Tag Archives: death

She, Concluded. (In which I invent a new word or two)

Our little romance lasted about a month, but in the end we were simply from two different worlds and two different times in our lives. We enjoyed a Kerouacian Roman Candle affair, and we parted amiably and with respect.

My heart is intact, and I learned a few things about myself. I still feel beautiful. I do have love, all kinds of love, to offer a myriad of different people. Even romance, in the future, should it come my way again. It’s not a threat or a deviation from my path.

This affair raised some questions in my mind, and I’d like to pose them to You. There’s an answer (sort of) at the end of this, but it’s my answer. I know that everyone will have different experiences and therefore different reactions to this.

A singular question. If you had the power of foresight, how would it change the way you live your life? Would you initiate a romance, knowing that it would disintegrate?  If, before you even became pregnant, you knew your daughter would die in her teens, would you still give birth? If you knew the one you loved was going to betray you twenty years from now, or die prematurely, would you go forward with becoming partners?

Luckily, we are spared the curse and horror of foresight. We have the ability to grasp the now.

For me, the answer is a resounding yes. Give me the moments, give me the now, give me all the feelings I can collect. Let me hoard my memories. Memories: the power of living your life in any order you want. You can revisit the moments you had with people you love. So in this context, death isn’t the end, because you aren’t changing ANYTHING, just recontextualizing the experience of it all.

The experience with Monique taught me a few things, but what I’m holding onto from this time is simply this: Life is a beautiful thing. Experience all kinds of love, and though you may lose it, it adds value to who you are and how you shape your life, even if you have to face some fears to do so.

You may lose … no, that’s not correct. You are going to lose, because that’s part of the road. There really isn’t a damned thing you can do about it: you are informed by the journey itself and given different perspective or information, any step you make might be different. Collect the moments with all you are worth.

All of this to say: it was wonderful, and now it’s over, and I have no regrets.

I’m still beautiful, and my road stretches ahead. There is love, out there.

 

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Deliveries

In the leaner years, pre-magician days, I drove a truck and delivered furniture. The days were long and exhausting, and the work … largely unfulfilling, though it had its moments. I looked at my co-workers and I used to wonder where they would rather be, what their dreams were. Sadly, I learned to not ask, because it made some of them angry. “What’s wrong with this job? Is this too good for you, ‘Mr. Actor’, ‘Mr. Artist’??” Mocking the dreams I had shared …

Some days I rode a bike to work, so that she could have the car. Only about 8 miles, and most of it through the green shaded back neighborhoods. I dreamed of big, ivy-covered houses. Later in the day, I might even see the inside of some of these, as I delivered their bookcases and beds. I loved the peace, and the exercise the bike gave me. Just as a boy, when my bike took me everywhere, from the corner store to the Death Star, fighting off TIE fighters as I flew through trenches to save my friends.

Returning to our little house each night, with the attic fan and the big metal grate in the floor that served as a heating system, there would be love and laughter waiting. Stories to tell and stories to keep. Books to be read and re-read aloud.

If the magic thing went away? I’d like to drive a bus, cross country, long distances … deliver people to new adventures.
… or bring them home.

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Validation

I believe that my work is important, vital even, to some people.

My fellow entertainers and I bring relief to the machine. Levity to buoy the spirit and return it to flying … or soaring. We inspire, we enlighten, we save lives at our very best. We change them, too.

One of the most difficult things for me to handle is praise. I don’t know how to accept it graciously. I feel gratitude and thankfulness for those that take time to tell me their thoughts on the show and how it moved them, I just don’t know how to respond properly.

