Those moments …
“There are moments you remember all your life. There are moments you wait for and dream of all your life. This is one of those moments…”
While that line is from a song in Yentl, it covers what’s been going on lately for me. I know it’s been a while since I’ve been in the blog chair. It’s something I find that I can’t do – just blog for the sake of blogging. I have to want to say something. This one took me a while to gestate and finally take shape.
Thinking back on it though, I don’t think it was because I didn’t know what I wanted to say. But because it was about those moments that are sort of milestones in your life (that sometimes come and go so quickly you scarce sense that they have any real meaning until you reflect upon them much later). I think that I knew I was going to write about them but it seemed the universe wanted me to wait a bit. It seemed that it had moments for me that I needed to observe. Things I needed to take stock of that were milestone moments. To quite simply not be in such a rush to produce.
As a writer, I am purely an artist. I don’t give a damn about whether my story is at the top of the best seller list. I wouldn’t mind it, but it’s not requisite. I’ll publish regardless. At some point I watched as my author friends publish with established boutique houses and think wow. Not because I begrudged them their success at getting a story sold. I am quite happy for them. But it was a moment where I realized I can’t compromise my voice. The stories I write must be what they are. If it means a real slow burn to find readers, well, so be it. I will persevere and write what I want to write. Uncompromising in tone and measure. No punches pulled, as they say. Well, as I say, really.
So yeah, moments.
And some may not have to do with my writing at all. I had one such moment with my granddaughter a week ago.
It was a random movie night at home. Just the grandpa’s and her. Mom was out on a date. What did the granddaughter choose? Some mindless chick flick? Some bombastic super hero or sci fi romp? No.
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That was her choice. And I couldn’t have been more proud or pleased with her. So was my husband. So we sat and watched it. It was one of those moments where I watched her as much as I watched the movie. I watched the idyllic world she had as a child fall away as she realized the horrors that people can put upon one another. In a very real way, it was a sad moment. The veil was lifted. She saw the worst in humanity (well, the worst she’s witnessed so far).
It was a moment.
Loss of childhood innocence. A reckoning that had been long in coming, when you realize for the first time the world is not the safe place you thought it was as a child.
Definitely a moment. And she chose it.
The next moment? Another movie (sensing a theme here?):
To Russia With Love.
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No, not the James Bond flick of old – that’s FROM Russia With Love.
In this amazing documentary (produced by out athlete, Johnny Weir – amongst others) we encounter Vladislav Slavskiy. His story is emblematic of what our queer Russian brothers and sisters are suffering in that country. His story broke my heart. It also gave me hope. It was a revelatory moment. Why? Because I’ve always wanted to do something for them back in Russia, but my fear was that any communication from the west might make things worse for them. But Vlad’s story does have a happy ending – probably unique when it comes to our queer Russian brothers and sisters. Why was this a “moment”?
Well, because I became Facebook friends with him. I asked and he accepted. I was overjoyed at the prospect of interacting with him. I made a connection. It was just before his birthday. On that day I wished him a happy birthday and thanked him for being my new friend. He liked the post. It was a small accomplishment, but I was happy.
So about a week ago, I finally worked up the courage to ask him if he would come onto the podcast to tell his story to our listeners. Amazingly, he said yes.
A DEFINITE MOMENT. A MILESTONE. One that said loudly – Don’t fuck this up, Baz! This is a gift.
So we record that special ep tomorrow. For the first time in my life, I am nervous. I’ve performed in front of thousands on the stage and not batted an eye or had so much as one simple butterfly roaming around in my stomach. But speaking with Vlad; trying to relate his story? Yeah, I got a whole bag full of butterflies going on in there.
I want to get this right for so many reasons. None the least of which, that my granddaughter watched the movie with me and is just as excited about my talking to Vlad as I am. So yeah, young ears are listening to what I am about to do. Definite responsibility. She’s listening. She’s watching grandpa step into a very important place to help someone tell their story. And she’s a questioning queer youth – so it’s doubly important that I get it right.
When I met my very first fan (beyond my family, that is) – Michael Rumsey. You brilliant and loyal man, you!
Like the moment I met Jayne Lockwood and Vance Bastian. Two people I love immensely and can’t get enough of. They’re like a drug I don’t ever want an intervention for. They were definite moments. Milestones. The podcast is a testament to that.
Like the moment last Friday when I got to circle back with Jay Brannan at his concert here in San Francisco and thank him personally for allowing me to quote his works in my book – Angels of Mercy (I am still reeling over that generosity). He remembered the book when I spoke to him after the concert. He was so generous with his time and his attentions about my works. But that’s Jay. He gets the self-promotion – even when I know all he wants to do is go to sleep and rest. But it was a moment of accomplishment that I could provide him with a copy of the finished work. Another moment. One I’ll cherish.
I plan to get back into the blogging chair more. It’s been a while. I need to do this. Not everyday. I don’t want to ramble on about stuff that really doesn’t have much meaning. I’d rather do it when it counts.
