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Archive for January, 2010

All Things Merge Into One

January 26, 2010 By: admin Category: Abandonment Journal, Faith, Going Home, Happiness, Health, House, Living, Love, Molly, Valet Battleship Parking

Orchid’s soft, warm little paws press against me as she sleeps. We’re on the couch. I’m doing work and Orchid is purr-snoring beside me. I take a lot of time, regularly, to stare at these little cats, Orchid and Tut, and still, every time I do I wonder at how someone could abandon a living thing. I can’t explain the sense of responsibility I feel toward these guys beyond using the word “unconditional.” There is nothing they can do to feed themselves in my house. They cannot clean their own litter box. And just like us humans, they need affection and compassion and joy. And so I move around doing those things for them as much as possible because in addition to being otherwise powerless, they have given me a lot of joy, compassion, affection, and unconditional love. So I feel I owe them…

znoz

Sculpture by Tara Donovan. Photo by Molly Zenobia. This was the last day we had fun together.

When I was driving cross-country in early June 2008, leaving L.A. for good, I had the cats with me in the car. After one day of being crammed together in the crate in the passenger’s seat of my Honda, it was clear they preferred liberation, so I changed my morning driving routine. After breakfast I loaded them up in the crate, settled them into the front seat and when I knew I had enough gas to go for a while, I let them out to wander inside the car. Freaked out by the motion of driving, Tut instantly disappeared into the guts of boxes and suitcases packed in the back, while Orchid planted herself on a mound of soft things between the front seats but only just enough behind me to be able to look over my shoulder. From this perch she watched the road pass by as we made our way to our new home. I’ll never forget that. She’s only a cat, but was still there with me, present, through the whole trip. She had a strength and a personality and a wish: to be warm, to be near me, and to be free.

I clean their litter everyday because I know how awful it would feel to me to have to go to the bathroom in a “full” toilet. In CA I used to get up early to essentially do the same thing for Molly’s dog. He needed to go out and pee. Like the cats, he didn’t have a choice to get up in the middle of the night and go outside when he needed to, he had to wait for one of us to take him. That seemed so unfair to me that I worked hard to make him comfortable. By way of recompense Bobby (the dog) gave me the joy of his unconditional affection. He would nuzzle me and jump, literally, for joy when I said “walk” or took up his leash (which he didn’t need).

I don’t understand the ability to abandon a living thing. A friend said “It’s called lack of responsibility.” Molly got these cats with her girlfriend before me. They raised the cats together for one year in CA and then I showed up. I’ve never had cats or a dog, but once I understood their needs I accommodated them. If I hadn’t cleaned the litter regularly in L.A. it would have gone for days–over one week–without being touched. Molly just wouldn’t do it and the truth is that when I was working a lot and would come home wiped out, I resented having to clean the litter, so I didn’t. Many times I just let it go. I thought, I hoped Molly would do it so the cats wouldn’t have to step on their own shit, but she didn’t. Knowing they had to deal with that as much as they did back then is why I clean their litter box every day now that we’ve settled into our new place. It’s something so small that makes them feel so safe and comfortable.

I’m working on a lot of heavy meditation concepts today, which is why this is coming up. The work is on compassion and loving-kindness and the main message is that you can’t expect to have any compassion and loving-kindness for others if you don’t first have it for yourself. But the reverse is also true, and therein lies the power of the lesson. If you see yourself not having compassion and loving-kindness for another living thing, then there’s a good chance you’re treating yourself like shit too.

A couple of weeks ago I got a fake apology email from Molly. I say fake because the majority of the email consisted of criticisms about my behavior in our relationship. The rest were antiseptic broad “apologies” about her “role in our mess.” But even given all that was there, for it was an uncharacteristically long email for Molly, what struck me was what wasn’t there. There was no mention of the material stuff we still need to exchange, and no mention about the cats. To be honest, Molly hasn’t mentioned the cats once since last August when we briefly discussed her making fliers we could put up seeking adopters for them after we broke up. We never followed up with that, but even still, once I left CA she never, ever asked about HER cats. Never. As I try to learn about loving-kindness and compassion this is one problem that sticks in my head. How could someone abandon a living thing, and what does that say about them?

