Thursday, October 31, 2013

Back when I started blogging there was a sense of fresh adventure and possibility, new territory, the pleasure of a new venue.  It was all an experiment, so why not jump in with enthusiasm.  Rather than scribble away on a Starbuck's patio into a legal pad that no one would ever see, why not write 'live,' and find new challenges.  Maybe by covering the madcap mind's diverse thoughts on a semi-regular basis would lead a writer someplace new, or perhaps even into a fresh sort of honesty with self.

It was in such a spirit that I came across the blog of an old friend.  The blog did a fine job of covering neurochemistry in terms of behavior and the capacity of people either to be cold psychotic killers or gentle types better at seeing what it might be like to be in another person's shoes.  Personality disorders, that sort of thing, the ability to relate, as explored through making sense of a study, in a very well done way, as a bit of poetry is necessary when bringing across the dry facts of science...

The blog was good stuff, personal, heartfelt, while at the same time maintaining its science and psychology.   And I had a good feeling, that here, years later, even as estranged friends, we two were sort of after the same thing.  I was doing it in the whys and wherefores of literary work, of why poetry is necessary, or why writing might make us better deeper people accessing our sympathetic powers.  I was less scientific, with far less reference to studies, a lot sloppier, but, I was glad that after circumnavigating the years as people must, we'd kind of come out at a similar place, caring for the world.  At one point I found a nice piece in my old friend's blog, and I commented upon it, keeping it within the realm of humor, as one is required to do.

Well, well, it's all terribly embarrassing.  My comments seemed acceptable, and my friend's posts kept coming.  It seemed okay, that after the years I'd been accepted, at polite arm's length, which is as far as I  wanted or expected, an occasional comment here and there, and a general pleasant feeling of being on the same side of things, maybe something like a truce between friends who'd fallen into a tit for tat because of some lack of happy sustaining chemistry, not far any real good reason.  And then, wearing rose colored glasses, enjoying this blogging stuff, I made a mistake, the mistake of trying to more directly contact the old friend to say, hey, I enjoy what you write, good prose, good stuff.  And rather immediately rebuffed, okay, well, so it goes, here was the same old things, and why friends cannot be friends sometimes.  Well, I probably got a bit bitter one night, decided to delete my silly postings, unwanted as they were, an intrusion, just as I became an intrusion without intending to be.  And not long after, the old friend's blog ceased to be added to.  And then, here I am again, the ruiner of everything, same place I was years ago.  Ha ha ha.

Where, I wonder, does the chemistry of friendship go wrong?  When does your solid consistent outlook of generosity and kindness to people, restrained, judicious as it can be while still giving others the benefit, when does all that become taken as something it's not?  When and how do good acts get turned into the behavior of a deviant?  When does a friendly concern become, well, embarrassingly, and devastatingly even, regarded as stalking?  At that point, we are stripped of politics, and nothing we can do will ever be just a simple kind well-intentioned act?  Does it happen when we feel the need to distinguish our own self-regarded class of people and all its good behavior from those we regard as others, different, less agreeable, 'not good enough...'   Or did we simply just irritate the heck out of someone once, and f you.  Fairly mind-boggling to be on the receiving end.  And then you go and look at other people strutting around with their self-confidence, observe how they are rewarded for their own good feelings, uncomplicated, about themselves, how they get away with some things you find quite rude.

Writing out Frost's line, about how people, when doing something fine, work together, I thought of my old friend's blog.  I gather Frost wouldn't mind how apart the apart can be, how distant, how vanished from lives those who work together can be.  As probably many a good old New England spirit might know, that is all perfectly fine, and maybe even normal, who knows.  No sense at all in forcing yourself on other people, and the only one you must maintain your own dignity to is your own self.

Life's just that way.  Sad or stupid as it may be, not worth commenting upon.  The only thing you can say it that through a literary exploration of the complexities of life, as you might find in Chekhov or Dostoevsky, a reader awakens to new possibilities of understanding, more, as one recent study put it, or maybe it was NPR covering the study, empathetic.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A bottle of wine.  It's the recommended daily allowance, more or less, for that which we call 'processing.'  It wouldn't do to go to sleep right away, and that's why I am writing at 5:30 AM, after the night shift.  The mind needs the time, needs the staring off into space, needs being drawn into the movie Chinatown.  I have seen the elder men tonight at the bar over the company of young women.  The older one leans over at me, appalled at the behavior of the one on the other end of the bar 'after only one thing,' then proceeds to chuckle over the cleverness of his own bald innuendoes, after his rival has left, continuing with his full court courting.

