Thursday, December 31, 2015

December 31, 2015

Stepped on my cell phone. It works, but the screen is gone, so I work in darkness.
Took my Prius to be restored by handsome hillbilly Dave, was given a dark Camry by the rental people. Amber brought it to my house; she has just graduated with a Communications major from North Greenville College, and doesn’t think she wants to work her way up through the ranks at Enterprise, which she has found disappointing.
My massive Poetry of Ireland in its green shamrocked binding has been my bathroom reading. The notable thing is that almost all the poems crammed onto its almost 700 pages are bad, really, really, bad. So far only J C Mangan has risen above the lot. Even the famous Thomas Moore has his clotted and opaquely allusive work redeemed mostly by their beautiful tunes. One suspects that the mass of poetry at all times was bad– which is to say, it got the form right, but without discovery, without exploration, without much personalization. It seems to me that contemporary poetry has an edge here– that readers no longer accept a poem simply because its structure is recognizable and the path it follows is familiar. Poetry becomes better by being less everyday, by no longer appearing daily in the newspapers, by no longer being broadsided onto city walls. On the other hand, its very lack of familiarity makes it seem difficult and esoteric.  Sometimes it IS difficult and esoteric, or replaces the sloth of needless repetition with the sloth of reflexive innovation.
Washington Places’ recent triumph makes it seem the big news of the year. Let me think on that.
Pain in my right shoulder at times almost unbearable, as well as being idiopathic. On the other hand, I realized yesterday that I had conquered acid reflux.

Afternoon. Bought a doorstop for the door that has been annoying me since moved in; got a new phone-- an Android smartphone, all bells and whistles– from Amanda who is pregnant and won’t be partying tonight; napped memorably with Maud on my feet. I have never felt less valedictory or sum-it-all-up-ish in my life, so, simply, goodbye 2015.  The New Year’s split-pea soup is made. The bourbon punch is cooling in the fridge.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

December 30, 2015

    MountainXpress picks Washington Place as the best production of the year. JM writes:

In a year of excellence in the WNC theater scene, it is a daunting task to narrow to the top five.

5. An Iliad was a tale as old as time, told in a sparse way on the bare stage of North Carolina Stage Company. Willie Repoley was dynamic as the sole actor on stage, recounting wars waged from ancient Greece to the 21st century. Accompanied by haunting music from lone pianist and composer Jan Powell, this show was stirring and mesmerizing. N.C. Stage’s strong year had many great shows, but the one that stuck with me the most was this partnership production with Immediate Theatre Project.

4. Art was a play I knew quite well, having been in the show myself once. The folks of The Actor’s Center of Asheville had a daunting task ahead of themselves in pleasing me with their production at Asheville Community Theatre’s tiny 35 Below space. Happily, the stellar acting trio of Dan Clancy, Robert Dale Walker and Kevin Patrick Murphy nailed it.

3. Asheville Community Theatre has cracked the code on what it takes to fill houses and grow audiences. This year, Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein came alive as a Halloween treat for theatergoers. And despite being a nonprofessional community theater, the company gave us one of the most refined and professional productions of the year.

2. Chasing Rainbows: The Road to Oz closed out Flat Rock Playhouse’s 2015 season with a strong production that is ready for Broadway and Tony Awards. I feel strongly both could be in the company’s future. Flat Rock Playhouse has lived up to its designation as the State Theatre of North Carolina. It’s strong season also included the spectacular Tuskegee Airmen saga, Fly.

1. The Magnetic Theatre produces new works, which can be a daunting task. One show was simply the most moving and inspiring piece of theater I saw all year. It was a tale of the last day of the lives of the ill-fated women who worked in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. It also reminded me of just how wonderfully intimate theater can be. Local author David Hopes’ Washington Place was the best show of 2015.

    Me, astonished and gratified.

    The sky has clouded again with rain. It is not possible.

    DJ and I, drinks at Sovereign Remedies. A derelict asked for money for a drink outside, and I gave it to him. He engaged me in a few minutes of mad derelict talk, and I realized I miss mad derelict talk. I have made things too safe for myself– all in the interest of protecting “my art,” which has scarcely repaid the energy that went into it.

    Insurance inspector comes and approves more money than the estimate asked for, saying that it was underestimated. I shrug and say “fine.”

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

December 29, 2015

Days since Christmas have been taken up mostly with fussing– insurance for the damage to the car, finally signing the papers for 62– and for a person who hates fussing almost above anything else it has been trying. The insurance inspector already cancelled one appointment, lengthening my sit-here-and-wait time by three hours. “Oh, I forgot I have a meeting in Brevard.” Says I, “Skip the meeting.” Silence on the other end. The damage estimate on my car is north of $1600. I hate fussing so much I actually considered just paying it so no calls had to be made, no appointments cancelled and rescheduled.
I think of myself before our last show, almost weeping with frustration because we had to come 15 minutes early to “rehearse.” It’s not that we didn’t need it, but just that my resentment of being made to do something, of blindly following somebody else’s program, is almost incapable of moderation. I would have made a terrible soldier.
Just-more-than-half moon in the sky when I went to the gym.  Brilliant star in the east. Big old crow waiting in the dogwood when I came home.
The day of repose I think I’ve earned keeps receding into the future.

Monday, December 28, 2015

December 28, 2015

Got out of my car in the Racquet Club parking lot in the dark before morning. Was struck by the voices of the frogs, the cross-backed hylas, in the ponds and ditches thereabout. My heart leapt, though it is a false spring, and perhaps those voices will go silent for a while before the real one comes.

We finished off All Is Calm on Sunday, and not particularly on a high note. We may not have finished well, but we finished, and that is enough. The experience was a net loss for me, in ratio of energy expended to value returned, though I know that our audiences thought quite otherwise–that they were moved and touched–and that is the important thing. Big lunch at a Mexican place afterward. I maneuvered so I could sit by C, and take in his eyes and voice.

Woke to myself screaming in pain as I rolled onto my inflamed shoulder wrong this morning. If I were looking for a title for this year, “The Year of Pain” might be a candidate, except my guess is that here will be tougher contenders on down the line.

I feel weight coming off me. I do not today have to hurry to do anything. Sat in the High 5 and wrote.

December 27, 2015

Turquoise dawn, the moon a pale egg rocking over the trees.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

December 26, 2015

My lawn is a scatter of pale lilac crocus. On Chestnut Street a cherry is in bloom. Two performances today, two of the last three. The final analysis is that it has been too hard, though maybe a finaler analysis yet is that the show moved many, and in time we will forget how hard it was. Did get me out on the streets at night, watching the happy after-Christmas revelers. Did sit in the café for a while, writing.

December 25, 2015

Mad drive home in constant rain. Like driving underwater. Not one stop, barreling northward. But a successful holiday with family, all good, all bright. My sister has a houseful every year, and I manage to keep up a little with their lives seeing them once a year, or once every couple of years. All the young ones are boys. This makes for a kind of peace. My Christmas was oddly serene this year, even holy, the strangeness of hotel life encouraging me to focus on matters of the spirit. My window faced east, where I watched the sun rise. I felt Christmas-y.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

December 24, 2015

Awakened on Christmas Eve by thunder and lightning. A great mass of water dives from the sky, all deeply musical, if distressing at this time of year. Are there still Global Warming scoffers? It has hours to clear away before I hit the road.
All Is Calm flawless last night, at least all that issued from my seat.  The house continues to be packed, the money continues to roll in. I am happy for everybody.
Met Z in the back alley by night, and was embraced.
Despite our quarrel, Image puts my “Carol of the Infuriated Hour” on their Facebook post for Christmas.
Very bad night, but I seem to be recovered now. There either is no God or He can put up with a great deal of imprecation.

Hilton’s Embassy Suites in Alpharetta, a gigantic room (by the standards of one whose recent hotel experiences have been Europe and New York) on a boxy atrium, with a big decorated tree on the main floor, and attendants dressed in Santa hats. I am, in an odd sort of way, the way of the explorer, content. Hung out at the North Point Mall for a while, taking in the happy, celebratory faces. The boys have the mannerisms of my nephews. The drive was an endless swim through rain that varied from thin to torrential. Tedious. Dangerous. The car radio crackling with lightning. Early on, the truck in front of me shed a long strip of tread from its tire which flew back and hit my car. When I stopped, I saw that there was substantive damage, the tread having marred the fender and  knocked the front parking light out of its socket. It’s always something. Gave the cheerful Hispanic waitress a tip larger than the bill. Fighting off exhaustion until it is really night. What if there is a gift with my name on it under the tree in the morning?

Talked with a sad woman at the hotel bar– where the drinks were free until 7:30. Her children are ungrateful. Her father just died and the expected inheritance is tied up by Merrill-Lynch and a self-serving sister who is serving as executrix. Her daughter just barred her from seeing her granddaughters Christmas morning.

The oddest thing. I was talking with an old guy in he elevator when I heard myself say, “I don’t know how Santa is going to find me so far from home.” That random thought filled me with such grief and forlornness I have not yet shaken it off.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

December 23, 2015

Slept shamefully yesterday, but it was delicious. The performance of All Is Calm was, finally, good enough, the audience large and appreciative. Also, uncharacteristically young. The beautiful young man from Amadeus was looking yet more like Hermes. Tout le monde was at Avenue M afterward. S is downstairs sleeping in the guest room (what a joy to write “guest room”) rather than hauling all the way back to Greenville. Found a way to be in Atlanta on Christmas. It is summer outdoors. We will have to pay for that. I go out and whisper to my garden, “Don’t believe it. It’s a trap.”

