I was sitting at my cube crunching some numbers for an administrative budget report when she sort of hammered her way across the office to my desk. I could see the orange silk scarf waiving in the office air. The scent of her French perfume was taking over. And, judging from the speed and jittery way in which she was approaching this was going to be one those encounters.
Fists clenched, neck straining and tears welling up in her expressive eyes she spoke in that theatrically clipped manner which she has become her trademark. One must love a talented diva.
“We have to talk. We have to talk this very minute! We have to talk now!”
I push my paper work forward and look up. “What’s wrong, Ellen?”
“It’s my cube!”
“Ellen, stop wringing your hands. What’s wrong with your cube?”
Her voice goes up at least two octaves, her face was becoming pinched and red. “There isn’t enough room to breathe. I need room to be me! In fact, I require it! I need a desk of my own! Not some fucking cube!”
“Well, I understand. Stress can get to all of us. Why don’t we talk about that.”
“No! I require a desk of my own! I’m somebody!”
“Ellen, we use cubes here. We have a few desks but we give those to folks who need the space for extra monitors or larger scale computer equipment. You know this. What’s going on? I’m sure we can find a solution. Let’s just — ”
“Look, goddammit! I’m an Academy Award winning actress! I fucking matter and I need a that desk! Sure, I know. I’m over 50. What do I matter to you??!!? Right? You want me to just smile and show you my perfect teeth and kind almost motherly qualities. Well, this ain’t no American Quilt and I’m not some one trick administrative pony! No!”
“Ellen, I never meant to imply that! I can see your upset. Let’s just —”
Tears pouring down her cheeks, she collapses in my guest chair and appears defeated. “You know, sometimes a girl just needs to be able to shove all the work off the counter, climb up and stretch out her arms to The Creator and have a moment! That is what I need! That is what I require!”
And, with that she fell forward. Her head hidden in her arms which were now on top of my administrative report. She appeared to be crying, but I wasn’t convinced.
“Ellen, please. Let’s go downstairs and talk. Please. Um, that report is almost finished and you’re on top of it. If you could just lift up for a second I could, and I think your messing your hair up.”
Suddenly, dramatically self-righteous and indignant. “Oh, yes! You and your precious little reports! Did you ever think that my needs might be a bit more important that some shitty report!?!?!? I need to stretch up to my Creator. Ever since that son-of-a-bitch, Billy, pulled those cords when I could have easily tossed myself! THE EXORCIST nearly killed my back and it strained my very soul! Do you actually think I’m worried about my hair?!?!?”
“Yes, I do.”
“Well, yes. I appreciate your concern. I don’t think I messed it up too much. Did I?” She looked around for a mirror of any sort.
“No, you look fabulous!”
Clearing her throat and sitting up in the guest chair, “But, you’re not hearing me you silly motherfucker! I’ve paid my dues! I was walking the boards when you were still in diapers, you little punk!”
“Actually, I don’t think I had yet to be born. But, my aunt took me to see ALICE DOESN”T LIVE HERE ANYMORE when I was about 6. She had this huge crush on Kris Kristofferson and you were her idol. I still think that might be your best work as an actress and — ”
Leaning into my face, the perfume was becoming intoxicating. “Get me a desk! Christ!”
And, with that, she threw my report to the floor, stood up, pulled at her scarf and pranced out of the office.
Jane Alexander walked up to my cube looking somehow self-satisfied. She was holding a solid but compact stack of files. “Well, what’s her problem today?”
“I think Ellen Burstyn needs more space.”
“Yeah, well. Don’t we all?” And, then, as an afterthought, Jane re-positioned herself so the sun light coming from outside the office windows formed a perfect halo of back-lighting perfection. Quite poised — she began to speak, “Personally, I get more pleasure stretching my arms up to The Creator in the lobby. And, more people notice. So, there is always a better chance for applause and praise. Dustin and I do that every day now. If Ellen didn’t always have to create a scene she could join us. That bitch is always upstaging me! You know, Louis Fletcher and I could have had a chance if that designer bitch had not been so busy stealing our scenes!”
And, then. Then. …Well, then — I woke up.
I was craving a bagel. …with lots of cream cheese.
