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The room

Thursday 9/8/22

Yesterday I wrote a 2700 word story called "Museum Worthy." It's not done. Needs work. Or time with. Or going over. I don't know. I'll see. I wrote it in the morning and it was 2200 words long. Then I came back to it at night and worked some more. The story is about two men named Hovan and Jenkins who have a store, an emporium. We're somewhere in the midwest, or the southwest. Their store has been in business since the 1850s. The store is best known for these Navajo rugs made by a Native American master. Each day at the store a woman comes in, and she's always bleeding from a different part of her body. She never buys anything, but a day doesn't go by when she doesn't come in.

On Monday I wrote the introduction for the film book. One of them. I need to go over that and the one for the literature book.

A text to someone:

FYI: If you end up applying to BC, we can go there and I will show you everything. Where freshmen live, the libraries, dining halls, etc. I will also write you a letter of recommendation for wherever you apply.

A text from someone else:

How Dark Does Night Get is beautiful. I read it 20 times. It's brilliant.

"How Dark Does Night Get" is a wonder. It is impossible to write better than that. And one can read it to their children. No question mark in the title. Yes, that was intentional. It's all intentional. No one is going to see the story right now, of course. The blackballing. We've been through this so many times. But you have to say it, don't you? You can't stop pointing it out.

This is a 3000 word feature on Thelonious Monk's first sessions--which were for Blue Note in 1947--in the September issue of JazzTimes. Here is Tuesday's appearance on Downtown, the day marking the show's eleventh anniversary. Good for Rich. Strong run. We discussed a humorous episode of Quiet, Please, the 1972 Summit Series in hockey, college football, the Monk piece, and the literature book/project I mentioned above.

Wrote introduction to literature book Saturday. Computer is old and needs replacing and barely works so it froze three times which created hours of delay and could not run stairs before heading out to Chestnut Hill for the BC-Rutgers game. Did fifty push-ups. Sunday I ran 10,000 stairs and did 1000 push-ups. Mentioned that on Twitter. And that I read Hawthorne between sets. Got unfollowed, no likes. On Monday I ran 3000 stairs and did 100 push-ups.

I've only been doing push-ups for a few months now, as documented in this journal. Since the winter, I believe. At first I was doing fifteen. Most days I want to do 100. Often I do 200. 500 was my best, then the other day I did 600, so this was quite a bit more. Twice my muscles just gave out during the 1000 and around 900 the muscles under my arms locked up some. But I took an hour off reading Thoreau in a cafe, drank some green tea, and then did the last 100 rather quickly, but the workout, as such, took most of the day. I went through five shirts. Every last stair, every last push-up, is so I can stay strong enough to endure this hell and beat these bigots who try to hold me back. It is all for my work. Anyway, 500 push-ups isn't hard, but 1000 is. Or it was for me.

