Yesterday I went to the Admiral and the Captain's to watch the Patriots game and spent the day in Medford. They were kind to me as always and sent me home with a lot of food.
The Admiral saved a man's life this year, which was on the news and he received a number of awards, so I learned about that and saw video of him saving the man's life while putting himself in danger without hesitation, which is exactly how the Admiral is. He also had a stroke himself. His health seems good now.
The Admiral and the Captain are uncomplicated people who have always been there for me and helped me many times. The Captain likes to watch TCM but as she tells me, she has been intimidated by my mind since I was a child. She's known me my whole life. We can't really talk movies--for instance, Orson Welles came up--unless I kind of just nod and keep it very vague and topical and mostly smile and listen, but I care about them deeply and they have my eternal gratitude and respect. I tend not to talk about myself at all and keep the focus elsewhere, because how could I go into things and forces and problems this large, this unprecedented? And what I am doing. The size and the scope of everything. It's all just too much.
The Admiral and the Captain feature in the essay, "A Midshipman Lights Out"--which they've read; the Captain told me it made her cry--that was published a few years ago and is in Glue God: Essays (and Tips) for Repairing a Broken Self.
It's about the day I had to go to Rockport in autumn 2012 to take the last of my possessions out of my beloved house I'm trying to get back. One of the very worst days of my life, which is saying something, considering how many hundreds and hundreds of days there has been that would kill someone else.
The Captain looked at me at one point--she took charge--and told the Admiral that he had to get me the hell out of there--I must have looked like death--and I remember driving in the car with him, leaving the town behind, feeling like there was a scalpel being taken to my soul.
I was married to a very evil person. It's an evil I don't even mention much in these pages. An unsurpassable evil. And a singular betrayal given the context and what was really a set-up of the worst kind. I think often about the lowest level of hell, how Dante put Judas in Satan's mouth. This is past Judas, if one knows the context and that set-up. What I was asked to do and give, what I was led to believe I should have done and given. The trust I was encouraged to cede over.
The time for all of those words will come.
In a real manner I was dead in those moments on that day the three of us drove up to Rockport and I stood on the driveway and watched what was happening. I think I may have actually died in some capacity. I think about that a lot. I think about it when I don't want to write another piece that probably won't run when it would come due to run in eleven months and I say, "Well, write it, it'll be better than anything else anyone has written, and it can go in a book after your time has come," or when I don't want to run the stairs because it's freezing, but I think, "You will not give in, you will be healthy, you will endure, you will win, now run your stairs." I think about my house and getting it back. The Admiral has been like a second father to me. There are not kinder people than these people.
When I first got there a little while after noon, the Captain asked me if I would do something for her and send her a copy of "this amazing story." Word of "Best Present Ever" had reached them before I did. As it was, I had already printed out a copy and brought it with me, inscribed, "To Elaine and Pat, Christmas 2022, Love, Colin," which seemed to say what ought to have been said.
A friend finished reading Scrooge and was texting me throughout the day about the book, a mixture of how it was the best thing they'd ever read, just like the Sam Cooke book was, and how it was worse than criminal what the people of this industry are doing to me, how sick it is, evil, etc., trying to deprive the world of the most amazing work there has been. Then they called me and told me they loved me and it will all change and we will have Christmas in my house in Rockport.
I came home and watched It's a Wonderful Life, thinking a few things. "Best Present Ever" goes where this movie doesn't. I made the best ever Christmas work that is also so much more. I know I did it. I couldn't know anything more. Also, I should write a book about It's a Wonderful Life because it'd be awesome. Someone texted me pretty late--it was about 11--and said that they were now going to read "Best Present Ever" to their family as Christmas Eve became Christmas itself. I'll probably hear how that went later.
Then I lay in bed and thought more about the two novels, The Year and EU, because they--either both or one or the other, depending on the day--are what I need to be doing every day, giving myself over to them.
This morning, around eight, I ran 3000 stairs and did 200 push-ups here on what is my eleventh Christmas in a row alone.
I have a friend who is alone this Christmas because of the weather--he can't get a flight to join his wife--so I wrote him a note of well-wishing and a small bit of advice.
There is a family I did much for. They had asked for my help many times. I gave of my time, my energy, my money, and my counsel and was repeatedly treated poorly. Mental illness runs in this family. To just leave it at that. One of them asked me to meet them at a cafe several months ago. I arrived. They ghosted me. No explanation of any sort ever came. The texts I sent as I sat there thinking there had to have been some mix-up were ignored. One of these people sent me the same two-word text that she sent me last Christmas. I did so much for this family. Me. In this situation I am in. I still gave and gave. The temerity to send me this text--the insanity to send me this text--warrants the harshest response.
But as I've said, we must ask ourselves the kind of person we wish to be. I do things in this journal that I don't want to do in exposing the behavior of people in publishing. I don't want to put them up. That's one reason I avoid the email, which I'm now addressing and getting better about. Because I will see things--examples of undeniable bigotry--that will mean I have to do things I don't want to to. But I must.
You can't let someone rape you, abuse you, end your life, bury you alive, and also deprive the world, without fighting back. That's different. That's life and death. That's right and wrong. It's also a moral imperative. And to do nothing is to have no self-respect for yourself. It's to hate yourself. It's to not love yourself. So I do what I need to do. This text, meanwhile, I won't dignify with a response, because I will not let myself be a lesser person. And it's Christmas. I have spent eleven Christmases alone, as I have said. But Christmas is Christmas, my heart is my heart, and I am what I am.
What are you?
