Wednesday, July 11, 1984
1 PM. I lay down all yesterday afternoon with a bad headache. At dinner, I felt out of it, and I do feel different from everyone here.
I’m the only person who doesn’t drink wine or beer, doesn’t run, doesn’t swim. Even in an artists’ colony, I’m something of an outsider.
Back in my room early, I listened to the CBS TV news on my radio and read and worked on Chapter 3 – on If-Then statements – in my BASIC text.
After a fine night’s sleep, I awoke feeling refreshed. Three Miami Heralds arrived from last week, and I had today’s Times and yesterday’s USA Today to keep me busy until now.
Every five minutes while reading the paper, I would do 25 reps with the dumbbells until I did 600 reps total.
It’s a dark, cool day, and it will probably be raining fiercely when Emily drives us to Manhattan this evening.
Now she wants to come back tomorrow night instead of Friday morning, and that’s a disappointment to me.
I need more of a break from colony life, but rather than leave a week early, I plan to get called to a “job interview” at the end of next week, so I can take a few days off.
Everyone knows I’m up for numerous teaching jobs, so it won’t come off phony. In the ten days I’ve been here, I haven’t written very much, but I’ve had time to think and read and study.
Does it make me lazy that I love to read every article in the paper? I see that I view the world differently than the other people here.
I want to be more of a player in a world where, for example, short-story writing is increasingly irrelevant to huge masses of people.
Sometimes I feel I’m starting too late in the computer revolution, that I should have taken those courses two or three years ago, but the sooner I start, the better.
If I had unlimited funds, I’d just start taking courses, even at Broward Community College: banking courses and real estate classes and Steve Eliot’s seminar in video art.
What am I dreaming about? I’m $5,000 in debt, with no job or income and sometimes I feel I’ve dug a grave that I can no longer climb out of.
But I suppose that if someone asked me if it was all worth it, I’d say “yes” without hesitation. I’ve never been big on courage or self-confidence, but at times I’m certain that somehow I’m on the right track.
To where, I don’t know, and a derailing is always possible.
Thursday, July 12, 1984
1 AM. Half a day after the last diary entry, I’m in Teresa’s air-conditioned bedroom in New York, where the mauve colors and fluffy sheets and pillows are a real contrast to my spartan bedroom upstate.
Emily, Matt and I left right after dinner, at about 7:15 PM. The ride was uneventful – we chatted and played Botticelli – and although Emily was nervous about driving in the dark during a pouring rain along the winding Taconic State Parkway, she drove fine.
I sat up front, seat belt buckled (unlike in Florida, it’s not mandatory in New York State), enjoying the green scenery, the deer and woodchucks, and the company.
We switched over to another highway in Duchess County and came into New York through I-87, from Westchester into the Bronx via the Major Deegan and down the Henry Hudson Parkway.
Emily let me off at the corner of 85th and Riverside, and though it seemed incredible, I was home in Manhattan.
The first thing I did was try to find the mailbox key, but it wasn’t around. When I tried calling Teresa in Fire Island, no one answered.
On a hunch, I called her mother and found out Teresa was at her parents’ new beach house out in Mattituck, helping her father paint, so I phoned her there.
Teresa said my unemployment check didn’t come till the end of last week, and Judy sent it up to the Colony. That I haven’t gotten it may be a problem of the post office, or else Judy screwed up.
Either way, I’m not going to kill myself over it: it’s only money.
Teresa spent last week in Fire Island, and on Friday, she met Deirdre at LaGuardia and they flew in a 15-seater to Atlantic City.
Teresa and Deirdre enjoyed their first night in the casinos, where they won $40, but Deirdre’s father made them go home right after that.
“Home” was a single hotel room in which Deirdre’s parents, her sister and kids, and Teresa and Deirdre all slept.
Teresa was unnerved by Deirdre’s neurotic mother, who seemed like she couldn’t wait till Teresa left. She got on a bus at 8 PM Sunday and didn’t get to Port Authority until five hours later because of Jersey Shore coming-back-from-the-weekend traffic.
