Sunday, May 21, 2017

Feeling better, even with the cold, the hacking cough, the week taking away your energy.

Day off, I stay close to the house.  Nothing but rest.  I suppose I am  beginning to see some need to change this habit of writing.  If I am feeling better, perhaps it's no longer so necessary here.  There's not much energy for it anyway.  A lack of purpose.  Or is it this new found state of being has its own ups and downs.  Being sick does not help.  I've felt sleepy all day.

And then, the better feeling, slowly coming over me, the desire to clean, to focus, to watch or read something suitable, not felt in a long time, somehow.

Do I even want to go back, to Amherst, such as I am?  I put so much into it.

This weird feeling here, of not doing it, but... that overriding purpose, to get better.  And that is good enough, the story of all people.

dreams, a vision of brian, my brother's pal, his hearty laughing company, along with a dog, my brother's friendship and approval.  That wonderful time when we were all together, participating...

waking sweaty, after the long rest.  only 1 bottle, a beaujolais, 12.5%, in total last night, good nutrition.

Three o'clock, PM, fuck, it is really time to rouse this body to go to work?  Give it another snooze nine minutes.  There are cooked sausages in the fridge, and I made the pot of green tea, somewhere late in the night as I cleaned, a new approach to the dusty old bedroom and all the piles of books, the old dust of winter, set in with all the habits of my old lovely literary mom...  Books back into the rough simple pine coffin board book cases made of wine cases, Bordeaux and other.  The Irish stack, next to the bed.  A strange mountain climbing book by the literary critic A. Alvarez, friend of Bonnington, of Hughes and Plath, tales of rock climbing the Old Man of Hoy, and in the Dolomites, and Himalaya, the addiction, "Feed The Rat."...  in order to turn in, and then, shit, is it time, yes, no one to work for me, graduation weekend, I must go, and isn't that old milepost, graduation weekend, a thing in the mind, and at the restaurant, those pretty young people bound for success as you might expect, in Washington, D.C.

The strange good moods pop up, from time to time, new to me, but, again, like those of being young. These moods are strange, surprising, creative as I've always loved to be creative, to be spiritual, to let that side of intelligence hang out like that of a free jumper or some other bold adventurer caught or catching the high, in my case, some of my high, words, the words themselves, apparent in that old bastard, Shakeyspeare.  I would have loved to have gone bike riding with him on the high road above the valley, spring still gritty from all the road crews had put on the roads to tame the winter grip of frozen wet, down that road, lined with trees, having to brake and diplomatize with the group of dogs, left to overlook Deansboro and drop a lovely sinking road to the Deansboro Hotel, or right, as you looked toward Tassle Hill the mystic pagan mound as if chipped round by druids the quick down spiraling road past the quarry down to 12B, less far away from Oriskany Falls.  Those roads will never be like they were in my childhood, though the green will be the same, and the farms still there. Years ago, on a return, I outran a pit bull type dog who came up along with predatory silence, in a large enough gear, and the even that long bend down, westward to the valley and 24, coming from OK Falls to Vernon Center, the real center of everything if you stopped to think, and loved by Wallace Markfield, for its bandstand, and tractor yard and market store, down that, the one real hairpin turn, woozy to take, down to that valley where Knoxboro was, and higher above the land, the ridges just like min, where the documentary, Brother's Keeper, was, is, eternal, set, one of the poetic things, the story of the Ward brothers, who I never might, but might have cycled by, who knows, on those old lovely green green sunny days of old towns that confirmed in the boy, me, that I wanted to be some sort of documentarian, not in a fancy defined way, but in those old tools we all have,  that of the powering flashes in our minds, those words which cross our lips, silently, invisibly, in dreams, in forms that seem to haunt us in good ways.  The imaginative imagining, wrought and banged out by books and things and poems we've read, some sort of iron shop, of crucible and melted metal, rods banged upon on an anvil, the hammer blow and bang.   The trees, the old cemetery, the strong mansion like house of Colonel Knox, figure of the Revolutionary War, now quiet, and as you climbed the hill, on this old Iroquoia route--they knew--another old mansion with high fences, and strong warning signs not to trespass at all.  I suppose further up the ridge was that old simple derelict farmhouse to the left or the right was that of the Ward Brothers, and I never was able to find it, having to journey back on my bicycle, to deal with the barking dog storming out as you climbed back up up past that lovely hairpin turn with that valley view and the streams below you now, the houses laid out around them, naturally, to get back, back to Skyline Drive, then back to those own hills of home and school bus route.  I made the time for those bike rides, as carefully as I did, as the inception, the birth of my writing career, and as painful as it was, that's where I wanted to go when I graduated college, back there, to write, even though there was nothing there to write about really, except those things we will, as a mindful species, always write about, those psychological and shapeshifting things that, when we look back, will be found on, within, the things we keep, like the pictures I took back when there was film in cameras of old snowy farms, silos, barns, the roads that kept them, the trees that lined them to protect and whisper poetry.  That was a rich life, and my parents were wise. and selfless and guided by things we do not know directly of, to give me that life, not that of  Amherst, the town, but a real part of the world, less run by old Congregationalist names, populated by barns, and pastures, cats, dogs, people whose children you rode the school bus with, birds singing, hawks, pastures, sugar maples, and views worthy of, you thought, some sort of bicycle race tour, not necessarily going very fast, one of appreciation, mileposts, local attractions, architecture of barns, lots of idling livestock and farm implements and vehicles, and granary devices low in the valley and up above.

