volume 14 of in america: 2007-2008 september-march  work & days: a lifetime journal project  

 

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Southern California winter. Technical study, learning the software that comes with my new computer. Continuing to think about the Dames rocket time. College politics painful but there's one student who's a stunning writer. Part 1 San Diego's back country burns. Part 3 fac in my program demand I censor journal passages about the college. Part 4 Christmas in Joshua Tree with Tom. Part 5 go to Burbank to digitize Notes in origin and Current and have many other technical ordeals. Part 6 winter residency in VT.

Notes: Emilee Baum, Gordon Smith The oak lady, Alexander McCall Smith Morality for beautiful girls, Woolf Room of one's own, Von Franz The feminine in fairy tales, sky facts, Redgrove The dark goddess and the unseen real, Tim Stephens Astral reflections, Elizabeth Mayer Extraordinary knowledge, Helen Palmer, clouds, Murchie Music of the spheres, shamanic systems.

Mentioned: Peter MacIlvaine, Tom Fendler, Larissa Lai, Jorge Ruiz, Nicky Hamlyn, Pablo de Ocampo, Rowen, Al Davalos, Leo Feingold, Shon Workman, Lily Epp, Wilhelm John Martens, Campbell Ross.

Cafe Bassam, Rancho Mission Drive, Qualberto's Mexican Food in Kearny Mesa, Black Canyon Road, Antique Row Café in Pacific Heights, Park Manor Hotel, Lafayette Hotel on El Cajon, RCP Block and Brick in Lemon Grove, Rancho Dolores Motel in 29 Palms, High Desert Motel in Joshua Tree, La Contenta Road, Pacific Surf Inn in Leucadia, Moonlight Beach, Amtrak to LA, Smoke House Restaurant and Modern Videofilm Services in Burbank, Hollywood Boulevard, Denny's on Pacific Highway, Lindberg Field.

In the valley of Elah, Doris Lessing winning the Nobel, Ladanian Thomlinson, Mongolian ping-pong, San Diego Chargers, Gwen Ifel interviewing Ehud Olmert, James Turrell, the Lightning Field, Lu Chuan Mountain patrol, Half Life, Nikon ftn, Nikon D50, The golden compass, Whales of the Arctic, Mary Frank, Helen Mirren in the last episode of Prime Suspect, Jane Eyre on PBS, La Cie hard drive, Democratic primary debates, Mac geniuses at the Apple store, John Edwards, The march of the penguins, Madge Herron obit in the Guardian, Elizabeth Angell of Verbal privilege, Open Society Institute, Quarterlife, Circle Lo, Kenner The Pound era, Irene Pepperberg and Alex the grey parrot.

1 October 2007

Have thought I should do something about the way I often am not present. I notice it in the way I don't want to write. I should say I notice it sometimes when I wake and think of things I could want to write and haven't thought to. It is as if an interested person returns during sleep and then very quickly is wiped out.

For instance the man I bought the jeep from was and wasn't a dwarf. He was maybe 5' tall but he had the dwarf shape of skull, large, with a flat top and thick bone bulging forward over large eyes. A nice smile.

I arrived at Rancho Mission Drive for my 5:15 appointment with a taxi driver who got involved with the jeep-buying story, advised me to offer a couple of hundred less than asking price, the kind Tom calls a camel trader. As he was leaving he said "I think you gonna buy it" and wished me luck. I liked the jeep though not really the color; I liked his thick bundle of maintenance records and how immaculate it was underneath; I liked how clean the paint was; it looked cossetted. Next day at noon in the Bank of America parking lot we signed the pink slip and I drove it away.

2

Second packets are in. I read Emilee's with bits of tears. There she was, brilliant and immediate, starved the way brilliant women are.

10

Writing Emilee yesterday saying the isolation of coming to know what other people don't know is worth it because of the satisfaction of no longer being divided against oneself. She's where I was isn't she, longing for her capacity. She doesn't want to leave the people she has but she's more than they are. I took that fence when I came to it. Susan doesn't leave them, she goes ahead and overwhelms them. Emilee couldn't do that, she's too scrupulous. That means never having free energy. Drinking allows free energy but with diminished capacity, so it doesn't come across as large. That makes it safe. There's the other fear too, that if one comes across as large one will be stuck in never being able to be small. That's a misunderstanding because being truly and not falsely powerful depends on and can accommodate all the being small there actually is. I mean the early smallness not the held-back smallness.

