Sunday, May 29, 2005
My First Internet Relationship part 3
We would talk on the phone frequently and see each other more often. And Robin even went out with my friend Mark. An interesting aside was that just after introducing himself to her he offered that he was lactose intolerant; which neither Tammy, nor Robin, nor myself could figure out why that would be offered up as a means of introductory conversation. “Hey I’m Mark, by the way I’m lactose intolerant.” No, that doesn’t seem to be on the top ten list of things to say on a first date. And that’s as far as it went. She seemed weirded out by him and didn’t want to date him again. Coincidently Mark didn’t like her either though he wouldn’t be specific. She probably wasn’t as into sci-fi as he was. I don’t know and I really didn’t care. All was going well for me.
Familiarity, however, does breed contempt. I had been calling her from work, because she used to want to hear my voice during the day. And on days we wouldn’t see one another wed talk for at least an hour on the phone, or IM one another. I had changed my screen name to a sickening combo of our initials with LUVZ between them. Yeah I know. Even I can succumb to feminine wiles once in a while as well. Sorry I am only human. On the weekends that we would see one another she would not talk as much anymore and began to say things like, “we talk all day, there’s nothing left to say.” And then, her friends. It was me and Tammy. That is, it was me, Tammy, and Ellen and Robin. All the time. Then Robin started to date this guy next door to her, so it was the five of us. All the time.
I wanted some alone time so I broached the subject and she said that’s what couples do, they hang with other couples, I guess she was forgetting her other friend, but I didn’t mind them. I said well couples hang with other couples and then hey spend time alone as well. We decided to take a week off from seeing one another. Just to take a breather.
(to be concluded)
(btw I am aware that grammatically it is “Tammy and I” but for my construct it works better as is)
Saturday, May 28, 2005
A Letter For My File
One day a student was playing with a lighter. I warned him to put it away because or I would call the Deans office to confiscate it. He did so. Now in this beatific program we call RAMP UP, I have to, at times read picture books to the class, and I was doing so on this day. Soon I smelt something burning, and saw the student with the lighter had burned a corner of a book (for his INDEPENDENT READING, too bad it wasn’t Fahrenheit 451 because then he could argue he was making a social statement). The pages were singed, and I called security. He bolted out of the room before they could arrive, when he did so, they (AP of Security) figured he didn’t have to come because the student had left the room.
The AP security calls AP of my department. I am called into a meeting and reprimanded for what the student did. Days later I get a letter, for my file that said I should have physically confronted the student and take the offending item from him. The lighter. Had I done this, I would have gotten in trouble for physically contacting the student, and for confiscating a possession, neither of which is in my job description, and if I had done either, even if it is in common sense, the right thing to do, I would have been in the wrong, thus is the logic in the Department if Education.
Thursday, May 26, 2005
In my program we had to bring in a piece and read it out loud in class. The only woman in the class was usually burdened with reading many female roles, and on this day was no exception. After the play is read there is usually a critique session. And on this day, Madeline (names have been changed to protect the guilty...Namely me) finds umbrage with one of the lines. The line concerned the protagonist who was a virgin, saying that she believed him when he said he was wearing a condom. In actuality he was not. She, the protagonist. Not the woman from class, got pregnant as a result of that encounter.
Madeline said that she would be able to tell if he had on a condom. Now, I know when I have one on, but I was now curious so I pressed the issue.
"So you are telling me that she would be able to tell."
"Of course, you can see him put it on."
"It was dark, she was a virgin and nervous, she wasn't watching him."
She thought a moment. "Well she can tell, you can feel it."
That confused me.
"Can you?" I asked.
She flashed me a look like she was goosed by an umbrella that then opened as it slid out.
"Can you tell?" I pressed on.
"Are you asking me this?" she asked.
Damn it seemed as though I would have to spell it out for her. I was curious and now I was on the spot, so I figured what the hell.
"Yes, Madeline, as a woman, can you tell if a guy is wearing a condom?"
There I said it. Damn was that a mistake she went off.
"Oh my god, I don't believe this...." and many more things that I am not going to write here at this juncture.
The professor, the late Jack Gelber, decided it was the perfect time to have a break.
