Sunday, April 30, 2006

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Friday, April 28, 2006


One of my musical heroes, who I've revered since I was a kid, has released a new album that you can listen to online. I hope someone blasts this 24 hours a day in front of the White House, so loud that the windows rattle and George and Laura can't sleep for days.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

concrete and barbed wire

concrete and barbed wire (with ivy)

This is a picture of the back of a grand brownstone in my neighborhood, one that I walk past almost every day. The barbed wire keeps the rabble from stealing into the garden.

As much as I love this neighborhood for its beauty and quiet, I am growing less and less happy living here these days. Most people think I am crazy when I talk of leaving. But I don't like what is happening here. It has become a province of the entitled rich. The days of an artist/teacher buying--or renting--a place here are over, unless said person is independently wealthy or, as is more and more common, supported by parents. I am of the generation/socio-economic class which believed, more or less, that once you were eighteen you were on your own.

The problem is not the wealth of the people necessarily, but the attitude that goes along with it. And not only do I face it every day on the street--as the Range Rovers and those absurd Mercedes armored-car type things rush by, or the hordes of nannies pushing absurdly bloated strollers with fat tires (the SUVs of the kiddy world?) that run me off the sidewalk--but at my school, where the majority of the student body comes from that same world of privilege. It wears me down.

Couple this with the constant and increasingly unbearable pain in my back (which, despite the chiropractor and the exercises and yoga, persists) and my mood has generally been dark. Last night I went to bed at 8:30 and slept until 6:30 this morning. Not a good sign.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


From my office window:

from the office window 1
from the office window 2

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Today is my busiest teaching day. In addition, I have to move the car, which means I have to sit in it for one hour or else I will get a $65 parking ticket. I also had an appointment with the chiropractor, and oh how painful it was, but how much better I feel now!

my desk at work

Interspersed were trips home to walk Mabel (I only live a few blocks from the school) and various errands, xeroxing (new music for my students), and preparation for tomorrow, when a colleague from another school is going to come and watch my jazz classes.

** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

I have been reflecting for the last few days, at least, about gay men and sex and self-destructive behavior. So many guys are having unprotected sex; I hear about it from all sorts of publications, from guys I know, and from the surprising and upsetting increase in the number of gay men getting HIV. Now we have probably all had our lapses and our times of irresponsibility, but there are guys who knowingly and repeatedly put themselves at risk and even hope that they will get HIV. People say things like "I want to have fun while I can" or "I'm bound to get it sooner or later so who cares?" This upsets me a lot. I won't get all high-handed because I have been stupid and careless myself. But something has gone way wrong in the world--not just this, but so many other things too--and it bewilders me.

Monday, April 24, 2006



Going back to teach today I realized how lame my break was; I spent all of last week dealing with my back problem. I wish I could report that it is all better but it is not; it is about 50% improved, and hopefully swimming today will stretch it out; yesterday I swam for a short period and it felt much better afterwards, but the relief was temporary. This is a real warning to me to start doing yoga more seriously, because as the chiropractor said, my flat feet will continue to wreak havoc on my knees and back unless I seriously implement steps to fix things.

Oh well. Another vacation that was not really a vacation. But I could not have afforded to go anywhere anyway, and I had a lot of thinking to do.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

his house

From Joe.My.God:

Dear Joe,

I found your blog today after googling for items about Exodus, the ex-gay organization you wrote about yesterday. I am a mom in Texas and I keep an eye on whatever Exodus is doing, because you see Joe, I found some of their materials among my son's personal items after he took his life in 2002. Joe, he was only 19 years old and he was just the sweetest boy you'd ever want to know. My son had problems, yes, but his father and I (we are divorced) both feel that the Exodus people took advantage of his confusion about who he was. Even though he knew that we loved him, they helped him hate himself. Please don't stop writing about Exodus and the terrible, terrible harm they do to young people. I miss my boy so much.

Just a mother, Texas
Ok, I read this and almost stopped breathing.

I remember when I was about sixteen and a few of my friends from the swim team started going to this meeting at a church called "His House" and I didn't really know what went on there except that it was a church. They kept pestering me to go so one night my friend Sue and I got really stoned and then went and ate cookies while people talked about how being saved had changed their lives. It was all kids around my age, a lot of whom I knew from school.


terra cotta 2

Friday, April 21, 2006

the present tangle


So this is representative of my life's condition. There is a lot of work to be done. I am good at these sort of cleaning-up projects, though.

Thursday, April 20, 2006



I have decided, after extensive contemplation, to make some major changes in my life. I want to improve my health and while I am in good shape because of swimming I want to work on my flexibility, eat more regularly, and improve my energy level. I am re-focusing my attention on my work, become the independent person that I used to be, not be dependent on relationships to maintain my balance. I need to find balance on my own. This has entailed some tough decisions, and I have hurt some people. I feel like I am cold when it comes to these kind of transactions.

