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Johnny Bone

Monday 9/30/19

Saturday was a train day. A day where I barely hang on. I am a danger to myself on these days, or maybe I am closer to being my liberator. If I take the leap into a next world that might be better. Where I will have a place. Maybe it's a best-on-best tournament, and it is me vs. Keats and Beethoven and Shakespeare, and I get to whip their asses because it's a meritocracy and no hard feelings, we can fight it out again the next day, may the best artist win. I had to call John and tell him what was happening so that he knew and we could talk because I was doing even worse than usual. I walked twenty miles. I forced myself to. On this twenty mile walked I talked--texted--with a woman from Tinder. She was not dynamic. But she didn't talk about horoscopes, or barrage me with acronyms, and she spelled the words in her profile correctly. That's how low the bar is. I'm looking for female Rousseau, but given that it's so rare that you can even understand something someone tries to write--it's not a female thing, it's a person thing, I'm not saying men are better--I will talk to that person. Maybe they will surprise me. They never do.

She asked me what I was doing. I told her about my day. The activities. She said that I was having a great time. It was like she was a stamp and that was what she was stamping into me. I said--because I don't like to lie, I like to go into anything with a degree of honesty, which does not mean full disclosure or accounting, because that takes time, obviously, with me, with this situation, and this quest--that I don't really have good days right now, I have things I do, but this is a separate concept, it's a hard patch. I would never try to tell someone what kind of day they were having. I'll believe you if I know you are honest and tell me how you feel. You get to decide if your day is a good one. Your feelings decide that. That's not up to me to arbitrate. That would be presumptuous. That would be ignorant. That would be simple-minded.

The Beatles had millions of millions of dollars and so much adoration, and they were pretty miserable people once they had that. They were happier before they made it big, battling, in Hamburg. We talked some more. Something about Emma came up. I showed her a photo of the two of us. We are at Modern Pastry in it. We're both kind of smirking. It's a cute photo. Again the woman--but as if she's trying to win a contest--tells me that I have great days. She goes there again. And I just say, you have no idea what someone might be dealing with and that's a very simple-minded way to think, we're not a fit, but I wish you the best. Not the one. But when you're only talking to someone because they spell some words correctly and nothing else compels you, that won't be the one for me. I wonder if she exists. Remember the film Ordinary People? The best I ever seem to encounter are ordinary people. And that's fine. Ordinary people are great. But for me personally, I can't build a life with one, I can't go through what I'm going through, and what I will be doing once I get through this, with one. I need the most extraordinary person.

About a mile from Fenway Park, I stopped at a table outside an apartment building where an older gentleman was selling some items. He had some old Red Sox yearbooks. I bought one from 1976 for $5, thinking it would look good someday, somewhere, in my house in Rockport if I ever get it back, or a second house on the Cape, which is my plan. I'm still fighting. We talked a little about Ted Williams. He saw him play. I wondered how many times this man--he was about twice my age--had walked from this apartment out on Beacon Street to Fenway.

Sunday was 1225 days without a drink. I walked five miles, climbed the Monument ten times. I composed a new short story called "Anise." The other day I wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed on the best baseball photo, which dates to eighty years ago, which very few people have ever seen. It's the last photo of Lou Gehrig in uniform, he's walking off the field in Cincinnati after the Yankees had beaten the Reds in the World Series. Last week I wrote two more short stories. One of them is a Christmas story about having sex with your sister. It's more complicated than that. I can't write better. I'm exploding all walls. That's called "Exhultations." The other story is called "6-4-3." I have begun another today, called "Elvers." It's thirty-six full stories completed since last June. Eight others are in various states of composition. The publishing world will not let a single one come out. When the publishing community learned about the publication of "Edges" in Harper's two years ago, that it was coming, I mean, because word travels, the hate and the blackballing, bad as it was, went to new levels. That pretty much ended me. That thing that sends other people, regardless if they have talent or not, into opening channels. The doubling down became quadrupling down.

All I've done since is get better and better. I am so much better than I was three weeks ago. I feel it. You know it. You know it when you have it and you're doing it. I sat in cafes yesterday afternoon and evening and read for work. On Friday I pitched an idea about the secret history of how the NFL came to be integrated. No one knows the story. There were black players in the NFL, then they were removed. An integration, after a segregation, after there had been blacks and whites playing together, had to take place, in essence. I know that story. It's also a story that dovetails with themes of our age. I sent the idea to two people at The New York Times Magazine. It is the 100th anniversary of the NFL. Are you telling me that a three or four thousand word piece on this subject, written as I can write, is not going to go over well? It would. But no one will write me back, I am sure. I'll send it to The Atlantic also. No place has ever done me worse than The Atlantic, if you know what they have told me and our history. I am trying to hang in there as long as I can before I share that full story on here, because it is an ugly, ugly story. Not because of what it reflects upon me. I just want to work. I don't want to light you up on this journal. I don't want trouble. But I am not going to sit back and allow my life to be ruined, ended. I am not going to partake in someone else's raping of my life, of their blatant discrimination. An editor of mine elsewhere was under fire--I wrote about that Debbie Harry memoir review--so I reached out to her yesterday offering some words of support.

