Sunday, January 30, 2011

January 29, 2011

Green spears of iris poking through the thawed ground. Radiant day, most of which I spent either in the studio painting or on my bed napping with the cats. Tharmas rules. I did write fairly in the dark of this morning, a long poem, but that seems so long ago now as to be part of another day.

“Wait” is worse than “no.”

Was going to the opera Brundibar, but my tickets turn out to have been for the matinee. I noticed just as it must have been letting out.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

January 28, 2011

Drove to Mars Hill after class to chat with BG about the Vance play. His counsel was to ignore premature advice and amateur direction, which I had already been doing. Snow on the mountains northward.

TD does my star chart online. The narrative could not possibly have been more wrong. It was as if someone had observed me and then written an astrological narrative for the person who was most nearly opposite. But maybe I have been living somebody else’s life. That would explain a lot . . . .

Friday, January 28, 2011

January 27, 2011

Marin Marais on the CD. I used to play this CD over and over again, the Follies of Spain.

Something “clicked” today and I was officially back on campus, in spirit as well as body. Did it really take me this long to come back from sabbatical? My classes were delightful, and I’m willing to believe it was my change in perception rather than theirs in behavior. I’ve been grumpy. I thought it was more serious than that. Informal department gathering at Brew & View– I think that helped. Devoured a spinach salad so immense that consuming it gave me a sense of accomplishment.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

January 25, 2011

Drove through the snow yesterday to the Y, then walked to school and back. I felt, and feel, terrific. Let this be a lesson to me.

Crappy Humanities lecture. When there’s a crappy lecture you have to spend at least a while undoing damage, or at the least proving that things need not be so boring as they seem to be. Students come to a class, in which we engage in textual analysis, without books. I feel a blast of rage welling to the surface, quell it, merely go on with the class. I’m sure they couldn’t buy books because they’re paying for their grandmother’s chemo, or lost them saving babies from a fire.

Monday, January 24, 2011

January 23, 2011

Filled the birdbath for the crows, whom I had seen pecking futilely at the ice moments before. The water froze over almost instantly.

DJ and I went to the Magnetic Theater to see the second installment of When Jekyll met Hyde. Had excellent pulled pork in the cafĂ© while we waited. I think I should not have gone the second time, for the B version, though no worse than the standard Asheville dramatic fare, was no better, and I could have kept a memory of something scintillant. Trying to analyze what went wrong, I think it came down to a single actor who threw the balance and coherence of everything off, and not innocently. He has established a figure locally, and he played to that figure rather than to the script, or to his fellow actors. As a playwright I hate the idea that one person can demolish an evening’s theater, but he can. I witnessed it with the production of my Anna Livia in Chicago. Actors were shaky last night who have been solid in everything else I have seen them in. What do to? Soldier on, as I’m sure they shall. Nevertheless, the performance on Thursday night made me rethink my convictions about Ludlum and camp on stage. I still think Ludlum was exhausting, but his disciples, such as SS, might yet adapt his principles into a coherent and brilliant method of satire.

Picked up the Citizen Times for the first time in a year, and read that Judge B is retiring from the court-- for medical reasons, the paper said, but one wonders. By public account she was a bad judge, and I know her to have taken ruthlessness to a level that no one associated with justice–however loosely defined–should have. My astonishment that she was never disbarred diminished through the years, as I learned the ways of the world. Vain, and self-delighted as a teenage boy, she was just smart enough to know how to manipulate the law, and just shady enough to need to. She was one of several exhibits that taught me how different prisons would look if their occupants were chosen on the basis of actual harm done. She may have been the most malevolent individual I ever knew personally. And, she had the power to do real harm. Do I wish her health and long life? I do not. But the justice of the Lord is unlike hers, and if she is meant to have them, health and long life, she will, despite my remembrance.

Maud has taken to digging herself a cave in my T-shirt drawer, where she is visible sometimes only by a paw or the pink tip of a nose.

Sunday work-out at the Y among young gods. I have to remember this.

Treva asks me on Facebook “Do you paint?” I say yes I do, though I never did back in high school. As I’m typing I realize I should add, “It was too hard to keep secret.”

Sunday, January 23, 2011

January 22, 2011

At this hour, the windows of one house on Sunset Mountains blaze into my windows unbearable golden brilliance from the setting sun.

