Skipping Along Moon River’s Banks


I love women. As a gay man, I might foolishly offer generalizations seemingly due the “fairer” sex. Wiser, more compassionate, fairer, kinder, more loyal, less uptight, more nurturing … Hell, they present a more appropriate creativity with the palette that is “style”.

Of course, all of that is seeded from childhood when we first realize that the mother/son or father/daughter paradigms are correct: both primal and essential to survival.

Most menfolk are attracted to a certain type of woman. In my case, Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly is sublime and non pareil. The resulting ideal is bold, yet innocent.

Without my trademark “gilding the lily”, probably another 748 adjectives apply, as most of us have pondered this several times.

The Universe has indulged me often. As an adult, I’ve worked with Liana H, Anna K, Julie H, and Carol H just to point out a few.

Liana and I worked together in Washington, DC. One day she came in wearing a smart Chanelish suit, wig, and pillbox hat. It was the only subject of conversation for days. I think most of us would like to have such confidence in paying homage.

Sixteen- year old Julie was an employee in Chicago. She treated all of life as a genre of art. And she was its impresario-in-waiting. I was 28 and considered taking her to my 10th high school reunion. I cautiously passed on the event, not wanting to even lightly spark mention of the inappropriateness of the age difference. She was, however, quite game.

The other two are from my days in Greensboro. Anna was stunning and, oddly, exotic for a doe-eyed, pierced, and Southern “ginger-ette”. During a horrific time of my life, she was the only person I felt could handle the rawness of exposing her innocence to the sadness, grief, panic, and total uncertainty that defined my world in 2001.

My partner was rapidly deteriorating from Progressive Multi-Focal Leukoencephalopathy or PML. Please google it. It is far too difficult to verbalize and explain the disease and its rapid spiral into anguish.

Anna brought smiles and compassion to a still household paralyzed with the anticipation of death.

Lastly, Carol is the epitome of a Bohemian, intrepid, and kind grandmotherly photographer. I shall be brief.

In the late 90’s, she took a rather extensive body of artful nude pictures of me. Actually, I was “nekkid”. In one shot my jeans were bunched at my ankles while I wore a mushroom-brown fedora. It was titillating, well for me. There wasn’t the slightest reveal of genitalia. We did, though, exhaust ways of draping a duvet without adventuring into a lurid and unseemly nadir.

But I obsess.

What started as a goofy albeit private moment of “Georgy Girl” flashbacks took a shower, dressed in something sensible and Head-like, and turned on Liam, my iPod. Of course, such MP3 players all aim to mature into moderately flashy and trendy timepiece.

The playlist was a “no brainer”: gems from the Zombies, Lou Reed & the Velvet Underground, the Poppy Family, Timi Yuro, and the Ronettes. Add four or five classic Led Zeppelin and the Who tunes and select shuffle. Then pay homage to inspired M.R. covers by Katie Melua, the Honey Trees, Elton John, and the Birds & the Bees.

Such a late afternoon soundtrack would lead to Mancini mayhem of the Mid-Century ilk.

Holly would’ve loved it. With Cat soundly lap napping.

(Image: “Curved Light of the Night” by Kobayakawa Kiyoshi, 1932.)

Re-Discovery Day: Statement and Rewards

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“Their courage nerves a thousand living men (and women).”  Minot J. Savage

Enjoy the day, friends.

Of course, Henry is spearheading the celebration here. Nothing too heavy or intense.

Gratitude. Nostalgia. Inspiration.

Mind you: there shall be no Criminal Minds marathon queued. They are often mindless, but always “up in thirty”.

(Image: “Scalia Reggia Di Caserta” by Ignacio Goitia, 2015.)

Dawn’s Last Light

Long ago and once in Greensboro, I had a friend who had been trying desperately to quit smoking cigarettes. Dawn had tried everything! She tried yoga, hypnosis, various medications, and “low involvement” support groups.

What she wasn’t able to do, and this had always been her downfall, was muster even an iota of willpower or determination.

And then one evening, after a rather robust and fulfilling carnal romp with her husband, she lit a mighty Salem. She puffed away in a rather seductive manner as befitting the mood, focusing on lip expressions and smoke formations. Although neither I nor my spirit was present, Dawn confessed all of the sordid and smoky details to me the following day!

