Sunday, November 30, 2008

November 30, 2008

Yesterday morning spent at the Vet with Jocasta, but when I consider how many mornings and evenings have NOT been spent at the emergency award with a bleeding child, it seems a small price. They put us in a tiny, enclosed, perfectly square cubicle to wait for the vet, and I was on the verge of frenzy by the time he showed up. A sensory deprivation chamber and I would not be a good match. A bottle of antibiotics gives the hope that all is well with her for a while. It was touching to see those big lugs dragging in on a Saturday morning, on the verge of tears, hurt puppies in their arms.

When packing dad’s possessions for the final trip to Atlanta, I used blankets and comforters from the cupboards as padding. I’m trying actually to use them for their intended purpose now. Currently on my bed is a yellow quilt with yellow tassels all over it, which looks homemade. I just wish I knew whose home. I don’t believe I ever saw it in use. Perhaps it is a precious heirloom that I was told nothing of.

Yesterday an achy, sleepy, stay-at-home day. I did get writing done on The Falls of the Nantahala.
November 29, 2008

I don’t know how today will turn out, but I was wrong about Jocasta being healed, even if she was, for a time, better. The ailment clearly returned in the evening. I was like one of those people watching at a bedside, who take a smile or an easier breath as a sign of recovery. Furnaces and cats always break on holidays, when there is nobody to fix them.
November 28, 2008

The mail delivery today included solicitations from two chiropractors and an attorney concerning my traffic accident. News travels fast, or they, like sharks, have secret senses to tell them when something is thrashing in the water.

Jocasta was sick when I left Wednesday. She had been bleeding from her anus for a couple of days (at first I didn’t know what the stains were), and she was incontinent, nauseated, and clearly miserable. I didn’t know what to do, so I set up a separate place for her in the garage. She was not happy, and howled pitiably when I shut the door. I thought of her all the time I was in Atlanta. I hoped–indeed I prayed–that she might die, in order to spare her the protracted suffering that only ended in death anyway, which I experienced with Theseus and Conrad. When I got home and looked in the garage, she wasn’t there. I crawled down into the furnace crawlspace with flashlight in hand, but I couldn’t find her. I walked the yard, peering into the cave under the spruce that has been her place of resort, calling her name with increasing desperation. Finally I went back into the garage, just at the moment she was emerging from a space which looked too narrow to accommodate her. She is deaf, and hadn’t heard me before. When she saw me, she let out such a howl. I took her in my arms and brought her back into the house. I knew from looking in her eyes that she was well, that whatever had ailed her had passed. She is eighteen, and we cannot look for very many more miraculous recoveries, but this one was sweet, and the outpouring of emotion at having her restored was so great I was exhausted for the rest of the evening.

Kyle invited some of us over for a bachelors’ Thanksgiving, and the whole time I was sleepy and weary, in a good way, spent from the mingling of panic and joy. She lies asleep on her place on my pillow, and all, for this time, is well

Thanksgiving in Alpharetta. The boys have grown into young gods. Bekka’s new boyfriend is a young god, too, and one peered at them to study how that separate creation unfolds. It is a happy, loving, brawling family, and one so unlike their mother’s and mine when we were growing up, and so unlikely to have sprung from the selfish and morose father, that one wonders how such things happen. A kind of miracle, I guess. David spent hours perfecting the design of a homemade plastic-spewing claymore.

Makes me wish I could start over.

Walk along a little brown river after dinner, with everyone crying out, “Happy Thanksgiving!”

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

November 25, 2008

Stepped in cold cat vomit first thing in the morning. Hauled trash for the trash man to take, and saw that the damage to the Prius is worse, or at least uglier, in the light. It looks like a tin can opened without an opener.

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Bad Day

November 24, 2008

Anna Livia gets a third and worst review in Chicago, wherein I’m again blamed for what I did not write. I will never forgive KM (even if I sensed he sought forgiveness), who must, in his mind, have been proving some point or other. I’m blamed for its being humorless when the play is full of laughs which production ditched each time. I’m blamed for “failed imagery” when one main actor could not speak the lines and the director made a habit of cutting off either the root or the flower–sometimes both–of every idea, leaving so many barren stems, the reviewers observe correctly, flapping in the wind. Each time I think I’ve put this behind me someone else chimes in–“ignorantly” I want to say, but, aside from the tone of faggy superciliousness, I don’t know what else they would have said. I know I demand a good deal from actors– or do I? Basically that they understand the lines and say them audibly. That was too much to ask in Chicago, and I wish the Internet didn’t make it so easy for me to chew the rags of that increasingly exhausting experience.

