Tonight at Eight . . .Random Charlie

It’s eight o’clock on a Friday night … I’ve changed my sheets! WEEKEND!

Okay, well, I’m not just changing sheets; I’m also listening to the original Broadway cast recording of Hamilton: An American Musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda. I am listening to it because there is no possible way I will get to see it when I am in New York City for my birthday in LESS THAN A MONTH! Hamilton is sold out until — well, a long, long time.

WHO LIVES, WHO DIES, WHO TELLS YOUR STORY?

It’s okay I won’t see Hamilton. I’ll be there in New York from the 13th to 19th. On the 14th I am seeing Frank Langella in The Father. On my actual birthday, the 15th, I am seeing American Psycho and getting a backstage tour. On the 16th I am seeing Miss Barbara Cook and may even get to meet her — so, yes, the 16th will very likely be the day of my death. Thus, I think when I get off the train on the 13th, after checking in at the hotel, I will head to TKTS and try for seat to She Loves Me because I love the music and I think Laura Benanti is grand and I have never seen Jane Krakowski live, so, yes —

I had forgotten how much I loved the entire score from SHE LOVES ME, especially Tonight at Eight, and so, yes, I should try to see it on the 13th because, though I’ve nothing booked for 17th-19th, like I said, I’ll probably die on the 16th meeting Miss Cook.

My sister, a smartass (imagine that, in my family?) suggested I record myself and what I want to say to Miss Cook since in all likelihood I will be weeping with such vigor should I manage to make it into her presence that I will be unable to speak, thus, I could just hold my phone up to her and press play. Hmph.

I AM SEEING BARBARA COOK THE DAY AFTER MY BIRTHDAY! So ridiculously happy about this. I have been listening to all of her recordings again, over and over, too.

Listen to her voicings of the words “close” at 1:13-1:15 and “wrong” at 1:21-1:22, and “want” at 3:01-3:02, every single time she sings “losing” (god, so so so much pain into two syllables, again and again, how can you not weep?), because each of those words has so much story in them — she gives you hours of subtext; you can SEE the life the singer of the song has lived IN THOSE WORDS. And, holy mother,  the “sleepless nights” at 4:16-4:18 actually has a sob in it without distorting the notes, the visible and audible defeat in “mind” from 4:36-4:42 when the note ends but she CONTINUES the emotion in her AMAZING silence until she comes back in at 4:50 with “I want you so” in such a way it seems she is fighting speaking, the way one fights the confession to someone you know no longer wants you but you simply cannot help yourself, so obsessed are you, so in need of them, and she builds and builds the breakdown (totally in control vocally, though) until the “kind” from 5:42-5:46 which morphs into the closed eyes/turning away from the horror of the final self-admission, the facing, the oh god please kill me I’m losing my mind of realizing, “You don’t love me” and WORSE, “I cannot stop loving you – I am losing my mind.” That end, that final note, that reaching vocally and physically for that love she will never have. NEVER has this song EVER been better sung and it never will be. She is without peer. She makes every single song a journey like this, an emotional tale of truth, beautifully delivered with such intelligence and honesty, nothing false. She is a genius. Brilliant.

Confession: When I sang, it was Miss Cook I strove to please. I wanted never to breathe in idiotic places or sing songs to which I could not bring my soul, always trying to deliver the goods in a way that would meet with her approval.

SUCH A BIG DEAL. Miss Cook and listening to music.

Why is it a big deal that I am listening to music? After a long life of listening to music daily, singing along, knowing the lyrics to nearly every musical written, keeping up with new ones, when I had to leave my last world in which music and theatre played such a huge role, one of the many things that slipped away from me was music. So, playing music in my room as I change sheets, write this, it has a huge-ness. Weird. Feels so weird. Listening again. Will I ever sing again?

I doubt it. But, some days, I miss it. (Confession: I sing alone in the car all the time.)

Weird — this need tonight to confess — confession.

Fitting. This has been a week of weirdness, darlings. I let my feelings be hurt a few times — a couple of times on Twitter. A couple of times by my family. A couple of times by men who think I am English or 40-ish or both.

Then, today, I got my car insurance renewal thank you letter. First of all, I don’t remember being asked if I wanted to renew. Secondly, bright side, since I’ve been with them for more than fifteen years with no tickets or claims I now qualify for no future surcharges no matter how many accidents I have. What? Okay. So, discount for good driving. Hoorah. THEN, I am informed I qualify for the “Over 55 Discount” — WHAAAAT?!?! This was my first “senior” discount and I burst into tears.

Smartass sister again: “You are so eager to die, you’re going to have to get older to do it.” Well, not if the notice of a senior discount or meeting Miss Cook gives me a coronary event. So, HA!

And, might I add (of course I might, I write too much, I’ve been told. And talk too much. So many too much-es about which I’ve been told in my life. I cry too much. I tell too much. I act too much like a girl. I have sex too much. I say no too much. I say yes too much. I want too much. I don’t take care of myself enough (somehow there’s a too much in there) and — well, anyway, TOO MUCH.) that even WITH all the good driver and old man discounts, my insurance still went up. Albeit, only a dollar – BUT STILL!

