whirlpooled topics unbackspaced. streams of consciousness. blurts. scribbled notes. outlined ideas. velocity waves. snatches from icloud. because self-editing is a writer’s cowardly way of preventing a reader from fucking the writer's confidence. dates don't matter. memories and moments aren't chronologically marked on the soul.

Showing posts with label 2017. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 2017. Show all posts

Road Trip

My thoughts: 

Gnawing beef jerky while driving has lost the thrill. 

Olive, my new best friend from Omaha, makes the best old fashioned I’ve ever had. Worth the drive. She’s a bartender at The Boiler Room

The Boiler Room
Henry – a young man (attends college majoring in theatrical lighting / marketing) is passionate about theater. He overheard my conversation about my play, commented on his hatred of theater of the absurd (I didn’t ask him,) spent numerous minutes telling me the vitality and necessity of theater, and offered to “let you buy me a drink” once my buddy and Henry’s mother had left the bar. Personally I wanted Henry to leave the bar. His mother was damn good looking and frankly I wanted to buy her the drinks with a shared bed being at the end of this rainbow. 

Henry depressed the hell out of me. Not because he mistook me as gay. Middle aged ringless man sipping cocktails at a hotel bar who’s talking theater. It’s not an illogical leap. But he’s so willing to slide onto his back for an opportunity to maybe network with someone he hopes has connections. Nothing makes a man feel as antiquated as being cast in a creased paperbacked cliché by Jacqueline Susann. I wasn’t flattered. I felt like I needed to wash my hands. I left Henry at the bar and climbed into my bed – alone – and sighed my disappointment in mankind. 

I loved getting up this morning and attending the earliest Mass and feeling the unity of like-minded communicants. 

A good weekend.

Remains of Ours Days

Magnolia Hotel

I’m in the mood to write but I’m not in the mood to edit. So read or not. It’s all good. I feel like a celibate man who just discovered porn. I’m full and it’s time for the release. So. Blurt. 

I had a wonderful weekend. I love a road trip. I haven’t done a let’s-get-in-the-car trip since, well since my brother and I took a week and traveled middle America in 1992. As I straddled the suspicious spill/leak in a men’s room at a truck stop in Stuart Iowa, I realized I’d forgotten rural America. I’d forgotten the cds of Merle Haggard on the gas station counters. I’d forgotten the abandoned farms. I’d forgotten the carcasses of cars left on the weed-filled yards. 

He walked into the bar at the Magnolia Hotel in Omaha Nebraska and I hadn’t seen him since 1992. He was my best friend for a year. And then I was the first to quit our pursuit. I left the seminary in December and he left at the end of the year and like combat casualties, we avoided the battlefields: we left the friendship and we left The Church. 

One awkward reunion in 1992. A supper shared of trivial conversations and avoided topics and all buffered by our dinner companion: my brother. And then silence. 

But I missed him and finding out my heart was broken made it necessary to see him and say a hello and a goodbye. And so he walked into the bar at the Magnolia Hotel and I stopped the tears from skiing down my cheeks and I stood and met him. I smelled the cigarette as soon as my arms reached around him for a hug. I pulled back and said, “You sonofabitch! You started me on Camels!” I remembered. We laughed. And then I said, “I’m tempted to lick your face. I so miss nicotine!” He laughed as we walked to the stools. “Jesus Christ Trost, you haven’t changed a bit!” The ice was broken; we could be our us. 

Drinks. Foods. Banter. Caught up with catching up. And then substance. “So are you still Catholic?” Real. Raw. “With a capital R,” I said. “Are you?” “A small c,” he replied. And then the kind of conversation I crave. All about honor and manhood and goodness and careless and sins and souls and God and failures. And I sat back in the chair and I started to cry. No one but God knew I cried. But, I cried. 

I’ve wasted so many of my last moments having conversations about nothings and lesses and commons and chatter. Why have I become so content living without content? Why have I allowed myself to skim? 

And I’m not talking about “fellowship.” I hate shit like that. People sitting around congratulating themselves on accepting their failures. “I’ve realized I’m flawed but I’ve offered it up to Jesus!” Oh Christ. Bullshit. Challenge to change & amend or shut up. Theology is not about acceptance; it’s about ascension. Baptismal water is for cleansing not floating. 

I loved seeing him. He didn’t disappoint me. He reminded me. He reminded me of my theological passion. He reminded me of my uncompromising values. He reminded me that the man I was remains and the memory of who I became will be my legacy. A good weekend. 

I have no ending here. Maybe there isn’t an ending. I’m seeing everything so finite now. Maybe life isn’t a noun. Maybe death is a verb. I’ll think about it and ask my friend for his opinion.

