Friday, December 23, 2016


A friend posts a little piece about Marina Abramovic, ( her new book about making art, emphasizing the importance of artist things like silence, isolation, fearlessness.

Artists are born, I suppose.  They have the innate reaction for the silence, the watching of natural things, experiences of the world around them, stars, streams, moon, sky...  They know the processes of fearlessness, the artist's ways and habits.

But there is fear, of course there is, heavy enough to leave you anxious about everything, falling into a pattern.  Making art assuages that.  The activity brings one back to the purpose, when bravery deteriorates, returns one to simplicity. 

In a  practical striving town of high achievers, the self-comparisons can be difficult.  A sense of shame, to be avoided.

If one worries too much about the reaction others might have to art, then he is underestimating the human capacity to understand, to get the art.   Do other people always get it when you assume the mantle of artistry?  Can they accept your own unique effort, your own special blend, your unique metier?  Will they place you somewhere uncomfortable to you in their own schema of what kind of person you are, at the margins, even as you are a good friend to many people, genuine as anyone?  Credit you deserve for doing the hard work which lets you stay in the game of art, even as it threatens to take over, the time for art, for the normal healthy personal relationships we all need.

PBS show, a timely reminder, Van Gogh's Ear, how hard, in extreme cases, it can be.

In rendering art, in allowing it before people, it probably helps if you don't care about the reaction you might get, if you no longer feel you have to pussy foot politely, fearing something like being shouted down.

Maybe it's helpful to remember, that even if his art had been lost, Van Gogh's letters would be enough, perhaps of equal import.

The beast is nervous tending, anxiousness curbed only through physical effort (and exercise) and through the digestions that making art allows.  

There are people who get Van Gogh.  Good for them and their deep kindness.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

What brings me before this screen...

Write what you know.  That's why I wrote that book, a good friend points out.  I know that I am unable to put her out of my mind, I know I made a lot of mistakes back then, and I know the thoughts of those mistakes come to me steadily, in timely ways, and around Christmastime.  Yes, it was my own lack of confidence;  she was right about that in a lot of ways.  And yet, I resist, because the conventional wisdom does not quite go round the whole picture.  What else was eating at me then...  some sort of stubborn Capricorn thing, and I do believe in the influence of the stars upon us, upon wine as well for that matter.

The fates.  People talk like there are actions, that it's not all to be looked at fatalistically, but I do not know those ways, but rather have an instinct to ride things out, and hopefully be sensitive enough when the moods of people and things change, or open.  It's very hard to be serious  Easier to make light of things, be a comedian, sing like a song and dance man, an entertainer, keeping it light.

What can you say when you would send a book, a written work, to such a person, such a situation.   A Christmas card full of one's own errors, of human conditions.  It comes as a solace when a therapist tells you that at 21 you're still a child, that only by the mid to late twenties does the brain come into mature form.  By that time I was already out working, the dreary sort of job that keeps you in motion, keeps your mind from your own problems and sadnesses with its demand for you to be in the present moment.  Else you'd be zombied out by the thoughts of all the good activities you missed and how even showing up to work you're not fixing anything, but still going down the same foolish path as if it were an illness you could not shake, a state of brain chemistry.

I do yoga now and meditate.  My patience and goodness are largely wasted, but in the blank form of hospitality.

This writing won't do it, it won't fix a thing.  But still, you have to have faith even in the smallest effort, if that's all you can get to, dreary as it may be.  An exercise to go through.   Keep at it, and there will be better days ahead.

And on a cold night there will be some spiritual book to take some interest and solace in, or a way to take good care of the self, through nutrition or otherwise, or perhaps some thought on the purpose of writing in one's own non-commercial way.

One of those little blurbs you find on Facebook, Capricorns put on a brave face.  Bold literary experiments gone awry.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Sketches category:

I got back to town after visiting my mom, the drive down, eight and a half hours, straight to work, good thing I stopped for my ritual double quarter pounder below Harrisburg, topping off the tank for the last stretch, traffic heavy in Frederick, the Beltway, River, Mass. Ave., Wisconsin, parked in the lot across from the Gaul, came in, fifteen minutes before the door opened, Christmas lights to great me, the cooler a disorganized mess of questionable stocking (not a single soda water left), get dressed, and then they're on me right at 5:30 while the downstairs guys stand around oblivious, leaning on the cooler, and as I get through my shift and finally done with it around 1, despite being a good host, the inappropriateness of my doing such a job, and how it ties into my psychology, the good unquestioning foot soldier, the one who has a hard time asking for the very basic things of an emotionally supportive life, though of course the customers are, in their own way, to their abilities and to their own adult responsibilities and attention spans for such people as I, helpful, and the busboy is good, even left to dangle as I am tonight, with the wine tasting, the twelve mom's in the back room, the bar full, regulars... the entertainer.

But yes, really, what am I doing here in glorified lackey land, the educated educator manqué, who does not now how to fit in, and again, getting ready for work.

And the recurring memory, to exorcise or exercise, of the pretty hostess from Chicago, many years ago, waking next to her after a Friday night shift, and having to go in to do the hard long Saturday brunch turnaround, she whispers, push, and my wildest fantasies are coming along, but the clock is ticking, and after only a brief little while, I have to go off dutifully to that lousy shift, people on you from the door opening til the relief...  The older guy, coming in for "coffee," but in addition, an "elmer," meaning Budweiser, and soon enough, "a 'dura," a shot of Herradura tequila, up at the bar, while the families and nice couples go past, down the step into the dining room.  And all the years I wasted there, the original Austin Grill.  What a lovely person she was, but I messed that up too.

What do I want, what are my needs...  What did I want to become?  I wanted to be a writer, sure, but how do you do that?  How do you do that, but by writing?

I liked the people, I liked the socializing, but to the heart, it was visible, "I don't want to be doing this."  I don't know how else to put it.  I wanted a scholarly life.  Sure, some exposure to humanity, but not the full on, do this particular job to try to eke out a living.  Was it that I felt bad for all those people who sat at the bar, publicans, sinners, drinkers, gluttons, working people as we all must work, the addicted, those lacking in faith and a sense of God's love for His creatures, in need of comfort.  And if I quit, having had to, burned by being too close to the fire, I'd then become a voice of reason.  Calm in the storm.  Of faith.

And simultaneous, you realize your own susceptibility to the problem of a physiology set-up for the disease that is manifested by drinking and cured through sobriety and proper nutrition.  And only you yourself can do this for you.  But after being taken as a wine expert, professionally, where does that leave you, you ask yourself.   What would I do for money, for a living?  How would all this not be construed as a major error on my own part.

You want to get down to work, but what work?

It wasn't all necessarily me.  The job, in other words.  A poor choice in a profession.

After which, you want to hide out.  Meditate.  Privacy.  A sense of shame.

It hurts, not having a social life, waiting on people.  What they say about waiters is that they are not living their own lives, as if they weren't trying.  And this may be true, in many ways.

And Christmas time, when you think you'd grow closer to meaning, accepting the job, more meaningless, more an absolute waste it appears to be.

Another sketch:

writing, the dirty sport...

It's late, it's raining, it's the end of a Sunday night, and one heads to the Safeway, for protein and supplies.  Epsom salts, mozzarella of different kinds at a good price.  1 AM, busy at work from the start, set up what one could.  In the aisles, brightly lit.

Through checkout, the gentleman at lane seven counter, put your selections on the conveyer belt, put in your phone number, he scans the bar codes, then back out into the rain, just above a mist barely, enough to make you wet.  A DC Police small SUV up ahead, an officer with someone, backing the guy under the awning of a men's clothing shop good value chain store.  And the guy has been beaten up, in a way one has not seen, this is not movie make-up, black eye, scratched, bruised, bloody, puffy, there, seen in a quick glance.  The guy stands there, oh well, just another day.  He's homeless, looks like, once decently bred, and now out in the night, beaten up, standing there, now oblivious to his own fate.  Brutal scabbed wounds, and he's just standing there, as it shrug, that's life.  His clothes, his cooperation with the police officer.

One gets the groceries back to the shop.  Prepares for the final leg back to the apartment.

That scene from Last Tango, Brando, in the news.  Even as a kid, even thirty years old and a kid still in a lot of ways, there was that deep gut reaction, this is fucked up.  The gut, this is very wrong, look at her reaction.  Very wrong, very weird, very unhappy, very sad.  Even a dumb kid, never seen it before, not coached in anyway, if anything coached to see the film as a work of art all the way up the end, a lesson, Brando character dying, shot, going out onto the balcony to look at the rooftops of Paris.  Endured to the end, but that scene staying with you.

And if you came up with that, saw that, a rape in film, then maybe the rest of your reactions weren't so bad.  And that girl you met, when you were young, the one you think about, and all your mistakes
therein, well, maybe it was the same good kid, sensitive to such things, like I suppose wild animals are, hurt by slights, charmed by friendship and smile and play, but it hurts, still it hurts, all your reactions...

But all I've done in adult life, seems to have been a great mistake, following upon the ones made in college, the bad track record with a person of opposite sex of mutual like and esteem, the mistakes of misreading, of missing, of being stupid...  Very very very stupid.

From tomfoolery they build and they branch into new mistakes, opportunities already gone, fading away, until you have no life, really.  A Hamlet Buddha, a guy in a restaurant.

Kabir's poem speaks to the deeper reality.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Sitting out in the sunlight I suddenly become aware of my own lack of sensitivity unto myself and the inner lover the poet (Kabir) speaks of.  And how could that be, one asks, me of all people, at this age, after such a life as one thought would be conducive, as if one had been not one's own inner lover, but one's inner frat boy.

