Thursday, March 31, 2005




Originally uploaded by madabandon.
I took a short nap today. That is the second time this week. Tuna was lying next to me, making little snorting noises while he slept.

25th Street looking east

25th Street looking east
Originally uploaded by madabandon.
The scene of the crime


I must struggle to keep my equilibrium. In the subway, listening to my iPod, to my horror I began to cry. Luckily it was not crowded and I think I did not make a spectacle of myself. I was listening to "Cold Morning Light" by Todd Rundgren, my homeboy.

I believe if I was all alone
I would be better off in a world my own
I'd forget I ever knew of you
and this dream every night that you put me through
we walk along a Hollywood sea
and you dance once again with me.

We are close, we are friends
and our love never ends
but in the cold morning light I see
that you won't be back for me.



Question Me


If you asked me
“Who is your inner child?”
I would smile, because
I don’t believe that question.
There is no inner as there is
no outer. But next

I would tell you that I
remember when each sun was
a smile and when hours would
pass as I drew in ink on white
paper so many faces, animals
and situations that would engulf
me completely so that time means
nothing. I would tell you that

I could swim all day, do one
thousand flip turns in a row
without a clock to show me that
time passes no matter. I would
say that I might lie on my back
in the cool warm grass while the
dogs licked my face and I giggled

until my belly ached. That there
is no first nor last. That I remember when
some days the sky was grey and clouds
dropped cold rain on me in my blue raincoat
and my eyes were heavy and in my chest
a stone and my head would pound. But those
times were romance and how noble I was
to suffer them. That is my answer.

And there is more: there are poems,
there is light. There are birds;
I play Bach on the piano.
There are arms and words.
There is sleep and there is running.
And my heart beats steady a rhythm
that began the moment I was born.

mind over matter?

I don't think "mind over matter" applies in this case. I can say to myself "don't get depressed. don't get depressed." But that would be mind over mind. And that does not seem to work. Maybe I can figure out "body over mind" and somehow get my body to control my brain, and maybe then I won't keep sinking, as I am now, into depression. I don't know if it will work. I feel the cut of sadness and I feel the rise of blackness and I am on the verge of tears at every moment. Sleep is the only thing that is bearable, and I can't sleep anymore. My body won't let me. My legs ache and my chest feels tight and there is a lump in my throat and I can't eat. I trust nothing. Soon I will trust no one and I am afraid of that. I would think that, after so many years, I would have a thick enough skin that I would not let someone cut me so deeply. But I don't have that skin. Mine is delicate, more a veil, burning.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005


All I did today, after writing earlier, was sleep. A dreamless sleep. And when I would wake up, I would take another pill so that I could sleep more. I did not eat. I did have to drag myself out to walk Mabel a few times, but I wore my darkest sunglasses and did not talk to anyone. I feel drained and numb from sadness. Sometimes I feel that life sucks so supremely that I wonder why I bother trying.


I wrote a post about the argument that Y. and I had last evening, one that I still don't really understand, but that left him angry and me confused and frustrated and sad. But somehow the post disappeared, so I will not attempt to recreate it.

But prior to the argument we attended a benefit art show and sale for the Drug Policy Alliance at Cheim & Read Gallery in Chelsea. The show was interesting: works by Clemente, Nan Goldin, Larry Clark, Kara Walker, Yayoi Kusama, Nara, Jenny Holzer, among others. I met Sean Lennon, who performed. I saw old friends and met other interesting artists. It was fun, at least until the end, when Y. got so mad at me that he stormed off and disappeared for hours, leaving me in a state of worry and despair. Oh well. I wonder if any relationship is worth the agony that these situations create for me.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005


Lately the NEW YORKER seems to be aiming its poetry at me:


You want to cry aloud for your
mistakes. But to tell the truth the world
doesn't need any more of that sound.

So if you're going to do it and can't
stop yourself, if your pretty mouth can't
hold it in, at least go by yourself across

the forty fields and the forty dark inclines
of rocks and water to the place where
the falls are flinging out their white sheets

like crazy, and there is a cave behind all that
jubilation and water fun and you can
stand there, under it, and roar all you

want and nothing will be disturbed; you can
drip with despair all afternoon and still,
on a green branch, its wings just lightly touched

by the passing foil of the water, the thrush,
puffing out its spotted breast, will sing
of the perfect, stone-hard beauty of everything.


Dear Jonathan,
Here is your horoscope
for Tuesday, March 29:

You might have been able to restrain yourself from verbally flying off the handle yesterday, but that probably won't work now. Better hide somewhere -- far away from communication devices -- if you're trying to be nice.

turning Japanese

Yoshi speaks to Mabel in Japanese. I don't understand much Japanese. It appears that Mabel does. I generally have a facility with languages, but Japanese is more difficult for me than French and German, both of which I understand and read reasonably well with the help of a dictionary. Of course, if I were a more diligent student, my Japanese would be better. Yoshi gets frustrated with me; because his English is so good, I take it for granted and sometimes forget that he cannot express himself fully. But Mabel understands him when he speaks to her in Japanese. Maybe she can convey his thoughts to me.


