Saturday, March 31, 2012

Liberty or Death: Healthcare in America (Pt 1)

ER-phobia and Drug Bliss

The first time I went to the emergency room I was a baby. On a visit to Tampa's smog-gray, pollen-rich, humid landscape my mom said she woke up in the middle of the night to my cries. I  was burning up the sheets with a fever. I struggled to breath. My parents rushed me to the emergency room and I was diagnosed. Asthma could have killed me before my first birthday. Fortunately I was a child and there are a variety of safety nets for young children. 

Twenty years later I made my second visit to the Emergency Room. After several days of what felt like a low-level fever and strange inability to muster any strength, I agonized over the decision. I had heard the horror stories and wondered whether I could just ride out whatever was ailing me. The only problem was that I hadn't eaten in a few days either. The very thought of food made me sick. I made a deal with myself. 

I was going to wake up, grab a nice big breakfast of eggs, hash browns, toast, and OJ. Considering the fact that I hadn't even in days, I should have devoured the entire breakfast. The deal was that if I couldn't finish most of my breakfast, I had to overcome my fear and go to the hospital. There was no other way to convince me to make the trip to the ER. I couldn't see a doctor, as all were booked solid for months in advance. My health insurance was student-level which meant I was one-step above a crack addict. 

After ordering my breakfast, I sat outside. It was an unusually beautiful morning. The sun was shining and I had a nice, protein-rich, carb-heavy feast in my lap. I stared at the eggs and couldn't believe people ate these things. I decided to start with the toast. I stuck a wedge in my mouth and chewed the buttered and burnt slice. It tasted like ash. I tried talking myself through the meal so that I wouldn't have to go to the hospital.

Mmm, this is so delicious. 

Yummy, this congealing, yellow-paste butter is in no way making me want to vomit.

These eggs are fetuses...and that is an appetizing thought.

Next, I looked at the eggs, my main nemesis. They were staring at me, daring me. I scooped up a forkful of the rubbery yellow bumps. I lifted it to my mouth and a burp of nausea fluttered up my throat. Swallowing down the acidic after-taste, I steeled myself. The eggs slipped into my mouth and I had to fight the urge to shot put my breakfast with my tongue. 

The thought of taking a second bite was too much. I threw the meal away and ran upstairs. I know I had a deal with myself but I figured I would wait a bit longer. An hour later, I was sitting and I felt small thud in my stomach, like a cherry bomb had been detonated. Then there was this enormous feeling of peace and ease. My entire body relaxed into this euphoria. I was almost ready to ignore that small thud and take a nice long nap. I could sleep for days. But something urged me to go to the emergency room. No more time for delay. 

I hopped into a cab and made my way to Beth Israel Hospital. This would be my first trip to the emergency room in over 25 years. As the cab pulled up, two ambulance workers were taking out a patient on a gurney. They took one look at me and stopped in the middle of the street. 

Sir, are you all right?

Yes, I just feel a bit sick. It's kind of hot today.

Did I really look that bad? No, maybe that was my imagination. As I walked into the ER entrance I met a man who had that distinctive NYC homeless look of random clothes, wild hair, and a bodily funk of alcohol and sweat. 

You doing okay man?

I've had better days. 

I asked the clerk at the entrance a question. She looked up from her desk and took a moment to stare at me with bug eyes. What is with people today? Do I have a spear stuck in the side of my head?

She directed me to the ER sign-in room. It was a bright Sunday afternoon in New York City. The room was empty. I sat there and filled out the several required documents, trying to remember doctors, coverage plans, and 3rd grade arts teacher. The homeless man from outside staggered in and slumped down on a chair for a nap. 

I sat in the waiting room. It shouldn't be long now. There is no one else ahead of me. I visited the bathroom a few times, trying to induce vomiting, a bowel movement, anything to relieve this growing feeling. I came back into the waiting room and sat down. I tried to read but couldn't focus. I stared at the TV but it sounded like gibberish. A case worker called me to the desk to ask me if I had insurance. This would be a repeated theme throughout my visit. I would assure them that I did and they would suspiciously look at me.

Two hours later, I got to see a nurse. She stuck the electronic thermometer in my mouth and waited.

1-10, how much pain?

I'd say about a 6 or 7.

You have a fever?

Well...maybe a low grade. 

You have a 104 temperature.

Is that even possible?

Yes, that was a dumb question to ask but I don't recall anyone saying that 104 was a living temperature among the human species.  She made me lay down and then she put her hands on my belly and pressed down. When she released her hands, I experienced a pain so severe that I almost hit the roof. 