A friend recently wrote the following on Facebook about meeting me and getting to know me offstage. (We recently worked together in a play about Jack the Ripper called ‘Whitechapel’)

“I knew of you long before i actually met you… but Whitechapel sealed the deal.
Upon first seeing you, I thought: “He really sold his soul to the devil for magic.” And that’s amazing. And pure. And true. And omg that was amazing.
What do i like most about you? You aren’t afraid to bare your absolute soul to the world. You are an artist in the truest form. There was a day, i think it was the second to last or maybe the last day of Whitechapel, i parked next to you over off of 36th by Rat’s Nest, i got out of my car to wave hi to you in your van. You were listening to music, I’m not sure what song, but you were crying. Sobbing. I knew things were difficult at the time…with life and things, but to see you expose the emotions so fully, so unabashed, so freely brought me peace. Knowing that it’s ok to bare our troubles in such a way, to music even. I will never forget the day you made me love being human.”

I will never forget the day you made me love being human.
On the one hand, how do I express how grateful and happy I am that I was able to give her such a gift? On the other … words and letters like this let me know that I’m on the right road, doing the right thing, and using my gifts well.

Don’t be afraid to live fully. And love who you are.

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On My Death

A casually morbid post. Nobody panic: I’m not depressed or particularly sad at the moment. There’s just some thoughts rummaging around and … well, this is what I do.

I’m at the jumping off point of an adventure. New Orleans for the weekend, performing for the art gallery folks, then off to the Magic Castle for a week and finally FISM. After that … well, we’ll see. NOLA, Hollywood, Italy. I’m happy and excited to share my show, my vision. I have no illusion about winning, but that’s really something I want to write about separately.

Today I’m thinking about death. The finality and the non-finality. This may seem random, because it is.

I’d really like a broken wand ceremony. And I’d really like for my friend Tony Miller to execute it at CRF. My friends and extended family there have provided a great deal of magic in my life and I think the setting is appropriate.

In that death is a genuine physical ending … do as you will with my remains. In my whimsy, I would ask to be cremated and have my ashes strewn into the wind and surf near what used to be Scotch Bonnet pier on Topsail Island in North Carolina. My childhood, my ‘coming of age’ and the realization of who I am all happened there. There’s real magic in that place.

In that death is a great vast unknown … I hope that my consciousness continues, that I get to explore new truths. Who knows?

Don’t mourn me. Celebrate what we had. I did my best to spread joy and love. At times I failed utterly, usually to the people I’m closest to. Loving me has meant having to share me with the world, and that can be real hell.

Enough with the maudlin. I’ve got some decades left to live, in theory, and I’m going to continue to strive for more: more excellence in my art, more love in my life and more joy in my soul.

I’ll share these things with you.

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Taking Umbrage

At the request and gentle urging of my trusted beloveds, I began searching for a therapist. One that could understand my unique situation … a little background is needed, I suppose.

I’ve lived with depression for as long as I can remember. It’s not like a cloak that I shrug on and off: more a tattoo that is always there, but sometimes burns and itches like it was still healing. Due to some intense stress over the past 8 months or so, it has redoubled its hold on me, and my sorrow it so great sometimes it worries even my friends.

The Contest is a big one. I’m voluntarily putting my art up to be judged in comparison to others’ works. I had vowed to never do it again, but … peer pressure and pride.
Robin’s suicide. The man I patterned my drive after. He couldn’t make it. His sorrow took him. For all my brave talk about picking up the flag … I’m a fraud. I’m not fit to tie his shoes and … he couldn’t hold on.
Cancer … yeah.
Dawn’s sickness. Slow coming yet sudden in the swiftness in which it took her down. I felt helpless and was then accused of not acting fast enough. This is most likely correct. I’m going to shoulder the blame.
Success. Overwhelming and undeserved, I’m still waiting for the fraud police to show up.

So, I received a recommendation from a trusted friend and made an appointment. I’m going to call her Brady.

She and I seemed to hit it off right away. My first thought in seeing her was that she resembled a very distinct villain from the world of Harry Potter. How cute. How funny.

We started off with her asking some very pointed, direct questions. Events from childhood, life status of my parents, grandparents … tragedy, joys, triumphs and failures. We spoke in plain, raw words for nearly 45 minutes. It was very comforting. We were able to communicate much quicker than other therapists I’ve spoken too. After a short pause, she began speaking.