Oh darlings, I’m tired. It’s been a long week. Gluten-free, sugar-free, corn-free, diabetic friendly, chemical-free(mostly), healthy, clean cooking is so complicated. Everything requires multiple kinds of flour, experimenting with ingredients and temperature and such. I’ve been cooking a couple of hours a day. Which I love to do for my dear ones. I do. Still, my Mom is wonderful, but being with her, watching out for her balance, trying to make sure she is happy, earning enough through random copy editing and ghost blogging and dog/house sitting to pay for her lunches and groceries and such so she doesn’t have to panic about running out of her “monthly funds” — sometimes it is exhausting.

And someone told me this week my blog here would benefit from vigorous cutting. Yes, I know this. But friends, this is a diary, not a short-story. Let’s face it, I’m not a writer, never will be. This is me venting and letting loose and getting out (sort of) the things I need to say — even if it’s just sent into the ether.

So, I have changed my sheets, I have said no to the twenty-year old, I have been listening to Hamilton, I have stomach issues again, I am tired, I say yes too much, I did not say no enough (those are two VERY DIFFERENT things), and Carol is now available on-demand, so maybe I will watch that or read one of my twelve library books (I’ve done it again) or say yes to one of the people who think I’m English and 40-ish — and some said I couldn’t act!  HA! I will have you know, when I played Sweeney, my accent was SO ENGLISH they asked me to pull back by half because no one outside of London would understand me. I don’t know why I’m throwing that in there. I will add that the Baltimore papers reviewed me and said I was terrifying and brilliant and had “crystalline” diction. So, there too.

Uhm … maybe I am losing MY mind.

Love you dears.

Goodnight.

Saturday Night Sondheim

Honest to MaryMartin, sometimes, the only thing standing between me and suicide, is the fact that Stephen Sondheim songs sung by brilliant divas exist. I am feeling really really really not so great, and so, turn to Sondheim songs – maybe not the best choice, but, you see, at least I am sobbing FOR A REASON.

Continue reading

Diagnosis: Bitterary Disease

I have removed myself for the time being from the Twittersphere because I’ve been feeling unwell, not myself.

Although, “not myself” might not be such an awful thing to be. Or, not be. But first, Adele dropped her new video. Why do they say “dropped”? Whatever. I love this. LOVE THIS.

Okay, that was to prove I’m not completely involved in my own lugubrious dwelling on my illness. Yes, illness.

Oct 2015

Me – looking like my ridiculous, exhausted self – and Momma – impatiently waiting to be broken out of hospital last Friday. She is my hero. My rock. My role model. Rock & role-model; Mommy.

The illness I thought had been diagnosed, drugged, and done away with, returned. I spent much of last week attending to my dear Momma during and after her surgery and contending with all the family dynamics such events roil; it went remarkably well on every level, about which I would write were I feeling better, more certain I could tell the story without offending any family members or other characters who showed up during the course of those days. In my current condition of physical exhaustion and the emotional upheaval the fatigue brings, I think it better not to tell those stories right now. Rather, say this: Many different kinds of healing took place before,during, and after my Mom’s surgery, and it was not just her carotid artery scraped clean of debris; Mommy managed to bring us together again, as always, by example rather than lecture or harangue. She is effortless in her Love, plugging along, accepting, doing what was best and right, without rancor or accusation or judgment.

So, she was released on Friday and later that night, I got the back of the neck chills feeling that means I have a fever, tossed and turned in fugue-half-awake, can’t stop obsessing on an imaginary event, night-sweat, no sleep sort of night. By Saturday morning I was crampy and afraid my own personal plague was returning, and by Sunday, it had, with full-on, gastrointestinal terrorism. I was (sorry to be blunt and disgusting) unable to do anything but evacuate every fifteen minutes or so, ugh, oh no, losing two pounds a day, sick, sick, down for the count again.

Long/short: Called physician Monday at 8 when they opened. No one answered – including a machine – until 8:45. No one could (or would) see me in until Thursday. I suggested this was a relapse of same illness which had JUST required MANY appointments and testings for them to figure out, that the antibiotic course had not been sufficient to kill the parasite and couldn’t they just prescribe another round? I was informed that ALL OF THE PAs I HAD SEEN DURING THAT ADVENTURE FROM HELL WERE NOW ABSENT FROM THE PRACTICE. Thus, no one was willing to re-prescribe antibiotics AND I had to come in to get a new referral for my specialist appointment on Monday AND no one could do ANY OF THIS UNTIL THURSDAY!

So, friends, staying sane has been – well, that’s not even an option, rather, it has been difficult not to go TRULY nuts. Speaking of nuts . . .

Warwick Rowers 2016 Calendar from Low Fat Media on Vimeo.

