staying on pitch." Wood said, "Theater is all about choice. If you don’t like what you’re seeing, walk out of the theater." Did he mean that? If I had not been sitting with the parents of one of the actors, I would have gone at intermission-- not that I didn’t respect the play, but that I sensed it didn’t respect me, like a droning and self-delighted monologist you meet in bars like the one portrayed. Pace–basically the avoidance of boringness-- is one of the ways a production acknowledges that it has an audience, that the audience is part of the experience. The writer who doesn’t care about boring his audience will not have one.

I’m beginning to think that only second rate artists believe that their art, whatever it is, "is all about choice." Some aspects of art are imperative, unavoidable, objective–or else you are just skating on the surface.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

July 8, 2008

The water lily blossom sank back into the dark of the pond as mysteriously as it had risen.
Morning coffee with Jason. We talked about art, religious fanaticism, his show, my show. We brought each other gifts. He brought me a book; I brought him a toy and a Hawaiian shirt. The discussion of fanaticism inspired us to drive to Greenville to see Bob Jones’s art. He told me about when he broke his collarbone. He has Ent eyes. He is the perfect man.

Google search beamed into my mailbox a blog, called Age of Saliva, which is clearly a satire of mine. The author calls himself Minnehaha. I’m pretty sure I know who he is–he returns to certain obsessions out of the past, even as I do. As far as I can remember, I have never treated him with anything but the most tender and forbearant kindness, based on my true affection. Surely in this too we see things differently. It is– disappointing. One hopes for a friend and gets a sneering kind of spy. I cannot even cry "Foul!" because I am a pompous ass sometimes, and that fact is the blog’s main fodder. It’s nice, in a way, to be someone’s obsession. But, for the life of me, I wonder, "why bother?"
July 7, 2008

This is one of my birthdays, being the day I had open heart surgery in 1976, changing my health, my stamina, my life.

Visited TB at his retreat amid the cow pastures. These occasions are tense because I want sex and he wants to talk about his play. We end up talking about the play. Though I enjoy his company. I come away feeling, ever so slightly, used. This is not a serious problem. It is just a little short of perfection.

Second As You Like It rehearsal tomorrow. Our director has decided that Audrey is the real wit of the Touchstone/Audrey relationship, and that I should reel from her "zingers." That this is a violation of anything we can know about Shakespeare’s intent, and is justified nowhere in the lines, are principles I’m sure it would be pointless to bring up.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

July 6, 2008

Just dawn, a gray-green dark one, one in which it is impossible to believe it’s not raining, but it isn’t. Have been writing for hours, and am happy with what I’ve done. Will decide soon whether to plunge on or take a break and rejoin the world of the living.

Everything I own that is not strictly functional has grown disgusting to me-- mildly, anyway-- and part of yesterday was used to clear away the fancy boxes and cast iron animal banks and porcelain and the tchotchkas I spent time and money accumulating, and packing them away in the garage until the next yard sale, or until my affections shift again.

I have not recorded a ripple of good news, partially because its seems disrespectful in the wake of my father’s death, partially out of superstitious hesitancy to speak of anything good until it’s the rabbit in the sack. A foundation in DC phones the news that The Loves of Mr. Lincoln is a finalist for a prize given to a play about a historical subject. I’ve forgotten the size of the prize, and have not looked it up, lest that engage my anxiety. They did not tell me when the winner will be announced, and I did not ask. I sent out queries to agents concerning In the Country of the Young and The Falls of the Wyona, and received surprising and immediate letters of interest, which were gratifying, but also meant that I actually had to write the things. County is accomplished, and it is Wyona that I’m hammering through now, with some pleasure and, I think, some success. An agent in New York claims to be wild for The Sun in Splendor, finally. Bailiwick Theater in Chicago has apparently chosen Anna Livia, Lucky in Her Bridges for its fall season. The first installment of father’s legacy will get me significantly out of debt, and I expect the whole of it will get me fully out. All these things could miss. All could hit. Except for the money, which is purely mathematical. The mind has its own arithmetic which whispers that this is to make up for what was in some ways a terrible year–my father, unforgivable mistreatment by the university, constant misunderstanding and entanglements with the local theater community, sadness sometimes traceable to a cause and sometimes not–but the wisest part of myself understands that things don’t work that way, that some years the field is nettles and some it is poppies and there is no explanation.

