Sunday, January 31, 2010

January 30, 2010

The great snow that finally came upon us was solemn and beautiful. I decided to walk in the midst of it, and found myself at the Usual, sitting with John and Blake, and later a woman who is living with Blake. It was exactly the right happenstance, for I was inclined to be gloomy because of the play, and because of my fear of winter, but their talk was lively and different from the talk I normally hear. All three were outdoorsmen with stories to tell of the wide spaces of the West. All three loved the snow, and planned to use today “to play.” Blake had never taken his daughter sledding, and that was the center of his plans. They made me feel better about it all, and when I took a moment to complain about the cancellation, it seemed irrelevant. Called DJ when the party at the Usual broke up, and spent the rest of the night admiring his new bathroom, watching an atrocious vampire flick, and then the winter X games, where long-haired boys on abbreviated surf boards fly way up into the air and turn and flip, Concentrated on the lingo of the commentators, who affirmed that one lad must “up it up” and remarked on everyone’s “amplitude” and enumerated who had “platformed.” Laughed myself sick over something. Did not have the night I wanted, but had, finally, one plenty good enough.

We did not lose, or have not yet lost, power, and that has made the difference. One does not have to curl in the dark and silence and cold like an animal in its cage.

Evening. Used the day to prepare manuscripts. Have not stepped outside the house except to refill the bird feeder. Can stand one or two such days a year. I’m actually happy and quiet in my heart for a while. Renaissance music from the computer. A stack of submissions to be mailed Monday morning. Cats lazier than I. Barely thought of Johanna more than eight or ten times.

A strange sound brought me into the kitchen, then to the washer, where Maud stood nose to nose with a handsome mouse, who was standing tip-toe on top of the agitator. They were well on their way to becoming friends. The great days of mousing ended with Jocasta, and now the Peaceable Kingdom spreads beneath my roof.
January 29, 2010

Just e-mailed the agonizing & frustrating consent to cancel tonight’s show, in the face of a “massive storm” whose first flake has not yet fallen. All the schools closed early and the groceries are flooded by panicked buyers, so I suppose the night would have been ruined in any case. Sweet that we went out on a full house. Best guess is that we’ll lose Saturday as well. We added a Sunday matinee. Who knows? I think this train is derailed. I’m glad everyone was having fun in the hours before–.

Cathy Smith Bowers has been named NC Poet Laureate. The news report says she works at UNCA, but I’ve never heard of her. That was probably a major point in her favor.

Friday, January 29, 2010

January 28, 2010

Thursday night Johanna the best one yet, in terms of performance and of audience. Full house. Adam and Casey still trying new things. It is a matter of pride to watch my five actors strengthen their muscles in my gym. . . well, that image sounded better before I typed it out. I was waiting with phone in pocket to see if there is a party tonight, but they didn’t call me. Probably had enough of me with my words in their mouths and ears night after night. Moon rose full in a pale blue sky, softened and blurred by clouds now. Sad because they didn’t call me. . . too tired to go if they did. . . one side of me perpetually making excuses for the other.

Casey said tonight will be closing night because tomorrow the snows will come. Whatever betides, I have a community to thank for this success. The seats have been full; the comments (in my earshot, anyway) laudatory. The internet sniper has been on top of it, of course, he who calls himself Minnehaha and “Theater Fan” and the like, who has something snippy and denigrating to say in those little comment boxes online media provide. Some enemy I don’t remember making. Envy and cowardice about balance in him, hiding behind anonymity and just clever enough to make malice look like a kind of judgment. One must put up with this, even as there are ticks and chiggers in the best tilled garden.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

January 27, 2010

Got to the studio and painted seriously, which has given the day a feel of accomplishment. Cold in the studio, the breath coming visibly between the lips and the canvas, but one forgets the cold after a few moments of immersion.

Dick Blick Art Supplies sends 31 tubes of greenish umber. I ordered one. I phone to complain and the lady says, “Well, that’s what it says here on your order, 31 tubes.” She puts up a brief resistence, but my theory of a mistyping prevailed in the face of the idiocy of 31 tubes of greenish umber.

Probed around in my journals to discover when it was I started painting. It was November, 1991. I had just been jilted by Carol J, I was broke and duns called six times an hour. Then one night I stayed up and pained three views of a planet I called Celemene, and her three moons. I lined the paintings up on the mantel and looked at them for two solid hours. I am still, sort of, painting Celemene and her three moons.

