Saturday, January 24, 2004


Life is strange. You never really know what it is that is going to make things go POP!

I've been working on making this life change for a long time now. Taking action for, oh, six or seven months. And things have happened, but somehow, I always felt as if there were something almost blocking my way-- like a veil or a thin skin. I could see through it, sort of, see the shadows of my life-to-be on the other side, moving and shifting. I could see the shapes of things, but no details. And after all this work, I was confused and frustrated over why I just couldn't reach through.

But one day, after I came home from a long shift of bartending, I went into the bathroom and looked in the mirror. I took my hair down out of my requisite ponytail, and it just fell around my face in way that made me see something new.

"That's it," I said to myself. "That's how I want my hair cut."

So I pulled it back into a pony tail, and I cut it off. At the first snip of the scissors, I went, "Oh my god, I can't believe I am doing this." But then I shrugged and went ahead. I cut and shaped and shortened until it was this kind of punky, kind of almost a bob cut, longer in front than in back.

Hair is a big deal-- don't let anyone tell you differently. How you wear it identifies you with your community and states your life style. It can even communicate your beliefs about life and religion, and all sorts of things. It is also very linked with sensuality, sexuality and being a woman.

Now I had long, layered, wavy hair-- shiny and raven colored. Big identity statement. Very girly, like a mane, even in a pony-tail. Almost Farrah-ish if Farrah were a brunette. Men always told me to keep it long.

But something about that night said, "okay, it's time."

You have no idea how differently people react to me now. It's bizarre. People are fascinated-- and it's not just about looks or the outward show, but it's almost as if they think they can see something of my insides, of who I am, and they are drawn to it.

I spent a long time trying to minimize my appearance. I am a pretty girl. I have always been a pretty girl. It pissed me off that some people could only see the package, and often didn't respect the human inside. So I wore baggy clothes, hid my face behind hair, used no or minimal makeup. But that's one of the things that's great about getting older, you start to grow into your own skin, get comfortable in there, even with things like beauty, or chubby thighs, or being too short. So, I am pretty, okay. There's nothing shameful about it. And why not embrace it? But I can be pretty while also being unique, while also showing that I am not just a pretty girl.

As I have been working on my internal transformation, and my lifestyle change, I have also been tweaking my appearance. And there's something about cutting all my hair off that has allowed the world to see what has been going on inside. Don't ever believe that what you present to the world doesn't matter. It's almost as if a lot of the internal developments aren't really real until the people around you recognize them as real.

You know, maybe I am selling my insides short. (that's a funny line.)

Maybe all these people who are telling me how much I have blossomed and changed really are seeing more than just a new haircut and a playfulness with clothing.

Maybe they are seeing me scrape off the veil, the skin that has been covering who I really am, and seeing me emerge into myself.

Maybe the external show is me no longer being afraid to be myself, to present who I am to the world.

Hmmm. Butterfly wings.

Maybe they're not as insubstantial and unimportant as I thought.

Friday, January 23, 2004

Last night was our final WE meeting. WE is, was my women's group. Women Empowered through Reflection and Creativity. We've been doing it for three years or so. It's been pretty powerful, being a part of it, and also being one of the leaders.

It's been pretty confrontational, too. Confrontational about my own ambitions and expectations, my needs and identity.

See, it just started out as a bunch of women getting together to explore themselves and their own creativity. A lot of us were teachers. We began the group shortly after the World Trade Center went down, and I think a lot of us were looking for something more.

In the beginning, the group was just about exploring and expressing, but as we went on, and the group changed form and members, I found myself wanting more from the group, more from myself. I began to take on more of a leadership role.
I began to think that I could do something here. There was something important going on. We were using creativity-- painting, writing, poetry, story telling, dance, skits, movement, journals, all of it-- to understand who we were, to reach our goals, to explore our potential. This was a great, and meaningful idea.

As the years went on, the group settled into a pretty steady group of women, and we went into some serious territory-- parents, fear, sex, body image, forgiveness. Using art and journaling and discussion and meditation to dive deep and make realizations and have breakthroughs.

But I was changing, too. I think in part because of the group, but also because I was growing, growing into my life, into the life I wanted, and out of the life I already had.

I was teaching, and feeling trapped there. I wanted to be a writer and an artist, and I had no idea how to manage that.

