Friday, November 30, 2007

Reversal of Fortune

Fun With Two Lorenzos
Originally uploaded by lorenzodom

Reversal of Fortune

Funny how easy it is to feel like you’re on top of the world one day, and then feel like you’re at the bottom of the barrel the very next.

And vice-versa.

Last night, I experienced just such a change of fortune, as my flatmates, Dr. Lorenzo and Jane hosted a belated birthday dinner party for me. In attendance were Caroline, Ezra, Robert and Stephanie.

Catered by L&J, we all sat down to a sumptuous Mexican meal of tacos: corn tortillas stuffed with superbly sautéed chicken, peppers and onions; freshly cut cilantro, tomatoes and limes; jalepeños, guacamole, pineapple salsa and lots of cheese (because as Enzo, my oldest son, loves to say “Papa, Mexicans love cheese! They like to put cheese on cheese.”).

Needless to say, the libations overflowed and laughter careened throughout the evening, eventually carrying us all out and onto Havana Central at The West End, where we danced the night away, until midnight, when age became of us and we decided to let the college kids continue on with the revelry.

So, once again, I was reminded of how fortunate I am to have such great friends. Once again, my companions helped me see the light at the end of the tunnel. And once again, I could rightly smile again.

Thank you one and all for making 40 years extraordinarily meaningful.


"Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.">

Mary Schmich

Thursday, November 29, 2007

I Need Practice

I Need Practice
Originally uploaded by lorenzodom

November 29, 2007, New York City, NY:

I Need Practice

I had to look in the mirror to practice my smile this morning.

Lately, it just hasn’t come naturally.

Jane attributes it to the weather, the change of seasons, waking in the obliquity of the ecliptic.

Wallowing, I’d like to think it’s more; I’d like to believe I can blame it on the job, the life changes, the uncertainty and the lingering literary disappointment that just won’t go away.

Yet, such sorrow doesn’t make sense in light of all that I’m blessed with.

I know that, I know this.

Yet, even after reminding myself of my distinct fortune, I find myself struggling to smile.

The lips turn, but my solemn eyes belie otherwise.

There’s no teeth showing either. When I’m truly happy pupils sparkle and whites shine.

Besides, yesterday was an unusually long and arduous day for me—I survived one berating after another.

However, I remain confident that I’ll get over it. It’s just another bump in the road, I’m sure of it.

“Some people greet the morning with a smile, but it's more natural to protest its presence with sleepy sulkiness. "Who asked you to come again?" we feel like saying to it, as if it were a most unwelcome guest.”

Brendan Francis

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Waiting to Die

Waiting to Die
Originally uploaded by lorenzodom

Warning: In this piece I review three movies from 1990, 2000 and 2002, and immediately reveal how they unfold. In other words, if you care to be surprised, don’t read on.

November 27, 2007, New York City, NY:

Waiting to Die

(Get Out of Line, Damnit!)

Over the last three days I happened to watch three movies about three guys who were waiting to die.

Or, at least, that’s how I am melodramatically interpreting what I saw, if only to spotlight the fatalism of this old man and to make this piece mildly more interesting.

It is no coincidence that all the protagonists of these films were themselves desperately trying to make life itself interesting.

All of them, ultimately, failed.

Actually, one of them failed, but because it was a typical American movie, suddenly things changed, so that we get a typical Hollywood “happy ending.” The other two, were French films. Hence, everyone dies.

The films I watched included Joe Versus The Volcano, Une Affair de Goût (A Matter of Taste), and L’Homme du Train (The Man on the Train).

Joe Versus The Volcano was essentially about a man whose soul was dying because he was stuck at a dead-end corporate job, and thus, felt he never really got to experience life. That is, until he is suddenly given a chance to go on one last journey before he must take a leap into his ultimate destiny (i.e. sacrifice his life for the good of the tribe (i.e. he is a lifelong and faithful Company employee) by jumping into an active volcano).

Une Affair de Gout was a pseudo gay psycho thriller about an eccentric tycoon who hires another man to be his “food taster.”

In reality, the crazy magnate is blasé with his life and thus plays a game where he gets his taster to mimic him in every way possible—to have the same tastes, preferences, and proclivities for everything the sun.

In the end, the taster is driven mad and ultimately murders his boss-cum pseudo soul-mate.

And The Man on the Train happened to also be another pseudo gay psycho thriller (alas, French films are never really thrilling) about two men coming from opposite ends of the track of life, who coincidentally meet and little-by-little find that after long lives of violent crime and quiet and uneventful erudition, they yearn to live like the other man.

In the end, they both die and exchange lives, but only in the afterlife.

