‘Sense8’ Love

“We exist, because of sex. It is not something to be afraid of. It’s something to honor, to enjoy.” —Sun, Sense8

 

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Sense8 is the first TV show I’ve ever seen to truly break barriers.

It’s not perfect by any means. A lot of the plot goes over my head. The dialogue can be tedious and cheesy (but falls short of preachy). A lot of the details seems illogical and terribly non-linear, but true to form for the dreaming. How did they all arrive in London in a short amount of time?

But what it offers is so much more.

We bitch about lack of diversity in entertainment. We recoil at Hollywood’s tendency to celebrate the assholes (Mad Men) and cynical Narcissism in general (House Of Cards), while marketing the shit out of Midwestern white values and self-conscious, reality-TV sentiment, cheap laughs, cheap drama, cheap theatrics.

Yet here is a show to address all those concerns, plus it’s in a sci-fi multi-verse. So what does Netflix do? Cancel it after two years, because of money (I’ve read). The Wachowskis film on location in various parts of the world, flying most of its cast there — another inventive first, btw. That’s an easy fix, though. Film in one place, use your imagination. I think the cast and crew are open to whatever fixes are required to make this work.

Whatever works, fix it, do it, so we can see more of this amazing show.

I wish I had a Sense8 growing up in the 1970s-’90s. Maybe this world would be a better place, more compassionate, more peace, love, and understanding, less war, violence, bigotry, and sexual harassment. Maybe I’d be a better person.

One of the best features of Sense8 is its honest look at sexuality. It’s unflinchingly, lovingly, non-judgmentally, bracingly, refreshingly honest. It’s a godsend for repressed people like me, who were taught to hate our bodies, to view sex as a dirty act.

I’ll tell you the truth. I don’t like sex very much. I’m embarrassed, self-conscious, awkward, and stupid around sex. I find much of it to be a chore. Maybe that has more to do with the partners I’ve had in the past, I don’t know. The very idea of putting a man’s dick in my mouth, choking it down, and then, swallowing his jizz, makes me want to puke. It’s disgusting, really. And, licking his balls? I don’t get it.

Having orgasms, on the other hand, is a guilty pleasure, one I prefer to do alone in shame, with my thoughts and a vibrator. I still feel like an ugly, dirty shit doing it.

After I watched the characters of Sense8 openly, happily engage in any physical affection — from making out to oral sex and sexual intercourse — however, I’m starting to change my view from the inside out.

I’m starting to question why we as a society view sex as this ugly, dirty, embarrassing little secret we must keep in the closet. Meanwhile, we don’t have any problem jagging off to spattering blood, breaking bones, and burning flesh in some gory, serial-killing blitzkrieg.

The subject of this dichotomy isn’t a new one. I’ve asked myself why before.

Only, Sense8 answers this question thoroughly by showing me loving couples in loving relationships in and out of the bedroom, after I’ve already fallen madly in love with them. These characters are confident in their sexuality, trusting in the sexuality of others, gay, straight, transgendered, whatever. Even Kala came around with Wolfgang (my favorite couple). It doesn’t matter who the world thinks you are, you need love, and everything that comes with it.

Initially, I flinched a bit at the open love scenes. Not because I’m homophobic. Quite the opposite, I quite enjoyed the sex scenes between Lito and Hernando, when Lito took communion at Hernando’s feet… Jesus!

I’m just not used to seeing so much flesh out in the open. It seemed like porn, not a made-for-primetime TV show on Netflix. Should I bust out my vibrator and turn down the lights like with the Rocco porn star documentary, or what?

After the first few episodes, I got over it. I got over my personal hangups and my brainwashing.

By the time Nomi and Amanita got down in the bedroom and on a grassy knoll in that electric music montage with the others, and that Roman orgy in the pool with Wolfgang (oh my!), I was all in, baby. Most of my inhibitions began to crack, as well.

