Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year's Eve

December 31, 2014

 Sit down to record on the last day of the year without, truly, much of the summarizing or reminiscing impulse. Forging ahead, I tell myself. Prying myself from 62 after 24 years and coming here, a better residence in every way, is the big story. My own reaction amuses me, though, for I recognize a certain reluctance to be fully pleased, lest the universe decide I need to pay for my contentment with some unforeseen tribulation. I can barely contain the excitement I have at seeing what my first full spring will look like here, after the planting I have done. Seattle, Vienna, Budapest, less traveling than I would have liked, but I wanted time to curl up and know my new house, dig the fresh dirt. In the long passionate, agonizing affair with God, I found a way to block him, or at least the pain he causes by what appears to a mere mortal as cruelty, and betrayal. It is to trade heroic love for peace, something I spent fifty decades willing myself not to did, and yet, finally, did. One can weep only so much. One can wait only so long. If there must be faith on one side, there must be a little pity–or honor–on the other. Betrayed at love, one finds a way to render the bitter weapons of the lover harmless, and moves on. This is the core of Eastern religions, and I never recognized it until I lived it. Even now I entertain a voice back in the convolutions of the mind whispering, “it must be how He wanted it.” –having not, I suppose, utterly let go.
When I think of the faces of the year, I think of S, I think of the singers at the Kodaly whose earnestness and application were not, I understand now, American. Maybe I would say it was Magyar if I knew more. I think of B, who has the courage to call himself an asshole but doesn’t quite realize he really is one– self-recognition without the will to reform. I think– well, the images shift like the surface of waters.
    I must have written something. I can’t think now what it was.
    – writing amid the outsized bouquets in the hotel in Seattle
    – crossing the Danube bridges
    —Medea with my students
    –-watching the movers carry my possessions through the swirling snow
    ---sitting in darkness in my walled garden, weeping such tears that would have turned a heart of stone.
    –the various musics
    –the dreams after which I woke smiling
    – the big flower with white petals in starlight, which is what I see now when I close my eyes.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Sixth Day of Christmas

December 30, 2014

Walked in the dark of the morning in the neighborhood. Walked in the light first at the Bird sanctuary on Beaver Lake, the at the Botanical Garden.  People tell stories of the wonderful things they see at the Sanctuary. I saw a woodpecker, and on the lake a coot, appearing and disappearing, though he gave me great calm riding upon the calm waters like that, they white and gold with dawn.
A boy I knew before he was born came to my house to sell me cutlery, which I knew I was going to buy–without needing–before he started his spiel. The inevitably alone was so exhausting I cold barely sit through his presentation. He was very professional, though I couldn’t get my attention off the dandruff in his eyebrow. The things that throw us off! His hand was torn off in an accident, and then reattached. It seems to work fine, in this age of miracles.
Baked a failed cake, from which I learned much. It actually tasted OK, but I used the wrong sized pan (though the one I was instructed to use) and it was mean and thin.
I think I have pinkeye. The Internet says it’s viral and I should just wait it out. It also says it can be related to the respiratory infection I’ve had since Thanksgiving. Coughing and rifting, coughing and rifting. . . .
Preventing myself from feeling exultant at finishing both books I had set out to revise. How would I celebrate if I permitted myself to celebrate? Maybe in the New Year I will discover this

Fifth Day of Christmas

December 29, 2014

Z sold me some knives. I finished The Falls of the Wyona.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Fourth Day of Christmas

December 28, 2014

Holy Innocents.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Third Day of Christman

December 27, 2014

The Way turns to the left and to the right, to the east and to the west. The Way does not act, and yet everything gets done.

Yesterday was the day of fixing things. Today will be the day of not fixing things.

Returned to the gym, whereby I am energized. Energy is one of the things you must spend to acquire.

I always assume that the simple solution will not work for me. That may have been true once, but it has ruled everything after.

Hours before light. I am keeping the night’s secrets by not writing any more.

Friday, December 26, 2014

St. Stephen

December 26, 2014

The program for Christmas Eve in Marshall rendered my name as “Hoak,” and gave my address as “All Souls Crescent.”

My winter soul-coughing sometimes makes me lightheaded to the point where I almost pass out. It is especially fascinating when it happens on the road. I feel my consciousness shrink until it is a little box of everything I can still see, surrounded by wide borders of darkness. My ears ring. There is an odd taste, or sensation of taste. I feel myself willing myself to stay conscious, to hold on just long enough, hands gripping the wheel, eyes pulling themselves wide. Even the enclosed life has its little perils and adventures.

Went to see Into the Woods. I sat with elderly lesbians of my acquaintance. It is a sensational movie, a great one, with inspired casting and inspired performances. I felt as I feel about the stage play, that it goes on too long, that Sondheim goes on after he has left his depth. I cannot make that argument, though, without conceding that most things in this world go on after they have left their depth.

Too much cabbage.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

First Day of Christmas

December 25, 2014

Full morning Christmas Day. The service at Marshall Presbyterian was unexpectedly sweet and moving. I would not have thought I was in good voice,; nevertheless I sang it the best I ever had, and felt proud to have given them a gift on Christmas Eve. Dalton’s teacher came from Mars Hill to hear him, which I thought was sweet beyond belief. All the handsome redneck boys in their best flannel shirts were asleep with their mouths open and their heads tilted back. I compared that experience to All Souls, one rough and faulty, the other refined and, as far as I could tell, perfect. Would the people of Marshall prefer the floating silvery perfection? Would they come to us if they could, have us if they could, or would they find us cold and forbidding? Certainly we overflowed into the library (where there was a television showing the sanctuary) and they did not. I don’t know. My affections are mildly with Marshall at this point, for I had not stood and held twenty pounds of music to the point that my back seized up then. Plus, they handed me an envelope full of money. Enjoyed the music we did at AS this year, though I had to ration my perpetually-phlegm-ravaged voice to get through it. Sopranos on either side. Kept me on my mark. I remember being moved in soul on Christmas Eve. Would love to have that back again.
Pale blue fleeced with clouds through my tiny study window. Plans for the day, which I am determined neither to rush nor to regret.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

December 24, 2014

Dan and David and Jon took me to breakfast and then swept out toward the slopes, taking the rest of my cookies with them. Daniel remarked that my jokes changed as time went on, from funny baby ones to funny adult ones. For that I give thanks.

Sitting cozy in a house of improved coziness. The accented furnace worker phoned around 1 and said that the repair guy was on his way to the house at that very moment, and that I should hurry to met him there. Two hours ten minutes later I called the company, reining in fury, and asked what happened. “We don’t know what happened. He’ll be there within the hour.” Actually, he was there (barely) within that hour, and all got fixed (for less $$ than I expected) just in time for the drive to Marshall. Had to wait to come home to wallow in the clemency. Several problems seem to have been solved, notably the weird distribution of heat through the house, which this morning seems creamy and well mixed. Second was the tremendous sound the blower made– which now I rather miss.
The thing to contemplate is my disproportionate rage over the whole matter. I was not really uncomfortable in the places where I needed to work or sleep. At no point did I ever doubt that everything would be well in a timely manner, but I let that conviction submerge under vituperation that, at times, embarrassed even me. It’s a kind of pathology, which I see and can describe even while being apparently helpless in its grasp. My nephews were pointing out differences between my sister and me (which are more remarkable than our similarities) and one they could have added is that she sails over even quite bitter misfortune without complaint and without–visibly–breaking stride. I go to war with the universe.

Left, as I said, in time to get to Marshall for rehearsal. I was hoping that a month of rough throat and phlegm would clear in time for Christmas Eve, but I think now that hope is vain. My opera buddy Dalton with the blazing blue eyes has joined us. Both our accompanists are ill, so we rehearsed last night to the tapes made to sell the music. I’m not sure but that was a good idea, giving us confidence and a better sense of tempo. Kenny shares the common fault of choral directors, which is to over-rehearse right before the concert, insuring that their singers’ voices and their joy are ruined. The other common fault of choral directors is to talk after giving pitches, as if terrified to give their singers one moment alone with the music.
Drove home in the dark night contemplating a warm house and a wrathful character.
Little downtown Marshall blazes with Christmas trees and candy canes hoisted up on the utility poles.
In some ways my Christmas spirit is higher--if less metaphysical-- than it has been in years. I think this is because I have been more sociable. My tree is pretty. I don’t know. . . maybe I’ve just exhausted the fuel of wrath and sadness for a while.
What do I most bless at this very moment? My nephews.
What did I dream last night? That I went into the basement of some building (this is a fairly common dream for me) to swim in a pool, and found that the pool had altered itself in the night, and I could swim through corridors and rooms and out into the night, and everywhere, even in the dark, the water gleamed deep aqua.
If I let my mind go blank, what image enters? The pines visible out my eastern window.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

December 23, 2014

Lady Grey tea. Writing in the guestroom, three big boys asleep in the study upstairs. My nephews stop here on the way to ski, coming through the door like the scene from Fred’s party in A Christmas Carol. Their affection for one another is secret treasure.

The burly Hungarian–I guess--came to look at the furnace. The problem was, of course, dire and presently unfixable. The gas pan? Is that what he said? He MAY know where to find the part today, but no promises. I don’t think I called the company I meant to call, the one where I had paid for “priority” service. This may have been part of our confusion on the telephone. On one level it’s embarrassing how darkly I react to things like plumbing and furnaces. On another level, I think if I’m intractable enough maybe the universe will be moved to hurry the bitter moment along.