It seems … I have a generational curse. Now, my health is tied into this. My sickness is hereditary, probably. Something, some defect in my DNA triggered this sickness. It’s probably been in my bloodline for centuries.

My traumas, from the divorce of my parents to the suicide of my hero are my burdens … and my Art is God’s gift to me to help me deal with these burdens. Not eradicate, not heal … deal with.

All the depression, the anxiety, the sorrow … I caused these things by not giving my gifts as a sacrifice to the Holy Spirit.They are entirely, securely, totally mine to bear forever. I own them.

This was all caused by … wait for it … a deal made with Satan. (now, Brady didn’t use the word ‘Satan’, that would be too direct. The phrase repeated was ‘The Enemy’. I swear, you really could hear the quotes around it.) Someone, somewhere, sometime in my bloodline made a pact, whether explicit or implicit with him … and the curse shall be visited even unto the last generation.

The cure may be found in a rigorous treatment of Splankna, acupuncture and chiropractic medicine.

Disclosure here, folks: I don’t believe in the treatment. on the other hand, I don’t have any serious doubts about the diagnosis.

But what I DID get from the meeting was: my misery is real and it’s a part of me because I absolutely deserve it. An honest to goodness professional confirmed what my father first told me when I was eight.

So i went and visited my old ‘hometown’, which isn’t really that far away. I put my feet in the lake in the spot I was baptized in. I felt cold water and … not much else. Same as the first time. (I appreciate the water much more now than I used to, so I did take time to watch for a little while.) I went to the bleachers in the ballpark. On this spot, some forty one years ago, my father (in a very kind, loving voice) proclaimed to me that I could never really hope to amount to anything worthwhile. I was doomed to be a failure and a burden. It was a shame, he said, because he had certainly hoped for a real son to share his interests with.

I feel worse than when I went in, and that can’t be right, can it?

What I’ve written here is just the surface. I can’t bring myself to type all that I’m really dealing with. (Yes … I AM dealing with it. There’s no cause for alarm, please don’t misread my words)
I can’t express it to my family, or my best friend. Not the depth of feelings.

I have work on the stage that still needs to be done. There are things I consider important that I want to say.

But right now? Right now I’m just sad.

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Dancing and Heart Shaped Boxes: Christmas, 2014

Right now it’s Christmas Eve. The kids have gone home or up to bed and I’m siting in the dark alone. By the time I’m done, it will be well into Christmas. Want to go for a walk with me?

This holiday for me has always been about family. The blood ones, the ones who married in, and the ones we invite to the table. You are loved, and I consider you family. You’re welcome at my table … bring a story, a song or something you made.

This year was creative. We all reached out for each other’s hearts. For myself: Carlaysle made me a porcelain dragon lamp, Avalon Rose Stuffed a Joy Tea box with inspirational quotes and petals from flowers I gave her once, Grace made desserts in the kitchen of her newlywed first house and Braiden brought us his music.

 

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“The book of love is long and boring, and written very long ago. It’s full of flowers and heart shaped boxes and things we’re all too young to know.” ~ Magnetic Fields

When I opened Avalon’s gift and saw what she created for me, it brought me to tears. Literally. I sat there with water pouring down my face, unable to breathe. I was very moved, especially since we’ve had some friction lately. I’m more than a little afraid we’re growing apart like I did with my father. And it’s largely my fault. But that is another story. Tonight she showed me how much she thinks about me, and how she still feels about her old man. All the kids showed me: I am surrounded by love.

Tonight sparked memories of my father.

My father and I were never really close. I wasn’t quite good enough to be the son he wanted. That’s a quote from the man himself. Dad was an architect and an electrical engineer. Smartest man I knew. A real straight line thinker. Conservative in his living and no-frills. His vices were whiskey and golf, and those in moderation. He was in the Army and played college football with Sonny Jurgensen. (Look it up). I was non-athletic and a real let down. He tried really hard to get me into baseball and football, but I just had no talent for it. My only asset was that I could take a hit. Even as a young, skinny man, my low center of gravity and … solidity made it really difficult to get me off my feet. Anyway, I couldn’t play very well and had no skill at all. Dad bitterly gave up when I was about 15.

