Reading and Writhing; Things Fall Apart

In this post I discuss The Pisces by Melissa Broder, and Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton. But mostly, I talk about myself and my place (or lack thereof) in the world today.

If you want JUST the book talk, skip down to the red headlines and book-jacket photos below. It won’t hurt my feelings. I get it. I’m not always in the mood for 800 words of someone’s personal journey either.

Trigger Warning: This reading recap is more personal than most of my book musings. I find it increasingly difficult to suspend my disbelief when daily life is more implausible and unthinkable than any fiction could be, and as the balance of vileness versus decency tilts ever more toward the despicable, it’s difficult for me to see or write anything through any lens other than that of my horror at the wretched, stinking, sleazy, vulgar bigotry and hatred being promulgated by 45 and his jackbooted supporters, they who are the creations of the last fifty or so years of republican strategy to assure that hetero-cis-white-men maintain power and keep the rest of us in subjugation.

So, there. That. I don’t apologize for my rage. I apologize for having quieted my rage through the decades when I saw this coming, experienced it in micro-ways day after day, but allowed myself to be cowed into silence and complacency by those with more power and privilege scolding me for my over-reactions and paranoia.

To all those who insisted things weren’t that bad, I told you so. I wish saying that made me feel better, but, somehow, the threat of my human rights being further abrogated and children being torn from their parents and sold from concentration camps to adoption racketeers undoes any satisfaction having been right all along gives me.

Satisfaction on any front is difficult to come by lately. Things. Fall. Apart. The center does not hold. The best lack conviction and the worst are full of passion without mercy.

So, why am I reading? Why am I not constantly marching? Protesting? Resisting? Good question, and one with which I have been struggling since November 2016 when the russians installed this criminal family.

If you area regular reader of this blog you know events of November 2016 caused me to spiral into a depression so extreme that after many years resisting medication, I began taking bupropion, the result of which was relief from the dysthymic disorder I had been suffering for decades. I’d had no idea just how depressed I was, it having been a slow, creeping invasion of sorrow consuming more and more of who I was, my thoughts, my energy, but in such small increments I didn’t know the fullness of it. I thought I was a naturally melancholy person. I was not. It was an illness and it was kicked over the edge into manic depression with suicidal ideation by the horrors of November 2016.

So, ironically, in what is easily the ugliest era politically and for humanity in my lifetime, I am more balanced and able to reason and cope than ever I have been. I no longer feel responsible for the entire world because I have come to understand the world does not revolve around me. I rarely ever become angry with anyone for their actions or words because I only spend time and love with people who I trust are coming from a place of love and light, whatever they do, even if it seems to me at first glance to be hurtful. And, equally important, they offer me the same grace. It is as powerful a medicine as the bupropion, after far too long spending time with people who were always finding me coming up short, a disappointment to them, not fulfilling the role they’d written for me, this blessing of knowing I have a tight-knit circle of loved ones amongst whom there is no need for forgiveness because we don’t judge in the first place. We believe in and see the light in one another.

It is incredibly liberating to let go of feeling as if everything you do, think, or say might be misconstrued, might be used against you as evidence you are less than, flawed, wrong.

It has also changed my behavior. I no longer do things I don’t want to do. I don’t do things because I fear someone will become angry with me if I don’t go to their party, or begrudge me my introvert-preference to stay in with a good book.

A good book. There’s the key. Because this new me doesn’t feel obligated to finish every book I start. This new me doesn’t think he has to agree with the literati’s opinion of a book. This new me reads what I want, as I want, and write about it only if it in some way pleases me, or, in some cases, brings to my attention something I feel like sharing. Which is the case with this post, which, since last I talked about a book, I have finished reading two and cast aside two more after 35 and 50 pages. Here are the ones I finished.

The Pisces, Melissa Broder, Hardcover, 270pp, May 2018, Hogarth Press

Okay, up front I say, if you are going to kill a dog in a novel I want a trigger warning on the cover. And if the death is going to be result of neglect and/or abuse, I am not going to read the book.

No one warned me about The Pisces, so, I’m doing a public service and warning you.

I suppose it only fair to tell you I spend a great deal of my time dog-sitting, so, reading about someone who is dog-sitting and finds it okay to not walk the dog when it needs to be walked, lock it in a pantry and tranquilize it so she can get it on with a merman — look, you don’t do that. You don’t bring strangers into someone’s home AND YOU DON’T TREAT A DOG BADLY.

And what is it with everyone falling in love with fish lately?

Anyway, that said, there were some really lovely lines in this novel and it was sometimes funny and here and there touching, insightful about loneliness and lust and longing and self-delusions, so, had it not featured dog-abuse, I think I would have very much liked it. But, as a wise woman in publishing once said to me; “Life is too short and ugly enough. I implore you, if a book has an ugliness that makes you miserable, stop reading it.”

So, despite lines like:

I heard myself talking to the dog, and it reminded me that I existed. Existence always looked like something other than I thought it would.

And this, when the main character is trying to get drugs for the UTI she’s gotten from merman-sex, she tells the doctor that she and her husband have been having a lot more sex lately in order to conceive a child. Then this, from the doctor:

‘Any chance that he could have been exposed to any sexually transmitted diseases?’

Was she implying that my fictitious husband was unfaithful? How dare she!

‘Absolutely not.’

I did laugh out loud there, but it was only page 97, before I began suspecting the dog was going to meet a bad end. And, like I said, despite lines like that and some exquisite passages about aching loneliness — and some very uncomfortable passages about longing for someone because they don’t want you — there was not one truly likeable character in the entire book; they were all, to one degree or another, horrible, mean, selfish, unkind people. So, wish I hadn’t read this book.

If you’re okay with dogs dying from neglect, go for it. Also, never get anywhere near me.

Social Creature, Tara Isabella Burton, Hardcover, 273pp, June 2018, Doubleday

Dear literati-lords, please, I beg you, stop comparing novels to Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley. And for good (bad) measure, these blurbs threw in Edith Wharton, Bret Easton Ellis, and Donna Tartt. Now there is a goulash certain to have at least one ingredient to turn everyone off.

