I Pick


In the adjunct cell and I immediately started grading the English 100 papers when I sat down with this cannon of coffee.  Now the adjunct takes some notes in the “holstered journal”, as I mention it to my students.  Not sure where to go with this sitting just know I’m back on campus after taking Monday off, enjoying a day of writing and Self time to measure and contemplate, further deconstruct realities and possibilities.  Dickinson said something like “I dwell in possibilities.” I do, too, but I want to more dwell and act from made actualities.  Something immensely gratifying that I brought about, and I’m right there, I’m right there.

Hear doors opening and closing in the hallways.  I’ll say, for some reason today, I’m so glad to be on campus, or ‘back’ on campus.  Ready for both sections, but I’m not sure they’re ready for me and the energy I’m about to catapult at them.  Time, 11:42AM, and I have more than enough time to meditate before class and collect myself here with these exposed Composition Book and Carpe Journal pages.  ‘Nother sip of coffee and I think more of what I want, but maybe I should stop, think outside of the box, right?  Noticing now, and of course at my old ass age, that I continue to have the same reality in certain respects and confront the same results on account of my practices don’t change that much.  Well, now they are, will— no, ARE.

Uncomfortable in this chair, so maybe I should walk around the library till I find one of those chairs by the window, or one of the windows on the third or, better, fourth floor where I can see the entire SRJC world right there, write about the seasonal change and how today’s cooler than the last three angrily heated installations.  I’m not stopping for anyone or any thing.  NEVER.  When the alarm on my phone sounds (set for one hour, to get all my prep and grading done), I’ll head for the bibliothèque.  And I’ll go right upstairs.  Being in this office is much part of the problem with experience excess similarity in existential momentum.  (Wrote that down, “Existential Momentum”, for classes, then a sentence: “You don’t like it?  Change it!”)

Another sip…  Thinking of the wine I had last night, that Zin from Truett Hurst.  How it was loud, both with the jammy thing and alc’, but somehow harmonizing and melodic, musical and narrative.  I’ll write about it, and another Zin I took home yesterday from Dutcher, tonight.  More wine writing, from me… NEEDED.  Again, change that momentum.  Wine and its industry doesn’t have to be the fang-set its in the past been.  With this voluminous yay-saying yodel of mine across the page in recent months, I’ll change everything about how it registers with me, and fellow industry characters.

Alarm sounded, 11:51AM, but I don’t want to get up.  And why should I?  This moment’s mine, right?  That’s just it, though, Mikey…  Make it more your own by leaving.   Going to the library.  Be in the presence of goal-chasers, the driven young student who wants to transfer, graduate then go to grad school, or begin their career.  Student noting me a few weeks ago, about how she graduated law school and passed the state bar on her first try, emailing me thanking me for all I’d done for her.  How she had a 1-point-something GPA at SSU then took my class and was somehow enlivened beneficially.  That’s the feeling I want to experience, over and over, over.  Repeated.  Yes that’s selfish, but it’s from helping others which makes me think it’s not as selfish as other endeavors.  I could be wrong, but I’m just writing freely.  Maybe too freely.

This office, which I ALWAYS call the ‘adjunct cell’, is more freeing than I credit.  Why?  I’m liberated from the commotion in the hall.  I’m all to myself, thinking for myself and the benefits of others, most immediately my students, and I can just collect.  Like I do on a run, after some brutal stretch in the sun or some uphill scuffles and then the ground evens, or is slightly downhill.  You collect, you recover, you sprint on.  (Wrote that, or some derivation in the Carpe as well.)  Right now this isn’t an office, or a cell, or even a room.  It’s a ship, taking me from one “possibility” to the next actuality.  Reward, rewarding my Self by pushing, moving with agility and unusual acumen.  Forgot I was uncomfortable in the chair.  Well, actually, now I’m not.  In fact, this is the most relaxed I’ve been all day.

11:59AM.  Now into the afternoon.  You know, I’ll just head to my classroom.  My plan for the day is to not ask for too much student participation.  Do most of the speaking, presenting.  And not to show off, or gloat, or be too aggressive with my young colleagues, but to throw self back into character.  I have no regrets about taking Monday off, taking little Em to the doc, but it takes me out of character a bit, frankly, makes me lose momentum.  I won’t have some lazy, gradual immersion back into instruction, but a forced placement of my educator self back at the front of that room.  I realize how stretched and wandering my thoughts are, but that’s enjoyed by the author.  From last night’s Zin sips to taking the babies to school this A.M., to me now readying for detachment from this shared bureau (office, in French, I just learned), to the walk to Maggini Hall where I teach the 100 class… all purposed.  All purposeful.  Free now, which is why I stayed in this once-odd chair, where I have to sit up straight but not too straight otherwise the back hurts— and the back part is too far back to lean back…  But I don’t care.  The moment’s mine, as is the page and my class, the students’ eyes and hopefully ears.  New day, new story, new fold, new form.  Carpe…  CARPE!