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

December 22, 2015

Lovely breakfast with C, whose life is stunningly more complicated than mine. I have striven for and achieved a kind of simplicity. This is both good and bad, but, in the end, according to my nature. I smiled for hours after leaving him. He said he left Asheville because he was beginning to smell of desperation. I’ve gone through a couple cycles of smelling of desperation, and yet stayed put. Then with DJ to see the new Star Wars, which in terms of achieved artifact is the best of them all. Gorged on, wallowed in the night off. Woke to the news that the music is to be further neutered to accommodate our incompetence. My defenses were down, and I actually shed tears. Will fight this tonight. It is better to fall short than not to try for the noble thing. Why doesn’t the acrobat just dance on the ground? Fed up. Smooth wet morning. I sat in High Five and admired the gentle, handsome men, and wrote.

Monday, December 21, 2015

December 21, 2015

Longest night paling to a kind of powder-lilac.

Seven concerts in five days. I recognized why I hate the show. It’s the first time I’ve been associated with factory art– that is to say, art which is meant to stay exactly as it is, to be free of innovation or variation, to be presented as often as possible to as many people as possible as a saleable commodity, wherein the institutional people involved act not as collaborators but as overseers.  I’m not even saying this is bad–it is in fact a producer’s dream–I’m saying I’m not used to it, and need more preparation, and more compensation, before I become used to it. And it needs to be at a time when the Christmas break is not ground away by it. I remember TL back in the Candle Station, painting away for his agent like a handsome machine. And he is dead. But, many familiar faces at the show, including C, home and stinging from what he thought was a bad audition at Chicago’s Irish Rep. Our second try at the Cantaria concert was a hit. Splendid, even, and my irritations went away for the duration. Chocolate cake at Avenue M to follow it up.

What do I want? For things to be proportionate– for X effort to produce X’ effect. Maybe actually what I want is to be lucky.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

December 20, 2015

Our Saturday shows were pretty much flawless, vocally, which is a load off, for the moment.  Today is another day. The plan was to meet Mike and Casey after the show and have a get-together at the Vault. Of course they were not there, but having dinner in West Asheville. So, home I went. I’ve crossed the Atlantic to see people who then refused to see me. I don’t understand what a burden a drink or a cup of coffee could be, even if just to keep me from standing miserably alone in the middle of the street.  Two different programs today, All Is Calm and the Cantaria Christmas Concert, round #2.  I will hate each for the sake of the overburden. It is not the right way to live. Each time you think, "Maybe this will be the right deed, the deed that changes everything." But you end up doing it just to have it done. People say “what a great bass voice” and I try to think of that as sufficient. It would be sufficient if everything else weren’t such a howling void.

I think 62 is glad to have a family in it. It’s hung with Christmas lights, something I never did, for lack of an outside plug. Maybe Will put one in.
Sat down at Starbucks with someone I thought was Tom. He smiled. I smiled. I made for the door.
Day paling to a blue like the inside of a shell.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

December 19, 2015

Morning of multiple leaden despondencies. Sat in the café and let the weight sink upon me for a few minutes, the morning sun in my eyes so tears of frustration could look like a physical response. Nothing is changed but time, and I feel better, and I don’t want to return there to figure it out. An editor who stupidly refuses my work wants a contribution to his magazine. The calm I sought with morning coffee obliterated by a seven foot tall braying jackass. I hate the show and regret with my whole being not only taking it on, but desperately WANTING to, back when it seemed a good idea. Last night I had to cough at the exact instant a solo of mine began, the big intake of breath irritating the throat, and the sound that came out was ungodly. Christmas is obliterated for me, and for what, and how many more do I have left? If we once got it right, maybe I’d feel differently, but since there’s some new calamity every night, it doesn’t seem likely. Two shows today, one show and a Cantaria concert tomorrow. I’d say it’s unendurable, except that I know I’ll end up enduring it. The audience seems to be moved anyway, but I’m sorry it’s despite rather than because of us. No time and no desire to buy or decorate a tree this year. I did squeeze limes and make limeade. That I hold up as my achievement.

Friday, December 18, 2015

December 18, 2015

We did not cover ourselves with glory at the Cantaria concert, the weak place being exactly that place in the intricate “Silent Night” where the ensemble blubs at the theater. Personally I felt I did well, and it was good to have again the support of my brothers around me. Singing solo night after night is exhilarating, but not restful. Even the weakest singer can sometimes guide and correct.
Food at Avenue M afterwards.
Wake recent mornings to dreams of some intricate procedure or accounting process or memorization task that I can’t quite figure out.
Purcell on Pandora.
Inflammation in my shoulder so great I can hardly lift my hand to the keyboard.
Truman play chugging along, smooth and liquid in the way I have come to recognize successes.
Cold this morning, wintery, at long last. I could live in eternal summer, but my garden could not.

December 17, 2015

Last night’s performance was an “almost”– which is to say we cured the big common problem, but then had our baritone soloist simply drop out during “Auld Lang Syne” for reasons unknown. Jack and I had a drink at Southern, catching up on old times.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

December 16, 2015

Amazed by my own capacity to nap. Ideas pile up like ice in a jammed river.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

December 15, 2015

Almost afraid to look at the Carolina Curtain Call’s review of All Is Calm, but it is a good one, and probably what the audience in general feels. Relief. I feared “Who was that bass sounding like an injured narwhal?”

Went to the café to see Tom, but he was so merrily engaged with Wind and, I suppose, their script, that I didn’t disturb him, sat outside in the cool sun with my hot chocolate.

Reading Orieux’s biography of Voltaire. There was a familiarity on those pages which I at last realized had to do with my wanting in high school exactly the life the Voltaire wanted: to be known for wit and sophistication, to write wittily and stingingly, to cause a kind of stir when I walked into the room. I suppose we both got that to the degree we actually wanted it. I suppose we both thought our native talents lay in that direction, though I was either wrong or abandoned the path quickly amid the forests of Hiram.

Blazing bright day. Even my flannel shirt is too much if I stand in the sun.

Monday, December 14, 2015

December 14, 2015

Gentle rain, between blasts of not-so-gentle wind. Rose in the dark to take Stewart’s finally derelict wheelbarrow to another life at a junk store down by the river. Did it before dawn because not sure the junk store wanted it. An outlaw, in my own little way.
Slept magically last night.  Maybe I slept magically because the day’s level of exhaustion was a kind of violence. All Is Calm, where again we snatched mediocrity out of the jaws of excellence. People love my big fat bass, though, and that repairs some of the ruins left by multiple disappointing enterprises. Stopped at Sovereign Remedies for a bit of lunch and wine, a very small lunch which would nevertheless make me very sick during Cantaria rehearsal an hour later. Stomach sick over that, and racked by mini-spasms in muscles all over my body– from perching on the stool? Using the same muscles for singing? Two weeks of idleness? Dehydration? I don’t know, but it was two hours of almost ludicrous misery.    

Ben, the bartender at SS, hails from Philadelphia and seemed to be interested in talking philosophy. Everyone reminds me of somebody these days.
Returned to the Y after many days given over to the complex and exclusionary struggle of the play. Inflammation is no worse after a round of weights, maybe better. Everything else, better.
Almost whimpering with pleasure at the idea of a day with nothing in particular to do.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

December 13, 2015

Another spring day. Last night the show went well for the first time. Well enough. No outright disaster. It was our official opening night, and there were champagne and amazingly good cake. It was the right night to do well. Food afterwards at Avenue M. The kind bartender at Sovereign Remedies gave me free tea, a delicious dark cardamon.

Inspired to return to my Truman play.

Spike of rage at an email requesting going over “just a few things” before the matinee. The time of rehearsal is done, for better or worse. I am one of those who knows how much energy he has to give to a particular thing, and is finished when he is finished whether the thing is accomplished in the conception of others or not. There will not be an extra rehearsal. We will not come five minutes early, or start five minutes late, so the leader gets to scratch one more time the itch of some anxiety. We will not “drill.”  I leave a full cart in the check-out line when it has gone too slow. Was willing to walk out of the Syracuse Ph.D. program at the last moment, dissertation done, and would have done so, had Sutton not relented on “one more rewrite.” Things have a beginning and an ending, and those who do not acknowledge the ending are as bad as those who never begin. Let us consider the wisdom of enough.

This was my grandmother's birthday. 123 years ago. 

Saturday, December 12, 2015

December 12, 2015

Luxury not to have to go to the theater until evening. We did get a little practice in, which did not prevent us from having, I think, the worst night yet, or at least the most inexcusably bad night, since all the “hard” parts were excised. Kamikaze baritones torpedoed us in harbor. The large crowd which stayed for talk-back did not mention this, so perhaps they didn’t notice it. But I’m sure Charlie did. I’d be surprised if we are asked back next year. One woman said, “Are you the one with the deep voice?” “Yes.” “I wanted the whole time to ask you to sing ‘Old Man River.’” I said, “Wave a dollar in front of me and see what happens.”
The bad singing disheartened me. I went from anxiety to get it right to weariness with the whole thing without any period of excited accomplishment in between.

Hiking back to the car through the lively city, I stopped at Brasilia for a drink at the bar. The bartender, Shu, is a Chinese-American who had never made a hot toddy before. But, enjoyed his conversation. He says he hates to go back to China now because everyone there is a Capitalist obsessed with money. He still laments the Nationalist fall, and recommends Mao as a better poet than people think he was. I recited Pound’s “Bowman of Shu.” He had never heard of Pound, or of any Westerner writing Chinese poetry.
Day of summery mildness. I opened my windows for a while. The camellia is duty red.

