New book: “Such a picnic is my life”
I just published another book – some excerpts …
From the book:
It was painful reading, to go over his notes from decades ago, and to see if there wasn’t a book in there. There was, actually, because he had lived through interesting times, with friends dropping dead all around him, and he survived. He had high hopes and plans, and things to do, and people to meet. Life was new and fresh back then. And then, because the more things change, the more they stay the same, he was in different places with different people, and still he had high hopes and dreams. They sustained him over the years.
Nowadays he sat around reading about the decay of our times, painting bright scenes of places he had gone, composing strange music on the computer, and writing up his novels and memoirs of his times. And not doing much else. Barely even leaving the house, really. Now was the time to look back, to see what he did, what he wrote about. Now he was going to work on a collection of events, described at the times, spread out over two decades.
He had written the notes back then with the bizarre idea that one day he would work them up into something. What that would be, he couldn’t tell. It would be something, a novel, a memoir perhaps, or a combination of the two. Why bother with spilling the beans, when making up a confection would be to the same purpose? To tell little stories of life, and how it didn’t quite turn out the way he thought it would, if he had even paid much attention to it. Now he could, because of free self-publishing services. It was like a miracle. No longer did he have to wait for someone else to approve his work. Nor could he be rejected. He published because he could. It was as simple as that.
Ah, but back then, before age came, before the Internet and social networks where he spent too much time, back then he had a life. Now he was sitting down to look at some episodes of it.
And then like that, it was over. My time and life in New York City came to a screeching halt on March 9th, 1990. That was the day I packed the goods of my house into a truck, tied the car to a trolley and started to drive it all to Louisiana. The 10 years at Estebans ended. I gave up my apartment! But I survived the AIDS crisis. Amazingly so, to me, like a miracle come down on me. So many people had died by now. More were ill. I was not. The friends had petered out. The Ninth Circle wasn’t like it used to be. My political aspirations, that which drove me for so many years, through college, and even afterwards, were up in smoke. And smoke was something I was unwilling to give up anyway. I had not made a million dollars. Not even $10,000 really. I was muddling along and I saw nothing but dead ends.
I had already insinuated myself into Louisiana – for there was 1985 through 1990, when I sort of lived in both states and traveled back and forth between them. I tried to start a business with that too, which came to a crashing end. But that’s the topic of another book. Now I was just moving to Lake Charles, Louisiana, where I wouldn’t stay for long. But it started a whole new adventure in my life – with nearly the exact same circumstances, in a different place, with different people. I still barely had money, but lived well enough. I didn’t really have a job, but worked all the time. I didn’t quite live anywhere, but wasn’t homeless. I didn’t have a boyfriend, but I had short relationships.
I had learned how to drive in 1985 … after I graduated college, as a sort of graduation gift to myself. Though now I had no goal, I wasn’t sure where I was going, or why I was going to wherever it was that I wound up. In a way, though in a more organized fashion, I did just what Tom did a decade earlier – I gave it all up and headed out for something new and different. For the next four years I wouldn’t set foot in New York.
A clean break from the past was what I wanted. A change in the weather was what I needed. For some reason it was a combination of growing tired of New York, and becoming enraptured with Louisiana. After all, I moved from Manhattan to Lake Charles. Big city to small town, hustle and bustle to somnolence, something I knew to somewhere strange and exotic, scintillating and exciting. Moving south was a grand adventure. But I no longer had great dreams. I no longer had grandiose aspirations. That was stripped bare from me over the course of the 1980s. The 1990s were going to be different. Somehow, in some way I couldn’t begin to imagine. And I wasn’t quite sure I would survive this decade either.
… almost … we’re 15 years further on and I’m still going strong. I’m still healthy. Still broke. Ah, but one thing I figured out – I’m Asperger – get a load of that! That was the trouble all along. That’s why I never got anywhere. I couldn’t ever stop the thinking, I couldn’t deal with the people I was supposed to deal with. I had too many quirks, they couldn’t handle me. I discovered I really could play the piano, so that’s what I went into. Came out with 5 CDs already. That last list of books I mentioned? I did them, or most of them, and they’ll all come out, this is one of the them. It’s my job. And I do other odd jobs. I gave up the search for steady employment – even denied I ever had “jobs” and started to call them “projects.” All of a sudden instead of a guy with lots of jobs, I was a project manager with lots of projects under my belt. With the Aspergers and string of jobs I was able to get Social Security Disability. Not rich at all, but comfortable. Not a lot of money, but I float along. Yes, gone were all the dreams, the plans, the hopes, the ambitions and aspirations. In came the living serendipitously, by the seat of my pants, through sheer luck. I’m alive and kicking through sheer luck. Someone should study this – why I survived the AIDS thing, why I survived the morass of my life, how come I play piano the way I do. I don’t know – it’s all still so weird. And it’s been spectacular, too. Yet, it’s such a sweet life. Like I live in a perpetual picnic.
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