Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November 29, 2011

Sang for the reception for the AIDS quilt at Pack Place. Rock Hudson and Freddy Mercury had panels. The sight is always sad– all that beautiful youth cut down, a war, a holocaust, an ambush without bullets. Part of my emotion is survivor’s guilt. The whole issues recedes in the public consciousness. My students think of the disease as an item in history.

Each “update” of AOL is worse. When it is working, my random messages call me handsome and wonder if I’m lonely and offer me jobs as a secret shopper.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

November 28, 2011

Slashing rain in the dark of morning.

Monday, November 28, 2011

November 27, 2011

A number of bills–including mortgage and utilities– went unpaid this month. I was shocked each time the notifications came, for I do not generally neglect those things. I investigated, and the checks had been written and, I supposed, sent. What happened to them? Things’ actually getting lost in the mail is so rare one looks for more sinister explanations.

Advent 1.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

November 26, 2011

Cats woke me at 3, pretending hunger. Fed them, lay back on the bed for a glut of dreams before the present pale gray light.

Drove to Atlanta for Thanksgiving. Left in morning darkness when the sky was a flitter of clear stars. By the time I hit South Carolina, the east had turned burnt orange, like the flame of a campfire. The boys are handsome giants, almost absurdly well-built because of the rigors and diets of wrestling. They are affectionate and possessed of hilarious friends, living a life I would have thought, had I been their contemporary knowing them in high school, ideal. They are easy where I was tense and taut. They are suave confidence where I was nervous subterfuge. My sister has been careful not to make the mistakes she saw in our upbringing. Whereas I never knew whether I was pleasing my parents or not, and was rather steered away from consideration of the issue, she praises her sons lavishly. David said to me that it was a shock to be in school where not everyone thought he was the greatest thing in the world, after being home where he is reminded (about every 5 seconds) that he is. I never once thought I was the greatest thing in the world, even on those occasions when I was. My sister and I spend a good deal of time deconstructing our common past, and sharing what we have done to outlive it, or repair it, or manage to look beyond. Daniel has a powerful will and sense of justice, and the courage to put them into effect. Politics? In a perfect world, maybe. After Thanksgiving dinner we went to Andretti’s. From the name I thought we were going to the races, but Andretti’s turns out to be an arcade. The fact is that I’d never set foot in an arcade before. Nor had I driven a go-kart, which is what we did first thing. I was terrified. I didn’t understand why it was fun. I hated it. It was the longest eight minutes in history. I don’t have a daredevil bone in my body, at least when it comes to vehicles. Even the virtual version threw me off. I couldn’t get it into my head that it was just a game, and kept going slower and slower so I wouldn’t damage anything on the screen. The machine eventually cast me off in sheer frustration. Did enjoy the bowling. Bowling and ping-pong (which we played at the house) are things I’m pretty good at without deserving to be, engaging in them about once a decade. Left Friday morning as the boys were rousing themselves for wrestling practice. Went to the gym, met horrifying margin calls on my E-trade account, watched far too many DVDs, slept.

Went to tend to DJ’s cat and aquarium. Grace the cat was agitated. She kept running toward the back, stopping and waiting for me to follow, as at last I did. The utility room door had been closed, and she couldn’t get to her litter box. She had used DJ’s bed for that, but you could tell she was upset about it. As soon as I opened the door her little rump was planted in the litter. You wonder what goes through inhuman minds, what she was thinking, and why she was thinking it.

AK emailed he would call me to find a time to meet while he was home from school. I devoted the day to waiting to his call, and it never came. One is not surprised anymore.

Odd truth: I never appear in the photographs of those events at which I am present. It feels conspiratorial. It makes me sad about 50% of the time, relieved the rest.