She seemed to be more calm when we returned and we didn't talk much the rest of the evening, and during subsequent classes she was all right about things, though when we read my gangster script, I made her read the part of the prostitutes.
I guess I am a bastard, but I never actually got my answer.
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
The Greatest Love Story Ever Sold
because when you fall
you get hurt.
Love is a myth
created and perpetuated
by the greeting card companies
to sell more flowers
& saccharine poetry
Love is a four letter word
than anything ever uttered
Love is a drug
the romantic merely an addict
looking for another fix
The quest is better than the catch
how can you put into words
the intoxicated euphoria
that exists only
in the inebriated hallucination
of what we were
brainwashed to believe is true?
When that "special someone"
is no longer an illusion
no longer an unattainable ideal
you must ask
is that all there is?
And when its over
when the facade cracks
don't be surprised
don't cry about a broken heart
Boo fuckin hoo
here's a quarter
call someone who cares
You don't have a monopoly on sadness.
Get over it!
Look on the bright side!
Stiff upper lip and all that!
Ever notice that the saddest
most visceral love songs
are about heart ache?
Coincidence? I think not.
SNAP OUT OF IT!
and smell the El Pico.
it is a shame
love is a sham
Take up golf or something
your time and energy
is best spent doing something
you know you can get good at
or at least have a chance at...
here in cyberspace
is like waiting for a call that never comes
or a letter that never arrives
or was never even sent
next months check is already spent
and I am struggling to fill the void
here with words
in my life with possessions
positions of power aren't important
but filling the void is all that matters
so here I fill up the box,
I fill the page
to attack the barrenness
with new life
a cogent metaphor
My First Internet Relationship part 2
After the performance, which went stunningly bad, we met in the lobby and decided to go to Del Rio, which was near where I lived. I did not drive so I piled into the car with the three ladies. On the way they made small talk about my play and how it was funny, and romantic, and that I wasn't bad so I shouldn't worry about it.
When we got to the diner we sat at a table and ordered. They brought out the obligatory
cole-slaw and pickle centerpiece, it was rather Fung Shuei (not sure of the spelling, nor do I really care actually) looking as I remember it now, and we continued to talk. At one point Robin had reached for a pickle and bit down and let out a shrill yelp. It seems that she broke off part of her tooth as she bit down on the pickle. A funny remark was made and she said, that her faux pas would make an interesting anecdote. I didn't think so but I included it here.
After she recovered from her dental drama she mentioned that she thought Mark was cute. I had all but stricken him from my memory for making me feel awkward a few hours ago, but thought hey, what the hell, he wasn't dating anyone. So I agreed to set them up.
After more small talk, and trying to be entertaining to all three ladies, it was time to go. They drove me to my house and I made some comment about having to walk my dog Sheena. That's when I found out that Tammy loved animals. She had several dogs, Nico was my favorite, Nico was the offspring of a famous dog who had been in the movie Homeward Bound. You must forgive my tangential meanderings while I tell this story. I have always had a bad habit of telling a story and feeling the need to tell some smaller details but they are usually things I do deep important. Like her working at an Art store, having a rapper as a tenant and loving dogs.
So she wanted to see Sheena so I brought her out to meet Tammy. She knelt down to play with Sheena and well, I always believed that you cant trust a person that hates dogs, and well I felt infinitely more comfortable now that I knew she was a dog person.
Before we parted I made some comment that I really felt easy talking to her and that I was usually shy around new people. She said she was too, and at that point Robin yelled, from the car, "What are you talking about Tammy, your a bitch!" She and Ellen then laughed as did Tammy. She gave me her number and a more than perfunctory kiss goodnight.
Sheena and I watched the car drive away, and as the tail lights faded, my hope of a new relationship brightened.
(to be continued)
Friday, May 13, 2005
Me Being Like New
I had a copy of AOL 2.0 for windows and that service seemed the most user friendly and had the most features, and was the one I used the most, and the one I still use today. Though now I am using DSL to connect and MSN is my primary browser, I still have an AOL account that gets some use. Though AOL is, to me, by far, the best, I had cut my teeth on CompuServe.
