Last week I wrote to you. The post started, “I don’t know how I’m going to get the gumption or gusto to write this post.” Then cursor blink. I blinked back. Today I wrote this post, this paragraph being a post-post prolog. This time as you can see I wrote the post, but still I sat blinking at it, mulling should I post it.
I show up just to say Hi, but once I start writing it comes out a bit, I’m gonna say depressed, and I’m not exactly, or I don’t feel like being publically, so I hold back. But then an old friend wrote and told me he was having a hell of a time of it, grieving a bad loss. So I said to my hamletty, hesitating self, ah post your low notes in minor key, they might resound somewhere and who am I to be so strict a censor. Anyway, Dear Bleader,
If April is the cruelest month why are we so sad in winter? If April looks at our sadness and shoves flowers in our faces, shouldn’t that mean we perk up a bit when abandoned to the cold? Forget “At least it’s not raining,” here comes “At least it’s not April.” “At least there are no flowers.” I never saw the best minds of my generation though I felt around for them. Some were destroyed by madness starved hysterical but most, if not quite mudders, could at least keep the tops of their boots above the water.
I used to work all day and some of the night, reading and writing. At some point I noticed as a side note that I was a bit miserable. Counsel was to work many fewer hours. That took long enough, struggling to do that, coming to believe it was better for the work to be at it less anyway. I’d been hiding in there, hard work though it had been. Now I’m out part of the time and part of that time am awfully oppressed by time.
It seems I’m not much in the mood for most things but maybe it is more that I can’t forgive anything for its part in the disappointment, the general wanting for more. Wanting terribly without knowing what you are wanting leads to some interesting investigations, not least a stint with a ukulele. It was orange and I loved it until I started to be mowed down a little lower each practice that got no better, finally I put it up on a shelf like canning for someone else’s winter.
I talk to the departed. If you had stayed, you might have learned, as I have, to shout at the shadow of your marauding paint-splattered mother, and you, sunshine, you might have said to the big-bad dad of speaking, “Hey, you do not do. Not anymore, black shoe.”
They didn’t want to eat the plums in the fridge which someone else was saving as a possible way to shake off the terrible compromises of the night and face the blank, hungry day. They did not want to eat them. They left them behind.
Is that what I have travelled gladly beyond? That is what I have travelled gladly beyond, and at this point will eat any unguarded plums anywhere, without apology. With the desperate hand of betrayal hoping to leave behind, in the plum dish, a little of my excess bitterness for all the plums that by now have been purloined, most often by the fates, from me, and my imaginary better life, from which I lived like a foot for thirty years, poor and white, and barely daring to breathe or ach du.
I took the plums but couldn’t eat them. I’ve still got them. They have become that thing absurd, the dream deferred, now raisins. In the sun I still have some faith, even when through a closed window it can be a warm feeling almost as nice as drugs used to be. Did you read the piece by Donald Hall in the New Yorker this week? It is an essay on looking out the window, old, and between pages on birds and snow he reports on his life with a phrase for each decade, his thirties bad, his forties forgotten because he was drunk, fifties a good total change of life. Each brings so many questions none of which he there answers. We’re in the middle of so many adventures. Life, I’ve long said, is a decent book with a terrible pacing problem.
I love my office but it is not a well-insulated room and sitting thinking and typing gets to be cold work lately.
Well bleads, that is as far as I got before. Now I’ll just add that I do have some actual things to tell you and that if the sun hits me just right I will be back to tell you them soon. Oh and if you feel like coming out, I’m reading this Sunday at 6pm at Le Poisson Rouge.
I know it is a cold, hard season and many places, including my own, have gone without the benefit of snow. But look to your decades, eat your raisons, post your posts. Try not to be drunk through your entire forties unlike Donald Hall. No but seriously, it’s hard, all these slow motion changes and lightening flash results. Everything will be all right. At least it’s not April.