Friday, February 16, 2018

The Gospel of Mark, 3:23-33, well explicated by Fr. James Martin.

You know, the one where his family "went out to restrain him, for people were saying, 'He has gone out of his mind.'"  (And they believe the same.)

There are the things you cannot tell family.    And so it is that you come to live amongst the good disciples.

"He's free.  And that makes him both effective and dangerous."  Father Martin.

I wrote a book in order to express something.  But when we do so, we find our imaginations going further than we might have originally intended.  We go to a place that only we ourselves understand, and then, from that point, there is help from the divine, in faith.  We go from the particular, to the universal, from daily events to the meaning behind them.  And each step of life offers us important clues.  We have to accept them, as best we can.

The writer has to look beyond the events.  He has to have faith.  That one day the meaning of the events he has depicted will become meaningful, as there are layers of an onion to be peeled.  Certain events have to happen, and from them, comes understanding.  Woe unto the world because of offenses.  Lincoln liked that line.

The faithful must still be engaged in the world and its business.   And things will come about, naturally.  The kinds of things that are of strife and misunderstanding between people, largely out of differences of temperament.

It is a long process.  Why should it take so long?  We cannot obsess over events, but must move on from them, taking the course toward meaning, to finding the meaning of events, which I suppose come through analogy and parable, as the template of the Gospels lays down for us, both in form and in meaning.  There's a long time of digestion, I suppose, the chewing over of things.

And one supposes, at least, that this all has something to do with growing up.

Of course, one comes upon such things through his own mistakes, his own errs.  Material granted to us for being who we are.  Which is why we do not judge others, because you cannot learn and grow without making mistakes, sometimes publicly, embarrassingly.  It is a matter of character, that such mistakes come, for what they will elucidate out of you.  Daily bread.

The old (or rather middle-aged) writer sat around.  Why he was too lazy to go to church, who knows, or maybe he was shy.  Maybe he was working on something.  When asked about it, he might have said, 'oh, well, the church is really all around us, and one simply has to do his work;  going to church everyday--nothing all against it, in fact I always enjoy it, mightily so--is not for everyone given their schedules.'

I suppose he had been tested, in ways invisible, as we all shall be.  There was no sign of his having been sent to some Siberian-like prison, no experience like that, but there was a sense that he had sort of fallen out, fallen into a kind of exile, which either encouraged or allowed or made it so that he by habit kept somewhat to himself when he was not called to go his job, what they would call his day job, which we do not really need to go into all that much, beyond that it was trying in many ways, at least physically, but also mentally, a kind of, a form of persecutions financial and otherwise.

He did not really have an prospectives, as people would commonly think about them, in any career sense, and thus he was doomed to pursue the path he had somehow set himself upon at a young enough age.  So to speak.  It's never too late, as they say.  Let's just say he had not found anything particularly lucrative or sustaining a model of security.  But, he had words, and upon a daily basis, one can only see that they, the words, seem to be sustaining for him.  Such odd birds we all are, all of us.  I suppose his father had left with him some teaching, that he was to pursue that which he found natural, a notion based upon, as the old man might have said, the meaning of the liberal arts education.  And such he had received, though he might not have seemed to, upon initial inspection, seem to have mixed perfectly well with it.  But, people liked him, as a young man, and put up with his particular wry form of grumpdom well enough.

Perhaps it would be within the bounds of fairness to conjecture that there were not so many who understood him, fully understood him, but for a few exceptions.  A kindly retiree had taken him once years ago, as one might take in a feral kitten, as the man we speak of here had fed several litters of feral cats, before giving up on the project, satisfied that he had tamed one cat, a slight orange female who had recovered from a limp only to one day disappear, perhaps in a city roundup involving traps, sadly enough.  Friends had given him his own little calico kitten from a feral litter and the two of them had had an excellent relationship, for a good fifteen years, until rectal cancer overtook her good feline health and spitfire ways.  Like himself, the man was from a very kind family, and kept a good faith himself, as each faith is an individual matter.

And so, one comes across the pile of his writing, first out of curiosity, but then with some engagement, and then finally with some enjoyment as to the meaning he derived out of events such as happen to us as well besides the unlucky.  He took reasonable care of his own health, took his vitamins, and did other things to maintain himself in his own private fashion, as if he were unafraid of being alone for the most part, then took to red wine when bored with himself, the writing mainly done for the day.