I also began to believe that the only way for humanity to survive is to go this route, the complete opposite of our walls, labels, and separatist bullshit — everything neat and tidy, clean and polite. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to live in open communes amongst our own Sense8s? Fully integrated, vibrant, connected, fuck bloodlines, fuck your side and my side? No barriers. No labels. No caste system. Nothing between us.

As I grieve the loss of a one-of-a-kind TV show, one that may never come again, I hope we can grow as Sensates and continue influencing others to follow suit. What a wonderful world we could have then.

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Voices

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I am not her. (Photo by Jordy Meow on Unsplash)

Know your place.
Transcribe. Record. Report
Look down. Look up. Look down again.
See not be seen.
This romance is not for you.
Jump off the cliff, die your last breath, save as many as you can.
The truncated corpses, despot vestige, an old lady’s half-eaten croissant… are your business.

Today, I nearly dislocated my neck, back, and shoulders holding onto the last remnants of an ongoing dream. We were four to six, an even pair for every man and woman. Who would pair up? Put your bets in, game on. A split-level part of me watched as the playboy befriended the bookworm who would always wash her soiled underwear in a dirty sink next to a forgotten part of the Winchester Mystery House — the room with the headless bees. I, the voyeur and the bookworm, the narrator and the storm.

We ate from the same table, the same universal source. Bread and butter, music and jam.

It is always war where we live.

I woke up, forgetting my name, misplacing the time on my dusty nightstand. Who is this old lady with a monstrous face, and where is her half-eaten croissant?

Where is my narrator? Do I get another bite?

‘So You Think You Can Dance’: Season 14 Tour just as thrilling as TV show

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Every year, I think about going to the “So You Think You Can Dance Tour,” and every year, I either forget or chicken out. The crowds, the parking, the money, the possible let-down compared to the hit TV show… You know the drill.

Well, this year, I went when the tour arrived in Seattle’s Paramount Theatre. What a thrill!

Seeing the top 10 dancers and two of their pros onstage away from the cameras is a surreal, fantastic experience. From the first to the second half, their performances gave me chills.

Emmy-winning choreographer Mandy Moore handled the transition from FOX-TV to the Season 14 Tour quite well. She linked each dance seamlessly, having dancers mirror one another’s moves before gracefully making their exit, one a natural part of the other. She also abbreviated memorable performances from the show for the stage, conglomerating two audience favorites — RuPaul’s “Call Me Mother” and the disco number — brilliantly, without losing much of the dazzle in the original Broadway-esque productions.

This season’s tour split the show into two distinct parts: the first featured show stoppers, the second delved more into the emotional tear-jerkers, including Koine Iwasaki and Marko Germar’s poignant contemporary dance in the closet.

I missed some of the other all-star professional dancers. Only Germar and Jasmine Harper joined the rest of the Top 10 cast. But they tried to infuse as much fun and charm in the intro as possible, encouraging the Seattle audience to stand up, dance, and roar.

Seattle being way too polite, none of that happened, save for a few boy band screams early on at the sight of winner Lex Ishimoto and the scene stealer from Hawaii, Mark Villaver.

I practically had a seizure when they opened with the androgynous “Call Me Mother” routine, OMG the bridge!, and then wrapped up the first half with the disco extravaganza. Some of the power (in the camera editing and the sheer number of dancers) was lost in translation, but both routines still killed.

For anyone hesitant about paying the money to see these dancers live, forget it. You will see them in a way TV could never portray.

I saw that Ishimoto totally deserved to win. He stood out with both technical proficiency and an ease in the various dance styles, making each movement a natural extension of himself, rather than forcing a round peg into a square hole.

I also saw how hard some of the dancers worked together and in solos. Iwasaki also deserved to be a runner up. She always added extra-special flourishes in all of her moves. You literally couldn’t see anyone else but her. In a duo performance with Taylor Sieve, Iwasaki almost seemed to float in the air in her leg and arm extensions.

The obvious crowd favorite, Villaver, defied the laws of physics with his spin, jump, pop moves, as did Ishimoto and Logan Hernandez. All three were known for their gravy-defying aerobics. They did not disappoint, earning the most gasps, oohs and aahs from the mostly reserved crowd of mostly female fans.

