Thursday, July 31, 2008

Spreading the Love

In the midst of all the recent drama, I was thrilled to learn this blog had received an award.

Friend Greg over at The Midnight Garden did me the honor of awarding me the coveted Brillante Weblog (okay, no, I'd never heard of it before either, but I'm still thrilled); he compounded the honor by putting me in some fine company, naming me along with six other excellent blogs. Counting the guy who gave him the prize, there are eight blogs mentioned (not counting mine); I'm already a big fan of four of them, so the remaining four are gifts I'm excited to open. But that's still not the best part of this award; now I get to name some of my favorites, and play a small part in expanding the delightful interweb of creativity, goofiness, insight, art and humor I've come to enjoy.

The rules of the award are as follows:

1) Put the logo on my blog.

2) Add a link to the person who awarded me.

3) Nominate at least seven other blogs.

4) Include links to those blogs here.

5) Finally, I must then leave messages on the blogs of those nominated.

Like I said, Greg already gave the award to three bloggers I too would have named; they, like Greg himself, are connections I made by way of Nicky Cooper. A couple I'm nominating are also Nicky links one way or the other. Just thought I'd acknowledge that. If you're not already, go read Tornwordo, Strelitzia, Java and Greg (clearly Greg and I need to work harder at coming up with cool blogger handles. UPDATE: I'd forgotten that Greg is, in fact, the Midnight Gardener. I proffer my apologies to Greg, and full acknowledgement that I stand alone in the lame-ass blogger handle section).

Without further ado, I'm proud to present the Brillante Award to the following Weblogs:

1. Sweet/Salty. This may seem a bit premature, given that I only started reading this blog in the past week, but I think the award is deserved, and not just for her grace during the recent trainwreck. I initially approached the blog with a lot of trepidation, fearing I would discover that the voice I'd come to love over the Corridor and Niche was stolen in its entirety. In short order I did discover three examples of plagiarism, but more importantly, I discovered a wonderful new (to me) voice, a gifted storyteller able to recount events of emotional devastation with the same light touch she brings to the humorous stories. I've accepted that leafing back through her archives may be painful for me at times, but I think reading her future entries will be an unmitigated pleasure.

2. A Choreographer's Blog. Melissa is one of the shining stars in my New York firmament. The two of us make up half of a very casual arts support group that calls itself The Exploding Yurts (any explanation you come up with for the name will undoubtedly be more interesting than the truth). I've danced in one of her shows; she choreographed for my one-act, we have collaborated at least two other times, and we have been sounding boards for each other's work since meeting in Spring of 2001. Artistic friendships always expand to include all of life, of course, and ours is no exception; she is one of my rocks.

Her blog is very much a seedbed for her work; some entries will find her exploring images, others will discuss rehearsals, some may examine techniques or questions she wants to tackle, still others may recount life events, but always there is a thread of awareness that this may shape her work someday; movement is how she makes sense of the world. The subtitle to the blog is "a place for ideas, some that move, some that don't." Her choreography often involves both movement and text, including her own poetry, so sometimes an entry will be a poem that hasn't yet found its dance. Even people who aren't lucky enough to be woven as extensively into her life as I am will still appreciate seeing her follow her muse, I think.

3. Odin's Aviary Buddy Jeff is another member of The Exploding Yurts (seriously, don't ask), the only one of the four who is right-handed, actually. Probably nobody finds that noteworthy but me. I've written about his engagement to Megan in an earlier entry as well. Megan is also a lefty, by the way. No, I don't know why I find that so fascinating. I think Jeff has some lefty envy, though.

When people ask me what kind of work I do, I used to say "I'm a physical actor." This was usually met with blank stares, even from other people in the biz, who would then ask, "um...what does that mean?" Then I'd say something like "well... it's a broad term covering everything from Circus du Soleil to Blue Man Group to Ann Bogard/Suzuki to Julie Taymor and no, I've never worked with any of those folks, but I've done stuff LIKE that, especially the maskwork and Suzuki and physical storytelling, and sometimes I'll do straight up modern dance concerts, and I create my own work sometimes, and I still love doing Shakespeare and other well-made traditional plays, it just hasn't happened in a while and... " usually I trail off by that point because the listener's eyes have understandably glazed over.

