the work
Monday May 30th 2011, 9:46 pm
Filed under: Boozy,Work Tags:

I’ve always said it was about the work, not the game. And though it became, for a while when I first started round two here, about the game rather than the work, I’m confronted again with the binary, the binary that perhaps stands behind those I obsess about in the classroom, desperately trying to explain Gower’s middle way, Blair’s third way, but in a transcendent rather than a tawdry way. From the man who has opened a door for me that opened so many others, comments that, though hugely positive, will likely close a different door. But, as I emailed him a week ago, not the only door, thus freeing him to say what had to be said. And if it had to be said, if one of the smartest people, and more importantly best thinkers, and still more importantly best people, that I know in all of this wants it to read differently, it goes beyond perhaps, and it should read differently. He reads for the work and not the game, and I’m free, now, to read his comments as a reminder of what got me here in the first place: it’s about the work. And though the lesser may take it on the strength of the proposed revisions I sent along this evening, as only a few weeks will tell, it was never (only) an issue of acceptance, though that was the first and more immediately frightening issue. It’s what happens after that matters, in a different set of ways, and his comments, embraced for all their depth, all their smartness, all their sharpness, all of the pain of admitting it’s not good enough as it is, well, if I work enough, if I work smart enough, if I understand properly what he’s trying to say, the work will be better for it. Not the game – going with the lesser, no matter how I spin it, is a second-tier success in the game. But I never wanted the game, never wanted to judge or be judged by the game, and here, again, is the reminder what the stakes can be. The cover can be remedied, the title altered, but it’s about the work, and if no one understands why it matters, it doesn’t matter that the work has been done. The nature of the work may shift, now, but the reasons for it have not. If it’s about the work, get it done. Teach it through, finish the year, and face a largely blank summer, that alarming expanse, not fresh with promise and hope, but with the subtle, difficult pleasures of doing the work of work on the work that’s been done. Because it’s about the work, and if I’ve defined myself by that, then I shall prove myself by that.

a week and a day and a life

Last fricking Saturday night, I was drunk, angry, grieving, and singing along to an “in concert” performance of one of the few shows to have a break away pop hit, to Anya’s consternation. And now the creaks of a a rope mid-28-minute-long track of surprising emotional intensity for almost wholly wordless electronica remind me of how long it has been, really, since a single week has seen this much uncertain anxiety for me. Not quite charmed, as I reject that interpretation (and ‘lucky’) utterly. But, the last half decade has been very very very different than the one that preceded, not in terms of what’s being done, but the price being paid. I suppose I don’t know what the long-term cost will be, and perhaps that’s the difference, and what was troubling me so at the beginning of this calendar year. Prepositional angst: what’s it all _for_? what’s it all _about_? where does all this lead _to_? But when the lesser came through after the greater largely dropped out, and moreover made it abundantly clear that, as long as I was basically on board, I was welcome on board, the smaller questions seem answered while the larger recede. Between enjoying composing the response, and being able to mentally compass getting back into a place where I can undertake the work I propose (which is much greater, really, than that they require), and a colleague’s helpful suggestion to hire a graphic designer to solve the ugly-cover problem, there seems like a path forward again. And, perhaps that what was lacking last weekend. For all of the clarity of the end of non-end a mere two years from now, the partiality of last week’s shit, rather than either the wholly unknown or the mostly known, was a limited un/certainty that hasn’t been so damningly present for a long long time. Or something. Yet the part of me that will accept the way forward in exchange for the dramatic black-and-white binaries that drove me here (the conviction that I’m smarter than they are, the work better, more important) precisely the part I wonder if I’ve lost, sold, swapped. And whether I only care a few glasses into it, alone of an evening or a morning (usually not so much with the booze in the mornings), with time to think that I have tried to put in the service of everything and anything else but this, but though filled remains unsolved. Maybe it’s because we have a telly. Perhaps that was the dividing line in all of this. Not YCTNW, but cable. Hmmm. Fuck ’em all and burn the shit, unless I’m trying to sleep and it burns too brightly, in which case get off my lawn.

Thursday May 26th 2011, 9:29 pm
Filed under: magic,memory,nostalgia,poetry Tags:

passion. They had it, the students, the cast not of thousands but a dozen. Midsummer, a show I don’t think I’ve seen performed since I built the set for a production, in the years before time, amidst memories less stable than I might have guessed. An amazing set, an abstracted forest of horizontal wooden and metal beams protruding from a wall running the width of the stage, perhaps 12 feet tall and curved at the bottom. There was much leaping and sliding and jungle-gym hijinx that make me amazed nobody was seriously injured, with the pathetically craven and safe hindsight of age looking at youth. This evening, a Puck channelling Rayanne Graff with Darryl-Hannah-Blade-Runner eyes, and an uneven but committed cast. passion. performance. Not only the fearless bodies on stage, bodies held up and out for laughs, for groans, for mockery and interest, but the audience. Perhaps it’s because they’re usually in class, but an unusually powerful sense of community, of cheering for friends and loved ones, of belonging. And in that belonging, the base and the ledge, the depths and the heights, to enable, to disable, to offer up something that mattered not at all, but says everything about them. And I forgot, for a few hours, pretty much everything else. The shadows did not offend, and I feel, keenly, that none of this is a dream.

success is not an option
Tuesday May 24th 2011, 6:51 am
Filed under: can't make that shit up,politrix,something new,tempest in a teapot,tired,Work Tags:

Well, it is, I guess. In the head-spinning saga that has been the last few days, yesterday’s installment featured good news, better advice, and a little bit of grief. Having woken with the thoughts in my mind before the alarm even went off, however, and needing to get my ass to campus and the reading for class done, I’m hoping the a.m. brain-dump into TPT, which was a staple of years gone by, but quite rare for the last while, will help a bit. (Wow. That was strangely unambiguous. Note to self: revise prose for lack of clarity.) So, as per their promise, the lesser delivered a second answer, also positive, and want to go go go with a side of speed racer. Which was untenable, not least because the greater still doesn’t a number larger than one to work with. Which seems insane. This system is insane, is broken, as people have long told me. But, this broken? One crank, one (from the tone, senior; from the request for translations, not in my immediate field) Mr. Nasty, as a colleague described such responses yesterday, is going to determine how this plays out. In the long run, it probably will not shape my immediate future, but it certainly will do the longer game (such as it is, if it’s not lost in the process, here). And certainly force me to confront my own snobbery, which has never been inconsequential. Whatevs. This isn’t working. The saga, though I’ve bought another week to play, is probably headed inexorably down the slope I don’t think I really want, but don’t think I can stop, either. One crank, one career. An awkward exchange.

one up, one down
Saturday May 21st 2011, 7:59 am
Filed under: damn,exit pursued by a bear,fear,hangover,HelLA,maudlin,Rubbish,Work Tags:

Not even that, really. I know deadlines are flexible, but this is fucking ridiculous. The lesser has one that’s quite positive, the greater one that’s quite negative, neither has two, nor answers, though I imagine they’re coming, soon, this week. Just after the Rapture, then, which might turn out to be conveniently timed. Ah, failure, my favorite category. Or, worse, indeterminate mediocrity. Thinking on driving home yesterday, “I don’t want to be famous, I want to be remembered.” Which doesn’t answer the question of scope or scale or quantity, but there you have it. Yet, I suppose much like the cancer that has come back, after all these years, to YCTNW’s family member, at least shit can move forward. I hold out hope, knowing it will hurt worse, having sent a potentially ill-advised (because reactionary) email. And a summer that will be filled with labor, though of spirits high or low it’s not entirely clear. Or perhaps that wine shop in Queens beckons.