Sometimes I am lured into looking at old journals. It is always a mistake. I back away whispering, My God, I have never been at home.
January 24, 2010

Wake unrested, ready, nevertheless, to arch my fingers over the keys.

Largest audience yet last night, and at points the best performance. Adam and Casey get freer, and the experiments dazzle. It is unnatural for me to sit and watch it every time. I would have started leaving after my curtain speech if I didn’t fear it would be read as some kind of judgment. Besides, bathed by the intimacy of the stage, I miss them before the next day is over, before I can drive downtown in the sleet and fight for parking and see them again.

Late-coming, well-dressed, distracted-by-each-other, kissy-faced, intermission-leaving lovers inhabited the stage right bleachers again. Must be a sort of tradition. It occurred to someone that Johanna’s standing there naked for half an hour might bring such things on.

Depressed by the continuing labors of Matt the Handyman. DJ must be wild.

This has been the longest month in the history of the world.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

January 23, 2010

My niece Beka found a gap in her schedule and drove up from Athens yesterday afternoon. The trip has to be a whirlwind, but it’s great to have one of the family in my house again, as hasn’t happened since there were but two of them camping out on the living room floor amid a fortress of pillows. We wandered Asheville by night, at which time it can’t be that much different from any particular section of Atlanta, except the streets are happier. She kept remarking on the beauty of the encircling mountains. One forgets how beautiful they are until a stranger arrives.

Morning coffee with Tom, then late morning coffee and chit-chat about the play with two of my students, then noon coffee and a long conversation with John S behind his radiant gray eyes. He was talking about his little brother being the golden boy of the family, and I was trying to imagine someone more golden than he. John and Ben ushered last night, so I got another glimpse. Took occasion to thank the Powers for having been surrounded so much of the day by the energy of the young.

D said in the dressing room that last night’s performance was “bound to be down” after the success of opening night. I thought it was, though I seemed to be alone in thinking so. It was my mood. I felt darkened a little, hounded by too many things at once either to deal with adequately or to sweep aside. It was one of those nights when the playwright should not have been in the audience.

On nights when the playwright should not be in the audience he notices every missed line, every line bobbled so that it cannot recover, every laugh an actors gives at the end of a laugh-line that insures that the audience will not laugh, every random cross and fumble with a prop, every sing-song that indicates that the actor is not really present, engaged by memory but not by love or imagination.

On nights when the playwright should be in the audience he notices the brave, surprising choices that clearly entered the actor’s mind the instant they became manifest; the sudden tremolo in the voice that marks the complete inhabitation of the moment and the character; the bend of joy at the lips which, even in tragedy, shows that the actor is having a good time; the presence, the mass like a mountain shrunk to the shape of a man or a woman, which will not allow the eyes to turn away.

The house was sparse. A drunk women fell getting to her seat, late, and then had to be escorted loudly out by a man who then had to retrieve, loudly, his coat and take her home. The night before it was a man and woman kissing strenuously and lengthily in the stage right seats, inches from me. The night before it was K’s collapse. We’re taking bets on what it will be tonight. All was healed when we went out afterward and partied together at the Usual. I wondered what Beka thought, trapped amid loud and raucous strangers whom I loved.

Our first review appeared, Steve Samuels’ in The Mountain Xpress. It was well-reasoned, finely observed, and, though not uniformly, overwhelmingly positive. The relief I felt reading it indicated to me that I was more anxious about reviews than I expected to be. John S said at the cafĂ©, “You must be flying,”and I admitted I wasn’t actually flying, regardless of the success of the first two nights. I didn’t know why. It was anxiety about reaction to all the effort. This morning I am flying.

