… twas the night before the night before and . . .

I’m heading out to stay with two dog friends today for two nights, after which I’ll move to a new location to stay with one dog friend, during which I will be heading to New York for a day with one of my dear ones to see “The Glass Menagerie” and the final performance of “Big Fish”. So, very busy next week.

And – frankly – I am looking VERY forward to the quiet moments of couch sitting and bedrest with my dog friends. Some silence will be nice. Not that I don’t love being with people and not that the crowds or the season have been awful, but, I do like my peace and quiet and routine.

I have been eating entirely too much and gymming entirely too little. I feel unfit. So, I need to do a few things today before I head to my doggie friends, and I am going to try to talk myself into one of those things being stopping in at the gym for an hour or two on my way. We shall see.

Paul Cadmus

Paul Cadmus

However, much as I would LOVE to think I’ve the discipline to go work out – and much as I have missed the locker room – the truth of the matter is, I will more likely end up heading to dog sitting with a bag of books and skip the gym entirely.

Paul Cadmus

Paul Cadmus

I actually have a book about the period during which Paul Cadmus lived and painted and the crowd with whom he ran and created a world.  I STILL think I was born at the wrong time.

Paul Cadmus as photographed by Carl van Vechten

Paul Cadmus as photographed by Carl van Vechten

Read all about him by clicking the photo. Gotta run. Well . . . running is probably out. But, gotta GO.

… sanity and other ridiculous, meaningless cultural tropes …

You know how in life there are those times when it seems as if the universe is trying to send you a message?

In the preceding twenty-four hours I have been told three times how sane I am. I suppose I must include the caveat that all three of the people telling me that also added that they were hearing voices – well, one voice, mine.

I suppose I should also say that although I am quite close in different ways to all three of these people, none of them know how much time I spend each day maintaining my Publishers Clearing House eligibility, certain that on November 26 I will be seeing the Prize Patrol at my door.

Christine Wu; Ghouls Night out (Click on pic for her website)

Christine Wu; Ghouls Night out (Click on pic for her website)

That aside, let me say, the concept of ‘sane” means very little to me. Its definition varies – like every other word – from consciousness to consciousness, and I have very little use and even less patience for most of those definitions and the culture’s use of them to bludgeon and judge and berate.

That said, despite the number of times it has been suggested gently and not so gently that perhaps my grip on reality was less than full, I have never doubted my sanity. At the same time, I early on discovered how little benefit came from arguing with people about the shape and content and landscape of reality. This has resulted in some people thinking me eccentric, an embracer of crackpot theories. Others think me full on delusional.

Well, we all have our stories.

However, I have no doubt that I have achieved a level of clarity and an acuity of vision which are both rare and bordering on magically insightful. So, no, I have never doubted my sanity, my only doubt was whether or not being clear and seeing reality was worthwhile or beneficial in this particular world in which we live.

It comes at an incredible cost. In addition, maintaining clarity and insight in a world so determined to live in illusion and delusion and confusion is exhausting. It becomes even more so when one evolves to the point of recognizing that definition and boundaries and finality are all illusions. It can be terrifying to discover that everything is constantly in flux, re-shaping, re-naming, re-defining, plastic. It make one want to run to one or another concrete, ten commandment of a belief system when one realizes that reality is NOT in fact a finished product, but rather a becoming, growing, blossoming, ever in flux creation of which one is part. Yes, even one’s own mind and beliefs are subject to complete and total revision each and every second. Living in that energy requires a huge amount of courage and stamina and self-esteem; refusing to accept the presumptions and tenets and cultural biases, insisting on examining life fully – it is a lonely and terrifying path to follow – because there is NO PATH, there is only faith in moving forward.

So, having been told three times in the past twenty-four hours just how sane I am, one might think I brought the topic up. One might think the conversation arose from relating the same story to three different people. One might think. But one would be wrong.

I cannot reveal the discussion topics without invading the privacy of others, so, I won’t. Suffice to say that the build-ups to the crux of the matters at hand were quite different and only one of the conversations was about me and my current situation. What was the same about all three was that the friends doing the talking all said something like the following – I have joined all three into a paraphrased monologue – but the essence remains:

“Recently I find myself in difficult situations and I start hearing things you’ve said to me.  Those philosophies of yours about how everything everyone says or does is mostly about the spin and to take time to be silent and listen to the story under the words. Behind the words. And let go of the spin.”

Exactly.

And my favorite discussion; “I heard you telling me that story about how you came to terms with people’s judgments about you, about the stories they were telling about things you did which seemed like total lying versions, and you said, No. Not lies. That’s how they saw it. That’s how they need to see it where they are. You can’t tell other people they can’t have their stories because that gives them permission to doubt your truths, too.”

Exactly.

Sanity. What a concept. It turns out – IN MY STORY – that sanity seems to equal the ability to ALLOW all the possible stories about each TRUTH into being, and still manage, somehow, to maintain your connection to the grounded Light and Love of your OWN version – without belittling, degrading, or berating others for theirs.

If we could manage to allow for that possibility – for the possibility of different ways of seeing – maybe this world of arguing and division and constant effort to frame the story in our own terms would become more loving, more light, more … sane?