Margo's letter to the fac said one of the things she was being fired for was "a situation that came up with an ADA student" that Sue thought she had mishandled, "endangering the college." That was Millie's mischief. I was frightened seeing it. And yet I don't regret what I did with Millie. That work is, the record of it is, still able to inspire people into more freedom and realness. But the thought that I'd got Margo fired is horrifying, because she has been the soul of what's right with the program. She has been backing everything courageous and hopeful.

She refused to write me up. But Jane wrote her up. Fear of being pushed out again by the small minded frightened ass-coverers.

Was feeling yesterday how no one, none of the fac, none of the students, even Susan in her testimonial, talk about the gift my radical reframing is to them or the college. Susan talks about "nurturing, intelligent close reading" but the most important thing she got was the reframing that let her think accurately and that is her major cachet and credibility at Kripalu. It's why I'm grieved that she was as attached to Lise and Jim, who gave her so much less.

This is the crux of something.

I have been thinking it would be a relief to be fired so I would be forced to do something else.

19

Want to say how since I looked through the 430 Google finds for 'embodiment studies' I feel disgusted with it and want nothing more to do with it. It's shaping into something much less radical, a fad. I'm also disgusted to think that I might have currency at [the college] because of that flurry, with no one even now having a clue of what I've done.

The mediocrity of [the college]. The way I have to discount any praise because everyone praises as a policy. Reading advising letters from Karen and Caryn annoyed by the false modesty. Both declare how much they are always learning from all their students - sickening - as bad in Karen who may actually feel it - sickening assumption that communication has to be false - they don't allow themselves strong writing [in the letters]. They do good work, they work hard, they address student work in detail, but their self-effacing tone perpetuates that tone. Margo telling me to be more humble and diffident. It's vile.

22

Then I stepped out into a hot wind. Tom was polishing his bike inside. I said "There's a Santa Ana." He said "I've been wondering why I was feeling 16 years old."

I went home for a while to work on Dames rocket and when Tom came to fetch me at 5 there was smoke in the air. A fire in Malibu he said. We rode to his place through the succulent garden in Balboa Park. Blue plants with a white bloom on them in creamy pink light. Later we were watching continuing coverage, a fire on 94 near Tecate, another that began at Witch Creek and was spreading rapidly toward Ramona and then the San Pasqual Valley. High winds. Long streamers of flame, pine trees writhing in the fire's way. Tom watching beside me in journalist's excitement. The whole town of Ramona evacuated. San Diego's lesbian fire chief at the podium. Buildings in flames with no fire men to be seen.

Riding with Tom alongside the zoo parking lot, scents concentrated in the dry air. Something sweet and particular, a dirty bush with dried out white flowers.

Riding home after supper on a sidewalk in North Park, sensing little heat zones with the sides of my face and arm - something still holding day's temperature.

23

Tuesday morning. The Union and LA Times with fires on their front page. Beautiful photos. Fire festival.

24

This work took me by surprise this packet, and it began with your response, a dream, and a sense of someone I used to know, a me that I had somehow forgotten.

There were some things in your response that hit me like a brick, the rightness of it, the good sense of it. Like being whacked on the head with an aha stick, clean on the first pass. You are right that I have found this work, shred by shred, laborious . It is labor-intensive, but it is very satisfying work. I am very thankful for the matched intensity that you respond with.

This is how you do this kind of work. This is how you do this kind of work.

I am having a hard time writing that paper because that is not my voice.

Wow.

24

After the conference call disgusted by Margo pressing a social activism concentration - why - because embodiment studies is better founded conceptually, more prepared, more participated in, more articulated, than the concentrations we have. They don't want it. They marginalize it. They ignore the magazine, the website. They want to envision something conventional that actually has less social significance. I conclude that I should find somewhere else for embodiment studies and just move it, website, magazine, workshops, everything. And then I think but no I don't want to be Miz mbo somewhere, I want to be recognized where I am.

25

Writing the dream many considerations offside. I notice secondary elaboration - something that happens in the dream because the dreamer is puzzled about what's happening - trying to figure it out. Have wondered whether to leave it out of the account and try to keep the significant core, but it's more as if the dream is composed that way, by event, and then response to that event, led along by the dreamer's thoughts, for instance the way when I saw the woman leave by a short tunnel.

What I was thinking when I sighed, above, was something about latent content of daylight events, for instance the way our phone connection was so broken up yesterday. Margo's cell this time and last time was breaking up painfully. I was thinking awareness of that sort of significance is underworld. What I'm thinking now is that if I don't pay attention to that the way I sometimes have because I don't want to get further into where I am. I don't want to be where I am. When I was up north I was where I wanted to be. I don't want to be with [the college] people. The evidence is I don't want to be with Tom. I don't want to be in San Diego. The evidence is I don't want to be with Tom because I don't attend to anything when I'm with him. He doesn't either, with me. I also can't just leave. I've wedged myself into this circumstance by carelessness. That means I'm sentenced to superficiality. Is it getting worse? No, it's holding. In the overlap of times I carried the habit of attention, I could carry it, for some time. But I'm habituated now.