Colors My World

Yesterday I scheduled a rare daytime rehearsal. And I like to bring bottled water to my cast. I use my mouth so much I just assume they grow as dry throated as I do. Yesterday I ran late so I dashed into the local grocery store and I grabbed 4 chilled bottles from the cooler near the cashier. I swiped my debt card and waited for the bagger to place the bottles into a plastic sack. The grocery store hires baggers with special needs. I think it’s admirable and laudable. Yesterday I felt irritated. The young man struggled with his task and my temper ticked away the time. I grabbed the sack and raced out the door. 

And I remembered my Aunt Margaret. Aunt Margaret was my favorite aunt. My Father has two sisters. My Mother has a sister. Yet when I think of aunts my maternal grandmother’s sisters are at the forefront. My Grandmother – Mary Maxine (Fitzpatrick) George was the eldest of the clan and she had six sisters. And Aunt Margaret was next in line yet foremost in my heart. I loved my Aunt Margaret. 

Aunt Margaret had a withered leg and a left arm that pulled up to her chest. She toddled in orthopedic shoes and secured her “pocketbook” with her stiffened elbow pit. She was strong of spirit and had a staunchly Catholic stance. Her limbs had withdrawn – her tenacity had not. She took me everywhere she went. She hadn’t replaced my Mother in my heart – but she had a prominent place alongside her. 

Aunt Margaret would grab her pocketbook – and her keys – and me – and I’d ride alongside her as she ran her errands. 

We lived in Junction City Kansas – not quite the south yet life was accented by more than southern colloquialisms. Junction City is the home of Fort Riley and I remember seeing soldiers on the downtown streets and servicemen’s wives in the downtown stores. 

Yesterday I remembered 1969. 

The Vietnam War. I was 7 years old. 

My memories are impressionistic. Less Seurat and more Manet. Memories that are clearly defined but still clouded by colors. Yesterday I remembered my introduction to colors. 

Kansas has oppressive heat in the summer. Short legged pants deny young skin respite from a sunbaked car seat. My Aunt Margaret drove her decade old Chevy. I sat at her side. She drove to the “Colored” section of town. I didn’t know what that meant. Aunt Margaret had a friend who ironed Aunt Margaret’s clothes and washed her laundry. Aunt Margaret's disabilities prevented her from doing her household tasks. On this day she was giving her friend a ride home. I don’t recall her friend’s name. I remember the color of her skin – I remembered they called each other Mrs. I remember she called me “Sugar.” And I remember she sat in the backseat. It was a pleasant ride. One filled with laughter and ease. It’s a memorable memory because I remembered going into a section of town – and Junction City was a small town – that I had never heard of and I had never visited. 

I knew Aunt Margaret’s friend. I had seen her sit alongside Aunt Margaret at Mass each Sunday. Aunt Margaret would pick her up – accompany her to Mass – and take her home. We lived blocks from the church (Saint Xavier’s Catholic Church) and my parents walked our family to Mass each Sunday. 

I don’t know why I was in that car that day. But I remember it. I remember that I sat on the front seat and Aunt Margaret’s friend sat in the back. I remember the joy of their conversation and the awe I felt to hear adult conversations about subjects I didn’t understand. Words like hysterectomy and “female troubles.” I knew they were friends. But I didn’t feel like an interloper. It was as familiar as family. 

I remembered Aunt Margaret yesterday. 

Yesterday I was irritated by a man with a withered mind as he struggled to complete a meaningless task. And as I rushed out the door I passed a bench. Two elderly women sat and waited for their ride. 

I live in an affluent neighborhood. The neighborhood is in revolution. The young replace the old. Newly built assisted living facilities are being built with a rapidity that echoes schools and playgrounds during the baby boomers' births. Vans travel from facility to facility and transport the elderly from need to need. Yesterday two elderly women waited to go back. I started to type home but I backspaced. They don’t have a home anymore. They have a place. 

A day comes when active men and women no longer have activities and so the mundane task becomes an extraordinary achievement. And so the lonely dress for the event. Yesterday the elderly women sat side at side adorned with their Sunday clothes. One woman was black and one woman was white. Their conversation was animated and affectionate. I saw the similarities and I saw the distinction. I saw an echo of Aunt Margaret and her friend.

I wish I would have known to scoot into the backseat. I could have watched both women as they bobbed their heads with laughter. I could have giggled as their shoulders shook with joy. 

But I didn’t know. I was 7 years old.

