Aftershock

 

I’m not doing great, but I pray you are.

First and most importantly, regardless of how much time has passed, please know that I’ve never forgotten about you, about us, about all the places we’ve been together and the many places we’ve hoped to go. This post is titled “Aftershock” because that’s what one of my brain docs suggested I might be experiencing, medically, but, honestly, over the past 4 years and across all aspects of my life, my personal richter scale has been registering a sustained 9.0.

The next most important thing for you to know is that nobody thinks that any of the things wrong with me have anything to do with cancer, or are life threatening or even life shortening. It’s just stuff that makes you sick and less able, but it’s not stuff that makes you dead.

Another thing I want you to know, up front, is that overwhelm is very real for all of us and while I want you to know, and hopefully learn from and maybe even be inspired by what I’m going through, it would break what’s left of my heart to think the process of learning about it would burden you. I invite you to receive this information by mirroring my emotional and psychological pre-set. Word: I believe it’s entirely possible that my medical problems stem from not being able to use my body for over 3 years, and the life-imploding stress of that opened wide the death-hormone production valve in my brain that didn’t get shut off until friends stepped in, late 2019, to ensure my access to care. Consistent with this theory, this most recent uptick in symptoms is caused by my August – September hotel-homelessness when the prospect of finding housing seemed most dire. Now that I am so completely relieved to have housing, even though my space is not ideally appointed, my symptoms are abating and I believe my next brain mri (Dec 13, 2020) will confirm stable masses and my next cortisol tests (Jan 2021) will show normal levels. If you’re able to join me in that belief, you’ll be part of helping to soothe my psyche, to close my brain’s death-hormone valve and to help me get strong in my physical body again. And because of the way human brains conspire, you’ll receive what you give. Hallelujah, everybody – for me, for you, for all of us!

The story lines of my life the past couple of years – hip, brain, vision, loss of income – crisscross and blend and build, it’s impossible to talk about them separately and I know that makes them difficult to follow – I’m sorry about that.

Ready? I’m not sure I am.

Hip: After blowing out my left hip labrum in September 2016, I didn’t have insurance to cover a replacement, I couldn’t walk well enough to continue to travel to teach, my revenue dropped by over 80% for the next 3 years when I became too ill to work at all.

Brain: In addition to limited mobility and constant hip pain, my body started changing in 2017, I started feeling sick in 2018, and by the end of 2019 I was seriously ill – I had put on over 40 pounds of central obesity, my face had distorted to the point that I was unrecognizable, my skin had thinned such that the backs of my hands were broadly abraded by friction from fabric or upholstery and the frame of my eyeglasses opened the skin on my nose and above my ears, muscles in my limbs atrophied to the point I could encircle my thigh in the ring of my thumb-to-thumb-index-to-index, I had recurring cognitive problems, severe fatigue to the point where I slept for 14 – 16 hours at a time, some days not able to get out of bed or stop sobbing. I still didn’t have insurance but I sought care at the local public health clinic where, unfortunately, their mission to serve does not include diagnostic pursuit or treatment for the types of things that were wrong with me. As a result, I was without care and my symptoms continued to worsen until November 2019 when friends stepped in to literally save my life.

Financial saviors: Friends Neil & Jojo and John & Andry paid for me to have the preliminary tests and scans that confirmed the presence of a metabolically raging pituitary tumor. I wasn’t well enough to live alone anymore so they paid for me to move to Oregon where another friend offered to take me in. My friends paid for medical insurance coverage so I could finally receive surgeries and treatment, all of which has been at Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland. The Oregon housing offer proved to be not-well-intentioned and when it came to an untimely, unexpected end, it triggered a chain reaction of costly and health-compromising problems that I’m still convulsing through. When I had no other housing options, my friends paid for me to live in a hotel two different times for a total of over 2-1/2 months. They’ve paid for my unmet living expenses for over a year. Their help has been an extraordinary act of kindness and support, and one I’ll never be able to fully repay.

Most people think that getting care leads to getting better, but sometimes it’s not that simple.

