The Nitty Gritty

But more than all of those I am an entertainer. I carry around a ukulele with me for the same reason a gangster carries a gun; better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it. Stage or sidewalk, Your Pal Pete shows are just where they happen.
Currently, I'm working on a musical, RagnaPOP(or she's got the bomb), set to premiere at this year's Capital Fringe Festival. I'm also working on music, comedy, and musical comedy; for kids and/or adults.
The fruit of these projects will be available on this site, so check back regularly!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

2008:My Year In Suck

In the excellent Clash documentary Westway To The World, a journalist surmises about Mick Jones’ childhood living with his grandmother in the projects; that he probably looked out on to the westway by where he lived and wondered what was to become of his life. Thinking about my own life, I knew that my family was aggressively middle class, so I didn’t have that feeling of growing up hopeless. I didn’t realize it at the time but I was soon to find out what it felt like to have grown up hopeless.

I didn’t have the Westway, but when I lived in Phoenix I had the South Rim, with the mountains making a hazy outline against the thick smog, visible as milk in the cereal bowl of the valley. I wondered, what the fuck now? I still don’t know.

To finish my book, I kind of took myself “off the grid” as it is popularly said. I spent a huge part of 2007 living at a house in Iowa, then in Texas living with my then-girlfriend. I finished the book and unfortunately the relationship didn’t work out, so I tried moving back to the DC area and you know, get back on “The Grid.”

The Grid keeps throwing me back off.

January: After unsuccessful attempts to get a job (although I worked the Christmas season at my old toy store job. It was only part-time, so it was only partly masochistic) and a place to live, I move in with my Mom in Phoenix. As I may have mentioned…

Pros- I get to spend more time with my family, especially my niece and nephews.
Cons- Just about every other god-damn thing about it.

I fucking hate Phoenix, and I got to spend part of the summer there. People love to say, “But it’s a dry heat!” So is being on fire. Tim Roth in the movie Bodies, Rest and Motion when he said an Arizona summer was good practice for Hell.

July: After saving enough money from working at a place that refills printer cartridges, I move back to the DC area. Not wanting to repeat previous mistakes I get a place to live with my friend Misha and a place to work full-time. It’s at my friend Dave’s guitar store, so it’s kind of the perfect job for me. Or it may have been if my hours were constantly getting cut until I only worked two days a week. I understood their need to cut costs, but my landlord would probably not be as understanding.

Fall ’08: I got another job pretty quickly, as a theater manager at the new Montgomery Cinema and Drafthouse. As with many new places, the inspections and finishing touches took a little while, so thank God for those two days a week at the Guitar Store. When it finally opened, the stress of juggling and putting out fires (metaphorically, of course), almost got the best of me there. I got laid off at the Guitar store, which I didn’t mind at the time because it magically gave me two days off a week, up from zero.

After a while I really started to enjoy my work and even got promoted to shift manager. A new wrinkle developed by chance one night when I got pushed on stage to introduce a comedy show there and did about 5 minutes worth of material that went over pretty well. My bosses said that I could do some more MCing if I wanted to. Uh, yea, I do!

Then it closed. Just a bit before Christmas, in the midst of an economic panic. What the fuck was I going to do?

2008 fucking sucked. But looking my life right now, the evidence of how lucky I really am is impossible to ignore.

Of course there’s my Mom, for letting me live with her and trying to help me out of the paralyzing depression that dominated the first half of this year.

There’s Misha, who took me in when I needed it and made moving back to the area that I feel most comfortable in possible.

There’s Steven, my boss at the toy store. His help this year has saved my ass more times –especially- this year more times than I can relate.

And last, but certainly not least, is my friend Shawn, who has supported me in every conceivable way this year.

Overall, I’m doing pretty well considering that I got laid off twice this year. I have a roof over my head and no out of control debt. I actually have a job, albeit one that has almost driven my literally insane in the past. After the year I just had, the stresses there are a lot easier to deal with. Yes, it’s sad that I am wistful for when I was merely unhappy, but that seems to be as much as anyone can hope for with what everyone else is going through. We as Americans are not used to worrying so much about our survival, but we’ve learned a valuable lesson that much of the rest of the world already knows: until you stop worrying about survival, fretting about happiness is a luxury that’s easily left behind.

