Not that this was a hugely productive weekend, but I finally showed some signs of trying to live. Of course, it can be so easy to slide back down, to give in, to give up; when you know what you create is better than what has been created or is being created, and you are are buried with that work before you try to do anything with it, on account of a system that wishes you to remain underground, it's hard to even brush your teeth. What makes it harder is the quality of the work. Because you know what it is, you know what it will do, when it is not buried, when there is some backing. It appears that I am going to have to be all of my own backing to get this done, and I'm still trying to figure that out. This journal is part of that.
But what did I do this weekend? As I said, it was not hugely productive, by my standards. I did hit 868 days without a drink today. Yesterday I climbed the Monument twice, two times each time. There was a gap of about twenty minutes in-between, but I didn't stop at all. I was already dressed for the day and did not wish to be a sweaty mess, so I ran no stairs, but my pace was even.
In between those two sets of two, I sat outside the Monument and worked some more on that story, "Dunedin," in my head. What occurred to me is that there were two approaches here to the same story, written in completely different styles, one having a second part component as it toggled between temporal realms, which allowed me to invent a new mode of fiction, I found, the more I sat there and explored. Then I asked myself, okay, which story do you wish to do? Then it hit me: do both. This is my "Strawberry Fields Forever," without the two separate entities being fused. As I intimated earlier, there is no point in me sending out work presently, on account of the blackballing, which became pandemic after I published stories in Harper's and Glimmer Train and starting lighting it up more in other areas. The op-eds. I have some places to go to, but as my roster/stat sheet post of a few entries back attests, I have so much work as it is that needs placing. And I think more and more about, "when you are past these people, when you are a household name, when you are looked to, what would it be like if you have twenty stockpiled masterpieces that you're ready to roll on?" People would think I wrote them then and there. Now, I can write new ones then and there, but this is not a hill to die on right now. I know that the Alaska Quarterly Review people hate me, and let's be honest, I'm shooting for something so far beyond a place like that. The road to glory isn't paved with back issues of the Alaska Quarterly Review. What I'll do when I have the two stories--the two approaches--completed is I'll send them in an email to my inner circle. My inner circle receives emails from me with everyone cc'ed. What each person will do, I suspect, is click on the first Word .doc, read it, think that story the perfect handling of the subject matter, and then click on the second attachment and see a totally different approach, and this is new, I've not done this before. As I try to remain alive, my focus is on getting past these people, of course, and it's also on the body of work. For when the day comes, and this grand unveiling, unleashing occurs. I have the museum and it's the best museum there has ever been, and it's stocked to the hilt with all manner of art, in all styles, but they will not let my museum open. The public is not in my museum. But eventually, that day will come when the doors are thrown open, and all are welcomed in, and then it will be away we go. You want to have the best novel, the best story collection, the best essay collection, the best body of op-eds, the best film writing, the best children's book, you want to have entirely new forms of prose-based art that are beyond the parameters of what others have done; doing this new thing, this two approach thing to the same story, with each being equally valid and successful but completely divergent, is another significant wrinkle for the body or work. "He bloody did that too?" Yeah. He did.
So I sat and I thought, and I climbed again. Today I awoke and began screening 1958's Corridors of Blood, which is a nice little cheapie horror film starring Boris Karloff. It's effective for Halloween, but it's really a medical horror film. There are no ghosts, no monsters. It's about the invention of anesthesia. Karloff did genteel roles well in horror films. Gentleman roles. Then I ran three miles. It's the first time in a while I've ran. Before, my goal was to do three threes, as I called it. Run three miles, walk a mile and a half, climb the Monument three times, walk another mile and a half. Then I started doing the five straight climbs. So it was a three, a five, a three. Run, climb, walk. My goal today was to do three straight climbs, with running, no stopping. When I'm really on the game here, I climb five times, and each time I run the first 100 steps, and I don't stop. I finish in a half hour. I'm building back up to that, which is Zulu warrior level. Three straight climbs, no stopping, is Zulu cadet level. Now, I didn't stop because I decided to or had to, but I couldn't do it three times today without stopping at all today because some very out-of-shape tourists were doubled over and wheezing like they were each about to have a heart attack and this they insisted upon doing in the middle of a stair, rather than doing their dying up against the wall. And then there were these geniuses who would stop completely each time someone was coming the other way. There's more than enough room for two-lane traffic. Nonetheless, I was not stopped much, and most of the time I was in constant motion and had no trouble doing what I set out to do. That's six days in a row that I've climbed.
