Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Cardamom Sea: One

In the glow of the sunset, the ocean was transformed into a pool of gold. It would be a calm night, almost eerie. This was not the ocean he was used to. He only knew the thrashing wild storms and the waves—not water, but huge beasts that wished to escape the surface of the ocean and hurl themselves at his boat. They were calm now, the submerged beasts, and he was awed by the sun’s radiance reflecting off the water’s surface. Now, a warm gentle breeze swept up and caused the water to ripple. It hit the side of his boat in soothing, even intervals. He was drifting back to sleep for even though he had just awoken, he could no longer hold his eyes open. No thought had crossed his mind in his few moments of alertness for they were overshadowed by the sea’s brilliance, but as weariness crept upon him part of him seemed to whisper: Where am I and how did I get here? These questions would go unanswered. He was asleep.

            Something about the image that the prologue set up captivated Christian. It nagged his memory, tempted him to remember something; it did not come. He had the feeling that he knew the person the prologue, like he had been there. Something else had caught his attention too. While he was reading, it seemed like the picture that preceded the prologue had moved. He had seen ripples on the surface of the sea. They seemed to shimmer and move in the fictional sunset. It was probably a combination of his unsteady hands and his imagination. He had glanced quickly past the illustration before reading, but decided to reexamine it.
It looked like it was done in pencil or ink. It was not intricate, just a boat on the sea with a figure asleep in it. There were some ripples drawn, but while he read, Christian distinctly remembered them coming in great sweeps with the breeze. Shadowed by the setting sun at the center of the drawing, floated the boat and figure. Neither had any detail because they were backlit now. But while he read he remembered distinct features of the figure and boat—the person wore torn clothing and looked unshaven but young, the boat looked ancient and barely able to float on the ocean.
But Christian had an overactive imagination. His mom still had to check his closet for Velociraptors each night, even though he had seen Jurassic Park five years ago, and sometimes his imagination ran so wild that he believed he was still awake after he had started to dream. Therefore, his mind probably added details to this simple picture; he was very logical.
It didn’t really matter if the picture moved or not, he was curious about the character described, he liked the book, and he couldn’t stop reading now. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

NaNoWriMo: The Cardamom Sea

It's NaNoWriMo, national write a novel month, where you hopefully write 50,000 words by the end of November. My book club and I decided to participate. Well, we're halfway through, I am at 14,262 words, and the other two members have all but given up. Instead of giving up and feeling overwhelmed, I decided to try to make it to 25,000 words by the end of the month. I think that is admirable. I also want to share my story, which is written in short chapters; is good for a person who doesn't know what to blog about. It also gives me a chance to edit what I frantically typed at the beginning of the month before I had a plan. I hope you enjoy!


