i was diagnosed

clinically depressed in 2003. It was a long time coming before the actual diagnosis, and it seems to run in the family, though I’m not sure if DNA or GOD is to blame. Probably a little of both.

In college, a group of boys in my dormitory read my journals, taking turns reading aloud for one another my struggles with possibly being gay, my intimate feelings for several of these boys, my confused feelings about God and religion, among a great many other things. When I heard them through a closed doorway, instead of confronting them, I ran, ashamed.

Since then, I’ve been fairly open with the things I write, unashamed and sometimes unedited. I imagine this blog of old diaries and journals being the kind of thing people will stumble upon sooner or later and fall into like a literal rabbit hole.

And that’s okay. I’ve got nothing to hide.




July 1st (july 2nd, 12:05am)

It seems a good time to start a journal. Change is always a good reason. XR, “the man I love so dearly,” left today for 18 days or so. Maybe not quite that long. We’ll see. He’s not one to wallow in specifics. I don’t know why I love him so much. He certainly doesn’t treat me as good as he should. He himself has said that on a number of occasions. I know he cares about me; I know he loves me.  Or maybe he feels like he doesn’t have a choice, that he has to take care of me because I’m such a fuck-up.

He isn’t big on sex, at least not with people he knows. It’s a hard notion to shake that it’s not because of me. When I ask, he says he does find me sexy, but his actions don’t show it. So I’ve decided to find someone to fulfill my physical needs. I called someone just today: Guy 2. I met him on a recent rafting trip down the Chittooga River that XR and I went on (XR likes doing things with “gay groups”). I didn’t have any interest in  this guy at first, but on the long ride home he fondled my foot, or my foot fondled him, or a little bit of both, I’m not quite sure. He’s the first on my list. (There are several candidates.) When I called, he seemed interested at least in hanging out. He said he’ll call back.

July 3rd, 8pm

I’m sitting in the backyard watching the laundry dry and smoking another cigarette. I was gonna quit when XR left town, but I’d had two that day already when I remembered, so I said: What the hell? I have two left after this one. We’ll see where I stand after those.

Guy 2 never called, so I guess he’s not interested in hanging out (or whatever). Oh, well.

XR called at some point during the day, but I missed the call. I don’t miss him as desperately as I did the last time he went on the road. Our relationship has settled quite a bit since then, or I have, and he left me with Jesse [his dog] this time, so I have more responsibilities. I felt like a fucking housewife today, and respect more those women (and men) who always have to do the job I’ve done the last couple of days.

sunday, july 4

There’s a record player in my head. It plays all the time. When I told my shrink, he took his foot off his desk and leaned forward. Before this, we were just talking about where I’m from and who I’m from. It’s always been there, I told him, always playing.

The redneck (but nice) neighbors across the street just came outside, daddy (hot) and three teen or pre-teen kids, out into the street to burn a silent, sparkling, glowing firework. The kids took turns hopping over the glow and sparks, laughing; one of them started singing, “For he’s a jolly good—” but thought better of it and stopped. From my viewpoint on the porch across the street, it looked like nothing more than a welder’s glow; it hurt my eyes to look at it.

wednesday, july 7

I was thinking about addiction tonight, sitting on the front porch, smoking a cigarette. I’ve traded one addiction for another. I’ve pretty much given up sex. I haven’t given up thinking about it, or taking care of myself once in a while. But I used to be a real sex addict. But I don’t even wanna go into that—I might could get arrested for that!

wednesday, july 14

My attempts to find a lover have fallen through twice so far. I guess I could insinuate myself into the life of the Scotts [lovers, both named Scott, friends of XR], but I don’t know, they’re friends and it’s fun messing around now and again, but an ongoing thing might get problematic.

I was at their house last night when the storm came and the power went out. They were about to make supper; I’d just dropped off their leatherwear I borrowed for last Friday and ¼ of a chocolate cake I made. We got stoned, drunk, watched “The Family Guy” on DVD in their computer and Scott1 and I started messing around. Scott2 fell asleep, snoring, then suddenly jumped up and went to bed, so I came home. I’d had a beer before I got there and two huge vodka tonics with them and I was swaying. I took the trash out to the alley naked and later thought if anybody had seen me I might’ve been locked up!

I’ve been trying to quit smoking. I only had one the night before last, but chain-smoked two last night. I wouldn’t mind being a casual once-in-a-while smoker if I could, like in New York. But I don’t know if that’s possible anymore. It’s really the only obsession I’ve got, since I’ve given up sex.

I’ve been running into another Scott at the dog park when I’m there with Jesse. He has two Shelties. I dig his mouth—though he’s pretty sexy all over. We flirt. I left a note on his car tonight with my number telling him to call me next time he goes to the park and I’ll meet him there...

It’s Bastille Day. Once, when I lived in New York, I happened in on Restaurant Florent on Bastille Day, but that’s the only time I’ve ever celebrated or been aware of the holiday. The faerie community here [Nashville, TN] goes to Jocelyn’s (pronounced Joss-uh-leen, I don’t know how it’s spelled) for a big to-do. Since I’m part of the faerie community now, I’m gonna go.


Everything was going along pretty well. On and off, I felt like I belonged there, but then I would suddenly feel like I was from another planet and had to force myself to stay.

I got in the pool one of those times, just after dark, naked. Three or four other people followed me in, naked, John, Keith the cabinetmaker. Cuties! Others came and went in their swimsuits. Earlier I’d been dancing with Gone-Away. I tried to coerce him and his big feet into the pool, but he resisted. Keith got out, stayed naked and started dancing. John got out, I got out. We got dressed.

I was a little anxious about how long Jesse had been at home unchaperoned, and I was having another wave being invisible again, and I couldn’t get comfortable with it, couldn’t get over it. So I left, came home. Jesse hadn’t done any chewing or peeing, which was good. I went into the backyard with her. I called Steven to tell him I was feeling bummed out, but his voicemail picked up. As soon as I hung up, Jesse brought me a baby bird she’d just killed. It was still warm.

I wanted to cry but was too angry. I put her in the house and buried the bird in the alley as best I could (lest she dig it up in the yard), and came to the front porch for a beer and a smoke.

tuesday, july 27

Today is Robert’s birthday. Tonight, the Clique [XR’s name for his group of friends] is getting together at Robert’s house for a party. There’s a lot of controversy surrounding this gathering. There always seems to be a lot of controversy hovering around the Clique, as they’re a bunch of egomaniacs and freaks. They’re pains in the ass, but I like them I guess because I feel like they accept me.

I cut my cigarette smoking down and almost out before XR returned from his Wisconsin trip (18 days), but smoked 4 yesterday, and I’m already smoking my first one today. XR has a way of making me feel small and yucky, whether he intends to or not.

Scott1 told Lynne that we fooled around. She thought it was a big deal. Scott1 assumed I told XR (because it isn’t a big deal) but I hadn’t. Lynne mentioned it to XR. He didn’t think it was a big deal. Scott1 told me Lynne told him I hadn’t told XR, like it was a big deal. Oh boy! So, I mentioned it to XR today, just to get it out in the open. He said he didn’t think it was “wise,” that the Scotts are “predatory.” Whatever that means. What does it mean? I asked, but get no straight answers from XR, ever.

XR has said before that he doesn’t think it’s wise to have sex with people he knows, meaning he thinks everyone should fuck anonymously, which is what he does—“but that’s just my opinion,” he says.

I’d rather have sex with people I know, “but that’s just my opinion.” I wanted to tell him I didn’t think it more wise to have sex with strangers, that that’s how people end up with things they don’t want… But that doesn’t seem like a good (or nice) thing to say, especially not to him, since he has so much shame from his Catholic upbringing about sex and his HIV.

Still, it’s really, really hard to be compassionate and patient sometimes.

tuesday, august 24

Friday the 13th of August I started taking Wellbutrin. It has certainly done something to me. Besides the diarrhea. Everything is different. I wouldn’t say I’m having a crisis, but everything is definitely different, askew.

Today, I went to the YMCA, then to work. I came home for lunch to hang out with XR for a few hours (much to his confusion), then went back to work for a few hours (that’s what confused him).

I haven’t smoked pot since Saturday night, after I went on what felt like a bad date with Medusa as my alter ego, Babbling Brook [our Radical Faerie names]. I met Medusa at that faerie party a couple weeks ago. On Sunday, I decided to stop drinking and smoking weed and cigarettes, at least until I figure out how I’ll react to my new medication.

I started cooking last night and didn’t clean. I swept the upstairs but didn’t really clean it. This morning I painted a picture—quite a lovely one, I think—from a photo XR took in Scotland—instead of cleaning the downstairs.

XR woke up, I went to work. At 2:30, I went for a cup of coffee and a piece of double-chocolate layer cake. I also ate a bag of “Sweet N’ Salty” from the Honest Vending Box at work, and had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and I don’t know what else. I had three sodas today, three cigarettes, three puffs of pot (and maybe I’ll have a fourth and see if that helps me sweep the downstairs). I really just kinda want to go to bed.

Sometimes I question what XR and I are doing together. In some ways it seems temporary, not because he doesn’t want to have sex. It’s comfortable, and that’s what I think I need, for now. But it doesn’t keep me from thinking what-ifs. At times, I’ve thought I don’t know why I clean the house since XR doesn’t seem to appreciate it. He comments when it’s dirty, but never when it’s clean. Well, almost never.

He has an ease with criticism and a hard time offering compliments. I know it’s all about his childhood, and I know he can’t let go of that, but I don’t understand why he doesn’t want to, doesn’t want to change, doesn’t even want to look at it.

august 25th

I feel numb. I have such a hard time having a conversation with XR. Compassion and gentleness don’t seem to affect him. He’s so angry. On the way to the movie tonight he had talk radio blaring as per usual and grumbled along with everything being said. I did my best to ignore it all. I hate talk radio!

On the way home, he told me he was wearing one of his anti-corporation T-shirts at work the night before and a co-worker—“if I understood his thick accent”—said, “You just don’t give up.” I suggested he could’ve taken it as a compliment, to which he said, “That’s not how it was intended.” I said, “But you still could. You can take whatever’s said to feed your anger or fuel your fight.” He said, “Why would I want to take something other than the way it’s intended?” I said, “People are always misinterpreting what’s being said to them.” He said, “Oh, absolutely,” with an “end of discussion” tone to his words.

september 11

I saw Dr. Campbell [my psychiatrist] yesterday. He asked me to grade myself on how I’m doing now compared to “a while back.” I said C+. He said he figured I’d grade low, “what with my usual self-deprecating nature, my low self-esteem, and the fact that I’m an artist, which is supposed to be the antidote to those other things!” He thinks I’m doing better.

I’ve done a lot of soul searching lately, and feel like I’m coming to terms with my relationship with XR.

When I mentioned wanting to go to an upcoming Storytelling Festival, Dr C. jumped forward on his seat and said, “That sounds like the best thing you’ve struck upon in a while!”

I’ve also been thinking a lot about finances, about needing to spend less money on travel and other things.

sunday, september 12

AA [XR’s long time ago brief boyfriend, now a good friend] is in town and we’ve been having sex. We’re very connected. And now that I’ve “figured out” my relationship with XR, there’s no need to hold back.

XR and I showered together yesterday. He said he needed to jerk off, hadn’t had an orgasm in two weeks, the longest he’d gone in 20 years! He yanked on my dick while he jerked his. I got hard but didn’t come. He made a comment I can’t recall, but to which I responded (somewhat facetiously), “Our relationship isn’t about orgasms.” He said, “That’s true.”

Today, XR and I had a falling out. He’d piled all of his photographs onto the dining room table, inspired by AA to do a collage in an old window frame. I thought I’d give him a hand by organizing the pile into categories. XR came into the room, said, “What are you doing?” I said, “I’m organizing your photos, and looking at them.” He said, “Well, they already are. I’ll take care of it. It doesn’t matter. I have them in groups so I’ll know where they were taken...” It’s hard to convey how, as he said these things, steam seemed to be coming out of his ears.

I asked AA if XR was like that when they were together. He said, “XR is a horrible boyfriend, but a good friend.” Then he joked about the fact that I should come live with him in Denver.

september 19

What am I accomplishing? Where is this going?

I want to leave this relationship, want to run away, but feel trapped, mostly for XR’s sake. Originally, I saw his anger a good way to cultivate patience. But I think I’ve learned the lesson. Enough already!

Is it the medication? Is it wrong for me?

