pages and pages …

img_4946In this office quiet, with now NO sounds but the pushes of these laptop keys, I see the day that takes stage in just under 30 minutes for me, everyone I’m working with.  Counting today, 4 days left in this industry.  FOUR.  Can’t believe it.  What brought me in?  I remember in ’06, just wanting to make a couple extra bucks in a tasting room, I saw literary qualities in what I poured at St. Francis, and started blogging about wine and writing about what I tasted in some poetic and theatrically narrative form, I guess.  But how did I get sucked in?  To wineries like the other Sonoma Valley spot (May 2012-Jan. 2015), the Dry Creek fiasco before that (end ’10-March 2011), and too many more to count.  Guy I work with now I think has been at more wineries than me.  Didn’t think that was possible.  And whether he has or hasn’t doesn’t bloody matter.  It’s indicative of the industry, not him, not me, not anybody.  It’s the atmosphere, the anatomy of wine’s industry and “business”.  What kind of business is so indifferent and eager to let people leave?  I don’t get it, to quote my father, talking to him right after my son was born about how a winery wanted to hire me but refused to meet my wage demands which were anything but painful or unreasonable, and offered no benefits package.  He and I both said, “What’s the motivation for working for a place that does that?  And, in the negotiating parcel of the relationship?” Still don’t have an answer for this one.

Was reading up on Anthony Bourdain the other day, and learned that he wrote some book, a tell-all I guess you could say, about restaurant life.  Do I want to do the same with wine’s industry?  I think so then I back off then I don’t know, and do I want to give them that much of my creative life?  Then another side of my senses set say YES.  Take it all back, all the 12 years you gave to those drones and clones.  Do I start now, and work backward?  Do I start with that first day at St. Francis?  OR, do I start with my first winery memory, driving up that cliffside in Cupertino with Mom and Dad to get their Ridge futures?  Well, I’ll start here, now.  No?  Isn’t hat the most logical approach?  Knowledge in what I’ve seen and lived, heard and felt, feared and overcome since ’06….  Pouring wine, for the first time, just giving the obvious.. something like “Here’s our whatever-vintage Sauvignon Blanc… it has notes of melon, kiwi, honeysuckle, and whatever the fuck…” I don’t talk about wine that way now, of course, just listing “wikipedia descriptors” as I call them.  I go further…. But I don’t want to talk about that.  I will explore what I’ve learned from, in, this “business”.  One blaring bulb of sagacity, all the reasons why you should stay out, and away from it.  Be into wine, don’t be in the industry.  That industry, BUSINESS, has taught me that this is not where you want to be.  12 years of shapely proof and thesis support to put to page…

Interesting start to

img_3408this morning, thinking I had to be at a meeting at 0830 only to learn I didn’t have to be there at all.  Which serves as a boost and a boon, giving me time to write right across the street at the winery where I’m based.  Retiring… my first taste of retirement, from the wine industry, its slow-moving and barely-communicative facets.  No more tasting room, no more pouring for other people.  I will miss the words, though.  What people say about wine and how they say it, with that tone to their voice.  Like I wrote a while ago, I’m closer to wine and even its industry by writing about it, and leaving physically.

Retiring… to focus on teaching and generating ideas with student, philosophy and pedagogy, writing practice and journal habits… and business, and fusing my literary life and presence into the business world.  Writing and blogging and holding observations in esteem, as they build character, Personhood.

Yesterday leaving the winery early to write.  That’s always my first impulse and inner-shove when I have free time.  Write.  Why then lately has writing given me such a shake, been such a challenge and near painful to catalyze?  Have to write though it, I guess.  As I always say to students and write in my entries.

Going through past entries, where I was stressed about something in the wine industry, or in life, or with teaching, with something.  Find it interesting.  How from day to day we’re all the same character but there’s some sharpened corner, refined angle, or damaged dimension somehow.  I’m learning more, while aging.  That’s certain.  Even now, with no music on as I usually have, I only hear the building’s natural sounds.  I think a little wind from the other side of the wall, outside by trees, and the winery’s tanks and, or, pumps on the crush pad doing something, dinging and whooshing, making some released air clunk-sound.  I’ll share some of this with those registered for the classes I’m to teach this term, and some notes I’ll just leave here on the blog, or in a drawer, in the Burgundy journal.  Only two days away, when I see students for the first time in months, having taken off the summer.  Glad I did, as it taught me that I need a drastic momentum shift.  Something New.  A renewed ME, new story and pages, a BOOK.