(A note about the art: I have used “Ghouls Night Out” by Christine Wu to illustrate what I consider to be the dichotomy of trying to maintain sanity in this chronically over-stimulating world in which we live. Her art speaks to the many faces and phases within people, and, for me, the exhaustion that occurs when trying to express those faces and phases. Please check out her website and portfolio. Click the pic or click here; Christine Wu.)

… i’m glad … you’re back … don’t explain … something terribly wrong with me …

Someone should have shot the twelve year old Charlie who begged for all the Billie Holliday recordings.

“… and I know you cheat … right or wrong don’t matter … when you’re with me sweet …”

“… you know that I love you and what love endures … nothing rates above you for I’m so completely yours …”

When your twelve year old walks around moaning these lyrics and holding a fabric gardenia to his head, well, STOP HIM.

Holliday, Billie

And then I saw “Lady Sings The Blues” and it was ALLLLLLLLLLL over. Good morning heartache, indeed.

Oh my, such an idiot I am. I have loved both unwisely and unwell. And, just when I determine that it is time to say no to all the less than coming my way, who messages me? Oh. Oh. Oh. No.

All I hear is this song in my head from decades ago and it won’t leave me alone …

The Come On

 

Janis Ian

 

I haven’t been loved by a man in quite a while
You know it ain’t easy making me smile
Friends have their lovers
Men on a string
There must be something terribly wrong with me
Sometimes I feel like I haven’t learned anything

 

How do you do?
Would you like to be friends?
No, I just want a bed for the night
Someone to tell me they care
You can fake it, that’s all right
In the morning I won’t be here

 

It’s a sacrificial altar
and I’m laying down my head
and I’m telling you up front —
I haven’t much to give

 

Is that how it’s done,
or shall I sing and dance?
Give me a chance

 

How do you do?
Do you want to be friends?
Yes, that might be very nice
Maybe we’ll fall in love
Every body has its price
Mine is yours for free
if you’ll be in love with me

 

I haven’t been loved by a man in quite a while
You know it ain’t easy making me smile
Friends have their lovers
Men on a string
There must be something terribly wrong with me…

 

And, of course, I answered and went.

 

. . . greatest hits . . . blues & boners . . .

This post from June(…blue…2nd Sunday in June…Part 5…) is popular . . . popular enough I went back to re-read it myself and found this:

There is nothing that will break a heart faster than thinking you’ve found someone who loves the “possible” and “all that is” of you, only to discover, alas, what they loved was their idea of what you should be to serve their needs.blue 3 And nothing will break a soul faster than thinking you’ve not been what you should be, could be, were meant to be – and have failed not only another, but yourself. Been there. Done that. Wrote the novel.

Well then . . . I like that. I believe that. It is still alarmingly relevant. That aside, however, one of my MOST popular posts, and one which CONTINUES – EVERY SINGLE DAY – to get hit after hit after hit – is this one from April 2, 2013: …words to the wise… Look:

I knew a man once who was obsessed with the size of his genitalia. Here’s what I have learned from having known him:

Image

It is a genetic accident how big your dick is; it is a personal choice how big a dick you are. I wonder if he’s learned this yet?

Clearly, the popularity of this has NOTHING to do with its literary content, but, rather, that the pic of the Calvin Klein enclosed tumescence has been shared and re-shared and linked and re-linked – all of which leads me to this conclusion . . . people enjoy reading about sorrowful introspection and love gone wrong while they enjoy looking at erect peni: so, if I add photo illustrations to my novel – of a particular variety – I might have a winner, eh?

Okay – guess I’ll have to start the model search.

 

. . . merrily we roll along . . .

I worship Stephen Sondheim. No secret. And while “favorite” is not a word I like to use in reference to his shows, since they all offer so much, are so different, I have to say that if forced to CHOOSE, I would choose MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG. I love every number. I love the story. I love that it moves backwards in time and how, in doing so, the heartbreak of the final scene – when they are so fresh, so hopeful, so in love with possibility, and we already know just how sad, sorrowful, betraying and awful they will all become – such brilliance. I directed the show. I was quite proud of it – everything (mostly) but particularly the visual vocabulary via set and costumes and lights with which we told the story – it was pretty much – I say with hubris – GENIUS – because we did it with $0 – and yet, we made it rip roar sing move and FLY. It soared. I cried every night. I love MERRILY and now it’s hitting the West End for the first time. If there was a god or any justice, I’d get to see it there. But, I have never been to London, and never will go there. I will probably never see MERRILY again.Or direct again. Or love again. So, I’ll just get by on YouTube clips. Love this show.

So much truth. And – here at the end of life – god – I wish I could go back and tell Charlie – many different Charlies – what he shouldn’t believe, who he shouldn’t believe, and – oh my god – crying again – why love doesn’t ever work, and trust is a trick.

. . . am i repulsive . . .

I was watching THE BIG BANG THEORY, which I do because all my relatives with whom I live love the show, and it does have some very funny lines. One I heard tonight that made me laugh out loud for about five minutes:

“I had an epiphany, not a stroke.”