So, what does it all mean? (I ask myself, as I write while riding the commuter bus to my corporate job of 8 years, as of three days from now…)

(long drawn out sigh)

Well, I’ll tell you what it means—it means that if you don’t make an extra effort to make this journey (i.e. life) extraordinary, if you don’t ever muster the courage to fulfill your dreams, follow your bliss, be what you really want to be, then, than, ultimately, just like most others, you’re just waiting to die (esp. after you turn 40).

So, get out of line damnit!

Don’t wait until those desperate hours to make a last-minute effort to redeem your life and make it worthy of life’s struggle.

Here’s a few words to inspire you: 25 Lessons

Friday, November 23, 2007

Happy Birthday Old Man!

Happy Birthday Old Man!
Originally uploaded by lorenzodom

November 22, 1967, San Jose, CA - November 22, 2007, New York City, NY:

In the photo above, my flatmate, Dr. Lorenzo, gives a thumbs-up! to our first evening out together as flatmates. He is one of the two Lorenzo's that make up our household, me being the other one of course. The lovely and fun-loving Jane, is our third flatmate.

It is easy to tell the difference between the good doctor and I, when one realizes that he looks a lot like the football (soccer) player David Beckham...or at least, that's what his mother recently told him...Mothers say the darndest things don't they?

Man, where would we be without the unconditional and blind love of our mothers? I can't imagine, especially since we truly owe our lives to them.

Coincidentally, it was on this day, some 40 years ago, that I was brought into this wonderful life by my mother. And being that today happens to also be Thanksgiving this year I want to convey a few words of gratitude to one of the women that I love most in the mama.

I wrote the following piece some years ago, but I beleive it bears repeating in honor of this special and momentous occassion. Thanks for everything Mom. Even though we are a country apart, and duty and olbigation often keep me from calling you more often, feel reaasured that I love you dearly and think of you often.

Your Mijo on The Other Coast,

For My Mother

For my mother than and there, teaching truth subsequent years would sully, mar, overturn; her tenets and her rules and her love and her unrelenting piety; bearing her cares and woes and concerns before the Guiding Force that eventually, I would come to disavow.

For how my mother's fortitude always reigned supreme, the sacrificing of everything: trust, hope, dreams, joy, pleasure, greed—the toil taking another day away, with each meal alone being a sacrament of its own: the shopping, the chopping, the stewing, the stirring, the serving, the feeding, the cleaning, the conceding to barely noshing a meal of her own while standing smiling over the stove.

For the countless days of comfort; shameless embraces, kisses and administration of drugs and tea and spoons of honey with lemon-brandy, patient prayers at my bed, the wonderful Seuss stories she read, the surrender of self and never a complaint, its no wonder I know my mother is a saint.

For the devoted dark years she sat waiting, anticipating a call, eventually resigning to it all, preparing for the fall of her faith—the matrimony of the wife to HIS life as sanctioned by heaven, for the embarrassing task of taking him from Alberto's bar where he would inevitably be. For all the lonely nights women endure, while their men sin and cruelly enact their Manifest Destiny.

For all the years we went to school and she held our hands, let us cry, could not deny us the prolonged goodbye, showed us how to catch the bus, packed lunch everyday for all three of us, always made sure we had breakfast too, ensured that no matter how smart we proved and bullies pushed we would never be their fool, and she made sure the homework was done, helping us with everything from one plus one, to "Joe ran with Sam to school."

For the eerie evenings she would sit up with me as a somnolently three pointing to shadows at window sills, to scarier nights when at midnight I'd still not returned, as I had turned from precocious kid to boy-becoming-man who was learning to go out into the land to roam away from the nest, the mothership, the comfort zone of home.

For the skimping with which she had to acquire us clothes, second-hand customer with first-grader, toddler and infant in tow; the pittance of penance she was forced to pray for the doubts and the sentence of a marital mistake; the shy look she might take to the mirror with the ravaging that giving birth left in its wake; a hidden tear shed in fear of what nurturing, the mothering, the matrimonial suffering would ruthlessly pillage and the years of youth it would take.

For the guiding light, the well of joy, the gifts of practical wisdom and undaunted mirth; for the reassurance of our worth with hugs and words, and the constant warmth of mother earth; for the celestial meals that after twenty years I would finally learn to appreciate, and for her ardent belief, despite the grief of my deepest doubts, that St. Peter will be awaiting me at Heaven's Gate.

For the lack of griping when at 6 AM she was typing helping me turn in my essay on time, for the prime example of benevolence, altruistic energy's expense, and the selfless giving sublime; for the magic act of making more of less, and for hiding all her humanness that might be misconstrued as sin or crime.

