Friday, October 13, 2017

I'm running late, but I can make it, and then I'll go to work and then the week will be over.  So, off to therapy.  Tired, but I get up, I shower, a cup of yesterday's green tea from the fridge, load up, and out on the bike.  And soon enough I am heading down 19th Street, weaving my way through the backed up traffic, cars, fed ex, trucks, lincoln navigators, delivery vans, construction pylons, crossing M, and pulling up at the corner at L Street across from the food trucks, into the building and up to the fifth floor.  The office building canyons.

So, what do we talk about today...  Where did we leave off.  Always makes me nervous.Dr. H opens the door just as I come into the reception area.  Ahh, here we are.

Acknowledge how hard it was...  shame is not successful as a motivating force...  a challenging mental space back then, a lot of emotions flying to the surface... the let downs, Amherst English Department...  what messaging did I receive about what being an adult is like...  rebellion is another form of tie to the control of adults, the opposite of being authentic...  Do not underestimate what a difficult time you were going through, college days, things coming apart a bit.

She observes that, in the wake of the visit from the boss, the big chef from overseas, that I refer to myself as a boy.  Well, a boy in the sense of being the guy waiting on everyone as they talk away as adults.  I'm a boy, not an adult, as I roll down 19th on my bike, not in a car, coming down reluctant and anxious into the bright light, the sounds, the heat, the strutting...  And I am tired, being the last guy there at the restaurant to the late night social life of the boss along with his peccadilloes for the last two weeks of shifts.  He's my friend.  He is family.  Huge respect for him, he respects me.  I love his visits.  I learn some history of the restaurant and of hopes for where it might be headed in positive directions.  It's a great place.  The problem is the level of engagement, and I do my best to engage the customers who come through.

So, she asks me somewhat rhetorically, where does shame come up now, in what situation...  Is shame related to a pattern I am relying upon as a sort of mode.

At the bar, the spotlight is on me in a particular role, but the real person is only partially seen.  Do I feel like I have to hide my real self, the content behind what is seen.

I need to develop a tolerance for the uncomfortable feeling of the shame that is related to, somehow, the emotions that occurred when adults let me down at a particular important juncture of life.  That shame is not the best of motivations lets me in on the idea that it wasn't all my fault.

Shame.

And then the Harvey Weinstein news.  That had come out, days before.  I mentioned it to her in passing.  Because I had been accused of the very same thing, "sexual harassment."  But Harvey, now that's some real harassment, not the sort of awkward bring a girl flowers and have her reject you sort. Blowing up an squirrel with an atomic bomb, I sort of thought.  And then there's that guy, the big bully, the fast talking creep, the power guy, big old Harvey doing all that stuff, and finally they come out of the woodwork, emboldened.  Everyone knew it, the cynical professional says.  The journalists had too much to lose back then, so they thought, thinking of individual gain, in those days before the online social media sites we all visit took the advertising money away from print journals.  Magazine articles optioned, to be turned into Miramax film productions and Oscars.  Advertising dollars for the old print glossies.  Oscar parties.

But we are, if we are perpetrators, to some extent, victims as well.  And a stressful childhood can make you vulnerable to being vulnerable enough to land in the kind of situations which are set up for the continuing of sexual harassment.  Age difference, power difference, vulnerability as far as career, security, etc.  Shame is the motivator, shame is the strange flavor tasted on a daily basis.  Remembered and lived on in all our interactions.  Am I acting like a creep if...  Should I send her an email...  Is it okay now having met her that I follow up...  Every time I go through that in my mind, which does not help my self-confidence, this looking over my own shoulder...

There's something perpetuating about it, perpetuating.  Shame leads to more shame.  Silence leads to hidden life.


You have to reach a point of stillness and quiet in order to write.  Writing is the only way of thinking, at least if we live a life alone.

Reflections on the Weinstein abuse pattern...  The (desperate) attempt of the perpetrator to cover himself with normalcy....  To make the raising of a charge against him difficult, loaded with threats of loss.  Silence is primary.  And so the threats that you are caught out talking behind their backs, and that this will upset the status quo....

Remember, it's not your fault.  The steady innuendo from the other parties is their thing, not yours.  Fear, anxiety, the feeling of guilt and shame.

It's been a long week at work.  The boss tells me it's been the worst summer ever.  "Worse than bad," he tells me and the veteran busboy.  The next few weeks will tell if there is life still in The Dying Gaul.  Fortunately the night was busy.  It's not just us.  Everyone's numbers are down, all across the town.

Coming out of the office building after my forty five minute session, a good one, productive, I take the stair well and out through the lobby into the bright light.   I order a lamb gyro from a food truck, and wait, taking a small amount of refuge in a dawn redwood tree in its little tree box area, soft limbs, sort evergreen fronds.  A helicopter circles overhead and then comes back again.


So, why the shame, that feeling that has been so steady over all the years since high school, a constant.  The shame leaves me vulnerable.  I don't know what else to say.  And I sense I should have been doing things with my life a long time ago.  But I came to D.C.


Thursday, October 12, 2017

So, why does she not recognize him?  The tomb is open, and the body, as it seems, has gotten up and left.  Where has the body been taken?  She's seen the whole thing, leading up to that, up to and including his death.  We're talking about Jesus here.  You'd think she had a pretty good idea of what he looked like.

But contrary to all expectation, he has disappeared, or rather, his corpus, his body, his corpse.  He had died on the cross, after being scourged quite dramatically, taken down, wrapped in funeral linens, and here is the tomb, courtesy of Joseph of Aramathea.  (sp.)   The woman, Mary, of Magdalena, has come, and the tomb is open, you know the story.

There is a gardener there, so it appears to her.  Politely, distraught, confused, wondering, dislocated, discombobulated, he is the guy to ask.  Uh, sir, would you happen to know...

The risen, he has to catch her almost.  Obviously intelligent, maybe there's a sense of humor lurking here, in the kindness between the two.  Mary, look, it's me.  And with his understanding of human nature, this doesn't surprise him, this strange lack of recognition, to intimate ones, even to family, as if we could not see clearly.  Vision blinded by expectation and other things.

Might make you wonder, how do women see men.  How do women see men anyway.  What clues them off, he is the guy...  What do they see?  Brow, hair, eyes, actions, heart, voice, words, actions, what do they see of us?  Even Mary cannot see Jesus in Jesus standing before her in radiant light.  What gives?  Does it take a special word?  What is the word, then?

You would scare her otherwise, even if you were Jesus.  Even Jesus has to be careful.  Probably because he's a polite sort of human being.  Not strutting around in false attire, big image, big bravado, big show, big pushiness.

Even the crowd preferred Barbaras the criminal, the psychopath, to poor Jesus, when the time came to spare a Jew from the cross at Passover.  The crowd recognized the criminal psychopath abuser of all things holy to the quiet intellectual teacher pure human being.  They could not see Jesus as Jesus.

And she doesn't either.  And then, he speaks, and she does see him, finally.




But if, but if this were an alternate sort of gospel story, less of good news, of our times, now, what if... What if Mary, when the gardener speaks to her, takes upon herself that modern protective armor.  Who is this stranger, scaring her, staring at her?  Who is this man who seems to act like he knows her, knows her when she's looking for one thing and one thing only, the dead body of that man called Jesus the Christ.  He speaks to her, calls her name.  What if she says, who are you, who are you, offended at him from the thoughts in her own mind about how she should be treated and by whom.  This stranger before her.  What if she silences him.  He has to be polite.  She walks away, with her little self-protective victory, her show of power, smug, entitled, uncaring, not looking back.  What happens then to the story?

Would he have bothered to do his work, gone through all the trouble, had he not some firm sense that we human beings are somehow enabled by innate powers to recognize each other.  Thus it natural for Jesus to recognize Peter in Peter.  His story is almost even principally about recognition.  Can we awaken the souls in others of us so that they see us and we see them...

Saturday, October 7, 2017

But you have to give credit, to Hemingway, for what he did, his early joy at being a writer.  It's of course in A Moveable Feast.  That's his tribute to writing, to wanting to do nothing else but writing, and then doing it.  He's like your older brother.  He's that strong guy who came along and did it.  Sketches.  Up there, the fifth floor of some walk up, he's got a fireplace, he peels his oranges and twisted the peels into the fire and the colors, blue, magenta, green, come out.  Yes, he's seeing the spectrum.  Again, like Melville, he is making prose into poetry.  The idea of prose, is now seen, just as he is working on it, as he shows us the early collections, prose is poetry, poetry can be in prose.  And really, it always was.  It's almost very religious.  Defining what is spiritual, what is prose, what is poetry, what is story, what is allegory.  And writers, the good ones worth their salt, yes, they have that subliminal repeat of that Jungian story, that dream, of writers.  Kundera, same thing.  And it runs along the lines of what we are sensitive to, what we recognize in any kind of good writing, any kind of literature.  That substrata, the reality, organic, botanic, that writing the most basic of words and thought, yes, that done, which a real accomplishment, that will lead to something that is, finally, actually, writing.


I took a break.  went out into the back yard.  Wanted to play Lonesome I could Cry, Hank Williams, and there were the crickets, hiding, but signing away.  What key are they in?  It is a key.  I think they liked D.  But G worked too.  I felt I was talking to them, and I've had that feeling before, playing a Pogues song at the first light, birds, mockingbirds staying up like I do...

But life's a bit too sad, the way it's set up.  That's where any writer, and Hemingway with good credit for it, is good and real, like some sort of ancient doctor to soothe reality..