Link to the review:

Beka jogs around the lake. When she comes back, breakfast, and as much of them town as we can take in, in a few hours.
January 22, 2010

Dark of the morning. Opening last night was disappointing in terms of numbers in the audience, but joyful in every other way. The actors still polish, still discover; it’s a revelation to watch them. Many of my university colleagues were in the audience, something that had not happened before. Sweet, anyway. Maybe brought on by L’s active sense of collegiality. I found a spectacular flower arrangement, sort of Zen-like and sentimental at once, awaiting me. At least three reviewers were in attendance. This is simultaneously gratifying and nervous-making, as you perch in the dark scanning their faces for signs of disgust, ennui, jubilation. As a playwright I do spend my time swiveling from stage to audience, absorbing the actors’ skills, while trying to fathom what is going on in the audience members’ heads. What I saw was concentration, what I heard was laughter, now and then, and that was most well. Seven times to see The Beautiful Johanna through with an audience will be plenty. You get exhausted looking for perfection that will never quite come, which you perhaps have not written into the platform of possibilities. You become humbled by the debt you owe people who have worked so hard and so well to realize a dream that you cannot yourself fully define. People ask “Where did this come from” and I, honestly, have no answer. I don’t know. I sat down to write, and that is what came out, in a flood, swift and, to me, necessary.

One theater volunteer approached me earnestly and said, “You have a naked woman on stage. Why no naked men?” Her companion said, “Because he wrote it and not his wife.” Oh, yes.

I wore a shirt to the theater which, I noted from the dry cleaning tag, I had not worn in 11 years. That meant something. Don’t ask what.

We cannot possibly, I’m beginning to see, make our investment back. The numbers aren’t going to be there. I care a whole lot less than I would have expected. Everything but that is bonfires and golden bells.

The Beautiful Johanna

January 21, 2010

Dark before dawn. Seconds ago Circe was purring on my chest and I was coming out of a dream that made me laugh out loud.

If you call last night’s The Beautiful Johanna a dress-rehearsal, then perhaps it was a little troubling, because of the superstition about good dresses and bad openings. But if you call it a preview, as I shall, it was sensational. In one day the performance levels leapt up 100%. My actors were on fire. I thank them. I bless them. I forget to bless the tech people, for they are customarily perfect. The crowd was not quite capacity, but still large, a house I would have been proud of on any night of a run. This I resented slightly, for, its being a preview, the seats were free. I stopped myself from calculating the lost revenue in my head. The other side of it is that it was surely having an audience which helped set the performances on fire, the mere presence of them out there, known to us and expectant, the reason why all of this is done. Adam especially leapt up, reclaiming the experimental daring of Edward and Hamlet.

At curtain call there was a disturbance in the audience. K had collapsed. Someone said he was having a seizure. Trinity’s mother called 911 and I ran out into the street to flag down the ambulance (and the ladder truck, as it turned out). When we cam back in, K was conscious, but profoundly confused, saying “What happened. . . Somebody help me. . . I’m afraid. . . I’m afraid.” Even familiar faces didn’t seem to comfort him. The guess was that the event had something to do with the waves of chemotherapy he’s been going through, but all will unfold in the next few hours. We’d had a Facebook exchange on how he was going in for more treatments this week, but how he wanted to come to the play anyway.

The producer in me– whom I sort of hate–ponders whether an event like that will be good or bad for business. Good, I think, coloring with shame.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

January 20, 2010

Got tickets to Houston, and a hotel to stay in. My fond memories of that city have mostly to do with sex. Let’s see if there can be a chapter 2.

Load-in was easy, as Crawford had planned everything well and pared everything to a sharp tip of necessity. Had anxiety all day lest the set be ugly or unusable. Of course, it was neither, and I sighed relief laying eyes on the finished construction. But the set is properly somber and ruinous, and the cast took that cue to make their interpretation at rehearsal Monday night solemn and tragic. I thought I was watching Riders to the Sea. It was like sitting in the dark theater in Chicago again watching Bailiwick annihilate Anna Livia. But I figured when the band arrived things would liven, and they did, and last night some of the humor and crackle was back. Enough for two nights before opening. DiAnna surprised me by stripping down to. . . well, till she was a nude actor’s model, which she had not done before. She looks spectacular, so that’s a plus. I had warned nobody of “adult content.” The characters do cuss a blue streak, so I should have provided for that before. I can hear the talk now, about how I’m incapable of writing a play without naked people in it. Not true, but as a rumor, inextinguishable. At least one real Irishman, handsome, strong hand-shaking Vince, sits in the band, and I was dying to ask him what he thought, but afraid as well. He said he liked it, in that stiff, curt, un-interpretable Irish way, that might mean “God yes, and I’m too moved to speak right now” or “Don’t ask what you don’t want to know.”