I think, for a while, I was trying to make my group become what I needed so that I could reach my goals of being an artist. Now, if you think about it, that doesn't seem like such a bad thing-- we were there to support eachother, and that was the kind of support I needed, but I think I forgot something.

In my belief that everyone can be an artist, and everyone is creative by their nature, and the arts are an important aspect of being a human, I think I may have forgotten that not everyone wants to BE an artist. And I mean Artist, with a capital A.

Becoming, being, an artist is a choice. It is about dedicating yourself to that path. I wanted to walk down that path, and I think I sometimes expected the members of my group to walk down the path with me-- despite the fact that they had all of their own paths to tread. I was very dissappointed, and felt unsupported when they didn't want to go with me. Sometimes they fought me, hard.

And you know what? The group DID change. We did start taking ART more seriously. It did start to head towards an art group, not an empowerment group.

I got a lot out of that. I created this art book that really helped me to go deep into myself, have break throughs, and grow into my new skin. And at least one other person did the same, coming to the realization, long buried, that she , too, wanted to BE and Artist. But the group fell apart.

It seems it was too much commitment. Too much work. Too much homework.

And not enough of their lives.

So, after the last meeting, I've come to the realization that perhaps I forgot what I wanted to give other people while I was so busy trying to reach what I wanted for myself. I still believe that art and reflection can give to people a deeper understanding of their own lives. I still believe that it's really important. Honestly, I use all the techniques I teach people to create my own art.

I don't know if we will start up another WE-- Women Empowered through Creativity and Reflection. We probably will. I'm almost glad, though, that the last one has ended. The fact that it did end, that I could look at it, not from deep inside the politics and emotions of the group, but rather from a distance, is what helped me understand a little bit more about how the group-- running it and being a part of it-- has helped me grow into me.
So what if love doesn't die?

What if all the people that you have loved remain your loves? And maybe they even stay a part of you.

I'm not saying that it stays the same between you and them. Obviously, things change. You aren't who you were back then, and neither are they. Maybe you would never "get back together" but that doesn't mean you don't love that person. Even if they were a jerk to you, it doesn't take away the things that made you love them in the first place.

For some reason, this whole idea makes me feel good. You can love people and not be with them. And there are many different ways to love.

And maybe that love sinks in, becomes something more inside of you. It's kind of a nice idea that who you are has been added to by all those loves. You haven't lost anything, even when things break up, you still come out of the situation larger than when you went in.

Thursday, January 22, 2004


You know, sometimes, art feels like poop.

I mean that in the most respectful way.

It’s like you have something in your gut trying work its way out. And then when its ready—out it comes!

That’s not to say that it is magic and it comes out of nothing. It comes out of what you put into your body (your life) Food, water, drugs. It comes out of your health, your hormones, your body chemicals and the working of your organs.

I know, sometimes I feel constipated. Sometimes it’s more like diarrhea (luckily, with art poop, you can’t die of diarrhea and the dehydration that comes with it. There’s always plenty of that stuff) Sometimes, it’s like I’m an anorexic and I have been putting nothing into myself, and so nothing comes out.

I would like to be regular.

Nurses always talk about being regular. I know fiber has something to do with it. I wonder what the art equivalent of fiber would be?
I live in just about the hippest neighborhood in America. The heart of the art/music/night life scene. Everyone is dressed in cutting edge fashion-- the kind fashion designers steal-- excuse me, are inspired by. Everyone has spiky hair, or retro hair, or retro shoes, or spiky shoes. Or all of the above. Everyone knows where to go and who to speak to. Clubs open late, close later. Drugs and drink and sex. People hang in cafes, in bars, on street corners. Even the subway is a fashion show, a who-you-know, an underground (literally) club with live music.

Cool of cool.

I look around and wonder what the hell is going on.

Why is being an artist all about what you look like, where you drink, who you know? I know that art and music and theater and dance are not all about the surface. Art takes hard work, and a lot of thought, and dedication, and soul. How did it get translated into shallowness and "cool?" Scene?

I'm pretty mystified as to how all this works. Give me a picture to paint, and I'll do it. I'll read my poems. I'll sing a song. I'll even act in a play or dance in a show. Isn't that what it takes to be an artist? So then, why all the show? It's like Barnum and Bailey. It's all about the hype.

