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  1. It's My Resume by Rhonda Hansome

    Thursday, February 28, 2013


    The look on her face clearly said she was at a loss without a hieroglyphics to English dictionary at hand.  The fact that Twinkie* stared at the object I’d placed on her desk with prolonged bewilderment, prompted my outburst. “It’s my resume.” I offered with my voice slightly cracking. Twinkie raised her eyes with sphinx like inscrutability and said without a blink, “I’m just taking it all in.”  

    So my mind races as the casting director stares at my resume.  It took me three months to construct a new/fresh/now resume of my comedy driven career.  If she can take it all in, more power to her.  Damn, that resume doesn’t tell half the story of my life onstage.  And off stage you ask?    Well, both on stage and off, it feels like I'm starting all over from the middle. 

    Divorced in 2005 from several decades of marriage to my high school sweetheart, I moved from our neighborhood, the center of the universe, Tribeca.  When hubby (now my ex) and I arrived, the Washington Market Area was barely maintaining daytime activity as a food distribution center.  At night it was a no man’s land unfamiliar to even New York cab drivers.  No stores, no street lights, we were pioneers settling on the windy far west of New York’s lower west side.  The abundant loft living space drew the adventurous; hubby and I were game for the hulking subsidized project that had real-people sized apartments and desperately needed residents.  As the area developed Washington Market became SoCa (South of Canal), but really hit its stride with the moniker Tribeca; and the ensuing gourmet restaurants, designer boutiques, lines of limos and film festival. It was literally Hollywood on the Hudson. Came the time, I could not go to Bubby’s on the corner for coffee without a hello to Robert Di Nero, John Kennedy or Lorraine Bracco, my neighbors.

    I came of age in the shadow of burned out shells, and litter strewn lots, the aftermath of insurrection aka “the riots”.  As a pre-pubescent aspirant to the middle-class, I wanted nothing more than to leave the gritty bleakness of the ghetto behind.  Hubby made that possible albeit with stops along the way in a ghetto of a different hue - Spanish Harlem (in the Young Lords' building) and a stint as sextons of a Lutheran church in Flatbush.  I’d made it all the way to the disco dotted, star cluttered streets of Tribeca and now I was back with head bowed on my original stomping ground.  It was a big adjustment returning to the place of my birth Brooklyn’s Bed-Stuy.  

    To be continued...

    *A real life, big time casting director


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  2. LIFE IS TOO SHORT TO BE AN ASSHOLE

    Wednesday, February 27, 2013


    By Helene "Me Gotta Go" Gresser 


    When I first tried to be “serious” about stand-up comedy, I took a comedy class with the wonderfully supportive comic Tommy Koenig http://tommykoenig.ning.com/ through Caroline’s comedy club. The class had a disparate range of oddballs that wanted to try comedy – mostly people who had regular jobs and had never performed onstage a day in their lives.  There was a Russian guy who could barely speak English enough to be understood. Several people were extremely shy. Most could write some mildly amusing material, but had no sense of timing, stage presence, or honesty in their bits. But I admired the hell out of their bravery, because no matter how many times I have been onstage in plays and musicals and public speaking events, nothing prepared me for the overwhelming terror of holding a microphone and trying to make people laugh for a few minutes. My stomach fills with terror-butterflies. My hand shakes with uncontrollable spasms. My voice pitches higher. I liken it to skydiving: standing at the edge of the open door, knowing you have to jump into thin air, knowing your parachute may not open and you will plummet for several minutes, knowing you will die, and there is not a thing you can do about it.

    Though I had some cockiness about my stage experience, I was scared to death to mount those stairs to the stage and try out my material in front of this class. I had lost my mojo during grad school, when I was stripped of all my “bad habits” and became incredibly self-conscious and uncertain that I had any talent at all for acting. Every posture, facial expression, extra pound, regional accent, character choice, gesture, all of what I thought I had as an asset or skill, was criticized and examined under an unforgiving microscope. My emotions were psychoanalyzed, my body betrayed me daily, and I could not memorize my lines fast enough. I was told I was undisciplined, unfocused, and fairly uninteresting as an actor. And I was. My dreams of being on Broadway were a joke, and I felt I was a fraud. Yet, I moved to NYC anyway, shaky and feeling stupid, and basically apologizing during every audition I attended, as if to say “I know I suck. Just let me get through this, and I will leave quickly and never bother you again.” I had performed comedy exactly twice in my life before I took the class with Tommy: each time for a nationwide comedy contest in college, in front of a crowd of hundreds of semi-drunk students who laughed at almost anything. I didn’t win, but loved the thrill. I guess I hoped I could try to rebuild my damaged ego by attempting the funny.

