Monday, May 30, 2016

May 30, 2016

Wicked raccoons despoiled the tool shed last night. I heard them, but couldn’t gather myself to interfere. Things were strewn about. I thought it was just mischief until I tried to feed the fish, and discovered that the fish food was gone, and the turtle food, in whole bags and plastic containers. I don’t even know where the varmints took their spoils. Planted a large lime hydrangea, which might be my last big planting of the season. Maintenance from now on.
Missed Hugo’s party last night because I thought phlebitis was joining in with the rest of the lot. Maybe it was, but I beat it away. Still capable of heroic naps, but the sick edge is off the exhaustion, and I can breathe better. Perfect Memorial Day, peaceful, immense sagas in the clouds. Writing hard on the Asheville book.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

May 29, 2016

Turbulent days, and less turbulent days. M did his best in my faculty record to spin in my favor my student’s irritation with me. I’m fighting the fight to make them courageous, to make them take control of their own education, to make them hear the material over the din of grade anxiety, but on all fronts I’m losing, or at least getting bad reviews. Rough bump. Like giving someone climbing lessons and expensive mountaineering gear and then hearing they bitched because I had not set them effortlessly atop the mountain. On the other hand, yesterday was the first day when I could feel improvement in my anemia. Though I wouldn’t use the word “strong,” I was much less weak. I did what on any day would be called heroic gardening, and never had to stop to rest or sleep, could breathe the whole time, did not have to crash into bed immediately afterward. Planted gingko and Japanese maple and mallow and hydrangea, dug up most of Stewart’s soulless backyard hostas.
One voice in the head says, “Your life has come to nothing,” while another, or perhaps the same one in a different mode half a minute later, makes plans and surges forward. We are not only a multitude, we do not communicate among ourselves. 

Friday, May 27, 2016

May 26, 2016

Rose at 4:30, when the world was wondrous still. Even the frogs–two of them now– were silent in the pond. Most amazing, actually, as if a blanket had been lowered on the world. Drove three hours to Charlotte Douglas for an interview for the Global Entry Program, which lasted four minutes and began with, “I have already approved you–.“ I tried to anticipate the things that would disqualify me in the eyes of the TSA– turns out there were none. My hatred of them is apparently not mutual. All was well. I got a coffee drunk and some writing done even in the vast ticket lobby. Moreover, I was filled with the desire to travel, and soon. I decided to make the day a test of whether I can or not, checking stamina and all that. The airport gave off a happy and non-panicked vibration, despite recent stories to the contrary. The woman before me in the interview line was blond and voluble and has a house in Chimney Rock. The interviewer looked alike a movie star. Returning, I pulled over in Morganton, having chosen randomly among potential visitation sites. I’d been in Morganton once in the dark of night to sing with the Choral Society 33 years ago, but never since. I strolled around in the sun that was, finally, hot, visited the Jail House art gallery (expecting worse) and roamed the few streets, having a salad here, a glass of wine there, realizing I was in full explorer mode, going about the streets of Morganton exactly as I would about the streets of Rome, except for not being loomed over in my cafĂ© chair by thousand year old Santa Somebody. It was happy and good, except I was worn out and sagged into bed when I got home, and did not fully recover for the rest of the evening. What to do about this? The consult people have not called.

At the choir get-together, MM defined for me my problem with Edward Albee. M said, “Albee transports Absurdist situations into realistic environments.” That’s exactly right, and it is a breach of decorum I cannot find it in myself to forgive. It violates both parents in a bastard child who can be, at his absolute best, merely a magniloquent smart aleck.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

May 25, 2016

When the furnace guy showed me how to use the upstairs gas heater, he left it on, so the study was a blast furnace when I walked into it today. Always to the left or the right, never dead center.

Videos of the Cantaria concert. Despite actual numbers, the sound is top heavy. Maybe it has to do with the placing of the mics. My shirt collar sat awkwardly outside my coat; my shoulders were too sore for me to reach up and change it, and nobody helped me.

Baked regular cookies this AM for the choir party tonight. Took cookies, of both kinds, to Stephen, who had given me the magic butter. Made a few strokes on a painting and clambered down the stairs, exhausted. This isn’t getting better, or isn’t getting better fast.