Home from the bar, hunger prompting bringing hone a burger to ease the hunger and the stress, in the kitchen a cockroach has daintily upended herself over the little plastic dosage cup that comes with cough syrup, apparently enjoying the sugar of it, there on the counter top I try my best, as a cook, to keep clean.   Makes you think, the times, being sick,  you don't clean that little cup out, refill it, go back to bed.  The standard American big red cockroach will pull surprises on you, like being there in your pint sized water glass by the bed when you wearily lift it to pull a sip to soothe the dryness, the general feeling you need to put some water through that system, but we won't go there now.   Could one day we make pets out of them, these walky characters, the large bug who likes our showers and our sinks, our silverware, our cutting boards...

The Ward brothers, read about in  NY Times, then that documentary film, they were real.  One, at least, reacted to the presence of a camera so strongly that he shook, and at one point, moves a board of a barn to go hide, because of who he was, not of some guilt that the creepy modern prosecutorial officious legalist policing-heavy world wanted to impose upon him.  Let him free, let him be, no spotlight needs he.  And isn't that a lesson, how the legal pushes the news which in turn pushes upon us our taste for  the nachos and the cop, for world history made now sudden, something like that.  When the news could rather be on that level of simple reportage about the strangeness of backward characters born in those old locals we used to know before we moved to cities, remembering the simplicity and the meaning inherent in roads in country towns, that's how you got to farmer joe's or that old Mirror Bar in the long lost Oriskany Falls hotel where there was incredible pizza and sawdust slide metal disk game for the children while they waited.

Shyness is the reaction, finding these old memory worth tale, the good feelings that crop up now and again.  What am I doing, feeling well, all of a sudden, what do I do with it, where should I be?

I feel the light here, in the morning, the breeze, the birds call back and forth.   This nice place reminds me of where I grew up, my childhood, the light of Amherst, and always wondering when I would sleep, what I would dream.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Doing a headstand, adjusting legs into poses similar to walking, the muscles are connected.  Leg to upper arm, pelvis to tricep.  In wholesomeness we are well-arranged, aligned, a totality.

End of the week of the psychical work, demanding, a cold with a hacking cough developing in the later part of it.  Rest.  Interrupted by the cough.

If the work is wholesome, than the writing that follows should be as well.  And if unwholesome, likewise.  Anyway, there is the muscular connection.