When the bar crowd has left, the waiter makes an exit.  He talks to two pretty girls, explaining he's going to a show, a band at a club.  See ya, he nods to me--I don't begrudge him his escape and the possibilities of his night--as I discover how I must now chat with the last three two tops, quickly buried by the final duties and disorganization of printing out checks, taking payments, the last bit of hospitality, the last round of ho ho ho, yuck yuck yuck, you liked your weekend away.

Up the hill on my bike to look at a darkened place, a site of something new, a restaurant project.  Then home I head.

It takes a long time to process the voices of a night, at least if you listen to them, as you would while herding the conversation along as well as you can before it gets to the negotiations part, the nice young lady having to shut down the advance on her own.  We're Americans, Tocqueville-ian in our humor and our rubbing of elbows, generally tolerant.

Some would manipulate this basic human trait.  Ted Cruz holds up the confirmation hearing of the new FCC Chief (bravo Tom Wheeler) over not wishing that branch of government making it necessary that groups who place political ads on our national air waves reveal who they are, where their money comes from.  This is the opposite of the public thinker, the good intellectual, who obliges by that golden rule of revealing the source of thought and opinion.   Ted Cruz knows, 'just keep hitting them, over and over, with ads and distruths and deceit and shadowed motives, and eventually they'll be worn down,' unable to process, the break free of the suitor's wall of sound and pushy will.

One can only hope, eventually, the thorn in the national skin will be encapsulated by something like pus, finally work out from the painful depths and be ejected.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

"Men work together," I told him from the heart,
"Whether they work together or apart."

Robert Frost

Friday, October 25, 2013

To my thinking, having read Dr. Peter D'Adamo's book on blood type and diet, Hemingway is a Type O, and it seems clear to me that the famous problems which run in his line are related.  That I am a Type O is perhaps what attracted me to reading him in the first place.  An O, at least when writing, tells you how he/she 'really feels.'  Anyway, as advanced as we the species might be, no matter how far we've come and how much we've built and done, each of us is still a creature of organ, blood, chemistry, metabolism, responding to the world around.  A NY Times magazine section article, The Importance of Not Being Ernest, by Amanda Fortini, October 24, concerning a new documentary about Mariel Hemingway reinforces the personal observations of a Type O.  It seems her dietary measures, gluten free, careful, her recognition of the need for fresh air and exercise and anti-inflammatories speak of someone listening to the feedback of her body.

Type Os, according to D'Adamo, seem to have dopamine issues.  Chemical imbalances in the brain can lead to the excessive verbosity and hyper thought of schizophrenia, or to depression, a lack of words that make sense.  Apparently, sitting down and writing is a good thing for Os, as it helps them manage, manage their thinking, their anger, their emotions.  Somehow, in the confusion of the world, it would seem to make sense that a Hemingway might like a bullfight, a war, a competition, a hunt, a fishing trip, something clear and dramatic to find the refreshing ability to write down how he really feels.  And perhaps we are backing up on why some people are writers and why they write.  Hemingway liked his uninterrupted five or six hours of time at it, even if he only wrote a paragraph.  His stories are almost a by-product of an inner process he adapted after seeing a good bit of the world and its customs, living in places and in ways that make him free, or freer, to make a choice.

And beyond that, there is the question of health, and, if you're a Hemingway, how to avoid going down a certain path, one involving excesses, mood shifts, drinking, drugs, dangerous behavior and suicide.  Os, I read, are subject to boredom and restlessness, thus the importance of aerobic exercise.  And of course, if you overdo one form of escape unhealthy for the body, there's trouble to pay.  The excessive drinking might have seemed like self-medication, a way of relieving boredom, loneliness, detachment, laziness, but it wreaks its havoc, in a way the straight and narrow does not.