Until next time …
Growing up in the Kool-Aid house…
“I’d rather have a crap load of kids over my house because at least I’ll know what my kids are up to…”*
So I got a rather interesting response from yesterdays emotive vomit (I really was all over the place with that). I swear I try to keep it in check but hey, that’s why I called the blog Errata – cause it’s chock full of musings, errors and all, meanderings, and down right what the fuckeries all over the damned place.
It isn’t meant to show off my writing prowess.
It’s more of a series of brain flatulence or random stream of consciousness of whatever strikes me.
So anyway, back to the comment from my last entry – I brought up my wacky crazy family life (not that it necessarily detracts from your ball of whacked that may be your family – just sayin’ I got my own that made me the overall freak fest I can be from time to time).
So I guess there comes a time to acknowledge that.
We were the Kool-Aid house – and if you need a clarification of that pop-culture ref then you probably ain’t gonna get what I’m on about in this blog entry.
When we were young we had all of the kids over to our house from the neighborhood. It wasn’t unusual to have 10 or 12 of us running around getting into all kinds of strangeness. I mean once we held a funeral for a cockroach. Yeah, a cockroach. I mean, who does that?
We did…that’s who. It was more about the spectacle of a Roman Catholic styled funeral and the pageantry of everyone who attended and the morose feelings the assigned mourners had. The matchbox coffin was rather inspired as I recall it – covered in tin foil and carefully crafted marker designs. This roach went out in style!
Then we got bored with it and tossed the damned thing on top of an ant hill and watched those fireworks for the better part of an hour as those ants devoured its carcass.
We also decided one particular summer (I think I was like 11 or 12 at the time) where we all (the kids on our street) had decided enough was enough – we went on chore strike. We outfitted our bikes and wagons with big propaganda signs protesting doing chores (even if we really copped to the fact that our parents were rather generous with our allowances – we were just bored and it was something interesting to do – commiserate with our union brethren, ya know?).
Yeah, we were a bit strange. Goonies didn’t begin to cover it – though I will admit that when that movie came out we totally thought we got ripped off. Only we were far more gooned out than those normal assed kids were. They went Spielberg Hollywood. We were the ones keepin’ it real.
We had the whole homie swagger goin’ on. We were freakishly goonie – but we were cool doin’ it.
So yeah, my being gay – coming out to my parents – eh, not so much of a out of the box thought. Not that I was swishy or anything but my parents just loved us unconditionally and (more importantly) meant it! It was more important for me to be happy with who I was than for whatever hopes they had for me.
I remember my parents saying that – “If you’re happy and your not hurting anyone else or they aren’t hurting you, then I’m good with it.”
Cool, huh? Yeah, my parents rocked.
That’s not to say that everything was a bed of roses… well. it sorta was but, as with those beloved flowers, there were thorns along the way. In fact, some things that tripped us up were buried and germinated back then that now, some forty some odd years later, are only just sprouting and quickly testing the ties that bind us.
One of my sibs is having a tough time. He’s the middle kid with serious middle child issues. They’ve always been there. They’ve always been thorny to deal with. He often masked it with humor – a good sign that there’s an underlying problem.
Robin Williams had his own demons to grapple with. My brother does too. He has a great sense of humor but it had a definite edge to it. Something that now has led to some serious and debilitating outcomes that the family is trying to sort out along with him.
I hope he comes out of his current trauma a stronger person. It’s gonna get a helluva lot darker before he ever sees some light. It’s not a good situation. I find I think about him a lot. We aren’t close (not my doing – he pushed nearly all of us away over the years). I want more than anything to be there for him, but I know I am the last person he would ever want there. It’s just how it has played out. I have had very little part of his life over the last twenty years. I’ve kept in touch through my sister and mother (dad passed 15 years ago) to see what he’s up to as they live in a different city from where I am in the SF Bay Area.
He’s always felt the need to compete with me (though I often said that out doing him was never my goal – I compete with one person in life – ME). I am tough enough on myself, believe me, I don’t even need anyone else to bring it. I do it enough all on my own, little brother.
But it still hurt that he pushed me away. To be completely sidelined to just one email a year if I was lucky. Often even that wouldn’t happen. The message was clear – I wasn’t wanted in his life. Message received.
But I wish nothing but love and hope that he makes it through okay. That he’ll be all right. I don’t want him to go through any pain – but I know he will.
I don’t know if I could’ve done something different. If I could’ve but didn’t then I would wish I could go back and set it right. But I know I can’t and I know it won’t happen. But it doesn’t detract from that singular wish.
Wow, that went down a dark road, didn’t it? I swear sometimes I don’t know where I’ll end up with these things. I start with one thing and the stream just takes me downstream to some end goal.
I didn’t start this out to go dark. I swear – I guess it’s just where my heads at, at this point.
Goes to show ya, it never hurts to spread the love… even if it’s from a distance and over digital bit and bytes.
Love ya, bro.
PS – * The quote in the title came from my dad when he was asked why we had so many damned kids at our house. My dad rocked.