Lectured on Blake’s cosmology to two classes last week, and had to smile at the recognition of its truth in my own life. I cannot be awake long, cannot go about my activities long, without being engaged in spiritual war, all my armies arrayed on the horizon. Therefore almost every spare moment is spent in sleep, the rule of Tharmas, at once escaping from battle and strengthening myself for it.

Bought a floor lamp from an antiques store on Broadway. The owner tried to guess where I was from. He didn’t believe it was here, or, more distantly, Ohio. I told him I visited England often and that seemed to him nearer to the truth. That I am a resident of his town was too outrageous to believe. I have been in his store twenty times. Must have made no impression heretofore.

Tom and I were talking a little too long about things he didn’t know this morning at Starbucks, so Jack turned to me and said, “Do you have any children?” He has three strong sons, if I remember rightly. It leveled the field immediately. No, it put him on the high ground.
On the Lord’s Acting in His Own Time

The Lord’s acting in his own time–
the grinding stones worn fine and flat
the journey spun out inch by mile--
Believe me, we will not have that.

Slouch when you are told to straighten up.
Publish the numbers to all the locks.
Bring a sieve when you need a cup..
Keep silence in the witness box.

Only then will the Lord will deliver you.
Believe me, someone will be sent,
hurrying, his white skirts gathered,
redeeming, revising, before he meant.

Friday, January 21, 2011

January 20, 2011

Flamingo dawn.

The department went slightly astray in the time I was gone. I sense tensions and incipient feuds the likes of which never took shape in times past. Maybe it will blow away. The whole university is tense, and trying to address the tension through a fever of micro-managing which cannot but make things exponentially worse.

The show at Avenue M looks good. Not overwhelming as I feared it would be when the pieces were all bunched together. Some hung disadvantageously, some hung very well indeed. Terry seems very pleased, and she was the one to please this time. I even managed not to look at them the whole time we were there drinking.

I asked my class to describe people the knew who were like Shelley, and one student says, “You are the most Shelleyian person I’ve ever met.” I suppose so, except that I have lived too long. Have enjoyed my classes, except that they are enormous, room-filling, will-never-learn-the names monsters, and I am annihilated at the end of the day. Everyone excuses my lethergy by saying “It’s hard coming back.”

Evening: Theater at Magnetic Fields, SS’s adaptation of Jekyll and Hyde. I’m to see it again Saturday night-- it exists in two versions– before I write a review for MNTN X. My heart sank in the first five minutes, moaning, “Oh, no.” It’s camp and I hate camp. It employs that Ludlum-inspired wink-wink-nudge-nudge over-acting that is antithetical to my convictions about theater. Five minutes later I was wondering if it were perhaps brilliant. By the blackout I was certain it was blazingly, jaw-droppingly brilliant, in some ways the best thing I’ve seen in Asheville, and if I were going to write about it I’d need the two days to find a fit vocabulary. Met A and T’s son Zach for the first time since he was a toddler. Friendly and fresh and open, he was the best imaginable company.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

January 18, 2011

Up much too early, the darkness stretching and stretching and no sign of change in the east. Yesterday was awful, though its awfulness kept getting altered by my running into people who were having worse days than I. One of my downstairs studio mates was in the office by the elevator while I was hauling paintings down. I said breezily, “How are things going?” She responded, “Not so well. . . I’m unemployed, broke, and about to be homeless.” Visited Marco in his new space on Short Coxe (unending fun out of that) to discover that he was still paying off $78,000 in credit card debt that a former girlfriend (my sometimes cat-sitter) had rung up, and for which he had taken noble and quixotic responsibility; that he had been paying for school for his next girlfriend for several years while she was unemployed; that they too had split up, and she had gotten the house he had spent time and money getting into shape, that he was building a house when his jackass employer–the guy who runs Frugal Framer, may it speedily decline–fired him for dating a women in whom he had himself once had interest. On top of that, he insisted on paying for the coffee. I maintain that my woes are comparable, but, I must admit, a whole lot less immediate.

Marco looks terrific, though. I wonder if he enters that on the plus side.

Alex was sitting upstairs in the studio with his wife and baby, Ella. When Ella laughed, everybody else laughed too. It was beautiful.

Drank at Avenue M in celebration of Kyle’s birthday. My paintings were not yet hung, but they were arrayed against the wall in the lounge area, and attracting favorable comment. That made me happy. Even sold one, a still life of apples, to Leland. A six year old boy with the most soulful eyes found a swordfish in one of the abstracts. When I looked, lo and behold, there was in fact a swordfish, self-begotten out of the miasma of imagination.