Hemingway was always ready, hinting, almost explicit, about the writing, the process, going hand in hand with the material that then was worth writing about.

Perhaps he also knew the strangeness that this career, this penchant would make of him in other's eyes.  A writer?  He had the protection of Hadley, his first wife, a financial protection from her family, support in every way, back in the time that people gave each other support.

He liked hamburgers.  He had his own recipe for them.  He didn't report on everything in his life.  He could not cover everything, everyone, every relationship;, every sunrise, every sunset.  He reported that he tried, realized what he could do.


And what a strange time frame he would have had, being out of the ordinary.  Writing.  When does it stop, when does it end, where does it begin, what is there to talk about, write about, what is dialog, what is inner reportage, what is the strange encompassing ability that is picked up and realized when you, me, I, one, he, she, starts to write...  When do you start with the pen, in the day, when do you end?

Again and again, he would write about that time, when he could write, and then that time when he should avoid writing, let the water refill down in the well...
Knowing what words are like, where they might come from, the writer knows uncertainty.   Quite away from narrowing down on a thing, the writer must open up to words, to let them come toward him, gravitationally coalescence.  That was my mode.  That was how it worked.

Some people write about a certain topic.  They'll write cleverly and self-confidently.  But that was not my mode, when it came time to write.  A hokey explorer, pretending to be a Lindbergh, acting a part, but being in modes of blank openness.  That's how you start out.  It's not the matter of discipline it's made out to be.  Rather, it's like any relationship.  Steadiness.  Showing up.  Allowing an exchange.  Memory turned into useful elements.  Capturing thoughts on camera, as if they were birds, the science of a child.


I swear, sometimes it's like I cannot trust myself to go out.  A few glasses of wine and a bite to eat at work with the chef, turns into meeting the chef out down where there is live music.  A couple of beers, conversation, a musician I recognize, and then on the way back, stopping at the tavern for last call, and then back to P Street, a late burger, then up further, lonely, for a couple slices of pizza, and then the next day, allergies, wheat, beer, I feel terrible.  Wasn't what I was aiming for.  But that is a life many know.  I will not claim to be a Hank Williams, a Shane MacGowan, a Hemingway, a Fitzgerald, a Faulkner, but I can get them, sensitive beings, proud of their creativity, in touch with it, but having a difficult time with the rest of things.


In a dream I am wearing a suit, meeting her in New York as a date in a social situation, remarkable wall paper, ease, elegance.  And I am surprisingly normal.  Normal behaving, normal acting, accepted as normal, treated well.  There is fine golden wallpaper in drawing rooms and conservatories, the kind of which you see on the finest of ties.  We visit many places in the city, and it is as golden and as civilized and strife free as the wallpaper in conservatories.  Even skeptical snobs of enormous pedigree like me, and she too is delighted with me.  I am who I am, and she realizes I've grown up, and respects me.  It's a pleasant time.  Lots of good stops to make.  She shops for wine with me and picks up the bill, including the Burgundy I select at this fancy wine boutique.  We are going to her house, her parents, for dinner, and that is a big thing of being welcome.  As should have happened, though in reality it did not, far from it.

When did I become, stubbornly, not normal?

Antic disposition.  When did I become weird?  I became weird at that time.  A rebellion.  Beethoven, gone deaf, hard to access.  An atelier.


I am embarrassed by the schedule I keep, thus my life.  Hard to get up before 3 in the afternoon, night shifts.  Too much dough.  I end up feeling like crap, between ragweed pollen, IPA, pizza slice, pigs feet with bistrot bread.

And nights off, I have to be very careful.  I'm really not allowed to go out.  A sober trip to the grocery store and back.   Laundry.  Another round of dishes from the ongoing attempt to feed myself adequately.  The chores of writing.  The chores of thinking a new line in life.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Honestly, no one could have done a better job at it, the particular job I did.  I didn't really chose to do it.  I was okay with being a busboy, writing during the day.  They asked me to be the day bartender, as a way up the ladder, an honor.  My mother cried and told me the restaurant business would break my heart, like it did her father's, but I wanted to write, and I didn't listen, and I was done anyway with the day nob in a dreary office, health insurance, HMO, the federal government, etc.

I was good at it, despite an awkward shaky start.  I made a bar what it was.  I welcomed the various factions.  Etc., etc., etc.  I am not proud of it, but, well, I tried.  I tried to bring some humanity to the job, as is hard to do in any job.


Anyway, there I'd been the good bar man bartender, quietly serving, humoring, waiting, and I'd put my heart into it, as one is compelled to do when having a job, a task.  I'd done way more than what was asked, always left a clean stocked bar.  I was the last one, I locked the door, I did it again and again and again, long after other guys had moved on, to things bigger and better.  I was the neighborhood guy, the listener, I  never tried to make myself be the star in any way, and celebrated others and stayed in the shadows, when a barman could have made it far far all about himself.  That wasn't me.  College boy.   Nice guy.  Good listener to old men, and never oppressive to the ladies.  A decent guy.  And again, a bartender.  Which is a hard job.  Requiring many strange hours.

Interesting people.  That's what I'll remember about it, should I be able to move on one day, and not end up dead and broke, homeless, unnatural, alone.

They'll hand the hard working guy the tough job.  They'll use him, the ranger, the scout, the first line in battle.  They'll use him, and then, eventually, they push him out, and everything remains easy for them, because they are not foolish enough to be like him, to make such an effort, to be always filling in the space, showing up every day, for years and years.  Makes things easy on themselves.  Use the community for support.  Out front, you get fired sometimes.  Rare enough, but it stings.  Some corporate crap, the lack of value to the most valuable employees, the ones who make the place what it is.  The corporate rule leveling I will not speak of anymore.  It's like they fire the nicest guy, the most polite person, and always with a charge like "sexual harassment."  Corporate rules hiding their weak spot.  Keeping the noncontributing team member, throwing out the saint, Moses even.  And then they stay sanctimonious and silent about it.  The constant abetting.... the small mindedness, the new provincial nastiness.


Writing what you have to write is always embarrassing.


Waking up with the sense of defeat.  The spiritual journey's low point, when you realize a great change is called for, necessary, vital to survival.  Finding righteousness in the alignment of one's own life...    To the extent that one's mind is capable of considered thought...

Only a spiritual life and the spiritual event can save a moment of time, save a small interaction, by saving a small thing, saving other things, saving everything.


In many ways it was a mistake to come  down here.  For the glory of supporting myself.  Getting out of the nest, parents, hometown...  But I never got far.  My values did not change.  Books, reading, writing... And here in Babylon, the wicked had carried us away, requiring us a song, one of hospitality, and our hearts did not really feel like it.

As I saw it, the mental habit of the D.C. professional world generally does not admit to the condition of existence that this world is a broken one.  Professional types in D.C. live under the notion that they are helping the world out, and one cannot really argue with them to that point.  Except that such thinking and their professional achievements don't protect them from triviality.  The triviality of style and fashion designer magazines and self-improvement.  Shoes, restaurants, politics, all details of minutia the deeper soul.  A celebration of the trivial.

The deeper soul, if one were to inquire within, sees things with a completely different logic, and that logic is hard to sustain.  It can seem unsupported by fact and realities one has to live by.  Worldly logic cannot meet the higher.

One finally does not need any more details about the broken quality of the world, its sadness, its isolation, its wars, its violence, its greed...  Just details.



I had trivialized myself.  Stooped to the lower level.  Taken wine simply, as a panacea, when it is properly only a metaphor.  Gotten lax on the spiritual element, as happens in a broken world...  I had misread wine as s profession, as a commodity, as would have been pushed on as a profession upon anyone making their living, ostensibly, at it.   That professional world is never where the heart is.  Wine is just wine, and people, trying to make money at it, put it into boxes.  In God's eyes, it is still just wine.

But I knew that I was a writer and that I had a good mission as a writer.  I knew I had to sequester myself away, to avoid a social life.  I knew that junior year in college.  I felt bad for years for that, for taking myself away from my friends for that required mental space.  I felt bad for years for being a bad student because of the higher pursuits.

It takes a huge amount of energy to write.  Writing in a broken world will never be perfect, never meet the high professional standards, never be able to compete with the perfect presentation of the trivial the world demands over and over again as a cover story.  The best of energies will allow for little more than the scattered sketches one will find throughout here.

Maybe that's all you get.  Brief sketches, plucked from the thoughts of naps on couches on a day off, not feeling any energy to deal with the world.



Friday, September 29, 2017

So, you go to therapy, and every now and then a session yields something.  You might have the feeling, 'well, why didn't she just tell me that earlier,' but that's how it works.  It takes a while, bit by bit, finding the greater context in which to place things and understand them.  You find one piece of the puzzle, fit it in, and then because of that, maybe another piece fits in.

"You say one more word to me and I'll go to the dean and have you charged with sexual harassment." That's what she, The Princess,' said to me after I approached her one sunny day in the dining hall.  The night before it had been a full moon, and I'd gone by her suite to see if she wanted to go to the Full Moon Party down at the Zoo, a house down off campus past the football field.  Yes, it was awkward.  I shrugged and left quickly, asked to do so.  Great.

I'd told my therapist Dr. H. about it, sessions ago, I'm sure.  I think it was that, but it may have been another incident, like, what she said to me, and even on sensitive ground, speaking to a woman, the other side, really, in the battle of the sexes, even the therapist had to be moved, telling me that The Princess had treated me like "a low life."  Jesus Christ.

