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Pamper · the · Madman


The organized ramblings of an unorganized mind.

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I am, and always have been, an optimist. Or, so it's been said of me by others, as well as idealistic, irrational, and given to illusion. Perhaps all of that is true, but here it is in my own words.

Everything has a positive side and a negative side, no? The greatest things on Earth can leave horrors in their wake; even Hitler had people that loved him. I recognize the terrible aspects of things, more vividly than others could tell, and yet I focus on the good of it, naturally. Effortlessly. And in a world such as this, it's harder than it looks when you know and see clearly the bad qualities. Good, bad, positive, negative; they are human definitions, perceptive opinions of an objective reality. But I've always maintained that one man's reality is another man's fantasy, or nightmare. I've no idea what reality is like for someone starving in Haiti, or dancing in the streets of Rome. How could I know what their reality entails?

Communication should be, partially, about trying to enlighten others to the reality we perceive. We might project what we want to see, we might idealize, we might dream; but there is also the fact that reality cuts both ways, and denying the positive in favor of the negative is perhaps the opposite of idealism but still must be maintained. Like some Atheists who must continuously feed the fire of their non-belief with science and factual evidence to the contrary of God. Our perceptions should be maintained.

Do I give all things the benefit of the doubt? Do I ignore totally the horror so I might wrap the good around me like a comforting blanket? No. Idealism is not seeing the negative at all, to me; idealism involves a blissful and foolish ignorance to the reality, a denial that it exists, that all the world is made up of flowers and gumdrops. I imagine it's a nice way to live, but it's not me. I am no fool.

The world does not owe us an explanation for it's lack of motives. We are not entitled to a blessed thing unless we work for them or maintain them, and I believe that. It's one of the few things that make up my ethical system; we get what we deserve, we reap what we sow. I indulge in things, but I've worked for the things I have. I've never had anything handed to me, with the exception of holidays and my birthday. And I believe strongly that we should appreciate whatever we have, no matter how small or bad it might be. We should appreciate the people that we love and whom love us; we should seek to show them, somehow, that appreciation so that we might also, in turn, feel appreciated. Do I expect to get what I give? No. Do I presume that I deserve happiness because I try to make others happy? No. But it does not stop me from trying, from working, and from appreciating.

I've been fed my share of horrific things; I've felt heartache, and loneliness, and I've felt emotions that, at the time, I didn't think I'd ever recover from. I can remember a time when happiness itself seemed a distant and idealized thing, a concept. When even love was a word etched on the front of a Hallmark card. I've been hurt, abused, kicked around, left behind, abandoned; and yet through those things, somehow, I did survive. Hell, I could read back through this very journal to find those days and months where I felt emotionally ruined. Ah, but I sound emo, or so I've been told. But I'm far too old to have fallen into that subculture, and I never romanticized pain because it was too damned real to be anything other than painful. I never tried turning it into art except for this journal, for conversation; sharing it with someone else who might someday hearken back to it and think, well he survived, so will I. But again, we are all different, and sharing what we endure can be helpful or useless depending on which way we are going at the time.

Right about now is when I'd stop, I'd curse at myself and admit that I might be rambling. Well, not so here; this is, after all, my forum. I am not asking anyone to read it, to judge it, to validate it, to comment on it. Those are all appreciated, of course. Appreciation is the one thing I truly need from my fellow man; appreciation for who I am, what I like, what I do, and what I say. Opinions and disagreement are also a form of appreciation; if we did not respect someone we'd not share our opinion with them, we might think that they are not worthy for it.

Now, I will go and play some Assassin's Creed II; explore Venice for the eightieth time, scouting for what would be an ideal location for Marius and Amadeo's villa, finding that perfect viewpoint for when the game's sun sets over the beautifully realized glittering surface of the Venetian canals. It's all idealistic, it's all a clever fantasy. But, it's all to relish and to enjoy. All mine to appreciate.
The Mood:
contemplative contemplative
The Music:
Assassin's Creed II Soundtrack - Ezio's Family
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I posted this to my Facebook. I miss this bloody thing and what happens here; this Journal was always so important to me. So, and while I don't even know who's here anymore; here I am.

I've decided to return to the writing of blogs or, in Facebook terms,
notes. I may even cross-post them to my still active but rarely used
Livejournal. Perhaps start a blog with Blogspot. Either way, I feel
compelled to write again. But, what does one write about? I'm kicking
around topics that are of interest to me, and writing and sharing allows
for a kind of active process of thought that can work wonders on the
mind. I used to write a lot; I kept online journals where I shared many things. Some personal, some useless, some comical.

It is not fair to expect one or several people to be the sounding boards
to everything I think or feel, nor expect them to appreciate and value
all of the things that I do. This is not to say that I am coming here
for the validation of another opinion; simply that sharing and
communication has always been important to me, and that's really all
there is to it.

I doubt a lot will read my ramblings on everything
from Anne Rice to Italy; but I won't be writing for anyone else. So
then, why a public blog? Why not a private diary or journal? Because,
again, sharing and communication is important to me. Writing in a
private journal can be helpful, yes, but I am weary of doing being so
private or inclusive with the few good ideas, theories, and thoughts
that I have.

I'll discuss the things I once discussed. Anne Rice's
books, my obsessions with Italy, with certain videogames, with films.
My ideas and my thoughts, my likes and my rants that used to be enjoyed
and laughed at. And it isn't that I don't have people to talk to; but is
it fair to expect them to humor me and, to quote Lestat, 'pamper the
madman?' I cannot force someone to appreciate things or to enjoy the
things that I do. And I tend to take it personally when something I
enjoy is not appreciated. So, here I am.

This will actually feel strange, to allow myself to be the open book I used to
love being. I'm older now, I'm - hopefully - wiser. I don't foresee
myself pouring out my heart here, but then, I don't really know. Maybe I
will. There was a time when I put everything into my Livejournal; hell,
some people on this page might remember the old rants and declarations.
The melodrama that was my relationship with Steve; the rants about
working at Blockbuster; the blow-by-blow accounts of my meaningless day
where nothing and everything happens.

So, here's to communication and to sharing the lunacy inside of my head.

-R.

The Mood:
pensive pensive
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As I've said in my prior post, I've been rereading all of Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles again. Actually, I started with her other works first. Cry to Heaven, and then Violin, followed by Servant of the Bones. I briefly considered rereading the Mayfair Trilogy, but instead went right into the Vampire Chronicles, which I actually read backwards but, in the scheme of things, better timed.

 


I started with my favorite, of course, Pandora. I mentioned that before. After that I read through The Vampire Armand, and then Blood and Gold, which was Marius' story. These are three main characters in the Chronicles, and after reading them I figured - what the hell, it's been a while.

 


I'm up to the fifth book, Memnoch the Devil, and then I'm going to read Merrick. After that are the final two, the ones I didn't read or couldn't finish; Blackwood Farm and Blood Canticle.

 


I'll spare you all the details of the books, and simply offer my own reasonings and my own feelings on them, as a collective whole.

 


The Vampire Chronicles, indeed most of Rice's books but I'm sticking to the VC right now, touch upon some very deep and very compelling, thought provoking topics. Death, immortality, all of that sort of stuff is a given; but there's so much more therein. Spirituality and history, the place of an 'outsider' in the world, art and philosophy, and poetry. Sure, there's a heavy 'gothic' air, but it's really not the type of pseudogoth drivel that you'd expect. No black lipstick, in other words. The 'gothic' mindset that one finds is one of expecting more from the world, simply because you -see- more in the world.

 


It never occured to me while reading the books, but the way Anne Rice writes, how she describes places and events, the tiniest detail, is very much how I use my eyes and live my own day to day life. For example, recently I was taking the subway home, and a girl in front of me shook back her hair. Now, to some this is a normal thing, a normal moment. And indeed, it is. But what I saw was distinctly different and special to me. Here was a beauty, fresh and warming in the artificial heat of the train, her cheeks still rose red from the cold outside. The color of her hair was a deep brown, but in the right light you could see red. Dyed? Perhaps, but my fingers wanted to reach up and stoke the strands that fell helter-skelter on the pages of my open book. The scent of her rising with that movement of her hair; something floral but not overtly so. The golden yellow lights of the tunnels outside flashed electric highlights against her hair until we pulled into the next platform - Ellsworth-Federal - and the harsh light of the flourescent shattered the illusion as only something sterile can.

 


Sure, it's a bit strange. But I tell you, it's how I see almost everything. When I'm walking down a street, I try to take in all of the tiny details that I see around me. The fabric of a scarf against the wind, the leaves ripping from the trees and caught in a man's gelled black hair. The sudden blinding sunlight reflected from a skyscraper; the ripples made when you disturb a puddle. This is natural to me, I've been this...I don't know, observant?, for as long as I can remember. Maybe it's why my memory can be so keen sometimes; it's like I am memorizing the moment with all of my senses. What I saw, what I've heard, the odors and fragrances, whatever I touched.

