Friday, December 25, 2009

Cathedral of Light (for Amanda Palmer)

I woke in a cathedral of light.

Shards of glass surrounded me. It took me a moment to realize they were held together with tar and love and moxie and were not about to crash down around me. As I blinked awake, I computed that they were fashioned into a geodesic dome. Bucky would be proud. I saw blue blue sky and the wave of a nude branch on the horizon. There was no indication where I was, other than high up.

I could have been in a gun turret of a space ship about to land, but no laser was in sight and I didn't think the place was moving, though I personally was spinning a bit. As I measured the dryness of my tongue I surmised that drinking had transpired the night before.

But where?

But it still wasn't clear at all where I was.

Then I remembered, I was on the top floor of a building. The cold slipped through the hundred panes and I felt the reverberations of someone yelling out "Let's have an orgy!" the night before.

I was certainly alone in this geodesic cloud bed, but I think there had been another bed earlier in the evening. It was sometime after that child yelled out "Let's have an orgy!"

It was a fine idea, but no one knew how to go about it really. There was a bit of disrobing and a bit of hooting and hollering. But how does one actually start up an orgy? Can one call it out? Folks were game, but we were no Romans. We didn't know how to begin. I was an elder there, 5 to 10 years older than some, though I knew no one. I was pushing 30, so was lucky they even let me come into their brick palace littered with the detritus of Victorian dreams and garbage heaps. And though I had been to burning man twice, I didn't do any drugs or have any sex while there, much less start or even participate in an orgy (even though I secretly hoped to). So I was little help.

And anyway, there was one demonic lass I had my eye on. The larger crowd was a motley bunch of Bostonian bohemians. That's right! I was in Boston. Where exactly to this day, I still can't tell you, (lord knows how I got home) but I remember Amanda had led me back to this 4-story arts commune after we left Pan 9, the arts collective where we both performed at and where we'd just met.

Amanda. Right. She still had eyebrows then. And a wicked glint in her eye. She'd accompanied herself on the piano, clanging away as she screeched and warbled old Weill tunes auf Deutsch. Not that she didn't have a good voice, but she let herself be beastly - a remarkable act of confidence for any woman of any era. Somehow her rawness made it authentic instead of pretentious. She steeped herself in the culture and she channeled the muse of Weill and frankly kicked Lotte Lenya's ass in the music department.

Hours later, after the confusion of the orgy proclamation subsided, Amanda took me by the hand and led me to her room. After a brief tussle on her bed, it became clear we had greater admiration than attraction for one another and she most pleasantly kicked me out of her disaster lair.

So I climbed heavenward and drank 'til the children went home or passed out in their cubbies downstairs.

And I pulled up a blanket and centered myself beneath the dome, peering at the chilly stars, but never imagining I'd wake to the blaze of light that made this Jew smile a smile I think only a Christian boy on Christmas Day knows otherwise.

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

How to End a Relationship in 20 Simple Steps

In honor of the 1st anniversary of the event. Here's a story my most irresponsible behavior last year.



How to End a Relationship in 20 Simple Steps
by David Rodwin

I lost the dog.

This is not a euphemism.

I lost the fucking dog! I lost HER dog. The dog I’m dog sitting. As in, I have only one real responsibility in my life right now and I fucked it up royally.

If she finds out, this is over. I’m such an idiot. I mean how do you lose a fucking dog?

