There are Shouldn’ts and Shoulds and ANDS

PS: HALF AN HOUR AFTER ORIGINAL POST OF BELOW – I want you to know — here in my whiny world — how DIFFICULT life is without a copy editor or, even, a proof-reader. ALLLLLL this babbling I do and I’ve no one to look at it BUT ME – and I SO OFTEN think I’ve fixed everything (well, everything I know enough to know needs fixing) and then I will RETURN to post an hour – a day – two minutes – later and see MORE MISTAKES, more lack of clarity, etc — you will just have to excuse me — I’M DOING THE BEST I CAN – (ARGHH — and 2 hours later, I just fixed four more mistakes/syntax messes. Not helping. NOT HELPING.)

What was that?

First of all, my internet is going all wonky, sporadic, in and out, hidden network, bullshit, disconnect every two seconds so EVERYTHING about writing this is harder than it should be. And that is making me cry.  Like the news is making me cry. Like people’s political Tweets are making me cry. Like the fact bullies are taking over the world is making me cry. TOO FUCKING MUCH CRYING.

There are days . . . where I feel as if I have spent my life being tricked by the imps, gremlins, pixies, enchanters, and impostors in these woods, as if I was enraptured, some spell dropped upon me while I was still acrib.

The curse of being Charlie. I am stuck in these woods. Where I think people are fucking with me just to see what I’ll do.

The past few weeks have been difficult. I thought I had it handled. Was that me? Was that him? Was it wrong? Am I mad? Is that all? Was he suddenly getting bored with me? Before he even had a chance to get bored he left the woods.

There are needs. There are standards. There are shouldn’ts and shoulds …and those include … oh, who am I to tell anyone about shouldn’ts and shoulds.

Then today, more rude at gym. Topped off with an odd sauna. When I got in the sauna I was already in a mood because of what amounted to cutting from a certain hospitality specialist (i.e. cater waiter) who used to be nice to me but now has moved on to bigger fish to fry (i.e. larger dicks to chase) so opening the door to see four toweled fellows was less than encouraging. I like to pretend the sauna BELONGS to me in my HUGE Manhattan penthouse. I’m not saying that in my HUGE Manhattan penthouse sauna I wouldn’t have four fellows — but they wouldn’t be toweled and they’d all stand at attention when I entered and hospitality specialist fry my fish in the most obsequious way.

Still … all four of the fellows seemed at first glance the harmless variety: Green-towel, naked beneath, mid-thirties, I’ve spoken to a few times;  Brown-towel, yellow-spandex long-swim shorts, very young and seemed to be trolling the locker room area (more later); Red-towel, UnderArmour sport-briefs, mid-forties, seen him around but not a lot; Blue-towel, naked underneath and his junk exposed, slipping partway out of towel when I entered, late-twenties, early-thirties, very athletic build, nice body, chiseled features, locker room-fantasy material.

I went in and sat down. It was a silent bunch. Which is how sauna groups often are. There is some sort of code about when to and when not to speak. A code I don’t really understand and so I never speak unless spoken to, and even then, sparingly. (Hard to believe, I know, but, truth — again — I’m almost cripplingly shy and terrified of people.) Red-towel and Brown-towel had moved so I could slide between them. Tick. Tock. Suddenly, beautiful Blue-towel who has by now tucked his exceptional genitals away, leans forward and across-ish Red-Towel and clearly aiming at me, starts in with this:

“I lost fifteen pounds because of Peru. I got an amoeba-something. And so did my wife. That’s where I was.” All sputtered in a rush, almost breathless with desperation. I was literally taken aback — as in, I’d had my elbows on my knees, head toward floor, and when he spewed this torrent of information, jerkily gesticulating at me across Red-towel, I slammed myself fully upright and scorched my naked back on the sauna-bench. I thought, hmm, maybe he needs to say “wife” because his junk was hanging out for me to see when I walked in the door and he wanted to make sure I didn’t misunderstand what was going on? Maybe he wanted to make sure I knew the display had been an accident. He continued.  “That’s why I haven’t been here for a while, why you haven’t seen me, you know? But the other day I looked in the mirror and said ‘I gotta get back to the gym’ cuz I’m a hard gain and — well, my wife likes it when I’m cut.” First of all, I don’t know what “hard gain” means but if it means he has trouble gaining weight, I hate him anyway. And then, wife again. And the implication I had noticed he hadn’t been to gym for a while, as if I had been missing him or looking for him? Which, I hadn’t. This story went on for something like ten minutes and included many, many mentions of wife, and everyone else but me contributed to it — even the Brown-towel, think-he-was-cruising (more later) teenager — with tales of their own world travels, trading Spanish and French phrases, talking about their wives (Blue and Red-towels) and partners (Green-towel) and parents (Brown-towel) with whom they’d world-traveled and such.

If life were made of moments, even now and then a bad one, but if life were only moments, then you’d never know you had one. Who can live in the woods?