Again — and these things seem to come in bunches — there is not one pleasant character in the entire novel. They range from being emotionally dishonest to committing murder.

It’s very fast. I read it in a day. But, honestly, when we already have an illegitimate president who is utterly lacking in any redeeming qualities, who surrounds himself with equally contemptible sleazeballs, I seriously don’t need that kind of repellent goings-on in the things I’m reading to escape the real world.

I suppose I ought be grateful no dogs were murdered. Better to kill off haughty, unkind, wealthy socialites and their milquetoast, obsessed devotees.

So, there it is. I’ve seven more library books stacked by my bed, waiting for me to dive in. All I can say is, nice it up people. Life is full-to-overflowing with assholes as it is, let’s not revolve novels around them.

And on that note, here I am, going.



ZeitBites: Eggs and Andys and Hollys and Dickory Docks

Monday Morning, December 7, 2015

sunset blvd gifI woke up this morning wishing one of you out there in the dark was here in the dark so I could just spit this all out really quickly and be done with it rather than having to blog it — and since MOST of my followers (for some reason) and hits come from European countries, I like to delude myself that my lack of having someone with whom to share my life (and my rantings and ravings) is to do with me having been born in the wrong country (or, in the wrong era, but that’s another blog — which I’m pretty sure I’ve already written somewhere but I’m old and wake up all night and I can’t remember these things, dammit) and so, it is a comfort, thinking of all of you over there who’d love me as I am, honor me and all that and Listen To Me. But until that time I get a passport renewed and money enough to sail (I’d sail, you know, rather than fly. Just seems more 1930s and, like I said, I was born in the wrong era — I did say that, didn’t I?) I’ll just have to blog all these fleeting, random thoughts I have.

(I know, you’re saying, “Have to? Maybe just shut-up, Charlie? Ever thought of that?” Yes. I have. But, I can’t really. You readers — European and non — and even those just clicking in because I have old tags saying DEREK HOUGH NAKED — are the closest I have to lovers, real companion type lovers, so, pretend you like this or remain silent — or, if you want to be truly like my past lovers, abandon me saying you never much enjoyed me in the first place and were just killing time until the kind of blog you wanted really came along.)

— but since you’re not here, here goes. Why did I get up at 5:55 a.m.?

  1. I have been tossing and semi-weird-waking since I lights-outed at 1:00 a.m.-ish with the half-fever worry that I needed to get the eggs out of the refrigerator and bring them to room temperature for today’s continuation of Christmas cookie baking. So—-
  2. — Christmas makes me think of Andy Williams because my Momma loved Andy Williams and it was really Christmas when she got out the Andy Christmas albums. And-My Momma worked in an egg factory which brings me back to the eggs at room temperature worry, plus —
  3. —I have been doing this odd thing where I wake at 2:22, 3:33, 4:44, 5:55 – and despite my lack of faith or belief in anything, this frequent waking I do and the feverish-fugue into which it puts me, triggers childhood fears and despite knowing it is completely impossible, I worry that if I go back to sleep, the next time I wake I will see 6:66 on the clock and the Baby Jesus will never be born because I have sinned. Thus —
  4. — I get out of bed to shake it off (and get the eggs out) and I weigh myself and I look awful and I think, “This is all your fault, Andy Williams, because you are Christmas and all that cookie baking and tasting yesterday is to blame for this weight this morning and FUCK YOU, ANDY!” Which —
  5. dallesandro and woodlawn

    Joe Dallesandro & Holly Woodlawn

    — Reminds me that Andy Warhol Superstar, Holly Woodlawn [click here], died yesterday. And I think, “Holly” – deck the halls with boughs of and all that. Weird. I miss Andy and his Superstars and the thrill of discovering them and all those connections and when I was away at theatre camp and introduced to Lou Reed’s music and — shit, Holly inspired Walk On the Wild Side and Joe Dallesandro — who I follow on Twitter — announced her death there yesterday and posted all those pics of his younger self. I miss my younger self. Joe was my first trade-crush, I think. He was so beautiful naked. dallesandro joe dallesandro warhol Why am I alone? Cause of porny crushes on beautiful naked guys for whom I will never be their type? Like —

  6. colby christmas

    Colby Keller coming down the chimney, down

    — Colby Keller. Oh, he did all those Christmas shots last year. Shit, I need to wake up and get busy on these cookies. Christmas. Andy. Williams. Warhol. Holly. Dallesandro. Colby. Get the eggs out. Jesus I look awful naked — JESUS? Did I actually worry this morning in some haze of old-man-back-pain-too-many-hours-on-my-feet-Christmas-cookie baking-frenzy-brainfade that Baby Jesus wouldn’t be born because my clock might say 6:66 if I committed the sin of going back to sleep. And, see —

  7. —  that whole sin thing, which in my egg-factory, Andy Williams Christmas, hallucinatory youth
    dallesandro rolling-stones-sti_3287029k

    Dallesandro’s dick on Rolling Stones album cover

    thing was conflated with wanting to hickory dickory with Joe Dallesandro who I discovered because the theatre camp bad influences (perfect influences) introduced me to Lou Reed and we talked out loud about wanting to fuck Mick Jagger and it was only years later I learned that the dick on the front of Sticky Fingers belonged to Joe Dallesandro and — art and porn — like Colby Keller Does America [CLICK HERE] is doing now and —

  8. — here I am, blogging.


But, those lyrics:

It’s the holiday season
With the whoop-de-do and dickory dock
And don’t forget to hang up your sock
‘Cause just exactly at 12 o’clock
He’ll be coming down the chimney
Coming down the chimney
Coming down the chimney, down!

Tell me this: What the hell does dickory dock mean?! I mean, you are aware of what dick-docking is, correct? Were the Christmas tunes of Andy Williams that my mom played — over and over and over — sending me subliminal messages?

(According to the ever-reliable Yahoo Answers, “hickory, dickory, dock” means eight, nine, ten. From a British nursery rhyme. SEE, EUROPE AGAIN. Come on, Neville, FIND ME! Anyway, who knew? [CLICK HERE FOR YAHOO ANSWERS DICKORY DOCK INFO- NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH DICK-DOCKING INFO- LINKS FOR WHICH I  TRUST YOU CAN FIND ON YOUR OWN SHOULD YOU BE INTERESTED.])

