Friday, March 31, 2006

old friends

Yesterday I was tired and out of sorts after I finished teaching. There was a lot of drama in my department, and it exhausts me. So I was looking forward to getting home and relaxing. I was planning to see M who is an old friend; we met ten years ago or so, and while we have never lived in the same place, we have maintained a very warm friendship. He is a great guy, sweet, generous, charming, caring, what one hopes for in a friend. And since he grew up in Charleston, South Carolina, he has the kind of charming southern accent that always gets me. But I have to say that my bad mood made me almost regret that I had made plans with him. When he arrived, though, bringing me these tulips, my mood changed completely. Seeing an old friend, someone you can trust, someone you enjoy, is a wonderful thing. I had not seen him in two years, when he and his partner were up from Miami on one of their annual trips to NYC. Last year they didn't come. But when I saw M, it was as if we had just seen each other yesterday.

tulips (2)

Thursday, March 30, 2006

platitude but I like it anyway

I saw this posted outside a church when I was walking Mabel this morning:
He who lives only for himself is truly dead to others.


Wednesday, March 29, 2006

not again...

I had said I would dwell on the past anymore. But this morning, feeling desperate to find some way to help myself, I googled "causes of bipolar disorder." There was a lot of information. The general impression I have is that there is a genetic predisposition to it, which I most certainly have (my grandmother and my aunt) which, when coupled with "difficult life events and circumstances" can trigger the disorder. And I had this very vivid and upsetting memory:

When I was in first grade I became terrified of school. I was convinced that I would be abandoned by my parents, that no one would show up to pick me up at the end of the day. In the morning my mother would make us breakfast. I would not be able to eat, and sometimes vomited. I remember vomiting on the walkway in front of the house on more than one occasion. So my father's solution was to whip me with his belt. And just to keep me in line, every morning he would come to the table with a thick belt which he would set down next to me as a reminder of what would happen if I vomited again.

I think these days that kind of behavior would be considered child abuse.


winter trees

I am feeling like I am close to snapping. I had a week of hypomania, and now that my mood has sunk, I feel agitated, at the end of my rope. Teaching today, I had little patience; last night when Patsy continually ran around and acted crazy I actually found myself, to my horror, shaking her and yelling at her. Then I felt horrible, so sad for her and so angry with myself. So I petted her, made her purr, and gave up on sleeping for the rest of the night. As I was already exhausted, now I cannot describe in words how awful I feel physically and mentally. I need to be put in an isolation chamber and knocked out.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


I have decided that I will not end my blog. But I will not always post entries either. Ending it does not suit me; I keep a journal anyway, so I am still risking too much introspection and examination. At least the blog has other components. When I started it was my intention to use the blog to explore how bipolarity (?) affects me. So back to that.

I was teaching one class today, talking about how visual artists and composers found much in common in the twentieth century: as visual artists moved toward abstraction they found inspiration in composers, who had been working with abstraction for centuries. Someone asked me who my favorite artists were. I gave a short list, and then remembered one: the Japanese painter/sculptor/installation artist Yayoi Kusuama. She is mentally ill and lives in an institution. She maintains a studio outside, and is transported from the institution to her studio to work, then brought back to her institution at the end of the working day. At the institution, presumably, she is attended to, fed, taken care of.

Then I thought of how this would suit me. I need attending to, but I am the attendant. Living alone, single, I take care of everything myself. This is fine when I feel fine, but I usually don't. I have been on a hypomanic binge since last week. In that time I have rearranged and reordered my apartment; I have start refinishing the dining room floor; I have been a whirlwind of activity so that I am almost at the point of exhaustion. I have to watch what I say and do very carefully and control my impulses, some of which are disturbing to say the least. And tomorrow, whether I am manic or depressed (or hopefully "normal") I will still have to manage. Now many people manage themselves just fine. But lots of people have help. Single people who are ill, who have chronic disorders, can have a tough time. If I were in a relationship I would become the same difficult person I am in every relationship, shifting from one extreme to another, presenting my partner with a very difficult challenge, one that most people just can't handle.