Yes. The Rowers, because, well, English and French accents and the countryside and the wardrobe (and lack of) and I want an English-accented-lover and well dammit just LOOK AT THEM . . .

I am emotionally on edge because I am exhausted from being unable to actually digest food and take in nutrients. I learned from last go-round with this disease (parasite?) that horrifying as the cramping and bathrooming every fifteen minutes are (would that I were exaggerating) it is worse to follow one’s instinct and stop eating so as to avoid the bathroom trips; not eating only results in worse weight loss and weakness so intense one can barely walk up and down the stair from the Batcave. Thus, forcing myself to eat and hydrate; I spend much of the day in the bathroom (and then cleaning the bathroom, because that is who I am); and, trying to read.

There is where my patience has worn even thinner. Truth: when it comes to bitter, I am most easily annoyed by things going on in Literary World – I suffer from Bitterary Disease: a malady of the wanna-be-writer who cannot believe the things that get published, get popular, win prizes. Or, don’t.

clegg, did you ever

Click cover for Mr. Clegg’s site and book information

I have not recovered (will likely never recover) from Bill Clegg’s Did You Ever Have A Family not having won the Man Booker Prize, for not even making it from Long to Short list. I was further annoyed when it didn’t make the cut for the National Book Awards shortlist.

However, I promised myself when I started book blogging that I would always be a cheerleader for literature, not a hater. So, I picked up the winner of the Man Booker, Marlon James’ A Brief History of Seven Killings (click on title for more information). I started reading its 700 pages. Yes, 700 pages. First of all, when a novel begins with a cast-list of more than 70 characters divided into six sub-divisions, I should know myself well enough to just stop right there. Second, when a novel is written with large sections of dialect and patois, much of it impenetrable and without handy glossary, then I should, well, know myself well enough to stop right there. But, this was a Man Booker winner so, I didn’t stop until page 200 – where I had to stop, because one can’t really read a book one has just thrown across the room.

I am sure this is my shortcoming. I am sure this prize-winning novel, lauded by people with MFAs and jobs in the literary world is an achievement of heft and writerly acumen the likes of which I can only dream about. And I am equally sure that most of the judges didn’t even really read the whole damn thing. AND I AM EVEN SURER that these prize-awarding-committees ought to have NON-INDUSTRY, real readers – like, perhaps, ME – on the panels. This is the second of the Man Booker (and, not so coincidentally, National Book Award) shortlist tomes I have read and had to stop reading in frustration, abashed and flummoxed. Oh well.

Capture Kerry McHugh

Click pic to explore Kerry’s blog – you really should

Here’s the thing, happy for Marlon James success. Happy for anything that inspires more people to read (and write) and, as the very wise bloggist and Shelf Awareness writer, Kerry McHugh (click here for her blog, Entomology of a Bookworm, you really should check it out) said to me recently — and I’m paraphrasing, she said it far more elegantly — “It’s okay not to like a book. I love books other people hate, and I hate books that lots of other people like. That’s what makes literature so great, there’s room for everyone, everything, and it’s okay to disagree and discuss.”

city on fireShe is so right. My cavil is that I think some books are the lit-world equivalent of The Emporer’s New Clothes. Someone in power (or a really good publicist) decides a book is brilliant or buzzy or the next big thing, deigns it so, deems it so, and the rest of the Woolf-pack jumps on and agrees. For example, the latest example of this is that 900 page first novel that earned a $2 million advance and has been twice-reviewed in The New York Times, multiple mentions in The New Yorker, New York, and every other book-y blog, Twitter account, and publication – before it was even RELEASED to real readers.

Am I bitter? Yes. I guess I am. Literary bitter. Bitterary. Like I said, the REAL illness from which I suffer.

And I own that. I am bitter because I’ve not come up with the pitch or cover letter or connection (I don’t actually DO connections, not my thing – I would NEVER ask someone to read my book, to give my book to an agent, to anything – not an asker, never have been, never will be – some of us are just here to answer) to sell myself. I’m not that person. And, in some ways, I am content with the thousand or so people who check in here each day — although, truth, lots of those hits are searching for dick-pics, thus the Warwick Rowers, I know my audience and I like a naked ass and English accent as much as (well, probably way more than) anybody else — and I’m not so bitter that I haven’t reserved that buzzy book at library (I’m next in line, by the way, so, it isn’t all that buzzy here in Frederick). I am just hoping that I can make it past page 200 without throwing it across the room and screaming, “WHAT THE HELL DID THOSE PEOPLE READ WHO LOVED THIS THING?!?!?!”

Okay, going, time for some pro and antibiotics and tons of water and coffee and hoping my guts calm a bit today.

P.S. Not sure who reads this, not an issue, but yesterday in my non-Twitter-ness time, I wrote letters to Cody, Rachel, and TwitLit folks, Hope and Nandini – mailing this morning, watch your mailboxes!