I daydream about pulling up and going to California. But that doesn’t feel right at all. Steven doesn’t even have a place to live, and  won’t for some months. I believe he’d be happy to have me as a roommate at that point, but it’s not something I can even consider right now. It seems a little irresponsible. I have jobs here and a living situation that’s allowing me to get out of debt. But I fantasize about having a good relationship, like with Poor Artist Joe. Also, I keep trying to arrange sexual encounters with people, like that older swimmer dude at the Y who flirts with me.

monday, september 20

I go through periods where I don’t know what I’m doing. I need to get out to save myself, but feel like I can’t because I have a responsibility to XR, even though he’s non-communicative, emotionally unavailable and sexually disinterested.

I’m a lost boy. I’m unhappy. My life is not becoming what I wanted it to be; it isn’t anywhere close to where I hoped it could be. I have no energy, no inspiration. I felt like I was gonna fall asleep at work today. Or cry.

Handsome Scott who works for Sony was at the dog park tonight. The last time I saw him there, I put a note on his car door: Call me. He never called. That was three months ago or so. He’s disgruntled with his corporate life. I think he’s fascinated and slightly appalled by my life. I take his fascination as flirtation and give it back to him, even tonight, despite myself.

Poor Artist Joe said from the stage Saturday night, “We’ve got a local celebrity in the house tonight. He’s part of the Hey, Y’all! Group.” Oh brother. [Y’all was the name of the group I was in with Steven; “Hey, Y’all!” was the name of one of our albums, a faux soundtrack to a TV variety show we pitched to Comedy Central in 1998 (in NYC) and 2000 (in LA).]

I imagined (in my fantasy) saying to him in somewhere down the road, “I can’t believe you said that! I hated you for saying that! But really it was the only thing I could find to not like about you that night, and now look at us!” (Oh brother.)

XR left me a note on the kitchen counter tonight: Where have you gone? I seem to have lost contact with you again. I hate that note. The last time he left a note like that, I poured my heart in a multiple-page letter and he barely even acknowledged it. Why would I keep putting myself out, opening myself up with no response? I simply can’t. If I don’t just tune him out sometimes, medicate myself more than normal would, I’m afraid I’ll start hating him for his inabilities.

But at the same time, those inabilities—deeply ingrained inabilities—make me feel so much sadness for him. And for us.

thursday, september 23

I’m in such a fucking quandary right now. I need to do something about this relationship I’m in. I don’t feel like I can leave, for so many reasons, but this isn’t the relationship I wanted, this isn’t the life I wanted.

I saw Scott at the park a couple days ago; there was flirtation. I invited him to the movies as we were putting the dogs in the cars. He said he has a big job this week, but took my number and said he’d call, which he did, to tell me he couldn’t go. I didn’t go either.

He was at the dog park again tonight, with a friend who was with him the first time I met him (when XR was in Wisconsin). I felt awkward. I mentioned previously that I have a “partner." I wish I could take it back. My attraction to Scott isn’t what’s making me contemplate and reassess my relationship with XR, but it is making the fact that there’s a problem in the relationship all the more obvious.

I called AA last night; he’s a good shoulder to lean on with regards XR, but he complicated matters by saying I should come live with him in Denver. That doesn’t seem like an option—though it is tempting.

Saturday, september 25

I’m in a daze. I decided I’m gonna move to California within the year. Most likely, Steven and I will live together.

Now the question is how do I tell XR? What do I tell XR? And when? He’s at Ida [a Radical Faerie commune] until Sunday.

Dr C pointed out three times that I said I was “glad” today:

  1. Glad XR was going to Ida without me;

  2. Glad I was going to Jonesborough next weekend [to the Storytelling Festival] without XR; and

  3. I can’t remember what the third glad was.

I’m wired. I think this is the right decision. Perhaps one year will be a good goal for getting off of antidepressants as well.


I’m smoking again; killing myself. For what?

I left XR a note recently that said: “I’ve been struggling lately, in case you didn’t notice(!).”

He wrote back: “I noticed. Anything I can do for you?”

I responded: “Don’t pull away.”

Since then, he’s pulled further away than ever before.

We saw John Waters’ latest tonight. EE [XR’s ex-LTR] said the other day in the dog park that Chris Isaak would get XR to that movie. I said, “Oh, really?” He said, “Don’t you know about his Chris Isaak thing?” (I don’t know anything about XR, EE!)

On our way there, we stopped at Chez Jose because he had a coupon (I’m so tired of eating at places just because we have a coupon!) XR didn’t say a word the whole meal, didn’t even look at me. I found out later he’d eaten a pot brownie before we left the house.

He enjoyed the movie immensely. The last time he enjoyed a movie (or anything, really) that much was when we saw Sordid Lives at the group house on the “gay ski trip” we took to West Virginia last February. There were pot brownies that night, too.

XR and I were the first in the theater. Scott from the dog park showed up with his friend and asked if they could sit with us. During the movie, when Scott and I laughed, we leaned into each other, when XR laughed, he leaned away.

When we got home, XR was way-high, enjoying himself, being sociable (with me). I lit candles in the carport, opened beers, put the plastic Cape Cod chairs out, and he said, “This is perfect!”

He was at Ida [Radical Faerie commune] last night, and tonight mentioned that the last time he was there, he’d gone with EE and John [another Faerie], and EE had crawled into John’s tent to sleep and left XR alone. (XR is still so in love with EE.) I said, “That’s a drag.” He said, “Yes, it was.” I could see the deep sadness in his eyes, sadness which initially made me fall in love with him. I fell in love with XR because of his sadness! At the time, I was lonely and insecure. He was lonely and willing to trade room and board for a companion. I’m his companion, his caretaker, not his lover. In the bargain, I’ve neglected myself.

Two weeks ago, I told my shrink I was content in this relationship, yesterday, I told him I’m unhappy, that I need a change; I realized content wasn’t good enough. After that session, I decided I’m gonna move to California by the end of next year.

On the patio, after the movie, high on brownies, seemed like a good time to break the news to XR. He was laughing, enjoying himself. And even his bringing up the sadness about EE shutting him out with John, about EE shutting him out throughout their relationship made me think he was in a state of mind for dealing with “issues.” But before I got the chance to say anything, XR said he had to pee. I helped him to his feet and sent him on his way. While he was gone, I sat back and thought about what I was going to say and how I would say it.

I’m not happy. I haven’t been happy much lately. I’m not happy in this relationship, and I’ve been thinking on an old goal of living in California. So, I’m gonna continue to pursue that goal again, that dream. I’m not “leaving” you; I’m still here for you. for now. But I plan on being in California by the end of next year.

XR came back from peeing, plopped into his chair next to me. I said, “I need to talk to you about something serious.”

He said, “Nnnot nnnowww... I’m not in the right mood for that.”

I said, “What kind of mood would that be?”

He didn’t answer. He bent over into a sitting fetal position, eyes barely open. I said, “Lean back. Relax. We don’t have to talk about it right now.”

He leaned back, but sprung suddenly upright, locked his fingers together between his knees, a smirk pasted onto his face. “How’s this?!” He was defying me, refusing to communicate, flaunting his defiance. I thought about telling him anyway, but he beat me to the punch. “I think I have to go to bed,” he said.

I leaned back and looked at the candelier gently swaying overhead. The wind picked up as XR walked away, and the deep, dark wind chime range its three low tones in a variety of patterns. Then I heard around the corner what at first sounded like deep, dark cries of pain, heart pain. But surely he wouldn’t be crying over me like this.  Maybe I’d made him feel like a failure in our relationship, and any failure reminds him of the biggest failure in his life, his lost love, EE. He contracted HIV shortly after they broke up; he told me about it, before I lived with him, early in my courting effort, I think in an effort to warn me away. He said, cryptically as ever, he knew what he was getting himself into, and went back for more.

I got up and rounded the corner to find him vomiting into the compost bin.

I walked him inside, poured him a glass of water, put toothpaste on a toothbrush and handed it to him, and I thought, God, he’s such a Tennessee Williams character. I should call him Nash Williamson; I should base a character by that name on him. I mean, how perfect was it to avoid having a serious discussion by getting sick enough to vomit?

And how perfect was it that I was sitting between XR and Scott at the movie, sitting between What Is and What Could Be?

friday, october 1

I told XR on Sunday that I’m going to California by the end of next year. He didn’t say anything until Wednesday, his first day back to work after a 5-day weekend. I was in the office transcribing [a job I did starting in 1994 at an office in NYC, then freelance after Steven and I left NYC]. XR came into his office and as he was putting on his shoes, he looked up at me, his face wet, his eyes were red. I knelt in front of him and we cried together for a while. He said, “I don’t want to lose you.”

I put my thoughts into a 6-page letter. In it, I tried to convince R that we should consider that we have this relationship for the next year, that we should continue working on it and on ourselves, and then, when it’s time for me to go to California, we’ll have the satisfaction of concluding a relationship without calling it “a failure.”

tuesday, october 12

At first he didn’t want me to try to change him, felt like that’s what I was always trying to do. I was just trying to be myself, but kept running into his “You’re trying to change me!” Now that I’m leaving (in a year), he seems to think “we were just starting to fall into place.” To me, the only place it felt like we were falling into was stuck.

wednesday, october 20

I wonder if Dr. C has any clients who aren’t “smart beyond measure and talented and good?” I’ll have to ask him about that. Or is it some kind of trick he uses to help patients get there? It’s working, I suppose, and that’s probably what counts.

I’ve never had a relationship like this with a therapist-type—and he’s an actual shrink. I’d heard previously that psychiatrists are only interested in passing out pills. But that’s not Dr. C. Early on, he told me, “Work harder than you think you need to, save faster than you think you have to.” And I am.

I do get drugs from him, but feel like I’m in charge of what’s working or not. I started taking Wellbutrin and weaned myself off of Lexapro altogether, a little at a time. It’s only three days, so the jury’s still out. In the last couple of days my equilibrium has been off. I feel dizzy now and then, particularly when I turn corners—or my head—left or right. It’s the same sensation I had when I started taking it. I’m not sleepy all the time now, and feel pretty darn good.




Lying on a basement futon bed, the source of my pain, waiting for a 9 o’clock alarm that never goes off, listening to the sounds I can hear. I say them aloud as I hear them:

I’m on my way into the City. I took a nap—or tried to—so I could meet someone just after 11 at a bar called Nowhere. Is this a date? Am I this lonely? Is it love? I told LW a while back that I feel like I fall in love with everybody I meet and she high-fived me. Two weeks after that, she was talking about turning her garage into a no-cats-allowed master bedroom so her new girlfriend can move in.

This alarm clock ticks like a beating heart; it takes two seconds at a time, glub-glub-glub-glub.

I’m restless; my back is killing me. I turn on the little yellow lamp by the bed and see that it’s after 9. I’m up and in my date clothes and out the door. It’s not as cold out as it has been. Or maybe I’m over-dressed. Or maybe my fever is back. Or maybe my long hot bath earlier is still with me.

XR and I were at Nowhere by chance a week ago tonight. A cute, waifish boy sat on the other side of the corner from me. (XR and I had only planned to stay for one drink, but right away we liked this place and we stayed.)

He was a curious sort, not at all shy about inquiring into our conversation. Being back in the City had me waxing creative about early theater projects. The boy mentioned he worked at the St. Mark’s Ontological-Hysteric Theatre. I told him we were planning on going there the next night. He said “Not without reservations.” He put us on the guest list.



[Instead of moving to California, I ended up in Austin, after realizing Ca. would be too expensive. I processed my depression by putting a lot of energy into writing a novel titled august chagrin, which was a version of my life story.]



tuesday, october 2

I felt suicidal this morning. I don't know where it came from; it was like an episode, like having a panic attack but without the panic, coming on slowly then escalating to something unmanageable, then fading away. The whole episode lasted about twenty minutes. During the unmanageable part I had to lie on the floor and cry, shielding my eyes from the bright light and the ceiling fan blades making a vibrating white circle above me.

Right before that, I was thinking I should be back on Cymbalta, should call SIMS, the organization which has helped me find two useless therapists. I had the number on my cell phone screen when I decided to lie down.

Before that I was thinking about my dentist appointment this Thursday, about my critiquing group on Wednesday, about feeling like the least intelligent person of the people I know, about my failed year in college, about the fact that I don't have any friends, none who I could call in that moment to say I felt suicidal.

After the episode I didn't know what to think. I felt a little dazed and confused, thought maybe I should eat. I decided to get up off the floor and have a bowl of cereal, thought I'd better write this down.

