Homo-Neurotic Art

What am I sitting on? My mother yelled. She made a most campy discovery, while sitting on our old striped couch. This is a gay comic book isn’t it? Her fury was elevating within seconds.

Mother had this ideal vision of a clean-cut son, who acted masculine and aimed for business school. Instead, the Goddess above handed mom, an eccentric, quirky looking gay son, who loved theatre and books (in other shocking news). Finding the gay comic book tore into her conformists hopes for my mannerisms.

“Shit, fuck, shit, I should’ve been more careful with my gay goods.” She handed me the comic. It was tossed in the trash. When mom went upstairs to read her bible. I fished the comic out from the garbage. Its adorable new home became my Catholic high school locker.

2016, present day

Not surprisingly, I didn’t end up with a husband, finance job, or  test tube babies. My mother’s worst fear became an artful reality. In a friend’s artist loft in New York’s NoHo neighborhood, funky and serene art surrounded me.

Painted scenes from the French and Irish countryside, disco balls, paint splatters, squeaky old wooden loft, canvases filled with pastel colors; it was an arty outcast’s pinnacle moment. “Gee, I want some art..”

I was due to move back to my native California in a few weeks. Colorful art would go fittingly in the Gay-ve (gay man cave). “Here’s some art for your new home.” My artist friend handed me some divine prints. They featured naked men kissing.

Wow, original art by the original artist, and there were naked guys. I was harkened back to the sofa incident. Since I was in my thirties, there was no need to hide my gay art. Hours later, I attended a party on the Upper East Side and showed off the prints. Everyone was thoroughly impressed.

A week later, the art was shipped to dad’s house in Riverside, CA, along with cardigans, books, and records. As I walked back from the UPS store, alongside Harlem brownstones, I thought of my father’s face opening the suitcase filled with the gay erotic art.

Although, he could be more open minded than myself, I didn’t want him to have a heart attack. “Daddy my suitcase is on its way, don’t open it. There’s valuable art in there.” He could’ve sounded less interested.

Within weeks, I traded Manhattan for Riverside. Upon my arrival, the suitcase remained unopened. Unearthing the gay art, I laughed. “Where do I put this? My gayve is already much too distracting and this art is raunchy.”

“Uh-oh, was yours truly turning into a prude.” Rebelling like any good gay boy, I decided to bring a bit of edge to my track home. In a rare confessional moment, I told daddy, “The art in my suitcase is naked gay male art.” He shrugged his shoulders, “son, I would be more surprised if you didn’t have naked gay male art in your suitcase.”

We went back to watching Daria. In the same room, where mom found the gay comic and freaked, dad came to accept my outlandish artful tastes. This “freak of nature” officially felt acceptance.

The Introvert Sips Espresso

Which asshole am I going to tell off today? Asked the eccentric man on the subway platform (I am being nice by using the word, eccentric). In the grand tradition of subway riders, everyone was unshaken, including me.

Public transportation can make the sane go insane. Man spreading, break dancers, sweat dripping from unknown sources, germs, germs, more germs, body odor, the possibility of contracting bed bugs, this ideally described the daily subway riding experience.

During my New York years, anxiety levels were raised high. In case of entrapment in a subway tunnel, I carried a Murse (man purse) full of distractions. Books, a sketchpad, sketching pencils, Batman notebook, and an iPOD filled with catchy tunes.

“Oh, geez, it would be swell to drive a car. No germs, no spreading, no surprise street performers!” After a nose wiggle, my quirky-self ended up in Riverside, CA. Strolling from coffee shop to coffee shop, driving a car through freshly scented orange groves, and reading on a bench, it was a perfect distraction from the chaos of New York City.

Within a month of returning to Riverside, I took the CBEST test (for my teaching credentials). Anxiety levels were at an all time-low. Yet all the Prozac in the world couldn’t rid the anxious clogging my head, upon taking the test.

