Archive for January, 2005

Easy Way Out

Thursday, January 6th, 2005

On one of the morning shows today, one of the hosts was hassling some teens because they got gastric bypass surgery. He wanted to know why they were opting for surgery as teenagers, how did they know they couldn’t lose weight in the conventional way?

(As an aside. Jordana and I watch the morning shows together, barely awake in bed. Jordana’s make-up routine is hilarious. She gets up, brushes her teeth, sometimes showers, and then gets right back into bed without turning on any lights. She lies in bed drinking tea and putting on a little concealer and sometimes some mascara. Maybe a little moisturizer. She basically sits there with a small bag of make up and puts on whatever she pulls out, but she does it in the complete dark and with no mirror.

As she’s leaving for work, sometimes I can get her to brush her hair.)

As Matt Lauer, or somebody, was giving a 17 year old shit for undergoing dangerous surgery in order to reclaim his health and social life, I started going on a rant.

“Why the hell does the fucker care what some teenager is doing?” I started.

“Yeah, um, it’s way too early,” Jordana said, a Q-tip poised next to her ear.

“Why is it so bad for someone to get *surgery* they need? Why is America obsessed with hating ourselves for doing things the easy way.”

“I’m actually not really listening,” Jordana added, as she put moisturizer in her hair.

So, I figured the blog would be a better place for this.

People *love* to claim that ADHD is over-diagnosed, that we are raising a country full of drug addled zombies who are medicated into feeling okay. And yet, somehow, every person I know suffers from some kind of hidden obsessive misery, except for the ones who are medicated. Sometimes you take an anti-depressant just to put a lock on the door to the basement of your pain, other times, you get on an anti-anxiety pill so you can deal with things you are a little scared of.

But why do you get points if you do it *without* a pill? The reasoning seems to be the following; Life is a series of tests, and any time you get a windfall of money or a miracle pill, you are passing the test by *cheating*, and in the end you aren’t going to learn all the lessons set up for you in order to graduate. You have been given the answers to the quizzes and that is unfair, sure, but also wrong. In the long run, you will be less of a person.

Now, I clearly have a problem with the idea on an initial level, that there is some sort of intelligent design for your life. Somehow, your life has a series of hardships, questions, learning and answers that my grade school babysitter Matt Medley didn’t have when he died suddenly at age 19 by slipping on some ice in a parking lot. I have heard over and over again, all my life, that “Bad things happen to good people” and “God works in mysterious ways”, and I don’t ever hear, “well, all of this is actually devoid of meaning and is random and arbitrary.”

The wave that killed 150 thousand people ended, in one stroke, millions of people’s self loathing and misery. There were people who wanted better food for their children, there were people who wanted straighter teeth, there were people who wished they were taller, and yes, there were people who wished, with all their might, that they were thinner. One hundred and fifty thousand people, in one capricious arbitrary tectonic shift, are no longer living with the misery of existence, and yet there are Americans looking askance at one another for getting nose jobs. We have eighty or ninety years on this planet, and for some reason we want our neighbors to suffer through them.

Because that’s what it is. It isn’t that we enjoy learning the lessons of our hardships, it’s that we like feeling superior to people who “have it easy”. There is a boot-strap-pulling, blue collar arrogance about Americans that may stretch to the rest of the world, I don’t know. There is a lovely moment in “Master and Commander” when the doctor says, “I’ve never heard a man admit that he was rich or asleep.” It’s like comfort, ease of life, is tantamount to shame.

Medicating our lives is one aspect, inherited money is the other. Somehow, starting out poor and earning your money is so much more respected than inheriting it from your parents or marrying into it. There is a knee jerk desperation to the way rich people say, “I started out with nothing! I worked my whole life!!!”

Big fucking deal. I’d much rather have my kids not have to work their whole lives, work for them would be a choice. Jesus, what would my sister be doing with her life if she hadn’t spent so many years of it bringing people *FOOD*. Hours and hours and hours of her life, she brought people food. And that job meant she survived. There was no progress, there was no happiness in it. She took great pride, she survived, she ate and paid rent. But can’t we just admit that it’s terrible?

(Not for me, I’m a failure on that front. I’ve always been happier when I was medicated, I have managed to be fired from every job that demanded any level of concentration on my part, I have been living off the sweat of my wife and the few jobs I’ve been able to hold on to. I don’t have any *pride* in this failure, I wish I could do it differently, but I’ve found myself ill-suited for most work that one is paid for. I try to earn my place in the world in my own way, I work hard every single day, I’ve asked every friend and colleague for work, any kind of work, but no-one trusts me me, no-one thinks I can actually do any work, and, at 34, I’m tired of asking.)

