Sunday, January 1, 2012
First pour of Cab, lovely. ’08, Alexander Valley. Bought the URL for the new blog. And, I can’t say this’ll be the last. Again, I believe part of my writing “Style,” or motion, is the surety of an entry. Hard for me to end this first blog, this “wine blog”? I suppose a bit, somewhat, yes. But, there’ll be a successor. And this new one, bottledaux, presents a more unfettered author. One unafraid, unconcerned with consequences from writing, reflecting. Of course, wine will find its way to the paragraphs, posts. But, bottledaux’s intention is immovably, unequivocally, steadfastly Literary. So, I’m writing, sipping. This Cab seems a bit bolder than I remember. Maybe this is the New Year speaking to me, telling me to write louder, scribble with more staunchness.
Today, definitely different. Delectably so. Thinking about all the jobs I’ve had. The only logical Next: Writer. Job title, waiting. No, I already hold.
11:40p. 20 minutes away, this New Year. Tonight’s varietal, Cabernet Sauvignon, of course. Can’t believe this is the end of mikeslognoblog. But why is it so hard to believe? The books ends. I should be thankful. I should sip again. And I am. Here goes that cliché countdown. Finally bought that URL, for bottledaux. Can’t believe it. So, mikeslognoblog lives. Just with a different book cover. Kelly, in NYC. I’ll be joining her, shortly. Clocking out. Watching my own film progress, with no stress. Only ease. But, I still think, time’s far too brief. I will steal more. Aren’t I, now? Either way, Therapy with each entry. Signing off, clocking out, only to clock back in. Off to see Kelly, feel sane, safe...
Going through steps to start this new blog, “bottledaux”. Technology, successfully frustrating me. 1:06p. Wasted enough of my day on it, already. Want to write books, not do another blog. But, I’m still of intent in showing my writing habits, thought stream. Only have a couple hours to make a decision. Do I want to buy another URL? Isn’t that like paying to write? I shouldn’t have to do that, I’m thinking. Glass of Chardonnay, sounds gorgeous right now. Wonder what Kell’s doing out there, in New York. 4:09, now, out there. Wish I was walking in those crowded metropolitan corridors.
“So do you have plans for tonight?” Kelly asked.
“No, just keeping it cool. Opening some wine, doing some writing. Usual. Nothing exciting. How about you, out there in New York? That’s incredible. So happy for you. What’s it like?” Mike asked, muting his music. Leaning in his chair’s crook, waiting for her details, tales.
“I’ve actually been here before, a few years ago with my mom. But we were only here for like two days, I think. But it’s amazing. It’s New York. I’ve already sold a few glasses, and have some pending orders. You need to come out here soon, Mikey, being a writer. There’s books stores, coffee shops...you’d love it.”
“I know. I want to make it out there, soon, believe me-”
“Are you still working at the winery?”
“Which one? I’ve poured at more than one, recently.”
“The one your friend Lonny works at. A friend of mine’ll be in San Francisco mid-January, and we were gonna do some tasting. And I wanted to know if you could show us around, come taste with us. I was thinking of booking a limo, or wine tour van, or winnebago or whatever.”
“That’d be fun, yeah. But, no, I don’t pour there anymore. My sister’s the winemaker there, and I stop by every so often, so we can taste there, definitely. What kind of wine are you drinking these days?” Mike asks. Curious pause, followed by voices in Kelly’s distance. But not too distant. “Do you need to go?”
“No. No, the lobby’s just getting kind of busy. Sorry. Actually, I just ordered a glass of ’08 Sonoma County Carignane. What are you opening tonight?” she said, laughing a bit, almost to convey that she felt like she were there, sipping with Mike, in one of their funny wine chats again.
Mike laughed. “Cab, of course. But I might open this new Chardonnay from my sis, maybe. It’s early still. Here, anyway.”
“Yeah,” she said, before taking a sip. Mike could tell by the new silence that wine connected with her palate. He wished he were there, in NYC, to see.