Awash in doubt watching last night. Why did I write this? Having written it, why didn’t I keep it to myself? Why did I go to the trouble and expense of getting it onto the stage? Do all these attractive young people not have something better to do with their time? They’ve learned my lines, suffered my critiques–is it bringing them joy? What if I finally get what I’ve always wanted, sizeable local houses, and it’s dull or awful or disappointing in some significant way? Sitting in the dark bleachers, realizing I could no longer make intelligent or useful judgments about my own production, I felt like giving up the theater altogether. I don’t feel unlike that now, but the edge is off, me drinking my morning diet Pepsi and listening to Palestrina.

Poetry class. What I’ve noticed these last twenty plus years is that students produce fantastical interpretations of poems because they don’t pay attention to the words on the page. They assume every poem to be a sort of allegory, that the words do not indicate themselves but rather point to an exterior reality that one is invited to guess at. Rather than a rapture or a lamentation, the poem is a sort of code. We did “Adam Lay y-bounden,” and one brave girl said it was about Eve, and how Adam was destroyed by being married to her. “Where do you see the word ‘Eve’ in this poem?” says I. She being shot down, everyone else clammed up. I will begin Thursday with a discourse on words-on-the-page.

I do not do well with three people talking at me at once. Not cut out to be a producer. Or in charge of anything. Exhaustion last night so that I could barely make a decision, barely listen to anybody.

Why, when given a note, do actors spend a full three minutes explaining why they did the wrong thing?

Bruce and Jack call to get me on board with their new plans for Leslie Jordan. It seems to me better than the old plan, but it also, inevitably, delays The Loves of Mr. Lincoln. They seem rapturous about the play, but if it is that sure-fire, why not move on it immediately?

DJ’s bathroom blasted to pieces by Matthew the Handyman. Of course, more damage was found when he got under the tile, so, of course, it will be a bigger job than anticipated. I take a deep breath and repeat the mantra-of-the-last-twelve-months, “OK, whatever’s necessary.”
January 18, 2010

Tossing and thrashing about the house in the midst of, for me, a rare emotion: anxiety. I helped load-in the set this morning, though from the pieces I couldn’t get a sense of how it will look set up and ready. This means that before arriving at the theater tonight I’ll be worried that the set might look like crap, or be unusable, and if it does, or is, what to do about it. What if the actors still don’t know their lines? What if there is some stunning expense nobody anticipated? I’ll be sick with what if’s until 7 o’clock tonight. And then on Tuesday we add the band. . . and then on Thursday we see if we have sold any tickets. . . . I swear to God I will never do this again.

Jack and Bruce want a conference call tomorrow afternoon, about The Loves of Mr Lincoln, I suppose. Expect the worst and be relieved if it’s not, is my motto. But that adds to the anxiety.

Sweet, blue-eyed day nevertheless. Dreamed of a flying woman who was either Ellen or Sigourney Weaver. Dreamed that I was arriving at an airport with plenty of time to catch my flight. The parking lot was at the edge of the most beautiful, flowery marsh.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

January 17, 2010

Lazy Sunday, of which I’m taking full advantage before the onslaught of the coming week.

The concept of the opening night reception devolved from a $3000 catered affair to a cast-hosted wine reception in plastic cups, which I convinced myself was actually nearer to the spirit of the play. Tried to get the wine at the Wine Guy, but couldn’t get myself waited on– one of those chatterbox pseudo-oenophile suburbanites was ahead of me–so ended up buying cases at the grocery store, the world itself conspiring to make it as cheap as possible.

DJ and I saw the one-man show, Runt of the Litter ,by Bo Eason at the Wortham last night. The script was good–often unexpectedly subtle–and the performance was charistmatic. That an athlete should make a good actor is as natural as a dancer’s doing so, as they almost always do. I have never seen a bad sports play. Drinks at The New French Bar afterward. The drinks were annihilatingly strong (I’m still recovering) and the company was unlike anything I’d seen before–or at least more condensed than I had seen before: fairy-folk, I think they would say, fantastically dressed, kissy and huggy, the distinctions between genders deliberately blurred. One of them was smoking a stick with a green light at the end. From each puff they exhaled water vapor. It is a device to help you quit smoking, but one might use it for its charm alone.

Several patrons left when Eason began using “bad language” of the type one would encounter in a pro football locker room. I despise people who judge other people’s language, who think they are entitled to go through life hearing only what they want to hear. Why do people that ignorant go to the theater at all, knowing that it exists to prod both ignorance and expectation?