Mosquitos in the air in the unseasonable warmth.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

November 23, 2011

Titus rooted out my wolf spider from wherever he was hiding. They were nose-to-chitin for a moment, but then decided on mutual toleration. The spider draws his legs in and compacts himself, once in a while, to something resembling a clod of dirt. I assume this is spider nap-time. I think he’s under my church directory now, but I won’t disturb him by looking. It’s not impossible that he’s the same which used to live in my mailbox, and came in on a piece of mail. Would he rather be outside? Is he happy here? I cannot read arachnid body language. I am amazed, though, by the aura of calm he throws around his tiny self. He is at home in ways that I am not.

TT has been posting sections of the Hyre and Ellet newspapers on line. Apparently I won the superlative “most studious” in junior high. That must have struck me as odd then as it does now. Though I devour texts and facts, it’s not because I’m especially studious. I’m curious, and ravenous. Bought a biography of Van Gogh and, trying to read it, realized how long it has been since I’ve done leisure reading in my own house. There is no space for it that is not in some degree awkward, at least in the evening when artificial light is necessary. Read in cafes, on the fly, from my Kindle on the treadmill, in airports, often for weeks on end not at all, not anything that can be called recreational. My bookwormishness as a child filled my quota, perhaps. Did go to the studio, where I painted well and large. Doing things replaced readings things before I was quite a man. Reading seems a neglected friend now, who must be cajoled back into my life.

Ten pages into the Van Gogh bio I’m reminded that Calvin is number one on the list of people whose memory and influence I would cleanse from the world. The reference?: “What is not a duty is a sin.” Mao is on the list, and several minor figures whose influence is not so wide or deep that they must be weighed for all consequences, as must vaster figures who, initially, cry out for inclusion, Hitler and Cromwell and the like.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

November 22, 2011

My creative writing students have done their best work so far with short plays inspired by the prompt “the very fancy lingerie.” Four of them yesterday without overreaching, with wit and focus appropriate to their state of development. Any one of them would triumph in a festival of one acts.

Early morning BBC full of prophetic gloom about the exhaustion of the West. Confusingly, the pundits each blame something slightly different, though too much borrowing to sustain unsustainable lifestyles and too much money concentrated at the top seem to be repeating themes. Woke exceptionally early, even for me, and wanted something more silken to ease me into my day.

The cats pad after me even when their bowl is full. Love? Some need I do not understand and have not filled?

I watch the girls walking to school with their jackets wrapped around them and the wind blowing in their faces. They look so alone when they are alone, so vulnerable when there is weather or too much traffic or night is falling. I wonder how fathers can let them go, how they can refrain from hovering, from hiding behind trees watching to make sure everything is OK.

Even after days of hard freeze, the baby blanket roses push out bloom at the edge of the front terrace. Maybe enough heat keeps coming up from the street.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The "Super Committee"

The “Super Committee” will announce in a few hors that it has failed to make the necessary adjustments to prevent catastrophic legislated automatic cuts in the federal budget. The issue seems to be, solely and wondrously, the stubborn refusal of Republican demagogues to accept the necessity of new taxes. A four year old can tell you the way to have more money is to increase revenues and reduce expenditure, and that one alone will not, in dire events, do. The rich must keep their riches, all else be damned. My rage is increased because there doesn’t even seem to be two legitimate sides to this issue, and yet the wrong side wins. It’s like observing that the boat is sinking, and one says “Bail till we reach the shore” and the other says, “Saw a bigger hole” and somehow the bigger hole wins. Republicans have found a way to govern through hollow slogans like “No New Taxes” or “Take America Back” or “Class War,” discovering furthermore that the sooner the slogan crumbles under investigation, the more the American people like it, the more fervently and unthinkingly they will defend it. They have discovered that hysterical declaration is thought by many to be equal to a reasoned argument, that a prideful community of falsehood is the accepted counter to investigation and proof. Something in our heritage or educational system makes us think that ingrained belief or heartfelt prejudice is a right that reason and investigation should not be allowed wrench from our grasp. You can be a Republican and be intelligent, and you can be a Republican and be moral, but you can't be a Republican and be both. We’ve got ourselves a government by demons, an Infernocracy. Democrats? If angels, timid angels at best, shying from the holy war. The Republican party is at war– deliberately and consciously–with the America which takes care of its weak and curbs its predatory. They want old times back–though they are too ignorant really to understand how the old times were-- where the big prey on the small and nothing prevents the greater robbers from stealing year by year more of the common wealth. They fancy themselves among the privileged, as surprisingly many of the underclass– out of the sadness of imagination-- do. I remember my friend in Furey’s in Sligo saying that he was afraid in America, because there was nothing to stop your fall. It will be worse now. Education, healthcare, the safety of the elderly, art, public works, all gone so that a few calculating demons can return to their constituency and say “I fought new taxes!” I believed after George W that no Republican would ever get a vote again. My pity is gone for a people who stick their hands in the fire again and again and wonder why they are in pain.
November 20, 2011

