Monday, September 29, 2008


Oh that thirteen year old version of me. My first letterman jacket in the fall of 1986. I was such hot shit. Later that year, I would realize my hair did not match my potential, and I would go get a strange variation of a mullet. You know - short and spiky all over - bleach blond tips - but just near the base of my neck, the hair was allowed to remain long - not a rat tail (I wasn't THAT cool) but a little fall - some flare, you know?

I got this picture today from one of my closest friends in 8th grade, Scott Ray. We reconnected recently in cyberspace. He was such a cool laid back kid - had a great house with a pool. Sleep-overs and parties were the best at Scott's house. He played the trombone. Those guys were always more fun than the neurotic trumpet players like me. In the summer - just months prior to this picture - I made a movie with my camcorder in my house. My parents agreed to be gone for the whole day. Just me, Aaron Morris, Scott Ray, and Kyle Woolsey. We had no script - just an outline. Improv and real time shooting. A horror film called Deadly Regrets. I was the maniac. So much fun. I still have that horribly edited VHS tape somewhere.

I am terrified of pictures. Nostalgia overwhelms me and often makes me feel unsafe. Lately though, I have tried to take more time to peek at them. Peek at me. And remember times when things were far more simple.

I long to recapture some essence of the kid - that band geek with the green junior high letterman jacket. I miss him. A lot.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Blue-Green Chronicles - Part 3


I find it most humorous to post this after the last message on pills - it may be the result of a growing mania inside me.

In the late summer of 1998, I suffered my first panic attack at a performance of Rent at the Keller Auditorium. I was with many friends, along with my two visiting sisters (who were 13 and 11 at the time). We had enjoyed a nice dinner and had gone to see the touring show which by then was already a cliché - but that's another subject.

About five minutes before the curtain went up, I began to feel strange. And then BOOM - and man, what an experience. Heart rate exploded. Gag reflexes became sensitive. Bowels liquefied. Sweat poured. Left arm went numb. Skin felt like it was burned. And it lasted for about an hour. The shear terror of what was happening to me kept me paralyzed in my seat - and at intermission, I ran to the bathroom to gather myself.

A nightmare had begun.

Prior to this attack, I was fearless. My past included being drum major of a Texas marching band, singing in front of thousands, speaking at huge events, performing Shakespeare solo in front of James Earl Jones at Lincoln Center, conducting orchestras for musicals, interviewing for the Drama League, and the list goes on. I had nerves of steel that I knew would carry me to great success. In terms of the personality test, this would all have been a fearlessness put forth by the green part of my essence. So long as I was prepared for these high-pressure events - I would be fine. That's logic. Do the homework - be ready - and all is well.

Two weeks after that initial episode, I awoke in the early morning with what seemed to be a heart attack. Left arm curled again. Chest pain beyond belief. Pounding head. The symptoms took about 15 minutes to subside. I went to a clinic. Tons of heart tests. Blood work. The results: "Your heart is very strong." "Your thyroid is normal." "There are no other abnormalities." Diagnosis: "You have an anxiety problem." And this is my favorite: "You're gay and this is probably a result of underlying fears - that you will die from AIDS, be the victim of violent attacks, and die alone." The woman who told me this was a lesbian nurse practitioner - very caring, but man, did she adopt "victim mentality" for the GLBT community. Plan for treatment: "Anti-depressants and anxiety meds." I refused, but said I'd accept a mild sedative. The result: "a .5mg prescription for Ativan." And it helped.

The green in me did not like it. Rearing its head and logically stubborn as ever, it said, "You cannot rely on this drug. It's absurd." And in the fall of 1999, I got off Ativan for good and have never taken it since. But the result: I have had nearly a decade of ongoing anxiety attacks.

The blue in me wants attention - it has taken over in many ways. Empathy is a powerful thing. And I believe that I am extremely empathic - to the point of sensing and adopting emotional stress when I'm in the presence of others who may be distraught. It has allowed me to grow as an artist for sure, but it has also crippled my ambition. I believe the anxiety comes from that struggle between the empathic and the logical. The tug of war threatens to tear me apart. But the truth is, I have also become a classic textbook case: the fear of having an anxiety attack is now the primary reason I have them. For I have come to expect them. And they come - relentlessly.

I now have no less than three full attacks per week, often while in the presence of others. I can barely attend theatre anymore, because I cannot bear to be in an embarrassing situation where I need to leave and disrupt the show - I always grab an aisle seat, or I won't attend. I have become more and more reclusive - agoraphobia has infected my life. What sort of irony is that?

