Tag Archives: loneliness

A Bar

Musing thoughts on a surrealistic bar. You know … you’ve heard about it.

There are hundreds of ‘guy walks into a bar’ jokes, there’s even a youTube channel dedicated to them. An establishment that could be a real bar. A guy walks in, or a girl (usually blonde), A minister, a priest, and a rabbi, and some humorous exchange takes place.

But where is the surreal bar, and what does it look like? The one where a horse walks in, or a bear, a sandwich, a piece of string. How startling and fun it must be, not to mention Happy Hour!

For me that bar looks the same in every joke: A room of about 20 feet square, the bar itself on the left and a bit too close to the door. Tables are scattered throughout. The barkeep and timeline is around just prior to prohibition, and the clientele is pretty sparse. (Except for the odd crab, sipping his beer in the corner)

What does the bar look like to you? Would you buy the depressed horse a beer?

Best made the observation earlier: Bars are the place you go to drink poison out of fancy glasses. And I’ve justified it in the past because the poison took the edge off the pain, helped me bear the loss. (see what i did there?)

Have I been the weird, persistent piece of string? Not me. I’m a frayed knot.

h

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… and Pecan Pie

Pecan pie was always a part of the holidays when I grew up. It was on the dessert table in a place of honor. The taste, the smell … ingrained in my mind as a part of my childhood.
There was a restaurant across the street from Presbyterian Hospital: Anderson’s. They were famous for their pecan pie and, yes, they were indeed that good.

My daughters Carlaysle and Rose were born at Presby on rainy, cold, icy days. After they arrived … and cleaned … and weighed & measured … taken and glassed for the parade … fed for the first time and tucked in to bond with their mother …
I walked across the street alone and had pecan pie. I savored my Anderson’s pie and gave thanks to the universe for the beauty of everything.

My girls are grown, and Anderson’s has long since closed.

I’ll be alone for the holidays again this year, and I’m going to make a pie for myself. My world is a little colder than it used to be, but I hope to warm my own soul. I’m still thankful.

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Always a Reason

It was a slow night at the usual busking spot. Foot traffic was way below normal. The air was hot, wet, and still. Miserable conditions. After two hours I was ready to call it, but I kept thinking, “10 more minutes. I here for some reason.” The feeling was just insistent. Kinda woo? Okay, but I trust my instincts. I even considered moving to a new locale, seeking out a crowd … but no. I’m needed here.

My reason stepped up unexpectedly. He was tall, well dressed, and a little stout. He seemed nervous and hesitant, which didn’t fit his frame or body language. He walked and stood with confidence, but spoke quietly and shy. We were essentially alone in the courtyard. He spoke:

“Look man, I don’t have any money to tip, but my girl just left me and I’m having the saddest day. Can you show me something and maybe make me laugh or … I dunno, forget for a minute?”

Oh. Yes, brother: I can.

So I called on my skill, and presented my heart’s own joy. I woke up with a bunch of it, I guess I knew it would be needed. I did a few tricks that had more humor than astonishment, I amazed. I amused. 

He laughed. Spontaneous and genuine and hard. I didn’t let up; I relenessly plied my craft and gave him a good act. Yeah, here’s my reason for being here. 

When I finished he grinned, big and goofy. Then he opened up.and emptied his thoughts like pouring out a garbage can.

“I was addicted to heroin and Chrystal Meth. So was my girl. I went and got cleaned up, then I helped her. Got her into rehab, gave her encouragement, all that I could. She met someone else while she was inside, and a couple of days ago she told me she was leaving me for him. I mean .. I’m glad she’s clean, and I hope he makes her happy, but …

Look, man: you gave me the first really good feeling I’ve had in a long time. I don’t have any money, but you’re really magic, man. You just .. you’re love. Thank you. I know it’s gonna be okay.”

We hugged. Like old friends. He walked on, down his road.

And here I sit, my back against the elevator shafts, typing this with my thumbs. Foot traffic is picking up. There’s a little breeze, now. The night looks promising, now.

I have a reason for being here. So do You.

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Robin.

A year ago today I lost a friend. A friend I never met.

Now … he never met me, odds are he never even heard of me, but he affected my life and he was there in my happy and dark times as only a close friend can be. I bought his first comedy album and it scandalized my mother. She thought of him as Mork, and family friendly, but he introduced some adult humor and dark thoughts into my young brain. She took the album away, and it took me a very long time to find it and steal it back. (I swapped the record and kept Robin in a “Sound of Music” sleeve.)