Meanwhile, my cousin Michael Minor almost dies, again, after a bone marrow transplant, and his eloquent wife gives us a sense of what it is like to live in constant crisis, and I do pray for him, exactly as she asks, and am amazed by my vehemence, sincerity, the depth of my attachment to someone I met once when he was a baby in his mother’s arms.
July 5, 2008

Possibly I woke so crabby the last few days only because it’s hot. It’s still very dark. Once a bird started singing, but assumed he’d got the time wrong and went quiet again. Last night when fireworks lit the air, birds sang in the trees as though it were some tumultuous dawn.

Cook-out at Bill and Amy’s, extremely pleasant company, bountiful food, good talk, constant ratatat of little fireworks in the neighborhood, and great booms of them from places in the distance. I know people have parties because they are at their social best at them, but I am not. Usually–not always–I have to fight through layers of reluctance or protectiveness to get myself in the party mood. When am I at my best? I refuse to say what came to mind–-right here alone, typing away in bliss--for it is too depressing. MP says that, though he is an excellent and enthusiastic interpreter of music, he has no interest in ever writing any. I wonder how interested I would have been in literature had I not been a writer? Impossible to say; it came as a package. What would I have been interested in? Nature? Science? I can’t even imagine, I am so used to what I am.

Longing for an iced coffee in a café which will not open for an hour–

Went to the Toyota dealership to see if I could buy a Prius. There was no Prius on the lot, but if I paid $500 to get on a waiting list, I might have a chance to buy one in the next five months. I paid the money. Who knows why?
July 4, 2008

Jesse Helms is dead. Some people will mourn him. Some people have short memories.
July 3, 2008

Dogwood Forest published an obituary for dad in their newsletter, remembering that he loved when children visited, sharing stories and candy. They add, "he was the perfect gentleman."
July 2, 2008

Gazing at my waterlily as though it were a newborn child.

Went hiking this morning along the Hard Times Trail. It is high summer and everything is voluptuous, fully realized, a little competitive-- even the plants with their subtle elbows and unseen blocks. The massive green of the woods and the pale blue of the sky were accented elegantly by small stands of pale magenta phlox, and the white-edged-in-pink rhododendrons still blooming on the cool high slopes. My toe was sore. It was not too hot. Maybe because of the dryness there were few bugs. I was happy. I don’t think I thought more than a few random thoughts.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Waterlily

July 1, 2008

Dream last night. I took my father on a tour of Egypt. Our hotel was right across the street from the Sphinx. We had been invited to a party, and when the dream ended I was convincing him he didn’t have t change his clothes to attend

Had breakfast at 5 Points with DV. We came here then to look at my garden. He brought his guitar, and when we were done with the garden he played songs for me on the guitar, and then on the piano, making its out-of-tuneness seem not quite so horrible. I thought many thoughts while he was singing. I thought what a rare and cherished moment it was to have him singing to me in a way that was just like– well I don’t know like what. Like a different life that I never had. I admired his boldness, his fearlessness, his assumption (correct, as it turned out) of acceptance and delight. I would no more go to anyone’s house and sing for them–or read a poem, or show them a painting-- than fly over the moon. Yet he went forward without a ripple of self-consciousness. His pace is a manly presto and his dynamic is always at or near fortissimo. I did not particularly admire this in the music, but I admired it in the man. I stared at him as he played, thinking that there should be a way to predict those passions in a body that looked exactly like that. What was there in the thickness of his neck or the color of his hair or the arch of his brows that predicted what music he would love, and how he would play it? What was there in his history or his chemistry or his anatomy that would exactly that voice to him, or that dexterity of finger? I had wondered this about my father, as that uniqueness passed away as though it never was. Should I have been filming David to make it last? Is it enough to dig treasuries for this in my mind, so that it might never be erased or rooted out?

Brian came to clean the house, and was in the kitchen listening. When David left, Brian emerged with anger on his face. He was angry that a boy like that should lecture to a man of my credentials and experience about the way the world was. He thought David a brat and an upstart. The truth was I had heard no lecture, nor any tone of lecture, and hadn’t recalled David saying much at all. I recalled the music, blood red with energy and joy, the singing voice of one I love and may never see again.

My first waterlily blooms in the front yard tub. It is pure pale gold.