All the time, beautiful Blue-towel-junk-exposed-fellow keeps trying to bring me into the conversation. But, I had nothing to add. I haven’t been anywhere. I can barely keep up with what people mean when they are speaking English, let alone trying to follow them in another language. I mean, truth — most of the time I feel as if I am translating even when people are speaking in English because people are never actually saying what the fuck they mean.

I didn’t understand why my arrival in the sauna changed the silence dynamic. I would have been fine with silence. I live — mostly — in silence. But, they went on and on and on with their lives, their travels, their languages, their loves, their amoebas, and it started — that feeling that begins as a tensing at the back of my neck, involuntary cheek sucking — I knew I was going to cry. Because I haven’t been anywhere and I don’t speak and there’s no one who ever wanted me first or to take me anywhere and so I — who had quite honestly said ABSOLUTELY NOTHING the entire conversation even though Blue-towel was aiming it at me — couldn’t live in those woods any more — I got up and headed to the showers.

Where soon, too soon, Brown-towel, yellow-spandex long-swim shorts, very young was in the shower across from me and he was amusing himself and recording it on his phone. I hastened away (surely I should get points for that) and as I dressed at my locker, he walked by, stopped, did the under-the-mirror-ball-last-call-lights-almost-up-desperate-last-ditch-gay-bar-turn from the 80s (where did he learn this stuff?) and smiled at me, dropping his towel, then picking it up, challenge-smirking at me.

What? Why? I mean, what is it about me that invites this? It’s like with cats, I try to avoid them, am not a fan, so they always want to be on my lap. With men, I am perfectly fine with NSA sex, no worries, no issues, but, right about now, lately, I want very much to be seen and appreciated for something more than a quick-trick — NOT THAT I HAVE ANY OBJECTION AT ALL TO QUICK TRICKS, I do not, I am a HUGE fan — but, right now, I want someone to HUG me. It’s different.

So, me being me, I come home feeling incredibly lonely and sad from Yellow-towel mean and Blue-towel-odd-conversation and Brown-towel-fuck-dare and I turn my phone back on and see I’ve a few Twitter-notifications and I look at them and notice famous author who doesn’t follow me but follows about a million other people has gotten twelve-million responses to a Tweet and I foolishly scroll through famous author’s follows to see how many people I know and follow and am followed by we have in common and SO MANY it seems almost PURPOSEFUL that I am not followed —

YOU SEE WHERE MY MIND IS NOWADAYS? This babble-look-for-reasons-to-feel-inferior-fit is crazy on MANY levels — ridiculous and foolish and yet, somehow, in my mind, conflated with Yellow-towel dissing me and strange sauna goings on and Brown-towel dropping towel and —

Let the moment go. Don’t forget it for a moment though. Just remembering you’ve had an and when you’re back to or, makes the or mean more than it did before …

No. See, sorry Mr. Sondheim, but I think that is FLAWED logic. The ands are killing me. Look, I don’t expect some prince to come remove this spell, kissing me awake into an IRL-reality better than this five decades long shit-storm, nor do I expect a man in a towel in a sauna to want to hug and fuck me, but, I mean, really, enough with the AND and the OR and the MOMENTS. Enough.

P.P.S. ONE HOUR LATER: Some days I am just so incredibly weighted down by sadness, I don’t know what to do, and it seems that those days magnetize me for more sadness, because I didn’t even write about some of the other things that happened today. So, I’m sorry, and I suppose I should be more careful about what I write, or I’ll lose the few of you I still have. But, this is where I am, so, it’s what I write.

SHORT STORY: Two Dogs and a Shotgun

I have been working on short stories – this is a piece of one – that is a piece of another – that I think wants to be a backstory in yet another – and so, probably, will never end up in any of those places. So, I’m putting it here. Goodnight.

 

just come in come upstairs dont have lot of time

Fear implanted from too many Lifetime movies: This is a set-up. It’s not really the man in the picture who is messaging me. It’s somebody setting up an unsuspecting friend. I’ll walk into a stranger’s house, up the steps, into a bedroom, and the man there won’t know who or what I am. Or, I’ll walk into a stranger’s house, up the steps, into a bedroom, and get the shit beat out of me by a gaggle of redneck fagbashers. Or, I’ll walk into a stranger’s house, up the steps, into a bedroom, find a dead body and the police will burst in, my DNA will be found all over the place because a previous trick saved it and planted it on the victim.

you close

I walk into a stranger’s house, up the steps, into a bedroom, and it’s the guy in the picture, albeit fifteen pounds (at least) heavier, absent the two white dogs, camouflage pants, jacket, and cap, and shotgun he had in the photo. I notice things.

i dont have a lot of time

There is as little decor in the room as there is punctuation or intonation in his messages, or, frankly, his speaking; he requires interpretation. Which is fine with me. I would rather imagine him. Real life is too hard. Stranger’s rooms games are much easier the less one knows. Names are never allowed. He does have the same smile as in the picture. Not that it was his smile that convinced me to risk death by walking into a stranger’s house, up the steps, into a bedroom. It was the dogs. I love dogs. Especially white dogs. I suspect from his camouflage couture and gun in the picture, he likes white things too. I think this must be a guest room. It’s just a futon mattress on the floor and nothing on the walls. Nothing anywhere. I notice things.

you dont look forty-six –

I’m not, of course – which I don’t say because I don’t talk. I notice things.