And while I’m Zeit-bite blabbing: Is it just me, or have large eggs gotten smaller?

cookie dayLike I said, I spent yesterday making Christmas cookies. This effort required a $200 trip to the grocery store Saturday night, an $80 trip Sunday morning, and another $50 trip Sunday afternoon. So far. Now, after the baking of three kinds and the concoction and refrigeration of dough for a fourth —

(The New York Times Cookbook best chocolate chip cookie recipe EVER, which people ask me for all the time — not the recipe, the cookies, because most people are too lazy to do the weighing and waiting required — plus, I use a secret combination of six kinds of chocolate for the chips, chunks, pieces — so, there’s that) 

— with eight more varieties to go, I’ve already run out of storage containers and need a few more ingredients, one of which is butter — HOW DID I NOT GET ENOUGH BUTTER?

But, I swear, eggs have gotten smaller. Or, is this a trick of age? When I was a child — from age six to, I think, twelve — my mom worked in an egg factory. It was a simpler, kinder time, and Mommy would sometimes take various of us to work with her, and we would be allowed to do some of the jobs there. I did candling, which was the job my mom and her friend Helen alternated, a job no one wanted as it required hours of  standing in a cold, dark booth watching eggs roll by on an lit-from-below conveyor belt and plucking off those eggs with bloody or fetal yolks, tossing them into a waste-bucket which smelled. I also used what I called “the sucker”, a vacuum type affair egg candlingwhich picked up lots of eggs at once and fed them onto the belt that led to the candling booth. And, too, I packaged, which meant I stood at one of the chutes down which the eggs were rolled after the post-candling machine sorted them into sizes. I usually manned the extra-large or the small chutes. The large chute required a very skilled and speedy packager because the majority of eggs fell into that classification and handling the volume at that station — getting the eggs into cartons, getting the cartons into cases, moving the cases to yet another conveyor belt — turned me into Lucy and Ethel in the candy factory. It occurs to me now that the working conditions in that egg factory would not pass OSHA standards for adults today, let alone children, but I loved being there and feeling needed, important, useful.

And, I swear, those large eggs were bigger than the large eggs now. I tried (not very hard) to find information on-line about when standardized egg sizes changed in this country, if they changed, but all I managed to determine was this: What is considered large in the U.S. would be medium in Europe.

From this — it being Monday morning weigh-in, me being me, and without benefit of gastrointestinal parasite to help me maintain my recent hard-won slimness, and seeing my naked self in the mirror as I stepped on the scale this a.m. — I thought, “Well, I may be large in the U.S., but in Europe, I’m medium!” So, there. BUT THEN, me being me, I thought, “Well shit, I’m no Dallesandro in more ways than one, so if Large in the U.S. is only Medium in Europe, then my Average in Europe is probably small. DAMMMMMIT! I’ll never get a lover there either.”

And we’re back to where I started. All babble. No one to listen. Eggs. Cookies. Christmas. Andy. Warhol. Woodlawn. Dallesandro. Dick. None. I’m fat.

So, I’ll leave you with Lou Reed’s Walk on the Wild Side, with images of Holly and Joe and Edie, too.

And if you, like me, prefer something a little less safe for work and more Joe — well, it’s the holiday season — so, hang the holly or Joe is hung or something someone more clever than am I would say. This is Lou Reed again, Make Up — which is really just an excuse for naked Joe Dallesandro.

Later. I have cookies to make and more loneliness to explore. Cuz, you know, this isn’t Europe and I am large and not large and I sleep alone and it is up to me to make sure we all avoid the 666 which will keep the Baby Jesus from being born. I mean, I guess I really do miss feeling useful, needed, important, like I did as a child, carefully handling those eggs, watching them roll by, looking for the flaws, looking for the bloody yolks, watching how few were extra large or extra small, so many larges. Ha, large. What does that even mean? Jesus. I mean — Baby Jesus? Shit. I wish Colby Keller was coming my way. So to speak. I think – maybe – I need a nap.

(Yes, I know, you are saying: CHARLIE, REALLY, SHUT UP!)

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!

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;


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

Speak Out/Stand Up

My gym membership was almost revoked (again) the other day. I had another fight in the locker room. A fellow wearing a shirt indicating he was a member of law enforcement, remarked to another fellow that the protestors in Ferguson were “just looking for an excuse to loot and steal, they just don’t want to believe in law and order, that officer feared for his life but you know how those people are.”

I went off. Sometimes, I have to. Eventually, seeing that I was — admittedly — going out of control, the t-shirted fellow said, “I’m done talking to you – you’re nuts.” And walked away.

Maybe I am nuts. Not sure —

I am sure that I am disturbed, disgusted, and dismayed by current events. And, too, aghast, agitated, and aggravated by reactions to and commentary about these events. Wiser people with better minds and deeper insight, not to mention more clear-eyed technique and a less baroque convolution of prose, have weighed in. I think it best if I leave most of it to them.

But, I wouldn’t be me did I not offer some explanation — or, all-about-me explication. Thus:

I live a purposefully circumscribed life, a self-imposed shut-in behind the fences of my fantasy world, walled-in by my books, scribbling and editing my writing, and interacting mostly with my Twitter-Literati — the modern-day version of imaginary friends — otherwise being mostly solitary, here in the crazy-uncle basement suite at Sepia Fallows.

I limit my access to the outside world. It is too much for me. Or, not enough. Or, both. I like, occasionally, to pretend to be engaged, or, appear to be keeping in touch and aware of certain worlds and milieus in which I pretend I will one day take active, in-real-life part. So, my primary fantasy being that I am an informed, sophisticated, erudite reader and active though *undiscovered essayist and novelist, I’ve been ridiculously excited about the National Book Awards. This faded somewhat when my dear Elizabeth McCracken’s[click here] brilliant best book of the year, Thunderstruck and Other Stories[click here], was disincluded on the way from long to short list. But, despite this injustice and egregious oversight, I toughed it out. Then, Lemony Snicket made a racist comment during the awards ceremony. I will let Jacqueline Woodson speak to it.

