Writing in Hill-Chalk

img_1997Had a tasting today, unexpected a bit, that shifted my view on wine, surprisingly.  Two SB’s, two Chards, two reds, and I’m sitting here on the floor of the home office knowing something seismic is about to realize.  Just finished a glass of from a Cab bottle in my cellar I was convinced would be shit however it decided to be defiant.  And I loved, love, it. It professes structure and sense, architecture and an autonomous varietal lecture.  I’m in that HST wine-writing fashion— not caring about the destination but only the ride— remembering and intimately recalling what I hated at Chalk Hill, from the two SB’s to the Chards, reds…. I’m reborn in a sort of perceptive ports.. here in a meditative selectivity, measuring my Personhood from where I am and what I did only ours ago at that Chalk Hill rung.

Wine jousts with me this evening.  It challenges my embrace of convention, even when I img_1998tout and flout how rebellious I am, calls me out, tell me I need further go.  There I was, and here I am, thinking about what I saw and tasted in that hidden facet of wine idolatry.  I walked around, just staring at the hills, even while I was poured the 4 whites, 2 reds, noting in my head and in my inner-tablet what to do next with what I was experiencing.  A new Roman Candle, the counter, that hall, that balcony, the pours and I mean all of them in how they uniquely translated varieties while purposing something for consumers like me—  I had more than a tasting, today.  My oenological conception is re-shaped, definitively.  And it goes beyond whites and reds, it’s realizing timing.  Chalk Hill instructed a reiteration of intention, an observed statement—  There is always something to be learned, and what more advantageous instrument for such than wine?  I’m with new intention and thesis about everything.. new Dharma, new path, new Roads— a renewed Beatnik, me.  Solitary poetry, stalking only my electric syllabary.


3 –

Singularized, finally.  but I have that cleaning to do.  Starting with this laptop, then moving to the actual tangible pieces around me in this what-used-to-be home office.

There you go… or maybe not.  Don’t want to focus on it now.  Like a winemaker focusing on a blend but pulling away from the bench to look at some budgeting spreadsheet.  The budgeting has to be done… BUT, art comes first.  The project first.  My inner Bottled Ox is entirely in motion at the minute, tempted as I am to take a nap.  Reasoned I’m going to get my little Kerouac early from school, maybe take him to lunch or something, somewhere, or just come back home..

Want to nap but I can’t let myself.  Need to be strong, tough writer for the babies.  Just keep writing, I tell myself.  Keep working.  It’s all about the work.  See my office again, me typing and feeling this way, wanting to go home and take a nap, but how would that look to my staff, right?  Yes.. I stay here, write about anything.. the jazz I have cued, how I’m writing on the couch which is probably a bad idea since it just tempts me to lay down and close my eyes.. keep playing like this pianist, the drummer.  Have to empty my bag, next step in cleaning.  Change, books, pens, all the nonsense.  Truly tired of carrying that thing around.  So no more.  And I mean it this time.  The goal is to singularize, to travel light.  Be quick, simple, mobile, exploratory, disciplined in such ideology.  Be Buddhist with my art patterns.. humble, connected to environment.

Wine.. more focus.  Anything wine-associated or hinted-at… all my writing will involve education, wine, both, or something strikingly connected.  Just some affirmation and re-emphasis to Self.  Probably could have left you out of it, reader, but it’s here noted if you feel’s though you want to know.


Home and sipping the Longboard Sauvignon Blanc

img_1968Jesse gave me the other day.  Don’t feel too pained from run, but a bit tired from day in sum and the dinner Alice and I just had.  Only had two tacos, shrimp, but I don’t know… I’m tired.  Tomorrow back in room, and have to force self to take more tasting notes, more crazy wild wine writings.  Speaking of writing about wine, I didn’t expect this bottle to be as animated and innovative as it is.  Sauvignon Blanc never riles me, honestly, but this one is.  Notes of lime, melon, pine, mint and rosemary, a little stone-something and… salt?  This wine has me thinking, thinking more about my place in wine’s world and what I’m doing in it.  This is a bottle that you’d have at a table, with family, or by yourself like me now, writing my musings on whatever I’m doing tonight.  Tomorrow the week starts, and who knows what will happen.  OR, I do.. I will do what I did on my run today, just keep going.  Yes, I stopped at 8.5 miles, and I wanted to get to 13.1, but I had a well-pushed jaunt.  I got out there, when all I really wanted to do was be lazy and take a nap on the couch.  Just keep moving.