– i mean you look younger than that which is weird cuz people say i look older than twenty-six –

I’m terrible with age. As in, I lie a lot about mine. No. I’m not forty-six. I’m considerably older than forty-six but it seemed a safe enough deceit — or, conceit — having seen enough people claiming to be forty who looked – I thought – older than me. No one uses their real ages in these walking up the stairs and into stranger’s rooms games. So, what does twenty-six look like anyway? I thought it looked like the guy in the picture with the camouflage pants, jacket, and cap, the two white dogs, and the shotgun. I think it was a shotgun. Is a rifle a shotgun? I don’t care really. When I walked into this room expecting a dead body or a beat down, he was wearing black sweatpants and a t-shirt from Big Pecker’s Bar and Grille in Ocean City which I’m betting he got during senior week eight years ago because that’s what rednecks do around here — go to Ocean City and buy disgustingly vile t-shirts and spend all week trying to get drunk and laid, the latter of which won’t be a problem today because that is the only reason I am here and now he has removed the sweats and the Pecker-shirt and stripped to a surprising pair of green and white checked boxers which appear to be almost British in cut. I know my boxers. I know my British. He’s rubbing himself through them. If he’s uncut I’m going to want to ask what he did with his accent. I won’t ask. I have learned that one of the rules of these games — as far as I am concerned and in the version I play — is not to make jokes the other players are not likely to get or appreciate. So, mostly, I don’t talk. I notice things.

you wanna –

No need for details. I did not wanna but I did want to. Which is why I was there. And we did. Not for long. And there was no reason to ask what he’d done with his accent. And the not for long, I think, was not because he didn’t have a lot of time, but because he never, probably, takes long once the almost-sort-of-British boxers are removed and the wanna gets going. I am considerably older than forty-six and considerably skilled at wanna. I ask where the dogs are from the picture. I have heard no barking. No whining to be let out of another room somewhere or in from a yard. I notice things.

you like dogs –

I do. But I don’t like real conversation. I am trying to go. I don’t, I tell him, have a lot of time either because I need to get back to take a shift with a patient I care for and I can’t be late so thanks. He wants to converse. I notice things.

oh yeah – i know about that – my wife’s a med-tech

What? As soon as I get out — which I do almost as fast as he came — I check the picture he sent and there with the camouflage pants, jacket, and cap, two white dogs, and shotgun, on the hand holding the gun, there it is, a ring.

I did not notice that thing. I want to feel awful and guilty but a childhood devotion to Susan Hayward films results in me feeling a little bit glamorous and romantic. He will probably want to leave his wife for me. I will not let him bring the camouflage outfits or the guns. But, the two dogs can come along.

Oh, what the hell, bring the shotgun.

 

 

Underwear on the counter, and other random thoughts

I can’t risk being exposed to media today; staying off-line, not turning on television or radio, hunkering down here at Absence Aerie where I am writing, reading, and ruminating in solitude and silence, not another human in view. But the problem is what do I do with those random thoughts I must spew, those musings I usually disgorge on Twitter? I suppose I could take the Twitter hint — that land where I have been muted by so many and never followed by a certain authoress who follows nearly everyone else I know — and shut the hell up, but, that wouldn’t be me, now would it? So, here they are . . .

8:30p.m. Tornado threat, passed without incident except it was raining so hard two (who shall remain nameless) pooped in the house. (You can safely assume I was not one of them.) And now, I am, I confess, watching Survivor. If you would like to know why I am alone, watch Survivor. Caleb Reynolds is much the kind of fellow with whom I often find myself tangled. Very beautiful, very not intellectual, someone who you’d think would have some homophobia but actually has none at all, in fact, is so open, loving, embracing, and interested in sharing love, I feel certain that given the right circumstance and enough time, we will be together. We. Will. Not. But I do it, again and again. Because I am very not smart.

caleb reynolds survivor Caleb Reynolds Big Brother 1 caleb reynolds survivor 2

tea cup4:30p.m. Venerable or hoary? Whory or concupiscent? Confused or confusing? Sitting by the fire, wrapped in a quilt, reading an English novelist’s latest, I go to the kitchen to make myself a cuppa, and there, my exiled phone flashes with a tornado warning. No, I will brook no such interruptions. There is heavy rain, maybe hail, snoring dogs, restless cat, and only forty pages left of Miss Hadley. I’m sipping this tea, here, just me, my reverie, this fantasy of English-cottage-damp-afternoon, detached from the real world, nothing and no one can part the mists and reach me, not even a funnel cloud can break through — not, no, when I have only forty pages left and am busy pretending I am an Englishman, a crotchety, maybe a little magical, scary-legend to the local children, codger in my cottage. Don’t interrupt my tea time.

