And be honest.
11/20/17. Woke this morning to alarm and went to gym, finishing with 6.34 miles and disbanding 743.7 calories. Think those were the final totals but I can’t be sure. And this morning, Monday, motivated by the prospect of new wines to taste and write about— last night my brother Chris’ 2014 Russian River Pinot, on his mother’s label. The wine went right into its recital, she speaking in newly known philosophies and rhymes, everything from the rounded berry speak to the layered terrestrial and pepper-thrown dialects. The wine had its own language and perspective about herself, telling me to explore more, and not just Pinot. To write more wildly about wine and to not see any blocks— disarm them, these perceived stops, of their meaning and significance. She more to me spoke, ordering more literature, more readings, more of my own writing and to throw myself into the musical hues of wine— the jazz, the spoken word— the percussion and euphonious atmospheres in each pour and sip, bottle and vintage.
I’ll give the wine its own five hundred or so words at some point, but I need to be in this moment here, in the cubicle cloud, with the coffee I took from the hotel, poured into black tumbler. Giving self about 35 minutes more to my sitting. Behind on book progress, but I think not about that now. Seeing myself as a Romeo to wine writing, to wine— my highest of loves in this particular breath set. Today, focusing on reds, and drawing ideas for sales of reds, on both distributed labels and DTC/wine club offerings. Wine… my Juliet… she’s always there for me, in vineyard form and from pour to assure me of which way to go, and how to answer that goddamn annoying inquiry ‘what do you write about’. I write her. I follow her. In everything she does. Vines now changing their colors forcing me and others to stop on Chalk Hill Road and in other AVA’s to take a picture, capture it, capture it all…. And why not. You’re here once, wine reminds us. As a winemaker, you get, what at most… 40-something vintages, maybe. Oui? So I’m doing what I said I’d do…. Write wildly. Get back to France. Like my blogger ami the other day wrote, “…at a certain point it’s time to do it.” I’m doing— writing— wine calling me from all sides and tells, pulses and metaphysical measures.
The crush pad bombinates, on the other side of the wall left. I have to see more than just what’s on the other side of the wall and now I notice I’m doing what I said I wouldn’t do in this sitting— wishlisting. No more promissory notes. So… I’ll start with the Pinots, today, in the same key as what Chris last night me gifted. Re-reading my notes on his bottle… “profuse and gentle helix of texture and sense; light leather and floral luminosity; iambs and dactyls, poetic steps in all clefs, into my perspective her voice voraciously etched—“ I follow with what he set, to Pinots…. May even open the Sonoma Coast ’14. So that’d be 3… or then I can pop the Chalone, so 4.. why not? I’m opening the Pinots not to be one of those varietally driven, annoying consumer, but to see the several songs Pinot is capable of singing, sewing in my senses.
09:05…. Notes from yesterday on this one guest, who had a comment about everything, about the Chardonnay from Carneros and how she KNEW it was from Carneros…. “I knew it, see, I can tell a Carneros Chardonnay, any day.” She said. “Cool.” I said. “What tells you it’s from Carneros?” I responded, very gently and as if I genuinely wanted to hear her explanation which I did not. “Just the feel of it, you know? All the flavors… you know this is Carneros when you sip it.” She concluded, sniffing it more as if all eyes were on her. Her husband’s were, for sure, as he barely said a thing and followed all her orating, but my lenses and senses, sensibilities were into another Chardonnay from Santa Rita Hills.
This novel writing month, I’m following wine, all aspects of the business from the corkscrews to the corks, to the foil (and I fucking hate foil, with all parcels of my inner-rattler, its venom), the counters and how we have to wipe them down I don’t know how many times during the day— counting the cash (which I have to do this Friday), inventory (don’t forget to order the ’15 Sonoma Coast Pinot and ’15 RRV as well), to the glasses we have to infinitely wash… then the wine. The wine, wines, wine showing my character that everything is wine— What situates in the glass embodies all that can be embodies and straddles Philosophy, Psychology, Fitness, Wellness, Metaphysics, Mathematics (speaking of which, had a dream last night that I was back in school and missed a Math midterm ‘from being out tasting wine with my buddy, Robert, Master Somm’ for Foley, later finding out I was failing the class but I didn’t care as I scored a torrent of new bottles, all free, to write about and review if I wanted)…. Language, Poetry, Theatre… LIFE. This is all wine. This coffee is wine, if you must know.
