Monday, April 28, 2014

"Crumb"

-directed by Terry Zwigoff
1994
A documentary about cartoonist R. Crumb, creator of Zap Comix, Mr. Natural, and Fritz the Cat. It explores his work, life, and family (or at least those who agreed to appear). The viewer is invited to decide whether Crumb's work crossed a line between social satire and masturbatory misogyny. This is one of a tiny handful of the most rawly transformative films i've ever seen. It's a document (intentional?) on how living in this world mutilates us all, and how some internalize/rationalize/deny it less well than others. Crumb's family are a compelling example of how even intelligent people can be mutilated, and have only a hazy notion of what happened, or why. The film is also a bracing dose of anti-Hollywood reality - all the media images that pour through our brains are so relentlessly polished and homogenized (including many documentary films), that we begin to believe that's what people are really like. Seeing a film like this, with very real, very damaged people shown naturally (or as naturally as possible when cameras are rolling), one's sense of reality is turned at a disconcerting angle. You might have the urge to believe that it's a put-on...that these are circus creations, not possibly real...until you finally accept that these are the same people you've known and seen all your life, not in movies, but in your family and at work and on the street. One of the interviewed family members committed suicide within a year of filming, and it's fascinating to ponder a possible connection. Because Crumb is the subject of the film, and we live in a mythologizing culture of celebrity, you might be tempted to view him as some elevated hero (or anti-hero). But keep looking, make a conscious effort to put that filter aside, and CRUMB might just leave you dizzy, dazed, or disturbed.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

masturbation montage 6

The women i dream of, when dreams are all there is...
The following installment is a testament to the truism that there are two kinds of people in the world - those who get laid, and those who DON'T drink.
JO
A local waitress. The first time we met was beautifully non-visual. I was waiting while another employee processed my bill. She was above me on the stairs, and her hand laid against mine on the railing for a few seconds. We didn't even look at each other, but the energy was palpable. A few minutes later, after i was already halfway out the door, she said goodbye from ten feet away (though she hadn't even been my server). Our long eye contact was one of the most startlingly naked human moments i've had in a while. It felt like she was looking right into my spirit. On subsequent visits, we've talked about that and much else - she even sits at my table to chat. When i found out she's a single mother, my attitude changed. Something about shoplifting the pootie...which is probably as frustrating for single mothers as it is for well-intentioned blokes, as i'm sure not every single single mother is on 24-hour daddy lookout. Yet my caution is understandable. Plus, even though she's probably slowed down since the old days when her team came in 3rd in the national college beer pong championships (truth), our social leisure habits may not be strongly compatible.
TAM
A neighbor who gives me a nice hello when she walks her dog. That she likes me is evident. That she'd like to pluck me like a fruit on the vine seems also obvious, says my housemate. She's got a "stacked" figure and a sexuality near the surface, which is nice. She's also a millionaire, which i'd almost rather she weren't. My housemates joke about me sexing my way up Easy Street, but money poisons honesty. I'm not powerfully attracted...she smokes, wears heels, presumably drinks, perhaps flaunts her wealth, and i wouldn't be stunned to find out she didn't come by her figure naturally (she came by her money through lottery, which tells you enough about our personality difference). She's also married, which doesn't bother me ethically, except (see final entry). Despite all that, there's a spark of animal lust, and when you're experiencing the deleterious health effects of not having had sex for a year, it can be hard to maintain healthy objectivity. As a sign of how raw and dehumanized i feel, my chief idea for initiating something involves telling a lie - that i had a dream about her. It just seems the most expeditious method. I haven't used ANY form of deception in the pursuit of love or sex in uncounted years. Not unrelatedly, see the aforementioned note on how long it's been since i've actually had sex.
