This is such an unusual period. Everything about it is unusual, a lot of it is barely believable, some is not believable, perhaps, all is highly unlikely. I wonder if some time down the line, I'll do interviews, open up all of my papers and correspondence to a biographer, and they'll ask, "What was a typical day like? How did you keep going? Were you aware of how unlike everything your life was like?"
Someone wrote me from a beach today, where they were on vacation, after having read the journal entry here, the one about guns and illness. They said that every American needs to read that, that it says things no one else is saying, and that they are true. I am doing the best I can, I am doing everything I can think of to put myself in the position of visibility, upon a platform, where, yes, I will become the go-to person for much, the person looked to for the words, the person who provides them. In an instance such as that, I feel like modern Emerson, but more accessible, without the stiffness, creating something that is direct and impactful in its moment and time, and which will be looked back on for all time. I am aware of that. I am also aware that I am writing what I am writing right now for a circumscribed amount of people, if any people, really, but that I must do so with the anticipation that the amount of people will eventually be a very large amount of people, maybe unprecedented numbers of people, so far as these things go. I am writing for the now, and the forever, but also, in a sense, the near future; or I hope the new future is a component as well.
Yesterday morning I began--I cannot believe I am saying this, though I can completely believe I am saying this--work on another short story. Now I must do nothing but make hay and grind, grind, grind away on works that can get me paid. I just composed an op-ed on a form of argument-making--centered on the If/Then construction--that is killing dialogue and debate in America, a form of rhetorical thuggery and intended intimidation. And a lot of decent people do it now, too. It's a really good piece. I hope I can sell it.
Money is one of what my cardiologist would call my biggest stressors right now. I am always stressing about money. I feel guilty when I write something that might not, probably won't, get me immediately paid, but what am I to do? These ideas for all-time come to me, these works of art overrun my brain, they can be things that change everything. In theory. "Fitty" could change everything. To have a story that would make a difference in a war on guns, that is ready to enter the national consciousness and discussion in a uniquely powerful way, just sitting here, sitting here in your hot little hand, is the most frustration I can know, just about. I tell myself that when I compose these works that are not assured to bring me money right now, that I must, because they could and they are the high ticket items, some of them, and that it's not like I'd be doing anything else when I compose them.
By that I mean, I have no life and am alone, so that time, for me, is what would be someone else's life time--the time they're watching their kids' soccer game, having sex with their wife, going on vacation, going out to eat. The first section was completed yesterday of the new story. Perfect idea. Just a forever idea. The concept. It's a "how the hell did he think of that, why didn't I think of that?" idea. "Sega Man" in Between Cloud and Horizon was that way. That one was about a video game hockey player and his relationship with the man outside of the TV who controls him. "Fitty" was that way with the stairs and the voice of the child at the home where she is house sitting. Do you ever do that game in your head where you really need to find something, or you need something to happen, and you bargain, you have that internal voice that says, "I'd give six months off of my life if this would just happen right now," that kind of thing? Carlene, who is house sitting, does that game when she hears the voice of a child crying upstairs, she thinks if she goes up, she'll lose a year off of her life or whatever, but the crying always stops, only to reappear later. "Pillow Drift" with the snow and its supernatural agency, on that one road, is this kind of "why didn't I think of that" thing.
Last night I went to see Laura (1945) at the Brattle. I'm no longer struck by how unseasoned audiences can be, even at the Brattle. Some things were different back then. If you watch any films from the past, you know this. Childish giggles at certain parts, but also genuine laughter at the parts meant to produce genuine laughter. Smart humor ages well.
These noir films often have some laconically witty lines. Out of the Past, for instance, has some very funny lines. Emma and her family returned from Rhode Island. I guess they'll be in Boston for a while now, maybe the majority of the rest of the summer. They made me a burger last night and Emma brought it downstairs to me, then Emma and I sat in the hall on a stair for an hour or so, talking and sharing a water bottle I had because neither of us are good at hydrating and we are making an effort to be better.
She critiqued my clothing choices, said that my shoes were depressing and my jeans sad. She may think I am a slob. Or, at best, a boring dresser. I admit that I don't think about it much, but I am a little self-conscious now. I wake up in my nighttime uniform of basketball shorts and T-shirt (which is currently a black Frozen Fenway college hockey shirt). I do some work in that at the desk in this apartment which is my greatest shame, by far. It might be like 30% of my stressors at a given time.
I hate living in here, living like this. Thousands of books, records, films, with nowhere to put any of it, things that belong meticulously organized in a house, things I cannot throw away, my art which I love so much and can't even access or use or find right now, waiting for me to get the hell out of here and into a house or houses, not this studio apartment. Then I exercise. I put on the most disgusting workout clothes for that. I'm going to sweat through all of it in a half hour, and I don't care what it looks or smells like. It's my workout. I didn't shower before hockey practice. Workout attire is also basketball shorts, and a T-shirt. Right now it's either my black Boston Ballet T, my gray Huzzah naval T, a black film noir festival T, a gray Beanpot hockey tournament shirt, or a black Beatles A Hard Day's Night shirt.
Then I come back and shower, and I'm going to be back at the desk, and then at Starbucks. Those are my days. I throw on a clean T--maybe from a farmer's market, or something from Rockport--and those khaki shorts, I guess is what they are. They're too big. I have to roll them over four or five times. I think they are a size 36. I probably wear my pants too big now, including the jeans. I also don't have any money, and the closet is piled high to the ceiling with books, records, films. It was a very small closet to begin with. I hate summer. I hate the heat. Summer weather is execrable to me. There is nothing I like about it. I feel like my clothing looks better in the fall and winter. My form works better for that.
I'll have on a flannel, or a sweater, or a hoodie, or a button down shirt, I have my hats, my pea coat, a half trench, I look long and lean in that kind of clothing. But she is right, my shoes are sad. Sneakers, workout sneakers with holes, kind of a defeated looking trail shoe, winter boots, that's about it. I'll try and make some adjustments. If I have to go on TV or something, I will just have to take Emma with me to go clothes shopping and she can make sure I have the right stuff. But I don't think I look too differently from someone else in summer who is not going into an office. I used to wear my clothes too big. I also lost a lot of weight.
My T-shirts are now Larges, not XLs. But then she's like "Baggy can be good" and I'm thinking, Jesus, did I screw this up, because I thought that had been a bad look on me. But like I said, unusual days. Start creating what will be another well-known work, go to a film, walk another five miles, climb the Monument another five times--did all of that yesterday--write a journal entry that essentially contains a stand-alone, lengthy essay that will later be read by many people, sit out on the hallway stairs for an hour and hang with this little person who has missed you a lot and can't wait to sit and talk.
Such an unusual relationship. Isn't it? It's so unlikely. I don't enjoy anything anymore, as I have detailed in here, though I hope to enjoy things in the future more than I've ever enjoyed anything, but when this is so you can still partake of things in a way that you know that whatever it is would be an epitome of enjoyment, if you weren't in hell concurrently. And I think anyone who was watching us just talk would think that two people would be formidably challenged to enjoy each other's company more than we do, even with my above asterisk.