I had looked at my new Prius once too often and thought what a beauty she was. I knew this. I knew I was tempting the gods. As I waited to turn right into Walgreen’s to buy medicine for my throbbing head, I was rear-ended by a van with Tennessee plates. The force was remarkable, and the sound of one heavy metal body hitting another was quite sickening. The back of my car is a horror show. The front of her van is wiped out. But both of us are well. All was amicable, and she admitted culpability the minute the police made their appearance. The streets were wet and her brakes did not engage, is her thought. I would have been out of the way had some glum-looking hippie not been taking her time across the sidewalk at the mouth of the parking lot. I stopped to let her by, and the break in the rhythm of turning threw the van driver off, is my guess. The collision did cure my headache, though my whole body is a little rattled now. And, my lovely little car. It is too sad to think about. I want to blame the hippie girl on the sidewalk, if only because her expression was so sour. I wonder if she turned around and looked at the mess behind her?
November 23, 2008

The do last night was a party to celebrate a wedding that had already happened, not the wedding itself, a fact I would have known, someone observed tartly, if I actually read my emails rather than scanning the captions. The Arts Center is a much better functions room than it is a theater, and looks rather lovely by candlelight. Most everybody seemed connected to the theater, and when one was asked “what are you doing now,” one knew it meant “what play are you doing now?” I was doing none at all, and so came off as a kind of eccentric. Ben looked boyish and happy, an excellent host. I wanted to cuddle him, but he was so busy and so married. People streamed in late from performances, and begged off social engagements because of rehearsals. I remember making the conscious decision not to be immersed in that life, no matter how often I might dip in my toe.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

November 22, 2008

Have been contemplating the chill in my writing, and I think it has to do with the disaster in Chicago. I managed to keep the bad production and the bad reviews from becoming a conscious depression, but they apparently became a sort of mystical one anyway. It has surprised me through the years how I react to setbacks such as that. I think they don’t affect me, but one morning I will take stock and realize I haven’t sent anything out in two years, or that I have stopped writing in whatever genre suffered the loss, and turned to other things.I have been writing, if, significantly, on fiction rather than drama. But I would like the old obsession back.

A snail, white, with a pale blush of purple, patrols the fish tank, leaving little crooked trails behind it free of algae. The tank man came yesterday and filled it up to the brim, and added a killi fish to replace the one who leapt to his death. They’re my favorite. . . perhaps because they are inclined, or at least equipped, to leap to their deaths.

Burco International, the building next to the Flood in the River District, caught fire and burned. The damage seems to be superficial, but it was very cold and the water from the fire hoses froze and cars slipped and flipped on their roofs on Roberts Street and the Riverlink Bridge. Jolene rushed to the Flood, wondering what to do if the Bio-Diesel tanks caught fire. I suppose, run.

Coffee with HJ. We were enormously convivial and compatible, laughing at the same things, striving for the same things, comprehending one another’s strivings when they were different, understanding each other quickly. Perhaps its just needed for her to stop being my student long enough for a bridge to be built between us.

Am supposed to be on my way to B’s wedding, a night wedding at the Art Center. It amazes me what energy it takes to overcome the stay-home inertia on a freezing winter night.
November 21, 2008

Promised Leland that I would repeat the step aerobics class that annihilated me on Wednesday, but woke up exactly as it was starting, to a pale gleam that I wondered how could be the moon, and wasn’t, but was rather a light fall of snow.

The cats love texture. The house abounds in smooth surfaces to sleep on, but they will choose the shirt dropped on the floor, the angle of a book on the desk, a magazine awry on the piano top.

Friday, November 21, 2008

November 18, 2008

Steve Willows has died of cancer. Since I have known him his life was a series of disappointments and hard knocks. Maybe it is peace now.