My appendix had been infected and enlarged the last few days. In fact the thumb-sized divot had swollen up to the size of a baby's foot on my x-rays. And it had began breaking up a few hours ago when I felt that small thud. It was leaking poison into my body, which was reacting with a nuclear fallout-type fever and shutting down all desire to eat or drink. 

Funny, the only thing I remember wasn't the physical pain of that week: it was the psychic fear of going to the emergency room. My ER-phobia was so great, that I had blocked out the extreme pain my body was undergoing.  Now normally, I'm not that tough. Paper cuts make me want to start drinking hard.  But in extreme cases, my mind can shut down pain. I have walked around on shredded ankles, shook off concussions before going back into a football game (something you should NEVER DO), even won a regional wrestling title on two badly injured knees and pure adrenaline. And this was an extreme case. The horror stories of ER were so greatly present in my decision-making that it had shut down the demands of my body which was beginning to go into numbing toxic shock. I was dying and still weighing alternatives to ER treatment at a major American hospital. 

I felt ashamed at myself for being so stupid. The ER doctor looked at my chart and summarized my case succinctly. "If you had waited a few more hours...." His voice trailed off. He didn't need to say anything else. I got it. On August 1, 2004 I escaped death by finally deciding to go to the ER. 

Beth Israel Hospital saved my life. Once I got past the phalanx of desks, case workers, and questionnaires, I was over to the other side of the health care wall: treatment. I was given a nice cool bed and lots of pain killers. Suddenly everything was wonderful. America is the best. I don't care what those Canadians say about their health insurance. France can kiss my ass. U-S-A, U-S-A! The air-conditioner was worth the price of admission. I felt like I was at a spa. 

The nurse asked in my purple haze: you have insurance right?

I nodded and continued humming a slow, soulful, drug-induced Negro spiritual. This orchestra wasn't going to conduct itself as my hands gently swayed out the rhythm. I wasn't trying to make a scene. I was so overjoyed. I felt free and I never wanted to leave this peace. The IV dripped out the sustenance. I wasn't hungry, I wasn't thirsty. I didn't have a worry in my head now that I was in the arms of Beth Israel and their loving staff and, yes I do have health insurance, thank you for asking me once again.  

Laid out on my 7-feet of heaven I sighed deeply into sleep. They mentioned that I had options but I was in another dimension. I could actually hear my body and mind at a deeper level. It wasn't consistent and it would come and go, but I could get glimpses into a deeper thoughts Transfixed by this I began having conversations with myself. I couldn't move my body and I was aware that my mind could leave my body and I could direct it.

This was years before discovering Buddhism, but I lifted my mind up above my body and tried to decide where to go. I was surrounded on all sides by white curtains. There was an elderly Black woman next to me. I could make out her face and body and believed she was wearing some sort of cheap wig. The doctors were trying to advise her on staying. She wasn't well. Something was wrong with her heart, but I couldn't focus on the exact diagnosis. It was bad and the doctor added an ominous tone to his words. 

My mind swooped over to the right side of the curtain. I looked at Grandma and wanted to give her a hug. She reminded me of Mema. A grandmother so innocent, loving, and humble. The doctor was trying to recommend that she stay. But she preferred to go home. On a deeper lever she felt unloved and, therefore, unworthy of this special treatment. Tears began rolling down my face. She felt that her life wasn't worth doctors, nurses, and expenses. Grandma, You are worth it, you are worth it! You have to stay here. If you go home, you're going to die. Suddenly, the undertones of the conversation became very clear to me: she was killing herself through neglect. 

The doctor was trying to save her, but realized he couldn't do anything in the long-run. It was a losing war. So he was negotiating to give her some more time. She didn't see the point in it all. Why won't she listen to him? Is it because he's a man? Is it because he's White? Is it because he's just a human being expressing concern and compassion and she's so unfamiliar with that? I wanted to rip back the curtains and hug her.  Then I remembered that I left my body back on the other side of the curtain back on my 7-feet of heaven. The doctor said he would be back in a few minutes. Left to herself, she began breathing audibly. I couldn't tell whether it was panting from fear, weeping, or a chorus of deep sighs. I wanted to embrace her so badly that it hurt. 

On my left side was a Black man in his 40s. I didn't like him. He was a liar and an addict. He was also a whiner. He was screaming for 'pain pills.' The doctors ripped the curtains back to his room and began giving him the rough treatment. The questions were accusatory daggers of hate.

When was the last time you used crack?

A few days ago.

