Finished grading a stack of papers, more or less ready— NO, I’m immensely ready for today’s meetings. Going to focus on the essay itself… what writing an essay is, what it can do, why it’s an important skill and why its a type of engagement for readers they won’t find in other forms, or genres. At the head of the conference ’T’ of tables here in the, well, conference room. One adjunct earlier, an older man, said to me, “Still workin’ there, huh?” Didn’t so much take it as an insult as I did a beacon of recognition. I told him in my caffeinated return, “Yep.. I don’t like the cell they stick us in.” Could hear him laugh.
On campus and ready for work, ready to teach, read to forget about my odd feeling, Monday. Today I’m confident, and fiery. Ready for discussion. On the essay, poetry, poetry in prose, be it essay or fictive narration… lots to offer, today. Will get a water on the way to the old hall where I hold class. I’m in Literary mode, today. Nothing ‘wine’ about me. I’m here to learn, to be one of them, to be a student, to be brave and creative. The day is always a puzzle, or how I see it. Writing my way through temptations to be distracted, be it by social media, or TV, the internet, talking to someone… I just situate in the page, my page, pages… these inward jots are invaluable, a curse, a cure, a direction, a life sentence.
Need to stay more on top of grading. It’s my cross, I tell myself that every term. But this term will be antithetical and the one that gets me to the Road, to my travels. Took some notes earlier, just quick jots to self on phone after brushing teeth back at the Autumn Walk Studio.
Freedom, you’re already free, you just have to accept that you’re free.
3000 words, a gift to yourself…
book, where is the fucking book?
Need more coffee, this one’s already cold, what would I do if I didn’t have coffee?
BUY SOME NEW BOOKS— NO, READ ONE YOU ALREADY HAVE.
Walking in nine minutes, so I have to post what I have, I guess. Told my students there’s always enough time in the day now I’m starting to disagree with my offering. Shouldn’t do that. Believe it. Believe it! I have plenty of time I just can’t stop and I will keep myself in a mode of this, thinking, note-taking, inwardly inner-inward jots. The most intimate phylum of writing I can wield.
Teacher down the hall offering such sagacity to one of his students. Or that’s how his voice sounds in its echo, so self-assured and righteous and right. No flaw or curve in his logic, just polished sageness. Annoys me, honestly. What ever happened to humility? To discovery? What if the teacher’s wrong? What if there isn’t one way to compose and essay? How can there be? The teacher could always be wrong, there is never one way to do anything, so there can’t be not matter how you frame it.
The essay.. the essay. Stayed away from that word for some time, if you must know. Preferred the word “submission” to use with students, or “piece”, or “work”. Now I embrace the essay and its anatomical philosophy and intonation. I’m on a roll, you could say today, with my jots and sight, eagerness… the students won’t know what hit them. Not hit, but embraced. Collect myself, for a breath or two. Fly.
Day 02, April 21, 2017, Friday — Finally. Seated for morning thousand and poem. Day two of the project that should get me to my traveling and teaching in various zones and states, universities and, or, wherever. At Dry Creek again… workers around me rearranging, and its especially cold in here— sleeves once up now down. Quite a morning, with getting babies to school in molasses traffic, seeing one accident off to right, Jackie asking me “What happened, Dada?” Me just saying, “You need to drive safe.” A delivery man in front of me, bringing something to door that leads to back room, me trying to concentrate, cyclists on Dry Creek Road and a herd of them feeding outside, just in that side area by the driveway. Feel so rushed this morning. I somewhat understand why, and then part of me is utterly clueless. It’s 08:54 in this breath, and I have more than 30 minutes to myself— to write, collect, promote, tell my story and have time to self (which these thousand words are often about, anyway). Can’t tell what it is. But either way, I’m writing through it. Should be irregularly busy and sped today, with only myself and one other, J, behind bar. Just have to be quick. Wore old pair of running shoes today… so I’ll be in runner mode while pouring and getting shipments, getting other wines we need from back room or barrel hall.
