Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The dream is of being on a plane taking off.  The airport is in a city.  The plane heads into a bronze tunnel weathered into brass color, and this is the runway, and it is beneath the city, with enough lateral space for the plane to pick up speed, and theoretically, at least, an opening at the end where the runway ends and where everything is perfectly planned.  Everyone sits in silence on the plane, and then the whoosh of rushing engines, and the forward motion, inevitable.  The plane now is heading down the runway, picking up speed, beginning its joust with the smaller winds before it lifts into the air.  There are flashes of buildings above, something like you see from the tunnel into Penn Station.  There are shining glass skyscrapers, daylight above.

As the plane goes down the runway it takes faith to believe the plane will rise, but it's all professional and apparently has been done before, so into the gleaming corridor and the engines gun and the plane fits with its wings out into the wind, then the last rising of the engines and the jet sways up into the air.  Where the plane is going is not clear, but up into the air and the light safely.  But it always seems, just barely.  Though people do it all the time.

The plane must climb steeply after take off.  In the dream there is fear, but usually, remarkably, a surprise from doom's edge,  the plane rises from the city successfully, if alarmingly, into the open sky, lifting its passengers

I grimace as I write, drink tea, make breakfast of merquez sausage, the heat coming from the broiler filling the space in front of the oven.  A clutter of shoes in the living room.  Two shifts I've worked, and the therapist session in which embarrassingly I don't seem to know my goals, nor maybe my own values? I don't know.  I take the bike off the stand in the living room and roll it to the hallway, to open up from the clutter.  The grimace is from a stupid guilty feeling, one's a bad student, a bad subject for therapy (well, define bad), a bad adult male, kitchen clutter, laundry pile, mail and note pile on the desk, book piles, stringed musical instruments, an amplifier, a Shure microphone on a stand.

Oh well, c'est la vie, and at least you are up early with time to do a few loads of laundry and assessment.  Think of a Sherwood Anderson's old bartender who, as the stories of Winesburg, sees the psychological side of people, the shaking hands, the defeated dreams and wishes, the brave faces, humidity on the back as you sit and eat breakfast too quickly, hungrily, not having done yoga yet.

Well, you can't be a bad person if you admit to therapy, as if to say, "fuck, I don't know..."  How long have my relationships lasted?  What did I want from or offer them?  Did I have the expectation that people eventually go away?

And is the earlier part of my dream, the suggestion of being around a judgmental family around the holidays, being a re-utterance, a recapitulation, "why can't you be nice to me," or, "why can't you say something nice about me and not all negative..."  Jesus, where did that come from?

L-Tyrosine.  Allergy pill.  Holy Basil.  Astragalus, three.  B-Complex.  Ginseng.  What was that yoga magazine in the waiting room?  Head-stand like looking at things new, like a child would; which chakra a mountain pose lights up:  should one wear underwear beneath yoga pants?  Gone with the Wind last night as I rode, unwinding.

Tending bar requires a fair amount, spatial skill, dexterity, a malleable personality, an ability to read people's needs, the conversational element, the philosophical element.  A wise customer compares one to a sculptor or a painter or a musician, that such often work well into their nineties doing what they do.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

I get in a from a low energy bike ride, the hills beneath the Finnish Embassy, between that ridge and the one that rises from the Omni Shoreham, and I get a call.  Meet us out, downtown at Izakaya.  And sure enough I wake up on the couch, put myself to bed, sleep it off, wake up finally feeling stupid.  You pledge yourself to a quiet friday night, but, and it was good to get out, celebrate a birthday, have a few bites at a surprising new place of urban cool with a touch of old Japan.  Glasses of wine here, glasses of wine there, a burger around two at McDonald's, and the night ends fuzzily, and today I was still fairly intoxicated and have not much choice but to sleep in past one in the afternoon on a beautiful day, feeling some shame, what's my problem, haven't I got on off switch, if I had a girlfriend I wouldn't be so fucked up.  Well, it's Saturday, I don't have to tend bar, there's enough light left for a bike ride, hey, could be worse.  Would not want to go face a shift, which would be to rub my nose in my problem, "you don't have a girlfriend, you don't have a girlfriend, you bloody never will,' as if I were more a member of childhood than humanity.  And there are enough things, fine, I need to do anyway before the next week starts up, enough things I told myself I'd get around to but haven't.  If you were to go out you'd only end up talking to homeless people and the ineligible, and what with that sad look on your face and your apartness...

