BLATHERINGS

Suddenly you find- at age fifty, say
that a whole new life has opened before
you… as if a fresh sap of ideas
and thoughts was rising in you.

Agatha Christie

Blathering

Spent the day at the Center on Halsted and am late beginning today’s (at least an hour) entry. At the moment, to keep building my real life contacts is somewhat more important than sitting in front of the computer pretending I have something worth saying, pretending I’m a writer, or so it seems to me, presently.

The question of religion has come up with a few of my friends on Facebook. I need to clarify my position on the subject. Perhaps the first thing I should say is that I wish I could believe in a higher order. I was raised Catholic, and have a great affection for the Catholic liturgy, especially in the days when the priest faced away from the congregation, part of it, yet, somehow, as the idea of priest has always been, even in the so-called pagan religions, a person entrusted to represent the congregation when offering sacrifice. In the days before Vatican II, that’s what the Mass was, a mystical, bloodless sacrifice, based on the events surrounding Calvary and The Resurrection. After Vatican II, it became a shared meal, with the priest facing the congregation like a host at a dinner party.

One special note about the liturgy. I especially loved the old Requiem Mass. All those candles, all that sprinkling of holy water, all that wafting of incense- you just knew, as that casket was being wheeled out of the Church it was going straight to Heaven!

But I outgrew the emotional symbolism in both its forms. In fact, I outgrew the idea of God, at least in the way we creatures describe it. Because this is stream of consciousness writing, everything I say is going to be confused, off the cuff, disjointed. Stream of consciousness writing is like rattling around a pantry looking for what’s there, and how you can use it in the recipe.

Emotionally, I want to believe in a God, and to a certain extent, intellectually as well. All things have a beginning, all things are the result of something that happened before, until you arrive at a First Cause, a Cause that has no cause, but is. It’s more romantic to think of that First Cause as a caring, planning person, than as a result of mathematics. There is room to believe, if a God is a person, that it can be appealed to, that what you see as errors, like a crippling disease, can be changed by appealing to the Person, engaging its compassion. You don’t get that warm, fuzzy feeling of hope if that First Cause is just a mathematic equation. My nature, as an emotional human being, demands the certainty of the beginning as a loving plan. My nature as a thinking human being demanding evidence over Faith, does not allow me the luxury of warm, fuzziness.

Egostistically, I want to believe in a Person as God, because it means I wasn’t an accident, but a deliberate plan that is destined to live forever with/in it, forever. There is also a part of me that sudders at the idea of forever. Once, during fourth grade catechism, the nun said something to the effect that if we died in grace, we would get to spend eternity with God, singing his praises. She did not like my asking, “but what if I don’t wan’t to do that, forever? Even at nine, the little questioning heretic was pushing forward.

**********

Today’s discussion, at the Center, was about the process of aging in America. We talked about the aged being scammed, being abused, being ignored, being treated like children. We talked about how easy it is, for an aged person, to become isolated, through neglect, fear, ignorance of/by a society that is geared for the young, the quick. I brought up the special factor gay people faced as seniors, i.e., that of being gay- I did not get to mention one of the by-products of that factor was that many gay people went back into the closet, finding it easier to deal with a larger world that may not understand, and/or, even hate gay people. Gay elders have less of a mutual support system than the young.

I don’t know that our discussions at the Center solve anything. But maybe the value of the discussions is not in soloutions, but in the understanding that you are not alone. Most times, that feels like enough.

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To have that sense of one’s intrinsic
worth, which constitutes self-respect,
is potentially to have everything.

Joan Didion

After watching Zeitgeist

I watched a movie, Zeitgeist, produced and directed by a Peter Joseph in 2007, on You Tube, this morning. While I had no particular problem with the first part, seeing as it agreed with my general knowledge about the history of religions, the second and third parts scared the hell out of me. I looked up some comments made about the movie and found most of them to declare that it was, by and large, agitprop, and as with most agitprop propositions, devoid of any credible referential information. Now I’m all asea about the credability of the first part. This is not say that I have changed my opinion about the existance of a god, but I’m surely not going to use most of the arguments the documentary presented as proof of my opinion.