Nowadays I'm likely to say "go read my friend Jeff's blog." Jeff is constantly working, and often doing the kind of stuff I do, or did, when I was doing stuff, which hasn't happened in a while, which is a whole OTHER story we don't need to get into now. He writes about auditions, rehearsals, developmental projects, workshops and his personal process with self-deprecating wit and lucidity. He's also one of the more regular writers, updating his blog almost daily a lot of the time. That obviously can change if he's neck deep in a project or three, or if he happens to be in Italy, which happens more than might seem fair, until you realize how hard he's worked to get to Italy. While learning more about the life of an itinerant actor in New York, you also come to see the sweet, sharp, silly man at the center of this one. He's also an unashamed comic books fan, with special mention for Batman.

4. Hooky Beach. Somewhere Joe is another gift from the Corridor, another person living his life with quiet insight, awareness and kind discernment. He once described me as someone who had improvised a 'life as art', but I think he is the true master of the form, and his blog is an eloquent record of the process. Whether it's a story or a photo montage, a trip to the beach often conjurs the experience of a good conversation with a friend over drinks, the comfortable silences punctuated by the sound of the surf. Of all the bloggers I've mentioned, he's probably the most likely to decline this award, either because he's already received it, or because he doesn't want the paparazzi showing up and messing up the beach. I will respect that, but wanted to make sure he knew how much I appreciated him.

5. Indigo Blue Blue is another gift from the Corridor, though Somewhere Joe gets some credit for introducing me to her as well. She too is an artistic soul, exploring many different forms of expression, whether it be painting, writing, running a spa, raising children, or creating celebrations. The life she is building for herself inspires me, with work, art, family and travel all being woven together in a way I'd like to emulate. I don't mean to discount any struggles she may experience in juggling all those things, but her blog always expands my horizons.

6. Eyduck. Kate is one of the army of Kates/Cathys/Katherines that has enriched my life (do you have certain names you just seem to click with?). She too is an actor, writer, comedian, though unlike the other performers mentioned here, she is now based in LA. I got to know her through Brian (#7), though sadly she had already left New York before he became a part of my life, so mostly I only got to see her when she came for visits. This means in a funny way she is both old friend and blogger friend, someone whose life I've been following only through the blog for at least two years now. She struggles with many of the same questions I do about how to live a good, fulfilling life pursuing (and defining) the vocation we love. It's been wonderful to see both her career and her community blossoming. Improv classes and shows have contributed heavily to her new circle of friends, but so has her blog. Many of the people who fell in love with her writing (and vice versa) are now important presences in her daily life. Seeing that happen has been exciting and inspiring. Read just a few of her posts, and you'll understand.

7. Peace of Cake. Brian is a close friend who works as a director here in town. He, like Kate, Greg, and Jeff, is also a huge comic book fan; theatre and comic books make up the two strongest threads of his blog writing. He and a colleague recently started a theatre company devoted to gay theatre called Orange Hanky Productions, then immediately had two projects (both of them excellent) back-to-back. This has meant Brian hasn't had the time to blog as much as he used to. Maybe I'm giving him this award as a not so subtle goad to blog more frequently, but I'm hardly one to point fingers. Anyway, Brian will often observe important holidays, such as National Coming Out Day, with an appropriate superhero or frame. His close readings of past comics are not to be missed. Lately most of his theatre entries have been plugs for his shows; it's really great to see him working.

So there you have my list of seven. Like Greg, I found it hard enough to limit it to this many; there are some good blogs out there. What a funny little world this has opened up for me. Also like Greg, I hasten to add that no one I pass this award onto should feel any pressure to participate. All of you are busy people with rich interesting lives, I know; that is part of what makes your blogs such a pleasure. I just want you to know how much I have appreciated your thoughts and images these past two to three years.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Dragonfly Story I

Below are excerpts from two letters, one from me, one from Jo. Yes, I am still in limited contact with Jo, for the time being.