I'll call myself on my own hypocrisy.

I fit in. The hair and make up. Spiky retro spiky. But I don't want to forget that I'm not selling rabbits being pulled out of a hat. Maybe I've got a little flash and dazzle, but I want to remember that magic is real, and that's what is going on when I paint.

I've decided that I don't want to be sarcastic and pessimistic about everything. I don't want to go for dry, tongue-in-cheek diatribes about how everything sucks. I see it everywhere, and that is what is "cool." To put down everyone else's flaws and foibles--

--Which is what I'm doing now. Except I'm diatribing the diatribes.

I don't think everything sucks. Diatribes can be funny or insightful. And sometimes cool is just, well.. cool.

Maybe I'm just really afraid that I'm doing something wrong. Maybe I'm afraid that I'm a little bit of a geek and not cool enough myself. Or maybe I'm really afraid to admit to people that I do believe in magic, and in hope, and in happy ever fucking after-- what if they think then that I'm the sap? Maybe I'm afraid I'm boring or talk too much or have nothing of interest to say in the first place.

It's much easier to make yourself superior to other people, to laugh at people and put them down, than admit your own fear. Not YOU. ME. That's what I'm doing. Talking about how superficial they all are, and how I am so righteous to be real. Maybe I'm just as full of it as they are. Look at me, I have to keep catching my own bullshit.

I can't be worried about following fashions. I can't be worried about being everything but fashionable. None of that is real. I've just gotta go by what feels right, and if it's not popular, oh well, at least it'll be true to me.

It's a lot harder to do that than it seems. And really scary, too.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004