Re-read “Queen Mab” for class today. It is still a dangerous book. Terrifying. If there were fewer fairies and less gauze, it might be the universal guide to revolution.

Monday, January 17, 2011

January 16, 2011

Woke from an intricate and profound dream. Five or six of us were part of a “life circle,” which means we had been friends all our lives and probably would be all our lives. I had a wife, and she and her sister were part of it. The others are now unclear. One seems to have been a woman I cheated on my wife with once. In part of the dream we lived our lives; in part of it we came together in a circle and learned how our lives had changed because our attitudes toward one another had changed. We had real effect on one another’s beings, and though that seems horrifying, we always understood and accepted the changes as part of an evolving and corporate reality. My wife had cancer. I don’t suppose we “gave” it to her, but the first time she knew she had it was when we revealed it as a next step. Once it was presented, she had to decide how to deal with it. There were sparring and conflicts and very hard blows, but somehow we never thought of them as being unfair, merely, at worst, unforeseen. In the last scene I woke, rose out of bed, and saw that the bed had been shitten from head to foot, a mass of putrid corruption. I peeled off the shitty layers, and for a while it got worse, and then it started to get better. And then I woke. Believe me, I lifted the actual comforter and looked. I thought, in the last second of the dream, “they have kept this from me.”

First classes on Thursday. I enjoyed them, especially the Shelley seminar, where the students are smart enough to be the class you dreamed all classes might be when you first entered the business.

Budget cuts have severely narrowed options, so you have students clamoring for entry into closed classes. I don’t care about class size, and almost always approve the override. But it’s amusing to hear the pleading and excuse-making. One lad writes about how badly he wants in to Romantic to Modern, ending the plaint by apologizing for his bad performance in the last class we had together. Though I remember the student, I have no recollection of the bad performance whatever. I hope God is like me in that regard.

Saw A Life in the Theater at HART. Places like that, actors like that, is where theater lives. It is not a question of quality, but of heart.

Bruce Harris I-mailed me (by accident, it turns out), the upshot of which conversation was that I bought a share in the London production of My Trip Down the Pink Carpet. Part of the moment was internalizing the difference between five thousand dollars and five thousand pounds. It was worth it for the embarrassment it gave JB at not having responded to my heartfelt New Years missive concerning The Loves of Mr Lincoln. Who knows how all this will turn out? All I know is that everything takes altogether too long.

Got to the studio and prepared the show for Avenue M, which I am going to call, in my heart anyway, “The Emerald City.” Talked with David Mc. The progress of our friendship keeps getting interrupted, but I felt it was on track yesterday, during a discussion of whether a shape in one of my paintings needed a shadow, or didn’t. It did. Marco phoned while I was there with a whole plateful of bad news. He got fired from his job; his mortgage and his new business are in peril, and could we get together and discuss it all? I don’t suppose either of us was blind to the fact that I haven’t seen him socially in three years, that we never get together but that he is hurrying the moment along so he can get back to things that matter. It was certainly rumbling like a tank over the landscape of my mind. But I also know what friendship is, so I said simply, “yes.” I love him. I wondered why. He never gives back, or if he does it’s with an abject apology for ignoring one, which one takes to be sincere the first fifteen or sixteen times, but not, until now, a gesture to end the exile from his affections. I never doubted that work was important to him, but now the dynamic between work and friendship has come out exactly the way one expected it would and, if I were less steadfast, or perhaps less pathetic, he would be doubly undone. I wanted to lament that I don’t have anyone like that in my life, anyone who stands by me in disaster despite the flaws in my character, but maybe it’s because I don’t put anyone to the test. My disasters have been as secret as I could make them.

Learning to live my life after the great St Stephen’s Day secularization. It is well, actually. Circumstances have not changed, but the disgust of mismanagement is easier to endure than the sorrow of betrayal.

Look out over the interrupted plain of snow that is my yard, longing for spring, so I can see the flower of all my planting.

Went to Beaucatcher to see Tron last night. When I went into the men’s room, a man was making a drug deal on his cell phone. He shrugged and put on an expression that said, “I’m sorry you have to hear this.” The man who sold me popcorn was in such a state of emotional upheaval that he could barely say the words “butter on that?” or “anything to drink?”