When did your back and chest pains start?

A few days ago when I fell.

Where you smoking crack when you fell?

...I don't think so.

How long have you had HIV?

Since 1990.

When was the last time you did heroin?

I did NOT like this side of the room. Heroin and crack-addicted, HIV druggies didn't inspire as much love as Grandmothers. Something felt wrong about that, but I knew that morally I was in the clear. Society would agree with me and the doctors did as well. They conferred on the other side of curtain. Their decision was to discharge him as soon as possible. No pills. 

Suddenly I felt sad for him. He deserved love too. I didn't want to give him pills and I didn't want to embrace him. But I felt like he had been kicked out of enough places. Now he was going to get booted from the ER. 

Father past me there was another patient, but her story didn't interest me that much. I struggle to remember her voice and her case was forgettable to me. Plus, my mind-traveling powers were dissipating. I had exerted a lot of energy and I returned to my room.

Finally, a doctor came into my room. He was Asian and very young. I remembered the report from TV that August is the time of year for new hospital residencies. He had the white coat, clipboard, and official glasses. He looked the part of smart, competent, thorough. I could feel his nervousness. 

The young doctor addressed me as "Mr. Squire" which I found funny.  He said I could medicate this and hope the appendix hasn't fully ruptured. But odds, it has and that probably wouldn't be a full-solution. OR...I could have my appendix removed in emergency surgery. 

If you get surgery, there will be a scar.

I had a few waning moments of mental energy. I thought: quick, say something funny before you slip back down into the ether. Say something like...there goes my swimsuit career. Now you are very very 'out of it,' Aurin. So you have to muster the strength to produce these words. But it will be worth it. This will really impress them with how cool and quick you are. They'll like you as their funny patient. So I found some reserve strength and moved it into the direction of my lungs for word output, my lips for defining the sound. This is exhausting but it'll be totally worth it. Neck I'm going to need some support.

There goes my swimsuit career!

The young doctor seemed stunned by my reply and his face broke out in a broad smile. He started laughing and, for the first time, seemed comfortable. He marked something on his chart. There wasn't really a choice. I would need the surgery but they didn't want me to sue in case I didn't like my scar. 

I remembered to call one of my friends at school. I would have to tell them so I could have guests. I was always jealous of people who were visited in the hospital. I  always wanted to have guests visit me in the hospital, but lacked the required hospital bed and illness. My friends would have to be nice to me, maybe even bring me presents. Since I no longer celebrated my birthday with lavish public celebrations, this hospital visit would be like having a party in honor of me that would roll through the day. But unless I told someone, they wouldn't know. It was summer and school was out of session.

I asked a nurse to get the phone from my pocket. She did and I mustered up some strength to focus my eyes on the contact list. No energy for scrolling. I picked the first name: Amy Hemphill.  I dialed the number and got her voicemail. Not it would be very important to enunciate. My lip and face strength were gone from my 'witty' swimsuit comment. I would have to go very slow and take care to note the hospital. Concise, short words.

In my mind I left a message that said "Hello, Amy. This is Aurin. I am in Beth Israel Hospital. Appendix burst. Tell friends!"

Later on, Amy would tell me that the message I left was a confusing, meandering mess. She barely understood anything except hospital and had to go searching around to figure things out. But she did convey the message for my hospital party. Now that the surgery is set, party arrangements have been made, and the drugs have been renewed I could rest. My mind floated off once again.  I expected my surgery would be smooth and that when I awoke there would be a great big scar, a cadre of friends, and a bunch of funny tales about my ER experience. I didn't know that this would be just the beginning of a long, sad, bizarre, infuriating, hopeful tale of health care in America. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Trayvon Martin and Walking While Black

Keep moving. 

Don't stop. 

Don't make eye contact. 

I have felt like Trayvon Martin. Many many times while walking at night, being pulled over by police, being told that I'm not supposed to 'be.' My 'being' in a space has caused questions, concerns, suspicions. In the back of my mind I always wondered if there would be a reckoning. If my 'being' would become so intolerable to someone that they would try to end my existence, rather than engage in a conversation.  The only difference between me and Trayvon is that I am still here and he is not.  Still, the question lurks around the subconscious when I walk home every night from the subway and a police car slows down alongside me. The squad car slows down. Eyeballs examine my 'being' noticing any signs of anger, insanity, guilt. I continue walking, pretending to be oblivious. In most cases this is the best sign of innocence: by pretending to not notice.