It gives the wine writer fuel he can pin in any other tangibility. It helps bee garage the page and stay focused and anchored to wine’s hold. She’s everywhere, right now, around me, speaking and singing again, tirelessly like she has nothing else to do but be there for me and ensure I keep writing, finally finish this goddamn book.
09:15. How did ten minutes pass like that? All day, only eight hours, if that, will be noting on wines… collection of my own descriptions. Some will be silly, of course, ‘cause that’s just fun to do, and others informative, and others just what comes to the penman’s cognition. I’ll remain, and not just for this book, an agog denizen in wine’s stretch. The wine last night, reciting— “Cherry code, varied notes, pulsing in dimension and unknowns— darkest of gothic chocolate sets abet a more venerated and self-effectuated charisma; no dilemma, only assurance, no burdens…” Everyone calls Pinot ‘poetic’. But to writers comme moi, it’s different. It’s heard, it’s felt, you’re coerced to your own verse.
A thousand before we open? I’ll see. I’ll try. Walk in an a little cold, thinking about the closer we get to holidays the atmosphere and feel on Chalk Hill changes.. Got here as early as I did of course to write but as well just enjoy quiet. Enjoy no one being here but me. This room, mine. The dark production area with all the tanks and tubes, barrels and barrel racks, tracks on the ground and drains, everything, mine for observation. I’m going to reach 50,000 by month-end and finish this book of letters and wined notes and NTS’, and who knows what it’ll say. Technically behind schedule on book, but I’m learning that you have only so much control, and how much control, “control”, you have is only perception. And another thought that pummel me on my drive up here, right about when going under the Airport overpass, is ‘impossible’. And I thought of this from reading an article where organic reach on social media and for writers like me using blogs is now being made by companies to be nearly impossible, it said. Well, “impossible” is perceptive. It’s an adjective, therefore a word used for judgement, or assessment. And that too, assessment and judgement are definitively subjective. I don’t have to agree. And I won’t. I don’t. I’m in control of what I do so I negate my early intonations on ‘control’, I guess a bit. But either way I’m going to do what I do and that’s write about wine like a newer Mike Madigan, from one day to next, from this day to its morrow.
Before we open… oh this quiet. Remember it. Love it and learn from it. More wine finds a permanency in my prose and poems, the faster I want to move, almost to combat wine and show it and the vines where the bottles came from that I develop with just as much character and dynamic. I want, too, be more a fan of me, but I have to work at that. If you’re a writer, or student in my class, or anyone with any kind of Craft, work at being more of a fan of your own creations. This will yield results that you never thought of for yourself. Don’t try…. Forget trying and just actuate. Create. Tell your story. All these wineries are merely stories. Some more interesting than others, yes, but stories with their own audiences intended and unintended. Same for any business, really. Family-owned or even the corporations… they all have narrative, some identity to be interpreted by would-be consumers.
What wine will cause the most reaction in visitors today? I always wonder that… which one will be “the star”? I’m a student, of everyone coming into the Room, no matter what flight they elect. Sometimes I think I know quite a bit then after talking to someone who works at another winery either in hospitality or production I’ll be novice-y. Which, to be direct, enlivens me. The more I feel a student the more energized and excited I am. About anything. Any lesson in life that I’ve pocketed and would want to share, is just that— Always be a student. That’s why I have to laugh at my Master’s Degree. I’m not any type, shape, phylum or genus of “master” or “expert” with writing, teaching, reading…. I don’t want to be. I want to enjoy my studies as I enjoy the quiet of this room.
Just had an idea…. Tough to get anything done in that hotel, but it’s what I have. I can’t escape, and not like I’m trying to flee but it’s my, our, current space and unavoidable. So…. Get to work early, write, and stay after for an additional thousand words. Will have to if I’m to finish book by month’s end. I’m going to get guerrilla, special-ops, insurgent, ninja-like with my wine journalism, writing, blogging…. Maybe even escaping to the restroom to post a note to blog and then later rack it back to book, as I did several times when working at Dutcher Crossing. And here I have more. Chance to do so, with the production area restroom.
