Outside the Bag

Nearing lunch.  Not sure if I’m in a writing mood, from how busy it’s been.  But I was able to capture some valuable stills on the crush pad, with tons of grapes landing today.  Hot outside, possibly too hot for walking so I may just come back to this desk, share my boredom with you.  Lucky you!  But I’m not bored, not at all, not with all that’s around me unfolding and developing.  Through head, a ceaseless to-do list.  Not even a list anymore, more like a stomping dinosauric docket for me to catch, catch up on.  How will I do that?  Simplify, everything made more simple.

Words for lunch.  I’ve decreed.  If I’m at the desk it could be perceived I’m available.  Maybe I should just wait till day’s end, no writing now, just let it all compile and collect.  How I get to evenness.  Back from a bathroom walk and I was tempted to go out onto the crush pad and photograph fruit in the bins, cold soaking in the sun, maybe take some video of the guys raking fruit into the crusher/de-stemmer, but I walked away.  Out of character for me.  This writing and tireless father need act more outside pattern, if I sense I’m about to do something I always do then don’t do it.

Clocked out for lunch, but the writing father’s staying put.  Right here at desk.  Not speaking to anyone, and not to be rude!  But rather to immerse the writing father in his words, in his work.  Not budging from my thesis of working harder than I think I can, get more done than I did the day prior.  How I spend the lunch, soused in my sentences.  Too hot outside for a vineyard walk.  One after work, though.  Have to do one a day, at least.  Ultimate and encompassing freedom demands I seek nothing new.  I have all I need for my idyllic, right here, in my story.

Okay…  So the idea yesterday, that I mentioned here on bottledaux, was selling real estate.  I know, I’m laughing too.  Why that picture and possibility if you could call it that leapt into my perception is far beyond my current reasoning, at this desk.  “So what…” you say.  What do you mean ‘so what’…  It’s gone, now.  Selling real estate?  No.  I’m holding with my goals.  Staring out the window in front of my as I so many times do throughout the day, only antagonizes my dreaming, day or night dreaming really doesn’t matter—  Could use a glass of Chardonnay or anything right now.  Lunch, huh.  Not for this writing father.  Tomorrow on campus, then day next back here at the desk.

Say you’re more cursed than lucky if you’re still reading.  But, the working father, or mother, any parent knows what this is, only wanting to do to provide all and more for your children and your family’s entirety but you can’t think nor act fast enough.  You’d do anything, you’d work any amount of hours.  You refuse to slow, and your certainly won’t stop.  So what else to do but keep moving, keep processing the ideas like grapes on a crush pad.  Who knows what results.  Maybe something blissful, something unusually piquant.  Maybe the next time you sit at your desk you’ll be a different You.

(9/27/16)

Restart, Recharge, Return

Alarm ignored.  But I’m up now with that temptation that any writing parent feels.  To just go back to sleep.  But I think daughter has a cold or ear infection, something, so she’s been up through the night.  Can’t let myself go back to bed.  Not sure when I’ll have time like this to self again–  this quiet, this space, slice and selection of seconds.

Noticing I’m a bit hungry, but no way I’m eating right now.  Waste this zen, this composed scene on eating?  Idiotic.  Being a writing parent I’ve noticed, of late, has been tangibly more challenging.  And not just with finding time isolated to self, but with budgeting time, fitting in other small wants.  Next semester has to be different, I tell myself, but can I really afford to teach only one class?  Can’t cut down on the winery hours, as that’s what provides my benefits…  Mentioned in my walking vineyard verse yesterday something about a ‘map’ and a ‘trap’.  Can’t remember exactly what I spoke but I know the impetus behind my intonation. There’s a plan we all follow, the path of maturity and responsibility, not to get too careless or wild, but following such IS a trap, it’s own surrender and death.  But what can I do?  I’m a writing parent, not some single early twenty-something living in a studio downtown.  I’ll figure it out, but I have to move quicker, be more outside of character, put self on a beneficial edge.  Waking early like this is some kind of start, I’m hoping, but I have to make it a lifestyle, a truthful lifestyle change.