1. I am a native New Yorker
2. I enjoy telling people that I am from the Bronx, because nobody expects it
3. I am the middle child of three—an older sister and a younger brother (plus an older half brother who didn’t grow up with us._
4. I am 33 but am still constantly carded.
5. I was named after the Anglo Saxon princess in Ivanhoe
6. I am Puerto Rican, Spanish, English, French, German and Welsh—(the Puerto Rican is Spanish, African and Taino Indian, so I’m adding that, too.)
7. I enjoy being multi cultural—a Bronx mutt.
8. I hated New York when I was a kid.
9. Now, I have to admit that I am home, and I love it.
10. I live in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
11. I’d still like to live in the country.
12. I have no living grandparents left.
13. My grandfather used to have a chicken farm in Pennsylvania that I spent every summer at when I was little.
14. I cried myself to sleep for a year when he sold it and moved to Florida.
15. I love swimming in the Gulf of Mexico.
16. My little brother and my mom, and her brothers and my cousin all live in Florida.
17. My Dad and his brothers and my sister and some of my cousins all live in the New York Metro area.
18. My closest cousin defected and moved to L.A.
19. My dad’s mother, the Puerto Rican, came from a long line of Taino curanderas (healers and wisewomen).
20. I read tarot cards and do dream analysis and am empathic.
21. I believe that being an artist is close to being godly—creating something out of nothing.
22. I decided to be a writer when I was fifteen, and started writing a fantasy novel.
23. I’ve been reading fantasy and science fiction since I was 12.
24. It is still my favorite form of escapism…
25. But I am much more discriminating in the quality of writing since I got my bachelors degree in English with a concentration in creative writing.
26. That means I can’t ever find fantasy and science fiction books that are good enough to keep my attention—so when I find a good author, I read all of her books over and over voraciously.
27. Right now, my favorite fantasy author is Robin Hobb.
28. Her next book comes out in ten days and I can hardly wait.
29. I also play dungeons and dragons.
30. I don’t like clubbing or getting drunk off my ass.
31. I’m kind of a geek.
32. I’m also finally comfortable with the fact that I am hot and gorgeous and sexy
33. I am, however, still single.
34. I can’t figure out why.
35. Since I quit teaching, I have been dressing sexier and funkier.
36. I love to shop for vintage clothing—it’s like hunting and gathering—and everything you find is unique and not like what everyone else is wearing.
37. Fashion is my hidden passion.
38. I am addicted to magazines—fashion, home, entertainment, poetry, art—whatever is there.
39. I don’t like the news, it’s depressing, but if it’s there, I’ll read that too.
40. Have I said I’m addicted to reading?
41. I’m also addicted to television.
42. This is not a good habit for someone who wants to be a writer and an artist and should be spending her time at home on this work.
43. I always have too many projects on the burner.
44. I am writing a novel, a non fiction book on creativity and transformation, my Blog, my handwritten journal, poetry. I am finishing up my art book based on Winesburg Ohio, by Sherwood Anderson, starting a new one based on Alice in Wonderland. I would like to paint my own tarot deck. I am starting a creativity consulting business with my friend Patty, teaching/participating in a women’s group called WE—women empowered through reflection and creativity. I am working as a waitress and bartender to pay my rent, and I am doing this 100 things about me list.
45. I could make every entry as long as #44.
46. My biggest wish right now is that I didn’t have to have a day job.
47. My real biggest wish right now is to fall totally in love with a guy who is in love with me and start a home with him.
48. I really want to have children and am afraid I am running out of time.
49. Not to be corny, but, I think children are our future.
50. Actually I did write # 49 to be corny.
51. But I do believe that it’s today’s children who will make tomorrow’s world better.
52. I really loved teaching, but if I had stayed teaching, # 44 would be all about teaching, and probably twice as long.
53. I quit teaching to be true to myself and my art.
54. I still consider myself a teacher, even though I’m a bartender.
55. I was teaching the day the World Trade Center fell down.
56. The class was doing silent journal writing when the plane went over our building. Only I and Jason Ye, 16 years old, heard it. We looked at each other, but didn’t know what it was so went back to writing.
57. Our classroom windows faced away, so we didn’t see anything, but instead watched the people on the roofs and fire escapes scream in horror as the buildings went down.
58. I think September 11th changed New York City for the better.
59. And maybe the world.
60. I think being a teacher changes the world.
61. I always try to get people to become teachers.
62. I’m in huge debt, mostly because of the education needed to become a New York City public school teacher.
63. I’ve been thinking about applying to Cooper Union to get a degree in Art. If you get in, it’s free.
64. My dad was an artist—he has a master’s degree from Columbia University’s film school.
65. And yet, we still managed to grow up on welfare, or poorer than welfare.
66. I don’t know how to drive.
67. The subway or a taxi will take me most places I want to go.
68. My middle name is Maxine
69. This is getting harder than I thought it would get.
70. I have just started writing for Block magazine, a neighborhood newspaper.
71. I am not getting paid for it.
72. I write gallery reviews.
73. I have hundreds of poems.
74. I have never published them.
75. That’s not quite true.
76. I self published a limited edition chapbook of poems, paintings and prose that all came from my journal in the year 2001—the year I fell in love, got my heart broken and watched the World Trade Center fall. It’s interesting how public and private tragedies feel somewhat similar.
77. It’s called “That Which Rises.”
78. One of my students stole the only finished copy that I kept. Stole it right out of my classroom.
79. I hoped they liked it a lot if they went through all that trouble.
80. I have to get more organized so I can send all my poems out to magazines.
81. I was getting there, but I lost all my work when my laptop crashed.
82. I lost my novel, too.
83. I knew I should have saved to something, but I didn’t.
84. I learned to always save.
85. But I still don’t.
86. I’m rather smart, despite #85.
87. I’m pretty low tech, so this whole on line stuff is a bit confusing. I wish I understood it better.
88. I kind of like being so low tech and having a blog. It gives a different view point.
89. A bar patron told me I was “a thinker.”
90. Uh, that’s a little bit of an understatement.
91. Sometimes, I’d rather stay at home reading and writing and thinking than go out just to go out.
92. Maybe that’s why I’m still single.
93. I believe that we should all be judged by the content of our character, and by our actions.
94. But I cannot deny that what we present on the surface is important, and actually reflects what is inside.
95. What that means is that I am looking for a sexy genius—someone whose light shines through—inner and outer beauty, self confidence, sense of humor, kindness, style, intelligence, creativity, spirituality—you know, everything.
96. I can’t wait to see what is going to happen next in my life.
97. I believe the unexamined life is not worth living
98. but we shouldn’t stop with simply examining it—love it, expand on it, reach for happiness, make peace with it.
99. I believe in true love.
100.I believe anything is possible.

