It’s only love, and that is all

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Alors. Right this moment I am feeling blissfully back on track following a week of derailment. I don’t often get sick (knock on wood, bad rice, etcetera) and I spent five days in bed with a fever and no appetite. Doctor ordered a CAT scan, all is fine, I’m better, but oy vey that was a rough one. And one that separated the wheat from the chaff, as traumas great and small always do. Thanks, you, for dog walks and beverages and making me eat and hanging out watching Le Mans whilst I wept on my fainting couch and all good things. And I can handle the bad things. I’ve told you this repeatedly and now I’m putting it in writing for my legions of readers (hello, you three) to note. So here it is, my pledge, I will weather the storms with you as you have and will with me and you’re stuck with me as your friend, manager, editrix, and Jewish grandmother. Put some sunscreen under that bike helmet.

Back in the music and art zone, which is where I need to be, always. Galleries Thursday eve, music last night, accompanied friend on photo shoots of the Empire State Building and the nether regions of Staten Island (beautiful [free] ferry rides there and back), and inadvertently bore witness to what could easily have been a reality show about horrid, coked up frat fellows and the wedge-heeled girls who love them on Friday night. From a safe distance. Keep your friends close and your amateur-hour-look-ma-no-hands-coke-binge-Skoal-packing dew schbags far, far away.

Happy Gay Pride to those who celebrate, embrace, and understand. If you don’t, please feel free to never read another word I write.

It’s a new dawn.

Across these purple fields

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When I reached the corner of 41st and Madison today, I saw a woman sitting in the street; she’d just been hit by a car, it seemed. She had her back to me and an umbrella over her head – it’s pouring rain in New York – so I couldn’t really see what she looked like. Her legs were crossed strangely and she was just sitting there, while strangers gathered around, talking to her and directing traffic. I was on a phone call and outside my destination, so I couldn’t really avoid the scene; it was incredibly upsetting. The vulnerability on display, the kindness of strangers – sometimes I feel too emotional for this world. Soon a firetruck arrived, followed by an ambulance, and after what seemed an exceedingly long time, they took her away. 

What made this especially strange was that I was already planning to write about what happened to me exactly two years ago today. 

In the winter of 2011 I fractured a tiny bone in my wrist – my scaphoid. I didn’t realize it for six weeks, six weeks during which I banged out a draft of a screenplay and downward dogged on a regular basis – something I doubt I’ll ever be able to do again. I wound up in a cast for a year – a series of casts, actually, as I had three surgeries on my wrist during that time. 

On June 7 I had my first (and, as it turned out, last) day of a class in midtown. I had an afternoon appointment with my wrist surgeon and in between I ate lunch in Bryant Park. It was the first hot day of the season – incredibly hot, and humid. I had enough time to walk to my appointment, so I began to head uptown after lunch. On the corner of 52nd and 5th I started to feel lightheaded. The subway was across the street and I decided to take it, but by divine intervention I didn’t make it. Instead, lights started flashing in my eyes and I realized something was not right at all. The last thing I recall is turning around, seeing a store and heading toward it to sit in the air conditioning. 

I came to surrounded by people I didn’t know; one person was behind me holding my head, someone was offering me water, someone else said, “You’re okay – you fainted but the ambulance is on its way.” I told them I had to get to my appointment and tried to get up, but they wouldn’t let me. I looked over at my purse and saw a puddle of what looked like Kool-Aid; when I asked what it was the person holding my head said, “We spilled something – don’t worry about it.”

This is hard to write.

This is what happened, I found out a few days later: some of the shop’s employees came back from lunch and found me standing in the doorway to the office, which was next door. Apparently I grabbed one of them by the arm and told him I didn’t feel well, and he told me to come in and sit down. He put his key in the door and I fell backwards through it. They stared at me for a second and blood started to pool around me. One of the guys who worked there was certified in CPR; he’s the one who was behind me with the compress on my head. I was out for a little over four minutes and it took the ambulance 15 to arrive. 

I remember the rest. The paramedics strapped me into the thing-they-strap-you-into and lifted me in. I asked them if I was going to die. They asked me all my pertinent info and compared it to my driver’s license. They asked me the date, the name of the President, and his predecessor; I made some sort of political joke because I was desperate to prove to the universe that I was okay and going to make it. 

My parents were flying back from France that night, so wouldn’t find out about this until the morning. My then-boyfriend came down to the hospital, though it was a while before he could see me. 