Reading: 3 Months, 25 books – I suck as a book-blogger

Since July, when last I blogged about my reading, I’ve finished 25 books, and gotten my first library card in 30 years, the getting of which has changed my reading habits – again. With library access, I am more likely to try something new, take a chance on a recommendation about which I’ve doubts, choose to try something not 100% my usual-thing. When I am paying for books, I need be cognizant that my declining years are fast approaching and even a cardboard box has upkeep costs. So, I’m trying to buy only those things I know I am going to want to keep for long, slow reading, or re-reading, or to write in, or, too, classics I have long meant to acquire, and, of course, those written by Twitter-pals (or, you know, authors I stalk) who I know could use the sales.

So, I will try not to bore you with needlessly long recaps of all 25 books I’ve finished (you could follow me on GoodReads – click here – if you really want to know; in fact, DO, because I only have 21 friends there) but, I do want to talk about some at least a bit.

Raybourn, Deanna

Click on cover for details about the book.

One of my goals this year was to read across genre, outside my comfort zone. I spend so much time advocating for all sorts of equality, it struck me as hypocritical that I was pooh-poohing whole categories of writing. So, now, I try to “get around” as they used to say in high school – and play with all the groups.

I continued my exploration of romance writing (because, god knows, real-life romance is completely out of the question), tasting two supernatural-sort-of-other-world-beasty-creature novels; Wicked as They Come by Delilah S. Dawson and Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison. They were kicky enough and fun, but, I think, much to my surprise, I’m more of a regency guy. I’m number 2 in library-line for Deanna Raybourn‘s (follow her here on Twitter, she’s a delight) newest, A Curious Beginning, and am eager to get to that.

dangerous fiction

Click on cover for more information.

Speaking of Twitter-folk-I-follow; new pal, Barbara Rogan (follow her here on Twitter, she’s pretty delightful too) wrote a literary-world mystery which I enjoyed immensely and am hoping is the first in a series: A Dangerous Fiction: A Mystery. I loved its insider knowledge of the publishing world and its clever plotting and vivid characters.

I also allowed myself two more in the Agatha Raisin series; #13: Agatha Raisin and the Case of the Curious Curate; and #14: Agatha Raisin and the Haunted House. If you’ve not yet become addicted to M.C.Beaton’s delightful Agatha, quick, drop everything and get started.

I like my series – as you can tell – they are comfort books — like grilled cheese sandwich and tomato-basil soup between covers — full of friends and characters to whom I can return, authors who will deliver what I expect with well-wrought prose and fast-paced, interesting plotting. So, I read a John Sandford and a Harlan Coben and a Rhys Bowen (from Her Royal Spyness series) and an Alan Bradley (from his Flavia de Luce series) too.

Nature of the Beast

Click cover for more information about book.

And, speaking of series, if I had to choose a favorite (and I can’t, because books and authors are like my children, my dear ones, I love them all in different ways for different reasons) I might choose The Inspector Gamache world gifted to us from the brilliant Louise Penny.  The latest installment is The Nature of the Beast, the eleventh book featuring Inspector Gamache and I am crazy for him and all the others who live in Three Pines. Especially Ruth. I feel as if I, too, live there, or, rather, am privileged to visit each time Ms. Penny blesses us with another episode. You must start from the first because you really do develop relationships with these characters and feel as if you live among them; you cry with them, you grow with them, you ache for them, you love them. This is truly a beautiful and wondrous reality Ms. Penny has crafted, full of imperfect, fantastic, annoying, delightful, cantankerous, giving, sad, glorious, mysterious, needy, funny, human folks – like you, like me, like family.

I also read my first Lawrence Block, about whom many have raved. I liked it. I will be reading another. Has he made regular status yet? Not sure.

And another series first, Tagged For Death: A Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mystery #1 by Sherry Harris. I envy people with the ability to invent these worlds and work the outlines required for these cozies but I guess garage sales just aren’t my things. I’m going to stick to the ones about bookstores – which is no reflection on the author, rather, I don’t like candy with nuts either – doesn’t mean nuts aren’t tasty to lots of people.

Grasshopper Jungle

Click on cover for more info about book.

I also read my second, third, and fourth Andrew Smith novels. I had read Grasshopper Jungle a while ago and quite enjoyed it. Then, I met a dear friend of Duchess Goldblatt, Anne, who works on Mr. Smith’s books. She spoke so highly of him and I adored her so much, I determined to read more of his work. I started with Winger and moved immediately into its sequel, Stand-Off.  Both take place in boarding schools – with which I have been obsessed ever since my mother refused in my youth (fourth grade) to allow the nuns and priest of St. Peter’s to send me away to Jesuit school (can you imagine what I’d be now, had I gone? Thank you, Mom.) – and fall into the YA Genre. I am not YA, but I enjoy YA, and I think Mr. Smith a very gifted fellow. And what a great name. The books move incredibly quickly, loads of plot and interest, and I find the dialogue to be true to the way my nieces and nephews near that age speak. I followed these up with the first in a series of his, The Marbury Lens. So, Mr. Smith wins the prize in this installment for most books by one author. If you’d ask me to recommend one, I’d say my favorite of them was Grasshopper Jungle.

