Life will be here today, tomorrow, and tomorrow’s tomorrow… But we should be charging at life with such urgency that we don’t notice time.
I just this last semester and the semester before posed to the students, “What do most Human Beings want, more than anything?” Some would just as quickly, if not quicker than I asked the question, respond, “‘LOVE!’”, or “success… family… happiness…” But more than any singular word or idea, I heard “Freedom.” This made me ask them more questions— to define it, paint a picture of this freedom, and why ‘freedom’ over anything else. One student said you experience freedom in all the aforementioned. Then me, the instructor of record started to think about freedom and writing, how much freedom we experience through writing and reading, our studies… And, why freewriting is so revered by myself and other instructors in the compositional process. Writing freely does provide this abolition, but in no way is it absolute.
When we feel free, we don’t worry. We don’t overthink, we don’t fear, we don’t measure obsessively and excessively before acting. We just act, we just create and express ourselves without any worry and see more in ourselves that we perhaps did prior. Freedom, liberty, sovereignty, autonomy… pick your synonym or aligned word-idea… is something many around the world fight for. They take up arms as they’re convinced it’s something they deserve as Human Beings. More than being entitled to it, it should just be there in the picture. As writers, readers, thinkers, we should never feel chained or subdued, under even the slightest sliver of duress. We should continue our progress, our struggle for this liberty and abolition, and examine our characters chapter-to-chapter.
We all want freedom. We all want to not just perpetually live in a free state but FEEL free. The same is true in multiple milieus with art, writing or any other mode. To be free is to be alive, and to write and think freely is to redefine our own lives. When we learn, we should feel free. Even when we feel free, we should understand our free disposition and atmosphere so we can better understand it. And maintain it. Freedom should never be just expected or taken for granted or have anything to do with complacency. Why do so many want to be self-employed? Why do so many look forward to days off, or going for a run, or some aimless cruise along the coast, or in the Redwoods? They want to taste that consistency of Freedom. They want the picture… they want to be IN the picture. They want it. WE, want it. Need it. Will chase it. Should always be chasing it, even if we’ve attained it. It’s not assured, or guaranteed. And certainly, not absolute.
But, mind you, there will be work to get to this free forum, externally and internally. Frederick Douglass wrote, “Without a struggle, there can be no progress.” You should expect struggle. In the process of holding your liberty, as well as when you act within it. Again, freedom must be maintained and fought for. In the coming semester, I see an examination of Freedom as being an elevated aim of the class. All writers, in one shape or spectrum or another, tussle with the idea of freedom. As readers, we learn from this. How to acquire our own and how to avoid whatever strides to block us from it. Progressing toward our liberty is freeing to itself— having your space, your unchained and uncaged perpetuation, that merely continues the peregrination. Freedom is not a stop— It’s not a destination or dock. It’s a launch. It’s an invitation and lens. Then, we have another crossing. Then, we may be closer to our absolution. It is a picture, but the visual must forever be motioned.
Thinking of what to do next…
Enjoying the act of thinking.
No aim or end in mind.
I need a travel, not a dock.
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.
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!
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.
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.