Why yes, yes I can.
It's already late in the morning--almost eight. I am not performing to the level I should be today. I need to get it in gear, soon, with no excuses. The Daily Beast is having me write on "Silent Night." One more to do quickly, cleanly. From mid-March 2012 to the last day of 2012, I wrote fifty-two short stories, sixty magazine pieces, and several million words to an evil person who was having affair, unbeknownst to me, and carrying out an intricate plan to take everything in my life from me. In the middle of that, I had a stroke. I was in California, for ESPN. Mere hours later, I got on a plane, to return home and complete my book, Dark March, thinking I would be dead soon. And you know what? That period of fecundity has been surpassed by what I have done this year. And that makes it worse, that makes them double down.
Yesterday I walked three miles, climbed the Monument three times. My sister sent me this photo of my nephew and fellow C-Dawg, Charlie, who has taken possession of my old Star Wars alarm clock.
I loved this clock, because C-3PO is ferocious with it, barking at you to get your ass up, calling R2-D2 a laggard. Way more intense than you'd expect from the golden rod. (I recently read Timothy Zahn's Heir to the Empire. He says the phrase "put in" way too often, and that thing he does where heartbeats are a unit of measurement gets really old, but this is what they should have made a film out of, not that ridiculous The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi shit.) This is from my esteemed Starbucks bathroom series, after not having shaved since Saturday. Doesn't Charlie look just like me?
Only joking. I put this up because my friend Lisa gets a kick out of the Starbucks series. I think once I wanted her opinion on a shirt, and it turned into an in-joke, and then I guess I was also kind of documenting, really lo-fi style, the artist behind these days. I don't really have anyone to take my picture. Charlie and I are not blood related, me being adopted and all, but he loves nature and good books. I got him The Sibley Guide to Birds! (Two birds with one stone? Hmmm. Not the message I was going for.) Facebook keeps sending me photos of when I was fat five or six years ago (my friends like to say I was never fat, but I am pretty sure I was fat), and it's like, okay, FB, thanks, we're good here, why must you show me Pig Colin? I don't post on the vile Facebook machine--you should leave it, it rots your soul--but I leave my account up. Sometimes I click on the profile of a few friends. It's also amusing to see people who have been exposed on here race to defriend me and shriek to their friends that they must do so as well. That'll learn me. There's a Primal Scream lyric that goes, "You got the money/I got the soul--can't be bought, can't be owned." Kind of apt. But I will also have the money eventually.
Yesterday I went to the MFA before going over to Jordan Hall for a Ran Blake jazz concert. I need the money, so I thought I'd write about it. (You know how in Arthur Miller's The Crucible there is that character buried beneath rocks who says, "More weight!" I feel that way when I take on another, and another, and more, and there are the books to write, and it's like, more stones, you are you, you can do it, different rules here, different ability, stop your whinging, you are who you are, I know you can do more.) I went to the Winnie-the-Pooh exhibit again. It's really good. My biological mother sent me off into this world with one possession--a Pooh stuffed animal. I guess that was on my mind a little bit when I looked at the stuffed Pooh bears they had on display. These are first editions:
And this E.H. Shepard's pencil sketch for the endpaper of 1926's Winnie-the-Pooh.
I met a woman--scientist, twenty-nine, hot, who is now working as an engineer--who told me she would not judge me for going to this exhibit. Gee, thank you for that, wouldn't wish to have someone partake of art, I apologize. People say the strangest, most backwards things. I remarked that Milne was as funny as Wodehouse--yes, yes, my bad; should have known better--to which she replied, "Are they characters in Winnie the Pooh?" Sure, why not. Better, though--this woman had personality and revealed some emotion, which is more than almost everyone seems capable these days--than the woman from Brown who asked me what kind of writing I do. You might not believe how often I get that question. Right now I'm dealing with an entire industry that wants to end me, in which I am its chief pariah, its devil--and, what do you know, it's most published writer; they don't like that--so I'm not the household name I am going to be, but if you don't know my work at all, you don't read very much. Because if you're all about reading the fiction, you know me, or if you're all about reading the op-eds, you know me, or if you're all about reading Beatles stuff, you know me, or if you're all about reading sports stuff, you know me, etc. etc. I should have a copied answer for this question ready to go that I paste in. But these days I just send the link to the site. The main page. You can tell a lot about a person by how they respond. I get that I'm hugely intimidating. It's been that way all my life. I'm nice, but I'm intimidating. Not in my manner, but on account of my mind. And what I do. How I speak. What I know. The rapidity of my thoughts.
