No nap, today, fought against pull and push to do so. Thanksgiving over, wife out shopping at one of those shopping special eve whatever’s. Me, home. Wine. Just finished glass of Claret. The night passed with such cruel progression. Indifference. Babies asleep upstairs. What movie do I watch, my dilemma. My life’s trouble. Think of how fortunate I am with my family and to have such family, to be sitting where I am, here on this we seek to shed, new one one the way… Day of giving thanks, I need to show more giving of thanks, being thankful.

Tonight, I do intend exploring more wine. No aim to wake at 4am or 4:10 like this day. No. I may actually just sleep in. I will. What do I mean, “may”? May have to punch out. Take the night as it approaches me, describe and translate it, or in such order reversed… then wake tomorrow with more thought. More story. More ME. Tired now, forgetting I’ve been up since 4-something. Think 4:10. Has it been that long? Yes. It has. Me, that writer. Now. Time to Self and I sip wine and be here, writing. A writer.

Does the writer want apple pie or Chardonnay? Both sound like they sound, their own precise appeal and connection. I’m not torn between both but urge to be curved by both, somehow. 9:08. Feel like bed but I won’t. I can’t. But more, I refuse. Why can’t I be a human, just have dessert or drink wine. Is it that complicated? Are my thoughts the hinderance, the block and or impediment? I think it may be just that. Not in any kind of a writing swoop, and I can’t figure anything of it out. How does pine figure. What type a figure be me, I, this writer.

I feel like I’m not doing a thing, while doing too much. A mess. Should have taken a nap.

Starting the day

waiting on some appointment. While here, I figure write. Why not. Haven’t hit 3000 words in a while and I know that I have to write every chance I get if I’m to make that kind of progress, but that mark. Tired of thinking, tired of promissory statements to self and to readers of this blog. So I just act, start seriously on the Kelly novel. While getting ready this morning I thought about her, her last day in the ad office in the Marina, her drive back up to her new apartment in Santa Rosa, what she must be thinking, before her first day in the wine industry. She doesn’t know what to anticipate, if she should be nervous or not…

Tired of writing the same thing, and that’s what I feel I’ve been doing. I write where I am, what I’m doing, but that often is much of a repeat. So what do I do but go outside myself. To someone else. Another character. Writing has always just been something I’ve done with not much anxiety or holdup. But lately I’ve been held up. Why. Bored. I guess, no? Bored with the same workday, the same drive, the same sameness of everything around me. Thank the Craft for this new job, new office, new best, new people. Even this office is something to write … me merely here for some physical or something for my new role, but others here for something more pressing, serious or even threatening. Reminds me of how delicate this all is. How fragile I am, my life is. Someone’s name called, but not mine. Goddamnit– Wait though, what am I worried about? My last day in the wine industry is in 9 day’s. NINE. If they fired me, lovely. That’d be something to write.. something new.

Pinot last night, Failla. Didn’t do much to me, really. Surely didn’t inspire me to write about it. It was just another wine. Now I’m certain, more than I was before, that the wine industry and world, possibly even wine itself to some extent, and I need break. I think of my babies and how they see me, how I want them to see me. Last time they visited me in that bloody tasting room I cringed, felt momentous lay embarrassed and queer, them seeing me pour and having to ask that new twigg-twit if I could spend a little time with them. Well that’s fine. And I’m DONE. And never going back. This new “job” will be my last ever. Same feeling as going into your senior year of high school.

Ugh…. when will they call my name? Hate waiting. In a waiting room. Not where I want to be. But I’m here. May as well make use of the writer’s time and write. Right? Another name called. Guy two seats down from me. Will surely be late to winery. Oh well. Relieved I can afford that feeling. And I can. Last step in this whole pre-first day around-tower circle.