I will admit I knew nothing of surfing, or chatting or anything about the Internet at that point, and was eager to learn. I am the type who will try to do something before he reads the manual. Then will go to it only if necessary. I installed the software properly and decided to delve into the more social aspects of the surfing and tried to chat. I didn’t know what I was doing, or thought that was the case. As in life, I was being ignored. I thought I was a real dullard for not being able to figure things out and that is when I was IM-ed by a young girl from Canada named Laura.
She was about 12 or 13 and was very helpful. She told me that I was probably just being ignored. She taught me how to go to other rooms, how to start rooms, and chat room short hand as in LMAO or ROTHL. She was a great guide and teacher, and it wasn’t until we had been chatting awhile that I realized damn, she is a very trusting soul and should be careful while surfing the Internet because she may come across a pervert or something. And it was then that I realized that maybe that may seem what I was since I was still chatting with her.
We still continued to chat for a while, with our emails and chats becoming less frequent until one day, well one day when neither of us saw one another again. I hoped that she had found something in the real world more worthy of her time, and I hope if she is still out there surfing she comes across this blog entry, and reads these words so I can properly thank her for teaching me the skills I know take for granted and that have become second nature to me.
If you are out there, I hope you are well and I want to thank you.
FRIDAY THE 13TH
Paraskevidekatriaphobia: Fear of Friday the 13th
Triskaidekaphobia: Fear of the Number 13
Sometimes I just want to get in my car and drive. It doesn't matter where. I drive about 150 miles a day as it is, but it is always to and from work. Boring. I want to just get in and drive and not worry about getting to work in the morning or if the light is on, or if the milk will go bad. I want to leave this life and start a new one. People seem to do it in the movies all the time. There is something romantic about drifting from place to place and meeting new people and doing new things and not having to worry about a job you dislike, bills to pay, car notes....
I want to be Bruce Banner wandering the countryside righting wrongs...Then again I really cant afford to keep buying clothes, so maybe Jarod from the Pretender, or one of these wandering souls who remains always enigmatic and riotous until the bitter end.
When I am on a trip or a vacation I like the idea of living out of a suitcase, having my bed made for me, and coming and going as I please. And then after you have exhausted all the options, and the thrill dies, as it always does no matter what you do...then you can return home, and truly appreciate it.
The longing for home can only come from the wandering one does in his life. You cant be homesick if you have no home AND you cannot be homesick if you never leave.
Thursday, May 12, 2005
The Daily News and its Anti Teacher Propaganda
Now if I didn't already feel inadequate....
It is not impossible to fire a teacher. That accusation is ludicrous. Lifetime tenure does NOT mean a lifetime job. It means the right to due process. You want to criticize, you want to point a finger, clean up your own backyard.
Parents...RAISE YOUR KIDS. We are not babysitters, we are educators.
Administration...REMEMBER THE CLASSROOM, if you ever even taught in the first place.
Reporters...GET A SUB LICENSE and teach a few classes and see if maybe, god forbid you empathize with us, you can be unbiased in your next article.
The article also criticized the fact that our contract is 200 pages. First of all the contract is about half the size of a regular book and includes charts and other things including a table of contents and an appendix. Also, it is written in English. So read it. And how about this lets have Admin worry less about firing teachers and learn how to work with them to help those who truly need the help the most. The children.
My First Internet Relationship part 1
The night Tammy and I met was interesting insofar as it was a blind internet date. We had met on the internet and had been chatting for about two months when and had several phone conversations. This was back in 1995 so this sort of thing was still relatively new in the world of dating. Some people told me I was crazy for doing this and in retrospect I think it was something that I would have done again. One thing that neither of us had at that time was a GIF or an online picture to send one another, so in the truest sense of the term, it was truly going to be a blind date.
Now blind dates aren't anything new, but what was interesting here was that the night she and I were to meet it was at Brooklyn College after my play was done. I was in the playwrighting program for my MFA working under the now late OBI award winning playwright Jack Gelber and some of the students were having their plays performed. Now I know that sounds cool, but it was at the small basement theatre and we couldn't use the stage and I had to act in it at last minute. I had to act in it, do the lighting and announce the play. Add this to the fact that my blind date was sitting in the audience and well whatever you think you may have felt, just double that and you would have the overwhelming feeling of trepidation I had experienced that night.