A girlfriend, yes, that would be nice, a spiritual necessity I've denied myself for unknown reasons, as if I felt unworthy and indeed I am the way things seem now, financially at the very least.  I could use a starter kit, or one of those books, dating in Washington, DC, without really having your shit together, For Dummies.  Meeting up at an early hour, other people's normal hour, is never good for me.  I've left housework undone, would prefer to get groceries, cook, keep it simple, only the necessary sins at home on my own terms.  I remember the gal I said hi to as I locked my bike up.  She was tall, and she looked good in her jeans.

But you can not say no sometimes, and it's good to discover the big city, and find that you can bike down all the way to Gallery Place, lock your bike up, hang out with your best friends, get caught up, find your bike is still there when you get out.  Then it's simply the unnecessary stops on the way home, further glasses of wine without enough food to absorb, tasting so good at the time, the inevitable losing track of how many over time.

The phone pings, the laptop pings and already I'm so far behind.  The Koch Brothers are such with this horror of Citizens United business that the Democrats are after me, and I don't blame them, not one bit, though it's blown up my email.  And I'm very happy work isn't calling, and today is my form of Sunday the day of rest so today I pledge to myself, take a day of peace and taking care of yourself and don't get talked into going out because inevitably it'll be back into the wine again.  Reminded of that strange subtle sense of being picked upon that goes hand in hand with tending bar, I seek refuge in yoga, with the real need for spirituality, with a real need of finding calm in nature.  And because I don't have any real plan but to continue on with what I'm doing, as much as I'd wish to leave the world of bars entirely, but have no skills for other jobs, or greatly lack confidence, as competent as I am, I think it best I stay in tonight, or, if anything, go write quietly on some park bench after securing groceries for the week.

As I write, having written, writing in my head as I go through yoga poses, indeed, I feel better.  I feel less marked by the magnificent cruelty the female of the species is capable of at a guy's mistakes.  And to observe that his impulses included the wish to defend his father in a general way from a similar thing, the visitation of feminine cruelty, all of which we cannot blame them for in the slightest, is a helpful psychological observation.  That was why I acted with such harsh moral nobility in response to what I took to be similar to what I'd seen as a kid, a moral stance I had no right to, one that was inappropriate, but understandable, unfortunately not the slightest bit political or politic or smart as a way to achieve a basic heartfelt goal.  As if to say, you shouldn't be so mean, and now I'm not going to talk to you...  what good does that do for the male part of the equation--none at all.

Maybe the same sad noble moral stance continues who knows, why I chose not to answer the treasonous clerics by writing papers for them, why I chose to become the great democrat holding that every day of life was an education in the human world.  Which might be good in some way, but perhaps not because it constitutes the same kind of inappropriate reaction, the ideals of youth, which do not carry weight as far as the business of the world.  You can be noble all you want, but it's not going to pay the bills.  It may allow you to extract some modest sense of meaning out of life, a good thing, and hopefully too that meaning isn't overly childish and out of place, a thing of some lonesomeness and aloofness and drunken nights frittered away on your own, not engaging with people.


I call my mom after taking my clothes off and putting on cycling gear.  I explain feeling like shit a little bit, and she has a good story about the nature preserve, a talk she went today up in New York State.  About my going out, "good for you, and you can't have it both ways."  This is true.  It's been a decent weekend for me, topped with a decent ride in the park.  Rediscovering Just Look Them Straight in the Eye...  The Pogues box set, on a stereo my brother handed down to me, which has some thump in it.  And it's true, you can't have it both ways, even if you might occasionally wish for rehab.