Unlike myself, Trayvon physically noticed the accusation. He noticed the suspicion and dared to walk toward it. Stare at it, as he spoke with his girlfriend over the phone. Curious, as to who could be staring at him so intently he took a step in Zimmerman's direction. Staring directly at George Zimmerman before quickly walking away.

When I am walking in strange or dark surroundings I try to keep it moving. No time to stop. I hear my parents' voice of survival.

You don't know where this person is coming from.

You don't know what they want or what they're trying to get.

They could be trying to get into a fight. They could be trying to rob you. It could be a trap.

Keep it moving. 

 A few years ago I was headed home from the library. Two figures came out of a building and began pursuing me. From the corner of my eye, I saw that they were two tall football-muscular men in their 20s. They happened to be White. I keep my eyes on the path. They seemed to be trying to catch me.

I flipped up my collar and continued walking briskly. One of the men came alongside me.

Dude, do you have a lighter?

No, I don't smoke.

Stupid nigger.

I continued walking very quickly. This felt like a trap of some sort. I was supposed to react to it. Turn around and get in a fight with two bigger stronger men who seemed worked up about something. I was supposed to turn and scream 'murder' or swing at one of them. I was supposed to react and give them something. I picked up my pace and kept walking. I made sure not to run, but I never made eye contact. The goal was to get home. I was not going to be swayed by a 'word' that was intended to arouse my rage. 

The two men eventually trailed off, seeing that I was unwilling to take the bait. Perhaps they found a Mexican, Asian, or another Black man that night. I wasn't going to be 'their one.'

On another occasion a cab driver seemed to go out of his way just so he could spit on my path and give me a murderous look. I was walking down the street carrying my airport luggage.

I could name other incidents of walking while Black: the police slow-downs, pull-overs, suspicious looks. It's all the same because my reaction has to be measured and numb. I pretend not to notice and keep eyes fixed straight ahead.  Hands out of pockets and swinging along my side. Maybe I'll start singing. A guilty man wouldn't sing, would he?

More and more the last few years when I find myself WWB, a sad smile comes across my face.After all these years, you're still looking for that sign of suspicion. It's not here. I'm innocent. There is nothing wrong with me. I'm just a Black man out for a walk.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Keys to the Logic Machine

Master Dignaga (540 AD)

After having thoroughly digested Tao Open and secret sayings, returning to basic psychology, delving into quantum physics theories on images, and beginning studies on A Course in Miracles the past year, I'm revisiting one of my favorite studies: Buddhist logic. I'm re-listening to courses on the Asian Classics Institute ( I've gone through all the teachings, the homework, quizzes, and final exams for the first 15 courses. Yet, I've found myself returning again and again to ACI Course 13: The Art of Reasoning. 

The Art of Reasoning deals with The Commentary on Valid Perception by Master Dharmakirti (650 AD).  The big founder of Buddhist logic was Master Dignaga (480-540 AD). Master Dignaga laid out the rules for debate, logic, and how to get to the direct perception of emptiness. After his passing, people started questioning the purpose of logic and Master Dharmakirti came along and wrote the principle commentary. Valid perception is a code word for the ultimate aim of Master Dignaga.  

Master Dharmakirti (650 AD)

But even the commentary is so difficult to understand that then a Tibetan commentary was written about the commentary. Keys to the Logic Machine by Purbuchok Jampa Tsultrim Gyatso (1825- 1901)is one of the latest commentaries for students in 20th and 21st century. These teachings have been translated by Geshe Michael Roach, who teaches the subject like a true master.

Purbuchok Jampa was the teacher for the 13th Dalai Lama, the one who foretold of the collapse of Tibet decades before it happened when he was in his strongest position. 

Logic is very difficult. It requires a high degree of concentration and focus. Even over the course of studying ACI 13 the past few years, I have noticed how my understanding shifts, ascends, and deteriorates depending on my ethics and how well I'm keeping my vows. I have literally re-read passages of sections I believed I understood, and not even been able to understand what it was saying a week later. Then I have tightened my vows and watched my understanding return. At the very least, it made me aware of how fluid my mental capacities are, and how easily I can slip. It's a lot easier to slip in understanding than to climb back up the mountain.

Logic is also very difficult because they say it's the key to direct valid perception of truth. It's very easy for me to slip back into the world of judgment and duality. Over the last week I have been preparing myself. I shut down on my news watching, sports, ignorant reactions and actions. I've re-upped my daily meditations, trimmed my diet to only what's necessary as fuel, and I'm now working out at the gym so I have a stronger more flexible body and mind. With that in mind, I delve back into this very simple (but not easy) path. 