Then, I could not figure out how to get to the third floor for my appointment no matter how hard I studied the directories for the medi-plex.
I approached the gum smacking receptionist reading “The Star” with a bit of dread.
“I have an appointment with Dr. ________ and I can’t figure out how to get to his office.”
“Just take the third elevator on the left side down that other hall!”
“The third elevator in the other hall?”
“Yes, sir” tilting her head to the right as if to indicate the ‘cute-ness’ level of my question
“It is a little bit confusing. There are four hallways. It looks like three, but there are four. Now, be sure to get on the third elevator on the left side! Be sure to have your ID and medical card ready!”
“Ok. This is sort of like being in that movie, BRAZIL.”
I’ve gotten used to doctors being younger than me. This started happening when I was around 36 or so. But, now, at 40 — it is getting ridiculous! Dr. ________ literally bounced into the exam room. I don’t think he is old enough to be admitted without an adult guardian. …to anything.
“Wow! Mr. Stanfield! HHT! That is wild! When were you diagnosed?”
“You can call me Matt or anything other than Mr. Stanfield.”
“Sure, thing! Now that you’re older you will want to really keep an eye on things. It looks like you’ve waited a while to get everything checked out!”
“I didn’t have insurance coverage, but I was feeling fine until about two months ago.”
“Yeah. Let’s have a look see! If you could just lean back, Sir.”
“Ugh! Can you hear that?!?!”
“They are playing Gwen Stefani in the waiting room again! Don’t you think she is a little old to be singing that style of music? All these older women acting like their kids. I don’t get it.”
“Isn’t she, like, I don’t know, 33 or something?”
“Yep! No babe alert there!”
As I was riding the bus back toward The Castro I was forced to watched a couple of college-age’d kids making out in the seat across from me. I found it annoying that his jeans were so ass-less and pulled down that I could almost see the fly of his boxers and that her ‘muffin-top’ looked rather painful. I should think it will take surgery to remove the crimp that must be indented into her body by those seemingly-painted-on-jeans.…do guys really think this is a hot look!?!? Isn’t lack of “over-hang” a better thing?
I had to fight the urge to shake my head and say, “Oh, those kids!” …but, fight it I did and I won out. However, my face must have said it all. I turned my head away only to be faced with a look of disgust from the woman sitting near them. She shook her head and gave me a look and said, “What is wrong with kids today?!!?”
I step’d with caution off the bus. I was so hungry. Then I realized that I hadn’t eaten anything but a cup of cream of wheat at about 6:30am this morning. It was 2:30pm. I had forgotten to eat. I had to check my ID to be sure I was born in 1966 and not 1936. Nope. 1966. I shrug’d and I swatted at the youngsters with a cane and got to the font of the line, ordered my dry turkey sandwich and limp’d home.
…someone named “Ricky” sent me a DVD of this movie!!!! I am not sure who Ricky is, but thank you! I so loved this movie when it came out! I mean — how can one go wrong with a film in which Judd Nelson has third arm growing out of his back while Bill Paxton plays the accordion!?!? And, I’m pretty sure that Wayne Newton shows up for no apparent reason. And, I see that Judd Nelson provides commentary for the DVD!!!
Anyway, me & B are going to be in Canada for a few days. Will be meeting B’s beautiful new niece and it will be my first time to meet his sister-in-law! It will be awesome! It will be good to get away for a few days. I’ve got my fingers crossed for no headaches!
Back next week!
I don’t think I will really have much if any access to a computer.
An Addendum: Ok, is it me or isn’t “Short Skirt/Long Jacket” by Cake one of the all-time coolest songs around??!?!? …the video is pretty damn cool, too.
I can’t seem to think of the quote or the person who said/wrote it but we all know that old rule: …life waits for no one. Or, is Ed Asner? Maybe it is Ed Asner waits for no one. No. That doesn’t sound right. And, I suspect that Mr. Asner would wait if asked or required. He might get a little annoyed, but one would suspect that Mary kept Ed waiting quite a bit. Probably still does on some level. Actually, one would have to anticipate that Mary has kept just about everyone waiting. Even Rhoda and Phyllis. Actually, yes. I guess it isn’t life that refuses to wait for anyone but Mary Tyler Moore. Odd, really because I don’t think I’d wait for Mary. …for Rhoda? Yes. for Mary, Ed or Phyllis?