But what links the two kinds of muscles, the footwork of entertaining, both verbally and with the work of stocking and serving, clearing and cleaning, the taking of payment, the reading of customer through different mode, all of that on the one hand, and then, the equally long and often dull and tedious effort of writing something meaningful to life as a way of finding direction and bearing.

The yoga, solitary, along with its meditations, serves as a connection, a center of balance.  There could not be one, the sometimes violent social life, and the quiet time of reflection, without the other. There would  be experience and the credential without the connected presence of the two.  Even if there is hard work to both, imposed upon you, even if there is not always clear meaning in the effort as a whole for providing a decent life. the two exist side by side.  And perhaps they must both belong to a certain realm, like unto the fireman who prevents fires, the baker who bakes bread.

The week was not easy.  I closed each night, and wrote nothing.  Saturday was very busy, Sunday was the long slog of Mother's Day, a special menu, Monday great live jazz, a Safeway run, Tuesday marked by my walking up the avenue to walk through the woods to work as an unprecedented number of Police cars came screaming down the avenue in the left lanes to react to thuggish security marking the visit of Erdogan by attacking, was they wore their dark suits, the Kurdish protestors on Sheridan Circle, as I spoke with my mom over the phone, hoping she was having a better day than the one before in her faraway loneliness.  Perhaps one bright spot besides the friendship of a chef who's old friends with my chef boss, was the report from therapist, not easy to rouse myself for, a hot shower to loosten the phlegm, a bike ride down to downtown, newly hot with the steamy feel of DC summer, that I was doing better, that the medication of Lexapro seemed to be working, along with daylight.  Judging from my demeanor, she proposed that soon a visit every other week would suffice. Along with the good news, a good bit of relief, bouts of diarrhea.

The day off, with nothing but administrative tasks before me, I did yoga, drank various forms of tea, and ordered Chinese, too fatigued to cook and put dishes away.  What a life.

Then the recovery starts to happen, oddly, by itself, a lifting of a veil.  All the things you missed, flash somewhere along the edges of the mind.   A life in the mountains making music unaffected--if that's the word--by the outside world.   The Carter family, driving to Bristol, in a model T, fording streams and muddy roads, one woman pregnant, one nursing a baby boy.

The light comes up from the Venus morning star, I still have not had a date in years, and my social life is chosen by the places I can or must go.  Medicines.  To treat the beast who endures the job of barman at this edge of the South, humid now, just like that lonely day on the train, arriving to the steam about ten o'clock at night.  The air is still now, after fire danced electrically, cloud to cloud in veins, and mockingbirds talked in the trees as I came home from the RiteAid, with cough syrup, toilet paper, and other nostrums.  Does the redwood tree wonder, in mid-life, who am I, where am I going, who is listening friendly?  The tree takes his soothe from the depths below, the Guinness down in the earth, minerals of smoked barley and the DNA of hops.  The tree wishes to play the guitar, to thump on some taught string, taught-ed, I wish to say.

What are we doing, do any of us know?  Who would be a leader now, or is?

The tree might strive for calm, but still wish for that draught of earth by morning light, before the heat comes so that his leaves stay still with a minor droop, attempting to hold what beneficial oils might come in the air from neighbor.  The calming taste of earth, the magic of the living soulful chemistry that is the opposite of dark invisible energy, the talk of the Spanish underforest, living life below, breeding, working away in that layer.  The great tree must stand alone, not many of his species left, but in groves, here and there, and who knows when some new idiot might threaten, as is the lesson of history.

Does old Sequoia have a girlfriend?  Or is time spent trying to hang on, to keep adaption, as warmer and drier winds blow up.

And each word, a little cell, pushing out the old skin of the trunk, and strangely fresh and alive and watery, the pith where the sap runs.

The stress of the week, the deficit of nutrition, the hollow feeble weakness, the headache, the soreness, the sorrow, the tiredness, these are things faced at night, in the great forest lifting above grown in stature.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

rough draft

"Chicks like bullshit," my best friend at the bar said,
still in the game.
And I had no bullshit to give,
except if you were to carefully observe yourself,
the good job I did at it, with a wink,
the thousands of people I had talked to
in more than two decades on my feet
in front of them, shaking hands.