And by this poor recounting, I am accounting for the pangs of childhood, the bliss of my coming-of-age, and all the strife quietly endured by my blessed mother, the sage. But this is much more than an acknowledgement of Mom alone, for now that I have grown to raise two angels of my own, I must let it be known that their mother, who gave them life, is my Mama cloned, and I could not be more fortunate to have her for my love, my wife and the matron of our home.

Uh, it may seem that the last stanza is a bit out of date, considering things have changed a bit over the last couple of years..., but I will say nonetheless and allthemore, that my sincere appreciation remains intact. Just because it didn't work out between us as partners, it doesn't mean that we still can't and don't try in earnest to act in unison as parents.

The poem above was originally inspired by For My People by Margaret Walker and is part of a collection of 222 poems I wrote some years ago entitled A Letter To A Muse: Part 1 and Part 2.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Bored Games

"I've Got A Monopoly!"
Originally uploaded by lorenzodom

“Every man I meet is my superior in some way. In that, I learn of him.“
—Ralph Waldo Emerson—

I don’t like board games, or “bored games” as I like to spell them.

I just don’t. Never really have, never really will.

Give me a deck of cards, and I’ll play poker with you for hours on end. But ask me to play Risk or Clue or Monopoly, and well, I’d just have to pass.

However, I learned to like them in a different way today, when I sat and watched my two boys play Monopoly with my mother, their grandmother, for a couple of hours this morning.

I was intrigued, impressed and inspired by their genuine enthusiasm for the game. Watching the boys smile and get excited whenever they passed Go, or better yet, whenever one of their opponents had to pay them, made me realize how fun the game can actually be, if you know how to play it right.

The first cardinal rule of play being: you must play for fun, you cannot take it at all too seriously, in other words, you must play when you play, not work. It’s not about whether you win or lose, its about how you play the game, at least…until you lose, then it’s all about winning.

Nicky, the six-year-old, was the best sport of them all, because whereas Mom and Enzo, his older and rather intellectually astute brother, were buying property left and right, he decidedly to wait and wait and wait before moving to trump over his opponents by belatedly jumping into the real estate mogul game, and somehow pulling out in front within a matter of an hour.

The entire time he was joking and having everyone pay him with the smallest denominations possible, because he felt that having ten dollar bills was far better than simply having one ten dollar bill. In turn, this frustrated his opponents, as it always took them ten times as long to count the money.

As we get older, we learn efficiency—e.g. paying a $40 rent with four ten dollar bills is better than paying with 20 one dollar and 4 five dollar bills; and i.e. buying property at the first opportunity possible, is the best strategy.

Oh, but apparently not for Nicky—because he just focused on having fun, and regardless of whether or not he won, I found that somehow he was slated to come out on top, if only, because he had a genuinely good time playing.

And despite a slightly more earnest demeanor, Enzo also exhibited great exuberance for the game. In fact, and I am somewhat embarrassed to admit this, he connected the mental dots for me with one such display of excitement.

He had just bought the third hotel to complete ownership of all purple-colored properties, when he suddenly sprang to his feet and began dancing, simultaneously singing, “I’ve got a monopoly! I’ve got a monopoly!”

It was only there and then that I truly made the connection between the name of the game and the ultimate objective. Until now, after almost 40 years, the primary means of trumping your opponents and the 8-letter word hadn’t crossed in my mind. Duh.

Nonetheless and allthemore, observing this dynamic made me happy, and moved me to realize that perhaps the reason board games have always bored me was that I played them with the wrong attitude, for I’ve long found them frivolous, a matter of time that could be better spent in earnest reading or writing or doing something that endowed me with greater knowledge or insight. Not realizing that sometimes there is no greater insight or knowledge than knowing what it is that makes your kids smile, excited, and ultimately, happy.

Moreover, as I will be celebrating my 40th birthday in a few days, I am wholly appreciative of these gifts that my children have given me. For there is no greater gift than when someone teaches you something, especially when that someone is your child.

To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson—


Originally posted as part of the lost man chronicles, a long-long time ago.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

people are like puzzles

The Unknown
Originally uploaded by lorenzodom

Relationships between people are like puzzles which originally arrive disassembled.

Some of us enjoy the frenetic nature of the disarray for some time before we play with the idea of making an effort to reassemble.

Most, frenetically try to piece together a person until they are no longer a wonder, a mystery to ponder. And, as a result of dispelling the enigma, they also engender the inevitable ennui.