5:41AM–  Wish I would have risen when that alarm went off… Goddamn me!  Why do I just go back to sleep like an unmotivated jelly bot? Starting to feel a certain virulence kick up, a mood that will push this writing daddy to a beneficial breaking point.  “Good,” I think, “maybe that’s what I need.” Of course it’s ‘what I need’.  So what else can I do besides write prose on my phone early in the morning like this?  One thing I thought of is putting myself in character, with whatever I do, in a way I never have before.  With the winery, with my adjunct instructor life.. everything.  And write more.  And try to distance myself from anything that slows the production and composition of this prose.  I know what I’m referencing I’m just electing not to chisel specifics into this paragraph.  All components for any idyllic frame are already present, I merely need to put them in place.

5:48.  Again, GODDAMN ME!  It’d be 4 something in this session had I elevated when I had planned.  But, under the umbrella of resolution, utilize what’s immediate, don’t dwell on a wish-for or erased hypotheticals.  Don’t hear Emma upstairs.  Maybe she fell asleep.  Have to iron pants, can’t forget, shower somehow, and get to winery early–  hear wife trying to put daughter back down in crib… “Please go to sleep,” I say to myself… That’s all a writing or any kind of parent wants, for their children to snooze if parent is trying to do something.  Can hear her squirming, moving, those light little grunts… “No, no, no… Sleep!” I need to charge this–

Walked with my light burglar ballet steps to other room, where charge is, plugged into laptop.  Nothing from upstairs but I bite my tongue as that could change in a light lick of a partial heartbeat.  First sip of coffee from tumbler.  Think I can somewhat catch up, be where I’m supposed to be writing-wise had I shot from pillows and sheets at 4, or a little after 4–  What am I talking about.  No way am I going to get to a word count like that– never mind.  Just keep writing, daddy.  Was wishing for quiet like this all day yesterday at the winery.  Let a mood somewhat take over my character, didn’t embrace and immerse my role behind that bar as the writer should have. But again, dismiss that rear view portrait.. Push down on gas, or climb that mountain, that ‘goddamn mountain’ as Jack said.  I will, I have to… Fuck what have I been doing living so safe and understated.  No wonder I’m not fucking traveling yet.  Sipping this coffee again, and ANGRILY.  Now that’s a sip, that’s how an early waking writer-father should glug-glug son café (his coffee).  Huh, and my French.. What happened to that?  Need to do what my father made me do in sixth grade, write out a loose plan for the entire week.  That is, for each day he’d have me simply write each class, one thing for each, and that’s it.  I’d add as things were assigned, if that makes sense.  What Dad was punctuating, and he still does, is to be three or four steps ahead.  So today– French … Music … Poetry … Photography … Blogs … Fitness/Nutrition … and that’s enough for now.

6:05.  Have to begin readying at 6:30.  May take a day off tomorrow.  I rarely do so, such, which is all the reason for this writing father to collude.  Still typing on phone, and it acts strangely, slowing down in some typing sprints.  Why do info this?  Why can’t I be like Plath when she wrote early, actually put a pen to a line?  Again, STOP.  Move forward.  Have some more coffee. Funny to think how some right now may be sleeping off, or trying to sleep off last nights drinks, drunk, well this writer sits here on a hard wood floor writing, contributing to some book effort, or vision, possible hypothetical some something.  Not sure if that’s admirable, or just fucking demented. I’ll go with ‘maniacal’, not ‘demented’. Why didn’t I wake at 4? It’s time now for writing papa to get ready for his longer than long day in wine character. “Take possession of it, Mike,” I say.

There’s a story to write, only you can write it, so stop thinking so much.

(9/25/16)

Well here I am, 4AM.

