Tuesday, March 31, 2015

March 31, 2015

Bach’s English Suites.

Whatever else it did, the Carrboro trip sent me into a flurry of composition.

Woke from a dream whose details were lost as I was waking, but it was about my setting some confused thing to order.

Monday, March 30, 2015

March 30, 2015

Rain on the roof. One darkness folded into another.

Palm Sunday was taken up by the drive to Carrboro. Of course I arrived early, and had time for lunch at the Southern Rail and a short tour which, nevertheless, took in most of the sights of that compact knot of sociability. The production itself rests uneasily upon my mind, for it represented that mix of good intentions and shoddy results about which one has a hard time coming to a conclusion. I had specifically nixed the idea of re-gendering my two leads, and said I would rather cancel than do so. I was assured that everything was well in that regard. Yet when I arrived, yes, the genders had been changed. The actors were clearly–in some cases more than others–accomplished, but they kept reminding me and one another that they had not had time to rehearse. One would know that even had they not admitted it. They tripped over lines they were reading from a page. They had not looked up pronunciations or meanings of unfamiliar words. OK, time is short for everybody, but I was solicited for this event (six months ago), asked for a script and invited to see it performed, solicited to continue when I thought it best to cancel. It’s like inviting someone to dinner two 180 miles away, reminding him periodically of the importance of that dinner, and then when he arrives, serving bologna sandwiches because everything was in such turmoil. I saw no advertising, not even a poster on the door of the theater, the upshot of which was that there was ONE person in the audience not directly associated with, or related to, a person in, the production. “Oh, there are two basketball games this afternoon, and everything around here stops for basketball” was the explanation of that. I wondered what audience would be common to both. What people call “opportunities” are sometimes so meager they seem like tribulations, and yet one must smile and thank everybody for their trouble, or be gossiped about later for one’s temperament. And there was something to smile about and be thankful for. They DID put forth the effort they put forth, and the reading did accomplish the thing for which it was intended, to allow me a hearing to note what was good and what was bad. And the play is very good, and I might plunge forward there. The souls in the room whom I could count on my fingers thought so too. Had the play been bad there would be no plank to cling to in a tossing sea of disappointment.
Some luscious Arts Council gossip, though. We never hear the fresh gossip up here in the mountains. An account of the installation of Shelby as Poet Laureate, and the perception that his selections were chosen for him by the Arts Council to include only that work which would not offend our unspeakable governor. R said that he himself was nominated for PL, but solicited for his materials only after the deadline had passed. The current administration’s mendacity and micro-managing asininity extends even to things one would have thought below the normal political radar. R pictures Shelby as stupefied and dispirited by the degree to which that post is a cog in the machine of politics. . . and politics which are, at the moment, the most hateful in the nation.
Venus rode in the center of my windshield for the last leg home.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

March 29, 2015

    Palm Sunday. May we all arrive somewhere in glory.
    Cold bright morning. I will take the buckets and jars off the plants before I leave for parts eastward.
    Made progress on my American Places play.
    I hate Bertolt Brecht.
    Wish. . .  Something. . . .

Saturday, March 28, 2015

March 28, 2015

Spent $25,000 yesterday, between paying taxes and paying off the Home Equity Loan on 62. Soaringly out of dept, except for the mortgage on this place. State taxes were more than twice federal taxes, as in order to get more money to the rich, the legislature eliminated most deductions normal people counted on.

An Iliad at NC Stage last night. Extraordinarily good. The most effective one man show I ever remember seeing, Willy– as Paris says of Hector– a sharpened axe. Parts of the script bordered on the coy, but most of it was fire. It snowed as we sat in King James devouring our apres-theater snacks. Sent lamentations up.

Covered the voodoo lily, brought the unplanted plants indoors, must leave the rest to their own fate through two days of returning winter.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

March 26, 2015

Mother gone 41 years.
Evening– home, stupid with exhaustion.

The stock positions I sold in order to pay off 62 and buy 51 left me–and this never once crossed my mind– owing my first whopping capital gains tax to the IRS.

Swam this morning farther than I have since Boy Scouts. Perhaps this contributes to my exhaustion. It felt good. I could have swam farther, maybe. It was hours before dawn and I had the pool to myself, and the effect was rather mystical.