I go for a walk in the woods, along the path by the creek, and the path, the earth, is soft under foot, and the perfect amount of firmness for just this sort of a walk, the stream to be there and then described, the woods, the leaves brown and laying on the ground, having done their job of summer.  We are made of this same earth, how could we not love this same earth, and indeed not be Whitmanesque poetic lovers of the same earth and ourselves?  Have we not shunned a certain part of that self, the self the child knew when he too walked in woods and by streams long ago?

It is dusk, and one apologizes to himself, walks more, enjoys being outside, and then walks back to the small city and a bookstore where people come and go, then alone, heads home, carrying a new found knowledge, that the inner lover, eros, is the same as that spirituality one craves for in this (broken) world.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Coming up the hill, finally, late, on the old street, the bamboo thicket high and full of nests, I hear the same rustle up on the steep bank, and what would be awake at this hour, besides me, or a cat, a possum, or a raccoon, is a fox, up there, by the chain link fence line that runs along downhill on the  backside of the old S street mansions of the Chinese and Lao embassies obscured by the trees above the narrow one-way street.

I turn my bike helmet headlamp to follow the fox up on the bank, and up there, is the fox, red, the long tail.  Above me the fox stops and freezes, before the street lamp, the light showing the leaves fallen on the steep ivy bank, dry and browned on the trees.  Its eyes shine back into the headlamp reflecting light.  It is red, indeed, furry, accents of white, dark down toward its paw, the tail out straight, and then it moves forward and up into the bush, the bamboo and a break in the fence, disappearing into the darkness.

I remember her, after she'd gotten mad at me, rejecting, over the phone, she wore a fatigue jacket, like Taxi Driver, there in the dining hall, and it was, I had the impression, she had a sense of just where I was, eating my dinner with friends but bummed out.  She stood up by the salad bar, and her hair was movie star.  And like she could spot me out, knew just where I was, how I felt, how I wanted to see her.  And she showed up, which made me very happy, though I did not make any move to capitalize or use that recourses when she had been rough with me.  Her little tribute to my effort.  She was alone.  Her indirect look a direct beam at me over the heads of seated dining hall conversation.

The Cranes are Flying, 1957, a Russian film--he goes off to war without being able to say a proper goodbye to his girlfriend lover--is on the television when I get home, and I ride the bike indoors, rolling away, absorbed, wanting to turn away from the inevitability of the storyline.  They start young, happy, in love, beautiful.

My friends have shared with me a poem, a very old poem, by Kabir, in talking to me.  She refers to it is The Radiance, by its topic.  The poet left it untitled and it can be found at Poets.Org, translated by Robert Bly, by the first line, "I talk to my inner lover, and I say, why such a rush?"  It's a short poem, and the lines stick with you.  "The truth is you turned away yourself, and decided to go into the darkness alone."

A day off comes, I pull out my notepad, and write, just for myself.

In some ways I had a hard time feeling good about myself.  I wrote about them, but that may just have increased the pattern of sad thoughts in a feedback loop, greatly repeated.  A seemingly harsh word, misread, not all that harsh perhaps, but internalized.  That had not been my intention.  Writing is supposed to be, and is, cathartic, helpful.  As if you're trying to figure something out, and can only do by writing it out on paper, to read and then understand.

But there is that radiance the poem speaks about.   And of this, one is an 'inner lover,' strange as that sounds.  Having an intimate relationship with that radiance, that radiance glossed over, ignored, mistreated by the world.

Was Sherwood Anderson writing something about that in his introduction to Winesburg, Ohio and in the following stories, the inner armored Joan of Arc within the old writer who is friends with an old carpenter?

It is a radiance which does not go away, and strange that those with a decent sense of that radiance might often come to suffering in their attempts to make manifest the beauty, innocently enough, the language one speaks, private, but able to, perhaps in rare moments, convey, conveying the innocence the gentleness, the appreciation of all things, the sense of peace and all the things that loud selfish self-profiting minded people seem to neglect and can largely just ape.

The poem concludes.  "Now you are tangled up in others, and have forgotten what  you once knew,/  and that's why everything you do has some weird failure in it."   All the more reason to remember that radiance to you as you were created unique "in your mother's womb."

Thursday, November 10, 2016

It's Saturday evening, my Monday morning.  I heard them call me from downstairs and I came down and through the main dining room, always set up, always clean, orderly, the signature display plates with the golden yellow trim at each place setting, in through the swinging door to the congregation of the kitchen, brightly lit, choice of music playing on the boom box, there to my left at the window, where the entree plates come across, the staff meal.  I am hungry.  I cooked lamb merguez sausages before I came, eating one for breakfast along with green tea not long ago.   What do they have for us, pasta, rotini pasta in a stainless steel pan along with a little bowl of tomato sauce.    That's it?  You gotta be kidding me.  But yes, I've been here before, and that's going to get my stomach, and my energy, through the next seven hours.  Nothing in the way of any animal protein.

I retreat upstairs, pangs about to eat me from within, and with the time I have before the door opens--I don't have time to order carryout now--I take out my stash of the cooled sausages I just cooked an hour ago, dipping them into the tomato sauce and eating them with my hands, grainy they are.  Not so inspiring.  They were intended to be my back-up from the hunger bonk later in the evening, but I have no choice.

Later in the week, the chef comes up and sits at the bar.  "You should change this bar top, it doesn't look good."   I turn the conversation to diet and the alcoholic..   Alcohol is sugar, a very pure form.  Carbohydrates, pasta, let's say, are sugar, soon enough.  Sugar, like opium, like cocaine, like booze, gives that immediate flush in the brain of neurotransmitters.  Craving sugar, no longer a drinker, you eat the whole container of ice cream when you go home.  My grandfather always kept sweets around after he stopped.  If not pasta, if not bread, if not...  the addictive opiate quality of the modern city-settler diet, grain-fed, dough eaters, doughnut eaters, the cuteness trendiness of crispy creme and pizza paradiso and two amys, a sandwich fresh from the market and a good baguette.

To eat such things is not the sort of diet that will help the person in recovery, the recovery of getting the neurotransmitter mood back in shape.

Election  night, at the end--I had to take everything out of the cooler so that the thermostat switch could be fixed, just as I had to get in early to put all the wine and beer, etc., back in after the temporary fix from the guy who fixes such thing--it's late.  The lights are off at my brother's house.  Up on Q Street there's a massing of fire trucks and emergency vehicles in front of Kew Gardens.  Firemen are running hoses in hurriedly.  The man at the truck hooks a big sturdy tube from the front of the truck by the fender to the fire hydrant, turning the fire hydrant on, the tube swelling with water. The people who live there are out on the sidewalk, and I think of the Peggy Lee song, "Is That All There Is."

At the end of the week, on an unhappy day, a day of shock--my friend the bass player of the jazz trio that's lulled us through the night, having lived in the area his whole life remembers the shocked silence of the Cuban Missile Crisis--the boss and his wife are having a late dinner at the bar and after making a double espresso for her and sneaking away from the bar for a moment I find the Turkish cafe has closed the kitchen early, and out front, standing in front of the Chinese restaurant next door, I am three minutes late.   I come back upstairs and the boss is telling me a table needs their check.  Okay.  I sort of shrug.  Is everything on the check?  Where's F?  I shrug again.  F appears coming up the stairs with desserts in hand.  I drop off the check to the couple in the back.  I need some meat, and pick at the salami salvaged from the boss's charcuterie plate.

After closing I get back and cook ground grass-fed beef with onions in the iron skillet.

And sometimes it is very hard to avoid the feeling that the job is catching up with you, and now, at a certain age, what can you do, who would hire you, to do what, to get out of the cycle.  One got into the job thinking you'd have the time and energy to do other things, like write, like self-explorations, but then you get trapped in it, it becomes consuming.  The doors to other good things of life, many, have closed.  Though you tell yourself, to be helpful, it's not too late.

I have my diet, even if one can't always be perfect about it.  Apologies to the planet for being a meat-eater.  The Type O person cannot live on grains, and in fact, just about all the modernizations intended to feed the settled masses do not work for that digestive system.  It might be a lonely task, to follow the strictures, and I look at all the healthy young people eating the things I cannot, and I wonder, how they get away with it, and they look perfectly happy and have social lives.  My physiology, my biochemical responses, do not allow me in the omnivorous club.

I feel like Jonah sometimes, not the busboy whose name is Jonathan and comes from Cameroon, but the one of the story, who knows he is hiding from, shirking, his great spiritual responsibilities.  Meditation, spirituality in general is helpful, obviously, to ease stress and regain balance, and it's a long way away from the bar sometimes, even a fairly civilized one.  A sense of serving people the wrong thing, the wrong message.  No wonder, then, the current sense of things gone wrong, a storm of wrath upon the one hiding from his work, sneaking away from it but unable to hide.

In the story he is tossed overboard, and swallowed into darkness by a leviathan for the symbolic period of three days, and then, released he is, on dry land, to admit that he needs God's help and message.  His head is cleared.

Dostoevsky, it is said, hated electric lights.  He comes to my mind, an anxious person, prone to addiction, falling in with the wrong political crowd, the firing squad, saved from at the last minute, shipped off to Siberian prison colony work camp.  Even in his return, he is a man with a large gambling addiction.  Nervous, mindful of his brain chemistry, he wrote, meditatively, drawing in margins, at night when his home was quiet, rolling cigarettes he was not allowed by the doctor to smoke.  There, by candlelight, alone, away from the things that directly made him anxious, the peoples, the conflicts of life, the stresses and the strains, he could digest things, and probably, he needed to.