Seeing her do this and other similarly baffling things yanked the rug out from under me because I considered this person my soul mate. Molly and I were bonded so powerfully, and still are even though we don’t talk. No matter what happens in my life if she calls and needs my help I would be there like a shot. I love Molly very, very much and hope she too can find her way to loving-kindness and compassion, especially for herself.

Happy Monday

January 18, 2010 By: admin Category: Abandonment Journal, Blogging Dinner, Body, Cooking, Faith, Family, Fatblogging, Food, Happiness, Health, Humane Food, Living, Love, Molly, Valet Battleship Parking

This morning it’s hard to tell why I feel so good. Was it the reasonable and delicious “all food groups represented” dinner; the fact that we went to bed fairly early; the sex; the exceptional comfort and relief that comes from the feeling of our skins together in sleep; homemade French toast for breakfast? Or is it the combination of all of these things as well as the talking honestly in the middle of the night when she got scared that’s making such a difference?

holding hands

I used to be able to tell so much about my emotional state from the reactions of my body. Time was if I was bloated or constipated I was likely overwhelmed and needing some time to relax and center so I could eat properly again. That would also have been a sign of unaddressed depression or fear because when I get ahead of myself I tend to reach for any old meal instead of what I know is good for me. The phrase “we are what we eat” is sooooo true for me, but now that in concert with the settling of this honest, raw and beautiful new thing results in a greater ease than I’ve ever felt before, and so I feel somewhat compelled to identify it’s details lest I lose the ability to repeat it. That said, I also appreciate the mystery of “letting it happen,” so don’t you all flip out that I’m being overly analytical. πŸ˜‰

The simple fact that she and I can be confident about living our own lives without the classic dyke drama of needing to micromanage each other brings a relief I can’t describe. But sometimes I think it’s her big, brown eyes that make me so happy. Her eyes can’t hide anything and so when I look at them I know exactly where I stand and that’s new and wonderful for me. It’s been this way with her since the beginning: me learning all the ways in which my last relationship was deficient, the ways I was hurtfully neglected. This new squeeze is so open and attentive and loving and respectful that she is showing me to myself–HOW BITCHIN’ IS THAT????? I get to see the very good and very bad of me and, moreover, have a chance to correct the bad before it gets worse.

When it comes to just about any kind of relationship, it’s amazing the kind of shit we’ll let happen to us, the red flags we’ll ignore. If we’re lucky we get out of those situations before too much damage has been done, and if we’re really, really lucky we’ll have friends and family around to help us rebuild and tell us the truth so we don’t ignore any warnings the next time around. And if we’re really, really, really lucky we are sent someone like my new squeeze who shows us that our instincts are intact and that we deserve all the love we’ve been wanting for so long… :)

Happy Monday, everyone. :)

The (un)Civil War

January 14, 2010 By: admin Category: Abandonment Journal, Faith, Family, Going Home, Happiness, Health, House, India, Living, Love, Molly, Mom, Photoshop, Valet Battleship Parking

When Ken Burn’s The Civil War was broadcast on PBS it quickly became a family event for my father, my mother and me. My brother was still living in Boston at the time, and so he didn’t watch it with us. In the film there was one much-quoted character who stood out: Mary Chestnut. I loved her first because my favorite actress, Julie Harris, played her voice, but then grew to love her for her words and herself, even though she was a Southern secessionist. πŸ˜‰

civil-war-soliders

As I mentioned in previous posts, since Mom died I’ve been reading mostly about death, but exclusively non-fiction. As I come to the end of Isabel Allende’s latest book I panic wondering what could possibly come next. Then I get another cryptic, from-the-universe type of message and before I know it am pulling out books I’ve been carting around for years and have yet to read. All are books that had been originally inspired by The Civil War, one being “The Private Mary Chestnut,” Ms. Chestnut’s “Unpublished” civil war diaries.