I was having dinner before hearing Shostakovich Tenth at Avery Fisher Hall. I had dinner with R, a writer friend. I was telling him about this coldness (which is not just my perception; I have been accused of this more times than I wish to be). He said "of course you're cold. You're an aquarius." R is an aquarius too. And I remembered: we are supposed to be remote on a personal level, though we are sensitive and concerned about the state of things. I am not proud of this.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

me, today

april 17 06

This picture was actually taken yesterday. But I look the same today.

Things are in turmoil. I have the constant and intense pain in my back. I saw a dr. yesterday but he creeped me out. He crossed some boundaries. I should of just ran the hell out screaming. I will not go back to him (surprise!). I found another highly-recommended doctor in the neighborhood and will see him tomorrow. In the meantime the pain is relentless and I just sit here and wait it out.

I am given to worrying, and I am very worried about a person who is deeply important to me, fundamental, in my heart forever. And I must be strong for him. And I confused about too many things, and how it is that you think that you experienced so much difficulty and hard situations that you should get a break from time to time and I find it doesn't happen for me. But enough complaining. I will be strong, I will support my friend in any way possible, I will deal with whatever situation results.

And B, I thank you for your ear and your good advice.

Monday, April 17, 2006

some other spring

pink eye

Spring brings beautiful flowers. In my life it often brings upheaval too.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

problem solved

My cats eat on the table because Mabel would eat all their food if I served them on the floor. But my table is constantly crusted with little dribbled bits of Fancy Feast. Gross. I put a glass top on the table to make it easier to clean, but still the problem persisted. Finally yesterday I went to Target (driving to Gateway Plaza in deepest Brooklyn, an ordeal that I would rather not repeat) and bought two large plastic mats to cover the table when they eat. Finally one problem solved.

fine dining

** ** ** ** ** **

I have spent the last few days trying to let my back recover; I strained my lower back, already messed up from three herniated disks, moving equipment at school. This morning it felt considerably better. However, about twenty minutes ago I was bending over to pick up a bag full of heavy books and I felt a wrenching pull and I could not stand up straight, was forced to sit on the floor in tears with pain. Now I can't stand upright and it is absolutely killing me.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Friday, April 14, 2006

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

something better

bee and flower 2


I received an email from

Dear MoveOn member,

Yesterday's New Yorker quotes a number of high-ranking administration and military officials on the possibility of pre-emptive war with Iran. Not only do the officials say war is really on the table, they report that the Bush administration is making plans to use nuclear weapons.

Iran may well pose a threat. But people as diverse as Richard Clarke, Hillary Clinton, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff agree that a nuclear attack—or even threatening one—is a terrible idea. Yet the White House insists on keeping the "nuclear option" on the table. And according to one member of Congress, "there's no pressure from Congress" for a more diplomatic route.

What is next? I have never been so frightened by our government, and so incensed at the lack of public outcry against the most violent, careless and misguided President we have had.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


I feel happy today.

daffodil 1


After having dinner with B last night, I rode home on the subway listening to nostalgic songs on my iPod, my eyes closed. When I got out of the station and was walking home I was struck by a realization. What I really want more than just about anything is to lie in a meadow on a warm afternoon and look above me at the treetops moving slowly in the breeze. I could stay that way forever I think. I think I will try to think about this whenever I am feeling stressed or freaked out.

And right now I am listening to Bach's aria "Schlummert Ein" sung by Lorraine Hunt Lieberson. It is unbearably beautiful.


Monday, April 10, 2006


My mood today: contemplative


Sunday, April 09, 2006


white flower 2

Today I feel relief. I spent all afternoon yesterday (kept chained to my desk by the cold rain outside) figuring out my taxes. I finished them, filed them, and they flew right out of my head. And today the sun is shining and the sky is bright blue.

Saturday, April 08, 2006



I survived a stressful week. I am tired, and yesterday, moving equipment for my jazz band's performance at the Puck Building, I made my already-trashed back even worse so that today I can barely move. So, immobile, I sat at this computer and did my taxes. Now they are done and I hope there are no hideous errors. But if there are it is too late because they are on their way to the IRS.

Last night after my students performed I made a hasty exit. I was exhausted and had no desire to schmooze with all the alums, parents, colleagues, and others that were swarming around. I was annoyed with them; while my students gave a really stellar performance, they were yakking away rudely. Even the students themselves noticed it and felt bad. But they did a fantastic job, and their hard work, and mine, paid off.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

set in stone

terra cotta

The college acceptances and rejections are flooding in. Our students did quite well, as usual, quite a few of them headed to the ivy leagues and to other vastly prestigious colleges and universities. I know these students quite well. I have been teaching many of them for years. And I can't help but think back to my senior year. I had many friends who were quite bright. Many of them did not go to college. We didn't know about so many things. Most of my friends' parents did not go to college and so we did not have parents who groomed us for much beyond some kind of working existence; we didn't know the elite world at all. And I look at some students, and I think about what might have happened if they did not grow up in NYC, if they attended some vast mediocre Pennsylvania public school like mine, if they didn't have college counselors to guide them every step of the way, nurturing them, bargaining with colleges, having direct access to admissions officers... And these students, mine, will mostly do quite well; those that don't will likely still have the haven of their family's money and connections; they won't go on welfare, lose their home, live month to month.