I had such a bizarre dream last night. Perspective was so twisted; I could not tell if I was an observer, or if the main character, a young-ish guy living in a small town, was actually me. At one point this character was driving a pick-up truck past a rapidly-shifting landscape, partly suburban, partly highway, partly small town; then he/I was taking dancing and acting lessons in a shabby living room with a black-haired man with a strange curled mustache and cape. The overall mood of the dream was tense. I think it must relate to the upcoming interview and the turmoil I have been in about this potential teaching position. I am so torn about what to do. I really don't have a desire to leave NYC, even if I would not truly be leaving. As I was walking around on Sunday, through my neighborhood, I realized how much I love living here and how it is the fulfillment, in a sense, of a dream I have had since I was a boy. So to leave it: what would that mean?


Monday, March 28, 2005

blue day

Strangely, I slept for almost three hours in midday. Since I woke up, I have felt like a zombie.


list number two

I started to write a list to balance the earlier one, a list of positive qualities, but then reading it, I was disgusted. It seemed like something out of one of those bad self-help books which tell you to look in the mirror at yourself while repeating "I am a good person...I am a good person...I am a good person..." So I erased it.


Originally uploaded by madabandon.
A little color for a dreary day.


I have such a headache. It started last night. My headaches seem to be a reaction to low pressure systems; when it gets cloudy and humid and rainy, that is when I get them.


sleepy (after Théo)

The only people who shouldn't be napping are those losing sleep from insomnia or depression. Napping can worsen these conditions.

I read this on the CNN website. Yesterday I wanted to take a nap, but I didn't. Napping is usually impossible for me; normally I can't sleep in the day, and I have enough difficulty sleeping at night that I don't want to mess around.

Last evening Nani and Mateo came for dinner. I wanted to make lamb and asparagus (Easter dinner for this non-Christian gathering) but was not able to find suitable ingredients, having waited too long to go to the grocery store. So I roasted a chicken and made garlic mashed potatoes and kale and Yoshi made this amazing dessert, little orange cakes. It was fun, and Mabel entertained us all. But by eleven o'clock I was so tired I could barely move. So I slept all night, only waking once, which is highly unusual for me. This is the week of spring break so I don't have to teach, and the rain today will make it a good lazy day. I should take advantage, since the rest of the week looks rather busy.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

list number one

I take things too seriously.
I am overly sensitive to imagined slights.
I worry about things I cannot control.
I don't plan for the future.
I am a pessimist most of the time.
I avoid social engagements.
I forget things.
I drive too fast.
I let my desk get so cluttered that it distracts me.
I am overly critical.
I procrastinate.

lost, continued

I just discovered, while paying for my groceries at Key Food, that I lost my ATM card. I left it in the machine at the bank yesterday. It is one of the machines that swallows your card and then spits it back out when you have finished your transactions, unlike the ones I am used to, the ones where you just dip your card and remove it immediately. So I forgot to take the card when the machine spit it back at me. Of course, when I realized it was lost, I freaked, and had to call the bank and have the card canceled. Luckily, no one had used it. What is happening to me? I keep losing things. Must mean that I am losing "it." Or I am preoccupied and therefore more spacey than usual.

don't leave NYC

Last evening we drove, my brother, Yoshi and I, to Pennsylvania to have a birthday dinner for my sister, her husband, and my father and stepmother at a restaurant in New Hope. We had fun; my sister looked beautiful, glowing, and somewhat glittering with "bling bling." We had a fun time, but I have learned that if you really want to have good food, don't leave NYC. The restaurant, quite upscale by Pennsylvania standards, was expensive and expansive, but the food was not really good. My brother drank a lot and so I had to drive his car home. I was very tired driving, and there were times when I thought I was going to fall asleep at the wheel, but luckily Yoshi kept talking to keep me awake.

Saturday, March 26, 2005


Originally uploaded by madabandon.
Today while walking Mabel, she attracted more admirers than ever. The sun was shining, and a record number of people stopped, many of them losing their dignified demeanor to make funny noises and ooh and ah over her cuteness. It is true that she is perhaps the cutest dog I have ever seen, and I would think that even if she weren't my dog. They say dogs resemble their owners, but I know for sure that I am not fluffy and cute and smiling and bouncy.


Walk Mabel
Go back to sleep
Walk Mabel again
Drink coffee
Take a shower
Search for lost metrocard, don't find it
Walk to A train at High Street
Go to the bank with Yoshi
Gray's Papaya: Recession special, $1.95
Walk to East Village
Go to Kiehl's to buy eye cream so I look less haggard
Meet Marc
Walk to 9th Street to buy a gift for my sister
Walk to 8th Street subway
Take R train to Brooklyn Heights
Go to Key Food to buy cat litter
Go home, drink more coffee; Yoshi cleans (he is obsessed)
Get ready to drive to PA for birthday dinner for Eve


I lost my metrocard. It is not the money; it only had $12 on it. But I hate when I lose things, because it makes me feel like I am losing my mind. I know I had it when I left Park Slope, otherwise I could not have taken the subway home. But this morning, when I looked for it so that I could go to the village to buy my sister a birthday present, it was nowhere to be found. And so I become half-crazed, looking everywhere to find it, when I should just let go.