I saw this webring of these Hundred things about me pages. It got me going. Maybe I'll join up. If I can figure out how to do it. (see # 87)

The list is kind of a short hand me.

Try it yourself. It's a very interesting activity.

Monday, January 19, 2004

Who knew that starting a blog would get the writing juices flowing?

Who am I kidding? I should have known I'd get addicted to something like this. I know I've been writing these huge long pieces that I don't know if anyone will actually sit and wade through. What can I say? Even if no one reads them, they're working for me.

Everything I experience and read and see, I want to write about it. I'm starting to make lists of topics to tackle. Mwah ha ha ha. That's an evil cackle if you aren't aware of how it's spelled. I could end up writing all day long, torturing my readers with constant posts and the labrynthine twists and turns of my brain.

I want to start writing poetry again. I want to start writing my novel again. I feel less afraid of screwing it up, for some reason, since I've started the blog. Maybe it's just the physical habit of sitting and writing, the fingers moving over the keyboard, the necessary staring into space and letting the mind wander, the rereading and revising and editing, because, yes I edit these suckers at least three times before I send them out.

Maybe this is a lesson to myself and to everyone out there who wants to write or be creative. It takes practice. It takes stamina. It takes writing muscles. It's like being an athlete, really. You've got to train to do it. Maybe the training isn't lifting weights or running laps, but how the hell do you expect to create if you don't prepare the field? Read the wonderful things out there, pay attention to the startling details of life... oh, yeah, and writing, writing, writing.

Maybe the key to being a writer, to me being a writer, is to write so much that I don't have time between the keystrokes to get afraid and doubtful and insecure.

Not that I've ever, ever done this, but I've heard the hardest part of running a marathon is somewhere in the middle, when you're well started and the adrenaline from the start, and the energy from your freshness has gone away. I heard that somewhere in there, your muscles ache, your feet burn, your lungs strain-- but you just keep going, one step after the next, and then, and then, you finally become zen, you become the road, the motion, the air flowing in and around and through you.

Writing can be like that. In the first flush of the idea, I am ready to go, but somewhere in there, the doubts creep in. "This sucks. I suck. I can't do it. Why do I even try?" Right about then, Ricki Lake gets really fascinating. So do the dirty dishes and the bills piling up. And I really have to go to the corner store to get toilet paper. My ass hurts from sitting still and my hands cramp from typing. God I need coffee, and food, and a shower, and really, I should get out of the house so that I can meet people and do things, because do I really want to be a couch potato all day, all my life?

The equivalent of heel blisters and burning muscles.

In order to BE a writer, you really have to-- I mean, I really have to have the will and focus of a marathon runner. Damn, and I thought being an artist was different. Even physically-- that food requirement, really kind of necessary to keep up the work of making your brain create whole worlds out of nothing. (Is it really possible to do that on only caffeine, cream and sugar? [oh, Rowena, take care of yourself.])

It's funny, a lot of people think that in order to be an Artist, or to live the life of an artist, you have to drink alot, smoke a lot, take in drugs to alter the hold on your brain that your fears have. Me, I don't understand that. Okay, I understand the desire to find something to turn of the fears, like a magic pill, but drugs, drinking, even staying out all night and not getting enough sleep, that puts my body and brain into a state that really isn't up to marathon running.

Because I want to get to that state where I am on a natural high. Not high from foreign substances, but high from all the fire shooting through my brain, my body, my heart, and out onto the page.

I want to be in that state where each word written leads me to the next, and the next, and the next. (one foot infront of the last.)

I want to be in the state where I am so drawn into the world that I am creating in my story or my poem or my painting, for that matter, that if the phone rings, I jump.

I want to be in that state where I AM the story, or the poem, or the painting, or the dance, or the song.

MMMM. Have you ever been there? That state? So much better than being drunk.

It is delicious.
I'm an artist, as well as a writer. I've had a hard time in my life, trying to find a way to mix the two. I decided I wanted to be a writer around the same time I decided I didn't want to be a professional artist. I never wanted to put myself or my family, when i had one, through what my father (the photographer, the filmmaker, the arTIST) put us through. An artist couldn't earn a living. Making money off of art was impossible. I thought.