CLICK READ HERE: Jacqueline Woodson, National Book Award winning author of Brown Girl Dreaming, essay: The Pain of the Watermelon Joke. 

Read the comments — I shouldn’t have — where people accuse Ms. Woodson of seeing racism where none exists. Really?

Racism is alive and well and thriving in the petri-dish of determined ignorance sustained by privilege. White privilege. Male privilege. Heterosexist privilege. The privilege of the assumed “normal” and baseline. I point you to the following by Doug Saunders from The Globe published this morning in which he says we are in the last lap as far as equal rights go. WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? IN WHAT WORLD DO YOU LIVE?

CLICK READ HERE: Doug Saunders in the Globe, The Last Mile of Equal Rights is the Hardest.

Total bullshit. His quotes and statistics about how white people feel and self-reported rapes and — well, there is so much wrong with his conclusions about how much better it is, he evidences the white-man-heterosexist- (whatever his personal status- I’ve no idea) privilege-determined ignorance about the cultural, systemic bigotry in the world — I wanted to SCREAM while reading it. And, not only that, he mentions NOTHING about the on-going attack on the rights of those whose gender-identification and sexuality are at odds with those of the privileged elite.

Rape? Better? I think not. Idiot. Read this:

CLICK READ HERE: Sabrina Ruben Erdely in Rolling Stone: A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA

And, too, how about spouse-beating athlete, Ray Rice, winning an appeal of his suspension and being reinstated by NFL?

CLICK READ HEAR: From NPR: Ray Rice wins appeal

But, why is anyone STILL paying even a little attention to football when it is verifiably deleterious to its players, encourages — rewards, even — vile and violent behavior, and by and large exists and thrives in misogynistic, homophobic hate-bliss? Oh, you know why — because it makes money because we live in a largely vile and violent and misogynistic and homophobic and racist culture.

Luckily, reading the following helped. A little:

CLICK READ HERE: Carol Anderson in The Washington Post; Ferguson isn’t about Black Rage against Cops. It’s about White Rage against Progress.

And if you don’t believe racism is STILL operating in Ferguson: read these:

CLICK READ HERE: Chicago Tribune: Ferguson Testimony Shows Inconsistencies

CLICK READ HERE: New York Daily News: Pregnant Woman Loses Eye after Ferguson Police use non-lethal force at protest

CLICK READ HERE: ThinkProgress: Officers who Murdered 12-year-old holding toy gun refused him first aid

Need more?

These are hardly isolated incidents. All sorts of backlash going on, fueled — most often and most violently — by those citing religion as their justification for hate. The war against LGBTQ people rages, used for fundraising and circling the wagons by politicians and reality-TV folk like The Duggars and Duck Dynasty clans, whose violence and anger inciting ant-LGBTQ hate-speech is not only allowed, but promoted by media, and excused on basis of faith. Bullshit. I call you on this bullshit.

CLICK READ HERE: Michelle Duggar’s hate-speech and fear-mongering and incite to violence and discrimination against the LGBTQ community as reported in The Huffington Post

CLICK READ HERE: Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson’s continued homophobia and baiting as reported by Complex

And so, I suppose, what set me off this a.m. about Doug Saunders “last mile” theorizing propaganda was that we are nowhere near equality. The power-privileged-elite keep gaining more and more control of everything, everywhere, and meanwhile we — the lesser-thans and have-nots — are distracted by clawing and scratching to mark what little territory we are permitted, fighting AGAINST each other for our portion of the less than 1% of the world we have, when we ought to be in this together taking back our power from the 1% who control 99% of the wealth.

BUT EVEN WORSE — for me — is when those of privilege write/lecture/imply that we minorities ought to be grateful about how much better it is than it was. SO NOT THE POINT. You want me to be grateful that you are giving lip-service to the possibility that one day we minorities — we lesser-thans and have-nots — will be able to sit anywhere we want on the bus — well, fuck you, because I can’t worry about sitting ON THE BUS when I am always being thrown UNDER IT.


*NOTE: “undiscovered” – obviously YOU, gentle and genius reader, have discovered me — so I ought NOT, perhaps, measure myself as undiscovered simply because I am not discovered as defined by this culture, as in, oft-published by major-media outlets or publishers and FAMOUS.




Wouldn’t it be better if . . .

“Wouldn’t it be better if . . . ”

FALLOUTThere are few things in life I hate worse than suggestions having to do with how I might improve – well – anything. For the many long decades during which I was becoming less actor and more teacher/producer/director/performance coach, my dislike of the phrase “wouldn’t it be better if…” became legendary, its utterance by actor/parent/student would instantly silence a room, having the effect of an air raid siren on those present who knew me even slightly. They would, upon hearing it, back quietly away, duck for as much cover as was available and wait for me to explode. My explosions were also legendary. They came in many varieties:

  1. The quite frequent dismissive-one-liner-snark meant to silence and put one in one’s place;
  2. The quite frequent dissolve into tears, “excuse me for a minute” sort of “you’ve hurt my feelings – I’m overly moved” quiet fizzle of explosion;
  3. The less frequent but still relatively common in amused, faux-high dudgeon (*please see etymology note below), how dare you sort of, warning explosion;
  4. And the blessedly rare, long, slow-simmering until nuclear-cloud-cursing-raging rant leaving scorched earth and scarred humanity in its (my) wake.

But perhaps the most common variety of “explosion” was my babbling rantings and ravings. So well-known was I for my long-winded, tangent-filled, fustian-pontifical orations, that I was eventually hired to write a weekly column called Rants & Raves in which I went off about this or that. Alas, that publication is no more (alas because, one; they paid me to edit and write, and, two; I haven’t had a regular job since and I really need one) but bright side (see, A.B.C., how I am trying) during the course of that gig I became best-friend-forever-soulmate-close to its publisher, who I’d known casually for decades but who I now count among my nearest and dearest.

She knows me really well. Which is why she said with some trepidation and terror yesterday, “I know you hate suggestions, but, might I – well – I have an idea.” Mmm-hmm.