Friday, December 11, 2015

December 11, 2015

We dumbed the score down enough that last night was, I think, well enough done. The audience was huge, perhaps a full house. Many familiar faces. I’d had an adventure beforehand. Was hit by some old lady in her van in the Fresh Market parking lot. It knocked me down. I thought she was going to back on over me, but people screamed at her and she stopped. I’d grabbed on to her bumper to pull myself up when she decided to pull forward. That wrenched my arm out of its socket. I stood up, unable to move my right arm. I kept looking at it as though not sure what it was for, hanging at my side like that. A former student (thank God) had watched the whole thing, came over and said, “You arm’s dislocated. I’m an EMT. I’ll fix it if you like.” “Yes,” says I. He grabbed hold and the next instant all I saw was white, and that white was the appearance of the most amazing bolt of pain. I began to throw up from the pain. What a sight all this must have been. But the arm worked and I was able to get to the theater, though people had to help me in and out of my shirt. Achy today, but, then, it was already achy. The bruise on my hip is the real sight. And so it goes.Hobbled home after the show, had a hot toddy at the new Sovereign Remedies.

Went to school to discover I have been given an “equity adjustment” raise, and a pretty hefty one. Most excellent surprise. I didn’t think anyone in the Offices ever thought of me.

Having a bit of fence pulled out to improve the sweep of the yard. My tiny red camellia is blooming.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

December 10, 2015

Sold-out house last night. We made the same mistakes in the same places we always do (by “we” I mean the baritones) so after the show C and S made cuts, sheering away the material we just couldn’t seem to get. It was humiliating, but necessary, and takes, for me, the anxiety level down to about a 4.  While The Powers were deciding our fate after the performance, I wandered through the theater and found the chair I bought in honor of my mother. I sat in it and felt, suddenly, very lonely.

Dinner at LAB, everyone remarking on the waiter’s remarkable arms.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

December 9, 2015

Woke sad. Tried to find the reason for it– maybe just that I thought tonight was going to be rehearsal-free, and S snuck in a rehearsal. Rehearsals on the nights of performances are mad, yet there is no way of convincing panicky directors of that.
Invited dress last night, a goodly number of people. The report was that they enjoyed it, were moved by it, and yet my mind is concentrated on the mistakes. Tonight is sold out, and other nights are filling fast, so the word-of-mouth is fantastic. Who knows how to predict these things? Is it just the subject matter? If so, there’s a lesson.
“Friends and Family” tonight. I will drill the mistakes I made last night and make new ones tonight.
Dinner at Southern with some of the boys and the actor C, whose beauty–inner and outer-- at the moment fascinates me.
J’s selfish bumbling infuriates me in a way that’s difficult to contain. He’s harmful, wasteful, consuming. But everybody is patient, so I hold my tongue, I’ll find out that he’s had a stroke or something and then be ashamed of myself. Now I think he just contrives to be the center of attention in whatever way is available. Nothing discoverable about him on the Internet, though he brags of having been a renowned director.
Received the bound Washington Place in the GPTC publication.
Writing on the Hiram book. I think that it’s potentially a great book. I never thought exactly that of anything else I’ve written– merely that it was better than anybody else’s.

December 8, 2015

The pomegranate cookies were actually quite horrible. Did no one test the recipe? Day blasted away in rehearsal. C has a new vision for the show, which involves playing fast and loose with the score we have been at such pains to get perfect. What are you going to do? Let’s hope the authors don’t attend. Still, I have no doubt his ideas are right for the place and time. We realized that some passages sound awful even if done perfectly. I am not the sort of person who is entirely convinced by the argument, “but they’re MEANT to sound awful.” Well, then, mean something else.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

December 7, 2015

Pearl Harbor.

Lapping one day of rest like honey off a silver spoon.

Studied the score. Wrote on the Hiram book.

Received a call from the faux IRS saying this was their final warning. I should have listened to the end to see how much money they wanted me to send where.

Baked pomegranate cookies. Holding a mixer is one of the activities prohibited by my ruined shoulders. Nevertheless, my playwrights will have cookies tonight.

Monday, December 7, 2015

December 6, 2015

Transplanted the wisteria that came already too twisted ever to be a tree. Now it has something to lean against. Good, firm & abundant roots. Day obliterated by rehearsal: a case of diminishing returns, but also a sort of joy, because I thought my voice would never hold up, and it’s gotten over its delicacy, and has. Director too confident in his own ear. Me, too easily distracted, my mind wandering after a while (exhaustion?) even in difficult parts. Took no dinner break (we had maybe 20 minutes what with one rehearsal and another) but stopped at 5 Walnut, drank one glass of exquisite Portuguese white. The band played “One of These Days,” and I allowed myself to think it was in honor of Washington Place.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

December 5, 2015

Geminiani on Pandora

Began the day before light, sneaking the discarded bedframe into the apartment dumpster. It was exciting. Got my blood moving, with just a hint of the illicit. The larger of the two delivery giants had recommended this action.

Did terrible last night at rehearsal, a little grenade of error. Don’t know why, as I did practice at my electric keyboard. Maybe that gave me a false sense of confidence. The city streets are alive as I walk the varying distances to my car after rehearsal. I want to go into a bar and meet someone and have a drink, but my feet keep walking and my back thinks of bed. My throat is holding up magnificently, thanks be to God.

Birds call strangely, a little viciously, from the cover of my hollies at dawn. I’m not even sure what they are, unless they’re mockingbirds trying, almost successfully, to frighten me.

December 4, 2015

Corelli on Pandora.

Planted two peonies coming late in their own square of dusty earth.

The first things visible in the back at morning are the tops of the two discarded pumpkins, a deep orange glow, the predations of the squirrels not yet visible. They’re meant to rot there and their seeds send out vines for me in the spring.

Friday, December 4, 2015

December 3, 2015

Three beautiful young men came to my office and confessed their love for me. I have sunk so far into worldliness, and turned so many words to base labor, that I cannot find a pure language to describe the moment. But they were radiant, manly, heroic, three Parsifals, three Adams before the Fall, their emotions pure as angels’. They came separately and were unknown to each other. One I will call Energy, one Love, and one Courage– which in this world must look like sadness. I did not do well by them, for their confessions were so abashing that I tried to deflect them with a joke, or to turn to other subjects. Who but God is so self-assured as to take admiration full on? Not I. But when the moments were passed, I realized a great thing of the Spirit had happened, a thing by which my labors are justified. I sat in a coffeeshop with my face turned to the wall, and wept. Then I wrote. All was well. Some few things are well forever. I may forget; drudgery and defeat may lie before, but for this moment I am justified, and all is a level plain stretching before me. I said to the Lord, “Your work in me is justified.”

As if that weren’t enough, after many recommendations I took some tumeric. I had been swallowing ibuprofen by the handful to get relief from pain in my arms and shoulders, and it barely sufficed. I couldn’t lift a coffee mug, couldn’t lift my right hand to the top of the steering wheel, couldn’t pull the covers around me in bed. Had to bend nearly to the floor to get my coat on. I took the tumeric capsule and within two hours it was well. The ache is still there, dull and deep in the shoulders, but mobility returns, and the pain is a tenth of what it was. I am not one to believe in supplements or organic remedies very much, so I assume the effect is real.

Grueling rehearsals, far too long for singers. Nevertheless, one cannot say we have the material mastered so that the effort is not necessary. Productive and informative despite my irritation. I’m surprised by the mistakes I can make without knowing I’d made them. Worse tonight, and worse still at the beginning of next week, and then things relax like a snapped rope. The short of it is that I do not like following other people’s schedules.

Bed got delivered yesterday. Two giants came with it. The larger of the two giants was trying to teach the lesser how it should be possible for one person to carry a Queen sized mattress. He demonstrated, but I don’t think many people could possibly follow after. I was happy to drag it from one room to the other, even with my restored limbs.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

December 2, 2015

Immortal rain.
The pain in my shoulders and arms makes me effectively an invalid. My shoulder aches from carrying a mug of coffee up the stairs. Tried to help Catori lift a platform–one I could have lifted single-handedly a year ago-- and I froze half way from the floor. We call it “inflammation,” but I am not clear what that is or what causes it. I assume most things are dietary, but if so, what? I will stop this. I will increase that. Anything.
Grueling rehearsal last night. I made multiple mistakes, and unless I was the only one off, there must have been musical cataclysm on down the line. C has a good ear, and my fear of goofs that were never heard about is abated. The actors are finely tuned and wonderful to listen to when one is oneself not singing or praying to Polyhymnia for the next note. It is flatly not possible for me to sing four hours straight. At one point my voice literally shut down, and I had to run offstage for water. Luckily the play is less than half as long as the rehearsal. Last night I was racked with muscle spasms as well. God knows why, for I was hydrating like a maniac. Tenseness? Sitting funny? The Lord’s array is forever a surprise.
Panicky queries about when our exam is. I want to say, “You have access to the same information I have, aside from the fact that I told you multiple times in class.” but it’s too long to type, so I just answer with the place and time. In my career this is the class to whom it was evidently never suggested that they should take responsibility for themselves at any point.

December 1, 2015

The little raccoon is fully gone, as I assumed he would be. We stood in the rain to dedicate Michael’s rose garden and Cindy’s statue of Saint Francis. I thought of Cindy all afternoon. For one, she was the only of my colleagues who ever showed up when I had the gallery downtown. And she bought something. I wonder where that little piece is now. She gave me Titus and Conrad, whom I still hold in my heart.

Monday, November 30, 2015

November 30, 2015

Sunday morning found a dead baby raccoon in the driveway, It had been gutted, but whether that was the cause of death or the result of scavenging I don’t know. I felt bad. Left it, though, to see what would happen. Today there is significantly less of it.

Finished reading through my 50 students’ forty page journals. Some were barebones; others were full of keen insight or deep thought or pleasing humor. I’m pretty much a hit as a teacher. The best in the program, according to rate-my-professor, which I know not because I ever looked but because some of my students revealed their reasons for selecting me. Those who don’t like me fall (this time) into a single category– those who are more worried about their grade than they are about learning anything. It is true I’m not helpful to them, preferring to say “pay attention in class” or “wait for it all to fall together” rather than holding hands or handing out study guides. I do not make Powerpoints. I expect them to listen, and if they don’t know how to listen, to learn how. College is about learning new things. The boy/girl J hates me–and said so–largely, I think, because I did not take her/his grade anxiety seriously enough. Seldom have I felt such anger burning from a page. But THAT much anger is pathological and beyond redress, so one moves on. Most say they are thankful to have had me for Humanities, and I agree with them, for I loved what I did and presented it to them as an act of love. Something still must happen to punish The Boy. He's a little Caligula with the will but not the imagination of evil.