Strange that I've never connected the two things before, I wanted to be a fashion designer for the longest time-- through junior high school and the first couple of years of high school-- and then, didn't want to be in art anymore. In fact, I went to a college that specifically wasn't an art school. Art was work, I wanted to write stories and poetry and novels and all that stuff. I even tried to give art up. Really I did. It lasted for about four months before I realized it wasn't something I did, it was something I was.

I tell you, that's a realization. Because if you ARE something like that, then you can't possible let yourself be half assed about it. Okay, fine, I couldn't. I wanted to really get into what art was. I wanted power. But I hadn't a clue how to get it. I had been taught "pretty." I knew how to draw, how to compose, how to use color, how to draw a picture that pretty much looked like what I was trying to draw-- but what the hell did it mean? What was I trying to say? I wanted to stop drawing what I saw. Stop drawing the surface.

Ironically, at the same time, I was being taught that with poetry and fiction, I should stop trying to tell everyone what I wanted them to know, and start trying to SHOW them. Show don't tell. Show don't tell. Write the surface???? And that was supposed to help us know what was being written about?

Interesting. With an art form that was about showing the physical reality (atleast classically) I wanted to find out how to show the internal reality-- the feelings and thoughts and emotions behind the pretty face. With an artform that was created solely from ideas, (and what else are words but ideas that we pass to another person?) I wanted to find out how to make them solid and concrete and real enough to have a surface to experience.

Honestly, I've never seen this connection quite so clearly.
Ahh, the power of words, that stringing a few together could change how you view the world.

I think I have understood words much better than I have understood art. I mean, I was an English teacher, that helped me understand what words were about a lot more.
Only recently have I devoted enough time and energy to art to go deeper into it. To travel into it whether I understood it or not.
I have been making a book-- no, not a book of words, a book of art. Well, yes, words, too, but they were there to begin with. I'm taking a published book of Sherwood Anderson, called "Winesburg Ohio," and painting over all the pages. I keep some words, and all the chapter titles. In fact, I make his chapter titles be my art titles, and they all have to connect, in some way with my life. It hasn't been easy. It's been a journey and a challenge, but I am almost done and am really proud of it.

I've been showing it to people. As many people as I could, and the response has been outrageous. I've seen their eyes as they turn the pages. I've seen them stop on a word, and laugh, as if it makes sense to them, too. I've seen the looks on their faces, as if they believed they could, too, they could paint, they could write, they could share who they are inside with the world.

I think they understand that it is the story of my life-- not my whole life, just the last few months. I think they get it on a level that is NOT about words. The words there are don't tell the story, the hint at pieces of it, maybe, but the story is in the images, and the images hit on a level deeper than words.

I don't know where they come from. Even when I am painting them, it's almost like they are from deep inside my gut, or way out above my head. And I think that's where people GET them. Not where we're used to thinking, a part of us that's primal, maybe, or maybe enlightened. I can't figure out which-- maybe both. Is that even possible?

Someone told me today that when he first read my book, his mother had just died, and something in it just connected. It meant something to him. I don't know what it meant to him. It's probably not the same thing it meant to me when I did it. Or maybe it is. Maybe human emotion is really that similar.

Someone also offered to buy it. For three hundred dollars. If it were ten years ago, I probably would have taken her up on it. But today, I recognize that this book is my life. My future as an artist. Well, no, not my whole future, but the begining of it. It's worth much more than three hundred, or even five hundred cash (her next offer).
A world class curator wants to see it when I am done.
Someone I know knows a publisher who might want to print it.
There's a place I know where I could get a grant to live for a year, just for doing it (and I'd get to TEACH, too! Teach artist's books! [am I psycho to get excited about that prospect?]).
I kind of like the idea of putting it on line, so anyone who wants can log on and turn the pages. The intimacy of that is almost like holding it in your hands and being able to touch the pages. I don't really know enough about technology to do that right now, but I'm thinking about it.

It's wierd that after so many years, I might actually be starting out on a career as an artist. A fine artist, not commercial. The kind who wear berets and drink red wine. It's kind of exciting.

I think I have to get me a beret.

Sunday, January 18, 2004

Here's something I've been having a question about.
When you tell people about yourself, how much do you share?