I realize, reading my blog, that it might give the impression that I feel sorry for myself. I do not. I just try to understand.


Théo posted this on his blog last night:

Surtout, ne croyez pas vos amis, quand ils vous demanderont d'être sincère avec eux. Ils espèrent seulement que vous les entretiendrez dans la bonne idée qu'ils ont d'eux-mêmes, en les fournissant d'une certitude supplémentaire qu'ils puiseront dans votre promesse de sincérité. Comment la sincérité serait-elle une condition de l'amitié ? Le goût de la vérité à tout prix est une passion qui n'épargne rien et à quoi rien ne résiste. C'est un vice, un confort parfois, ou un égoïsme.
Le plus souvent nous nous confessons à ceux qui nous ressemblent et qui partagent nos faiblesses. Nous ne désirons donc pas nous corriger, ni être améliorés : il faudrait d'abord que nous fussions jugés défaillants. Nous souhaitons seulement être plaints et encouragés dans notre voie. En somme, nous voudrions, en même temps, ne plus être coupables et ne pas faire l'effort de nous purifier.

(Albert Camus)

I wish that my French were better. But I think I know. And I wonder: why is it that I am not strong enough, it seems, to stand on my own two feet? And then I read this. And I read and re-read the poem I posted, the one that made Théo cry, and made me dizzy...and I think that I too wear a "necklace of fire" and that is why, no matter what the circumstance, I am engulfed in a cloak of sadness that I can only shrug off temporarily. I know that I should not expect happiness, except as a fleeting gift. But if that is true, then shouldn't it be the same for sadness? This idea leads me to realize that the way I feel an affinity for another person is if, in looking into one's eyes, I recognize that haunted expression, evidence of a veil of sadness. The people I have cared about, those that I have felt drawn to, wear this cloak. This is true, without exception, even if some of them would not acknowledge the sadness. It is my own particular clairvoyance.

Friday, March 25, 2005

a poem

This is a poem I read in the latest NEW YORKER. I was in the elevator going up to my apartment, and scanning the magazine, and I noticed the poem because I know the poet. And as I read it, my jaw practically dropped and I felt dizzy. I thought, if I were a woman (I'm not) this would be about me. Maybe that is what makes it great: it applies to all of us, anyone who has ever lost in love. Maybe I will be sued for copying it here, but I am doing so in reverance. I was at Yaddo years ago with the guy who wrote it; I had a wild party in my studio and he lent me his stereo system. At the end of the party, a bat flew into the studio and terrorized us all, the drunken hangers-on. Lucy, my dear departed Lucy, and I danced. And later that night, in the early morning actually, another poet tried to seduce me, but I was scared and ran away. So many years ago...


Because he left her, she must make him
someone she doesn't love, rescripting as
deception their hand-clasped walks at dusk
when she felt his was the hand of God
linking her to him because she was
so blessed to be given this love
this late in life. It must have been lies:
each touching word, all thoughtfulness,
his shows of pleasure putting her first,
his endearing sex talk that first
amused her then got to her
(his hot moist breath the poison in her ear)
as he learned with seemingly selfless patience
how to move inside her as no one ever had before.
How can she change memories like these?
He must have been lying
because the man who did these things
could not leave her with no warning or reason.
But she knows he wasn't,
and, because she knows he wasn't,
she is stuck. No one can help her.
No one can enter the sacred circle they made together
she now wears as a necklace of fire.
How can she obliterate the person he is?
What is she to do? She has to live.

(Michael Ryan)


I have not had much appetite the last few days. I did not eat breakfast or lunch or dinner yesterday, just a piece of cake in the afternoon. Then today I went to swim, and realized I had not eaten anything. So I got very tired while swimming, and when I finished I felt so dizzy that I had to sit with my head down for a while. So when I met Matt in Park Slope I ate some soup. Now I am a little hungry. Mabel is very hungry, as dogs always are, and she is making funny noises now, trying to convince me to feed her.


as usual

As usual, when I get overwhelmed, as I have been the last few days, I start to sink into depression. And last evening Y. pissed me off so much; just a small thing but enough to send me into a spin. So I took what I have now learned is the best course: a whopping dose of trazodone to knock me out. I promptly fell into a coma-like sleep. Even now, at eight a.m., I feel dazed. The trazodone makes my dreams so vivid. Also, the fact that I did not eat last evening (I was so pissed that I lost my appetite completely) made my dreams even stranger. I hope that I can calm down today. Right now I feel shaky and distressed. I will go swim, and then go in the afternoon to Park Slope to see Matt. I hope it doesn't rain.