 


And the way Anne Rice writes, I find myself able to completely visualize exactly what she's talking about; and not only that, but sometimes when I'm walking alone through the streets, I find myself moving distractedly through some elegant archway, staring at the sculptures and the decorum, as if I'm a character in one of her books.

 


Manuel said to me that it's a gift, perhaps. That Anne Rice writes about people who see the world like this; that to live the world the way she describes it is to really see the world for all of it's beauty and it's ugliness. It's honestly how I get through the day. When something terrible happens, or something pisses me off - at work, at home, in my head - it doesn't take much to distract me for a moment.

 


Today, at work, I took my cigarette break a bit late at 4:08pm. I walked underground through the Comcast Center, having to go to the Wawa on Arch Street for cigarettes. On my way back, I found myself brooding over the current events at work - the recent arguments, the negative vibes, what people think of me, etc - but everything around me suddenly caught my attention. As I rounded the corner onto JFK Boulevard, I noticed that the white lights decorating the trees that flank the Comcast Center's sidewalk were all lit up. My eyes widened, I stared like a child at all of the wonderful fireflies of light. A woman ahead of me stopped to take a picture of the behemoth Comcast Center; a man behind me sneezed, I turned and yelled a 'God Bless You!' The wind suddenly felt like someone touching me, holding me, soothing me. I inhaled - Winter, the decay of the leaves, moisture in the air. I licked my lips; taste of menthol.

 


By the time I returned to work, I felt so much better that I actually found myself bordering on jubilant with my coworkers. It's not playing a role, it's simply being happy and expressing - on a basic level - who I am, that I'm not a bad guy, I'm kinda nice actually, hear me out. I made some of them laugh, discussed different things as the clock wound down. Was I happy because it was almost time to leave? Of course, but the point is that while I was walking, distracted and involved completely in the world around me, I wasn't actively thinking about anything. I was grateful for the moment.

 


As I continue reading her novels, I see what fired up the obsession of my teenage years. And some of those things are still there, of course. My like or dislike of certain characters, the tugging at my heart at certain scenes that may resonate. I remember when I was younger, I wanted so much to believe that these specific creatures existed. Not vampires in general, but these specific vampires. Pandora, Lestat, Armand, Marius, et cetera. I related to each of them, and I remember thinking that I could somehow help them, or talk to them. They could show me the world, or something equally immature and romantic.

 


Now, as an adult, I don't look back and wince at such a thing. I'm not ashamed that I had such an overactive imagination; because even at the highest moment of my wishes, I knew they were just literary characters in a world that was modeled after our own. A mythology rewritten and served up, wrapped in philosophy, flanked by art. Lured in like I'm lured into a church. It's something deeper than simple aesthetics.

 


But now I realize that the reason why I enjoy her novels - and not many other fictional books - is simply because the way in which she describes the world is the very way I see it.

 


And trust me, it's not always a good thing; it's exhausting, and overwhelming at times. But it's not something that I can simply change. A psychiatrist would probably label me obsessive, just as Steve was labeled me other colorful terms; but I cannot say that I'd trade my vision in for a watered down sobriety and a passing glance.

 


My only issue is trying to involve myself into it. I've always felt like an observer, someone on the outside making notes. When I'm with my friends or family, I find myself thinking that. They involve me, and of course I love them all and feel involved and a part of their lives; but there's always some part of me that'd distant and removed, distracted and aloof. And I find myself, walking down some street, paying more attention to architecture and art than the very people that may have been involved in it. What can I say; I love the art, but rarely the artist. I can look at a Botticelli painting for hours, but there's little interest in me for the man himself. I can read all of Anne Rice's novels, but have no desire to really know who she is on a personal level. I guess, for me, that to do so would somehow taint the illusion.

 


When I see an artwork, or read a novel, or listen to a song - I focus on that, and that alone. But if I try and learn about the individual behind it, somehow it cheapens the experience for me. Take music; let's use Madonna. The song 'Like A Prayer' has always been one of my favorite songs since childhood. I found that I related to it, I enjoyed it, and I felt some attuned in a special way to the lyrics. But when I read about Madonna's ideas about the song, and as I read about Madonna herself - I no longer thought of the song as I did before that, but rather as an extension of Madonna. Something was lost, I suppose.

 


Same with Anne Rice, honestly. When I began learning about her personal life; her personal views, et cetera, I found myself distracted by those facts while reading. Here are these characters and settings that I love so much, written by a person that I don't really like or agree with. And it's a hard thing to rectify for me; seperating the art from the artist, the vision from the product. Do you follow?

 


But now, with that revelation out of the way, I find myself rereading these books, treading familiar ground, and instead of thinking of Anne Rice the person, I am thinking of Richie and how he relates and how he see's the world around him. I find myself describing the world around me, either to myself or in a blog or to someone, the way that she might have written about it. It's not meant to sound pretentious; I only mean to somehow share with someone else what I see. People never understand why I love the city of Philadelphia so much; well that's one of the reasons why. I don't see what you see! Sure I see the crime, and the murder, and the blight and urban decay, the corruption and racism. I'm not blind. But let's just say that I'm more interested in the color and fabric of the curtain than what's going on on the stage. I don't ignore the negative things; it's simply not in my nature to hone in on them, make them my reasoning for like or dislike. People focus so much on the negativity.

 


Where someone might see a gutted, burnt house; I might notice the designs that the fire and smoke had 'drawn' on the brick. When someone walks down a street and see's the broken glass and shakes their head; I too, shake my head, but I also note how beautiful the glass looks when it glitters as I move. A man might walk into a coffee shop and feel frustrated by the line, the wait, the crowd; I walk into a coffee shop and find myself savoring the fragrances that only a coffee shop can provide. And please don't think that I find such beauty in tragedy or terror, but when I saw two people gunned down on Winton Street in 2002, I noticed the rich color of red and the way it slid down the sidewalk towards the gutter. And that's not necessarily a beautiful thing, it's simply how I see it. A woman's life rushing from her, crimson red against the asphalt. Caution tape yellow and whipping in the breeze, the commotion of the neighbors, a woman sobbing into the arms of a police officer who just doesn't know what to say. Maybe it's morbid, maybe it's even wrong. That burnt out house I described above; I'd try and look within and see the remnants of the people who once called that place home. Pictures on the wall, scorched and soaked. A nail where something once hung, the faint outline of a crucifix above a door. I don't just walk by the world, I memorize it, I internalize it. I see it for all of it's hideous color and beautiful texture; the neverending dance of hatred and love, sin and beauty, death and life, youth and decay.

 


And it's nice to read these novels, and find myself completely able to visualize this world, feel it and inhale it within my mind. But moreso, it's absolutely wonderful to realize that I am no longer reading a novel; I'm living it. As overwhelming as it is sometimes, as stifling to my senses as it can be; it's what makes me who I am. It defines my art, my photography, and the very foundation of what I strive for in this life. To see the world around me as I see it, is to cherish it for every color that exists, every mug of coffee that I savor, every woman or man that walks by me, every cigarette. Life is not a promised thing to us; it's short, it's quick, and it can be over at anytime. And I don't want to leave this world like I'm putting down a novel, wanting for more.

 


Maybe I'm insane, of course. Too many drugs, perhaps. Too much of an imagination for my own good. That's all fine, really it is. This is who I am. It has it's bad sides too; it plays a part somewhere in my anxiety, it can be tiresome and stressful. And I have to weight down the fact that it's not something I do deliberately; it simply happens, I've been like this for as long as I can truly remember. I could offer examples and details, but this is long enough. And I've ran off on tangents countless times; if any of you are still reading, I thank you for your time to read what I have to say.

 


I know that a lot of the times, in my online writing, I can be very long winded, distracted, and all over the place. I discuss things that mean very little in the grand scheme of things. Unimportant, selfish details of just another life living in a city in a country on the world. But it's nice to write it; I like writing it out. It's not an attention thing, and it never has been. Sure it's nice to muse that someone might be reading what I write, and indeed in the case of Manuel, that has happened. But it's moreso for me, to think about it, to let some of this energy out to an audiance that may or may not care to read. There's a level of security in the passive anonymity of it all. I can think about it and come to terms with it in different ways because not only am I writing it, but there's a desire to make sense and get my point across. To share my thoughts, my deeper mind, whatever is there that defines who I am, who we are.

 


Some call it a soul, some call it individuality. Some might call it egotistical narcissism. I don't know what I can call it. My mind? I don't know what compels me to come to this blog to write some of the most secretive and deepest revelations and thoughts embedded inside of my mind. Maybe someone can read it and take something from it, maybe someone can relate. Maybe I just want to heard.

 


It's like leaning from a window and screaming. You don't know who's listening, you don't know who's heard you; but you know that someone has. And for me, sometimes, that's enough.

 

 

Namaste.