Instructions on How to Lose a Fucking Dog:
1) Take the dog on a vigorous morning 30 minute run. Stop every time the pooch wants to pee. Then pick up his poop not once, but twice. (Is that normal?) Ask yourself why you agreed to take care of a dog in Long Beach for 5 days for a woman you started dating just 5 weeks ago.
2) Return home. Shower. After months of procrastination, on the last day possible, complete your UCLA business school application because you’ve given up on ever finding success as a writer in Hollywood. Hit send.
3) Put the laundry in the washer, because you didn’t bring enough underwear down to Long Beach. Ask yourself again what you’re doing living out of a suitcase in your new girlfriend’s place in Long Beach while she’s at a spa in the Berkshires.
4) Realize you’re running late if you’re going to take the hound to the park and still make it on time for your meeting in Venice concerning you co-writing the ‘book‘ for a Pat Benatar “jukebox” musical - the very idea of which makes you want to kick every Broadway patron who went to see “Mama Mia” in the balls.
5) Throw the leash on the pooch and dash out to the dog park, being careful to lock the front door which is actually a heavy sliding door that opens into the kitchen in this home which is an old cottage behind a main house.
6) Try to wear out your dog as much as possible at the park because you’re gonna be gone for 5-6 hours and you feel like that might be too long, but you’re not sure since you’ve never had a dog, and frankly don’t even like dogs. At all.
7) Attempt to make the dog stop mounting the other dogs in the park by shouting his name, MEMPHIS!, mostly in vain.
8) Feel grateful, but also useless because your girlfriend’s regular dog walker happens to be there and she’s able to call the dog’s name and get him to stop mounting the other dogs better than you.
9) Realize you’re WAY late if you’re gonna get to Venice on time. Rush home.
10) Feel like a man because you told the dog to sit in order to take off his leash and he sat.
11) Take of the dog’s leash and choke collar. (He is an adult pit/lab mix after all. And she’s only had this rescue dog 6 weeks. So he’s as new to this place as you are.)
12) Give the dog fresh water.
13) Entice the dog to eat the untouched breakfast you put in his bowl after the morning run by pretending you don’t want him to eat yet, and then giving him an energetic “OK!”
14) See the dog obediently going to the dish and start lapping up water and think, “I’m getting the hang of this dog thing.”
15) Throw your laptop into your bag.
16) Realize you should put the laundry into the dryer before you take off.
17) Go to the garage to put it in.
18) Hear a jingling in the kitchen.
19) Come into the kitchen to see that you’ve left the front wide door open when you came in from the dog park and the pooch is nowhere to be seen.
20) Freak the fuck out.

I ran outside as abject horror coursed through my veins. I’d lost her fucking dog.

I start yelling his name, “Memphis!”

My girlfriend, J., knows I don’t like dogs and she’s gonna think I did it on purpose. Maybe I actually did it subconsciously because the dog is an incredible impediment to our relationship. Let’s just say he takes to me like a fellow suitor and any time we’re in bed he barks, yelps, whines and sometimes even hops up on the bed. The result is that mid-coitus, J, stops what we’re doing points at him, and in the sternest voice possible yells “Stop it. Stop it. Stop it.” And let me tell you, it hard not to take those instructions as well - and that becomes a problem. And yet she wouldn't let me shut the door for our lovemaking. She was concerned it might be psychologically traumatizing, that Memphis would associate our intimacy with being excluded - which apparently is the worst punishment you can give to a dog.

I’ve never dated a woman with a dog. My roommate has confirmed that in his experience, the dog will always win out over me. And she loves this dog like nothing she’s ever loved before. She can never stay overnight at my place because she has to come home to walk the dog. She’s tethered to her “Little Man”, so I might as well take up residence in Long Beach if I’m gonna get serious with her. A friend told me how years ago he waged an all out 6-month war against a girlfriend’s dog and won. She finally realized it was him or the dog. She chose him. Then she cheated on him.

“Memphis!”

This relationship is over. There will be no forgiveness when she finds out.

“MEMPHIS!!”

I hear a jingling. It’s coming from a neighbor’s yard - the loser who blasts 3rd rate R&B every afternoon. I leap up to peek over the fence and I see Memphis. Thank God.

But how did he get in there? I race into the house thinking maybe I can get there quicker by going out the side porch entrance (another sliding door). From there, I bolt through the main house’s back yard, through a gate and into the front yard. I dash one house over and see a gate blocking the path to the house’s back yard.

“Memphis! Memphis!”