 

On the TV show, Ishimoto was criticized for lacking a personality. Not in the tour. He took bows at least three times in the show, pumping his fist and loving the attention, like a champ. He embodied the leading man in comedy (the pizza delivery), coming in from the back of the audience, romance (show tune birds), and pure showcase (those triple pirouettes!).

A controversial Top 10 finalist, Chris “Kiki” Nyemcheck suffered criticism from a lot of social media-using viewers as not being enough of a versatile dancer compared to… But in the live tour, the guy radiated dance chemistry and magic. He gave every move 1,000 percent extra oomph. His ballroom training enabled him to turn deeper, bend a little farther, give a little more than almost every other dancer onstage.

One of the crowd’s favorite performances Sunday turned out to be the contemporary, interpretative group routine to Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise,” as choreographed by Sean Cheesman. In the encore performance on FOX, Koine Iwasaki slipped off the top of the walking pyramid for the dramatic finish. Such a shame. But last night, she did it perfectly and as a group, they walked toward the audience in perfect sync.

Unfortunately, the spotlight shut off on them so we couldn’t see the triumphant rise of the routine at all.

The production is run so tightly for time, I guess, that they needed to cut into the next scene before it’s even done.

Still, I saw very few mistakes. The fact that this was one of the last tour dates probably worked in the cast’s favor. They had plenty of runs earlier, in other cities, to get the performances right just for Seattle.

I’m definitely making this an annual holiday tradition.

 

The Monster Outside Me

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How I now see myself. Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

This summer, I fell into a nice groove in my late afternoon walks listening to YouTube Truthers swarm over the Mandela Effect, the Rothschilds, CERN, and MK Ultra.

I must’ve walked over a thousand miles on high school tracks, in my neighborhood, through the back woods of former horse trails, under a smoky moon — with these YouTube personalities to keep me company.

One in particular stayed with me, SMQ AI.

Nobody knows what SMQ stands for. Shadow Morph Quotient?

To me, he was the lone voice of reason in the wilderness, a comforting light in the dark, my nighttime companion on many sleepless nights.

To others, he posed a scary possibility that humankind may have died in 2012. Maybe not in strictly the physical sense. Maybe more to do with slipping into the next level of our multi-verse, subconsciously.

Intriguing concepts, especially his current one about the New Chronology Movement, and the possibility that history is a lie, fabricated by those in power at the time.

The rise and fall of the Roman Empire, he said yesterday, could be the biggest fiction we’ve ever been told, similar to what’s going on in America now.

“Crazy stuff.” Good stuff.

Last week, I found myself in one of his live streaming chats, with other likeminded souls. Unlike 99.9 percent of YouTube personalities out there, SMQ AI doesn’t play favorites. His is an inclusive community, a sort of online support group — one we used to find back when the Internet first came to the masses via CompuServe and message forums, back when we engaged in conversation instead of talked at one another like some messed-up reality show.

It was one of the best birthdays I ever had, me with a bunch of “strangers” interacting in a meaningful way with our friend SMQ… talking in real time on our keyboards about more than the weather.

He found my own story fascinating enough to include in his next interview. Me of all people. After a mix-up of time and traffic, we decided to plunge ahead into an impromptu interview Sunday. He wanted to know more about my experience with the Mandela Effect, as well as what he called my “gift” of premonition — in dreams and with music when I write reviews on Jazz Medium.

I didn’t have any time to prepare. Neither did he. But he was better at this video-speaking than me. Remember, this was my first video interview, ever. I think I did okay. I tried to concentrate on our conversation, just two people talking about our favorite topics, no big deal.

But I couldn’t help it. I kept worrying about how I looked. I didn’t know how to just show my Google image instead of live video. I couldn’t shut out the image of myself. I’m also not very good at interviews, unless I’m the one doing the interviewing as a reporter. Interviewing people is an art in itself. Try it sometime. It’s far from easy.