May 24, 2016

Baked the magic cookies. I didn’t actually eat one, relying on the finger-licking and bowl-licking that goes on naturally a such a time to get me across the rainbow bridge. The experience is much less weighty than it was in Amsterdam, a caress rather than a right cross. Ostentatious and unnecessary moving of shoulders. . . .

Monday, May 23, 2016

May 23, 2016

 Sweet cool spring day, a blue agate.
Cantaria concert triumphant, according to everybody. It did have a swift and smooth feel while it was happening around me. Party afterwards which I survived just fine. Talked with folks with whom, I think, I had never had a conversation. Now the task is to get “Lydia, the Tattooed Lady” out of my head.
Rose and attended a workshop on Mindfulness in the Classroom at the strikingly beautiful Sherrill Center, which was useful, if not what I was expecting. Here is the take-away: some men talk too much; women in general talk too much. I bet they blame us. I bet they say, “We have to say twenty things to make sure one or two get through.” I’m not sure that’s untrue, but it does not seem the most efficient approach to the problem, for a man might say in return, “I don’t listen because you say twenty things for every two that are really important.” Nevertheless, I come away with ideas for my classroom this fall. Another take-away: nothing leads to distraction quicker than the discussion of Mindfulness. Met an ebullient Turk. Did a little gardening, after which I had to sleep a two hour sleep-of-the-dead. The medication is not working, or is going very slow. Napped in the backyard, in a white lawn chair, with the wind chime whispering gently at my back. Each time I opened my eyes, a pair of cowbirds gleaned a different portion of the grass.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

May 22, 2016

Winter/spring continues. I shuffle to the thermostat to turn the furnace on. Managed to man my studio for three or four hours of the studio stroll yesterday. I thought my effort might be rewarded with a sale or at least an intelligent comment, but when I tottered down the winding cement steps at the end, neither of those things had happened. Sweet Stephen gave me marijuana butter to bake into cookies, which I will do, probably Tuesday, when the things for which I must be alert are, for a while, at an end. I have already mentioned the irony– or maybe it’s not ironic if it’s to be expected–that the medications I take to relieve the pain in my joints are probably what caused the bleeding that caused the anemia. Though nobody knows anything for sure. On that front, I seem to be getting stronger, but by no means at a lightning pace. The hours at the studio were a good sign, though I slept heroically afterward. Still reminded that the blood cannot carry its normal load of oxygen. Next goal: get through the Cantaria concert. Meeting at school tomorrow is early, and I’m usually good early. Stabbed with agonizing leg cramps at random times for no reason at all, I look at the gray sky and murmur, “I really hate you.” Where is the record of the saint praying, “Lord, allow me to love you”?
I think I may be writing a play about a tiger.

Friday, May 20, 2016

May 20, 2016

Walking up the stairs and keeping my breath made me think that the iron was kicking in a little, though now I am so sleepy I could lay my head down on the keyboard and be gone. Very odd night. In a dream I went to a restaurant, and though I forget what I ordered, I was served a little dog sitting up in a pan. It was scorched and obviously in pain, and they said, “He’s not quite done, but you can start in anyhow.” I fled the restaurant, but all night the dreams were of wounded and cooked dogs, of servers running after one with the horrible things in their hands. DJ and I had eaten at Avenue M after the concert, but neither of us had had dog.
The concert was six or seven times better than we anticipated. Tiny, appreciative audience. Ruth commented on my smiling happy face, and I didn’t want to disillusion her by saying it was a rictus: by the end of the concert my back hurt, my feet hurt, I’d had the remarkable experience of cramps in my throat and the back of my neck, and I was staggering with exhaustion. But, I think I made it through, and never dropped the bass line. Despite all that it will linger in my mind as a good experience.
Showed Tom the pond. We couldn’t find the frog that had been singing the night before. I suppose that’s how he likes it.
Much thinking and research about 9/11.  Maybe it’s my next big play. That it was an inside job, that it was not as reported to the American people, is a conclusion made inevitable by any degree of research. That we will enter the middle of the century with the conviction that Dick Cheney is the worst person in American history seems plausible to me. Somebody was a traitor, anyway. Maybe a whole lot of somebodies.
Who knows why the mid and the curiosity go where they go?
Are the worst people the ones who cover their tracks? Or the ones so arrogant their attempts to cover their tracks are contemptuous and half-assed?
Memories of watching Daniel Boone on Sunday mornings with George.