A wasp fluttered against the ceiling of my classroom this AM, and the 300 pound Bohemian in the back row started and flinched and kept his eyes glued on it in infantile panic.
    “Dr, there’s a wasp up against the ceiling.”
    “I see there is.”
    “I haven’t got my epi-pen.”
    “The wasp is twenty feet away and showing no interest in you at all.”
    But his anxiety captured everyone’s interest, and I couldn’t say anything about the Victorians that would get past twenty pairs of eyes glues to a creature weighing not half an ounce minding her own business on the ceiling.
    “It’s a wasp,” says I. “You’ve seen a wasp before. If this is going to fill you with dread, please leave the room.” Goliath the Fretful would not turn his attention away from the wasp, and the more fantastical his anxiety became, the angrier I became. Finally he did leave, looking pale and sick; rather than being sympathetic I was furious. He was no more likely to be stung by that wasp than I was to be bitten by a wolverine. The young have never been encouraged to get beyond their immediate perceptions, never asked to correct them, never expected to transcend them however wasteful or delusional. We are sent letters asking for accommodations to be made for people who would be incalculably better off if accommodations had stopped in the fifth grade.
    In the afternoon, one student (the one who always asks the question I just answered at length, the one who always mentions half way through the lesson that he forgot his book) interpreted the production of a scene from a play to be a halting, mumbling, almost unbelievably incompetent (and un-rehearsed) reading of a lengthy monolog from Life is a Dream. People don’t KNOW what they’re doing? He really had no idea how different (and worse) his approach was from everyone else’s? He was the LAST TO GO, and had fourteen better examples to learn from. It was past time for me to get home this evening.

Last night I became a Shaker.

Between last night and this morning the yard erupted with violets.

Talked with my warrior-saint in South Africa this morning.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

March 25, 2015

Purcell’s Diocletian on the CD. If one decided to listen to all opera still extant from the 17th and 18th centuries, would one ever come to an end?

The neighborhood kids on the way to school put empty soda bottles in my mailbox, and then put the flag up for the mailman to find. It’s been so long since I’ve been pranked.

Except for the immortal snot factory in my head, I woke with a feeling of physical well being. Zach’s ministration has all but put an end to the shoulder pain that has been with me for three years. It was chiefly due to my carrying myself like a slave.  Good work-out at the Y. The conversation in the steam room was of the bears in various neighborhoods, and how they are worked into the fabric of society.

The first peach is in full bloom, lovely with the dark of the side yard behind it.  The peaches are my favorite acquisition of the year so far.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

March 24, 2015

Another day of digging and planting under the varying sun. Everything piled up on my porch planted, the water gardens filled. Sent The Falls of the Wyona to the agent who so admired Necklaces so much and for so many reasons, and yet, inevitably, absurdly, in the end declined to take it. It’s like one rejecting a perfect garden because she discovers that the flowers are pollinated not by angels but by bees. Envy is forced upon me every day. Have ideas in my head to write now, cannot until there is some breakthrough so it doesn’t seem futile. Hungry. Am not often outright hungry. Alan left a beautiful, lyrical evaluation of the Amadeus experience on Facebook. I have to take time to appreciate all that.

Monday, March 23, 2015

March 23, 2015

In a kind of fruit tree mania, bought another peach and planted it after the show, when it was twilight and just commencing to rain. I could feel vibrations from the little tree, to be in the soil and in the rain for the first time in its life. Planted celandine, bought primroses but let them sitting in their little cartons until the light.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

March 22, 2015

Gray, soft morning. Last day of the Amadeus run, which saddens me, but which I know will be a relief when the final smear of eyeliner is daubed away. I occasionally think “this will be my last time on stage.” Sometime it will be.

Maud the cat embracing my left foot with affectionate ferocity.

Trying to remain mindful of my posture. It may be an illusion, or it may be doing me good already.

Yesterday’s pansies a blue-purple border on the porch at dawn.

My most frequent prayer in these latter days is, “Lord, allow me to love you.” Yet if somehow I could be absolutely convinced that there were no God, I would end myself instantly, running toward that fate as fast as I could, unable to face having expended all–and I mean all- my spiritual energy into the same void all my days.  Even when there is hatred, there is something; the one who has earned your hatred is still in your life, can still open the door and the two of you cross over.

