That Time of the Month? / ¿Esa Época del Mes?

La versión español está después de la versión ingles.

OUR FRIEND PEDRO turned 40 this year. He’s got a catastrophic imagination similar to San Geraldo’s. About two years ago, he was having lower back pain (OK, OK, it turned out to be a herniated disk so exCUSE me). However, while we were all at a restaurant, he announced that the pain was worse than the pain of childbirth. Kathleen and their 1-1/2-year-old son were sitting right there! I’ll bet Kathleen was thinking, “You want to feel the pain of childbirth!”

Pedro is currently suffering with neck pain that turned out to be more herniated disks. No more headstands when he wins at cards — not that that happens very often anyway. He explained to us — to San Geraldo and me — to the ancients — to the two friends old enough to be his parents — that now that he’s 40, his risk factors have seriously increased. “Risk factors?” I said in my best New York street accent, “I’ll show you risk factors!”

I’m fine. So relieved that my recent health concern has come to nothing. But, instead of being happy and doing a jig (THAT would be a picture), I’ve been having mentally challenging moments throughout the day and I wake up in the morning (my worst time) not necessarily thrilled to be alive. If I could play the piano, it would be a dirge. I think it’s just the crash after the weeks of stress. Maybe it’s hormones. Do men possibly go through womenopause? Maybe it’s that time of the month? Even if those were possible, I’m a bit old for either.

I continue to have wonderful moments with San Geraldo and some incredible friends. The Kid Brother continues to drive me crazy but I will always love him and will see him again in a few months. But sometimes, as we all know, it’s just not easy. (And I rarely was.)

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NUESTRO AMIGO PEDRO cumplió 40 años este año. Tiene una imaginación catastrófica similar a la de San Geraldo. Hace unos dos años, tenía dolor en la parte baja de la espalda (OK, OK, resultó ser una hernia de disco, por lo tanto, ¡Perdóneme!). Sin embargo, mientras estábamos todos en un restaurante, anunció que el dolor era peor que el dolor del parto. ¡Kathleen y su hijo de 1-1 / 2 años estaban sentados allí! Apuesto a que Kathleen estaba pensando: “¿¡¿Quieres sentir el dolor del parto!”

Pedro está sufriendo actualmente con dolor de cuello que resultó ser más discos herniados. No más paros de cabeza cuando gana en las cartas — no es que eso suceda muy a menudo de todos modos. Nos explicó — a San Geraldo y a mí — a los antiguos — los dos amigos que tenían edad suficiente para ser sus padres — que ahora que tiene 40 años, sus factores de riesgo han aumentado considerablemente.

“¿Factores de riesgo?”, dije con mi mejor acento callejero de Nueva York, “¡Te mostraré los factores de riesgo!”

Estoy bien. Tan aliviado de que mi reciente preocupación por la salud no haya llegado a nada. Pero, en lugar de ser feliz, he estado teniendo momentos mentalmente difíciles a lo largo del día y me despierto por la mañana (siempre mi peor tiempo) no necesariamente emocionado de estar vivo. Si pudiera tocar el piano, sería un asco. Creo que es sólo el choque después de semanas de estrés. Tal vez sean hormonas. ¿Es posible que los hombres pasen por la menopausia? Tal vez sea esa época del mes? Incluso si eso fuera posible, soy un poco viejo para cualquiera.

Sigo teniendo momentos maravillosos con San Geraldo y algunos amigos increíbles. El Hermanito sigue volviéndome loco, pero siempre lo amaré y lo veré de nuevo en unos pocos meses. Pero a veces, como todos entendemos, no es fácil. (Y rara vez lo era yo.)

What do you suppose a psychiatrist would have to say? (I don’t think I want to know.)
¿Qué suponías que tendría que decir un psiquiatra? (No creo que quiera saber).

Drawing on Memories

FEELING LOST AND LONELY IN AN ELEGANT APARTMENT.
SELF-PORTRAIT, AVENZA, CARRARA, ITALY, 1977.

I just pulled out an old sketchbook and discovered some drawings that brought back memories.  The memories that come back when I look at my old drawings are often more vivid than those that are awakened by looking at old photographs.  I think it’s the fact that I was completely engaged in the action at the time and spent more than a moment snapping a photo or awkwardly posing for posterity.

10 SEPT BECAME 11 SEPT 1980 WHILE I WAITED IN MY ’78 MAZDA GLC TO GIVE
A “FRIEND” A LIFT BACK TO BOSTON AFTER A BUSINESS RECEPTION IN CAMBRIDGE.
HIS NAME WAS STEVEN AND HE WAS MORE THAN AN HOUR LATE.

When I was 25, I landed a job in Medical Illustration at Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York.  I drew kidneys and muscle tissue.  I traced cross-sections of cadavers that had been cast in polyurethane.  I created art and typography for slides that were used by the medical school.  It was fun work and was what began my career in publications and communications.  At the time, I never went anywhere without a sketch book.  I would sketch unselfconsciously, and had been doing so for years. I doodled my way around Italy in the ’70s and gave away almost all the sketches as “thank you” gifts for the hospitality I received there.  I wish I had had a scanner!

BANANAS, MAY 1980, TOP FLOOR, 15 CHARLES STREET, BOSTON.

SEDUCTIVE BANANAS.

While working at Downstate, I drove up to Boston, just 4-1/2 hours away for a weekend visit with an old college friend, Mary.  I fell in love with Boston and immediately decided I had to move there.  I left  Downstate four months later after only 1-1/2 years for a job as a typesetter and graphic artist in a small, quirky (aka, cripplingly dysfunctional) studio in Cambridge, ironically named “Together Graphics.” The job in Cambridge paid a lot better, but was not as interesting nor did it offer the same opportunities for professional development and personal growth as the job in Brooklyn.  But it did get me to Boston, which is where I met Jerry a little over a year later.

SNACKING AS I SKETCHED, ENABLING NEW POSES.

HOURS OF SKETCHING.  I CONSUMED MY RECOMMENDED DAILY ALLOWANCE OF POTASSIUM.

For my first month in Boston, while I looked for my own place, I stayed in a basement apartment on Gray Street in the South End with Brian, a friend I met through Mary.  He was to become my best friend over the years and was my first good gay friend.  I was still living the life of a straight person, thinking I could ignore who I really was and wanted to be.  As a good friend (and someone with “gaydar”), Brian clearly knew the truth, but he never let on and he let me come to terms at my own pace. I spent a month on his couch and many afternoons hanging out at Mary’s apartment with my sketchbook, sketching the room, the house plants, and, as shown here, bananas that happened to be left on the coffee table. Jerry and I had already moved twice by the time Brian and Mary decided to move together to Maui.  I lost touch with Mary, who met someone in Maui, married, and was living in Missouri the last I heard.  After a few years, Brian (who was a serial monogamist) had also met someone.  They moved to San Diego and stayed together about a year.  Brian remained in San Diego.  So, I was elated when Jerry and I had the opportunity in late 1992 to move to San Diego, as well.  But, just before we left Connecticut for San Diego, Brian went back to his parents’ home in Massachusetts, where he died at the age of 37 of complications from AIDS.

DARTMOUTH “T” STATION, 1981.  BACK FROM ENGLAND TWO WEEKS AFTER MY SISTER DIED.
ON MY WAY TO A PARTY WITH STEVEN AFTER DISCOVERING MY CAR HAD BEEN STOLEN.

I think it’s time to start sketching again.  It’s very therapeutic and I like the depth of the memories.