Tuesday, February 13, 2024

I'll Need Practice

I've been writing for an hour now.  I've deleted it all.  Twice.  I'm like a baseball player or a tennis player or a golfer who hasn't been practicing.  I keep swinging but I can't seem to hit the ball.  I've become that occasional duffer.  I have words but the narrative thinking seems rusty, retarded by disuse.  I'm dismayed.  

But I needed to take a break.  I was becoming neurotic and depressed, and there were many things coming up I just didn't want to write my way through.  So I took to The Bat Cave.  I think, however, that I am coming back too soon.  I would have liked to avoid Valentine's Day, too.  

But I haven't been sleeping.  I wake most mornings somewhere around four.  That was the case today.  What does one do in the dark if one isn't writing?  You can't make pictures, and the daily news isn't quite out yet.  One has a strong desire to confess when it's dark.  

So. . . what has happened while I've been away.  That's the question I want to answer.  Or maybe it's the question I want answers to.  I've not created the narrative, though.  Let's explore.  

I ate badly.  Hot dogs.  Chips.  Take out fast food sandwiches.  Coca-cola.  Chocolates, cookies, ice creams, and cake.  

I went to the liquor store for the first time in six or seven weeks.  I was buying whiskey.  Scotch whiskey.  WTF?!!!  What happened while I was away?  The price had gone way up!  

I would have to quit drinking scotch.  Maybe I'd go back to cheap rum as in my days of sailing and youth.  

I bought the scotch.  

I watched t.v.  I rewatched "The Long Goodbye" and "Swingers."  

I slept poorly. 

I took my camera into the streets.  I have gone mad for that cheap plastic lens on my old Canon camera.  Everything looks like a picture again.  Something changed.  The camera no longer felt like a foreign object.  It was like an organic extension of my hand.  People were intrigued. 

"What kind of camera is that?  It's cool."

One day as I walked early morning on a semi-deserted street in Gotham, a family walking toward me began to speak.  I didn't understand what they were saying and I responded in some guttural way that might have unconsciously been mimicking what I heard.  They all smiled in anticipation, formed a semi-circle around me, and began talking again.  Oh.  They were foreign.  I stood still and grinned like an idiot looking back into those expectant eyes.  Then the leader of the group spoke to me in English.  

"Are you. . . ."  He said a name I didn't know.  


The family began to look disappointed but were still smiling, if a bit weakly.  

"You look just like a famous Latvian star," the man said.  

"I sure hope he is famous for being handsome," I joked.  

I wished them a good day.  

Later, at the gym, a woman I have seen there for years approached me.  She is an actress you wouldn't know unless you watch The Hallmark Chanel, I think, but I'm not sure.  People in the gym treat her as a celebrity, and that is the only way I know what I know about her.  She never speaks to me and doesn't seem to like to look my way.  This day, however, she walked up to me and said, "I think I have finally figured out who you are.  Is your name Tom?"

"No," I said.  She began scrolling on her phone.  She pulled up a photo and showed it to me.  I laughed.  

"Oh. . . that's very flattering.  I know Tom.  We've bee friends for years."

"I don't really know him.  I mean, we run in the same circles, you know. . . being in the same business. . . but I don't really see him. . . ."

Twice in the same day, I'd been confused for other people.  Famous people.  

That day was my birthday.  I wanted to avoid it.  I had received two birthday cards that week, one from the attorneys who took care of my legal woes after I got run over, the other from "Bradley's," a bar in Palm Beach.  They have sent me a free drink card every year now since the '90s when it was still in its original speak easy location.  Not so many others remember any more.  I mean, I used to get one from a car dealership, too.  

I got a text from Sky.  She sent an audio recording in which she tried to sing "Happy Birthday" with a sore throat.  So there was that.  Five women I worked with at the factory sent birthday wishes, too.  Three of them do not work there anymore.  

Was I miffed about it?  Had I wanted to be a martyr?  Didn't I want to be totally shunned and forgotten?  Either that or for the entire world to stand still. One was a lot easier than the other.  

My mother wanted to cook me dinner.  We cook dinners all the time.  I didn't want to do that.  I told her it wasn't important, that I would stop by and see her as usual.  She wasn't having it, though.  O.K. I said.  We can have lunch at the Olive Garden.  That lasted most of the day.  My mother and cousin came back to my house afterwards.  I guess it felt somehow mandatory that they sit with me on "my special day."  It was fair torture.  I poured a deep whiskey.  My mother gave me a card and cash.  It was a pretty sun  Hmm.  Maybe I would spend it on getting younger.  

I had intended to be out of town, but the liars at the Weather Chanel had talked me out of it.  They were wrong, of course.  The days were magnificent.  I should have gone.  

A package arrived.  Sweet things.  Someone brought me flowers.  

Darkness came.  The day was done, at least in that way.  I had gotten through it.  

I remembered a birthday long, long ago.  I had worked all day and that night I was teaching a class at a satellite campus in a strip mall.  I was alone that year and was going home to dog.  Not even my mother had remembers my birthday.  As I walked to my car in the dark parking lot, a woman approached me with a big bouquet.  She was a former student from a few years before.  I felt disoriented.  She looked a bit nervous when she smiled and handed the flowers to me.  

"I remembered that today was your birthday," she said.  I was dizzy with it.  How could she. . . ?

"Thank you," I said.  "I am overwhelmed."

She said some nice things before she turned for her car.  That is one of the few birthdays I remember.  

Every day, I was making pictures.  I would sit at the computer for hours trying to get a vision.  Photographs are taken and then they are made.  In the old days, prints were manipulated in the darkroom.  Today they are worked in the computer.  Like my old Polaroid thing, though, I wanted a signature look.  

Everything was coming out noir.  I was turning the city into Gotham.  The vision, I thought, was dark and delicious and beautiful.  I shall stopper my ears to the critics, I thought.  I will keep working.  

Sunday was the Super Bowl.  I would have to watch it, I thought.  It was a mistake.  They played football for 75 minutes.  The broadcast took over 240.  The NFL is not a sports company.  It sells the idea of a sport, but it is a business, and crass commercialism has taken over the game.  I watched the whole thing, but when I went to bed, I didn't sleep.  I woke far too early in the morning and felt like shit all day.  I had been poisoned by commercials, I thought.  I didn't understand most of them.  What were they advertising?  One seemed to be advertising mullet haircut.  Another made fun of people who play pickle ball as being feeble.  There were lots of celebrities.  Celebrity rules.  I think it fucked up my commercial-free brain.  

Someone texted me that the halftime show was good.  Usher.  This was my first exposure to him.  

"Were I 13 and gender confused, this would be the music I would listen to," I replied.  

I don't think I'll watch another Super Bowl.  

I slept most of Monday away.  I am a hermit.  I cancelled out on meeting the kid from L.A. who is in town for a few more days saying I would see him when he comes back.  I cancelled a photoshoot with a woman.  I just couldn't deal right now.  I don't think I want to get back into that again.  I have projects in mind, especially suited to my new treatments.  I was supposed to shoot a burlesque show.  I thought it was Monday, but it was on Sunday during the Super Bowl.  I cancelled that, too.  It was a mistake.  I should have gone.  

Maybe I'll walk into a boxing gym today with my camera.  

"Hey, buddy. . . can I take your picture?"

"Get the fuck outta here, faggot!"

I thought I would be better with a few days off.  It doesn't seem, though, as if I'm much improved. Quite the opposite, really. 

I'm going back to bed now.  At least there is that.  

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