    I loved Tommy’s encouragement and words of wisdom. He was enthusiastic and gentle and told me I had great potential with my honest, original material and my natural ease onstage (despite my spastic hand shaking.) I had to learn to shape my act, and have endings to my bits, and keep practicing by going to open mics often to hone my craft. The advice I got from my other comedy mentors, the hilarious and incredibly supportive Jessica Kirson http://jessicakirson.com/  and wonderfully kind Gotham Comedy Club owner Chris Mazzilli http://gothamcomedyclub.com/page.cfm?id=67 was this: “You have to figure out what you want to do with your comedy. Do you want to be a stand-up, a comedy writer, a comedic actor, or what?”

    Of, course, I didn’t fucking know what I wanted to do. I still don’t. I just want it all, I guess.

    Today I read an email from Gotham’s Director of New Talent, Andy Engel, whom I’ve known since he was New Talent Director at Caroline’s. He posted a link to a site with words of wisdom/thoughts from my absolute favorite living comic, Louis CK. I fucking love Louis, and love his show “Louie.” He writes, directs, produces, edits (or co-edits), and stars in the brilliantly dark and funny series, and I admire him most for his unfailing honesty and fearlessness onstage and onscreen. My favorite comics, too many to list right now, are fearless and unapologetically revealing. And they work (or worked) on their craft doggedly, tirelessly, sacrificing financial security, commercial success, and a normal family life to tell their stories.  Darryl Hammond would work six exhausting days a week on Saturday Night Live, and I’d see him regularly on his ONE night off, Monday, at the Comedy Cellar in Greenwich Village, exercising his comedy muscles to keep himself sharp and relevant. I am in awe of the professional working comic, because it is a fucking GRIND to keep doing it, day after day, for shitty pay (when one is not a household “name,”) weeks or months or years on the road, and little to show for their sweat except the occasional Comedy Central appearance or Aruba tourism commercial.

    Read what Louis has to say, and watch the clips. Watch “Louie” on F/X or Netflix or Hulu or wherever you can download the show. Go see him live, of course. He has done something revolutionary lately: he has started offering tickets to his shows, or five dollar downloads of his specials, directly through his site https://buy.louisck.net/ , rather than having to pay Ticketmaster and have the scalpers scoop up the damn tickets and resell them at insane prices. He writes funny emails to his fans, and he is one hard-working honest motherfucker.

    Link to the Annotated Wisdom of Louis CK: http://splitsider.com/2013/02/the-annotated-wisdom-of-louis-c-k/

    And the clip from the site:

     

    In honor of Louis, I decided to be honest and finally (!!!) tell my guy I fucking loved him. It made my stomach stop flipping around in barf-circles and you know what? He said he loved me right back. Right then. It doesn’t mean the rules of our relationship have altered or that all will be rainbows and unicorns from now on. It means that life is fucking short; people should be told they are loved, and screw the rules. Screw the system of withholding for the sake of preserving some sort of pride or ego or preventing heartbreaking pain. It’s all bullshit. Just be fucking truthful when you want to share something of yourself. It will change your life. And it may change someone else’s perception that they are all alone in their weird world, and that feeling of “Hey, I am completely alone and no one gives a shit what I do or think” might just evaporate briefly and be replaced with a feeling of “Hey, someone fucking gets me.”

    And that, folks, is why I do what I do. It is scary as hell to be vulnerable and reveal your guts. But you get to fly out that airplane door, see the world from a wonderful new perspective, and have the thrill of your goddamn life, parachute be damned.

    And this final clip shows jumping out of that airplane door, with the parachute... well, you'll see...


    -hmg

     

     

     

     

     

     

     
     
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  3. For Adults Only

    Tuesday, February 26, 2013


    For Adults Only
    (& only the kind who can handle a frank talk on sexuality with a dash of humor)

     
    I have been feeling rather flattered lately.  Received many compliments on my photos. A few were from certain individual men who can at times make me tingle.  They now live far enough away that I can tingle safely.  Little chance of actual contact.  We are all so scared of having our hearts stomped on in one way or another... especially if earlier stompings are still interfering with free breathing.

    In spite of much, I have to continue to acknowledge my attraction to men.  It may or may not be the whole story, but it is real.  I sometimes question my heterosexuality.  I have wondered at times if I were raised in a free society where neither orientation is considered the right one or the wrong one, would I be bisexual.  Life isn't over, so who knows what lies ahead.