Thursday, March 24, 2005


Yoshi started his position at Yohji Yamamoto USA yesterday. I am happy for him. Yohji Yamamoto is a genius, and Yoshi is so excited about working for his company doing PR stuff and related things. And plus, Yoshi has the funkiest coolest sense of fashion, so this is a great fit for him.


Would I like living in the country? (yes and no)
Would I hate depending on a car for transportation? (yes)
Would I miss the city? (I would be here on weekends) (yes and no)
Would I have time for composing and painting? (I must have)
Would I have energy for composing and painting? (big question)
Am I simply scared of change? (no)
Do I want a change? (was not looking, but am not averse to it either)

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

for you, Bao

Bao, I am happy that this worked out for you. Welcome back to daylight.

blue sky


that picture, in my last post, makes me look a little nuts, don't you think?

my head

I have a migraine headache. I have not had one in a while, but I do tend to get them in the spring. They suck, but I just surrender myself to the pain so that it seems normal. Then, when it stops, I will have received a gift.

self portrait 3-16-05

selfish (me)

thin skin
black eye
can't sleep
can't cry

Tuesday, March 22, 2005


Perhaps I have been mistaken in considering this blogging as a kind of dialogue. Although I write these posts for myself, as another vehicle for expression, and I post pictures and artwork as an offering to you, the person who might randomly or intentionally check out my blog, I have enjoyed the interchange among my "regulars." Yet this creates a problem for me, one of expectation. So I must surrender expectation. This attitude could actually be applied to almost every aspect of my life, but I think that it is best if I use it sparingly, at first.


Last night I finally slept a real sleep.

Sunday night I was awake most of the night, worrying about Mabel and tossing around with my dilemma, trying to figure out what to do. Yesterday I was on edge. Teaching was a respite, and after teaching, I worked out in a mild frenzy, making the time pass until I could take Mabel to the vet.

Relieved that Mabel was ok, I felt much better by evening. I was upset again after reading B's blog because I felt hurt that I was not invited out last Friday. And that just set off the chain reaction, where the other troubles lined up to be counted. Then the phone rang. The number was blocked on the caller ID. I had a sense that it was B. At first, I was not going to pick up the phone. I was too tired, and I just wanted to sit in the dark in silence. But I picked up just before the voice mail kicked in. I was glad to talk to him, and I felt better afterward, though as usual I felt awkward on the phone. But I don't like the phone, in general. I like to be able to see the person with whom I am talking. I didn't mention Friday; I knew it was not B's fault and I did not want him to feel bad.

The intersection of feeling and action is one that I still, after all these years, do not really understand. I am uncertain whether to act on feelings in so many situations, and when I do, I sometimes feel like a loose cannon. It might be better to keep it all under wraps, protected from intrusion (or extrusion) by a wall.


Monday, March 21, 2005


And then, should I say you hurt my feelings?

Or is it pathetic, a sign of weakness? I am not sure. My uncertainty is another type of weakness. But I feel that there is nothing of value in pointing these things out. They should be obvious, and if they are not, then explaining them is not going to help.

But none of this stops the sinking feeling, the sadness that is slowly washing over me. I will sink into it gently. The air outside, while still chilled, has a touch of spring.

I must not depend on people so much. That is the lesson, I think. My skin must become tougher, an elephant's hide should I be so lucky.

nota bene

First I say, fuck it.

Then I say, you are too sensitive. Your feelings are too easily hurt. Get over it.

And then I say, fuck it. My feelings are hurt. Too easily? Ce n'est pas ma faute.

Then I say, maybe you expect too much of people. Yes, I say; that might be true.

And then I say, fuck it.


cute face
Originally uploaded by madabandon.
Mabel is fine. The lump is a common type called lipoma and is harmless. I just have to keep an eye on it to see if it gets bigger, in which case at some point it would probably be removed. I am relieved. I was worried today, although I did my best to stay unworried by thinking positively.

where oh where

Oh where oh where can they be?

I wish I knew...(listen?)


Such a monumental decision seems to lie in front of me, challenging me to make up my mind.


The thing about sleep that is both wondrous and cruel: you can forget troubles and enter the world of dreams, yet upon waking, those same troubles that drifted away will come settling back on your shoulders. That is precisely what happened to me. It is like some sort of cruel joke. You wake up feeling good and carefree, and then memory plays its trick.

Sunday, March 20, 2005


Actually I am very worried about Mabel, but I am trying not to freak out since I don't know anything and it might turn out to be nothing to worry about.



bobo belly


Mabel before, Mabel before, and Mabel after her haircut. She looks so cute.

I found a small lump in her abdomen. I am worried. I hope it is nothing. I will take her to the vet tomorrow. I think it is not anything bad, but it is best to be sure.



Notice how my eyebrow extends in tendrils. I may end up as one of the old men with incredulous antenna-like eyebrows. With that in mind, I trimmed them this morning.

It has been, so far, an interesting weekend, mostly because of the situation I described in my last post, which has set my mind working rather intensely as I think through things.

I wish I could say more but discretion forbids me.

I will post Mabel pictures soon.

Saturday, March 19, 2005


My eye is better. Mabel's haircut is amazing. I will post pictures later.

