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.

me: 9/21/16

Won’t lie, I’m starting to tire with less than an hour till 1A starts.  The 13.1 is making itself known to me, and reminds me that such distance comes with a cost.  I do, though, have a refill of coffee in the tumbler, a sparkling water, and a cranberry muffin from the caf’.  Ordered a blueberry but they were out, the kid not telling me till after I paid and I had to choose between this and poppyseed, chocolate, and one other that in no way sounded like me.  So now, I wait till 1A.  Reflect on the morning, and I will make that sheet for the morning run, establishing it as a template for future runs— everything from distance of course, to time and calories, area of run, pains, thoughts while on run, stretches before and after, everything I can think of but not going beyond a page.

Tonight, another no-wine.  Have tons to write and inventory, and finally, FINALLY, going to put a small MS together to sell.  I’ll sell it over social media somehow, and in person of course.  Positive words and thoughts and prompts for readers, stressing Wellness and Composition of self.  Not sure of the exact shape it will take, but I have more or less an idea, a general idea of its “category”.  Or audience (probably a better word, and way to think of its intentions).  As well, tonight, I’m hoping to clear my desk.  And before you say it, I know, I always say that.  Tonight, do note, I have vicious intentions of doing so.  And, write the students…  AND, teaching blog, post something.  So much I want to do and say, and I know I’m getting close to the my travels and widespread independent work.  Told myself this morning while on the run, as I closed in on 13.1, that if I finish a ‘half’ this morning, then I can have anything I want from life.  Blogging with much more syndication and circulation, travel, my vacation home in Carmel, new car for family and me, get rid of all debt.  Anything.  That run this morning shaped the day, and while I am tired I’m more so inspired, newly re-wired.

First sip from coffee, and I feel nothing really.  Only a zen.  Look around this shared adjunct office, and feel even more placid consistency about me.  Getting distracted by all the sounds in the hallway, the flushing toilet out my door and down hall, left.  Loudest toilet in America, I’m sure.  Maybe even North America.  It’s so loud I still get startled when I’m in there and flush.  Wow, what an interesting direction to take my freewrite.  Toilets.  Topic next…  More reflection on day, the English 100 class went wonderfully.  Loud, communicative and impassioned.  Need to write more for both classes, I know.  That’s what tonight’s for.  I’m going to put every goddamn drop of ME into my teaching and instructional writings.  The other basket that has eggs, will be forced to surrender them.  They belong somewhere else.

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?

Two sips form tumbler.  And I’m off. 

Like the races.  Working at this hour like a former student who transports beer in those huge 18-wheeler trucks, all over the state.  ‘Mr. A’ I’ve dubbed him in a past entry or two, around the time Spring ’15 ended.  Yes, I decided looking at the time, and what wondrous victory for me in this day, and in this point in my life where I’m putting all existential eggs into the basket of writing, teaching, sharing ideas through writing and my push toward Total Wellness—  I’m up, I’ll stay up.  I have work to do.  I would invite any of my students to try this, wake at some painfully ungodly hour and write.  Just see what surfaces.  Again, for me it’s especially valuable as a writing father, having this time is better than money.. this time is a special tier of health.  But anyway, just try it, see what happens.

Can’t believe I brought myself to finally sip the coffee.  I had the usual stare-down with the mouthpiece of the tumbler, thinking “Shit do I really want to do this?  Once I sip, I’m up the rest of the day.” In the few past mornings when up at this hour, I backed down to that sight of the tumbler’s lip.  But not today.  Today I’m one of those Indy cars.  Testing my speed, testing myself, seeing what I can do, if I can surprise myself.  Even though this is time to Self, I’m still in daddy mode.  I’m always in daddy mode, with heightened hearing and sensitivity to the environment.  So realized, I think I heard Jackie upstairs.  Is he awake?  Not after the busy fun day he had at the track with us, right?  I have to leave the sitting, go inspect.  One more sip of coffee first.  Maybe 2…

Made it to the top of the stairs, heard nothing.  Maybe the early hour’s giving me too much sensory sensitivity.  After those two sips, I’m most amazingly like those cars yesterday.  Upshifting and downshifting, taking tight turns, dodging other cars.  Metaphor obvious, me here on this uncomfortable couch, seeing more about myself than I did yesterday, or the days and years before.  I’m sure some editor at some piggy publishing house, if they even read this and not tossed to trash, would dismiss my moments here in the dark, at the 4AM intersection.  Probably write it off as ‘unmarketable’, or something.  Ugh, “How would we market it, Jim?” I can hear some exec as his fellow exec.  They think about it for a second if at all then pour themselves some Scotch at 1PM, talk about their stock portfolios or where they’re taking their mistresses next weekend on the “business trip”.  Sickens me that this mold of character and attitude-fold could run the publishing world.  But you know what, I don’t care what kind of dragons keep it, the business.  They can bloody keep it.  I’m starting my own.  Two more sips.  Toast.  To day.  To me.  To the quiet.  To other writing parents.  To all whirls and riles positive.

After two more sips, I start to regret taking the others.  Why?  What would sleep do?  What would it accomplish?  What would it get done?  Can you write in your sleep?  Can you plan in your bloody dreams (Well, maybe I can…)?  I did the right thing.  5:02 now, and I’m more awake than when the alarm sounded, that’s certain.  No light outside, at all.  Not even a hint that it’s the 17th of September.  The day’s born but not, not as I see it.  I’m in a limbo now, both physical with the light and sensory deprivation but with ideas, with action—  “Drink more fucking coffee,” I tell myself.  Okay, I reason, “I will.” There, easy fix.  And now what.  Be like those speeding cars, with that high piercing, chilling hum as they by you dart.  I’m trying, trying.

Had the idea yesterday, surrounded by all those photographers and photojournalists, and just guys hired by whatever organization to walk around with huge expensive cameras and take shots of wheels and pit crews, obviously the cars and parts, the track— that I should put more creative voltage into my photog.  Not sure how or precisely for what end, but to take pictures more seriously.  Make a business out of it.—  Hear Emma upstairs.. daddy mode.

Now downstairs with my youngest.  I type on the floor with her as she plays with her brother’s cars.  She’s not hungry, just wants to play, have a little company in this early hour.  She keeps putting the cars in her mouth and I say in a Disney voice of some kind, high pitch and low volume, “No no noooo…” She smiles at me as if to say “Ha, papa, you can’t order me around!” She’s right, obviously.  She repeats and repeats, repeats the repeats, and now it’s not just repetition or some sort of redundant act.  This is purposeful and emphatic, a stark reiteration.

Still dark outside.  Emma lights up this room with her curiosity and laugh and funny sounds.  Glad now I had all those coffee sips and/or that I started sipping to begin with.  Now I have NO option but to awake stay, with little Emma Cat play, go further into the day.  Race car daddy, writer and thinker, planner.  And what an ample invite for some photography, little Emma as my impromptu model…  Just took one picture, but I want to let her play, just watch her enjoy this early quiet hour like her daddy.  Surprised to see her this active so early, honestly.  She’ll last for about an hour and a half, tops, then I’ll lay her back down in our room.  Now she reads one of Jackie’s books, a Star Wars type that make sounds from the movie and engages the “reader” in plot development and character presence.  But that’s probably how I’m seeing it, frankly, as a professor, or instructor, or teacher.