Phone calls from friends throughout the evening. This is strange to me, and I don’t know precisely how to act. I hope for the best.

John and Scott are back to fix a leak in the new porch roof, and to pocket another $1000.

Word is that the Jane Bingham check has been written. I’m proud to say I took a deep breath and got back into the game before that news reached me. It was more trouble than it was worth, though I will try to keep that to myself. I will try not to wonder why certain people did so badly by me, and try to remember how others did so well.

I am waiting for something. I do not know what it is.

The drowsy cats thronged about me on the desk make it difficult to stay awake.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

November 16, 2008

Headed downtown last night for No Shame Theater. It was a good one, many engaging pieces and only a few stupid ones. The stupid ones were salvaged by the good will of the audience. Willie seems to be writing a stage adaptation of All the King’s Men. It was the piece which ought to have a future beyond that night. Good actors, good company, good moments scattered through. I was glad I went, though Sunday morning came early.

Sang for 9 o’clock service; sang for 11:15 service, sang the Mozart Requiem with UNCA at First Baptist, went to Cantaria rehearsal. I was probably of negative value at the Cantaria rehearsal. I’ve had enough singing for a while, but I was in good voice, so it was, largely, a delight. We had to be on stage for the Requiem a while ahead of time, so I listened to the conversation of the boys around me, funny and wide-ranging, full of false facts and true ones sown with equal exuberance. I was happy in their company, and will be a little forlorn without them tomorrow.

The Jane Bingham debacle turns out, according to DJ, to have been an issue of bad communication. He claims that it wasn’t that the Cathedral wasn’t going honor its commitment, but just that it hadn’t. The check hadn’t gotten written, but nobody was withholding it for the cruel reasons I had imagined. Now, I do chastize myself for unnecessary volatility, but if anyone at any time had said, “Relax, we haven’t gotten to it yet. It’s coming,” the issue would have been at rest forever. I said before that I can’t fight the fog. Turns out that I can’t even cooperate with it.

I feel tricked into being an asshole.

Katharine Jefferts Shori

November 15, 2008

Last night we sang at Kanuga for a service led by Katharine Jefferts Shori, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. She was an impressive presence. “Presence” is in fact the operative word. She seemed denser, more substantial than the people around, as if she were made of steel. Gravitas and rectitude. I think that our church is sometimes frivolous in its cautions and hesitations, in its slowness to justice and swiftness on the trail of breaches of procedure. But Katharine rode that chaos as a skillful rider guides a wayward stead. If all our vagueness condenses at last into her sharpness and precision, then it may in part be forgiven. She is in the top ten of impressive people I have seen in my life. It would have been nice to have spoken to her, but eight hundred were thinking the same thing.

In addition to being the night of Katharine Jefferts Shori, it was the night of the beautiful fields. We were told to park in a little lot across from the gym, where the service was. To get to the gym you had to cross a grassy field lit by great outdoor lights. Under the black sky the lit field was wondrous beautiful, emerald, elfin, as though lit, by some power more magical than electricity. When we got home, after the service and after drinks at the Usual, the headlights revealed the back alley completely covered by the fallen leaves of the red oak that overhangs it. Red, ruffled, wild, as though it were a space in the forest.

Rehearsal of the Mozart Requiem this AM at First Baptist. I do enjoy doing it, and being in that eager company. It is going to be terrible, but that does not mitigate all the rest.

Drove to the Arboretum to look at some wooden bowls. The bowls were not interesting, but the mountainous landscape round about was almost inconceivably beautiful. Wind blew leaves up from the forest floor into twisting figures in the air. The blue sky was roofed at west and east by gray clouds covered with a foam of blinding white. The mountains stood almost nude, so the remaining clumps of gold sung out like struck strings. The near oaks were blood red, and darker even under the coming storm. I bought a book on the natural history of ferns. I bought a book with pictures of the flowers of the mountain.
November 14, 2008

John and Scott finished the porch (though, in the rain, it leaks from a seam) but left their equipment here. I wondered why, until I got a call from John wondering if I didn’t want the back porch done too.