AJA
She works at a local store, and we've been friendly for much of the past year. We always chat, and she'll give me a playful nudge when she's not working checkout. She's got a peaceful, gentle energy that's appealing - being her lover might be (relatively, of course) uncomplicated. She's non-caucasian, which is a plus in any attraction book penned by me. I feel like i haven't been the friend to her i'm supposed to be...on one occasion, we passed each other at a distance on bike, and i know she was confused as to why i didn't come over. What's tripping me up is physical attraction - she's fat. A part of me feels she represents a spiritual hurdle i'm supposed to leap across...to give her the love she needs, free of the shackles of visual nonsense. I know i can love a woman a bit overweight and have it be a non-issue...but in this case, it's a good deal more than a bit. Nor is my hesitation just shallowness...it's also about the stunning baggage this society heaps upon sex. The burden of expectation we load onto our partners is so profound it would stagger an ox. Under such conditions (possessiveness, jealousy, "are YOU the one?"), only a masochist would become involved with anyone they're not, well, staggeringly attracted to. Actually, only a masochist would become involved with anyone at all.
SOON MI
She works at a restaurant i frequent. She's asian, and that alone is almost enough to make me throw ANY caution to the wind - i am long past tired of the almost-consummated asian loves i've had. She has a lovely family (husband included). I've had wonderful interactions with her children. Her accent is strong and her english needs work, but she's smart and funny...and for the better part of a year, there have been little moments between us...hand-brushing contacts, sorta-clumsy words almost revealing our desire. She's a bit out of shape, but i would tear her up (metaphorically, that is). The ethical conflict is keen...the "do no damage" imperative i've always lived by, doing battle with the social revolutionary. Marital monogamy is one of our greatest social ills, and a part of me wants to finally step over that line with blazing intent and beauty. And yet, and yet, and yet...no damage no damage no damage whispers in my brain...hm, maybe she and her husband have an "evolved" relationship?
On how many levels would this life be easier if i drank? Throw a little mutual inebriation into the mix, and would one (or more) of these women already be loving me?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

dear jo

Dear jo,
It's taken me a while to share these thoughts with you, because i was embarrassed you could make such a profound impression on me when we first met, but then a day or two later i didn't recognize you.
I think i finally understand why.
It's because when we met, those three or four seconds when you stared at me, you were really THERE. The next time i saw you, you weren't. Don't feel bad - we all go through our whole lives hardly ever being THERE (or seeing anyone who is). We're always partly lost in insecurity, fear, the future, the past...never really 100% present. When someone is actually THERE, it's stunning, almost disturbing. When two or more people are THERE at the same time, it's one of the most beautiful things you'll ever experience. If you've had a taste of it, you spend the rest of your life subconsciously searching for it.
There are very few contexts in which it happens naturally. Probably most mothers looking at their newborn child are THERE (enjoy it mothers, it won't last). Perhaps a few eastern mystics and New Mexico hippies know how to be THERE whenever they damn well please. And lovers in the third hormonal phase of falling in love (deep attachment) are probably THERE a good deal. Nature has constructed us that way, to make us want to fall in love again and again (nature wants babies, and nature is still much, much smarter than we). Sadly, in this bizarre culture of emotional isolation, that "in love" allure gets blown out of proportion.
Otherwise, being THERE happens on very rare occasions, when for some bizarre reason perhaps related to mysterious connections to the energy fields of the people around us, our walls drop away and THERE WE ARE. Those moments don't last long, for as i've said, they can be disturbing, almost frightening (to others and ourselves).
When our moment happened, i was dumbstruck by your beauty, Jo. Anyone who is even a tiny bit emotionally alive would have been - it was the beauty that's in us all, waiting to be free. I don't know whether you were conscious of what you were doing...actually looking at me. I don't feel so bad about not recognizing you the following time. If you have any idea how you did it, and you want me to follow you around like a puppy, look at me like that again sometime.