The most striking thing about Keys to the Logic Machine is that it has a few functions 1) see emptiness or direct valid perception 2) stop judging people 3)keep teachings of logic safe in world. All three are related to valid perception of reality. And in order to understand that object of indivisibility, I have to work with mental images. Mental images are the things I stick on top of stuff and mistake for the actual thing: i.e. every person and thing in my universe. 

Now returning to this subject with some understanding of quantum physics and wave functions, I'm beginning to look at the Buddhist analysis of images. 

In physics there are two basic mediums of energy: wave or particle. Essentially we're talking about the difference between a potential (wave) and a point (particle). My understanding is that a wave is non-local (or very close to it) while the particle is local. Waves operate in the zero-pt field of energy, where all energy plays and "appears" to move, start, and stop. They say consciousness collapses wave potential of a non-local energy into a particle or point. This happens at a subtle level but is applicable in all situations. 

For example, I am walking down the street yesterday and I see this object. It's not clear to me what this is. It's close to the ground. As I get closer I notice its furry. It is a wave potential of 'cat.' It's 'cat-ness.' As I get closer to my focus it shifts and clearly becomes 'a cat.' It shifts from wave awareness, to a particle. The mind takes it from 'cat' to 'a cat.' My view of 'a cat' is based on my previous views of cat. In fact, I'm never seeing the cat in front of me. I'm always seeing my mental image of 'a cat' from my mind. 

To scientists and visual artists, this seems obvious. But according to quantum physics, that is the universe. And in Buddhism, it is the study of how mental images work is the key to opening the mind (logic machine). Studying mental images isn't the end goal. But once I truly understand them, then I begin to understand dependent origination and work my way back to valid perception. 

In A Course in Miracles they state that all learning goes along this path. From duality to non-duality and finally pure non-duality. In pure non-duality there is no separation between Subject and Object. The verb is merely a loop feed action of the conscious mind. In poetic terms, every person and object in the dream is a reflection of the dreamer. There is no second dreamer influencing my dreams. The nightmares and monsters are a reflection of me. My consciousness is subject and object. Well in waking life there is a loop feed like in a dream. The subject (me) and the object (out there) are coming from same feed because the object is a mental image from me. That doesn't mean I let anything happen in my world because it's all from me. I try to challenge and shift the monsters in my dreams, but with the awareness that I am playing a role in its creation. There is no monster machine below ground that is making the painful things in my world or dreams. 

What's remarkable is that science and religion agree. From Jesus to Buddha to Einstein, they all agree there is a holographic universe. The universe is a holograph and holds the principles of a holograph. Holograph depend on a surface that shoots out images. Each part of a holograph is the same as all other parts, because they're not real. They are things projected on to a screen. The purpose of analyzing the holograph isn't to make better 'fake images.' But to see reality and wake up from the dream. The dream goes up and down, causes pain and happiness, but it follows the inconsistency of the holographic plate. There is nothing to this holographic 'dream' universe but to wake up from it. There is no other reason. 

The reason I'm here is to undo all of my guilt and mistakes according to A Course in Miracles. The best way to undo them is to practice this forgiveness with the understanding that I'm only forgiving another part of the dream that is coming from me. Ultimately I am forgiving myself and undoing all my guilt. I am forgiving the nightmare I created as a way to end the karma of guilt. But to do that effectively, I must know the aspects of my mental images and dreams. I have to truly understand the way things collapse from waves to particle, from non-local to local, and from a general type to a specific object. 

I'm hoping to get in deeper with this and blend it with quantum physics holographic studies. We will see how this goes. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Cartoons and Philosophy

This episode of The Pink Panther is a classic. It shows the ridiculousness of duality in a cute, digestible animated short. The clip was posted on the Non-duality Network and it transported me back to my childhood. The Pink Panther overcomes the stubborn painter until the entire world is changed. Love overcomes the anger and easily transforms it. The more will is exerted, the quicker Pink Panther progresses into a world of his own choosing.

I love cartoons, especially in their 60s and 70s heyday. Back then, the animation houses were filled with burnt-out philosophers, avant garde artists, and new-age, draft dodging weirdos. Parents would sit their kids in front of the TV and, unknowingly, educate them in Zen philosophy, Gandhi's peace protests, and the futility of violence. Growing up in the 1980s, we got a lot of the leftovers and repeats from that era.