NO! Mike!


journal –

Writing father not waking at 4, so the mood already angularized but I won’t let it slow me a bit.  Chugging quick the cold coffee, made last night—well, not made cold but cooled over night, left tumbler at work so I left it in tall cup with aluminum atop—and I set my goal for day.  Humble three pages.  Day’s goal, stories and stories in my head and the magic hour of 4AM taunts me, today me not even so much as giving it a chance to gloat.  Woke at 5-something, think 5:45, to get Emma from crib—actually go upstairs and get Emma from crib as Jack came into our room and evicted me from bed as he usually does.  4AM…..  Such a warrior, when you think about.  Always there, those numbers, everyday.  I should meet it, those numbers, that time, everyday.  Writers are heralded for their discipline and obsessive routines, at least all those I study are…  ‘Nother swig of coffee, listen to Jackie’s Spiderman cartoon.  See?  Even my son has a routine, something from which he never breaks, morning cartoons and breakfast.  What is my routine?  How about in addition to the 3 pages today or at least part of it, write a word every hour in the tasting room to elucidate either my mood or feeling, curiosity or dream at the time.

Have to get in shower soon.  4AM, if I did meet you I would have had well over three hours of unabashed writing time.  Untouched writing time.  Time to write which would tell present and future readers how serious and manuscript-driven I am.  But am I?  Always questioning myself and scolding where I misstep, like with 4, can’t be a boon in any telling regard.  Maybe I need a break from my character and go back to my character, Kelly’s.  Last I recollect I had her in an ad firm in the city.  She was mostly administrative but they let her dabble in the creative, but only dabble.  She paints and draws, of course, sells pieces here and there, but can’t find the time for her craft as she also pours at a wine bar on the Embarcadero.  She has no choice but these two jobs, with how much her modern SF rent is.  She would get a roommate, but that’s no what she wants.  She needs more quiet, she needs more travel, she needs more creative in her life and the Now is where she vows to attain such.

Ah….  Now the writing father feels better.  Not thoroughly improved, but enough to feel good about reaching 3 pages.  Got Jackie some milk and water, now back to my morning highly critical meditation.  4AM has not dodged out inevitable meeting.  And the writing father’s mood, only elevating.  Jackie burps… and again… and I laugh.  “Excuse me excuse me excuse me,” he says.  “Was that a funny burp?” he then asks.  I can’t stop laughing, and my disposition is completely repaired this morning.  No more mood, please.  I can’t bloody stand them.  Doesn’t matter.  They don’t matter.  Today I invest in self, my pages and book, pages for Kelly and everything else off starboard.  Wrote at the beginning of the month that ‘maybe I’m taking my self-assessment too seriously’, or ‘personally’.  Either way, like Mom sometimes says, “Lighten up.” True.  It’s Sunday, not that that matters as I’m headed to work while a trapping total of Americans get the day with their families.  My word for this hour, now in my house with my son, 8:19AM— Puzzle.  I’m terrible at puzzles but I’ve never had to solve with anything in balance.  What’s in balance?  How about my family, our quality of life, my happiness, my aim of traveling and taking pictures, writing, more photojournalism…  How about fucking everything on the line?  Is that enough motivation for me to solve the puzzle, THIS puzzle, this life?  I think so.  But, really, lighten up.  Enjoy your cold coffee, your story, Kelly, her return to your thoughts with that 400-square foot apartment in the Marina.  She wakes early, every morning, to just sketch, and sometimes just doodle but make the doodles somehow multicolored and magnetic with the color play and brush, or pencil, strokes.  Her dream, having a loft/studio in Manhattan, “The typical artist dream,” she always tells people when they ask what she ultimately wants, avocationally.  But that’s what she wants, and being trapped in that office and behind that bar watching people become asses after however many glasses is just the poignant propulsion she needs.  “It’ll be here soon,” she tells herself.  Every morning.

$0 for lunch.

So that’s a victory, I guess.  Eating cheese and crackers I brought to work, at my desk.  Will spend my 30 minutes walking the vineyard, taking pictures.  If I would have gone to lunch with Collyn, I would have dropped at least $8 on something, a burrito, or sandwich at Dry Creek General, or something from that Thai place.  But I stood firm, no dollars dropped.