Wife said that soon she’ll be in bed after her long drive up from the city and I’ll prep for Tuesday’s class, put a little more in the book.. my Kismet Cuvée.  Want to “educate” people more on wine, and what they should know, and what they “should know they already know.  What’s that?  Themselves.  Too many times people come into the tasting room and say something like, “I don’t know the right language” or “I’m not sure what the proper wine words are, but…” Wine is personal.  Wine is US.  Wine is not meant to be complicated or even “sophisticated”.  When the fuck are people going to get this?  I’m speaking too harshly and unprofessionally, I know.  Just what’s on my mind.  And again, I’m from the literary world, not this wine industry, and I have to constantly re-calibrate my tone and word deployment.  I’m working on it, I swear.

Had a Sauvignon Blanc at the restaurant, paired with those shrimp tacos.  Just asked the waitress, who was sweet and amicable and eager to get us what we asked for, to bring out whatever SB they had.  I should have asked which it was.  Probably could just go online and find out, but either way it was a gracious pairing— quixotically complimenting all flavors and textures, notes and sensory dotes.  But I too find myself getting tired.  May be headed upstairs with wife when she finally walks up.  Miss my babies.. have so much material to go through from today.  Better wake early tomorrow.  Get writing done, go through pictures on the camera, and do whatever I can do with a quiet morning base.  Will put coffee leftover in tumbler in fridge.. was he upstairs making the funny noise that unnerves me strangely.  Need another glass.. notes, lectures, books, all on mind.  Dominating my concentration.  But my concentration breaks, when I see my phone light up from a message or email… should turn that fucking thing off, or destroy it.  No, can’t do that.  But I should certainly have it out of eye-shot.  Need that glass of SB, finally.


Day 03, April 22, 2017, Saturday — Well, here I am.  Home alone with the house to myself and a night to myself and my first action is anxiety.  All the way home, actually. “Should I take myself out to dinner or not?” I posed, right around the Central Windsor exit, Photo on 3-28-17 at 1.25 PMthinking all last night how I couldn’t wait to get some takeout at Kin.  But I passed the exit and headed toward Santa Rosa.  “Should I get off at River, get a beer at Ash, then order a pizza?” Didn’t.. kept driving.  “Piner Café?” No.  Just to home.  I have some pasta Mom brought over last night, but I’m not in the mood to eat, but get my thousand words out, start finally gathering my book— collections of memory bits or whatever.  Listening to Chet Baker, “So Easy”, and slowly sipping the Dutcher Crossing Cabernet I brought home at some point, at some time.  I can only realize.. I’m home alone.  A night to me.  To write.  Get something done.  Change direction in some way, or some something.  20:25, and dark has landed on this street.. this odd horseshoe lane of houses, with more children about than I know how to notice.  Never mind that.  I’m here.  Re-reading my character notes posted earlier to blog.. my character, Kelly, still in head and mind and vision and I see her walking to work— or no, taking a bus to Market from the Mission District.  I have to keep with that, with all this.  Today writing more poetry on yet another makeshift notebook of those scratch slices I cut, we all cut, from old tasting menus.  Everyone calls it “Mikey Scratch Paper”.  Which always makes me smile, everyone noticing me a writer.