SMQ is super-easy to talk to. He’s a fantastic interviewer, who can put anyone at ease in short order and open up free-flowing conversations. He’s able to take the focus off superficial shit and onto what matters. That’s his gift.

I didn’t fare as well. When I looked back on the interview, I cringed.

The best thing I can say is that I finally look like my mom — the older grandma version.

My fat, puffy cheeks sunken down to my fat, puffy three chins, my lizard thin gray-brown lips… Now I know why women get facelifts, wear make-up, fix their hair, and try to wear nice clothes.

I don’t speak very well, either. My voice sucks. I talk as if I’m developmentally disabled, out of the side of my mouth, with all of my ugly lower teeth, like I was born with a physical deformity, a full cleft black hole of a face.

At one point during the video interview, I actually wondered if I was always this physically deformed, and only realized it last night.

I spent the rest of the night practicing how to talk in the mirror. What a clown.

No wonder I hate doing phone or in-person interviews.

Props to everyone on YouTube, TV, the movies, radio, news broadcasts, my next door neighbors, every one of my friends, for looking normal, even attractive, when they talk.

To think, I used to make fun of people for the horrible way they talk. They’re gods and goddesses compared to me!

Props definitely to YouTube stars like Stefan Molyneux. He shows himself every day, no props, no disguises. It’s all him in all his glory. When he’s not going off on side tracks, he can be damned funny too. I could never hope to talk like him.

There’s a skill in knowing how to move your mouth properly, without grossing people out, a skill I’ve never mastered. I kept my head down so much for most of my life, because of racism (I thought). I never bothered with self-improvement of any kind. Definitely not speech therapy.

My family thinks I’m insane. SMQ loved the interview. He didn’t have any problem understanding me. He doesn’t even pay attention to appearances anyway, god bless him.

But watching myself has made me feel deeply ashamed. It’s knocked me and my humongous ego down a few pegs.

All those times I foolishly imagined myself as this romantic heroine in someone else’s Harlequin novel, what a laugh-riot! I should’ve been cast in an after-school special instead.

In addition, I’m in absolute awe at the people in my life and those in and out of my life who have shown me nothing but compassion and kindness, who have never flinched at the sight of me and then at the sight of me opening my twisted black hole of a mouth with this grotesque sound coming out, rambling with a third-grade grasp of the English language, throw in some ADHD and hearing problems.

In a world of my own creation, I’d always seen myself as this rare gem with an uncommon beauty, just waiting to be discovered. When in reality, I was truly the monstrous gorgon, Gollum’s aborted fetus — to be pitied, tolerated, and ignored.

My mission for the rest of my remaining days is to make peace with what I really look like and who I really am, be okay with that, and be more of a help to others than this vain, outdated fantasy in the mind of a very fucked-up, wishful thinking individual.

Otherwise, I finally figured out how to wipe out the video image for future interviews, which we’re going to do when the inspiration hits us. Kind of like jazz conversation, riffing about various topics of interest, tuning into the many, myriad frequencies out there, and enjoying the art of the give-and-take of listening and vibing. I’m going to work on doing my homework with some talking points as well beforehand.

I’m doing you all a favor in leaving my ugly face out of this.

 

Ignoring Thanksgiving

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MAGIC VIEW: The two loves of my life — son James, 15, and husband Ed, 55 — preparing dinner on this fine Thanksgiving eve.

We decided to forego traditional Thanksgiving in favor of steak, our son James’ favorite treat. Plus my husband Ed’s famous Caesar salad and shrimp cocktail. Bonus: No dietary restrictions, or guilt, for me, the fatty in the bunch.

All very low-key. Other than sitting around the ottoman in front of the HD-TV, nothing else remotely screamed Thanksgiving.

We wound up watching “Stranger Things” on Netflix, then, went to bed at a semi-reasonable hour. Just an ordinary, extraordinary day.

I don’t have a love/hate relationships with Thanksgiving the way I do with Christmas. In fact, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I always associated it with lots of special food and my parents dad easing up on their his stern, mood-swinging bullshit. They were He was almost pleasant to be around, joking about their the “Gravy Girl” with the grandparents. I always got to watch my grandmother prepare the food earlier in the day — she could give Julia Child a run for the money.