So was I worried when she said,
she'd met a boy.
But not much I could really do.
More than twice her age.
What could I tell her,
about all the things
I'd been through, survived,
with pluck and toil, humor,
simple absorption.

The kid was bad enough,
who knew what he wanted,
and how to get there.
But--the bright spot--
hard for me to see at first,
no idea who he is.

But I am bullshit too.
Very good at it, in fact.

The first time you see a face
is the first time all over again,
an iceberg of a person,
floating in the cold sea,
responding to heat and sun.
The things, the talent,
people do not see,
and little the possibility
of knowing you very well,
but when you get on the other side of age,
and start to appreciate character,
the odd bits about a person
who somehow maintained 
being an individual,
which even he or she might not
the self understand.

How to bring this poem to a close,
but that you've kept that possibility,
of knowing who are, what you want,
and something how to get it,
what shape it is, what it looks like
and feels like, seen in a picture,
fresh, alive, there, here, now,
allowing wildness,
not captivity of the thing.

The effort you've put forth, all your life,
coming into some focus, and even some use.
Write a poem without knowing well,
but of what you have to say.

I suppose that it is that particular condition, something somewhat in the realm of depression, that makes a writer.

 This is why we find Ernest Hemingway immortalizing a camp breakfast by the big river, Kerouac's favorite chamois shirt found in a dump.  Breakfast revives, a shirt keeps you warm.

In my own long depression, enduring after college, I kept a job as a neighborhood barman.  It kept me social, got me out of my shell, gave my life tools of a trade, texture, things to put my hands on, reasons to stand up and move carefully and precisely enough to deliver.  The office of the health insurance clerk for an HMO was too dreary, the stale coffee miserable relief to the brain, too sedentary, offering little as far as the material of puzzlements to be solved.  The restaurant job offered direct look on human beings and human nature, an observers post, as a waiting person.

The five long night shifts are over.  I wake groggy and the usual pot of green tea does not revive me much.  But I remember, there is good bacon in the refrigerator to cook in the iron pan.  The experience of cooking, turning the bacon over as it crisps, wakens me, and I eat hungrily, chewing the fat, and then I am up with enough energy to enter into the flow of worded thoughts.  They were long nights, closing each night.

I've taken my little medications, along with a little ginseng, GABA, l-tyrosine, half a beta-blocker, in addition to one tablet of Lexapro and Rhodiola.  Now that I've eaten breakfast, a B vitamin.  I've skipped the flaxseed fiber in my tea.  Perhaps later, hot water over muddled lime with turmeric and a dash of good salt.  The winter is long when the clock changes and you work at night, commuting by foot and bicycle.   The computer screen blue light in the loneliness of night can keep you up, and there is a balance in how dark to make a bedroom, and on overcast days, the airplane noises is reflected down across the town.  I like the forest for fresh air and for hiding from the city, but that is a walk from here.

There's not really a lot to write about when you get right down to it.  But there is a therapeutic aspect, one which comes from describing one thing, and letting it have things attached to it.  There are dirty dishes with the grease of merguez sausages kept in the fridge, the collection of tea cups and pint water glasses that sat by the bed at night.

There is nervousness as I write still.  NHK has a show on Zen gardens.  Transience informs the sense of beauty.  I should have been a gardener.  But we are survivors, and that is good enough.  The monk examines an object for the spirit in it.  Muga, absence of self, informs design, mutual coexistence human beings and earth.

My job as neighborhood barman was more than just a job.  I was a nexus of information.  It was a job that, like all jobs, gave me an identity, a place to live and socialize.  I was a steady feature in some local lives on different scales.  My service was deeper than it might have looked on the surface.  Not about the cocktail, but about the wine, about life and vintage years.  It was a job that fit with the rest, the natural balance that the writer being within me sought to achieve.