I mean, we walk around wearing masks pretty much all the time. We play roles with everyone we know, everyone we meet. Maybe sometimes we decide who we're gonna be, say in our heads, "I'm going to be a rockstar," or "I don't want to be noticed." But maybe sometimes, we aren't even aware that we are wearing a mask, we're so used to wearing it.

It's comfortable and safe behind that mask. You only let out the parts of you you're sure about. You only let in the parts that aren't going to hurt you. Armor. A shield. And frankly, if you only ever show people these little parts of yourself, then they can never really judge you and find you lacking or wrong. Even if they do think not so highly of you, you know that really, they don't know who you really are, so who the hell cares? Minimizing risk, that's what it is.

I have a friend who, when we went to a party, could always tell which guy I liked, because I stayed as far away from him as the limits of the room would let me. She would watch me circle closer and closer over the course of the night until maybe, maybe I could say a few words or start a conversation. I never even had to tell her, she could always tell who I wanted because I stayed away from him.

I think it's terribly frightening to actually declare to people what it is that you want. Really want. Specifically want. Not abstractly, as in "someday I want to fall in love with a great guy and get a novel published," but naming names and dates and all.

I'd rather talk intellectually about what it means to love, than say how confused I got today when this bar customer who flirts outrageously with me, and whom I flirt back with, came into the restaurant with a girl. A beautiful girl who I've met in the neighborhood and is really cool. I mean, why? Why her and not me? What exactly is it that makes someone choose one person over or another?

And honestly, that's not to say that he didn't come up to me and chat me up, playing the game I suppose, seeing "what if?", keeping me on the line. I don't even know if I WANT that guy, but, you know what? I wouldn't mind the chance to find out.

I wonder about this girl with that guy. Does she know how to play the game better? Was it just chance? Did she open up where I closed down and retreated to my mask, in effect, saying "no"? I've been known to do that.

As for the games, I don't want to play. The kind of love I want is the kind where I and whomever don't wear those masks. Where we are real and authentic, and accept each other for who we are, rotten teeth and all. Not only that, but the kind of love in which we are INSPIRED and FIRED by what is behind those masks-- by the real, pulsating humanity of who we are for ourselves and for eachother. I want to be the kind of person who says "yes," to life.

But you know what that means? That means I have to be around the kind of people who are going to get it. Who aren't going to play games, or manipulate, or use, or disrespect. Because I've chosen to believe in life, and the existence of true love, yes I have. But I am not a fool, and there are people out there who will take advantage of people who say "yes" to life, who don't know how or when to say "no." Or who don't know how or when to tell people to back the fuck off because they're pushing boundaries they have no right to push.

It feels like some delicate balancing act-- drop the masks but keep the barriers. Say "yes" and "back off." And then trying to find out who people really are, getting to know them without scaring them off or boring them or being bored and/or scared-- everybody in their own balancing act-- mask, reveal, extend, push away, mask, reveal. Love me, fuck me, go away, come close.

We should set it all to music. An intricate extravaganza of people trying to find love, trying to find connection, trying to be safe, trying to belong somewhere.

Picture in your head that this is what's happening at a party, or in a bar or cafe or Barnes and Noble. Imagine all these people in this dance. It's like all of New York is the Cirque du Soleil. Cirque du Amor. (I don't speak French and am probably screwing it up) Imagine the fabulous costumes, the high wire acts, the contortionists, the lion tamers-- this is so close to real life that it's hardly even a metaphor. Love is a circus. Uh huh.

Raise your hand if you've noticed that I'm playing the dance my self.

Intellectualize it, turn it into poetry, and you don't have to reveal that when that guy with the smile and the eyes that lit up when he looked into yours, did NOT stop by to see you at the bar, though he said he would, twice, even when you thought you were making the effort, showing your interest, even when you looked hot and he kissed you goodbye on your cheek.


Not "you." I. Me. My. This is my confusion. My fears. My desires.

Sorry to say, dear reader, but this whole thing is all about me. I hope you enjoy it, get something out of it, become inspired or enlightened, but mainly I'm trying to figure out this thing called me. This thing called my life.

So back to it. Reveal. Share. Understand. Drop the mask and stand naked. (Ignore the hairless chihuahua you find huddling there, "yii! yii! yii!", wanting to run away)

If I want love. If I want intimacy. If I want true connection, then I have to stop hiding.