 

absence aerie fog 22:30p.m. Miasmal mist / creeping obscuring foreboding / disappeared here / weaving ducking shrinking from those places where i know the mirrors wait / long have i been fading / the boundaries of self that held me once intact / have ceased to be / dematerialized evanesced evaporated dissipated dissolved faded escaped / i have vanished / at last / this empty space refusing to be filled by anyone else’s matter / ever again

 

 

 

11:30a.m. Grotesqueries, gorgeous in our inability to be other than seen as other, making our world behind the tents, beyond the tents in which you pay us to perform;

clowns

In the background there, having escaped from my without-a-net trapeze work scarred only by the crowd’s unknowing, ignorant applause, I hastened to find him who knew I was not a trick, no freak, he-another-me, and there he was, being held by that other, having been seduced by a lacy collar and the mystery of what was hidden beneath those damned, striped balloon-pants;

clowns 3

Woeful, there, I hoped and I imagined after I had gone, he would full of regret spend a life of weep and ache and missing me. Likely, rather, he threw my goodbye-accusations to the ground, stripped himself near bare, and allowed himself to be tickled by the feathered headdress of another striped lover. He never could resist the stripes and I, alas, dressed only in solids, all black and white and flat, dull landscape of my average body.

clowns 2

What could I do, once I knew I had no longer a home even in the sideshow, but ache forever over that other who’d let me open myself to him, pointed his gun at me, and the boom-flag I’d expected had instead been bullets of betrayal.

 

boxers9:30a.m. Yes, that’s my underwear on the kitchen counter. I wish I had a delightfully erotic story to tell, some mad adventure with a marvelously young, gorgeous swain who stripped me with his teeth in a frenzy of lust and had me up against the sink, mad with passion. But, truth, the only frenzy of lust here at Absence Aerie has been my chomping on marvelously gorgeous foodstuffs and skipping trips to the gym, so my waist has expanded enough that my underwear feels tighter and who wants that when one could be free-balling in loose sweats while nestled under blanket, reading a stack of books one after another, snuggly on couch in front of fireplace, dogs cozied up on both sides and lap? Am I right? Of course I am, I know I am, because I have social media and my too-smart phone turned off so no one can fucking argue with me. So, last time I came out to the kitchen to get yet another snack, I thought for one second, “Damn, my waist already feels constricted, maybe I should just drink water or something?” Ha. Not likely. Instead, I did what any man who has recently been dumped by someone who didn’t even go out with him would do; I stripped off my sweats, passionately and lustfully removed my boxer briefs, and tossed them on the counter. (Don’t tell the C’s — I’ll disinfect before I depart.) OH MY — just realized I wrote last night about praying while in my boxers and used a stock photo in that post. Hmm, guess I’m boxers obsessed right now. Oh well, back to reading. And snacking.

 

Thirty-eight seconds

ck briefsWhen I say, now, lately, “You know me,” there is less and less possibility the statement would pass a lie detector test.

Example: I just warmed my coffee in the microwave, meaning to punch in my preferred not-too-hot/not-too-cold thirty-second blast of cancer-causing radiation and by accident (or, encroaching blindness combined with laziness – I’m wearing my reading glasses for most everything now because my bifocals aren’t strong enough to wear while writing/reading which is what I am mostly doing when not letting out dogs, taking out garbage, or driving around one or another Miss Daisy and current income does not allow for new eye exam and spectacles, thus . . .) I punched the eight above rather than the zero below, setting a thirty-eight rather than a thirty-second blast.

I let it stand and pressed start.

The eight second difference might seem nearly meaningless but consider this: In bull riding it’s the amount of time a rider is required to stay on in order to have it count as a qualified ride. Or this: Cyanide-Suicide pills used by cold war era Soviet spies took about eight seconds to kill. Or, consider, a lightning strike lasts maybe ten microseconds.

And this: It wasn’t that long ago I would not have been able to press start without clearing the thirty-eight and re-setting to thirty because reheating coffee in a microwave was a thirty-second event. Not twenty-nine, not thirty-one, and certainly not thirty-eight.

I only wore black Calvin Klein boxer-briefs for ten years; ten years during which no one ever saw me in my underwear; ten years during which I never went to bed at night without getting down on my knees, beside the bed that had been in my family for three generations, made by my great grandfather, and praying for all the people I loved, a prayer of gratitude to a god in which I no longer believe, to which I no longer pray, by a bed I gave away, a bed beside which almost every night for ten years I knelt wearing my black Calvin Klein boxer briefs and never gave up thinking that maybe, someday, someone would see me in them and think me worth praying about as well.

During those ten years, when I re-heated coffee in a microwave, I re-heated it for thirty seconds.

People knew that about me. I excused my peccadilloes with, “You know me.” And they mostly, sort of, in some ways and to some degree, did. But none of them knew how much the prayers beside the bed I’ve given away in a house I no longer have where I shared my room with two dogs I’ll never see again all of which happened while wearing my black Calvin Klein boxer briefs were prayed so that someday, maybe, I’d be seen.