Saturday, December 31, 2011
10:56a. “Today does feel different than others,” Mike thought, walking out to his car. Driving to his coffee spot close to home, he noticed the melting ice on his windshield. He thought of places where ice wouldn’t melt, the outdoor numbers wouldn’t permit that. Once in the coffee shop, he stopped, looked at the cover of the NY Times. Photo, actioned, of strife in a distant country. What journalist shot this, he thought. “That’s brilliant.” He, too, wanted to be on such an assignment. He wanted the danger, the difference.
No line, right to register.
With his 3-shot mocha, he drove back to the condo. He didn’t know what he should do, on this day before a New Year he was certain would be THE year for him. Writing-wise, career-wise, Equilibrium-wise, all. He just sat, decided not to rush. To let the day speak. He remembered asking his students once, “Can inspiration be planned, or is it always happenstance?” The class’ majority resounded that it finds you, you don’t find it. But maybe it’s a blend of both, Mike thought. So, he just sat. Sat. Sipped.
After .5 pages of notes in the Comp book, Mike stretched horizontally on the couch. Looked at the ceiling’s odd shapes. A dog. Giraffe? Leaning building, storm cloud, tire... One shape that uncannily boasted a book. One maybe, Mike saw, 300 pages or so. Like his, 301. What was this trying to tell him, day before 2012’s 1st? To write. Write whatever you want. Mike didn’t have time to think about what he should write. Not anymore. Just write. He’d be 33 in less than 6 months. What?
Write faster. Write more.
Forget about the wine industry, the publishing world--what they want, what they see as “marketable.” Just keep the pen moving. The short story ideas propelled themselves at the former English Instructor like ushered missiles. He had trouble scribbling them into the Comp book, with their legerity. So he stopped, let them compile. He’d write them as he could. Whichever ones he couldn’t recall, retain, may not have been worth record. A new short story stream came to him in waves of spicy, sparse dialogues.
“Altitude 34,500. Set cruise. Heading...” Mike didn’t know if pilots spoke this way, or if this line was believable. He’d need his dad’s counsel with such a project.
“Did you want any of the large formats we have left?” He knew where this one came from.
“Your narrative has this sort of lazy charm to it.” This was something his Creative Nonfiction Professor said, when he took her class in early ’01, his last undergrad semester. He always like her, Sherril. Her assignments were fun, not too ridiculously detailed or confining. He enjoyed her class, the workshopping element, which was where, when, she made this assessment. Lazy charm... Mike always thought of different ways to translate that, perspective her perspective.
His mocha, already out. How did that happen? Maybe he was making too much of a deal about the new year, tomorrow. This year’s last episode, today. What did it matter? It was only time. And he would write though it anyway, just as he was. Novel or short collection, it’d get scribbled, somehow.
New plan for New Year. Simple, cogent, effortlessly applicable: all from journals; either long works or short; topics and forms of my choosing. So, concisely: write whatever in the world I wish. Tonight, sipped a beautifully tasty ’09 Cab. Saving the second half for tomorrow night. New Year’s eve. No planned party this year. Spending it on page, finishing this book, as tomorrow’s the last day to contribute new material to its territory. Taking a break from the current short story, which I’m loving, presently. Two students, contrasting perspective conceptions. Stopping there. All notes, details, in the Comp book. Elated by knowledge, the certainty of, sleeping in, tomorrow.
May open a Chardonnay tomorrow night. Need to drink more white, I realized this morning, in the curiously formatted fog. Shockingly, there was quite a bit of mist on my return home, additionally. Not sure of the significance, but it ordered reflection, introspection, nonetheless. Can already hear song from the morning mocha. But maybe I shouldn’t have one, turn differently for this new year. 2012, hopefully putting my pages on shelves, in hands, homes.
