Sunday morning in Topanga Canyon, California. Yesterday, Diana performed a chapter from her third Latvian novel, still in process, at the local Library—Topanga literary festival. Talked to Steve Ericson. I taught one of his novels. Read three of my poems at the open mic. Later, a gathering at the Mathur’s where the conversation flowed without effort. The wine and beer flowed a little too. Spent the whole day without news, without the flat screen images attacking my senses. Woke up this morning to read the rants of a mad man—never mind.

I don’t think there is anything I enjoy more than conversation with congenial people, intelligent people, people very much alive. I find that a lot in California. Maybe it’s who I’m related to here—and their friends. But I think it’s deeper than that. California has always taken a good deal of abuse from the Texas perspective, political abuse, cultural abuse, etc. I had a mother and future student in my office one afternoon talking about Hollyweird and the Southern California corruption of our culture. The mother was the wife of one of my university’s vice presidents. Her daughter wanted to know if she should major in English. She wanted to write children’s books but didn’t want to read literature with sex in it. Major in accounting, I told her. And I liked Southern California, the people I knew there. I like Texas too, and my friends there. I don’t find the need to diminish one place to feel somehow more validated—though I am sometimes guilty of that sin.

Dipped in the hot tub this morning. Of course I did. I sip my coffee. Morning in the canyon. I prefer more open sky, but I could adjust to living here. Stayed up late with Kris who talked about taking me to Latvia someday—in the summer.  Not the winter. It’s too damn cold in the winter. Somewhere in the conversation Kris tells me how he more or less lucked into being a producer, how things sometimes just fall into place. But neither one of us thinks its just chance.

I am looking at my wife standing on the edge of the deck, leaning on the rail, and looking down the canyon.