Friday, December 29, 2006

cleaning, with Patsy's help

patsy on the bed
Originally uploaded by madabandon.

A few years back I adopted the Japanese tradition of cleaning for New Year's. It is a good idea. You start the new year with things in place, or at least your home in place. Even if my head is not in place, my apartment will be. Patsy was delighted and confused by all the cleaning, but she happily chased after the mop.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

not much to say

tendril bw
Originally uploaded by madabandon.

I have not posted much since last week. I feel I don't have much to say. It's not that nothing has happened; maybe too much is going on in my head to articulate anything in particular. But I have been doing some home improvements. I bought wooden blinds with two-inch slats and installed them in the windows in the main room and bedroom. They look great. They also block out more light. This fools Patsy and Mabel just a bit so they both sleep a little longer. Thus I can sleep a little longer too. I have been socializing a lot. I seem to be in a fairly gregarious mood when out, which is contradicted by my darker mood when I am alone.

Monday, December 25, 2006


Greenpoint Avenue
Originally uploaded by madabandon.

Greenpoint Avenue Station, G Train, Christmas Eve 2006

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Friday, December 22, 2006


Originally uploaded by madabandon.

I have just been reading my blog entries from this time last year. It does not surprise me--although it troubles me--that I was in a very similar state then. My manic-depression was torturing me as it is now. I want to disappear until this tide passes. And I am doing stupid, self-defeating things. Last night I played a gig and then, finished, went home. I called Y. He was somewhat short with me on the phone; he was about to go to a meeting, but he didn't tell me that. He said he would call back. An hour later, having still not heard from him, I called again. No answer. I fell into some kind of irrational panic, or something, and kept calling and calling. Each time the call went to voice mail, and I felt as if I were being slowly overtaken by a huge tide, pulling me further away from rationality. Finally he called back, but he was pissed and didn't talk, just told me that he was in a meeting. I called him this morning and his voice and manner was so cold that I nearly shivered. And then, an hour or so later, he sent me an equally cold email. My behavior was ridiculous. And I knew it, on one hand, but I was powerless to control myself. I hate this. I feel, right at this moment, that I can't bear living like this anymore. And I hope, fervently, that this feeling will pass.


Originally uploaded by madabandon.

I have not posted since Tuesday. I remember when I used to write at least one post a day. The first part of the week was very busy. I had engagements every evening. I had dinner with B on Tuesday and with my brother on Wednesday. Monday I had a rehearsal. Last evening I had a gig. But now I am done teaching for a few weeks, and I have some time, although I have so much work to do--composing--that I won't have a true vacation. I just won't have to teach. My moods are erratic. I have a short fuse. But through constant activity I try to exhaust myself, although this may be exacerbating the problem rather than helping. But I had a nice time with B, who will soon be off on another adventure, and a nice evening with my brother, who has had a year worthy of the Book of Job. I hope this coming year will be a better one for him.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

psyched out

Originally uploaded by madabandon.

Back in my youth when I was a very serious swimmer, we used a term, "psyched out," to describe the situation in which, in the anticipation of an important race or competition, the competitor ends up swimming a bad race. Maybe this was due to the pressure, or some kind of side effect of too much mental focus, or something vague like that. But I had my share of such swims.

At the end of the summer and well into fall I was feeling so good, sleeping well, not depressed; I felt so good that I thought about stopping the trazodone at night (the sedative/antidepressant that enables me to sleep more than four hours a night). I thought maybe I could stop the medication altogether. Well, I think I psyched myself out.

Monday, December 18, 2006

pet peeve(s)

One thing about gay men that I find truly odd is how many guys call themselves "boys" even when they are well into the 30's. A thirty-year-old is not a boy. Not even close. Face reality. Grow up?

Another, not unrelated, pet peeve: Rufus Wainwright. Overrated? Pretentious? Overwrought?


car wash
Originally uploaded by madabandon.

I drove to PA on Saturday to celebrate Hanukah with my sister and her brood. In New Jersey I stopped to have the car washed. It was quite dirty; I last washed it in October. While waiting I noticed the number of hulking shiny SUVs that were waiting to be washed. Why do people wash cars when they are not dirty? Why do we waste energy so? I am getting more and more troubled by this obsession of mine. I wanted to ask the SUV-owners about it, but did not want a confrontation and so I kept my big mouth shut. When I got home to Brooklyn around 10 pm my neighbors were having their annual very loud holiday party, so I put on some crazy modernist music (Pierre Boulez's "Le Marteau Sans MaƮtre) at high volume to drown out their revelry.