Heart Beats

So. Tonight I sit in a chair tapping these words on an iPad in a room at the Minneapolis Heart Institute. My heart’s misbehaved and my doctor is trying a different medicine: Tikosyn. So far, so good. For three days he administers the drug and then it’s EKGs to see my heart’s reaction. My parents aren’t well. I spent last week with my Father in the hospital. He was released on Sunday. My Mother spent time in the hospital last month. So my sister and my brother have gathered around them to assist them in my absence. My best friend came to see me today. I sat beside him Sunday. I was too sick to sip brandy and too tired to care. He sat with me today and we marveled at the miracle of medicine. I’ve improved. The rest of the time I’ve sat in solitude with a rosary in my hand and gratitude in my prayer. Three days of solitude. It’s like a retreat. And in keeping with that, I’m examining my conscience. I’ve discovered I’m not frightened anymore. I don’t have regrets anymore. I’m at peace. I sat in the admitting area yesterday waiting for my room. The admitting area is an open space with open cubicles. The main hall of the hospital is the boundary to the waiting area and I sat and watched the world pass by. A man - mid 30s - above average appearance - walked the hall with a smile on his face. I don’t know why he felt happy. Maybe good news about a friend. Maybe an encouraging prognosis. I don’t know. But I saw his smile and I saw the people he passed offer avoidance and ignorance; they avoided his glance and ignored his existence. But I didn’t. I saw him. I smiled; he smiled. A brief communion of synchronized souls. We caught each other’s eyes and nodded our hellos. “Have you traveled outside the country in the last 21 days?” The question is rote. Asked at every appointment. I thought to answer, “I’ve shared breaths with people from around the world this week!” Same waiting rooms. Same hospital halls. Same cafeterias. But I didn’t. I answered “No” and silently thanked God for all the spaces He’s placed my feet. “Go forth in the grace of God” the priest concluded my confession on Saturday. Grace. Graced.

A Private Flow

Tomorrow is my anniversary. Almost no one knows this. But it is. Tomorrow will be 32 years. 32 years ago I made a decision. I decided I’d change. 

I was a coward. 
I was a liar. 
And I was a dick. 

And on August 24, 1985 I knelt down underneath a crucifix and bent at my waist until my torso was parallel to the floor – and I vowed to reach my potential. 

I’m not going to lie. It’s been a ball crusher. Do you know how difficult it is to shed all artifice and be truly authentic in every moment? I’ve forgotten the sensation of serenity. I feel the flush of shame climb my throat every day of my life. 

I have a friend. Friend? That’s not truest. As close as a blood brother. A couple of years ago I said to him, “you know me better than anyone on earth.” And he replied, “I do.” I sat stunned. I knew that; I didn’t know he knew that. But he does. He knows the Roman Catholic me. Roman Catholicism is the essence of who I am. Every thought, every act, every deed. So, he knows my immortal soul. I don’t edit with him. Complete disclosure. Confession without the grace. I saw him today. Today I needed his perspective. Today I needed his wisdom. 

Last night. Last night I held rehearsal. I live across the street from the rehearsal space. Less than a block. I decided to walk. By the time I crossed the street – not 50 feet from my door – I felt so tired I had to silence the shivers of my lungs and force myself to remain dry cheeked. I got to the building – and I stood next to the stone pillar near the door and I willed myself to stand erect. My phone trilled. An actor wondered where he should meet me. I looked up and he stood on the other side of the door. I didn’t have time to gather my strength; so I had to offer explanations. 

That wasn’t the kind of authenticity I’d vowed. 

Later while hearing my words from the mouths of the actors, I realized that I’ve shed all my securities. My privates are naked and without shield. All my privates: all my private thoughts, my private conversations, my private fears, my private hopes, my private failures, and my private sins. Exposed. 

At one point in the rehearsal, I revealed something I felt to the cast and I cried. I cried. I don’t cry. But I couldn’t prevent the tears. These are good people, but I don’t know them. They must think I’m insane. I’ve kept the stress and the fears and the apprehensions all under wraps – and I couldn’t prevent the expulsion. I stood before the actors like a teenager in the midst of an erotic dream. I couldn’t prevent the ejaculation. 

When I had my first ablation, I was surprised how vulnerable I felt on the table in the operating room. Uncovered except for a strategically placed sheet – I sprawled on a table as a catheter was snaked up my groin into my heart. 

Last night I felt that raw. 

After last year’s performance of my play, I stepped back and realized the play ended most of my friendships. My phone doesn’t ring like it did. I’m not included like I was. I’m not asked anymore. I asked my friend. My confident. He said my play was so emotionally raw that it made men uncomfortable. Like gluttony at a trough, it’s all too much. And so they ran. Away. Am I hurt? 

No. I’m humiliated. And now I’m beginning the cycle again. Now there’s less to lose. Now there’s less of me to whittle away. 

I thought about gay men today. It must be so difficult to “come out.” It must be so difficult to expose something that they feared. Freeing? I guess. I don’t know. I’m not gay but I am envious. I envy the courage. I envy the comfort of emotional exhibition. 

I have a plan. A schedule. The play: October 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 14. On the 18th of October– the procedure. The epicardial ablation. I’m devastated by my heart. I’m afraid. I’m trying with all my strength to remain a man. “Many people live 10 to 15 years!” I’m trying to be more optimistic than that.