Last night, returning from a concert of Hindustani classic music with friends, I glanced over at my livingroom bookcase for no reason at all. Something drew me to the stack of books hidden in the back row of the top shelf, the place reserved for books of no current importance. There were four books in total that I pulled out: “The Private Mary Chestnut,” “The Granite Farm Letters,” “Bullwhip Days,” and “Richmond During The War.” All are civil war rememberences, diaries or oral histories, and will be my next reads. Why? I’m not sure, but do feel there’s some connection to be made between my recent sense of closure, however odd it is, and the struggles and losses of those who, over a century ago, walked the earth on which I now live. They struggled in a conflict that tied up their hearts and caused them to tear each other apart. The connection I feel to that may have to do with a new sense of gratitude and grace. Like the folks in these books, who lived on this land, I have a choice in this moment. Incredible. As my friend Maninder said: “It’s like a game show, you can either take the $100,000 you’ve already won and walk away, or play it and possibly lose it all.” Like the folks who survived the Civil War, I am trying to eek out a new life from ashes. No, my war(s) weren’t waged with guns, but they did last too long and covered a lot of ground. And there was emotional pain. I’m luckier in that no one died.

I will be remade this year, whether by my own hand or others’. I’m looking forward to it, but it will change a lot, I think. Whatever this phase is that I’ve been in for so long is now, finally, over. I think it started when I was 26, when I first started having intimate, committed relationships. I’m not sure, but hopefully Mary Chestnut and the others will help me find clues and, ultimately, answers. Why not? Worked for Nicholas Cage in National Treasure… πŸ˜‰

See? Still looking behind me for answers. Hidesight, something-something-something… :)

“…and wrap my arms around a pillow i’ll convince myself is you.”

January 13, 2010 By: admin Category: Abandonment Journal, Body, Food, Happiness, Health, Living, Love, Molly, Mom, PMS, Unemployment, Valet Battleship Parking

Indigestion. It’s astonishing the things I can’t understand until I finally experience them for the first time. Is everyone like that, or is it really just me who lacks an imagination? Go ahead and say if it is, I can take it. I just find it exhausting, at 42, to still be learning more from looking back than looking forward…

500-Broken-glass(1)

For the last couple of days I’ve walked hand-in-hand with Tums, Prevacid, and something generic from Walgreen’s. The Walgreen’s version tastes the best and has the most flavors, but so far Tums wins the “killing the symptoms quickly” battle. The heartburn came on suddenly and became severe on Monday when I was in too much pain to get out of bed. I did some reading online via iPhone while doubled-over and am a bit worried that I might have an ulcer. Most of the recent literature disdains the possibility that stress can cause ulcers–as was once thought–but doesn’t rule it out. Whatever the cause, the result is that I am now afraid to eat, or drink coffee. Anything that might cause a heartburn flare-up is a no-no and so I’m stuck at the moment with apples, water, and caffeine-withdrawal. Anyone want to come over??? :) Those of you living on the brightside who are saying to yourselves: “Gosh, at least you have apples” are correct: at least I have apples. πŸ˜‰

It’s been my history that nothing ever happens with my body that isn’t a sign of something else. When I started declaring my independence from Mom I developed chronic bad menstrual cramps after years of mild periods; when Molly was breaking up with me I developed a urinary tract infection (my first!); now that I have indigestion after several years of eating well and exercising I have to wonder what the fuck is going on this time. Is it really the stress of prolonged unemployment? Seems like a good fit to me. There’s only so much rationalizing/mental hoop-jumping a girl can do before she just sputters and falls to the ground. Ah… time will tell, eh? I can’t wait for the future, so I can look back and find out what the hell happened…

“Stand up straight, Willie, we have to row.”

January 10, 2010 By: admin Category: Abandonment Journal, Faith, Happiness, Health, Living, Love, Valet Battleship Parking

Passion is what happens when you let all that stuff that’s inside come screaming through to make a case for your value to the world. If it doesn’t kill anyone, it’s passion; if it does it’s sociopathy and you’ll need to seek medical attention…

sunset-at-burle-lake-in-virginia

I should have known my lesbian therapist would turn out to be a Latin American fiction writer. I’ve learned more reading Isabel Allende than I have from years of sitting in comfy chairs whining about my luxurious first world life.

“On the trip I carried a bag of pills for sleeping, pills for imagined pains, pills for drying my tears, and pills for my fear of loneliness.”