Many Christians in the class (revealed never IN class but always through the safety of the journals) and many of them remarkably ignorant about the faith they profess, to the point of not knowing the difference between the Old and the New testaments, of thinking that Jesus had written the bible, of not realizing every bible they have ever read has been a translation.

Student academic presentations in the morning. I divided the time between listening critically and looking at the back of K’s head, imagining making love to him. Probably approximately what goes on in that seat every class period. . .  with a change of personnel.

Remarkable continuity of rain. This is the last evening at home for a very long time.

November 29. 2015

Much singing at church (Advent One), then much singing in rehearsal for All Is Calm. The second went far better than it had the last time, so my stomach rested easier inside me. It is considerable comfort not to be the worst.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

November 28, 2015

In dream I had a desperate need for white cyclamen, to plant in the cement planter I brought over from 62 when I was feeding DJ’s fish. In a later dream, I had come late to some task. I was paid for it, but the payment was bitter because I had not really done the work. Then I had to carry a stepladder from the downtown Y in Akron all the way up Market Street.

Ordered odd peonies, which they said I could plant as long as the ground wasn’t frozen.

How the writing is bringing back memories of Hiram!

Searched, and there were no white cyclamen to be had, despite the dream. Planted huechera against the turning of the season.

Harry and Jan and their friends came by on their bikes. They caught me sleeping. I caught myself standing in the lawn in my bare feet.

Bought a bed.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

November 27, 2015

Blazing egg shaped moon when I rose, which seems to have rounded before pale morning.
Rescued cement planters from 62, which Will seems to have moved to the periphery.
Working nonstop on the Hiram novel. The writing is beautiful. The gatekeepers will hold that against it.

Friday, November 27, 2015

November 26, 2015

Moon and glittering stars at rising, moon and glittering stars when I lay down again to sleep. Writing in between. Writing and TV, lest I give myself too much credit. I scattered bread so the crows could have their Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

November 25, 2015

Fully suited for my freezing study in P-coat and toboggan.

Harry sees WP, complains how he fell in love with the actresses and then I killed them off. MM praises WP, says it “has legs.” Didn’t expect him to see it, actually.  My cup is pretty full regarding that production of that play.

First rehearsal at NC Stage. It was awful, but actually not quite as awful as I expected. Nor was my throat as raw as I anticipated afterwards. Even the backs of the heads of the actors are handsome. Stopped at Southern for a drink (and a kale salad, as it turned out) on the way to my car, and met Hap, a friendly bearded guy from Chattanooga who’s been here for a couple of days looking in on the music scene. He saw my music for All Is Calm and said, “except I don’t really have to READ music.” He does singer/songwriter gigs around, and will be having Thanksgiving with his family in Waynesville. Half the places he knows in Asheville I never heard of.

John Bridges is dead. Squirrels have gnawed gaping holes into my pumpkins

November 24, 2015

On the radio yesterday with CF-M for All Is Calm. Always pleased when I don’t cough or cuss.

Playwrights dazed at the end of the semester, much gossip, little art. I was the same.

Considered making an application for a Rockefeller Foundation residency, but stopped because of having resolved long ago never again to enter to apply for anything that requires letters of recommendation.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

November 23, 2015

Wake-up call, that all the music for All Is Calm is done not only without accompaniment, but without renewed pitch. If we sink too low my Bflat is goners.

Students wishing me well at the end, saying I’m their best teacher, etc. I should have learned to make more of this.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

November 22, 2015

Sleep damaged by Irish creme for the second time. It won’t happen again. Strange dreams in the intermittent unconsciousness. I had been writing all day about Hiram, and so I dreamed of Hiram. I dreamed of the ground behind Centennial Hall covered in gigantic peonies, pink and red and white. I had returned to Hiram after a sojourn in the far country, and I was very tired and relieved. With the unexpected coherence of dreams, my “far country” is usually the University of Nebraska, to which I flee for more money or because things aren’t working out, or something. I never thought of this when I was actually in Nebraska. For it I have no explanation, other than to imagine my dream mind thinks it’s the last place on earth. It was night in Hiram and I was looking at the peonies,  waiting for Denny to come meet me, and I was profoundly happy.

Washington Place last night was done as well as it has ever been, and the crowd was mesmerized; I would even say astonished. We have set a new standard for theater in this town. Of course we can fall back, or we can move forward. The second of these will involve hard choices.

This is the day I usually think Thanksgiving should be. It must have been November 22 once in my impressionable youth.

Looked online at the Boy’s student evaluations. They mostly hate him, which is a relief and a confirmation. Many of the evaluations end with “he is not a nice man.” One wonders, therefore, why he is suffered. They also sense he thinks of himself as a Christian, sensing at the same time the cringe-making irony of it.

Hard wind, cold in the corners of the house. Cold is maybe the only thing I fear.

November 21, 2015

Malaprop’s last night to hear Jimmy read from his book about fracking in north central Pennsylvania. Tried to be more interested in the topic than I was, but Jimmy is such a man I like to be with him whenever I can. Asheville is a different town every time you look at it. I remembered few of the shops. Had a cappuccino in a café where I was alone. I thought this strange with all the activity outside the window.

Friday, November 20, 2015

November 20, 2015

Returned to the Magnetic for the show last night, gratified that the actors still put their all into it, still expend the necessary energy. Wish the cues were faster, but that’s about all. Met tall H who, after seeing the play, wishes to work with me. He smelled sexily of beer. The Ks. JL said, “I figured it would be OK, but I didn’t expect it to be Good. Half moon over me returning home.

Exhausting class yesterday, and the same one to do this morning. This looks to be my last Humanities class ever. In a way, good riddance. Calling in the vanguards and the outliers. Peter talked to me long yesterday about retirement options, and I listened.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

November 19, 2015

What if I were President? I’d let as many Syrians as I could. Mercy and compassion should win the day, but even if they didn’t, reason should come to the same conclusion. Who vetted Timothy McVeigh? He was a Veteran, a Christian, a fine upstanding specimen of American manhood. Put him near the top of a list of dozens, all red-blooded gun-totting American terrorists. Every shred of evidence testifies that were are at greater risk–by levels of magnitude–from American citizens than we are from anyone who ever came here for any reason. There is no proof–though there is supposition– that any of the Paris conspirators came with the present influx of refugees. And he would have gotten where he needed to get anyway, driven by hate as his fellows were driven by desperation. There is no reason to suppose (by “reason” I mean reasonable reason, not the familiar stab of right-wing hysteria) that ANY person we let in will become anything but a useful and grateful citizen, the way my ancestors did when they came from Ireland–which, by the way, had a similar (and more earned) reputation for sending thugs and criminals. And there is something worse than the danger of one or two hateful immigrants. That is the perpetual fear that is stirred up, mostly groundlessly, by devious and reflexive reference to our “security.” Consider who it is that wants to make us afraid of everything all the time, and what they stand to gain from it.  W’s warning of “perpetual war” with terrorism was the nearest any recent American has come to suggesting a totalitarian state, where we must obey unthinkingly because of reasons of “security.” The Patriot Act is an un-American horror that it will take generations to erase. Even now we pass like sheep through airport “security” that every single person knows is pointless, or at best a piece of laborious theater. What’s next? Turning in our neighbors for suspicious activity? Closing down Taco Bell for being un-American?  Casual surveillance? Peremptory arrest without explanation? Why not? It’s all for our safety. It’s all to give us the sense of security we didn’t know we needed until politicians and media began to fear-monger. Listen, we are the most secure nation that has ever been on earth, and one of the most fearful. How has that happened? Is that the legacy we want to pass down?  Paris is doing it right by going out even now and eating in the cafes, and opening her arms to homeless Syrians. This makes her a hero. She has not been driven into a bolt-hole by fear. Racism and xenophobia are the real reasons for deflecting the needy from our shores, and both of those are a form of cowardice. Those who know how to stir up our latent xenophobia with a threat dropped here or a warning dropped there are in fact the single great threat to the American Way. Open the golden doors.

Took the Facebook “Most used words” test, and my most used word is “one.” I remember from my concordance days that both Yeats and Blake used “all” more than any other word.

Beer and cheese soup lingers in fond memory from last night. . . .

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

November 18, 2015

Wally Bowen has died of ALS. He was my first friend in Asheville, a relationship that started when I was interviewing for the job. I remember standing on the library steps, looking over his head at Pisgah gleaming in the distance, wondering if this was the place for me. I would remember that moment even if I’d never come. He asked me to share his house once. I don’t remember what I said, but it never happened. He had an affair with a student, and though I backed him all the way, vicious gossip said that I didn’t, and I lost his friendship, on his side because he doubted my loyalty thereafter, on my side because he ever could have believed that of me. Once he gave me a birthday party. A vibrant, beautiful man. Adieu.

Wasted the afternoon. Thought I’d work, but I lay down with the rain on the window and never got back up.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

November 17, 2015

Didn’t mention that R brought his handsome head and his charming daughter to my studio during the stroll. Showed him how I’d been using his discarded canvases.

Video of white men encountering members of a certain tribe–somewhere–for the first time. I wondered at fifty thousand years of living exactly the same way– rather like the elves of Middle Earth. Noted secondly that the boldest of the natives was–not withstanding the bone in his nose– handsome.

Handsome (that word again) black beetles with orange geometric markings have been clustered at my front door, probably because the porch is white and faces south. When my sister was here, a dragonfly fluttered and shone at the door. Wonder where they go in the cold. Some few of each tribe must survive it.