I get out for a walk with my grocery bags, needing to get supplies for the week, meat and vegetables mainly.  I pull up at the coffee shop patio, my notebook in a Whole Foods bag.  I see there is an art gallery opening of some sort, people lined up on the sidewalk before the steps of different galleries.  I see a tall gal in high boots come up the street and she climbs the steps and enters.  Things make a bit more sense, once again, as they do when you get out of the house.  But suddenly I am confronted with my own lonesomeness, and I sense again my own shyness, my timidity, my psychology's memory of how harsh people can be, and first it's out of gloom that I retreat to the market but fuck I admit I could use a glass of wine, so I figure out their card machine pour system.  From Virginia or New York State wine is wine, fuck it.  But a grown man and you're too shy to walk into a gallery, or maybe it's some Catholic thing, that the world is too deep a spiritual problem for the fluff of an art gallery with wine and cheese.  The vision of the tall slender young woman, well-presented, returns.

And so, being a solitary artist I read my blog and new ideas come, and I see a link between Gary Cooper and Shane MacGowan, two honest men.  And I think of the Irish Wolfhounds we had when I was a kid, and how they'd dream, and their paws would move, and their eyes would flicker beneath their lids, and their hair would come to life again as they lay there on their sides sleeping by the fire, and they'd woof lightly now and again.  It's natural.  And the same for my mom.  She was just being natural, the way our thoughts are dreams as we are awake, and so is their beauty in the response.  That maybe is the better understood meaning of Buddha's statement that it's all a dream, perhaps misquoted.  The things that pass through our heads are dream.  So that she'd get upset, it was and is beautiful, and a thing of being alive.

I get my groceries home, get the guitar out, plug in the mike, and play some songs for my own sake.  Later I go out, but Duke's where my friend works is closed, and I wander Dupont Circle at 2 in the morning and end up just going home.

Friday, September 26, 2014





Writing was a way of keeping calm, to spell things out for myself, so that I could understand them.  It was a way of buying time, to react without freezing up when something reminds you of the traumas of childhood, the feeling of helplessness, the urge to defend, the fight or flight response trigger.

I would be tired at the end of the week, after the show was over.  I'd rest.  I had to still a disproportionate sense of anxiety and stress.  I found a primary need for calm, the need to come down from the disproportionate adrenal reaction.  I turned to music, exercise, meditation, yoga, deep breathing.  With a tendency toward people pleasing, I found it easier to stay in, to not fit in with any happy hour crowd.  It was enough stress getting down to the wine shop and the grocery store.  I didn't feel up for dealing with many people, such was my job.  Maybe this was my attraction to Buddhism.  Knowing all this now with the help of therapy I sought the natural ways to keep the anxiety away, and this helped me not take the easy route of the wine bottle before it was time.

Everything held stress and anxiety for me, not that this wasn't a challenge I enjoyed facing.  A definite sense of humor came about.


In a dream I'm up in the old country of Central New York State, traveling through the far flung towns we'd not pass through often.  I'm on a bicycle, and having made it to somewhere, now I need to get back by a  certain time.  It's a long ride, and the weather is threatening.  An all around sort of family guy, part driver, part farmer, jack of all trades insists of giving me a ride part of the way, along with his family in a  van.  Their home is on the way.  It starts to pour.  We make and I take refuge inside as a dark storm comes up.  There are many tornados out where we can see, and their funnels gather electromagnetic lights, as if pulling stars down with them, and these points of light make an effect of looking like people running as the tornados swirl forward quickly across the landscape, so that there seem to be many people out there running quickly about but largely from left to right, odd, as if you were to see your father running.  The storm passes and I can politely get back on my bike, which was my purpose and intent, to get a nice ride in, exercise, a test of the legs, to go through unfamiliar landscapes.  The way I am going, following again the helpful man, is challenging, through a country club at one point with many steep hills.  We pass a town that looks like Europe the way it's laid out, cobble stones, curbs, trees, curves, hills.  Small eatery where one had an ice-cream come or a hamburger distantly remembered.