What she didn’t notice was that a cinder had strayed, landed on her sheet, and sparked a small fire. Before Dawn was aware of this errant ignition, the smolder had penetrated the sheet, the mattress cover, and finally the mattress itself.

Unfortunately, Miss Dawn and her dutiful hubby slept on a waterbed.

The burn ate through the synthetic casing just enough to weaken its fiber and, naturally, force a leak. A mighty geyser sprung forth … at that very moment. Dawn, in her rather dim yet charming manner, was rather relieved that the water extinguished any potential of further fire.

Of course, that was until she realized that the ashes had probably washed into the hallway. The weight of two bodies was further forcing water out with such pressure that, within moments, almost half of the mattress’ filler had been “evacuated”. Dawn and her husband were on a king-sized island … about twenty feet from dry land and the comforts of Summerfield.

That, my friends, was the day that Dawn knew she finally had to kick the nasty habit and quit smoking once and for all. She “didn’t make no never mind” that she hadn’t yet determined the mystique of Eve cigarettes. Perhaps Emily Latella was correct and they did have tiny little breasts just below the filter.

Let us not forget: Dawn’s sense of reason was not necessarily well-developed. After much forethought, she devised what seemed like the ideal solution … for her. She would simply smoke a joint whenever she craved a cigarette.

Of course, she wouldn’t sublimate ALL of her nicotine urges in this manner, just the excruciating ones that made her restless and perhaps a little bitchy.

Within a few days, she was smoking nine or ten such hand-rolled delights a day, including one in the morning as she enjoyed coffee and Jane Pauley’s banter. And yet another on the way to work, I am certain!

No one was actually the wiser, except for a few confidants who were privy to her new regimen. Dawn, remember, was already a kooky, rather pixilated woman with a very slow, very Southern drawl. What did change were some of her habits:

She once took rubber bands to her pant cuffs and made harem pants. Sadly, she wore these to her office and was thus admonished.

She lost her car in a shopping center parking lot, took a cab home, and ultimately infuriated her husband. Again, she was thus admonished.

And she started going to lunch at 9:30 each day. She likewise was taking her afternoon break by noon. She not only had gained fifteen pounds within a month, but she had created an endless cycle in which afternoons at work were simply Hell. And it was those times at which she really craved a cigarette.

Poor Dawn! Within a few months, she realized the full folly of her strategy to quit smoking. She resumed that awful habit, normal lunch hours, and her previous lifestyle. She was quickly smoking over a pack a day again, having the last one right before going to sleep at night.

But when Dawn and her husband turned off the lights, they would cuddle in their new sleigh bed. Dawn found it finely fitted with a more traditional mattress system, a Serta pillow-top!

Dawn confided in me once that they actually slept more soundly, but that their carnal romps were much less robust than those atop the waterbed.

But she never feared such a flooding again!

And yes, Dawn did finally quit smoking … about a year later when she found that she was pregnant. She never again resumed the habit, at least according to local gossip and reports of the local fire volunteers. That child is now in graduate school. And dear Dawn is president of a thriving software company.

She is also now fully aware that rubberbands are not appropriate accessories, and that harem pants are best worn behind closed and well-secured doors.

(Image: “Santa Maria” by Ray Caesar, 2007.)

An Infant Hums “Stonecutters Cut it on Stone”


Wednesday has always been my least favorite weekday, rooted in a summer swelter that rushed my parents from enjoying “Carousel” at Chapel Hill’s Varsity Theater, back in ’56. My mother spent the next full day in flailing labor. Then at a moment past midnight, I finally emerged, dazed and confused, and overwhelmed with questions. “Who are these skinny people?” “Why am I still naked?” And “What ever happened to that suddenly charming, misunderstood, and freakishly kindred baby that first appeared on screen as Hal and Margy were scurrying down the aisle?”

I was born at 12:01 on a Wednesday, a day that no two people were ever able to recount with the same details and zeal. My mother, an excruciatingly reserved, demure, and proper woman of twenty-five, endured 27 hours of labor without so much as an unkind word or expletive.

My father, a confident and boldly dramatic man, likely slipped into endless German ravings and commentary, as I’d later find that he did whenever he got just a little too excited. By Saturday, we were quietly at home as I enjoyed my new crib and new-found privacy. I imagine that very day would’ve been a far more appropriate day to enter the world.