All of these things I had to contend with, and all was still fine. I figured that it would be all right. We weren't going to meet until after the show. Now what is my motto people? If it didn't suck....well along comes Mark who calls to me so I can meet his brother. Now not only does he call me by my first name, he shouts out my whole name. "Hey Douglas Vance Castagna!" And repeats it. So I go over to meet his brother and curse the bastard out. (I explained the situation so he too could feel as uneasy as I now did)
I look up in the audience and see three women looking at me, so I go over there, because now they know who I am, and I dont know which one of them was my blind date, so I figure before they bolt, let me go introduce myself.
As I got closer I noticed there were three degrees of attractiveness. I thought the one I was to meet was going to be the third degree, the plainest of them all, (sorry I am only human, flesh and blood...a man) but was pleasently surprised when it was the second one. We all stepped out into the lobby and introduced ourselves. It would appear that they were going to stay for the show and I suggested we go to a diner afterward. They agreed. Damn I hope we are going dutch I thought as we filed back into the theatre.
(to be continuted)
Sunday, May 08, 2005
Never too young to die
Never too old to cry
Never foolish to ask why
product of single parent home
orphaned at 31
my life my own now
but I don't know what to do
how to live
what I want
Its so hard to let loose
& be happy
too much pain in the world
scalpel severing sensitive
nerve endings of fingertips
I never knew my father
but I met him at his funeral
was he ever happy?
I'll never know.
My mother died at 59
about 20 people showed up to her funeral
or to show they are still alive
was she ever happy?
smiling through IV tubes
& why cant I ever feel happiness?
I have been choking on misery
for as long as I have been
as long as I can remember
I was never told that I made her proud
never allowed to live the life I wanted
but I had to do
what I had to do
blood is blood right?
The life I wanted was
now a foregone conclusion
just like that
Orphaned at 31
& now I have all the time
& all the options opened
& I can change the course of my life
but I don't know what to do
I never was able to ask
what I wanted
what I needed
I did what I had to do
& then she was gone.....
Never too young to die
Never too old to cry
I will have to take life as it comes now....
but I forgot to ask why....
Wednesday, May 04, 2005
New Car Seat Smell and Inspection Update
Well as I mentioned briefly a 77 year old man basically replaced my seat. The man is my wife's grandfather, and I went to Far Rockaway, to where he lives to replace my seat. I met him at his place and he got into my car with a bucket full of tools.
Granddad, as I call him is a real character and very sage old man, whom justice wont be done to him in this brief blog, but I will talk about him at a later date.
So I pick him up and he suggests we go to Riis park parking lot so we wont be bothered. I hadn't thought about how obtrusive things would have been if we tried to do this parked on the street. So we went to the park and he looked at the bolts of the seat and pulled out a rachet and started working. He had picked exactly the right size and well I was impress. I am mechanically disinclined almost manually retarded when it comes to home improvement or zen and the art of auto maintenance. Thank god for a guy like Granddad.
So I felt bad and stupid by not partaking but when I offered he declined, in part because they were his tools and he knew how to use them, and in part because he loves to be given a project to complete. When we got to the fourth bolt it was very difficult. He had thought that it might be reversed, and the top would be under the carriage of the car, it sounded logical, so I said I would check under the car.
The jeep is fairly high off of the ground so that wasn't a problem, getting back up was. Though when I was under there saw something and I tried to unbolt it. And was informed, when I was proud at undoing this stubborn piece of metal, that the bolt I intended to undo was still, in fact, intact inside the jeep. Granddad then put the piece back and continued to work at the stubborn last piece.
Eventually he got the seat out. The frame came apart in two pieces. I guess I was lucky that I wasn't in an accident while driving with the odd and broken seat. Now we had to fasten the new seat to the new frame and then set the frame into the car and bolt it in. One problem. bolts on the bottom of the seat needed to be undone with an Allen wrench. Granddad had a whole set. Back at the house.