When I transcribed what I'd written from notebook to blog, I Googled images for this post and came across a site with dozens of pictures of people who'd committed suicide in a variety of ways—hanging, shooting, stabbing, drowning—and I felt like I ought to add that I believe my compassion for my fellow human runs too deep to actually kill myself.

wednesday, october 3

I slept on and off yesterday. I slept for nine hours last night, which is unprecedented because I normally sleep six or seven. It was a night full of dreams including a repeating two-line refrain from a catchy little tune that I think was part of a radio show I was listening to or was perhaps part of:

Oh, how could I do without you,
When I can't stop thinking a-bout you?

thursday, october 4

  1. I've got two brilliant ideas in my head at the same time, crowding each other, trying to develop. In my effort to write them down, they fizzle and my lack of brilliance is proved once again (or twice).

  2. I have to stop taking Steven's advice. Or anybody's. I don't have the same abilities of conversation or thoughtfulness to pull them off, and I'm left frustrated in real time with an uncomfortable situation.

  3. I had a hard time getting to sleep last night. As I lay there I thought about death, about suicide, wondered if a person could simply stop breathing, if they could avoid taking the next breath. Is it the functioning of the body that makes this impossible? Or is it the brain? I skipped a couple of breaths, then took one. I don't know if I could do this.

    I thought about the most horrific vision of suicide I saw in the pictures I was looking at recently, a man who sawed himself in half on a band saw, right above the hip bones. The only tough part would be the spine. But it seems like it would be quite painful—though quicker—cutting through the flesh and organs. I COULD NOT DO THIS!

    To think of the noise! That would be the most unnerving part, I think, the high-pitched whir of the metal blade! The lower half of the body was left on the saw bench and the upper torso fell to the work table in front of the machine. To find the person who'd committed suicide like this would be awful, having to make your way to the OFF switch.

    I'm fascinated by suicide. Maybe because I'm writing a novel about a character who dies. He doesn't commit suicide, not really, but in a way he does, a slow suicide, by letting a man fuck him without a condom. That's a kind of suicide.

    Smoking seems to be a coward's form of suicide. Supposedly, smoking less than two cigarettes a day doesn't have an appreciable affect on a person's health, but it does seem to be an effort to shorten our time.

    Stunt men are suicidal, too. Adrenaline junkies, beer drinkers, bullfighters, pot smokers, drug addicts. We're all looking for an ease, a way out via something enjoyable, right?

    Maybe I shouldn't be so focused on a dying man in my state. But, hey, writing has been the thing that has made me feel most alive, has helped me cope best with my troubles.

  4. My dentist knows I smoke. He's not concerned about my health as much as he is about his workload, having to chip and scrape away at the tar buildup on my teeth. He doesn't know I'm more concerned about having a panic attack in his chair, which feels like a much more immediate risk to my life than a cigarette or two.

monday, october 8

At some point I woke up in my 40s all alone. People half my age aren't interested in me, or they are for different things than I hope for, for things I can't offer. People my own age are just busy.

I wish I were sexually aroused by women. There seem to be a few waiting in line (one of whom I think I'd actually enjoy being involved with). The men I find myself attracted to are either straight or otherwise uninterested in me.

What happened? Did I waste it back when? I don't think I was conceited about who or what I was; I believe I enjoyed myself, quite a bit, had disappointments, thrills, threw some things away that I wish (now) I’d held onto, held onto some things that probably weren't good for me.

I emailed an acquaintance recently who, it turns out, is a therapist who specializes in gender identity issues. Somehow, I feel like my issues of late (or maybe forever) are gender identity issues. They're definitely Identity issues. I feel like I'm on a little boat in the middle of a choppy sea. It's relatively safe where I'm at, but I don't know what I'll do if a storm comes. (Sounds like an ad for antidepressant!) I don't feel like I have anyone talk to anyone. Not even Steven. I think he doesn't understand something very basic about what I'm going through. I sense his fear and frustration when I say things about sadness or death.

I miss having an audience, I think. That's something that's been coming to my mind a lot lately. What does it mean? I miss having people be fascinated by me? I don't feel like I have much to offer anyone. Steven says I don't want to talk about the thing that I spent most of my adult life involved in: the Act [Y’all]. It's true, I don't, not anymore. I used to eagerly offer that up to people as an introduction (the Act and/or the [three-way] Relationship), but I kept getting met with confusion or aversion, and oftentimes alienation.

In the dance community I involved myself in for a solid year (going three times a week to every dance for a long time), people were fascinated by me, interested in me. Then, when the girls started realizing they weren't going to get anywhere, they started ignoring me, and when the boys started realizing I was attracted to them, they started avoiding me.

Fuck me!

sunday, november 18

I don't know why but I feel a little depressed today. I don't know if it's because the play I was working on closed last night or if it's because I didn't feel as much like a part of the group as I wanted to when we struck the set after the show or if it's because the boyfriend of one of the actors (a ruggedly handsome straight man) didn't respond to me the way I hoped he would (though I'm not for certain how I hoped he would respond to me) or if it was because the projection designer—for whom I ran the projections—when I told her I was assigned to be her helper for the strike said, "Oh, no, JDJB, you should go home and rest for a long time!" (which I'm sure she meant as some sort of compliment but it felt like a brushoff) or if it was because when we were rolling black paint on the white floor to put the theater space back to its original state I ended up with paint that wasn't completely mixed and so it didn't cover as well as other people's rollers did or if it was because I left amid the others' bittersweet goodbyes only saying so long to a couple of people (because I’d only been working with them from tech rehearsal on, so I really wasn't as much a part of the group as the rest of them)—and it didn't seem right to insinuate myself on their gatherings (I certainly wasn't being invited into them!) so I slipped out, came home, Steven was gone so there was nobody to chat with except Timmy [cat] (and our conversations are usually about him wanting food, wanting to be let out, or wanting the bathtub faucet turned on a crack so he can get a drink). So I had a beer then went to bed. Timmy joined me (oh, yeah, and "Rub me.") and as I lay there rubbing I started crying a little bit, which kind of surprised me, but it felt necessary.

[The following blog entries addressing “you” were about people who influenced me in some way big or small.]

monday, december 10

You're the stranger without a face (darkened by the shadows inside the car) who picked me up in the third grade as I walked in the rain. You gave me a ride home. I knew not to tell anybody I'd gotten a ride home from a stranger, and I'm not sure why I was walking home in the rain in the first place. I can't see your face and I wasn't afraid then or now, but I wonder if I didn't get raped and murdered. I have wondered many times about that, if I died and this is just a memory of me, a pretend version of what it would be like had I lived.

I think there were many times in my life when I could have died and the rest of my life is just an imagined thing, a way to avoid the mourning left in my wake. Maybe this is why I've always had the feeling I'll live forever—thanks to you and other tragedies like you—because I'm already dead, walking among the living, just pretending I'm here. It's like some Hitchcockian idea. I tiptoe through life so I don't wake myself up and see you hovering over me, engorged, enraged, too close, too close.

sunday, december 16

[Upstairs neighbor.]

I don't know if I'm more worried about you or annoyed by you. I thought about this last night: If she kills herself and I find her, what a hassle that would be. Have I lost my ability to be compassionate? That saddens me. But last night, I didn't feel so good, I went to bed early, not all that early—10:30 isn't all that early—and at 11:45 that disconcerting ticking in my dreams managed to wake me up. What is that ticking? I felt frightened. But it was a misplaced emotion. There wasn't anything to be afraid of. But all the effects of feeling frightened were there, the racing heart, the clammy coldness, the distorted view. Or maybe that was from being awakened by a noise in my house, in my room, halfway between the bed and the desk. Fortunately. Two feet this direction or that would have been a fucking nightmare. Water dripping from the ceiling. A string of drips along a line. I know from the time before that the line matches up almost perfectly with the outside edge of your bathtub. That time when you decided to mop your bathroom floor with your bath water. All of it. I'm pretty sure I said then, "I don't think you should be doing that." I thought you got it. But you've got a lot on your plate. You left for a weekend trip (a family thing, you called it), left your dog behind and didn't come back for six weeks. Your dog is an escape artist; everybody knows this. Maybe you thought this was gonna save her. Maybe you knew. If she hadn't broken that window out, if a neighbor hadn't seen her hanging out of the second floor window, had she not leaped out the window into his arms, she wouldn’t have lasted those six weeks.

Another neighbor took your dog, gave her to somebody else after she—an escape artist and a generally ill-behaved dog—kept trying to eat the cat. I don't blame the neighbor for finding another home for the dog. And then you come back to town, lightheaded or something, distant, squirrelly. Avoiding everybody, feeling bad about your actions, hiding from us. "One day at a time," I think was what you said the first time I saw you, but not because you're in AA, just because that's the way you make it through life. And so, maybe you forgot that you aren't supposed to douse your bathroom floor in late night bath water. That's what I thought when I sat there watching the water pour on my floor, ticking and not showing any signs of stopping or slowing. I gathered my wits and my ill feelings, grabbed a couple of thick rugs from the bathroom, then an ice chest, to catch the water. I put one of the wet rugs in the chest to dampen the sound, tried to go back to sleep.

But then I remembered that you're a woman on the verge. One night when you came back and were scratching furniture across your floor, I imagined that you had fashioned a noose and were pulling a chair or something over so that you could get your neck in it to hang yourself. There was a thump—the chair that you'd kicked out from under yourself tipping to the floor. I was glad when you emerged the next day.

I thought maybe you had decided to drown yourself last night. That's why the water was pouring into my bedroom, because you'd turned the water on and it was just rippling over the edge of the tub, your floating blue body under the surface, eyes open, lips slightly parted, a shy bubble hanging out just inside one nostril.

I put on my clothes. Lots of clothes. More clothes that I'd had on earlier. I went to bed early, feeling chilled, but now I was cold, and I was gonna have to go outside and maybe deal with some sort of a dead body in water, or a water leak, or something. I put on long johns and jeans and cotton socks with wool socks over them, two shirts, two jackets—one with a hood—and a hat. I found your key in my bedside table, the flashlight from the kitchen drawer. Your apartment lights were out, your car was gone. I made my way in. Your place is a wreck. The window your dog broke out is still gone; the vents around a window unit a/c are missing, so the cold wind is blowing in. The wall gas heater in the bathroom is missing all of its innards.

The tub was empty, but the lid to the toilet tank was on the floor. There was water droplets all over the sink, and standing water on the floor. I searched out some towels from your dirty clothes and soaked up the water. The dripping downstairs stopped.

This morning you called me back but I didn't answer. You left an apologetic message, but no explanation, only that you were going to be going to the doctor tomorrow for some new medicine that will "make things better."

I guess I have to keep listening.

friday, december 21

I never really had a father figure. I had a daddy, but he died when I was sixteen, and we weren't the best of friends, so I didn't really have anyone to want to be like when I was growing up. That was okay, I never really wanted to be like anybody.

Then I met you with your elbow patches and your long drawling words, calling me Mr. B in a way that, in itself was almost enough to lift my depression, as you smoked your pipes in that old house on the hill with the ominous swinging sign out by the main road: PSYCHIATRY.

I would normally have picked a woman; I don't know why, I just always felt like I had a better chance of getting my head straightened out with a female therapist. That's why I chose your office, because of the Indian woman who was the head shrink there. (Ha! That's funny.) But she wasn't available for an appointment and I got you. Tennessee had a really good public health policy at the time (its own Medicare, which unraveled to nothing by the time I left the state, thanks to our current Administration), but the list of names to choose from wasn't long. and most of them were men. I wasn't sure it would work out between you and me, but you were provided free by the state, so the least I could do was make the first appointment.

You put your feet up on your desk and leaned back in your wooden chair. The place reeked of cherries and vanilla mixed with Cavendish tobacco. It wasn't so bad, really, and it went well with the decor, that crazy old house with the peeling paint and old furniture and knick knacks in the foyer; they looked like they might've been left there by the original owner. There were a few mental health posters sprinkled around for good measure, too.

I liked you right away, you eccentric man with your wool jacket in the Tennessee heat with the leather patches on the elbows. You were like a man right out of the Seventies, right out of my childhood. Like a father figure. I didn't think of that then; I thought of you as a friend. I knew you were my shrink, but you were the best kind of a shrink, one whom I could mistake for a friend.

In the odd times that you talked about yourself, you told me about your former life, how you hauled cattle around from auctions to ranches. Everything you told me became romantic in that damn pipe smoke. "Do you mind if I smoke?" Of course not.

Today, I bought myself a gift, a pipe and some tobacco to sit on the front porch and smoke. I don't really like smoking cigarettes except for the reflection time they offer me. I thought a pipe would be a little more classy, it would taste a little better, too. Some of the tobaccos have clever names: Texas Honey; Very Cherry; Georgian Cream; Strawberry Delight; Commander's Choice; 24 Karat.