'Art' to me means that attention.

-

On the news just now, a meeting as the shuttle docks at the space station, of two women who are each commander of their mission.

30

Early Monday I woke before dawn. Tom was still asleep. The blind was up. I saw the first pink on an array of little clods. First bird cries. And then through to full flamingo over bright turquoise. Went out in white pyjamas and bare feet to buy the paper for Tom.

On Sunday aft he was on his bed reading and I was creeping around the edges of the room with a can of Orange Pledge.

31

Susan for a few minutes this morning bubbling about what it's like coming into the city on the train, which enters underground. It's very noisy and on the many parallel tracks other trains moving at many different speeds carry people in lit spaces silently. (Something like that.) And then a teenage boy talking to another boy about how you need to be in yourself to make girls like you. She was marveling to be hearing such relevant talk and marveling to see his gestures, which were being performed from the same system as his speech, and which were completely unlike the gestures of people in the Berkshires. He was black, his culture was the very latest. This in the context of talking about how we are environments. I was saying we become them. In my six years I became London.

Reminds me to write down Luke's story about a night in New York when he was there this September. He was walking, arrived in Times Square at three in the morning. A street person said to him "Pavarotti just died." Luke said "I have him on my phone." They stood and listened together.

2 November

I go down to the well the place where I dip into cold, clear darkness.

He had cut his lips, a dozen tiny cuts that bled in comic rivulets between his teeth and down his boy's chin.

"You are Emilee for Everybody" he said. "You must be so fucking proud."

It was already snowing and he stood there ... He stood in the middle of the street with his hand over his heart.

Emilee is a writer, has been from 14. She's a pleaser too, more than I am. Is that going to work for her. Being an outsider like I am is not the only way.

Her story is amazingly strong and relevant. Could she really tell it. She'd be talking for many. If she could really say what drugs are and what boy and girl are - she could honor what he was, which is extraordinary. He gave her his extreme realness of male vulnerability. She would have to tell it so it remains ambiguous whether she was using him or whether she was his victim. The parable she wrote at 15, of herself turning into a dragon: that was very strong. She's less strong in it now I think.

The man she wants now and how clearly she is writing him.

At the same time her social accommodations of people who wouldn't like to see how much smarter she is.

-

I'm in Café Bassam with paper napkin stuffed in my right ear and holding the other shut with my left finger. Bassam has come back and has cranked the volume, it's Piaf and strings. What makes this music so bad. It's nationalistic sentimentality, the kind of emoting that feels good to people who normally don't feel. Overblown conventionality.

3

Having to write res lecture blurbs. Will do Theory because it's the program review and it will make M happy. And then will do two sessions of Spirit as body and see if I can work it as an example of a challenge to a theory. Theory revision, paradigm revision.

Spirit as body I: the argument
Spirit as body III: the sky

Teaching philosophical heuristics - new motions of thought (what is philosophy - metacognition - troubleshooting).

About the sky - theory and experience - we've evolved to be related to it - small animals' fear and awareness.

5

Black Canyon Road yesterday. It is completely burnt. Off Mesa Grande Road there's one finger of the Witch Creek fire that almost reaches, we could look down into it, black and ashed. And then on Black Canyon Road the main burn area begins in the oak grove before the track begins to drop. And then except sometimes a small streak of color along the creek, land burnt completely naked. Boulders graphite-colored, dirt red, yellow or buff in the cuts and elsewhere grey. No manzanita, ceanothus. Not one stalk of white sage on the roadside.

We stopped halfway down. I was sitting on a bank of earth looking across at a whole naked mountain. Two hawks were drifting over nothing edible. Silence. The air's perfect touch on my arm, warm, slight. Graphite, buff, that pale fox-red. Single black skeletons of shrubs. Slight smell of smoke, nothing aromatic.

10th

But there may be some state of mind in which one could continue without effort because nothing is required to be held back. Coleridge meant, perhaps, that the androgynous mind is resonant and porous; that it transmits emotion without impediment; that it is naturally creative, incandescent and undivided. When one takes a sentence of Coleridge into the mind, it explodes and gives birth to all kinds of other ideas ... one blushes at all these capital letters as if one had been caught eavesdropping at some purely masculine orgy ... their qualities seem to a woman, if one may generalize, crude and immature. In a question like this truth is only to be had by laying together many varieties of error.