Or then would it not be better, then, having found health, to move on from writing, more or less, to give up on it, to find a different use for the energy...  Would it be necessary anymore?  Feeling better, the thought is, now what?  You don't crave the wine nearly as much.  You feel like a sneak, hiding from things, by habit of that previous life.  Hunger, the need for nutrition.  Walking down to P Street for a late night gyro at DC Cafe, barely making it before the grill closes at three...

What does it mean, when he says, The Son of Man has no place to lay his head.    But that he is his job, his work, that all he does is related, so that he might be considered to be, always, out on the road.  But who wants to think about that...   The writer, so-called, wakes, after dreams and a rest of the muscles to work on God knows what.  Bit by bit, chisel chip by chisel chip.  Not even a story, but a form to work on, a description of something he knows not of, releasing the figure from the block of marble stone.

To face that work...  well, it has to be strange.  Just to face the implausibility of the human condition, nothing particular cut out to do, just trying to keep up a good practice of journaling, really, little more.  Easy enough to find a purpose when you have people to wait on.  Or something specific.  Write a laundry list, call it a day before you almost even start, go for a walk, make a subtle plan with your coworker for later on when they get out of work, the night shift.  The place is clean, the bed is set, the sheets are straight, matching pillow cases.  The morning is never the best part of the day as far as mood.

Is there a way to avoid, to not find yourself on, the path, of being some sort of monk-like being.  And each time the world of technology or human enterprise increases or brings greater speed or ease, there is an escalation in the need for nature and contemplation and observations on the ephemeral nature of life.   Congratulations for the one who simply gets up and doesn't do a lot of damage to the old earth rather than for the robber baron commodity seller.  The need for the day of quiet peace and a Zen garden.  Perhaps the wine bar is as close as I could get to the Zen garden here.  As if to set some example.

That's the private life of the writer I keep to myself, who must necessarily have perspective, a different eye than he does when he is in it all.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

In dream I go back to the old basement apartment with the garden out back my bedroom, a common room I shared with my brother, looked out on.  At night, a small agile jumping goat, dark coat, white footed, small horns, fond of balancing atop just about everything, leaps about, stops to perch on the brick wall, cute, fun to watch, a playful youth.  And then, to discover with some surprise, a lion and a tiger who look in through the windows at me, as they stretch out lazily, with some interest.

I'd forgotten writing, the beauty and mental health of it, amidst the usual toils and the weekly therapy sessions and whatever other concerns were troubling and weighing upon my mind.

And once through the workweek at the bar, the day off, the writing was difficult, impediments in the mind, sins of the week sitting upon me, uncertainty by mood.

I could not easily let out of my mind the incident, my telling a regular customer 'how about just water tonight,' and she said, why, for what reason, honestly puzzled as she was, and I said, no, nothing, but if you want to talk to (the manager by name)... and she said, I'm not dining tonight, and I'm going to go back home and have a glass of wine, and I felt terribly bad, because she'd come in, noticed my haircut, said she'd had a good day, looked fine.  But for the incident the previous evening, and maybe, we speculated she might not remember upbraiding a young woman sitting next to her about how privileged she was, thus upsetting her.  And the boss said, if she's upsetting other customers...  then I'll talk to her.  We were all concerned.  He used to do yoga with her a long time ago.  Tell her she needs to take a break.

What to do on a day off.  First, the dishes in the tub in the sink, after making my little green pot of green tea.  Assemble the laundry for the process.  It had been a busy busy Jazz Night up at work, and the boss, the owner chef in from overseas, was hanging out with his pals late.  Not too much collateral damage, but still, the weird feeling, not so bad, but the anxiousness that follows the events of the workweek, as if one had forgotten to do something in closing.  The big guy with the big belly didn't seem to wish to pay for his Jameson's.     Chef put on some good techno type music and had a great conversation with his chef buddy.

Guilt, embarrassment, mixed with the sense of somehow finding the job a good fit, on my own terms.

I call my mom and she assuages my mind on a number of things and tells me that I was doing the right thing by the person I suggested no wine tonight.  And she's called her oldest friend who lives back in our old hometown, whose concern for her occasional vagueness prompted a minor falling out.  I'd encouraged her to call.