What do we make of the Old Faith?  How do we live with it, live within it, explore it, handle it, humor it, practice it, walk with it, read with it?  Does it come before us, or after us?  Are we organically bound to finally flower into it after coming blindly out of roots in the ground?  Mysterious matters, indeed.  Are we fated toward it when we are born?  Does it even help us when we come upon the things that draw us out and into what we might argue to be great works of literature, the "sudden flooding wind " of Dostoevsky's crowning accomplishment of  The Brothers Karamazov, its roots in the exile of labor prison camp.  Would we rather not be so drawn?  Or does it come finally as a relief, as an inevitable thing that one can finally not distract one's self from or run away from.

I know the man liked his writing time.  The practice had grown with him, I gather.  Like the green flannel shirt he wore on a regular basis during the colder seasons, to work, at home, everywhere, a simplification of life, not unlike the monk's begging and his bowl of rice and his tea.  Live frugally, without much show, and do not overemphasize the self nor the illusions of it being separate and as tangible as we might like to think, out of a desire for pleasure beyond simple satisfying things.  He did it privately, without saying much about it ever, without ever claiming to be something along the lines of being a professional about it all, a journalist, a novelist, what-have-you.  He simply meandered along his way, like a stream content with its way through the forest and the stones, old enough with its habits to allow all seasons to pass, leaves, born green, waiving up to the summer, then falling as litter.

Well, there were bound to be certain disagreements which might have rose, I say in a chuckling manner, betwixt himself and the society he marginally lived in.  Being so bound to the devices of the day, it might have been, on the other hand, somewhat refreshing to come across him, different, like finding a snow leopard, not to cast him with too much romance.  Many would have expected his company to be dull and dungeon-like, cold, but when engaged, he was friendly, and with a sense of humor that bounded up the higher levels without oppressing us as a loud noise might.

He liked naps.  As did Jesus, though there are not any paintings I can think of the Lord taking a good nap curled up in the ship ropes.  A habit good for the taxed mind, and good for the stress, a kind of meditation.  Another man might have suggested to him, being of different mindset, that he would be better off reading Investors Business Daily, but what can you do;  hard it is to change people, sadly enough, I guess.   Is a criminal a criminal being born that way, or of his nurture, or both, or is it a matter of what is called karma...

There was something Quixotic about him, by which I mean, as the old knight had taken to reading obsessively books on chivalry, something about  the writing process might have weakened, or softened, his mind and his basic level of sanity, enough to allow a man much like the writer to become, well, more than he was through certain works and flights of fantasy.  Does Quixote shine a light of some sort back upon Old Cervantes himself?

But I digress.

His notebooks tell their own story, not that I necessarily approve of it, or of them.  Perhaps I should have simply thrown them into the recycling bin before, before something happened of an inexplicable nature.  I make no judgments upon his sanity or otherwise.  To his credit, I suppose, he stayed in the game, as long as he could, before moving on, as we do sometimes.

Verily, I say unto you, except a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone:  but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.
John 12:24-26

Dostoevsky used it himself.

But there is truth in it.  Truth in the sense that one moves on.  The point of the story was not about the  details, about getting the girl, so to speak, but about human society, about the soul.  About the ego.  About those things which you let go of, as the lesson within, as the reality of the situation, dictates.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

When you're young a lot of it is acting.  Boy and girl like each other, but each puts up an act.  Only at rare moments do they drop the act.  No longer compelled.  I tried to capture that in the book I wrote, because that's what I felt, that's what I remember from those days.  As if college was a lesson in physics, as physics pertains to how the human creature acts when being in society.

Humphrey Bogart, meets Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman...  The act is a sign of freedom, of intelligence, of candor, honesty.

(One can only say this crudely.  There are not the best terms, yet, for it.  There are words for the opposite, and people get paid handsomely to write the words which would sell all this out.)

Your own intelligence is native.  Passed on from the ancestors, from the animals, from your own human uniqueness.  You have to respect your thought processes as they are, accepting them by letting them grow, or stay, wild.  The mind is never--would never--need a commercial to tell you its efficacy, its beauty.  You are in it.

(Not like the advertisement for AI.)

Hemingway was prone to suffering great boredom (and, probably, anxiety and angst.)    He was attracted to war and restaurants and barrooms, things that offered a refuge for the wildness he felt within, like the fishing expeditions to wildness and rivers.