The Color:
Prussian Blue
The Mood:
thoughtful thoughtful
The Music:
Joy Division - Dead Souls
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www.youtube.com/watch

 


Anytime I need to see your face

I just close my eyes
And I am taken to a place where your crystal mind and
Magenta feelings take up shelter in the base of my spine
Sweet like a chicka cherry cola

I don't need to try to explain;
I just hold on tight
And If it happens again, I might move so slightly
To the arms and the lips and the face of the human cannonball
That I need to, I want to

Come Stand a little bit closer
Breathe in and get a bit higher
You'll never know what hit you
When I get to you

Ooh, I want you
I don't know if I need you
But, ooh, I'd die to find out
Ooh, I want you
I don't know if I need you
But, ooh I'd die to find out

I'm the kind of person who endorses a deep commitment
Getting comfy getting perfect is what I live for
But a look, and then a smell of perfume
It's like I'm down on the floor
And I Don't know what I'm in for

Conversation has a time and place
In the interaction of a lover and a mate,
But the time of talking, using symbols, using words
Can be likened to a deep sea diver who is swimming with a raincoat

Come stand a little bit closer
Breathe in and get a bit higher
You'll never know what hit you
When I get to you

Ooh, I want you
I don't know if I need you
But, ooh, I'd die to find out
Ooh, I want you
I don't know if I need you
But, ooh I'd die to find out

Oooooh yeah, oooh yeah

Anytime I need to see your face
I just close my eyes
And I am taken to a place where your crystal mind and
Magenta feelings take up shelter in the base of my spine
Sweet like a chicka cherry cola

I don't need to try to explain;
I just hold on tight
And If it happens again, I might move so slightly
To the arms and the lips and the face of the human cannonball
That I need to, I want you

Ooh, I want you
I don't know if I need you
But, ooh, I'd die to find out
Ooh, I want you
I don't know if I need you
But, ooh I'd die to find out

So can we find out?

Ooh, I want you
I don't know if I need you
But, ooh, I'd die to find out
Ooh, I want you
I don't know if I need you
But, ooh I'd die to find out

Ooh, I want you
I don't know if I need you
But, ooh, I'd die to find out (I'd die to find out)
Ooh, I want you
I don't know if I need you (ooh can we find out)
But, ooh I'd die to find out
The Color:
Magenta
The Mood:
lyrical
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* * *

We skipped the light fandango,
Turned cartwheels 'cross the floor.
I was feeling kinda seasick,
But the crowd called out for more.
The room was humming harder,
As the ceiling flew away,
When we called out for another drink,
The waiter brought a tray.

 

And so it was that later,
As the miller told his tale.
That her face, at first just ghostly,
Turned a whiter shade of pale.

 

She said, 'There is no reason
and the truth is plain to see.'
But I wandered through my playing cards,
And would not let her be.
One of sixteen Vestal Virgins,
who were leaving for the coast.
And although my eyes were open.
They might have just as well've been closed.

 

And so it was that later,
As the miller told his tale.
That her face, at first just ghostly,
Turned a whiter shade of pale.


www.youtube.com/watch

The Color:
White
The Mood:
lonely lonely
The Music:
Annie Lennox - A Whiter Shade Of Pale
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Apparently my Myspace was still public when I made that post pertaining to Steve. I had made it after deleting him because I did not want him to read it. It wasn't much different than the e-mail I wrote, but still. Well, he did read it, and he even responded. I meant to ignore the response, but then he IMed me. And the brief argument came. The one that would truly test my new found strength. Would I stand up for myself, or do what I normally do and apologize and wither up and blow away? My hands shook, but for the most part I was fine. I was so rigid and resolute in my conviction, and nothing he said shook me. His defenses, his claims of 'not knowing how badly he hurt me.' Things that would have shook me in the past, things that I would have bought and later pay for dearly. They were nothing to me; I fired back at him. And anyone who was privy to our relationship knows how very few times I did so. I stood up for myself; I wasn't budged. I cannot say anymore if he didn't care or if my words didn't strike him; I could feel that they did. But will he ever understand what he made me feel? I don't know, and with a final goodbye I don't think I'll ever know. Honestly, I hope to the Gods that he never feels it. I know that sounds strange or cliche, but I mean it. No one deserves to feel that way. It was more than just a broken heart; it was something large and terrifying, something that crippled the emotional and physical state. I could have lived with a broken heart.

 


If Steve had left this house in February, I would have healed faster. If he hadn't brought Matt here, if I was not subjected to hearing their nightly love and banter and sex; I would have healed. But that was not the hand I was dealt; I was dealt months of absolute and indescribible torment. I am aware of how melodramatic that sounds; and I am moreso away that the reason I call it melodramatic is because, honestly, that's what Steve would have called it. You can all tell me I'm fucked up, that I should have gotten over it years ago, let it go then. And you're all right; I should have. But I didn't, I couldn't. I tried, and Steve's mixed signals kept me in just a place where I never wanted to do anything to lose him forever. So great was my love for him, my devotion, my absolute and unquestioning dedication. I thought that he'd see my strength shine through, I thought so many uselessly foolish things. He had fallen completely out of love with me so many months before I could even grasp the reality; and then I could never grasp the reality fully. He toyed with me, he let me suffer, he watched it. But even through all of that, I hope he never feels that way. I hope none of you ever feel that way. If you have, then you know the kind of physical and emotional and intellectual damage I'm speaking of. For some people it lasts for days or weeks, months. For some of us it lasts for years. No, I would never wish that on him or anyone. I used to think I wanted it, only so he could come to me and say how fully he understood my pain. But I am past that now. I don't want him to understand it anymore; for to understand it, he'd have to experience it. And until he does, he'll never get it.

 


So now I sit here, trying to recollect whatever I was before this transpired. Before, during, and after the e-mail; I felt winded. Yes, I felt a keen sense of strength inside of me that before was the place of cowardice and timidity. And of course I am aware of all of the good that will rise from this. But that does not stop the inevitable pain. It's a distant kind of pain; coming in waves:

 


- My loneliness to be loved and touched out of love feels like a monstrous vibration. The only man I love is right now miles from my arms. The only one I truly wish to cry on and feel protected and safe with. He does, though, in all of the ways he can, make me feel that way. But my loneliness and longing is for some reason quaking inside of my chest. I don't know why, I really don't see how my loneliness could have anything to truly do with cutting ties with Steve. I do not even equate Steve and Immanuel into the same sentence, except to say I love Manuel differently and stronger; but I do not compare the two. Why does the chosen and required loss of one make me long even more for the other? I love him so very much, people. His words to me tonight helped me along, of that I cannot deny. But his words were telling me that I'm strong, that he and others did not instill this strength inside of me; it was there all along, waiting. He has truly introduced me to myself, and truly loves the man and the boy he's found inside of me. His 'bag of broken glass,' as it were.

 


- Of course, there's the inevitable problem of flashback. How one's memory can play such tricks. One moment you're cursing all of the terrible moments, and another your mind tries to justify them with the smiles and the good times. Now that it's over, completely over, I find my mind racing back to those safer days, when all was right with the world as long as I was in Steve's arms. Strange. There's a sudden vacancy in my heart where, I guess, he once stood. An emptiness. Will I ever be able to look back and not feel anything but nostalgia?

 


- The odd and strange idea that I might soon or one day suffer a monumental panic attack and have the urge to call him. I know that I must cross that bridge if I get there, but there's a part inside of me that's saying that no matter what anxiety or panic comes to pass; no one can comfort or calm me like myself. Maybe Steve was just a psychosomatic placebo; a nmemonic trigger. Maybe it was just his voice that calmed me when I felt like I was going mad. I don't know; but I know that it's a sickening and sad way to conquer one's panic and fear to turn to the one person that may have helped it along in the first place. May have, mind you. I am not blaming him for all of it or all of my problems; I am pointing the finger only at the places he's touched. But I know that having so much repressed emotion and anger bottled up did not help the anxiety. Ah, who knows.

 

 

- I did not want him to feel pain with my words. And I know I said cruel things in the conversation, the e-mail, and the post. Those cruel things I do not regret; I don't regret anything, except that it took me so long to come to this. But even that I don't regret, because I know there was a reason as to why it took so long. Maybe. But I don't want to hurt anyone, no matter what has been done to me by them. I don't want to hurt Steve, nor Nicole, nor Josie, nor anyone. I want it all to just fade into the background and simply go away. I have no taste for causing tears. Although I honestly doubt that whatever I said would have any sort of profound effect such as that on Steve.

 


- Rage. Anger at his sad attempts at defense, at his ruined sense of trying to justify himself, telling me that I am throwing our friendship away for 'shit that happened years ago.' That phrase alone shows me that he does not and never did really understand the gravity of what I felt. I always made it appoint to make his feelings my top priority. Always. No one can ever accuse me of neglecting how he felt; even during the course of our friendship. I put my feelings aside, my longing and my passions aside. I shut my mouth against my obsessions or emotional ramblings only to open it when he wanted his dick sucked. Steve's happiness was my only concern. During the years after our relationship, the 'Friendship Years,' as I may grow to call them, I did the same. I listened to him tell me about this new boy, or this current problem, et cetera. And for all intents and purposes he listened to me, too. He gave what advice he could; I cannot rip from him all goodness and say he was a lousy friend completely. But when I realized that the friendship would never replace what was there and what was taken away; I had to walk. In truth, the friendship was almost a mockery of our relationship. We advised one another, spoke to one another. I even told him I loved him once a year or so ago when he and his boyfriend broke up and he was devastated; and he said he loved me too. It was a sad state of affairs; for both of us.