Monday at the Unemployment office, Teresa gave a sympathetic interviewer her story, and apparently he bought it, for she signed for her first check. Great!
She told me she left mail out for me, and later I found it. Helen Popovich, the FAU president, answered my letter and said the computer education program would be the centerpiece of the new Institute for Technical Education, and that she expected it to be really good.
Rick Peabody sent along a review he did of Crad’s Pork College for a Richmond paper and the news that George is moving to Columbus, where he’ll be book review editor on the local paper, the Dispatch.
Good for George, even though I agree with Rick that Ohio is the pits. Still, Columbus is the best city in that state.
Also in the mail, Zephyr Press sent their new catalog, which says all sorts of embarrassing things about me and my work.
I called Mom and we talked for an hour. I told her I’m looking forward to getting into computer education, and she said Jonathan thinks I should live with him in the dorms in Boca.
After telling Mom about Millay and the Berkshires, she said it sounded like a good experience, and of course it is. But it’s also nice to touch base with civilization here in the city.
As I played back Teresa’s messages, I got one for me, from a Boston radio hostess who wanted an interview.
Shopping for milk and o.j. on Broadway, I found a copy of the latest U.S. News and World Report, which mentioned me twice in a one-page story on weird Presidential candidates.
I got the last paragraph and a quote about my running again in 1988. Wowee.
Friday, July 13, 1984
2 PM. Friday the 13th has been okay so far.
Teresa came home just before 6 PM last evening, and we discussed the day’s big news, which had been blaring from the TV for hours, about Mondale picking Rep. Geraldine Ferraro of Queens for his vice-presidential candidate.
Well, now Mondale has my vote, if only because I want to vote for Ferraro.
After Teresa told me all about her parents’ house in Mattituck and about her so-so visit with Deirdre in Atlantic City, I went to pick Ronna up at the Hebrew Arts School.
Since she had only an hour and a half and because my stomach was rocky, we just went to Amy’s for a light dinner.
Ronna got her raise, but it’s to only $18,000 – a big jump from $14,500, but she still feels she’s underpaid.
She listened with the patience of a saint to my rambling about the problems I’ve been having with my writing up here at Millay, and she gave me some good counsel: namely, that it’s no sin to change my career direction, that no one said I had to be a fiction writer.
It was hard to leave her at the Merkin Concert Hall – and hard to believe that there is so little time left for me to see her before I go back to Florida in August.
I feel the same way about New York.
It was a hot, but not humid, evening as I made my way up Broadway from 67th to 85th, and I knew I was going to miss the city.
I can’t help feeling that Millay has cheated me out of time in Manhattan, and Teresa and Ronna both suggested I could leave early. I still may; I haven’t decided.
My tentative flight back to Fort Lauderdale is on Friday night, August 10. That’s four weeks from tonight.
I’m going to miss Teresa especially. Despite everything, I’ve gotten accustomed to living with her, and I know she feels the same way about me.
It was really a pleasure to be with her last night, to talk and watch TV and just do normal household chores. I was tired and got into bed in the living room at 11 PM, falling asleep soon afterwards.
Up at 7:30 AM, I was nearly dressed when Emily sleepily called and said, “Matt? I’ll be a little late in picking you up,” so I had an extra half-hour at the apartment before I got my bags together and kissed Teresa goodbye.
I waited for Emily on a Riverside Drive park bench. It was a bright, clear, warm morning: one of the most beautiful New York mornings I’d ever experienced.
From where I sat, I could see Teresa’s building, Red House, and notice how extraordinary the façade and all the ornaments on its exterior looked.
I wished I had a camera so that I could capture the view with the street sign, “Riverside Drive,” going across the building – from the angle I saw it, I mean.
Some nearby squirrels greedily ate the crumbs I threw them from a carrot cake I’d bought: no fools, these rodents were gobbling up food from Zabar’s. Then some flying rats (pigeons) got into the act.
Emily apologized for being late and said she’d had a disaster: She spent the night with this guy, Jason, whom she likes, but then his girlfriend – the problem in their relationship – came over at 8 AM, causing confusion and hurt for everyone.