Friday, December 15, 2006


It is truly amazing to me that people can crow about how great the weather is. Just now on NPR one of the newscasters projected "another beautiful day today with a high of 59F! And it looks like a great weekend too, with highs near 60 both days."

Ok, it is almost Christmas. It is not supposed to be 60F in New York. I feel like I must be crazy because to me this is an ominous sign of how warped the weather has become. Not to mention that the strange weather is wreaking havoc on my head, so that my sinuses are all messed up.

Thursday, December 14, 2006


winter trees
Originally uploaded by madabandon.

Yesterday in the early morning a woman was killed crossing Henry Street just below Montague. She was hit by a truck owned by a private garbage hauler. Those trucks go flying around the local streets here usually between 5 and 7 in the morning. It is frightening how fast they drive; they often run red lights as well, so in a way it is no surprise that someone was killed by one of them. The woman was someone I knew, both because she worked at Brooklyn Law School and also because she lived in the neighborhood and I saw her from time to time when I walk Mabel. She was a friendly, nice person, and she always smiled when she saw Mabel. Imagine: you wake up, get ready for the day, and go walking off to work and then suddenly you are dead.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Originally uploaded by madabandon.

I feel like I am hitting a wall. Not work-wise; my imagination is active and I am getting work done. But I feel disgruntled; my temper is short. I am impatient. Little things are bugging me. I am trying to relax my mind and settle down. Things will improve when school is closed for break, which will happen one week from today. On top of it, I am having the same annoying sinus condition that I had two weeks ago, and it makes me head hurt (my face, my teeth, my ears, my eyes) and makes me very sleepy. Or else maybe I have some giant brain tumor.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


You can't take a pass or miss out on an opportunity that's being offered. Your ability to see things in broad terms will help contribute to what someone else is trying to get off the ground. Money will come to you in an unusual way.


Originally uploaded by madabandon.

If my memory is correct then this is my first-grade picture. Note the tie. My mom sure had snappy taste, no?

I never really had any confidence about my appearance, nor do I still. I was not cool enough as a kid, although I dwelt at the edge by high school. In college I felt like some bumpkin, surrounded as I was by so many sophisticated private-school kids. No amount of positive reinforcement really convinced me that I was not a dork. I still suspect it of myself, although thankfully I have reached the age where "dorkiness" itself does not really apply any more.

When, in the past, I have been hit on I always am suspicious on a certain level. Why has my confidence, if it ever was, been so beaten down?

Even writing this, I feel like I might just be soliciting reassurance, rather than just stating a simple truth.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

patsy on the shelf

patsy on the shelf
Originally uploaded by madabandon.

I have not posted a picture of Patsy for a while now, so here she is. This was taken yesterday. She is quite a silly beauty.

It was Y's birthday on Thursday so we went to dinner at Patois on Smith Street. I gave him a Jasper Morrison lamp, a beautiful white globe, very simple. Then last night we ate at Natori, one favorite place, but it was not as good as it usually is so we made up for it by pigging out on pastries from the Japanese pastry shop on Saint Mark's. I find it so strange to walk that street; many years ago, in the bad old days of crime-ridden NYC, I was there a lot, post-collegiately cool. Now it just looks like a trashy playground for all the NYU students, since the East Village now seems like a giant housing complex for them. Ah, nostalgia. And the new Gwathmey monstrosity where the old Carl Fischer building was is an architectural tragedy.

Friday, December 08, 2006


75 Henry
Originally uploaded by madabandon.

One might wonder why I seem so concerned with money, with rich vs. poor, with the evils of capitalism as I see them. But the reason is fairly simple, and comes from my own history.

When I was young and my parents were still together, my father had graduated third in his class at U. Penn law school, one of the top law schools in the country. My mother was also an alumna of Barnard, another "elite" school. The town where they moved after my father's law school was small and provincial, and most people there were blue-collar workers, so my parents were at the top of the socio-economic hierarchy. My father became a partner at a very old prestigious law firm in Philadelphia, and I imagined he made a very good income. There were no money concerns that I could tell. My mother had her thoroughbred horses, our house was nice (although quite humble by the standards of people in more affluent towns). We were not denied opportunities because of lack of money.

Since I didn't know any wealthy people at that time, all I could figure was that my family was comfortable, that money was never an issue; my father was one of the first people I had known to buy the then-exotic Audi sedan from Germany.

