Tag Archives: drama

the noise of insanity.

And there are these days where I feel the walls of my mind falling apart among themselves in silent clamor. I hear them crumbling and cracking within my head as they struggle for space within to call their own. I push them, and push them again far away from the stairs to my heart. I will not open that straining door to those blackened blocks of fear, of panic, of insecurity and failure.

Life and her grace continue to provide me with newer and brighter mornings to find hope in every hopeless situation. It lays at my feet the capacity to build newer and better relationships. I must capture all the fleeting frantic sticky moments of this day and force them… no, cradle them within my soul and mortar those tumbling chunks of insanity within.

I WILL succeed today. I WILL once again, be able to detour that which is not welcome in my world. I WILL breathe in the perfect peace and fill my lungs with inhaled freedom. I will squeeze my eyes shut harder still to deny the light of any cruelty on this day as this gloriously exhaustive struggle of staying sane remains.

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the Negro nod.

Please bear in mind that while Daryl totally supports my blogmanic blurbs on our co-named site (after I post them of course), that I should have a disclaimer somewhere on it that states that my opinions are NOT necessarily his.

Oh well, my bad.

Daryl and I have very little quality time together as most of you are aware. That being said, when we ARE together, prancing ourselves around in public as a happy go lucky interracial gay couple living in the Republican singed suburbs of Philadelphia (whew, more labels there than a “can-can” sale at Shop Rite), there are subliminal public observations that I tend to notice. It could be a wave, a gesture or a tone of voice… but there is one observation that is different… one that is frightening… one that I call…

… the “Negro NodTM.

Now I realize that I’m using an N word (as opposed to the N word) that is racially reserved for those of color, but frankly, this is my blog and my subject matter and I’m an adult of the utmost maturity, so there.

I didn’t notice “the nod” in the first stages of our budding relationship. Hell, we were in the throes of romance, and passion, slathered with loads of ubiquitous sex. Our eyes never left each other in the first few months (although I don’t think Daryl actually realized that I had blue eyes until our fourth date) and we were newbies and fresh and still discovering all of Daryl’s quirks and issues that I had to deal with.

Then, one steamy summer evening…

… while we were at a local mall shopping for candles, wine glasses and most likely underwear, I realized that there was a code… a secret code that I was not privy to. I was not a part of. Whenever Daryl and I would walk past another Black couple or family, the male would make eye contact with Daryl only and nod ever so slightly. I was confused at first. I smiled at them too, but they would only nod at Daryl. It wasn’t fair and it wasn’t polite. I felt invisible. I felt… what’s the word I’m searching for…

White.

I wondered if perhaps it was just a onetime thing, then I noticed it happening in other public situations like grocery stores, bars, movies, bars, the wine store, festivals and bars. I was appalled at how casually I was ignored by the men in Daryl’s race. No nods for me. What did I do to deserve this rude racial behavior?

Was it like some secret handshake between “brothas” that I was to never know? Was I being paranoid? Was it a silent symbol of solidarity that meant that someday the Black men would take over the world and I would be the one thrust into slavery forever? I felt panic and despair rise within my gut and then I thought…

Maybe I was over analyzing?

Daryl and I have discussed it in length. He says that I’m over reacting again and that “you Crackers do your own nodding too” but I still think I’m missing something. It’s as if he’s hiding a long guarded secret from the Mother Continent.

As a pasty White man, I don’t ever remember that sense of connection, or camaraderie with other White guys. I wasn’t a part of that fraternity. Then again, I didn’t really play a lot of sports, and I DID find my girl cousins a lot more fun to hang out with than the guys. I still sometimes attempt to do the “high-five” but I never really get that quite right either. I usually miss, or have my palm get slapped so hard I can’t use it for days. Not that I USE my palms for days mind you… sheesh… I’m digging a hole here.

Perhaps I could possibly lessen the significance of the “Negro Nod” by going into the secret signals and nods of gay men, but frankly that would be redickulously complicated and overwrought with more dramatic definition and flamboyant flair than I have time or patience for this afternoon, so I’ll save that for another day.

In the meantime, you just watch… you’ll see. Watch the interaction between Black men in public locations. Try to ignore it. I dare you.

