Wednesday, November 28, 2012

November 27, 2012

Dim, wintery, cold moon moving toward full.

HJ has come back into my life at full throttle. In a long phone monolog, he caught me up on a life of almost incredible success, declining, now, to a life of almost inexplicable obscurity. He leapt from Exeter to Harvard. He studied with Heaney and Borges. If I understood correctly, he was senior editor of a publishing house and ran Carnegie Hall. He had anorexia. . . and gastric by-pass. . . and for a while couldn’t eat, but could drink, and so became an alcoholic. He was almost back together and became an alcoholic again. . . coming to rest at last and at bottom in a family home in Asheville– which explains, anyway, his ghostly re-appearance. Details went by too fast, and lacked the enriched information of a face-to-face. HJ is bewildered by all this, bewildered by the success which he couldn’t see how he deserved, bewildered by the catastrophes which seem utterly to have forgotten his former life. One thing I remember from long ago was that, even as a boy, he seemed confused by the honors heaped on him, uncomfortable, looking over his shoulder to see if there was whispering behind upraised palms. There wasn’t. Everyone thought he was better than he thought himself. The personal history lesson was a build-up to his asking me to help him, which I am glad to do, sorting out poems so he can apply for fellowships, writing recommendations to employers whom I might know. I considered how his story is an alternate version of mine, with two differences. A boy coming out of Ellet High School in Akron Ohio would not, under any circumstance, whatever his attainments, have the same opportunities as a boy coming out of Exeter, heading, automatically, toward Harvard. There would be no way fully to catch up, ever. Balancing that, though, is that, in my life anyway, both the temptation and opportunity for dissipation were less. If there were plaudits I positioned myself far enough away that the sound of them wouldn’t drive me off course. I dedicated myself early on to protecting my gifts, and in that, at least, I have been successful. Whether that was actually a benefit cannot now be tested. Perhaps if I had a couple of sessions at rehab or committed some public outrage, things would have gone better for my career. This is to say that after HJ’s outpouring, I felt very strange, as if I were Achilles’ big brother who stayed at home, who heard the tales from the Front, and welcomed the battered body home, unsure whether he had taken the better part.

Chall closes his restaurant, You’d think being excellent would suffice, but it doesn’t.

Monday, November 26, 2012


Meanwhile, out in Los Angeles, Overseas wins the First Stage one-act contest. Pavel is disappointed that he didn't get to direct. So am I. I stop myself from wondering. "how much is that prize again?"

November 26, 2012

Extended, elaborate dream before waking. I was being thwarted by my wife-- a very powerful woman, apparently. I don’t know whether we were rivals in real estate or politics or what, but it felt like a real thing whose particulars are now blurred. One of my daughters was on her side, and it hurt my feelings. But one of my sons was on my side. He was funny and quick, and noting his funniness and quickness, I realized I was an archetype, that I was in fact Zeus and the son was Hermes. With this in mind I pursued another daughter, who was sullen and lackadaisical. I convinced her to come to my (quite beautiful) apartment in Rome and go through some kind of ceremony, which dissolved layers of indifference and actual darkness around her. She was Artemis, and with her on my side, we began to turn the tide. But there was a deep ache in my life, which was another son whom I missed terribly, who was under the same darkness as his sister. I captured him, put him through the ceremony, and his beauty when he was released made my heart sing. He was Apollo. My dream life has been quite deliberate of late. I lie down in a spare hour and summon a life alternative to one which grows more and more disagreeable, not by getting worse, but by dwelling seemingly forever on the same declining plain.

Fire at church yesterday morning. The alarm went off, and people looked at each other to decide what to do. Kyle and Todd plunged ahead with the service, as they should have done, for all the fire was in a plastic waste basket in the men’s choir restroom. The fire department arrived at confidence-building speed, and the handsome firemen soon had everything (there was not much of it, after all) under control.  They figured it was deliberately set.

Sort of good Cantaria rehearsal. Some rage possesses me there, to which I cannot quite assign sufficient blame. It gives me joy to have Richard there, one of my Exeter charges all grown up.

