20 days till 38. I sit in this adjunct office after having coffee splash out of the tumbler, onto desk and hands, walked to kitchen in mail room to get paper towels then back in here to clean up. Didn’t get through student papers, but nearly organized and done with the grading part of my life. 07:06, thinking about how I want the day to go. Reading tonight… writing. Should get some decaf to brew at home for my night sessions. Want to reconnect with a couple books before Summer Semester starts. Which reminds me, I need to order my books for Summer. Stay organized, bla bla bla…. Same entry over and over. So I do something different. I will hit 3 pages today. I have to. About what?— That fucking question, “What do you write about?” Or, “What do you write?” But it’s a good question, what will I write about today? What if I only let myself write about wine? I can write about whatever, but somehow connect it to wine. Piece I wrote yesterday rejecting the whole ‘Wine Writer’ tag. Why reject it? Why not embrace it? The dimensions of these student papers, and the little quirks and codes and intricacies… just like a good or bad bottle. And why just ‘good’, ‘bad’? Wine, like writing, is far beyond simple and convenient one-word assessments, or taste comparisons, or cozy adjectives. Getting closer to 38, and to knowing this writer— how work, works, goals, nearing travels, past, present in the teacher role…. He knows wine is here to teach us, him, me… us him we.
Should go to class…. May let them go, so they can have drafts ready for Thursday. 07:16… walking.
Quick meeting with class, and I’m back in the adjunct cell. Oddly zen, this morning. A wine corollary, not sure. Like walking through the vineyard at lunch like I always do, or sipping some white on a beach, early afternoon. Precisely what I’m feeling. Thoughts of my book on wine and how wine is a small but significant factor.. everything wine and even its quirky masquerade of an industry has taught me, what to do and what not to do… all the jobs I’ve had; What I shouldn’t have done, what I should have… all part of the composition writing this composition, this quasi-composed character. ‘Nother sip of coffee, hear the vent somewhere in the building push out air, like a soothing white noise type that motivates me strangely. I keep writing, a book or not a book. Am I more focused on the process or the result? Winemakers with their wine, growers with their vineyards, sales people with their portfolios— we all have our stories, wine has shown me, especially recently. My age is irrelevant. Well, sort of. I’m mindful of it but I refuse to let it determine who I am and how smart I am and what I’m going to do with these pages.
This office, teaching me that it’s not a cell. And I’ve been calling it such for years. Now I feel bad. Feel a sneeze coming on but I fight it off and reconnect with my stationing here at this desk. Still see stains from earlier coffee splash— everything is harnessed to me, my moments, the moments that haven’t yet precipitated. All is collected. Giving Self 20 minutes left to write, meditate on this page, the first of the day’s three, and I refuse to stop. Told students this morning that “Creativity and Conversation solve everything.” And yes, this is something I would say I “taught”. Usually, I’ll say I just exchange ideas in the classroom, that I don’t really “teach” anything. But this morning, and every so often, I do. I as well urged few students who expressed exhaustion and “insecurity”, as one student put it, to use your life and recent experiences as catapult for thought, for building a piece of writing. Or building anything. There’s no reason to stop, or to feel blocked or insecure. “Be that animal student,” I told one girl after class, expressing fatigue and a sort of confusion with all she has going on.
After this, a drive to Alexander Valley, to my new assignment. Hoping I will learn more about the true story of the property, the wines, the AVA itself… me and how I speak the wines and recite them to people. Constancy of my manuscript motion…. My wine book, book of notes and random collections and musings, from my walks in the vineyards to just having fun with descriptors… all in book. One still makes me laugh… about an older Napa Cab vintage: “World War 2 bomber pilot jacket”…. “Huh?” I remember thinking when I heard that. And I can’t remember where I heard it, but it never left me. And yesterday, the lady repeating ‘rock’, and ‘rocks’…. “There’s a lot of rockiness to this one, and it’s on the fruit I smell.” I wrote it down in my makeshift notebook of stapled scratch paper, back turned to them so they couldn’t see my jot. Then I started making up funny notes for wine, no specific varietal or vintage, region in mind. I just wanted to have fun. (What an idea, huh? To have fun in the wine business…) Like a grand dismissal of wine “writers” who are looked to for so much authority and direction…. “Computer cord rubber…snow jacket zipper…Oregon coastline…1970s victorian doorknob…department store tile…” Those were the ones I thought were the most, I don’t know, something.
Picture I rediscovered yesterday, of my arm extended holding a small pour of something red against a vineyard view. Think this may be from about a year ago, don’t know, but I remember the walk out there with the Dutcher Crossing crew. The hilly nature of the property and how dirty the dirt was. I mean, it got everywhere… on and in my socks, somehow up my shirt, in my eyes, but I still managed to take pictures, scribble a few notes or musings. The bottle made from that property… huh… MORE than “good”. And being there, tasting better than the eventual juice, at least for a writer.