Apparently in Astrology there is a phenomenon that every person supposedly goes through between ages 27 and 29 called “Saturn’s Return”, named after the approximate amount of time it takes for Saturn to orbit once around the sun. At this time, every person supposedly goes through a major experience in their life dealing with their mortality, which transforms them leaving youth behind to enter the next phase of adulthood. The experience during my own Saturn’s Return not surprisingly dealt with my obsessive control issues involving sexual performance.
There were a number of destructive behaviors I engaged in at that time in my life. The first was I was wearing myself out practicing my sexual control techniques while watching porn. I also was not very consistent using protection with partners. I had gotten used to having unprotected sex with one person I was seeing, but I soon got caught up in destructively employing my “opposite game” philosophy to put more notches on my sexual conquest belt. Generally, I usually was not very promiscuous on the road touring with various bands as a NYC freelance trombonist. As mentioned earlier, because of my earlier unsuccessful rate at picking up girls and my superstitious tendencies, I often found if I brought condoms on tour, I usually would not “get any”. However this time I happened to not bring anything, and got lucky.
Long story short, despite calling around hotel rooms of other band members for condoms and not finding any, the girl convinced me she was clean and we had unprotected sex. The next week I went back to having unprotected sex with the girl I was seeing at home and I didn’t tell her about what I did the previous weekend for fear of her getting mad at me even though we were not, like so many other of my past relationships, officially committed. It was probably the most selfish thing I had ever done. I rationalized in my head that both girls were safe. I stressed myself out, and consequently pleasured myself with porn to make myself feel better and to get more practice with my techniques so I could perform so well as to makeup for any health risk she did not know I was putting her in.
I suppose I was so obsessive about sexual control, and selfish and foolish about my promiscuity, partly because I thought no matter how well I performed as an entertainer, what really mattered was my performance in bed. So after that busy and full week of sex and masturbation trying to develop my chi and stressing out my urological system in general, one morning I woke up with a pain in my penis. When I urinated it stung a little bit. I went on the Internet and it seemed like it might have been Chlamydia. It was father’s day and I called my dad, and he told me to relax and go the emergency room at Harlem hospital, because he said they were the fastest. I told the doctor what I felt. He swabbed my urethra with a q-tip to test for any diseases which hurt like hell. He then gave me a chalky liquid to drink to knock out any possible STD I might have had until they got the tests back.
I was such a jerk. That day I called the girl I was seeing and told her to get checked out that I might have something, that I may have gotten it from her. I also called the girl I met from the festival. Both claimed they were clean. I was so suspicious and paranoid. I was convinced someone was lying. While searching to find someone else to blame, I beat myself up for putting myself at risk. I should never have unprotected sex anyway, or at least wait until I was in a really committed relationship (and even then it’s not always a guarantee). Catching STD’s in my head became the new “catching someone else’ brain”. And yet I could not resist the contradicting philosophy or neediness that I needed female sexual contact, and fully sexually prove myself to women to prove my self worth. I became obsessed. While the girl remained really understanding, in the back of my head, I felt awful for not admitting I had slept with someone.
When I got the results back the next week, it turned out that there was no trace of Chlamydia or anything else. They only diagnosed it as only a urinary tract infection. I dodged a bullet. I continued to see the girl, but any time we would both end up being slightly unsafe, I thought I would feel some pain down there. What I was not taking into account was my obsessive practicing of my sexual techniques that in excess were stressing out my urological system, and my tendency to psychosomatically feel like I would always catch stuff instantly from anything. I started freaking out and accusing the girl of cheating on me. I was simultaneously inconsolably paranoid and guilty at the same time. I would accuse her of infidelity when it was really myself I was worried about and feeling guilty for never telling her about the past. I eventually went to see a urologist at Presbyterian who said I had “Prostatitis”, inflammation of the prostate which because of the way the nerves are constructed can make it so one can feel discomfort in the penis. He recommended to just take warm baths, stay away from spicy food, and take some ibuprofen. It eventually went away but then it came back later that year. I started crying. What seemed to happen was that anytime I became stressed I would feel this slight cramping ache in my prostate and feel slightly uncomfortable while urinating. I kept thinking I must have caught something from someone. I became an extreme sexual hypochondriac even afraid I might catch something from just enjoying porn, my most prized vice.