Here is a note from She-ville, a local feminist paper:

 Magnetic Theatre takes on tragedy with 'Washington Place' 
The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire on New York City’s Lower East Side in 1911 has become one of the most notorious tragedies in the history of industry, but no one knows much, if anything, about the lives of the young women caught up in the conflagration.
Magnetic Theatre’s production, Washington Place, imagines those women, “bringing us their passions, hopes, songs and laughter in an effervescent, moving world premiere,” according to a press release.
"The audience around me were looking around at each other as though we needed to give a standing ovation but none of us could move at that moment...we didn't have the heart." Jean Cassidy

    After lecture yesterday my student Rees said, “I want to shake your hand.”
    Shaking, “Why?”
    “Because I saw your play. It totally changed my mind about the theater.”

Briefly chatted with Peg on campus. Mentioned that I had been hurled into the outer darkness Humanities-wise.
    “Who would do that?”
    “Oh. I’ve heard nothing good about him.”
    Nor was she going to, from me.

Completely re-invented my Christianity lecture in light of Paris, focusing on the historical moment when religion turned exclusive, when it became ponderable to kill for worshiping the wrong god. No other Humanities prof would have done this. What a fool that man is. An imp and a fool about whom one has heard nothing good.

Trying to find a cure for the perpetual throat-fog. It affects nothing but singing, but singing is all I do these days.

Sensational playwrights meeting last night. Two of them are already masters of the craft of dialogue. Another has the high seriousness of O’Neill.

 Cough, drink coffee, cough.

Monday, November 16, 2015

November 16, 2015

Hours in the studio for the studio stroll were, of course, mostly wasted in everything but that fact that I got work done, work that nobody much, apparently, is ever going to look at. All the fine artists say this, while the craftspeople prosper. It is that world. Worrying about sales and presentation does violate the reasons I took up painting, so I’ll try to keep the flood at ebb.
Shoulders so raw it was, after a while, agony to lift the brush. Talk about sacrifice.
Family up to see Washington Place and do a power of eating. People tell you they liked the show (how could they tell you otherwise?) but you wonder HOW they liked it. My nephews are not theater-goers, so did they perceive the conventions? The adaptations of the conventions? Could they follow it? Was the topic alive to them? Did it please the mind or the heart? Both? Neither? Was it too foreign? The opening of a door into a new world? You don’t know how to ask; they don’t know how to say. Lunch salad asserted itself and I had to leave in the middle of Act I, praying that one time to be invisible. King James pub afterwards, where we caught up on months of separation. D is muscled and burly to the threshold of TV wrestler. L is happy, and somewhat surprised to be. Must stay off the topic of politics with my new brother-in-law, whose existence refutes my assertion that one cannot be a Republican and intelligent at the same time, or at least provides an exception.
Two nights of freeze have killed off the last hopes of the garden.
Woodfin Y this AM. Karl had seen the play and said it was “good.” I don’t think he realized that I’m the author, so I’ll take that “good” as meaning good. More buildings going up on what was a beautiful wild hillside, barking with foxes.
Worried about Sam in France, though he is 100 miles from Paris.

November 14, 2015

Paris in nightmare. It seems worse there, somehow.

Late singing for the Cantaria Christmas program. Spikes of rage issuing from my head at each stupid question or ox-faced “Where are we?” J notes that it is kindness to respond to his every “Where are we?” but not that it is consideration to pay attention.

This day is way too full. Off to the studio in a few minutes to take a stab at the River Arts Studio Stroll. Expect family some time today. . . . .

Bought a lovely antique lamp shaped like lilies, realize that there is not one corner of this house unlit.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

November 13, 2015

Wriggled out from under the Presbyterians in Marshall by the (true) revelation that I have a conflict on every single rehearsal night until Christmas. I had this week a rehearsal or other commitment every night of the week. It will be this way until two days after Christmas.
Went to WP last night to see a smooth and lyrical performance. SS called it “sweet.”  Yes. More true believers exiting the door.
Kevin writes from Omaha, “This makes my week! Your beautiful, soulful play is moving out into the world. What could be better?! Congratulations, David!!! “
Bought sport coats that do not come down to my knees.
Scooped the Venus flycatchers out of their muck and put them in a pot for winter. Sank the pitcher plants in deep water. Harvested the last of the roses– an orange bud, a purple bud, a pink bud, and one red full-blown.

Friday, November 13, 2015

November 12, 2015

    J produces a lovely review of Washington Place:

Theater review: Washington Place by The Magnetic Theatre
Posted on November 12, 2015 by Jeff Messer   

Set against the ominous horrors of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911, David Brendan Hopes’ new play, Washington Place tells a story of hope and inspiration about the workers within that doomed building. The Magnetic Theatre has something special on its hands in this great play by a local author.

WHAT: Washington Place
WHERE: The Magnetic Theatre,
WHEN: Through Sunday, Nov. 22, with performances Thursdays to Saturdays, at 7:30 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. $18-$22

At the start, it seems like just another day at the factory. Allen T. Law’s Avi arrives and tidies up the work space, wide-eyed and hopeful for the long life that is surely ahead of him. Law is perfect as the bright young man with a lust for life.

Arriving early to work are two Jewish women, the reserved Gussie and the outspoken Yetta. They prepare for a 12-hour shift behind locked doors and a constant contempt and suspicion that falls upon them. Valerie Miess is Gussie, who has accepted her lot in life. Samantha Stewart’s Yetta is fiery and rebellious, spending her free time attending socialist meetings. The two actresses hold the audience transfixed for the first 20 minutes with an elegant discussion of their different perspectives while they’re seated at their work stations. It is mesmerizing in its intimacy and honesty.

Another Jewish woman, Essie, arrives, as do Italian immigrants Lucia and Rosaria. Devyn Ray’s Essie is somewhere between the more pronounced opposites of Gussie and Yetta. Emmalie Handley’s Lucia has a secret that must be kept hidden from her employers, and her young sister Rosaria, played sweetly by Sophie Yates, pretends to not speak English in her delicate courtship with Avi.

Terry Darakjy plays Providenza Panno, who oversees the work of the young women. She herself started where they are, but rose to middle management, and now watches them with an eye of suspicion. Darakjy shines in a role that would otherwise be unsympathetic, yet holds her own in a powerful confrontation with Yetta.

The play is a day in the life of women who are not allowed to dream of more, or aspire to better lives. Some accept it, some protest it. There is no sense of their impending doom, which makes what is to come all the more unsettling. We get to know, and develop an affection for, these women and their plight under of the deft direction of Steve Samuels. He guides the audience along a path that has us hoping that somehow today is not the day of the fire that will take all the lives we have become so invested in.

The show is powerful. It reminds us of the sacrifices of those who died over a century ago. It is also a cautionary tale to warn us that such struggles are still playing out in our world today. This is what theater can and should be.

So, on that account, I am for the moment content. Even greater contentment came from a call from Marco that he had seen and loved the play, and was not even nagged into it by me. I napped afterward, and had a revery that we were lovers, from which I woke pure and joyful, a state not entirely mitigated by the recognition that the things that hurt me are real, solid, objective, and the things that save me, for those golden moments, I have made up out of hints and hopes and empty air. That is a skill not wholly beneficial.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

November 11, 2015

Morning cool and bright.

Croaked like a toad at rehearsal last night.

Review of Washington Place in the Citizen Times. It is predictably ignorant and useless, and I should, therefore, let it roll off my back, but it’s the one review we’ve had so far, maybe the only one we’ll have, and it’s wrong and not fair and though no one reads the CT, this one particular hurt was completely unnecessary. A gratuitous cruelty.

But then, Hidden One, what isn’t?

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

November 10, 2015

Met my son in the dream before waking. Held him. He was six or seven. His little striped shirt. He looked nothing like me, but he felt like me. I knew him. He wouldn’t let go of me even when I thought he must be tired of embracing. When I woke I remembered that he had never been born. Sat on the edge of my bed howling until there was no more in me. Amazing the depth that grief can come from, a dark red place deeper than all depths. It is not alone there. Grief isn’t. What is with it I did not recognize. The well is empty for the moment. Put on your shoes. Get ready for work.

Playwrights here last night. Too much talk of the economics of theater. I want something to be pure, just once. Paradoxically, you have to be very, very rich for the theater to be pure. Or anything. Or so poor nothing matters.

Monday, November 9, 2015

November 9, 2015

Ferocious and unceasing rain. Went by the dark to the Y, where I had to find exercises that didn’t aggravate my twisted shoulder, gotten yesterday from simply getting up too fast from a chair. Cardio, for the most part. It is better than it was, for I can push in the seatbelt clip or reach the top of the steering wheel with my right hand this morning without shrieking in pain. Dull ache calls for pills, which in turn make me dull. Perhaps my dull self can still talk about the Age of Augustus.

Tom says WP is the best thing he’s seen in Asheville.

Back to church yesterday after a long theater vacation. Hadn’t changed. Excellent new perspective on the widow’s mite. Two rehearsals where I tried out my low B flat, and found it there, and resonant. Jim said “You were shaking my chair.” Will fight hoarseness, though, to the end of winter. In a dream I thought I discovered a cure for hoarseness, which was limes. No reason not to try it out.

November 8, 2015

Unforgivable hell of downloads and verifications and entry of passwords. Hours wasted and no work done. I wish all Microsoft had but one neck.

Friday, November 6, 2015

November 6, 2015

Went to buy flowers for the opening. Happened upon a place run by handsome young gay men, which was a plus. They were friendly and cute and stupid, which was neither a plus nor a minus as far as concupiscence was concerned, but rather amusing, or would have been had I not been having a bad morning.