Brain: My tumor went into “spontaneous remission” in February, the data suggests it can take up to a couple years for symptoms to completely reverse out of you but for me, it happened more quickly. By April my cortisol and ACTH levels had normalized, and by May the inflammation was gone and I was back to my normal weight. I looked like myself again too, my skin thickened right back up, and I began to build back muscle in my limbs. Unless symptoms returned, I wasn’t scheduled for a follow up until the end of this year. After being hotel-homeless August – September, symptoms returned in October – 10 pounds of inflammation came back, my face changed again, my skin thinned. A November 3rd mri revealed 2 new masses on my pituitary and a pineal cyst.

In case you don’t know it, our brains are the consistency of soft serve, so having masses in there isn’t like trying to close a walnut inside a book, it’s more like putting a cherry on top of whipped cream. Lots of folks have masses in their brains and don’t even know it.

I do not assume the new masses are symptomatic because my surgeon said symptom aftershocks can happen because past cortisol poisoning damages the entire brain, not just the part of it pumping out the hormones. That means symptoms can be caused from past high levels, not necessarily because levels are currently high or in the process of building back up. He said these aftershocks can last and recur for any length of time. Or only once and never again.

The story I’m telling myself is that this is an aftershock, that it will pass quickly and it will probably be all the way to never before I have another one. In the meantime, we’re watching the masses to chart any changes, I expect my brain mri on December 13th and my January 2021 cortisol saliva tests to come back showing stable masses and normal levels.

My cognition issues are episodic; catch me in a bad-brain-moment/day and I glitch, struggle with word-finding, go completely blank and resort to charades, but in a good-brain-moment/day my words flow without hesitation and I’ll sound like I did before all this started. I can tell when the transition is happening – sometimes in mid-conversation – and it’s weird as hell, it’s almost like I’m seeing my ability to organize my thoughts ride off into my mind’s distance. I’m also newly, severely dyslexic, writing or typing anything takes an excruciatingly long time.

Because not all of these changes can be reasonably attributed to the normal aging process, I’ve been referred to a cerebral cortex neurosurgeon for cognitive testing but that department was completely closed for 6 months due to covid so I’m at the bottom of a wait list that’s been building since the early summer. I believe these cognition episodes are linked to the stress I experience when I don’t have stable housing. Autonomy is a critical component of mental health, and I’ve had very little of it for several years running.

Hip: I was originally scheduled for hip replacement in April but the surgery got covid-pushed until June. The surgery went great and my recovery was well ahead of schedule when, eight days after the surgery and while on a therapy walk, I was charged by 2 large, snarling off leash dogs and in the process of running backward to get away from them, the implant sank about 1/2 inch into the shaft of my femur. That meant that there was now almost 1/2 inch of space between the new ceramic ball of my femur and the new ceramic socket in my pelvis – my brand new hip that I’d waited almost 4 years to get now clacked like billiard balls on the break. I had to wait another 5 weeks to recover enough from the first surgery (anterior approach) to have them (posterior approach) saw out the first implant and put in a new thicker and longer shaft, and a new socket.

I stayed awake for both surgeries, I watched most of the first one and all of the second one, I have my femur ball from surgery #1 in the freezer and I also have the original implant that was removed in surgery #2. After both surgeries, I managed my own at-home care. I made audio recordings, daily, of my post-surgical experience, and have captured 100% of the details pre- and post- surgery, all of which will be included in my “Total Hip” bundle which I do not yet have pulled together but hope to by mid-2021. I have all the contraindications of both anterior and posterior approaches, and virtually every provider has told me I’ve asked questions none of their other patients have. As a result of my background plus my injury and the delay in getting help, I definitely have a unique perspective on hip injuries and replacements, and I can’t wait to offer that perspective to you and through you, to your community.