So Yayoi Kusama may have found the perfect solution. However, that would not work here in this country. So I keep persevering.

dead tired


Monday, March 27, 2006

Sunday, March 26, 2006


Affected Items:

1. I have thrown away about one-third of the stuff in my bedroom/office. I have reconfigured my work space and significantly lightened the place up. I also threw away the ugly black shelf in the kitchen and replaced it with the white one from the bedroom. It takes up less room and holds more stuff. So the kitchen looks bigger and brighter now.

2. On Friday after swimming I weighed myself. I lost nine pounds in the last month. How? Take 300 mg of wellbutrin and 250 of lamictal each day. Your appetite will disappear. I did not really have nine pounds to lose--more like two or three--so I am looking a bit gaunt.

3. Friday afternoon I had a haircut. My hair is very short. He used clippers (#2). I was a bit shocked although I asked for it. But yesterday morning when I went out to walk Mabel I saw J who said "oh my god you look so hot. That is the hottest haircut. You look like you are in Mossad."
(Mossad is the special branch of the Israeli intelligence forces, known for being fierce).

Friday, March 24, 2006



Last evening while having dinner with Theo I was telling him that my tremor seemed to be much worse with this new regimen. He told me that Nghiem's hands shake badly. Of course, I thought.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

a history

I began writing this blog in December of 2004. B had sent me a message directing me to the blog he had started--he was inspired by T's blog--and, reading his first entries, I was inspired to begin my own. I had been thinking about embarking on this kind of thing for some time, but I needed a kick to get me going.

Reading B's blog, and beginning my own, was like leaping off a cliff. I did not realize that at the time. But soon I became so wrapped up in my own blog that it was like an obsession. Like most obsessions it had its dark side. I set off on a path that brought me tremendous pain, and harmed me in my life. Y had only returned from Japan for a few weeks and we were still getting back to our old selves when I became noticeably troubled and preoccupied. I did not keep the blog a secret for I knew that was a stupid thing to do.

This blogging, reading and writing, sent me reeling back to an emotional state that I had worked very hard to get past; the previous summer, the same emotional state almost killed me, so desperate I was for escape that all I could think of was disappearing. In those first weeks, that state came roaring back. I became severely troubled, depressed, shaky. Y didn't say anything, but I know he was troubled by the change in me. I saw it all and yet I could not stop myself.

While I am constantly thinking about the past, my own history, there are some chapters that I would have erased if I could. I thought that I had put them behind me, that I had come to accept them. Blogging brought them back in all their troubling dimensions, with violent force. Blogging also brought back realizations and fears that I had overcome, or so I thought. Blogging became a curse in a way, and yet I was--and am--drawn to it as a form of self-expression.

I regard the start of my blog as the start of the death of my relationship with Y. I could not help myself, and he could not cope with me, and what he learned from reading my blog caused him upset and distress. I knew that it hurt him, and yet I had to tell the truth. I am not a good liar, I've never been a good liar, and many times I wished that I were a good liar. I mostly blame myself for the failure of what once was a wonderful, happy relationship, and even now when I think back on it I have wistful, happy memories that only make me more sad.

So I come to now. In the fall Y left for good. I could not do anything to save us. I was devastated and sunk, again, into a deep and overwhelming depression.

I am recovering now. But lately I have been thinking of finishing this blog. Maybe all this revisitation is bad for me. Yesterday I met with my psychiatrist and in talking, I realized how bound I am in the past, in this continuous self examination. Blogging has only increased this tendency. I am not sure what I will decide. But do not be surprised if I go "poof" and disappear.


Whirlingboy wrote this today:
Up an feeling empty. Thinking about what I am going to write. Feel Even more empty. Read some blogs and wish I got some to share . going to work soon and see more the sick and wounded. My emptiness will then filled up with pain and suffering of myself and... the others.

I have felt like this for the last few days. Empty. So I try to find something to drive the emptiness away. Looking at this painting by Cy Twombly helps me. Observing beauty, for me, fills me with something good, and I hold onto this as long as I am able.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006



Someone wrote this comment to me on Flickr about these drawings:

"This is so simple, but I like it. Can you elaborate on the meaning?"