May 19, 2016

Sleep most of the day. Last night, my first frog trilled from the pond-- a leopard, I think. I was very happy. Began Tiger sitting over coffee in the High Five.

May 18, 2016

Lovely fund-raiser at NC Stage, elegant, and eloquent on the subject of the place of theater in contemporary human life. One wishes one had more money to give away. Charlie says the lending of my studio space was a “godsend.” One wishes more often to be a godsend. Sat at dinner with two lovely old Episcopal ladies. Could barely walk to my car afterward, the iron pills having not kicked in.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

May 17, 2016

Defiantly went to Jesse Israel and bought huge tubs of lotus, set up water gardens in the back (don’t think the actual pond has enough sunlight), staggering about with my hands on my knees, but getting the job done. I realized I couldn’t carry the tubs more than a few feet, so I drove out onto the back lawn to get them proximate to the garden. Doctor afterward, who prescribed iron pills and a few other things, a medicine I could have been taking myself if I had but thought of it, and I might have thought of it, for I remember having this same problem (less acutely) when I was at Syracuse. I remember the floaty dim way I went around for a while, and the regimen of black pills that must have gotten me out of it. Hicks wants me to have a procedure to look for what’s bleeding inside. I go through with these things even when I know they will be unprofitable, so that I will be, at least, not to blame. When I woke I expected everything to be well, but it isn’t, after a single pill. It may be a little worse. Had to nap after a trip to the gym. Had to nap after a trip to see a loft that I wasn’t going to rent. What I regret is going through the end of the semester and all of The Winter’s Tale sleep-walking.

Beyonce’s new project Lemonade discussed on the radio as if it were Paradise Lost. I like her and wish her well, but the issue– for an academic or a person who has given his life to the arts– is that whatever revelations she has achieved are elementary and partial and jejune compared to the work of every poet and thinker turning over words in their lofts and dorm rooms, to the work of my students handed in hastily and smeared at the end of any given semester. It’s like someone turning away from Barishnikov to watch their little neighbor toe-dance. I don’t know what to do about this beyond shrugging my shoulders. I could line up one hundred black female poets and have them shout in chorus, “But we told you this twenty years ago!” Our weakest insight trumps her best. If we looked like that, would we rule the world?
Saw the production line up for next year at the Magnetic. I’m not on it. Again, what to do but shrug?

Monday, May 16, 2016

May 16, 2016

Finished the plantings for now, a big common lilac, having to lean against my shovel after every step. On that account, I heard from the nurse about my tests, and the issue is–one should have guessed it– that my hemoglobin is fantastically low, and I am as anemic as hell. Back to the MD today to see what plan she has to take care of this. The nurse says only internal bleeding can explain numbers such as mine, buy how I could have overlooked such a thing I don’t know. Yesterday I did collect the energy to gather up my little buddy Mercury and take him to the estuary flowing into Beaver Lake, having decided that the life he seemed to want, in the pump filter, was just not going to do. So much for the turtle experiment. I miss him, the tiny, determined little feet digging into my palm as if it were the bottom of a pond. I set him at the water’s edge. He sat in the sun for a moment, then scrambled in and was instantly lost.
Grueling Cantaria rehearsal– grueling mostly because of my sick-making weakness, and only partially because we are not ready for our concert. Good supper afterwards at Marco’s with colleagues.
I can think of the first time I was aware this weakness- trying to climb the steps in the Rikjs Museum. I think of tottering home after my last class all semester and needing to lie down for a nap. All explained. 

May 15, 2016

Pentecost. I coud use a tongue of flame, not the least because it is a    freezing morning–not literally, but in the sense that I had to close the windows and listen to the furnace snap on. Hard to type upstairs for the shuddering.
Spent at least an hour online with Keith (I think it was) from Lewiston, Maine, who was helping me reinstall Carbonite on this calamitous computer.
Discovered that Mercury had taken refuge in the filter/pump area. I removed him, put him back in the pond. Five minutes later he was back in the pump pool. Did this three times, until I realized he had not been sucked in against his will, but desired to be there, I suppose because it is enclosed and he feels safe. Decided to let it be. At least I’ll know where to find him. As far as I can tell, Minos has permanently defected. I hope he found the greater water.
Bad night, spiritually turbulent and in real physical distress. Rose, however, well.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

