Posts Tagged With: Diary

Project A

Alice out running an errand, giving me a bit of time to collect while my little Emma-saur’ upstairs sleeps. Smooth drop-off for little Kerouac, bag packed for workday, easily over a thousand words.. should start drafting writing schedule, just one BIG thing a day if I can.
Balanced all my budgets, and I’m probably in the best place financially that I’ve ever been, that I can remember recently. But I need to bridge these payday gaps with selling a physical piece of writing.. my ‘Wild Wine Journalism’, self-publish and distribute however I can and don’t let it, EVER, be reduced to some piece of merchandise on a shelf in some store or in a tasting room somewhere (like at the last winery, those books, one of them I think called ‘vit lit’ or something, just there on the merch table, doing nothing, not being read, making me sad, saying to myself “that’ll never be me nor my work). They have to pay, provide currency. So the newsletter idea I had yesterday, that I would pay for to set up and not generate any funds from, now deadened. At least for a minute…
Two minutes past ten. Going to check on Emma..
Wishing I could sleep like her.
I go back up to snap a quick pic with my phone. Want to capture as much I can of this time, her being a baby before she’s a walking, talking, arguing child like Jack. And with him, my little beat prince, the time literally transported me into the future, four years next month. How. So unfair but I know it’s part of the equation, what we sign up for being Human Beings.
Am I ready for work. No.. shower, more coffee, put this laptop in bag. And pens. Do I have any pens?

I go on ‘wine jobs’, the website, for comedy’s relief, and the descriptions of the jobs and how lazily they’re written, demonstrating no proficiency or ability to communicate in written form which many require of candidates, does just that; provide comedy. A blizzard of it.

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10:26, and I’m still moving.  How I don’t know.  Has to be from this resplendent first semester day I had.  I have my night’s cap at right as usual, the Cab-based blend from my Napa winemaking friend, Jason.  And I sip and think of the Road that’s just ahead, all the travel and what I’ll note—  and I did take, took, a couple notes in the “holstered journal” as I stated in the syllabi (for both classes) throughout the day, one of them reading “so tired… can’t wait for wine”.  Which you’d think would put me to sleep but to be curt and candid with you, reader, I’m exhausted to the extent of not feeling the effects of the wine. Photo on 1-20-16 at 10.41 PM Which is lovely as I can actually enjoy the body and narrative of the wine.  I taste Napa, its valley and sub-blocks.  Tomorrow I’ll be in Healdsburg, at Sanglier, just off the square but I need to run before, right after leaving Jackie at Merryhill.  This new submission of me disregards the wear, any fatigue, I just write till I feel it’s time to stop.  I’ll get back into running tomorrow and that will give me quite another reason to travel and blog from my hotel room, log my thoughts and how I’m finally out there—  I must paginate that my friend Jason’s red blend has me singing the wine riles, the euphonious echoes of any wine-honed valley.

The adjunct story, yes decided in many respects my tone and disposition but not the entirety of—  I sing within the ownership of my offerings to students, and what a humbling immediacy it is being in front of them, talking as I do, sharing my ideas and them so attentive and connected.

The wine catches me, holds me in place and orders I acknowledge it— and to be more truthful; my wife, now, watches some reality TV something, “reality”, and I am here in the study, in earshot of the TV’s audible bile but I cement my Self in the peregrination of my poise, the Zen and centeredness of the momentary composition.  Longing for Sur as Duluoz did, and I should go, just for a weekend, by myself, lock myself in some hotel room, not a distanced dingy hut.  But somewhere.. even where my wife and I spent our wedding night (shouldn’t write “even”, as the digs were rather delicious, visual and imagist, commanding).  I’d write, order more and more coffee to the room and have a novel by the time I left, only days later— the Bradbury timeline of 9 days (I think it took him to write ‘451’.