Once it was established that I was stable, I spent hours on a gurney in the hallway of Bellevue being hip checked by whomever passed by. At one point they wheeled me outside of an x ray room; a patient they were examining inside the room went into cardiac arrest and died. I heard them yell “Code Blue!” and a dozen people rushed past me into the room. I heard him flatline. 

Because it was a head injury, I spent the night in a room that had 24-hour supervision. My roommates were three men: one was a prisoner, handcuffed to his bed, with an attending cop stationed outside; one was a grandfatherly Latino on oxygen who kept asking for cigarettes and giving me sympathetic looks – he was very protective of me; the third was Mr. Singh, a Sikh who was yelling obscenities in Hindi all night long. He and I were separated by a curtain and the nurses kept shouting things like, “Mr. Singh, put your pants back on!” “Mr. Singh – that is NOT a bathroom!” I was on a Valium drip – Gawd I love those – and they kept upping the dose because having Mr. Singh as a roommate is not conducive to rest. 

One of the doctors who saw me was a young, cocky resident who was chomping on gum and trying to get me to confess to a drug habit that I did not have. 

The upshot of all this – a concussion and several staples in my head. The cut itself was fairly shallow. I had serious short term memory loss in the weeks that followed; as it turns out, the part of the brain that I injured is the part associated with communication and language. I forgot words. I forgot close friends’ names. I forgot who visited me and when. I couldn’t walk down the street by myself for many weeks. 

I sent this note around at the end of July:

Individual thank you calls forthcoming, but collective profound appreciation to all of my friends and family who’ve been so lovely and supportive in the aftermath of my accident. Feeling so much better in every way – and you were all absolutely wonderful during my time of many needs. Special thank you to Claudia , Mo and KJ for accompanying me to doctors’ appointments and acting as my short-term memory/balance when I had neither, and to Angel, Alyssa, Di, Erika, Sean, Suzanne, Vanessa, Christina, Linda, Tommy, Rachel, Cheech, Sherrie, Paul, and the folks I’m inevitably forgetting for visiting. Thank you always to Tara and Lisa for listening so well and so patiently.

I have the best friends in the universe. Truly. xoL

Wow. I’m glad I got this out. I really, really hope that the woman I saw today is okay, and that she has the guardian angels on her side that I did that day and still do. 

Un vrai cauchemar …

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I had deeply disturbing and intense dreams last night. I’m usually decent at analyzing dreams, but I need some distance from this one in order to do so. Three adults and three children had been kidnapped — I don’t recall details except that the perps were male — and were set out to sea in adjoining rafts. I went from observer to participant and then back to observer; at one point we realized that the kids’ raft had drifted away and we could no longer see them. We floated for a very long time until we saw land, then decided to swim the rest of the way. When we arrived on shore a group of benevolent islanders came to our rescue with blankets, watermelon juice, and food. Apparently I’d fallen for one of the two men I’d been trapped with. This faded away and I saw the back story of the kids, who’d all run away from home. They’d robbed their way through several small towns; the oldest kid, a boy, was about 12 years old and driving his dad’s car. These were all small-town kids from abusive homes; the younger were a boy and a girl of six years old. They went to a lake, very similar to one on which I boated outside of Los Angeles last summer (which is a story in itself), and stole a motorized, inflatable boat. As they made their escape the lake turned into an ocean, and this is where our crafts were connected. 

Is this boring? My mom once told me that nothing is more boring that listening to other peoples’ dreams, but I suspect that’s because I was giving her a very long-winded explanation of one I’d just had. 

The last thing I recall is a news report about the kids’ raft having been found, empty; they knew it was the right one because of the “tiny footprints” still imprinted on the surface. 

Any ideas? 

In general, weird dreams aside, I’ve been very much enjoying my new routine of going to sleep at a reasonable hour and having full mornings — something I have not experienced quite often enough as an adult. Most mornings have entailed my running late and arriving wherever I’m meant to arrive with wet hair. I’ve gotten quite adept at applying makeup in transit. So this is a vast improvement. 

I spent this past Sunday without human company, once my weekend guest departed. And while I usually love Sundays, I realize now that I need to make end-of-weekend plans more often. I felt lonelier than I have in a very long time, for reasons I fully understand, and it was difficult. So I will do my best to avoid this in the future. Loneliness is daunting and, I’ve come to learn, can be easily mistaken for heartache. In fact it’s very different. I have a tremendous group of people in my life, and what I need is to get better at being comfortable without constant plans. I love many things about my life, have no shortage of projects to work on, and live in a city where there is plenty to do — almost too much at times. I think I’ve become so accustomed to having company and distractions of the male persuasion that I’ve forgotten how to just be. So that’s on the list, now, too. 

