Dancing with the day

I do not fear

the word or experience sensual.

So much of life is.

This cool crisp sweet-breezy morning,

a tasty being,

all senses dance.

These are my words

dancing with the day.

 

Advertisements

Love for my father, Sanford Cleveland Kahrmann

My father, Sanford Cleveland Kahrmann, remains the greatest gift my life has ever given me. He was born 102 years ago today in Elizabeth, New Jersey.

I think my father and I found sanctuary in each other. When I was a little boy I would go to his room in the early morning, snuggle up next to him, and go back to sleep.

While my parent’s marriage seemed happy to me, I never heard them argue, they slept in separate rooms, we were told, because my mother was a light sleeper and my father snored. True on both counts.

My father taught English at Columbia University and John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and his desk faced the foot of his bed from about two feet away.

I liked to sit on the foot of his bed and watch him work. The paperwork that covered his desk was, for me, a delicious visual feast.

I’d be sitting there watching him work when I’d be overcome with surge of love for him, at which point I’d jump of the bed, run around his desk, and throw my arms around him. We’d hold our hug for a moment or two, and then I’d return to my perch. A short time later it would happen again. I’d run to him and hug him. He always hugged me back.

It wasn’t until years after he died at age fifty-five (I was fifteen) I discovered a gloriously love-filled truth hit me. Not once when I’d crawl into bed next to him or run around his desk to hug him was I rejected. He never responded as if I was a pain, a bother, rude – even worse, bad. No doubt, having your little boy climb into bed next to you in the early morning might wake you, and I know when you’re working hard at a desk, having your son rush into your arms every few minutes for a hug might interrupt the flow of things just a tad. He loved our rituals as much as I did. They meant just as much to him.

It didn’t matter if he was sleeping or working, what mattered to the two of us was the two of us. Father and son, para siempre.

Happy Birthday, Daddy. I would give up the rest of my life in a heartbeat to hug you again, just one more time.

On Peter, on Cape, on writing , & a coming wave – by, Smerkle Grumpy

Once in a blue moon Peter lets me write a piece for his blog. Mostly he goes for long walks with his dog, Charley, while I tap out words on this here keyboard. We don’t talk much about what I want to write but he knows there are times I think it’s important for those who’ve been knowing him for some time, or reading him for some time, to get a peek at just how he’s doing. That’s where I come in. I like to overview him from time to time.

Now he’s doing pretty good in Berkshire County these days. He does have this idea of moving to Cape Cod in his head. A dumb thing to say, I know, because where else would he have an idea but in his head?

Anyway, first things first.

This coalition of his, this Kahrmann Advocacy Coalition (named after Peter’s father, Sanford Kahrmann, not Peter), is gearing up to become a 501c3 with a board of directors and all that hoopla and that’s damn good news if you favor equal rights for folks and bad news if you don’t. I was in the room a day or two ago when Peter lit into someone who answered the phone at  New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office  (He’s New York’s version of Chris Christie, you ask me. A bully). Woman gave Peter her first name but refused to give her last name saying they didn’t provide last names and without missing a beat Peter said, “Thank you for confirming I’ve reached the governor’s office.”

He fires those rounds so quick you wonder if folks realize they’ve been hit.  Not a whole lot makes Peter mad but when he is mad you’d have to be in a coma or gone to the next world not to notice.

He’s writing more than ever before in his life now and that is making him feel good and if you’ve been reading this blog you know he just did a lead part in a play and that was damned good for him. More than I think he realizes at the moment. Anyway, with him at his writing and, as always, reading up a storm, he’s begun to think of moving to Cape Cod. He told me once the proper phrase is people are “on Cape,” not “on the Cape.” Said he learned this from a woman he fell in love with. You’re on Cape or off Cape. No need for the.

It gets confusing.  Last week I asked him, “Why Cape?” He said it was okay to say, “Why the Cape?” and I said him and these Cape people need to sort out once and for all what their where they stand on the word the because the rest of us are busy stumbling over syllables and are just fine with the word because we use it a lot. I think he might still be smiling over that one. Anyway, he said he’d been thinking about the Cape because he went there as a boy with his father and family and it’s a place his father loved and the last place his father felt happiness before he died. It’s a place he (Peter) fell in love and almost married the woman and, the underpinning of it all, he misses the ocean. I always forget that when he was a boy both sets of his grandparents lived by the ocean. One set lived right on the water, they even had boats. This was in Rumson, New Jersey. And his other grandparents lived in Ocean Grove, New Jersey, just blocks from the ocean. And then, later in the seventies, Peter lived right on the ocean in Seagate, Brooklyn.