Hemingway, in his writing mornings, would have found the buzzes and beeps of modern life and the internet age, a distraction, a way of getting at him when he needed to sort things out in his head.  He was, at times, an incredibly generous and big hearted person, at other times one who would cut people off as distraction, and probably not the best family man, such as he was.  Cagily circumspect, wary of interviews, he liked the company of salt of the earth humble fisherman, who, presumably, wouldn't present him with too many possibilities and needs.  Certain situations, perhaps, made him feel trapped.

And I guess I identify, having Type O blood, at the end of my week.  Something leaves my psyche very battered.  I don't want to fit into the world of the city and a Friday night after my week tending bar and closing four straight nights and coming home tired and medicating myself with wine and television.  And the phone ringing, or the email's pinging, just reminds me of a rather constant stream of people.  All I seem to want is a walk, out in nature, even though I'd like to rev it up, maybe a bike ride, but perhaps above all, calm and quiet.  As one might imagine, it's a bit jarring tending bar and being an agreeable provider and entertainer, and seeing everyone enjoy wine and its good taste, it's very hard not to take more than you need for the artificial calm it produces.  Perhaps one doesn't realize at the time how corrosive such can be.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A restaurant dream.  I bark, 'go away' at two guys who're no good who always like to drink late and get stupid, from another restaurant years ago, and surprisingly they turn around and leave after climbing only a few steps.  It's ten of time to shut her down anyway, but a slight guilt runs through.  In another situation, a couple has sent one steak back, and now wants something done about the replacement, and at the end, I can't understand what they guy really wants, and I can't seem to find a way to make the computer system work so I can print out his check.

The brain is in cleaning mode, washing itself, ridding trapped anxieties and worries and things stuck in its impressionable sponge of muscle blood memory.

On a day off the psyche has shifted.  I dream of being late, 'yet again,' for a gathering, as I try to get a plate of food together, and a beer for my brother, the expensive kind he likes, coming with my tray and my father is standing already delivering his talk about the life of education, of how being an alumnus makes one a person of significance.  Another sore spot in my brain.

My father had a wonderful rapport with his students.  That was the main thing I saw to his teaching style.  There was almost a sense of being startled in them when he'd open a conversation.

I'm sore at the end of the week, deciding whether to write privately in long hand in a notebook, or be optimistic enough for this venue.  I'm a stoic, and yet seem to sense getting little more than crumbs from the dinner table of life during my work week.  A town needs those who provide rapport, but the essence of the work I do doesn't show on any spread sheet attributable.
An attempt to answer who he was through the eyes of his biographers...

He was a poet himself.  He understood words.  He said what he wanted to say.

He edits Schlesinger's lines for the Amherst speech.  He gets the town of Amherst just right, a similar business to his own, a deeper understanding of issues, a wit, a gift for words.  Power leads toward arrogance, poetry cleanses.

Amherst College President Calvin Plimpton's remarks the night of November 22 that year, three weeks after JFK had come speak of the leanness of personality, the seriousness, and also the wit.

One cannot be surprised the biographers have problems with assessing him, nailing him down, covering him rightly.  He was a reader, a writer, a student himself, always engaged, learning, responding.  Apparently he enjoyed public speaking with some relish.

And all the pundits of today, all the attempts, but the most graceful and circumspect, will of course fall short by the pits of their own egos.

Kennedy, the Elusive President

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

I was not a fighter, not a scrappy guy, like JFK was.  I was too much a passive type, as if there really was a thing called God's will looking down upon us.  My father was a Theosophist, like a Buddhist who believed in Christian love's power.  My attempts at dignity above the fray ring to me like a hick country boy knowing nothing of hustling and pitching and aggressive New Yorkers.  To my embarrassment, James Dean was something of a model, and that was when I got sort of lazy as a student, even as I read Sorenson's Kennedy when looking for a way in life after college.

We do pay for our choices.  We get stuck in ruts.  And I did not do for the country but lay in shame somewhat, and my Irish wit, childless, I employ while tending bar, perhaps much as Kennedy's own grandfather had.