    In my senior year of high school, I joined a filmmaking group and turned out to be the only straight girl in the group.  I went to an all-girl high school where most of the gay girls were out, at least at school.  But, like in the larger world, the majority of students identified as heterosexual.  So it felt shocking to me to discover myself as the heterosexual minority of one in the filmmaking group.  I remember feeling weird the way I would if everyone had been Chinese or anything identifiably different, and for a moment, I wanted to leave.  In my head, it went something like, "If you leave now, it would be only because everyone is gay.  Is that okay with you?  No.  That's not a good reason to walk out when minutes ago you wanted to make a film about the school just like everyone else in this room.  If you leave for no other reason than they are gay, well that is what prejudice is.  And they get to make a film, and you don't."  So I stayed.

    We became friends.  They tolerated so many straight girl questions of mine and did their best to answer.  One of those girls is a woman I am still friends with now.  We don't see each other as often as we could I suppose.  But we are in touch, and it is heartfelt.  She and her love came to see me in a production of Vagina Monologues.  A whole bunch of us went out one night to see lesbian theatre in the South Bronx.  We have mutual admiration for each other.  When I told her how patient they were back in high school with my questions, I learned that they didn't see it that way at all.  They felt so good that a straight girl wanted to know them and didn't look down on them. They found me so open-minded.  When introducing me to other people at times back then, they'd say, "She's straight, but she's cool."  I have since of course had many gay friends, but that group was my first real experience.  So my world wasn't as closed as it might have been.  It has typically had people of many kinds in it.  Plus I live in the Bronx, New York which makes it conducive to having many different kinds of people in one's life, helping shape it.  Just ethnically speaking, over 20 languages are spoken in this borough.  It's a real opportunity to meet the world.  Anyway, this was the long scenic road to saying that back in high school, I was introduced to the songs of Lavender Jane (Alix Dobkin). This always remained in my mind somewhere.

     


     

    One of the men I was referring to earlier calls me from time to time to express something good-natured.  When he lived in the same city as I do, he seemed to want to run toward and away from me at the same time.  I may have felt the same. It was too close in emotional time to all the trauma of my own hell to feel normal. Not even sure what my normal is anymore.  On one of these calls, he knew I was going through something hard and he left me a message reminding me that I have a good soul and that I should have mercy on my soul.  His sentiment sounded so sincere, not clichĂ©d, and actually made me feel better.  It just reminded me that I have the power to let myself feel better much of the time.  And I did have an open heart to receive his words.  At times, I have rerun that message in my head just to help my shoulders go down and my breathing flow.  I wondered again why we didn't get together when we could have.  I am trusting God/the bigger picture/the universe that things went as they needed to for both of us.  He's with the woman he is supposed to be with probably.  They had years together and then were on a break (yes, like Ross and Rachel though Rachel didn't see it that way -- I was always with Ross on that one).  Starting with someone new can feel like work.  But I waver, going back and forth where I feel platonically toward him and where I don't.  In terms of dating, it didn't ever get off the ground.  I don't count a pizza after a poetry reading that we did not plan to meet at but happened to both go to as a date.  But in terms of beginning to get to know each other beyond the poetry readings, that did start.  And now though he's in another state, he seems to want to continue.  I seem to have trouble.  I think because my heart is open and tears so easily flow, and I can't stand the sad sack I can be.  Yet he seems to be the kind of man with whom I can feel safe.  He has experienced my anger and disappointment, my affection, my concern, accepted an apology from me that I needed to give, heard my prose, my poetry, and my comedy, and still says I’m awesome.  I get teary just re-reading what I wrote.

    In some ways, I have returned to some degree to where I was in my emotional growth before I got swallowed into a relationship that expired long before it actually ended.  I remember in my twenties wondering about me and the possible bisexual inside.  Back then, homosexuality was just getting off the mental illness list.  I was born into a very problematic (yet special) set of circumstances, and anything else that wasn't considered "normal" was going to tip the scale of what I could bear.  When I was 17½, my family (excluding my mother) disowned me for dating a black man and not lying or feeling ashamed about that.  It was awful and yet maybe necessary for me to have had a shot at life.  A former therapist and I once called it a disguised blessing.  Anyway, I cannot imagine that dating a woman would have gone over well.  But none of that was conscious at the time.  I was a product of the mindset that straight was normal and gay was abnormal.  So even when a girlfriend in eighth grade wanted me to teach her how to tongue-kiss, the best I was able to do was explain and draw diagrams.  

    My grandmother had gotten upset that I wasn't upset over attending an all-girl high school.  It was one of the better schools of my choices, and she knew that.  She wasn't sorry I was going there, but she was uncomfortable with my comfort.  I assured her I liked guys but not 9th through 12th-grade boys.  I had little tolerance for the immaturity.  I dated older males.  That wasn't thrilling to her either, understandably. Everything was layered with complication.