He’s not coming. It’s 2PM. The owner’s probably not at home. Should I knock? What if Memphis gets out the way he got in and runs into the street? I don’t have time.

I open the unlocked gate and race to the backyard calling his name. The place looks like it’s been abandoned. It’s littered like a white trash yard in backwater West Virginia. And Memphis is nowhere to be found. But the owner of the house is.

He’s not happy. He comes out his side door with velocity and I realize this was a bad idea. And if the state of his yard is any indication of his state of mind, I need to talk fast if I’m gonna get out of there.

“I’m so sorry. I lost my dog and saw him in the backyard and wanted to grab him before he did anything.”

“Yeah. Your dog was in my backyard.” He said accusingly. “Then he ran into the street.”

Oh, fuck. We’re 50 yards from a major a major intersection featuring 6 lanes of death inducing traffic. I race toward the gate. I must escape.

“I am so, so sorry.”

He doesn’t have a gun does he? I hear people in Long Beach have guns. Snoop Dogg lives here. Well, maybe not in this part of the LBC. I don’t know. Where the fuck AM I?

I’m on the sidewalk now. And there’s Memphis. The Gods are being kind today.

I call his name and he walks further away from me. He thinks it’s some game. I call his name again and approach him with caution. Amazingly, he stops. I get close enough to put on his leash and collar. Thank the heavens.

I walk the long way around the block so I don’t go back the way I came which would bring me to close to the neighbor who’s wrath I fear.

We get home. I close the main door, take off Memphis’s leash and tell him not to do that again. He lies down, covering his face with a paw, clear that he did something that made me upset - even though it’s obviously my fault.

I’m also half an hour late now. I text my friend to delay the meeting. She’s cool with that. I’m not. I hate being late. And rush hour traffic probably starts at 3PM down here. I tell Memphis it’s alright and I give him a green tasty bone as instructed by my girlfriend to distract him when she’s leaving for a while. He takes the bait. I dash out the door, then leap in my car and I’m off. I’m doing 70mph on local roads. I hit the 405 and I’m doing 90mph now - no traffic at all.

I go over in my head the whole sequence trying to determine how I could be so stupid. I think to myself, “It’s that damn sliding door. I’ve never had one and a normal door I could just close by kicking it shut if my hands were occupied.”

Then I remember. I went out the side door to go look for Memphis. It’s a sliding door as well. And I never closed it because I went back the long way to avoid the neighbor.


How to Lose a Fucking Dog Twice in One Day.

1) Be an absent-minded moron in a rush.

I screech off the road at the Carson exit. I head south, but it turns out there is heavy traffic this time of day in that direction. I realize there is nothing else I can do. I don’t know anyone in Long Beach whom I could call to go look for the dog. I have no way of getting there faster. I resign myself to the fate of a true idiot.

I do breathing exercises. My attempt at ‘ujaii breathing’ creates a new form of full body clenching heretofore undiscovered by yogis.

I begin imagining what I’ll do if I find he’s gone and he has a half hour lead on me. I’ll call the police. Do they search for missing dogs or only people? Would I have to wait 24 hours like with people? I’ll put up signs in the neighborhood. Hopefully they’ll call me before they call the number on his tag because then J. will find out how I’ve failed her.

I develop a new level of guilt recalling that Memphis was afraid of me because I was upset with him. Those big sad eyes said “I’m sorry. You hate me. I guess I’m such a worthless dog I should just disappear.” Like every cliché runaway story, he takes off, sure he won’t be missed.

I shouldn’t be imagining that he’s gone. I think ‘The Secret’ is hokum, but what if it isn’t? What if my thoughts are creating reality and my negative vibrations are getting to Memphis and actually causing him to leave.

So banish the bad thoughts and imagine the positive outcome. I picture him under the desk where he likes to hide. I see him sitting on his little bed, happily gnawing on a bone. I envision he’s being carried to the side of the road by the owner of the car who hit him, making them both a bloody mess.

No! He’s fine. For just 15 minutes I have to convince myself he’s OK.