Back to work, back to surprise myself.  But more than anything, defeat you.  Quiet as I ever heard the house– No, quieter.  One idea that pushed me away from the pillows, causing me to rise and turn off the alarm, and again not go back to the fluffy temptresses and under the blanket which is now merely over my lap– regret.  I’m tired of going a whole day cursing myself for not waking up, having to wait and work through the entire day just to hopefully again try the day next.  But I’m up.  Now I’m up.  4:06 and with words in front of me.  Time for me.  And this quiet, auditory opiate I could use and use excessively over and over.  Still thinking about the races yesterday.  I wrote the metaphor is obvious and maybe it isn’t.  Maybe I need to think about it a bit more, more and more–  So, speed.  Singularity.  One track.  When the race is done, onto the other.  Consider the atmospheric conditions of the track.  Vary speed…  I’ll think about those cars and sounds, my writing intersection throughout the day.  And speaking of this day and what I have to do, and not regretting, that kind of thing…  Running.  I have to get in a run before heading to the winery.  Only 45 minutes.  All the time I’m allowing myself like the racers only have a set time to finish their laps, till they see that checkered cloth.
Now in family room, or living room, the never-knew-what-to-call-this-room room. 4AM. Finally, I am here in this quiet and dark, and on this couch Alice’s grandmother gifted us. Alice is right, not as comfortable. But I’m glad it’s not. 4AM might have a chance of getting me back in bed. Huh… Comedy there, somewhere. So much I want from day. Story and three pages and just surprising the shit out of myself with what I can do. My thoughts are everywhere as I’m still waking up or adjusting to this adrenalin level. Fridge making some odd sound, and I’m so tempted to take a sip of coffee from tumbler— made self two cups last night just in case I actually DID wake. And I did, have, so why not sip? Don’t know, part this writer still wants to get in a little sleep before run, work. But that’s what I’ve always done. Why not not have now be when the day starts. Who else can say they’re doing this, have done this today? Would be willing to bet, no one I work with. And good for them. As pleased as I am that I finally woke for a 4AM sitting, the mess of mind it comes with is a lot to manage at such early hour. But this is the only time the writing father has to collect himself as he wants.
Afraid to lift my head from the screen. Afraid to stop even for the most abbreviated of breaths. Just relax, I tell myself. Enjoy your words and the sight that comes with it. Well, with words, my choice there in is funny as when I lift my eyes to look around room I can’t see a thing. This darkness I feel’s a reward for finally waking at the war hour for this writer. Can’t remember the quote a student shared with me, but it was something like ‘2AM is for the writers…’ Something like that. Shit. Now I want to look it up. But I won’t let myself. My time is 4AM. And we rarely meet. But we have this morning. What does this say about me? That I want something, something more than regular pattern and comfortable occupational orthodoxy. I want to go fast, faster than fast with my paginated aims, travel, “teachings” if you could call them that— Not sure why I always qualify myself like that with teaching. I do teach, just my methods and style is a bit more Human and approachable when actualized in the classroom. I tell my “students” that THEY are their best teachers. I offer ideas but it’s their onus to interpret and translate, process, the ideas.
4AM teaches me this morning to move quicker. Don’t measure so fucking much. Writer friend sent me a message with an attachment to an article about a woman who published a novel that sold 12,000-something copies and she can’t pay a single fucking bill. This enrages me, how publishers treat the ones plating their manuscripts. Seriously, I was disgusted. One the most powerful and convincing such pieces I’ve read about traditional pub. Just the reason I post my pages to a blog, aim to print myself— sovereignty, depending on nothing but my own checkbook and life to get my life where I need it, both as a writer and father, but as well a runner, teacher, thinker, person crazy enough to wake at 4AM to write.
This is a bit maniacal, I understand. But if I regretted not doing it as I have in the past, with those other mornings where I actually set the alarm and ACTUALLY woke, but only woke to turn off the alarm and hated myself the whole day… No. No more. I’m up to work. My day’s started. Love this time. And yes, parents appreciate this more that others. With both babies upstairs quite dormant, spouse resting. This time is all mine. Feel I should celebrate with a sip of something, so yes, COFFEE. But why am I scared? Think ‘cause I know once I sip there’s no going back to that soft stack and that wrapping stretch of cotton. What would you do, reader? Was once told this was a fool’s errand. Think he was right. But, being smart or mature, or anything expected is not my aim at 4 in the morrow’s pulse. So… I’m getting that tumbler, taking a wicked set of sips. Like the races, right Mikey? Well, quicker then! QUICKER.