Today’s vineyard walk, more meaningful than most I hold at lunch, less that 15 minutes in the Grenache block, my favorite, just looking around understanding, progressing and growing where I am.  More poetic, the vineyard than the actual wine in my stemless glass, or plastic Govino, next to me.  Just my sight now, all I see are vineyards.  That’s all I want to see, really.  I sip the Cab, and I think of the block around the tasting room building.  The ground and how the vines were pruned, how the buds are breaking and the leaves extending toward the sky, and me just looking, taking pictures and looking through them later imagining what my vineyard will look like.  What I’ll write to them, to my vineyards.  I’m here.. in my house.. wanting to make the most of this night, but where do I start?  Guess here.  With my thousand words as I promised earlier.  Tempted to go get coffee— is there any, anywhere in that cabinet?  Don’t think so.  Coffee would benefit better with a night like this.. me here alone and only a book or two to write.  OR that article about wine being “bottled poetry” as he said.  Wine is not as poetic or verse-riling as the vineyard.  Never.  The vineyard propels a linguistic shape that nothing else does.  ‘Cause even the vineyard is about more than just the vineyard.  The soil— Earth— trees and life around it.. streams and weather consistencies recent, atmosphere, and what you can’t see and what’s not in some V&E textbook.

When I walk the vineyard, I have little idea what I’m really seeing.  But I’m acutely aware of how I feel while out there.  What it makes me write.  As I’m here now, in this house alone and its signature in my character, the vineyard continues to sign even after I’ve left.  Even pushing the buttons all I hear is my steps on that dried vegetation, the old canes snapping, the midday gusts sliding over and through the cordons.  I stop to see it again, remembering what I said to myself while out there, what I saw myself doing while home…. I thought about what I should get myself for dinner, and here I am with nothing.  The right choice, to be honest.  Just fly into the words, pour yourself something, whatever’s open.  And here I am.. listening to jazz feeling like I did when 22, 23, living by myself in San Ramon.  I know I’m a father, husband, but right now I’m just a writer inventorying his day, all the idiosyncrasies and anomalies, cosmos and galaxies contributing to my book, books.  Gonna need a break in a minute I think.  Not like me, but I’m going to take one.  Can’t get the Grenache block from my forearm shell, eyes, chin, cheeks, eyelashes.  I’m measured and musical in that block.  Why— what is it in there, in now me?  I’m relaxed, I’ll profess.  But I can’t be relaxed, let alone too relaxed.  I’m on the clock.  MY clock.  Waiting for nothing to happen.  Waiting for no one to call.  I’m just acting, actuating.  What do I want to read tonight?  Friend earlier suggested I read some of Kurt Cobain’s entries.  Just need to read something new tonight.

Glass empty.  I’m not ready for more, not yet.  Ugh… coffee does sound amazing tonight.  Going to look for one k-cup… there has to be one, in there, somewhere—  No.  There’s not.  Erroneous attempt.  I’ll get up early, run, then get some.  I shouldn’t have coffee late. Bad writer move.  Re-designing my writing habits and routines and roundness.  So.. after wine comes water.  Turn wine to water.  And abstract calculative reference, maybe.  The jazz and wine tell me to take another break but I ignore and I’m sure I’ll be scolded in some way either by the my words or the wine, Hutcherson or Coltrane, or this evening, itself.  I find myself slowing, not focusing.  Did I work that hard today?  Don’t think so.  I mean, a couple times there it was scattered and rushed and a whirling kerfuffle behind the bar, but I survived.  We all did.  Selling and signing new club members.. the industry pulls me closer and further forward into and through its book.  I’m in a book, writing a book about the book I’m in, writing the book.  A postmodern marriage that necessitates an affair.  What?  I’m already crossed and lost.  ‘Nother glass.


Day 01, April 20, 2017, Thursday — Day I find what classes I’m getting in Fall.  Definitely booking two, no matter what.  06:56 now and I’m in the conference room, about to go to classroom but decided against, and I wasn’t in the mood for the adjunct cell.  Anymore.. I don’t want to be in any kind of box.  First coffee kiss… perfect.  An adjunct in the hall struggles with the door of the shared office.  One reason I wanted no part of that room, just for that, some scuffle with the door and the jingling of keys… can’t stand that.  So I’m here wondering what I’m going to teach but I recently reasoned that I shouldn’t do that, that I should just jump in there.  You know what.. I’m going to the classroom, now, to be a student of the students and that WILL make me a better teacher.  The business plan for me as a writer and general creative is ‘Education’.  So what is this morning teaching me?  Do things different, don’t overthink, and be FREE.  I never feel free in that adjunct cell/shared office.  I mean, I feel isolated, and alone, and with quiet to get work done, yes.  But I never feel free.