    Him: So, where do we send these?
    Me. The Magnetic Theater, 375 Depot Street. (Disturbance in back, so he doesn’t hear me)
    Sorry, where do we send these?
    The Magnetic Theater, 375 Depot Street.
    Now, where are we sending them?
    The Magnetic Theater---

This went on for quite a while. Turns out he was looking for a name, and what I was giving him didn’t sound like one.  At one time I was actually turning on my heels to make for the door, but at last we got it worked out.
To the Magnetic then for the premiere of Washington Place, going alone, as if creeping in hoping not to be noticed. I need a gala in my life, and this wasn’t it. The house was sparse but contained quality people. And, in the moment, all was most and exceedingly well. The acting was excellent, the set and costumes and sound and lights flawless. May well have been the best opening night ever, including New York. I sat there taking it in, hearing laughter at the right moments around me. The play does not need even a touch. Proud, happy, came home and slept the sleep of the righteous.

Excellent session at the studio this AM. A whole painting in one sitting. The bitter sadness of the first of yesterday was not quite washed away by the satisfaction of the second half, so I had little skirmishes of that war to fight today. Theater again in a few hours.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

November 5, 2015

Set the wrong foot down on leaving bed, and the morning has been, so far, odd.
Received the DVD of Washington Place from GPTC on the same day it opens at the Magnetic. Forgot to buy flowers for the opening. Maybe chocolate is better.
All Souls choir expanded since I left it for the stage. I still have the only low D.
Pissed off at an editor for admiring and admiring my poems and then not taking one. He should trust my judgment rather than his own. Really. I’d say that to his face. Follow me where I am going. Someone.
Great quantity of bread strewn on the yard for the crows.
My yard guy stood on the porch yesterday, considering with me as to whether the lawn needed mowing. We agreed that it did not. But I longed for him in a way that was beyond physical; it was metaphysical, puzzling– unassuageable.
Indian ragas on Pandora.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

November 4, 2015

Rose exhausted from yesterday. My humors were out of balance, sure, but also it was a day of extraordinary turbulence. Fought a dead WiFi router; after melt-down realized I could unplug the computer from the router and plug it directly to the cable and get on with my life. Conference with a student whose fecklessness is exceeded only by his puppy-like sadness. He really has no clue that he has no clue. Headed out to the radio station for a live interview with J about Washington Place. Couldn’t hear it, of course, but felt it went well. Didn’t have to say much. Directly from there to a three hour All Is Calm rehearsal in the distant fringes of Fletcher. Came home, slept about an hour, rose precipitously, vomited heroically, sat in front of the TV until the sickness and the acid subsided. Rose finally in pale light and cleaned the litter box. Lovely day, all in all.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

November 3, 2015

Voted at Saint Eugene’s. Received a doughnut.

Humanities debacle yesterday. Will talk it over with the class. The theme was “Disability as Diversity,’ which has nothing to do, they admitted, with our study, but provided a day which didn’t have to be planned. My belief is that a person with a severe speech impediment should probably not take up public speaking. To replace speechmaking with writing or painting or teaching or any other thing in this world is overcoming the handicap. To take up public speaking is to impose it.  If I were a bad actor, would I expect to be cast anyway on the basis of my wanting to be an actor? Should my bad acting be taken as noble defiance of the gifts which were dealt me, and the others which were withheld? Or just a test of everybody’s patience? Just willfulness? Our speaker could barely be understood, and much of his testimony– about forced sterilization in the 30's-- was lost. Nor could I quite understand why it was scheduled in the first place. The topic is not provocative, for not one person in the room could be expected to disagree with him or have another reasonable perspective. Another opportunity for easy indignation? He couldn’t mention the perps without identifying them as “white men,” a buzz word that sank immediately into everyone’s receptors, whether it was relevant or not. He victims he spoke of were white women. But if you didn’t know about eugenics, now you do, if you had the patience to unravel the smear of sounds.

Three nail-spitting blaspheming meltdowns already, and the day is little more than half over.
November 2, 2015

Truly remarkable downpouring from the heavens. Lakes shimmer in the dark under the streetlamps. Soaked between my car and the door of the Y.

Put The Weir to bed yesterday afternoon, a good experience which I am not sad is over. The drive– too much. I think we’re up on the “success” wall. Huge attendance for a “drama.” We were talking in the dressing room about how the play is not quite as good as some people seem to think, but then decided it might be just that we were doing it badly, and it was better to shut up about it. As a playwright, I see missed opportunities on every page. The interplay between the characters is better than the monologues, and yet the monologues are the meat of the play. Our Haywood County reviewer observed that men’s stories are not particularly scary.  The test is, did we slip in our own vomit? And we did not.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

November 1, 2015

Our best performance yet last night, with a responsive and attentive crowd worthy of it. As an actor I find I cannot be completely “in the moment,” for if I am, I miss lines, because the lines are not always what one would say if one were fully in the moment. It has to be a compromise between being “in the moment” and reading the script at the back of your eyes. Hit that compromise last night. L was in the audience, said it was the best thing he’s ever seen me in. Of course, one takes that not as meant, but as a judgment on all that came before. They handed me a check, a big one, which was a nice surprise. For someone like J, it makes all the difference in the world.  E keeps her mind in the game by not speaking to any of us from the time she walks through the door to the time she leaves. Hope it’s working for her.
Dark morning slick and gleamy with rain. I slept the extra hour the Time Lords gave us.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

October 31, 2015


Glad morning in the studio I painted well, with Steven coloring with fiery intensity a few rooms away. Good work in the silence. A couple from Nashville prowled around, saying, “this must be an inspiring room to work in.” Anyone who mentions the room and not the work is instantly my enemy.

My yard is essentially self-mulching, with a fine rain of pine needles shivering softly down.

Gigantic moon.

Five rejections in one day. I am sorry for my hatred, for my obsession, for my Satanic rebellion. But, Lord, I cannot move until you let me move.

Friday, October 30, 2015

October 30, 2015

Tense leaving Marshall Pres under moonlight. Decided that choir is not the place to encourage service that gratifies the congregant but offends the art. The old man beside me sang not one right note (though his counting is pretty good) and even the suggestion that he just sing what I sing brought but a confused smile. The Down syndrome kid blats just any old thing at the top of his lungs. I do not have the courtesy in me to countenance that. Surely some other service is available. What goes through peoples’ minds? I mentioned this to the director–of course she knew before I mentioned it–and she said the old guy said my strong voice was helping him a great deal. Since he sang not one note that I did, I don’t know how I helped. Yet one trusts that some good is being done somehow.  And so one goes down into darkness with nothing certain.
Marshall is scary and empty at night.

Brought down from the study yesterday afternoon by strong and persistent knocking on the door. Got down just as the knocker was leaving– a young black man who turned and began testifying as he moved across the drive. “Has Jesus yet blessed you today?” through such-and-such a thing that I didn’t hear. He was selling something that he was presenting as a blessing, but I didn’t have time to get pissed over being interrupted for that, for he tried to get between the parked car and the house, which means he got tangled up in the rose bushes. There he was, testifying to a fare-thee-well, trying to get his sleeves unhitched from the rose thorns. I closed the door behind me, smiling.

Went over my Weir lines on the elliptical. I was alone in the big room. Even now the morning darkness has not broken.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

October 29, 2015
Thinnest of all rain, the brush of cold lips against a cheek. Most of the night was flooded with moonlight. Drove the pick-up for coffee to empty the bed of collected rainwater.

Smitten by inspiration for the music for Dinosaur Movie.

At the theater last night for a run-through of Washington Place. We open a week from tonight, and there were a number of things to be panicked about, but when the run-through actually started, when I heard those sure voices saying lines of which I am also sure, anxiety drained away. For the most part. Now I’m picturing an empty theater, crickets calling in the hallway.

A was there, being wondrously and inexplicably useful.

Singing along with Russian basses on You Tube, confirming that I, too, have a double Low C. At least today.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

October 28, 2015

Cold rain.
Last night at the Magnetic for a rehearsal of Washington Place. It was necessary agony. The direction is precise, the actors dedicated to their roles. All’s well there. I might go again tonight to see a “stumble through.” Listening, I tried to characterize my style of writing, and I couldn’t. The most I could flatter myself was by saying the speeches seemed appropriate to the characters.
E-mail account hacked, so I was sending weird messages out to everybody. Didn’t read it myself, so I don’t know exactly what it is. Ste in Cambridge says it’s “terrible.” .
Margaret Spellings is the new president of the university system, a bad choice replacing a good choice who was ousted because the Republicans (by definition Vandals) wanted some unspecified change.  If you had deliberately laid out a list of things you didn’t want in a university president, you couldn’t have chosen closer to the mark. She prides herself in knowing nothing about education. Brags on it. It was a gesture of contempt for education on the part of the legislature. Today’s Republican majority is like Melkor or Ahriman, incapable of creating anything, only of ruining and destroying. Lincoln and Roosevelt and Eisenhower cry out from Eternity.
But I will not let those thoughts guide me through the day. What bothers me more is that the passages of public stupidity and vandalism seems never to get so extreme that people begin turning away. Carson or Trump will say some clearly idiotic thing and the response is “Yeah, well, I like his style. He tells it like it is.”  Stupid people want their say. Stupid people want to hear others saying stupid things so that they might “like their style.” It’s not that I’m not stupid, but I don’t rejoice in it. I want a cure for it, a correction, not flattery.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

October 27, 2015

Got ma’am-ed at the grocery store last night– odd, because I think I’d make a right hideous woman.
Only three in class last night. We talked & talked. Sam revealed that a copy of A Dream of Adonis is listen on Amazon for $2600. I therefore have a fortune in storage.
One of my Humanities students remarked, “You sure know your stuff.” I reflected on the fact that I do, and I may never be able to use that accumulated information–some of it outright wisdom–again. May be good for me, passing on to the next thing and all that, but I don’t think it’s good for the students, to be barred from a garden in full ripeness. I hate that little man. He should be widely hated on my behalf.
Up early and accomplished much. Still dark– which is a little disturbing.
Terrible hoarseness upon waking, despite the vaporizer.
Full days and nights to the threshold of Christmas. This relieves me, somehow: less occasion for introspection.
The cats watch from the windows as I tend to the trash. I need to assure them that their world is as mysterious to me as mine is to them.