Here I'm crying in Café Bassam because she mentions me, says she wants me:

By hook or by crook, I hope that you will possess yourselves of money enough to travel and to idle to dream over books and loiter at street corners and let the line of thought dip deep into the stream. For I am by no means confining you to fiction. If you would please me - and there are thousands like me - you would write books of travel and adventure, and research and scholarship and philosophy and science.

When I ask you to earn money and have a room of your own, I am asking you to live in the presence of reality, an invigorating life, it would appear. I often like women. I like their unconventionality. I like their subtlety. I like their anonymity.

And there I cry again, when she says:

Now my belief is that this poet still lives. She lives in you and in me, and in many women who are not here tonight for they are washing up the dishes and putting the children to bed. I maintain that she would come if we worked for her, and that so to work, even in poverty and obscurity, is worth while.

All of this in chapter 6.

If we face the fact that there is no arm to cling to, but that we go alone and that our relation is to the world of reality and not only to the world of men and women.

It's Saturday midday. There's a palm's leg next to the light pole. Clean sky and offshore breeze. Between times. Packet 4's coming in for Monday. I didn't want to touch them but I woke too early and can't do anything of my own. Tom tomorrow.

12th

Yesterday watched the Chargers game with Tom. I now understand what a down is. Have seen some beautiful poses. Cromartie - don't know that I can describe this - leaping high, very high, and slanted, so his whole body feet to extended right arm was a tight 45o slope hung in the air while he closed his hand around the ball. Behind him was the Cubs receiver with his hands low in position to catch what would now never arrive. Last game it was Tomlinson diving at knee-height through a big pile-up on the goal line to plant the ball very precisely, at the full extension of his arm, nose down just over the line for a hand-made touchdown. The camera coverage is remarkable.

This morning going home on the bus I found a Union somebody had been using to sit on at a bus stop - it rained last night - and I read about the game on the sports pages. What impressed me was how much tracking there is of everyone's performance, all the numbers, everyone knows exactly how good they are in one game, in a season, in a career. Accomplishment is unambiguous. In art the scoring systems aren't reliable, I was feeling.

14

Writing Dames rocket intros this morning. Came to something written earlier, I don't know when, about that time. It was single lines with two spaces between them, lower case. Coming into it was a shock. It said what I wanted to say in such a better state. It's spacious, airy, and it made me instantly as if fold up and go away. It's a good state but does it scare this one, which is more pedestrian?

16

Working with the Dames rocket page of summary statements about the mind of the time - I needed a lot of focus to put the statements into an order. It's work I'm frail in, I'm not easily holding the parts known in a whole - is that the way to say it - bluntly - what I'm seeing is a transparent medium I was moving something in, moving something also transparent - something like that. It's hard to do, I shy from it, want to go away.

There's a grasp in these little lines that I don't have in the journal of that time. The lines say what I was doing, what was happening with a precision that the drugs ruined in writing. Not only drugs, that's one of my questions - thinking this section is the trickiest, I have most to do in it, blending that time with this one - not only drugs because I opened abandonment and then went into defensive scrambling. I didn't know how to work with it.

-

Last night after work, after dark, I was needing to go shopping and thought I'd visit Tom for a moment - little surge of happiness - drove to his street, parked - it's 5:30 but he isn't home from work yet - I use my key - turn on his lights - look around - there's his morning in the room, sheet in a bundle in the middle of the mattress, pyjama pants on the little table with his jar of cashews, coffee spilled on the stove. I make his bed, wash his plates, put things away, wipe the floor. Will I wait for him. No, I'll leave it clean and lit up for him. Start Nora Jones and lock the door after me. Go to Whole Foods and call him when I get home. He tells the story. He was coming down the stairs thinking, did I leave the bathroom light on? He'd had a hard day, had worked 'til 6. Stepping into a lit clean room with Norah Jones hit him with bliss. The first thing he did was check which track it was - it was only the third. He sat down and let the day go, he felt loved. He said, the only thing missing is Ellie. Then he said no, that would have spoiled it.

He told me the story from his most natural easy self, the one we have gradually rescued.

17

Wrote Emilee this morning. Sat down to it first thing and looked up finished at 12:30. Oh that's why I'm hungry. Anything special? Figured out how to tell her not to buy the multiple personality story, tried to intimate what the Buddhists should say, if they don't. That some mind is deluded, and the discourse about consciousness is, and the I that identifies with consciousness rather than the body is.