My friend Andrei, from the State Department, conversant in many languages, an aficionado of Bossa Nova and local musicians tells me a saying:  "If you want a friend in Washington, DC, get a dog."  And in a way, I suppose, in my duties, I'm somewhat like that dog.  The professionals come, and I make my rounds, and when I don't get to a table--maybe they looked busy--they'll mention it, why no visit, why no tasting, why no personal friendly love.  On one level, perhaps it is like Shakespeare, reserving for the mightiest, Lear, the company, when all's has fallen, of the lowly fool out on the howling heath.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Sleeps cleans the brain of toxins, the BBC reports, from a study by a team of neuroscientists at the University of Rochester published in Science.

So that's why I feel so lousy and end up napping away my first day off.  I've not been sleeping so well, four long night shifts, fighting daylight creeping in, a bit too much red wine, probably eating too heavy, too late.  No wonder the mood feels like a poisoned one, hard to be optimistic.

And it feels like it is all the thoughts that didn't get written down that cause an ache this first day off and leave me unable to write a thing.

I write in order to remember the mind's usefulness and good health.  My big fear is of not being able to exercise the need, the inherent right, the duty, having the sense of writing being the main work I must do.   Perhaps the same fear drove Shakespeare, the fear of bad brain health, a lingering sadness of how much one may have missed in foolish duties, idleness, laziness of expression, distractions.

Some of us write principally out of health, brain health, moral health, as a way of combatting the stresses jobs bring you and cost you, the night shifts, the poor sleep, the lack of energies on days off.

Writers are shy, often enough, in person.  There are things to say, and time gets rushed in the pace of life and people coming and going.   There are healthy things to say, to write, and one doesn't always have time, or to another, more used to the mainstream habits of speed would take their slowness as strange.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

I enjoy close textual reading of literature of the kind we did at college in English 11, intro to studies.  An interpretation might hang on a particular word or a phrase.  Here, for example, the 'threatening verticality' of a young woman's apartment to the married man means something in particular crucial to understanding an Updike short story, as we learned studying with Professor DeMott.

But I have to wonder.  Considering the creation of a literary piece, and probably even the reason why the species writes, I see writing as coming out of a place that sees its own meanings, deeper, subconscious, secretive promptings that are discovered through writing them out.  We grasp and wrestle, we try to find an appropriate form, maybe a poem, or maybe trying a Hollywood story line even, who knows, maybe a longer work.  With each attempt we come up with something speaking of a here, a there, a moment, a mood, and in that success, we will feel that we made a good attempt, but that to a large extent all we can do with conscious words and statements is to circle in on something, come close, closer than if we didn't try to say something about it.

And maybe that which is deeper, which we must always try to find, pinpoint to a satisfaction, can never really be said, at least in a logically convincing away.  There's always something like that vague sense of a morality, like the morality of the current Pope, or of Franciscan humility, that strange love for humble things, animals, plain miserable people without good position, a love of deeper reality.  Our words might be clever, but must mutely address our dreams, so combatting native cynicism.

Here we are left on the same playing field as the cat, the dog, the bird, the elephant, the whale, or any other animal or beast, even those who might only gesture at best.  Words go far, but not far enough.  Words are a way to get to that big blank high thing we all have in us, call it love, or understanding, or other things we might be embarrassed to admit, sitting close to the living fire within that leads us on.

So is there the stuff that lies under all of mature Chekhov, and probably immature Chekhov as well, the deeper empathy, compassion, spiritual sentiment, love, that lies under the religious system.  Yes, the barroom is full of conflated wine-tweeked moments where egos come out, but...  That literary curiosity would even go there to such a story-lineless idle place...

An act of understanding, literary and worded, must invoke the inner world of the soul equally, go beyond the specifics and the explicit.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

"Nature abhors a garden," my father would say.  Weeds.  Encroaching vines, errant invasive species...  Humbly I think of Chekhov on the topic.  "The Black Monk" begins with a father's garden, smudgepots keeping the fruit trees warm as a frosty night falls, introducing us to the theme that will involve the daughter and the visiting student who will fall in love before he goes mad with the hallucination brought on by his illness, leading all to ruin.  A great theme rises up and takes Chekhov upon his mature explorations, "Ward no. 6," "My Life," with a confidence he cannot err from, in which he does no wrong.