I am in the midst of an exciting dilemma, but I can disclose very little of the details right now. It involves a teaching position, one which I did not seek out but which has sought me out.

It is a pleasant dilemma to have. I will need some good advice.

blue sky

Friday, March 18, 2005


My eye is much better today.

Today I will take Mabel for her first spring haircut. Her hair is longer than it has ever been and she looks elegant but by the end of the day she will be unbelievably cute as she is after a haircut. No one who sees her can keep from smiling (except for the very most dour, who probably never smile at anything) and most people stop to pat her on the head at the very least. Some lose all decorum and kneel down on the sidewalk to have a closer Mabel experience. I will take pictures.

Thursday, March 17, 2005


You should check out these photographs. BQ's pictures are amazing.


traces of light
Originally uploaded by madabandon.
I spend most of the day in a state of semi-blindness. Interesting in many ways, but also very frustrating. Not much to do but sleep. And listen.


It is very strange using my right eye. It is very frustrating as well. I can't read, I can't watch television (not that I usually do anyway). I can play piano, but I can't read from a score. So now I am cheating by using both eyes. When I was a boy, in first or second grade, I don't remember quite so well, I had to wear a patch over my left eye, because the theory was that it would strengthen the bad eye. So for a full year I could barely see. It was awful. I used to cheat and look over top of my glasses so they replaced the patch, which was attached to the lens, with one over my eye, like a pirate. I think I have blocked out most of that time, because it was no doubt torturous, as I am finding today when I keep my eye covered. But it feels better today and I think in a day or so I will be able to use it. Ok, now I put the patch back on and I will listen to Keith Jarrett and maybe be inspired to practice some more...

Wednesday, March 16, 2005


My left eye, which is the one that I see out of mostly, is infected. But sometimes I am a self-pitying fool and so I have deleted the rest of this post, which I actually wrote earlier...


Another blog disappeared. Poof! and it is gone. I wonder how I would feel if I deleted my blog. Gone. There would be no record, any longer, of several months of days. Online, we are ephemeral. I will miss the missing blog. I enjoyed reading it. I liked the photographs. It is a form of formalized socializing, I think. As if, instead of conversation, we made presentations to one another, yet without the restraints of manners that characterize "real time" presentations. I don't think I could delete my blog. Since I started, in late December, I think that not a day has gone by without me posting something--which means that either I have no life, and also means I have not been away in too long--or else that I am very dedicated. Perhaps both. But I do have a life, obviously. Keeping the blog helps me make sense of it. On the other hand, I could hide among the intricate patterns of this plant. I used to hide among our yew bushes when I was a boy. Crawling inside, I would become invisible.

plant (bw)

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

trying/not trying

I spend a lot of my time trying to understand things. People, ideas, images, structures: I contemplate and dissect and question and review. But maybe this is a largely foolish way to spend my time. Maybe I should let time pass by, and let my mind rest and become "automatic." Cy Twombly used to sketch in the dark. Paul Bowles used what he called "automatic writing," a technique of turning off the conscious brain (although I am not quite sure how that is accomplished) and writing from the subconscious. Buddhism suggests a kind of existential neutrality. I am fascinated by this idea, but it does not seem at all practical. Maybe I just don't know enough about it. Any suggestions?


Last night Yoshi looked sad. I asked him if he was ok and he said "I am sad."

I asked him if he was sad about anything in particular. He said no. "Sometimes I just get sad."

That I understand, because it often happens to me. But I felt bad. I don't want him to feel sad. I told him, "I don't want you to be sad. Is there anything I can do? Do you want to talk?"

He said "I will be ok. It's ok."

This morning he was still sad. His face told me. I wanted to make his sadness stop, but I felt powerless. I hugged him. Then I realized: it is ok for him to be sad. It is ok when I am sad. Sadness is all around us. It is only fair that everyone should remember that. And I can't stop his sadness any more than he can stop mine. I love him when he is sad, I love him when he is happy, I love him when he is grumpy. It is all ok. And if you try to keep sadness at bay, if you try to put a wall around yourself for protection, those walls will just imprison you.

But I hope his sadness will pass, because sadness is hard. I hope he doesn't feel like I sometimes do, like the walls are closing in.

three walls


Last night, after returning from a post-concert dinner with some of my colleagues, I listened to the recording of the concert, and I was not so pleased. I felt like my playing, which had some bright spots, was uninspired. And so, dulled by my two single-malt scotches, I was feeling down and like I can't really play the piano.

But this morning, I decided to have another try, and I listened again. This time I realized that I was being ridiculously over-critical; actually the performance went well. There were some balance issues (drums a bit loud) but the interplay between the three of us was actually really cool and interesting, and so I no longer feel like I can't play the piano. But I was lucky this time. I had not been practicing much in the last few months, and that is not good. I should try to practice all the time, even if my mind is occupied more with writing. At least practicing is mechanical, in large degree, and can be therapeutic.

So now I feel like there is a little bright light, after last night's gloom.