A few weeks later, an email was sent. “Your test results are available, next day.” Smirking, I played it calm, “oh, well, there’s still fresh air and coffee in abundance.” Unfortunately, this New York/Riverside hybrid really proclaimed, “Shit, we’re all going to die. If I didn’t pass my test, everything is over.”

More riveting than electroshock therapy, anxiety levels rose, and rose, and rose. Even a relaxing drive through the beloved orange groves wouldn’t smash crazy in the nose.

Glancing at the passenger seat, the murse smiled back. It had an eyeglass-wearing cat plastered on the bag. “ The caption read, “Don’t bother me now, I am reading right meow.” Feeling nostalgic for the days of artistic therapy on the train, I took charge of my anxiety.

Heading to the coffee shop in the strip mall, breathing exercises followed. I drew gay cowboys, with tortoise shell glasses. It distracted anxious feelings for a bit. After an afternoon of cowboys and lattes, it was back to my humble track home.

Unexpectedly, anxiety, my old friend returned. “What happens if I didn’t pass the test?” The test results were emailed. The file opened. In (huge) bold letters the PDF read, “You did not pass the CBEST.”

My hours of studying were flushed down the grand toilet of life. However, being Mr. Optimistic, depression didn’t loom over me. For an hour, everything remained normal. The next day, anxiety turned into depression.

Failure and disappointment, it happened. Hiding in the Gay-ve (the gay man cave), depression wouldn’t subside. Great literature and pretty pictures couldn’t boost up morale.

After a day of licking wounds and dying of failure, I made a comeback. Carrying my murse, I marched to Wallgreen’s, bought notecards, and found an open table at Augie’s Coffee.

Taking a different approach to studying, plans to retake the test were cemented. No giving up for this future teacher of America. Life’s great villains (Algebra and multiple-choice tests) would receive a kick on the tuckus. Thank you, note cards, I’m ready for a test taking comeback.

Town Hamlet

Earthquakes strike. Elves bolt through a patchwork of tiny village houses. It characterizes the town hamlet. A Fire-breathing dragon attacks with fury.

An Earthquake erupts. Imposing bean stocks spring from the soil, corrupting the precious cobblestone roads. This scenario exists in my head. In fact, this is my head on stress.

Here’s my head, while reading a good book. Somebody cue that song, Mellow Yellow (by Donovan). Elves cheerfully dance along fields of green. Jellybeans fall from a cloudless blue sky. Even the fire-breathing dragon is happy. He morphs into a sassy drag queen with killer heels and a blonde wig.

Back in New York (aka, reality), I didn’t see dragons in drag or merry elves prancing down First Avenue. Instead, I always find my own pot of gold, at the end of sparkling rainbow.

Across (approximately) 2,000 miles of Middle America, the Rocky Mountains, and the Hudson River, it arrived. Naturally, the pot of gold came in a standard UPS box. “Oh, my god. It’s my care package from dad.”

I opened the box with great enthusiasm. Books upon books were haphazardly piled on each other. Don Quxiote, Valley of the Dolls, Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, Emma & Three Lives were a few of the delightful titles. In the grand tradition of care packages from dad, he left many pairs of socks under the literary grandeur.

“Hello, stress relief.” The first book I read from the pile was “Engulfed in Flames” by David Sedaris. From coffee shops to park benches, I reveled in it’s witty humor.

Since I have a long subway commute to work, reading a funny novel always provides a nice kick. While indulging in espresso-like inspiration, handsome man sat next to me on the train. In a very New York style, I avoided him and concentrated on the words of Mr. Sedaris.

From the corner of my eye, I could see him casually glancing at the book. Soon, his eyes wouldn’t deter from the page. There was a certain connection in sharing the book together.

The elves in my head sent a signal, “talk to him, you, yutz.” A certain earthquake erupted inside of me. “Hello, anxiety.” Palms were sweating, leaving wet marks on delicate pages. More pages turned, his eyes still glued to every word. The train was closer to approaching Times Square.