 

 


I am so very lonely right now, and I feel completely alone. Yes I have my friends - Kim and I are talking right now - But that does not quench the loneliness in my heart. And yes, I have my Immanuel - but the distance between us pains me. Our love comforts me, of course it comforts me and I would not trade it in for anything in the world; but I long so much for his arms around me, my face buried in the space between his shoulder and his neck. I want that more than I want for anything in the world, but that will happen soon. I cannot pressure him with my loneliness; and my loneliness will pass. I will wake up one of these days and feel jubilant at the weight off of my shoulders.

 

 

As each day passes, I grow stronger. I grow stronger for Immanuel, for my family, for my friends; but more than anything I grow stronger for myself. I have to. It's time to take my stand. This is not just about letting Steve go, that was simply a piece of it. It's saving money, it's working hard at my job, it's trying to come back together in my mind. I have to call my friends more; Yishya, Melanie, Gold, Leah. I have to see my father, my family soon. I must draw again instead of doing only digital artwork; find new movies to watch while still obsessing over old ones. But more than all of that; I must be wholly true to myself as I've never been before. I will no longer walk on eggshells; I will no longer swallow other people's emotions and hide my own. If someone angers or hurts me, they will know. If someone is careless with my emotions, they will know. I am never careless with people's emotions. Sure I might be distant, and aloof, not call as often, vanish for a time; but how other people feel has always been paramount. But no longer, never again, will I let how someone else feels override how I may feel. Not to say I am going to grow cold or narcissistic; not at all. But I will demand and expect the same treatment and respect that I offer.

 

 

On Friday, my brother noted that I appeared angry. His words to me were that I looked as if I were ready to 'kick babies and punch puppies.' I suppose that could be said. I spent too much time being happy and jubilant for everyone elses sake; either real or drug induced. I never wanted to be angry or salty because I didn't want anyone to take it personally or think they caused it. But when Patrick was here, I wasn't angry; I was resolute. Why did I have to bounce up and down like a doll to appear happy? I was in a wonderful mood; I had an awesome day at work, several much needed hugs from old friends, beautiful shots of the Basilica Cathedral.

 

 

Before I go, I want to relate to you just one single instance of the strange connection Immanuel and I have. It's a small thing, and surely to most observations it's a coincidence. But these coincidences happen almost every time we speak.

 

 

Today at work, on some downtime, I was researching Illuminated Script. You know, the really ornate lettering in medieval or renaissance books. And I came across a word that's been tormenting me since last week when I read 'The Vampire Armand.' Armand described something written on 'vellum,' and I had meant to research the word but never found the time. Today while doing my research, I saw the word again and clicked on the entry page for it. It's animal skin stretched taut and dried out for use in writing, much like parchment paper. It was used primarily during the medieval era, but it's use stretches back to Ancient Rome. I was happy to finally learn the word, and suddenly wanted to use it in a sentence. But that's not really a word that one just works into casual conversation. But tonight, Immanuel and I were speaking and guess what he said the past exists beyond? Yes, the vellum of Maia(One of the Pleiades) - Okay, so you're grinning and shaking your head, ready to tell me that it's just a coincidence. And you're right; but those coincidences happen quite often. Strange things that I might have loved when I was a child and forgot about he suddenly reminds me of; songs or movies we both might like for the same obscure reason, a reason that no one else might ever get. He knows things about me, not just deep seated emotional stuff but other things like interests and hobbies and ideas and visions. Things I have never wrote in any blog, some of them I had even forgot about completely. So, yeah. Those coincidences are quickly becoming the fountain of my love and the stream of some of my strength. "Someone else in this world get's it."

 

 

So this was a long, all over the place entry; I know. My mind is very odd right now. It's almost manic. On the one hand it's refreshed, and resolute; but on the other it's pained. Life is strange. But life is good, when you take a stand and appreciate who you are; life can be wonderful. Sure, I will suffer still. Sure, tomorrow I'll wake up and all day long for Immanuel's touch and feel the loneliness well up alongside the love; but then I'll have other moments. The cigarette break at 10:30; a walk to a nearby church to snap a few pictures; reading more chapters in "Blood & Gold;" simply waking up. Even if that awakening does usher loneliness; even if I'm rushing around to make it to work on time because I'm wide awake right now and can't sleep; even if that awakening sends me from my warm covers into the cold day and the foul smelling subway - It's an awakening. Yes, my life is awakening. The cliche has come full circle; I feel like a vampire that's been asleep for centuries, now waking to the new world around him.

 

 

And for all it's quirks and sadness and despair and hungry and poor and terror; it's a beautiful fucking place.

 

 

Thanks for reading whatever I write here, for the kudos, for the comments. Thank you for simply letting my voice be heard.
The Color:
Midnight Blue
The Mood:
lonely lonely
The Music:
Annie Lennox - A Whiter Shade Of Pale
* * *
* * *

The tale has ended. The comedy, the ordeal. It's over. I've cut Steve loose from me. I've sent to him a very long, final letter. I put it all there. How he made me feel, what he took from me, what I had to work for years to regain. The fact that I pined for him until 2007. I poured everything there. I did it through e-mail so I could get all of my thoughts out. No being cut off, no second guessing, no chance for him to defend himself against my words, my truth. I've taken him off of my Myspace, along with those whom were in relation to him. Mutual friends, people he worked with.

 

 

He did not read my letter until tonight, and prior to that I did have the sudden inkling to unsend it. But I resisted that foolish urge. He hasn't responded; he may not, he may not even care. But I cannot say that any of that worries me anymore. It's the end, a final goodbye. Our friendship was a desperate hope, a clinging idea that he would someday come back. And I was his friend when either he had no one else, or maybe when he was horny.

 

 

I did turn to him three times during an episode of panic and anxiety, but those days are done. Even if I suffer ungodly during a terrible attack, I will turn inward to the only one I know I can rely on forever; myself. It's been said that once you make the decision that you're a man, you automatically become one. And I made that decision weeks ago, almost a month or so, and everything has fallen into place around me. Yes, I'm a man now. I am resolute, and resolved.

 

 

It hurt to write it and send it, of course. It hurt to relive those moments, to realize what I still have to work for. There are pieces of me that are still missing, still broken. I'm not melodramatic in this, nor am I attempting to appear as a martyr; I am being honest and true, no longer denying myself the pain and tears. No longer chastising myself, second guessing myself. I am allowing myself to admit what was done to me, what was taken from me. My youth, my innocence, my ability to love and feel love. I'm allowing myself to realize that I deserve love, I deserve appreciation, I deserve to be treated like someone who matters. And I am allowing myself to realize that with or without those things; I do matter. Even if I'm not special, or unique, or any of that; I matter. I matter to those who truly love me, and I matter to myself.

 

 

I do not want Steve to hurt, I do not want anything bad to come his way, and it was not my intention to hurt him with my words. There was always a small part of me that hoped he'd one day feel what I felt, that one day he'd see what he'd done to me, what he took from me. But I cannot worry on that anymore. I cannot long for a heartfelt apology; I had to find and create my own closure. I had to...It was the final piece. My anxiety and panic came from repressed emotions, repressed words and deeds. Too many mistakes, too many thoughts. No more. No longer will I allow myself to suffer for Steve's or anyone's sake. No longer will I walk on broken glass, dance on eggshells. I am a man, a man who must learn to completely rely on himself in this world. Yes, I will turn to those who love me and who I love for occasional emotional support. My beloved, dearest, best friend Kim put it beautifully - I need them because I love them, not the other way around. To love someone because you need them is not the best feeling; to feel needed rather than loved. I need Kim, my brother Patrick, Manuel, my mother...I need them because I love them. But I do not love them because I need them.

 

 

Yes, I'm a bit shaky. It took a lot out of me to stand up, tell him all of it, let him go, cut myself free. I am hurting in reliving those horrible moments, hurting when I take an inventory of my heart. So much is still bruised, so much is still tender. I still apologize for talking too much about myself, I still apologize if I come across emotional. I still sometimes fancy myself as an emotional basketcase; a histrionic bag of nerves and melodrama. Even when my emotions are true and real, I still fear expressing them. Parts of me are still so used to not mattering; that the expression of my emotions will be met with sneers, met with the phrase 'get over it.' But I'm getting better...I'm learning to express what I feel again.

 

 

I am sure that Steve might be thinking that my current emotional state has been brought on because of Manuel; that this is just a phase and I'll come crawling back to him weeping and taking it all back. And in a way, a lot of this was brought on by Manuel. So strong is this love between us that it's reshaped so much of my heart. But it's not all him. It's realizing that I deserve happiness, that I am loved by people and appreciated and needed. It's so much more than just being in love. And yes, I am in love. But if, Gods forbid, that love were to go away, I would not go crawling back to Steve in a desperate attempt to regain the friendship that hurt me more than helped me. I have myself, and I am coming to terms with loving myself, seeing myself in different lights. Manuel has called me his 'bag of broken glass,' and he's right. So much of me has been broken, so much of my heart lay in tattered shards across the floor. But his love, and the love of Kim, and my brother, and of my mother and of others, has gradually helped me put this stained glass window back together. And Manuel is the soft light that will shine through it.