Over the

3 o’clock wall, and the time drags.  Want to go for another vineyard walk, get out of the office just for a bit and enjoy air, sniff and sip it as the tourists do wines in the tasting room.  Wish  I could clock out early and do some tasting myself, be a tourist, just for a minute.  People all over the industry think this, think about ‘it’.  But I couldn’t be luckier as a writer even if I tried, if I scammed, if I plotted and planned.  My luck heaps, and I more than acknowledge.  I wish for nothing.  I write with and from what I already have in his wined, pre-written web.

Sbragia Zin, a stop

I needed a wine, a Zin actually, that had voice and conviction, command over my sense for sakes of calming, and it was there.  This 2013 Sbragia La Promessa Zin.  Have had it before but only in the tasting room and a couple ounces, at maximum estimation.  I’m here in my office, home, now more relaxed—  It’s euphonious blackberry and blueberry chocolate taunts have me more composed and calm, forgetting about day’s stresses.  Of course stress will try to come back around for another pass to unsettle me, but the Zin is there, with its foggy texture and bright jump of a shapely song.

Another sip confirms its woo.  And me, not much ado.  Just enjoying.  This is a cure, a delicious yield to a cosmos larger than my immediate stage.  I could get lost in this red but I halt and sip in measure as I have to run in the morning, but it cured me of the day.  And I’m thankful in many a way.  I needed a wine and I was with the right one after a day like this.  Thinking, meditating as it shed its jammy a-typicality and happily concedes to a more texture-purposed poétique.  Zinfandel and I have never had this conversation, where I orate with such loftiness and praise, where I’m such a Lilliputian, a dazed follower of this Druidic fluid.  Sbragia’s been there for me on more than one occasion but this night’s the more memory-promised of all them.  New ideas, new affirmations, all from that base on Dry Creek Road, with the valley view, atop pedestrian pace but welcoming everyone.  I need another glass, but don’t.  Save the remainder for morrow.  Best that way.  New chapter and song, removing nay-say in any day.  Should stop by and buy a bottle, for the next time a day like this strikes.

Teaching Who?

Continuing on with my 3-page mission for the day, trying to distance myself as much as I can from the food poisoning, I think about teaching.  Why I teach, and if I’m really “teaching”.  I guess I am, but, again, I look at my pedagogy as more an invitation to exchange ideas, with an emphasis on community, but the community in the classroom and at its exterior.  Learning is a lifelong sprint, both for teacher and student, I’ve realized after ten years as an adjunct English Instructor.  This is very much the reason for my approach.  Why suffocate the students in busy work and assignments just to assign more assignments when you can invite them to an enriching discussion?