Met Thin Matthew at Home Depot to pick out tiles for DJ’s bathroom. We talked more about his wife’s upcoming ultrasound.

At church this morning something happened that I’d missed for a sadly long time. I guess you could call it emotional engagement, or you could call it worship. It came about because the antiphon of the psalm was the tune of an old camp song, “Lord I want to be a Christian in my heart.” When I recognized it, it went like an arrow to my soul, and I remembered a time when I was not resentful and angry and ambitious and bitterly Jesuitical all the time. For a moment I remembered what I love, what I desire, what where I rest for real, and the years and the sorrows rolled off of me.
January 15, 2010

Encouraging rehearsal last night. Casey’s monologue is spectacular. Still, calling for lines appropriate to two weeks ago.

The grip of the North seems to be relaxed a little. One can endure to go abroad.

Relief of a productive, informative conversation with C the Tech Czar at NC Stage. I had no idea what was going on, for the most part, but Chris was there to absorb the tech-talk. Bought tickets for a show at the Wortham tomorrow night, the novelty of going to the theater as a member of the audience.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

January 14, 2010

All is right at Wordsmyth Theater, and I’ll apparently be starting my spring break in Houston.

Thin Matthew sets up motion-sensor lights and finds a way to resurrect DJ’s bathroom. While he was peering down at me from his great height, I contemplated how different our two worlds must be, if only regarding visual perspective.

Cast and crew gathered at the Usual last night, looking attractive and mirthful. I was proud of providing the occasion for the gathering, proud to have them united upon my work. I am aware of the honor one is paid when people gather together to help realize a dream that, otherwise, would be silent, private, and die with the dreamer's death. I felt a little like a papa walking in on a gathering of his children and their friends, not knowing whether he should stay and enjoy them or to scamper away. I scampered, partially to be with J on out last night together. He was on the phone till I gave up and went to bed, so that was a miscalculation

J found an apartment in Johnson City and is moving today. I don't like it.
January 13, 2010

Yesterday a bundle of mini-disasters which, related later, seem merely petty. Petty is bad enough.

Wordsmyth Theater in Houston wants to do a reading of Bronzino’s Gaze. I love that play and want them to do it, but the one date I can go there without missing class is the one date already claimed by someone else. We’re negotiating.

Rehearsal last night: gruesome. The director is heading the right direction and actors are excellent, but they have not learned the parts, and it’s difficult to know how to explain that. I’ll try to push explanations away and make no judgment until the curtain opens. An actor thinks the correct “feel” of a scene is a good start; a playwright thinks the words must be right or all is lost. I have been both, but, strangely, that not much comfort. This is another proof that the playwright should remain far away from the production until opening night. And then come in only in time for the applause.

Wednesday, normally a day of re-grouping, dissolves in errands. I’m doing exactly those theater jobs which are least to my taste, securing props, fussing over details, dealing with personalities at the host theater, trying to guess what will tempt various media into a notice or a review, wondering if a reception is necessary or too much bother. I’m not a detail person. When details become my provenance, I enter a phase of dark energy that I wouldn’t like to be around, if I were someone else.

Not enough time to spend with J, and him under my roof. Rented him a U-haul to move his studio from his lost home to his studio in Tennessee. Odd and surprsing realization than one person can do very little, really, to help another, other than blindly to fire the battery of love and hope it hits the mark. Lousy image, but--

Haiti shaken to pieces in an earthquake. If anywhere has a right to complain about bad treatment from the universe--
January 12, 2010

Radio interview yesterday for Johanna. So far almost no confirmation that anybody heard it. I was so exhausted last night that J’s temptation to watch sit-coms on the computer could not, finally, be passed up. I became more and more like stone until I staggered into bed, during a phone call in which D accused J of having an affair with a dying girl. . . or something. I would have thought separation would defuse rancor, but clearly I was wrong.

Parting for class yesterday evening, I paused on the walk on watch a mole–a surprisingly large mole–rustle through the leaves. He was dark silver, quite beautiful, quite endearing moving forward on his tiny feet. I worried that he couldn’t make a hole in the frozen ground, and thought about getting a shovel and making him one, though I doubt he would take the gesture as it was intended. But he must have been somewhere before he was out, so perhaps he was just foraging. He actually scampered across the top of my shoe. The sensation was funny and thrilling. He lost himself in some leaves and the yard went quiet.