    Anyway, getting into what turned out to be a very long involvement (that turned into a marriage of sorts) and staying together beyond the point of it being healthy, stunted my inner growth.  So many things I used to wonder about have now returned to my consciousness.  Many things I used to want to do are in process.  Months after the separation, I got cast as the title role in "I Am Tricky Nicky" -- a very off Broadway play by Adam Samtur.  We were reviewed twice, and my performance was highlighted in both reviews.  So while I was enduring a terrible time in some ways, my teenage child getting used to go against me in a divorce and all sorts of emotional horror, blessings were present in other ways.  A long ago person found me, Blake, and that is another tender-hearted story, but the part that is relevant here is that he told me that the universe would not abandon me.  I held onto that tightly.  The mix of things taking place definitely felt like loved ones who had passed over were pitching in to help me along with people right here on Earth.

    Recently, a man who only knows me on line told me I was "ridiculously appealing."  I assumed that, based on other things he said with his male friends, that was his cleaned up choice of words.  It did feel good, I admit.  He's in another state too. First, I wished he was closer.  Then I was glad he was farther.  Oy.  In many ways he is ALL WRONG for me.  Red flags are flying.  I told God, "I get it.  I'm being given an opportunity to see what I've really learned about myself from past decisions and if I can apply it.  I get it, God."

    So how am I doing on my midterms you might wonder.  The miles help.  Yes, I need the help.  There is something very appealing about a high testosterone man.  It lasts for a short time.  If it goes on longer than it should, I feel zapped.  But when it's good, it's sexy.  He sent me this which probably expresses what I'm trying to better than I can.

                                       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ISFmWpexS5g

    That, to me, is one of the hottest, sexiest, most intense and beautiful 5 minutes on video.  But does she look happy!?  Yet that emotional turmoil and intensity is home to me.  It’s real and somewhat tortured and beautiful and passionate; nothing fake.  Exhausting though.

    Back to off-video real life.  He said he might be able to visit family in Brooklyn for a week this spring.  I said, "Hey! Get back!"  We laughed.  Days later, he spoke of that falling through and how he’d have no place to stay.  Hmmm.  I said nothing.

    I do like a man with balls, as I've said to friends in the past, but getting the size right on those balls -- that's the challenge.

    Some things may just have to remain fantasy for now or for forever or until the right level of alcohol changes that.                                                                                                                                                                              

                                     (Not me in the photo – just in my head do I look that fit.)
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  4. Didn't and Dids

    Monday, February 25, 2013

    By Samantha DeRose

    Some call it laziness*, I call it energy conservation.  Just doing my part.  You're welcome.





    Things that didn't happen over my winter break:
    1)  My short story(ies)
    2)  My novel(s)
    3)  Exotic Trip to Exotic Getaway
    4)  Clothing change
    5)  Papers graded
    6)  Children's book
    7)  New Material
    8)  The invention of a line of business attire made from the same material as my comfy bathrobe.
    9)  Proper diet
    10)  Exercise
    11) Taxes

    Things that did happen over my winter break:
    1)  Spent time with Friends (Words & Scramble)
    2)  Breaking Bad Seasons 1-4
    3)  Paul Williams Documentary
    4)  Read dozens of short stories written by others
    5) Depression and Jealousy (see 4)
    6)  Chinese food
    7)  Pizza (gluten free for me)
    8)  Identity Thief (this really would have been better on the "didn't happen" list)
    9)  Shoprite from Home (shopped online, delivered to my door)
    10)  Life of Pi (book)
    11)  Enlightened (HBO series) (see #7)


    *apathydilatoriness,
    do-nothingness, dormancy, dreaminess, drowsiness, 
    dullness,faineance, faineancy, heaviness, 
    idleness, inactivity, indolence, inertiainertness,
    lackadaisicalness, languidness, languorousness,
    laxness, leadenness, leisureliness,lethargy
    listlessness, neglectfulness, negligenceotioseness, 
    otiosity, passivity,remissness, slackness, sleepiness, 
    slothslothfulness, slowness, sluggishness, stolidity,
    supineness, tardiness, torpescence, torpidness, weariness



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  5. The atrocities of middle age....

    Saturday, February 23, 2013

    By Lisa Harmon

    Talking to my friends is a litany of ailments and disgust – it appears that the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple lose their appeal once your body starts turning against you.

    One friend complains all he does is go to work and come home over and over and over again. He fails to see the point in such an existence but it could be worse I guess...he could add housework and eyebrow tweezing but luckily for him those aren't a part of his boring relentless life.

    Housework and eyebrow tweezing seem to be mainly the domain of the women I know and what a bitch it all is. Tweezing eyebrows was a pain in the ass and is now near impossible with the rapidly dwindling sight of a person who has been staring at a computer screen for the last twenty years.