The Dean sends me a blistering email, wherein he scolds me for inferring motives behind actions when, he said, his motives, anyway, are so complicated I couldn’t possibly understand them. The matter is not of the moment to him, only my way of pursuing it. I don’t know what to do. However important this might have been, I can’t fight fog. All ths would have been as simple as handing me the check which was promised, one that I would have returned instantly if money had been the problem. Simplicity turns into fog and the feints of indecision. The Cathedral has broken my heart four times. I think that is about enough.

Standing at the lunch counter at UNCA. The student in front of me launched into a philippic concerning raw sushi, mentioning liver flukes and the like. I looked down at my hand. The package I held said very clearly, “Cook Eel Sushi.” I felt redeemed.

Friday, November 14, 2008

November 12, 2008

Went to Mickey’s goodbye gala at the Usual. Whatever else one thought, one had to admit that she looked beautiful. That must count for something. Convivial company there, and I thought that I might have more friends of more different persuasions than I sometimes allow myself to consider. Walked home very drunk, with the moon diffusing through mist that was almost rain, and I said aloud to the darkness, “What a sweet, sweet night.”

Spoke with the Dean concerning the Jane Bingham controversy. I was already finished fighting before he called, so it was easier for me to form an objective view of what transpired between us. The Dean admitted the cathedral was losing a vibrant and “wonderful” program, but at no point had it occurred to him, apparently, to force the hand of the person who was preventing that program for no reason that I can see beyond the flattering of her own vanity. But, there it is. My insistence on considering the matter as well as the emotion must strike my cathedral colleagues as barbaric.

When I was a little boy my father brought home a Masterworks clock which had a fireplace in it, that burned when you turned a little knob in the back. I found one like it on Ebay, and turned the knob for the first time tonight. It was wonderful. It brought back such memories–and there was no one you say, “turn it of now, you’re wasting electricity.”

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

November 11, 2008

Accepted TB’s invitation to join him and Greg at the Usual for drinks last night. Greg is off to New York and TB off to alcohol and drug rehab in Idaho, and there I was lifting cocktails with him. He assured me that rehab began the next day. Greg was his usual font of the abstruse. TB was sweet and vulnerable, maybe a little frightened. Who can tell? He is newly stylish in his dress, or I didn’t notice before. I was happy to be sharing the evening with him. Friends of his came with a Trivial Pursuits game, and there DJ and I were playing Trival Pursuits in a bar until midnight. It was good. I was happy. Every night I need to do something peculiar.

Classes are good, I think, but end-of-the-semester hysteria makes my students narrow and fretful. They don’t want to explore; they want to be reassured. They tell me without flinching that they have to miss my class because they have to catch up on work for other classes. I am grateful for the candor, but astonished by the brass.

The Druid is not interested in The Beautiful Johanna. They didn’t read it (you can tell from the thank-you letter) and I am sorry.

Chall phones and offers me a kitten. That I should be thought of as a kitten-refuge satisfies me, even though, at the moment, the house is full.

Stock market too low even to look at. Am I depressed about that, or the crash of the Jane Bingham project, or Mickey’s departure, or the Druid, or what? I am depressed about something, though it is a little whimpering depression rather than a big howling one.

Glen showed me all the pictures on the Internet of himself in his kendo costume. That is the one where you whack folks with a length of bamboo. In the photos he looks focused and grave and very butch.
November 10, 2008

Last night’s dream: Ireland, again. Again, in the dream I was a boy. I lived on a farm, or perhaps my best friend did. I was never sure whether I was protagonist or sidekick. On this farm was born a miraculous antelope which was fully sentient (though it could not speak) and did all sorts of human things, and had human emotions. It had been born underwater, and hence was often seen cavorting with the friendly alligators which abound in Irish waters. I did not own the antelope, but it communicated telepathically with me, so I was important when the family that did own it began a little business in town centered around the antelope. It’s a little fuzzy now (Circe woke me up by jumping on my ankle, claws extended) but things were going wrong near the end, and the antelope communicated to me its sadness and desire to be on to something else. I became persona non grata when I told the family this. We were away from our village when we quarreled, and they made me walk home. I was afraid I would be too cold in my windbreaker, so I began to run, to get home before nightfall. I ran along a corridor between two broad lakes, and I wondered if the alligators in the lakes would ever think of their friend the antelope.