I go through the series of white lies I can tell J. about why I’d left the side door open. As though it’d make some difference. I decide it would be better if I can hide the fact that I lost the dog twice. Once somehow seems golden. But all the lies have gaping holes in their logic. We never use that side door. I’ll have to confess my gross negligence in safeguarding the being she loves more than anything in the world.

It’s OK. I wasn’t attached to this relationship. Sure she’s the coolest, most passionate and grounded woman I’ve met in a long, long time. And sure she rides a motorcycle, has tasteful tattoos, grew up in a Kosher home and my mom who’s friends with her parents set me up with her. But that’s OK. There are other women.

And I get home to find…He’s there. Hanging out. No big deal. I go to the wide open side door and slide it shut. We never use that side door, so maybe he never even considered it a means of egress.

I could nearly kiss the fucking dog for being so stupid. Instead, I pet him. I give him some “Good boys!”, a few treats and then, after I’m sure all doors are closed, I head out. Everything’s OK. She never has to find out. And I’m only an hour late to my meeting to further destroy the American theatre.

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Sunday, December 6, 2009

"Does JDate Work in Israel?"

(Yes, once again, this is NOT really for family. Or friends who think I don’t have sex - however infrequently it may occur. Read at your own risk)

Five years ago, almost exactly to the day I went to Israel for the first time. I wanted to go for decades, but I didn’t have any friends or family there. And there never seemed like a good time to go. But all of a sudden, I was getting kicked out of my apartment in NY because they were demolishing the building I was living in. So… that seemed like a sign from God.

Now I actually thought it was a sign from God to move to Los Angeles and become a TV writer. But five years later, I find myself no further along in my career than to be the Writers’ Assistant on a new kids show for the Disney Channel. So, clearly that was not GOD who was talking to me.

But I did go to the Holy Land as soon as I left my pad. And I know when you travel to a foreign country, you’re never really going to see the place unless you have locals showing you around. So, I came up with a clever ploy to meet locals. And the ploy was this.

Sign up on JDate.

Now, I’ve dated online for years and I’m Jewish AND I want to meet and marry a Jewish woman, BUT I didn’t think I wanted to meet the kind of woman I’d find on JDate. So I’d always assiduously avoided it in the past. But this was different. I wasn’t looking for a lover…just a tour guide to show me the cool bars and restaurants.

To my amazement, it worked. On my second night there, I met G– an exotic, intelligent, Iraqi-Israeli beauty. She was even a PhD - a shrink, in fact. She took me to a cool restaurant in the Old Port which I never otherwise would have found. And after the dinner, we sensed this chemistry so while it wasn’t my objective going into this, we kissed. And it was great.

So I saw her again the next night. And the night after that, I checked out of my hostel and I moved in with her.

Now, she wasn’t just beautiful. She was sexy. And she did this thing in bed, where instead of talking dirty or moaning in a way I was accustomed to, she would actually say, “Ow. Ow. Ow! Ow!” Like she kept repeatedly stubbing her toe or something. At first, I thought I was actually hurting her, but I soon realized this was just how she expressed excitement. And I found it an incredible turn-on. Somehow it fed the inner sadist in me that I’ve never really let myself explore.

There was this one girl I dated just before I went to Israel who always wanted me to slap her in the face just before she came. But, frankly, I was never comfortable with that. Of course, I didn’t want her to think I was judging her, so I submitted to the request. But I didn’t really enjoy it. Come to think of it, my enjoyment probably wasn’t the focus.

Anyway.

So every morning, I’d go out and explore Tel Aviv and every night I’d come home and make G- go “Ow!” But after a week of this, I realized I haven’t seen any of the rest of the country and that’s why I’d flown halfway around the world. So I told her I had to go, and she said (in that insanely sexy Israeli accent):

“Why do you want to see the rest of the country? There’s nothing to see.”

I told her she was probably right, but I had to find that out for myself.