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Top Ten Ways Two Gay Men Prepare for Irene.

Apparently we are in the path of what weather forecasters are calling the storm of the century. Now I realize that I’m a poster child for “skepticism” and I have been known to “pooh” these forecasts, but JUST in case, there are a few things Daryl and I need to do in preparation…

1. Check supplies of batteries. What the heck for? To put in a radio? We haven’t seen a “radio” since the seventies. (For the record, we have a DuraCell credit card)

2. Check for flashlight? Hrmpff. We’ll use our battery operated candles. It’s all about ambience.

3. Fill the bathtub with water. Um… we’ve done things in that tub that make us SURE to not use tub water for ANYthing.

4. Check bottled water. Do mixers count?

5. Get bread, eggs and milk. Oh wait… it’s NOT a snowstorm.

6. Check vodka supply. LOL. Like we’d forget that.

7. Check vodka supply, again.

8. Stay tuned to TV for up to the minute emergency coverage of the storm. Um… we have Comcast for cable and AT&T for our iphones. We’re screwed and will most likely watch a DVD of Mrs. Doubtfire.

9. Stay inside; drink plenty of fluids and rest. Wait… I think that’s if you’re sick.

10. Basically, Irene is considered an extreme blow job. Fortunately for us, we’ve got THAT one covered.

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just a taste.

Yesterday, as I was taking advantage of the outstanding weather while enjoying my 3 mile brisk walk in the park, I was trying to think of a concept to write about later in the day using “taste.” I wanted to use metaphors that included and fused the power of the senses to bring about my love for the “flavor of tasting the day.” I know that might sound odd, but I truly enjoy food. Actually, I enjoy meals. I love the process of creating culinary atmospheres that are filled with conversation, laughter, good wine and backed with some amazing music.

I never DID author a piece about tasting the day. Just as I sat down on the sofa to get started on producing something about how the sky was mixed with clouds like a wine based rue…

I felt the earth move.

Literally, I could see and feel the condo vibrating and undulating under me. It lasted a brief ten seconds or so, but it was a very unusual sensation. As I looked at the cat for some sort of visual on her take of the experience, I saw no reaction from her as she continued to swat at a honey bee on the porch. I initially thought that perhaps my blood sugar was out of whack, or maybe I was experiencing an unusual heart palpitation.

Then I watched as several Face Book statuses began rolling like the ground beneath me. “Did anyone feel that??” “Earthquake reported at 5.8, centered in VA!” “Cell phones are jammed!”

I was not crazy. This time.

Needless to say, the activity and the buzz from this rare East Coast occurrence put a slight damper on my writing project for the day.

So I compensated. I played chef.

Below are photos of what I now fondly refer to as my “Quake Concoctions.” Enjoy.

"Earth Topplers?" Home made olive oil and fresh garlic toastettes, topped with plum tomato, sweet corn from the cob, spicy shrimp, fresh chopped basil and shaved Parmesian.

 

"Richter Scale Skewers?" Fresh sun-dried tomato and basil chicken sausage, skewered with local squash, Vadelia onion and red peppers on a bed of brown rice and spicy Thai sauce.

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final destination.

I worked 7 days in a row this past week and today was my day off. Usually, I have a list of chores including supermarket shopping, cleaning, and other errands and appointments that fill the day quicker than a bolt of lightning lights the sky. Fortunately, Daryl and I tackled the torment of grocery shopping last night after work, and most of my other errands can wait until another time. I made no plans today.

The day was mine.

I enjoy going to the movies alone on my day off. I’ve been a fan of solo movie watching for years. The very first time I attended a movie by myself was when I was about 21 and the original horror flick Halloween came out. It was a chilly, blustery autumn day and there was a new theater that just opened up in my neighborhood. I liked the fact that I didn’t have to be concerned that whoever I was with was enjoying the movie as well. It was rather liberating. I was also afforded the very best seat in the house which was dead center, about 8 rows from the screen with all the popcorn I could eat without throwing up.

So this morning, when I heard there was a new 3-D version of one of my favorite teen in peril blood fests with eye-popping, lap-dropping mangled appendages bursting from the screen, I jumped at the chance to get to the 11:00 am showing of Final Destination 5 while Daryl was at work.

