Flipping through calendar notations

For the Monitor
Published: 1/7/2020 12:15:49 PM
Modified: 1/7/2020 12:15:17 PM

I and my desk calendar had a pretty good run these past 12 months. It sits faded and thin on a small table next to my makeshift desk, which actually is an old paneled door, in a basement cold as Yellowknife, Canada.

Currently, I’m wearing four shirts, a winter hat, thermal underwear, gym shorts, sweatpants and a pair of Chukka boots over hot wool socks. Sexy, you don’t have to tell me. This is how I work during these godforsaken months in this godforsaken place for some godforsaken reason.

I was trying to get my head around 2019 and figure out what went on and where and with whom. Like most years, it was all a blur. And I hate looking back anyhow. But the task at hand calls for just that. So, I’ll try my best.

But first I must turn to my desk calendar, because she and I meet on a daily basis. She knows my every move, inside and out: socially, business-wise, family jive, all of it. My life is written upon her breast, old-school style.

Readying herself for pen and scribble, beat to shit after a year of spilling everything from tobacco juice to canned fruits on her each month, we arrive in mid-December to discuss what was and will never be again.

Beneath the current month of December, under the 22-inch calendar, folded haphazardly, are all the past months that I saved for no good reason. I just do. Yet written on all those months is everything I sit freezing and trying to remember. So, I reach for a random month.

June 2019 comes up and I see written in pen on the 7th: “Word Barn 7.” Yes, yes, a terrifying night. That I do remember. So far out of my element, I cringe thinking about the reading I gave that beautiful Friday evening to a small crowd along with some accomplished poets.

An idyllic spot in Exeter that makes my jaw ache for straw grass, I fumbled through reading a chapter from my book, Notes From The Last Breath Farm, that night. The crowd yawned their way through my prattle and I blame them not. I was horrific. Sweaty, flatulent, choppy in my delivery, I wish only for a do-over someday. At least let me bring that “F” up to a solid “C.”

I also see that I had an eye exam on the 25th of June. Canceled that. Same with the doctor appointment on the 17th. No go. Not just yet. On the 6th, I was supposed to do something with someone named “Matt @ 4” but I have no idea who Matt is. What did we do, Matt? Who the heck are ya?

Enough of June, let’s reach back into the pile.

Oh, sweet October. I have to say, without looking, October was a great month. Being not so long ago, I immediately recall that I was heavily invested in the dead writer, Jack Kerouac. I have four days blocked out on the calendar with big capital letters stating “KEROUAC WEEK.”

Wanting to go to the annual Kerouac Festival in Lowell, Mass., for years, I sat in on readings this time, danced in a second line in the drizzling rain, asked a few questions to scholars, and broke bread with someone named David Amram who I had no idea was a world-class composer. Amram was a friend of the “King of the Beats” and he told me about the old Bowery and “Bird” Parker as we sipped soup and swiped at our runny noses.

Oh yeah, and I’m pretty sure that around the 7th of October I drove in the middle of the night to Asbury Park, N.J., to see one of my favorite singers, Sturgill Simpson, play seaside at the Stone Pony. As I said, the year is a blur. And that trip was just that. A big fat blur. I could have been downstairs at Penuche’s in Manchester for all I know, burning brain cells with the other nightcrawlers.

Another do-over, please.

Lest I forget, my dog got sprayed in the face by a skunk that same month and ran around the house, under the bed, on the bed, on everything, funkifying the whole joint up. The smell was toxic and unbearable. I hustled to the basement to puke. My daughter was yacking up a storm in her bedroom. The wife needed to be hosed down with salts in the driveway. Weeks later, I still smell that filthy striped animal.

Moving on.

May is pulled from the pile and I can’t help but nearly weep when I think of the trip I made to Clarksdale, Miss., with my good buddy Ohio. A momentary transformation took place as I peered into a Delta sunset I’ll never forget, my past shaved down to the base of the horizon.

On the 4th of May is scratched: “Senie.” My man. A musical beast from Concord, Senie Hunt’s CD release party was held at a home that settles like a Dickinson poem, back in the hills off Route 89. It was a magical evening that ended with me playing Willie’s “Red Headed Stranger” as I drove home at dusk, the golden hour. Perfectly timed.

We roll into July, another busy month of running my mouth. Solo, I went to Louisville on the 19th and bathed in the life and times of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, one of my literary heroes. This was a life goal to read at this annual festival dedicated to the Gonzo Way. I got tattooed and humbled over three days at Gonzo Fest, doing my best not to stick out like a lecherous sicko fan. I crept through museums and libraries and adored every second of it.

November appears and she is filled with markings: “Tires @ 10,” “Zoo Crew @ 6,” “Last Waltz,” “Call V” and “Four’s 50th.” On and on. Standout moments, each of them, all providing me with a chilling amount of comfort and inspiration. A good month.

And today, as I sit at my desk awaiting my new desk calendar, clothed like an Eskimo, I look to 2020 and I see my 50th birthday approaching around the bend and I plan to paint the squares of the New Year like a graffiti artist might a bare wall at midnight, marking up the hours of my days and nights.

(Rob Azevedo can be reached at onemanmanch@gmail.com. His new book “Notes From The Last Breath Farm” can be purchased at Gibson’s on Main Street or Amazon.)

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