Monday, March 14, 2005

up up (and away?)

I am feeling quite up today. Quite up. This manic energy, which is what it is, will be useful tonight as long as I can sustain it without crashing. I am sure I can do that for one day at least. I just have to watch my mouth.


Sunday, March 13, 2005


I enjoyed the day today. I liked the sun.

I decided not to play "Soon" tomorrow. I will just do three tunes: "I Wish I Knew," "Old Folks," and "It Might As Well Be Spring." The caps in the song titles start to look silly, don't they?

I decided not to play "Soon" because I am not doing anything interesting with it, and it is boring me and then I get frustrated. So better just toss it.

This was how the sun looked hitting the plant hanging between the two big windows in Nani's apartment, in Fort Greene.



The sun was shining so beautifully in the windows of Nani's apartment in Fort Greene. After visiting I went with Yoshi to the Target store, but I felt like I was not in New York City, and the air was so still, I got too anxious and had to leave. Once I was outside I was fine. I don't think I can ever go there again. Yikes. What was I thinking?



Actually I am much more of a cynic than my blog here would have anyone realize.

I read my posts, which sometimes are so sincere that they make me queasy. I am feeling queasy right now, for no identifiable reason otherwise.

But I believe that cynicism comes from idealism. It's just the reaction of a bruised idealist.


God knows how I adore life
When the wind turns on the shore lies another day
I cannot ask for more
And when the timebell blows my heart
and I have scored a better day
Well nobody made this war of mine

And the moments that I enjoy
a place of love and mystery
I'll be there anytime

-Beth Gibbons (one of the greatest singers I have heard)


Saturday, March 12, 2005

for Nghiem

ivy wall

Today I understand more than I did yesterday.


pomona green eye
Originally uploaded by madabandon.
As Yoshi and I joke, Pomona is very nice but she can be very mean. But she is really nice.

sometimes they nail it

Dear Jonathan,
Here is your horoscope
for Saturday, March 12:

Your mouth is still operating at a speed that's amazing even you. So before you go off on someone you love because they can't keep up, or just aren't on the same page, stop. Wait. Think.

Just substitute "brain" for mouth and this is perfect.


tuna face
Originally uploaded by madabandon.
Tuna makes me happy. I am lucky to have him.


How did I get to be so messed up?

My mother used to tell that when I was a baby I did not like to be held. Typically, a baby is happy to be held by its mother. I resisted such confinement. She told a story of how she and my father were sitting downstairs in our house, having put my brother and I to bed, when they heard a loud "thump." Alarmed, they ran up the stairs to find me lying on the floor; I had climbed over the railing of my crib and over the side, falling to the floor. They made sure that I was ok and put me back in the crib. They went back downstairs. And not too much time passed when they heard "thump" again.

In second grade each classroom had a door leading outside to the schoolyard. During recess, I told my friends to please not tell the teacher, and I snuck inside, got my coat, and walked out the front door of the school and proceeded to walk home, about a one-mile walk. This was in midday. When I was about half-way home, I heard someone calling me, and it was the school secretary, running after me. She dragged me, protesting, back to school. I don't remember the aftermath, although most certainly I was punished.


I feel like a fool. I was in a state of complete disarray last night, too sensitive, and I was stupid.

B, I am sorry.

Friday, March 11, 2005


I just got home from my rehearsal. Well, I met Matt for coffee after I finished, so it's not just after my rehearsal really. But I was not happy. I felt like my playing sucked, like I was tense, and I was having trouble hearing. Partly that is due to the acoustics in the space, and partly because the piano I was playing, a nine-foot Kawai concert grand, has a tinny harsh sound in the upper register, and it was making me recoil. The only good thing about that piano is that it has ivory keys, and a nine-foot-concert-grand has great bass notes. But a bad rehearsal usually means a good performance, and vice-versa. So I should be happy that I thought it was bad. I guess...


I just returned from swimming. I beat myself to a pulp, figuratively speaking.

While I was swimming, I contemplated the effect that the past has on my present. Since I am so often thinking about the past, analyzing, dissecting, I thought that I might formulate some personal theory, a theory of my past, that could help me in the future.

I realized that my past loves--not flings, but real loves--have each left a scar on me. I realized that I am susceptible to this. I think that many people, even if scarred, can shed their skin, like a snake does, and thus the scars disappear, and they become a blank slate, unmarred, and can face the future with the confidence of newness.

I do not think it works like that for me. In fact, I am sure that it does not. And thus a new question emerges: have I left scars on my past loves? I think not...

As my homeboy Todd Rundgren once sang:

"The wound you left is healing and then
it starts itching and I scratch it open again..."

topic for today


up up (and away?)

One of the objectively positive (as opposed to subjectively self-indulgent) aspects of this navel-grazing blogging is that I can use it to keep track of the cycles of my up-and-down mood, my bipolar self. So I will now report that I am climbing up. Perhaps this is due to the lack of sleep this week, my upcoming concert, the work I have to do before then, maybe other things too. So my emotions are on a short fuse; I am feeling twitchy (not visibly so, although my right hand is shaking quite a bit) and it is hard to slow down my thoughts enough to get a grip on them. Oh well. I will just go through my day, and brutal swimming session is coming soon, which might take me down a notch or two.