Daryl and I have many similar tastes in movies including Mrs. Doubtfire, Bird Cage, Sex and the City (the first one only — the second one was a hideous disaster) and The Color Purple, however, we also share VERY different preferences for the types of movies we don’t like. For example, Daryl does not care for movies that are scary, violent or gory. On the other hand, I have always been a huge fan of horror, blood and the occasional disemboweled entrails. We have often discussed our cinematic clashes and have agreed that my solitary treks into terror are just what the witch doctor ordered.

I had the entire theater to myself this overcast morning. As I was downing my breakfast of popcorn and snow caps while the obligatory previews rolled across the large screen, I silently wondered as I put on my special glasses… why DO I like to watch death, mayhem, and destruction? Perhaps it stems from growing up on Saturdays glued to television’s “Doctor Shock’s Creature Double Feature.” The black and white classics of Vincent Price and Claude Rains were my escape into the macabre. The special effects of the great Tom Savini and his mastery of gore in the seventies with movies like Dawn of the Dead and Friday the 13th were my meaty morsels of madness. But does that truly explain WHY I am STILL attracted to these gore fests like a butcher knife to a shower?

I’m afraid of death.

Plain and simple, death scares the shit out of me. Maybe it’s having a ghastly death that bothers me. Final Destination 3-D literally THREW gruesomeness into my face. Severed heads, bones and hollow eye sockets were tossed at me like balls to a basket, bouncing randomly through the theater before landing on my lap. Who would have thought that getting an erotic massage would beHeadly… I mean be deadly? How could a simple laser eye surgery go horribly blind tossing the eyeless victim out a six-story window? And I would never think a haphazardly misplaced half inch screw could literally fuck me over. Sigh.

The unexpectedness of a horrendous death is what bothers me the most. By making just one tiny incorrect decision, I could snuff my life out in a matter of seconds. A wrong turn. A missed glance. Being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Perhaps this is why I watch this catastrophic carnage. I think by having this terror tossed at me on MY schedule, it gives me some sense of controlling death. Or at least the timing of death. Now mind you, I certainly don’t obsess about my personal method of demise, but watching this type of movie forces me to be more aware of my every step, bringing me caution.

I left the film as I came in… alone, vulnerable and continuously looking over my shoulder. I searched for loose pipes as I peed in the men’s room. I tip-toed cautiously down the empty claustrophobic hallway searching for the elusive exit sign. I looked both ways twice as I stepped into the parking lot toward my car.

As I was driving home I noticed EVERY weaving propane tanker truck in view. Loose ladders tapped dangerously with sinister glee as I passed pickup trucks covered in paint and tar. Every leaf blowing free from the side of the road mocked me while dancing across my tenuous path. Break lights winked in red just waiting for my forgotten turn.

Fortunately, today, I made it to my final destination in one piece.

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cracked.

Innocence shattered. A broken reputation. A Cub Scout criminal. My initiation into the wrong side of the law was on a hot summer Sunday afternoon in 1968, when I was just a sun-kissed, freckle-faced, blond-haired skinny kid who was barely 11 years old.

My family had just moved into a newly built home in West Goshen Township. It was a small brick and stucco ranch house on a dead end street situated on a level sixth of an acre. I remember thinking upon entering the side kitchen door and then walking through the dining room, the living room and hallway that it seemed like it took hours to get to my own bedroom in THIS castle. Echoed footsteps on hardwood floors shadowed me from where we moved in our small cramped apartment in the country. I no longer had to share a room with my brother and I no longer had to sleep in the bunk beds of youth.

Freedom for sure… but at what price?

This particularly warm Sunday in June about a month after we moved in, my parents had invited some of our relatives over for a house warming party. The back yard was dotted with aqua blue and sunshine yellow folding web-woven lawn chairs. Red, white and blue Budweiser cans littered a plastic table cloth covered picnic table, as a brand new “colonial orange” charcoal briquette-filled grill from Sears Roebuck puffed white smoke. Several of my laughing aunts and uncles tossed colorful lawn darts toward circular targets among weaving toddlers. Sure, the game was dangerous, but my family was all about living on the edge… and on this day, the family tree was swayin’ and making this branch take a lawless twist to the ground.