Yet I was born on an uneventful midweek day, Wednesday. Over the next fifty-eight years, I would endure almost 3,000 of them. All of the momentous chestnuts of my life have been on other days: weddings, funerals, graduations, parties, great first dates, lousy first dates, and Casey Kasem’s “American Top Forty” radio show. Wednesday was always a day on which I was cramming my energies into finishing a school project, staying late at work to meet a deadline, or compulsively planning the most elaborate of details for a dinner party.

I can’t really recall any particular Wednesday, although with prodding and time, I might. There was one particular one, back in 1993, on which I went to sleep on a Tuesday and awakened on a Thursday. That medically-supervised and morphine enhanced stay in the hospital was, I am certain, blissful for both my sub-conscious and alter ego. They never, however, addressed such an admission.

So here I sit, on yet another Wednesday at my ever comfortable and increasingly dusty desk. The day has naturally been uneventful, although my “To Do” list is teeming with unfinished household missions. Surely, there will be nothing on television this evening to pique my interest. Every time there is indeed a compelling program that airs on Wednesday, it is promptly cancelled by the network; case in point: “Pushing Daisies”.

Mind you, I am being neither negative nor a fatalist, just an observant pragmatist. Wednesdays are, in my humble estimation, the best of “bridge” days. They link Tuesday to Thursday, both of which are days that are infinitely more interesting with historically more attractive TV viewing options.

I am, however, now fifty-eight. Time seems to pass, unravel, or tick away rather quickly, so Wednesdays are no longer consumed with dread. “Carousel”, however, is! For quite a while it was my parent’s favorite film as it was linked to the birth of their first-born.

At age ten, when I finally first viewed it, I suggested that my parents had indeed exited the theater too quickly that night to escape the film’s idiocy, dripping sweetness, and insipid ploys. They rolled their eyes, as they often did that year, and Hal sang “My Boy Mark” in German, gently adapting Mr. Hammerstein’s original lyrics. I’ll always remember that night as my parents and I all laughed but for different reasons. Of course, it was a Friday night.

Turnabout is fair play, but Wednesdays still “suck apples through a chain link fence!”

Do I rank the days of the week? You bet I do!

In any case, Gentle Reader, I am listening to the Real Tuesday Weld on an otherwise uneventful day. I will close my eyes tonight at bedtime with modest hopes of greeting the day known as Friday when I next awaken.

(Image: “Royal Bath” by Martin Wittfooth, 2012.)

Searching for Guacamole on the Moon’s Vast Dark Side

I spend entirely too much time culling images, looking for one that might best illustrate a blog post. There was a time that those energies were directed toward Facebook. My focus has been narrowed by my very own internal control center: “My Achy, Breaky Heart.”

The key is to study directions and, as cousin Damian reminded me, comply and remain positive. My memory, cognition, and communication skills are in horrific disrepair. Both my health care provider, UNC’s Cardiology Department, and my beloved, who has my Medical Power of Attorney, simply manage my medications and various therapies.

Yessir. Yessir.
They take reign of my swoons and throbs, and keep a vigilant ear for the beat of a new heart. My new heart.

Meanwhile, I still post on Tartuffe’s Folly, but at the pace of an “out of breath” and compliant snail. And I search for the perfect image to stimulate visuals and “accessorize” the written word.

It would follow then that, at April’s baton hand-off, I’d browse through my May Day file of vintage B&W photographs and scans of relative paintings. By the time I had my hands on this pink Puck Maypolitical cover caricature, it was May 4. The post was mired in that swollen spiral of missed opportunities and deadlines.

The image still dressed my iPad with well-cropped wallpaper. After a few days’ studies. I realized that the publish date was May 5, 1908. My beloved would likely have to assist me in creating a relevant segue from sassy maypole satire to Cinquo de Mayo toasts and cheer.

I looked at my iPhone to confirm the date and it was May 9. Such projects were and are increasingly sucking from me any energy and optimism that I still hold to my chest, and its faint patter. Yikes! Egads! Zut alors! Damn.

Accepting defeat by details is excruciating for a 58-year old over-analytical, perfect risk “heart transplant” candidate.