The loser gets through Valentine's Day night.  The odd night, the different menu, no space at all for leeway.  Upstairs we sell about $7000.

Fear and shame.  No future in the restaurant business.  And I've spent a lot of time at it, making it a sort of pseudo-career.  The mistake was in not moving somewhere else.  Why DC?

What direction to turn in?

A couple's dinner entrees were taking too long, because I got distracted and forget in the melee to fire main course.  She says, could we have a cheese plate, so I hit 'fire cheese.'  Manuel delivers it.  You need to ring in the cheese plate, he tells me.  Sure.  Boss comes up an hour later directly asking me about it.  We are working hard, quite hard (and we worked hard the night before.)  There is not a spare moment.  It's not like I'm standing around doing nothing.  Later, the other waiter, oh, we're supposed to charge for that?

Anyway, it's all survived, and now is the time to write shitty pointless things.  The day off.  No story to tell.

Some day soon, mom will not understand where she lives.  And I do not know what to do about it.  If I move to Oswego, what would I do?  What skills have I?  What career will I have when I grow up?

In Oswego, they are accepting.  There seems to be enough of each element in a town.  Just what would I do?  Where would I live, beyond Mom's basement.  How's that for a Kerouac story.

But that's the way it goes.  Circumstances will lead that way.  Even well-intentioned people, fearing embarrassment, protecting what they feel must be, in self-interest, protected, will crucify you.  Jesus will always be offended by the profiteering in the temple.

And some of us realize that basic state, sensing it, sooner rather than later.

It's just the way.  Ash Wednesday is usurped  the commercial.  You can't blame anyone.  Nor is there anything necessarily wrong.  Just that inside, privately, the focus should be on other things, in your own mind at least.

A retreat from the world is not a bad thing.

But there is prophecy in life.  A kind man from a  good family gives you refuge.  That's not nothing.

Entrust your cares to the Lord, and He will support you.  Sinners through grievous fault, our sins will always come out.

But the way the sins rebound and reflect upon others, sometimes good comes out.

In the desert of Lent, we grow closer to the Lord.

And so, in Lent, on Valentine's Day, I stood before people, performing the tasks they ask of me, with ample set-up and ammunition for whatever the night might want, back-ups of chilled bubbly, and lots of labor, taking the stacks of plates of dishes consumed from the waiters at the mouth of the bar, placing them down in neater stacks after scraping off the remains into the wastebasket, the silverware into little plastic quart sized containers.  The busser food runner who brings the dishes will take the dirty plates back down the stairs to the dishwasher below us in the kitchen here in our little ship.

But I stand before people, and they have little idea.  I do my job well, and only occasionally mention that I am a writer, or that I'm still writing, and even more rarely would begin to speak of what I might be thinking of in that form which addresses thoughts in written form.  That world of mine, begun naively, childishly, but with inspiration, training, and background profitable, from parents and sibling, through college, is a secret life, obscured, hidden in plain sight, in the upstairs room serving, after all, wine and bread and lamb with the blessing of others of good will and thought, in the big city of a nation's judgments, power, law, the center of its might, its self-importance, its intentions.  (Ad to that what you wish.  The city does not escape the test of the old patterns.)  The scholars' son.

I even suppose that my old novel, roman a clef, fictional memoir of literary form, too serves as some form of cover, and thus is not of worth until all would be viewed from a certain perspective.  Any attempt, it seems, to create something of popular and commercial value has no point if not so backed-up, supported by the real true intentions, as such can only grow organically within.

And why would writing serve such a purpose?  Why, indeed.  Because that act is always supportive of the deeper mind, of the inner reality, of the mandala, of the stigmata, of the Cross, of the chakras and the Buddha mind, but for some of us I suppose clearest in Christian form given the arrangement of our atomic structure and the events around us and their deeper meaning.  That is why it is a beautiful process.  The left hand knows not what the right is doing;  perhaps it is in some way textually appropriate that we write now with two hands on the keypad, left and right.  Right and wrong.  Sinful and holy.  Unknowing, and known.

What can you say to the people there on the other side of bar?  You have to talk in their terms, with a cruelly short amount of time before being interrupted by one thing or another, not least the talky customer less prone to hold his tongue and his place in the importance of the spiritual life.

