Monday, May 26, 2008

I'm Going Back to 505


I know, I've been talking about telling you about Delhi (not her real name) for some time now, but I still can't find that picture of us. So no Delhi story. I also can't find the snake brooch Jody gave me, which really upsets me. The weird thing is, Delhi recently emailed me, just when I was getting ready to write about her. I haven't heard from her in at least 15 years. Strange.
As stories go, hers is an interesting one to tell, because of her obsession with Johnathan. I used to get so frustrated with her about this, because he, at first, would pull me aside and whisper his confusion and discomfort to me about Delhi.
"Why is she acting like this, Brian?! Why is she so in love with me? You gotta do something!" He begged, his face dripping with desperation.
I say at first, because the look of dismay that clouded his face when we rounded the corner and approached his bar eventually was replaced with a look of acceptance, or maybe even a little bit of joy. Delhi could be a very persuasive gal, as well as a generous one. I know his pockets were never as full when he went home, as when she came around.
I was annoyed by her behavior, because I saw her advances toward him as unwelcome, so seemingly obviously unwelcome, and I found my experiences with that very extreme, in a scary way. When I was younger, I seemed to attract people who grew intensely found of me; who's dams would eventually burst into floods of emotion over me, that I guess I always secretly wanted, and expected.
Mainly, I saw way too much of myself in Delhi's behavior. I was blind to the fact that I acted toward Brad and Doug as she did toward Johnathan, but internally, on the inside, in my guts, in Fantasyland. I'd pay my admission and enter the gates and wander the grounds of If Only and What Could Have Been. I could spend hours there. And I did. I spent years there.
I could do it anywhere: laying in bed staring at the ceiling, while wandering the streets of Chicago, at work, in a bar, etc, etc. I knew it was expensive, in an emotional way, but it took me a long time to see it for what it really was- it's true cost was staggering.
But that was yet to come. As spring turned to summer, in 1989, I made many promises to myself, and I kept them as long as I could. The main promise I made was I would be happy, and if I wasn't, I faked it. I met a lot of fun new people, went to a lot of parties, taking care to not over do my imbibing, and lived my life as someone who loved them self would. I had to make up those rules for myself back then, I'm sure borrowing from my literary and musical heroes, because any sort of 'loving existence' was a dusty old thing, rolling around some forgotten corner in my head.
I was surprised at how easy it was for me to make those changes. I connected with people quickly, and my focus became talking with them and knowing them, instead of getting wasted or 'scoring' (anything and everything). I had my group at Berlin I danced with, and my group who I would wander the streets with til all hours, talking up a storm, and a group I would go with to parties and late night diners.
I used to think these were tenuous connections I had with these people, til I ran into one last year, and we picked up where we left off in 1990.
I would sit back in my mind, from time to time, while I was with them, and mull over how different they were from some of the people I had surrounded myself with of late: they had plans for their life that stretched past what was happening tonight, and looked at me like I had the same thoughts; they looked at me like they were excited for my future, because they knew it was going to be great.
So I made some plans for my life: I would save up and go to London and New York, and write more, and make more art.
I divorced myself of any physical intimate relationships, though, because the ones I was having in my head already took up all my energy. Though the relationships I'd had over the past couple years had ended in real life, I could not end them. Why? Did I need them to end differently? Was I looking for some loop hole, some sort of self-esteem loop hole? I'm sure I could write a list a mile long of whys.

I started to hang around my old friend Scot more, and we talked about getting an apartment together again. We were both experiencing major changes in our lives, and thought each other's daily company would be helpful. My apartment on Patterson held so many ghosts, and ghosts of a time in my life I needed to forget, I couldn't bear to spend any time there. In every corner lay a failure, and in every shadow hid a heartache. It was time to go.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Welcome to My Art Deco Dump


I hate reality. It's so fucking real. It's so easy to dig yourself into a happy little rut of non-reality that takes years to perfect and develop, only to do something stupid like stop using a tool that helps you do it. Be in denial, that is.
As much as I like to think I live my life with an awareness of who I really am, I just found out nothing can be further from the truth.
I stopped smoking about a month ago, and it shattered the illusion of thinking I have a pretty good understanding, as it's happening, of how I can use 'things' or 'activities' to disguise aspects about myself or my life I don't like, or can't deal with.
I don't know where I learned to do that, white-wash reality, self-medicate, hide from the truth, be afraid of the truth, or whatever the hell you want to call it, but for me it started at an early age, with sugar consumption.
My friends, Cathy, Sue and I would shoplift dozens of candy bars at a time each after school, in our neighborhood gas station/convenience store, and sit in the parking lot and eat every last one before heading home to face our dreaded realities, sugar-coating the lumps and bumps of our horrid junior high lives nicely. If we could have been doing shots of whiskey, we would have. But that didn't come til the next year.
We did this every day, the girls getting plumper, til the tough, greasy-haired Wisconsin-style cashier woman caught on to our little scam, and busted us.
I guess writing these posts dredges up things I had forgotten I can only deal with when I smoke. But ya gotta fight through it, right? Like Saint George and the dragon? Whatevs. Ricolas help.

If you saw my apartment, you'd think it was a dump. I've got nothing...but good taste. Oh, it's designed to perfection; 1920 meets 1950 meets 1970 in a 2000's kind of way, in White Stripes red, black and white, but it's a dump. Little has changed since my place was built, before G.D. electricity was invented, and it shows.
I am writing to you from LA, and, now that I think about it, the last time I wrote a post out of town, in NY, I wrote about the deco era as well.
I often wonder about the folks who lived through that time. It was a boon time for American, and many buildings were built in that style that seemed to define the 20th century. Was thew average person 'over it'? Did they roll their eyes at seeing yet another Art Deco building going up in their neighborhood?
I know I roll my eyes and spit in disgust when I see something new in my neighborhood that tries to look modern. It always seems to come across as cheap, or worse yet, derivative. I guess what really can annoy me about new constructions is that it usually destroys something old and interesting.
Though sometimes, they do get it right, like the house built on Wrightwood, just off Clark. It took them years to create it, and I watched it grow daily, inch by inch, for it was on my walk to work at the time. There is an ugliness to it, but the right kind of ugly.
"Ooo, that place is the right kind of ugly" I thought to myself when I heard President Clinton had dinner there. He wouldn't eat in any old dump. Even the years old pine trees were imported, and placed to look like their seeds just happen to land there, fifty years ago.

I'm guessing the people of the twenties marveled at being surrounded by so much new modernity, and felt they had an active hand in creating the twentieth century, by brushing off the excess design and darkness of the previous century, leaving the fruits of the desire to create a clean balance.
What inspires me, in the dawn of this new century, are homes donated and built by volunteers for people who need them, and how the younger generations in my family desire to be apart of that world, like I was drawn to be apart of the creative world.
And the ultra-hyper modern public spaces created in Chicago over the past few years remind me of a quote by Joan Miro: My art work is an invation for the youth of today to invent the future.