No meeting, but I meet with myself.  With this page.  Just felt a chill, a bluster of terror that I couldn’t write anymore.  That either I forgot or I’ve lost some intrigue or interest in and with the act itself, or something.  But it’s not true.  It’s not me, not the present… nothing of what you’d see in me right here typing in someone’s cubicle.  Not sure if she works here, anymore.  Work… what we live for.  What I feel I only do.  So why not have it be not just something you love or are passionate about, but plainly who you are.  You’re a winemaker… you’re a writer… you’re a teacher… you’re a doctor.  Yes, it’s your job, but it’s YOU.  You own it, you own you… you own your onus.  Have a meeting with yourself, see what transpires.  Write it down.

Following my own instruction, I write it.  “I. AM. A. WRITER.” Learning more about me and why I am where I am, what I’m doing.  Letting the immediate scene and observational pattern teach me as to what next do.


inward jot

0c7912a9-f190-4f4f-8b7b-b781b33bc8ab-6321-000003e349dc6a68_fileIn office with one other person.  Tour earlier, first thing in day… 10 people from Florida.  All of them antagonizing my love of wine, again.  But, no changing what’s in motion currently.  The new chapter for me with this new assignment.  New stories, characters, places and placement.

Thinking of short fiction directions, but not sure about any of them.  I know as a writer I haven’t the time for any more stalling.  So I note on Kelly, her first days in the wine industry, her observations…. Someone either just left or came into the office.  Both, actually.  Bored, feeling now.  How to liven the day… take the rest of the day?  Off?  Write some more in Healdsburg?  Seems to be the consistency with me, lately.  Fiction… fictionalizing…. Stories from Kelly and going from San Francisco to wine country, not knowing much about wine other than she enjoys it, knows a couple varietals, regions.  That’s what she works with—  OR, do I go non-fiction.  Use ME, Mike Madigan in tasting rooms over 12-year stretch, seeing more of an industry and a side to human dynamics and dimension, principally, that I EVER thought I’d experience.  Was more than seeing.  It was living, learning, and being showed what is and isn’t for me.  OR….. do I incorporate that into Kelly’s character progression and development.  A writer, in crosshairs, at a certain crossroad, crossroads…. Contemplative intersection.  Just DO.  Stop thinking… goddamnit… how many times….

Little over 18 minutes left in “lunch”, which of course I forgot to bring, and now chew gum to make self forget about eating, having some sandwich from down-the-street deli.  I think about how I spoke the wines to the Floridians, and how kind and attentive they were, how enjoyable.  No contests, no challenges or inadvertent heckles, just conversation.  Humanness.  What wine should be but the industry strips wine of that, insistently.

This cubicle, giving me anxiety.  Luckily, I can leave.  Go back to the tasting room and … And, what?  What will I do?  Maybe I should go to H-burg, write at.. where?  The Bear?  Oakville?  Duke’s?  Or, what is it, Flying Goat?  Coffee spot.  Not much a fan of their coffee but do take to the decor and atmosphere of the café itself.  Want to be in Hemingway mode, writing on a street.  Writing, not typing.  I’ll type later.  Wake up early and chip away at book, either Kelly’s or mine.  May need to get to know her better, my character, Ms. Kelly with her art and studio littered and arranged with her own illustrations.  Or.. just start with me. Not a tell-all as some do, but something like that I guess, a book that highlights wine’s industry’s flaws and appeals, illusions and delusions, charm and character, and toxic repetitions.  But then I think, do I want to devote a whole manuscript to them? No.  And it wouldn’t be FOR them.  It’d be for me.  To be further free.  To be closer to people like the Floridians than the execs and upper-management boils in their limp, moldy, vomitous ivory towers.


…why I need coffee in the morning, why it helps the writing and wine doesn’t, why Mom bought me this journal while in Burgundy (obviously I know, she loves me, thought of me on her trip), why I am where I am, doing what I’m doing…. How I came to teach, came to be in wine’s industry.

MY substance, knowledge.  Thinking of all the talks Dad and I have had, over all these years, and where I’m going with them, what they’ve taught me.  More and more, I see myself as an autonomous force, in tireless exploration and appreciation of the setting, immediately where I am and what I’ll do with the day.

