FADE IN: two men.
And then I would be a cis hetero male.
What does that mean?
I am a person whose gender identity and biological sex assigned at birth, align.
So, no more calling yourself straight guy?
There’s also agender; we refer to them as “them”. They see themselves as existing without gender.
And we have a queer and a couple of lesbians.
Gone are the days when I used to say, “we’re here, we’re queer, let’s go have a beer.”
Yeah, you can’t say that anymore cuz you’re not queer and you’re making a joke at the expense of a queer.
But I’m not, really.
No, I get it, it’s just times are changing.
FADE IN: two women sit facing the ocean.
It was 5 days of hell. You don’t even know. And we’re not even completely out of it yet. I can never tell anyone what we’ve done. I mean, this is unorthodox in America. Oh, it kills me. We’ve had to endure this alone, not even my mother wanted a part of it. Listening to him ugly cry for up to 40 minutes before we could intervene – it sounds like I’m torturing my child, but believe me there’s a method to the madness. Five days and then he finally slept through the night. I wanted to run in and stop this, smother him with all my love, but that would push us back to square one. I don’t even know if I’m doing the right thing. I blamed that Nazi sleep trainer every day. But I did what she asked. God, she’s tough.
She had to be or you wouldn’t get through it.
I think she’s Argentinian but she has a German accent, I swear she does. She was relentless and so unempathetic. But her methods worked. Five days and now he sleeps 12 hours straight.
And how’s he doing?
Great! So much better. He’s so happy now and energized when he’s awake.
He was so cranky at first —
— Yeah, that’s cuz he wasn’t sleeping. We both weren’t.
He’s a trouper.
You know, this experience has shaken me. If it took him 5 days to completely rearrange a structure that was in place since birth; five days to change his life and he did it? Imagine what we’re capable of. If we only just commit. This little boy is an example that there really is no excuses.
Yup. Can you sleep through the night?
Not yet. I’m still worried I’ve done something wrong. I hope that changes..
FADE IN: a couple who have been arguing.
Let’s pretend for a while. Let’s be two different people with different pasts and different heartaches.
What are you talking about?
Let’s forget we’re fighting and pretend we don’t know each other. “Hey there,” (he smiles)
“How’s the coffee?”
I’m not playing this stupid game
“That’s a pretty dress.”
“Thank you,” (she mutters as she rolls her eyes)
“Got something special happening today?”
“Nope, just waiting for my boyfriend to wake the fuck up.”
“Oh, he’s a late sleeper?”
“No, he’s a dickhead who can’t see what’s in front of him.”
“Well, if he forgets to tell you, know that you heard it from me: you look beautiful.”
(she looks away)
“You are beautiful.”
Stop it (she looks away again)
“Can I get you a blueberry muffin to go with your coffee?”
Name: Nick from San Francisco
Occupation: student of hair
Tattoos on his face
Why the lapse in time? I relapsed, went back to rehab. Yeah, I’m 1.5 years sober, third time now. Did you know 3% who leave rehab go back to using, and only 1% kick it after 5 years? Yeah, it’s no joke. Opioids are the real thing.
I mean. When you’re on it. It’s like you’re being hugged by God. The feeling. I mean, I can’t explain it. But here’s the thing: the first few times, you get that God-hugging feeling, but then, for all the other times, you’re trying to feel normal. You’re doing what it takes to avoid the detox feeling. And that feeling, is like death, 10x. It’s the worst kinda flu that just doesn’t go away. I mean, it does after 3 weeks but that feels like an eternity. We all dread it so we keep using. It’s living in hell on a hamster wheel.
You know, I think that’s what happened to Michael J and Prince and even that actor guy, Phillip Hoffman. They detoxed, they tried to kick the game, they went back to the same dose they were taking before — bang, bang — it tips them over the edge. Heroin makes you sleep, so they went to sleep.
I know so many people who’ve died in my life. Oh man. My girl, her boyfriend – I mean, they never really broken up cuz he died – his death rocked her. And she was a user, that’s how we met. She was in a rehab in Milwaukee and then transferred to the San Francisco one and yeah, that’s how we met. She’s one month ahead of me but she’s really miles beyond me. I think it’s the combination of having a rock like her, and purpose. That keeps me outta trouble.
Don’t think my parents are whack. The two of them are the only sober ones out of a family of users. We have a good relationship. We talk every day. You gotta understand, opioids they’re non-discriminative. It’ll swallow anyone who wants to dance. Anyone. You too. [he shyly laughs]
FADE IN: Two women, one smokes.
A: I was in a Uber car, well, really Lyft but you get what I mean. The driver, Jamal, asked me what I do. I said nothing. No really, I said, “Nothing,” all nonchalant and shit. He took a second to understand, much like me, really, I mean who says that?
I said nothing. Ugh. What kind of despicable human, am I?
A week later, I’m at this yoga retreat and someone asked me again. I was just about to answer Nothing, when I stopped myself and took a sip of my organic hot apple cider, and pretended I didn’t hear them. Or maybe I pretended to react like I was still thinking about what we just talked about. I looked stupid, is all. Well, if I’m not sure what your intentions are I’m going to blow you off.
[beat, she smokes]
Why do I do that? I know damn well who I am. Why is it hard to say it, “Who me? Oh, sure, I’m an Artist, with a capital A.” Or, “What do I do? I do greatness. I am greatness.”
[she laughs, and smokes]
You know, Mohammed Ali would say that, “Who me? I’m the greatest.” So why can’t I?
B: You can.
Continue reading “dip your toe”
All at once,
Hours of waiting and staring out into the tarmac abyss.
(apparently that gives the brain a break)
My eyes seem to drift into the thoughts and experiences the heart and brain have not processed.
Coffee (which I don’t drink) in hand
Bread (crumbs everywhere) on lap and in mouth
Peanut butter (hard to come by here) wedged between teeth.
I look around at my fellow travelers, and think about my innards.
Body rested and yet tired, all at once.
Funny how duplicitous life can be.
I yawn, my eyes like oil paint.
What does it mean to get to know a country?
Is it the food, gifts, tour guides and destinations?
Is it spending quality time with the locals?
Sitting in a park, map and camera away, and observing?
Is it – click! – social updates of Look at me! moments?
Can you say you’ve had your fill?
These worldly experiences speed past like the abruptness of an alarm.
And do you return?
Vidal, our driver, asks us as we approach the Departures zone.
Please say you have,
It’s a long way back.
FADE IN: woman and man.
She: I was in a Uber car, well, really Lyft but you get what I mean. Jamal, my driver, asked me what I do. I said nothing. No really, I said, “Nothing,” all nonchalant and shit. He took a second to understand, much like me, really, I mean who says that?
I said nothing. Ugh. What kind of despicable human, am I?
A week later, I’m at this yoga retreat and someone asked me again. I was just about to answer Nothing, when I stopped myself and took a gulp of my piping hot apple cider, burning my mouth. And I pretended I didn’t hear him, or maybe I pretended to react like I was still thinking about what we just talked about. I looked stupid, is all. Well, if I’m not sure what your intentions are, I’m going to blow you off.
I know damn well who I am. Why is it hard to say it, “Who me? Oh, sure, I’m an artist.” Or, “What do I do? I do greatness. I am greatness.”
Mohammed Ali would say “I’m the greatest,” so why can’t I?
Continue reading “the great unknown”