lovingly,
wrob

Sunday, April 20, 2014

A3

WOMEN 84
(A follow-up to WOMEN 57, 74 -
http://nakedmeadow.blogspot.com/2011/02/blog-post.html
http://nakedmeadow.blogspot.com/2013/04/a2.html)

After that seminal visit, things quieted down. I remained a thousand-some miles away, enjoying a nice visit every couple years or so. We shared e-mails and occasional calls. Finally, she and E hadn’t had sex in years, and the stress was diminishing them both. I was sad when i heard she finally left, though i knew her reasons made all the sense in the world. They stayed close, sharing custody of V, with E happily taking the lion’s share. He remained cloaked in misery for a long, long time. We shared one or two phone calls in which he cried. I loved him, and knew he wouldn’t release his white picket dream until he was ready. Did i think that events were moving toward she and i being lovers? Yes, particularly when she called and told me about lying naked on the Gulf shore on her stomach, as the waves caressed her. She said it was startlingly sexual, and looked forward to having me there with her. But given how paralyzed i was at the thought of doing anything destructive, i was actually happy when i learned she’d taken a lover. Good…i didn’t think there was any way for me to be her first post-E love, that wouldn’t go badly. Also, i was glad to know she hadn’t built me up as the man she had to run to when she was free (even though a part of me wanted that). Finally, she made an offer of which i’d long dreamt…would i come live with her during the last month of her lease? We decided to rehearse a two-person play of mine, then produce it back in New York. At that point in my life, i’d spiraled into a wounded place. In an effort to better understand my own human nature, i’d opened my emotional walls further and further…so much so that i’d had a hard time dealing with the stress of loneliness, plus the staggering amounts of fear and aggression that permeate this world. I’d even fallen into mild clinical depression. I hadn’t had a lover in years with whom my spirit had been entirely present…a horrible, soul-sucking feeling. Our society’s dysfunctional treatment of romance had added fuel to my depression. The needs we expect our lover to fill, the possessiveness (like E)…things that no relationship should ever be forced to bear. It had gotten to a point where i wasn’t sure i’d ever feel totally present as a lover again. And worse, i wasn’t sure i could pull myself out of the darkness i’d walked into. I knew what i needed – to be stress-free, loved and held, in a life full of laughter and (sexual) healing. One name rang out – A. Even if the time wasn’t right for all of those things, the presence of just one would probably do more for me than all my healing failures in the cold city. To finally have the time we’d denied ourselves, to discover each other…a thousand conversations, a thousand silences…if we could have but the spirit part, the rest would be almost inconsequential. Not that i didn’t want it all - when you’re wounded, you become feral. Would my bloodied psyche propel me beyond the risk of damage to E? If she wanted me in any way, i doubted i had the word “no” in me. Perhaps my recklessness was also fueled by a sadness i’d long carried, in the knowledge that my choice to love them both meant i might lose them both. That choice had been forced the moment she’d become pregnant. I already loved him, so backing out wasn’t something i even considered. But i knew that their time as a couple would end…at which point he would either shun me for becoming her lover, or i would become the elephant in the room (Splitting couples divvy up possessions and friends, but how to divide me?). Having a child meant they’d always be connected, so they might both abandon me, as the only way to resolve the discomfort. I’d lived with that for a decade. In the meantime, she was having stress with her new lover J…she’d found him in flagrante with another woman, and reacted with jealous anger. I knew she must be horribly conflicted, because her view of romance had been evolving in the same way as mine - a denial of the monogamous paradigm (she had shared my dream of being her “co-husband”). So i imagined that i was perfect for her now…not seeking to replace, but supplement. A refuge of love and acceptance, wherein i not only tolerated her other lovers, but encouraged them. To live either with her, or close by. The wounded beast in me said, “Enough nonsense, A, you’re ready. Your romantic history has been comprised of a whole bunch of selfish idiots and a tiny handful of selfish good guys. You’re past ready for something better.” It seemed a fair bet however, that she and J were in the attachment phase of hormonal love. Combine that with jealousy, and i knew her thoughts would be obsessional. Yet too, there were other factors pushing me toward Florida. My mom had retired, and lived close to my nutty Aunt Joyce. The chance to spend