Thursday, April 30, 2015

April 30, 2015

At dawn after my workout, wandered the field behind the Racquet Club, which leads to a couple of interesting ditches and a little creek that instantly became a favored place. Battalions of ducks arise from somewhere.

Planted two new roses. Dug up one I thought was dead and saw the tiniest patch of green on the stalk. Replanted it.

Will finish the new/old novel today. Will find a title for it. The first file I have for it is dated 2003, though it must have been in the works long before that. I believe I might have started it at Syracuse. I remember sitting in Oak Hill Cemetery spinning the story out of my mind, though whether I wrote anything down then I do not remember.

Work is “over” and yet there is so much to do I despair of really restful rest. Most of this is activities that sounded good at the time, but turn out to be, to varying degrees, dreadful. I am not one of those who thinks he must be busy to be justified.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

April 29, 2015

Joni Mitchell at the foot of the Rainbow Bridge.

Ghastly rehearsal last night. The big choir is not ready. The little choir sits on its hands, bemused. We retreated to Pack’s Tavern afterwards to drown our sorrows. I don’t think L realizes his conversation is mostly about how things present are not as good as things passed.

Boiled sugar water for the hummingbirds.

Finally went to the doctor, where my darkest fears were allayed and replaced with, “Oh, no, that’s only–“

The novel I’m resurrecting– I think once upon a time I called it All the Tired Horses– is wholly different from current or recent work, calmer, statelier, in some ways more assured and patient. How and where did I lose that? Is it well lost for something else and better? Not? Reading it is like meeting an old friend. Some of the passages are embossed verbatim in my mind. Whatever I was doing, I was doing it differently. A different person was doing it. Was the change growth or deflection? Did I seek to have this published? I’ve no record of it, but I suppose I did, and allowed myself to be carromed out of the market by some cruel and ignorant remark.

Yellow irises are everywhere. I must have forgotten I planted one batch and went out and bought another. Several times.  Started a new fern garden under the eastward pines. Planted eggplants.

The radio promises rain, and I watch for it.

Monday, April 27, 2015

April 27, 2015

Wonderfully useful Cantaria rehearsal yesterday. What makes the difference between good rehearsals and bad ones? Me? Them?

Reception for Charles’ retirement. One of the things holding me back from retirement is the excess of receptions. Or perhaps I fear that there wouldn’t be any at all, that I would, as I generally do, creep out the back un-noted.

Foxglove on the verge of blossoming. White-crowned sparrows, warblers (of some kind) in the garden.

Resurrected the novel of Emma and Ellie. It’s good. Why did I put it aside? Did I ever try to publish it? No evidence remains of it, if I did. What did I even call it?

Boil over with exhaustion and frustration, then sleep. Rise, work, boil over with exhaustion and frustration, sleep. Is this what I look forward to till the end of days?

Bought a small French dresser with a serpentine top, purple and veiny.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

April 26, 2015

Yellow tree peony in full bloom, a little pastel sun.

Despite vows to the contrary, stopped at the Farmers’ Market and bought ramp-y cheese, jack-in-th-pulpit, wild ginger, borage.

Off then to Reynolds to see (another) Into the Woods. It was excellent, cleverly staged and impeccably performed.  Sondheim tangles the trail, but the kids bravely followed it. The Piazza afterwards, eggplant Parmesan that brought tears to the eyes.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

April 25, 2015

Returned home late afternoon to find the back yard full of bluebirds.

A badly planned drive to Reems Creek involved me in what probably is the last major planting of spring: white hostas, ferns, a red rose and a rusty orange one, comfrey, toad lilies, more Venus flytraps, more pitcherplants, swamp iris, dicentra. Though rain is forecast, I watered everything, the newer ones looked so peaked.

Supposed to meet with JD, but his departure time from Raleigh keeps getting changed. He blames it on the baby.

Friday, April 24, 2015

April 24, 2015

My drama students–except for one–put on excellent original plays– in some ways better than my playwriting students have done in the recent past. The exception wrote . . . I can’t even say what. It is as if he had never heard of the theater, after an entire semester of sitting in the front row. He is one who brings to class with him an envelope requesting “special accommodation.” Sometimes what that means is “do not address this student’s weaknesses,” and one wonders what good one can do him at all.
It might be the long, long infection in my head, but I may have lost significant hearing in my right ear. If so, it happened one day. Tinnitus worse than it ever was.
Planted some plants coming late from the shipper. The news called for a freeze last night. We’ll see the damage when the light comes, in about two hours.
Finding advocates for In Many Colored Night. The question I ask, Lord, is how much better do I have to be than anyone else , for how long, before I am finally treated equally?