Now, the amount of time I heat my coffee, well, I am far more casual. I still — mostly — wear black boxer briefs but some are Hanes and some are Ralph Lauren and none are Calvin Klein and I’m not sure why.

But the bed is gone. And I don’t pray. And I like the temperature of my coffee, this coffee, this cup of coffee I’ve been drinking while writing this, I like it warmed for thirty-eight seconds.

And, here I am. Going. And, you don’t know me, at all.

Bedtime Prayer

I don’t pray, but if I did, my most fervent supplication would be that I always have better things to do with my life-force, energy, intellect, and emotions than to use them in denigration, criticism, and cruelty. Certainly we can all agree that the world is hard enough a journey for everyone, let us not add to it, rather, oughtn’t we to spend our time here raising one another up, encouraging, embracing what is worthwhile, and, in those cases where we feel someone or something is not to our liking, give the benefit of the doubt, perhaps, choosing discretion and silence?

Better to err on the side of kindness, I think. Much.

 

Choices and Consequences

Location: Absence Aerie, Night Two

Absence Aerie Feb 2016 5

Bed remotes. Holy crap.

Choices and consequences.

The bed here at Absence Aerie is a technological marvel of options meant to offer the perfectly personally preferred sleep experience; all I have to do is find my nocturnal-nirvana using the two remote controls pictured.

I am able to raise my head or my feet or both, or, if finding the arrangement of the two just right for me is too intimidating, there are three pre-set options from which to choose. Once I’ve found my ideal alignment, I can set in motion a massage: thumping or waves or vibrations (Oh my!) in bottom to top or top to bottom direction. All of which one is advised (by me, there was no instruction manual nor helpful note left behind) to do ONLY after one has determined at which firmness setting one wishes the mattress.

At first, I was excited. Then, excited and scared. (Ten points if you know from which musical I’m cadging.) My first night, Friday, punching buttons and making an amusement park ride of bedtime (which seems only fair as I was supposed to have my first date in decades this weekend, right?) was a little like an episode of Laverne & Shirley, or, well, in my case,  Laverne & Nobody Else as Usual,  during which I frightened the animals and nearly folded myself in half. This old body has trouble enough getting used to a new mattress, it always takes a day or two, and so I suppose I should not have been surprised when I wakened Saturday morning in fairly severe pain and almost unable to walk and I am not kidding – I seriously thought I had dislocated my hips or spine. (Again, seems sort of apt as I was supposed to have my first date in decades this weekend and a little dislocation of hips and spine would not have been unwelcome.) Thus, last night, I knew I needed to try new settings.

And when I went to bed (at 9:30, again alone and again, not kidding, how did I get so old?) I was irritated.

I don’t want all these choices.

I mean, yes, it’s kind of delightful to be able to raise the upper half of the mattress so I’m propped up to read, but, uhm, I’ve been propping myself up with pillows for over five decades with very little effort, why does it need to be mechanized? And, surely, a fellow like me whose rear windshield wipers have not functioned properly since I bought my car, whose phones explode with a regularity to which Ex-Lax abusers can only aspire, whose mere presence in a home seems to doom the plumbing to bursting and clogging, well, I am made to be Luddite and the mechanization of a bed will, in my case, certainly lead to its eventual breakdown — who do you call when your bed gets stuck in the upright position? This is one more thing about which I neither want to nor can afford to worry.

Choices have consequences, people. This drive to mechanize and automate things perfectly easy to do without motors and computer chip, it’s a trap and a slippery slope. Don’t get me wrong, I love my phone and my laptop. I worship access to WiFi. I don’t want to launder my clothes on a rock in a stream. But, I also don’t want to expand the list of things in my life needing to be plugged in or batteried or tended to by those with a skill-set I will never have.

If I pay someone to do something involving a bed and positions within or on it, it ain’t gonna be a FlexFit technician – unless he’s twenty-ish with a screwdriver of generous proportion and protective covering.

Choices, people. They come (if you’re lucky) with consequences. And, no surprise here, last night I chose Firmness at one hundred per cent and mattress flat, completely horizontal, feet and head on a flat plane because I wanted to be able to say this:

For six hours, at least, because of the choices he made, the consequence was, Charlie was on an even keel.

Love and Light, kids. Love and Light.

Unpacking my baggage . . . again . . . at Absence Aerie

Absence Aerie Feb 2016 4

The dawn approacheth. View from the front yard (hill) at Absence Aerie.

Location: Absence Aerie, Braddock Heights, Maryland

I thought maybe I could return to Twitter today, but, I might need a little more time for quiet rumination. I am fine, though. Fine. Really and truly. Fine.