The second and third parts dealt with the idea of “a business cabal” to make a one-world system (shades of Free-masonry) controlled and answerable only to them.

One of their points was that business keeps the world in turmoil by fostering wars. Wars generate wealth for those who supply both sides. Based on my own experience of living in a country that has, except for a short period after the Korean War, been at war with somebody, for as long as I can remember. By and large, they haven’t been declared wars, but the destruction of lives and property has been the same. And many wars have been presented to the man-in-the-street as necessary, through lies (The Gulf of Tonkin, or the more recent invasion of Iraq, e.g.)

American opinion is swayed by both too little information, and too much information. The government is too non-transparent regarding its motives, way too often lying to the public, and the internet is too full of information, not all of it credible, and it’s hard to separate the wheat from the chaff, to use an old New Testament metaphor.

The largest problem, however, is the disinterest of the man in the street. They want more to be entertained than they want to bother about things that directly affect and effect their lives. I’m betting that more people tuned in to the Golden Globes, the other night, than they will the coming State of the Union Address. America is doomed because of its disinterest in the whys and hows of government. Their disinterest is clear just in the kind of people they pick to represent their interests. Nobody’s from Missouri, anymore.

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It’s a dry Sunday, intellectually-

Work while you have the light.
You are resonsible for the talent
that has been entrusted to you
                                      Henri Frederick Amiel

It’s a dry Sunday, intellectually-

I need to say, first and upfront, that I am not an economist. I don’t understand money. What I do understand is the results of what I see in the actual, rather than the theorhetical circumstances around me. It is by way of these actual circumstances that I say the following.

A country’s greatest assest is it’s citizenry. When that citizenry is provided with both physical safety and means by which, as it is written in the Constitution to the United States, the general welfare is promoted, the country prospers.

As well as being a country’s greatest asset, the citizenry are also the greatest investment a country can undertake. That investment, in my thinking, is providing a means towards basic food and shelter, insuring basic health care, and providing its citizens full and free rights to education. When private investments can’t, or won’t, the government needs to fill in the gap.

We live in a country that has scores of abandoned houses and scores of homeless persons, including children. We tolerate this. We live in a country where being ill can bankrupt you even if you have private insurance. And the private insurance companies don’t care about the health of anything but their bottom line. We live in a country in which students have to mortgage their future to get an education. We live in a country where people work two jobs and still need food stamps because companies don’t pay a living wage. We live in a country where it is more important to own an automatic assult rifle than it it to feed hungry children.

I’ll be voting Bernie Sanders, come the primary.

This posting sucks, but I’ve done my hour and my mind is dry.

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A Regurgitation Entry

You are the one and only ever you. Nancy Tilman

A Regurgitation Entry

The thing that happens, when one does not get to what needs to be done, immediately, is that it becomes harder to do as a deadline approaches. I’ve been very good with these entries, this past week. I’ve put aside an hour a day for just writing, and have written, not well, but written. Today, because it was a Saturday, and because I was feeling quite proud of myself, I put off the writing until now (6:33p.m), and I’m going to have to write with thinking, without consideration of what I want to talk about. See why I say procrastination is my middle name.

My friend from the center, Eric, got some bad news over the holidays. His partner, who just proposed to him a few weeks back, has now said he wants to end the relationship. The fact that he, the partner, saved this announcement for the holidays is as big a shock, to me, as was the fact of the break-up.

I suspect that Tim wants to break up as a result of his proposal. I think he became overwhelmed by the committment the proposal implied, and knowing no way out, decided to end the relationship. Why he proposed, if he was that unsure, is the question. Also, what amount of pride would it have taken to rescind the proposal, explaining his unease over the seeming finality of the proposal, and letting things return to “as they were” until he was more comfortable?