I'm going to take a small preemptive strike here. I know many folks are of the opinion that once a liar, always a liar; why, Patrick, are you still in contact? Why are you listening to anything this person says?

I appreciate the concern, but trust me, this contact is a good thing. It has been helping me. If it's been helping Jo as well, that's nice too, but it's definitely helping me. Perhaps the whole tortured gay man in a woman's body story will prove to be every bit as fabulous as the hunky single gay dad story, but it's just not going to hurt me if so. I feel like I am approaching all this as a true skeptic -not as the word is usually used these days, when we really mean distrusting cynic- but as someone who questions everything. I don't know what is true or false without further verification, but as long as I remember that, there is no danger. You may feel this is foolish in the extreme, and I respect that. If so, I hope you can read this entry at least as a good story.

Some background is needed to make sense of the two excerpts:

1. I left gifts for Nicky and the boys with Jo, the day before I left town. It was too painful for me to think of taking them back to New York with me, and even though my suspicions were coming to a fever pitch, I just wanted to leave them there. In a recent note he asked me if I wanted him to return the gifts. My response is below.

2. Nicky and I shared a love of dragonflies. Unlike him, I don't collect images of them, but it was one of the silly little things we bonded over. I'm beginning to see that a love of dragonflies is quite common among my blogging circle. No idea what, if anything, that means, but it's fun little fact. I love that Somewhere Joe posted a photo and a song about dragonflies just yesterday.

3.Oh, Nicky's favorite color, as some of you may know, was green. No idea if that is true for Jo as well.

I quote from Jo's letter with his permission.


Regarding the gifts I left with you, I have no need of them, and would like all of you to have them. I have no need to be identified to the boys in any way, even if there were any way that would make sense, I'm sure. I leave it up to you when they get them, or how they're explained, but I will be pleased to think of the boys enjoying them. I would also like you to have Nicky's presents. I assume the reasons I thought Nicky would like them will still hold true for you, and I have no problem with that. If it makes you feel better, I regift them now to you, Jo.

I'll ruin the surprise on the smallest gift just to tell you the story now; it has a deeper sadness for me, but I'd still like you to have it. When I was at the GLBT rally in BC (that's a lot of initials) there was a woman there selling glass jewelry. There were a few dragonfly pins that I loved, especially a green one that I simply had to get for Nicky. Later that same day I opened up the package to look at it again... and dropped it onto the sidewalk, breaking it in three places (the wings and the tail). I was devastated and surprised at how strong my reaction was, but realized it was because I saw this as an omen that things were never going to work out between me and Nicky, that indeed I might never meet him (this, you may recall, was the Saturday BEFORE he was scheduled to return the following day). I tried to tell myself that I was being silly, but realized this is what happens if one starts to make a big fuss over omens; it's fun when they're positive, but what do you do when they're negative? Well, I decided to buy superglue and reconstruct the dragonfly, as some sort of ritual of defiance I guess, insisting that I WOULD make this work. It didn't hold the first couple of times I glued it, so I'm worried that it may be in three four pieces again now. If so, I wanted you to know why. Do with it as you see fit. If you don't want it, please pass it along or throw it away.


The dragonfly story is extraordinary, Patrick! I opened it and it is in pieces, but you know something, it IS the most powerful symbol imaginable just as it is. I am going to keep it with me always as a reminder of just how fragile the soul is ... and how beautiful even the broken can be. When the panicky feelings start, and the desire to be my Nicky self rises above all else, I will hold those little dragonfly pieces in my hand and be reminded of how much destruction I have caused by not allowing the fragments of who I am to be whole. Of all the dragonflies I have collected over the years, that one will always be the most precious. Thank you, I accept your re-gift. How lovely it to receive it as both pieces of me ... Jo and Nicky integrated

Mom's Note

I'm feeling like I may have a lot to say today; no promises, but this entry might just be the first olive out of the jar. It feels like I'm close to getting this all out of my system, or as much as one can. Most of you are probably long past ready to move on and I respect that. I know I'll have other things to babble about very soon, most notably the upcoming celebration of my parents' 50th wedding anniversary.

