[For the past few weeks I've been implementing a meditation practice. It's not easy to just following my thoughts. Here's a short creative piece that attempts to capture the free floating anxieties ;-). ]

First thing: 15 minutes, on the microwave. It’s not long, but doable. Eyes closed though I was just sleeping, or at least halfway through the clock radio NPR chatter. One. Two. Three. Why is my breath so shallow? It should be more expansive than this, more about pulling in and letting go. Yoga class, remember? Six. Maybe it's the position, sitting here on the floor, atop this slightly squishy block. Seven. Or it’s a lung problem? Nine. A lump in my throat that feels like heartache. Why do I still feel heartache? Four. It's been weeks. He's got to realize he made a mistake. Seven. Maybe there’s a text. I’m not looking until this is over. Thirteen. Oops, wasn’t supposed to go past ten. One. Will I cave and send him an e-mail? I know I shouldn't.  Seven. My lower back. Oy. Nine. I need to write something short. I should write about this. It's contained. It's got structure. Twelve. Fuck! Dial it back to one. Let the thoughts go. Two. Still shallow. Five. That asshole on Scruff. Really, could he be any more stereotypical? Dick pic, disappearance. Ten. Composing between breaths just seems wrong. Mindfulness not multi-tasking! Three. Losing count. Nine. Earlier on the radio: A Berkeley high school teacher says he’s on "the back end of life". He's my age exactly. Seven. My morning shit moves into place. I can last fifteen minutes, though how far into this am I? Five, is that where I was? Six.  I bought cheap chairs online. A poor quality mistake. I should have held out for better. One. Will he ever see them? Two. Won't he be proud that I'm sitting here doing this? It was his idea in the first place. Five. Is there anything to eat for breakfast? Seven. How will I keep myself from looking at my e-mail once my eyes are open?  Eleven. Again!? I keep over counting. Back to the body. One. Legs cramp. Yawn. I break the spell that I’m barely in. Two. Does this even do anything? Three. The bed’s rumpled. I should wash the sheets. TODAY. Six. Back end of life. Did the guy on the radio really say "eternally single"? Eight. Despair. Ten. Maybe I can get my lungs to expand with practice. Four. Five. Six. Another heartache lump in my throat. Nine. How much time do I have left?


Prince Moments 1: Controversy


Dig this: In 1982, I had my first romantic encounter with Prince. No, sex wasn’t involved, but something deeper, something that felt a bit more like destiny. And it was on Valentine’s Day. One February afternoon that year, on my fifteen-minute break during my retail job at a mall bookstore, I spotted a rectangular piece of paper on the sidewalk. I picked it up and read the dot matrix-y type:

February 14, 1982 8 pm.

Prince – The Controversy Tour

With The Time

San Francisco Civic Auditorium

I felt like a winner, even if I wasn’t quite in the Prince camp. He was too new an artist to have fully imprinted on my psyche. But from radio airplay and music magazine coverage, I had enough lustful curiosity to appreciate his mixed race, lean-bodied, quasi-queer penchant for posing strap lingerie and shoulder pads, not to mention that dance floor funk. That photo of him in the shower with a cross had been brazenly wheat pasted to abandoned buildings around town, he was an artist to watch for more ways than one.

I felt guilty holding on to that wayward ticket— I could only imagine the effort and expense the buyer put into getting it. But what was I to do, return it?

Fuck that. I took it as a sign from above, and went to the show.

Actually, my attitude wasn’t quite that cavalier. I was a shy 21-year old who had moved to San Francisco for a sentimental education at a state school in a city that promised dance, music, sex and gay romance. Prince didn’t record D.M.S.R until the following year, but that mantra played in my head even though I may not have realized it had anything to do with him. Or with how significant a figure he would become as my marker of all of the above.

I knew there would be something liberating about Prince, and The Time, who opened.  That was 34 years ago, gasp, and I only recall fleeting details—feeling lost and alone in the cavernous space, the crowd dancing on the main floor to songs that were only just becoming engraved in my mind—When You Were Mine, Head, Dirty Mind, Do Me Baby.  Controversy. Performing them, Prince prowled the stage like a mixed race jaguar anbd he played his instruments like lovers. I danced, with my own sort of sweaty freedom, a small fraction of what he advertised. Was I dreaming or did he return my glance?

 He asked much better questions that were so of the era: “Am I black or white, am I straight or gay?” Clearly a flirt, he wasn’t about to answer conclusively.  He knowingly played both sides of the fence. His stage demeanor gave me direct permission to ogle his ass and the alluring hair on his chest—even if there was never substantiated evidence of male lovers in his entourage (it took decades for Frank Ocean to fill that zone). He seemed so confident, so alive. I was in awe, and in lust.

After the show, the sweat cooled quickly in the San Francisco night as I walked alone up Polk Street to the apartment where my roommates were undoubtedly watching MTV videos late into the night. It was a first encounter and I didn’t quite know what hit me other than the fact that I was in the presence of greatness at an early stage. I suppose I could have predicted that the music he would go on to make would have such a profoundly joyous, erotic influence on my life— and so many others. There would be countless nights of dancing, of singing karaoke at the top of my lungs, of obsessions with his style and protégés. How was I to predict seeing him decades later and basking in his amorous glow in a stadium full of those whose psyches he penetrated with songs I heard that magical first date?