But, I digress. What I was trying to say is that things seem to come up or happen when least expected. B is facing a particularly busy time at work, I’m dealing with a rather stressful round of medical testing, stress/anxiety-induced migraines and am a short term leave imposed by my doctors. But, it looks like we are about to move out of my beloved GayTown to go over the bridge to Oakland.
I’m not sure if I’ve written much about it but B is an artist. He is an architect by day but an artist by night/weekend if he can fit it into the scope of his free time. Here is a sample of one of his works: He is quite talented. Ever since I’ve known him he has talked about wanting to secure an artist’s loft space in which we can live and work. …on art projects. We have a really awesome space in the Castro. It is hard to imagine letting it go. But, we got a call a little over a week ago about two open units at an artist’s loft building in Oakland. A place B has been wanting to get into since way before he knew me. We went and took a look.
And, we both fell in love with the space of it all. The building is an old clothing manufacture plant which has been “converted” to loft spaces for artists. Huge apartments that provide freedom of the imagination and fellow neighbors who are open to noise in the name of art. The building (first picture at the start of this post) is right off BART — about an 8 minute ride from San Francisco on the train and about 12 minute drive (depending upon traffic) — is filled with cool abandoned pieces of art throughout the common spaces. You take one of those wicked cool old elevators up to your unit’s floor. The hall ways are wide, filled with art and filled with a sort of positive energy. …the unit that we like is 1400 sq feet of open space plus a full bathroom to the side. We will be able to install our own washer/dryer and can have a dog! …Two major perks in my book!
And, the rent is quite cheap.
We debated, discussed and lamented over it for some time. B couldn’t be an busier. I don’t feel well. But, these lofts seldom become available. And, this will finally allow B the freedom to get back to focusing on his art pursuits. It will also allow me, when I’m all well and feeling better, the ability to really pursue my FlashDance dreams! I mean — Kids, this is the sort of loft space one used to find in parts of NYC before they all became chic art galleries and condos for movie stars! This is a cool space.
Of course, there are other down sides: a very lonely and what I suspect is a not so all together safe place. We will be driving to/from work for a while. And, it could be that I will end up with a cheap car of my own. The Element is so big! …And, my skills as a driver or somewhat — um, limited? And, we’re leaving GayTown! My beloved Castro. Of course, it is getting so expensive to live here. Many are leaving. It just isn’t easily afforded anymore. But, we are tired of lugging our laundry to a launderette, we want a dog and some times it would be nice to be able to leave the apartment without worrying about what you’re wearing.
We may get there and discover we just can’t stand living out of The City. If this is the case, we have agreed that we will simply move back. Tho, we will end up in the Sunset district as The Castro is just too expensive and we want a bigger place. B has a lot of stuff!
However, I think this will be so cool! We envision so many things we can do with the space! I can finally get a turntable! Yes! And, I can perfect my “Maniac” dance moves in peace! And, Ing can bring her laundry over as soon we get the units set up!!!
At the moment, I’m not allowed to do any lifting or too much physical activity beyond walking. So, poor B will be stuck with most of the work on his own. But, he is cool with doing that. It is not the ideal time for either of us to move. Moving is life’s number one stressor. But, effective September 1st we can start to work on the unit and we are to move in for October 1st. I sure hope I am cleared to return to work by then. …That means, B will be supervising the move with the movers on his own. But, he can handle it.
…B snap’d this picture of me sitting on the floor of the loft. I was contemplating an idea I have for a Wall-O-Barbra. However, I think this idea has been closed. I can still have my Barbra Column as is currently in our bedroom, but no full-on wall.
Wow. It is going to be odd to leave SF. Of course we’re only a few minutes away. But, is Oakland a cool address?!?!? I’m just not sure. All I know is that the unit is wicked cool! And, I think we’re going to be very happy there once everything sort of calms down! …and, my head stops hurting!