He wrote that fine fictionalized memoir of life in the prison camp, of the people he met there, all about it, and about how one day, they let him go.  He had his years of being Jonah before the ship and the storm and the creature of the deep.  As he grew, continuing on that troubled path of being a writer, perhaps some spirituality inched into his writing, cropping up here and there, amidst being fallible and human and all the things that can go wrong in life, pathetically enough, until becoming a theme, directly, as in The Brothers Karamazov.  It's there earlier, in The Idiot, if you look for it, and elsewhere I would imagine, somewhat muted behind the guise of the psychological thriller and his sense of attending courtrooms for materials that would be popular enough in the general readership to allow him to support himself.

And me, too.  I came to town, not knowing what I wanted to do, but to keep at some form of journal or writing.  I was often depressed, and by cultural habit ingrained in me, a drinker, as if that were a way of being of good cheer, and humor.   When, privately, it was probably more an attempt at self-medication.  And these, it seems to me, are my prison years, the kid working his way up from busboy, his companions offering him friendship with a caveat.  There are tales from those years, but I have not the energy or wherewithal to put them down, not having much a chance anyway with coping with the latest batch and how to deal with them all.  There are the jokes of the captives and the witty wine guys and people who've seen a lot in their years around restaurant life, Bourdain-like.  A stiff observer rather than a participant in such by nature, well, a glass of wine to loosen the nerves and ease the burden of wanting somehow to do some good for people but not knowing quite how, I fell into it my own way, wishing I was far away, back home, safe, with a life I knew, my parents, books.  Not the fallen young man once full of promise, but with an inner weakness or tendency to the neurochemistry, to the dietary needs missteps to such things as the sugars and the giddy Hamlet reaction to them, euphoric, then sinking.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Jonah was there behind the bar, putting the dirty towel bin and the trash can in place, when I came in Monday.  He's in loose athletic shorts and high tops, but well-groomed with shaved head and mustache, and he will change before the door opens.  "Hello, Sir, my strong man," he says to me, and I greet him back with the same words.  I've come to appreciate his work ethic very much, though his fastidiousness would cause him to interrupt or question me as to a better way of doing things in the course of service, and I've been a bit grumpy a few times this year, trying to, but not always rising above the moods of stress.  I turn on the power amp and put the iPod's Pandora Luigi Boccherini station on and Jonah says, thank you, sir, thank you, as the calm music comes from the surrounding speaker system above the room's panel of indirect lighting.

The furniture needed to be rearranged for jazz night set-up, and I had some stocking to do, post inventory day's low stock.  It has been the year of not having a busboy assigned to the upstairs wine bar, those nights I work by myself when anything can happen, and tonight I will have at least a conscientious busser to help me set up before he goes downstairs to be the downstairs busser, my food runner, appearing occasionally to ferry plates up from the kitchen as they are ready, as well as taking the dirty plates I will clear from the tables.  He'll bring bread up, warmed with great pride.

I ask the lady downstairs, the server, the French veteran who is taking time out to study her healing practices on a laptop at table close to the front door, not looking up, if I will have any help tonight, and my voice quavers a bit, out of a season of frustration.  That's the business, sometimes, they ask too much of you.  "Yeah, F. is coming," she says, without elaborating, going back to her studies.  Her dining room is all set up to go, but for the one table she's at, cleared of place settings.  The downstairs servers never seem to have much to do when I come in, but they answer the phone, which is something I, on the run of set-up, have no extra focus for.

I lug some mineral water up from the basement, some lemons and limes, Sancerre, soda water, fresh towels, and eventually, as the clock ticks toward 5:30 when the door opens, I proceed to, along with Jonah, start moving tables around.  The previous night there was a sixteen top back in the wine room.  The little Ukrainian server helped handle the party, taking the order, distributing the wine and the food orders to the appropriate guests, but again the shared busboy between downstairs and upstairs left us with a food runner, and because of her short reach I had to help clear the plates of each course and pour water, etc., while keeping up with the bar, more or less full, and a few other customers seated at the low tables.  At the end of her evening, as she helped out downstairs some, came back to serve the birthday cake, she asked me if there was more she could do, anything else, but I was busy handling the regulars with their own demands, and by the end of the night as Hugo, the veteran, a bull in a china shop, came up from downstairs and stormed through, demanding if I wanted the trash taken out, still having plates to clear, the back room was left unset, not even the silverware in folded napkins for the 14 place settings was done, and soon it was midnight, left alone with a plate of veal cheeks.  Alina was in the ladies room by 9 or so, and came out dressed as a genie in green and I wasn't about to stop her as she bounded out, smiling at a customer lady's happy chuckle.

I am setting up the back tables now, putting what I have set up on them, the mats, wine and water glasses, and all of this with the clock ticking, and no one of server form showing up to help me, and we are all supposed to be pooling our tips, a fair allocation of work between us all.  Finally at 5:20 the kitchen puts on the family meal, scraps of Greek style chicken that must be hunted for on the odd bones along with some rotini pasta I have to avoid and I am hungry.  "Yes, F. was called in, he had to go home and take a shower, he'll be here at 6."  Oh, you could have told me that.

The staff meals this year and the one past have not been so great at The Dying Gaul.  Often enough just pasta, and even one who knows how bad pasta is for his system, his medical condition of being a Type O, hard to resist a bowl when you're starving, stressed, and the door is about to open on a busy night and you feel you need something in your stomach.  Before one could count more on a  decent serving of animal protein.  A whole chicken cut-up would be out on a baking pan with onions and jus, meatloaf, at the least shepherd's pie.  That was the old days.  Before the new chef, who is now no longer new and indeed a good friend.

F shows up at 6, as I stand leaning against the closet door by the bar's entrance, just five minutes ago all set, even the tables dirty little sticky spots treated with a rag and windex and a light bulb changed. Just call me if you need me.

Jazz Night is never easy.  There's an extra multiplication of the things that normally go on, a condensing of too many things into not a big time slot.  The music trio persists periodically hounding me for water, and soon balancing this and that, engaged as I can be with the bar chit chat, the table checks, the credit card payments processed, are piling up in a stack below the POS screen above the cash drawer, no time really to sort things out, in the meantime putting the glass washing machine through, wiping all the glasses off inside and out.  There's a nice couple having dinner, lightly dressed for Halloween in green frog and pink pig snout, in from the Palisades, a general pleasant mood, and I get the order for the band in to not keep the kitchen along with my dinner, the hunger rising in me.  I have to get the filles du jazz dinner order in before the kitchen closes.

Jonah comes up from time to time.  He wants to completely finish up downstairs before returning to help me do the real clean-up, sweep, etc., which leaves me with more tasks to do, keeping busy.

And all the while, of course, blood sugar levels are dropping, hunger is rising, stress is rising, the tasting of wine has been celebrated all night, and everyone else is having a glass, so, eventually, jangled by the singer putting an empty glass in front of me with the implicit understanding that she needs more water, having left the pint glass I gave her before to serve that purpose on a table nearby, what are you going to do?  The immediate fix-all, looking away from it as you might try.

Sleepy eyed server, the six top canceled anyway, has stayed on 'til ten to collect his share of the weekly tip pool point.  By the time I pull my dinner plate out of the oven, it's 11:30, and after I eat, wolfing things down, there's enough to keep me busy 'til 12:45.

The next night is wine tasting night, and it's a grower blanc to blancs champagne with apple and orchard floor notes distinctly within, and I can give my line about how champagne is an existential wine, a long process of decay, and I do not particularly care for the sour notes, but that's where I guess the bubbles come in.  Acidic.  The versatile food wine.  A slow start, the wine rep has time to do her iPad tablet paper work as I entertain the arriving guests as their appearance slowly escalates.

A good job I do, a lot of knowledge I have, she tells me as she prepares to leave, having enjoyed the crowd, the possibility of a wine I had her taste being corked, which provoked my assessment that no it wasn't corked but I could see why it might mimic that mustiness.  "Has a strange woodiness," I said, and that provoked howls of laughter at one half the small bar, spreading across to the rest.  I smiled.  The Englishman is leaning in to the amiable regular couple over their wine glasses.  "Yes, I thought I'd slip that in."

But again, there's a lot of running involved, the entertainment of regulars with their regular questions and interest in what might being on on election night.  The wine that initially seemed corked I'd opened for the large party back in the room, having lugged all that up for another large group of fifteen or so, my assigned help having a day job so he won't be in til six thirty or so, the party not til 8:30 anyway, Spaniards, I pour for a regular couple enjoying the specials, a wild boar ragout and monkfish medallions.  They like it.  The Spaniards will only be seven, and they have radically changed their wine choices, talked through it by the boss, who is perfect for the job and the semblance of order, for which I am the grounding of to good extent.

The last night of my workweek, the most popular group, playing for an animated crowd, a full-house, everything reserved, even seats at the bar.  The start is slow, then the rush to seat everyone, and then later to find room for the later wave, and a new rush to close the kitchen at 9:30, not 10:00, though the musicians play their jazz til 10:00...  At one point late in service a big man comments how enjoyable it is watching me move, 'like an octopus.'  Many arms.  But it is all tiring, and by 10:15 the desire to calm the nerves and put some sugar back in the blood and fool the neurotransmitters into some form of working under less stress again, the urge to have a sip of red, and I always pick the one lowest in alcohol, is overwhelming.  A nice couple I've cultivated come up to the bar for a chat.  There are the tannat wines of Uruguay he's had, he tells me about over the cognac I've poured for him.  He's the French Alps version of Sean Connery, and his lady told me how in old Persia one who pours wine is a spiritual being.  I come clean about how I was too shy to say hi to them when I saw them two summers ago at the Pride Parade coming back from a baby shower.  They hit it off with the elder couple who sat next to them, pointing out my happiness that they were juxtaposed.  We talk about growing up out in the country side, his small village, the fun of driving uphill in the wintertime, and of her foray into Spain teaching English.