2009 has to be better, right? We can still hope, so I will. Happy New Year and many happy returns to everyone. I don’t have any resolutions personally, I just want more of what this year sorely lacked: money, security and happiness.

Oh, and feminine affection. Much more of that, please!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

My Failed Seduction

Realizing that my readership has dropped WAY off, I can be a bit more honest in expressing myself in a blog fashion. Flat out, I've been almost stupefyingly lonely the last few months. The only thing that has helped is just trying NOT to be, like some imaginary someone standing over me slapping me in the face until I don't feel lonely anymore. This is a story from before I learned to "deal".

A couple of months ago, I had a female friend visit me for that wonderfully ambiguous activity known as “hanging out”. I wanted to use this opportunity to make an in earnest pass at her. I had always been very attracted to her, but didn’t have the kind of fantasies that I had have starring some of my other female friends. But the possibility that she just MIGHT be receptive to a pass from me changed that quickly in my deluded mind.

It was pretty obvious that this wasn’t going to work very quickly. She had spent the day with a woman that she was attracted to, took out her sexual frustration on her ex-boyfriend and was IMing a third person that she had never met. As she talked about the stew of drama in her life, she admitted that she probably enjoyed it on some level. It was right about then that I added another ingredient: I told her of my plan to seduce her.

“You were not!”she said, lightly slapping me on the shoulder. I was, actually. "Well, I'm flattered," she said, which I know from TONS of experience means, "Thanks, but no thanks." Shit, I even wrote a song about it( although I wrote it about a gay man hitting on me).

As my friend left, I realized that it was probably a good idea that it didn’t work, although my loneliness continued unabated. With the two texting conversations going on while we watched a movie, it was the next best thing to being by myself. I opened the door to my newly clean bedroom and quickly realized that the dog had peed in the corner.

It was not my night.

Friday, December 05, 2008

The Graduation Party

A little over a decade ago, I was at a college graduation for a friend of mine that I had known for a while. Meeting members of her family, I had my eye drawn to one of her cousins. I thought that she might be young, but I was surprised to learn she was only 18. Talking with her and my friend, I found out that she was the same cousin that accompanied us to a Cure concert in 1987. I was shocked because she bared no resemblance to the 13 year girl that I remembered from back then. Obviously my baldness gave a her a similar problem.

“No, you didn’t go with us,” she said, matter-of-factly.
“Yes I did, “ I said, ”Disintegration tour, Cap Centre.”
“That’s the show, but it wasn’t you. There was Mike, there was Cess there was Pete.”
“Yes, Pete. I’m Pete.”
“No this Pete had,” she put her hands flat 8 inches over her scalp to signify the empire of hair I once. Short back and sides with a longish moppy mushroom up top is how I wore it when I wore a younger man’s hair. But those days were gone.

I was that Pete alright, that show was the beginning of the end of my –screwed up-relationship with my Cessi, my ex-fiancée. I had made a mistake of saying that Cindy Crawford looked awesome on the cover of the new Cosmo, and she was very upset about it. She was never shy about saying who she was attracted to who was not me, but the fact that this was the first time I had said something about someone that wasn’t her justified her hurt. At the show, she pointed to a girl sitting behind us asking me, “Isn’t she pretty?”
“Sure,” I shrugged and I swear I never looked at her again, not wanting to exacerbate our situation. After the show, she sulked the 3 hour drive home saying that I had stared at that girl all night. My protests to the contrary were negated by Mike, who said he noticed the same thing. Did I mention that she cheated on me with Mike most of the time we were together? It wasn’t my last dysfunctional relationship, alas, but it did set a pretty high standard for me.

I didn’t unload this part of the story for her, this is just for you (you’re welcome!), but this memory added to my frustration dealing with her disbelief that I wasn’t present at such a significant moment in my life.

“You know, you’re about 6 inches taller than you were then, but I still believe it’s you!”