I had a dream last night about my father where I broke down in his arms. This is unusual for me because I am not a hugger. I think I was asking him for help or what to do.
Yesterday marked 221 weeks without a drink. I also walked seven miles.
I wrote a 3400 word story today called "Show Me Your Knees" quite by accident, but I think I have something special here. That kind of happens sometimes--I think I'm writing one thing, really short--I'll even use it as a warm-up exercise, though I'll also be producing something at the top of my ability--and it becomes something else. This occurred with "The Roll of Words" and it occurred today with this story. It's told by a woman who had been in fifth grade--and then tenth grade--at the time, and a teacher she had in that earlier year. This description maybe makes it sound about something that it is not. It's a wondrous, gut-wrenching story. There is so much pain in it, but hope, too. The design is elegant. There's no wasted movement. No turns to the left or right. It goes straight ahead. (Making sure that "Fitty" did was what amounted to those revisions a couple weeks back.) Start with a push and keep moving/pushing.
The Patriots don't have much of an offense. Newton will get hurt. Fifteen rushes? That won't work. They have a lack of explosiveness and firepower. J.C. Jackson is a good player. There were times last year he was at Gilmore's level. I thought he was more consistent than Gilmore, if not as noticeably dynamic. Brady sure struggled with Tampa. Had that one throw on the first drive, that out about thirty yards down the field, into a tight box, but not much else. Gronkowski looks like he has nothing left. Or returned, maybe I should say, with nothing. I don't really care. Came across something a while back when I was looking for something else when a national writer whose name I forget--a connected no-talent who knew a handful of the right people and wrote in the boilerplate style on boilerplate talking points, with some double-speak thrown in so that none of it would mean anything at all, which had already been assured in the first place--said I was lazy because I had written that I care less about sports as I grow older. This does not mean I know less. I know more than anyone. Try me. Pit your work against mine. Go for it. Pretty confident--that's an understatement--in my expertise. Feel like it's backed up, many, many times at this point. And this was back from before I had the website, which is an armored tank of proof of exactly what I am, even if but a small fraction of the links are up on here just yet.
But caring less about something is not the same as knowing less. I don't particularly care about the Beatles. All I really care about is getting where I am going. But would it be healthy for someone to say, "you know, the more I go along in life, the more I care about football." You'd be a pretty diseased, regressive individual. An immature, stunted man-child. I pay these kinds of things little mind. When you're so clearly something that such a person is not, they want to take shots. Which, as you would expect, means absolutely nothing to me. It's cold comfort, but rarely will I not know what someone is up to and why they are up to it. To be honest, I am not sure it ever happens anymore. I don't think there's very much that anyone or anything can sneak past my mind at this juncture.
That doesn't mean I have solutions when I know why someone is doing what they're doing and they are someone keeping me from something--but I will know what they're doing and why. In exacting detail.
The more I go along in life, the more I care about truth, beauty, creating art that reaches people, connects with them, impacts the world. And growth. I most care about sports insofar as it helps me with those things, which, as one has seen, makes sports rather different to me than what they are for other people. As with my transposition of the concept of mental discipline that I learned in hockey, and factors into me composing at four AM on a Saturday when it would be much easier to simply kill myself at this point. The understanding of what it means to chop wood in the spiritual, artistic, and metaphysical sense. To battle the door.
It's pretty funny writing that Fleming is lazy though, isn't it? Of all the things to say in the world. "Colin Fleming, lazy guy. Because as he gets older, he cares less about football."
Sometimes I am not sure if some of the people in publishing are more stupid or sinister, but petty and self-loathing probably outpaces each. Then again, I'd hate to be the arbiter of that four-headed race. Simple-minded, angry little dust mites.
I'm obviously not talking about you if you don't suck. If you're a professional who tries to do the best job possible and have things be about the work. Which doesn't mean everything works out, or even much does, necessarily. But people know what they are, on some level, and if you're in publishing reading this, you don't need me to tell you what side of the decency line you fall on. And if you're on the suck-side, work to be something or someone who sucks less.
I had some ways I used to suck that I worked on. It was unpleasant and I didn't feel great about myself and I worked on it. Paradoxically, that made me more hated and alone, but I knew what I was. There's something in that. Something to build on, especially with other people who do their version of the same thing. And if such a person came to me and said, "hey, look, some rough water under the bridge, let's start again, do you have anything?" I'm not some despotic monster who would rail, "fie, screw you, die, never, get thee gone, does your mother even pretend she loves you," etc. I'd say cool. And I'd send you something. Because I am a man entirely about moving forward. But sometimes, too, you can only move forward by holding people accountable for what they've done in the past. Which I will also do.
When I was copying and pasting earlier journal entries, my eye fell on this quote, from a piece in The New Criterion by Gary Saul Morson on Dostoevsky's The Idiot, in which he writes, "People tend to hate their moral superiors. When someone is better than we are, when we have shown our vileness in the face of their goodness, or when we suffer guilt for injuring them unjustly, our lost self-respect often provokes us to behave still worse. We hate them for being the occasion of our suffering, and we want to change the rules of the game by violating them all the more."
To which I had added, "That is publishing in 2018. You can replace the word 'moral' with a number of others. Artistic, for instance.'"
Even more true now.
And to those oriented around professionalism and merit, I thank you. That's vital.
Tomorrow on Downtown I'll talk about works of pop culture with an autumnal twist. That means Hammer's Dracula (the original from 1958), the Band's "Brown Album," Hitchcock's The Trouble with Harry, and the Beatles' Beatles for Sale and attendant BBC sessions, including my theory about the band and buses. Next week I'll probably talk about three ghost stories--one each by M.R. James, Richard Middleton, and Charlotte Riddell.
Watched a film called The Wise Kids. Three high school friends in a religious community in South Carolina. One boy--who is gay--two girls. All three leaving for college. Listened to a podcast about E.F. Benson's short story, "Negotium Perambulans." What I like about Benson more than M.R. James is how companionable he is. You'll often feel with his stories like you're hanging out with buddies. I think that element came to mean more to me as I became increasingly lonely. And if I am back in Rockport, and I am happy, and I have good people in my life, and someone special to share it with, I might come to prefer James over Benson. There's an abundance of solitude in James stories. This particular story is about a man--he seems to be a barrister--who makes enough money to go and settle back in this place by the sea where he grew up. Well, he had lived there for three years as a boy. The reason he had lived there in the first place was because he was sickly, and so he was prescribed a course of being outside like an ridiculous amount of hours in this coastal hamlet--like twenty-three hours a day. All day and night save for meals. He went clambering up cliffs, hunted for birds nests, read, learned to write better. One of the hosts of the podcasts said something like nostalgia is always a letdown, when you go back to that thing or place, but it's not for this person when he returns to the small seaside town. It's everything he dreamed it would be and more. That will be Rockport for me, but even more more. I know it will be. If I can just get there.