Slept badly last night. Actually, didn’t sleep much at all.. Drank an espresso in the late afternoon and it kept me up until nearly four this morning. It didn’t help that the clock in the St. Joseph’s bell tower tolls on the quarter hour. The bell itself is not robust — not the big French casting one would imagine given the history of the church. Instead, I imagine one of those large Chinese gongs with a knob in the center and some kind of Soviet-era mechanical device that brings a hammer down on it. To make it even more difficult for the sleeper, sometimes the bell tolls once, sometimes twice and occasionally three times at each quarter hour, without apparent pattern. The first couple of nights I was here, jet-lagged, I thought the hour got three bells, the half hour two and the quarters one each, but that is not the case I discovered last night. Like so many things here, the order, if there is an order, is not apparent, appearing random, capricious.
Despite the fact that I haven’t quite made it to VN yet, this is my fifth diary entry. I’m in the Hong Kong airport drinking Starbucks coffee and enduring my final layover before I make the hop over to Hanoi this afternoon. If you asked me exactly how long I’ve been in transit I wouldn’t be able to tell you — once you cross the international dateline flying west for 18 hours, the elasticity of time becomes weirdly evident. The Hong Kong airport also looks like a larger version of the Ottawa and Vancouver BC airports from which I started my trip, which lends a spatial element to my temporal confusion. The good news is that it’s mid-morning and, having slept a bit on the plane, I am not entirely wiped out. No telling how I’ll feel by the time I actually check into the Spring Hotel on Nha Chung street in the Old Quarter of Hanoi. I’m hoping to have the energy to shower, take a walk, and eat dinner at a banh cuon stall.
It was only an accident that I was awake for the actual moment of the new year’s arrival. Neither Carole nor I have been awake for the turning of the year in many years and last night we went to bed, as usual, around eleven o’clock, but one of the terriers woke me up jumping on or off the bed at about five to twelve. I can’t read an alarm clock without my glasses, so we have one of those old-fogie jobs that projects the time on the ceiling. The dog settled back down and I lay there watching the red numbers tick away to midnight. Very peaceful. This morning we drank black coffee & ate steel-cut oats with dried cherries, pecans, and brown sugar. I put half & half in my cereal; Carole virtuously put buttermilk in hers.
So anyway, every once in a while my friend (and frequent commenter on this blog) Ed Mycue sends me a sheaf of poems, which I read and put in a folder. Yesterday as I was trying to organize some manuscripts and drafts in a file drawer, I pulled out a stack of Ed’s poems. This one was on top — I think it may have arrive around this time last year — and I thought it would make a good New Year statement. Tempus fugit & all that.
i press on slogging through the daily shit with a silly smile on my lips possibly. up to my ankles in new ideas and dead friends. you can’t stay mad at life although madness is a condition with a long tail. and has a zoom lens. the labyrinth snakes through dreams switching evolutions and exchanging stigmas. ah me, said the iceland singer as she took another swing at the australian paparazzi.
That pretty much sums it up, I think. I’ve put out fresh suet and scattered seeds for the winter birds — it was ten below this morning when we woke up, but the sun is shining & we have a roaring fire going in the wood stove