But as I said: people despise greatness, whatever form it takes. That which is not like them because of how it is great. Because obviously everyone found that interesting. The numbers are interesting. That someone would do that or want to do it or have need to do it is interesting. The shirt thing is funny. There was something about the C-Dawg and Zulu in there, which is amusing. Reading Hawthorne between sets is amusing and interesting. It's one tweet. It's not someone saying insane political blather, there's no hate, there's no blasting off in the echo chamber. What is the objection save that here is someone more interesting? In everything they do and write. They find it all interesting, these tweets. The most interesting. But even many of the people I know are envious, empty curs. Does it hurt me? Yes, it does. That I am treated differently than they treat anyone else, including people they don't like--think about that--because they find me to be these things, hurts me constantly, in large part because it feeds into the terror that makes it so hard to keep going. I am in this position because of what I am, not because of what I'm not. I am not doing anything wrong. It's not that I don't have enough ability, it's that I have too much, and that I stand alone. But everyone, just about, treats me this way. My sister does. There are very few exceptions. John, Emma, Aaron. Who are these people? John is the closest I have to a friend, someone I talk to every day about all of this. The person who knows more about this situation and this industry and how I stand in the world than anyone. Emma is a young woman in my building whom I've helped, and who is the smartest person I've known, and anyone who heard us speaking would require all of ten seconds to know that these two individuals have a unique bond. I am not sure what we are. I'm her mentor? We're neighbors? We're friends? In some ways she's like family to me, or a child, but I don't look down to her like she's a kid. I don't feel a need to put a label on it. There probably isn't one. Aaron is a good, stand-up man of values and integrity, which are terms that I don't just spray around. I go through the motions with most people I know, but I have no respect for them. How could I after this? Years of it. The very second I no longer need to interact with them for any reason will be the same second they will not be able to get in touch with me again. Cowards. Let's behave towards this guy as we would no one else because of greatness. I have no tolerance for it at this point and will not make any excuses for it either. You're scared of me? Because I'm on a different level? You won't show support because others are just as scared and cowed and you don't want to be out there on your own? Screw that. That's weak and pathetic. Not good enough. Horrible. But there is this self-censure button in their brain. They see something, they're fascinated, but then they say, "But it's from Colin, can't show that I liked this," and they pull back. I know that's exactly what happens. And it doesn't happen with anyone else with them. Because everyone else is in the same room with them, so to speak. Here's how a lot of life works: it's about being in the same room. What do I mean by this? People put forth representatives. It's like congress. Those representatives have to come from the room they are in. It's not the product those people have. It's how they're identified: in the room or not in the room. This is why we have Roxane Gay, Skip Bayless, Matt Walsh, Jemele Hill. In the room. You don't have to like them, think well of them, respect them, or what they do, say, write, create. They are identified as in the room.

Me? I'm not in the room. I'm instantly identified as being up on the top floor. I'm in some chamber with steel walls. You need five words from me to ID me as such. A single tweet. Two sentences in a radio interview. A story excerpt on here. This particular blog entry of Thursday, September 8, 2022. I can have a work that all of the people in the room would love. More than anything. I can put that work in the dumbwaiter and send it down to the room, but they know it came from someone upstairs. The one person up there on that floor. That shuts down everything. That's what is happening on every level for me at this moment. Right down to likes on Twitter and followers. I have the most accessible work. It's not work that goes over heads. It's work that courses through the veins of people who experience it. I mentioned "How Dark Does Night Get." I haven't written anything better. As I said, though, you could read it to a five-year-old. If you put that same work in the hands of someone in the room, then you have an explosion. Same exact text. This is everything, how one is ID'ed. People see anything I do and they know I'm different. I'm not like them. I'm not in the room with them. I may exist for them. I create what I do for them and to give to them. I may have what they would enjoy the most out of anything. But I'm not in the room. And they recognize that. And everything is shut down. The heroism of my life is a problem. It puts me out of the room. My strength. The things I do to keep going. My discipline. Fitness routines, even.

I know people who wait to see what I say next. They can't wait. They love it. But they won't hit that like button unless they're covered. If it somehow bestows some compliment on them, like if I mention a somewhat obscure musician, and hitting that like button says, "I'm smart, I know this musician, too." But loving what I say, looking forward to it, won't so much as lead to them hitting that like button if it's just showing they liked something by me. And I know exactly what is happening, and why. What I don't have right now is a solution. If I don't find one, I am going to die alone, without love, in constant pain, in poverty, and anonymity, and all of this work is going to die with me. That is what is always on my mind, and that is what always goes through my head each and every time I see this, even with the people who are theoretically for me. But a Josh Gondelman? No one has ever been less funny. But he's in the room. Of course he is. Anyone could be him. Anyone could be that unfunny. People are. People don't like or follow someone like that because they think they're talented or funny or they bring anything to their lives. They do so because others do and they're in the room. The room is everything.

Okay. Let's get at it. Let's fight today. Find a way.


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