Posts Tagged With: wine industry

Actually Seeing

IMG_5970This morning, oddly rich purply-blue sky, weather on NPR saying possible thunderstorms and I’m not surprised. I had to rush myself out the door this morning and break the nostalgia of what today is, or beings with it: taking possession of Autumn Walk. Like Mom the other day noted, a new chapter. And I listen to jazz and sip my coffee here in the adjunct office– and again I have to make self just write, write! Don’t get held in reflection.. write it down! So.. the meeting with Michael Browne yesterday, what started from a saving of tips with his friend to producing a barrel of Pinot (the last bottle of which I saw on the wall of that magnum room), to now having a serious wine operation and world of his own– will save for later MOCK SOMM article. Today, meeting with students, the 1-on-1’s again. 5 pages due, at least 5, on Tuesday, then draft on Thursday, then final submission well following.
Love this song, ‘Delilah” by Hutcherson. I have to stay in type and reading of my texts and with my handle on the adjunct world and role and reality. This morning in my mail slot in the mail room (surprised they even give me my own, but…), a copy of the “union” paper, a voice for adjuncts or an attempt anyway. Talking about privatization models and how adjuncts are part of that… I’m already exhausted. I’m in a mood this morning to only hone on what I want, and what I want is not to be a part of that at all.. still teach and lecture on Literature but in my own capacity and context, and with my own delights, those Paris Review interviews for example. Baldwin may have to be revisited in Fall, as I don’t feel I took away all that I wanted, I didn’t have time this semester, with the house and the work at Arista and everything else– or I just didn’t manage Time effectively, which has been known to happen. A symptom of being a writer, I’m sure. But I persist in my passion and my prose, the stories.. with another piece published by the wine website, my narrative on not drinking wine to think about its concept then returning to sips.. then I think that if no students show today I should complete a standalone piece of fiction, or even if they do show. Start writing after I talk to them.. thinking of the walk through that production facility and walking on that catwalk, touching that puncher on the rail system.. making wine, making wine that people love and want to drink and want at home with them. Versus living the rest of my life a struggling adjunct… You tell me! What’s the more enjoyable election? And the more practical, for that matter….. I will get my hands on some fruit this vintage and go forward with it, produce it, and I want it to be Pinot.. every word from Michael yesterday ordered me to do what I want and not be dragged around, just do what you want, Craft, create, be happy with your passion and make it your job and if it’s a true love you’ll never hate it (reacting to what one of my 1B students the other day offered, ‘never do for work what you love ‘cause you’ll wind up hating it’.). I see the logic and I don’t. But either way, the adjunct tussle is not any longer for me. I will teach, but there won’t be that dependency, and I’d love to teach just one class, a 1A or 1B or 5– staying critical in my approaches to literature and what I’ve always prided myself on: Onus, and making that writing your own and building your ideas for what you want to state.. one student in the 1B, ‘R’ I’ll call him, showing more vigor and intensity with this project than he has with any other effort this term, already having 7 pages typed! I was humbled and motivated my self.. I want to print! I want to submit! I want to be like a student again! And I say that all the time but this moment’s different.. again, taking possession of Autumn Walk, Jackie not stopping in his growth (his sentences and logics becoming more pragmatic and sharp, and ‘timed’ which keeps the writer ever-alert), and wanting another child.. growing for my family and with them. I’m getting a bit emotional, yes, and slow with sentimentality but I have composure and focus.. oh reader look at me now to this jazz and in this adjunct cell meant to imprison us but I only grow like inmates in hardened facilities.. knowing where I’m going and how I’ll escape..
So.. wine.. last night finished that Reserve Cab from Kunde Family Estate. And the palate withstood the oxygen invasion over the 24 hours since last touched.. nothing compromised or curved.. the coherence of the wine’s sensory scope was still quite anchored and, as I used earlier the word, ‘honed’. I attempted acquiring the constituents of the wine’s process and conceptual edifice, if you would, yesterday from my friend Zach (winemaker at Kunde), but didn’t hear back. And it doesn’t matter. The wine was resplendently luminous in its harness and I’m ever-riled more to make wine this vintage.. wine made by a writer and a writer with more growl and ferocity and spleening virulence than he’s ever had– NO controller or manager or hasty-witted moldwarp owner jabbing at this writer from their bile-posed not-so-ivory tower– EVER. I’m autonomous now and with certain written pugilist complex, which is beneficial, reader! Don’t be mistaken!
I take another glance at the article about the adjunct who was brought into a full-timer’s office only to be yelled at, and want to toss this fucking thing in the rubbish bucket by the door. And my contempt isn’t with the full-timer but with the adjunct, all of them! Why do you let them do this to you? Why do YOU do this to YOU?? No more.. okay, calm down, this is the coffee talking and as my brother Dwight will tell you, I become quite the page-bull when I drink coffee, especially a rattling mediumroast like this.
Wonder if thunderstorms will actually greet us today. I wonder then how that will affect the writing and how I’ll be mood-wise stepping into Autumn Walk.. how.. how.. what will this new Chapter bring and how will my narrative be shaped?
Can’t wait to meet with the students that do actually show. Last Thursday, and on little sleep from waking with little Kerouac, I was brought to elevation I’d never before felt. Especially with.. well with both sections.. but the 1B, the talk with ‘M’ and ‘J’ (whom I call “Mr. Kerouac”) left quite the note with me. That I actually TEACH. That they are engaged and that I am making a difference in their scholastic progressions. Too bad the politics soil it all. Or almost all of it.