The percussionist plays a lone drum so a tipsy lady can dance belly dance style who's stayed at the bar.  The guitarists have gone home.

I'm there 'til late, struggling to clean up and restore order.  I eat my cassoulet, run a report, clock out, and go back to the landing of the wine room and lay back on a few red seat cushions to fall into an exhausted nap for a good forty minutes before rousing myself up to fill out the paper work.

The pattern of such a night, six straight attentive hours on your feet, no time to eat, the dip in blood sugar levels, the rise of stress, the craving, the glass of wine to smooth out the barman's long night, the chain reaction of released neurotransmitters that alcohol brings followed by the sudden drop of them, that's what happens every night in the restaurant.  And strangely enough, as I research the web on the link between hypoglycemia and alcoholic tendencies, the battle is won through nutrition, through not sugar or carbs but the proteins and fats, a steady intake of them.  In fact, that prescription of diet is pretty much identical to the blood type O diet, to the eat like a caveman to restore yourself, a crucial part of that being the nutrients to restore the natural balance of neurotransmitters that caffeine, sugar, stress and that pure form of sugar found in alcohol throws very much off.  Meat, animal protein, fish, eggs, vegetables, avoid the carbs.  In the rush, though, your guard down, it's hard to make room for that bite to eat, or is it that I just feel too self-conscious about everything.

The first day off I have no energy, none, don't want to do anything.  Good thing the refrigerator has some decent nutrition to offer, sliced organic turkey breast, the bit of bolognese meat stashed away from a previous staff meal, lamb sausages if I'm up for cooking them.  I'm a couch potato all day after calling my mom to check in, napping in and out.  It's not until late that I rise with energy to take the trash out and do a load of laundry.  But this is boring stuff, the dishes you accumulate, and there is some good wine still in the fridge, and the late hours are after all that nice to have to yourself and the last crickets.  But again, this is not a good habit for the animal with Type O blood trying to take care.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

... But in the very nature of the business there was always something that, usually around the end of dinner service, put you over the edge, into the craving of the nervous system and the need for a quick fix of calories, and so you reached for the Beaujolais, and along came all the consequences of physiology.

The server, who would leave earlier than I anyway, was nowhere to be seen when the large party in the wine bar, who were switching seats left and right, as is their culture, wished to order to dessert and coffee.  So I took the order.  In my meantime my veal cheeks had come up, as I waited on the entrees for the last dinner order, a famous wine importer from Palm Beach with his young lady friend.  There was wine that the large party hadn't finished, and I wanted them to take the remains.  The two guys with the bottle of Ventoux at eight past ten, kitchen closing, want a charcuterie.  I order, politely, hoping the kitchen will not be angry with me, and then, I'm tweaked.  I slump in the corner over a cold merguez sausage...

The guy in the corner knows me as a friend, another couple comes in wanting wine, and I am in for it again.  He's a good loyal customer, on a date, she's nice, they like wine, I pour them a few sips of this and that, since they've finished the bottle of pinot noir.  I beg off joining them for a good long time, but, but...   The couple at the bar--they are entertaining actually, nice and respectful as well--pay their tab, appreciatively and depart down the stairs and into the night, and things at the bar have been put back in some order, so, yeah, I go over and sit with the couple for a while.  She does elderly care.  I let the guy pour me a bit of the organic Languedoc wine Stefan Defot brought us;  it's higher in alcohol content, 13%, which for me is a big knock about 12%, but, I have to admit, it goes down easy, and then I go back, let them finish up, and I continue my clean-up.

I eat, the veal cheeks, devouring them, over the vegetable du jour, though the pasta would have filled me up better, but leaving I'm still starving, so then up the street for a gyro to take home, and I wolf that down, the bread and the fries I try to avoid once back safe.

But the cycle has been initiated.  I wake up with heart racing, the sweats again, my central nervous system in need of the sugar water I've soothed it with.  I need  a good deal more rest, and then it will be off to work for Sunday night.

Which I make it through, even though the late arrivals, after four straight busy hours of dinner service and a full bar, people to entertain, familiar regulars, just when the bar clears out, the late arrivals are enough to make me nervous, partly for who, out of experience, might join them to cavalier the hard working barman's away from his exhausted attempts to restore order at his bar.  Again, I'm slumped over in the corner, after a tomato juice, eating a merguez sausage like a hotdog over Ezekial bread, having bonked already.  And when you bonk, you bonk, and there's no turning back.

The next day, around noon, I walk slowly back home from my therapist softly saying Our Father Who art in Heaven to myself.   "Depart from me, oh Lord, for I am a sinful man," Peter tells the Lord coming to his fishing boat.  In French, the words for fisherman and sinner are close, on the verge of sounding alike to the student.  And I wonder, as we all know, from our inner Augustines, the sins are many, many, legion like the miraculous draft of fish somehow related to them.  And the forgiving of our sins is maybe the only way around them, to admit one's own deep weakness, the physiological craving.  Health can be restored only through faith, the best way to treat such things as the bartender's weakness, his stumble and fall at the end of night charged with a lot of running around.

Monday, October 3, 2016

The type A senior economist and the type B expert in matters of the world as it is, holes in the walls to go to in Sardinia and Corsica, have left, and that leaves three, and knowing them, I ask, or say, as they have empathy, I bet you have type O blood.  And they nod, and say, yes, they do.  "why?"  Oh, just a hunch.

They look at me, and I say, well...  And I think of John F. Kennedy, and other things about how a person might go about conducting health of the good sort, say, 'you need aerobic activity, and that's just what you're doing with those dance classes...'

I tell them about him, as he's a sort of poster boy, man, with all the issues.  I tell these last people about this, because, well, it's my job, if viewed archaically., not that anyone gives a real ....  about this aspect of a job which will never show up on tax returns or the basic corporate model of how the modern serf must behave  in order to fit in.

Jack.  His pains.  All the inflammatory issues.  Guts.  Joints.  The adrenal factor, as Irish people need their seaweed, as well as their barrooms in this the modern world.

I mean, look at him.  As someone said, watching him walk a parade as the young skinny congressman back in Boston, 'look, he's a purebred,' or a thoroughbred, and this was true.  He had all the gifts, an upright spine, a way of being in the tribe, animal magnetism.

And the bravery, to deal with all that pain.  The eroding spine, from the medications to treat his adrenal deficiency.  That operation, fusing vertebrae, he lives with pain the rest of his life, after that, so he could walk.  Gut issues, before the whole understanding of the benefits of a break from glutens and wheat, hybridized, the standard american diet, different from every town in Europe in which there is a market, fresh produce and whatnot, at least two days a week.

There the guys impossible gifts, his adaptable agile ability, thanks to voice lessons, and training, and the basic fact of being thrown out there to do it, to be a politician, as he did so in the true sense, mastering issues, and travel, and all matter of things, well, he became himself, gifted handsome guy.

But there is still the pain, all that which was put upon him largely through medical treatments of all the issues that are basic endemic issues of anyone who walks around with type O blood in their veins and every cell.  His voice lives on, great voice, great speeches, great humor, a great Irishman.

The guy had guts, when you see him walk into, upright, back brace holding him together, pelvis, lower back, into the old place of press conference, (before Nixon filled the old white house swimming pool with bricks), an auditorium in the State Department building, just above the Lincoln Memorial and several other buildings.  Standing upright,just to get there boldly, and field questions as a was a certain joy for him to d, livening him, and the rest of us.

The morbid pictures of him, one wonders, is he still there, where did he go, so vital he was.

People nod, one is taking medicine for thyroid issues, one is a sailor, one works out and fasts, on and on, and all this is true if you, like I, are type O.

(Thank you, Ingrid, by the way, for turning me on to the whole theory and explanation.)

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The trip to the Hamptons, collecting my mom in Penn Station after her long early morning drive over changing roads to the Syracuse train station and then the long ride along the Mohawk and down the Hudson, arriving an hour late, the taxi stand on northbound 8th Avenue hot and slow, to the Jitney with a revised reservation for the 6 PM, through that city where I would have wanted to live, where people of odd talents might find a place, a cubbyhole.

The pleasant visit, a two night stay before going back.  Asked to, while clams are grilled, I bring in two pieces of the swimsuit improvised for mom, and when I place them in the guest room and then the upstairs laundry chute, there's a tiny wolf spider looking up at me from the hairs of my tanned left forearm, a hopping spider, considerate of direction, rotating to get a better sense of its place, to escort back outside, fine where it is for this brief moment of wild animal (insect) handling, in which I am, I know, in no danger, and nor is anyone else.  Possums eat ticks and mosquitoes, and spiders such as this have their own place, benevolently, not like they play with poisons or matches outside your backdoor intent on violation and siege, nor are they dumbly aggressive out of self-protection.

So I walk back the stairs in through the big living room, talking, or thinking of it, quietly to the spider, an old friend from a winter kitchen not that long ago.  How many eyes do you have, actually, my friend.  Well, I guess we'd better go back outside the way things are such in here.

What's that you've got on your arm ?  A tick?

No.  Just a little spider.  Harmless.

Just   Kill   the spider.

I'm on my way out the door, though the spider attempts a quick strand to parachute away, though I regather, moving forward, spider pulling in back to the golden hairs on my hairy arm, a forest of bent-over bamboo or natural wicker.

The spider is not a problem at all.  In the cold season a spider exactly alike has stood on a wall by the refrigerator of an apartment, at eye level, raising his/her front legs, and eyes up, to look up in a salute to conversation, and the conversation was close, mutually interesting, I would imagine, perfectly peaceful, my house is yours, neither afraid in the slightest.  No thoughts of flattening a living being into a squashed state of death.

I come back in.

Where's the spider?