While upstairs, washing my face, I realized that 2011 was the first year since ’05 where I didn’t lecture a single day, didn’t teach. I will be back in a classRoom, soon. In the capacity I deserve. Stanford, still in sights, steady. Would love to have another class, or two, three, discussing fiction, theory, Literature, writing, art, film... I’ll take this to 2nite’s dreams, into 2morrow. I’m selfish, I know. But if I don’t write for Self, who will? 11:24p. Eyes, heavier than they were in the preceding paragraph. Aside from quitting mochas, potentially, maybe I should wake earlier on days off. Fit in more writing, complete projects quicker. This new year, promising little challenges I’ve never before projected. Preparing for storm, safety, strain, vision. Next vintage.
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Mike thought the night was done. But was it? He sipped the Cabernet’s remainder. Kelly may have called earlier, from a restricted number, but he wasn’t sure. His phone, ringing, jittering again. Number, restricted. Mike lifted the phone off the new home winemaker book his sister just bought him, pushed Answer. “Hello?”
“Hey Mike, it’s Lonny, how’ve you been?” Lonny, Mike’s old friend from the winery, said. “Been a while. Where are you working now?”
“Oh, hey, Lonny. How’ve you been? You still at the winery?”
“Still pouring, still pouring. You need to come by. We just released this Cab I think you’d like. You like Cab still, right? We’re doing a vertical tasting you should come to, next week.”
[12/29/11, Th] Wrote 12:36p on the dry board. Took me a while to sit, as the café was completely packed when I landed. One lady, at this very table, the one most distanced to the back, my 2nd favorite table, left just as I ordered mocha2. This coffee house, the office. Not even opposites. More like unknown dimensions that don’t know each other. One flavored. The other, ovular. The lady who left, just returned. Would be a year’s worth of jokes if she demanded I return this space. She may have been writing, as I did see her with a laptop. Another lady, probably three years beyond me, sitting directly at 12, types on a laptop, one of the ridiculously small ones. I don’t mean to look at her screen, as I hate even the far vision of someone doing so to me, but it looks as thought she may be writing fiction, or in a typed journal.
Thought I was going to have to return to the office to write. I even asked the manager, who I used to think was the owner, or one of them, if he had any tables in the back. I could tell he felt bad in having nothing to provide an always-visiting writer, then disclosing he had drawn up a new floor plan which included booths, more accommodating seating, that it probably wouldn’t go through. This place, the only writing spot for my hour’d respite.
Mike couldn’t waste even one more button push on empty reflection. He listened to the manager fly up the aged stairs, thought of a written portrait about his caffeine temple, his Literary Lunch tavern. He sipped from his open-top mocha, with perfect whip motion, began his brush bustles. “Spaced wooden spaces, object accompanied by renewing scents, rich skips...” He just typed, like he didn’t see the screen. He only saw the walls, their paintings, the sipping, conversing guests, the possible writer in front of him.
He wanted to attend that reading he was invited to, here, next year, whenever it was finally held. He didn’t know about going to that vertical tasting Lonny invited him to, however. Those always took hours to get through, especially if you factored in all the conversations, food samplings and possible pairings, “networking.” Mike never understood that about the wine world, all the “networking” opportunities, and why he always tried to participate. Would wine industry networking, which was really just drinking, tasting and talking, help him finish a novel at all timely?
He thought of going for a walk, a brief trot about the chilled downtown Napa blocks. No, the portrait needed finishing. Well, it needed a start. Looking at his mocha, he knew wine would always have a presence in his day, his writing, but the presence perhaps needed perforating. He needed more characters. More of Kelly, more Jewel, his friends from the old winery, his coworkers at NewWineGig. More dialogue. He wrote all the conversations he could catch, muting his music, but appearing as though he were still connected with tunes from his laptop.
The people, 2, one older man, woman of same age, maybe a year or two his minor. Talking about fish, cooking it different ways. “The lemon’s always too punchy for me, that way,” she says.
“How long do you leave it for?” he asked.
“Different every time,” she said before a clearing of throat. “Sorry. It’s hard. I tried it with a kind of tuna, a couple weeks ago, but it didn’t turn out so good.” She rose, the man with her. They left, silent. Mike wondered why so abrupt? Didn’t they know he was recording? How inconsiderate.