I read a number of buzzy novels about which I’d heard from Twitter-folk. Stephanie Clifford’s Everybody Rise, which I liked but from which I expected more being as it had a Sondheim lyric for a title. Amy Stewart’s Girl Waits With Gun was fun-ish, and clearly a set-up for a series, but, again, I expected more. H.S. Cross’s Wilberforce was one I almost gave up on, but didn’t because it was about boarding school – and you know, I have that thing — but I found it about a third too long and a quarter too obtuse and what I wanted was far less. I also could have used less of the forced Southern-y, eccentric charm heaped onto Annie Barrows The Truth According to Us – which had a great title, anyway. And, Jules Moulin’s Ally Hughes Has Sex Sometimes was fast and sort-of sexy and completely rom-com-y and ready for filming and completely unbelievable but I didn’t care, happy ending, hot guy loves me sort of okay, never gonna happen but what the hell this is what I want to believe in sometimes alone in my big old bed in my fifties – if I was Goldilocks, this one was just right.

I’ve had some huge disappointments in the past few months (I’m not JUST talking about my life) and learned what DNF means – Did Not Finish. Three very huge, touted books for which I had waited and wanted and pre-ordered and dove into just flabbergasted me. I could not finish Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant, Larry Kramer’s The American People, and Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life. NOW PLEASE UNDERSTAND – I am not denigrating the authors, I am sure the failure is mine – but Giant I found just too slow and repetitive to make it past page fifty; American People was in need of massive cutting – or so I thought – I had real difficulty following who was who and what was what when and why any of it was going on; and clearly I am an ignoramus for not liking A Little Life – it keeps winning award after award and many a genius loves it, but, for me, it was so relentlessly dark, hopeless, brutal, as to be unkind – I felt violated, I felt some of it was uncalled for, the unceasing ugliness of it was too much for me – no matter how lovely the prose. Life is hard enough without reading 700 pages of agony and sorrow and abuse. I just couldn’t.

I did and could do the first in the Elena Ferrante Neapolitan novel series, My Brilliant Friend. Again, it must be me, but despite Mr. Wood in The New Yorker, and loads of TwitLit people I respect and admire, and NPR, and on and on, LOVING this book, this series, I could just barely stay awake and stick with it. I finished it, but won’t be reading books two through four.

For pure, solid, reliable, take-me-away fun, I picked up a P.G.Wodehouse, The Inimitable Jeeves. Loved. Laughed. Smiled. Was taken away – as I wanted to be.

being mortal

Click on cover for more information.

I did some non-fiction too. A memoir-ish quick read, The Whipping Boy, by Allen Kurzweil, also much about boarding school and the lifelong effect of having been bullied there. (Having typed that, I’m a BIT concerned about just how many of these 25 books had to do with boarding schools. Hmmm.) A hilarious collection of essays by Isaac Oliver called Intimacy Idiot – he is a gay man who has had many of the same experiences as have I and I wish I had written this. Truly funny. Not so funny, but absolutely brilliant, Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End. No doubt part of my appreciation of this book is that I’m in my fifties, my Mom is in her eighties and we’ve been to the emergency room once after a fall, and for surgery this past week to clear an artery, and regularly visiting offices of all kinds of doctors, and, too, had recently to move her from one assisted living place to another where she is far less autonomous and far less happy and I am guilt ridden and terrified and cannot understand how we, as a nation, do not have better systems in place to care for those near death. Read this book. Now.

As fate would have it, I also read Being Mortal because I was pretty sure I was dying. I’d lost 15 pounds in three weeks, no one seemed to be able to tell me what was wrong, all my body could manage was to expel, never contain, and, during that illness of my own, I found out my Mom needed a surgery that had a high probability of causing a stroke – although the probability of stroke without the surgery was 99% – so, yes. Well, Mom survived and should (fingers crossed) be back in her own room tomorrow night and I was cured – until yesterday, when apparently the parasite that had taken up residence in my intestine and was meant to be evicted by a combination of anti-and-probiotics, returned. Ha, along with my boarding school theme, I guess my Guts are home to a bunch of nasty parasite-plebes causing me GREAT DISTRESS.

So, I will try to write about books more often and before I finish another twenty-five. But these GutMonsters are trying to kill me, and they wear me out pretty badly, pretty quickly. I was out today for about an hour and when I got home, bam, down for the count. Got back up, made dinner, did the dishes, finished this. So, not going to surrender but, jeesh, whatever this is – it needs to go away.

Love and Light kids. Happy reading.

Sunday … endings, beginnnings, waitings, continuings

10:00 a.m.

My final day at this house/pet-sitting adventure. I’ve been up since 4:30. Tess and Gwennie are early risers. I Sunday morning pre-gamed last evening at Dunkin Donuts, and the New York Times – the real one – is here delivered, so the early rise and ensuing hours were akin to Christmas morning.