I needed the calm of the bicycle and the long ride, and the weather did not bother me.


Did Kerouac find calm, real calm, in the jazzman's horn on a crazy Saturday night?  Did he find it in the cheap jug port wine?  He wrote about Buddhism often enough, seeing a need for real organic calm....

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

"And the hare upon the wire has been burnt upon your pyre, like the black dog who once raced from out track two..."  I've always had a soft spot for MacGowan.

MacGowan's family moved to London when he was in school.  They moved to a tall tower and MacGowan's mom couldn't handle the city life and had a nervous breakdown.  And then he had one, and like his mom this involved hospitalization and medication.  Later on, the choice for him was clear, be a madman or a punk rocker.  And he channeled his literary gift and his energies and his talents into being Shane MacGowan and writing all those great songs.  Finding calm in music.


Amygdala hijack, you aren't playing with a full deck.  My attempt at art was to write a book about a story I knew, about a young guy who's seen some trauma at home, something like the mild nervous breakdown of a family member, and when he meets this young gal he really likes, after the pleasing initial encounters, in the next phase of the mating ritual that reestablishes the tension which must be smoothed over, in which she behaves with dismissive and mild cruelty, he has the tendency to freeze up.  This phase of the relationship during which he is supposed to win her over a second time goes on longer and longer.  She provokes in him the fight or flight or play dead response.  And perhaps she reminds him of the situation in his childhood, which he unintentionally tries to duplicate, trying in essence to please a craziness he recognizes, to defend something silently.

He is overly sensitive, too shy, misses a few cues.  There is stress, the awkward unsettledness between the two, and naturally she takes it out on him, and naturally this causes him further stress.  And somewhere between altruism and trying to do the right thing and be a gentleman and all that sort of stuff, between that and the triggered reaction that comes from his psychological history he freezes.  He freezes in those moments where he has the opportunity to speak with her meaningfully in those times she is open to him, times that he has earned through his endurance and dignity in the face of rejection.  His attempts to set things straight aren't coordinated with her sense of proper timing.   He has a hard time understanding the situation, and things never get resolved, and this where he must set off to live his adult life, having, as it were, choked, played dead, froze, the whole thing his fault entirely, the suitor who could not respond out of some psychological quirk, the slow country boy unfamiliar with the fast pace of the city and its necessary selfishness.  And that's how it goes, that's how life is.   Fuck you, sorry, you're fucked, what can you do.

And then,  perhaps the next book, a good twenty five years later he realize some of what was going on, how he weren't exactly firing on all cylinders, how he was stressed, how it affected him.  He can understand a bit about why coping with the opposite sex can trigger a stress response.

Well, you go on in life.  Things you can't do anything about you get Buddhist about.  You do yoga, you ride your bike, you meditate, you go tend bar to pass the time.  You don't let it get you down too much, and you find things to do with you life, and hopefully you put odd useless talents to some use.



Like in High Noon there is an altruism to the anxiety.  Gary Cooper works because he's stressed, because he's nervous, because you can sense his guts churn, and maybe the same things cause him to do the dirty work of being good in the first place.  He's defending something.  He knows something the other people, who basically end up leading their own selfish lives, do not know as well.  He's a decent person, a good man, who is able to feel anxiety, and only through feeling that anxiety can he know what he has to do.  It's as if he's the only one, in the whole town, who hears the song, the good music, the lyric being the thoughts going through his head, "do not forsake me, oh my darling..."  No one else.  And finally, at the climax, Grace Kelly comes running back from the train, putting her obstinate Quaker thoughts aside, hears the song too, bang.