Please understand...this is not a pity party. I have great faith that I hold the power to change this - that in some way, I have the power to re-balance my internal colors. In exposing myself on this blog and more and more to my friends, I hope to remove the shame from my struggles. And in doing so, I can only hope better days are ahead.

Because they have to be.

--image by Regina Lafay

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Pill People

As many people know, I have a real bad attitude about Western Medicine. I feel that science has been hijacked by greedy industries and we are paying the price. I feel we are being pushed into addictions and those benefiting are the stockholders of Big Pharma.

Here is an article in Men's Health. Many like it have been published in the past six months, but much more coverage was seen in other countries...of course. We Americans don't want our quick fixes taken away. And no one really wants to see behind the curtain, do they?

Bottom line: question everything!

I hope some will take the time to read this:

Monday, September 15, 2008

Liberty Weeping

Liberty is blinded and she may never find us again.

This is my fear. This keeps me up at night. This makes my stomach churn with violent fiery acid. And it makes me so very sad.

Bill Maher said on his show last Friday that Democrats have all the issues on their side and yet are "losing to a 200 year old man and a mountain mama who makes Bush look like a professor."
How is this?

--Our education system is a disaster.
--Republicans want to keep public schools a disaster.
--This means only the rich and few get strong educations.
--Americans become more and moronic.
--Republicans prey on the morons.
--Republicans stay in power.

Republicans: "Me Me Me!!!"
Democrats: "Us Us Us!!!"

Ignorance allows those who think "ME ME ME" to "WIN WIN WIN" which screws "US US US!!!"

It's very hard for Democrats to fight this kind of battle. It takes a monumental reduction in intellect to do so. But I have said to many a friend, "Barack Obama must to learn to convincingly communicate like a 6th grader." I don't think he can do it. He has too much pride in his own education and knowledge to dumb things down. He finds it rude. So do I. But if he doesn't, he very well may lose. If the election were held today, he would.

I wish I had the money to make a series of T-shirts that would make sense to 6th graders.

"If you hate women, vote McCain/Palin"
"If you hate homosexuals, vote McCain/Palin"
"If you hate the planet, vote McCain/Palin"
"If you hate children, vote McCain/Palin"
"If you hate veterans, vote McCain/Palin"
"If you hate farmers, vote McCain/Palin"
"If you love being sick, vote McCain/Palin"
"If you love war, vote McCain/Palin"
"If you love alley abortions, vote McCain/Palin"
"If you think white people RULE, vote McCain/Palin"

"If you hate America, vote McCain/Palin,
but if you still love America, vote Obama/Biden"

Even if Obama pulls this out - I am still deeply saddened. This is not only about winning an election. It is about the rapid transformation of this country - a country where knowledge and intellect and thoughtfulness have quickly become weaknesses - where ignorance and apathy have quickly become strengths.

Liberty walks bloody and blind searching for her children.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Suck it!

I watched the series premiere of True Blood on HBO. And along with Showtime's Dexter, I will be sucking on this TV drug.

I cannot tell if it's good or not. But I'm certainly not bored. And I've come to believe that cable television is the only place where writers are getting the chance - and with big bucks - to take risks and defy genre. What is True Blood? Satire? Farce? Drama? Horror? I have no idea. And perhaps Alan Ball's attempt to mix all these various elements will backfire. But how cool!

Reviews have been extremely divided on this new show - and isn't that a good sign? I think so. It's managing to be experimental and still be marketed in a mainstream fashion. Why can't theatre do this?

Theatre is becoming the most conservative of art forms. How did this happen? Money certainly lures playwrights to Hollywood - but I'm beginning to think that television may also have a leg up on creativity. This upsets me. least we have cable.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Blue-Green Chronicles - Part 2

Agnostic - (noun) - a person who holds that the existence of the ultimate cause, as God, and the essential nature of things are unknown and unknowable, or that human knowledge is limited to experience. --from

This is what I am. Forced really by my blue-green split persona, it is the only way to cope with the flood of conflicting input that saturates both my head and my heart on a daily basis. And I like this definition, because often, an agnostic is said to be someone who simply "doesn't know." But really, it's that I hold that no one can "know". In this way, I find both fundamental religiosity and pure atheism equally absurd. And they are absurd to me because of the blatant arrogance displayed in practicing either dogma.