Adam and Steve came to visit and look at the tree and drink some Montepulciano and pick up Adam’s laptop, which I gave him out of my store because his was lost in a New York break-in. Cheerful, wide-ranging chit-chat. As usual, I have the least to offer conversationally. I don’t really do anything. Ruined an experimental cheesecake while waiting for them to arrive.

Monday, December 22, 2014

December 22, 2014

Woke with a curious sense of gaiety, The house is not so cold as it might be. Bitter weather is not soon predicted. Once I claw past the anxieties, everything seems to be on track. Last night was Longest Night, and we passed through. The second Cantaria concert was much better than the first, and as well attended. Over my sore back and sore feet, I felt exultant. Merry dinner on the brave porch of Avenue M. Burning the lights of the Christmas tree this morning because I forgot to– or was to-- glum to- last night.
What a Puritanical, Fundamentalist monster contemporary secular society is. A college president is presently in trouble for saying “all lives matter,” which apparently pulls attention from “black lives matter.” Humaneness, patience, and understanding are anathema if they seem to be aimed at people or institutions which are meant to be under an unceasing barrage of hatred. If someone mentions a grandchild or a pretty sunset, someone else– who probably thinks that he’s inspired by compassion-- must pipe up and say, “Oh, but only your privilege allows you to see that sunset or have that grandchild.” Killing joy in one place never, ever increases it in another. Nor are these things reasoned, proven, or discussed; like all Fundamentalist systems, it expects its pieties to be accepted as stated and universally applied. Failure to do so, failure to do so enthusiastically, is unappealable proof of depravity. Hearing my students’ instant, hysterical indignation when you say something as simple as “why?” in response to their Sociology 101 pieties is the single most terrifying thing I’ve encountered as a teacher. I think they might acknowledge the extremity of their response, but then say that the matter is so important that discussion or moderation is not appropriate. How this differs from religious Fundamentalism I can’t see. There are exceptions, but most people are trying to be good, trying to expel racism and sexism and intolerance from their hearts. No one on this planet, no one at all, has the right to blame them for going too slow or going slant, and it is not only because blame will not help, but because the blamers are themselves flawed, often irrational, often so prejudiced themselves they totter about like walking parodies of their own arguments. No one is righteous enough to blame the unrighteousness of another. Except by action. Only that. Doing good is the only unanswerable witness. Christ admonished those who had dared themselves to admonish. Whom does he hate as much as hypocrites? Buddha doesn’t speak of morality in the same way, but it is absurd to think of him going up in someone’s face and screaming “Glutton!” Any religious or moral view which requires the subjugation of others to it is false.

Yet, sometimes we need to know that we have strayed. I trust in circumstance to tell us, but what if we NEED admonition? I'm admitting to needing something I assert nobody has the right to give. I'll figure this out next year.

Still hours before dawn. I will have a full day.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

December 21, 2014

Arrived home from Atlanta to find the furnace was out. Typing in the unheated upstairs with surprisingly little misery. Bundled up, of course. It’s a rule that the furnace will go out on Saturday night. The trip was eventful. Two hours were added to the journey south because of two spectacular, and fatal, traffic accidents within ten miles of each other in I-85. When I got to the wreck spot, one truck lay fifty feet up in the trees, looking like it had exploded. At that spot stood a highway patrolman pumping his arms in perfect fury, red faced, trying to hurry is along and hurry us along, as though all the delay had been our faults. I was not inclined to understand his plight. How long and how hard will the police have to work to overcome the impression of recent years that they are, at best, bumblers, and at worst murdering cowards. I was sure before I saw it–and not fully convinced otherwise after–that it was some mishap the cops and bumbled, multiplying miseries unnecessarily. The incidents made the news, though the reporter somehow neglected to mention my being inconvenienced. Great time with sister and nephews. The boys, who will not be parted from one another, have an easy and heroic relationship, though their intermingled and competitive bravadoes can inspire a certain measure of mischief. Their neighborhood friend apparently moved in for the weekend to bask in it all. Much eating, much talking, my second dose of The Battle of the Five Armies. The only five seats together were in the front row, where we had an amazing perspective on everybody’s pores. I disliked it less the second time–unexpectedly– but the boys hated it. Their friend Nick tweeted, “Peter Jackson shit the bed.” Nothing has the sweetness and energy– and, I suppose, danger– of a pack of young males. They may be coming here as a leg of a ski trip. If so, the cold house will prepare them for the slopes. Trip home uneventful but very, very long. I lost patience somewhere between Greeneville and Spartanburg. Open house at Jack and Leland’s, where my 2nd cheesecake was a hit. Stayed less than an hour. Lit the space heaters.

Not that it saved me time in the end, but I left Asheville before dawn, and saw a blood sky under a fading sliver of moon in the east.

Maud has found the attic. I wouldn’t mind, except that I fear she’d fall through the ceiling in places that aren’t planked.

Picked up LeGuin’s translation of the Tao te Ching, by far the best I know, or the most useful to me. It is quite true in saying that if you focus on what you want you will see that; if you do not focus at all, you will see everything else. I have focused fiercely on what I want, but I have done so because it was denied. If this irks God, he had better allow me what is mine, so that I am able to see whatever it is he wishes me to see. I have learned all my unbelief from God. This is a paradox I would write about if I knew how.

Friday, December 19, 2014

December 19, 2014

Most definitely phlebitis. Yesterday was the Day of Alternating Fever and Chills. The chills were so devastating that my muscles began to seize up. This condition obtained throughout the Cantaria concert, my performance in which was thereby certainly affected. Drank shocking amounts of water. Feel better today, for the drive to Atlanta.
Saw the latest and last Hobbit. As an interpretation of Tolkien it gets a D, some beautiful moments annihilated by arrogant and pointless deviations from the text. In every case, Tolkien’s drama, Tolkien’s suspense is better than Jackson’s. Someone should have been there to say no. . . no. . . no. . .no. . . . What goes on in an interpreter’s mind? There may be cases in which the interpretation is richer and better than the original, but so few one should take it as miraculous. No miracle here. And it will make a zillion dollars. Good acting from Martin Freeman. Dark morning. Time to set out.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

December 18, 2014

The illness doesn’t behave like phlebitis, but like the flu, I can say in day 4. So everything I have been doing was futile. I suppose that’s good news, or at least normal news.  

Now we’re letting our cultural life be dictated by North Korea. Interesting development.

Did a little writing. Attended rehearsal. Slept, slept, slept.

Adam’s New York apartment was robbed. I’m giving him my Apple lap top when he arrives, to replace one that was stolen.

There must have been more, if I could only think of it--

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

December 17, 2014

Yesterday was a long sleep. Every now and then I would get up and do chores (bought a couple of interesting houseplants, coasted around Main Street in Weaverville for a while), but would return and lie down and sleep with the cats arrayed around me. This didn’t prevent a full night’s sleep last night. I am grateful that the antibiotics cut the agony, though they don’t quite eliminate the exhaustion. Ate only Edna’s chili, which is almost supernaturally good. Must make something of this day. Must prepare for the drive. Must. . . at this late hour. . . do something. . .

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

December 16, 2014

The sickness came upon me yesterday, after a spasm of baking that included a chocolate cheesecake and a batch of vanilla cookies. Someone better invite me to a party so all these baked goods can be used. As for the sickness, the pills push it back, but I slept to a shocking 7:30 this AM and look forward to a day of frequent naps. It’s cloudy enough to be a good day for writing. Troubadour songs on the CD. Missing S.

Monday, December 15, 2014

December 15, 2014

Curved moon over the quiet yard. Trying to decide whether to write first or go to the gym first, I note what effort it would take to defrost the car windows if I try to start before the sun, so writing comes first.

Irritating “dress rehearsal” last night, to which one sweet soul actually wore his tuxedo. The soli are good; maybe we should just go with soli. As every establishment closed as we walked in (before 9 PM), DJ and I finally got a drink at a Mexican restaurant, where they cheerily waited for us to gobble and go. My penalty was to throw it all up about an hour later. Irritating dreams, as though my mind were content neither asleep nor awake.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

December 14, 2014

I recollected that the Madison County Arts Council was having some sort of sale, so I took a break from writing and headed there in brilliant winter light, arriving at the exact moment of the Marshall Christmas parade. Couldn’t get into town, so parked about a half mile out along the railroad tracks. The parade was made of fire engines and beautiful horses with tinsel around their hooves and bells on their tack. It was going so slow that I joined it, walking along with the engines, heading, as it was, for Court House Square, where there was a faulty recording of Harry Connick Jr singing Christmas carols.. Behind the horses were troops of Boy Scouts jumping over hazards of horse droppings, and carts with local people and the names of churches on them. People were throwing candy from the “floats,” but someone had told them not to throw right at folks, so they were tossing candy on to the pavement for the kids to pick up and store in various sacks. It was rough and sweet, and I was grateful (and rather astonished) that I had come at exactly the right moment. Bought a box someone had made, and came home to renew my labors. Party in the evening at Merritt’s– convivial. I made myself sick on too much chili, walked it off by taking the longest path home imaginable, that did not involve circumnavigating the world.

Fighting the cough I’ve had since before New York.

Gave up the Facebook fight to show people who think of themselves as secular and above faith-based convictions that their central convictions are faith-based– things like “all white people are racist,” which, like “Jesus is the only answer,” is not verifiable, probably wrong, and only temporarily useful– but in any case, an article of faith, which seems different, somehow, because it comes from pop sociology. My students are thoroughly secular and yet almost unreachably rigid in their pop-culture faith convictions, which they will defend with the unreasoning emotional fury of a Torquemada. It is the worst of several worlds.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

December 13, 2014

Days of writing. Dryness of soul. . . a good dryness, removed and unencumbered. I feel like a Hagar who knows where all the fountains are.

