Saturday, May 04, 2013

Like Snow White, Judahism is awakening from a long sleep

After three-plus years of non-activity, I'm reawakening this blog about my life in middle age. Why should you care? Well, I have a new book out -- the 2nd edition of "Finding My Place: One Man's Journey from Cleveland to Boston and Beyond," which contains all the material from my show, "One Man's Journey through the Middle Ages." So, is this blog just a craven attempt at getting noticed, getting read, of getting my stories out into the world? In a word, 'yes,' but I hope, beyond the stories, that you'll resonate with some of my reflections on mid-life, and my journey through this crazy world where "Man plans, and God laughs.""

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Bringing Out the Book

Creating my new book--beyond the writing--has turned out to be a Herculean effort, far beyond anything I had imagined. Yesterday, the proof finally came from the printer, and it does look good--but there was, and is, a little let down, especially because there's so much work left to do: I have to promote it.

Meanwhile, I had overseen the process (sort of like a tennis match) of copy-editing and layout, once it became apparent to me that the original publisher wasn't up to the task. So, after paying her off, I took the book back. Since then, the process has flowed more smoothly, but still, it has taken longer than I imagined.

At least it looks good, and I was confident I'd caught any misspellings--ones often created by the original editor who dropped letters and words at an alarming rate. But this morning, while I was showing off the book, a friend noticed a misspelling on my Acknowledgments page. So now, I have to upload a new file and wait another week, all because of one missing letter.

Still, despite the fact that I'm going to miss most of the Xmas rush, I know it's more important to do it right than to do it fast, and that I'll soon have a book that reflects my work.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

B-Side: Lost

B-Side: Lost

My piece, "Echoes of Jerry" about losing some of my hearing and my connection to my deaf uncle, has just been broadcast on the latest edition of B-Side Radio. Check it out!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

A Fine Line

Here is my latest Bay Windows column, about one of my recent experiences in P'town--a reminder of how I don't fit the 'gay ideal.' As if I needed a reminder......

A Fine Line


Judah Leblang/2009


I’d been in Provincetown for two days, and it was clearly time for a makeover. It was late July, the height of the summer tourist season. Nothing had changed from my previous visits, except that many of the men seemed younger, a reminder that I had grown older. Meanwhile, the parade of handsome men rolled on through town, with their honey-brown tans and “surfboard haircuts” (as I think of them), the crest of the wave rising neatly over their bronzed foreheads.

I had come to P’town, ostensibly, to take a creative writing course at the Fine Arts Work Center. Since the course met for only 3 hours Monday-Friday, I also came to vacation, relax, chill out. But instead of unwinding, I began to feel stressed. I lacked the key characteristics of the well-dressed (or undressed) Provincetown man: perfect haircut, melon-shaped biceps, and tanned skin.

I conducted a mental inventory, whispering my version of the serenity prayer: “Lord, help me to accept my imperfections, and not to compare myself to the gymbots at the Boatslip or Herring Cove.” My reddish complexion and cancer-prone skin meant tanning was out. My lean genes keep me relatively fit, but building muscle is a painfully-slow process, and my life doesn’t revolve around the gym. So I settled on the one thing I could easily change –- my hairstyle.

One afternoon after class, I wandered through town toward a trendy salon I’ll call “Cut and Paste.” My stylist, Gregory, fit the P’town aesthetic to a T, with broad shoulders, bronzed skin, and short, neatly trimmed hair, which framed his face to best effect. After a few minutes, Greg commented on my receding hairline and the affliction of male pattern baldness, which was obviously stalking me.

A solution was at hand, he explained. Years earlier, my stylist had a receding hairline, too. But thanks to a talented physician and the miracle of plastic surgery, Greg had a new improved hairline, which allowed him to look a decade younger than his real (forty-something) age. I had to admit that Greg, along with his hair, looked great; my hair had never looked quite that good. Still, he said it took work –- vigilance, medication, the right hair products.

A half hour later I was back on Commercial, with the same basic haircut I typically get in Somerville, at twice the price. Tucked against my chest, below my trim but thinning mane, was an impressive pamphlet –- a booklet actually -- which outlined the wonders of microsurgery for hair loss.