This is especially pertinent when it comes to English.  Literature, be it a small poem or some grand colossal novel, can’t be read just one way.  At the high school level, I understand structure and fundamentals are paramount to pedagogy, and it’s not that advantageous to allow the students the same interpretive freedoms you would in a College Composition course.  But, you can encourage them to log their observations, to share what those observations mean, and focus on how the sentences were written.  The goal of any teacher, regardless of discipline, should be to have the students in constant critical, thoughtful motion.  Why not encourage such?  The students are taught and instructed, yes, but some onus must be promoted in the classroom.  To just have the students ingest what you teach them and not ask questions, to reject their autonomous thoughts and observations on literature or any subject matter, I argue, is poison.  It discourages the student from their own thinking and can take a toll on self-esteem.  I’ve seen in it too many times in my over-ten years teaching, where students come enroll straight from high school and are hesitant to share their thoughts, or incorporate their own life experiences to aid them in better embracing and understanding the text.  How do I know, because they tell me.  Just at the beginning of this semester, a student said, “I’m just not used to telling what I thought the story means, my high school English teacher said what we think doesn’t matter, to just focus on the book.” I agree, focusing on the book is important. (Wow, what revelation that is…)  But, what the student thinks doesn’t matter?  How is that empowering?  How is that helpful?  How is that TEACHING?  Not, not, not.

Is my teaching the “right” way?  I don’t know, but it has proven to work.  I’m not with the intention of being “right”.  I want to help them, the students.  In my classes, semester to semester (granted some terms are more challenging than others, but any instructor knows that) the students, all ages, entrench in their chairs eager to share their seismic ideas, those ideas are exchanged with each other and myself, and an inspiring eutaxy materializes.  Why?  Because they’re invited, not forced.  There’s no dictatorial demeanor about their teacher.  We read together, we write together, we learn together.  Just a thought…

9/10/16

6:57.  Just did ten pushups, try to be somewhat active.  Tomorrow morning, life or DEATH time for the running writer.  I HAVE to run.  At least ten miles.  I want that feeling going to work…  My next ‘half’ is closer by the day, and I told myself I want under 1 hour 40 minutes for the Healdsburg 13.1.  Tomorrow is a serious training run, with a course mapped out, already.  Want to run more competitively.  Someone at work a short while ago mentioned a “complete lifestyle change” for himself.  Me, well, I guess you could call me a runner.  But, I want my lifestyle change to directly and immediately involve me living as a COMPETITIVE runner.  That man who came into the TR with his wife a short time ago, having the ultra marathon the next day, something like 50 miles around Lake Sonoma.  He hadn’t had a sip of wine his wife said in over, I think, 5 months.  His discipline startled even her.

10 more, and I come back to the coffee, from the mug one of the Mendo students bought me in Fall ’15.  So glad I’m not commuting there anymore, yes, but my brief incarceration there taught me what I’m good for, what I’m not.  I’m not well with settling anymore, nor do I want to teach in places that don’t support me nor where I feel uncomfortable.  This is tangential I know, I blame the morning, and that I couldn’t run.  Running will solve everything, everything.  Tomorrow’s run will change my life, its “style” forever.  Speaking of Mendo, though, I would love to run up there, someday.  A ‘half’ or 10k.

And now… dix autres.

Can feel it now.  Shoulders, triceps, chest, abs…  Just want to be healthy and alive for my family.  Tomorrow’s 10 or more will teach me and enforce that I am a competitive runner, a running writer detailing his trials and trails to a certain frame, stage, story.  Another cup of coffee… wonder what my character would be doing, IS doing, right now.  She doesn’t drink nor go out too often with friends, so last night she was early in.  In bed by 9:30 after working on some sketches she started in the office on her lunch break yesterday and between 4:30 & 5 when she had pretty much everything done.  One, of the Embarcadero, of a wandering dog (she doesn’t like the word ‘stray’) that rests below on of those benches, people just passing.  First thing this morning was coffee and a revisit to this work and others, and then a quick 3-mile run.  Didn’t have time for longer as she nearly forgot she has a private art lesson in Marin, near lower Tiburon for a friend-of-a-friend’s daughter.

More notes throughout the day on her.  Jackie watches a cartoon, and I still have to brew that second cup if I’m to ahead in the day get.. get my ‘get’.  Ten more?…  Oui!  Terminé…  Now coffee and ready for winery day.  Lunch, go to office, write.  No vineyard walk today, or at least not one panned.  Everything today, all actions and thoughts, must speak for the benefit of tomorrow’s run.