Too many people around me right now. I should go. Write in my car somewhere, or just go to winery and write at one of the desks. NO. IF I’m to learn anything from this, it’s to write through distraction and less-than-beaming conditions. First coffee sip, and I’m disciplining myself further. Heard steps and lifted my head, girl saying ‘hi’ to me with that phony smile, or obligatory lip-up curvature, and me returning. Don’t do that. Just write. This is your time— the morning. After this your time is shared, commissioned. Wake early, work early, for you…. Scone. Blueberry again. Asked about the breakfast burrito and the lady said it was close to eight dollars, or certainly over seven. Yeah, not for this writer. There’s the budget, but I want to be less comfortable when I write. “A writer warrior”, one person said in a note to me. Well, no. Just a writer. A serious writer— disciplined, firm, unrelenting, ardent and entrenched.
Cold still, but the people around me have left. To take a break? I don’t know. No breaks for me. I cross the 09:00 border. Write quicker, with more poetic hue and form. Read that Ezra Pound piece yesterday with class, “Before Sleep” I think it’s called. I clung to his words and repetition, use of mythological reference and line breaks. My form adds more poetic walk and color, as I age. Why? I’m crying less. I’m not trying to be marketable. If I’m truthful to everything around and in my character then it’ll sell. I’ll be moving. But that’s the real priority, money. MY apexing aim is FREEDOM.
Blueberry scone. Not as amusing this morning. Not looking at phone, or doing any marketing in this sitting. Just the sitting. Starting to love this store as a writing base. What will this project look like when it’s done, this 2nd project? The first one started with me biblically aggravated with money, work, myself.. everything around me. But I thought while driving up here, somewhere on the Windsor-Healdsburg border, again, that I have everything I need. I’m not going to acquire the home I want with a teaching job, and certainly not working in the wine industry. So, stay where you are… combine the two. Make a story out of that— or rather, keep building the story from that, just intensify. Test yourself. Only answer. In fact it’s not just an answer or a key or a solution— but a healing self-actuation. Tourist walks by in workout clothes. Not sure she’s one of the biker group, but she’s slow, deliberate, looking at everything on the shelves as though she’s never been here. With such curiosity and analytical lean, tightened eyes and inner-speak. Wonder what she’s thinking. Would love to know, not only what it’s like to be somewhere for the first time, but to be eased… not pressured by time. But I am and this is the writer’s story— this writing father. The cool air in this this structure and lowered the coffee’s temp. I write faster but become strangely relaxed, like I’m on vacation. Maybe I should get one of those burritos, or a sandwich for lunch later. No… still have quite a continent of scone remaining.
My goddamn backpack. Promised myself, and you I think, reader, that I’d empty it. Tonight, after gym, avowed. But I could be jinxing myself with that oath. Well, just know I’m thinking about consolidation and not having to haul this fucking this around. Hemingway just carried a couple notebooks and pencils, in ‘Feast’. That’s how I need be. Today at lunch.. no laptop. Well, it’ll be dead by then, right now only showing 29% support in its anatomy. So me.. writing.. not so much typing after these morning thousand. So let’s see… 28 days from now will be…. can’t afford time to check, but let’s just say 30. May 21st, about. Just on the doorstep of age 38. God. Damn. It. And time itself for that matter.
09:15. Only 15 minutes till scheduled departure from my long, rustic, grainy wood surface here in the aorta of the store. Forget the time… and it won’t take me a half-hour to get to the winery. I should get there early, though. See? That’s my problem. Need be earlier, for everything. Ahead of schedule… with passing back papers, writing deadlines, waking up to write or run, or both— everything earlier. Finally seated, but only to get back up. That’s how it goes in the morning and the beauty of this project— that even with my constricted time mitt, I manage a thousand words and a poem. Didn’t have that condition going into day one, but here it be decreed. Thousand words, one poem, in earliest A.M. I can compose.
And into the day the writer blazes… An Ezra. Free.
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.
Stare it down.
Charge at it.
Remind it that you’re YOU,
and it is
only an ‘it’.
Starting Friday morning with learning, learning from everything around me when I woke, which at first was 4-something for the wind outside from this most recent “storm”…. It teaching me to wake myself up, to wake up others, see the special snappiness in each day. To “just live your day. Stop complaining.” As I wrote earlier. Life is too short for complaining, for wondering. It’s for wandering, for exploring, for galavanting in your thoughts, in your creative, in your curiosities. Went back to sleep for a couple but woke feeling my own storm— this creative expansiveness that will determine the remaining days of my days.