His co-workers Central American, struck him, as he moved about in the anxious multi-tasking mode of tending bar, to be as Indians, calmly silently moving through a forest, as if in a dream, adeptly carrying things, perfectly adapted to their work without a trouble in the world, but that they would be getting tired toward the end of the night and wanted to go home without any delay, not the slightest need to sit for a moment in the locker room and talk a bit, their personalities needing nothing stronger than water.  Nothing was for them the slightest bit complicated, though they never missed noticing the complicated and the complicating people and affairs, engaging only in noticing, often commenting, the drunk person, the crazies, making a simple comment that for their eyes said it all, such as "she is a beeeetch (sic)," "she is crazy," or gleefully note the arrival of the person who would make the end of my night long, drawn out, complicated and perhaps even drunken.  Having made such observations their expressions would return to oblivion, resting in the bar's mouth standing with elbows down, directly in the way, as if to say "he will deal with it," turning to the making of other observations of people's behavior, ears turned back toward the Spanish soap opera watched between shifts.

But when it was busy, a chaos would build.  Much huff would be made about seating people, without as much efficiency in the initial service encounter, and so the needs of the tables would build, not having been speedily taken care of, boom boom boom, and what would eventually follow was now a random effort to get drinks, wine, orders, dinner, attended upon by a fair amount of shouting, unnecessary rushing.  The spastic reaction interfered with the steady triage, the order in which people arrived, the order of things they needed, steady, polite, rapid when need be, no messing around.  So it would happen nightly, the lazy seating mode, marked by a  certain hostility and indifference, then the busy chaos mode when it was realized that things needed to get done, and then finally the closing down mode in which any late-coming customer would be disregarded and passed on to the bartender, even as they stood in his way cleaning glassware in the bar's opening, as that would enable them to get home that much sooner.  Shut down mode, during which the simplest needs of customers, like the empty water glass tipped up to the lips,  became invisible.



He thought of the bravery it must have taken Jack to get up out of bed, for him to walk up all those steps in those tenements in Watertown, each one, one at a time lifting the back leg up, the back pain, out on the campaign trail, and never asking for any help, no I'm just fine.

Monday, September 22, 2014

I had my stories to tell of the week, telling my therapist that things were going okay.  I'd faced the paperwork and the bureaucratic affair of getting my manager's license renewed.  I could almost envision a comedy show sketch, The Seven Samurai, have to go do a similar piece of business;  the class, the test, the paper work forms, the finding of a notary public before going to the big DC government office building to the ABRA office up on the fourth floor.   Swords, horses, bow and arrow, a plan drawn up in classic samurai fashion along with preparing a tally of bandit soldiers they must eliminate,  how they must allow the enemy in through their outer defenses, into the little village itself, but in small numbers...  But first, through security and the metal detector.  Leaving that office, much relieved, I unlocked my bicycle there at the corner of 14th and U Street on a Friday afternoon, sirens, construction, traffic, street people, and I said to myself, "get me the hell out of here."  And as I rode south I could not help thinkingt of The Pogues song "White City."  Tipperary farm country boy Shane MacGowan finding words as a way of dealing with the city.  "Oh sweet city of my dreams, of speed and skill and schemes, like Atlantis you just disappeared from view..."  He's writing, singing about a dog track "where now there's just a rubble and a hole," seeing his old recognizable town of pubs being torn down, his way of locating himself safely and recognizing a livable pattern in such a crazy place being threatened by "car parks going up."   He sang it on Saturday Night Live once on a St. Patrick's Day, and was generally taken to be a madman, and true, this is late in the first incarnation of the band.