He introduced me to poetry and Hemingway. Wolfe and Van Gogh. All day today these fractured souls have been entertaining me. All suicides. Mad men and women who lived with such incredible passion that it seemed to burn them. Eventually, for whatever reasons, they took their exits.

The pouring out of soul is crucial. We, the entertainers and poets and storytellers and artists all have a need to share our love and yes, our pain, too. From personal experience it heals. It heals me and it heals many of the people I touch with my silly card tricks and ‘witty’ patter. I’m privileged to have this gift.

One of the drawbacks, and it’s a big one, is that my family has had to share me. That isn’t a picnic. Being recognized and stopped in public became a really sticky issue very early. I kind of enjoyed the spotlight, but it was too often foisted on my loved ones who didn’t really want me to be Hannibal all the time. Also, in my blogging and social media, I’ve shared with you … not exactly secrets … but personal feelings and thoughts that they felt should have remained within the family circle. Alas … this heart gets worn on my sleeve and the older I get, the redder it becomes.

I never bought my wife a proper engagement ring. In fact .. I’m not certain I ever proposed. We just decided and leapt.

People ask why I decided to become a magician, why this particular craft? But it really just happened. I found I was good at it and I leapt. That leaping changed my life. After years of struggle and heartache and fears and really hard work … I found success. Monetary, okay, sure … but way more than that. I found that my sharing of myself helped people. Changed and saved lives.

Robin and Ernest and Virginia and Vincent … they shaped and changed and saved my life. I never met them, but they touched me and millions of others. We … the artists and magicians and jugglers and painters and seamstresses and poets … here we are and here are our souls. Life is hell, sometimes. We take the shit of life and, as artists, we strive to create something that gives you genuine joy.

I often state “I hope that there’s love where you are.” And I genuinely mean it. All of us deserve love and sadly not all of us get what we need. That phrase, uttered and typed in love, has been used as a weapon against me. I’ve been mocked with it. Put down and called a hypocrite for it. That doesn’t make my intention any less true. I do hope there’s love where you are.

Robin took his life one year ago today and he left a massive hole in me that I haven’t been able to fill. He didn’t say why, or if he did his family has decided not to share. I miss him. I hurt for him. I’m still mad at him. (If you are ever hurting that badly, call me or contact me – even if I don’t know you.) If you consider me your friend … here I am.

I’m going forward, now. Things in my private life are somewhat catastrophic at the moment, but I’m going to keep breathing. On the very first show I did after Robin lost his battle, I made him a promise that I would pick up his flag and carry it. I may never be as well known, but I am giving you my heart from the page and the stage, and I won’t give up. If this post rambles, well, I hope you can carve some sense and comfort out of it.

Robin said “keep a little madness” and I am sticking with that. This means some of what I do won’t make sense. That’s life, right?

My friend, I miss you. I couldn’t be there for you because you didn’t know me at all. But maybe I can be there for someone else, and every night on my stage, I’ll be throwing magic as hard as I can to my unseen friends. For your attention, I’ll give you heart-wrought silver.

You, the beautiful one reading this? You’ve stuck with me for 815 words, now. Thank you. You can affect lives, too. You can save a soul. Please, find the love, find your path and walk it as far as it takes you. For what it’s worth, I believe in you and I love you.

Robin … and Ernest and Virginia and Vincent …. and Rene’ the Maestro … and Joey and Dee Dee and Tommy and Johnny … and really hundreds of other friends and shapers: Thank you.
I sincerely hope that there’s love where You are.

h

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Fishing

Someone earlier asked my about my ‘happy place’, my ‘peaceful, thoughtful spot’.
I’m young … just starting to have questions about the world around me. My parents were still happy with each other. Grandpa Jack is still alive.

We’re sitting in his usual, favorite spot. Three quarters of the way down Scotch Bonnet Pier. It’s a hot summer day, but the breeze coming off the ocean is cool. I can feel the power of the sea, moving the pier and tugging gently on my fishing line.

Moving water. Distant sound of the surf.

I can smell the sea salt, the fresh fish we just caught, now chilling in ice.

I can tilt my face up and feel warm sunshine. I try to imagine how high the sky is …

Lately I’ve forced myself to be alone. A lot. I think about You. A lot.

The ocean is still there, the sky is still there. Everything else has faded into time. The horizon … is no closer.

There is peace in these memories. Hope.

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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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