I am trying to figure out how to make audio files of my Downtown appearances. I treat each appearance as a work of art. If you transcribed what I said, I think that would be a work of art. In some ways, they are all works of composition. My mother said she would like some recordings. We don't really talk. She said she likes to hear my voice before she goes to bed. Which surprised me, touched me. If I had an assistant this is the kind of thing I would turn them loose on, but there must be a way to get this figured out. I wonder if it is like making recordings of YouTube sound. I know how to do that. This week on the show I'll discuss Myron Cope's The Game That Was, which I hold as the best football book. It's from 1970. It's an oral history with early NFL players like Johnny Blood, quite the character. And the Red Sox and where they went afoul, and why last year's campaign was not the rosy-hued all-time achievement people think, but involved a lot of luck and was something of a fluke, not a historically great campaign or team. Also, Washington Irving and "Rip Van Winkle," and Rousseau's Reveries of a Solitary Walker.

I was in something of a quandary yesterday and I was not sure what to do, but I think I ended up doing the right thing and feel better about it now. I had mentioned not seeing Emma last week. She got this haircut she hates. It's very short. She thinks she looks like a boy and she doesn't. I told her she looks beautiful, because she does, but I have sensed that more is troubling her. This summer, I recall a day when she slept for seventeen hours. And I understood that while on the outside Emma's life might be a certain way, be going a certain way, all good, that doesn't mean certain issues she has to contend with, as part of her make-up, her DNA, go away. I told myself to keep an eye on this. Her best friend Anthony left for college a couple weeks ago, and now her grandfather--the one who lives in the North End--has been diagnosed with stomach cancer. It's very unusual for me not to see Emma for more than two or three days. I have no problem with that. What matters is that she is happy and doing what she wants to do. That does not have to involve me. But, we do live thirty feet away right now, and I do know that certainly when it comes to the people outside of that apartment, I am the person with whom she feels she can most be herself. Part of that is because we are on a wavelength that neither of us is really on with anyone else. That's not anyone's fault. It's the nature of our minds. So I know when she is withdrawing. What I don't know is who else might know this. I also know that Emma is incredibly smart, and if she wants people to think something, or not think something--and it can be because she doesn't want to worry them--she can pull this off. She cannot pull it off with me. I can just tell with her. She can to a degree with me as well.

She slept until eleven yesterday. I'd seen her once in a week and a half, when she knocked on the door on Friday to give me a hug. It wasn't a "I miss you" hug, it was a "I need this" hug. She keeps a bag of candy in her room, hidden away somewhere, because she has a fiendish sweet tooth, and I had bought her some candy, which I figured I would at least give to her. I was at Vittoria reading for work, I texted her to see what she was up to, to drop by if she wanted, she said she had to visit her grandfather. Bunch of hours go by, it's almost five. I ask her where she's at, she said she just got back, I asked how it went. She said she was normal. That was her word. That's a little troubling. I asked what she meant by this, she said she acted like she was not depressed. Now I'm thinking, okay, who else knows what is going on here? Susan probably knows. But, she also might not. I don't want to offend Susan and make it seem like I'm trying to parent someone else's child. But my main concern is Emma and her health. I think, okay, it would be useful to sit with Emma and talk to her, because then I will have a better idea of what she's doing, whom she is or isn't confiding in.

She went to therapy down at the end of our street. And she stopped going. She was doing really well. Personally, I would keep going in that case. She said that I helped her more than her therapist, by which she means, in terms of insight. I get that. But that doesn't mean that the act of talking aloud to a therapist is not salubrious. I don't wait to have a heart attack to start climbing the Monument. I climb to forestall heart attacks. It works for me. This was working for Emma. I tell her to come out, we'll eat, we'll chat a bit, and she says that she's tired. It's five in the afternoon. She got up at eleven. I say something to her about how I get this is hard, but she needs to fight back, to force herself to do things, that sadness can beget sadness. She's kind of humoring me now, because she's not dealing. She says "I'll try man."

I text John and say what do you think I should do here, but as it turns out, he was on a boat fishing on the Chesapeake. It was a big day for John. Recently he cut his thumb to the bone--so now me and Emma call him Johnny Bone--and got stitches, so yesterday he takes them out on his own. Who does that? Johnny Bone, that's who. So finally I just texted Susan. I said that maybe she already knew all of this, but I wanted to err on the side of caution because it was Emma and I just would not have felt right otherwise. Hope that's okay. She talked with Emma and the latter opened up a great deal, and Susan reached out to Emma's old therapist--old as in, hadn't met with Emma since the spring--and also Emma's new school. I would think school's today are equipped for this, because it happens a lot. This is an art school, and it just seems to me that they would be especially equipped for this. That made me feel a lot better.

Johnny Bone saw the texts and phoned this morning, to discuss the usual--what to do about this hell I am buried within--and this other stuff. Once I knew what was going on and a plan was in place, I didn't want to pressure Emma into having to be social--she knows she can be a lump with me, and that's cool, but you know what I mean--but I did go upstairs last night and leave a package of gummy bears--her favorite--outside of her apartment.


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