I said she's timid academically and bold in drugs and emotional adventures, and why is that. I saw that what she was looking for was power. License to power. She doesn't want to harm. She can have it in writing.

Café Bassam 4:35. When I walk out of the house I want to suddenly be somewhere. There's pink winter light, and gold in the west. A piano sounding, a real piano not a recording, in a small house. From this corner I can see up Redwood to the park, where the sky is vivid tinted depth between the eucalyptus trees, flushed palest blue above the clubhouse roof.

Crows flying home the same way they fly in Vancouver, southeast.

A smell of iced doughnuts.

Across the street a building with a long grid of mirrored glass across half a block, 3 squares high, 38 along. A thin black frame. Continuous across it now an image of the sky in the west, pale silver blue, washes of palest flamingo pink.

The blue has risen among the drooping eucalyptus. The pink that has risen above it is suggesting grain.

Cream-colored walls in winter light.

The palms on Olive are showing fine fresh pale antlers.

Men with dogs on leashes.

Smell of coffee roasting.

Bassam bringing out a cake on a glass cake stand. His place. He has a good name. A Levantine. Not sure what that is. The streetlight just came on. I noticed because palm frond shadows moved across the page. There's one directly in front of the lamp. The music is a bit oceanic today.

I used to be so likeable. Now people at parties look away - they did at Nora's gallery event last night.

20

I've been forgetting to say there is a cricket at Tom's house that sounds in the evenings. It's all alone. Its small serrated voice (I know it's not a voice) sounds regular as a little clock from a particular spot in the honeysuckle on the railing. If it hears my footstep it freezes, so then I have to listen without moving until it continues, take one step, and wait again. I'm fond of it. It was there louder and longer in summer but now even though it can be cold at night and it's sounding a bit frail, it hasn't gone.

28

Across the street Park Manor Hotel at twenty past four, gilded brick and palm pillars, shadows almost horizontal.

Three tables doing homework. Two people with glasses of red talking quietly. Going home traffic whisking, growling, rattling. Another homework person unpacking his shoulder bag.

It's the way I know it to be, the semester begins and then the months vanish. September-November gone without happening.

The light on the Park Hotel was a darker gold, the shadows bluer, and then direct sun was gone although the west-facing façade, six floors looking out to sea, has shadowless sky light on it still.

Young woman in a trench coat, cup of tea, writing in a small diary in black ink. Man next to me putting on his jacket, rustling in his pocket for his keys. Takes his paper with him. Ten to five. It's the moment I begin to notice the inside lights, their pleasing dimness, multiple shadows under my hand.

Small clouds evenly pink, palm fronds, grassy, dipping and flowing, onshore breeze up Redwood. Caliph Cocktails neon sign across the street a blue line around a red line in the shape of the head of a cock - it's a gay bar.

Here's Bassam come in, sitting with the young woman in the trench coat. Is he interviewing her for a job - there are always new young women.

Sometime I'm going to come here in the evening and have a glass of wine. - A dim yearning to have something to say, something happening.

29

Stepping into the air yesterday and today: day warm, winter light - that doesn't say it - stepping into air that is light and mild.

30

The way that feels - just right - an exquisite well-being - the lightness I most like to be.

Finished transcribing the '76-77 volume but it's missing the first acid pages. Acid was the only thing in that journal I still like. The love and sex stuff is insane, the dope writing is mostly worthless, but I found something in acid - I found a state. I found balance. The touchstone state of balance.

3 December

Happy weekend with Tom - he had worked long hours, left the house and come home in the dark. I showed up at 11 yesterday morning, after Starbucks and after the farmer's market, and found him just finishing housecleaning. Kitchen doors open. He was funny all day. This morning he walked out the door in construction worker costume, yellow boots, jeans, green Carhart jacket, baseball cap, backpack with yellow hard hat strapped to it. Phone on his belt. Last night before we settled to the movie he polished his boots, laid out his clothes for the morning. He walks out with a thermos of coffee and some power bars in his pack.

We went to the pier for breakfast and sat at the rail looking at the sea which yesterday was translucent olive drab. I was fond of him all day. Is it the way he's confident and steady when he's working and a lot of money is coming in, probably. He's in the elevator all day without breaks. "Stand by, fifteen, I'm on my way." A building he's proud of, good materials, terrazzo floors.

Meantime on his computer is a piece about his neighbourhood. Sitting at the rail with his machaca plate he was saying he hadn't written that way since he was nineteen.

For supper I made him steak and mashed potatoes, grilled a thick Angus sirloin. We were squabbling playfully, acceptingly. I wasn't holding anything against him.