Alas, I glanced at him, quickly. Unfortunately, I didn’t build up bravery. The elves sighed in misery. I left the train, without uttering a word to my literary lover. At least, I had a nice train ride. I can’t say that every day.

Books are my stress relief. I read many. They delight me. I admire authors and dream of having my future novel sold everywhere from Powell’s Books to the Strand. In the mean time, my town hamlet remains a peaceful utopia for elves and that fire-breathing dragon, who adores heels and blonde wigs.

Grumpy Bird

I spent countless hours drawing owls. Happy owls, grumpy owls, eccentric owls on Xanax, they lived harmoniously in a modest sketchpad. With a soundtrack consisting of cheesy show tunes and angry 90’s alternative rock, I turned anxiety into art.

The owls were a perfect distraction from the madness in my head. With every stroke of the pencil, I became increasingly passionate about my art. With my owl family tree hooting their lives away, I grew surprisingly tired of drawing owls.

I took a giant leap for (would be artists) everywhere. Inspired by cartoons of my youth, I began drawing Beavis & Butthead. The sketching proved a challenge for a new artist. “Oy, I just can’t draw, I just can’t draw, I need to go back to writing,” I would say to myself. The obvious negative thoughts attacked my peaceful bohemian existence.

My first sketches were disastrous. I doubted my sketching abilities. While the negative thoughts persisted, I took a coffee break. While fueling the latte economy with my caffeine dependency, I was determined to re-draw Beavis & Butthead.

Cranking up the best in Broadway musicals, I put specialized pencil to a blank page. Carefully following the contour of each character, I drew a carbon copy of Beavis & Butthead.

The fear of fucking up quickly died. Rather than fearing failure, I made the drawing experience, enchanting. Daria, Doug, Fred Flintstone, Yogi Bear & even Charlie Brown, I drew them all. Upon opening my sketchpad, the characters made me smile.

Quickly, the art bug bit me, again. I had great aspirations for a pop up/3d art project, utilizing cartoon characters and a shoebox. I designed the characters and daydreamed of a land within a shoebox’s confines. The madness, which ravaged my brain, was (in turn) producing interesting art.

Though, the shoebox, pop up/3d art project continues to develop, I revel in every moment. Rather than hurrying along, I spend many hours, daydreaming. I found a new calling through visual arts. It was unexpected and scary. With great bravery, I continue to lovingly sketch my life away.

The Gay Owl

The Hudson River was frozen over. My old brain farted. Below zero temperatures made the humble polar bear, hibernate. Coffee warmed the sensitive soul.

It’s always colder than the New York’s previous bout with the Polar Vortex. Birds of a feather flocked to Miami, Rio de Janeiro and anywhere tropical.

This bird of a feather couldn’t leave the city. Instead, I reveled in the next best thing to a Brazilian holiday, an East Village brunch date. Laughs with my gal pals, bottomless mimosas, and piles of bacon were just as wonderful as sipping Caipirinhas on Rio’s white sands.

Despite a wonderful existence in the city, filled with friends, theatre and delicious bagels, I was bluer than my navy pea coat. Rather than retreating to warmer pastures, I remained in the city.

After writing poetry and watching endless YouTube videos, I took a drastic step for mankind. In the shadow of the Queensborough Bridge, I sat in a therapist’s office. In the words of film school professor, “therapy is a badge of honor, since it’s shows an attempt to make improvements in life.”

While acting out a dramatic one-man monologue, my therapist took notes. My performance was grand. Instead of receiving applause, I was given a surprise. “You have seasonal mood disorder. It’s been common with New Yorkers, since we’ve had the coldest winter in eighty years.” he said.

I smiled. He smiled. Finally, there was a diagnosis to my woes. “ I want you to take up a new hobby, which isn’t writing or reading books. We need to take the angst alleviate it through an alternative channel,” he said with a confident smile.