So we talk about things, about amygdala hijack, about my own ways here in the town, about maybe I might think of moving away, like to some college town like the ones I'm from, maybe Charlottesville.   "Have you ever been to Charlottesville?"  "Why, no, I haven't, always wanted to, don't have a car..."  And for this and other topics of conversation we talk about anxiety, its role in controlling, or limiting the life you lead.  "I heard you talk about this trip you might take to New Orleans and how your response is one of anxiety."  "Well, yes, this is true."  (I'd demonstrated to her how my mind broke up such an impossible thing in all its many steps...)  And I think of the way I lead my life here, a routine.   Living here twenty five years and I've not been to Charlottesville, only twice to the shore.  We talk about the old fight or flight response system, the sympathetic nervous system, and then the calming deep breathing parasympathetic nervous system that brings one down after the jacked up run from the saber toothed tiger.  Yes, I add, in Type Os this response of fight or flight is marked...  And I think privately of the times I was stressed out and in a way "played dead."  Yes, that explains some things.

The emotions come out a bit as I walk away from her office back up toward R Street, and it's almost like I can hear that eery music playing in that scene where the Sheriff, played by Gary Cooper, has been left completely alone to face the bad guys coming on the noon train;  the camera pans away and up as he stands there looking left and right suddenly aware of the coming threat and Dmitri Tmokin's beautiful theme itself retreats to the upper registers of the ethereal violin strings with that extra eery note thrown in on top.  The streets are empty, everyone in the town has gone into hiding safely indoors, or in the shooter friendly tavern that welcomes the business of Frank Miller and his wild gang.  Rising, the camera reveals the broad space of the town, the lone figure very much alone now, jumpy.  Then the drums start beating louder and louder as Gary Cooper walks toward us, sweating, his face showing his stomach's response to it all.  Then the train whistle blows.

"Do not forsake oh my darling..."  I'm hearing it, and I mumble it quietly to myself.  Almost filling up.  Deep breathing exercises, my good therapist person has suggested, asking me how often I meditate, and for once things are better by being made more tangible.  And this is why such a great story and great story telling gets into your gut and takes up residence, because at a gut level you know the issue, you know what's going on.  A great story makes something inside tangible, visible.  "The noon-day train will bring Frank Miller.  If I'm a man I must be brave, and I must face that deadly killer, or lie a coward, a craven coward, or lie a coward in my grave."  Nice to have when the world is broken up into so many little modern sometimes bureaucratic threats and things that make you naturally uneasy, like sirens and big trucks coming your way and roads you cannot safely walk on as they were not meant to be travelled by the human being except as a highway.  An anxious concern for getting enough of the proper food to get you through a shift.  A wish for quiet, for things to stop for a moment, to have time to think, or time to act.

Later on I've watched a PBS piece about the making of High Noon, which set in its history is a response to the black-listing in Hollywood of the McCarthy Era.  The guts it took to not name names when called upon.  That piece has its own iceberg depth, the real stuff of personal experience.

We have nothing to fear but fear itself, a great person said, knowing the issues intimately.  And perhaps some of us, by blood, by disposition, by our own animal nature, takes words viscerally and very seriously.  Robin Williams' myriad voices come to mind, each phrase, each tone, each character's statement being of a deep gut response, far beyond the scholarly literary critique and yet related to that critical examination of nuances.  I think of him in role in The Fisher King responding to the vision of the burning dark knight on horse pursuing him in horror, the great sometimes painful import of words.  To some of us words fairly shout out.  A response hard-wired, and this is something I began to observe about my own experience taking English classes in college, that I loved all this stuff of texts worth close readings and the close readings themselves, the processes of meeting them and understanding them on their own terms.  It could be visceral and demanding, exhausting as a young reader trying to grasp adult things.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

I had found my perch after a lot of rest, after writing the first necessary bit at home, finally having the bravery, as I did in the old days, to go down to Starbucks.  I even pulled out my notepad and began to scribble a few lines after reading what I'd written.  People walked by along the main avenue, pretty young women, couples, relaxed people off for a Saturday night.  And there in that place of anonymity, a relaxed state, I realized the reasoning behind such roosts, a necessary thing for a writer, letting him be social as he is willing to be.  People with new faces walk along, you study them quickly and discreetly, and the thoughts come along.  And the thought occurred to me, that there needn't be much shame, that in a way I had stood for what I believed in, and done the best I could at it, creating a space, a bar for a writer.   It is an effort, a subtle one, creating a literary atmosphere, and it has to be done discreetly too.  An openness to the possibility of literary habits, the main chunk of it.  An acceptance of the mental habits peculiar to writers.  A touch of Rick's Place out of the movie with Humphrey Bogart.