I've been thinking alot about these issues lately, about how money sets people apart from one another, how our society has become more and more stratified, good opportunities less available to those without wealth and connections. And I think how sad this is.

And I don't know if I should consider myself lucky or not to have gotten away from the provinces. I will never quite belong here in the land of the wealthy and secure. But I never felt I belonged where I grew up either. I have always been an alien.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

I read this in another blog...

The morning music portion of the Black Party is an entirely different vibe than what precedes. The sexual urgency and the aggressive cruising is removed. The men on the dancefloor are noticeably older. Many of these older guys sleep all night and arrive at the Roseland specifically for the morning music portion. We smile and acknowledge each other as friends, even though we only ever see each other at this time. We are survivors, all of us, a fact underscored, amplified, by the 20, 25, 30-year old tunes being played, each song removing us to a place and time back when we danced with The Lost. In the music, we find our truths, we find our souls, we find ourselves, we find The Lost. It's not uncommon to notice someone dancing with tears rolling down his face. Still, he dances. He dances in memory, in tribute. He dances with his hands up to heaven, channeling love, channeling spirit. He dances with a head full of photographs, full of touches. Certain songs may make his heart ache, his throat tighten, his tears flow....but he dances to that motherfucking record. This is no somber requiem dance, it's a smiling-through-tears celebration of memories. I've told friends that I go to church once a year, and it takes place during the last hours of the Black Party.

now I wish it were night


NIGHT (detail) acrylic and oil on canvas 24 x 24"

I have fallen back into depression. Trying to cope I went to bed last night at ten and slept fitfully until 8:30 this morning, woke in a terrible mood, was ready to lose my mind because of cat-feeding, cat vomiting, Mabel barking, a million e-mails from school about an upcoming event that I am providing music for, unable to find things, ready to scream, my back and legs killing me (arthritis). Then, walking to school, the sky turned black and the rain poured. I got soaked and was freezing. After I got there it began to snow furiously; the snow lasted an hour and a half or so, and now, in the late afternoon, the sun has returned.

Because I felt so anxious, stretched taught like a rubber band about to snap, and because I was facing a long and quite busy day, I took two clonopin. This relieved my anxiety and I felt more human, but now I am so tired I can barely move. I would go swim to energize myself, but my finger is still healing and I don't want it to become infected. I would like to go to bed now, but I have to move my car and do some work. But it will be an early night, and I hope that tomorrow I will wake in a better mood than today.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Money and its Discontents...

I was talking to a colleague and she relayed a story to me. A parent of two students in our school complained to another mother that she had no privacy in her home because the nanny, the cook, the housekeeper and her private yoga instructor were always underfoot.

It doesn't take a genius to figure out a solution to her problem.

** ** ** ** **

The subject of money is difficult for me. Living in New York, one is constantly aware of the various layers of class and status determined by how much money one has. People here lead lifestyles that are foreign to my own experience, and I see them, teach them, work with them, and converse with them every day.

I don't resent their money, because I have chosen a path that will not lead to material wealth. But I think of the difficulties I have because of my financial situation--and many people have it far, far worse than me--and how the wealthy may have many problems of their own, but their anxieties are not about paying the monthly bills, or what happens if I get sick and can't work, or what happens if I lose my apartment, blah blah blah.

One thing that rankles, though, is the large number of artists who are independently wealthy. Many very successful composers I know have family money and support, and thus they can single-mindedly pursue the hustle that leads to performances, grants, record contracts, and the like. Those of us who have to earn our own living rarely have the time or energy to hustle (which is an almost full-time job in itself). It is easy to be an artist when you don't have to worry about how to pay the rent. At least I make my living through music. I don't have an office day job. For that I am thankful.

Monday, April 03, 2006


bright red

Last night my kitchen looked like a crime scene, with red blood all over the place. I could barely sleep because my finger hurt so much.

Sunday, April 02, 2006


red glow

I was washing dishes and cut my left index finger badly on a very sharp knife. Blood was everywhere. Now it hurts.

almost perfect

white flower with orange

It is a near-perfect spring day. The sky is a bright blue, no clouds. The air is crisp but the sun is warm. The streets are busy with people who have come to stroll around my neighborhood. This is a problem on nice days here in Brooklyn Heights. We get crowds of tourists, of people from all over the city who drive here, making parking for us residents impossible. They all go to the promenade for the view of Manhattan. So why am I sitting here, inside? Because all my life I have had a kind of spring-based agoraphobia. I don't want to walk around among the crowds.