Emily was obviously really upset. She had to drop something off at her mother’s house on 72nd, and Matt met us there.
Because she seemed so discombobulated, I offered to drive upstate at least part of the way and Emily took me up on it.
After stopping for gas in Harlem, we had a fine trip back to Austerlitz. I feel proud that I drove well without anxiety even though it was a strange car in a strange place.
My unemployment check was here, and I mailed out the forms for the next one just now.
Careers in the arts are so fluky. Last night Matt got a phone message that a Contemporary Records Company wants to record his music; he’s got to call them back on Monday.
Matt said he vaguely remembers entering their contest and wonders if they’re not crooks.
When I get back to Florida, I really should make an active effort to get my stories published in a new book. The trouble is, all the small presses are so backed up with projects, and most publish only their friends.
Rick says he’s liked by lots of young people in the New York publishing industry, but the old farts distrust and dislike him: “Will we have to wait until everyone born before World War II dies before we get anywhere?” Sometimes I wonder.
We’re going to Tanglewood tonight.
Saturday, July 14, 1984
5 PM. I’ve only just gotten to my studio. Today has been such a sunny and mild day that I goofed off most of it. I feel kind of sleepy even though I slept well, dreaming that a woman met me and told me I was “gorgeous.”
Although I woke up at 8 AM, I kept going back for more, and it was 11 AM before I joined Matt and Emily at the breakfast table, where we discussed the difficulties “making it” as a composer, painter or writer.
Emily decided we should try to pick up the mail, but by the time we drove down to the post office, it was closed, as the postmistress had just locked up. So I’ll have a bigger batch of newspapers and maybe mail on Monday.
For an hour early this afternoon, I sat out in the sun, getting just enough color to ward off summer pallor. I wanted to exercise but I felt too tired to go ahead; instead, I read U.S. News & World Report: the stories other than the one about me.
Last night at Tanglewood was terrific.
Sue’s friend Christine, who’s at the Cummington colony, drove here after going to Albany to the Unemployment office, so we had a sixth person and a second car.
We took fried chicken and macaroni salad and other goodies with us as a picnic supper, and we stopped in West Stockbridge for other stuff, like diet soda for yours truly and wine for everyone else.
Following a shortcut Matt knew, we were only a few minutes away from Tanglewood. We paid our money and took our choice spots just behind the shed on the great lawn, spreading out our blankets and having dinner al fresco.
At 7 PM the “weekend prelude” recital began, with pianist Gilbert Kalish playing Haydn and Schubert. It was exciting to be in a big crowd, but peaceful because of the music and the quiet of dusk.
After the sun went down, it got cooler, and at 9 PM the Boston Symphony, all in white, came onstage, and with Kurt Masur conducting, they played Weber’s Overture to Oberon and Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58.
Then came the highlight: Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, orchestrated not by Ravel, as I’ve always heard it done, but by Gorchakov.
I’m an ignoramus when it comes to classical music, but over the past four years I’ve listened to it so much on the radio that a lot of names and familiar music have penetrated my non-musical skull.
Listening to the orchestra and being near my new friends on our picnic blankets, I experienced what seemed like a moment of pure happiness and tried to sear it into my memory, for days in the future when I’m feeling down.
At the end of the concert, getting out quickly, we had no trouble finding our way home, and I went to sleep right away since my usual “thinking time” had been done at the concert.
Emily, glad to be back after her romantic disaster in New York, feels Millay is a great place to “hide from the real world,” and she’s right, but I want to get back to the real world soon.
I no longer feel antsy about being here – or at least I don’t feel that way today – but I’ve got a lot I want to do.
Previously, when I was at VCCA, I set goals for myself for the following year, and I’m doing the same here.
First and foremost is taking the graduate courses in Florida Atlantic University’s computer education program. It will be hard work, and I’m sure I’ll get frustrated, but it’s also an exciting investment in knowledge and my future.
The more I think about it, the more I don’t want to teach at Broward Community College’s Central Campus again; in fact, I think I’ll be disappointed if I do get hired, but I can’t turn down the money. It’s just that it’s so much drudgery for so little reward.
