As time goes by

Version 2

I uploaded several black cat photos before choosing this one. I’m not really a Cat Person (allergies and such) but I do love the look of them. This is one of the many I’ve seen in New Orleans, and (s)he seemed appropriate for today.

Today is Halloween, which means that the rest of the year is around the corner. I’m generally loathe to lament the passage of time—like the weather, it seems a futile thing to complain about—but at this point in the year it’s difficult not to notice. I thought of a metaphor this morning. I was a fairly clumsy child; it was not uncommon for me to take the first three-quarters of the staircase in my childhood home at a steady clip, and then inadvertently speed up and run/trip down the last few steps. This seems an apt comparison for the pace of the years … we move along through the first many months, summer comes and goes, we start to embrace autumn and then BAM! it’s Halloween, and immediately after we prep for Thanksgiving, and then the holiday season. And this year we have the added seasonal pressure of midterm elections, the results of which so crucially impact this country that it’s hard to breathe in anticipation. If you are reading this and are NOT planning to vote, you are a big part of the reason we got to this point in the first place. You don’t have to share my political views (though today we are far beyond politics and into the basics of humanity), but for the love of all that is sacred, please vote.

I digress.

Someone asked me what my favorite Halloween costumes were when I was a kid and I couldn’t really think of any. We have photos, of course, so I remember being a prom queen (I was about eight years old and in the photo I’m holding my middle finger to the camera. Delightful child I was.), a movie star,  Cleopatra—that was one of my favorites. But the one that’s really coming to mind is a princess, when I was three or four. Not because of what princesses represented—I don’t think I was cognizant of that, and we weren’t inundated with Belle and Jasmine and all the rest—but because the costume was pretty and shiny and I liked those things. Of course, it being the 70s in the suburbs of New York, no costume was complete without the requisite long pants and down jacket. A kindler, gentler, colder time.

I’ve been having conversations lately about how much Manhattan has changed, how much “better” it was before (speaking strictly of the logistics of living on and getting around the isle; state of the world notwithstanding, I like my life these days). This morning my Lyft driver said that people have told him the city is much more crowded than it used to be and I said that yes, it seems that way, and that I think I preferred the way things were in the past.  He said,  “Oh, like in 2013?” Thanks to good genes (and Botox and hair dye), I don’t think he realized that no, I meant more like 1993. Which lead me to the realization that my satisfaction living here is probably as much a product of my age as it is anything else. Yes, it’s more crowded, institutions are closing, rents are increasing, but that was happening back then too. Back then I was part of the crowded, and part of the new guard that had moved in. I was hanging out in packed bars in the east village and waiting on line for brunch (actually I pretty much avoided that then, too). It was easy to be 23, but I didn’t realize it at the time.

And still, I wouldn’t trade the wisdom and the experiences, good, bad, and ugly, that have led me to this point. It helps to be one of those weirdos who believes in a master plan and an afterlife.

Speaking of both, I spent last week in my beloved New Orleans on what turned into a fairly successful creative retreat. I spent my days writing and my evenings with friends and it was delightful. It was my first trip there this year and I’m glad I  made it in time to celebrate the city’s 300th birthday.

This is a photo from a year or two ago, in the séance room at Muriel’s. It is in this room that Antoine, the resident ghost, allegedly took his life after losing the building (which was his home) in a poker game.

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Happy Halloween!

VOTE.

All I have is my love of love

ImageJust breathe.

That was the advice you (nypr) gave me some years ago at a time when I couldn’t, and that’s the advice I’m giving myself now. But at this moment I can’t. I will again. I promise. However, some weeks ago I walked back into a world I’d left behind, a world that’s been waiting to implode since its genesis, and last week it did. My version of it did, anyway.

Fuck.

I grew up in a microcosm in which I always felt the outsider, school to school and town to town, and I’d finally gotten out of it a bit ago. I walked back in for what turned out to be a very noble and highly worthwhile purpose but I didn’t get out fast enough. I should (loathe that word) have quit while I was ahead, realized that I’d been gifted the best that would come of it all, but I got swept back into the familiarity and false comfort of everybody knowing my name … and my drink and my past and with that comes people assuming my present and predicting (falsely) my future, and when you’re in a world that is so much smaller than your own, where the commodity is booze and the trees obscure the forest, you can lose sight of what actually matters. I absolutely lost sight and I made huge errors in judgment and it’s not at all all my fault but I held onto the fireworks that blew up in my hands. And I feel sick about it. I’ll be fine. But right this moment and for the immediate future this is going to be a bit of a roller coaster.

Fu-huck.

I realize this is vague. I’d apologize but I have nothing left to apologize for. And this is my cross to bear. Gladly, the cross-eyed bear.

Mira mira mira – it’s all going to be better than okay. I know this. This needed to happen. I needed to shed the skin of a life that ultimately did me no favors but that was with me for many, many years. I did not, however, need to loofah said skin off quite so hard. But I did. And so I need to ride this out and fade away and strengthen all the wonderful things in my life and inure myself to the pettiness that comes from spending time in the presence of small-minded people who mistake my me-ness for something it’s not, and who care more about what others may or may not be doing than they do their own motives for being themselves. To me this all reads clearly; to you it probably doesn’t. It’s also 4:10 AM and the couple of hours of sleep I’ve just gotten aren’t quite enough.

This is what happens when I go through a phase that I think is bliss and that leads me to believe all bad is behind me. Actually, I never believed that. I just didn’t expect this.

However. I’ve just spent four (five, according to Hertz) days in the mountains with people I love who love me back. I laughed and played and walked and swam and breathed. I saw wild turkeys (blah blah blah booze joke blah) and deer and chipmunks and that elusive, elusive forest. I (we) weathered storms. This is what matters. This is the world. That nondescript neighborhood bar owned by acquaintances where schadenfreude reigns is the stuff one skims from the surface and throws away.

I got cornered and showed my feral cat side and I “lost”. And in so doing, I know, I’ve gained more wisdom and strength than I currently know what to do with. I will breathe; I just have to let the good of it all catch up to me, settle in, and take over the darkness. It will.