    In fact, even in the realm of the endless onslaught of bodily malfunctions and strange growths that happen to us formerly tight, gorgeous youths, the eyebrows have a horror that stands out – you haven't really been depressed till you get your first George Whipple eyebrow – you know the white one that is three times as long as all the nice black ones and its also curly. You know the one, you have to stand sideways in the mirror to see it and good luck getting your tweezers onto it. You know you have to look at it with your bad eye. Oh when does it end?

    And housework, well I don't have to tell you, ladies, that there is no more thankless and repetitive time waster than housework, except facebook. But facebook has cat pictures and no gross pee-pee smell.

    Another friend is always sick. He's not sure if he's sick or just old, a common complaint of mine. I don't want to run to the doctor every time I fart, on the other hand don't gas and angina feel exactly the same?

    When you're in you're twenties it doesn't matter how shitty you may feel – you realize statistically you're most likely going to survive. You tough it out, try to get some sleep, and in the morning, you feel great. In your forties it is perfectly acceptable and statistically plausible that you could be getting ready to kick. Confidence, out the window, replaced by fear. Fear of dying, fear of going to the hospital for a non-lethal illness and fear of then getting kicked off your insurance or worse, getting your husband pissed off at you.

    A couple of times I did end up in the ER and oh what a clusterfuck that place is! First of all the EMTs yell at you. WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU? DID YOU TAKE ANY DRUGS? HOW MANY FINGERS AM I HOLDING UP?

    Then they put their stretcher on our new coffee table that got delivered that afternoon! It was hilarious. I was half unconscious but I kept looking at my husband, and wondering if he would ask them to move the stretcher. He did! Hey, that coffee table was expensive!

    When I told them I needed a painkiller they said they don't do that. I said I'd take something from their personal stash. They were not amused.

    Middle age is a disaster that I don't think one can recover from. Everything is worse now, my vision, hearing, stamina, strength, and even mental acuity, which is the biggest slap in the face ever, akin to your first gray pube, which, let me tell you, is no picnic.

    What do you have left when your whole thing was your smarts? Now I can't remember a single thing. Not a thing I need to do, like strangle the cat, nor a thing I ate, like a box or two of Entenmann's donuts. Now I know how those aging beauties feel – you remember them from your 20's – the fading gorgeous ladies that came out of nowhere and pierced you with their sarcastic talons from the wrong side of forty. You didn't even know you were competing with them, and yet there they are, sitting between you and your special friend trying to be cute. But forty does not make you cute. Seventy makes you cute. Maybe.

    In fact, the last time I spoke to my seventeen year old niece, she said of my husband and me, “You guys are so cute!” I wanted to strangle her too but I didn't put it on the list, and I already mentioned, if it isn't on the list, it doesn't happen. That's all.

    But here's what will really turn your stomach – When my husband turned fifty my Mom remarked “Oh I'd kill to be fifty again!” I practically hyperventilated. Have you ever heard someone wish to be an age that you haven't even hit yet? It is shocking and horrible. And once you hear it, you can't un-hear it!

    I wish I had some words of wisdom to impart but I don't. I just had to share all the horrific stuff that's been going on! I'm glad I found out I'm not the only one feeling this way. Anyway, you know what they say about getting old, it sucks, but the alternative is worse.
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  6. Did you have a classmate who seemed out of place in elementary school?  Someone who should have been on a construction site or lifting crates at a dock, and not your Catholic school 8th   grade “reading buddy”?  My “reading buddy” megalith Edwina Preston*, wore a fringe of false hair tied around her near bald head.  Picture, if you will, a female Forest Whitaker as a brooding rogue monk.  

    I’ll admit that when I sat BESIDE my “reading buddy” I felt quietly smug about my excellent comprehension scores.  Dear Reader, know I was very quietly smug because the rest of the day, every day, I sat IN FRONT of Edwina Preston, who saw before her a ready target; its bull’s eye, literally at her fingertips.   


    We sat at wooden desks, their inkwells empty with the advent of the cartridge pen,
      
    soon to be eclipsed by the ball point. 
    I won’t say it was racism (could it have been alphabetical?) all the black students (three girls and three boys) in grade 8A were in the back two rows.  Last in my row Edwina Preston was just a dark blur in the peripheral vision of Sister John Capistrano**.  With an assist by her remote location, Edwina’s genius was the petty nature of her constant attacks.  A spit ball to the neck, a tug on my (Peter Pan collar) uniform blouse, or a quick kick to my shin once a week, could be an "accident" or overlooked.  But getting away with all three and more daily was just brilliant stealth harassment.  Of course Capistrano would only notice if I turned around to deliver my nemesis a retaliatory sneer or righteous scorn; my infrequent and laughingly ineffectual response to Edwina’s strikes against me.