Instinctively, I yearned to feed my brain’s desire for art. I took up sketching. An owl statue inspired me. I sketched the owl. The first owl was born on a scribbled notebook page. More owls were drawn. Soon, I had owls, which evoked many emotions.

Like a snowbird fleeing for winter, illustration gave me a sense of escapism. I was distracted with sketching owls, which made me forget about the winter blues. With a hoot, hoot, hoot, my hands birthed art.

At last, spring arrived. The Hudson River was re-born. Sidewalks sprung back to life. I sat in a park bench with a coffee. This was my re-ward for surviving, a sunny day, Morningside Park and a notebook full of owl sketches.

Bear In A Cardigan

In the midst of rugged mountains, track homes, and vast freeways hides a surprising counter culture. In Riverside, CA, weird rules. Odd balls gravitate to the suburban sprawl like guacamole to a tortilla chip.

Growing up in Riverside, the counter culture frequented Back 2 the Grind, a coffee shop. It had comfy couches, art, and a dizzying array of books. Back 2 the Grind served as the perfect life alternative to my Catholic school conformity.

It’s where gay kids would hang out. They sipped lattes, listen to bands play, and form wanderlust of a world beyond rugged hills and orange groves. Conveniently, it was located next to a gay bar.

On any given night, disco lights would shine from the bar’s window onto the sidewalk. The Thompson Twins’ campy classic, “Lies” would seduce the gay eardrums. For a teenager (like yours truly), it was mesmerizing. A room full of sweaty, dancing gay guys, it was almost surreal, especially steaming from a conservative upbringing.

Curiosity blinded my senses. I declared, one day, I’d like to visit a gay bar. There were the obvious allures of sex and friendship, but also experiencing a life altering liberation.

After experiencing my first gay bar, it was exciting. Then, I quickly grew out of loud, sweaty bars. I found more liberation in myself rather than an institution.

Living in New York, I preferred cozy dives, where the bartenders knew my favorite drinks and life biography. I also couldn’t stay up super late, anymore. Taking the subway at 3 A.M. seemed as appealing as being chased by ferocious bulls in Pamplona.

Mirroring my Riverside upbringing, I preferred the warmth of a New York coffee house. I adored reading my books and writing on any given Saturday night. One night, I took a time machine ride back to my youth, thanks to a night out in Hell’s Kitchen (New York’s big gayborhood).

Thanks to a few whiskies, I was lured into one of those loud bars with a sizable dance floor. While the room was spinning, loud pop music threatened my eardrums. Oy, I think I am too old for this. Indeed, I was. My bladder agreed with me. I spent most of the night, peeing, which gave me practice in social skills. There was always a bathroom line.

When I wasn’t in line, I tried dancing with friends. Since, I am a wallflower, dancing didn’t come as easy. Then, I spotted a guy. Our eyes locked. He was dressed in a preppy manner, with wavy blond hair and blue eyes. Instantly, he grabbed and kissed me.

I was shocked, but secretly enjoyed it. Does this make me a male cougar? He seems a few years younger, I noted to myself. Instead, I giggled and declared, “why yes, I still have it going on.” He brought out the tiger in me, but it was only a kiss.

Fearing a burst of misery on the late night subway, I took a cab home. Happily, I noted my night out as a life experience.

The next day, I sipped on coffee, listened to an indie band, and enjoyed tacos with my neighbor. I realized that I am still a mellow, Riverside boy. Although, getting kissed by that cute guy will remain a most wonderful memory.

Super Geek: The Musical

Forget cowboys, bandwagons, & gold mining, my expedition out west was a bohemian affair. While taking in the atypical winter weather, I wrote short stories in California, sipped on gourmet coffee, and explored Portland’s quirky side.

Reality hit, while in my childhood home in Riverside (CA). “Shit, I have to go back to New York. I ‘m so unemployed in New York. This deserves a major “oy vey.” Said I.