I didn't think of the irony until this moment, didn't think of the inspiration you gave me, to make this purchase. You, my favorite psychiatrist. And the name of the tobacco I chose?

Nut 'n' Special.

Wednesday, december 26

[My oldest sister.]

You cried all that Christmas the year before Daddy died. At the time I thought it was because you couldn't afford to buy any presents, and that was the beginning of the souring of my Christmas experience. I'm not blaming you; really, I'm thankful. I like to give gifts, but not at Christmastime; no matter how aware I am of the intention, at this time of year gift giving manages to get caught up in the swirl of pine-scented poo.

I realize all these years later—can you believe it was 28?—that it was just the beginning of your unraveling. I didn't have much of a relationship with him, so it took me a long time to understand that he could mean that much to you, that his death could have affected you so deeply.

I didn't talk to you this year. I don't feel estranged from you, just not too connected. It's a little sad sometimes, but you've got your life, your problems, your stuff going on; I've got mine. I hope you had a good Christmas. I know your children are scattered all over the country and you don't have the closest relationships with them. I'm sorry about that. But still, I hope you didn't cry this year.

tuesday, december 30

Steven left for Indiana Sunday morning and I've been feeling a bit depressed. I hate to put those two things in one sentence because I don't like to be defined by my relationship with Steven. Or I should say I don't like other people to see how I'm defined by that relationship. W’re not a couple, but we are closer than I think I can expect to be with another person in my life. We are not lovers, but we share more about ourselves and know more about each other than anybody else does. Our relationship is hard to define. It's not enough to say he's my housemate or my best friend. Both of those things are true, but sound limited. I've used both of those words when talking about him to new people because I don't want to have to explain our relationship, because the explanation always confuses the truth.

So why am I feeling depressed? It could have to do with Steven being gone and now I'm all alone (except for a cat, a dog, a pig and a turtle). It is easy to plan my day around something we might do together, like eating meals, watching movies, or just getting high and sitting on the porch rambling or in silence. I got more work done yesterday in his absence than I've been able to do in a while, since we moved to this new address.

But I don't think it all is about Steven. I feel like my relationship with someone on whom I have a crush (likely straight) has met its end. It's an odd, somewhat icky feeling. I was talking about my attraction to this man to another (straight) man, a friend on whom I once upon a time had a crush. That crush evolved into a good friendship; it feels stronger now than ever. But the other one, the new one, seems to have met with some sort of barrier. He knows I'm gay, but he doesn't know I have a crush on him. At least I don't think so. But maybe he feels uncomfortable with the attention I pay him. Or perhaps his ex-girlfriend with whom he works (and who I know almost as well) has pushed him into a corner about his attraction to me and so he has decided to leave that corner.

I do believe there was some sort of attraction to me on his part. A crush, perhaps. Straight guys seem to do that a lot in my life. It's a weird thing; it's been going on since high school, I would say, long before I even could admit I was gay. I think it might have something to do with the way I was raised, the religious anti-homosexual stuff that is a big part of who I am. I'm a non-threatening homosexual, I guess in part because I was raised to believe that being gay is the worst thing one can be (it leads to child molestation, drug use and other illegal activities).

So, back to this straight guy. I have very recently being trying to come to terms with my attraction to straight men, to accept what it is I get from them, what they get from me. Ninety-nine percent of the time it doesn't become a sexual thing. The desire is certainly there on my part, and sometimes I get the sense that it is there in a small and perhaps confused way on their part, but only rarely has it turned into anything, and not because of my pushing. I had a brief fling with a straight guy a couple of summers ago, a man about half my age. He told me up front that he was straight, "always has been," but that there was "something about me." We hung out a few times, eventually gave each other blow-jobs but it ended in the middle of that. I kidded myself that I was just going along with this as experimentally as he was. But the moment he said, "Okay, that's as far as I can go," I realized that I had already gone a lot farther; it broke my heart. I blubbered like so many girls whose hearts he’d likely broken. In retrospect I imagined he thought less of me because I was just like all the others.

There have been several instances—most of them in the last three years, since I've been living in Austin—in which I’ve developed very nice relationships with straight men on whom I’ve originally had an attraction. They transmuted into something better. I've tried to imagine how these men must feel around the women they've been attracted to but with whom they cannot have sex because the women are in a relationship or gay. I have conversations with these men about that, about the difficulty of maintaining a relationship that is different than the initial attraction, and they seem to think their struggle is very similar to mine. Perhaps. But I think there are additional factors that make my struggle more difficult. Particularly the fact that homosexuality is not accepted as normal across the board. And beyond that the fact that I was raised being taught that not only is it an aberration, but one of the worst sins a person can commit. Bring on the drugs, alcohol and minors...

I want to find a way to release myself from this suffering, this desire that has no positive outcome. I won't make that my New Year's Resolution because I don't do those, and because, Lordy, could you imagine what a set-up that would be?! But I continue to question this part of myself that plagues me. I would like to channel my desire into something more productive, something creative like my book. I planned on sitting down with paper and pencil as soon as Steven left town and creating a schedule for myself—work, creativity, exercise, entertainment, socializing—but I spent yesterday feeling sorry for myself, and finally got outside and raked half of the yard. It's a huge yard. I did this because I've heard that exercise is good for depression, and I can't seem to get myself to yoga class. Besides, I can't really afford yoga right now. I ignored my checking account for a few days and something horrible happened with my finances and I ended up spending something like $175 in overdraft fees. Fuck!






I’ve been feeling a bit down lately. No doubt the effects of my lost friendship with Clinton. I started thinking a lot about friendship, about the friends I have, and what they mean to me. But with a kind of dark view, because I’ve been feeling a bit down. I guess it’s the depression thing. I didn’t make it to yoga on Sunday, and then on Monday, I felt like I hadn’t done yoga for ages; I was tight and hurt when I tried to get into certain positions. It was very frustrating.

So yesterday, I tried to talk myself out of going. But I was feeling pretty bummed about things and decided the meanest thing I could do to myself was go and deal with the frustration. (I knew it was also the nicest thing I could do for myself.) Actually, I let work decide for me. If there is no work to keep me at home, then I’ll leave at 3 in time to get to the 3:30 class. That’s what I told myself. And I even almost talked myself out of it when 3 rolled around and there wasn’t a transcript to do. But I had already worked 37.5 hours in the preceding six days (12.5 of them on Sunday), and my eyes were bothering me.

When I got to the yoga studio Mark was cleaning windows. He asked how I was; I said, “I’m here.” He said, “Oh, it’s like that, is it?!” He’s a cheerful sort. Good-looking, strong, patient, funny, intelligent, a great teacher. I told him I couldn’t think of any reason not to come, and he said, “You could’ve cleaned windows!” I said, “Yeah, if I had thought of that...” He said, “Call me next time and I’ll give you some suggestions!”

Inside, I told him I deal with depression. He said he does too; he told me if he wasn’t on antidepressants nobody would be there. Interesting. He pushed me a little harder than I thought I wanted to be pushed yesterday—I thought maybe he would take it easy on me since I was feeling down (I wanted him to take it easy on me)—but he pushed me to do a jump-back. I struggled with it a while, complained some, got more instruction, then viola! I saw the light. I even said that. He said, “I wouldn’t have told you to do it if I didn’t know you could...for future reference.”

And so, he gave me the ability to accomplish something difficult. I didn’t do the jump-back very good, mind you—and boy were my arms tired after—but it felt good to have succeeded at something, to have done it that well.

I have a friend that I needed to take a break from. I realized after the loss of my friendship with Clinton that it is a friendship that takes (a lot) more from me than it gives. And I think I need to surround myself with people who lift me up, people I want to be like. At least my close friends. There are some people in the improv community who annoy me (their sense of humor), but I don’t feel close to them. I feel my friends should be willing and able to listen to me, that I should feel that they’re listening.

With this one particular friend, I don’t feel like that is the case. I never have. It has felt more like I am a caretaker all along. I came to this realization when I thought about telling this person about what had happened with Clinton. I couldn’t imagine saying anything because this person doesn’t deal well with that kind of information. I don’t need that in my life.

So, I ignored this person for a while, and kept getting phone calls that I didn’t respond to, which caused the person to call another friend of mine and ask if she knew what was up with me. I didn’t want to be rude, so I sent an email to this person saying that email was a much better way to correspond with me, that I was lying low and not answering the phone. The person responded to the email by calling me! I ignored that call, and then started getting emails and texts, asking me to do this or that. When I responded in the negative for whatever reason, I got a follow-up request for a different date and time and event. So, I sent an email saying I was not going to be socializing for a while, that I was concentrating on working and writing and doing much of anything with anybody.

The response was “Okay. I understand. Unless it’s something I’ve done.” Followed by another two paragraphs about how we could deal with it if it was in fact something that this person had done to upset me or push me away.

Too much work, that’s what I say.


Last night, I went to see Kat Edmonson at the Elephant Room. I heard her on the radio a week ago or so, and her voice reminded me so much of a singer friend of mine that I couldn’t get her out of my head, kept Googling her, listening to songs, watching videos, etc, and noticed that she was playing the Elephant Room last night. I’ve always wanted to go to the Elephant Room.

I was supposed to go see my friend G do a dance performance in a park somewhere yesterday evening at 6:30, but I got out of improv class a little late, had to ride my bike home, needed a shower by the time I got here, and it was after 7:00 by the time I got done with that, so I blew it off. I was planning on meeting up at G’s performance with D, a friend of G’s with whom I’ve become pretty good friends, so we texted back and forth a couple of times through the day and decided to go see Kat together.

I got to his house at 9:30, picking up a bottle of red wine he requested on the way. He was sitting at the dining room table with two women friends from his college days in San Marcos, M and another woman. We hung out for about an hour, D and M drinking the bottle of wine - their second of the night. I had a few sips from the glass he poured me, because I don’t really drink red wine, because I figured I would have a beer at the club, and because I had taken a hit of weed before I left the house.

D and M dated about six years ago when they were in school. She recently contacted him and they’ve been “hanging out.” She had planned to head back to San Antonio (where she lives) last night but both of her friends suggested that maybe she shouldn’t drive back (in her condition, I assumed).

The woman I didn’t know headed home, D went to change, M and I talked briefly, then she disappeared and decided to go with us. While she changed clothes, D came back out and asked if I minded; of course, I didn’t. Unrelated to that exchange, he left the room then came back and put his arms around me from behind and said, “I know we don’t know each other very well, but I know I love you.” Maybe he was loosened up from the wine he’d been drinking, but it felt sincere. I told him it was nice to hear it, and that was about it of the exchange.

I had thought about asking D to drive because he drives his dad’s comfy car, but since there were three of us, it didn’t even come up, because my truck doesn’t seat three very comfortably. D also has cool electronic music, so we were able to enjoy his jams on his dad’s fancy sound system. It was nice; I was buzzed, feeling good, and looking forward to some good jazz singing and playing.

We had to wait a little while because Kat is from Austin and the Elephant Room was packed. When we got in, we had to stand in an aisle. D went to the bathroom and M moved to a spot next to the bar; I stayed where I was. Besides sounding vaguely like my friend when singing a pop song, Kat has a voice like Billie Holliday or somebody like that when she sings standards (or turned-standards, like The Police’s “Tea in the Sahara” for example). She was singing in front of a tight quintet led by a piano player, anchored by drums and upright bass, and accompanied by trombone and trumpet, with a special guest saxophonist.

M and D were talking some, and talking to a couple sitting on barstools behind them a bit, but I ignored them. I was far enough away from them to do so, rocking in my shoes, eyes half shut, grooving. We were there till the end, we stayed through two breaks. During the first break, several audience members left. I saw some seats next to the stage and told D; he said, “Let’s go!” but by the time I got there, there were only two seats left, and they didn’t follow me all the way, turned and went back to their place at the bar. I couldn’t stand forever, my knees were already starting to hurt, so I sat and enjoyed the second set from there.

During the next break, we were able to get in a better position, a table with three seats close to the front. We sat and talked, and that’s when I pissed M off. She and D had been talking when we first got there and the couple on the barstools said, “We can hear you over the music, can you please be quiet?” (Or maybe they said “shut up,” as I heard the story.) M got pissy; D got cocky. M’s point (to me) was that she has to do what other people tell her to do all week long, the weekend is hers, she doesn’t want to be told what to do during her weekend. The guy asked them to move if they wanted to talk, and D said, “If you have a problem with us talking, you should move.” I was glad I wasn’t present. (D doesn’t strike me as being this kind of a guy, so I am led to believe it had something to do with being with a woman he was having sex with...)