May 14, 2016

Yellowish morning, jacket-cool. The premier production of the musical Brave New World at NC Stage last night. Every element of production, every production value, every gesture of every actor, every directorial choice was right on, professional, gleaming. But the script---

Bought big at the nursery, got an Atlas fir into the ground before my stamina gave out. A lilac, a spirea, and a rose remain in their containers. Bought a fourth golden koi to school with Egypt, Sumer, and Akkad. His name is Cyrus the Golden.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

May 13, 2016

Off to the doctor, where I discover that my blood pressure is well enough and my EKG “looks good” and there is no explanation yet for my comprehensive exhaustion. So, blood test, and returning on Monday. Whole morning lost on that.
The Death of A Salesman at Magnetic Theater Thursday night. One of the things devoutly to be desired from a production of a “classic” is such limpidity that the intended and original excellence of the work shines through unmannered and undiminished. This is the rare gift I got from this production, altogether majestic and enlightening. There were, perhaps, ten people in the audience.
Nick ripped out the back fence and Joe ground the walnut stumps into powder as I slept my baffling afternoon sleep in the bedroom. I didn’t hear a thing. A carton of trees had come, and though I faced exhaustion, I vowed to get them into the ground so they wouldn’t die. Two mock orange and three sassafras found their forever homes in the 6 to eight feet width I added to the garden by taking out the fence. Part of the action was like sleepwalking, but it got done, and well done.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

May 12, 2016

Mercury the red slider arrived in his tiny box yesterday. Everything about him was tiny. He could hide under a 50 cent piece. I held him in my hand and he tried to dig with his little feet, tried to push my fingers apart with his tiny head. Trying to get down, down. I took him to the pond, and a second after I’d set him on a rock, he dived for the water. I could see him hiding beside a tub of waterlilies. He came to the surface, breathed a while, then reversed and headed for the abyss.
Showered, dressed for rehearsal last night, drove to church but didn’t go in. Curious.
A tadpole was clinging to a lily pad, maybe trying out his new lungs.
Finished Antigonus early this morning.
Did some hoeing. Lacking in ambition, deciding that’s all right for now.
Day of variegated perfection. 

May 11, 2016

War with bamboo which–having skipped last year– is opening aggressions by sending purplish spears up through the lawn, at some distance from the extant patch. I chop the speartips off with a spade and pour Round-up on the open wound, hoping to discourage it.

Will send me checks for 1200 a month, when the final agreement was something like 1231 a month, which was the only way the realtor could figure to pay it all off in the allotted time. I shrug and let it be.

Watched a pair of thrushes forage in my garden.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

May 10, 2016

Made the waters calm, and saw all five great fish, Kung and Lao Tse, Egypt, Sumer, and Akkad sporting in the deep and feeding at the surface. I cannot find Minos, and I think he is gone. If he had given some signal of dissatisfaction, I would have taken him to the lake. I feel like a father whose child has run away.
Handsome Joe came today and cut down the last of my black walnuts. The horizon to the north is altered, and I’m not sure I like it. Worked out at the gym, then gardened strenuously, giving as little quarter as possible to the exhaustion and dizziness that followed every action. Seeing the doctor on Friday. Maybe it’s a pill, maybe it’s a foreseeable future of surgery and disability. I don’t know. I don’t feel bad, just odd. Maybe it’s age, and I am the last to get used to it, having been always such an ox. I am afraid now of the solitude that at other times I am able to take with a touch of stoicism.
Progress on Antigonus. 

Monday, May 9, 2016

May 9, 2016

Days blend and meld, and I have not written here, and now I can’t distinguish one day from another.
The last matinee of The Winter’s Tale was my worst performance of the lot. Will try to locate the source of the distraction for future caution. Had I given up? Was my mind already elsewhere? If so, it wasn’t fair to my teammates, for whom I’d developed an unusual affection. The cadre of young boys at one side of the room talked a language sprung from their favorite stand-up comics, their favorite (usually sci-fi or fantasy) movies, and above all, adventure gaming. They carried on a game of Dungeons & Dragons which I found fascinating, mostly because of the upright way in which they all seemed to know and agree on rules that felt diffuse to me. It showed how men cooperate, how we become armies and bands of hunters instinctively. We say “yes” to what the other has proposed. It hurt me a little that when I was with them their eyes–all eyes–were glued to their phones and there was very little actual conversation. But this is a different world. When there was conversation, it was performance, which I could appreciate.
To All Souls for Cantaria rehearsal. For some reason I was seized there with a sensation of loss and forlornness. It was Mother’s Day, and I thought of my mother. The end of the day darkened. When you make mistakes or feel alone you comfort yourself by saying “Someday it will be all right. There will be somebody to comfort me, to laugh with me and make this tragedy into a little folly.” But the years lengthen and there is no such person, and you have not found a way to do it all yourself, to be your own foundation. You turn again and again, and the same room is empty.
Caught sight of my towhee, finally, whose sweet voice I had heard many times.