I have often heard one say about his/her faith, "This is what I hold to be true..." And I want to respond. No, it isn't. It's what you "hope is true...and desperately." And I think it is that desperation that creates belief systems. As humans we are very conflicted about our mortality. And most people have had that moment where they sense "something else." Those who have been able to connect to that "something else" and articulate its qualities in a new way have become prophets. Some small - maybe only to their local communities. Some large - like the big J.C. In this way, I feel overtly defined spirituality is the result of our trying to verbalize, organize, and institutionalize that which we cannot know. We have a sense of something - and it is maddening that we can't quite touch it - and our desperation to do so leads to the concretization of something that cannot be concretized.

Some would say to me, "well, duh, Matt - that's why it's called faith." Yes, but people of great faith rarely say they "don't know". They cite their faith as the reason they "do know." And again, this is absurd. I have heard many a faithful say, "If only I could make you understand what I know." Yes, please. Make me. Force me. Convert me so that you can feel better about your desperation - your intense fear - because deep down, you know you can't know. You can only believe - and really, what is a belief but the hope - not the knowledge - that something is true?

It is very important to state that I find atheistic scientists equally silly in their zealotry. I've often wondered if atheists are actually the most prone to religion. The belief in absolutely nothing but what is tested through collection of data and scientific process - well really, it's an exercise in not being disappointed. It is the creation of warranties. It is a way to self-cure spiritual addiction. I visualize this atheist in a sweat-soaked state of anxiety: I do believe in God. I do believe in spirits. I do believe in an afterlife. But I can't know. And I'm desperate to do so. I need it. I want it. But I can't know for sure. And so can't have it for sure. And I can't risk losing it. And so I must ban it from my house.

Atheists often talk of the need for pure scientific data. The issue is that this data must be measured and interpreted through human methods: what we can see, hear, feel, taste, and touch. But ironically, through science, we know that we humans have limitations - and what we perceive is not even "real". For instance, there is no such thing as "blue". And there is no such thing as a "melody" in music. The color and melody are nothing but interpretations in our brain - conversions from input through our eyes and ears. But cats don't hear the same melody. And dogs don't see that blue. And as overly simplistic as these examples are - isn't it easy to assume that perhaps there are things we can't sense at all? Are we so arrogant as to assume that the only data in the universe must be seen, heard, felt, tasted, or touched? What about senses humans may not even have? Speculative? Of course. But Dr. Scientist, quit telling me how you can "know things with near absolute certainty." Because as is often cited - the world was once flat - and with equal certainty.

My green side needs "see it to believe it" information. My blue side senses ghosts, other dimensions, and hears thoughts of others. And at the end of the day, all I can be is agnostic. So when I sit almost daily and stare into a candle, reciting prayers - I also giggle at myself for the Gothic ritual. Conflicted? Yes. But a traumatic conflict? Only sometimes. Really, it's nothing but agnosticism. And I'm trying to embrace that.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Blue-Green Chronicles - Part 1

The Test

When I was in high school, a personality test was administered. For the life of me, I cannot recollect why I had to take this test. I seem to recall it happened in an English class, but maybe my school counselor was the proctor. Truth is, I think I have blocked out parts of this experience, because the results were ominous.

--I have a blue-green split personality--

Okay, what the hell does that mean? In this exam, colors were used on a graph for the purpose of grouping traits. Oddly, my test scored in the extremes of both blue and green. This woman (my counselor? English teacher?) was shocked to see this result ("most rare" she said) and looked incredibly concerned for my well being. I don't remember all the fine details, but I do know that my blue score indicated heightened, almost psychic intuition. My green score indicated highly analytical thinking, almost extremist in its scientific "data-only please" methodology. This meant that my life would be filled with internal conflicts, often crippling - for my intuitive awareness would use a metaphor-seeking and ever-changing lens through which to view the world; my analytical grounded eye would seek black and white results with clear data based evidence to shape reality.

The look this woman gave me said, "you're fucked".

I think such tests, along with IQ tests are given far too much weight. I once scored low enough on an IQ test to be classified "Mentally Retarded" and then again on another to be classified "Genius". Maybe I'm a Retarded-Genius split personality. I digress. Though I question any test's value, this one proved prophetic indeed. And I have to wonder, was it truly prophetic, or did that look from this woman plant a seed that sprouted into what has oft been a troubled reality?

In a series of blogs, I'm going to investigate this blue-green dilemma. Read or ignore - but they're coming.

The Blue-Green Chronicles

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Horror Movie

At the Republican National Convention...

'nuf said.