New squeeze is going away for a week and instead of being mature I went headlong into that special, entitled wonderland called “dyke drama.” You want theatre? forget the catholic church. Dykes have religion over a barrel when it comes to dwelling on the emotionally absurd. As we drove back home from breakfast I held back a team of wild boar as they charged forward in my mind in the hot pursuit of melodrama. “Oh, no you don’t!” I called out to them furiously as we rounded a rotary. I tugged the reigns hard. “You leave this one alone!!!” I managed, somehow, to win the battle, but now back at my house can feel the team lurking in the shadows waiting for the war. “She’ll cave,” they’re muttering to each other (yes, imaginary wild boar talk amongst themselves). “She’s a pussy and will wuss-out long about Wednesday.” It’s when I “hear” this that I throw open the kitchen window and scream out at the tundra: “I COULD MAKE BURGERS OUT OF YOU, YOU HAIRY, STINKY MONGRELS!”

I noticed a pattern recently that, through sharing, will, I hope, soon loosen it’s grip on me. See, when things get good and solidify a bit, I get insecure. I don’t get zen, I don’t turn to my myriad ignored projects to distract my mind, I pick up a hammer and start beating myself about the face with it. First I worry that what the person is saying to me isn’t exactly what they mean. So yes, in effect, I tell myself that they’re lying. “She doesn’t really think I’m amazing, she just loves good sex.” Or, “She’s meeting someone else right after I leave. She’s got her finer on their phone number in her pocket RIGHT NOW.” Or my favorite, “It’s over. That beautiful kiss and her saying ‘I love you’ is really code for ‘Get away from me you ungrateful, skanky ‘ho.'”And so I turn tonight, as I have since this whole thing began, to Isabel for wisdom, comfort, and advice about how to proceed next. She replies:

“‘Stand up straight, Willie, we have to row.’ He looked at me with that confused expression he tends to have when he thinks my English is deserting me.” Which is really code for: “…by elbowing our way forward, we [succeed] in opening the space that is indispensable for love.”

Yee-ha. πŸ˜‰

Mind The Gap

January 08, 2010 By: admin Category: Abandonment Journal, Faith, Family, Filmmaking, Going Home, Happiness, Health, Living, Love, Molly, Mom, Unemployment, Valet Battleship Parking

By now most of you know that when my mother died something in me died too. The reason I started this blog in 2006, one year after she died, was to try and make sense of the empty feeling I’d been left with, and, possibly, to rebuild. Well, as you’ve all seen, the rebuilding hasn’t gone so well. I made a lot of bad choices, a lot of passionate choices, and a lot of good choices. Sometimes I was lucky, sometimes I bit the dirt, hard. But at no time did the sum of all my choices put Humpty Dumpty back together again. The hole in me, that chunk that got carved out and was burned with her, is still missing. If it is to be replenished at all, it can only happen with a long, slow simmer of combined true love: mine for myself, mine for someone else, and someone else’s for me. This is what I’ve observed in watching couples these last years. Healthy, happy union is possible, and helps us weather so many things. That doesn’t mean I’m going to run off looking for someone to make me feel better about losing Mom, no. It’s just part of the process.

384760830_49098fcd4b

I got a message last night about that hole and something in my mind finally broke free. It brings with it the despair inevitable for someone who has been hiding the truth from herself: I will never talk to Mom again. I will never see her again. I will never find someone or something to take her place and fill the hole in me that’s been festering for so long. The message shocked me into a new perspective. Literally. It was like getting corrective lenses after years of blurry vision. I can read street signs now–think of it like that. There’s no more hiding emotionally. I know what my truths are and have no choice but to move forward with them as my guide instead of the fantasies I’ve been waving around hoping reality would be just a bit softer than this.

If anyone has any ideas how about how a person deals with going from talking with their mother/best friend 4-5 times a week her whole life to suddenly not doing that, I’m game to hear it. My friend Christiane from college, who lost her mother before we met, and with whom I recently reconnected on Facebook, said of the grief of losing one’s mother: “Hold on tight.” When author Isabel Allende lost her only daughter to porphyria at age 26, she wrote a best-selling novel, “Paula,” but was still so distraught after thirteen years that she was worried she didn’t have any more books in her. She called her editor, a woman who always seemed to have the right answers to her creative conundrums. “Send me a two or three-hundred page letter,” the editor said, “and I’ll take care of the rest.” The result was the book I’m reading now, “The Sum of Our Days,” a letter to Isabel’s deceased daughter, Paula.

