Tuesday, December 31, 2013

December 31, 2013

Two excellent days at the studio, whose temperature seemed to normalize while the world’s did not.

Last night there was an odd moment which mixed dream with reality, Circe climbed onto my chest, and went into an ecstasy of face rubbing, hers on mine. I usually prevent this, but I was mostly asleep, and it seemed something she needed to do. It was a mixture of pain and pleasure, for she kneaded my neck with claws that she never learned fully to contract, and sometimes it was quite stinging, though it seems to have left no marks. Each time she rubbed her face on mine, a picture would appear in a little frame, as though she were conveying to me some sort of hidden wisdom, of past lives, or of things a regular cat could not possibly know. That part was beautiful. Prophetic, even.

Last Day, and I’m not in a very nostalgic mood. When I thought of things that happened, I first found Stephen’s refusal to meet me in Dublin, a blow so gratuitous against a relationship so lighthearted and, I thought, pure, that one cannot quite get past it. There must be some meaning there that I have not yet internalized. But I think also of candlelight at the Apothecary, the crying of the muezzin from the minarets of Byzantium, the windy slope of Troy, my Lincoln uttering from the stage, the secret lives of my flowers in the garden. . . . much has been well. Levels of friendship seem to have gone up, levels of anxiety to have gone down. We’ll see. Amy has rounded up a gang to celebrate at Avenue M tonight. It’s not yet daylight. 2013 may have an adventure in it yet.

Last-day passing into evening. 2012 was one of the bad years of my life in spirit. 2013 was much better. I maintain that my sadness is specific and material. I know it, generally, to be a response to affliction from the outside, and that being said, I’m grateful when there’s less of it. I do everything I can to have an upright life. Sometimes it works. It worked fairly well this past twelve months. One prays for strength. One prays for attentiveness, so that when one loses the path, one knows.

Strange comfort from something that happened in the kitchen this morning. At the bottom of a tea pot were patches of mold. Now, nothing had been in the pot but tea, the next thing to water, and yet the little creatures had found something to live on. I took the resourcefulness, the determination to heart. It was a shame to bleach them out, maybe, but I knew, leaving them a film of cold nothing, they would rise again. 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

December 29, 2013

Jacques Gallot on Pandora

Some work at the studio yesterday, but the cold crept soon into the bones. Painting for my new walls.

Enjoyable party at Jack and Leland’s, a costume party to which I wore Charles’ Trinity regalia. Something allowed me to enjoy myself more at such an event than I have in a long time. Ate wrong and much, vomited in the rain in Jack’s driveway. Even that was well.

Slept under the tree, dreaming dreams that were largely about going to fancy hotel bars and not being able to order anything to drink.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

December 28, 2013

Tried the studio yesterday, but it was too cold to work.

W came to my house, and over the unwavering insistence of his three-year-old on being the center of attention, seemed to imply that the property is “perfect.” I showed him everything that I could think of that was wrong with it. Conscience clear there. One sees the channel down which the universe is pouring its energy, and one goes with it, even if it’s not what one had in mind. If it goes according to plan– W’s plan, apparently God’s plan-- it will save everyone a whole lot of bother. Not to be bothered any more than necessary is almost always my plan, too. Will is in the enviable position that whatever I make from 62 is gravy, and I’m not a greedy person anyway. They say that the way to make God laugh is to make plans; it seems that He is making these plans. I’m not laughing exactly, but I am managing a quizzical smile.

Friday, December 27, 2013

December 27, 2013

Fine time in Alpharetta. My nephews seem almost charmed, handsome, affectionate, surrounded by friends, like my students, invigorating to be around. My sister has her achievement as a mother behind her, largely, and the next act all before her. Left Atlanta under an enamel dawn sky with a flock of geese flying over.

I can see the action at my “new” house, people moving around, trucks being loaded up as Stuart moves gradually out. I have always been able to spy on whoever lived there, but only recently did. Not much of a busybody. . . .

Americans baffle Europeans in part because of our willingness to adhere to convictions that have no basis in truth or fact– at which point we make the cleaving unto the wildly false conviction into a kind of religion, the blind adherence a kind of virtue. We hold the dignity of the individual in high esteem– and that is well, though it becomes unwell when part of that respect becomes allowing the individual to say any damn thing he pleases without fear of being called an idiot or a liar. Few Europeans would say, “I’m entitled to my own opinion” and assume that idiocy, depravity, falsehood were part of that entitlement. On the car radio I listened ten minutes of Conservative Republican analysis of a world which does not exist, and the reporter never once said, “Yes, but I was referencing Planet Earth–“ The point they were talking to was how to attract votes from people who hate and fear your principles without changing those principles. I confess that they did have success convincing the American proletariat (and sub-proletariat) that their interests were served by enriching the rich. It’s hard to doubt one’s powers after a coup like that.

Kid wanted to borrow my truck to move. OK. But it took four phone calls and that many missed passes finally to find the address. I was blue with rage. It’s a house, with an address, on a street; find it. I told him to turn south and he turned north. Maybe he was a true American and fighting the elitist notion that one  “south” is better than another.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

December 25, 2013

Lovely service last night, I think.

DD was lurking in the vestibule. When I recognized her I said, “Merry Christmas! How are you!”

“I suck.”

“And how are the kids?”

“Fucked. I’m here to get away from them. Isabella ran after me calling ‘Where are you going?’ but I was damned if she was going to come along.”

It took me a moment to realize I wasn’t hearing the standard holiday chatter. The children are high school drop-out dope heads who tell her to get the fuck out of their rooms. It went on for a while as I tried to pull away. I think she thought she was eliciting sympathy from me, but she was actually telling me how she managed to ruin three beautiful kids.

What is the message I take with that? Fathers, if you’ve married selfish floozies, don’t die too soon? Drank too much, still rifting up Bailey’s, on my way to Atlanta.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve

Late afternoon. Spent the day– how? Many naps, much reading, much listening to Christmas music, a few errands.

The final truth is that the conception of God as a baby in our arms--vulnerable, wholly dependent for a moment on us as we are on Him– is profound almost past contemplation. It rises from the calamities of bad religion like a tree in the forest, gowned in starlight and snow, pure. For one night we are at our best.

December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve. Slept on the sofa under the lit tree. It must have lightened my dreams, though I do not remember them. Downloaded an introductory version of Sibelius, the music composition program, and spent last evening setting one of my poems to music. Sibelius is already less infuriating than Finale. Good hours at the studio yesterday. Might go today, though it’s a little creepy when I’m the only one there. What do I want for Christmas? The same thing I have always wanted. God has stopped asking, he’s so weary of the answer. If he yielded, he wouldn’t have to hear it anymore. W (having seen my announcement on Facebook) wants to look at 62. It’s prudent to sell it fast, of course, though I hadn’t intended to, and I can’t stop thinking of my grieved-for cats lying under the dirt, of the plants I’d thought to watch in their changes through the rest of my life. You can start over. You can weed out the horrible grove of black walnut and have other plants, another garden. In time. It has ever been a joy to me when I’ve been able to do unexpected (by me) good in the lives of others, when something I have done or the moment I have arrived turns out to be excellent luck for someone around me. I feel a little that way now. I am propelled into the new house at a rate so far exceeding my actual desire for it that it occurs to me to think that fate seized the chance to allow Stuart to go home to Mississippi after–according to him–95 showings of the house. W has proposed owner financing, and I will agree to that, and the ways it does him good as a man with a new baby and who knows what kind of credit is incalculable. Good for me, too. . . good for me too. . . . sort of. . . though I feel a little separated from my expected joy. I wonder if some intricate operation in the past was to benefit me? You’d think I’d remember that– or maybe those things are concealed from those they benefit, lest we become dependent on the miraculous.

Monday, December 23, 2013

It Is Like This

It is like this: There is a great house at the edge of the forest. Everyone is trooping into the great house, families, friends, shouting and laughing, carrying baskets of food. When I get to the door there is whispering, and one of them turns and stops me in the doorway and says, “We have prepared something special for you.” She leads me to a little cottage. It is lovely, and warm, and has everything in it. She says, “This is yours.” Then she turns and goes back to the shining house and leaves me alone in my cottage at the edge of the woods. It takes time to realize what has happened. Everything is lovely, comfortable, but I have been rejected, exiled. It’s empty but for my little spirit. It begins to snow, and I go back to the house, but the door is locked and the curtains are drawn and the sound of mirth inside is so loud they can’t hear me. I stand in the deepening snow, not certain whether I should return to the cozy, lonely little cottage, or strike out for the deep forest.

December 23, 2013

December 23rd has always been one of my favorite days. Church yesterday, thinking myself in unusually clear voice. Neighborhood party at the house right across from mine over the alley. Nice, nice people. The house decorated like a magazine. After about half an hour I realized how deeply, broadly, permanently I am alienated from standard suburban couple culture. Hung out with the household kid, a student at AP State, with whom I had something in common. His brother used to shy baseballs against the cottage. Drank diet coke at a hysterical rate.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

December 22, 2013

Dragged the furnace guy to 51 to look over problems the inspector found. Stuart stood out in the rain, but I invited him in, and I think it was a good idea. I mentioned to him, conversationally, what the inspector had found and he nodded and agreed to fix them all– the furnace alone will cost $400. Some he didn’t know about–such as the fact that one of the burners on the stove was out. Karen was a little apprehensive, for there is a process whereby she gives the list to his realtor and bla and bla and bla, but a man can feel the vibration from another man, and I guessed the direct approach would be better. I’m sorry we didn’t meet before this. We are near neighbors and I think we could have been friends.