Was it my grandmother’s birthday? I think so.

My anxiety is that the sidewalk men will take out my row of hollies: the feature that makes the front of the house liveable. They stand a good way from the street, and the workers’ progress has been relatively non-invasive to date, but there must be something to fill the worry vessels. I don’t see how the sidewalk can get past the giant pine, either. Ninety years untouched, and they get all motivated when I move in. Their progress is not swift, so perhaps terrible weather or bankruptcy will come upon them.

Parties tonight.

Friday, December 12, 2014

December 12, 2014

The little church in Marshall was fragrant with wreathes and a giant spruce, to the ceiling. Sang till I was hoarse, and still am.

The writing unfolds like silk.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

December 10, 2014

Days ruled by imagination– as much as I can of the daylight spent writing, spent in the midst of worlds I have created or altered. When I lie down there are the fantasies one has when one lies down, places and people and situations created to fill gaps in the world one has stopped waiting for the world to fill. I can live like this a long time. I rejoice living like this, and resent interruptions, even those I give myself, like pulling on my shoes and going downtown yesterday afternoon to hit a few galleries, just to get out of the house. Bought a wooden tree ornament carved to look like a woodpecker. Bought chocolate at the chocolate shop that was like the mud of paradise, thick and chocolatey, almost beyond even my enlarged capacity for sweetness. Watched people passing in the gray light.

Woke one morning with the Christmas tree tipping to leeward. Called Leland to help me straighten it. I had not screwed all the screws. Curious.

Finished helping a young women get her MFA at Antioch U. Part of me rebelled, for her general social incompetence and scatter-brainedness should have counted for something, but there was nowhere on the report to speak of that. “Why me?” I wondered the whole time. The reading she organized was preposterous. She was never sure what she was doing, with that or in her relations with me. She called frantically, interrupting my evening because she had neglected to mention a deadline, and then didn’t want to speak to me because I returned the call in the midst of her supper. Fortunately, her own writing is quite good, so I could swallow hard and sign the documents.
    I know the present mood is that credentials belong to those who desire them, and that earning them is a process of a disgraced hierarchical tyranny, but in this I fear I cling to the old ways. We have decided to give trophies to everyone on the team, from kindergarten stick-ball, where it doesn’t matter so much, to the arts and society, where it does. I am trying unsuccessfully to think of a problem with current society that does not at some point involve people pretending to be something they are not, and being allowed by some conspiracy of perception to do so. Carnival rides pass for theater. Hysterical self-interest masquerades as public service; murderers and cowards wear badges and call themselves keepers of the peace. Bigots pass as men of God. Ignoramuses get Ph.d’s and teach college because no one dares call them on their ignorance. Bloodthirsty vengefulness is a called the desire for closure, or for justice. Oppression is called Safety. Tyranny is called Order. Self-indulgence is art. I try to make a hierarchy here, but I don’t know what is worse than what, and suspect that mendacity in small things may be as damaging, ultimately, as mendacity in the great. None of is allowed to turn from the things we are bad at and give our energies to those things where we might do good.

Yet, I am having a fine time, holding off these matters with one hand, writing with the other.  Dark, dark morning. . . hours yet before I need to put in an appearance, true or false.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

December 7, 2014

Baked pistachio cookies.

Bought a Christmas tree from the usual place–the biggest one I ever got, having the highest ceilings I ever had–in driving rain, set it up in the dining room, got it, at this hour, almost completely decorated. Bubble lights. Other peoples’ antiques. Memories oddly clean of melancholy.
Lessons & Music at all Souls. I found it exceptionally meaningful. Didn’t know that S had walked all the way from campus to be there. I mentioned the service to him off-hand, but– Anyway, there he was, looming darkly over the crowd at the end. We left and went to Avenue M, where, rather surprisingly, the entire crowd came pouring in a few minutes later, so we had a social evening rather than an intimate one. I take him to the bus station in a few minutes. He doesn’t seem happy to be going home, but neither was I at the same point in my life.  What various and rich potential–he seems to know this, though, so the dad instincts in me can lie low for a while.

Dark morning, fierce wind. When I switched on the light, the two cats standing accusingly beside their empty, empty bowl.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

December 6, 2014

Student Heather knitted me a fine green ski cap.

Spent yesterday afternoon with S, hearing about is adventures in Europe last summer, seeing his father give a rather fatuous speech about Hollywood on You Tube. What a cosmopolitan, eventful life he has had already! I have treated him as though he were as young as his years, and he is not. He takes a magnificent picture. Entered grades, sealing the semester, as far as I’m concerned.

The crew ate at an excellent new neighborhood barbecue place (they ate: I court disaster if I eat before I sit), then headed off to Flat Rock for a version of A Christmas Carol all but annihilated by Disneyfication and over-production. Some people hate perfection and must add a chipper song or a too-long dance just to leave their mark.  I had to leash back rage. We went to support Maria, and Maria was excellent, so I suppose one might call it a success. Marley/Christmas Present was also magnificent. King James afterward, the best frittes I have ever had. I get profane when I get exhausted. DJ called me a savant of profanity, which I rather like.

Watching the two peaceful cats eating at their bowl this dark morning. Circe, when she came would hiss and spit over every morsel. Now that she has learned there is always plenty, she is impossible to provoke. This is a lesson I transmit to the world.

Disappointing cookbooks arrive from Amazon– disappointing because they all seem to have some axe to grind (one must NEVER measure, but only weigh), or call for Betty Crocker mix of this and that rather than telling you how to make it from scratch. What the hell is potato starch?

Maud sleeping in peace upon my left foot.

Friday, December 5, 2014

December 5, 2014

Early to bed ,early to rise, with my hand hovering over a multiplicity of choices. Final finals yesterday, grading one while giving the other, so my semester is largely wrapped up.  No one has given me a dilemma by disappearing at the last minute. After the Humanities exam, S and S and T hung around to talk, and we jabbered for more than an hour. They jabbered, while I looked on fascinated, delighted by them and their speech and their mannerisms, by their beauty, and also mortified by the tininess of the time I have dedicated to simply sitting and being with someone, without an activity or a reason. Eddie complained about this years ago, that I never just sat beside him on the sofa and watched TV. It never occurred to me to do so.  Even yesterday I kept trying to think of a reason for us to be together, trying to figure out why they wanted to be with me doing nothing rather than heading out for lunch at White Duck Taco, which it was their original intention to do. A day still filled with appointments, as they shall be for a time yet. In any case, grateful for a time when nothing happened.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

December 4, 2014

Final playwrights’ meeting. One superb play; another that could be superb when it’s finished. One was faked cleverness just to have the project done. Bade goodbye to R, for whom I’ve been a soundingboard and confidante for four years. I thought there would be more ceremony.

Terrible hoarseness, which destroyed rehearsal last night. It seems, I discover, to be largely curable by a drink of water.

Two finals today.

Annihilated a batch of cookies by failing to add the flour.

Longing to write. Anxious to write. Looking for a day (tomorrow?) In which I might write almost uninterruptedly. Maybe not that until next Monday. If not writing, I wish I were in London.

Foot hurts knee hurts side muscles cramping from too much weightlifting sore-ish throat. Anything else?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

December 3, 2014

 Finished The Beautiful Necklaces last night.

 Choir in Marshall was actually fun last night. I can blast there in half an hour, a truth I keep forgetting, so I arrived early and sat on a chunk of cement near the church, watching the passing show, which in Marshall is very sparse and very dark, yet enough to reawaken my old hunger for adventure. Had it been an Irish town of the same size, I would have found the pub, settled in, and staggered home with some drunk Adonis on my arm. Two Adonises did pass me on the street, one dark and one fair; I decided to think of them as allegories.

 Baked cookies yesterday. I hardly recognize myself. I can’t eat them, so I’ll take them to my exams.

 Got my free Starbuck’s Christmas coffee for having drunk five orders of the same and had my card punched. It was very exciting.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

December 2, 2014

Pastel morning sky, all of the pastels.
Sang for World AIDS day and the Quilt at the Renaissance Hotel last night. It was a gala occasion, and I felt invigorated and joyful when I left to have drinks with the crew at Pack Tavern. Such events are, in Asheville, amazingly mixed, with excellent things intermingled with dreadful things, the dreadful things included because they are sincere or represent an under-honored minority perspective. My stance that bad art is never anything but bad art is not popular these days, and so, for the most part, goes unexpressed. To regard the quit is ever sobering; so many of those dead in the plague were born within two years of me. If I ever doubt that I was blessed, all I need do is ask myself how I escaped.
Have been unusually happy in recent days. Bad news has stayed away; expectations have been supportable. Knee ravaged by, I think, the wrong shoes largely healed by exercises at the Y. My body took me there half against my will, knowing it was what we needed. My thoughts are on Christmas decorations and the baking of cookies– as though I were my mother.
Huge progress on The One with the Beautiful Necklaces.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

November 29, 2014

    Successful dinner party last night. J and L, K and R were invited, but I got an email from JB, saying that he and his wife were going to be in town, so I expanded and invited them too. J and I were neighbors in Syracuse, his porch and mine flanking the front entrance. He is 6'6", and had flaming red hair which, like mine, has settled back into a sort of frosty pale brown. It was good–and strange to see him. He remembered Susan. He was so big and handsome I wondered why his life was not, then, other than it was.  We went to the movies, and he fell asleep with his head resting on my chest. There were tears in his eyes when he said goodbye at the door. His wife said, “Don’t mind him; he’s sentimental.” Have been writing since the morning dark, and now it is dark again.