This reminds me of the story my sister told me about her first wedding. She wanted to bolt, even the day of the wedding, but my father, pleading another “What will the neighbors think” pronouncement, and adding how much he had spent getting this wedding going, coerced her into going through with the ceremony. The only good thing that came of this was the birth of my nephew, and she doesn’t get to share in that because he doesn’t speak to her.

My sister left the marriage after a few years because her first husband was abusive. Just so as to have nothing to do with him, anymore, she surrendered custody of her son to her husband, and my parents, by and large raised him. I don’t know if my sister contributed anything to her son’s upkeep, while he was growing up. I do know he never saw her, again, until he was an adult, and then, only once. After that, he pledged me to keep silent about him to my sister. I agreed because it was the only way, after my parents’ deaths I could stay in touch with what was going on with him. I still am in touch, to this day.

My brother is also estranged from his son. I don’t think he’s even seen the grandson. Facebook is largely the way I stay in touch with that nephew.

Me? I’m mad at nobody. I’ll talk to all the relatives, even the annoying right-wings cousins. I don’t have to agree with my relatives to talk to them. They’re family. However, family doesn’t seem to be an idea that matters, in the rest of the family.

It’s not just a one-side situation, either. My mother died not having talked to her brother for twenty-five years over a piece of furniture left him by their aunt. I think it was more involved, financially, than that, however. I learned, recently, that the aunt in question left the bulk of her sizeable estate to my uncle. Of course, he was the only surviving sibling who helped her during her dotage years. I don’t think my mother had even phoned her aunt for at least 30 years before her death. Why she expected to be remembered more than she was, is a mystery to me.

I’m going to title this A Regurgitation Entry. It’s just words thrown up out of my mind to honor a private, personal, pledge to write at least one hour every day for as long as I can keep it up. It’s not a New Year’s resolution, I have trouble keeping those; this is just a pledge. (That last sentence will make no sense to anyone but me.) Tomorrow, I’ll try not to tempt my natural sloth and begin my writing earlier, before all the distractions set fully in.

My weekly session with my psych went well, although I was as random and purposeless as I am being here. These sessions, Eric’s visits, plus my visits to the Center keep me partially balanced. Add to that, my Facebook activity, and I remain practically sane.

The yearly health department visits are imminent, so the staff, here, is tense-walking on eggs. Once it’s over, the tension, at least that part of it that’s due to the threat of the visit, will dissipate. Of course, that’s only if we pass the inspection, but we always have.

As regards today’s header about being the one and only me- Every now and then I do wish I were someone else. Those nows and thens, I’m usually bored to tears with myself.

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Old Fogie Speak

Old Fogie Speak.

If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship,
don’t ask what seat, just get on.
Sheryl Sandberg

A shoutout to Robin Kimble, whose picture and post prompted this entry.

Monkey Bars

The Monkey Bars: Weren’t they great? Sometimes, you fell down, scraped a knee, or something. Sometimes you even bumped your head, a little. You cried ouch, shed a tear or two and then got back on the damn thing.

Sometimes, somebody broke something and had it set, and walked around with a cast like wearing it like a medal, and got ice cream for being brave.

I’m going to speak wearing my old-fogie hat. There was a time when adults didn’t mix in child’s play, much. There were no supervised play dates, no choosing a child’s play companions on the outside. Of course, if child invited a friend over to the house to play, the clumsy kids were relegated to the back yard, with only access to the bathroom, when necessary, allowed. If during play, the child needed a drink, it got it in a cup so heavy an atom bomb couldn’t have shattered it, or later, tupperware. For sibling play in the home, the only restrictions were don’t tease the dog, and don’t wake your father.

A kid fell down, the adult bandaged the knee and sent them back out. In the summer, kids only came home for lunch, and when the street lamps came on. Now, greed owns the playground and the backyard, and any play space not your own. Today, we look for reasons to sue; we sue over hangnails.