Sultry Sunday, back to months to the middle of September. On the passenger’s seat in the car lies a pile of cast-off one-by-one clothes.

Senior creative writing readings– quite good, quite varied. One felt what one seldom feels at a reading, that one wanted to hear more.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

November 19, 2011

Chipper and hopeful before Saturday dawn. I feel the moon is almost gone and under the earth.

The crew, plus sweet J, went to see the meta-radio-theater adaptation of It’s a Wonderful Life at NC Stage. Don’t care for the movie, didn’t care for the play, but we went to support Maria, and that was accomplished. The acting was good. That there are three touring companies of this piece is amazing to me. J suggested seeing Brief Encounters with me tonight, but I think an opportunity with his beauteous ex has derailed that.

J and B stared daggers at one another all the time in Cambridge, by which I knew they were not finished with each other.

Got to the studio, painted well, and not only that but sold a painting– the snowy owl and the moon and the star on a black plain– for exactly the price of next month’s rent.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

November 18, 2011

Mr Newhouse died in Akron. He was a sponsor through part of my Eagle Scout progress, and I remember a banquet we attended together, where he talked of his love of 40's hits such as “Deep Purple.” The contrast he made with my own father was remarkable, clearly, as I’m still remarking upon it. Someday I’ll take the time to recall all the random people who did me good during my childhood, for no conceivable gain but, perhaps, remembrance such as this decades later.

Went to bed with phlebitis last night, an attack caught early enough to be mostly a dull ache and almost comic exhaustion. The fever gave me vivid, repetitious dreams of considering the purchase of a mansion and a huge estate on a mountain in Pennsylvania. Did go to the Y in the morning, did work out feebly. Went with MP to see his property out near Sandy Mush. It requires too much either for my body or for my wallet, but in some ways–size, for instance–it is near the mark. The plots in the country around here look like salamanders or lightning bolts, never rectangles. M says it is so everybody gets a little bit of bottom land. Came home and slept fiercely for the rest of the afternoon, which is not what I was planning for my day almost off. Theater tonight. The test will be if I stay awake when every cell is crying “Sleep! Sleep!”

I think at least part of my gloominess the past few days was that I was getting sick. I’ve noticed this repeatedly in the past, and so sometimes make the connection, but nearly always a little to late to dodge some passage of grumpiness or annoyance.

Friday, November 18, 2011

November 17, 2011

Too spent after a day. Even the next morning I, sometimes, feel not totally recovered. The weekends are obliterated by duties, so in effect I’ve had twenty days without a break. I hear my head repeating the mantra “one day. . . one day. . “ as if a mere 24 hours with no demands other than those of my soul would restore everything. Probably they would. People say, “Oh, it will only take a minute,” not realizing, or not caring, that a minute is an interruption as surely as an hour. Half the things I bring on myself, wanting to have done this or that without wanting to do it, wanting to look back in satisfaction on what gave no satisfaction in the performance.