I think it is a baffling question. The objective when I make these ink drawings is to use one continuous pen stroke, to create a pleasing form from one "line." I hope they are beautiful. As to their meaning, who am I to say? They are whatever you make them out to be, or they are nothing at all, or they are just simple things, maybe beautiful to some.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


I have been taking antidepressants for the last twelve years at least. I have also taken various other medications for the bipolar component of my messed-up head. The medication has given me a tremor, diagnosed a few years ago. The current medication combo I am taking seems to have the tremor much worse to the point where I am hesitant to use my right hand if anyone is watching, it shakes so badly sometimes. Also something else very strange is happening. I am having difficulty speaking. I know the words in my head; I have always been a good speaker, articulate, with a large vocabulary and a "way with words." Now when I try to talk certain words--most of them utterly familiar to me--baffle me and I cannot form the sounds. I stammer and can't get the word out until I pause, take a breath, concentrate, and then say word slowly as if I am saying it for the very first time. Of all the side-effects I have experienced over the years, these two are the most troubling, and the speech thing is the most troubling of all. If I can't speak, how can I teach? And if I can't teach, how will I eat?

I am seeing my doctor tomorrow and I will ask her. I hope she can at least speculate on what is going on, although I suppose only a neurologist can really tell.


stairwell 2

Despite the fact that the sun is shining and it is the first day of spring (although you would not know it from the cold) I am feeling down. But I am not feeling depressed. As anyone with depression knows, there is a big difference. The queasiness is less intense today. I have a busy day ahead, although it has had a slow start. Maybe the day's activity will pick me up.

Monday, March 20, 2006



Yesterday and today I have been afflicted with horrible dizziness. I already wrote about last evening when I almost passed out. This morning I felt like I would throw up, and I continue to have dizzy spells. I have a piano student coming shortly. I hope that I can keep it together. This is a very busy week for me and I don't know how I will manage if I keep feeling like this. Hmmmm.

Sunday, March 19, 2006



What a weekend this was. On Friday, after a leisurely day (school was closed) I hung out with M and stayed up much much too late. Saturday I wandered around in a daze. After a nap, I went to Town Hall to hear Stereolab. I had seen them a few years ago with BQ at Irving Plaza. I love Stereolab, and they did not disappoint me. Such fine musicians, such amazing layers of sound. But Town Hall is strange; it is a concert hall with concert hall seating, and after the first song the singer exhorted everyone to stand. I needed no encouragement, and danced the evening away. The crowd was oddly sober, like they were going to see a lecture. Strange.

Then after not enough sleep again I drove to PA with M to attend a brunch for my cousin's birthday. It was fun and I saw my nephews and my other cousin and my aunt. I was exhausted the whole time, and after driving back--with me bleary-eyed behind the wheel hoping I could stay awake--I had a wave of intense dizziness, practically passing out. Luckily M was there to see to it that I was ok. I still feel quite dizzy and out of sorts. But the weekend, while not exactly relaxing, was great.

Friday, March 17, 2006


This man is the CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch. Isn't he the scariest thing? He is, I believe, 61 years old. With dyed blond hair, a fake tan, wearing Abercrombie and Fitch of course. In the article I read from he is quoted as saying (I paraphrase) that his company does not market to ugly people, under which category he counts fat people (surprise). A&F markets to the "cool kids." This man, who seems to stuck in late adolescence, says that there are cool kids and uncool kids, and people who wear his clothing must be of the former type. What an ass.

* * * * *

Yesterday I was discussing John Cage with one of my classes. Cage, a devout student of Zen Buddhism, made the idea of removing the will one of the basic tenets of his understanding of composition. From there we started to discuss religion in general. None of these students believed in heaven. I told them that I believe that when we die, we are gone. Our spirit, or soul, or whatever it is, lives in the memories of others. During our lives we should try to do good, because we become the repository of both our good and bad actions, and what you do comes back to you.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

a blank slate?


I can't really come up with an idea or rationale for writing today. The normal applies: I feel tired, like I could never get enough sleep; I am wishing for warmer weather; I am busy but wish to do nothing.

There has been a lot of tension at school after a faculty meeting in which compensation, price of tuition, and related items were discussed.

I took my jazz band -- students -- to an excellent workshop yesterday. I was proud of them, and they performed impressively.