I wonder if there is not some rule of physics governing barrooms and the like, perhaps similar to nature and the garden.  Something like Newton's laws of equal and opposite reaction.  If there is a good thing, a flower of a visit, a good conversation, inevitably it is visited upon by weeds and overdoing.  One cannot stop things of a barroom just as they are when they are going well and encase them in glass.  Beauty brought together in time, in the moment of wine's relaxing powers, will, if dragged out, begin to rot, and then it's time for everyone to go home.  The lasting beauty is in the longer term relationships, of give and take, that occur organically over periods of time.

But there is, of course, worth mentioning, the lasting beauty of the story itself, in all stories, but perhaps particularly in the almost shy understatement of Chekhov who does not overwhelm us, who leads our eye beyond to mysteries greater than the ones that seem to be directly before us, sometimes in areas of a story that are under-told.  What plots he has are often hidden, leading the reader to gaze at meanings beyond the normal ken of understanding, often with the element of ambiguity allowing a suspension from our usual set terms and moral judgments, etc.  These beautiful elements of Chekhov, like the schoolboy who must cross The Steppe to go off to school, like the pioneering doctor whose story is barely told as wives and artistes dally about in the social set, gently emanate, coming in from off the radar almost.

Chekhov tells us something about great storytelling, and makes us think of all kinds of story telling, political and otherwise.  One might prefer the subtlety, the laid-back quality of Lincoln, to a more self-righteous kind.  And subtlety, our abilities for it, represents the highest of our intelligence, though sometimes enabling louder voices less high come and tell cruder versions.

Carver is a disciple of Chekhov, often aped for his spare language, his middle class curiosity.  His gift is to not be overbearing, even when he sometimes is, to let things appear off scene.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

It's one of those nights, called into work, at two, just as I wake from a nap brought on by getting up early and walking in the woods, as if to prove that some sort of decision must be made.  Saturday night.  I end up closing.  Get home, lay down on the couch in darkness, feet up, not quite falling asleep, and then I'm more awake, enough to lick wounds, want a shower, and just feel like shit about everything.  Howard University PBS has a good show about a musical instrument shop in Lansing, Michigan, "Elderly Instruments," home of guitars, pedal steels, banjos, ukelele, mandolins, amps, picks, guitar players.  Stuff I do get a bug for late at night, thinking I need a Gretsch Country Gentleman or a Gibson J-45.

I would prefer to just go off to bed, and sleep, but it appears I need that time to process, to chew with the teeth of my mind and nervous system the events of one more episode of my bartending life.  The boss asks me if I'd like a shift at the new restaurant, which is going to start quickly and soon.  The thought of which makes it all the more painfully obvious that I am in a particular business, not a member of the ideal Socratic academy of great thinkers, but one who is part of a team humping it out on a Saturday night to a full restaurant.

What can I do but pull out my D 28 and pluck out a few lines from Ashokin Farewell.  It helps process, along with a glass of Langhe Rosso, Italian wine to chase away a night of serving French, and even pouring it over an ice cube.  Outside the crickets still, in seamless grassy sounds like grapefruit essence rises over Sauvignon Blanc, though one can never really picture the thousand insects who come out of exquisite hiding to make such night sounds, as if joined by the tiny frogs or toads that climb trees to peep.  Every creature makes a sound appropriate to it, the quiet whale, so discreet but playful and deep, the Adirondack spruce of a guitar's sound too, the chirp of a juvenile cheetah calling for her mom.

The wine helps a dejected spirit, who shouldn't complain, but whose Monday came on one day early.

And still, Dostoevsky hates electric light, and wouldn't like much the backlit screen either, except that it makes things easy, but by making them easy, making them difficult, robbing paper of a soulful natural sound, but still a venting place for warm sweat dried misery of a professional life out of control.

