Friday, August 10, 2007

Dropping Off the Face of the Earth for a Week.

This afternoon, I will fly to New York. I'll spend the weekend with Tim, and then we'll drive (he'll drive) up to Western Massachusetts on Monday morning. They tell me there's only dialup internet where we're staying. I didn't even know they still made that.

So I doubt I'll be blogging till I get back, which is good because I shouldn't be blogging anyway -- Tim and I have 5 days to do about 5 months worth of work -- but I would be tempted to write a little something if I had wireless there.

Eleven artists will be there. We'll work on our own all day, come together for dinner, and then commune in the evenings. We'll share the household chores, and each of us is responsible for preparing one meal for the group. I told Tim I would do both our meals (with his help), since he's not really a cook and it comes naturally to me.

They asked us to send a shopping list in advance. I planned two meals and wrote up my list. I had a little paroxysm of self-consciousness when I saw it written out. It seemed like simple fare when I thought up the menus (roasted Portobello sandwiches with red pepper and arugula, baba ganoush, cucumber salad with lemon and mint, etc.), but the grocery list looks like super-homo food snob in the kitchen. I wonder what everyone else will make.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Lost My Book, Almost My Bike.

I just got back from the library, my neighborhood branch. I've been reading all these Lizzie Borden books, and there were two I wanted to take with me to the writing retreat. One is the conspiracy theory: Lizzie's secret illegitimate brother did it. It's not due till after I get back. The other is called Forty Whacks, and it's my favorite. It's a sober telling of the events, more or less proving that Lizzie couldn't have done it because she didn't have time ... but neither did anyone else. It was due today and I've already renewed it once, so it was really due today.

Anyway -- and I've done this before -- I planned to return it and check it out again. They've done this for me several times, provided there isn't a "hold" on the book (meaning, someone else is waiting for it). Not today. Since the book came from another branch, I would have to take it to that branch, turn it in, wait till it's back on the shelf, and then check it out again. But I'm leaving tomorrow. I pleaded with the man, but no dice. Then I called the branch that the book came from and pleaded with the woman there. By this time, the book was already checked back in, so it was too late to just keep it and pay the two bucks for returning it a week late. That's what I should have done. Damn.

I've gotten in the bad habit of leaving my bike unlocked at the library if I'm only running in for a minute or two. It seemed like a waste of time and energy to spend on this activity which supports an attitude that my neighborhood is full of thieves waiting to pounce on an unlocked bike. I guess I want to feel safe in my neighborhood, even if I'm kidding myself. On my way out of the library, a man was walking quickly and purposefully toward my bike. When he saw me, he flinched, and then he said, "Hey man, do you have fifty cents?" I said I didn't, and he said, "Oh man, I was just getting ready to sit here and wait for whoever owned that bike to come out so I could ask him if he had any change..." and he told me a story about somebody giving him a burrito that was too spicy so he needed a Dr. Pepper.

I think this is the same guy who wanders the neighborhood scanning people's yards for whatever's not nailed down. J caught him "borrowing" some tools from our next door neighbor a few weeks ago. If it's not the same guy, they could be twins. They're both wiry and tattooed and good at making up implausible stories quickly.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Lizard in the Closet.

On the inside of my closet door, there is a row of hooks where I hang shirts and pants that I've worn that are clean enough to wear again. When I opened the door a few minutes ago, a shirt fell off its hook onto the floor and behind it was a baby gecko about two inches long. It froze in the light for a few seconds, and then it scurried behind the other clothes hanging there. Now I can't find it. Maybe it dropped to the floor and ran away. I hope I don't put my hand in the pocket of my jeans next week and find it there dead. I found a dead baby snake behind the garbage can in the kitchen last week.

Speaking of not knowing how things will play out, my new friendship with the Gardener is something like a science experiment. If you like science. I am mightily attracted to him, and I get the idea he's into me too. I think neither of us is accustomed to concealing such information -- and I get the idea we have similar opinions about "how men are." But possibly we also have similar feelings about the ethics of sex, and our better judgment tells us to practice some self-control. Not that a friendship can't begin with sex, but does it need to? (Most of the people I've had sex with I've never seen again.) So we say to each other, "What would it be like if we kept our paws off each other?" This experiment fits nicely with my Buddhist meditation practice, which is all about just sitting with the urge to do something, not scratching the itch, practicing not reacting.

The experiment doesn't sit at all with my philosophy that pleasure is good and that one should enjoy it where one finds it.

It's tricky -- at least mentally, for me -- because recently, well, in the last decade or so, I've tried to let myself be more physically affectionate with my friends. I was not raised by touchy-feely people. When I became an adult, sex was the only setting where touching was easy, and, inversely, touching of any kind felt sexual.

As usual, life is complex.

So, what do I make of my desire to touch the Gardener? I want to allow myself to give in to my feelings of affection, to touch him because we're friends and it's good to touch your friends, but I know that the urge has an erotic component, which I am trying to control. (Who ever said that the human capacity for self-reflection was an evolutionary advancement? I don't buy it. I say it's been nothing but trouble since day one. If we were dogs, we could just fuck, and everybody would be happy.)

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The Times, They Are, etc.

I'm suffering with a bit of whiplash this week. After a few years of having my life to myself, I've been wrenched back into the real world. Willingly.

On Friday I fly to New York where I'll spend two days with my friend and collaborator Tim preparing for a week-long retreat in the Berkshires where we will re-write and expand our Lizzie Borden musical. It's been 13 years since we visited this piece, and just as long since Tim and I have worked together, so there's some inertia to overcome. And I suppose it's been that long, too, since I have done work that hasn't been self-generated.

I've been reading books about Lizzie for the last couple weeks and making notes. There are a lot of books. This is the stuff I live for. Every time I do theater work, I remember that it is what I always wanted to do, from as far back as I can remember.

When I get back from the retreat, I'll have about a week before school starts.

I canceled my subscription to the Austin American-Statesman today, reluctantly. I will miss the minutia of local politics. Not only do I enjoy that stuff, I believe that it's my duty as a responsible citizen to know it. I mean that. But I will have to find other ways to stay informed. The daily paper takes me at least an hour to read, and I can't see that I will have an hour every morning to read the paper once I start school. Especially since I plan to take an 8 a.m. Spanish class 4 days a week.

And I applied for a part-time cooking job at a neighborhood cafe. I hope they'll hire me to cook on Saturday and Sunday, so I can pay my credit card bills. My financial aid should cover everything but.