In the meantime, let me share with you the note I got from my mom in the mail yesterday. God bless her, she's the only person still giving me reason to look forward to snail mail these days. I really need to be better at returning the favor (she refuses to have anything to do with computers, though she will read things Dad prints out for her).

I love this.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Oh So Much Randomness

Hm. Now it seems my clarification requires a clarification. This could get very meta. Goody.

First off, Torn's question made me realize my dad's comment below might be perplexing others. My whole family uses what Quakers call 'the plain language', meaning we always use the familiar pronouns thee, thy and thine when addressing one another. They're the English equivalent of the Spanish and Italian tú or the German du (sp?).

Seems sad, and telling, that the familiar pronoun would be the one that went out of common usage in English, doesn't it?

Most Quakers don't do it anymore either, and the few of us that do generally only use it with family members (which makes it almost counter to the original intention from back in the 1660s, in a weird way)... okay, I could rabbit ON about all this, but for now, I'll leave it at that. When I first started writing the blog, I considered changing the pronouns anytime I quoted my family members, but doing so always disturbed me; it felt like a violation even. The only way I would ever say 'you' to one of them would be if I was so angry I was ready to cut all ties with him or her forever. So with your indulgence I will always quote them correctly when I write about them here.

Now, on to Joe's question of the carpet matching the drapes... well, even without any modifications on my part, that is never actually true. The hair on my head is a different shade and texture from hair found anywhere else on me, including beard and eyebrows. They're both black, with an increasing amount of grey in them, actually, which is giving my eyebrows especially an odd mangy look. The most recent Advocate tells me that Silver Foxes are in these days, though.

The photo in the entry below, however, was meant to show that I had turned my hair red. That was the sympathetic magic spell; it's very hard for me to be glum when my hair is red. And no Steven, there's NOTHING wrong with red hair, I love it. I consider it a kind of anti-depressant, frankly. (Are you a redhead then? And why is this the first I've heard of it? Take a photo without your damn hat!)

Over the last twenty years I have probably done this maybe six times, the last time being in 2004. I used henna, as I always do, because then the process is even more fun; I'm making mud pies, spreading it in my hair, leaving it there for an hour or more, then washing it out. There is something both primal and child-like in the experience for me. Henna also smells cool, like cut grass, which is essentially what it is.

Usually any time I've done it, the change has been so distinct that there was no question it had happened. This time it doesn't seem to have had quite the same effect. Below is a picture of me before the hair color change. You might recall this image from an earlier entry.

Okay, so the lighting isn't very good, and you can't see my whole head, but you see how my hair is brown, right? Then there is this photo, taken a day or two after I had washed the wet grass out of my hair.

Do you see a difference? No, the lighting isn't much better here either, nor is it the same bad lighting as in the photo above (it's the same bad photographer in both, obviously), but you can see a tinge, right? Right?

Funnily enough, I have been getting identified as a redhead more and more as I get older. Several times entire painting classes have portrayed me that way. "What are you all doing?" the instructor will usually say, "he doesn't have red hair."

When I was still taking Irish, I got identified in class as Pádraig Rua (Patrick Red) to differentiate me from the other Pádraig in the class (two Patricks in an Irish class, go figure). Java, after her visit here, said something about missing my fuzzy red head, and this was weeks before I slathered on the wet grass. The first time I did it, in college, my friend Cathy (a philosophy major, now a philosophy professor) decided that metaphysically I WAS a redhead. Maybe I'm just growing more into my true self. That would be cool.

So far no one, not even my roommate, has said anything about it. I think Dad may have been gearing up to ask if I'd gone red again, but we got interrupted and he never came back to it. It's possible the change is so slight this time that people who don't know me well, if they notice at all, think I'm trying to sneak it past them. Nope, I was going for a big change, a new perspective on life change, a fresh energy, 'wash that man right out of my hair' kind of thing. It's having that emotional effect on me, but apparently it's more in my head than on it. Eh, that's fine. The point is the tranformation, right?