    So as the wussy I was, I took Preston’s petty blows day after day, until this particular day Edwina discovered I offered an additional well hidden point of attack, my ass.  The open area between my seat and my seat back left just enough of my rear end exposed to present the perfect (hidden) target for the pointy end of Preston’s protractor.
                             
      After protracted protractor jabs, I raised my hand and asked Capistrano if I could speak with her.  

    In the hallway outside our classroom I explained the difficulty I was having and asked if I could change my seat.  Sister Capistrano’s response was, “What do you think this is a restaurant?”  As I walked back to my seat I don’t know who annoyed me more, Capistrano, Preston or myself for my impotence.  I sat down and immediately felt the point of Preston’s protractor. With no recourse, I was left annoyed, frustrated and pricked.  

    No help would be forthcoming from Sister Capistrano, whose default response to any and all situations was to torture everyone.  Like the time, red faced and teary eyed, she castigated, fulminated and then sentenced the entire class to an hour with our hands clasped behind our heads.  During lesson she uttered the heretofore unheard term “Slavs”.  To the oblivious ear, it sounded like slobs.  The whole class, in a spontaneous collective and innocent display of ignorance, burst into laughter.  To Sister Capistrano our pre-teen hilarity resounded like a venomous and personal ethnic slur.  Who knew?

    Edwina Preston my persistent in-class antagonist just happened to live directly across the street from me.  Somehow Edwina and I never crossed paths on Putnam Avenue, but clearly no good would come from goading that Forest Whitaker doppelgänger into switching her campaign of annoyance to the block.  I’m talking Vaseline on the face and razor blades hidden in the hair, down and dirty fighting.  Did I mention my advanced state of wussiness?  I did not even watch street fights.  At the first hint of neighborhood fisticuffs, I ran home and hid under an area rug.

    This is now, that was then.  Yes Dear Reader, I went to school during the last century.  What is the 2013 response to an annoying primary school classmate?  Kill her…  "These boys were not just bringing a gun to school and waving it around. This was a plan. They were going to carry out the plan that day, either at morning recess or lunch," Rasmussen told MSN News. Prosecutor: Fifth-grade boys plotted to kill ‘annoying’ girl.  It’s a new day and a new time.  Yes it’s all in the timing boys and girls. 


    *Close, but not her real name
    ** Her real name, what the heck!


     



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  7. DAMN, NOW I HAVE TO FIGURE OUT WHAT I WANT.

    Wednesday, February 20, 2013


    By Helene “I Want A Feast” Gresser



    In addition to my real estate day job, I have a great bartending gig on Sunday and Monday nights here in NYC. It’s just a short shift, easy because there are ten seats and it’s mostly wine and mixed drinks, very little side-work, no counting of receipts, the owners are wonderful to me, I get a free meal and drink, and I get paid for my credit card tips THAT NIGHT. Amazing. I also have great regulars. They tip well, like me, and usually keep me entertained. And sometimes I gain wisdom from their experiences.

    There is a lovely couple who sit at my bar almost every week, and they always order dinner and plenty of vino, and over-tip me every time. They are somewhat newly married, and seem to be a great match. She is smiling, open, smart, sweet, and funny; he is dead-pan hilarious in a corny way that I adore. I amuse them by doing my “funny jig” – for their eyes only – when I am outside smoking a sneaky ciggie on the sidewalk. I look ridiculous, and they watch me through the plate-glass window and laugh. The wife will beg me to do my jig every time. I wait for the sidewalk to be clear of pedestrians and delivery-men, and quickly make a complete ass of myself, solely for their reaction. I am a hopeless hack, but I have always been willing to be completely goofy to elicit a laugh, especially for these people. They are worth the potential embarrassment.

    I was struggling, as I continue to struggle, to come to grips with the present “uncommitted” relationship I am in. I have read “He’s Just Not That Into You,” and been told to follow “The Rules,” and have read countless blogs and advice columns and psychology articles regarding relationships and commitment and what women should  (Be fun! Play hard to get!) and shouldn’t do (Don’t call or text him too often! Don’t settle for scraps!) to manipulate/manage their love lives. It all seems so ridiculous and dishonest. I am nothing if not ridiculously honest. And I never learned to play games to “catch” a good man. My mother never instilled in me the need to be anything but my plain old romantically hopeless self. I had some wonderful, loving, open, mature men in my love life as a young woman, and I always thought it would be so. As I thought the well would never run dry of potential mates, I just carried on blithely, sure that when the time was right, I would settle down, marry, have two kids and live my life with my love right next to me. That has changed somewhat, as I think I am too old to start having children, but the basic thought that I’d find a partner in life has remained.