As far as continuing care for my hip, I’m in physical therapy to try and balance out my strength which was extra skewed from 3 years and 9 months of limping and not being able to extend my left hip. We’re also working on rebuilding the strength I lost to the muscular atrophy of cortisol poisoning and we’re focusing on my balance which is tricky because of my left eye going wobbly. I’ll be in physical therapy until July 2021 which is when we’ll know if my joint capsule has healed to the point where I’m cleared of all movement restrictions.

Vision: I started losing muscular control of my left eye in November 2019, and when my left eye goes wandering it causes me to see super blurry and sometimes double. I’m being cared for by the kind of eye surgeons who can correct for the drift but I may not be a candidate for the surgery since I have histoplasmosis-caused retina damage (subfoveal) in my left eye that complicates their calculation for which muscles to cut. When I see double, the fix for it is to close my left eye, and I’m getting better at remembering to do that. The 2 specialists who are helping me with this – orthoptist and strabismus – have designed some vision exercises we hoped would supercharge my brain’s uptake of data through my left eye and thereby motivate greater muscular control of it. We were going to repeat in another couple months the measurement testing to figure out if the exercises are helping but unfortunately, the exercises began provoking double vision so, unless we come up with something else that doesn’t make me see double, I’m not able to do anything actively to try and save the placement of my left eye. I hate that.

My next eye doctor appointment is December 22nd, and to give you an idea of what I’m facing as far as medical expenses go, his fees are between $300 – $500, per eye, and neither my medical insurance nor medicaid covers his treatment. I believe 100% of my vision problems are from the normal progressive deterioration of my histoplasmosis damaged macula, and I don’t think there’s any brain mass contributory issues in play.

If and when the time comes that my left eye is so googly that it distracts me because it distracts you, I’ll patch it.

Housing: Finding housing during a pandemic is hard enough, but trying to find housing during a pandemic when you haven’t been well enough to work for a year is a whole other level of impossible.

I’ve moved 6 times in 7 months.

For 2 weeks before and for 4 weeks after hip surgery #1, I was hotel-homeless but, every day of those 6 weeks of hotel living, I scoured online listings for rentals and I finally found a landlord on craigslist who was willing to take a chance on me. He spent hours on the phone with my friends who assured him they’d cover my rent, so he approved me to rent for $1200 a month one of his 5th-wheels that he had on acreage outside Rainier, Oregon.

There was no hot water when I moved in, the electrical had been ripped out of half the trailer, I learned from the county that the entire trailer was against zoning and land use laws, the power and septic were unpermitted. What’s worse, the wiring was so unsafe that the county, citing a “life safety” issue and giving less than 2 hours notice, had the power shut off. Throughout all that, the landlord remained unconcerned and unresponsive.

You don’t really get an optimal outcome from a third attempt at fixing the same hip, so I was 100% compliant with post-surgical restrictions and I micromanaged my recovery from surgery #2. When the county shut off the power at the trailer, it was too soon after hip surgery #2 to risk a fall by staying there without lights, and I didn’t have anywhere else to go so my friends paid for me to move back into a hotel. I was still using a quad cane to walk and was still on lifting restrictions so I wasn’t able to take much with me from the trailer to the hotel. With the trailer dark and unoccupied, someone broke into it and stole a bunch of my things including my checkbooks and most of what I’d need to restart my life – my video camera and some of my other tech. They caught him, he had an arson 1 warrant pending – that’s school, church or someone home – and because of that arson 1 charge, he spent several weeks in jail before they covid-released him. Through the help of his girlfriend, I recovered some of what he took, including my video camera. Now that I’m completely unpacked in my new place, I’m discovering more missing things. I don’t think I’ll ever know for sure what all he took.

It was at about that point that my dear friend Trina Furgerson, acknowledging how utterly hopeless my circumstances had become, said she wanted to start a fundraiser for me. We asked for help from our other dear friends Jennifer Hildebrandt and Merianne Paul Haug, and, after working on it since September, the 3 of them together are responsible for launching my Go Fund Me. Regardless of how the fundraiser goes, I am so very grateful for their concern and their help in getting it launched, and my gratitude for any contributions is really just indescribable.