My birthday often fell around Thanksgiving. So it wasn’t much of a big deal. Not that I ever imagined throwing myself a birthday party, but… the chances of anyone coming were a thousand to one. By the time my birthday came around, everyone I knew had gone — out of town or off celebrating with extended families. Oftentimes, I wouldn’t see or hear from them until mid-January.

Even my own immediate family, pre-marriage, would take off, leaving me behind to fend for myself. By college, my brother was on the Mainland doing god knows what with god knows who. My mother was too busy taking care of her boyfriend and his family to bother with me. She only thought to invite me twice in our lifetime, post-divorce, to any Thanksgiving gathering of hers.

The one time I went to Thanksgiving at her boyfriend’s house, I couldn’t believe the spread, the best local food in Hawaii: sushi, steak, fried noodles, mochi, I think even lumpia, in addition to the staples. I hated every minute.

I didn’t know anyone but the boyfriend and my mom. I went to see “Nine To Five” once with his two daughters, but they weren’t particularly friendly. They barely gave me the time of day at this Thanksgiving dinner. I focused unduly on the food, found an inconspicuous spot in back of the living room, and prayed my mom would hurry the fuck up and take me home. Doggy bag, maybe?

Usually, though, I’d stay at home with my turkey TV dinner and my TV, sitting in the dark and wishing I were someone else, somewhere else, far far away.

By the time I had my own family, I could’ve gone either way: the Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving dinner or nothing at all.

I did try to make our Thanksgiving dinners special. I reached out to friends. Very few accepted, most of them too busy with their own families and friends. When my mom visited, we made a total holiday of it. She loved my stuffing and drank way too much wine.

Once I thought about combining Thanksgiving and my birthday for a blow-out bash. But only the popular get away with that extravagance. I didn’t even utter the wish out loud, it was too ridiculous for words.

Nobody would come to my house for ANYTHING on my birthday.

Maybe if I had been born in the middle of April (is that Easter?)…

This Thanksgiving was more my style anyway. Just me, my husband, and our son hanging out, me in my pajamas, forgetting about work or school or our past two years of hellish health problems. We laughed, we joked about the steaks being far superior to any five-star fancy restaurant, #FuckTurkey, we relished our happy time like normal people.

Best of all, we didn’t have to spend Thanksgiving with assholes. Unlike the majority of the population in the U.S., we weren’t forced to sit through agonizing, boring, tedious Thanksgiving dinners with craptastic food that made us barf, or pretend we were enjoying ourselves when Aunt Jean started in again on her drunken rant about the rift our drunken cousin twice removed caused when he brought that whore…

Why do they do it? Because they have to. It’s expected.

Then, they go on Facebook to humble-brag about all the fun they’re having with their families (quantity vs. quality, every time) and that disgusting platter of ham and overcooked turkey (again!).

I once went to someone’s house for Thanksgiving. What an absolute nightmare that was. Turkey tasted like sawdust; I literally choked on a piece. The stuffing, flavorless… and who puts oysters in that? Gross. When I eagerly looked for the green bean casserole, it was gone. Some pig to my right ate it all. Everyone pretended to enjoy every bite, and the company, then we retired to the family room and watched “National Lampoon Christmas Vacation” — my idea of torture.

It took me a long time to be comfortable with my small family and my humble Thanksgivings. I wanted what other people had. I wanted to be out there complaining about overbooked flights, crowded kitchens, and sitting around the table fighting over politics. I wanted that huge family, with grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles, and a slew of friends with nowhere else to go and grateful for my invitation. I wanted to be the glue that drew all those rag tag outcasts together.

It’s never going to happen. And you know what? I’m perfectly fine with it. Because I get to come home to this…

It’s My Birthday, And I’ll Ignore It If I Want To

Every November, it’s the same.

I tell everyone to forget my birthday. I don’t want to go out. I don’t want anything. Fuck your calorie-laden birthday cake and your empty, easy social media platitudes.