In this Lenten season I catch a Mass, the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word, celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass from Our Lady of Angels Chapel in Irondale, Ala. on TV.  And it helps, and it is beautiful.  And I am returned to wholeness after the mess of Valentine's Day with the loud insistent jazz musical blowing in our ears enough that we would wish for earplugs.  I feel less stupid. I feel less confused.  The Lord be with you.

I guess, I gather, you have to wade through the valley...

So is the book I wrote ever less and less important, not the true point, but as an exercise to get rolling, really, perhaps little more.  Faith in constructing an emerging narrative, that eventually, it would come about, as it might in a Chekhov story, or Dostoevsky.

Knowing where you are going, where you are headed, helps the journey out immensely.  If you don't know where you are going you will be prone to much confusion.  Blind, or blinded, or lost, you know not the purpose, nor the direction, and you will go around in circles.  You'll drink too much wine to hide the feeling within of lostness and searching, of enduring the darkness of the journey's point.

(St. Catherine of Siena looks like an interesting person.)

For awhile the feeling of laziness departs, and one can almost live again, having a good sense of himself in the clutter of the world.

Eventually, I found, they would come to me.  It might take time, but eventually they would drop their guard, their protections of an enjoyed and reasonably profitable life, come and confide in me of their real life, their health, their inner thoughts.

The stigmata is about energy, electrical energy flow...

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Manuel and I took the Indonesian couches down from the wine bar through the dining room and into the basement.  He was drilling the screws of table pedestals on to table tops for two.  There were two extra tables downstairs next to the copper bar, and three extra deuces up in the front of the wine bar near where the band will play, and then having done what we could do, departed our separate ways into the night around 1:30 in the morning.

And I wake up feeling like an old barn on Valentine's Day.   Stone and old wood, littered with straw.  Bones overlaid with muscle, the ache from a thousand motions, of pouring wine, serving, clearing plates, running, wiping off the glassware.  And again, one is left awake but not so willing to move, not even to do yoga, and a retreat to a place to lay down and meditate is called for.  The mark of Ash Wednesday, a television broadcast from Rome, the Papal Mass, like a cross, reminds me too of the stigmata, the image within the body, as we are reminded be our better purposes.

Horoscope for Capricorn, reads today:  Are the targets you are aiming for ones you have set yourself or ones that have been set for you by other people?  If, as the planets indicate, it's the latter then it's time to break free and regain control of your life.  Not later -- right now!

Is it Valentine's Day, or is it Ash Wednesday, rather.  Who are the sheep that must be loved and defended?

Valentine's Day, polite and anonymous, delivering the romantic dinner...  Now, I wait for it, and write useless words, looking forward to when my labors are done after the long night, the jazz offending our calm with its volume, throwing off the muscle memory echolocation.  It all strikes one as a postponement of the acts one is working on...

The Christian in me rouses me, and I pour a cup of yesterdays Moroccan Mint, mix in a little bit of Astragalus powder, and before I've seen that Karl Ove Knausgaard has done a piece on going in search of Turgenev in Russia in the New York Times, and today relatives will bury our Aunt Jean, old Auntie Jean-Jean, my mom's Aunt, with her good nature and all her stories, up by Lynn in Swampscott, a journey too far to take my old mom to, on top of the awaited week of Valentine's Day at the old Bistrot of the Dying Gaul and the special fixed price menu.

Is it depressing, being outside the church, the not belonging...  The original, He dealt with it.  It made his work less bound by strict custom.  He could heal and do good work, even on Valentine's Day.  Well, a day set aside for love, the celebration of love, after all, why not.

EWTN, the basic church of Santo Stefano, from the Twelfth Century, whose bells rang, by themselves, when Francis died, in Assisi, a good place to meditate and pray, a small treat for the distracted...

Would Jesus fully understand the fullness of his acts of generosity, or for Him were they more or less instinctive, no need to think them over, the ponder the logic of how they might fit in to polite society's normal way of doing polite business, marriages, professional friendships, community, and the like...

Awake, the awkwardness of existence, of being a conscious being, waiting to prepare for the shift, the big night, the last one of this guy's workweek.  What fuel to take in for the night...  What tea to brew, what nostrum to take.

A lament for the human race, a lament for all who say worthless things, not taking into account the sorry state of our perpetual affairs.  For all the kids who in love make dumb mistakes, that is human.  For all the people who do dumb thoughtless things, or who do not do the things they should, lamentations, as memory serves properly to remind us of things we wish we'd done differently, had a little more time for...