Closing the session, both babies asleep and Ms. Alice in other room with her BRAVO shows.  Thinking of this morning, rocking Ms. Emma, then handing her to Ms. Alice, then leaving.  I’ve never felt like more a writer— the yapness for travel tramples me.  So I write faster, that is till I feel the wrench turning in all crosses about my brain to sleep.  A wreck, this writer—

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0647, and

the writing starts.  48 hours from now in class sharing ideas as I always have but different, feeling more aeonian this morning than I usually do and I’m certain that’s the proximity of the semester speaking to me, telling me “put all your words here”— then the thought interrupted by my daughter looking up at the room’s light intentionally dimmed as I hate when it’s too beaming and blaring but she looks up at it as if some divine eye flirts with her, instructs her what to do with her day as the semester does me.  The semester will have started, two days from where I now sit.  I’ll be getting ready for class and on my who-knows-what-th cup of medium roast.  This morning is one of those mornings and I’ve been wading in them quite a bit, of late, those telling me to not care and to just write, stick to what gives me the thrills, or ‘kicks’, the teaching, the pages, turning them… lecturing from them.

First couple sips and I already senses that precipitating inferno.  More than one foot in front of the other.  A singularized stampede of ideas.  Not idealism, or the idyllic portrait everyone has in their head.  But, ideas.  Those fiery and revealing notions and possibles that anyone can attain, frankly.  They simple have to acknowledge the level of truth in their conviction, and follow-through.  Like Emerson noted, I’m ‘giving this the arrangement of my own mind, and uttering it again.’ This semester will be one explosive, on several dimensional levels.  And looking at my daughter I know I have to staple markers in the semester, points at which certain realities must be accomplished, not just say “this is going to be my best semester ever and I’m going to be traveling as a result of it.”

NOTE TO STUDENTS:  Gift yourself elevated goals, ones challenging and inwardly vocal.  And don’t be afraid of not reaching them.  Don’t entertain not reaching them.  That’s not a possibility in this new mind.  What is possible, and wildly likely, is holding what you sought upon the term’s close.

Can’t tell if Ms. Austen becomes agitated or she’s having a time to herself in the bassinet, staring up at that light.  Her eyes seem to be getting heavy…  And she cries, or starts, accompanied quicker breathing…

I hold her for about 25 minutes or so and can’t wait to return to the coffee and lines imbued in the semester’s already-seraphic hue.  Former students messaging me at the end of last semester saying how my teaching style is the most exciting they’ve ever seen, and how it’s their best English class ever…  Which I appreciate.  BUT, I have to feel that way, about my own teaching, about the semester itself, and about my empiricism.  It has to impact me, I as well need to instruct ME alongside the student body.

Ms. Emma, my petit professeur, may be waking up, hip to the placement of her wee vessel in the bassinet while she slept.  I tried to pull one fast and I may be getting caught.

Need to read more.  I’ll start with the books I was recently sent from Amazon (one for semester, the other two on teaching at the college level).  I’ll start today, after this entry.  Or later in day when little Kerouac naps.

Coffee a bit cooler but I don’t mind.  Sometimes I prefer cold coffee.  Something occurs with the texture that I quite enjoy.  Thicker, or slower moving.  More connection and intimacy, more touch—  Emma stops moving, she sleeps, head turned slightly to her left in that rocking open oval, with blanket that’s so sedating in its texture that I want it in my rest place.  But I can’t do that to her.  It’s hers.  She’s already taught me so much about my character and goals, and what I see from myself, from her father, what I want her father to be doing.  WRITING.  TEACHING.  Which he already is.  But he has to build.  And he has 18 weeks.


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A night for everyone, especially Alice who now sleeps with Jack, and me downstairs with Emma after walking around this very lower floor and talking to her, kissing her right cheek, rubbing her right shoulder with my thumb from the arm wrapped around her.  No one in this house has slept.  But I leap upon this eventual invitation to write.  More and more seeing Ms. Emma as a sort of liberator, savior, or even a simple coach or instructor for my writings.  Helping me rise earlier and forcing me to produce material.  Of course I made coffee, but it’s not helping so much.  What does propel this writer is the sight in front of me, the petit professeur trying to sleep.  She squirms a bit but without  moan or cry, any kind of protest.  So at the very least I calculate I have a few minutes.  Luckily no work for me today other than prep for the semester, some writing, cleaning and clearing of desk, but that’s all.  On no one’s clock but my own, and hers of course.  And I know, she could be much more challenging as a newborn, 4 weeks old today—

I walk over to check on her, and eyes open, looking at everything around her especially the light hopping into her senses from the kitchen.  See?  Just like that the moment to write, that free collection time can evaporate.  Still, though, no crying.  Odd.  What is she thinking?  What does she want, if anything?  What is her pedagogical intention with this minute?  I sit here and do so bemused, abstraction and meditation, her and I as part of some momentum toward.. what.  I don’t need to know, right away.  Maybe eventually.