Uncharacteristically waiting for dawn before setting out. Maybe I dreamed of bears in the back yard.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

November 15, 2011

Overstuffed Monday. At the Y before dawn I reached the weight machines just after a blond, 6'2" Viking about 30 years old, if that. I decided to do exactly the weight settings he had done. Somewhat to my surprise, I did so, and with so little strain I realized I had been indulging myself; I can do more than I typically make myself do. The blond giant returned to a machine after I had finished, checked the weights, saw that they were exactly as he had left them, shot me a gratifying glance of surprise.

Drove to Hendersonville to see one-act plays that Hendersonville High and East Hendersonville High are putting on for NCTC later this week. EH put on a stunning reduction of Terra Nova. The acting was so good I didn’t believe they were all high school boys until I saw them getting out of costume backstage. HH put on a piece called “Gratefully without the Muses” (I think) which they had written themselves, and which any college would have been proud to do. Mara Egan was my hostess, and she has the makings of a subtle and effective comic actor.

First departmental quarrel I remember in 28 years. The issue is equity in scheduling, and though I really don’t fuss that much about my schedule, I find myself in there scrapping bitterly. I suppose principle is important, or maybe I’m just in the mood for a quarrel.
November 14, 2011

Senior readings at school yesterday afternoon. We have surprising number of transsexuals in various stages of transition. It is a fad, related to the curious recent idea that all choices are available, all options open to all, always. The Lords of Dharma shake their heads. I hope no one goes too far and can’t find the way back. One was the handsomest boy in school, opting now to be a rather disappointing woman. The readings were diverse, uneven, individual, well-coached.

Monday, November 14, 2011

November 13, 2011

A fairly creepy wolf spider hunts across my desk lamp, ascending and descending in a manner of particular calm. I’m thinking of ways we can live together peaceably. He stares steadily at me at intervals, likely thinking the same thing. Tiny orange bands near the ends of his legs, as if he were wearing jewelry. He really is a most serene little creature.

Went to see APO’s one-act festival, which included my “I Should Warn You I Have a Gun in My Bag.” The student-run operation was lively, well-attended, free. Some of the kids who had little to do in Our Town revealed that they are capable of much more. Projection was not much thought of, so my piece was lost, but pieces where boys shouted facing the audience were not lost, and it all warmed my heart. The potential for good theater exists on campus, if it can find its way past an exhausted faculty.

Unusually pleasant River District Studio Stroll yesterday. I even made sales, which though pitiable in size encourage simply by existing. Painted a lot. Looked up at one point at one of the world’s handsomest men, with a great silver lizard for a belt buckle, tall and thin enough of make such a detail work. He wanted to chat, and I was grateful. He seemed melancholy, and I was thinking, unsympathetically, “If I looked like that, you couldn’t wipe the grin off my face.” One of the women who bought paintings chatted with me for a while about whether I was afraid someone would pass me a bad check. When I looked at her check later, she had left the write-out-the-sum space blank. On purpose? I filled it in myself with, I hope, some skill.

Left the Stroll to rush to Warren Wilson for Holly’s speech. She was funny and insightful, and Sebastian was walking, which was a glory to see. He looked tall and rangy and happy, as if the crutches were a kind of unnecessary courtesy. I have a tendency to want to joke with people in extremis, thinking it will lighten the situation, though I wonder of it reads the way it is intended.

Me: “Seb! You’re walking! And here I came with a whole load of wheelchair jokes.”
He: “My wife is still in a chair. Try them out on her.”

Left WW and steamed downtown (it was one of those days when I had to be watching the watch to make sure each obligation was met). TJC had comped me a ticket to hear Joshua Bell, the glamorous violinist, at the Thomas Wolfe. The playing was exquisite, though that room deadens everything–exquisite without resonance, one must then say. Bell had to deal with the typical yahoo Asheville audience which, among other things, longs to applaud between movements of a sonata. He took to holding the bow aloft to signal he was mid-movement–a signal which a significant number ignored anyway, and then laughed about. A cell phone jingle was playing as he wanted to begin, and he quipped to his pianist (Tracey’s comp was right down near the stage, bless her) “I guess I’ll have to play louder.” All the bars were full and happy as I walked back to my car. I wanted to join in, but, at that point, not enough to counteract thoughts of couch and a cosmopolitan.