    I shared my angst with the married couple. The wife looked to her husband and said, “Do you have any advice from a man’s perspective?” He thought for a minute and suggested I make a list of Pros and Cons regarding the relationship. Then he said,” You have to figure out what you want.”

    Ah. THAT. My Achilles heel. What I want. What. the fuck. do I want?

    My meandering, indecisive, inconsistent life path has plagued me since I set foot in this blasted city, and here I am, getting grey hairs and crow’s feet and I still don’t know what the hell I want. Well, specifically, I don’t know how to clearly articulate what I want and then set a course that leads me there, or if not there, then steer myself closely enough to it that I might feel is some sense of accomplishment. Oh, I have written long lists of my wants in my journals, but then promptly forgot or buried the want in order to do what I thought I HAD to do to get by. The day-to-day overwhelms me, it seems. I get things done, sure. But living at subsistence level is not enough for me.

    Here’s what I want: I want to write and perform my own one-woman show, and have it be a success, and go on tour after a successful run on Broadway. I want a sunny, spacious apartment overlooking Central Park with a huge patio and housekeeper and cook and a beautiful beach house to escape to. I want enough money to provide my mother with a lovely home wherever she desires, and a pied-a-terre in the city for when she comes to visit, and give her the bankroll to have security in her golden years. I want to pay back all the friends and family who have lent me money and bought me dinner and drinks throughout these lean years, and always pick up the check in the future.

    And I want Love. Deep, reciprocal, abiding Love. I want company. I want to make coffee and share my day with someone who likes me as I am. Jigging, goofy, ridiculously honest me. Intense me. Sexual me. Impatient me. Scattered me. Scared me. Someone who opens their arms to me when I need comforting, even when I don’t ask for it. Someone who loves that I love him. Someone who checks in, listens, and talks about his dreams and fears in return. Someone who likes to lie in bed eating bagels and lox and reads the Sunday Times with me, sometimes reading aloud his favorite articles or quotes. A funny and fun guy who dances with me and brings me pink flowers just because. Someone who treats my parents with love and respect and understanding, and who loves and respects and understands his own family, quirks and all. A man who genuinely likes women, and particularly, strong, funny, sharp-witted ladies. A man who likes my friends, and has great friends himself. Strong and creative and curious and empathetic. That is what I want.

    I haven’t gotten close to my career and money ambitions, but I am making changes and have started to write more, perhaps finally getting to the point where I write my damn one-woman show. I am trying to be a more focused person, but a lifetime of bad habits is slow to break. I will endure, and keep trying. It’s what gets me up in the morning. I am forever competitive. I am hungry for more.

    And I have found someone who fits much of what I’ve been looking for. He is someone I admire and desire and who makes me laugh often. He is kind and creative and hardworking. He is affectionate and thoughtful and calls his parents daily. He asked me to his sister's house for both Thanksgiving and Christmas, and I met his parents. He bought me presents and cards for Christmas, my birthday and Valentine's Day, and spent those days with me. He brings me coffee just the way I like it when I spend the night at his place. He likes the books and videos I suggest. He holds my hand in public, and has introduced me to his friends. He has helped me move, and lets me store my boxes in his spare office space. He pays for dinner and drinks and ciggies. He makes me dinners. And breakfasts. He is a strong man. He is so sexually attractive to me that I have to restrain myself from jumping him 24/7. 

    I have been dating him for about seven months now. I am in love with him. We have not said "I love you" yet. Well, actually, he said "I love you, baby" the day after Valentine's, at precisely 2:45 p.m. as I was headed to the subway, and though it struck me hard that he said it, I do wonder if it was said rather accidentally, like one tells one's parents they love them before one ends a phone call. I did not say "I love you, too." I was holding my breath, ready to hug him hard and whisper it back to him.  But I hesitated, unsure if I would ruin the moment by pouncing on those longed-for words too hungrily. He knows I love him. And his actions tell me he cares very much about me, even if he is not in love with me. 

    And he loves his Freedom.

    He does not want a Girlfriend. Or more precisely, he does not want to have to commit to only being with me as far as sexual relations go. He wants me in his life, but does not want to be a Committed Boyfriend. At least, that is what I understand from what he tells me. He is honest, and always has been. He sleeps with other ladies sometimes. I am free to do the same, either men or ladies, he does not seem to care. We don't talk about specifics, except safety issues and the fact that I don't like to think of him with other ladies. I think he said he felt the same way, but also said he cannot ask me to be committed if he is not. We once spoke of what we would do if we happened upon one another if we were with another person on a date (of course, I brought it up, as I always the only one to bring up the "relationship issues.") It occurred because we ran into each another one night as a young man was walking me to my stop, and though the man was clearly interested in things going further, I bid him a kind farewell (he knew about my "relationship") and followed my guy to our regular bar, because he asked me if I wanted to join him, and I did. So there it is.

