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.