Began writing a play called Thanksgiving on Thanksgiving. Continue it at the café in a little notebook I must have bought for the purpose, fighting off the terrible music. I have written more plays this year than any other, but one, but this year’s plays are better.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

November 24, 2012

Dedicated Friday at the Y. Ran over two miles without thinking about it, reading The Sun in Splendor, finding only two typos, stopping then only to take an aerobics class, which turned out to be mostly stretching. I’d lost track of how little I stretch. How my body protested being forced back into it!  I was the only man in a class of women, and the female instructor’s eagerness to adjust and guide my body stopped just sort of indecency. Not that I minded.

Got up under starlight (under beautiful and surpassing starlight, Venus brilliant in the east, Jupiter radiant in the west) this morning to repeat the regimen, but the Y was dark and creepy. Forgot it was Saturday. The stars still burned brilliant when I settled down at Edna’s to write on my Thanksgiving play, called Thanksgiving. The worst music in the world–jazzy holiday songs and popped-down jazz standards–didn’t wholly prevent the creative flow.

Yesterday I attacked the front terrace harder than it’s been attacked before, sawing and clipping and ripping out. Leather gloves were barely sufficient against the great daggers of the rose canes. Found last summer’s mockingbird nest, all lined with snugly plastic. My hatred of wild honeysuckle is almost mystical.

When not gardening or working out, spent yesterday on the phone to Mombai, trying to get Microsoft to correct a billing error. Exhausted, I withdrew from the fray vaguely assured (but by no means certain) that I had been victorious. The apparatus is expressly designed to prevent communication with anyone who can actually help. “Customer Service” is designed specifically to prevent customer service. Quite amazing, actually. It’s too complicated to be accidental. Premeditated malice lurks behind it, a dark intelligence experimenting on how much suffering it can inflict before provoking outright violence. Everyone has a packaged statement before them to be read rote, consequently no one listens to what the actual problem is. I started saying “Let me speak to your supervisor. Now,” first thing. Surprising how that moves things along. The Indian gentlemen were kind, and probably genuinely sorry they didn’t know what the hell they were talking about.

The dusty pink antique rose still blooming after many freezes.

November 23, 2012

Dreams of being on a bus hour led by Steve Lloyd. I was the driver of the immense road machine that had to be maneuvered with great skill. Once I stopped inches from a collision with a bridge. I marveled that I’d never been in a vehicle high as a bridge, and now I was driving one. Steven had to be left off somewhere in order to get to New York (the directions in the dream were very precise). I remembered that I too had to get to New York, for a haircut appointment that was, somehow, very important to me. There was a flash of a barber shop in a sort of cave, that long ago was part of a recurring dream. The bus was full of “special” kids who had to be given time to throw tantrums or make it successfully to the bathroom, and our rest stop seemed unlikely ever to end. No one would listen to me that we had to stop dithering and wasting time and get back to the airport so I could make it to my appointment. One side of the world was a wilderness of trees with pink and scarlet flowers. I said out loud in the dream, "We are not supposed to dream in color."

Friday, November 23, 2012

November 22, 2012

Architectural gardening, much moving of earth. Transplanted holly volunteers to spots where they may prosper. Hacked down and poisoned a lot of brush on Carolyn’s side of the divide, because they were shading my plants, and she wasn’t home, and has proven to have been indifferent to anything going on outside. Pruned. Created a sunken garden where the pond was, planted anemones, mulched with leaves.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

November 21, 2012

Antic disposition yesterday. I hope my students didn’t notice, or were amused by it. Sore left foot, limping and crying out. I think I wore a hole in the bone in New York.

The postcard company phones to say the misprint was their fault and they will reprint the cards and re-ship. I’m surprised by this, expecting it, somehow, to have been my fault–even after checking the paperwork and seeing that the set-up I approved was correct. “Careless typesetting,” they say. So, I dump 1000 cards into the recycle bin. Fewer than that; I must have sent out a hundred before I noticed. Even when I noticed I had to keep looking, and looking, unable to believe my eyes.