Since my condition seemed more mental than physical my parents sent me to a psychiatrist who had helped them with therapy when my sister passed. I had never gone to therapy before and was resistant. After a session, he put me on a mood stabilizer Lamactil and said I had “unresolved guilt about Melody’s death”. While I knew that maybe I never properly mourned, I kind of felt a lot of my control issues had just as much to do with my hypercompetitive childhood issues way before my sister. I only went to three sessions with him, and I felt like I had gotten the gist and didn’t want to go anymore. I took the three-week Lamactil regiment but never had it again. As good of a point as the psychiatrist made, I felt like there was more here going on than just issues about my sister.
Still it seemed over the next two years I would get a relapse of this prostatitis, around the same time of year each time less severe but aggravating enough to think that I might have something. Finally my urologist said that some people who get prostatitis in their late 20’s like I was are usually “type A” personalities who are going through something, and it eventually works itself out becoming less and less of an issue. Hearing him say this made me think about how I never told that girl that I cheated on her and it was me that had potentially given her something. I finally called the girl to admit what I had done two years ago. I felt somewhat purged but still awful and guilty for not saying something sooner. Still I was extremely grateful that my actions did not hurt her physical health or mine. I really dodged a bullet.
To some this mysterious “prostatitis” might sound like not a big deal, but to me it represented what I thought was a sign of something worse, of eventual impotency, or just not ever being able to enjoy sex without guilt or consequences or losing the status sex could bring me, which in my mind at that time might as well have been death. The last time I felt those familiar prostate feelings, and how that was The third year in a row I felt the symptoms, I finally took note of the same time of year – early summer – which was around the time of my sister’s death. Regardless of how safe or abstinent I was, they always seemed to come back at this time though with less intensity. While lying in my parent’s backyard depressed with my latest psychosomatic symptoms, during my 29th year on this Earth, I looked up and saw the stone cat that said “melody’s garden” placed over some flowers my mom planted in the yard in her memory. I started crying intensely, and went inside the house and spilled my guts to my mom about how I felt guilty for not being more upset about her death when it happened, about not being a more caring brother, about not feeling closer, about being half relieved for not having to wonder how I would have to look after her after my parents would pass. I know I would have found a way, but I just felt guilty for feeling those incredibly self-centered feelings. I also realized that I was feeling guilty that I was going to live longer than her that year, or that maybe just maybe I would die before I would turn 30 like she did when she was 29. After admitting those last realizations, eight years after my sister’s death, my prostatits symptoms never returned.
It took my Saturn’s return to curb my obsession about sexual control. I no longer beat myself up nearly as much if I did not perform well. I just let it go, knowing that it might have been an off night, that I deserve to have off nights, and that there will be better ones in the future. In hindsight, it was strange how much kinder I was to myself (though not much) when it came to performing on stage than in my relationships. Since I felt I had to fix all of the bad intimate and commitment karma I collected over the years. So in the next relationship I tried to be the best boyfriend I could be. It only lasted a year because I tried too hard to be perfect. I went the other way, over extending myself to please her and not being more assertive or insistent about what I wanted as much in return, afraid that I either did not deserve it or that I would be considered a needy insecure boyfriend. Besides, maybe I deserved to sacrifice myself for a while to atone for all the years of being selfish. I ended up breaking it off, wanting to see other people and be promiscuous again going back to thinking that I was not meant for monogamy. After another bout of bouncing around, I felt empty and realized spreading myself too thin was not the answer either.
Since then I have had a string of fairly short lasting relationships that might have developed into something but never went anywhere mostly because I have not been willing to invest time I felt was needed for my career and writing this book. And with that sentiment I suppose that has really been my main modus operandi when it has come to relationships, rituals, or in my life. Working on my career, on my art, in many ways has been a method of delaying gratification when it comes to enjoying and living the rest of my life outside of my craft(s). I always figured that if I work hard enough, delaying the pleasure and gratification of “hanging out” or “partying” I will either become rich or successful enough to do those things later without having to work as hard to earn a living or worry about status. I have always rolled the dice in delaying the gratification of making lasting bonds and relationships with people so that I could hopefully become a rich and famous artist.
As I get older, as my dreams of becoming rich and famous seem more out of reach and less likely, I see myself, out of survival and preserving my own ego, downgrading them to dreams of being financially stable enough to raise a family. And now that I am into my mid 30’s, I am wondering if I should downgrade I further and just enjoy myself as a lower income stable enough for a single guy artist living in a messy studio apartment. While I could see myself having kids, it is in the same part of my mind that thought I would have at least been a more accomplished musician and entertainer by now. And yet I know, all things being said, I am extremely blessed to make a living and support myself doing what I love in music. Sometimes I worry I have gotten to used to be living alone to ever really be able to be in a long lasting relationship.