The sinus infection–or whatever it is–has been with me since Thanksgiving. I haven’t sung a perfectly clear note in months. When I open up my mouth on stage, I’m never sure what’s going to come out. Sniffing, coughing, and in a rage at morning.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

March 21, 2015

Mozart’s Idomeneo on the CD, in honor of its mention in the play. The disks were ruined by the separation foam having disintegrated onto them. So much for that.

Saw a rat padding in my shade garden. I suppose it’s attracted by the dumpster at the apartments.  A rat among the ferns is different from a rat coming out of the sewer.

Another blue agate day.

My longing for a peach tree was not overcome by the problem of where to put it. I bought it and found a place for it. All morning digging and planting and watering.  Purple pansies for the flower boxes, where there were yellow last year. My muscles burn and tingle.

Zach gave me stretches and exercises designed to redress the perpetual pain and weakness in my shoulders. We both think it’s a matter of carriage rather than injury. Since our session I have been mindful of CONSTANTLY hunching forward, as if in a gesture of protection. I can barely lie on the floor with my shoulders and elbows flat. I know the things I am protecting myself from, but since the hunched posture doesn’t actually protect me, I might as well give it up. Occasional but intense muscle spasms make me afraid of using my abdominals, so getting up from the floor becomes an unsightly ordeal of crawling and levering. Must try to have as little wrong with me as possible as the years advance.

Good show last night. John so kind he offers to fetch my cape when I bitch about having to get up and get it. What kind of life have I lead that I don’t know how to react to kindness?

Friday, March 20, 2015

March 20, 2015

After dreamless nights I woke to a complicated and beautiful dream in which a company and I explored measureless, light-and-water-filled caverns. There were magic talking fish and magic gems and exits from the caverns into important places in my past. The ones I remember are a glamorized Hiram and the bridge that takes one from Kentucky into downtown Cincinnati.

Good Thursday performance, although there was a photo session afterward, which is always hateful. This one was less hateful than most. I don’t remember another time since college, when I thought I had made friends of an entire cast.

I don’t really like The Theater that much. I like being on stage performing, being in the audience watching, being in my room writing new plays, but all the other trappings are for me a land of gray. I have never just “hung out” at a theater to savor its reverberations. I am not much interested in theater gossip, local or New York. I have theater anecdotes, but I never think of them when the conversation is rolling. I do not arrive early nor linger late. I am an exceptionally good actor without deserving to be, having put so little effort (except the intellectual kind) into it. E-mails are going back and forth about The Mermaid, and while I appreciate that, I would wonder, were I anyone but the playwright,”what’s the fuss?”

Spring. Whatever the weather I will be out in the garden.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

March 18, 2015

Deep in the time of rage. It cannot be helped from this side, only burned to ashes.

Planted ferns and hellebore, replanted ferns that I had ill-advisedly planted in pots last summer.  Much digging and hauling, after a quite rigorous workout in the dark of the morning. Wanted to have sex with the beautiful swimmer in the pool beside me. Stretching all day to insure I don’t seize up during the show.
The Citizen-Times review of Amadeus was occasionally insightful, occasionally not.

Thinking, inexplicably, of the field of low grass beside my grandmother’s house in Brownsville. It was the tiniest secret refuge.

Made cherry cookies. Cut my thumb.

Asked for a large personal loan, I say yes immediately, then spend too much time thinking of ways in which the askers have taken on too much, have been too daring, could have cut back and provided. Luckily all this came after “yes” and will never need to be expressed. I had paid all my bills, so resources were low, and I had to do a bit of scrounging.

RK seems very excited about The Mermaid. I told him to cancel it (he said they were having the devil’s time casting it) but he said everyone likes it and they really want to do it. So, Palm Sunday in Carrboro.
March 17, 2015

Blessed Saint Patrick. Not surprisingly I have thought of Ireland all day.

Monday, March 16, 2015

March 16, 2015

Weekend in the theater. Everyone was there Saturday night, including L and Z and K and DJ– which was well, for that was, for me, the model performance. Dropped a line last night. Huge and apparently well-pleased crowds. The show is too long backstage, but evidently people feel differently out front.