Current Housing: After the county pulled the electrical service to the trailer, I spent another month in a hotel, the whole time again searching for a landlord who would consider renting to me but this time, I found one who is full of integrity and grace and kindness. She’s from one of the founding families in Rainier and I’m living in one of her properties that is large enough to easily accommodate a teaching and production studio. The downside is it’s drafty, there’s no natural light and the bath and kitchen need work.

It’s the first stable housing I’ve had in over 2 years and it’s more spacious and historically gorgeous than anyplace I’ve ever lived – and I’ve lived a ton of places. Any home is better than no home, but that’s only one of the reasons I’m so thrilled to live here.

I was never a fancy person or someone who attached my personal happiness to wealth. I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for simply having a safe, quiet place to live, to be renting from a kind woman who sees beyond what I currently am to what I might be once I’m better, and, mostly, for my friends who have saved me by paying for me to live and get care. When I have a safe place to sleep and rest, it provides me with my best shot at recovering enough to be able to get back to work. And about work, I have extraordinary plans for what I hope to create as “work” in my future and, as I hope you agree, these challenging experiences provide extremely rich nutrients for the ways I’ll be able to help others in the future.

Having space large and private enough to create revenue producing work is one thing but I’m also an artist, and I can make any place or anything beautiful. I’m piecing together a gorgeousness right here in this enormous, cold, dark place. I’m doing this in honor of myself, my friends who’ve sustained me, and my landlady – Jan Oliva Moon – who has so graciously welcomed me and who loves my vision for the space. I’m claiming it all in service to those I seek to serve – you!

I’m in full renaissance mode. Most of my belongings sat in a wet barn in Astoria for 9 months and many of my soft goods were ruined. To illustrate how filthy and hostile the environment was, in my framed photos, there were dead bugs and mold between the glass and mat and print. I have had to take everything apart, clean everything and put it all back together again. There is no carry over, I assume nothing. I’ve had to begin completely again, and again, and again. And again. What remain as usable belongings are enough, are more than enough, and out of them will come immense value in ways I can’t even begin to understand.

Last thing on housing. Let me be clear, I’m not too proud to be unhoused; I’m immune-compromised and I’ve been too injured and too ill for too long to be unhoused without putting my health in seriously increased jeopardy.

About my Go Fund Me: In case you’re wondering, the fundraiser target is enough money to secure my access to medical care, cover the costs insurance doesn’t cover, and to secure my housing and housing related expenses for 2 – 2-1/2 years which is the length of time we anticipate it will take for me to fully rebuild myself, assuming no more serious setbacks. If there’s any left over, it goes to homeless shelters. It’s our hope that the Go Fund Me will establish autonomy for me until I’m well enough to re-establish it for myself. Like we used to do in my Seattle studio, I’m hoping that some of you consider hosting fundraising classes so that the joy, and burden, of helping someone financially can be shared even more widely.

Of course, there are prizes. Any donor of $1000 or more will be entered into a raffle where winners can choose anything they want from my educational archive, it’s full of hundreds of hours of educational and “turnkey” programming content that will spice up any teacher’s repertoire. There’s also a raffle for donors of $5000 or more, the prize is collaboration for a limited series, featuring the donor, on my streaming channel that I cannot wait to be well enough to launch. I know that’s nothing more than vaporware right now but please trust me when I promise you that my instability has proven to be rocket fuel for my creativity, ambition and passion. Let’s. Fucking. Go.

I’ll write again soon to share the words from some of my colleagues who I asked to support me by explaining directly to potential donors what I’ve done for them, my colleague, in the past. But something unexpected and quite lovely happened as a result of their written testimony. As a giver, it’s been my greatest humility to learn to receive – the fixer needs fixed – and while their words were intended to influence you, their words helped me get to the point where I could accept help without practicing self-recrimination for needing and receiving it. They helped me accept that I simply got hurt, then I simply got sick, then I simply couldn’t work. They helped me recognize the pure blessing of having the help of Neil & Jojo, John & Andry, and of anyone who is able to contribute, in any way, to securing my care and stability. When I recover from the effort of writing this, I’ll share with you what they had to say as a way to help remind you of how powerfully our acknowledgements of each other can help transform situational angst into emotionally -neutral acquiescence. For certain, what we say to and about each other has all kinds of crazy, stealth, positive power.