He fell asleep during the movie, which was his pick and wonderful, Mountain patrol, Lu Chuan, Tibetan barrens.

7

What now. CG writes about coming on the bad things I say. Here's my first instance of being outed as a hater. "What I really simply want to say is that it is mean (particularly the attack on how I look, talk, sit, etc), and it hurt me." It's definitely mean. I'm surprised I left it in, what was I thinking?

I'm more in touch with the dark side, the rage and distress, than people mainly are. Pleased and harrowed by bodies. It's left out of most writing. I feel I'm carrying it alone.

We say we support liberation  
And what we're all most afraid of is negative opinion   YES
And what we most need to be liberated from is that fear  
This is the key  
The students are so afraid of themselves  
This puts something on the table  

9

Fear in my solar - then in the back of my head - I'm going to be having to live with this fear. What am I afraid of? Nothing in particular, I think.

The college isn't really progressive - it doesn't grade and it's one-to-one and it does support students to be what they dream of being and the graduations are good and I've been able to be a lot of what I am, there - so it is progressive in those ways - M's good-heartedness has been - but it's not radical - it isn't interested in addressing the roots of oppression.

10

The kerfuffle with CG about the journal has calmed down because I've said what I have to say - on my end. - There I feel a little scare setting in. I said if progressive educatioin claims to work for liberation it has to deal with the pervasive crippling fear of hearing anything negative in our own heads or about us from someone else. That's my position and now I'll see whether it's defensible.

Tom was a good cornerman yesterday. We were side by side on the blue couch and he did what he does. Gave me a succinct description that says I'm that kind of person and it's outrageous and admirable.

Is there any more to know about Emilee. My job was to get her to stand in her unusual potency and she did. She wrote This story.

12

Had fun today. Zipped to Walter Anderson's, collected four wagon loads of green forms, including three brugmansia, a lot of ivy, good ferns, a couple of spectacular houseplants I'm going to put outside, some interesting ficus. And then fast up 5 to 94 to Lemon Grove to the stone yard. Poking into a pallet of flagstone at RCP Block and Brick. Then back to see what Al had done in the meantime, painting the fence, excavating the path, taking down the cassia.

What did I like most, buying plants, assembling them, imagining them, putting down my credit card for 1300# of bluestone. Having Nora's mason, who made the beautiful herringbone fireplace, saying "Ma'am" across the office, turning and there he was, that good craftsman, and there I was too, buying stone, a garden maker. The sensation of walking in a stone yard or plant yard, manly, is it? Entitled, effective, something else - physical - moving and doing.

14

Went to Scott's when the plants were due to arrive, stood around thinking where to put things while Al spread the path dirt.

It's cold. Desert sunrises and apricot sunsets, and so cold in the mornings that my heater doesn't keep up.

Went to Tom's afterward, laundry, soaking in his tub. He didn't get home until long after 7, thirteen-hour days. He isn't complaining. He's joyful. Making buckets of money, the men respect him, the top dogs love him. "You're the best operator on the west coast."

He's interested in the Margo story, sat unpeeling his support hose as I described my moves. He wasn't in a hurry though he'd need to be up at 4. "I just needed to be with you" I said - we had our heads together on the blue couch. When I went home he was in front of me laughing at the thought of how pleased he'd be standing in Rite Aid with a hot water bottle in his hands. He was so naturally, laughingly himself that the moment seemed a culmination to me, look how restored he is, he's a wonderful companion.

15

Fell asleep too early and woke at two. Lay there. Turned on the TV after a while. Infomercial for a machine that cuts out pictures for scrapbooking. Another for Ultimate Health, a book shown illuminated like the bible in golden light, weasel-faced salesman in a beige wig promising secrets of miracle cure for cancer, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, more.

19

Discovered highway cams yesterday for outside Beaverlodge and near Demmitt. Checking one of them every 20 minutes between 4:10 and 5:50, I felt as if I was present there, in the bluing snow dusk.

22

In future someone will model dreaming. Within any circumstance or scene, possibilities come into being because attention evokes them. I look at a slope and see lupins, then looking at them brings more. Also an interruptor - I start down the stairs and it stops. A strange inflector - I'm looking in the living room window and see floor level not where it usually is. The most interesting to me are the picture book dreams. They are virtuoso dreaming, one scene after another, formed and right.