When, late afternoon yesterday, I first through the doors here at Absence Aerie toddled, my right shoulder was weighed down by the ever-present and presently overstuffed for a week-away-backpack (a gift from sister, Debbie) which held books I am currently reading (five), the two Moleskine notebooks I always have with me — one of which is full of sticky pads and sticky notes and sticky arrows of various colors and sizes, my correspondence clipboard/folder, the Clairefontaine-top-spiral writing pad in which I am trying to find the mystery-meld of the three-short-stories-one-novel which are all currently singing out to me a Rickie Lee Jones-esque “We Belong Together” without telling me HOW to achieve this; also right shouldered was my computer/writing briefcase (a gift from dear one, Andrea) with my persnickety ASUS laptop, three more Clairefontaines, correspondence address book, password and code journal — inside of which I have special letters, cards, photos of dear ones as well as show/event tickets of meaning; all this while my left shoulder struggled to stay in-socket bearing its burden of Grey Gardens tote (bought on my birthday visit, third row center, April 2007, a week I saw the show so many times, the ushers came to know me) bursting with the seventeen books I could NOT fit into my backpack but thought I might either need or wish to have while I was away; and slung round my left wrist, two cloth-bags of refrigeration or freezer required food I brought along for my stay, those bags being from Country Meadows, the senior living center from which we, this past summer, moved my Mom, relocating her to the Record Street Home (Why, I continue to wonder, do they still insist on using “Home” in its title? A word with now unpleasant echoes of a time when we warehoused the elderly, the infirm, the insane, the inconvenient, so that we might go on with our lives unburdened by their care or, well, presence? But that’s another paragraph — oh, this parenthetical digression is a paragraph long, isn’t it?) from which I now pick her up a few times a week for jaunts out into the unfiltered world, that I might benefit from her wisdom, the sort of wisdom that might — had I bothered to listen — taught me I did NOT need all of this baggage to get here, where I am, going, or, rather, here, where I am staying, for the next week anyway.

Absence Aerie Feb 2016 2

Look closely, you can see the lights of Frederick, down there at the base of the mountain.

Toddled through the doors, yes, because I was, as I said some long four-hundred words or so ago, weighed down by my baggage. And, in truth, there were a few more bags in the car: clothes to wear (honestly, I didn’t pack, I brought my laundry bag from the last four days, because, if it worked for the last four days, it would work for the next seven during which I intend to leave Absence Aerie as infrequently as possible), a gym bag (although I honestly don’t think I’ll be returning to the gym for a while — last night I had a dream I went early in the morning — which I never do — in an effort to avoid the fellow who dumped me before he even really saw me and, in the dream, there he was in his flourescent three-hundred-dollar sneakers and shirt with wings printed on the back he always wears — it was the wings that convinced me to trust him because it is that sort of stupid detail I think would look pretty in a novel that makes me do things and decide things in life and holy shit I am a fucking idiot — and in the dream I panicked, ducked and left the gym, so, well, I think I need to stay away for a while if I’m dreaming about such things), two more cloth-grocery bags (of no particular provenance worth mentioning) of non-perishable sort-of-diet food (although, on another aside sort of note, I might also need to stop dieting because it has been suggested by someone I trust and I think it might be a little true that I have a touch of body dysmorphic disorder — so I did NOT bring along my scale, which, confession — I usually take with me everywhere I house/pet sit) and, finally, an overnight size case of ablution solutions, toiletries, razor/trimmer, over-the-counter drugs, and my three variety of wet-wipes — face, body, and bathroom use — and, see parenthetical about maybe suffering a tinge of BDD, there might have been a package or two of laxatives in there until I flushed them down the toilet — fitting, yes? — late last night — very late, because I was still sort of thinking that the fellow who dumped me before he dated me would maybe call and say, “Look, so sorry to eviscerate and humiliate you in the way I did, but you are such an authentic person I was drawn to that energy and then I panicked because I am tortured by internalized homophobia and so cannot bear to actually feel anything for another male and thus pushed you away because I could see — when you told me your real name — you were going to tell me truths just by being with me that I did not want to know so please forgive me and can we have a do-over?”

Angel Wings ripped outNeedless to say, winged shirt aside, that didn’t happen.

When I began this post, it was simply to say “Good morning” and post a few pictures of the beauty here at Absence Aerie, where, when I arrived and toddled in, weighed down as I was by all this baggage I feel needs must accompany me everywhere (not to mention the weight of my faux-Balzacian-Proustian rambling, discursive sentences – “NEEDS MUST ACCOMPANY” — which I blame on my aunt, Sissie, who told me I was a writer from the time I was six and wrote a story about an evil Elf who stole all the hamburgers in the world and kept them for himself, too afraid to ever eat them though and so came to a bad end, starving to death — oh shit, somebody should have known THEN I needed help — jeesh, I had forgotten about that story, I have been THE VERY SAME KIND OF CRAZY since I was six — but, I don’t just blame Sissie, it’s also Bart Yates who taught the workshop I took at Iowa and told me I had a uniquely baroque voice I should not lose) I asked my dears, D and B, how it was that there is still a coating of snow here when the rest of this little world in which we live, just a few miles down Braddock Mountain, is now snow free?

Absence Aerie Feb 2016 3

It grows lighter, that’s the driveway there, winding and wending down a precipitous front-slope of a yard here at Absence Aerie.