Thinking of my graduate school classes, all the theory, thought, discussions I had with the professors and colleagues… more notes in that journal Mom bought.  “Fly, smile.” I wrote… 

img_7127After passing 3000 words for day, I only want more.  I want to finish my goddamn book.  Get to my beach house, write more.. more… MORE.  Publish everything independently and …. Stopping.  See what I’m doing, with my wishlisting—

Jackie in 1st Grade now, and me just getting older and wishing.  Starting new assignment, new story and creative direction in 9 days.  Don’t sleep, I self-instruct and decree.  Be more mad with your writings, more passion-purposed and wandering.  That’s the only way to discover gems.  I’ve told my students this for years, and have never followed the speaker’s specs.

I keep writing, thinking only of the book..books, everything I’ve ever written, what I wrote 5 years ago on blog—  I look, and addresses of money tightness, needing coffee, no-wine nights…. I think to myself, “Has nothing fucking changed?” I’m changing it, by leaving the bloody industry and its all-too gawked-at poisons.  Then I read about flash fiction, short fiction, something Mom has essentially demanded I do, for YEARS.  So I still have more writing to do, do note.  A short fiction piece, probably on Kelly, later.

For now… Do something.  Keep moving.  Quiet in house.  Advantage in such, a tranquil intangible shape and voice coats my senses, all.

This Morning, 5 Days Before Semester

…and I’m just writing till I stumble upon some idea.  Writing now becomes difficult for me, stressful and something I don’t look forward to doing as I used to.  Why?  Getting old?  Financial stresses?  Either way I end it, or try to, tell myself I’m going o by writing.  Coffee, no mocha.  Watching all expenses, every single penny that leaves me.  Today is my first day, like my son’s, wife’s at her school with her new class.  I’m starting everything over, today.  Writing, my wine life which I will tremendously diminish and de-emphasize.  Opened a bottle last night from friend’s winery, a Dolcetto and was not in any way moved or inspired to write about the wine as I used to.  So I re-focus on my first day of the new semester, five days from now… writing lecture ideas, and vowing to self that by Dec. ’18, the term’s last day, that everything will be elevated.  That all stresses will be gone, financial or otherwise, and that I’ll see self more clearly.

Photo on 2-21-18 at 3.16 PM

Started syllabi, finally.  Planning on every meeting, every “lecture” if you want to call it that, to be a reading from me, a performance somewhat. 


Starting the day

waiting on some appointment. While here, I figure write. Why not. Haven’t hit 3000 words in a while and I know that I have to write every chance I get if I’m to make that kind of progress, but that mark. Tired of thinking, tired of promissory statements to self and to readers of this blog. So I just act, start seriously on the Kelly novel. While getting ready this morning I thought about her, her last day in the ad office in the Marina, her drive back up to her new apartment in Santa Rosa, what she must be thinking, before her first day in the wine industry. She doesn’t know what to anticipate, if she should be nervous or not…

Tired of writing the same thing, and that’s what I feel I’ve been doing. I write where I am, what I’m doing, but that often is much of a repeat. So what do I do but go outside myself. To someone else. Another character. Writing has always just been something I’ve done with not much anxiety or holdup. But lately I’ve been held up. Why. Bored. I guess, no? Bored with the same workday, the same drive, the same sameness of everything around me. Thank the Craft for this new job, new office, new best, new people. Even this office is something to write … me merely here for some physical or something for my new role, but others here for something more pressing, serious or even threatening. Reminds me of how delicate this all is. How fragile I am, my life is. Someone’s name called, but not mine. Goddamnit– Wait though, what am I worried about? My last day in the wine industry is in 9 day’s. NINE. If they fired me, lovely. That’d be something to write.. something new.

Pinot last night, Failla. Didn’t do much to me, really. Surely didn’t inspire me to write about it. It was just another wine. Now I’m certain, more than I was before, that the wine industry and world, possibly even wine itself to some extent, and I need break. I think of my babies and how they see me, how I want them to see me. Last time they visited me in that bloody tasting room I cringed, felt momentous lay embarrassed and queer, them seeing me pour and having to ask that new twigg-twit if I could spend a little time with them. Well that’s fine. And I’m DONE. And never going back. This new “job” will be my last ever. Same feeling as going into your senior year of high school.

Ugh…. when will they call my name? Hate waiting. In a waiting room. Not where I want to be. But I’m here. May as well make use of the writer’s time and write. Right? Another name called. Guy two seats down from me. Will surely be late to winery. Oh well. Relieved I can afford that feeling. And I can. Last step in this whole pre-first day around-tower circle.


NO! Mike!