Saturday, November 29, 2008


On November 26, 1992, my mother told me that I was about to turn 6. I burst into tears. (I don’t like growing up. At all.)

There are so many wonderful things about being young. You get to goof off, be irresponsible, be imaginative, be cute. People laugh when you make mistakes and they help you out. Your parents grant you grace. Your friends are young, too. Nobody gets married. Nobody can’t come out to play because they have to work. Nobody has children to take care of.

But I can’t stop growing up any more than I can stop the earth from spinning.

So here’s my salute to youth! 21, you were a great age. I liked being you. Let’s get together and reminisce, shall we? Yes. Let’s share some memories and then we’ll go our separate ways. Okay? Okay.

Let's start with the time I turned you. Remember that? And even though we were under contract, we went out to that pub in Pasadena. But, of course, the bartender wasn’t even going to card me. So I told him that you and I had just gotten together and so he asked to see my ID and checked you out? That was really great. Rian bought me a cider and snapped this photo of Beth and I, this one that is “too cute to be allowed.”

And then there was that cocktail party, which would later be crowned the best party ever, when I felt you because, hello, it was a cocktail party! I thought, I must be 21 because I’m drunk and wearing this super nice dress in a tiny apartment full of other drunk, classy people. I really felt you then.

And right after that I graduated from college!

And remember when we got involved with Derek, who was so much older, but it was okay because you and I were together?

And we directed a high school musical?

Ooo, ooo! And we bought that car in New York, you and I, 21, we flew to Utica and drove back across the state. And then, later, we drove across the country. And if I’d been with any other age, 21, it wouldn’t have been cool. But you were the perfect companion.

I like, too, how you and I have never had any money. You didn’t bring me any money, but I’m okay with that. I was never with you for the money anyway.

Man, I really loved you.

But, you know, you didn’t bring me all joy, either. You and I did have to bury my Grandad together. And we did lose Kevin and Katherine and Rian, even after everything. And we hurt a lot of people. And we didn’t do all the things we planned and so much hoped for.

But you were always there. And you showed yourself in so many ways. With you, 21, I perfected my karaoke technique, drove to Pennsylvania and Virginia, scoffed at people who were getting married, boomeranged to live with my parents, vacationed in Bermuda, got involved in a string of crazy relationships, flew to Orlando all by myself, stayed out late and all night if I wanted to, joined my friends in being concerned for anyone who drank responsibly, moved into an apartment in California, paid bills, took strange jobs, bonded with my brother, and slept on couch after couch after couch. All because of you!

And let’s remember our last night. Wednesday night. When I sat at the computer and watched you leave me, so quietly, minute by minute.

21, we were great together. Thank you; I’ll really miss you.

But this is goodbye.


Monday, November 24, 2008


I listen to us as a song

Discovered in my youth and caught, bright

Between the panes of memory.

We’re still here

And there

In symphonic phrases

Hymnal lines tripping to their ends

Lyrics insisting FM radio

And in the smoke of our melody

bluer than blue.

I play our love deliberately.


I listen to us as a song

A gentle vinyl spin

Scratched by the sharpest of needles

Around and around

Beginning to end

And then –


Thursday, November 20, 2008


Michael and I made lists of things we can do.  Why?  Because. 

I guess sometimes it helps to know that even if the CIA suddenly decides that you’re a malfunctioning 30 million dollar weapon, you still might stand a chance out there in the world. 

And while Michael and I can’t necessarily tell you the license plate numbers of all six cars outside, we’re not entirely without game.

Here’s what we can do.

Michael Can:

Find his way around a train station
Walk on stilts
Do accents (Australian, English, Scottish, Irish, Yorkshire, and a variety of American)
Navigate the LA public transit system
Give extemporaneous speeches
Operate a puppet
Sleep in close proximity to loud sounds
Drive stick shift (and on the left side of the road!)
Arrange education, employment, and lodging overseas
Turn up to work on time
Cook (at least 3 complete, well-balanced meals)
Clean a toilet and use a vacuum
Pay bills on time
Stay 4 nights in Vegas without luggage and reacquire lost luggage
Survive surgery
Ride roller coasters

I Can:

Take clothes to the dry cleaners
Navigate airport security
Blend in at a Goth club
Drive a jet ski
Diagnose appendicitis
Shoot a gun (9mm, shotgun, and assault rifle)
Read music
Tie knots with my toes
Check in and out of a hotel
Stay calm and follow emergency procedures in an earthquake, car accident, tornado, hurricane, or snowstorm
Throw a punch
Catch fish
Drink 5 beers and walk a straight line
File Taxes
Speak conversational Spanish (as well as minimal Italian and French)
Wait tables

And that isn’t even everything!  Move over, Jason Bourne.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

In case of A GIANT SHARK

My parents came to visit a couple weeks ago and I started to talk to them, really talk to them, for the first time in years. 

It was hard.  I was unkind, I think, because we talked about the truth.  The truth of what it was like for us kids growing up.  The truth about some family secrets, things that been swept under rugs my entire life, old rifts in my parents marriage that have become exposed in recent years.  When I brought up these topics, I was a little angry, and I was a little cruel.  I’ve grown tired of the bullshit.  And, in the moment, I felt like it was useless to pretend otherwise.

