*I just posted this, then went over to link up to Just Write via Heather of the EO. And found her post about addiction, recovery, and the public response to Mr. Hoffman’s passing. You know, you should really go read her post, not mine.

This one was a sucker punch.

Of course I didn’t expect it, because I didn’t know him past his work, but hearing that Philip Seymour Hoffman died was shocking and painful, like I’d been clobbered from behind.

I felt bad for the usual reasons. He had kids, people said he was a kind man, a good dad.  He talked openly about his addictions, recovery, relapse, and I’m sure (sure as I can be about someone I never met) that he never would have brought this pain to his family if he’d had the slightest choice. Sure he could not help himself, or he would have.

But as a fan, all I really knew about him was his work, which I found riveting and honest. He never gave a poor performance, nor a boring one. Even in showy roles, he created a real person before your eyes. He was marvelous in everything: Capote, The Savages, Magnolia, Boogie Nights, Flawless, Almost Famous

I saw him onstage twice in great plays, both times from the front row, and both times he was mesmerizing. That last play was Death of a Salesman, and critics were pretty much of a mind — he was excellent, yet too young to be playing Willie, a character too beaten by life to face another day.

Philip Seymour Hoffman died of an overdose, not suicide. But I guess he also got to that point when he couldn’t face another day — and that point was the unknown second that he lost his sobriety, after decades clean.


That’s so frightening, the idea that someone in recovery is never safe. That his or her family can never draw a deep breath, can never relax and know trouble is past.


**This was supposed to be a ten minute Just Write post, but I’ve been sitting for far longer, just trying not to come off as a presumptuous idiot. Writing about someone I never met, about an addiction I’ve never experienced. I didn’t edit or write for more than ten minutes, I just stared at the screen slackjawed a lot. What the f*ck; I’m hitting print. 

***I plan on writing funny again at some point in the near future. No more posts about health insurance either.

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This is what I wrote as an assignment in free-writing for Heather’s class. I promised myself I’d start posting on Just Write Tuesdays, and so I will. Click on the links if you don’t know what I’m talking about. I’ll hum to myself while I wait. Mmmmm mmmmm mmmmm…A Positive pregnancy test based on a First Res...
I am peeing on the stick in a Starbucks bathroom. Somehow I decided on the subway that I had to have an answer to the extremely important “pregnant: yes or no” question before I got to work that night. So I ran from the ubiquitous Duane Reed to the omni-present Starbucks, where I locked myself into the bathroom. (Maybe the only positive to these giant megalochains is that they make extremely personal tasks easier to perform. Buying condoms, pregnancy tests or hemorrhoid cream is way less intimidating when you’re not greeted by name at the register.)
Stick soaked, I blot it off and look for a place to set it. The flattest place is on top of the toilet paper dispenser, so there it goes. I remember deciding NOT to look at the stick while it was… um… working. I’m not usually superstitious, but I didn’t want to jinx it, I guess. This wasn’t planned, but if I ended up pregnant, I would get to be a mom, which I so wanted to be. I didn’t know how Phin would react, but… I stopped myself from making that mental trip, from loading up that moment with worry. Just wait it out. (Phin = sperm producer/boyfriend/significant other)
I can’t believe no one is knocking on the door. When do you ever get two minutes to yourself in a Starbucks bathroom? Maybe it’s a sign. Don’t be an idiot. But don’t mean to yourself — you might be a mom. Be positive.
My heart has moved somewhere between my upper chest and my esophagus. I can hear it pounding in my ears. I reach for the stick, then close my eyes so I don’t catch a sidelong glance at it. Then I open them and see… (I can’t believe I don’t remember — was it a blue line? Two lines? A plus? I think it was two blue lines. Let’s go with 2 blue lines, now that I’ve clearly killed the momentum) two blue lines**. I. am. Pregnant. I am pregnant!
Ohmygod, ohmygod. I gather my stuff: purse, giant anvil of a backpack filled with tutoring materials, blue pee stick, and leave the bathroom. I calmly order a coffee. Despite the roiling maelstrom in my brain, I know I look stoic. In times of crisis and exultation, I’m Spock. (That’s a topic for another day: what about my upbringing taught me not to uncork my emotions? Why does everything travel to my brain before my gut?)
I flash on images: tiny fingers wrapped around my thumb, touching skin so soft I can barely feel it against the pads of my fingers. I feel fleeting jabs of ecstasy, then terror. But I’m sure my face shows nothing, except maybe the trace of a Mona Lisa smile.


**Edited to add: It was two pink lines, as depicted above. Who cares? The teeny minority who both read my blog and are driven crazy by that kind of mistake, that’s who. Enhanced by Zemanta


I just finished a four night, online, free-writing class taught (and when I say taught, I mean gently, lovingly, engagingly coached) by Heather of the Extraordinary Ordinary. That wasn’t very clear. It was a class about Free-Writing, not a free class (at 39 bucks, it was practically free, but cost just enough to insure you’d get behind your computer on time).

Heather defined free-writing as writing vividly from emotion, not intellect. She talked about tapping into her heart/gut place. I don’t want to paraphrase and muddy what was perfectly clear and inspiring in the moment.

Also, for those like myself with advanced postgraduate degrees in Procrastination Studies, there was only one ten minute assignment to complete. And the other members of the class seemed like great people. If we could all teleport to a coffee shop, I’d love to meet weekly as a writer’s group.

I don’t know when the class will be offered again, but here’s a link to the class I took. Thanks Heather! Now I will try to post on Just Write Tuesdays.