Little League, (the grandparent of play-dates) the beginning of the end of this halycon existence learning about life, was a suburban thing. In the city, this kid had a bat, this and that kid had a softball and/or gloves. You went to the park and played ball, arguing over rules and regulations almost more than you played. You learned how to negotiate rather than obey higher expertise.

It all looked like fun, and mostly it was, but play was also about learning that life wasn’t all lollipops, and winning. It was about learning how to deal with the bad and the good. It was about learning how to win, how to lose, and how to deal and live with both. Losing often encouraged trying harder, making deeper committments.

Despite my use, earlier, of the word halcyon, there were moments of darkness amidst the light. For example, the problem of bullies. I know that bullies have always been and always will be, but I will admit today’s brand seems more vicious, more given to a kind of invisible presence, which is allowed, even fostered, given today’s technology.

Bullies, in my time, always had a group of scyophants around to admire their bullying. Not the “butchest” of boys. I had to learn how to protect myself. With Bugs Bunny as my role model, I learned to turn most attempts to humilate me on their heads; sarcasm and ridicule made the bully the butt, not me, and they lost face among their friends. Bullies do not like losing face. Gay people, especially men, learn to use the weapons of sarcasm and ridicule very early. Practice makes perfect, and not to add to a sterotype, but this is why most adult gay men are very good at this kind of humor. Others were not so lucky. .

All considered, my generation of kid had both less and more. I think I understand a little of how our more was lost, but that will have to wait for another post.

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Craig- A Romance

If we don’t believe the things we put on our agendas will come true for us, then there is no hope for us…We’ve got to believe in our beautiful impossible blueprints.    

                                                                                      Doris Lessing

Craig- A Romance

I met him in 1995. He came to live in the nursing home in which I still live, a manipulative, wheel-chair bound schizophrenic, with a plethera of curly, black hair, and a smile that could melt steel. Of course I fell in love with him; he needed to be loved, and I was lonely, needing to care, to take care, of someone. I have an affinity for the wounded.

I became his companion. I pushed his chair wherever he needed to go, helped him with money and cigarettes, sat with him whenever he needed someone to be with. I heard his stories of how him family abandoned him. When I learned that he had two brothers, from whom he’d had no contact for a dozen years, and did not know where they were, I searched on the net and found them. Though both responded to e-mails I sent, my impression was that they weren’t entirely thrilled I’d found them. They had been very satisfied that Craig had not been in their lives. They told me why.

The youngest of three boys, he was what was called a change-of-life baby, born as his brothers were leaving the house to live their own lives. They thought him over-pamperd and wilfully defiant of every, and any, imposed restrictions. Still, the parents, while they were living, and the brothers for some time after, were forever getting him out of scrapes and debts. It was a thankless job. Craig never seemed to learn from his mistakes, always counting on his looks and charm to get him through any situation. Too frequently, it did.

The brothers also told me how Craig had ended in the chair. He’d been drinking and drugging at a fraternity party (a swimmer, he attended, courtesy of an athletic scholarship) and was dared to jump from a third story window. He did. After that, he was moved from nursing home to nursing home because of continous violations of rules and regulations. Then, he moved into mine.

We couldn’t have a full, physical relationship, given our situations, but what we did have was, by and large, an emotional one. He began a little ritual, early on in the relationship that still makes my heart melt when I remember it.

I am not a person comfortable with drinking or eating after others. I don’t like sharing puffs on the same cigarette. I’d rather buy you your own. It’s almost a phobia with me. Craig, however, never wanted to smoke his own cigarette, when we smoked together. He also never wanted his own can of pop, or cup of coffee, insisting on sharing mine. Then came the day, sharing a can of pop, lightning flashed. 42-Love Walks On Water I realized the point of his insistence. I saw that with each sip he took, he was kissing the can and passing it immediately to me. It was the same with the shared puffs of cigarettes. He’d found a way to make love in plain sight, without anyone noticing that we were. When he saw my sudden understanding on my face, he broke into a smile that remains indelible in my memory. We did a lot of kissing, thereafter.