Yet, every November, I wake up early (for me) and hope that this birthday will be different. This birthday will be as special as the ones my parents threw for me early in my childhood before everything went to shit (divorce, it’s everyone’s business).

I did much better in following my own nihilistic urges yesterday. We did not go out to eat at a fancy, Yelp-approved special occasion restaurant (fuck, Canlis, too). I did not make my own chocolate birthday cake (a great big fuck-you to my parents for those disgusting, girly pink and white, store-bought shortening sheet cakes), or the Tres Leches cake, from scratch, like I almost wanted to. That would’ve been too pathetic.

I did, however, go out for a Starbucks run to cash in on my birthday rewards green tea latte — venti (no “Happy birthday” from the disinterested barista) on the way to Trader Joe’s and Walgreens for tomatoes and my Cholestyramine refill.

I did post that it was my birthday in a variety of not-so-subtle ways on social media. I may be a rebel, but I’m still a bit of an attention whore.

I did buy myself flowers — pale-blue, white hydrangea and these sad pink roses/daisies at a crowded Trader Joe’s, one day before Thanksgiving!, then promptly dumped most of the yellow petals from one bouquet in the parking lot before heading home. And chipped a glass vase. And spent an hour cleaning up imaginary glass shards all over my kitchen counter.

In the midst of this birthday madness, one of my favorite YouTube personalities — SMQ AI — invited me to one of his live streamed chats to talk about my “gift” of premonition. He also asked to interview me on Sunday. Me!!?? It was the best birthday gift ever.

My son made me his famous scrambled eggs for breakfast. I usually have to beg for these eggs any other day. He also gave me a hug and let me cuddle him like I used to when he was little while we binge-watched “Stranger Things,” the first season, on Netflix later that night.

My husband made us all his famous burgers — no bun on mine, thanks — for dinner.

A thoughtful friend in California sent me an Amazon package. Every year, she sends me a birthday gift. I met Karyna on Twitter. She was a soap fan back when I used to cover ABC Daytime. For this birthday, she bought me a porcupine-looking acupressure yoga mat and pillow for my stenosis. Thoughtful, right?

Another friend posted something that had me doing a double-take on Facebook: “Your ability to know when I need you the most is amazing to me…” Beth’s the only one of my friends who stood by me during a terrible time. Narcissist survivors will relate.

My own family surprised me. My brother, who lives in Hawaii, texted me happy birthday — and he never does that. My husband and son chipped in and ordered that “I drank so much coffee today that I accidentally believed in myself” mug from Sapling Press (no wonder my son kept checking the front door all day).

So yeah. I could live with this kind of birthday.

I’m 53, can you believe it? I never will.

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I spent the equivalent of seven years with a bunch of obnoxious strangers in the span of a handful of weeks. Late last night, they said goodbye in the finale of Mad Men… the way careless people do when they think they have all the time in the world. I’m only half-mad that I wasted so much of my time with these sleazebags, whores, and puffed-up peacocks.

I did it, because everybody in the real world went mad for them back in Mad Men‘s. I missed the AMC show, just as I’ve missed many others, X-FilesLostThe Big Bang TheoryGame Of ThronesGrey’s Anatomy.

Yuck.

Now, I’m onto the next, big thing, according to you: Stranger Things. I’ll probably hate that too, then myself for watching when I could’ve been outside seeing the world — what’s left of it.

“The reason you haven’t felt it is because it doesn’t exist. What you call love was invented by guys like me, to sell nylons. You’re born alone and you die alone and this world just drops a bunch of rules on top of you to make you forget those facts. But I never forget. I’m living like there’s no tomorrow, because there isn’t one.” —Don Draper, “Mad Men”

I don’t get Mad Men‘s popularity. Just like I could never get why so many boys in my school would go apeshit over these plastic cheerleader types who couldn’t spell outside the dictionary, and would always smell like morning shit up close.