I am sitting at my computer reading the NYTIMES online, and I have just read this article about the upcoming mayoral race. C. Virginia Fields and Fernando Ferrer have made a pact to have a campaign free of attacks and the usual mud-slinging. Reading the article, about Fields's childhood in Alabama, her participation in Dr. Martin Luther King's marches, and her efforts to keep the campaign honorable actually made me feel like I was about to cry. At first I thought that I must be completely unhinged. Then I realized that I have a similar response almost every time I witness some example of honorable, generous behavior, one person to another. Maybe because it is a sign that despite the chaos and loss of compassion and civility that seems to have become an essential part of our lives, there are still noble people.

And now it is snowing, and the bridge is invisible from my window.

Thursday, March 10, 2005


This morning I sat talking to one of my classes. It is a wonderful class, even if they are sometimes slackers. I like all the students in this class, and I have to pretend, sometimes, to be mad at them or else I would let them get away with murder. So we were discussing my expectations of them. And I mentioned that I recently heard of one of my students who claimed to be terrified of me. They were surprised. "You don't get mad," they told me. "I mean, you get mad, but not scary mad." This from one of the most charming ones. So it got me thinking.

I do get mad. I don't get mad at students, because they don't really have the power to hurt me. The only time I get truly mad is when I have been hurt. And only a person to whom I make myself vulnerable can hurt me. And due to my reserved nature, and what most people consider my aloofness, there are not so many people in that category.

I was talking to my colleagues, and one remarked how I always seemed so calm and cool, and rarely was ruffled. "Oh, it's all an illusion," I said. "In reality, I am a quivering mess."


Is it evening if the sun is still in the sky?

Still so much to do, and I practiced so much today that the dry skin on my hands--hazard of winter--actually cracked and now the little finger of my right hand has a bleeding crevasse which hurts when I play. Pianists use this stuff called "New Skin" which you paint on a cut. It stings like hell but it keeps the thing from getting worse when you have no choice but to practice. I am trying to work out new material for some of the tunes I am playing, because they are standards and there is no point playing standards in 2005 unless you do something new with them. Anyway, I work best when I am under the pressure of an imminent deadline, but I hope tomorrow is more even and does not throw me off balance.

I have to be careful though, because when I get into this kind of energetic mode I usually become manic and tend to fly off the handle easily and get way ahead of myself; my thoughts race so fast and I have difficulty speaking because the words can't make it out of my mouth quickly enough. So I try to breathe and relax, which has some effect, but not enough to bring me to a normal state. That is why I am typing so fast now, I think. So I need to breathe, rest, lie on the floor, do some yoga, close my eyes, breathe, rest, lie on the floor, do some yoga, close my eyes, breathe, rest, lie on the floor...



I feel frantic today. Too much to do and not enough time.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

absence, continued

One of the things I truly miss from the past is a certain feeling that accompanied the aimless, comfortable "hanging out" that I used to enjoy with my friends in college and in the short years after college before our lives became less wrapped up in each other and more with new concerns: jobs and school, marriage for some, children, etc. And people moved away: to DC, to LA, to Chicago. And what did we do? Sit around, drink, smoke, and talk talk talk talk. I miss that. I am somewhat of a hermit now, and so much of my work is solitary. So if any of you Vassarettes ever happen upon this (and I know at least one of you does, Mr. ATS) realize that I do miss you all. I miss those days. In some strange indescribable way, I was so much happier then than now. Or is this just some kind of warped nostalgia, my real perceptions faded away over time, replaced by sweetened ones?

long ago and far away


It is odd how I have felt the absence of my blogging friends these past days; against my inclination I have felt like these oblique exchanges formed, for me at least, a kind of socializing that I look forward to most days. And while I was aware of, and wary of, the tenuous connections that are forged over the internet, actually meeting Thierry, and knowing Bao for a number of years, and then establishing a real connection with Nghiem, has convinced me that it is not the medium that creates or negates the validity of a relationship, but the persons themselves. So I am not worried; I know that they will return. Or, if they do not, it will not be a disappearance, which I define as an absence unexplained.
pomona green eyetuna side view


Originally uploaded by madabandon.
still climbing


Originally uploaded by madabandon.


When someone I care for experiences pain, or sadness, or grief, or fear, or loneliness, I wish that I could provide an antidote, or better yet, some sort of inoculation, to prevent them from having to experience these feelings. When Yoshi was in Japan, watching his mother get sicker and sicker, I found it almost unbearable (having been through an almost identical experience) to think of how he was feeling and I wanted more than anything to take away his pain, to take away his family's pain. When my brother recently had a health scare, and I knew he was worried, I wished so badly that I could fix it all, make his worries dissolve so completely that he would forget they ever existed. When a friend writes of his loneliness, I wish that I could find a way so that he would never feel that kind of emptiness. Yet I know that this is all impossible, and even more, that I am powerless in this way. But maybe I get some kind of power, good power, from my desire, much as we all grow stronger from the bad experiences in our lives, if we can withstand them.