Teaching at South Campus would be easier, and I intend to see Betty Owen before I see Dr. Grasso or Dr. Popper. But I dread grading papers.
I’d like to take at least three grad courses – in LOGO, BASIC, and the introductory computer class. The would give me, along with PILOT, twelve credits in computer education.
I should meet with my adviser at FAU and check out if there are any jobs there for me. Living at dorms in Boca, possibly with Jonathan, is another option I have. Or I could check out the Nova University dorms in Davie.
I have no doubt I can make money somehow. For one thing, I just need a job to support myself as a grad student, not a career.
How can I be sure this year’s foray into grad school will turn out to be any less of a fiasco than last year’s experience in the doctoral program at the University of Miami?
Instinct, I guess: I feel good about this. Going for a Ph.D. in English was a last resort; going for an M.Ed. in computer education is an opportunity.
What about my career as a writer? Well, I intend to self-publish one or two chapbooks à la Crad, using different publishers’ imprints.
One might be a reprint of Disjointed Fictions, my most underrated book. I wish I had my stories here so I could plan the other book, but there will be time for that later.
I don’t expect to be in the public eye since I won’t be a candidate for anything, and maybe I can use the extra time and energy to devote to writing articles of all kinds – for money, even.
I wouldn’t mind researching subjects and doing articles for commercial magazines. If Alice and June and others can do that, I probably can, too; I’ve just got learn more about it.
But I still need and want a fiction chapbook or two to keep my hand in that and to keep up the illusion that I’m making progress. Luckily, I have enough of a backlog of old stories to make a couple of books, if not more.
So there are some worthwhile goals. What else?
Personally, I’ve got to slow down and continue to work out. But I need less muscling up and more slimming down, so I’ve got to diet and do more waist exercises and do aerobics.
I intend to dress better, meaning that I should wear only clothes I really like.
I also intend to learn a lot more about banking and publishing.
And I want to make friends in Florida with a more intelligent group of young people. Obviously, I’d also like to find a lover, and I intend to put more energy into that.
Does this sound like a parody of a member of the Me Generation? Probably, but I’d rather sound silly than be depressed.
Sunday, July 15, 1984
5 PM. Last evening I wasn’t very hungry at dinnertime and therefore I avoided the baked scrod, which I don’t like anyway.
We all went out at about 8 PM, piling into Emily’s car and driving into Stockbridge.
After a quick walk around the stores, we sat having drinks in the backyard bar of the Red Lion Inn, established in 1773 and as touristy a place as you can imagine.
Still, it was a relief to be relaxing away from the colony. We all get on very well and are good friends by now.
Home at 10 PM, I read Publishers Weekly, Small Press Review, and other stuff until about 2 AM, when I finally fell asleep.
Up at 9 AM after an anxiety dream (Jim Ledford of BCC was giving me a test and thought I was cheating; obviously that’s a reflection of how I think he and others there feel about me), I joined Matt and Emily at breakfast.
Then I listened to CBS TV news about the San Francisco Democratic convention until 11 AM, when I began an hour of weight lifting. Groan – but it felt good when I stopped.
Once I got out of the shower, I took a blanket outside and again sunned myself. I like having color, and in just half an hour for two days, I’ve managed to get tanned again.
The radio warnings about heatstroke amuse me because it’s relatively cool here compared to what I’m used to in Florida.
This afternoon I did more writing and thinking. I answered letters from lots of people, too. Rick Peabody says that Esquire again phoned him asking about Crad and other young writers.
Rick doesn’t say if he mentioned me, but I think by now he knows I’m not going to be one of the baby boom hotshots.
Still, everyone here who’s read my work – Emily, Claire, Matt and Sue – have all told me I’m very good. They could have avoided saying anything, so I don’t think they’re patronizing me.
I’m trying to prepare – merely from a list of previously published story titles – a couple of chapbooks for the spring. I realized that I have enough top-quality (by Grayson standards, that is) stories to make another full-length collection or at least four chapbooks.
It’s important that I publish a book or two next year so I stay in touch with the literary world. I’m really lucky I have a backlog of over fifty uncollected stories. I hinted to Rick that Paycock Press might want to do a book of mine.