Chunk of the afternoon with Casey. We ate downtown at Over Easy (whom I have always loved because they found my lost cellphone, and went to some trouble returning it to me) and talked, talked, talked. He filled in the blanks on whole epics of local theater gossip, and on the unsuspected turbulence of his own life. I admire this. I’d no more talk about the dark of my life in a casual conversation than I would fly to the moon. I felt honored and–what?– brotherly when he did. The cook at Over Easy is Ben, a former student, who bought me a mimosa. Casey and I ranged up and down Lexington finishing our Christmas shopping.  I was happy being with him. The lady in the store talked me in to buying my sister a pretty handbag (“All women love bags”), my realizing afterward that I’ve never seen her with a handbag. Maybe it was for the lack of one. . . .

Sat at my table deep into the night reading Tolkien. Something's gotten into my throat and I'm barking like a seal.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

December 21, 2013

Up in the deep dark of Longest Night. Couperin in solemn mode on Pandora, which for some reason is exactly right.

Lay on the sofa and read last night. It reminded me a boyhood. My adult life has been too– too corrupt in its notions of “achievement” and “time well spent” for much of that. Peaceful.

Settled down and took a bunch of documents to Cameron. Gave in and sold the rest of the equities I needed for the downpayment, which will be hell with taxes, but Cameron seemed so wistful and disappointed that all the data would not be in the reports of a single month. After you say, “well. . . maybe. . . “ it’s all about pleasing other people.

Maybe the rest I have to say will wake with the pivotal day

Friday, December 20, 2013

December 20, 2013

Though I personally stumbled more than once, Cantaria and our guests from Greenville sang beautifully last night to an absolutely packed-to-the-rafters house. Paul said my contra-bass in the Tchesnakov was “seamless” and “perfect tone.”  It is his ear one wishes to please. Interesting moment when I was dressing and put on my new tuxedo for the first time, and discovered that though the pants were marked with the right waist size, the actual cut was about four inches too small. Thank God for a random pair of black pants. I do remember picking up the tux–after extensive fitting a few weeks before– and, being asked if I wanted to try it on, saying, “Oh, I’m sure it will be all right.” Anything to cut out a step. One comes up against one’s faults from time to time massed and concentrated. One problematic aspect of my character is that I’m sometimes finished with a process before it decides it’s finished. I refused to revise my dissertation the “one last time” Dr Sutton called for. Thank God the rest of my committee were behind me on that.  If Karen and Cameron were not prodding from their separate corners, I’d refuse the process involved with buying a new house. I neglect to try on clothes, sure that it will be all right. The possibility of bending the process to my urgency now is worth to me the possibility of mishap further down the road. I never once in my life have said, “I wish I’d had more time for that.” I descend into rage at the extenuation of publication, of production, seeing where it will end and having no patience with the road that gets me there. Usually this results in unthinking depression that sends me to bed after a storm of rage. Sometimes I am able to think, “you’re an impatient brat.” I consider the world and myself as equal partners, that things should manifest somewhere in the middle of my tempestuous need and its glacial disregard. It’s only fair, right? It doesn’t work that way. Even as I write words of resignation, I feel my mind seeking for a new strategy, a new approach to circumvent the process and arrive at the goal even one second faster. I tell God horrible things in order to make Him hurry. I want the things I want more than I want peace, so there is not much calm in the forecast.

Stan working at Avenue M, telling me about his wife after Mickey. He is older than his new wife’s father. I’d brag too.

Later: OK, so the tuxedo pants have adjusting buckles on either side and fit perfectly well. In my rage I didn't even see them. Calm down. . .  take a deep breath . . . .

Thursday, December 19, 2013

December 19, 2013

Went to bed in rage, woke in mirth, with no idea of what happened in the night to turn things around. The day has spent its energies hammering me back down, though. Inspection for 51 revealed a whole lot of problems. They mostly sounded minor– and both Karen and the inspector agreed they were– but they have to be addressed, and I left the house discouraged, exhausted, no longer enthusiastic about the purchase. Returned home to find that the cleaning ladies had managed to flip the circuit breakers. Can’t even imagine how that happened. How did they clean house with no power? A guy from Hollywood wants me to invest in a film called The Stone Pony. Email about things still on my check list for the loan, and the spike of rage almost undid me. There’ s diligence, and then there’s self-indulgence and stupidity. I am almost literally, physically incapable of fulfilling tasks that I know to be redundant or irrelevant, and it’s going to be interesting to see how all these details unfold. I am one who will leave a cart of groceries if the line’s too long.  They do not understand how easily I’d bid the dumbass process behind and just live in this house forever, which I was at one time resigned to doing. Played with Stuart’s dogs. Excellent exercise. The cats, in contrast, are forever tempting one to nap. Concert in three hours. I’ve practiced, but the distraction from other sides are so great that nothing sticks.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

December 18, 2013

Good workouts in recent days. Feel great after. Yesterday I drove to the Arboretum, toured there a little, and then plunged down onto the Silver Creek Road. The winter sun was hot on the south side of the hill; the bottom of the valley was 10 degrees cooler, and hosted a stiff breeze. Why it should be windy just above the creek and calm on the hillsides I don’t know. Long since I’d wandered there– maybe half a year. When I was atop the hill, wandering around near the visitors’ center, there was one other visitor, a tall thin man in a green coat. My memories of the place are such a mixture of the natural and the erotic that I slipped effortlessly back into that mode, and only barely stopped myself from throwing him a heavy cruise. That he was doing the same thing was clear. What was once a very familiar set of responses seemed foreign then, and awkward. Crept into some of my old secret spots, and had a striking vision in one. I’d shouldered through a rhododendron thicket down to creek that flows into Bent Creek from a hill to the south. I was there a while, and when I turned to go back, I saw the little woodland meadow through a frame of leaves, like a wild creature peering from deep cover into the abode of men. The perspective felt familiar. It felt natural, as though once upon a time that had been my customary mode. Blaze of pain from my plantars wart at every third step. One plunges on.

In the evening it was the second part of Jackson’s The Hobbit. Taken purely as itself, I suppose it was a good movie, though it departed too often, too gratuitously, too arrogantly from Tolkien to please me much. Why correct the masters when they’re always better than you are?

Monday, December 16, 2013

December 16, 2013

Full Sunday. Played St. Nicholas in the morning to the usual overflowing house. Cantaria open dress in the afternoon was, I think, the most successful dress rehearsal we’ve ever had, maybe BECAUSE there was an audience. We’re better in front of an audience then we ever have reason to expect. My phlegmy throat affected things less than I had feared. Chili at Avenue M with the usual crowd expanded by convivial strangers. I give it full marks. I was happy. Though my feet hurt. I expect there’s going to be a “though” from now on.

Read online about the possibility of transplanting peonies. It’s yes. One great anxiety taken away.

I’ve been telling people I’ve lived in this house for 18 years or so, but then I remembered that Jocasta lived here all her life, and she died at 20. Glanced through old journals to discover I moved into 62 Lakeshore on April 1, 1989. Twenty four years. Dear God. Longer than anywhere else, by far. To break that record now defies plausibility

I’ve been telling people I’ve lived in this house for 18 years or so, but then I remembered that Jocasta lived here all her life, and she died at 20. Glanced through old journals to discover I moved into 62 Lakeshore on April 1, 1989. Twenty four years. Dear God. Longer than anywhere else, by far. To break that record now defies plausibility

Sunday, December 15, 2013

December 15, 2013

Christmas choral on Pandora.

Finishing polish (for now) on the novel in the AM. Extra rehearsal in the afternoon, which was infuriating but, honestly, necessary. My throat phlegm was not entirely gone; may it be today when I must not only sing a concert and a service, but bellow out the greetings of Saint Nicholas. Party finally at Jack and Leland’s. I was in a receptive mood, so that was just as jolly as it was meant to be. I meant not to announce the purchase of a house, but the word leaked out. Rich knows the place, as I do, as “the murder house,” and
was in it when it was going through one of its renovations.

What if all these choices I'm making without time to consider or conviction to support turn out well?

A Visit from Saint Nicholas

Saint Nicholas I am, Saint Nicholas is me.
The name means”To the People, Victory.”
Agios Nickolaus is how it sounds in Greek,
But Santa Claus in the language that you speak.
The folks back home, who’d seen me little,
Who’d seen me sick,
Probably just called me Nick.

I was born in Anatolia, the Turkey that you know,
Seven hundred sixty seven years ago.
It was the Roman Empire then
Ruled by stern and warlike men.
We all waited to hear what was said and done
By the bighsots in Byzantium.
My father had a fleet of ships at sea,
and I could get the sailors to take me
Past the islands and to the far lands,
come back with spice and jewels in our hands.
So, in times to come, when people knew my name,
the patron saint of sailors and fisherman I became.
When there was danger or a storm at sea
they’d raise their voices and call on me,
and I’d save them, floating on the clouds to see ‘em,
If you believe the paintings in the museum.
All those boats and all those fish
meant just one thing: my folks were rich.
My loving papa died, and on that day
I began to try to give it all away.
There was so much it took a while
To make reduction in the glittering pile.