Thursday, November 27, 2014


November 27, 2014

Made my first cheese cake, It looks like cheesecake from the top, praying it tastes right when it’s cut.
Put myself in financial straits paying taxes on my house–on my houses- forgetting that the mortgage company takes taxes for 51 out of escrow, and I needn’t have paid at all. Inquiring to see what can be done about that. . . .
Complicated dreams of CH before morning. He loved me and I didn’t see the signs. I will accept more punishment from the spirit world for his sake than for, perhaps, any other.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

November 26, 2014

Wet, dark, wintery-springy morning, Everything gleams with wet trying decide if it will be rime or liquid.

 Sweet student D comes to relate that he has been baptized and feels washed clean. Long discourse on how his life has changed. He shows me pictures of his former self, which look fine to me, but which are strikingly different from his dreamy, rather aggressively serene present self. I want to throw my arms around him and protect him, but from what I’m not sure. He looks to be on the path of the saints. Would I protect him from getting there too soon, while he is yet unfinished? I trod the same path for a while, though I never dared to speak of it. It did not come out well for me. He does pass judgment –sweetly–on those who might hinder him on his path. I refrain from pointing out how his new self is still casual about getting to class and turning assignments in on time. He is floaty and airy and quite beautiful in all this. I would pray that it all comes out as he dreams.

 Last Blake presentations. There is always the student against whom circumstance conspires, and whose presentation blows up at the last moment, and it is always the same student. I say, “the professor handbook tells me to say this wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t waited until absolutely the last moment.” She stares back, stung at my lack of compassion.

 Trip to Marshall less dreary than before. I arrived early–who knows how?–and spent some time in the Good Stuff café, right at the opening of the French Broad bridge. I liked it, The bartender with hair-of-many-colors was solicitous. Had I work a ski cap I would not have been conspicuous at all. . . well, except for the ordering of tea.

 On the road to Marshall at sunset I saw in the southwest a tremendous shaft of orange light leaping up through pink and purple and orange clouds. Bad taste on a smaller scale is transcendent glory on a greater.

Monday, November 24, 2014

November 24, 2014

 Did not cough last night. Hooray! Did dream that I went to visit Denny, and he’d changed vocations so that he was an ad designer, and he taught me how to use the camera-thing thereby objects are rendered suitable to appear in ads, and for the rest of the night I dreamed of one ad after the other. I brought the machine to my class and we were working on advertisements of some kind when I awoke.

 Momentary irritation with the new bass in choir, until I realized he does exactly what I do, what I have always done, and the irritation became a sort of amused self-revelation. “Finesse” is spontaneous to neither of us.

 Traded my Sunday afternoon nap to go see The Muckle Man at UNCA, because Olivia directed it. The play itself soon turns a potentially creepy mystery into a sort of tedious waiting-to-see-the-obvious-come to-pass, leaving its best bit (a squid seems to be turning into a man) just to drop because–clearly–where it was going was not thought out. None of this is O’s fault. S was there. I waited to hear whether he liked it–he did—before I spoke.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

November 23, 2014

All the Ellet people reminiscing on Facebook yesterday about where they were when Kennedy was shot. JH and I were sitting side by side in Mr Tucker’s junior high history class: a kinship that transcends the years.

Yesterday’s event was the MFA project of a young woman from Antioch U, whom I agreed to mentor. Her degree is to be in Creative Writing and Social Awareness, and she organized a reading of pertinent works and a silent auction to benefit animal rescue organizations. I admit I wasn’t paying that much attention–she didn’t seem to need much mentoring, and her social focus was un-amiable to me– so the event took me a little by surprise, for I had fallen among the animal activists. These people can’t say “animal” but only “non-human animal,” couldn’t abide the ride in the elevator because there were pictures in it, and only of humans; can’t bear mention of Santa Claus without shedding a tear over his abuse of the reindeer. Wish I were exaggerating, but I’m not. I probed the air for humor, but there was none. They took turns leaving the room in heartsickness over the brutalities in the excerpts they chose to be read. One read surprisingly good poems excusing the fault of excess tenderheartedness. She didn’t mean that at all. I had some inkling of the procedure, because she sent me a story to read (an awful one with a sort of interesting premise), whereby I did stop myself from wearing the leather jacket I’d worn the rest of the week. I finally figured out what “milk is rape” meant. They all knew the buzzwords, and nodded as they came rolling out. The silent auction was larded with drawings of American Indians lounging about in forest glens with friendly animals, the fact that the AIs ate and otherwise used these animals apparently irrelevant to the purpose. My thoughts were confused, because I have what I think of as holy and informed reverence for nature, yet the attitude around me, though allied, caused me to cringe. Cringing without total disagreement. I feel the same around religious people, a believer in almost a fanatical sense who nevertheless is mortified around too much witnessing, too much talk of what should be private and experiential. The path that leads from revelation to extremism to idiocy is, unfortunately, poorly marked. Saw once beloved DD, and met his fiancé, who has a task ahead of her. The story I was given to read involved a fisherman who was given a heart attack by the sight of a puma. The story wanted the hungry puma to eat the man, but lifted up its petticoats and tip-toed off in another direction. Interestingly, the bit of a novel read by my mentee was SENSATIONAL, and, even more interestingly, had the brutal mutilation of a cat as a significant plot point.

Dream of my father sitting in his living room, telling me of a rest home to which he wanted to retire. I took the address and went there. The rooms were small, but the setting was at the edge of a vast wilderness, saw-tooth mountains in the distance. I told him what I’d found, but he said, with tears in his yes, “I want to go there.” This is the first moment when I thought he had visited me.

Deep turquoise in the study window.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

November 22, 2014

   In the middle of night there was an angry dream. I dwelt in a mansion at the edge of a glacier and a frozen arm of the sea, with some others. We were meant to take care of the mansion and the wilderness around, but the others in the group were at first carefree and then destructive. I came out one day and there were great holes cut in the ice sheet over the water, in which polar bears had been trapped and killed, dozens of them. The ice was red with their blood. I began screaming at the people. The only one whose identity I remember was N, and since he had been a friend I screamed at him most. I bellowed “I hate you!” to them at the top of my lungs, and then, to N in particular, I added, “I wish you had never been born.” Maybe sleeping in the front bedroom did this to me.
   Took S to see Don’t Dress for Dinner last night at NC Stage. It was a perfect clockwork, realized–again I would say perfectly–by a skillful and energetic cast. I am just not the right audience for farce, though. It is passingly amusing to see one lie build upon the other a tottering edifice as remarkable for what will be believed as much as for what will be said, but I think such energy should be in the service of– something. Anyway, I kept my mouth shut because S liked it so much. S is tall and thin and Indian-dark, and I wanted to introduce him as my son, to leave people to work out their perplexities.

  Rehearsal in Marshall not so gawdawful as in times past. My colleague bass could actually sing a few notes when I dropped out to cough.

  In a strange passion to bake and cook. I have most of the utensils left over from times in the past when this passion has, however briefly, struck.

 Will use today–I hope– to rewrite Washington Place according to the revelations of the reading.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

November 19, 2014

Reading of Washington Place at S’s house last night. I thought it went well. I didn’t cringe once at something I had mis-written. The one problem I thought it had–the fire coming on too abruptly–L assured me was not a problem, fire being by nature abrupt. The actors were unnecessarily afraid of the Yiddish and the Italian. It was too cold. It is now too cold, morning like the edge of a knife. My muscles are so sore from coughing each cough is to be dreaded. Thank God all that seems to have tapered off, after a frenzy of it at the reading last night. Bought a tiny rose to sit on a table until spring. Bought cappuccino which came without foam, and was lamenting that until I considered all the things the world has to lament.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

November 18, 2014

Thinnest salting of snow; thinnest sliver of moon.

Caught an odd plagiarism, one, it seemed, begging to be caught, so clearly was the matter not something that one of my students would address. Reminds me of the time in Syracuse when I had a paper on the War of 1812 which began, “During the late unpleasantness with Great Britain.” The student didn’t deny or excuse, and that will save her.

Monday, November 17, 2014

November 17, 2014

Hard rain falling on the study roof. High and lovely, actually. Another night of Verdun-ish coughing, though less than before. Was able to sing through the Cantaria rehearsal. Sunday of leisure, in which I wrote heroically.
From Ste in Cambridge:

Hi Pal,
Remember the night we stumbled along from the pickerel trapped arm in arm within the beautiful infiniteness of love. I do. It was magical. I can feel and see my production alive on stage. To be is all I see like Shakespeare jumping from cloud to cloud throwing out his letters in synchronicity. I have found some friends to play with. Lets hope I can bring them to The Black Swan one day. We could play all day.
Love you

Sunday, November 16, 2014

November 16, 2014

Fried eggs for myself this morning. I haven’t fried an egg for myself since I was in Boy Scouts.

Talked with Louly’s class about the poets of Black Mountain College. At the end, I liked Olson better than I liked Creeley. It had been the reverse when I walked in.

Acquired house plants yesterday. Planted a Christmas cactus that I’d been rooting, then bought African violets, two ferns, a blooming white cyclamen. These are added to the plants Jason left in the studio long ago. My mother had African violets for a long while. Did she get sick of them? Was their time ended when we moved? Did father shame her out of them, as he did so much else? They sat on a multi-level white wire shelf underneath an eastern window. I think I bought mine because of her. In any case, the house seems finished now. The houseplants were what it needed.

Brought three rose buds in before the night the thermometer dipped into the 20's. Not sure if they’re going to bloom. I think they’re too angry. I set them where they couldn’t see the ruin of their brethren out in the yard.