Friday, October 4, 2013

No one had ever written about it before, from what I could tell, about the proverbial Fall From Grace With God that is falling into the job of tending bar.  There wasn't much exciting to write about, mild antics, an off-running of humor coming from serious people who knew they could now not leave the seriousness of their lives and jobs, having been schooled to know not to take their eyes off the ball, alcohol-filled gatherings spilling out onto a night, a crowd coming late for some fun.  Reason enough why bartenders avert their eyes from what's in front of them, looking off to duties on the sides or down into coolers, if not turning their backs to the drinking crowd getting toasty to polish a bottle, why mirrors are put in bars.  I can only think of Dostoevsky, who wrote a fine book about his years in a Siberian penal colony.  And I think of him and his habit of how he liked the quiet of night to write, despised electric lights, wrote by candlelight, rolled cigarettes that he was not allowed to smoke as he thought out what he wanted to put down, sketching on his margins drawings that show he was no slouch as an artist.  The calmness and quiet brought by the night to the city of St. Petersburg did him well and let him do the work that he, being noble and educated and self-disciplined, thought he was put on earth to do.

It seemed to me the main thing were not the particulars, that of individuals and behavior, of the rituals of relaxing, unwinding, dating, simple dining and conversation, but the constant tension that went on in my own head, probably for the most part with dignified secrecy, as I wondered what I was doing with my life and what I should be doing.  This is the modern selfishness or Narcissism, but also a part of the process of dealing with that very scary thing of how we must make a living and be part of a profession, so that we don't end up homeless and starving, one thing going bad after another such that we find our books and our guitar and our clothes and other impedimenta out in the street, as there is never really any back-up in life that we do not make for ourselves.  And this involves whatever we might scrape together for ourselves by way of pension or real estate and retirement plans, and I, pushing fifty, found myself, while not completely unhappy with the stimulation and company and human touch of my job amongst regular people, with little reason to feel comfortable, and knowing that, in fact, it might all end tomorrow.

Plan B, of course.  But what is that?  What does that mean for me, when theoretically I am a writer, one who grew up so steeped in liberal arts as to, like old Fyodor, find purpose in doing such?  There's always grad school, but when you close a restaurant four nights a week after hustling over a fairly large territory of service and have many friends and acquaintances to talk to and taste wine with, I found, or find, myself with very little energy left over to even think about such things as graduate school and library science, an MFA in poetry, and even teaching prep school would require such a massive shift as to lead me to not know where to begin.  Writing, like serving wine and talking to people, was a duty, a cross between noble savage and noblesse oblige, and the reason people rightly get starry eyed when talking about the nobility of wild animals such as the cheetah or the domesticated feline or the dog, creatures just as smart as you and I but without the wordy parts, such at we, the human creature, rightly despise those who do not take up words and public chatter without a great humility and a sadness that such is necessary.

(Which is why I find myself disliking from what I've seen on television tonight not so much Newt Gingrich himself but his enabled habit of talking about things the rest of us have difficulty understanding, a kind of plotting, calculated, as I suppose we all must be when we realize, selfishly, the things at stake.  I'll take Lincoln any day, to Gingrich's Steven Douglas.  And the news people, many of them, reveal their distraction as they fill our spaces as if reality now were endless filled aisles full of cheap bargains at Home Depot or Lowes, the same cheaply manufactured door knob that will last a while, with little aesthetic value, stamped out, no work of art.  The news filling us up with stuff and emotions we do not need...  the delivery of the trite.  And no one seems to be able to state simply that putting people out of work and depriving the poor day by day is spiritually wrong.)

In the daylight of a day off, rising past two, it feels like a deep hole I cannot get out of, week after week, flying by me.  But then, if I got out of the whole, what would the alternative be?  Did I fall into this pit, this miserable routine of drinking wine alone at night, then waking late, out of thinking too much about the spiritual aspect of humanity?  Such that I would then become a prodigal son?  How could I have ended up so, quietly doing my job reasonably well, graciously even, without great complaint, but finding myself haunted by some misery I cannot put a finger on, involving how I am not a great provider.  Where did I become troubled, veering off the path, I ask, scratching my head as I drink green tea, bits of dreams remembered.  A day off and the clock is already ticking, and I have little idea of what to do with myself but go for a walk outdoors, down in the woods, before going grocery shopping, by bike or on foot.  Years go by and I get no where;  that's what we all say to each other in the restaurant business.