In conclusion, in light of recent events, I thought I'd share this final image with you.

Who the hell is that? I took the damn photo, and I don't recognize him. Nor do I know how I got this weird effect. Sure the image isn't focused, but as has been firmly established long ago, I almost never manage to get photos of people or animals in focus. NONE of the images in this entry are focused. Sometimes cameras just do this. It's weird.

Necessary Back-Tracking

A couple of friends have written me privately in response to the last two entries, expressing concern for me, but also perplexity. It was foolish of me to assume that everyone who read this blog would know what came to light this week with Nicky Cooper, the author behind Cooper's Corridor and Nico's Niche. My apologies for leaving some of you out of the loop.

To get a good synopsis of the story, go here. In the comments section you'll also find my response, since in fact I am the blogger Tony mentions at the end who could verify the truth of Jo's story. The two entries following on Tony's blog also refer to the whole mess, but I suspect he, and most other people will be moving on from this now. I may still have one or two more stories to share, but we'll see.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sympathetic Magic

How can one stay melancholy, how can one take oneself too seriously... when one has orange hair?

Seriously. How?

I haven't done this in years, but it still works.


I think the entry directly below this one is sounding more sad to people than I meant it to. As I've told many of you directly, I'm sifting through things, and finding there is still a lot of beauty in all this, a lot I am still grateful for.

The day after my fears were confirmed, my Dad happened to be in town, so I was able to break the news to him in person over breakfast. He was his usual splendid self. I mentioned Jo's statement to him; "you have given me something which fed the very source of my soul, but I stole it from you." (At this point I was not yet aware she had said the same thing to all of us, via Father Tony.)

"Well," he said, "maybe she got it under false pretenses, but she didn't steal it. Thee gave it willingly; more importantly, she didn't kill it at the source. Thee still has it to give."

That beautifully articulated what I had been grappling with all the previous night. I am not lessened by this, unless I choose to be.

I know many others feel robbed, terribly damaged by this whole experience. I'm not dismissing or discounting anyone else's experience in all this. I'm sorry for the hurt they sustained. I just don't think that's how I'm seeing it for myself. I don't like how this turned out. It wasn't what I wanted. But I still feel like the love I gave was accepted with gratitude. Had I given money, I would now have less of it. But love, however misled, however based in fantasy (mine and Jo's)... I don't know. I just don't think I've lost anything but some pride. And that gets in my way too much as it is.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Just Some Impressions for Now

A lot to mull over here, as most of you know. Much to digest. I can't help but wonder if by the time I know what to say about all this, my fifteen minutes of fame as the latest wild-eyed politician's wife standing behind her scoundrel husband as he confesses his lifetime of lies will be over. We must be at least to minute eleven by now, right? I think it will be okay though if everyone else has moved on by the time I know what to say. Who wants to be that politician's wife? You feel sorry for her, but you can't help wondering if she is a complete moron.

I will never look at those poor women the same way again. Once you've ignored the first misgiving, the others flow more easily.


Tee-Tee carefully felt for my hands, as he stood on the edge of the pool, wanting to make sure he knew where they were before he 'jumped' (that is, carefully fell) into my arms with a splash.

"More!" he cried, big brown eyes shining, those impossibly long eye-lashes only increasing the baby seal effect he had going on.

We'd been playing this game for quite some time. I'm not sure which one of us loved it more.

"If you're starting to get tired, just say 'one more,'" Jo said from the bench nearby. "He understands that."

"Thanks, I'm fine, no worries."

I'd been looking forward to meeting this little guy, and his brother, and his adopted dad for weeks now. There had even been another plan back around Easter that had had to be cancelled. This trip had been changed several times but never actually cancelled. To be fair, Nicky had tried to talk me out of it at one point, and I had steam-rolled his objections, thinking they were the simply the fears of a 26 year old coming to the surface. I'd been invited out here, yes, but I'd gotten here by my own choice.