So… “students”….. Whatever chance you have to get something done, get you closer to your vision, to your There, DO IT. Sometimes you can plan, but more often than, you’ll be an in-the-moment actualizer. What I’m doing now. Well, this was a bit planned, but…
I refuse to accept any kind of “impossible”. That’s utter buffoonery. Not me. What’s here, all around the writer now is a precious layer of visual and motioned poetry. Nothing but forward in my now and later hours. Everything caught, documented, written and learned from. Promise to self, you, and you need do the like for YOU. Why even fiddle in thoughts that are even slightly antithetical to your Story, when you want for you. I’m not talking about dreams and “dreaming big”. I’m citing just putting a mentality in your head. Right now. That you’re there, you’re going too be there, whatever you see for yourself…. Blogger, doctor, professor, lawyer, store owner, artist, winemaker, winery owner, CEO. Anything and everything. Right now, put yourself in a savory quake of acceptance. You’re going to do it. Anyone saying it’s impossible obviously doesn’t know the full anatomy of that word, and surely doesn’t know you. Not like you know YOU.
08:54…. Should go get some pictures of that Sauvignon Blanc block. Or should I just stay here, write, about the day and the wines and this winery I’m presently managing. All the “jobs” I’ve had in my story, in the wine industry and out, this provides the most story… the most words and visuals, the most forward to my There. I will be at 2,500 words for day. The winery will make sure of it. I will help, I guess by writing, but the winery will get me there— with this side room with the polished tree half that was hit by lightening in ’12, split into however many pieces… the dark production area, left, with the tanks making those deep grumble sounds that will at times startle me and disrupt the paragraph… the wines themselves and the reactions, what people say, how they describe them… lady yesterday saying the ’11 Napa Valley had “notes of chocolate asphalt and Heath”, as in the candy bar. I was by myself in the room but I looked for someone for some eye contact, ‘cause the first thing I thought was, “Should I ask her to say that again? Would it be weird if I wrote that down?” Well, I just did. Or typed it directly into my ‘Wine I’m Here’ pages.
Not used to this. Closing chapter at 20:16. But here I am. 3 babies in room. Not resisting or indignant with a single slice of my Now. And that’s about it. Hope I wake early to work out… exercise downstairs somehow. I do see the story in place set for my benefit… won’t lie… a famous feeling. Saving this draft– returning early, so early tomorrow it’ll even me shock.. Ignoring the last few hours and rewinding. Running, don’t have the right socks but what the fuck does a real writer care– nothing. Not at all. I have the opp’ to fall asleep so early that I’ll wake up so early I’ll get done everything I wish. This is like a dream domain and demand. So I answer.
I’ll tell you. Hotel room writing. I quite like it. And I don’t know when the next time I’ll have a session like this. When the babies get here, I’ll be leaving in the morning to take one of them to school, then to work. So this first morning writing I swallow whole. OH… I’ll be able to write like this a bit after Thanksgiving, when Alice stays in Sonoma with her sister and nieces, parents for a bit. The whole room to myself now. That’s what I’m focusing on. Now. MY Now. Here I am, Friday morning with a view of a glowing pool behind me. My story is Education. Learning. I’m learning more about myself this morning than I maybe did in all graduate school. And it’s musical, and Kerouac said music is the ONLY truth. So I write from the furthest stretch of my thinking, from when I first started taking myself seriously as a writer, when in high school, right after that shit happened to me. I’m here, I’m alive, so I write… write about writing, learning, how others learn, how I learn, the act of education and being educated— Be it in wine or lit’ or any whatever. This room, this second floor hotel room is a classroom. The most invaluable of classrooms. How many others have stayed here? What did they say? Why were they here? For the casino, or to see proximal relatives? What did they see, learn while here?