I think it would have been funnier had it been, “I had an epiphany, not a lobotomy.” Because that has a better rhythm. But, neither here not there, what I am wondering is – am I horrifyingly ugly? Why is it that these two pics:

ImageImage

would make people NOT want to meet me? I know I’m not Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Anderson Cooper, or, even, Howie Mandel, but, am I so repugnant? I mean, apparently, I am. I can’t even keep track of the rejections. Which, actually, makes sense, as the only people who were ever even vaguely attracted to me always wanted it kept on the dl. Jesus. I wish it didn’t matter to me, but it does. And what the hell does “masculine” mean? When people ask me that, or want me to label myself, I got no time for them. Or that. Ridiculous. I always ask, “Human?” People make me sick. Humanity is a mess.

…frustrations…2nd Sunday in June…part 3…

I write every day. Even those days when what I am writing feels as if it is destined to become a trunk piece, I write it. What’s a “trunk piece”? Well, when musical theatre writers have songs they end up cutting or not using, they tuck them away, and sometimes, later, use them (or parts of them) for other purposes or shows. They save them in the metaphorical “trunk” – and being a musical theatre nerd, I borrowed the term for my writing that ends up not being part of larger projects.plot outline

Trouble is, I’ve got this massive collection of trunk pieces and very little real product. I mean, I have one finished novel in which I can’t seem to interest an agent. I don’t think it’s perfect, but I do think it’s quite good. I say this because I’ve let some people read it, and while I admit that there have been a few people who have read it – or didn’t finish reading it – and didn’t ever comment (which sort of sucked, honestly) – the only actual “literary” person who’s read it, a professor of literature and editor, said the following:

“The stuff i loved:

* your writing style. it’s effortless. i was truly absorbed in it — an experience that’s become increasingly rare for me as i advance further in the world of “reading as forced labor.” i’d over-praise it but don’t want to gild the lily. it was just beautiful.
* the general structure. the stories are unpacked with the same kind of sloppy contained-ness of the moving boxes that crowd Libertytown — a little here, a little there, with an accidentally-packed-the-soup-ladle-with-the-linens-but-that-reminds-me.. tone. i realized there was organization but it didn’t smack in the face with its own smug tidiness. and i thought, about halfway through, that a second read would probably deepen the experience, as i could then trace how all the little through-lines are laid. just a further thought about structure: i really can’t stand novels that are tightly woven, like they were laid out using Quicken. neatly-balanced checkbooks. [inevitably written by MFAs.] i like having some debt at the end of the reading experience — for instance, the tidbit about Matthew (possibly? maybe not?) lying to his mother about Continue reading

No writing today . . .

I don’t have time to blog. I’m supposed to be turning over a finished chapter tonight and while I have pages and pages of notes and outline and pieces, I have yet to shape it into a coherent whole –

Image

it is, instead, an incoherent HOLE, down which I’ve fallen. I’m grappling my way upwards – which does not, alas, mean I am writing. Rather, I am trolling online. Tumblr. Facebook. Etc. All the while writing thousands of versions of an opening sentence. I know better. I know that my inability to Continue reading

…it’s never “hump-day” for me…

It’s hump day. Again. But not for me. Again. I don’t understand it.

Facebook Background May 8, 2013

I cook and keep house like June Cleaver. I talk about writing all the time and rarely produce anything anyone wants to read,  offend lots of friends in the process, and am always available for parties, dinners and the theatre like Truman Capote. I can toss back a cocktail and toss off an insult like Karen Walker. I can judge you and cane your ass, keep silent about my dark, mysterious, debauched and depraved Catholic, cocktail-lounge-singing past, and pray for death like Sister Jude.

What’s not to like?

My life is one after another adventure in being invisible or “the wrong one” – which is, no doubt, why I am so obsessed with the Kyle and Jimmy storyline on “SMASH.” The number of times I have been Kyle – alas, without the relief of the liaison with the headlights – is ridiculously high.

kyle & jimmy gif

So, what’s a fellow to do? I guess, like I said before, obsess on Kyle’s death (P.S. how has this post about Kyle dying on SMASH gotten so many thousands of hits?) and listen to my own personal gurus. Right? Whatever. In the meantime, I troll the web looking for laughs. Like this one from The Discipline Committee called “No Hetero.”

Happy hump day. Or, in my case, no hump day.

…happily ever after…stop believing the BIG LIES…

Here’s a revolutionary thought: Stop Believing.

I’ve been making up stories since I was a precocious little girly-boy, spending my weekends pretending the abandoned rooms of my grandfather’s collapsing home In Libertytown were the skyscrapers of Manhattan where I lived in a penthouse and was a huge Broadway musical star with whom everyone was in love.

I believed this would happen in real life. It did not. I was sad.

Congratulations. You are now a literary agent; the sole qualification being that you’ve just read a synopsis of the book I have taken to calling “Libertytown: The Unsold Novel” and I’ve not managed to interest you in reading its remaining six-hundred pages.

rejection-and-quarter

Which is a story that has made me sad. Really sad. Deliriously fucking sad. So sad that I… Continue reading