It seems that since Mom died the only stories that have resonated with me are ones about the deaths of loved ones: The Year of Magical Thinking, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, If I Am Living Or Dead, The Sum of Our Days.

The last happiest time I remember in my life was while I was working at Oxygen. Before the attacks of September 11th my days were damned-near perfect. I was completely fulfilled at my job and had good prospects for a loving, healthy relationship. Last night, during my walk, I realized that since then my life has been a patchwork of unemployment, confusion, terror, anger, longing, frustration, disgust, disappointment, and sadness.

The attacks in NYC caused Oxygen to close their broadcast center for ten days. Those mere ten days of lost ad revenue were a body-slam to the network’s financials and so it wasn’t long afterward that we started hearing about layoffs. My show’s came in March of 2002. Working at Oxygen had been the best experience of my life and it was suddenly over because of something none of us could control. Sadly, with the job went my brand new relationship, and my incredible life in NYC… That was the first time I felt something had been “untimely ripped” out of me, but still… I didn’t get the message. Before I moved out to LA, I caught Molly emotionally toying with her ex-boyfriend. She hadn’t told him about us and he was trying to get back together with her. He’d hurt her so she said she’d wanted to play with him. She liked to flirt. A lot. When I discovered that the “toying” was a little too close for my comfort I confronted her and she stopped it, but still… I didn’t get the message. She was a child and I needed to steer clear. The problem in making sense of my relationship with Molly, though, is that working in LA for four years was the kick-in-the-ass my career and my career-mind needed. As soon as I was out there I knew I’d chosen the right profession. Production is my fuckin’ element. To borrow a phrase from my old Oxygen boss, Laurie, “I can make chicken salad out of chicken shit.”

So where does all this leave me? Well, it feels like I’m to be remaking myself again. But this time it’ll be the stripped-down version. No arm-waving, just me. One careful step at a time. Mind the gap.

Ode To A Woodstove

January 07, 2010 By: admin Category: Abandonment Journal, Body, Faith, Fire, Food, Happiness, Health, House, iPhone, Living, Meditation, Unemployment, Valet Battleship Parking, Yoga

This coming March I will have been unemployed for one full year, the longest I’ve ever been unemployed. And so, I straighten the books on my coffee table.

There are “prospects” of jobs on the horizon, but there have been for almost all of the last nine months, and so I vacuum, and vow that when I come into my house from outside from now until Spring, I will change from sandy/snowy hiking boots to slippers so I don’t track mud everywhere.

Every day I troll the interwebs for a job suitable for someone who wants to stay in the town where she lives and not have a commute longer than two hours, and so I jump rope, do yoga, and meditate to keep from going insane. The thinking is that taking this time to “improve” myself in other ways will somehow show the universe that I’m worthy of employment. “See? I just lost three pounds, and I don’t as angry as I used to! Hire me!”

woodstove

The one thing I can actually pride myself on is that I haven’t actually gone crazy in this time, but yesterday nearly brought me to it… I went to the Apple Store to participate in a “hiring seminar.” The exercise was fun, for the most part, but the overall feeling from the group of applicants was buzzing desperation. We were all ages and all freaking out. This was, for most of us, it felt like, The Last Resort. Retail. Yes, I am applying for a job as a “Creative”–someone who teaches customers how to use Macs and their associated programs–but I think in order to ascend to that lofty position you have to “work the floor” for a few weeks, or maybe even months. I did retail. The Hard Rock Cafe. In my early 20s. The honeymoon wore off quick then and I don’t think I can resurrect the love for it today. That said, if they call, what choice do I have…?