The story is told (though not by me)
--In language quite flowery--
of three girls in the town who could not wedded be
unless they had a dowry.
A dowry in those unenlightened lands
is what a father paid a lad to take a daughter off his hands.
Anyway, without the dowry, without a penny in their purse,
the unwed girls would turn to begging, or to worse.
So on three nights on my white horse
Quiet as a mouse, of course, of course
I rode by their house and over the wall
tossed bags of treasure, with coins big and small,
gold and silver, and certificates of deposit,
which I had in stacked up in my Anatolian closet.
Some say the bags fell down the chimney
and landed with a crash, by jiminy.
Some say just as I was riding by
The sisters were hanging stockings up to dry
and the thrown gold filled them up as mothers would
one day fill your stocking with things rich and good.
Maybe all of this happened. Maybe some of it did
I didn’t know, because I ran and hid.
A giver must give without blare and fuss,
And above all, be anonymous.
But people guessed, and year by year.
As bills were paid and meals set down on tables,
they smiled and whispered, sketching in the fables,
“Nicholas Gift-Giver has been here.”

You’d think that human kindness was enough,
but those days of yore were really rough:
pestilence, fevers, upheavals, persecution,
blasphemies, heresies, Diocletian!
I was a bishop, as you recall,
and had to find a remedy for it all.
One year there was famine on the land,
and a local butcher, lacking cows and chickens,
to the butchery of children turned his hand,
little boy cutlets, tiny tot hamburgers and chitlins.
I tasted something funny in the morning fry
and, vestments flapping, to the butcher shop did fly,
and to that horrible practice put an end.
I even made the dead boys live again,
brought them singing anthems, skull, foot, and spine
out of the butcher’s pickling brine.
So, are you the sausage on the plate before you?
Give me the word. I will restore you.

I did some bishopy things as well.
At Nicea before the Emperor Constantine,
before all the priests the world had ever seen,
I gathered to myself the righteous moxie
to champion the cause of orthodoxy.
I set the heresiarchs in their place.
And reputedly punched Arius in the face.
I guess I came through in the clutch.
But, do you care about that? I don’t so much.
I like the part about the gifts the best.
That made me Father Christmas to the West.

I see worried faces! My time is almost done.
This much of the Christmas tale I’ve spun;
That much more remains to tell. I scratch the surface.
But some stories go untold on purpose,
so you at some unfolding hour can find
fresh matter to delight your mind.
Twenty centuries I’ve done good in secret, unaware:
Two I’ve flown with reindeer through the winter air.
It’s OK. Things change. I understand.
Everything’s at imagination’s command.
But remember this! Saint Nicholas I am,
whose blessing calms the waters,
whose prayer brought life back to the dead,
who wore a bishop’s crown upon his head,
whose gold gets husbands for the poor man’s daughters.
Who smiles at every secret act of charity
And every wish fulfilled beneath twinkling tree.
My spirit governs for a thousand Decembers.
I brings good things to the person who remembers
the poor, the hungry, the afraid,
the little souls for whom this world was made.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

December 14, 2013

Extraordinary dream. I was the patriarch of a giant extended Jewish clan. We had recently moved to new land, and at the same moment an important archaeological find had merged under the same land. I had to oversee the construction of our buildings, make sure the dig and the construction did not clash, keep everyone on both sides, family and scientists, happy. People would send me slides of things they had done and I would have to bray “I like it! I like it!” If I didn’t actually like it, I’d have to send men in the middle of the night and put it back in order, and then blame the diggers. I saw myself in a mirror. I was big, with flaming red hair. I looked like Fagin.

Packing at the most minuscule intensity. People take moving as a time to condense and simplify. Not me. I want to take every book and knick knack with me.  I want to be surrounded by the gleanings of my life, such as they are.

The ice surface on the backyard water garden is strangely rippled and bunched, like a vast piece of land. How that can be achieved in an area smaller than a bathtub I don’t know.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Wrote my address down at "51 Lakeshore" for the first time. Much could go wrong yet, but I m casting my bread upon the waters.

December 13, 2013

Sang yesterday at the Asheville Country Club. I have an unusual case of laryngitis, so the verb “to sing” was a courtesy, but there was no other bass and I could provide the line so long as it was a firm forte. Delicious buffet.

Went to Cameron’s office and signed about a million documents. When I bought this house I had no down payment, a mediocre (to bad) credit rating, and $60,000 of credit card debt, and it was far easier than this. He explains that the change is because the banks screwed up so deeply in the recent past, but I don’t see why I should be expected to compensate for that. It wasn’t the making of risky loans that brought the house down, but the selling and reselling of them so that the ones who made them would never felt the repercussion of their failure. I rebel at their wanting to see every detail of what I know to be both private and irrelevant. My secret strength is that I would be almost as happy for the deal not to go through. When I reach the limit of compliance, I will simply stop, and let the outcome be what it is. I dwell on this more than I need to, for I have delivered myself over to upheaval and disorder, who spend so much energy insuring peace and productive order. More simply put, I am not used to people making that sort of demand on me, making me prove what I say, automatically assuming I’m a fraud bent on the illicit. Happily, I can conceive of this happening no further time.

I consider that the trees I will acquire are the trees that brim with bluebirds.

December 12, 2013

At 6:45 this morning–right now, in fact, I achieved the remake of Night, Sleep, and the Dreams of Lovers. Heat hissing in the registers.

I have given myself over for a while to distraction. Every element of this house purchase thinks it needs my attention, dotting this i, crossing this t. Some of it, of course is due diligence. Some of it is silly, or a ploy to get as many palms crossed as possible. There is humor in the scrutiny and levels of proof needed for my little purchase, when the same banks will go out and throw billions at uncertain deals, if more profitable than mine, also infinitely more likely to fail.  What absurdities can be uttered by straight faces! What ludicrous concerns can be presented as–somehow–needful!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

December 10, 2013

OptionsXpress finally having allowed my money to arrive safely, I went to the little BB&T Branch and bought this house. I paid it off sixteen years early by any calculation, more than twenty years early if we count the re-financing a couple years back. It would all have sweeter savor if I had only done that, and not plunged immediately into the buying of a new one. I hate fuss, and there will be nothing but fuss for the foreseeable future.

Adam Blake came and flew the leaves out of my gutters. He is the first person who knew.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

December 9, 2013

Two hours spent filling out papers, signing papers, having papers explained in Karen’s office drained me. I was pretty much off the idea of buying a house. Around 5, Karen called and said they’d accepted my offer. I realized my emotion had not been discouragement, but anxiety. I realized this because when they said “yes,” I was full of joy.

Monday, December 9, 2013

December 9, 2013

Long Sunday, full of singing. Someday I will look back on such as the perfect days.

Not perfect for everyone. During break at Cantaria, B passed out at the top of the steps and fell resoundingly. The EMTs were called. An on-the-spot diagnosis was a broken tibia, Whatever it was, we could hear him groaning through the closed door. B emails this AM to say he's all right, and unbroken, a sweet levity in his message.

Thomas’ sermon made the wheat-from-the-chaff prophesy of John make sense for the first time. I used to think the wheat and the chaff were different people. He made me see that John means the grown-out-of parts and the fulfillment of the same people.

Early to bed, early to rise, with an entire workday between me and noon.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

December 8, 2013

Squalls of tremendous dark rain. I would have thought it too cold to rain.

Working hard on a revision of Night, Sleep, and the Dreams of Lovers. How much time needs to pass before it is fully evident what needs to come out?

The purchase of the new house tosses over and over in my mind. Adventure is on one side, repose on the other. I think, though, it is full steam ahead, so much so that I’m impatient with “due diligence” and the leisurely course of monies from one account into another.

Lessons and Carols last evening. I felt strangely disengaged, perhaps because my stomach was perilously upset. I know what causes it, and yet I do it anyway. There must be a word for that. Anyway, I sang distractedly, and made mistakes I’d not made before. Rushed home, got relief, thought I’d spend the rest of the evening writing. Instead, obeyed the call to Avenue M, where the gang was gathered. Drank delicious cider. In bed monstrous early, up now monstrous early, which is the way I like it.

Finally read the essay– it’s a courtesy to call it that– against Apothecary in the latest Metabolism. Before I’d read it I’d advised Frank to leave it be, as it was likely so trifling nobody would pay it heed. I was right. It allowed undergraduate white boys to strut their liberal credentials, and nothing much else. The entire magazine was pretty awful, badly designed, the pieces badly chosen, the poetry unreadable, the editorial attitude manifestly snotty. I know the editors enough to know they’re still in their “anything goes and all things are equal” phase, but it’s a shame to waste resources like that. Will anybody pick up the next Metabolism? As an educator I want to get my hands on those boys and make sure they understand that groupspeak– the uncritical mouthing of the truisms of your clan– is just as bad in your mouth as in your enemy’s. Your thoughtless piety is not necessarily any better than Michele Bachman’s or Ted Cruz’s The essay was a compendium of unconsidered dogma picked up in a social science class and never digested, never, as it should, have been, spat out. I would point out that the “science” part of “social science” or “political science” is but a bitter courtesy. They got everything wrong, counting on the piously nodding heads of their compatriots to conceal that fact until it all got into print. Finally, if they worked themselves into a lather over Apothecary’s being a white inroad into a black neighborhood, it’s well that their research was too shoddy to uncover that the Lyric Opera has it headquarters in the same building, surely the whitest organization in the city. That would have made them apoplectic– if the end had been arguing for racial justice. The honest end was to take down visionary and energetic young men who did something worthwhile as they sat around doing nothing. Can’t let that go without a visit to the woodshed.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

December 7, 2013

Scurry to get financing together for the house at 51. There seems to be little doubt that I can get a mortgage–“at about any size you want,” said the man at the mortgage service. As soon as a check arrives at Toyota and money arrives in my account from the sale of equities and I obliterate my present mortgage, I’m debt-free. If I read the account right, my down-payment could be more than half the cost of the new house. But the man’s check-list of proofs I must offer is long and, in some places, esoteric, and maybe Karen will find something horribly wrong in the midst of due-diligence. Sleepless part of the night worrying about this an and that, mostly about THIS house. I’m not going to sell it soon– do I have a large domicile crossing a street, office in one place, living in another? Do I fix it up for tenants? Being a landlord is a pain in the ass, even when the tenant is–as is my case– sane and undemanding. The further one might not be. The problem is, of course, my gardens. Can I leave them? I never thought a problem like this would arise in my life.