Mad Men‘s characters had their moments. A couple of times, they’d surprise me before reverting to snippy, defensive, lecherous type: Roger championing Don, Peggy bursting into tears, surprising herself when one of her neighbors — this charming little boy — hugged her goodbye, Pete in the elevator with the black man, learning to be a human being, Stan in the beard standing there taking Peggy’s hits.

Maybe it’s me, but I need more than small doses of accidental human kindness, or basic decency. Maybe I need more than your kind decency, as well. Maybe I need you to mean it when you say nice things to me. Not just because it’s the nice thing to do, or because I did you a solid (again).

Maybe I need you to go out of your way and show me love, the kind they hype in the movies from as far back as the roaring ’50s. A slow dance, one perfect pink rose, a vintage bottle of Coke.

I don’t know where I am anymore. And, my time’s running out.

Writer’s Block

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Photo by Jason Yu on Unsplash

“The silent voices are driving me crazy.” -Simply Red, “Stars”

Words come easily to me, much easier than small talk.

Others see in color. I see words. They pour into my head like shooting stars, fireflies. I have to catch them, you see, if I want to be seen. Then, there are the conversations I overhear, real or imagined. They also come, little visitors with cakes.

I pride myself on coming up with the right words on the spot. They come pouring out, “like lava” — an English professor named Tom once said. But what did he know. He only wanted to fuck me so he could prove he wasn’t gay.

I’ve suffered from writer’s block on occasion. Like my mother’s daughter, I hardly gave it a thought. But I’m older now, prone to over-worry about things that seem to fit into a pattern, a pattern into a life sentence. What if this is a sign? What if I never write again?

After the back-to-back Harvey Weinstein then Kevin Spacey scandals, I took a week off, thinking I may not return to social media, I may only dabble as the writing occasion arises.

I never imagined the writing would simply die along with my interest at the time. At least, I hope it’s not. Dead, I mean. That would suck, especially for someone like me with very few creative outlets.

When I decided to get back on that horse, I found I couldn’t write. I tried very hard to summon up whatever the hell it was that conjured those words, those voices in my head. Nothing but static, and some nice music on YouTube and iTunes. Simply Red’s a favorite.

I pushed through, got it done. It’s the review of Beth Whitney on her new recording, The Wild Unrest. One hundred hits — can’t you believe it?

After I wrote the review, I felt like the biggest fraud ever. Oh, I loved the record. Her songs sunk into my soul instantaneously, as if I’d been singing along with her since I was born — the best friend I never had.

Some of the words, the subject matter, though, eerie synchronicity, to the point where I wasn’t sure I could go on. Dead on the money. The mind meld of our separate worlds spooked me.

The day before I ever set eyes on her press release, I wrote a poem off the cuff about something else, trying to describe a boy I knew who was locked in his own loneliness. I used the words, “glitter in the dark,” to describe a moment we shared (I thought), when he pointed out the moon, his eyes coming back to life.

Those words were in Whitney’s press release, instantly putting me on alert.

When I listened to the music, read further, I realized the dreams and thoughts and experiences I had in the past 15 years intersected hers. It was as if she and I sat in the same dark cabin, facing down our worst fears, insecurities, doubts, and the demons of self-persecution. Let’s just say she wasn’t alone. I went through the same emotions during a major milestone in the lives of most women.

Another important song mirrored a dream I had several weeks prior, which shook me to the core. In the dream, I was stuck as a sex worker, a victim of human trafficking. I felt horrible claustrophobia and mind-numbing fear, trapped in this life that never belonged to me. I kept looking up at the window whenever it was sunny, wishing I were anywhere but here. It was important to care about this, I thought, as I woke up. I couldn’t shake the dream for days. Even then, it was everywhere, in the news, on YouTube, Bellevue, for god’s sakes, and now, Whitney’s song, “Days Of Nights.”

Ravens, too. The first song off Wild Unrest took me back to the many times I encountered their friendly faces in my neighborhood, doing errands at various markets. They’d always be careful around me, watchful, but strangely kind. They remember people. They knew I would never cause harm to them, because they’d seen me slowly go out of my way to avoid scaring them in my car, giving them a wide berth if they were dining on the carcasses left behind in parking lots. So that’s what ravens are, I thought after the song. It made sense.