Listening to music that I loved in the past, especially songs that I remember loving as a child or even in college, I often imagined how certain songs would play in the soundtrack of possible events and dreams yet to be fulfilled in my future. After so many years, sometimes some songs do not give me the same excitement I felt when I was younger. Sometimes I like the memory of how I used to feel about those. Especially when having to perform certain songs over and over again, some times I feel a melancholy realizing that I am living a very different life from the one I imagined I would live when performing the same song so many years ago. Still on the other hand, with the memory of old dreams, and the flexibility of creating new ones, I feel I have a new ability to take chances when I perform or dance to these classic songs from my past. I can be an irreverent caricature of an old serious dream, poking fun at it. An old dream with a broken heart, when recycled, is often creative comic or passionately urgently expressive gold. Because it is so hard to stop the pattern of heartbreak, of being a loner, of feeling angst to fuel my creative fire, it has sometimes been a struggle to let love and high expectations into my heart. In other words, as much as I have always wanted deep down to be included and liked, I have grown addicted to being disappointed and heartbroken because I’m afraid of not knowing what I will end up creating with such hope and trust in my fellow man and woman. And yet maybe now more than ever in my life, I feel I am ready to take a different plunge to create and feel something new.
In many ways the last five years, especially the last since my AGT run, I feel like I’ve been caught in my own Groundhog’s Day, the movie where Bill Murray’s character lives the same day over and over again. Every day I work on myself and my career and my personal relationships and time away from career takes a backseat. Every weekend I entertain people at weddings and they react to my trombone dancing the same way. Every R&B and band gig I have to deal with the same social dynamics as a working class horn player. And I feel like my talent is slightly wasted on small audiences and relatively less talented peers. I try to do my “Big 4” everyday – work out, sing, practice trombone, and write – hoping that if I keep up all four everyday for as long as I can, one of them is going to break through to send me into the national/international spotlight and bring me to the next plateau to show me where I am supposed to be and my purpose in life. Staying creative, staying sensual, has been my only way to feel like I have purpose. Friendships and relationships, aside from my parents, I feel have not been reliable to define my purpose. And all I want to do right now in my life is feel like I’m fulfilling a purpose.
I suppose one reason I took on writing on this book was because it was my sensual way, my creative way, to open myself up in a way I felt like I had not been able to do with my past relationships. If I am never able to fall in love or commit and create a relationship or raise children, I figure I could at least share myself with the world or with anyone who reads this. Maybe writing this is really my own way to make love as a creative mind with whomever reads this. Writing this book has been a way to share myself, and an idea about how to relate to people I wish I had used much sooner in my life. If I did, maybe I would have enjoyed my high school and college days while I was in high school and college instead of trying to relive them in my 30’s or even later. Maybe I just need to let go of trying to be younger than I am, of trying to enjoy or be something that seems trapped in a bitter past. Instead of trying to control every outcome for fear of being judged as less than perfect, I am growing into the idea that I will always be imperfect and should enjoy it in spite of whatever symbols that exist around me and inside of my head that try to tell me differently. Singing may not be my best talent, but I’m singing now anyway in addition to everything else. I may not be the best lover but I’m going to love. And while people may continue to laugh at my dancing trombone routines, I will continue to take them seriously, but not too seriously that I can’t join in cracking a smile. And perhaps instead of being so concerned about becoming a rich and famous entertainer, by writing this book, I can just give back, sharing the knowledge and experiences I have gained to this point, which on their own might prove useful to others for doing something greater than I could ever imagine doing on my own.
Table of Contents
Part I – My Material (Physically Having) History
- Chapter 1 – Race, Money, Fashion
- Chapter 2 – Plants, Pets, and Education
- Chapter 3 – Jobs
- Chapter 4 – Connections, Opportunities, Genetics
Part II – My Sensual (Feeling) History
- Chapter 5 – The Satin Edge
- Chapter 6 – Gifted, Hyper Competitive, and Overly Sensitive
- Chapter 7 – Puppy Love and Status
- Chapter 8 – Busy-ness as Salvation
- Chapter 9 – Karate and Self Image
- Chapter 10 – Homophobia and Musical Expression
- Chapter 11 – Digging a Pond, High School, and Music Camp
- Chapter 12 – Heterosexuality, Self Esteem, Avon Fashion
- Chapter 13 – The Opposite Game, College, and Sex
- Chapter 14 – Cruise Ships, Internet, and Control
- Chapter 15 – Saturn’s Return, Delayed Gratification, and Aging Dreams