Met Stuart, the present owner, in Fresh Market last night, never having seen him before round about so far as I can remember. His realtor had told him the story of the murder.

Maud’s cry from the hall sounded melancholy. I say, “We have no melancholy here.”

Matthew Locke on Pandora.

Friday, December 6, 2013

December 6, 2013

Went to bed weirdly and, at moments, violently ill last night. I assumed I was in for a long bout of it, but I rise this dark morning well. Can exhaustion really manifest that violently? Was it something I ate? Yesterday was hugely eventful, and maybe my body was asking me to shut down for a while.

Before the Humanities exam one of my problem students came to me– a big boy who slept through most of the discussion sections, but who attended faithfully– fighting back tears. He failed every exam and had not done his first paper, but I’d told him that if he got all his work end by the end of the semester, I would pass him with a D, hoping he had gotten SOMETHING out of it through faithful attendance. He came without the ancient paper, without the journal-- which was the big class project-- and without a single cultural event, on the day of the exam, to plead some sort of case, though what exactly was hard to tell. He started to blame me, saying that he hadn’t understood the assignments and the syllabus “wasn’t clear.” A sharp look from me made him add, “but I could have asked for help, and I never did.” He went through every twist and turn of apologetic self-loathing, as if I were going to take his failure personally. Finally he said, “You gave me every chance to pass this class, and I didn’t. I’m sorry.” This dwells in my mind because there are certain kinds of helplessness I don’t understand. The remedy for this was so easy, the consequences so hard. What can be going through people’s minds? You screw up; I give you a clear path to follow to amend the screw-up; you do nothing. I can understand this if you don’t really care, but then you come to the office in tears, as though you hadn’t seen it coming. I have taught for 33 years, and I have never gotten this. God must say this sort of thing a billion times a day.

The handsome carpet men came from Istanbul, and I have 3 new (old ) carpets, one of which was a gift, and new embroidered pillow cases, which were also a gift. Spent far too much money, but have no buyer’s regret, so I won’t worry about it. Ann came to the party and bought a runner for her house. She was very knowledgeable.

December 5, 2013

Prune the roses back to a little above the ground. Check on Lawrence the Fish and the tadpoles in their little unnatural ponds, thinking I'm ready for winter.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

December 4, 2013

Folie d’Espana on Pandora

Went to see the house across the street, the murder house. The realtor didn’t know it was the murder house and was not particularly happy to hear it. That just makes it more interesting to me. I thought it must be red-necky inside, but nothing could be further from the truth. It is rustic/elegant, with light pouring in from all sides.. I’m sad that I didn’t know the current owner better than I did- which is to say, not at all, for he is a manly and cultivated man. It suits me the best of any house I have seen yet, though the land is not better–a little worse–than what I have now. Something in the prospect of, maybe, owning that house lit a fire under me. I sold Diageo and paid of my house. I am now the sole owner of this property, bank go to hell. The actual check has not been written, for one must wait for the money to drift from one place to another. Makes you wonder why something that was not thought of for five years became suddenly, upon a winter’s afternoon, necessary. I have searched my heart for regrets, and I have none. I can buy this house outright and put a down payment on a new one (should that finally happen) and still have more money than I got from my father five years ago. I am even reconciled to the loss of the new house, already have plans for bringing this one up to standards without too much turmoil. It’s odd how you can think and think on an issue and arrive nowhere until a particular moment, as if that moment had been chosen long ago and nothing was going to move it.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

December 3, 2013

Put up the Christmas tree yesterday, a thing remarkable because doing the same task one year ago was weighed down with gloom and despair, an empty chore done only that I might not regret not having done it.  This year it was–just putting up the Christmas tree, tiring, but almost joyful. Flood of memories. I remember every ornament that went on our tree when I was ten years old. I remember at what point we would have hot chocolate. I remember my father’s drill of what went on before what. The light reflector were a very big thing with him. He must have seen a tree burn up once. They did give the tree the look of a child’s drawing of a constellation.

Bought T’s book on Kindle. I can’t imagine. . . .

“Giving Tuesday,” predictably, about a million organizations have their virtual hands out, wanting to be given to.

Monday, December 2, 2013

December 2, 2013

Eventful day. I began marketing The One with the Beautiful Necklaces in the same old hit-or-miss way. No rejections in, now, 20 hours.  Knocked myself out on the rowing machine at the Y. Coffee with Tom, who (defending his long crush on Andi McDowell) didn’t believe I was never star-struck, and kept naming names until he proved his point by lighting on Colin Farrell. Then a tour of White Bridge Farm with DJ and Karen. It was gorgeous, but a horrible truth entered my mind. I may have let this dream go a little too long. I can no longer do everything I once did. Can I keep up with a farm, or even a very large property? People my age are downsizing rather than trading up. I had to baby my knees climbing the stairs to the bedrooms (I blamed the rowing machine, but--) and I was glad when the sloping path to the road was over. The goats screamed disturbingly at us, and the goose was a ball of indignation. I’d like to have animals. . . I’d like to have a lot of things. . .  The days of infinite possibilities are over.

We bought Christmas trees, and set them up with unusually tedious effort. Mine is up, and pretty, and I am ready for the onslaught of merriment.

December 1, 2013

Coffee with Adam K as he swept from Waynesville to Greensboro. The world opens for him like a flower. Sometimes you like at a life and say, “This is working right,” and no amount of gratitude is excessive.

Ran into E and his two sons at the Christmas store in Biltmore. Knew there was a reason why I went in there.

Day warm as spring. I sat on a bench at church in my winter coat, soaking it in like an old bear.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

November 30, 2013

Awakened by a complicated THUMP that I assume was a limb falling from the sweet gum. Too dark to look yet. Maybe a really chubby squirrel. It didn’t come through the roof or rip out the power lines, so I’ll let it rest until dawn.

Heron standing in the cold lake when I went to the studio. I tried to think of some way of inviting him into the warm. The cats would not like it.

Days of really concentrated writing since the last day of class Tuesday. Drawing in a deep breath to plunge into the next project. I long to clean house but there’s nothing I want to throw away, in particular. My propensity for collecting little boxes means I have a whole lot more places to put things that I have things to put. I want to shop but there’s nothing I want to buy. I want to have an adventure.

Friday, November 29, 2013

November 29, 2013

In two days I rewrote The One with the Beautiful Necklaces top to bottom. I was happy for those two days.

Quiet day after Thanksgiving. Reading The Hobbit in the café like a regular person.

Maud balanced on the arm of the chair, in the hollow of my arm. She must feel every letter I type.

Diaphanous moths dancing in the light over disintegrating snow.

Whatever prize there is for loving those who mistreat you, for loving him who mistreats you, I expect to have at the end of days.
November 28, 2013

The Pensacola Little theater has chosen “Alfie and Greta” to be part of their “Short Attention Span Theater” festival in February. I was due for some good news.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

November 27, 2013

Pretty dusting of snow. The motion lights on the garage think it’s a body passing.

Thought upon waking: If I were married I’d have to get out of bed to fart.

Evening now. The Spirit of Revision passed over me, and I have written all the day through. Praising the bright spirit, praising the dark.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

November 26, 2013


Things fell apart for my playwriting students. We couldn’t find a venue for our annual public presentation, so we didn’t have one, but instead met among ourselves in the Humanities Lecture Hall to act our ten minute plays to one another. That being said, the afternoon was lively and the plays hit the highest corporate level ever, one of them being presentable to the public under full sail. In the end, one’s success as a teacher lies wholly in one’s effect on the students, and that is the hardest thing to judge. I’ve never gotten one of those university teaching awards (this continues to baffle me, especially considering who has) so I rely on the anecdotal. I want to say that the evidence of anecdote is good, but what if only the people who like one mention their experience? One does one’s best. One bends a little to the wind of criticism. One holds firm when that is a false wind. One gropes forward, as in all things. Me, I’d like to do a little less groping and a little more knowing for sure.

Black rain on the windows. It is too early for the news– the radio plays those in-depth programs about obscure matters from the BBC that I remember disturbingly from nights of sickness. I wait to hear how the day goes, whether the weather is a disaster or things might go as planned, the last day for this objectively quite short (subjectively quite long) semester.

Monday, November 25, 2013

November 25, 2013

Dream: in order to pass Mrs. Smith’s 8th grade class, I had to turn in one more assignment that I had neglected for fifty years to do. I resented it. Miraculously, though, I remembered the questions, and sat down with a pad of yellow legal paper and began to write.

Cantaria not that far from being ready for our concert. I enjoyed rehearsal last night, except for the vicarious irritation of seeing our director irritated. The bright boy with his hand in the air in the 5th grade never quite grows up, and we have a couple of those. Steve’s face creases with patient agony. Love feeling the contra B’s coming out of me in the Chesnokov.

Email from Germany inquiring after Tristan Foisson. Blast from the past, and among the oddest of the pasts. Despite all that came after, he was the greatest celebrity ever to sit upon my two-sofas-back sofa.