As I scanned Pinterest to correct mis-taps, I found the answer:

My “Nod to Pink Freud” album was the ideal solution, albeit one that simply generalizes visuals of colors and hues.

My mission was finally complete. I was exhausted with a long-lasting pant. I was ready for my afternoon ritual of a Criminal Minds marathon.

Okay. Okay. I’m complying.

Wheels up in twenty.

We Never Really Know the Same Motherly Spirit


Only a few minutes remain in this Mothers’ Day. Sunday night at Marklewood will then be steered via automatic pilot for “wee hour” television viewing. “Eastenders” on PBS is usually the one casualty and therefore saved for later in the week.

True, it’s a mindless soap that fell into excruciatingly repetitive story lines long before ABC’s Susan Lucci was halfway through her string of Daytime Emmy nods.

Back on track: There have been only a handful of mothers whose life, love, and profound nurturing I celebrate: my grandmothers, Dorothy and Paula, my mother Margaret, and my sister Paula. My grandmothers, however, weren’t necessarily of the equal opportunity variety.

The older Paula doted on my father, denying any real acknowledgment of my sister’s and my accomplishments. Dorothy, on the other hand, treated me as if I were the only male in her family, which was essentially true.

Conversely, she viewed my sister as too much of a rebel and was mortified that my sister converted. I never saw my grandmother go to church nor heard her even utter the name of one. She did remain well-versed in the traditions of parental martyrs.

Dorothy encouraged me to follow my instincts and heart. She consistently nagged my mother and my sister, often in a hateful, “Queen Bee-esque” manner. Yet, she allowed me the privilege of manhood or, for that matter, adulthood.

My sister Paula, whom I still call Polly, broke traditions from both family sides. She raised her three daughters with little help, unyielding in her sacrifice or devotion. She was perhaps the only supermom I ever knew.

But Mothers’ Day belongs to Margaret. Her graveside memorial was held on Mothers’ Day 1991. And to me, she was always perfect: kind, attentive, encouraging, and proud of her children. She’d celebrate the day with a couple of Manhattans. I’m certain that Angels are permitted to drink alcohol, though probably not a whiskey cocktail.

Alas! The “Eastenders” theme is queuing and Peggy is back with her misguided maternal small-mindedness. She was the blonde who romped with Benny Hill and then eased into small screen bitchiness. Nonetheless, Henry has wished her a Happy Mothers’ Day. If he so much as hears that voice, he is quick to jump onto the bed and actually watch the program (or at least go through the motions!)

That puss is such a devoted fan.

(Image: “Mothers” by Seymour Chwaste, Pushpin Graphics #64, 1976.)

Making the Most of It is the Least I Can Do



My virtual countdown to that far-too-real day reminds me that I have four weeks to prepare. On that day, I will be admitted to the hospital to await my yet determined heart. It could be two months. It could be a year. Plus there is likely two months of in-patient recuperation after the transplant. A year? Mon Dieu!

I have tried for several weeks to accept this phase with optimism. I’d like to say that I shall make the most of the solitude, mediocrity, and the unyielding routines that prevent any REM sleep for over four hours. My hands are thrown high into the air above me.

Jon will just have to teach Henry to Skype. Speakerphones perplex him so I foresee a challenge. The thought of not spending such a timespan with my pets is terrifying on the side of dread.

I might be able to coax someone to smuggle a BLT from Merritt Grill. Beyond that, the “heart healthy” low sodium menu has me swooning with anticipation. Coffee. Tea. Blueberry bread. Decent salad dressings. My diet will endure the sticker shock while I remind myself that, one day, I will hopefully have a new heart.

I continue to not have much energy to complete even simple tasks. This very blog and Facebook are becoming too difficult. That’s where Pinterest and Twitter will come in handy.

Perhaps what scares me the most is that, regardless of timelines, Jon will spend a long, long time at home alone. He’ll likely play the “stoic trooper” card, but I know how that hand ends.

My mind is spent so I must close. I just wanted to stop by and say “aloha” and “shalom”.

The accompanying image is a portrait of Claude Monet while he endured a summer confined to a bed in a field hospital. I look at often now that I use it as a wallpaper image for my tablet. It makes me laugh.

I am just a tad envious about the bed size though.


(Image: “L’Ambulance Improvisée” by Jean Frédéric Bazille, 1865.)