Obviously, I don’t have much money to spend, but I can afford the $1200 or so involved; again, it’s an investment in myself and my career – just like the master’s program at FAU.
We’re dining out tonight.
Monday, July 16, 1984
3 PM. Last evening, we left Millay at 7 PM and drove into Lenox, where we had to walk around for half an hour before we found a restaurant that satisfied the tastes and pocketbooks of each of us.
I had a so-so fettuccine primavera, but the thrill of eating a meal out was enough for me.
It’s gotten so that the five of us, having talked ourselves out, don’t have all that much to discuss and we find we occasionally dine in silence like a real family.
The ginger ice cream cone (with real pieces of crystallized ginger!) that I had afterwards was better than the meal.
Having picked up the Sunday Times in Lenox, I wanted to read it and to listen to CBS’s pre-convention special, so back at Millay, I returned to my room while the others got together for wine and late-night conversation.
I slept okay, though the 100% humidity has given me a sinus headache.
This morning Matt called – collect – that recording company in Philadelphia and learned that the whole thing was a horrible scheme.
The man has a friend, a 17-year-old, who’s coming to study at Juilliard, and he wanted the kid to be Matt’s roommate – rent-free, mind you – in exchange for them recording Matt’s music.
What a miserable creep, playing on the need for composers to get recorded and published! I’ve met similar types in writing and I’m sure there are others in every field.
It’s sad to think that one is valued, not for his art, but for an apartment in proximity to Lincoln Center.
Dark clouds alternated with hazy sunshine today. My only mail was newspapers. I haven’t done any writing today, but I really don’t care.
I’ve decided that I’ll probably stay on until the middle of next week rather than try to leave for New York this coming weekend.
It would cost me $40 in train fare, and I’d spend a lot more and it would mean someone having to take me to and pick me up at the station.
I’m much better off leaving next Wednesday or Thursday. I’ll say I was called back to Florida for a job interview.
Even with that, I’ll have only two weeks more in New York. If last year I discovered that I could still live in New York, this was the year I decided that I want to return.
It’s going to be harder than ever for me to suffer the fools in Florida gladly. When I think about the mentalities of the people in power at BCC, in the local government and media there, I want to scream. It’s difficult not to feel a New Yorker’s arrogance among the local yokels.
Well, I’ve got work to do in Florida, and living there is a necessary step for now. I’ll always love the natural beauty and mild winters, but I need a more fertile intellectual climate if I’m going to grow.
And of course, I can’t deny that I’ve been a star in Florida only because others are so slow.
Tuesday, July 17, 1984
5 PM. Although I haven’t been productive in my writing up here, Millay has afforded me the opportunity to be in beautiful country surroundings and to think long and hard about my life and about life in general.
I’m not particularly worried about not working. I don’t believe in writers’ block per se. It’s simply that as of now, I am not ready to write.
For ten years Isaac Bashevis Singer didn’t write because he was too involved in adjusting to a new country; that decade of silence didn’t make him any less a writer, and in fact, it may have made him a better one.
My silence is a result of a number of factors, but mostly it’s that I am on a search for new ideas and a new form or format and that I’ve invested a lot of energy in other parts of my life.
But my need to turn to my diary is a sure sign that writing will always be an important part of my life. I’d rather be silent than churn out forced, repetitive self-parodies or garbage.
Last night, I left the dinner table early to listen to the Democratic Convention on the CBS channel I pick up on radio.
Jimmy Carter’s address was okay, but Mario Cuomo’s keynote speech was a masterpiece that excited me greatly. Cuomo’s lawyerly brief for a return to compassion and an end to the mean-spirited social Darwinism of Reaganomics, his pleas for party unity to restore the family of America, obviously were popular with the delegates, who seemed as moved as I was.
For the past few years we’ve seen a kind of ugly selfishness pervade American society; there is truly a contempt for the poor, the weak, the helpless and the troubled.
It’s not only Reaganites who feel that way: it’s also the members of my own generation whose education and skills have allowed them relative affluence.