Packing up my suitcase for the land of uncertainty was scary. Then I boarded my connecting flight to Dallas. As I jammed to campy Christmas music, I began thinking happy thoughts. “Think show tunes, Chinese food, strolls around the East Village, snow falling from the sky, gracefully & of course, trips to the Strand Bookstore for fantastically used books,” said I, internally.

My smile grew. The happy thoughts were working. Then Darth Vader and his storm troopers attacked through the airplane intercom, of course. “Ladies & gentleman, we’re going to have to deplane this flight,” said the pilot. The passengers were shocked and disappointed. As we deplaned, I was stressed.

“No East Village, lavish Broadway dance routines or Chinese food for me, I’m going to miss my connection to LaGuardia airport,” I proclaimed. As I stood in line to rearrange my flight, I grew gleeful.

“Maybe, I could stay in extra day in California with dad?” I asked myself. The airline fairies were on my side. I was able to take a connecting flight to Dallas in the morning, which meant an extra day out west. The great bohemian expedition was revived.

My father picked up again from the airport, and I took part in intellectual activity. Walt Whitman, Gertrude Stein & Maya Angelou would be proud, if they were really into pop culture.

I watched television shows from Portlandia to the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Saving intellectual stimulation for New York, I indulged in pop culture. I don’t own a television, which made the experience a real treat.

The next morning my airline fairies carried the mighty flight to Dallas. Those girls had some real muscle power. I was generally upbeat on the flight. When the plane landed, I prepared myself for a delightful stroll through DFW.

It didn’t compare to the East Village or the Upper West Side when it came to scenery. However, it was still fantastic for people watching. Anxiously, I waited for my flight to New York to board. From the corner of my eye, I saw the bohemian dream.

He wore a beanie, which covered his strawberry blond hair. With a distinctive nose, pretty green eyes, & a smart sense of style, I found my token airport eye candy. “Holy moly, “ I thought to myself.

Finally, I was boarding my flight home to New York. Drifting away to the sounds of Bjork, I received a surprise. “Am I in the right row? I can never tell with these exit rows,” asked a male voice. Glaring up, I was in awe. It was my bohemian dream in the flesh and he was sitting next to me.

He smiled. I smiled. Naturally, I made conversation with him right away. “You’re an actor. I can tell these things,” said I, trying to boast of my worldliness. With a giggle, he asked, “how did you know? I shrugged my shoulders and replied, “I read people really well.”

The conversation progressed. I learned he was in Amarillo (TX) visiting his folks. He lived in Astoria, had a side job & was struggling to find a new apartment. I thanked the airline fairies, Darth Vader & storm troopers for not allowing me to leave the day before.

Our flight landed. I mustard the courage to ask the following question, “Can I get your number?” Surprise, I got the digits. I walked him to baggage claim. Thanks to fate, I met an amazing guy.

Happily, I hoped into a cab, bound for Manhattan. The next day, it snowed. “I wonder if Mr. Bohemian dream would like to build a snowman with me?

“Wait for it, wait for it,” said I, after sending the text. I didn’t receive a response. In fact, I didn’t receive a response for days.

In a Broadway theatre (the great white way, which exists in my brain), I sang the following song, “rejected again, oy, rejected again. It’s New York and rejection is always around the corner like a deli. So, shit, I’m still super geek at the end of the day. I’ll find my fellow nerdy cape crusader.”

Back to the real world, I looked on the bright side. I spent quality time with my gal pals. While eating delicious diner food and enjoying laughs, I forgot about my bohemian dream. Instead, I took my rejection and made it into art (and you’re currently reading it).

Duck, Duck, Goose

It’s another adventure in fun-employment land. This edition is brought to you by those institutions, television shows and cafes, which distract the soul. Your contribution is greatly appreciated. Now on to today’s story.

Feeling like New York gave me a swift kick in the tuckus (ass), I wandered around Nolita. High fashion, cupcakes shops, and pricey walk-ups were quite lovely to look at, even on a budget.