The reasons I'd been given for why big brother couldn't join us today at the pool made good sense. The reason Dad wasn't in town also were believable; every stranger in town I spoke to (and the folks in this town are very friendly) had confirmed that people in his line of work put in ridiculous hours this time of year, and were rarely home. I still had some serious qualms, but for now the story all held together. My worries were too vague to be articulated. The warmth and friendliness of Nicky's babysitter, her willingness to come and meet a complete stranger on her employer's behalf just so I wouldn't feel lonely, okay yeah, that had seemed a bit odd, but when I thought of the passionate devotion Nicky inspired online from hundreds of us, when I saw the very real love there was between Tee-Tee and the woman he called 'Nana', it didn't strain my credulity that this lovely woman might have fallen under the Cooper spell herself.

My first day in town I had met them at a bookstore/cafe for coffee. The only way I knew which woman to go up to was because I recognized Tee-Tee when he came striding in like he owned the place. He was unquestionably the boy from the photos. I had already gotten my coffee and a blueberry muffin. I got Jo some coffee as they got settled. When I got back to the table, Tee-Tee let it be understood he wouldn't be adverse to sharing my muffin, were I so inclined.

"Sure, do you want some with blueberries in it?" I asked.

"Yeah!" he said with conviction.

As we split the muffin between us, occasionally taking tickle breaks so I could hear that giggle...oh, that giggle... Jo told me about their time in Stuart Lake, how Nicky had been doing with the new job, how frustrated he was to miss me. She also told me about her own life, her husband, three children, her job as a nurse, her British father, Canadian mother and siblings scattered in both countries. Like I said, I had met many locals by this time, and was no longer surprised at the warmth and openness. Sure, none of them had told me their life stories, but I bet if I had sat down to have coffee with them, they would have. Besides, I assumed she was also interviewing me, however casually, in order to make a full report to Nicky (or Nico, which was my nickname for him). She had been pressed into Yenta service, but I suspected she didn't mind. I was enjoying her company; I thought she was very sweet.

Meanwhile, Tee-Tee was charming my socks off, as he'd been doing for over a year now on the blog. At one point he grinned at me and said "BRAPPP!" Naturally I echoed it back to him. That's how I respond to such things (well, what would you do?). I then learned this was his imitation of Big Brother, who is at that stage where bodily functions are the height of comedy. This apparently was a burp. "Nicky calls that outside behavior," Jo told me. I was relieved he hadn't witnessed my encouragement of his son in this behavior.

Tee-Tee sat still and quiet for close to thirty minutes, I would say. When he was given a bag of goldfish crackers he made sure to share those with me as well. Soon though it was clearly time for small boys to get some activity. I was pleased to be included in the walk, even to the point of having him hold my hand, Nana's hand on the other side, as we set off to explore the town. When he got tired, Jo carried him for a while; when she said she was beginning to get tired, I offered to take a shift.

"Do you want Patrick to carry you?"


It's been years since I've carried a two year old. Oh yeah... this is what it feels like. This little fellow nestled into my right side, head resting on my shoulder. He seems to be falling asleep. I could get used to this. Not sure I'm ready to take this on for the rest of my life (holy sweet mother of god) but oh, this is nice.

"That's amazing," Jo whispered. "He rarely lets strangers touch him." I didn't buy it. I suspected this was a sweet white lie on her part, meant to make me feel special. I've seen plenty of stranger-shy children. I've even had a few of them take to me unexpectedly, but there is always that hesitancy at first, the timidity of a wild creature edging warily within your reach. Children, animals, it's much the same process if they're scared but want to trust you.

I never saw the slightest hesitation from Tee-Tee in, well, anything he did. I didn't (and don't) doubt he had been through some very rough times, but I seriously questioned the "he won't let strangers touch him" story. I thought it was a sweet gesture on her part though. The fact was, he did make me feel pretty special.

We went to a local pet store to look at the cats (or 'num-nums' as Tee-Tee calls them, no one knows why, except that he loves them), fish, and birds. Jo commented again on his willingness to let me lift him up to the higher windows, or snuggle into me when I crouched down with him to see the lower windows. Outside at one point, I lifted him up to sit on my shoulders.

"Do you like that?" Jo asked.


"He's grinning from ear to ear," she whispered.