  • Oh dear. Yes. She was FULL of ideas. The first she had pre-gamed for by sending me an email link. To a gay-dating service. Really? Really. She thinks I ought not to be alone. She thinks I am a great catch. She thinks I am attractive. She thinks too much and she is NOT a gay man. Alone works for me. And since I am a long in the crooked-toothed, unemployed, sort-of-homeless man with little to no ambition, I’m not really much of a catch. Now, I’ve promised to work on my self-esteem, so, I will admit that there is a very small subset of people who would find me attractive, but, the men amongst them can be found in prison, whilst the women amongst them are driving mini-vans purchased in the course of disastrously un-fulfilling marriages they will never leave so they fantasize about men they can never have and wouldn’t want if they could have them.
  • Her NEXT suggestion was that I transcribe my rantings and ravings, those floods of tangent and pointlessness and crazy-pretend-rage into which I so often launch, which render her breathless, red-faced, hysterical. She says I am funny. My writing is too sad, she says. Write funny, she says. Write shorter, she says – like, you know, a short story. Find THAT voice and maybe – she says – THEN, someone MIGHT want to read it? I demurred, explaining that my authorial voice was rather long-winded, that the special discipline of short story writing, its concision and such, not my thing.
  • She suggested what I might write short stories ABOUT – all of which were topics that would GUARANTEE my death or another lawsuit.

However, HERE I AM GOING, trying to be – you know – concise and funny and a little ranty – taking all of her “wouldn’t it be better if”s and giving them a roll in the “HEY WHY NOT?”

The irony: she wants me to eschew shadowy, one-night-standy men and find myself a date-y, steady, marriage kind of a guy. Well, it is in the context of suggesting to men a second date (for lack of a better word) in which I am most often greeted with the laughter she thinks I can achieve with my writing.

Maybe I should look into this: Scientists Successfully Grow Half A Dozen Human Penises In Lab. (CLICK THE TITLE) I know, right? I mean, the possibilities. I could get a new, fresh, bigger one to better my second-date (or NSA fuck-buddy-thingy) odds, OR, I could just get myself a penis to have around, on hand (so to speak) without the pesky and irritating actual male-presence-personality attached? Ideal. Oh wait, that already exists, albeit made of silicone. And they don’t talk. Which is sometimes not so great. And they don’t talk. Which is often a really good thing.

I talk enough for everyone. But, if I keep going, I’ll go over 1000 words which is — apparently – where I lose you. (Although, I usually say FAR FEWER than 1000 words with those supposedly dangerous hook-ups of mine and I lose them too so . . . can’t win. Maybe my mouth is the problem – but – wait – no – pretty sure that’s NOT the issue – but then again -)

I’m stopping here. I hope you’ll come back for a second — whatever this is. (Stop laughing, you dog.)

*Etymology note: It is instructive and illuminating to trace the origin of dudgeon to its source (so say some, though not all) as reference to “grabbing a dagger in anger” – that I, who have been so frequently stabbed in the back, would use a dudgeon at all, amuses me. Just me. Which is enough.


ZeitBriefs: Other People’s Work and Dick Pics

Sharing some links and things that made me think. And some thinks I thought without linking. Or sharing.


how to get awayI’ve been Twitter watching Scandal since Shonda Rhimes first gifted it to us. I used to do so, eager to hear Donna Brazile’s Tweets, but I’ve become annoyed with Ms. Brazile and her continued support of the demon-cabal of the NFL (you’d think her ruination of Al Gore’s presidential campaign would have been enough to disappoint me, but, no). So, I’ve blocked her. Like she cares. But, I digress – surprise, surprise – and now Ms. Rhimes has given me a new reason to waste another hour a week not reading or writing (about which I wrote yesterday- HERE) with How to Get Away With Murder from Shonda-land. Apparently I am not alone. Great ratings. Unfortunately, the jack-fuck NFL did better. What is wrong with people?



Speaking of what is wrong with people – me, in particular (too long a list there), here’s a funny, not funny: before I made a life-change to being an under-employed house/pet sitter – slash – crazy uncle-in-the-attic (basement) – slash – not-quite-published novelist – slash – lost his paying gig columnist so now a blogger, I was an under-employed – slash – over-worked indentured servant of an acting teacher -slash – journey-actor – slash -producer/director. Wow – that was a long, rough road to the non-point of my point, that being this: my syntax, sentence structure, punctuation and addiction to (some editors have substituted unreasonably stubborn insistence on for addiction to) neologism when my newly-coined word seems pithier and more apt than any existing construct is wedded to what I have come to believe is a genetic inability to distinguish between the uses of “that” and “which” – which (or that?) is linked to my inability to control what has politely been called my “Baroque” style of parenthetical, digressive, aside-ridden, awash in barely-connected run-on rants and ravings of compounded complexities of cacophonous babbling rendering the determination of whether or not a clause is restrictive or non nearly impossible. But the thing was (is) every time I have to use THAT or WHICH, I struggle and go to one or another grammar site – most often, Grammar Girl. I also have trouble with PEOPLE’S vs PEOPLES’. I also prefer British quotation rules – and – well, my writing is as quirky and difficult to follow, I suppose, as my soul. I would like to think BOTH are – for a few people at least – worth the trouble.  No one said I was easy. To read, anyway.


Naked Old Man 2

My latest dick-pic. Can’t understand why I’m not getting more hook-ups?

And speaking of “easy” and why that word and “slut” and all the others ought to be put to rest – Noah Michelson, Executive Editor at Huffington Post has written a really great column about naked pics and the distortion of the issue. I agree. I have long, long said that the lack of embrace and celebration of the joys of free expression of our sexual natures is a tool the patriarchal-fascist-power-structure-elite use to control us – ESPECIALLY to control women and those of other than a hetero-normative bent. IN FACT – I blame that repression and its disastrous results for the most decimating, destructive heartbreak-relationship-disasters of my life, the effects of which still haunt me, have, in many ways, ruined me and made me distrustful and hermit-like. So, TAKE A PICTURE OF YOUR JUNK AND SEND IT EVERYWHERE. Yep, that’s what I’m saying.