Autumn. Walk. The Fall season, closing the novel only to begin a new one, like Mom said, and to ‘walk’, saunter as Emerson did, not to rush– I see great and grandiose significance in this new home, this new book (not so much a mere chapter, I’d offer to my empyrean and sagacious mother). All will become ordered, now, coherence, and beaming with promise. That’s what I was thinking this morning, standing in the kitchen and staring at the red curtain which acts as a door over the glasses and plates that remain, Ms. Alice demonstrating her wonder by having nearly everything packed and prepared for transport. 6:44 now, and I’m eager to see who shows, and who doesn’t and who wants to exchange ideas and what ideas I exchange with them. I’m putting it all on me, the Professor– no, WRITER– no, ARTIST– no, Thinker– no… Now I know.


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Deciding to Attend

Attend what? This session. I told myself that I wouldn’t write anymore today, to just relax this evening, but the ’09 Cab I opened told me to write, and to dive again into Baldwin’s essays. And how he views the world, America, himself. In the Paris Review chat with the interviewer he said he needed isolation to come to terms with who and what he was. And now with this second glass I think about who, truly, I am. And what, the ‘what’. WHAT, am I?! Nearing 36, and I have no idea I know, and I know the ideas will provide some sense but I need more, more sense and vision of what Mike Madigan is. I love Baldwin’s confidence in the face of oppression, in the white man’s world. In all the pieces I read I not only sense and read but taste a sense of fearlessness… That’s what I want in my ‘what’. But as well, in the PR interview, Mr. Baldwin asserts that first-person narrative is ‘terrifying’. And he also says the reader has no reason to trust first-person. I don’t agree.. if anything, the reader doesn’t need to preoccupy with “trusting” the narrator but rather consider their experience, or the tale. Being open. I mean, if it’s fiction, it’s fiction, it’s contrived by the denotative delivery. But what I thought was encouraging, just a couple words later: “…why should you need this I? How is this person real by dint of that bar blaring across the page?” It’s not a matter of needing the ‘I’, but rather considering the ‘I’ for what its ingredients are, conducting a character analysis as you move through the manuscript, and not to determine if that narrator is trustworthy or reliable or even worthy of readership, but just to process the professing prose. To completely write-off the first-person, the ‘I’, is unjust, unfair and too sweeping.
Maybe this is the Cab talking, this bold and vampiric ’09, that dares me to take on Baldwin, to readdress Joyce and his swirly swampy and granulated paragraph streamings… I don’t know, but I’m in a Literary tumble this evening, and the wine and its lecture and story and ‘I‘ only push me further, and I can’t stop, I couldn’t even if I wanted to. This is more than a blog post but a realization of what I’m to do, and that only ‘I’, this writer, can build the career he wants. Everything’s a piece in the novel, everything, and with us about to move to Autumn Walk I need take this prose with more precision and dogma, practice.. tomorrow, the meeting with the winemaker in RRV, finally, asking him questions and responding to his wines– yes I will try to stump or moreso challenge him and find what his views are while at the same time putting mySelf in the student’s seat, learning from his winemaking philosophies and his facundity. We’ll see. I’m not going there to one-up him or show a writer-versus-winemaker form, but to learn. Remember, I want to make wine too!
Last sips of the Cab, and I’m full from dinner, the tacos this ‘Cinco de’. Can’t understand how quickly the semester has past me flown, raced, like it doesn’t care how sensitive I am to Time and its duty. I need another sip… All I can say is “DARK”. Not the most expressive fruit fold on this wine, nor olfactory leaps, but there’s incredible texture and the most anomalous clasp to the tactile reception.. wooing and musical, yes, but I feel there’s more to be told, in a few more years. I don’t want to say “after aging” like some do, but there’s more to be said from this bottle.. don’t rush! And that’s what the wine’s telling me, with the novel and with the semester and my career as a writer: DON’T. FUCKING. RUSH!!! Okay, okay, I say. I’m understanding now, I get it. I’ll slow down, but not in this session, and not with today. I sent writings to 2 locations, 2 publishers, and I’ve posted to the blog a couple times as well– today’s a victory, I’m writing like a dominant penman, very much I feel. And yes I could be prepping for the next classes, but I’m very much of the thought I deserve this time in the nook, yes? The wine, again, telling me to decrease my Literary BPM. BEATS…

With nothing more to mold in this sitting, at this nook table, in my punctuality, I retire, resign for day, night and look forward to morrow, my morrow, the interview with the winemaker, yes, but more, more and more for the novel– remember, I’m a writer, not a bumbling blogger or “wine writer”– I’m thinking about my ‘I’, my story, and MY book. Not the expected– ‘oh, you’re in the wine industry, you have to write about that, and watch what you say…’ No, I’m without lid, and what’s the wine world going to do if I freely speak, and quills are summoned?