M made her point for a while, and obviously wanted me to concur, but I just couldn’t. I said that I probably would have asked them to be quiet, too. She said it would be different if she were at the symphony and there were signs around that said “No Talking.” I told her that there aren’t signs at the symphony, that it is just kind of understood that there is no talking in a performance of any kind. She pressed her point some more but I just couldn’t bring myself to agree with her—at one point I offered, “The best way to keep people from telling you what to do is to be quiet!” I was trying to be light, but it was the breaking point for her. She went back to her place at the bar. And of course D went too. I spent most of the next set happily alone with my beer.

D spent some of his time trying to get M to come and sit with “us” at the table but she refused; I wasn’t being supportive of her and was just as bad as the people who were trying to tell her what to do. I don’t know how much D and M drank, but I saw her with a martini glass in front of her a couple of times, and he had pints of his beer in front of him. At the end of the night, I sampled her beer because she insisted (it was a different kind than what D and I were drinking), and because I was trying to make nice with her.

After the show ended, D went to the bathroom and sort of asked us to “talk.” I made an attempt. M started in on her same story so I just dutifully shook my head and didn’t respond too much otherwise.

It was suddenly 2:00 a.m. I know I had listened to a lot of great music, but didn’t realize we’d been there three hours. We headed home. M sat in the front seat (I had sat up there on the way to the show, but took the back seat before she got to the car to show some sort of “respect”). It was misting out, D was driving a bit aggressively, or “cool” is probably a better description; it didn’t strike me that he was driving drunk, just kind of like he normally does. We got on MoPac—which has a 70 mph speed limit. A car in the fast lane wasn’t going quite that; D got close to the bumper, the car changed lanes, and D hit the gas and we flew down the wet road.

I thought of that billboard that insists on passengers speaking up against aggressive drivers. But that billboard annoys me. If you’re in a car with an aggressive driver, particularly a drunk one, making a stink about the way they’re driving seems to be a good way to cause a problem. I remained quiet. I knew D had had more to drink than me, but I don’t drink very much; people have different saturation levels.

We exited MoPac at a higher speed than I thought was necessary. I braced myself and sunk my mind into the loud techno music playing. At the end of the exit ramp, D hung a right, fishtailed over-corrected—just like they say you do—and we spun around 270° so that we were facing the wrong direction on the two lanes we were in, at the same time continuing a sideways slide across the lanes into the oncoming traffic, had there been any, hitting the curbed median first with the back tire. In my mind, the sound brought the image of the tire and wheel being forced sideways under the car.

There was no oncoming traffic. There was no traffic at all, fortunately. It would have been a horrible mess had there been. I also thought later that there could easily have been a bicyclist on the road, or a pedestrian, even a dog or raccoon would have been a horrible addition to the scene. All of these thoughts keep flashing in my mind, and I am only left with gratitude for life.

After a brief moment of silence (D turned off the music), he apologized then drove back over the median, turned us in the proper direction and continued on at the speed limit, a raucous sound coming from the back tire. M leaned farther out her window than I thought was wise, to see where the racket was coming from. I tried to unclench my fists and jaw.

When D slowed, the noise got worse. We had a number of turns to get into the subdivision where his house is; he seemed determined to not slow down at any of them, then he said, “God! It’s like the car doesn’t even want to stop!” I was very, very sober, all the while trying to figure out if I would remember how to get back to my truck on foot, because if we stalled out or for any reason didn’t make it all the way there in D’s dad’s comfy car, that was what I planned on doing.

As we pulled along the curb across the street from his address, there was the sound of glass shattering, like I imagine a champagne bottle hitting the bow of a ship might sound. But it wasn’t glass. It was metal, two rounded pieces about a half-inch thick, one piece about six inches long, the other about three. It was the shattered rear brake rotor falling to the pavement when we stopped. I picked a piece up but could only hold it for a few seconds because it was very hot.

D was mumbling to himself saying “normalized” things like, “I guess I’ll be making a trip to the brake store soon.” I hugged him goodnight; we searched M out to say goodnight. She was hiding on the front porch behind a shrub. I told her to take care. She hugged me tentatively and said something like, “It’s been real...”

I drove home, my head reeling with thoughts that I could have died. In that vein, I didn’t hesitate even a moment to talk myself out of driving through Mrs. Johnson’s, the Indian-owned late night donut shop, where they always give you one while you wait . I ate the freebie and another on the way home, then wrote “HELP YOUR SELF” on top of the box and left it on the kitchen counter.

S wasn’t home yet. It was 3:00 a.m. He had gone to the bar. At 6:00 a.m. I awoke from a weird dream about D to the sound of the windchimes out of the bathroom window clanging like they had been run into. I could see under my door that S’s bedroom light was still on and decided it was him, having forgotten his house key, trying to find an unlatched screen on an open window to climb through, even though I doubt he would never do such a thing. It didn’t even occur to me that someone might be trying to break in; I had already had one near-death experience, I guess I figured I wasn’t up for another so soon.

I looked out the bathroom window but saw nothing, closed the bathroom door and went back to sleep. At 11:00 I woke up, happy to be alive, happy to see Steven’s light off. Later in the day, I noticed that the bush under the windchime had grown long enough that the wind sail had become caught, the striker was pulled outside of the metal pipes, and when the wind was strong (as it was all day) the pipes hit the striker the same way they had early that morning. I took wire cutters out and trimmed the bush.

D texted me this morning: Wow! A little dramatic last night. Sorry about the intensity!!

I didn’t know how to respond. Steven seemed to think I should tell him it was okay or that it was “no problem.” But I wasn’t sure I felt that it was okay or that I didn’t have a problem. Not that I blamed him totally; I had just as much responsibility, if not more, for my well-being. I value his friendship, but I’ve been having a lot of consternation about friends lately.

Finally, I came up with this: Let me know if you need a ride anywhere. Peace. I haven’t heard back from him yet.


How can I feel so content and so sad at the same time? That’s not a rhetorical question; and I don’t really want an answer.

I skipped yoga on Sunday, which hasn’t become a regular day for me anyway, and then at the last minute yesterday—as I was getting dressed for it—skipped my regular Monday class, too. My knees hurt because of all of this rain. But I like this feeling, this humidity; it’s not hot so the humidity doesn’t bother me, it feels rich, I like the smells it activates.

Roger disappeared from Facebook and I got a little panicky. I had gone to Flightpath Coffeehouse to work on chapter 31 last week and suddenly got an urge to contact him, and thought I would do so on Facebook via my iPhone. He had contacted me a couple of weeks earlier, shortly after (I later discovered) he and his boyfriend had split up and his boyfriend had moved away. He called, but it was a short phone call; he said he had to meet someone and would call back. But then a couple days later he emailed to apologize for getting in touch and then disappearing again, saying simply “I’ve been unable to communicate...” Forgetting that the sentence actually went “I’ve been unable to communicate with anyone,” my thought at the Flightpath was to ask “Is it just me or are you hiding from everybody?”

But he wasn’t listed in my Facebook friends list. I was done writing for the day—that’s why I let the distraction take me away—but it quickly turned to anxiety. Again my thought was “Is it just me or everybody.” I packed up my notebook and bicycled home. I was somewhat relieved to discover that he had committed Facebook suicide, as it’s called, having deleted his profile completely.

I guess I’m not over Roger. I don’t guess I ever will be completely. The fact that he’s moving from Tampa to Seattle makes me wonder what he’s going there for. Or whom. Surely he’s not already “with” someone. It probably has to do with his disdain for Tampa (yeah, I can imagine that).

The fact that Steven recently had sex with a man half his age who reminded him of Roger and then blogged that it was possible (not likely) that he could have a “whopping midlife crisis,” fall in love and follow the man to California didn’t help matters. Things don’t feel so permanent here anymore.

I have a sneaking suspicion in the back of my head that the reason I haven’t been able to find anyone to be interested in is because I’m still harboring hopes that Roger and I will be together again. I can picture a happy reunion sooner or later—even late in life. Steven has his doubts that such a thing would work out. I wish I could get it through my skull that such a thing could never work, but there is for some reason this feeling that Roger will always and forever be The One.

Not that Steven isn’t important to me, but Steven is more like family, like a brother, my best friend. Our relationship is less defined in terms of our hearts; it’s more of a soul connection, not physical. My love for Steven is stronger than it has ever been for anybody in my family, but it wouldn’t (and hasn’t been) changed by living across the hall or across the country from him.

I sent Roger an email, told him I felt a little pang of fear that he would disappear out of my life, that I felt like he was part of my family, a part that I never wanted to become estranged from. He responded a couple of days later with mutual feelings, said that I’m a big part of his family, too, “probably more than you know.”

Was that just a statement to comfort me? It was comforting. It also made me want to write back and say, “Well, in that case, I’ll meet you halfway there.” But really, I’d much prefer it if he suddenly decided to come here where I’ve got a pretty good life going for myself, with the kind of weather I like, a performance community I’m beginning to feel comfortable in, and where I can afford to live and write.

Maybe that’s the real reason I ain’t got nobody...


Everything can change in an instant. You can never be prepared for the worst of it.

Friday night, Steven went out for his regular Friday night beer. He left the house at about 9:45. On the way out, he stopped in the kitchen and said goodbye to M&J and me. We were telling stories about being teenagers, about the bad things we did. Like J when he was a high school sophomore running around town egging the seniors’ cars. Steven said he and his friends used to egg the fancily dressed students on their way into or out of a school dance.

M&J offered to let Steven use the car, I joked that he should take the Deuce, a monstrous military truck in our yard that was used in a movie that J worked on and he ended up with. But Steven was fine on his bicycle. It’s about a 30-minute bike ride from our house down Springdale, over MLK (which is the busiest road), down to Cesar Chavez, and then over to the bar, which is just on the other side of I-35.

Friday nights have of late become work nights for me. In these economically uncertain times, in my job working in the financial community, I’m always waiting for work to become available. Fridays seem to be the best time to count on work, because as of four o’clock (five o’clock NYC time), most of the support staffers in-house take off at least for the night. I clean up on Friday nights, get a good chunk of hours on my timesheet (which run Thursday-Wednesday).

At 10:45 I was considering stopping work. I thought it would be nice to smoke a bowl and do some writing. I had just put my name on a transcript, so I was trying to decide between going ahead and doing it (two to three hours work) or taking my name off of it. I had also just brought a bowl of potato chips into my room to give me a little energy to perhaps go ahead and work.

The phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number. I don’t usually answer the phone when I don’t recognize the number. But this time I did.

“Is this JDJB?”


“Your roommate Steven was hit by a car.”


“He’s okay. He’s at Brackenridge Emergency Room. We’re examining him right now. He’s been asking for you.”

I’ll be right there.

That was the whole conversation. I walked into the living room where M&J were watching TV. Little p was in the bedroom with a friend who was spending the night. I said to them, “Steven is okay, but he got hit by a car on his bike.”

M threw on her jeans, asking “Can I go?” as she did.

Of course.

M told me to pull up to the ER and she would park.

Brackenridge is the charity hospital here. The ER waiting room was filled with a mélange of the usual suspects. The sign over the first counter I came to said SECURITY, so I went to the desk on the opposite side of the room. I walked past the obese, the tattooed, the confused, the pregnant, the drunk.

At the desk, I was behind one man who was being admitted. Next to me, a dark black man in darker black shades and an orange hoodie with STATE PRISON and a number on it (it was a joke hoodie, I’m pretty sure), said, “Can somebody wipe my nose? ...Can SOMEbody wipe my NOSE?!”

The man behind the desk said, “I’m helping this man right now, sir, and then I’ll be with you.” I think the training for working at a charity hospital emergency room must be at least as much patience and compassion as it is medical and administrative.

I was told to go back across the room to the first desk, which besides being SECURITY was also PATIENT INFORMATION. A woman who reminded me of Natalie Manes from the Dixie Chicks asked who I was there for, and my name, and called back to the ER.

Shortly, the social worker who had initially called me came out to tell me that Steven was having a CT Scan, she assured me again that he was okay, and said she would let me go back as soon as he came out of that.

She disappeared. I called J at home to tell him what little I knew. M appeared, having parked the truck. We sat and made small talk. I noticed that people had on name tags, and asked Natalie Manes if I needed to sign in before I went back. She took my driver’s license, put it through a machine, which spit out a photo ID sticker which she attached to a backing that had red stripes on it that slowly emerged over the course of the night (as your welcome wears out, I guess).

Finally, I went back. As the social worker and I walked and turned what seemed like a hundred times, she told me that Steven would ask me what happened, that he would repeat himself a lot. She didn’t give me any medical diagnosis, just that. I asked her what I was supposed to say. She told me he was hit by a car, he thought he was on Sixth Street, that he was either going into a bar or coming out of one. I knew it hadn’t been long enough for him to be leaving the bar, and I said so, not that it meant anything.