I’ve got news for those of you who think the medication or the operation or the inherited money are cheating. The lessons you want these people to learn? They’re learning lessons plenty. You may think a large inheritance will make you happy, will provide you with built in success, but wherever you go, there you are. No-one cheats, the lessons are still there, are still cruel, there is no less sadness in a rich man’s life than there is in yours. Particularly in the rich man who thinks that being rich will help him avoid pain.

But if you can look at an extremely overweight child and make them feel *lazy* for getting surgery to help control his weight, then you have no heart. Even if you were a fat child and you worked hard to lose the weight- diet, exercize, the constant mocking of your peers ringing in your ears- then learn what you can from your own tiny insignificant success and leave everyone else the hell alone. In a hundred years you’ll be dead, that fat kid will be dead, everyone who’s alive right now will be dead, and your snotty ass superiority kick won’t even be a memory in the ash.

My Best Me

Wednesday, January 5th, 2005

When we are sixteen to, let’s say, nineteen years old, we are incredibly full of shit, but we are also aware of a certain magical quality to our existence. My nephews have found a way to be inside this magical quality without being full of shit, so I should say that *I* was full of shit when I was nineteen, but I was definitely aware of the magical quality of my existence.

It’s been explained away as surging hormones, and I’m sure that’s probably about right, but it doesn’t mean that you forget what it’s like. My theory is that a lot of pedarasty and our youth obsessed culture exists because of that immediacy of the adolescent mindset, the incredible surge you get when you are a high school junior and you carpe some frickin’ diem.

Most people grow out of this. Some resist growing out of it like *crazy*, others barely give in to it while they’re going through it, they want maturity so badly. My sister was a bit of the latter, my brother Ian, the former, and I think I was a mix of wallowing in immaturity while demanding the world treat me like an adult for most of my twenties. When I think back on some of my “pronouncements”… well, let me just publicly thank everyone for not kicking me full in the nuts even though I clearly deserved it.

I think what happens is that you still find those magical moments, those immediate and glorious surges when you are living a momentarily magical existence. It’s what drives the creative types, I’m guessing, and athletic types as well. The hormones surge just like they did when you were 17.

For me, the diem being carped never really did it. My friends and I stole a car when I was sixteen and drove to the Jersey Shore at 130 miles per hour and stood in the middle of the rocks facing the Atlantic daring the waves to knock us off. On our way back, we picked a fight with a guy who chased us with a hammer after I threw all our fast food trash on him. And yeah, all of that was fun, but it wasn’t quite the rush I found elsewhere. Believe me, there was no concern for our own or that guy’s welfare, it actually just never got above, for lack of a better word, mundane.

I have found, lately, a certain low level thrill when I am cooking. When I am in my kitchen and I have all the ingredients on hand, and I have a certain way that I do a thing that I think is better, I really do get a little nudge. It may seem pedestrian, but I actually do get a tight rope wire feeling when I am putting together food. Sometimes the food comes out okay, sometimes it’s great. I’ve learned enough from my parents and from cookbooks to avoid catastrophe usually. But I get a thrill the same way I used to get in geometry class, an understanding of systems based on an understanding of assumptions.

Writing music carries the same low level excitement. It’s work, slogging tough work. There are so many goddam notes, and it isn’t just the notes you have to write in, it’s the rests. The rests take forever. I am as good at writing music as I am at making food. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s great, and I learned enough from my parents to avoid catastrophe. Again, there are systems, there are sets of assumptions, and I stand in the middle of my musical kitchen and get a secret burning thrill when I can mix everything together.

But none of that is being seventeen again. Being seventeen and getting punched in the mouth for being a smart ass, having someone slide their hand up your chest to your neck for the first time, taking a buzz cutter to your hair because it just doesn’t matter what you do, sitting in a park and smoking pot and having someone say, “lunch ended, uh, two hours ago…” The thrill of those years for me is mildly muted by the fact that I was so painfully ignorant, so completely discarded in a lot of ways. I may have been an undiagnosed ADHD sufferer with mild bi-polar disorder, a pronounced fear of water and an addictive personality, but what I looked like was a lazy, stupid, moody, greasy teenager with terrible skin and an appalling ability to talk nice girls into bed by seeming like a bad-ass.