First playwriting class. I have no idea whom I’m talking to, or what they need to hear, so I try to be generally inspirational.

J in search of housing in Johnson City, and a job. Prospects seem good all around. I smile when I enter the house and it is not empty. It has been so many years since I have had overnight company–for more than one night–that I feel the ache of old social muscles coming again into use.

Monday, January 11, 2010

January 10, 2010

Some preparation of classes yesterday, some typing on the Symposium. Much hanging out with Jason. Much resenting the bitter and imperishable cold. We spent yesterday evening sharing favorite songs online. “So, the greatest rock performance by a woman”. . ., “the creepiest cover:. . . , “. . . “The first song that made you cry. . . "

A theme of my youth was longing for the sound of favorite songs, and fear that I would forget them and lose the beauty of a moment. One had to wait to hear them randomly on the radio. Actually going out and buying the records was never a live option in our house. In any case, the internet redresses all that. There wasn’t a song we wanted to hear that was not available. This still is wonderful to me. I notice a difference between us in this, that I take to be generational. I like songs because I liked them for themselves, or very occasionally because of some exterior association. Jason, and most of my students, use music as a soundtrack, as a marker of their lives. They listen not to a tune, but relive a moment aurally. Part of this is because they do not step out of bed without earphones in their ears, and are thus perpetually immersed. Most of the soundtrack of my life would be silence, or the ambient sounds of the world around me.

J now combing Craig’s List for jobs in Johnson City. I want to play, but he is hard at work, so I slink away and type.
January 9, 2010

J lies asleep on my couch, his ration of cats curled against his ribs.
January 8, 2010

Blistering, irritating cold. Each time I ventured out I scuttled back at the end of the journey shivering and irritable.

Following up on a promise I made to Brian Hook last semester, I’m adapting Plato’s Symposium for the stage. One thing I didn’t remember from earlier readings is how droll Plato is. The dialogues are much livelier–and much more like a gossip column– than you’d think hearing the philosophers talk about them.

Did final proofs on Short Plays to Long Remember. I say “final,” not knowing how much of the apparently endless mechanics of publication is still before us. Printing details are like stage tech to me, grumpy-making addenda that I feel I shouldn’t have to bother with after the initial effort of creating the piece in the first place. But, bother one must. I am a terrible proofreader. My eyes glaze, the letters swim on the page. I whimper.

Have found the internet radio station that plays nothing but Renaissance music, and am in bliss.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

January 6, 2010


Rehearsals had to flee my freezing studio, and took refuge in the Asheville Arts Center. It is warm and otherwise commodius, except for the din overhead, near constant and elephantine, of trampling, stampeding children. DiAnna sounds eerily like Ellen, in her voice quality, the way she reads her lines, even her take on the Irish accent. All my actors are choice, and I delight in watching them, though I fear my presence might be a compromise to the director’s authority, so I’m pulling back from that a little. In Casey, Adam has found an actor equal to him, and it’s beautiful to watch. Trinity was perfect from the first. The actors laugh at their lines, still, which is a good sign. I listen to the dialogue for flaws, and shiver with relief when a line, a page passes without one.

Dream last night that I was invited to a banquet at a home of a super rich family in New York. Turned out that everything as tawdry, vulgar, disappointing, all images of a class ripe for the fall. I went out onto the street and hung out with construction workers, and then I was happy. I think this comes of reading Gossip Girl on the cross-trainer.

Sent out the summary and first ten pages of a play, I Should Warn You I Have a Gun in My Bag, that I had not finished. The theater (in Savannah) called almost instantly for the full script, so I have been working steadily that last two mornings to finish the last, problematic, scene.

Attended the Epiphany service at All Souls, very sweet and innocent– exactly what the Christmas Eve service would have been back home, with the Nativity story read in halting juvenile voices and children dressed as angels and shepherds, and on all fours as very impatient sheep. Afterwards came the “burning of the greens,” a Christmas tree and a wreath set alight in a garbage can on the lawn. The burning of the greens, at least, was an image out of deep time, and the night was rolled back, and spring brought forward, as by one tugging on a carpet of flowers.
January 4, 2010

Disturbing dream: I was a very old man, and I was supposed to have died. I actually felt consciousness leaving me in the dream, and the light going out. But then I revived, and began to do energetic deeds and get into mischief. I thought the deeds were proof that I was alive again, but the people around me took it as some last spasm before death, and stood around with the grave cloths, figuratively, in their hands.