Back in my steamy East End room, I examined the booklet. On the front cover was a large grayscale image of a bald man, bare head in hands, looking like Rodin’s “Thinker” with a migraine headache. Inside were a series of before and after pictures –- the former images of disheveled unsmiling men with patchy, flyaway hair –- while the after pics showed these same men smiling, their confidence restored. The surgeon, a Dr. Epstein, with offices conveniently located in both New York and Miami, had performed thousands of these procedures, assisted by a team of crack technicians, a line of women in front of microscopes, all outfitted in neat white jackets or surgical scrubs.

I turned the glossy pages of the booklet and considered this new “problem.” I’d always been the one in my family with the “good hair,” thick and plentiful, unlike the thin straw-like locks of my two brothers. Now I was using Propecia, an oral medication, to hold onto what remained.

I have problems in my life –- an awareness of the passage of time, which seems to go faster as the years pile up, hearing loss, and dry eyes -- but I’m not ready or willing to add hair loss to the list. Over the next few days, the brochure, shiny and silvery/white, lay on a chair, soon to be buried under beach towels and souvenir T-shirts.

The days of surfboard haircuts are behind me. Eventually, I sighed, tossed the booklet in the trash and headed outside, the setting sun reflecting off my high forehead.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Hello--Goodbye

For the past few months, I've been dating a wonderful man. Initially, I was (as usual) ambivalent about him--not sure if I was really attracted. I've dated a lot of nice guys, but I thought that if the chemistry wasn't there, I couldn't force it, and those men usually went into my friendship category.

This time, I broke my usual pattern, or went beyond its limitations. As I got to know A, my feelings for him grew, and I found him more and more attractive. But just as my feelings were developing, A realized that he was in a difficult financial position,and needed to earn more money than he could get in Mass. Over the past month he's been preparing to move away from the area to work as a traveling nurse. To do that, he has to go where the jobs are--often in out of the way places.

Now, just as I'm getting used to being in relationship, I'm preparing to lose one. The whole process has been accelerated and surprisingly difficult.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Passover

About 2 weeks ago,I came back from visiting a friend in Albany and found a mini-flood in my kitchen. It seems that literally when it rains it pours, and the water damage came the week after I discovered that my bike had been stolen out of the "secure" bike room on the first floor of my condo building. Also, I was in the middle of refinancing my condo and had just received my new appraisal--in the last few years the value of my condo has been shrinking incredibly fast--and seeing the new/low number brought me up short; I felt like I'd just been slapped like the men in those old Aqua Velva commercials.

Today, my unit is pieced back together and I've managed to pull myself together, too. But I was and am amazed at how quickly I felt ungrounded/of how I lost my composure as soon as I spotted a note on my door and then entered my unit to find peeling plaster, water-stained walls and a wet floor. Once again, I'm reminded that I need to practice yoga or meditation--to do something so that when the shit does hit the fan--as it inevitably will, especially when life seems to be going my way, I'll have something to fall back on.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Snow Day

I'm officially sick of winter--no longer seeing the beauty of white on red brick or bare trees. I'm tired of being cold, of feeling the wind whip through my four or five layers of clothing. But on this Monday morning, I'm grateful for snow; for the first time this year, my college (work) is closed and we have a snow day.

I feel a bit like the kid I was, back in Cleveland, when we'd get a rare (about once a year) day off due to snow. In that lake-effect snow region, school would be canceled only if we got a foot or more. My friends and I would grab our fathers' shovels and head out, shoveling the neighbors driveways for $5 or $6, and earning $2 each for that numbingly cold work.

Still, it was exciting--an unexpected gift--to get that unplanned holiday. Today, my car is in my condo lot, which should be plowed out by this afternoon. Then I'll head down out and dig out my car....which beats shoveling a whole driveway. I'm hoping this will be the last major snowstorm of the season, but March can be a long month.

Still, the time changes next weekend and I'm going to pretend that spring is just around the corner instead of being a month away.