Tom & Jerry, The Roadrunner, and Bugs Bunny made classics that featured villains blindly trying to exert their will on the willy and playful universe. The playful universe -often embodied as a juxtaposed character- would simply subvert, frustrate, and overcome the stubborn blind will. I don't think there's a better teacher for children on the idiocy of violence than watching Jerry repeatedly defeat Tom, or the Coyote who purchases ACME dynamite only to see it blow up in his face while the Roadrunner darts by, completely oblivious. Elmer Fudd's hunting for years and never catching one single animal (much less the smart-mouthed rabbit) is something I can see an anti-Vietnam hippy coming up with late at night in between tokes .

Dude, he never catches the rabbit. (puff puff)

Not even once. (puff puff)

Nah, never. (puff puff) Fucking asshole.


Pink Panther wasn't one of my favorite cartoons. If it was on, I would tolerate it. But most of the time I would look to see what else was on. From a visual standpoint, I didn't like the color pink. It wasn't because I was a boy, but the color irritated my eyes and reminded me on inflammation and Pepto Bismol. My sister's room was painted pink and it was one of the most effective deterrents from snooping around her stuff. Everything about that pink room annoyed me and I wondered how she could sleep in a giant esophagus.

But Pink Panther was a part of that arty European-looking minimalist stuff with jazz music. Along with Peppy Le Pew, there were these cartoons I was aware of as being 'arty' as a child. I appreciated them more than I laughed at the antics and looked forward to growing up and watching it again with some perspective.

If a college offered a major in cartoon philosophy, I think the graduating students would be a lot more insightful, mentally flexible, and innovative than most philosophy and poli-sci students. Most importantly, I think our society can learn philosophy, see how its applied in absurd situations, and laugh. Laughter is an excellent learning tool. In our insane political environment of outrage, I'm learning to laugh more, not take the so-called 'enemy' so seriously, and to re-indulge in cartoons for inspiration. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

A Pill for Racists

Is this the cure for racism, sexism, or homophobia? Probably not, but Oxford University scientist say that the common heart disease drug, propranolol (40 mg), does show signs of shifting discriminatory thoughts in individuals that's above statistical error.

In an environment of increasing hostility, coercion, and fear, maybe we should all take two and see how we feel in the morning. If we use drugs to treat restless legs, why not racist heads?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

"A Separation": Modern Tragedy

I couldn't wait. Stereotype of the loud Black moviegoer be damned! I needed to get a million ideas out. As the movie credits rolled, they all came rushing out. 

My friend and I immediately launched into a heated debate/discussion/comparison of what we saw. The conversation spilled out into the hallway, up the stairs, out Lincoln Center Movies, and up the street for several blocks. The only reason we stopped talking was to look for a place to sit down so we could continue arguing about the movie. 

"A Separation" isn't just a seasonal movie, but one of the most powerful movies of this generation. The story isn't a drama or suspenseful in the usual ways. It's aim is a lot higher and it hits the mark most of the time. "A Separation" is a tragedy. 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Beer for Breakfast

We pushed all our bottled into the middle of the room. It was December and around the holidays. I was a senior in college. Before leaving for home, my friends and I thought it would be a good idea to drink all the liquor in our rooms. Our logic was that we needed to clean our living space and we would start by emptying the alcohol down our throats.

It was a friendly evening of drinking and talking. The vodka made us into world-class storytellers. The rum made us laugh. The gin made us a captive and engaged audience for each. I felt like I was in a Hemingway novel. We were all so macho, confident, and at east with recounting tales from childhood, trying to outdo each other while the bottles slowly drained.

Friday, March 2, 2012

GET WHAT YOU WANT: March Playwriting Opps

March 2012 List of Contests and Competitions for playwrights

Orange Hanky Production Call for New Plays
Deadline: rolling

Orange Hanky Productions is accepting submissions of original gay plays for our sixth reading series this June.

Orange Hanky’s mission is to produce original plays which raise the bar on gay theater, tackling the issues facing gay people in a truthful, raw and fresh way. OHP seeks out plays which break new ground in the representation of gay characters, plays in which simply being gay is not in and of itself the conflict. Orange Hanky’s productions present situations which are uniquely gay but are motivated by needs and fears which resonate with everyone, regardless
of sexuality.

Submitted plays should be between one and two hours in length, and must contain significant LGBT content. Please, per our mission statement, no plays dealing with being in the closet or coming out.
Plays may have had prior readings and workshops, but must never have had a production in New York.

To apply, please email to your script and, in a separate document, a cover letter, including your contact information, the title of the play, a brief description of the piece, and (if applicable) the play’s previous reading, workshop and non-NY
production history.

For more information, visit our website at

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