I’ve also changed the sheets, cleaned and tidied, emptied the trash, loaded my car; there is nothing now but to nap and read and wait for 11pm, when the owners of this warm and welcoming home return from the rodeo (I think).

Last night, while I was crawling into the luxe-comfort of the beautifully wrought, iron-framed bed in which I sleep when here, I was uncharacteristically – and quite briefly – lonely. The thing is, I have never long (or short) term, consistently shared my bed with a lover. My lovers have been – by and large – people for whom I was not the primary concern, first choice, actual spouse, someone about whom they wanted others to know. I was a secret, a diversion, a decision never really made. So, I am quite accustomed to and fond of sleeping alone. I am an introvert and a solitary man, near hermit-like in my habits, usually content to have my secrets, silence and my books, a few very dear friends, and – of late – my Twitter-actions.

But, last night, quite briefly; Lonely. A loneliness brought on by my undressing. Not like that. In the many quick-pick-up-and-get-the-hell-out moves I have made in the last decade, along with all the skins and people I have shed, I’ve let go of many belongings, including clothes, paring my wardrobe to a small collection of a few pair of jeans, black T-shirts, gym clothes, and lounge-wear, that last consisting of souvenir shirts from the few shows I’ve seen so important to me I could not let the Ts go. My favorite, and the one I was taking off last night to get into bed, is from the Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia’s genius production of the legendarily-failed, cult musical, Sideshow.

I love Sideshow. The original was an obsession. My aunt, Sissie, was still alive when it opened and I visited her at Record Street – the same assisted living home where my Mom has now ended up – when Alice Ripley and Emily Skinner were on the Rosie O’Donnell Show, performing numbers from the show, and, too, I spent Thanksgiving morning there with Sissie, in her room, and watched them perform in the Macy’s Parade. Too, I tried to see the closing weeks of the show but was thwarted by my involvement as director/producer of a production of Annie, and by someone who did a lot of thwarting of things that meant the world to me. Too, I later produced and directed a version of Sideshow, which marked a very dark period with a group of very ungrateful kids for whom I’d sacrificed a great deal over the years and who treated me like shit during that show, and it was – in retrospect – when I ought to have stopped teaching; alas, I went on another ten years. And then, most recently, I attended the revival pre-Broadway tryout at the Kennedy Center with dear ones, and sort of erased – or, at least, eased the pain of – some of those memories and made new ones.

So, yes. Sideshow means a lot for me. Echoes. Reverberations. And I’ve now lost enough weight that the extra-large T-shirt, in addition to stretching, un-ravelling at seams, and wearing thin and smooth in that way material can come to hug and caress one as it ages, is also rather long on me, almost like a nightshirt. I’m standing by the bed, stripped down to just the shirt, and from nowhere I hear the sentence in my head:

“Wouldn’t it be nice for once in my life to have someone to sleep beside who understood what Sideshow meant and means to me? Someone who would stay?”

And I cried a little. Because that isn’t going to be my life, because that has never been my life, and because I will never know what that is like. And, maybe, I missed something.

And my aunt, Sissie, was the same. She slept alone for all of her nine decades. She died at Record Street. Alone. I was not even called the night it was happening. I still feel guilty. After Sideshow, she became less and less lucid, often thought I was my father, and we didn’t talk about musicals anymore. Now, my Mother lives there. Now, in four days, my Mother is having a risky operation. Now, I have these books and these memories and these T-shirts that hold me, and a life not unlike Sissie’s was, and I am near 75% like she was and 25% like my Mom and 100% elated I have had both of them to love me and shape me and see me and embrace me, warm and aged and worn, both of whom loved me, love me, as I am.

So, dear ones, while I am often here lugubrious in my contemplations, I have a contentment that few people have. I love getting into bed, with my books, with my peace and tranquility, with my knowing – now – that I have taken the bulk and hulk of all that was my life and chiseled and whittled and sculpted it down into something small, and private, and beautiful, and true, and me.

Yes, I sleep alone, have always slept alone, but it was that sleeping alone, that choice, that made me these souvenirs, like the Sideshow shirt, well aged, and worn, and smoothed, and shaped, and now wrapped around me like an embrace – the warm embrace of the life I have lived, the peace I have earned.

Love and Light, dear ones – and wishes for souvenir shirt embraces of your own.

A Wastrel’s Wednesday: Saunas, Survivors, Empires, and Horror Stories

Gentle Readers; I am trying to blog daily. After all, I manage to gym almost every day, I maintain a healthy diet, I have sort-of programmed myself out of reflexive snark and judgment, surely I can return to daily writing? Alas, since gymming, dieting, reading, and non-reflexive, carefully considered snarking do not generate income enough that I might acquire the swarthy, toned, sneering twenty-something young man whose job it would be to keep me in line – or, writing lines – I shall have to discipline myself. So, here I am, going. And hoping, with daily entries (let’s be honest, I’ll likely stop tomorrow) I might keep things under 1000 words. (HA!)