So that’s what’s been going on with me. I’d love to know what’s been going on with you and,  if there is anything that I can do to help you, I absolutely will.

Here’s how to reach me if you want to reconnect; 1-206-963-0755, [email protected], and my mailing address is Post Office Box 866, Rainier, OR 97048.

Lord God, Jesus Christ, Holy Spirit, all our angels, guides and all other benevolent deities whoever and wherever you are, help us all, help us now and help us help others. Prayers, blessings, virtual hugs and kisses all desperately wanted, appreciated and returned a thousand times over.

I love you.

Thank you.

Fundraiser: gf.me/u/zb2287

 

 

 

Aftershock

Destabilized? Love Your Way Through It

me-popa

My grandfather died a few days after he had surgery on some veins in his leg.  During the surgery, a blood clot formed when they tied off his femoral artery for more than 3 hours, and, while the surgery was technically successful, it took a few days for the blood clot to make its way through his system and hit his heart or lungs, or maybe his brain. We’ll never know exactly what the clot hit, only that it hit some vital organ causing powerful and grotesque convulsions followed by almost immediate death.

Popa died while Mom and I were visiting him in his hospital room, and we were all watching The Honeymooners on his hospital room TV.  Mom was sitting in a chair near his bed and I was laying to his right in the bed bedside him, I had my left arm around his neck and he was holding my right hand.  When Popa began convulsing, Mom wasn’t able to hold herself together so, as nurses rushed into the room to help Popa, some of them tended to Mom by getting her out of there.

Because of me being in the bed with him and because of the configuration of the bed in the room, I was trapped beside him as hospital nurses tried to revive him.   For about 20 minutes.

After I called off the efforts to resuscitate him, the nurses helped me escape his “death grip” on my right hand and wrist, and I dealt with some paperwork out at the nurse’s station.  I went to check on Mom who was in a room down the hall and, after being sedated, was asleep.

After that, there was nothing more to be done at the hospital.

Within about 30 minutes of Popa dying, I left the hospital and began to let down.  I sat in my car for a few minutes wondering what to do next..  It’s one of the most bizarre feelings ever and one I experienced again after the deaths of both Mom and Daddy – just a few minutes after someone you adore dies, you’re supposed to get on with the task of living without them.

Where am I supposed to go and who am I supposed to be with?

Mom’s indisposed, Daddy’s not an option because he just doesn’t do this type of emotion plus he’s at my parents’ home cooking which is what Italians do when someone dies, my sister was not at the hospital visiting Popa when he died – Mom and I were – and she’s riding this out with her family which I’m not part of.

I didn’t want to go back to my flat and be alone so I went to my friend Roseanne’s house, she and I worked together and we were close.

She was older than me by about 10 years, she was big, happy, beautiful, smart and she had a boyfriend who had a rubber fetish.  It was pretty common for her to come home from work and find him sitting on top of the dining room table which he would cover in a rubbery plastic table cloth, he’d be wearing rubber pants – the kind you’d wear for incontinence – and a plastic shower cap.   Arriving unannounced, I knew I ran the risk of interrupting something I’d spend the rest of my life trying to unsee, but I was undeterred.

I got to her place, knocked on the door, she answered and I just lost it.

I sputtered out the words to tell her that Popa had just died, I started sobbing and I just sort of fell into the front of her big beautiful body, throwing my arms around her and hanging off her, like I might not be able to stand up on my own anymore.

She stepped forward onto the stoop, backing me up a step or two.  She put her hands on my shoulders and moved me even farther back, and then she said . . .

We have company, you can’t stay.

Oh.  Okay.

So I left.

I sat in my car and here’s how I felt.

I’m alone in this and there isn’t anybody to help me.   I’m broken all the way down and I need and want help but help is not available so I’m going to have to manage this by myself. I’m going to have to pull myself together.