D said, “We are above the tree line.” I nodded and ahhed. She continued, “You used to live up here, don’t you remember?” I answered, “No, I’ve blocked all that out.” Except, I haven’t. And, I had no idea what “above the tree line” meant. So, this morning, wakened by the backache of first-night in a new-bed syndrome I have most every first-day of a house/pet sit, and urged out of bed by Nate, the elder-statesdog here, who was very seriously eager to have a pee, I noted the beauty of the approaching dawn through the trees and took some photos to share. I thought I might be ready to head back to Twitter, but, not quite, yet, I know I can post/message my blogs without seeing my timeline, and I can get and send DMs through my phone without seeing the timeline either — I’m just not quite ready for my timeline. I’m angry with myself for ever having talked about winged-man and the possibility of a date — which I thought was a definite thing — and I am just, well, I need to get better control of my narrative before I go back to Twitter, which I love, and my dear ones there, who I love, but, I feel disappointed in me for not having known better than to talk about something too early — when I learned long ago — back when I stopped trusting (not as if it happened overnight or all at once) to shut the hell up. I talk too much. (I know, if you’ve made it this far, you are now either laughing or saying, “YOU THINK? GET TO THE POINT!”)

Which means, I need, I think, to let go of some of this baggage I carry that makes me toddle rather than strut. And, turns out D was joking, we’re not really in air and elevations so rarefied here that trees can’t find oxygen enough to grow. The temperatures are not so frigid, there is no lack of moisture, there is plenty of air, plenty of water, there is more than enough support here for things to grow, to thrive, to flourish and bloom and blossom and then shed and shelter and hibernate, to burst forth again, renewed. This happens. There are seasons.

Absence Aerie Feb 2016 1

The back view at Absence Aerie.

Trees know to let go of their leaves. Trees know they will re-leave each spring.

Re-leave. Yes. That. And, relieve. So, here, at Absence Aerie, un-winged but much baggaged, below my own personal tree line, wending and winding and toddling and tripping and tearing-up (as in, both, torn and weeping) through this baroque, Balzacian bumbling, over-burdened, tangential, excursive, prolix babbling of  a sentence  (as in, string of words meant to mean something and term of confinement) that is my life, with all that overcrowding in my brain, tormenting of my spirit, and beating at and in my heart — my recently “yes” shouting and thus bruised just a little but mostly because of memories heart — here I am, going and saying, fifteen hundred words later, “Good morning, dears.”

 

Okay, listen dear ones . . .

Cody and Charlie at Bridges

Cody and Charlie at Bridges, 2014 – well, the back of Charlie’s head

It was a few years ago when dear friends joined me in a jaunt to NYC for my birthday and we saw The Bridges of Madison County. The music. Oh, loved. Kelli O’Hara. I have been listening to the original Broadway cast recording the past few days because there are moments of such truth and beauty in it and I enjoy being in those moments, those soaring, searing, sensual, reaches to the eternal, the universal we all hear in different songs.

Cody was assigned as my seat partner because he is good when I am weeping (and he is no mean weeper, himself) – he knows JUST when to take my hand, to put his arm around me, to pat my knee, which gesture when. He is an amazing man, this Cody.

Which is a brilliant thing to remember — amazing Cody and the other amazing people I was with that day: Andrea, Alison, Sue, Pat.

Group theatre

Charlie, Pat, Sue, Cody, Andrea 2014

Alison and Stalked Man at Joe Allens

Alison, 2014 Birthday at Joe Allen

So, yes. Me. Blessings. Just had another one. Phone call from a dear one, unexpected and fantastic and … yes. I am loved. I know this. Even when I feel like crap, I know this: I am loved. And so I listen to beautiful songs from Bridges of Madison County sung by Kelli O’Hara. Like this:

I love this because it is near the beginning, the buzz she feels, the glow, the surprise when after so long of feeling so little, of such predictable lonely sameness, someone looks at her and reminds her of those feelings, fires nerve endings and wakens sensations, promises possibilities so long gone she had completely forgotten they existed. And she wants it and doesn’t. She needs it and knows she should not have it. That’s how I felt recently.

These lines she sings (Kelli O’Hara is truly one of our great musical theatre interpreters):

I start to forget what I look like and yet
All it takes is one second one day.
All these things that I’ve hidden away
One glance reveals.

The ache and the buzz of the girl that I was
Before now, before him, before them.
It’s remarkable just to remember
How it feels!

Just look at me –
At my hands, at my mouth, at my shoulder,
Talk to me, like there’s something to say.
Suddenly,
In this minute, I’m not getting older.
Please just look at me,
And then please walk away.

Don’t offer your hand.
Don’t reach for my waist.
Don’t lean towards my lips.
Just…
Please…
Look at me.

Yes, this … just, please, look at me. Then go away. Because I want that feeling but I know that the after of it, the results, the effects, its complications will be too much, its echoes too noisy, its ghosts too demanding. Gorgeous, that.

And then, there’s this:

He looked at her. But he did not then walk away. It happened. Things do, and then, for reasons, they don’t. They stop. Life happens. One moves on — willingly, unwillingly. Mistakes, maybe? Mistakes that save a life, make a life? True, as well. I love this song. In particular you MUST listen to Ms. O’Hara’s delivery of the lyric “I could have not been where my children turned for answers” around 1:45-1:55, especially the catch on “answers” — that is complete genius.