I wasn’t prepared for what I saw. His right eye was swollen shut and purple. The whole right side of his face was bloody and bruised. He had on a neck brace and seemed immobilized. His left eye was frantically searching the room, searching my eyes. He wasn’t himself.

What happened?

Did I get hit by a car?

Was I on my bike?

Did I say goodbye?

Were you at home?

Where was I?

Did we have dinner together?

What did we eat?

Did I go out after that?

What happened?

Did I get hit by a car?

I answered the repeating questions as calmly as possible, again and again and again. I was holding it together as best I could. But then he started crying, saying he was scared and didn’t know what was going on (before relaunching into the list of questions). I felt a panic attack coming on. I called P1. I called her home number and her cell phone. I left a message and she called back directly. I didn’t know why I called her, except that she’s a social worker and works at Brackenridge some, and she would be more familiar with trauma stuff than either Steven or I were.

She called back, said she was on her way to hospital. I told her she didn’t have to come. She said, “Yes I do.”

An ER tech came to Steven’s bedside and said, “I just want to talk to you alone for a second.” He was small, cute, his forearms had tattoos on them. “I found your one-hitter in your clothes and threw it away. I’m sorry I had to do that, but if the cops saw it, they would give you a lot of grief.” Steven and I were both very thankful. (I had wondered if he had pot on him when I was heading to the hospital, and was thinking I’d better find his belongings and take care of that.) I thought about how everybody was taking care of him, in more ways than might normally be anticipated.

P1 arrived, and while she was in the ER with him, I stood outside in a daze. M was standing nearby but we weren’t talking. I was glad she was there. But I felt there was nothing she could do. I moved the truck out of the parking garage to a spot on the street, then called P1 and asked to trade off, asked her to give M a ride home and go home herself. She said she would take M home and come back.

They gave Steven morphine while she was with him, and he was feeling better, repeating himself less. A doctor came in to put stitches in the cuts over and under his eye. I couldn’t watch the doctor stab the wound with the needle that contained the lidocaine because of Steven’s wincing, but I did watch them stitch him (three total) because he was unaware.

All along the way, Steven asked me to take pictures of him (though he didn’t want to see them yet).

He was admitted. The tech who had thrown away his drug paraphernalia came to wheel him upstairs. On the elevator I tried to make the tech understand really how appreciative we both were and he blew it off. He knew. Of course he did.’

P1 was already in Steven’s room when we arrived. The three of us stayed up all night (I dozed a little) talking and laughing. When the sun came up, P1 got her car out of the garage before she had to pay for parking and went home. I spent the day with Steven; J and some of Steven’s friends from the bar came by for a visit, so I went home and took a shower, but was back again. Steven was told he was being kept another night—so the ophthalmologist could see him. I stayed the rest of the day with him, but went home to sleep in my own bed and slept 10 hours very hard.

We left the hospital Sunday afternoon, rushed to get to an appointment at LensCrafters so that Steven could get some interim glasses in order to get to school (one of the biggest worries on his mind over the weekend). The hospital experience was pretty amazing; the nurses and other staff were great. It wasn’t the way either of us would have chosen to spend our weekend, but if it had to be, it was the best experience we could imagine.

We stopped at Target to try to find some clip-on shades for his cheap nerdy glasses (which P1 bought for him), and I suddenly had to shit. I ran to the bathroom, and realized I hadn’t gone all weekend, that I had literally been “keeping my shit together” for Steven.


Sunday afternoon, I dressed up in “yellowface” to do a spoof on Asian stereotypes and 1-900 phone sex lines for the Austin Asian American Film Festival trailer. I put scotch tape on my eyelids then covered my face with white paint. The Fu Manchu moustache, or as it said on the package, “Mandarin Moustache,” came in a package from the costume shop, as did the Oriental robe I wore.

It was a short shoot, and lots of fun. The director of the AAAFF is a friend, it was quick and painless, for the most part. The only painful thing was the heat in all that makeup and the polyester “silk” robe.

It was a little weird though arriving in the house where people waited (the filming was done at another house in the neighborhood, my old neighborhood) one of the rare Caucasians—most were Asians or Indians (whom I know are Asians as well, but just for clarity)—all of us there to do stereotypical characters. Being raised in a family where “Chinaman” still isn’t considered derogatory, and where Vietnamese is sometimes pronounced Vietmanese, I felt self-conscious.

The guy in the piece shot directly before mine (C) passed the bathroom a couple of times while I was trying to figure out how to attach the tape to my eyes—pull it across the temples and over the ears? vertical across the outside edge of the eye? (Eventually I discovered putting the tape on the eyelids worked best.) He seemed interested in my process, and he was cute— When I got home, I looked him up on my friend’s Facebook page and requested his friendship. Before too long, he accepted. I perused his photos—very handsome—and noticed that his profile said he was “Interested in: Men” and that he was “Single.”

I wrote a silly note, making references to his character (the successful Asian business man who couldn’t get the girl, even with his “large stock options”) and mine. I made a comment about the fact that I supposedly had special powers and was trying them out... then asked him on a date. I stared at my message to him for a few hard minutes and literally had to talk myself into hitting the SEND button. But I did.

Then I decided he would probably never respond (that was Insecurity’s whispers in my head). My “protection” was to tell myself I’m gearing up for rejection, getting used to the idea, since I’ll likely be receiving a lot of rejection (or what will feel like rejection) very soon concerning my novel. I had it in my head that this could free me up to take more chances, throw caution more quickly to the wind.

A day later he responded. Not exactly a rejection. “Yes, it was nice meeting you, too,” his note started. And then, “I should tell you I just started dating someone...” Ah! There it is; gentle, but rejection nonetheless. I was happy enough with that; at least he responded. He could just as easily (or some could) have ignored me, and the rejection would’ve gone into my bloodstream, into my brain, and fed the Insecurity that lives there.

He continued, “...but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t go out for lunch, etc., and get to know you.”

Hm... Not really rejection at all, just an explanation of the situation. Because really, you can’t monitor attraction. —Well, you can, but it still happens when it happens. I find that I can’t help who I’m attracted to. It’s actually rare that I am attracted to someone anymore (in that way), and oftentimes they turn out to be straight or too young, which causes me a certain amount of suffering. That was the reason I decided to stop pursuing a partner, because the attempts (and the rejections) caused me so much suffering.

Steven has suggested I “lower my standards.” But that doesn’t seem right. My standards? I don’t have standards. I don’t see two boys on the street and think “I’m attracted to this one, but that one isn’t as cute, so maybe I’d have a chance with him.” I’d rather be alone than take what I can get.

So here I am with (C). There must be some attraction on his part—that’s probably part of what makes him so attractive to me, that mutual attraction—or else he might not have responded to my note (or might not have even befriended me). We had a little back and forth on Facebook, he said this week was good for him (lunch, not dinner and/or drinks as I originally suggested; a demotion, but I’ll take it), I said Thursday is good early or Friday anytime. The ball is in his court. I guess there’s still a chance he’ll back out or blow me off (shut up Insecurity)...

I put the Fu Manchu picture as my Facebook profile picture for about half an hour. (C) responded with “(!)” to the picture shortly after he befriended me. And then another Fb friend who I know from improv and don’t know that well (and frankly find a little annoying) wrote, “Great picture; not racist at all. ;)” So I removed it, for fear that it did seem racist out of context.


The date with (C) was a bust for the most part. He’s very cute, very sweet, and not very interested in me. Have I already written about this? I feel like I have. Maybe I haven’t blogged about it. I hope not. That would seem obsessive, and I’m really not obsessive, or don’t like to see myself that way. That was last Wednesday. I had a little cry over it; nothing big, just a little flushing, and I felt better, and feel better.

Wednesday was kind of a weird double-whammy on the emotions. Wednesday evening was my second improv class at the new place. It’s a level one class. I’ve taken a couple of each level up to level three, but I wanted to get a different perspective, expand my improv knowledge. I mentioned it to T and she approved wholeheartedly. (It’s weird, it felt like a confession. I had mentioned it to a few people in the community randomly and hadn’t mentioned it to her, so I felt like I had to make a point of telling her, which I guess is why it felt like a confession. But anyway...)

The teacher is a nice guy, if a little clueless. Or at least it feels that way to me. I don’t want to make a deal about it, but there were a couple of things that got under my skin. Which makes me thankful that I’m back in therapy—twice a month. The first class, he made a completely innocent comment about the fact that we plan what we’re going to do before we go on stage based on fear, wanting to be accepted, cool, funny, “attractive to the opposite sex so we can procreate.” Maybe it sounds a little biblical, now that I write it out. I just had a feeling of “he doesn’t mean me, he doesn’t ’accept’ me.” I’m really not all that political about identity, but my religious and suppressive upbringing kind of makes it similar to a political feeling. Now that I write it out.

Anyway, so I had therapy the next day, and I was able to get over it, whatever that means. Truly, I’m only bringing it up because I’m writing about it. It’s been so long ago now, the fact that I haven’t written about it yet should point to the fact that it’s not all that important to me. Same as with the date. I’m a little buzzed so I’m feeling eloquent, in the movingly expressive sense of the word.

In the more recent class, the second class of the six-week session, the class that followed soon after the date, the teacher told everyone to find the person they felt had the most in common with them. I went to the big dyke with the piercings and black rock T-shirt on. We were instructed to find three things we had in common. We both had spacers in our ears (mine a 2 hers an 0 which is bigger, natch), so I pointed that out. Then I said, “And we’re both gay.” It seemed to take her by surprise. Maybe I’m projecting. She said, “What?” I said, “You’re gay, right?” She said, “Oh— yeah,” which sounded like she hadn’t heard me the first time. Maybe I slurred it out nervously. I have a tendency to do that. The dreaded G word. But I’m facing it, I’m getting closer to an understanding, I think, slowly but surely, one day at a time, sweet Jesus...

We then had to choose the most interesting thing and write that on a strip of paper the teacher had passed out while we were all rumbling in our two-person teams. He said, “Not the most obvious thing; something that would make everybody in the room go, ‘Ooh!’”

My partner said, “What do I write, ‘We’re both gay?’” I said, “Put ‘We’re both homos.’” Which she did after a smirk.

The strips of paper were put away and forgot about for the rest of class—almost forgotten completely. As we were about to leave, the teacher stopped us and said he had to read them. Everyone froze. They were probably all wondering if what they had written was good enough, I know I was. Had I tricked this poor 20-something into doing something she wasn’t comfortable with? Or did the notion that we needed to point it out seem unnecessary to her? That could be the case, I guess, if she believed there was no need for distinction other than a way of dressing, if the need to define yourself publicly was/is passé.

What am I even writing? Did I say I was buzzed. Have you seen those billboards that say Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving? Well, Buzzed Writing Is Drunk Writing, Too, then. But I’m not so much drunk as I’m high. Not drunk at all, actually. I didn’t have enough money for a beer tonight. I was at a film party at the Art Alliance or Art Authority or The Place Next to Spiderhouse—whatever they’re calling it these days. I digress.

The improv teacher read through all of the strips of paper, some interesting, some funny, some just fine. “We’re both homos.” was the very last one. When he read it, he stopped on the word “homo” and read it carefully, then said coyly, “Well, okay, that may be true— And that would be okay...”

It doesn’t seem like much. It didn’t seem like much when it happened. I felt a weirdness in my center. My partner didn’t seem to react, and everybody else just kind of laughed or ignored it, as with the others. When I mentioned it to S and others, though, I started feeling a little more isolated by the experience. It drives me crazy that I can’t see these things in the moment, can’t work with them. I know, I know, recognizing it at all is a step in that direction (Thank you, Pëma).

I had therapy the next morning, and when I told the story to L, he stopped me a ways down the path and said, “I’m sorry. As a straight man, I didn’t even realize that was what you were saying.” I love L, he’s a wonderful therapist. What he said made me realize what I suspected: A doesn’t even realize it; he is speaking only from his own experience. That’s good to know, but it may make me judge his teaching efforts differently. I hope this isn’t truly the case.

Thursday, I took S to the airport and he flew off to NYC for forever (not really, he’s back on September 20th, driving back from Indiana in the car his parents are giving him). I’m going to NYC on the 9th and his rock opera (I guess that’s what it’s called) Lizzie Borden opens on the 10th, and I’m gonna get to see it!

I didn’t do a lot else on Thursday or Friday. I had a barometric pressure headache (I don’t know if that’s a clinical term or my own); I get them sometimes when rain is coming. It feels like a hangover and/or a minor migraine. Sometimes the migraines get full-blown, but this one didn’t. I felt feverish. And then I realized that my window unit was frozen over and blowing outside air in, and it was in the triple-digits! The rain came at some point in the afternoon, and amazingly, the headache all but disappeared.