My left eye, which is my good eye, hurts incredibly today, and it is difficult to keep it open. This is a drag, to say the least, since I can't really see anything now. And I have to move the car (you know how it is, parking your car on the street in NYC), which is going to be difficult if I can't see. Hmmm.

left eye

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

concrete and barbed wire...

ivy and wire

I love Lucinda Williams' song "Concrete and Barbed Wire" from her album CAR WHEELS ON A GRAVEL ROAD. Check it out, if you don't know it.

one day...

One day, maybe, we can sit down, and we can talk about the past. And we can tell the truth: our respective truths, and we will not be afraid, and we will be completely honest, and we will know that whatever pain results is not from malice or anger or the wish to hurt, but from the simple fact of how life is, and how fate may or may not determine our actions, and how wishing for something is not wrong, and how...

a letter I have written but never sent--

(you know, I wrote it, and I read it, and I saved it, and I will never send it)

to be honest

To be truly honest, you must take the risk of pissing people off, or making them uncomfortable. This is something I learned a long time ago.


Today is one of the rare days where I feel balanced. Emotionally and in mood, I feel like both of my feet are firmly on the ground. I am so happy for these days, and I hope that they become the norm rather than the exception. Perhaps it is due, at least in part, to the thirty minutes of yoga that I did early this morning. I certainly felt energized and more tranquil after that.



hands at work
Originally uploaded by madabandon.
I have a concert Monday evening. At my school we have a faculty concert series, and I will be playing with my trio--me on piano, Dom Richardson on bass, Greg Gonzales on drums--a thirty-minute set. I have still not decided what pieces I will play, but I know two: "Samba do Aviao", by Jobim, and "It Might As Well Be Spring." Or maybe "One Note Samba." I want to play "I Wish I Knew" but I don't want to do two ballads, and I definitely am going to play "Old Folks", another ballad. But here is the bigger dilemma: when I am in the thick of composing, as I have been lately, I don't practice. And when I get into practicing, I can't compose. So now I have to put composing aside for the rest of the week to practice and come up with the other two tunes and do the arranging and rehearse. The concert is at 129 Pierrepont Street (at Clinton) in Brooklyn Heights, Monday evening at 6 pm. There will be some pieces by Brahms on the first half of the program. If you want to come, please do. It's free.


Originally uploaded by madabandon.

for Nghiem

Originally uploaded by madabandon.

GertrudeStein is my hero

"March the eighth, jumping and picking up the purse, jumping up and picking up the purse."

Monday, March 07, 2005


(for you)

do I need too much
do I ask too much
do I talk too much
do I ask too much
do I think too much
do i ask too much
do I worry too much
do i ask too much
do I fall too often
do i ask too much
do I know anything at all


Clark Street at Hicks Street, Brooklyn


If you don't look down, you will miss it.

Clark Street at Hicks Street, Brooklyn

carved wall

If you don't look up, you will miss it.

what I see walking

I walked Mabel in the surprisingly warm afternoon sun, and I carried my camera with me. I like to look closely at things, to see shapes and patterns in ordinary places.



To my blogging friends: it is my own insecurity which makes me worry. So please, slap me next time. I mean it (grinning).


Because I worry so much, I wonder how my blogging friends are. If I don't read new posts, I worry: is ____ ok? Has he disappeared forever? Can he just delete himself, the way one can delete a blog at the press of a key on the keyboard? Is this the truth about the ephemeral nature of this "blogging"? This is my fear, that these ties are really unreal, dependent as they are on exchanges that do not occur in real time, lacking the face-to-face quality of intimacy or friendship.

So then I think that I should not worry so much about past and future, and do as I am so often told, live "in the moment." I wonder about why this is so difficult for me. And in thinking this over, I have concluded something, a theory impossible to prove or disprove, but one that might explain. Because in my work, as a musician, I must be in the moment in order to do what I do, my other time cannot be spent in the moment, because balance is necessary for one to function. So when I am not practicing, or composing, or painting, I must describe the past for myself, or think about what lies ahead, so that I will have the necessary energy and focus to be "in the moment" the next time I practice, or compose, or paint.

March the Seventh

March the seventh patently, patently see, patently saw, she saw he saw patently see to see. He would be.

--Gertrude Stein

Sunday, March 06, 2005


Your clear eye is the one absolutely beautiful thing.
I want to fill it with colors and ducks,
The zoo of the new

Whose names you meditate--
April snowdrop, Indian pipe,

Stalk without wrinkle,
Pool in which images
Should be grand and classical

Not this troublous
Wringing of hands, this dark
Ceiling without a star.

-Sylvia Plath, from WINTER TREES

from my window


If you look in a certain direction, about 1:00 and down slightly, you can't see the sky or the bridge or anything but these brick walls. And if you narrow your vision, you see this. Just blank walls broken only by blank windows.