What am I looking for in the vineyard?  What kind of pictures do I want to pocket?  Don’t know.  Don’t want to plan, don’t want to promise self or readers anything.  Just walked in from a quick visit to the tasting room, where I sipped the ’14 Syrah from the property.  It’s certain, I have to one day have my own label.  Something small, 5,000 cases or less.  No distribution to stores, only some local and out-of-state restaurants.  So what am I looking for out in those Rhone blocks?  Some ideas for my winery, which I want to take shape in the next couple years.  Have my sister as a consultant, maybe, if she can.

These crackers, the string cheese, definitely embody a certain financial and economic triumph for the writer.  Taking $10 from my pocket, what I would have spent had I gone out, probably more had we gone to the Thai place, and placing it in a part of my wallet I designate for business cash.  Need to have this stash far away from the writer, maybe at Mom and Dad’s house.  Somewhere in my own home, maybe, where I’ll be sure to never touch it.  Maybe even indefinitely forget about it.  Ugh, ‘maybe maybe maybe’…  Just bloody do it, already!  Out of sight, but not forever out of mind, right?  There I go seeking validation again.

Taking another handful of crackers into my mouth, looking out the window, the glass of that door at my 12, seeing where I’ll walk but not what I’ll think.  The vineyard will tell me that.

NaNoWriMo a-go-go

Thinking of how to make money as a writer.  Isn’t that a dumb idea to conjure, to meditate or stress over, or anything over?  I should be working.  I should be productive…  I did just sell some wine over the phone, so that’s something, right?  Already November 4th.  And I don’t know if I can keep with this NaNoWriMo mojo.

The quiet in the office unnerves me.  Should go for a walk.  Talk to self and take more pictures of those rows just outside this cottage office.  Photographed those Cabernet vines I don’t know how many times, but there’s a challenge there, right?  To do it differently.  You want to be a photog’?  Then get CREATIVE.

Sip again the mocha…  Not working as I need it to.  Why can’t I have the day off?  I need a walk.  A walk outside.  I need air.  If you don’t have air you die, right?  Don’t think I don’t notice myself seeking affirmation or confirmation, validation for my sentences this morning.  I’m in an odd mood.  Not a “bad” mood, but it’s about oddity this morning for me.  So I imagine myself as my son or daughter, I’m in college, and I’m reading Dad’s memoir–  “Why was Dad so hard on himself?” I think, as Emma or Jack.  “Why was he always asking himself questions he already had the answers to?” This could be excess deliberation I realize but it’s natural for a writing father to mentally mince his identity this way.

One way to make money, just sell everything I write.  My book when it’s done…  just gather a bunch of writings, whatever I can find on that goddamn laptop, and sell it.  Poem and paragraph… the messier the better.  Just have something to read, right?  See, there  Have something to read then you have something to sell, Dad.  I again go.  “Mikey-a-Mess” I call myself when I get like this, all over-caffeinated and ornery.

#NaNoWriMo16 excerpt

…these narratives, these essays which are more than obviously written to be read to an audience, and assaults with truth.  I admire her, feel like she’s doing something I can’t.  Like she’s teaching me.  Like I should be sitting where she is.  Maybe I should.  Maybe one class I should just put her up there, to read for all 1 hour and 50 minutes of class.  To entertain me, the rest of the class.  No, that would show favoritism—  “Well goddamnit!” I say to myself, just under the volume of the film being shown next-door in the theatre room.  I’ve always wondered, “What class is that?” I want to be a student in my own class and that one, and I have no idea what they’re teaching in that large fucking room.

4:12PM. Not sure what to do, now.  And, it just occurred to me, do I have to put a space between the time and ‘PM’ or ‘AM’?  Why am I obsessing over this right now?  Am I grading my own writing?  Is this “career” if you could call it that, as an adjunct instructor, contaminating me?  Is it this room?  The campus?  Have I had too much coffee?  Or is it just a sign of getting older?  This is insane.