Alas, there are those rare few of we who consciously make no attempt at all to put together a whole that will eventually resemble anything or anyone all too familiar. These are those who have come to realize the futility of the exercise, for we understand that the integral Catch-22 is that participating is worth more than the prize, and that by solving the riddle we merely turn it into a well-known joke.

Therefore, in the wake of paradise lost and earthly wisdom gained, these lucky folks seek to entertain and understand the whole piece-by-piece, and they have made peace with both themselves and the world, so that they have accepted the terms of a better life which suggests that they step back to see the panorama of a person or their own lives only at the juncture when and where they are too tired and are ultimately resigned to retiring into the inevitable, yet inexplicable, end.

"There’s a line in The Philadelphia Story – “The time to make up your mind about people is never,” It’s a line that I’ve always loved. I don’t want to see a thesis on a character. I don’t want to see an opinion. I want to see the mystery of a person. Some days you might think this; some days you might think that. But there are no conclusions." – Mike Nichols –

Originally posted as part of the lost man chronicles, a long-long time ago.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I am beginning...

I am beginning...
Originally uploaded by lorenzodom

A few days ago my estranged wife handed me a photo of me and hizoner, the honorable David Dinkins, former mayor of New York City, which she had come across while sorting through papers.

It was taken 15 years ago when we were in grad school together at Columbia, immediately after I had interviewed him on stage as part of an event that I had organized for my colleagues. I didn’t give the picture much of a second thought, putting it aside, inside my current read, The Divorce Process: Empowerment Through Knowledge, to use as a book marker.

At least, I didn’t think twice about it until Dom started reading the book that I had left on the couch, and upon finding the photo again, asked, “Is he dead yet?” or maybe she asked, “Is he still alive?” I’m not really sure, to be honest, how she asked exactly, but I do know that she essentially insinuated either way that she thought he wasn’t around anymore.

I think he still is, I answered.

Subsequently, this prompted me to ponder my own existence. As I am turning 40 in about 10 days, on Thanksgiving. Contemplating her question, I was somewhat shocked into consciousness about my own age, something that I am not usually all-too self-conscious about.

However, as I took a look at the photo again, it suddenly occurred to me that this was me 15 years ago, the thought resounding within me, echoing and piquing me to assess how time has exacted its toll upon me.

I suppose I’ve survived its wrath fairly well—I still have all my teeth, I haven’t started using a cane, and I’m still riled by desire practically every day.

However, I have gained some weight, keeping it off is an ongoing endeavor, the application of which fluctuates with the tide of life’s demands.

I don’t run as much as I used to, but I think that is primarily because I’ve picked up a number of vices over the last 15 years.

And occasionally I have problems that I have to deal with that slow me down and get me bickering more than I care to admit—heel spurs, back aches, asthma.

Nonetheless and allthemore, I am still alive, and perhaps, a bit wiser than I was 15 years ago.

I am beginning to understand the differences between the thrashing exuberance of youth and the calmer take on life that comes with age and experience.

I am beginning to see the follies of maturity as well, in turn embracing and being inspired by the courage and curiosity of my children.

I am beginning to envision the end and in turn thinking about how I should begin preparing for it—Do I want to fall or roll downward? And if I choose the latter, am I willing to pull back on the reins of the frantic fears of my middle age?

I am beginning to realize what matters most to me is what has long mattered most to me: it is immaterial and will not be considered an asset when it comes time to file for divorce.

I am beginning to learn that I shouldn’t work so hard at those things that will prove irrelevant in the end and to work smarter at those endeavors that will.

I am beginning to know how to let go, especially as things and plans and people unexpectedly perish and no longer take part in our lives.

I am beginning to face adversity with a smile and a grin, more often than with a furrowed brow, tightened fists and chagrin—for life is only as hard as you want it to be.

I am beginning to feel calm among the storms, each one becoming slightly easier to weather, knowing I’ve been through it all before.

I am beginning to understand others more and more; thus, increasingly wanting to know less and less—subsequently, solitude and I are becoming best of friends.

And, I find, that truly, I am beginning to enjoy my life more than ever before.


Oh, and by the way, I checked: David Dinkins still lives. He turned twice my age (i.e. 80) this last July.

Thank you Triborough for sharing the photo above of Bill McCreary, David Dinkins, and John Roland taken in March of this year.

He reports that according to the Gothamist, Dinkins just had his appendix removed a few weeks ago.

Guess I’m doomed, considering I had mine removed long before him, at the age of 32, on Valentine’s Day 1999.


Forthcoming! 25 Lessons: The Art of Living, to be published by Cyan Books in February 2008.

Until then, I’m happy to share with you the original 25 musings.

Monday, November 12, 2007

All Aboard!