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Oeno-Caesura Narrative (inventory)

Sometimes I break, pause from the sips, to collect Self and know precisely what it is aboutIMG_5916 wine that captures the writer and why so often I write about it. In this most recent hiatus, if you will, I think of the varietal that brought me into consistency of sips and bottle-chasing. Merlot. The varietal that’s only popular to deplore from a less-than-quality movie and what now has me kerfuffle’d is how I’m returning to this grape type, after years of flying around from Zin to Syrah, to Malbecs and Pinots.. and now back, back to Merlot, the first bottle magnetizing my character in ’02, when I lived in an apartment in San Ramon and I called my mother to ask what I should serve for guests soon arriving. And she recommended a Blackstone Merlot, think the vintage was ’00 (yeah, it’d have to be, right?). Anyway, here I am, pensive and reflective and scribbling in my Composition Book a lecture to myself to extend this break, don’t sip for a couple days, build the anticipation for the next Merlot cork removed. Pride? Duckhorn? Trefethen? St. Francis? Kaz? What? What should I next meet? What kind of character do I want to greet me? And why do people hate Merlot? Oh yeah I forgot, letting some flimsy-brained film think for you is much easier and painless opposed to actually going to a store buying a bottle and thinking for yourself. Okay.. I’m corrected.
And, in this break from sipping, a curt and coherence cleanse if you might, I wonder what I’ll learn next about wine, its world and the many business models and sizes of wineries, and why winemakers go that way with a varietal interpretation while so many choose another path and practice, or some derivation thereof. The lessons compile, and for the English Professor parcel of Mike Madigan, I can only see more and more to absorb. And I’m overwhelmed, unannoucedly. Maybe I need a glass of wine before dinner– NO, wait, wait.. anticipate, deliberate. And so collecting my senses I hear the dialogue of a tasting room, tourists new to Sonoma/Napa, asking questions and discovering.. discovery.. expansion of knowledge and perspective and.. I should pause like this more often, and do just what I’m doing, listen. To myself and others, and wine’s story will enrich everything about me as a mere sipper.

And the other province about Mike Madigan’s character? One just in love with the translation of grape to bottled content. Professing so much love and curious exponential myriads that loudly envelope senses all. Notably olfactory, gustatory. Spellbinding swirls with the darkly tinted chroma. And just like that.. the glass tilting halt ends. Sipping an ’09 Cabernet from– Doesn’t matter. I’m peace’d, safe in my composing. Logical structuring re-structured in some useful cubism code, one I’m writing not yet. The ’09 tells me to wait, don’t write for a minute, “Just enjoy me,” it orders. I let the strings be pulled. No moving of pen, no typing, just a sip, another.. another.


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More on the

wine exploration, my new attitude and forum for the bottles, tomorrow. And in morrow, early wake. This morning out the door late from the easing of little Kerouac… but before I forget, prompts for morrow writing: 1, meeting with 1B students; 2, stop at Cellars for tasting and MOCK SOMM material; and 3, the SB from VML I sip now– oh, and 4: the Comp Book, how it fills and how much I must have forgotten. I know there’s a gem or dozen in there. I have to wake early, a Hemingway session, write the MOCK SOMM piece on the Pinot from Porter Creek. With this new wine campaign and writing momentum, I’m noticing more about myself as a writer and lover of wine, what I sip and how perceive it sensorily and meditatively.
The VML SB tonight has more melody to its words and overall ‘sip thesis’. More coherent, and more definite language to its composition. Everything I’ve shared this semester with the students has taught me something in the way I interact with Art, and wine, and Life,

always wine  always mine--

always wine

and my own ideas. but I have to dive further into these puddles fermented, and link it closer to Literature, return to my vinoLit anchoring, what had me blogging or start blogging in ’09, what my sister-in-law suggested.. and yes, I rejected her at first but I’m glad I started these blogs and just putting my reactions into the world, into reader’s thoughtful realms. And now, more mature and more energetic and more focused from having a son and thinking of how he’ll one day read his diarist father, I’m more set to subdue any self-doubt or defeatist disposition. I too think of my students this semester and how hard they’ve worked and how farcical it would be if I didn’t throw more of myself into this new writing momentum, this newly catalyzed revolution about my words and entry pattern.
Tired, took a nap earlier but have since been sluggish and a bit moody, but I remain with my speed and sight with wine and the thoughts connected, everything from the MOCK SOMM column to the writing for that website, to wine itself, and what I make this vintage and what I’ll write about that, the process and how the fruit will look when it comes in.
There, alarm set for 5:20. And I will be writing. Then after dropping off little Kerouac, to the pool, and I don’t know for how many laps, as many as I can handle I just want to swim and stay healthy so I can write and be around for my children and have more energy, achieve that Wellness that Phoebe writes of.

Ready for calling the night, ending this fiddling with the synthesis of sentences wrapped and wound around wine. Wake early, I’m telling myself, wake early and write and post and show the pages to an already literarily-deprived world.