Something at the back of his mind, in his subconscious remembered lending it to his neighbors up the block, but there was no way to know. The tug he felt came from a gut feeling. If it were based on something more solid, like proof, he would have had the book in his hands. He had to accept that the book was gone. But right now was when he wanted to read it the worst. Christian's day at school had consisted of two big tests, being teased about his favorite yellow sweatpants and losing part of Japan to another shogun in his social science class's version of Risk. He needed to escape. It was painful for him to scan the bookcase in hopes that the spine would magically appear-The Snow Queen and Other Fairytales by Hans Christian Anderson-back among the other books. He was depressed because he was so careless with it and scanning the shelf only made it worse.
He didn't even know where the book came from. It was old, it did not have a sleek dust jacket with vibrant colors like most of his other books. Instead, it was bound in real cloth with gold writing on the spine and had a small picture on the front that gave the reader an idea of the illustrations inside its covers. The drawings were the best part. They were gruesome, dark and would have been censored out if the book were published today. His only belief was that it was from his grandparents because they had a lot of old children's books at their house. It seemed like a book they would have owned —the mildew smell characteristic of their house —it was comforting. 
The Snow Queen was his favorite and always would be. Although the other tales like, The Little Mermaid, where Ariel does not marry the prince in the end but turns to sea foam after losing her tongue, and The Wild Swans, where Eliza must endure weaving sweaters from stinging nettles under a vow of silence in order to transform her brothers from swans back into humans, were deliciously magical and dark, he enjoyed The Snow Queen the most. He loved to escape into the tale where Kay, who gets a piece of the devil's mirror lodged in both his eye and heart, is stolen by the Snow Queen and his best friend, girlfriend, Gerta must endure many trials in order to rescue him. Unknown to him, his love for the story was fueled by a wish to have a friend like Gerta—who would travel the world in order to save him. All he knew was the feeling it gave him ever time he read it; he felt protected.
He started thinking about the illustrations because they were unlike any others he'd seen; something about them drew him further into the fairy tale's world. The first one was the most gruesome because anything cute would have been swallowed up by Anderson’s descriptions. He remembered the mirror described as turning all good things ugly and transforming the most terrifying things into something even more terrible and the drawing on the page opposite a perfect representation of the description.  Hideous creatures beyond what he imagined goblins to look like held the mirror by a tree. One goblin, made even more ugly by the mirror, stood admiring himself while the other's chuckled. The landscape around the mirror also seemed melt into something that could never be seen as beautiful, at least that's how he felt when he looked at it. Muddy browns and bloody reds replaced nice green colors, and twisted lines and abnormalities replaced straight clean lines. Christian loved this drawing the best because when Kay got pieces lodged in his eye and heart later, Christian felt like he understood how Kay saw the world, why he left.
He needed to see that image because he felt the world was an ugly place tonight and he had to read the rest of the story—where the snow queen materializes and takes Kay, where the Gerta is trapped in a perfect garden by a witch, and where Gerta finally rescues Kay—because through it, his hopelessness would give way to hope. But it was gone. Christian felt empty because he knew that he would never get it back. Even if he got another copy of the story, he knew he would miss the illustrations. He had to accept it and find something else to cheer him up.
Christian skimmed his bookshelf in hopes of finding something that would fill the void. The Complete Brothers Grimm, they were dark, and his copy had a cool medieval drawing of a knight slaying a dragon on the front cover. It was bloody too. Or he could read the cool dinosaur book that was really outdated but had the best drawings of his favorite dinosaurs. A Tyrannosaurus Rex ripping apart its prey would make him feel better. His eyes came to rest on a book that he hadn't seen before or he didn't remember. His parents added books to his shelf sometimes when they were cleaning out old boxes so maybe it was one of theirs. He couldn’t read the title on the spine because the metallic paint had chipped off of the worn cloth. Something about the book intrigued him; maybe it was because the spine was the same color as The Snow Queen and Other Fairytales. There was no title on the front cover either, someone must have taken off and misplaced the paper jacket. Christian opened the book.
The inside paper, the endpaper that masks the fabric used in binding the book, had an intricate pattern that Christian had not seen before but it reminded him of the pattern on the cover of his copy of The Arabian Nights. It captivated Christian because it shimmered when he shifted the book in his hand; it almost seemed liquid. It almost seemed like magic to Christian, but he knew it was only an optical illusion. But it captivated him and it was exciting finding a new book. Christian decided that he would find out what the book was and at least start it tonight. If he didn't like it, he would get something else. He had nothing to lose. 

The Cardamom Sea
by Sir Thomas Templeton

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

It Gets Better: as brought to you by Bare a Pop Opera

This year I made the resolution to come out to my parents. I mean, I turned 25, it was time. My friends had all been really supportive when I told them I was not out and their stories gave me a lot of hope. For although they went through some rough times with their parents, when I looked at their current relationships with their parents, I was envious. Flash forward to six months later. Now, I have a great boyfriend and he means the world to me, but I still have not come out; they're missing out on this important part of my life.