Shouldn’t have watched that murder mystery show last night with wife.  Should have read, written, done so while watching at the very least.  Maybe I need that, though.  Some kind of distraction.  This artisanal slice of regret this morning to pair with my coffee.  Possibly.  Why?  ‘Cause now all I want to do is write.  Looking at notes from yesterday’s stapled pieces of scratch paper from the winery, I wrote— “Watch character development. That way, YOUR character can develop.” Hoping my character further develops to what I want it—he, me—to be… traveling writer, teacher.  Photographer?  Why can’t I decide where I stand with photography?  Wife’s friend,’S’, took up photog’ as a hobby, left her job, and now has a studio spot.  “Of course,” I thought in the car while she was telling me this.  “Anyone but me.” I said to myself.  Completely the wrong attitude.  I WILL have my office, if I stay linear with my pages and always return to Education— be it with wine, with this morning and me typing in the deserted conference room… with Running and health, or fitness… educate, always educate.  I’m an Ox, not so much trapped in his book/bottle, but educated by it.  MY story.  WHERE I’m going.

The last project taught me that there is always a way up, and out, and if you need help to seek it.  But, many times you need to help yourself.  People so many times surrender to the mercy of the possibility of “the big break”.  Maybe we should give ourselves a break.  Maybe we should look to ourselves for our brick & mortar, or shop, or office, or studio.  We have to demand more from WE.  I wrote yesterday that “Calendars are shaped jokes. Does this have to be here and that there? I sat where I thought I should. Coffee drop.” Written at work while behind bar pretending to clean, but rather scribbling on a piece of scratch.  The calendar is a joke, but it’s not.  One day, you’ll wish for more squares.  Or maybe you’ll be fine, more than fine— elated!— with what you did with yours.  That’s my drive.  That’s what I want.

After class— fire.  With a useful creative ire.  Students and I talking about their final projects, or “submissions” as I say since I hate the word ‘projects’, and coming up with ideas that were reaches and some more linear, and some downright creative.  The authors this semester and the consistent rush toward freedom.  Very much healthy for me.  I feel myself becoming more a teacher and less a wine industry chap.  We’ll see.  But even if I’m in the wine industry, I’ll be speaking as an educator.  Acting like one, speaking like one, writing everything down like a lecturer…. I’m closer to the Road with the recent news I’ll be teaching in Summer.  Told myself I’d never do that again, but I’ll do anything that involves me teaching.  Today in the tasting room, watch…. I’ll ask sippers to offer their initial reactions.  Not at all talking down to them but interacting, exchanging ideas, thoughts, just the human reaction to wine.  Yes, Janet just told me I’ll be teaching over Summer.  Or rather, she asked me with a smile on her face, so eager and happy to tell me yet unsure I’d take the gig.  English 305.1.  The most developmental course we offer.  This will make me a stronger educator, I know.  Janet I think unsure if I’d take it as she knows my preference, and is all too familiar with my fervor for literature, philosophy, composition.  But here I am.  About to teach Summer, again.  I call later for Fall, but for now I’m in the educator’s pose.

Student in class re-worded my offering on ‘ire’.  At class’ end, when I asked what was on the day’s page, something I ask at every meeting’s summation, she said, “Write with an ire. Confidence, fire.” I joked with her in front of class and said, “Well of course, J——-, you have to say what I said better than me.” We all laughed but were lifted by her words.  And I guess I took some appeasement in knowing some of that came from me, teaching.

09:05.  Have to leave in 10, tops.  Want to just stay here and write… more thoughts from class.  Plan for next class.  Write the lecture and the timetable, questions… all of it. Maybe that’s what I should do at lunch, at the winery today.  And email it to the students!  Yes!  I’m ablaze, this morrow.  I’m Dad, in that Porsche GT (think it was), racing around the track, not letting anyone catch me, but me passing everyone, reaching every goal I put before this writer, teacher.  I’m learning that everything I want is already here.  I just have to be in constant re-write mode, and eventually I’ll have a book, books, and I’ll be on the Road sharing my story and what I’ve learned with the planet.