The faculty reading went well yesterday. The lesbians began rearranging the furniture the minute they walked in. All the readings were good, but Jim’s struck me as especially powerful and well-wrought. Good attendance, some from “outside” –owing, I think, to my expanding utilization of Face Book.

So tired at the ends of days that I haven’t seen 10 PM in a week.

Had leftover blue taco chips with French onion dip for breakfast, which I washed down with grapefruit juice. It occurs to me that not all my stomach problems are cruel impositions from the outside.
November 9, 2008

Diane Gilliam’s presentation was quite fine, her poems about coal miners and their wives precise and surprising. I watched that perfect oak tree outside the window of Canon Lounge while she read.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

November 8, 2008

Have been going to bed early, which is a trigger for rich dreams. Last night Irish towns were imbedded in a great rain forest full of tropical animals and mysterious spirits. I seemed to be a kid hanging out with kids, especially a solemn lad who was Peter B in body, but not in demeanor. He had seen something in the forest which frightened him, and made him very serious, and he wanted me to see too, so we took a road trip, which became a hike as the forest thickened and the road became unusable. It was a long dream with many side paths. Sometimes we went to the Irish towns to shop or get back in touch with civilization. Often we were in the forest. It was rutted, like the forests I remember in the north, with overgrown logging roads. We ran across various groups of people–mostly American women–who had come there to get in touch with forest spirits or the indigenous milieu or some such thing. I learned to play a sacred instrument which was made of clay and you blew into one of many holes. One night we heard a terrible noise on the forest. One of the women said “That’s the spirits passing. I hate when that happens,” as though she had heard it a thousand times. In the course of it, I was becoming a spirit myself, often apparently (and delightedly) invisible to those who passed near to me. If I came to the edge of one of the towns, people would look at me as if they didn’t quite see me, or were afraid. I was shirtless, and decorated myself with red feathers. It was disappointing that we never actually saw the wonderful things the women and Peter were seeking in the forest, though, as I say, I think we might have been becoming them. I think if I lay down and slept now, that dream would continue.

Bought a vitrine from a man who was standing there when I entered his booth at the antiques mall. When he saw me looking at the piece, he said, he said, “I’ll give you 15% off, plus I’ll deliver.” I didn’t think I was looking for a vitrine, but I bought it, and now use it to house the sizeable teapot collection that I hadn’t realized I was amassing. There were three men, clearly owners of booths, ranging the store yesterday morning, and I noted that he was the one who was handsome. Whatever other plans I might have had were dashed when he arrived with his wife. Still, I have the vitrine. I wonder if that’s what that thing is actually called? Talked with another booth owner who said, “Weren’t you my Humanities professor?” I supposed I was, though I didn’t remember her. I asked if she had good memories of the class, and she said she did. I asked this because at coffee earlier in the morning, Jason said he’d been at a party where he met one of my former students, who said she hated me She had offered the information about hating one of her professors several times before Jason asked who it was.
“Why did you hate him?” asked Jason.
“Because he left out such-and-such an author in class.”
“Did you mention it? Did you ask if you could do that author?”
The former-student booth owner was putting sale signs on all her stuff, because she foresaw the financial collapse of America, and wanted to be as liquid as possible when it came. I said, “The Market is up today.” She said, “They’re in for a surprise.” I think she must have been a McCain supporter.

Showed Jason our studio. He seemed happy, and that made me happy. I was hoping to use it for the Studio Stroll, which is today, but it is far from finished, and there is no hope of that. Maybe it’s my signal from the gods not to bother with the stroll, which has been frustrating the last several times. But the new studio is big and high and has great tall windows opening on the east and south.

Had dinner with Diane Gilliam and WW luminaries, in connection with my role on the Warren Wilson Library board. She’s the visiting speaker this weekend, and as we chatted, I discovered she lives in Akron, on Robindale, in the shadow of Ellet High. It is a world of terrible smallness.

Still very dark. The Christmas cactus hovers like a cloud in its white blossoms between me and the invisible ceiling of the room. This is my favorite time.