27

- The barber last Saturday. Tom took me to Ernesto's cave on Broadway with him. I sat and stared around while his hair fell in soft clumps. Ernesto is a gay man with longish orange hair and a brown face, slight, gentle, much himself in a shrine to young male beauty. Sun glowed in through dirty glass to a 5' mother-in-law's-tongue strapped to the wall and every surface covered to the ceiling with faces at different sizes. Many blue-eyed models. Several charts of haircuts showing a fade, an oval cut, a trim, and all the rest. Two posters of the presidents of the United States. On a dark back wall, above the fridge, a shrine to JFK, the Pope and a young sailor who may have been Ernesto himself. A many years' unchanged nook. Loving, I thought - a quiet loving air. Ernesto gave me a sharp glance when I came in but I looked at the albums behind his waiting chairs, and saw him in them with pleasure (cherubs, Bill Clinton, pinup women, men with babies), and I think he felt that because his brown eyes were warm when he said come again.

When he was unbuttoning the white cloth from Tom's neck he said to me "Here he is, made a young man again."

Tom was just right when I was scared of sex - what was that - it's inarticulate reluctance, skittish dread. I don't want to go there, it feels irrelevant and excessive although driving silently in the flats beside the Salton Sea I was daydreaming an imaginary man. The way he was just right was he stroked my tummy quietly and held my head so I could skittishly slide into it. He's a tolerant spirit, generous.

1st January 2008

Last night we were in Leucadia at the Pacific Surf. On Moonlight Beach in the dark staring out toward the surfline together because just the first instant of the wave break, the instant of most energy when the wave smashes and the foam rises, the whole broad foam band would glow white-blue, luminescent. There was a smell of wood smoke, families at the fire rings higher up the beach. Orion tilted above.

This morning we were parked above Beacons - Pilgrim's beach - watching old surfers gathering, walking down the steps with their boards. We were there before eight, tender silvery light on the foam. Waves glassed off, green. A lot of physical bodies, good men. A beautiful boy, maybe thirteen, standing in a wetsuit at the top of the steps with his dad, who was him thirty years older. He was leggy and thin, had straight black brows and hair short to his head, a deep back of his neck.

Tom and I were there a couple of hours gazing and murmuring. A mean-mouthed man wearing a jacket with an image of soldiers in helmets and the logo Soldier for the Lord - enlisted for life on the back stood for a long time in front of us and then sat down on the rail. I didn't like him. After a while I said "I'm going to get rid of him." Tom looked alarmed. "What are you going to do?" "Something subtle." I took the binocs and got out and stood just a little too close to him and slightly behind him, looking out toward the waves. I could feel something like a pressure of will. Stood there. Gradually turned the binocs just a little toward him on my right, maybe five degrees. He got up and left. I heard a motor start across the road.

3

Went to sleep too early and woke embattled at 3. It was about the journal project, what to do about Fading. I'm not satisfied leaving it down. Embattled also about the despicable faculty timidity about Margo - how I'm going to face the crew who won't fight.

7

Hillary vs Obama tomorrow, she isn't going to make it. For a good reason or bad. She'd be a good president, better than Obama. She's by far the best candidate but that isn't going to be what matters. I'm saying that in the discouragement of my own case. People are ashamed of Iraq and they want to be proud of electing a black president. They don't want to be proud of electing a woman - that isn't how it works.

11

Amtrak, passing the marsh north of Oceanside.

I liked opening the door this morning on a milky dewy dawn and going downstairs to find the taxi at the curb. And now the humming glide above cliffs with glassed-off waves below. Surfer cars with their hatches up.

A simple, silent ocean. Sand, foam. Sweet pink light. Simplest two foot waves rising to green. There was a dolphin's black fin.

25

We went for dinner to the Denny's on Pacific. Ate fast, he looked tired across from me. He was paying and I stepped outside. Held open the door for a homeless man carrying a bag with his take-out dinner. He looked at me as he passed through and said "You're a pretty woman. My Aunt Jenny told me, if you think a woman is pretty, you should always tell her." He had a good face, very weathered. Faint smell of booze. A slight body in blackened clothes. Then he said something like "I used to be worse. I was a gunner in the airforce, got my hip shot at."

The walkway was slick with rain. I watched him hobbling toward his shopping cart full of cans holding his thin hips twisted sideways. He stopped at the end of the wall, resting. As Tom and I came past he said "This weather is hard on me." He had the American buoyancy of spirit.

Tom drove me home, stopped on the corner outside Davis. I gathered my bags, came around to kiss him through his window. Nice kisses, two identical with a gazing pause between, confiding and trusting.