Stories that the snow tells: Someone came through the yard from Carolyn’s side, and walked to my back door. Then they walked away from the door, and poured something onto the snow that caused it to melt, and left a few splash marks down the sides of the terrace. Several feet away, the one place where the snow is cleared is the space that’s shaded and protected by the boughs of the spruce. That is counter-intuitive, unless the tree generates heat of its own.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

January 13, 2011

Gave myself extreme turbulence yesterday. Most of it I don’t want to speak or think of, for there was a succession of those moments out of which no good can come. My own fury worries me, because I see even in the heat of it that it is disproportionate and violent, and I don’t care. But there was some humor too. I’d paid money (on TD’s advice) to a group called to get me in touch with possible outlets for Pillar of Fire. I thought I’d receive a list of addresses of agents and producers, but what happened was a mass mailing of my log line to about a thousand addresses, apparently randomly, for what my mailbox was filled with, mostly, was variations on “Go fuck yourself,” or bemused address corrections, with some actual interest sprinkled in. Enough to have made it, finally, worthwhile. Those emphatically not interested emphasized that they had not read the log line (so as not to be accused of theft later on, I guess), and those interested had, so I suppose that it a feebly bright indication. In the midst of research discovered just how many scam artists are poised to pick on actual artists. One apparently notorious one (not so notorious as to have prevented me from contacting them) cheerfully accepts scripts after they have had “coverage,”– that is to say a “professional” critique– which they themselves provide for a fee. They are honest about it, in a Iago-like way, as though announcing your villainy were somehow to mitigate it. What strikes me is how modest the scam is– they ask very little money, really–but maybe there are other charges down the line, and one pays rather than to entertain the thought that one had been had. Also, my Final Draft program was faulty, and though the support people were patient and professional, I was in such high rage that I couldn’t believe the things I was saying–luckily not to them, but to the air. As I said above, my own capacity for irrational volcanics is surprising, but also, thank God, up to this point, quite private. But the names I have called God in the midst of them should not be mentioned.

If the Internet can be believed, our weather vacation is over and it’s back to school today. I’ve had about as much rest and quiet as I can stand.
January 12, 2011

Howl of wind outside. Our gentle snowfall has become an angry one; the weather changes but does not improve. I tried to remember the last time I’d walked barefoot in the snow, and couldn’t, so I did again. It was bracing and uncomfortable, but I have to report that now, half an hour later, my feet feel WONDERFUL, as if massaged by cool hands. While it’s still dark I should roll around naked in it to see if it has the same effect.

(Here is omitted a lamentation so gloomy and ferocious I'll just keep it in my journal and hope never to read it again)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

January 11, 2011

Disorienting to have school cancelled again today, though I suppose the streets are as bad as they were yesterday. I had girded my loins, which now must be temporarily ungirded.

Elegant prints of a fox in the snow outside my back door.
January 10, 2011

Softly glowing world, the lying snow and the falling snow lit by the city lights into a pastel radiance.

Monday, January 10, 2011

January 9, 2011

Dream before morning of completing quite wonderful art projects in the old studio at the Candle Station. Felt full of creative energy, as I do now. I was working in a group of others who were known to me in the dream. Elaborate, formal dreams of late, with a stately organization almost recognizable to the waking mind.

Westboro Baptist has its public say about the shootings in Arizona. These lunatics are the creation of the media, and the media is responsible for their existence. No coverage, no demagoguery. Westboro Baptist has no legitimate voice in the dialogue. To think otherwise is the imbecile’s version of even-handed journalism. The local media used to do the same thing, interview the bigot and blasphemer Ralph Sexton every time a gay issue came up. It’s like insisting on a Nazi commentary at every Bar Mitzvah.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

January 8, 2011

Sound out on the dark, snowy street which I take to be a plow.

Now that my sabbatical is within two days of being at an end, time to record what I have done since May: 4 novels (2 from scratch), 5 short stories, two full-length plays and five one-acts, a screenplay, twelve or more good poems.



Vadim Bora is dead. You never expect to be without some people, even if you hardly ever see them. They were part of the landscape.

Poor Steve and Casey, their beautiful show shut down by snow!

The woodpeckers have found the baskets of suet. My pair of towhees glean with their bright feathers fluffed over the snow.

The snow that was pristine on the front porch this morning is now pocked and dented by the feet of birds til it looks like fine white leather.

Bitter argument with the people at Barclay Cards, in the middle of which I realized I was, mostly, in the wrong. What do you do in such a situation? Put a note of haughty resignation in your voice, as though you were merely retreating from a conversation with idiots. There are some jobs I wouldn’t have, because of people like me . . . .