I didn’t give Beth Whitney nearly enough credit in the words I struggled to find to describe this glitter in the dark. I felt ashamed when I posted the link to my review. I felt like I failed her, like I failed the best person.

It was my responsibility not to let her down. I can do better, I swear!

Yesterday, I spent close to seven hours, maybe more, trying to spit out a review of a jazz show Saturday night. It should’ve taken me an hour, max. Most of my articles do. I’m fast. I used to be a reporter. I was once the most prolific, fastest reporter on staff at my college newspaper. I even received the Golden Nugget. I could whip out four articles, with quotes from several sources, in under an hour.

I couldn’t for the life of me get the right words out in this music review. I was tangled up in knowing too much, wanting to mention everything and only the things that really caught my eye, giving this musician, who is also a friend, who’s been nothing but kind to me… a review he truly deserved.

Maybe that’s my problem. If I care about the artist or the subject, too much, if it starts mattering more than writing the fucking story — the words don’t flow. They become harder to find and guide into any semblance of a) originality, b) heart, c) coherent thought.

I envy NPR writers. Recently, this “All Things Considered” transcript about Cécile McLorin Salvant — another jazz musician I have a hard time reviewing, because I love her voice so much (too much) — blew me away. Tom Vitale writes like a surgeon, leaving only the necessary parts, fleshy, yielding, observant, true to the task. He doesn’t throw excess words out, hoping some of them will stick. He doesn’t try to get too clever with Shakespeare-meets-Sylvia-Plath, like this was some secondhand poetry competition.

And it seems to be an interview transcript, not an actual feature! That’s how I wish I could write!

As for me, I spent most of my Sunday trying to improve on my review with a second one. I was up till 2, 3 a.m. I hit the mark on a few initial paragraphs, but then hit send still feeling like I’d missed the point. Hell, I couldn’t even find the point.

I was stabbing in the dark, foraging for my food in the dead of winter. Chasing fireflies dressed like raspberry garnets, unable to catch even one. Listening for any sign of life in an empty room.

That’s what it’s like for a writer trying to get out what’s in her head when what’s in her heart gets in the way.

I was so tempted to try again today with a new review of a new Christmas album. But it’s 3:55 a.m. My son has soccer practice tomorrow. I’ve penciled the Reta Watkins review for later that night. Who knows what will happen. I certainly don’t.

If the words come, they come. If not, I’ll rely on my years of training to help me make heads or tails out of something.

I’ve learned that inspiration comes when you least expect it. It’s a gift. Funny, my birthday’s in two days.

Bryon

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Photo by Viktoria Hall-Waldhauser on Unsplash

Do you understand that you can have this thing without owning it?

I dreamed of Bryon today. We were married. Time seemed recent, or not far off. I can’t say, reincarnation. Like it would fix everything. Slap a label on the side of a piece of meat, sell it to the masses for pennies on the pound.

Besides, the scenery… Does that even matter in dreams?

All that mattered was the feeling I had, waiting for him to show up in that doorway. He was a gift. Every day. In that doorway. And everyday, he came home to me.

Today, we are strangers. I’ve reached out to him. To help. Some nonsense. I don’t know the man. Sometimes I don’t want to. He seems resigned to what remains of the day, buried beneath… probably the same things I am…

He’s this man in a desert, after experiencing an oasis. Beauty, charm, success, passion and privilege, mad, mad fucking love. Everyone bought it. I used to watch like the movies on Friday nights, up on the silver screen, gobbling up my popcorn and Raisinets.

I’m… nothing.

I don’t understand love and attraction, the difference between a few well-chosen, kind words (“It’s only polite. Write her back.”) and sweaty, late nights under the covers making your peace with motherhood, apple pie, and the flag.

I don’t under the silence between us, when I can remember a thousand unspoken conversations between the kids, dinner, and the day our world exploded.