When I tried to think of what I for sure had that might help me feel like I could get through it, the only things I could come up with were my faith in myself, and my faith in God, and at the very bottom of my faith was love.

Essentially, my strategy for dealing with the immense grief of how I experienced my grandfather’s death was for me to love my way through it.  Love is what helped me start my car and safely drive it to my flat.  Love is what helped me get through losing Popa, what helped me deal with the graphic nature of seeing how he died and love is what helped me find a way to neutralize the way he last held me.

Were there other options?  Of course.

What’s the opposite of love?

Being angry wasn’t an option – I could never have produced enough rage to come close to expressing my devastation.

Could I have found someone else, anyone else, who would have ministered to me in that moment, who would have prioritized my needs over theirs?  Maybe.  But after the initial shock of Roseanne not being able to help, I realized it was tremendously unfair to blind side someone with such enormous emotion.  In that moment, I accepted that I couldn’t rely on others to help me offload that or any other trauma that might come my way so, really, when you think about it that way, what else is there but love?

In the 45+ years since Popa’s death supercharged my ability to love, when shit gets real I’ve never relied on anybody to help me and I’ve never expected access to assistance.

I’ve gone through surgeries alone, I’ve been really really sick alone, I’ve spent birthdays and holidays alone, and I’ve continued to lose loved ones and go through the aftermath alone.  I work alone.  I live alone.  I am alone.  But I’m full of love, and I love being alone.  See how that works?

And I’ve become quite practiced in applying the “love technique” across domains.

That’s the really cool thing about love – everybody wants it, everybody needs it, and every single situation you can imagine goes so much better with love, love, love.

Since Trump won, I’ve doubled down on love.

Here’s why.

Since Trump won, for the first time average Americans know first hand what it’s like to have a country powerfully emotionally divided.  Since Trump won, we all know and love a bunch of people who completely disagree about big, important, life-changing and world-changing issues.

Many of our friends feel destabilized by the disruption candidate winning and many of our friends feel destabilized by the disruption candidate disrupting – Hello Taiwan!   Many of our friends feel boastful about their candidate winning – “lock her up” “drain the swamp” and defensive about the relentless attacks on Trump that come from pretty much all directions.

Politics in America has become an angry emotional mess and with the holidays coming up, our normally high stress levels are red lining.

What’s the answer?  What’s the fix?  What’s the solution?  How do we cope?  How can we manage?

Love. Love. Love. Love.

Please join me in unabashed, unapologetic, undeniable love of everyone.

IT’S A BUMPERSTICKER!

bumper-sticker

If you’d like one, PayPal me $15 domestic/$20 international, provide your postal address and I’ll mail one to you.  My PayPal email address is [email protected]

Loving everybody is the answer, I promise.

I love you.

Destabilized? Love Your Way Through It

Jimmy, the Gay | Together Young, Together Old

becky-kissing-jimmy-by-david
Photo by David Gould

 

Since Thanksgiving Day, I’ve been in Seattle where I lived for 24 years and where I’m visiting my dearest friend, Jimmy.  If you’re familiar with the tv show Will & Grace, Jimmy’s Jack and I’m Karen, and you’ll understand why we refer to Jimmy as my Gay Husband, or “the Gay” for short.

In the late 1970’s Jimmy and I met in Florida, I left Florida to live in Bend, Oregon for 10 years before moving to Seattle and, although it took him a while to get around to it, almost 20 years ago, Jimmy followed me to Seattle and has lived here ever since.

It’s pretty crazy when somebody moves across the country to live near you.   It’s kind of a big responsibility, even though the City of Seattle definitely had my back, because Jimmy not only moved to Seattle to be near me, he moved into the same building I lived in so we essentially recreated the living arrangement we had in Saint Petersburg – neighbors/roommates/neighbors.

