First Day of Winter

On these cold days, we bundle up and walk west into the wind. I’m dressed in layers, hat, scarf and gloves. Doe wears a cashmere sweater with a turtleneck collar. She is the more glamorous one. We enter Central Park at 96th Street, climb the first hill,  follow the park drive for a block or so, then cut over to walk along the ball fields.  No matter how cold the day, there are runners and people on bikes going past. I’ve signed up to do the New Year’s Eve run in the park this year. I think about that as we walk. I usually lose steam at about three miles, and I believe the run is closer to four, but hopefully, my friends will motivate me to keep going.  I’m most looking forward to the fireworks at midnight.

Walking quickly, we warm up as we go. Doe stops at a water fountain, remembering her summer routine, but she seems to understand when I tell her it’s been turned off for the season. I give her a tug and she moves on, pulling towards the grass, where she hopes to catch a scent of something disgusting to roll in. All over the park, the trees have lost their leaves, and look stark and sculptural against the sky. I love their long, articulated, bare branches. When you get close you see the roughness of the bark. They are most beautiful in this state.

I think of May Sarton’s Journal of a Solitude, and the life I had on the North Fork for ten years. Sarton’s observations of nature, creativity, and isolation were a world I tried to emulate out there, but here, in New York City, my days more resemble the life she described. I no longer have a copy of her book, or I might read a few pages.

I’ve been reading a lot of fiction, lately, partly for pleasure, and partly to learn how writers do it. As I write my book, I look for solutions in their novels. I’m much more conscious of technique than I used to be. I notice dialogue, plot advancement, and character development. I teach myself how to go forward. I’ve always been an autodidact. I remember when John Woo first called me that. I was twenty. I’d never heard the word before. I was reading poetry and Jayne Anne Phillip’s book, Black Tickets. I was taking classes at Hunter. I was young and bursting with the desire to read, write and play music. I wanted to eat the world. I was too insecure to let anyone teach me how, though. I left school. My parents tried to reel me in, but I resisted their efforts. I didn’t trust them or my teachers. I was a non-conformist. I still am, I guess. I like to learn from experience.

Yesterday, I met with DW and we talked about future projects. I gave him a disc of my songs from 2010, many written for his projects. Once again, I’m threatening to finish the group and release them. I don’t know if I will, not because I want to with-hold anything, but because every day I run out of time.

DW looked at my statistics and told me that 65,000 people visited my site this year. That’s a lot of people. I was shocked. To all of you who read these words, Happy Holidays and all the best to you and your loved ones in 2011. Let’s keep seeing the beauty in the world.

Peace and love, out.

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