The human contour fascinates and emboldens me, this morning. Why.. ‘cause none of it is definite, and it’s barely defined, or concrete, final.. the randomness makes it ravishing. And to be curt— wine did this. Wine has shown me that humanity is a deliciously ambiguous and nebulous tangibility that we’re meant to learn from. My letters now, and I’m measuring for my life’s forward and surplus, to be predicated upon and necessitated in this daily sagacity, the pedagogy of each hour. Education. Learning. Each word I type, write, entertain, muse, gander, anything, will be with students in mind. Myself, in mind. As I AM the forever-matriculant of this world, universe, Humanity and all angles there in and of.
Wine too has taught me that there’s no reason to be anything other than obnoxiously elated in each morning, with each day. NONE. Stresses precipitate, sure, but they shouldn’t consume you. They shouldn’t have the power to juggle your joy. First four words in today’s page, “Education… Learning… Smile… Now”. Then I stop to look around, look around the room and know my babies will be here with wife and I tonight. Can’t wait to see them both. I love this quiet, but what it teaches me is that as much as I wish for quiet I can’t get enough of their noise. Their running around and taunting each other, the way Jackie shares his most recent knowledge and understanding of something as simple as rain, like how he lectured me for nearly five minutes driving him to school the other day that it only rains and gets cold in winter. And little Emma, Ms. Austen, how she points to herself and always wants to be included in conversations, wants what little Kerouac has, and says, “mo’… mo’…?”
All my favorite wineries entail some address of family, family life and family dreams coming to fruitful fruition and that family sharing their success story. Family…. Like my visit to Calluna last week, with David telling me about his wife and three kids, how they got there and how they found the property and planted the vineyard, their first vintage, the reception of his wines, etc. Wine also teaches me to trust myself, to trust that what I’m doing is right and the best thing for my family. Wine has always equated to family, for me. One of the primary pillars of reasoning for why I’m in “the industry”. Looking to one day have what David has… my vines, my little tasting room, my label and story of how I got there— behind the bar pouring my own timeline.
Tempted to go downstairs and see the breakfast setup. Should I? Or should I, do I, just stay here, keep writing? I’m thinking about it too much, I know. And part of me doesn’t want to leave this hotel room… how many times have I fantasized about just THIS— writing in a hotel room with work the next day? Well, in that vision I’m giving a talk on writing, or literature, or something to do with wine, or something to do with education… but this is a tease of that vision. An encouraging note from the Story itself, that I’m close.
We’re so much closer to our ideal circumstances set than we realize. We just have to be tireless. We can’t pause, we can’t halt, we can’t think too much. We just have to ACTUATE. Keep going— Do more than simply “keep going”. Light your world on fire. Create like you have only an hour to do so. Have a conversation with yourself, how you plan on getting “there”. To your There. I’m having that conversation right now, this morning, in this hotel room with my coffee cup empty. Quelle? Comment est-ce arrivé? (What? How did that happen?). Need more. But do I get up. What does the Story want? Vines don’t think about growing, they just grow. And they don’t whine in the presence of too much sun, heat, or if it rains right before the clusters are cut. They grow. They create. So “Stay put. Work.” I self-instruct. Learning this morning that I’m here, my There. Just a couple things that need adjustment. But I’m at where I need to be, with everything I need in my idyllic role. Which is…. Writer. Educator. Writer again… lecturer. Je ne sais pas. But I enjoy what I sense, this morrow.
Breakfast. Downstairs, calling. Maybe I should at least take a look, see, experience. Maybe I’ll learn something on the way, and then when there.
All unpacked. This is exciting and odd, excitingly odd with concurrent flashes of education. I sip what’s left of the Calluna blend and continue with the day, here quiet to me— and I think to myself, “Well, you’ve always wanted to write in a hotel room, on a trip, well here you go.” Laughing to myself and needing music in this odd, unfamiliar room. Falling behind on book progress but the decline in pace isn’t terminal like last year’s attempt at a book. This is so many letters. To me and to students and to everyone and everything around me, that I accept it all and don’t resist a thing.