The writer in front of him. Writing a memoir, more than likely. Her life’s worth research on sculpting, logging her creative process. The challenges she confronts, what she encounters; her failures, self-surprises, everything. Mike saw her there, in her black, slightly puffy jacket, black framed librarian glasses, typing madly. It was fiction, it had to be. Mike returned to his portrait. Spent three paragraphs on the blood-red wood seats, alone. Then, his beloved bean bar, with its sounds, accoutrements, machines with struggling navigators, the view of 1st and Main. This was Mike’s house, he craftily cemented. He needed others in it. His characters. Maybe he was a character in this caffeinated chest of characters. He looked to see her typing, again. Not as fast as him. Good, he thought. His short story collection would be done before hers. OR his novel. He still hadn’t decided.
1:13p. Another sip. He looked through his cubeNOTES. Just reiterations of his aims. What did that do, he wondered. “Instead of stating, why not just execute?” 1014 words. He couldn’t be happier. No way she reached such a word count in her sitting. Well, maybe she did, as she’s positioned in that chair as though it’s her day off, not in any shape of rush. Well, if she did hit 1000+, certainly no way she hit it with his fiery forward, his rate, his “Literary Leaps,” he wrote. This was where he came to leap Literarily, the only chairs that welcomed him. No condescension, obsession with order. These walls, the characters welcomed Autonomous pen movings. So there he was, looking up, then recording, penning portrait.
His phone displayed a text. From Lonny. “so can u come 2 that cab tasting??!!” Mike didn’t respond. He might not ever answer. He might kill his phone. What did that thing do for the page? Such a distraction. Why did he upgrade a couple months ago, anyway? Distractions in its banks, with social media, the applications, games, colors, what be. “Safe, here,” he wrote. “There’s no time, no speed, just you, your Your, it’s yours; your time, your coffee, your view.” He’d stop, for now, maybe finish at home tonight. Mike thought about the tasting. There’d be characters, there. Right? Maybe he should just go, pretend to “network.” Sip some wine, hang out with Lonny, eat free bites. Why not? He took his phone from the black bag’s deepest pocket. He always put it there, to forget about it; altogether out of sight, even more so of mind. “Yes. I’m there. Put me on list, please” he texted back, noticing the forgotten period at the end of his sentence. Was he really that writing-obsessed? Yes. He lowered the laptop’s screen, sipped.
5 more minutes. What can I write in such squished seconds? Actually, I only have two, as I’d prefer get back a second or 2 early. Last sips of mocha, last leaps of Literature, efforts. Vacation, soon, I hope. Need one. We all do. Wine, hotel Room, random travel writings; dishes, napkins, dinner, characters everywhere... Selfish, I know.
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Today’s Lunch, thinking of yesterday’s, how that kid just sat down in the nook, right across from me. I said “Hello,” hoping to convey my disquietude. Guess I was unsuccessful, as he just sat there, sipped his coffee, read. I left on a moment or two following, only to return to the office to be sent home. This Lit Lunch, after a couple sales, typing in opposition to franticness, rush. Want to write, relax. How I envision mySelf one day subsisting.
Mike touched up a couple of his outstanding short story projects. He found some older writings the previous night, somehow found a way to resculpt them into cogent compositions. So, that made six. He’d stop there. He wasn’t shooting for a novel. Not anymore. He didn’t have the focus for that. Six short stories... Where would he send them? What would Capote do, he thought. The first sip of his second mocha, urgent. He watched the new barista behind the bean bar, trained by one of the vets on how to load the little black energy gravel into the grinder, or whatever machine that was. This new year, a new project. He’d only allow himself three days more, four counting this scene, to build material for submitting. Then he’d start over. Begin something new. Maybe a novel, he thought. No. Extant efforts, only. Ones he could sell, he decreed.