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.


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.


Those Humans

One thing I notice about students is that they feel lost.  Now, I’m not sure if this is a result of pressure from society or family, or social media, or themselves, or the institution itself, but they feel pressured.  Not only do they express pressure, but they also focus on indecision.  They focus on finding it difficult to focus as a result of the pressure.  Seems like a tireless cycle, doesn’t it?  Well, for many of them it is.  Just earlier this week I had a student approach me with the angst of needing something to shoot for.  It’s her first semester in college and I told her not to worry, not to focus excessively on the end but on the journey that just started for her.  “It’s your first semester, don’t worry about it.  Write down your interests so you know what passes through your thoughts, and you can decide later,” I said.

“But I feel like I need to know now.  Wouldn’t it be better to know now what I want to do, so I can have a plan?” she said, looking down at her notebook, putting it into her bag with the fatigued embarrassment motion.

“Well, yes and no,” I said.  “If you don’t know right now what you want to do for the rest of your life, or even as your fist career, it’s not the end of the world.  But, if you have some idea as to what your interests and curiosities are, that’s not a bad spot to be in,” I added.

I could be misguiding her, I know, but I’m quite sure and confident that I’m not.  Why?  Because I’m advising her to take her time, don’t rush.  When students rush into choices, that’s when they can make mistakes.  So any student reading this, take your time.  Write ideas down, write dreams and possibilities down…  WRITE DOWN YOUR CURIOSITIES.

There’s so much pressure on people of all ages today, with how quickly information and advertising is disseminated.  I don’t want to add to that.  I’m a teacher, and my focus is the student, what they want, ensuring they’re comfortable.  What a concept, focusing on the student and how they feel rather than what they should be doing or what they should be by a certain point in their life.  This pressure is spreading, I’m noticing.  When I ask students what they want to major in, even, they respond with frustration and hesitation, like they’re ashamed they don’t have their entire existence’s trajectory plotted.  The cycle, vicious, and so many that claim to be aware of it, other teachers, are what keep pushing the carousel ‘round.  I start to feel the anxiety, pressure, angst as a teacher, like I should have some magic words which solve everything, take away all the negativity in their thoughts and bloodstreams.  Why can’t I?

Because I’m human.  Because THEY, are human.  “You’re human,” I said to the girl the other day, “you can just pull miracles from your bag,” I said, or something like that.  She smiled, finished packing, left the room.  I stayed to pack up but as well have my usual meditation after a class, staring at the empty seats, remembering when I was a student, and how that pressure can be crippling.  I’m never going to add to it, I’ve resolved.  Ever.

Back from walk.  Have water. And papers..

so here I go, grading as I write and enjoy some time to self.

Done with papers.. want to be in classroom in 9 minutes, and also need a coffee after the heat took what energy I had.  So what now, back into the fucking sun to get coffee.. thinking an iced coffee which I rarely, rarely get.

Leaving again…

Now home.  Had great 1A meeting.  Now home and tired.  Just want sleep.  Not in mood to write, not even the sentence I’m now writing.  Aim is to wake at 4 again, do some core exercises, write, and ready for day at winery.  Need a vineyard walk tomorrow at some point.  Don’t care how hot it gets.

Notes for other project ideas, in Carpe journal (which I’m considering my “holstered journal”, that I have students practice in as well, their own of course.. almost spent money today for new one, but I held self and wallet in place), following through tomorrow.  Watched the film translation of Big Sur tonight with 1A-ers, or just the beginning scenes, a couple of them.  Wasn’t I going to re-read that book on my own?  Why can’t I?  Why don’t I?  Why fucking can’t I?  I WILL.  Think it’s in my desk but I don’t want to look for it and cause noise, with everyone asleep upstairs.  Have my second or third wind, now.  More like a light but consistent bluster.  I’m a teacher, and I’m practicing what I promote in class about staying in the chair, finishing what you’re working on, “If you don’t write, nothing’s written, no story’s told…”, that kind of thing.

Happy about getting all the papers graded.  A certain freedom a teacher experiences and enjoys when papers are graded, yes, but especially when they’re handed back.  They’re no longer weighing you down, in your bag forcing your speed and strut across campus to slow, which is a horrible pain when it’s as hot as it was this day.  Can’t stop drinking water, and that’s a staunch evidential stamp of the day’s heat’s effect on the writer.  Wine, not even beer, sound appealing.  Just water.  And lots of.

Now, bed.  Thinking of tomorrow and today and everyday.