Life doesn’t seem to want to wait for anyone, but I think Ed and Mary would agree: sometimes you just have to roll with the flow. Things have a way of working out. …and nothing is ever set in stone. This will be cool!
Several weeks ago I was walking home from work and passed The Roxie Cinema. As I walked passed this cool, chic and decaying theatre I noticed a French movie poster. Imagine my surprise when I realized it was THE Isabelle Huppert on that poster! Yes! It was an film staring Ms. Huppert and I hadn’t even known it was here!!!
So, I pulled out the cell phone and called an emergency cinema summit! These meeting of great minds consisted of me, Ing, Alan and Mr. C. B was unable to join as he had a work commitment. So, the four of us sat in the tiny cinema and were soon engulfed into something that I don’t think any of us had expected.
As always, Isabelle H was extraordinary. But, what made the experience all the better was the fact that the film was exceptional on all levels!! If I had to sum up the film’s plot — I would say it was about the family secrets behind closed doors kept.
Having thought a great deal about this film, that old essential element of creativity kept ringing in my inner-ear: Tell what you know! …Every single one of us has more stories to tell than could ever be translated to book, film or record in a lifetime. But, these stories are seldom put to use. They go away with us. …our memories. …and our lives. …they remain hidden away.
And, some of the most amazing of stories are the simplest ones. — The ones that happen every day. The ones we choose not to share because they are too personal and far too private to simply let out for the world to see, hear or read. This little film from France by Belgium filmmaker, Joachim Lafosse, is one such story.
Cleverly and almost statically filmed — as if the camera (we, the viewers) are flies on walls. …or flies flitting about potted plants. We flit about unnoticed as this simple — yet, complex story unfolds. And, it unfolds in those most intimate of places. The places where life does unfold: the dining room, the living room, the bathroom and the heart. And, as viewers hiding behind the plants and in the shadows we feel the awkwardness of what we see. And, we know that what we see is often just inappropriate. However, we hesitate to toss too many stones at the characters because we all know that these inappropriate moments in ordinary lives are, in many ways, all too familiar to us. Perhaps not familiar in the sense that what we see has happened to us, but we all have secrets from our living rooms, bedrooms, bathrooms and dining rooms that we know were odd, incorrect, inappropriate and very private. Strange as it feels, there is something within this film to which we relate and fear.
There is musical score until the final moments of the movie — Final moments which are emotionally raw, tragic and unforgettable. We fly away from this private story of family secrets which are grim, strange and unsettling. We fly away because that is exactly what the director’s camera does. Or, is it that we run from the sick truth of the situation as it has unfolded? The lack of music makes the film all the more believable, but it is with the sudden jarring effect of violent music which arrives with the devastating final tracking shot packs quite a punch to the gut. I am not sure. I want to say that the music is taken from composer Carl Orff, but I don’t really know.
The acting is amazing. I read a review which called Huppert’s work in it as a “flawlessly calibrated performance” — I wish I could remember where I read that and who wrote it. But, for me, that really sums of the film.
I suppose the film’s title could be viewed as a reference to not only what has gone on in the lives of this family for which the parents failed to set any boundaries — and the dire need for them. But, it could also refer to the heart of the central character — the mother. …who seems to be fighting with all her power to avoid being cut up into emotional and literal private property for her children, her lover, her ex-husband and her employer. Why is it that films like this are so rare? Truth is much stranger than fiction. And the weirdest things are happening right near you. …Maybe even to you. Yet, artists seem to strain to make things horrific. Horror films and scary stories do not have to be about monsters hiding in the closet or knife wielding psychos.
Most horrors are committed in the seemingly most innocent of ways. And, without much notice. And, there is no need for flash editing, spooky lighting or 90 minutes worth of shrieking violins.
…all you need is the strength to tell the story — no matter how unsettling. I think that is a major part of art.
It is 5:50 AM on a Friday morning. I’ve just taken a dose of Maxalt — which I find to be rather magical for migraine pain! I’ve done my deep breathing and positive thought attempt at meditation.
This morning I’m more nervous than ususal. So, I wanted to think of something that has brought me joy. So I thought of the evening of Monday, May 8th of last year. It was that night that Ing treated me to see Goldfrapp in concert at the legendary Fillmore.