a chunk of time around them was not something i wanted to take for granted. And i’d always felt more peaceful and happy around warmth and water. So i knew i’d be going regardless…but knew too that A was in the center of my healing dreams. Shortly before i left, i had to change my e-mail password, and was able to resist the impulse to incorporate her name into the new word – reminding myself that investing too much of one’s happiness into one person was the key relational pitfall in this society. Plus, i sensed that her stability was iffy. In the month or two before i moved, she started not responding to some e-mails. My old self would have called her on it, but i was too wounded to care. She’d mentioned before that ours was her oldest friendship (in a later moment of gallows humor, i reflected that this was due perhaps in no small part to the fact that i’d never asked for anything). Yet i knew she’d come so far in terms of loving herself, and others. Is it possible i was rushing all this? Was there some part of me willing to herald a new era, simply because the thought of us finally becoming intimate when i was, oh, seventy, didn’t appeal to me? Sure. Mind you, i wasn’t taking our attraction for granted – it had been a long time since the heights of my attachment. But i had long joked that i’d been in love three times in my life…and two of them were named A. All the wisdom and skill i’d cultivated as a lover, had never yet been fully realized. I knew that if i could find a partner with whom the spiritual and sexual merged, we would share something beyond anything we’d known. I knew that loving her selflessly was almost second nature. She had summoned - i would go. I wanted our spirit time. Massages and music. I wanted her to be the first person i ran to when i’d written something that felt beautiful or important. Even in my wounded state, i knew that the core of my devotion remained unbroken – a core that had always been measured by the mantra “There Is No Reward”. Finally, i arrived at her door. It was sweet at first…beyond sweet, though her darkness was palpable. Being around her made me feel like a puppy, and there were moments when her spirit almost poked through. She talked about wanting to move with me to the home i had waiting across town. I met J, and could feel the damage they were doing to each other. He seemed a friendly person of some potential, but less evolved than she. And i didn’t need her to tell me that he was uncomfortable with my presence. I thought that might be healthy - bring them closer to the balance they’d lost. A was busy. I soon realized i might stand a greater chance of sharing time with her if i were anywhere but her home. In the two weeks i was there, she slept at home four times (half of those with other guests around). She told me she’d never been able to “own” that home, spiritually. But i didn’t doubt that her absences had a little to do with not knowing what to do with me. Particularly revealing was the toe story. I broke some toes in a ballgame accident. They turned darker and darker over the next few days…but she never once asked to look at them. I even joked about the possibility that my injury had happened because of a subconscious need to be taken care of. Undercurrents aside, that first week culminated in one of the sweeter days of my life. We took a long bike ride to Lakes Park. Sharing her space was wonderful. She told me that all those years ago, when i’d cast her as a romantic lead opposite me, she was sure i’d intended to get in her pants. She laughed at the memory, and once again it seemed that she really understood me, like few people ever had. That week, i also found something i’d no longer been sure was possible – significant, measurable healing. For most of my life, i’d always been able to lay my head down and wake up happily eight hours later, but i’d slept restlessly the past year, with occasional insomnia. That week? I slept through the night, every night. Being naked a lot helped…spending most of my days alone in tropical warmth, i had more naked time than the previous year combined. I was gentle and supportive with her, the very picture of non-demanding. Part of her darkness included E and V, wondering whether it were unforgivably selfish to not return. In general, whenever we came together, i sent my hopes off into some other reality. I knew she was starting to feel awful about ignoring me, but i told her to go through whatever she had to. She knew my hopes, as i’d been completely open. She shied away from intimacy, though. I understood why we weren’t having monkey sex, but was less clear on why there was no holding. One day, she suddenly cried, telling me that this was what always happened - she disappointed people. I told her that that kind of expectation/recrimination was NOT what was happening…that her hurtful experiences were at least as much about other people loving her badly, and that she didn’t need to enact a