My parents bore it well.  They weren’t angry at my disrespect.  They bravely answered my questions and treated me like an adult.  To tell the truth, I think I simply made them a little sad.  Because I was so obsessed with speaking the truth that I forgot something important.

I forgot that my parents are people.

Or, more accurately, I hadn’t fully realized it until I saw all these illusions torn to shreds in my hands.  I went on a crusade to rip them apart, imagining this facade as a wall that would require a sledgehammer to destroy.  But I found that it was so fragile, thin and frail as a spider web. 

There’s this scene in Jaws.  This giant shark has already killed two people and Chief Brody feels responsible.  He’s the sheriff in this town and people are dying.  Children are dying.  And he's weak, overmatched, insecure, unprepared to face down this incredible evil.  So he’s sitting at the kitchen table with his head in his hands and then he looks over…and there’s his son.  Sitting with his little head in his little hands.  Imitating his father.

So Brody lowers his hands.  And so does he son.  Then Brody makes a face.  And so does his son.  And then Brody says, “Give us a kiss.”

And his son says, “Why?”

And Brody replies, “Because I need it.”

Thanks, Spielberg, for the best picture I’ve ever seen of parenthood and human frailty. 

I think every parent must be Chief Brody on some level.  They're just people.  They're weak, overmatched, insecure, unprepared.  And the world a dangerous place, full of incredible evil.  For all they know, there's a giant shark out there!

And no one expects children to imitate their parents forever.  No one expects you to always just give your parents a kiss and run to bed. 

But they do need it. 

So even when you grow up and grow tired of the bullshit, that's something to remember.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


I’ve seen a lot of Bobby over the past few days and it’s been great. 

I really can’t be more honest than that.  It’s great.  There’s no lingering pain, no real sorrow, no pangs of guilt or regret when I look into his eyes.  There’s only joy.  He and I both love what we were and what we are and whatever we’ll become.  I think we’re a rare breed of exes.

But I do still ache for the fracturing of relationships in general.  Why do hearts have to break?  Why do human beings hurt each other?  The fact that Bobby and I are good now doesn’t erase all the damage that we’ve sustained over the years.  He and I built a boat and it didn’t weather the storm.  It broke apart, smashed on the rocks.  And this new vessel we’re crafting from the pieces is different.  Lighter, more fragile.  Water-stained. 

I don’t know.

I’ve seen so much pain recently.  I’ve seen so much history.  It seems like everyone I know is walking around with these scars from past voyages, dragging shards and remnants.  Anchors and chains of seaweed.  Ghosts in billowed canvas.  And we’re all just trying to move on.

But can we do that?  Should we even do that, fully? 

Look at the sheer number of memorials we’ve built in this country.  We have a memorial for every painful thing.  The Vietnam War.  The Holocaust.  We try to get past it, try to get past the crimes and the tragedies, but at the same time we want to remember.  We have to remember.  We move on.  But we never really sail away.

And I don’t think it’s bad. 

I don’t think memorial is bad. 

Because every now and then, no matter where we’ve gone since the wreck, we need to look, really look, at the storm.  We need to say, “This is the wave that capsized us.  This was the night we lost sight of the beacon.”

So maybe, I guess, we can also say, "Never again."  

Never again.  That's what I hope. 

Monday, November 3, 2008


“Don’t try to talk politics with me.  I hold very few political opinions and none that I’m willing to discuss.  I don’t care and I care even less for people who think I should.”

The above speech probably sounds familiar to most of you.  It’s mine, an old staple, that I like to pull out and give to strangers in bars, relatives at dinner parties, and unfortunate friends stuck with me on long car trips.  It’s the silver bullet I use to slay the political werewolf inside everyone when I see a full moon rising. 

Political ignorance is bliss.  This is been my policy for years.

But tonight I’m drinking coffee and trying, like everyone else, to get through my Voter Information Guide in anticipation of tomorrow’s “election.”  I say “election” because I’ve heard that there’s one going on.  It’s supposedly pretty important.  Go figure.

My problem is that I live and breathe for art.  Art, religion, and love.  And while I know, yes, on some cerebral level, that political movements and decisions will affect EVERY part of life – including art – I simply have a hard time believing that.  How?  Okay, this is important, I get it.  But HOW?!?

Art will thrive, no matter who is in office.  Art is story, it’s the heart of humanity, it’s the food of the soul.  Art isn’t even restricted by national borders or language barriers.  Art is and was and will be.  Art transcends.  So does religion.  So does love. 
I’m glad for America, yes, I am glad.  I’ve enjoyed my life here very much; I hope America continues to prosper and that she passes into the hands of a wise and caring leader.  But my role in this country has so little do with this wall-building, heartless monster called politics that makes us all grow fur and fangs.  I’m not interested; I’m not.

But more power to you if you are.

I just don’t have the rage.  I don’t have the burning need to fix this system.  I think it’s broken; I think those that have the gift of understanding the mess should sort it out.  Please do.  But that person isn’t me.  It’s like reading an electrical map of the circuitry of a New York City block.  I can’t read that.  But I’m glad there are electricians who can.

I can, however, read other maps.  Maps of story.  Maps of the heart and soul.  And those are the maps to which I’ll devote my time and study.  

So will I vote tomorrow?  Probably.  I’ll vote on everything I’m inclined to vote on.  If I arrive at the polls and nothing seems right to me…well, then, I guess I’ll go home. 

I'll leave it to others to howl at the moon.