Oh, and tomorrow’s the first day of May. 36, soon 28 days at front. Need to get in that pool at ’24’, swim like I’m evading a shark, or one of those jellyfish with the poison that could kill like a thousand men with one perforation.

always wine


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2day’s story–

IMG_57786:54, just got to campus. Optional day for students. Thinking of new ideas for what I’m building in being a writer, and putting the novel on hold, or rather having it be my toy truck project. One student in room with me. My adjunct days, or the dependent/co-dependent days of living so are coming to an end. Won’t go off on that and I know you think I will, but I’ll refrain..
The wines from yesterday, and just how I felt driving around, introducing myself and finding new interpretations of varietals and business models.. has me thinking of expansion, and doing something MAMMOTH in the industry.. blogging and tasting and Art and photography.. all of it, and blending it with literature.. saying this wine would pair well with– OOOO!!! Just thought of something else.. have to type it.. “class” if you’d call it that starts in 3 minutes, now 2. Jackie and I up at 2 till after 3 watching cartoons, but I have coffee don’t worry. Told Alice I would sleep between classes but I don’t see myself doing that, knowing me and how much I want to write after yesterday’s RRV mission…

Home. And I’m writing. Posted wine review, see what happens.. think there’sIMG_5746 something quite valuable and antagonistic, valuably antagonistic in this MOCK SOMM column.. again, we’ll see. I am tired but I know if I have just one cup I’ll write luminously and with seismic force.. I say that and cringe, thinking of the people in Nepal. How and why does life do that to people? Wish I could fly there, document it to tell there story, and help in other ways. But I know me and I’m certain I wouldn’t be able to handle it; the pain, the death, and the sight of harmed children. Was going to watch a WWII doc the other night and stopped when I saw a baby crying, atop rubble. I felt sad, sick, and ashamed I even saw that pained curvature to its eyes, mouth, brow, arm.. ugh, no more.
And my baby, little Kerouac, up early this morning with his cough and me bringing him downstairs to get his mind away from the discomfort, turning on cartoons. He was much better, more talkative and expressive for it, and we all went to bed for a couple hours following, so I have no regret in what I executed but my body and sight, thinking is affected. I’m slower, and sensitive I notice to sound and how I touch things, even these keys. But I’m sped in my keypushes so I’m determined and strangely comfortable, at Peace with this sitting (on floor, against couch, next to backpack).
Consolidating blogs at semester’s close, my left knee.. more coffee.. a nap.. haircut….. Jackie….. Just a few subjects strangling my sensibility at the moment, and how I discussed this morning with two of my stronger matriculants the contradictory and widely ugly hypocrisy of academia.. more I think about me and my story and role as adjunct I see these pages taking me away, and soon, and the inventiveness must perpetuate.. bottledaux as a company.. ‘WRITen’ as an idea, and the whole vinoLit philosophy I formed in ’09/’10… Think, don’t stop thinking.. brainstorm as I urge the students. When I look at some of their journals and see how heaping they are with thought and just true stormings of the brain, I realize I need to anger my own efforts. Antagonize them. TAUNT them. Treat them as caged cats that only want to fight back. SO I do I will I’m going to.. all day. No nap. Fuck a nap. What would that do but make me dead for an hour or more.. no writing when you’re sleeping. That sure as shit won’t finish a MS.
And back from a distraction. Email, social media, pushing the blog and what have.. So quiet in the condo, and I know I won’t sleep. And I’m not that tempted anymore. One of the social media tributaries is slow, or clogged, simply not functioning but I won’t let it damper. No.. I write on.. and I’m hoping tomorrow at Arista gives me more material on wine and wine thoughts and words as it has since I started. Huh, look at the writer fly across his keyboard. You know what, reader, I will have that next cup, if you don’t mind… And I’ll rise in a minute from this floor. Wine.. wine tasting.. winemaking. With more and more flowering showing up in the vineyards, my wine nears, my Cab. OR Pinot. Shit, what do I want. Why not try Pinot? The chemistry dimension or segment you can find assistance for, with. But how it tastes is my conduction. I’ll again study what we’re pouring and elect what tones I want visible. Yes, I’m challenging Pinot just as I’m sure it will challenge the writer.
Already coming to a thousand for the day and I can’t wait for tomorrow, for the reactions from how I describe the wines, which a better 99-point-something percent take to. And, sometime I instruct myself there, in the moment, in the TR while I’m connecting with a local or tourist on how the wine presents itself that day. Wine shifts shapes, I evermore appreciate and see and think that’s what people forget. “How will this taste in two or three years?” How the hell IMG_5793should I know, however the wine wants itself to taste. Now some winemakers will give you a thought that’s smattered in formula and some obscurely worded prediction (if they have their dictionary or thesaurus or ‘phonics’ book close by) . But I’ve found the wine is more cognitive that we give it credit. And, again, that’s why wine is quite plainly FUN. Why would you want to know what you’re going to get for your birthday, or xmas, or any occasion. Isn’t the tradition of surprise much of what contributes to and establishes life’s allure and cherished chase?
Looking at a picture from yesterday, of the soil in one of the VML vineyards. And I’m not sure, why, just the richness and texture and visual voice.. that image and.. I don’t know, but I’m captured and developing in my survey.. the seen, the scene.. I react and.. and….. I don’t know. Splendor, sense, Art, writing, a story, new ME: NEW MIKE. One I like, or even love. Again, I

Ideas.. a broadcast in addition to the writing.. just keep writing and working and thinking and capturing..