New Yorkers like to talk.  They like to hear themselves talk.  One of my first impressions, going to Amherst, observing the very first week.  They fancy themselves good at it, have complete self-confidence.   That was my impression of a lot of my classmates, actually.  It was hard to get a thoughtful word in edgewise.  They were talking like they knew what to say their whole lives forward.  And there was I, right in the middle of them.  Pushy city dwellers.

(The genetic kindly temper of the people in the countrysides of the nation have a slower turnover.  There is institutional memory, persisting longer, habits like politeness and conversational ability.  There is less difference between the current generation and, say, that of four generations ago.  Which tends to make people more pleasant, less caught up with the latest changes promising superior lifestyle...)

It made me sad, the whole thing with her, old Miss Princess.  She never seemed to give me a chance, or if she did, as I could see, it was right after she had performed some magnificent cut-off put-down of me.  Unmistakable phrases, quiet clear in meaning.  Like, "Oh, God..."

I hadn't realized the impact it was having on my whole adult life.   It is, I suppose, the decent people who feel these things acutely.  A louder person would have played the match with her, been loud back.  Well, that wasn't who I was.   The insinuations of her language dog my psyche thirty years later, isn't that funny....   Like I have to prove myself to be decent even before opening my mouth.  I guess that's why am I waiter, a bartender, even...  Jesus Christ.  I can't be a ditch digger, let alone a teacher, unless I feel myself earning the title, proving I'm not what she said I was.

And that's not how life works, how people do things.  People just jump into things.  Sure.  Qualified.  That old self-confidence people always talk about.  Jesus Christ.


In a way I'd wish there'd been a Jim character to keep my Huck company going down that old river, Amherst.  ("My Waterloo," a classmate, a lawyer, described her as, not too long ago, coming through DC.)  Jim would have been supportive, and we could have gone fishing, forgetting about her.  Cheering me up.  "Who are these people," Jim would have asked me.  "They are racist," he might have said, racist against us, me and Jim, a slave on the run and a college professors son whose parents were splitting up....

Yeah, so you add a little bit to your pile, figuring out the puzzle.  What keeps holding you back from all the changes you should be making in your life...

A decent guy is never going to find it in himself to be harsh like everyone else.  He still likes people, finding them more or less mistaken, but hey, we all human, we all, all of us, make mistakes.  It's the being patient.  Other people don't have much time for that.  Nope.  They got things to do, lives to lead, choices to make, every day, choices.  The only choices a good and decent person makes is to be good and decent, first and foremost, in the middle, and lastly....

But it is that sort of "Fuck You," "I'm a decent person," the being thoughtful, that is so revolutionary, when you look at it, particularly in the context of the world's operations.  Revolutionary.

It messed me up pretty good though.  Her insinuations led to patterns, ones which drove wedges between me and my family, me and my college career, me and living a decent life led according to my values.  Well, I kept up with the values, you can't not.  But things that get in the way....

A mushroom cloud of pain that wouldn't go away.  I brought her flowers.  I was inept with her, sure, that's how kids are when they are trying to be themselves, not be some sort of phony act.

When you wake up finally, there's a kind of horror.  There's sadness.  Watching the soldiers tell their stories of being back in Ken Burns' The Vietman War reminds me of it.  You don't trust anybody....  It seems like you'd be taken as a misogynist even for saying so.  "Well, she didn't mean it.  She only said that, like, once.  What's the big deal?"  Yeah, and maybe she might not have meant it to be a big deal, but it was.   And she will never even apologize for it, and nor will her abetting friends.  You have a hard time trusting anyone.  It's always, "you're the asshole," meaning, myself.

So, yes, you're kind of broken.  Depressed, finally taking medication for it.   No retirement plan.  No suitable grown-up career.  And you get blamed for all that too, "your choices, your fault."   Which doesn't help.  All you are is a good person.   Perhaps not so effective at it, most of the time....

That's the crucifying world for you.  It's miserable.


Fit one piece in, fit in another.  Realize what the problem is, bit by bit.  Maybe that's how it has to go. You couldn't see the whole picture all at once;  it would be overwhelming.  So it takes time, finally figuring out who you are as a human being.  This is why people occupy themselves with things so they don't have to think too deeply, I suppose.

Even if you tried to be a good boy and write it down it might be miserable and wholly alienating that you wouldn't want to, and if taken as a writer, just for the sake of argument, it wouldn't be something you'd really ever want to talk about.  Or maybe you would, as part of the ongoing effort to get better, having finally realized how messed up you in fact are.


Writers get to be writers, I suppose, out of the desire to use words carefully, thoughtfully.  They might not be the quickest, the first in the room to respond to a stimulus.  That, to me, is a different mode of being than what I saw for myself arriving at college finding myself amongst New Yorkers, city folk.

There are all sorts of writers, I suppose.  Different temperaments.  Different walks of life.  Different walks of life.  Different attitudes.  Different sensibilities.  Joseph Conrad is Joseph Conrad, Anton Chekhov is Anton Chekhov, and Jack Kerouac is Jack Kerouac.  Kurt Vonnegut is Kurt Vonnegut.  Whether or not they even write.  An interface.  The person is important.  Should be more important than the writing.   A soul.  The writing is secondary if it is not the story of the person who is the writer.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

College is a time of transition, change, uncertainty.  You're away from family, everything's new and different.  It's a huge developmental task.  And if other things are going on then, uncertainty, stress, tensions back home, those compound the changes.  Normal ups and downs seem bigger, bigger blows for someone already in a fragile state.

Earlier in the session she'd asked me what it was like when it all blew up.  How did it feel?  Could change happen now without feeling like everything was blowing up again?

I'd not seen her, my therapist, in several weeks.  She had an important appointment during our normal time, and the next week I was headed up to visit my mom up at the university town where she lives.

It had been a validating experience, sitting in with a class at the SUNY with a colleague of hers, Sharon.  We were introduced as writers, a mother son team, and that was right.  Dr. H. acknowledged for me how life affirming it was, after I'd sketched it out for her.  The credential of writing a book, in terms of doing it no necessarily as the greatest writer, but as a form of education, writing in a way that was self-education, self-teaching, a process that itself was the deeper story behind the narrative, and therefore, truly, as an educator.  It had been the case that I hadn't quite known that, come to see, come to accept that.  For whatever that was worth.  And it did have some sort of worth, though obviously not in the direct creation of wealth, via a little book available through Amazon...  However personally somewhat awkward, as any roman a clef would be.

The visit up to Oswego to visit my mom, a ray of light into my situation, my sort of imprisonment.  Maybe I'd rebelled, as young people do, when feeling hurt.  But in the rebellion, the tradition, the genes, the values still come through.  Mom had written a book through her pursuit of the new life that had blown up my transition from home into the world.  Her's was a scholarly work, impeccably written.  Mine had been more of a literary effort in the sense that it feel with the realm of the novel and the short story.  Her work helped her, gave her a career along with the hard work of teaching, of education department tasks.  Mine had been a form of academic rebellion, I suppose.  Rebellions are costly.  They will leave you only with having strange jobs, strange lives and many unhappinesses.

And my own job was quite emblematic of foolhardiness and rebellion.  Week by week, no week an exception.  Nights working alone up at the wine bar, with scant help from downstairs, no late night sustenance to get me through the last few adventures.  People getting home far earlier than I and receiving the same financial reimbursement.  Having to deal with Jazz Nights at the bar, doing the complimentary wine tasting all by myself.  The closer.  Eating my supper all alone at the bar with a glass of Beaujolais to ease the pain and the angst.  Going back home alone on a bicycle, my courier bag slung over my back, having another glass when I got in, sat back on the couch, turned the TV on.

Waiting for the day off.   Scribbing a few thoughts down now and again.  At least some satisfaction in that, the process.


The Lexapro gives me diarrhea, but it seems to work with the mood stuff.  It might be putting a half tab of Propranalol, a beta blocker, into the mix, but that helps keep the calm.  Trazodone, I'll take one to help me sleep if it comes to that at some odd hour.  But the writing itself, that process, whatever it is, this is helpful too, as if questioning your own inner therapist.

Still, one needs a writing project.  A purpose beyond the self-explanations.

Look on the good side.  Therapy got you over the thing that hit hard, the compounded issue, the precipitated, the person not undesired for, or, a teacher in some way, the issue sketched out as The Princess in a book, occupying the mind for a long time.  She was a good compounder, with a sense of humor almost, give her credit for that.

"She treated you like a low-life," a similar session with the Dr. H, the fruit thereof.  That had helped.  And so, finally, did the distance, the time, the disappearance.  And even finding a recent picture of her, helping me see in a new light.

But that still left me in the same situation.  Just feeling better, feeling a bit less overwhelmed...


So.  Figure it out.  You're a grownup.  Get on with your life.


A book is not a lot to show for it all, but I suppose it's better than nothing.  There restaurant journals never paid off as far as offering more flesh to a journey I would have been on anyway, and perhaps a distraction, albeit one that paid a few bills for a time...

Sunday, September 24, 2017

On Sunday night, the wounds of the restaurant heal over somewhat, if it's not too busy.  Things are put back right.  The hard shift of Saturday night and its excesses are put behind.  It's hard to cap the end of the night off, and I treat myself to the veal scallopini special with mushrooms, bok choy and garlic potato.  It takes a while to put everything away, the juices to sleep in the cooler, the sparklings wines pushed down into the ice bin, the bar top counter wiped clean, the paper work and the money rolled up in decent order.  The barman has a few guilty glasses of Beaujolais, goes off across the street, locking the door behind him to grocery shop at the all night Safeway, purchases meats and pedialyte, comes back, puts the cold foods in the courier bag, slings it over the shoulder, closes the strap, and out onto the bike to head back home.  S to R, R to Q, how many times...