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

But really, to continue on from above, or below, the words that are meant for the cutting floor are not the important ones, those lines that serve to vent our minor complaints about the lives we ourselves have created for ourselves.  Granted, we need the courage to face them, to get them out there.  They are not as serious, or as meaningful, as the ones of deeper thought, the ones that grow upward out of the roots of earthly complaint and sore assessment.

The deeper thoughts, like the Shroud image, like the angel informing one of the pattern that could be construed as a non-bleeding stigmata, are the important ones, the beautiful ones, sustaining us.  The ones into which all little writer details about guitars and whatever other objects will come to rest in, leaves upon a tree...

And like unto the word of Jesus himself.  Considered thoughts, balanced, worked upon, honed, precise as metaphor, the parables, the important stuff.  Even as we think we cannot possibly ever use them or bring them into any sort of practical purpose or use.  Thus, our sleeplessness.  The great awkward fear over how to use ourselves for the best...

"But you're a writer, if that, and what good is that for the world?  If you are moved so, then go work in a soup kitchen, or a hospital.  Enough of the fantasy.  Go and earn a living, how about that, my friend."

silently within.  obscure thoughts:

But Jesus was a writer, a wordsmith.  And His stuff was about the human condition.  He has values, ones that are helpful to us, like about materialism, fairness...  Uhm, spirituality, well, obviously.  The words are fresh, full fields of interpretation and science.   Engaging. 

It's not bad to try writing, if only out of some youthful idealism, as you make your raw way into the world.

"But writing can be a huge waste of time and effort.  Navel staring.  Postponing what you really need to be doing as a grown-up, caring for self and supporting family....  Irresponsible.  Leading to no practical good in this world that you have to make it in.  Might be okay for the college student, but grow up.  You're not young anymore.  That ended a long time ago.  A long time ago."

There is no response to such things.  How can there be...

The mind works with different logic, I'm afraid.  Until you're thrown into debtors prison or bad things happen, but by then, in that logic it's too late to do anything anyway;  you needed to start a real career ages ago.

It's a different logic.  The problem is the human being, in God's image.  That's the problem.  It's a sad problem, yes no doubt.  That we have to be closeted.  That our being must be exploited in some commercial fashion.  Working in a bar.  Teaching in a school.  Selling so many widgets.  What would Jesus do?  Where would he fit in?  As if he could ever be commercialized...

My problem is not depression, so much.  It's anxiety.  It's troubled waters.  The nerves that come with running through the modern check-list, of what I should be doing, what do I need to do.

And there are things you cannot change.

The innocent attempt to meet spirituality halfway though, perhaps it soothes more than it disturbs.  Perhaps it helps you with personal habits, with getting home without responding to the aggravating ends of Jazz Night evenings jerked-around.  It helps when you get home, too tired to do anything but go to bed, without getting into the wine.

But what would He do for a job?  Who would assuage his anxiety, his occasional terrors?  Who would take care of him?  Who would understand him?  Who would join him?  Who would help him understand the practicalities of the world, of society, of empire and local taxes?  Who would employ him?  What would ever be a professional about?

Stupid questions.

Fear is a terrible thing.  Hemingway liked to write about it.  How bullfighters legs would shake uncontrollably.  Courage, his subject.  At all things.

So you meditate, exercise, talk to a therapist, and so on.  Who knows, maybe even go to a church one day.

"Are you gay?"

I get that from time to time.  "No, just a Christian, or a Theosophist, Buddhist, something like that."

That's always the way it goes, for Christians.  A secret society.  The awkwardness.

It was necessary, the societies, the Christian label.  The defining.  What is now not so necessary, as doing yoga alone taming the muscles at home is a Christian act like those of Francis and the sick wolf.  Knowing who are is reassuring.  A self-knowledge that brings one calm, protection from the exploitation of the mind.    A way to basically know good from bad, right from wrong, even as that is always a hard thing to know, to ask of your own intentions, gentlemanly as they are, basically...

These days one is a private citizen, and Jesus, remaining who He is, is more a general presence, less tribal, less ossified, less structured.