 

 


For my brother, Patrick. You know me better than anyone on this Earth. We were brought together as brothers, but we are now close friends. I would give my final breath for you. My intelligent, strong willed, amazing confidante. You ground me without chastising the dreamer within me. You play devil's advocate and force me to think about things, but in an illuminated glow. You do not judge my madness, but simply inspire me to examine it and understand it. And I know you're not one for such emotional expressions; I love you dearly, my brother.

 



For my dearest Kim. You are my best friend in this world; you've invited me into your life, into the life of your son Christian. You've always helped me to feel like a man, you've allowed me to protect you as you have also protected me. Our friendship has gone through many stages, and nothing in this world could ever tear our friendship apart. I love you for the woman you are, and for the girl you once were. I love you for the man you bring out of me, and the boy you appreciate.

 

 

For my Yishya. You are also my best friend, my oldest friend. Cherished, loved more than I could ever express. You were with me in the darkest hours that have come upon my life thus far; and you've survived your own in silence. Steve ruined a lot of you, as much as he ruined much of me. But you never expressed too much of your own hurt; indeed, I was always the one who talked for hours in a selfish, immature way. You've suffered in your life, and having found your happiness, have allowed yourself to come to terms with the wrongs done to you. Your words to me about Steve helped me to realize so much of his character, and your loyalty and love to me has strengthened me and quickened me. I love you dearly.

 

 

For Rachel. You have seen me through dark times, forcing me to stand up for myself against another who took advantage of me and hurt me. You appreciate my talent and my soul, you trust me and show me again and again the meaning of trust and friendship as only a woman raised in South Philly could. You are my ally, my sidekick, the other R to my R&R. I love you, I love your family. You are my artist.

 

 

For my mother. You carried me within your body, you've given me this life. You express pride in what I do, and you've recently told me that I am a man, and that you are proud of me for what I've said to Steve. You have suffered much in this life, you are a hardened pilgrim. But you've never allowed your pain to remove you, to kill you, to taint your love or make you bitter. You've always been my rock, my soul. More than my mother, you are Patricia. A woman, to me, a friend. A human being with such a keen sense of humanity. I love you.

 

 

And last but certainly not least, for my Immanuel. You found me years ago, when I was a pained shadow, lacking and longing. You read my online blogs, attempting contact only once in 2006 but not again until 2008. You see the boy I was before I was broken, and you've introduced him to the man I am and the man I would like to be. You love me for all of who I am, and I love you for the same. You appreciate me on levels that none ever have, you see parts of me that I forget were there or hid from the world. You know me almost as well as my brother, and the more you know the stronger your love for me grows. Same with me. The more I know, the more I love you. I need you because I love you dearly. You've redecorated the house of my heart, lit candles in the darkened corners, chased away the spiderwebs. It's been almost a year since we've begun our correspondence, and every time I say I love you or you say you love me; it feels like the first time it's ever been said by me or to me. You've shown me that there is love greater than that of Steve, that hope and belief are nothing in the face of true love and knowledge. For every word you've said to me, for every song and video, phone call and conversation. For everything, I thank you. And for everything, I love you.

 

 

And there are more people whom I love and whom love me. Melanie and Xavier, Leah, my father, some of my family. My recently new found friend Jennifer. These people love me, and I love them, and that love is glowing within my chest right now. The stagnant love of Steve no longer drips onto it. The men that loved me in the past and whom I loved briefly; the friends I've had but have gone away. I matter, I see that so clearly now. And it's because I matter that I've finally done what I should have done years ago. I've said goodbye, I've walked away.

 

 

Will I someday regret it? I don't think so. I am sure I will always remember him. I am sure I will sometimes move into thoughts about both the good moments and the bad times. But memories are nothing unless one learns from them; and I'm learning more each day that passes. Yes, he had his moments of goodness, his moments of being the man I loved and the man who loved me. And yes, he sometimes treated me like a prince, taking care of me when I couldn't take care of myself. And I will always thank him for those things; but I am no longer in his debt. I've paid dearly for all of the goodness that he may have given me.

 

 

And now it's over. The phoenix will rise even if there are tears in his eyes. The flames may still burn, but they will never again reduce me to ashes. I'm free, I am resolved. And while I may shake still and wonder and worry; I will never regret it. I will look into the mirror and be able to finally say to myself that I've brought about the closure; that I willingly closed the the book, turned off the movie, finished the song. My eyes will reflect that strength even in my darkest moments; I will rely totally on myself, finding solitude and strength when the pain comes or the panic threatens.




I am a man, I am Richard Beck. Oldest son of my parents, named for my father. I am the artist, the dreamer, the lover, the friend, and the brother. I am the one who can be both a walking Anne Rice novel or an episode of Animaniacs; the sometimes lazy but often times hard worker. The spiritual one, the passionate man, the one who loves a fresh box of crayons; the one who cannot live without beauty and color. The Pagan who walks beneath the arches of a church, lights a candle and has words with the Blessed Mother; the Philly boy in love with his city. The chain-smoker. I am myself. I matter. I may not be special or unique, but I matter. And I always have. These are not egotistical nor narcissistic words; I matter because others love me and appreciate me, and because I love and appreciate them. Without them, I would still be all of those things but with no one to share it with, no one to discuss it with, no one to love it with. No one to laugh with, to cry with. Without them, I would be like a stained glass window in a ghost-town. Beautiful, perhaps, but unappreciated. I've spent too many years feeling inadequte and useless. But no more; those days are done.

The Color:
Sky Blue
The Mood:
exhausted exhausted
The Music:
Annie Lennox - Cold
* * *
* * *

Noon.

The young man sliced through the underground concourse, heading towards a place that's been gently calling to him for the past few days. His camera was heavy in the pocket of his suede jacket, a cigarette behind his ear as he moved North underground. He mounted the stairs two at a time, lighting his cigarette the moment his lungs breathed in the cold November air on Arch Street. Now above ground, he made his way to the Holy Place. Sidetracked for a moment to admire another House of God, a few pictures taken but later deleted, as he purposefully walked North on 18th street, passing the building he once worked in without an upward glance.

 

The Benjamin Franklin Parkway stretched out before him, the strip bathed in the noonday sun, and his eyes slowly glanced upward as the dome of his destination loomed ahead. The Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul



 

This was an old cathedral, built in 1864. Situated diagonally across from Logan Square, one of the original four quadrant parks that William Penn and Thomas Holmes had planned into the city of Philadelphia. An ornate, classical structure of rich brown stone and workings of copper that have now turned an aged, soft mint green. The dome rising high above the street, flanked with stained glass windows and crowned with a gilded cross of gold. A cross that today glinted as the young man walked, his eyes roving and lovingly admiring every detail. Details he has seen so often, but can never get his fill of. But today there would be no exterior shots; today would be an interior adventure of observation. Something within him, since Monday, has pleaded with him to take a moment out of time for a holy place. Not to worship, not to posture or kneel, but to appreciate and admire with new eyes.

 

A year ago he'd entered into this place; a terrible day and an emotional hardship had dictated that he find some place built for peace and quiet. And he remembered, now as he stood outside finishing his cigarette, how powerfully beautiful the place was on the inside. But at that time he was not really in the proper state of mind to appreciate such finery; he'd walked down the central aisle and made a left to where the Blessed Mother usually stood. He prayed to Her, but mainly only allowed himself several minutes of thought. He'd stepped free of the place clear headed, vowing to one day return and drink in the details with a better mindset.

 

And today was that day. The cigarette was still half burning when he tossed it to the street, slowly climbing the stairs to the doors that, when pushed gingerly, gave way without so much as a whisper. Now he stood within the vestibule of the cathedral, shaking his head free of whatever inane thoughts might be present. Yes, although his Catholicism had died years ago, he still knew the ropes of being within a place dedicated to God. He could hear voices behind the closed doors ahead of him. Was there a Mass in progress?



As he opened the door that led into the sanctuary proper, he realized that there was indeed a Mass going on. But the fleeting feeling of awkwardness left as his nostrils were filled with the old familiar fragrance of frankincense and myrrh; beeswax candles; polished wood. Church smells that encapsulated many moments in his childhood. But he did not drift on memories as the door closed softly behind him. His eyes stared forward respectfully at the small congregation currently kneeling as the priest spoke of Christ the Lord. The young man stepped slowly to stand beside two workmen of the church. He was not paying much attention to the words of the priest, the holy man dressed in scarlet red some one hundred feet away. Instead, he allowed the holy air of the place to entice and introduce itself to all of his senses. And his senses were in an agonizing rapture.