Decided to garden today, beginning with the water gardens. I knew two goldfish survived, one in the backyard pond and one in the third of the front ponds. I determined not just to put them in a bucket and haul them to Beaver Lake this time, but keep them with me through the winter. I drove to the Pet Supermarket and bought an aquarium, set it on the red table with a few flat rocks. The fish from the front was big and healthy. The fish from the back was dead, but only recently dead, his eyes blue but his scales still beautiful. I felt bad about that. Had I gotten to this a week, even a day or two earlier, maybe he would have survived. His water was foul and clogged with the detritus of the trees. Whether the foulness was the cause or the effect of his demise I don’t know. But Lawrence–for so I have named the survivor– floats alone in his new pond with all the edges. He’s quite handsome, brilliant orange with tail and tips of all his fins transparent. He prospered all summer without my feeding him once, so rich was the organic mix of the yard. What does he think of the clean water? Would he rather have someplace to hide, rather than all that blazing light and oxygen? So far he looks happy. He isn’t eating yet, but he’s exploring. I feel bad for him, somehow. Because he’s alone? Because I fear he may have loved his dark barrel and will be confused by his new world? The soil where I dumped the rotty mucky water must be the richest in the world.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

November 20, 2012

Postcards come for The Sun in Splendor. Of course they say, in giant letters on both sides, all 500 of them, The Sun in Slendor. I start to go ballistic, but pull back, decide to let God have his little joke.

Much traffic in my office last evening. Felt at once harried and inadequate. Must be how the president feels.

Cat vomit hidden under papers.

Monday, November 19, 2012

November 19, 2012

Most intricate, extended, complicated dreams, some of them so close to my waking life at one time or another that they seem almost a deliberate corrective to it. They are a refuge, a sought-whenever-possible alternative life. I’m developing the idea that the human mind created dreams in order to have a realm not governed by God, one that He did not make and cannot enter. His order is gone from them, but so is His tyranny.

Good Cantaria rehearsal. Only a few key personalities need to be absent for the whole thing to go right.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

November 18, 2012

Newark airport. It is a rule that all the people who are not using electronic devices will be clustered around the columns of outlets, denying access, but I managed to find this one plug unnoted way in a corner. This has been, so far, the most uneventful travel experience I’ve ever had, and I thank God.

Haunted Columbus Circle for a little while, then went to the Board Meeting for the ABB Foundation. Francine’s dolls and arranged doll families and eclectic books lay under an additional layer of dust. To my surprise, the Foundation decided to keep on going after Arch’s death, doing pretty much what it did before. A further surprise was that when the finances were revealed, another thing revealed was that I have more money than the foundation. This took me a little aback. I’d already decided not to request travel expenses. I continue to be amazed in meetings such as that how serious people think of things–necessary things–that would never cross my mind. Was offered the job of Executive Director, which I turned down largely for that reason.

Went to Mamet’s Glenngarry Glen Ross. The Schoenfeld theater was the first one I ever saw a Broadway show at, when Susan took me to see Amadeus long ago. I’m not sure it had the same name then. Glengarry Glen Ross is a contemporary icon, and certainly the performances, from Al Pacino on across the board, were stellar. It’s almost impossible to imagine better. I got the last ticket in a sold-out house. But is the play itself really that good? The dialogue is magnificent. Mamet has found a perfect medium for reproducing the speech of rats fighting in a hole, and though that is a virtuosity, is it anything beyond that? Do these rats have anything to say, beyond creating a certain understanding of their rattiness? The characters are impossible to like beyond our liking for the actors playing them. The characters have nothing to teach, I think, unless one is in the desperate need for larceny and only fear of being caught would stop one. The play is in every way admirable as a performance, but I’m still searching for the road it could possibly take into the heart or the conscience. It was a fascinating event, in any case, and gives one the chance to watch virtuoso acting. Maybe that’s what it is about– like a basketball game where they don’t keep score, and the only thing that matters is how good everybody looks tossing the ball around.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