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MOCK SOMM: VML Wines, Russian River Valley, Sauvignon Blanc, 2014

I forever have felt SB was a back-burner varietal, like it’s something you sip IMG_5785before something ‘serious’, like it’s the wine you sip before real wine, something red. Well, this white warrants more craze, more conviction and more vigor from sippers. And that’s what I’m writing for, here, in this entry, for the Bordeaux that tells the sipper to pay attention and demonstrate respect, make that respect and acknowledgment visible.. the nose and initial palate are rich and convincing, boasting its own phenolic geography with those wild melon wiles and tropic touches, the togetherness of the concluding orders of the sip. Nose, collectively, nearly pheromonal– There’s a striking lightening to this wine from sip one to last, in all segments and stages.. a general impression that I’ve never sipped in an SB. The acidic flex is understated but pragmatically vibrant and visceral.
IMG_5786 This bottle has more than just what I call ‘palate attendance’. There’s work that it has done before sliding along and attaching itself to your senses. The tropical lacings and honey suckle are suspended and strengthened by the alcohol content, which yes is a bit high for an SB, over 14.2, and the texture doesn’t blare stainless steel exclusivity nor neutral oak. In fact I don’t know what the treatment or regiment was concerning ferm’ and aging. And I don’t care. Again, the aims of these posts anchor themselves in divulging and writing about wines that I–me the over-spoken, passionate and tireless consumer–like, and love. This SB, closer to a love, undoubtedly. AND… easily the best ’14 Blanc I’ve sipped till now. Certainly the only one worth writing about.
So what does the Lit lover in me pair with a sturdy imbiber? Short stories, either by Tobias Wolff or the little-knowns by Capote.. something thoughtful and with an imaginative handle on form, tilt your glass as you turn pages.



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The novel, now my “toy truck” project, as King said. I’m not backing away or out of my project, I’m just abandoning the due date. I know that I wagered my son as motivation, but I now evermore dedicate to short fiction, that will be my job; the sketches and shorts and vignettes– so nothing’s changed, I’m just following the path that more calls me. When I have time to dedicate to the novel then I cut through that door. Now, I pan and tilt blade with more functionality.
Submitting a piece on Adjuncts to NPR’s ‘perspectives’, and writing another piece for that wine blog.. and then just writing for me, those pages for ‘yr own joy’ as he said. Mom told me to stick to short pieces, and why not? She’s write. I feel less pressure, and am less sluggish, and that’s all the time I have at the moment. When I’m not longer adjuncting and pouring 4 or 5 days a week, locked in MY office, then I’ll throw Self to a novel.
Tomorrow, optional office hour for the students to help them with their final papers.. oh, and that reminds me, I need to post to the teaching blog at some point this day. And this is the last semester of maddenedread. Everything from the Ox put into the Bottle. What wine do I open tonight? A Pinot? OR one of my Merlots? Not sure what I have anymore, as much of the wine was moved to Mom and Dad’s, before the move… Should charge the camera [in a past entry, I wrote ‘phone’, as now I pretty much solely snap stills with my phone, as do many in the country, world..], the one I use for real picture missions. Thinking of photographing along Westside Road, certain shades and lightings of the vines at this time.. into kitchen for charge and a sip from cup2– can really feel it now..
As a wine writer, or person, or lover, or… I don’t always have to address the wine, what I sip. Why not the vistas, why not how the air and soil smell around the roots and by creeks? Why can’t I cite how the trees look on the mountain or hill’s flat just elevated beyond the rows? Why does wine always have to be about wine and the act of drinking? Why can’t it be the ideas and associated expansions from wine?…..And I’m not incensed, I’m gentle extending a thoughtful entertainment. I already know.. people love drinking, they hunt for that buzz, and they see something actioning and assiduous to commercialized ‘hedonism’. In fact, some even write the word itself into their mission or statement or “Philosophy” as many winery sites italicize on their website. “Winemaking Philosophy.” Or, “Our Philosophy.” If you extrapolated the word ‘Philosophy’, you still have the same candor and vision disclosed, so why that unction, the layering, that self-endowment and anointment? Well, obvious. Didn’t you know that wineries are the foremost pedagogical places, each a sought phrontistery?


