(You Will) Set The World On Fire

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The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. -E. Roosevelt

I would like to put in an official request that this be a really, really good week, but I’m not sure who is in charge of such matters. I was under the impression that I was until last Tuesday, when circumstances and miscommunication led me back to a place of insecurity and panic that I thought I’d finally eradicated from my sense of self. I hadn’t, though I’d found some sort of tourniquet to keep them from bleeding out and affecting my everything. And as I am capable of veering toward black and white thinking, much as I try to convince others not to view the world as such, my missteps begat greater missteps and my lack of productivity one day rendered me inert for several more. It needn’t be this way. Moderation. Everything in moderation. Except cigarettes – they are never necessary. I shall repeat this every time I crave one.

A friend of mine was on set with David Bowie during the filming of Zoolander. Bowie is one of his many musical heroes – this friend is himself a musical genius who has many heroes and has played with some of them. On break they both stood by craft services and Friend tried to think of an opening line. Bowie lit up and Friend quickly said, “You still smoke?!” to which DB responded “Everything in excess, man.”

Thus far this week is shaping up to be a better one. Good. Let’s keep it this way.

I overheard these two lofty statements today. Different conversations:

“I’m mad at the world.”
“I should really do Brooklyn more. I love doing Brooklyn.”

Being mad at the world must be exhausting.

Assuming the second speaker was referring to the borough, and not the supermodel, that, too, sounds exhausting. Brooklyn takes up some 70 square miles and has a population of over 2.5 million people. I have tremendous love for Brooklyn. My father grew up there, playing stickball on the streets with guys named Lefty and Bubba. He was the secretary of his “gang” and kept such copious notes that when their clubhouse was raided (after the gang had gone on a kitchenwares stealing spree or something of that sort), names and addresses of all members were readily available. He is an honest man, and the speaker of one of my favorite quotations: “Everyday I wake up and think, today’s the day they’re going to catch on to me.” I think most of us feel that way at times, like we’re playing grownup or businessperson or parent and that through sheer luck we have managed to fool the masses into believing that we are those things. I wonder if professional con-people go through this. Probably.

Though I would love to keep up this stream of consciousness and continue to write here to make up for lost time, I must instead don my grownup-who-writes-and-edits-for-a-living costume.

It’s a good week.

In just spring

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Don’t feel like writing, and so I shall.

It’s spring! And as it turns out, beautiful sunny weather actually does impact me in a positive way. I used to shy away from days like these because they meant that I “should” be outside and productive and blissful and all – whereas gray stormy weather was a built-in excuse. But I’ve grown out of my life-is-suffering-I’m-unbalanced-I-need-excuses phase (do three and a half decades still constitute a phase?). 

So it’s been lovely, lately, I’ve been waking up so much earlier than my days had meant to start and that in and of itself is a wonderful thing. And I’d been feeling really strong and independent and complete. And then one night last week I had too many cocktails and I slept in and then that day never felt like it started so I exacerbated my headspace as best I could and blah blah blah the next day I awoke much later than planned. And so, as it turns out, it isn’t about turning bad into good  and late into early and weak into strong – strong,good, people (who start early) can have their off days. 

So that’s what it was, my loves – an off day. But I’m still the new, improved me. Thank God – and most of you. 

In the blinking of an eye …

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In the blinking of an eye

soon everything will change.

From a blue September sky

the brimstone falls like rain.

If true loves soars the heavens,

pretend and we can fly.

Soon everything will change, my love,

In the blinking of an eye.

-Neil Thomas, September 2001

I have a tremendous amount of work to do today but it must wait while I start to record my foggy early morning thoughts about what happened yesterday in Boston. My mum and I were just discussing, on our return from the airport, our mutual lack of desire to visit the Freedom Tower and 9-11 memorial. Our reasons are different, but for me, it’s just too soon. My memories of that morning – of that entire day – are as vivid as any I can think of. I was just discussing with someone (hi, you) the tendency for people to want to “own” such tragedies – to convince others that their accounts and their feelings are the most potent. I decided long ago (relatively speaking) to not try to out-9-11 others when discussing what happened that day, because everyone’s personal record is valid and everyone’s pain, regardless of which came first, the coverage or the emotion, is real. 

That said, I miss you, my sweet friend, and I know you’re around because I feel you around and I feel you right now in a way that I haven’t for years. And I love you. And I’m sorry that this happened to you. And I’m better for having known you. 

And I’m so sad for the people who had to bear witness to yesterday in three dimensions; coverage is difficult enough and I’ve only read; I’ve yet to turn on the television. This is going to take a long, long time to process and who knows what will happen in the interim?

Most of us don’t yet know who is responsible or how this happened or what it means or how many will ultimately suffer or when something like this might again occur. Most of us won’t die in a terror attack or lose a loved one to violence. But we’re all vulnerable, so let’s go a little easier on one another and let go of anger and vengeance and make like the Beatles and love, love, love. Perhaps it is all we need. 