April 23, 2015

Went to see my student’s Undergraduate Research presentation on Tolkien. Preceding her was a Feminist reading of Ovid, looking to prove that The Metamorphoses was an intentional lamentation on the inequity of power. It was one of those scholarly essays whose erudition was pointless because the basic premise was nonsensical. The paper reached back in time to correct Ovid’s false notion of his own subject matter, and to reveal to him that he was really centrally concerned with the place of women in society. I asked the question, “Do you really think anyone in Ovid’s time would have read The Metamorphoses as a dissertation on power differential?” and her response was that Ovid was so great a poet that he wrote something that no one in his time could appreciate, patiently awaiting a time of enlightenment in which he could be properly understood.  I was a little ashamed of her adviser, but, of course, nothing could be said.  Advocate criticism such as Feminism or Queer Theory can never be really enlightening, as they seek to impose rather than to discover. They are not meant to be enlightening. They are meant to be gratifying.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

April 22, 2015

 Earth Day. Cold and bright. Two tree peonies in bloom, white and pink.

Student panic attenuates my patience. I could make a recording: “if you had done it when you were supposed to have done it, you wouldn’t have this problem.”

Attended the “Lavender Graduation” for gay boys and girls. I sneer at people who spend too much energy worrying about whether they’re being fully “themselves," even while recognizing that NOT being myself wrecked my childhood and youth in ways imponderable.  Yet it made me mighty in the ways of concealment. That is a blessing one doesn’t think to ask until it’s too late. Perhaps, all in all, I was lucky.

Drove to the Native Plants farm in Barnardsville. Turns out to be almost all azaleas, which I, inexplicably, don’t like.  Bought two Canada lilies so the trip wouldn’t be wasted.

April 20, 2015

    A cloud of bees announces that my hollies are in bloom.

    The garage disposal died with too many lemon peels in its mouth.

    In the morning before light I finished In Many Colored Night.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

April 19, 2015

Saw Nancy in every corner of the church this morning. Her service yesterday was beautiful. I thought I was a special friend of hers, but now I think that might not have been the case, that the quality of her spirit was such that everyone thought themselves special.  Surprising how sad I get if I let myself think about it.

Two flickers fed in the yard during yesterday’s rain. There must have been an abundance of whatever they were after, for they stayed a long time, pecking the ground.

Yellow iris in full glory.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

April 18, 2015

Turbulent departmental party here, but the good kind of turbulence, which I would have enjoyed more were I a different sort of person. Talked long with two strange, gay boys, wholly unlike any of the boys I knew growing up, unsocialized, gentle and free in themselves. The junior faculty clumped in the kitchen and talked, mostly about teaching. The senior faculty left early. My cooking and baking were exemplary & solitary. I’d set the lawn chairs out, but it rained. That was all right, as I’d just planted two angel trumpets and something else I forget the name of (it’s purple) and hadn’t gotten them watered. Michael, of all that he might have said, warned me that I would regret the grandiflora magnolia. I think I’ll be dead long before it’s too big.  Zach and I decided my diet (and my life) is way too acidic. We sing for Nancy today. Seeing the pictures people are placing Facebook makes her death realer, worse. Yes, that is the woman I remember. . . .

April 17, 2015

One class hadn’t read The Crock of Gold and we had to postpone discussion. The other had fiercely read Albee’s The Goat and turned out to be wiser about it than I was. The housecleaners didn’t come. I called and told them that I have the whole department over today, but her spasm of flustered incompetence made me drop the whole issue. Dim dawn.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

April 16, 2015

Bird-flute-y morning after an intermittently turbulent night. Began getting muscle spasms in my chest at the end of choir. Transferred to my legs in deep night. I walked around, stretching, trying to prevent a full onslaught, and I did. Puzzling at what should cause it, having recollection of drinking at least as much as usual.
The trash can in the kitchen bears witness to a catastrophic experiment in baking.
In my dream I was relating to an audience the time I was Elton John’s roommate, and he kept painting on the walls, often huge portraits of himself, which I took to be a strategy to get me out of the house so he could have it to himself. I was proud that it didn’t work.
Sweet Catalan writer in my class yesterday, expressing the same grief and frustration with “the market” as I have. It’s gratifying to hear it outside one’s one head, belaying the fear that one might have made it up or that it might apply to oneself alone. One faces the possibility of being a failure in life for reasons wholly unconnected to one’s actual achievements. The Gatekeepers prevent great achievement, and there is no other way to say it, no way to soften it. Some greatness gets through, and one always hopes to join that trickle amid the flood of mediocrity and the gush of just plain awful. No class teaches you this– nor should it. It is a horror and it is wrong, but like poverty and war it is one of those things which can be universally lamented without a clear idea what to do about it. I myself am too small. And haven’t enough of the Lord’s approbation.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

April 15, 2015

Rain falling, birds oddly loud in the still-dark trees.