As I write these words I have received other texts about "Best Present Ever." That friend, his wife, and their two children were up to 1:30 in the morning--Christmas morning--reading the story. He told me his girls were "engulfed," which is a word I've never known him to write or say in the quarter of a century we have known each other, then added it is impossible for him to get his girls to focus on anything for fifteen minutes and that the story really is the best present ever and will now always be a tradition in their house. He also just sent me a text of a video of his kids thanking me with huge smiles on their faces and joy in their voices.
But you can't read that story right now because the publishing industry hates the man who wrote it so much that they won't let you see it. They hate him because he is better than they are. And because he can write, and always does write, like no one ever has. And no one can deny that.
But you will get to see this story at some point and have a chance to love it, because I'm not going to stop fighting. And I will win.
Today marks 2359 days, or 237 weeks, without a drink. Once again I thought as I ran the stairs in the cold on this lonely morning, "You really need to believe in something to be doing this."
What I believe is that I have something that can change the world to the good more than anything ever has. That's what I believe. And this I believe in more than anything. This is what I know.
I got a coffee for $2 at the Golden Goose and listened to Gene Autry's Complete Columbia Christmas Songs.
Worked more on "Net Drive."
Listened to a BBC adaptation of Dickens' "The Signal-Man" that was released today, also The Andy Williams Christmas Album, which I may write about for Christmas next year, and the Carleton Hobbs BBC radio version of "The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle." Watched a 1988 adaptation of W.W. Jacobs' "The Monkey's Paw" and the new Mark Gatiss entry in the A Ghost Story for Christmas series, Count Magnus, based off the M.R. James story.
My friend Howard sent me a Deep Purple box set I've been looking for.
It's part of a huge musical archiving process for when I'm back at my house in Rockport--but I've been downloading thousands of unreleased sessions and live gigs by many artists to various storage sites, so that they are there for when I do have the time to unzip them, convert them, organize them, and listen to them and study them and enjoy them when I am out of this situation.
I'd have to convert these Flac files to mp3--again, it's a huge project--but essentially I'm building a music library containing every single second of available sound from hundreds and hundreds of artists. So, every single known tape of Pink Floyd, as one example. Today I uploaded all of the zip files for every available note recorded of Led Zeppelin in 1968 and 1969. What that means is, it's not just one recording of their appearance at, say, the Texas Pop Festival in 1969, but everything that exists from that show. If there's another tape, or that same soundboard tape but with an audience source patched in where necessary, I grab that, too.
It'll be the most comprehensive musical library anyone--or any museum, library, research body, university--has assembled when I'm done.
And I'm going to sit there at my house in Rockport and my house on Cape Cod and create work for the ages every single day--and work to impact the world I am in every single day--and fish at the beaver pond in the woods and skate on it in winter and read books on a headlands overlooking the sea and sit up late at night and pick anything I want--because it'll all be available--to listen to.
And if I want to hear what the Who sounded like on a Wednesday in 1970 after hearing what they sounded like the day before on Tuesday, I can do that, and I"m going to do that. And I'm going to be happy doing that.
Right now, I am filing it all away so that it will be available. These things don't stay up indefinitely. Other things I can't find at the moment will get circulated again or come into my purview.
I've said in these pages and on the air that I don't think in terms of being proud. I expect what I expect from myself. I deliver on those expectations, and to me, delivering on expectations isn't a reason for being proud. I don't think in terms of proud or not proud. If I did things I was ashamed of I would be ashamed. I've been ashamed. I've let myself down.
But I think I should allow myself to feel proud today. I set out to create the best work of Christmas art ever. That's what I was going to do and I did it. I am proud that "Best Present Ever" crushes A Christmas Carol and It's a Wonderful Life. I decided to do it and I did it. I didn't wonder if I could. I decided that I would. Then I did. And no one who reads that story can take that away from me. That's real. And it's real that it's not close.
Everything in my journey and my journey of becoming who I now am brought me to that story.
I've been laying low--or, I should say, laying at some remove--and am mostly away from the various forms of electronic connection, but some things are reaching me regardless.
Rarely do I hear from my old college roommate, but he texted me today when I happened to be checking the time while reading Farjeon and drinking strong black tea at Starbucks. He and his wife have a girl and a boy. He said they made a family event out of reading "Best Present Ever" and that his kids were mesmerized by the story and he was blown away and would be reading it again shortly because there is so much in it and so much to savor.
I know this man well. He was at my side as my father was dying. I can tell from his words how deeply stirred he was.
These reactions are speaking to what I know I have with this story. It's the ultimate work for children, and it's even more a work for adults. It's both. And that is how people are experiencing it. Children and adults.
This story needs to come out as a stand-alone book. I'd say that I need a publisher with some vision--though none of them have any vision--but really it's just common sense.
You can't do the stand-alone story mini-book thing with much on the obvious face of things. You could do it with "Fitty" because of the social issue. You can certainly do it with "Best Present Ever" because it's a Christmas story.
There is that series of ghost story gift books which I've been mentioning. You couldn't do it with just one of them, but as a series, that works, even when you buy just one, but that one couldn't just be out there as a mini-book without others belonging to a kind of line.
But the best Christmas story that is itself the ultimate present and has that idea in the very title? You could do that on its own. That could really be something. If 100 people see that story, they're going to be telling a lot of other people about it, all the more so if there's a way to share it, to buy it for them, tell them to buy it. It'll spread through that word of mouth, that story.
I'll insert the cover below of the volume for E.F. Benson's "How Fear Departed the Long Gallery," because that's the kind of size I'm talking about. The book dimensions and the "feel."
I share it for anyone out there in the right position if they wanted to check out the specs on the Benson book with this idea in mind, and who is then free to ask me to see this "Best Present Ever." I'll likely oblige, and they will read it and then say, "Oh my God, we need to do this."