    We can’t always get what we want, but am I getting what I need? Does anyone get what they need? Maybe. I see some of my dearest friends and family in wonderful relationships. Is it always that way? No. It is work; difficult at times - exasperating, tiring, unsexy, and gross, trying, and compromising work. But if they come through the bad shit together, they are ready for the good times with their hands together, sharing something intimate and deep. They have trust. They have someone to drink coffee and fry bacon with. I want that shared bacon.

    That married couple from the bar has set some old, rusty wheels in motion. I may have to jig my silly jig a thousand times to get the gears greased, but I am willing to make a fool of myself if I can get close to what I really want.

    So I am figuring it all out, day by day. Am I being a doormat, or learning to be patient and adult and give the space my love needs to find his way? Am I hoping things will change, or content with the good company I have on occasion? Can I make it through the day, the days, without a check in phone call and still know that I am special to this man? Will the nauseating butterflies in my gut ever fly away, leaving me warm and happy and feeling fully loved? Am I asking for too much, or not enough? Fuck if I know. All I can do is keep jigging in front of that damn plate glass window, willing myself to keep up the dance and watch the people mutely laugh through the glass. It is who I am; a silly, silly girl in a woman’s body, waiting for my moment of bliss. I have my freedom to do as I please. 

    And I will. You betcha.




    -hmg




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  8. Body Art

    Tuesday, February 19, 2013


    Body Art

     
    On Saturday afternoon, I was stretching and crawling and searching and escaping and reaching and embracing and sliding all over a clean Brooklyn apartment floor in my jeans and a tank top with my hair long and loose while being photographed and videotaped.  It felt so free and fun in that creative way like when handed a big lump of clay to mold any way one wants.  I’m not trying to imply I have that kind of flexibility, but it was that free.  Unlike posing for the actual drawing, I didn’t need to hold any position for more than a second or two.  So the choices were many.  The artist told me to make shapes and do whatever I wanted.  She would not direct.  With clothes on, all kinds of leg lifting felt comfortable.  It reminded me of the safe comfort of being in those flannel footsie pajamas as a child.  She put on music.  I started to feel I was in a silent movie telling a dramatic tale with my body and face, but mostly my body.  I felt free to choreograph, which felt new to me and fun.    

                                                                                                                               
    On Valentine’s Day, I had found a posting on craigslist for a one-time gig.  An hour at most.  A female artist needing a clothed female model to photograph for reference shots.  Her process would be videotaped for possible inclusion in a show in March.  The payment was fair.  I applied with photos and a description.  She got back to me with a link to her site and wrote that she’d love to work with me.  She needed natural light which meant a daytime meeting.  We set a time for Saturday, she gave me good travel directions to her part of Brooklyn, and she included her number if needed.  I’m usually convinced that on craigslist, like anywhere, more folks are not murderers than are.  (Sex offenders – that’s another story.)


    In about a half hour, we were done.  I had crawled, rolled, writhed, and really stretched.  She had taken between 500 and 700 shots.  I had a unique and somewhat therapeutic experience, a combination of dramatic acting  and re-visiting toddlerhood.  She seemed very pleased with the shots.  That matters to me.  It never feels good to me if I don’t feel that I did a good job.  She handed me the payment for an hour’s work.  I now was able to put money on my metrocard, and I will get to payday.

    Leah Yerpe is having a solo show at Le Poisson Rouge in the Village on March 6th.  Drawings of me won’t be in this show as the work has already been selected.  I’d be honored if drawings of me are in a future show.  I like looking at her work.  I like the whole idea.  For those intrigued, below are her words and a sample of the work that will be exhibited.

    an exhibition by

    leah yerpe


    The Gallery at LPR, on March 6th 6:30 - 9:30pm. This solo exhibition features 12 new artworks, including 5 new pieces never previously exhibited.

    Stellify means to transform or be transformed into a star or constellation. Creation myths of nearly every ancient civilization include stories of humans transformed into constellations. My favorites are those in which a god, noticing one of our ancient ancestors fleeing some terrible danger, takes pity and saves them by placing among the stars. There is something simultaneously beautiful and terrifying about this concept. Much of my recent work was developed with these stories in mind.
                                There will be refreshments and an open bar serving alcohol, so we ask that guests be 21+.

    The Gallery at Le Poisson Rouge is located at 158 Bleecker Street, New York, NY 10012




    Sometimes, not only is the person not a murderer, but they are actually who they say they are.  And a collaboration of sorts can take place.

     
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