Towering columns rising to support the gilded ceiling outlined in gold; ornate lights hanging down on polished brass chains. Wooden pews with red velvet cushions, the floor made up of gleaming black and white marble; a good deal of shining, almost reflective stone and sculpture; the soft glow of candles forming shadows against finery and detail that would make even the hardest eyes moisten. But the glory was the dome that crowned the head of the sanctuary above the altar. Warm plaster detailed with hammered gold; squares and angles giving way to perfectly placed murals of angels, of saints. Surrounding the half circle of the altar were large stained glass windows; much of the glass tinted cobalt and prussian blue, with the occasional glint of red or green. Arches gave way to arches, meeting the mantles of the columns. The styles seemed a mixture of Baroque, High Renaissance, maybe Italian. French. So much finery, and yet some things were so very simple. Windows with sparse yet colorful details outlined in iron. Some of the glass work seemed to hearken to Venice, while much of the plaster echoed the beauty of France. And the murals that seemed to be a replacement for stained glass took the young man's breath away completely. He'd never stepped foot into the Sistine Chapel; but he could not deny that the beauty within these walls were at least comparable in quality. Bold colors framed beautifully with softer pigments of rendered flesh, skies, and the natural beauty of God's Green Earth. And the statues and sculptures that populated the place; such quality. Indeed, it would be impossible to recount here in words what met the young mans eyes. And it wasn't only his eyes that were spoiled with such beauty.

 

The thick fragrances; the feel of his hands against the cool, smooth marble; the soft voice of the priest whose words themselves seemed unimportant; the breathing and occasional cough from members of the gathered congregation. He could not hear the world outside. No sirens, no horns. And if those in the pews were not dressed in modern styles, he'd swear that he'd been dropped into a place where some of the more beautiful styles of the past could meet.

 

He quietly moved to the right hand side of the cathedral, out of the priests line of sight and into the darker shadows given forth by the columns that towered high above his head. Here the light was soft, with only candles and a few positioned domed windows on the ceiling offering a glow that felt more natural than anything he's never known. His eyes drank in the statues of the Christ in his Mother's arms; the two similiar yet distinct angels that were on either side; all beneath a recessed archway. Iron gates carved and gilded and crowned with colorful detail held him back from going close to the small chapel that was currently under renovations. Ahead of him, he saw this:

 

 

And he began to take more pictures of the place; of his surroundings. He thought lovingly of his Immanuel, whom he had told of this Cathedral months before. He was excited to show him this place.

 

 

 

 

 

Suddenly a sound woke him, bringing him back to reality. He walked slowly to watch the priest, realizing that the sound was one he'd heard many times in his life; the bell that pealed when the Communion host was broken. His eyes roamed for a few moments, but he knew that his lunch hour was almost finished. He'd have to leave this place now to return to work on time. And he didn't want to leave yet; he wanted to walk around more; explore; touch things; perhaps sit in a pew; maybe even pray. But the place would be here tomorrow, and the next day, always whenever he needed to be surrounded by art and peace and holiness.

 

Holiness. Maybe not the holiness of Catholicism, but the holiness of pure art and beauty. Something profound about artwork of this caliber, of this quality. Reflecting God, perhaps. A feast for the senses. The artist within him felt at home, even if the Catholic within him had faded away long ago. To worship this place for it's artwork and beauty, to see it not only as a God's house, but a place that housed the most important Divinity he'd ever known - Beauty.

 


 

 

Thank you for reading. And FYI - The pictures above can be seen in their larger versions on my Myspace, in the album Holy Places in my pictures. This is not to whore out my Myspace, of course. But until I can find a better place to organize and keep my photography; it'll do. The link to said Myspace - www.myspace.com/bitchofbabylon


 


 


 

The Color:
Goldenrod.
The Mood:
artistic artistic
The Music:
Ave Maria - Maria Callas
* * *
* * *

The young man stood at the corners of Eighth and Market Streets, staring forward at the filthy cobblestoned streets where men and women criss crossed gently as to avoid the puddles collecting, the muddy water that threatened every piece of silk that passed over it. He was maybe twenty four, twenty five, bright gray blue eyes, hair of a golden sand tied back in a black ribbon. His back was to a lamp post, where in a few hours the gas would give off it's noxious odor and illuminate this little circle of reality. But he wouldn't be there by that point, he was only taking a moment to breathe.

 

He let his eyes roam the cityscape around him, his ears take in the clutter and the noises that never ceased. Even during the twilight hours, drunken men would roam the alleys near The Dock. That horrid body of stagnant water that should really be covered over, attracting mosquitoes and debauchery that was well hidden away. Ah, those insects. Another fight with the fever would surely topple this city. This city on the brink of some sort of self-discovery. Yes, Philadelphia. You've fostered Independence, and now you must earn it. He looked up, towards Broad Street, which was really Fourteenth Street. He let his eyes roam over the shadow of the new City Hall, rising only to the third story on the facade that faced him. The other side was more completed, and he could make out the men working on the high and dangerous scaffolding. Ropes slung, stones lifted. An enormous, almost arrogant project. But he liked how it was coming along. It looked worthy, but will it ever be finished? They started it almost twenty years ago. Corruption around that place of elegance that will come day represent this city.

 

Philadelphia. 1888. The Industrial Revolution was rising from the ashes, gripping the city and putting her men to work. Money seemed endless, commerce was everywhere. The whole nation wanted Philadelphia's products and she never stopped working to give the nation what it wanted. He unfolded his arms, adjusting the back of his cloak that seemed so out of fashion these days. He was meeting someone soon; he knew the time by the skies above. 4:45pm, approximately. His companion will be at the finished side of City Hall; the Western portal that was already in use as a prisoner's entrance. A morbid place to meet, yes, but then their companionship was of the morbid sort.

 

They had met days ago at a ball that neither wanted to attend. Both with women on their arms dressed in their finery, going through the motions of the city's latest dance. More posturing, more posing for the public. He was not wealthy, nor was the other man who stood some fifteen feet away, his face near the larger more ornate candles that flanked the walls. Dark haired man, well built beneath his Quaker gray clothes. But foreign. Italian? Spanish? He was never good at that game, but he leaned against the tapestry and kept watch as the dark haired man watched him. The distance was covered effortlessly by their eyes, occasionally one of them would look away, but always return their former visage.

 

It was not until two hours later, when the blonde one was walking through the alley behind the ballroom, that he heard footsteps behind him. A thief, no doubt, and the young man walked quicker, reaching the great open space of Washington Square. To go beneath the dark shadows of the trees would be suicide, but before he could make the decision on where to go, he caught in the corner of his eye the build and face of his follower. The dark haired one, trailing at a distance, but close enough to see the details he'd memorized at the ball. The blonde man turned slowly, resting his weight now against the brick gates of the Square. Behind him, birds and animals mingled with the occasional laugh of a drunken lover. Ah, everyone's a lover when their drunk.

 

But the blonde man was startled by this. Why would he follow him? What was there for this man to seek? Could it be ... No, not possible. Not anymore. No one went that way these days, it was forbidden and looked down upon as if one looks down upon a murderer. To love another of ones own sex was grounds for many things, none of which were pleasant and most of which forced such lovers to live a life of mockery and shadows. But the blonde man could not help but feel the first pangs of attraction as the dark haired man stepped into the light.

 

No words yet. Nothing. Not a name given or received, just blue eyes meeting brown. It was immediete, the knowledge that, yes, this was what he'd hoped it was. And surely, this was his luckiest night. For this man was sculpted beautifully, and the blonde one felt his face flush with a smile, a grin actually. The dark haired man responded in kind, and before either of them knew what happened they were walking together beneath the shadows of the trees. Obscured, hidden. Holding hands in secret. They were speaking together, decided to meet later just as two male friends. Go from there.

 

And so we're back to the blonde man walking West on Market Street, coming to the great wall of scaffolding that covered this mammoth public building. A great big nightmare for all sorts of traffic now. Whose idea was it to build this monstrosity in the center of the two most important and well traveled thoroughfares of this city? Ah, the poor horses having to turn so violently. Some riders didn't care, they went right through the pedestrian portals and continued on their merry way. Shouts from workers above. Immigrant workers from Port Richmond, Kensington, Moyamensing. Now those places were a part of this city, all consolidated into one.

 

He reached the West Portal, and there stood his dark haired friend, beneath the freshly sculpted face of Sympathy. He was looking upward to the reliefs carved above the entrance of the Prodigal Son, weeping on a man's lap. The blonde man smiled, feeling a rush take hold of his limbs, an excitement in his footsteps as he moved quickly now. The dark haired man turned slowly, nodding, a look on his face of relief. For a moment he doubted this meeting would take place, that fear would override the attraction. But here they stood. Their love forbidden, looked down upon, hidden away and hoped to disappear by those around them. Yes, fight for your Independence, and then begin limiting it. Who gets what. No, your love is taboo. Sinful. No place for your kind.

 

They moved together now, beneath the archway, daring not to steal a moment in the shadows. These workers would drop stones from the higher floors if they saw such a 'threat' to their masculinity. Rumors would spread. Houses would burn. Lovers never to love would be ripped apart before their first kiss, based on the thoughts and ethics of those around them.

