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In the garden

I definitely don't have much in me tonight. I have been too low to even so much as eat today. I feel like I'd be sick. I did walk eleven miles. I climbed the Bunker Hill Monument five times, doing so in less than a half hour. My lungs are as good as they have been. Each time I do five climbs now, sans stopping, running usually the first 100 steps, I'm finishing in less than thirty minutes. That's thirty-four straight days of climbing. I set out to climb five times yesterday, but only climbed once as I had ran three miles, and was partway through walking three miles, when reason prevailed as I was soaked through completely, because of the nor'easter like conditions. Walking over the bridge to Charlestown was like being atop a trawler and I did not wish to risk getting the pneumonia again. I am still in fear of going through what I went through two years ago when I had it, with the 105 degree temperature, the ceaseless migraine that took me back to my childhood when there were fears I had a brain tumor, the teeth-chattering cold, then the sweats that made me like this flowing fountain, and the two trips to the hospital. I'm not a complainer with physical ailments, and my constitution is robust, to understate things, but that was scary. It knocked me out for a whole two weeks, and it might have been longer if I hadn't made that deadline in my head that all strength would be marshaled so not another day was wasted.

An op-ed ran this weekend in The Wall Street Journal, in part about ballet, in part about sexism. The headline was misleading. I did not write the headline. (Well, I wrote a headline, but they didn't go with it, which is what usually happens with op-eds. It's usually happens with most things a person writes, but it often does not with me. For instance, The American Interest frequently uses my title and headline. A lot of writers don't put them in, but hey, I'm at least going to take a shot, because I'd rather have my words up there than someone else's.) A number of people, both men and women, of various ages and from assorted walks of life and regions, wrote me via the site, and every last letter was kind and thoughtful. One woman was taking her children to their first ballet today, another woman said that she and her husband loved the ballet and the piece, a couple guys said it was great that I spoke up, and this one fellow had a great anecdote he shared about how he dated an NYC ballerina in the 1970s and what people would assume about him, and how she handled that at a party. I won't give it away here, but it was very funny. There were also some nice people on my Facebook author page, which basically no one ever goes to. For now.

I read some ghost stories at the Starbucks--"Christmas Eve on a Haunted Hulk" most recently--and listened to some Lavern Baker singles, pitched three ideas to The Daily Beast just now, wrote the preface in my head that I'm contractually bound to do for the anthology that goes along with the story contest I just judged, talked to Rich over at Downtown about what we'll discuss this Tuesday--the Wall Street Journal op-ed, as it were--and the Tuesday following (likely Orson Welles and The Other Side of the Wind and They'll Love Me When I'm Dead [I hope that latter title won't be relevant to my story and I will be alive, and then it can continue on and continue to develop after; though I don't think the true artist can really die; I wonder if I will feel it later when people handle the books and the stories that are me more alive than I am flesh and blood alive])--and we also spoke of something I'll be doing each Christmas on the show. If I go on to make millions of dollars, I'm still going to do these Downtown segments, because I enjoy them and Rich is my friend and I respect him and not a lot of qualities mean more to me than loyalty. This has been a good forum for me to stretch out with on the radio. The NPR segments are so short. And I think it will play a part in what comes next for me, big picture-wise, big opportunity-wise, big payout-wise, big gig-wise, with radio. I asked him what he thought about me just coming on the air, at Christmas, and making an annual tradition of reading some Christmas works. A kind of Christmas Valentine to the listeners. I am pretty sure that for this first time, I will read a Dickens work that very few people know, and a John Clare poem. I'll do well with Audible type things at some point, when I have the opportunity, and I will insist on doing the audiobook versions of all my books personally. I can...well, I can read the fuck out of things.

I've been writing the first two sentences of two new short stories in my head, which I'll put in here later, to then discuss how first sentences can work, on multiple levels. I was bored and needed something to do while I was at the Trader Joe's getting Greek yogurt, kale, unsalted cashews, celery, and strawberries--I know, I eat like I'm ninety-three; would you believe me if I told you that eight years ago I was over 300 pounds? I never looked it, did I, if you go through any old photos like on Facebook. But I was. I'm pretty thin now, I think, and even at 6'1" I wear a L shirt, for instance, and am regularly asked where I go to school or if I play for someone. After my life fell apart, I lost a lot of weight. Then there was the 3000 miles a year of walking. Then, 128 weeks ago today, I gave up drinking, and that, believe me, makes a huge difference. And of course there is me chugging up and down that bloody obelisk. If there's ever a Colin Fleming walking literary tour--you could do one in Boston, and one on Cape Ann--I hope there is a stop at the Monument for people to do as I did--maybe I'll still be doing it--and try and see how many times they can go up and down without stopping. The average time to climb once and descend is fifteen minutes. There were a lot of people from Wisconsin in there today, because they are here for the Patriots v. Packers game (which I'm pretty confident about, in terms of glorious victory fast-approaching). And I will say, the ones I saw did a pretty good job. Hard to believe it's also nine months since I gave up all forms of chips, be they of the Cape Cod or taco variety. I destroy a lot of celery. Quite the dashing figure checking the sodium stats on the back of everything, though I mostly know it all by heart by now. Want to get knocked for a loop? Next time you're at the Trader Joe's, check out the sodium content on something that seems healthy, like vegetable lasagna.

The New York Daily News op-ed that ran the other day made mention of two seemingly random dates, March 19 and June 8. They were not random. March 19 was the day my life fell apart as part of a plan so purely evil that when I wish to give in and die, avenging what happened and having the world know and getting to where I'm going manages to keep me going. And then June 8, which was both the worst day of my life, in 2012, and the day my first book, Dark March, came out in 2013. A book that I could not imagine an artist could have given more to in its creation. A book that is the human soul between covers. And the darkest depths of human pain, and the highest heights of where we might go to, no matter what happens to us. There's nothing here that is not done for a reason, a reason plus a reason, plus a reason. You could, if you wished--and later others will--read into everything. No character's name was random. Everything has had a reason behind it, and usually many.

I walked through the Victory Garden today in the Fenway, on my way to Fenway. It's the oldest victory garden in the country. And though it was fall, many of the plots were overgrown, like plant-life was still trying to overrun all that it could, perhaps sensing that soon it would not be able to.

This was nice to see, too.

Then I went to the Museum of Fine Arts, spending most of my time with American folk art of the nineteenth century and English nature paintings from the same time period. I screened 1947's Dark Passage, one of the four Bogart and Bacall pairings, this one directed by Delmer Daves. It's not very good. Bogart isn't anything special in it. She's good. But talk about a film that asks so much of coincidence. He busts out of prison, and lo, she has set out in her car to pick him up. Handy. He's in danger of getting recognized--duh--so by Jove what good fortune to end up in a cab with a driver who just happens to know a guy who'll operate on your face at three in the morning--that's the time it actually goes down--to make it so that no one knows who you are. What's more, the people who knew you before, when you pop in to visit them, won't even recognize your voice, even if you have Humphrey Bogart's voice. He was forty-five when he married Bacall who was twenty. Worked out, didn't it? Age. People should keep that in mind. What's any of it when there's a connection and, to be cosmetic and half-joking, you look good together? You know what I mean. It looks like you go together. Some people just look like they go together. She's a much better actor than he is.

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