 

An auspicious start to the day

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 Right now I feel stronger and better than I have in quite some time. So let’s embrace this. Yesterday was a bit of a beast – jet lag, post-Ambien blues, residual heartache, work-related angst and stress, emotional overload. ‘Twas a rough one but I knew I’d get through it, I told myself I would, and I did. I think at times I’ve been reticent to tell myself this lest I let go of fear for a fleeting moment and some malevolent higher power take this opportunity to say, “Ha! Idiot! You dropped your guard and now everything’s that much worse!” I’ve been working for years on eradicating my fear of this MHP – one that would strike down any loved one toward whom I felt anger or about whom I stopped worrying. Powerful entity, that, and a demon of my own creation. I don’t know how long this feeling will last and so I will record it; though that same part of me fears that the mere act of recording it will chase it away. Is this making any sense? The jet lag persists and I’ve not yet had coffee. 

Yesterday two dear female friends worked on helping me see the truth behind the vanishing act of my former paramour. He’s no longer missing, he’s staying away – from me and the others in his life – and though some clarity would help the moving on process, it is not a prerequisite because it can’t be. I heard from two of his equally baffled family members, neither of whom is gripped by the fear that I am, and that helps immeasurably. It is out of my hands – it is out of all of our hands – and there is no limit to what I could do in effort to sort this out, i.e. phoning every hospital in this very large city, filling out a missing person’s report, posting flyers around town, posting desperate pleas on social media, trying to track down everyone he’s ever mentioned, and more. He’s retreated. It’s nobody’s fault – we’ve all tried to love him and help him feel loved and ultimately his mistrust of trust is out of our control. This does not mean I won’t still have waves of debilitating fear for his safety or sadness for what could(n’t?) have been or for how I did or did not contribute to this present situation, but right now I feel that part of me is ready to give this up to the stars and move beyond. 

Yesterday, in a ten-second interval I could have easily missed, I ran into one of my favorite people in the universe on the corner of 36th and Park – kismet and comfort in the blink of an eye. 

And pre-planned, hours-long comfort with another favorite person and fellow traveler in recent heartache. A lifelong friendship developing in real time.

Now I need coffee. May this day be one of strength, comfort and kismet. 

No sleep for the wicked …

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…and an important lesson learned just now: do not update blahhggg post-Ambien. Apologies to anyone who might have stumbled upon and tried to make sense of the post I’ve just deleted. I sure couldn’t. 

At the lounge at Charles de Gaulle awaiting my return flight. This trip has been, overall, a wonderful experience and it could not have come at a better time. Or maybe it could have; absolutes scare me. 

According to my horoscope (I know, I know) today begins a chapter of my life that will be marked by a shift in identity. Not a crisis, this I insist, but a shift. I’ve grown so accustomed to hiding behind crisis mode that this could be a very, very good thing for me and the people in my life. No more comfort in the familiarity of darkness alone – I’ve made my point with the darkness and it with me. 

Here’s to the present, to the future, and to the people who make my world a better place. I hope that I reciprocate – actually, I know that I do, else you wouldn’t stick around. 

And here’s to the pilot – may this be a smooth journey. 

 

Something new …

ImageI don’t know why this photo is so enormous but I imagine it’s because this man is larger than life. He did let me take his photo for a few euro, he plays one of my favorite instruments (yep), and he has a kind and interesting face.

Still in Paris for another day and a half, and it’s been cathartic and important and Parisian and all that. Earlier I said that I must visit Notre Dame, which is very close to us, because it’s a tradition that I do at least once on every visit here. I take in as much as I can of its Gothic magic, breathe in the centuries-old air, get annoyed with people using their flashes when the signs blatantly ask that one doesn’t, make an offering, and shoot a photo or six of some gryphons and gargoyles. Tradition. I have to do it. But today started to run low on time and tomorrow I have plans that may not lead me in that direction and Wednesday afternoon we leave and … I realized … this “tradition” has served me in some ways but my first four decades were far from smooth, so maybe breaking tradition is what I need to do to make the next four exponentially better.

And so, radical as this may be, it is quite possible that I will NOT visit Notre Dame on this trip. And maybe my life will dramatically improve.

In fact my life has all the makings of being pretty damn good – I just have to let the not-so-good things fade in importance. I thought I was in love and I landed with a thud in the reality of heartache. Ongoing heartache as the object thereof has slipped away from me. He’s going through a tough time and I didn’t do everything right and blah blah blah how easily I make excuses for the trespasses of others. Time to actually be selfish, not just defend myself against accusations of selfishness. I am better than this. I deserve better than this. I will find better.

And that, my friends, just might be the punch-drunk late night me talking, but I like what I’m saying.

Onward and upward, says I. With all due respect to the man I’ve tried in vain to love. I want only good things for him. I wish ill upon no one.

I want him to love me. But he can’t.

And so I move forward.

To incredible lives and the wisdom of years.

The future is now

It’s been suggested that I post something else above the letter below, lest people visiting this page for the first time think this is all I write about. So here we are. Puppies! Rainbows! Happiness, that ephemeral concept … okay. I’m off to the Place de Vosges. 

Until later,

L