Day 24, April 13, 2017, Thursday —

Late, ready for day to close.  But I sip this last glass of ’15 Zin, a bottle with which I’m not animatedly in love.  But I sip anyway.  Finally, some time to me.  Did writing for thisimg_1754 project earlier, before and during class, in Composition Book, but didn’t have time to transfer.  So I’m in the moment.  Looking at my new pair of shoes, one of them, that I bought the other day before the meeting in Windsor.  I start to feel stressed but I know all I have to do is write, teach.. what do I teach.  Nothing.  But I offer ideas.  And one.  Forget what’s in that rearview.  Just drive… drive… faster… so that when you feel wind in your hair and around your face you’re confirmed that righteousness fires from your rile.

Time with my babies this evening, just went up to check on them but earlier in bath they reminded me I need to very much take a step back.  Relax.  And do what?  Write.  Offer ideas.  Anymore, I hate that word, “teach”.  Who the fuck am I to teach?  I’m doing what my best-ever professor said he did for a living— “exchange ideas”.  Like today, with the students who started to civilly scuffle over Japhy’s role and impact on the story of Dharma Bums.  This time to self— need to wake earlier.  Much earlier.  4am… just play with that idea for a second.  Wife’s alarm goes off at, what, 6:15?  If I were writing at 4:15, I’d have two hours of writing time.  Two blood hours.  I’d be set for the day, really, goal-wise.  So what do I do?  Pound this Zin and have some ice cream.  Then go to bed, writer…. Could fall asleep now, if I tried.  OR, even if I didn’t try.  The writer’s at the end of his conversation, inwardly and out—  Trying to accelerate, but I’m running out of gas, as Dad has always said.  Tomorrow, Mom’s birthday.  How old is she?  Ageless— timeless.  She’s Mom.  She’ll always be there for me, right?  This is the exhaustion’s lines to be recited.

img_1745I stretch my legs forward, 12, and clear my throat.  Sip the Zin’s surplus.  Done.  Ready for bed.  But what about my crème glacée?  In a minute.. that picture of my Ginger Ale atop that vineyard post.. so— why pester my own self with this anxiety, of having to do this and that.. wish I had coffee in the house.  But no.  Why?  I have wine but no coffee?  That’s a certain serrated puncture.  So I change, tilt conveniently.  Then I feel tired again, lean head left, put collar over mouth, and just feel lazy.  Close, day!  Close, please.

Edit and fix.. job of a student.  I’m a student.  Why can’t I go back with this ‘time’ thing?  Why am I circling, in a holding pattern?  Why not get to travel?  It’s late, and the Composition Book calls me.  Morning encroaches.  People everywhere…. I need to listen more, better.


img_1717Nearing 40… lachrymose, lazy, frowning and furrowed in my paginated intention. Winemakers bottle some fermented result, all the way professing how laborious it was rallying praise for brilliance and some chemical familiarity and sagacity, while we writers are looked upon as slanted, odd and over-narrative or all-too confessional. Wine has too much divinity, laced in professional propheteering.
My decision pivots to something more optimistic or yay-saying when I look at my legs stretched, toward that far wall in this house, that my parents paid for. Could be one of those homelesss chaps in the under/overpass. But I’m here.. have to somehow infuse parents’ story… Mom, from Jewish parents, then Daddy from Irish Catholics… so who am I? I’m like Kerouac in that cabin trying to find himself when he knows damn well where he is and cooking what I can till some sense comes from this senselessness. SO, what I now next do, too, maybe look at the TV, off, but like it’s playing something, some baseball game, so who’s playing?— Not sure.. but I’m still here on the ground, on this hard wood floor that softens me, elevates me to some weird sky.. who am I? The caterpillar doesn’t fucking know, even after all that effort I put into the master’s thesis… I’m not a master, not at anything. ‘Cause if I were I wouldn’t be struggling the way I fucking was, am— now… ‘nother sip. Winemakers do the very same, but travel, act like they’re sages, sagacious in ways we can’t fathom or categorize— “Meet the winemaker!” a sign says. Why? Who cares? Will their remedial syllabic symmetry make the wine taste better? Why do you look at them that way? Why do you ignore us, writers? I’m going to drink more. One fast move…. Away from any lean at whiny winemaker—