On my day off, I'm listening to Bare a Pop Opera-
Set in a Catholic boarding school, the show centers on a group of friends during their senior year. Altar boy Peter (Michael Arden) is in love with his roommate Jason (John Hill), one of the most popular kids in school. They are carrying on a closeted romance but Peter wants to go public with their affair, at least to his mother (Kaitlin Hopkins), whom he loves dearly. Jason isn't so keen on the idea, as he feels that his entire world would crumble if word of the relationship got out. Things get more complicated when Ivy (Jenna Leigh Green) makes a play for Jason. Her rejected suitor Matt (Aaron Lohr) discovers the secret that Peter and Jason have been keeping and it's only a matter of time before things start to spin out of control.
I really like the song "You and I" because the chorus describes the way I'm feel when I'm with my boyfriend. I decide to listen to the whole album, which I have not listened to before. Big mistake. Soon after "You and I," the boyfriends are fighting about coming out, and then there is a song between Peter and his mom, and he has the courage to come out but she keeps changing the subject, and suddenly they are singing about my life and not theirs, and I find myself crying in my bed... I turn Bare off and lay there quietly until my roommate's cat comes over and starts purring in my ear. That's when I realize, I have to come out now. But, I want to tell both my parents at once, impossible over the speakerphone. I need to do it now, I may change my mind in the time it takes for them to get off work extended by time difference (New York to California). So, I write a letter, and put it in the mailbox, and here it is:

Dear Mom and Dad,
First of all, I need to tell you that you are the most supportive and loving parents, but there's one thing that I have been terrified to tell you.

I'm gay.

I'm sure you know. You have probably known, and or, have excepted it longer than I have-I came out to my friends sophomore (I was 19) year of college and told Jeanne and KC(sister and brother) sometime during my first year of living in New York (I was 22)-but I have still been afraid to tell you because:
1. I feel that it is unfair that I have to. Straight people don't have to come out as being straight. But this thought is really a defense mechanism. We don't live in a society where gay is accepted as being natural, which I believe it is; I did not choose it and I did not grow up in an environment that influenced me to be gay. It's just who i am and If I have to tell people, then that's what i'll do.
2. I don't know how you feel about gay people, excluding myself because I believe, as your son, that you love me. I have never been able to gage how you would react. Dad, you alternate between making harmful comments toward gay people and accepting them. Mom, you have been pretty silent on the matter. And then there is the matter of religion. In catechism, the pastor told me it was Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. I fought religion for a long time, but I don't believe that being gay is a sin which I have to repent. I can be a good christian and be gay, Jesus loves me for who I am. But, I don't know where you both stand and it scares me.
3. I'm afraid to lose my parents. I've always strived to be a great kid and I feel successful, but I also struggled with guilt because I was gay. Was it a fault? Did it make me a bad kid? It doesn't. i'm still the kid who didn't party in high school, who worked hard to make good grades and who appreciates everything that his parents gave him; how they raised him.

But, My number one reason to tell you is because I don't want you to miss out on my life and right now, you are. I don't talk about boyfriends or broken hearts. You don't get the pleasure of saying that someone is not good enough for me, or, "What were you thinking?" I'm sure you have known and have been waiting for me. I've waited long enough, too long. I want you to know every part of my life.

You have always told me how proud you are of me and maybe you still are, maybe you are ashamed, maybe you have already accepted it and are waiting on me, maybe you won't accept it. That does not change the fact that I love you both, I am honored to be your son, I view you both as roll models and people always comment on how well I've been raised.

Take whatever time you need, the books say it's different for everybody.
PS. I mean, after getting lost skiing in a snow storm, hiking for hours through four feet of powdery snow, hoping to God that your mother-crawling behind you on a snowboard, you can't do anything to help but blaze a trail-and you will find civilization, breaking into a freezing cabin with no way to tell your dad that you're safe, hoping that he has not lost hope, crying when you and your mom get each other to the road to be rescued, and seeing your dad crying as you pull back to the ski resort. How hard can it be to come out?