November 24, 2013

Wind howling outside and steam vocalizing in the registers at exactly the same pitch.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

November 23, 2013

Woke with a spark of energy and well-being that had been missing in recent days. One always looks for cause, but it may simply be the ineffable cycles of life, causeless and unpreventable. Drove south to Togar’s and bought two beautiful Turkish rugs, as I was suddenly filled with an (again) inexplicable urge to do. DJ and I arrived at Biltmore Station (dinner and drinks) in time for a tiny Christmas parade and various festivities in that odd little community. Leland has been repairing DJ’s floor, so that it gains in livability what it loses in character. I decree that today shall be filled with achievement. It is still two hours until dawn.

Friday, November 22, 2013

November 22, 2013

Dream: I lived in a city where a hidden lake lay just below the pavement. There were rumors that crocodiles had invaded the under-water. I was walking with my cat when I decided to lift a manhole cover to see if I could see a crocodile. One appeared quickly. The cat came over to sniff at the hole, and I thought nothing of it until the crocodile made a lightning lunge and swallowed my cat. I knew nothing could be done, but I refused to accept it. The rest of the dream involved vengeance against the crocodiles, and the attempt to get everyone as stirred up as I. Maud scratching (as she does) at the wall formed in my mind the image of the dream-cat scratching inside the crocodile’s belly.

To school last night to see the drama department’s Columbinus, about the Columbine massacre. The did themselves proud. There are problems with the script, but one could hardly imagine a more heartfelt and direct realization of it. My student Adam played one of the murdering boys with an intensity that would make it on Broadway. I should have stayed for Ann’s discussion afterward but my stomach wouldn’t let me. Also met an interesting man, and expert on Horton Foote, who had driven from Tennessee to see the show, but had to rush out on him too.

In our moment’s intermission chat, Ann had a story about having been precipitated to retirement by an implacable student who’d received a “D” from her, and proceeded to harass her and the Provost and even the Chancellor about it. Lawsuits were threatened. It was one of those moments when you feel you have been Ancient-Marinered, for the Provost’s having changed one of my grades (arbitrarily, it seemed to me) still rankles, still prevents me from respect for her as an administrator, but Ann’s story turns the trespass from malice to superabundance of caution, and that makes a whole lot better sense. Maybe I can leave it alone now.

The Assassination Day. I don’t know that I have feelings about the Kennedy tragedy that other people don’t have or haven’t expressed. I do remember that Mrs Otto printed a story that I wrote about it in the Hyre Hawk, which made me famous for a while. The first words of the first line were “The crimson hues of a winter dawn. . . “ I remember that. I’d say, finally,  that it was the first time I realized history could invade my little and safe life.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

November 21, 2013


The computer restarts itself in the dead of night, ostensibly to install updates. Each time the end of some files–this one, for instance-- are bitten off, and I rack my brain for what I might have written. I do not want updates on anything, in any quarter of my life.

Brief discussion with K about feuds in the department. I ask who hates and resents me, and she says “No one. People do note how you don’t serve on committees or any of that.”  I manage a wry smile, thinking of all the times I’ve wondered, “What’s wrong with me? Why am I never put on a committee or elected to Faculty Senate or anything?” What a world this is. Athena asks, “Why don’t I ever get any of the boys?”

Darkish rain before full night.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

November 20, 2013

Philip Glass on Pandora

Spiderman closes in January. I’m moderately glad I saw it first.

Drinks with Jesse to speed her on her way to the next endeavor.

Woozy enough in the AM to cancel the one class, improved through the day, though woozy again now. Morning sickness? Maybe I didn’t drink enough before retiring. Still, a sensation of spiritual well-being beneath the physical curiosity.

Good painting. Good napping. Disaster for my playwrights, as we waited too long and there are no venues open for us to do our plays in. Disappointing, but a relief in a variety of ways. As one ages one must force back the perception that it is easier to do nothing than to do something.

Dark outside, absolute. A dark door that is all the world.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

November 19, 2013

Yesterday a fine day, which ended finely with B and me sitting bundled up behind the Wedge drinking beer with the trains going by and Venus in splendor above the tracks. We wore away the subject of university politics, and as B is deep in the councils of the great and powerful and I am not, I learned much, and he got to hear me say “no shit!” repeatedly. The recent beat-down of the senseless ILS almost didn’t happen, due to the bitter championship of some whose affection for the program was both incomprehensible and never fully justified. It was a bad idea from the start. All educational directives arising outside the faculty are bad.  You’d think people would notice that truth and give it up Everyone knew ILS was a fail from the day it was imposed, except those who invented it. I had a student come to my office and say, “Is it true?” and upon hearing that it was, that the requirements for graduation had gone back to something sensible, said, “I can finish a whole year earlier now.” I used to think of myself as pretty savvy politically, but I’m not. When things are demonstrably unreasonable. I can’t get beyond that fact. I can’t use them as a tool or a bargaining chip, or defend them with much vehemence, no matter how the sides are drawn. I couldn’t use procedure as a way of blocking progress, or of preventing repentance.

Took B to my studio by night. I’m almost never there in full  night. It’s magical.

Came home and found myself invited to read and sign at AWP in Seattle, decided to say yes.

Monday, November 18, 2013

November 18, 2013

Turbulent waking after a strange, long dream. I’d parked to meet a friend at a restaurant, and when I came out my car had been smashed on both sides. I was sure it was my car, because that’s where I remembered parking it. My key even worked in the door, though the car was white, whereas mine was red. I went to look for someone in authority, which became a search– protracted, and through acres of abandoned industrial lots where one might conceivably park– for my real car. I eventually found it. Sweaters were piled on and around it, as though someone had been having an outdoor sale. The parking attendant found me instantly (she was British). She joked around and reduced the price of the fee.

Met the steam locomotive again at the Biltmore crossing after church. I blessed it.

Disappointing senior reading. Some sameness has crept in, that we used to avoid.

Rose this morning to go to the Y. The morning was perfect in beauty. The stars twinkled, making the clouds vaguely purple under them. The clear big moon shone directly down the stone path I had to take to the alley. All was, for those moments, perfect.

Hit it hard at the Y. I was having breathing issues on the cross trainer, but there was no pain and my heart rate was steady, so I kept on. Regularized my breath. At the end I felt so good it was almost inexpressible– like I was some serpent that had left its old skin against a rock on the forest, gleaming out now into the first rays of morning.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

November 17, 2013

Marin Marias on Pandora

Great Saturday at the studio. I was there before dawn, and again late in the afternoon, making works on paper, which is rare for me, but somehow seemed right for the moment. I was very happy, and the hours flew. On the tracks for some reason was a genuine stream locomotive, blasting dragonish steam out of every crack and singing a song I hadn’t heard in years, deep and high at once, melodious, almost organic. It was pulling a line of passenger cars which looked empty from where I was. It was magnificent. It seemed almost the right thing to do to pursue it to Marshall and see it again there, but there were too many obstacles.

Desperate to redecorate, but having no idea what I want other than what I have.

Janet said my play hadn’t “grabbed” her when she read it to herself. (Though it did when we read it aloud)  For a time I follow the impulse to weight the “grab” quotient in my pieces, realize that grabbing or failing to grab myself is not the proper test.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

November 16, 2013

Visited Peter’s class to talk about Hamlet, a sort of annual event now. What happened was that I learned about Hamlet. The classroom was full of boys. How does he do that?

There are two visions of my life: the one other people have (so they say) of fulfilment and achievement; the one I have of frustration and emptiness. I don’t insist that my view is right, only that I wonder why I have it if it isn’t. To spur me on to greater things? Then who is the spur-master and what are the greater things?

Whole Saturday with not a minute of it pre-scheduled. I quiver with delight, bid the dark to stay a little longer so I can busy about before the others awake.

Vast woodpeckers making the bird feeders sway when they alight.

Tried to get to Rome for New Year’s, but the one return trip the Internet would even show involved either passing through CDG in Paris or a 9 hour layover at Gatwick. Too weary for either option. Facebooked my former students in Nashville and begged them to let me come there.

Friday, November 15, 2013

November 15, 2013

Had to clean away a mound of bear-chewed garbage from the side of the car before I could get to school yesterday. DJ, coming home five minutes after I did, saw four bears, but I saw the garbage.

Carpenter the Plumber (that never gets old) fixed my leaky faucet for free. There I am chasing him up the walk with my checkbook in my hand and him waving me away.

Read Before We Were Found among the Ruins with J. She hadn’t been moved by it until we read it, she said. We agreed it’s “subtle.” I wonder of I want to be doing subtle theater right now. She gave me a loaf of banana bread I saw coming out of the oven.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

November 14, 2013

Woke late, with incipient turquoise in the sky. Woke from a dream of writing poems (in tight quatrains) to protest a so-so production of one of my plays. I think it was probably to Bailiwick in Chicago, the only really awful and wilful production I’ve had, and from which I’m still awaiting a penny of my contractual 6% of the door. Never hounded them for it (should I have had to?) because I didn’t want to speak to them. I would have cashed their check. Somehow, such organization survive. I don’t even wish them ill.

Nanny installed in my computer demands a new password. I run out of things I have any desire to remember.

Reading with Janet this afternoon. My desire to be a kind of producer is not yet extinguished. Apparently.

Urthona brings out Ann’s book. She has done all the work.