Pubs are literary, I bet, but few establishments here provide anything like that.  The only bar that has a distinct literary quality to it, named after Hemingway's stout fishing yacht, is literary in decoration, to some extent, and the literary presence ends there.  To a literary eye, a kind of hip uniformity before bright TV screens.  When I added up all I had contributed, creating an atmosphere where people were comfortable talking about the juice of life, maybe even occasionally mentioning a book they'd read or an interesting endeavor that had a poetic aspect, I had done as much as anyone in the town to have a literary salon without pretentious intentions.  Never a workshop, but a place people were safe to mull over ideas, though of course they veered off into the hardier social aspect, enduring hail fellows well met, but even with these you could get to talk about life, a lobbyist recalling the last time seeing Tommy Boggs at Cafe Milano, things confided in a barman away from the conversations.

All of these were good Saturday thoughts, and I remembered an old idea about doing an old barman in the way the writer of Winesburg, Ohio, Sherwood Anderson, had come up with that opening, of an old journalist and his friend an old carpenter, and what it was like to be old, creaky, and to have seen a lot.  Yes, you could do an old bartender in a similar fashion, as an introduction, and then let the rest come along in bits and pieces maybe, in an ideal world at least.

Maybe there was an element of a poor man's George Plimpton in my endeavors as a bartender, but that wasn't quite it, and I'd gotten stuck long ago.

And then I got a text from my oldest friends in town:  "dinner?"  I might have looked down at my notebook, taken in my surroundings a moment, my good quiet spot, the writer's social life, all he needs to do his work and then get up satisfied with having achieved some small progress.  Well, what can you do, you do need more of a social life than that, and there would be things to talk about.  And so I jumped at the chance, not thinking long at all.  My friend's, I'm overdue for a good chat with them.

Over dinner there is talk of therapy sessions.  My friend relates the years of therapy, her mother's borderline personality disorder, childhood trauma and amygdala hijack.  Is that why I freeze, I might wonder as I find myself making my way home after dropping in to a place of a chef I know, something I didn't need to do, another fifty bucks lighter.

I think of Hemingway, that moment in A Moveable Feast when he sees the Parisienne beauty a cafe table away waiting for someone, and how the weather is like the weather he is writing about in a place up in Michigan, and then looking up, after writing, to find the anonymous young woman gone now, but how he owns her as part of a greater experience.  It's poetic, with that almost overdone 19th Century touch, as if he were to speak in 'thee and thou's, and with that tone of his, but it does bring the reader something of the nuts and bolts of the writer's way of things, the natural order, as if from the care and maintenance instruction manual.

One knows he's never going to be able to hang out in Paris in the 1920's at The Dingo with the writers, the luminaries, the poets, the ghosts of Victor Hugo and Turgenev and De Maupassant.  In way the literary world has been blown into so many shards, pieces of creativity that no personal individual gravity will ever seem the same as those of the era we great heroic status to, Joyce, Eliot, Hemingway, Pound, Picasso, Apollinaire.  A pie cut up now...  But along with that, a realization that everyone has something to say, an interesting literary thought, talk of a book perhaps, within, waiting for the proper place for it to come out.  And so such places, mystical and the real ones of this earth, have, understandably, their draw.