I’m guilty of that Me Generation Yuppie mentality as much as anyone. In the future, I want to do a little more to help others.
True, I’ve written and I’ve taught, and that’s something, but I no longer feel the passion, the zeal to change the world that I felt when I was an undergraduate.
Because of the convention’s site in San Francisco, loads of “gay” stories have appeared in the media, and although progress is being made, particularly in the Democratic Party, society is still largely hostile towards gay people: I’ve read reports of gay people being threatened, beaten, and even murdered just for being gay in places from Miami to Maine.
The 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago and the Kent State murders radicalized a lot of our generation as we realized that much of society was just as happy to see us dead as alive.
I never really stopped feeling that way. Josh always says that most people would just as soon kill you as look at you.
Thursday, July 19, 1984
1 PM. The last couple of days have been interesting.
Yesterday I decided to go home next Tuesday, so I told everyone I had a job interview in Florida. I called Mom to send my mail to Teresa’s, and I left a message with Teresa to hold my unemployment stuff, which I’ll mail out on Tuesday, only a day late.
Gail said she’d drive me to Hudson on Tuesday, and I should be at Grand Central before rush hour. I’ll have been at Millay for a little more than three weeks, which is really the ideal amount of time for me at a colony.
Now that I have five days to go, I feel relaxed even though I haven’t produced much of anything here. I’m glad I was among a small crowd who also enjoyed playing around rather than constantly working.
Yesterday was a dark, rainy day. I went back to sleep at 7 AM and stayed in bed most of the gray morning. In the afternoon I finished Joyce Johnson’s book – a terrific memoir – and began thinking of other memoir-type books that I’ve loved.
I can tell I’m really a teacher because as I read Minor Characters, I kept thinking how I’d like to xerox parts and use the book in a classroom.
I’d love to be able to design a course using books like Johnson’s, Harding Lemay’s Inside, Looking Out, Nicholson’s Portrait of a Marriage, Exley’s A Fan’s Notes, Conroy’s Stop-Time, and other biographical or autobiographical works.
From 3 PM to 5 PM, I lifted weights, forcing myself to exercise when I really didn’t want to; naturally, I felt better for it.
Sue and I began dinner for ourselves and were joined later by Matt and Emily; Claire didn’t feel like eating until later.
Putting something away in the refrigerator, Emily got her pinky finger stuck in the door and she was in terrible pain. Sue held the finger under cold water as I stroked Emily’s hair and Matt went to get the first-aid kit. Emily really mushed up the finger, but it wasn’t broken and eventually she calmed down.
I’m certain that the accident happened as a direct result of her finding out that she didn’t get into that show at the Drawing Center, which had been the reason for our trip to the city last week.
To cheer Emily up and to take her mind off things, we decided to go into Great Barrington to do our laundry, but the trip was doomed from the beginning.
We got terribly lost in a raging downpour, and then we got to the laundromat too late.
Driving home, we encountered dense ground fog: essentially, clouds kept wafting by as we drove through them. And the car made a rattling noise, too.
I was relieved to get home, where I listened to the Democratic convention: Hart’s speech, then the roll-call for President, with Mondale’s nomination assured.
This morning we’d made up to do the laundry in Chatham, N.Y., which we hadn’t visited before. But as we got going, we were greeted with the knocking noise of last night grown much worse. The muffler had rotted away from the pipe and was hanging down.
In Chatham, we found a service station that would repair the car, so I handled all our laundry – Matt had been asleep when we left Millay, so we took his for him – while the women had breakfast and did some shopping.
When I was finished putting the clothes in the dryers, I went to the local coffee shop and had a terrific burger and french fries.
Chatham’s a real small town, not touristy like the Massachusetts towns. At the diner, everyone seemed to know everyone else.
The car was ready just as the laundry was finally done, so everything worked out well. Emily paid with a check and was glad to have the repairs done with.
We just got back here, and I’ve been looking at my mail.
Manufacturers Hanover sent me an application for another $500 six-month CD, and I’ve decided to go ahead with it. Their Ready Rate feature gives me access to my money and lets me borrow 80% of what I’ve got on account, so I really can’t lose.