And yet, the community a neighborhood bar can offer, is of spiritual service, filling a gap, with some compassion, bringing people together, letting them speak their minds, and I have not much channeled this into personal profit, but rather what I take to be some form of good deed, even as I'm sure there is skepticism about all that, often my own.  It does cost money to go to divinity school, I don't believe in celibacy, and the rewards for such paths might not be any greater than those of my present toils.

That's the problem with the world, it's worldliness, as the Pope makes light of recently on a visit to Assisi.  And the problem personally, is that some brains are less inclined toward that worldliness, more toward love and faith and a peculiar sense of human struggle.  If you aren't trained to of a particular faith, but amenable to religious thought in general, if you're not a knee-jerk believer in accepted tales, I guess you end up reaching out for such things.  First, you love people, even as they are caught in worldliness, and a greater unselfish spiritual love comes forward.  How do you recognize that within?  How do you bring such a general faith along?

Inclined toward writing, inclined to explore a way of making a living out of it, I wish that I did care to inventory the worldliness of the world.  But I never feel inclined to do that without boredom setting in.  It is by some faith that we must look elsewhere to solve our real problems, even as such a thing might seem irresponsible.  (This is the problem of a lot of education today.)  For one must love things out of spirit, not practicality, not by a marketplace.  At least then you'll find answers to questions, know that we all suffer and need love and need to give it.  Then maybe I might see, better, happier, that it was a lack of worldly intention that I fell in to the crowd and the bars, not that I would or will ever be a Francis amongst lepers, a Mother Theresa.

The world's problems are depressing and confusing, too much for shrewder more clever people who like comfort.  And the core of a bartender's task, to me anyway, is not the pleasure that leads to misery, but to the spiritual presence that is clean and free of selfish motive and the stuff that clogs the mind.  Then, I think, you come to understand your acts, put them into a form that has some shape, gather then into some overall sense, and that would reinforce you as you must go on.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

I liked the restaurant business more or less immediately because of the teamwork.  People working together.  A democratic equality.  Friendship that went beyond a shift and the drink after.  I'm here because you're here.  If we offered judgment on people it was because they were assholes to us, self-important, and we cut slack for for a lot of them, because they suffered the same things we suffered from, and there was a great spirit of generosity, a buzz that happens.

What would a shrink say about Chekov, or about Lincoln?  How, to what extent, did they seek, or were they so familiar and use to such situations that they had little other natural choice to make but go along with complexity, the acceptance of the great unclarity we all ultimately live under?  Did they seek complex situations to live in in order to feel a simple satisfaction, an engagement in life as it is?  Chekhov had a love of material.  His stories are the crowning accomplishment of his depth, of his embrace of all the stuff of life, the things that do not make it into the commercial's happiness.  His best stories are personal, close to memoir.

A comfort level, by being accustomed.  A sense of humor.  Wisdom.  Familiarity with a place where things are learned, written about, studied, the humanity of political thought formulated.

I liked tending bar.  I did it for me.  It made me feel alive.  (This is where Breaking Bad is a good television event.)  It gave me a sense of the constant shifting story of life.  I started as a busboy.  I served beer and margaritas and shots of tequila, along with tacos, burritos, enchiladas, queso, chili, nachos, chicken wings.  And then later, after a lot of that, I made it into wine, honestly enough.

One of the good things was the jazz.  And the musicians sensed in some creaturely organic level that I appreciated them.  I cared about where songs came from.  I loved the people who could bring them across, the songs.  I loved the sounds of the guitars, the drums, the cymbals stroked with brushes.  I loved the beat.

Somewhere along the line, when given the Friday effect, the chance to reflect, you see that you turned into the person you wanted to be.  There you are, and the lady singer comes up to me and thanks me.  You get, better than an important tv news journalist, the little stuff, more than you would otherwise get. You get the Chekhovian, the sweet sadness that is in everyone.  Like the nice person whose husband has just passed away, who, understanding history speaks of how. before the digital ends, saints used to thoughtfully walk the earth.  And you are the person there to listen to such things, as no one else, certainly not professionally, really is.

Some teachers are good.  Some less so, in that they don't provide you a model to always enable, let, you be a teacher yourself.   They seem to blame the system.  "Well, if you want a PhD. you gotta be like this..." but they don't help you face life.  The good ones do.