Today, we have a new president. And all over social media I see people grieving, posting angry angles and attitudes rather than focusing on themselves. I did not vote for this newest leader. But, he is the president now. And me, I’m going to continue living. I have things I haven’t even thought yet that need me with a more than accepting mind when the ideas land. I need to be more of a Me than I’ve ever been, for my family— my babies and wife, parents, sister. For ME. Today is the day that needs my profusely passionate focus and creative acumen. No gripe, no complaints, no sulk from this scribbler.
Now at a local Starbucks as I usually am, typing and listening to a relaxing track by Shapeshifter, “Soulstice” (one of my favorite tracks of theirs), and reminded by my current placement in this coffee hut that I can have anything I want, regardless of who’s president. This is a time for me think, mornings like this and every morning, for me exclusively, yes right now, but for all of us. “Start every day like this,” I note to myself. Looking around, seeing people talking, going on about their day with the story of the storm outside, but bringing them in… connectedness in all scenic ingredients. Swearing to self that I’m getting what I want. Do the same for yourself. And every morning. Not just the day before the weekend.
off to errands, and other to-do’s. Can’t get used to this, though. Having the whole day to self after class. My days off must remain Sunday, Monday. OR, I could switch to Sunday, Tuesday. That’s an idea. Think I have too much idea about me this morning. Starting to tire. May take a nap or not– could use breakfast. Treat myself this first day of the semester? Sure… But, have to drop off laptop, get books. Fuck, hate spending money. But I have to. Coffee wearing off and I don’t want anymore, shouldn’t have anymore if I even think a nap is on my priority map.
Need to be done on this laptop. Need to move.
Will stay up late tonight prepping, for again a semester to hopefully end all semesters. Up early tomorrow to get coffee for class… already have quote cured, MLK… which one don’t know. But away I go. Into Spring ’17…
Character in the Wait
The windshield, thick slab of stubborn ice that didn’t want to budge anymore than I wanted to leave the comforts of Autumn Walk and drive 25 minutes north to Geyserville. Turning on the car, turning on the heater full-blast, even running the wipers and nothing would move. No little chunks of ice, no thin moving contents of slush. NOTHING. So I sat there, exercised an unusually and rare intensity of patience. It felt amazing. I found myself more centered and ready for the day. True, my impatience was seismic in that I couldn’t wait for a mocha (this morning with the lower-than-usual temperatures, needed 4 shots), and cruise to the winery with my music. But, I waited, waited. And finally, it started to separate.
Why do we get so impatient? Why can’t Human Beings have a healthy pattern and practice when it comes to waiting? And what was I so impatient for? I later thought this, mind you. “Is Starbucks going anywhere? … Is the winery going anywhere?” No to both. So I used the stall as a sort of exercise and icebox meditation for the sake of learning patience and more steady composure— I lecture on Composition at the college as it pertains to literature, but it’s more imperative with Personhood, one’s mentality and mood, attitude.
As I drove away with the last bits of silt-like ice being pushed off by the long rubber arms, I thought about the New Year about to land in less than 48 hours, and how to satisfy the aims I now have in place, patience and immediate composition of my character need be abundantly actuated. It’s the ice’s definition and trenchant tangibility that got to me. I should have learned from its fortitude initially, rather than let it unravel and unnerve me. Now that I’m at work, here at my desk looking out at frozen vines or vines with melting ice on them, sipping these 4 cozy shots of espresso, I know already about the New Year. I know where I’m going, I know what it’s meant to do and I’m the one assigning the meaning. That glacial windshield gifted me with these thoughts, the meditation that followed me up Dry Creek Road in my Passat and here to the desk, to tapping on this laptop’s keys.
Because of the ice, and that wait, I’m composed. All departments of my thinking relate to each other logically. Eager to start, to go, to fly through the next eight or so hours with my wild yay-yelling roar. I didn’t expect to see the windshield that way, still. If you want candor from the writer, I expected to forget about it. But, as I noted, it followed me to Geyserville. I just walked to the other part of the property, another building to note something somewhere, and I took a picture of a row with ice atop its skin, melting. The peace there, right in front of those dormant canes assured and reassured me about the coming year, about how I interpret the metonym of the ice sheet— It was a sheet meant to comfort me, counsel and teach me more about me and my moods and how I perceive the world and myself in it. Going into 2017, and past that. Patience… Composition… Composure…..