I intend to run up huge credit card bills, but I also want to have big savings accounts. Silly? Not really. The finance charges on the loans I pay will be tax-deductible, and as I’ve said before, it’s important to have relationships with lots of banks.
I now have credit cards with Chemical and Citibank, as well as Landmark, Mellon, California Federal, Goldome, etc.; I’ve got CDs with Manny Hanny and Chase; and savings accounts with First Nationwide and my credit union.
Mom sent me another rejection, from Clark University, who said that my publications, “while impressive, could not compete with some of our applicants who are extremely well published.”
Susan Mernit’s letter must have crossed mine in the mail. She apologized for not calling, but she’s been working feverishly on her new novel and it’s taken over her life. I’ll see her before I go, I’m sure.
Another person I’ll see in New York is Crad Kilodney, who’ll be there for the first two weeks in August, dividing his time between his Jamaica and Plainview. Crad has misgivings about this trip because his mother is very ill.
The documentary Crad is in will be shown on CBC television tonight, and the two new books are selling well, allowing Crad to live off cash flow for a bit. Good for him!
Saturday, July 21, 1984
1 PM. It’s a dark, cool day. I’ve just come out of the shower and feel relaxed. My back and shoulders are pleasantly sore from lifting weights yesterday.
Last evening, we all participated in a kind of artists’ show-and-tell.
Claire and Emily showed slides of their paintings, which exhibit a similar sensibility (natural, I suppose since they were picked for Millay by the same judge): their colorful organic works are fairly abstract but take inspiration from nature and some are close to landscapes.
Matt played us tapes of some of his works: three movements of a sonata based on Rimbaud poems; an early piece based on the earliest musical text, and a wonderful flute and vibraphone piece.
Sue read the introduction to her book; explaining how she got interested in the martial arts and karate in particular, and how that led her to want to find out about women warriors.
After a decade of intensive research, Sue believes that women warriors are the rule rather than the exception, but these historical facts have been covered up or ignored. It’s exciting because she’s working a whole new vein nobody’s uncovered yet.
Finally, I read “But In A Thousand Other Worlds,” which made people laugh. I realize that I wrote some fine stories, and I guess the lack of recognition of all the stories I did write has caused me not to want to write anymore. Yet I write like this so easily.
Is this real writing? I think so, and I think it’s the genre I feel most comfortable with.
After a restless night, I went with Emily and Sue into West Stockbridge this morning. By accident, Emily met Jason, whose parents’ home is nearby, and she went off to visit him.
He’s just like she described: Jewishy, with glasses, and sort of doofy-looking. But she obviously has a great crush on him, and it was sweet to see them together.
Sunday, July 22, 1984
1 PM. Yesterday afternoon I took a long walk and thought about my future. It was grey and dark and cool, and I realized how much I’d miss that kind of weather when I returned to Florida.
Later in the day I slept a little, read Emerson and my computer books. A piece in USA Today debunked the “myth” of computer education, and I’m afraid there was a lot to premise of the article.
Yet I still think that getting my M.Ed. in computer education will help me, even if half the coursework turns out to be obsolete by the time I graduate.
Sometimes I think I’ve spent my life preparing for a world that is dead by the time I’ve completed my preparations.
It’s the fast-moving nature of things that makes it hard to write fiction.
“I Brake for Delmore Schwartz,” a story written four years ago, is already a period piece in that those two guys would already know a lot more about computers than they do: they’d surely be familiar with micros by now and probably would know someone who owned one.
Just four years ago, a VCR was a rarity; by the end of this year, most Americans will probably own one.
Trying to stay on top of things is awfully hard, and that may be why I’ve had such a problem writing fiction and why no one seems able to really capture the present – because by publication date, it’s already the past.
Matt was upset about two more college job rejections and we had a long talk comparing our frustrations with academia.
The thing, as Matt said, is that he wants to be a teacher only so that he can be a composer: “It’s as if an actor came to New York, and all day he went from restaurant to restaurant, getting turned down for waiter jobs.”
I’d like to know how Emerson would have handled living in 1984.