The wine tells me to put on some Hutcherson, or Coltrane, to relax and not think about a thing…. This is not for you, but for your kids, for your students. You work for them, just know. Getting a little hungry and wonder when the bar downstairs opens. I remember they said 17:00 (they just said “five o’clock”, but that’s how I in head noted). Irrelevant, incongruous, my overthought. So I persist pervasively in this strange room. If I were on an overnight, here, or say I’m somewhere like New York or Miami, Texas or Portland, what would I be speaking on, tomorrow? Well, writing I guess. And how what you write is more of a statement than what’s on the page. It’s more than a statement of and on you, your like. You’re tossing a significant thought stone into the collective brook. It will ripple. You should be mindful of the ebb and ricochet of your offerings. Writing, reading others’ writings as well, has alway presented a bewildering intensity of intimacy to me. So I always offer to students, “Don’t think, just write.” I admit. But know yourself before you start typing, or start penning.
Finally, with some Coltrane. “Equinox”. I’m on the Road, literally. Or I was, on the way back here after retrieving some particulars from the Autumn Walk Studio. But I’m not going to overwhelm you nor I with why I’m here in the room. I’m activating my son’s mentality, of this being an adventure… being excited to be here. I’m here because of a disaster and that hour I now re-mold into a manuscript, this month’s/year’s novel. A letter to me, you, the students, and everyone around me… the tidal wave of perception doesn’t halt and neither will the writer. The Calluna deceives me in its gentle landing and traffic. The prospective pathos forwarding me in a tiered and tireless rhythm of Me. This new writer, this new student, and I guess Educator. What I’m learning from this, more than perspective, more than managing my attitude, mood, but opening my eyes…. Looking. Understanding the scenic ingredient and calculating my composition. You want to write? Yes, just start. But, know why you want to write. I was recently told, “The ‘why’ doesn’t matter. The ‘what’ does.” This remark had to deal with winery inventory, so the speaker was actually I guess correct. But in the literary world, my world, my educating efforts, in the lectures and letters I’m about to offer the planet, the WHY is the functionality, what breathes, what circulates blood in the idea. The what proves ancillary.
Tonight, while writing, or reading, take notice of where you do so. “Location as character.” As I used to offer in class, more often. Where I am.. this hotel room. This hotel. Never been here before. Never seen this building from the outside before, I don’t think, let alone its guts, or this room. My view… a pool, a hot tub, parking lot, casino across the street. Love the room you’re in, even if it’s a dentist office, or cubicle, or waiting room, if you’re waiting for your car to be serviced. This hotel room is like a place of worship for the writer…. Regret missing class today, and very much wish the day didn’t dictate as it did with it integral complicit contingencies and volume of steps in my house, people I didn’t know. But it was there. THEY, were there. Didn’t want Alice alone. So I stayed, called both sections, and am here now in a hotel with the sun running away and this seat, this jazz, this wine, and quiet. No air cleaners, or people ripping tape off anything, people talking to each other about something I have no fucking clue what— Relax. This is the day, and the day is done and this quarter is my Now, mon espace.
Can’t believe I’m here. Singular word for me, now, in this Now…. ‘Everything’. I’m taking everything. Everything used for the story— Was just interrupted by a business call, someone tapping me for creative input for his friends’ label. I’m flattered and inspired by the call, but as well a bit irked I was taken from my sitting. Mr. Coltrane speaking to me through randomized note tangential. Know the bar’s open downstairs, but I don’t want to hear any voices, not even my own. No noise, just this room, this room, MY room. Or at least at the moment. The room tells me to stop writing, enjoy the view. Then I respond, “The view is of bloody Rohnert Park.” It says nothing back. Which means the writer/teacher/displaced daddy has to cull his next command.
Not really unpacked. All the bags are here and I haven’t touched them since I put them all here, there, on the bed and floor and the room me makes anxious when I look up. Empty glass, full thoughts, new notes, and this table makes a funny sound when I type now, without any justification since I plugged in laptop to wall outlet. New Room, hotel… want to go for a walk, observe and capture all that I can. Could go to bar and write what I hear people say. Not have anything to drink, but merely sit, scope, scribble. What’s left in the session, time-wise? Not sure. The pool behind me glows, that cinematic blue-green-white. I have no idea what to make of it but I’d love to jump in, swim while it rains or drizzles. Walking away and jumping into the pool could be MY statement, in this writing.