Now she becomes more agitated.  I pick her up and put her in that shaking seat with the animals and the little pull-down mechanism or string, rope, lever or whatever that activates some bird sounds and short song snippets.  She’s made it clear that this morning is a test for the writer, “You better write faster,” she thinks, I know.  She grows frustrated, trying to move but can’t as I’m sure she’d like—

Back at keys after a 30 or so minute battle to soothe her, a diaper change where she wet more me than her, we’re back downstairs.  And it starts again, this is to make me as a writer, father, writing father, stronger.  More disciplined and direct with my efforts, I’m sure.  She again in the tremoring chair becomes colorfully irked but I let her frustrate, study from my peanut professor.  She calms then cries, reaches for the green circular lever and koala bear then cringes, yells.. what, I think, what is this lecture about?  She’s teaching me something, more than what I’ve already cited and acknowledged.  Maybe my semester has already started.  But as a student, not instructor.  I’m no authority here, very much a matriculant in the private seminar of Emma.

And the solvent, food.  Upstairs she nurses, forcing Alice out of sleep unfortunately, and now I’m here in total quiet and I feel odd.  And THAT, is odd.  I’m at odds with the result.  Was this in her lesson plan, to leave me flummoxed and scrounging for resolve?


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a writer: post 004

I always tell my students I don’t believe in “writer’s block”.  And I don’t.  I’ll never budge from that conviction.  But, I do believe in writer’s walls.  They have to be surmounted.  And some take longer than others, expectedly.  But don’t ever stop at some perceived block.  If you have to, walk away, take a break, come back to it, but hold yourself to finishing the piece.

And I’ll be honest, I at times feel more a student than the students probably do.  I’m learning, too.  Very much.

Packing my bag for class, I am a student, thankful for the end of the semester.

But there’s a semester after this one.

And I’ll still be writing.

Over that wall.

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NaNoWriMo, more

…laptop next to bed in case I woke at some ungodly early hour, then I could write.  But no.  My body insisted I get the sleep.

Hear a train, THE train, passing outside.  Travel.. travel, I think to myself sipping more of the Ale than the mocha.  Everywhere now screams Autumn; from the vineyards and their leaves to the way the wind pushes the leaves from trees and vineyards from one side of the street to the other.  In Napa today it was especially encouraging for the writer, this adjunct who today does nothing associated with his bloody adjunct role.  Solano re-scheduled to evaluate me after I learned the delightful secretary or clerk who always finds a way to infuse some commentary rude when we speak failed to put my 11/5 observation on the dean’s calendar.  12/3 he’s supposed to drop by.  Twelve days before the semester’s to end.  Such a bloody joke, I swear…

Behind in the progress I have set for this wine-wound novel I’m writing– no surprise, adjunct in the adjunct world for nearly ten years has always flirted with wine’s industry, even taking jobs but being let go from a few of them, only now seeing an entrepreneurial approach, selling wines by writing and blogging about them.  Obvious, yes, but I have to try.  And now, to be honest, I am in the mood for wine.  But I’m going to sip a bit more of this mocha so it’s not a total money disposal–  And on such note, spent just under $12 yesterday, all day.  More than tripled that today, but oh well, it’s another day off for the adjunct.

Essays.. I start writing politically charged responses and opinions, mainly geared and shifted toward the reaction of politicians on both sides concerning the Syrian refugees.  Ted Cruz, one of the presidential hopefuls for the Republican trough–‘hopeful’ very much being an intentional word in more than a dozen ways–decries any empathy or concern for these exhausted and frightened peoples from the cataclysmically parceled country.  And then, you have President Obama and many democrats who appear to not exercise enough caution, adhering to those American principles of the promised land and ‘people come here to escape danger, find freedom, establish themselves’.  No other time in America, that I can remember, has a middle-ground on a national security/immigration matter been more necessitated.  If we knee-jerk, react with too much dismissal, and distrust, then we’re viewed as cruel.  But then, if we blindly open the doors and have no system, or even a moderately practical system in place, we put danger in our place, potentially harming our country.