He agreed to go on his own way, no problem, friendly arrangement.  Off he went.  Off'a, one of those lounge chairs...

And then getting up early, back to New York, to get mom to her train, and myself back to DC for a quiet Sunday night shift.

But this is all just to pose a thought, a sort of questioning one, a what if.  And what if, in town, a really kind person showed up.  Not asking anybody for anything, doing his or her work, and just, as might be impossible in certain places, just being kind, in a kind, quiet, unobtrusive way, as if a fellow human being could appear kind of as a bird, a sighting that instinctively and automatically reminds us, brings us, of and to nature, the glimpse of an originality, an unexpected thing that is one of the trademarks of a species, like the call of an own or a mourning dove, or the flap of a crow pulling up like a fast descending helicopter of war upon a robin's perch with nest.  (Crows are magnificent as well, friends almost.)

What if there were that kind person, a fellow or a gal who'd come in from a long ways away, a unique place with its own character, not just another big city in the world or a popular mall, ambitious, visited.  Far away.  Maybe even from somewhere a good portion of it made up in his own mind, his own thoughts to what reality is.

That person who steers the bike wide to let a young lady come up the parked cars on a  quiet street below Oak Hill Cemetery.  I turn my lamp down to the ground, and she smiles at me, and one sees another, the great phenomenon, the treasure of another human being.  She's pretty and elegant in her black dress set for a lovely evening, and I got to get back and unload the groceries in my courier bag, things to do, before heading back into work tomorrow.
'Crazy to bring flowers to a beautiful girl,' I said, and it wasn't a bad line, and decently delivered.  That made it the second time I'd brought her flowers at the end of a school year, and the second time she'd rejected them.  "Hide them," she'd said the first time, and then "you're crazy," the second time.  And each time I left.

We all want to move on.  Most definitely.  But there's a literary quality to the things we say, and consciously or not, to varying extents, we enter in a literary game with other people to the extent that we and they are in some way literary.  Literary people tickle us, whether they know us to be literary or not ourselves, a lot of this being necessarily masked and below the surface, as real truths often are, what can you do.

But once you've seen it, real and true, in another person, thereby an attractive person, is there any reality greater?  Other friendships hold, and save us from the loneliness of night and other hazard times, but it those literary relationships that hold sway over our imaginations, that light our brains and body's senses, our memories of worded chess games when both were on the same side and somehow then lost each other in the non-literary world's symbolic darkness.

I put it in a book, towards the end.  I'd be stuck for years rendering the same line to myself, just occurring as it would, naturally, beyond my control, vain to try not to.  Absorb.  Take in nature, let years pass, and then more years, then more, and try to be, more than you'd have wanted to, a better person, though being 'a better person' is fraught with perils of living in unrealities.

You're left with your sketchbook.  You're left remembering that there is this literary quality of life, and like nature, a melting arctic, dying trees, you would want to protect that.  They've always done so in the past, what with all those writer peoples, Chekhovs and Joyces, so many examples I can not even expound nor name, Keats, Wordsworth, Twain, and all those I've not personally read, or gotten past the first try.  There is, though, the defense of the literary mode of the ape human mind, that mode of Shakespeare, anthropologist through his own prism that he was, the ear the natural vetting ground for any thought that might take to words and imaginative flight.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Leaving the Hamptons on the Jitney, heading to Manhattan to connect at Penn Station to the Northeast Regional, back to DC.  "Life has passed me by," the thought in my mind to be meditated over, as I slump low in my seat on the shaded side of a full train, having lost the pretty girl in white with a low cut dress and tattoo hidden on her inner ankle in her low boot-like shoe in the scrum of getting to the right gate piled up like fish trying to get through,  The Bhagavad Gita doing me no good.

Back to the bar, to work a Saturday night, I calmly patiently wait on everyone, put on my little act of French service, it's a quiet night, I'm left to close, and when the bar clears out, I run next door to the Chinese to order a late dinner before they close too.  Empty quiet night, hardly a passer by on the street, but for cars that go by, going somewhere, some speeding, some not.  And when I come back, there's a guy from the kitchen sitting at the bar, his long arms spread out, waiting for me.    The young pastry chef joins him.  He starts talking non-stop, sounding troubled.  He talks about the fights with his wife and his year and a half old son, other problems that came about when he didn't exercise when he was a kid and they moved to Paris from the countryside.  He is not unobservant to psychological aspects of people's lives.

Ah, New York, the style, the people, the energy, the clear air, the literary quality, its very presence...  College funnels you in that direction, and you make a mistake if you don't go there, and now, at my age, and income level, far too late.  I walk past the multitude of ghosts of actor friends and publishing worlds, editors, writers I could help, friends to make, interesting people, women I'd love to have dated, places where I could have fit in, stories to tell, ones that don't grow in the angry hierarchy of DC where one is left to martyr it out.  The Empire State building towers above, and there are tour guides everywhere as well as people who want their services and I wonder why it is that I cannot stop too.

Doctor, there I am again, by the sidelines of the football game, homecoming, and she's sitting there, and one of her roommates passes on through one of my friends that I was her boyfriend the previous year, except she was rather harsh and abrupt when I called her the night before.  My friends Jeffrey and Randy, I follow them as they go to smoke some weed and I reluctantly half-heartedly take a hit, and then I go back and stand by the cinder running track, and now I feel pretty stupid.  She stands up, but I don't look up, what a fucking idiot.  And there's a Times article I just read, about addiction, how it's a learning disability, a bad connection in the brain...  Even if I'm not, reading things like that make you wonder, 'maybe I am...'

A kind young woman, an educated person, and I'm the jerk times a million.  Not that I want to think about it anymore, just happens, try as I might, to forget it all.

Add that on top of my normal social anxieties...  That kind of double duty thing.
That year, my mistake original, choosing to live my senior year not with my friends down on the campus, five minutes walking distance to the dining hall, the library and all the buildings where there were classrooms, but up on the hill above the Dickinson houses, overlooking the town and the spire of the town hall.  It was a mistake made out of a romantic impulse, the vision of a poet's privacy, detachment.  The old DKE frat house, the parlor to the left, perhaps once a dining room with Sir Isaac Newtown's fireplace, by the time I came back from summer, had been renovated anyway, losing its old fixtures, its quirky lines of charm, the open staircases, glassed in with safety glass crisscrossed with its fibers, and there I was, isolated, in the back of the buildings, and I see now how that isolation effected a lot of things.  Without the feedback, the encouragement, the physical proximity of my buddies, Randy, Jon, Jeffrey, Spike, Steve, a fair hike between me and them, without one's friends, shut-down mode is a lot easier to slip into.  Even the poet, as much as anyone, maybe more, needs friends and social interactions, and even if one fancies he might be good at that time alone to write, that alone time quickly sours, and this is just simply human nature.

That choice became a radiant jewel of mistakes, that extra step of isolation, of removal, up to the end after I brought her flowers the second year in a row at the end of classes, and after her initial rejection stayed up on my hill rather than go down for dinner that Saturday night in the dining hall, when she had warmed to me again, but my bitterness had taken over like the wish for a long nap.

For city people, that general underestimation of social need, is less common than it is for a kid who grew up in the country, on country roads, with distance sports and long landscapes.  But I fell into it, and such a shyness toward groups and crowds, is not good for the starting of careers.  After going back home, sad, I finally went off on my own, down to the city, not her city, but Washington, DC, and ended up in the restaurant business, attempting to correct my propensity for isolation.  Always a group, friends to talk to.  I was a barman, on good terms with a good array of people, which was more a reflection of who I was, gifted at gab and smiles and kind ear, than that conceit of being the writer in command of the Shakespearean panoply of the human condition.  I came home at the end of the night alone, without a personal life to speak of, unachieved.  For all that talk and exchange, washing up on the shore of One AM, with a few hours left to calm the blood and unwind toward sleep, to wake looking back at that spot where I did not continue to grow as I should have, with lots of possible jobs to think of without having the energy to have ever tried.

The artistic temperament is best put to use harnessed in social activity, actors meeting writers and producers over the activity of a stage, the thing that fired Shakespeare's great effort, the players, people to socialize with in order to bring out one's truer agendas.

And yet, some are born observers, fond of, like Joseph Mitchell was, walking the streets of the city day and night, collecting stories and senses and observations made of watching people.  Going to a Mass without knowing exactly why or with proper understanding of the customs and words and actions of a Mass.  (See his "Street Life," in The New Yorker, an excerpt from his unpublished memoir, November 11&18, 2013 issue.)  The courtly writer who mixes well with odd people, but, being so original a swath of humanity that he is an odd duck, neither this nor that, not a banker, not even a reporter anymore, but a slow burning teller of humanity's story.  Able to do so out of a strange coincidence, that he too is finally human, longing for the same gentle conversations of smiling engagement and chuckles of laughter and common purpose that the Hispanic wait staff and busboys have with each other in Spanish, leaving the writer barman excluded as he sets up for a night.

Each step is hard in life, the security blanket being that tradition of a wandering writer telling an amorphous story of disparate detail.  There is, certainly, that pull, for a country boy at least, to spend that time with the deeper mind, with words, with the facets of the natural world such as birds and trees and the shining of the moon and the pull of rivers, that are, to the poetic mind, a relative of the deeper mind in the context of the globe we all live upon, as some see it, a great connected system which is itself a being, a living thing, of mind and response, of health and illness too.

A writer's mother feels that loneliness and isolation too, and knew she needed to do something to get out of it.  She took out a lot of student loans, got a Ph.D., and became a writer, one with that good base of the classroom and of the community a university a campus allows.  A good transition to make.