6 AM
Originally uploaded by lorenzodom

All Aboard!

Sometimes I wish I were a turtle,
so I could retreat at will,
hide within my sound-proof shell,
where I might dwell until the storm passes over.

This way I might not irk anyone
and anyone might not irk me.
There would be no disappointments,
no waiting around, no misgivings, no frowns,
and no misunderstandings about where we stood.

That’s why it’s often best to stand alone;
to go off on your own and do exactly as you please,
before it’s too late.

Because the more they give, the more they expect.
Than one thing leads to another and, eventually,
you can’t stop the train from running away,
running down that line, the one they’re all inclined
to run along—the relationship express.

Toot! Toot! All aboard!

Then you’re really in trouble.
Because it is so much harder to jump off when
the train’s moving full speed ahead.
That’s why I rather be a turtle—
‘cause they move a whole lot slower.

Oh, well.
Although I may not have a shell,
I can still retreat at will.

So, I’ve got that going for me…

I didn’t do it…

I didn’t do it…
Originally uploaded by lorenzodom


I didn’t do it…

Whatever it was, I just didn’t do it.

I’m wholly innocent.

In fact, I practically didn’t do anything whatsoever this weekend.

My mother came in for a brief visit on Friday afternoon, and subsequently, two days of utter sloth followed thereafter.

No work, no productivity, no creativity, no projection of my self into the ether—nothing.

For the most part, I simply lied in bed. In turn, I redefined what apathy means to me.

I wasn’t sick or depressed or really all-too-tired. I simply gave into the moment and decided that doing nothing was worth my while.

Almost 48 hours passed unnoticed, 2880 minutes unmarked by any so-called meaningfulness, 172,800 seconds of my life gone by.

I awoke from my stupor when I realized I had to go to work this morning.

That was an eye-opener.

Damn you work!

Friday, November 9, 2007

I Didn't

I Didn't
Originally uploaded by lorenzodom

Disclaimer, warning, whatever you care to call it:
The following piece of verse mentions the word “sex,” speaks to the concept of sex, alludes to it even, but doesn’t actually delve into it. Because, it just doesn’t.

November 9, 2007, New York City:

I Didn’t

I woke up with thoughts of not having sex with you.

I thought, “I know she won’t, so I simply won’t think about it.”
So, I didn’t have thoughts of having sex with you.
I just didn’t.

And I didn’t touch myself either, ‘cause no one ever does.
So, it behooves me not to mention I do, because I didn’t,
or rather, I don’t, just like everyone else.

And you know what?
I didn’t even fantasize about seducing you;
about making you laugh and feel extraordinarily comfortable with me,
about feeling at ease and trusting, and subsequently, slowly
letting your guard down.

No, I simply didn’t even think about it.

I didn’t wonder “What if?” nor did I wander down that road
you know, the one where after a savory and spicy hot meal on a cold night,
and a few good mixed drinks and some wine,
we sit down on the couch, we smoke a little, while the lights are down low,
some Cuban Son plays softly in the distance (uh, the other room)
and we talk and talk and talk, and we laugh and laugh and laugh,
and despite the allure of the moment,
and the budding feeling of desire we feel buzzing within, dancing upon our skin,
we don't—
we don't act,
we don't feel compelled
or ready to attack, or propelled
to jump into the known-unknown,
pushed and piqued and promoted
by this devil called lust.

No, we simply don’t do that, because
because I simply didn’t wander down that road.

And remember, I didn’t touch myself either,
Really, I didn’t.

Come on now!
I didn’t!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Announcing...The Art of Living

Announcing...The Art of Living
Originally uploaded by lorenzodom

It Had to Happen

Sooner or later, it had to happen.

Sooner or later I had to start a “blog.”

Albeit, I’ve been so-called blogging now for about 6 years now, blogging before blogging was blogging—beginning with the lost man chronicles and my epic collection of verse—A Letter to A Muse and Parities—and; on through the creation of 100 New York Stories (High); into my photo blog; careening through the 25 Lessons Series: 25 Lessons I’ve Learned, 25 More Lessons, and 25 Points of Creativity—I’ve finally come hip to the standard medium by which hipsters blog.

In other words, I’m announcing the creation of—The Art of Living—a virtual place, a very personal space, where I will post all my musings, verse, prose and other random thoughts in an organized, chronological manner. No more labyrinthine traversing through my posts that I have long been archiving in Literary Central!.

So, please, pay me and my thoughts and words a visit at—The Art of Living!

Love, Respect and Happiness,

p.s. The process of archiving all my posts from the last two years may take a couple of weeks, so please visit often to view both new-old and new-new posts.