Late morning: Drained and cleaned the water gardens, then refilled them with fresh water to give the waterlily roots somewhere to spend the winter. It’s been months since anything was visible under that organic soup. From one barrel I took five surviving wild minnows and from the other five surviving store-bought goldfish, one of them black. I took them to Beaver Lake and lowered them in, to begin a new, and far wider, life. I watched while they shouldered their way through the leafy mess at the edge of the lake. They did not know which way the deep was, and I could see them a long time, lingering, doubling back, poking things with their blunt heads. I allowed myself to think they were gesturing goodbye before they entered the profundities.

I wondered why the cattails, which in spring had been tilted by the least wind, had anchored themselves by summer. I discovered that they had shot out a great root, thick as a child’s arm, covered with green roothairs, which filled the bottom of the barrel and gave them a foundation. This I cut into pieces and lowered into the mud at the rim of Beaver Lake, thinking that a stand of cattails, and maybe red-winged blackbirds bubbling in them, is just what it needs.

A red fox ran across the street in front of my car on Charlotte Street. He was a flame of fire.
November 7, 2008

My house seems in a permanent state of upheaval, on the porch now, as it has been for a week or so, tools and materials strewn over the flower beds, the front door unusable. Though Scott and John are inches away on the front porch, I feel I can’t close the blinds, as that would seem too obviously a gesture of shutting them out, or allowing myself some shameful activity within.

Let this year’s round of applications for grants from the NC Arts Council pass, wondering if 20 consecutive refusals should be teaching me a lesson. To be powerless against fraud is of all the sources of fury among the worst for me. I don’t take well to the phrase, “nothing to be done,” but sometimes that is the case.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

President Obama

November 5, 2008

A gang of us sat in Kyle’s living room watching history be made last night. When Ohio went for Obama, we knew it was won, but we stayed to savor every moment. It was like the night I sat with my dad in the living room in Akron and watched men land on the moon. That a person even of my not-quite-so-advanced years would live to see a black man in the White House would have been, a little while ago, inconceivable. Watching tears roll down Jesse Jackson’s face said it all. I am sanguine enough to believe a whole nation has wandered out of the wilderness and set its feet in the promised land. In his acceptance speech, President Obama pushed not one of the hysteria buttons that have been the singular watchword of the present administration. He did not call upon us to cling to him out of fear, or to cleave together out of hatred for others. He stretched out his arms and gathered. In one night America steps into a cleansing rain, and emerges clean and whole in the eyes of all the world, when it had been smeared almost beyond recognition. I know my friends in Ireland will be dancing in the streets tonight. I will be too if I can find a dance to join. Maybe I’ll dance by myself, under the great golden gum tree where only the squirrels can look on with bemusement. Though at the end it looked inevitable, we thought that something might at last happen to steal the new age away. It did not. I have been happy to be alive before, but never once before because of politics.

M phones that she is off to San Diego next week to the arms of a boy who has loved her since high school. Interfering with-- or even having a firm opinion about–the destiny of another is a dangerous proposition, and I don’t know how even to have a perspective on this, except that I will miss her. The Asheville theater scene will miss her, where she has left a deep mark in a very short time. Everybody will miss her. The only one we know for sure who will profit by this is the boy she runs to. I hope for him that all is well.

Wednesday is open for me, so I tried to write–and will try again–but since this summer I have found myself oddly scoured clean of fancy. My own imaginative worlds do not, for the moment, interest me. It’s not a bad feeling–rather clean and streamlined, the way I imagine other people to live, who do not drag around longings and imaginings that somehow they believe, if they labor desperately enough, they can make real. I miss it. I do not totally recognize myself. But I also don’t know what to do about it, so I busy myself with concrete undertakings–fixing the house, playing the market, waiting for the next night out. This is probably how I would have lived all my life if I had not been a poet.

Robin Farquhar shoots himself at the cabin at Flat Rock Playhouse. Who knows why anybody does anything, most especially this.