At that age I picked up theater and music in earnest. My path went far and astray from what my dad considered respectable. We quite simply grew apart and I just … started talking to myself and working things out on my own. When I became a magician, he threw his hands up completely. I was a waste; a dime a dozen. His words. Art and frivolity were nice for some people, but he just knew I was supposed to be something … worthwhile, and it mad him very sad that his only son didn’t follow his footprints.

Now … Dad loved to laugh, and I could usually make him laugh. You can’t tell it from any of his photographs, but he had a big, hearty laugh. He just didn’t think show business was a good way to raise a family. On more than one occasion I spied him dancing when he thought no one was watching. Turns out … he was a hell of a good dancer.

Pancreatic cancer took my father swiftly. From diagnosis to the end was just a matter of ano few pain-filled weeks. I kind of got to say goodbye. He was high on pain meds and didn’t really understand that I was even there. He died while I was onstage. I got the news when I got back to my room after.

When I attended his wake, I got a shock. Stranger after stranger came up to me to tell me how much my father bragged to them about his son, the great magician. Apparently he told many stories to them about my shows, the contests I was in and the places I traveled to. And then:

And then …

And then I went to clean out his house. In the back of his bedroom closet I found two boxes. One was full of trophies. Recently dated trophies. The other was full of newspaper articles about me. Photographs. Magazines and video tapes of television programs I had appeared on. A box full of love and pride. Color me boggled.

The trophies? They were for ballroom dancing. My stepmother explained that at fifty years of age, found his passion in dancing, and he was quite good at it. He won several awards and competitions. Rather than display his trophies, he put them in a box, carefully in the back of a dark closet. That is the man my father was.

In a twist of serendipity I bought myself a pair of dancing shoes for Christmas. I saw them and bought them with my father in mind. A few days later a very dear friend gave me a certificate for ballroom dancing lessons. I’m turning fifty next year.

 

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 “The book of love is long and boring, no one can lift the damn thing. It’s full of charts and facts and figures … and instructions for dancing.” ~ Magnetic Fields

Suddenly … because of this gift, I feel a little more in touch with the man he kept hidden. Perhaps we shared more than I ever knew. Thus a thoughtful gift changed my life and my heart. I want to embrace you all as family … scars, shyness and everything. Come as you are.

This table has plenty of seats available.

In your hands and in your heart you have the simple gifts to make a real difference. Love, caring, and compassion.

Will you give?

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The Quiet at the End of the Day

Thanksgiving, 2014

My father loved the music of Glen Campbell. My father loved to laugh, but you can’t tell that in any of his pictures or in any of my stories … we never saw my path in the same light, and we grew slowly but inexorably apart as I traveled farther down it. I’m sorry, but that is a story for another time.

I smoked the turkey, as is the tradition. Lemons and spices and cinnamon (because: Cinnamon) and other such enhancements. The kids all came over. We danced a little, we sang a little. We were together. The new in-laws showed up for dinner, and the relations were fun and the mood was high. I hope my children remember this year fondly. i know I will. Even with all the mouths, we still had so much left over … but noting will go to waste.

Forgive me if this seems maudlin or sappy, but I’m very serene at this moment. We did it right, Dawn and I … we raised four smart, loving, giving children who are all walking their own paths fairly confidently. I’m grateful. I’m very thankful.

I had a very moving moment: Braiden and I played chess this afternoon. My father taught me and we used to play together, when we were still pals. For a moment I became him, and I looked at my son as me … and I was very proud. I’m not a bad guy. I spread my art as love, and I give all the love and help that I can, all that I know how to give.

I miss my Dad. I’d like for him to see how great these kids are. I’d like for them to hear his genuine laughter …

Let me say sincerely, because these leaking eyes are making it hard to type:

I hope there is Love where you are.

If there isn’t … I have so much left over … and nothing will go to waste.

h

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