I'm a Capricorn.  Is that the meaning of diminutive mountain goat in my dreams.  What did the lion and the lioness want with me, looking in through the window fixing their eyes on me as if hungry.  The goat had no trouble with them.  And it was, is, a lovely little outdoor place, pebbled, ivy, shaded by trees.  I fed feral cats one year and built a shelter for them for the winter.  And they would look in, coming close to the door to remind me they needed to be fed soon enough, the mother teaching her litter to hiss at the strange animal before them, hungry.  The goat seems happy enough and I am pleased there is such wildlife here, in this little sanctuary within, hidden from the street.

Googling the meaning of goats in dreams, the suggestion of capriciousness and--great--sexuality, is less satisfying than the general dream itself.  A poet should be happy with a visit from totemic animals, I suppose.

Write about the street, Pani Korbonska used to say to me, with some glee over the sound of that.

Bored with myself, I walk over to work, hoping to catch the Chef before he flies out back on his way to his life in Bali, and my friend Jeremy is there behind the bar, and we have an interesting conversation with two nice women who used to be schoolteachers.  And the sort of bad feeling of suggesting to our regular friend that she not drink is today sensed as a great relief, because she is not here to worry about and make adjustment for.  Peace is in the room, there is no drama.  My friend has to go to a bachelor weekend for his best friend out in Deep Creek Lake.   Last weekend he was in Vegas for the same, and he feels a bit partied out, and he wants to move soon to his new apartment out in Annapolis.

It's good to get out of the house.  The ideas seem to flow a bit better.

And so I drink my tea, slowly waking up.  Writing is really boring somedays.  Like you'd rather be doing something else.  You think of the nice girl you met on-line.

It can be nervous work, writing, and the hard thing is to somehow let the anxiety and the nervousness dissipate.  You're trying to harness the nervous horses of the mind, to hope they will pull the carriage and the writer gently and steadily, rather than bolting, and you have to, I suppose as much as anything, accept the pace at which the wilding colts will carry you forward to where there is substance and maybe even meaning.  You know the meaning is ultimately found in things like kindness and honesty, neighborly things, the communal effort to live with respect toward nature, creature and planet.  Maybe you couldn't do it without that nervousness, as Dostoevsky was nervous, as writers can be a shy breed of people, walking between the great polarity of public and private, material and absorption, the reordering in the mind, that honeycomb-like thing we construct to maintain life and environment.   And this is why the idiot is the serious one.

That climb, back and forth, back and forth, the chasm, the gap enough to make you queasy and upset, looking for something to hold onto...  The unsafest spot is that aloneness before the page, the phone calls gotten out of the way, the socializing work gotten out of the way, the workweek trimmed off, pruned, a sufficient cleaning and restock done.

We don't know the meanings of our own dreams, but that they are dress rehearsals our inner minds want us to work out.  To face the lion's den in the familiar, while other creatures go about safely, untouchable.  Fortunate that there is someone there, often enough, to help out, spiritual being or otherwise, comfort.  That must be the pleasure, if you will, of being a Jonah, the sea swallowing you and then the Leviathan, to cough you up, reformed, afresh, knowing of your duties and facing them.  Stunned as you must be by the whole thing.

I was a hurting fellow, and then I got turned around, and faced the good work that falls under tending the old bar.  Medication let me see that, in all its sad but happy lovely beauty, perhaps the most spiritual thing you could have done with your life, though that too could have been rendered in other forms perhaps just as well.

For the writer, it's always, 'depart from me, oh Lord, for I am a sinful man,' thence to be lifted up in all your worry and pain and angst.  You've looked in the mirror of the soul and somehow been forgiven, cleared in some small way to write about it, much as it will always mystify you, nervously.

And so a man must face a woman, in a great state of not deserving her, and she seeing to the forgiveness.  I mean, that's the whole thing, my single bit of offering to the field of literary criticism, that there is this root in all stories, the great happening, when she comes along, or does not, or goes missing for somewhat a long time, changing completely in form.