It was a long weekend after that letter went out but then I got these:
Dad: Thank you for putting into words what I've always known.
I love you Robert,

Mom: Hi Robert.
Got your letter. I'm so glad you (finally) told us directly. We always thought you should tell us rather than us asking you. Heard through the grapevine (Jeanne) that you have a boyfriend (Is that the right term?). Your being gay does not change how much I love you and how proud i am of you! Love mom. :-*

Under all my fears and walls that I put up in order to avoid coming out, I knew that my parents knew I was gay and more importantly, I knew they loved me. I hope that this reaches people out there who are scared.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Dinosaurs as Social Farce

Last night, my friends and I went to see Jurassic Parq the Broadway Musical. Which was chosen from the 2010 Fringe Festival in  New York to have a limited extra run at the Lucille Lortel Theater in the West Village. I did not know what to expect going into the show; my prior knowledge was that the people would be portraying the Jurassic Park dinosaurs. I'm glad it was only an hour and a half long because if it was any longer, I would have busted my laugh box. It was funny!

Highlights of the show included: The main male characters singing, "It's a beautiful day to be a woman"( all the dinosaurs in Jurassic park are women). T-Rex 2, played by a woman, growing a penis and having sex with the Dilophosaurus illustrated by a movie of turtles having sex. T-Rex 2 caught in the act with Dilo  by T-Rex 1 and T-Rex 2 saying, "If we don't move, she can't see us." Mime-a-saurus gaving an outstanding performance in general, but at one point, miming a couple meeting, getting married, having a child, the child growing up, the child going to war and dying, the dad drinking and beating the mom, and ultimately the dad shooting a cop within a song. The narrator, a supposed Morgan Freeman, who has a duet with a mirror image of himself but the mirror image turns out to be Samuel L Jackson.

However, one of the best performances came from the Betty White of the cast, an exiled Velociraptor, The Velociraptor of Science. Who's rap about science was a crowd pleaser. The first three letters had meaning attached to them but the best part of the song was the rousing final line, "The rest of the letters spell, suck my dick!" Not only could she break down in a sweet beat, she was the most committed to her raptor persona and had the most realistic raptor walk. I must add that she had on those sketchers that tone your butt and that cracked me up every time. She assumed the Washington crossing the Delaware/Captain Morgan pose many times, further highlighting the shoes.

But the laughs were not all caused by gags like older women singing, "suck my dick," sex scenes and the clone-like similarities between Samuel l Jackson and Morgan Freeman (they also referenced the guy from the Allstate Insurance commercials); they were caused by great writing that dealt with gender, race and the struggle between religion and science. I'll just touch on gender because I don't want the blog to get too long.

Part of the Director's note reads, "Jurassic Parq the Broadway Musical is brilliant [because]... it is the first broadway musical to be gender blind but color conscious."

Gender blind casting led to great situational humor but underneath this humor, it challenged the viewer's conventional understanding of what it means to be a man or woman (female or male dinosaur), much like Churchill's Cloud 9. For all of us who have seen the movie, I don't have to explain that, all the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park are supposed to be female. Therefore, this cast should have been female. But to have a female sing, "It's a beautiful day to be a woman," would not have been funny. Instead it is sung by the most masculine male in the cast (playing a female dinosaur) which made me laugh. But after the show, I started to question it meant to be a woman. Is it solely based on physical appearance? I was  laughing because that's how I usually define a man or woman, but couldn't it be based on psyche and how this person (dinosaur) actually feels? I mean, if I'm being honest with my gay self, as soon as that song hits iTunes, I'll be singing along.

Another instance of gender bending begins when T-Rex 2 grows a penis. Who, as I stated, was played by a woman, grows. Which was funny, but more importantly, brought up the logistics of sex change. We know that she and T-Rex 1 are best friends in the beginning but as soon as the change happens, T-Rex 2 sings a song about still being able to be loved as a friend. I think that a lot of people who go through a sex change question the way their friends will see them after. In the end T-Rex 1 sees T-Rex 2 as more than a friend. In fact she falls in love with T-Rex 2. There are many many funny situations built upon this underlying story, like T-Rex 2 discovering what a vagina smells like and being turned on by it, and T-Rex 1 going on a rampage because she finds T-Rex 2 with Dilo, but underneath it's a positive message about acceptance-her physical being changed, but she was still the same T-Rex 2.