On my run this cute woman was coming up behind me. She was obviously a runner. Most people who run are runners, or were runners; by which I mean, they did it competitively. In high school, at least. Not me. I'm just trying to get through my three miles. I don't have the technique. I'm just not very good at it. I never was. So I'm going past this bocce pit where the old men of the North End gather to roll some balls. They all look like they're each three bills, easily, and they all smoke cigars or cigarettes--it's like running through a tobacco cloud--and they have a lot of boxes of coffee--those Box 'o Joe things--from the Dunkin' and lots of boxes of donuts on tables. These are guys who never drink a coffee without five sugars in it. Anyway, she was coming up behind me, and one guy starting egging her on. "You can pass him!" And that she did! Eventually. Not long thereafter. But then it occurred to me that if I did not look like a runner who looked like he knew what he was doing, there would have been no fun in the little jape. And naturally I was thinking, "Right, I'd like to get you in Monument!" Yes, I realize that sounds creepy. But the Monument is more my turf. I'm not very good at running, but I'm the king of climbing and obelisk. I will wear you out in that Monument!
As I was walking back to Charlestown to climb, I saw a man, about forty-five, out with his kids. He had a neck tattoo. One of his kids, this sweet little girl with a pink bike, asked him if he would pass her her helmet, also pink. And this guy threw it high up in the air, so that the kids backed away, and it came bouncing down on the ground not far from the girl's bike, which caused the guy to laugh very hard, and add, "That was so funny," as if he were a dim five-year-old. It was kind of sad and troubling. The kids seemed quite bright.
I watched enough of the Red Sox game last night to confirm that what I knew was going to happen in fact happened. A friend of mine texted me before the start of the game that it was almost game time, and I responded to her that it was time for us to watch David Price get rocked. And, of course, he did, because he is, by any measure, the worst postseason performer in the history of North American sports. I defy you to find someone even close. How could you be close? You'd have to be incredibly successful in the regular season such that you get chance after chance to fail in the postseason, because what would a manager do? Stick you in the bullpen in the playoffs, which is akin to saying, "Look, he does well in the regular season, but he is so weak and fragile and cowardly, that in the postseason he can't start a game." But what I saw last night I'd never even seen before from Price. First pitch of the game, and he couldn't bring himself to throw it. The umpire was about to call time out, the batter was starting to move out of his stance to call time. Never seen that before. Then when he did throw the ball, he threw it past everyone, to the backstop. Cora must have known, at that point, that Price was going to shit the bed yet again. He is now 0-9 in ten postseason starts, with an ERA over 6. As psychologically weak as any star player I have ever seen. I really can't think of a comparable in any sport for how mentally weak this man is. Ironically, if he's in the bullpen, he can succeed. I think that's in part because he doesn't view that as his thing, his ass on the line; hence, no pressure.
While we're on the Sox: Mookie Betts is a problem. Has anyone noticed that he sucks in the postseason? Why does no one comment on this? This is his third postseason. He has played nine games. He has zero home runs and zero RBI. Zeros! He's hitting .143 so far this series.
After working out, I pitched an idea to The Daily Beast for Halloween about how Orson Welles's approach to The War of the Worlds broadcast (which is hitting its eightieth anniversary), in which he was reliant on the work of others--rather than functioning as a one man band--helped prepare him to direct Citizen Kane. He was the marshaller, the shaper, the person who brought the work of others together, rather than trying to be everything at once himself. Same with Kane. Then I pitched an op-ed idea to USA Today, also for Halloween, looking at the normalization of ghosting--get it, ghosts?--and what that increasingly costs the ghoster. Doing the right thing is like exercising. Facing things is like exercising. When you exercise less, your body gets flabby, it becomes harder to do things; same with doing the right thing, or facing things, when we do less and less of those things. Obviously this hurts the ghostee, but the ghoster has an increasingly hard time deal with the realities and problems of their own lives. The corner-cutting adds up. People become weaker, more alone, more depressed, more unwell. More capable of being absolutely wrecked and destroyed by any truth entering into their worlds.
I then walked another five miles, and took in a play, this being Sherlock's Last Case at the Huntington Theatre. Novel ideas, well-handled. Essentially, Watson hates Holmes, blames him for years of being overlooked and viewed as a lackey, and has been nursing a plan to kill him, which he puts in motion. There is no sleuthing. There is a lot of humor. With the play still being serious. Does that make sense? It's not an outright comedy or farce. But comedy is the most salient virtue. And I say this about a play that ends with Watson shooting himself offstage as Holmes, who is trying to hook up, says to his would-be paramour that it's just the Guy Fawkes Night fireworks going off. Next it was on to the Trader Joe's to gather up some provisions, which make me look like an old man. Celery, strawberries (heart), bran muffins, lemons, dark chocolate (heart). Even before I stopped drinking, and ever since, each day I cut a lemon in two and squeeze the juice into a mug and fill it with water and drink this for my liver. I still do this to make sure I'm offsetting whatever liver damage I might have done. Scientifically this makes little sense at this point--the liver is a fast-healing organ, so long as you don't go past that point where it can't heal itself--but I just want to be safe. Also, saltless cashews. And Swiss cheese in string cheese form. Swiss cheese is low in sodium. Most cheese is not. Some cheeses, in fact, have more sodium than ocean water. I read the sodium on the backs of everything now. Well, at this point I don't have to, because I already know. Anything processed has a lot of sodium. Even if it sounds healthy, like vegetable lasagna. That's like 900 mg of sodium. Cray.