Just before 7 woke. (freewrite, no edits) 

Double coffee brewed here in home, Jackie playing, Alice readying for her spin class, and a dastardly day ahead of the writer.  Not even a handful of us in the Room and several appointments on books.  But this could be an opportunity for me, the writing, the current book, somehow.  Check yesterday wasn’t bad, really.  Still not what I want to be making, but it’s something.

Read an article yesterday about getting up at 4 to work-out, and how it starts the night before, a few guys in a men’s health mag testifying to their methods and how they do it, how they’ve BEEN doing it.  Last night, I needed to relax, having a glass of the remaining T.R. Pinot and the last of the SB which amounted to about a glass.  If I set out everything tonight, running gear, charge watch for running (“Garmin”), socks and shoes, open laptop and have it charged, I should have an advantageously story-shifting set of moments come morrow—

new character:  young girl, photographer, working at bar in the city (SF), selling a photo here and there on the side to augment bar pay, tips, but nothing getting the attention she needs.  She’s only 21, but she knows what she wants, and the aim is singular and admirable— to photograph the world, all of it, even the parts where people say she shouldn’t go; that’s just where she wants to go, see, the suffering and pain and expose what humans do to each other and how it’s monstrous, inexcusable; she, Jewel, as well wants to see beauty of the world before it’s ruined by man; jungles in southeast Asia, South Africa, Yellowstone, the Everglades— she wants everything in her lens; she recently did a couple pieces she exhibited in SF, about the city’s Mission District, showcasing the beauties and dimensions and richness, and LOVE, of Latino culture, titling it “The Mission is LOVE”.  To her disappointment, she only sold a couple prints, but received high laud and compliment, love from the community—

Just writing about this new character idea has me thinking of changing my modes and exercises as a writer; write like a photographer, collection of snapshots, stills, portraits of people, things, places, create from more punctuated and precise singularity.  Wake earlier like photographers, write like them, examine my own work like them hunched over a shot with a one-eyed magnifying lens.—  huh, just hit 80,000 words in this document, titled ‘bottledaux, 2016…..’ So why no book?  There’s one coming.  Don’t go down that thought road, just write, gather later, enjoy your shots:  Jack, Emma, this street we live on, Russian River, Dutcher Crossing and what it’s done to me and how I appreciate and see the wine world.  Yesterday I built material with writing prompts and the isolated adjectives upon which to build, some of them being scribbled toward the end of day: ‘decided’, ‘layered’, ‘ravishing’, then a couple others I can’t read (hate when I can’t read my own scribbles—).

9:05 at Hopper sbux, should have ordered a straight coffee as I was initially compelled to do but I went for mocha, then waited which cost me I don’t know how many minutes, now I’m in the corner of the side nook with a wobbly table.  My price for not waking this morning at 4.  Listening to Hutcherson and he motivates the writer to just keep typing and ready for a busier than busy day.  But I’m not thinking about that now, this is my moment and set of moments, thinking about my character and her photographs, selling them one by one (or at least that’s her ultimate aim)— again teaching me, more than my past characters (Kelly, and I can’t remember the other one).  Kelly the painter was interesting but I couldn’t see her backstory, where she came from and if she even had a clear aim or sight for herself.

The 3-shot mocha’s hot and I need to temperature adjust with everything; my teaching, writing, lectures, blog content, photographs, and see wine as only something to enjoy, not stress over, ever.  Odd smell in this corner, what is that— never writing here again, ever—  Moved.  Homeless person’s articles were next to me, so now I sit next to someone else with a laptop but I don’t think he’s a writer.  ‘Fact I’m sure he’s not.  Busy spot this A.M., so many with a day off and I envy maybe a bit but then them pity a bit as they don’t have this, words or some elevated passion or fervor that coerces them to work at any opening seen.  That’s one thing I can declarative punctuate about this Self: he writes with every autonomous second, each tiny tick and clock tock.