Quiet day, weather and the murderous reaction of Southern drivers to it turning one in on oneself. I have mostly slept. My capacity for sleep is astounding, disturbing, as though I were in training for the Long Sleep ending all. It’s a sort of hibernation, to bridge the times of happy activity. What if we were cats and all that was not pounce and leap and dance were sleep? Victoria on the CD. Deep black wind against the window.
January 7, 2011

Dusting of snow at morning. You never know what readjustments this will require, what with things closing and things delayed.

School schedule a disaster, classes dealt at random hours that prevent blocks of time from gathering for writing or other projects. I suppose this is OK, considering the greedy abundance I have had for the past few months.

Have been living in action and had little time for reflection, so journal writing will be at an ebb for a while.

Concerning the commission: shall I make Vance behave and speak like a contemporary person? Of course. Will this irritate significant portions of the audience, who will have come to see a sort of historical diorama? Of course. You want to cite what Shakespeare did with his historical characters, but that puts you and Shakespeare in the same sentence, and eyebrows arch over that.

Friday, January 7, 2011

January 6, 2011


Drinks at Avenue M after choir last night. It was good company, but I was so exhausted that I could scarcely keep in the conversation. I rise at 4 in the morning, write, then work out, then when things open up start doing errands, then nap, and by I have forgotten that I had pretty much a whole day before breakfast. I don’t know what this will look like Monday when school starts. Try to alter it as little as possible, as it is working for me.

Uploaded Pillar of Fire to online script sites, sent it to a couple of agents who already said “yes, send.” Wouldn’t it be nice is something were easy once?

Perfect orange crescent of moon low in the west at morning.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

January 5, 2011

Nine calls on my land line in two days. Eight of them are solicitations.

Watched on line the video which got the captain of the USS Enterprise fired. I have to say I found it almost unbelievable that such a thing would be noticed, much less vilified. Why waste the energy? I thought it was funny, sometimes, and no raunchier than one would expect from a bunch of sailors. What I find disturbing is that, in this terrible world, THAT would be the cause of furor. Every now and then I think I should dedicate myself to some cause, and as often as anything else I think that cause should be getting people over the notion that they have the right to be offended. On this planet only Glenn Close has any rights in this matter, as she seems to have appeared in the video under false pretenses. Everyone else is grandstanding, posing, or at best setting their borders a little too far out into the common ground. We must remind ourselves of the absolute difference between giving offense and taking it, and taking it when it was not intended is all one’s own affair.
January 4, 2011

I got to the Y yesterday before dawn, and the Venus glimmered above the east in rare majesty. Under her was the first line of gold that would be the day. I think of that now, for it is still earlier this day, and Venus rides high, and I think that today may be as brilliant as yesterday.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

January 3, 2011

Lunch with Michael, Owen, Casey at the Brew & View, loud, laughing, talking music and theater. I was happy. I kept hatching plots that would require us to meet again, anywhere. It was well our company was merry, for otherwise I would have been sad: JS walked past me into the theater without turning his head to the left or to the right. I could bear not hearing from him, assuming he was sunk in his life in Johnson City, but that is clearly not the case. The vow was that we would be friends forever. Right.

I thought I should take down the Christmas tree, but my heart rebelled, and like a kid I pleaded with myself for just one more day.

Monday, January 3, 2011

January 2, 2011

Finished Pillar of Fire, my first second-wave screenplay. I know there will have to be a second draft, because the typos are so abundant as to indicate demonic possession of the keyboard.

Coffee with Sam, during which I commissioned a TTBB piece. How full he is of taste and inspiration and enthusiasm! Maybe we will find each other congenial collaborators. He reminds me of myself in my salad days, when no project was beyond my scope and no abundance wore me thin. It’s the same today, actually, though I speak of it with much greater circumspection. It always seem to me there’s more to know about music than there is about writing, more technicalities, more rules, though perhaps that’s because my understanding of writing is intuitive.

Made the rounds of my newly planted trees, and all of them sport buds, even the rootless laburnum.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

January 1, 2011

Quiet supper with friends at Kyle’s house last night. This morning I rose and worked on my film. Then went outside and transplanted the beautiful sun-colored vine from where it was to where it should be, by the north fence, now given to the light by the cutting of the hemlocks. Then I put away the spade and went for coffee, where I confided to Matthew the Barista that my resolution was to be even more bad-ass this year than in years before. We decided that I should wear an eye patch when I return to school. Walked through north Asheville before anybody else was awake. When I was heading for home it began to rain, and I muttered, “this is good,” thinking of the roots of the transplanted flower.