And Steven Pasquale’s verse at the end:

You and I
Are just one second.
Spinning by
In one split-second.
You and I
Have just one second
And a million miles to go.

Yes, because life is so often about those miraculous million miles that can happen in one second.

Connections, my dears, are such beautiful, tenuous, miraculous things. I made a connection a few weeks ago with a man who I allowed in, a man who followed me, talked to me, pursued me, and to whom I finally said yes. That was a sort of miracle of opening and reawakening for me. He looked at me.

Now, before anything could happen, before we went that million miles, he panicked or changed his mind or was possessed by Satan — who knows — doesn’t matter. It is what it is, it was what it was, I did what I did, which was to trust, to allow myself to be seen, and so it didn’t turn out to be even a coffee date after all.

I’ll live. I am loved. Not like a musical maybe (well, a little Grey Gardens and Dear World, who am I kidding) but loved and loved plenty.

All that said, I’m not so sure that the sentiment of Bridges final ballad is really true, not sure love is always better, but I am completely sure that I always will love, because I can’t seem to say no. It’s who I am.

And as a very wise Duchess once said to me, “When we count our losses, we turn the balance sheet over to see what’s been gained, you and I.” Remember that. I don’t always remember it right away, but, given a day or two, I get there. Loved, I am so loved, by my dears and my phone callers and my Duchess.

Now back to your lives all of you, and I to mine.  I’ve packing to do so I can be off to my animal pals and a week of reading and writing.

Love and Light, dear ones. Love and Light.

 

Random Ranting

Avoiding everything. Talking to myself. Incapable of doing so without spewing it. Unable to bring myself to face Twitter at the moment. So, random thoughts and spews collecting and creating blockage. Just like I once abused laxatives to get closer to the body I wanted, so, consider this blog my Dulcolax.

I’ll update until I don’t.

Feb 19, 2016  7:30a.m. Consider the talent required to get dumped before you are actually seeing anyone and congratulate yourself on having perfected that skill.

Feb 18 2016 Feb 23 2014 COLOR 2 March 29 2014 jan 24 5

Feb 19, 2016 7:45 a.m. Saving up money so I can afford one. Not a tattoo.

Feb 19, 2016 7:50 a.m. I resent that Pinterest is sending me “Tips on Writing” pics and links. Jesus. Now social media bots are criticizing my literary talent?

Feb 19, 2016 8:00 a.m. Seriously California and New York Times? This article about California considering imposing so-called “health & safety” rules on the porn industry is total bullshit on any number of levels. 1) This is California/America shaming porn actors/industry – another example of this culture’s fear of sex and patriarchal, christist, religionist need to constantly try to regulate what people do with their sex organs and orgasms – fuck you. 2) The WRITER of this article and the descriptions of what the porn industry participants were WEARING – REALLLLLY? It’s like  a drooling, salacious, lascivious, prurient little jackhole got hold of a pen. Again – fuck you. And fuck the editor who didn’t say, “Really?”  LINK: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/19/us/actors-in-pornographic-films-fight-proposal-to-enforce-safety-regulations.html

Feb 19, 2016 8:05 a.m. I’m afraid to go out in pubic for fear of who I might run into today or what someone might say to me. My soul is beaten to a pulp right now. But, I really want to go wander through used books to revel and find comfort in the scent of old words, pages and spines rotting away like I am.

books explosion books explosion 2

Feb 19, 2016 8:25 a.m. When you go to get what you want for breakfast and it’s all gone. When you go to put your bowl into the dishwasher and it’s all full in a haphazard way sure to break a dish. When you go to put something into the trash and the bag is full. When you go to use toilet paper, paper towel, napkin, or tissue and there is only one left – again and again and again, miraculously.

Feb 19, 2016 8:45 a.m. What I want is to somehow be able to afford, find some way to survive in a hermit-like life (with wi-fi and running water and heat, of course) in a parked Airstream …

airstream trailer 2 airstream trailer

… somewhere removed (but close enough to get, you know, wi-fi and running water and heat, of course, AND BOOKSTORE/LIBRARY) where I will dwell, cave-like (with — you get it) and be the crazy coot who reads arescue pupnd writes and fosters (as in, keeps for my very own, never letting go) many, many rescue pups who need a home.

rescue pup 2

rescue pup 4

Feb 19, 2016 10:30 a.m. Once again, drowning in self-why-what-for-how-want to know the meaning of all this happening -land — I cannot decide if I would rather live inside a Ludwig Bemelmans’ illustration:

bemelmans

bemelmans6

bemelmans11

Or, a Dolce and Gabbana ad:

dolce and gabbana 2

dolce and gabbana

dolce-gabbana-adv-campaign-ss-2013-men-04

Both are equally unrealistic — better find me another pup to rescue.

Feb 19, 2016 11:00 a.m. And this.