New York 4

November 17, 2012

Gratuitous shopping in the morning, then a trek to the Helmsley to retrieve my cell phone, which was not in the lost and found, but rather in the cushions of the very chair in which I had been sitting, Went to MOMA. I had to check in with Starry Night. There was a great crowd around it, as I suppose should be. The featured celebrity was Munch’s The Scream. Here’s the odd things about that: the original is less attractive than any of its reproductions, It looks like a child’s crayon drawing, Behind it on the wall was, however, a real masterpiece, Munch’s The Storm. The Scream was hard to see because people couldn’t refrain from having their picture taken in front of it, hands over ears, screaming, Impressed by, and confused by, the Quay brothers. Root soup and mimosas in the café at a table of teenagers who were dishing as they do on Gossip Girl, though more wittily. Napped, then walked by night from the Edison to St. Luke in the Fields on Hudson for an evening of new music. I’d gone specifically to hear Jon David’s Stabat Mater, but the entire evening was quite wonderful. Music is beyond the point of aiming to be merely provocative; each of the pieces allowed the ear inside them, provided a key to how they might be read. Exhilarating, actually. I also noticed a gratifying concentration on the word, the music word-driven, the settings of text actual settings of text.  I was exhausted afterward. Anxieties about transportation vanished when I got the first taxi I pointed to on Hudson. Water and Reisling at the Glass House (The Rum House packed to the ceiling) and then to bed.

Friday, November 16, 2012

New York 3

November 16, 2012

Late start, after a night ending, again, at the Rum House, where I met Aaron, who had lived for a while in Cincinnati, who was suave and worldly and had a great plume of brown hair draped across his forehead. He have me a sip of his special black-something bourbon, which tasted as complex as wine, and marked the first time I ever really like neat bourbon. Started at the Paramount, which is being remodeled out of recognition. Shopped a little yesterday morning, then walked up Broadway to SJB’s preferred restaurant on 85th. Browsed the book stalls, scalded myself on tea at a café, where I was also panhandled. Guy came in, scanned the room, came directly to me. His speech impediment made it hard for him to speak. Something seemed genuine in his need, so I gave him money. That whole part of town, the west side above Lincoln Center, is little known to me, and I thought it was lovely, lively, liveable. The meeting was with my director and our music director over The Loves of Mr. Lincoln, It’s thrilling to be talking about it. It was one of those spit-balling, tossing-around-ideas meetings which leave me a little disoriented, because I almost never mention anything about art that is not long considered and would not, if put into action, work. So my filters were engaged, to sift and consider and not take anything as a hidden directive. SJB suggested I change the moment of the play in a way I resisted at the time, but I see how it can work, and he may be right, though NOT doing it that way (very Broadway and Sondheim-y) had been the original aim of my approach. Oh well. All problems are solved by allowing the number of actors I had originally asked for, but–. SJB is not an insistent director, and I am not a stubborn playwright, so all went well. JB, the music guy, probably found the necessary middle ground. Will look hard at everything when I get home. SJB forbade me to have the pastrami, because he the experience of a pastrami sandwich would be disappointing unless I had it at a Jewish deli.

Taxied in the evening to the Helmsley Park South for a reception to honor Raymond Carver and to mark the 50th anniversary of the Syracuse creative writing program. As I feared, I knew no one; none of my contemporaries appeared. Did meet some of the current students, who were charming, and a guy named Poe who had done interesting work in journalism, and who also knew nobody. Donald Dike was, curiously, not mentioned among the writing program luminaries (I thought he had founded it). Neither was I, which is not what I would have expected when I set my back to Syracuse, heading out into the world. Walked back to the hotel noting how Central Park South smells of horses, thinking wry thoughts. Beautiful faces, one after the other.

New York 2

November 15, 2012

Took in the faces on Times Square, then realized, with all the meetings and pre-arrangements, how little time I have for incidental adventures. Went to see Peter and the Starcatcher, largely because it’s playing out the back door of the hotel. It’s actually sort of a Christmas panto, raucous and amiable, if a little stupid. Great times at the Rum House afterwards. There was a sort of tag-team of piano players, most of them customers, banging out the best whorehouse piano I have ever heard. A Japanese girl dressed as a farmer danced while they played. The men sitting beside me were Norwegians–they smelled wonderful–and we talked a little about the history of Norway. They told me their names, but after a certain intake of rum, unfamiliar things become unintelligible. Had a further drink in one of the hotel bars, staggered up to bed with no specific memory of how I got here. Now my little puzzle of sky above 47th Street is gray silk, just before dawn.  