When it was time for them to take the bus home (Tee-Tee is mad for buses, just as Nicky had told me), I set them on it, and waved goodbye to them both through the window. Kisses were blown. I was smitten.

Days later, back at the pool, we had swum about at first -me holding him and moving around while he kicked and splashed joyously- then we discovered (or did Jo suggest?) the jumping-in-from-the-side game, which rather naturally evolved into the let-me-climb-down-the-ladder game. I'd put him back on the side of the pool, trying not to let my restraint (to keep him from slipping) be too obvious, as he marched purposely to the ladder, grasped the rails, felt carefully with one foot, then slide down to sit on the first step. After he'd done this a few times with me hovering close he made it clear he was ready to fly solo.

"Tee-Tee!" he said, patting his chest with his hand. ("Let me do it!")

"Okay, yes, yes, I understand. I'm here just in case."

It was fascinating watching him work through this process. I could SEE the wheels whirring, the links being made, the synapses forming then firing. He methodically and repeatedly worked through each step of the process. "Tee-Tee!" chest pat, "yes, yes, I will." Each time the slide into sitting on the top step was executed with more confidence, though the moment of free-fall always made me nervous. I tried to protect his head from the side of the pool without him noticing. When we briefly returned to the simpler jump-into-my-arms exercise, he was truly leaping now, with actual moments of flight between leaving the edge and landing in my arms. We were all excited.

Eventually, this new skill mastered, he began exploring sitting on the step facing the side of the pool, something that only a person with very tiny legs could have managed. I was less fond of this experiment, and it was to prove the one that would bring today's explorations to an end. I'm not sure what happened exactly. Suddenly he started crying, and when I tried to pick him up, he couldn't move. I felt for his feet, and found them braced firmly against the second step. I think he had gotten them jammed there, and couldn't understand that if he wanted to move, he had to relax instead of brace them. Eventually I managed to get him dislodged while Jo pulled him out by his arms. She wrapped his shivering body in a big towel, and nestled him against her body.

"Where does it hurt?" Jo asked.

"Dee (here)!" he replied, pointing one foot.

"Oh here?" we both asked, administering kisses on the offended (though unmarked) limb.

"No, DEE!" seeming to indicate the other leg. More kisses.

"NO, DEE!" now his belly. We looked for cuts or bruises, found none, rubbed and kissed it anyway. Finally it seemed the idiot adults had gotten with the program. There were a few more half-hearted moans (the kind that always sound a bit 'performed' to my actor's ear), but the tears were done. He seemed to have bounced back, but we agreed swimming was done for the day.

Jo asked me about my tattoo (nice touch that, Nicky knew all about my tattoo), then we got Tee-Tee all dressed. The hotel Nicky was putting me up in has a South Seas theme; the courtyard with the pool also had a small 'creek' running through palm trees and tropical plants. Small foot-bridges arched over the stream at two points.

"Toot-Toot!" he exclaimed, pointing to the bridges. Jo explained that he was mad for trains -Thomas the train, specifically- as well as buses (clearly unaware that Nicky had filled me in on all this ages ago), so anything that looks like it might go with a train, such as these bridges, was by association wonderful. We spent some time running back and forth over them. I got a bit anxious at the momentum he built up sometimes on the downsides, but he only fell once, and it clearly hadn't upset him, (by unspoken agreement, neither Jo nor I made any sudden 'uh-oh' faces or gasping sounds; I think that helped).

Then again it was time to go.

"Do you want to give Patrick a hug and a kiss?"


To be honest, I'd been secretly hoping he'd decide to do it on his own, but I was still gratified by the lack of hesitation. What's more, I got not one but two kisses, and this despite the fact that I hadn't shaved in a few days, and was pretty bristly.

Our leave-taking finished, he was clearly ready for the next adventure, once again getting to ride the bus home, baseball cap at a jaunty angle.

"Wait a minute, I want to say good bye to Patrick too," Jo said. We also hugged and kissed.