In the late afternoon, several of my similarly–aged cousins and I had become bored of the back yard festivities and determined (after we checked with our parents, of course) that perhaps we needed to explore this new uncharted neighborhood and some of its adjoining wild territories. We voted to take a short walk nearby to the newly opened West Goshen Shopping Center across Paoli Pike. We were an eager handful of energetic youngsters looking for an adventure of discovery. We clapped and sang our own made up songs as we strolled to the end of this new street.

Once we crossed the highway, the group of us ran down a hill like an invading army and quickly filled the sleepy “Thrift Drug” store. It was the only store in the whole shopping center that was open on Sundays. We located a large freezer toward the front of the store and began to grab at the boxes of cold, colorful selections of flavored “Twin Popsicles.” The popsicles cost a nickel and they were just what we needed to cool down on this steamy day.

The shopping center was full of stores that were closed on Sundays and was anchored by the ACME Supermarket. The center also included a Hallmark card store, a book store, a Woolworths 5 and 10, a corner hardware store, a men’s clothing store called Ward & Ward and other assorted smaller stores that time has fogged from my memory.

As we sucked the frozen juice of the pops, we left the drug store and came out into the warm summer heat. We headed a short distance toward the ACME where there were groups of neatly stacked chrome shopping carts just begging for our attention. They were all lined up in a straight row of glistening metal baskets on wheels.

I’m not sure exactly who decided to pull a cart out from the pack and start pushing it, but soon the older cousins and I had the smaller kids inside the carts as we shoved them over the sidewalks of the shopping center. Their squeals of laughter at riding in these buggies provoked us to push faster as we raced each other in a frenzy of four-wheeled fun. Back and forth we went, occasionally bumping into each other while the sweaty tiny passengers with cherry red Popsicle lips were giggling at the metallic crash that the carts would echo under the awning of our cement sidewalk “street.” We continued smashing into each other creating loud metal on metal crashes.

“Faster!” the kids would scream. “We want to go to the train station over there!” as they pointed their tiny fingers across the lot. They were indicating that the Ward and Ward Men’s store entrance was the station where we would pretend to fuel our carts and load and unload our tiny passengers. Ward and Ward had an indented entrance. Their doorway was off the main sidewalk allowing their floor to ceiling height windows to display more suits, slacks, shirts, neckties and shiny shoes. It was the PERFECT “train station.”

We quickly made it a race to see who could get there first, bumping each other along the short path to the “station.” There was room for two or three of our carts to be in this “station” area at a time. I had two of my little cousins in my cart as we spun around quicker, now in circles in a race in this tiny vestibule of glass. I too, the driver, was getting dizzy as we laughed then choked as we gasped for air. Suddenly, my cart got out of control and SMASHED directly into the front large glass window of the shop.

It was as if slow motion took over as I remember watching my small cousins turn white from the shock of crashing into the window. I remember watching the glass crack from the point of impact then shatter in large pieces as a deafening alarm went off echoing even louder in the cramped area. I watched in open-mouthed amazement as the cart actually continued traveling into the shop itself as my cousins hopped out of the cart onto crunching glass and out of the store as they ran past me.

I froze. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t move. All I heard was the shrieking alarm and my feet were glued to the floor of the sidewalk. As I turned slowly around, I could see all my cousins running toward home, a few of them looking back with frightened faces to see if I was coming. “Come on Eddy!” they mouthed, “We have to get home now!” I was still stuck to the ground as my numbed mind began to awaken and I started to run. My cousins were almost near the highway as I tried to pick up my lagging, dreamlike pace.

Suddenly I heard the loud wails of sirens. Quickly, flashing red and blue lights were everywhere as I panicked and stopped in my tracks. I was immediately surrounded by West Goshen Police cars, with no way out. I watched as my cousins crossed the highway in the distance and were quickly out of sight.

I was an emotional child growing up. I was very shy and would cry at the drop of a hat. I once cried to get out of a school holiday play in the second grade so I wouldn’t have to put on a homemade doctor’s uniform to the girl’s nurses costumes. It was pathetic. And now, with this shattered window fiasco, I began to tear up thinking I was going to jail for a very long time.