Thursday, November 15, 2012

New York 1

November 14, 2012

Eleventh floor of the Edison Hotel, the rooms are ragged, but not so tiny as I’m used to here. The flight was without incident, except in the land of dreams, of which there were many. The woman beside me was eating green onion potato chips, and the smell made me sick, so the only option was sleep. The plane approached Manhattan from the cloudless south, so all the majesty of it was laid out before us. The lady at the shuttle bus station sold me a round-trip ticket for the price of one-way. She said, “For you it’s sixteen dollars.” I didn’t realize she meant that until I looked at the receipt later. So, already a passage of fortune . . . .

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

November 14, 2012

Toward NYC. Packed my sad little bag. Considered just taking my laptop and toothbrush and wearing the same thing every day, may a different t-shirt for under the same sweater. I pack for stylishness I never manage to exhibit. Conference with SJB over Lincoln. Couple of meetings. Bought no advanced tickets (except JD’s concert) meaning to prowl the marquees like a kid in a candy shop.

My students were pissed at each other in senior seminar for reasons I couldn’t divine.

The cats jostle for snoozing space under the desk lamp.

Monday, November 12, 2012

November 12, 2012

Dark of Veterans’ Day morning. Overseas opens in LA.

Drove to Carrboro yesterday morning for Night Music. J and D were to come--had asked to come-- but I drove to the appointed place on campus and waited for more than an hour–drove onto the freeway, turned around and came back to give them another chance– until I was afraid I’d miss the reading. This was surprisingly devastating for something that happens all the time. I was puzzled, then I was furious, then I was depressed. If I had the time back I’ve spent waiting on people I’d have two more birthdays than my destiny allows, anyway. If people had the time back they’d spent waiting on me, they’d have time for an extra cup of coffee, maybe.  When I was a student, I’d have lingered at the meeting place half an hour ahead to make sure I didn’t inconvenience a professor. To stand one up would be unthinkable. I drove the four hours (just under) in grievous discontent. I might not have made the trip if I’d thought I had to do it alone. With the waiting, I still arrived a few minutes early, and had a vodka at the Second Wind, a sports bar on Main Street in Carrboro, where three different football games played on three different screens. Felt comfortable there. I hadn’t eaten, so the vodka had supreme effect. Google said the arts center is on West Main when in fact it is on East, and the guy into whose parking lot I pulled and who figured this out for me was so proud that I had a play there he hugged me. Downtown Carrboro was lively in the sweet winter light (I’d dressed for the mountains, and kept shedding layers on the flats), reminding me of West Asheville. The Carrborro Arts Center is a former store in a strip mall, but useful and attractive, and apparently well run and full of events. Met the actors and the director. Cheryl B was there with her husband. Cheryl and I never had a conversation in high school, but I certainly knew who she was. It was great of her to come out and see me. Her brother Larry and I had a relationship in junior high, the erotic overtones of which I didn’t recognize or refused to recognize then. He had cancer in high school, got over it, and then succumbed as a young man. I think I made her sad asking about him.

When the reading began, layers of apprehension fell from me. The actors (especially the one playing Jesse) were excellent and dedicated. Beyond that, Night Music is beautiful. Beautiful. I was so happy. It’s not flawless, but what needs to be done is clear and relatively easy to fix. The audience talk-back (there was a big audience for that fine day and that obscure event) confirmed my impressions. It had achieved better than I foresaw, certainly better than I intended. I was happy. Had a mad crush on Jesse, which was, of course, part of the point.

The drive back alone in the dark was grueling. Rock and roll on the radio was my constant companion, driving away the drowsiness. The Prius hit and passed 10000 miles on the steep grade out of Old Fort. No moon, no stars, imagining who inhabited the rushing bodies of light around me.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

November 11, 2012

Spent a few hours at the gallery stroll, left when I had finished painting. Two of the strollers who came in and mused on what my paintings told them about the inside of my head. They were not specific. Jolene pointed out the painting she liked best, which was the one on the wall I hadn’t done.

Real freezes have come, and the towering angels' trumpets are brownish ruins.

In an hour it’s off to Carrboro to hear Night Music.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

November 9, 2012

The pink Christmas cactus is in bloom.

Made a slumgullion of Brussels sprouts, celery, white eggplant (from my garden) banana peppers (from my garden) and kale. Topped with a little soy sauce, it is scrumptious. What prevents us from eating healthy?