The ride back, mainly downhill, then up past the Turkish residence, before along the cemetery fence, the words of Gordon Lightfoot's Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald play in through his mind.  The wind in the wires made a tattletale sound...  The last night, he had been somewhat foolish again, the last two, two women coming in after a party at the French Embassy, letting his plate of veal cheeks stay at 200 degrees in the oven, as much as he was very hungry.  Starting with a taste of the new Chinon, 12.5 percent alcohol, to ease through the final stretch of conversations, speculations of the nuclear situation in North Korea.  


When you get home, then the Sunday night wasn't so bad.  A couple came in for an anniversary, sat upstairs with you.  You just got tired at the end, but rode it out on the ropes, and then everyone went away silently, except the last, the dishwasher, with the flashing light of his bicycle already on as he departs with a call from the stairwell and out the blue door.  There is peace, and there will be enough to eat to get through 'til the day off.  Pretty simple living.

A glass of wine, chilled, in a tumbler, with a couple ice cubes.    Ken Burns' Vietnam War, Things Fall  Apart, the title coming from Robert Kennedy quoting Yeats that fateful year, 1968, Tet, "the center cannot hold."


Writing is like a moon shot, a calculation.  You start where you start.  You take your aim, you start out, you follow the trajectory.  And it's all on the subconscious, the unconscious, basically, what you are writing about.  You might have actually little to do with it, this life trajectory of what you will end up writing about.  No way of knowing, but just doing.  Just like a child draws;  drawing is fun.  You have no idea if you are just are not.  But you are aware of avoiding, I don't know, tricks, I guess.  You do have to be honest with yourself, and you will try, but still you have no way of really knowing.  Pot shot.  Dumb luck.  Flying more or less blind.  And with a lot of mistakes in your own personal life to remember, never able to forget, reminded as if by drumbeats, again and again and again, excel that perhaps the mistakes finally were actually a way of bumping around in the dark, as if hitting nubs and tree branches, in order to find a way.  You don't know.

But the earlier you make mistakes, or what might be the smallest error, a small percentage point of being off, or mislead, or simply not being yourself, not that you would really know. and then follow that mistake, the further and further off you will end up going.  I think of Hemingway.  He was close, he was well aimed, he was very careful, but still...  that small percentage point, the slight distraction toward what might lead to success of a sort, recognition, strong image creation, good character presentation.  And he was strong, a tough guy, brave, very good of talent and skill, very devoted.  You can find where he went right, but there where he is right perhaps there seems a comparable lack of energy and clarity, compared to his involvement in the mistaken illusory things.  Bullfighting, the drinking, the bars, the portrayal of characters, a bit of going overboard, a bit of bluster.   I myself find something redeeming about him, enough of it, but that is a personal assessment, coming down to a few lines of his in the later works.  

But if you go off a bit, early on, the improper angle will only be magnified, increasing directionally on the mark of the whole effort.   Thus it is better to begin very very quietly, unnoticed, rather than wishing to be popular, your work effected by that popularity you must absorb through explanations.  Hemingway brought us fly fishing, and the Big Two Hearted River, good things.  He did his best to ignore being popular, but he also participated in his image making like a politician might.  But he knew it:  It's best to write very simply, about things you've seen, things you know.  Very careful steps.  Hemingway wasn't the greatest of philosophers or saints, but he had a good touch, helping the writing of writers who would come after him, because of his earnestness.  Yes.  Scrupulous choice of words and theme, a brilliant enabling of the unconscious.  Psychology.  

It is worth mentioning the differential.  If that is the sole contribution, so be it.

But it is, as you well know, not easy to write.  It is not easy to write a single thing.  And in that light it is acceptable to speak of tricks, short cuts, the finding of the false purposes and less fruitful paths of writing.  Better to find its music, wherever that is.  That point at which it somehow becomes art, no more, no less, sufficient unto itself, a voice as natural as it should be...

The girl, the princess, what does that mean to you?  That is a subject that comes up when we are having some sort of interesting state about following our instincts.  Confusion.

You're not learning anything worth writing about unless you are experiencing misery.  I think that is true.  That is the story of the classics.  That is the story of war.  The chance to be informed by the experience of hopelessness and misery.


Friday, September 22, 2017

I got on the road late, hard to say goodbye to mom, around eleven, and finally arrived at the door of the Old Gaul at seven.  The gypsy swing band was already in full tilt, and not at all quiet.  The bar was in a bad state of restocking.  Even before I came in, there were friends to talk to, and me, bleary eyed, ruffled and disoriented by flying on the road at eighty miles an hour over the hills of Route 81, then Harrisburg, then on to 15, then 270 and the last rush into the city of Washington, D.C., merging onto 495 and nudging over to get on River, then to Massachusetts. The boss called, where are you as I came up the hill toward the circle of American University, and I responded I was close to Wisconsin, though I wasn't really, traffic to slip through, the narrowness of the last stretch, finding parking in the lot across the street.  Back in the city.  Great.

Come up the stairs, throwing my courier bag into the stereo closet after retrieving a type clasp, finding a tie from above the power amp, tying it in the corner as people looked on with some curiosity.  The boss came over and fixed my tie where I'd missed being under the button down collar, and the young lady at the bar I caught up with briefly, no cold mineral water, not enough Sancerre cold, not any flute maison, beer poorly stocked, Jesus Christ, the dining room already full, and familiar faces wanting to say hi... a good friend in with his wife, just returned from the Balkans.  And me, feeling a bit broke.

A fine time the night before, taking my mother up to the college she retired from, a kind of triumphant return for a person shy of returning.

And I sigh as I finally can sit down to write now, the whole experience of return leaving me a bit shaky.  What am I doing here.   I tried to write, and tending bar got the best of me, and now I had this weighty personality of the wine culture dragging at me, and the boss is telling me the musicians only get one glass of wine, and charge them after there twenty dollar allowance for dinner.  At the end of the night, they get the bill and everyone's cool.  The band threw a tip, and I use it to charge for a glass of wine surreptitiously.  The last group of young folk I've been able to ignore for the evening come up to the bar, and the young woman wants another lesson in tending bar, tipsily.  Gotta get the rental car back.  But I have a glass of wine, and put up with them, though I'd desperately like to leave now.  It's my fault for engaging with them two weeks previously.


Back in Oswego mom and I are recognized as writers, and speak our extemporaneous thoughts to a classroom of education majors reading 'difficult' young adult fiction.  I speak a little too long about Dostoevsky's Notes from the Dead House and Twain's Huck Finn, and wondered aloud what societal issues they, given the innocent but worldly voices of young adult fiction, might now address.  It felt good.  Life affirming.  Vital to mental health and the sense of self-dignity.

In D.C., the feeling of having failed, that the efforts here were futile to allow for some sort of productive change toward a life that would be a good fit for me.  Here I was a simple slave of the restaurant business, of Frenchie and the persona I myself had been a fool to come up with.

I sip on green tea, licorice tea, pedialyte.  It would make sense that today would be a day of recovery after the long day of the intense drive, an intense night at work, taking the car back to the parking garage at the Marriot Wardman, descending six stories below in the low-ceilinged concrete tomb to the last level, the car rental company, parking the car and stepping out, the key into the overnight deposit slot.


But failure has a spiritual element to it, an adjustment to a more true reality...


Where do old writers go, when they can no longer sustain the jobs that bring them income?

The day off, he thought of all the pain, the late people keeping him, pushing him toward joining to ease around the final roadblock of getting home and his life back together, the physical pain, dragging himself in there, setting up where the young folks hadn't, the conversations, the bad habits he'd allowed to form, his methods, like Kurtz, unsound.  Monsters he had created, himself, willfully.  The glass of wine giving him energy to get through the last part of the night, the last customers after the jazz rattling his nerves, the hectic night's struggles to seat people, the young guy waiter lax, looking into his cell phone as the four top sat in the back...  That's life.  That's how it goes.

Sure, the drive was long, the night long, the extra task to avoid an extra day of rental charge on the car, a Nissan Rogue, an enjoyable ride.  Jarring, the return to the city's stretches, after a week in the country and more or less normal hours.

But you'll always write as a teacher.  Not even directly to be a writer.  Part the effort to teach writing, by going through a long process of self-teaching that ended up where it did, as it did.  It wasn't about the effort to simply write, not to create any particular work.  The politics of writing.  The lesson within it.  Obscure, surely, but worth tracking, and relevant after so many stories have been told, so many books written.  No real intent to ad another one to the great pile, but rather shoot for obscurity, for the active magic within the process, the healing.  Less about the product, no attempt to make it flawless, more about the process, the life of words, ever-changing.

Would you then, having done an amount of the real work, of the writing which is teaching, rather need to discard the shell of what had been, to move on, toward the purer representation, in which the writing envelopes the writer and then changes him, allows him faith, forward motion, a kind of innate status reached perhaps indiscernible, but of more self-recognition, less lost feeling.  Then allowing for something.

Is it rude to write?  Is it an inappropriate act when you have friends?  Is it not embarrassing, to its very core, subversive to the polite interchange and not too much information...

Find some self-reflective truth, then to share it...

And writing, well, it does seem to fall into the field of education, almost as much as reading itself, this strange archaic ability to be able to express the true self through the writing process.  I saw the interest myself in a real live classroom, and it was unforgettable, reassuring, life affirming.