Parker, Dorothy

Mrs. Parker

When it comes to culture, well, with apologies to Mrs. Parker; You can lead a horticulture, but you can’t make her think. I spend a lot of my time in ways a lot of you might consider wasting it. (In fact, I considered the syntax of the preceding sentence for ten minutes; the composition, the rhythm of the repeated “a lot of” and the echo of “way” in “wasting”.) My ambition, it turns out, has always been to achieve wastrel status, a goal of those with (credit to Mrs. Parker again) “congenital lowness of brow.”

Goal: met.

And with further apologies to Mrs. Parker, I say;

Observation

If I didn’t care for fun and such / I’d probably amount to much./ But I shall stay the way I am,/ Because I do not give a damn. (First printed in New York World, 16 August 1925)

When it comes to damns, I give quite a few, but not many for things about which those who dismiss me as wastrel think I ought. I weary of closets, the toeing of lines, subterfuge of any variety, and cultural conformity. So, while I have long cultivated the Continue reading

Horror Stories … existential variety …

gif jessica langeI’m not quite as caught in the undertow as I was  in yesterday’s post “Homes, Housepets, Husbands, and Heartaches Not My Own; A How Not To Manual” [click it] but, warning, still not as perky as I might be. Trying. Really, I am.

First world existential issues: my internet connection here where I am house/pet sitting is iffy and odd and disconnects me frequently. Being frequently disconnected feels oddly, terrifyingly symbolic. I’ve been disconnecting myself – as it were – anyway, and other than yesterday’s blog, pretty much hiding out in my own weirdness. Too, one of the doggies here has wakened today – and did I mention they make me get up at 4:30-5:00 a.m. here? – with stomach issues. Gwennie didn’t eat her breakfast, has chewed a lot of grass, shat on the rug, and has stomach-growling going on the volume of which challenges mine from a few weeks ago. I sympathize, Gwennie. She is on my lap, passing gas and gastro-gurgling as I type.

Life is hard right now. There is a lot of Continue reading

Zeitbites: The Lost Weekend (this is what happens)

Ray Milland in The Lost Weekend

Ray Milland in The Lost Weekend

It’s the Monday morning after my most recent Lost Weekend. Not Ray Milland-y, alcoholic haze lost, but, rather, an existential sort of wandering (and, thus, wondering) around: gym, coffee shops, bookstores, retail outlets, parks, here and there in order to afford some privacy and space to the people with whom I live, who put up with me. And, since most of my friends are fictional, virtual, long-distance, or busy, most of my pursuits are solitary. In the process, I become many different people: these are their stories.

Djokovic 1

Novak Djokovic – not bad for a man his age.

 

WIMBELDON & NOVAK DJOKOVIC’S ASS Serena won Wimbeldon again. I love Serena. I love watching her play. I love that she won. But holy crap, have we not evolved beyond the coded (and blatant) misogyny, sexism, and ageism that suffused the coverage of her win? The New York Times in particular should be ashamed. But, I’m a bright side kind of guy – thus, in an effort to spread the gender-bias-objectification-judge-y shit around, here’s some Novak Dojokovic objectification. He won Wimbeldon too. I was surprised the ass on a man Novak Djokovic’s age was so firm and juicy. Good thing too, because his shorts were tight. No doubt he wanted to show off his rumored-to-be very large package. He’s still hot for someone his age, and, wow, he can still play. Sadly, he hasn’t the Nordic-blonde-Aryan beauty of Lleyton Hewitt, or who knows how much money he’d be making from endorsement deals. (What? He’s worth in excess of 90 million already? That’s my boy! And Djoko – is that dick pic floating around the web really yours? If so, nice one.)

UNEMPLOYED & BROKE & NORMA DESMOND I AM NOT . . .

It’s July and I’m home … this is not good. Not good because the prevailing cultural norm suggests one ought to vacation during the summer months. Well, not only am I not vacating, none of my usual clients are vacating either. So, I am stuck in the batcave during the sunny (although, not so much with the sun this year) summer months generating zero income. But . . . (Another aside: I would be happy to discuss house sitting or pet sitting for you – all you people out there, my people, out there, in the dark.) It’s a life theme, that; Generating Zero Income. So, going with it, here I am, blogging for free. Why the hell not? I hereby promise to Zeitbite you more, darlings, meaning; I shall spread my particular brand – Sure, I have a brand, why the fuck not? – of Love and Light more often. Which means regular doses of dash & aside & idiosyncratically punctuated blathering; sometimes happy & funny & snarky, other times insightful & deep & contemplative, and other times dark & sad & suicidal. (See how I use ampersands/& when grouping adjectives but write out “and” when moving to a new-ish topic? That’s me – idiosyncratic. AND WITHOUT AN EDITOR BECAUSE I WOULD SURELY DRIVE ONE – or, a few – TO DRINK.)

JUSTIN BIEBER’S ASS (is this ass thing a theme?)