But when my father and mother split, quite acrimoniously, it was as if the plug had been pulled. I don't know the specifics of the financial arrangements, but suddenly there was no money for piano lessons. There was no money for much of anything. Often my father would "forget" to send my mother her monthly check. Because she had been out of the work force for almost fifteen years--she had last worked as a teacher and editor--my mom could not find a job that paid a decent salary. This lack of money made my mother very tense, and she made no efforts to hide her distress from my brother and sister and me. So I developed this sense of how tenuous things can be; how in an instant you can seemingly have no worries, and suddenly you are sure the electricity will be turned off.

I should really get over it. I have come a long way. But when my mother died she had almost nothing. I still have a lot of anger toward my father for putting us all through that ordeal. But I have mellowed about it. I am an adult, responsible and self-reliant. And that is the past.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


Originally uploaded by madabandon.

Now that it is cold, and considering how overstretched I am, my instinct is to hibernate. In an attempt to do so I am sleeping much more than usual, and I like it. I have not had insomnia in a while. Quite the opposite. All I want to do is crawl into bed and sleep.

I have a theory about creativity and depression that is not at all scientific but rather more spiritual. Maybe some creative people become vessels for the feelings and pain that are in the air, free radicals that most people are able to avoid. The creative person becomes a sort of emotional psychic. Sounds implausible? I wonder.

When I hear that a friend, or anyone actually, is sad or lonely or having a bad time, I feel it deeply. And because I am a sponge in that way, it is no wonder that I get depressed. But the depression has an up side, because I try to balance it by creating things that defy it and its cohorts.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

big day tomorrow:

You have the world by the tail and you are ready to put things to rest. You can make changes that will alter the course of your life. This is a great day to check out something you've always wanted to do.

blank stare

Originally uploaded by madabandon.

Today my mind is in such a muddle that the best thing I can do is just stare blankly at the wall. Like a kind of meditation.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

more money, more money

In this Sunday's NEW YORK TIMES magazine there is a one-page interview with Tan Dun, the composer who wrote the score for "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," among other things. He has been in the US for decades. He is very famous now. The interviewer asks him about money, since the movie score brought him great wealth. He replies that it really does not matter how much money one has. There is little difference between making 100K and one million dollars a year. He does note that there is a "difference for the poor." It kills me when rich artists claim that money makes no difference to them. In the same interview, when asked where he lives, he tells of his six-floor house in Chelsea. I am sure there is no difference to him between his six-floor house and a tiny studio. Yeah, right. At least my teacher, the first composer to ever win a MacArthur "Genius" award, acknowledged that it was a hell of a lot better to have money than to not have it. "At least you don't have to worry about how you are going to pay the rent or eat," he said. I am sure Tan Dun did not become a composer to get rich. Only a fool would. But be real. I don't believe for a minute that he is not happy to have his big house and his fancy clothes. Tell the truth!


trolley (III)

I am listening to NPR, to Studio 360, and Kay Jamison is being interviewed about bipolar disorder, depression and creativity. She explains that in mild manic states a person is disinhibited, and creativity explodes. There is a wild urge to create. Creative people tend to be introspective to begin with, and the creative person who has episodes of hypomania which lead to the creation of new work. I know that this is true of me. Such is the dilemma that confronts people with bipolar disorder and/or depression. Does the medication I take reduce my imagination? I know that before I was on meds I wrote a lot more. But I was also utterly tormented so much of the time that I found it harder to get through the days. When I am depressed, I am not productive. What do I do? This is something I have been thinking about a lot lately.

Yesterday I had a great meeting with my collaborators on OEDIPUS AT COLONUS. It was nice being back at Vassar, although the weather sucked. I realize how lucky I am to have been a student there. It was life-changing. And now, to be working as a peer with two of my favorite professors, is a thrill. So it was a fruitful trip. And I am energized to get back to work.

Friday, December 01, 2006

money money money money money

This essay on the editorial page of today's NEW YORK TIMES made me very sad. More and more I am frightened by the way our society seems so money-driven, that every choice becomes an economic one, and that the short-term gain seems always to win out over more abstract, long-term considerations. Why do car makers continue to manufacture gas-guzzling SUVs? The other day, when moving the car, I asked a man in his Range Rover if he wouldn't mind turning the engine off, since he was sitting in the car, windows open, with clearly no need for heat or air-conditioning. His reply? "I can afford the gas."