To see the classroom made me think of the old song, The Rivers of Babylon, where the wicked carried us away, required of us a song....  That was just how I felt, smiling away, even as I bled inside.  The true Israel Zion life I wished was only glimpsed in the little sketches I came up with.  It made sense I found this not where I was, where I am now, in the city on the Potomac, but back at my mom's town, the closet approximation of the vestige of my old hometown, the college town, with the campus up on a hill overlooking.

The story of Job has a distinctly Buddhist tone, as far as a tale...   How could Job be satisfied when all his family and loved ones are obliterated;  you can't just replace all of that with new versions, unless we are indulging in a tale about how we look at reality and what reality actually is.  There has to be some metaphorical sense to the story to Job's perception, a tale not too far away from the basic Buddhist one about the weariness of the monkey mind ever at war with peace with the present moment, now.

Sketches from Babylon, this barman writes.


It might make sense that the writer, if he really is one, has to maintain the kind of separate personality.  There has to be the easy-going side, the sense of humor and wit.  That bartender guy, easier to deal with than the Jeremiad-prone writer of philosophical tomes.

Job has to write.  His encounter with God's word, where were you when I laid the foundations, is a fine example of the writer's gifts evident throughout the Testaments.  It even sounds like the writer, who could even be, at least metaphorically, Job himself, has entered the flow in which words and thoughts are coming out, making sense.  The writer has satisfied the deep need to think on paper, to solve the deep frustrating problems of the thinking life.

It is only through our own that we understand the biographies, the conditions, of others.  And if we reach the realms of archetypical characters, then we've accomplished an important analysis of the human condition.  Then we are less afraid to face its truths, less afraid to address those facets of particular lives, from small ones to larger ones.

The best writing you will do purely for yourself, the kind of writing that you do when no one is looking, when you do not mind expressing the deeper facets of inner life.  When you do not care about anything but the inner truth.  And that is the way to approach any of the larger figures of literature and the spiritual.

Can you ever get out of the moods you do through?  There's always Job in the background.  And if we come under a sense of our own success, conspicuous, widely-known, a kind of fame, then we must wonder if and ask ourselves if we have lost our sense, our contact with, of Job and his condition.  Or for Peter, for Paul, for those things which are the properties of The Son of Man.

I would not blame a writer who would eventually chose to be reclusive.


Friday, September 8, 2017

Not looking at the previous blog entries, ill-written, jumbled, sketches skipping around, not facing the actual work of writing...

We watch in slow motion as Mother Nature becomes part of the book, part of the church, the logos, as it in fact always has been and will be.  Harvey, followed by Irma, the American majority being the American majority, developing, building, moving in, fitting in, driving to work, then back to the tract town homes, responsible, working on fulfillment, living the consumer lifestyle aimed for self-satisfying material success, and meanwhile, the sea is rising, and on top of that and the torrential rains, a string of major hurricanes.  All of us guilty, but some of us more sensitive, less about consumption, more about the smaller footprint...



      Two servers have taken extended vacations at the same time, and the part time people are filling in, so don't expect too much from them.  I hit the Safeway after a busy shift, and when I get back home finally, lugging things back in the courier bag on my shoulder, Orion's belt almost vertical, three stars in a clear night sky, it's hard to feel sleepy.  I putter around, watch the development of Hurricane Irma, an overlay of all the development in Southern Florida's tracts to the west of Miami and the Everglades, get in a bike ride, pleased with the adjustments of the new bicycle saddle, leather, with anatomical cut-outs, have a chili dog minus the bun, take a pill and go off to sleep.  I wake to call mom, have some tea, make breakfast, encounter the runs, and go back to bed to read and rest.  Meditations turn to dream.  Ragweed, sapping my strength, is weighing me down.

And one of the few things to please me now at my age and in this time seem to be thoughts of Peter and Paul, of the organism participated in what they call The Catholic Church, entering into which people become an organic logos of the one true God, entering into the life of Jesus Christ.

I did not get to any church today, no.  I got up too late, too tired, my schedule completely off.  The church is a community, but today, a day off, I am laying low, licking my wounds, a bit of television to keep me company, "endless grilled shrimp at Red Lobster," before facing the dishes, trash night, the laundry.  Peace and quiet.

Downtown here, after the 11AM therapist appointment, I would go over to Saint Matthew's, coming by the alley from the backside of the great red brick church, into the side door, as Madam Korbonski liked to do.  12:05 Mass.  Following along, and even taking communion, careful to kneel at the end of the pew, bow as I accept, crossing myself afterward.

But take the Church back to the apostles, to Peter, to Paul.  Back to the juice, the original wine.  Lord, depart from me, for I am a sinful man.  The blinding light and the voice striking the soldier down, Saul, Saul, why dost thou persecute me?  Take us back, and then, to encounter the original form.


When you don't have the time or energy to write, burdened by work and this and that, there's not the time go back over earlier things, perhaps to edit, or clarify.  You have to keep, with what time you have, the ball rolling forward.  Writing is a tiny version of the things that happen in the celestial sky, always ticking, always moving, sun, moon, planets, stars, constellations, constant motion.  And so is everything.

After the efforts of hospitality, the slightly pandering to humor of the jovial aspect, and even the serious aspect of it, feeling inexplicably sinful despite all of one's bone and flesh involved hard work and load bearing, one craves incense, a church-like quiet and decorous behavior to be counted on.  One craves a kind of personal quiet, sad as it might initially feel.  This is work.  This is an effort, even as you'll never quite know which parts of it are misplaced and which might be track.

"There is but one God."  This is still a radical and revolutionary statement.  Still out of place in the modern city with all the abeyance to the popular gods and all the discussions the less guileless will cleverly engage in.  Will all the geopolitical details even matter much, once this globe of Earth regains its strength and viability as a part of the logos of the church, regains its proper place in such a way as it, by necessity, commands the attention it deserves.

Think of the pious people who took to the presence of the early church, the initial acts.  One must as an individual constrain to the reality of the just divine, just as the Earth's climate must, just as sea levels must rise, as sea temperatures must rise, just as native flora bear dying off.  The unjust parts of the being must too die off, the being finally getting serious.  There are things at stake.  The writer will stop with the stories that do not matter, will stop pandering to the many gods of consumption, will watch his own habits.

It is hard, very hard, to get serious. It takes a long long long time.  To get serious, in such a way, very old, traditional, would be unnatural to anyone immersed in modern life.  It would even seem unnatural to think, having viewed one's own self from the lens of the rational necessarily self-interested self-protecting member of the popular large, of some form of going into, joining with, reclaiming a spiritual life based on being organized around Jesus Christ and the church.  How would one even enter into such a thing, old fairy tales, quaintly faithful childlike innocence lining pews.  Is this what they mean by, "wrestling with an angel?"

Watching television I could almost gasp now at twelve thirty in the morning as Irma, September 9, scraping the northern coast of Cuba pauses, to fix direction, anticipating its turn north, a direct line to Florida.

_________________________________________________________________________________


Have faith, Jesus said, more or less, to the men with him when the storm rose on the lake, as waves rose, as winds howled, as the boat began taking water.  The storm is part of all of this, part of being a disciple, part of being with The Son of Man.  Indeed, what might you expect, given how life is.  Quite normal, the storm.  Does, one hates to ask, the storm serve a purpose, a purpose aligned with the balance of That Which Is, the one God of the Old Testament and the New, who is nameless, an I Am.

The apostles would have known that, what the storm is like, the radical remaking, the transformative process into the new reality.

The "Come to Jesus moment," they call out sometimes on the night news coverage in the context of the political life...  The speech pattern, the habit of modern dialog.  But what would it actually be like, actually entail?

But how could you not be inspired, modern cynicism aside, by the tale of Jesus gently calling to Simon Peter, an ordinary fisherman, a failure in the sense that he must keep toiling, even when he catches no fish as he did that day, working close to naked.  Peter knew himself to be a sinner, and though we might have no idea to the specifics of his own self-estimation as "a sinful man," we get it, our own uselessness to live an actively pious life helpful to others.  The littleness of our accomplishments even when we have a day off from the regular steady toil... frittered away with self-grooming, with household chores that bear precedence over whatever social life you might struggle to have with your own hours such as they are, as if you had the energy to overcome the lonelies.  That shrugging off of Peter's is a realistic detail of the story, and so are the words of Jesus himself, quiet, understated, "fishers of men."  As if there weren't enough distractions for these poor fishermen trying to take care of things, their families.  To take that step, to be a disciple, to go with Jesus Christ to be a fisher of men, would be a step into a great unknown, and if not the complete resigning abolishment of a customary career, a step into a form of unemployment, in modern terms.

Jesus would have liked him, this sinful man, the fisherman Simon Peter.  He liked him for a reason, for good reason, for excellent reason.  Jesus was not a loquacious type, not to waste his words, and his words toward Peter are cleverly selective in their choice, as they would be throughout the whole interchange between the two.  "It is good that we be here," the humble fisherman says, as if anyone is listening, while the luminaries speak with each other upon the ridge of the Mount of Olives.   (I am relying heavily on Father Barron's Word on Fire, explicating Catholicism.)

Perhaps he, Peter, was honest, to a fault, maybe he was bashful, overly polite, maybe given to amateur attempts at poetry, thus the thoughtful eloquence of his lines.  Perhaps he was intelligent beyond his job and societal function.  He would have been at a crossroads of humanity, dealing with all types.  There is no mentioned woman in his life?  His mother's dwelling?  Maybe his goodness was interpreted by the practically minded women of his age as a bit odd, not exactly creepy, not living in a creepy kind of way but a bit off from the usual husband type, a friend, in that awkward spot that left Peter with enough time to ponder sinful thoughts when he was not hard at work as a fisherman merchant.