And she will be happy when I tell her, how with the rest of my day, I found a view of the river I'd not appreciated before.  And I had a sense of great relief, being relieved of that thought of the necessity of an urban social life such as always eats at us, turning back to nature and that older story of the city and the river that gave life to it as an infant town, the river still there, on its own terms, with herons by its muddy banks where its waters run slower than the rapids above and the currents below.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Six straight nights up at the wine bar, four of them by myself.  Friday, all by myself, busboy.  Saturday, same thing.  Sunday night, no busboy.  Monday, some help.  Tuesday, alone, no busboy.  Wednesday, some help.  Jazz night complicates things intensely.   I'm the last to leave.

Two days off.  Unable to get moving in the afternoon.

As he lay there, tired, adjusting to the medicine, not having to go into work, he had the sensation as if below his breastbone in that energy center of intersections there was something like a box, a small cubicle chest, and that in it there were the physical memories of a particular person, a young woman from some time ago, that each and everyone of his dealings with had somehow tickled him, entering him.  The times, the circumstances, the words that happen, the events that can happen, they might not quite reflect the gut physical reaction.  Human, one might even act logically contrary to the wishes of the inner body and nervous system.  But that small chest full of the sensations that built upon each other had gave meaning, that was always there too, and required of him a reaction, such as would come out involuntarily, a voice cracking, the sound of the voice as it reacts to her action, a tonal musical quality which is uncontrolled, like the octave of a vessel being filled with water.  There was not anything he could do about this, about that center, like a chakra, of gut reaction to her person.  It had all happened at a vulnerable time anyway.  One of the last times after being where she was, he had vomited.

That was the thing within, that he had no power over, even as he tried to turn from it, escape from that which resided under his breastplate in a small central chamber.  There was not anything he could do about it now, but live with it, under some form of Buddhist philosophy, passive, accepting, the wiser for knowing a physical truth.

Working at the bar had been an effort along such lines.  A way of trying to distract himself.

Shakespeare.  Shakespeare.  He understood that people needed to talk, and that, also, and very importantly, people could be geniuses at it, and do great and almost infinitely--taking in dark matter and dark energy--gifted highly intelligent things of great compass.  Such that when a political convention comes along--I mean, just to use the example, because that example is now highly present--one could each, within his own his or her self, come up with good and vital things to say, things worth listening to, things built on the shoulders of a million disparate dreams that happen to us in our sleep, and that come out, meaning something, unknown to us, but a process.  I could speaking at that convention.  This is what I would add.

Thus, now, the possibility and popularity of certain mediums.  And one can take the event of a political convention and understand it in terms of meaning, maybe symbolic meaning, well, of course.

The leanness, the lack of anything superfluous, observed by Amherst College President, host to JFK's October, 1963 visit, Calvin Plimpton...  And he, JFK, was one of the great speakers here and now in our knowledge of the political world.

Words at a convention can be taken anywhere.  Many models there are, looking at the offspring.  Many things can be said, many things can be spoken, many people can speak, and it's a choice, a rehearsed thing, but that you know when you are hearing someone whose speech you trust, words you trust, thoughts you trust.  And all that can be up for grabs, when the dreaming person who is a potential voter listened, to the extent that they can listen.    What to take away, what to take seriously?  Where is the meat, where the gristle, where the healthy vegetable and the fiber, and where the bread?

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Sometimes, after tending bar for a number of nights in a row, I wake up very tired, and I sleep and sleep.  My mood could be described as depressed, but it's a matter of processing.  And this is what the long sleep, the laying about, the doing of very little, accomplishes, perhaps like the process of molting, getting rid of the skin one had to wear to get through a few things.  It happens seasonally.  Sometimes when great bouts of rain fall, cold, darkness falling early, the simple need to curl up and sleep and sleep, and not move, to let the fibers of the body and the mind reweave themselves out of the tangles and broken strands, the electric disruptions, the noise, the aches that make you think of other aches not as physical, but still physical as the loads of work, literal cases of wine and and heavy plates to clear.

The day off, the words of Jefferson, often quoted, on the back of many a good bottle of wine, imported by Kermit Lynch, "I find good wine a necessity of life."  And this too is, the glass of wine, at the right time, is part of processing, of reaching back to the Gospels, the applicable truths of life deeply understood.  A glass of Ventoux refreshes the perspective.  It raises the psyche out of darker places, encouraging forward motion.

The challenge, how would I describe the personal experience of being a barman for twenty five years longer than I might like to admit.  I've had more wine than I might like to admit over those years, too, but hey, maybe I'm not totally alone in that.  There is after all, the Christian mention of wine, in the Gospels, in a central parable, and on into the legacy of interpretation, notably, the scene of The Wedding at Cana, a central chapter in the reading of The Brothers Karamazov, Alyosha, the youngest of three imagining in dream the truth of the departed elder, the remarkable Father Zossima.  Dostoevsky himself turned to such people, when he was hurting, having lost a son, in the course of his own difficult now almost unimaginable life.

But where, impossibly, would I start, with this, without being a fake?  How would I bring out my street cred, such as many a waited-on party might seem to have missed, not asking too often of my wisdom, only the occasional embarrassing reference to 'the book I wrote,' or the songs I recorded of Irish music and put up, embarrassingly on Youtube.  The Kennedys and the Fitzgeralds started out as pub and bar owners, with their own two hands, and there is a Catholic vibe, a Christian opening-up in such a line of work that might be absent in offices of the sort we all must now live by, but still craving that little moment of freedom, sometimes glimpsed at ten PM, the beauty of a glass of wine at a favorite bar as it winds down into the night.

Reference the darkness one personally overcomes, on a daily basis.  I don't want to be light about it, I don't want to be, certainly, heavy about it.  It's all garden variety stuff.  But stuff from which we might take away meaning, even if meanings are obscured, and we have to look in impossibly high places for them, places seemingly reserved for better people than ourselves.

Getting ready for work, that's the hard part.  Friday, 4:30 PM, is your own workweek's Monday morning, and you went out to dinner the night before, a celebration.  It takes a lot of prep, green tea, the searing of lamb sausages and then into the oven, shower, folding a shirt, loading the courier bag with the essentials of work and modern identity and modern tools, the Parker steel ball point pen a thrown back, a charged iPhone, wallet.  Oh, man, you know you'll be by yourself up the wine bar.  Get out the door, on the bike, up the grand avenue, and into the woods, where, in the shade, in the quiet, I call my mom.  And at this point, I'm still, today at least, in a sort of gloom.  One invitation meant canceling another, and when I talk to my mom, I reveal my sense of how, as if habitually, again, I have bolluxed things up again, the disappointing of a particular sort of person one should and does not ever want to disappoint.

And I'm hinting at my thought of how I have irrevocably, again, messed things up, I don't know, out of loyalty to steady friend, out of nervousness, shyness, social anxieties, a lack of dating...  It takes a great mom to give the lesson such gloom deserves.  "If you're going to think like that, you're never going to get out of that hole, and by thinking that way, you bring everybody down."  Ouch, it's true.  But, I suppose, it's a thought I've wanted to get off of my chest for a long time now.  "I'm sorry, mom, you're my sounding board.  That's why we write, to get all that bad stuff out you know."  I feel bad.  I've made her blood pressure go up.

I don't know where the nerves come from, but they come from somewhere.

Stand up comedy points the way to writing.  Writing points the way back to the dramas of old that let playwright and poet have a toehold of established profession.  But there were only ever a few of them, a very few, a very very very very few.  And then consider all the people who spout of with things to say.  No wonder Shakespeare took to the game of classification, as if drawing out species of birds.  Falstaff, the archetype.  Hamlet, Romeo, Juliet, Caesar, Prospero, Puck, Lear, all taken from the templates of humanity that you and will see if we with open eye venture out, wary of the kaleidoscope of human integer and feathered disguises, tropes, a mirrored surface of many confusions as Liberace's piano and suit.  I am no better, nor no worse.  I've, like we all do, as professionals, fallen into that archetype of what one should be, without really ever knowing why, or how we came to be who we are.  I know.  I play a role.  It makes less and less to me every day, this character, lonely figure who does his job and does it well to go home to a vacuum after dealing with a lot of junk, graceful processing of junk good tidings, waited on people, conversations that are not real, the lackey's flourish of good will no one really gives too much weight to.  Even though it goes back and back a long way and some people thankfully see that.     At this point the writer is now generalizing, and that is poor writing, sweeping statements, a waste of mental space...

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Song of the Mountains, on MPT, between 4 and 5 AM, "Jessie McReynolds & the Virginia Boys," from 2009--here's a venerable man from Grand Ol' Opry, with grandchildren playing good music.  It is fuller entertainment than just music.  Bluegrass, it is called.  But one subliminally remembers Hamlet, awake, troubled, his enthusiasm for the players, for they will catch the conscience of the king, get to the kernel of the issue.  Here it is, calming entertainment for the insomniac, from The Lincoln Theater in Marion, Virginia, and a pretty granddaughter Amanda's voice to grace the band.  "These people are born able to sing," because it's not that easy, I would know.

Compelling material, heartbreak, dreams, 'it's you I'm thinking of my heart echoes the love words you've spoken, .... won't you answer a heart that is broken, and make my wishful thinking come true, my wishful thinkin' come true.'

The old guy is in good shape.  Black Muddy River, a Robert Hunter-words/Jerry Garcia-the music song.  Good head of hair, dark, a Lincolnesque face, though not a tall fellow.  Harmonies.  Strong jaw and cheekbone, a hawk nose, inherited by charming granddaughter, a kindly face, a kindly way, a man comfortable being himself on a stage, nothing more, nothing less than what he is.

Three chord songs, more or less, with the alternation, one to four, to one, to five, to one, and so on.  A ribbon of paper clipped to the tuning peg of the mandolin.