18 minutes left for the writer, so he types like a mad hatter, a mad character from wonderland, entirely endemic to me and my mad people.  Another man enters nook, see first table to wall’s side, more awobble than the one I had, then he goes to the one I at sat, not liking lighting, nor smell, so he leaves.  The day’s story, this day, one of singularized and focused expansiveness, a lecture to itself and of its breadth and bravado— so what’s the point of the day’s lecture, its thesis?  I have to wait, but far as the writer can discern and calculate, to heighten the fire’s reaches, make my prose and verse more energetic, eclectic, electric, like this Hutcherson song, how the mallets hit what they hit and maybe there’s harmony, something for song, and maybe the opposite.  But there was movement, there was something done, there was an effort.

She looks through her pictures in the few minutes left before having to get in the shower, do her hair which she’s in no mood to do, more than likely will just tie it up, back.  One, of a boy playing with a soccer ball in an alley to the side of his family’s restaurant.. another, of a spilt garbage can, a rat approaching cautiously— last, of an elderly couple, man with his arm around his wife, but neither smiling, police car blurred behind them.   She closes her binder, laptop, writes a note to herself, “More street material, what the streets have in them, on them, what they’re made of.” She takes one more look at the binder, sees the shot of the old church on that one street, can’t remember the name— then her phone jerks, message: “can u come in early, trisha didnt show thx”.  Her eyes, roll, roll, breath, to shower.


Had the Madigans over tonight.  So of course, much wine.  And me, the writer, so behind on things I’ve written and have to publish, or post to this blog.  Sipping the rest of this Sheldon Pinot— remember meeting Mr. Sheldon, on a day they weren’t open and he being the welcoming chap he was, is, letting me in to taste wine, joking he was going to put me to work, help him carry the bottles over to a makeshift tasting area— feel like Kerouac about to finish  novel—  Wine, I’m realizing is more than just a thematic anchor— it’s all.

After a second day

in the tasting room, and about to fly into another new week, post-xmas and right before the new year, I realize that I need to start with whatever resolutions I have planned for myself.  And now.  Sooner than soon.  And not write them.  I’m distracted and have felt anxious all day in an odd way, so I open a beer and end this session when the beer’s gone and away.  No more of this bloody jitter.  I keep thinking of a book and all my future books and how I want them to be read, seen or studied and telling stories vs. writing random and so-much-in-the-moment poems, and I’m lost and lost, and so lost—  but the goal is still very much the same, my own winery, especially after today with Andy and Tony tasting the ’12 Cuvée and Tony saying he’s never tasted a “homemade wine” so impressive, and Andy (cellar worker, seasonal TR) saying it motivates him further to make his own wine come vintage next.

Stepped upstairs to check on Jackie, then back down, remembering earlier my daughter with eyes open, taking everything in, her fascination with light and simple objects that we all other wise reject or walk past, the symbols in her blanket, tells me to focus on one form.. prose.  Poetry, will be put on a certain rest, or hiatus, sabbatical.  I want to focus on my paragraphs and storytelling voice.  Yes, I’ll write a poem here and there but I want to continue with my stories; the adjunct, the father, the runner, winemaker, thinker and dreamer.. what Mike Massamen does when he wakes up and he so much wishes he were that person that could wake at some heinously early hour, like 4 or 5, and just start with his pages.. hitting the golden mark of 3, before 7AM.

My old friend Dav in town, from MO.  Not able to meet with him at the Kenwood Gastropub, having to stay here in home and grade the Fall ’15 submissions, submit grade, and prep for next term.  I can already see the ripples from the first day, that 7:30 English 5 section, the students will walk out not knowing what to think, knowing this will surely be the most encompassing and exciting English class they’ve ever taken, and WILL ever take.  Education needs to be about desire, more focus on what the students want, and that’s why I have to refuse lunch with Dav, as I need remain in my teaching vocality…  And you know, I should just write the first lecture.  Tonight.  Or, enough for 15 minutes.. a word for the day, a question, thoughts on Critical Thinking, and why we should just focus on the thinking and transference of those thoughts to paper, not so much in that sterile and medicinal word “critical”.  And, isn’t any thought worth writing of a certain ‘critical’ nature?  And what does the institution mean by CRITICAL?  Like, critical condition?  Being critical of something?  I’ll urge appetite for self-developed thought, seeking your own answers, deciding for Self.. true Personhood.