Even though I moved back to Saint Petersburg over 5 years ago, Jimmy’s not going to follow me again because he has MS, thank God it’s controlled and it’s not worsening, but if you know anything about MS, heat is the enemy and Florida is nothing but heat so while Jimmy occasionally visits in our “winter” – when highs are in the 80s – he stays put in cool, wet Seattle where his heat-related MS symptoms are a non-issue.

Back to how we met.

In the late 70s, Jimmy was my downstairs neighbor at Coquina Key Arms where I rented 222H and he rented 222A Pompano Drive SE.  Although we’d seen each other in our everyday comings and goings, we formally met one fateful night when I’d been out on the town and, through no fault of my own, I became separated from my pants,  and, in the driver’s seat of my pimped-out white Honda Civic, I’d made it all the way across town, cleared the scrutiny of the security guard at the entrance to my complex, had parked and was sneaking into the common entry hall of our building when Jimmy came out of his flat, saw me in my panties and with a single look, it was on.

He invited me in, I put on pants, we started drinking and we’ve pretty much never stopped.

Jimmy’s short term memory is for shit but he remembers everything from the way-back when we were young and, together, were ruling our world.

He remembers my mom and dad and since both my parents died a long time ago, that means more to me than I can say.

Jimmy and I travel the world together and when we do, we like to set up house and stay for a while.  We’ve rented flats in Venice, Florence and Paris.  Even though I prefer Italy, Jimmy prefers France, specifically Paris, and so much so that after he retires from Macy’s in less than 2 years, he’s going to live there full time.  For his next trip to Paris in April ’17, he’s rented the wheelhouse of a barge.  He can’t swim and I’m certain he won’t float.  Stay tuned for updates on that, m’kay?  I’ll catch up with Jimmy in Paris in April, his wheelhouse sleeps 2.

My life is full of loving friends and I’m grateful for every single one of them but there’s something unique about Jimmy that separates him from everybody else.  And it’s huge.

My whole deal about being alone, about being single, about never wanting a relationship, is because I’m never more interested in anybody else than I am my own interests and the pursuit of my own work.  I’m happier alone than I am with anyone, no matter who they are, no matter what we’re doing.

It’s me, it’s not you.  I orbit, I don’t dock.  And it doesn’t have anything to do with me not loving you or caring about you.  And although it sounds totally selfish, if you know anything about me, you’ll know I’m the opposite of selfish; I’m super generous.

It’s just that I’m a true loner.  I’m a true introvert.  No matter how much fun we’re having, being with other people slowly drains the plasma out of me and I have to recover in solitude.

I have to be alone to recover from not being alone.

Except.

When I’m with Jimmy, I feel like I’m alone.  And I love to be alone.  With Jimmy.

Photo by David Gould
Photo by David Gould
Jimmy Impersonating Leonard Cohen on the roof outside of Pink Door
Photo by David Gould

 

Our dear friend David Gould took these pictures of Jimmy and I yesterday after our extended, boozy lunch at Pink Door.  I’ve been in love with David for over 30 years, he’s an enormously talented artist and if you find him on Facebook, you’ll absolutely love the photography he shares there.  I promise.

 

 

 

Jimmy, the Gay | Together Young, Together Old

I’ll Take Kipnes

Sports psychology is fascinating.

From this New York Times article on the World Series match up between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians, we hear the Cub’s manager Joe Maddon talk about what’s on his mind, and the Indian’s 2nd baseman Jason Kipnes talk about how he feels being a Chicago native, playing for an opposing team in the sport’s ultimate competition.

“Cubs Manager Joe Maddon likened his drive to work, spent weaving around cars and pedestrians, to a video game.

“Thank God there’s not another round after this, I’ll say that,” Maddon said. “I’m ready for the family vacation. But it’s spectacular in all the best. Hyperbole definitely suits right now — whatever you want to throw out there, it really matches up to what’s going on right now.”

And now they threaten to provide another chapter of disappointment for the Cubs, breaking many hearts along the way.

“I love it.” Kipnis said. “Good. I hope I break all of them. I hope I break every single one of them. I hope I come home at Thanksgiving and the off-season, and I want to have a smile on my face when I look at all these Cubs fans.”