"Let's get back to the bluegrass," he says, and it's Shenandoah Valley Breakdown, an instrumental.  Fiddle, now banjo, claw hammer style, then the feverish mandolin, the earliest of rock'n'roll strumming style, and the ballgame continues.  Shave and a haircut, six pence.  Grey Grand Ol' Opry style Western jacket, grey.  The grandson, a hefty guy in a black suit plays the standard D-28 with that good thump.

People from coal mining towns.  The crowd, elderly, a happy audience.   A final song, grandfather
and granddaughter singing in harmony in the same microphone, That Air Mail Special of Mine, and the crowd stands, applauding.

Song of the Mountains dot org.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

It's a matter of self-analysis.  Putting yourself on the couch, understanding the hymn to the great personal depths that are private that a writer can reach, the privacy of Proust, of Kafka, Kundera, Vonnegut, Knausgaard...  Has to be true, thus potentially embarrassing.  That's why I liked working in a pub, a bar, that there was conversation, the climb, the peak up above maybe never reached, where people really talked to each other, talked about their old man's death, the deeper things you wouldn't share without some ritual like Mass, like your Delphic wine server, clown on the heath, person to talk to in flux.  Could you find such a person at a booth in Penn Station?  Well, maybe.   The species is still sensitive to itself.  That's maybe why people ask me for directions.  I must look like, or act like, someone you can talk to.  I guess that role is like that of a therapist...  you could go this way, or you could go that way,  I'll tell you a bit about them, maybe, but it's up for you to choose, to do, to discover...

But, the understood privacy, entered into, between the writer, his/her self, and the distant potential reader, who exists only as the vague possibility of a person who might ask for directions over some simple matter, "I'm at the Japanese Embassy, how do I get to Connecticut Avenue..."

So, the writer listens:

I guess it was like it all hit at once, around the same time.   The spiritual view, given what I was learning from Eastern religions, of passivity in action, that intersecting with meeting that girl I liked, rather awkwardly, that intersecting with that strange pull of writing, the commensurate withdrawal into an arena too private for normal people...  Even while wishing and believing in and enacting the most perfect of communicational habits...  Or can it be too solipsistic?  I don't know.

This writing life, to me, old, and new.  Was it unhealthy shyness?  Well, you feel the way you feel sometimes, and I could get down about all that, or I could try to understand it and put it into some form of perspective to make sense of it, which is work to do on a daily basis.  That work itself is done in writing.

Of course, in many ways, it all fell apart then--well, I won't say, 'fell apart,' just, got real--the descent of a strange spirit, the shyness to constantly battle, the job an extension of anxiety to be met, in a good way.  That shyness drew me into the work, like you go to work in a vineyard...  It's work.  Go face people.  Prune vines so they stand and produce good fruit.  Tend to a garden.  It's work.

Shyness, the need for privacy, other peoples will interpret, seeing things, judging, qualifying, suggesting.  In the end, no, you're just a writer.  An odd bird, maybe...  A hell of a habit to have, or claim, or use, but maybe, principally, the work matters more than any final product you could, say, sell.  You could only sell as it an industry, as if to say, we all, at least some of us, need to make our Model Ts, an assembly line, a finished thing with wheels...

Writing you can't be afraid of.  It's more innate than anything.  No particular talent.  It's like breathing, inherent, a property.  People try to put it in boxes, but it's everywhere, waiting for you to catch up with it when you can.  Just write.  Even if...  maybe it has to be, embarrassing.

That great need for privacy, the nerves, those are just part of the writer's habit, and not much you can do about it.  But that is all related to the detachment, the perspective, that path to the Bhagavad Gita and the awareness of a different kind of action...  Buddhist philosophy.... Grabbing on to calmness as best you can, staying within the boundaries of your mind's comfort.  What were the last words of The Buddha?

On days off from work at the bar, the need for privacy is intense.  Yoga and meditation, done alone in the apartment, going to a class almost too much for all it will open up to the still tender mind.  Peaceful calm, even if it sounds anti-social.  Away from decision-making in a world broken into dualities.  Digesting.  Working all you saw and did, all you heard from people, all the interactions, taking all that and putting it to that anvil, putting it back into the sphere of the practical measures of thinking that are the legacies of psychological wisdom of spiritual health, the walk, the hike, the meditation, the headstand, the lotus seat...  The shitty thing, the Dostoevsky office hours of writing, when the world has gone quiet, 3, 4, 5 in the morning...  The time that vegetables do their thing between water and earth, energy of sun.

Find a writer who is not deeply perplexed by the world, from the perspective innately his.  In a world where people like clear answers, event he writer's profession, his work, his calling, his path is all a mystery to him, and yet he knows it's all there, away to an understanding deeper than conscious thought and rule of logic.  Thus there can be a soreness attached to his efforts, his steadfast perspective, his point of view.

About the restaurant business:  I'd long outgrown the desire to go to the bar open late after a shift.  The work was too hard anyway, you just wanted to get home with the energy you did have.  Oh, sure, there had been some stupid misled stuff early on in one's career, the convening of elders at the old Grog &Tankard, beer, avoidance of a shot of GM or Jamo, restaurant people, Tim and Daphne, Herb, Pedro, Tom...    But generally, the professional life, Generally, I'd eat a plate of dinner, at a thirty percent discount, at the bar by myself when I was nearing done, have a couple glasses of wine, usually all alone, or close to it, maybe listening to the chefs talk about food costs, service, specials, differences in the restaurant.  There could be long monologs, with some mysteries, ended by, "okay, I have to go," and I'd be left there still with things to do.  Maybe Pandora.  Bike home.  Have a last glass of wine, watch some TV, PBS, Weather Channel, History Channel, Vice Network, News, RT, NHK, On Demand, maybe a little YouTube, maybe play a little music myself, the long quieting down process, the therapeutic stuff, epsom salt bath, candle light by the Buddha statue, the quiet of night time.  The bar was a very studious business, after all, and really it required out of you a sort of Zen monk kind of a life, awakened by green tea whenever you could get up, listening until the water in the kettle on the stove sounded like wind through pines up on a mountain, steeping three minutes, also hot water with lemon, turmeric, cayenne, cardamom, cinnamon, the green tea with a tablespoon of flaxseed, a burger patty, grass fed, iron skillet sear, into the oven, for breakfast, when the shift meal turned to chancy things, things I shouldn't eat, pasta, filling but detrimental.  And how did all the years go by?  Well, they did, honestly enough.

On the one hand, a huge amount of wasted time, on the other, attempts...  honest as anyone else's, a need for an MFA perhaps...

All along, the message, the story, the reality, was compassion, plain, bare, compassion, as long as I was a vessel of it.  We all are.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The sleepy eyed waiter is sitting hunched over his smart phone at a table-clothed table back against the left wall before the mural in the dark restaurant when I come in, and I have to run up and use the john, fresh from my half hour walk to work between downpours and lightning, talking to my lovely mom I miss so much on the phone, the guts doing their thing, no time to say hi to my friend.  A customary sight, a placid server looking at their laptop in leisurely mode, about to be done with a day shift.  Upstairs the wine bar has been left as standing from a difficult night of serving dinner in conditions of live jazz under a full moon, the trio bringing along a little white dog who various people get fixated with, one a woman who sits at the bar drinking white Burgundy on ice (a wonderful person to talk to at the end of the night with her beau, as I drink a light red, Beaujolais maybe, on the rocks myself, splash of soda), and then the couple who manage to walk out without paying their check as they got up from their table and mingled with the musicians as I brought out their dinners over in the couch set in the corner, slipping away, forgetfully, unintentionally, I'm sure, in town from California for a conference, ordering cocktails when wine is better...  My fellow server, distracted had three friends at the bar, going away for the summer, bought them dessert, a nice kid she is, while loose ends of the night's service floated and a cook sat for a drink, and a woman who habitually arrives late on jazz nights wanting a tasting of whatever wines I want her to taste arrives with a couple whose anniversary it is, the woman of the couple, hair long, a guitar with her, a Yamaha acoustic, a veteran of the Sixties folk music.  Can you take a picture with your iPhone and then send it to me?  I am fixing the dishwasher's time clock report, and running for more sparkling pink as she asks...

I start setting up for Tuesday night wine tasting.  Oaky, at least I got here ten minutes early.  The low teak tables are out of position, misaligned for the night's requirements.  The woman swept during the day.  None of them are set up.  The busboy from last night's joy told me before he left that there were silverware set-ups in all the table drawers, with a few exceptions, and a need for a general wipe of their tops and some with bread crumbs and a few sticky spots.   I have silverware to polish with a cloth napkin with a sprinkle of vodka, hot water for tea and coffee thermoses to fill, butter ramekins to ready with cut butter patties, napkins to prepare with silverware, and I begin to gather it's another night with no busboy, one two-top on the reservation books, great.  Mineral water to lug up from basement cage.  Grab a couple bottles of champagne, you never know....  Soda water six pack.  Downstairs busboy to plead with, hey man can you get me some ice, and he being generous remembers to bring the usual brown paper baker's bag of baguettes up just a few minutes before the front door opens.  All this in addition to the usual stocking, the fruit, the placement of wines in bins and cooler, the checklist.  And it all seems to take everyone by surprise.

There's good news.  Ron, our oldest steady long serving wine rep from the good company of the massive portfolio tastings that have Kermit Lynch wines, will be showing up for the wine tasting of the Carcassonne wines to help me out, not that Wine Tasting night here has anywhere the pull it used to, before 14th Street, before H Street and Barracks Row and City Center.  And very solid and supportive friends who've brought great practical help to me of late arrive, and the sharing of conversation is good, we all need a base.