I begin another essay, 502 words, on Donald Trump, and what a laugh he is, more than he’s ever been.  He’s a celebrity, for what.  Money.  And now he’s a potential political figure, the leader of the country that embodies and boasts freedom like no other?  This same stooge suggesting we give all Muslims in the country IDs, much like the Jewish population during Hitler’s short-lived Reich.

My desk soon becomes littered with printed pages, pieces I fancy submitting but not before realizing I’m better off publishing it myself.

The mocha’s disgusting.  Could use a beer.

Fine.  But I’m not wasting the Ginger Ale.

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Professor NaNoWriMo (no edits)

…I’ll have coffee for the students as I did in Spring 2014– my hands type faster now than I’ve ever seen, a fiery adjunct with a determination to end this semester as a bold and meteoric victor, soon to see the Road and soon lecturing around the country and writing on my travels, sipping my red from a high floor in Florida, and coming home to my children with stories.  But I need to meet someone first I know.  But how?  How when I’m as busy as I am?  I thought about calling her, or messaging her, but why, we don’t talk that often and she’s busy with her studies, and I’m a mess most of the time with my writings and projects and moods, and disgusting grading.  I shove myself to a more Panglossian pose but it evaporates when I peer at the time in the upper corner, right, of this devilish laptop.  My teaching blog for the students, ‘maddenedread’, I’m thinking of expanding, maybe…  Making more into a brand and something the students follow rather than just a tired blog I instruct them to check out or follow–  The ideas precipitate faster than I can type or scribble or in any way log them.  Love this feeling.  If any negativity’s intent on finding me it’ll have to skirmish through this elevated and hortatory wall first.  And it won’t.

Another full-timer passes, says nothing, just walks to her office so assured she’ll have a job for life and what does our struggle matter?  Well I’m turning all this.  I’m going to make them all adjuncts, and with the brands and businesses I’m building I’ll be the full-timer, the comfortable one; the one not worrying ever and the one looking forward to work in ways they could envisage.

Have 40 more minutes to myself.  To write.

Ideas continue their swoops, landing on my thought’s block.

And what do I do but write faster.

The department secretary, or administrator, or clerk, or whatever her title is this month just was in view, in mailroom.  She saw me and said nothing and I laughed, maybe even loud enough for her to hear.  Not sure.

But I’m building the brand of maddenedread, to read madly and crazily and formulate a more creative opinion on Literature than an academic one– oh, topic for an essay…  Can’t wait till I’m on the Road and my reputation building and these full-timers will wish they were me.  The dept. chair just passed through, lightly, barely with audible quality and height said, I think, “Hello, Michael..”.  If he knew me, he’d know that I hate being called Michael.  If Mom calls me so, or my sister, fine.  But no one else.  This is more evidence of the disconnect between this department and me–

He passes through again after using restroom and doesn’t even look at me.  Good I don’t want to be distracted.  None of them could relate to what I’m doing right now, what I’m building…

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MOCK SOMM:  2 Wines from Jesse Katz 