RS asks me to begin reviewing again for Mountain Xpress. Missed it. Need to get a rhythm back.

Will return to work tomorrow without having had one hour of rest. Let’s see how that works.

My little ghost was with me through the day. I smiled and went along with it all.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

November 11, 2011

Eleven. Eleven. Eleven

The moonlight was so bright last night I could see every detail of the yard, almost even the colors. Light glanced off the aluminum tank to make another moon, low against my window.

KM and I went to see Brief Encounters at MF, me for the second time. She assured me it was better than I had prepared her for, and it was, in fact, a better evening than a week back, with a livelier and less drunken crowd. Sat late with Casey and the Hyorths, us reminiscing about the good old days in Asheville theater, Casey politely taking it in, his copy of Grotowsky under his elbow. Heard that one of the other playwrights– the author of not quite the worst one–supposed that I had written “The Future of the Theater” for this event, targeting these actual plays, and rose at the end and gave the finger to the stage and stomped out. I miss all the good moments.

Evening, moving into night. Strange visions, and though they seem melancholy to tell, they bring me joy. I napped on the couch in the winter sunlight, and I dreamed of a little long-legged puppy showing up ay my back door. I decided he was meant for me, and that I would keep him. I was listing the things in my head that I had to buy-- toys, some rope for taking walks, fence to enclose the yard–when I woke up. I lay there for a moment trying to figure out whether I needed to go shopping or not. Then later as I was half-watching a DVD, a shape materialized, as if in the corner of my eye. It was a young man or a boy, with blond spikey hair, and a certain look, familiar and yet startling. I knew it was my unborn son. The first sensation was relief and joy–yes, yes, this, at last, is right– and then I sobered up a little and thought, “it is not right that you should haunt me. It was not my fault.” But then I realized it was not a haunting, but another sort of visitation altogether.
November 10, 2011

The soft light that I thought might be dawn an hour ago is gone, and night is back. Maybe it was the descending moon.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

November 9, 2011

The garden is actually pretty riotous for the full moon of November. All the roses are blooming, and the purple Persian honeysuckle, and the forget-me-nots, wild geranium, purple phlox, flowering maple. But for a yellow rose and pink roses, most are in the family of purple.

Student M tells me of heatstroke in Army camp in Fayetteville. He was so bound up with muscle cramps he couldn’t move, and then passed out. When he woke, ants were in his mouth and nostrils. All he had to do was think, “I’m going to die this way,” to rouse himself and begin to fight again. The theory that training should be worse than any circumstance one will likely encounter seems, to me, boyish.

Spectacular back spasm prompted me to cancel classes (I was walking like the Mummy, unable to straighten up, unable to rise from a sitting or lower from a standing position without yelping in pain. Getting into a car was unthinkable). Twenty minutes after I sent the message to my students, the seized-up muscles relaxed. Instantly. Completely. I gave myself a mental-health day, going to the studio to paint and read through scripts sent to Black Swan. Notable flaws in scripts read today: 1) too-deliberate attempts at fashion, 2) lines that the characters wouldn’t really say, but that the playwright thinks the audience needs to hear. A number of playwrights seek to “update” scripture: Jesus as the panhandler on the public square, as the mysterious new neighbor who appears in hours of need. I wonder if this is ever successful. Very few of the scripts were quite horrible. Very few were exceptional or memorable. Sadly, many were really quite good, and deserve a showing, at least once, somewhere, if there were just enough energy and venues and money. The worst were those which were skillful and professional, but possessing nothing but skill, without an ounce of heart or evident humanity. These I assume had been through the development process, and shorn of every virtue with which fault could be found.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

November 8, 2011

Ordered a used copy of Millay’s “Fatal Interview.” The inscription on the cover page reads, “To Deedie from Jay, 3-24-‘37.