That said, I’m looking forward to this coming Sunday, because I do have plans with lovely friends. In the meantime I have my ## high school reunion to attend. Not committing to the whole thing, just stopping by, which is perfect. I stopped by my last college reunion, had a surprisingly good time, and left without it having grown stale. 

The other day I passed a man who was having an impassioned conversation in which he could easily have been describing my ex, the Vanishing Man. He said, “It’s narcissistic personality disorder! He’s completely disconnected from reality!”

Ain’t love grand?

The photo above is from the Irish countryside. In 2007 I went on tour with my then-boyfriend and his band, to Norway and Ireland — two countries I’d never had an active interest in visiting. In addition to being prohibitively expensive, Norway was gorgeous — it was late summer, and the sun didn’t set until well past 11pm. Ireland was lush and beautiful and friendly. I’m craving my next trip abroad. If only one could earn a living traveling and writing …

Today, I pledge, I am diving back into my screenplay. If you know me, please hold me to this. This is the year I complete some of the many projects I’ve started.

I’ll finish this post later.

Perchance to dream …

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I slept for ten hours last night. This is almost unprecedented – it’s been a long, long while since I’ve done so and woken refreshed. Got to the office early and two new professional possibilities came my way before 10AM. 

I’ve had a lifelong battle with insomnia and have tested all manner of sleep aids and hypotheses and there is no one-size-fits-all cure. The only “cure” is to not compound lack of sleep with worrying about lack of sleep. I’ve overcome what was a hideous Ambien habit; still take the stuff on occasion but only on occasion. Some of the sordid details are here; many are not, as I was very conscious of not horrifying my mum when I wrote for xojane. In fact, I advised her not to read a few of my pieces as they might make her sad, but she did. They can be awfully stubborn at this age. 

In 1994 I rented my first solo apartment in NY – the previous year of living with a roommate eradicated my need to ever do so again, unless said roommate was of the male persuasion. At my housewarming party someone gave me a set of those newly invented poetry refrigerator magnets and we had a contest, probably over shots of Jaegermeister (the mention of which triggers Proustian memories, if madeleines had made Proust want to vomit); this was my entry, which remained on my fridge until I moved:

Sleep I worship after shadows fall beneath the sea. Drunk from love I watch you pant and dream a thousand summer’s deaths.

I submitted it to some online poetry anthology and its was accepted. The power of magnets. 

 

 

Across the universe

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I wish I could show you, when you are lonely or in darkness, the astonishing light of your own being. 

This quotation is from Hafez, a 13th Century Persian poet. Timeless and resonant. There are many people in my world who struggle to see the astonishing light of their beings, and words are no quick fix for decades of self-doubt. I’ve been there before, I was there for years, but I’m beginning to figure it out – my strengths, and what I have to offer. I’m certainly aware – too aware, I think – of my weaknesses.

The friend who introduced me to Hafez wrote this to me some weeks ago:

Thank you for writing this blog. You are incredible and beautiful and somehow after 12 years of us knowing each other, but not being in touch, you helped me today. You helped me get through a staggering heartbreak that made me feel alone, confused and helpless. Thank you for writing this blog.

It’s hard to express what this means to me. This is as good a reason to keep this going as any I can imagine. That and the comment I received today: I love your mind. Makes me swoon.

Swoon, darling, swoon.

As I’ve said before I am incredibly blessed with the people in my life, friends who have stood by me in my darkest hours, even when I’ve made it really difficult to stand by me. I’ve behaved dreadfully at times, and I’ve met with great forgiveness. Apologizing is important; forgiving is necessary for the soul.

I need to start going to sleep earlier. I resist it – always have – because I don’t want to miss anything. So I wind up missing sleep, and that’s not good. I’m foggy today.

I don’t know what the future holds – obviously, and I’m bewildered by the present; it took me by surprise. But I do know this: It is so, so lovely to no longer be in a horrible excuse for a relationship, one that was built on codependency and wishful thinking. One that, when I heard the key in the door, gave me a feeling in the pit of my stomach – wasps, not butterflies. One in which I felt the need to try to convince when I should have ignored the delusional accusations. One whose mother sent me a chart on the different types of abuse in relationships. One who required a preamble before friends met him. Extenuating circumstances, I’d explain. Traumatic childhood. Non-linear thinker.

My world is so much brighter without toxicity.