May 8, 2016

Do I trust this level of exhaustion to right itself, or do I go to la dottoressa, and go through five procedures for every one that is relevant?
Antigonus roars ahead, that swift and bumpy road I recognize as inspiration.

May 7, 2016

Panel discussion on Shakespeare and forgiveness. One forgets the hugeness of his genus; it is well to have one’s face rubbed in it from time to time. It is a thing still to be discovered, and re-discovered. It is the road of humility. Roamed Waynesville in the extra time. Bought a book I remember from my childhood; bought a stone toad.

Friday, May 6, 2016

May 6, 2016

On the porch was a box with a bag in it, and in the bag was West Virginia tree frog tadpoles.
Last night’s performance was not stellar. But I got some laughs. Had taken a gout pill the night before and was still submerged.
Stupefaction throughout most of the day, and when not stupefied, working hard on Autolycus. Days disappear in the writing, and these alone I do not regret.
May 5, 2016

Sudden fury of rain. The house is cold, which one resents more because it was warm for a while. On the porch was a box with a bag in it, and the bag was full of California leopard frog tadpoles.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

May 4, 2016

The bitter anniversary.
In a first-of-summer mode that suits me well. Rise early, write, nap, write, go into the garden and do the work that needs to be done there. When I hesitate about retirement, I should remember this. Work on Antigonus flies ahead.
Facebook discussion on what students do to irritate professors. The central problem is that students come from high schools (now– we were amply warned) with the wrong idea of what a professor is. He is not a “teacher” in the sense they’re used to. A professor professes, delivers information and understanding, which you either receive or you do not. The worst question you can ask a professor is “what can I do to improve my grade?” because there is only one answer, and that’s not what the questioner wants to hear. “Do better.” Study harder. Stop surfing the net in class. Read the material. It NEVER has to do with the professor’s teaching style or the student’s “learning style.” The material is there. You pick it up and make it yours, or you do not. Anxiety over retention has put administrators on the side of students in this, implying that professors are somehow responsible for student failure. But administrators are always wrong about everything. It is one of the constants by which we navigate our lives. I want my students to understand that I care about them absolutely, and want them to have the wisdom and the skills they need for abundant life. But also, that I don’t care one bit about their grade. That has nothing to do with me. It’s amazing that they should want it to.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

May 3, 2016

Working on the play in the High 5. Lone bearded men, and women in clumps, summoning things up on their laptops. I think most of the people there at that hour are social workers having meetings. Nothing is odder than the matriarchy. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

May 2, 2016

Waking, slender curve of moon low in the east.
Pulled the plug on the fountain for a while. The builders want me to keep it on “24x7,” but I feel it cannot build up a proper pond biota if the water is always moving. Sat and watched it, then, and in the great calm I did see my denizens at last, Egypt and Sumer and Akkad leaping to the air with their gold scales flashing, the reddish minnows nibbling at everything on the surface, a bit of petal being nibbled by one, abandoned, then being nibbled by another and abandoned, until all the fish in the pond are satisfied it’s nothing they want to eat. Saw the turtle Minos, too, his head like a black bubble pushed up for breath between a stone and a lily pad, in what must be called an excess of caution. Drove to Weaverville and bought dried red worms, seeing that everyone wanted to feed on the surface. The guy at the pet store said, “Red worms are what I would want if I were a fish.”
Began a play which speculates that Antigonus was not killed by the bear.

Monday, May 2, 2016

May 1, 2016

May Day. Gentle rain through the night. Blue iris in bloom.
Bought tadpoles from Ebay, which I’d never previously imagined to do.
Matinee was the best performance yet, for me. I’ll consider it opening night.
Grueling Cantaria rehearsal after the matinee and the long drive. I could have ditched. I could have been irresponsible. J beside me singing his confidant one note, the same note whatever the score says.