While feeling quite blue and ready to break into an operatic performance, I ditched the stage of Lincoln Center for an anti-depressant. Naturally, this anti-depressant came in the form of a bookshop.

“Hello, Ernest Hemingway, Dorothy Parker, James Joyce, Jack Kerouac and yes, even J.D. Salinger, “said I. Intoxicated by the sweet bookshop scent, I browsed the titles. Taking a step back, I admired the perfectly organized books and shed a tear.

Somebody cue Simon & Garfunkel’s “hazy shade of winter,” please. Inspiration flowed through my blood stream. Armed with my laptop, I dashed to my favorite East Village coffee shop. After finding a cozy table, I made a major life decision. “Oh yes, I will join the National Write a novel in 30 days contest,” said I.

Opening up my laptop, I took a gulp of coffee. For months, I had daydreamed the idea of this particular novel. Even with a sizable amount of time, daydreaming, that first blank page was terrifying. Rather, than overly intellectualizing my dilemma, a voice spoke to me. It was my novel’s protagonist.

“Have you heard of GOYA? Asked the voice. I shrugged my shoulders and shook my head, “no.” His intensity grew. It means “Get off your ass, if you want to start writing a novel, go ahead and do it. Don’t worry about writer’s block, I shall lead the way,” he said.

Rather than pressuring myself to write the next Less than Zero or Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, I simply let my protagonist guide me through an expedition. Like going on a proper field trip, he took me on an adventure, Indiana Jones would envy. Soon, I wrote my first few pages of the novel.

Departing the coffee shop, I was liberated with power of the written word. Soon, my protagonist and I became best friends. He spoke to me in the most random of places. The whole city became a personalized creative space.

“Would I finish this novel by the end of November?” Asked I. My character, responded with a proper, “who knows, who cares” answer. In the meantime, I reveled in a novel writing adventure, which beats a trek up the Himalayas, any day.


Flying Saucers Over New York

Schadenfreude is German for laughing at someone else’s misery. I remember the agony and fear associated with a flying soccer ball. It flew through the sky like a bird heading down south for the winter. Swiftly, it happened detour and headed toward my face. With agony, I yelled. From the distance, I could see my classmates laughing their heads of.

It happened slow motion. Rather, than actually being a proper goalie, I avoided the hit. The ball landed in the goalie net. The opposing team won. My teammates resembled hiynias out for beef tartar. I smiled nervously. “Shit, at least, I didn’t hit my precious face,” said I.

New York City-Present day

“Fall, fall, wonderful fall,” said I. The skies mirrored the Atlantic’s majestic blue. While crisp ice winds delighted the senses. That morning Anna and I enjoyed a lovely brunch in the East Village. Afterwards, we headed toward Tompskin’s Square Park. In the midst of hippies, an old man with pet ferrets and several street musicians, we found our bohemian exodus.

In a grassy knoll, boys played soccer. “Oh god, please don’t hit me in the face,” said I, internally. As the ball flew in all directions, it eventually hit a boy in the stomach. “Oh god, flashback. That boy looks like me. He also must have my same hatred of flying balls too,” said I. Fortunately for us, the soccer madness ended. We went back to retreating in the grass.

I continued to revel in extreme splendidness. However, I also felt a great deal of gratitude. At thirty, I had a job, which adored. I live in my own Manhattan apartment with a wonderful urban family and plenty of stimulation. Finally, I found a peaceful era in life.

On a sunny Tuesday, the crisp fall weather fled town. It’s humid cousin from Florida made a comeback. While the clouds disguised Mr. Sunshine in a most unflattering grey frock, I walked down Lexington Avenue. From the sky, fell an alien object.