The Importance of Being Earnest at UNCA was excellent– is excellent, for I saw it with a sparse crowd on opening night. Jeff and Jake were the perfect Jack and Algernon. Everything was stylish, the university theater doing what it should be doing. I do think, however, that I’ve seen this play often enough to last me for a while. Faculty reading at the Laurel Forum yesterday afternoon. I read a few poems and “In an Alternate Universe. . . “ We all remarked at the absence of our colleagues. I told them to get used to it. Reading at Downtown Books and News in the evening. Part of that was good, part wasn’t. At the end of it I was so supernaturally exhausted that I could barely make it back to the car. When I was parking at the hotel, I chatted with the parking attendant, trying to convince her (successfully) that she should let me park there for free. She was funny, and I thought as I drove to my space that here was someone I liked and would probably never see again.

Waking with the thin crescent of the dying moon lagging in the east. Today is the River District Gallery Stroll. It is by no means certain that I will participate.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

November 8, 2012

Read The Sun in Splendor on Kindle yesterday morning. Great relief. There are formatting problems, especially when I quote poetry, but there are no cringe-worthy sections or running sores of bad prose or catastrophic inconsistencies. The book is good. It will find an audience. About that thread of my life, I am happy. As often happens, I did not recognize me in it. I was discovering the author as I discovered the story. Odd.

Chat with J in Johannesburg. He wants t come home; I want to go there.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Dodging the Bullet

I wonder if America appreciates the caliber of the bullet it just dodged. We were invited to step back into a time when poverty was thought of as a judgment on the poor and government was intended to prolong the advantages of the advantaged, when government shrugged at the misfortune of its citizen and sealed itself up in mansions and waited for the cries of the miserable to die away. The only thing that should shame us was that it was so close.

November 7, 2012

Spent a while in a bar taking in the election reports, but I realized dread was overcoming me, so I went home, drank alone, watched videos and went to bed. Woke in the morning with some anxiety. Looked on the internet. Glory, glory. Bless Ohio. Bless Virginia. Bless Florida. What the hell is the matter with North Carolina? Anyway, I’m drawing a long, deep breath. Disaster averted. Pick up the banners. Scorn the media for making us more afraid than we needed to be.

Students spent part of class time last night excoriating Alice Fulton for embodying everything that’s wrong with contemporary poetry. It was cleansing.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

November 6, 2012

Fast day, to give support to the President. That the electorate is capable of terrible mistakes is evident in the recent past. I don’t sense a disaster coming today, but one leaves nothing to chance. Word is that the Romney family owns the ballot machines.

Asked on Facebook why the–to me–conspicuously un-Christlike Romney is considered the “Christian” choice in some quarters. Dear blunt L replies that it’s because Obama is a Muslim and doesn’t give that much to the poor, whereas Romney is a Christian and gives a lot of money to the poor. One shrugs and goes on with one’s day.

How do we recognize irony in, say Hebrew or Sanskrit?

Overseas will be presented in Los Angeles later this month. I asked Danny to go as my spy.

Monday, November 5, 2012

November 5, 2012

Between the time Circe woke me and the time I actually got up, I dreamed that I was starting school again, in a dorm at Johns Hopkins. DJ was my roommate, and we were best friends with some girl I didn’t recognize, and DJ was going on about this mutual friend he was in love with and for some reason I couldn’t believe it, and I had a massage therapist, but I didn’t know where or what my classes were. A kid brought his dog in to play, and I was happy and carefree and irresponsible and had a complicated social life, the way I was not when I really went to college.

If my ears could tell, the Lauridson and the Dove went well. I sang well, anyway. I read poetry with Holly at Malaprop’s just before, and Richard came from that reading. I was happy to see him there; he seemed happy to be there. The reading went well, though I rushed and stumbled. I guess I was worried about getting to church in time. I worry about my poems unless I’m actually reading them. A wall of new tenors, 4 or 5 of them trying to out-diva the other. The effect is really rather thrilling. In two days I’ve been an artist, a plutocrat, a fantasy novelist, a poet, a singer. Today near the end I must be a scholar and teacher, though what comes before is not yet known.