Fascinating to me to gaze into my watergardens through their roofs of ice.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Ryan Fergusson

The day’s news reports on Ryan Fergusson, who was convicted of murder– without being connected to it by any physical evidence–because his friend began to have dreams that seemed to implicate him. The friend lied and confessed eventually that he’d lied, but it took time to get Fergusson out of prison, after he’d served 10 years of a forty years sentence. He was a teenager when all this happened. Of things which fill me with rage and the impulse of insurrection, this is near the top of the list. So far as I can tell, all cases of the imprisonment–sometimes the death–of the innocent are caused by prosecutorial misconduct. Cops lie. Prosecutors–as in Fergusson’s case–conceal evidence. Matters are rushed to a conclusion for the convenience of the court; confessions are wrung out of the innocent by Mordorian brutality. I believe that those implicated in the malfeasance– the lying cop, the devious prosecutor–should– without appeal–be forced to serve exactly the same sentence as their depravity caused the innocent. Ten years for those who put an innocent boy in prison. I doubt that these things ever happen by accident, and almost never relative to an honest mistake. Make me Pharaoh, somebody.

November 13, 2013

The faculty team of which I was a part triumphed last night in the Geography and Wold Events trivia game set up by International Studies. It was fun doing it. I need to get out among the students more, or among anybody more.

Very dark, and one assumes very cold, outside.

Still floating on the blessing of Route 1. Even when the old sadnesses have come back, the new tranquility has absorbed them. May this go one forever.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

November 12, 2013

Received delivery of an 1819 printing of John Evelyn’s Journal and other writings. Hooked on the journal on the first massive page. It must be read standing up.

For supper last night had a can of bean dip. This turns out to have been very bad idea.

Sky the color of incipient snow, though I don’t think it’s cold enough.

Back in touch with PK, who set some of my poems to music back in Syracuse, and who had the most beautiful hands. Had a crush on his lover; they are still together after 38 years.

Student tells me he has to leave class unexpectedly because his bipolar medication makes him nauseated. He has the brilliant eyes of a hunting bird. The second worst student in class sends me a link proving that he is related to Shakespeare. The worst student sleeps through class, but is present faithfully. Internet videos show the Philippines flattened by what may have been the fiercest storm in the history of the world. I see through my study window one scarlet rose still blooming.

Monday, November 11, 2013

November 11, 2013

Veterans' Day, unobserved in these parts.

Yesterday’s studio stroll barer than Saturday’s, though the day still more brilliant. I produce a lot of product–in all areas of my life–that no one’s buying. Gave that up as a bad show and went to see Thor with the gang. Did get painting done, quite good painting, with a new patience in my approach, I think.

Early day at school to catch up on duties neglected

Sunday, November 10, 2013

November 10, 2013

Yesterday began in autumnal brightness, which I spent inside, first singing and then at the River District Studio Stroll. Isaiah-like, I warned my visitors to take it all in now, as the district is going corporate, and scruffy independents like myself are almost all squeezed out, and soon it will be all. I don’t know that anyone really cares about that sort of thing. There will always be the next amusement. That said, it was an unusually pleasant day at the stroll. Few visitors compared to the throngs in the streets, but of good quality, and often actually interested in the work they were seeing. Marco came, but didn’t mention the work. His commenting on my work has never been part of our relationship, but only the other way around. He brought a girlfriend whom I’d insisted I’d met, but I realized as they were leaving it was the one before.

Mountain Xpress gets a new theater reviewer. Not only does he get print inches, but he’s not very good at it. One throws up ones hands in wonderment.

I look back on this and see I’ve complained more than I feel distress. All is well enough; some things are quite well.

Dark morning. Four hours before I have to be on Roberts Street. I rejoice.

It must be mentioned that one of the irises I planted in front of the Phil Mechanic is in spectacular, evening-blue bloom. I hope everyone passing saw it and marked it in their hearts.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

November 9, 2013

Slow arising because of the onslaught of vivid dreams. I was slow writing them down, so some are lost, but in what I remember I was exploring near Akron. There was a small, clear river, whose bridge had been broken so you had to clamber over the ruins to get from one side to the other. I was wearing a costume or uniform which made me look like a furry wild animal. As I got to the middle of the river I saw enormous armored fish swimming by–placoderms. In the dream I noted that they were black. One had not expected them, somehow, to be black. A path on the far side of the river lead to a road through a forest, and that road led to where I’d parked my car. A drove the car out of the wilderness, taking the wrong exit and noting that I was very far down South Main and would have to drive a long way back into the city. I was contemplating what to do when light from the window woke me.

Tedious, necessary rehearsal last night, to continue today, which makes me once again absent from my studio during the River District Studio Stroll. It’s always a disappointing experience, but it’s more disappointing not to give it a try. Some of us can sing for weeks without learning anything. No one else seems to worry too much about missing, but I was galavanting the last two rehearsals, and my excuse is less sovereign now.

The furnace politely sleeps with me all night, wakes when I wake.

Friday, November 8, 2013

November 8, 2013

Unrolled the Anatolian carpets from behind the sofa and spread them on the floors. The transformation was immediate. When I took a little nap on the sofa, the dream was of being a spy and creeping through tunnels lined with luxurious carpets to get from one spying point to another.

Beautiful man in the Woodfin Y locker room.  The kind of beauty people say doesn’t exist without airbrushing, but they’re wrong. Thor. It was time to praise God.

I am a natural mystic. That explains almost everything.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

November 7, 2013

Furnace kicking into life amid the cool. Hung the winter bird feeders yesterday. The porch looks like a booth in some Oriental bazaar. Oddly disengaged throughout the day– not a bad feeling, just a remote one. My nerves are ready to travel, but there is no travel for a while. Huge headache after choir, which I mention because headaches are few for me. Rum and aspirin.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

November 6, 2013

The most protracted of all chores is the putting away of laundry. This time, though, I get to remember California or New York with the folding of each garment.

Today the hummingbird feeders come down, the frozen plants cut back to the ground. Today I decide Lawrence the fish’s fate, to come in for the winter, to go to Beaver Lake, or to be left in his little pond to survive the sleeping season. I would do one for certain if I knew what the certain good was.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

November 5, 2013

Trying to re-integrate, trying to catch up, trying just to sit for a while.

I do love being in New York. I feel empty and a little frightened today, as though I’ve lost track of what I was supposed to do with my life.

Two appointments with the tech guy at school missed, not by me but by him, and when we finally manage to connect I hear me apologizing for being a nuisance. O and I were to meet at her place in the wilds of Fairview to read through a script. Appointed hour comes and passes, and I think, “I should learn the lesson. If they’re not here, they’re not coming, and I could spend– as I spent already once today–an hour waiting for someone who is cavalierly off doing something else.” I’m half way home when she calls to say she had gone to walk the dog and was “only a few minutes late.” I fight the urge to blame myself, if I had only waited a little longer, though in fact I left only when the rage was becoming ungovernable. She suffered because I already had faced that particular provocation today

Aunt Marian is dead. I would like to stop her spirit on its way home to ask what she thought of the life she lived. An outsider would find it squalid and futile, a failure in every measurable way. But I bet– I sincerely hope–she would say, “ I did everything I wanted to do and not a damn thing I didn’t.” In her youth she must have been a big, loud, happy girl. Her household was as grotesque as anything Faulkner or O’Connor dreamed up, but it lacked both the memory and the delusion of greatness, which are necessary for the generation of fiction. Her mother was one of the most elegant and cultured women I ever met. She had not cleaned house, or thrown anything away, in forty years.  I may find myself missing her.

November 4, 2013

Walked off the last hours in New York. Discovered the underground city at Rockefeller Center, and went to the Top of the Rock–far and justly famed–for the first time. If I thought I was going to have some quiet time at my favorite outdoor café at Columbus Circle, I had not taken the new York Marathon into my reckoning, for the leaders were finishing just as I arrived, their heads bobbing between the heads of the crowd. A mighty crowd it was, too, with two bands blowing their amplifiers out, and NYPD helicopters roaring overhead. Some runners must have been inspired to turn and run the other way. At some points the crowd was absolutely unmoving, one stream heading east, one west through the narrow passage the police had made (for no obvious reason) just before Broadway. Finally the cops moved the barriers out a tiny bit, and the throng was allowed to dissipate. Other ages will remember this one for prizing control over reason. Long, long road home, but arrived before midnight to find most things well.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

New York 3

November 3, 2013

The time change makes it earlier morning than it seems. Since I am not going to the meeting all this journey was about, the issue today is filling the hours (eleven, now) until my flight. The one day I needed an extra hour least. All is well.

Spiderman: Turn off the Night last night. The first thing to say is that watching men flying around in the theater above your head is fun. Unfortunately, that’s the limit of the fun. The rest resolves into one of those cases where you assume the flat-footedness and just plain badness is a tease or a bit of camp and the real material is about to begin any minute, but it doesn’t. It’s just plan awful. Awfulness so easy to fix that you assume someone wanted it to be as awful as possible, to test the gullibility of the audience. It is what would happen if you gave a class of not very talented eleventh graders ten million dollars and said “make a show.”  The staging is too big for the stage, the effects doled out like candy at Halloween, so the result is not pleasure but satiety, and the only bit of class is a fragment of dance which still shows the spirit of the original director, Julie Taymor, who was fired, one assumes now, because she couldn’t be bad enough. The miked sound was cranked up almost to the point of pain, the theory being, I suppose, that if the music itself is without character the one thing that can be memorable is the volume. The boy playing Spiderman didn’t fly very much, and when he did he was visibly panic-stricken. The other boys were a joy to watch, but you could get the same thing for free by visiting the local gymnastics school. They were of widely different body types, the various Spidermen, so there was never the illusion that THE Spiderman was achieving it all. None of this would matter had there been a script, or had the lyrics not come out of a blender into which all the blandest theater cliches had been poured and mixed around a little. The songs fit neither the characters nor, except in the case of the Green Goblin’s monster-creating anthem, the situation. I wanted to say to the sweet and eager usher who kept trying to keep people from taking photographs, “I could write a better show in one week, lyrics and all; give me another week and you’d have the music.” I probably didn’t need to.