    Emerged from the gym to see the crescent moon hanging blue-white low in the southeast. “Beauty,” I said. It was another symbol of my odd theology, in which all God’s works in the world seem sublime and majestic, while God’s works in my life are mean and wasteful.

    My purple hyacinths glow slightly in the dim light before dawn.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

March 14, 2015

Oddly unquiet night. Exhausted from it.

Hugely appreciative crowd at the theater last night. I’m no longer going to try to critique my own performance, for there’s no way to do it.

Z’s affection is thrilling and surprising, though I’m not sure how to respond. Saying back to him the things he has said to me seems, however sincere, lacking in imagination. He has gone past the point I normally thinking of as the threshold of the physical, and yet the physical is clearly not what he wants. This displays my limitations, for I have dismissed the Platonic as being something I would not entertain until the Erotic was fulfilled. One sits and listens, hoping for some Muse of friendship to put eloquence into the mouth. One seeks for the deed that would make eloquence unnecessary.

It is wrong and cruel of God to insist on His own time. He has so much of it, we so little. The long stretches of peace between us will always end (or at least have always ended) with betrayal and cruelty. And peace is not joy, is not victory. It is me for the moment looking the other way.

Friday, March 13, 2015

March 13, 2015

My father’s 96th birthday.

Eventful Thursday. I took my notebook to Edna’s CafĂ© and waited maybe 30 seconds for inspiration to strike. Wrote the first act of a new play, an addition to the Lincoln cycle, totally new, and mystical. Cultivated in the garden; drove nostalgically to Reems Creek to see if they had anything for me to plant; bought a new water garden (feed trough) at Tractor Supply; came home to a shipment of Jackson & Perkins roses; planted them. Emptied the old water garden to find that Lawrence the Fish has disappeared. No fish body or tiny fish bones, so I assume he has ascended to some higher state of being. But I miss him. Was going to clean and fill the water gardens, but discovered that the pipe leading to the outdoor faucet fell to the cold, and must wait for the plumber to accomplish that.

Best Amadeus yet, for me. The audiences have been hugely appreciative.
Watched the opossum feeding in misty darkness.

Breakfast-lunch of Chinese take-out. Will sleep and work on my play until it’s time to smear on the make-up.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

March 12, 2015

When I looked out the front window in the dark of the morning, a racoon was feeding from one feeder and an opossum from the other. Who needs a house in the country? The other mammalian residents are what must be a team of moles. Huge tunnels and gaps where they have burrowed. Lucky for them I don’t care about a lawn.

Purple hyacinth rocketing from the ground. Planted several kinds; purple is first off the mark.

Last night’s Amadeus better, for me, than the night before’s. I realize that my problem is that I have too many various and random things to do and am constantly being thrown from the necessary concentration. Do I move the bench in this scene? Where do I have to leave my coat to make the change in time? Do I pull the panel now? I’ve never been much of a multi-tasker. I need to say I have never, in any theater experience, been so comfortable with the cast I am a part of.

Made accommodations for Rome. $387 for five nights at St Paul’s Within the walls. $600 for the whole eight days. Auxiliary hotel, Homs, claims to be near the Trevi Fountains.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

March 11, 2015

“Friends and Family” dress last night was fairly well attended, and produced what I thought was excellent response. I myself made at least one mistake in every scene, and since I was not held in particular contempt, I assume others did worse. I lay my first mistake, an oddly and never-before bobbled line, to the fact that I thought I was going to shit myself at that moment, and couldn’t decide what to do about it. I scolded my bowel, “I had a cup of potato salad three hours ago!” It finally saw reason.  The play is three hours long, and probably shouldn’t be. From backstage Tech is cumbersome, but maybe it is magnificent from the angle from which it is meant to be seen. Made maple walnut white chocolate chip cookies for backstage, and they were gobbled up. Returned to see a raccoon scurrying from my feeder, and when I sat down to watch a little TV and drink a little Moscato, saw the silhouette of an opossum at the same place. It was very serene in the lamplight and the thin gliding mist.

Tavistock Square was a finalist in the Tennessee Williams Festival contest, though not the Grand Prize winner, which was something about jazz.