Bieber's ass - Summer 2015

Bieber’s ass – Summer 2015

Other things happened this weekend. Justin Bieber deleted his ass pic. He has feels. Listen:

“I deleted the photo of my butt on Instagram not because I thought it was bad but someone close to me’s daughter follows me and she was embarrassed that she saw my butt and I totally wasn’t thinking in that aspect. I felt awful that she felt bad. To anyone I may have offended I’m so sorry. It was completely pure hearted as a joke but didn’t take in account there are littles following me!”

Oh Justin, I know what it’s like to have Littles following you. In fact, just last night JustinBiebersLyrics followed me on Twitter. I blocked it, like all the other bots. Anyway, your Bieber-ass is pretty enough – but you’re no Djokovic. (Notice how easy it is to type the words “Justin Bieber” and “ass” close together? Poor Little Biebs – although – Biebs – is that dick pic floating around the web really yours? If so, nice one.

SPEAKING OF ASSES 3 (or, make that 15 now I think). . . . . .  insert here the name of any of the GOP Presidential candidates. I refuse to type them.

SPEAKING OF ASSES literary . . . . . . I am a book blogger – sort of – so I ought probably to write about the big release tomorrow but my feelings about it are all tied up in having spent a lot of time in my life with people in their eighties – especially those in assisted care, and having a lot of manuscripts and writing of my own packed and boxed away, and how I might be persuaded – should I live into my eighties (and please I do NOT want to) and have need of a trusted someone to manage my affairs, how I might be persuaded by that someone – no matter how good their intentions might be – to reveal/publish/share things I NOW, sound of mind and body (well, sort of, shut up) would choose NOT to share. The whole thing makes me feel dirty and I’m not going to read it. (Confession – I didn’t care much for TKAM anyway.)

SPEAKING OF ASSES . . . mine . . .

July 2015

July 2015

Yesterday at the gym a fellow who is in no way someone with any interest in any sort of shenanigans with me said, “You are really looking good.” That was nice. I have worked hard to lose nearly thirty pounds in a healthy way – a pound or two a week for months, exercise daily, good food. It was nice for someone with whom I have no relationship other than sharing a gym to tell me my consistent efforts were noticeable even to strangers. Thank you, Universe, for that Love & Light. (No ass pics nor dick pics of me floating around anywhere – that crazy I am not.) The pic was one I posted on Twitter. You should follow me there. I’m kind of funny (sometimes) and sad (other times) and I’ve been singing little snippets of songs for my darling, Her Grace, the Duchess Goldblatt (you should follow her, too, because she is the Queen of All Things.) In the past 24 hours I’ve talked about the gym, teens eating all my frozen diet treats, Chet Baker and how I love singing “My Funny Valentine”, my late night trolling of the Algonquin Hotel website, the thickness of mattresses on fold-out-couch-beds, Djokovic’s ass, Troubles by J.G.Farrell, new shoes I want, being judge-y about other people’s depressions, and more. I’m a renaissance man, a flaneur of the interwebs. FOLLOW+ME+DAMMIT+ (and re-tweet me and publish me and stuff – you don’t want to be an ASS entry, do you? Wait . . .  ass entry . . .  never mind. Love and Light, dear ones.

A cockeyed optimism . . . Mary and Kelli and Happy Days . . .

(I wrote and posted a version of this last night, but realized I’d more to say. So, updated and further explored my burst of cockeyed optimism. Love and Light, dears. Love and Light. 3/5/15 11a.m.)

True confessions: it’s coming up on the date of my aunt’s death. I am working diligently to remember all the joy she brought to me, but, I’m not terribly good at this. Joy was not a skill much valued nor encouraged in my upbringing, which was a journey peopled by those who were well-intentioned but barely able to cope, prone to disappearing for months on end into bedrooms, silences and sorrows, screams, and terrifying mood swings marked by violence, after which they would tearfully apologize, make excuses for themselves which often included an element of blaming me, and, too, there would be long nights in my bed during which Continue reading

…here we are…flashes

Thursday, January 22, 2015 — turned my phone back on last night, first time since Sunday, I hadn’t missed any messages or texts. Got back on Twitter today, hadn’t missed any messages. Seems my disappearing is going to be even easier than I’d thought, LOL. Cue the rolling in of the green mist. Here were some notes I took during my absence — and a few added today.

Sunday, January 18, 2015 — I’ve turned off my phone. I’m rationing my on-line time. I’m not Tweeting or, even, opening Twitter. I need to re-program my brain so that I can, once again, focus hours-long on reading and writing. I’ve allowed myself to be short-circuited. Or, rather, as another step in my long and steady parade of self-destruction, I have short-circuited myself. So, in much the way I stopped with the damaging-self-negating relationships, stopped with the smoking, stopped with the drinking; I am stopping (for a while) with the techno-distractions.

However, I still get these URGES (compulsions) to drop a headline, elevator-pitch about things going on in my life. So, in lieu of Continue reading