The coming wave I was thinking about when I picked the title for this piece is the wave of change. Change is coming for Peter but what’s nice to see is how clear and peaceful he is about it. That’s a good thing. He disengages quickly from  fight pickers or folks who, sad to say, are addicted to conflict, usually without realizing it. He keeps the door open for some who don’t have an active presence in his life. Even that Cape Cod woman. I asked him why he doesn’t lock more doors, I asked him about this yesterday or that day before. I can’t remember, and it doesn’t matter. I liked what he explained so I asked him to write it down.  Asked him to write it down. So he did. Here it is:

Sometimes people disengage from you, sometimes you disengage from them. Sometimes there are some barbs inflicted.  Anyway, it would be unfair to them and to me if I judged someone or someone judged me on poor disengagement skills. I’ve certainly absorbed some clumsy and mean disengagement techniques but they don’t deserve so much influence over me that they rob me of remembering and valuing what was and very well may be wonderful and extraordinary in someone. The very reasons I loved them and still love and care about them, in some cases. No, I’m no one’s pin cushion and am not available to absorb barbs, and hold myself and others accountable. But if healthy ways of loving someone or helping someone in life make themselves known, I’ll act on them, even if the person never learns I had a hand in helping them. I’m fine with that.”

I like Peter. No, that’s not right. I love, Peter. A young man not long ago said Peter is one of the kindest and most loyal people he’s ever known. That’ true, except of course if you start denying people their rights. Then all that changes.

Anyway, let me publish this on the blog now. I can hear Peter and Charley coming back. Peter’s laughing. Charley must’ve said something. Yeah, I know; dogs can’t talk, but they sure can communicate. Just ask Charley.

Peace out!

S.G.

Going back on stage

I recently auditioned for the part of Will in a play called, A Bright New Boise by Samuel D. Hunter.  The play is being produced in May by Mill City Productions  and directed by Kari Daly in Berkshire County, Massachusetts. 

I got the part.

The very thought of auditioning, at first experienced as terrifying, turned out to be joyful – once I was underway. I’ll explain in a moment.

Mr. Hunter’s play won the 2011 Obie Award for playwriting.  The play is about a man (Will) who takes a job in a Hobby Lobby in part to distance himself from a tragedy linked to an evangelical church he’d attended as well as reconnect with a teenaged son who’d been placed for adoption years earlier. I’d say he’s got himself a full plate.

Over the past few years I’ve been doing the best I can to break down, or, better explained, break through what I call fear walls. Fear walls being the anxiety and panic producers resulting from the brain injury and PTSD I live with. I was held up and shot in the head in 1984.

The very idea of auditioning for a part late in the day frightened. While I believe I would’ve broken through the fear and auditioned without help, there is no doubt the words of my friend of 40 years, Michael Sulsona, helped immeasurably. In an email addressing my fears he said: “I think it’s important that you do it.  Not only for you but for others to see you up there on the stage.” 

As usual, his words helped immensely. Not only that, he’s seen me on stage and, it is well worth noting, he is an extraordinary playwright and screenwriter with something in the neighborhood of 23 plays – many produced on off-Broadway – and 15 screenplays under his belt. There are more reasons than friendship to trust his judgment.

When I got in the car to drive to the audition I was astonished to find myself feeling overjoyed, celebratory, in fact. It occurred to me that returning to the theater was, in its way, returning home. I was on stage as a dancer at age seven and dancing a lead role with the Joffrey Ballet when I was 13. Later I was involved with the Quena Acting Company, an offshoot of Joe Chaikin’s, The Open Theater. Years earlier I’d performed a one-man play I wrote called, The Bum and, over the years, I’ve done quite a few poetry readings and God knows how many speeches and seminars. Once a performer, always a performer, I suppose. 

By the time I reached the site of the audition I was utterly relaxed and at peace. The audition was a wonderful experience. I went home wanting more of the experience. The next day I called Michael and jokingly told him I’d been cast in the role of Cleopatra.

Now, the reason for writing about this:

Over the years it has helped me when others, through act or word, have reminded me that what feels impossible may not be impossible at all. In other words, the feeling doesn’t define any fact other than accurately reflecting the emotional experience you’re in at the moment.

As for navigating your way through the fear, here is a phrase that helps me. It’s okay to be afraid, don’t let it scare you.