In the nook, where he yesterday wrote, not typed, a young man played the guitar, jammed in front of a girl, who sat uneasily still while he sang, looked down at his finger placement. Mike sipped the mocha; the blend of chocolate milk, espresso and perfectly placed whip. Heavenly harmony, his fingers flew into new. The Wine Bar beats, his hour, which started late because of a last-minute sale. 1:06pm, 42 minutes left in one of his final Literary breaks for his short story accumulation.
Coming back to journal, just note what I see. Jewel, across from me, talking to a guy who reminds me of a young John Lennon, the young female barista at the main bar rushing to complete a drink for a teetering guest, crew behind the bean bar shoveling coffee elements from one side to another, one device to next. Paintings on the wall, mysteriously ominous, entrapping with their shades, strokes. Me, in my usual seat, rushing to complete works I can sell. Sell, sell. What I’m expected to do. So, six shorts. Four of which, only, are rationally ready for an envelope, an address: “Tremolo,” “Sur Me’s,” one still untitled... And this one, “Quited Wine Hide,” whose title I might reblend, redo altogether. Asking mySelf, “What took so long?” Why am I making my Self wait so many clocks for what it wants; the travel, far food, wine, oceans, exploration, the randomness? That won’t help, such dwelling. Forward, with these shorts. Like Joyce, Woolf, Capote, Carver, King.
The kid still plays his guitar in the corner, with his female 1-character audience. Don’t want to take my phones out, as I don’t need to hear. And, I don’t want to. What I do need, want: another taste of my Cabernet, as it summersaults through malolactic.
Mike sat there, listening to his music. He wrote down singular words, just to see what he could do with them. If they’d paint something for a possible seventh short. “Balance...Greet...Stage...” All he could muster. His stories, their laptop docs, closed. The laptop, closed. Earphones, out. He heard. Everything. The awful song played in the corner. Mike wondered, did he think his song moving, amusing, enjoyable? Mike hoped so. He wanted another artist to enjoy his own work. Nothing wrong with that, Mike thought. But did Mike enjoy his? He didn’t know. He didn’t read through it enough. Was he breezing through edits? Probably. Might be the reason he hadn’t sold a piece, yet. Mike read, then.
Stopped. Too many mistakes, to him. Would readers notice? Of course they would. And especially season ones, those for whom he hoped to be writing. He sipped the mocha again. He needed to.
What do I do with these stories? I guess edit them. Or put them away for a couple days. Maybe I should just hop on a plane. Sure I’ll find better material than what’s conveyed by the everyday. Wouldn’t I? If I can sell wine as I do, shouldn’t I be able to sell my writing maniacally? Makes sense to me, when I put the two acts in juxtaposing poses. Another story, needed, I think. It’ll be the stronger of the cuddled collection. Notes:
= Mountain climbing
= Woman on vacation, not wanting to return to work, even though she’s paid better than any of her accompanying friends
= One of them entertains starting a business, on the side, together, just to see what happens ... Disagreement surfaces; optimism, pessimism
= Story about mid-thirties man; musician, not letting go of vision of performing, traveling, surviving from Craft
Mike stopped, in self-decided decline, omit. But then, reengaged, when he saw 1:30p on his laptop clock. Why was time doing this? Bring his lunch to a close? His year. Maybe he should just throw together a novel, see how it comes out. Aesthetic, as he was urged in grad school. “It’ll say something [his novel], just get it done. Worry about coherence later, if at all,” Professor Steve, his Fiction mentor, said to him, right before course’s end. He’d do what he’d always done, then. Just what he thought he was done with, roll the shorts into a larger work. He wanted 301 pages, for some reason. No, a reason quite methodically targeted. Which was, to be one page past 300. He sipped the last mocha cloud, happily. Encouraged, electric, preemptively emphatic. Or should he go by word count? 50,000 words? He’d just write. But he needed a book out. Soon. Sooner. What did he want? Autonomy, Equilibrium. HimSelf on a shelf. He promised he’d read it. Cover to cover. Eventually.