“Ouch, ” I declared. I fell to the ground. My life flashed before my eyes. “Hello, childhood in California, Catholic school, film school, loosing my virginity to that cute guy, mom’s death, moving into all my New York apartments, endless flights across the Pacific and Atlantic. What’s going on? Why did I just experience such dramatic flashbacks? And why did I not experience unicorns and Mary Martin belting fabulous show tunes? ” Asked I.

“Wait a second, I didn’t die,” said I. Waking up in fetal position, I proclaimed, “ouch, I just got hit with the world’s biggest soccer ball.”  After a nice whack on the head, I woke up.

I was alone in my apartment. The apartment was lit from streetlights glowing through the window. A tear fell from my eye. My throbbing head really came from a terrible hangover. The giant soccer ball was courtesy of the school of life, which handed me an unexpected kick.

“Hello, fun-employment,” said I. On that faithful day, I was laid off. I felt like an eight-year old, me, reeling from the pangs of an aggressive soccer ball. I stayed in fetal position. The drilling in my head morphed into the sounds of a telephone ringing.

“Come back to California for a while and recoup,” said my dad. “I can’t. It’s better that I stay in New York and deal with my current life situation,” said I. The evening skies darkened. I felt truly alone in my apartment and attempted to fall asleep to Mozart’s dazzling sounds.

Dearest Mozart couldn’t take away the pangs of pain, which crippled my soul. The next day, I woke up with the magical flutes accompanying me. I stared into Seventh Avenue from my modest apartment. I breathed in and said, “at least, I won’t get hit by a huge soccer ball, today. Oy, that was painful.”

Motivation was slowly fleeing. Unexpectedly, I daydreamed about the west coast and it’s many quirks. I exhaled and called my dad. “Howdy, I’m coming out to California for a while,” said I. The pain slowly drifted and with a swift click of button, I was en route to California that exact day. Quickly, I packed a carry on and bolted out of my apartment.

The crisp fall weather was in hibernation, since it was still unseasonably humid. I hailed a cab and was off to JFK. Upon arrival at my gate, I was excited to leave New York behind for a while. Although, I had amazing memories at my old job and an even more amazing work family. This would mark a new exhilarating season of  “Gay & the city” (aka my life in New York).

I boarded my connecting flight to Dallas. Excitedly, I closed my eyes and imagined California. As I reopened my eyes, there he stood. He was a handsome, tall, Texan with a distinct draw. “Hi,” he said with a smile. I replied the same, with a twinkle in my eye. “Wow, goodbye New York, if this is my neighbor for the rest of the flight, I’m one lucky goose,” said I.

As expected, the plane took off. Cotton balls hovered over the New York skies like a flying saucer. The sun reflected it’s spiritual beams against my rosy cheeks. I took a deep breath. “Indeed, I’m watching E.T. on this flight and sitting next to a rather charming cowboy. Yee-haw, life ain’t so shabby, after all, said I.

Beatnik Heartbeat

In my last year of suburban innocence, I took one bold step. Upon entering a darkened basement, my eyes gazed into an unexpected sight. The intensity of a beating drum romanced my senses.

“I am the party star. I am popular,” sang the band. They were covering the anthem of 90’s teenage angst, popular. Quirky artwork filled the walls of the basement. The brightness served as a lighted candle. People sat in Indian style, bobbing their heads to the music. I smiled from ear to ear. Along with my friend, Nicky, we were taking in the intoxicating bohemian surroundings in the midst of our conservative town.

We joined the other revelers and sat Indian style. It was my first foray into open mic night at Back to the Grind, our local independent coffee house.

Poets went up on stage. Each spoke eloquently of their life experiences. Nervously, I fidgeted with my notebook paper. After one poet turned his poetry into a musical number to remember, the stage was left empty. I took a deep breath and galloped on stage.

The spotlight hit my face. It was harsh and intensified, when I read the first lines of the poem. I The words flowed with a proper theatrical accent. I took one last breath and quickly read the poem without stuttering. The audience clapped. I bowed and that marked my debut as poet. “This is going to be me, forever, audience applause, thought, I.