Rose early and wrote. That was well.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

November 15, 2014

Destined to be cold upstairs until somebody teaches me how to light the gas heater. One space heater is not enough and the second flips a breaker switch.

Class presentations. The brighter ones, the ones destined for grad school, try on academic jargon and reasoning like young gazelles pronking on the plain. It’s charming to hear them employ the buzz words and the shibboleths, trying them on, working into them. I heard “praxis” about fifteen times yesterday. At some point in the past it was “topoi.” One or two visits to academic meetings and the tone is set, the delight passed on.

Went to the concert of the UNCA chorus last night, for S’s sake, as I said, but Melodie was joyful to see me there. The singing was uneven, except for a featured men’s chorus, which was sensational. I could see mostly the altos from where I sat, and they were very earnest and beautiful, their unconscious grace and eagerness reminding me why I linger on in this employment. The theme was Veterans’ Day, and one song used the hymns of all the branches of the service. Melodie asked the vets to stand up when they heard their hymn, and it was unexpectedly touching to see a few old sailors totter to their feet during “Anchors Aweigh,” a clutch of wizened soldiers when the caissons started rolling along. It was a good thing.

Trembling a little at the end of what may be the last terrible week. Taking a breath.

Friday, November 14, 2014

November 14, 2014

Slept terribly last night, coughing coughs like the reports of rifles. This cold is nothing if not tenacious. I can see my students strain to catch the sound of my diminished voice.

The bar of soap I bought in Vienna is now used up.

Cast as Orisini-Rosenberg in NC Stage’s  Amadeus. Glad about it. It’s one of those parts small enough that the nightly strain will be at minimum, and yet faceted enough to make it worth the effort. It also conflicts with Spring Break, which we be a money-saver for me, not having to trek off to the wide world’s edge.

The more I think about Macbeth, the more I admire D for standing his ground before his awful Lady Macbeth, and not, in the general hearing, complaining about her once.

Some respite beginning today, though I did agree to talk to Louly’s class about Black Mountain. Knowing quite little, or remembering quite little, I must commence condensed research.

Going tonight to hear Sam sing.

Still turning over in my mind the meeting in New York. D suggests that in the name of equality next year’s contests should be open only to women. Silence in the room. I say, “No, that’s not fair; It’s not fair to men.” I have my statistics ready. In the Dramatists Guild Resource Book (last year) there were 26 contests or theaters open ONLY to submissions from women; not one only to submissions from men. I’m saved from opening my mouth by another colleague’s–a woman and an executive in a female theater collective— pointing out the Foundations female/ male and color/white proportions are far higher than the general proportions in New York theater. We didn’t know it then, but our own honoree this year was going to be a woman. It’s not worth your life to suggest that the perceived disadvantage of women in the theater is just that, perceived, anecdotal. My play was not chosen and a man’s was; therefore, there must be bias. Our Foundation received more applications from men than from women, but anybody is free to surf the internet or read the notices on green room walls, and there were exclusively women’s outlets we took care to notify, and I conclude that if fewer women entered than men, fewer women felt like doing so. I know that part of who’s talking is a male playwright, who’s sick of seeing “wymyn only” or “women especially encouraged.” Most contest submissions these days are “blind,” anyway, so unless somebody is cheating, the judges don’t know who made the work. People whose work is not chosen assume bias. People whose work is chosen assume fairness. It would seem to me that, in this case, honoring a bias would be far more laborious than being fair.
My Ebay china arrived yesterday, Noritake Gramatan, in three immense crates.  Only one serving bowl was broken. Amazingly, it all fit into existing spaces.
Maud, getting her neck rubbed, is the picture of contentment.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

November 12, 2014

Several days of sickness seem to be near an end. Teaching class being unable to speak above a whisper was fascinating. I could get past it with my torrential stage voice, but that took a toll. Threw my back out Sunday, have staggered around bent like an octogenarian. Unable quite to catch up since my return, the tasks spreading out a few inches every day beyond my reach. Need to go to the Y to work the back out. Computer infected while I was gone– though it was shut down. Sent out a cry in the morning night to my computer guy. I thought I’d lost the charging cord to my cell phone, and though I have a new phone (have had it since the month I moved to this house) which I could have charged up and used, I was suddenly overcome by grief– unfortunately, that sentence is not overstated– on behalf of my old phone, which has served me long and well, and which I thought I had betrayed by treating its cord carelessly. Found the cord, wept with gratitude. I don’t think that reaction was right. I was feeling bad, and am always vulnerable then. Today I am healthy and careless and cruel.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

New York New York 4

November 9, 2014

Cold, sore throat, hardly able to speak to the desk clerk as we were struggling to print my boarding passes.  This must be a good place to work; everybody is humorous and happy.

Meeting for the Foundation in Park Slope. Interesting, but also very, very leisurely. People do like to hear themselves talk. Five hours and more had passed and we were still not quite finished when D and I had to make a run for it back to Manhattan. Interestingly, though there was wrangling about the merits of the other plays, the first prize winner was first on the list of every single one of us. Some mystical apparatus in play there. That part of Brooklyn seems quite liveable. I don’t know why I’m always picking out places in New York to live, as the time for me to do such a thing is long passed. I realize I have as much money as the Foundation, and could be giving out my own prizes. If I thought I was going to die timely, I would. Our Founder was a pornographer, and we find ourselves in the odd position of hoping, someday, to receive some classy pornography we can reward to honor his memory.

It’s Only a Play that evening, a romp with all the biggest stars of Broadway. When I went to the concierge of the Merriott to get tickets, I was told that it was sold out and a random ticket would be upwards of $350. I walked across the street to the box office and got a box seat for $145. In the theater, the people in the box above me had paid over $300, and had stories of people in the orchestra who’d forked over $600 per ticket. That is ludicrous under any circumstance, and especially so since McNally’s play is feeble. It is laugh-filled, on the very low level of expert delivery of theater gossip. The bit of plot it might have had, involving a critic who is also a playwright, is dropped mysteriously.  Everyone in New York is in-the-know concerning theater gossip. Nathan Lane hit every joke out of the park. Rupert Grint, late of the Harry Potter movies, was able and professional. I don’t know what I was expecting. F Murray Abraham was ill last night, and his understudy was punished by the audience by no special applause.  Stockard Channing did the only real acting, and yet the circumstances tempted her into more mudding than might have been necessary. It was one of those evening which LOOKED like it was fun, but was actually rather boring. I shared my box with a grandmother, daughter, and grandson. Grandma was vehemently disappointed, whereas I was only mildly disappointed. They were all the time wanting to share their candy with me.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

New York New York 3

November 8, 2014

Rose early, worked on my play, drank coffee from the Corsos attached to the hotel, then walked from Times Square to Washington Square through the cool cloudy light. Made a stop at Bryant Park, to honor the spot where I saw the hooded warbler, the spot where I bought a homeless woman a croissant and watched her divide it and share it with the birds. A man was shadow boxing in Washington Square. I called it the Winter Sun Dance, as it was more dance than boxing. The inscription on the arch is “Let us raise the standard to which the wise and honest can repair. The event is in the hand of God.” I thought of TB, for he was with me the last time I was in Washington Square. I phoned him in St. Augustine, and heard about his recovery from years of debility because of allergies. Joyful. Walked to MOMA, but was disappointed because I could not lunch there, as is my custom. Spent some time at Columbus Circle, as I must. The pretty Park horses were sharing their feed buckets with the pigeons.

Albee’s A Delicate Balance at the Golden, which is run like a little fascist demesne.  I have been in, I think, six of Albee’s plays, met and talked with him twice, and seeing this play was like taking up a most formal and arch portion of an old conversation. The set was glorious, and it is always a pleasure to see such fine actors– John Lithgow, Glenn Close, etc– working near the top of their game. But, what of the rest? The play resonates eighty years older than its actual age, strives for a gilded Restoration tone, and has in it not one moment of reality. My aesthetic allows for a play not to have much reality in it, but here we have not fantasy but a sort of forced twilight which is meant to look like reality, which, repeated relentlessly, is meant to bludgeon the audience into accepting (rather as the electorate does) repetition for truth. None of the assertions the play makes about life is very or necessarily true, but the characters are so articulate they lull you temporarily into the sense that great (rather than minor and idiosyncratic) truths are being revealed. The play’s emotional temperature (like that of Virginia Woolf) is a kind of fever raised by revelations and complications we accept only because we have paid our admission and the night will be ruined of we do not. The audience sees the rules Albee has laid out, and part of it is sweetly eager to follow them. The play is funny. One gives it that. How is it that nobody has pointed out that Albee is Shaw’s successor, the witty lecturer who does not leave to chance the receipt of his message, who allows nothing to be discovered because he cannot stand not to explain everything fully, exhaustively, who does not allow freedom of interpretation because of the horror that someone might not get only and completely what he meant. I enjoyed my evening of theater, even with these things passing through my mind. The play is in previews, and people leaving by irritated little clutches during both intermissions does not bode well for its success. The big muscley man in the seat beside me complained bitterly, but stayed. I was glad for him, for that unavoidable slab of muscle on one side kept me warm. He called the play “bullshit,” and it was, of a very high, articulate, and scentless variety.

Friday, November 7, 2014

New York New York 2

November 7, 2014

Rain Thursday. Outside my window at dawn lay the angular jumble of the city, all line and plane grayed by rain. In the midst of it, perched on the peak of a roof, was a single gull, the one brightness, the one organic, living being. He made the whole city turn around himself as an axle makes a wheel. I went down to the Paramount lobby and began writing a play. I continued on the play in the sculpture court of the Met. The gull inspired the play, as did my reaction to On the Town the night before.