I was thinking about going to see a movie on Thursday evening, but the a/c episode butted into my schedule. The foam over the cooling intake part of the a/c had frozen to the iced over ribs, and in trying to remove it, I pulled a hole shaped like Africa about 2 x 3" big. So I was thinking I needed to get a new one of those. I also needed to go to the store for candies, and it was almost time for the stores to close. I carried the foam thing to Home Depot, and they didn’t have anything like it! Then I went to Target (because I had to go there for the candies anyway) and carried the muddy foam thing in with me in case they had one. They did not.

I needed the candies—mini-Snickers, Twix, 3 Musketeers, etc.—for a Christmas Tree I was making for T’s surprise birthday party (with a Christmas theme!) on Friday evening. I popped popcorn on Wednesday and it sat in my room getting stale, which I eventually told myself I intended. Friday morning I strung two strands (12 feet maybe) of popcorn and mini candies. It was quite lovely. The tree I got last weekend at a garage sale; it’s a 4-foot tall fiber optic tree, so it didn’t need lights. S&E put up other Christmassy decorations and the three of us made collage cards for T. I wish I had taken a picture of mine.

C had no real plan for getting T to the theater after their show at the Hideout. They were heading to East Side Pies, she thought, then somebody in the car said, “Let’s go to the theater and drop off these fliers.” T is easygoing, she said, “Sure.” She was the one with the key at the door; I stood peeking out of the door curtain after we got the text. I saw her arriving, shushed everyone. The door was unlocked, so when she turned her key in the door, she thought it had finally happened, they had gotten broken into. She had a quick succession of dreadful thoughts—We don’t have insurance; they took all our shit!—and she turned to run away, not wanting to go inside in case the bad guys were still in there. C grabbed her and pushed her into the room; she stumbled onto the stage and fell laughing. It was the best party she’s had in years.

Last night I saw my friend M at Cafe Caffeine doing a monologue (with several other good storytellers) on the theme of “Clerks.” M’s bit was very funny, as was another guy, who read a story about a fat kid (him) trying to slide a 64-ounce Coke across a movie theater countertop Western movie style, only to hurl it onto its side sending sticky liquid flying on everyone in the lobby except him. I had tears flowing!

After that, I went to S’s regular hangout, the Chain Drive. I’ve gone there a few times, but I’m not much of a bar person, and the times I’ve gone haven’t been with S, and I’ve had some social anxiety issues there. But I got a notion to text S’s friend G and see if he would be there. That was where S met G, I’m pretty sure. He indeed was going and we met up after the show. It was nice getting to know him a little better, as well as D, his ex-boyfriend best friend, who showed up. A weird thing happened, though. There was an attractive guy possibly looking at me, “cruising me,” as it were. (He could have been cruising G, but I’m pretty sure we were making eye contact.) G was content to just sit there and chat with me, and I was trying to decide if it was rude to excuse myself to talk to a stranger. I’m pretty sure I know the answer to that. I don’t think he would have considered it rude. D did that very thing when he showed up and the three of us were talking.

The young man went inside and back out a few times, and when G, D and I were talking, I was thinking to myself that that would be a good time to excuse myself and make my feeble attempts. But I couldn’t figure out the wording for it. So I just became anxious and eventually had to leave. I did do one “Fruit Loop” as D called it (a walk around the square bar with the seating lining the walls opposite it). It was during my Fruit Loop that I realized my potential suitor had left, so when I returned to G and D, I told them that I had decided to do a “Fruity Pebbles” and “rock out!” (Weird, I know.)

Today was Sunday. I started working on some minor revisions to my manuscript—woo-hoo! At 5 I had book club at BookPeople, this month discussing J. M. Coetzee’s Nobel Prize winning novel, Disgrace (Wow.), but I left the house at 2 and stopped by P.Terry’s for a #5 and a double-chocolate shake. That was good, of course, the book club was good. After that I met up with M at Spiderhouse to hang out before HomoScope, the film party that was going on at the place next to there. There were a lot of really weird but pretty interesting films. I saw a number of people I knew and so felt socially relaxed. I snuck out in the middle of the after party right after telling someone I wasn’t going home, that I was just going to my truck, which was the truth, because I was thinking I would roll a cigarette and go back to the party and join them where they were all smoking cigarettes, but I’m not much of a social smoker, I have realized. I like to smoke alone. That’s a good thing and a bad thing. Good because if I’m busy I smoke less. (I guess that’s what I’m supposed to say; I actually like smoking.) But if I’m lonely I smoke more. (Oh, that’s not really true. I’ve smoked three or four a day for the past couple of days—two or three more than my usual daily intake—and I’m feeling indulgent.) When I got to my truck, I decided I did want to come home. It feels good to be home, particularly when I left a party feeling good and brought that feeling with me as opposed to the opposite.


New York City does something to a person. It’s unavoidable. I don’t know if it does the same thing to every person—I tend to think it probably doesn’t—but it does do something to me. I just returned from three nights there. The last several times I’ve gone, I’ve overstayed my welcome. This time felt like a nice amount of time to be there; it was manageable time-wise and financially. I don’t really know how manageable it was financially because I haven’t looked at my bank account yet, but I had a lot of help from friends with plane tickets and food and entertainment, which goes a long way because New York City is expensive.

I arrived on Wednesday at about four o’clock. I was staying in Williamsburg with a woman who used to sing in Y’all’s backup choir. She wasn’t home when I got there. I settled in , called Steven (who was at the theater working on LIZZIE, the rock opera which was the occasion for the visit to NYC), but he didn’t answer. So I got on the subway and rode there to see him. I found him in the lobby looking at his phone, reading/listening to the various messages I had sent to him over the previous 24 hours or so. He was happy to see me but didn’t want me to go into the theater because it was hectic down there and he didn’t want to ruin the surprise. Opening night was the next night.

I called another old friend, but she was busy teaching a friend how to cook, so I walked and walked. It was a nice night. I ended up at Port Authority (on the opposite side of town from the theater Steven’s show is in) and then at the XXX video store across the street from there. That’s the problem with NYC for me, all the sexual energy that bubbles up. This was the type of place (if not the place) I wrote about in my novel august chagrin, that the main character visited. The one I wrote about directly across from Port Authority, “Playland,” is gon nowe, replaced by a new, shiny building with designer stores on the ground level and apartments above.

Nobody was interesting and nobody was interested at the video store, and that was okay. I went into a closet, watched a little porn, took care of myself, went back to Brooklyn, took a cold shower (for the novelty of it—the cold water turns warm in my Texas shower halfway through), and shortly thereafter my friend was home and we chatted till bedtime.

Thursday, we had breakfast at a Polish restaurant in her neighborhood then I made my way to the old Helmsley Building, next to Grand Central Station to say hello to my old boss and the people I know there—only a handful anymore—one of whom I expected would be there at 11, but she was over an hour late. I saw her in Grand Central when I was on my way out.

I met Steven and Martha in the Grand Central Food Court, we ate and caught up a little bit. When I met Martha, she was living in San Francisco; in the past year, she’s moved back to Indiana, where she and Steven met back when they were in high school. After lunch, Steven had to get back to the theater. M and I went back to her friend’s apartment and smoked pot. It was a rainy day; we spent the rest of the afternoon walking around the City, making our eventual way to the Lower East Side for the show, getting lost, taking the wrong train, etc. again and again, laughing all the way.

We met up with some others at a coffee/chocolate/wine bar a couple of doors down from the theater. I bought Steven a cheap handful of flowers at a corner store and had a mutual friend deliver them and a handmade collage card I’d created. After the show, a group of us followed the cast and crew to a “speakeasy” called Lower East Side Toy Co., down hidden stairs into an alleyway to the end of that and up a back staircase to get there. The cocktails are served in coffee cups and pints of beer are served in coffee mugs. It was cool. Stevens’s group filled up the second floor. I wandered around saying hello to people I know and flirting with others—one of whom was a 35-year-old guy who remembers Steven and me from our performances in Philadelphia 15 years ago. (We both vaguely remember him. He’s straight, but is very comfortable with himself and very flirty. I liked that and hung around him quite a bit. Not because he was straight so much as because he was charming.)

I’d had a glass of wine earlier, the weed long before that (though I think I was still a bit high) and had three stout beers at the after-party, then missed the last step going from the second floor to the first, fell to my knees and jumped up quickly as everyone around reached down to help me up, professing I was okay. I was, really. I went outside and smoked a cigarette. It was raining lightly. I realized I was very drunk. I got to bed at 3:30 that night.

I met up with Suzanne, an old friend, at noon on Friday, September 11, at her Episcopal church on Park Avenue for the annual 9/11 memorial service. It was rainy, a fittingly gross day. Usually the service is a performance of Aaron Copeland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man,” which Suzanne says makes her cry every time. But the program had been changed, but it was still beautiful. It twas at St. Bart’s, a gorgeous old church full of firemen and policemen. As they filed out—these big burly men being overtaken by their emotions—made me sob.

At LaGuardia Airport, the sexual energy of the City was still with me (not that I’d had any experiences to speak of while I was there), and in the bathroom before my plane took off, a man standing at the urinal next to me asked if I was flying to DFW, and said he could “take care of that” for me if I wanted him to in the Dallas airport. Turns out he works for American Airlines. I was a little nervous, skeptical, all of that, but when I came out of the men’s room, he was behind an American Airlines desk looking up my flight information, connecting gate, etc. He told me there’s a secret stairwell in the DFW airport which is much safer that LGA.

I hemmed and hawed on the plane, but as I was walking down the corridor in Dallas, he appeared with his rolling carry-on and said hurriedly, “Follow me.” I had more than an hour before my plane took off, so I did, out of the security area to a stairwell next to the exit (which I guess goes up and down to the parking garage). We went up one flight. He said, “Take it out.” I did. I needed to pee when I got off the plane, and because of that and the fact that I was a little nervous, I wasn’t sure I would be able to get hard. But he was an amazing cocksucker, and I did, and he did his part and required no reciprocation, and in less than 10 minutes, we were done. He said, “I told you so,” and disappeared forever.

I caught the next flight to Austin; it rained all the way. The young guy next to me was a nervous flyer; the old lady behind me was having coughing fits as we took off. A young kid, two or three, had fallen in the airport and then started puking as they boarded the plane, so he had to be taken off and checked out (and firemen met us at the Austin airport to further check him out). I listened to podcasts of “This America Life” from NYC to Dallas and halfway to Austin, then meditated for the last 15 minutes of the flight. I thought I would go home and shortly to bed. But I was wired from the City experience and ended up going to the gay bar Steven goes to all the time. I met up with some freaks (one of whom was strikingly handsome and very funny) and stayed till closing time, then the handsome man said they were going to Midtowne Spa, the gay bathhouse here, if I wanted to join them.

I did. The handsome man made allusions to the fact that he might be interested in me if he weren’t there with the go-go boy from the bar (he said it before I paid the $21 to get in, I suppose so I wouldn’t feel betrayed). I didn’t do anything with anybody. I wandered around in my towel looking at naked bodies, sitting in the hot tub, talking. It was nice, but I didn’t get to sleep till 4:30 this morning, and now the grog is hitting.


I’m not sure where it came from, but lately I feel sexy and desirable. I’ve been putting myself out there more lately, kind of as an experiment, and it seems to be “working.” I went to a gay bar that I’ve never been to before on Friday night and met a handsome black man (not “boy,” my friend Peg pointed out, and it’s true, he was easily my age or older). We talked a lot, flirted a little; he bought me a beer. I guess there was the potential to go home with him, but I didn’t feel it. I mean, I felt the vibe, but I didn’t feel like it, so I said I was going home; it was 1:15 a.m. He became a little whiny—not too annoyingly so—and walked me to my car, where we kissed lightly (I realized we were in the street and there were straight people around, but for some reason didn’t feel in danger). He said, “I wish I could see you again.” I asked if he wanted my number. He said yes, and we exchanged numbers. By the time I got home, I had a text from him, saying he enjoyed meeting me and hoped to see me again. I wrote back: Ditto. Have a good night. I wasn’t truly sure I wanted to see him again, but didn’t want to rule it out. I figured it would have to do somewhat with how he “acted” toward me. I assumed he would be calling me the next day, or soon. It’s Monday, and he hasn’t called yet, which I’m fine with. If and when he calls, I’ll see how I feel then.