So I went north to Caesarea and I’m tromping around these Roman ruins for two days when she calls me and says she’s coming back from a business trip in Haifa and she’ll be passing right by me. Would I like her to pick me up and take me home with her.

And I can’t resist.

That night I write in my journal, “Looks like G- is kidnapping me back to Tel Aviv! I may never see the rest of this country.”

Two wonderful days later, I tell her now I really have to go, but I’ll come back earlier than I planned, just to see her for a few days before I leave the country. She’s disappointed, but she says OK.

I come back exactly when I say I will and I call her up to figure out where to meet her, but she doesn’t call me back. I get into town and she still hasn’t responded. I check into the old hostel. I go from confused to upset to concerned. Four days go by. She finally calls and says she’s furious with me, which is why she hasn’t called me back. I say “What did I do. I don’t understand.” And she won’t tell me, but I convince her to meet me for a drink one last time before I leave, so she can explain, and I can apologize…for what I wasn’t sure.

So we sit down and she is smoldering. And she confesses to me that she read my journal just before I left. And I think, “Oh man, there are so many things she might have been upset about. I mean, this is my most personal space. I wrote down all my twisted little thoughts in there.” But I wasn’t sure which thing to apologize for.

In retrospect, I couldn’t believe I was thinking of apologizing to her when she’d violated my privacy like that. And she’s a shrink no less.

Then she tells me she read that I felt I was being kidnapped by her. Clearly, I didn’t even really want to spend any time with her.

And I started laughing. I tried to explain that this was all a huge misunderstanding. “This is the good kind of kidnapping, the kind you hope and pray for.” It took me two glasses of wine, but finally I think I convinced her that really was the truth.

So I walk her back to her car and we start kissing. Suddenly, she stops me and says, “You’re not coming back to my place.” I say, OK. And we continue kissing right in the parking lot. And it gets passionate. She starts nibbling my ear and whispers to me “Don’t rape me.”

I figure I must have misunderstood, and I say “What?”

She speaks more loudly this time and emphatically begs, “Please. Don’t rape me.”

And I think. “God. No, no, no. I would never. I mean, I know no means no.” And then I realize, she was giving me instructions - in reverse.

This was her little rape fantasy and she was intent on getting me into it.

So I dig into my inner Neanderthal and I spin her around. I pull down her pants to mid-thigh, and right in the parking lot, where anyone could walk by and see us at any moment, I start taking her from behind - pressing her up against her own car and having my way with her. And as she’s “Ow”-ing and “Yes! Please don’t rape me”-ing away, I just grab her by the hair and whisper violently into her ear:

“This’ll teach you a lesson. Don’t you ever read someone else’s journal, you little Israeli whore.”

And with that, she came.

She smiled kissed me good night. Said she'd miss me and drove out of my life.

She was a kinky girl with terrible communication skills, especially for a shrink, but I suppose we both got what we wanted.

And in the end I was taught the lesson. It seems I was wrong about JDate after all.

----------------

I was thinking of this story 5 years after it happened because just a few months before writing it down, I visited Israel for the first time since this night described. I wanted to see G- and called her. She was delighted to hear from me.

I told her I was wary of calling because I figured she might be married with kids now.

She said I was half right, that she was married and... I was the reason why. She said she couldn't wait to have dinner with me to explain.

A few days later we sat down for dinner and explained that the night after we'd met 5 years earlier I'd asked her if she had a shrink and joked that I guess she'd be talking about me in her next session. She said no. Why would she. I said doesn't she talk about dating and sex with her shrink. She said no. I found that odd and it stuck in her mind.

So after I left town she asked her shrink why they never talked about sex. He said, no reason. Let's talk about it. Shortly thereafter, they're having sex. Then get into a serious relationship and move in together. But they realize they have nothing in common, so they start taking a martial arts class so they have something to share. In the process she falls in love with her sensai (see a pattern?)

And they got married! And they're happy as clams.

And she credits me with inspiring her down this path.

We had such a great time re-connecting. Hopefully I'll see her and her kids the next time I return to Israel.

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