Subway to the Met. Ran first to the special showing of El Greco’s. Wandered and took in. Wandered, so far as I remember for the first time, into the American wing. I must have been saving that for a time like this. Lunched facing the gray rain in the green-gray Park. The horrible taxi ride back to the hotel consisted of forty blocks of the driver jabbering to his friend on speaker phone in one of those African languages that have no words, only modulations in a stream of sound. The cell phone has made us forget the occasion and the necessity of manners. I couldn’t stand it and jumped out of the cab long before we were home. Cleared my head in the ran. Thought of the paintings. Thought of my play.

My sickness is mild but exhausting. Slept as much of the afternoon as I had.

From the Internet:

I'm a longtime admirer of your poetry. I don't know of anyone else as good, now that Ted Hughes isn't around any more. I am writing to ask if I can use a short passage as an epigraph for a new novel, the sequel to my first one, "The God in Flight." "The God" is going to be published for Kindle soon, and I would like to bundle the first chapter of the sequel with it.

I would like to call that sequel "The Platinum Secret," which is your phrase, so I am asking your permission to do that. It is the only phrase I know that captures exactly what I mean. If I can use the material I have in mind, it would be perfectly clear that this concept is your concept.

Below is the material I would like to use as the epigraph:

Beloved reader, do not look for it here;
do not look for the platinum secret—
more precious than victory—
the disappointment men do not speak of,
after the hope which barely dared to breathe its name.

“After Reading Whitman at Midnight, He Returns to an Old Theme,” from Blood Rose

All the best,

Evening: off to Roundabout’s production of The Real Thing with Ewan McGregor and Maggie Gyllenhaal, Stoppard is the cleverest playwright in the world, and the show never disappointed on that or any other account: witty, perfectly acted, intellectually engaging. It gave me everything I lamented the lack of the night before. Happy with the Theater again, happy with Broadway. I was told I’d gotten the last ticket, and the sign said the show was sold out, but there were 20 seats in front of me in the mezzanine empty. The coat of the woman beside me stank rather shockingly. I wondered if her friend would tell her, or if she couldn’t detect it herself.

Joy returning up Times Square to bed. I thought of Blake’s “London.” Here there were no marks of weakness or of woe. Has the world changed so? Is that bit of it so special? Hundreds of smiling people taking pictures of one another under the dancing lights. Children petting the muzzles of the policemen’s horses.  Fifty languages. Ten thousand stories.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

New York New York

November 6, 2014

Ninth floor of the Paramount. This time I have a view of the complicated geometry of Manhattan. Slept through the flight, the reason turning out to be I have a cold, and most illnesses of any kind lead me to sleep. No complaints. I have practically no memories of the journey hither.

I wanted to buy a watch at the Swatch place (where I bought my last watch) and so that was my first destination. What has to be noted is that Times Square and environs brimmed with the handsomest men I had ever seen gathered together like that, throngs and dozens. I sat down at an outdoor table with my new watch and–watched. As the afternoon progressed, I did something I haven’t done in a long while; I went to O’Luney’s bar and slammed down vodkas until I was just short of staggering drunk, and then I wandered around Times Square happy and sodden and a friend to all. It was lovely. Saw Hank Azaria walking out of the American Airlines Theater on 42nd. He’s smaller than you’d think, but quite beautiful. Sobered up enough to get to the Lyric, where I had the best seat in the house to see Bruce and Jack’s On the Town. They will bring bags of candy and drinks to your very seat. When it was over, I turned to my companion-for-two hours in the next seat and said, before I knew I was going to, “Wasn’t that horrifying?” Though on any technical level it couldn’t be faulted, though the music is Bernstein and “perfect” in any way I could detect, it was, otherwise, a blaring caricature of what someone must have thought, at one time, was the red blooded American male in the red blooded American city, all manufactured naivete and chemical energy with the volume at full. I know it was meant to be “entertaining,” but it didn’t entertain so much as bludgeon one with every cliche in the vicinity of having a good time, defying one to stagger away at the end imperfectly entertained. The ushers stood around with cattle prods to shock you into jollity if it looked like you weren’t having the Time of Your Life. The end, where it all starts over, was actually profound enough to raise it a few levels in my estimation, but not above “exhausting.”  On top of it, I had arrived drunk with every intention of having a good old fashioned good time. Like coming to a restaurant for a meal, and not being allowed out until you’ve consumed the entire dessert try. It’s like– oh, it’s early in the gray morning. Let’s start again.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

November 5, 2014

Election day more of a disaster than can be spoken of. America has voted for the vampires while they were sucking blood out of their very necks.

Off to New York, assuming a routine journey, but who knows? Packed just one small carry-on, and I bet there’s still something in there I don’t use.

Quarrel with the humanities chairman, in which I was wrong, or at least weirdly entrenched, on most points. I think I make up too many scenarios, imagine too many twists and turns before I ask what’s really going on. I believe gossip too easily. I mistake confidences for truths. I do, on my side of the ledger, back off instantly if I sense I’m awry.

But, I do think I’ve learned enough lessons for a lifetime. Hold them off. Deflect the time of trial. It is time for ripeness. Even mercy.

Trying student J out as housesitter. He was very eager, and likes cats.

Ready, as ever, too early, or for things that may never come.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

November 4, 2014

Two memorable dreams. In one I was in Hiram under calm starlight. Nothing happened; I was just there, and serenely happy. In the second dream we inhabited a world in which a race of monsters suddenly appeared. At first there was fear and conflict, but after a while we began to learn that they were sentient and good beings under shocking exteriors. All Souls was one of their first places of refuge, and we sang a service there in honor of one of then which had been killed by a mob. Jack and I stood side by side reading from the same music. The music was not notes but shafts of color. Our part came in on yellow. The music sounded like old country Gospel, and the lyric I remember, the one noted in bars of yellow, was, “We have seen the light behind it, praise the Lord, praise the Lord” repeated in canon.

Election day. It is more than I can speak of. One side doesn’t even have a platform, but only messy and contradictory bundles of negations, most of them at the base simply bare-faced lies. And the wisdom is that they will win. I have said in the past “I can’t stand it,” I and I have stood it. I suppose I will again.

Monday, November 3, 2014

November 3, 2014

Left Macbeth before curtain call in order to be at a Cantaria rehearsal, where I was so sad about no longer being with my theater friends that I was probably not much use. Onward, forward, leaving new construction and ruins both behind. People remain vulnerable as they age; they simply have learned how not to show it, how to entertain vulnerability inside, like an uncomfortable guest so frequent now you hardly notice that he’s there.

I’ve lost the Cantaria repertoire wars. It looks like it’s going to be Broadway and jingle bells from here on out.

In the great wars of the spirit I have come to a bivouac of sad truce. Nothing in any book prepared me for this.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

November 2, 2014

Snow continued through the night, light but persistent. There was a point on 40 while I was driving home last night of near white-out.

Several friends at the performance last night, and it was good to see them. Sam & Sam from Humanities, who’d never seen Macbeth before, stood upon their long legs all a-smile. I wanted to party, but everyone was tired and far from home. What do I think of the production? There are excellences and deficits– all in all, taking in the standards of the Great World, I’d say we did above average work. The technical aspects were excellent, and at no point did the acting stand in the way of comprehension or enjoyment, I think. The sad part was how close to excellence some parts were without crossing over. Macbeth delivered the text without interpreting it. He was audible, energetic, efficient (“professional” would be the word), but there was neither delving nor discovery. His love is Commedia del arte, and the time you’re enthusiastic about Commedia might not be the time to take on a classic, iconic, thoughtful role. . . or anything with soliloquies. His sword fighting was excellent. MacDuff was both energy and contemplation. I have enjoyed doing this work more than I’ve enjoyed anything since Hamlet at the same theater. Some good angel smiles on it, and on the remnants of my conviviality.

Either return to or departure from Daylight Savings Time (I forget which), giving me an extra hour. Fighting off the onerous to get to the vital.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

November 1, 2014

Jeff’s review of Macbeth in the Mountain Xpress allowed me to have created a “regal and refined” Duncan. Overall review respectful, without enthusiasm.  Friday’s performance was the first one which was “perfect” for me, no reversed words, no substitutions. Amy and Bill were there. So tired when I got home I woke to find a wine bottle with the corkscrew half driven into the cork, poised where I had, apparently, given up.

Halloween evening gave me an icon of myself and my life: I’m hunched over my roses bushes, choosing what I can save, clipping bud and blossom to bring a remnant inside against the threat of snow. Above, the sky darkening, piling cloud upon cloud, the wind stiffening, the north and west already black. Snow fell through the night and one woke to winter. I moved in during a snow storm, so this isn’t a first for this house. 51 isn’t cozy: too many rooms have two or three walls which are mostly 90 year old windows. Tiny spiders, one of them pale green, were hidden in the petals of the roses I brought inside. I leave them to their fates. They can ride out with the spent petals if they hang on that long. Haven’t looked at the gardens, but they’re under an inch of snow and one is not hopeful. That’s human life, isn’t it? Hoping that THIS frost doesn’t kill everything, knowing that one of them, sooner or later, will.

Main Street in Waynesville was thronged with costumed families trick-or-treating. It was lovely.

Took a Facebook quiz meant to determine what state should have been my home state.  I got Alaska, and almost immediately thereafter messages saying, “Yes, that’s right for you; you need open space and quiet.” These were from near-strangers, and I wondered “how the hell would you know that?”

Late afternoon, and it’s still snowing. The roads are clear, so I don’t fear for tonight’s performance. Tom and I sat in Starbucks writing Country songs.

Troubadours on the CD.