This was one of those memories you treasure. And, not just because we saw a kick-ass show by one of the coolest bands since Blondie at THE coolest rock hall in the US — but, also, because I saw it with a best friend who can make me laugh, smile and just feel great. Our enthusiasm and excitement feeds between each other. The energy is usually always high and we totally rule the evening.
I’m thinking of hot British strippers in horse, monster and deer heads. I’m thinking of hot Jesus-like electronic fiddle players. …Of painfully thin and cute rockers.
…of a perfect, petit singer who could do all manner of moves in impossible heels and never stray from the notes. …of a tweaked audience jumping and cheering. …and, of me and Ing just having such a fucking awesome time!
Monday, May 8th 2006 — that was a fun night. Well, Goldfrapp is finishing up the new LP. A track or two has been leaked. Could be a whole new sound. I just hope that they come back our way!
…this actress is in a great deal of trouble. The kind of trouble that is hard to explain. As she tells the man in the suit, bloody screwdriver in hand, “…and, this is the kind of crazy shit I’m talkin’ about!”
Yes, David Lynch’s experimental cinematic masterpiece has come out on DVD in the US, Canada, the UK and France. It really must be seen! …and the extras so totally rock! Cooking lessons from Mr. Lynch! Odd directing moments forever captured on film! …what is it that he is whispering to Laura Dern as he directs her!?!? I suspect he is directing her with such comments as “blue” “green” “blurry” etc. Or, at least this is what I’d like to believe. The creepy short of the ballerina (which I think must be an outtake from the film itself. And, over 75 minutes of unused footage which Mr. Lynch has edited together. Confusing, funny, scary and totally unforgettable! Art! …and the Valley Girl Locomotion!
Thanks for all the sweet emails. I’m fine — just working thru some issues. Today, at lunch — after speaking to one of the doctors I jotted down a few of my woes in the form of statements that I’ve either said or have had said to me. It sort of sums it all up in a way that I hope is not boring or a downer.
Diagnosed in 2000:
HHT: Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia (HHT) is a genetic disorder of the blood vessels, which affects approximately 1 in 5,000 people. It affects males and females from all racial and ethnic groups. HHT primarily affects 4 organ systems; the lungs, brain, nose and gastrointestinal (stomach, intestines or bowel) system. The affected arteries either have an abnormal structure causing increased thinness or an abnormal direct connection with veins (arteriovenous malformation). The basic problem in HHT is a thinning of the arterial blood vessel walls. These thin vessels are called telangiectases. This can cause internal bleeding in areas where one would not want internal bleeding. The chances for increased telangiectases increases with age. An individual with HHT should be screened every two to three years. The good news is that most all of the issues cause by HHT can be corrected with surgery if caught in time. The areas of most concern are the brain and the digestive system.
“I’ve had a headache for over a month and I just can’t deal with the pain anymore. I have insurance and think we need to get me scanned.”
“You’re almost two years late being screened and that is not a good idea as you will be 41 at the end of the year.”
“I just told you I need to be scanned. I didn’t have insurance that would cover the scanning.”
“There seems to be a problem with some of your blood work and we have a concern with your brain scan. We need to do a different type of imaging scan and some more tests.”
“I have had 6 migraines in less than a 8 days. I can’t keep food down and am missing way too much work. Can I get some migraine medication?”
“Mr. Stanfield, it looks like your migraines have increased in intensity and there is bleeding in your nasal passages that seems to be draining to your stomach instead of becoming nose bleeds.”
“Is that bad?”
“Honey, you really need to eat more and, B, you’ve got to stop smoking. You really do!”
“Mr. Stanfield, we just got the results back from the second imaging. We’d like you to come in tomorrow to meet with another neurologist.”
“Am I ok?”
“Sure, but we do not want you doing any lifting or activity that would cause you to exert to the point of sweating.”
“I don’t know what to do. They are screening YENTL at the Castro, but it is for Midnight Maniacs. I can’t just sit there while 300 plus people make fun of Barbra’s dream film!?!?
But, this might be the last chance I get to see it on the screen!”
“I’m sorry. I can’t deal with anymore testing right now and I can’t afford to miss any work as I’m going to Canada at the end of the month. Can we do the scanning and other tests starting mid-September?”