First Beautiful Johanna rehearsal at the studio. It was beastly cold. Besides that, I have–as I have noted with shame on several occasions–an aversion to people at large in my personal space, and the rearranging and manhandling that accrued from the rehearsal disturbed me acutely. I will go back in the morning and set everything right. The important things– the characterizations and the master of the lines– were quite good, quite satisfying. Drew was there, snapping photos. Jolene made sure the heaters were on. People are more willing to do things for me than I am willing to ask it of them.
January 3, 2010

Chris L set up a tour of the new theater on Church Street, the Altamont. The vision for the building is exquisite, and their plans for first-class musical theater in Asheville seem like they should work, though whether they will, who knows?. The people are energetic and attractive, and deserve to succeed. They have been systematic and attentive. Everything hangs in the balance, so that this does as well should not be too daunting.

Absurd cold continues.

Strange energy infuses me, alternating with a periodic irresistible collapse of exhaustion. It feels right to live this way, all peaks and valleys. Or, like my cats, vibrantly alive or sound asleep.
January 2, 2010

Ungodly cold.

Bought DJ a new heater.

Venetian coronation anthems on the CD.

Cannot stop sleeping.

Friday, January 1, 2010


January 1, 2010

Morning yet too dark to tell the nature of it, though I think cloud and vapors.

J and I had coffee at a new place on Haywood Road, and then helped a women and a man hoist a couch up onto a second floor balcony and into second floor of the house that way, the stairs being impossible. Layers of anxiety fell off by just being back in touch. I had made up all the sorrowful parts of the story.

The second party last night was a costume party. When a certain group of my friends talk about a costume party, what they mean is a drag party, fathoms deep in the adjusting of false breasts, the re-application of lipsticks, and the hilarity associated with girdles and garters and cross-gender prostheses. DJ says that it is just people acting crazy and I’m not taking it in the right spirit. I accept that. I am a grump refusing to get into the spirit of the moment. Nevertheless, I fled, and spent the last moments of the year on my lawn, bathed in shivering moonlight.

The color of this year is green.

The second color of this year is silver.

My resolutions are mostly secret, but the public ones include the distancing of myself from the vices of patience, prudence, moderation.
December 31, 2009

Tavern on the Green is closing without my ever having eaten there.

Night. The blue moon is sometimes obscured, sometimes dazzling in a scallop of cloud. Just returned from Waynesville, where I attended the HART New Years party, a crowded, jostling, happy, warm affair. Steve had prepared video montages of the year’s productions, very entertaining and professional. I see now better how he has been able to succeed in what would have thought an unpromising situation. He has made of everyone a family, concerned about every aspect and character of every production. I was in Proof and Hamlet, each time playing, curiously, the dead father. When my image came on screen I heard a murmur around me, “Ah, David,” with a tone of familiarity and affection I did not expect and am not used to. Now I have to cobble together some sort of costume and hit the second party of the night. I think I would rather sit here and watch the moon traverse my windows, east to west through the long last night.
December 30, 2009

Woke with a firm conviction of the layers of consciousness that struggle for rule of the mind. Woke saddened by and utterly convinced of the fact that I had been turned down for tenure, and that in a week or so I was beginning a new career at Johns Hopkins, uncertain and confidence-shaken. I was deep into consciousness before I reasoned myself out of it. No such thing had happened, though somewhere in the layers of the mind, it was an experience and not a dream. The same is evidenced by my recurring dream of finding a new graduate school after flunking out of the old one. Some conviction of failure runs deeper than the fact, in these cases, of success. I know why people talk about parallel universes: I know the feeling of a dream, and these moments did not feel like that. I also wondered if there are things I am a soaring success at in my parallel lives –perhaps love–that is a bust here. It was a gleam of insight, as well, on how I live my life. I think I expect to crash and burn with everything important. Why do I live in this house? Because I think I got away with something in buying it, and don’t expect that the universe will let me have another go. Why did I never leave the university for farther fields? Because, as the dream suggests, I never quite expected to succeed even once, and twice seemed to be a temptation to the gods.

Ancient hurdy-gurdy on the radio, such peace, immense, if momentary.

Looked back through the journals of the past decade. One thing to note: I am happier now. By far.