Plainfield VT 26th

The kind of day it was, in faculty meeting this morning Margo, large calm Margo in raspberry UGG boots sitting crossways in the armchair watching us hash out what to do. I don't think I can reconstruct it. People said what they say. Goldberg said we have to be very careful, Ralph said we have to be very careful, Lise said she wants to do something, I said we shouldn't roll over. There was a particular moment, I think. Ralph said we should be clear what we're fighting for not just take someone as an enemy. People said a just workplace. I said - what did I say - for people to be able to not feel defeated and silenced. From there we seemed rapidly to settle into a plan. It was a plan I found myself left out of.

I want to say two things at once, here. One is that it's a good plan as far as it goes, it accommodates people's anxieties and at the same time takes on a larger cause. The other thing is that when it came to forming the committee for that action I volunteered and the waters closed over me. Then Goldberg went around in her expert facilitator way and asked everyone to say how they felt. Margo said how remarkable a group we were and had we noticed how that had just happened. People were saying yes it was wonderful and I was feeling, not wonderful enough, because Margo is still going. There she still was large and watchful at the head of the room, people comfortable around her in an even accepted light. I was seeing that that will be gone.

5

Stephanie. At the cabaret she was the one thing that was perfect. In her coat standing tall in the cafeteria she looks a leggy serious big-eyed girl, slender, but when she's on stage she shows a thick white almost doughy belly. She carries her face somehow perfectly, giving concentration and pleasure, looking at us quietly between her twisting arms and rolling torso. Seeing her I go altogether into adoration.

Another good thing was Gary, who is a shapely lean man with the right ratio of shoulder to hip. Cabaret night he was wearing jeans, a red shirt and a pirate's silk scarf on his head, a lean long slightly whiskery blond face with pale eyes. When I sat down behind him he spread his arms to make himself large, kidding me. I put out my hand without knowing I was going to and gripped his shoulder. Felt the hard muscle under his red shirt. Took that away with me. Still have it in my right hand, a man.

He was in Deena's group playing harmonica all out, gorgeously. When Stephanie was dancing he was yipping at the right moments and I was feeling, yes that's right, that's who to long for, a pain I was willing in. Ah I still so much want a man to long for me, what I'll never have again. Something energetic I've been starved of, that when I've had it has made me marvelous, complete.

I have sometimes in this res gone to imagining Mac. I imagine what he's wearing. I see his bristling black hair and hawk nose and Indian eyes fierce with intention. He wants me like thunder, he gets so hard it hurts, and it's me it's for, exactly me. He has never cut his losses, he's integral, he has it all intact. He has used it to work, he has thought and made and carried everything through and now he can give me what he has always kept. He doesn't waste it in daylight, he doesn't touch me 'til I'm in his bed. And then it's necessary every time and right away. Saying so I come alive two inches into my pussy, just there, a strong burn.

It's daylight now. almost eight. That's probably a snowplow. The pine branches I can see composed in little squares are motionlessly weighted with new snow, charcoal and white under a white sky, a few reddish brown trunks leaning across the forest edge.

-

Past the Rockies, ten to 5. An East Indian family in the row ahead. The little girl who peeked between the seats - a small two? or less - was standing with her back to us and left her small brown hand where I could put my large fingers under hers. She had a small gold bangle on her wrist. She left her hand quietly on mine so that we were holding hands lightly in the sky. I was thinking how naturally she was allowing it. The big Swede next to me said "So natural."

We're beginning our descent he says. Orange sun half a finger over the horizon. Is that the coast I think.

San Diego 6

Tom leaning against the wall in his work jeans and boots and beanie cap. Walked me to the luggage carrousels with his arm around my shoulders. I'm telling that because it was a good arrival.

Before we went to sleep he got in with me and pulled himself snug against me, wrapped his legs over mine. My head was on his shoulder. I fell asleep almost instantly - not deep but remarkably.

13

November 26 1963 "Mercury soars as cold breaks." Another of Dave's photocopies. -41 and five days later a chinook, 41 above. I feel odd about these clippings. Dave makes so much of what I was when I was eighteen. He saw me someway then and has stayed imprinted. But I was just beginning, I don't want to be pegged there. - That's not really it. Is it something about death? She's gone and I will be. He's wanting to hold it for me? Something chivalrous? It's as if I was a vision of what he had in him to find later, his distinction. He was part of his town, he was it, wherever he went. He was the town drunk's kid, baseball player, Sexsmith correspondent for the Herald-Tribune, beginning to be the rememberer without knowing he was going to be that.

Meantime I'm in 1978, fifteen years later, driving the Lark on snowy roads. Reading old journals beside the barrel heater, in pain, more pain, in beauty, more beauty, in effort still, more lost, defeated, complicated, a part of no social group anywhere but taking the place as mine, and isn't that adoration what I miss?