See the difference?

I’m not surprised that Cleveland is up 3 games to 1.

Are you?

 

I’ll Take Kipnes

I’m Next

Let’s talk about what I call the “presumed order of death.”

If everything goes really well and things follow the presumed order of death, our grandparents die first, then hopefully many, many, many years later, our parents die, and then hopefully many, many, many, many years later, we die.

Daddy died in 1993.

Mom died in 2008 – 8 years ago today.

I’m next.

mom-and-dad-hipsters

Here’s how I imagine Mom and Daddy in the great hereafter, their bodies young and perfect, restored to being the hipsters they were.

I know I’m next, but I also know that I’m still very much alive.

And on fire.

And in love with every moment of every day.

 

I miss Mom and Daddy but . . . I’ll be right along.

 

PS  The order of death is randomly jumbled, leaving us without a shred of certainty about anything other than how we manage ourselves in response to the complete randomness of everything including the death order.  Cheers!

 

 

I’m Next

Make It Your Own

If you teach Pilates, you live in Joe’s shadow, whether you teach like he did or not.

If you teach Pilates, you are advancing his legacy through your own work, whether you know anything about him or not.

Making someone else’s work you own is often difficult.  It’s so difficult that we don’t need to look beyond it to explain the rift in the Pilates industry between the hard line classical devotees who stay true to what they believe is Joe’s work, often without having a clue what they’re doing, and the modernists who have fused and made Joe’s work contemporary, often without having a clue what they’re doing.

 

Unless and until you, what I call, “bring the story of your life to your work”, you’ll be selling the commodity that is “the P word” and when that happens, your efforts to position and promote yourself will be competing against the efforts of studios with advertising budgets and/or square footage and/or equipment investments that are bigger than yours, and/or more established than yours, who have staffs of teachers with more experience than you/yours.

When that happens it’s really a shame because the thing that makes it so amazing for clients isn’t that you’re teaching whatever it is you’re teaching, it’s that they’re working with YOU.  

How do we know that it’s you, you, you at the very center of the client experience?  Your clients are completely free to go anywhere, to work with anyone, at any time.  You don’t own them, they’re not indebted to you, their not bound in any way to you.

They’re with you because of YOU!

 

There are other industries where creators step, in one way or another, aside giving their work over to others to interpret, to evolve, to be the starter for their own interpretation of the same thing.

There are other industries where “bringing the story of your life to your work” is on display, for all to see.

Paying attention to similar situations helps us get smarter about our own realities.

 

Read this.

kesha-article

Watch this.

 

kesha-performance

 

And then watch this.

 

bob-it-aint-me

Bob is absolutely a genius beyond measure and his interpretation of his own work is, without question, amazing.

But there’s no dispute about the power of Kesha’s interpretation of it.  And if you read the article on what Kesha’s been going through, you’ll absolutely hear in her rendition of “It Ain’t Me Babe” every bit of her pain, her hope, and the deepening of her gift.  Remember in the article how the author talked about her pauses?  Patience is hard to learn; Kesha’s performance of this piece let’s us know she’s learned it.

Kesha has a right to interpret Bob’s work, even with Bob still alive and performing it himself.

 

Joe’s dead.

You, and how you teach, and how you work are the only way for Joe to be relevant today.

Without you, and your next client, Joe’s work will be as dead as he is.

You have every right to Joe’s work – we all do.

You have every right to make it your own – we all do.

Then and only then will your unique talents, gifts and genius shine through.

Then and only then will you have brought the story of your life to your work.

 

Be like Kesha and boldly perform master work, even right in front of the master or his most judgmental legacy holders.

Be like Kesha and bravely make genius works your own.

If you don’t, the world won’t know you, and what you can do – and neither will your clients.

If you don’t, you’ll be the cover band of Pilates teachers.

The world doesn’t need more impersonators of Joe, the world needs YOU!

 

Joe got his chance.  Make sure you get yours.

 

Need help?  I’m right here.

Make It Your Own