Aperture Cellars, Alexander Valley, Red Wine, 2011

IMG_9274A wildly vocal blend, Bordeaux varietals, Cab/Malbec, and one that commands the sipper to be lost, twirled and whirled in the body of the wine and its speech; darkness of berries and vibrant and confident presence, impact and influence on senses.  And, you taste more than structure, you’re greeted by a communicative being from the bottle; the words and story of the vintage and winemaker, Alexander Valley’s relentless promulgation of Bordeaux varietals.  There’s no halt to this wine’s momentum and palate placement.  Like his father’s photos, you’re caught, not anytime soon release but held in one place to appreciate and be lost in the visual, the scene created and captured, measured and treasured.  Of course I’m partial loving Cabernet and Bordeaux blends, and being one of those fervent followers of Katz, and his father’s work, but I’m instructed to appreciate Cabernet and Cab-honed blends differently with this bottle and most notably since it’s from ’11, the vintage that so IMG_9275many of these wine “experts” and “critics” want to dismiss so knee-jerkingly.  This wine is a taste of place, the alchemical invitation to experience stylistic translation of Cabernet meeting Malbec in bottle, in the perfect accompaniment, actuating its own autonomous atmosphere.  This wine reminds me of my relationship with wine, frankly, what I’m after and what I’ve been after in wine; Literary qualities, a story, the sipped-written; Wines that have their own character development and past, future, that are part of my present.  And I found another, finally, from an old friend, now infused to my wined picture and life more clearly– another sip, and I hear its voice.  Again, again…


Devil Proof Vineyards, Alexander Valley, Malbec, 2012

IMG_9041A Malbec, on its own, defiant in its delicious dichotomy of a disposition.  Loud and assertive but still very much elegant and poetic, not at all overreaching or stretching into a stance it shouldn’t.  A harmony of red coupled with its principles as a Bordeaux.  And you’re thinking to yourself, “And this is 100% Malbec?” And yes, there’s no support from another varietal, and no odd adjustments or anything strange in the writing of its story.  And like other wines from Katz, we see that understanding, and that winemaker influence and innovation sans trumping the identity of the varietal itself.  So then… we sip again, and experience what wine should be, or wine of this elevation; Art.  A story, a new story and new IMG_9044adventure for Jesse, when I asked him how he knew it was time to begin his new mission and venture he simply responded with “It was the right time.”  and it was the right time in my oeno-apologue to meet this bottle, having me feel immune and impervious to all ill elements, and how could I be harmed with such didactic wine in my glass, and the woman smiling back at me, holding her cigar herself aware that nothing and intrude on her proverbial quietude?  Cinnamon singing from rich raspberry and antagonizing cherry and other wild berry suggestion, lively spice song and tannic accents supply memorable structure, and more story, more memory, and what critics say about Mr. Katz’s passion project matters but doesn’t.  There’s mastery, visible, tasted, cellared or poured, it’s there at your table and you live, feel, and see it.  All.  And you’re proof that nothing negative can puncture you’re moment.  So you smile with her.


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Another Island

IMG_8805 Wine, today was all wine.  But as well, a return to running.  6.2 treadmill miles today, then home to shower before the crushpad, where the Cabernet, the last Sanglier lot as I understand was crushed.  Now the writer’s at home, battling several distractions but here in the homestudy writing about the day and how it only moreso convinced me I’m a writing/running winemaker.  Tomorrow morning, although I’m sure the wine will still be felt, I’ll be writing and journaling, inventorying all.  The run is starting to catch me, a bit, but not as much as I thought it would.  Must still be in a bit of shape.  After the 6.2 I took to the basketball court to shoot a few.  But not many.  I know Glenn would call any minute and ask me to come to the press and I did and he later messaged me to be at this house for the wine club/employee/grower event at his house.  Myself, didn’t sip much, but there at home I have surveyed both the La Rochelle Chardonnay and the Selby Merlot.  Not aiming for any level of effect but just to be in wine’s story– the write can only think of how many weeks are left in the semester and how much longer he has to wait to launch both the startup and the website for ‘mmc’.

Smelling the other fermenting wines in that room, one of the barrel rooms showed me what wine can IMG_8812do to senses and the story, how it’s perceived by a writer like me.  A writer– like me.  Down comes Alice, what haveth she to say– “Where’s my ipad?” Then up she goes, pointing out to the writer how big her stomach gets.  I remind her she’s pregnant which is unnecessary but I do to comfort her and she smiles airingly and I can’t help but imagine my little girl here in this house, crawling around like Jackie used to in the condo.  Wine is family, and a family business.  So I need to push harder with mmc and vvv.  There are universes and solar strokes nearing that I never before pictured.  So here it is, what the writer has always wanted and I can’t be slowed even for a minute– I should be drinking coffee right now no worry I will in the morning keeping my story going and all these short stories and narratives involving and revolving wine and winemaking and wine drinking, what the grape says to me, leaving behind the bloody adjunct de-signification, how they lower us and throw us where they need us and– no matter, this semester, F ’15, will be a bold forward in my wine label’s methodology and bottle titles.  Already have one thought of , the “Adjunct’s Succession Blend”.