After they left I realized I'd forgotten to ask Jo to take a photograph of me and Tee-Tee on my camera. I'd wanted it for my own sake, but I also knew Nicky would want to see one (he did ask later if we had taken any; yup, she was very good). I was sorry not to have records of these early encounters, but I felt some cautious comfort in the idea that maybe it wouldn't be the last time I got to see the little guy.

I don't feel any anger towards Jo, at least not yet. I reserve the right to go apeshit in the future, but so far it just hasn't felt necessary. I just feel sorrow, yes for myself, but also for her. If I'm inclined to feel resentful though it's for this; she must have realized my time with Tee-Tee was going to be short, but she never took any photos either. Nicky was the photographer of the family, I knew that. It would have been so easy for her to take some photos though, claiming to do it, as she did so much, on Nicky's behalf.

I really wish she had.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Workin' the Day Job II

Yes, I've been MIA for quite some time. I had an adventure/walkabout/spirit quest and I'm still mulling over the experience. Not sure what, if any of it will be remotely interesting to anyone but me; I have a good friend that says "the only time the phrase 'I had a dream' interests me, is if the next words are 'and you were in it.'" I think spirit quests may fall into the same category. I'm not trying to be coy; things learned in solitude are useful only to the degree they affect us in the larger world. One thing I did learn though is, spirit quests never go according to plan. Maybe that's the point. Once I stopped trying to make anything happen, things got much better. If further rumination indicates, I will share my story with you, I promise.

In the meantime though, go check out this link.

A few weeks before before said spirit quest, I modeled again at the Salmagundi Club, the place where I first met the lovely and talented Ben Conrad. The instructor, David Hassan, had asked me to come back so he could do a demo drawing for interested students. What I hadn't expected was that his right hand man, Alex Leal, was going to videotape it. You don't actually see me (which is probably just as well; it might have gotten messy, I probably would have needed a special SAG waiver, and honestly , who can be bothered?), but you do see the drawing David does. In fact you see a three and a half hour session sped up to a little over seven minutes.

I think this is WAY cool, and I don't think it's just vanity on my part (though I do like the final image, as well as the stages along the way). I showed it to my roommate; he's moving out at the end of this month, and thus has no reason to keep me happy, yet he still insisted on watching the whole thing, even rewinding some parts.

I wish there was a way to show this to a lot of the beginning art students I will be seeing this Fall. Every year there are the same frustrations, questions and insecurities that I think this video would answer, if they had the savvy to see it. For one thing it shows drawing is a lot like sculpting. David masses in big shapes, knowing that if he doesn't quite like where things are, he'll be able to moosh them around later, and get them where they're supposed to be. Because of the speed (as well as David's clear expertise and confidence) it's easy to think every line he puts down is right where he wants it, doing exactly what he wants, on the first try. In way that's true; it's all part of the exploration, the experimentation. He puts down lines to see if that gives him what he wants. If they don't, he changes them. Yes, his experience means he probably gets a lot of the lines and shapes close to where he wants them right off, but he also works in such a way (lightly, yet specifically) that he can easily change and move things as he continues, shifting lines and shapes as needed as the drawing develops.

This, THIS is the sort of thing I love about modeling; the lessons I learn from this have direct application to my work as an actor, or just a person striving to live a conscious, responsible, creative life. Experiment. Try stuff, be confident in the execution, don't be tentative or ambivalent. At the same time, be prepared to change everything you just tried, if it's not working. Commit, but don't clutch, don't be precious. If something doesn't work, you still learned something useful. Change it. Try something else. To quote Samuel Beckett, "Try again. Fail again. Fail better." A mistake on the page is still LOADS better than a blank page, with you standing there, shivering and paralyzed, clutching your unused pencil.

I wanted to rephrase that last sentence, but I couldn't come up with anything that didn't make my inner adolescent snicker. He sees sex in EVERYTHING. All of you are far too mature to have gone down that road though, right? Moving on.

Anyway, like I said, it's also just a cool seven minutes. You watch a realistic image (and pretty good likeness, my roommate and I agree) forming out of squiggles, boxes, smudges and lines. Maybe you won't see a lesson in how to live your life, but it's still a neat experience.