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Beauty Brooding

IMG_5691Attestedly, Pinot and I have a flimsy relationship– we bicker, we contest, we ardently altercate. But not tonight.. tonight we dance, thanks to this Russian River producer.. the fruit is not in any angle contrived or forced, or one-columned. I’m being spoken to, in song, in verse, this ’13 is like a convincing cloud of sensory force that I’ve never met; that other Pinots in set would envy and downright deplore for its palate prose. And maybe this would be the glass, my second, spurring the writer, but it’s Truth– this Pinot is its own mandate, a sovereign sewing of empyreal ebullience– wild herbs and field-y tones taunting the caesura of raspberry and maple, slight cedar– but I‘m not approaching the wine that way, with the dumbed cataloguing of notes and ‘descriptors’. This character deserves more, and more, and by ‘more’ I intend a story, and I envisage, some world, or setting, or moment where character like myself and another like-penner perambulate in words and recitals and– some crowd, listening to our words, all prompted by this Burgundy, from Westside Road… Next sip, forcing my diffidence, causing me to reject any and all boxes, and cherish my own chatter. When I find a wine like this, this is what materializes. And Pinot, of all forms, genres. This is no wine review, no silver-tongued sentence sequence, just me writing to wine; evidence irrefutable of the writer tilted and terrifically taunted by a new wine find. And Pinot… Pinot! I don’t want to be one of this new fashionable fold but it looks like I am. But that wasn’t the writer’s desideratum, by any measure. And that’s my understanding of Pinot as a presence: vagary, the espial; ensuing enclosure. But I’m digging too far as I tend to do, this writer-slash-professor.. I should have just sipped and scribbled, jotted some humdrum banality and skipped along with the glass-tilts. But that’s not how we arrange on page, we writers, the word-warpers loving simple syllabics with a bit of sip. And like Kerouac, there was a decision I’ve been meaning to stamp and solidify but it’s been tossed away from my perceptive plain, and pleasurably. And I thank the PInot, this ’13, for getting me to clarity some coherence of paragraph, composition.. wine wine always in a wine, me and my cyclical sentiments… my Beat.
And my glass empty. A lull ebbs in my Personhood. And to do.. what. Nothing. Just stare at this bloody glass as any Beat would. My curves and coursings opaque in any rationale, and so mundane when I re-write, and re-re-write. But this bottle’s solved that. And I’m untroubled. From this Pinot. Why does it confront me from sides blind? It, this contained vivacity light but not so, aims to have its Self heard. And I know you’re asking, “Where? From where? What winery?”
Why does it matter? I’m a writer, find love, a wine, mine, mind molded and resulted. Freed, me.. That’s REAL capsuled composition. So I sip again…..


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Seen Speech


IMG_5609I remember my intentions with wine today– charging ‘good phone’, ready for notes on ’12 Mendo Ridge Pinot, and the vines.. where they are what they’re saying and how I’m to look at them. Last night’s Merlot opening suggested to me that wine today should just be written in dialogue form, no notes, no thick-witted daffy descriptors. No, today me as a novelist and short fiction writer introduces itSelf to wine, and offers to not so much speak for it but translate its visual nudges into line, lines.
My ’12 Merlot, especially the last glass, offered something to a lean of: “I want to be seen as a song, a set on stage, with this light assertiveness…” Last sip was a little over 10 hours ago, so I’m remembering what I can.

Little Kerouac next to me on couch now, ready for school, ready for his day, this FridayIMG_5040 (which isn’t a Friday to me as I’m with my promissory morrow– the frenzying Saturday behind the bar, where people nearly have their iphones stolen (only happened once, and by accident, but the lady’s reaction was pricless, next to that drunk group, she saying to the reacher “Um, excuse me yeah that’s mine, thanks…”). And I’ll note everything, everyone today, in the spoken, the characterized.. characters, characters, in bottle and out. And there’s me, the adjunct, the writer obvious and then not so, not sure which I prefer.

Older photos from the last winery, some inciting me, others keeping me thoughtful, wanting to write that novel, finish it– the Massamen project, where I, or he, will disclose everything, everything about the wine world that people thinking of entering it on an occupational front MUST know. That it’s NOT fantasy. It’s a job, like anything else. BUT, you can make it your own, which now at the elevated age of nearly 36, I have decoded, mapped and staged.

IMG_5607Back from Jackie’s little school cruise down the Yulupa blocks. There was too much in my head in the way of wine and writing and the students, the Massamen novel, the final weeks of the term.. on the drive home, couldn’t concentrate on a thing, solely from the ideas, certain perceptive entertainments accosting me. Nearly ran a red, but here I am with the remainder of cup 2, left. Will try to take a picture every hour today, to capture my day’s moments should I not be able to scribble something, those notes I jot quickly, now more so just singular words and concepts/points for expansion (again, as I tell my students, 1A & B).. and I realize no wine writer’s like me, certainly no ‘wine blogger’, no hyperbolic glossy disingenuous rat of a somm’, that I know. But why take it in that direction.. they do what they do and I with my words and chapters and scattered Beat projects.