That takes a lot of energy to say, a lot of anxious time.  But all of that leads you, in a way.  An abandonment of the cheap sell-out.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Waking after a restaurant dream, the kind that make one say to himself, what a shitty job.  It takes place in a strange amalgam, perhaps a new improved renovated Austin Grill, but also a touch of the Dying Gaul, the customers who come in, early...  You don't know where anything is.  To get dressed for your shift is completely awkward, the restaurant doesn't even look open when you walk in, it's disorganized, too big, an extra floor you find strange, distant, ashtray buckets, hallways with restaurant clutter...  The ordering system is strange, the bar unhappy.  It's not run right, personality is lacking, everyone distant, a mill...  You want to get out of there as quickly as possible.

And you have to go to work tonight, Valentines Day week, Sunday night to start out the week, with a strange cough.  Low on money, a death in the family, but one you can't attend to properly with the distances involved.

The last two weekends, if you can call them that, you haven't had the energy for anything social, turning down dinner with old friends thrice.  A lot of bed time.  Cold, dank, February unstopping rain.

And all of these, as dreams are, become sort of throwaway thoughts, acknowledge, and now, to move on.

The stigmata comes, if that's what it is, in a gentle way.  A divine being of image comes.  And this is why the popular pictures of Jesus are soothing.  The white billowing robe, the abundant hair, the gentle face, masculine with beard, sort of 'soft' eyes, wisdom, decency, kindness...  You lay there, meditating, between sleep and waking, hands folded across the chest, and the being is much a mirror image of you, informing your physical construction, matching your appearance, changing it slightly, as it always has, the sad kid, over all the years, which you've struggled hard to grasp the meaning of.  You feel it, the Christian image, in the palms, deep in the cup, as if within the palm there were invisible unknown instrument that one might manipulate as a hand to do things for humanity, for the world.  As if within that cup of the open palm there was an additional dexterous instrument, capable as much as the fingers of doing things, in a subtle way of energies and powers.  Almost magical, but for the proper word, holy perhaps, in this world that falls apart on us, broken, making it necessary for this Jesus of our collective minds come forward.

The image begins to feel like one embossed on candles, like the Shroud of Turin's work of art, mirroring your bone structure and brow and cheek.  It hovers above you until you realize it is part of you, a pattern within.  It is your being.  That's why you don't always fit in so well.  Your own peculiar kind of faith, interpreted.  You sleep mutely underneath it as it mirrors you.  You wonder, how would you possibly ever use it.

And so, perhaps, practically, it makes you nervous, for all the things you'd wish to achieve, the way you'd like to act in the world, the kind of person you'd like to be.

There was a homeless guy once, who used to irritate you outside a small Safeway, as you went in to purchase cat food, cleaning supplies, bagged spinach, packaged sausages, V8 juice.  Larry, sometimes you'd give him a banana as he'd asked, or a buck, and sometimes he was drunk and sometimes snarlingly so, as if you were his particular oppressor and the reason of his downfall.  Reasonably old, bow-legged, with a limp...  Sometimes he'd be talking to the big gentle guy from the check out counter, the one who, when the National Enquirer cover showed the colors of Brad Pitt's hair changing with his different girlfriends, said, "man, that boy's got too much time on his hands," and Larry would be in a jocular mood.  And once he said to you, as you passed, burdened, with plastic bags and other things more general and within, "don't be afraid of your own goodness."  And you paused for thought.

And this is what the figure of the gentle stigmata that subtly comes to you on a Sunday early morning hours before you really have to get up and physically,  as you only know how, to go and face the music (that is driving you crazy) in this town of Washington, blah, that it is somewhat like the rays from the angel hovering over St. Francis in his cave that he receives in the palms of his hands, as he looks upward toward heavenly light in a painting from more classical times.  Bernini?  (Bellini, St. Francis in the Desert, ca 1476-78.)  Or better yet, Giotto, Saint Francis Receiving the Stigmata, ca 1295-1300.

Your goodness, your image...  what do you do with it?  What a problem you've become.  But that old image hanging around you, speaking to you as you pass with brow furrowed at the world, engaged, distracted, weary, wasting your energies trying to belong in the world.  You can't hardly even speak to anyone anymore, in these terms society gives you, as if this Shroud of Angel were Huckleberry Finn speaking in language polite grown-ups take as impolite.  There is no real job they can give you to fit your predilection, your usefulness, as if those jobs were cookie cutters imposed upon you, missing the whole, chopping off almost half a torso of the figure, and a leg, just not being able to focus in and connect with the whole, such as they are, these templates.  St. Francis wouldn't even touch money.