“Yes, that should be fine. However, do not engage in any physical activity that would cause enough excertion to perspire.”
“But, isn’t YENTL ridicule-worthy?”
“No! And, even if it were — only I can ridicule it!”
“Mr. Stanfield, it looks like you’ve had a minor stroke. There doesn’t appear to be any damage of significance but we’d like to do some more tests.”
“I don’t know. I just don’t feel well. I have no energy. I’m having trouble sleeping and my head just hurts.”
“If the back of the left side of your head should start hurting, we’d like you to call and come on in.”
“Matt, there is glass in my drink.”
“Did you drink any of it?
“I just don’t feel like myself. I don’t really feel bad, but I don’t feel right.”
“Mr. Stanfield, we can’t start the scanning procedure until mid-September anyway but we do need for you to come in this Friday. We’ve scheduled several appointments. You will be here all day.”
“I can’t keep missing so much work.”
“This is your health, Mr. Stanfield. We can provide you with documentation for your employer if there should be a problem.”
“Didn’t Yentl come out in 1982?”
“So, what is it exactly that you all are worried about?”
“Well, we’re not really worried but there is concern. We don’t want a brain aneurysm.”
“Mr. Stanfield, you’re not gaining weight but you seem to be holding at 181. You really need to be no heavier than 170. Ideally, your weight should stay between 160 and 170lbs.”
“But, if I can’t work out or sweat — how do I drop any more weight unless I cut back on my eating even more?!?!?”
“B, this is the second night in a row you were up all night working. That is not good!”
“You guys are really starting to worry me. Do you think I’m bleeding somewhere and that is why I don’t feel well? I’m having trouble holding food down.”
“Well, Mr. Stanfield, we feel that you might be a little stressed out, worried and depressed. After all, you’re dealing with a lot of medical concerns at the moment.”
“Really? Do ya think? No shit! Wow! I would have never thought of that! What should we do do you think?!?!”
“No. I don’t want any of those meds. I think it is pretty damn normal to be stressed out and even a little depressed. I think behavioral treatment and relaxation techniques would be just as — if not more effective!”
“Well, let’s have you meet with this doctor. You’ll need to plan on being at his office for a 2 hour meeting.”
“Doctor, I hope you don’t take this too personally — but I think I very well might hate you.”
“Well, but YENTL just isn’t one of Barbra’s best movies.”
Today was one of those perfect San Francisco days —- sunny with a cool breeze. I had my ipod out and the ear plugs in, but I had pressed it to off. I had meant to return it to my bag, but I guess I had forgotten.
The bus took off.
I had taken the one seat next to an older lady. I put my head back and closed my eyes. I heard the bus driver bellow:
“Someone has their head set too loud! Turn it down or off, please!”
I heard a passenger further down the bus: “Hey! Turn your iPod down!”
Then, the voice of an angry young man – “Hey! Skinny dude in the funky shirt! Turn your iPod down!”
Then I heard the older lady next to me call out: “It isn’t his!”
“Yo! It is! Ain’t nobody else with an iPod! Hey, fashion dude! Turn your iPod off!”
I opened my eyes and the lady leaned into me, “They think it is your iPod that’s so loud.”
“And, that kid is calling me a skinny guy?!?!”
“I guess so.”
I turned toward the kid and realized the whole bus was looking at me. I held up the iPod to show the black screen: “See? It’s not me! My iPod is off!”
Everyone looked confused.
We came to the next stop and it was at this point that we all realized who had their iPod blasting so loud.
There was a very old man who stood up slowly. And, I do mean old. Like David-Bowie-Being-Put-In-The-Attic-Coffin-Catherine-Deneuve-kind-of-old! As the bus lowered to assist the old man step off on to the street, everyone began to giggle.
After the bus took off, I turned to the lady next to me and said, “Wow, I guess that just goes to show that Hip Hop knows know age limit!”
“Or, that Hip Hop has gone the way of disco!”
Suddenly, I felt old. …but someone on the planet mistook me for being skinny. And, I was happy. Despite the fact that I was about to spend the afternoon visiting with doctors.