At last count, five tasks have risen up to interfere with the studio stroll this weekend. I think I’ll just give it up. Angry and frustrated by this, even recalling that the stroll is usually more exhausting and futile than it is rewarding. There is always the hope, though, of some break-through, of some resonant contact–unless one isn’t there. Oh well. Most of what I have taken on to "enrich" life makes me miserable, though I keep on doing it lest one day I regret giving up, in case the very day I quit is the very one which would have made it all worthwhile. Proofs of Satan abound.

The moon, nearly full, rebounds off the galvanized aluminum pool on the back terrace and lights my whole room slant through the window.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

November 5, 2011

Went to the doctor yesterday to get various things checked, She gave me script for blood pressure medicine that won’t make me cough all day long. She also gave me a flu shot, which almost instantly gave me the flu–or, as they say, “flu-like symptoms”– which ended the progress of the day. They’re still with me. Moving about the house like I’m 90. You wonder what the point of medicine is that 1) gives you the disease it’s supposed to guard against, which is 2) one that you haven’t gotten on your own in five years. Wonder if I can use this to get out of rehearsal this morning.

Dragged myself in the evening to the Reuter center for the first reading of SART’s Scriptfest. Glad I did, for several reasons, none of which, alas, was the script. Saw old friends and was assured by WC that they had not forgotten my money, but have been working diligently to scrape it together. Didn’t know whether to feel justified or greedy. The musical (we didn’t hear the music) involved the hanging of the circus elephant Mary for killing somebody in Tennessee a number of years back. The playwright was a good writer, which disguised until about forty minutes into the first act that the play was dismal. When the playwright began to speak I recognized instantly the main reason for its flaws: it had gone through several development processes. This is almost always a disaster and almost always dilutes the vision of the playwright without educating it. Someone had said he needed African-American characters, which he added without giving them a reason to be there, which is worse than not having them at all. Someone said he had to punch up the rather thin story with something sensational, so there is a totally gratuitous rape and two totally gratuitous murders–events which make us think for a moment that something is going on, but there’s really not. The character of Red (the one killed by the elephant) was pleasing, but probably because Chris A read it so well. There was a scene where a number of old townsmen were chatting, which was screamingly funny. He should drop the elephant scenario– sensational without being really interesting–or, like “Snakes on a Plane,” expressed and exhausted in a single instant-- and start with those men. I crumpled up my comment sheet and threw it away, thinking it would have been too harsh. The playwright had driven all the way from Orlando.

Late afternoon: rehearsal despite of the ague, then planting what I think will be the last of my upcoming garden, emptying a great crate just received from the nursery, containing four Japanese-named tree peonies, two kinds of fox-tail lilies, two kinds of day lilies (one of them reputedly black), and regular showy lilies in white and pink. It’s hard to imagine a square foot of land now without its tenant. Simmering on the stove is self-invented lentil soup with cabbage and onion. Not really hungry, so maybe it will open tomorrow’s gustatory adventures.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

November 4, 2011

Bitter winter rain.

Took TD and my student Alex and his roommate Ben to Magnetic Field to see Brief Encounters. Ben is learning Japanese and Farsi. The boys, who had ridden their bikes through the rain, were engaged and interested and sweet and curious about everything. I was stupid with pleasure being with them, going into a sort of paternal overdrive I hope they didn’t find too goofy. MF’s deep bench of excellent actors and directors saw the night through without much help from the scripts. Grateful to John and M & S Bean for doing well with my piece which, ending the evening, got laughs, and so was I content. Since I was with 20-year-olds, didn’t try the enticing cocktails invented for the program. Will next time.
November 3, 2011

The “post-mortem” for Our Town was cancelled moments before it was meant to happen. Cast members think it’s so the department doesn’t have to hear criticism, so it can maintain its old path of oblivious self-satisfaction. I think they’re probably right.