IMG_8814Now, for cap, the write sips his Lagunitas bottle.  Then I need bed.  A fine rest for the writer and a sturdy state for the winery, Arista, come morrow, where I know I’ll taste more wines, Pinots, and a Zin– oh and that Chard, maybe two.  The writer’s exhaustion him catches but the book grows and I hope to be on the Road soon with my little pages and whatever pens I can steal from the plane and hotel– simplicity in my saunter and syncopation, my synapses rile in new realizations and thought so going back to Mendo someday soon and confronting that tight-greasy-faced pig that rejected my writing pulse, telling him something like “Oh I’m doing fine, I’m writing.. and what are you doing?  OH.. still teaching English at a community college?” And yes that sounds vindictive and petty, ‘cause it is. It’s warranted.

Then I calm down.  It’s the weekend, if I even get those.  Do I?  The downstairs of the Autumn Walk IMG_8824base, quiet, and me with this laptop on my lap and my family upstairs asleep except for possibly Alice who took a nap only a handful of hours ago.. provides the writer some pause, some collection, and another sip of this Lagunitas Sucks– was tempted to have more of that Selby Merlot, but the writer’s done with Merlot tonight, done with wine.  Beer’s what the character craves.  And another cruise through the day’s stills.  So I deep breathe, hear the back neighbors but ignore them, already fantasizing about the coffee– oh, I should make some now, and I would, but I know that would anger Alice. I should be upstairs now but I’m a writer with a flurry of character quirks.


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The next morning, odd

vibes and vertices about the day’s development.  Just came from the crush pad where Glenn showed me the Syrah pressing, next to the Grenache and Mourvedre add, for their Rosé project.  The first press or “rain” as I thought of it of Syrah was darker than you or anyone would expect from a Rosé effort, nice thick strawberry and cherry, wild berry rile to its presence, while the second rain was IMG_8662lighter and with more wildness to its fruit quality, almost like a (though I hate the word) tartness.  Britt and I went to see what the brix was on the GR/MV co-ferment.  About 24.6, if I remember right.  Then they press that and add to tank, but it seems this vintage there is a concern with juice.. all the more to my winemaking momentum.

At the Starbuck on Hopper, which had the longest line I’d ever seen here, so far, since my consistency of visits, taking nearly 15 minutes to get my mocha and sit here for my morning words and expressions, musings or whatever you’d want them to be tagged– my visions and dreams wander sitting here thinking about the wines I’ll make and how I’ll write about them, what my sister and parents and everyone would think.  What Doug, my lunching friend from yesterday, would think.  And my other projects…  Would love the whole day to just STOP, focus, get done what I need.  But now I head to Arista where for sure there’s only more content.. more and more and more than I can handle but somehow I’ll find a way to press it out like this morning’s Syrah and have it settle in my barreled prognostications, measurements of a literary life and winemaking anchor-theme..  Like I always say, I’ll write everything for the day, everything and show my readers, you, what I see in this wine world, the conversations and what’s said, everything from a worker’s worry of what’s on the schedule, who they have coming in, do we have enough bottles open, to what time does the wedding start and when do we close (if we have a wedding).

The slow nature and character of this coffee hole continues, with people collecting and pocketing just in front of me, mostly with scowls about, wondering what the hell is taking so long and will they be late to whatever.  And many have the day to themselves today, normal people unlike me as it’s Saturday, and they frown and frown, and roll their eyes when name called.  I sit here and laugh below the moving characterization of surface, wondering how the rest of my day’s to go.

Now all these flies fly around me for torment or amusement, I’m not sure, but I’m annoyed and wonder what else the day plans on throwing at me–  Started with the sun in my eyes, so much I had to lean my head out, on San Miguel.  Then again on Hopper causing me to nearly miss the crush pad– 

And now someone sits next to me.  Leaving.

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