ZankieIn a continuation of the above topic- wherein fear and lack-of-embrace of sexual feelings and love create problematic stories – especially in my life – well, my obsession with Zach on Big Brother 16 – or, more specifically, with the bromance-showmance-whatever-mance between straight Zach and gay Frankie – was ridiculous. Because, truth, it has happened to me repeatedly – twice with horrifyingly heartbreaking consequences wherein the “straight” guy told me he loved me more than he had ever loved anyone else but then, because of the onus of what our union meant, he could not handle it and turned from me – turned on me – turned into – well, enough. So, I know Frankie is a fame-junkie and I suspect Zach, too, is a bit of a fame-addict, but Zach’s monologues in the confessional room seemed so sincere, so heartfelt, I can’t believe he doesn’t have conflicted-love feelings for Frankie. But, then again, I’ve REPEATEDLY thought fellows had the same sort of feelings for me, only to find out I was being used or made a fool of or becoming a lie they would later tell. Fuck life.



tennessee williamsI am reading John Lahr’s biography of Tennessee Williams, titled, Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh. It is stunning, simply stunning. I have long admired Mr. Lahr’s work. His biography of Joe Orton was incisive and illuminating, and now, he is the perfect choice for Mr. Williams. The way in which he manages to transition between Mr. Williams’ own words and authorial narrative, the fascinating investigation and explanation of how Mr. Williams’ personal life was mirrored in and informed his work, all of it coming together to make the reader feel present as the life occurred; quite brilliant. I love it.

That said, so much of Mr. Williams’ life and words echo (or, presage) so much of my own broken hearted journey through life that I have had to – repeatedly – put the book down and process. My copy is pocked with margin notes and sticky-pad-arrows so that it looks less read than studied. Listen to these few:

There are only two times in this world when I am happy and selfless and pure. One is when I jack off on paper and the other when I empty all the fretfulness of desire on a young male body.

I’d like to live a simple life — with epic fornications.

…to know me is not to love me….I am a problem to anybody who cares anything about me –Most of all to myself who am, of course, my only ardent lover (though a spiteful and cruel one!)

We share a soul angst. Would that I could manage – had managed – to produce a truth of my own anywhere close to those Mr. Williams made of his journey. Alas, I did not. Nor did I achieve his “epic fornications” – oh well. Read the book friends. While you’re sitting alone – like me.


  • AHHH … THE WEEK-END … and, the week, it ends …

And speaking of alone – like me – last night – but first, later today I will be departing Aftermath. Back to my basement for a few weeks. Yesterday I didn’t leave the estate at all. I stayed in all day. Reading. Writing. Frolicking (and subsequently, napping) with Judah. Dangerous. I cannot remain in the house for more than one day without social interaction because it is far too easy for me to NEVER leave the house. I have to force myself out, daily, or all too quickly I hide in my crazy-uncle-world and do not emerge.

charlie sweeney

Me. Sweeney. Goal weight.

But I gave myself yesterday. Last night I was alerted that Sweeney Todd was being presented as part of Live from Lincoln Center on PBS. Now, here’s the thing. (Another of my things – not to be confused with THAT thing of dick-pic fame). When I was quite young I saw the original production on Broadway starring Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Lovett. I then saw it with Dorothy Loudon. I then saw it, years later, with Christine Baranski. I then saw it at Signature Theatre in Virginia with a brilliant, luminous, glorious Donna Migliaccio (why she is NOT a HUGE Broadway star I cannot understand, her Lovett and Mama Rose and EVERYTHING I have ever seen her do – GENIUS – most recently as the Mother in Sunday in the Park With George at Signature – she slayed me, absolutely destroyed me – so, so, SO ridiculously good), and then I saw the Patti LuPone with tuba version of Lovett on Broadway. AND, I played Sweeney in my heyday. It was my absolute favorite role ever. I knew the score was actually out of my comfort zone – I did not have as much low end as a brilliant Sweeney requires – but I LOVED doing it. I worked with my favorite and most demanding director, Josh, and the cast was top-effing-notch, including my Mrs Lovett, my dear, dear Kayte. Now, granted, I lost my mind playing the role. My feeling was that his years in the prison colony would have been marked by increasing insanity and anger and starvation; so he should be, in essence, a shadow, a ghost, a poisonous cloud of hate and fear and need for revenge. So, I dieted to get the look I wanted. I dieted to obsessive degrees. I lived on ExLax and one 6 ounce can of tuna every other day. And celery. I could have as much celery as I wanted. I lost twenty-five pounds and most of my mind. And I loved it.

All of which leads up to, I was not a huge fan of last night’s broadcast. I’d have rather they re-ran the one from a few years ago with Ms. LuPone. I didn’t see the point of last night’s. There was nothing revelatory about it. There was nothing, in fact, even very good about it. Everyone seemed miscast – either acting wise or vocally – except for Audra McDonald, who has already done the Beggar Woman with Patti, so, uhm, anyway.

I longed, after, to see my version again. I know there exists a recording – I had it once – but, alas, the last two times I have “moved” have been rather hasty departures, rather emotionally draining and terrifying departures, both of which prompted me to toss or lose things. I don’t know where my Sweeney went.

Anyway … where was I? Oh, right …

That was my Friday night. Watching a bad and disappointing Sweeney. Trust me, bad and disappointing men have often been my Friday night fate – which is why I tend to stay in, hermit-like, alone and reading about Tennessee Williams rather than going out and risking another Zankie-esque-debacle in my life.

So, there, this was meant to be a short little post of quick links of the work of others … turned into another therapy session about – well, forget about what – let’s settle on this: I just cannot shut-up. Maybe THAT’s why my Zach departed. LOL. Fuck it. Gotta run. Doing a final laundry and vacuuming here at Aftermath.






ZeitBite Saturday: My Stupid Mouth – ONE MORE THING!

Well, I said I’d be posting less – yesterday – and here I am this morning. Very brief. I promise. One more thing.

I am going to be writing less because I am doing ANOTHER draft of Libertytown. It has been suggested I cut it by a third, that its main character, Parker, talks too much. Yes, he does. As do I. I trust the person who told me this, as much as I trusted the LitProf from esteemed MFA program who told me it was the best thing she’d read in years and resist the “inevitable demands you will receive to cut it down.” Well, I’ll have both versions then, won’t I? I do think it could use some paring and after a period of working on other things, I feel as if it is calling me back. So, back I go.