disappointment drama with me. She asked what she could do. I said just hug me once a day. How revealing, and poignant. Here were two relatively evolved people, one of them reaching out for the most basic human kindness…and in retrospect, it felt like begging for table scraps. I felt no blame or anger – i’d told her repeatedly that i understood her darkness. And there were nods toward the past, and possibility. One night before going out, she gently brought our lips together. So beautiful. I remained perfectly still and accepting. Another night when she was leaving (sense a pattern?), she came into my room. I was naked, face down on my bed. She had oil, and started rubbing. She remarked on my cute tush, and regretted that she wasn’t more massage-skilled. I told her she had the right energy to be as wonderful as anyone. She whispered, “This is just the beginning.” On our park day, we showered after biking home. She remarked on a sign she’d seen that said “save water – shower together”. It was the one moment when the wounded beast in me came closest to the surface. I considered tossing her in and giving her the scrub of a lifetime. But how much of her desire was just emotional flailing? The day i left, she called to say she wanted to visit my new home that night. It was like water in the desert (never mind that i had to tell her i wouldn’t be there, and that she ended up not visiting for a month or two). Another night, after going out, she said she’d gotten to J’s and almost turned around. Her words implied that it would have been a momentous dissolving...and that she’d wanted to come back to ME. She asked whether i were rooting for one course or the other with them. I truthfully told her i was manifesting the correct spiritual choice, which was to love them both and root for neither path. Was i still attracted? Oh, yes. In good moments, her spirit had fewer rough edges, and her life had also become more athletic. Back when i first fell in love, i remember a friend commenting on her “beer ankles”…such a strange phrase i couldn’t forget it. There were no beer ankles now. Indeed, there were moments when i had trouble pulling my eyes away from her hips, draped by summer skirts. I did allow myself to be more openly sexual…not flirting, but having no compunction about talking of myself as a sexual being. During our second week, i experienced one of the most startling sexual moments of my life. I woke up well before dawn, restless and aroused. I masturbated for an hour or two, on the brink of orgasm the whole time. My room door was open. I was feeling so damaged and feral, that i determined to not stop until she left for work…in effect, inviting her to look in on me at my most primal. I had been so herculeanly in control of all my desires, sexually and spiritually, for so long…there must have been an incalculably huge THIS IS ME that had lain dormant and denied. I was beyond caring whether it were impolite. Just before she left, the thing happened. Her footsteps seemed to turn in my direction. It was as if i could feel each of her padding steps vibrate through me in a way that was measurable on the Richter scale…like her feet were treading across my every nerve ending. The beast in me was paralyzed, and on her seventh step my control burst into an orgasm (an even more primal image than i’d planned). But my hearing had tricked me - her turn toward my door had only been in my head. As our second week began, i could feel that not only was i not alleviating her misery, i was making it worse. I decided to hold on for a few more days, partly from the senseless hope that she might pull out of her hole, and because she’d invited me to share a social gathering with her new teacher friends. That night, i instantly felt that these friends were better for her than any group i’d ever seen her with. The only time i’d been prouder was in how she’d loved E. I spent that second week deeply invested in the spiritual practice of selflessness…trying to make myself almost literally disappear in plain sight. Selflessness is probably the most unachievable spirit goal of all. Never mind how daunting the practice is in a society fundamentally constructed on its opposite, it also fails if ANYONE PERCEIVES what you’re trying to do. Give that a try sometime. There was but one moment when i felt shame – she mentioned how she’d liked it when E let his beard grow, so i stopped shaving (it soon felt like an unforgivably selfish manipulation). I had an occasional impulse toward self-pity (the working title for this memoir was “Caught Being Selfish”). On my last day, i tried to leave while she was out (to avoid the chance for her to have no idea what to say). Even with all my awareness, however, there may have been no way to prepare for the damage to come. I can encapsulate it in one fact – within a week i went from living with her, to not knowing where she lived. In our time together and the months that followed, knowing that i’d