In the end, it's a cute show. Not meant for broadway but hopefully an off-off-broadway house will pick it up. Here's their webpage:

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Smoldering Under the Eyes of God

This is old, from my day working near the Religious Fiction section in the bookstore. I thought if there is Fiction, why can't there be romance?

Gabriel carried me across the bedroom threshold; it was the night of our wedding. I could feel his muscles underneath the tight white dress shirt and when I grabbed my veil, as it slipped off my head, my hand brushed against his forbidden package. Before this night, I felt like Eve as she stared at the forbidden fruit. I dreamed of the day that I would be able to satisfy my own desires and partake the fruit of Gabriel's loins. Today was that day and as he carried me, I felt the lust of my whole body surge toward him. Unlike Eve, I knew that God would not punish me tonight for the pleasure and knowledge that I would receive when I fulfilled my desires and tasted Gabriel’s fruit. We had both waited, devoted our life to God's great word and tonight we were finally sanctified to fulfill our deepest desires.

Gabriel gently set me onto my feet once we were in the room. I suddenly felt cold as he took his arms from me, I only wanted to live in the world of his embrace. But these feelings of comfort moulded to desire as he kissed the back of my neck and started to unzip me from my dress. As my back was exposed, he whispered that our abstinence had brought us that much closer to God. I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck tense at his warm breath and I felt another rush of primal urge surge through my body. I turned to see him slowly unbuttoning his shirt. The muscles in his arms strained at each button and as he took off the shirt it reviled his hidden muscular toned frame. His torso v-ed up from his pants, each ab was defined and his skin fought to hold in his pecs. At that moment he was my ultimate Adam and in a fit of passion I drew him to me and kissed him. This time I did not feel the guiltiness and sin because we had been approved under God and I gave up all resistance to my sexual urges.

Our passion swept through both of our bodies and Gabriel swept me onto the bed. I gasped at the impact of the soft down comforter but my surprise was interrupted by a furry of passionate kissed. He stood up and removed his pants. Again I marveled at his frame. When he stood up his briefs reviled the outline of the fruit that I had most desired, and when he finally lowered himself back on top of me I could feel its pressure against my thigh. I gasped again as he caressed my neck with his supple lips; he whispered that he loved me. The sexual energy radiated from our entwined bodies like a halo. He was my own archangel, so soft but also so powerful. In these moments of passion we quickly removed the rest of our garments. 

For the first time we saw each other in our most pure and naked form. I stared in wonder at the package that had remained hidden from me for so long and that I desired most and he stared back at me with the same lustful eyes. I wondered how Adam and Eve could have been so ashamed by there nakedness; after all, we were all sculpted from the image of God himself. Gabriel was magnificent unclothed and I truly felt the pressure of his masculinity against my thigh as he resumed kissing my neck. I felt my body reel as he hit a particularly sensitive spot on my neck, as I relaxed back down into the bed he asked if I was ready. I knew that I was and I whispered to be gentile. I was not afraid because I felt that God was truly among us at that moment.

Gabriel gently entered; I felt the initial tinge of pain and tensed up but relaxed knowing how beautiful this act was. He sensed my tensed body and asked if I was ok; I reassured him it was with a deep kiss. Only then did he lower, merging us, our pelvises gently brushed each other, and our stomachs gently brushed. Our bodies melted into one in our first act of real passion. I was in ecstasy and I could tell from his face that he was there two. We were like Adam and Eve in the garden before they sinned by eating the fruit, ignorant to knowledge but versed in our animalistic nature. All of God’s creations and promises lay before us. Gabriel was kissing my neck, I was kissing back and the sweat from our bodies eased the transition of hands as we explored the others bodies with our hand. 