Feeling disengaged. Feeling so obsessed I barely have time for anything else, though what I’m obsessed by is too poorly defined to be approached directly. Not this. . . not that. . . neti. . . neti. .

Sweet C writes from Chicago.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

November 4, 2012

Even with the time change it’s hours before dawn. Cleaned out my e-mail address book. Thought I might write, but did not. Attended the Black Mountain Museum auction last night. I was the highest bidder of the night, on a piece I really liked, one with a snake on it. Couldn’t afford it, and was a little sick to my stomach as I presented my credit card. Bidding fever got me. By my calculation, the bowl I made brought in the second or third-lowest price, as it deserved to, being crude and– this is known only to me–hurried. KK refuses to commit himself on whether my response to his art was acceptable. When I asked he said, “Oh? Did I never respond to that?” which means either he loathed it or hasn’t looked. I plod on either way. Rehearsal for the Lauridson yesterday, performance today. It’s different with organ-–more refined, in a way difficult to explain. Complete. I enjoy singing it, though there is an atmosphere there of defensive singing, whereby the main thing is to escape notice. Headache, and I hadn’t a drop to drink last night. . . after the champagne at the auction . Neither bird nor frog sings in the morning.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Sun in Splendor

Yesterday, late in the afternoon, I published my first e-book. It’s The Sun in Splendor. I loved the book, and though the few people who read it loved it, or said they did, it never found its market. I pined for it, for the people in it whose stories remained untold. So, I got on Amazon, read the directions, and did the deed. My scruples were probably unnecessary– I tell my students that e-publishing is the wave of the future and not to be afraid of it–but scruples they were. I grew up when I did, with the dreams I had, in which there was nothing like the thrill of holding your own book in your hands. I thought for two or three years before I did. When the deed was done, when I’d pressed the button “publish,” a thrill of relief went through me. It’s as though I’d been sick a long time and finally took the pill to cure me. The kindle people warn that it won’t appear for 24 hours, so I wait, resigned to being, probably, my own first customer.

Friday, November 2, 2012

November 2, 2012

People on the roof yesterday. They found a hole hidden under a tile, which, I hope, explains the all but immortal leakage. Took the red leakage bucket away. I am a man of faith.

Cold. I realized how cold it was at the Y when I noticed myself taking off layer after layer in order to put on my work-out clothes, which were themselves almost too chilly to endure. I still have garments left over from Syracuse, and so am prepared for the cold if I think of it in time.

My poor dear New York. It’s hard to imagine such a citadel of civilization being vulnerable to a mere hurricane, but the photos and news reports tell it all. Selfishly, I hope it’s all wiped clean by the time I get there next week.

Night Music splendidly advertised by the Art Center in Carrboro.

Poor Frank is fighting with the landlord over the blinds I bought for the windows of the Apothecary. The landlord isn’t even committed to his position, but fears criticism from his Board that he allowed something to separate that precious space (heretofore empty and unused) from the life of a neighborhood which no longer, with any substance, exists. They’re blinds, which open and close, not walls, I want to say.  It’s good that sweet calm Frank is fighting the battle rather than myself, for I would long ago have laughed in their faces, not because their concern is misplaced, but because the particular application of this concern is ludicrous. The great enemy of non-profits is their Boards. I would have installed the blinds without asking, knowing it was both best and inconsequential, allowing the storm to hit, waver, blow over without delaying me, but Frank is not nearly so far down the road of Macheavellian cynicism as I.

Realization that when I am involved in controversy, it is usually over statements I have not made and opinions I do not hold. Generally I have been as clear as I possibly can be. I blame the tendency now to feel that an instant emotional reaction is equal to a considered analysis. Blasted as a bigot in Facebook for saying that, sometimes, Christian proselytizers mean well. On those almost infinitely rare occasions when I find myself in the role of a confessor, I do. You have tried everything and are still miserable. Try this. 

White privilege! shriek my students at some passage of society which displeases them. They are invariably white. And privileged. Someone has taught them there are certain points at which analysis might stop and hysterical sloganeering begin.

Dark. I’m going to assume it’s a beautiful day. When dawn comes–I’ll probably be at the Y– I’ll come out into it and gasp with wonder. Maybe I’ll be looking at the red tree in the Starbucks parking lot which so warms my remembrance.