Monday, October 26, 2015

October 26, 2015

Pretty flawless matinee. I left before the curtain call in my desperation to get to rehearsal for All Is Calm on time, an effort made futile by traffic stopped dead on I-40.  There seemed to be no reason for it except a lumbering truck in one lane, or that was all that was left when I got to the place where the snarl finally broke. I’d gone to Waynesville early to look around and shop a little, not having noted the last time that the shops don’t open until 1. So, I had nothing to do, plus suffering an attack of sudden bowel urgency. I dived into the Baptist church, where the bathroom was occupied; into the corner service station, where the bathroom was out of order; finally, after a long and anxious search, in the Episcopal church. They were having a congregational meeting, so I was visible to all as I came in. The one person I would conceivably know in town saw me, left the meeting to talk to me. He had seen The Weir the night before and was praising it. All dignity was gone by then, and I said, “I’ll just use your bathroom and I’ll be on my way.” All in all, a day of multiple frustrations, not all of them, at the time, petty. Sitting still on the superhighway I asked the rainy air around me what a person could possibly do to insure what needed to get done got done, what precautions could possibly prevail in a world so disordered. It is not my fault. The rain shrugged and went its inevitable way down the windshield.

I’m the only bass for All Is Calm. Didn’t expect that. Had punched my holes wrong so I could hardly hold the score. Again, I hissed to the dim and holy air. Hoarseness. Long time calming from the harried drive.  Retreated to Avenue M and ate the largest meal I’ve eaten in 4 weeks.
Talked about the Celts this morning. Thought about telling my Humanities students I had been fired, just to trouble the waters. Let it pass.

October 25, 2015

Active crowd last night, laughing at things that hadn’t seemed funny before. We laughed so much in the dressing room that some of our energy was dissipated before we got on stage.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

October 24, 2015

Big crowd of All Souls and Cantaria friends at The Weir last night. They claimed to like it. Oddly misbehaving crowd, with a lot of talking in the middle of scenes, a lot of commotion. In the midst of Valerie’s dramatic monolog, one old hag was unwrapping a candy with remarkable volume and infinite slowness.  Drinks, me gobbling up a salad at King James’ afterward. The Mountain X review is out, not making too much of our faults, and remarking that I am “always a delight to watch on stage.”

    Pink and gray light through the window at dawn.

    Revelatory morning at the studio– two important discoveries, and a first visit to the new Cheap Joe’s Art store.  Steve wide-eyed and hard at work in his cube of light.

Friday, October 23, 2015

October 23, 2015

Fat white planet over the YMCA parking lot.
Did 1/3 of my lines from memory in the weight room of the Y, 1/3 (my monolog) in the parking lot of Starbucks, have 1/3 to go some time today, probably while my class is taking their exam.  In any case, I’m more confident than I would otherwise have been about the renewed run of The Weir. I think the All Souls folks are coming tonight. We were hoping for a review, but so far as I can tell it has not appeared. I’m thinking Jeff thought it was more merciful to say nothing at all.
Drove to the Presbyterian church in Marshall last night for choir rehearsal. They’re doing a pastiche Christmas cantata called Joy, Unspeakable Joy. There must be an industry somewhere churning out cantatas for bad church choirs, for the back of the book displays many other options. I’d allowed myself to forget how bad the choir is there, or maybe it’s worse this year than last. The women sound pretty good, actually, but the men are an undifferentiated smear of unrelated and tuneless sound, luckily feeble. The gentleman next to me is clearly a pillar of that community, and is the yearly narrator for the Christmas Story. Some conflict kept him from singing with us last year, but he’s there this year, and, dear God, one has never heard the like. I want to say to him, “You do know that one note is different from another, don’t you?”  I want to say, “You don’t have to make stuff up; it’s actually written there on the page for you.” I want to say, “Just sing what I sing.” I don’t think he can. He can’t or has never been required to match pitch, and the idea that a tune or a note are objective qualities and not just some noise you decide to groan out seems never to have crossed his mind. I want to quiz him about this. I want to say, “What do you think you’re doing when you’re singing? How do you suppose that all works?” My guess is that someone along the line was so grateful for low voices she didn’t care what they sang, and then no one corrected the misconceptions thus set in stone. The lad next to him is a Down syndrome man, and actually has quite a good sense of harmony. He is almost never on the right note, but what he’s singing is usually in the key and harmonizes with something somebody is singing.  We are the basses. The tenors are large men who seem to produce no sound. The new choir director is perfectly competent. I don’t know how she keeps herself from collapsing in tears. Last year the men beside me would eventually give in and follow me. Mr Pillar evidently thinks it’s a war and he’s not going to be coerced by some outsider into singing something outside of the two flat notes he has chosen for his own. I left quite angry. That is not the right spirit. Marshall is closer than I think it is, so I sat on a rock watching the river roll by until it was time for choir.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

October 21, 2015

Alexander and Zarathustra in Humanities. The one question I got after introducing the fascinating topic of the conquests of Alexander was “Is this going to be on the test?” Later in the day I saw a man in a t-shirt which read, “Everything I say will be on the test.” Came home to find that the ladyslipper roots had arrived. It’s probably mad to try them, but I laid them in the shady ground covered with compost and mulch, and so one hopes for the best.

Upheaval of an old memory: I’m in 5th grade, I think, because we’re still a Goodview Avenue, and I’m planning my trick-or-treating with my friends, and my father says, “There will be no more of that. You are going to work on Halloween night.”
    “Because I said so.”
So on Halloween, while the ghosts and princesses range up and down the Avenue, he has me cleaning out the side garden. Whatever lesson he was meaning to teach was lost, for I couldn’t think of any trespass that had warranted that (nor did he mention one). Was there some time when the things of childhood must be put away? If so, none of my friends were affected by it. I was miserable, thinking that something magical was being torn away before its time. He had strange eruptions of arbitrary cruelty, which he must have thought of as proving some point or asserting his authority in some way, though their actual fruit was simple-- and apparently long-lasting-- hatred. Could he have articulated his intentions if I had found the right way to ask?  I think Blake’s Nurse of Experience shows the way here, an internal bitterness seeping out to embitter the world.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

October 20, 2015

So far the cold has taken only the angels’ trumpets, which sag over themselves sadly. The cats lie n the sun as though carefully listening to its instructions.

October 19, 2015

Arrived early in Waynesville and did some shopping. Bought a wooden sculpture of a warbler that had been misidentified as a kinglet. Sunday matinee was another without error on my part. It felt good. Left my script on my dressing table, but discovered the play on Kindle, so I don’t have to drive back through the beautiful exhausting mountains. The hand of some angel led me to get off 40 and drive through Candler. Looked back over my shoulder to see miles and miles of traffic stopped dead, the old I-26 congestion bollocksing everything.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

October 18, 2015

Woke in the midst of a complicated dream. I was in a city filled with churches, and it was some holy day, Holy Saturday, I think. I was looking for a service to attend, but at the same time scorning church for some reason. I met a man–who in the course of the dream turned into a woman– who shared my skepticism, but also my odd faithfulness, which endures–in waking life–in the face of all the betrayals of God. The city was small and beautiful, with each block dominated by a handsome brick church. But on the steps of each church were guards in choir robes, keeping out those who did not belong. At last we chose a church, and went in, sitting in the back because we weren’t members. Food was served up front, but it never came to the back. The man was dressed in pale green, and looked a little derelict, like he’d been sleeping on the street, but he was the smartest person I’d ever met. Everything he said was a revelation. Then everything she said was a revelation.

Returned to the studio yesterday and I was happy, happy, happy. Worked productively. Part of my happiness is that SL has moved upstairs beside me. I liked him when I first met him years ago, and I liked him the better yesterday morning. It’s great to have company again. He whistled down in his studio as he worked. I still miss Jason, and he helped with that. People came in from the street, from New Orleans, Boston, etc, leaf-lookers, I suppose. One man was taken with my paintings, and stood interpreting them symbolically. He said he wished he could buy one, and I said why don’t you, and he said he could never afford it. He could. I would have given him one at whatever price he named, but he would have to ask, and he didn’t.

Thursday and Friday the lesson was Medea, and I felt myself recoiling from the awful splendor of the work. It is a masterpiece, shattering and resplendent. I never actually knew what the point was before, other than the satisfaction and horror of seeing Medea’s plan work out. It is an essay on the consequences of the energy we put into the world. Medea is the scale of cosmic justice. Jason cannot say he was ill-served, but only that the punishment exceeded all expectation. He lit a match and watched an empire burn. Grant remarks on a similar thing in his memoirs, saying that the seizure of Texas from the Mexicans was a cause of the Civil War, and if we consider the problems Texas causes to this day, we see that the repercussions are not yet stilled. That understanding helped me to understand much, fit many pieces of my experience together at last. What I wish is for a play that shows the radiation and expansion of a good deed. Maybe I am to write it.

The Weir was well last night, my second without an error, and I think my best performance so far. I enjoyed the time on stage, as I had not, because of anxiety, before. People praised my accent, which was the thing about which I was most uncertain.

I think all the flowers pulled through what was meant to be a bitter night. One more day is a victory for us all, and all we can expect. Mulched heartily in yesterday’s brilliant light. I could feel it in my back until I went on stage.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

October 17, 2015

End of what has been, in terms of wretched things which actually happened, maybe the worst of the year.
Have entered the Season of the Freezing Study.