For Peter the world came to pause for him, when the Jesus the Christ approached.  As when watching on television a massive hurricane approaching.  That small break so craved for in the tiring routine, what's next in life?  how to get there?  how to change? coming toward him.  The great storm that brings fresh air along with its destruction of the old and the past.

For Paul, different, but also a beautiful story.  The voice of the master calling, gently despite the show of heavenly command.  The voice of a lover who's been persecuted, had imposed upon him the embarrassment of interpreted motives, all of which that missed the mark, the human being, the heart, the real intent unrequited, but still one's job to call upon people, as gently, as eloquently, as poetically, as truthfully, as honestly one can.  Could it have been a woman upon whom Jesus voice comes, "Saul, Saul..."  Wanda, Wanda...  Maybe that scenario would have raised to many eyebrows, raised the intrusiveness of interpretation.  In a way, that ties us back into Peter's situation, the way this writer has formulated it based upon his own experience, all a writer has at the end of the day to go on...

Peter, Jesus, Saul, they all have that misplacement of understanding in common.  This sense of being treated like a lowlife.  This sense of being in an injustice that goes far into personal lives, for more personal  than the justice of the normal laws, the lawyers, the paperwork, the court, the judge and the jury.   There does seem to be a hypersensitive to these sort of problems in the New, that if thy neighbor accuses thee, seek reconciliation before thou has lost everything...

A creature of political fortune,  Lincoln--we overuse him--could write about the loss of the bondsman's two hundred years of unrequited toil, perhaps in the same vein, the thousand shocks that flesh and reputation are heir to, the stabs because of offenses, that hit the good as much as the bad are stuck with for one small social mistake or another.  Jesus cleanses.  The old literature, the tales of Job and Jonah, cleanses.  The storm is calmed, the disciples remain in the boat, engaged.  Not cast off and away, as those who would be by buying into all the modern gods.  Only the one true who is and must be nameless and unseen, coming forth through faith...



The moon is above now, the crickets cheeping rhythmically, without with syncopation of the departed cicada, and the writer writes what he can and the clock ticks, the laundry groans in the basement, the oven beeps coming up to temperature for cooking burgers.

Would Peter and Paul have ever met?  Two different personalities, one could say.  Paul, Saul, was, obviously in a certain realm, prosecutorial, a man with an ambitious career, putting himself ahead while others go down, a zealous kind.  Then he reformed, and one mode turned into quite another thing.  Peter might have taken things out upon himself, but he was not an up in arms hater, but more of a go along with it kind of guy, thus distinguishing Jesus as someone above his own sort of walk of life.  Jesus begged to differ with one, the other he more or less confronts, albeit in an honest way, not mincing his words, as if they had a history together, a point of commonality.

The word of history tells us that the two did meet.  Paul came to visit Peter for fifteen days in Jerusalem.


Peter, a strong man, intelligent, sensitive, poetic, a good guy, a good conversationalist, an adventurous sort, had run afoul of the self-centered opportunistic priggish authority types of Judea and whatnot.  An ostracism, rather than support, from the womenfolk.  The women folk didn't necessarily mean it, but their efforts were brutal upon him, such that he didn't mind talking to fish or muttering with the fishermen types.  Peter, a wandering type, not unfriendly with strangers, but an adult grown self-conscious about this fault of irresponsibility, so that he is attempting to cover himself from the long standing subliminal accusations against him mirrored by the charges against him which he denies before the cock crows of following strange itinerant types.  Jesus knows this about him, reading his heart.  Knowing the peculiar misery that the life of a fisherman, being so busy in the moment as to forget your problems, during the down time, the self-questioning, as bartenders face in late hours before sleep and before shifts...

Paul, of a very intelligent and lettered legal mind, abhorrent to the liberties the new sect of the Christ was taking, was on the other side, a paranoiac, or rather a realist, about the machinations of society to create deviants out of people.  Never would he be naive drifter of waves like Peter, gullible.  A great relief he found in his dramatic conversion, nailed down by the holy light, the heavenly finger pointed at him, "stop."

Peter begins as gullible, an over believer, tamed by the hardness of life.
Paul begins as the ultimate skeptic, whose eyes must be opened...

Of two different temperaments were they.

And yet, and yet, they found a common ground, happily, even joyfully, despite.

Do we live through our own lives primarily as a way to discover the essentials of the incarnations of such figures as those of the inception of the church, people like Peter and Paul?  Perhaps the analysis of our own little personal biographies are a means of understanding the original archetypes.

A radical, as Jesus was, is a problem, for others, even for himself.  But the radical side is the creative side...


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Busy eve of Labor Day.  Running around, regulars, a good night to talk, but I am stretched.  The job gets done, over and over, but, there are certain things that need attention.  Peace-making after an incident, the visit of one couple involved that got involved with another, the spark from the reaction to the hurricane in Houston.  The problem stemming from the familiarity, a good thing, in a barroom.  I wasn't there.  Four nice people got into an argument that got a bit ugly.  An old restaurant manager of mine comes by with a date.  He has a restaurant in Del Ray, very cool.  We'd been through a bunch of stuff together, and on Facebook, kind enough to look me up.  He flatters me:  "a hard-working guy."  What higher compliment is there.

"I like travel," every person on dating sites will tell you.  How about waiting on people, on accepting everyone who might walk in through the front door, to talk to, to figure out, to make reasonably pleased to expectations and beyond that that of their own individual personalities, as what is, finally, hospitality anyway.  I've done that act for more than twenty five years.  And doing that without having to create some kind of commercial personality beyond what I actually am, what I actually do. For whatever...

At the end of it, after counting the money and putting the wine away, I have to rest on the banquette in the wine room before I have energy to pack up and head home.  I sleep for an hour, wake up not refreshed, but better for getting back on the bike.  Back in the apartment, I cannot fall asleep, finally end up taking a pill, then sleeping 'til six in the afternoon.  Labor Day.  Brilliant, sunny, clear, the blue sky.  It's ragweed season, and that will take it out of you, believe me, not quite predictably.

Don't blame myself if I have nothing to write about.  I work, I have a job.  It's tiring.  

Writing is a commercial game.  You wouldn't do it, unless you were making money at it, no?  Why be stupid.  Learn to write copy.  Sell organic soap, or recipes.  Write something that will sell.


Therapist says, commit to something.  That will be the cure.  "Okay, honey.  Okay."  And what have I been doing, for the last thirty years?

It was my fate, to come to a city, a capital, of something.  There is a pattern in that, and staying  back in the old valleys, questionable.

One should be rich enough to travel, to take vacation.  Yet the poor cannot do this.  They travel, like I do, through practicing hospitality, innocent friendliness.

In that way, our own narratives merge with the story of a Jesus Christ, a Buddha.

To look forward to a work shift was often difficult.  Consuming, physically.  (well, what would you expect.)  But that it got you nowhere, as far as being in the logic of the reason of every other job, money, security, retirement, bells and whistles like travel.

But I found people on the vapid side, even as they were good people, when their own conversations leaned toward the pleasures of consumer travels.  Good, but not quite full of light.  Good chatters, good senses of humor.  People, real people.  Enjoying the comic, as people do in bars.

Every shift I worked, I worried.  Almost consumed by worries.  Prepare, prepare, then deal with it.  And it was very stressful.  For many reasons.

So, what was the way, the only way left really, to, as a good friend had asked, with much meaning and insight, to, as we say, Relax.





Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Schoo, schug, schoough, schoogh, schugh, the bike tire of my old Bianchi as it rolls on the trainer stand..., the color of its frame of the trademark Celeste, almost of a Virgin of Guadalupe green blue, a hint of starlight, sounds as I pedal slowly through the night, relaxing, unwinding, throwing the muscles of my legs into a sort of match with themselves, calisthenics, like a baseball game, a rhythm, a changing of tensions, as if a sailboat now were catching the wind.  The bar rolls under the tire...  The legs, the quads, the calves, make their own invisible sound.

Underneath, within the bicycle itself, a smoothness that has withstood perfectly over time, over years, the smoothness of the mechanical chemistry of the Campagnolo factory, hubs, bearings, the crankset, set into lubrication for a thousand years if not eternity, the sound of an efficiency that overrides the sound of the back wheels tires passing over the roller bar that substitutes the road itself of this trainer stand the bike is confined by above the carpet, primarily by a clamp that screws down onto the back axle, sandwiching the carefully crafted  quick release hub.  The pressure holds the bike without squeezing out the vital lubrication.  The bicycle itself is a perfection of smoothness.  You're riding the same bike, in the same way, as Fausto Coppi, or Marco Pantani, going up L'Alpe D'Huez.  The same holiness applies, a moonshot on a bicycle, the solitary climber fighting off the brutish teams.

The banded muscle of the legs vibrate back and forth, pulling, pushing... kneading the bones around in their circle.  They tighten, they loosen, they jump and dance, and they speak to the organism as a whole, animated with life.

The fan is on before me.  Whir, whir, and another, the air conditioner behind the sofa, set to fan. It is summertime, August.  What the hell are you doing up at this hour anyway.  Watching Father Barron on the television screen, Life On Fire, story of Catholicism.