Bob Cuccioli played the Green Goblin, and I watched him carefully through the night because he played my Lincoln, too, when we did the reading last spring. He had to drop out of my production so he could do Spiderman, which is a bit of theater trivia than only six or seven people in the world know, and on its own is such a system of wild contrasts as to be almost imponderable. In that little room in the Abingdon he was a fine, modulated, dignified, tiny bit fussy actor. On stage last night he was an icon, an action figure, at once bigger and less than life. He was clearly the only one with–or allowed to show–any acting skills. I wanted to go back and see him, but I was a afraid I’d say, “What were you thinking?”

What keeps people coming, and paying high (but not very high, surprisingly) ticket prices? Why did I go even when I anticipated disappointment? A lesson of modern and all times is that spectacle sells, and people will come to see the spectacle even if there’s nothing holding it up. I did. I kept thinking, what if all these resources were lavished on a really good, or even a decent, show? I suppose the answer is a really good or even decent show wouldn’t need them.

Met a former student Trevor in the lobby, in a red jacket, checking my ticket. We didn't have time to reconnect. He said "What are YOU doing here?" I wondered how many choices there were.

My seat was excellent.

Cider at Smith’s and then at the Iron Bar. Came home happy.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

New York 2

November 2, 2013

City-walk began with breakfast (what an odd thing for me!) At Junior’s, watching a dainty French girl hound the waiter over details and put away a stack of pancakes. Went to MOMA, where I saw the Magrittes early, because I am a member. Some of the Magrittes are profound or evocative. Some are merely wilful. Thanked the chambermaid for having finished with my room just as I arrived, then took a truly heroic nap. I think I am wearier from my travels than I know. Met with Matthew at the Playwrights Irish pub on the next block up– where I had to sweet-talk the Irish waitress into giving us the table I wanted-- and where we had a delightful reunion. He looks radiant and prosperous. He told me of his adventures in theater in Chicago–they put Ragnarok onstage– and for a while it seemed he was on the cutting edge. He’s happier here, though–clearly happy; you can see it in his eyes–piecing a life together with a cluster of teaching gigs. Afterwards to the Booth to see The Glass Menagerie. It was not the best of all possible renditions of this work. I put the blame on direction. The production and the acting were oddly mannered, as if someone wanted to underline the elements of the grotesque a little more than they needed to be. There were strange passages of pantomime, and gestures from the actors which could not quite be read. Tom and Laura both would come to the edge of the stage and jerk as if they meant to throw themselves off, but the hint was weak and never followed up. The Victrola, though often mentioned, was never played. Godot the Victrola. Certain random gestures, such as the lacing of Tom’s boots, and what was I guess the setting of the table with invisible dishes, were given excruciating time and spotlight. The production did one wonderful thing, though, which was to make the sniping  between Tom and Amanda funny and familiar, with real affection behind it. That was refreshing. Cherry Jones had received much praise for this, and indeed her character seemed realer –if, oddly, stupider--than most actresses make that gargoyle. Zachary Quinto, the movie star brought in for Tom, was as good, I think, as his direction would allow. His mannerisms I put down to direction, and he certainly was very handsome. I got to touch him when we exited, putting money in the red buckets the stars hold for AIDS donations. In the seat beside me was a school girl from near DC, who had never seen the play and who had refrained from reading it (though her friend had) so it would be a surprise. She laughed and gasped in all the right places, and said she loved it, so that’s a better triumph for the production than if it had won me completely over.

Francine Trevens, whose apartment is a ten minute walk away, is dead. Who will love all those cabinets of dolls now?

Evening. It has been a perfect day, and it is not over. People talk about my lucky life, and I–knowing better–scoff bitterly, but I recognize what they mean. This morning I thought, “I want to have coffee in Bryant Park,” and a little later I was having coffee in Bryant Park. Sparrows perched on the opposite chair and looked at me accusingly, so I bought one croissant for them and one for the homeless lady at the next table. The woman said “Thank you” without looking at me. The birds gazed at me steadily, and took bits of the croissant from my hand. Among them was a male hooded warbler, no shyer than the sparrows, and I took that as immeasurable blessing. A hooded warbler has touched my fingers with its wings amid the stone canyons. It did not eat the bread, but it looked like it wanted to, I looked up, and the homeless lady was feeding bits of her croissant to the birds too. I come to New York City and maybe the dearest memory will be feeding the birds in Bryant Park. Madison Avenue was closed for a colossal street sale. I toured the great cave of Grand Central Terminal, writing a little on my Magritte play. I happened to look at my Joyce ticket in time to see that it was for the matinee. I had, therefore, tonight free, so I bought a ticket–of all unlikely things– to Spiderman. Things were wrong at the Joyce–not with the dance, but with me, with the moment. I was seated beside a sprawling fat woman, who did none of the things that one can to limit one’s sprawl. It was as though it had not occurred to her that there would be other people in the theater. Normally I can ignore that, but this time I could not, and my discomfort turned to repugnance. Also, I’d inadvertently bought a ticket to the “Family Matinee,” and the dancing was a little more chipper and family-friendly than I was in the mood for. I thought how hard it must be for choreographers, there being just so many gestures a body can make, just so many moods conveyable from the stage. In a certain mood, everything looks derivative. Left at intermission, and, in one of those temporal anomalies, got back to the hotel about ten times faster than I had traversed the same space getting to the theater. I say I wouldn’t want to live in New York, but I was early to the Joyce, and wandered a little down 19th Street, thinking it wouldn’t be much different living there than where I do now, leafy and quiet.

Friday, November 1, 2013

New York

November 1, 2013

My semi-hideous room on the 9th floor of the Milford. The check-in lady says there are more than a thousand marathon runners staying here, waiting for the New York Marathon, which is going to affect my home-going on Sunday in ways not yet to be known. A week ago I was in my atmospheric retreat at the wild sea’s rim. The Milford thinks that painting a couple of accent walls scarlet/flamingo will keep a dungeon room from looking like a dungeon room, and perhaps they are right, a little. I can look into an air shaft at fellow guests naked or sleeping in their rooms.

The question of whether I should go through with this trip–though muddled by delays at the airport, was answered in a ringing affirmative as soon as I hit the street. Times Square on Halloween was exactly what one would expect, though merrier, somehow, the fun more innocent. Went to the Iron Bar, because it is just across the street and it was raining. Was consumed immediately by my customary desire to make each new place my local, to return again and again and know the bartenders and call the other patrons by name. Moved on to my old favorite the Rum Bar, where I had one drink before being driven away by a woman who kept groping me. Whether she was a prostitute or really interested was difficult to tell.  

Thursday, October 31, 2013

October 31, 2013

Odd dreams last night. New York today, though things have changed enough, suddenly,  that the original purpose of the journey is moot. Reasons to cancel and reasons to go ahead with it are so balanced that I’ll probably just walk forward like a robot through the plan already conceived. No real energy for the journey, no real energy to go to the expense and effort of cancelling, now. The things I would have done instead are largely out of the picture.  Planning ahead has many advantages (and, on balance, the upper hand) but not doing so makes changes of conditions a whole lot less bothersome. Still, onward.

A few stray irises put into the ground yesterday.

No, New York will be good. A last journey before the winter closes in . . . .

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

October 30, 2013

Savoring a few days at home. Truck gone while the boys dismantle Apothecary and haul it away. Attended the ribbon cutting for the remodeled everything at NC Stage. Looks like real theater, European. Looked for mother’s chair to sit in, but didn’t find it before it began to look peculiar. Drank Riesling at 5 Walnut, ran into Jane and her girlfriend. Jane is ageless and unchanging. Wrote college recommendations for J and D, two of the best students we’ve ever had lighting out on their own at once. I have been laughing out loud. I have reconnected with an old love, my first love, actually, and I laugh all the time. What they say is true: nothing else matters.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

October 29, 2013

No sea-sound in my sleep last night. But there were cats.

Left Big Sur at noon, got home at 5 PM the next day, having gone to my long day of class before coming home. Sleeping in the Delta Sky Lounge and sleeping every second of the plane ride from San Francisco helped. The drive from Big Sur to SF was a psycho-drama, out of which I came, at last, on the sunny side. I’ll enlarge if it lasts.

Talking to R in my office, realizing how much I liked him, the simple candor of his expression, how much I like nearly all my students, who are always half-consciously giving little gifts of themselves.

Dream last night that DJ had the opportunity to sing a new found solo cantata by somebody famous, and I was to keep the manuscripts–or something–but they kept getting infested by these horrible green ticks, and I made it all worse because I ignored them until there were millions of them. We had to go to the origin of the ticks, which was a nasty muddy place which, I recognized in the dream, was at the “deep end” of the creek where I used to play as a kid. There were the bones of somebody who had been murdered (and, I suppose, unavenged), breeding evil ticks.

Flying off again Thursday, I can’t feel completely at home. . . .

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Esalen 2

October 27, 2013

Night. Twenty minutes before my final session. The first two went well, so the fear of being an abject failure is gone.