John asks for an advance on his check to cover “an unexpected expense.” I give it to him, noticing the perfection of his teeth. We chat for a moment, and he reveals that his oldest daughter is off next year to college to study psychology. “Where?” says I “Liberty,” says he. “In Lynchburg?” I say. He nods. I stop myself from saying anything else. He has said not one word about my Obama T-shirt, so I decide to return the favor. I realize there could no more be understanding between our worlds than if one of us were a Martian. This makes me sad.
November 4, 2008

Dream at dawn of going on a nature hike with Denny Taylor (as we used to do), only “nature” was a gigantic building with long white corridors, like a hospital, where occasionally there would be a diorama or a person with a cage full of rabbits or frogs that one could hold. I need to go home. I need to go to Ohio. I need to see Denny. I need to see places where I held rabbits and frogs.

Election Day. Dear God, let it be epoch-making.
November 3, 2008

Moths were fluttering under the lamps on campus, and it nearly winter.

Obama’s grandmother did not live to see him President. I hope she knew in her heart.

Jason visits to retrieve his painting for his show. He says that his brother is coming to live with him for a while. “I hope he stays forever,” he says. I am of two minds. The brother may distract and keep Jason from spending time with me; on the other hand, maybe the brother will like me and I will have two Sabbides to play with instead of one. I will pray for the fairer outcome.

A student comes to my office to excuse himself for missing class. His mother was diagnosed with cancer, and he rushed to be with her. He fights off tears during the dialogue. They do not understand how dear and beautiful these moments are to us. Sometimes when people say, “You have no children,” I do not know what they mean.

Am giving the Corolla to NA. It has been a good and faithful servant, and this seems a better continuation of its karma than selling it.

Circe will even leave a bowl of food to come attack the sheets while I’m making the bed. It is a kind of feline aesthetic of which I approve.
November 2, 2008

Three droll Mexicans hauled my new furniture in. I wondered what they were saying to each other, about my house, about me. The furniture disappeared from my conscious view almost as soon as it was installed.

John and Scott working all day on my porch, in the most remarkable and un-workmanlike silence. I gave them the left-over refreshments from my little Halloween party. Scott said, “I’m going home to shoot .22's with my sons and their cousins. It’s good redneck fun.”

Sang the Rheinberger Requiem, then Cantaria rehearsal. Came home sick with exhaustion. I’m wondering if I’m nourished by my association with All Souls. I hold with it hoping to be nourished, hoping to be surprised by some extraordinary stirring of the spirit, but it is long since anything of the like has happened. I’m not sure that I am a friend to my All Souls friends, or merely a kind of habit. I’ve offered my services to All Souls in a beyond-the-call way several times--running for Vestry, attempting to set up a drama program–and have been rebuffed each time. Am I needed? Am I a kind of outlandish appendage that is endured as other anomalies are endured? I don’t know whether it is merely vanity to want to be of service. I don’t know whether I am supposed to be “nourished.” Maybe I’m meant simply to endure this, too, as so many other things need to be endured. I think of the time poured into this institution, without any “return” either of the spirit or the emotions (should I look for a return?) and without any feeling that things wouldn’t be the same if I weren’t there at all. I have thought this before, but thought it doubly tonight because I was so weary, and the sight of those bricks and tiles was becoming sickening to me.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

November 1, 2008

Thirteen hundred dollars come to me in one day for poems: the carol in Best American Spiritual Writing, and two poems which won second prize in a contest for war poems put on by somebody called “Winning Writers.” I must have entered the contest, but the memory is mist.

Halloween gathering at my house, with the front porch hidden behind John and Scott’s scaffolding and the garden still ablaze with roses– though the nasturtiums and the cannas have succumbed. We watched Pan’s Labyrinth and the Lugosi Dracula with Philip Glass’s music. I don’t know if I like to entertain or not. It is perhaps one of those things which is better in retrospect; I certainly like having entertained.

Some bitterness as a weekend annihilated by tasks and rehearsals and waiting for the furniture deliver man. Monday will hit like a bomb and I all unprepared.
October 29, 2008

Snow fell before it was deeply cold, so there was the rare sight of living roses with snow on them. The terrace is now a blanket of pink baby’s blanket roses, and there was a blanket of white over that.

John and Scott are hammering away at the porch. People are taking care of me, and I am taking care of them, and it is all almost disturbingly satisfactory.

Blue, cold, radiant today. I planted tassel ferns, then replanted the daffodils I dug up doing so.