That quiet in the condo, that I experience occasionally, kindly confronts me, pushes me into these wine thoughts, the vinoLit approach to everything I sip.. just have to remember today: ‘dialogue’.. speaking, the wine speaking and what the sippers say in their momentary reactiveness. Can’t remember if I have to be at the vineyard at 10 or 1030 on Fridays.. I was given the option, just now, so I elect 10, or as close as I can come to it.. still have to get ready.. clock pushing and pressuring me.. but I don’t cower, I answer with more wording, more wine fantasy, more personification of my Merlot, and how it recited for me, to my ‘palate’ and senses all.. not sipping tonight, leaving rest for morrow’s eve, see how it fends off invading oxygen.. the writer provoking its intrepidity.

order no need stare
at vines and what they write so
i copy scribble


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Massamen Novel excerpt II (once proofed)

I returned to lecture writing but in a different vein and with different speed. I just binged, on words, and no music to accompany. I needed to be focused this morning if I ever wanted to see the world and free myself from all the bullshit– just yesterday, seeing that aged and worn adjunct woman at the other campus, probably early fifties and teaching six classes. I could tell she was unhappy and disgruntled but too exhausted to express it and that’s what brings me here.. to this morning and my cognition now. I’m swinging from the pendulum and I refuse to fall. If I fall then They win. Then I wonder, what kind of novel would this make? How long would it take to finish? And would anyone care? Do I have to write mainstream? And that blog I want to continue, what can I do with that? Al questions from someone like me, nearing late 30s and wondering what, what next and what how and what what, what with everything.

Have to be at the winery in a little over two hours, so I don’t have all the time in the world to think or overthink this. And if this is an inclass essay as I have students do, what’s my argument? What’s the centrality to this character sitting on this couch and collecting himself in paragraph, a paragraph stream? That I’m done. Fed up with the bullshit. The scams. And that’s what the adjunct echo is, and for Them.. 75% of all teachers at the college– well, you know. But let them win, I now think. Focus on this writing, of the lectures and this novel, if that’s what you want to call it. So what’s the novel about? Not adjuncting, not teaching, and not writing, but wine, winemaking, a former teacher starting his life over in his early 40s to pursue winemaking and everything about it. Have his own label and sell and travel with his own bottles; small production, maybe 5k, and not a bloody bottle more. And the wine would convey his new freedom and views on life and just to have fun, not let in the negative, the stress. Wine is supposed to be freeing, is it not? Today at work, take notes, on everything, from where the pens and pencils and markers are by the register to how the bottles are arranged on the counter to how the clouds look above the small Pinot vineyard of 3 clones.

I’d start building today, the future I want and the days I want and the ‘career’ I need to have for sanity. I thought yesterday, after seeing that disheveled and aged adjunct woman, “How much longer can I do this?” And, quite bluntly, “Is this fun?” Everyone expects me to teach and to follow what I went to school for, but as my grandmother told me right before she died, “It’s YOUR life…you have YOUR choice.” And here I am, with Grandma’s idea in my lap. And I choose to re-build. To build the writing and lecturing life– I lecture on these novels and books and shorts and whatever other form’s in the day’s plan.. why not my own book? Why not my own novel? And about something fun. Wine. Wine is fun. And as Susie Selby says (a winemaking friend of my sister’s): “Wine is Life.” So here I go into a new story.. but where to start. How ‘bout with today, with the hours ahead of me behind the bar and with those bottles. Opened a Pinot last night and it had nothing like the bottled life I pour in the Room. I have to consider wine as it’s own entity, yes, a bit independent of the sipper just as Literature is apart from its Creator, and reader, but if I don’t find it pleasing or coherent, or convincing, then what? I’ll figure it out. My character will figure it out.

I’ll write the novel in a series of short but punctuating sketches. And I’ll have wine and wine in the glass be the commanding image. Not the people sipping. The reaction, not so much. Just the image of the wine in the glass before it’s sipped. Many times, I feel, it’s the sipper who detracts from the omnipotence of wine with their reaction. “But wine’s meant to be sipped,” you’ll say. Yeah, I know. But like with Art, you have expression on a wall, someone’s life and effort, and Time which we all know to pass us heartlessly and evaporate before it’s splashed. But then we simplify it by speaking, by becoming self-indulgent, wanting to be seen as wine experts, or “connoisseurs”, or “aficionados”. Why the fluffy tag? Again, I’m overthinking, so I move on, onto the coffee.. don’t want to rise from this couch as it’ll break the binge, but I have to, it’s part of the story and whatever the story commands I do.

Now sipping my coffee, typing madly. Taking the Kerouac thoughts and initiatives from my lectures and having it push me forward, away from the other winery, my old wine life and into this new one with promise and my own projects and this new story. And I don’t need a PhD for this. I don’t even need my Master’s for this. And the schooling and everything I’ve studied, apparently just a sticker on my CV– and that ‘CV’, what does that do for me? There is no Adjunct War, and there won’t be, ever, only fun, joy, and exploration, me seeing the world like one of my students now who studies and works in India, on Public Health projects and some community management in that regard, as well, I believe. Amber, if I haven’t told you her name before, which maybe I have but I’m in such a whirl now I can barely summon past tellings. She, now with her Newness, living MADLY.. I need to start a word list, concepts that dominate me and my projects, and I’ll be about the world soon like Amber with my thoughts, lectures maybe, on wine, on Literature, on Writing, on Writing Literature wrapped and rapt in Wine. Imagine the union of my past world and this new one, I think. I imagine now, me, like Amber, in streets thousands of measures from this couch, from Livermore, seeing lightening in the sky knowing the clouds are speaking directly to me, lecturing, pushing me to mold further in my new madness. Crazy in my Story’s continuation, craving all elements and characters and dishes; scents, colors, contrasts, crosswalks, all of it.