And even writing itself is the same;  I don't deserve the sentence, the story, the feminine insight, the forgiveness inherent in putting something down on paper.

Wipe your hand across your mouth,
and laugh,
the worlds revolve like ancient women,
gathering fuel in vacant lots.

Like the snowflake-like sweetness of real salt, the floral minerality upon the tongue, far beyond the politician, or the administrator, but of He who layeth the foundations of the world.

Writing, like science, will put the fear of God into you, and you know, like your mother, the whole thing could come falling down, breaking apart, particularly should that divine foundation be upset of sufficiently offended.  The lion's den, the facing of peril even in your own backyard, for the lion and the lioness could reappear at any moment, eyeing you with hunger burning bright.

The great literary things and forms are often the obscure things, created, hammered together out of some strange whim or reason, the invention of the play, Pepys' diary, Samuel Johnson, the poets, as they will always carry within their bones and heart that highest aspiration, those done through a series of low fall-like things as adult walking is falling in control.

The barman's diary that forgot to write down much of the specifics, the juicy details of any evening, as if a commentary on invisible things, fancies, chimera that only those who are alone would recognize and understand.  Who knew, the general fodder of the position, even if not revealed or seen directly, as most would conceive of the writing about things that happen, he said this, she said that, this happened, and then that followed and when I woke up the next day I was a bit hungover or dry in the mouth with strange indefinable aches throughout.  Part of the fishing and hunting life, realized, and then controlled now that it should be understood.

When, then, shall the captive of the den be released, if ever, the den of lion to be transformed into that of Christ in symbol.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Fictional Sketch from Notes from a Barman's Album:

April 2017, the 17th day.

There is the new waitress.  I think of the line at the end of The Seven Samurai.  "The farmers always win."  Type A in blood, and perhaps in temperament too.

I'd come in from the Saturday night shift, never easy, and my help that night, as almost any night, rarely soothes me, but rather provokes me into anxiety, moving about as they do like hoofed creatures, loud, barreling, bumping, linebackers now as they fancy going home.  Is it a show?  It must be intentional somehow.  Their bodies signal they want to go at the soonest hour by how they move, by their actions;  they are only hear to make money, then leave, never how I saw it.  Can I go, they always ask me, and because their physical presence, after their jostling as they sweep, the indignant noise they make, picking up the heavy Hefty five gallon bag of empty bottles, or dirty plates, drumbeats to their attitude that otherwise presents itself as the stare into the cellphone screen, because of all that I am happy to tell me, yes, go, leave me in peace, leave me in peace, and I need a glass of wine anyway after all your jostling and pretense.  They are more masters of the economy than I am.  They know how to use their time without any extra, then just go drive home.  And I, on the other hand, need to unwind, Jesus Christ.  The barman is jostled anyway, tortured really, and anyone who comes up those stairs, every time the door opens, can potentially be an inquisitor, poking you.

Easter.  It was an easy enough interpretation to make, that, looking at her behavior, her speech, her focus, that she's been drinking, in a relatively bad way, not necessarily so much before me, but the glass of rose some sort of iceberg tip of a greater problem.  You've tried to be patient with her, Lord knows, but just could not stomach it anymore, no way to tell yourself that there was good in her being there, at her regular stool at the end of the bar, nor of her coming in right not two minutes after we opened the door.  Not the best time to come and bug a barman with a long night ahead of him, anyway, as he'd like to make a small foray into social media, have a quick chat with a friend or a mother, before, now that things are almost set up as other coworkers never really appreciate, this general having everything ready to go when it comes, and I won't or can't say that about anyone else of my colleagues.  With all this in mind, it seemed like a foregone conclusion, cut her off from the drink.