And now in the woods, or even as I type.  A strange feeling, one I am not used to.  The feeling of actual happiness, as I go to work.  The path, through the woods, level, then descending, then climbing.  As I enter the woods, a homeless man I respect but do not trouble, off to the left, living there, as far as I can tell, year round.  He once told me that it was against the rules to ride my bike on the paths in the park, and I politely obeyed, and then later--after my own encounters with mounted park police--he told me it okay to ride, and I thanked him and explained that I liked to walk and look at the birds.  A sort of friendship.


Platonov, Amongst Plants and Animals:

It was much like that opening scene.  The baby rabbit playing with its own droppings.  The simple anonymous man, 'hunting,' without the slightest intent to hunt, just 'getting nature.'



What has gotten into me, he wondered, on the path to work, through the woods.  He looked upon the decay of a certain fallen tree trunk, and the hill, seeing the beauty of its decay in the late afternoon forest-filtered sunlight, dappled, bringing out the trees fibers turning into brown dirt.   Down the steep hill, a massive tree, uprooted in a storm, on its side downward over the path of the creek that leads down to the stream.  The tenders of the park had cut through the thick trunk where it had come down on the lower path.  The dirt pulled up, the roots bare.  The tree down, the man saw, reclaiming some effort, that of being in nature, and it all making sense again.  "What is this strange almost unfamiliar feeling of old happiness, joy, contentment... Possibility."

There was the stream below, and each object in the woods along the path was a worthy subject of Atget, a photograph, all of it, infinitely so, composed naturally, how could one even know what the best part of it all was?  Was it the larger fallen tree, uprooted in a summer downpour of high winds, down below, or, near where you walked along with a deer grazing just 15 feet away near saplings planted in the restoration of local flora...  Overgrown, yes, but still, life, green, air, water, mineral, and some sort of fire, unseen.

Is it that it is August, the body full of the sunlight of summer, before the cruel clock change of early November, and then the winter, the holidays at work, the difficulties.

Who am I?  What is time?  I have found some happiness again, isn't that interesting...  In such a mood now, now, what he was going to did not seem oppressive, but almost rather presented itself as an opportunity, not so difficult to put into some form of being...  The man observed all this within and without, came to the low bridge over the stream as it came down from the manicured meadows where the stream was lined with stones making a slow series of tiny waterfall pools, and proceeded pushing his mountain bicycle up the paved road that climbed steeply.

And with the good feeling, a kind of awful raw sensitivity, a sense of a shimmering white-clad strength of spirit within.  Which he must have found strange, a thing going back to childhood with stuffed animals, infinitely gentle.  Idiotic, but acceptable.



... And Doctor, this is, well, you know, you're that age, you fall for a beautiful girl--in quotes--and you just think it's going to work out;  of course, it has to;  it's love, unselfish, Corinthian...  But it doesn't work out.  It's a series of unstoppable decaying events that are of misunderstanding.  And because of what that relationship, that she and he, that time perfect for such developments and new opening chapters, well, that becomes a bright spot, romantic, against a backdrop of the stuff of life.  The stuff of life, well, you think you'd just be happy, that home would always be home, safe, secure, eternal.  You think you've gotten thus far and doing well as far as that ideal career of being the great teacher of words, poetry, literature, the psyche, the subconscious methods of the artist...  The seeds planted, well, yes, of course they are doing well.

But the story starts to change.  People become mortal.  Time, finite.   Poetry and the passing of time, all the more meaningful and poignant.   And it become seen that life is not easy.

You get a little bit quiet.  College, and living amongst all the facile New Yorkers who like to talk and hear themselves talk is a lot different from those towns where you went to school.  Small town, small town, lots of land, farms, barns, roads, and here and there the settlements that happen upon the earth.

You make mistakes, as any 20 year old kid would, the usual foolishness, shyness, making things more complicated than they would have been for the self-confident...

The bright spot of life becomes a serious downer.  Isn't that strange.  The thing that was, as you saw it, as a net to catch you, a parachute, something to care for you just isn't there.  And you drop like a rock and hit the ground.  Such is fame, ha ha.

It's like the very thing that, that you think anyway, will make you happy the answer to your dreams becomes the thing the chemistry of the depression, itself a sign, a token, of maturity and adulthood and grave seriousness, coalesces around.   A precipitation in the brew of life.  The red herrings of life, so to speak, even as we ourselves are herrings...

And you know, not that I am anybody, but this is what came upon Lincoln.  The thought of the rain on the girl's grave...   Or was it an awful foreboding sense of all the duties that lay before him out there in the future beyond such places as backwater towns, New Salem.   It was almost as if he liked that sort of poetic melancholia.  And he even wrote anonymous verse in the local paper;  we might find embarrassing, but 19th Century enough to get away with, the couplet lines.  The guy was handcuffed, constrained from taking anything seriously that wasn't his stuff, like the greatness, like the unintentional eloquence, simplicity, his golden rectangle thoughts, his originality...  But what a burden, a kind of madness gently strained...

That's how I feel about writing.  I'll come up with something eloquent, perhaps.  And it won't be about the girl, the Princess in the book, anymore.   It will come as being about the noble voyage of the soul in a fallen world, I suppose.  It will be an attempt to recapture, if you will, the eloquence of Corinthians and the things of that nature, parables, little lessons that tell no story other than that of the soul.  Yes, reclaim all that.  Even if you're just a fake, a phony, who-the-heck-are-you-kid, even if you're just trying to sound noble and being a bad actor about it, without the gravitas necessary.  Like Lincoln, in his Brooks Brothers overcoat--he earned it.   And he too, well, at least in the storybook, is about that noble voyage of the soul.   Yes, I think he must have felt some kind of very deep sense of angst or pain, anxiety, whatever, some foreboding sense of natural disasters and manmade ones, so that he wrote, as if it were his sword, his pen, a protective powerful weapon.

Not everyone careth about the poor.  Most of us don't seem them as equals.  Not everyone cares about the problems of the poor.  Rather, we strive ourselves not to be poor, not to end up that way, horrible, we think, the trailer park, the urban hovel month to month, scary, the neighbors.

Poor bastard.  That's what JFK liked to say, 'poor bastard.'  He must have thought of Lincoln in the twilight of those very words, poor bastard, the war, the idiot generals.  And Kennedy himself, he too was a poor bastard, with all his health issues, his spine rotting away from all the cortisone treatments, all the things that are supposed to make you healthy and functioning but eat at you, the supposed cures.

Do I want to write when I get up?  No, not always, sometimes I'm too scared almost.  Too worried.    And it would be all the easier to wake up and just stare at your iPhone, Facebook, email, Google News, the weather, Tinder, Bumble...  Rather than face all your own crap.

Well, that's not going to help you get to the place of writing.

In John's Book of Revelation images, in which the just are redeemed and the wicked put in their places, Jesus comes and asks us, explicitly, to write...  How 'bout that.  Emily Dickinson loved that.  Didn't she...

What do you do, Lincoln, to run it all off?  Where's the release valve for the pressure?  It has to come from somewhere.  Why not the old Bible, the Good Book...  Psalms.  The Gospels...  Does that make me deficient?

All a bit tiring.  "Stand up and fight!"  No, later.  I got to go to work anyway, later, and hang in this state between writing and not writing, sleep's dreams and waking thoughts.  The administrative efforts of life.



The day of the eclipse, I woke to a sort of WWI dream.  I'm handed a pistol, now that I've tried to step up, and I am charged with holding something like an Ernest Hemingway public square.  Someone much like my brother has enlisted me, told me that I have to, have to do the right thing, that I am being cowardly, and that all bad things are coming, and we must all now be in the greatest of defensive mode.  The airplanes, primitive and slow, like those of the first Great War, are circling now around from the left over the city skyline.  Aggressors have started to move in, and I discover, my pistol is really useless as far as accuracy and range.  To shoot at them is a joke, but there is much chaos.  The enemy is very aggressive.  Its individuals move about very quickly, appearing at random, and to shoot at them is like aiming a pea shooter at them.

The troops the honorable, like my brother, are in, are fighting off somewhere in the main defense of the old city, very serious, off to the right in my mind, and things are not going well.  The troops come up from the subway, like this is London during the blitz, and I shoot at the first "german" I see,which amounts to shooting uselessly at an enemy already captive, already basically dead anyway.  War is blindness.  I roll back and forth in my sleep.

Friday, August 18, 2017

At night, sometimes, in the summer, I go for a ride, late at night, while the city is sleeping.  Up past Kalorama, rolling on the sidewalk in front of the mosque, and then over the bridge, the far end the start of the long steady climb up Wisconsin Avenue and the Cathedral, there is a road less travelled, that dips down into the dell feeding streams into Rock Creek the other side of the creek, tamed by boulders and sewer outlets, beneath the original great hotels of the higher grounds, from the parkway.  The roads are narrow, well lit by street lamps, well paved, and hilly, such that one can plot out a course of hills to ride in succession.  At night there are bucks, two, with decent horn, in the front yards of home across from the Finnish Ambassador's Residence.

Lincoln, when he was here, as President, of course in the wartime, liked his nighttime horseback rides and walks.  One night, as is reported, he walked all the way from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue on up Massachusetts all the way up the Naval Observatory, not far from these night rides.  In your fifties, everyone has come to grasp everyone else's craziness and their own, and he found it not unfitting, and not unwarranted, to go out for such solitary trips, unprotected by bodyguards, on up to the Soldier's Home, where once someone put a rifle bullet through his top hat.  Something he shrugged off.  That's how wartime is; people get crazy.  Better to avoid, if you can.  If you can.