Friday, October 31, 2014

October 31, 2014

Dark of Halloween morning. We did two school shows of Macbeth yesterday, to audiences which I thought were good and attentive, though people with better sight than mine saw kids texting. Enjoyed it, enjoyed my fellow stage workers. Ate donuts, which in the past years I have almost never done. The way there and back was like driving through an oven heated gold and red, though why that image occurs to me I don’t know, for it was also cool. They threaten snow for tonight. I will gather a great bouquet of the remaining (quite numerous) roses. One tree on the theater grounds is an amazing graying reddish brown.

Reading a biography of Duncan Grant.

Much of the workload at the end of the semester consists of unnecessary impositions by an administration which justifies itself by the power to demand busywork and to sap the time and energy of others. Post-tenure review, all set about with high falutin’ documentation, as though we were applying for the job we’ve been doing well for thirty years, which flatters the vanity of our overseers. I don’t remember receiving a performance report from the deans or the provost or the various titles which much be jollied from time to tome, and they are what goes awry when things go awry. The structure of higher education is so many carts trying to move before so many horses.

Dreary rehearsal in Marshall. I want to stay and socialize, like a good boy, at the end, but I find my feet willy-nilly bearing me at speed toward the door.

My scarlet canna is only now edging toward bloom. I have disserved it in some way–.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

October 30, 2014

It must have been cold, for the furnace worked all night. I thought I saw snow under the streetlamps this morning, but it was thick mist, moving in the air like snow. Gathering myself for the drive to Waynesville. At least the setting sun won’t be in my face. Yesterday was so grueling that I was in bed before 9, and up at the regular time.  Sleeping like that gives me epic dreams. The dreams just before morning were that my studio building had been moved far out into an open field, and there were new people in it, and I had to fake my way in and try to decide whether I were still welcome there. My paintings were recognizable; nothing else was.

Receiving tender, humorous friendship from some of the boys in my classes, the like of which I have not felt since college. The growing of my beard inspired a contest among them to grow theirs, heading for a judgment in “Novembeard.” They are trekking out to see me on stage, in a great brawling clump.I don’t know if I’m returning it rightly, affection for affection, or if that’s what they want from me, but I’m also trying not to worry about that too much, receiving this, merely, like a late bright flower in a stricken field. Whatever god has done this, I thank him.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

October 29, 2014

Nephew Jonathan visiting and now asleep in the front bedroom.  He is so very like his mother. You don’t realize that because there’s no physical resemblance. He’s here thanking some organization which helps him with money and speaking gigs, hoping ever to further his work in Thailand, which I understand better now that we have had a supper and conversation together. His sense of being chosen to help the people there “community-build” parallels my conviction of having been chosen for poetry, though it be far more cumbersome because far more public. He asks for alms and speaking engagements; I fled to the academy for employment. He already has the victory of turning out better than anyone would allow ten years ago. The excitement today us that he drives to Fort Mill to meet his birth father.  I have the excitement today of fighting through to the blessed evening.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

October 28, 2014

My Humanities students covered themselves in glory in their production of Medea yesterday morning. Not one slacker, not one grudging mumble. Many positive comments from the faculty. I hope they remember it fondly in years to come. I will.

Finally read all the entries for the Brown fellowships. One bad. Several all right. Three quite excellent.

Restful to come home last night and just sit in the quiet house.

Monday, October 27, 2014

October 27, 2014

First week of Macbeth accomplished. The Lit Club came Sunday afternoon, and they did not turn their faces away when I came to greet them, so it must have been well. Comments lead me to believe that my desire to make Duncan seem kindly and fatherly in contrast to what comes afterwards is realized. The drive to and from Waynesville in full autumn light was gorgeous, the mountains like ancient golden cloth spread from horizon to horizon. The feeling at the Y this morning was the muscles working out their stage-strain.

Clipped a white rose and an orange rose for my bedroom, which they perfume intimately. Clinging to the orange rose was a tiny gnat or ephemera. I tried to shoo him away, but he clung, finding folds of the blossom to hide in. He is still there this morning, like a lord safe in his own keep.

Medea late this morning. One by one duties drop away, others being added at a rate I hope I can control.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

October 26, 2014

Slept late, though it is still before dawn. The cats did not like this, and caused what disturbance they could. My dream was troubling, being at once dreary and durable, Every time I’d wake (it was a fitful night) the dream would start again afterward. There was a world at the bottom of the sea, where important people (I was one of them) would travel in a shaft of light opened from the surface, but the rest were in darkness. The theory was that there was light everywhere in the world above us, but no plan we had to get there worked.

Voted. Cooked masses of greens. Went in the morning to Cantaria rehearsal. The performance last night was good, the first time I recognized that the apparition scene is very powerful. Art says of my line reading, “diamonds fall out of your mouth.”  We are reaching the point in the crowded men’s dressing room where we notice that one of us talks way too much and another badly needs a shower.

The stars of my garden are the snowy camellia and the blood purple rose. Would that they were intermingled.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

October 25, 2014

I think opening night went well, Steve was happy and said it was a strong show. People said I looked handsome on stage, and that’s the main thing. A beautiful young woman gave me a bouquet of flowers. I had to delve her conversation for a while before I knew who she was– a former student who now runs a frame store in Waynesville. It is delectable getting flowers. Michael got me some Hostess cakes because my last word before death is “hostess.” Party afterwards with the opening night crowd. My play son Malcolm discourses in the dressing room on why sex and marijuana caused him to lose his taste for reading. I endure Macbeth’s lecture on Shakespeare’s Middle English without uttering a syllable. Lady MacDuff and I talk opera. I like them, and am having more fun offstage in a play than I have in a long time.

I think of when I played Macbeth myself, under my own accidental direction. Was I any good? Was I better than this one? Worse? I know I mined my lines for meaning and nuance more than this one does, but he gets them out with verve and energy.

SS is setting up a reading of Washington Place at his house. When things go as they are planned I am astonished, grateful.

Now that the cement urns in front of the house are flowerless, I fill them with peanuts for the crows, and the crows come. They are really startlingly large. They will eat all the peanuts out of the east urn before moving on to the west.

Thursday I sat with one of my Lit students after class, him confessing his spiritual life for the last couple of years. I looked at his face and loved him with limitless protective love. I rather wallowed in the emotion, and was not sorry when he did not leave. The Lord has ordained things so that one may find fathers when he needs them, that one might find the joyful strength to welcome spiritual sons.

Friday, October 24, 2014

October 24, 2014

Not so early in the morning. The cats had to wake me. Had to stay for the full count of Macbeth last night, which got me home a little before 11. Thanks to some Rioja I don’t know exactly when I got to bed. It was our final dress and first small audience. I don’t know how it went. Watching it on the screens backstage it seems slow, the actors oddly disengaged from each other. Adam is fabulous, but his energy makes it seem like he’s in a different production. That doesn’t mean it feels the same way in the house. The set is beautiful and works well. Whatever else is happening, this cast is friendly and happy and I’m deriving pleasure from being among them. I knew some people at the preview last night, though the people I invited ether didn’t come or didn’t stay. The drive home in the dark would be unendurable if you thought about it.

Feeling unusual personal interest and acceptance and friendliness from my students. The Humanities Boys mark the progress of my beard. This too makes me happy. One keeps one’s mind off the fleetingness of it all.

Almost paralyzed with relief that there is only one thing–the play– to do today.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A guy asked to interview me for his blog. I said yes. Why not use it for my bog?


Hello,Many thanks for accepting to be interviewed. Please see the interview questions below. I would be happy if you could answer all the questions. However, you're at liberty to ignore questions you do not want to answer. Please let me know if you want further explanation on any of the questions. All best, Geosi.


GG: Could you share with us your beginnings as a writer?

I don’t remember a time before the conviction that I was going to be an artist. In junior high those aspiration began to settle around writing, and when I was fifteen I began writing poetry, daily and obsessively. That never quite stopped (except the daily part) 

GG: You are an accomplished poet, playwright, professor of Literature and Language and visual artist. I am wondering how you manage all these works?

People do ask me how I manage all that, and I have nothing to say except that it doesn’t seem like such an achievement when you’re actually doing it. In my own mind I’m goofing off much too often. I suppose my social life has taken a hit down through the years. Plus, I get up at 4:30 in the morning.  I have no apps on my cell phone. 

GG: How different is the art of playwriting from poetry?

The best training for a playwright is to be an actor. The second best training is to be a poet, for poetry instills a sense of directness and conciseness, a sense of proper image that are all priceless in the writing of the play. The pitfall, though, is to write “poetic” plays, which are a temptation and nearly always dreadful. The poetry of playwriting is radically different from (though related to) the poetry of poetry. Playwriting is collaborative and poetry isn’t. You have to worry about what an actor can conceivably say, about what objects and effects can conceivably appear on stage. Ultimately, you have almost no control over the interpretation of your piece in the theater, and when you try to exert control, you look like a jackass. Only in bad plays are all the voices associated with the author; in poetry, that is pretty much the default. The actual FEEL of composing a play is very much like the feel of composing a poem. I can’t say much more about that other than to exhort your readers to put it to the test. 

GGi: Tell us about your work as a visual artist?

My work as a visual artist has to main modes: heavily textured and inventive abstracts, with mixed mediums and unusual supports. This is play for me. The second mode is what I suppose you’d call neo-Symbolic– recognizable objects organized in ways and combinations which are immediately meaningful and symbolic in my world. All are welcome in, though sometimes it takes some explaining. 

GG : Do you read lots of poetry?

No. Not really. Most very recent poetry is a waste of time. When I pick up good poetry it almost always sparks me to put down THAT book and go back to working on my own.