First, I want to thank the authors and LitWits who have given me such joy this week. I read four books – very different – but all passionately made.

  1. A Brave Man Seven Storeys Tall by Will Chancellor
  2. A Tree Born Crooked by Steph Post
  3. The Elusive Embrace: Desire and the Riddle of Identity by Daniel Mendelsohn
  4. The Mathemetician’s Shiva by Stuart Rojstaczer

Books have given me so much joy, always. Bookstores, too. And I now have a new community with my friends at The Curious Iguana and the LitWit world on Twitter. Of the four authors whose work I read this week, all but Mendelsohn followed me on Twitter when I followed them and Post, Chancellor, and Rojstaczer thanked me for talking about their books. The Lit crowd – authors, editors, agents, publicists, those who report about the field – are an amazingly giving and supportive group of people. In fact, Libertytown was most recently read by my Iowa Workshop (not to mislead – summer session only, I didn’t go to the elite MFA program) mentor who suggested I shut Parker up. I spent decades in theatre and theatre training fields and while there were some lovely people and times, never was there this sense of community and honest, to the soul, deeply felt wishes for the success of others. And offers of help. Lovely.

I needed lovely this week because I am horrified by the goings on in the NFL – from the continuing saga of the Washington franchise refusal to shed its racist name, to the beatings of spouses and children, to the lies and cover ups, and, too, the NCAA reinstating Penn State post season privilege and the football coach there being the highest paid state employee in Pennsylvania? What? And the amount of taxes that go to support athletics. That the NFL is not-for-profit. That male privilege continues to be a virus infecting everything in this nation (world) and that when I mention it – I am attacked and trolled and even scolded by friends and family for it.

Sorry, I may be able to shut Parker up in Libertytown, but when I see such despair and pain caused by cultural-dysfunction and inequity, I canNOT be shut up.

And EVEN AS I SAY THIS –  confess my own hypocrisy. I too have fetishisized white-male-privileged-superiority — this picture just yesterday caught me up, made me tingle –


– and while I can Tweet (and mean) things like:

I declare the phrases “man up” & “masculine only” & “no fems” & “not into gay scene” & “discreet” (or “discrete” for idiots) to be illegal

– and I’d have added an ageist remark to that had I had the characters to do so – and so, though I was kicked off Grindr for lecturing people about the language of their posts – I notice that most of my meaningless hook-ups and fantasies have had to do with those leaning toward the stereotypically, culturally privileged classes – like the guys above (although I am way more racially diverse than that – but, P.S. gay-sites – where are the people of color?). So, yeah, I’m a hypocrite and yeah, I, too, have allowed my brain to be washed by the white-hetero-male-wealthy-youth-cult-privilege culture – so, who am I to speak?

Whoever I am, I’m going to keep speaking. And try to keep growing and changing and calling myself on my privilege.

And reading. And writing. Because those bring me such joy. And, I suppose, I will continue to try to find enough characters (and character) to say what I need to say and maybe – in my own little way – make the world a better, kinder, easier place to be.

Bye, Loves. Must pack and leave this gig and return to my cave for six days until I hie to the country, the backwoods, the land of deer sharing coffee with me in the morning. So, like I said yesterday – posting less. LOL.



Two Hot Guys … But NOT in the GOOD way …

In less than 24 hours I will have begun a seven-day house/pet sitting gig at one of my favorite locations. Alone for seven days. And just in time, believe me.

The home to which I am going has warmly positive old-house mojo, it’s decadently comfortable, and sun beams through all the rooms as if a Broadway lighting designer plotted it. I am able to luxuriate in hours-long sessions of reading and writing there, not plagued by the restiveness, short-attention-span/inability to focus that has been upending me for the past year or so everywhere else.

bone clocksI have my reading material all lined up. Today, my favorite place to be in the real world, The Curious Iguana Bookstore [celebrating their ONE YEAR anniversary this weekend – check them out by clicking HERE], handed me a signed copy of David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks. Definitely making the seven-days-alone cut.

Alone. I’m thinking I might not even go to the gym. People are REALLY getting on my nerves. Today, for example, I got to the gym later than usual because it was a Mom-day. I took my Mother on various errands, had lunch, spent time together. I adore her. We did not have an easy time during my teens to my late twenties but we have become wonderfully close in the past few years since I’ve started spending a day or two a week with her, driving her to hair salons and doctor appointments and – I’m sorry but she loves it- WalMart. And wonderfully honest. Today, for instance, she started crying because she was having a great deal more difficulty walking than usual. In fact, today she did what she had done the last time we were together; instead of just taking my arm to help her, she has entwined her fingers through mine, holding my hand. It doesn’t really add to the stability, it’s a comfort, need thing. For her. For me, it makes me both ecstatic – because she is holding my hand and trusting me – and so sad, because I am terrified of losing her.

So, yes, I get to the gym after this and I am spent. I need to sweat and elliptical and sauna. I do my cardio and push push push myself through the melancholy. I take a quick shower and head into the sauna which is blessedly empty. Until . . .

. . . two late teen/early twenty-something boys come in. First of all, I don’t wear my glasses in the sauna because the last time I did so the layer of protective-scratch-proof-whatever on which I had once spent a pretty penny MELTED into cloudiness and I had to replace my glasses to the tune of $400. So, I stopped wearing my glasses in the sauna and, lo and behold, unexpected good thing. I can’t really see anyone, they are mostly blurs, and this creates a magical, other-worldly distance.

Sadly, I can still HEAR them.

I’ve seen these boys before. Upstairs in the gym proper. They are not unattractive. Well, they are not unattractive physically. In particular, the one named Pat is quite sexy. His skin brings to mind the color and smooth, lickable look of Haagen-Dazs double-chocolate melted and mixed with whipped-cream. He’s not overly tall, tends to wear red gym-shorts which fall perfectly over his gorgeous ass, has long – as in a bit past the shoulder-length – dark, curly hair which he pulls into a semi-ponytail-bun arrangement – and, well, he’s the kind of young man about whom I think to my self, “If only I had Calvin Klein’s money and could buy myself a weekend with that one.” Apparently I am not alone in thinking this. Which I will get to. As he and his buddy – whose name I did not learn – got into the sauna they annoyed me from the get go.sauna

1) They turned on the light. Look, it’s NOT that dark in there and the light is JUST ANNOYING ENOUGH when one is sitting with eyes closed trying to meditate. And, HEY, I’M IN HERE WITH THE LIGHT OFF SO WHAT THE FUCK GIVES YOU THE RIGHT TO TURN IT ON WITHOUT ASKING?