March 10, 2015

Made reservations for Rome. Because of the pointless intricacy of the Internet, made flight reservations with some guy in Plano, Texas. Will be staying in an apartment rented by St Paul’s Within the Walls, which seems to be right in the middle of everything. Leaving two months from tomorrow. Get home in time to pack for Omaha. Hate to tempt the gods by saying so, but my catarrh seems to be in retreat, just in time for the sound of coughing not to emanate from the wings during the performances.

Monday, March 9, 2015

March 9, 2015

Rain. Still wake before dawn despite the silly time change. I need that. I need to feel the sun coming under the edge of the world.

We got a run-through last night, which seemed to indicate an extraordinary show. How good is it? I wish I could sit in the audience and see. It pretty much depends on M, and he is solid. The rest of us would have to work hard to subvert him. My fellow actors have been amazingly kind. It’s like working with family.

Rose and went to the Racket Club. In the locker room the men had hung their pale blue business shirts on hangars about the room, and somehow that seemed very tender, very sweet and vulnerable, and as if glimpsed from unfathomable distance. I can’t really explain it. It’s as though I were an explorer generations later opening that long-buried room and seeing those pale blue shirts, and wondering what became of the men who meant to wear them.

Legs annihilated from tech. Began tripping off the stage steps because I could no longer bend my knee. Actual performances are less than 1/3 the duration, so I look forward to a time of easing.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

March 8, 2015

Sick after 9 hours of rehearsal– during which we had not yet teched the entire play– crashed to dreamless sleep. Starts again in a few hours. I remember meeting big John when he was running a theater company at the Wortham, in the brief golden days of Derek. He was SO handsome and so jolly. Still is, though the raven hair is silver. He has been feeding me fragments of the legend of myself, which is the more remarkable because it never occurs to me that anyone is ever having a conversation about me, and if they are, it is bound to be cordial and kind. My history is remembered in some detail, which is most odd. Most of those details are wrong, which is not as bad as it sounds because, in general, my motivation in legend is remembered purer than it was upon the moment. The subject of the hateful and devious Tina Maguire came up, and I mentioned that among her sins was vetoing a grant the Arts Council had voted for me. I thought her malice was mysterious, but John remembers the details as presented then, and told the story of the male nude in the window when I had Urthona Gallery on Patton Avenue. Tina (who was the self-appointed queen of Asheville arts until we came to our senses) reportedly sent a delegation to me to remove the painting, at least for Bele Cher, and I refused to do it. The one point of that story that is true is the painting. It was on the back wall, and you had to work to see it from the street. Passers-by when I was at the studio smiled and gave me the thumbs-up, so I assumed it was a popular hit. But one day I received a call from Stephanie, my employee, who said a firestorm was gathering around that painting, that the women upstairs from Help-Meet said it was encouraging rape and the City Councilman from the bank across the street was in a froth about it, and the management of the building had received all sorts of complaints, and on and on. NOT ONE OF THOSE COMPLAINTS HAD EVER been whispered to me. Not one. I thought people liked it. When I learned it was upsetting people, I removed it INSTANTLY and put it on a wall where you’d have actually to enter the room to see it. So much for any attitude of defiance on my part. AND, all this happened in February; Bele Cher was in July. I’m capable of boiling about this twenty years later. I never got to slap Maguire across the mouth, which is the action which would have come near to settling our scores. Do I take it as a sign of innocence or stupidity that I am, for the most part, flabbergasted by the things I do that irritate people? Causing irritation almost never crosses my mind. Maybe it should.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

March 7, 2015

Nimrud is bulldozed under.

From 5 to 10:30 last night got us not quite through Act I. I always assume a little planning, a little less of the catastrophic mentality on the part of theater techies,  would reduce the agony of Tech, but perhaps people would be disappointed if Tech weren’t hell. Actually pleased to be among my colleagues, even for that stretch of time, but what mostly happens is that we stand around, and standing around annihilates my legs. Had to sleep backwards last night, with my feet on the pillow, to bring the swelling down. Twice as long today, the halting and waiting to begin at noon. I think back to when this would have drawn howls of rage from me; now it is but a sigh. Good sleep after, though, until gray dawn was breaking.