My sister says that when I act I remind her of James Spader. I’ll take that.

The Beautiful Johanna in drama class. I tried to sneak it in as “anonymous,” but most of them guessed right off it was by me. “It just sounds like you.” Their insights were startling and useful. It may be a better play than I thought it was. And I thought it was pretty good.

Last night was the night of agonizing muscle cramps. Who knows why? Drank enough liquid that I could lie down at last in safety.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

April 14, 2015

Finished Five American Places. I’m the milliner churning out pretty hats for a people who have all the hats they need.

The volunteer wild phlox are a low cloud of purple. Stewart’s white lilacs are in bloom, though mine are not yet. My Venus flytraps bloom, pale white on a long thin stalk.
Often when I look out the back bathroom window, my rat will be squeezing through his gap in the fence to glean in my garden. I try to be reasonable and ask myself why he disturbs me more than, say, a squirrel, which is by any measure more destructive. His kind has kept company with sewers and plagues and monster movies, and that sticks with the imagination, though I conclude that MY rat is cleansed of all that. He seems to hunt in the daylight. Curious. Maybe there is a big owl.
Rolled the trash to the sidewalk with my big dead opossum in it. Seems wrong, somehow.

Monday, April 13, 2015

April 13, 2015

Profoundly overslept. Probably the strain of Sunday when I was supposed to do Three Big Things back to back, each of which I dreaded, none of which turned out to be as trying as I’d imagined. Returned to Choir and Cantaria after long absence. I was not nearly as behind in the Cantaria music as I had feared. Part of the overseleeping was that I was having erotic and funny dreams.
Nancy Reid died Saturday night. Tom and she were my oldest friends in Asheville. Knew her long before I knew All Souls, where her influence brought me. You look for moments where you might sit in a corner and think.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

April 11, 2015

Read on Thursday as part of the Celebration of the Arts to a room including but two people who were not themselves reading. Had to discuss Long Day’s Journey into Night directly afterwards, and the one experience did not blend well into the other.
To Waynesville last night (the intervening woods abloom with redbud and cherry) to see The Actor and the Assassin at HART. I was intensely interested in the play, and Adam’s stage presence was– though his lines were not yet rock solid– remarkable. First, he looked so like John Wilkes Booth it was creepy. Second, there was no Adam at all in him; it was all character, all Booth. I watched the unfolding of this perfect identity with fascination. He is truly an outstanding young actor.

Trailed by a cop most of the way back to Asheville, him tailgating so I assumed he was reading my license plate.  It came to nothing, so perhaps we were just traveling down the same road in the same direction. You can’t see on the Internet every day a new video of a cop murdering an innocent not to be disturbed when there’s even a distant chance that your own time has come. One incident in North Charleston finally got a cop booked for murder, though, watching, you understood that he had every expectation of getting away with it, as he surely would have had someone not been filming, as thousands of his brothers have in the past. Cop culture must be dismantled. It’s the only way to solve this problem.
All the mornings and afternoons of light I have filled with gardening, no matter what else I had to do. Raided Reems Creek and Jesse Israel, at the latter buying a nectarine. I asked the very blond woman helping me whether I should prefer an apricot or a nectarine, and she said that both provide an opportunity for disappointment. Planting the nectarine I discovered one of this house’s secrets– a certain way down you hit something odd and hard and black. If you scrape the black, liquid comes off on the edge of your spade, and if you smell the liquid you realize it’s fuel oil. They used to heat with oil, and the tank was never removed, and it is broken or disintegrated or something, and a hardened film of it lies a few feet below ground. It seems to be fairly localized. I filled the hole up and dug somewhere else.

Finishing my chores, I saw beside the shed my opossum lying dead. He was stiff, but not too smelly, and the maggots had not started in, so he may have died since last night. Of what? There was no mark on him, except that one of his eyes was sky blue. I though about burying him, but he was too big– bigger than any cat I’ve buried– so I put him in a trash bag and into the bin fo pickup Tuesday morning.  He must have weighed thirty pounds. I felt bad. I though we would be neighbors for a while. I’m sorry I couldn’t do better by him than a bag and a trash bin.
Still pulsing blue light outside.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

April 8, 2015

Woke sad yesterday; woke exultant today, without any inkling why the difference.
Subsequently, yesterday was one in which every mechanical or material thing when absurdly wrong. Jars could not be opened. Mixing bowls were broken in the sink. Piles of cat vomit appeared which were larger than the cat. Went stupid in the middle of a presentation on the Smart Board. Rain started the minute I walked outside, etc. Today is another day. Good class yesterday on Wilde.
Smokey’s Tavern is closing. It was the first bar I ever entered in Asheville, when it was deeply red-neck. My first local boyfriend and I entered on a dare. Long-ago patron when it was a boys’ bar. Sudden, slight nostalgia. Sold them some of their art. I wonder if I could buy it back?