You're crazy, you know, your wife is crazy, each in an understandable and coming-by-it-honestly-enough through some curse of depth and talent and spiritual intelligence and intuition;  the whole country of people has gone crazy, and now the most crazy thing, war, is burning like an unstoppable fire, odd because you really just wanted to do something peaceful and biblical, which is to free enslaved peoples, and here you go, Bloody Kansas, this whole uproar just primarily because you were picked to be President, Jesus Christ, why not go out for a nighttime ride to clear the head and at least feel good in an animal way.  Let the rest of this bemudded town disappear below and behind my back as I gain wind, and find that fresh air that lets me deal with it all.  Thunderstorms, I do not care, I welcome, and shoot at me, I don't give a rat's hind as they say.

One day I'll be dead, anyway, and whatever small seeds this old prairie boy is able to plant through is beleaguered words, let it happen, the torch has been passed to a new generation, so it will be one day said, remembering my ghost.


Nighttime, if you live here in this powerful and protected town, is for those who live here, accustomed to it, locals, seasoned veterans.  Big cars darkly muffling prowl through U Street near the Chili Bowl, the old jazz corridors, people adept at being out and talking to each other as one big family, carnivores of fun and no small flirtations...  and in more sedate parts of the Northwest part of the town, where there are significant woodlands and fresh air of a sort lower than Lincoln's cottage at the Soldiers Home, near a favorite tree, and why not liberate yourself from the expectations of minds and punditry and let the imagined and the imagination speak to the silent night filled with sounds like running streams, unbroken by the nagging and frightful sounds of rumbling traffic, sirens, a speeding semi duty of U.S. Postal Service braking to pass through Sheridan Circle early before even the hint of first light.  Dave Chappelle could joke about the contrast, the white guy's night out, versus "his colored friend," that's a joke.  Lincoln,  you know goddamn right and well, loved a good laugh, a good carousing late at night to relieve things, much as he is portrayed a bit dry,  Well, to be so dry and noble, you know the fellows keel ran pretty deep, knowing and partaking in the depths of the waters of how men are, drinking, talking to women, telling stories...  The Second Inaugural doesn't come from playing paddy cake paddy cake, or a strict strictly legal mind.  He wouldn't have chosen to leave the Address at the Cemetery up at Gettysburg to be so brief, had he no sense of humor, and an Irish one at that.  Eloquence is a balance, my friends.  You got to know the shit to know the stars, as any country singer will tell you, vestiges of the earlier America and still a large part of its working soul.  Lincoln was not a plastic bullshitter, waving the flag for the annual Memorial Day concert on the National Mall.  Funny they even made a monument lit at night, such a character, who really is too interesting to be lit at night, who would have preferred some anonymity.


(And he wouldn't have cared so much about himself getting shot, but for the inconvenience of it, so much as them who are supposed to know such things plainly obvious about such men, as much as them letting that poor Kennedy boy get shot as a sitting duck, when they knew Oswald had neon signs about him...)


Hemingway, it strikes me, as I roll free, feeling that excellent feeling of being light and airborne and comfortable on the more modern of my two road bikes, the Cannondale, tires juiced up to near high pressure, my headlamp charged enough, just hungry for getting out into the night, Hemingway's stories are parables of fame, in one way or another.  He was a gentleman coming from a 19th Century literary tradition of gentleman like Turgenev and Balzac.  The Short Happy Life of Francis MacComber speaks of the decay inherent in running the literary business successfully, as do even early short stories hint, like the one about getting caught for poaching game out of season, having to hide out.

It was important for him to make a success out of himself at that venue, and indeed he succeeded, well enough and with some magnificence.  He is an artist, a good will ambassador, deserving credit for taking the time to explore human existence in a developed and sensitive way.  There is spiritual stuff in him, but more as a tale to tell than a complete focus on it.  He reached out to portray the lives of the poor and the injured and with some sensitivity toward those who live in cities, habits of cafe life, and those of the country side.

Hemingway's calling is his, and he hit it in a maturing form.

But knowing what you want to be at age twenty is different from the calling that happens further on in life.  Would one now know, these days, the full nature and meaning of their calling?  I wouldn't have known then, like I knew almost the opposite, even as I kept on.


Thursday, August 17, 2017

One night after heavy rain, after work, just following my return to the city from my mom's, I went out back in the garden and pulled out vines and weeds.  They came out easily and soon there was a good pile of them on the step stones.   In the morning, in the light, there a clump ten feet by ten, about four feet high of pulled vines, small trees, a miscellany of weeds that in the jungle weather and rains had overtaken the garden.  After a few hot dry days there now needed to be a way to get rid of the pile.

Too much to take out to be put in big hefty bags, I choose a late night after work, took out the weber grill from dusty corners, low on charcoal, found an eternolog made of recycled cardboard impregnated with combustible wax, built a starter fire and started piling on the vines, still green, some of them wet.  The dead of summer.  Smoke rose quickly, and then flames, and when the flames went down, I threw on more and the smoke was everywhere, the smell of campfire on the clothes.  I was careful, and nervous, and watching with a hose incase the flames rose too high or any neighbor might wake and call out, what the hell are you doing.  The hour got late, and the pile went up in smoke without incident.

Except for a small scratch on the back of the leg, as I'd been dumb enough to conduct this damp and dirty business wearing shorts rather than jeans.

And weeks later, after attempting to treat something looking ulcerous and the back of my left calve, red, itching.  In an attempt to topically treat, I'd forgotten my allergic reaction to the antibiotic Neosporin.  Bandages, sterile cotton, hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, tea tree oil, silver ointment, and Polysporin tube sat around the coffee table as I went to and fro from work.

So I sat waiting in the doc's office on a rainy morning, a copy of The Bhaghavad Gita in the recesses of my wet courier bag as I sat on the examination table, the paper crinkling beneath.

I am told just to cover it and leave it alone.  That's it.  Soap and water.  A bandage.

Funny;  best just to leave things alone, to let wounds heal themselves, no matter how bad, or infected, things might look.

It's a weak spot for me.  I came closer than I'd like to think about an infected wound when I first came to town.  There was a waitress who waited for the poor busboy sweeping up after the night, that first year at Austin Grill.  There was some sort of after work get-together, a break for the norm.  I rode with the cooks, who got there, and decided they needed they needed to make a cigarette run.  And I, being as quiet as I was back then, having a hard time expressing my will, simply opened the door of the moving car and stepped out into the alley of a DC summer night.  Later on I made it back to her mom's apartment with her, and she took care of the wound on my foot, which got worse.  It wasn't til one of my housemates where I lived down on Foxhall, Sandra Patty, a nice woman who'd travelled in Europe and wore European laundry which was often drying upstairs near the bathroom hallway, told me I needed to go to a doctor, gave me a name for one, shaking her head as she looked at the wound just inside and down the foot from my right ankle bone.

That was the time when I'd first came to town and worked two jobs.  The temp job by day, the busboy by night.  The doctor gave me an antibiotic, and showed me I needed to keep the wound clean, etc,. cleaning it out twice a day and keeping it elevated.  Both jobs were ones I had to do on my feet.  I remember sitting in a men's room stall where I cleaned the wound at lunch time in the office somewhere near 19th or 20th and L or K.  The scab gave way under as I swabbed it with the hydrogen peroxide, and black sort of hole opened up, and I almost fainted at the look of it.  I cleaned it out, didn't look too deeply at it, put the antibiotic ointment on it (I wasn't allergic to at that age), bandaged it up, took a deep breath and went back to work.  It hurt.  I took aspirin, and I got through my shifts, and eventually, I forget how long, it began to heal up, no more hole in my leg with black stuff in it.  No more gauze bandage to put over it and limp through a night standing on my feet running around as a busboy.

Healing is a wonderful thing.  And we all have our scars.  We all are, well, almost dead, either in the narrow good way a thing went rather than a bad way.  My brother's fingers remember on cold days holding together the electrical system that kept the motor of a fishing boat running, somehow under the cold sea water that had risen within the boat.  Numb and pain.  He doesn't tell the story often.

Some wounds, though, you have to, as I say, leave alone.



Actually, I found that my hospitality, it came at a good time in the world.  And that life and the world should throw my talents toward the job as it was and had to be dealt with was not a bad thing, once I got healthy, as August with a  belly full of sunlight allows, before the darkness of clock changes and winter night shifts and cold bare commutes on a bicycle.

You had to look at what is going now, as far as automation, globalization, the possibility of robots taking over, no more brick and mortar, etc., etc., etc.   There has to be some common reflection of the hospitality which is at our own spiritual reality as a high animal most capable of hospitality.

Outside on Connecticut Avenue, near the old office of my therapist, and near the alley that takes you from N Street and behind the old low brick stables that have stood since before Lincoln's time, behind the tall office buildings, the side door to enter the red brick cathedral of St. Matthews, there is a halal stand that serves lamb and chicken and felafel, for $6 or $7 a decent meal to have under your belly after the talk at the therapist office regarding your own mental health and life and history and existential situation, there is hospitality.  The young man is from Syria, I think.  I talk with him through Ramadan fasts when it is hot out...


It is a high claim, I suppose, to think you're doing something noble and spiritual serving wine and food.  There could well be Quixotic bluster to it, no doubt.  We are flawed representatives, earthy, sinful, fallen, living in a broken rattling world full of people grasping for power without the balance, perhaps, to keep a balance.

And it is enough to return, after one's labors, to one's own little peaceful chapel and place of prayer, a Buddha statue, some wine, incense, monkish duties, folding too many clothes, fixing supper, taking out the wine bottles, the plastic used, the trash.

I began to not really care about getting published and all that.  I'd found hospitality, and kept at it.  I'd written things as truly as I could see them.