come to Florida broken and wounded, she never once came to me and said, “Hey…you want to talk about that?” I settled into my new home. The first time she accidentally saw the outside, it was patently obvious she had no desire to come in. I felt deathly unloved. During another accidental meeting, i’d just found out that one of my dearest friends had died. She asked whether i wanted to be alone. I said no, not at all. She didn’t visit or call – and i was almost too numb to be surprised. During our second week, my poor sleep had returned…as did the occasional stomach-sickened feeling that had been the other most obvious manifestation of my stress. I soon learned that she was drinking a great deal, like she hadn’t since before V was born (my gallows irony made me smile, as she was turning to drugs to escape from sexuality’s hormonal drugs). The first words she spoke to me after i left came when we chanced to meet on top of a bridge. I asked if she were ready, after all these years, to be full and true friends. If i hadn’t come to Florida so wounded, i probably wouldn’t have been so foolish as to ask. But i did, and she said “yes”. The genie left the bottle - her actions were now measurable against real friendship. And she crucified me. The only thing i asked was that i not become someone she didn’t talk to…but that entire year, we never shared one single real conversation. In another fleeting meeting, she told me she’d believed i’d had expectations. Had i been more sharp, would i have been able to keep her from making such a calamitous judgment error? Did she even actually believe it? Early in my stay, she’d asked dead-on whether i had expectations. I told her no, unequivocally. How her brain turned me into a liar, or lacking in self-awareness…if her suspicion were true, i would have been guilty of betraying everything i’d tried to be for her, for most of my adult life. Beyond that, if she’d taken the time to talk to me, she’d have known that people this wounded generally don’t live in ANY kind of expectation – we’re barely capable of hope. She was coherent enough to be aware she’d acted badly. She spoke a handful of emotional words of apology, and of making amends. Just words. Later, she said she wanted us to “start over”. When i asked her to explain, she seemed angry that i didn’t understand. It took me a couple months to realize she meant that she didn’t ever want to talk about what had happened. I knew that there are moments for a “start over”…but that ours didn’t qualify. We were in no sort of balance, and hadn’t processed anything. Treating someone awfully, then ignoring it, is just cowardice. Another time, she said that she wasn’t the same person, and i didn’t know her. I tried to point out that that’s exactly what I’D pointed out…that we’d never yet known each other in a daily, intimate way. She offered no context for her comments, and i sensed she said them only because, when unexpectedly faced with me, she felt she had to say something. When i finally knew again where she lived, i very occasionally dropped by with a book gift or some fresh coconut. But she didn’t want my company. In one tiny moment of peering out from behind her walls, she said that she’d never really let anyone into her life. I was glad that at least she knew that much. She placed a “clothing optional” sign outside her new home. I gently chided her (too gently?) for her considerable cojones, as one day when i was staying with her she came home, found me naked, and asked me to put something on, as J mightn’t be happy to find me in that state. Knowing how much she and i adored nudism, that was the only moment i was tempted to say something biting, like how she was letting pedophilia take over her life. I didn’t, because i knew she knew she was being a shitheel. But i’m pretty sure she never grasped the true scope of her hurtfulness. Her moment of apology was only for the time we’d lived together. She didn’t seem to understand that during that time, we hadn’t declared our full friendship. It was only after she affirmed that, that the mindfuck began. The neglect and cruelty that followed was sweeping. I’d never had my human worth so utterly negated and denigrated. Occasionally the whispered words “Omigod, she HATES me” escaped my lips. On the lighter side, one of our chance bridge encounters provided one of the more perversely funny moments of my life. I saw a bicyclist approach from the opposite direction, and there was something about her i found attractive. I’m a little nearsighted, and was prepared to give this stranger some meaningful eye contact…only to suddenly realize it was A! I got the gallows humor immediately - after all those years and deflected moments when she’d invited me to initiate something sexual, the one time i almost made a pass at her was when i thought she was someone else! Where i come from, that’s pretty fucking funny. My head spun into oft-irrational darkness…the thought that perhaps she