I've Almost Stopped Crying.

Finally, having arrived back HOME in New York. (I felt completely different, walking around the City yesterday; the first time I didn't feel like a visitor. Something happens to you when you realize you have no apartment waiting for you, elsewhere).

The first thing I did was meet J.R. Stuart, an actor, director and playwright from Louisville, KY, with whom I've been cyberfriends with for a long time. We had breakfast at the Brooklyn Diner in Times Square. (They don't serve "breakfast potatoes." Instead, they make polenta thingies that look like orange fried cubes.)

I feel like an idiot for not bringing my camera.

The truth is that I can tell I'm still not completely "present." I found myself crying, randomly, during the day "just like a woman." The tears weren't connected to anything specific. They just would appear in my suddenly-burning eyes.

And I forgot things. My pill tray, for one. Left it at Chris and Ernie's. I think. I mean, that's the point. I don't know. Ernie made the observation, as we were sorting through the apartment, that I am "scattered." Meaning, I'll start on one thing, see another -- "shiny object!" -- and just change course, forgetting the first task.

It's true. Well, now multiply that by, I don't know, a gajillion, and that's what I'm feeling now. I have a lot of things to do, both healthwise, getting all my medical coverage converted and up to date, new doctors, new systems, new drug store. New everything. It's dizzying, at best.

But, putting down roots in New York means new friends. New people to meet! New opportunities for getting our shows out there.

J.R. mentioned there are theaters in his area that are always looking for new material. I pitched him both TLS and Big Voice, telling him how effective both pieces are in terms of appealing to all kinds of people, from liberal to conservative, since we don't push a political agenda, but, instead, just tell our stories, letting people decide for themselves what to think.

Back in L.A., I also had lunch with Jim Durkin, who now, among other things, manages movie composers. He and I laugh because, back when I first got to L.A., when I was the front desk volunteer at National Academy of Songwriters, he was performing a similar entry level position at ASCAP.

We would meet at Micelli's and I would say to him, "We're gonna take over this town, Durkin!" (I always call him "Durkin." He would later re-enter my life after I got sick. During one of my attempts to come back to life, pre-AIDS cocktail, he got me a volunteer position, as physical therapy, with a music agent he was working for, a guy named Vos. But, I eventually became too sick to handle it.)

"We haven't quite conquered Hollywood," he noted, as I started on my Denny's tilapia.

Undaunted, I responded, "No. No. I got it figured out. First, I have to conquer New York. THEN, we can take on Hollywood."

He said, "Do you remember Jamie and me visiting you in the hospital?"

"I don't remember hardly anything that happened in that hospital. I was a lot sicker than I knew. I mean, I knew, but I didn't really know. No one did."

I told him about my plans  for New World Waking, that I feel it can be expanded by a half hour and work as a Broadway show, using contemporary musical arrangements. He gave me the name of a very hot music producer whose been also working in theater. So, it was nice to do some business. Who knows.

Today, all the boxes are due to arrive from El Lay, and we start the whole process over again, looking at every single sheet of paper. Finding places for everything. I've lived in New York before, and the first lesson you learn is that space is valuable -- and if you don't find a place for everything, you will suddenly be covered in junk.

Sunday night, we swung by the Mark Janas Salon. It was cruise night, so I sang "The Faces In The Music." (Here is a video of me doing it at Kulak's Woodshed in NoHo. Must have been a very early appearance. I was still introducing myself to the group, having arrived there as a volunteer camera operator -- once again, physical therapy):



As I sang the song at Salon, I got to the final verse:
I've now been decorated in a fancy big hotel
Seen the place where Joan of Arc was burned
And sent right straight to hell
I've sailed around Cape Horn and lived to tell
As I got to that last line, my voice broke, tears burned, and I rasped my way through to the end. We left the Salon early, which meant missing Mark Janas' "classical corner," which I love, but, by then, my body had given out, and we left at the break.

I miss my friends already. And I've almost stopped crying, but not quite. Don't get me wrong. It's a good cry. I know Jim and I are where we belong. Our lives are in theater. Yes, you can do theater anywhere. I bet J.R. totally kicks ass in Louisville. But, theater is New York. It just is. I don't even mind that I'm still crying. It even almost kinda feels good. Almost.

At home -- home -- that night, and on Monday, I got caught up on True Blood, Mad Men, Entourage, Project Runway, I Love Lucy -- the Connecticut episodes, not my favorites -- and finally was allowed to touch cat Steinbeck, who objected to this 10-day separation by ignoring me completely the first night, but jumping into the bed for scootches last night.

And I could hear Jim purring.
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