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

April 7, 2015

Nick the dark-eyed mower man came yesterday. I didn’t see in the dark of the morning, but smelled the mown wild chives mingling with the hyacinths and the perfume of rain. I amuse him in some way I do  not fully comprehend.
Maud vomiting on the Turkish rugs when I came through the door after the work-out.  Some small thing one finds, nevertheless, almost unendurable.
Long talk with Will, who thinks he might be back in the buying vein again. Everyone knows better gossip than I do.

Monday, April 6, 2015

April 6, 2015

Holy Saturday morning I rose, covered the delicate plants against a freeze (Did it come? Probably not) and drove to Atlanta. Linda and I went to Easter service at North Point (our Saturday afternoon service was one of eight or ten they have in order to accommodate the shocking thousands of people who want to attend). I found it moving, and could see why thousands and thousands come, though I could not put my finger on exactly the attractive element. At All Souls the Mystery is shrouded behind ceremony and tradition, which gives it majesty, yes, but not the immediacy of North Point, which tells the story as though it had happened yesterday and no one but us had ever heard it. It’s child-like, but in a sweet and exuberant way. I looked for things to object to, but everywhere was openness and exuberance, and I became open and exuberant under the influence. I think the effect rather depends on novelty, even a little shock, but for the moment it was what I needed.
David and Daniel had had a weekend first of charity exhibition boxing and then of with fraternity antics in the wilderness, which left them both a little spent, but also glittering with healthy and heedless young manhood. I cannot even imagine what their lives are like. They are the boys whose lives I could not imagine in college, handsome and athletic, the center of intrigues they didn’t even know of. Nothing is past them. Every path can be considered. No one shrugs off their friendship. They are whom I think of when I hear the phrase, “Lord, shield the joyful,” for certainly a good deal of privilege goes into their lives, but my response is “so what?” They did not ask for it, nor do they rob anyone else in having it.  It’s also puzzling where their god-likeness came from. There’s not any precedent in my family, nor from their father, who was and is a nebbish. A Visitation, I suppose. Most particularly they have each other. I have never seen two young me so comfortable with one another. David is naturally and Daniel is studiously kind. We watched their boxing matches on the Internet.
The redbuds were in titanic flower over the mountain toward South Carolina, and slashes of pure yellow lit the forest where jessamine climbed a tree. We watched the red moon rise over their deck Saturday night.

April 5, 2015

Come, Beloved. Beloved, come.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

April 4, 2015

Holy Saturday.

Yesterday it was a reading of poetry for the “Queer Conference.” I was the only one actually to mention sex. I thought that’s what it was meant to be all about, for once. One is an egret among sparrows. One set out merely to be a superior sparrow.

Atlanta. Chill coming and I won’t be here to protect my plants.

Friday, April 3, 2015

April 3, 2015

Spent the afternoon with S. He is quite beautiful when his beard is shaved and his hair cut short, though it is not my place to say so.

Did my work-out, sat in the gym café and wrote a poem. I foresee a number of gymnasium poems.

Pink and powder blue dawn.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

April 1, 2015

Early afternoon, and already I have had the prince of days.  Rose very early and was at the gym when it opened. Did my weights and my feeble pool laps; poured out stress into the steam room. Then I sat in the gym lounge and wrote two poems, and the sun was not yet up when I had finished. Remembered how much I like institutional coffee whitened with that powdered creamer than could be made of anything. Then to the studio, where I worked hard and well and was thoughtlessly happy. Then, when it was warm, home to heroic gardening. Set the angel’s trumpet and Christina’s milkweed into the soil. Dug new space, fertilized the roses; watered everything. If I can stay awake, the afternoon is devoted to writing. 
Looked 205 Harvard Place up on a real estate site. It looks very much different from when we lived there, except the bathroom, which seems the same, and the magnificent banister that was made, apparently, for a far more elegant house. What horrible memories! Found Richard–the main cause of the horribleness of the memories– in an interview for a Syracuse paper, in which his Narcissism is as monstrous and as unconscious as ever. He tried to Facebook friend me once, and I wondered if it were contempt for me or the most exquisite lack of self-knowledge that would permit him to do such a thing.

Typos are proof that God doesn’t love me.

A pileated woodpecker crossed and recrossed the sky above my yard as I worked.