That is all for now.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


winter trees

It occurs to me that since late August, when I adopted Patsy, I have not gotten a single uninterrupted night of sleep (although I did while I was away in February, in Boston). Maybe this is why I feel totally exhausted almost all the time. Last night I went to bed at 9:30. Patsy knocked my water glass over at 3. So much for uninterrupted sleep.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

just one thing

There is just one thing that is wrong about the last post. I am no longer young, I think, as I am nicely into my fourth decade. I don't need the frenzy of the city anymore.

Here is a photo of one of the orchids that I got after my concert last week.



Lodgerlow writes:
No don't do it! Don't move to where you'll be by yourself. It's not healthy. Let those with kids and husbands live in the reclaimed farmhouses. Young and single and smart and talented with a tendency to ruminate... the city is the right place for you.

A pretty place is a nice place to visit... but not to live.
I think this is good advice. Unless you have a family, one would quickly become alienated. People are friendly there, but if you are a "queer" they will no doubt feel uncomfortable--at least many of them--and I have no more desire to live in a place where I would feel self-conscious. I am self-conscious enough already. But it is beautiful, it is my "home" (where I grew up) and I have always loved the land there, the trees, the low hills and small mountains, the huge Delaware River.

winter trees on a warm day

winter trees 2

Yesterday I drove to PA to go visit my brother at his house on the river. It was so beautiful, a strangely warm day, but the leafless trees caught my eye the way they always do, looking ghostly against the intermittently cloudy sky. Mabel came and played with my cousin's dog when we took them to the park.

Tinicum Park

I love Bucks County and I love the country. I could easily see myself living there most of the time, and keeping a small city place for the weekends. If only I could figure out how to support myself. Think, think, keep thinking.

Friday, March 10, 2006

people and dogs

I was just walking Mabel on this surprisingly warm day. Coming up Montague Street I saw three big burly men talking. One of them had a huge and cute puppy. The puppy saw Mabel and came over to say hello. Mabel was not sure what to think. I asked the guy what kind of dog it was; I thought it was a mastiff of some sort. He replied, gruffly, seemingly irritated by me with my fluffy Mabel, that it was a presa canario. That is all he said, barely acknowledging Mabel. I went on my way. There is another guy in the neighborhood with a full-grown presa canario. I steer clear of him and his dog ever since he said to me "my dog could eat yours in one bite." I was creeped out by this, and by the guy. He was one of those exaggerated macho guys, in his early 60s I suspect, who wears a black leather jacket and walks as if he had a football between his legs.

I am sure these guys see me with my poofy dog and think that Mabel and I are ridiculous. Did you know that presa canarios are the breed that mauled a woman in the hall of her apartment building in San Francisco a few years ago? Their owners were charged with murder.

Thursday, March 09, 2006


hudson on a cloudy day

The other evening I got a phone call from an administrator at a prestigious prep school here in NYC. He asked if I would be interested in a position. I won't give details, but it is a "higher-up" position than I currently have, and I am certain that it will pay substantially more than I am paid now.

I am interested and we will talk next week.

It made me sit down and assess my current job. I thought of the reasons that would impel me to leave. My conclusions were complex. Suffice to say that while I love my students and my colleagues in my department as well as many throughout the school, we faculty are treated shabbily by many administrators. We all have our stories to tell. But I am taking steps to clarify some things, and I know that I will leave if certain changes are not made.

This has caused me a great deal of turbulence. After all, I have been at my school for many years, happily. I was not looking for a new position. I was in a very similar position at this time last year, and I decided to stay where I was. What will I decide this time?

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


I did not watch the Academy Awards. I had the television on for a bit so that I could listen, but fell asleep long before the big awards were announced. Monday morning I checked out who and what had won. I was quite surprised that "Crash" won best picture. I had seen it a few months ago--on dvd--and while it was interesting, the plot was contrived and the script verged on ridiculous, as the characters seemed to speak in slogans with grand rhetorical flourishes, making much of the dialogue unbelievable. So the fact that it won best screenplay made me wonder what people were thinking.

I did not think "Brokeback Mountain" should have won either; while it was a compelling story and some of the actors, particular Michelle Williams (who played Heath Ledger's wife, and actually is Heath Ledger's wife in real life) were excellent. But there was no true chemistry between Ledger and Jake Gyllenhall. And I must admit I find Jake Gyllenhall quite unattractive. I truly do not understand his appeal. And Ledger spent the entire film with his entire body so clenched that there was no dimension to his character.