 

But these things were not spoken of. Instead, as they walked down the length of South Broad Street, they discussed everything else. The new music coming from Europe; yes the dark haired man was Italian; they both despised having to play dress up, instead wishing to lounge in scholarly rags and quote poetry or newly banned philosophy. Both wanted to spend their days together on the floor somewhere, surrounded by pillows and velvet, like two Bohemians from France who didn't know any better. Ah, they talked on and on, for blocks. The Italian was here on business; the blonde one having been born and raised in this place. They reached the older sections of the city, where once the city's fathers debated the nation itself. A wooden bench, they both sat down, speaking and sharing all that could be thought of. Nothing physical, nothing of lust no matter how great the attraction.

 

But then it happened. Then the world revealed itself, it's ugliness, it's rancor. The blonde's named was called out by two men who approached; one of which was a former lover, spurned and forgotten. He had used the blonde to experience the sinful nature of the sinful sex; and regretted it immedietely, banishing the young man to the streets and sleeping with every woman he could find. Or so the rumors said. The blonde only remembered that brief night of broken passion, the man confessing his desires as they left the seedy tavern on The Dock. And now he was joined by another, both of them violently accusing the seated men of sin, of abomination. The blonde stood in front of the Italian, declaring his false innocence and accusing outright the accuser of his own treachery, of his own desires. The accuser turned red with rage and shame, and before the Italian could even rise from the bench a broken cobblestone whizzed through the air. A shout, stone hitting stone as the rock, after finding it's mark, clattered to the walkway below. Blood on it.

 

The blonde man wavered, his eyes staring forward as the accusing man looked on in horror at his own action. He remembered the boys gentleness, his kiss, his arms. He quickly turned, fleeing down the pathway and leaving his companion in bloodshed behind. The Italian caught the man as he collapsed backward, his eyes open wide, the crimson red of blood soaking his blonde hair that had fallen from the ribbon to the ground below. Blood layered over the Italian's hand as he cradled the head of his would-be lover, who looked up at him with whatever awareness was left in his eyes. No smile formed, no words passed his lips. He slipped from this world as he slipped into the Italians arms. And now the Italian looked up at the man who still remained, staring at what his former cowardly companion had accomplished.

 

No thoughts. No ethics. The man became crazed, his brown eyes narrowed in a violence that caused the other man to finally turn and flee for what he knew to be his very life. The Italian lifted the broken man into his arms, carrying him into the fading day. He did not know the boys house, his family. He only knew his name, and the young man had not even learned the Italians name. Ah, but what were names in the face of such affection. No kisses, nothing but this, now. Dried blood. A broken heart.

 

Revenge.

 

And such revenge came swiftly two nights later, the murderer leaving the tavern with a whore at his beck and call, making their way down the stinking side streets that criss crossed William Penn's original order. The whore was moreso drunk than the murdering man, and when she collapsed at his side after the sexual act he paid her for - The Italian struck. The whore never budged as her one night companion's throat was slit from behind, the blood pouring forth into the whore's hair. Ah, poor, useless whore; she will probably be hung for this murder. But the Italian could not dwell on that, at the moment. But when he did realize that possibility, he lifted the whore in her drunken stupor and walked with her in his arms, depositing her many blocks away. Best to not let an innocent hang at the gallows.

 

And the Italian vanished into the pages of history, just as the blonde man would only be another name on the taxes of that year of 1888. No one would ever know what transpired between those days, those moments. Those feelings never realized, only dreamed of and discussed. But the bond was forged, the movements begun. The Gods of Love took note of all of this, the spheres above memorized it. Saved it for later. A small jar, a Pandora's Box. Something for later.

 

The young man stood at the corner of 15th and Market Streets, waiting impatiently to cross the street. He took a pull from his cigarette, exhaling the smoke from his nostrils as the light finally turned green. Walk. He was tall, with blue gray eyes and dark blonde hair, the front bleached out to a lighter shade. His eyes roamed upward at the behemoth City Hall before him; no longer the tallest building in the city, not by a long shot. But it was finally cleaned, polished. It took them forever to build it, and then another hundred years for them to clean it and make it look the way it was imagined. His eyes roamed to the tower itself, the clocks on all four sides blazing yellow, the statue of William Penn looking out for eternity. A bike messenger whizzed by him.

 

He was hurrying a little tonight, finally passing beneath the recently polished sculpted face of Sympathy that peered down at him and everyone else whom actually took notice of her. The Prodigal Son above her. Admonition. Surrender. Apology. Ah, but the young man walked quickly through this less ornate entranceway. The Prisoner's Entrance. His favorite entrance. He was meeting someone tonight.

 

Philadelphia. 2008.

 

And there in the courtyard, his back to the approaching young man, stood his dark haired companion. The one he loved but never laid real eyes on, the one he'd kissed only in his mind. The blonde man walked slower, slower. The dark haired man was looking down now, at the mural on the courtyard floor. A grid map of Philadelphia, surrounded by the Zodiac, and then surrounded by the compass. The blonde man stood behind the dark haired one, and before the dark haired man could turn around to face him; he felt the arms come slowly around his waist, and a whisper to his ear.

 

"Hey, Stranger."


 


 

The Color:
Aquamarine.
The Mood:
creative creative
The Music:
Tennessee Ernie Ford - Sixteen Tons
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I've decided that perhaps I want to update you, the LiveJournal community, about my love life. And I really can't type it out enough; indeed, I can't shut up about it. There will be spelling and grammar errors, and I haven't yet figured out how to insert a LJ-Cut into this new system. Forgive me.

The last time I updated semi-regularly, I believe I had just begun falling for Jim. That was sometime in late 2006, early 2007. And honestly we had several noteworthy months of happiness. He was good to me, I was good to him. He gave me what I was already to take, and I gave him what I was simply afraid of. But eventually, I noted that there was something inside of me that wouldn't give. It was like..something.."Something on the wing!" - It offered worry at first, consternation, and eventually fear. My emotions for Jim waned with each time we saw one another. The sex became redundant, the conversations fragmented and almost meaningless. He was never much of a conversationalist, as it was. He was content to just let me talk until my face turned purple, and eventually this one way manner of speak just got on my nerves. Love was lost, and finally I couldn't do it anymore. We broke it off to remain friends. Hah. Where have I tried that before?

Well, the friendship didn't work out very well. He could not come to terms with it, and we still acted like a relationship. It was a strange few months, his affections growing more. I was weary of him, his ever present attempts to take me back. I remembered I actually said to one of my friends - "Now I know how Steve felt when I was trying to win him back. Christ!"

So I walked away. Staying around was only hurting him more. Thus commenced the eight to ten to sixteen page e-mails and hand-written letters, the packages. The man sent me a birthday card for my 25th birthday almost a year since we'd last spoken. I tell myself that he means well; but he never understood that our love had grown almost stagnant. It didn't go anywhere. We both walked away stronger men. At least, I know I did.

I was single for months, occasionally taking a man into my bedroom only to feel filthy and used afterwards. I wanted it just as much as they did, and that confession only made the feeling worse. Steve was right on that; I simply wasn't built to be a whore.

Around October of 2007, I began speaking to a guy online named James. An all around good guy, really. A geek, like myself, and adorable. Easily the cutest guy I'd ever been with up until then. He was dark Irish, with beautiful blue eyes and brown hair. A little taller than myself. We talked each night, and honestly I was generally so stoned by that point that, yeah, of course I loved him. But he seemed to appreciate the odd complexities about me; he actually liked my obsession with the city of Philadelphia, and could not wait for me to take him on a tour of it. I promised him to show him my coveted view of the cityscape from the 25th floor of my old workplace, at night, when the city burns and glows with a thousand electric lights. But in all honesty, our relationship could be best termed as a whirlwind courtship. We met in November, and were together through until late December. I came to realize that he wasn't as into the things I talked about as he claimed; indeed, when we went to City Hall and to the viewpoint that I was giddily excited about, he told me that it 'all felt forced' and that it should all come naturally. We both took it as an ominious sign that the city was blanketed in fog that night, as well. Couldn't see anything through the windows but glowing whiteness. We ended the relationship mutually.

For all intents and purposes, I did love these men. Not only them, but the other men I was with that I did not note here. Loki, two different men named James. Steve and I continued to talk through these years, occasionally even coming together to sleep together. Him to relieve the boredom of relationship life, and myself to relieve the loneliness of single life. But through all of these experiences, I felt a piece of myself heal. I felt something return, and I felt that wall begin to soften.