But anyone who reads this journal, or listens to the radio clips, or, reads the official work, knows the size of the heart behind it all. Can I stand morons? No. Will I stand morons for work? Yes. If they're playing ball with me. Will I absolutely put your head on a pike on this blog and come at you until you're exposed, defeated, extirpated? Yeah, if you are one of the corrupt people in publishing doing your best to kill off literature and equity and justice, and what is right, and you have cowardly done what you could in back corridors to keep what I do from the world. Anyway, the woman from Brown asks the question, gets the link, and replies with "Oh. Short fiction."
Now, you're either an idiot or incredibly pretentious--or both--if you visit the main page of this site, see that bio, see the tabs, and respond with that. And you do so in the cool person, "There's nothing to see here" manner. I know how unusual it is. A burro knows how unusual it is, if he sees it. Probably should draw some comment or reaction, unless you're all about trying not to show that you care, are taken aback, etc. If you are fake, if you stage-manage your interactions like that, I will know it in .000000001 seconds, and we will never interact again. A woman once reached out to my friend John, because she wanted to know him, if she was going to be in my life, as she knew of the love that John and I have for each other. She led with the familiar, "I've never known anyone like him, etc." stuff, before John just said, "Just don't be off. Don't lie. It's Colin, he's going to know."
Ironically, I did not know with my wife, as black a mark as their could be on a record like this, whom I trusted more than I ever trusted John, Lisa, my mother, my sister, my friend Norberg who has been my friend for twenty-five years and who has seen more of correspondence and writing in various stages than everyone else. I put my life in her hands. And I was very wrong to have done so. I've never heard of a betrayal so extreme and so out of nowhere--not in life, not in what people have shared with me from their lives, not in film, literature, Germanic opera--so cold, so calculating, so intricately planned. But that is no comfort. It doesn't assuage the guilt I have on a personal level for having been so stupid in trusting that person--it's not even a person, that's not a human, that's a sub-person--with anything. Anyway. You can have no clue who Wodehouse is, or anything like that, but if you're genuine, if you're true, we can be something or other for life. Possibly. Maybe "just" friends, but we will be real and deep friends in a manner that, I would not be surprised, redefines your understanding of friendship, being there for someone, fealty, counsel. But what I knew about this woman was that she completely sucks at the most basic level of reading comprehension, and/or, with typical Ivy League snobbery, she only allows fiction to be considered "real writing."
When this is over--hell, deep in the middle of it--I will be known more than anything for my fiction, for my stories, for my novels, for Musings with Franklin, Anglerfish, The Freeze Tag Sessions, "Pillow Drift," etc. I'll move in all forms of media, richly and vastly, but it will all come back to the stories I tell and told, and how I tell and told them. But the best fiction writer there has been was also the best nonfiction writer. So, I wished her well. Now, if you come back to me with, "Hey, I was nervous, I was just trying to say what I thought you'd like to hear, I shouldn't have done that, can we start again?" I'll start again with you. Because you've been real. I don't do artifice. Don't, won't. You don't have to bring your A game with me, paradoxically enough. There is very little chance, on the intellectual level, your A game is going to impress me, with what transpires in my head. It's not going to be for us to compete there. But you do need to bring your real game. I guess someone could say--and they could be correct--couldn't you just have assumed she was nervous and given her that benefit of the doubt? You might have missed out on something great. That could definitely be true. But I just don't have the patience for that these days, I find. And for someone who would end up being a part of this cause, this fight, with what is happening here every day, what I am taking on? And they were already that cowed by a basic first interaction? They wouldn't nearly have the stuff. I figure this person I am looking for is such a world beater, I will know her when I meet her. That's a silly notion, on some levels. I allow that. I try to have the patience. I try to give the benefit of the doubt sometimes even where I see no doubt. I can be better at this. I will work to get better at it. But something about this woman just rubbed me the wrong way. It was also a gut thing. I'm not saying mine is unimpeachable.
And this is the MFA's Christmas tree, in the rotunda under a not-especially-good Sargent mural.