The Oscars always annoy me because of how seriously Hollywood takes itself; actors are just people, not gods or heroes, and filmmaking is more about money than anything else, at least in America. So let's not pretend that these people are so special.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

music etc.


I gave a concert last night at my school. I played three tunes. If you know my website URL, you can listen to them under "jazz mp3s." I had a crazy day and barely had time to practice, so when I concert time rolled around I felt a little frazzled, but calm. I was not happy at all with my playing. The piano was a dog--a concert grand, but not a Steinway or even a Baldwin or Yamaha, but an old Kawai, and old Kawais are not good--and no matter how carefully I played it I could not get the kinds of tones and sounds I wanted. So I was bummed out. But when I got home, I listened to the recording, and I felt a lot better.

* * * * *

But this kind of relief is situational and temporary. Lodgerlow wrote a thoughtful comment on my post from Sunday.

Are you OK? If you are having a hard time please keep some perspective. Take care of yourself, hey?

I do try and keep perspective. I know that many people have a much harder life than I do: out of work, financially strapped, health problems, family trouble...I am not naive enough to think that my problem is the worst thing that could befall me. But I do know that while I no longer seek "happiness" as a steady state--in fact I believe that it is a flawed concept--I do wish for some respite from the feeling of total bleakness that accompanies me virtually all the time. I have short periods of relief, like when I play the piano, or when I am teaching sometimes. But when I wake up, or any time that I have time to myself, I just sink. I really honestly don't know how I can continue in this state. I really don't.

Sunday, March 05, 2006



I took this photograph on the first day of this year.

I was having a hard time then. I am having a hard time now.

No matter what this feeling of numb despair seizes me, even when I have grown comfortable enough to forget about it.

Saturday, March 04, 2006



I am playing a short concert on Monday, one of our series of faculty concerts. I am playing with an excellent bassist. I have not played in a duo in a long time, and it is a fun challenge. But I also have not practiced regularly in some time, and I am a bit out of shape. So this weekend it is practice time. I have been procrastinating by re-arranging the living room furniture. I have practiced for thirty minute sessions in between the furniture toss.

Friday, March 03, 2006



I am prone to worrying. This can cause me great difficulty. Monday evening I had an appointment with my doctor. It was for my annual complete bloodwork test; ever since I had hepatitis ten years ago my doctor has been very vigilant, and once a year he tests me for everything imaginable. I worried about the results. Since starting the wellbutrin I have had a feeling of discomfort in my right side, the same area that was painful in the hepatitis period of my life. It took over a year for that feeling to go away, and here it is, back again. So I worried about my liver. I was also worried about some other things, with legitimate reason. These were things I am not comfortable describing in detail. I am, after all, a gay man in NYC who does not live the life of a choirboy.

So Wednesday evening was the time when when I was directed to call for the results, at 7:30. So I called at 7:30, and the doctor's assistant asked me to call back in one hour. Usually when I call the doctor relays the results to her, and she tells me, especially if he is very busy. So I worried even more; surely, if all was ok, she would tell me. This meant that the doctor needed to speak to me directly, and that meant that something was wrong. So for an hour I tried to keep busy. I cleaned. I did the laundry. I practiced. Then I called at 8:30. She asked me to wait on hold; a minute or two passed, and she told me that the doctor would be on the line shortly. My heart pounded and I felt freezing. My hands were shaking, that's how nervous I was. Then a few minutes later she got back on. "The doctor said to tell you that the test results were normal in every respect." I thanked her. Then I felt foolish for putting myself in such a state.

Thursday, March 02, 2006


A few weeks ago I found a note on my car. It said "your ride caught my eye. I am looking for cars to use in advertising shoots and film/tv shoots. Please call __________ if you are interested."


So I called a few days later. They pay a lot (it varies depending on the particulars) to use the car; they are fully insured and I could even go with the car if I was concerned that it might be mistreated. I would have to take a set of photos of the car, exterior and interior. So I thought "maybe."

When I picked the car up from the mechanic the other day and paid my $700+ bill (brakes, various related maintenance) I thought "I am definitely going to clean this car up and take those photographs."

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

too tired

I am too tired to write. I will write something tomorrow, I hope.