So this morning I leave for Santa Barbara with Alice and Jack– well, with Alice, where Jack gets a couple vacay days of his own at his Grandma Cathy’s.  Again woke last night narrating, focusing on my desk in our room, the dark portions then those even more obscured and opaque from light lack; the moon wasn’t as persistent last night as I usually see it.  But I couldn’t stop thinking and dictating what was around me, and I’m not sure why it couldn’t stop, or why I couldn’t stop it.  This morning, I found an email alert on the desktop of this bloody machine, from Crystal.  She sent me a memoir, or story [as she’s started to write more fiction, very short pieces, about her winemaking trials, pains, observations] about a broken barrel, one she broke herself at work, and how she felt shamed and guilty but not for that long; it was theirs, the winery’s, They, Them, who have her making wine one minute then planning marketing campaigns the next, when they have a division and distribution people for that.  The detail of that ‘bbl’, as she writes them on her pages, breaking, the wine on the warehouse floor, the sound, like a shot, or bomb, or collision of forklifts.  Only about 800 words, and there was no note introducing it, so I didn’t know what to do when I read it the first time, so I read it a second when downstairs next to Jack on the couch while he watched his Thomas and Friends episode.  Should I send her notes, thoughts, or just a phrase…  I mean, I have no critiques–  Then another note, just now as I write these wanderings: “Sorry for the random email, this was a story I wrote the other day, and yes, the barrel did break on my watch.  What I didn’t put into the story was how much I laughed and how thankful I was that it wasn’t one of my own at the crush pad in SF!  Anyway, any notes, thoughts, or feelings you want to share, it’d be appreciated professor!  Have a good day, and give that little guy a hug for me!” I write back, instantly, just after hearing a crash in the Thomas episode that I imagine rivals what she heard when the wood fell to that shiny warehouse floor.  “I enjoyed everything about your story, or narrative, especially the sight of the cracked barrel, those ‘uneven strokes of jaggedness reaching for the warehouse lights’, and the fleeing wine into the surprised drain’.  I think this may be one of my favorite pieces of yours, yet!  And I love how it’s under 850 words.  Well done!  Hope to see you soon!  -Mike”

Santa Barbara…  Should I bring the laptop?  No.  JK didn’t have one in that cabin, so no.  And I don’t want to hear my finger tips and nails hitting these keys, interfering and convoluting my appreciation of the waves, the voices of the people on the beach, or anything.  No tech, no elec’.  That’s my policy for this writer’s retreat.

note: more letters, write more letters, and write more pieces, standalones like Crystal..

Sent the materials to SSU Chair.  Need another cup of coffee, keep my momentum going till I reach SB.  That’s what I’ll have to do, and print what I started writing for my students, yesterday.  Already, in my narrative tidal waves, healthy for me, to keep writing.  Bringing those Kerouac letters with me, him with me, to SB.  That’s what this Me needs: my Beat by that ocean, in that new place, in that hotel Room.  Do I run today or tomorrow morning, or both?  Alice challenged herself with an 8-miler this morning.  Wonder how she’s doing.  She had doubts about her mission, “nervous,” she said, “I’m nervous about my run tomorrow,” she repeated around dinner.  I know, and knew, and still know she’ll do fine, more than fine, more than likely surprising herself.  I told her, or urged with love a bit tough: “Just enjoy your run, forget about the mileage.”

None of this writing will fall to disuse, none, not one page, so this first book, the 40-pager, will be easy to compile.  Can’t wait to get off the plane, walk around New York like Scott and Glenn always do.  How did they do it?  And Dav, with his missions, around the globe pocketing those colorful and motioned and haunting stills of life around us… Crystal with her sales trips and winemaking expeditions, and even Bob with his infrequent conferences…  Has me thinking like I have a gamble before me, and I’m behind, and I need to bet big to catch up.