subconsciously felt she could never love me until she’d hurt me…or that i'd been a simple pawn in her love life, or that her goal all along had been to take me out of her life (and E’s and V’s). What seemed undeniable was that she banished me to make J happy (never mind that in doing so she was inviting him to treat her like a doormat). I began to hope she wouldn’t be home when i dropped off my occasional gifts…just approaching her house started to make my stomach feel bad. I even imagined hurting her emotionally, to shake her out of her funk. I imagined leaving town without telling her. That wasn’t all martyrish…i truly didn’t want to make her stand before me again with no idea what to say. After a year of waiting for some tiny glimmer of compassion, i finally wrote her asking to be treated like a human being, or admit she’d felt pressured on that bridge into saying something she didn’t mean. She wrote back that she “didn’t know how to communicate” with me…in effect saying that she’d left me dangling in expectation for a year, when she could have freed me with a few kind words of dismissal at any one of a thousand points. I suddenly realized that my leaving town might not have even registered in her mind. The fact that all this happened when i was at my most wounded, was…singular and regrettable. Certainly my feelings for her had been colored early on by sweeping hormones. Was my love in any way selfish? Did i love the “idea” of her, and the image my life would project with her loving me? A little, yes. But i fought to hold on to the underlying truth…that from the start i had recognized her damage, and knew the kind of love she needed…not as a lover, but as a friend and human. And i knew i’d never failed in denying my own wants and needs, for her. My own life’s choices had made me an undesirable mate for the vast majority - how many women would be eager to cherish a non-monogamous non-materialist? From that limited pool, how many could make me feel like a puppy? It’s probably no exaggeration to think that A was one in a million – by far the most “sensible” potential lover i’d ever known. I’d been ready to give myself unqualifiedly. She had herpes? Fine. The one friend of hers i talked with in those first months, urged me to confront her…demand she start loving herself, and maybe me too. I felt echoes of another A friend from another decade, urging me to reveal my love. But even if my battered spirit had had any taste for confrontation, i felt i had to rely on the possibility that i understood her better than anyone. So i continued protecting her as much as i could, even from herself – i only wrote very occasional, brief notes of love and encouragement, avoiding anything that might require an answer. I never told her about my public speaking engagements, so she wouldn’t feel any burden of friendship. As the months went by, i went through stages of separation. The first thing i lost (which was probably healthy) was the fear of losing her. Then i became comfortable with the thought of never seeing her again (essential to that was the thought of her never reading this). The final stage was losing the fear of what she might become without me. Even buffered by my awareness that anything coming out her mouth was a reflection of crippled self-love, her “expectations” comment was the most hurtful thing anyone had ever said to me. For almost fifteen years, i’d measured my life by how well i loved her. If that sounds heavy, it’s not. I equated love with selflessness, and A was my touchstone, because i knew if i could love her the way i ought, anything else would be easy. It was sometimes hard to make people understand that romance wasn’t the reason i’d come. I’d come for a friendship deeper than either of us had ever known. Sex fades (although maybe just maybe, if treated healthily, it doesn’t have to). It’s a fair bet that you’ve never seen, or even imagined, a healthy sexual relationship. A had imagined it. I had every hope that she would get there. How could she treat me the way she did, when all i’d offered was kindness with no expectation? I’m sure part of it was the realization that this was perhaps the worst time in her life to have someone around who could “see” her. She was entering the dating pool for the first time in a decade, self-conscious over breasts that had lost their pre-motherhood perk. She had hooked into a lover half a generation younger who flattered her vanity, gave her good sex, and couldn’t challenge her on a spiritual level. Be truthful – wouldn’t some of you throw your oldest friend under the bus for that? At least it’s understandable. What’s not so understandable is the degrading mindfuck, when the infinitely kinder dismissal was always at hand. The best guess i can offer is the knowledge that how we treat others, is a reflection of how we treat ourselves…so she must have been in unspoken worlds of pain – possibly even disconnected from her actions and their consequences (Or do i just say that to avoid the more awful possibility?). In those few mawkish notes at the end of the year, it was as if illogic and hurtfulness were the only possible result of her mouth opening. I asked one thing of her, thinking it might be vital to both our healings. If she’d been able to notice, she might have realized it was the first (and only) thing i'd ever asked of her. I said that if she couldn’t talk to me, would she listen while i tell her of my emotional journey? She declined, implying that my “heavy” energy was inappropriate to her life. I had to smile, as i’d come to her that year with all the heaviness of a feather (for her, anyway)…and that hadn’t worked too well either. I learned what i’d already known – that in this broken world, it’s possible to do everything right and still be savaged. That’s no surprise, but the more disturbing thought is that if i’d acted selfishly, i’d have actually gotten at least a little of the love i’d needed. Part of me is grateful i didn’t lower myself to the level of all the inhumanity around me, and betray one of my core understandings – you can’t make love when your spirits aren’t fully present. And yet…the wounded beast in me was so tired. The brutal, barbarian beat goes on

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Hotel

STAGE/SCREEN 77
-fall 2006
The lot of the big city actor trying to get work involves so many semi-acting jobs and almost-acting jobs. I didn’t take as many of these as others might - my motivations were already something far less needy than fame & fortune. For me these jobs were to experience first-hand the “dues” of an actor’s life, keep food in my belly, and have fun. I worked the streets with a bunch of model/actors dressed as fisherpeople, passing out free newspapers. I did a solo gig at a private party in a tarzan suit (i.e. homosexual eye candy), passing out hors d'oeuvres. I worked a holiday office party as an Elvis impersonator...no full numbers, just being a fun presence. How committed an actor am i? I did a couple of those overhead, from-the-bottle alcohol shots (even though i hadn't had a full drink in a decade or two). My concerns about becoming impaired quickly faded, as i realized that the office bigwigs (or caterers) had arranged for the "alcohol" to be heavily watered. I was a cleaver-wielding mad scientist for an MTV2 Halloween movie marathon commercial. I was among a group of fifty “skinny santas” for some fancy store (Brookstone?) in Rockefeller Center, promoting some asinine massage belt product. I did a slew of mascot gigs (Sponge Bob, baby monkey, Spiderman). I was a wrestling patsy in semi-nude female-domination videos (BEST...JOB...EVER). I was “Adam” for a muffin company at a Javitz Center food show, freezing my ass off with Eve (they gave us each a tiny space heater, meaning that there was one 6”x6” section of our bodies kept warm). I was a buzz-cut, sunglass-bedecked astronaut at a business expo for a start-up company from one of the losers of THE APPRENTICE. I’m probably forgetting a couple (including one where the co-worker i bonded with most was a very sweet ex-WNBA player). Each of these gigs was silly, wonderful fun in some way (okay, maybe not the newspaper one so much). And then there were the “real” jobs, some of which are less-remembered because they go by quickly (and perhaps the producers fail to mail out a copy of the film). One such was HOTEL, a short film about the bizarre goings-on in the life of a struggling hotel manager. I played a cat burglar who took advantage of the distractions, to raid the suites. We filmed over several days in Queens. I honestly can’t remember whether i had any lines, but there was plenty of screen time. We had home scenes, eating with my dour parents and lifting weights alone in my room. There were shots in corridors, stairwells, and a garage. It was a delight, then it was done. Actors are generally so friendly and extroverted, there's often the sense that if there had been just one more day of shooting, the person you bonded with most might have become a real friend. And maybe sometimes they might have...but the fact that it rarely happens has to mean something. Perhaps it's the charm of serial novelty, and a bizarre sense of comfort in becoming instantly intimate with people you'll likely never see again. That might be colored by the competitiveness that plagues the theater world (which fosters buried feelings of mistrust and ill will among fellow performers), but there's something deeper, something about the oft-subconscious anti-social tendencies inherent in any society as self-centered and cold as the one we all call home. I'd like to think i'm less drawn to that than others, but it's likely that no one's entirely immune.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

irene's vision

On this date, Irene Capp of planet Earth had a vision that the missing plane is in a hangar in Malaysia. She wanted me to tell you.