And today, lazy, not wishing to get up early, and pondering what to talk about with my own therapy sessions, a good part of me wishes I had written more, would have waited out for another hour at the Starbuck's patio on a pleasant mid September late summer night, but next time.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

If you cannot describe your own self, if you don't have a firm enough confident sense, then how can you write?  (It follows that if you cannot write about your own self, then you will not be able to describe the slightest thing.  And yet this is the writer's journey, finding his or her self, the nature of it.  This can get weird perhaps, it can get Tolstoyan, Chekhovian, Kerouacian, Proustian...)  And if you were firm enough in your own sense of being a writer, then your time and energy would be well-allocated toward it.  But if you were confused, not being able to make the clear choice between the day job and the other thing then the confusion would continue.

Our sense of self is determined socially, how people come to know us.  Even a writer needs to have some form of social life based around the activity, even if this is an anonymous interaction, which is why writers need to get out of the house and go to coffeehouses and park benches and other roosts, perhaps for the primary reason of staying sane, still feeling a part of society, engaged, engaging, even if critical or apart.

Which sense of self wins out?  The "day job," which could actually be a night job, or the other task, the vaguely defined writer?   And if that day job is almost based on creating social meaning and reinforcing the very thing, would that help or hinder the other work, the silent kind?  Would the two strike a kind of balance, or leave the subject covering too much ground, not having much of a social life for the writer part?  Would the writer be pushed into the night, a creature out of synch with anyone but another night shift hospitality type?  How to socialize, to find a place with warm bodies around that leaves space for a writer, undisturbed, at a table?

The main religions, the Abrahamic branch, have much to do with property and marital relationships.  (In a world of scarcity, no wonder they fight.)  Odd then for a writer, who seeks to defend humanity and decency, who seeks to explore the spirit, ends up almost at odds, not having much in the way of means to support property and family.  Left almost with the sense that only through deep faith and a religious practice would one be dedicated to one person in a selfish world, which is perhaps why my very old school Catholic neighbor the Polish lady, heroine of the war, saw same-sex marriage as undermining the faith that supports the family, the mystic bounds between a man and a woman.  As if she were speaking to Dostoevsky, she would tell me that for a woman I needed "a slave."  Hmm.  Interesting that Dostoevsky does his fair share bringing the depths of Orthodox (and general) Christianity into the modern times.

Buddhism doesn't really get into that fight, but maybe it allows for a deeper kind of marriage, a simple one, not based on individual property, which is of course hard for us to imagine.  The self is an illusion but there are still men and women, and they need each other, and even should practice spiritually together in yogic and other ways.

Can love ever come first, to allow the full development of the human being?

One steps out into a great blank field of confusion, feeling very small, when the impulse to write comes.   Does it constitute an attempt to shape the current present moment, to own its definition, to allow for a positive component and a sense of well-being?  Does one grow out of it and simply wish for a normal life, saying 'now' convincingly.  Have you largely diverted your chance at a normal life through your misguided efforts, too many years at 'the day job' to ever escape, too many years sunk it to already, an effort honorable in many ways, but with some buts.

In a dream a woman I've met takes me to see her wildlife.  A large formidable animal, bear or elk with horns come over to test me out, aggressively.  Face your fear.  "He'll be fine with you after he pees on you."  Oh, great, okay.  She didn't tell me of this basic rule.  So the damn thing climbs over the protective railings over me and sure enough urinates warmly on me, and then well, at least it's over.  "Now he's cool with you."  If I had not got along with it, as the beast was friendly with her, I would have been toast.  Well, you just have to go through some things, I guess.  And perhaps there is not as much to be indignant about after all.  My clothes seem to dry out after the great bath.  Dreams...

Knausgaard has addressed the old problem of how to live the social life of a writer.  Such is there specifically, but also as a broad theme, the exploration of relationships.

I do yoga.  It really helps me feel less like I am weird, gone off on some strange path, but rather to the center.  And it does feel weird, a lot of the time, to be a writer, to be able to hear, to see ghosts (as Shakespeare summarized the writing mind.)