Craig managed to stay five years where I was. Now and then, there’d be an incident, he’d be sent away for a psych evaluation and then return. The last infraction tired the administration and they refused his re-admission. Thereafter, for a few years, I visited him, once a month in this and that new facility until he was finally moved to one to far for me to travel. Our relationship dwindled to a few phone calls. Three years ago, today, I learned that he had died and been cremated. I never had the chance to say goodbye.

I shared everything I had with Craig, while I could. Once, after an operation, as they were wheeling him back to his room, I leaned over and kissed his forehead. I knew that in many ways, he used my love, but he loved me as much as he could, and I was satisfied with that. He was the second great love in my life. I regret only that I could not say goodbye.

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Just January Scribbles

Tell me what you plan to do with your one, wild, precious life?: Mary Oliver

Just January Scribbles

Responding to the prompt copied above, I doubt that I will be doing much samba dancing, given that I just celebrated my seventy-fourth New Year’s Eve, walk with a walker, and live in a nursing home. I do plan, however to continue, as I can, attending the Halsted Center once a week. Everything else will catch as catch can.

Frankly, I am tired, so tired I wonder if I have chronic fatigue syndrome. I wake in the morning feeling worse than I did when I went to bed the night before. Yes, I know there is more to chronic fatique that this. I’m probably using the idea as a justification for my procrastination, but everything is a struggle for me. While I haven’t had a panic attack in a long time, gearing myself to go out into the world, however much I enjoy it when I do, going out is always a battle.

One thing I do want to accomplish, this year, is getting my poetry into the wider world. The problem is figuring out how to do it, what resources I need. Self-publishing has been suggested to me, as a way, but that requires skills (and money) I don’t have. I also have a problem with the idea of self-promotion. My training as a child was to shut up and sit down. It is probably that training that got in the way of my realizing my dream to be an actor. I never knew how to push myself as a product, and feel uncomfortable doing so.

O.k., I really didn’t want this entry to be a long bitch, so I’m going to try to end this theme, here.

Yesterday is gone,
Tomorrow is not yet here.
I have only, today.

**********

Writing off the cuff is not as easy as it seems, especially in an allotted time. There come long stretches of empty time, empty head.

I had a dream, last night, that I received a call from an old director of mine, asking me to fill in at a public speaking engagement for someone who abruptly cancelled his agreement to do it. In the dream, his voice on the phone sounded, for lack of a better term, other-worldy. It was faint and distant, and I remember asking him if he was alright.

After a moment of panic and fear I agree to fill-in, warning him that it would be an entirely impromptu experience. He said, “You’ll do fine, you always do.” I woke, convinced for a small moment that the dream was reality. Realizing that it was just a vivd dream, I began to wonder at the reason for it.

I have not heard from this director in thirty plus years, even though I was, with his wife, an actor he never read for a part, just cast. He showed an enormous amount of trust in, and appreciation of, our ability. I did a number of plays with him, from walk-ons to character leads. He once told me, after a performance, that he didn’t understand why I wasn’t making the big money. I could only say that I didn’t either. His wife, on the other hand, was a gifted performer who chose, for reasons I do not know, to stay small. Perhaps the fact that she and the director had a special needs son was the largest reason.

But I am drifting from the dream story.

I am not a person who claims premonitions. As a predictor, I tend towards being a counter-Cassandra; the exact opposite of my predictions happen. Still I wondered if I had not, somehow, been visited with an announcement of his death. Having lost contact with both he and his wife (I had been told some years ago, that the two of them had divorced and he had now connected with some younger, blonde hussy (as my informant described her). I’ll have to check the trades.

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