Her dining experience were often interjected notes of dissatisfaction, a need to substitute the vegetable for this or that, doesn't want blue cheese, doesn't like the chef's penchant for sweet and sour with his braised dishes.  And then it seemed when she'd reached a point numb enough she'd to ask to pay and then screwing her eyes up to look at her check and take out her cash or credit card...  none of this was going well.  A smart lady, a good person, and yet, things had come over her, negative things, and she had started to weigh everyone who came in down down down, and not quite ready to keep her opinions to herself, some disconnect in conversation, too much, too candid.

So, when she pushes her empty glass forward, her fingers on the base of the glass, I ignore her.  Go out from the bar over to the room over in the back, where three familiar friendly people sit.  They're talking of the daughter and son-in-law's trip to Venice.  "No, Harry's Bar is nothing like it used to be. "  Back behind the bar, pressed again,for another glass, looking straight at her, and again, "may I have another," I stand and quietly say to her, "how about an alternative beverage."  "what, you're out of rose," "no, that's not what I meant by 'alternative beverage.' " She asks for a water, no ice.  I pour her some evian.  Doing all this quietly.    She takes another bite of cheese.  Asks for a to-go box and 'may I pay you.'  "No check, it's on us," I say.  And just before she leaves, standing up, she says to me, "I have no idea what just happened.  I don't understand.  We can talk about his later."  Okay, my friend.  Okay.

The stories we tell ourselves...  The narratives we create, to explain to ourselves what we see.  In my mind, part of it was, I was simply losing my patience, the daily 5:35 arriving like a horror ghost out of a Japanese movie to haunt me with problems.  A good ear, good advice, she had, when we could talk one on one, alone, before the bar had other visitors.  I had long defended her, stuck by her, engaged her.  But to watch her go that way, wherever she was going, doing what she was doing, with detached laughter, to listen to the drama of her housing situation, her deadbeat ex, it was wearing, and other customers noted that too.

At the end of the night I left a note explaining matters for the manager, and the next day, of course, he was supportive of my doing the right thing. If I wanted to 86 her...  Mid week I talked to my therapist about how to deliver the bad guy news to her, the recommendation being to sandwich the bad news with good positive compassionate notes both before and after.    She'd been back in, and in fact, sober, and of alert normal mental state.

A week went by, and her behavior markedly improved, but perhaps for a lapse or two toward the end of her visit.

She knows enough, quite a lot, about food and dining.  A smart sense about a lot of things, and yet, I suspect, like me, a Type O as far as blood type, and with all that, all the problems of early humanity attempting to stick into the modern crossroads, the granary, all that.  I felt for her, I knew myself the gut problems, the sleeping problems, the anxiety, all those issues, and the need for the sedative quality of a glass of wine low in alcohol.  And she was going through some stuff, housing stuff, income stuff, that was unsettling.

One night she confides in me, as we had discussed the same earlier, off and on, about the changes in her medications, those used to treat her anxiety and help her sleep.  She clearly saw now what the medications were doing to her, how hard it was just to get up, how hard to be part of a conversation.  We've returned to a good place of conversation, even if she is right on me early all by herself.

And I suppose if you look at a person long enough, rather than being critical, you see your own problems clearly before you, which sometimes is hard to do, looking at yourself.

The writer does not always know what he is doing.  Indeed, his work, if you could call it that, is the case of the left hand not knowing what the right is doing.  But somehow, you keep at it, reaching for the non-judgmental perspective.  Which can be unsettling.  It feels like you have to use it for some end, for some increasingly spiritual recognition that rings like, "there, but by the grace of God, go I."  In need of seeking forgiveness and of prayer.  As Peter Matthiessen sees it, the embarrassment felt from being alive, in his observations within The Snow Leopard, as if one simply waits, marking time, until the great rug is pulled out from underneath... that conundrum oft paid homage to in pubs and watering holes, "what is life for, anyway..."

I wonder if it is those happy kids who'll later run into problems in life, their self-regulatory good disposition toward their fellows no longer enough to sustain one over and through all the worries that set in upon us in our maturity, our adult lives, our attempts at responsibility.

I take the medicine to get me out of the winter clock change night shift funk, feeling better now, less cravings, and up at a decent hour today, writing again.