That kid is long gone, and so are the teenage emotional instabilities. But now, there is still one time when I am there, when I feel that magical moment of complete suspension, and it happened for me last night. There are a lot of things I do with my life, and I don’t really know how good I am at any of them. But last night, I sat down with a script and a score to a show in which my sole responsibility was as an actor, and I was, simply put, transported. Some people like me as an actor, some don’t, but I love doing it so much, I love it *so much*, that I actually don’t care. When athletes talk about winning, when directors talk about getting the shot right, when mothers talk about their children, the only thing I can compare it to is this.

That second, when you read the script out loud, when you get a joke right, when you make a choice no-one else might have, right then I am flying down the highway in a stolen car, driving with my eyes closed, knowing that when I hit the water, the waves will part for me.

Oh no…

Tuesday, January 4th, 2005

This is one of those times when I look at the blank blog and think of the scads of people I could piss off. At least, y’know, the eleven or so people who read this blog. Very often, when I want to piss off people, everyone is just bemused, and then, when I’m just joking around, people get outraged. So, God knows, this could be messy.

Aristic Pursuits and the Horrible Feeling Thereof?

I’d better not. My wife is having a tough stretch of it right now after a series of dissapointments, and it would be stupid for me to offer any kind of advice, as I’ve learned. Her concerns are legitimate, her answers are extremely difficult to come by and it will take the full force of her mind to solve them, mine is far too weak.

Criticism of Chosen Lifestyles?

No, after a spasm of family, I don’t dare write anything critical about how anyone lives their life or it will just create more friction in my relatively friction free extended family right now. I could make fun of something and have every single brother, sister and parent breathing down my neck.


The only thing I will say about this (a subject that, although I loathe, I seem to be willing to talk about) is that in The Aviator, the hero manages to turn the politicians on their asses by being honest and forthright. Of course, it’s because the criticisms against him weren’t invented black children in the south or invented disgrace in war or invented ties to terrorist groups. It was actually crushing to watch an individual win a war against big government and big media with the full knowledge that it simply never happens any more.


No, it isn’t really fair. The truth is, I get a kick out of my weight being so out of control, I like making people laugh at my big gut, and unless I start getting humiliated by my weight, I’m never going to do anything to control it.


Okay, here’s what I’d like to say.

As I approached thirty, I moved from LA to New York figuring I had nothing to lose. I didn’t, and I’ve lost nothing. My life has been a net gain since the age of 29, and that was after a period of about fifteen years where every year was pretty bad. The period between my parent’s divorce and my divorce was a dark period.

For some of us, it takes a long time until we know how we are going to live our lives. Fortunately, this modern world affords us the time to figure it out. Yes, we feel a certain amount of pressure to know what we are doing with our lives once we graduate from, y’know, whatever, but the truth is, if we coast until we’re 30 or so, and then buckle down and start answering questions, we’re not *medically* screwing ourselves.

Used to be, you went to work by 16, had kids before you were 25, died of black lung from the coal mines by 45 with grandkids already on the way. Those were bad times.

I lived an entirely different life before I turned thirty, and I got to bring those experiences to Sean.05a. And it’s nice to have all that to bring to this. Not having all the answers is frustrating, not having any answers is unsettling, but it is par for the course, and beating yourself up for being confused is adding insult to injury.

My friend Chip got married a few days ago. He married a woman close to him in age. I’ve spent a lot of time with Chip, not as much with Cathie, but it is a gift of fortune that these two waited for the answer before answering. They are both in their mid thirties, and it just took them this long to find each other. My wife was there years before I knew it.

Some things just take time. Some things won’t arrive until you are ready for them. And, sure, some things pass you by and you lose out. It isn’t a perfect world. But Chip and Cathy were right, they had faith and their faith was answered. It was a faith based on nothing, based simply on the fact that faith was required. Their union is an inspiration, a testimony to passionate patience, to striving for the *right* answer, not just *an* answer.

Thank God

Two Musical Offerings

Monday, January 3rd, 2005

The first is the new mix of the prologue. I’ve gotten a coupla complaints about not explaining the song, so let’s just say there is an orchestra, a closed curtain, and the statue of liberty standing dead center as she sings. As she begins singing, you should be able to hear the foghorn.

Prologue RM 010305_01.mp3

This second piece is one of the best in the show. The quality isn’t nearly as good because the song is longer and Blogger has some kind of stick up its ass about how much shit you can upload. Jordana’s performance on it is heart-breaking. Her character is a woman, pretending to be a man in order to be a part of the war on terror, who has sudenly discovered that she is in love with one of her ship-mates. Her name is Swallows. Seaman Swallows.

Lose It RM 010305_01.mp3

And this is me. I’m waiting for Ian.