You take a warm shower, hot enough to loosen the deep phlegmatic, ease the muscles of shoulder and lower back, the hot water seeps in through the cellular openings down into the deeper layers of tissue and body.  Everyone has to work.  And you are, thanks to the self-help book, practicing gratitude and love projected.

But you might as well talk to a cat about such things, as people are barely able to see it, to get it, this image that comes to you gently, informing your spirit and helping your growth by shining  a light.

And you were tired with the same worn-out thread-bare material again and again, the same old situation, as a writer, tired out, sometimes with too much wine to numb down the lonesome hours and ways of not-connecting.  How  can you connect with someone if you're not even being yourself?  Stop trying to meet them on their terms, boring, Washingtonian, materialist, consumerist, warped off the path of true humanity living in the world.  Obsessed unfortunately with the entertainer who came to power to wreck the fair great democracy, as it is.  This mythical town of Notgettinglaid...

Walk to work, slowly, along embassy row, then into the woods, calling mom on the way.

At the end of the night, even after cleaning up, the checkout report, the tension of the night seems only to build, solidified into something you yourself must physically take home, like a bundle of some sort, wood collected, to dry out.  The tensions of the evening, gracefully ridden through and over, but now, present again rather than dissipating as they might logically would.  Done early, the chance to hit the Safeway, stock up on the cold cuts and gluten free breads to get you through the week.  The Uber ride home seems only to increase tensions...

But He wouldn't be human, if he didn't feel tension, and even the worst sort of angst and worry, which naturally, in the story, is of course in the sort of quiet place at night, one that might seem like a haven, the garden, but which is his place of agony, of all the sad hard things that come with being mortal.  Hard to relax, to just simply relax in such a place...  The pain of the body, from work, and the realization too that things would be more miserable even if you didn't work, if you didn't have a job to focus on, fixate, get swept up in.

It's like a full shift is so intense, that even going home you cannot be sheltered from it, no relaxation.  TV, dishes, exercise...  Sleep, finally, but the anxiety is never far off, or not until the week has worn you out physically, into submission.  The awareness that you are not growing up, that you are not acting like an adult, and that by now it is too late, thanks to your stupidity, your penchant for wasting time...

Really, thank god one has a job even.  To not be dragged off to work, what would one do?  A retreat from time to time, sure, maybe even forty days, or a silent retreat, but otherwise...  Good to have enough cash to be able to rent a car to go see your old mom eight hours away, not frequently enough.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

The night closes as I walk back over the bridge, Connecticut Avenue, the wind blowing, a light spray of the rain that is going to pick up, eating a double Whopper, bun and all.  The end of a date, traffic coming toward me, one slow step at a time.  I caught a bus at Van Ness, but it turned to Adams Morgan and I decided to get out.  A good day, in that I get out with an old girlfriend to see the Cubist paintings at The Kreeger.  Dinner was nice at her apartment, a Langhe Rosso, Thai from downstairs, the original Blade Runner, comfortable, but now I just want to get home, tired, and tomorrow is work and it is Restaurant Week, the last night, but still a major hurdle.  The night before, a belated birthday dinner over at my brother's, the grappa at the end...  Nights I start into the wine earlier than usual.

Dreams, strange dreams.  I make chicken stock, but in vain.  It will all get thrown out.

Sunday night, miserable.  Downstairs gets a busboy.  M is the food runner.  A has the phone, seating parties as they come, finding space.  By the end, I just want to get out of there.   Let the downstairs closing server wait for the kitchen guys to finish cleaning up.  Sebastien comes up to keep me company, just as the last customers leave.  Restaurant Week strangers standing around put you in a mood, and the last thing you want is regulars.    Leave me alone, eh.  So Sebastien is sitting now at the end of the bar, where we put the clean glassware, wiped clean from the washer, onto mats.  He always sits there, right in the way, even when you've told him.  So he's droning on, about the same things he always talks about.    He is moving, to Virginia Beach.  I should come with him.  And finally, checking in on the kitchen, I pour a half glass of Beaujolais.  Talking to people takes a lot of energy.  You've been doing it all night long, at the bar, and you've about had it.

Even our stellar soldier, the nice young lady from Mongolia, sweet, strong, steady, is angry with how we've been staffed tonight.  The short end of the stick, and we've been clearing all the tables, stacking the dirty plates, picking them up off the low tables, or taking them back from the narrow back room, needing a long reach, a lot of work, sore muscles tired out the next day.