Enraging rehearsal last night. It’s curious how too much effort, wrongly directed, ends up with too little product. Did end the night merrily at Avenue M over drinks, Jake the Actor joining our churchly party. We bitched about everybody, and felt better for it.

Students not doing their work, not reading their assignments, smiling sweetly while you go on about matters about which they are blissfully ignorant, To punish or let pass? Surely I skipped assignments in my day, but I don’t remember, until it came to the 4th Henry James in graduate school. Unlike us, they can’t even rely on a foundation of general knowledge. Discussing Tennyson I would have been happy had they known ANYTHING about the Arthurian tales, but they apparently didn’t, except for some revisionist crap lately on TV.

The antique rose is suddenly, miraculously covered with November blossoms, dusty pink, oblivious to the hour.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

November 2, 2011

Male notte. Molto male notte. Brutta. Cattiva.


Finished with Lupe’s discernment process. Finished correcting the Holy Spirit.

Apparently will not be playing Lear. Apparently misunderstood. I am trying to say, “Well, it frees up my spring” in a way convincing to myself.

Casey tells the story of a couple stomping out of Brief Encounters at MF, attacking the bartender (who, at any rate, was not at fault) because the plays were so bad. During the attack they apparently paraphrased the dialogue of my play about bad plays– which, of course, they had not seen yet. Life & Art–

Casey assures me that the evening is not bad at all. See for myself Thursday.

Apparently fried bacon last night in a drunken stupor. The smell was in the kitchen. The utensils were out but, wonderfully, cleaned. A greasy plate lay on the floor beside the couch. Hope I enjoyed it. Glad I didn’t burn myself. Maybe it was not I who fried the bacon at all.

Apparently the dark outside, speaking now with the voice of the across-the-street apartments’ trash truck, is another day.
November 1, 2011

Despite expecting no trick-or-treaters, one buys provisions just in case, realizing that one reason to keep teaching is have a population to consume leftover Halloween candy.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

October 31, 2011

Walked out in darkness, with the nearly half moon peering through my pines.

Lakeshore Drive is dark and without sidewalks, so not only do we get few trick-or-treaters, but it seems dangerous to lure them here with a burning pumpkin or a lit porch light. But I wanted to get into the holiday spirit, so I cruised the back streets where it is safe for the princesses and ninjas, including Kimberly and Edwin Place, which are the prime trick-or-treating areas in the north end. All sweet and happy. The dark shapes darting between cars across the streets are a little nervous-making, so the speedometer seldom exceeded 15.

I think too often of one Halloween–we still lived on Goodview, so I couldn’t have been more than 12, if that–when I had my costume all ready and was planning the trick-or-treating route with my friends, when my father decided (or at least said) that I was too old for Halloween and that I would work in the garden instead. He had me clearing out the frostbitten garden, by night, while everybody was walking the streets in their costumes, and the moon was high and golden, and the grief in my heart was inexpressible. Even then Halloween was not about candy, but about some high and mysterious solemnity, and I was agonized to be stopped from celebrating it the first time I understood it. I had no idea what had gotten into him, what lesson he thought he was teaching, and got slapped across the face when I asked. Still a puzzle to me today. It couldn’t have been simple cruelty, unless it was. What I do know was that it was destructive past what my father intended, indeed if he intended destruction at all. My father’s lessons tended to make me go and do the opposite the rest of my life. It was a particular grace that he didn’t know how utterly I rejected his every precept– except those having to do with making sure lids were on tight and not to be late.

How long have I labored to get that Halloween back?

Full moon one Halloween at Hiram. George and Denny and I ran to the Hiram graveyard and cavorted there as ghoulishly as we could, full moon and Halloween and graveyard and all. I remember thinking, “This may be the best Halloween of my life.” I think it was.

Went as a genie one Halloween to Scandals, my chest bare, my head shaved. I was sexy. I was popular. I left the bar very late, thinking, “everything will be all right now.”