No time for one

of those extended prose progressions that I’d like to do, but I sit with img_0343wine, red, a single-vineyard Pinot taken home, only poured from a couple times and knowledge of certain winery operational specificities.  I think and think and think about my winery, the professor’s winery and how I’ll sell my bottles through narrative, through words, the radiant realism from the vineyard’s stakes, rows and cover crops.  I’m going everywhere right now, I admit, as this is glass 3, but I’m composed and writing where others might just vegetate in front of a screen, or just fall asleep or go to some bar— no time for such with my inner paragraphs that I can’t catch, that I can’t replicate, and I find I miss the weather, that weather we just had which Hem quickly dubbed as “bad”, I long for— the rain on the Autumn Walk pavement, and my travels to other states lecturing on literature and theory and journal practice.

I sip the Pinot, a ’13 Anderson Valley, and look ahead, just over the top of the laptop’s screen and see a bottle of the cuvée Blair and I made in ’12.. next vintage, my second Merlot, but I have to sell some of these writings, and yet no budget wiggleroom for printing— so, dilemma, crux of conflict and disposition of stall— what now, WHAT— my mood, favonian, but not for long, I’m sure.  I’m certain money and the reality of reality will have some way of scalpeling that from my sitting, walking or strolling through whatever block I tomorrow walk.  Had the vision of walking those crisped frozen rows on Wohler Road, off to left and right.  Why didn’t I stop?

Glasses and bottles today, a heavier crowd than any of us measured or saw coming through the doors, but it felt like a circle of sun around my senses being in the Room again, pouring and talking about the wines and the various Pinots and the ways they might talk to a sipper— the different sites reflected, and then again wine tells me to push onward, be both professor and writing, and winemaker, then the big brother in this writer shouts, “Yeah, teach your winemaker sister a thing or two…”

Both babies asleep, and I hope they enjoy, as I want them to be rested for the days they have to charm people in the tasting room.  And yes, part of me’s joking but the other quite punctuated in my purpose and purposeful poise in the end-game of a winery.  And so many call me crazy, even my sister, the other night when I asked her “So when are you starting your own label?” She back-jabbed, “Never.  I don’t want to pay my own bills.  I have someone else paying my bills now, and it’s nice.” I understand, she’s timid in the entrepreneurial wingspread, and so many are.  But not me.  I don’t want my little Beats to see me as a hesitater or some figure who talks but jamais walks.

This is more than I expected to write and I have to thank this Pinot and Arista, and Tony for letting me take this bottle.  These people don’t know that little echoes and ripple in the peregrination pond so much affect and push, shove the writer.  Especially a writer like me.  I stare at what’s left tin the glass, this Pinot.  Probably a 2-3 ounce pour.  And I just look at it, the low light of the office with Gothic suggestion and a certain grimly cloaked layer to its nuance roster, profile or whatever, and get lost in my stare.  And it marvels a certain sound, song, talking to me in its visual, and it knows I’m a writer staring at it, this ’13 Ferrington, telling me to walk the rows and see such frost and breath the Anderson Valley air.  Forget obligation and bills and schedules.  This is why wine is such a lens in my writing, and like today in the tasting room watching first-time visitors walk in and not knowing what to expect but are pleasurably confronted by wines that say something, that have a distinguishable voice and narrative, that tell a story and cement a certain savory thesis.  Again, more than I thought I’d be greeted with.  I peek around the corner, see my daughter resting on Alice’s chest.  The winery’s near.  I just need certain wheels to turn a certain way.  Then all from the dream’s to be obeyed.

But I need that rain again.