Not looking at the clock as I usually do ‘cause I’m too busy enjoying this morning, like that morning weeks ago with the breakfast sandwich, where I knew something was different but not what, poignantly. Now it’s been asserted: enough. Done. No more waiting. Just taking. Just traveling. Seeing the entire world and writing about the travels a this New Adjunct, one speaking about Literature in his own octave, no papers to grade, just the Road, autonomy, writing, noting, no order only beauty and that’s my new Life recipe. “Wellness”, as a new writer friend I met in the tasting Room explores, blogs about. Phoebe, her name, based in NYC, younger than me, and living, truly living, no papers to grade, no scheduled classes, no rummaging for sections having to call into the department office at some ridiculous time and when you do you’re told to call back in five minutes, “They’re still with someone, Mike…”, goddamnit! No, Phoebe lives, establishes her own Wellness and writes what she wishes, has her focus, that she chose, like Amber. And here I am, nearing 36, exhausted, venomous, embittered and pugilistic. But I snap out of it this morning with my own spell. Coffee nearly gone so I need more, I have to keep with this morning’s binge. What are the other adjuncts doing, but driving to three campuses, like the lady yesterday, telling me she lectures at DVC, CSUEB, and a class one day a week at USF– which sounds prestigious, or accomplished, and I guess it is, but THEY know that, They know we’d think that! All that driving.. I’ve done it before but no more. Wonder what that section at USF is. Humanities-something, but what. I bet USF called her with this tone over phone waves, like “She’ll be so honored to get this one class,” or “I’m giving you the opportunity of a lifetime… you should be thankful.” I know one of those thoughts trampled in the caller’s head. And I bet is was some PHD or dept moldbrain in between classes, in their cozy fucking office. But, ha, I’m hip to the scam, and I’m done. No more. I’m headed to Paris, to India, to Africa, Spain, Ireland, New York….. The Moon if I want! That’s how free I am now, now that I see everything, and that I’m not at the old winery.

I just looked at the clock and I’m running out of clock ticks and tocks but I keep with it anyway, knowing I want my character to make only three wine types: SB, Syrah, and Cab. That’s it. And she, or he, I’m thinking SHE, will have a production strategy delivering not only story but the winemaker’s relationship with the grapes that come in. I one time talked to my sister about winemaking and superstition, and she said it’s not that uncommon, and it’s not silly. The winemaker, like the writer, has to have their comfort zone, and not avoid it but embrace, as that’s where you Create the genius works. And don’t doubt yourself: “If you doubt yourself you’ll never make wine,” K said. I interpreted this in a number of facets, now most immediately with my morning, this new morning and this novel idea and lecturing on Literature around the globe, and maybe a bit about my approach to wine. Newness, the Madness that will forever benefit my career and Life, my character and who I want to be. My ‘Mike-mirepoix’.

So today, when I sip, write down everything that comes to sight, senses, and be MAD with my consideration. Not simplistic! Be animated! Write a lecture for each wine! Why not? This can only build my intrigue and Life and get me closer to that Wellness. If I would have or were to chase the PHD, I’d be lowered, sickened, and even more degraded and devalued than I already am as an adjunct. So no. No, I’m forwarded in a new song, and ‘reborn’ isn’t the term I should have fostered but more so ‘supplemented’, as if by a food or a nutrient.. WELLNESS, as Phoebe writes. And the day is off, this new Me, this new story, this novel of what I’m to build from this first day. Should I blog about it, do a ‘Day 1, Day 2, Day 3’ thing? I don’t know. It may keep me on track. But I hate blogs. Maybe that should change, too. Yes, it does, starting now this morning right here on the couch I’m so frenzied in my typing that I have no time for punctuation and I’m beginning to wonder if I even need that THIRD cup.

Imagine complete Wellness, I am, I am, and the travels, taking pictures. I’ll bring my camera to the winery today, take pictures, and hopefully the clouds will burn off and more light will be let, but maybe the shade and cover will help with the images I catch– tangent I know but that’s what I’m thinking about: a photojournal, a photoblog, something to pocket every bit of the moment I can, and why not with words and images? That’s what wineries do, or try to do. The pictures aren’t bad but the prose, or “copy”, is always abhorrent, vehemently vile in all scales and chords. That won’t be me with my work, with what takes me to the travels, and to those hotels, rooms from which I write and wonder and entertain what the Story holds for me next. And this will be not a job, but, simply, Life. My life. No more jobs. Nothing more that doesn’t entail full, unfettered passion. This, now, my new way, and my new degree. What I see this morning and what I learned about my SELF holds immeasurably more value that any PhD. I won’t be her, between three campuses. I won’t be him, the tasting room director, or manager, or whatever they called him at the last winery, in my late 60s, miserable, and always having to order people around while I sit in my office popping pain pills. No… I’m alive, I’m a story, writing a story, watching a story itself write. So…

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