Saturday, I did some manscaping, with the planned intent of going to the gay bathhouse that night. I don’t know why; it was another part of my attempt to get myself out there some more, just to see what vibes I’m giving and receiving. I’ve been reading a book on improvisation and theater (Impro, by Keith Johnstone). I recently finished a section on “status,” and decided to utilize it in my visit to the bathhouse. Mr. Johnstone writes about how looking at someone you pass in the street determines status right away. If you and the other person stare each other down, you are struggling over high status/low status. The person who looks away first is low status. If the person looks at you, looks away, then looks back very briefly, that’s also low status. If you’re high status, you don’t look at the person at all, or hold the stare until they look away, or look briefly then away, but don’t look back.


I guess I am interested in a relationship. Does fuck-buddy count in that definition? I went to brunch with (C) yesterday. I have such a huge crush on him, it’s sometimes hard to speak. I feel like I have to plan my words so I don’t stumble over myself and vomit or something. While he was in the bathroom I came up with the statement, “I wanna see more of you.” which i delivered relatively casually upon his return. His response: “Thanks! But I’m not looking for a relationship.” And I said, “Oh, no! Me neither. I’d just like to play some...” He said, “I like playing.”

What does all this mean? I wasn’t being completely honest with him or myself. I’m not looking for a husband, but I would like to see more of him, would like to be seen with him, would like to say we’re “seeing” each other. Maybe that’s what he doesn’t want. And maybe I’m okay with that. Okay enough. I guess by saying I’d like to play, I was thinking sex, and I assume that he’s up for that. I mean, we did exchange blowjobs in my pickup.


Last night, I was startled by a bad dream. I was climbing to the widow’s peak of an old wooden house. There was a beautiful woman in a long white night gown standing next to me at the top. She stood up on the edge of the roof line and took a nose dive into the misty green silence before us. A moment later, I looked over the edge, and she had splatted on the concrete far below. It was startling. I thought, “Oh my god, she’s dead.” And then I woke up and thought it was supposedly a bad omen to see someone die in a dream (even though I’ve died in my dreams many times).

I remembered I’d passed two empty public pools in the previous day or so and had weirdly pictured myself climbing the diving board and diving into the emptiness. The part that stuck with me was that it might not kill a person to dive into an empty pool; it could just paralyze them, and as Peg says, that would be worse than death.

Just past the pool around which I’d that thought, my eyes caught the eyes of an elderly black woman at a bus stop. I smiled, but it was too late to see if she smiled back. I like to think she did. A few days before that, I was riding my bike through that same neighborhood and caught a glance of a black woman dressed in church-going finery. I nodded my head and said hello, and she smiled and said hello back. She was the opposite of the woman in white who dove to her death in my dream.





sunday, march 27

I wish I had a cigarette. I'm not much of an addict, but if I buy a pack—or a pouch—I tend to smoke right through them in a couple of weeks. I don't smoke from a pack. I go the roll-your-own route. But anyway. I stopped on St. Patrick's Day, this time. The last one was a day or so before that. I was in the middle of a breakup. I smoked the last one because I was bored, sitting out on the deck, waiting for him to make up his mind about what he wanted to do. I had slept with a guy who had HIV without a condom. I topped him. I didn't really think of it as a huge risk. I didn't let the guy top me because he was HIV+, but I did him. It was in the moment, random, stupid probably, but I did it. And I freely admitted it. And his response scared me. Even though we've never used a condom between us in the nine months of our affair. It was just weird. In the heat of the moment, when he wouldn't stop asking why I did it, I said Why do any of us do the things we do? Why do we smoke cigarettes? Why do we drive drunk? Why do you smoke so much pot? Why don't you wear a helmet? Why do any of us have sex at all?

I didn't know what else to say. It was an ugly breakup, ending with him destroying my glasses at a party in my yard. It was his most dramatic gesture after I kept not responding to his dramatic gestures the five days prior. But I still didn't jump on the drama wagon train. It wasn't really possible; it was dark out and I couldn't see very well. I sent him an email today asking him to "do the right thing" and replace the glasses. He can afford it. I don't know if he'll take care of his responsibility or not, but I asked him as nicely (and sincerely) as possible. The rest is c'est la vie.

At the same time of breaking a heart and having my heart broken, I also have this crush. I don't know if it's manageable or not. It seems manageable at times, but at other times, I feel like I'm being ridiculous. Well, I feel like I'm being ridiculous a lot of the time. But he feels the same thing about himself, he says, so he's perfect!

I don't want to talk about that right now. I don't really know how to talk about it. I abandoned my previous blog because I went in to disallow the recent ex access to it, and just deleted the whole thing. And you can't get it back when you push that last orange button. And you can't use the name anymore either. I didn't want to put it out there and let the people who know me only slightly know the story. (Though complete strangers are okay!)

I also hadn't want the previous blog to be so much about my shit. Or I didn't think so. But it turns out I have a real desire to process, figure things out. And when I don't have a forum for processing it, unfortunate things happen. Like I talk to the boy about my crush on him. Tell him I don't want it to affect his relationship with his boyfriend (who, by the way, I like too).

The thing is, I'm pretty sure this boy has a crush on me. The unfortunate thing about that is that I asked him. He didn't admit to the crush, but he did admit to being attracted to me. I just needed a little bone. But shortly after that (or later the same day) my good friend who has been watching this thing develop tells me I shouldn't tell the boy about the crush because then it becomes this Other Thing. Well, too late, friend. And I don't think that's necessarily true. I’ve spent my entire adult life (including part of my childhood during which I was an honorary adult) trying to figure It out, trying different approaches, failing (sometimes—many times—miserably), recapping and retrying. So this was a new tact. I just felt so fucking emotional around him today. The emotion was sadness and joy mixed together. It bubbled up and I cried a little bit. He noticed my change, probably not the tears, and asked if I was okay. That's what’s so great about him.

I made a promise to myself to be aware of how I was feeling, acting, reacting around this crush. I think I’ve been able to keep the promise on and off over the past near-month. I believe it helped me keep my shit together while the long distance relationship was falling apart and that boy was being dramatic. But it's a lot of emotion, a lot of drama to contend with. That, and the big party in my yard which was attended by 1,500 people and was mostly not my doing. (Because still it was a lot.)

And I struggle with depression, so that was another thing adding to it. I think I got through all of that, and handled all of it, quite remarkably. Other than my glasses getting broken, I haven't noticed any other drawbacks to any of those things (the long distance boy needs to grow up and enjoy his youth in the Big Gay City; there is more and more clarity with the crush boy; the party was a huge success and is behind me for the most part).

So I'm giving a new blog the chance to be an outlet for the things I don't want to say but can't seem to keep secret.

The desire for a cigarette has passed. I did yoga tonight for the first time in a long while. It was good. I hung out with some friends and watched part of a miniseries tonight. I'm feeling healthier and more able lately, which I think has to do at least somewhat with the confidence I’ve gained by seeing myself deal with all the shit I've been dealing with for the past month or so. All the work I've been doing for the past seven years is paying off, I think.





Fri may 3

There is a seduction with the young. You say yes, of course, but I say it again. I’m waiting for my hot chocolate (w/rice milk and molasses) to boil, considering the evening, relishing the experience, because young people dig me. I’m not shirking away from my conviction to own up to my age, and I’m adored even more. I think my other conviction (to not sexualize every relational experience) has something to do with the comfort level. Not theirs. They’re always comfortable, because they’re innocent, they don’t have the persistent struggle I fight against. These boys (mostly…) are beautiful, and sexy, and flirty, and straight So I had to get into that same mindset.

AT came over last night and we watched LIAB*. It was memorable first because he held my hand. We held hands for the first half. It was memorable secondly because after it was over, AT said, “Now I’m really looking forward to your show, now that I know what you’re capable of.”

I don’t—or hadn’t—readily accept(ed) my journey, my abilities. Regardless of what I had twenty-one years ago, regardless of if it was good or bad, I rehearsed and performed in front of thousands of people over 10 years. I sell myself short sometimes, and I don’t want to do that. HK said at our first writer’s coven that I just picked up GBC (her script) and arrived. “You showed up ready, and it was great.”

We met with AD—who came up with this idea of a three-person writing coven (she grew up with witchcraft)—this week to organize our monthly get-togethers. We decided to divide the evenings up like this: One person presents, one person hosts and provides snacks, and one person provides beverages.

We’re not starting until August because we’re all busy. I’m busy. Crazy busy. I am working more. And I’m (suddenly) getting a lot of interest. JL asked me a few days ago what my vocal “section” is, “bass or tenor.” I took a YouTube “test” and found that I can sing a couple notes below the bottom bass note (I think maybe A2?) to the top of the tenor range, which encompasses all of baritone. So I think that should make me a baritone, but I always get stuck in the bass section, which isn’t interesting enough to spark my attention. Today, JL asked me to be in an upcoming choral production by “kind of a big deal artist.” I said sure. It’s somehow related to the Wizard of Oz books—much darker than the movie (SB had those in her apartment in NYC and I used to read them while I was cat-sitting).

On top of that, JL is also directing me in Charlotte’s Web at the Scottish Rite Theater. And tonight at the party, ZC’s friend told me about a TV show video they’re shooting this summer.. They’re looking for somebody to play a lunch man/lady and my name came up. I’m not so sure about that last one. He’ sending me info about the audition, and I’m not very impressive in auditions (apparently). Three auditions in my life, all three recently, and I only got asked to do one of them. The others rejected me! That is to say I don’t fare well in auditions, and maybe that’s okay.

But that gets us back to the party. Did I mention it was ZC’s birthday party? A Great Gatsby theme. I wasn’t excited about going to a costume party, but I started getting dressed and easily fit the part. I put a touch of lipstick on my lips and my cheeks, put on my brown checked pants, brown squares shirt, salmon sweater (actually, a touch pinker than salmon), my brown-to-orange striped socks, my battered old linen shoes. Is that what they are? Loafers, with shoestrings. Thin shoestrings, made of fabric. Not the soles, those are leather, and wooden heels that click so nicely in the house. And I topped the outfit off with my maroon-ish polka dot bowtie and fedora, with the front brim dipped down and a feather cluster I found on the floor of the shed—from the hat of an ex-boyfriend. I tucked it in the rim and I arrived.

99% of the partiers were ZC’s college friends, so all early 20s. Most of them dressed to the nines (the girls rented dressed, the boys went thrift shopping. Z and his roommate had clip-on ties, but his other roommate, SL, tied his own without a mirror. He has many light checked pants, and was so cute with his mess of hair and his big Jewish nose. And he presented quite a nice package tonight, oh my, played the part, loved on me. It was sweet—the usual old straight boy crush—and he got drunker as the night wore on (fell at one point, and swayed). He was home, so it was fine. But he was quite amorous. And nice, for me because I can have sweet, affectionate, platonic relationships. That’s what I want. That’s what I’m down for.

At one point (early on, actually) SL said, introducing me to someone, “JDJB is so smooth, if you looked up smooth, you would find him.” I said, “Tonight I’m listed under foppish dandy.” He said, “As well. He’s so smooth, he has multiple definitions.” (Boy, isn’t that the truth? Not the “smooth” part, the other…)

I left the part at around 1 I guess (when I first looked at the clock it was 2). I made some black onyx hot chocolate w rice milk a, and sat down to capture the night.

It was Z’s birthday, and I’m still more than twice his age. But he loves me, obviously, and he likes to hug for a long time. All of those kids—the 99%—they were sweet, to one another and to me, theater nerds and computer geeks. The friends I should have had, would have had 32 years ago, a freshman in college, if they hadn’t been drawn into a mean little subculture.

So I can let that go a little bit because that was 32 years ago, those guys are splayed all over the place, geographically, in their lives. What I have is awesome, my relationship with Z, with young people who find me interesting and likable. And they trust me. They let me know. Verbally and in other ways. Tonight, the last I saw of SL, just after he fell off of the pallet the [???] was on, and knocked over and out a tiki torch, he said, “I trust you, JDJB.” I think I used to take that as a warning as opposed to taking it as the compliment it was intended to be,

I sell myself short. I was selling myself short to JM(RR)[?] about how much Jubilee did for me as a performer, really allowed me to let the creative inner me out. JM said “Well, when I first saw you with Gretchen’s Disco Plague, you seemed to have already found your inner you. I said WHO IS THAT SUPERFREAK WILDMAN? HE’S AWESOME!”

I responded, “Touché!” But I do believe there was a shift in my artistic paradigm during that show [Jubilee]. And things seem to be gaining momentum. HK asked AD and me if we would read a new script of hers and consider doing a staged reading of it in December! Stuff like that. Man, it’s amazing. My life is really amazing.

image by Heyd Fontenot