Made note in last doc, “From here, go to 2019…” Starting new year now. Not waiting for tomorrow. And not going to list everything I want to do but rather just actuate. In a far back corner of this remodeled coffee shop. Sentence for day, in that Happiness Project journal Natalie gave me years ago, “Nay-say to be embraced and studied in order to preserve and protect my joy.” Didn’t write last night after coming home from La Rosa dinner with wife. Planned on inventorying the day. Everything from morning with kids to going to Healdsburg with Jack hoping to get a haircut but the line was far too long so he and I went to Healdsburg where I bought him an ice-cream and went to toy store that I’d never been to and was actually a bit curious to see what was inside, how it was arranged. All this after my 9-point-something speed work run at 24. Took both beats to wife’s parents’ house, then back home for a much-called class of Chalk Hill Sauvignon Blanc. Why couldn’t I bring self to write, last night. Even now, I feel off. But I write through it, or try. Just as I advise students. Writing and into the year, this new year where I feel travel. I see it. Sense the sense of getting on an airplane to somewhere I’d never been after not flying for some time. The engine sounds of the plane utterly canorous for some reason. They’ve never sounded like this to me, before.
While stepping toward the new year in this Starbucks on Hopper & Cleveland, Santa Rosa, I go over my life, over the last 39+ years as far as I can remember and vividly and believably recall. Santa Cruz, walks with Dad in Big Basin, my first day at Arundel in San Carlos, Kindergarten, looking back and Dad not coming with me and me feeling confused— “Why is he just standing there? Isn’t he coming?” Obviously not, now understood after Jack’s first day. My Road, still a Road… every job I’ve had, everywhere I’ve lived, studying my now for sakes of Freedom and being free, yes, but more. More to my character, more to what I read and this, this seat, this 4-shot latte, this journal, my phone… more to everything.
Understanding Now entails a distancing from the Now, both in backward pace and forward flight. How defies common association and what you’d call logic, I guess. All notes going forward, through, are for purposes of getting me somewhere. I step on New York streets, in Manhattan and other parts of which I’ve never heard— certain micro-villages and enclaves, neighborhood or boroughs as they call them. Writing further toward new year, wondering where I’ll be sitting on my 40th birthday. This year I turn 40. FORTY. Why. How. It’s just what happens. It’s what always happens. Time passes and doesn’t mind what’s in my mind or what I feel for the day, that sitting. I look up and see a young family with their daughter, certainly younger than Emma and the parents younger than wife and I. I’m older than some parents, my babies age past others. So then, more…. More progression and trek into life. It keeps going. What do I do for day’s remainder? Charting and timetabling isn’t going to get me There, I know.
What I assign students to do, I should do. Hemingway with his Feast intro paragraphs putting me somewhere. Taking me back to Paris and showing me what I couldn’t see even if I were to now return. It’s him, then. More than time, though. It’s his voice, his sight, his observational patterns as they situate in Paris, in that Café des Amateurs. Before I go too far into the Café with Papa, I’m hearing this jazz in ears and seeing where I am, considering my person and Personhood as a teacher of Literature, and how now, in this day, in America yes but elsewhere as well, no one read. NO. ONE. Or that’s how it feels. All these social media “stars” or champions, personalities and whatever they’re to be deemed, do nothing of Thought. And, before I go too far down that sewer vein, let me go back to Hem’s thought stems. He immediately goes for senses, smell and other, like a sixth sense you could even say. In my beginning reading bing and lecturing for ’19, I get away from me and become he, Hemingway in his seat. Smoke and the misted windows from the heat and all the people in the Café with him. He makes me wonder what didn’t make it to page, what he observed but didn’t write. Him sitting there noting as he did isn’t just a writer thing, but a Human act and practice. Like magnified people watching for purposes of preserving the person watching.
When he comments on the people being drunk as often as they could, or even all the time, he touches on sense again. Being stripped of senses as a result of intoxication, hence his rule of little or no alcohol while writing. It makes a mammoth statement about them and their day, what they do with their day. Now, here, 2018 on Hopper & Cleveland, I look around at everyone in their day as Hem does. Couple taking two chairs and small rectangular table to my left. I know nothing about them, can’t see their faces as I look down at these keys and I don’t need to. There are similarities here as there are with Hemingway, where he sits. People, lives, observation, noting it. Where you are and what you’re doing in proximity to others and what they’re doing, where they are.
When you read Hemingway’s assessment of the city in this first chapter you have more than an assessment, but the start of a love letter. Even when it’s sad or cold, or of horrible odor, you still have shared observation. The inner-insistence to share observation is a consequence of consuming adoration for what’s observed.