Wrote to N. They say she is dying, and I want her to know I will think of her long after she does. She and Tom are my oldest friends in Asheville. We did aerobics at the Spa-that-was, then sat gossiping in the whirlpool the first weeks I was in town. Learned of All Souls from her years before I went there. If I had inclined that way, I think we might have married.
Speaking of Tom, he showed me a Country song he’d written and had performed by Chris Rosser, and it was good. Very good. Finally I could say to him, “Yes, yes, this is achieved.”

Friday, March 6, 2015

March 6, 2015

B took back his old job as housekeeper, and I am reminded of the inexplicable calamities attend his presence. An extension cord simply stopped working. He turned off the furnace (I suppose accidentally, but who dusts the thermostat?) and when I arrived home the house was cold and I had a moment’s furnace-panic until I realized what had happened. Blessing the Powers when the dim roar issued again from the basement. Bitter cold last night, though some clemency toward dawn.

Alan improves and improves as Mozart. I feel stuck, though I suppose stuck in adequacy, or someone would say something.

I am a finalist in the Tennessee Williams playwriting contest in New Orleans.  I didn’t record what play it was.

Sleep, teach, rehearse. React to emails.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

March 4, 2015

Last night was the rehearsal where I got the rhythm, felt I knew the oily Count, felt secure. There is typically one day when this comes, and I am glad this time that it was not later.

Poking around on the real estate pages, I discover that my house was built in 1923, that it is officially a 3 bedroom house in which four unrelated people were living previously, and that Stewart sold it to me for a $100,000 more than he bought it for. His improvements are pretty spectacular, so I do not begrudge that. 62 is listed as a “four bedroom apartment,” which is the last thing I would have thought of. One page emphasizes that it has the lowest evaluation in the neighborhood, though I think that was severe. I made $100,000 on that sale, too, though I will probably never actually see the money.

I’m going on about the high philosophies and benefits of the Enlightenment and Romanticism, and one girl raises her hand and says, “Yes, but only if you’re a white male.” I know she felt compelled to do it. I know she has a women’s studies teacher who admonishes her that this observation must be made in every class. I know that she was serious as cancer, but I can barely get past my initial response, which is to smile and say “there, there.’ She did open the door to my lecture on the differences between precept and practice, all practice being flawed.

The Ferguson cops were punks. We knew it; now it’s official. The homeless man murdered by police in Los Angeles (who was down on the ground and outnumbered 6 to 1) “reached for an officer’s gun.” We know that is a coward’s lie. How long will this go on?

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

March 3, 2015

Up in the dark, the newsmen babbling their babble in the kitchen below. Surprisingly, I can hear every word from my study. Isis. Tikrit. Netanyahu. Spill. Massacre. Congress. So many things that hit the news astonish me simply because of the time and energy that seem to be available in which to do evil. My own career as a villain would be cut short, if by nothing else, by lack of application.
Gold crocus. Green spears of incipient daffodils. Re-hired B to clean my house, S seeming to have drifted back into the West without a sign.

Monday, March 2, 2015

March 2, 2015

Complicated, detailed dream about taking back the gallery I used to run in an urban mall in downtown Syracuse, renting space from Dick at Westcott Cordial. Of course there was never any such place, but the dream was so thick with history I must assume for a while it was a recurring motive.

Blurred my lines at rehearsal yesterday. I know them. I must conquer interior distraction, place them at an exact position in my head for them to come flowing out. This process is entirely visual.

I believe I have lost my sense of taste. Everything is bland, though still pleasing or not according to texture. If it is not some temporary flourish of this endless pulmonary infection, then it happened in a single night.

Having no life at the moment. . .

Sunday, March 1, 2015

March 1, 2015

 Pearly first of March.

 Rehearsal and writing, writing and rehearsal. If the weather allows, “school” will get back into the mix. Not embarrassing myself at rehearsals. Have to be told where the envelope is so I can push it.

Revised The Beautiful Johanna 
Finally cooked the pasta I brought with me from 62. It was a symbol. Now it is breakfast, lunch, supper. Who knows? Breakfast tomorrow?

Rose an hour after retiring to vomit. All well after that. Lay abed with Circe dreaming vivid dreams.

Went to the web pages of the other Great Plains playwrights. I’m the only one WITHOUT a web page. Even that truth does not arouse me to try to make one. They all seem pretty badass, except that my record of actual productions is way ahead.