Day spent staring. Staring at the orange marigolds with the orange monarchs upon them, as though the butterflies drew their color from the flowers on the fly. Staring, ever and ever at the sea. This landscape with without nostalgia for me. It is pure. I have no memories of it, no sadness, no longing; the reception of it is oddly clean, fully fresh, unmarked. Staring most recently at Venus tremendous over the sea, the horizon still a little blood where the sun sank. When I turned on the lights in my room, I thought how some creature far out at sea could see me, know that I was by the light I shed toward the darkening west. And I no longer could see it.

I am sad about something. Leaving? Seeing L again, as I do every few years, remembering that I love him, seeing his beauty and his virtues undiminished? I am sad about something, and there is nothing to be sad about, only light and waves and the perfect stars. I am alone beside the waves and under the perfect stars. Perhaps it is that.

Mist over the sea, no stars, but the high small moon leaking a kind of radiance into the murky dome. The Pacific to one side grumbling and hissing. It is too early for the land to say anything.

4 AM

Three women at my presentation last night. I don’t blame them. I wouldn’t have come, either. The discussion was good. What they needed? Who knows? I think of the long hill path, lined with uncertain lights, threading through darkness to the Murphy House.

I can’t account for my feeling of dull, pervasive dread. I feel many things, but usually not that. It’s as if I had a premonition that Esalen were about to be pitched into the sea. Just as I found it. . .  It would figure. It is possible that the dread is not dread, but sadness, and it is over L. I really do forget him between timeswith  the Sun; the remembrance is both bittersweet and gratuitous. It’s like some failed pretender to the throne remembering the time he was almost acknowledged in the streets.

This beautiful, changeable place. Changeable and immovable at the same time. I am like the elves in Tolkien, disquieted by contact with the sea.

Saturday, October 26, 2013


October 26, 2013

The drive from San Francisco was long, but most of it through the most wonderful scenery I’ve seen that was not in Ireland. At a certain point the extended suburbs transformed into rolling brown hills, the landscape of a cowboy movie, dramatic and, to me, exotic. Then, almost as abruptly, mountain to one side and the sea to the other. The war between ocean and continent left vast and scattered ruins, great cliffs and pinnacles in the midst of the torn sea. I pulled over several times to explore. One time, at Carmel River, there were seals barking far out in the surf. Made an extended stop at Point Lobo, clambering among the stones, taking dramatic shots with my camera, which died in the midst of it. The light was veiled and misty, but brilliant enough to show all things as though minted the moment before. I remembered the joy of the rocky shore, which I have not known for an extended time since I moved from New Hampshire. I stood in the cutting light with the pelicans beating over and the strange flowers of the salt cliffs blooming around. I was exultant. Arrived at Esalen late in the afternoon. Esalen is Rivendell with an ocean. People talk about how magical it is, and that makes one doubtful before one has ever seen, but magical it is. Everything tilts down toward the sea, and the air flutters with monarchs. You think they are falling leaves, but they are living butterflies. I’m already on hugging terms with a lad named Jake, who is from North Carolina. He saw me watching a Stellar’s jay flash his sapphire into the tilted woods, and conversation started from there. They gave me the Cypress Studio, overhung with, yes, cypresses, with the sounding Pacific outside the window. I have to walk through the sensational main garden, all thick vegetables and gold and orange flowers, to get anywhere. It is the best room in the world. The only rivals are the one I had in the B&B that overlooked the Liffey, and the one Nick and I had opening on Dingle Bay. The sea sounds like liquid, and then it sounds like wind, and then it sounds like a kind of music when it withdraws, rattling stone upon stone within itself.

Woke in the dark and crept out on my deck overlooking the sea. The little moon rides very high, just before zenith, I think, but is sufficient to light everything one needs to see: the moon side of the cypresses, the rocks, even the contours of individual waves marching in, at what seems to me wondrous slowness. The ravine beside my cabin is a well of moonlight, in which something is screaming a small but piercing scream. I don’t know the fauna here well enough even to give a guess. The stars are a bright myriad, sealed off near the horizon by what I assume is fog. Astronomy was not an option most of the places I have lived. It would be here.  I honored all by masturbating from my deck as close to the sea as I could get. It was– and as time goes by this becomes less and less frequent– a unique experience. I quizzed myself on the color I was seeing over the sea, and though habit suggested blue, I realized it was not blue at all but the apotheosis of black, deeper here and paler there, ending the continuum at the cold white of the moon, which holds to black by being its opposite. Now as I write in the yellow light of my room, the sky seems deep blue indeed, but perhaps that is the sun coming. It seems to take its time in the west, to come late and hurry along, compensation in the middle by wince-inducing brilliance.

At opening session, Angela had everyone–a hundred people or so– read their short bios. It was one of those moments where you think “Oh, God, no,” but it was eventually over and one did get a better sense of one’s colleagues. We presenters read, announcements were made, and everyone filed out into the night. I read “The Friend beside the Pool” to God knows what reception. The fear that no one will show up for one’s sessions. . . .The female propensity to stop and fuss in doorways even if a hundred people are behind them trying to get out never ceases to amaze.  This goes for one-person-at-a-time bridges as well. I wonder what I do that drives everyone mad. If told, I would try to stop. I really would.

Sea at my left ear, the wondrous dark.

Friday, October 25, 2013

On the Shore Path

Walked out long before daybreak and took the sea path toward town. Instantly I was glad, for there are wetlands there, full of teeming and skittering life, which I could hear if not see. I was swollen with the greatness of the sea and the endless sky. I came back and sat in the Marriot lounge (having bought coffee from Starbucks) and wrote a poem on the backs of advertising menus  for their Thanksgiving buffet, Acquired some bagels and went out again when dawn was finally breaking. The light from the east– which seems to be the end of the long Bay– came pinkish and lavender and goldish and silver, and the gulls were flying amidst it. I fed the bagels to the gulls. On shore were scores of birds, plovers and avocets and sandpipers and Canadas and coots, and beneath a wooden bridge, a pair of egrets and a great white heron. It has been a long time since I was so happy. I sometimes mock Wordsworth’s “Nature was to me then all in all,” but it’s a hypocrisy, for I would say the same myself, nor have I, as he did, left that behind. Writing now in my silly room, the tingle of the sea air still on my cheeks.

San Francisco

October 25, 2013

Red neck boy in the security line in front of me at the Asheville airport. He told the security people, “This is my first time,” to buy patience for not knowing what to do.  I spoke to him on the other side. His accent was the thickest drawl I have ever heard outside of a comedy sketch, but rather than being funny it was poignant and lovely, He said he had not only never been on a plane before but had “scarcely ever been out of Candler.” He was going to Denver to work in the coal fields in some capacity. I wanted to protect him in some way, but, like most things, it was out of my hands.

It’s hard trading the Merrion in Dublin for the Hampton Inn in Burlingame, California. If I had known it was going to be the crappiest hotel on the road I would have stopped somewhere else, but it’s only one night, and the room itself is huge and dignified.  I’ll cross to the splendid Marriot for drinks and pretend I’m staying there. A long path goes between the hotels and the Bay, which I found as if summoned. Away to the north gleams San Francisco. Proud blue collar South San Francisco proclaims itself over the airport, and the great planes seem to be landing on the water. Same-color-as-the-rocks plovers array themselves at pretty much equal distances along the rocky shore. I felt we understood one another. Ate at the Elephant Bar. Drank a tall and girly pina colada. The pina colada was because I got notably lost coming from the airport, and was in San Mateo before I turned around and tried again. Long line at the car rental place; planes had been late and customers were stacked up. I struggled not to lose composure, and succeeded.

I stare at the Pacific murmuring to myself, “The Pacific,” so I realize it wholly.

Bought a biography of Bruce Springsteen at the airport, and midair read about his experience at Esalen, which was presented as a sort of seaside paradise. Maybe I’m more excited than I thought I was. In my hotel room in San Francisco, on Rachel Maddow’s show, I was thrust back into Buncombe County, where our surpassingly ignorant Republican Committee Neanderthal Yelton embarrassed us before all the nation. The world is small indeed.

3 AM San Francisco time. The pitiable little coffee maker is bubbling away in the corner, I have little hope for a good outcome there.

When I signed on to my computer, it was still trying to connect with the wireless internet at the Albany airport.  

Thursday, October 24, 2013

October 24, 2013

Toured the garden yesterday afternoon to see what the losses would be if it froze last night, as it was predicted to do. The worst were the towering angels’ trumpets, with buds a foot long, that will never now open. It is the dark of the morning and I have not inspected, but I fear the worst. I will not quite be gone before the sun rises, so I will have to face it.

Ready to travel. This is an unusually complicated trip, with all sorts of instructions and requirements from the people at the Sun, but having them, I think, taken care of adds a measure of confidence. Invited to JBs’s birthday party north of SF on Sunday. I know it’s unlikely, but I think about it, because I loved him so much and it’s been so many years since we laid eyes on each other, he the red giant next door with the scarlet tangle of hair and the gentleness of a poet. Some poet other than me. He is a memory unsullied.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

October 23, 2013

Not ready for the workshop at Esalen, not eager for the workshop at Esalen, asking myself why I accepted the workshop at Esalen, though I know the answer to that. I wanted to negate my obscurity a little, do the schmoozing and glad handing that other authors do. Now at the brink of it, obscurity seems triply precious, or at least infinitely less inconvenient. The last time I did such a bad job I don’t know why they asked me back. Odd head on me yesterday, wherein if I considered the desired outcome of my longings and the feared outcome of my longings, they both seemed equally dreadful.  Part of my personal superstition is that the 23rd of every month is propitious. May this one be so.