For those who might not remember, let me backtrack a bit. I was with my first boyfriend, Steve, for almost five years. We met when I was fifteen, dated until September of 1999, and resumed the relationship sometime in 2000. We lived together, faught ungodly, hurt eachother, loved one another, and finally that chapter came to a terrible close in February of 2004. He told me that he was 'bored with me,' as it were, and in May he had met his younger boytoy Matt. They both lived here, from sometime in June until October. And through those months, my heart was quite essentially broken into pieces. No, I am not the melodramatic one anymore; I actually disdain from any sort of dramatics, unless I'm alone. But these points are relevant, because to understand the man I grew up into I had to remember the man I once was. I spent all of my energy trying to win Steve back, and when he left to move into his new apartment with his new lover, all I could think of was 'our dreams, ripped from me and offered to someone else.' But that was a pathetic, and foolish thought. But that did not stop it from carrying itself through the years, all the way up until 2007. I pined for him, even as I made love to Jim and laughed with James; I thought of Steve. I wanted him to call me, to remember our love, to come to me. I gave myself up to him physically most of the time in some desperate hope that he'd look into my eyes while I did the deed and realize, hey, this man loves me. I wanted so much from that pathetic thought, it became a litany that wrapped itself around my heart. When Jim and I broke up and I watched him fade to my feet, and before James and I had our - shindig - suddenly that pining for Steve just vanished. One morning I woke up and realized, and I mean truly realized, that he's never coming back. And I was thankful for that, even as I kicked myself and grew angry at how long the realization took.

Ah, so I continue. 2008 commenced. I had told an old friend to leave me alone, I had broken it off with James. I was quite a new person in many respects; I felt stronger, with more will behind me. I tossed aside drama. The new year was open to possibility. And I had no idea of what sort awaited me that cold morning in January when I signed onto Myspace.

A letter. A letter from a man named Manuel, who told me that he hoped I felt better(I was sick) soon. His words were very well thought, and I was for a moment amused. Who are you? But that amusement quickly faded into defense when I remembered the friend that I no longer spoke to; she'd go to any length to torment me, I thought, even disguise herself as someone else or have one of her friends do it. So now, full of rancor at this possibility, I fired back a very nice way of asking - "Who the hell are you?" He responded, forwarding along a message he had written to me in March of 2006 that I had responded to. I remembered it as I read it, I remembered the Plato quotation he had included. I was still defensive, stubborn perhaps, and very jaded at this possibility. He said to me that he'd been reading my column for a few years. He had found me through the now defunct GayGoth network website, which I linked to my old homepage on AOL and to this very LiveJournal, whereupon I eventually linked it to my Myspace. And through the years, he'd read my words. He'd liked what I'd written, complimented me on my command of language, shared his thoughts with me about what I'd written. I was struck. I felt that -something- inside of my chest buzz a little bit, but I waved it away.

In short, I didn't buy it. I never thought of myself as anyone but one of the faceless, nameless bloggers that type out their random thoughts. "Today I had apples and cranberries, mom came over, I watched a movie, I want to die." My existance on the World Wide Web, in my mind, meant nothing. Just a bunch of nonsense that communicated with other nonsense about nonsense. And here comes this thought provoking man telling me that I'd caught his attention? Me?

I did accept it, eventually, but mad thoughts came to my mind. He's probably an obese eighty-one year old black man who thinks that if he tugs on my intellegence he'll entrap me. That was my first thought, followed by: He can't be serious; this can't be real. Nothing like this can ever happen to me. Not to me. In the movies and books I like, sure. In my deepest fantasies? Definitely. But realistically? No. I was the weirdo that, when walking into a bar, sent the patrons scurring like that old soap in pepper experiment. I was the guy who brought a book to a club; who danced only when intoxicated and then made a fool of myself.

We began to correspond back and forth. With each message, that -something- in my chest buzzed all the more. The plotline to the movie 'You've Got Mail' rose into my mind and I laughed; yes, I'd always wanted something like that to happen. But did I ever think it would? No, not at all. I was distant with Manuel at first. I did not want to allow myself to believe in it, to see it as anything more than what I thought it was. He'd uploaded a picture to his Myspace, and I remember the beauty of the picture. He had long hair, his face turned to the side, and I remember the picture was tinted blue or purple, maybe it was black and white. "A magazine photo," I told myself, "Something scanned. This is the internet, we can be anyone we want. And no one that beautiful ever fancies me."

He began to note my distance, my aloofness. But we continued to correspond, finally he'd sent me his personal e-mail addresses. Right around the time I was laid off and my grandfather passed away, we began to talk more in depth. I told him many things, but a lot of the things I didn't have to tell him. It was as if he could pluck from within my heart exactly what I was going to say. He was genuinely interested in me, and that realization dawned on me very quickly. And not only that, but I was interested in him! I wanted to know as much about him as I could. My first question was how come he'd never contacted me before. I won't get into the answer here, but suffice to say it was one that left me touched and blushing quite red. I was moved by this man, this Italian man from Costa Rica, this thoughtful, beautiful, soulful man who seemed to know the me that used to be there. Before the bitterness, before the jaded days of cynicism and hatred for all things amour. He saw past it.

He saw the innocent, almost naive man that lay even far from me. The dreamer that I once was, the poet, and the artist that was locked inside the new world of 9-5, drug induced, panic attacking adulthood. He saw that level of my individuality that I not only hid from the world, but for all intents and purposes imagined had died a long time ago. Had grown up. Moved on. Had woken up. But as time went on, as he and I plunged deeper into conversation and thought, I began to become him again. I felt it, I felt it all happening so slowly. My passions and my obsessions began to rise up again, my heart felt jubilant. Steve who? You mean I was in a five year relationship and sobbed for years afterwards? Time flies.

He sent me pictures of himself, and each one just sent shivers of electric up my spine. Beautiful is the only word I can ever find for him. Absolutely, breathtakingly beautiful. Everything I'd ever imagined and wanted and desired in a lover; stepped right from my bedside fantasies.

The very first night we spoke on the phone sent a ripple of reality into all of what we felt. I heard this deep, Italian accented masculine voice on the other end of the line. I felt my knees go weak as we spoke. I could see his face as he spoke. He sent me a package sometime after that, his handwriting, his touch. I'd asked for a bottle of the cologne he wore. Dulce. I held onto the card he had made himself. I held it against my heart and felt, for the first time in so many years, a redness rise into my face. A warmth.

We decided sometime in June or July to meet. November, we'd figured, would be best. As the time marched onward, our conversations grew into a relationship. I promised myself to him, vowing not to sleep with anyone else until him. And I kept that vow, even when Steve came over one night with a drunken friend and tried in vain to seduce me; I told him, no. I am spoken for.

"What if he never comes?" was the question of the hour, and my response was "Well, I guess my virginity will grow back, won't it?" Steve was not amused, but he did understand. He respected my decision as best as his horniness would allow.

And now, it's November. Manuel has broken through that wall. That -something- inside of my chest burns daily. I think about him all day long, we speak everyday, and neither one of us can say 'I Love You' enough. And everytime I say it or hear it, it feels like the first time. I am winded, moved, leaning back against my chair or laying against my pillows with my eyes burning red, my heart thumping inside of my chest. My heart, now without it's walls, so very exposed and even a little scared of being outside in this world again. My heart is in Manuel's hands. He's walked into places that I sealed off long ago; and all the while admiring the view and appreciating his finds. We share so much in common. Music, movies, poetry, philosophy. He tells me something and it triggers a cherished memory from the past for me, and I excitedly tell him, "Yes, yes! I know what you mean!" And I do the same. Heartstrings, wound tight like a violin, and his every word to me plays a note.

This is so very real for me. It's not infatuation, nor obsession. It's certainly not lust. No. This is the realist, most delicate and acute love that I have ever felt. I was with Steve for close to five years, cried over him, screamed for him; but I never, and I repeat, -never- felt this way about him. Manuel brings something out from within me, something that's both new and old. I want to say that he and I knew eachother in a former life; I want to scream his name from the top of a building in Philadelphia; every song I've ever dedicated to someone, every movie that left me wanting; it all comes back to him now. Everything reminds me of him. Nothing is safe from this love, this beautiful love that burns and hurts and pressurizes inside of my chest like so much water. I wake up, I want him and I long for him. I go to sleep, inviting dreams of him. I listen to music and fantasize about our days together. Our meeting. Our moments, the knowing that once I am in his arms nothing will break us apart. Nothing. I find myself hoping that other couples are this happy, this in love. Is it possible for anyone else to feel this? Ah! Love.

And so that's the bulk of it. I am not giving away all of the finer details, as many things should remain private and secret between us both. But this love; this unquestioning trust, this future and present that has rectified my past. Even if we do meet, and it doesn't work out - which neither one of us believe at all - this all would have been worth it. Simply knowing a man like Manuel is worth it; to have someone so thoughtful, so...deep, the best word. Romantic, and intellectual, poetic and simply moving. Just saying, "Yeah, I knew him," would be enough for me. And that he loves me like I love him, that he -knows- me more than people I've known for years? Reality, beautiful reality. No illusions, no fantasies with the exception of the possible.

Love. For all it's sadness and despair, has shown me again how beautiful it can be. For all of the longing I feel for this man, for my thoughts and my soul bared nightly. Love. This love that could divide countries, inspire one to move a mountain just to look into their lovers eyes. It's worth it, it's worth the possibility of a broken heart. It's worth people exclaiming the foolishness of it, the danger. It's worth everything. Love.

And I love him, my Immanuel. I love him.
 

The Color:
Carnation Pink.
The Mood:
loved loved
The Music:
Michael Maniaci, Mozart: Exsultate Jubilate, Andante
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