It's a long night, and in the end one of our two officer retired colonel friends shows up and the second is going to meet him, as they are buddies in the end, and things to talk about bearing upon life in a therapeutic insightful way. At which point I too could use some therapy and sit at the bar with the new Cabernet Franc wine from Carcassonne, La Roque, and eat the reheated portion of calves liver I saved from last night in the cooler, drinking with them as they talk, of wives, pensions, male health issues, etc.

And when I arrive Wednesday it become evident from the dishwasher shouting at me down in the basement, "Yes, Sir, How are you, Sir," that there will be an alternate to the usual busboy.  (I do not appreciate loud greetings when I show up for a shift, generally speaking.)  Sleepy eyes joins me upstairs after I've been at it a good 14 minutes, to help set up for another Jazz Night.  He has a day job, and I cannot blame him.  The main thing, given his positioning, at the gate of the upstairs wine bar where I am behind the bar's mini fortress, is for him to get people seated, often enough the main battle of coping effectively with the older people frat party of live jazz in a restaurant's dining room.

At the end of the night he's putting the little plug in candles away, blocking the mouth of the bar, as the downstairs server, who's ready to go home after a slow night plants the night's last couple, ordering dinner late, and the couple is sat just a few minutes before their dinner arrives, and there it is, but everyone's clueless, and it takes the boss to say, standing at that crucial point at the top of the stairs, hey, serve the food!  I can't help being very irritated.  Boss looks at me, and I express my feelings and the need for traffic direction with my eyes.  And soon enough, as kitchen guys come up for their defacto shift drink continuum, the busser is no longer loud but reveals that he is in bad pain, in his arm, and able to use only one, and this is at a ridiculous late hour at which it is very hard to get dessert out of the kitchen for the last couple, thank you, coquettish server from Brittany who by now is home in Virginia, God willing.  So that's what's been up with him for the last hour or so...  Shoulda told me before you lugged the bottles from the recycling bin away in the thick plastic garbage bag down the stairs and out the back.  "I'll sweep up, man, get outta here..."  His face is tight.  Mysterious, or different of how he expresses himself, often good at it, now he is very quiet, and there is seomthing solemn and serious, deeply serious about everything he says, so here before me is another mode, another mode of a man who reads the Bible seriously.  He has to go back down to the basement to change out of clothes stylish for a server, let alone a busser, and in the end the tall Nigerian basketball player dishwasher in town for the summer and happy with the Lebron James outcome holds the door and his bicycle for him as a very muted form of himself leaves into the night for his journey home.  With one arm hurt, I am concerned about him biking home, via metro.  There is lots left to do, in an almost ugly way, and I will have to do it alone.

I wake up very tired the next day.  This schedule of work is hard, different, isolating a bit.  The closer who closes the restaurant every single time he works wondering whether this pool system that gives equal renumeration for day or night shift, bar or main, up or down, weekend or not, is something perhaps some people are allowed to play to their advantage without being cast into the late night, the long un-wind, the bad habits that foster their own continuation, to the discouragement of pursuit of other professional or volunteer activities.  The night wound down with viewing the PBS biography of George Plimpton 'starring himself,' having to turn away from the deep rough spot of the intimately encountered death of Robert Kennedy, too much to take alone at night, turn it off, find what Bear Grylls is up to.  What do I put into a shift?  What do I make happen? What do I clean up after, leaving the bar stocked, clean, in good shape, perhaps for not having much life elsewhere...

And to this end, the writing helps, it helps a lot.

How many times do I wake up feeling bad, feeling bad over interpretations of what might have or might not have happened years ago.  What bad influence got to the sweet student earnest kid, fostered in him an inappropriate reaction to the college he graduated from, all of this up for interpretation.  What happened to him, why did he become a writer, why did he not end up in the literary world of New York and Paris Reviews and Bob Giroux and so on...

But to such lonely thoughts, one remembers the inborn need to write, to sort out thoughts, to get out what is painful and wild and overgrown and imblended with weeds and poison ivy there at that level of forest floor where taller stories grow from...

I suppose this is why stories are necessary, hard to tell, long, very long, deciphered on an individual basis, Frodo escaping the dragon, symbolic, to survive, with help, and fight another day...

And there is something about this work, undertaken for perhaps the same reasons Mr. George Plimpton might have found for it, the engaging in of an activity, a job, a role, a physical duty, a societal position enmeshed in a pecking order, a team, a collection of humans, something to give you grist for the mill, and thereby some way to study or comment upon the nature of writing and literary arts.  Such that one day one hopes to have written enough about things, things in general, maybe like camping a night in the mist on a ridge with the managing partner of the restaurant, who did his national military service in the Alps, that you have enough to reflect upon, enough stashed remembered things, enough to feel like a writer.  And from that point, feel worthy as far as knowing something about the process.  Did the raw material matter?  Wasn't it all finally some form of yoga, Bhagavad Gita style.

Just that it takes, like the whale I like to write about, a lot of sifting, a lot of swimming, a lot of distance in oceans that would appear blank to those who do not swim.  Why write?  Why swim?  But what other interests and enthusiasms do I really have, but to cook, clean, have wine and keep afloat and room for friends, in an honest way.

Walking down in the woods, the stream running brown from the majestic downpour three days ago, down to where a young small beaver has found a starter dam by the pilings of the small pedestrian bridge over the creek near the parkway, where upon the woody detritus a large brown snake rests, its molted old translucent skin there like an empty sausage wrapper closer to its usual spot here, impressively long, walking slowly, shoulders still sagged from the personal burdens, I find a bit of fresh air.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Behind the bar there is the ice bin, and to the right of it, the bar's stainless steel workbench of three sinks.  Arriving, the wines are taken from the ice bin where they have sat overnight, and they are placed into two of the sinks.  To the far right I put the whites served by the glass in an orange Veuve Cliquot bucket which fits into the sink, four bottles open.  Into the middle sink, plugged simply with a champagne cork, I put the sparkling wines, the rosé, and the wines of the week, and any leftover.  If it is Tuesday night wine tasting, I rest unopened bottles down on their sides, plug that sink too, so that there will be enough in case customers ordered the discounted bottles of the white or rosé or sparkling on offer, last week a Jurançon sec.  The same process will happen if there is a private party back in the wine room, wines chosen, but how much will they need?  Once the bottles are in place I scoop out the ice that has sat in the ice bin, and pour it over the bottles in the sink compartments.  And then I pour hot water into the empty bin, give it a wipe and then another rinse.

Then I will turn to the cooler behind me, and take out the fruit tray and the juices in quart containers, placing bottles of mineral water, sparkling and flat for the night.  There is silver ware to ready, mis en place, the set-up, so things will be there when you reach for them, the clean knife, the escargot forks, the dessert spoons, the coffee spoons, the dinner fork to replace the one that falls on the floor with a clank.  The red wines served by the glass are on top of the cooler, foil cut for the first two in the five bottle row of the six on offer.  There are three back-up of each wine back in the corner beyond the stove and the cutting board in the busboy station, the recycling bin, and above, the shelves with wines laid on their sides, popular ones from the longer list of wines by the bottle.

After four nights of it, closing, the writer part of the barman has kind of lost it.  It is strange, dusting one's self off, putting away that crucial business of what he does for a living, rent, health insurance, food.  What is there to write anyway?  Awkwardness.  Too many thoughts to sort out from that lost Liberal Arts realm.

The words of the therapist held fast in the mind from early in the week, "I wouldn't want to talk to someone who'd said that to me either."  "Leave her alone!"  Okay.  I will.

The day off comes.  And from being surrounded by people to interact with, then we go to shyness, quiet.

Work seems like some form of self-codependent lie, a masquerade...

Is this why attempts at higher communication, in Shakespeare, usually end in tragedy?  Are such things as words and love meant only for the old campus?

Thursday, June 2, 2016

And that is the thing.  The law of the Universe is such, the departing, the distancing of galaxies from themselves.  Beethoven must have been famous for being private, and Mahler, echoing that...  Not that this essaying here is trying to sound smart.  The thing is privacy, the space free from outside question, the space from where creativity comes.  Yes, almost a cliche.  But that it's true.

Emily knew it.  Her departure from the rest, her sensitivity to the cosmos, her little witnesses in plants and bird chirps.   Indian pipe.  The divergence of species.  The bee is different from the butterfly.  The iris is not the larch.  Her natural instinct to seek the most private of spaces, confidences with little nieces.

The obscurity of the creative process.  Shane MacGowan's process is unknown to James Fearnley, the songwriter a crazed hooligan to the accordionist of the Pogues in memoir form of Here Comes Everybody.

You can't share.  You don't want interruption.  The mood comes, you try it, you finish a sketch, do a few more, losing energy.  That it all piles up, builds on itself is good, but in the meantime, there is rawness, a sense of adolescence, which perhaps is inevitable, one way or another, seen or unseen, it's up the personal choice of an artist, do you want to paint the hungered saltimbanques in all their thusness and all their sadness and emotion misery, or do you want to put yourself out there, Guernica, or some other way to say it.

That's the thing,  Creativity?  You want privacy.

A sensitive father, even though a different blood type, lets a son create in his own privacy, hard as that must be, very hard.

Everything pulls away from everything else.  This is the law,  The law of dark matter, and energy, and at the center of every galaxy, a black hole spinning things in, as if a balancing energy to that Big Bang which set everything into this suchness.  At the very center.

The tragic black hole at the center holds us in orbit to each other
in the black blank space, fixtures of our night's sky
to look up at or out to in the great distance,
compelled to a point for lack of action,
not lack of potential of love.

And the flesh that lumbers on unknowingly, with some increasing great self-confidence, some vision, those can be the foolish of people, the less than wise.  The ones who can call the artist's sketch the work of a blithering idiot.