Woke with my voice hoarse and soft. Here’s hoping that departs by evening. Last night’s opening was not stellar (I blanked on a line that I had never missed before) but good enough, I think. People praised us at the reception, whether sincerely or not we may never know. I felt good, all in all. Got the major laugh of the evening on, “Jaysus, Jim, what a terrible story to be telling.” The long drives become darker, longer, more hateful, though after tomorrow we have a break for a few days. I am happy on stage. I am good at it. I wonder every now and then why I didn’t make that part of the theater my life. The answer must be, I didn’t really want to.

When I left the house yesterday morning I took time to look at a rose that had opened on the top of a tall stalk. It is white with a pinkish center. It seemed so huge and unexpectedly beautiful that I stood a while staring at it. When I came home from school and crashed onto the bed for a nap, a strange thing happened. I’ll just tell as it seemed to me. I was visited by two spirits. One was the spirit of my little cat Theseus, gone these many years. One was the spirit of the rose. They came and nestled against me, and I was overtaken, overshadowed by a powerful emotion, and I do not know exactly what it was, but I think it was my soul receiving some immense gift of forgiveness. I do not know for what I was being forgiven, or what required such an agony of forgiveness, but I lay on the bed between sleep and waking, convulsed with the most sweet and painful emotion. And then I slept, thinking it was Theseus beside me, and he and the rose were watching over.

Friday, October 16, 2015

October 16, 2015

Sleeping quite late for me, after evenings that end in exhaustion and then a long ride home. Last night’s dress-with-audience (a quite small audience) suffered from two giant gaps opening when the wrong cue was uttered, each of them redeemed in good time, I think. I made, for the first time, no mistakes, and feel the evening as my confidence run. That doesn’t mean I won’t be studying the script like mad this afternoon.  I have no idea how the play “plays.” Is it interesting?  Can we be understood? The people who stayed after last night were Board members, so they could hardly say, “This sucks.”  Had a meltdown over the body mic, which, like the security searches at the airport, is at once both useless and annoying.
Maud cuddling my feet in the bathroom as though we had not seen each other in weeks.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

October 15, 2015

Invigorated from planting in the autumn garden: a rose, some peonies, a fern. I keep thinking everything is in, but cartons keep arriving. I must have gone through a great hunger for plants. It is well, for it would have been a moody afternoon if nothing had arisen to distract me. Have given up on Humanities. Brief cry in my office, moved on. Taught Medea in class. Compared my situation to Medea’s, and though the comparison isn’t totally ridiculous, it serves mostly to illustrate the fact that I lack ruthlessness. Even the most deserving retribution exhausts me after a couple of hours. I have a comic temperament, which gets on with things in a timely manner, whereas Medea is tragic, and capable of being stuck, however majestically, upon one point. We heard the Jeffers translation. What an incomparably great play!
The three times I have quarreled with people at the university in thirty years– Ileana, Arnold, now the Boy, each time has been a shock and an ambush. I did not sense the animus, nor did I share it until forced by underhanded deeds to do so. My every stance has been, by necessity, defensive. This tells me something about my character, and I would like to be more precise about what. Too trusting? Not sufficiently observant? Capable of running over peoples’ toes without sensing it? Liable to inspire envy? I don’t think I’m really generally very irritating, because opposite testimony seems more widespread. Certain sorts of people, though– viperish, forked-tongued, jealous of status and prerogative, moving in shadow, talking to everyone but me. . .  I can’t prevent it because I don’t see it coming. And I have no one to counsel me. I have to wait, try to clear the air, decide what my heart is truly advising.
Last night was near calamity on stage, featuring huge gaps that we tried to bluff our way through. The reviewer was there, alas, but knew it was a rehearsal and we weren’t ready. Tonight, final dress, we have an audience, and it begins to count. I never know what mistake I’m going to make– in every case one I’ve never made before– so adventure lies before.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

October 13, 2015

My playwrights and I had a great time sitting at the table reading plays last night.

Reading Grant’s Memoirs that I got at the antique store. He was very much an Ohio boy. Loved speed and travel. Read with wonder that his father operated a tannery in Ravenna for a while.

Stopped by the APD. I saw two cruisers approaching the traffic circle at the end of the university drive, and I thought, “If I don’t merge briskly they’re going to think I don’t know how to use a traffic circle.” A block or so later they stopped me for failing to yield right of way in a traffic circle. Sigh. They also wanted to cite me for an expired registration, but the registration does not expire until October 15, so I don’t know what that was about. He said, “Someone made a mistaken stroke of the pencil.” But, I didn’t KNOW it expired on October 15, so the unexpected benefit is that I’m off to the DMV before I really am illegal.
A dark star has reigned over the last few days. I don’t know whether to feel alacrity that the stream of ill fortune must by now have ended, or fear that there’s more yet to come.

Monday, October 12, 2015

October 12, 2015

Fired from Humanities, after 32 years, for being “disruptive.” I don’t get credit for my forbearance, which I think of as my signal trait. I did not present the fact that I was being fired because I kept in the light the ways in which things are going awry, because the one who set them awry doesn’t want to hear it. I suppose that could count as being “disruptive.” though, I would argue, virtuously so. What a mousy, sniveling, deceitful self-aggrandizing little maneen. I want to say, “Who wants to work for him, anyhow?” but in fact I’m heartbroken, for this tiny moment. I loved teaching that stuff. I felt nostalgia in class today, thinking of all the things I would never speak of again, professionally. I did more good doing it than he will in a dozen careers laid end to end. I think he knows that, weighed it in the balance, and found his vanity, nevertheless, rising to the heavens. I hate a quarrel more than people think I do, and have never in my life clung to a quarrel when I even suspected to the least degree I might be wrong. I do not do so now. Tom Paine and Mahatma Gandhi were disruptive, weren’t they? I think I’m more worried than they were about hurting peoples’ feelings. And shame on me for that. Anyway, a brilliant afternoon to fill before my playwrights come for chili.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

October 11, 2015

L’s birthday party, then home to amazing dreams. I crossed the border of some dream country and was greeted by Saddam Hussein. Yes. He was garrulous and loud, but quite friendly, and seemed to hover in the air. He took me on a personal tour of the music hall in which the revolution had begun, and then a few other buildings. I had knowledge in the dream that he is dead, but took that in stride.The country was quite tiny. I crossed into another country. I was wearing a uniform, and was apparently an American soldier. I couldn’t get the ATM machines to work, and attendants would open the panel above them and hand me cakes and toys, but only occasionally the money I thought I needed. I’d was driving my father’s car, and damaged it somehow, and left it in an alley of a bazaar with a note on it asking somebody to fix it. The next day I stood there and watched mysterious doors opening, and my car was coming of it, good as new. The person responsible was a young man in uniform who, I discovered, was the son of the local dictator and who had been assigned to me in some way. He kept appearing and smoothing the way throughout the dream, both kind and unpredictable. This country seemed to be underground, in intersecting, vast tunnels, spacious and well lit, but edged with stone and darker tunnels radiating out who knows where. Perhaps the carrot cake did that to me.
The morning-night seems half way between rain and not rain.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

October 10, 2015

The sky let me make a furniture run to the river space, and then opened into rain that has not abated since. Constant sound from the roof, like a radio not quite tuned to a station.
T phoned as I was headed to the studio, so I went to Starbucks instead. It teams of a Saturday morning. We talked of the usual things, his endless screenplay, his always off-the-mark country songs, the shapeliness of the girls at the bar, and I was disappointed, except that I noted that a knot in the front of my chest, which had been building for a couple of days, had gone away, and I credited simply being with somebody friendly for a while, whatever the conversation. He studiously copies country songs he hears on the air, and then marvels that his aren’t sung by the stars as well. I do see the point, but I am the wrong person to ask about that sort of thing, having turned my back on fashion since the first days of my life as an artist. That is not a boast. It is sort of a lamentation. Anyway, he says, “I have behaved as a proper artist all my life,” and I agreed that he had, in the purest way, far purer about it than I have been, and with less to show. We talked about the unfairness, nay, the ruinous folly, of the gods. We talked about the narrowness of our desires, how back when we were telling God what we wanted– well, he didn’t say exactly what he’d asked for, but I gathered that he’d gotten it, in a way, but that it was not sustaining. I asked to be a great writer. Whether I got that or not is for others to judge. What I should have asked was to be a successful one. Oh, I have been very pure. I have gone the righteous way. I can’t say that it availed nothing, but it didn’t avail in the way I’d thought.
 Anyway . . .
The rain seems to have changed a bit, maybe even taken a breather.

October 9, 2015

Last night’s rehearsal was almost good. We open in a week, so it wasn’t THAT good.
Enlarged, spaded, fertilized, re-soiled the front garden. One white peony is planted in the new space, but there’s room for more.
H came to visit. He made me smile, even when he began talking about the “fact” that no airplanes were involved in 9/11, and about how the jewels in the crowns of various kings controlled their behavior. I wasn’t there to witness either, so who knows?

Thursday, October 8, 2015

October 8, 2015

E is back, revealing that she was gone because her sister had been kidnapped and drugged, and came to enough to flee from the motel where she was being held, to call E, who whirled down to set things to rights. Like a TV show.
Despite these heroics, very ragged rehearsals. Investigating the phenomenon of blanking on stage to those things which I knew perfectly well an hour before. An old story, but still an irritating one.,
Agony of light-blindness, driving nightly west into the setting sun.
Applied for Medicare. Jesus
Planted paeonia, iris. Mulched.
Asking questions about the Iliad and receiving no answers. Only a few have read it, is my conclusion., One girl raises her hand and says, “I tried to read it, but I’m lost. I just don’t understand what’s going on.”
“Is your translation in English?”
“Yes,” she says, without a change of expression.
The correct response is, “Then you have no business being in college.” But I betray my public trust, shrug, and begin telling them the story.