Years went by, and I didn’t write poetry. Instead, I wrote plays and short stories. Then one day, while sitting in a most cliché of surroundings, an East Village coffee shop. I opened up my $1 black marble notebook and filled the blank pages with a spontaneous poetry. “I’m back, I declared.

Soon, I immersed myself in New York’s poetry scene, attending reading after reading. Secretly, I longed to have the spotlight on my own work. My opportunity arrived.

A poet friend told me of open mic night at the Sidewalk Café in the East Village. Joyfully, I decided to share my poetry with an audience.

That day, the skies above Astor Place were an inspirational shade of hazy grey. I made my way through east Seventh Street. Nerves were ignited like fireworks over a darkened sky. “Oy, I need to go in front of perfect strangers and reveal my soul. This sounded wonderful an hour ago. Am I mad? Asked I, walking toward Alphabet City.

I took a seat on a bench in leafy Tompskin’s Square Park, Central Park’s grungy cousin. A sweet melody seduced my senses. “What is this most serenading sound?” asked I. To the corner of my eye was a folk band playing harmonious music. Instantly, my anxiety levels subsided.

“I just need to relax. This is the East Village, where (beat poet) Allen Ginsburg was inspired and famous punk bands played. I am joining a grand tradition of creative types inspired by the clash of folk music and grit, which engulf the landscape,” said I.

I left the comfort of a park bench for the venue. “ Nervousness, what the fuck is that?” asked I, practically skipping into the bar. The nervous fireworks returned. I stared into the crowd, which was half hipster and thought “I don’t think they’re going to get my poetry.

With great bravery, I signed up. “I’ll take a glass of wine and a burger,” said I to the waitress. “Food and wine will help ease my nerves,” thought I. An uneasy feeling lingered.

The first poets stepped on stage. “Sex, cultural differences and body image issues are going to be covered & the audience will applaud,” were my initial thoughts. “Fuck, I am genius, declared I. Most of the poems revolved around those topics. The audience ate it up like a warm knish on freezing cold day.

My name didn’t come up. “That’s weird I signed up for open mic, when am I going to be called? Asked I. After one last poem about lesbian desires, intermission happened. Suddenly, I was called up for the poetry slam, where one gets judged for their work. “Fuck, I signed up for open mic. This has to be a mistake,” said I.

I had preconceived ideas on a poetry slam. Shrugging my shoulders, I gave it a whirl. The first poet went up, she read a poem about Billy Holliday, which she later turned into a story about sex. “Oy, this story makes me happy to be gay, “ thought I.

The audience clapped. She left the stage. With much shock, she was given a score by random judges. “Shit, they’re giving out scores? You get judged for bearing your soul? How can people give out scores for this?” asked I with a swift eye roll.

Escaping was not a viable option. Soon, I went on stage. I made a joke. Nobody laughed. Then I read my poem to an ocean of emotionless faces. The experience was a speedy one. I finished and left the stage. The audience clapped, politely.

My score was low, very low. Oh, my poor poetic soul free fell into disappointed. I kept a brave demeanor, but bolted out of the venue after the show ended.

“This was such a disappointment. My first show in years and nobody got me,” said I. Like many disappointed writers before me, I took an obvious step.

“Dad, the show sucked. Everybody hated me. I don’t think I want to do this again,” said I, on the phone. My dad with a giggle responded, “You had the guts to go up on stage. I am proud of you. So, you feel like shit now, but you’re the type to just keep on going, no matter how much people hate you. After an uplifting conversation, I dusted myself off and carried on.

Rather, than feeling like a failure, I walked crosstown to the subway. “ This is only the beginning and fuck, if I didn’t do well on this show. My poetry-reading journey has just begun. While crossing Fifth Avenue, I let out the following words, “fuck it.” From there, I planned my next performance. More importantly, I know I did something right, when a group of silly hipsters just didn’t get it.