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    Last week was an eventful week for me.  I had a bout of mental health* that weekend.  Had a good comedy set where I actually enjoyed it while doing it.  (I often don’t enjoy it until it is over.)
    I finished a book I was reading.  The last ten pages can take me as long as the rest of the book because I don’t like saying goodbye.

    A comic, who I have been consistently supportive of, felt the need to attempt to make me a target from the stage.  Once it all sunk in, it saddened me.  I had acknowledged to myself long ago that we were different, our comedy different as well.  I didn’t think we had to be the same.  I had made room inside of me for where we are each at in our life’s journey.  Well, apparently, that acceptance isn’t mutual.  In many circles, “different” is not taken as an opportunity to see beyond one’s own experience but still means “traitor” and “she’s not like us so let’s pick on her.” 
    I know it is more a reflection of what my existence triggers for this person about their own self than it is anything I’ve done, but still it is a let-down, especially because I’ve been more a voice of be all you can while this person needed to be the voice of if you insist on speaking your mind, people aren’t going to be your friend.  Well I have a mind, and only I can speak it.  The status quo is already well represented.  Why bother taking the stage if I have nothing unique to offer?  My friends love the way I am.  It’s part of why the friendship exists.  One often says he counts on the artists to move humanity forward.  I wondered if this comic would’ve told Richard Pryor, “If you keep calling the bigots out on their racism, they aren’t going to like you.”  A poem by Pat Parker (may she rest in peace) came to mind.  These are the last lines of a verse of Pit Stop as it appeared in 1973: 
    SISTER! your foot’s smaller,
    but it’s still on my neck.

    Went to one of my favorite poetry readings but didn’t bring a poem to share at the open mic portion of the evening.  Tried to write one on the train about what happened in the comedy arena, but only got halfway through by the time my trip was over.  So it is possible the poetry people felt snubbed though that was not at all my intention.  Though I didn’t read, I like to listen. 

    A poet asked me to collaborate on a chapbook of poems relating to the Bronx.  I have some written, some have been cooking in my head, and I’m glad to have a focus for them now.  I think the other poet is quite good.  His poems recall his grandmother’s in the Bronx during his childhood.  I am a very irregular attender at the poetry workshop I know him from (due to job schedule) which could’ve put me on the outskirts in that group, but their tendency is to reel me in and not push me away. 
    I decluttered my desk at work for hours and hours over several days in hopes of leaving a clear desk before starting vacation (not going anywhere, but don’t have to go to work either).  Found so many interesting things, threw out much, filed stuff, but didn’t quite complete the task.  However, I made major improvement.  Now I must do that in my apartment as well.
    I went to see a comedy show with some folks in it who I like.  I sat up front and did not regret it at any moment.  All were mature male comics.  Mature men (not synonymous with aged) are a favorite group of mine.  Afterwards, I spoke with one of the men who is a friend (not only a comic I like to hear).  Without mentioning names, I shared the situation that had been feeling bad.  He looked furious that I should be feeling bad over other people reacting to their insecurities by wanting me to make myself smaller.  By the time we hugged goodbye, I felt I had been given an antidote, even a dose of what it must feel like to receive paternal love.  I told him, “You make me feel like I should be more of me and not less of me.”  He said, “That’s right.  That’s the way it should be.”

    On the train ride back to the Bronx, I finished the first draft of that poem I had started.
    When I got home, there was a message on Facebook from someone I don’t know.  It was a picture of an erect penis getting licked at the base by a young woman.  After the initial wave of nausea, I read what he wrote.  It was like junior high school for older folks who didn’t manage to emotionally develop much past puberty.  He was offering me penis and told me it was white and how long it was.  Who said men don’t court and romance women anymore?
    By rainy Thursday, I started feeling like I could get sick.  I didn’t want that to happen, so I cancelled a planning meeting with two other comics with whom I was working on a project. 
    A mouse appeared in my foyer by my livingroom.  My dog is hard of hearing now and didn’t even realize the mouse was near him.  It took a lot of self-control not to scream and stomp.  I didn’t want to freak out my dog.  The next day, my buddy set traps and eased my anxiety.
    Friday morning, one of the comics backed out of the project (at least for now due to other situations in her life that really had to take priority).  I was to be on a cable program Friday morning promoting our project for the fall, but adjustments were made so I was able to talk about it as something still in the planning stages.

    I have been having trouble getting to sleep early and getting up early now that I’m not teaching.  I was worried about rising to the occasion on Friday morning, but I did, and then I worried about not having enough to talk about during the interview especially with the changes.  But I worried for nothing.  The host, Rhina Valentin,
    made it easy.  We talked about things I had no intention of talking about.  It got prompted by the pronunciation of my last name.  That has been a conversation piece since kindergarten.  There was no Matijasevic in the phone book back then.  I have always, since before I was born, been in circumstances considered “different.”  As an adult, I am blessed with being able to experience “different” as a good thing – a breeze of fresh air, a poem, a truth-teller, a genuine human being. 


    *”a bout of mental health” is a phrase coined by Bob Cohen, my best friend and maybe the funniest person I know.




  2. 3 comments:

    1. Unknown said...

      Well, life, eh? I often think it more interesting than the alternative. Like Peggy Lee sings: Is that all there is? If that's all there is, my friend then lets keep dancing. Lets break out the booze and have a ball . . ."

    2. RHC said...

      Yes, the planning stage always is. I'm so glad you had a great time on the show.

    3. Thank you both. Richard, it sounds like you might've already broke out the booze. :-) Rhonda, it all worked out fine on Bronxnet's OPEN. I wish I wasn't such a nervous person before something like that, but once it gets going, I'm fine. The nervousness gets channeled. For some reason(s), I received most of the comments directly to my email this time. One guy assured me the penis wasn't Weiner's. LOL Two were high school friends, and offered to take me out to lunch. We are making plans. I love the nice surprises in life.

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