This time of economic depression, like the famous one before it decades ago, will be marked by the bodies and souls it leaves behind. If it’s assumed that most of us will come through this one alive, it’s also possible that many will be letting go of pieces of ourselves that, whether sentimental or destructive, good or bad, given our new weaknesses will simply be too heavy to carry into the next phase of our lives, a phase that will begin with us nervously rebuilding our senses of self. I can already feel that creeping in to me. Yesterday, during the seminar, I was in my element–I understand Macs and their software, own an iPhone and iPod, a Cinema display–but despite this couldn’t help but feel that the woman who was co-running the seminar along with a male counterpart had a thing against me. Every time I spoke up or answered a question when they asked for responses from the group she glared at me disapprovingly or dismissively, I couldn’t decide which. Now, was all this in my head? The damage left by nearly twelve months of self-esteem-crushing unemployment? Or did this chick really just hate me without knowing me? These days every little reaction from a stranger in a position to alter the course of my life sends me into a stock car race of abusive self-analysis. And so I chop up wood in my workroom and reposition the hand-me-down leather sofas in the hope that soon I’ll feel relaxed enough to sit by the fire…

Head-Out-of-My-Ass, or 2010 ;)

January 05, 2010 By: admin Category: Abandonment Journal, Coal, Family, Filmmaking, Going Home, Happiness, Health, House, Living, Love, Meditation, Molly, Mom, Valet Battleship Parking

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Since Mom died holidays have been odd, tough to define. Mostly they’ve felt not mine, like I was carpetbagging. As a result the last–what is it five? four?–years of holidays have gone by without much memory. The best so far, I think, was Sarah’s tree last year. She was soooooo happy and thrilled about her “pesky tree” that she made the holiday feel like an actual holiday. These days, though, with Mom’s stuff dispersed between Michael, Dad and me, it’s hard to settle in to anything. To find a “home.” Cut to my breakup with Molly and you have One Confused Alexia.

Until two nights ago… πŸ˜‰

Two nights ago I slept in my bed for the first time in ten days. Granted, New Year’s was… amazing… but one’s bed is still one’s bed. No matter how much I’d like to make my bed comfy and cozy and “like home” for my new squeeze, it’ll never be as cozy and relaxing as her own. It’s the same with me. Waking up on the TempurPedic with the sun streaming in from all four directions provides a comfort and relaxation I can’t do justice here.

So, as a result of sleeping in my own bed again after such a long time I feel surprisingly “at home.” This is a first for a while, folks, and I’m eager to see if the feeling grows. A LOT of structure will come once I have a regular job again, but in the meantime I’m making the most of the time I have by finally doing the things I’ve wanted to do for a while: clean up the workroom; consolidate all theΒ  media that’s scattered over a few drives; finish some small projects; hang pictures of my family all over the walls of my house; learn After Effects and Logic; fall in love again; and let go of the demons of the past for once and for all. In short, I aim to get off my ass and make 2010 one of the best year’s of my life. :)

Years ago, while in college, a chick I had a crush on said to me “You decide to be in love, it doesn’t happen like a thunderbolt.” While I disagree about the thunderbolt I also agree about the decision part. What I think she meant was that too often we shy away from accepting how feel about someone, giving in to our worries that they might not like us as much as we like them. But where does that get us? Nowhere and stuck, that’s where. I’ve never been that guy and wasn’t expecting I’d ever be, so imagine my surprise when I woke up in California in the middle of a five year relationship in which I was. Well, that’s working on being done now cuz I’m DECIDING that it’s been long enough. I’m going to think of this phase like sitting shiva. I’m going to let my emotions settle in to 2010 and then I’m going to kick’em out the door. Yes, I still have a bunch of Molly’s stuff and she still has a bunch of mine, but FUCKIT. It’s just stuff. What I need today is LOVE, pure and simple. The love of family, the love of friends, and the love of a new love. :) Easy? Not easy? Who cares as long as it gets done.

Happy New Year, y’all. Time for everyone’s dreams to come true. :)

I Cried

January 01, 2010 By: admin Category: Love

I spent the turn of the new year making love, and then the morning after crying. Allow me to explain…

I’ve been bottling up. This is what I always advise my loved ones never to do and here I am doing it. I’ve been bottling up the fear that I’d call out the wrong name and push her away forever. This morning, though, she changed all that. “Nobody died,” she said, quoting me