2) They were dressed in their sweaty workout clothes and shoes. The sign AT THE DOOR says to shower BEFORE getting in. I can’t STAND the smell of heated sweat and – WORSE YET – heated dirty sneakers. It is disgusting.

3) They had a conversation as if I was not sitting right there. Which is why I think it’s okay to give the physical description of him and his name, because he said all this, including his name, right in front of me – a complete stranger – so, he must not care who knows about it.

Pat was telling his friend – who I shall call, henceforth, Friend Of Pat – or, FOP, for short -that he (Pat) had been given a clean bill of health by his doctor when he went in to make sure he didn’t have genital herpes and to have his liver checked because he had been drinking so much this summer. Liver fine. No STD’s.

Although Fop said that one summer of heavy drinking was not enough to cause liver damage, Pat assured him that he had had SO MUCH to drink this summer, he wanted to be sure. Fop was, however, amazed that Pat could have hooked up with as many girls as he had in his life so far -and Fop was sure Pat didn’t even tell him about ALL of them – and not have gotten an STD. Fop said, “I figure you’re in your thirties by now.”

But, NO. Pat said he was in the high thirties five years ago when he had been dating [NOT USING HER NAME AS SHE WAS NOT IN SAUNA BLABBING] and by now he was in the high forties.

Fop said, “Oh right. We made that list back then.” And that he was only to seven. And lots of his friends were only at one or two. Pat said, “You need to get new friends.” And Fop then started answering Pat’s questions as to how many girls specific friends had had sex with. There then ensued a conversation about a young lady who had hugged Pat in a sexual way at Bushwallers (a downtown, Frederick, Maryland bar) this past weekend but he was busy that night. He’s going to hit her up this weekend though.

Wow. Pat, pretty as you are, only adding ten sexual encounters in five years, looking like you look with that hair, ass, and – my, the CHARM – well, back in my day in my particular mirror-balled, popper-sniffing neck of the woods that was we would have called a slow fortnight. (Yes, we said fortnight. I am either that literate-pretentious or that old. Take your pick.)

Look, here’s the thing, I am ALL FOR having consensual, responsible sex as often and with as many people as you can. Believe me. And if I looked like you, Pat (or Fop) I would be sexing it up nightly – no question. But here is what I would NOT be doing – talking about it in front of people who I DO NOT KNOW AND HAVE NEVER MET. And even if I was – I would not be doing it UN-SHOWERED AFTER A WORKOUT, in a sauna, dressed in my sweaty clothes and smelly shoes.

I exist. Yes, I am likely old enough to be your grandfather but that doesn’t mean you can pretend I am not there. I pay my own gym membership and I go there to relax and have some – strange as it sounds – peace and quiet and solitude. You don’t just take over a space as if it was empty when ANOTHER HUMAN BEING IS THERE. Say hello. Respect that they might NOT want to hear what you have to say. Say excuse me when you walk by. Say, “Do you mind if  I turn on the light?” If you MUST talk in the sauna – and you should NOT – remember that this is a public place so anything you say is PUBLIC.

And since you felt free to say all this (and more) in front of me, I guess you don’t mind who else knows about it.

You are both, no doubt, “hot guys” but, today, you proved that the only kind of hot you are is the sweaty, smelly, inconsiderate kind.

Yes, when two good-looking young men in a sauna do nothing but make me want to scream and kill, I definitely need to be in seclusion for a while.

And I will (UN)follow . . .

I’ve been experiencing a renewed obsession with all things musical theatre the past few days. Last night I watched a Barbara Cook PBS concert from 1980 and the HBO Six by Sondheim documentary, after which I watched my Grey Gardens bootleg. I was up until five in the morning.

Perhaps I should have slept in later?

After three and a half hours of sleep I rose, did my morning writing and headed to the gym, after which I stopped at the grocery store for dinner ingredients. I was emptying the dishwasher I’d run this morning before I left and then chopping and cooking and cleaning and such from 3:30 until a few minutes ago when, at last, I managed to find enough containers with lids into which to fit all the leftovers (I made five kinds of vegetables plus roasted chicken) and then shoved and juggled and adjusted to manage to fit those into the refrigerator, scrubbed the pots and pans and wooden utensils, loaded the dishwasher, wiped the counters, and generally did the Hazel for four hours.

Kind of tired. Kind of weary. Kind of not in the mood for ignorance (or being ignored – but that’s another story) and so when I opened my Twitter feed and it was once more polluted with posts of a misogynistic, homophobic, racist nature from one young man in particular, a boy who should know better than to post things with derivations of the N word and the F word – a boy who loves to post pictures of boys crying or being kind or dressed in pink and then denigrating them as “womanly” – as if having qualities traditionally feminine is somehow less than, or a hilarious joke. This is a boy who I have repeatedly told how disturbing is his casual homophobia, racism, sexism – and who is either too insensitive or too stupid to understand how ignorant and destructive is his behavior.

It makes me sad because he is better than that. He should be better than that. And I don’t ever understand why these pretty white boys who grew up in such privilege, who grew up beautiful and cared for and supported by lots of people, don’t get why it’s wrong to say “Ni–ah” or “Fa–ot” or call females “Bi—es” or why it’s evidence of a warped sexist culture to think calling Justin Bieber a girl is some sort of insult or showing a picture of a guy crying because he loves his girlfriend should be labeled “pu–y” – I JUST DO NOT GET IT.

And …

I just couldn’t take any more. I un-followed. Which then actually struck me funny because as I did I started singing my own new version of Jason Robert Brown’s And I Will Follow – as sung by Lauren Kennedy, which I have been WAILING in my car for the past few days. So there, once again, musicals make me smile.

I’ll take it.