But I change my mind, brewing some decaf that I can write to after my wife comes downstairs after a brief fall into sleep with little Kerouac.  My mind still everywhere and more everywheres than I can handle.  I’m going to teach, I say to myself, “And through the writing.” But I need to start in the classroom—  Keurig cued up, time for a cup…  Walked into kitchen and pressed BREW.  Alice watches one of her shows and I think of my workout in morning.  What should it consist of…  Sit-ups?  Yes.  Push-ups.  Planks.  That held squat pose, oui?  The thesis needs to revolve around chest and abdomen.  Then, run on Wednesday.  Devote the entire morning to running.  I will.  Plan a new course, instruct myself on new approaches to running and the places around Howarth/Annadel to run.

Desk still a mess.  Started to look a bit ordered, but just fell apart—  Get decaf…  On desk with me and all this teacher and writer rubble.  Papers and books, running magazines, keys, cords, earphones.  The exhaustion comes back, I try to focus on this screen and the chair I’m in, the decaf, but feign.  What if I had papers to grade right now, when in this slouching state?  Grateful I don’t.  With the next round of papers, I’ll give myself more time, start right when I get them.  Aim for ten to twenty a day.  Attention to Carpe journal, morrow’s agenda.

No 4AM wake this morning,

and I’m fine with it.  Started day by throwing away 5 items from desk’s top.  Going to test my self a bit in terms of storytelling, telling my story and carving my character.  How… a bit of focus on—I don’t want to say ‘fashion’—but appearance.  Looking more the character I want to be.  Plan outfits a bit more.  Just trying something different, for the sake of the writing and my own story development and character assembly.

Didn’t get a chance to make yesterday my own as I set out.  Busier than expected toward day’s end.  Today I don’t care how busy it gets, I will record and I will pocket material.  But no more little pieces of scratch paper or those makeshift notebooks made of the scratch pieces.  Minimalism taken to an artful degree.  Coffee at left…  Tomorrow going to Education office to gather some paperwork, go for a short run (won’t have time for a longer for which Monday and Wednesday are designated), then to campus.  But the busier I am, the more story I have.  More affirmations and promises… just a bla bla bla brook.  So, this morning, zen.  No rush to run, no early rise, and I’m fine with everything.  Would give my right arm to spend the day with my babies and Ms. Alice.  But, as always, work.

Morning’s instruction, so far:  Take the moments as they’re presented.  Don’t stress yourself in attempts to shape them.  Characters and Story are both cognitive.  It’s a harmony, one doesn’t shape the other.  It’s concerted reality.  So, understand what’s around you, then act or react.  Create.  I’m not saying I can’t chance, or I can’t change my setting and stage.  It’s more advantageous to understand everything before trying to change it.  Slow, slow…  This morning I have Jack down here with me, it’s 7:27AM, Alice and Emma are asleep still, and I have about an hour before I have to begin my ready for ANOTHER work day.

More coffee please. 

Need more.  I could never go without coffee.  Ever.  Some people abstain for a week, or a couple weeks or month, for some stupid cleansing effort, then go right back to it.  I’ve never understood that, ever.  I mean, why.  If you want to change, as I do with certain motions and scenes, wouldn’t, or shouldn’t, it be a complete and cemented lifestyle alteration?  If you think coffee’s bad for you, why not altogether quit or have a lower daily consumption?  Just a thought… thought broken and distracted by my daughter playing with the idea of standing above the book, making self-confident squeaks and grunts, looking over to me I make eye-contact for a moment then go back to writing.  Why don’t I stop?  I need to be a dad right now, not a fucking writer.  I’ll never get this moment back, EVER.  Of course we’ll interact and love and further know each other, but THIS moment is only this moment, in this moment, then it’s gone.  So I’m ending the session.  I woke at 4, I have three pages.  I’m done.  I have coffee, I’m awake, I need to be daddy right now.  This is something that probably every writing parent deals with— not having enough time to write so they write whenever they can and if they do wake early like I did this morning, they enjoy the wild peace and the silence, the moment all to themselves, but one of the babies, or all, wake and your moment is cut.  You write while the babies are up but you feel guilty.  You should.  Be with your children.  I know when Emmie’s older, I’ll think about times like this when I wrote instead of just loved, been daddy.  I know I’ll have those regrets.  But I want to minimize them as much I can, if I can.

Em’s content now, playing with the cars and putting them in one of the plastic containers.  Taking them out, putting them back in.  All at 9 months.

Downstairs again by self after playing upstairs in her room for a bit.  Started crying, wanted mama for feed.  Now, again, it’s just me.  6:08, still dark.  No light indication, yet.  Still sipping.  But I’ve slowed.  BUT, 4AM lost this morning.  I drove avec startling speed.  New me.  I am surprised, I’ll have you know.  What else can I do with the day?  Well… what do I want?