The old seat was useless and lie like a wounded soldier in the war of commuting. And the new seat wasn't fastened to the car. And Granddad had rode with me. And he lived at least five miles away. Decisions. Decisions. So I placed the new seat on the floor of the car, stuck a milk crate with car supplies behind the seat and wedged a blanket (which had been in the car because the old seat had a piece of jagged metal sticking through that really hurt your thigh after a while) between the seat and the crate and proceeded to drive back to the apartment.
The ride was interesting, whenever I broke, the seat would move up and I would slide under the steering wheel, or I would slide backward and my feet would fall of the pedals. No worries though, I made it back unscathed. And five minutes later Granddad came down with the required tools and the job was soon complete.
After that I finally got my car inspected and with a welcomed change of luck, I didnt have to pay for the inspection again, got my sticker and drove home. Though the seat is new, and doesnt move around when I drive, it is higher and well, a bit tighter. If it didn't suck.....
Monday, May 02, 2005
What If She Gave Me A Chance? Part THREE
I must admit even though nothing had ever happened between us I still had felt something for her, and had hoped she was all right. It was at times like this I would wonder about us, if we would have made it, if she would be plagued with the same problems, if I would, in fact have been a contributory factor in all of it. It would have been nice to have seen her again.
Her number had long since been disconnected and she had moved from the small and squalid apartment I had seen her in many years before. It had now been almost ten years since I had seen her and several months since I had spoken with Scary Ann about her when one day I had parked on the corner and had to walk about fifty feet to the house- (yes, I do walk places as you can see)- and I had seen someone how looked like Dora.
Now let me explain, while she did resemble Dora, it was only the most ephemeral vestige of what she had once been. Her skin was a sickly pallor and her eyes seemed to have sunken in, and her teeth had gotten extremely bad. She recognized me, (not a hard feat since I pretty much look the same since I was in elementary school with the addition of a goatee) and I her and we hugged and when we did, I felt the hard bones of her body that should be resting under flesh, and muscle but she was sickly and painfully thing and looked really bad. She had been addicted to hard drugs for many years now and the toll on her body was devastating. I suppose if I were a friend I would have told her to get help or something, but I thought she had heard it all before and well wanted to let her know, in my way that I wasn't judging her.
So I didn't try to help by telling her the evils of drugs and how she needs to get help, I offered to take her to get something to eat or get some coffee and talk about old times. (I am not implying by this that she was homeless. She wasn't. She lived with her mother and older sister. I guess they were blind to her self destruction, or tried and failed to help, one can never know for sure)
She politely declined and instead we stood there on the street corner and caught up. Well I leaned up against a brick abutment of a building and talked for nearly an hour. And when we spoke nothing was said of her state or mine, or anything news of a sad nature. Just two friends reminiscing. It was nice, and awkward at the same time. Not as awkward as I felt when she had asked me if I were seeing anyone.
At that moment I looked at her and remembered the old Dora, the one I knew so well a lifetime ago and wondered what would have happened to us if she had given me a chance. Would we be a couple today, would I have helped her, would she of me, or would I, once in her live, have made matters worse.
I projected and for a brief moment fantasized about what our lives would have been like if she had chosen me. The nice guy. I was abruptly awakened from my revere by her calling my name.
"What?" I asked.
"Are you seeing anyone?," she asked.
I looked at her and for the most briefest moment there was an ephemeral vestige of the old Dora, hidden somewhere between the ravaged facade.
"No," I said.
She stepped closer and put her fingers to my face and said, "I hope you find someone that deserves you."
At that moment I loved her, hated her, wanted to shake her and ask her why she had abused herself for so long, why she didn't want me so way back when and then, and then I was all right. It was though there were some closure to something that never was. I wanted to help her, hold her, go back nearly 18 years and change things, but I knew I couldn't. I know now that she was probably telling the truth back then. She probably felt that we would not have worked out for whatever reason.
We hugged and kissed a goodbye on the cheek, and held, lingering in our embrace for a few moments and said our goodbyes. As I watched her walk away, I had touched my face where she had touched me and imagined her fingers still there. And her words ringing in my ears. Someone that deserves me? Perhaps she had just walked away, out of my life now, forever.