I stood there motionless as the two policemen approached me with pads of paper out and looking like they were ready to cart me off to some unknown prison in the bowels of a West Goshen Township Building somewhere. The alarm continued to scream as I imagined a diet of bread and water and a hard iron holed bed with no mattress and I began to sob. This was no way to begin my initiation into this new neighborhood. I cried harder still, as the two policemen looked at each other and shrugged. The taller one put his hand on my shoulder and asked me to take a seat in the back of his still flashing police car. I was devastated. I could see a handful of Sunday shoppers looking at me. I was ashamed. I became a criminal that day.

The store’s alarm finally stopped.

My ears still ringing, I watched in silence as the policemen took notes, observed the scene of the crime, took a few measurements and put up some yellow tape. Was I going to be on the news? Would my name be in the paper? Would I get out of doing my math homework? I was contemplating my ruined future as my Dad rolled up in his black Ford Falcon with red bucket seats. Tears began to pour down my cheeks as he strolled up to the police officers while he glanced my way.

All I could think of was that I JUST got a new bed room and now I wouldn’t get to use it. What would my Mom think? Would my family have to move from their new home in shame? My Dad was making gestures and continued to talk as the tall officer continued to write on his yellow pad. Finally, Dad turned and started to walk toward me. I couldn’t read his face through my red and throbbing eyes. He told me to get out of the car and to hop in his. I stood as he slipped his arm around my shoulder and whispered that I would have to pay for the shattered window.

I never did.

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the giving tree.

The cutting of the trees was the last straw. I came home yesterday to a new view.

Apparently the condo association was informed by the local electric company to remove several beautiful white pine trees from around a few of the fatigue green boxed transformers located within the development. These trees HAD to be over 50 years old I’m guessing and provided year round green and sweet summer shade. Now our building looks… what’s the word I’m looking for… STARK! Sure, I understand that the roots of the trees were more than likely cutting power unnecessarily and the branches of white pines are notorious for breaking and causing damage during wind storms, but there MUST have been another way.

There wasn’t.

I relish my shade. I crave it actually. It gives me time to stop. To think. To cherish the absent warmth of the sun. The shade even smells different. I would so enjoy walking through the shade on my way into the condo after a particularly insane day at work. I got to depend on my shade.

I took my shade for granted.

Throughout my life I have always gravitated towards shady people. Let me clarify that. I am drawn to folks that have a sense of peace… a sense of calmness that comes from within. I’m sure it’s my way of balancing out my flair for the over dramatic and emotional bursts of passion that seem to plague me from time to time. In my personal life, Daryl has certainly been a steady provider of shade that I am learning not to take for granted.

At work, however, I have lost yet another tree.

There have been many changes in personnel at the showroom I have called home for close to seven years. I have seen more people come and go than an old episode of Threes Company. In our line of work, the hours and the down time can be excruciatingly cruel. The demands of commission-based paychecks have sometimes been too much for many a struggling salesperson, and they leave or get fired. Just when I think I’m getting used to it. I’m not.

This week, a gentleman that I consider a GOOD home furnishing salesman… an HONEST salesman… a REAL person has decided to take a position in another store as a manager. He’ll be incredible at it. He has an amazing way with people. The new showroom that he is heading to is very, very fortunate. This man deserves to be successful and happy and I wish him the very best in his newest challenge.

But what about MY shade?

I still always find myself gearing up to be constantly “ON” for new and existing customers. It takes a lot of energy to remain positive when you actually feel like shoving a cocktail table where the sun don’t shine (how’s THAT for shade?). Having this man around would always somehow seem to make the day just a little easier to bear. Without him knowing it, his presence had a way of “bringing my blood pressure down.” I’ve enjoyed (and taken for granted) the company of several other trees at work too, but they seem to keep getting chopped down as well, leaving me with saplings, the occasional parasol, and a bunch of dried up weeds*.

I believe I’m selfish and I miss my shade. Hurry up and grow, sweet forest!

*Dear other people at work… this does NOT mean I consider you all dried up weeds by any means (well MOST of you anyway). It’s just a writing analogy with regard to trees and shade. Get over it.

(a favorite book of mine is Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree. Check it out!)

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