And then, it happened. I felt his breath grow heavy and I felt mine grow with his. When I thought that our passion could get no stronger I saw the great light explode from our bodies. It reached beyond the confines of our small hotel room and up to the pearly gates of heaven. They opened before my eyes. I screamed to Jesus and felt Gabriel’s seed explode into my body. He collapsed on top of me with one last kiss. I was absorbed in the Godly light and I stared at heaven. Gabriel lay at my side and as the light gave way to reveal the hotel room leaving the heavenly flame to smolder in my heart, I told him that I loved him. 

Monday, August 30, 2010

Anything Goes

Sometimes I think that a blog has to be life changing, a great inner reflection, or a satiric social commentary, but maybe anything goes. That's a pun. I'm using this post to plug the show I'm currently in rehearsals for, Anything Goes. Here's my doodle from the read through:

We perform Sept 5th, 7th and 8th in Ocean City, NJ at the Music Pier. If you don't know the show, it is a really cute Cole Porter review featuring such hits as You're the Top, I Get a Kick Out of You, and more.  The cast is really wonderful and we perform with the Ocean City Pops, who's sound has Cole porter swooning in his grave. Come see it before it's looming revival on broadway. 

For more information go to:

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Book Club: The Final Chapter

First impressions of a book are fun. Especially about a book like Eat, Pray, Love which has been a best seller ever since it's release, was on Oprah's book club, and is now a movie with Julia Roberts... I mean, people have many different opinions about her, but I would be honored if she wanted to portray me. But it is the final impression that really defines the reader.

We decided to discuss Eat, Pray, Love over a Roman dinner, just like our heroin Elizabeth Gilbert and chose Cacio e Pepe in the East Village; a culinary indulgence that I would gladly go to hell for. To start, we shared a watermelon and spinach salad with goat cheese, almonds and a balsamic reduction. Erin and Joe shared a fig and prosciutto thing that looked tasty, but I don't eat meat. I finished with penne pasta in a crushed tomato sauce with pesto drizzle and fresh motzerella. My mouth is watering thinking about it and how I fit into my pants the next day, I'll never know. What I do know is that the meal and conversation were stimulating.

Joe started off with the opinion that the biography was well written, entertaining, and a little too self indulgent. Basically, he wished he had written it first.

Erin was still Erin. She both wanted to hurl the book from her throughout the read and discuss the inherent contradiction between praying to God and free will. I'm pretty sure she appreciated the way  Elizabeth Gilbert approached the subject... I was a little lost after a glass or two of wine.

I, on the other hand, laughed a lot in Eat, dog-eared and underlined like five hundred things in Pray, and found that Love just didn't cut it. From the title, you know that Elizabeth Gilbert is going to find love in Bali... It was not titled Eat, Pray, Balance (which is what she intended to find in Bali). And so, I made it through the book waiting for the great love. I wasn't sure how they were going to meet, but I was positive it would be really romantic. I was reading, she was flirting with a bunch of people and it was a little romantic. Then it was scientific and the romance died... That's harsh, but there was no great love affair that I had waited for. It was two people who talked it out and decided it could work. I mean, at least throw in a hot make out scene! Not just hint at the sex that was happening behind doors. I don't think Erin and Joe really cared... they were more interested in the philosophy and practice of religion. So after my tryst in love and romance I was sucked back into academia; mind stimulating conversation.

After dinner we were off to the movie... boring, boring, Javier Bardem! On screen was the romance that I wanted from the book! Thank God! And I think the missing link in the book was the interaction beween Elizabeth and Felipe. I got to see the way he looked at her when they met, and how he courted her. Needless to say, I got a little teary eyed, which surprised Joe because I rarely cry.

We finished the evening at Holey Cream in Hells Kitchen and went home. Was it cheesy to invade an Italian restaurant with our copy of Eat, Pray, Love which we read in order to see the movie? Were we "Those Americans" that we usually rebel against? Was it worth it in order to have an intellectual conversation over a decadent meal with great friends? Yes.
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