GG: Your plays have won some important awards including the North Carolina New Play Project as well as the Siena Playwriting competition. How long does it take you to write a play?

I have written some plays in six days. Other plays have taken a year or so, not of constant work, but of picking a failed or incomplete piece where I threw it down at some earlier session. The thing I keep from my students is that work is the best (for me) which came out swiftest and easiest. This is not supposed to be the case, but it is. If it’s hard, you’re doing it wrong. No that is should be easy, exactly, but I have not found that frustration is a useful part of the creative process, though it is part of barking up the wrong tree. When the play gets to a director or a producer, there is new work to do, but you can hardly anticipate that on your own. Again, the word is “collaborative.” 

GG: Do you think poems are easy to write than plays?

Poems are easier to write than anything. Not easy effortless, but easy joyful.

GG: What makes your poems and plays unique?

dear God, I don’t know. The fact that I rather than someone else have written them? I know I have a particular music, but so do others.  I am a Platonist and believe that some things are true and important while other things are not, and I would be surprised if this did not set me apart in some ways from my peers and inheritors. 

GG: What inspired your book, “A Dream of Adonis”?

A Dream of Adonis was the effort to take account of and hallow a series of love affairs in the 70's and 80's. I will never see those men again. Many of them are dead. But I wrote so they should not go wordless and unremembered into the void. 

GG: Do you write for a living?

I guess not. I got my job because I was a writer, but only a few months in my entire lifetime has income from writing been enough to sustain even my modest needs. 

GG: How long did it take you to write “The Sun in Splendor”?

A couple of years. I couldn’t get the beginning right. It started out while I was watching that movie “Moulon Rouge” where Nicole Kidman lives in a house on the roof. That became a mysterious figure on the roof, and that was the start of the book.

GG: Have you ever been rejected for a piece of work?

Oh boy, have I ever. I think in my own mind that I have 50 rejections for every acceptance. That might be an exaggeration; it might not.  I have four finished unpublished novels. That should tell you.

GG: Who reads your books?

I never know unless they get in touch with me somehow. If I look at my royalty checks I’d say “practically no one.” 

GG: Who are your literary influences?

Yeats, Pound, Keats, Edna St. Vincent Millay, James Stephens

GG: Do you think of style when you write?

My ear does. It’s all music to me. If the line doesn’t sound right, I change it.  That might not be “style” at all, but beyond that I never worry if I’m writing in “my” style or any style at all. 

GG: What are your main interests as a writer?

Wow. To tell the truth. To change people’s lives. To discover my own life.  To find my work, once, in an airport book shop. 

G G: From where did you scoop the term “Ailanthus”?

I made my living for a while as an interpretive naturalist, and have two books of nature essays. Ailanthus is the tree of heaven, a junk tree living in waste place in most northern cities. 

GG: Do you foresee the death of poetry anytime soon? In other sense, do you think the readership for poetry is dwindling?

Everyone I know is interested enough in poetry at least to lament (or gloat over) its “death.” People write essays about the irrelevance of poetry to make a name for themselves, or to justify why their poetry has failed.  No, it will not die soon or ever. Questions about the number of people reading poetry are silly. Far fewer people prepare inoculations than read poetry, and yet we would never say those people’s work is irrelevant. They both save lives. The humanity instilled in you by knowing poetry may save another without their ever crediting the true source.

GG: Are you currently working on any play(s)?

I’m working on the play Washington Place (about the Triangle Shirtwaist fire in 1911) to get it ready for a local production

GG: Having written half a dozen books of poetry, do you think you’ve not yet written what you may consider as the best poetry book?

The one I just finished and am now shopping around is called In the Café of Comedy and Tragedy.  It is the best work I’ve yet done.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

October 21, 2014

Starting the day exhausted. Great. First dress for Macbeth. The costumes they sent are 400 years off (very Renaissance-y) so we are trying to medieval them back a little. I like my costume, which needs to be taken in and belted, but that will not happen, so I’ll be a floppy baggy king for my ten minutes on stage. Lady M has a meltdown during our scene. I want to say, “just shut up and let me cover.”  Not ready even for one class today. White camellias in the back yard almost make it better.

Monday, October 20, 2014

October 20, 2014

Woke with one of those convictions of physical well-being. Hope it carries me through at least part of the day.

Worked Sunday in the studio, happily and productively. Framed a piece to celebrate Steve’s marriage to Daniel. They are silly happy to be married. We should be more amazed than we are that this should have happened in our time. If you’d have told me when I was a kid that I might marry a man someday I’d have doubled over laughing.

Went to Cantaria rehearsal ready to make a scene about everybody’s making a scene, but no provocation was offered, alas.

A stream of Facebook communications from Bruce and Jack about their incredible triumphs, The Scottsboro Boys in London, On the Town in New York. It’s hard to credit having known them in the context which was, and the resources they put into my comparatively modest plays. Bruce looks so happy in the photos; he has one of those faces which registers emotions pretty clearly, and his emotion during Lincoln was worry, that everything was costing too much. I can’t imagine there was much outlay compared with On the Town, but who knows? Maybe that was simply his producer face. I wish that these triumphs were coming with new works, but one is told time and again that’s not how it happens on contemporary Broadway. May they get stinking rich and decide to experiment again.

Roses in frantic bloom.

Facing what will be a hellish week without an ounce of dread. For the moment.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

October 19, 2014

Cold. I wear a watch cap on my head. I hate winter. I stand with my hands arched over the little oil heater in my study. I hate when people chirp, “Oh, don’t you love this brisk fall weather!” No, I do not.  It is late in the morning and still dark. I don’t like this.

Worked rather brilliantly at the studio yesterday morning, left as other began to appear. That is not my intention. I would rather work with everyone chatting in a full house. That seemed to happen when Jason was there.

Revised Tavistock Square, adding Maud Gonne where she should have been since the beginning.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

October 18, 2014

Brilliant morning, fat grin of the moon, a few collections of stars bright and sharp as diamonds.  Troubadours on the CD.

While I was mulching yesterday, my mind fell on many things, one of them being recent politics at the university. When the former Provost announced her resignation, I was surprised mostly because it seemed to be voluntary. She had, so far as I knew, not been asked to leave or persuaded that it was the right thing for her. This surprised me because she had been a disaster, widely loathed, and what people who liked her usually did in her defense was to point out certain things she had NOT gotten wrong, as though burning down the house and poisoning the well were OK so long as you kept a neat garden. Yet she moved on to a position at least as prestigious as the one she left. This pattern is a repeat of what happened to certain of her predecessors, some of whom, unlike her, left under an acknowledged cloud. I thought then that college administrators –maybe executives in general-- are like nomads, fouling one space and then moving on to another, under a charm whereby their previous misdeeds go unreported, or are forgiven by some magic extended only to administrators. The positions they fill are designed to give them income, not actually to give the institutions service.  Our former Chancellor, I heard, left with a retirement gift of over $200,000. When challenged, she said it was part of the plan, not to blame her, but to blame the system. And so I do.

Dinner with DJ at Avenue M. It was crowded, and we were mashed in with two men clearly straight but also clearly infatuated with one another. Fascinating to watch is the affection of straight men toward each other, singular and beautiful,  in some part because of its awkwardness. One of them was a stonemason specializing in waterfalls. He said that talking with his son (I gathered) was like talking to a demon out of hell. The other spilled a beer, and for some reason the waitress declined to clean it up, so we did.

Maud crawls onto my lap, demanding attention. She is so modest in her demands that when they come, they are met.

Friday, October 17, 2014

October 17, 2014

Brilliant afternoon. I bought all the mulch I thought I was ever going to need, fertilized the soil and then overlay the mulch in anticipation of everybody’s long winter’s nap. Ironically, the day is fine and warm and not wintry at all. I fell asleep in my walled garden in the big white chair, and when I woke, peridot-green cuckoo wasps were hovering like jewels in the air, and sunning on the white slats. It was blessed. Almost too exhausted by the week to remember exactly what I did. Must look forward, then, and not back. Rehearsal in Marshall more enervating than the first time. I guess the charm of novelty had worn off. Forgot how otherworldly the drive along the river is. Lady M tries to register the complex of emotions she feels she must be feeling in our scene, which results in a kind of facial rictus where laborious indications of these emotions are displayed one after the other. I can’t look at her. I must re-block myself so as to look plausibly at something else. The white camellia is blooming, modestly and low to the ground. All the new roses are blooming.

Found in a drawer an envelope containing photographs of Titus and Conrad when they were kittens, before they came to me. The photos were taken by Cindy Ho. All of them are gone now.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

October 15, 2014

Impressive deluge yesterday. The rain against the streetlight looked like, first, a silver curtain, and then a black curtain shot with lights. Despite the storm, whimpering with gratitude for a night at home. Cooked a meal for myself for the very first time at 51. The act of cooking and eating uses up an evening in a remarkable way.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

October 14, 2014

Deep rain extending the night.

Sick yesterday, and had to leave school early. Felt better after a long nap, and some of Will’s pills.

The first notes of Brahms’ Symphony #4 began as I eased out of the theater parking lot in Waynesville, and the last notes died away as I entered my own driveway. I thought this shapely and portentous.

On that note, DS is swift and decisive, though there is no contemplation in his speeches, and only rarely discovery. Macbeth as beautiful wild beast. Lady M continues to be– inexplicable. Adam is perfect, a mote of atomic energy-- though his size makes his opposition to the looming Macbeth the more remarkable. No idea how I am, though I tripped over the lines last night I thought I knew so well. The set is wonderful, a space age Stonehenge.

Brahms still in my head. It will make me glide through the day, hesitant and elegaic.